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Monday, October 22, 2018

Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

First Paragraph(s):

They said I must die.  They said that I stole the breath from men, and now they must steal mine.  I imagine, then, that we are all candle flames, greasy-bright, fluttering in the darkness and the howl of the wind, and in the stillness of the room I hear footsteps, awful coming footsteps, coming to blow me out and send my life up away from me in a gray wreath of smoke.  I will vanish into the air and the night.  They will blow us all out, one by one, until it is only their own light by which they see themselves.  Where will I be then?
     Sometimes I think I see it again, the farm, burning in the dark.  Sometimes I can feel the ache of winter in my lungs, and I think I see the flames mirrored in the ocean, the water so strange, so flickered with light.  There was a moment during that night when I look back.  I looked back to watch the fire, and if I lick my skin I can still taste the salt.  The smoke.
     It wasn't always so cold.
     I hear footsteps.

My Thoughts:

Burial Rites was the book selected for our mystery group read in October.  Those are usually 'Gothic'-type reads, but though this book would fit in that category, it's a bit different.  And I'm actually writing my thoughts before the discussion so I'm not sure how it will go over with the group.  I know that I was highly impressed with it, Hannah Kent's debut novel.  The language and imagery are really beautiful and lyrical.  Haunting, even.  It is certainly not a typical historical mystery, but it fits well enough.  Set in the early 1800's in rural Iceland, this story tells of the last person to be executed in that country, Agnes Magnúsdóttir.  Hannah Kent did a lot of research on the time, the people, all of it. 

Agnes is placed with a farming family to await her death, and the family is given no choice about taking a convicted murderess into their home.  Naturally, they are reluctant, afraid, horrified.  A young priest is sent also to help Agnes come to grips with her fate.  As he and Agnes talk, the rest of the individuals gradually hear her story.  Sigh.  Did she kill her master?  If so, why?  If not, why was she convicted?  Time passes as all await the order for execution to arrive.  The reader gets to experience descriptions of life at this time and in this place.  It's brutal, for the most part.  Not always though.  There are good things as well.  I was very caught up in the story.  It doesn't move very fast, but as I said earlier, the language is gorgeous.  So, regardless of whether this fits for a mystery book group discussion, I'm so glad that I read it.  And it is definitely recommended.  Hannah Kent has a second book out, The Good People.  I want to try it and I'd love to know if others have enjoyed this book - please tell!

Blurb:

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Trust Me - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

First Paragraph(s):

Using one forefinger I write on the bathroom mirror, drawing through the steamy condensation left by the shower.  This morning's number is 442.
     Four hundred forty-two days since the car accident that destroyed my family.  The crash that took Dex and Sophie from me.  The numbers disintegrate as I write them.  They melt into watery tears, then disappear.
     I would give anything, anything.  I would do anything.  Longing--unbidden, unwanted--hits me hard as I look at my reflection.  We make those offers every day, filling in our own personal blanks.  If you make this happen, we promise, I'll give up drinking.  Or speeding.  Or whatever.  If only you'll give me what I want, I'll be a better daughter.  A more reliable husband.  A more devoted wife.
     Make my wish come true, and I'll do...anything.

My Thoughts:

Trust Me was one of the 'Guppy Book of the Month' selections that I received and I was so excited to have it.  I've read more than one positive review and was quite eager to check out this first standalone book by Hank Phillippi Ryan.  There are two mothers in Trust Me - one a journalist who is tasked to write about another mother - that one accused of killing her daughter.  Not a pleasant subject at all.  Plus, Mercer Hennessey, the journalist, is recovering emotionally from losing her own small daughter and husband in a tragic car accident.  Mercer is not in the best place in her head, but she needs to work and this is her task.  The book is divided into sections, the first of which is the trial of Ashlyn Bryant.  Mercer is caught up in viewing that trial - did Ashlyn do it or is she being framed?  It's a bit difficult to talk more about this tale without giving away too much, so that's all I'll say about the plot.

I was very interested in where this story would venture.  Most compelling and, honestly, a bit nutty at times.  Who do we believe?  Is Mercer reliable as she filters everything through her own grief?  At one point I was sure I knew.  And then I didn't.  I was very annoyed with the characters more than once.  Again, I thought I had things figured out.  I did not.  And so it went.  This way and that and then upside down.  So, was I happy at the end?  Yes and no.  Do I think that Hank Phllippi Ryan created a story that you'll want to try?  Yes, I do.  Do I consider this one a thriller?  Yes, if your definition is 'unputdownable'.  I'm happy to know that another standalone is in this author's future for next summer.  And now I have some time to catch up with her backlist.  This book is recommended - TRUST ME...ha!

Blurb:

An accused killer insists she's innocent of a heinous murder.
A grieving journalist surfaces from the wreckage of her shattered life.
Their unlikely alliance leads to a dangerous cat and mouse game that will leave you breathless.
Who can you trust when you can't trust yourself?

