June Photo a Day Challenge

>> Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's time for my monthly chance to encourage everyone I know to participate in the Photo a Day Challenge hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. I've been doing this for over two months now and I'm having fun with it. I'm very happy to see that many of my friends both online and off are participating too.

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month.

This is the list for June:


If you're new to photo a day, let me tell you a bit about it. Photo a day is a fun photo-sharing challenge. Each day take a look at the list and take a photo according to the prompt. There are no rules. You don't have to be super creative or take the most amazing photos, it's all about the social sharing of it. Everyone is welcome to play!

Once you've taken your photo you share it on which ever platform you like: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Blog, Pinterest ... where ever! Make sure you tag it with #photoadayJune if sharing on Twitter or Instagram

Here's how to share your photo:

INSTAGRAM: Upload your photo to Instagram, add a sweet filter and put #photoadayJune in the caption so others can see your photos {share to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr etc from Instagram if you like}

TWITTER: Upload your photo to Instagram, add some words to describe it and use the hashtag #photoadayJune so others can see your photos

FACEBOOK: Create an album titled something like, Photo a Day June, and make the album public, then upload your photos. It's a good idea to upload the list too so you can refer to it and others can see what you're doing. You can also share your photos on my Fat Mum Slim Facebook page. Don't add them to the comments, but instead upload the photo or share a link on my page. Please

PINTEREST: Upload your photos to a board, and use the hashtag#photoadayJune so that others can search for them.

BLOGS & TUMBLR: Upload your photos to your blog or Tumblr and share with the world.

FLICKR: Share your photos in the Photo a day group.

One of the great things about this is the flexibility. The way I choose to do this is to only use photos I take with my phone. That takes a lot of pressure off for the photos to be perfect. It also lets me play with the many photo editing apps I have on my phone. I post my photos to Instagram and from there to my Tumblr blog at Whimpulsiveness.

I have really enjoyed seeing how my family and friends choose to interpret the daily photo prompts. Some are easy and fun and some take a little more thought.

I would love to see even more people I know participating. I hope you'll join in on the fun.

Here are a few of my favorites from the May Photo a Day Challenge

Peace
May 1st - Peace
Skyline
May 2nd - Skyline
Kitchen
May 11th - Kitchen
Grass
May 14th - Grass
Something you can't live without
May 20th - Something you can't
live without
A number
May 29th - A number

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Wordless Wednesday #137

>> Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kites
Long Beach, Washington


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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The ones with the British Detectives

>> Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Confessions of a Serial Reader

I have several series I read that feature British Detectives. For some reason they’re among my favorite series.

The Inspector Alan Banks series by Peter Robinson.
Gallows View by Peter Robinson
Alan Banks is a former London Detective who now works in the Yorkshire town of Eastvale. His children and his marriage are definitely a part of the ongoing storylines in this series and while the books can be read out of order there are elements of his private life that wouldn't quite play out chronologically. Banks is a music lover and generally what most would consider a good guy. The investigations are always interesting and well done in this series. I've read eleven of the books and still have plenty more to enjoy (the series currently stands at 20 books)

The Detective Inspector Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham
Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham
I started reading this series late in 2011 and read the first six books within about 8 months. It's been a while and I really want to get back to the series and get caught up. I've got four to read to do that but at least I already own the next two. Thorne works in London and has problems toeing the line his bosses would prefer he not cross. He gets himself in trouble but manages to solve his cases. These can get pretty gritty and Thorne isn't exactly likeable at times but it's a great series.

The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder
Birdman by Mo Hayder
Mo Hayder can write some seriously disturbing stuff. Her books are definitely not for the faint of heart. Jack is as much of a mess as some of the victims and criminals he deals with. He's got some demons from his childhood that still affect him. Set in London (at least for the first two) this series deals with some pretty nasty criminals.

The Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
I've only read the first two of this series and hope to get back to it soon. Thomas Lynley is an aristocrat and his partner Barbara Havers is in many way his opposite in both background and personality. The development of thier partnership in the first two books was something I enjoyed a lot. The mysteries are interesting and I want to get back to this series to find out where things will go. I've got plenty (15 right now) of books to read so even thinking about catching up with this series is unlikely.

The Simon Serrailler series by Susan Hill
The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill
Simon Serrailler is a Chief Inspector in the first book. He works in the city of Lafferton which is somewhere in the South of England. The first book has a great map in the front that provides a way of getting oriented to this fictional place. Simon comes from a privileged family background and is the only member of his immediate family to choose a career other than medicine. His family relationships are somewhat strained because of that and very much a part of the books. I've read two of the current six of this series


What about you? Who are your favorite British detectives? Which series you recommend?

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Weekend Update May 27, 2012

>> Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I’m still reading Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark. I should finish that one today. It’s a great follow up to her first book and I’m already looking forward to the next Rachel Knight book (I hope she’s got another one in the works). I stopped reading Guilt by Degrees long enough to read The Drops of God (vol. 1) which is a manga series about the wine. This was my first graphic novel and I liked it a lot. I’ve passed it along to The Hubster because I think he’ll enjoy it too. Next up on the TBR list is The Yard by Alex Grecian which is about Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad in 1890.

On audio I finished listening to The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. I had a great time revisiting the Peabody/Emerson clan and their adventures in Egypt. I’ve started listening to One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt. I really enjoy the way that Grover Gardner narrates this series.


Other than books and reading:
It’s been a busy week. I tried to get a lot of things done so that the three day holiday weekend could be focused on relaxing instead of a long list of things that needed to be done. It worked. I’m in the middle of a nice relaxing weekend.


Remy Wines tasting room


Matello WinesThree Wives Pinot Gris by Remy Wines


Yesterday we went on another wine tasting venture. We went to two wineries that have been favorites of ours for several years. Both have moved into their own space and tasting rooms this year. Matello and Remy are only a few block apart so that makes it easy for us.

Can't leave without a gratuitious Abby photo.
Abby's tail
The tail is always the last to fall asleep.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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Audiobook – The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters

>> Friday, May 25, 2012

The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters

The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters

Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 1998
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The 1907 season in Egypt for the Amelia Peabody and her family turns out to be far more adventurous than they expect.

Why I Read It:
I have enjoyed this series from the beginning and it remains one of my favorites for audio.

The Book:
From the Amelia Peabody website:
The prospects for the 1907 archaeological season in Egypt seem fairly dull to Amelia Peabody. Despite her adored husband's brilliant reputation in his field, his dashing-yet-less-than-diplomatic behavior has Professor Radcliffe Emerson ignominiously demoted to examining only the most boring tombs in the Valley of the Kings -- mere leftovers, really. All the Peabody Emersons profess stiff upper lips and intend to make the best of a bad situation, but this year the legendary land of the pharaohs will yield more than priceless artifacts for the Emerson expedition. For the desert guards even deeper mysteries that are wrapped in greed -- and sealed by murder.

In a seedy section of Cairo, the youngest members of the expedition purchase a mint-condition papyrus of the famed Book of the Dead, the collection of magical spells and prayers designed to ward off the perils of the underworld and lead the deceased into everlasting life. But for as long as there have been graves, there have also been grave robbers -- as well as those who believe tomb violators risk the wrath of gods like Thoth, the little baboon who protects the scales used to weigh such precious commodities as hearts and souls.

Besides facing the ire of ancient deities, their adventure into antiquity also puts Amelia and company in the sights of Sethos, the charismatically compelling but elusive Master Criminal whose bold villainies have defied the authorities in several countries. In truth, Amelia needn't have worried: this season is about to turn from dull to deadly. Soon, she will need all her remarkable skills of detection and deduction to untangle a web woven of criminals and cults, stolen treasures and fallen women -- all the while under the unblinking eye of a ruthless, remorseless killer.

