Friday, January 30, 2015

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

No doubt everyone has seen something about Paula Hawkins' new book, The Girl On The Train.  It's been compared to several other books, most notably Gone Girl.  It is indeed a psychological study or at least it seems so to me.  My experience with this book has been odd.  I've shared that Gone Girl was not a favorite of mine.  Perhaps the ending most of all was my undoing there.  The Girl On The Train was a book that I started and stopped, thinking I wasn't going to go forward.  Then I picked it up a couple of days later and read again...and stopped.  Finally, I decided I just had to finish it to see what would happen.  I could have turned to the end and read the last few pages.  I've done that before.  But, not this time.  Have you ever done the whole pick it up and put it down and then finish it anyway dance?

My issues were with Rachel, one of the main characters.  I had such a hard time reading about her self destructive manner of living.  In the end, I was glad I persevered.  I did like this one, mostly.  I did not like all the characters, but I could tolerate what I needed to.  In my opinion, Paula Hawkins' writing was responsible for my returning over and over to the story.  Is it a gifted writer that causes you to go back time and again to a book that you don't think you like?

I think it best if the reader doesn't know much about this book beforehand.  Here's only a little bit.    It's about a woman on a train, Rachel, who looks out the window as she rides and considers and fantasizes about the people she sees.  She has a favorite area to watch and a favorite couple.  She imagines their life and gives them names, Jess and Jason.  She thinks that they must be so happy.  And then the woman goes missing and everything changes.  Rachel can't remember exactly what she's seen because she spends most of her time inebriated.  Nevertheless, she inserts herself into the investigation of the missing woman and finds herself in the middle of something she really didn't expect.

And that's all I'll say.  I'll leave you with a notable quote by one of the many characters:

I'm a good liar.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

After seeing that several people had listened to or read As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride and had an enjoyable experience, I decided to try it.  It's written by Cary Elwes, Westley himself or The Man in Black, with assistance by Joe Layden.  The audio book is read by Cary Elwes and several other cast and crew members stop by and share memories of making this wonderful movie.

First, may I say that The Princess Bride is one of my very favorite movies of all time.  I can't remember where I was when I first saw it, but I know that I loved it.  My husband and I both have used lines from this movie for many years and our daughter could quote from it before she even knew what she was quoting.  Listening to this book read with Cary Elwes' familiar "Westley" voice was marvelous.  I had such a good time.  Elwes shares many behind the scenes stories involving virtually all of the cast.  He was only 23 when he got the part of Westley and had no idea that almost 30 years later, it would be his best known character.

From reading this book, it seems that the cast and crew had a great time and many were already fans of William Goldman's book, The Princess Bride, which he wrote for his daughters.  Cary shares some lovely memories of Andre the Giant, of learning to fence and sword fight, being awed by Robin Wright's beauty (she was only 20 or so), laughing hysterically filming the scenes with Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, and of developing such a respect for all the other cast and crew, notably Rob Reiner, the director.

If you are a fan of The Princess Bride, pick up this book and read it.  Better yet, listen to it.  It's only 7 or 8 hours long.  You'll get to hear many of your favorite lines shared, find out how the crew managed to get Andre on a horse (he was 7ft 4in), and just really have a fun experience.  It definitely made me want to plan to watch the movie again very soon, and I think I bored my husband silly telling him, "Listen to this, listen to this...".

I leave you with a few of my favorite lines:

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.

He's only mostly dead.

They're kissing again.  Do we have to read the kissing parts?

Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!

As you wish.......

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - The Chessmen

This is a weekly event that highlights a book that we can't wait to be published.  It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Here's my pick for this week:

by Peter May
Publication Date in US - February 3

Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times raved: "Peter May is a writer I'd follow to the ends of the earth." Among the many honors received, The Blackhouse, the first novel in May's acclaimed Lewis trilogy, won the Barry and Crime Thriller Hound awards.

Now in The Chessmen, Peter May gives us a dramatic conclusion to his award-winning Lewis trilogy. Living again on the Isle of Lewis, the ex-Detective Inspector Fin McLeod is working as a security officer for a local landowner. While investigating illegal activity on the estate Fin encounters the elusive poacher and former childhood friend Whistler Macaskill.

But while Fin catches up with Whistler, the two witness a freak natural phenomenon--a 'Bog Burst'--which spontaneously drains a loch of its water, revealing a mud-encased light aircraft with a sickeningly familiar moniker on its side.

