Friday, December 31, 2010

The Big O by Declan Burke

I just finished Irish author, Declan Burke's, The Big O a few minutes ago, just in time to get it in as one last post before the new year, and it did make for a very enjoyable final book. It was clever, funny, the characters smart and witty, and a plot evocative of Elmore Leonard.

Rossi, Karen's ex-husband, is fresh out of prison, and ready to start anew by starting up a "charity" to help other ex-cons adapt to the real world, but he needs his sixty grand, that Karen is "holding" to use as start up cash. Karen, a receptionist and armed robber, has been dreading the day Rossi will be released. Things are just starting to go her way and she has finally met a seemingly wonderful guy, Ray, a professional kidnapper, pulling one last job. Karen has no problem with his vocation, that is, until she finds out he was hired, by her boss, to snatch his ex-wife, Madge, who happens to be her best friend. Add in a husky/wolf mix, a female cop with a crush on Ray and a narcoleptic wheel man and you have a very intriguing and fun story.

My favorite lines..
So then Ray had to explain murals to the shylock. This after Terry and Ray turned off their mobiles, in case someone might ring, incriminate the shylock in a dogdy deal. Then came the back-and-forth about how Ray owed it to Terry and the shylock not to walk away. How it could be dangerous having someone out there who knew what Ray knew, could put people away for serious time if he didn't keep his trap shut.

"First off, " Ray said, "nothing I can say touches you, right?"

"Damn straight, " the shylock grunted.

"Okay. So now we're talking about Terry." Ray looked across the desk. "You worried about me, Terry?"


"Why aren't you worried, Terry?"

"Because if you pull any shit that sticks to me, I'll have your heart cut out and fed to someone you're not so keen to see eating hearts."

Ray said, to the shylock: "Terry and me, we go back. Why would I want to fuck him over?"
Intelligence, humor, and wonderful characters all made for an enjoyable, and quick read in the middle of holiday insanity. I look forward to the sequel, Crime Always Pays which can be found here if you have an ereader. Also, Declan's blog of the same name can be found here.

The Big O

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mindjacker by Sean Patrick Reardon

As I was reading Mindjacker I kept thinking what an insane ride the story was. It is fast paced, to say the least, and I'm not sure you really know what is going to happen until it happens. It reminds me of an amusement park ride in a way. That said, it also is the type of book I normally wouldn't read, since I'm not a big sci-fi fan. I did however enjoy the book, and I think Mr. Reardon accomplished what he set out to do according to this interview where he says
The audience I had in mind when I wrote it would be adults around ages of thirty to fifty, who enjoy pop culture and may not be avid readers. I think it is a known fact that men are not reading much overall. I wanted to write a story that a guy could read in a few sessions, be entertained, and maybe decide to start reading some of the great crime fiction that is out there today.
Mindjacker is the story of Joel Fisher, a rather egotistical and manipulative psychologist who seeks to create a device to control the minds of anyone he chooses. He, unbeknownst to his human guinea pigs, tests out his mind control device, the Dreemweever, and not only attempts to control their future, but does so by recreating their past. He isn't gentle in his test either...
"Enjoy the show," Mr. Kite's voice whispered through their speakers.

Ballroom Blitz blasted inside Scott's headset and the ride started. he really did feel like he was sitting behind the wheel of a car driving at night time. The ride moved his body with the visuals. Everything about it seemed realistic. The road was familiar and Scott recognized it was the 101, as the headlights beamed out over the road ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw something speeding toward him on the horizon. it flew at eye level, gaining speed, and then stopped in freeze frame just as it was going to smash into the windshield. Scott saw it had Tom's face. The screen unfroze and the black cloaked figure veered to the right, landing in the grass on the shoulder of the road.

the car cut hard right and crashed into the overpass abutment, slamming Scott's upper body against the torso restraint. The screen went black. Scott struggled to push the headset off, but it wouldn't move and he couldn't squirm out of the shoulder restraints.

Get me out of this fucking thing.

The shrieks and profanity laden screams coming from the other adult riders caused Scott to struggle harder.(pg.31)
Scott doesn't realize it, but that was the easy part. Eventually however, the testing is done, and as Joel is right on the verge of completing his project, and selling it to his investors, the Dreemweever is accidentally stolen by car thieves and Joel must figure out a way to move his pawns and get the device back..quickly.

Along with writing, our author also seems to be a fan of music from the 1970's, and wrapped throughout the story is a playlist of music the characters enjoy as their journey unfolds. You always know what music is playing in the background, and, If you're interested, a complete list of songs from the novel can be found here, along with a list of songs that inspired the author as he was writing. I personally don't think I've listened to any of them, but I was only a few years old during that time so I figure I have a valid excuse.

To find out more about Mindjacker, and Sean Patrick Reardon, you can visit his blog of the same name here


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Borderlands by Brian McGilloway

My first thought after finishing Brina McGilloway's Borderlands was, "yep, it's an Irish novel alright". There is a lot of death, involving both bad guys and people you come to care about in the story, there is a lot of betrayal, and there is a lot of connections and interweaving of relationships. What makes this story stand out to me however are the imperfections and weaknesses in the main character, Inspector Benedict Devlin. He is not perfect, and not only makes mistakes as he investigates, which is common enough in the course of a murder inquiry, but also in his personal life with his wife and family. And, to add to Devlin's character, although he does struggle with the possible consequences, he is penitent and works to set things right.
"Debbie's a lucky woman," she said. "I was once, too." she smiled and waggled her finger at me. "ah, I remember. you couldn't control yourself with me once." Again she smiled coyly, but the impression in the darkness was anything but coy.

"A lot of water under the bridge since then, " I said. "I'll say goodnight."

"Goodnight, Benedict," she said. "Merry Christmas."

She leaned over to kiss me on the cheek, and so I leaned towards her. However, at the last moment, she moved her head slightly and the corners of our mouths connected with a tingle, like static. her lips were moist from her lipstick and I felt them tug slightly on mine. The gentle teasing of her lips, the warm haze of alcohol which filled my mouth and nose, the under scent of coconut which seemed to radiate from her skin - all took me back fifteen years. I shifted slightly in my seat, pressing my lips on hers, hearing her moan deeply, feeling the cool wetness of her mouth. Our teeth knocked together slightly, like a teenager's kiss. Feeling her tongue in my mouth, I touched the tip of it with mine. I placed my hand to the side of her face, her skin warm and soft.......
Unbidden images of my wife came to my mind and, with those, the sharp recollection of the threat of infection I carried. The haze lifted and I pulled away from her quickly.....
Then, over breakfast, while the kids played, I told Debbie everything: the arrest and the bite and my attack on McKelvey, nearly punching Williams, the incident with Miriam in the car, mcKelvey's death, and Costello sending me home. As I spoke I felt the familiar catharsis of confession and began to feel a little better - though aware that reconciliation requires penance and reparation as well as simple admission of guilt.
Throughout the story, you come to know an inspector who struggles, not only in his job, but also in life. It's a bit refreshing, and definitely adds another aspect to an already interesting plot.


Books I'm looking forward to reading in the near future: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy on the Kindle and The Lamb Enters the Dreaming by Nathanael Pepper if it ever arrives in the mail.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Catch up

I just noticed that my last post was about 10 days ago, and at the rate I'm going, I might only get 3 blogs in this month. However, I have been reading quite a bit despite my lack of blogging and the insanity that surrounds the holiday months, but what I'm reading just hasn't inspired me to write about it. I'm not sure why this is, since I have been enjoying the stories, but none the less, here is a little bit to get the 3 of you that read this blog caught up.

