Upcoming Readalongs – Somewhere between a reading challenge and a book club.

>> Friday, April 30, 2010


I confess: I’m a book club dropout. I’ve never had an opportunity to join a face to face book club, but I was in an online book club several years ago. The part I liked about being in a book club was sharing the experience of reading and discussing a book with friends. The parts I didn’t like were the books that felt like a chore to finish and discussions that went horribly wrong. My ‘bad book club experience’ involved a club member who seemed to want to ‘teach’ the book to the rest of us. My last day in the club came when she told me that my opinion of a book was wrong. Sorry, I’m not a book club person.

I’ve also become not much of a reading challenge person either. In my first couple of years of blogging I was a reading challenge fanatic. After over-scheduling my reading one too many times, I changed the name of this blog to Whimpulsive and vowed to keep spontaneous reading choices part of my routine.

Between the bloggers I read via my Google Reader subscriptions and those I chat with routinely on Twitter, I’m inundated with book recommendations and opportunities for reading and discussing specific books. I love the idea of readalongs which are a group of bloggers reading the same book and having some discussions. For me it’s the best balance of reading challenge and book club. Like challenges, the books are chosen for a particular reason (even if the reason is that a bunch of us have it on our TBR list but haven’t read it yet), but it’s one book and not a commitment for a list or for months. Like book clubs, readalongs provide an opportunity for sharing the experience of a particular book, but without the structure of the same group of people or a book every month or any other specific time frame. It’s kind of a drop in book club and therefore perfect for me.

I can’t possibly join in all the group reads and discussions that come along, but I will be joining two of them next month.


Pam at Bookalicio.us is hosting a readalong and discussion of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I read this book ages ago and a random twitter conversation turned into an opportunity for me to re-read it. For more information or to join in the discussion, check out Margaret May at Bookalicio.us.



The second group read also grew out of a twitter conversation.

 I mentioned that my sister-in-law had loaned me a copy of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and was wondering what my bookish friends thought of it. Next thing I knew The Little Reader had taken the ball and run with it. The Little Readalong will kick off in May with a readalong and discussion of Angela’s Ashes. If you’re like me and haven’t read it, join us. If you want to re-read it, now is a great time. For more information check out The Little Readalong at The Little Reader.

I’ve been incredibly selective about signing up for reading challenges in the past year or so and don’t like to over-plan or be over-committed when it comes to what books I read and when, but this kind of spontaneous ‘Hey, let’s read this together’ kind of stuff can be fun and certainly fits right in with my whimpulsive ways. I have to pace myself with these just as much as I have to pace myself with reading challenges, though. It’s easy to want to join way too many readalongs and get overwhelmed, so I’m a little worried about having both of these on my plate in May, but it’s two books I definitely want to read so I’m in.

I'll probably lay off the readalongs for a while after that, but I know My Friend Amy is making noises about The Lonesome Dove and October . . .

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Wordless Wednesday #30

>> Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shadows
Ixtapa, Mexico



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The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen

>> Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen

Genre: Mystery
Series: #3 in the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 342
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #19
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Crime solving friends and colleagues Detective Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiner Maura Isles team up again to solve a case that begins with a brutal attack on two nuns and ends up being quite personal.

Why I Read It:
I’m late to the Tess Gerritsen party and it’s part of my doomed to failure plan to catch up with my friends and fellow book bloggers who have read all of this series.

The Book
In the middle of a cold Boston winter two nuns in a cloistered order are brutally attacked, one dies and the other is in critical condition. Most of the members of the order are elderly but the deceased was a young woman just a few months away from taking her final vows. While conducting the autopsy, Dr. Isles discovers that shortly before her murder, Sister Camille had given birth.

Soon afterwards another case comes along that involves a brutal murder. This time the woman is unknown and may not be identifiable.

The story is partly about the investigation of these crimes, but also about Detective Rizzoli and Dr. Isles coping with their own personal and relationship issues. In both cases is may affect their objectivity and ability to continue with their investigations.

My Thoughts:
I don’t know why it took me so long to discover this series. I’m enjoying the mix of police procedural, medical mystery and the ongoing stories of both Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. It’s like having several of my favorite genres blended into one series.

