Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: The Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage

Author: Leighton Gage
Publisher-Format: Soho Crime (2011), e-galley, 289 pages
Year of publication: 2011
Subject: organized crime
Setting: Sao Paulo Brasil
Series: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation
Genre: police procedural mystery
Source: e-galley from the author
Recommended? yes -definitely.  For fans of mysteries, Brasil, and police detectives with brains


 Leighton Gage's Inspector Mario Silva series is really growing on me. This is the fifth, and in my humble opinion, the best so far. Inspector Silva is a Brasilian Commissarrio Brunetti, for those of you familiar with Donna Leon's wonderful series set in Venice.Silva is educated, urbane, humane, and eminently competent.

In this one, the Federal Police (of which Silva is a member) are charged with solving the kidnapping of the mother of Brasil's star soccer player just as the World Cup is about to be contested. Without his mother safely home, Tico "The Artist" Santos won't be at his top form and Brasil could lose.  Of course everyone wants to blame the arch-rival Argentinians, but Silva suspects several other possibilities. This one is particularly much better than earlier ones because Gage has learned how to tell us about heinous crimes without pages and pages of blood and gore. I had almost gotten to the point where I couldn't read them, and even last year sent the author an email to that effect. Evidently he got the message from a broad spectrum of readers.  Here he gives us a much more developed cast of characters (both the good guys and the bad), an interesting look into the world of futebol and the annual Brasilian Carnival samba floats and teams, in addition to the hefty dose of up-to-date police procedures used to solve this mystery without wallowing in graphic violence. I won't give you much more - no spoilers - it's a page-turning, easy to read, gripping mystery. You don't need to read earlier ones in the series, this one can easily stand alone.

Leighton Gage also blogs on Murder is Everywhere where his latest post will be of great interest to any of you gentle readers who love books in all their wondrous formats.

Many thanks to Leighton for sending the review copy.  It's a terrific book and a series with potential for even more adventures.  We can't wait for the next one.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Salon - January 29th

A long lazy day ahead.....it's cold, it's supposed to be partly sunny, until 9:00 tonite, there's nothing to watch on TV (and then all eyes go to Downton Abbey.)  So it will be a perfect day to read, read, read and stitch a bit too.   I've made great progress on those nine books I mentioned last week. I finished four of them, and am really enjoying the others.

I've not had a lot of time to listen to the audios: between bad weather and icy roads and some physical issues I'm dealing with that have kept me from exercising, I haven't spent much time with audios.  I've become so enamored of my Nook that I can't seem to put it down.  The biography of James Monroe, the two World War I books (Guns of August and The Beauty and the Sorrow),  are all huge big chunky books, but so easy to read on the e-reader.  Five Chiefs - the Supreme Court memoir by John Paul Stevens is just the right size print book, beautifully done, not too big, and very easy on the eye. It's also quite readable, and I'm going through it slowly so I'm sure I understand all the legal implications of the discussions.  Then I have a paperback copy of  Farming of Bones to finish for our book club in three weeks.

Finally, yesterday  I succombed to my first case of what my husband fondly calls "eyes bigger than stomach" (for those of us who must overload our plates in a buffet line) and I joined the readalong for A Moveable Feast over at Unputdownables.   I had just gotten the audio of this one from the library, and it will be a great follow-up to A Paris Wife.

So Sunday at Tutu's will be a true day of rest.  We go to church on Saturday evening, and after a nice breakfast of french toast, crisp bacon and some linguicia (Portuguese sausage) and some homemade apple butter and good french roast coffee, I'll be ready to settle into my favorite big chair in front of the fireplace with my two favorite kitties, a pile of books and my Nook.  I'm planning to spend at least 2 of those hours listening to an audio (probably another adventure of Maisie Dobbs) and working on some cross-stitch.  Sure hope your day is as quiet and peaceful as mine promises to be.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review: House of Prayer No. 2 by Mark Richard