Dennis Lehane's Prayers for Rain and Moonlight Mile -I enjoyed both of these as a nice conclusion to the Kinzie and Gennaro series. I'm very glad Lehane wrote Moonlight Mile as a final ending and didn't leave things as they were in Prayers for Rain and I enjoyed the leap to the future that Moonlight Mile provided. My one gripe about the story is that little Gabriella has the reasoning of a much older person...I've yet to meet a four year old that can understand that throwing a temper tantrum in public is embarrassing. However, I find that a common issue in books, so I digress. On the whole however, I did enjoy both books.

Iris Johansen's Lion's Bride and The Treasure - Historical Romance is one of my guilty pleasures, and I do enjoy Johansen's version. Lion's Bride starts off the two story series with the story of Thea's escape from a house of Woman and her rescue by Lord Ware in a time when women were little more then a means of relief for whatever man might feel the need to use them. Thea however, has bigger dreams of opening her own embroidery shop and will do anything necessary to make those dreams happen. The Treasure continues the story by telling of Thea's little sister, Selene, and the ex-assassin, Kadar, and their journey to escape the hands of the power hungry and obdurate Nasim who wants Kadar to steal what he believes to be the famous Holy Grail in exchange for his life, and that of Selene's. I suppose both books are exactly what you would expect of a stereo typical Historical Romance, but they were very nice for a few hours of escape from this stressful time of year.

Next on my reading list, I'm going to attempt to read two books at once, which is something I've never successfully accomplished. I plan to attempt to read Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities on my Kindle while I'm out and about, and Brian Mcgilloway's Boarderlands while at home. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dennis Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone

For anyone that has read Lehane's books, you know he's not gentle in his plots. Often times, I have a sense of heaviness when I finish one. Gone, Baby, Gone was no different, and it struck home with the type of choice I dread ever having to make. The choice between moral conscience and the law.

Beware of spoilers.

A four year old little girl, Amanda McCready, is kidnapped and P.Is Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired by the child's uncle and aunt to find her. Her negligent mother, Helene, claims she put her daughter to bed and went next door to watch television with a friend, the next morning, she discovers her daughter is gone. What she fails to mention is the trip to a bar and getting stoned while she was out. This is just the latest in a long string of abhorrent events in the little girls life. A week before her kidnapping, Amanda was left sleeping on the beach while the mom went out shopping with her friend. Helene, tired of the little girls crying, finally took her to her brother to deal with her saying she was being "a bitch". The little girls uncle, seeing his niece's face and back, promptly took her to the hospital and was told Amanda was just short of having third degree burns from being left in the sun too long without sunscreen. The poor 4 year old could do nothing but cry from the pain. Patrick and Angela, knowing all of this, must now ask themselves, when they find her, will they admit to it and give the girl back to her mom, who she legally belongs to? Or, do they follow their conscience and save the girls life?

It's not an easy choice, and Lehane tackles it with the brutality that seems to encompass his stories. His is not an easy world.
Devin reached into his pocket and removed a cell phone, dialed 411. When the operator answered, he said, "West Beckett Sheriff's office, please." He repeated the number under his breath as she gave it to him, then punched the numbers into his cell phone keypad.

Before he could press send, Angie put a hand on his wrist. "What are you doing, Devin?"

"What are you doing, Ange?" he looked at her hand.

"You're going to arrest them?"

He looked up at the house, then back at her and scowled. "Yes, Angie, I'm going to arrest them."

"You can't."

He pulled his hand away from her. "Oh, yes, I can."

"No. She's --" Angie pointed through the trees. "Haven't you been watching? They're good for her. They're...Christ, Devin, they love her."

"They kidnapped her, " he said. "Were you awake for that part?"

"Devin, no. She's..." Angie lowered her head for a moment. "If we arrest them, they'll give Amanda back to Helene. She'll suck the life out of her."

Also, in case you are interested, I've discovered a movie was once made based on Gone, Baby, Gone IMDB

Should be interesting.

Gone, Baby, Gone

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

After seeing the BBC 6 hour miniseries of Pride and Prejudice earlier this year, I've finally read the book. I now see why many females the world over love this book and story. That said, and given the popularity of the story, I don't think I need to give an overview of the book, but I would like to touch on some of my favorite parts.

I love Mr. Bennet's response in chapter 20 when Mrs. Bennet goes to Mr. Bennet to importune him to force Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins.

Lizzy enters the room when called by her father..
"Come here, child, " cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage. Is it true?" Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well-and this offer of marriage you have refused?"

"I have sir."

"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is not it so, Mrs. Bennet?"

"Yes, or I will never see her again."

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

You can't help but love Mr. Bennet for that alone. And then there is the exchange between Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet at the pianoforte during a visit to Roslings. Elizabeth was playing for Colonel fitzwilliam when Mr. Darcy approaches..
"You mean to frighten me, Mr. Darcy, by coming in all this state to hear me? I will not be alarmed through your sister does play so well. There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."

"I shall not say you are mistaken," he replied, "because you could not really believe me to entertain any design of alarming you; and I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance long enough to know that you find great enjoyment in occasionally professing opinions which in fact are not your own."

Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to colonel Fitzwilliam, "your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so able to expose my real character, in a part of the world where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordsire and, give me leave to say, very impolitic too, for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out as will shock your relations to hear."

"I am not afraid of you," said he, smilingly

"Pray let me hear what you have to accuse him of," cried Colonel Fitzwilliam. "I should like to know how he behaves among strangers."

"You shall hear then, but prepare yourself for something very dreadful. The first time of my ever seeing him in Hertfordshire, you must know, was at a ball, and at this ball, what do you think he did? He danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner. Mr. Darcy you cannot deny the fact.

"I had not at that time the honour of knowing any lady in the assembly beyond my own party."

"True; and nobody can ever be introduced in a ballroom. Well, Colonel Fitzwilliam, what do I play next? My fingers wait your orders."

"Perhaps," said Darcy, "I should have judged better, had I sought an introduction; but I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers."

"Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?: said Elizabeth, still addressing Colonel Fitzwilliam. "Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in the world, is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?:

"I can answer your question," said Fitzwilliam, "without applying to him. It is because he will not give himself the trouble."

"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess, : said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."

"My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault, because I will not take the trouble of practicing. It is not that I do not believe my fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."

Darcy smiled and said, "You are perfectly right. you have employed your time much better. No one admitted to the privilege of hearing you can think anything wanting. We neither of us perform to strangers."
That scene, to me shows a lot about Mr. Darcy and Miss. Bennet. I love her teasing honesty, and his willingness to stand up to it. Of course, many things go on to happen after that part, and the relationship changes, but through it all, there is that humor and honesty between them that makes Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet two of the most loved characters in a love story today. They are certainly two of mine.

Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Elizabeth Crook's The Night Journal

I originally came across The Night Journal at a library book sale not far from here. I'm not sure what exactly made it catch my eye, but something did, and after sitting in a nearby chair and reading the first few pages I thought it might be, not a only something to break up the status quo of what I normally read, but also a book I'd enjoy. I was right. Reading The Night Journal was like escaping to a different world for awhile and getting caught up in history as it was happening. It's a story to curl up in front of a fire on a cold day while drinking coffee with.

