Monday, February 29, 2016

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Find Her is the latest book by author Lisa Gardner in her D.D. Warren series of mysteries.  It tells the story of Flora Dane, a woman who was kidnapped as a college student on her Spring Break trip and held for 472 days.  At the end of that time, Flora is rescued and comes home to her family.  Seven years have passed and Flora is again brought to the attention of police.

D.D. Warren is on restricted duty with the Boston P.D.after her injuries in a previous book.  She's supposed to be handling the things that a Detective Sergeant handles and letting her team investigate.  She's supposed to be managing and supervising from a desk.  That's not really D.D.'s style though, and she arrives at a crime scene to learn that a woman, naked and with her hands bound, has killed a man.  She's done it in a very unusual way.  That woman is Flora Dane.  And Flora doesn't want to identify herself or talk to the police.  Instead, she's asked for FBI Victim Specialist, Dr. Samuel Keynes.

I'm not really going to share much else about the story except to say that another college girl has been abducted and all of Boston has been searching for her, including Flora.  And Flora, who has never been the same girl she was before her captivity, has been learning how to defend herself.  Is Flora a victim?  Is she a vigilante?  These are the questions that D.D. and her squad need to answer.  But then, Flora herself disappears again and things get really complicated.

I've read several books by Lisa Gardner.  She writes both series and standalone books and they sometimes cross over between settings.  I really liked the previous D.D. Warren book, Fear Nothing.  I like D.D.'s character a lot and there wasn't as much of her in Find Her as I would have wished.  Plus she had the restricted duty, so she was supposedly constrained in what she could do.  I wasn't all that enamored of Flora herself.  She was a tough cookie and had painstakingly put herself back together after her long period with her kidnapper.  But, at great cost.

This book tells the current day story interspersed with Flora's kidnapping experience.  I usually like that method of relating the narrative, but I somehow didn't care for it as much here.  It might have been because I have read several books in the last few months that concerned situations sort of similar to this.  I'm really not sure I can put my finger on it.  I did like this book because I finished it.  I don't finish books that I dislike.  Perhaps it is just that I didn't get as much of the character that I do like a lot and too much of a character that I wasn't all that interested in.

In any case, I'll continue to read Lisa Gardner's books.  I find that some books by favored authors work better for me than others.  Many reviewers have found Find Her quite gripping.  Don't let me put you off of it.  I am curious to know how D.D. will fare in her next book and whether some other characters will show up again at a later time.

I also want to thank the publisher for giving me a copy of Find Her.  It was most appreciated.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - The Sixth Idea

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I'm very excited about the book I'm featuring this week.  I've been a big fan of this series, the Monkeewrench series, since the first book was published.  The author, P.J. Tracy, is actually a mother/daughter team and they do tend to have quite a long period between books.  With each one I wonder - is this the last?  My pick this week:

Publication Date:  August 2nd

The peaceful Christmas season in Minneapolis is shattered when two friends, Chuck Spencer and Wally Luntz, scheduled to meet in person for the first time, are murdered on the same night, two hours and several miles apart, dramatically concluding winter vacation for homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth.

An hour north of Minneapolis, Lydia Ascher comes home to find two dead men in her basement. When Leo and Gino discover her connection to their current cases, they suspect that she is a target, too.  The same day, an elderly, terminally ill man is kidnapped from his home, an Alzheimer’s patient goes missing from his care facility, and a baffling link among all the crimes emerges.

This series of inexplicable events sends the detectives sixty years into the past to search for answers—and straight to Grace MacBride’s Monkeewrench, a group of eccentric computer geniuses who devote their time and resources to helping the cops solve the unsolvable.  What they find is an unimaginable horror—a dormant Armageddon that might be activated at any moment unless Grace and her partners Annie, Roadrunner, and Harley Davidson, along with Leo and Gino, can find a way to stop it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Search The Shadows

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels.  In honor of my 'Gothic Reading' quest and also in honor of the fact that I try to reread at least one or two Michaels/Peters books each year, this is one of my favorites.  See what you think:

     Nineteen sixty-five wasn't the worst of years in which to be born, but it certainly wasn't the best.  It was, among other things, the year of Selma and of Watts.  Martin Luther King went to Alabama that year; they met him with tear gas and with dogs.  In Chicago they met him with night sticks.  But the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965.  You have to call that a plus.
     It was the year of the 'Great Society,' which would eliminate poverty in America.  An A-plus idea--if it had only worked.  On a lighter level, the Rolling Stones hit it big with a song called 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction,' and Simon and Garfunkel swept the charts with 'The Sounds of Silence.'  Diet Pepsi was introduced to the lucky American public; and in December, the month of my birth, Mary Quant unveiled the miniskirt.
     On the minus side, there was that little far-off police action in Vietnam.  By the end of 1965, U.S. planes had begun the bombing of the north, and there were over 400,000 American troops fighting, bleeding, and dying in actions that were never called a war.  One of the ones who died was a boy named Kevin Maloney.  For over twenty years I thought he was my father.


Haskell Maloney was cruelly orphaned when she was just a baby.  Now, twenty-two years later, she receives confirmation of the bitter truth she always suspected: the fallen war hero whose name she shares was not her father.  Her quest for answers—and a personal history—brings Haskell to the famed Oriental Institute in Chicago, a city in which her mother lived and thrived before her strange, untimely death.  But by rummaging around in the darkness, Haskell's exposing much more than she bargained for.  And now she's racing against the clock to discover who she really is . . . and why someone is suddenly determined to kill her.


Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters, aka - real name Barbara Mertz) was a graduate of the University of Chicago's  Oriental Institute with a doctorate in Egyptology when she was 23.  This book has all the components of my definition of 'gothic', plus it has some great Chicago info.  I love rereading it!

Monday, February 22, 2016

In which my afternoon book group ponders Everything I Never Told You...

I have recently (like last month) started attending the afternoon book group that meets at the library that was my former workplace.  I was the original moderator of this group almost 9 years ago and we read regular fiction and non-fiction, which is still what the group chooses.  A volunteer that attended the group took over when I quit working and she's still the moderator today.  I continue to work with the mystery group.

When the afternoon group needed a moderator for the February book, Everything I Never Told You, I volunteered to lead the discussion.  And I was a little nervous because the group has changed so much in the last few years.  There were 19 of us at the meeting and I told them that I didn't know how they managed things these days, but I was going to jump in feet first...and here's the quote I began with:

Because more than anything, her mother had wanted to stand out; because more than anything her father had wanted to blend in.  Because those things had been impossible.

Everything I Never Told You is a debut novel by Celeste Ng.  It tells the story of a family in the 1970's who learn that their 16-year-old daughter, Lydia, is dead.  No one is sure what happened exactly, but Lydia is gone.  The father, James Lee, is a history professor and a Chinese-American.  The mother, Marilyn, is a homemaker and formerly a physics major at Radcliffe.  Marilyn had intended to be a doctor.  There are two other children, Nathan, 18, and Hannah, who is 12.  They are both part of the family, but largely ignored by James and Marilyn.  Lydia has her mother's blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair and she is definitely not ignored.  All the children are 'different', coming from the two different cultures of their parents.  And everyone has something to hide and no one communicates very well with other members of the family.  This is a family in denial.  So, what happened to Lydia, this favorite child of James and Marilyn?  This is what we learn over the course of the story.

Everything I Never Told You generated a great discussion.  We had members that really didn't like the book or any of the characters.  Who thought the parents were horrible people.  We had members who were so very touched by the circumstances and found that aspects of the tale had great relevance to their lives.  Some thought about their parenting and wondered if they had 'damaged' their children in ways that they didn't realize.  Some thought this would be a mystery and most of the story would be about investigating a crime.  Since this isn't a mystery book group, that was not a popular notion.

I was pleased that so many aspects of the book were brought forward and analyzed.  Several told stories from their own personal lives or their professional lives that related to sections of this book.  We talked about pressures that parents put on teenage kids to excel and when is it too much?  I shared that we have two nieces that were adopted from China and how they both found it difficult, even today, to deal with preconceived notions about their lives and characters while they lived in Pennsylvania.  Their experiences were similar to things that happened to the Lee children.

Celeste Ng provides a very nice Book Group section on her website.  It contains questions for discussion, an interview of Celeste herself about her writing, a playlist of songs from the time period (1970's), and a recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which appears in this book and is significant.

I listened to Everything I Never Told You on audio and thought the writing was very good.  I had tried to read this book some time back, but I guess it wasn't the right time.  I found this story very sad and thought provoking.  I did enjoy the references to the 70's.  Part of the story goes back to the 1950's, while Marilyn was at Radcliffe and relates how she met James.  That section reminded me of the Julia Roberts movie, Mona Lisa Smile, which was set in 1953 at Wellesley.

In the end, the meeting was very successful.  I was glad that so many offered their thoughts.  Have you read this book?  Do you think it has a lot to talk about?  What was your experience?

This group will be reading Citizens of London for the meeting in March.  Non-fiction is very much not 'my thing', but I'm going to give it a shot.  I won't be the moderator though.  Thank goodness.

Friday, February 19, 2016

BBAW - About keeping that ol' wheel turning...

Last day, last day of BBAW 2016!!  It's been a fun week and I hope that you all feel the same way.  If this has not been to your taste necessarily, well, next week we'll return to our 'regularly scheduled programming'.  Today's topic is about burnout - in reading and in blogging.  Here's the question:

One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout.  How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

The dreaded burnout or reading slump!!  We've all been there, right?  I have.  I had another blog before this one.  Back when I began (2008), the book blogging world was growing rapidly. Everyone was friendly and cheerful and excited.  It was fun to meet people who loved reading and there was the whole 'advance reading copies' phenomenon - aka FREE BOOKS!!  So amazing!

Time passed and then the drama trickled in.  There were squabbles and upsets. Also, everyone was trying to figure out the 'rules' and how to ramp up their reading to comply with what we 'thought' was expected by our audience and by the publishers and authors. So then came the burnout and not enough time and 'no fun at all'.

I wasn't completely caught up in all of that, but I will say that there came a time when I was weary of writing reviews and weary of expectations (most of which were in my own head).  So, I dropped out.  Ended my blog and deleted it (so I couldn't change my mind).

Eventually, I did change my mind and began again.  Some differences this time though.  Here were my goals and maybe some of this will help if you find yourself hitting the 'burnout' time:

1.  Your blog belongs to you.  It reflects you.  And only you.  Make it what YOU want it to be.  Talk about what you are interested in.  Share books or life events or puppy pictures or random lists of things or whatever.  Again....about YOU!

