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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Books Read in April..

For me, I have done exceptionally well reading this year!  But it is about to fall off a bit in May as I will have company and not be reading very much for a while.  But until then, here's my list of seven books for April:

 

April...

25..The Alchemyst.......................Michael Scott.......(400 pgs)

The Alchemyst is the first of a 6 book young adult series... it is really, really, (REALLY) a good series!  Matter of fact Paramount PIctures has bought the rights to make a movie from the first book!  And if that's not enough to want to read them:  Michael Scott is a fantastic writer! ('nuff said)


26..What She Left Behind................Ellen Marie Wiseman.(321 pgs)

I have to admit that all the books I read this month were really good.. including this one!


27..The Forgotten Girl..................David Bell..........(448 pgs)

David Bell has turned into a writer that I enjoy.  I've read a number of his books and they all are good reads!


29..The Lewis Man.......................Peter May...........(320 pgs)

ok... so this Peter May series that begins with The Blackhouse, and takes place in the Hebrides Islands (Lewis Island) off of Scotland are just and outstanding trilogy!!


30..Firedrake...........................Richard Knaak.......(234 pgs)

This one, although I liked it would be my least favorite. 


31..The Chessman........................Peter May...........(308 pgs)

Book 3 of the Peter May trilogy.  I wish it wasn't over the characters and the Island are all fascinating even if the story is fiction!


32..Gaudy Night.........................Dorothy Sayers......(544 pgs)

I got a bit lost in this book. As I age I can't keep track to too many characters! lol.. but still a good mystery!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gaudy Night

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey
Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks;(October 16, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0062196537

 

 

From the Back Cover

When Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the Gaudy, the prim academic setting is haunted by a rash of bizarre pranks: scrawled obscenities, burnt effigies, and poison-pen letters, including one that says, "Ask your boyfriend with the title if he likes arsenic in his soup." Some of the notes threaten murder; all are perfectly ghastly; yet in spite of their scurrilous nature, all are perfectly worded. And Harriet finds herself ensnared in a nightmare of romance and terror, with only the tiniest shreds of clues to challenge her powers of detection, and those of her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey.

Basically we have a mystery at Oxford, seemingly based around the dons. (all women).

I easily admit I am not the brightest bulb in the pack and it took me a while to get into this book. A good part of the first half of the book was beginning to feel like it was overwritten.. a lot to do about not a big deal.  But the second half of the book perked up, especially when Lord Peter Wimsey entered the story.

It seemed to be a number of minor stories going on and so I found myself lost a number of times. But in the end I have to say I did enjoy the book.  I like the character of Wimsey, and I think I would have liked Harriet more had I read other books by Sayers. 

Of course the ending is one you didn't really see coming... but then that's what a good mystery is about.. not knowing the ending before it happens!

Another moment to admit that Oxford would not have been for me! lol.  Brilliance abounds with the dons but I really didn't feel that "doing what they loved" made them happy people... I found that odd.

So.. onward and upward to another good book... I hope!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Chessmen: The Lewis Trilogy

The Chessmen by Peter May.

Series: Lewis Trilogy

Hardcover: 308 pages
Publisher: Quercus;(February 3, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1623656044

 

 

Amazon Review

Now, with The Chessmen, Peter May gives us a dramatic conclusion to his award-winning Lewis trilogy. Living again of the Isle of Lewis, the ex-Detective Inspector Fin McLeod is working as a security officer for a local landowner. While investigating illegal activity on the estate Fin encounters the elusive poacher and former childhood friend Whistler Macaskill.

But while Fin catches up with Whistler, the two witness a freak natural phenomenon--a 'Bog Burst'--which spontaneously drains a loch of its water, revealing a mud-encased light aircraft with a sickeningly familiar moniker on its side.

Both men immediately know that they will find inside: the body of Roddy Mackenzie, a friend whose flight disappeared more than seventeen years before. But when Whistler's face appears to register something other than shock, an icy chill of apprehension overtakes Fin. What secret has Whistler been hiding from him, and everyone else on the island? Fin is unprepared for how the truth about the past will alter the course of the future.

What a really good trilogy!  Love our protagonist, Fin, and all the characters we meet along the way.  Even by the end of book one you feel you know Fin, but learn more about him with each book.

The atmosphere is phenomenal!  In the first two books you feel you've stepped back in time.  The Chessmen I had a little more feeling of "more recent".  But no matter what Peter May writes a great story!

As in the other books there has to be a death or a body.. or both! 

This time I had some moments where I felt it was being stretched out a bit... but he sure makes up for it in the last 80 pages!!

I certainly learn things when he writes also... never heard of a "bog burst"!  But then again until my second life here in Florida I had not known of sink holes!  So there ya go lol.