Meg has spent her life rebelling against her grandmother Bassie's obsession with the past, and she wants nothing to do with the world famous journals written by her great grandmother in the 1890s. The journals tell the story of Hannah Bass' as she writes about her life..her job at the Harvey hotel as a young lady just turning into a woman, how she met her future husband Eliot Bass who often left her alone while he laid tracks for the rail roads, and how she met and got to know her best friend Vincente Morales. Eventually however, we all have to come to terms with life and face why we are who are, and that journey, for Meg, begins when she is asked to escort Bassie back to her childhood home and the ruins nearby.
"Wow" she whispered.

"They believed it was a link to the underworld, " Jim said.

Her gaze wandered around the walls and came to rest on Jim.

"A time portal," he said.

Indeed, the past seemed preserved here, in this dim, underground environment, as if the people were still down here and time had lost its linear dimension.

"It connected the realm of the underworld to the world above ground, "he said. "Spaniards filled up most of the kivas with dirt and trash so the Indians couldn't come down and worship their gods. So then the Indians built more kivas. And the Spaniards backfilled those, too. That indentation in the floor near the wall is called a sipapu. It was reminiscent of a human navel, and symbolized passage from an even deeper underworld at the beginning of life."

the wind wuthered over the opening, but the room itself, as Meg looked around the walls, seemed untouched by motion. The downward slant of light illuminated particles of dust that hung suspended in the frigid air. Jim stood at the base of the ladder, stark lights and shadows from the shaft of sunlight clinging to his face like paint as he spoke.

He talked about one of the kivas at Pecos that he had excavated.

"What was that like?" Meg asked. "To uncover a place like this?"

Imagine a room filled with dirt," he said. "And every shovelful just might contain a piece of gold. Metaphorically speaking."

"And did it?" she asked. "Metaphorically speaking?"

"We found some potsherds," he said, and she laughed. "We found a soup plate. Two hammerstones. Fragments of oxidized iron. Charred food bones, including those of a domestic rooster. Shall I go on?" but then his expression became serious. "It's like being the first person to walk into a room hundreds of years after the last person there walked out of it." (pg.156-157)

As Meg reads the journals, and feels as though she is, for the first time, beginning to understand her ancestors and who they were, she also discovers a history so secretive and shameful, that Hannah hid it from the very people she was writing the journals for. And, as Meg comes to terms with this, she also comes to discover what she wants and who she wants to be.

The Night Journal is a very picturesque and enjoyable story. At times, I wondered what it would have actually been like to go back and visit it for myself.

On another note, I'd also like to thank the author, Elizabeth Crook, for sending me another copy of the book so could fill in the missing 32 pages as mentioned here.

The Night Journal

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Laurie R. King's Keeping Watch

INCREDIBLE!! After reading Folly, I didn't believe Laurie King could possibly top herself, but it seems I was proven wrong with Keeping Watch. From the atrocities of the Vietnam War to the peacefulness of a Montana farm, Ms. King takes you on a psychological and poignant journey that will have you engrossed.

Allen Carmichael wanted more. He wanted adventure and experience, and he found it in the jungles of Vietnam where he went from a quotidian teenager to a man dealing with the atrocities of war.
That was not the whole of it, either. Allen looked up from Streak's slack features to another face startling in it's contrast, a face so contorted in pain and fear that he failed for a moment to recognize it. Farmboy Pete, helmet tipped back from that blond and tousled head, legs in the water, freckles stark against skin gone monstrously pale. he was trying to get his hands onto his belly where the medic was working; Two men were struggling to hold his wrists while Pete writhed and gulped for air, his eyes locking on to Allen as if to a life ring. Allen splashed over to his side, and one of the bloody hands shot away from its keeper to grab Allen's arm.

"don't leave me, Carmichael, don't leave me here."

Nobody's going to leave you, Farmboy, you're safe now. the medic's going to patch you up and it's off to the hospital with you, nice, clean sheets and plenty to eat, all those pretty nurses, don't worry." Nonsense phrases poured out, nonsense because it did not seem possible for a man to lose that much blood and survive to the medevac's arrival. "can't you give him some morphine?" he asked the medic.

"Any more might kill him."

Years later, after many years of living in disconsolation, Allen is ready to pick up the pieces as he realizes his very specialized soldier's skills could be put to good use as a professional kidnapper helping abused children escape the suffering that encompasses their daily lives. When Allen meets Jamie, a 12 year boy who claims his father is going to kill him, he knows the boy will be his last job. Soon however, Jamie's father's plane crashes and evidence is revealed that makes Allen wonder, if possibly, it's really the other way around. It seems this one last rescue is not going to be as simple as Allen originally thought.

Keeping Watch

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The bookshelf



I'm not sure how long it took me to fill it up, my husband says less than a year, but regardless, it's filled up, and when I think about what books to send back to half price, I just can't bring myself to do it. It's sad really. Good thing we bought enough wood for 2 bookshelves :)

Oh, if you want to know what all is on there, here's a link.. bookshelf Scroll around the linked picture to see what all has been tagged, (I think I got it all).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm perplexed - Elizabeth Crook's The Night Journal

I was finding The Night Journal an interesting story and a nice break in the status quo of books for me. It isn't the fast paced, dark crime novel I normally read, in fact, it's more of a slower paced fiction story. It was a nice change. Anyway, for the past week, I've been reading this novel, (now that I'm working part time I find my reading time has diminished quite a bit), and all of the sudden, the next page doesn't fit what's going on. I look down, and the page number jumps from page 152 to 184....32 pages missing out of nowhere!! The book doesn't look like pages are missing, nothing is cut out or torn, the binding doesn't look bigger than it should be, it all looks normal, but 32 pages aren't there. It's not a typo either because I have no idea what's going on on that next page. It really is an odd thing. Now I have to decide if I'm going to finish the book not knowing what happened in those 30 pages.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rick Rioden book signing

Last weekend Rick Riorden, my sons favorite author, had a book signing about 5 hours away, and since we have friends that lived in the area, we made a weekend of it. I'm also very thankful to these friends because they were able to get us line tickets much earlier than we would have been able to get them ourselves, which meant a lot less time standing around waiting. Instead, we got to try out new local restaurants, shop in a gihugeic outdoor mall, including Godiva, and all in all, enjoy the company of friends we never get to see. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad my son got to experience the excitement of getting to meet his favorite author. I'm hoping one day to get to do the same...assuming I can actually decide on a favorite that is.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the picture at the top left is a small taste of the crowd that was there, the picture at the bottom is the author himself signing a book for someone else since I dropped my phone and it turned itself off as a result when it was our turn...sigh...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Folly woodwork

In the story of Folly Rae Newborn is a woodworker who creates amazing furniture and tables out of otherwise useless stumps of wood. While browsing through an outdoor art festival this past weekend, I came upon a couple of pieces that reminded me of this.

