Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Riot Ad Network

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 90 - Early Reader Review TURN OF MIND

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante is a haunting and tragic tale of murder and one women's mental descension due to Alzheimers. Most of the story is written in the first person and we are allowed to witness, if not participate, in the often chaotic thoughts and actions of Jennifer White MD. Jennifer is in her early 60s, a retired orthopedic surgeon (specialty is hand surgery), widow, mother of two children, and a collector of religious art. Her son, Mark McLennan, is an attorney as was his father James. Her daughter, Fiona, is an economist and exhibits signs of manic episodes. Her son has been given medical power of attorney over her care and her daughter is given financial power of attorney. Other characters that are woven into the story include Magdelena, Jennifer's full-time, live-in caregiver, and Amanda O'Toole a former teacher, Fiona's godmother, reputedly Jennifer's best friend, and the murder victim.


Jennifer's story is divided into four sections and in each we see her decline to point that she suffers a "death of the mind." Section one is immediately after the murder and Jennifer has more moments of lucidity but also has moments of aggression and confusion interspersed with memories of the past. One moment she realizes that her husband James is deceased and the next she is waiting for him to arrive home from work. One moment she is thinking about why Amanda hasn't come over for coffee or to talk and the next she is reminded of her death and grieves. It is often just as difficult on the reader to see her grieve for Amanda repeatedly as she is reminded that her friend is gone. It seems cruel the way the police constantly remind of her this although we recognize that it must be done as a part of their investigation. 


Section/chapter one brings the reader into the struggle with the chaotic thoughts, foggy moments, and episodes of clarity along with Jennifer. At times it is difficult to discern what are memories and what is reality as we read along, much as Jennifer has difficulty detecting what is real and what is not. She is at any given moment an eighteen year old, then fifty and perhaps thirty-five, sometimes in the span of minutes. Throughout this chaos, we watch as police investigate the murder of Amanda and the post-mortem mutilation of her body -- the surgical removal of all of the fingers on one hand. For obvious reasons, the police suspect Jennifer and are initially reluctant to accept that she is suffering from dementia. They presume this is just a little too suspect and awfully convenient. During this period, Jennifer is still living at home with the assistance of Magdelena. However, her children become increasingly aware that this may no longer be a possibility as she has episodes of seemingly bizarre behavior, such as when she decides to taste the fruit in the grocery store and then removes her clothing. It isn't possible for one person to watch her constantly during the day so we suffer as the children make arrangements for Jennifer to be placed in an assisted-living facility. The house is sold and Jennifer is moved.


In section/chapter two we witness Jennifer take more steps away from reality. She is in an assisted-living facility but doesn't know why. She constantly thinks of ways to escape and has more difficulty recognizing faces. She tries to retain a sense of dignity in her insistence that her "care-givers" call her Dr. White as opposed to Jennifer. We also witness, through recollected memories and current episodes, her ongoing struggles with her children. She struggles with dealing with Marks financial insolvency issues, which seems to recall her husband's embezzlement issues. Jennifer also struggles with dealing with Fiona's behavior as she recalls Amanda's interference in her oblique references that inform James that Fiona is not his child at Jennifer's 50th birthday party. The more that is revealed about Amanda, the less we like her. She comes across as manipulative and vindictive if not downright envious of what Jennifer has with her children and the relationship she has with her husband James.


Each chapter/section becomes shorter and shorter as Jennifer's grasp on reality becomes smaller and smaller. More is revealed about Amanda's murder and the events surrounding the murder. We witness reconciliations and a sense of acceptance. We begin to grieve, not with Jennifer but with her children as they suffer through their mother's decline. Ms. LaPlante does a superb job of grabbing our attention and shaking us up as we participate in the ups and downs in Jennifer's life. This is an excellent fictional depiction of the trauma of Alzheimers/dementia from the sufferer's perspective as well as the family. I highly recommend adding this book to your to-be-read list upon its release in July. A definite must-read!