Admittedly, some of the plot was a bit predictable but that’s one of the hazards of being a fan of mysteries. There were enough surprises and additional plotlines to keep my interest high. It’s been a while since I read the previous book in the series, but I hope to make some progress in catching up with this one soon.


Rating 3.5/5

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Hangin' With Howie

>> Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are you guys going away for the weekend?



Don't forget to pack the cat!


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Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines

>> Friday, April 23, 2010



Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: #3 in the Sarah Booth Delaney Series
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 354
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #18
Source: Library




The Short Version:
Fun cozy mystery with Southern charm, small town quirky characters and a sassy ghost.

Why I Read It:
Third in a series that I manage to get to about once a year, this one was perfect for the light mystery mood I was in at the time.

The Book:
Sarah Booth Delaney is trying to make a go of a new career as a Private Investigator. When her former school friend is jailed after murder of her husband, hires Sarah Booth it’s not to help prove she’s innocent. No, Eulalee McBride has confessed to the murder of her husband Kemper, she just wants Sarah Booth to prove that he deserved killing. It gets even more involved when Sarah Booth (and the Sheriff too) become convinced that the confession is a lie and her old friend is protecting someone else. Is that someone else her troubled teenage daughter who is staying with Sarah Booth while her mother is in Jail?

Along the way Sarah Booth is assisted by her friends Tinkie and Cece (formerly Cecil) and, of course Jitty gets involved too. Jitty’s concern isn’t so much solving the question of who murdered Kemper, she’s much more concerned with getting Sarah Booth married off and pregnant. Jitty needs an heir to the Delaney family home because she’s a ghost who will be out of a home if there are no more Delaneys living at Dahlia house.

My Thoughts:
It’s a little bit of mystery plus a little bit of Southern comedy complete with over the top characters and I have to admit my favorite part is Jitty.

The mystery this time gets a little convoluted with a long list of characters, suspects and subplots to keep track of, but it stays fun and interesting and an enjoyable series that I plan to continue reading.

Rating 3/5

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Wordless Wednesday #29

>> Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My neighbor's tree


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Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap

>> Monday, April 19, 2010


Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 333
Challenges: None
Source: Review copy from publisher (Bloomsbury)


The Short Version:
Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia tells the story of the end of the Romanov dynasty and the beginning of her first love.

Why I Read It:
Ever since I read Robert K. Massie’s Nicholas and Alexandra when I was in high school I’ve been a total sucker for all things Romanov.  When I was offered a copy of this book for review it took about a nanosecond for me to say yes.

The Book
Anastasia Romanov tells her own story.  At the beginning of the book she and her family are on the way to yet another location in their long difficult exile in Siberia at the hands of the Bolsheviks.  The story then takes the reader back three years to when young Anastasia first meets a soldier named Sasha in the garden of one of the Imperial palaces.

The final years of the Russian Empire and Revolution that leads to her father’s abdication are seen through the eyes of this teenager.  While Anastasia has led a privileged and sheltered life as one of the Grand Duchesses of the Russian royal family, she has also been a part of a close and loving family who take their obligations and duties to their country seriously.  The world outside the palaces is changing and Anastasia learns much of this through Sasha.  As their friendship blooms into young love, the world around them is changing in dramatic and devastating ways.

My Thoughts:
As I said above I have an inherent interest in any book about the Romanov family.  Over the years many versions of the myths regarding the Tsar’s youngest daughter have been told.  This is one that spends more time than most on the years leading up to the revolution and overthrow of the empire. 

I think that the author did an excellent job of blending well-researched facts with a new twist on a fictionalized version of the story.  She shows that while privileged, the Tsar’s children led a life that was not complete luxury even before their exile. 

The love story was sweet and enmeshing it into the final years rather than the final months made it more interesting to me.  For someone who has read a lot of both fiction and non-fiction stories of the events covered in this book it might be a bit on the simpler side.  However, for any adult or young adult who is fairly new to reading about the Romanov’s and their story this is a great version to start with.  There is a lot of well done research behind the work and while fiction, does not necessarily move into the history changing realm.

I’d recommend it, particularly if you haven’t read that much about this family.

I’d also like to pass along a recommendation from the author’s note at the end of the book.  If you want further information about this story and time please visit http://www.alexanderpalace.org.  This is a fascinating website.  In addition to a tremendous amount of information and photographs it also includes the full text of some memoirs that I was thrilled to see.  I plan on spending some time reading them and want to thank Susanne Dunlap for leading me to this fascinating site.

