Friday, March 16, 2018

Bookish Nostalgia - March 2018

Welcome to Bookish Nostalgia for March 2018.  I've kept records of books I read for over 25 years and I enjoy looking back through my reading journals to see what I was reading 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.  Let's see what I remember about what I was reading in those years:

March 1998 - One, Two, What Did Daddy Do? by Susan Rogers Cooper - This is the first book in Susan Rogers Cooper's mystery series featuring E.J. Pugh and her family.  The author is from my part of the world, and I discovered her in 1998 and read the first 3 books.  E.J. is an aspiring romance writer who lives with her husband and kids in Central Texas.  She gets involved in mystery solving in her 'spare' time.  There are now 13 books in this series, which I've wanted to reread for a long time.  I should get started on that.

March 2003 - Killer Stuff by Sharon Fiffer -  First in a mystery series about Jane Wheel, a 'picker' at estate sales and auctions and garage sales and flea markets.  This was quite a few years before the TV show American Pickers became popular.  At the time, I was working with a charity that had a thrift shop and managing the administrative end of that shop.  It was fun to read, but I don't do thrift shops any more.  Ha!  There were 8 books in this series.

March 2008 - Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - This book was a selection of a book group I moderated when I worked at the library.  It was one of our early selections and introduced me to this great author.  A tale of the plague and how a small community deals with a disease that they don't understand.  I've read other books by Brooks and loved them, especially People of the Book.

March 2013 - Faithful Place by Tana French - The 3rd in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad books - a loosely connected series.  Looking at my book journal for this month, I can see that I reread the first 3 books, In the Woods, The Likeness, and this one in preparation for reading the 4th, Broken Harbor.  I love these books, but Faithful Place is still my favorite of all of them (6 books).


And so we end this month's Bookish Nostalgia.  Have you read any of these books or authors?  Hope you'll join me again next month to see what April books I remember from my journals.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Here We Lie - Paula Treick DeBoard

Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard

First Paragraph(s):

It was raining and I was going to be late.
     The press conference was scheduled for ten o'clock and by the time I found a parking space in the cavernous garage, I had twenty minutes.  I slipped once on the stairs, catching myself with a shocked hand on the sticky rail.  Seventeen minutes.
     I followed a cameraman toting a giant boom over his shoulder, navigating a path through the crowds of the capitol.  Thank goodness I was wearing tennis shoes.  I passed a group of schoolchildren on the steps, prim in their navy blazers and white button-down shirts.  Their teacher's question echoed off the concrete.  'Who can tell me what it means that we have a separation and balance of powers?'
     Only one hand shot into the air.
     Balance of power, I thought.  A good lesson for today.

My Thoughts:

Here We Lie is the second book I've read by Paula Treick DeBoard.  I read The Drowning Girls last year and liked it well enough.  This novel though was quite absorbing, and I had a hard time putting it down.  I hate over-using the term 'timely' for a storyline, but that is exactly what this book was - timely.  Two young women who were roommates at a small female college - Megan from the Midwest with not much money - Lauren from New England with a wealthy family, father a US senator, mother a 'fixer' of family problems.  Each girl doesn't exactly reveal the complete truth to the other about their previous lives, partially because they are ashamed, and partially because they want to appear cool.  The summer before their senior year comes around and something really tragic happens.  There are assumptions and lies and misunderstandings.  They go their separate ways for 15 years.  And then, Lauren's brother is accused of sexual assault and misconduct and the events of that long ago summer have to be revealed.  The story is told by both Lauren and Megan and rotates back and forth between the past and the present.  As I said, I was caught up in finding out who and what and why.  The ending is fairly abrupt and I might have liked a bit more there, but I was satisfied.  I'll be watching for this author's next book and as there are two books by her that I haven't read yet, I'll be looking for those as well.


Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey are complete opposites on paper. Megan is a girl from a modest Midwest background, and Lauren is the daughter of a senator from an esteemed New England family. When they become roommates at a private women’s college, they forge a strong, albeit unlikely, friendship, sharing clothes, advice and their most intimate secrets.

