The Quilter’s Apprentice

The Quilter's Apprentice

Jennifer Chiaverini
I picked this book up on impulse – it looked interesting, and I’ve had quilting on the brain lately – and was instantly hooked. Some of the formatting is annoying, specifically the lack of quotation marks in the ‘flashback’ sequences, but it does a good job of meshing lessons in quilting technique with the plot.

The story is a simple one, a young couple moves from a Pennsylvania college town to another town a bit farther away, because the husband, who has a degree in landscape engineering, has been offered a permanent stable position, and the wife has recently come to realize she hates her job as an accountant.

The husband’s clients include the owner of an estate that used to be owned by a horse breeder, and the wife bonds with the sister of the dead owner, who agrees to teach her how to quilt. From that point, the narrative is interrupted by flashbacks from the woman in charge of the estate, as well as quilting lessons.

There are, apparently, other novels in the series, as well as a website where you can see the quilts mentioned

in the story (some are ugly).

The Well of Lost Plots

The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next Series)
Jasper Fforde
The thing about Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series is that, while they’re entertaining if you only read modern literature, they’re even more entertaining if you have a thorough grounding in the classics.

The Well of Lost Plots, the third installment in the life and times of Ms. Next, is just as much fun as the first two books in the series – so much so that I don’t know why I waited so long to read it.

In a sense, it’s the ultimate crossover – what else would you call a novel that mixes original characters with visitors from Dickens, the Bronte sisters, and even a cameo by a certain bleached-blonde vampire named Spike?

But being a crossover doesn’t make it any less smart, or make the plot turns any less convoluted.

Highly recommended, especially to English majors.

Citizen Girl

Citizen Girl

Two years ago, this same writing team of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Klaus offered the world a novel called The Nanny Diaries, which I read, and found delightful, so I thought picking up their second title, Citizen Girl, would be safe enough.

Wow, was I wrong.

It wasn’t just that the title character was known as Girl, and that her boss was the too-cute Guy, it was that none of the characters seemed three-dimensional, with the possible exception of the sixteen-year-old little brother who graced a couple of scenes.

If the cheery red cover sporting a latte cup tempts you to pick up this book, do yourself a favor – put it down, and get a real latte instead.

Good in Bed

Good in Bed
Jennifer Weiner
There’s chick-lit that is as formulaic as a Silhouette romance novel, and then, just when you think the whole genre is the Malibu Barbie of literature, along comes a book like Good in Bed.

In this novel (which was apparently the author’s first), protagonist Cannie Shapiro isn’t a lolly-pop headed stick-figure of a lead – instead, she’s overweight, underconfident, and totaly real – even to the way she deals with her divorced, and recently out of the closet, mother and her mother’s anti-social partner.

To describe the plot would be to ruin the story, but don’t let the superficial similarities to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days fool you – it’s a great read.



Neill Gaiman
I was in the mood for light fantasy, and I always love classic fairy tales, so Neil Gaiman’s Stardust was perfect for my mood. Unlike American Gods, which I’ve set aside until I can deal with it again, it’a gently whimsical story, about growing up and finding your heart’s desire.

Thorougly enjoyable, and just enough creepy to not be childish.


Metamorphosis (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Jean Lorrah
Metamorphosis takes place in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it’s a direct sequel to Jean Lorrah’s first TNG novel, Survivors.

In this novel, we see what Data might be like if his fondest wish was granted, and he became human, literally. Watching him adapt to being a “real boy” is both comic and poignant; watching him react to lost love is a bit disturbing. Someone said (probably in another TNG novel) that hurting Data is sort of like kicking a puppy, and it’s totally true.

In any case, at least they’ve fixed the errors with contractions – Data doesn’t use any in this novel, and it was still fun.


Survivors (Star Trek The Next Generation, No 4)

Jean Lorrah
I’ve been a Star Trek fan since birth, practically, to the point where, when I was a kid, the only television I was allowed to watch before 5:00 PM was reruns of classic Trek.

I was in junior high, or high school, when I started reading the novel tie-ins, and by the time I married Fuzzy, I had almost all the TOS novels, and a good portion of the TNG ones. At that point, I hadn’t begun to collect DS9, and Voyager didn’t exist.

When we left South Dakota, I gave my collection to Fuzzy’s brother, who also collected them. I think his collection is now complete, but I still like to revisit the series from time to time, and have contemplated beginning my collection anew.

In any case, my favorite TNG character is Picard, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Data, so when I saw the TNG novel Survivors, by Jean Lorrah, who had also written some of my favorite TOS novels, I had to have it.

It’s an episode expansion, of a sort, dealing with some of the events in the episode Skin of Evil (the one where Tasha is killed by the sentient oil slick), and also expanding the relationship between Data and Tasha, and talking about Tasha’s background. It’s also very EARLY TNG-fic, because Data is using contractions all over the place, and at one point Deanna Troi tells Tasha that Data has feelings.

Still, as fluff reading goes, it’s fun, and the insight into Tasha rounds out a character we never really got to know.

Incubus Dreams

Incubus Dreams: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series

Laurell K. Hamilton

I’ve been a fan of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series since 1998, when I spied a copy of The Lunatic Cafe on the shelf at the Barnes and Noble in Sioux Falls. Of course, I immediately had to go back and read the rest of the novels in the series, which was, at the time, only four books long.

Now, eight books later, I’m still addicted to Hamilton’s cast of characters and soft-porn storytelling, but I wish there was a little bit more story in this offering, Incubus Dreams.

To be fair, it is a transitional novel, and it does that job well. Anita, in this incarnation, is finally beginning to make peace with who and what she is. In fact, for the first time, she’s beginning to show real signs of maturity.

The plot, what there is of it, isn’t very obvious – there’s a string of murders, of course, but there are vast stretches of the novel where they’re not even mentioned, and the solution, when it comes, is sort of a throwaway, but the character development is much more interesting – Nathaniel is becoming three-dimensional, and Richard is ‘back’ in a sense.

I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

The Reef

The Reef
Nora Roberts
I picked up this novel, The Reef, by Nora Roberts, at the Half Price Books in Lewisville, TX when we were still in the apartment, began it there, got distracted, and didn’t finish it until the first weekend we were here in the house, when I literally had nothing else to read.

As romance novels go, it’s fairly predictable, though the fact that it’s a Nora Roberts novel means that at least it’s well-written predictability.

It’s also relatively early Roberts – it feels a bit dated to me.

Still, as bathroom reading, it was quiet enjoyable.