2.  Don't compare to others.  Their blogs are about them.  Some have been around for a long, long time and so they know more people.  Some work harder to 'network'.  Each of us is unique.

3.  If you want to get 'advance reader copies', join Netgalley or Edelweiss.  That being said, it seems to be a slippery path for many bloggers.  A lot of 'expectations' (mostly self-inflicted) to read every one and review every one you accept.  Here's a clue - you don't have to read or review every advance book that you accept.  If you feel like it could get away from you, don't accept ARCs.  Oh, and you don't have to answer every email from a publicist or author that is pitching a book to you.  It doesn't mean that you are rude if you don't answer.

4.  Don't worry too much about your number of followers.  There are ways to increase the number, but it's hard work.  And if the hard work becomes too much like a job - there's the burnout.

5.  Read what you want.  Maybe scheduling your reading from now to the cows come home works for you.  It feels rigid to me and like being in college.  Hence - burnout.  I'll say it again - READ WHAT YOU WANT.  And if you hit a reading slump - maybe, don't read for a little bit.  I know.  Sacrilege.  Try it.  Ha!

6.  Make your blog your Zen place - a relaxing pursuit - not something that will have your shoulders up under your ears and your head hurting.  And take breaks when you need to.  I do and I think giving myself permission to step away when it feels right is what keeps this ol' wheel turning.


Thank you so very, very much for stopping by here and sharing this Book Blogger Appreciation Week!!  I've had a fun time.  Again, you are most welcome to pop in occasionally or more often to share 'kay's reading life'.

Here's hoping that your blogging time is an easy swing in a hammock with a cool breeze and good book!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

BBAW - About connections and where I might be found...

We meet again on this 4th day of BBAW.  Welcome!  Today's question is about connections:

How do you stay connected to the community?  Examples:  social media, regular commenting, participation in blog events, etc.

Connections, connections, connections - well, I'm not much of a connector in many ways.  I know.  We're supposed to be big fans of all the social media 'things'.  I can't even keep up with all the 'things'.  So, here's the scoop - I do have a Facebook page, but it took me forever to actually decide to try that.  And it's not connected to this blog, nor will it ever be.  I'm on Facebook in my personal life, mostly to loosely keep up with family, old friends, and see pretty vacation pictures.  Oh, and grandbabies - most of my old friends now have grandchildren and their pictures are so cute!!

I am not on Twitter or Instagram or Tumblr or whatever else is out there.  I know myself pretty well and I just cannot keep up with all that electronic info.  It's overwhelming and I would become a nervous wreck.  That may make me old, but honestly, I'm from the age group that was amazed by the VCR years ago.  Ha!  I also decided not to use Goodreads or LibraryThing.  Just seemed like more work to me.

I do comment a lot on other blogs.  I enjoy it and, if I have something to say, I'll leave a comment.  I think that's my way of staying in touch, instead of tweeting.  And I respond to the comments on my blog here.  If you leave a comment, I'll likely respond - you may never know it, but that's OK too.  I do not go back and check for replies after I've commented on a post elsewhere.  Too many and I can't remember to do that.

I also participate in a few, a very few blog events.  Here's a look at what I joined this last year:

The Estella Society took over R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril this last year from Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.  My first time joining in.  It's for reading anything mysterious, ghostly, gothic, spooky....you get the idea.  I loved it and if it comes up again this fall (September-October), I'll be there..

I did the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon last April.  Not sure if I'll participate again this year, but it was fun.  And, no, I didn't come close to 24 hours of reading.

Last March, Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity hosted 'A Day in the Life'.  Just an ordinary day that we could share our ordinariness.  I showed a bunch of pictures of me going through my day.  It was fun.

I wrote a post for Sheila's 'Playing To Beat The Banned' event last September during Banned Books Week.  In it, I told about my feelings concerning 'banning' books and what it was like working in a library during that week.  I would definitely participate in that event again.  You can find Sheila at Book Journey.

Most weeks, I join in on 'Waiting on Wednesday' hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  It's a meme that lets us share a book that we're anticipating being published in the future.  I love letting people know what new books are coming. 

I also usually participate in the weekly event hosted by Diane at Bibliophile By The Sea entitled 'First Chapter - First Paragraph - Tuesday Intros'.  We share a little bit from the beginning of a book we're reading or thinking about reading.  What's fun for me is looking around and finding a book that has a great hook at the beginning.

That's about it for me.  I don't do challenges or not very often.  You can see a couple of them in my sidebar that are ongoing right now - The TBR Triple Dog Dare  and Gothic Fiction Reading Challenge.  If you're interested, just click and find out more.  I also did a 'Salem's Lot Read-a-Long last fall that was a lot of fun.


Hope you enjoyed hearing about my 'connections'.  Tomorrow is the last day of BBAW and it's about burnout and how to avoid it.  See you there!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

BBAW - About other bloggers - International version...

Hello and Happy Wednesday - Day 3 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  I hope that you are enjoying this celebration of book bloggers as much as I am.  And if you're a bit tired of all this - well, just come back next week when things will return to 'normal'.  Today's question is:

What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger?

Wow!  What haven't I read in the last few years that wasn't due to another blogger?  I guess there have been a few choices that I've made on my own, but honestly, so many of the authors and books that I pick up and at least consider reading are brought to my attention on other blogs.