The summer before senior year, Megan joins Lauren and her family on their private island off the coast of Maine. It should be a summer of relaxation, a last hurrah before graduation and the pressures of postcollege life. Then late one night, something unspeakable happens, searing through the framework of their friendship and tearing them apart. Many years later, Megan publicly comes forward about what happened that fateful night, revealing a horrible truth and threatening to expose long-buried secrets.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - A Gathering of Secrets

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

My can't wait book for this week is from one of my favorite series.  It features Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police in Painters Mill, Ohio.  I've loved this series from the very beginning with Sworn To Silence.  Kate was raised in an Amish family, but left that life in her late teens.  She's now the chief cop in her hometown and her background helps and, at times, hinders her investigations.  The upcoming book is the 10th in the series.  I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  July 10th

When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead? Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - Books that I was surprised I liked...in a good way

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is 'Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)', which I am interpreting as 'Books that I was surprised I liked...in a good way'.  It's hard for me to think of books that I didn't like because I rarely finish books I'm not enjoying.  Life is too short and so is our reading life, right?  If you don't like it, D...N...F!!  Ha!

I'm dividing this into two sections - more recent surprises and books that surprised me long ago.

Recent Surprises

1.  Dog On It by Spencer Quinn - The first in the Chet and Bernie mystery series, it's told from the viewpoint of Chet - the dog.  Yes, we see all the action from Chet's point of view.  We read and discussed this one with our mystery group and it went over very well.  I'm not so much of a dog person, but I loved this book.  Chet would get distracted by smells and pretty much everything.

2.  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - This is non-fiction and I've said I'm not the biggest fan of NF.  However, again, we read this in our mystery group.  It was really, really interesting.  Not only about the Chicago World's Fair, but the man who was murdering young women close by the event. 

3.  Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast - One of the first graphic novels I tried.  It's a memoir of Roz Chast's experience with her aging parents, their decline, aging, and the end stages of their lives.  Chast was an only child and so she put her journey here.  It's sad and funny and emotional.  I've lived this book in many ways.

4.  Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel - This is the first book in The Themis Files and is classified as 'sci-fi', in my opinion.  Like Transformers and Optimus Prime meets Iron Man, with a bit of epistolary novel thrown in.  I recently talked about waiting for the 3rd book, Only Human.  Very interesting story.

5.  Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - I'm not sure who suggested I pick up this book, but I'm glad I did.  And reading about opera singers and South America and Japanese industrialists and hostage situations - amazingly intriguing.  The blurb said it is for literate music lovers.  Who knew?  I like music, but opera, not so much.  Still, a good book.

Surprises From Earlier Years

6.  The Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A Whitney - I read this book when I was about 8 or 9.  I ran out of library books at my grandmother's house and found this one.  It belonged to my older cousin.  Might have been my first 'real' mystery book.  I loved it and it was one of the books that set me on my path to 'read all the mystery/crime/Gothic/horror books'. 

7.  'Salem's Lot by Stephen King - My first Stephen King book.  Bought it off the paperback rack at a grocery store while I was waiting for my car to be repaired.  I was a junior in college and didn't have time for much fiction.  However, I think I read all night long.  Scared me witless.  First experience with vampires.  Loved it. 

8.  Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - I remember choosing this one at the library from the 'New Book' section.  I didn't know anything about Crichton at that time, though I had loved The Andromeda Strain movie.  After I realized that we were reading about dinosaurs, I told my husband - you have got to read this book.  A dinosaur theme park.  Quite the fun thing - or not.  I was fascinated and knew that many, many people would love this book.

9.  The Firm by John Grisham - When I picked this one up in 1991 or so, I told my husband the same thing that I did when I read Jurassic Park - this is going to be BIG.  And so it was.  Grisham had already written A Time To Kill, but it wasn't very well known.  The Firm was his first big hit.  And I had never read a legal thriller.  I read all of Grisham's books for a long time after that.

10.  A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr - As I said, I am not a big non-fiction reader, but I vividly remember reading this book in the mid-'90's.  The court case to try to win damages for families of people who had health problems because of chemicals in their water was terrible and gripping.  I had not ever read a book like this and couldn't put it down.  It was outside my normal reading, but I was glad I tried it.

So, do you have books that surprised you...in a good way?  Things I ought to read?  Of course you do!  Feel free to make suggestions.  I'll put them on my list that runs from here to the moon.  Probably literally.  Ha!

Monday, March 12, 2018

And the winning number of the Classics Club Spin is.....

I shared my Classic Club Spin #17 post last Monday with my 20 potential books.  And said, if I had my choice, I'd like to avoid perhaps #1, #2, #3, and #10.  Time constraints and other books preferred first.  Well, as luck would have it (and here you know why I never gamble - I have no luck!), the spin number is....wait for it....


