Hangin' With Howie

>> Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sometimes he sleeps like Marty McFly


One front paw over his face, the other sticking out from under his backside.

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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Ridiculously Long Ones

>> Friday, July 29, 2011



Looking at all of my series I’ve listed on my FictFacts page, the average length of series turns out to be 9.26 books. Eighty percent of them are under 15 books. There are a handful in the 15 to 20 books range.

Then there are the ridiculously long series. Today I’m going to take a look at the series on my list that are (as of today) 20 or more books.
(Images are the most recent book in the series that I’ve read)

The China Bayles Series by Susan Wittig Albert
Last read – Bloodroot
 Bloodroot by Susan Wittig Albert
Current number of books in the series: 20
How many I’ve read: 10
Odds of ever catching up or completing the series: Probably not. I tend to read one or two of these a year and the author is still adding to the series.


The Dirk Pitt Series by Clive Cussler
(the last few books co-written with his son Dirk)
Last Read - Black Wind
 The Missing Ink by Karen E. Olson
Current number of books in the series: 21
How many I’ve read: 18
Odds of ever catching up or completing the series: It could actually happen. Even though the writing and the stories have both moved on to a second generation, I’m still enjoying them. It will depend on how often a new one comes out since the books lately have been coming out every other year rather than every year.


The Eve Dallas Series by J.D. Robbi
Last Read - Purity in Death
 Purity in Death by J.D. Robb
Current number of books in the series: 34 (there are more if you count the short stories and novellas published in anthologies but I’m skipping those and only reading the full length books)
How many I’ve read: 18
Odds of ever catching up or completing the series: Only if I outlive Nora Roberts by at least 10 years.


The Moreland Dynasty Series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Last Read - The Founding
 The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Current number of books in the series: 34
How many I’ve read: 1
Odds of ever catching up or completing the series: Unless I can get my hands on that time turner that Dumbledore loaned Hermione the odds on me finishing or catching up with this series stand at

when Hell freezes over




What about you? Is there a number that makes a series ‘too long’ for you to even bother reading the first book? What long series have you stuck with through the years? What’s the longest series on your current series list?

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Audiobook – Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

>> Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Genre: Mystery
Series: #6 in the Inspector Armand Gamache series
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Publication Date: 2010
Read by: Ralph Cosham
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Three stories intertwine as events of the past are sorted through and laid to rest while Chief Inspector Gamache and his assistant Jean Guy Beauvior both conduct investigations and recover from their physical and emotional wounds.

Why I Read It:
This is one of my favorite series and listening to this one puts me in the unfortunate position of having to wait for the next one to be released. I’ll be stalking the library website to get on the list early for the audio edition.

The Book:
As this book opens it’s clear that both Chief Inspector Gamache and Jen Guy Beauvior are recovering from something horrible that has happened but is not fully explained yet. They are both on leave from work at the Surete du Quebec Homicide division. Gamache has come to Quebec City to stay with an old friend and mentor, while Jean Guy is home but restless and at the same time battling his own demons of memory and pain.

Gamache is doing some research related to a longtime interest in Canadian history. He’s spending time at the Literary and Historical Society in the English language area of the old city. When a noted archeologist is found murdered in the Society’s basement, Gamache becomes a somewhat unofficial consultant to the local police and involved int the investigation. The dead man was considered a bit of a nut who was obsessed with finding the body of Samuel de Chmplain who founded Quebec.

Gamnache is still haunted by the events that occurred in the previous book and begins to think he may have been too hasty in the decisions he made investigating that murder in Three Pines. He asks Beauvoir to go to the village and revisit the evidence and the case.

In between these two investigations are flashbacks of the events that put these two men on such fragile ground both physically and emotionally. As they proceed with their investigations they also work through what has happened in an effort to put themselves back together and lay the past to rest.


My Thoughts:
I say it every time but this is the best book in the series so far. The ending of the previous book had left me feeling a bit unsettled so I was pleased to see Gamache asking Jean Guy to look into that case again. I also liked the larger role for Jean Guy Beauviour in this one. He’s such an interesting character to me. I have a literary crush on Inspector Gamache, but I’m incredibly fascinated with Jean Guy and the way his character has developed over the series. To have him on his own in Three Pines brings out a whole different side of him. The scenes with he and Ruth the surly poet of the village are at the same time humorous and touching. The interaction between those two was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book.

