Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hidden in Plain View Thursdays

Buckley: The Right Word: About the Uses and Abuses of Language, including Vocabulary; Usage; Style & Speaking; Fiction
by William F. Buckley, Jr.

Welcome to the weekly feature where we use to pick a book from our library shelves (real or virtual) and bring it out into daylight.  To join in, the 'rules' are here.
     Be sure to leave us a link to your post so we can compare notes.

    This week's selection was hidden so well, I had to go to the attic annex to get it.  It looked so fascinating, it got promoted to the 'real' library downstairs.  Can you find it in the shot above? Answer at the bottom.

    Now here's a title!!.  I discovered William F. Buckley Jr last year.  We inherited a number of his books from auntie, and I had one of them, The Blackford Oakes Reader in my 999 challenge for short stories.  It was so delightful, I have resolved to read at least two more during the coming year.  This one looks like a winner, although at 541 pages, it is not necessarily one you'd want to read from cover to cover.  Since it is formatted as an omnibus series of essays, interviews, and other presentations, it looks doable in short bursts.  It certainly looks like something that would be fun to browse through.

    From the back cover: Buckley’s provocative observations on the use and abuse of English, gathered for the first time in a single volume - a “veritable cornucopia of language and logic that belongs in every library” (Library Journal). Edited by Samuel S. Vaughan.

    Did you find it?  Hint: It's on the top shelf at the left end of the books--next to the angel and the picture frame.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Wednesday Earplugs- the Weekly audios

    This week's audios were mostly mysteries...I also read Shanghai Girls  (my first Lisa See) and The Mysterious Affair at Styles (my first Agatha Christie) in an audio format.  Both of these got their own post (click the links) because they were Soooooo good.  I definitely intend to read more by both authors, either in paper or on audio.

    The others I 'ear-read' were

    Death is a Cabaret
    Deborah Morgan
    Narrated by Reed McColm

    This was quite a nice little surprise. I chose this as my audio read to balance the heavier pschycological and fantasy reads I was doing: A Circle of Souls, and Spellbinder, were pretty meaty for me.

    Anyway this delightful little cozy tells the story of an auction of the Empress Josephine's tea cabaret. I had no idea until I read this that a 'cabaret' is a tea set...and what a specimen this one was.

    Our protagonist, antique dealer Jeff Talbott, a 'retired' FBI agent, who is trying to find the long lost Cabaret for an elderly client who claims it was her mother's, finds himself on Mackinaw Island  at a weekend auction when his rival 'picker' and then the auctioneer are found dead.

    The supporting cast includes a rich couple who love to dress up, a trio of loony ladies from the South, a stuffy hotel staff, and the local police department who are all too happy to have a 'fed' solve the murders for them.....they haven't had one in almost 50 years!

    It was a fun audio, well plotted, and a little deeper than I expected. I'm going to look for more in the series.
    Brass Verdict
    Michael Connelly
    narrated by Peter Giles

    This was an ARC I received earlier from Hachette Audio.  I had never read any of the Harry Bosch stories, and was curious to see what all the hype was about.  This particular story actually has Harry in a secondary role to that of Mick Holler, a defense attorney who suddenly finds himself inheriting the entire caseload of a recently and unexpectedly deceased (as in murdered) fellow attorney.

    Mick has been 'out of the loop' for over a year recovering from addiction to pain killers, but he accepts the appointment from the Chief Justice of the state superior court, rounds up his ex-wife (who is still a great case monitor) and her current significant other (who is a great investigator) and gets to work on the case load.  Paramount in his work schedule is the defense of a big money movie mogul who insists that his trial cannot be delayed.  He is accused of killing his wife and her lover.  Messy, messy....

    As Mick clashes with Bosch, who is trying to investigate the original lawyer's murder, they both come to an understanding that the two murders may be related.  Connelly leads us on with tantalizing leads, excellent characters, and a story that can't be put down. 

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Review: The Christmas Cookie Club

    This book was part of the BEA Atrium Galley Grab earlier this summer, but I just couldn't bring myself to read about Christmas cookies in the heat.  I grabbed it earlier this week, and can't say I missed too much by waiting. It has good recipes, great little non-fiction essays on the history of various ingredients, like flour, butter, almonds, chocolate, vanilla, etc, loosely tied together by the stories of the 12 women who form the Christmas cookie club.

    They meet the first Monday of December to exchange cookies and catch up for the year. Their stories are wooden, formulaic, and re-hash many of today's "women's" issues (sex, divorce, pregnancy, widowhood, money, sullen teenagers, aging parents, etc etc) with nothing much new to say about them. The author could have done a much better job of building some character into these women. They all seem like wax figures from a museum who spit out their stories when someone winds them up and it's their turn.

    There seems to be a glut of these women's support group books being published, and it really is going to take some effort to come up with an angle that allows the group to present something fresh. This just didn't work for me. I enjoyed the food parts, but could have easily skipped the soap opera.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Sunday Salon

    Sundays are supposed to be the day we relax, enjoy friends and family, take stock of what's been accomplished in the past week, and plan what's coming this week.  I don't even usually do a SS post because I'm generally too wrapped up doing whatever you're supposed to post about.  HOWEVER.........

    This Sunday finds me trying to take a breath after a rather busy book week, and trying to get my mental arms around an upcoming ROAD TRIP this week.  So here's a quick splash of what's been happening and what's planned.

    In the past two weeks I've gotten 8  books in my mailbox (either ARCs or contest winnings):

    When Everything Changed by Gail Collins
    Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
    Secrets of a Christmas Box by S. Hornby
    The Gift of Murder (A Holiday Crime Anthology I bought to benefit Toys 4 Tots)
    The Recipe Club by  Andrea Israel and Nancy Garkinkel
    Who Turned out the Lights by Scott Biddle and Jean Johnson
    The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katherine Kenison

    I'm trying to decide what to take with me on this trip.  How much reading can I realistically expect to get done while visiting my Mom in Baltimore  (none--it's a fix the computer visit!),  my children (not much--too much food and catching up to do) and my granddaughter (none-girls are supposed to go shopping!).  So much for the first 5 days...

    Then there's a week in Florida attending a Navy reunion (reading??? I don't think so) seeing old friends ("excuse me, I know we haven't seen each other in over 20 years, but there's a cozy mystery I need to read!!"), and then more friends on the way back north from FL to Maine.  We even have a planned stop in NJ to have lunch with hubbie's agent for his book (keep your fingers crossed!), so my only reading time will probably be early AM, late evening and in the car. Since there are a total of almost 60 hours in the car, I should be able to knock a couple off the TBR pile.