I think I tried to read the Chessmen a little slower because I didn't want it to be the last I'd read with these characters. To sum it up I would say that anyone who likes mysteries and plenty of atmosphere will not be disappointed in this trilogy!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Firedrake

(Book 4, for OUaT)

Legends of the Dragonrealm: Firedrake by Richard A Knaak.

Series: Dragonrealm

Paperback: 704 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1439107009
Book 1 contains 3 books: the first being: Firedrake: 234 pgs.

 

Amazon Review

Firedrake• : In the ultimate war between humans and fiery shape-shifting beings, Duke Toma has unleashed every conceivable evil upon the world of the Dragon Kings. Only one dares to challenge him: Cabe Bedlam, a youth with a magical sword that promises its bearer total mastery over man and beast alike.

A 700 page book holding 3 books in one.

Firedrake wasn't the greatest for me.  It seems any time someone writes about Dragons that can shape-shift and that hate humans I just can't really enjoy the story. In general they all seem to have the same basis.

This book did have a few side characters that I did liked,  and a number of  "odd" creatures not usually used, and so I had no trouble reading the story.  Also, the humans that had magic were written well.

I find myself wondering if I might have liked this better had I not come off of a book I had enjoyed a lot .  Sometimes the next book never lives up to the one I just finished.

The world building was good, but I am not sure that I will go on to read the next book called The Ice Dragon.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Lewis Man

The Lewis Man by Peter May.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Quercus;(September 2, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1623658195

 

 

In The Lewis Man, the second book of the trilogy, Fin Macleod has returned to the Isle of Lewis, the storm-tossed, wind-scoured outer Hebridean island where he was born and raised. Having left behind his adult life in Edinburgh--including his wife and his career in the police force--the former Detective Inspector is intent on repairing past relationships and restoring his parents' derelict cottage. His plans are interrupted when an unidentified corpse is recovered from a Lewis peat bog. The only clue to its identity is a DNA match to a local farmer, the now-senile Tormod Macdonald--the father of Fin's childhood sweetheart, Marsaili--a man who has claimed throughout his life to be an only child, practically an orphan. Reluctantly drawn into the investigation, Fin uncovers deep family secrets even as he draws closer to the killer who wishes to keep them hidden.

 

I read Peter Mays first book of this trilogy in October of 2013.   I loved the book.  I really liked the main character, Fin, and the authors descriptions of the Isle of Lewis and surroundings made you feel like you stepped into a third world and put you smack dab in the middle.

Due to rising prices of hardback books I thought I would go no farther.  It seemed his second book, The Lewis Man was more then I have come to spend on a single book anymore.  In order to stretch finances I buy mostly used books and find that many people take excellent care and they are like new.

Anyway... along comes my birthday and my girlfriend Michelle sends me two books.  New books!  And one of them is: The Lewis Man!

My first thoughts were, utoh... it's been a looooong time since I read the Blackhouse I wonder if I can read this without rereading The Blackhouse?   Peter May put me at ease quickly.  He put just enough small reminders that I didn't feel like it was that long ago that I read book one.  I was right back there on the Isle of Lewis with Fin!  In this book there is a "cold case", a mystery, and a budding romance of the past.

Peter May puts very original twists on his mysteries.  He's so descriptive that you have no doubt you can "see" what is happening and the sights around you.   I had no choice but to send for the last book!

Since I always include the Amazon review I don't like to say much more other than saying.. they are a compelling set of books that I am more then happy I have read. (can't wait for delivery of book 3!)

I will leave this post with a small quote from the book that I found very profound, both to the book and to me personally...

"It's strange.. you think you know who you are, because you think you know who your parents are.."

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Forgotten Girl

The Forgotten Girl by David Bell.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: NAL (October 7, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0451417526

 

Amazon Review:

The past has arrived uninvited at Jason Danvers’s door…
…and it’s his younger sister, Hayden, a former addict who severed all contact with her family as her life spiraled out of control. Now she’s clean and sober but in need of a desperate favor—she asks Jason and his wife to take care of her teenage daughter for forty-eight hours while she handles some business in town.
But Hayden never returns.
And her disappearance brings up more unresolved problems from Jason’s past, including the abrupt departure of his best friend on their high school graduation night twenty-seven years earlier. When a body is discovered in the woods, the mysteries of his sister’s life—and possible death—deepen. And one by one these events will shatter every expectation Jason has ever had about families, about the awful truths that bind them and the secrets that should be taken to the grave.

I have read a number of books by David Bell, including:  Never come Back, Cemetery Girl, The Hiding Place and now, The Forgotten Girl.  He is a very good story teller! I've enjoyed all the books I've read by him and even waiting for July for yet another book to come out.

