Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Garden Blogger's Book Club

A Hoe Lot of Trouble: a Nina Quinn Mystery
by Heather Webber

First of all, what the heck is that picture on the front of the book supposed to represent? A topiary bunny with stomach trouble? It looks like an ad for Tums. I don’t get it.

I don’t need to be a cataloger in a public library (which I am), to know when there’s a subtitle like “a Nina Quinn mystery”, it means there are more of these books featuring this woman. Aarrghh! Nina and I didn’t get along very well from page one. Who chops up pictures of their philandering husband in a garbage disposal? What’s the matter with using the paper shredder? I guess that was supposed to set the tone for us that Nina is charmingly non-conformist and we need to cut her a lot of slack for her impetuous ways. I found her really annoying.

I also didn’t see much gardening going on except for a few references to Taken By Surprise, her so-called garden design company. And what about the hoes? I thought this story was about missing hoes. No, it was about a greedy developer trying to buy the farmland belonging to the family of Nina’s long-time friend Bridget, who has homicidal tendencies and fakes a pregnancy. Where’s the gardening in that? She does make a reference toward the end of the book about the landscaping in the greedy developer’s subdivision: “Trees dotted the sidewalks and canopied the street. The lawns were exceptionally well-kept, and flowers, everything from geraniums to petunias, were bright and cheery.” Whew, geraniums to petunias! That’s quite a range.

Coming to the end of a good book makes me sad. I was extremely happy to finish this book. To be fair, the author seems like a very nice woman; I went to her website to see what she is like. May is her favorite month, she likes to watch The Amazing Race, eats extra-butter popcorn, and her favorite day of the year is Thanksgiving. I like all that too, so I can relate. But I don’t relate to formulaic mystery writing. When we hear about the escaped pet snake in the first chapter, we know the snake will play a role in the ending. When we find out early on that homicidal Bridget is pregnant, or that stepson Riley (or is that the snake’s name - I can’t remember) has a fixation on guns, we know that will play a role in the ending. Nothing is allowed to happen in a formula-written book that does not have a bearing on the final denouement, and that’s what I hate about them. Nobody wanders off-plot and does or says anything that doesn’t pertain directly to the story. But hey, that’s just me. According to everyone loves this series and can’t wait for more. I’d rather sit on my back porch and stare off into the distance.

Oh, I didn't actually throw the book in the trash. It is a library book, after all!


Naturegirl said...

Catching up on visiting after a busy summer. I will comment on your last post ...Love the swing the budda the rabbit everthing about your garden spells bliss.
I've not had time to read perhaps when I hibernate in winter.hugs NG

Mary said...

It's rare that I read a book I dislike. I can usually tell half-way through the first chapter if I'm wasting my time.

Interesting review! LOL!

Carol said...

LostRoses... I've been attempting to get through this book for several weeks. I like a story to take hold of me so that I don't want to put it down until I've finished it. I keep waiting for this book to take hold of me, and so far, it hasn't.

Thanks for the candid review. Maybe someone else loves the book and we can get a little discussion going in the Garden Bloggers' Book Club!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Annie in Austin said...

Guess I'm glad I chose an alternate, Lost Roses - I couldn't get this one from the library and didn't want to buy a book right now.

But disliking the book sure gave you the opportunity to show us your fun LHJ wastebasket!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Phillip said...

I am relieved that I'm not the only person who didn't like this book. I disliked the lead character also - I felt that the author was trying too hard to make her "funny." And, like you said, there wasn't that much gardening or landscaping going on. I did'nt want to sound snobbish but the book was too fluffy for me and formulatic. I had just finished a Ruth Rendell novel before reading this - now there is a woman who can write!

By the way, I'm a librarian too!

Zoey said...

I've never heard of this book, but I sure did enjoy your review!

Loved the accompying photo, too. I actually tilted my head while looking at it. I was trying to determine if I was actually seeing a book in a garbage can. :)

Rose said...

