Archive for November, 2010

23rd November
2010
written by Steph

To all you chick lit/rom com lovers out there: Don’t say I never do anything for you! While I admit that the number of reviews here at S&TI! that feature the fluffier and zanier side of an estrogen-filled life as featured in books with pretty little high-heeled shoes on their spines is somewhat lacking, I wouldn't want anyone to think that’s because I have a vendetta against the genre. Far from it. I know that the Bridget Jones series has gotten some flack over the years, but I unabashedly admit to loving the books (it’s one of the few “Jane Austen inspired” spin-offs I can get behind) and the movies. I’ve also read the majority of the Shopaholic books, and no one knows better than Tony how much I dig sitting down to a girly movie like The Devil Wears Prada or The Prince and Me (surely a prime example of the “so bad it’s good!” school of movie making). Heck, When Harry Met Sally is one of my very favorite movies. I have been known to watch it on loop, laughing EVERY time. Some may call that boring, but I find it comforting. The same can be said for chick lit. I don’t read much of it any more, largely because I have found that I tend to prize prose and innovation in my recent reading material over the past few years. I think there are things that chick lit does very well, but one thing I tend not to find it is very surprising. Normally by reading the back cover, one has a pretty good idea of how things are going to shake out by the end, and while I do think there are authors out there who take a rather inventive approach to the genre (Emily Giffin is one such author, in my opinion), most of the time I find most chick lit formulaic. You have a sassy (if not clutzy or down-on her-luck) heroine who for various reasons cannot find Mr. Right (normally because she is currently involved in some capacity with Mr. Wrong). Throughout the course of the novel, said heroine goes on a journey of self-discovery that involves not a few embarrassing situations but it all pays off in the end because she miraculously manages to snag a man (or a job) who loves her “just as she is”. Cue the end credits and bump in one’s ovulation cycle and the novel has delivered all it has set out to do. We’ve laughed, maybe we’ve cried, but mostly we’ve been entertained, perhaps in a predictable and slightly mindless way, but hey, sometimes that’s what one needs. (more…)
18th November
2010
written by Steph

Is Salman Rushdie one of those authors on your bucket list? You know the ones, authors you've always meant to read, but the sight of their name in print causes your timbers to shiver and your blood to run cold. You see the word "Rushdie" and immediately other words race to mind: "Satanic Verses", "fatwa" and even more chilling "Booker Prize winner". If any of these statements apply to you, then we have good news for you: Luka and the Fire of Life is now in stores and waiting for you to read it! This is Rushdie as written for kids (or young adults), but accessible and enjoyable for adults too! Not ready to test the waters on your own? No worries! Tony read and reviewed Luka for the December issue of BookPage, but you can read his thoughts on the book online right now, right here! This book would probably be a great introduction to all you Rushdie scaredy-cats out there, but it's also satisfying storytelling for those who've already braved the man and lived to tell the tale. I personally have been wanting to add a little more Rushdie to my life, so I'll likely be picking this one up soon myself. Head on over to BookPage and check out Tony's review for all the details and be sure to let us know what you think!
16th November
2010
written by Steph

While Sweden seems wintry and cold in so many ways, the one way in which it seems to be blazing hot is on the crime fiction front. With the insane popularity of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, authors with umlauts (how’s that for the name of a federation?) have never been so well-read. Poor Helene Tursten, may not have any fancy diacritics gussying up her name, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out her crime novels. I admit that “Detective Inspector Huss” is not necessarily a title that’s going to immediately pique your interest, but just as we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, we should also probably refrain from judging them based on their titles… If you like novels that involve: drugs, sex, explosions, conspiracies, political agendas, and awkward translations, then this is the book for you!  When financial tycoon, Richard von Knecht plummets from his balcony onto the pavement below, all signs point to suicide. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that von Knecht didn't jump to his death, he was pushed. Enter Sweden's Violent Crimes division and detective inspector Irene Huss, who begin to look into von Knecht's increasingly suspicious - and dangerous - death. With an itinerant bomber on the loose, clues and suspects are being erased at a frightening pace... The clock is ticking for Irene and colleagues to crack the case, but to do so, they may have to take a few risks... (more…)
15th November
2010
written by Steph
Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our two-year blogiversary, whether it be through kind comments or by entering our giveaway for a free book. Alas, there can only be one winner, and this year that winner is:

Mee from Bookie Mee!

