Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

First Paragraph:

Lying next to the left-hand row of desks is Dennis; as usual he's wearing a graphic T, ill-fitting jeans, and untied tennis shoes.  Dennis is from Uganda.  He says he's seventeen, but he looks like a fat twenty-five-year-old.  He's a student in the trade school, and he lives in Sollentuna in a home for people like him.  Samir has ended up next to him, on his side.  Samir and I are in the same class because Samir managed to be accepted to our school's special program in international economics and social sciences.


Named the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers Academy

A mass shooting has taken place at a prep school in Stockholm’s wealthiest suburb. Eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg is charged for her involvement in the massacre that left her boyfriend and her best friend dead. She has spent nine months in jail awaiting trial. Now the time has come for her to enter the courtroom. How did Maja—popular, privileged, and a top student—become a cold-blooded killer in the eyes of the public? What did Maja do? Or is it what she failed to do that brought her here?

My Thoughts:

I listened to QUICKSAND on audio and Saskia Marleveid did a good job as the narrator. Translated form Swedish, this book won the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year.  I liked the last third more than the first part. Maja Norberg is on trial, accused of facilitating and inciting her boyfriend in a mass shooting. She is also accused of murdering her best friend and the boyfriend (who killed the other people) in the same school shooting. The story revolves between the courtroom and the past leading up to the shooting itself. The details of Maja's life and her friends were a little overlong, in my opinion. However, there were relevant emotional traumas to explain and also the reader is uncertain for quite some time regarding Maja's innocence or guilt. A tough subject, but a book that I ultimately liked more than I thought I would. I'll watch for other books by this author.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - Overview, Malice Go Round, and New Authors Breakfast...

Welcome to my first post about attending Malice Domestic, a fan convention that has been going for 29 years!  This convention, attended by fans, authors, dealers, agents, publishers, and anyone who loves 'traditional' mysteries, is always held in the Washington DC area.  At each convention, the Agatha Awards are presented, panels and interviews are held, there's a book room, a silent auction and a live auction (benefiting a charity) - so many things!  Hope you'll enjoy hearing about my adventures.

I was lucky enough to attend Left Coast Crime (another mystery convention) in Phoenix last year.  This year, I was privileged to go to Malice.  And I have lots to tell.  There were some similarities between the conventions - auctions, book rooms, panels, new author breakfast, awards banquet and also an event that allowed authors to 'speed date' attendees.  Pictures will be below my narrative.  Here's the registration area:

Registration Area with Martin Edwards and Shawn Reilly Simmons on left

The opening ceremonies were held late the first afternoon.  Here's a picture of Verena Rose, Malice Board of Directors Chairperson, in the best costume, taken right before the Opening Ceremonies!

Verena Rose, Malice Board Chair

Here's a shot of the Opening Ceremonies with Marcia Talley, the Toastmaster, welcoming everyone.

Marcia Talley, Toastmaster

The author speed dating was called 'Malice Go Round'.  It was held on the first morning and 42 authors rotated among tables to tell fans about their books.  I was better prepared at this event than at Left Coast Crime.  I had a pad and took down names and notes.  Of course, the authors gave us all kinds of 'swag' - bookmarks, postcards, candy, etc.  I'll only share two pictures.  This picture is of Alice Loweecey, an ex-nun who writes a series about an 'ex-nun who is a private eye'.  I got a chance to visit with Alice several times over the convention.  She always wore a 'hat' and was a lot of fun.  Judy Penz Sheluk was my only table companion for a bit and she appeared on a panel that I'll talk about tomorrow.  We also visited several times.

Alice Loweecey, who always wore a hat.  Judy Penz Sheluk to the right.

The last two authors that gave their pitch at our table were Gigi Pandian, who I met at Left Coast Crime, and who writes a treasure hunting series and also the Accidental Alchemist series, and Josh Pachter writes mostly short stories featuring Mahboob Chaudri, but has also done some other things as well.  I look forward to trying both authors' work.

Gigi Pandian and Josh Pachter

I'll also share a couple of pictures from the New Authors Breakfast.  At this event, attendees sit at a table 'hosted' by one of the new authors and then, as you eat pastries and sip coffee, these New Authors, 17 in all, are interviewed for a few minutes.  Here's a shot of my table, hosted by Radha Vatsal.  You can see her on the left side of the picture.  The gentleman is Art Taylor, who won the Agatha for 'Best Short Story' the evening before.  

New Authors' Breakfast - Art Taylor, Agatha Winner 2017

Here's a picture of Radha Vatsal being interviewed.  She was delightful to visit with.  Her historical mystery series is set in the early 20th century with Kitty Weeks, intrepid reporter, as a protagonist.  The first book is A Front Page Affair and the second has just come out, Murder Between the Lines.

