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

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Winner...


The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop is over. This hop was graciously hosted and organized by Leeswamme's Blog. Thank you Judith for a great hop promoting literature!

Congratulations Nancy Zahar (nanze55 at hotmail dot com)! Nancy has been notified by email and will be receiving the following books from the Book Depository.



Thank you to all entrants. 

The winner for this giveaway was chosen using Random.org. To verify your entry, please click here.

Book 148: HALF-INCH Review


How far is too far seems to be the question raised in Half-Inch by McCarty Griffin. Pammy Hilts is an abused wife whose husband, Bobby, has moved out and filed for divorce. Pammy has put up with 12 years of physical, emotional, mental and verbal abuse. She has been cut off from all of her friends and has no skills. All that's left are her dreams and she is beginning to dream of revenge.


Pammy knows that Bobby isn't going to leave her alone even after a divorce. Although Bobby has moved out and apparently has a new love interest, she knows the abuse will continue. What's a girl to do except get rid of the problem permanently. Pammy has obvious problems with the notion of taking a life, no matter the circumstances, and most of this short tale deals with this conflict. At first glance Pammy may seem to be a poor, down-trodden and ignorant woman, but she proves otherwise. At times sad and other times funny (tongue-in-cheek), Half-Inch is a story about survival. This is a quick read that is perhaps perfect for a lunch break or a lazy afternoon.


DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author for review purposes. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."




Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book 147: THE SWEETNESS OF TEARS Review


It’s rare to read a book that truly touches me, especially when the subject matter is far removed from the reality that is my life, but The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji did just that, touched me. This isn't a sad story. It isn't filled with tragedy and sorrow nor is it filled with happiness and joy. It is, quite simply, filled with the ups and downs, the mistakes and corrections, as well as the joys that make up life.


The life and experiences of Jo March are at the core of this story. She realizes as a teenager that something is wrong because she and her brother have brown eyes but both of her parents have blue eyes. After confronting her mother she learns that her mother became pregnant as a teenager by another teenager, a Pakistani named Sadiq. 


Sadiq was a privileged and spoiled young man in Pakistan. He was separated from his mother as a young child, and had a brief reunion with his mother in the United States as a teenager. The story also introduces his mother's story, Deena. Deena is raised as a Shia Muslimah in Pakistani shortly after the Partition (or separation of Pakistan from India). She is an idealistic young woman that is blessed with a common sense family. After her father's death she is engaged and then marries the son of her father's best friend. Regrettably her husband is bipolar and off his medicines and it isn't until after the marriage when she learns of his "problem." Her husband commits suicide shortly after the birth of Sadiq and his family blames Deena. After Sadiq is taken by his father's family, Deena remarries and moves to the United States where she finds happiness with her new family.


The lives of the characters intersect, gently influence, and overlap throughout the story. Deena befriends the teenage Angela on her visit to Los Angeles. Angela befriends Sadiq and they comfort one another resulting in the birth of Jo and her twin brother, Chris. Jo's exposure to different cultures through her maternal grandmother and mission work sparks an interest in language. Jo's meeting with Sadiq leads to her studying Arabic and Urdu in college, which leads to her work as a translator shortly after 9/11. Jo looks up Deena, her paternal grandmother, after she quits translating as a part of the war effort and visits Pakistan as a true civilian. Chris enlisted in the Marine Corps after 9/11, is sent to Iraq only to come home a broken man and attempts to kill himself. 


As I read this tale of a fictional family, I was often moved to tears. The emotions felt by the characters seemed to come alive and jump off the page. Remember, I said this wasn't a tale of sadness or sorrow although there is sadness and sorrow in the tale. It isn't a tale of tragedy although there are tragedies throughout, but there is also happiness and joy. Religion is often in the background of this story, but it isn't a tale of Islam vs. Christianity, Shia vs. Sunni, or Us vs. Them, but more about humanity and our similarities as opposed to our differences. This, for me, was a story about self-discovery, acceptance and, ultimately, family. The following lines seem to sum up all that is felt and depicted in this wonderful tale: 


"A wise woman that I know once said that the tears we cry for others are tears of sweetness – to be appreciated as a sign of God's love, and sorry, for all of the injustice that we lowly creatures, human beings who have not yet learned to be human, all of us, inflict on one another. It is a good thing, when we cry these sweet tears, she said. It is a good thing."


