Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Hello All!

I can't recommend this book enough! I read it in one sitting! Saving CeeCee Honeycutt will be available in January, and if you received that bookstore gift card for the holidays, save it for this book.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is the story of a girl who cares for her mother as she descends into madness, and her father is constantly away on business. CeeCee escapes as best she can into reading. Her mother is killed one day, and CeeCee finds out about the Southern branch of her family; her father lets her go to them easily, almost immediately after her mother's funeral. Her great-aunt Tootie takes her to Savannah, and envelopes CeeCee into the warmth of Southern hospitality, and into a community of women. CeeCee sees all their strength and all that they can do, all the while learning how to deal with her grief of essentially losing both her parents.

This is a warm, lovely book, and one feels as if one is in the beauty of the South, the gardens, the old homes, and the healing power of a community of women.

Happy Reading!
(who wrote this at midnight & hopes it is coherent)

Disclosure: I became acquainted with Beth Hoffman by following her on Twitter, and she, in turn, checked out this blog, and had her publisher send me a copy of this book.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Progressive Dinner Party

Hello All!

This will be a different post than usual. I'm participating in a blog progressive dinner with other bloggers, so I need to post my recipe for my participation. I hope to collect other recipes from other participants, but if I don't actually cook/bake anything, I won't gain anything :). Or, I can cook/bake one thing at a time.

My contribution is a coffee cake from a recipe I got from my mom, Toby Cheney; I don't know where she got the recipe:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 1/1 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of soft shortening
2 large eggs
1 cup of milk
3 cups of sifted flour
4 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
Streusel Mixture
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
4 Tbsp. flour
4 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. melted butter
Mix sugar, shortening and eggs thoroughly.
Stir in milk.
Add vanilla.
Sift dry ingredients together, and add to first mixture a little at a time.
Spread 1/2 of batter in greased 9x13 pan
Add 1/2 of streusel mixture
Add remaining batter, and top with remaining streusel mixture

Bake at 375 for 25 to 35 minutes.
Enjoy! This is one of my favorite things!!!

Happy Holidays & Happy Reading!

Link to next dessert: Medieval Bookworm - - Colored Sugar Cookies

Friday, November 20, 2009

Whale Talk for Countdown Challenge

Hello All,

Yes, this review is contained in the previous post, but it needs to be by itself to be posted to the Countdown Challenge. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher is the title I read for 2001.

This is a terrific YA title that is all about the underdog. TJ, the main character, is a mixed race adoptee in a very white area of Washington state, and is not the underdog in this story. It starts with TJ defending a mentally handicapped fellow student who wants to wear his dead brother's letter jacket, and the jocks who torment him. TJ decides that Chris should earn his own letter jacket, and eventually puts together a 5 man swim team of misfits. TJ leads the team to all improving their skills during the swim season, and all but one earn a letter jacket. TJ has several other situations in his life, and there is a surprising twist toward the end. This is a strong book, and TJ is a strong character.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finished Three in One Evening

Hello All!

Once again, I cleverly worded my title--I did not read 3 books this evening, only finished them.

The first was Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood. Greenwood is an Australian author with two series she's currently writing, this one featuring Corrina Chapman, a bakery owner and amateur sleuth. She is overweight, but proud of what she can do with her body, such as lift and carry heavy sacks of flour and vats of dough and stew for her shop. She has created a family of friends, including a witch who runs an apothecary; Jason, her apprentice and former drug addict; two aspiring models who run the front side of the bakery for her; and volunteers for the Soup Run, a food/medical/law van that services the homeless of Melbourne. Corrina also has a wonderful boyfriend, Daniel, who works undercover and for the Soup Run. This series, including this title, are a little light on the mystery, but wonderful in the storytelling and with the characters.

The second I finished was Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. This is a terrific YA title that is all about the underdog. TJ, the main character, is a mixed race adoptee in a very white area of Washington state, and is not the underdog in this story. It starts with TJ defending a mentally handicapped fellow student who wants to wear his dead brother's letter jacket, and the jocks who torment him. TJ decides that Chris should earn his own letter jacket, and eventually puts together a 5 man swim team of misfits. TJ leads the team to all improving their skills during the swim season, and all but one earn a letter jacket. TJ has several other situations in his life, and there is a surprising twist toward the end. This is a strong book, and TJ is a strong character.

The final book I read this evening, from start to finish was Damage Control by JA Jance. This is the first of her Joanna Brady series that I have read since I moved to Tucson; the series takes place in Bisbee, AZ. As one of the cases in the book bring the sheriff and her officers to Tucson, it was very interesting to me to read a book set here now that I live here. Damage Control is definitely a page turner, and an exhausting one. Not only is there a somewhat high body count, Joanna and her husband have a 4 month old baby who is not yet consistantly sleeping through the night--it was exhausting to read about how tired Joanna was! A good story and entry into this series.

As it is getting close to 11:30 PM, I will wish you all
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happily Reading

Hello All,

I've got myself into a good reading streak right now; I posted about how good The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly was; after that, I moved onto Death in High Places by Donna Leon. That was a reread for me, and I think I'm almost caught up to where I was when I stopped reading the series. I own most of them, and love that I can pick one up anytime and go to Venice.

I finished The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer last night. Wow, it's been years since I've read one of her books, and I had forgotten how good her books are. I incorrectly posted that this book was a Regency novel (set in the time period approximately between 1805-1820); The Black Moth is set earlier, sometime in the mid-1700s. I read in the introduction to this new edition that Heyer didn't start writing only Regencies until a little later. I look forward to reading all of her historicals, and am so glad Harlequin has been reprinting them.

I am currently reading Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood, set in an Australian bakery in Melbourne, Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, a YA novel that's part of my Countdown Challenge, and started Carolyn Hart's Ghost at Work for my bedtime reading.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Used vs New Books and Bookstores

Hello All!

This will be only my opinion on what can be a controversial subject in the book world. I purchase used books. The reasons why are that it makes book purchasing more affordable for me, and that I can find out-of-print books. A reason that would make me sound ecological is that it could be construed as recycling. I know that when I purchase used books that the author doesn't get any royalties, and this is the biggest thing that bothers me, and can make me feel guilty. I want to support authors and the publishing industry, and having books published in PRINT as opposed to just digitally (something that seems to be looming in the future...). So I try to support my favorite authors, and up-and-coming authors by buying them new, and supplement my book collection with decent copies of used books. To me, this is a great help also when trying to fill in series that have been around for awhile, and the series may not be in print in its entirety.