My Thoughts:
This is a series that I have enjoyed for years. To me Barbara Rosenblat is Amelia Peabody. She captures the first person narrative perfectly. I think she does a great job of conveying Amelia’s strong points as well as the amusing smugness and lack of self-awareness that makes me laugh.

This book is a decent entry in the series but is probably not going to be one of my favorites. There was a lot going on and following the threads as the multiple plots played out sometimes got a bit confusing. Despite that, the book does add a lot to the ongoing story of the family that progresses through the series.

I like the way the younger generation is becoming more and more a part of the stories and in this one Amelia and Emerson’s son Ramses is truly beginning to stand out as a character in his own right. He’s old enough and independent enough that I’ve nearly forgotten how much he annoyed me as a character in the earlier books when he was a young child.

Along with Ramses the Emerson’s young beautiful ward Nefret is becoming a force to be reckoned with. She’s as independent and as feisty as Amelia and has Professor Emerson lovingly wrapped around her pretty little finger. Her ‘Professor darling’ melts him every time. The third leg of the younger generation also gets his storyline accelerated into a stronger and more adult one in this book David is the grandson of one of the family’s longtime Egyptian employees who has been orphaned and all but adopted by both the extended Emerson family and best friends with both Ramses and Nefret. While the majority of the book is told in first person by Amelia there are excerpts from other sources included that give the author the ability to tell parts of the story from the viewpoints of these increasingly important and interesting characters.

Elizabeth Peters is the pen name of Barbara Mertz who has a PhD in Egyptology. Her background allows her to weave real events and characters into the stories. In this one the sad story of a poorly excavated site is featured. Emerson’s outrage at the shoddy practices of other Egyptologists is an amusing part of the books that has its basis in fact.

As I said, I absolutely love Barbara Rosenblat’s narration of these books. This particular one, however seemed to have a lot of her audibly taking a deep breath before launching into a new section or paragraph and it got to be a bit distracting at times.

The Audio CD edition I got from the library included a bonus interview with both the author and narrator that was just a delight. My favorite part of that was when Barbara Mertz (Elizabeth Peters) said of Barbara Rosenblat that “she doesn’t read the books, she plays all the parts.”

It’s a delightful and fun series but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

3 stars Rating 3/5



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

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Wordless Wednesday #136

>> Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yard Art(?)
Long Beach, Washington



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The Drops of God, Volume 1 by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto

>> Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Drops of God, Volume 1 by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto

The Drops of God, Volume 1 by Tadasi Agi and Shu Okimoto

Genre: Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Publisher: Vertical
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 424
Source: Purchased



The Short Version:
A graphic novel that is incredibly informative about wine and wine tasting while telling an interesting story.

Why I Read It:
After this review at S Krishna’s Books and a resounding endorsement by Beth Fish Reads I bought the book. It took me a few months to actually pick it up and read it but now I’ll be buying the rest of the series.

The Book:
From the publisher:

A wine critic and his adopted brother must compete against each other to determine who will inherit their father's estate--a wine collection featuring 13 heaven blessed wines.

Shizuku Kanzaki is the son of a recently deceased, world renowned wine critic named Yutaka Kanzaki. In order to take ownership of his father's legacy, an extensive wine collection featuring some of the most rare labels of the last 30 years, he must find 13 wines, known as the "Twelve Apostles" and the heaven sent "Drops of God" that his father described in his will. But despite being an only child, Shizuku is not alone in this unique wine hunt. He has a competitor. Issei Tomine, a renowned young wine critic, was recently adopted into the Kanzaki family and is also vying for this most rare of prizes.

My Thoughts:
My first venture into the worlds of Graphic Novels, Manga and Japanese Anime (clearly I don’t even know the proper terminology and usage) was a huge success. The book is formatted so that it’s read from right to left and that took some getting used to. The first few times I picked up the book backwards but there’s a helpful note on what you’d expect to be the first page that says Wrong Way Japanese books are meant to be read from right to left. So once I got used to reading from what I normally consider to be back to front I was fine.