As is usual with me, I'm going to tweak this a bit and come at the question from a different direction.  Instead of listing specific books or authors that I've loved because of other bloggers, I'm going to share some blogs that I visit on a regular basis and get all kinds of tips and recommendations.  And since my interview yesterday was with a blogger from a country different than mine, I'm going to highlight blogs that are International to me.  I love all the US blogs, but these International bloggers bring authors and books that I might not hear of just visiting my local bookstore or library.  Here we go:

Some Fabulous International Blogs
aka 'We're not in Texas (or Kansas) anymore...'

Cleopatra Loves Books - Cleo lives on the Isle of Jersey and she reads crime novels like crazy.  I get all kinds of suggestions from her.  Seriously.  I told her recently that I should just let her choose my books, because I know I'd love all her choices.

crimeworm - Linda lives in Scotland (I'm pretty sure - though she thought I lived in Australia - Ha!).  She also reads mostly crime novels and got to attend a great mystery conference this last year.  She writes really good, thoughtful reviews.

FictionFan's Book Reviews - In the UK somewhere - writes great posts about all kinds of books when she's not watching tennis.  Did a recent hilarious post about why nursery rhymes are so gruesome using 'Three Blind Mice'.  Why did they have their tails cut off with a carving knife?  

Melody's Reading Corner - Melody is in Singapore and our tastes in mysteries run along the same lines.  She also writes about some very interesting Asian books and film and TV dramas.

MsBookish.com - Belle lives in Canada and has been extra busy lately.  However, she always has something interesting and new that she's trying.  And she loves audiobooks as much as I do.

BooksPlease - Margaret has been a blogging friend for many years.  She lives in the northern part of England and reads current mysteries, but also non-fiction and golden oldie crime novels.  She's almost completed the Agatha Christie Challenge.

read_warbler - Cath is another friend for many years.  She lives in England as well, but further south.  She's originally from Cornwall and has posted some gorgeous pictures of the seashore over the years.  And, yes, she reads mysteries, plus other types of books.  

Mysteries in Paradise - Kerrie lives in Australia and she has been writing about her experiences with crime fiction for many years.  She hosts the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge, among other things.  And she has a very good system of rating her reads - I always know that a 4.8, 4.9 or rare 5.0 will be fabulous.

#northern #crime #reviews - Christine lives in the UK, I'm pretty sure.  Most of the books she reviews are British crime novels and I love seeing what she's been reading.  I have gotten all kinds of new authors from her.   

Reactions to Reading - Bernadette also lives in Australia.  She writes some of the best thought out reviews and is very clear in what she experiences in her reading.  Plus she brings older books to my attention.  

The Darling Bookworm - Amanda lives in Canada and our reading tastes mesh very nicely.  I think we each get suggestions from the other.  She has a pretty lavender blog with a pretty picture showing her pretty kitty.  Don't let this fool you.  She reads serious crime novels.  Ha!

Book'd Out - Shellyrae is another Australian and she reads at a crazy level.  My word.  Her reading is across the spectrum and I'm not sure she sleeps - Ha!  You can always count on a good review - sometimes short and sometimes longer.  And lots of them.  

Tea Time with Marce - Marce is recently back to blogging after being away for a while.  She lives in Bermuda, I believe, and she definitely reads the sort of books that I do.  I'm glad to see her back and suspect we will be talking crime novels and psychological thrillers from here on out.  

The Eclectic Reader - Sheree is another Australian and she has the most precious granddaughter that she shares with all of us from time to time.  She reads, does scrapbooking, has a garden, plays with her puppy and her little granddaughter and still manages to blog.  A busy lady.  


Hope you get a chance to stop by these blogs and take a look.  They are all well done and worth your time.  Especially if you like mysteries.  The topic for tomorrow - staying connected.  See you then!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

BBAW - About Melwyk - The Indextrious Reader...

Hello everyone!  Welcome to Day 2 of the Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  Hope all had a good time yesterday looking around at new blogs and finding out what 5 books (or more) described each blogger.  Harry Potter probably won the contest, but so many books shared, lots of them new to me.  It was great!

Today is Interview Another Blogger Day - if you so choose.  I'm happy to have been paired with Melwyk of The Indextrious Reader.  She's a librarian from Southern Ontario, Canada and we discovered several things we have in common.  Really an amazing number of things.  We decided to answer the same questions, so you'll find my answers on her blog here.  And away we go.....

Melwyk says...

1.  I notice you’ve been blogging for a long time – how did you originally get into the blogging world and what was different about it then as opposed to now?

I started my blog in the Spring of 2006 – in fact, my 10 year blogging anniversary is coming up! Blogging was still relatively new then, and there weren't so many of us – I felt like I knew of most of the active bloggers at that time.  I agree with you that there was a lot of excitement over ARCs and free books, although I wasn't nearly as excited by that as many others were, being a librarian and surrounded by free books every day... :)

I found that there were ups and downs to blogging, kind of a cycle of blogging a lot, and then having long fallow periods.  I never intended to blog as a money-making venture, so started with no 'goals' or expectations for myself, and I've continued that way, only blogging when I want to.  I'm not fussed over my number of followers etc., I just keep blogging because I love books and like talking about them to other readers.