Author: Mark Richard
Publisher-Format: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, e-book
Year of publication: c2011.
Subject: growing up poor and special
Setting: Southern Virginia, California, Texas, variety of sites
Genre: Memoir
Source: public library download 
Recommended? For readers who enjoy memoirs, southern settings, life success stories

This one was a complete surprise to me. I downloaded it from the library out of just plain curiosity - hadn't seen very much buzz here, or on the blogs. And that's a shame. THIS IS AN OUTSTANDING PIECE OF WRITING. Great memoir, great capturing of place and time, and written in the 2nd person....something that took a few minutes to settle into, but boyo boyo does it work. Mark Richard is a writer of spartan prose that grabs the reader and won't let go. Once I started this, all 7 of the other books I had going got shoved aside and I spent every spare minute for the next two days reading it.

It's the story of his childhood and his rather adventurous and torturous adolescence and early manhood. Labeled a "special child" from birth, he shows us how a life of poverty, labels, physical deformity all played a role in making him the incredible writer he is today.  His descriptions of lying in body casts for months on end could have been quite depressing; instead his straight-forward narration, sometimes peppered with an irreverent tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, encourages the reader to cheer for this "special child" and spurs us to keep going to see how life turns out. We watch as he avoids disaster after disaster to evolve into the highly functioning successful writer and husband/father that he is today.

RUN don't walk to get a copy. I may have borrowed this from the library, but very soon, we're going to hit the "buy" button on the Nook, because Mr. Tutu wants to read it too, and it's so good we'll both want to re-read it.  Trust your Tutu.....this one is not just good, it's outstanding. Coming on top of just having finished The Sense of an Ending I'm feeling like 2012 is gonna be a very good reading year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mini-Reviews: Two Fun and not quite cozy Series

I've been reading several heavy books about World War I, a biography and a memoir, so this almost cozy mystery was a good change of pace when I needed a breather.

Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher-Format:  e-book,  New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997, 170 pages
Subject: solving murder -
Setting: Shakespeare Arkansas
Series: Lily Bard mysteries
Genre: mystery - amateur sleuth, police procedure, private detective
Source: public library download
Recommended? Yes if you like mysteries, strong women and good police stories

I do really like this series by Charlaine Harris.  More adventures of housecleaner, rape victim, super karate, Tae kwan do champion Lily Bard, and her various beaus.  Set in Arkansas it also shows a not so nice side of southern rednecks and their racial prejudices.  Lily's not a person I can warm up to, but then she doesn't want anyone to warm up to her.  She's very much a loner, having been so damaged earlier in life that she's taking things very slowly, and not letting anyone get too close to her.

The immediate dead body in this one is a fellow weight lifter found dead at the gym, but there are other murders from prior times that are drawn into the web of investigation (all of which Lily is somehow connected to.)  Several new characters, several from before, and some fantastic fight scenes.  I'm not into martial arts, but I have no trouble following Harris' excellent description of Lily's interactions with the bad guys.

Good plot, great characters, and a terrific ending.  NO SPOILERS, but I will say this is a series that is entertaining enough for anyone liking a southern setting, a strong woman, and cops who are actually competent.

 The other book in a series I just finished was an audio from a fun Maine writer:

Author: Sarah Graves
Publisher-Format:  audio:  BBC Audiobooks, 9hr, 7min, 2008
Narrator: Lindsay Ellison
Subject: old books, restoring old houses, murder
Setting: Eastport Maine
Series: Home Repair is Homicide
Genre: mystery - amateur sleuths,  
Source: public library
Recommended? Yes if you like mysteries,old houses, and Maine

In this series, Sarah Graves gives her readers a wonderful cast of characters, a totally picturesque setting, and some lessons in home repair many of us hope never to have to use.  I just wish sometimes her plots weren't so unbelievable.  More to the point, I wish her two amateur sleuths weren't so gol-blamed stupid to put themselves into the situations they get into.

This one was a wonderful story about personalities in small Maine towns. Lindsay Ellison's narration captures the variety of DownEast accents perfectly (I actually thought one of the voices belonged to one of my neighbors here in town!) but Grave's manipulations of events to get to her outcome left me shaking my head. 

