Friday, September 30, 2011

September in Review

Goodbye summer, Hello fall.
Do you love fall as much as me? 

I love fall for, cooler temps, foliage trips, and wearing sweaters and jeans once again. I also like the fact that my reading choices tend to change with some seasons as well. Summer for me means a craving for lighter beach reads - the kind of books some people call "woman's fiction". Maine, by Courtney Sullivan was a good example.  In fall and winter, I crave more thrillers and mysteries, so the RIP Challenge is one I like to participate in. I love reading mysteries in front of the fireplace while wrapped in comfy quilt and having a cup of tea or coffee.  This coming Sunday I hope to compile a list of fall titles I'd like to tackle, and I'll be asking if you have any favorites from my list which will help me decide.

How did your reading go in September? I was pleased with what I read, and or listened to. I read (9) books and reviewed (8) so far.
  1. Reservation Road; John Burnham Schwartz - 4.5/5 (eBook) 
  2. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; Murakami (audio) - 4/5 
  3. The Night Strangers; Chris Bohjalian - 4/5 
  4. The Night Circus; Erin Morgenstern - 5/5
  5. Frenchman's Creek; Daphne DuMaurier - 4/5 
  6. Those Across the River; Christopher Buehlman - 4/5 (review) 
  7. Duma Key; Stephen King - 4/5 (audio and eBook)
  8. Bel Canto; Ann Patchett - 4/5 (audio) 
  9. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake; Jenny Wingfield  (eBook) - 5/5  - no review yet

  • Favorite  Fiction Books - The Night Circus and The Homecoming of Samuel Lake (5/5 for both) 
  • Favorite Audio Book -  Duma Key; Stephen King (4/5) 
  • New authors -   3/9- YTD - 60/93
  • Review Books - 4/9 -YTD - 43/93
  • 5 star books - 2/9 -   YTD -  23/93
  • 4 star books - 7/9-    YTD - 58/93
  • 3 star books - 0/9 -   YTD - 8/93
  • 2 star books - 0/9-    YTD - 3/93
~~~~~ Challenge Progress ~~~~~
  • 100+ Reading Challenge - 93/100
  • Reading From My Shelves Project - 46/50
  • Audio Book Challenge - 26/20 - COMPLETED
  • eBook Challenge - 12/20
  • Europa Challenge - 2/4
  • RIP VI Challenge - 3/4
How was your month for books?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday ~ The Technologists; Matthew Pearl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine.  I liked the sound of this thriller and it's set in Boston which appeals to me. What's your opinion?

February 21, 2012 - Random House

(about the book)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club, comes a completely fresh take on the historical thriller, set at the intersection of science and history, as the men and women of the first graduating class of MIT must avert a dire threat against their city.

Boston, 1868: On a fog-shrouded, moonless spring night in Boston Harbor, seven ships--schooners, pleasure steamers, and steamships--mysteriously crash in a massive, fiery wreck. The devastation is later complicated by the discovery that every compass recovered from the wreckage had spun wildly as the ships veered inexplicably off course. In an attempt to solve the mystery, investigators visit the newly founded Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose fifteen-member inaugural class is about to graduate. As the harbor disaster is followed by further strange calamities striking the city, Marcus Mansfield and his fellow classmates including Ellen Swallow, the sole female student at MIT--will find themselves in the position of being the only people qualified to save the city and its inhabitants from what seems to be the work of a madman.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week's selection was recommended highly by Ti, of Book Chatter:

(My 1st Library Kindle Download)
It was so simple too!

Welcome to the Future 
"EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING IS PART OF A GRAND universal plan,  That's what my Nana always says.  We're not alive just to lounge around and contemplate our umbilicus.  We're metaphysical beings" Open us up, and there's more rattling around in there than just brain sacs and fatty tissue.  We are full of imperceptible essences.  Invisible spectrums. Patterns. Ideas.  We're containers of awesome phenomena!  Which is why it is important to live right.  You have to be attuned to what's around you, and you have to keep from clogging your receptors with crap.  According to my Nana, the universe is sending signals every day, and it's up to us whether we want to listen.  We can either perk up our ears, or walk around like dead piles of dermis. I always preferred the former.  Which is why I found myself up on top of the roof of our dome on that fall Sunday when everything began."

