Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Salon - September in Review

We are officially in fall mode, and is there really any better season for cooking hearty meals, baking delicious pies and getting cozy with a good book under our favorite comforter?  I love fall, and the only thing better than fall would be retirement IMO ( 2 more years, I hope).

How was your September was in terms of reading?
Here's what I read in September...
  1. Love Anthony; Lisa Genova 3.5/5 (eGalley)
  2. More; I.C. Springman - 5/5 (library-kids)
  3. Extra Yarn; Mac Barnett - 4/5 (library-kids) 
  4. 1-2-3 Peas; Keith Baker - 3/5 (for review-kids)
  5. Prisoner of Heaven; Zafron - 4/5 (eGalley - no review yet) 
  6. My Brilliant Friend; Elena Ferrante -4/5 (eGalley) 
  7. The Good Dream; Donna VanLiere - 4.5/5 (HC/personal copy)
  8. The Chaperone; Laura Moriarty -  4/5 (audio/ARC )
  9. The Human Bobby; Gabe Rotter - 4.5/5 - trade/personal copy
  10. How the Trouble Started; Robert Williams - 4/5 - (eGalley)
  11. The Red Pony; John Steinbeck 3.5/5 (audio- no review yet)
  12. Dark Side; Belinda Bauer - 3/5 (trade/personal copy)
  13. IT; Stephen King - (DNF)- read 1/2 but wasn't feeling IT-ish)
  14. A Beautiful Mystery; Louise Penny- 4/5 (audio-no review yet)

I read (13) books, but (3) were illustrated kids books.  My favorite adult books were:  The Good Dream; Donna VanLiere - 4.5/5  and The Human Bobby; Gabe Rotter - 4.5/5.

Right now I'm reading and listening to Winter of the World; Ken Follett (book 2 of a trilogy - excellent) and reading the eGalley, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. October plans include finishing these (2) books and reading from this list:
Off to plan some slow cooker recipes for the week, and prepare an evening meal while the hub enjoys an afternoon of football.  I'm also planning of weeding at least (25) books from my collection today to be donated - that always feels good.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone, any plans for October?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - How to tell a Good Book from a Snoozer

Saturday Snapshot

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.

Good Book (above)

Snoozer (below)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Human Bobby; Gabe Rotter

Author:  Gabe Rotter
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Edition: trade
Setting: California
Source: personal collection
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

So many bloggers raved about The Human Bobby over the past year, that I just had to read it.  It also seemed like a good choice for Carl's RIP VII Challenge, and I am happy to say, it was. There's no horror and it's not scary either. If I had to classify it, I guess I would call it more of a psychological thriller.

In this story Bobby Flopkowski, is a young man whose childhood was marred by the suicide of his plumber father when he was just 15 and the death of his mom  just a few years.  Bobby was smart, and worked hard to make it through medical school. After graduation, his well-to-do medical school friend, Dicky,  invited Bobby (Doc) to join a private pediatric practice in ritzy Brentwood, California. A practice that Dicky's dad had set up for him.  Determined to make a better life for his wife is infant son, they couple soon bought a beautiful home in Beverly Hills and living the good life with his beautiful wife Ava, and little son Jack.

But when Bobby's first girlfriend tracks him down on the internet and comes back into the picture, now more attractive than ever, the reader knows something unsettling is about to happen. Something terrible does happens and Bobby's life and career quickly spiral out of control.  I don't want to reveal too much about what exactly happens, but trust me, it is a great story.  I will say that the novel begins with Chapter 31, and captured my attention from beginning to end. The story was never confusing and had me anxiously turning pages. Often bizarre and even disturbing, The Human Bobby is fast paced and extremely well done. I'm sorry I waited this long to experience it.