So if you read this story, and you should, don't worry if you shed a few tears . . . tears can be a good thing.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, June 27, 2011

Book 146: BLOOD TIES Review


I know I'm repeating myself but I enjoy reading a book that provides suspense, some romance and just a bit of humor and Blood Ties by Sharon Sala provides all three. I'm not talking laugh out loud funny but there are moments that brought a smile to my face as I read about Savannah Slade's attempts to find out about her birth parents and deal with a motley crew of police officers, attorneys and ex-CIA agents.


Blood Ties is book two in "The Searchers" series by Ms. Sala and the action is concurrent with that of Blood Stains, book one in this series. The premise is that three sisters find out that they are not in fact blood-related upon their father's death. All three were informally adopted as toddlers when their birth mothers were in dire straits. Savannah's mother was dying of cancer and her birth father had just died in a car accident when she was taken in by her adoptive father. Now she is searching out the truth of her birth and her birth father's family is none too pleased with the prospect of sharing their wealth.


Mischief, attempted murder and mayhem ensue. Throughout it all Savannah proves that she is a force to be reckoned with, to the dismay of her birth father's family. Some of the action may be predictable but this made for a pleasurable read while waiting in doctors’ offices throughout the day (a plus to escorting my elderly parents to physicians’ appointments is I get to catch up on a lot of reading). If you haven't read Blood Stains, then I suggest you read that before reading Blood Ties just to keep the action in order. I hope that you'll find them both as enjoyable as I have.



Book 145: DEVIOUS Review


I pulled another book from my personal TBR pile and read Devious by Lisa Jackson. Let me tell you this was a really good, if not great, example of romantic suspense. The action takes place in New Orleans with some familiar detectives at the helm, Montoya and Bentz. As with previous stories involving these members of New Orleans finest, there is some personal interest.


Montoya dated the first murder victim, Camille Renard, back in high school. If that's not personal enough, his younger brother Cruz dated the lady that found that body. What makes this all the more interesting is that both ladies are now nuns. Camille's sister, Valerie, is shocked over the murder especially since she knew that Camille was planning on leaving the church due to a pregnancy. What is even more surprising, is that Sister Camille was evidently having a relationship with one of the priests? Is it possible that Father Frank is the murderer? Both the Catholic Church and New Orleans have been hit hard in recent years, but can the Church survive a murder spree of nuns and novitiates that all appear to have had relations with one of its priests? There's a lot more going on that meets the eye with this story. The heat gets turned up a notch when Cruz Montoya returns to New Orleans and tries to restart a relationship with Sister Lucia. The heat gets even hotter when Valerie's estranged husband, Slade Houston, shows up on the very night that Camille is murdered. Slade's presence forces Valerie to re-evaluate her belief in her sister's word, namely that Slade attempted to seduce her rather than vice versa. (Hard to believe that someone so focused on sex that she’s willing to attempt seducing her brother-in-law wanted to be a nun? Oh yeah, that probably explains her pregnancy and affair with the priest!) Thankfully there's a diary that reveals almost as much as it hides.


The twists and turns in this story are just as devious as the actions of the murderer. Just when you think you know who the culprit is or where the story is going there's another unexpected twist to shake things up and keep you guessing. It is for these reasons that I enjoyed reading Devious. If you're into romantic suspense or just suspense then this is probably a good book for you.




You still have time to enter the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop...Click here for the entry form and your chance to win a paperback copy of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.




Coming soon:
I'm reading and will be posting reviews of The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji and The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen as well as another book from my personal TBR pile - Blood Ties by Sharon Sala. Happy reading until then...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book 144: PHANTOM EVIL Review


Do you believe in ghosts? Maybe you believe that evil, pure evil can transcend human life. Both beliefs are at the core of Phantom Evil by Heather Graham. 


A new team of paranormal investigators, lead by a profiler from the FBI, is sent to New Orleans to investigate the suspicious death of the wife of a state senator. In addition to confronting ghosts and the evil that is inhabiting a local house, these investigators stumble upon corrupt politicians (say it isn't so), a cult masquerading as a church (oh no), and a racist hate group. I forgot to mention that a local voodoo priestess provides probable insight into the beliefs of the deceased. I also forgot to mention that two of the investigators fall head-over-heels in lust after only 2 days, but I digress. I know it sounds like I didn't like this book but it was a decent read even with all of the cliches. I personally think it would have been just as good without the lust fest (I couldn't really call it a romance) between two of the investigators, but that's just my opinion. All things considered Phantom Evil makes for a pretty good weekend or vacation read.






























