1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber

>> Tuesday, August 31, 2010


1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Fiction
Series: #10 in the Cedar Cove series
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 366
Challenges: none
Source: eGalley provided by publisher through NetGalley
(Today is the release day for this book)


The Short Version:
Checking in with the residents of Cedar Cove finds some relationships teetering on the edge and a bit of a mystery about some old letters found under the floorboards.

Why I Read It:
It was time to catch up on this series.

The Book
In this 10th visit to the small Washington town of Cedar Cove, Macomber once again takes existing characters through the next few months of their lives. Familiar characters return as well as a few new acquaintences.

Mack McAfee and Mary Jo Wyse are on a mission to find out who wrote the love letters they found under the floorboards of their duplex. They were written in 1944 by a soldier preparing for the D-Day invasion. Will they be able to identify this man and the sweetheart to whom he was writing? Did he survive and why were his letters left under the floor?

Mary Jo’s brother Linc and his new bride are happy, but his new father-in-law certainly isn’t. Will he succeed in breaking up Linc's marriage?

Gallery owner Will Jefferson is determined to forge a relationship with artist Shirley Bliss and just can’t imagine she might not want the same thing.

These and other friends from Cedar Cove continue the stories begun in earlier books in the series.

My Thoughts:
Reading this series is like sitting down for a cup of tea with an old friend and catching up on the goings on around town. It’s a series that takes a slight focus shift with every book to concentrate on a handful of people from among the many that series followers have met through the years. There are always a few appearances by old friends, often just enough to keep the reader up to date with storylines that may now be background to those in the current book. It really feels like visiting and having a chance to catch up on the latest news.

In almost every book there is a very minor mystery that is solved. This time around it’s finding out who really wrote the letters that Mack and Mary Jo found under the floor and whether or not they or relatives are alive who might want the letters. That storyline allows a bit of a history lesson for the younger generation of characters in the series who are a couple of generations removed from those who experienced World War II.

As usual some of the outcomes of the storylines are quite predictable, but Macomber doesn’t let every story reach a happy ending, at least not right away. By the end of the book some relationships are happily moving forward and others may be in for some troubled patches ahead. Of course, we’ll have to wait for next fall and the 11th book in the series to find out what happens next.



Rating 3/5

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (spoiler free thoughts)

>> Friday, August 27, 2010


Yup – I’ve read it, but I’m not going to post a review because it’s too early for a book with so many people still on long long library waiting lists. I’ve never read a hotly anticipated book on its release day before, but I’ve been looking forward to this one for months and didn’t want to be spoiled myself so I read it right away.

Normally I don’t hesitate to post a review of a book shortly before or after its release date, but for this one I’m going to hold back. The book was embargoed and no advance copies were available and given the anticipation and potential fear of spoilers I’m going to wait to do a full review style post for after I re-read it. Yes, I’ll re-read it. What I’ll probably do is get the audio version and re-read it that way.

So – what did I think? I thought it was a well done finale to the trilogy. I didn’t really go into it with any expectations or hopes for how the story would play out. I knew that Suzanne Collins would do things that I thought were predictable and that she would also surprise me and I was right on both counts. In my opinion there were just too many possible ways for the story to proceed after the ending of Catching Fire so I didn’t spend a lot of time speculating. I didn’t have an opinion on the “Team Peeta” or “Team Gale” question either. I didn’t do much guessing and have just been counting the days to the release date ever since I turned the final page of Catching Fire last September.

Now that I’ve read it I’m looking forward to reading reviews and discussions because I’m sure there are a variety of opinions of this book. Simply because this series has been so popular and the final installment so highly anticipated I’m sure the discussions will be nearly as entertaining as the series itself.

Well done Suzanne Collins. Well done.

I may change my rating when I re-read it but for now my initial feeling is 4 stars. It wasn't completely spectacular, but it was a good solid ending to the trilogy.

Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #47

>> Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Husbands Waiting Area
Florence, Oregon



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Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

>> Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Fiction
Series: #6 in the Blossom Street series
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 398
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #34
Source: Library ebook




The Short Version:
A “knit to quit’ class at a Seattle yarn shop brings together a diverse group of people who want to use knitting to help them quit something or start over in some way.

Why I Read It:
This summer has put me in a mood to alternate fast paced and fluff on my reading menu. I'm on a bit of a mission to catch up on my Debbie Macomber series.