I will definitely be looking forward to more stories from this talented author.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How the Trouble Started; Robert Williams

Author:  Robert Williams
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Edition: eGalley
Setting:  UK
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes
I had a feeling this coming-of-age story was going to be an addictive read from the very first paragraph, which begins like this..... 
"The police were involved over the trouble.  They had to be.  But I didn't think of them as the police at first.  As an eight-year-old boy I expected uniforms, flashing lights and handcuffs.  Speeding cars and the glimpse of a gun.  Instead there was this woman in a business suit who drove a grey car slowly and always smelt of coffee.  She told me to call her Tracy, but I never called a grown-up by their first name before and couldn't bring myself to do it.  I tried, but it felt as impossible as saying 'fuck' in front of my mum, or jumping off a wall that was too high.  I teetered on the edge a few times but my brain wouldn't make my mouth form the correct shape and I ended up calling her 'Miss' instead.  'Tracy', she said, the first few times, but after a while she shook her head and gave up."

Early on the reader is pulled into the story, anxious to find out what terrible event occurred in Bowlend Fells, when Donald Bailey was just eight years-old.  We learn the "trouble" involved a little boy from the neighborhood who was just two years old at the time.  The story is told by Donald, now 16, and bit by bit we learn about the turmoil that filled his young life, and what made him an odd-duck, an outcast among his peers.  As a result of the constant taunts and cruel remarks Donald and his mother faced, she found it necessary for them to move to another town for a start fresh where no one will know either of them.
After the move, life does not magically become better in their new neighborhood. Lonely and conflicted over "the trouble" that has haunted them all these years, he spends much of his free time at the library after school. It is there that Donald befriends a young boy named Jake. A boy he tries look out for and protect as his mother is other away. Jake is half of Donald's age, and before long "trouble" has found Donald once again.
How the Trouble Started was an really addictive read.  Even though I was a bit disappointed by how the story ended, the author did a terrific job on building suspense and engaging the reader. Donald was a terrific narrator and my heart went out to him throughout this well-done coming-of-age tale. This is a book that should appeal to both YA and adult readers.  If you plan to read this one, you might want to avoid reading other reviews as I think several give out "too much information".  Overall it's a very good story, try it.

The Chaperone; Laura Moriarty

Title: The Chaperone
Author:  Laura Moriarty
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Edition: ARC
Setting:  Kansas and New York City
Source: Shelf Awareness
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes 
I initially started this book with the audio version, and although I was enjoying the story, I was feeling a bit annoyed by the reader, Elizabeth McGovern's tone, so I  actually ended up reading more of the story with the print version.  Initial frustrations aside, this was a well done historical novel that  held my interest, and was worth sticking with.

In The Chaperone, Cora Carlisle is a 36 year-old housewife from Wichita, Kansas who hopes to start a new life for herself as her son gets ready for college.  Her new role is that of a "chaperone" for a 15 year-old star struck dancer named Myra Brooks who will be training at a prestigious dance academy in New York City.

A fictionalized account of the caretaker's role to dancer Louise Brooks, Cora has her hands full early on from the time the two board to train for NYC back in Kansas. Myra is a know-it-all, smart-mouthed teen who is trying to act and behave much older than she is.  Although some may suspect this is more Myra's story, it's actually more a story about Cora.  A story I found both compelling and pretty fascinating as well.

Cora's early years spent at a Catholic orphanage in NYC, until the time she was sent aboard the "orphan train" to be raised by a farm family in Kansas in the 1920s.  Her new life was not that different from that of many children whose families could no longer support them. Like Cora, these children were shipped from crowded cities to rural farmlands, to be raised or adopted by farm families and required to work hard on the family farms.  Now as  a grown woman she is anxious to find out about her earliest roots to NYC.

Laura Moriarty creates a compelling story, at times both happy and sad. A story about two women who you'll feel like you've become friends with once you finish, because the author does such a good job developing her characters.  Told from Cora's perspective, the story covers an awful lot of issues considering the timeline of the novel.  From homosexuality, the KKK, racial inequality, women's suffrage, the end of prohibition and even a war, the story never gets dry or boring.