 Would you read this one based on the first paragraph intro?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday

In September, Mailbox Monday is hosted by: Amused By Books. Bloggers get to share the books that arrived by mail during the previous week. Here's my new books, (sorry just realized I cut off some of the title in this photo) 

Hope you had a great week in books as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bel Canto; Ann Patchett

Title: Bel Canto
Author:  Ann Patchett
Publication Year: 2001
Publisher: Harper Audio
Edition: audio book 
Reader: Anna Fields( very good)
Source: Library 
Date Completed: 9/1/2011 (?)
Setting: South America
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

Ann Patchett is a favorite author, yet for some reason, it took me (10) years to read listen to this book.  I actually finished it about a month ago, made some notes, and finally had a chance to put together a short review.  I liked it, but didn't love it.  If there are others who haven't read this book yet, here is a little review.

Bel Canto (beautiful song) is somewhat of a political thriller, but one with emotion and compassion to some degree. The story is about a hostage situation which takes place in some unspecified South American country, when the Vice President of that country is hosting a birthday party at his mansion where some powerful people are in attendance.  The guest of honor is Katsumi Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese business man.

During the part a militant group storms the party. Their target is the country's President, but fortunately for him, he is not in attendance.  When the militants realize this, they take all the guests as hostages.  The hostage situation extends for months and some unexpected things begin to happen between the guests and the militants.  The key characters, Hosokawa, for example, is transformed by what has been happening and that transformation is a positive thing. Previously a man who busied himself in work, but found little passion in life, except from art, finds himself feeling like a new man through Opera music.  In the process, he becomes captivated by another party attendee, Roxanne Coss, an opera singer. 

Roxanne knows she is seen as very desirable among men because of her notoriety as a woman with a beautiful voice, but when it comes to relationships with men, she's a taker not a giver.  Another central character is Gen Watanabe, Mr. Hosokawa's assistant.  He plays a key role during this crisis serving as translator between the guests and militants.  In the process, he finds himself falling for Carmen, one of the terrorists.

The story was told from the third person POV which worked fine for this story. It was ironic, that for the key characters, it was only in the face of possible death, that passion stirred inside of them for the first time in their lives. Although some of the hostages are released, the key characters are in until the bitter end.  I found the ending to be somewhat of a shock, and although I wasn't thrilled with how the story played out, it did not spoil the listening experience for me. The reader was very good, and the story held my interest.

Have you read this one? What were your thoughts? 

I can finally say that now I have read ALL of Patchett's books.

Duma Key; Stephen King

Title: Duma Key
Author:  Stephen King
Publication Year: 2008
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Edition: audio book and Kindle
Reader: John Slattery ( very good)
Source: Library 
Date Completed: 9/23/2011 
Setting: Minnesota and Florida
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

Easing my way back to a favorite author of the 80's and 90's,  Duma Key seemed like good choice. I read that it was a milder, less gore Stephen King than from his earlier days. This novel was written after his close call with death in 1999, when he was hit by a van while walking along a road in Maine.  

Duma Key is about the special powers that come to some people who have had a near death experience.  In this story protagonist, Edgar Freemantle once was a successful business owner in Minnesota. Married with two adult daughters, life was good. Everything changed for Edgar when a crane came down on his truck with him inside of it.  Head injury, extensive rehab, lost arm, and now a wife who can't deal with how her husband has changed (periodic fits of anger and rage) -- Edgar's life will never be the same.  His shrink suggests a change of environment, and doing something he once enjoyed (drawing in Edgar's case ) may be just what he needs.

