Friday, April 15, 2016

Holy Cow...It's Already April!!

2016 is almost 1/3 gone, and this is my first post.  I have an excuse, however lame it may be.  I've been bitten by the Binge Bug.  It started off with this:


201 espisodes later, March was upon me, but it was SO worth it!  I'd seen an episode or two of The Office here and there over the years, but I highly recommend watching it from the beginning.  It is a brilliant show with a brilliant cast, and you will end up loving every single character no matter how crazy they may seem at first.  (i.e.: Dwight)

It was therefore quite serendipitous to find this at the bookstore:

 

The Basoon King by Rainn Wilson. Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight Schrute, is just as fascinating as his Office character. He has lead a most unusual life, and his stories make for a delightfully entertaining book.  His life as a struggling actor in New York made my toes curl, as my daughter is going down that same path.  I gave her the book to read anyway:)  Love you, Rainn/Dwight!

Before and after my next binge, (more on that later...), I did manage to read some great books.


Vintage by David Baker

A well-past-his-prime and writer's-blocked food critic stumbles upon the story of a lifetime.  Seeking self-worth and redemption while on the trail of a mythical WWII French vintage, he must solve the mystery before his rivals do, his funds run out, and/or his ex-wife finds out what he's up to. From Chicago to Burgundy, on to Germany and back, Vintage is a journey well taken. Sante!


The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O'Connor

Once upon a time, Vienna was a place of tolerance, where people of all faiths mixed together and supported a culture of art and beauty. Then the Nazis came. Not many were safe from their evil reach,  especially if you were a wealthy, art-loving Jewish family with Gustav Klimt masterpieces hanging on your walls. Sixty years later, a young Los Angeles attorney is determined to return the Klimt paintings to their rightful owners, taking the Austrian government all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This book has something for everyone: romance, art, bad guys and good guys. It could be a fabulous novel with a happy ending, except this is a true story, and no real ending can be perfectly happy. 



Time's Up by Janey Mack

If you like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, you will LOVE Janey Mack's Maisie McCrane. Maisie comes from a Chicago family of cops and attorneys, and she is determined to show them that the only/youngest girl of the family has what it takes to make it on the force. Until she washes out of the police academy. Determined to prove herself and make it onto the CPD one way or another, she joins the ranks of Chicago's meter maids, the most hated group in town. Despite her family's horror and her defense attorney mother's get-into-law-school-free card, she dons her official parking enforcement safety vest and stumbles right into a murder investigation. Meter Maid Mahem ensues! Full of crazies and creeps, not to mention her smokin' hot ex-Army Ranger boyfriend, Maisie's adventures have something for everyone.  Lucky for us more Maisie McCrane adventures can be found in...



Choked Up by Janey Mack

In which Maisie becomes the "girlfriend" of a Serbian
mobster and breaks up an international chop-shop ring, all while still a meter maid. Or IS she??
Read and see!




One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Before it was a movie, One Hundred and One Dalmatians was an actual book written by Dodie Smith. Somewhat surprisingly, the movie stays very true to the book, which is quite charming, and the 1956 story holds up well even today. This is only to be expected, as the relationship between dogs and their pets is a timeless one. Love you, Dodie Smith! (I Capture the Castle is one of my favs.)

Now, about that other binge I was on...



The Tudors

Because...Henry Cavill.

Also Starring:

Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Natalie Dormer
Sam Neill
Peter O'Toole
and
many
more.

Warning:  NOT for young'uns.

Until next time
TBC








Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas gift to you is...reviews!  Hope you enjoy the holidays and these books:)


The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

Everything McCall Smith writes fills me with sunshine.  The latest adventures of Precious Ramotswe will warm your soul on these cold winter nights.  Read with a cup of hot cocoa.


Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (i.e.: J. K. Rowling)

The complete opposite of the above-mentioned book, Career of Evil begs to be read with all the lights on and your security system armed.  I love this series, but the bad guys are seriously creepy.

 

X by Sue Grafton

You do realize that this means there are only two more books to go and this series will end?  I am already mourning.  Try not to think about it and enjoy X...it's exceptional!