The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop starts now... This giveaway is being hosted by Leeswames Blog and will end at midnight Eastern Time on June 29, 2011. I'm giving away a paperback copy of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Both books will be shipped by BookDepository.com and is open internationally. The only restrictions and requirements are these: shipping is strictly limited to those countries BookDepository.com ships to, one entry per person/email address AND following is required. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and posted on June 30, 2011.
To enter, please click here to visit my giveaways page and complete the entry form







Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book 143: SILVER GIRL Review


It's difficult to imagine that anyone in the US hasn't heard of Bernie Madoff or his Ponzi scheme that bilked thousands of people out of billions of dollars. For some people it is still difficult to presume that his wife, Ruth Madoff knew nothing about his business dealings. Ms. Elin Hilderbrand has tackled this very touchy subject in the saga of Meredith and Fred Delinn in Silver Girl


Meredith is a society wife and mother that lived a glamorous life style with multiple homes, cars, etc. Even she is shocked to find out that her husband of nearly 30 years has built his investment firm on false pretenses. Meredith is left with nothing but a few articles of jewelry received from her family, a few personal items (pictures and a record album) and some clothes. She is considered a suspect in her husband's scheme simply because he asked her to move some funds days prior to his arrest. Meredith is truly lost in New York City, no money, no friends and she can't even have contact with her children because they are suspects as well. After Fred's arrest, when she thinks she's at her lowest, Meredith calls upon her childhood best friend for a rescue, Connie Flute.


Connie is there for Meredith but they have issues to deal with from their past. One of the biggest is that Meredith wasn't there for Connie when her husband was dying and she never even came to the funeral. But even with that Connie knows that Meredith wouldn't have called if she didn't need her, and she takes her to Nantucket to get away from it all. If only life were that easy, there are simply too many people on Nantucket that Meredith's husband cheated and her refuge becomes anything but when Connie's house is vandalized and she is confronted by a former "friend" in a local hair salon. Dealing with her husband's business fraud is one thing, but then it comes out that he was having an affair for over six years with their interior decorator. 


Silver Girl seems to be a story not only about resilience and surviving but about friendship and family. Connie learns that she has problems to confront and she has to move on with her life. She learns to do this with the help of Meredith. Meredith learns that she is more than Mrs. Delinn and she works hard at assisting the investigation into the recovery of funds. Both Connie and Meredith get thrown curves but together they deal and move on. I think that Connie and Meredith's relationship epitomizes true friendship, a willingness to be there for one another no matter what. This is not a light-hearted read but it was one that I enjoyed even with all of the drama.


Disclaimer: I received copy of this book free for review purposes from the publishers through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Book 142: WICKED LIES Review

I'm sure most of you realize by now that I enjoy reading. If I don't read each and every day (even if it's only a few pages) it feels as if something is missing. The past 5-6 days have been rather rough due to a series of severe migraine headaches that interfered with my day-to-day living as well as my reading. The physical pain was excruciating but not being able to read was almost intolerable. Needless to say when this last headache became bearable with pain medication the first thing I did was read. 


I chose to read from my ever-growing TBR pile and one of the books read was Wicked Lies by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush. I'm so glad I began with this book. It is filled with suspense, romance and drama. Imagine being raised in all-female (namely sisters and an aunt) and rustic environment and leaving for the big city at age 18. Well, that was the life of Laura "Lorelei" Adderley. Now she is dealing with her cheating ex-husband and a deranged killer that's on the loose. A killer that's out to finish what he started years earlier . . . killing all of the women from Siren Song, her family's home. If that's not enough to deal with, Laura must also contend with an unplanned pregnancy and a burgeoning romance with a reporter, Harrison Frost.


Yes there's a lot going on in this story (and I didn't even mention everything) but it all makes a weird kind of sense in the end. Ms. Jackson and Bush have crafted a delightful romantic suspense tale in Wicked Lies. This isn't a short book but it is definitely worth reading, at least in my opinion.




Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book 139: THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES Review

There has been much hype and hoopla written The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen and it is all well deserved in my opinion. Some books that are best sellers in one language and are subsequently translated seem to lose a bit in the translation process. I can only say that if The Keeper of Lost Causes has lost anything in the translation process, good riddance. 