The top one is a coffee table made of glass put on a stump, and the second picture, is a decorative fountain/table, again, made of a stump and glass. I couldn't help but think of Rae when I saw these.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Folly by Laurie R. King

In reading Folly, I've had one prominent thought...that Laurie R. King is a master of what she does. She is definitely the cream of the crop.
Rae Newborn has a hard history full of mental illness, she sees people that aren't there...hears noises that aren't being made, and losing her much adored husband and young daughter in a tragic accident has done nothing but agitate her already fragile state of mind. To make things worse, she was physically attacked not long after the loss of her family, and the attackers are still out there. In an effort to regain control and sanity, Rae decides to move to an island and rebuild a house once owned and built by her great uncle. She hopes to use the solitude and silence to do what years of therapy and medication have not succeeded in doing. After her estranged daughter and granddaughter drop her off on her new residence, she contemplates the odd silence.
Silence was not an absence of noise, it was an actual thing, a creature with weight and bulk. The stillness felt her presence and gathered close against her, slowly at first but inexorably, until Rae found herself bracing her knees and swaying with the burden. It felt like a shroud, like the sodden sheets they used to bind around out-of-control mental patients. She stood alone on the shore, head bowed, as if the gray sky had opened to give forth a viscous and invisible stream of quiet. It poured across her scalp and down her skin, pooling around her feet, spreading across the rocks and the bleached driftwood, oozing its way into the salt-stunted weeds farther up the bank and the shrubs with their traces of spring green, then fingering the shaggy trunks of the fragrant cedars and bright madrones until it reached the derelict foundation on which fifty-two-year-old Rae Newborn would build her house, that brush-deep, moss-soft, foursquare, twin-towered stone skeleton that had held out against storm and fire and the thin ravages of time, waiting seventy years for this woman to raise its walls again.

With "the watchers" she feels making the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand on end, Rae gets to work, always wondering "are they real?". Did she really hear a twig crack on the ground? She doesn't believe so, until she notices what might be a mysterious footprint where there should be nothing but water and sand. And, as the house builder continues in her work, other subtle inconsistencies begin appearing. Did she put her tools in the tool box in the wrong place? Has someone gone through the things in her tent? Rae isn't sure, but when the sheriff stops by to tell her her attackers were paid by someone unknown to make her think she was imagining things, and someone has been calling around the island looking for her, she starts to wonder if maybe the things she's imagined were real after all.

The prose reads as if another person is watching Rae and narrating what she is thinking and doing. The characters are human, with anger, regret, happiness and dreams. The pace is slow but never sluggish or dragging. It's a story to get engrossed in and one that makes you want to be a part of, if for nothing else, for the almost magical quality of the redemption it brings.


Friday, October 22, 2010

A good cause

I wanted to throw this on here for anyone that might be interested. Declan Burke will have a new book coming out soon, and the profits are to be donated to the children's wing of an hospital to help offset the government's lack of concern in helping the little people. If you have an interest in Irish fiction, or even if you don't, check it out. It promises to be a good read, and it's for a good cause.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Collusion by Stuart Neville

There are so many different places to start when writing a review of Stuart Neville's Collusion, that I'm really not sure where to begin. The story is intriguing and gripping, with several threads coming together from different directions, and, involving complex characters that were, in most cases agathokakological, (there's a word for you Seana). It was a novel very hard to put down and I hated to do so.

Detective Inspector Jack Lennon is a cop put on busy work duty for being a bit too scrupulous. When the men that he is watching get in a fight, and one stabs the other, Jack stumbles on a cover up that goes deep, and puts his ex-wife, Marie, and young daughter, Ellen, in danger.

Gerry Fagen is a madmen with a hard past full of ghosts, murder, and attempted redemption. He has moved to New York to try to restart his life in anonymity. That doesn't last long however, and soon, the powers that be are again trying to get Gerry to do their dirty work. However, the only dirty work Gerry plans to do is to protect Marie and Ellen at all cost if and when they call.

Marie and Ellen were once in the middle of a violent battle when they were used as bait by Bull O'Kane to trap Gerry. They have again found themselves in the same position as someone is trying to capture them to once again have a go at Gerry.

"The Traveler" is an obdurate man hired to permanently clean up a mess certain very powerful people don't want made public. He has no compunction with killing, and in fact is looking forward to the challenge he's hoping Fagen will bring him.

It's a tale of revenge, with collusion and betrayal at the heart of the story when all of these players come together in hopes of getting what they want, but the real question is, which ones will survive.

Collusion is the sequel to Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast, and I do recommend reading it first as it gives you a much better idea of the history and where the characters are coming from. It's been awhile since I read The Ghosts of Belfast and I admit to having a few problems. None the less, I enjoyed Collusion quite a bit and I hope to see more from Mr. Neville soon.

The Ghosts of Belfast


Currently reading, and enjoying, Folly by Laurie R. King.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lauren Willig's The History of the Pink Carnation

My thoughts on The History of the Pink Carnation are a bit desultory. I feel as though as soon as I form one opinion, another thought forms, possibly even a contradictory one. The main frustration that strikes me is that although I did enjoy the characters overall, they were a bit daft and I did find myself perplexed, at times, at their lack of figuring obvious things out. I also found some of her...descriptions were a bit overboard. Overall, however I did enjoy the story, and I do look forward to seeing where the author takes the characters in future novels.

The History of the Pink Carnation begins with Eloise Kelly - a young historian writing her dissertation - traveling through England on the tube to meet an ancestor of Lord Richard Selwick, otherwise known as the Purple Gentian and friend and one time sidekick to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Eloise is hoping Mrs. Selwick-alderly has some information that will uncover the true identity of the Pink Carnation, which has never been revealed. Gold is struck when the historian not only finds there is information, but a whole chest of diaries and manuscripts waiting to be read. With permission, Eloise immerses herself in the documents and gets lost in a story of love, dissembling, and espionage in the midst of handling life in the real world.

For those that enjoy the genre of historical romance, this is an agreeable story. Although, I did find it quite unbelievable, and the characters unrealistic, especially in a sense of propriety, I was also regaled by the amusive tone of the narration and the overall enjoyment of reading of that time period.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tishomingo blues by Elmore Leonard

In Tishomingo Blues, Elmore Leonard weaves a web of lies, deception and half truths unraveled in the midst of a war reenactment. Up until the plan plays out, you really aren't sure which strings the proverbial puppeteer is going to pull. This story definitely wasn't the typical procedural crime novel we hear so much about. There is no "who done it?" or figuring out how or why, it is simply what's truth and what isn't - untangling the web.

Dennis Lenahan is a professional high diver that stumbles into a tight predicament. One afternoon while he is preforming at a casino, he unwittingly witnesses a murder, and only manages to avoid his own murder with the help of a narcissistic mutual friend who assures the shooters of Dennis' silence. As Dennis is walking away from the scene, thinking no one knew he was there, he runs into Robert Taylor, another witness with a plan of his own. Robert tells Dennis he can help him stay alive, but soon Dennis will have to decide where his life is going. He is at a crossroads, and he can stay on the path he's on, or help Robert to get what he wants, and have everything he's ever wanted as a result. But, what does Robert want? That's something that Dennis can only hope to discover before it is too late.

The story is interesting and it moves well, and putting the tangled web of lies and deception in the middle of a war reenactment was an intriguing idea. I enjoyed the, to me anyway, original idea, and I hope to find more books by Mr. Leonard.

Tishomingo blues

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ian Fleming's Dr. No

I've never read a James Bond novel until now, although I have often wondered where the audacious agent originated. I enjoyed seeing a different side of Bond. In the movies, 007 is always confident, knows exactly what he's doing, and never questions the next move. In the book, James is more human. He makes mistakes and even doubts he'll win the battle when things get rough, and, his heart shows. However, I have never seen the cinema version of Dr. No, so maybe Sean Connery's Bond was different than what I've gotten used to.