I loved the way that the traumatic events of the recent past unfold so gradually in the memories of both Gamache and Beauvoir throughout the book. Near the end I was practically holding my breath as the story was finally told. The tension was thick and the feelings both men revealed as it was told were tremendously well done by the author.

Although I’m a real stickler for reading series books in order, I will admit that for most of this series you could read them out of order and be just fine. In this case however, I think you’d be missing a lot if you haven’t read at least the previous book The Brutal Telling.

I know that the next book in the series is due out at the end of next month, but I’ll wait for the audio edition to be listed at my library. Having listened to all of this series I cannot imagine reading them instead of having Ralph Cosham read them to me. He IS Chief Inspector Gamache to me and I wouldn’t consider any other format for this series.



Rating 4.5/5



SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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Wordless Wednesday #95

>> Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vineyard at Trium Wines
Talent, Oregon


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Short Story Monday – Two More from The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, July 25, 2011



I’m continuing with the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oDH3gB4DQbI/Tf7FMB4T96I/AAAAAAAAHDo/sPTj8eIjnmM/s400/Thirteen%2BProblems.jpg

Motive v. Opportunity and The Thumb Mark of St. Peter by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins

I read two more stories of The Tuesday Night Club this week. I’m enjoying this collection quite a bit.

In Motive v. Opportunity, Mr. Petherick the solicitor of the group takes a turn presenting a mystery.

His client, Simon Clode was a wealthy man who lost his only son in World War 1, but his orphaned grand-daughter came to live with him and became the light of his life. Tragically she died as a child. He never got over her death and even though he helped out the adult children of his recently deceased brother, he remained grief stricken over his grandchild’s death. He began seeking out spiritualists in an attempt to contact the child. An American spiritualist by the name of Mrs. Spragg began to have a great deal of influence over Mr. Clode. When Mr. Petherick was summoned to update Mr. Clode’s will, he was uncertain but could not claim that his client was not of sound mind to make the changes he desired. When Mr. Clode dies, the unsealing of the will reveals the mystery. After reviewing the motives and opportunities the suspects had, Mr. Petherick turns to the members of the club to get their ideas as to what the truth of the mystery might be. Of course, Miss Marple is correct.

This time around I had this one figured out right along with Miss Marple.

In The Thumb Mark of St. Peter it’s Miss Marple's turn to present a mystery to the club.

She tell the story of a niece who married a man with a dangerous temper and a history of insanity in his family. She moved away and wasn’t in close contact with her aunt for many years. When the niece’s husband suddenly dies, Miss Marple offered to go and stay with her but the offer was declined. A few months later Miss Marple received a letter from Mabel begging her to come visit because Mabel was feeling shunned by her neighbors but had to remain living in the home because she was not responsible for the care of her aging and somewhat unstable father-in-law. When Miss Marple arrived she discovered Mabel was the subject of rampant rumors in the village that she had poisoned her husband. Looking into the situation further, Miss Marple discovered that there were many actions and evidence to make this rumor possible, but believing in the innocence of her niece she keeps asking questions. When Miss Marple gets to the point in the story where she figured out what had really happened to Mabel’s husband, none of the members of the club are able to figure it out.

Miss Marple was way ahead of me in this story. I was definitely lacking in some of the knowledge and experience to make the deductions she was able to make.

I’ve now read 6 of the 13 stories in this collection and I’m eager to read more.




Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: June 23, 2011

>> Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend Update

This week:
I finished Buried by Mark Billingham and although I haven’t caught up with this series before the US release of the latest book Bloodline, I’m still enjoying it. The series just gets better and better with each book. I started The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller. This is an interesting book that is set in post World War 1 England. Fans of the Maisie Dobbs series might want to take a look at this one. Unfortunately I had another busy week with not enough reading time so I’m still in the middle of it.

