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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Torch of Freedom

Weber, David, & Eric Flint.  Torch of Freedom.

Still part of the Honorverse, but Honor Harrington makes only a token appearance.  This novel focuses on the planet Torch and the prospective invasion by Mesa.

Can't begin to explain as there are so many characters (many of them new) and the background has been put in place in previous works. 

I am a great fan of David Weber and have read about 14 of his books (mostly in the Honor Harrington series,and they are all LONG).  I've never had trouble before entering a new installment, yet this time, it took a little while for me to remember events and details from previous novels, and then proceed with the current plot. 

I thought this novel was unusually slow at times, but when the action begins, Weber is a master at involving the reader with character and plot. 

Haven't read anything by Eric Flint before, but will be looking for him on my library trip.

I'm excited that the next in the Safehold series is coming out in April!

Fiction.  Science Fiction/Space Opera.  2009.  602 pages.

One Shot

Child, Lee. One Shot.

Finally getting around to reviewing this one, because I've got to get it back to the library! 

A sniper kills 5 people, and when arrested, asks for Jack Reacher.  Reacher is already on his way as soon as he hears about the incident and the name of the sniper.

Were the victims random, and why does James Barr want Reacher?   Another action-packed thriller, but not my favorite Reacher novel.
Still, an entertaining way to spend the evening.

Fiction.  Mystery/Suspense/Thriller.  2005.  376 pages

Thursday Thoughts

Books are due at the library, and I haven't finished reading them all (or reviewing the ones I have read).  I have about decided to abandon 2 of them anyway since they just haven't captured my interest.

I'm still spending most of my time crafting, not reading.  Below is one of the recent crowns I've made; this one makes me think of the Once Upon a Time Challenge.  If I can make myself get to the library, I'll be looking for books for Carl's challenge.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Love This Reading Journal

Source Books sent me this great reading journal:  Read, Remember, and Recommend by Rachelle Rogers Knight.
It contains lists of literary awards, best books, notable lists; a place to keep your TBR titles; a journal section (with reason for reading, recommended by, words to define, passages to remember, comments & thoughts); a place for loaner lists; and lots of (really, LOTS) of resources.
I need to keep the journal by my reading chair so I can jot down all those thoughts as I read...
 BTW, :), many of your blogs are listed in the book blog resource section.

The book is a real treat for a reader.  Do check it out!  My thanks to Carrie for sending me this interactive reading journal!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Roadside Crosses

Deaver, Jeffrey.  Roadside Crosses.

When Kathyrn Dance made an appearance in  Cold Moon (featuring Lincoln Rhymes), I liked her character, but didn't catch the first novel featuring her.  This is the second Katherine Dance novel; I missed the first one completely and must go back and pick it up.

I still like Kathryn Dance (a specialist in kinesics and CBI agent), but she didn't achieve the potential I thought she had in Cold Moon.  However, since I missed her first stand-alone novel Sleeping Dolls, maybe I'm too judgmental. 

The novel puts a lot of time into techie stuff and blogging.  The influential quality of blogging is an interesting phenomenon to investigate, and so certainly, there is some thought-provoking material here, but Kathryn doesn't come off the page too often.  Cyberbullying is a current social problem, and the novel explores the possibilities, but the twisty plot hints at the conclusion, even as it continues to throw in red herrings.

The character of Jon Boling has possibilities.

Overall? Maybe 3/5.

Fiction.  Mystery/Crime.  2009.  397 pages.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hard Way

Child, Lee.  The Hard Way.

Another Jack Reacher action thriller.  I'm reading my way through our library's available copies of this suspenseful action series.  This my 4th and I've also finished another that I need to review.  There are 12 total Jack Reacher novels (so far), which makes me happy, but the library doesn't have them all so I may have to resort to inter-library loan.  I discovered Lee Child by happy accident a couple of months ago while browsing through the  stacks and was well and truly hooked on them.

Observant as always, Jack Reacher, sitting in a coffee shop in New York, casually watches a man approach and get into a car.  He is later singled out as the only person who may have seen the man who has kidnapped a mother and her young daughter and is recruited by the wealthy husband to aid in finding the kidnapper.   Hopefully, before it is too late.

Several things about the kidnapping bother Reacher, but he agrees to help, on his own terms.  As events become muddier and it appears that it is too late for the mother and child, Reacher becomes even more intensely involved in an attempt to bring the guilty parties to justice.  Not necessarily in legal terms.