It's almost impossible to give you even the gist of the story except to say that Jacobia is looking for a book she found behind some crumbling plaster in her old old house.  She sent the book to an "expert" to have it authenticated, the expert turned up dead, and the book turned up missing. So of course, she's not only going to find her missing book, but she's darn well gonna figure out who killed the book dude.  I love good mysteries (and this one was certainly a good mystery) and I love surprise endings - I didn't catch on until the final chapter, but I just couldn't bring myself even to imagine some of the life-threatening escapades Jacobia and Ellie found themselves in JUST TO FIND A BOOK.  I thought Indiana Jones was going to appear at any moment!

It won't stop me from reading one or two more in this series, but these ladies need to wake up and get some good old fashioned Maine horse sense.  Still fun, just be prepared to suspend belief.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Current reading - The Pile keeps growing!

As most of my loyal readers know by now, Tutu always has several books going at the same time. I read physical books in print, on my NOOK, and also listen to audiobooks on a daily basis. Generally, I don't read from the same genre at the same time, or at least not in the same time setting. Currently though, I find that I'm really stretching my mental abilities by reading 9 (yes that's right) right now.

So if you don't see any completed reviews for the next 10 days, the reason is that all of these books are so interesting that I simply cannot stop reading any one of them.  Usually, as I get to the last 40-50 pages of a book, I'll put everything else on hold and finish that one.  Here's a quick thumbnail of what's "on the nightstand" this week.
In print:
I'm trying to read   Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir. It's a review copy I got from the Early Review Program of LibraryThing and it's way overdue, so I'm planning to devote several hours to it over the weekend. Because it's  gotten very mixed reviews so far,  I'm anxious to dive in and form my own opinion.

On the audio pod I'm listening to two very different books right now:

  • The Book of Old Houses (A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery) by Sarah Graves, This mystery is light, set in Maine, plotted well enough to hold my interest, but not so heavy that my brain is set spinning trying to figure it out. It's a great "read" for taking down and packing up Christmas decorations, doing laundry, and someday getting back to the pool.

    • The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. Considered one of the seminal works on WWI for my War through the Generations challenge, it's actually a re-read for me.  I read it years ago, and wanted to do it again to provide a good basis for the rest of the year's WWI books. It's well done on audio but I do have it also on the NOOK, so when I'm able I'm reading it one chapter at a time. It's quite full of names and places and really requires a good map and lots of time in between chapters to let the facts soak in. 
    Then on the NOOK:

    • I nabbed a copy of Bill Clinton's newest tomelet Back to Work it's only 144 pages and is due back to the library (i.e., it will expire on the NOOK) in 7 days, so I want to at least read the intro and opening chapter to see if it's worth dropping back on some of my others to finish.
    • I'm reading (and having a hard time putting down) Leighton Gage's latest A Vine in the Blood , an Inspector Mario Silva mystery set in Brazil. I love this series, and Leighton was kind enough to send a review copy...it's just out now, and is not disappointing. 
    • Another library download for the NOOK is House of Prayer No. 2. It has really grabbed my attention from the minute I opened it to see what it was all about. I know once I really get going, this is going to jump to the top of the line and stay there.

    • I love Charlaine Harris's Lily Bard series and had the 4th in the series Shakespeare's Champion on hold at the library. It came through earlier this week so I HAD to read that one. I started it this afternoon, and was actually reading it at choir practice tonite. I'm an alto, so I get lots of reading time while the choir director goes through soprano, bass and tenor parts. Don't you just love the NOOK? 

    • My World War I challenge has another on the current read list. This one, The Beauty and the Sorrow is a very special book written from the viewpoint of 20 different people from all countries involved in the war, and from all walks of life. It's very special, and I'm able to read it in small batches--each vignette is only 3 or 4 pages long. It will probably take me until late February to finish it, but it's a perfect read along to the heavier factual histories.
    • And finally on the Nook, I'm reading along in my presidential biography series. Right now I'm reading The Last Founding Father: James Madison and a Nation's Call to Greatness. by Harlow Unger. It's another big heavy tome that I found almost impossible to hold in my hands to read, but it's just great being able to read on the NOOK.