In Dr. No, 007 is just getting out of the hospital when the perfect case shows up on M's desk. Two agents have disappeared suddenly from a post in Jamaica, and M, believing they have simply run off together, sends Bond out, on the premise of investigating, to rest and recover for awhile. James instincts however, are telling him something else. As soon as James is off of the plane, his picture is taken by a reporter who shouldn't even know he is there, and not long after, that same reporter is found following him. When James questions her, her fear of what might happen if she answers is greater than her fear of Bond, and he begins to really question what he is up against. With help from an old friend, Bond must track down the paths of the absconded agents, protect the beautiful girl he inadvertently involved, discover who is behind the plot to have him killed, and, of course, save the world.

It was nice to see a softer side of the overconfident agent I'm used to, and I'm curious enough now to watch the movie version to see how it compares. Besides, spending an hour of so watching a young Sean Connery can't be a bad thing can it.

Dr. No

Monday, September 27, 2010

Continuing the series..Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro and King's Mary Russell

Darkness, Take My Hand is the latest in Lehane's Kenzie/Gennaro I have read. As I started the book, I found myself quickly attracted to the story, and even more so, the characters. I find I really like Patrick's sardonic sense of humor. One of the passages that comes to mind..
"Someone Murdered her last night"
"No." Her eyes were huge.
"Yes." With all the extra cream, my coffee tasted like baby's formula. "Crucified her on Meeting House Hill."

She closed her eyes for a moment, opened them. She looked at her cigarette like it might tell her something. "Any idea who did it?" she said.

No one was parading around Meeting House Hill with a bloody hammer singing, 'Boy, oh boy, do I like to crucify women,' if that's what you mean." I tossed my coffee in the sink

Quietly, she said, "you done snapping for the day?"
I poured fresh coffee into the cup, "don't know yet. It's still early."

Although, honestly, I do find the story a little too dark and harsh for my taste, but I also find that I want to keep reading the series just to see how things work out with the characters. I do hope, both, at some point, end up with some amount of the peace they've never had.

Laurie R. King's A Letter of Mary is another one I have finished recently. I will admit, I had a hard time getting interested in this one. I normally really enjoy Ms. King's novels, and her style of writing, for some unknown reason however, this one didn't grip me as her other stories have. However, by the middle of the novel, I did find some amount of curiosity growing and kept with it, realizing I really had no idea which direction the author was going to take the story. She had several avenues open, and I had to know which she chose. In the end, I was not disappointed, and I am left wondering where the characters will go next. I also find I am getting a bit of a character crush on Mr. Sherlock Homes.

Darkness Take My Hand
A Letter of Mary

Next on the reading plan is Ian Fleming's Dr. No and I'm currently listening to Fern Michael's Weekend Warrior's

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

84 Charing Cross Road

Last night my husband was hunting around the Netflix instant watch and came across this charming movie, based on the true story written by Helene Haniff, and staring a very young Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft and Judi Dench. About 15 minutes into the movie I looked at my husband and asked if he was sure he wanted me to watch it. You see, the storyline was about a young woman living in New York in the late 1940's who is looking for certain British second hand books. She contacts an antiquarian book seller at Marks & Co. with her request, and then begins a 20 year correspondence, and friendship, with everyone at the store. It's a beautiful story, and although I'm not one to collect rare or hard to find books, the movie almost had the quixotic part of me ready to give it a try. The bookshelves displayed in the store were beautiful and covered with old looking books, and I couldn't help but think how nice it would be to have a room full of books like that and how satisfying it would be to find just the right one. However, I also realize I can't begin to imagine the cost in today's world just to find one single antique novel. Alas, I will have to make do with enjoying what I do have and can get at local stores, but it is a fun thought.

If you're interested, here are a couple of links - 84 Charing Cross Road on Imdb, 84 Charing Cross Road on Wikipedia

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen is an author I didn't expect to enjoy, however, I have been proved wrong. Northanger Abbey was an enjoyable book that I, at times, didn't want to put down. The characters were amusing and somewhat overdone, in a good way, as I think only Jane Austen can pull off, and the language was very elegant and enjoyable, if not a bit of a challenge.

Catherine Morland, our "heroine", in an idealistic young woman whose very nature demands she always see the best in people. She also has an over active imagination, encouraged by the reading of Gothic novels, that tends to get the best of her. When Mr. and Mrs. Allen invite Miss. Morland to join them on a trip to Bath, she is given a harsh lesson in the realities of life. While enjoying society she is quickly introduced to new friends, Mr. John Thorpe and Miss. Isabella Thorpe, an avaricious brother and sister hoping an acquaintance with Miss. Morland will be advantageous. She is also introduced to the witty Mr. Henery Tilney, who lives, with his sister and father, at Northanger Abbey, which Catherine imagines to be much like the abbey's in her Gothic stories. She is soon entreated to accompany them home, and it isn't long before the most prosaic events get the best of her imagination and Henery is forced to explain the truth of his mother's death, and help her learn that things aren't always as they seem.

I have been told that Northanger Abbey is not Ms. Austen's best tale, but it was a good place to start, and I look forward to soon reading her most popular novel Pride and Prejudice.

Northanger Abbey

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sam Millar's Bloodstorm

Bloodstorm was a very interesting book. I must admit, I was a bit irresolute about reading this book after the author himself gave me a warning saying the book was "very gory and in very bad taste", and, I have to agree, he was right. However, once all of that was waded through, I found that I really enjoyed the story, and characters, and was glad I wasn't easily dissuaded.

Karl Kane is a Belfast P.I who is all but broke because of a tendency to lose money on playing cards or the horses. As he is sitting in his office contemplating how to pay the bills, in walks his next paycheck in the form of Mr. Munday who needs some information about a recently killed friend. $500 dollars now, and $500 when the P.I finds out the where, when and how seems like a pretty good, quick, and easy, job. A chat with some acrimonious cops and Kane is set. Six days later, Mr. Munday returns to not only find out the answer to his questions, but also with another request to find out information about some prostitutes, this time for $1000 up front. Kane isn't sure about his clients motives and decides to turn him down. Unfortunately, however, a chain of events has already been set in motion, including the death of his client, and regardless of what the impecunious investigator wants, his conscience decides he must finish what he started.

It's not a story for the feint of heart, and I often thought to myself "that was more than I wanted to know", but, I found as it went along, the crudity lightened up and the story and characters became more my focus. I'm glad I stuck with it and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

I'm a bit tentative about blogging about The Guardian simply because of how much I really didn't like it. It was greatly disappointing. After all of the hoopla surrounding Nicholas Sparks' books and movies, I don't know what I was expecting, but it was better than this. I thought the writing was plain and redundant, the plot was stale, and the story itself was overly punctilious. On top of all of that, the author kills the best written character, Singer the Great Dane. Now, I can deal with a lot in a book, but I would have liked one redeeming factor.

Julie Barenson's husband died of cancer at a very young age, as a parting gift, he left her a Great Dane puppy named Singer who quickly becomes one of her best friends, and her protector. After spending years of trying to move on, Julie finally finds herself ready to date again, unfortunately, it seems all of the good guys are taken...until she meets Richard. Richard is polite, caring, exciting and treats her like a queen. After a few dates however, Julie starts to feel that something she can't quite put her finger on is lacking, and, in the meantime, she starts to find that something in her other best friend, Mike. When she tells Richard of her feelings, jealousy takes over and Julie's life changes forever.