Thank you again to the publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press and netGalley for the opportunity to review this book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book 86 completed, on to Book 87

I wish I could say that I liked this book, but I can't, for a variety of different reasons. I will not be posting the early review on my blog, but if you want to see what I thought please check out the links below to GoodReads.com or LibraryThing.com.


My next book is also courtesy of netGalley (and Grove/Atlantic Inc.): Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante, published by Atlantic Monthly Press. I hope to have the review posted by late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Until then, happy reading...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book 86: PEOPLE OF THE BOOK

I'm going through my TBR list of books from netGalley and next up is PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Kathi Macias, published by Hew Hope Publishers. Look for this book to hit stores on 4/5/2011.

Day 86: Book 85 THE TWISTED THREAD

It's often fascinating reading about the rich, as many of us aspire to having more and we just presume that the rich are so much better off in their elite society. A little slice of life with insight into the elite presented in THE TWISTED THREAD begs to differ. The reader is brought into the world of privileged teens attending a mythical boarding school, Armitage Academy, in New England. We are then introduced to Claire Harkness and she remains a character throughout the story even though she has been murdered. The questions raised are why was she murdered and where is her baby? Hard to believe that someone can hide a pregnancy especially at a boarding school, but we only have to read the headlines to know that this happens more often than not in the teenage population. Claire isn't exactly ashamed of her pregnancy, she actually wants to use it to try and humiliate the school and perhaps her parents. 
Madeline Christopher is a recent college graduate and a new teacher and therefore considered inconsequential by many of the staff (and students) at Armitage. She, like Claire, is a product of divorced parents of wealth, but she survives and seems to have a strong sense or morality, ethics and responsibility that many of her students are lacking. It is Madeline that discerns immediately that Claire must have recently given birth after seeing the dead body and questions another student about the infant's whereabouts. This begins a massive search by local police and the FBI on and around the campus of these privileged youth. Madeline also embarks on an amateur investigation into what made Claire tick and what has happened. She finds out that there are often societies within societies as she uncovers the "Reign of Terror" group, and that appearances aren't always what they seem. Although initially started as a support group for the female students at Armitage, it has become much more over the years. Does this group play a role in Claire's death? As Madeline uncovers more about the "reign" and their terror tactics, including getting a scholarship student to leave, she finds herself the target of the remaining reign members. She isn't intimidated by their tactics but is initially shocked when she finds out that her sister was a member of this elitist group. What does shock her is the notion these girls have that they can do anything and get away with it simply as a result of their wealth.
The murder brings up many flaws in the history of Armitage. For example, Fred Naylor, art teacher, is the grandson of a previous headmaster. He must deal with the emotions raised when he finds out his grandfather wasn't the morally upstanding man he thought when he finds out about a scandal during his grandfather's tenure. That scandal mirrors the current in that it resulted in a student's death, but that death was simply brushed away and erased from the school's history . . . or was it? Matt Corelli is a detective assigned to the case and an Armitage graduate. He suffered during his time at Armitage and is hesitant in someways to return. He was falsely accused of cheating when it was his roommate that stole his work. The roommate was wealthy and Matt was a scholarship student, guess who the faculty believed? Will his prejudices against the school overshadow his investigation?
This is more than just a "whodunit" mystery based at an elite boarding school. Ms. Bacon's introduces us to characters than run the socioeconomic gamut but they all play pivotal roles in this story. What do  the school handyman, his mother and his mothers caregiver have in common with the school and the murder victim? At first glance it appears that the answer is nothing, but we find out more about lives transecting as we read more and more, not only about Madeline, Matt and Fred, but also about Claire. 
We ultimately learn what made Claire who she was before her death and that she was more than the cool, calm, collected teenager she presented. Madeline learns that she isn't the weaker sibling nor is she simply the lowly intern. Matt discovers that he is rather proud of his time at Armitage despite the problems encountered there because they have helped to make him the man he is today. Fred ultimately discovers that he doesn't have to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, he can forge his own path. These discoveries are at the heart of this story and yes we discover "whodunit" but if you want to know more you'll have to read the book on its release. 
This is a well-written, must read for the mystery lover. Look for it on June 14.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 83: PALE DEMON