    I'm trying to finish up my 2nd 999 Challenge over on LT, and decided at the last minute to re-arrange my categories to include a Christmas category.  So between now and Dec 31, I have 4 food books, 2 historical fiction, and 7 more Christmas books to finish up.

    I think my New Year's Resolution is going to be NOT to add any more challenges to the two I have already for 2010: to read 75 books (that's a no-brainer), and to get at least bios read toward the US President Challenge.'s what going with me when we leave town

    • Calligrapher's Daughter and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane for the historical fiction category.
    • Irish Country Christmas (audio), for the Christmas category
    • The Recipe Club for the food category
    • Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon and The Dead Cat Bounce for a feature I've been working on about amateur female cozy sleuths
    • If You Need Me-- just because I want to read it.
    Also my MP3 has 11 mysteries, 9 novels including The Shadow of the Wind which is my current 'ear-read', and 5 non-fictions loaded up, so I'll be able to dip into whatever floats my boat along the drive.  Hubbie and I have similar tastes so we often listen to either a non-fiction or a mystery in the car. In any case, there will be plenty of reviews coming in late November.

    So it's going to be a busy week....I know I'll get at least 4-5 hours of listening in while I pack, and run errands around town, so stay tuned.  The laptop is going with me, and we'll be sending back a few pictures of our adventures.  In the meantime, enjoy the crisp autumn air, the beautiful colored foliage, and the smell of wood burning in the fireplace or woodstove. 

    I think it's time for a walk ---where's my MP3?

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    Stuck in a Book - Guest Post - David Carr

    Yesterday I received my monthly newsletter from Novelist: RA News in which the editor David Carr eloquently mused about how we can sometimes find ourselves bogged down when reading an excellent book. I've often wondered why sometimes a book just doesn't "click" with me the first time, and yet I can return to it at another time and find it myself absolutely absorbed. This actually happened to me earlier this year. The first time I read Olive Kitteridge (long before it won the Pulitzer) I just could not like this book or this character. I forced myself to read it because it was set in Maine, and because I just kept feeling I should like it. Then about 5 months later, I read it again, this time with an online book group, and I saw it in a whole different light.

    The book David refers to "Cutting with Stone" was highly recommended by a good friend, but I really struggled with it. I have resolved to give it another try though so I can see if it too is one of those that simply must be read at the "right time."

    So I asked David, and he has graciously consented, for permission to reprint his opening article from the October issue of RA News: Stuck in a Book. If your library is lucky enough to have a subscription to the Novelist database, you too may be able to subscribe to this delightful newsletter and get the benefits of David's monthly musings.
    Stuck in a Book 
    by David Carr, editor, RA News from Novelist

    Earlier this year I reviewed a book I loved: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. In my review, I said that its excellence would make it difficult for me to find another book of similar magnitude. I wonder if that is one reason why I now find myself stuck in a fine police novel about postwar Britain, Flesh Wounds by John Lawton. I am enjoying it, and I'll read other books in this series; but I feel that it will never end. It seems to be adding new pages as I read. Meanwhile I am eyeing, almost apologetically, other books waiting for me: "Sorry, Philip Roth, Tana French, William Trevor, Joan Silber, this is just taking a little longer than I had expected." So my pleasure is diminished and I am not giving Mr. Lawton my best attention while it feels as if my other (better, smarter?) books wait patiently. It is their unrealized reader who is impatient.

    So many conditions have to align properly when we read, I think. We need true reading time, not just a stolen few minutes before sleep. We need a book that moves us forward with complexity and engagement, not density and confusion. This means fictional lives with human characteristics and consequential presence in our imaginations. And we need to be able to finish the book in a reasonable span of time. The alignment of all these things -- and there are many more, I believe -- is often out of our hands. Ideal conditions are episodic and temporary, like a patch of great weather.

    This has become more important to me as I begin to think seriously about setting some clear reading plans. I have classics, crime novels, westerns, Victorian fiction, novels of the First World War, countless essays, nonfiction works, all in my "to be read before death" lists. I don't want to cheat myself of Middlemarch or At Swim-Two-Birds or What is the What because I made an easy choice that I seem unable to finish up. (Listen to me: I'm complaining when I read, complaining when I don't read. Fickle, feckless.) In this case, what has happened to me is that I picked this book up instead of another, started reading and felt the casual commitment turn into a reluctant obligation, even as I read other nonfiction books and professional articles for my classes.

    My feelings as a reader are mixed. I need to read something fresh, but -- you probably know the story -- I'm more than halfway done, it's really a pretty interesting narrative and the characters and their behaviors fit my tastes. I'm just not enchanted. I wish I were reading more happily, less perfunctorily, and faster. Those great books -- they make it harder for the "merely" good ones.

    David Carr

    So fellow readers what do you think?  Do find yourself reading a book to completion because you feel like you've invested time in it already?  Do you have criteria you use to decide when to abandon a book? When to put it aside to return to later? How often do you put a book down?

    Again, many thanks to David Carr for permission to reprint his thoughts.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Review: A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

    All I can say is Wow!  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I don't normally read scary stories, stories about child murders, and I normally shun anything that is about the "paranormal."  So why am I reading so many of them lately?  A Circle of Souls was sent to my by the author Dr. Preetham Grandhi back in July and I'm ashamed that I haven't gotten to it sooner.  It's a winner!

    I've finished it, and I'm not quaking in my boots, and I don't think I'm going to have nightmares.  While the subject matter is unpleasant, the writing is so crisp, clear and centered on the good guys that it quickly becomes a real page turner.

    This debut book is extremely well-written, has a tightly woven plot, and well-developed characters.  Beginning with seemingly separate stories: a brutally murdered young girl and another young girl with hellacious nightmares, the author moves us inexhorably toward the meeting of these two separate stories and blends them believably into one.  In the beginning,  there are no clues to the murder, and no reason (either physical or mental) for the nightmares, but they are related, and the pychiatrist treating the young nightmare victim intuits their relationship from drawings made by his patient.  As he searches for the meaning of her drawings, and recognizes the locale in the pictures, he anguishes over how to help his patient and whether he should share his intuitions with the special FBI agent who has been called in to help local police investigate the case.

    This is not a normal murder mystery suspense thriller.  The characters are the strong point in this story: even the bad guys are well developed, with sound background and motivation presented to pull the reader in.  There is a large dose of the paranormal entwined with Indian cultural traditions, and Jamaican/West African folklore.  There are several side issues and players building enough doubt in the reader's mind to make it interesting and challenging to figure out 'whodunit.'

    It was written in short chapters that encouraged the reader to read 'just one more' before putting the book down, and in the end, to just continue reading to the climax.  Let's hope that Preetham Grandhi has more such well-written tales up his sleeve. 