There are three sides to every story. Yours. Mine. And the truth.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

House of Echoes - Brendan Duffy

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

First Paragraph(s):

December 23, 1777

Dearest Kathy,
     It is over now, sister, but for how long?
     From our window I still see the Drop.  I see the fields and forest where we once played.  I can still see our brothers tumble in the grass and hear the elder tree whistle as the wind tears through its branches.  However, I know in my heart that it is all gone.  It is gone and it still not return in this life.
     I am cold, Kathy.  I see my breath and I cannot feel my feet, but I do not care.  Not even fear is left in my heart.  Fear has departed with hate and anger, and hope has been a stranger for longer still.  Now there is nothing left but me, and I cannot face my reflection.

My Thoughts:

I've had House of Echoes on my Kindle since 2015 - unread until now.  As I was looking for books that might work for fall reading and R.I.P. XIII, I ran across the audio that was available from my library.  I decided to try this debut novel which blends horror and mystery and thriller all into one.  The audio portion was narrated mostly by George Newbern with the help of Allyson Ryan.  I liked this story set in upstate New York.  It had hints of Stephen King and a few others as well.  I think it has mostly been compared to King's book The Shining, but it reminded me more in many ways of his made-for-TV mini-series, Storm of the Century.  There is a family that moves to the area where the husband's grandmother was born.  They need a fresh start and decide to purchase a large property and turn it into an exclusive inn.  Each member of the family has had some problems, but they are hopeful that the future will be brighter.  Maybe not...

I was really caught up in this story.  Brendan Duffy drew me in and I wasn't sure if Ben, the husband and father, was reliable or not.  Caroline, the wife, seemed more than a little stressed or maybe just in need of mental health therapy.  The young boy, Charlie, has been bullied at a previous school and so enjoys the freedom to roam the forest and discover new things.  However, he runs across some strange tracks and doesn't share everything with his parents.  Bub, the baby, is the only normal one.  He loves everyone.  The people of the small village of Swannhaven are sort of friendly and then the reader isn't sure what their real aim is for the Tierneys.  There is an odd history in the area going all the way back to the late 1700's.  I liked the letters interspersed throughout between two sisters and wasn't completely sure how they applied to the current situation, but it all came together in the last part of the book.  I liked House of Echoes and look forward to reading this author's newest book, The Storm King.  Have you read either of Brendan Duffy's books?  What did you think of them?

Blurb:

Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.

When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Hour of Death



I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I'm very excited about this week's book because I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Shadow of Death, so very much.  Plus, I also loved meeting and eating breakfast with the author, Jane Willan.  OK, I'll confess, I think the book actually was released last week, but since I was not posting, I'm still 'waiting' on:




Publication Date:  October 9th

As Yuletide settles upon Gwenafwy Abbey, the rural Welsh convent’s peace is shattered when Tiffany Reese, president of the Village Art Society, is found dead on the floor of the parish hall. Sister Agatha, whose interests lie more with reading and writing mystery stories than with making the abbey’s world-renowned organic gouda, is not shy about inserting herself into the case. With the not-entirely-eager assistance of Father Selwyn, she begins her investigation.

Sister Agatha has no shortage of suspects to check off her naughty-or-nice list, until finally, Tiffany’s half-brother, Kendrick Geddings, emerges as the prime suspect. There never was any love lost between Tiffany and Kendrick, and of late they had been locked in a vicious battle for control of the family estate. But if Sister Agatha thinks she has the case wrapped up, she’ll have to think again.

As the days of Advent tick by, Sister Agatha is determined to crack the case by Christmas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Guppy Book of the Month - Shattered at Sea - Cheryl Hollon

Guppy Book of the Month

Welcome to the next 'Guppy Book of the Month' post!  I'm very excited about highlighting the books that I'll be receiving as part of my special Live Auction win at Malice Domestic 30.  Each time I receive a book, I'll tell a bit about it and also a bit about the author.  No promises as to when I'll get it read and my thoughts shared, but if it looks great to you, check it out at your local library or bookstore.  Some of these books will be debuts and some will be from authors already established.



5th in the Webb's Glass Shop series

When Savannah signs on to perform glassblowing on a ship, part of the appeal is that she’ll get a chance to reconnect with her boyfriend Edward’s family. An added bonus is that Edward’s cousin, Ian, will be joining them on board. But when Ian disappears at the beginning of the cruise, the ship’s authorities initially consider it suicide.

Savannah tries to balance her growing suspicions with work on her shows, but her relationship with the other glass artists begins to crack. And she can’t let love color her judgment when Edward suddenly jumps to the top of the suspect list. His fate is in Savannah’s hands, and she’ll do everything she can—on land and sea—to clear his name . . .



Cheryl Hollon writes full-time after an engineering career designing and installing military flight simulators in England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Living her dream, she combines a love of writing with a passion for creating glass art in the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida.

I first met Cheryl at the Poisoned Pen Breakfast - Left Coast Crime 2016.  I was sitting at Mary Anna Evans' table and this very nice lady came and sat beside me.  She introduced herself and started telling me about her mystery series set in a glass shop.  At that time #2 had just been published.  As you can see above, Shatter At Sea is #5.  I read the first, Pane and Suffering, and enjoyed it very much.  Since that time, I have seen Cheryl at the two Malice Domestic conventions I have attended and she's brought gorgeous glass pieces to show as she signs books.

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My deepest thanks to Cheryl for sending me a copy of Shattered At Sea!  I really look forward to reading it and catching up with her Webb's Glass Shop series.  I think it would be wonderful to be so gifted in creative ways.  Best of luck in your writing and your glass art, Cheryl!   