Fast-moving and suspenseful, The Hard Way is a great read if you like this genre. :) I do.

Fiction.  Action/Thriller.  2006.  371 pages.

Distracted by Fabric

I've read 2 more Lee Child novels and one by Jeffrey Deaver that I need to review.  Have several more in progress, but I'm still spending more time in my studio than reading right now. 

Sometimes I go weeks and months without doing much sewing or creating, then a spurt of activity.  I've even curtailed my yoga lately, but I'm having so much fun making crowns and hair clips and Easter embroideries!  Now that The Triad has figured out how to open doors (I blame Stinker, the smallest of the bunch, for that), I have to be much more careful. 

I want to participate in Carl's annual Once Upon a Time Challenge, but haven't signed up yet.  I take that back, I just signed up when I went to get the lovely button.

Now, I have to choose some books, but I have a few in mind.  Who doesn't love fantasy, fairy tales, myth, and folklore?

Time to move on from mystery, suspense, thrillers, and crime novels for a while.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Mind Is Elsewhere...

I need to catch up on reading and reviews, but have been slowed down by a need to work on other projects over at Bayou Quilts.  I have to lock the cats out of my studio space because they have a tendency to play with things they shouldn't--yarn, lace, thread, felt, beads, etc.
When I head up the stairs, the Triad tries to get to the upstairs door before I do.  Then I have to carefully disentangle the three of them in order get in without one sneaking through.  Edgar gave up and probably went to wait in my reading chair.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When Gods Die by C.S. Harris

Harris, C.S. When Gods Die.

A Sebastian St. Cyr mystery, the 2nd in this Regency series.  Now, I've read the first three, but there are two more in this series that I have not gotten to yet.  I like the period and Harris does a good job of keeping me interested in both the mystery and the period details.

The Prince Regent is discovered with the body of a beautiful young woman, and Sebastian is pulled in to help find the murderer, for more personal reasons than to aid the Prince Regent.  Sebastian seeks the aid of his old friend and physician to determine the actual cause of death as the staging of the murder is misleading.

There is also the personal connection concerning the necklace the victim was wearing; it belonged to his mother.  Sebastian uncovers several intertwining tales of intrigue as he searches for the murderer.

While there are some flaws that bother me, I enjoy this historical mystery series.

Fiction.  Historical Mystery.  2006.  338 pages.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Duty to the Dead

Todd, Charles A Duty to the Dead.

A new series for the mother and son team that write as Charles Todd, features Bess Crawford, a WWI nurse.  After the sinking of the hospital ship on which she served, Bess returns to England for recuperation.

While in England, Bess feels required to carry out a promise to a wounded soldier with whom she had become very close.  Arthur Graham, shortly before his death, asked Bess to take a cryptic message back to his brother.  Bess decides to perform this duty in person, but she finds some unsettling feelings in the Graham home.  When some tragic circumstances delay her departure, Bess finds herself wondering about the truth about events past and present.

What I liked:  details about England and the effects of the first World War.  I like historical novels and have always enjoyed the Todd team's series about Inspector Ian Rutledge and looked forward to a different perception of the war from the Bess Crawford  character.  I think that part was a success.  Looking at the war and its devastating effects, physical and emotional, from a woman's pov appeals to me.

What I didn't like:  The writing felt less cohesive and much of the plot lacked plausibility. 

Some spoilers: The idea of a child who had been emotionally abused, segregated from his family, kept in virtual seclusion, labeled as odd and learning disabled,  told he was responsible for a horrendous murder and committed at 14 to a mental institution in the early 1900's for another 14 years, then emerging pretty much in tact...well, I couldn't quite swallow that.  Also had trouble with the mother's role; not that there don't exist truly wicked people, but the character seemed to lack any depth.

I didn't want to put the novel down; I did want to see how it ended, but was disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectations of the authors of the Ian Rutledge series.  However, I have hopes that the Bess Crawford character will evolve and the Todd team will become more comfortable with the character and the new series.

Also, need to add that I am again in the minority on this one.  Most reviews I saw were entirely positive.  

Fiction.  Historical Mystery.  2009.  329 pages.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mipham and Happiness Formula

Dorothy has had a couple of posts about "positivity," self-help, and happiness books.  It sent me searching for this video again (and yes, I know I've posted it before, but it is so cool).