    •   I had to abandon a review copy of Juliette Gordon Low that I got from Net Galley. The epub they dropped was not formatted well-enough for me to be able to adjust an excruciatingly small font set in really tight line space. I hope when the book is published next month, that it will be more readable because JGL is a woman I've always admired (yes, I was a Girl Scout) and I'd love to read this one.
    I have several other Net Galley offerings waiting to be read and reviewed when this batch clears out, but this year I'm determined not to be rushed, and to read what is appealing to me, not what I HAVE to read. I trust you all will find something in the coming reviews to make you run out yelling "I've got to find that one."

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Review: The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes

    Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize
    Author: Julian Barnes  
    Publisher-Format: Alfred A. Knopf, Hardcover, 176 pages
    Year of publication: 2011
    Subject: The meaning of life
    Genre: literary fiction
    Source: public library
    Recommended? Absolutely.  A must - read

    There are a few books so well-written, so stunning in their impact, and perfect in their ability to stop us in mid-thought that they defy conventional review. I am not normally excited when I see the label "Winner of the Man Booker Prize" - I've read several good ones, but I've read others that have left me cold. This one however, is the best of the best. The book jacket describes it as being one of "Stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication." It is a short book, written in a clear, flowing, soothing style. It's not flashy, the sentences are not convoluted. Instead, the prose is eloquent, graceful and so thought-provoking as to be almost breath-taking.

    Basically it's the story of one man, Anthony Webster and his attempt to reconcile the memories of his early life with the realities of his later one. He seems to build his musings on a quote from Patrick Lagrange : "history is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation." The protagonist ruminates further: "It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others."

    There's no real plot, but as we are inexorably drawn to the end, we are suddenly confronted with an climax that is not foreseen. Anthony tells us, "Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn't all it's cracked up to be." This is a must read book. I won't spoil it by revealing anymore.  I got it from the library, but it will definitely be added to my personal library.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Review: Trespasser by Paul Doiron

    Author: Paul Doiron
    Publisher-Format: MacMillan Audio, 9:39, 320 page equivalent
    Narrator: Henry Leyva
    Year of publication: 2011
    Subject:Maine Game wardens 
    Setting: coastal Maine
    Series: Mike Bowditch (2)
    Genre: mystery- law enforcement professionals
    Source: public library download
    Recommended? - Yes if you like mysteries or Maine

     In this second installment of the (mis)adventures of Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch, Paul Doiron has given us a protagonist who is still recovering from the events in the first book of the series, The Poacher's Son.  While this one could stand alone, I think readers will not grasp the full extent of Mike's inner turmoil, and the demons he is still wrestling with unless they've read the first one. 

    The book opens when Mike is called by a demanding and irate citizen who cannot understand why the warden must follow certain procedures before just barging off to "arrest those dirt-bags."  At the same time, he is called to the scene of a car-deer encounter on a dark, foggy road (an not uncommon occurence in Maine), only to discover that the deer (presumably dead) is gone, and the driver of the vehicle is missing. When an obnoxious state trooper finally appears on the scene (he should have been the one to handle the case to begin with) and dismisses the missing driver with a remark that she was probably trying to avoid an OUI, Mike is outraged but too tired and muddy to stick around and challenge the other officer.  Once at home, the niggling clues that don't fit the trooper's assessment begin to bother him, and his rebellious and hard-headed nature once again kicks in.  What happened to the girl?  Is she OK?  When he tries to find out, he meets roadblocks at every corner, while his inner radar continues to pick up vibes that something is definitely wrong.  When the girl is found dead, the town and local cops are spooked by the resemblance to another murder seven years ago.  From there on, we watch as Mike becomes a self-destructive one man posse bent on proving everyone else wrong.