This is a book that should appear to historical fiction fans as well as reader who enjoy stories which cover an array of women's and social issues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

For today's First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, I'm featuring a book I began yesterday. I haven't seen this one blogged about very much, but I want to say that I am enjoying it so far.

Feel free to join in by posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book you decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Grab the banner and play along. 

2012 Man Booker Prize Long List

"Futh stands on the ferry deck, holding on to the cold railings with his soft hands.  The wind pummels his body through his new anorak, deranges his thinning hair and brings tears to his eyes. It is summer and he was not expecting this. He has not been on a ferry since he was twelve, when he went abroad for the first time with his father.  It was summer then too and the weather was just as rough so perhaps this should not take him by surprise.

His father took him to the ferry's cinema. Futh does not remember what they saw.  When they sat down the lights were still up and no one else was in there.  He remembers having a bucket of warm popcorn on his lap. His father smelling of lager, he had drunk beforehand at the bar, turned to Futh to say, 'Your mother sold popcorn'."

Would you keep reading?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mailbox Monday - September 24

Got new books? Share them on your blog by joining in on Mailbox Monday. Our September host is: Kristen @ BookNAround .

Hope you had a good week in books as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - September 22 - 2012

Saturday Snapshot

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.

Fall Flowers
Creature from a Co-worker's Garden

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Good Dream; Donna VanLiere

Author:  Donna Van Liere
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Edition: Hardcover
Setting:  Tennessee, 1950
Source: PBS/ personal copy
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend:  yes

 Set in 1950 back roads Tennessee, Ivorie Walker was the youngest child of the family, born years after her (6) brothers when her mother was 42. Ivorie's mom was always trying to find her a man, because at 29 she was considered an old maid. Her mother passed away just a month before Ivorie's 30th birthday and she died with a terrible regret  -- one which isn't revealed until toward the end of the story.

After her mother and father are gone our protagonist works as a teacher, and tends to her garden, canning the produce and giving most away to friends and neighbors. Her dog Sally isn't quiet enough to fend off her loneliness she sometimes feels.   She has a big heart and plenty of love to spread around.  When a feral young boy is found foraging for food in her garden, she tries to befriend him.  She quickly sees signs of abuse and neglect on the boy who has been living in the hills--- his body has fresh scars.  Who is responsible and who and where is his family? She is determined to rescue the boy who she learns later was named Peter.

For 1950, Ivorie was a strong, independent woman determined to do the right thing for this boy.  I can't say this novel is a light read as the subject matter is painful at times. It's the type of story that is bound to bring a tear or two to the eyes of some readers.  It's one of those books that you'll want to read in one sitting once you begin.  The author makes the story flow perfectly and even throws in a surprise for the reader toward the end about the regret Ivorie's mother took to her grave.  The story is believable and seems realistic of how I imagined small town life in the South to be like at that time.  If I had one minor complaint, it was that to me it seemed as if the feral boy, came around rather quickly in learning to trust Ivorie considering all he had been though.  Despite that it's a wonderful, hopeful story and a book that is worth reading.

If you are not familiar with this author, a few of her other books which I enjoyed in previous years were, The Christmas Shoes, which was also a movie,  The Christmas Secret and The Christmas Hope.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Brilliant Friend; Elena Ferrante

Author:  Elena Ferrante
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Europa Editions / Penguin
Edition: eGalley
Setting:  Italy
Source: Edelweiss
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend:  yes

The first in a proposed trilogy, by an Italian author I've enjoyed in the past, My Brilliant Friend, releases next week. The story takes place outside of Naples in a poor part of town. It's a town where people work hard just to put food on the tables of their families, tempers flare and violence is not unusual. Even good friends aren't always kind to one another.

