Monday, December 16, 2013

A Christmas Rhyme

'Twas nine days until Christmas
and all over my desk
are books to review,
It's really a mess.

"Just do it!", I tell myself,
and sit my butt down, 
but distractions surround me. 
(They are easily found!)

And what do I do
about this Kindle pad-thing?
I took it to Europe; 
it was quite a handy machine.

There must be a way 
to find photos of books
I bought on my Kindle.
I'll have to take a look.

Now I'm back to reading
old-fashioned paper and ink.
I love turning real pages.
What do you think?

So, I haven't abandoned you,
my reader dear.
Merry Christmas to all!
I'll see you in the New Year!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


All those years ago when Sue Grafton started her incomparable mystery series with A is for Alibi, it seemed that I would happily be reading her books indefinitely. The fault with that logic is that the alphabet has only 26 letters, and now that she's published W is for Wasted, THERE ARE ONLY THREE LETTERS LEFT!!!! On the other hand, Woo Hoo!  She still has three books to write!

When a homeless man is found dead on the Santa Teresa beach, the coroner is surprised to find Kinsey Millhone's name and number in his pocket.  She is asked to come in to I.D. the corpse but has no idea who he is.  Never one to leave a mystery unsolved, Kinsey soon finds herself kicking up a hornet's nest of unhappy relatives, shady private eyes and sweaty-palmed drug researchers.  But it is the homeless population of Santa Teresa who add the real depth and color to this story, and Sue Grafton gives them a voice and her respect.

Sue Grafton is a master craftsman of the mystery trade, and she proves it once again with W is for Wasted. This is definitely one of her best.  TBC

The Engagements

Things I did NOT know before I read The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan:

~From 1888 to 2000 De Beers held an effective monopoly in virtually every aspect of the diamond business.

~Up until 1938 the diamond engagement ring was NOT wanted or expected by most brides.  Here in the US only well-off brides-to-be were given diamonds; in Europe it just wasn't the thing to do.

~In 1938 the owners of De Beers hired N. W. Ayer and Son, the then-oldest advertising agency in the US, to help them come up with a plan to promote diamonds in the States, equating them with romantic love. They were very successful. (Understatement)

~The slogan, "A Diamond is Forever", was written in 1947 by Frances Gerety, a young copywriter at Ayer's.  In 2000 it was named the Best Advertising Slogan of the 20th Century by Advertising Age magazine. It is still in use today.

Through four very different stories of love and betrayal, J. Courtney Sullivan has created an intimate tale of diamonds and their very human owners, interweaving the history of the diamond business, advertising and De Beers with brillance and clarity. (See what I did there?!) So, ask yourself: Why do I think diamonds=love? Answer: Because N. W. Ayer & Son told me so. And I can't say I'm sorry they did!  Read The Engagements.  You will LOVE it, and you won't even have to give it a diamond.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

How the Light Gets In

I have many favorite authors. (Yes, for the sake of fairness, they are ALL my favorites.) One of these is Louise Penny, and I was SO EXCITED to read her new book, How the Light Gets In. Set aside a day and start reading. Now.

Inspector Gamache is in a bad place. His team is being dismantled, his reputation is taking a beating, and except for his German Shepherd, Henri, he has very few colleagues that he knows are loyal to him. But this is not just a matter of personality conflicts and bureaucratic maneuverings in the Quebec Surete. Something truly rotten has infected this elite force. Gamache knows part of the story, but he will need all of his considerable wits about him to write the happy ending he and his fellow Canadians deserve. Meanwhile, the tiny village of Three Pines has another mystery to be solved, but in the end his dear friends come together for Gamache just when he needs it most.

Set in the cold and beautiful Canadian Christmas season, How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny is a gift to her readers.  It is also an edge-of-your-seat page turner.  Start turning those pages people!

Au revoir...TBC

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Secret Keeper

Kate Morton's latest, The Secret Keeper, is out in paperback. I bought it. I read it. It's awesome.

The time: summer 1961. The place: an idyllic farmhouse in the English countryside. The problem: sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses her mother kill a man, apparently in self-defense. But, Paul Harvey, what is the REST of the story? This is what Laurel attempts to discover 50 years later as her mother lays dying in a London hospital. What follows is a journey through the years and memories long buried, jumping effortlessly from pre-war England and Australia to the Blitz and present-day London.  Laurel has very few clues and little time until her mother's secrets are buried with her, but she is determined to solve the mystery before it's too late.

It's no secret that Kate Morton is a terrific writer, unless you have not read any of her books. Well, what are you waiting for? Get started!!  TBC

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I've just finished the most magical book. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman perfectly captures the essence of childhood, with all of its memories and imaginings, dreams and nightmares, wonders and frustrations. It is a story like none other, and I can't possibly review it properly without ruining it for you, so I'll just reveal the following:

*To attend a funeral, a grown man returns to the place of his childhood.

*While sitting by his neighbor's pond a door to long-forgotten childhood memories opens.

*What he remembers is unbelievable, at least to a grown man.

I finished this book in a couple of hours, so plan your escape into The Ocean at the End of the Lane carefully.  No interruptions should be tolerated.


Thursday, August 29, 2013


WARNING:  If you choose to read this book, you will call in sick to work, laundry will pile up, children, husbands and pets will be forced to fend for themselves, houseplants will die...well, not really.  You'll be done with this book WAY before any real damage is done to home or career. You just might be a little sleep deprived, because once you start Divergent by Veronica Roth, you will not be able to stop.

The setting is post-apacalyptic Chicago. In order to ensure a balanced society, the people who are left have been organized into Factions according to their strengths. The Erudite seek knowledge, the Candor value truth, the Amity are peaceful, the Abnegation seek to be selfless and the Dauntless try always to be brave. It has been decided that a person can only belong to one faction, so at 16 the children are tested and must choose whether to stay in a faction that doesn't fit them, or leave their families forever to join another. For once you leave your faction you can never go back; you become factionless. But what happens if you have an aptitude for more than one faction?  What if you could fit in two or three? This is exactly what happens to Beatrice "Tris" Prior. She learns that she is considered Divergent, a skill feared by the powers that be. She must keep her test results a secret, or die. But WHY?? That is what Tris and you, dear reader, must discover.