On audio I Finished Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny and Oh Wow what a wonderful book. The author definitely takes the Armand Gamache series to a whole new level with this one. An extra on this audio was an interview with the author. One comment from that interview really caught my attention and I posted it earlier this week over at Out on a Whim. I loved this comment from Louise Penny.
From Bury Your Dead (audio) by Louise Penny (interview with Laura Wilson)
Every now and then I get an email from . . . someone saying 'could you put a map in the books or pictures of what the homes look like?' . . . I drive around our area in Quebec and say 'well that could be the old Hadley House or that could be Ruth's house or that could be . . .'
I think should I take a picture and put it up on the website for intstance and I think no, that . . .
Reading is at least as creative as writing; that I do half the work. . . I trust the readers or the listeners to do the rest of it. To see it in their heads. I think to take it that next step would be a mistake.
This is exactly why I don't watch book trailers or participate in the 'who should play ___ in the movie discussions. I like to let my head create the characters based on the author's words.

My new audiobook is Trespass by Rose Tremain. I’ve heard good things about both the book and the audio production and so far it’s very good.


Other than books and reading:

Well not really since there’s not much that happened this week other than work and stuff related to books and reading.


One nice thing about living in Portland is that when my bookish friends are in the area they often head to Powell's Books. Last Friday Les from Lesley’s Book Nook was in town but schedules just didn’t work out for us to meet which made me sad. Les is one of the first few book bloggers I ‘met’ online after I started this blog and I was so disappointed to not be downtown that day. Someday we’ll manage to meet up in person.

On Saturday the stars did manage to align and I was able to meet Natasha from Maw Books Blog when she and her family stopped in on their way through the area. I always enjoy having a reason to head to the main store of Powell’s and meeting someone I’ve known only online for several years is such a treat.

I took a bunch of pictures while I was there and someday soon I hope to carve out some time to put together a post about Powells and my love for my local indie bookstore.


Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

The Bridge to Never Land by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
 The Bridge to Never Land  by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

The fifth book in the Peter and the Starcatchers series is due out in August. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the audio is read by Jim Dale. He’s been a delight as a reader for the rest of the series. If he’s not reading the audio version, I’ll read the book instead of listening to it.


Purchased this week:

I’m incapable of leaving Powell’s without books. This is what came home with me last week.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
 The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Since we were going to be watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 that evening, how could I pass this up once I saw it on the display table?


The Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two by Rick Riordan
 The Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two by Rick Riordan
I know I already have book one on the shelf and I haven’t read it yet. I’m just planning ahead.


Very Good Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
 Very Good Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
This is the one I knew I wanted to get once I knew I was headed to Powell’s. I loved my first Wodehouse book and have wanted to read this one for a while, but I didn’t like the version the library had. I was glad to find a trade paperback edition.
The other two purchases were total impulse buys because I was browsing the kids section with Natasha.


I had a reality check meeting with my library books yesterday. It was time to admit that some of what I had out was just not going to get read before they were due. I returned all but these two to the library but I promised all those I returned that they would be back to visit soon.
Library Stack




Have a great weekend!

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84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

>> Thursday, July 21, 2011

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanffi

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 1970
Pages: 97
Source: Library

The Short Version:
This is an utterly charming correspondence between a writer in New York and the staff of a London bookshop between 1949 and 1969

Why I Read It:
This little book has been on my TBR list for ages and for some reason I kept putting it off. Now that I’ve read a library copy I need to buy one to keep.

The Book
In 1949 Helene Hanff sends a letter to the Marks & Co. Booksellers shop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. She saw their ad in The Saturday Review of Literature noting that they specialized in out of print books. She had a list of books she wanted and wondered if they could help her.

This was the beginning of a correspondence lasting nearly twenty years between Hanff and the employees of the bookshop in London. Most of the communication was between Hanff and the store manager Frank Doel, but later it expanded to include other workers at the shop as well as Doel’s wife.

A simple inquiry about books becomes a long lasting friendship built around a shared love of beautiful books. After getting to know Frank through his letters, Hanff is soon sending packages to the shop to be shared among the employees. With post war rationing still in effect, she is able to provide some luxuries as simple as raisins and eggs.