This particular book I wasn't really sure of, because it was a more modern then most I like to read, but I should have known better.  Once the characters grab you and you can tell there are "secrets" to be revealed, it becomes  a page turner. And as any good story teller he leaves a few surprises for near the end of the book. 

I'm looking forward to his next book .. and glad each story is different from the others.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

What She Left Behind

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Kensington;(December 31, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0758278454

Ten years ago, Izzy Stone's mother fatally shot her father while he slept. Devastated by her mother's apparent insanity, Izzy, now seventeen, refuses to visit her in prison. But her new foster parents, employees at the local museum, have enlisted Izzy's help in cataloging items at a long-shuttered state asylum. There, amid piles of abandoned belongings, Izzy discovers a stack of unopened letters, a decades-old journal, and a window into her own past.
Clara Cartwright, eighteen years old in 1929, is caught between her overbearing parents and her love for an Italian immigrant. Furious when she rejects an arranged marriage, Clara's father sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. But when his fortune is lost in the stock market crash, he can no longer afford her care--and Clara is committed to the public asylum.
Even as Izzy deals with the challenges of yet another new beginning, Clara's story keeps drawing her into the past. If Clara was never really mentally ill, could something else explain her own mother's violent act? Piecing together Clara's fate compels Izzy to re-examine her own choices--with shocking and unexpected results.
Illuminating and provocative, What She Left Behind is a masterful novel about the yearning to belong--and the mysteries that can belie even the most ordinary life.

Oh-M-G !!! This book took me by surprise!!  I knew it was about a young girl wrongly put into an asylum, and I thought this would be something different to read for a change.

Hello! I couldn't put this book down longer then it took for my blurry eyes to clear up enough to pick it up again! 

As the Amazon review says, it is about two young girls, years apart.  A long time ago it was about Clara being put into the asylum and the "now" part was about Izzy who's mother killed her father when she was very young and her mother was in prison for the crime and Izzy was put into the Fostering system.

This book reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale, in that no matter how horrendous things were I couldn't stop reading.  I needed to find out how it all turns out!  Both stories were compelling.  Both had horrendous things happening.  And I needed to know the endings for both of the females!!!

This author did a lot of research to find out what asylums were like back then in order to write Clara's part of the story, and boy did she do her homework!  This scared me more then any murder mystery!  Yet I couldn't stop reading!

This book is surely going to stay on my "OMG this was a great book" list!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Alchemyst

(Book 3 for Once Upon a Time)

 The Alchemyst by Michael Scott.

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 22, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0385733577

    From the book: Born in 1330 Nicholas Flamel was one of the most famous alchemists of his day. Alchemy is a peculiar combination of chemistry, botany, medicine, astronomy and astrology. It has a long and distinguished history and was studied in ancient Greece and China, and there is an argument that it forms the basis for modern chemistry. One day he bought a very special book: the Book of Abraham. It, too, really existed, and Nicholas Flamel left us with a very detailed description of the copper-bound book, which was written on what looked like bark.

    No one knows what happened to Nicholas Flamel. What is authenticated is that when he returned to Paris in the late fourteenth century, he was extraordinarily wealthy. The rumor quickly went around that he had discovered the two great secrets of alchemy in the Book of Abraham: how to create a philosopher's stone, which changed ordinary metal into gold, and how to achieve immortality. Neither Nicholas nor Perenelle (his wife) would ever confirm how they had become so rich.

    At a later date Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel's tomb was broken into.. and that was when it was discovered that the tomb was empty. Had they been buried in secret graves, or had they never died in the first place?

    (below: the home of the Nicolas Flamel on Rue du Montmorency, Paris)

     

    From Publishers Weekly

    Twin 15-year-old siblings Sophie and Josh Newman take summer jobs in San Francisco across the street from one another: she at a coffee shop, he at a bookstore owned by Nick and Perry Fleming. In the vey first chapter, armed goons garbed in black with "dead-looking skin and... marble eyes" (actually Golems) storm the bookshop, take Perry hostage and swipe a rare Book (but not before Josh snatches its two most important pages). The stolen volume is the Codex, an ancient text of magical wisdom. Nick Fleming is really Nicholas Flamel, the 14th-century alchemist who could turn base metal into gold, and make a potion that ensures immortality. Sophie and Josh learn that they are mentioned in the Codex's prophecies: "The two that are one will come either to save or to destroy the world." Mayhem ensues, as Irish author Scott draws on a wide knowledge of world mythology to stage a battle between the Dark Elders and their hired gun—Dr. John Dee—against the forces of good, led by Flamel and the twins (Sophie's powers are "awakened" by the goddess Hekate, who'd been living in an elaborate treehouse north of San Francisco). Not only do they need the Codex back to stop Dee and company, but the immortality potion must be brewed afresh every month. Time is running out, literally, for the Flamels. Proceeding at a breakneck pace, and populated by the likes of werewolves and vampires, the novel ends on a precipice, presumably to be picked up in volume two. Ages 12-up. (May)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc

    This is a story of twin 15 year old teenagers, Josh and Sophie, who because of circumstances get to meet and be friends with a man and his wife who run a book store and a coffee shop. Due to other circumstances waaaaay beyond their control, they both learn that their friend is not who they thought he was, Nick Fleming was really Nicholas Flamel!