The Book:
When Lydia Goetz offers a ‘Knit to Quit” class at her Seattle shop called A Good Yarn, she hopes to attract customers who would like to use knitting as a way of assisting their efforts to quit a bad habit or make changes by relaxing or diverting them. The class ends up being small, but the things the members want to quit are big issues. Phoebe wants to quit her ex-fiance and move on with her life without getting coerced back into a relationship with him. Alix wants to quit smoking because she and her husband want to start a family but she needs to stop smoking before she can get pregnant. Bryan “Hutch” Hutchinson is under strict orders from his doctor to reduce his stress level or he’ll be dead at a young age just like his father. He’s shocked when his doctors recommends knitting as a relaxation technique but since it’s also good therapy for an injured thumb, he’s willing to give it a try.

As usual in the Blossom Street series, the stories include the continuing lives of familiar characters who have been in some or all of the previous books.

Lydia herself is busy with the yarn shop and teaching the class, but she’s also looking forward to moving forward with adopting a child. She and her husband have agreed to adopt an infant, but in the meantime the social worker who is helping them has asked them to take in a pre-teen girl as a foster child for a short term.

Anne Marie Roche who runs the book shop down the street is settling into life with her own adopted daughter and looking for a house that will allow them to move out of the small apartment over the bookstore, but when a mysterious man starts showing up, she has concerns that may not be unfounded.

My Thoughts:
It’s a perfect quick, optimistic comfort read type of book which was just what I was in the mood for. Macomber introduces a few new characters, but recurring characters from the Blossom Street series make their appearances and continue their ongoing stories.

This series is predictable in that I knew it was all going to work out and wrapped up by the end, but it’s a pleasant enough visit to the neighborhood that I didn’t care. Yes it’s unrealistic and a tear jerker at times, but that’s pretty much what I expect and want when I pick up one of Macomber’s books. She’s who I turn to when I want an enjoyable diversion.


Rating 3/5

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No Mercy by John Gilstrap

>> Friday, August 20, 2010


No Mercy by John Gilstrap

Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Series: #1 in the Jonathan Grave series
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 443
Challenges: none
Source: Purchased Used


The Short Version:
Former Delta Force member now retired from the military with a free-lance hostage rescue business, Jonathan Grave rescues the kid, but soon finds out that the mission is far from over.

Why I Read It:
I have been a fan of John Gilstrap ever since his first book Nathan’s Run blew me away when I read it over ten years ago. I’ve read all of his books since then.

The Book
Jonathan Grave is independently wealthy, ex-military, still in love with his ex-wife, loyal to his closest friends and by the way makes his living rescuing hostages without the help/interference of law enforcement and those pesky rules they have to follow.

The story opens with the attempted rescue of a kidnapped college student. Surprises come along fairly quickly and just when it seems that the mission is over, Jonathan discovers that the fallout from his actions has come back far to close to home.

It’s hard to say much more about the plot without giving away too much ahead of time so I’ll just say that the mission isn’t over and it gets far more complicated before it is.

My Thoughts:
This time around Gilstrap combines his usual ‘family or innocent individual in peril’ scenario with a bit of near military operation of the free-lance hostage rescue business run by the hero Jonathan Grave. It worked well for me to see him move this direction in his storytelling. It combined the things I liked about his books with a bit of Jack Reacher style ex-military hero in action. Unlike Jack Reacher, Jonathan “Digger” Grave is not a loner. He’s got a successful business and a couple of close partners. He’s also got the convenient combination of a close friend who is both priest and psychologist and believe me, he can use both.

The kidnapping that turns out to be much more scenario was interesting and had some surprising twists and turns as it played out. The addition of the local sheriff (who just happens to be a former FBI agent) was a teensy bit convenient to the plot, but ultimately a good addition to the mix despite a bit of predictability in how that part of the story played out.

I was pleased to discover that there is a second Jonathan Grave book out and I’ve already got it and hope to read it within the next few months.

I liked the way the main characters histories interconnected and it made their closeness and camaraderie believable. Grave’s primary field partner is a great combination of scary and funny that I truly enjoyed.

It’s a decent suspense thriller type of book and while not entirely plausible, just a fun roller coaster of an adventure. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.



Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #46

>> Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yachats, Oregon




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The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

>> Tuesday, August 17, 2010



The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 339
Challenges: none
Source: Purchased New




The Short Version:
Partly the story of Michael Oher who went from the poorest neighborhood in Memphis to the home of a wealthy family who helped him succeed in both sports and live and partly the story of how the game of football has changed over the years.

Why I Read It:
I’m just itching for the start of college football season and needed a fix and I had saved this book for just when that mood hit.

The Book:
Michael Oher is now a professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens. His story through his first year of college is told in this book. Along with the story of Michael Oher is the story of how the game of professional football has changed over the years and how the impact of those changes in football offensive and defensive strategy have trickled down through college and high school football.