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Lake of Dead Languages - Carol Goodman

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

First Paragraph(s):

I have been told to make the Latin curriculum relevant to the lives of my students.  I am finding, though, that my advanced girls at Heart Lake like Latin precisely because it has no relevance to their lives.  They like nothing better than a new, difficult declension to memorize.  They write the noun endings on their palms in blue ballpoint ink and chant the declensions, 'Puella, puellae, puellae, puellam, puella...' like novices counting their rosaries.
     When it comes time for a test they line up at the washroom to scrub down.  I lean against the cool tile wall watching them as the washbasins fill with pale blue foam and the archaic words run down the drains.  When they offer to show me the undersides of their wrists for traces of letters I am unsure if I should look.  If I look, am I showing that I don't trust them?  If I don't look, will they think I am naive?  When they put their upturned hands in mine--so light-boned and delicate--it is as if a fledgling has alighted in my lap.  I am afraid to move.
     In class I see only the tops of their hands--the black nail polish and silver skull rings.  One girl even has a tattoo on the top of her right hand--an intricate blue pattern that she tells me is a Celtic knot.  Now I look at the warm pink flesh--their fingertips are tender and whorled from immersion in water, the scent of soap rises like incense.  Three of the girls have scratched the inside of their wrists with pins or razors.  The lines are fainter than the lifelines that crease their palms.  I want to trace their scars with my fingertips and ask them why, but instead I squeeze their hands and tell them to go on into class.  'Bona fortuna,' I say.  'Good luck on the test.'

My Thoughts:

This is the third book I've read by Carol Goodman and I've liked them all.  She has a way of writing about girls and schools and upstate New York that I am drawn to.  Her books are good selections for R.I.P. XIII - definitely got the 'spooky' going on.  The Lake of Dead Languages is this author's debut novel and it's been out for over 15 years.  I listened to it, narrated by Vivienne Benesch, over several days and was really immersed in the story.  There are secrets and lies and friends and enemies.  There's a missing notebook from a long time ago.  There's Latin (which I know almost nothing about) and classic tales and myths.  There's a lake in winter and storms and ice skating and definite creepy elements.  Some of the twists in the story are more common these days, but I suspect that they were most unexpected when it was written.  The story is not terribly fast paced, but that worked fine for me.  I'm working my way through Goodman's backlist and I'm delighted that I read this one.  It's recommended!  Have you read any of this author's books?  Her newest, The Other Mother, came out earlier this year.  I've not had a chance to get to it, but I'll make time for it soon.

Blurb:

Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. Now she has returned to the placid, isolated shores of the lakeside school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories that will become a living nightmare.

Since freshmen year, Jane and her two roommates, Lucy Toller and Deirdre Hall, were inseparable–studying the classics, performing school girl rituals on the lake, and sneaking out after curfew to meet Lucy’s charismatic brother Matt. However, the last winter before graduation, everything changed. For in that sheltered, ice-encrusted wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of senseless suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden for more than two decades in the dark depths of Heart Lake.

Now pages from Jane’s missing journal, written during that tragic time, have reappeared, revealing shocking, long-buried secrets. And suddenly, young, troubled girls are beginning to die again . . . as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

And one more time...a short fall break...



One more short break for me.  I'm hoping to be back sometime in the next week or two.  Sharing the lovely fall colors from trees in New Mexico a couple of years ago.  We don't get those very much in our area.  Our fall is usually sudden and abrupt.  The leaves quickly turn brown and fall off.  Not very dramatic.

In any case, I'll return soon.  Hope your days are going well - all of you.  Take care and talk to you soon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I'd Rather Be Reading - Anne Bogel

I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

First Sentence:

Can you recommend a great book?

Blurb:

For so many people, reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time--it's a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can't imagine life without them.

I'd Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

My Thoughts:

Sometimes a book comes into your life at just the right time.  Sometimes people do the same.  I believe that this book was meant to be the one I picked up recently because it spoke to me - Kay, the reader - so very clearly.  It's a short little book, only 161 pages.  It contains a series of essays by Anne Bogel, she of the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and the podcast What Should I Read Next?  I've listened to her podcast a few times.  I've not read her blog.  Seriously, every essay here made me nod my head - yep, that's me - I totally agree - I've done that! - Me too!  There's nothing earth shattering or shocking in these pages.  There are several quotes that I'll share.  This would make a great little gift book for someone or a quick little read for yourself.  Watch for it at your local library.  I think any avid reader would relate to many of the things Anne shares.  I certainly did and it made me feel like I could again 'reinvent' my 'reading life'.  Here's a few quotes that spoke to me:


On confessing your literary sins:
     Reader, whatever secret you're keeping, it's time to spill it.  I'll take your confession, but the absolution is unnecessary.  These secrets aren't sins; they're just secrets.  No need to repent.  C.S. Lewis once wrote, "Friendship...is born at the moment when one man says to another, 'What!  You too?  I thought I was the only one.'"
     Reader, you're not the only one.  Keep confessing to your fellow readers; tell them what your reading life is really like.  They'll understand.  They may even say, "You too?"  And when they do, you've found a friend.  And the beginnings of a great book club.