I read a review that claimed this will be the next Hunger Games, and I completely agree.  Divergent is the first book of a trilogy, the second being Insurgent, which was also riveting! Allegiant, book #3, is available October 22nd, so read them fast before the movie comes out. Seriously, go read. Now.


Monday, August 12, 2013

A Literary Mash-Up

If you've been LOOKING FOR ME, I am under SIEGE from a MONSTROUS surplus of books I've read but not written a LETTER about.  I am living under the SHADOWS of my shirked responsibilities, so to feel carefree and YOUNG again I will say FAREWELL to my procrastination and begin with...

I ADORE D. E. Stevenson. She wrote endearing books with fascinating characters, and I think she would have been a kick to party with. But that's just a feeling I get. The Young Clementina tells the reader a story of love, betrayal and redemption in WWI England and beyond. The ending is rather abrupt, but I still loved it. Go forth and read her books.

Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth.  I am a Call the Midwife groupie. I'm not sure why I find this subject and time period so interesting, but it probably has to do with the fact that I didn't have to experience it. So, after reading the first book in the series, I immediately ran out to buy the other two. They do not disappoint. And workhouses really sucked.

Call the Midwife, Farewell to the East End. I can hear you wailing, "Say it isn't so!!!" (Or maybe that's me.) Yes, this is the final book in the series. The PBS show has stayed pretty true to Jennifer Worth's memoirs, but I will have no problem if they expand into original material in the future. As long as they stay true to the originals. We want more Chummy and Sr. Monica Joan!!!

Mary Russell is back in Laurie R. King's A Montrous Regiment of Women. She has graduated from Oxford and is about to come into her inheritance, but the biggest development in this story is her relationship with Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Will she become more than his apprentice?? First she has to navigate the halls of the New Temple of God and discover if its charismatic and powerful leader is somehow involved in the suspicious deaths of several young heiresses. Can you spell CULT?

Which brings me to A Letter of Mary. This time Mary and Holmes are trying to deduce who killed an amateur archeologist soon after leaving an ancient scroll and mysterious box with said detectives for safekeeping. You'll never believe who wrote the letter on the scroll, so I won't tell you.  ha ha.  Anyway, I love King's books.  Read them please.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo continues the story of Alina and Mal and their fight against the Darkling and all the other creepy dudes threatening Ravka. Things aren't looking great for them at the end, but I'm sure it will all work out in the third book which had better be published sooner than later so I can find out how everything is resolved. I like happy endings.

Beth Hoffman rocks! She writes the most heartfelt books with such interesting and original characters. Looking for Me is about appreciating the beauty of life around you, whether it be furniture, people or Mother Nature, and to do it before it's too late. And you never know where a random act of kindness might lead you. Also, never give up hope. There's a lot going on in this book. Start reading!!

Phew. Back to reading, and it's a page turner! Be back soon...TBC

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

I am a Sherlock Holmes groupie. I'm hankering for the return of CBS's Elementary and BBC's Sherlock, and I've read everything that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to offer, but lucky for me the world of books is filled with stories of Sherlock and his crime solving capers.  So, to paraphrase the great detective, "Come, reader, come!  The game is afoot!"

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King takes up the story of a retired Sherlock Holmes living quietly with his bees in the country.  When a teen-aged neighbor girl literally stumbles upon him as he's studying his pollen-laden friends, he is intrigued by her obvious intelligence and eccentricity.  (She was dressed as a boy, after all.)  Against all the social norms of 1915 England, he takes young Mary Russell under his wing and proceeds to teach her everything he can about his unique methods of detection. She is a quick study, and is soon off to Oxford University.  But Sherlock has many enemies with long memories, and both he and Mary find themselves in mortal peril.  Can they solve the puzzle and uncover their devious adversary, or will said foe succeed in putting Sherlock Holmes in permanent retirement?

The Beekeeper's Apprentice was published in 1994.  Laurie R. King is my new best friend, because 11 more Mary Russell books follow the first!!!  I love it when I find a great series.

And now for a little bit of "Holmes Humor":

“Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. "Watson" he says, "look up in the sky and tell me what you see."

"I see millions of stars, Holmes," says Watson.

"And what do you conclude from that, Watson?"

Watson thinks for a moment. "Well," he says, "astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meterologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I see that God is all-powerful, and we are small and insignficant. Uh, what does it tell you, Holmes?"

"Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!” 
― Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Distant Hours

A deteriorating castle protecting one family's secrets.  Elderly spinster twins and their demented little sister.  A letter lost for 50 years finally delivered.  These are just a few of the threads that make up the gothic tapestry of The Distant Hours by Kate Morton.

Edie Burchill and her mother Meredith did not have what could be considered a warm and fuzzy relationship.  Meredith didn't encourage shared confidences, and Edie was reluctant to disrupt the fragile orderliness of her parent's household. When a letter to Meredith is finally delivered half a century after it was posted, cracks in the wall of her self-protection begin to appear, and Edie begins to understand her mother's past. But it is the unexpected discovery of Milderhurst Castle that sets Edie on a shadowy and twisted path back to the events of 1941, a path which leads to mystery, mayhem and redemption.

Deliciously descriptive and delightfully ghoulish,  The Distant Hours pulses with an undercurrent of physical and mental decay. I loved the combination of mystery, romance and history all wrapped up in a gothic package.  So, read The Distant Hours.  It's a creepy treat!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Call the Midwife

Depressed over the finale of Downton Abbey?  Seaching for something uniquely British to fill the gap until next January?  Look no further than your local PBS station for Call the Midwife.

