Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review - Thursday 5/12

** No pictures for these books. Apparently, Blogger is having issues so I am going to try to just email my post to the blog and hope it shows up by the morning. I'm off to read! :) **
This week, I finished 2 books and I am well on my way in the next 2 in line!
The Icing on the Corpse by Mary Jane Maffini is the second book in the Camilla McPhee series. This book is set in Ottawa and follows Camilla is a lawyer who lost her husband and went to work for victims' rights at the Justice for Victims office. Her new client is Lindsey who is in hiding after putting her abusive boyfriend, Ralph, behind bars and Camilla and Elaine, a friend and the Executive Director of "Women Against Violence Everywhere, are doing everything they can to help and support Lindsey.
The book opens the morning of a court date for Ralph and once Camilla gets into her office, she learns that he has escaped. After less than a day on the run, Ralph's ex-wife is dead, Lindsey is hiding a few secrets of her own and Elaine is held without bond and accused of Ralph's murder. Even though Elaine is innocent, she confesses to the murder on TV seemingly bringing the case to a close. This is where Camilla steps in with her irritatingly moody assistant, Alvin, and her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Parnell, to prove Elaine's innocence and find the real killer before it is too late. And preferably before her sister's wedding which is less than 2 weeks away.
Usually, it takes me several days to get into books when I actually read the book and not listen to it on the iPod, but with this book, I was hooked by the end of the first chapter! There was a lot of action almost as soon as the book began with Ralph's escape from police custody and then Camilla's realization that Ralph could be following her to Lindsey's apartment. Once she stops and goes back to her office, she has the bright idea of switching places with Alvin and sending him out in her car while she walks to get a ride to Lindsey's home. Eventually, she is on a call with Alvin when he realizes he is being followed and she listens while Alvin runs her car into a government gate and gets arrested! Considering how Alvin never listens to her, it had me giggling!
I know I keep saying this about a lot of the books that I have read recently, but the quirky characters get me every time! Alvin ends up being a big help in gathering information and acting as a sounding board for Camilla as does her neighbor, Mrs. Parnell, who is a past undercover agent in a war and who delights in sharing her Harvey's Bristol Cream with anyone who is available at any time. Throw in Camilla's 3 sisters who don't understand that Camilla works for a living and doesn't just sit around waiting for their phone calls to drop everything she might be doing at a moments notice and you have quite a circus!
And speaking of a circus….
The other book that I finished this week is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The book begins when Jacob Jankowski is "90 or 93," he can't remember. He is in a nursing home and there is a circus setting up nearby. He begins to reminisce … Jacob is in his early 20's and in his final weeks of veterinary school at Cornell when he learns that his parents have been killed in a car accident. He also gets the shock of learning that because of the Great Depression and his education, there is no money left and the house he grew up in as well as his father's veterinary office is now owned by the bank. Lost in his grief, Jacob ends up jumping a train and discovers that it is a circus train the following morning. He makes friends with some of the roustabouts and Camel gets him hired on to help with the 'menagerie' of animals because of his veterinary skills. Helping with the menagerie means working for August who has a terrible mean streak when he thinks he has been wronged and he also has a terrible way with the animals. It also means helping with the animals in Marlena's acts and trying to keep a respectful distance from her due to her being married to August.
I thought that this book was awesome! I think that the times where it jumped back and forth between the elderly Jacob and the younger Jacob made sense and didn't break the story up the way that it can in some books. I almost cried several times when August took his anger out on Rosie the elephant and also at the end of the last night on the train. As short as the book was, I was really able to feel a connection with a lot of the characters and the way that some of the story lines were wrapped up was a bit upsetting because of that.
There was a question and answer section with the author at the end of the hard copy book where she explained that there were stories that she found in her research and then added to the book. It was interesting to think that these things happened at one time or another. Of course, when she talked about having to put down an elephant who had killed 3 people in the early 1900's, I stopped reading so I am not sure what else she had to say in the Q&A.
I would highly recommend both of these books!


carolyn gibbons said...

but what a terriffic ending!!!

Carolyn (from SC)

Vicky said...

I think I'm the only person in the world who didn't care for the book. I finished it, but skipped many parts of it that I just couldn't stomach to read. And there were a couple of other things that could have been totally left out. JM2C