    A man named Dr John Dee (also a real person in history) strolled into the store one day with a group of Golems and proceeded to destroy the store, steal Perenelle (Nicholas's wife) and the Book of Abraham the Mage... minus the last two pages which Josh managed to tear out as the books was ripped from his hand.... And what does Josh   learn from this? He learns magic has a smell. Nicholas (the good guy) smells of Peppermint... and Dee (the bad guy) smells of rotten eggs. (somehow that figures!)

    A small background worth a good chuckle:  The twins parents are Archaeologists which discovered a new species of small hominids that are now called Hobbits in Indonesia. (heh.. Hobbits eh?! lol)

    This whole series of books is compiled of Historical people, mythical beings and Michael Scotts own characters.

    Thus begins the story of unbelief to belief. Of what was, and what is. Of danger and intrigue... and the possibility of the destruction of the world.

    This series of YA books by Michael Scott are really good reads.. ALL of them!  There are 6 books in the series: The Alchemyst, The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock and The Enchantress.  Every book and every character has been so well written about that you feel you know them all! I can't imagine the amount of research that went into these books

    I "met" Michael Scott quite a number or years ago when he commented on a review I did.  From that time, as I awaited each new book each year I would email him and always say:  "Nicholas isn't going to die is he?"   Michael would never tell me the answer.  We graduated to emails now and then as I awaited the new books.   Now, years later, Paramount Pictures has bought the rights to The Alchemyst for a movie.  Before anyone says "hooray".. I will say that Paramount can be slower then molasses in winter getting started.  I am hoping it happens soon though as my age refuses to slow down!

    I just want to say that if you enjoy YA books now and then, this is a really action packed, character oriented group of books that anyone would enjoy!   

    If you'd like to know more about Michael Scott (very Irish! )  here's a link for you to discover a really super author:  Michael Scott.

     

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015

    March Books....

    Generally, I don't post "monthly" reads, but this year so far (for some reason even I don't understand) I've done really well (for me).  So I will list the books I read in March....  Eight books! (but one is so small it shouldn't be counted).. still more then great for me!!

    #17

    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

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    San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

    #18

    The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley.

    clip_image002[4] An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel…

    Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

    As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a "treasure of great price." And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

    As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

    #19

    Never Come Back by David Bell.

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    Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew….
    When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother? 
    More questions arise when a stranger is named in Leslie’s will: a woman also named Elizabeth. As the family’s secrets unravel, a man from Leslie’s past who claims to have all the answers shows up, but those answers might put Elizabeth and those she loves the most in mortal danger.

    #20

    The QPB Companion to the Lord of the Rings edited by Brandon Geist.

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    This handy volume is more than just a footrest to the snug club chair that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS; it is a friend who drops by to share choice gossip about one of your favorite subjects. The storied reality behind the classic fantasy – curious creator, the sword-crossing critics, the "deplorable cultus" … will not capative Tolkien enthusiasts but amuse those who "just don’t get it". The book first introduces us to the author, whom The New York Times described as "the tweedist and most persnickety of Oxford philologists; a man who said of himself, ‘I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size).’ We then hear from a host of other critics…..

    #21

    Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N Cohen.

    clip_image002[10] From Library Journal

    In his time, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was known to the world as an outstanding pioneer photographer of children, particularly of female children, as well as for being the author Lewis Carroll. One of Dodgson’s "child-friends," Alice Lidell, served as the inspiration for his literary Alice. These child-friend associations subjected Dodgson to public scrutiny, gossip, and suspicion concerning his emotional and sexual proclivities, suppressed though they may have been. Dodgson chose to "let them talk." Biographer Cohen (Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recollections, Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1988) uses previously unavailable family and personal documents, diaries, and letters to show that the shy bachelor Dodgson, Oxford mathematics don and lecturer, held himself to the strictest of moral codes. While Lewis Carroll has been probed and analyzed by countless writers (see, for instance, John Pudney’s Lewis Carroll and His World, 1976), this book is about the intimate and complex life of the man behind all those who lived on the other side of the looking glass

    #22

    Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley.

    clip_image002[12]

    From the author of the #1 international bestseller The Orchid House, the mesmerizing story of two Irish families entangled by a tragic past that seems destined to repeat itself
    To escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.
    Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past.
    Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.

