Thursday, July 3, 2008

50BC08 #15 & #16: Crafts and Nuns

50BC08 #15: Artful Cards
AUTHOR: Katherine Duncan Aimone
GENRE: crafting, scrapbooking, how-to

Artful Cards: 60 Fresh & Fabulous Designs Artful Cards: 60 Fresh & Fabulous Designs by Katherine Duncan Aimone

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked what this book had to offer in terms of ideas and explanations. It covers basics and some more advanced techniques. Unlike other card/scrapbooking books, this is more than just layout after layout. The ideas are creative and will help you develop our own offshoot ideas.

50BC08 #16: Bad Faith: A Sister Agatha Mystery
AUTHOR(S): Aimée and David Thurlo
YEAR: 2002 (read 2003 Thorndike Press large print ed.)
GENRE: mysteries, fiction, series

Bad Faith Bad Faith by Aimee Thurlo

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, this was a fun start to my month long NunRead. :-) I've long been a fan of nun mysteries (Sister Steve of the Father Dowling series on TV, Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma)...actually make that clergy mysteries, period. Of course Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose is on top of the list.

This first book in the Sister Agatha series has the earmarks of a first novel in a series in that it is lacking in character development but has all the components of a good story. Nuns make pretty good sleuths and convents tend to be inherently mysterious, partially because they are cloistered away from society. The Thurlos hit the mark with the right amount of sub-mysteries (those mini-plots you need as diversions from the main Whodunit); false leads (proving the prime suspect innocent); and an interesting sleuth. When the protagonist is a nun, there is a reconciling of past and present lives that is the most interesting. While we get SOME of that with Sister Agatha, we don't get nearly enough.

In addition to wanting more of Agatha's back story (no doubt revealed in later books in the series), the lack of physical description of any of the characters was particularly vexing in the case of the Reverend Mother who, unlike most of the other featured nuns, seems to have very little history or personality beyond her wisdom. I felt in this respect, and in some of the revealed secrets of the convent, the authors relied on too many clichés. The Thurlos work arduously to present an accurate portrait of modern convent life, but it comes across as proselytising, particularly when put forth through Agatha's thoughts about and conversations with Sheriff Tom Green.

I wanted Agatha to be more spunky. Her upbraiding of Tom Green became tiresome, as it was too one-sided. Supposedly he's a good guy and we are supposed to sympathize with him because his wife is an over-protective shrew, but he is definitely postured as the quasi-enemy. The gradual peace accord between Sister Agatha and Tom doesn't really work because their relationship doesn't follow any kind of rhythm. The character of Tom Green presents an excellent opportunity for complexity, and I hope this is further developed in later offerings in the series.

All that said, there is something unavoidably whimsical and entertaining about a nun with a broken vehicle (irreverently called the "Anti-Chrysler"), who rides a Harley without a second thought, and plays billiards. In some respects, it is probably a good thing that the Thurlos chose not to show more of their hand in regard to Sister Agatha's character. They crafted a mystery that is good enough to get me to read the next in the series.

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