Mee selected Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami as her choice, so a copy of that will soon be making its way to her!  Congrats Mee, and thanks to everyone else for entering! We look forward to another year of blogging shenanigans!
8th November
2010
written by Steph

This is us celebrating Tony turning 28, but don't worry, our blog doesn't know any better...

So, Steph and Tony Investigate! turned two... on November 2. Oops! Life has been so busy that the day came and went without Tony or I realizing the significance. I mean, now that our blog is in its terrible twos, we should have commemorated the transition by trashing our apartment or getting rip-roaring drunk or BOTH! Certainly anything but letting the day pass in silence! But really, what would this little site be without you, or loyal readers who have stuck with us as we first began to figure out this crazy thing called blogging, and have watched us take our first few steps out into the world, watching us trash bad books and movies (while also celebrating the good ones!), and eat decadent food along the way? You know, just like toddlers do. So, to celebrate having successfully made it through two whole years of blogging, we want to give you some gifts... because we are both crazy and generous like that. And humble. To thank you for sticking by us and making us feel like we're doing something right, we'd like you to investigate our archives. Pick any book there that we've reviewed in any capacity (yes, BookPage reviews count!) and tell us which one you would like and why! We'll use a random number generator (or magic) to pick a winner and will send said person the book of their choosing. Because you can't spell "Party" without "Free Book"! Have fun reliving our glory days, because it's all downhill from here... Just kidding! 😉 The deets
  • Contest will run until midnight on the evening of Sunday, November 14
  • To enter, leave a comment on this post letting us know what book we have reviewed that you would like and why
  • Giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships... I'm not American, and Tony's not Canadian, so we love all citizens of the world equally well
That's it! Let us buy you a free book, won't you? [P.S. This post will be sticky for the duration of the giveaway, so be sure to scroll down for new content throughout the week!]
7th November
2010
written by Steph
When reading slumps hit these days, I'm always grateful that I have knitting to fall back on to help me feel productive. And with the weather finally dipping into the autumnal range in Nashville of late (some might claim it's even been downright nippy!), I actually have occasion to start wearing knitted items... So it was about time I actually made something for me to wear... It's only taken me 2.5 months and several other completed projects!

Finally a scarf for meeeeee!

Voila my "A little ruffle" scarf, which I knit up in an Alpaca-Silk blend (no itchy wool scarf here!) in a lovely light lilac color! I'm very happy with how it turned out, and I've had several people comment on it, while mentioning how "not homemade" it looks, which pleases me muchly. I abhor the notion of lumpy looking homeknits, and I feel this scarf is sleek and pretty, and save a few flaws that only I notice in the body of it, pretty professional looking (if I do say so myself).

It's Emmy! In a sweater!

Next up: Emmy Lou finally gets her long-promised sweater!!! After botching my first sweater attempt with a misunderstanding regarding puppy measurements, I knew I'd have to make it up to Emmy. At the very least, I knew her winter sweater would have to be ready before our trip to Minnesota at Christmas time. So I picked up a pretty, purple  bulky yarn and spent yesterday knitting her her sweater. That's right, this was a one day knit! I realize it sounds impressive, but super bulky yarns do knit up rather quickly, so I only spent about 6 hours on this baby.  But the time was obviously well worth it, since look how pretty my little girl looks! And the kicker: mother-daughter shot, with us both in our new knits!  Happy Sunday, everyone! Snuggle a puppy (or a kitten) if you can!

The family resemblance is uncanny!