    #23

    The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.

    clip_image004

    A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.
    In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

    #24

    Grimpow : The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos.

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    When a 14th-century peasant boy stumbles onto a mysterious corpse, his life is inexorably altered. From the hand of the dead knight, Grimpow extracts a talisman that turns out to be no less than the famed philosopher’s stone over which kings and popes have tortured and killed in order to gain its possession and its powers. Hiding from the Inquisition in a local abbey, Grimpow discovers that the stone enables him to read and learn at a remarkable pace, but he is filled with the sense that he must fulfill a quest begun by the mysterious knight. Setting out as squire to a dashing young noble, Grimpow must not only solve riddles posed by the stone, but also survive brutal battles to keep it. This attempt at high fantasy leans heavily on the current fascination for tales of the Knights Templar, enigmatic quests, and young boys with special powers. However, a plodding story line that weaves in too many threads (the Inquisition, Copernican and Galilean theories of astronomy and alchemy, among others) without explanation will leave readers baffled and struggling to make sense of all the drama. Add an abrupt and unsatisfying ending and this becomes, at best, an additional purchase.—Sharon Grover

    Snow Falling from Cedars and Never Come Back were the two best read for this month... I am reading yet another book for OUaT right now then I think I will read something different and then go back to OUaT.

     

    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Grimpow

    (Book 2 for Once Upon a Time)

    Grimpow : The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos.

    Hardcover: 452 pages
    Publisher: Delacorte Press (2007)
    ISBN-10: 9026131755

    From School Library Journal

    When a 14th-century peasant boy stumbles onto a mysterious corpse, his life is inexorably altered. From the hand of the dead knight, Grimpow extracts a talisman that turns out to be no less than the famed philosopher's stone over which kings and popes have tortured and killed in order to gain its possession and its powers. Hiding from the Inquisition in a local abbey, Grimpow discovers that the stone enables him to read and learn at a remarkable pace, but he is filled with the sense that he must fulfill a quest begun by the mysterious knight. Setting out as squire to a dashing young noble, Grimpow must not only solve riddles posed by the stone, but also survive brutal battles to keep it. This attempt at high fantasy leans heavily on the current fascination for tales of the Knights Templar, enigmatic quests, and young boys with special powers. However, a plodding story line that weaves in too many threads (the Inquisition, Copernican and Galilean theories of astronomy and alchemy, among others) without explanation will leave readers baffled and struggling to make sense of all the drama. Add an abrupt and unsatisfying ending and this becomes, at best, an additional purchase.—Sharon Grover

    This book has been sitting in the tbr pile so long that I don't even remember "how long"!

    There was quite a bit about this book that I enjoyed.  Things involved in the book are: The Philosophers Stone, Monks, Castles, Knights , a huge mystery: in search of Wisdom, the Secret of the Wise.   To use a quote: Wisdom rises from the ashes and leads humanity to a new future".  Much more interesting then searching for a treasure of wealth.

    Most of this book I really enjoyed, but sadly I have to agree with the Amazon review saying that "an abrupt and unsatisfying ending" was the only thing that damped an otherwise enjoyable book.   I guess in it's defense I have to tell you that the book is a "translation from Spanish"... so something might have gotten lost in the translation.

    On the plus side the characters were interesting and the author made some unexpected secrets about them along the way which made the book a good read despite the ending.

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    The Screaming Staircase

    (Book 1 for Once Upon a Time)

    The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.

    Paperback: 416 pages
    Publisher: Disney-Hyperion;(August 26, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 1423186923

    A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.
    In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

    Description of book:  Twelve year old *ghostbusters*.

    *Sigh*.. I guess this book would have worked better for RIP, however, there's plenty of fantasy fiction to the story!

    I've read  Jonathan Stroud's  The Bartimaeus Trilogy, which I really liked. So, I thought I'd give this a try.

    The book was very enjoyable, and I had only one problem with it.  The dialogue did not sound like "kids".  It wasn't overly "adult" but it just didn't sound age appropriate.

    It is a fast read, and I think YA's will really enjoy this book.  Stroud is a good writer and has a good imagination.

    Actually my problem with it might have been that I've been reading mysteries for quite a stretch now and this is the first of this kind that I've read in quite a while.  Big change to say the least!

    Small Book Meme

    My friend, Cath,  put up a short book meme...I haven't seen a meme in forever so I guess I'll give it a shot!

     

    1. What was your favorite book during childhood?

    Hmmm, not an easy question because my memory sucks!  To be honest the first books I really remember reading were Zane Grey books! (yeah cowboys, sheesh)

    2.What is your favorite book now?