While Hanff makes repeated promises to visit the shop in person, her career as a writer and various other circumstances result in several of her friends actually visiting the shop while she repeatedly has to alter her travel plans.

My Thoughts:
This book was a pure delight. My review is nearly as long as the book but I have so much I loved about it. The personalities of Helene Hanfff and Frank Doel come through in their letters so clearly. Her wit and straightforwardness are such a contrast to the very proper book shop manager. When one of the workers at the shop writes to Hanff, it brings in a wonderfully fun and broader picture of the shop and its workers.

As the years go by the casual mentions of world and political events are interspersed with the growing long distance friendships and the core of the basis for that friendship. The love and appreciation of beautiful literature and books is always a part and this book clearly demonstrates that it can be the basis for long and deeply beautiful friendships.

There are moments that are toiuching, delightful, charming, funny and sad throughout this book.

These are a few that made me smile:

I wish you hadn't been so over-courteous about putting the inscription on a card instead of the fly-leaf. It's the bookseller coming out in you all, you were afraid you'd decrease its value. You would have increased it for the present owner. (And possibly for the future owner. I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else has turned, and reading passages some one long gone has called my attention to.)

It looks too new and pristine ever to have been read by anyone else, but it has been: it keeps falling open at the most delightful places as the ghost of its former owner points me to things I've never read before.

I have these guilts about never having read Chaucer but I was talked out of learning Early Anglo-Saxon / Middle English by a friend who had to take it for her Ph.D. They told her to write an essay in Early Anglo-Saxon on any-subject-of-her-own-choosing. “Which is all very well,” she said bitterly, “but the only essay subject you can find enough Early Anglo-Saxon words for is ‘How to Slaughter a Thousand Men in a Mead Hall’.

Now that I’ve read this, I’ve discovered that there is a follow up called The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street in which the author finally gets to visit the shop in London. Oh yeah, it’s on my library wish list already.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #94

>> Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Want to go for a ride?
Trout Lake, Washington



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Buried by Mark Billingham

>> Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Buried by Mark Billingham
Buried by Mark Billingham

Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction
Series: #6 in the Tom Thorne series
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 331
Source: Purchased



The Short Version:
A teenager is missing and since there is no ransom demand and uncertainty as to whether he left voluntarily or not there’s not a lot to go on but it gets complicated rather quickly.

Why I Read It:
I had high hopes of reading all of the series before the 8th book Bloodline was released in the US, but that didn’t happen. It doesn’t matter. I’m enjoying the heck out of the series and will be caught up soon.

The Book:
Luke Mullen was missing for several days before his parents reported it. They claim they thought he might be with friends, but the video they received clearly shows he’s being held captive and drugged. His dad is a former police officer who has friends in high places which is why Detective Inspector Tom Thorne and his team are on the case.

Thorne is teamed up with Louise Porter of the kidnap unit and they know that time is not on their side. The detectives are searching for any clues they can find as to who might have Luke. Could it be a random kidnapping? Could it be someone who has a grudge against Luke’s dad from his days as a detective?

When they do manage to come up with some clues as to where Luke is being held, they are confronted with startling evidence that leads the case in an entirely different direction.

Withheld information, secrets long held, a suspect in a murder from several years ago all become important, but the clock is ticking and Thorne and Porter know that the more time passes, the less likely they are to find Luke alive.

My Thoughts:
Wow. This series just gets better and better. The primary story of the hunt for Luke and his captor or captors is exciting enough. But in addition to that Billlingham adds in several additional story lines that run parallel and occasionally intersect with the main storyline.

A witness from Luke’s school leads one of the detectives to a trail of new evidence and suspects in a cold case that has haunted her. Thorne is himself haunted in his dreams by his father. The road of romantic entanglement doesn’t run smoothly for medical examiner Phil Hendricks who turns to his friend Thorne when troubled. Thorne’s work life is complicated by his recurring battles with his superiors and his potential attraction to his new partner, Louise Porter.

The multiple storylines and constantly changing action make this one exciting. It reads sometimes like a well done TV show with the shifts in location and viewpoint keeping things stirred up. I liked the secondary storyline with Yvonne Kitson’s case. Billingham lets the recurring characters from Thorne’s team take their turns in being a bit more prominent and this book is Kitson’s turn to shine.