The story begins in the present with a phone call and then flashes back to the 1950s. Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo are young girls who meet at the age of eight in the 1950s  and become friends. Both are from poor families and growing up has it's challenges, but Lila's family has even less than Elena's family.  This is evidenced by the jealousy Lila feels when she first sees Elena's somewhat superior doll.  The girls are playing and Lila throws her doll down a grate and then challenges Elena to do the same with her doll. When they can't find the dolls in the basement area, Lila tells Elena, the the town's most feared man, Don Achille has taken the dolls and put them in his bag. She challenges Eleana to confront him.

Lila, is clearly the leader, a bully who can stand up for herself. She's one of the most hated children in school at an early age. A girl who is brilliant, has spunk and determination and one who doesn't take no for an answer.  Elena is the good girl, also smart, however, she has to work very hard for good grades, while it comes naturally for her friend Lila.  Elena is also a follower who is constantly being challenged by her friend to do things that she is uncomfortable doing.

Sadly, in 1950's Italy even bright children do not automatically attend high school and college, oftentimes being expected to help the family out by working.  It is at this point that the girls paths take different turns, and ultimately the reader is left with lots of questions, which begs for another novel about  Lila and Elena grown up years.

(an interesting passage)

[I felt no nostalgia for our childhood: it was full of was like that, that's all, we grew up with the duty to make it difficult for others before they made it difficult for us.]

There is an interesting section in the novel where Lila talks about having episodes of "dissolving boundaries" where on those occasions the outlines of people and things suddenly dissolve and disappear. In fact this novel begins with a present day telephone call from Rico, a son of Lila to Eleana saying that his 66 year-old mother has disappeared, so there are many questions that go unanswered.

I liked this new novel, but I had a few issues with it as well.  Even though it is really Eleana and Lila's story (and they are such memorable protagonists), there are so many many characters in this novel. After a while, in my mind at least, I just figured each new person was pretty much someone related to one of the girls or a friend of someone else.  To me, all these non essential characters made the plot drag in certain parts, but don't get me wrong, this is still a story worth reading.

The translation is excellent and the author is a master of creating a wonderful sense of place. I could visualize the sights, sounds, smells of the villages, as well as the appearances of the characters. It's a story of family, of friendship and of the struggles and challenges of an impoverished life.  I suspect that the sequels to follow will nicely fill in the missing pieces of Elena and Lila's middle-aged years.

If you decide to read this one, I'd love to hear what you thought.

Other novels by this author which I enjoyed:
(the Kindle Editions are on sale at Amazon for just $4.99 each)

More; I.C. Springman and Extra Yarn; Mac Barnett and 1-2-3 Peas; Keith Baker

More; I.C Springman, author and Brian Lie. illustrator - 2012 Houghton Mifflin

MORE  is an interesting book about concepts and conservation for very young children. It is a beautifully illustrated counting book that demonstrates the concepts of: a bit much; much too much and enough, as well as the concepts of less, a lot less, not so much, and yes, enough!

For example, nothing is illustrated by using a completely blank page; "something", by showing a single marble in a nest; "a few" with (3) objects in a nest; "more and more" by lots of birds delivering objects to the nest, and finally "more than enough" by the tree limb breaking by the weight of all of the objects in the nest.

Extremely well done and beautifully illustrated. This one is a great educational tool for little ones

In this delightful book, a young girl named Anna finds a box of yarn in the snow, on one cold and snowy day.  She takes the yarn home and knits a sweater, but with still plenty of yarn left, she even has enough to knit a sweater for her dog Nate.  This however, is no ordinary yarn. Anna nevers runs out of yarn, even after knitting sweaters for her entire class, decorating the houses and cars, and even after the whole town's appearance has changed.

The Archbishop tries to intervene by getting her to hand over the box of yarn, but she is unwilling to part with it, so the Archbishop sends someone to break into her house and steal the box of magical yarn.  
Can you guess what happens next? You'll have to read it yourself to find out, but readers everywhere will be rooting for "good" to win over "bad" in this delightful tale. A fun read for parents and kids alike.


I'm not familiar with this "LMNO peas" series, but I was looking for a counting book for toddlers and I thought the concept seemed like a cute one.