The story begins by introducing Carl Morck, a police investigator. Carl is recovering from a shooting that has seriously injured one of his partners and killed the other. Now that he is back at work, his bad attitude results in no one wanting to work with him. So his bosses promote him to the newly crafted Department Q, a national cold case file department. The intention is anything but a promotion. The hope is to exile and silence Morck until he either retires or quits. Morck is assisted in Department Q by a non-police employee and Syrian refugee, Hafez Al-Assad (even Morck finds it interesting that his assistant has the name of the deceased Syrian President). Initially Morck isn't very interested in doing much of anything other than biding his time in his basement banishment. Eventually he is forced into picking a case and launches an investigation into the disappearance/murder/suicide/accident of Merete Lynggard.


Ms. Lynggard was a Member of Parliament and she disappeared five years earlier while on a ferry. It is presumed that she was the victim of foul play, accidentally fell overboard, committed suicide or has simply taken off to parts unknown. The few people that know her realize she would never kill herself or take off and leave her disabled brother Uffe behind. Both she and Uffe survived a horrible car accident as young teenagers that took the lives of both of their parents and several occupants of another vehicle. Merete walked away without permanent injury but Uffe suffered brain damage. She has been taking care of Uffe ever since.


The investigation in Merete's case starts off with little care or consideration by Morck. However, Hafez is quite excited to be participating in a police investigation and prods and pushes to get Morck more involved, primarily by asking questions and providing information. One of the things that kept my attention was the constant switching between Morck and Merete's points of views. The suspense is allowed to gradually build until the very end. I found the beginning a little slow but after reading a few chapters the pace picks up. The characters are all interesting and have the right amount of quirkiness to make them believable. Although this is slightly longer in length, over 400 pages, it is definitely worth reading. The Keeper of Lost Causes is scheduled to be released on August 18, 2011. If you don't have this on your TBR list and you enjoy mystery-suspense novels add it. I'm looking forward to getting this in ebook format when it's released so that I can re-read it.



Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of this book free for review purposes from BookReporter.com. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Friday, June 17, 2011

Book 138: THE FIRST VICTIM Review

Emily Wright was only a teenager when she was kidnaped and sexually molested. Luckily she was able to escape before she was raped. She survived with the help of her friends and moved away as soon as she could. It’s been fifteen years since her abduction and Emily has only returned once, for her mother’s funeral. Now she has to return to the "scene of the crime" because her father has been seriously injured in an accident and someone needs to care for her younger sister Laurie.


To say that Emily has a lot of issues to deal with is a major understatement. Her father was never "understanding" in the best of situations and after her abduction things became even worse. Her mother tried to make the best of a bad situation but was limited in what she could do. Emily accepts that her sister is an innocent bystander in all of the family drama, so she returns for Laurie's sake. She also has the opportunity to rekindle her friendship and possible romance with Bailey O'Neil. Meanwhile Bailey is dealing with his own family drama saga. Bailey has had to take over as acting sheriff because his father, the former sheriff, has just been killed in a car accident. He also has to deal with a contentious grandmother, planning his father’s funeral and a murder investigation. Just when Emily thinks things may not be so bad she discovers a murdered body left in front of her family’s home. The Baby Doll killer, a known serial killer, is in her hometown. The investigation reveals that Emily may have been this killer's first victim many years ago and he is now targeting her again.


Ms. Lynn has filled The First Victim with mystery, intrigue and suspense with a touch of romance. Just when you think you know where the story is going, it takes a twist that you never saw coming. Some of these twists are action oriented and others are emotional, which I felt just added to the story. There was just enough romance, mystery, drama and suspense to keep me interested until the final page. 


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book 137: THE PEACH KEEPER Review

I've been doing a lot of reading and reviewing for various review sites and decided to take a few hours to read a book from my personal TBR stash. Tonight's choice was The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen...



Everyone has secrets but this secret is in the form of a body buried beneath a tree. The residents of Walls of Water, North Carolina are being forced to deal with their secrets. Willa Jackson is learning to accept who she is while acknowledging she never really knew or understood her grandmother or even her father. Her grandmother is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's and her father died a tragic death several years earlier. She always felt that she let them both down but is now learning that these feelings were caused by her own feelings of inadequacy. Just as Willa is learning to cope with who she is and what she wants out of life, Paxton Osgood is learning that she doesn't have to live up to other peoples or even her parents' expectations. Her twin brother Colin is learning that is okay to go home again.