 Here is a link to my review of the best book I've read on the subject of happiness.  The formula is a bit different from Mipham's, but I think that perhaps both approaches are necessary. 

And reminders are necessary.  Much of what is said about happiness and positive thinking is common sense, and we've heard many of the phrases, much of the advice over and over.  In my own case, however, I often need to be reminded.

I like the approach of some authors and am offended by the approach of other authors on the same subject.  Love some books and find them stimulating, inspirational, practical; other books, seem bland, repetitious, pretentious, and stale.

But I need and benefit from reminders.  All of the "brain" books I've read in the past year, continue to remind me of the ways in which the brain creates new maps.  Almost miraculous changes can be achieved by changing those patterns.  My favorite "brain" books so far are The Brain that Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge and The Body Has a Mind of Its Own by the Blakeslees.  These books are not really about happiness, but neuroplasticity can be emotional or physical.

My yoga books are also about the possibility of change, both physical and emotional, and they blend pretty seamlessly with books about happiness, positive thinking, and neuroplasticity.  In fact, long before modern science was discovering scientific proof, yoga was engaged with the effects of many of these possible changes.

The comments on Dorothy's posts reveal our sceptical attitudes toward those who offer easy solutions (while making a profit), but every once in a while, it is possible to find something that works for us.

What about you?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Books and Cats

Some ARC's that I've received from publishers:

I have a final February review to catch up on, and nothing really, so far for March.
Edgar and Lucy are curious...about just about everything.
But when they knock over a stack of books, nobody's around, and nobody knows how it happened.  Stinker has her innocent look down pat.  Who me?

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Season of Second Chances

Meier, Diane.  The Season of Second Chances.

An ARC (thanks, Leah) by debut author Diane Meier, The Season of Second Chances is about an English professor at Columbia who, given the unexpected opportunity to leave the security and staleness of one job and accept a position with Amherst, makes the leap. The new program is a the brain child of Bernadette Lowell and requires an innovative approach to teaching, so not only is a change in location involved, but a new curriculum to be formulated and developed.

From the first unlikely decision, comes a series uncharacteristic decisions by academic Joy Harkness.  She buys an old house  in dire need of repair and renovation, and slowly, almost unconsciously (almost unwillingly) begins renovating her own attitudes, perceptions, and opinions.  Steered by a number of interesting characters, a woman stuck in a rut largely of her own making begins opening up to a new world of possibilities. 

The possibilities involved in taking chances can have repercussions, however; Joy must learn to live with a few of these as well.

I enjoyed the book.  It didn't always hold together in what one would expect in the real world, but I was happy to relax and enjoy the world created by the author.  The Three Coyotes who pursue every new woman on campus provide a little humor; a mother whose former husband refuses to let go provides drama.

What I liked best had to do with the author's style, especially in the beginning as she sets up Joy's character and circumstances.  The voice is first person, and the reader realizes that  much of what Joy has to say is bitter, much is funny, and much is slightly unreliable.

It is a coming of age story, but the coming of age has waited until the heroine is nearly 50.

fiction.  contemporary fiction.  2010.  285 pages.

Grave Surpise

Harris, Charlaine.  Grave Surprise.

While I'm not a Sookie Stackhouse fan, I do enjoy Harris' Harper Connelly series.  Hit by lightening when she was 15, Harper has the ability to find dead people.  She and her step-brother, Tolliver Lang, travel the country helping families locate missing loved ones.

Invited by an anthropology professor in Memphis to demonstrate her talent, Harper identifies individuals in an old cemetery and gives the cause of death.  The records, only recently discovered and sealed, tally with Harper's identifications, angering the professor who had hoped to expose a scam artist.  The exception...a more recent body buried in an old grave.

The body is that of an eleven-year-old girl who had been taken from Nashville nearly two years previously.  Harper had been called in on the investigation when it went cold as a sort of last resort, but Harper had been unable to locate the body either.  When the body is discovered in Memphis, things begin to get sticky.

A very fast read, Grave Surprise was a nice installment in the Harper Connelly series, and I enjoyed it.  Now that I've read all 3 in the serie  (I'd already read the first and third), I'm looking forward to the next one.

Fiction.  Mystery/Supernatural.  2006.  295 pages.