Although the illustrations are colorful and very fun and the book is educational, it is not an ideal book for toddlers. FIRST, the book is way too large in size for little ones to handle (the targeted audience). The number 1-10 are covered and illustrated well enough, but then 11-19 is kind of glossed over, and then from 20 to 100, the illustrations and numbers are shown in increments on 10s, with the "peas" engaging in some cute antics.

It's cute, don't get me wrong, but if someone asked me for a counting book recommendation for toddlers, this one would not go on my list. Overall, I think there are nicer counting books for little ones out there.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

For today's First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, I'm featuring a book I began yesterday. I haven't seen this one blogged about, but I want to say that I am enjoying it so far.

Feel free to join in by posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book you decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Grab the banner and play along. 

Faber and Faber - July 2012

"The police were involved over the trouble.  They had to be.  But I didn't think of them as the police at first.  As an eight-year-old boy I expected uniforms, flashing lights and handcuffs.  Speeding cars and the glimpse of a gun.  Instead there was this woman in a business suit who drove a grey car slowly and always smelt of coffee.  She told me to call her Tracy, but I never called a grown-up by their first name before and couldn't bring myself to do it.  I tried, but it felt as impossible as saying 'fuck' in front of my mum, or jumping off a wall that was too high.  I teetered on the edge a few times but my brain wouldn't make my mouth form the correct shape and I ended up calling her 'Miss' instead.  'Tracy', she said, the first few times, but after a while she shook her head and gave up."

Would you keep reading?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mailbox Monday - September 17th

Got new books? Share them on your blog by joining in on Mailbox Monday. Our September host is: Kristen @ BookNAround .

I went a little Europa Crazy with (5) new acquisitions. Several came from PBS members over the last few weeks. The other, Victorine; Maude Hutchins is a NYRB classic that I purchased.

  The above are September and October releases

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Snapshots

Saturday Snapshot

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.

The sign read, "No Photos Please", but hey, it's not like I have the talent to make these.

These wind chimes would look great on the porch of a beach cottage, IMO.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

For today's First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, I'm featuring a book I plan to begin today for the RIP VII Challenge. I know several of my readers have read this one and enjoyed it so I ready to experience it for myself.

Feel free to join in by posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book you decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Grab the banner and play along.

"There's a staccato clicking sound in my head. Like a troupe of tiny, uncoordinated tap dancers performing on my brain.

The choppy, aggravating CLICK-clack_CLICK is interrupted when Eddie says: 'Fist I'ma find that fucker Manny and I'ma grab him by his greasy hair and BASH BASH BASH his fuckin' head against the sidewalk till I can feel his squishy brains oozing through my fingers...then I'm thinking Burger King."

Eddie's crazy.

I look at him bewildered and cautious. "Huh?"

"You assed me what I'm up to today, Doc."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Lazy Blogger Sunday Salon Edition

Yes, the lazy blogger nearly missed the whole weekend without a post.  I have no valid excuse unless Saturday down pours and winds or a perfect fall-like Sunday count.  Yesterday the weather went from sticky, hot and humid to heavy rain and wind  We went to an annual  fall festival, one which we always enjoy --it includes a really nice book sale generally.  I picked up about 10 new books, (2) were books I read previously as library copies, but loved so much that I got my own like-new copies now --Cutting for Stone and Little Bee. Have you read these? If not, you are missing on on (2) great novels IMO.

Today was a perfect low low 70's sunny Sunday. I took out the jeans and a few cardigans --just in case. It is suppose to be a beautiful week, and I only have to work (3) days so I'm pretty happy about that. I spent time reading on my deck (shaded until about 2 pm) and, I was actually cold -- haven't said that in a long time, so I only read outside for about an hour. I watched the movie Contagion for a second time....scary, but liked it a lot. I watched while ironing for a bit ....yep, I'm one of those who still irons and I actually like to iron while watching a movie.