Yes, Call the Midwife is a show on PBS, but it started out as a series of books by Jennifer Worth.  Call the Midwife,  Shadows of the Workhouse, and Farewell to the East End chronicle Jennifer's own experiences as a midwife in 1950's London.  But she didn't work in any old part of London, she worked in the poor and war-torn East End.  I don't think any of us could imagine the conditions in which most families lived at this time and in this place.  Populated with dock workers, laborers and their extended families, many of the worst tenements had no running water, and everyone in the building shared an outhouse.  The newer terraced homes had their own bathrooms, but every home was jam-packed with adults and children. Just twenty-two when she started, Jennifer Worth and her fellow midwives rode their bikes all over the East End sharing the joys and heartbreaks of their grateful patients.  Oh, I forgot to mention that she lived in a convent of Episcopalian nuns who were also midwives.  They tend to steal the show and the stories in the book. Oh, Sister Monica Joan, how I love thee!

I have seen all of the episodes of Call the Midwife on either or Netflix.  I have only read the first book in the trilogy, but look forward to the next two.  The series follows the stories and characters in the books very well, with some interesting embellishments. I love it all, and can't wait for the next season.  Hope you agree...TBC

I Suck at Girls

Justin Halpern is at it again!  I Suck at Girls is the sequel to the brilliant Sh*t My Dad Says, and if you haven't read THAT you are missing out on mucho hilarity.  Now, you must be prepared for a certain amount of colorful language and junior high humor, so, if that is not your thing I completely understand.  However, if you are willing to temporarily suspend your high-falutin' standards read them both TODAY!!

Justin Halpern grew up in San Diego.  His dad is a brilliant scientist with little patience for moronic behavior, especially in his son.  Being prone to said behavior, Justin grew up with regular words of wisdom from his no-nonsense dad.  After he graduated from San Diego State, worked as a struggling screenwriter/waiter in LA, got dumped by his girlfriend and moved back home, he started sharing his dad's sage words on a twitter account.  Before he knew it he had 500,000 followers, a book and a TV deal. That he was lucky is an understatement, and he owes it all to the crazy things his dad says.  For example:

     "I was nine years old and crouching in the corner of the bathroom with my pants around my
      ankles, trying to pee into a water balloon. The idea was to throw the pee-filled balloon at my
      brothers in revenge for their merciless bouts of picking on me.  Then, suddenly, the door
      opened revealing my father.  I froze in fear, the water balloon attached to my privates.  My
      dad stared in silence for a moment, then said, 'First of all, you can't fill up a water balloon
      like that, dumb*!#!.  Secondly, life is f@#$%*# long, especially if you're stupid.'"

No truer words were ever said. Don't be stupid. Read I Suck at Girls. TBC

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Spear of Summer Grass

One of the many great things about reading is the ability to time-travel and place-travel without moving from your couch/bed/beach chair.  (I've probably pointed that out before!)  A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn took me to 1920's Africa.  It was quite the trip.

Delilah Drummond wasn't born notorious, but after several marriages, multiple affairs and a looming international dispute over her recently dead husband's jewels, (the sparkly kind), her mother and ex-husband/lawyer convince her to retire to Africa until it all blows over.  Luckily, her step-father has an estate in Kenya that no one is using, so Delilah packs up her divine Paris frocks and her drab cousin Dodo and they steam away from France to up-country Kenya, via Mombasa and Nairobi. Despite the fact that Delilah has lived a flapper's life of luxury and decadence, she is almost immediately drawn to the completely alien and dangerous life on the savanna, falling under the spell of Africa and her people.  But the white people are in charge, and she soon finds out that she can't run away from scandal and intrigue. And she certainly can't keep running away from the demons of her past.

Deanna Raybourn paints a fascinating canvas of British Colonial Africa in the 1920's. Much was good, but much was terrible, requiring the truly courageous to fight for the rights of both man and beast.  Sounds like today, only without antibiotics.  Kwaheri!  TBC

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Heist

Ten Reasons to Read The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg:

1.  It's written by Janet Evanovich.  Also by Lee Goldberg who I did not know but now like.

2.  Everything Janet Evanovich writes is funny.  Funny is good.

3.  It is the perfect beach read, because it's fun and smart without requiring the reader to be.  Smart, that    is.  Fun is always a requirement.

4.  The plot is a combination of action, suspense and comedy.  Think Mission Impossible but with comedians.

5.  The character of Nicolas Fox is hot, as a fox.

6.  FBI Agent Kate O'Hare is his perfect foil.

7.  The story takes place in exotic and not so exotic locales, but the research done for the LA, San Francisco and Southern California desert areas was right on.  I like it when a writer gets it right.

8.  Pirates are involved.  Arrrrr.

9.  The good guys win.

10.  Ergo, the bad guys get what's coming to them.

Read The Heist, and have a great summer!  TBC

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Matched Trilogy

If you have girls of a certain age in your house, and they loved The Hunger Games, then you should introduce them to The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie.  They will thank you for it.

Matched is the first book in the series, and in it we meet Cassia. She has a loving mother and father, a younger brother, and all the security that she could ever ask for. What she doesn't have is choices. The Society makes all of her choices for her and the other citizens of Mapletree Borough, including what art, poems and music she will enjoy, who she will be matched with and how she will die on her 80th birthday. You see, they have collected and sorted all the pertinent data, so the Society knows best how to keep everyone optimally safe and healthy. That is, if you are a Citizen. If you are classified as an Aberration or an Anomaly, things don't turn out so great for you. But the data is not always correct, for even though Cassia is matched to her handsome, life-long friend Xander, it is an Aberration that she truly loves.  Crossed takes Cassia into the world of the Carving, the place where she learns about the Rising and the people who live outside of the Society.  It is a stark and beautiful place, filled with danger and obstacles both physical and mental, but it is in the final book Reached that Cassie is finally able to make her own choices. Will they be the right ones? You'll just have to read the books to find out.

The Matched Trilogy reminded me a little of Logan's Run, although with longer lives and a lot less debauchery. (Did I just date myself of WHAT?!) My daughter loved the books, and I enjoyed reading them, but I'll let you DECIDE for yourself!  TBC

The Bookman's Tale

Charlie Lovett's recipe for a great book:

~one part history
~one part mystery
~one and a half parts love story
~a pinch of thievery mixed with greed
~season with centuries-old family feud
~throw in spicy and complex characters

Mix well with undying love until beautifully bound, and sprinkle with plenty of twists.
Read, read and read again, or until your literary appetite has been satisfied.