On the readers I have been over the years:
     I've been many kinds of readers over the years, and I remember them fondly.  (Sometimes I think I can imagine the readers I might yet be.)  I'm the sum of all these bookish memories.  My head is so full of musings and insights and ideas from books that I'm not sure who I would be or how I would think if they were all taken away.

On coming of age as a reader:
     When faced with the task of establishing your own reading life, you did it, or maybe you're still in the middle of doing it.
     Like other kinds of growing up, this doesn't happen overnight.  The transition happens slowly, over time.  We make a reading life by reading, and we stumble as we figure it out, learning through trial and error not just what to read for ourselves, but how.  Establishing not just that we will be readers, but determining what kind of readers we will be.

On books triggering memories:
     ...as a devoted reader, I've noticed how the books themselves serve as portals to my past, conjuring similarly powerful memories.  There's something about glimpsing, and especially handling, a book from long ago that takes me right back to where I was when I first read it.  The book triggers memories of why I picked it up, how it made me feel, what was going on in my life at the time, transporting me so thoroughly that, for a moment, I feel like I'm there once again.

On re-reading books:
     When I find myself in a dreaded reading slump, nothing boosts me out of it faster than revisiting an old favorite.  Old books, like old friends, are good for the soul.  But they're not just comfort reads.  No, a good book is exciting to return to, because even though I've been there before, the landscape is always changing.  I notice something new each time I read a great book.

On being asked to relate your 'favorite' book:
     Aside from the sheer impossibility of choosing just one favorite book, her question was daunting for another reason: I felt I'd been asked to lay my soul on the table.  Reading is personal and never more so than when we're sharing why we connect with certain books.

On starting a reading journal (and I recommend doing this too!):
     Reader, if you'd rather live in your reading moment than document it, I totally get it.  I'd rather be reading too.  But learn from my bookish regret:  I don't care what system you use (and I use the word system loosely) as long as you use one.  Start today, because as soon as you begin, you're going to wish you'd begun sooner.  Record your books as a gift to your future self, a travelogue you'll be able to pull off the shelf years from now, to remember the journey.

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I know this was really long, but appreciate your time if you've made it this far.  May I just say that I am grateful to be sharing my reading life with all of you.  Here's to having plenty more years and books to share together!!


'kay's reading life' - journal created by Iliana of bookgirl's nightstand
 

Monday, October 1, 2018

'The Girls' Just Wanna Have Fun and a few musings about life and upcoming reading...


First of all, let me explain a little about the picture above.  All my things to wear for a 'walk for a good cause'.  My daughter and I, along with her mother-in-law and another friend, did this last year.  It was the first 5K event I had ever participated in.  Since that time, we've done several.  This year, my daughter decided to form a team and invite more people, among them more of her husband's family and her co-workers, other labor and delivery nurses.  We are 'THE GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN' team.  Some are wearing more '80's type clothing and hair - me, I'm just pretty much 'pink'.  By the time this post appears, we will have had all our 'fun'.  We raised quite a bit of money and were glad to do so!



I wasn't sure if there would be a good 'team' picture, but this one was great!  My daughter is in the middle hugging her niece.  I'm right behind her.  The three ladies on the left are my daughter's mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law.  The two ladies on the right are my daughter's work colleagues - other L&D nurses.  And the precious niece in front.



We walked up Congress Avenue in Austin to this destination - the Texas State Capitol building - then turned around and walked back.  So many people (and pups) and all doing the 'pink' thing.

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Now, something different.  Are you a worrier?  A 'what if' kind of person?  A perfectionist that tips over into 'too much of a good thing but now is just too much angst' person?  Let me be blunt - do you have anxiety?  I can answer 'absolutely' to each question I posed.  My tipping point on this issue is sometimes very broad and sometimes quite narrow.  Life throws stuff at us - sometimes good - sometimes bad - sometimes a mix.  If one is an anxious person, the reaction may be much the same - 'what if, what if, what if???'.

All this to say that I've been going through a bit of an anxious time lately.  Maybe more than a bit.  Nothing bad is going on.  In fact, good things are being planned and taking place.  However, my reaction some days is the same as if the events and plans are scary.  I've been like this all my life.  Mostly, I do all right.  Sometimes I don't do as well.  Interestingly enough, it usually shows up in my reading or lack of reading.  When my reading life is messed up, I am messed up.  For me, that means it's time to 'change it up'.  Change my reading, I mean - what I'm reading or how or sometimes even if reading happens.  It helps me cope with my anxious feelings.

A couple of observations - I am weary of psychological thrillers, unreliable narrators, and characters that I can't relate to or like at all.  I am weary of keeping up with the newest, the most shiny, the recent publishing trends.  I know that I can read whatever I want, but sometimes I'm like a kid in a candy store with the 'new, new, new'.  I am weary with reading faster and faster in order to get to 'all the books'.  This is all self-imposed behavior, but I think it's time to go in a different direction.