I read - The Good Dream; Donna Van Liere - so different from my typical reads...think Nicholas Sparks, but the story was wonderful and just what I needed after a few too many depressing stories. It made my cry, and that rarely happens with me.  I've been listening to The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty, but the narrator isn't the best and I have at least 6 more discs to go, so although I like the story I may switch to the print version for the rest and move on to a different audio book.

Oh, and after lots of take out this past week I actually cooked tonight. Salmon (with a brown sugar glaze), baked potato and veggies -- it was yummy. (We skipped the ice cream and opted for watermelon for dessert).

Have a great week everyone!

Don't you want a pair or these?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Love Anthony, Lisa Genova

Title: Love Anthony
Author:  Lisa Genova
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books / Simon and Schuster
Edition: eGalley
Setting:  Massachusetts
Source: Edelweiss
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend:  yes

As a fan of Lisa Genova's Still Alice, a moving novel about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. I was anxious to see how she tackled the topic of Autism in, Love Anthony which releases later this month.

The story itself was more about the curve-balls life sometimes throws us and how sometimes if we pull ourselves up, it is possible to rebuild our lives and become stronger because of it.  The story takes place pretty much over a summer on the island of Nantucket. It involves a chance meeting of two women who are each dealing with a painful situation in their life.

Beth Ellis, is a wife and mother of three young girls who has experienced life dissapointments before. Her mother died several years earlier of breast cancer, just before Beth married Jimmy.  Now Jimmy has moved out and has been involved with a younger woman. Beth is trying to deal with situation by focusing on her girls. At times she drinks a bit too much, she spends time journaling and decides to try to write a novel. For her novel Beth decides to write about a little boy with autism.  It isn't until later that realizes that her inspiration came from a mother and her young boy that she had witnessed on the beach in Nantucket years earlier.

Olivia Donatelli is separated from her husband and has taken up photography while living on Nantucket. She is trying to ease the pain she feels with the loss of her son Anthony at the young age of 8.  Anthony was autistic, and years earlier it was Olivia and Anthony that Beth had seen on the beach. It was this mother and son who inspired Beth to write her novel, and it is through Beth's novel that the reader hears the unspoken thoughts of a little boy with autism, a little boy who never verbalized his thoughts when he was alive.

At the heart of this story we find two women trying to reach a point of acceptance in their lives given their current situation. Beth's character seemed a bit superficial to me, and I found it hard to connect with her story.  Olivia's story was more compelling. she was a mother seeking answers to the question, "what was her son's purpose here on this earth". "Why was he born with autism and then taken away at such a young age?"  I will admit that hearing Anthony's thoughts through Beth's book were touching. The epilogue did make me tear up a bit as well, and to me it was one of the best parts of the novel.  Love Anthony, is a good story, but I did have some issues with it. The biggest issue for me was that the novel, at times, had almost a almost chick-lit feel to it. Despite this it is still a story that many readers will be happy they read.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Broken Harbor; Tana French

Title: Broken Harbor
Author:  Tana French
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Viking
Edition: eGalley
Setting:  Ireland
Source: NetGalley 
Date Completed: August/2012
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend:  yes

Broken Harbor is Book #4 of the Dublin Murder Squad Series, but it's actually the first book I've read by this author. Despite beginning out of sequence, I had no problem plunging in full speed. If there was one down side, if you could call it that, I now want to go back and read the first 3 books. Broken Harbor was that good, and to me it seemed fine as a stand alone title.  I gathered that the top detective of this novel was also in French's last novel, The Faithful Place.

Mick Kennedy, known as "Scorcher" is the Dublin Murder Squads top detective.  He likes to play by the rules, and be able to take control of investigations that present themselves. Scorcher's partner is rookie, Richie Curran who already has a botched case under her belt. Their latest case is a real tough one involving the Spain family. Two young children under age 7 are dead, smothered in their beds, their father Patrick is dead --stabbed, and the mother, Jenny, also stabbed is fighting for her life.