Some authors just know how to get their audiences' attention, and what better way to get a book lover's attention than to write about books? The Bookman's Tale is the story of Peter Byerly, a socially anxious student at a small college in North Carolina who finds his escape and passion in the rare book collection of his school.  Miraculously, the school's library also leads him to another passion, Amanda, the love of his life. Her love of Victorian art and his of Elizabethan literature leads them to England where they eventually buy a cottage in the small village of Kingham.  It is to this cottage that Peter retreats after Amanda tragically dies.  Grieving Peter is barely existing when a chance encounter with a mysterious watercolor leads him into an unparalleled opportunity to finally answer a question scholars have debated for generations:  Who wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare? But first he must navigate around desperate book sellers and pig-headed academics, discovering for himself what is original or merely brilliantly forged.  Reputations and millions of dollars are at stake, and all is not polite cups of tea in the world of antiquarian books.

In The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett, the author has cooked up one of the best stories I've read this year.  I absolutely loved it and hated to reach its end.  I hope he writes another book for dessert...soon!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

His Majesty's Hope

Maggie Hope is back in His Majesty's Hope, and she's better than ever.

Susan Elia MacNeal's third Maggie Hope Mystery takes our heroine into the heart of Nazi Germany.  Not that the Nazis had a heart, but they did have Berlin. Maggie is the first female spy to be dropped behind enemy lines, and she is uniquely suited to this job, for it is her recently discovered relative in the German spy machine that she is targeting.  Once inside the lair of the beast, she is given an opportunity she cannot refuse and extends her mission against the wishes of her handlers.  What she discovers proves the immense evil that lurks in Germany and just how far the Nazis are willing to go to purify their "race".  It is an experience that changes Maggie forever.

His Majesty's Hope is by far my favorite book in this series. I now can't wait for the next one, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent.  Thank you, Ms. MacNeal!  Keep on writing!!

By the Great Horn Spoon!

If you live in California and have children, you have probably heard of this book.  It was required fourth grade reading for my children, the year they study California history.  I usually read everything my children do, (Except 1984. Sorry Mr. Orwell.) but somehow I missed out on this one.  It's never too late for a great book, even one meant for fourth graders!

By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman tells the story of twelve-year-old Jack and his butler Praiseworthy who have joined the 1849 gold rush to California. They are determined to make their fortune in order to save the family home in Boston.  Along the way they run into adventures and dilemmas, using their noggins and positive attitudes to solve every problem.  A little bit of luck helps, too. The book is filled with fantastic characters and outrageous situations, but all of it is based on real history.  In other words, you learn a lot and have fun doing it!

I recommend By the Great Horn Spoon! to everyone, but especially if you live in California.  It is a fascinating time in our history, and the beginning of our great state.  There's a 1967 Disney movie based on the book called The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, starring Roddy McDowall and Suzanne Pleshette. You can rent it on Amazon for 1.99.  I think I'll stake my claim on that tonight!  (Wa, wa, wa....) TBC

The House at Riverton

I absolutely LOVED The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, so I thought I'd give The House at Riverton a try. It's pretty darn good!

Kate Morton's debut novel is set at beautiful Riverton House, the country estate of Lord Ashbury, Lady Violet and the extended Hartford family.  Born at the turn of the century, Grace Bradley moves from her mother's tiny home in the village to work downstairs at Riverton.  It's still the era before WWI, when one's place in society and loyalty to the gentry were not questioned.  Grace soon becomes enthralled with the Hartford grandchildren, Hannah, Emmeline and David.  Beautiful, eccentric and about her age, Grace becomes their caretaker and lifelong secret keeper when she discovers the great secret of her own life.  But maybe some truths are meant to remain hidden.

The secrets of The House at Riverton are told though the voice and memories of Grace, living out the end of the 20th Century at a nursing home in the village where she grew up.  Kate Morton expertly weaves the story of Grace and the Hartfords between the tragic days of WWI, the glamorous twenties and present day (sort of!) England.  She really is a terrific writer, and I am excited to read all of her books.  I hope you agree!  TBC

Friday, May 31, 2013

Leaving Everything Most Loved

Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear is a departure of a sorts from her usual storyline.  That doesn't mean I didn't love the book, just that she's taking Maisy Dobbs in a slightly different direction.  Or, maybe not so slightly...

Maisy Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, has been hired by an Indian man to look into the death of his sister Usha Pramal.  She was found shot and floating in a canal over two months before, and the police have reached a dead end.  Maisy soon discovers that not much of an effort was made to find the former Indian governess,  mostly because she was the wrong color.  She starts to dig, uncovering ugly prejudice and distrust, but she also learns about beautiful Usha and her ability to heal through touch. When Usha's friend Maya is also found shot, Maisy knows that she needs to work fast to find answers before tragedy strikes again.

This is far from a straight forward investigation, and Maisy has problems of her own that must be tackled.  Her assistant Billy is suffering from old physical and psychological injuries, her father is acting strangely and James Compton is tired of waiting for Maisy to make up her mind on love. Meanwhile, Maisy's deepest desire is to travel the world in the manner of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and India is calling to her.  Will Maisy solve the mystery and her own problems?  Read Leaving Everything Most Loved to find out which direction she takes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D.

Proof of Heaven is quite a title, but this is quite a story.  We've all heard tales of near death experiences, of tunnels radiating with bright light and close encounters with long-dead relatives, but this is another story all together mostly because of WHO experienced it.