I support used bookstores also--doing so can help the local economy, and while this also sounds good, it's not the only reason I do it. Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of my favorite places to shop, and its owners, Robin and Jamie Agnew, have become very close friends. They are like me, love to connect people with books, and if you've finished one series, they will find another series to keep you going and interested in mysteries. Now that I live 2000+ miles away, I still get their newsletter, and I still buy books from them. Additionally, their store is very cozy, sells new and used books, and holds frequent booksignings.

More local to me now is Bookman's, an Arizona institution, more formally known as Bookman's Entertainment Exchange. Bookman's has 1 store in Flagstaff, 2 in the Phoenix metro area, and 3 in Tucson. They not only sell every kind of book, but also comics, manga, magazines, video games, movies and music. They are wonderful places to spend a short or a long period of time, and come away with some special things that you were looking for, or maybe a surprise that you didn't know you were looking for.

Happy Reading (and shopping)!

Books Purchased, Not Finished and Finished

Hello All!

Doesn't it sound like I'm busy? The word "books" applies to one each of those above catagories.

I went to Bookman's yesterday (probably one of the best used media stores in the country!) looking for one book, and even without my list, found another that I was looking for--don't you love that? I found Nancy E. Turner's These Is My Words, the first of her Sarah Prine novels. The challenge has been with this book is that 1) Nancy Turner lives in Tucson, and 2) These is My Words was the One Book/One AZ title in 2008. My personal opinion about why it's been so hard to find used is that lots of copies were bought at that time (and other times, it's probably a great book group book too), so every copy that's turned into Bookman's gets sold right away, and also that many own signed copies that they don't want to get rid of. Yes, I've read it, but I do want to read it again now that I live in Tucson, and I wanted to own it.

Based on my own disinterest, and opinions of friends about Alexander McCall Smith's books set in Scotland vs those set in Botswana, I've decided not to finish 44 Scotland Street. I gave it more than 50 pages, but I just didn't care about the characters, so I'm going to find something else for my bedtime reading.

I finished Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer, and it was very good. I wasn't sure I'd like the main character, but Mickey Haller is a sensible person about being a lawyer--he knows it's a job, a tough one, but he does it well and he's the one you want on your side. Haller has done the one thing he hoped never would happen in his career as a defense lawyer; he let a truly innocent man go to jail. In this book, Connelly gives you hope in relationships, a picture of how hard everyone works both sides of cases, and shows you the worst in criminals. Read it.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Daily Posting--Harder Than I Thought

Hello All!

My hat's off to all of you who write daily blog posts! This is a little bit harder than I anticipated. I have a list somewhere of books I wanted to post about, but can I find it? Noooooo.

Today is just an update on what I'm reading. In my bag for work, I'm carrying The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connolly, which is a good book, and much different than I expected. At home, on the end table is a reread, Friends in High Places by Donna Leon; last night I just needed to hang out with Guido Brunetti and his family in Venice. And my current bedtime book is 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, which continues to be a bit aimless, but I think the story's threads are about to start coming together. And waiting on the end table, I have a Georgette Heyer Regency historical novel, The Black Moth. This was her first Regency, and I've decided I'd like to read them all in order (no, not a challenge, just enjoy reading her books, and I'd like to read them all).

I lead a life surrounded by books; what could be better?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

When Nothing Hooks You

Hello All,

After a one day break, during which I finished rereading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, I'm back to blogging. Now I find myself with 2 books started, The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly, which is pretty good, and 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, which is so far, rather aimless. But what do you do when life in general keeps you from focusing on a book? I'm not rushing to get back to either one of these, and I'm having the sort of day where starting something else doesn't appeal to me. Interesting, and sort of scary, for the reader that I am. I know that tomorrow is a full day, so I may just ride out the rest of the evening and tomorrow, and not think about it. Tuesday will have to be soon enough to decide whether to stick with the 2 I've got going, or look around for something else.

Little Brother was excellent--I can't recommend it enough!!! Here's the link to my Goodreads review:

Yes, I know that life could be much worse than being undecided about what to read! And it's also good to be busy with work and other things, and add reading into the mix.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shelf Discovery Challenge

Hello All!

I am happily posting daily about books, which helps make my day. I have lots of friends and acquaintances who are participating in National Novel Writing Month, and they all seem to be enjoying the writing process also.

I have not finished reading Shelf Discovery, but by skimming through the book, and looking at the table of contents, I think I know which 6 books I want to read between now and April 30th for this challenge:

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
The Pigman by Paul Zindel (this will be a reread, but I want to see how it holds up)
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (a reread also, and one that Ken just reread--it'll be fun to talk about)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (reread)
Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan
and one title yet to be determined.

There are a whole slew I'd love to reread, especially the Austin series by Madeleine L'Engle, All-of-a-Kind Family, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but I thought I should investigate some of what others found important in their growing-up years.

And the above titles are subject to change :).

Happy Reading!

For more about the Shelf Discovery Challenge, go to:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Short Post to Keep Up the Pace

Hello All!

After putting that long list together yesterday, posting it late, and a long day at work today, I don't have too much :).

I am rereading a book for my teen book group that meets on Monday, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. This is an excellent, smart book, and I'm enjoying rereading it. I hope that get a few teens to show up next week, as I'd love to talk with them about it.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Books for Countdown Challenge

Hello All!

Whew! I think I've got most of a list for the Countdown Challenge. I used my TBR list from my Goodreads account, another TBR list I have that's written, and some award lists I checked out online. It was pretty fun for me, and all the books listed are books I have not read before.

1. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (teen)

1. Death Assemblege by Susan Cummings Miller (mystery)
2. Feed by M. T. Anderson (teen)

1. The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard (teen)
2. Faking It by Jennifer Crusie (screwball romance)
3. Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green (fantasy)
(2003 alternate: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke [children's])

1. Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis (teen)
2. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (teen)
3. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (teen)
4. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (screwball romance)

1. Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac (teen)
2. Highest Tide by Jim Lynch (teen)
3. I am the Messenger by Mark Zusak (teen)
4. Old Man's War by John Scalzi (science fiction)
5. The Body in the Snowdrift by Katherine Hall Page (mystery)

1. The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages (children's/teen)
2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (teen)
3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
4. Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (nonfiction)
6. Dark End of Town by Julia Pomeroy (mystery)

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (teen)
2. McCafferty's Nine by Elizabeth Gunn (mystery)
3. Stealing the Dragon by Tim Maleeny (mystery)
4. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Mariller (teen, fantasy)
5. Territory by Emma Bull (fantasy)
6. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (mystery)
7. Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell (mystery/thriller)

1. Bean There, Done That by Sandra Balzo (mystery)
2. Face of a Killer by Robin Burcell (mystery)
3. Hell Hole by Chris Grabenstein (mystery)
4. How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt (teen)
5. Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (fiction)
6. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (teen)
7. Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Pena (teen)
8. Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (children's/teen)
(2008 alternate: A Grave in Gaza by Matt Rees [fiction])