    Just a note:  I find it fascinating that two of the best books I've read this year are debut crime stories written by doctors...the other was "Wife of the Gods" by Dr. Kwei Quartey.  We may not be able to read their prescriptions, but their books are great.

    Edited later to add a note:  I just found out that A Circle of Souls has just been announced as the winner of the General prize for Fiction in the 6th Annual National Best Books Awards sponsored by USA Book News. Congratulations to Dr. Grandhi.  It's nice to know others thought as much of this book as I did.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Hidden in Plain View Thursdays

    Monk's Hood: A Medieval Whodunit

    By Ellis Peters

    Welcome to the weekly feature where we use to pick a book from our library shelves (real or virtual) and bring it out into daylight.  To join in, pick a random book from your library and tell us:
    • title, author, #of pages, edition, (tags, and collections if LT)
    • why that book is in your library, (how and when you acquired the book)
    • whether you've read it or not
      • if so did you like it and why;
      • if not, do you plan to read it?
    Be sure to leave us a link to your post so we can compare notes.

    Can you spot today's book?  Answer at the bottom.

    Ellis Peters' Brother Caedfael series is a favorite of mine and my husband.  We got hooked on them over 25 years ago when we found them in a bookstore in HongKong.  We had read one of them, and when we spotted the whole series, we gobbled them up.  This week's random pick is Monk's Hood, no. 5 in the series.

    I'm refreshing my memory here from other reader's reviews on LT, but the story involves a rich nobleman who is murdered by poison (Monk's Hood) stolen from Caedfael's own dispensary.  When Caedfael  begins to help investigate, he discovers his first love (from his pre-monastic/pre-crusade days) is the newly widowed spouse of the deceased.  All the usual players are present- the sheriff, the abbot, and several colorful townsfolk.

    These mysteries are excellent, almost but not quite cozy, with well developed plots, well researched early forensics, and characters who stay with the series and grow as you read each book in the series.  You can pick up any of them without reading the others, but they are all worth a peek.

    They're also great videos to watch on a dark and snowy night...we often check them out from Netflix.  Derek Jacoby does an outstanding portrayal of Caedfael.  Either reading or watching, they're both enjoyable.

    Now --did you find the hidden book.  It's the 4th to the left of the center bookend on the very top shelf. here's what it looks like.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Review: Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

    Move over Harry Potter!!  Belladonna Johnson is here!  This delightful book (an ARC) arrived earlier this week, and it looked so fascinating that I moved it to the top of the queue, and bumped a couple others I was reading to the side.  I finished this in a day.   It's billed for 9-12 yr olds, YA LIT, but this is going to be enjoyed by all ages from about 9 up (I'd be more inclined to say 10 or 11 but....)

    Belladonna sees ghosts...she sees her parents, who died in an accident 2 years ago, but who still live at home with her and take care of her, although officially, she lives with her grandma who is still alive and who also sees ghosts. She sees the old man who used to run the launderette and various other friends no one else can see.  It can be embarassing though--all the kids at school think she's loony because she's always 'talking to herself.'

    Things are going just fine, until her parents disappear to the Land of the Dead (THE OTHER SIDE) and she sets out to find them, and to prevent other dire and drastic occurences from happening.  She is accompanied in this adventure by another ghost Elsie, who 'died' tripping over a tennis net 100 years ago when she won her match, and by Steve--the school's bad boy who turns out to be very handy at breaking and entering and climbing and slaying hounds, and all those other things a spare manchild can be useful for.

    This is a delightful book.  I don't read a lot of fantasy, but this one had me turning the pages as fast as I could gallop along to find out what happened next. There are beasties, and baddies, and wicked Queens, and spells, and elixirs, and magic rulers.  Everything one needs for a good old fashioned ghostie fantasy. It it due to be published this month, and I suspect it will become a runaway big seller.

    Finally, I noticed--happily--that the ending left plenty of room for further adventures.  I hope so. Belladonna is a real winner.

    Lovely Bones and the Bible Salesman : The Winners are............

    Many thanks to all who came by to enter the latest giveaways.  I love having new people stop by and hope you will continue to drop a few words in the comments box.   We have lots of lucky winners today, since Hachette Book distributors was kind enough to give us 5 copies each to giveaway.  And if you didn't manage to snag one of these, there are still plenty of giveaway opportunities out there...see the sidebar and click away.

    Here are the winners:

    Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    Winners are:

    kim (bookbutterfly)
    an anonymous reader

    The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton
    Winners are:

    Jane at Winningreadings

    So it's the standard drill...I'll notify all the winners by email by noon today and they have until noon Saturday to get back to me with their mailing information.  If I don't hear by then, I'll go to the next name on the list.

    Happy reading to all.

    Review: Chocolate- A Love story

    Well.....the UPS man dropped off this ARC earlier this week.  I don't dislike chocolate, but I confess that I am by no means a chocaholic, so I thought this might spur me to dive more into this delicious (and good for you) ingredient.

    This is a cookbook....there is very little text except for the recipes themselves.  It comes appropriately blurbed on the back cover by Paula Dean and John Travolta and Kelly Preston.

    My husband always had chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for his birthday, a habit we've kinda gotten out of these past years.  Now I have the recipe for "my lost childhood chocolate birthday cake sprinkled with shiny colorful candy tears" (lower case is from the author!), and it looks like something I might be able to assemble although I've never tried to make chocolate ganache....

    I myself could go for the 'therapeutic chocolate pot pie with a rich filling of soul-refreshing strawberries' least it comes with a picture to tempt me.  And herein lies my big problem with this book: While the recipes are yummy looking, clearly written and come with 3-4 lines of 'teaser text', the pictures are IMHO AWFUL.  I am not an art deco person, and when I pick up a cookbook, I want to see a picture of what this is supposed to look like when I'm finished mixing all these ingredients together.  I don't want to see something that looks like a 1st grader made it from torn construction paper.

    There's chocolate rice pudding, meaningless sweet spaghetti, and bad-boy chocolate pizza. And then there's 'miltary porridge' with the following introduction:
    My love, three years have passed since I last saw you.  So many things are changing around me and the war seems endless.  Only this late afternoon ritual, standing in the long line of soldiers in front of the huge aluminum saucepans covered with steam leaves me with the feeling that after all there are some things that never change in life.  Still waiting for your letter.
    This is on a page opposite a very tacky art deco sillouette of helmets atop rifles, with a tank and a missile in the background.  Ok...what pray tell does that have to do with food?  The recipe appears to be a semolina  bowl of grits/polenta type gruel, topped with sugar, water, heavy cream, stirred together to make a toffee sauce, and sprinkled with milk choc chips...I guess we have to be there.
    In spite of its avant garde-ness, it's a fun book.  If you don't mind the illustrations, and you love chocolate, this is the book for you.  It definitely fills a void in my cookbook collection.   I just wish it weren't so gosh darn UGLY.  Now I just have to make sure my membership is in good standing at the Y!