Eben Alexander graduated from Duke University Medical School in 1980. He completed his residency and fellowships at Duke, Harvard and Massachusetts General, then spending 15 years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School specializing in neurosurgery.  He is one smart dude.  Along the way he married, had two sons and in 2006 moved back to Virginia.  Eben led a life that was devoted to scientific study and fact, leaving little room for the unseen or unexplainable, ie: God. Then, on November 10, 2008, Eben's brain was attacked by an extremely rare form of meningitis which was in itself unexplainable.  The part of his brain responsible for thought and emotion was completely shut down, and he was in a coma for 7 days.  His doctors were about to recommend taking him off life support when he suddenly woke up, again, defying any explanation.  That he was able to recover completely from this ordeal and return to neurosurgery was considered a medical miracle.  But that is not why you should read this book.  You should read Proof of Heaven because of what Eben experienced when he medically and scientifically should NOT have been able to experience ANYTHING.  And yet he did, and he is a changed man because of it.

I'm not going to give you anymore details, because I want you to read this book.  But I'll leave you with the first words that Dr. Alexander said when he woke from his coma, "Don't worry...all is well." One more quote from Albert Einstein: "There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as if everything is."

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Scent of Rain and Lightning

I love it when I discover a new author who is not really new just new to me so they have a whole list of books from which to choose in the near future. Anyway... I am speaking about Nancy Pickard, who has written The Scent of Rain and Lightning.

Set in the small town of Rose, Kansas, The Scent of Rain and Lightning is the story of the close-knit Linder family whose lives are forever changed when their oldest son is brutally murdered and their daughter-in-law disappears.  Most traumatized by this is their three year-old daughter Jody, but after no-good Billy Collins is convicted and sent away to prison for the crime,  Jody is lovingly raised by her grandparents, aunt and uncles who protect her from her demons and fears.  Fast-forward 23 years, and Jody has returned to the town of Rose to teach at the high school.  But someone else is also returning to Rose, and that someone may just be innocent of her father's death.  Jody's life has been defined by that tragic night all those years ago, but she is learning that her's was not the only life that changed, and she is not the only casualty in the story.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning is a terrific story.  The characters are real and likable, and Nancy Pickard makes me want to see the Monument Rocks in Gove County, Kansas.  Really!  Google them and you will see. (They play a major role in the book, in case you were wondering.)  Also, I love the title, and rain really does smell lovely. TBC

Ode to Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes 
you work so hard
always showing up Scotland Yard. 
But even you can be 
too much of a good thing for me.
It's elementary
unlike this poetry
which is patheticky.
So, the moral of this story
is to go slowly.
Take one adventure at a time,
and you won't lose your mind, 
like I did after reading all 705 pages
of The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume II.
That didn't rhyme.
Boo hoo.

Mr. Churchill's Secretary, Etc.

While we're on the subject of World War II, let me tell you about two books I recently read on vacation.

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal follows the exploits of Maggie Hope, a British citizen raised in America by her aunt but now in London trying to sell the house of a Grandmother she never met.  This is not such an easy task when bombs are falling all around you.  Through a friend she lands a job as a typist at No. 10 Downing Street, soon working for the great man himself.  But Maggie is no ordinary secretary. Before coming to London she was just about to start work on her PhD in mathematics at MIT, but her grandmother's death changed all that.  Her job with Churchill is important, but in this male dominated world she knows she has much more to offer. Before long Maggie's genius with codes saves the day, but will Maggie be able to save herself?  There is more at stake here than the correct answer to an equation, and Maggie discovers that she and her family are at the center of of a problem that will take all of her wits to solve.

Princess Elizabeth's Spy continues the story of Maggie Hope, now a member of MI5.  She has gone through all the training at spy school, but her petite physique is her downfall, and instead of dropping down behind enemy lines she is dropped into the nursery at Windsor Castle.  Tasked with uncovering a spy in the castle, she is posing as a math tutor for Princess Elizabeth.  Human prejudices lead her in the wrong direction, and the Royal Family is faced with their worst nightmare.  Will Maggie be able to save the monarchy and England with it?  You'll  have to read to find out!

Both are great for the beach...enjoy!  TBC

Ten Reasons to Read The Postmistress

I Loved The Postmistress by Sarah Blake!  Here are 10 reasons why you should read it:

1.  Part of the story takes place on Cape Cod in the year leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.                                    Much has been written about the English resilience during the Battle of Britain and the horrors befalling  the citizens of Europe, but what about us?  How was the threat of war affecting the regular citizen here in the US?

2.  In 1940 The United States Postal Service was VERY IMPORTANT. Of course there were telephones, but most long distance communication was done through letters.  Or the dreaded Telegram-O-Bad-News.  Think about it: no email, no text messages, no emoticons, just good old handwritten letters on actual stationary. I have letters written by my father during WWII.  They are priceless.

3.  The postmaster/postmistress was a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON.  He/she was responsible for all of this very important communication reaching the correct recipient.  In the small town of this story, the residents came into the post office to collect their mail, so the postmistress, Iris James, knows everyone.   

4.  Iris James is a VERY interesting character.

5.  Iris James' boyfriend keeps a vigilant look-out for German submarines in the waters off Cape Cod.  Crazy or clairvoyant?

6.  Part of the story takes place in London in the middle of the Blitz.  Through persistence and hard work Frankie Bard has become a female broadcaster with the legendary Edward R. Murrow.  Defying danger all around her, she reports on everyday life in the middle of bombed-out neighborhoods as people get on with their lives as best they can. 

7.  Frankie loves her job in London but desperately wants to report on conditions in Europe.  She finally gets her chance, naively traveling into the heart of the matter as only a neutral reporter with the correct papers can do.

8.  Frankie discovers so much more than she bargained for.

9. You will find yourself sympathizing with the dilemmas of these two women: Should all mail be delivered, and should all news be reported?