The story of Shizuku Kanzaki and Issie Tomine is interesting and fun to read. Tadashi Agi is a pen name used by a brother and sister writing team. The artwork by Shu Okimoto is well done with moments of humor tossed in here and there. There are many pages where all or most of the story is told through the artwork rather than the words.

There is a surprising amount of interesting information about wines and wine tasting wrapped up in this book. I loved that the reactions to the wines and the descriptions were as much about experiences including places and music as they were about food and flavor descriptions. After reading many a wine label that was a list of fruit and food flavors to see a wine described as a merry go round was a bit of a treat.

Shizuku is a likeable character despite his evident animosity toward his father. He rebelled against his father’s attempts to train him in the world of wine to become a sales representative for a beer company. Having never tasted wine his decision to battle Issei Tomine with the help of a trainee sommelier was something I could root for. This contest has a long way to go and I’ll not only be getting the next books in the seires, I’ll also be passing them along to The Hubster. I hope he finds this introduction to graphic novels as entertaining and as much fun as I did.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Weekend Update May 20, 2012

>> Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I spent last Sunday afternoon on the patio reading The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff. It was a thoroughly delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. After that I went back to Beach Road by Patterson and De Jonge and finished that one. I’ve started Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark. So far her second book in the Rachel Knight series is just as good as the first one. I've also started The Drops of God (vol. 1) which is a manga series about the wine trade. This is my first foray into both graphic novels and manga but based on the first few pages I read last night it's quite enjoyable.

For my audiobook I’m nearing the end of The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. It’s been nice to be back with the Peabody/Emerson clan in Egypt. I have several audiobooks out from the library right now that I’ll be loading onto the iPod so I’ll have plenty to choose from depending on what I’m in the mood for when I finish this one.


Other than books and reading:
It’s been construction week at our house. We had the furnace and air conditioner replaced. Luckily we had three very mild weather days so being without heat or cooling wasn’t too much of a problem other than a couple of cold mornings.

red sweater
At knitting class on Thursday I did the neckline of my sweater. That was a little bit of an adventure but I think it looks OK. I may end up redoing the neck but I’ll see what I think when I finish the rest of the sweater.


We went wine tasting out at ADEA yesterday.
Vineyard at ADES
Three of our favorite winemakers were there: ADEA, Cancilla Cellars and Twelve. A case of wine seems to have followed us home.

Almost forgot the gratuitous photo of Abby . . .
Abby



Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge

>> Friday, May 18, 2012

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge

Genre: Suspense Fiction
Publisher: Warner Vision
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 362
Source: Purchased Used

The Short Version:
A small time lawyer lands a big time case when a friend is arrested for murder at a Hamptons mansion.

Why I Read It:
I needed a book that was going to be more entertainment than thinking and Patterson usually fits the bill for that.

The Book:
From the publisher

Tom Dunleavy has a one-man law firm in legendary East Hampton. But his job barely keeps him in paper clips. His principal clients make a living serving the rich. The billionaires and megacelebrities swarming the beaches already have lawyers on their payroll.

Then a friend of Tom's is arrested for a triple murder near a movie star's mansion. Tom knows in his gut that Dante Halleyville is innocent. Dante asks him to represent him in what could be the Trial of the Century.

Tom recruits Manhattan superlawyer Kate Costello to help. She's a tough hire, because Kate is his ex-girlfriend-but she agrees. In their search to find who really executed three locals, Tom orchestrates a series of revelations to expose the killer-and what emerges is staggering.

The final scenes of Beach Road unveil a truth that will leave readers gasping in shock

My Thoughts:
Usually when I have a need for some pure entertainment that requires no concentration or thinking I can turn to James Patterson for a book that will fit the limited reading time or effort I’ve got available. Most of the time, it works out just fine and I’m entertained. I never expect a lot from a Patterson book and having enjoyed his earlier collaboration with Peter de Jonge (Beach House) I felt pretty confident. Well, I didn’t expect much and got even less. I can’t even pass this one along to The Hubster and tell him it’s worth reading.