    Girlfriend Sarah has returned, but doesn't appear inclined to make their relationship more permanent until Mike agrees to counseling.  Mike's boss Kathy has only a cameo appearance in this one, as do his old friends the retired game warden Charley and his wife Ora.  Once again, the book is replete with lush descriptions of Maine's natural settings, its wildlife, and its citizens; it shows us again the very intense and necessary role the Game Wardens play in law enforcement in Maine. There are bodies, bad guys, suspects, and bosses galore.  Doiron shows us the close relation between the local sheriffs, police departments, the state police and the game wardens.  His portrait of Maine continues to enlighten and delight, and his mystery plotting is spot-on.

    I do hope that Mike and Sarah can get their relationship back onto a positive track and begin moving forward.  Mike is young (he's only been a warden for two years) and he has a lot to learn in the life department, but readers have become invested in getting this young man to adulthood, and look forward to the next novel in the series.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    The Giveaway Queen

    One of the most fun things about being a book blogger is getting acquainted (virtually at least) with some wonderful people who share your love of books.  Another is that we are able to feature books we receive from publishers to give away to our wonderful readers as an enticement to a) read and review the books, b) attract more readers to our blog, and c) get come great (AND FREE) publicity for their books.

    I haven't run a giveaway in a while because they are time-consuming and my review schedule is really backed up.  The library in town is keeping me quite busy, and frankly, I've wanted to devote my reading to books that truly interested me as a reader, not just books the publisher wanted promoted.  BUT, there is a blogger out there who is my nominee for "Queen of the Giveaways" - BINGO at Bookin' with Bingo.

    This lady has the respect of publishers, the devotion of over 1000 followers, and one of the most exciting blogs around. She's ALWAYS running giveaways (I've won a couple myself over the years) and she features a very eclectic assortment of interviews, giveaways, reviews, and graphcis. She is currently celebrating her third "Blogiversary" by giving away a boatload of books.  Several of these giveaways are still underway, so click that link and get on over there and treat yourself.

    Thanks Kaye for a wonderful three years.  I'm looking forward to many more.  Now do I get extra points for this post?  LOL

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Review: Kehinde by Buchi Emecheta

    Author: Buchi Emecheta
    Publisher- Format:Waveland Pr Inc (2005) Paperback, 144 pages
    Subject: Women's roles in various cultures
    Setting: London, Nigeria
    Genre:  African literature
    Source: Public library

    The Blurb:   Kehinde is a Nigerian woman, unsure of herself, not quite certain she has the right to be happy. With her husband, Albert, she has made a home in London, and has a promising career when Albert decides they should return to Nigeria. Kehinde is loath to do so, and joins him later, reluctantly, only to discover that he has taken a second, younger wife. Her years in England have left Kehinde unwilling and unprepared to reembrace Nigerian social mores; and unable to accept the situation, she returns to London.

    My Impressions:  This short crisply written book packs a wallop.  The main character Kehinde is a strong, educated but conflicted woman who is trying to reconcile the role of women in two cultures: the polygamous traditions of her native Nigeria where her extended family still lives, and the European customs and mores of monogamous marriage.  She and her husband Albert are both living in England where she has an excellent and well-paying job, a house, two children, and is well respected by everyone except her husband, whose lesser job does not reinforce his perception of his self-importance.  Letters from his sisters (who think he is very wealthy) make him believe he can be a larger than life big man in his home town, and he insists on returning to Nigeria.

    When Kehinde, who was left behind to sell the house and wait for her husband to find a job and a house in Nigeria, finally arrives, it is to find the second wife, a small house full of relatives, and her "English" ways very much unappreciated.  How she deals with the disappointment and disillusionment and how she comes to save herself and her dignity make for a compelling story.

    Published several years ago, this book was part of our library's "Opening the Windows" book discussion series we've been doing.  Seeing the lives, expectations, opportunities, and traditions of various cultures as they impact the lives of women, has been a truly enriching experience for those of us participating in the group.  This book is well-worth the two or three hours it takes to read it.