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I've been reading a couple of books lately that came across my path at 'just the right time'.  Tomorrow I'll talk about the first one - Anne Bogel's I'd Rather Be Reading.  I'm also making my way slowly through Max Lucado's Anxious For Nothing.  I've also enjoyed checking in on several blogging friends who read older books - mysteries and other things.  I'd like to do more of that.  I've talked with Robin at A Fondness For Reading recently about doing a 'Book Group Read' in honor of Robin's Mom (more about that later) and in her memory.  I joined the Classics Club earlier in the year and have not read very many books on my list.  I'd like to read more of those, especially in 2019.

I have the rest of October scheduled for the most part.  Starting Wednesday, I'll be on a break for a week or a little more.  After October, I have no idea what I might share or read.  I'll spend this month deciding and thinking further about that.  So, more musings to come.

I will still be around and will share about 'Bookish Nostalgia' and 'Guppy Book of the Month'.  I'll talk about any books I read on my 'Classics' list.  However, I might decide to reread a lot of books - perhaps a whole series.  I might only mention older books.  We'll see.  Mostly, I'll try to remember to 'Just Breathe'.  That was my aim for last year and this year as well.  I shared that in my first post of the year and I can see that it's time for a reminder.

Thanks for listening!  Thanks for coming by and visiting about books!  Thanks for being my friends and companions as we sort out not only our reading journeys, but our lives.  You are all most appreciated!



Friday, September 28, 2018

Bookish Nostalgia - September 2018



Welcome to Bookish Nostalgia for September 2018.  I've kept records of books I read for over 25 years and I enjoy looking back through my reading journals to see what I was reading 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.  Let's see what I remember about what I was reading in those years:



September 1998 - Dove in the Window by Earlene Fowler - I loved the 15-book mystery series that Earlene Fowler wrote from the years 1994-2011.  The Benni Harper books, set in San Celina, California, and all named for quilt patterns.  Dove in the Window is the 5th book.  I was fortunate enough to get to see Earlene at an author event a few years ago in Arizona.  And I was happy to tell her how much I had loved her books.  Wish she was still writing them. 



September 2003 - Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah - This author is one that has come to great acclaim in recent years with her books The Nightingale and The Great Alone.  I haven't read either of those, though they are on my massive TBR.  I read many of her books back 15+ years ago and Distant Shores is one that I enjoyed very much.  She has a way of telling about women and their lives that is very comforting. 




September 2008 - Counting On Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop - I'm finding that many of the books I read in 2008 are ones suggested to me by my co-workers at the library during that year.  I was working with several younger people who were getting their MLS degrees and they kept suggesting books for me to try.  Counting On Grace is by an author that you might know better as the author of The Castle in the Attic.  In 1910, Grace goes to work with her mother in the textile mill to be a 'doffer' for her mother's loom.  This job is best done by right-handed individuals and Grace is left-handed - there are mistakes.  The story tells of the early days of outrage about children working at such a young age.  It's a really, really good juvenile fiction tale.



September 2013 - The Stand by Stephen King - Last book I'll mention today is one of my favorite books ever, ever.  I first read The Stand when it was originally published in 1978.  I was in my senior year of college and I can still remember how it gripped me.  Good vs. evil - told in a very different way from what I had read before.  In 2013, I listened to it for the first time.  Again, I loved it.  I've been meaning to read it again at some point because I put it on my Classics list.  I though that 2018 would be the year, but I'll probably push it back to 2019.  Have you read The Stand?  Yes, it's long and it's very good.

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And so we end this month's Bookish Nostalgia.  Hope you'll join me again next month to see what October books I remember from my journals.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Guppy Book of the Month - Trust Me - Hank Phillippi Ryan

Guppy Book of the Month

Welcome to the next 'Guppy Book of the Month' post!  I'm very excited about highlighting the books that I'll be receiving as part of my special Live Auction win at Malice Domestic 30.  Each time I receive a book, I'll tell a bit about it and also a bit about the author.  No promises as to when I'll get it read and my thoughts shared, but if it looks great to you, check it out at your local library or bookstore.  Some of these books will be debuts and some will be from authors already established.




An accused killer insists she's innocent of a heinous murder.
A grieving journalist surfaces from the wreckage of her shattered life.
Their unlikely alliance leads to a dangerous cat and mouse game that will leave you breathless.

Who can you trust when you can't trust yourself? 

There are three sides to every story. Yours. Mine. And the truth.
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And here's a little bit more about the story...taken from this author's website (media kit for Trust Me):

Trust Me begins with an introduction to a grieving journalist, Mercer Hennessey, trying to find a way to overcome her pain, and maybe even surface from the wreckage of her shattered life. She warily accepts an assignment to write the true-crime account of a riveting trial—much like the media-crazy Casey Anthony case that kept the country mesmerized and glued to the trial reporting. Did a beautiful young mother really commit the ultimate heinous murder?

The defendant insists upon her innocence, and Mercer, despite her intentions, begins to get sucked into the defendant’s story, getting closer and closer to the accused killer. But as she, and we, are compelled to find out what really happened, we see how perceptions can be upended, and that nobody may be trustworthy—even ourselves.


Photo by Iden Ford


Hank Phillippi Ryan is an on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV, winning 34 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. The nationally bestselling author of 10 mysteries, Ryan's also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. 