    I'm not sure who made this meme but do they really expect ONE book title??!! Quite a number of books seem to stick with me.  The Dragon Rider of Pern series are probably at the top.  But many others I can't forget either, like Drood by Dan Simmons, and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows, oh and my favorite Biography is called Stan and Ollie by Simon Louvish.

       

         

    3. What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

    Wow.. hard question.  Maybe, To Kill a Mockingbird. 

    4. Do you prefer checking out books from the library or buying them?

    Buying them. (mostly at thrift stores) I am not one for enjoying returning books, I feel the "pressure" of a time limit.

     

    5. Have you ever been let down by a book that was highly recommended to you?

    Not many recommendations come my way... but one I know I never read much of was The Time Travelers Wife. But it's certainly not the only book I never finished!

    Thursday, March 19, 2015

    Once Upon a Time..

    Well, well... it must be Spring because Carl, at Stainless Steel Droppings, has once again started his Once Upon a Time Challenge!

    Since I go berserk if I "commit" to things I will choose to only do "The Journey". (read one book)  But I never do just one! But I enjoy it all better "uncommitted" heh.

    Anyway: his rules are:

    Rule #1: Have fun.

    Rule #2: HAVE FUN.

    Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

    Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”. (he knows me well!)

    Books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

    To find out more click on the link above to go to Carl's blog.

    I have a number of books around here to choose from but truth be told it could be one of these, all of these, or none of these!  I could very well decide on a reread of something I love.....But I grabbed this group out for a snapshot.

    They include a Weis & Hickman trilogy called Dragonships, the first book in a trilogy from Jonathan Stroud called Lockwood & Co., two books I bought at an antique place (well illustrated and translated by Mark Scott, Pat Chandor and Dave Woodward) Krystonian Adventures they come from England. I also have the first two books of Robin Hobb of the Rain Wilds Chronicles.  All pictured above. 

    So.. we shall see what happens during Once Upon a Time, why don't you join in on the fun ?!!

    Girl on The Cliff

    Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley.

    Paperback: 416 pages
    Publisher: Atria Books;(October 30, 2012)
    ISBN-10: 1451655827

     

    From the author of the #1 international bestseller The Orchid House, the mesmerizing story of two Irish families entangled by a tragic past that seems destined to repeat itself
    To escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.
    Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past.
    Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.

    This was an enjoyable read.  I always like "mysteries" with lots of family secrets !

    It just seems that the books I've had lately all include a love story.  I'm not real keen on romance books but as long as they are in the background with secrets or murder surrounding it they don't seem to be to awfully "romantic" after all. A bit of a surprise at the ending which always helps.   The background story itself is doled out in increments, by Grania's mother, and small writing's by "the person telling the story" was different and I liked it.

    No big horror's or murders but still a book I enjoyed.

    Saturday, March 14, 2015

    Lewis Carroll: A Biography

    Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N Cohen.

    Paperback: 577 pages
    Publisher: Vintage (November 26, 1996)
    ISBN-10: 0679745629

    From Library Journal

    In his time, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was known to the world as an outstanding pioneer photographer of children, particularly of female children, as well as for being the author Lewis Carroll. One of Dodgson's "child-friends," Alice Lidell, served as the inspiration for his literary Alice. These child-friend associations subjected Dodgson to public scrutiny, gossip, and suspicion concerning his emotional and sexual proclivities, suppressed though they may have been. Dodgson chose to "let them talk." Biographer Cohen (Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recollections, Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1988) uses previously unavailable family and personal documents, diaries, and letters to show that the shy bachelor Dodgson, Oxford mathematics don and lecturer, held himself to the strictest of moral codes. While Lewis Carroll has been probed and analyzed by countless writers (see, for instance, John Pudney's Lewis Carroll and His World, 1976), this book is about the intimate and complex life of the man behind all those who lived on the other side of the looking glass

    Now and then I enjoy reading biographies or autobiographies, so when I saw this book in on of those many thrift shops, looking brand spankin' new and with that great cover.. I brought it home!   But even that great cover didn't make the book any better.

    Three times I was ready to give up on it...it seemed to just keep repeating itself over and over about the fact that Charles Dodgson (C.S. Lewis) had this thing for very young girls.  But when reading between the lines one can be pretty assured that he certainly had deep feelings for girls under puberty age, that nothing happened except the told stories and all the children grew up still loving him.. which they would not do if he was not anything but exceptionally kind to them.

    I did learn something I never knew and that was that Dodgson when to Oxford as a Mathematician and grew in his speciality to Professor and a Don.  He met many people who also was at Oxford such as Tennyson but always he tried to make acquaintances with those who had young children.