I also enjoy discovering things through other people who have different tastes than I do, and find some reading challenges are fun this way – although something else I've learned in 10 years of blogging is not to over commit to reading challenges, as then my reading starts to feel like a chore rather than just a joy.  I think newer bloggers are more active in challenges than long-time ones, but it is also harder to find a large community for a challenge now simply because there are so many more challenges and bloggers than there were previously when a specific reading challenge would take over all the blogs.

2.  We’ve both worked in libraries – what is your favorite part of being a librarian?

There are lots of satisfying elements to my job, including finding information for people that will make their lives easier, whether that's community information or technology help and so on.  But on a personal note, although it may seem stereotypical, I do love sharing reading best!  Not every librarian works directly with books or readers, but my path has given me that chance.  I'm very invested in Readers' Advisory, a library term that covers all of our services focused on connecting readers with books.  Whether that is book lists, blogging, displays, book clubs, or conversations and suggestions directly to readers, or even working with new technology to improve all these areas, it's my favourite part of the job.  I'm a part of our provincial association's committee on Readers' Advisory, and I love that I can help provide training and inspiration to librarians as well as our patrons.

It's also great seeing all the new books and the upcoming catalogues – it feeds my professional life and also my own book blog!

3.  What is the one book that you’d put into every patron’s hands if you could?  Or several books?

Oh my, this is a tough one.  I really focus on a patron's needs, and their likes and dislikes when I'm suggesting books – the number one rule of Readers' Advisory is “it's not about you!”  That said, if I was given the chance to push some of my own favourites, I think I'd pick a recent novel, Birdie by Tracey Lindberg, because it's wonderfully written and is also told from a really important perspective.

If I added any more titles, this answer would get far too long, so I'll stop there.

4.  I love reading books that have vivid settings, almost like another character.  What setting from a book would you visit if you could and tell us the book it’s connected with.

Do you ever have that feeling when you remember being somewhere, and when you're trying to recall where it was, you suddenly realize that it was a book?  No?  It happens to me all the time.  And it drives me crazy if I can't place it.

I do have a couple of go-to locations; one is from Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native – there's a scene when one of the characters is standing in a field with no-one around for miles, overlooking a pond.  It feels very quiet & calm, very sunny and still.  When I feel stressed, I think of that spot.

But for a place to actually go and visit, I always think that Avonlea or Redmond or Four Winds from the Anne of Green Gables series would be a lot of fun to hang out in.  All the people are interesting, and there is always some kind of picnic or social going on...

5.  What do you do when you’re not working or blogging?  Other hobbies or interests?

Working and reading/blogging does take up a fair amount of my time, but my other big passion is sewing.  I love sewing garments -- only for myself, though, I don't want to sew as a business for anyone else.  I am now learning embroidery as well. I find sewing quite mathematical and challenging, in a good way.  It is also a time-consuming hobby, though...I just wish I had more hours for it all!

6.  Lastly, and I think this should be part of every set of questions, what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?  Describe vividly.  LOL

Ha, good question!  I am going to sound very dull here, but my absolute favourite ice cream flavour is vanilla!  A nice, rich variety with just a hint of vanilla is perfect on its own but also makes a great base for any other toppings you want to add, and that's where my obsession with chocolate usually makes its appearance.  Hot fudge on vanilla ice cream is perfection.  Okay great, now I want some.


Melwyk, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on these questions!  I love the fact that you are learning embroidery.  How relaxing!  And I especially like your answer to the last question - I meant it when I said it should be part of every quiz.  Vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, yum, yum, yum!!  I had a good time with today's part of BBAW and hope you did too.  Everyone, go visit Melwyk's blog, The Indextrious Reader.  You know you're dying to know what flavor of ice cream that I love!

Tomorrow's topic is what books we've found and loved by reading other blogs.  Bet no one has anything to say about that!!!  Ha!  Ha!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Blogger Appreciation Week - About Me...

Good morning everyone and welcome to the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  This is an event I participated in years ago when I had another blog and I'm very glad that it's back.  Why is it back?  Well, the lovely ladies at The Estella Society decided to give it another whirl, with the blessing of the creator, Amy, of My Friend Amy.  Three cheers for all of them!

Each day this week, I'll be sharing a bit about a topic related to book blogging and some of the wonderful people I've met during my blogging years.  For example, tomorrow I have a great interview with Melwyk of The Indextrious Reader.  I'll also be sharing links to other blogs that I appreciate and love and cherish.  If I don't share a link to your blog, well, just know that I love all of you and am so happy to be back among you again.

Today's suggested topic is to introduce ourselves by telling about five books that represent us as a person or our interests/lifestyle.  I'm a bit of a rebel, so I'm going to tweak that a bit.  Here goes:

My Name:  Kay
My Place:  Central Texas
My Profession:  Former State Tax Auditor and Former Library Supervisor (Best Job Ever!!)
My Sort of Book:  Mostly Mysteries (with a few others occasionally)

Here are 5 types of mysteries that I enjoy with a favorite author/book/series as an example:

Golden Age Mystery

Police Procedural

Amateur Detective/PI

Psychological Thriller

Gothic Suspense

Just to prove that I don't always read mysteries - best non-fiction I've read in many years:

Lastly, my favorite author and series - of any sort of book.  So very talented!! 