Edgar relocates to a tiny island off the coast of Florida --Duma Key.  His home is Florida is large and pink, "Salmon Point #13". He refers to the place as "Big Pink".  Although the place takes a bit of getting use to, the place has breathtaking and inspiring sunrises and sunsets. Soon Edgar begins to experience strange sensations and itching in his phantom arm. When this happens, his creative juices to paint and draw are stirred and amazing creations happen. His work before long is in demand and he becomes pretty famous on the island, but this comes with a price.

Freemantle's art is different. It paints a story of things to come, and they are not happy things either.  Before long this gift becomes a curse, and it becomes clear that the remote coastal town of Duma Key,  has more sinister things happening there than one would suspect.

Did I like this book? Yes, quite a bit, but I found it a bit too wordy. It's over 600 pages and the build up to the sinister events takes about 2/3 of the book.  I must say though that I never felt bored though.  I alternated between the Kindle eBook and the audio book that I got from the library, and I found one to really compliment the other.  The audio reader, John Slattery was very good, and it was particularly fun to listen to Edgar's misspoken words, which had resulted from his head injury.  Some of what he come out with was very humorous. In my opinion, that had less effect with the print version.

All the characters were very well developed, and this is where Stephen King really shines. Besides Edgar there was his elderly landlady, Elizabeth Eastlake, who encourages Edgar to pursue his drawing. She has deep ties to Duma Key and more than a few secrets of her own.  Her caretaker, referred to as "Wireman" is another individual who provided interesting and fun dialogue for Edgar.  I did not find the novel terribly graphic or scary, like many of his earlier books, so for me that was a good thing. I love books like this as we ease into fall. Try this one --it's well worth the time investment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Snapshots

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ AT Home With Books.
Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 
CLICK on Photos to Enlarge

Squirrels hate these seeds ~ chipmunks aren't as fussy!
(safflower seeds)

The male house finch thinks, "Lucky me - It's full again"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Those Across the River; Christopher Buehlman

Title: Those Across the River
Author: Christopher Buehlman
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Ace
Edition: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Location: Georgia
Date Completed: 9/19/2011 
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

1935 was not the best year for former university history professor, Frank Nichols. Frank loses his teaching job after his indiscreet affair with Eudora (Dora), the wife of an influential professor is made public. Eudora, who is only 20 years old was married to a much older man, and is in the process of a divorce so that she and Frank together.  Frank is also older than Dora by 12 years.  After Frank is unable to find work around Ann Arbor, where jobs are scarce in the mid-1930s, he learns that he has inherited some property in rural Whitbrow, Georgia, from an aunt he had never even met, Frank convinces Dora that moving to Georgia may just be the fresh start the couple needs, in a place where no one knows anything about them. 

Frank decides to ignore his aunt's specific instructions in her will warning him he should not live in the house he inherited. She states instead that he should sell the property as soon as possible.  The couple, however, thinks the house seems perfect for them. Dora gets a teaching job at the local school, and Frank hopes to pursue his dream of doing some research about his ancestors in the hopes of writing a book. Frank's grandfather, Lucien Savoyard was reported to be a cruel, confederate plantation owner, who refused to free his slaves after the emancipation.

As the couple tries to settle into small town life, things begin to take an unpleasant turn for the couple.  Frank, who had served in World War 1 is plagued by flashbacks of the war.  In addition, rumors about a massacre that occurred years ago around the plantation "across the river", further intensify the bad dreams and flashbacks he is experiencing. The townspeople friendly but, a suspicious lot who believe evil lurks in the woods nearby which leads to the river. They perform a monthly ritual to coincide with the new moon to keep the evil spirits a way.

The suspense and tension build at a steady pace in this story. The reader knows something big will most likely happen, but when and what?  There is an interesting blend of history and horror in this novel which made this a somewhat unusual, but yet addictive read. I thought the first person POV intensified the reading experience for me, and although some may be unhappy with the resolution, I thought, Those Across the River, was a pretty good debut novel overall. I'm hoping I will see more from this author in the future.

Waiting on Wednesday; The World We Found; Thrity Umrigar

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. This week's selection happens to be from a favorite author of mine. I think her writing is beautiful.  Have you read any of her books?