On top of all else going on in this wonderful author's life, she is a gifted auctioneer at many mystery conventions.  In fact, Hank is the person who encouraged me to bid and bid and bid on the Guppy Book of the Month prize.  She just kept saying 'and a little more, a little more, a little...'.  Finally, the very nice woman who was bidding against me threw in the towel and I won!  I have been most delighted with my books and was thrilled to receive a very kind note in my copy of Trust Me.  It feels good to support a great cause and also get so many fun books!

My deepest thanks to Hank Phillippi Ryan, who has remained involved with the Guppies and encourages writers everywhere.  She really pays attention to questions and gives of herself and her expertise.  Best wishes on the success of Trust Me!  I am hearing such good things and reading wonderful reviews - TRUST ME...

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Oh, one more little tidbit I'll share or rather show.  Look at the book cover below and see if you can make out a hidden word when Trust Me is turned on it's side...do you see it?  Share below if you see something!



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - Into the Night



I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I'm waiting on this week is the second book by the author.  I read her debut novel, The Dark Lake, earlier this year and liked it for the most part.  I certainly liked it enough to check out this one, #2 in the Gemma Woodstock series.  This week, I'm waiting on:



Publication Date:  December 4th

With murders of the Melbourne's elite on the rise, Gemma Woodstock reveals a shocking secret at the center of a tight-knit group's rise to power.

Troubled and brilliant, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone after a recent move to Melbourne, broken-hearted by the decisions she's had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and the partner she has been assigned is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can't help feeling a connection with the victim and the lonely and isolated life he led despite being in the middle of a bustling city.

Then a movie star is killed in bizarre circumstances on the set of a major film shoot, and Gemma and her partner Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor's life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime and who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, and none of them can be trusted.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Let the Dead Rest - J. P. Choquette

Let the Dead Rest by J. P. Choquette

First Paragraph(s):

The doorbell pealed, a tumbling chime of notes that finished several long minutes before I opened the heavy old door.  A small box lay on the mat, covered in brown paper.  It was addressed to me in beautiful cursive.  There was no return address.  I looked up to wave at the delivery driver, to thank him for his trip up the treacherous drive, but his truck was already gone.
     Cold air tangled in my hair and twined around my ankles.  Shadows of the leaves overhead danced across the surface of the package.  The box was about twelve inches long and half as wide.  I turned it over in my hands, but there were no other markings on it.  I went back inside and closed the door before Sampson escaped.
     I carried the box to the kitchen counter.  The wide pine boards were warm under my bare feet and sunlight fell in slanted beams across the old room.  With scissors, I cut away the paper and then slit the tape that held the cardboard box closed.  The paper fell away.  Inside the box lay a note, in the same beautiful cursive, on top of a mound of packing peanuts.
     'To Isabel.'
     Odd.

My Thoughts:

J. P. Choquette's new book was perfect for my first read of this fall's R.I.P. XIII Challenge.  Just take a look at that cover with the 'creepy doll'!  Yes, I am rather fascinated with creepy dolls - all the way from Betty Ren Wright's The Dollhouse Murders (which I read to my daughter when she was in elementary school) to Hallie Ephron's You'll Never Know Dear (which I talked about last year here).  Also, what is it about the woods of New England, Vermont in particular?  There are always spooky houses and rustling leaves and winds that whip around.  There are secrets and hidden things and perhaps a little gravestone.  Have I piqued your interest yet?  Good - let me tell you more.

Told in two time periods, Let the Dead Rest, gives us Etta in the 1940's and Isabel in the present day.  Both live in the same area, though I'm not sure it's in the same house.  Etta has been waiting for her young man to return from WWII.  They have plans to be married and settle down to raise sweet children.  Isabel is a loner.  She took care of her parents until they died and her only brother lives across the country with his family.  He has been encouraging Isabel to get out more or perhaps sell their childhood home and move closer.  Isabel is an artist who creates dolls.  She has a studio in her home and she's recently been told that her work will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It's her life's dream and she's very busy trying to get ready for that show.  Into the lives of both of these women comes Gerda, a doll that might or might not be haunted in some way.  Certainly, things are about to change, not necessarily for the better.  And that's all I'll say about the plot. 

I've been talking a bit with J. P., the author, as she's commented on my blog here and others as well.  I was pleased when she did a guest post a few weeks ago about 'taphophilia', a very interesting topic it turned out.  Now I know what she ponders as she walks through her Vermont woods - all sorts of Gothic things.  Ha!  I liked the duality of this story and figured out a few things, but not all.  I also liked the info about creating dolls and decided that the research involved must have been really involved and also fascinating.  So, will I read more of her books?  Definitely.  This one get two thumbs up for spookiness!

Blurb:

Some secrets are better left buried…

In 1944, Etta Hayes is nineteen and over-the-moon in love with her recently returned soldier. She dreams of having babies, a little house and a white picket fence. But the doll her fiancé brought back from overseas casts an eerie shadow over their lives. As she digs into the doll’s past, Etta learns the horrible secrets it contains. Secrets she wished she’d never gone looking for.

When present-day artist, Isabel Joven, receives a mysterious vintage doll, she’s intrigued. But then sinister things begin to occur in her rambling farmhouse deep in rural Vermont. And Isabel begins to question every truth she’s ever believed.