Rating 3.5/5

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Susan Hill's Lafferton - Home of the Simon Serrailler series

>> Thursday, April 15, 2010

I love books with maps!!!

When I opened the front cover of The Various Haunts of Men (the first Simon Serrailler book) and discovered this I did a little happydance. If you click on the image you'll get to a full size version.


Lafferton is a fictional cathedral town somewhere in Southern England.

Between the map in the book and the descriptions in the story a fairly clear image of the town is created.

On Susan Hill's Website she says of Lafferton "I am often asked if it is based on a real place. No, but if you think of places like Exeter or Salisbury you are on the right lines."

"It was small, but not too small, had wide, leafy avenues and some pretty Victorian terraces and, in the Cathedral Close, fine Georgian houses. The Cathedral itself was magnificent . . . and there were quality shops, pleasant cafes."
--From The Various Haunts of Men

Based on the first two books (all of the series I’ve read so far) these are some of the important places in Lafferton and the surrounding countryside (not all are on the map).

The Cathedral which dominates the central part of town and its peaceful grounds are a part of so many stories. It is the scene of weddings, funerals, and some of Freya Graffham's introduction to the people of the town as she joins the choir.

I actually think that this aerial photo of Exeter which Susan Hill describes as being something close to the fictional Lafferton is pretty close to my own mental image of Lafferton.


DCI Simon Serrailler lives in an apartment near the Cathedral. It is actually in a building that is primarily used as businesses and therefore mostly empty when he’s home. His apartment very much fits him. It's a perfect home for a man who seems to be a loner and fairly aloof. The Town Square, Police Station and pubs are all within walking distance.

His triplet sister Cat and her husband and kids live a few miles out of town in a comfortable, casual and homey farmhouse. It's here where Simon retreats for nurturing and to relax with his sister and her family and is a stark contrast to his own apartment. It’s more of a safe zone for him than his parents home.

His parents home (Hallam House) is outside of town and something on a much grander scale. Both of them successful and respected physicians his mother has retired to a life of charity work and restoring the gardens at their large home.

It's a friendly enough little town and the distinct neighborhoods become familiar as the series progresses. There are the working class folks who live in the Dulcie Estates who have distrust for the cops (particularly when he was born as one of their own as is DS Nathan Coates).

The neighborhood where Freya lives in a small artisan's cottage is a grid of twelve streets known as the Apostles for their proximity to the Cathedral.

The places around Lafferton are as much of the story as the crimes that are investigated. The books have strong stories of the people around Simon and their places in his life and in the town are something that Susan Hill manages to express so well in the books.





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Wordless Wednesday #28

>> Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Flower of Unknown Species #2
Ixtapa, Mexico


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The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill

Genre: Mystery / Crime Fiction
Series: #2 in the Simon Serrailler series
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 370
Challenges: None
Source: Purchased New


The Short Version:
British crime fiction that is about far more than the central crime with a lead character who has as many flaws as he does strengths.

Why I Read It:
I read the first book in the series last year after my bookseller friend recommended it. When the Detectives Around the World theme week came along it gave me a good reason to move this second in the series to the top of my TBR list.

The Book
DCI Simon Serrailler is in Venice as the book opens. Still struggling with the events that occurred at the end of The Various Haunts of Men, he is taking a much needed break and focusing on his artwork in a familiar and pleasant place. His holiday is interrupted by a call from his father informing him that his severely mentally and physically handicapped younger sister is seriously ill. When Simon returns to his home town of Lafferton, England he not only has to face his beloved sister’s illness, but he also finds himself investigating the baffling disappearance of a young boy.

The disappearance of nine year old David Angus takes its toll on not only on his family, but also on the police investigating it. At the same time a third storyline follows Andy Gunton’s return to Lafferton after five years in prison. Andy is determined to escape the patterns of his past and build a new life, but is hampered by being back in the same neighborhood and environment that led him to the mistakes that landed him in prison before he was twenty years old.

My Thoughts:
It’s hard for me to classify this as a classic mystery story. The disappearance of David Angus is only one of several main story lines and in fact doesn’t even happen until page 59. The book is about the investigation and the investigators, but it is also about the toll that such a tragedy and uncertainty can have on a family. The parts of the story that dealt with David’s parents and older sister were heart wrenching to read as their family disintegrated under the weight of not knowing what happened to David.

