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!