The story was more like three or four unrelated stories that were patched together into this novel and the resulted in a bigger mess than normal for a Patterson book. If I had been any less busy or any better able to concentrate for the past several days I might not have even finished it. Because I only read it in small increments here and there I did finish it. It was OK for treadmill reading time but that’s about it.

The ending felt like the end of a different outline was tacked on to this one because a deadline loomed. I’ll stick with the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series but I think I’m done with the other Patterson books.


2 stars Rating 2/5

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Wordless Wednesday #135

>> Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Stop Shopping
Long Beach, Washington


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The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

>> Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

Genre: Travel Memoir
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 1973
Pages: 137
Source: purchased used copy



The Short Version:
The author of 84 Charing Cross Road finally makes to London for a visit and even though her beloved book shop is closed she manages to have a fabulous time

Why I Read It:
I only recently read 84 Charing Cross Road and absolutely adored it. When I found out there was a sequel, it was only a matter of time before I read it.

The Book:
In 84 Charing Cross Road a long term friendship is portrayed through a series of letters between the sometimed gruff, sometimes utterly charming author and the staff of a London book shop. Several times in that book Hanff makes plans to visit London and meet her friends but various reasons cause the trip to fall through over and over again,

In this book she finally makes that trip. In fact it is because of the success of the book 84 Charing Cross Road that she’s even going.

84, Charing Cross Road was no best seller, you understand; it didn’t make me rich or famous. It just got me hundreds of letters and phone calls from people I never knew existed; it got me wonderful reviews; it restored a self-confidence and self-esteem I’d lost somewhere along the way, God knows how many years ago. It brought me to England. It changed my life.

The trip is for the release of the London edition of her book. Even though the book shop is now closed and the manager she corresponded with the most has died, she’s still completely giddy about finally visiting London. As she’s preparing to leave New York a letter from a friend encourages her to keep a diary of her trip. This book is that diary

My Thoughts:
This book is very different from 84 Charing Cross Road, yet I still found it to be a delightful afternoon worth of reading. It has a completely different flavor because it’s a travel journal and not a correspondence. What does come though the same however is the way that Hanff can be both gruff and completely amusing at the same time. Some of her observations about the differences between London and New York just made me giggle.

I could feel her complete joy at finally seeing, touching and experiencing things and places she’s been dreaming of for years. The various people who take her on sightseeing jaunts provide an interesting cast of characters for her to interact with. I was amused at her frustration with people who wanted to take her to book shops.

I despair of ever getting it through anybody's head I am not interested in bookshops, I am interested in what's written in the books. I don't browse in bookshops, I browse in libraries, where you can take a book home and read it, and if you like it you go to a bookshop and buy it.

I shook my head at how things have not changed in 40 years.
I find the treatment of royalty distinctly peculiar. The royal family lives in palaces heavily screened from prying eyes by fences, grounds, gates, guards, all designed to ensure the family absolute privacy. And every newspaper in London carried headlines announcing PRINCESS ANNE HAS OVARIAN CYST REMOVED. I mean you're a young girl reared in heavily guarded seclusion and every beer drinker in every pub knows the precise state of your ovaries.

I laughed at her observations
Nobody over here [in England] says 'six-thirty' or 'seven-thirty', they say 'hoppussix' and 'hoppusseven'. And 'in' at home is 'trendy' here and 'give it up' is 'pack it in' and 'never mind!' is 'not to worry!' ... and as Shaw once observed, we are two countries divided by a common language. I am now going to bed because it's quataposstwelve.
and all in all I thoroughly enjoyed this different yet still charming memoir.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Weekend Update May 13, 2012

>> Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished reading The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. I liked some elements of it but there were others that didn’t quite work for me. I knew it was going to be a busy week so I needed a brain vacation book and started Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge. I haven’t had much time to read but it’s a typical Patterson book and suits my reading mood. I may take a break from it and read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff. I bought it a couple of weeks ago and it’s been staring pointedly at me from my desk ever since. I think it’s going to insist I take it out to the patio for afternoon reading today.