4th November
2010
written by Steph

Indiespensible # 22

With October being as busy as it was, my reading slipped off quite a bit, and I have to admit I haven't yet regained my reading mojo. I've only got one book waiting to be reviewed in my queue, and in the past week I've picked up and started several books only to put them down because they just weren't doing it for me right now. But maybe this new installment of Powell's Indiespensible will be the panacea to my reading slump? Included in Volume 22:
  • Signed, first edition copy of Benjamin Percy's The Wilding
  • Powell's interview with Percy on commemorative collector cards (which make me feel like I'm a newscaster getting ready to read for broadcast)
  • A Powell's insulated metal canteen, which is perfectly Steph-sized!
I admit that prior to Powell's announcing this month's pick, I had never heard of The Wilding; anyone out there already read it? Normally I don't offer up official synopses or press material, but I figure this book is sufficiently "beneath the radar" that a bit of background might be helpful. From Publisher's Weekly:
Percy's excellent debut novel (after the collection Refresh, Refresh) digs into the ambiguous American attitude toward nature as it oscillates between Thoreau's romantic appreciation and sheer gothic horror. The plot concerns a hunting trip taken by Justin Caves and his sixth-grade son, Graham, with Justin's bullying father, Paul, a passionate outdoorsman in failing health who's determined to spend one last weekend in the Echo Canyon before real estate developer Bobby Fremont turns the sublime pocket of wilderness into a golfing resort. Justin, a high school English teacher, has hit an almost terminally rough patch in his marriage to Karen, who, while the boys camp, contemplates an affair with Bobby, though she may have bigger problems with wounded Iraq war vet Brian, a case study in creepy stalker. The men, meanwhile, are being tracked by a beast and must contend with a vengeful roughneck roaming the woods. A taut plot and cast of deeply flawed characters--Justin is a masterwork of pitiable wretchedness--will keep readers rapt as peril descends and split-second decisions come to have lifelong repercussions. It's as close as you can get to a contemporary Deliverance.
Intriguing, non? It certainly seems seasonally appropriate, so I'll probably be digging into it soon! I will let all of you know how it goes!
2nd November
2010
written by Steph

This month, we've got a bounty of books for you to discover over at BookPage! In the November issue, Tony reviews the newest Dennis Lehane novel, Moonlight Mile, which is a must-read for any thriller/mystery buffs out there. I can say from personal experience, that Tony devoured this baby in two sittings, greatly neglecting his wife in the process... but isn't that what great books are all about? Making spouses jealous (because they aren't the ones reading said book... )? 😛 Check out his review in full here!

Also, I have a bunch of web-exclusive content that is now up. For fans of creepy Victorian era fiction (and really, who doesn't like that kind of stuff?), you might be interested in checking out my interview with Kathe Koja, where I ask her about her newest book, Under The Poppy. Koja's book is set in Brussels during the 1870s and involves brothels and puppet shows, amongst various other things... As if that wasn't enough of a reason to check out the interview, Koja is a Sarah Waters fan... Read her thoughts on historical fiction, the appeal of YA novels, and more here!

I also did a brief and extremely fun Q&A with author, Tilar J Mazzeo regarding the iconic perfume, Chanel No. 5, which is the focus of her newest work of non-fiction, The Secret of Chanel No. 5. Definitely something to read if you're hoping to add a little decadence to your life. Find out what goes into researching the most popular and intoxicating perfume across the ages, by reading the interview here.

Last but not least, I also reviewed Rose Tremain's most recent novel, Trespass, which you can read here. I'd never read anything by Tremain prior to this, but I loved the fast-paced narrative, lush French countryside setting, and the dark, disturbing secrets that she wove together here. I'll definitely be checking out more Tremain in the future!
1st November
2010
written by Steph

Room is one of those books that set the book blogging world on fire. It was first released in the UK before being released Stateside, and there didn’t seem to be a single British bookblogger that I followed who didn’t review this book. Even more remarkable, everyone who read it seemed to love it! When the book hit the U.S., responses were the same – readers talked about how tense and riveting the book was, how the book urged them to keep reading and lent itself to being consumed in a single sitting. I couldn’t remember the last book that made me want to devour it in an 8 to 10-hour reading jag, so I was so excited to get my hands on this one. Of course, so were about 100 other patrons at my local library, so it wasn’t until about a week ago that I finally got the chance to sit down with Room and see what the fuss was all about. I’m sure anyone reading this has already heard of the book, so giving a short summary is probably pretty redundant, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock (or in Room), the basic gist is that the novel is narrated by Jack, a young boy who has just turned five. Jack and his mother live in a single-room, and for Jack, this space constitutes his entire world. He has never stepped a foot outside and has no understanding that anything exists beyond Room’s four walls; the duo’s only visitor is a menacing man that Jack calls “Old Nick”.  Through Jack, we learn how it is that his mother and he came to be in Room and how they have adapted in order to survive… As well as what Jack’s mother will risk in order for them to escape their prison in the hopes of living a normal life. (more…)