The family lived in a once up and coming development on Broken Harbor, a development which was never finished after the housing market took a nose-dive. The homes are now mostly unfinished or uninhabited and the town has been renamed Brianstown.  Broken Harbor is also a place where Scorcher spent summers as a teen. he has some fond memories but also has some painful ties there, and in addition finds himself dealing with the mental illness of his younger sister Dina.

On the surface the Spain's case looks like an easy one to solve, but once the team starts investigating, too many things just don't make sense -- especially the many holes in the walls of the home and the numerous baby monitors pointed at the holes -- what was the purpose?  Just when I thought I knew where this story was going, I was caught off guard by some new revelation and things become even more strange. When I reached certain sections in the book, I literally could not stop reading.

Ms. French is skilled writer in my eyes.  She gives the reader just so much information at a time from the point of view of Scorcher. By doing this the author allows the reader to take in the clues, evaluate the possible suspects and ponder what might be going on inside of their heads.  If you decide to read this one, at least some of you, I suspect, will think you've solved the case and then later find yourself still scratching your head in wonder.  I can't wait to read another one by Tana French.

In case anyone not familiar with this author is interested, the order of this series is:

Time for a Giveaway - A Book I Loved!

It's been a while since I did a giveaway, and yesterday came across my like-new hardcover copy of Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay.  In case you haven't read this one, it's really very very good.  Want to throw your name into the hat and try to win?  Look at the awesome dust jacket.

A profound novel about the nature of faith and motherhood that “begins as the small mystery of one woman’s vision (or delusion) and explodes into a deeper story” (The Washington Post).

Mary-Margaret O’Reilly is seemingly a harmless enough young woman, ready and willing to help out Father Diamond in the Sacred Heart church in Battersea. She may not be very bright, and she is sadly overweight, but she can certainly clean, and is very good with children.

It is the statue of Jesus on the cross Mary-Margaret is especially drawn to, and one day she decides to give Him a thorough and loving cleansing. But then moments later she lies unconscious, a great gash in her head, blood on the floor. Word gets out that she has witnessed a miracle and soon a full-scale religious mania descends on the quiet church, and everyone, from Father Diamond to his small but loyal band of parishioners, is affected by it. After recovering, Mary-Margaret returns to the church, and obsessively, back to the statue of Jesus. He has told her things, things she must act on, and urgently. The act she decides on is a shocking one, making The Translation of the Bones a riveting story of passion gone tragically wrong.
  • US and International entries eligible
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    • Drawing will be held on Sunday, September 16th - 2012
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

For today's First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, I'm featuring a book I plan to begin in a few days. I've read a few of this author's earlier books and liked them.
Feel free to join in by posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book you decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Grab the banner and play along.

"I didn't set out to be an old maid.  When I was in my early twenties there was, according to my mother, "still hope for me."  But when I got into my late twenties the hope all but left Mother's eyes. 'Lord have mercy Ivorie,' she would say. 'What is going to happen to you when your pop and I leave this earth?'  I was, in her opinion, doomed to a bed-of-nails existence without a man."

Would you keep reading or take a pass?

Monday, September 3, 2012

RIP VII now through October 31, 2012

Once again, it's time for Carl's annual RIP event. Thanks Carl. I know many of you look forward to this challenge every fall (this is my 5th year).  Although there are several different levels of participation, I'm sticking with Peril the First (read 4 books that fit the challenge between, September 1st and October 31st).