Michael Oher grew up poor and without a real home in Memphis. When he was a teenager a man he’d stayed with brought Michael and another boy to the attention of a small private high school. This man had promised his mother that he would see that his own son would have an opportunity for a better life and while he was at it, he took young Michael along.

Michael didn’t turn into an instant sports star at his new school. First he had to meet even the minimal academic requirements. For a young boy who had only intermittently attended school the whole idea of learning in a classroom setting and taking much less passing tests was completely foreign. When he left school for the day, he rarely knew where he would sleep each night. He’d stay with friends and schoolmates and wear the same clothes to school day after day.

When Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy became aware of Michael and his living situation, they stepped in to help. First by making sure he had lunches paid for at school, then with buying him appropriate clothes and eventually taking him into their home and family and seeing that he go the academic tutoring he needed in order to have a shot a future through his football skills.

This book is not just about Michael Oher and the Tuohy family. It’s also about the game of football. Interspersed with the story of Michael and the Tuohy’s is a football history lesson. The game of football is every evolving as coaches and team management seek ways to take the advantage on the field. In the 1980’s and 1990’s the changes in the game emphasized the passing game and made the safety and protection of the quarterback more crucial than ever to a team’s success. Because of this, the offensive line positions became more specialized and the position of left tackle protecting a quarterback’s blind side evolved into one of the most important positions on the football field. This is the position that Michael Oher plays.

My Thoughts:
I’m a huge college football fan. I’m counting the days till kickoff on September 4th. This was the perfect book for me to read now when I need some football in my life. Because I love football, I enjoyed the parts of this book that are about the history of football just as much as I enjoyed reading Michael Oher’s story. As soon as I finished it I handed it to The Hubster to read next. I think he’ll enjoy it too. Based on what I’ve heard about the movie I wasn’t sure if it was a book he’d like, but if you have a football fan in your life, you can feel good about handing this book to them without it being tossed aside as a sappy rich family saves the poor kid story.

Before you ask, I haven’t seen the movie. I do plan to eventually, but I’ll wait until after The Hubster reads this book and we’ll watch it together.

Rating 4/5

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Hangin' With Howie

>> Sunday, August 15, 2010

He prefers to sleep with a pillow.





even when the pillow is a chunk of wood carved into the shape of a seal.


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The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder

>> Friday, August 13, 2010


The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder

Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 471
Challenges: None
Source: Purchased Used


The Short Version:
Two stories play out in 1990 Japan and 1937 China as a young Englishwoman and an aging Chinese scholar seek the same answers for different reasons.

Why I Read It:
I’d thoroughly enjoyed Mo Hayder’s first two books despite the disturbing nature of parts of them and am working my way through all of her books.

The Book
In 1937 Nanking China the invading Japanese army perpetrated a massacre the extent of which is still questioned and a source of controversy to this day.

In 1990 Japan a young Englishwoman named Grey with an odd past is in search of a film clip that is rumored to exist from the time of the Nanking massacre. She seeks out an aging Chinese professor who survived Nanking and clearly has secrets he wants to keep from her. Broke and with no place to stay, Grey meets up with a mysterious American man who gets her a job as a hostess in the nightclub where he works and a room where he lives.

Add to the mix a wheelchair bound elderly gangster with a scary nurse who may or may not have found the secret to immortality and let the stories spin and spiral together.

My Thoughts:
What I expect from Mo Hayder after reading her first two books is a good suspenseful book that may or may not have an easy to figure out mystery. The answer to the mystery is not necessarily the payoff in her books, because the trails through the story she weaves are just so intriguing, disturbing and nearly hypnotic that the journey might be better than the destination.

This is all that and more. The story moves back and forth between 1990 Tokyo and 1937 Nanking. As Grey tries to find out if the professor really has film she wants, flashbacks tell of his life before and during the Japanese takeover of Nanking. There are some fairly disturbing and grotesque elements, but Hayder’s books in general are not for the faint of heart.

The main characters all have secrets that are doled out a little at a time. About halfway through the book I’d figured out the likely ending, but I didn’t care. The characters are all damaged, some in ways that are explained and others are left a bit mysterious. The tension and suspense builds in the two main storylines with some seriously scary folk involved in the outcomes of both of them. The atmosphere is heavy and well developed in both settings and despite the moving back and forth I felt immersed in both 1937 Nanking and 1990 Tokyo.

It’s a disturbing, haunting and suspenseful book and if you can handle the tough parts, Hayder is a great storyteller.


