Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Book Review Club (September 2009)

Are you sitting down? Nice and comfortable? A coffee and a cookie nearby? Ready to delve into some great book reviews as we head into the fall? Good. You're in the right place. Welcome to the EIGHTH (I know, it's incredible!) meeting of The Book Review Club. And we're just in time for September 6 which is Read a Book Day and for Banned Books Week (September 26-Oct 3)!

I'm going to hop right into my review because there are links to terrific reviews below, and I want leave you time to check them out. know how sometimes you're craving a piece of chocolate? And the more you try not to think of it, the more it's on your mind. And, eventually, you just give in, find the treat and enjoy.

In book terms, a Perry Mason mystery is that chocolate treat for me. Luckily, last month I picked up a copy of the 1969, 12th printing (it was first pubbed in 1943), 75-cent, paperback edition of Perry Mason Solves the Case of the Buried Clock and stuck in on my bookshelf. So, when the craving hit, I was prepared.

Here's the CBS logline from the just-under-an-hour episode based on this book. It aired Nov. 11, 1958.

A camera’s flash triggered by a buried clock figures into a murder case, where the chairman of a bank is accused of killing his son-in-law

What do I love about Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason books?

-I love reading the Cast of Characters. For example, the Buried Clock has Adele Blane, "who always looked five years younger or twenty years older" and Vincent P. Blain, who is "Father of Adele and Milicent, rich, charming, dignified, worried."

-I love the dated language. Like: "I sure led with my chin on that one." Like: "That's the kind of cur he is."

-I love knowing little details about Perry Mason, such as his love of a good steak, how he keeps his cigarettes in a humidor, how he walks with a long-legged gait. And don't even get me started on his ever-cool secretary, Della Street.

-And I adore the wrap-up courtroom scene where the brilliant Mr. Mason unveils the murderer and ties up all the loose ends.

To finish off, here are a few interesting facts about the author, Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970): He got kicked out of law school after about a month for fighting. He worked as a typist in a law office, studied law BY HIMSELF, then took the bar and PASSED. He hung out a shingle at THE AGE OF 21 YEARS in Merced, CA. He practiced law until 1933 when The Case of the Velvet Claws was published. He wrote under his own name and SEVEN pseudonyms. He loved the courtroom and steak. He married his longtime secretary (as in, she worked for him for over THIRTY years) when he was SEVENTY-NINE and she was SIXTY-SIX. I think they were waiting for his first wife to die. (I pulled these author facts from a previous post on this blog. So, if they sound familiar, no, you're not going crazy.

Below are links to a bunch of wonderful reviews. Please, please, please hop around and visit. Oh, and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Reviewer Keri Mikulski who just landed a FOUR book deal with Razorbill/Penguin. I'm sure one of us will be reviewing her first book in spring 2011!


Thao of serene hours: CRAZY BEAUTIFUL by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: THE SEIGE OF MACINDAW by John Flanagan (book #6 in the Rangers Apprentice series)

Stacy Nyikos: WEEDFLOWER by Cynthia Kadohata (middle grade)

Jody Feldman: THE PUZZLING WORLD OF WINSTON BREEN by Eric Berlin (middle grade)

Keri Mikulski: SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD by Nancy Viau (middle grade)


Sarah Laurence: THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC by Richard Russo (literary fiction)

Kathy Holmes: RED, WHITE AND DEAD by Laura Caldwell (mystery series)

Scott Parker: THE WAY HOME by George Pelecanos (crime)

Patti Abbott: OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout

Jenn Jilks of My Reflections: THE BEST LAID PLANS by Terry Fallis (winner of the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour)

Beth Yarnall: OBSIDIAN PREY by Jayne Castle (AKA Jayne Ann Krentz)(paranormal futuristic romance)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'es-do-well: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson (mystery, 2nd in the Millenium series)

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE by Shannon Hale (humorous women's fiction)


Zu Vincent of Through the Tollbooth:TRUE NOTEBOOKS: A WRITER'S YEAR AT JUVENILE HALL by Mark Salzman

And that, folks, sums it up for September's meeting! Reviewers--if I didn't link to you, please leave me a comment and I'll fix the error right away. My kids are still home for the summer and I'm a bit frazzled.


  1. Your review brought back fond memories of both reading Perry Mason novels and watching the show. My sister was a fanatic about both!

  2. I loved the Perry Mason TV series - maybe because it captured an era and a place - my beloved California - so well. But I have never read an Erle Stanley Gardner book and I must do so. What fun!

  3. I didn't know Perry Mason Episodes were based on books. That was a very fun review and now I'll have to read at least one, just so I can say that I have. Loved your review.

    The link provided for my review in today's reviewers list takes readers to my web page. The book is actually several posts down, click here for direct link to this month’s review The Siege of Macindaw, by John Flanagan. Thanks.

  4. Cool. I've never read a Perry Mason book, although I did watch the show back in the day. I bet I would like some of these though.

  5. All the same reasons I'm a Wodehouse fan! There's something so lovely about those old books.

  6. You gave me a scare – that sitting down bit made me worry that you had bad news, like you weren’t going to host the book review club anymore. I’m relieved to hear that is not the case. Happy 9 months and thank you!

    I keep a stash of “writer’s chocolate too.

    I love the retro cover of the Perry Mason – fun! Interesting author info. Who would have guessed? Very impressive.

    Keri’s news is very exciting.

  7. I loved all the trivia--I too love some good dated language!

    I used to love watching Perry Mason as a kid, but I've never read one of the books. I'll have to remember that when I need a go-to book!

  8. God that is lots of books!!

    thanks for the info..


  9. I love Perry Mason! And thanks for all the links for reviews. I'm going to go check some of them out.

  10. I used to watch Perry Mason regularly with my mom and dad and we all loved it. I've never read one of the books though. It would be great for someone writing in that period to soak up the language of the time.

  11. I've never read a Perry Mason, but I think that I am a little bit fascinated by his creator now!

  12. No books have been banned in the USA for about a half a century. See "National Hogwash Week."

  13. these were the books that filled our little bookcase growing up. Mom had an awful crush on Perry.

  14. I often wonder at mystery writers who say they're never read Agatha Christie . . . but I'm no better!

    I admit that I've never read a Perry Mason novel. I've never seen the show, either!

    Clearly, my self-education has been woefully lacking.

  15. Awe, thanks, Barrie!! :) That was so sweet of you to mention my book deal. :)

    Like the eyelashes on the cover. :) And the trivia. :)

  16. My grandmother was a Perry Mason addict, and I used to watch the TV show with her. She always hoped Perry and Della would get married. (Did they? In the books?)

    I've never read one of the books, and now I feel I have to. Sure, Barrie, make my to-read list LONGER why don't you...

    Great review. Thanks!

  17. I used to watch Perry Mason when I was a kid. I had no idea the TV show was based on a series! How cool is that.

    Looking forward to seeing you too in just a couple of weeks!

  18. I like the Perry Mason books a LOT, and have many of them. I read TEH CASE OF THE EMPTY TIN last summer and saw that television episode about two weeks ago. They had absolutely nothing in common, not plot, characters or location. I enjoyed both, but the they were not the same.

    Lots of Mason paperbacks available on eBay, that's where I've been getting mine.

  19. Oh, and Ellen - in the books (I forget which one just now) they got engaged, planned a wedding and a world tour honeymoon, but then a case came up...and it never happened. In the end they decided it was better to maintain their professional relationship.

  20. How dreadful! And um, was this professional relationship, um, celibate? Maybe that was just too much information for back then. ;-D


Comments are always welcome!