1. A Night at the Operation by Jeffery Cohen (mystery)
2. Big Dirt Nap by Rosemary Harris (mystery)
3. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (fiction)
4. The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta (mystery)
5. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (fiction)
6. Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas (fiction)
7. Fade by Lisa McMann (teen)
8. Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner (teen)
9. The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian (fiction)
(2009 alternates: The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede [teen])
1. First Rule by Robert Crais (mystery)
2. Blackout by Connie Willis (fantasy?)
3. Death Without Tenure by Joanne Dobson (mystery)
4. False Mermaid by Erin Hart (mystery)
5. A Night Too Dark by Dana Stabenow (mystery)
6. The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs (mystery)
7. Gone by Lisa McMann (teen)
8. So Cold the River by Michael Koryta

This is giving me a chance to read so many books I've been meaning to get to, especially the teen books, and I'm also getting to catch up on the books I own!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Twitter & Blog Challenges

Hello All!

I have been on Twitter for about 5 months now, and have found a whole bunch of book bloggers to follow! It's a lot of fun, seeing and hearing about what others are reading and blogging about, and for me, easier than following blogs via RSS.

Several of these bloggers, and I assume many others, make up or follow reading challenges. These are lists of books to read in a particular genre, by a certain author, or just a number of books to read by a certain date. There are two cool ones in particular I'm planning on participating in:

Lost in Books blogger Rebecca ( ) is participating in a countdown challenge, and this one may only sound like fun to me, but I think I can come up with a good list for this:

"What is the Countdown Challenge? The goal of this challenge is to read the number of books first published in a given year that corresponds to the last digit of each year in the 2000s — 10 books from 2010, 9 books from 2009, 8 books from 2008, etc. The total number of books required, therefore, is 55.

This challenge lasts from 9/9/09 through 10/10/10.

Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and your lists may change at any time.So that is a total of 55 books that can be overlapped with other challenges. Plus, as long as the book is published in the year you put it for, it can be fiction, nonfiction, biography, mystery, literary fiction, romance, whatever."

Making the list may be the most fun part...

The other challenge I'm looking forward to I read about on, and it seems as if Booking Mama conceived this one. It's the Shelf Discovery challenge, based on the book by the same name, which I happened to receive as an advance reading copy last year. The full title of the book is Shelf Discovery: Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading by Lizzy Skurnick, and it's lists and commentary on classic teen books girls loved to read. I loved this book the minute I got it, and it's going to be such fun to make a list from this book too. The lists probably won't cross over, as the dates won't work, but it'll take me back to my teen years. I'm going to try not to reread favorites, but that may be hard to resist!

"SHELF DISCOVERY is a "reading memoir" which features over 70 MG and YA classics with Ms. Skurnick's unique impressions. There are also essays about these classics written by current women writers including Meg Cabot, Laura Lippman, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Jennifer Weiner. Details: The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 - April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a "book report" to share your thoughts with others!" More info about the challenge is at

I'm excited about making the lists, and participating in the book/reading blogosphere more than I have in the past. Anyone want to join me?

Happy Reading!
On Twitter, I'm @bkwmn1992

Monday, November 2, 2009

Reader's Dilemma

Hello All!

This reader's dilemma is what to read next. I have been going through a stressful and busy time the last two months, and have done quite a bit of rereading. But I just unpacked my books purchased and/or signed at Bouchercon, and made a pile of the books I want to read next, or soon, or...well, you get the picture. Those are the mysteries.

Then there are the young adult or teen novels that sound great, or are well-reviewed; these are part of my job to read. I don't mean that in a "homework" kind of way, but in a great way--more good books to read! And again, what to read next? In this case, the choice was made for me; I have How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt checked out, and it has holds on it, so that's the next one there.

Nonfiction--I started Grand Canyon Women: Lives Shaped by Landscape by Betty Leavengood, but haven't gotten far yet. I also have Paula Deen's It Ain't All About the Cookin' and Charles and Emma: the Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman checked out--they'll probably both have to be renewed.

And there are the books that I've already chosen and am reading now: Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler (mystery), and The Odd Job by Charlotte Macleod (mystery & reread); just FYI.

I may have mentioned this before, and I may mention it again--how can people say they're bored when there are so many choices out there of books to read!?!?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back to Blogging and Bouchercon 2009

Hello All!

Ahhh, it's nice to be back & writing blogs. I'm taking inspiration from NaNoWriMo (annual November event National Novel Writing Month, the goal of which is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days), and am going to try to blog every day during the month of November. After 30 days, I'm hoping this (and other self-improvements) will have become habits.

Today is my belated Bouchercon report. Bouchercon is the World Mystery Convention, which was held this year in Indianapolis. I arrived Thursday early afternoon with my friend Robin, we checked into the hotel, dropped our stuff, registered with the convention, and separated to go find friends (Robin may have gone off to a panel...). I was lucky enough to run into first Judy Bobilik, then Ruth Jordan, who were already having a great time. Next I ran into my friends Ted Hertel, and Gary Niebuhr, who I seem to spend much of my time at conventions with, along with Marv Lachman. Ted Fitzgerald, another good friend, soon joined us, and I just basked in seeing these good friends; it had been 3 years since I'd been to Bouchercon.

Later in the afternoon, Sisters In Crime held a tea for 100 or so librarians, and Gary and I sat with S. J. Rozan. It was a very lovely short event, from which all were able to walk away with a free book.

Early in the evening, the short story, Crimespree, Macavity, and Barry Awards were all announced, and it was fun to see friends & acquaintances win. Later in the evening, the convention attendees were treated to free games and food at a nearby GameWorks--lots of fun! I ended up walking over and chatting with Joanna Carl, NASCAR racing with Gary, Terry Faherty and a complete stranger (I won!) and also had a wonderful conversation with Steve Hockensmith.