On audio I’m still listening to The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. What I like about this one is that the children and their relationships are taking more of a role in the ongoing story in the series.


Other than books and reading:
I spent last weekend in Long Beach Washington with a few friends. It was an absolutely fabulous getaway weekend for all of us.

Long Beach, Washington
It wasn’t warm, but it was sunny and nice enough for walking on the beach.

My knitting project is beginning to look like a sweater.
red sweater

I got to the point of dividing for the sleeves and now I just have to see how much of the body I can manage to get done before Thursday’s class.


Cirgue du Soleil is in town again. We try to go to any of the Grand Chapiteau shows that come through Portland.
The Grand Chapiteau
We’ve seen Saltimbanco, Alegria, Dralion, Varekai, Corteo and Kooza. This year they’re here with OVO. Here’s a video with snippets of most of the acts we saw.


If you ever have the chance to see one of their shows in person I highly recommend it. It’s just an amazing experience.

Summer is here for a few days so we’re going to enjoy it while we can. I predict reading and or knitting on the patio for me this afternoon.

OK - one gratuitous Abby photo before I go.
Abby

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

>> Friday, May 11, 2012

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 279
Source: provided by the publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
Ten years after high school the four members of a jazz quartet (The Lola Quartet) discover that their lives are still inextricably enmeshed

Why I Read It:
I found Emily St. John’s writing style intriguing and beautiful when I read her first book (The Last Night In Montreal) and while I didn’t love that book I liked her writing and wanted to read more. The hint of mystery in the synopsis of this one sounded like something I’d like.

The Book:
From the publisher

Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly. The economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes. Also, Eilo has shown him a photo of a ten-yearold girl who could be homeless and in trouble. The little girl looks strikingly like Gavin and has the same last name as his high school girlfriend, Anna, from a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives and otherwise at loose ends—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who, it turns out, have been on the run all these years.

My Thoughts:
As with her first book I find myself struggling to decide what I think about this book. Emily St. John Mandel’s writing style is beautiful. She can create an intricate web of time and point of view shifts that make the narrative seem to swirl around a central point that is somewhere in the middle of the timeline of the story.

The writing had moments of beautifully written images and emotions but at the same time it all felt so distant to me. The characters are interesting and all of them are troubled but I just never found myself drawn in to any one of their stories.

I didn’t mind the continually shifting point of view or time in the story and in fact I thought that was the strong point of the book. The jumps in time frame from the events of ten years ago to those of today are handled in such a way that the real story is doled out like puzzle pieces that gradually connect themselves to form the full picture. I tend to enjoy stories that are told this way if they are well done and it’s definitely something that this author excels at. It was also the thing I liked about The Last Night in Montreal.

So in the end there were elements of this book that I liked a lot, but there were also elements that didn’t quite work for me.



3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Wordless Wednesday #134

>> Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cape Kiwanda Sunset
Pacific City, Oregon


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For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen

>> Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen

For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #3 in the Molly Murphy series
Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 322
Source: Library



The Short Version:
In 1901 New York, Irish immigrant turned private detective Molly Murphy is struggling to make a success of her business but soon two cases have her busy and in danger.

Why I Read It:
A lighter historical mystery was a nice break from my recent more modern reads.

The Book:
Molly Murphy is trying to make it as a private detective in 1901 New York. She’s finding it difficult for a variety of reasons. After getting hauled off to jail as a suspected prostitute when she was following a suspected errant husband she decides that this type of case is not going to earn her a living.

Soon she has two different cases. The owner of a sweatshop in the garment district hires her to find out who is stealing his designs and allowing his competition to beat him to the market with his own work. At the same time an English aristocrat living in Dublin hires her to track down his daughter. He’s sure that she and the stable hand have sailed to New York and hires Molly to find her.