I hope this give you a bit of glimpse into what I read and what I talk about on 'kay's reading life'.  And I hope you'll stop by from time to time to visit.  You are very welcome here!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young is the first book that I've finished this year that will fit as an entry to the Gothic Fiction Challenge.  It seemed to take me forever to read it, but it wasn't because of the story - I just got sidetracked with graphic novels.  First, let's have a couple of quotes:

'But Evangeline's heart was sustained by a vision that faintly
Floated before her eyes, and beckoned her on through the moonlight.
It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom.
Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her,
And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.'

                              ~~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
                                  Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie~~

The character Charlotte 'Charlie' Cates is speaking:

     '...It wasn't the book that brought me here.  It was Gabriel.'
     The bird lifts its head suddenly and gazes at me across the water.  I swear it's listening as I lay bare my secret.
     'I saw him,' I say.  'I saw Gabriel Deveau.'

The Gates of Evangeline begins with the quote above from Longfellow's famous epic poem about Evangeline, an Acadian girl (which morphed to Cajun) who searches for her lost love, Gabriel.  I won't go into the whole history of the Acadian people and how they went from Canada to Louisiana, but you can look it up if you are interested.  This book tells the story of Charlotte 'Charlie' Cates, a journalist and writer who comes to Louisiana to write a book about the cold case of a missing child, Gabriel Deveau.  After the death of her own son, Charlie begins to dream about children that need her help.  This leads her to accept a job offer far from home and indeed, Charlie needs a change.  It's either that or she might die of grief.  She doesn't understand these dreams and doesn't realize at first that these might be real children.

The Deveau family is a proud and famous one in their part of the world.  Their home is called Evangeline and it's located in the bayous and swamps of Louisiana.  Charlie finds herself in the midst of a family that is wealthy, entitled, and at odds on many issues.  There are secrets, yes, long-held secrets.  What did happen to little Gabriel Deveau?  Charlie is determined to find out.  Along the way, there are new friends, new enemies, a bit of romance, and more dreams.  And there's danger certainly, to Charlie and to others.

I enjoyed this book a lot.  I was able to figure out some things, but not others.  I liked the Louisiana setting and I had a lot of sympathy for Charlie.  She has lost her precious child and she wants to help other parents who find themselves in similar situations, if she can.  Cathy. from Kittling: Books, saw Hester Young at an author event last fall and wrote about it here.  It's a good write-up and gives a lot of insights into the author's process.  This is a debut novel and Ms. Young says it was sold as a trilogy.  So, we'll be seeing another two books with Charlie as a character.  She also said that part of the story is based on a dream that her grandmother had about her child and Hester Young dedicates the book to her grandmother and uncle.

I felt like The Gates of Evangeline contained all the best parts of gothic fiction - an old house, a family with secrets, a little romance, and danger to the main character.  I'm pleased with my first Gothic Challenge book, and I look forward to Hester Young's next book in the trilogy, which will be set in Tucson, Arizona.  From gothic Louisiana to gothic Arizona - ha!  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - Ink and Bone

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I really like the loosely connected mystery series that Lisa Unger writes, set in The Hollows, upstate New York.  In the last few months, I've listened to the first 3 books connected to The Hollows - Fragile; Darkness, My Old Friend; and In The Blood.  They are all very good in case you wondered.  An upcoming book will also be connected to The Hollows and feature a few familiar characters.  My pick for this week is:

Publication Date:  June 7th

For as long as she can remember, twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has been able to see into the future.  She dreams about events before they occur and sees beyond the physical world, unconsciously using her power to make supernatural things happen.

But Finley can’t control these powers—and there’s only one person who can help.  So Finley moves to The Hollows, a small town in upstate New York where her grandmother lives, a renowned seer who can finally teach Finley how to use her gift.

A gift that is proving to be both a blessing and a curse, as Finley lands in the middle of a dangerous investigation involving a young girl who has been missing for ten months and the police have all but given up hope.

With time running out there’s only so much Finley can do as The Hollows begins to reveal its true colors. As she digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, nothing is what it seems.  But one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Citizens Of London

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson.  The book is a little outside my usual reading scope, being non-fiction.  However, it is the March selection for my 'new' book group and so I'm keeping an open mind.  Plus, I'm going to listen to it on audio in a couple of weeks.  See what you think:

      On a chilly night in early 1947, a tall lanky American with tousled dark hair emerged from a theater in London's West End.  Other playgoers, pouring into the street from nearby theaters, stopped and stared.  They had seen the man's angular face and slightly stooped frame in wartime newsreels and newspaper photographs, and most knew immediately who he was.  As he and two companions headed down Shaftesbury Avenue, they were surrounded by a throng of people.  'Good evening Mr. Winant,' several in the crowd said.  A couple of men doffed their hats.  One woman reached out and shyly touched his coat.
     For those gathered around him, the sight of John Gilbert Winant conjured up memories of smoke-filled nights in early 1941 when Winant, the American ambassador to Britain, walked the streets of London during the heaviest raids of the Blitz, Germany's nine-month terror bombing of British cities.  He asked everyone he met--firemen, dazed victims, air wardens pulling bodies out of the rubble--what he could do to help.  In those perilous times, one Londoner remembered, Winant 'convinced us that he was a link between ourselves and millions of his countrymen, who, by reason of his inspiration, spoke to our very hearts.'
     Yet, while he was instantly recognizable in Britain, few American had ever heard of Winant...


