Sunday, February 17, 2019

Detective Inspector Huss; Helene Tursten

AUTHOR:  Helene Tursten
PUBLISHER:  Soho Crime
PUB. YEAR: 2003
SETTING:  Sweden
FORMAT:  - eBook - library (320pp)
RATING: 3.5/5

(translated by Steven Murray - fair translation)

The first in this crime series set in Sweden, Detective Inspector Irene Huss has her work cut out for her when Richard von Knecht, one of the wealthiest businessmen from an Aristocratic family plunges to his death. Initially, suicide is suspected as his son and wife of 30 years have just returned by plane from separate destinations. When it seems apparent the the victim was unconscious when he took the plunge, the case quickly turns to a homicide investigation.

I liked the Detective Irene Huss character, she's about 40, talented, skilled at Ju Jitsu and dedicated to family (husband and twin teen daughters) but, also superior at her job as well. This is a well-crafted police procedural that has plenty of suspects, secrets and surprises that kept me guessing.  Many of the characters will likely be featured in subsequent installments. Overall, I can only give this mystery an average rating as it was slowed and spoiled by the translation which was frustrating.  I do want to try more of this series but, I need to check who the translator for subsequent titles is before deciding.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Great Expectations; Charles Dickens

AUTHOR:  Charles Dickens
PUBLISHER:  Recorded Books (Frank Muller, Narrator)
PUB. YEAR: 2001
SETTING:  Victorian England
FORMAT:  - audio - library

Set in Victorian England around 1860, this Dicken's classic was a first time read/listen for me and overall, I really enjoyed the story of "Pip" (Phillip Pirrip), a boy of about 7 who grows up with very little.  His much older sister, Georgiana beats him routinely for no real reason so he stays away from the home as much as possible.  In contract to his sister, his brother-in-law Joe is his solace. Joe is a kind-hearted soul who does all he can for Pip.

From the escaped convict Magwitch to the quirky, eccentric Miss Havisham the characters came alive as I listened. I enjoyed the parts with Miss Havisham, a wealthy spinster who lives in a dilapidated house and prances around in a wedding dress. Her adopted daughter Estella is someone Pip is always trying to impress as he longs for her love and attention.

There are multiple plot lines in this classic and I especially enjoyed the vivid imagery Dickens created.  I thought the narrative was excellent but that maybe this was just a little longer than it needed to be.  I liked the Pip character, even though he makes some foolish choices, I liked watching him evolve. Frank Muller, the audio book narrator did a fabulous job.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Good Riddance; Elinor Lipman

AUTHOR:  Elinor Lipman
PUBLISHER: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT:  - eGalley - Edelweiss

Daphne Maritch is a newly divorced New Yorker who is attempting to declutter her all too tiny NYC apartment when she comes across her deceased mom June's yearbook which she inherited. The yearbook is from 1968, Pickering, New Hampshire High School, the year when Daphne's mom was a new, 24 year old teacher and class advisor.  The yearbook was heavily annotated and updated with comments each time she learned new tidbits about class members through the years.  Her mother's obsession with the yearbook stirs many questions but mostly why was Daphne's mother so obsessed with this time and the people in her life?

With no interest in keeping the yearbook, Daphne tosses it down the trash chute. Geneva, a filmmaker  who lives in the building finds the yearbook and thinks it might make an interesting project - Class of 1968, Where are You Now? A return to NH by Daphne and Geneva for a reunion brings about some shocking surprises.

Elinor Lipman is a favorite author but this book wasn't a hit for me. In fact it took me a while to get through it after the first 1/3 of the book.  Daphne and Geneva were both irritating characters for different reasons, and Daphne's father who was a more minor character was probably my favorite.  The publisher calls this a romantic comedy and yes there is some romance but, readers might be disappointed if "romantic comedy" is the reason they chose this book.  Although the story is funny at times, it's also pretty far-fetched. For anyone who hasn't read this author but would like to, I'd recommend starting with some of her earlier books like The Inn at Lake Devine - a favorite.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros- The Stranger Inside; Jennifer Jaynes

Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read. 

The Stranger Inside; Jennifer Jaynes
Thomas & Mercer - 2017


"AN ICY BLAST of wind roared through the quiet night, sending a beer bottle jangling across the concrete and a shiver sliding down the young college student's back. Exhaling loudly, she almost laughed at herself for being so creeped out.