The Peach Keeper appears to be a story of self discovery and acceptance as well as a discovery into the importance of friendship. Willa and Paxton discover just how far two friends are willing to go for one another when learning about their grandmothers' pasts. It is through this process that they learn to cherish one another and the value of true friendship. Sarah Addison Allen has imbued The Peach Keeper with a sense of whimsy and intrigue while providing a captivating reading experience. For those readers that loved Garden Spells, you'll be happy to note that Claire Waverley and her niece Bay make a cameo appearance. For me this was simply a book that I couldn't put down once I started reading. I ignored phone calls (isn’t that why we have voice mail?) just so I could finish reading The Peach Keeper uninterrupted. This is the perfect book for a lazy weekend or evening reading session, but you may want to turn the ringer off your phones so you can enjoy it without interruptions. 





Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book 136: ODD JOBS Review

Kevin Davenport seems to be your typical college student, willing to take odd jobs to get money for college. But Kevin is anything but typical. During a summer job at a meat processing plant he learns that his "boss" was behind his father and younger sister's deaths many years ago. So Kevin does what any self-respecting person seeking revenge does, he goes back to college, becomes a drug-dealer and bookie with the intention of bringing down the mafia boss responsible for his father and sister's deaths, Jimmy Balducci.


Odd Jobs is not a typical mystery, suspense thriller novel. That may be appealing to many readers. I enjoy different and quirky reads but this simply wasn't one of those reads for me. There were parts of the story that were enjoyable to read and others that seemed far-fetched, such as the elaborate plot to bring down Jimmy Balducci. The characters are interesting enough but all seem to be willing to overlook illegal actions simply because they are for the greater good, including beating up a teenage sibling to a college basketball player to get a "fixed" game "unfixed" so they don't lose money. I'm not quite sure why I didn't enjoy this book, perhaps my sense of right-and-wrong interfered in any possibility of enjoying this book. Although this didn't appeal to my reading tastes if you enjoy reading an atypical suspense thriller then Odd Jobs may be just the book for you.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



Monday, June 13, 2011

Book 135: THE SKIN MAP Review

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Release date: May 31, 2011 (paperback)


C. Christopher "Kit" Livingstone is an average 20-something male. He is employed and has a girlfriend, and he isn't happy with either one. Kit's life changes when he meets his great-grandfather and is taught about ley lines that provide for inter-dimensional time travel -- different times and alternate universes. Unfortunately he tries to impress his girlfriend, Wilhelmina "Mina" Klug with ley line travel. Mina gets taken to early 17th century Prague whereas Kit is taken to 17th century England. What follows is a wild adventure of discovery and intrigue. Mina finds her place by becoming a successful merchant as co-owner of a bakery and coffeehouse and even earns a royal warrant. Kit is still floundering while trying to understand the importance of ley lines, the "skin map" that depicts and decodes these ley lines, and his role in decoding the information. 


This story is told from multiple points of views, namely Kit, Mina, Lord Burleigh and Arthur Flinders-Petrie. The reader travels to Macau, ancient Egypt during the times of the pharaohs, early 20th century Egypt and the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb by Henry Carter and Lord Carnarvon, and alternate 17th century European civilizations. The mystery lies in the ultimate purpose of the ley lines and the search for the Well of Souls, something that only Mr. Flinders-Petrie apparently knew and had coded into symbols tattooed onto his body. There are hints given to myths and mysteries but nothing is ever spelled out.


Although Kit's role seems to be pivotal to this story I found all of the other characters much more interesting. Mina is determined to make the best of a bad situation and quickly adapts to living in the 16th century. Mr. Flinders-Petrie is the key and we're allowed a glimpse of his life and travels in Macau and ancient Egypt. I enjoyed reading about the various adventures each person has and even learning about the theories behind the ley lines and their importance in the hypothetical omniverse. The Skin Map is well-written but it moved a little too slow for my tastes, not to mention leaving too many questions to be answered in, presumably, the remaining books. I enjoyed this book but I doubt if I'll be reading any more in this series, it simply wasn't that captivating.


Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book 132: NO ALIBI Review

I enjoy reading mystery and suspense books. As with most people I may be attracted to a book by the synopsis of the book, previous history with reading a particular author or simply attraction to the cover. I don't usually grab a book because of any hype or hoopla and haven't read too many books that have been suggested to me (bad history with book suggestions that I'll discuss later . . . ). The good thing, and sometimes not-so-good thing, about blogging and reviewing books is that you'll receive a variety of books from authors you've never heard of or in genres you ordinarily don't read. Thankfully, I can say that No Alibi by Jenny Hilborne falls into the "good thing" category.