January 3, 2012 - Harper Collins

University students in late 1970s Bombay, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta were inseparable. Spirited and unconventional, they challenged authority and fought for a better world. But much has changed in the thirty years since those heady days. Following different paths, the quartet has drifted apart, and the day-to-day demands of work and family have tempered the revolutionary fervor they shared. Then comes devastating news: Armaiti, who moved to America, is dying and wants to see the old friends she left behind. In the course of their journey to reconnect, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta must confront the truths of their lives—acknowledge long-held regrets, face painful secrets and hidden desires, and reconcile their idealistic past and their compromised present. And they will have to decide what matters most—a choice that just may help them reclaim the extraordinary world they once found. Exploring the enduring bonds of friendship and the power of love to change lives, The World We Found also offers an indelible portrait of modern India—a nation struggling to bridge economic, religious, gender, and generational divides.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (s) Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week's selection:

" At the end of the night that would change everything, the widow stood on her porch and watched  as the young woman was marched down her front drive and shoved into the sedan.  The girl did not fight back, bound and tied as she was, nor did she cry out into the chill autumn rain, so surely the doctor and his attendants thought they had won.  They did not know, as the car doors slammed shut, the engine came on, and the driver steered them down the muddy hill toward the road, that the widow and the girl in the backseat had just defied them right under their noses.  The widow waited until the taillights reached the bottom of the drive, then turned and entered her house.  And as she stood at the foot of the staircase, hoping they'd show mercy to the young woman and worrying about the whereabouts of the runaway man, the widow heard the sound the doctor hadn't been seeking.  It was the sound that would always connect her to the girl and forever make her remember the man.  It was the sweet, deep breaths of a hidden person. A sleeping stranger. A baby."

 Would you read this one based on the first paragraph intro?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mailbox Monday

In September, Mailbox Monday is hosted by: Amused By Books. Bloggers get to share the books that arrived by mail during the previous week. Here's my new book's, can't wait to see yours!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - Frenemies

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ AT Home With Books.
Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 
CLICK on Photos to Enlarge
 The closest they've been in 8 years
The stare-fest

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Frenchman's Creek; Daphne DuMaurier

This was a Read-A-Long with Jo@ BiblioJunkie
(be sure to check out what Jo has to say about this one)

Title: Frenchman's Creek
Author: Daphne DuMaurier
Publication Year: (1941) (2009-my edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Edition: trade softcover
Source: purchase
Location: Cornwall
Date Completed: 9/ 6 /2011 
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

Frenchman's Creek is my third novel by Daphne DuMaurier, after Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. I loved both of those novels because of the dark and Gothic feel, not to mention the fabulous writing, and while the writing is beautiful in this novel as well, it almost felt like a blend of romance and fantasy to me.

 Lady Dona St Columb, is approaching her 30th birthday. An upper-class society lady in London, she's the mother of two young children, bored with high society life, and tired of her husband Harry's drinking and card playing.  Almost as an excuse to escape her present circumstances, she pulls a prank at a society function on an older woman, a Countess.  The following morning she summons her carriage and she flees, along with the two children to her husband's country home, Navron House, on Cornwall's countryside.  (a beginning which felt very much like Jamaica Inn, but it was not.)

Lady Dona, loves the home in the country even though all the servants are gone except for William. She loves her new freedom, likes to garden and she even doesn't mind getting dirty, and her walks along the sea give her plenty of alone time to reflect on her situation.  One day she see a  ship near a cove and soon discovers that it is a pirate ship, and probably the one that has been stealing from the local people in Cornwall.  She is drawn to this group of happy pirates, and especially one pirate in particular, the "Frenchman", Jean Benoit de Aubery. She joins them on one of their escapades, and soon is enamoured by what she's experienced -- the sense of adventure she was searching for. Will she find a new long term love in adventurous Jean Benoit, or will she return home with the children to her husband Harry?