10.  The Postmistress is a VERY GOOD BOOK.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Forgotten Garden

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?  Or when the last puzzle piece fits into place?  Or when the loose ends of a story are all tied up in the end?  To me, the latter is the mark of a REALLY GOOD BOOK, and I have definitely just read a really good book.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton begins in 1913.  A passenger ship has docked in Australia and a little girl is found by the harbor master sitting on her small white suitcase. She doesn't seem to know anything about her family, and without having to deal with the inconvenience of today's customs and immigration, he decides he should take her home for safe keeping. Of course he and his wife fall in love with her and raise the girl they name "Nell" as their own, but his conscience forces him to tell Nell the truth about her past at her 21st birthday party.  This was probably not a great idea.  Nell does not take this news well and spends the rest of her life trying to discover who she really is.  Fast forward to 2005 where Nell is dying in a Brisbane hospital.  Her devoted granddaughter Cassandra is by her side, and upon Nell's death she takes up her grandmother's quest. Learning more than she ever thought she could about her grandmother's past, Cassandra also learns how to embrace her future.  Spanning almost a century, this is a mystery that reaches into the darkest hovels in London's East End, travels to the heat of Western Australia and ends in a mysterious cottage on the once magnificent Blackhurst estate in Cornwall.

I LOVED The Forgotten Garden! The characters are fascinating, and the plot is a page turner, the perfect combination for your reading satisfaction. PLUS, Kate Morton has written several other books!!  Huzzah and thank you, Kate!

Now back to reading...TBC

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Poem for You

I have read a book
About which I will not write
Because I did not like

But I have two that I LOVED and will write about later today.
Or tomorrow.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Good Family

I just finished Good Family by Terry Gamble.  Published in 2005, this is not a new book, but until I picked it up at my mom's it was new to me.  I'm glad I picked it up at my mom's.

Maddie Addison is the baby of her family.  Born in the late 1950's, she lives in Pasadena, CA, but spends her summers on the exclusive, WASPY Sand Isle in Lake Michigan where traditions, appearances and good taste are everything. (As Maddie's Aunt Pat liked to say of anyone flouting these rules: '"NOCD" for "not our class, dear"'.) But underneath the veneer the flaws lurk, as flaws tend to do, and Maddie's alcoholism, failed marriage and unbearable personal tragedy have served to estrange her from her family and the expectations on Sand Isle. After a long eleven years she is now returning to the family summer home, to the bedside of her dying mother, her quirky cousins and her memories.

Good Family by Terry Gamble is a story for everyone, for don't we all wish for the perfect family, and don't we all know that there is no such thing? It takes a crisis to reunite Maddie with her family. Craziness, conflict and redemption ensue, and in the end Maddie realizes there is no escape from the ties that bind us to our family tree, no matter how twisted and gnarled the branches are.

The Clockwork Princess

Finally, The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare has returned, and it was worth the wait!  You can read about the first two books in my November 8, 2012 post.  This post is about the third book, The Clockwork Princess.

If you are familiar with this series, there is not much I can say to add to what I assume is your excitement.  If you haven't yet read these books, I don't want to ruin the story here! I CAN tell you that the Shadowhunters are facing major evil-doers and seemingly unsolvable life-threatening dilemmas, as well as political intrigue and negative public relations. I guess Victorian England was not that much different from life as we know it today. Also, the third book answers many questions, ties up some loose strings, and has a very satisfying ending. I am afraid to say anything more!

To recap:  If you are new to this series, read it and love it. If you have been waiting with bated breath for The Clockwork Princess, "by the Angel" you will NOT be disappointed! TBC

(Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the new trailer for City of Bones.  This is the movie based on the first book of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series.  It's coming out this summer.  I know where my daughter will be...ok, me, too!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Libba Bray

Libba Bray is one of my daughter's favorite authors.  She has written the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, which includes A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing.  I have just finished reading said trilogy.  (Where's the Snap Cup, Kate? I need me some Snaps!)

Sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle has grown up in India, but when her mother is tragically murdered she is sent to the Spence Academy outside of London to learn how to be a proper English lady. Being a proper lady is not really her cup of tea and neither are her catty and cutting schoolmates, but things get even more difficult for Gemma when she discovers she has magical abilities.  And that she inherited them from her mother who was murdered because of her power.  And now the baddies are after Gemma.  And you thought your high school days were tough!

Now, if you have a daughter in middle school, high school or even college, they will most likely LOVE these books.  Good, evil, magic and forbidden love all make an appearance, and the Victorian era girls boarding school and social mores make the conflicts all the more intriguing.  What I found most interesting were the relationships between Gemma and her friends and the almost total lack of power women were experiencing at this time in England, even those in the upper echelons of society.

       "I think of those ladies in their stiff gowns and forced smiles, drowning their hunger with weak tea, trying hard to make themselves fit into such a narrow world, desperately afraid the blinders will slip and show them what they've chosen to close out.  'Privilege is not always power, is it?' I say."

Let's give a big "Huzzah!" for the choices we have in 2013.  I hope you or your daughters will choose to read this very entertaining series.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

And now for Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn.  I seem to be on a British book kick.
This is a delightful tale involving the Queen, (QE2), her dresser, (the human one, not where she keeps her drawers. Get it?!), her equerry, (look it up.), a Royal Mews stable girl, a wealthy English/Indian cheese shop clerk, a butler and a lady-in-waiting.  It also involves a train.  And yoga.

Elizabeth is tired and a little bit sad.  She can't quite put her finger on why, but she suspects it has something to do with the terrible events surrounding Diana's death all those years ago.  Why now?  Perhaps because she was always one to "buck up" and "soldier on", forgetting that even queens need someone to talk to, and yoga alone is not cutting it.  She decides she needs to go to a happy place, and her happy place just happens to be the Royal Yacht Britannia, now decommissioned and docked up in Scotland.  But how to get there? She can't just drop all of her Royal Duties, her staff and the public would think she'd gone barmy.  A serendipitous walk down to the stables leads her to a favorite cheese shop and on to the Flying Scotsman, where no one seems to pay much attention to the elderly lady in the Hermes scarf.  Luckily, the stable girl and the cheese boy are watching out for her, but all hell is breaking loose in Buckingham Palace.  Will her devoted staff find her before the press does?  You shall have to read and see.