Up early Friday AM, in hopes for some free books (no worries, I paid for quite a few books!), but the publishers' event was not very well organized, and I was too far back in the crowd. I tried to attend a Private Eye Panel with S. J. Rozan, Max Allan Collins, John Lutz and Michael Koryta, but in the only snafu I saw, the panel was housed in a very small room for the subject, so I stood out in the hall for a good part of it--very good. Lunched with Megan Abbott, Judy Bobilik, Robin, and Robin's friend Aline--it was a lot of fun. Next was the Guest of Honor interview of Michael Connelly by Michael Koryta--this was excellent and enjoyable. I am inspired to get back to reading Connelly's books (I've been in cozy and/or rereading phase lately). I spent a little time & money in the dealers' room, then took a short bus ride to a local Western museum (in Indianapolis?) for a Western panel. On the bus, I finally met Jen Forbus in person!!! We'd been communicating online in various ways for at least a year, and it was fun to sit and talk with her! At the panel we sat with Terry Faherty, who in addition to being a wonderful crime writer, is an artist. The panel consisted of Craig Johnson, Steve Hockensmith, C. J. Box, a new name I don't recall, and Ann (whose last name I've forgotten). It was an interesting panel, and amusing in that at least 2 of the panelists thought they were writing historical fiction, not realizing their books also were Westerns. Terry took my pen and pad away from me and drew a silhouette of Craig Johnson with his cowboy hat on. I had Terry sign it, and he told me to have Craig sign it too. Craig not only did that, he took it one step farther and drew a caricature of himself at the bottom of the page--what fun!

Robin and I went to the Little, Brown party (invitation only, mostly authors, pretty cool), which had Michael Connelly (who I didn't have the chance to speak with), Michael Koryta, Megan Abbott, Reed Farrel Coleman, YA author John Green (a thrill for me, as he was registered for the con, but I love his books), and Bill Ott from Booklist. Also met two young publisher's reps who may or may not send me some advance reading copies. Walked back to the hotel where I ran into some other friends, Bill & Judy Crider, Jeff & Jackie Meyerson, and Jeff & Ann Smith--I tagged along with them for dinner. This was evening I spent time in the bar, including a terrific conversation with Tina Karelson & Simon Wood. Also finally met up with Sandy Balzo, and had my only sighting of Jerry Healy. Very enjoyable evening.

Saturday is when I start to get a little tired. Up early for the culinary panel, which included the award winning Julie Hyzy, Joanne Carl, Ellen Crosby & Nadine Gordon, moderated by Sandy Balzo. Good panel that made me want to go back to reading Joanne Carl's books and check into Ellen Crosby's. Out for an early lunch with Gary, Ted H & Sandy. Late that afternoon was the Anthony Awards, and I was so happy for Julie Hyzy (her second award of the weekend!), Chris Grabenstein and Michael Connelly! Off to dinner afterwards with Ted F, Robin, Aline, Jen and new friend Beth Ann from Jackson, MI. Later that evening was the Reacher's Creature's party given annually by author Lee Child. What an insane amount of people in much too small of a place! The bar, The Slippery Noodle, was a very cool blues bar with great music, but we were just put in too small of a space. I went back early to the hotel bar for a short time, but was actually in bed by 11:30(!). Robin & I scooted out without any long goodbyes, which was good for me, as I would have probably gotten a bit misty-eyed.

I love the mystery community and I love Bouchercon!!! My next one will be in St. Louis in 2o11.

Not mentioned in this much shortened version is all the lovely people I met, the many authors who are so fun and so kind to fangirls ;), and the books that I brought home and look so forward to reading!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Finished Four Books Today

Hello All!

I worded the title of this blog very carefully--note that I finished four books today, I didn't read all of them today. Three I was close to finishing when I came home from work tonight, and the fourth I started reading sometime after 8:00 PM, and finished by 11:00 PM. In the order in which I finished them:

The Hanging Hill by Chris Grabenstein: This is Grabenstein's second book for younger readers, a sequel to The Crossroads. The main characters have discovered that they really have a talent for seeing ghosts; their first adventure wasn't a fluke. Zack and his stepmom Judy really can see ghosts, and the Hanging Hill Playhouse seems to be full of them. They are there for a production of one of Judy's children's books that was turned into a play. This is a fast-paced read, with ghosts, bad guys, attempts at magic and bringing people back from the dead, with an explosive finish. I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as The Crossroads.

Murder Shoots the Bull by Anne George: This is a reread for me, and just as enjoyable as the first time around. Patricia Anne and Mary Alice, sisters in solving crimes (ones that they stumble into) are trying to prove the innocence of Patricia Anne's neighbor, Arthur, who is accused of killing his first wife. This mystery includes an investment group, lots of money, a long ago accident, and another pair of sisters.

Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron: Maron is one of my very favorite authors and she never lets me down. In this entry to the Judge Deborah Knott series, Deborah is on her own at a judges' conference when one of their own is killed. This is followed by the injury of another judge, and Deborah can't seem to stay out of finding out what's going on. She's encouraged by the local detective in charge, as she has assisted her husband, a deputy sheriff, in the resolution of several crimes. Deborah has an in, and insight, into the judges, and she gleans what information she can; despite being careful, she finds herself in an interesting situation more than once in this book.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher: This is a classic young adult/teen novel that I've been meaning to read for a long time--read right through it this evening! Eric "Moby" Calhoune has only slimmed down during his high school years, thanks to the swim team. His best friend is Sarah Byrnes, whose face and arm were burned and scarred by boiling water when she was very young. They became friends as outcasts when Eric was much heavier, and even as he began swimming and losing weight, he tried to maintain his weight; he was worried that their friendship wouldn't survive changes to his appearance. Their friendship more than survives as they go through some big changes and revelations during their senior year of high school. An amazing book, and I look forward to reading more by Chris Crutcher.

Ahh, I'm so happy to be writing about what I'm reading again. This blog will still be erratic until about the beginning of November, but I couldn't not write about these books tonight.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Well-Read Are You?

Hello All!

I'm using this meme to get me back to blogging.

This is from and she got it from Laura's Reviews. Laura wanted to see how well read she was in American Literature so she combined a few top 100 lists of books pulling out the American authors. How well read do you think you are?

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES.

Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.(Like Rebecca, I decided for fun to put an M for those whose movies I have seen.)
1. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (X)
2. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (X)
3. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (M)
4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
5. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (X) (M)
7. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
8. Dune by Frank Herbert
9. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (X)
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
11. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (X)
13. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
14. O Pioneers! By Willa Cather
15. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
16. My Antonia by Willa Cather (X)
17. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
18. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
19. Little House on the Praire by Laura Ingalls Wilder (X)
20. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
21. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
22. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (X)
23. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
24. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
25. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
26. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
27. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
28. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (M)
29. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
30. The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
31. Roots by Alex Haley (M)
32. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (X)
33. Katherine by Anya Seton
34. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
35. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (X)(M)
37. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (X)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (X)(M)
39. The Collected Stories of Katherine Ann Porter4
0. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
41. The Stand by Stephen King
42. Carrie by Stephen King
43. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
44. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
45. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
46. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
47. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
48. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (X)
49. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (X)
50. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (X)
51. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (X)
52. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
53. Mystic River by Denis Lehane (X)(M)
54. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
55. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
56. Rabbit Run by John Updike
57. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates
58. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty
59. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (X)
60. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
61. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (X)
62. Sandman by Neil Gaiman
63. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
64. World’s Fair by E.L. Doctorow
65. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (X)
66. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (X)
67. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (X)
68. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
69. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger
70. Cathedral, Raymond Carver
71. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
72. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (X)(M)
73. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (M)
74. Deep End of the Ocean by Jacqueline Mitchard
75. John Adams by David McCullough
76. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
77. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult (X)
78. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
79. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
80. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
81. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
82. Native Son by Richard Wright
83. U.S.A. (trilogy) by John Dos Passos
84. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
85. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
86. The Bridge of the San Luis Ray by Thornton Wilder
87. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (X)
88. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
89. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
90. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
91. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy (X)(M)
92. Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (X) (M)
93. Beloved by Toni Morrison
94. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
95. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
96. So Big by Edna Ferber
97. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (X)
98. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
99. The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty
100. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’ConnerBooks