Both men immediately know hat they will find inside: the body of Roddy Mackenzie, a friend whose flight disappeared more than seventeen years before. But when Whistler's face appears to register something other than shock, an icy chill of apprehension overtakes Fin. What secret has Whistler been hiding from him, and everyone else on the island? Fin is unprepared for how the truth about the past will alter the course of the future.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

The Ice Princess is the first book in Swedish author Camilla Lackberg's series featuring writer Erica Falck and Police Detective Patrik Hedstrom.  It's a book that's been on my shelf for a long time, plus I had the audio version of it as well.  I started out listening to it and that worked fairly well.  However, I did not like the narrator's female voices too well - just something about them sounded icky.  I was also reading Under A Silent Moon at the same time.  Both books had a young blonde woman who was killed and I kept getting the details mixed up.  The victim in this book, Erica's childhood friend, Alex Wijkner, was found in an icy bathtub, an apparent suicide.  Note to self - don't read and also listen to two different police procedurals at the same time.  At least not two with similar looking victims.

OK, back to The Ice Princess.  I liked this book a lot.  The setting is Fjallabaka, a coastal Swedish fishing village.  Erica Falck is a writer of biographies about successful Swedish women.  She returns to her childhood home after the funeral of her parents, who have been killed in a car accident.  She's spending her time trying to work on her current book, which is overdue, and also sorting out her parents' possessions.  Not sure where her life is going and at odds with her younger sister, Anna, whose husband wants them to sell their parents' home, Erica gets involved in the investigation that another old friend, Patrik Hedstrom, is conducting into the death of Alex.

The seeds of some very old secrets are in the past and Erica tries to remember what she had heard whispered about as a young girl.  Mostly, she just recalls that her best friend, Alex, moved away suddenly and was never heard from again - at least by Erica.  The police in this area are a small group, headed by a man who was practically exiled from the larger force in an area city due to incompetence.  They don't have much experience with murder, but Patrik Hedstrom is persistent.  He knows that his boss is not worth much and will likely take credit for all the work.  Patrik is a good cop, plus he's so happy to see Erica again after such a long time.  Together these two find that there's been big problems in Fjallabaka for a long time.  Some sins eventually come back to haunt - what old crimes have been hidden and what would someone do to keep the events of the past quiet?

What is it about Scandinavian mysteries set in the wintertime?  I always end up feeling like I am freezing just from descriptions.  Brrr!  I should save these for August in Texas, always a mega-hot time.  I liked the setting, liked the characters, and look forward to finding more about Erica and Patrik.  Erica's sister's home situation is bad and I suspect that her awful brother-in-law will show up again to make life unpleasant.  There are people that Patrik works with that I'd like to know more about.  His boss is a terrible policeman, but he adds some humor to the narrative.  A little incompetence goes a long way, so hopefully, not a lot of time will be spent on him.

There are several more books in the series.  The next one is The Preacher.  I'll be on the lookout for that one soon.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Louise Penny - Alzheimer's Awareness Month in Quebec - Finishing The Long Way Home

I put down my copy of Louise Penny's 10th book in her mystery series and just sighed with pleasure.  This book is The Long Way Home and, once again, I find myself without words at the conclusion of a Penny book.  I'm not going to talk about my experience now because this book is the one my mystery book group will discuss on February 4th.  Some of our group members check in here and I want to save my feelings for that discussion.  However, here is a very short phrase that was repeated in this book more than once:

Surprised by joy...

And that takes me to the next thing I want to share here.  Louise Penny is a very special author to that mystery group.  We read her first book, Still Life, as one of our very early selections.  And Louise herself spoke with our group by phone - she in her home in Canada and us gathered around a telephone set on speaker.  This was in 2008 and before other methods of chatting with an author were available.  It was lovely still.  The next year I got to see Louise at an event in Arizona and I got to go to dinner with her and several other ladies before that event.  She was so kind to me.  I had had surgery the summer before and she asked after my health and how I was doing.  So surprised that she had even remembered.  Anyway, this year, for the first time, we are revisiting one of her books for discussion in the group.  Certain members of our group may be her biggest fans (that includes me).  It will be a great meeting, I'm sure.

Louise is very active on her Facebook page and updates it almost daily.  She shared a while back that her husband, Michael, had been diagnosed with dementia and so that particular road will be one that they will travel down.  She has also mentioned that her main protagonist, Armand Gamache, former Chief of Homicide for the Surete du Quebec, shares many of the same qualities as her dear husband.  This month is Alzheimer's Awareness Month in Quebec and Louise has been asked to be one of the spokespeople.  She has recently finished a draft of her next book and now is doing several events in order to highlight this disease and encourage people to ask for help.