Have you ever read a book and can't quite decide if you liked it or not? Well, that's where I am with Pale Demon by Kim Harrison. Don't get me wrong, I don't 'hate' this book but I simply didn't like it as much as the others. There's plenty of action and familiar characters, but this was the first time I had to force myself to read a book in this series. Jenks, the pixie, is still grieving the death of his wife but is taking the first steps to moving on with his life. Ivy, the vampire, has come to grips with the notion that there will be only friendship between her and Rachel. Rachel, the witch, is coming to grips with the idea that she is or may be a demon (or at least descended from demons). Trent, Rachel's frenemy, is openly embracing being an elf and sets off on an elf quest. Others join this strange quartet as they drive cross country to attend Rachel's hearing before the Coven. 
In previous books Rachel had been shunned as a black witch (a witch performing black or demon magic), and although she thinks that she can have the shunning removed she is also aware that she may never be openly accepted for what she is...witch and demon. She must battle a day-walking demon, definitely something new, while dealing with the stress of what awaits her at and after her trial. For a brief moment I thought that this might be the end of Rachel and her escapades, and I had to ask myself if I was ready to be through with Rachel and her troubled life. The answer is no. Although there are some series that play out after a few books (but the authors keep plugging away for a few more books just to keep the series going), Ms. Harrison and the Rachel Morgan series do not fall into that category. All things considered, this was a decent read and a nice twist to the series. I anxiously await reading about Rachel's fate in future books.




I'll be taking a brief break from my paranormal/fantasy reading so that I can read and review some soon-to-be-published books, courtesy of netGalley and Hyperion. The first in this list of advanced reading titles will be The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon, scheduled to be released on June 14, 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 82 - Interruptions

I truly thought that I could spend Tuesday reading, but family, friends, neighbors and responsibility constantly interrupted me. I know the laundry must be done (especially if I want to wear clean clothes), dishes must be cleaned (isn't this why we have paper plates?), the carpet must be vacuumed (okay I don't have anything against this one because yuck - dirty carpet), and guests must be entertained. It would have been rude to ignore the necessity of household chores, the ringing doorbell, phone calls, emails and texts simply because I wanted to read, wouldn't it? Perhaps I'll be able to spend at least a few hours reading today, that is if I don't have to deal with more of life's little interruptions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 81 - Book 83: PALE DEMON

I'm back to the paranormal-fantasy genre reading and I've just started Pale Demon by Kim Harrison. I know it's a radical change from Deadly Ties, but it was on the TBR short list. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 80 - Book 82: DEADLY TIES by Vicki Hinze

Trying to categorize Deadly Ties is somewhat difficult. It is at times a light romance story but it also features heavy elements of thriller/suspense and inspirational fiction. 


The beginning chapter of this story doesn't make much sense and as a result throws the reader off -- or at least this reader. During this first chapter Annie Harper is seen a weak woman and it is unclear if she knows what is going to happen to her husband and child or not. She is constantly asking that she be allowed to go back 24 hours to make things better and this is BEFORE her husband is killed and her daughter kidnapped. This begs the question that if she knew what was going to happen why didn't she warn her husband? Another question this raises is why didn't she go on the trip with her husband and daughter?