Hendricks remains one of my favorite secondary characters. His role as medical examiner keeps him a important part of every book, but that’s not why I like him so much. His love life and habit of honoring each boyfriend lost with another body piercing of some sort just makes him such a fun character to envision as I read. He manages to bring the occasional funny in the midst of a dark and high tension book.


Rating 4/5

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Short Story Monday – The Blood-Stained Pavement by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, July 18, 2011



I’m continuing with the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

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The Blood-Stained Pavement by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins

This time around the Tuesday Night Club hears a story from the artist of the group, Joyce Lemprière

Like the previous story, this one takes place in Cornwall. It’s primarily told from Joyce’s viewpoint as she relates what she saw (and perhaps thinks she saw) while painting a picture of an inn there. She’s still disturbed enough by the story that the painting remains in the corner of her studio facing the wall.

She sees two cars arrive within a short time of each othe. The first carries a married couple and the second a woman who appears to be an acquaintance of the man from before his marriage. After introductions are made the three are seen to be planning a trip to a nearby swimming area. The couple travels by boat, but the single woman says she’s afraid of boats and chooses to walk along the road.

After Joyce takes a break from her painting to go for a swim in a different area, she returns to her painting to notice two swimsuits drying on the upstairs railing of the inn. While chatting with an older local man she realizes that she has painted blood stains on the walkway to the inn of her painting. While initially thinking it was an unconscious thing, she sees that there does appear to be blood drops on the path.

About that time, the couple emerges from the inn asking if anyone has seen the other woman return from their swim. They had returned by boat but were now looking for her. When Joyce looks again the blood drops are no longer on the path. Thinking she imagined them, she asks the local man she’d been chatting with whether he’d seen them. He says no but that there is an old story that when bloodstains are seen at the inn, a death occurs within 24 hours.

I’m not going to say more about the story, but I will say that this is one of the few times I figured out the mystery even before Miss Marple states here (obviously) correct theory.

I recommend reading the first story in the collection before this one, but with that background it’s another fun story and a collection I’m enjoying working my way through. I’m hoping to read two more for next week.




Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: July 16, 2011

>> Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend Update

This week:
Another busy week but I managed to carve out a bit of reading time. I finished Buried by Mark Billingham and I love the way that series gets better with every book. Then I read 84, Charing Cross Road. It’s been on my TBR list forever and I want to know why did no one sit me down and make me read this book before now? I adored it. I need to buy a copy. I’m trying to figure out how to write a post about it that’s not just eleventy million quotes.

As for audio, I’m on the last CD of Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny and read by Ralph Cosham. This is another series that gets better with every book. This one is fabulous. This last section has me holding my breath in anticipation as much as it has me near tears from the raw emotions so wonderfully expressed by the author.


Other than books and reading:

Earlier this week I celebrated 5 years of blogging here. It still amazes me that anyone wants to read my drivel, but I’m thrilled for every person that stops by to chat about books and reading.

Last weekend was our annual family weekend at Dad’s. It's just so beautiful and relaxing there.
backyard


Various and sundry relatives, step-relatives and friends gathered for the annual “meatfest”. As usual we had multiple grills and a smoker, three chefs manning the fires and plenty of other food. This year’s experiment was deemed a complete success. Fresh pineapple sliced and marinated for several hours in a mixture that was equal amounts of Honey, Key Lime Juice and Dark Rum.
grilled pineapple


The slices were grilled and turned out fabulous. A piece of that pineapple with one of the shrimp grilled by my nephew made a perfect bite. I pretty much made a meal out of that.


Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz
 Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz

I read a review of the upcoming sequel to this book and I’m now intrigued about it. I liked the author’s writing style when I read The Commoner so I think I’ll give this one a try.


Purchased this week:

I didn’t buy anything this past week, but look for some loot from Powell’s in next week’s update


Finally, the current library stack:

Library Stack


Have a great weekend!

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Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani

>> Friday, July 15, 2011

Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani
Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani

Genre: Humor, Juvenile
Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The Dick and Jane I read as a kid, but with Vampires.