Of course it is.  Ha!  I am excited about the book though.  My spin book is:

I am planning on doing a read/listen.  So tell me - have you read The Woman in White?  What did you think?  Inquiring minds want to know.  I'm supposed to have it finished by the end of April.  I think that's possible.  Wish me luck!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Confusion of Languages - Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

First Paragraph(s):

We are close, so close to Margaret's apartment, and I feel myself sinking deeper into the passenger seat, relieved that I have succeeded in my small mission of getting Margaret out of her home, if only for a few hours.  The day is a success.  Sure, I had to let her drive, something I usually avoid.  Margaret is always too nervous, too chatty, looking around at the pedestrians, forgetting to put on her signal, stomping on the brakes too late.  But today I actually managed to snap her out of her sadness.  I have done everything a good friend should.

My Thoughts:

I was well pleased with this choice of book to 'change it up' a bit.  Siobhan Fallon's debut novel was very, very thought provoking.  She's also written a short story collection that I read a few years ago when it was one of the Mayor's Book Club selections for the Austin Public Library - You Know When The Men Are Gone.  This author is the wife of a career military man, and she can write with knowledge and authority for what it's like to be the family of these individuals.  She moved to Jordan in 2011 and that is where this novel is set.  I think it's hard for us to understand what it might be like to be living in a culture so very different from what we are used to, a country with different 'rules' and norms and then also have to cope with a spouse that is deployed or sent to yet another country for extended periods of time.  The loneliness, the desire to fit in, the lack of friends and just your children or maybe just yourself to have as company for much of the time.

In this story of two women, Cassie and Margaret, the reader sees quite the different ends of the spectrum in abilities to adapt or adjust to a culture with more rigid rules for many things, especially gender issues.  Cassie and her husband, Dan, have lived in Amman, Jordan for two years and they are the 'sponsors' or 'mentors' of Margaret and her spouse, Crick.  Margaret has a baby.  Cassie wishes she had a child.  Cassie follows the 'rules' set out by the American Embassy for 'life in Jordan'.  She has constructed a little box of a life in order to manage her time there.  Margaret has a harder time doing this.  She sees this move as an opportunity to learn about new things, new people, and she reaches out with abandon to see and do everything, while rarely regarding the cautions and warnings about societal norms.  The title of the book is apt - there is indeed a 'confusion of languages'.

Told by both women, Cassie, mostly over the course of single day, and also through Margaret's journal, which details her life after her arrival in Jordan, the tension increases more and more.  The women are in a car accident and Margaret goes to the police station to settle things - then doesn't return.  Time passes and Cassie finds the journal and starts reading it.  Many things were not as they seemed.  And that's all I'll say, other than to promise that when Siobhan Fallon's next book is published, I'll be racing to read it.  There is beauty here and sorrow and wisdom.  Recommended.


Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hidden Depths - Ann Cleeves

Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves

First Paragraph(s):

Julie stumbled from the taxi and watched it drive away.  At the front gate she paused to compose herself.  Best not to go in looking pissed after all those lectures she'd given the kids.  The stars wheeled and dipped in the sky and she almost threw up.  But she didn't care.  It had been a good night, the first with the girls for ages.  Though it wasn't the girls that had made it so special, she thought, and realized there was a great soppy beam on her face.  Just as well it was dark and there was no one to see.

My Thoughts:

Hidden Depths is the third book in the Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope crime series.  I'm really enjoying listening to these books - this one narrated by Ann Dover.  In this book, a young man is killed and left in the tub with flowers, his sister asleep in another part of the house.  Their mother comes home from a night out with friends and finds him.  A few days after this, another young person is strangled and left near the sea, also with flowers surrounding her.  Vera, Joe and others on their team interview numerous people, including a group of men who have been friends for a long time.  They are birders - something Vera herself knows a bit about as her father was very interested in birds.  There are lies and obsession and infidelity.  There's danger to another young person.  Vera makes her canny way through all the clues and comes up with the truth in the end.  As I've noted before, these are not thrillers, but they are interesting police procedurals that I am liking very much.  I'm moving on to the audio of the next book, which I read in print last year.  It's Silent Voices.


On a hot summer on the Northumberland coast, Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son murdered. Luke has been strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.

This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope and her team intrigued. But now, Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death. As local residents are forced to share their private lives, sinister secrets are slowly unearthed.