As with DuMaurier's previous novels, this one is also very atmospheric. Both the weather and descriptiveness of place drew me in big time. There are so many beautiful passages about nature, adventure and love. At first I didn't care for Lady Dona as she seemed like a spoiled-society brat, but then suddenly I began to admire her boldness. She was a head-strong woman, not afraid of taking risks, who by taking chances discovered who she was and what was most important to her in life.  Not my favorite DuMaurier novel to date, but still a terrific historical novel that would be hard for most readers to enjoy at least on some levels.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Night Circus; Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication Year: Sept - 2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Edition: ARC
Source: publisher
Date Completed: 9/ 12/2011 
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

Le Cirque des Reves, the Circus of Dreams, is not like any ordinary circus you've ever seen.  It's magical - full of illusions and everything mystical, and it happens only at night.  The story has a bit of mystery and a non-traditional romance mixed in with all of the magic, which makes for an unusual yet memorable read.

The story jumps around in time a bit, but for the most part takes place in the late 1800s early 1900s. It's a pretty simple story actually. Celia, was left at the age of 5 at the home of her biological father Prospero (the Enchanter), along with a suicide note from the girl's mother.  Prospero, early on notices his daughter's special magical qualities and begins grooming her with hours and hours of training, believing that some day she will be able to compete and win the circus competitions.  Alexander (the Man in the Gray Suit) is Prospero's nemesis. He goes to the orphanage and adopts young, Marco who he believes, for his own selfish interest,  is the perfect child to groom for competitions as well.

When Celia and Marco begin to compete, they are fabulous and the crowds love them. As the competitions continue they begin to fall in love, and magical and beautiful symbols of their love begin to appear. Yet despite the new beauty there is sadness. Little do either know that they are pawns in a game designed by the men who taught them. When one finally wins, the other must die. To say more would be to spoil the story for prospective readers.

Although I rarely read novels in the fantasy genre, I found this story amazing. It's so well written: very visual, very atmospheric and very magical.  I was amazed that this was a debut novel for Ms. Morgenstern; she will certainly be an author I plan to follow.  It was great to learn how the circus came to be, and I loved the way this novel made me feel after the final page was turned. The Night Circus is one novel that I will be talking about to those who love something just a tad different. Try it!

Waiting on Wednesday ~ Weekend Hats: Cecily Glowick MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine.

Here's what our family and friends are anxiously waiting for:

Weekend Hats; Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre ~ October 18th - 2011 - Interweave Press

My daughter's 2nd knitting book (above) will be released in October. So we are very excited for both Melissa and Cecily. Their first knitting book, New England Knits, went into 2nd printing after selling all of  the first 17,500 copies before Christmas 2010.

Weekend Hats ~ Overview

Embrace the hottest head-turning fashion accessory: the knitted hat

The clever designs of Weekend Hats will have enthusiastic knitters everywhere rejoicing in year-round hat style. Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre have brought you the best in designer knit hat patterns all in one beautiful and fun-loving collection. Included are 25 clever variations on caps, berets, beanies, cloches, hats, toques, tams, and snoods ranging from feminine to sporty. This collection of unique designs makes knitting a picture-perfect hat easy-to-do, offering the best in contemporary style and customized techniques. Inside you'll find:
  • Twenty-five contemporary hat patterns from authors Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre as well as top-notch designers including, Jared Flood, Connie Chang Chinchio, Kate Gagnon Osborn, Courtney Kelley, Kristen TenDyke, Cirila Rose, and more.
  • Expert advice appropriate for a variety of skill levels with special attention paid to exploring cables, lace, color, and texture. 
  • Tips and tricks on how to maximize the use of specialty yarns and accessories to add a little panache to your designs.
All the designs in Weekend Hats are ideal projects for travel, gifts, or sneaking in between larger knit projects. With the guidance of this expert knitting team, you'll learn everything you need to know to master both the styling and technical aspects of creating distinctive knitted hats.