read: 28
Books seen movie of: 11
Books read AND seen movie: 7
Books not read yet: 62

I don't know that I'd necessarily read any of those I have not read to date. My to-be-read list is ridiculous as it is :), so I think I'll focus on those books for now. Have fun!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mystery Read-A-Thon #2

Hello All!

Here's the third book I finished today, as posted on Goodreads also:

"It's actually 4.5 stars :). I liked this book so much better than the first in Sean Chercover's Ray Dudgeon series. The problem I had with Big City, Bad Blood was there was a little too much vengeance for me.

Trigger City starts out as Ray is hired by a grieving father to find out what really happened in the murder of his daughter. The Chicago Police consider it a an open-and-shut case, where a woman is killed by an employee who has exhibited maniac behaviors, and who then kills himself, leaving a suicide note. This case gets very big, very quickly, moving into international relations, and mercenaries. Is it too big for Ray to handle?

What I liked so much about this book is that Ray was a PI who worked well with others, including the police and the FBI. So many fictional PI's don't, and this made it a better story for me.

This book won the 2009 Dilys Award, given by booksellers as a favorite of theirs to recommend to customers. It is also nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Novel, and the Macavity Award for Best Novel--both awards to be given at Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention in October, 2009.

I'm also proud to say I've met Sean Chercover, and in addition to being an author deserving of the above awards, he's also a great guy."

Re: the Mystery Read-A-Thon--I failed miserably :) at reading for 12 hours straight. I ended up taking a nap (2 hours), and got sidetracked by another project (about 1 hour), and I will be finishing up this post about an hour before my 12 hours were to end. It was fun planning for, and being involved with others who were doing the same thing.

I do have a lot of time to read overall--my husband occasionally works out of town (and he's a reader too), I don't have kids, pets, or own house with a yard to take care of, so I have a bit more time than the average person for reading. Yes, I do count myself as quite lucky in that regard.

Happy Reading!

Mystery Read-A-Thon #1

Mystery Read-A-Thon

Started this morning at 10:15 AM, after a 2 mile walk on the treadmill and a shower:

Baring Arms by Jo-Ann Powers
I really like the main character in this 2-book (so far) series by Jo-Ann Power. Congresswoman Carly Wagner is from Texas and is strong, feisty, funny, and doesn't take crap from anyone. As she recently solved a murder committed in her own office, she has no doubts about her own investigative skills, and also knows how to use the networks available to her throughout Washington.

Carly's daughter Jordan is nearly arrested in a raid on a gaming party, but is scooped away from trouble by Carly's friend, Mr. Jones, who helped her in the murder that occured in her office. Mr. Jones works for "a company" that provides very expensive and high tech investigative work for "clients he doesn't know". The gaming party ends up being a source from which many questions arise, and one murder--that of the father of 2 of Jordan's friends. How the gaming party comes together with a case the Mr. Jones is working on, along with missing government information makes for a very good read.

I like the characterizations in this book, and in the first one, especially those of Carly and her daughter Jordan.
Mystery Read-a-thon info: started at 10:15 AM on p. 206, finished at 10:50 AM, 260 pp total.

Gilda Joyce Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison
Started at 10:55-ish, read about 35 pp, didn't like enough to continue reading.

Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott is such an amazing writer! She always takes you directly to the time period she's writing in, and you feel you are there as the story unfolds.

This title, due out in July, takes place in Arizona, in 1931, as Mrs. Marion Seeley is left behind there by her husband so that the dry air can heal her consumption. Her husband, a doctor with licensing problems due to drug addiction, goes to work in Mexico for a mining company as their doctor.

Marion befriends a coworker, Louise, and Louise's roommate, Ginny, and the three soon spend several evenings a week together, cooking and listening to the radio. It evolves that Louise and Ginny run with something of a wild crowd, having parties at their home frequently. One of their men friends is Joe Lanigan, and Marion is soon seduced into an affair with him, which becomes an obsession for her.

Where this obsession will lead, and what Marion finds herself doing is the heart of this book. Megan Abbott writes these dark tales better than anyone. From reading other works by her, thise is at least the third title she's based on a true story. For those who like the darker, seamier side of life, this is the book for you.
Started at 11:15 AM, finished at 1:35 PM 270 pp including Author's Note

I feel a nap coming on, so I'm not sure I'll get my full 12 hours in today. I do feel I'm getting good reading done though, which will continue after the nap!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meme 2: Mystery Read-A-Thon 2009

Tell us more about your mystery/thriller reading habit.

When did you start reading this genre? In elementary school, in 2nd or 3rd grade. I remember being in the school library, looking at or for a Happy Hollisters book.

What was your first experience with the genre? The ever popular Nancy Drew or Agatha Christie? Or someone completely different? The Happy Hollisters first, then Nancy Drew, Dana Girls. I don't remember how I moved to adult mysteries, but I know that Charlotte Macleod and Phyllis Whitney both wrote for teens also, so those may have been transitional authors for me.

How did you discover it? In the school library.

Do you exclusively read mysteries and thrillers or do you mix it with other genres? I mix in other genres.

If you switch genres, which other genres do you read? I read quite a bit of young adult (YA), as I am a teen librarian; I also read fiction, fantasy, science fiction, some romance (preferably screwball) and nonfiction.

Would love to hear others' answers to the above questions!

Happy Reading!

Introductory Meme for Mystery Read-A-Thon 2009

As the first members will probably be starting the Mystery Read-A-Thon around this time, here's the first post. For this, we have a short meme for you all to answer. Please take the questions to your blog and leave a link directly to the post in the comments here!