Rating 4/5

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Wordless Wednesday #45

>> Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Big Spring Creek
near Mt. Adams, Washington




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92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

>> Tuesday, August 10, 2010



92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Fiction
Series: #9 in the Cedar Cove series
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 378
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #33
Source: Library




The Short Version:
Life in Cedar Cove, Washington continues with some returning characters and some new ones as their lives and stories continue to intertwine in a small northwest town.

Why I Read It:
I enjoy this series for its feel good outcomes and it’s setting in an area of the country near where I live. I’d had it planned for a vacation book for a while because they make a great summertime light read.

The Book:
Since this is a series it’s difficult to talk about without mentioning things that have happened in the first eight books. I’ll keep this spoiler free for this book though. If you don’t want to accidentally read something that may have happened before this book, skip down to My Thoughts.

Every book in this series focuses primarily on one person or family. This time the main story is about Sheriff Troy Davis and his relationship with his former high school sweetheart Faith Beckwith. They’ve had their issues since Faith moved back to town and at the beginning of the book they have backed off the romance a bit. It’s clear that neither of them is happy with their choice to just be friends, but can they keep it that way?

It’s difficult for them to avoid each other when Faith’s rental home is repeatedly broken into and vandalized. There seem to be no real clues as to who is doing this and why they seem to have something personal against Faith. Troy is as determined to solve this as he is to figure out his relationship with Faith.

At the same time the headline making local story is keeping him just as busy investigating as he is managing the media and the mayor. Twenty to thirty year old human remains were found in a nearby cave by a couple of local teenagers. There are no unsolved missing person cases that fit the time frame or the remains. The media wants to sensationalize the story and the Mayor wants to make sure it stays quiet and doesn’t affect his plans to promote tourism in Cedar Cove.

As these stories play out several returning characters have their storylines continue and some new people are introduced that will keep this series going.

My Thoughts:
This series is one that I enjoy picking up when I need a comfort read or something light between darker or heavier books. It was perfect for vacation. I enjoy the continuing stories and the way that characters continue throughout the series. What make it nice is that there are also new characters or the focus shifts to another family with each book so it’s not just the same handful of people in every single book.

By this point in the series I feel like I’m catching up with old friends when I pick up the next book. It’s not all feel good sappy happy stuff, but even when things don’t work out all happy, Macomber leaves the reader feeling like it’s worked out the way it should be.

Rating 3/5

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Wordless Wednesday #44

>> Wednesday, August 4, 2010

St. Johns Bridge archway
Portland, Oregon



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Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen

>> Monday, August 2, 2010


Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #2 in the Molly Murphy series
Publication Date: 2002
Pages: 391
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #32
Source: Library


The Short Version:
Recent immigrant from Ireland, Molly Murphy tries to establish herself as a private investigator in 1901 New York and her first case ends up being the death of her teacher and boss.

Why I Read It:
I’d read the first in this series last year and enjoyed the mix of historical fiction and not quite cozy mystery. It made a good blend of the two genres that fit my mood.

The Book
In 1901, Molly Murphy has moved beyond the past events that brought her to New York from Ireland and is ready to move on with her life. Although it’s not considered a proper job for a woman what she really wants to do is be a private investigator. In need of income she agrees to take a job as a companion to an elderly woman. Although that position doesn’t work out for reasons that tug at Molly’s heart, it does lead her to meet the man who could become her mentor and teacher in the investigation business.

Unfortunately before Paddy Riley can really accept Molly as more than a cleaning person and office assistant he’s killed. Despite the apparent dismissal of the case by the New York police department as a gang hit job, Molly is determined to find out who killed Paddy and why. Even Molly’s friend, Captain Daniel Sullivan doesn’t seem to think much of Molly’s efforts.

Her inquisitiveness along with her determination leads Molly to the artists and intellectuals in Greenwich Village and more questions than answers to her efforts to untangle Paddy Riley’s notes of the cases he was investigating when he was killed.

My Thoughts:
This is a bit of a cozy mystery, although I suspect that before long Molly will truly be working as an investigator. At this point she’s still sort of trying to do the job she wants. There’s enough coincidence and implausible happenings to make it less than a hardboiled mystery series, but still enjoyable.

Molly is determined and intelligent and just independent enough to not want to play the traditional woman’s roles of her time. At the same time she makes enough silly moves and obvious mistakes that the book remains light. Granted, she’s just starting out and learning the job, but I’ll have to see how she develops in the next book in the series.

The setting of turn of the century New York is vividly portrayed in both the descriptions of the places and people. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author paints the environment around Molly. The historical fiction aspect of the series is quite enjoyable and a fun period piece about New York in a time of drastic changes.

The series has been nice so far, and I’ll be reading the next one before long. They make a nice lighter quick read to have in the mix.


Rating 3/5

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