Molly gets a job at the sweatshop and has to control her natural feistiness in order to be believable as one of the downtrodden girls. She finds herself targeted as a troublemaker both by the shop supervisor as well as the local gang.

My Thoughts:
I enjoy this series as much for Molly and the mysteries as I do for the setting. Bowen does a great job of depicting New York City and the lives of recent immigrants in turn of the century New York. The actual mystery part is rather light but the portrayal of the time and place are richly done. The lives of the immigrants, the gangs, the power of Tammany Hall.

I enjoy Molly as a protagonist and the recurring characters which include the family who helped her get to America and for whom she feels a deep responsibility. There are also the friends she’s made who are her introduction to the bohemian and artistic culture of New York.

What I have trouble with is the ongoing love interest for Molly. At this point in the series I find him annoying and I’m wishing Molly would move on. I have a feeling that’s not going to be the case though and I’ll have to see how this all plays out as the series continues.

All in all it’s a light and enjoyable series with interesting characters in an interesting setting.


3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Weekend Update May 5, 2012

>> Saturday, May 5, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I started reading The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. I’m liking it a lot but haven’t had much reading time.

On audio I’m listening to The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. The Amelia Peabody series continues to be one of my favorite audiobook choices.


Other than books and reading:
Part of the reason I haven’t had much reading time is that I’ve been spending much of my free time knitting. I needed to get to a certain point for this week’s class. I just love how this yarn and sweater are turning out. I just hope I can manage to finish it and have it look somewhat like a sweater.

red sweater in progress
The color is interesting. In some lights it’s red and in others it’s almost a berry color.

Looking through my photos from this week . . .

One of my Photo a Day prompts for this week was “skyline”. The best view of the Portland skyline is from the middle of the Marquam bridge. This one from a moving car didn’t turn out too bad.
Portland from the Marquam Bridge
(as always click on the photos to see bigger then 
use your browser's back button to return to the post)

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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Audiobook – My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerley

>> Friday, May 4, 2012

My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley

My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: 2011 (originally published 1965
Read by: Ralph Cosham
Source: A Friend

The Short Version:
A memoir of a man and his dog

Why I Read It:
It was a gift from a friend who knows how much I enjoy Ralph Cosham’s narration.

The Book:
From the Publisher
Distinguished British man of letters J. R. Ackerley hardly thought himself a dog lover when, well into middle age, he came into possession of a German shepherd named Tulip. To his surprise, she turned out to be the love of his life, the “ideal friend” he had been seeking in vain for years. My Dog Tulip is a bittersweet retrospective account of their sixteen-year companionship, as well as a profound and subtle meditation on the strangeness that lies at the heart of all relationships. In vivid and sometimes startling detail, Ackerley tells of Tulip’s often erratic behavior and very canine tastes and of his own fumbling but determined efforts to ensure for her an existence of perfect happiness.

My Thoughts:
This book was definitely not my cup of tea. If it hadn’t been read by Ralph Cosham I would have never finished it. If it had been much longer (it’s only a little over 4 hours long) I wouldn’t have finished it either.

There were a handful of moments that struck me as sweet, touching or funny, but most of it was about Ackerley’s detailed account of efforts to get Tulip impregnated. And I mean detailed as in bodily function type detail. Maybe you have to be at dog person to get this book. I’m a cat person.

I did enjoy the occasional moments of true wit and charm but they were overshadowed and outnumbered by the stretches that were far less enjoyable.

Perhaps this is a validation of my prior statements that I’d listen to Ralph Cosham read the phone book. Seriously, his reading of this memoir was wonderful. He was able to capture Ackerley’s utter adoration of every aspect of Tulip’s existence in the way he spoke the words.

If I was rating this on audio alone, I’d give it 4.5 stars. If I’d picked up the paper version of this I’d never have finished it.


1 stars Rating 1/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration



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

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