What books do you want to read during this read-a-thon?
Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison (YA), Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (ARC from Kathy F--thanks!!!), Raiders of the Lost Corset by Ellen Byerrum, A Night at the Operation by Jeffrey Cohen, Trigger City by Sean Chercover, The Boxer and the Spy by Robert B. Parker (YA), and A Mammoth Murder by Bill Crider (titles subject to the whims of the reader on June 7)

How many books do you hope to finish? At least 3.

What (if any) breaks do you intend to take? I plan on taking breaks here and there for the restroom & food, to check in online, to post on Goodreads & my blog, and to spend time with my husband (who has his own plans for most of the day).

Do you generally read lots of mysteries and thrillers or are the one of the many genres you like? I'm a huge mystery fan, and it's my preferred genre, though I read a little bit of almost everything.

What are some of your favorite authors? Margaret Maron, Sarah Shaber, Louise Penny, S.J. Rozan, Donna Leon, Megan Abbott,...just the beginning of a very long list :).

If you could make us all read one mystery or thriller for this read-a-thon, which one would it be and why? A Place of Execution by Val McDermid, because it's a book that takes some time to read, and is excellent--a read-a-thon would be a perfect time to focus on it.

Do you prefer series or stand alones? Series

Happy Reading!

Prep for Mystery Read-A-Thon 2009

Hello All!

Here's the link to the Mystery Read-A-Thon I'm participating in tomorrow, Sunday, June 7, 2009:

I think I'm ready--I've got food for meals, snacks (generally, mostly low calorie, kinda healthy), I may allow myself 2 Diet Cokes instead of my usual 1, and I'll be drinking lots of water (it's the desert, and our humidity's been 15% or below lately).

Here are the books I've set aside, though not necessarily in the order I may to read them:
Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison (YA)
Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (ARC from Kathy F--thanks!!!)
Raiders of the Lost Corset by Ellen Byerrum
A Night at the Operation by Jeffrey Cohen
Trigger City by Sean Chercover
The Boxer and the Spy by Robert B. Parker (YA)
A Mammoth Murder by Bill Crider

I have also started reading another mystery today, which I am still undecided about, so that may end up on the list if I end up finishing it tomorrow.

Not sure yet about how I'll be posting, here and on Goodreads (probably on Facebook & Twitter too), but my usual thing is to post reviews on Goodreads after I've finished a book, so I'll probably do that.

Ahhhh, a day of guilt-free reading--looking forward to seeing who else participates, and, as always, would love to know what you're reading!

Happy Reading!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mystery Read-A-Thon June 7!

Hello All!

Like many (most?) of you, I don't need an excuse to spend time reading, especially mysteries, but for one Sunday in June, I've got one! On June 7, I'm participating in a Mystery Readathon--12 hours to be spent reading mysteries!!! is the site to go and register for this event. I followed the link to the Dewey's Read-a-Thon (that one is 24 hours!), and I will probably keep my own hours that day--not necessarily keeping to the time outlined on the link above--I'm currently thinking 10 AM to 10 PM, giving me time to exercise & shower before starting. And if the Detroit Red Wings continue to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they play that day, that game will have to be on while I'm reading :).

I think it'll be fun, and I'll be posting updates here and on Facebook. Join me! Thanks to Jen of Jen's Book Thoughts for leading me to this link, and to a day of mystery reading!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rereading in 2009

Hello All!

2009 has become the year of rereading for me, for two reasons. One, I'm very busy with a lot of new experiences coming at me, and while I'm finding most of them very exciting, I'm a bit tired, and rereading allows you to visit with familiar characters, if not familiar plots, depending on how well you remember the book, or how often you've read it. Two, we had a lot of things in storage before our move to Tucson, including books, and some books I'm rereading to "catch-up" in a series I may have put on hold while we were living in our smaller place.

To many readers out there, rereading is crazy, why do people want to read a book over again when there are so many new books to read? Well, for me it seems to be mostly spending time with characters that I love. I will add that I'm a fast reader, and often rereading doesn't take too much time for me. Rereading is also excellent for bedtime.

I will also be spending a lot of time in 2009 reading young adult or teen books. As those of you who follow my blog know, I began a position in December as a Teen Librarian, and I am reading some excellent teen fiction.

Some series I'm rereading my way through are Commissario Guido Brunetti Venetian series by Donna Leon, Karen Pelletier academic series by Joanne Dobson, Jake Hines series by Elizabeth Gunn, Ophelia & Abby (witch) series by Shirley Damsgaard--off the top of my head. All of these authors are still writing, though some authors I reread are gone, such as Anne George and Charlotte Macleod.

Happy Reading (or, rereading, as the case may be!)!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Geek Quiz

Hello All!

Lesa Holstine posted this to her blog, so I'm following suit--it can also be posted (pasted?) to Facebook. I am definitely a book geek!!!

Copy the questions into your own note, answer the questions, and tag any friends who would appreciate the quiz.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Charlotte Macleod/Alisa Craig. I own 33 titles by her, almost all of her books, except for her teen books written early in her career.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
I have recently weeded out my books, but if I still own more than one copy, it would be just 2 of Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Just one? Spenser, Elvis Cole, Armand Gamache, and Simon Shaw.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?
Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
I'm not sure if I had discovered Meet the Austins yet by Madeleine L'Engle; if I hadn't, probably Nancy Drew or the Happy Hollisters.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Ha! Whittled down from my best of 2008 & current best of 2009, they are: These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, and Paper Towns by John Green.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
Still Life by Louise Penny. It takes place in a small village in Quebec, which I think gives it a bit of a French flavor, it's a good mystery, an excellent cast of characters. It gives readers a bit of a taste of a variety of genres, I believe.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I don't seem to read what is usually nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I know I've dreamed about books & characters, but I can't recall any specific dreams.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
At this time, I don't know.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read? One of the most difficult books I ever read was A Beautiful Mind, mostly because I couldn't wrap my brain around the math in it.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I've seen very little Shakespeare.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
I like Lesa's answer to this one: "Neither. Give me Americans, British or Canadians."

18) Roth or Updike? Neither.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I haven't read either one.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer? Shakespeare.

21) Austen or Eliot? Austen!

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Nonfiction probably.

23) What is your favorite novel?
Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

24) Play? "Les Miserables" or "Carousel".

25) Poem?
No favorite at this time

26) Essay?
There are several I really like by Anna Quindlen, but I don't have her books on hand right now.

27) And... what are you reading right now?
Bindlestiff by Bill Pronzini and Execution Dock by Anne Perry

28) What's the best title for a book ever (you don't have to like the book).

This takes a little time, but I'd love to see other people take this quiz :)!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Plainsong--Book Turned Movie

Hello All!

