March 31, 2003
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: one of the most entertaining, original books that I’ve had the pleasure to read in quite awhile.

The place is England. The time is 1985, but it’s not an England or a 1985 that you or I would recognize. England, the biggest superpower, is a virtual police state, the Crimean War is still going on after 130 years, Wales is now self-governed, and Goliath, a mega-corporation, seems to run everything from the shadows.

The novel centers around Thursday Next, a Special Operative, who works in the Literary Division. The nefarious Acheron Hades is out to change manuscripts of important novels by kidnapping characters from their pages. While it sounds outlandish, believe me, it really works.

I found this novel to be hugely entertaining and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I expected it to be light-hearted and funny (very much like a Stephanie Plum novel), but was surprised to find out that it wasn’t that way at all. The book does require some suspension of disbelief, but I found myself slipping into Thursday’s world with no problem. I could really see it appealing to mystery, fantasy, and sci-fi lovers very easily, but it’s definitely a novel I would suggest that anyone try.

March 24, 2003
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell: I started out this book really excited about what I was going to read. For about the first half of the book, I still felt that excitement, but it steadily began to wane. By the end of the book, I was just ready for it to end.

Cornwell presented some strong evidence against Walter Sickert, the man she claims was Jack the Ripper. She shows remarkable similarities in phrases that both men used, in handwriting and drawing styles, and in paper and envelopes used in the infamous Ripper letters to the police. Most importantly, she shows a link in mitochondrial DNA between an envelope mailed by the Ripper and two used by Sickert.

In reality, the book really does boil down to mostly circumstantial evidence since these crimes occured over 120 years ago and all “real” evidence has long been destroyed. I think if the book would have been shorter and more tightly written I wouldn’t have thought over and over again, “When is this damn thing going to end?”

March 23, 2003
Fishbowl by Sarah Mlynowski

Fishbowl by Sarah Mlynowski: one of the many “zany female” books ala Bridget Jones’s Diary that is so in vogue right now.

I found the book to be pretty decent and I particularly liked the way that the author did each chapter alternating through each of the three main characters points of view. You get to see how they view each other (not just how they view themselves) which added a bit more depth to the story.

All in all, it kind of blended in with the rest of the books that I’d read in this vein, but it’s not bad if you’re looking for a quick read.

March 20, 2003
Galveston by Sean Stewart

Galveston by Sean Stewart: this was simply one of the most magical, most amazing books that I have read in years.

It’s the story of Galveston, Texas, set after an event that the locals call The Flood. In Mardis Gras of 2004, magic flooded the world, plunging part of Galveston into a never-ending party where things like cars, cigarettes, medicine, and air conditioning still exist. The “real” Galveston, however, becomes one where technology and modern products become rare and won’t work well.

The book centers around Sloane Gardner, the daughter of Jane Gardner, the “mayor” of Galveston who has banished all with magical talent to the everlasting Mardi Gras. Jane has struggled for years to keep Gavleston afloat and wants Sloane to continue in her footsteps. The other main figure is that of Josh Cane, an apothecary who grew up with Sloane. I hate to give any more than this away since I found the book so wildly different from almost anything I had read and never knew where Stewart was going to take his characters next.

This book won the World Fantasy Award with good reason and I would strongly recommend this book to anyone, especially the lovers of sci-fi and fantasy. I felt that the ending was a bit weak - it felt like the story just kind of petered out. However, that alone could not subtract from the wonder that is Galveston.

On a personal aside, few of the books that I ever read are set in Texas, much less Houston or Galveston, a city that I am familiar with. I loved the fact that when the went to a building or walked down a street, I knew just where they were.

March 01, 2003
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore: this is the story of Joshua (AKA Jesus) and his life that The Bible never covers which is roughly until He’s about thirty years old. This book would probably be considered irreverant by some, but I found it to be both funny and heart-warming.

Most of the novel consits of Joshua setting off to find the three wise men to figure out exactly what he’s supposed to do since he’s the messiah. Biff, his best friend, travels with him and the hilarity ensues.

I really did enjoy this book, though I wouldn’t consider it as good as some of Moore’s other titles (especially Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story or Island of the Sequined Love Nun). Definitely worth the read.