A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson

The sequel to A Man of Some Repute, A Question of Inheritance continues the saga of Cold War agent Hugo Hawksworth in the English country village of Selchester.  Any mystery set in an English country village is all right by me.


Mr. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie flies to the United States with Churchill and soon becomes embroiled in the mystery of Eleanor Roosevelt's missing aide.  Dangerous forces are trying to ruin Christmas for the free world, but of course Maggie saves the day!


Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The first of four books for young adults that I'd never read before.  The true story of how the Danish people saved their Jewish population from the Nazis.  It made me proud to be part Danish:)
Winner of the Newbery Medal


Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert c. O'Brien

You'll never think of animals the same after reading this book, but more importantly, what are the animals thinking of us?!  A brilliant classic.
Winner of the Newbery Medal


The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Which of sixteen strangers will inherit Samuel W. Westing's vast fortune?  Read more to experience this inventive and incredibly engaging mystery.  Kids of all ages love The Westing Game.
Winner of the Newbery Medal


The View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

The Nasty next-door neighbor is dead, and Rob saw something from his perch in the cherry tree.  Unfortunately, the adults are too busy to listen.  Will Rob himself be in danger before he can get their attention? A creepy age-appropriate mystery by a three-time Edgar Award winner.


2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Clever, fun and heart-wrenching, 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas is a thoroughly inventive story of heart break and redemption.  Loved it!!


The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

One of my favorite authors and one of my favorite fictional characters.  This time, Inspector Gamache is confronted with a horrific murder and discovery near the quiet town of Three Pines.  Based on unbelievable true events, you'll love The Nature of the Beast.


Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

Something fun and frivolous for dessert, Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich is just the ticket.  Always laugh-out-loud funny, Stephanie Plum's adventures are the perfect way to end your your year, and this post.  

Happy 2016 to you all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I'm Drowning in Books

It's time to start bailing out the boat. (i.e.: clearing the desk of the humongous pile of books threatening to come crashing down upon me!)  I think I'll start with...




The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

What can I say about this amazing book that hasn't already been said? At its heart it is the story of a mother and son, but like an onion it has many layers. It won the Pulitzer Prize, deservedly so. You will lose sleep reading this book. It will be worth it.


The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Erika Swyler is a brilliant writer. She has created a magical tale of carnival mermaids and curses, mysterious books and horseshoe crabs, all scored by the sound of one family's secrets crashing onto the shore of Long Island Sound. This is her debut novel, and I am anxiously awaiting her next.  Write fast, Erika, write fast.


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, as it should be. Wow.  Just, wow.  Just read it.  Now.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

(I just realized I reviewed this in my last post...oh well.  I blame Half-zheimer's.)
And now for some comic relief!  Imagine Sheldon Cooper as an Australian and you have Don Tillman, genetics professor. Don has decided to get married, but first he must find a suitable partner.  Hence "The Wife Project" is conceived in the form of a sixteen-page questionnaire to filter out the chaff. Hilarity ensues. When finished with The Rosie Project, immediately begin...


The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simision

Spoiler alert! Don does find a wife, and they are having a baby. Panic is quickly followed by even more hilarity with a few sentimental tears thrown in. Don is adorable. We want more Don!!


Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Charlie Bucktin is a good boy. Jasper Jones is not. So when Jasper knocks on Charlie's window one hot Australian night and begs for his help, Charlie shouldn't agree, but he does and everything changes. Charlie and Jasper have a secret to keep and a mystery to solve, and they must now work together to find the truth before the small-town minds around them decide what the truth is. Loved this book, and wouldn't have known about it if not for meeting the author's girlfriend at a family wedding. Life is full of little chance meetings leading to great things!



Essays of E. B. White

Anyone who has read Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little knows what a wonderful writer E. B. White was, but did you know that he wrote for The New Yorker for over 50 years? Witty, entertaining and touching, White's essays are well worth a read. Who knew there was a genius behind that spider and mouse? Probably our parents.