It's a story we've all heard before, and granted Nicholas Sparks does, at times, pull the heart strings, but overall I found it painstaking trying to finish. I really don't mean to be harsh, but it just wasn't up to par I don't think.

The Guardian

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel

One of the purposes of this blog is, in theory, for me to not only post my thoughts on the books I read, but also to explore some of the the thoughts those books bring up. I've noticed that occasionally a book will mention something that makes me curious, something I'd like to learn about just for the sake of learning something new. However, although there is a growing list of things to look up, I haven't been very good at following through on it. I'm going to attempt to change that. On that note...

As a teenager I remember having a bit of a fondness for the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I'm not sure why, but it was one of my favorites, (along with the musical Guys and Dolls). I was recently reminded of this when my mom showed me a picture of a Scarlet Pimpernel flower she was thinking of drawing for her art is a very pretty flower. I remember in the play and novel that the elusive Pimpernel would draw this flower when he left messages for his men, and I remember wondering "Why that flower?". Well, in looking a few things up, the best I came up with was from Wikipedia..
This common European plant is generally considered a weed and is an indicator of light soils.

But even so, did the writer know that? I honestly doubt it considering the play was written in 1903. None the less, I think it fits well enough. If I remember the story right, (it's only been about 15 years since I've read it), the English did consider "The Pimpernel" to be a weed, not realizing he was one of their own who was masquerading as a slow-witted and deficient individual. They couldn't see what he really was.

For those that don't know about it, here's a short little trailer I found. The first 30 seconds are a bit long, but otherwise.. (and I particularly like the poem).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Naked Came the Phoenix

Naked Came the Phoenix is a serial novel in which 13 female mystery authors each contributed a chapter to make up a the whole novel. They were given the setting, main characters, order of their chapters and a few simple rules such as write in the third person and no pursuing each other for favors. No asking the person before you to set a clue, hide a murder weapon or leave a certain character alive. Each writer had to take what they were given by the previous author and do what they could, which at times included making a mess for the next to clean up...which was of course, part of the fun.

Caroline Blessing, newly married to Congressman Douglas Blessing, is taken by her mom to visit a sybaritic spa for a week of relaxation after her father died. Not long after they check in however, they discover the body of the spa's owner laying in a mud bath with a shawl tied tightly around her neck. Amazingly none of the other guest saw anything. Not the long famous rock star, the anorexic model, the popular actress or the washed out movie producer, and to add to the verisimilitude, and the detectives frustration, no one is saying anything without their overpriced lawyers...or, they aren't saying anything until the bodies start stacking up.

As you can see on the picture, there were some pretty famous, and talented authors on the list, which made things, shall we say, interesting. Every chapter was a different style, and at times was inconsistent. You honestly had no idea what the characters would do since every author would turn them into who they wanted them to be. It was a bit frustrating. However, at the end of it, Laurie R. King somehow managed to take all of the twist, turns and discrepancies and make them make sense. She did a wonderful job of it, and she is what made the other, somewhat discouraging chapters come together. In my mind, Ms. King is the master of the suspense novel.

Naked Came the Phoenix

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes

My first impression upon finishing this book was WOW!! Declan Hughes now has me hooked on his Ed Loy P.I series. The story was captivating and tangled, and complex enough to have me actually take notes...and enjoy the process. I don't think I've ever read a novel quite like it.

Ed Loy was hired to find the missing daughter of a dentist in a venerable family. The case sounds simple enough, until Loy starts to dig and uncovers grisly and dissolute secrets no family should ever have to live with, (secrets that began 30 years ago and affect every part of the family, regardless of how much they attempt to deny their existence). From "kissing cousins" to decades of murders, Ed Loy has to wade through the dissimulation ingrained in every member of the Howard family to get to the truth. However, this time he isn't doing it alone. This time, his good buddy Tommy Owens is there to help, in the way that only Tommy can.

I don't think I've read such and intriguing novel with so many layers to dig through, and it is filled with connections I was, at times, surprised to see. I'm really looking forward to seeing where Mr. Hughes takes the rest of the series.

Oh, and for those that are notes...

The Color of Blood

Next book on the reading list is The price of blood by Declan Hughes.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I came across the word pieta today while reading The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes, it means "a representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the dead body of Jesus" ( In the story Mr. Hughes writes this:

Shane Howard had been on his feet when I recounted the history of his daughter's sexual relationship with her cousin, his hands balling into fists, his eyes blurring with rage; but the news of David Brady's murder hit him the hardest. Sandra went to him and wrapped her arms around his great shoulders and pulled his head to her breast and they subsided to the floor, Sandra whispering to her little brother and stroking his sand-colored hair. It was touching and pathetic, a grotesque pieta that was moving and disturbing.

I would have gotten the idea without the specific word, but that one word added quite a bit more to the picture. As I'm blogging, I'm finding that carefully chosen words really do add to the whole of it. I've even been thinking about the etymology...(which is a scary thought in itself), and in case you are wondering, here's what The Free Dictionary says about it:

The term "pietà" (Latin: pietas) originated from a custom of the Roman Empire around the time of 64 AD, referring to the act of prostrating oneself, and putting forth an "Emotion...of great love accompanied with revering fear....of the [Roman] gods."

Another good juxtaposition I read while reading an excerpt from a book compared the coming daylight to Guinness settling after it's poured. I particularly liked that one too.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Observations by Jane Harris

The Observations by Jane Harris was an interesting book, however, I am a bit irresolute about my feelings on it. In the beginning the story captured my curiosity, but as it went on, I found myself wondering if I should finish it on the grounds that some of the topics were more than I cared to think about. Alas, the curiosity won out as Ms. Harris leaves just enough out to keep you wondering what and why.

Bessie Buckley is a "housemaid" peregrinating to Edinburgh after her previous master has died of old age. As she is walking she comes to a country home where the lady of the manor is chasing a loose pig after recently letting her housemaid go. It was perfect happenstance. Arabella Reid, the Missus, quickly hires her, and, on explaining the chores that will need done, suspects that Bessie knows very little about keeping house. This idea is proved true when Bessie tries to use newspaper to clean coal off of the rug, making the mess worse. However, Mrs. Reid is a patient woman and resolves to teach Bessie not only how to do her chores properly, but also how to behave. The only thing she ask in return is that Bessie agree to write down everything she does, and her thoughts, in a little notebook that will be occasionally read by her mistress. It is not long however, that Bessie discovers things are not as simple as they seem when her Missus starts making odd demands. One night, irately waking Bessie from sleep, Mrs. Reid will demand a cup of hot cocoa be made only to nicely request Bessie sit and drink it. Another day, Bessie is asked to sit in a chair in the middle of the room and then stand up, then sit, then stand and sit repeatedly until she refuses to stand again, (and is then lavishly praised regardless of repetitions). Bessie can't begin to fathom the reasoning behind these request, but does them in an attempt to please the one person she has grown to deeply care for...and their begins a story ingrained with dissimulation, jealousy, selfishness, and redemption as we learn the truth, not only in Arabella's motives, but also behind Bessie's past.

In typing this out, I fear I've made the story sound much less than it is. Honestly, there is much more to it. Bessie's dependence is deeply rooted and comes from an unmentionably harsh past, and the peace she finds in its resignation is hard to imagine. It's a story that shows that when we finally come to a place of self-abnegation with those we love happiness can be found.