I happened across "Plainsong" when I was channel-surfing this evening, and though often we don't want to watch our favorite books turned into films, I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm glad I did--it had an excellent cast that included Aidan Quinn, America Ferrara, Rachel Griffiths and Megan Follows, and the adaptation was true to the spirit of the book. I was hoping to see more of Megan Follows, as it seems most of her work is in Canada, but her work in a small role was good in the movie. There were definitely parts left out from the book, but as most film adaptations (movie or made for TV) have a time limit, that is to be expected. I also thought the actors who played the older farm brothers were good, and those that played the young Guthrie boys were excellent, as many of the story transitions came from them.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf is one of my absolute favorite books. A lot happens in a very steady paced plot, with characters that seem low-key, but live their lives trying to be the best people they can be. The characters have a quiet strength to them.

I can't recommend the book highly enough; it's one I think everyone should read. And the film adaptation is pretty good too.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

Hello All,

What an outstanding book We Are the Ship is. The illustrations are absolutely amazing, I can't get over how beautiful they are. The text is wonderful too; it gives a lot of information in a very interesting, conversational way. I couldn't quite name the style, but the author did that for me in his Author's Note: "I chose to present the voice of the narrator as a collective voice, the voice of every player, the voice of we." It's perfect for this book.

I knew very little about the Negro League before reading this book, but I have always loved baseball. In Detroit, the Detroit Tigers have been playing a game every year the last few years in honor of the Negro League, wearing the uniform of the Detroit Stars for that game. Despite this, I had no idea how popular the League was in its heyday, with both black and white fans, and how it was acknowledged for a very long time that the Negro League players were every bit as good, and some better, than the white players playing major league baseball.

In addition to both the 2009 Coretta Scott King Awards for author (winner) AND illustrator (honor), this book also won the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Medal from the American Library Association. "The Sibert Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year."

I can't recommend this stunningly beautiful book enough to all ages, both for the illustrations and for the writing!

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Shanghai Moon by S. J. Rozan

Hello All,

What a terrific book, with wonderful storytelling. S. J. Rozan has long been one of my favorite authors, and this book was well worth waiting for. It's been about six years or so since the last entry in the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series.

What made this so wonderful to me was that Rozan tells two stories. The reader gets the PI novel with Lydia & Bill, but also an interesting historical story told in letters about Jewish emigrants to Shanghai just before WWII. Rosalie and her brother Paul are young people who leave Europe as Austria is invaded by Germany. On their journey to Shanghai, they are befriended by a Chinese gentleman named Kai-Rong. The friendship continues in Shanghai, as Rosalie and Paul go through some tough times adjusting to their new surroundings. Friendship turns to romance, and despite cultural differences, Rosalie and Kai-Rong marry. This story is told through letters Rosalie writes to her mother; not all the letters are sent, as the situation in Europe evolves, but Rosalie continues to write.

Lydia is hired by an old friend, another detective, to assist in a case using her connections in the Chinese community in New York. The case involves recovering assets from WWII, the Jewish community in Shangai, and missing jewelry, specifically a piece called the Shanghai Moon. Lydia's detective friend, Joel, is killed during the course of the case, and although she is fired, Lydia, now assisted by Bill, pursues Joel's murder and the missing jewelry.

Again, this book is terrific, and involved, and very, very interesting. I enjoyed all that I learned while reading it, and Rozan told two wonderful stories within one book. Very, very highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Miss Reading & Blogging!

Hello All!

The end is near! The end of my long commute days, that is. We are moving from Chandler, AZ to Tucson, AZ, at the end of this week. This will cut my almost 2 hour commute (one way) to about 1/2 an hour. Ahhhh.

I have not had time, or really the concentration, to do much reading and therefore, much blogging. I've been mostly rereading, or reading comfort reads (see previous post). Right now I'm rereading Winter & Night by S. J. Rozan in preparation for reading her new book Shanghai Moon.

But all sorts of things are happening out in the book world--things that I can't follow up on until we move and get unpacked. The American Library Association announced numerous awards they gave out at their Midwinter Convention; those I'm most interested in are the Printz, for Young Adults, and the Newbery, for Children's Literature (the Newbery tends to skew to the higher elementary to middle school readers)--the awards can be found here.

The Edgar Allan Poe Award nominees were posted also; I'm not thrilled with the list overall, just my own opinion, but here again I'd like to read the Young Adult nominees .

And then there's my endless To Be Read list--every time I look at that, I feel there's something I want to sit down and read right now. And I don't want to think about the agony I'm going to go through unpacking my own books, some of which have been in storage for over a year and a half. Whether I've read them or not, I'm sure I'm going to want to sit right down and read almost every one I unpack! Due to my driving schedule, I've already cut back on my TV watching quite a bit; hopefully I can stay out of the habit to get into the habit of using that time to read starting next week (along with an exercise program, off topic for this blog).

I am thoroughly excited about setting up a new, bigger home with my husband, and getting to know our new town of Tucson. But I also look forward to getting back into a regular schedule that includes a regular amount of reading time.

I look forward to blogging about the above soon!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thank Goodness for Comfort Reads!

Hello All!

As I have mentioned before, I started a new job with the Valencia Branch Library in Tucson on Dec. 1. Currently, my commute is not quite 2 hours each way, 5 days a week, and we are moving from Chandler, AZ to Tucson in 2 weeks. My reading time is very limited, and done usually during my quick breakfast, or before falling asleep at night.

Hence, comfort reads, which for me also include rereads. Before Christmas I reread Charlotte Macleod's Rest You Merry, which does get one into a humorous mood for the holidays. Since then, I've read Jeff Cohen's It Happened One Knife, reread Anne George's Murder on a Girl's Night Out, and am currently reading both Suzann Ledbetter's Halfway to Half Way, and Louise Penny's A Rule Against Murder (US title is The Murder Stone). Murder on a Girl's Night Out really hit the spot, but unfortunately it doesn't look as if Murder on a Bad Hair Day (2nd in the series) is available through my library system--I'll just have to wait until I unpack it, by which point, I may not need comfort reads as much. Halfway to Half Way is hitting the spot, with some screwball humor in it, and characters I enjoy. As I've also been working my way through another of Charlotte Macleod's series, Sarah Kelling & Max Bittersohn, I have The Recycled Citizen ready to go.

I'm reading A Rule Against Murder this weekend in preparation for Louise Penny's visit to Poisoned Pen on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to that evening!

I define comfort reads as those books that make me feel better, that have characters that I can relax with, and plots that are good, but that I'm also able to keep up with if I have pick up and put down a book frequently (or infrequently, as time permits). I am a bit stressed right now, between a new job, commuting and preparing for a move, but I also always have a need to read, and to have found books to get one through the tough times when there isn't really time for reading is wonderful.