    Besides lecturing about Math (which was not easy as Dodgson had a slight stutter), he became prolific in photography.  Back then it meant he had to have his own dark room to work the negative immediately after taking a photo.

    Dodgson was a very strange man. Up to the end he would rather have dinner with a 12 yr old than anyone he might know.

    I am going to admit that of the 577 pages in this book I thoroughly read about 400 and then I started skimming to the end.  I wish the author mentioned things that were also happening in the world that might have had an affect on Dodgson, which was something that was neglected.   Giving a quick search on Amazon I see there are many biographies on C.S. Lewis...I don't think I am interested enough to try a different author but if you are interested, I might try one other then this one.  But then again, to someone else this one might be the best one!  (heh, glad I could help in your decision! )

    Thursday, March 12, 2015

    The QPB Companion to The Lord of the Rings

    The QPB Companion to the Lord of the Rings edited by Brandon Geist.

    Paperback: 104 pages
    Publisher: Quality Paperback Book Club;(2001)
    ISBN-10: 0965307883

     

    This handy volume is more than just a footrest to the snug club chair that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS; it is a friend who drops by to share choice gossip about one of your favorite subjects. The storied reality behind the classic fantasy - curious creator, the sword-crossing critics, the "deplorable cultus" ... will not capative Tolkien enthusiasts but amuse those who "just don't get it". The book first introduces us to the author, whom The New York Times described as "the tweedist and most persnickety of Oxford philologists; a man who said of himself, 'I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size).' We then hear from a host of other critics.....

    So, once again I find this little gem in a thrift store for .50 cents.   Not 100% sure of the contents I took it home anyway and read it yesterday. (very small book  104 pages)   I am not sure why it's called a "companion".  What this book is, is... Other authors of "high caliber" (such as Tolkien was : an Oxford Professor/a Don) .   All of which wrote a few pages on what they thought of Tolkien and mostly what they thought of his writing of The Lord of The Rings.

    I was surprised at how many of the few that wrote for this book thought that his writing / his story, was of a high grade.  A number of them thought it nothing more than childish trash and could not understand why it stood the test of time and has done so well. 

    My thoughts after reading both the good and the bad was that I wondered why they were trying to figure out what was going through Tolkien's mind as he wrote it.  ?  They all seemed to either think it trash and not give it a second thought OR they all thought they had to figure out all the "hidden messages" in the story.

    Most all of the writings were of LOtR and few mentioned the Hobbit.  If it is true then the one thing I learned was it is a falsehood that Tolkien wrote the Hobbit for his son.  He just plain wrote a "child's story".

    Anyway...I did find their opinions interesting.  ... and to be honest those who tore down Tolkien's writing sounded more like their own ego then anything else lol... but still.. for .50 cents, it was interesting!

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Never Come Back

    Never Come Back by David Bell.

    Paperback: 448 pages
    Publisher: NAL (October 1, 2013)
    ISBN-10: 0451417518

    Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew....
    When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother? 
    More questions arise when a stranger is named in Leslie’s will: a woman also named Elizabeth. As the family’s secrets unravel, a man from Leslie’s past who claims to have all the answers shows up, but those answers might put Elizabeth and those she loves the most in mortal danger.
     

    Ok, so I found this book at a used store and thought, "ohhh David Bell!"  I've read The Cemetery Girl and The Hiding Place and like him."!  So I took it home with me.   I sat down and began reading it a few days ago and it seemed awfully familiar.. yet the title didn't.  Had I watched a movie like this??  Read another book with a similar plot??   So I read a few more chapters, which was very easy since the chapters were all about 2 pages long! (love short chapters!) 

    OK.. I finally knew I had read the book before... but do you think I could remember the curse of the crime?  "Who done it?"... nope  totally gone.  As I kept reading I knew it all... except "who done it"... ARGH!   So I just spent a few days doing a reread! *sigh*

    And the reason I didn't remember the ending?... still escapes me!  It must be the very easy but very smart twists and turns in what seems to be a very simple book!   Which means.. a good author!

    I totally enjoyed the reread and for anyone liking very short chapters so you can stop at almost any given moment, this book is for you!

    And.. I have yet another of his (used) books on it's way to me via the used book dealers at Amazon!  That will make 4 books when I read that one!  

    Lots of things going on in this book but easy to follow.  If you haven't read any David Bell's books I recommend him!

    Monday, March 09, 2015

    The Splendour Falls

    The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley.

    Paperback: 384 pages
    Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 14, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 1402258615

     

    An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel...

    Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that's Harry for you.

    As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a "treasure of great price." And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

    As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

    "A mix of intrigue and adventure...in a style similar to that of Mary Stewart or Barbara Erskine, Kearsley does an excellent job evoking the atmosphere of Chinon with its brooding castle."—The Winnipeg Free Press

    "Kearsley's action-packed mystery-romance, set in a medieval French town, shows the same deft plotting that won Kearsley the Catherine Cookson prize for Mariana."—Chatelaine

     

    This is not my first book by Susanna Kearsley, nor will it probably be my last.