Radha Vatsal being interviewed at New Authors' Breakfast

I'll stop here for today.  Come back Wednesday to hear about the Panels I attended - 7 of them - and how I offered to be a volunteer and maybe bit off more than I realized!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Mulburn Inn - a lovely B&B...

I also wanted to share with everyone a bit about the beautiful 'Bed & Breakfast' where we stayed for one night - The Mulburn Inn.  This lovely home was built in 1908 as a 'summer cottage' for a family that was connected with the Woolworth's.  We stayed in the Jefferson Room and it was large and very comfortable.  It's said that Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe stayed in this room.  Other well-known people who visited the Inn are Cary Grant and Barbara Hutton, the Rockefeller's, and Thomas Edison.

As we arrived, Mary, the current owner and innkeeper, took us on a tour of the house, telling us all about the history.  We found it quite interesting.  The next morning, she served us a most delicious breakfast and we chatted more with her.  There are 7 rooms in this B&B and each one of them is unique.  I've included some pictures below:

The Mulburn Inn

Porches wrap completely around the Inn

The main living room

Perfect little nook for reading

'Family room' with TV

Dining Room

Thomas Edison gave the Inn this early model of an electric stove

The Jefferson Room

Famous guests of the Inn and Jefferson Room

Beautiful stained glass window on the stair landing

If you ever get a chance to visit The Mulburn Inn, we can highly recommend it!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Marvelous Boston Public Library...

I know that not everyone considers a visit to a library as part of the highlights of their vacation, but I do.  If I can visit a local library, I always make time to do so.  I enjoy seeing how other parts of the country present their collections to their patrons, and I also like to stop and chat with the library staff when I can.  As I was looking at a Boston map to see what was near the hotel where my husband and I were staying, lo and behold, the Central Branch of the Boston Public Library.  Yahoo!

I spent most of a morning walking around that library and taking pictures of some of the beautiful sculptures, murals, and other architectural features that caught my eye.  There are two buildings, one filled with art and murals, the other much more modern (built in the 1970's and recently updated, according to the librarians I spoke with).  See what you think.  The library offers art and architecture tours frequently, but I just wandered around at will.

The first pictures are of the older section of the library, ending with a shot of the courtyard between the two buildings.

The following pictures are of the 'new' side of the BPL.  The second picture is a sculpture on the wall as you enter from the old building to the new.  It's made out of books!  I also was quite fond of the staircase with 'the plot thickens' on the stairs!

Yes, I think I could definitely spend a day or a week in this great library!  There's also several coffee shops and all kinds of other amenities for library patrons or passing visitors.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Boston Public Garden and a few other fun spots...

I had a very nice time in Boston recently.  My husband was at a work conference and I spent a lot of two days walking all over Back Bay.  Yesterday, I featured a few pictures of the Boston Public Garden.  Today, I want to share a few more of that location and also a couple of other spots that took my fancy.  I learned that the Boston Public Garden was established in 1837 and was the first public botanical garden in the US.  It was so lovely!  I enjoyed the flowers and blooming trees.  We don't have too many tulips and daffodils this far south and I loved their colors.  The pond, the swan boats, the winding trails - so, so pretty.  Hope you enjoy them too.

I'll also add a couple of other locations I found on my long, long walk.  I didn't go in to the Harry Potter Store, but I should have.  I did visit the Trident Booksellers and Cafe - a very nice little independent with a coffee shop included. 

I took a bunch more pictures of the beautiful churches that were on practically every corner.  I know that I only scratched the surface of what was available in Boston, but I thoroughly enjoyed walking and exploring the streets that I did.  Perhaps another trip is in order at some point.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Make Way For Ducklings

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:  Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941, it has since become a favorite of millions.  I remember reading this book when I was a little girl and I read it my daughter as well.  I loved getting to visit Boston recently and seeing the Boston Public Garden.  See what you think:

     Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live.  But every time Mr. Mallard saw what looked like a nice place, Mrs. Mallard said it was no good.  There were sure to be foxes in the woods or turtles in the water, and she was not going to raise a family where there might be foxes or turtles.  So they flew on and on.
     When they got to Boston, they felt too tired to fly any further.  There was a nice pond in the Public Garden, with a little island on it.  'The very place to spend the night,' quacked Mr. Mallard.  So down they flapped.


Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live.  The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston.  But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arrive safely at their new home.


Here's a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Boston Public Gardens - Pond and Swan Boats

Make Way For Ducklings Sculpture

Robert McCloskey Tribute