    Many thanks to Hachette Books for the review copy.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Mini Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

    Normally, I would have included this in my weekly audio post, but since this is my very first Agatha Christie I wanted to post it separately.  I've seen several Hercule Poirot mysteries on TV, and Agatha Christie has received millions of words of praise for her writing abilities, so I have no intention of doing a formal review.

    The Mysterious Affair at Styles is the first Poirot story in which not only Poirot, but also Hastings, his sidekick are introduced.  Poirot's sartorial fastidiousness, his tendency to assume Hastings is making the same assumptions he does--only to discover that Hastings is often in the dark--and his meticulous methodology are well established even in this first story.

    I found reading this (even with my ears) a delightful experience and look forward to many more Christies.  I think that I had been afraid that perhaps the writing would have had an old-fashioned stiltedness that I would find boring.  I assure you it wasn't the case.  This was every bit as fun as the TV series--in fact I suspect I will find the rest even more so.

    Nadia May(aka Davina Porter) did her usual good job of narration.

    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    100 Followers --- Thank You!

    Thank you thank you thank you---Tutu's Two Cents has its 100th follower today!!!    Nancye of Whatever It Takes was Number 100.  Thanks Nancye....

    I really appreciate all of you who follow us faithfully and  spread the word on your blogs.I wish I had prizes to send each and every one of you, but that's not in my budget.  So I'll just try to keep having an interesting chat with each one of you who stops by.  So enjoy your weekend reading.  I look forward to seeing you whenever you stop in to chat.

    Review: True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy

    I have always been a fan of the entire Kennedy clan, so it is hard for me to be objective when 'reviewing' this book. It is well written with typical Kennedy lyric prose; it is well-organized into sections that are somewhat different from a typical lineal time-line autobiography; it contains dozens of photographs that are not the standards we're used to seeing; and most important, it gives us an insight into a man who may be the least known of the famous family. 

    When I say least known, I don't mean unfamous or not well-known, but more private in terms of sharing his thoughts and inner motivations.  The influence of his parents, and his older brothers is beautifully explained, as well as his love of sailing,the sea (hence the title) and his home state Massachussetts.

    We are treated to stories about his relations with his parents, all his siblings and their spouses, his children and grandchildren, both his wives, his dozens of nieces and nephews, and his close friends.  In these, his introspection shines, as he opens the door to his feelings and emotions which have often been tucked away from public view.

    His respect for the Senate, and his pride in having served there for so long and so well, are quite evident, providing us with some of the most eloquent prose in the book, although here the book could have done with a bit of editing down...there was lots of detailed information about meetings, and phone calls and bargains struck that probably could have been pared a bit.  At times I had to force myself not to flip to the next page or paragraph.

    His love for his family is especially evident in the chapter where he speaks of the period 1994-1999, of being buffeted by the deaths of his mother at age 104, his nephew Michael in a skiing accident, Jackie Onnasis, and his nephew John Kennedy Jr in a plane crash -- all within five years.  As the surviving patriarch, he is called upon to eulogize all of them, a feat that requires him to keep his own grief somewhat tucked in. 

    In the end of this he quotes his father in a letter Joe Kennedy Sr wrote to a grieving friend on the loss of his son:
    "There are no words to dispel your feelings at this time, and there is no time that will ever dispel them...I cannot share your grief, because no one could share mine.  When one of your children goes out of your life, you think of what he might have done with a few more years, and you wonder what you are going to do with the rest of yours.  Then one day, because there is a world to be lived in, you find yourself a part of it again, trying to accomplish something--something that he did not have time enough to do.  And, perhaps, that is the reason for it all.  I hope so."

    Ted Kennedy continues:  "I wish that life were simpler.  I wish that loved ones didn't have to die too young.  I wish that tragedy never haunted a single soul.  But to wish all that is to ask for an end to our humanity.  God, family, and country sustain us all."

    His indomitable spirit, inherited from parents, and nourished by his experiences in this incredible family, has left us all enriched.  His memoir provides us with the inspiration to continue his work.

    Thanks to Hachete Books for making this review copy available and for letting me host the giveaway we completed last week.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Friday's Favorites from the Past: Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

    Oh Christmas Cookies...

    Every Friday, Alyce At Home With Books features this meme inviting us to look back at a favorite book from the past.

    I come from a family that loves Christmas cookies.
    Each mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, niece, daughter, grand-daughter has a special recipe that is a favorite.  Even when we were overseas for years, we baked, and mailed, and shared and gathered even more new cookie recipes.  We go to cookie exchanges, we call each other every year to verify the ingredients for grandma Nona's "Fraguna".  We even published little mini-cookbooks ----like we typed and xeroxed and hole punched and put little ribbons thru the pages --even put a construction paper cover on them with stencilled designs on the cover.

    Last weekend, in preparation for a trip to my hometown late this month, I was browsing thru all my cookie recipes and cookbooks--they are kept in a slipcase just for Christmas baking--trying to figure out how many pounds of flour, sugar, butter, raisins, nuts, etc., I might need.  The list of possibilities grows every year (as do the hips!!!), but I always come back to this book--Betty Crocker's Cooky Book-- which I got for a wedding present in 1967.  The pages are caked with batter droppings, stained with green food coloring for the spritz trees, stuck together with candy cane chips, and literally falling out of the spiral binding.  But that Spritz cookie recipe is the only one that works in my cookie gun.

    I had a chance to buy one of these books in excellent shape at a used book sale last year, but passed on the opportunity.  It had no character.  Whoever had owned it had obviously never baked anything from it.  The pages were CLEAN.

    So in honor of the kickoff of the baking season (rumballs have to 'stew' for at least 6 weeks) I look to Betty Crocker as my favorite from the past.

    Do you have a favorite cookbook? cookie book? recipe?

    I've been thumbing through Ann Pearlman's Christmas Cookie Club ARC which has been sitting here for weeks, and have decided to add a Christmas category to my 2nd 999 challenge.  I've gotten several holiday themed books in the past couple weeks, so I'm going to settle down in November and really enjoy my favorite holiday.

    Stay tuned for Holiday Ho Ho Ho Reviews and Happy Baking...

    Review: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

    Having never read any of Lisa See's books, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I finished this one earlier this week, but had to let it settle before I could decide how I felt about it.  I have purposely not read other reviews, although one of my online books buds at LT said she hadn't read the book yet because the reviews had been mixed.