The Observations

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Added to the shelf

I've hit several book stores this weekend, and added several books to the "to be read" if it wasn't big enough as it was. I seem unable to turn down the chance to buy a book so the pile just keeps growing. Added this weekend:

Dennis Lehane's The Given Day. I found this one on sale at Barnes and Nobles and since I enjoyed A Drink Before the War I thought I'd give it a try. Not to mention, I really like the cover.

Jane Harris's The Observations. I've never read anything by Ms. Harris but again, I liked the cover, (not the one in the link), it sounded interesting, and it was on the clearance rack at Half Price Books so it's hard to go wrong.

Laurie R. King's Touchstone. I'm currently reading, and enjoying, Ms. King's Mary Russell series so when I saw this one also on the clearance rack there was no way I was turning it down.

Jane Austen's Northanger Abby. I picked this one up on advice from a fellow blogger. Perhaps being able to keep up with Laurie King's prose is giving me some guts to explore more sophisticated authors.

James Ellroy's American Tabloid. After reading a review of Blood's a Rover here I thought I'd check out the first one in the series and give it a try.

And last, but not least, Christopher Farnsworth's Blood Oath. I've never heard of this author and don't know anything about him, but on a trip to Austin this weekend I visited an independent book store. They had Blood Oath on display and although I think the whole vampire thing is excessive I do enjoy the occasional trip into the paranormal.

Needless to say, I've got plenty of books to read, and with the kids headed back to school tomorrow, possibly some extra time to read them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dennis Lehane's A Drink Before the War

Dennis Lehane creates a rough world for this first in the "Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro" series. It's a world of hard and fast racism, animosity and contempt, where licentiousness is a way of life. It's not a pleasant place. In all of that however, Lehane manages to put two gratifying and amusingly cynical private investigators to solve the problems in the world.

Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired by a sycophantic politician to find a missing office cleaning woman and some "documents" she is accused of stealing. However, they quickly find out it's not that black and white when Kenzie is almost beat to death on the way home, and the next day a violent gang war breaks out. As the case progresses, the P.I's start to wonder why these politicians are so interested in the missing woman and a seemingly innocuous picture she hands them, and what it has to do with the upcoming street terrorism bill waiting to be voted on in the senate. As they wade through all of the pretense, they quickly see there is a lot more going on than they were led to believe, and none of it is pretty.

The story is hard, and impossible to believe in the way that those of us who live in a secure and relatively sedate world don't understand, but is not without meaning or a valid point...a point well made I thought.

A Drink Before the War

(Currently about to start Laurie R. King's A Monstrous Regiment of Women)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Alexandra Potter's Me and Mr. Darcy

Alexandra Potter's Me and Mr. Darcy was positively cute. It was funny, charming, romantic and entertaining. I've never been the biggest adherent of Jane Austen, even though I did enjoy the 6 hour adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and would like to enjoy her books, but this book makes me want give her another try. I might just have to restart the audio version of Pride and Prejudice again.

In Me and Mr. Darcy Alexandra Potter tells the story of a young women who is sick of modern day men. After a string of bad dates, including a guy that not only insist she pay for her food, lets a door slam in her face, and steals her cab, but storms off when she won't invite him home, Emily Albright swears off men. When a friend tries to convince her to go on a New Years "18-30" party trip to Cancun to help get her back on the band wagon, Emily gets an idea to sign up for a Jane Austen literary book tour in England instead. Anticipating a week away with her one true love, Mr. Darcy, Emily gets on the tour bus to find it full of much older women who she instantly believes herself to have nothing in common with. Then, to make it worse, Spike, a petulant, disheveled, seemingly juvenile reporter joins them to figure out what the acclaimed Mr. Darcy has the he hasn't. Not a difficult question. Throughout the week, Ms. Albright discovers Mr. Darcy is not all he's made up to be, and she quickly discovers how true Jane Austen's words are.

The characters are fun and easy, and I could almost feel myself sitting in Starbucks talking with a friend I hadn't seen in awhile over a cup of coffee while she told me about her trip as I read the story. Ms. Potter has found a nice and easy mix to get her point across, and possibly, bring an old novel new interest.

Me and Mr. Darcy

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Requiems for the Departed

Requiems for the Departed was unlike any book I've read, simply because I've never read a full anthology from cover to cover. It was an interesting process, if not a little confusing figuring out the characters and plot in every individual story. Since every short story was different I can't really give you a synopsis of the story, other than to say they all contained something of Irish mythology, and for the most part were somewhat "dark". Some of my favorites though...

Adrian McKinty's Diarmaid and Grainne.... As typical with McKinty's books, and one of the reasons I enjoy his books, is that I can see them in my mind as I'm reading it. Even a day or two later I can picture it almost like watching a movie. He manages to pull this off with seemingly fewer words than more too, which seems surprising. The story of Diarmaid and Grainne, in Irish mythology is one of a love triangle, something we've all seen, but this current rendition still manages to keep it fresh.

Gary Kilworth's Hats off to Mary...I would actually like to see these characters in a book series, (and they many be, I haven't checked). I enjoyed the cleverness of the murder weapon and how things came to be. I also thought the story developed well, (although quickly, as to be expected with a short story). This story was a murder mystery based on an Irish mythological goddess named Macha who was forced to run a race against the kings horse and gave birth to twins at the finish line. As a punishment for what she was forced to endure, she cursed the men responsible to suffer labor pains when they most needed to be strong. The moral..beware the wrath of a wronged woman.

Sam Millar's Red Hand of Ulster...Based on the story of a king, O'Neill, and a man named Dermott that both wanted the same piece of land in Ireland. The king suggested they have a horse race for it, and the first one to touch the land wins. When it looked like Dermott would win, O'Neill cut off his hand and threw it to the land and therefor took the prize. Millar takes the tale and turns into a detective crime story. This one I think was the most complex of the short stories, and the most developed plot wise. It also added some humor to the story which added some balance I think. I enjoyed it and would like to read the Karl Kane series, if I can find it.

Garbhan Downey's First to Score...This one gets an honorable mention. I can't say I remember the details of the plot, or which character did what, but I do remember laughing a bit as I was reading it. It reminded me in a way of how Janet Evanivich's books read with some of the antics. It was also based on the story of Diarmaid and Grainne, but more in a satirical way then a true love story.

