The Next Queen of Heaven: A Novel
Gregory Maguire
Harper Paperbacks, 2010 (Reprint)
ISBN: 9780061997792

Set in the midst of Y2K, Maguire takes on small-town life and its larger-than-life characters in this novel.  Essentially a character sketch – Lake Wobegon upside-down, if you will – the novel delves into the dysfunction of religion, small towns, and the self-built fences around our personal potential.

Who:  Tabitha Scales, 17 year old wild child, eldest in a family of half-siblings; and Jeremy Carr, the Catholic church’s gay music director.

What: Tabitha and Jeremy are each suffocating under the limits of their lives.  Both serve as caretakers, of sort.  She, to her brothers and fervently religious mother, after the mother gets bonked in the head by a statue and goes from annoyingly fervent to batshit-crazy-speaking-in-tongues.  He, to his friend dying of HIV, his church, his friends, his part-time job, his long-lost love….

Where: The small town of Thebes, NY, near the dawn of the millennium.

Why you should read: You’re a fan of Maguire’s satire and social commentary, or you enjoy quirky character sketches.

Alerts:  Not for those overly sensitive regarding any aspect of religion, small towns, or alternative lifestyles.  Plot is sparse and much of the novel seems to move slowly, but as primarily character sketch this is okay if you can slow down and enjoy it.

Grade: B

Brian McGrory
Atria Books, 2007
ISBN: 9780743463683

I ran across this book in a library display, and it looked like a good read.  In it, someone is retracing the steps of the Boston Strangler, and McGrory’s characters find themselves embroiled in a case thought to have been solved 40 years previous.

WhoBoston Record lead reporter Jack Flynn, his network of mentors, cops and informers, and Detective Mac Foley of the Boston PD.

What: Mac Foley is just trying to get to retirement, the police commissioner is trying to get elected mayor, and Jack Flynn is receiving letters from “The Phantom Fiend,” directing him to grisly crime scenes.  Oh, and someone is also trying to kill Jack.

Why you should read: You like a mystery, especially the gumshoe TV-style it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-night ones, are already a Jack Flynn fan, or like to ponder the what-ifs.

Alerts:  Mary-Sue (-Stu?) tendencies of Jack Flynn aside, McGrory works too hard to try to build suspense by throwing in phrases such as “I knew it was going to be a big day. I just had no idea why.”  Or, “what we didn’t know then was that it was about to become even less easy.”  Far from building the tension, these pretty much busted any sort of momentum that might have been going.

Certain plot points and twists – such as attempts on Jack Flynn’s life – don’t strengthen the plot or add to the tension.  There’s plenty that could be terrifying going on, but the danger is always focused on Jack, not on the victims and potential victims.  This seriously undermines the suspense, since we of course know our flippant narrator survived to  tell us the tale.

Grade: C+, at best

As part of that whole being deliberate thing I’m trying to do this year, I’m going to use some challenges to put thought into my reading this year – and hope to expand my reading horizons at the same time.

So the main challenge is Book Chick City’s 100 books challenge:

I did the first book today! :)  Review to go up in a while, maybe tomorrow. Then, there are other challenges that will help add up to that 100:

I love this genre, and tho I didn’t track it, I’m pretty sure I read at least 12 books out of this category in 2010.  There’s a cool giveaway from sponsors for this one, too.

The majority of my reading for the past year or two probably falls under this genre.  I’m looking forward to more – I just need to start choosing!  12 book minimum to meet the challenge.

Because I love to revisit old friends in the books I’ve read before.  And because the challenge title makes me laugh.  I’m aiming for 12 from this challenge, or the ‘Back to the Future’ level.

Hosted by  Midnyte Reader – because aren’t there all those books published before 1960 that I’ve always meant to read? I’m aiming for 12 from this challenge as well, though I’ve only picked out six so far:

  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Foundling, Charlotte Bronte
  • Agnes Grey, Anne Bronte
  • Catch 22, Joseph Heller
  • Dracula, Bram Stoker
  • East Wind: West Wind, Pearl S. Buck

If I get 12 from each challenge, that’s almost half of the hundred right there.  Cool.

Welcome to 2011


That’s just fun to type  :p

After a long, long hiatus, I’m digging up old haunts and things that made me happy once upon a time.  So that includes this blog (even if I’m the only one who ever reads it, lol).

I’m adopting a theme this year:  Deliberation.  Not all those that wander are lost – and it’s past time to rejoin the proper group.

Parent-teacher conferences tonight… Must be spring.

Continue Reading »

Looks like

Looks like:  OMGosh, fun!!!! – <click>

Looks like: A certain diva in my household – <click>

Looks like:  Somebody needs parents – <click>

Looks like:  .:I have no words:.  – <click>

Looks like:  eeeewwww – <click>

Looks like: Some folks need a new bank – <click>

Looks like: A professional resume doesn’t matter to Idol:  <click>

Looks like: Somewhere I rather be right now:  <click>


More fun bookshelves at the <click>


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