Whether you're interested in comfort, style, or just knitting enjoyment, Weekend Hats is your all-in-one resource for creating want-to-wear knitted caps.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week's selection was released last week:

ACE Books, New York
(The first page of the first chapter is mostly short dialogue, so I'm posting the first paragraph of the intro)
"He came out to see me in the cage because I belonged to him. I was like a new racehorse he still found interesting enough to visit at night, when the others were asleep. He sat there cross-legged on the wet ground, unmindful of the light rain which was falling on him.  It wasn't enough to extinguish his cigar, but it was enough to keep my ruined back waterlogged; enough to make me think my bones were made of cold pewter."
"I had drifted in and out. He might have been there an hour before I noticed him."
 "You're going to die out here, he said."
"He didn't say it to frighten me."
"He just said it."
  Does this opening draw you in?
(me, yes - just enough of the creep factor)
(Here's an overview in case you are interested)

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.

A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming...

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Night Strangers; Chris Bohjalian

Title: The Night Strangers
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Publication Year: October - 2011
Publisher: Crown
Edition: eBook and ARC
Source: Net Galley and Amazon Vine
Location: New Hampshire
Date Completed: 9/ 9/2011 
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

In The Night Strangers , The Linton's, Chris and Emily along with their ten-year old twin daughter Hallie and Garnet are looking for a new home and a new start.  The couple decides to move from West Chester, PA, after Chip, an airline pilot, crashes a 70 passenger plane over Lake Champlain in Vermont.  A flock of geese flew into the engines, causing them to become inoperable. Some 39 passengers died in the crash and only 9 miraculously survived.  Ever since that tragedy, Chris has been plagued by nightmares, flashbacks and depression. He is being treated by a therapist for PTSD.  He strongly believes that a change of locale is just what he and his family need.

The family finds a 3-story Victorian home in a secluded area of Bethel, New Hampshire. The house has been vacant for a while, but it seems perfect for them, so they buy it.  Only after they move in do they find several oddities about the new house. The major one being a basement door, believed to lead to an old coal cellar is bolted shut with 39 carriage bolts--the exact same number as passengers who lost their lived aboard Chris' plane. The former owners, who lived in the house for some 50 years, also had a set a twins (boys) however, one was said to have taken his own life when he was only 12 years-old, and the old woman who had lived there was said to be "a sociopathically skittish old woman". Greenhouses are everywhere in this town, and some of the townspeople are very odd, popping up when least expected.

What's behind the door with the 39 carriage bolts? Why do a few of the townspeople seem overly chummy and fascinated with the Linton's twin daughters?  When strange things begin to happen, it becomes apparent, at least to the reader, that their new place in Bethel, New Hampshire is not quite the miracle new start that the family was hoping for.  

My thoughts - I have been a huge fan of this author, and have read and loved most of the books he has written.  This new novel is a bit of a departure from what he has written previously.  I loved the writing, it's very descriptive and atmospheric, and it is told from multiple POV, which included even the family cat at one point, and even that worked well.  What didn't sit well with me was the fact intelligent parents like the Linton's, Emily was a lawyer, and Chip, even if he was suffering from depression and PTSD, could act so clueless,  allowing their young daughters so much freedom to spend time with such very new, and obviously oddball neighbors.  I saw the ending coming, and I'm not really sure how I felt about it either.  
I am still happy I read this book, but it wasn't a favorite. I think this book will appeal to readers who enjoy a bit of paranormal fiction or psychological thrillers.

Mailbox Monday - September 12th

In September, Mailbox Monday is hosted by: Amused By Books. Bloggers get to share the books that arrived by mail during the previous week.
Here's a peek at my week for new books!

 This Beautiful Life; Helen Schulman (paperbackswap)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Giveaway Winner - Night Circus; Morgenstern

Thanks so much to all who took the time to enter



 Where were you 10 years ago today?

I think many of of are thinking that it does not seem like (10) years since the US experienced this devastating attack at the hands of terrorists.  

My husband and I were on vacation in Las Vegas with friends on 9-11-2001.  It was to be the last lay of our vacation, but we were not allowed to fly home until (2) days later. When we woke up that morning and turned on the television, we could not believe our eyes.  We immediately called our friends who were staying in a different hotel, as well as my husband's son who lives in NYC (Manhattan) with his family.  We could not get through to NY, but were pretty confident that they were no where near the WTC at that early hour.