The acclaimed author of Troublesome Young Men reveals the behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London: Edward R. Murrow, the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe; Averell Harriman, the hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London; and John Gilbert Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain.  Each man formed close ties with Winston Churchill—so much so that all became romantically involved with members of the prime minister’s family.  Drawing from a variety of primary sources, Lynne Olson skillfully depicts the dramatic personal journeys of these men who, determined to save Britain from Hitler, helped convince a cautious Franklin Roosevelt and reluctant American public to back the British at a critical time.  Deeply human, brilliantly researched, and beautifully written, Citizens of London is a new triumph from an author swiftly becoming one of the finest in her field.


I'm willing to give this one a try.  It sounds like a book that might do well for me as an audiobook and I was intrigued by the blurb.  We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 8, 2016

In which the mystery group learns about PTSD and K-9 companions in Suspect...

Last Wednesday evening was our regular night for mystery book group - always a fun time for me.  I love meeting with these people, mystery lovers each and every one.  We talk about what we've read for our group and then we talk about what else we've read and then we talk about what we've watched and sometimes, we even eat a bit  Or maybe more than a bit.  We eat only 4 times a year though.  Next time for potluck is March - yum!

Our book for this month was Suspect by Robert Crais, an author that I had not read before.  I chose this one because a couple of members in our group sang the praises of the book and author at prior meetings and, happily, the library had enough copies.  (Always a challenge.)  We were a few people short - illnesses are still around, but we had a good group to share thoughts.

Suspect tells the story of Scott, a LAPD officer who has PTSD after his partner is killed in the line of duty, and Maggie, a German Shepherd who lost her partner in Afghanistan.  She also has PTSD.  Both are damaged.  Both are missing their partners.  Both really need each other.  Scott, who was also shot at the same time his partner Stephanie was gunned down, has been offered a medical retirement from the police, but he declines.  He asks to be transferred to a K-9 unit.  Maggie, also injured in the bombing that killed her partner Pete, a Marine, is considered 'not suitable' for the police or really for a family to adopt.  However, this is their story, Scott's and Maggie's.  It's how they learn to trust each other and how they investigate what actually happened the night that Stephanie died.

First let me say that I am not really a dog person.  I don't dislike dogs, but I've also never been particularly interested in them.  I like cats.  That being disclosed, I thought this book was wonderful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery and also the poignant dance that brought Scott and Maggie together.  And I recommend this book highly.

Suspect was pretty much loved by our entire group.  Not by every single one, but most.  Several had read the book quite some time back, as it was published in 2013, and so had to either reread it or remind themselves of the other aspects besides Scott and Maggie's story.  A couple of members felt that there was too much going on, too many offshoots of the main crime, and one member felt the author was repetitious in his writing.  I had shared with the group that Crais began in Hollywood as a scriptwriter for such TV shows as Hill Street Blues (he won an Emmy), Cagney & Lacey, and Miami Vice.  This member said that made sense because that's kind of how she saw the book, as screenshots of a TV episode.

Several of our members are dog lovers deluxe.  One member said she was currently taking her dog to training as a possible 'therapy dog' and we asked several questions about that.  Robert Crais has spent a lot of time with the LAPD K-9 officers, watching them train vigorously.  He is very impressed with the dedication of both the human officers and the dog officers.  Another member reminded us that the dogs used by the military in war are really 'soldiers' and are considered such by other soldiers.

We agreed that we are glad we read this one and also talked about Crais' recent book, The Promise, which is a Elvis Cole/Joe Pike book (his regular series), but also includes Scott and Maggie.  Plus, Mr. Crais has vowed that there will be more Scott and Maggie books in the future.  And we are all pleased about that.

Next month, we'll be discussing Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes.

Friday, February 5, 2016

kay's favorites from the keeper shelf...Rosamunde Pilcher

Welcome to the 2nd 'kay's favorites'!  Today, I'm very happy to be talking about an author that I discovered in the late 1980's.  At least I'm pretty sure it was then.  This predates my book journals.  Who am talking about?  Rosamunde Pilcher - such a wonderful writer - a lovely lady who is now 91 years old.   She's the author of at least 4 of my 'favorites'.

Rosamunde Scott Pilcher was born on September 22, 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall.  She grew up in Cornwall and attended a secretarial college.  Ms. Pilcher served in the Women's Royal Navy Service during the years 1943-1946.  She married Graham Hope Pilcher in 1946 and they moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she still lives.  They had 4 children, 2 daughters and 2 sons.  Author Robin Pilcher is her eldest son.

Rosamunde's first book was published in 1949 under the pseudonym, Jane Fraser.  It was called Half-Way To The Moon.  Ten books were published under the Jane Fraser name, but in 1955, the first Rosamunde Pilcher book came out.  It was titled A Secret To Tell and Ms. Pilcher wrote another 17 books with her own name as author in upcoming years.  Probably the most famous of her novels is The Shell Seekers, written in 1987.  And that's where I come in...

The first Rosamunde Pilcher book that I devoured was indeed The Shell Seekers.  It was extremely popular and I can remember hearing a lot of talk about it at the library, which is where I got my books at that time.  All my books.  I was a young mother, working full time, with a 5-year-old and little time to read longer novels.  However, I just hadn't yet met Penelope Keeling and heard about the beautiful painting that her father had created - The Shell Seekers.  This is a family story that tells of Penelope's life, her parents, her children, and what will happen to her most prized possession, the painting.  Set in Cornwall, it was filmed for TV and Angela Lansbury played the part of Penelope.