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

    Author:  Paula McLaine
    Publisher Format: Ballantine Books (2011), Hardcover, 336 pages 
    Subject: Hadley Richardson Hemingway
    Setting: Midwest US, Paris, Spain, various Europe
    Genre: Historical fiction
    Source: Public Library
    Meet a goal? Yes- Read General Fiction

    A nicely written book, nothing special. Written as historical fiction, it tells the story of Ernest Hemingway and his first (he had four!) wife, Hadley Richardson and their five year marriage. It appears to be well-researched and accurate, but the whole story left me depressed, not just about the failed marriage but about the entire life-style.

    While Hemingway was gathering "life experiences" for his writing, his wife is often left to her own devices in Paris, with little money, little ambition, and few resources except their group of high-rolling, heavy drinking, party throwing and going friends. The story unfolds mostly through Hadley's eyes and voice, although every once in a while (three or four times total) the reader is suddenly shifted to Ernest's point of view but in the third person. It was a bit scattered, as they rambled over Europe staying in a series of small apartments unless they could find rich friends to put them up. At times, they seemed the ultimate moochers. 

    There were skiing, fishing, hiking, drinking, and bull-fighting scenes to do justice to Ernest's well-known life style.  But there were also scenes of incredible insensitivity to spouses, children, and friends.   I did appreciate the author's epilogue which allowed us to see how Hadley's life progressed after her marriage to Hemingway ended. 

    Definitely worth reading, but probably not a re-read.  Had I not known before I started reading it, I would never have said this was on several lists of "best of 2011."  IMHO, it was good, but not that good.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Review: Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George

    Author: Elizabeth George
    Publisher-Format: Penguin Group USA, Dutton Adult, e-galley 615 pages
    Year of publication: 2012
    Subject: betrayal, family dysfunction, keeping secrets, infertility
    Setting: The Lake District, Cumbria, UK
    Series: Lyndley/Havers Mysteries
    Genre: Mystery - police procedural
    Source: e-galley from publisher through Net Galley

    It's been a while since Elizabeth George has given us a new episode in the ongoing adventures of Scotland Yard's Chief Inspector Thomas Lyndley and his trusty side-kick Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.  Believing the Lie was worth every minute of the wait.  It's meaty, some might argue a tad long, but the subtle layers of personal motivation, interwoven stories of various characters, and a crime that defies definition -- (was there a crime?) keep the reader up late at night, turning pages, vowing to read just one more chapter.

    There are several story lines going here, all of them inter-related but each also a stand-alone.  Havers is dealing with ambivalent feelings about her (and Lyndley's) new "guv" -the impeccably groomed Isabelle Ardery whose insistence on Barbara getting a haircut and spiffing up her wardrobe does not sit well with the Sergeant.  Barbara's also dealing with the sudden (and somewhat unwelcome) appearance of the mother of her next door neighbor's daughter.

     Debra and Simon are engaged in emotional upheaval revolving around their (in)ability to conceive a child.  Lyndley himself is still reeling from the death of his wife Helen three books ago, and is conflicted about his relationship with Isabelle, engaging in a highly charged sexual affair by night, and keeping an even professional keel in the office.

    Scotland Yard Commissioner Lord Hillyer sends Lyndley on an undercover, hush-hush mission to Cumbria to see if the death of his friend Lord Fairclough's nephew was truly accidental as it had been so ruled by the coroner.  Because Hillyer doesn't want anyone at the Yard aware of the investigation, Tommy takes his friends Simon and Debra St. James with him, swearing them to secrecy.  He tells Havers only that he will be gone for a few days, and simply tells Isabelle (his boss) that he's on assignment.  All too soon, Sgt Havers gets drawn in to research items for him using the Yard's resources, and Isabelle's nose gets way out of joint.