Ms. Hilborne has crafted a great mystery with interesting characters. Isabelle Kingsley is a woman on the edge because she's found that her husband is cheating on her. She's been married to Clark for six years and thought their marriage was happy and doing well. She knows that something is going on and presumes it is an extramarital affair. She also knows that her best friend, Darius Martin, is avoiding her. He must know something about Clark's behavior, but Darius has his own problems to worry about, namely blackmail. Who's blackmailing him? Georgia Legg has Darius over a barrel, financially speaking, and he hopes that Isabelle will never find out about it. To make matters worse, Georgia is the other woman in Clark's life. Isabelle receives anonymous confirmation that Clark is definitely having an affair in the form of a sonogram of Georgia and Clark's baby. Just when things look like they couldn't get any worse, Georgia is murdered with Isabelle's gun and Isabelle has no alibi for the time of the murder. What follows is a topsy-turvy investigation into the murder. Is Isabelle a suspect? Did Darius commit the crime to get out of the blackmail? Perhaps Clark wanted to permanently end the relationship with Georgia? These are questions that Inspectors Doucette and Beaumont ponder as they investigate Georgia's murder. It doesn't help that there may be a mad woman on the loose, another woman from Clark's life, his ex Fitch. But how does Fitch tie into the murder and why hasn't she targeted Isabelle as promised a few years back? I could answer that question but then you wouldn't need to read No Alibi for yourself, and you want to read this book. No Alibi is a quick and enjoyable read that is perfect for a lazy afternoon or weekend. I'm looking forward to reading more from Ms. Hilborne in the future.


Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through LibraryThing. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book 131: ALL DIFFERENT KINDS OF FREE Review

I often hesitate when reading a book about slavery, especially slavery within the United States. This can be a very emotional subject for many of African-American descent. I wish I could say that All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann wasn't an emotionally-charged read, but it was . . . in a very good way. Ms. McCann provides a poignant bordering on tragic fictionalization of the life of Margaret Morgan and family. 


Margaret was born to freed slaves of Mr. Ashmore and grew up free in Maryland. She was taught to read by Mrs. Ashmore. She marries Jerry Morgan, a freed slave, and they have three children -- Sammy, Johnny and Emma. When tensions rise in Maryland due to an attempted slave revolt, they move to Philadelphia where Blacks are treated with humanity and a sense of respect. Margaret is an accomplished seamstress and quite happy with her life in Pennsylvania. Jerry works as a teamster and earns enough to keep his family clothed and well fed. All is well with the Morgans until the day Edward Prigg comes to Philadelphia. Prigg asserts that he is a bounty-hunter looking for a runaway slave of Mrs. Ashmore, Margaret Morgan. His quest is thought to be thwarted when the Pennsylvania courts rule that since he doesn't have papers showing ownership the Morgans remain free. However, Mr. Prigg doesn't like to be told no and mounts a late-night capture of Margaret Morgan and her children. Before they know it, they are back in Maryland with the intent of being sold to offset Mrs. Ashmore’s debts. Thus begins a fight between the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland on state rights. Pennsylvania in 1835 is a state that presumes a Black man or woman is free and since the state doesn't recognize slavery, goes out of its way to protect the rights of these men and women. Maryland is a slave state and presumes that any Black man or woman seen out and about is a slave or a runaway and the only rights to be protected are those of the slaves' owners. While Margaret and her children languish in a jail cell, Maryland and Pennsylvania launch a battle that is taken all the way to the Supreme Court. Margaret even tries to sue Mrs. Ashmore to prove that she was born free, but she isn't allowed to question anyone in court, have an attorney protect her interests or present evidence on her behalf so she loses. What follows is heart-wrenching. Margaret and her children are prepared for sale and her sons are sold to two different slave owners. Margaret and Emma are sold together to a slave-owner from South Carolina that has started his own "breeding" program.