    I have to admit I had hoped for a little more excitement in the "mystery" part of the book, but over all I still enjoyed it.  I also don't usually read book that the setting is France (vs. England/Scotland/Ireland), so strangely I felt a little "lost", I think I need to stay in Britain!

    The book covers a bit of History, some very good characters, a beginning of a romance and even a few murders.  So she covers a lot of ground in 384 pages.

    The non-appearance of Harry for vacation with Emily annoyed me at first, but later makes perfect sense.  Once he was in the picture I found it hard seeing the name Harry without wanting to add "Potter" after it lol.  An old persons mind (mine) can get jumbled easily! 

    Anyway.. it was an enjoyable read.  Not too dark, and a good adventure.

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015

    Snow Falling on Cedars

    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

    Paperback: 460 pages
    Publisher: Vintage;(September 26, 1995)
    ISBN-10: 067976402X

     

    San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense-- one that leaves us shaken and changed.

    This book was more than I thought it would be.  To be honest I think I picked it up at a thrift shop because it mentioned World War II on the back of the book.  So it surprised me to find it was a Japanese fisherman on trial for the murder of another fisherman. 

    Like some murder mysteries you might see on television it begins with part of the trial and then goes back and introduces you to the characters, their lives and how things came to be a murder trial.   During the time period this occurs WWII, Pearl Harbor happens and San Piedro Island is not exempt from "rounding up all the American Japanese" and putting them in internment camps.  After the war some of the young people come home but with war injuries.  One in particular now has a missing arm.   The main character on trial Kabuo Miyamoto goes to war and serves the United States against his own people.  But prejudices run deep.  And so the story reminds us that some things have not changed, while others have.  This includes use of language that might offend some, but it was proper to use for the story being told.

    Quite a good book and reminder of things  we may choose to not think about all the time.

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    The Winter People

    The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon.

    Hardcover: 336 pages
    Publisher: Doubleday;(February 11, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 0385538499

    From Booklist

    *Starred Review* After a night of partying, 19-year-old Ruthie awakens to a world of impossibilities: her mother, an off-the-grid hippie who rarely leaves their Vermont farm, is missing, and Ruthie is left to care for her young sister. Ruthie desperately searches their old farmhouse for clues and uncovers a hidden compartment in her mother’s room filled with frightening artifacts: a pair of strangers’ wallets, a loaded gun, and a book entitled Visitors from the Other Side: The Secret Diary of Sara Harrison Shea. The diary reveals a 100-year-old mystery lending credence to the campfire tales about their farm, the nearby Devils’ Hand rock formation, locals who have gone missing, and her mother’s warnings that bad things happen in their woods. Ruthie begins tracking her mother with the information in the wallets and soon finds links between the diary’s horrors and her mother’s disappearance. McMahon has developed a subgenre of psychological mysteries that pit female characters with humanizing strengths and vulnerabilities against old secrets posing present dangers, forcing them to confront mystery and legend in creepily seductive settings. This mystery-horror crossover is haunting, evocative, and horrifically beautiful

    When I heard about this book it sounded like a good mystery.  After all a 100 yr. old diary is found which contained a mystery!  Hey what's not to like?   However, I am not into "living dead" or "zombie"  books and this had some of the "living dead" in it.  That did not thrill me, and the fact that it covered 100 yrs was a bit confusing to me.

    But... (there's always a but, right?).. the mystery was a good one and a number of twists and turns, right up to the very end,  all contributed to my not setting the book aside.  I will say, I liked it.  Not something I will read over again, but a change from my usual reading and obviously interesting and written well enough for me to read the entire book.

    I think to most who don't mind a bit of living dead (and I know there are many out there) that this would be a really good read for you.

    With this book it brought my count of books read in February to 7 !  Last month and this month were good reading months for me.  I doubt this will keep up but as long as I am reading something it's a good thing!

    February...

    10..Death of a Chimney Sweep............M.C. Beaton........(247 pgs)

    11..The Pale Blue Eye...................Louis Bayard............(448 pgs)

    12..The Black Tower.....................Louis Bayard............(352 pgs)

    13..The River of No Return..............Bee Ridgway..........(452 pgs)

    14..Touchstone..........................Laurie R King............(560 pgs)

    15..Risking it All......................Ann Granger................(314 pgs)

    16..The Winter People...................Jennifer McMahon...(336 pgs)

    I think of the books read this month my favorite was Risking it all by Ann Granger.. however, Touchstone is right up there with it!