The premise to the story is that Lisa Harper, a newly licensed physician, witnessed her father's murder at age 7 while on a road trip and was then kidnapped with the intent to be sold (as a child bride or slave is never made quite clear). She somehows escapes her kidnappers and is reunited with her mother, Annie Harper. Annie, who is written as a woman of extremely weak faith in the first chapter, has a heart attack subsequent to her husband's death, possibly suffers a miscarriage (not made clear although there is reference to her losing a child: miscarriage or reference to Lisa...this reader doesn't know), almost loses the family home and subsequently marries the first man to propose, Dutch Hauk, in her efforts to save the family and the house. Regrettably this man is not only domineering but verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive to not only his wife but his stepdaughter. This abuse continues until Lisa turns 16 at which point her mother signs over custody to family friends and Lisa moves out. The abuse against Annie doesn't stop. Now she's depicted as a woman of presumably strong faith and refuses to divorce her husband because this is seen as displeasing to God, even though her husband refuses to allow her to see or speak to her daughter and keeps her a virtual prisoner within her home. 


Enter Mark Taylor, an special ops veteran and security expert hired by Lisa's surrogate father. Mark facilitates communication between Lisa and Annie by providing them both with cellphones. He also works out a system where he can check daily on Annie to ensure that she has not been injured or worse. Now if you think that Lisa suffered trauma as a child, imagine Mark being emotionally tortured as a child because everyone in his family blames him due to his mother's death after his birth. As a result, Mark has distanced himself from his birth family (I wonder why) and made his co-workers his family, specifically his ex special ops co-workers. 


Now we have the bad guys, a nefarious criminal organization referred to as NINA (Nihilists in Anarchy), which includes Dutch Hauk, the husband from hell. Dutch knows that something is going on between his wife and stepdaughter so he hires NINA to rough up his wife and then kidnap Lisa (apparently for the second time as he was behind the initial child kidnapping incident). He actually states that he wants his wife kept alive if possible but if isn't possible that's acceptable. Long-story short, Lisa is kidnapped again, fights against her kidnappers, and strengthens her faith through prayer and acceptance as a result of her trials and adversity.


There are times when the action stretches credulity, but this reader is aware that fiction does not always mimic reality. If we truly wanted reality then we would read nonfiction. Even with the weaknesses in the story, it somehow works as a story meant to inspire. This may not be acceptable reading material for everyone, but I honestly feel that it works well as an inspirational novel and could be read and hopefully appreciated by anyone of faith, be they Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 79 - Book 81: MERMAID: A TWIST ON A CLASSIC TALE

The subtitle "A Twist on the Classic Tale" provides the reader with just enough information that you'll now this is not the old tale. There are just enough similarities to Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid to make this recognizable, but Ms. Turgeon provides the reader with just enough "twists" (including more of the romance angle) to provide the reader with renewed interest in this classic story...well, at least for this reader. 
There are definite unique aspects to this story as we see more into the mindset of Lenia, the mermaid Princess. The reader is also introduced to her rival, Princess Margrethe, daughter of the Northern King. They are not rivals in the true sense of the word in that they do not hate one another, but they are both vying for the attention and love of Prince Christopher, son of the Southern King. Both princesses are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and even their concept of personal sacrifice is different. Nonetheless they are both willing to do so for love and the greater good. 
I rather liked the characterization of the Northern King being as cold, hostile and foreboding as his northern kingdom, whereas the Southern King is somewhat kinder, gentler and sunnier much like his southern kingdom. A great story that is well-written and captivating, perfect for a weekend or vacation read.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book 81

I know, I know...I have already gone on record as stating that the paranormal-fantasy genre isn't one of my regulars, but I was so intrigued by A Discovery of Witches, that I've decided to continue reading a few other titles in this genre from my TBR list. I'm currently reading Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon. This will probably be followed by Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman, Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze, and The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (scheduled for release on 03/22/2011). Of course I may get sidetracked and throw in a few other titles along the way, but these titles are at the top of my TBR list at the moment.






Day 78 - Book 80: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES Review

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness


This book doesn't seem to fit nicely into any one genre, whether it is romance, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, or even paranormal-fantasy. The fact that the majority of characters are witches, vampires or daemons is important enough to the main storyline (where did these three creatures come from and how?), but the lives of the main characters is the central theme. 