Why I Read It:
I wasn’t interested in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies primarily because I hated Pride and Prejudice and the rest of the mashups that followed never interested me, but the minute I read about this book, I just knew I had to read it.

The Book
I think I’m going to have to go with the Publisher’s information on this one.

When innocent Dick and Jane meet a creepy, cape-wearing vampire, the unexpected happens: he becomes their friend! This title borrows from the classic stories and art we all know and love, but adds an of-the-moment twist: a vampire, illustrated in the classic Dick and Jane-style. It's a mash-up kids and adults alike are sure to love.

My Thoughts:
Seriously, it’s Dick and Jane plus vampires. It made me laugh. I made The Hubster read it. It made him laugh too.

The classic Dick and Jane artwork and writing style is there. The vampires are straight out the Bela Lugosi Vampire School.

Most of this book brought a smirk to my face. Parts of it made me giggle. A few pages made me laugh out loud. See if your library has it. Spend the few minutes it takes to read through it.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #93

>> Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mt. Hood
from the Washington side of the Columbia River



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Five years ago today

>> Tuesday, July 12, 2011



Five years ago today I started something that would change my life. I clicked on the Create a Blog button and started a book blog. It was a couple of days before I really started posting but today is the anniversary of the very beginning.

Honestly the primary reason I started a blog was because I didn’t like any of the paper book journals that were available. I wanted a place where I could record what I read and when and be able to write my thoughts about what I was reading. I had no idea that there even was such a thing as a Book Blog. I just wanted to use a blog platform to be able to track my own reading and to have a place to point friends and family to when they asked me what I read recently or what I’d recommend.

I never expected that anyone beyond myself and a few close friends and family members would ever read this.

Now it’s been five years. That’s over twice as long as my first marriage lasted. It’s also longer than I stayed with all but two of my employers.

Within a few days of starting this blog, I got an email notification of a comment from someone I didn’t know. I was floored. I followed the link to a book blog and then started reading and clicking links in comments and blogrolls and mentions in posts and I was absolutely lost in my computer for hours on end.



I’d found a treasure trove of book lovers and people who liked to read and talk about books. I’d always had one or two book loving friends but this little ‘online book journal’ I’d started quickly led me to a fabulous community of readers. It expanded my world in ways that still astound me.

This blog will never be one of those blogs with thousands of subscribers. That’s not my purpose or goal here. I just like to share what I’m reading and talk about books with whoever wants to stop by. Lately I’ve been hovering around 200 subscribers and that blows me away. I’m well aware that it’s a miniscule number to some of you, but for me it’s still amazing to have that many people subscribing to this blog.

Thank you. I want to send out a huge Thank You to every single one of you who reads this. I had no idea when I started this that such an active and interesting bookish community existed online and I’m thrilled that it’s become a part of my life. Between the blogs I read routinely and the bloggers and other bookish folk I chat with on Twitter, I have a never ending source of recommendations for a To Be Read list that will always have more books on it than I could possibly read in three lifetimes. You’ve encouraged me to keep reading, keep posting and keep talking books. I plan to continue and I hope you’ll continue to join me.

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Short Story Monday – Ingots of Gold by Agatha Christie

>> Monday, July 11, 2011



I’m continuing with the related short story collection featuring the Tuesday Night Club.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-oDH3gB4DQbI/Tf7FMB4T96I/AAAAAAAAHDo/sPTj8eIjnmM/s400/Thirteen%2BProblems.jpg

Ingots of Gold by Agatha Christie
Part of a collection published as The Thirteen Problems originally published 1932
Published: originally published 1932 this edition published 2004 by Harper Collins

At this meeting of the Tuesday Night Club, Miss Marple’s nephew Raymond West presents his story. He admits he doesn’t know the outcome, but wants to tell what happened and see if the club members can come up with a logical conclusion.

Two years previously West had spent a holiday weekend with in Cornwall visiting a man he’d recently met. The man was in Cornwall because he’d purchased the salvage rights to a wreck from the Spanish Armada. On his train ride to the small village he happened to meet some he recognized. It was a police detective on his way to the area to investigate a case of missing gold from a ship that sank six months ago.