Although Margaret is intended to be a house slave, her attitude gets her beaten and raped on the first night at the plantation. She does eventually find her "place" acting as a nurse to the other slaves. She and Emma are permitted to grow foods that supplement the allotted foods to the slaves as well as herbs used to treat their sicknesses. Meanwhile, back in Maryland, Mrs. Ashmore is starting to have a change of heart. She has become "friends" with her one remaining slave, Jim. Jim finds a way to get messages to Margaret using the Underground Railroad. Later when he is freed, Jim leaves Maryland for South Carolina to purchase the freedom of Margaret and Emma, with the blessings of Mrs. Ashmore. The results are less than spectacular.


All Different Kinds of Free is not light-hearted but it is a well-written and thought-provoking read. The characters endure harshness and strife that we can only imagine, but they do endure. Margaret is completely believable as a Black woman that has never been a slave. She has a quickness of mind and the unguarded tongue of someone that has never been whipped or feared being whipped for speaking her mind. She does guard her behavior in public but it is her tongue that gets her into trouble time and time again. Margaret eventually learns how to appear subservient while getting her way. She teaches her daughter to read and throughout all of their woes and struggles as slaves they endure and remain hopeful. I think it was their enduring hope that made this a good read for me.



Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the publisher through netGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."







Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book 130: Sonic Ping Review

If you're into murder, mayhem, mystery and international intrigue then Sonic Ping by Orlando Stephenson may be the book for you. I started this book at the beginning of the month and only read a few pages before a migraine wiped me out for a few days. I began to reread Sonic Ping  from the beginning earlier today and completed it after only a few hours. This was a roller coaster ride from almost the beginning to the end.

Daryl is a millionaire inventor that is bent on saving the world from injustice. His partner in subverting crime is a seriously dangerous computer geek, Rodger. They both get sucked into a world of murder, computer fraud, law enforcement corruption, kidnaping, white slavery and murder when Daryl receives a late night call. Maddie is the widow of their friend Brad, another millionaire computer guy. Maddie calls Daryl, frantic that her niece, Jennifer, has been kidnaped and the kidnappers want money . . . money that Brad had supposedly stolen.

Some of the action in the beginning seems a bit farfetched. Daryl leaves his loving wife at home in bed and then gets the hots for Maddie. Even after his wife has been murdered, he still has a "thing" for Maddie but winds up in a relationship with another woman. He and Rodger are able to successfully free an enslaved woman and guess what? You guessed it.  Daryl winds up being attracted to her as well. I'm not saying Daryl's a dog, but if the collar fits!

Mr. Stephenson managed to keep my attention even though I was mildly disgusted by Daryl's libido issues. Rodger is an ex-Navy Seal with some serious computer skills. This and his ability to blush when confronted by his girlfriend, Jennifer, or other slightly flirtatious women was amusing given he has no qualms in breaking people's arms or killing them when required. Daryl and Rodger's investigation, launched by the kidnaping and retrieval of first Jennifer, then Maddie and finally undercover FBI agent Judy Green is convoluted and takes the reader to Morocco, Algeria and all over Massachusetts. Their interactions with characters such as Tiny (why are all huge bodyguards called Tiny?), computer hacker extra ordinaire Poison a.k.a. Fatima, and Prince Hakeem, truly made for some interesting reading. Sonic Ping includes some heavy subject matters such as police corruption, slavery and rape. Some of these are glossed over but discussed nonetheless. I don't feel that it would be possible for the author to do justice to all of these themes without having an extremely lengthy book. For the most part the characters and the action are quite believable. The good guys aren't wholly good but the bad guys are really bad. This was a fast read and is perhaps suitable for a day at the beach or pool.


 

Weekend Reads - Revisiting an Old Friend

I know, I should have spent the weekend reading the large number of titles in my TBR and Reviewed pile, but I decided to take the weekend off. I indulged myself by reading a few books on my new NookCOLOR (loving it BTW), as well as re-reading some old favorites. One old favorite that I revisited was For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. Now I don't normally read poetry just for the sake of reading poetry, but I was introduced to this book while I was in high school. I was so enthralled by the sentiments expressed that I used several of the poems to compete in poetry interpretation contests. I was later fortunate enough to see the Broadway production  (a birthday present from my beloved older brother - RIP Vondal Jr.). Of course I had to re-read the poems before going to see the show and fell in love all over again.