    The Fairclough family is a soap opera in print.  There's marital infidelity, an out of the closet gay couple, neglected children, a nymphomaniac mother, an out-of-control teenager, a recovering drug addict and his secretive wife, a matriarch who wants to control all, a disgruntled tenant farmer, a sour, spoiled-brat spinster daughter, and a divorced couple still living together.  The author manages to keep each of these story lines moving right along without confusion on the reader's part, and in the end ties everything together.  Often authors trying to keep this many balls in the air try to wrap everything up in a neat package with a pretty bow, leaving their readers breathless, confused and frequently disappointed.  George takes her time, drawing out the stories and letting them come to natural  conclusions, even when the reader would have wished for a better or different ending.

    George has built on characters introduced earlier in the series, but gives enough back story to provide new readers with a clear sense of who and why.  She has also given us a lot to look forward to in future installments.  Many potential readers are familiar with Lyndley and Havers from the PBS Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of the earlier books, and although those are well done, there is no way the TV specials can include the depth, diversity and delicate nuances of the books.

    If you enjoyed the TV show, you'll love the books.  If you're a fan of the series, you will love this one, and if you're new to Tommy and Barbara, grab this one (or one of the earlier ones)---you're in for a treat!

    Many thanks to Penguin for making the e-galley available for review.  Publication is scheduled for January 17th.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    A Plug for E-books

    I just completed the absolutely completely painless download of an e-book from Google e-books partnered with a local Indie Book Store. What a great way to patronize local (well --- it was 90 miles away in Portland but still in Maine) bookstore, get a book that had been on my wishlist, plop it on my NOOK, and never leave home!

    To me, this is one of the biggest advantages of the e-reader. This works for everything EXCEPT KINDLE (sorry Amazon patrons) and I hope our two local (like here within 10 miles) Indie bookstores will get on the band wagon. I've been very careful about spending $$ since we got the e-readers; it's so very easy to click that buy now button, but the advantage of knowing it will be there when I really want to read it, that I can support local small businesses but I don't have to buy it this very minute and let it languish on the shelf for 3 years, is very attractive.

    So for now, I'm off to finish an ARC that's got a pub date coming up next week. It's the new Inspector Lyndley - so stay tuned for a review. And THINK SNOW!!!

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Review: V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

    Author: Sue Grafton
    Publisher-Format: Random House Inc; Books on Tape; audio 15:11 hrs
    Narrator: Judy Kaye
    Year of publication: 2011
    Subject: Shoplifting rings, police corruption, organized crime
    Setting: Santa Rosa California
    Series: Kinsey Millhone mysteries, The Alphabet Series
    Genre: mystery - private detective
    Source: public library download

    Unlike some writers who get boring and formulaic and whose writing deteriorates as a series progresses, Sue Grafton continues to delight with fresh plots, well-developed characters, and excellent writing.  In this episode, many of the auxiliary characters we have come to love have very small parts: Henry, Rosie, and William put in only cameo or background appearances.  The story centers around Kinsey's inadvertent witnessing of a shoplifting, and the perpetrator's subsequent questionable suicide.  Hired by the decedent's "fiancĂ©" to prove it was not a suicide, Kinsey suddenly finds the situation dissolving into a very sticky mess, involving a big-hearted loan shark, dirty cops, stereotypical big brawn small brained thugs, unhappily married couples, etc etc. All the players stories come together to produce an ending that  many readers may not be pleased with, and frankly, I'm not sure the resolution is one I feel morally ok with, but given the choices, Grafton's denouement  is solid and convincing.

    Grafton has several different points of view running concurrently, a fairly new device for her writing, and she does it well.  In addition to watching Kinsey's investigation, we watch the lives of  one of the "bad guys" and another story line of one of the disaffected spouses and see how their actions and emotions influence what happens as the story progresses.  I haven't read one of these in awhile, and I don't remember previous volumes being quite this involved.  The story line while complex, flows well and Judy Kaye continues to do a great narrating job to keep us listening to the audio (in fact I took the long way home today just so I could finish one of the discs.)