    Normally I try to describe the characters, the setting, enough of the plot to spark an interest and then comment on how I liked (or didn't like the book).

    The characters: May and Pearl are sisters born in Shanghai who were raised by parents much more liberal and open-minded about the role of women than their ancestors.  Although their mother suffers from having had her feet bound as an infant, the girls are able to wear high heels, work as models, go to nightclubs, keep the money they earned (they gave it to their father to 'invest' for them) and generally enjoy the good life.  However, the father turns out to have gambled the family's money away, and to pay off his debts to the Chinese mafia, he arranges marriages for his daughters to Chinese living in America, something their mother had promised would never happen.

    The setting: We are treated to a very realistic description of Shanghai (I've seen it described as the Paris of the Orient) in the 1930's.  Then once the Japanese invade China, we see the Chinese countryside with all its poverty and desperation and we must endure the horrors visited upon the Chinese by their invaders. Then we are transported to Angel's Island off the coast of California, where the sisters are incarcerated for almost a year waiting to be believed that they are in fact married to American citizens.  The Angel's Island scenes are evokative of a combination of Ellis Island and concentration camps, and while they can be depressing, they are enobling in the scenes of women taking care of each other. After their release from Angel's Island, the sisters settle with their husbands' family (they married brothers) in the Chinatown section of Los Angeles.

    From here the book is devoted to a description of the Chinese immigrants who live in America and who are divided into the group who longs to return to 'the old country' and those who want to assimilate into American life and wants their children to have a better life (AKA The american Dream).  As the anti-communist campaign in American heats up in the 1950's, we see the results of secrets kept, lies told, papers lost, and dreams shattered.  The constant conflict between the old and the new, the wish to honor one's past and one's ancestors, and still belong to the present makes this a compelling story.

    I enjoyed this book, I learned a lot about many subjects where I knew very little, and I developed an appreciation for the trials of all immigrants- legal and illegal.  I wish the ending had been different, (can't say anymore without a spoiler) but I was left with the thought that there may be room for a sequel.  That way one could see the ending here as the precursor to a new beginning and that's what immigration and settlement in a new country are all about.

    I 'read' this book as an audio- it was a download from the public library's Overdrive database.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Review: The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo

    " Tutu" is hawaiian for 'grandmother' and although this Tutu doesn't usually review children's books, this one is super special. Toni Buzzeo, the author, is a fellow Maine librarian, author of many gorgeous children's books, and when this one came into our town library last week, Tutu could not resist buying one to give to our grand-daughter for her upcoming birthday. Buzzeo has a long list of wonderful children's books to her credit, and I urge you to take a look on her webpage, if for no other reason than to dispel the stereotype of the uptight, rigid librarian of mythology.

    Besides the beautiful prose, the illustrations by Mary GrandPre (she of Harry Potter cover fame) which are done in oils, are breathtaking.

    The story, one of quiet beauty, portrays the intense loneliness of the life of a small girl living alone with her parents on an island off the coast of Maine where the lighthouse helped protect ships at sea. A violent storm washes ashore a seachest with a special treasure inside. This gorgeous book is spellbinding for the 4-8 age group, and inspiring for adults. The illustrations are absolutely spectacular.

    If you are looking for a special gift for a special child, this is it. If you don't have a special child in your life, then treat the child in yourself and wallow in this book for awhile. It's a stunner.

    Heads up FTC: Although we both work in Maine libraries, I've never met Toni Buzzeo, and paid for this book myself.

    Hidden in Plain View Thursdays

    Baltimore Harbor, A Picture History

    Welcome to the weekly feature where we use to pick a book from our library shelves (real or virtual) and bring it out into daylight.  To join in, pick a random book from your library and tell us:
    • title, author, #of pages, edition, (tags, and collections if LT)
    • why that book is in your library, (how and when you acquired the book)
    • whether you've read it or not
      • if so did you like it and why;
      • if not, do you plan to read it?
    Be sure to leave us a link to your post so we can compare notes.

    This week we went to page 11, book #85 of the collection "Your Library' in LibraryThing. These are books we physically own.  Our book of the week is one that I love to browse through, and often leave on the coffee table when we have guests.  I'm a native Balmoron, so Baltimore Harbor, a Picture History, by Robert Keith, was a book we couldn't pass up.  It is a paperback edition, 168 pages from Johns Hopkins University press that we found on the sale table at B&N two years ago when we were in Baltimore to celebrate some family event or other.

    It's chock full of great old photos of early Baltimore clippers, fire engines, tugs, ferries, and cool skyline sights I remember from my early early childhood having lived in South Baltimore less than 1/2 mile from the harbor.  No I can't say I've read it all the way through, but yes, I've browsed it and waxed nostalgic several times.

    Don't you love books that recall your childhood?  Especially ones like this that bring back the same kind of feelings you get when looking through a family photo album or scrapbook.

    Does your hometown have a pitcher book? (That's how they say it in Ballmur hon!)  Tell us about it.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Wednesday Earplugs- the Weekly audios

    Several people have asked how I manage to listen to so many here's the answer:   I listen constantly if I'm not sitting physically holding a book.  And ---here's my other confession:   Shhh,,,,I'm a video game addict and have a new game I've been trying to master, so I sit at the computer, play a game, and listen to a book.

    It's also baseball playoff season, so I'm spending a lot of TV time these days with my eyes on the screen, and my ears on a book.  That hobby ended abruptly this past weekend as our Red Sox decided to take an early vacation.  So I've been substituting needlework for TV viewing.  My husband is a crime writer (no more on that for now as I don't want to jinx him) so he's constantly got the TV on some shoot-em-up or other, particularly in the evenings.  Since our TV is right next to the fireplace, if I want to stay warm, I should be in that room.  It's often hard for me to 'tune out' what's on the screen, and I do love him dearly and want to be with him, so we compromise, he works on his laptop and watches Sleuth TV, and I listen to a book with good sound deadening earphones, and play video games on my laptop, or do needlework.

    Also, I do some kind of physical exercise every day....either I work out on an elliptical or walk for about 40 minutes, or I drive an hour R/T to the Y to work out in the pool.  So....lots of listening.

    Finally, I save the big 'chunksters' for reading...they often require a level of concentration I don't give to audios.  I tend to reserve the 'ear-reading' for short, cozy mysteries or pop fiction--although this week's batch does contain the less than spectacular non-fiction by Gore Vidal.