Monday, September 24, 2018

Vacation Reading and Listening...short thoughts...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I read a bunch of books on our vacation to New Mexico.  I'm going to try to share a few short thoughts about them.  I won't do full reviews, but if you are interested, please go check them out at your local library.  Several of these were audiobooks or read/listen combos.  Here we go:


Black Rabbit Hall - Eve Chase

First sentence:  I feel safe on the cliff edge, safer than in the house, anyway.

I read this author's second book, The Wildling Sisters, earlier this year and liked it a lot.  I also liked Black Rabbit Hall very much.  It was quite the Gothic tale, told in two time periods.  Loved that.  Amber is in the past and Lorna is in the present.  This would have been a good choice for R.I.P.  Family secrets, an old house on the Cornwall coast, what's not to like?  Narrated by several, this one is recommended.


Girl Last Seen - Nina Laurin

First sentence:  The night is so bright it hurts her eyes.

Another debut novel, this one tells of two girls who went missing over thirteen years apart.  The main character, Lainey, escaped from her kidnapper.  Now another girl has been taken.  Lainey has been messed up ever since she was found.  Lots of self-destructive behavior, but certainly not unexpected.  The story definitely held my interest.  Narrated by Vanessa Johansson.  Another book by this author, What My Sister Knew, has recently been published.


The Fate of Mercy Alban - Wendy Webb

First sentence:  People were gathering at Alban House for the family's annual summer solstice party--a happy occasion.

Another book that would make a good R.I.P. choice, this story involves Grace Alban returning to her childhood home upon the death of her mother.  Her teenage daughter is with her and they find a lot of things that they didn't expect.  There are secrets, of course, and hidden passages and a family curse.  Yes, there's that Gothic element again.  I read another book by this author earlier this year, The End of Temperance Dare.  I fully intend to sample her other two books and then another will be published later this fall.  Yay!  Narrated by Kirsten Potter.


Three Days Missing - Kimberly Belle

First sentence:  My phone is already buzzing with work email as I rush Ethan through his morning routine.

I've read other books by this author and so I was prepared to like this one.  I did, with some reservations.  I will say that the end of the book, the last few sentences, were quite chilling to me.  Anyway, narrated by Vanessa Johansson and Sarah Naughton, it's about a couple of families and another missing/kidnapped child - a boy this time.  Kat Jenkins is woken by the police telling her that Ethan, her 9-year-old, has disappeared on a school camping trip.  Ethan is a highly intelligent child that suffers a bit (or more than bit) of bullying at his school.  We also get to know another mother, Stef, the wife of the mayor of Atlanta.  Her son was also on the trip.  I liked this, but got quite frustrated with both mothers.  However, I wanted to know how it ended.  Not my favorite of this author's books, but good enough.


Bonfire - Krysten Ritter

First sentence:  My last year of high school, when Kaycee Mitchell and her friends got sick, my father had a bunch of theories.

I'll be the first to admit that I tried this book because I've watched Krysten Ritter's portrayal of TV's Jessica Jones.  I was rather fascinated with the idea that she had written a thriller.  It was pretty good.  Narrated by Karissa Vacker, we read how Abby Williams comes back to her small Indiana hometown with a group of lawyers checking into reports that a local manufacturer is behind some water problems.  What we actually know is that Abby wants to find out about what happened after her childhood friend disappeared (or left) after high school.  I was absorbed in the story.  As I said - it wasn't bad.  I'll be curious to hear if Krysten Ritter pens another novel.


The Late Show - Michael Connelly

First sentence:  Ballard and Jenkins rolled up on the house on El Centro shortly before midnight.

This is the first book by Michael Connelly that I've read (or rather listened to).  Narrated by Katherine Moennig, it's also the first in a possible new series by Connelly - the Renee Ballard series.  And it was our Mystery Book Group read for September.  My husband and I both listened to this one as we drove to New Mexico.  I think we both liked it, though it did start out a little slow.  If you don't know Michael Connelly, he writes the Harry Bosch books, as well as the Mickey Haller series.  There will be a Ballard/Bosch novel called Dark Sacred Night coming out in late October.  I'm planning on reading that one.  I liked Renee Ballard.  She definitely goes her own way and doesn't always 'follow the rules'.  She has a great dog, Lola.  Recommended!


Twisted River - Siobhan Macdonald

First sentence:  She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car.

How's that for a first sentence?  This one was told from the viewpoint of four different characters and also narrated by four people.  I liked that.  It was a house swap story (and published in 2016, so not new).  One couple from Limerick, Ireland and one from New York.  Bad things definitely happen to both couples.  Lots and lots of secrets.  Stuff you didn't expect.  I thought I had this one figured out early on.  Trust me - I did not.  I don't think this author has written another book since, but I'll be watching if she does.