Some of these poems are raw and harsh but they are always real. For me they packed a powerful and visceral punch because I had never been exposed to poetry that left such a lasting impact. Don't get me wrong, I've read poetry that I've loved. Most of these poems were written by people long gone and in a language style that isn't used anymore, but nothing ever cause the reaction that these poems did. Perhaps it was because I was an extremely sheltered, introverted, academically-inclined, book loving young black woman from a conservative Southern Baptist family in the late 70s. (My brothers will probably say it was because I always had my face in a book and didn't get out into the real world.) Whatever the reason, I fell in love with these poems and still have an attachment after 30+ years. I don't have a favorite per se, but I'm rather fond of Toussaint. This was one of the poems I used in high school poetry competitions and it simply felt right every time I read it...maybe because it started off talking about the library and the discovery of the adult section. 


Poetry may not be for everyone and these poems may not ring true for all readers. For the more adventurous readers I highly recommend that you read this at least once. If you do then I hope you'll find the same pleasure that I have with each reading.

Monday, June 6, 2011

West Virginia Book Festival Update

The excitement builds...It has been announced that Dave Pelzer, author of A Child Called It, will be speaking at the West Virginia Book Festival on Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 PM in the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater. This year's author line-up is going to make for another interesting and memorable festival. 





Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book 126: ENTANGLED IN DARKNESS Review

Lindsey Webster has provided a dark and gritty portrayal of bipolar disorder in Entangled in Darkness. Annalyn is initially a happy teenager heading off to college and her first apartment. Her family is dysfunctional at best and she is glad to leave the drama behind but hesitant to leave her youngest sister Janey. Annalyn has moved in with her best friend Lexie and is fully prepared to being "an adult" or is she?


The first days of college can be overwhelming but Annalyn seems to be drowning in thoughts of not fitting in and meeting expectations. She rapidly spirals down into a depression that is as painful as it is puzzling. She stops going to classes, becomes paranoid about others’ behavior and speech, and finally stays in bed neglecting her physical hygiene. At first I wondered why neither Lexie nor Annalyn's mother sought mental health support for someone so obviously depressed and paranoid. The reason's why became slightly more apparent the more I read. This deep depression is followed by a suicide attempt, which again is not treated, only to be followed by a manic episode. It is the mania that results in an arrest and mental health intervention in the form of a hospitalization and medical treatment. Annalyn's mother insists that she is in the right place and refuses to allow her to leave while the father loudly proclaims that he'll have his lawyers get her out in no time. 


The sad truth is that mental illness impacts the entire family not just the individual. Annalyn's illness adversely affects her younger sister Janey, who might be showing early signs of the disease as well. The father has a history of mental illness and also attempted suicide as a young adult, but is in serious denial about being "labeled" and feels he has the problem under control. The mother simply feels that the father has "moods" and everyone should be accommodating and is truly unaware of his past mental health history. This denial of the reality of mental illness ultimately results in tragedy. Entangled in Darkness is not for the faint of heart but it does provide an interesting and realistic glimpse into the horror of untreated, and poorly treated, mental illness. (NOTE: There are a few minor editing issues in the ebook version that need to be addressed but these did not detract from the overall reading experience.)

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the author through LibraryThing. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book 125: DEATH BY HONEYMOON Review

Death by Honeymoon by Jaden Skye packs a punch. This novel is short in length but contains good writing, a great story line, and interesting characters. The premise is that Cindy's husband Clint dies under tragic yet mysterious circumstances during their honeymoon on Barbados. Cindy is bereft over Clint's death and eventually comes to believe that his accidental death was anything but accidental. Of course no one believes her, including her sister Ann. Until Ann drives Cindy's car to run errands and finds that the brakes don't work. If things aren't bad enough Cindy has to contend with in-laws that are blaming her for husband's death.


Cindy isn't willing to back down from her theories and launches her own investigation into Clint's death and returns to Barbados. Was Clint's murder related to his job? What could possibly have been so important to kill for? Will Cindy find the answers before she becomes the next victim? Cindy may have spent the first three weeks after Clint's death moping and grieving but she makes up for lost time. Death by Honeymoon makes a perfect weekend read for anyone interested in a quick-read suspense story.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

All good things must come to an end and the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop has ended. I want to thank everyone that stopped by and entered. I also want to thank everyone that posted a comment. Last, a special thanks to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Page Turners blogs for organizing this hop.


The winner of the $20 Amazon.com gift card is Beckie Burnham. Congratulations! Ms. Burnham has been notified via email of her win.


The winner of this giveaway was chosen by random.org. For additional information on this giveaway, please visit: http://www.random.org/draws/details/?draw=6327 Please note that this link will only verify your entry and winning status.