    Here's the latest batch:

    Christmas Secret
    Anne Perry
    Narrated by:Terrence Hardiman

    An endearing cozy set in Victorian England- Anne Perry's forte.  Unlike her William Monk or Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, this stand alone features an amateur sleuth, a country vicar and his wife, who think they are simply spending Christmas at a rural parish while the current vicar goes on vacation.  Instead they find themselves solving a mystery.   A lovely little story, easy to read, and easy to listen to as an audio.  I've done both.  And I just found out these are an annual event, so I have four more to track down and read/listen to.

    Inventing a Nation
    Gore Vidal
    Narrated by: Paul Hecht & Gore Vidal
    If you've read any biographies of the 1st three presidents, this book will actually be boring, unless you are a great fan of Gore Vidal's snarky 'insights.'  I didn't learn anything new, and found myself constantly asking "What's the point?"  It's a quick read for those who want only an overview of these three founders, and who don't mind editorial comments mixed in with their 'history.'  I'd almost say a waste of time unless the subject matter is completely unknown to you (and don't ask me the focus of the subject matter--I couldn't find the focus.)

    Death in a Strange Country
    Donna Leon
    Narrated by : Anna Fields
    Abandoned Book

    I'm a big fan of Donna Leon and of this Commissario Guido Brunetti series.  However, I could not listen to this because the narrator has such a poor command of Italian.  Leon often has her characters speaking in either Italian or Venetian dialects, and other narrators in this series bring that glorious language to life.  Anna Fields slaughters it, and it was too painful to listen to.  I'll have to track this one down in print.


    Devil's Claw
    Narrated by: Stephanie Brush

    Another episode in the continuing adventures of Joanna Brady, the first (and only) female sheriff in Arizona. Joanna is eagerly anticipating her wedding in a few weeks, although not eager about meeting her fiance's parents.  In the meantime, she's trying to solve a murder, locate a missing teenager who happens to be the daughter of the murder victim, deal with the unexpected death of her beloved next-door neighbor, keep her mother and future mom-in-law off her back, and keep her feet on the ground. In all of this she is supported by her future husband-Butch, her daughter, and her staff, who all become more like friends with each book in the series.

    I was a bit confused about the ending at first, I really had to sit down and almost draw myself a diagram to see how the pieces fit so nicely together.  Jance's explanation may have wrapped it all up a bit too neatly, and left me saying 'Huh?'  When I finally understood what had happened and why, it made sense, but I think the resolution of the main crime (the murder) case could have been a bit more carefully explained as far as who all the players were and how they were involved.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Mixing It Up in New England

    This month we are celebrating our 100th member in the New England Bloggers group hosted by Elizabeth at Thoughts from An Evil Overlord.  To encourage us to party hearty, Elizabeth suggested that we really get around and visit as many fellow NE bloggers as possible and then blog and link about the experience.

    I started with my fellow Mainers-their list of accomplishments spells food, fun, and lots of creativity in scrapbooking, cooking, home-schooling, gardening, traveling, sewing, etc.  Here's the list of those I visited in Maine:

    Eva at Wrestling With Retirement - my kinda woman- go check out her current ROAD TRIP
    Julie at Stampin With Julie - I didn't know a thing about Stampin but boy--this blog is a wealth of information- and really pretty too!
    Lori at A ScrapMom's Musings - Wow - there's a site that made me wish I had an extra 20 hours in my week so I could take up scrapbooking.  What an elegant site.
    Penny at Penny's Art Room -another wealth of gorgeous fall photos and lots of creative ideas.
    Jenny at ...My Perfectly, Imperfect Day who instantly wins the best looking doggie on the blog prize.  Her project 365 posts put her in my blog reader for sure.  They're wicked lovely.
    Catherine at Art from the Heart- another fantastic site full of creative art techniques, and resources.
    Dawn at C&G Design where doll making and crafting rule.
    Debbie at Blueberry Plains whose photos of the recent harvest made me green with envy.
    Lisa at Pink Porches - Whose blog isn't pink at all, but who can tell some great stories.
    And April at coff-a-cup - her post Curtain rods in the land of make believe gets my nomination for tears-to-my-eyes laugher of the year.

    Now my favorite New Englander tho has to be a fellow book blogger and she's Gwendolyn from Rhode Island at A Sea of Books.  Hubbie and I met in Newport RI 43 years ago, and made our honeymoon trip a trek through I'm tied to both ends of this road.  Gwendolyn's insights on books, and things literary, along with her musings on living by the sea, and wonderful contests make her blog a winner in my book.

    Later this week, I hope to peruse other blogs to see if I can't find other fellow book bloggers from New England.  If you're out there, stop by and say hello.  We can't expect Elizabeth to provide a dating service to match us all up.  In fact, let's definitely all make sure we stop by Thoughts from an Evil Overlord (be sure to read how she came up with that name!) and give Elizabeth a great big virtual hug for hosting this mixer.  It's been lots of fun and I look forward to her final mix-it=all-together post after the 20th.

    Maybe we should look for a central NE Bloggers get-together site in the next few years!

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Review: Rizzo's War

    This is NOT your average police/crime/forensic procedural. This is a book with great police characters who actually have brains and hearts as well as brawn with some police procedure to help flesh out the characters.

    Lou Manfredo's debut novel opens with a crime scene, but quickly shifts to a discussion between the two main characters: Detective Joe Rizzo, a 20+ year veteran of the NYPD, and his newest partner, young just-made detective, eagerly ambitious Mike McQueen.  By the end of the first seven pages, I was determined to dislike Rizzo intensely.  By the end of the book, I was in love with him.  Manfredo's character development is some of the best I've seen in a police procedural, and to me is exceptional in a first book.

    As they solve their cases, Rizzo teaches young McQueen the ropes, gingerly stepping through the minefield of looking the other way, developing a series of 'favors' given and returned, and staying just inside the law.  Set in a predominently Italian neighborhood, Joe exhibits the ability to take cultural differences into account when questioning people, when trying to determine what really happened and why, and he insists that McQueen try to apply those same attitudes.

    Unlike many books currently featuring policemen and detectives, the cases are not the central point of the book.  While they are well presented, giving us a good view of the dreadful, often demoralizing life of  big city crime solvers and the reader is drawn steadily along to see how they are resolved, the core discussion is the subject of honesty, integrity, right vs wrong, black vs white and how the average cop on the beat is confronted with moral decisions every day.

    The author, drawing on his own 25 years experience in the Brooklyn criminal justice system, adds into the mix the inevitable crooked politicians and cops on the take to give us an exciting, tightly drawn picture of law and order in today's world.

    In the end, we come to understand Rizzo's motto: "There's no wrong. There's no right. There just is."

    This was ARC copy I received from the Early Review program of LibraryThing.  Thanks to Minotaur books for making it available.  It also came with a promtional sampler of the audio book to be released.  If you like your books in this format (as I certainly do) this one is OK, but I didn't care for narrator  Bobby Cannavale's rather flat rendition.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Winners - True Compass Giveaway!