Does this seem like you you might want to read?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

My Week in Review

    It's a beautiful sunny day with temps expected to reach 36 degrees today. The past few days we had lots of wind reaching 50mph which kept us indoors mostly.
    Thankful  - too many things to list but, yes, I'm grateful for it all.
    Reading - Detective Inspector Huss; Helene Tursten (very good). Rules of Civility; Amor Towles (audio). I have so many books checked out from the library that I'm sure many will go back unread.
    Finished -  I finished Good Riddance; Elinor Lipman (disappointed as she's a favorite author, but, I'm giving this on a so so rating of 3/5 stars). I finished the audio Dicken's, Great Expectations (the audio version read by: Frank Muller was very good).
    Watched - The Good Doctor, and The Residents a few episodes of Law and Order and that's about it.
    The Husband's Birthday Dinner  - We had a fabulous birthday celebration for the hub on Thursday evening which started off with a celebratory toast: Cosmo for me and Crown Royal on the rocks for him, followed by: 
    SCALLOPS MARE E MONTI (appetizer - shared): 
    Pan-seared scallops nestled in a bed of sautéed wild mushrooms and sauced with a lightly spiced tangerine butter. 

    8 oz FILET MIGNON, pan-seared, topped with confit garlic, sautéed mushrooms, and a Pinot Noir wine/balsamic reduction.

     NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE: Rich and creamy with a buttery graham cracker crust. Finished with pureed strawberries (shared).

    Needless to say - we didn't eat much the following day
    New To Me Stuff - I picked up this Valentine's Day heart-shaped pan that I saw in a magazine recently. Can't wait to try it this week.

    Last Week - We went to the casino on the day before the hub's birthday and I won almost $500 in just one hour. I told him I was tired of winning (LOL) so we didn't gamble very long. Honestly, I didn't want to risk losing the money.  My son, and his family were at Disney for the week and their little 4 year old  was quite happy. They also had a perfect weather week.  Friday, the other 2 sister granddaughters visited and we babysat while mom and dad had a few hours to dine - kid free. Very fun for us.
              Today - Today we are going out to brunch later.
      This Coming Week: We are actually celebrating Valentine's Day on Saturday at another favorite fine dining restaurant.
      New Books 
Hope you all had a good week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2 reviews - Tapestry of Fortunes; Elizabeth Berg and Morningstar: Growing Up With Books; Ann Hood

AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Berg
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books (7 hours)
PUB. YEAR: 2013
SETTING:  Minnesota
FORMAT:  - audio (library) - Barbara Caruso (narrator-just okay)
RATING: 2.5/5

Lately I've been looking for a few lighter reads so I'm catching up on Elizabeth Berg novels. 

In Tapestry of Fortunes, Cecilia (Cece) who never married was once a motivational speaker who traveled the country hoping to inspire others. However, when her close friend Penny dies after a brief illness, she's left lost and uninspired. She decides to declutter and sell her home in Minnesota and, in what seems like a strange move, she decides to move into a huge lovely home with three female house mates who couldn't be more different.  Each woman has a past to be reconciled with so the women embark on a road trip to try and deal with unfinished business.

This particular book was unimpressive overall.  I felt like I never really got to know the characters and even though there was a good dose of wisdom to be found along the way, something about this felt like a rough draft that needed more work.  I just couldn't connect to the characters.  This audio performance by Barbara Caruso was just okay.

AUTHOR:  Ann Hood
PUBLISHER: HighBridge Audio  (3 hours 44 min)
PUB. YEAR: 2017
SETTING:  Rhode Island
FORMAT:  - audio (library) - Donna Postel (narrator-excellent)

Ann Hood has always been a go-to author and her memoir about her fascination with book from a very early age spoke to me.

The author grew up in Rhode Island in the 60's and early 70's and from the age of 4 developed a love for books and reading.  By the second grade she was reading fourth grade level books.  Neither her Italian immigrant grandparents nor her parents were readers and books were not part of their home. Her mother felt books were a waste of time. Books for Ann made her lonely childhood less lonely and, escaping into books made her happy.

This is a relatively short memoir. I loved that she discusses, in depth, some 10 books published at very different time periods that transformed her life, taught her about sex and love and made her want to be a writer. This book is a real gem that book lovers will enjoy. The audio was fabulous.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Detective Inspector Huss; Helene Tursten

Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.  (This week's pick is by an author that I fell in love with last month when I read An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good.)