After West presents his story another of the club members speaks up. Sir Henry Clithering, formerly of Scotland yard reveals that he is familiar with the case that West has presented. To no surprise of the reader, Miss Marple is the one who correctly figures it out.

I recommend reading the first story before this one, but with that background it’s another fun story and a collection I’m enjoying working my way through.




Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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Weekend Update: July 9, 2011

>> Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekend Update

This week:
I skipped the Weekend Update last week due to the Holiday weekend and also because I was busy and didn’t have much reading or anything but baby afghan knitting to talk about. You may thank me now for not boring you last weekend.

So since my last weekend update I read a few books. I Finished Long Gone by Alafair Burke. I started Buried by Mark Billlingham. Over the holiday weekend I read a couple of the short ones I had out from the Library: Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book as well as Dick and Jane and Vampires. Both of those were just fun changes of pace for me.

As for audio, I’m listening to Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. This one is very intriguing as it continues a storyline from the previous book as well as two additional plot lines all woven together.


Where and When I read in June
I did this last month and it was kind of fun so I think I’ll continue this type of monthly wrap up (at least for now)

So for the month of June, this is where and when my reading took me:

Mostly Harmless – so many different times and places it’s impossible to list

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes – Maine and California 2009

The Tuesday Night Club by Agatha Christie – London 1927

Plan B by Joseph Finder – Barcelona and London, present day

The Wordy Shipmates – Massachusetts and other parts of New England and England, 17th century

The Ranger by Ace Atkins – Mississippi, present day

Long Gone by Alafair Burke – New York City, present day


Other than books and reading:

I'm ready for some of this kind of action!

It’s been a couple of busy weeks at work and lots to do at home when I wasn’t working. We had a lovely pre-4th of July BBQ with one side of the family last weekend and we have get-together this weekend with the gang from the other side of the family. It’s a busy two weeks every year but it’s nice to have the family gatherings on the calendar consistently.


Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
 Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
I read about this in a Shelf Awareness email and it’s got me quite intrigued


Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
 Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
This one sounds like something I could enjoy a lot, but I have a feeling the timing will need to be right.


No Rest for the Dead by multiple authors.
 No Rest for the Dead by multiple authors
What happens when more twenty six bestselling authors collaborate to create one mystery? I’m not sure, but I think I’ll need to find out. Besides all the proceeds are going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


Purchased this week:

Black Echo by Michael Connelly
 Black Echo by Michael Connelly
This is one of those series that I really don’t know why I haven’t read it yet.

Death Message by Mark Billingham
 Death Message by Mark Billingham
Next up in the series so I need to have it.


I did manage to get through a couple on the library stack, but of course that meant some new stuff had to come home from the library with me:

Library Stack


Have a great weekend!

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Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book by Brian Froud and Terry Jones

>> Friday, July 8, 2011

Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book
Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book (The 10 3/4 Anniversary Edition) by Brian Froud and Terry Jones

Genre: Humor, Art
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 72
Source: Library



The Short Version:
Fabulous artwork and an oddly amusing story of the girl behind the famous photo of fairies make for an entertaining book.

Why I Read It:
I don’t even remember the specifics of the conversation but when my friend Eleanor mentioned this book I was intrigued and pleased to see that my library carried it.

The Book:
I think I’m going to have to go with the Publisher’s information on this one.

In 1995 Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book was released to an unsuspecting public. Called “an unstoppable phenomenon” by its publisher, it became an immediate international best-seller. Now 2005 can be named the Year of Lady Cottington with the 10th anniversary of the publication that first exposed the world to the science of fairy exploration.

This volume records in authentic facsimile the latest incarnation of this notorious book along with eight additional pages and enhanced artwork throughout, virtually overflowing with freshly flattened fairies. Former Monty Python member Terry Jones and artist Brian Froud provide a new introduction to place the book in its proper perspective, offering insight into the book’s often maligned historic relevance. As a bonus, included is an incriminating DVD showing rare film footage of the elderly Lady Cottington in her garden demonstrating her fairy-squashing technique, as well as a photo gallery, desktop wallpaper, and screensavers.