    In this series, "V" is every bit as good as "A" was. In fact, if I had time, I'd love to start this series over from the beginning and read them again.  For new readers, the best part is that they can be read as stand alones and there's no need to feel you need to go back to the beginning.  Grab any of them, and be prepared to meet a smart, sassy, level headed private investigator who is one of my favorite characters.  She knows when to involve the police, when to say "no" to stupidity, and generally shows us a professional who generally doesn't participate in activities beyond her scope.  A great way to start the New Year.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    New Year's Resolutions - Let's Get Real!

    Welcome to Tutu's 2012 Goals.

    Rather than get all frazzled by joining sixty-eleven bazillion challenges, I'm doing something a bit different this year. I'm not going to spazz on numbers or challenges. In fact, I suspect, I'll actually be reading fewer books this year for a number of reasons. I read 149 in 2011, but think it will be closer to 100 for 2012. After looking at where I want my reading to go this year, I've decided to set some goals to guide my reading choices, but, with one exception I'm going to concentrate on what my sister Cheli has christened BOMBS (Books On My BookShelves). 

    I have several goals: 
    1. Continue to read in the US Presidents Challenge group on LibraryThing. This is an open ended "challenge" so I don't have to read any specific number.  I've only finished 5 so far, but just got "The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness" (which I started last year but couldn't hold the dang book-too heavy), so it's now on my Nook.

    2. I'll be reading at least 2 ARCs a week since I enjoy blogging about new books and publishers who grace me with review copies do have some expectation that I'll publish some reviews. I have a boatload of good ones on my Nook (many from NetGalley) and others as paper galleys to finish. I'm currently entranced by Elizabeth George's newest Inspector Lynley - "Believing the Lie" due for publication this month. 

    3. In addition to the President's bios, I'm going to read lots of other biography---this genre (along with memoirs) is one of my favorites, and I'm hoping to read at least one bio/memoir per month.

    4. I'' be reading lots of mysteries - in fact, I had almost decided to read only histories and mysteries for 2012, but I know myself too well to set myself up to have to refuse a good work of science, food writing or fiction.

    6. Speaking of fiction, I'm going to be skimming a lot of it during the year. I just got invited  to participate in recommending the adult fiction selections for the state's Overdrive Consortium - both ebooks and audios, so I have to leave room for those wonderful tomes I'll discover that scream "read me, read me."

    7. Also since I'm a Maine librarian, albeit a transplant "from away", I'm trying to do more reading of some of our great Maine authors like Elisabeth Ogilvie, Leah Wait, Sarah Orne Jewett, and many others. 

    8. Book clubs and group reads will provide some great reading. Our library's first up is "Kehinde" in our Women's perspective series.

    9. There'll be some miscellaneous non-fiction, particularly concerning food. 

    10. And my only "challenge" is participating in a group called War Through the Generations where we'll be reading (fiction and non-fiction) focused on World War I. I already have over 14 stacked up to read in a variety of formats - audio, ebook, and good old fashioned print. My daughter was a history/german major  so she loaded me up with a ton of goodies while we were in Virginia last week. 

    There's a great variety of formats available in this list and while many of these are available in audio,  many are already available sitting on my shelves (wooden or virtual) so I'll be able to keep up while I'm doing my 4x weekly water aerobics, waiting in line at the grocery or the blood lab  (e-readers are really great for this) or just sitting in front of the fire watching the snow fall. 

    I think I'll be keeping busy, but I hope to stop by and visit you all during the year.  Instead of just lurking, I'll be dropping a comment, and letting you know I've been to visit. I think sometimes it gets discouraging when there are no comments on a blog, so I'm going to try to be a better member of the blogging community and speak up a bit more.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Enjoy the party!


    Here's to a wonderful year of happiness, health and
    peace for everyone.

    I'll be checking in with a recap and some goal setting later today if I can get caught up.  In the meantime,  my thanks to everyone for your faithful following. Tutu has some new challenges in the wings and I hope you'll continue to join me here at the 2 cent roundup.  Now it's back to the party.