The Poet, by Michael Connelly.

I don’t normally like police procedurals. This one is told from the perspective of a journalist who has managed to work his way inside an FBI search for a serial killer and was actually pretty durn enjoyable from that perspective: good characters, quick action, lots of twists…

But. From a writerly perspective, I was so, so, so let down. The premise is that an online network of (homocidal) pedophiles exists, invisibly, exchanging materials, favors, legal advice, etc. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, eh? But the author backs off from the possibilities there, and the killer doesn’t really take advantage of the network — think flash mob, and how a murder could be performed, part by part, by people who have no idea who each other is, where they’re from — a traditional murder mystery. Sigh. Not bad, just not the amazing thing it could have been. I was disappointed.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snickett.

The first few books of Events were interesting — morbid kids’ books written with a literary and tongue-in-cheek sensibility. But, like a one-trick pony (albeit with a really good trick), they got old around books 6-7 or so, and I told myself I’d get back to them (yawn) when the series had finished.

Well. Imagine my surprise when I picked them up again, and book 9 (The Carniverous Carnival) started to get…deep. One of the villains turns out to be an ally in disguise…or is she? Are the orphans as helpless (or as blameless) as they’re supposed to be? It only gets more interesting from there: instead of reacting to the endless attacks from Count Olaf, they begin to take responsibility for their fate. Accidents happen. Choices are made. The game of “who am I, really?” is played.

I’m going to tell you right now, the climax of the series is in The Penultimate Peril, at the (appropriately named) Hotel Denoument. The last book, The End, is a resolution, in which some questions are answered (including one very poignant one you didn’t know you had), but most of them are not. It’s like the moment when your heart has stopped, and you have the chance to go toward the bright light or come back into the wicked, wicked world.

Very existential. The Plague for children, more subtly written, but the same questions.

Highly recommend listening to the audiobooks, read by Tim Curry.

13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson.

I’m trying to hold off reading her books; hopefully, she’ll write faster.

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee.

Fresh, grade A eggs will make more shapely fried and poached eggs. Why? Chicken thighs have more flavor and are more tender than breasts. Why? Whipping cream easier to whip than non-whipping cream. Why? Most sour cream breaks down when you cook it. Why? (And how to find the kind that doesn’t.)

I’m only on the meat section, and I’m going to have to take it back to the library eventually. I’ll buy a copy at that point. 896 pages of food facts, right down to the organic chemistry level. Excellent…

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson.

I’ve seen the movie and read the book now. Another bad adaptation of a pretty decent book. The book, however, was not my thing anyway. A tear-jerker with a hopeful ending. Uhhhhh….okay.

Skinwalker, by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir, Brian Hurtt, and Arthur Dela Cruz.

(Graphic Novel.) Finally, a murder mystery that did not disappoint. Good characters, decent art, good storyline…yay! Another fine playing of the “who am I, really?” game. Explores the Navajo tradition of a “skinwalker,” or a particular type of shaman that uses (among other things) the skins of various animals to take on that animal’s traits/powers. Another outsider-in-an-FBI-investigation plot, but much less “procedural.” The only off thing I have to say about it is the shading was very odd, and I don’t know that I liked it. It may just be a new style, though.