And all the while the killer remains in their midst, waiting for an opportunity to prepare another beautiful, watery grave…

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - Only Human

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I've selected this week is the 3rd in a sci-fi-ish trilogy.  And, yes, I've read the first two books and liked them very much.  The first one, Sleeping Giants, is about a girl who fall down a hole in the ground and finds herself in the palm of a giant metal robot.  The second book is Waking Gods and that one carries our story and characters forward.  The girl, Rose, is grown up and leads a team of scientists in discovering more about the robots.  Told through interviews, diaries, and memos (I love books formatted in interesting ways), the reader gets caught up in the tale (or at least this reader did).  This week:

Publication Date:  May 1st

Brilliant scientist Rose Franklin has devoted her adult life to solving the mystery she accidentally stumbled upon as a child: a huge metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events with geopolitical ramifications. Rose and the Earth Defense Corps raced to master the enigmatic technology, as giant robots suddenly descended on Earth’s most populous cities, killing one hundred million people in the process. Though Rose and her team were able to fend off the attack, their victory was short-lived. The mysterious invaders retreated, disappearing from the shattered planet . . . but they took the scientist and her crew with them.

Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find a devastating new war—this time between humans. America and Russia are locked in combat, fighting to fill the power vacuum left behind after the invasion. Families are torn apart, friends become bitter enemies, and countries collapse in the wake of the battling superpowers. It appears the aliens left behind their titanic death machines so humankind will obliterate itself. Rose is determined to find a solution, whatever it takes. But will she become a pawn in a doomsday game no one can win?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - Favorite Book Quotes...and I'm using a repeat...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is 'Favorite Book Quotes'.  As I am on a short trip right now with my husband, I'm going to do a 'repeat' from this event a couple of years ago.  The quotes are still favorites.  Plus Dr. Seuss' birthday was last week, so we should celebrate.  

You know, sometimes so-called 'children's' books have some very, very wise sayings.  Five are from Harry Potter books and five are found in Dr. Seuss books - plus there is a bonus entry. Here's what I found, first from Harry Potter:

There are all kinds of courage.  It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
~~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone~~

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.
~~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone~~

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
~~Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets~~

If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.
~~Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire~~

Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort.  Remember Cedric Diggory.  
~~Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire~~

Here's what I found in the wisdom of Dr. Seuss:

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
~~How the Grinch Stone Christmas~~

A person's a person no matter how small.
~~Horton Hears a Who!~~

We've GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad!  For every voice counts!
~~Horton Hears a Who!~~

I know up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here on the bottom,
We too should have rights.
~~Yertle the Turtle~~

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.
~~Oh, The Places You'll Go!~~

And just for a bonus entry, this quote is from one of my daughter's favorite books when she was a wee one.  It's by Judith Viorst and says:

It's been a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY.  My mom says some days are like that.  Even in Australia.
~~Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day~~

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Classics Club - Spin #17 - kay's list of 20

As you guys know, I'm pretty much a novice with The Classics Club.  I joined this year and also tweaked my list of 50 to fit my preferences of mystery/crime/Gothic/horror.  I've read two books so far and was pleased to see another Classics Club Spin event.  This is #17 and what it involves is members making a list of 20 books from their original list, sharing it with others, and then waiting for the 'spin' number.  That will be revealed on Friday, March 9th.  And I'll be back on Saturday with a short post telling which of the following 20 books I'll be reading by April 30th. 

My method for selecting these books was quite intricate - I went down the original list and took every other book - skipping a book I had already completed.  I told you - quite intricate and complicated.  Ha!  Here's my 20 books - have you read any of them?  If I had to pick one or two to avoid right now, probably 1-3 and 10.  Time constraints and I want to read the Jackson book for our mystery group Gothic October.  Otherwise, it's all good!

kay's 20 for Classics Club Spin #17

1. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen (1817)

2. Collected Stories and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe (before 1849)

3. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins (1859)

4. Turn of the Screw – Henry James (1898)

5. The Circular Staircase – Mary Roberts Rinehart (1908)

6. The Secret of the Old Clock – Carolyn Keene (1930)

7. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie (1937)

8. The Red Carnelian – Phyllis A. Whitney (1943)

9. Death in Kashmir – M.M. Kaye (1953)

10. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson (1959)

11. Mystery of the Haunted Pool – Phyllis A Whitney (1960)

12. This Rough Magic – Mary Stewart (1965)

13. Ammie Come Home – Barbara Michaels (1968)

14. The Blessing Way – Tony Hillerman (1970)

15. Last Bus to Woodstock – Collin Dexter (1975)

16. Where Are the Children? – Mary Higgins Clark (1975)

17. A Judgment in Stone – Ruth Rendell (1977)

18. The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin (1978)

19. The Cater Street Hangman – Anne Perry (1979)

20. A is for Alibi – Sue Grafton (1982)