I'm so sorry that dementia has come to reside with Louise and Michael, but I go back to the phrase above - surprised by joy.  Alzheimer's is a road I have travelled down myself with my parents.  We came to the end of that time together and it was hard and awful and stressful beyond all measure.  And there were also times that I was indeed joyful and laughed with them and loved them so much.  If you or someone you know are dealing with this, please know that you are not alone.  Reach out.  Ask for help.  Talk to someone.  Talk to me.  It won't all be gray clouds and sorrow.  You'll be "surprised by joy".

Alzheimer's Association

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Under A Silent Moon is the first book in a series written by Elizabeth Haynes.  It features Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith and her Major Crimes team.  I read Elizabeth Haynes' first published book, Into The Darkest Corner, earlier this year and loved it.  Apparently, the author started Under A Silent Moon some years ago and then went on to write three other published books.

I enjoyed this book very much, although it did not hit me quite the same as Into The Darkest Corner.  I did like the main character, Lou Smith, who is a newly promoted DCI.  Lou is finding her way in her new position and the murder investigation she is placed in charge of, the killing of Polly Leuchers, is her first as a DCI.  And then a car is discovered at the bottom of a quarry.  It contains the body of a woman who was a neighbor of Polly's.  It seems like a suicide, but maybe not.

As DCI Smith assembles her team to investigate both of these deaths, she is disconcerted to find that DI Andy Hamilton has been assigned to the case.  Andy was a one-night fling that Lou would prefer to forget.  Other specialists make up a part of the investigation force, and Elizabeth Haynes does a good job of explaining the behind-the-scenes aspects of a murder unit.  This author is an investigative analyst, working with the police, and she brings an authenticity to her story.  She also includes an appendix at the end, explaining many of the duties of the often forgotten analysts.  Another interesting aspect is the inclusion of police documents, witness statements, phone messages, and charts, interspersed with the narrative.

The mystery itself was filled with twists and turns, although I did suspect the final solution before the ending.  And there were a couple of characters that I'd be glad to meet again.  I'd also like to know a bit more about Lou's background and what brought her to her current job.  

The next book in the series, Behind Closed Doors, will be published at the end of March.  The storyline of that book sounds intriguing, and I'll be glad to revisit a crime scene with DCI Louisa Smith and her team.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Crazy Love You

I used to participate in this weekly event when I blogged before.  It highlights an upcoming book release that we are anticipating.  It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Here's my pick for this week:

by Lisa Unger
Publication Date: February 10

From Amazon:

Love hurts. Sometimes it even kills.

Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, playing in the woods of their small Upstate New York town, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies who called him "loser" and "fatboy"...and from his family's deadly secrets.

Now that they've both escaped to New York City, Ian no longer inhabits the tortured shell of his childhood. He is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss...Priss is still trouble. The booze, the drugs, the sex--Ian is growing tired of late nights together trying to keep the past at bay. Especially now that he's met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn't like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blue Monday by Nicci French

I just finished listening to Blue Monday by Nicci French.  It's the first book in the Frieda Klein series written by husband and wife team, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.  I liked it very much.  It's a series that I have been meaning to try for quite some time.

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist, based in London.  She has a patient that has told her of a dream he has been having about a little red-haired boy, a child that he wants as his own.  Frieda is aware that a little red-haired boy, Matthew, has been reported missing and the coincidence leads her to contact the police.  She's drawn into the investigation of the missing boy.  Twenty-two years ago, another child went missing, a little girl.  That child was never found.  Is it all happening again?

I liked the character of Frieda.  She's a reclusive woman who mainly sees patients, listens to their woes, and then walks the streets at night thinking and battling insomnia.  There is obviously much we don't know about her and not a huge amount is revealed in this first book.  I'm looking forward to continuing to explore her character and finding out why she is the way she is.

The mystery itself was interesting, although I did figure out most of the twists before I got to them.  The police DCI, Malcolm Karlsson, that Frieda worked with was also an interesting character that I hope we will see again.  Theirs was not a relationship without turmoil.  He was frustrated and she had a tendency to go off on her own tangents without telling him.

There are two more books in the series Tuesday's Gone and Waiting For Wednesday.  I think the fourth book will be out this year.  Glad to have another dark, twisty series
to explore.    