Sorry if this post wanders a bit--I may refine it a bit later on. Until then, I hope you have comfort reads available to you, should you need them.

Please feel free to share your comfort reads in a comment below!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Favorite Books of 2008 (long post)

Hello All!

January 1, and time to post my favorite books of 2008. I have no major criteria for choosing a favorite book--it should stay with me, be a book I want to share with others, and a book that I loved for one reason or another. I have included some short reviews from my Goodreads account, but I only started writing them in the last few months. The books are listed in the order that I read them, and include author, title, publication date and genre:

Balzo, Sandra Grounds for Murder (2007) MYS
Hockensmith, Steven On the Wrong Track (2007) MYS/W
Traviss, Karen Crossing the Line (2004) SF

Penny, Louise The Cruelest Month (2008) MYS
Turner, Nancy E. These Is My Words (1998) FIC
Traviss, Karen The World Before (2005) SF
Selznick, Brian The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) JFIC
Balliett, Blue Chasing Vermeer (2004) JMYS
Stanley, Michael A Carrion Death (2008) MYS
Wyman, Willard High Country (2005) WEST
Allen, Sarah A. The Sugar Queen (2008) FIC
Greenwood, Kerry Heavenly Pleasures (2005) MYS
Alexie, Sherman The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian(2007) YA Chandler, Raymond The Lady in the Lake (1943) MYS

Jacobs, Kate The Friday Night Knitting Club (2007) FIC
I loved this book and the mix of women in the knitting club. I also enjoyed the relationship that the main character, Georgia, had with her daughter, Dakota. I'm glad that the author chose to look inside each character's life, not just writing from the main character's point of view. I think this way, women readers can find one or more characters to identify with. As someone who is who still feels new to Arizona after being here a year, I'm trying to find new women friends (I have met several, but 2 are moving away soon), so I found this book somewhat inspiring in that regard.

Dallas, Sandra Tallgrass (2007) FIC/W
This book won the Western Spur Award for Best Short Novel in 2008. I thought it was wonderful, and the story reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird. Rennie Stroud is a 12 or 13 year old girl who has to grow up a little more quickly as a Japanese internment camp is built next to her family's sugar beet farm. Her family is more tolerant than many of those in their small town, and Rennie learns a lot. I'm having a hard time describing this book (at least right now), but it is wonderful and interesting, and definitely award-winning. Sandra Dallas is a wonderful writer.

Harris, C. S. When Gods Die (2006) MYS
I enjoyed this book, partially because it lived up to what I'd read about it (a good historical mystery), and partially because it takes place during one of my favorite time periods, the Regency in England (approximately 1811-1820, though I may be off slightly). Sebastian St. Cyr had gone through quite a time previous to this novel, not enough of which is revealed, for me. But it leads to him being called into sensitive situations in society, such as when the Prince Regent finds a dead woman in the Brighton Pavilion during a party. The search for the answer leads Sebastian all over London, in both high and low society, showing demonstrating his detecting skills and intelligence. I really enjoyed the character of Sebastian, but would like to have known the full story how he got involved in solving situations in Regency society. A very enjoyable historical mystery with an intriguing main character.

Shaffer, Mary Ann & Annie Barrows The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008) FIC
I LOVED this book!!! I want to move to Guernsey (the Guernsey of 1946, that is), and befriend these characters! I think my favorite is the protagonist, Julie, but I also loved several of the very strong women living on the island, helping themselves and their neighbors get through WWII. Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, located very close to the coast of France. It was occupied by the Germans during the war, and I'm always amazed to read about the strength of character people under occupation have, whether I'm reading fiction or nonfiction. I always doubt I could handle what so many people did and do while under occupation, but maybe I could. The occupation is a strong underlying theme, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is also very much about friendship, especially the friendship between those who are booklovers. I LOVED this book!!!

Harris, C. S. What Angels Fear (2005) MYS
Ahhhh, this book filled in the blanks of When Gods Die. This is what I get for reading them out of order--which I HATE to do. I have no idea how it happened, but I'm managing to get past it :).

I loved this book as much as Harris's second title. I like the character of Sebastian, his relationships with Kat and young Tom, and how he doggedly follows through on a case. He is the accused in this book, allegedly raping and killing a young actress, and managing to escape arrest, decides to find the killer himself. Sebastian is a former intelligence officer in the war with France, so he puts all his training, and his own strong sense of deduction to work. There are two more in this series, and I am looking forward to reading them very much.
Alexander, Tasha A Fatal Waltz (2008) MYS
I loved this book! It was exactly what I was looking for this week! This is the third title in Tasha Alexander's series about Lady Emily Ashton and Colin Hargreaves, and both the writing and the characters have grown over the series. A Fatal Waltz starts with a country house party, where the host is shot and killed, and the story travels to London and on to Vienna. Colin is supportive of Emily's investigations (something new & different in mysteries!), and they are both in Vienna, working on different cases that eventually converge. Emily was befriended by Cecile du Lac in the first book of this series, an older woman who lives a life of her own choosing, due to being a widow and her own strong personality. Emily has learned a lot from her and they are great friends. This is where I believe Emily has learned to trust her own deductive reasoning, and also learning lessons from Colin, who is an investigator in his own right. I enjoy the main characters, the growth they've gone through, their intellect and deductive skills, and their relationship. I also enjoy the secondary characters--there are a good variety of them, and strong, interesting friendships.
Shepard, Adam Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream (2008) NF
This was an amazingly well written book, written by a young man who attempted a very interesting experiment. Adam Shepard decides to see if the American dream can be achieved from a certain set of circumstances--a train ticket to a southern large city, $25.00, the clothes on his back, and a duffle bag. Shepard travels by train to Charleston, South Carolina, and makes his way to a local homeless shelter. He works for as day laborer for awhile, and finds a good job as with a moving company.

Shepard is clear that a strong opposition to Barbara Ehrenriech's books Nickel and Dimed, and Bait and Switch lead to his experiment of finding out whether the American dream is still possible. Read this book to find out what Adam is able to achieve.

I believe that this book would definitely be appropriate for young adult or teen readers, as it is quite inspirational, and gives some pretty good advice. It's a good read for adults also, and I think that many readers will come away with ideas to handle their money in our current economy.

What an amazing year of books for me, and a surprising variety to me. It’s interesting as a reader to find out that you like different books than you anticipate, and it makes being a reader that much more wonderful.

I hope that 2009 is as wonderful for you as it is for me, and may we all find amazing, interesting, exciting and special books that really speak to us, or touch us in a particular way.

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!