As much as that was agonizing to read, I also followed Andy Gunton’s story line with a feeling of hope that he would be able to avoid the lifestyle that led him to prison, but also with trepidation that somehow his storyline would intersect tragically with the missing boy’s.

The major portion of the book however was given to Simon Serrailler and his family. I’d said of the first book in this series that Simon was almost a peripheral character, and in this second book, the central crime is almost a peripheral storyline. This book brings together a lot of the missing background of Simon Serrailler and his complex relationships with both of his parents and even more the sister he is closest to (He and his sister, Cat are two of a set of triplets)

This is not by any means a hit the ground running non-stop kind of mystery story. This is a slow building network of story and layers that interconnect and while some reach conclusions don’t expect everything to be neatly wrapped up at the end of the book. It is well written crime fiction, but it is also so much more the story of Simon and the people and town of Lafferton.

I do know that I will not wait so long before reading the next book in the series.

Rating 4/5




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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Simon Serrailler Series by Susan Hill

>> Monday, April 12, 2010



As part of this week’s Detectives Around the World activities this week I’m focusing a Confessions of a Serial Reader post on the Simon Serrailler Series by Susan Hill.





I’ve read the first two books in this series and have thoroughly enjoyed them. My bookseller friend says of Susan Hill “she is so good she makes my teeth hurt”. Trust me this is high praise and well deserved.

I read the first book in the series last year and just recently finished the second. I am most definitely looking forward to continuing with this series.

If you like your crime fiction to start off with a bang and go full speed non-stop to the end, then this probably isn’t the series for you. However, if you like your crime fiction to give you characters that you get to know and care about whether they are the victims, the investigators or those who know and love these people then this is a series worth reading. The books are slower paced and while the crime investigation and mystery are the core of the story they are by far not the only focus.

Deputy Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler lives and works in the English cathedral city of Lafferton. According to his father he’s the black sheep of the family because he’s the only one who has not become a physician. Both of his parents are doctors as are his siblings. One of a set of triplets, Simon is very close to his sister Cat who is a family doctor in Lafferton. The third triplet (a brother) lives and works abroad. Cat is a dedicated physician and her devotion to her family and patients is as much a part of these stories as is Simon and his career as a DCI.

The first book in the series is The Various Haunts of Men (my full review is here)
If I hadn’t known that this was the first in a series featuring DCI Simon Serrailler, I would not have guessed, because he actually plays more of a supporting role in much of this book.

The story opens with a disappearance. The Hill is an area of Lafferton where people walk, run, bike, and just enjoy the day. But when people start disappearing with no trace and don’t seem to have anything in common, it begins to take on a possibly sinister feel. Detective Sergeant Freya Graffham has recently transferred from London to the smaller town of Lafferton and takes an interest in the missing persons cases and feels that somehow they are connected.
In both of the books in this series that I have read, the author introduces multiple subplots that take a while to intersect but the characters and excellent writing make the journey through the story an intriguing one. Not every subplot is ultimately related to the crime being investigated. Much of the story also revolves around Simon Serrailler, his family and several recurring characters.
There are a couple of things I think you should know about this series based on what I’ve read in the first two books.
  1. If you like your mysteries to end with all the subplots and loose ends tied up, you probably won’t like this series. This has never bothered me with crime fiction because I think it’s very realistic for things to be left hanging or even unsolved at the end of a case.
  2. Although the author says on her site that the books follow in chronological order, each one can be read independently, I feel it is important that you know that the end of the first book is freely and importantly a part of the story in the second book. Once you read The Pure in Heart, you will know the end of The Various Haunts of Men.
The bottom line for me is that this is a complex series that is not only about the particular central crime of the book, but also and maybe even more about the lead detective, his family and the place where he lives.

If you have enjoyed Tana French’s books I would strongly encourage you to give this series a try.


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Detectives Around the World Week – Simon Serrailler (England)

>> Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts came up with a brilliant idea a few months ago to celebrate the Detectives and their stories that we love to read with a theme week. Thus, Detectives Around the World was born.