I think we have all been guilty of wasting time doing something that we realize was a total waste of time (reading a bad book, watching a stupid TV show). But I agree that your time probably would be better spent resting on your porch looking at a beautiful sunset, or doing a little gardening. Those experiences would be pleasant and relaxing too. I garden for my health and sanity.


LostRoses said...

Naturegirl, thanks! I agree that winter is a very good time to catch up on your reading. Except the view isn't as good as from an outdoor swing!

Mary, I knew immediately that I didn't like this book. But hey, I couldn't let May Dreams down, could I? LOL

Carol, trust me, it's not going to grab you later either. We win some and lose some, but it was worth a try!

Annie, I'm glad you read a different book, too! And until I took that photo, I didn't remember that was a Ladies Home Journal picture on the wastebasket. I guess I see it so often it's become "invisible".

Phillip, oh yeah, Ruth Rendell! Now there's a storyteller. Having just finished reading her must have made this book particularly difficult for you! And I don't think it's snobbish to enjoy an entirely different level of writing.

And of course you're a librarian - I knew there was something I liked about you right away!

Zoey, I figured a picture was worth a thousand words, and then I wrote at least 500 words anyway!

Andrea's Garden said...

Hello, what a book review and I am surprised you continued reading through it. I have only done that with one book because my husband said, keep at it, it will be good. Usually, if a book doesn't get my attention during the first 30 pages, I put it down. Take care! Andrea

Carol said...

Thank you LostRoses, you've helped set me free from trying to finish that book! My review will be on another author's garden mystery series. One that I liked and read every book in the series years ago.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

kate said...

I didn't get beyond the first chapter of this book and put it down hoping that I'd pick it up another time and it would be more enjoyable. Well, I tried and tried and then, when I realised that it would be late to return to the library, I figured enough was enough. I agree - I'd rather be hoeing my garden than reading another one of this series.

jodi said...

It's fascinating, isn't it, that a book or series or author can get published when it's ragingly mediocre--while all kinds of great books fall through the cracks unnoticed. I deal with this regularly (I review some types of books as part of my work as a freelancer) so I am constantly amazed. Life is too short to drink bad wine or read mediocre books--that's my mantra. Or one of them.....

LostRoses said...

Andrea, I'm with you on putting down a book that doesn't interest me -- except in the case of Garden Bloggers Book Club! Too many books, so little time.

Carol, I'm glad I could be of help. You're free to go off and read an oldie but a goodie!

Kate, I knew I couldn't be the only one who didn't appreciate this book. And we don't want any late fees, do we?

Jodi, something for everyone, I suppose. There's no other logic to it that I can see. It's kind of like the garage sale syndrome - one person's trash, etc. Good mantra you've got - happy reading!

Bev said...

LR - why don't you say what you really think?? I love your frankness and always get a good laugh from your posts. You brighten my day. I read a different book but I see your points about the author. I have this funny habit and I don't know where I picked it up (maybe school?) but when I start a book I feel like I've made a commitment to it and feel guilty when I don't finish it. How stupid!! But I'm getting better and in book recovery.

bill said...

I agree with you. I found this book really shallow and the writing style very annoying. I was ready to toss it after the first chapter but continued because I wanted to review it and because it was so insubstantial it only took three hours to read it.

farmingfriends said...

Yes I didn't know what the cover had to do with the story, but I enjoyed the story as it was an easy read - pure escapism. sara from farmingfriends

Anonymous said...

I was reading the last chapter of this book in a supermarket parking lot on a hot day, when I saw a golden retriever in a station wagon with the windows rolled up. Dilema: save the dog, or finish the book. What did I do? Well let's just say that doggie heaven got a little more crowded that day. This book rocked!

girldetective said...

Every book is not right for every reader -- and of course you have a right to your opinion, and I give you credit for supporting your opinion with reasons and examples of what you didn't like about the book -- but did it ever occur to you how really hurtful such a review would be to the writer if she came across it? (And writers always do come across these things.)

Granted, it's not your problem if her feelings are hurt, but what an unharmonious, unproductive, and ungraceful way to take your aggressions out.

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