Filled with quirky characters but serious life lessons, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train is truly an engaging story.  It made me want to drink tea, start yoga, (you'll understand when you read the book.), take a train anywhere or just do something unexpected.  Sometimes a little change is just what one needs to go on.  So, go on now, read it!  You'll be glad you did.  TBC

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley

Attention, fans of all things Austen!  Do I have a book for you!!  Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James is the continuation of Elizabeth and Darcy's story. Who better to attempt such a grand task then one of England's grandest authors?

Six years after the marriage of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy life is good on on Darcy's beautiful Pemberley Estate.  They have 2 little boys, her beloved sister Jane lives nearby and Elizabeth is looking forward to Pemberley's annual autumn ball.  The only blight on this happy picture is sister Lydia, married to that cad Mr. Wickham, who will NEVER by welcome at Pemberley again.  Until the night before the ball when Lydia's carriage comes tearing up the drive, Lydia screaming to all that will listen, "Wickham's dead!  Denny has shot him! They're up there in the woodland.  Oh God, I know he's dead!" So instead of a ball, Pemberly has a mystery with many questions to be answered.  Why were Lydia and Wickham in Pemberley's woodland?  Who fired the shots heard by Lydia?  Is there a murderer loose on the estate?  Will Elizabeth's mother continue to embarrass her family?  Will Darcy's sister find true love? Many things besides death are yet to be resolved in this sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and P. D. James handles the task brilliantly.

Read Death Comes to Pemberley.  It will transport you back 200 years in time and place, but you will find much that seems familiar.  So enjoy your visit to the early 1800's and be glad that we live in 2013!

The Sherlockian

Sherlock Holmes is EVERYWHERE!  From the original stories to the movies with Robert Downey Jr., the English TV series Sherlock and the American Elementary, Sherlock Holmes is all the rage, and I'm SO glad. If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then you will love The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.

It is August of 1893 and Arthur Conan Doyle is sick to death of his creation.  His make-believe detective has brought him fame and fortune, but his fans are confusing fact with fiction.  Everyday Doyle receives letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes, asking him to solve all sorts of mysteries.  Even Doyle's mother refers to herself as the mother of Sherlock Holmes! This fictional character has literally taken on a life of his own.  But when the people of London turn to the latest installment of Sherlock in December of 1893 only to find Doyle's killed him off, shock, disbelief and anger all follow.  The people are not happy with Arthur Conan Doyle, but their reactions only serve to justify his actions.  His readers really need to get a life.

Meanwhile, it is January 2010 and Harold White has just been inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars, THE preeminent society for all things Holmes.  This is the happiest moment of his life, until one of the Irregulars is found dead in his hotel room, apparently strangled by his own shoelace.  And Arthur Conan Doyle's mysterious missing diary has again gone missing.  There is a mystery to be solved, and Harold is just the man for the job.

Graham Moore does an excellent job blending fact with fiction in this very entertaining mystery. The reader travels back and forth between 1893 and 2010, falling deeper into the enigma that was both Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, remembering once again that you can never really know anyone, no matter how strong your powers of deduction.  You really must read the Sherlockian!  It is...yes, I'm going to say it...ELEMENTARY!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Under a War-Torn Sky

While trying to help my recently returned-from-college son to organize his old room, I came across  Under a War-Torn Sky by L. M. Elliott.  It was published in 2001 by Hyperion Books for Children and is the story of an American flier shot down in France in 1944. This is why I loved this book:

1. My father, uncle, step-father and father-in-law were all in WWII.

2. We are quickly losing these brave men, but the story in this book will live indefinitely.

3. Many of these soldiers, fliers and sailors were extraordinarily young.  Imagine your 18 year-old going off to fight Hitler.

4. Most of what I know about the French Resistance comes from Hogan's Heroes.  Probably not the best source.

5. Under a War-Torn Sky was based on the first-hand experiences of the author's father, who was shot down over France and rescued by the Resistance.

6. Heroic deeds were performed by regular people, on a regular basis.

7. We need to remember this war so history doesn't repeat itself.

8. Like most books for children, it is not just for children.

Please give Under a War-torn Sky to yourself or your child.  It will be a reminder or an eye-opener.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Oh, Flavia, How I Love Thee!!

Huzzah!  Flavia de Luce has returned in Speaking from Among the Bones, and she does not disappoint.  Let me elaborate...

It is 1951. Flavia is the eleven-year-old daughter of Colonel de Luce, widower and owner of their beloved but beleaguered English country estate, Buckshaw.  Beleaguered because his wife and heir to the estate died intestate during a Himalayan climbing expedition ten years earlier. Despite her young age, Flavia is chemist and detective extraordinaire, and her skills are put to use once again when the organist at St. Tancred's is found dead in said Saint's tomb, apparently suffocated by a WWII gas mask.  Thus Flavia begins her latest investigation, much to the chagrin of the local police, her family and eventually, the culprits.

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley is the fifth book in the Flavia de Luce series.  There is nothing I don't like about his books.  I love Flavia, her sometimes horrid older sisters, her haunted and distracted stamp-collecting father, his factotum Dogger, their cook/confidant Mrs. Mullett, and all the villagers in Bishop's Lacey. This is my only complaint:  I've finished the book, and now I have to wait for the next one!!

Goodbye until next time, Flavia.  I miss you already.  TBC

Kinsey and Me

One of my most favorite authors is Sue Grafton. She is the reason I love mysteries so much!  I've become an intimate of her character, P.I. Kinsey Millhone, through 23 amazing novels, but I knew little about her creator, the notoriously private Grafton.  That has now changed.

In Kinsey and Me, Sue Grafton has re-published nine short stories that appeared in magazines and other publications starting in 1986.  They all feature Kinsey in satisfying vignettes of crime designed to begin and end in only a few short pages.  That is quite an amazing feat when you really think about it.  In the preface Grafton describes the process required to successfully produce a short crime story.  It is very interesting!  I loved each and every one of these little mysteries.