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Mortal Instruments Series and My Nieces

I think I've mentioned before that I am a bit of an oddity in my family.  My pursuit of the written word is pretty much my only hobby.  When people ask me what I do - well, I read.  A lot.  I do have two nieces that are fond of reading.  Both college age now.  It will not surprise any of you to know that for many years I was the "Aunt Kay who always gives us books".  I have definitely tried to encourage all my young relatives to enjoy reading.  My own daughter is more of a movie buff, but she loves audio books and uses them extensively on her commute to work.

So, when we were all together at Christmas I got into a conversation with the two nieces - what have you been reading?  Was it good?  Do you recommend it?  And they asked me the same questions.  Both of them read Young Adult books as a rule.  I told them that I was reading one of the Mortal Instruments books - #3 in fact, The City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.  Ooh, they said and told of their love of that series.  Would I please finish it so they could talk to me about it?  Well, I said yes, of course.  And today I finished #6, The City of Heavenly Fire.

I enjoyed this Young Adult fantasy series - not as much as Harry Potter or the Twilight series, but there were some interesting aspects.  The books were a little long for me, but I persevered.  I have not read of the exploits of Shadowhunters (who hunt demons) before, but was familiar with vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and the fey or faerie realm.  I was intrigued by this author's use of some of the more obscure aspects of the Bible - the Nephilim, the handwriting on the wall in the Book of Daniel, and angels in specific and in general.  Something different.  There was kind of a Scooby gang of Shadowhunters, Clary, Jace, Isabelle and Alec, and their friends of other types, Simon, a vampire, Maia and Jordan, werewolves, and Magnus, a warlock.  Much drama ensues, of course.  It was good fun.

I'm sure my nieces and I will have a nice little discussion the next time we are all together, spring break maybe.  Oh and one of them asked me if I had started reading the Divergent trilogy yet.  She reminded me that I had promised her I would.  I guess I better get on that pretty soon.  Pant, pant.  She is relentless and this is what "Aunt Kay who always gives us books" gets, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In which I visit a new book group and discuss Still Alice...

One of the goals I had for myself this year was to visit and try out a couple of new book groups - ones that I wasn't leading and were perhaps closer to my home.  Today, I visited a book group at the library that is closest to my house - only a few miles.  I especially was interested in this group as the book for discussion today was Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

I read Still Alice several years ago and it remains one of the most personally meaningful books I have ever read.  I have recommended it over and over, have literally pressed it into the hands of people whose family members have been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia.

I was so pleased to see that this book had been made into a movie, that Julianne Moore was cast as Alice (good pick, I think), that she was awarded a Golden Globe this past weekend for her performance and that this story will be available to so many more people.  I don't know if I will see it in a theater or not.  I have this vision of myself sobbing, so I will likely wait until I can view it in my own home.

Getting back to the book group, I had a lovely time.  I think we surprised the librarian who was moderating by the number of people who attended.  She asked who liked the book or loved the book and it was virtually everyone there.  Often a discussion lags when all agree.  However, that was not the case.  And I was pleased to just sit by and be a regular member.  I shared a bit of my reading experience and how Still Alice touched my life at a very difficult time.  My go-to analogy of family members and their caretakers experiencing Alzheimer's concerns dark storm clouds and silver linings.  And especially living in the moment with the individual.  You will be surprised by joy when you least expect it.  I promise.

I plan on returning to this book group next month.  We'll be discussing The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.  I'm looking forward to it.  Leaving you with the trailer for Still Alice:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

I was really surprised by how profoundly affected I was by Elizabeth Haynes first book, Into the Darkest Corner.  This is a mystery of sorts - probably more of a psychological study in the thriller vein - but a crime novel nonetheless.  It tells the story of a woman, Cathy Bailey, who has experienced something that has changed her life in such an awful way.  She was a victim of a brutal crime and, therefore, has PTSD.  Her coping mechanism is serious, consuming OCD.  And this may have been one of the saddest books I've ever read.  Scary sad.

Catherine (as Cathy was known at the time) was a single woman who liked to party, liked to drink and go out with her friends, liked to take men home occasionally, and, yes, she was a little too reckless in that regard.  She meets a man that seems like someone wonderful, someone that makes all her friends envious.  He is attentive and caring and involved.  And then he is too attentive, too "caring", too involved.  Things turn very, very bad.  And no one believes her.