My Thoughts:
What a fun way to spend an afternoon. Brian Froud is an amazing artist and his artwork in this book is beautiful, disturbing, funny, and enchanting. Terry Jones brings the wackiness of his Monty Python roots to the story. The DVD contains a hilarious interview with the aging Lady Cottington (who bears a striking resemblance to Jones).

I’m so glad my library had this in their collection. I got a kick out of the story and the artwork equally. The about to be squashed expressions on the fairies faces are wonderful. Sometimes surprise, sometimes fear, sometimes a smirk of pure humor.

The whole story of a young girl who discovers fairies hanging out near the potting shed and sitting there with her book open in order to slam it shut and squash them like a pressed flower is oddly funny. Then later on a trip to Italy she discovers fairies with an even bawdier tendency than those she’s familiar with in England. I wish I could show you some of the lovely, fun and funny artwork, but you really need to get this book and enjoy it yourself.

Here are a few quotes that caught my eye.

"The Fairy Call
A spell for summoning the fairies

Sit where the cat sits. Cross your toes.
Close your eyes. And smell a rose.
Then say under your breath:
I believe in fairies, sure as death."

Gadflykins! Gladtrypins!
Glitterpuss and Cass!
Come to me fairily
Each lad and lass!"

August 22, 1902 - A terrible shock today! I found Aunt Mercy rummaging behind the big steamer trunk in the attic. That's where I hide this book. It's the only safe place in the house because generally no on goes up there except Ettie and me and sometimes Cousin Nicholas, but he doesn't count because he's a boy and doesn't believe in anything.

Got three fiaries and two goblins this afternoon! They have never been so easy to catch! SNAP! SNAP! SQUASH! I went! It was very exciting!


Rating 4.5/5

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Long Gone by Alafair Burke

>> Thursday, July 7, 2011

Long Gone by Alafair Burke
Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 342
Source: Copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
Alice Humphrey seems to have landed her dream job of running an art gallery but when she finds the man who hired her murdered and the gallery empty she soon finds herself the prime suspect.

Why I Read It:
I’d had Alafair Burke’s Ellie Hatcher series on my radar for a while thanks to Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts, but was waiting before starting yet another series. When I discovered that her newest book was a standalone I knew I wanted to read it.

The Book
Alice Humphrey has been unemployed for a while but determined to get by without help from her famous father. She’s always managed to have things work out well for her so when a random conversation at a art gallery turns into a job offer from the businessman named Drew who is there purchasing a painting for his mysterious boss. The job seems to be too perfect but Alice decides to go for it. She’ll be managing a new art gallery in a trendy part of the city Drew’s anonymous boss. There are some conditions to the startup of the new gallery, but it’s nothing Alice thinks will be a problem.

Shortly after the grand opening Alice arrives at the gallery to find it emptied out except for Drew’s body on the floor. Before long, Alice is the prime suspect in Drew’s murder. On top of that his name wasn’t Drew and everything Alice is telling the police is turning out to be further indications of her guilt.

Even though she knows she didn’t commit murder, Alice is determined to prove her innocence and finds that harder and harder to do and more and more people who have been keeping secrets from her.

My Thoughts:
This was an exciting thrill ride of a book. As much as I was sure that Alice had not committed the murder, I was also unsure about what was true and what was a sham in her live in the weeks leading up to the murder and also going far back into her childhood. The secrets of her present life seem to be leading to long kept secrets from her past.

A secondary storyline about a missing teenager that may be connected with Alice’s gallery adds more intrigue to the mix and kept me guessing if or how the storylines would intersect or mesh. The surprises kept coming and adding to the layers of secrets and lies that Alice must find her way through in order to prove she’s innocent.

This is an entertaining combination of murder mystery and psychological thriller. Yes the police are involved but it’s not all police procedural. Alice herself is a heroine I was rooting for and I felt her fear and frustration at every setback. The way the present events played out against events from Alice’s past made for a story that was much deeper than the early chapters led me to believe.

Let me say that after reading this standalone, I’m more eager than ever to start the author’s Ellie Hatcher series. This is one I can definitely recommend.


4 stars Rating 4/5

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