    Many thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway for Ted Kennedy's beautiful memoir, True Compass.  I started reading my review copy last night, and have not been disappointed.  I'll post a full review next week.  So far, it's living up to expectations.

    So, without further ado, the lucky winners of this giveaway (thanks to for selecting) are

    Renne !!!!


    I'll be notifying them by email today.  If I don't hear from them by Monday nite, I'll draw another winner.  If you didn't win this one, there are other great giveaways on the sidebar.  Please continue stopping by to join in the fun.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Treasures in the Attic

    Instead of my weekly Favorites from the Past post, I decided to chat about the  gorgeous autumn day I spent in the attic earlier this week---sorting and cataloging more books into our LT account.  When I climbed the steps, this is what greeted me.

    After spending the afternoon digging thru the boxes, (I was actually looking for a specific non-book item for hubby) I can't say it was too much better, but here are some of the treasures I did manage to unearth and catalog. I was going to list many more, but getting the pictures to line up here is NOT working.  So we'll have pics of some, and discussion of others...

    A couple of these were really fascinating: (There's no picture of this one) Tales of the Observer,  is a small pamphlet released by Jordan Marsh Co in Boston detailing the insider story of the retail business.  Published in 1950, during the Jordan Marsh heyday,  it gives us a good look at life in the founding of the store and life in the mid 1800s. I know JM merged and became Macy's in the late 1990's, and I'm not even sure that Macy's still exists, but this one is a great little read.  Not sure where it came from, or why we have it, but it's a treasure.

    Another really interesting volume was one hubby picked up when he began teaching Social Studies and the Soviet Union was breaking up into pieces: The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union.  Hubs said he used it several times as a reference, but it looks interesting enough to me that I've put it on the TBR mountain.  Why not?  I figure that just about the time I get all the "stans" straight in my mind, somebody will come along and decide to re-divide/re-name at least one of them! At least I have a provenance on this one.

    Many of these were what may end up being (when I get them all unpacked) a complete set of National Geographic Special Editions published in 1990 to celebrate that division's 25th anniversary.  As with everything NGS publishes, they are prizes of lavish photos, eloquent phrases, and the stuff of dreams for youngsters.  They are on the shelf in the grand-babe corner of the attic (picture of that next time when we get it more organized).  One can still travel in books as well as on the internet or in a movie theater. And I obviously brought the New England Land of Scenic Splendor downstairs with me to soak up with tomorrow morning's cup of coffee.

    All the links will take you to the LT book page in my library. If you interested in more details, click away.

    So now....what's your 'Attic'?  A closet? A box under the bed? A shed? An extra room (be still my beating heart!)? We all have a secret stash of books someplace - where is yours?  How big is it? and how often do you add to it?  I'd love to compare notes.  Just call me nosy.

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Wednesday Earplugs- the Weekly audios

    This week's audios have been exciting, surprising, and disappointing. I guess that proves the old adage "different strokes for different folks."  It certainly was an interesting week.


    Tunnel Vision
    Sara Paretsky
    A V.I. Warshawski novel

    Reminiscent of Kinsey Milhone in Sue Grafton's alphabet series, V.I (Vic) Warshawski, private detective lets her enthusiasm for a cause get her into hot water.  This is the first of these books I have read, but I suspect it follows the previous pattern.  It's a good read, not a great one, but does give the reader a sense of adventure on the one hand, and frustration on the other, as Vic continually ignores advice from her boyfriend (a cop), licensed social workers, attorneys and journalists to do her own thing.

    In the end, the missing are rescued, the bad guys end up in jail, and the murders get solved....those aren't spoilers, they're the general theme of all such cookie cutter mysteries with "wonder woman" leading ladies.

    Surprising..............a new discovery

     Moth (Lew Griffin Mysteries)
    James Sallis
    Narrator; J. Valmont Thomas

    I like this character, and enjoyed this book. There's not much plot though, Lew Griffin, big tough teddybear ex detective turned college English lit prof, takes the reader along on the ride as he looks for the daughter of his ex-wife, and several other missing persons.  All unofficial of course.

    The man has a tendency to land in mud, followed by hospitals,and is nursed back to health by a series of motherly nurses and ex girlfriends.

    The best thing about this one was the audio.  I enjoyed the excellent reading which took me back to time spent in New Orleans.  The accents are authentic and rich.

    A great rainy afternoon listen.  Not great literature, but good characters and soothing story telling.


    Love Over Scotland
    A 44 Scotland Street Novel

    Alexander McCall Smith
    narrator Robert Ian MacKenzie

    I wanted so much to like this book.  I'm a hugh Alexander McCall Smith fan, but this series just doesn't click with me.  I thought perhaps if I listened rather than read it, I'd be able to relate better, but it just didn't happen.  If you are 44 Scotland Street fan, you'll enjoy this.  Beyond that I just can't say that I understand enough where AMcCS is going to recommend it to anyone else.

    A pleasant and exciting surprise....................... 

    Absolute Certainty
    Rose Connors
    narrator: Bernadette Dunne

    This was a knockout.  The main character, Marty Nickerson is an assistant DA in Barnstable Cty, Massachusetts-- Cape Cod.  A series of particularly heinous murders of young males has her doubting the validity of the first conviction, since the murders continue while the first 'murderer' sits in jail.

    Her relationships with her bosses-particularly chain-smoking Geraldine Shilling who aspires to become the first female DA in the county; with the "kid"-the young new attorney in the DA's office; and with the public defender Harry Madigan, who works with her to discover whether they've got the right guy, are well drawn.

    The plot develops steadily, with each chapter racheting up the suspense as more evidence (is it admissable?) piles up.  When Marty continues to question her superiors, the action really picks up. The story is so tightly written, that I did not guess the identity of the murderer until Connors tells us.

    As an audio, it was as easy to follow as text.  There are now four more Marty Nickerson mysteries in this well-written series, and you can bet I'll be looking for them either in print or in audio.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Cleaning the Shelf Contests

    I usually just post contests in the sidebar because there are so many of them, and the posts get lost over the days, but these two deserve a look.

    Over at Rhapsody in Books,
    they're cleaning out some gorgeous shelves.  There's a giveaway for four different books, and some photos of some shelves that make even me jealous...I particularly like the hallway idea...ours is totally bare right now, and those 65 cartons in the attic are looking for a home.  Stop over and check out the shelves and the contest.  Deadline is October 29th.