The preliminaries have played out over the past few weeks with a World’s Favorite Detective tournament. The pool of contestants has been narrowed down to the final two so get yourself over to Jen’s blog starting tomorrow to cast your vote.

The final two are Harry Bosch and Philip Marlowe – make sure to vote for your favorite over at Jen's Book Thoughts.

As for the rest of the weeks’ festivities, she asked folks to pick a detective and to use this week to review a book featuring that detective as well as additional posts about the series and setting.

I chose DCI Simon Serrailler from the series written by Susan Hill and will be featuring this series here at Whimpulsive this week. 

I encourage you to check out the latest on the Detectives Around the World week by clicking on the image near the top of this post.

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Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

>> Thursday, April 8, 2010



Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

Genre: Mystery / Vampire / Romance
Series:  #6 in the Sookie Stackhouse series
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 324
Challenges: Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge #6
Source: Purchased New



The Short Version:
Sookie’s learns some truths that have been hidden and is forced to deal with a few things she’d rather not as well as a few things (Quinn the shapeshifting Bengal tiger) that she doesn’t mind dealing with at all.

Why I Read It:
It’s the next in a series that I’m having fun with and trying to finish through book 9 by the end of June for the challenge. 

The Book:
With any series it’s difficult to discuss plot without giving spoilers to the earlier books so if you haven’t read the others yet, skip down to My Thoughts.

Sookie’s presence is needed in New Orleans and she’s not happy about it at all.  She needs to go there to clear out her deceased cousin’s apartment and deal with the estate such as it is that her cousin has left to her.  At the same time, the Queen of Louisiana has demanded Sookie’s presence at an upcoming Vampire conference.  She’d desperately like to get out of that obligation but it’s not looking likely.

Sookie starts dating and is joined in New Orleans by the sexy Quinn (who occasionally shape shifts into a Bengal tiger). The problem is that they appear to be the intended victims of a renegade pack of werewolves.  Just getting cousin Hadley’s apartment cleaned out and home to Bon Temps alive is soon Sookie’s only goal.

Along the way Sookie learns the painful truth about some things.

My Thoughts:
I liked that the emphasis of this story shifted a bit from the Bill/Eric/Sookie storyline.  Quinn is an entirely sexy and interesting character.  I love that Claudine the Fairy is becoming more of the story too.  She’s a great character.

This series continues to be just a fun and enjoyable mixture of romance, vampire and other supernatural creature story and mystery.  It’s a delightful mix and with each book Charlaine Harris introduces a few new twists and supernatural elements while keeping the vampire lore and story moving forward.

Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #27

>> Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Intertwined Trees
Ixtapa, Mexico




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Audiobook - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

>> Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Audio)

Genre: Fiction
Series: #3 in the Harry Potter series
Publication Date: 1999
Read by: Jim Dale
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #17, The Harry Potter Reading Challenge #3
Source: Library

The Short Version:
I think this is the one that’s a real turning point on the re-read cycle because so much is introduced that is important in the later books

Why I Read It:
I’m still enjoying listening to these as a method of re-reading.  I’m not sure I’ll finish them all by the challenge deadline, but that doesn’t really matter.

The Book:
As I’ve said before on the re-read via audio posts, I’m not going to bother with any kind of plot summary. By now you either know it or you don’t want to know.


My Thoughts:
So I just can’t help but picture Emma Thompson from the movies as Professor Trelawney.  She so perfectly fits the image I had in my head before I even saw the movie that I think she only served to enhance my own mental image.  As a side note, that’s the case for most of the movie roles at least for the movies I’ve seen so far.  I haven’t encountered any yet that I’d call a major casting mistake.  I haven’t seen any of the movies beyond Goblet of Fire, though.

I said it above and will restate that I think this book serves as a major turning point in the story.  There is a tremendous amount of information, storylines and characters introduced in this book that become only more important later on.  Even though Voldemort doesn’t make any direct appearance in this one, his history and Harry’s history are developed quite a bit.

I still love Jim Dale’s reading with one exception.  The Hermione in my head is not nearly as whiny as his Hermione.


Rating 5/5

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Lifeguard by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

>> Monday, April 5, 2010




Lifeguard by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 401
Challenges: None
Source: Purchased Used





The Short Version:
Young Ned Kelly has his future derailed when he agrees to help out some long time friends with a ‘sure thing’ heist and ends up the only survivor and prime suspect in a series of crimes he didn’t actually commit.