There are many other well told and enjoyable stories in the book, and in the end you have to admire the creativity that went to coming up with these tales.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sam Millar

I'm currently making my way through Requiems for the Departed, an anthropology on Irish mythology stories, and I'm finding it very interesting. One of the authors in the book I'm thinking sounds worth exploring is Sam Millar. I did a little investigating into his books, and the series he mentions, only to find out that his current paperback, (shown on the left), is selling for close to $1000.oo, (yes, the decimal point is in the right place). A thousand dollars for a new paperback. Wow. Not to be penurious, but that's a bit much for me. I'm still considering looking into his Karl Kane series, which run for about $15.oo on Amazon, (except for the one out of print with is closer to $100.00), but I don't like that I won't be able to find the whole series, or possibly get any new ones because of exorbitant cost. I'm really wondering what makes a current series cost/worth so much, and, why an author would put such high prices on his books that the average person can't get them. It's disappointing really.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book neglect

Lately I've been reading several new authors, or trying to. The problem comes in when I start looking at my book shelf and notice all of the books on it that have been on it for quite awhile. It doesn't seem fair to just neglect them, so my solution has been to try to go back to those series in between exploring the new, (well, new to me), series out there. It's not easy because I find myself really enjoying these new authors. Declan Hughes is one I'm looking forward to getting back to, and I have a Dennis Lahane novel from the library I don't think I'm ever going to get around to. I'm thinking it will have to be rechecked. Right now, I've just finished a Lee Child book, Echo Burning. It was unexpectedly interesting. I honestly thought the book would drag, seeing as how it was over 500 pages long, but somehow it didn't, and the 500 and some odd pages went fast. Now that I've finished it this morning, I couldn't resist Requiems for the Departed any longer, seeing as how one author I really enjoy is in it, (and yep, I started with that story, and it was, as expected true to form. I found myself wanting to yell "no, don't tell her...didn't you learn anything from Michael Forsythe?"). This book is going to prove a challenge as I find myself stopping to look up the mythological stories each short story is based on. Being an American, I've never heard of most of the folklore the authors have grown up on, so it will probably be slow going, but very interesting. And, ironically, I'll hopefully find yet more authors to read.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A couple days late, but none the was my birthday

Yes boys and girls, I am another year older...not that I'm normally willing to admit that. In my mind, I'm sticking with 30. I like 30, it's grown up but still young, and honestly, not far from the truth. Who needs to add the petty little single digits up every year anyway? Really though, as of August 4th, I supposedly grew up more. I had a good birthday this year too, that included gift cards to a bookstore, (because I don't buy near enough books...can you hear the sarcasm there?). Anyway, last night my husband and I, and my sister in law with her husband, went out to my favorite little Irish pub out here. We ate, and drank...a lot, (I've discovered Irish Car Bombs, a nifty drink with a bit of Guinness and a shot of Irish Cream and Jameson that you drop in), and I'm willing to bet I got properly goofy. And to top off dinner my very talented sister in law made me a Guinness chocolate cake..

It was delicious!! Cream cheese icing, Guinness and chocolate is a pretty good combination. Afterward, it was to the bookstore to spend some gift cards I'd gotten as a consolation for adding another year. I picked up Declan Hughes, Ian Rankin, (who I've never read but I've seen enough to be curious), Brian McGilloway, (who I've heard about),and a David Baldacci book I really like, among others. It was a good night.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes

I would like to start out saying that I enjoyed this novel, but somehow saying that, without qualifying it, doesn't seem quite right. The Wrong Kind of Blood is Irish Noir fiction in every way and it was quite different from the comparatively elemental mystery novels I've gotten used to, (not that I won't still enjoy the simplicity of them). The plot was layered and sometimes a bit bewildering, and the characters were dark and, at times, violent...everything I've come to expect from a good Irish crime novel. It was, all in all, heavy. All of that said though, I did enjoy the book for it's intricacy and will mostly likely continue in the series, (after mixing in some of the mentioned lighter books).

Edward Loy is a private detective that returns to Dublin for his mothers funeral, and afterward, Linda, an old friend, asks him to have a drink...then she asks him to find her husband. That seemingly simple task turns quickly disastrous, and soon takes Ed back to a time before he was born to figure out why people are being killed. No one is who they seem, betrayal and dissimulation are there at every turn, and through it all, Ed has wade through his own feelings and grief to confront the seemingly impossible.

Of course, the story is also not without the subtle Irish humor...
Then he looked up at me, his face a mixture of anger and embarrassment.
"We've decided I'm an alcoholic," he said. "Apparently that's easier than deciding we just don't like each other anymore."
"Would you like a drink then?" I said.
"Fucking sure I would," he said.

Overall, it is a rough story, but for those that like the dark side of Irish crime fiction, Declan Hughes pretty much nails it.

The Wrong Kind of Blood

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice

This is a charming book. Mary Russell, as a young, sharp witted, smart 15 year old girl stumbles, (actually trips over), a retired Sherlock Homes while he is studying a hive of bees. She sits down, and makes a simple comment about the dots Homes has painted on the backs of some of the bees, and a friendship is begun. Things quickly progress and, unbeknownst to Russell at first, she becomes his apprentice and is taught everything from telling the difference in soil samples to reading foot prints for weight, gender and height. (She would put any CSI computer to shame.). The first part of the story follows her life, thoughts and the relationship with Homes, but like any good Sherlock Homes story, eventually there is something afoot and a case must be solved. As Mary figures out how the game goes, and Homes adjust to having a partner, the danger lurks around the corner with bombs, disguise and a very vulpine antagonist. However, it really is quite a bit more than a typical Sherlock Homes story, it is a story about a girl growing up and coming to herself. Trusting herself and even putting herself through, and suffering heartbreak, to do what she has to do. Homes is also very different than the truculent detective we now see in the movies. He is personable, and worthy of Russell's respect. We see a caring side and the motivation of why he does what he does. I enjoyed reading the story from a different perspective.

I also found it more of a challenge to read as it wasn't the "fast read" I'm used to. It did require a bit of patience. And I learned a bit of vocabulary with it...

Some of my favorites:

verisimilitude - realism, quality of appearing to be true.

reticent - inclined to keep ones thoughts and feelings to oneself.

obfuscate - to make so confused as to be difficult to perceive or understand. To perplex. (I.E - Law forms are obfuscating.)

The Beekeepers Apprentice

Currently reading - The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes

Monday, July 26, 2010


I was reading Lee Child's Gone Tomorrow and the term, and origins, of "parabellum" caught my attention. In the book, and Child's other books, it gives the idea that a parabellum is a kind of ammunition. When I asked my husband about it, he said he'd never heard of it, when I showed him the Wiki page though, he knew exactly what I was talking about. Here's what Wikipedia had to say..

The word Parabellum is a noun coined by German arms maker Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken and is derived from the Latin saying si vis pacem, para bellum, meaning If you wish for peace, prepare for war. The term has been used in the naming of a number of cartridges.

* 9x19mm Parabellum, the pistol cartridge adopted by NATO but the 9 mm NATO has different parameters than commercial makes (dimensions and pressure).

* 7.65x22mm Parabellum, also called .30 Luger in the USA, from which the 9x19mm cartridge was derived.

The term may be used to refer to one of these cartridges, or to a German, Austrian or Swiss pistol chambered for one of those cartridges. The 9x19mm Parabellum is one of the most widely used pistol cartridges in use. The phrase a Parabellum usually refers to the Luger P08 pistol. The term may also apply to the Parabellum MG14 machine gun.

What I thought was interesting was the saying "si vis pacem, para bellum" and the meaning "if you wish for peace, prepare for war". It seems a contradiction in terms, but I think it's probably somewhat accurate. We want peace to just fall in our laps, and have everyone "just get along", but that's not how the real works works, (as much as we wish it did). It seems the German arms makers figured that out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I tend to read a lot of series books, so I find myself reading a lot of books, but they all come from a handful of pretty well known authors. On the current list, I have J.D Robb, Lee Child, Janet Evanivich, Iris Johanson, Tess Gerritsen, David Baldacci, and the occasional John Grisham among a few others. I also have some Jeffery Archer and Jeffery Deaver books I haven't gotten to on the shelf. Pretty much though, I can picture how my bookshelf is laid out and tell you what authors I read because they are all lined up by series.

I want to branch out though, and find some not as well known authors that might be just a bit different that what I normally read. So, from the whole almost handful of people out there that pop on here, what do you recommend?