Meet Diana Bishop, Ph.D., historical scholar specializing in alchemical history and a witch, a reluctant witch that craves to be "normal." Her love interest is Matthew Claremont, Ph.D., M.D., neuroscientist, geneticist (actually a true renaissance man) and vampire. Throughout the first half of the story Diana and Matthew appear to fight their attraction but build upon their timid friendship in the second half by falling in love and fighting for the opportunity to be in love. This fight, along with the discovery that Diana is not your typical witch genetically speaking, are the two big themes throughout the story. Diana, Matthew and their respective families must fight against the creature hierarchy that states that witches cannot be with vampires or daemons and vice versa. Is this done as a means of protection for the species or out of fear?


The other major theme is the discovery of a book that may shed light on the origins of these creatures and provide information on their potential demise. Needless to say the witches feel that this should belong to them, while the daemons and vampires are just as territorial on ownership. All three creatures fear the book falling into the wrong hands and are willing to fight to retrieve it.


These are not your typical vampires and daemons. The daemons in this story are artistically creative creatures that lean towards being slightly off psychologically speaking. Daemons apparently are born to human parents and don't "come into" their powers until puberty or around puberty. Witches are born to witch parents (one or both may be witches) and come into their powers around age seven. Vampires are humans that are reborn as vampires and require blood to survive, but these vampires are capable of being out during the day or night, can eat some foods (a basic raw foods diet), like to drink (alcohol), and are long-lived. Vampires are apparently infertile after being reborn or so they are led to believe. 



Diana appears to be the strong, independent type throughout much of the book but she has her moments where she becomes weak and weepy. Granted they are due to a separation from her chosen mate or after being kidnapped, tortured and imprisoned, so she has just cause. Matthew is a typical alpha-male and has difficulty dealing with Diana's independent streak. The story wouldn't be complete without a cast of supporting characters. Sarah Bishop is Diana's aunt and surrogate mother-figure after Diana's parents are murdered. Her life-partner is Emily Mather, another witch and surrogate mother-figure to Diana. Ysabeau de Clermont is the vampire that "made" Matthew and is the matriarch to the de Clermont/Clairmont/Montclair family. Hamish Osborne is a daemon, financial whiz and perhaps Matthew's best friend. Marcus is a vampire and scientist and considered to be Matthew's son.


Suffice it to say that there is a lot going on in this book and most of the action seems to take place over a few months, if not weeks. Sadly, the author leaves you hanging at the end. I presume there will be another book that will resume where this book ends. Don't despair, the lack of resolution at the end does nothing to detract from the story. 



Addendum: 


YAY! A Discovery of Witches is part of a trilogy and the second book, Shadow of Night, is scheduled to be released in Summer 2012. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paranormal-Fantasy Genre

Is it just me or does there seem to be a plethora of books out lately dealing with witches, vampires, zombies, etc.? The paranormal-fantasy genre has definitely changed over the years. There are well-written books available and some that aren't so well-written. Although this is not a genre that I traditionally read, there are some interesting and new choices available. Keeping that in mind, I reviewed my TBR list and chose A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness as my next book (#80 for the year). Given the length of this book, it will probably take me at least 2-3 days of part-time reading to finish it. If you've read this one or heard good things, let me know.

Day 76

This is a special post for ereaders, specifically for those with Kindles and Nook (Sony and Kobo should take note), Kindle and Nook owners can now trade ebooks for free!


Want to learn more? Here's a great article on trading ebooks: http://www.techlicious.com/blog/trade-ebooks-for-free-on-ebook-fling/

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 75 continued

I've just finished re-reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and participating in an online discussion on GoodReads.com. I truly can't say enough good things about this book, but I'll try.


I don't think I can really say too much other than I loved this book! It is whimsical, magical and fantastical yet realistic. There are some dark subjects that are introduced, such as: child abandonment, parental neglect, sibling jealousy, deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, physical abuse and the more mundane small-town animosities. Yet Ms. Allen does a wonderful job of weaving these dark subjects into a great story. It doesn't leave you sad or depressed but hopeful. I highly recommend this work of incredible contemporary fiction to one and all.