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Think that covers it.  As I said, if you think any of these sound good, try your library.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Day of the Dead - Nicci French

The Day of the Dead by Nicci French

First Paragraph(s):

It was a Monday morning, it was bright, it was warm, too warm for late autumn, and Charlotte Beck was about to experience the one really dramatic thing that would happen to her in her entire life.  She wasn't ready for it.  She didn't feel ready for anything.
     She was maneuvering a chaotic little group up Heath Street, as she did every weekday.  She was steering a buggy containing ten-month-old Lulu.  On her left side two-and-a-half-year-old Oscar was pushing himself on a little scooter.  Round her right wrist was one end of a dog lead and the other end was attached to a black Labrador puppy called Suki.  Everything looked like it was in fog, but it wasn't real fog.  It was the fog of tiredness that had hung stolidly over Charlotte's world for the previous six months.  Lulu didn't sleep at night.  She shouted and she screamed and nothing helped, nothing that Charlotte tried, nothing that the experts recommended.
     Instead Lulu slept during the day.  She was asleep now, contentedly under a blanket in her buggy, a pacifier lodged in her mouth.  Every so often, Charlotte leaned over to peer at her.  She looked peaceful and angelic.  It was difficult to believe that that smooth little face with its long eyelashes and pink cheeks could do so much damage to a grown woman.  Charlotte felt so tired that it hurt.  Her eyes were stinging with it, her skin felt stretched, her joints were aching.  She was only thirty-one.  It couldn't be arthritis, could it?  Could lack of sleep damage your bones?  It felt like it.

My Thoughts:

I was greatly anticipating and also sort of dreading this eighth book in the Frieda Klein series.  It's written by husband/wife team, Sean French and Nicci Gerard.  I have so enjoyed each and every one of the books that relate the journey of psychologist Freida and her varied group of friends and colleagues.  A story that also has included that most twisted and creepy character, Dean Reeve.  I put off reading it and then dived in and read it slowly, ever so slowly. 

I really enjoyed The Day of the Dead.  Frieda doesn't actually enter the tale for a while.  She has gone into hiding because she wants to protect her loved ones, friends, colleagues.  That most evil man, Dean Reeve, has a way of 'keeping Frieda from harm', but also ridding her of anyone he suspects she loves.  The story here begins with a very odd car accident - a car that is piloted by a man that seems to be dead.  And we go on from that point.

So, was I pleased?  Yes, I was.  Did Nicci French tie up all the ends?  Mostly.  Did we get to visit with all the characters that I wanted to check in with?  Yep.  Am I beyond eager to see what this writing duo has next for us as readers?  Can't wait.  Am I tempted to go back and reread all of the Frieda books?  Oh, yes.  May just do that over the winter.  This series is highly recommended.   

Blurb:

A decade ago, psychologist Frieda Klein was sucked into the orbit of Dean Reeve -- a killer able to impersonate almost anyone, a man who can disappear without a trace, a psychopath obsessed with Frieda herself.

In the years since, Frieda has worked with -- and sometimes against -- the London police in solving their most baffling cases. But now she's in hiding, driven to isolation by Reeve. When a series of murders announces his return, Frieda must emerge from the shadows to confront her nemesis. And it's a showdown she might not survive.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Guppy Book of the Month - Exacting Justice - T.G. Wolff

Guppy Book of the Month

Welcome to the next 'Guppy Book of the Month' post!  I'm very excited about highlighting the books that I'll be receiving as part of my special Live Auction win at Malice Domestic 30.  Each time I receive a book, I'll tell a bit about it and also a bit about the author.  No promises as to when I'll get it read and my thoughts shared, but if it looks great to you, check it out at your local library or bookstore.  Some of these books will be debuts and some will be from authors already established.



1st in the De La Cruz Case Files

In the war on drugs, a deadly new front has opened… 

An unknown killer is waging a war on drugs. The murders are horrendous but with a silver lining—now stop signs are the only objects lingering on corners in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Half the city calls for the police to end the killer’s reign. The other half cheers the killer on, denouncing the tactics but celebrating the progress police haven’t been able to achieve.

The gritty details of Cleveland’s drug underworld are nothing new to Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz. Two years earlier, Cruz worked undercover narcotics and was poised for a promotion that would have placed him in a coveted position within the drug organization. The deal went bad. Now he has a new face, a new job, and a new case.

The killer moves through the streets with impunity, identity still unknown. Demands for progress from his superiors, accumulated grief of the victim’s relatives, growing pressure from the public, and elevated stress from his family quietly pull Cruz apart. With no out, the detective moves all in, putting his own head on the line to bait a killer.


Image from Down & Out Books

T.G. Wolff is an author, but she's also a very busy civil engineer.  She writes in her spare time after spending her days trying to work at keeping our water clean and our communities safe.  She says that she knows she's not a cop or a lawyer, but she likes to give us a puzzle to solve.  She creates the crime, and then works backwards to give us the clues to solve it.  I love that because I know that I often read mysteries for the puzzle and I tend to analyze a lot as I go along.  I suspect I'll enjoy T.G.'s style of writing.  Exacting Justice is her first book, I believe.

T.G. wrote me a very kind note thanking me for being the winner of the 'Guppy' prize.  She also sent along a great carrier bag for 'all your great books'.  The bag includes a very cool logo of a 'wolf'.  Thanks so much for the book and bag, T.G.!  And best of luck in your writing!  Can't wait to 'solve the puzzle'!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Clockmaker's Daughter



I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I'm really excited about this week's book and it's an author that fits in very well with the R.I.P. Challenge.  Many of her books have a real Gothic feel.  I've read maybe 3 or 4 of them and would like to catch up on her backlist.  This week, I'm waiting on:




Publication Date:  October 9th

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.