Although no one that we knew had lost a loved one in the attack, to us it felt like we new everyone who was lost or missing. While we mourned, so did much of the world around us.  To those who lost a loved one, a friend or a coworker, our hearts, once again, go out to you on this difficult anniversary.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Snapshots - Where I was Today!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ AT Home With Books.
Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online. 
CLICK on Photos to Enlarge

Library Book Sales are so much fun.
9:30 am
10 am
11:30 a.m.
I've learned to be much more selective lately.
I could have bought so many more.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; Haruki Murakami

Author:  Haruki Murakami
Publication Year: 2006
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Edition: audio book
Reader: Patrick Lawlor and Ellen Archer ( good)
Source: Library 
Date Completed: 7/27/2011 
Setting: Japan
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

I listened to this collection back in July but never wrote a review. Looking over my notes, I thought I'd share my impression.

In true Murakami style, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is a collection of some (24) short stories which ranges from very real situations to extremely surreal experiences; most of which were well done.  I found the (2) audio book readers appealing, but noticed a few reviewers who listened to the audio version were not fond of the readers presentations.

Some of my favorite stories were -
  • The Birthday Girl - about a 20 year-old woman (The Birthday Girl) working as a waitress in a Tokyo restaurant. The owner, which no one except the manager has ever seen lives upstairs for the restaurant. Every night at 8pm the manager delivers the exact same dinner to the owner.  On this particular night the manager goes home ill, and the waitress must deliver the owner's meal.  What occurs felt magical and left me satisfied.
  • The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes - a recommendation to change the recipe for Sharpie cakes is left for the Company Crows - yes real crows - left to decide which cake they preferred, the new or old recipe.  Left me with a huge smile
Others I Wanted to Mention -
  • Nausea 1979 - What does vomiting and crank calls have in common? In this story a man vomits for 40 days and 40 nights, and then suddenly the calls and vomit stops. - Yes a pretty gross theme for a short story, but so well done it was laughable.
  • Man Eating Cats - from a cat lover, this was probably my least favorite.
Some of the other titles in the collection
  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman - good
  • New York Mining Disaster - good
  • Airplane: Or, How He Talked to Himself
  • The Mirror (good)
  • A Folklore for My Generation
  • A Pre-History of Late-Stage Capitalism
  • Hunting Knife
  • A Perfect Day for Kangaroos (fun)
  • Dabchick (very good)
  • A Poor Aunt Story - (very good)
  • The Seventh Man
  • Crab (gross)
  • The Year of Spaghetti
  • Toni Takitari (very good)
As with many of Murakami's stand alone novels, this collection often dealt with stories involving loneliness and isolation. Many of the stories seemed like very normal topics and events, but then they veer off and take a bizarre twist, characteristic of this author's style.  The first person narrative, was frequently used which seemed to work very well for this collection.  I think most Murakami fans will appreciate this collection.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reservation Road; John Burnham Schwartz

Title: Reservation Road
Author: John Burnham Schwartz
Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Vintage
Edition: eBook
Source: Kindle Purchase
Location: Connecticut
Date Completed: 8/ 30/2011 
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: yes

Reservation Road is a tragic novel about the death of a ten-year old child.  As the story begins The Learner family is returning home from a concert, driving along a darkened road, Reservation Road, in North Canaan, Connecticut when the youngest child, Emma needs announces her need to use a restroom.  The father finds a dimly lit gas station/auto body shop along the road and pulls into the parking lot. While the mother Grace, and daughter head for the restroom, the father, Ethan, runs inside to make a purchase, while son Josh waits outside.  Josh wanders too close to the side of the curving road, it's dark outside and he is wearing dark clothing.  Along comes a vehicle driven by another father, a single dad, Dwight Arno, with his young son Sam asleep in the car.  After the Boston Red Sox game they attended went into overtime, he is late bringing his son home, and knows his ex is going to be furious. Driving too fast along the winding Reservation Road, with a headlight out, he sees something dark at the edge of the road,  swerves his car, but hits Josh in the process.  The impact wakes his son Sam who was asleep in the car, and the boy bangs his face on the window, giving him a black eye in the process. When Sam asks what happened, Dwight tells him that they hit a "black dog", but that he was sure the dog was had died, so he continues to speed, to return Sam home to his ex-wife in the hopes he has not jeopardized his visitation rights.