I recently combined my hand-written and online TBR lists and realize that I now have over 250 books that I want to read. Not really a problem except there are new titles being released that are usually added to this list. I think I need to take a week, or at least a weekend, just so I can devote myself to reading full-time and finish a few of these books. Nice dream...

Day 75

I got somewhat of a late start on the actual reading of Dragonwell Dead by Laura Childs, but it was worth the wait...

Another delightful, light tea shop mystery by Ms. Childs. It's always interesting to see how Theodosia gets hooked into "investigating" happenings (usually murder) around Charleston SC. Of course Indigo Tea Shop, is always front and center as a hangout for friends and tourists. Drayton, her master tea blender, and Haley, the chef and baker, are usually her willing -- and sometimes unwilling -- accomplices. This does not detract from the action taking place. 
In this story we are introduced to Mark Congdon, a futures broker, and his wife Angie -- the owner of a local bed and breakfast. Of course we no sooner meet him then Mark is keeling over with an apparent heart attack. However, it isn't a heart attack...he's been poisoned. Theodosia is pulled in because the poison was delivered in her iced tea and due to her friendship with the Congdons. She barely starts her investigation when the B&B burns down due to arson. 
There's a lot happening in this mystery: murder, arson, possible insurance fraud, orchid envy, and a possible adulterous liaison. All this while Theodosia and Drayton are preparing for an Orchid Society fundraiser. What makes this series work so well is the fact that just when you think you know 'whodunit,' the author pulls a fast one and surprises you. These are not predictable mysteries and, for that reason alone, are a worthwhile read...Dragonwell Dead is no exception.


What's next? Well I'll be re-reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen for an online book group. If you haven't read any of her books, then you definitely must read this one. Since I'm re-reading this book I don't think I'll consider it as book 80. Not quite sure what will be book 80 for this year, but I'll be double-checking my TBR list to find something suitable. Until then...happy reading!




Monday, March 14, 2011

Too Many Books...

I'm trying to decide what to read next. This is extremely difficult because I've got about 160 books on my online TBR list and at least 25-40 on a different hand-written list. When I get the chance I'll usually add the ones from the written list to the online list just so I don't forget or duplicate titles. Not a great system, but it works...


As of now the front-runner for book 79 is Dragonwell Dead by Laura Childs. I enjoy reading the "Tea Shop Mystery" series and since I'm not supposed to drink any tea (even decaf) at the moment, this is probably as close as I can get. Just wish all of the books in this series were available in ebook format. If you have an ereader and want this series as an ebook drop a line to the publisher (Penguin Group USA) or author asking that these books be made available in ebook format (my personal preference is epub or PDF).

Day 73 - Book 78

If you like reading Julie Garwood's books then The Ideal Man will not disappoint you, you'll love it. The story starts off simple enough, an off-duty trauma surgeon witnesses the shooting of an FBI agent during a sting operation gone awry. Although Dr. Ellie Sullivan can't actually identify the couple (other than saying it was a man and a woman), she is still considered a potential witness and may be in danger. Enter FBI agent Max Daniels. Max and Ellie hit it off and begin this rather sweet, and weird (in a good way), romance. Max is concerned about the potential that the gun-running couple that got away, may have hired a hit man to kill Ellie before she can testify, as this has happened to previous witnesses. His fears are well-founded as there is a hit man after Ellie.
The fun really begins when Ellie returns to her hometown for her younger sister's wedding. Her sister, Ava (a self-absorbed, egocentric bridezilla), is engaged to marry Ellie's ex-fiance. Ava slept with the guy the day after Ellie had brought him home to announce their engagement. (I said she was self-absorbed.) Annie, Ava's twin sister, is also in crisis mode because she's pregnant and can't locate the father-to-be. Oh, did I forget to mention that Ellie also has a demented stalker based in her hometown? So make that two potential hit men after Ellie.
There are a lot of twists to the story that keep it lively and intense. I found myself reading it in one-sitting simply because I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. This is not your typical romantic suspense but it is definitely worth reading. The characters are all somewhat quirky but likeable, well except for the bad guys. Personally I can't wait for this to be released later this year just so I can purchase a copy to re-read.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 72