I always knew that Sue Grafton was a great writer, but I only knew her through the vehicle of Kinsey and her cases.  The second part of the book proved to me just what an outstanding writer she really is.  The thirteen stories of part two feature Kit Blue, who is really just Sue Grafton as her younger self.  Sue grew up in a troubled home, with an alcoholic mother and a father who left Sue and her older sister to their own devices.  In reality, she grew up parentless, and through Kit Blue we find out how her experiences in childhood and beyond made her who she is today.  I know, you can say that about anyone, but not everyone has written 23 fantastic books over a period of 30 years.  I'm just saying!!  If you love Sue Grafton and Kinsey, you will love Kinsey and Me.  If you are from outer space you've never heard of her, read Kinsey and Me.  You'll love her, too!

Tigers in Red Weather

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann begins at the end of WWII.  It is the story of cousins Nick and Helena, their husbands Hughes and Avery, their children Daisy and Ed, and their summer home on Martha's Vineyard, Tiger House.  Each character is given a turn to tell their story, and we soon discover that all is not well in this post-war world.  Nick and Hughes are reunited in Florida, but this distant and silent Hughes is not the same man Nick married.  Desperate for love after the death of her first husband, Helena marries Avery who promises her a glamorous life in Hollywood. (Sorry, spoiler alert!) He's a creep and a liar.  Soon Daisy and Ed come along, and the next 20 plus years are filled with summers on the Island in tennis whites and dinner jackets, gin and tonics and lemonade.  It sounds idyllic, but nasty undercurrents lurk just beneath the calm waters.

From the title to the last page, Tigers in Red Weather is all about atmosphere.  Not just the physical atmosphere of each setting, but the emotional storms her characters survived, or did they?!  Part F. Scott, part Alfred Hitchcock, I felt an uneasy langour while reading this book. Considering that Liza Klaussmann is the great-great-great -granddaughter of Herman Melville, she had rather large shoes to fill.  With Tigers in Red Weather I think she has succeeded.

I'm back!

I have been remiss.  By that I mean lazy.  I've read 4 books and haven't written a word, but now I intend to rectify my bad behavior.  So get ready for a posting marathon!

I think I'll start with A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn.  YES!!  Chet and Bernie are back with a vengeance, working to right all the wrongs in their Arizona world and beyond.  In this latest adventure, Bernie agrees to keep watch over a troubled actor as he stars in an old western movie being made in the Valley.  In fact, he is working for the mayor who believes the film industry is the answer to all of the area's money woes, and keeping Thad Perry safe is crucial to his plan.  But Bernie soon discovers there is much more to this movie than is written in the script, and it is hard to keep someone out of trouble who has a death wish.  Chet and Bernie have their hands and paws full digging into Thad's past to discover the reasons for his behavior.  Is it all an act?  Will Chad make his next call?  Can Chet obey the command, "Quiet on the set!"?  All will be revealed in the final scene.

I simply adore Chet and Bernie.  They are the perfect crime-fighting team, and Chet is the ideal narrator.  This is quite an extraordinary skill, because, if you didn't already know, Chet is a dog.  The only problem with these books is waiting for the next one to come out.  Sit and stay at your computer, Mr. Quinn!  We're all waiting!!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Did It For You, Kate!

I finally finished City of Lost Souls and City of Fallen Angels, both by Cassandra Clare.  These are the fourth and fifth books of The Mortal Instruments, a series with which my daughter is completely obsessed.  Now, I really liked them, but if you have a teenage or older girl in the house, THEY WILL LOVE THEM.  Angels, demons, vampires and werewolves populate these stories, and all are unfailingly HOT.  Also, the plots are pretty darn good, and as I mentioned before the movie of the first book, City of Bones, comes out in August.  So, get them for yourself or said younger female.  Either way, you won't be sorry.  TBC

The Language of Flowers

Wow.  I just finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  Again, wow.  This is a a GREAT book.

Victoria has been in the foster system from birth.  She is nine-years-old and has lived in 32 homes, at least that she can remember, and now she was being given one last chance.  (Go ahead and read that again.  The social worker told a nine-year-old girl she had one last chance to belong to someone. If it didn't work out she'd be put in a group home until she was 18.) Victoria has learned to not expect anything good to happen, and when she arrives at Elizabeth's vineyard she does her best to protect her wounded heart. For how can she love others when she has never learned to love herself?  But Elizabeth slowly chips away at Victoria's defenses, and the little girl dares to hope that this placement might be different.  In her time with Elizabeth, Victoria learns many new things, but it is Elizabeth's love of flowers and the messages they send that literally save Victoria's life and teach her that she is worthy of someone's love.

Not only is The Language of Flowers a fantastic book, but it also covers a subject that is close to my heart.  I have had the privilege of working with a wonderful group of women who support San Pasqual Academy here in San Diego County.  It is a boarding school for foster teens, and it is the first of its kind in the country.  Like Victoria, a foster child moves an average of 10 times before the teen years, fostering a feeling of impermanence and instability.  San Pasqual Academy changes all of that.  The school takes children from a broken system and gives them a new start.  Please check out their website at, and watch the video below.  It is truly an amazing place!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy New Year!!!!

I love most everything about Christmas and New Year's, except that all of the hullaballoo keeps me from my book addiction.  But the New Year is here, and I'm back to my favorite pastime!

One of my happy discoveries last year was D. E. Stevenson, who wrote Miss Buncle's Book way back in the 1930's.  Luckily she didn't stop there, but soon came out with Miss Buncle Married, which continues the story of Barbara and her new husband/publisher Arthur as they move from London to a small town in the English countryside.  Almost immediately Barbara is drawn into the small and large dramas of her neighbors, but only because she has such an innocent and sympathetic heart.  People just seem to TELL her things, on purpose and by accident, and it is her unintentionally astute observations that make her such a great friend.  Once again she transforms her personal experiences into a potential best-selling book, but can she risk publishing it?? You'll have to read it to see...

What I love about D. E. Stevenson is how much her books apply to our life today, despite the almost 80 years that have passed.  We may think our problems are unique to 2013, but that's not really true. The more things change, the more they stay the same.  What for SURE doesn't change is the gift of a new book to read, and thank goodness for that!

Happy 2013!!