Here's my list -- I plan to read at least (4) of these (10) chill-thrill books:   
  1.  The Beautiful  Mystery; Louise Penny 4/5 stars
  2. Gone Girl; Gillian Flynn - 3/5 stars (completed) 
  3. In the Woods;Tana French - (Book # 1 of 4 series) - As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

    Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox — his partner and closest friend — find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
  4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest; Stieg Larrsen- (Book #3 of series) - Lisbeth Salander—the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels—lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.
  5. Darkside; Belinda Bauer - 3/5 stars (completed) 
  6. The Human Bobby; Gabe Rotter - 4.5/5 stars (completed)
  7. Broken Harbor; Tana French - 4.5/5 stars (completed)
  8. In the Tall Grass; Stephen King and Joe Hill 3.5/5 stars (completed)
  9. Faithful Place; Tana French - Tana French's In the Woods and The Likeness captivated readers by introducing them to her unique, character-driven style. Her singular skill at creating richly drawn, complex worlds makes her novels not mere whodunits but brilliant and satisfying novels about memory, identity, loss, and what defines us as humans. With Faithful Place, the highly praised third novel about the Dublin Murder squad, French takes readers into the mind of Frank Mackey, the hotheaded mastermind of The Likeness, as he wrestles with his own past and the family, the lover, and the neighborhood he thought he'd left behind for good.
  10. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton -  It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancĂ© jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love.

Have you read any of these? Where shall I begin?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Salon - Labor Day Weekend Edition

Hope all my readers here in the US are enjoying an extra long weekend with family and friends, and those of you you in other countries are enjoying free time as well.  Although fall doesn't officially arrive for a  (3) more weeks, I always tend to think fall once Labor Day arrives, and certain things happen.

For example, the freshmen arrived on campus on Friday, so there was all kinds of special ceremonies etc for new student, transfers and family; the rest of the students move in today.  I love having all the students back as that, let's face it is job security, but I also need to find a new reading place at lunch instead of the beautiful student union.  I find myself retreating to the quiet, study floor of the library which works out just as well.

Other things happen happen as well, fall clothes shopping: a few new sweaters, new darker color pants, new shoes (the sandals get put away), and dare I mention thoughts of Holiday gift shopping...ugh frightening, I know.

My reading habit also change in fall and winter, with lots more mysteries and thrillers, a few holiday reads, and a few less audio books as well.  I love curling up with the comforter, fireplace and a warm beverage. And, as in past years, I look forward to participating in Carl's RIP Challenge (#VII). This Challenge runs for all of September and October and there are several levels of participation -- it's always fun. Do you plan to join?

How was your August for Books?

Less blogging and more reading worked well for me. Here's what I read:
  1. Canada; Richard Ford - 4.5/5 (audio and eGalley)
  2. Heading Out to Wonderful; Robert Goolrick - 3.5/5 (eGalley and audio)
  3. Use Your Brain to Change Your Age; 3.5/5 Dr Daniel Amen (audio)
  4. January First; Schofield (NF) 4/5 - eGalley
  5. The Innocent; Baldacci - 4/5 (audio)
  6. Tell the Wolves I'm Home; Brunt - 5/5 (eGalley)
  7. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Rachel Joyce - 5/5 (ARC)
  8. The Folded Earth; Anuradha Roy - 3.5/5
  9. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving; Jonathan Evison - 4.5/5 (eGalley)
  10. Broken Harbor; Tana French - 4.5/5 (egalley) 
  11. The Sandcastle Girls; Chris Bohjalian - 4/5 (eGalley)
  12. Love Anthony; Lisa Genova (eGalley - in progress)
  13. Prisoner of Heaven; Zafron - 4/5 (eGalley/audio - no review yet)
  14. IT; Stephen King - (audio in progress) 
I finished  - (11) books - (5) audio books, (5) eGalleys (1) bookshelf .

I had (2) favorite reads, Tell the Wolves I'm Home; Brunt - 5/5 (eGalley) and., The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Rachel Joyce - 5/5 (ARC), but I enjoyed most of the others as well.

I didn't complete my personal Summer Reading Challenge which I began Memorial Day and Ended today, Labor Day which I was to read (10) books from the list I created back in May - I only read (8) but am still happy about that.

That's about it for this today, except I'd like to leave you with a couple of photos, that made me smile. Hope they make you smile as well:)

"I got you last Buddy"

"No, I got you last Baby"