Euphoria by Lily King

If you loved State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, by should read Euphoria. Loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is the story of three anthropologists in 1930's New Guinea. Tasked with recording the everyday lives of the natives, they must be careful to not lose themselves or their lives in the jungle. Yeah...good luck with that.


Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

Can we talk about how cute the titles of Quinn's books are? I love the puns. This eighth book in the Chet and Bernie series deals with stolen saguaro cacti, long ago kidnappings, and desert music festivals a la Burning Man. The bad guys are really bad, and they know how to make Chet and Bernie pay for meddling. But we know who comes out on top...or do we? I hope you're at that typewriter, Mr. Quinn!


Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke

This is the true story of Billy Williams who came to Burma in 1920 to work as a "forest man" for a British teak company. This was a solitary and sometimes brutal job, and few lasted more than a year. But Billy thrived in the jungle, and found he had a natural connection with the elephants who were essential to transporting the valuable teak out of the dense forests. When the Japanese invaded Burma at the start of WWII, Billy's invaluable knowledge of and connection with these great animals saved countless lives. This is a fascinating story of a little known chapter in history.


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I'm a sucker for a novel that meshes several storylines in different times successfully, and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins does this expertly. Set in present day and 1960's Hollywood, we follow the lives of a young starlet, a present day screen writer and a jaded producer, all tied to events on the Italian set of 1962's Cleopatra. This is storytelling at its best.


Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon

A classic British crime novel, Thirteen Guests has recently been republished. Although not as timeless as Agatha Christie, J. Jefferson Farjeon does has a creepy way about him. Let me know what you think.


A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

Sometimes you just have to buy a book for its cover, and I LOVE this cover. Luckily, the story lived up to expectations. Set in 1950's cold war England, wounded intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth is sent to the quiet hamlet of Selchester to work in "statistics" for the government.  Of course, everyone knows he's still doing intelligence work, and when the missing body of Lord Selchester is found under the flagstones of his castle a real investigation is at hand. It turns out the little village is not so peaceful and quiet after all. A Man of Some Repute is being followed by A Question of Inheritance.  I can't wait!


The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Being born in 1960 means that the race to the moon was a big part of my childhood. I remember watching early morning launches, and I know exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. So I was fascinated by this look at the wives of the astronauts. From the Mercury Seven to the end of the Apollo program, the astronauts and their wives were treated like superstars, and the job of the wives was to protect that image at all costs. This is really a commentary on how our culture changed from the end of the 1950's to the early 1970's, and it is riveting. I'm glad my husband is not an astronaut.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Some More from May

Yes, I know it's June.  Please forgive me for being a bad blogger.  Here's what I read last month:


Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

"A Modern Retelling" of Jane Austen's classic, Emma delivers as promised.  If you love Jane's version, you'll enjoy this one also.  At least I did!


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is a brilliant Australian genetics professor who has decided he should get married.  The  problem is he doesn't even have a girlfriend, so he embarks on "The Wife Project".  This requires potential candidates to fill out a 16 page survey to weed out the unacceptable.  Did I forget to mention Dr. Tillman has un-diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome?  What follows is heartfelt and hilarious, and I loved it.  Can't wait to find out what comes next in The Rosie Effect.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Historical fiction at its best, Wolf Hall will transport you to the world of Henry VIII as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, who rose from his abusive father's blacksmith shop to be the King's closest advisor. The story continues in...


Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

In which Thomas Cromwell comes to realize just how precarious life can be in the court of Henry VIII.  Both of these books were awarded the Man Booker Prize for fiction published in the UK, and they were adapted into an outstanding series on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre.  I recommend reading the books before watching the show.  (Mantel provides a "Cast of Characters" at the beginning of each of her books that I found myself constantly referring to, which made it easier to recognize who was who when watching.)  I command you to read and watch!  But I won't send you to the Tower if you disobey:)


The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn

Chet and Bernie are back with a vengeance in The Sound and the Furry. (Chet being a dog and Bernie a private investigator, in case you were not aware of the fact.) Full time partners, Chet and Bernie take on a missing persons case down in Louisiana and soon find themselves in a giant mess of gumbo.  Something funky is happening on the bayou, and it isn't just the scent of a giant croc named Iko. Between corrupt small-town sheriffs, ancient family feuds and the power of big oil, the good guys are going to have a hard time keeping their heads above water. Not to worry, they survive to soldier on in...


Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn

Putting the bayou in their rearview mirror was an easy decision for our two unlikely heros, but instead of heading home to Arizona Bernie decides to surprise his sometime girlfriend in Washington D.C.  Suzie Sanchez is a bright and determined journalist who is hoping for a blockbuster story from a top-secret source, until that same source turns up dead. The victim's proper British father hires Bernie to find out who killed his son, but nothing is as it seems in Washington, and no one is safe. Chet and Bernie have a ruff time in our nation's capitol, but the good guys never give up! 

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Baker's Dozen Minus One

Hello, It's me!  Here's what I've been reading...

                                                

Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

I LOVED The Gods of Gotham so I had to give Lyndsay Faye's next Timothy Wilde Novel a try. I was not disappointed. Love Timothy and Lyndsay. But before she wrote about New York City in the 1840's, she wrote:


Dust and Shadow, An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson and Lyndsay Faye 

Are you an honorary member of the Baker Street Irregulars, at least in your own imagination? Then read this retelling of the mystery of Jack the Ripper as investigated by Sherlock Holmes and his trusty partner-in-crime, Dr. John Watson. It's delightfully creepy.


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

It's about a girl on a train who sees something out the window. That's about all I can say without ruining this one. Warning: be sure to take care of important obligations before starting this book as you won't be able to stop reading once you start. This is a best seller that completely lives up to its hype! Move this to the top of your reading list.


Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers by Alexander McCall Smith

It's business as usual with the quirky characters of 44 Scotland Street. Catch up with all of their antics and celebrate when Bertie turns seven and gets a great gift. (Hint: it has to do with his awful mother!)


A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders

What could be better than a book about books? Nothing, I say, and that's exactly what A Murder of Magpies is about! Samantha Clair is an experienced London book editor dealing with testy colleagues and excitable authors, but nothing in her past prepares her for murder. I loved Samantha, her hard-to-live-up-to lawyer mother, and the highly attractive Scotland Yard inspector assigned to the case. I'm looking forward to installment number two, please. 


Grantchester, Sydney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

I first saw this on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery and was thrilled to see the book! Sydney Chambers is an unlikely vicar with his good looks and Cambridge education, and he always seems to find himself in the middle of a mystery.  His priestly duties expose him to situations where a policeman isn't welcome, making him a terrific amateur detective. (Sort of a handsome, Church of England Father Brown) If you've seen the show you'll notice that the stories are a little different, but it's still a great read.  (Yes, I know the photo is sideways, but I can't figure out how to change it on the blog:( )


A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs returns from India, stops off in Gibraltar, stumbles over a dead body, gets involved in the Spanish Civil War and finds meaning in her life.  I don't want to tell you more, just read it.  So glad Maisie is back!!


As You Wish by Cary Elwes

The Princess Bride is one of my family's favorite movies. We quote it all of the time, (Anybody want a peanut?), and watch it at least once a year. This is such a fun book for a fan, with loads of anecdotes, photos and back stories put together and written by the Dread Pirate Roberts himself. So retire to the Fire Swamp where you won't be disturbed, (except by the R.O.U.S.'s), and enjoy a great read. Oh, and have fun storming the castle!


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

Three classic children's books that I somehow missed. If you did also, read them now.  The Phantom Tollbooth is one of the most clever books ever written, definitely not just for kids. Caddie Woodlawn is Laura Ingalls Wilder on steroids and also the Newbery Medal winner from 1935. Anyone who loves the Indian in the Cupboard will adore The Castle in the Attic. Get them all for you and/or your kids.


A Study in Sherlock edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger

A Study in Sherlock is a collection of stories written by contemporary authors inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon.  Are you a Sherlockian?  If so, buy it, read it, love it.

That's all for now...TBC