I've just finished reading The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig. This was just as good as her previous titles in the "Pink Carnation" series. Reading these books is like revisiting dear friends after a long separation. It was quite nice to get back to the relationship trials and tribulations (ah new love) of Eloise and Colin. During this story they take their first major trip together and travel to Paris. Of course, Eloise finds time to do more research. I'm beginning to think she'll never finish her doctoral dissertation. I won't even get into the family drama that occurs, suffice it to say the Selwick family is just as dysfunctional as others.
The main characters in this story are Laura Grey (aka Laure Griscogne), governess and a newby to the spy game and Monsieur Andre Jaouen, widower and father of two. The verbal sparring between these two was delightful. Of course, Ms. Grey/Griscogne saves the day through her work as a member of the Pink Carnation network. She is quite amusing and doesn't seem to be the governess type as she is not meek or humble enough for the life of servitude. 
The romance is not as overplayed in this book and is more intellectual in its presentation. This does not detract from the story line of international espionage during war time (France and England in the early 1800s) and, of course, romance. 
I thought the action and dialogue moved a bit slow at times but it was still a great book. I was just a little disappointed that there wasn't as much Eloise and Colin in this story. It felt like long-lost friends leaving after only a brief visit. Of course, this means that I'll look forward to visiting with them again in the next book of this series.


What's next? This is a difficult decision to make because my TBR list seems to grow daily. However, I was recently given the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood (scheduled for release later this year) so this seems to be the front-runner for now. I'll keep you posted... 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reading Choices

I've often wondered what it is exactly that makes a book a great book and great read. Sometimes it is undefinable. I may read a book that I feel is great and others may not appreciate it at all or vice versa. I'm not talking about what makes for great literature, although that is definitely something to consider, but more about what attracts readers to any particular book or author compared to another. For example, I recently reread To Kill a Mockingbird as part of my local library's summer reading program. I loved this book as a teenager and appreciated it even more as an adult. Yet I know that there are other readers that either didn't get it or simply didn't like it.
There are books that seem to pull the reader in and make for a great and fast read while other books may push the reader away for awhile or make him struggle through with the story or characters before finally dragging them into the story. Some readers simply won't finish books that they find uninteresting or to be a slow read whereas others will slog through until the bitter end. This isn't always the "fault" of the writer but may simply be due to differing tastes in reading choices.
Personally I feel that any book that gets a person to read is somewhat worthwhile. No one should be denigrated because of their reading choices. Some may choose to read books considered modern literary classics as well as classic literature and others may choose to read graphic novels, ChickLit, etc. We shouldn't really care because these people are reading. I can recall my step-son's third grade teacher stating that she didn't care what her students read (with some caveats such as no porn, etc.) as long as they were reading. This was a great attitude to have. She didn't make any of her students feel bad about their reading choices. Perhaps the reading and publishing world should be as considerate. Don't tear down our reading choices, applaud us because we read!

Day 71

I'm starting a little late, but today is day 71 of the calendar year. I'm currently reading The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig. This book is my 77th title of the year.

I've enjoyed reading the previous titles in the "Pink Carnation" series by this author and hope to enjoy this one as well. I'll provide updates on my progress and a review upon completion.

If you're interested, you can follow the books I've read to date on Goodreads.com.

I'm preparing a cup of Vanilla Berry Truffle Rooibos Herbal Tisane and getting ready to immerse myself in 19th century romantic suspense. Talk to you soon...