What follows is a compelling story of two fathers, and a family forever changed by the death of a child.  The story is told from the alternating points of view of the two fathers. As the reader, I couldn't help but feel badly for both men. Ethan, who lost his son and Dwight, the hit and run driver who struggled to build a relationship with his own son who was about the same age as Josh. Dwight had limited visitation with his son because his former wife lied to the courts about him being abusive, having a reputation as a hot-head.  Although Grace, grieves for her lost son as well, she does so at the expense of little Emma, and because of that, she was my least favorite character.

As Ethan and Dwight tell their stories, revealing significant events about their marriages and fatherhood, it soon becomes clear to the reader that their lives will intersect before the story ends.  What follows is a compelling, page turner written in a way that will make you think about how your life can change in a split second. It's about tragedy, guilt -- for what was done and what could have been done. The story was packed with emotion and one book that will be hard to forget.

John Burnham Schwartz  just had a sequel to this novel released.  His new novel, Northwest Corner, is one book that I am anxious to read.

Waiting on Wednesday - The Whisperer; Donato Carrisi

 Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. Here's what caught my eye recently...
The Whisperer; Donato Carrisi
Mulholland Books - January 2012
A gripping literary thriller and smash bestseller that has taken Italy, France, Germany and the UK by storm. — The severed arms of five girls who vanished in broad daylight are discovered buried in a clearing in the woods. Alive or dead, the remainder of the girls' bodies are nowhere to be found. Worse still, there is a sixth, yet to be identified.

At first, the case seems simple. A series of clues leads investigators Mila Vasquez, a celebrated profiler with an attitude problem who is an expert in crimes relating to children, and Goran Gavila, the eerily prescient criminologist who sees deeper into Mila's dark past than any man has before, to a twisted killer. But when they begin to follow the leads for the second missing child, it points in a vastly different direction.

Vasquez and Gavila begin to wonder if they've been brought in to take the fall in a near-hopeless case. Is it all coincidence? Copycats? Or, is there a mastermind of evil behind the killings? And if so, from where is he conducting his symphony of murder?

Obsessed with a case that becomes more tangled and intense as they unravel the layers of evil, Gavila and Vasquez find that their lives are increasingly in each other's hands....

THE WHISPERER, as sensational a bestseller in Europe as the Stieg Larsson novels, is that rare creation: a thought-provoking, intelligent thriller that is also utterly unputdownable.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week's selection is to be released in October (Crown) and is by one of my favorite authors. (I've read all of his books). I am 1/3 of the way into this one and it has held my interest.

The Night Strangers; Chris Bohjalian

" You see the long, wide, perfectly straight strip of asphalt before you, the hanger to your right with the words GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS painted in billboard-size letters along the side.  You recognize it as Burlington's runway 33, facing to  the northwest.  When your first officer lifts your plane off the ground, you know there will be a slight bump in about eight or nine seconds as you rise up and cross over the ravine churned out by the Winooski River.  There is always a slight updraft there, even on a muggy afternoon such as today's.  The sun has begun its descent in the west but is still high above the Adirondacks."
 Does this opening paragraph draw you in? Not for me, but I kept reading and am now hooked.
Here's the Book's Overview -
In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts.

The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain due to double engine failure. The body count? Thirty-nine.

 What follow is a riveting ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling, award-winning novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, meticulous research, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply. The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mailbox Monday - September 5

In September, Mailbox Monday is hosted by: Amused By Books. Bloggers get to share the books that arrived by mail during the previous week.
Here's a peek at my week for new books!