Another book that I loved so much was Coming Home, written in 1995, and an even longer tale, something like 1,000 pages or so.  Just a wonderful story of a young girl named Judith Dunbar, who is left behind by her family at boarding school, again in Cornwall, during the years before WWII.  Her family is stationed in Singapore and Judith stays for school.  She meets another girl, Loveday Carey-Lewis, and becomes involved with Loveday's family, joining them at their home filled with aristocracy.  The war comes and Judith and Loveday are caught up in the events and the novel turns into quite a saga.  It was great!  This book was written in a time period (80's, 90's) when many long, long books were so popular and I loved stories that went on and on and on.  Coming Home was also made into a TV movie.

I have two more favorites that I won't say too much about, but both are very good.  September is a sort of sequel to The Shell Seekers.  One of the characters carries over, Penelope's son, Noel.  This book is set in Scotland in the fall.  And the last book written by Ms. Pilcher in 2000, Winter Solstice, is another favorite.  Also, set in Scotland in the winter this time, it tells a story from the viewpoints of 5 characters when their lives cross in a big old house in the fishing town of Creagan.  It may be chilly outside, but it's homey inside.

So, if you like family sagas or wonderful books with lovely Cornish or Scottish settings, if you like Maeve Binchy's books, you might try a tale by Rosamunde Pilcher.  She has many other shorter books that I have not sampled as yet.  Maybe one day.  Have you read any of these?


Join me in a few weeks for the next 'kay's favorites from the keeper shelf...' when I'll be sharing thoughts about Dana Stabenow and her Kate Shugak mysteries.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - Sorrow Road

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I recently reviewed the first book in Julia Keller's series that features Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, West Virginia, A Killing In The Hills.  I emailed Julia to tell her that I really enjoyed reading her first book and looked forward to experiencing more books in the series.  She responded very kindly and told me of her newest entry that would be published this summer.  It's the 5th book about Bell.  So, I guess I better get busy and read #2, #3, and #4.  I love the sound of this one.  My pick for the week:

Publication Date:  August 23rd

From the small towns of Appalachia they came, the young men who joined the fight for liberty in World War II.  Now they are elderly, and some of them―like Harmon Strayer, father of prosecutor Bell Elkins' former law school classmate―suffer from Alzheimer's.  When Harmon dies in an Alzheimer's care facility from what appear to be natural causes, Bell confronts a mystery that brims with questions about memory, grief and the lethal cost of burying the past.  During a winter of record snow and cold, Bell and the people of Acker's Gap, West Virginia, face isolation and hardship―and the threat from a killer who preys upon the old and the sick and the helpless.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - The Gap Year

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of The Gap Year by Sarah Bird.  The Gap Year was published in 2011 and I've actually read it before.  I discussed it with a book group here at the library and we enjoyed it very much.  I ran across my copy as I was sorting through my shelves and thought I might reread it.

Sarah is a local author and lives with her family here in Austin.  I've actually read several of her books and discussed another one with that book group, The Yokota Officer's Club.  She will have a new book published in April by the UT Press entitled A Love Letter To Texas Women.  However, back to The Gap Year - see what you think:

     I once believed that I was physiologically incapable of being unhappy while submerged in water.  Sunk in a bathtub up to my eyeballs, I was as free of earthly cares as a turtle sunning herself.  Yet here I am, wallowing through my tenth lap, feeling prickly and unsettled rather than weightless and dolphin-sleek.  Instead of soaring into silent galaxies, I am snarled up in annoyance that my right eye is stinging because these crappy goggles are leaking and that the ladies' aqua-cardio class in the shallow end is blaring 'It's Raining Men' and that the flip-turning jerk I'm sharing a lane with drowns me every time he powers past and that because I didn't expose my only child to enough dirt, Aubrey will hit the germ factory that is a college dorm with a weak immune system and that she will die of spinal meningitis.
     Although I am a slob and raised Aubrey with plenty of messiness, my worst enemy--Recent Studies--now tells me that I should have gone the extra step and provided actual squalor.  Recent Studies says that the absolute best thing for building antibodies is close contact with livestock.  If I'd only put a goat in the playpen with my baby she probably wouldn't have asthma today.


Cam has raised her daughter Aubrey alone ever since her ex left to join a cult.  But now the bond between mother and daughter seems to have disappeared.  While Cam is frantic to see Aubrey, a straight-A student, at the perfect college, on a path that Cam is sure will provide her daughter success and happiness, Aubrey suddenly shows no interest in her mother’s plans.  Even the promise of an exciting gap year saving baby seals or bringing clean water to remote villages hasn’t tempted her.  She prefers pursuing a life with her wrong-side-of-the-tracks football-hero boyfriend and her own secret hopes.

Both mourn the gap that has grown between them, but Cam and Aubrey seem locked in a fight without a winner.  Can they both learn how to hold onto dreams . . . and when to let go to grasp something better?


I know that I recently read a book that featured a mother dealing with a daughter of college-age, but this book is funny and not mysterious, while also dealing with tough issues.  Plus it has a lot of local color in it.  Local to me anyway.  I have a good time watching for Austin-isms and places.  Looking forward to a good 'ole reread!