    Alyce of At Home with Books has begun having monthly book shelf cleaning giveaways.  I hope she keeps it up because one of these days I might win.  She always has some good pickin's.  Please stop by and check it out! This month's deadline is also October 29th.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Review: Guardian of Lies

    This is a "clear your calendar and prepare to stay up all night" thriller.  Although Martini plants numerous clues, and the reader thinks he knows what's happening, the plot twists are numerous, and aggregate into an incredible story featuring the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war, Homeland Security, the Columbian and Mexican drug cartels, a beautiful model from Costa Rica, Guantanamo bay detainees, missing nuclear weapons, and a bunch of lawyers in San Diego California trying to prosecute or defend the beautiful model when she is accused of killing a local coin dealer (who turns out to be a retired CIA operative).

    Anyone else trying to tie all that together would have left us in a sinking morass of confusion.  Martini pulls it into a breath-taking fast-paced, very scary (because it's so believable) story with an acceptable resolution.

    I've read several others in the Paul Madriani series.  I think this is definitely the best.  I'll certainly be looking for the rest. 

    This was an Early Review book I received from LT. 

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    Giveaway - The Bible Salesman

    Little Brown has just published the trade paperback of The Bible Salesman, and has made 5 copies available to me for giveaway.  Don't you love the chance to get a free book to enjoy?  I haven't read it yet, but have seen several reviews that speak positively about it.  Here's the publisher's description:

    Preston Clearwater has been a criminal since stealing two chain saws and 1,600 pairs of aviator sunglasses from the army during the Second World War. Back on the road in postwar North Carolina, now a member of a car-theft ring, he picks up hitchhiking Henry Dampier, an innocent twenty-year-old Bible salesman. Clearwater immediately recognizes Henry as smart but gullible, just the associate he needs--one who will believe Clearwater is working undercover for the F.B.I.; one who will drive the cars Clearwater steals as Clearwater follows along in his own car at a safe distance. Henry joyfully sees a chance to lead a dual life as a Bible salesman and a G-man.

    During his hilarious and scary adventures, Henry grapples with doubts about the Bible's accuracy, and we learn of his fundamentalist upbringing, an upbringing that doesn't prepared him for his new life. As he falls in love with the captivating Marleen Green and questions his religious training, Henry begins to see he's being used--that he is on his own in a way he never imagined.

    So now for the rules,,,I'm keeping this one simple too

    1. ONE entry only - just give me a comment, say if you're a follower (an extra point), and if you blog about this you'll get 2 points for a post, and 1 for a sidebar (give me the link please).
    2. Include your email address- no email, no entry.
    3. Entries by Oct 20th, I'll draw at 12:01 Oct 21, and must have a reply by Oct 23, or next person gets drawn.
    4. Open only to US and Canada, no PO Boxes.

    AGAIN ===Please only one entry....I'll assign the extra points from your entry....just follow the rules.

    Now sit back and keep your fingers crossed....

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    October Giveaway - The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    Hachette has another great book giveaway this month.  Alice Sebold's book is being made into a major motion picture later this year, and to celebrate they're making 5 copies available for me to give away.  Not familiar with the book? I'll do a review when I get my copy but in the meantime here's their blurb:
    Book Information:

    THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

    Once in a generation a novel comes along that taps a vein of universal human experience, resonating with readers of all ages. THE LOVELY BONES is such a book -- a #1 bestseller celebrated at once for its artistry, for its luminous clarity of emotion, and for its astonishing power to lay claim to the hearts of millions of readers around the world.

    "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

    So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.

    The major motion picture version of THE LOVELY BONES, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan is scheduled for release on December 11, 2009.

    Alice Sebold is the author of three #1 bestselling books, the novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon and the memoir Lucky. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

     So now for the rules,,,I'm keeping this one simple.

    1. ONE entry only - just give me a comment, say if you're a follower (an extra point), and if you blog about this you'll get 2 points for a post, and 1 for a sidebar (give me the link please).
    2. Include your email address- no email, no entry.
    3. Entries by Oct 20th, I'll draw at 12:01 Oct 21, and must have a reply by Oct 23, or next person gets drawn.
    4. Open only to US and Canada, no PO Boxes.

    Good luck.

    Earplugs- the Weekly audios

    I'm so so into audio books.  I cannot imagine sitting down to relax without having a plug in my ear to listen as I do needlework, 'watch' the RedSox blow another one, or just relax and watch the leaves fall.  It's especially de-stressing to listen as I chop veggies for dinner, or fold laundry.  So I felt like I'd found a real kindred spirit when I read fellow blogger Anastasia's terrific post on Bird Brain(ed) Bookblog titled On Audiobooks and why they are awesome.--don't you just love that name?-both the blog and the post? Anastasia makes a cogent and passionate defense of the audio book format. Be sure to check it out.

    This weeks' listening involved mysteries, and both were part of ongoing series featuring in the first the urbane, suave Chief of La Surete in Quebec, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, and in the other one of my favorite amateur sleuths: 92 year old Victoria Trumbull of Martha's Vineyard.

    The Paperwhite Narcissus
    Cynthia Riggs
    Narrated by Davina Porter
    A Martha's Vineyard Series mystery

    This one features Victoria Trumbull, 92 yr old journalist, and unofficial deputy chief of police. She has the chief of police (60 some years her junior) driving her around after they took her driver's license away, she still mounts steps like a 10 year old, climbs ladder, catches fish, and has that imperious school marm voice that can bring 60 year old men to their knees.

    There's also Colley Jamison, editor of the island's only newspaper. He is supporting 4 ex-wives and desperately trying to get his hands on some money. Someone keeps sending him obituaries purporting to be Colley's. To keep expenses down at the paper, he fires Victoria and several others, replacing them with young female summer interns who work for the glory of it. He acts surprised when Victoria threatens to sue him for age discrimination, and then grudgingly hires her to find out who is sending the obituaries.  Oh yeah....the obits keep showing up right about the time of murders....which seem to be a growth industry on the island.

    Cynthia Riggs gives us a great picture of the Vineyard, the separate areas of the island, and the culture of the people who live there year round. This cozy is well plotted, has great characters, and is easy on the ears, and mind.  It's a great fun whodunnit.  Be sure to check it out.  Any of this series is worth reading- with your eyes or your ears.

    My only complaint with this audio is having a British voice do the narrating. It seems very out of place. Davina Porter is one of my favorite narrators for audio books, but the voice just isn't right for Martha's Vineyard.
    A Rule against Murder
    Louise Penny
    narrated by Ralph Cosham
    An Inspector Gamache mystery.

    This one is just plain fabulous. I have a full review you can read here.

    This week I have another mystery on deck: this one a female private eye; and then I just got a wonderful Alexander McCall Smith story that I can't wait to get to.

    Stay plugged in.