Why I Read It:
I’d slogged through my last few books slower than normal due to lack of quality reading time. I needed something fast paced that was quick reading mental popcorn. It was the perfect time to pull a Patterson off the shelf.

The Book:
Ned Kelly is working several part time jobs in Florida. He meets the woman of his dreams and starts thinking of a future with her even though they’re clearly from two very different lifestyles. But first, Ned has promised to help a group of friends with a history of small time crime pull off what they’ve been promised is an art heist that will leave them all rich. Ned doesn’t even have to do the actual heist because his part is to create the diversion.

Things go bad and then even worse when not only does the art theft go horribly wrong, but Ned is on the run and suspected of murder as well as the theft. The FBI is after him, but so is someone else. Is it the person who sabotaged the plan or is it someone even more dangerous?

FBI agent Ellie Shurtleff is part of the Art Theft and Fraud department and is there due more to her knowledge of art than her crime fighting talent. She’s not taken seriously by the other agents and law enforcement types, but of course, she’s on the right track in this investigation.

Can Ellie and Ned keep themselves alive long enough to find the truth?

My Thoughts:
This was a typical Patterson book. It was fast paced with plenty of twists and turns with a nice blend of predictability and surprises. The ending seemed a bit rushed after the long buildup, though. I’ve enjoyed the Patterson/Gross collaborations before and look forward to the others that I haven’t read yet.

This one wasn’t as bloody as some of the Alex Cross or Women’s Murder Club books can get at times. It was more of a suspense story with Ned on the run from the law as well as whoever set up and or sabotaged the art theft.

There were a couple of minor ‘things that made me go hmmmmm’. Ned’s job as a lifeguard is barely mentioned and is not even his primary job at the beginning of the book so the title seemed silly. Also the plural of adidias (the company does not use a capital A) is adidas, so the mention of “a pair of beat-up Addidases” on page 173 made me giggle and suspect an editor who has never shopped for athletic shoes.

Nevertheless, it was a fun man on the run to clear his name kind of story.

Rating 3/5

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Hangin' with Howie

>> Sunday, April 4, 2010

Some photos just can't work for Wordless Wednesday because they require a caption or explanation or excuse or defense or . . . .


"I wonder if they've put anything new in here since the last time I was up here and opened it."

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Secondhand Smoke by Karen E. Olson

>> Friday, April 2, 2010


Secondhand Smoke by Karen E. Olson

Genre: Mystery
Series: #2 Annie Seymour series
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 259
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #16
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Foul mouthed New Haven crime reporter, Annie Seymour investigates a suspicious fire at a long time favorite restaurant in her neighborhood.

Why I Read It:
I read the first book in this series (Sacred Cows) a couple of years ago and liked it well enough to keep the three follow up books on my TBR list. I’m starting to see some reviews about the author’s new Tattoo Shop series but want to finish up this series first

The Book:
Annie Seymour wakes up to the sound of sirens and the smell of smoke. A longtime favorite neighborhood restaurant is in flames. Annie grabs her notebook and starts to get the story. When a body is found in the remains of the restaurant, the story gets complicated. The restaurant owner is missing and his widow has hired Private Detective Vinny DeLucia to find him.

Annie is torn between her job as a reporter and her personal connections to the victims and perhaps the suspects. While she’s known these people for years, she is still seen as an outsider and this is reinforced by her job to investigate and report the story.

Her personal life is even more complicated. Having recently broken up with the lead detective, she’s also got some unresolved relationship issues with Vinny. With all three of them investigating the same case it’s feeling a bit crowded on the trail to the truth.

Then Annie’s dad comes back to town from Vegas. Her mom is dating Annie’s publisher and is also the lawyer for at least one of the suspects. And what about the chickens??

My Thoughts:
Lots of characters are a bit difficult to keep track of (particularly in the beginning), but the pace of the story keeps things moving. It’s not as slapstick as Stephanie Plum, but it’s not really a hard boiled investigative reporter / detective story either.

It lands somewhere in the middle and is an enjoyable lighter mystery series. There are only 2 left in this series so I plan on eventually finishing off the Annie Seymour books and moving on to the author’s second series about a tattoo shop in Vegas.

Rating 3/5

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