Detective Inspector Huss; Helene Tursten
Soho Crime - 2012

"NOBODY SAW HIM FALL through the dense November darkness. With a dull, heavy thud he hit the rain-wet pavement.  Even though it was still rush hour, there were few people on the street.  The pedestrians huddled beneath umbrellas turned inside out and scrunched their chins turned-up collars for a little protection from the icy, whipping rain.  Everyone who could was driving a car or jammed into the steaming warmth aboard a bus or streetcar.

An elderly woman pulling a stubborn, soaking-wet dachshund on a leash stood closest. The howls that she and the dog announced to those people in the vicinity that something serious had happened.  Hurrying pedestrians slowed their pace. Curiosity got the upper hand, and they were drawn toward the site of the accident."

What do you think? Would you read more or pass?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

My Week in Review

    It's a beautiful day with temps expected to reach 40 degrees today.
    Thankful  - The below zero weather that we had for 3 days last week is gone and we're in for several days with 40-50 degree weather. 
    Reading - Still reading Good Riddance; Elinor Lipman (almost done but I had a few books going at the same time). I started the audio version of Dicken's, Great Expectations (never read that classic) and I'm enjoying it.
    Finished -  I  finished (but need to review) Morningstar: Growing Up with Books; Ann Hood - I loved it (no review yet).
    Watched - The Good Doctor, and The Residents also well as an episode of the Tidying Up with Marie Kondo series about empty nesters decluttering. OMG this couple had so much stuff. I'm so happy, I'm not a collector or accumulator.
    In The Kitchen - I cooked one new thing this week - Orange glazed Chicken Breasts with potato pancakes and broccoli (surprisingly good). Once again, we ate out a lot.
    New To Me Stuff - I picked up a few light weight sweaters and a pretty scarf at the Loft on sale which will be great as we transition into spring - sooner than 6 weeks I hope according to the "Groundhog".                       
    Last Week - We only had yoga twice his week because of the snow. I did meet both my adult kiddos for lunch on Friday which was a short visit but nice.   We went to the movies to see the Green Book - LOVED IT! It was such a good movie, I can see why it's rated 8.3/10 stars.
    Today - We're going out to brunch later and tonight we will be watching the Super Bowl and cheering for our Patriots. I think only people from the New England states will be rooting for them and yes, I do understand why.

      This Coming Week: Thursday is my husband's birthday, so I've made reservations for dinner at a special restaurant.
    New Books 
Hope you all had a good week!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

January Reading in Review

I had a pretty good January for books. I read (10) books and had one DNF, The Overstory by Richard Powers. The writing and story was thought provoking for sure, but for me, I think it was a matter of bad timing as this book is not to be rushed and required a lot of thought. Unfortunately my mind was elsewhere much of the month so easier reads worked better for me.

One thing I noticed was that most of my book choices for January took me outside of the US - loved this.  I traveled to the island of St. John's, Germany, London, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and  France and then I did spend some time in the US as well: Iowa, Florida and Minnesota.

Favorite Book of the Month

  1. Winter in Paradise; Elin Hilderbrand - 3.5/5 (library print-Jan.)
  2. The Women in the Castle; Jessica Shattuck - 4/5 (eGalley and audio combo - Jan.)
  3. One Day in December; Josie Silver - 4/5 (eGalley - Jan)
  4. The Travelling Cat Chronicles; Hiro Arikawa - 4.5/5 (print-Jan)
  5. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good; Helene Thursten - 5/5 (library print-Jan)
  6. What To Eat When; M. Roizen, M.D. & M. Crupain - 3.5 /5 (NF- library-Jan)
  7. The Lady With the Purple Hat; Otilia Greco - 1/5 - pass (library print-Jan)
  8. The Whistler; John Grisham - 3.5/5 (audio-library-Jan)
  9. Waiting for Bojangles; Olivier Bourdeaut - 4.5/5 (eGalley-Jan)
  10. Tapestry of Fortunes; Elizabeth Berg - 3/5 (audio-library-Jan)

Fiction - 9
NF - 1

Audios   - 3
eBooks  - 3
print      - 5
audio/eBook Combos - 1

Borrowed from Library - 7
Off my Shelves - 1
Kindle - 2

February Previews

  • Morningstar; Ann Hood (completed/no review yet)
  • Good Riddance; Elinor Lipman (eGalley) (in progress)
  • Great Expectations; Charles Dickens (audio-library)  (just starting)
Happy Reading!