Four years later, Cathy lives in another city.  Her friends wouldn't recognize her.  She doesn't recognize herself.  She doesn't go out.  She doesn't drink.  She barely is able to manage a job.  She lives in a small, small box of a life that is filled with "checking".  She checks the doors, the windows, the drawers in the kitchen.  She checks behind her and before her and around her.  She does it over and over and over to the point of exhaustion.  She's late to work often because she is checking.  Her rituals are her only means of staving off panic attacks.  She doesn't feel safe.  She hates and fears the color red.  She is terrified all the time.  

Elizabeth Haynes does a very good job, in my opinion, of communicating to the reader the prison of a life individuals with OCD experience.  I listened to this book on audio,  and I was almost breathless at times as the narrative took us over and over through Cathy's rituals.  It was frightening.  My heart went out to her, as I kept telling myself, this is fiction, this is fiction.  

I am, by nature, a tidy sort of person.  Always have been.  I think it's what led me to major in accounting in college - numbers and columns that balance.  I also love the library with the books and other items organized in neat rows.  I don't like what I consider mess and become somewhat anxious in chaotic situations or places.  There have been times in my life when I have been overwhelmed by circumstances or issues to the point of true clinical anxiety.  I have once experienced a panic attack (it was terrible).  I have not ever been in the sort of situation that the protagonist in this book finds herself.  But...I can see how it wouldn't take much to get me there anxiety-wise.  And that was eye-opening.  Wow.

So, I found this book riveting.  The language is a little strong and some of the scenes are a little violent.  However, I think when you are listening to a book, rather than reading with your eyes, those things are more noticeable.  At least they are to me.  I'm looking forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Haynes.  She's on my list for 2015.  And I will never take for granted again the fact that my little quirks and small anxieties could be so, so much worse.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Mystery Book Group discusses The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

We had an excellent meeting last night discussing The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell.

I love this book group and noted that we will begin our 8th year together in 2015, as last night was our 7th anniversary.  I remember that first meeting.  I had been working with another book group at my library workplace for about 7 months at that time.  Asked my manager if I could begin a second group and focus on mysteries, my favorite genre.  She said yes and off I went.  That first meeting had about 25 people attending and scared me to death!  How would it work with that many people for discussion?  Well, it turned out that not all returned for the second meeting.  Don't recall the number, but it was more like  7 or 8 of us.  We still have 2 members in the group, besides myself, that attended that first meeting!  We're a good group and the attendance has fluctuated between 10 and 18 or so.  It's a lot of fun.  When I left the library job, I continued on for a while as the leader and then another library colleague took over.  She moved away this last year and I have stepped back up to ramrod things.  I love it and hope we continue for many years to come.

OK, last night was a cold night here in Central Texas.  We had 12 members that attended and our discussion of the 1920's book, The Other Typist, was vigorous.  Just a little info about the book.

Rose is a typist at a New York police precinct.  She goes into the interview room with detectives and functions as a stenographer as they question and solicit confessions from individuals.  The time is the 1920's and the book has speakeasies, Prohibition, bobbed hair, Gatsby-like rich people and estates, bootleggers and the Charleston.  Rose is fascinated by the new typist that has been hired, Odalie, a mysterious woman who introduces her to an underground world Rose has only heard about in the interview room.  And Odalie is really something else...odd, compelling, twisted.

Honestly, we didn't like this book all that much.  There were parts that were intriguing, but it was not a traditional mystery by any means.  A psychological study perhaps.  The blurb on the front of one of the copies compared it to Gone Girl (really?).  That was a clue for many members as our book group may be the only one in existence that did not love Gone Girl.  (Ask me why if you'd like to know.)  We talked a lot about the ending and debated what we thought about it.  We talked about the two women, Rose and Odalie, and what some of their actions meant.  We felt that it might have been better edited and also could have included more of the 1920's culture.  We found one reference to someone being like "Lady Diana", which seemed an editing miss as Princess Di wasn't alive for quite a few more years.  We did have a couple of members who liked it more than others.  We had a couple who would have liked to throw it across the room.  It was a fun debate and comment free-for-all.  We gave it a thumbs-to-the-side, OK but not rushing to tell people about it, rating.

Next month, we will be discussing Louise Penny's new book, The Long Way Home.  I can't wait!

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 and fitness

I wanted to write one more "introductory" post before I feel like I've settled back into the blogging deal.  And this is mostly for myself.  To put something "on paper" as it were.

2015 needs to be the year that I seriously take myself down the road to better health, mentally and physically.  No, I don't have any huge issues other than being way too overweight.  I did a few years ago and many of you were around when I had ovarian cancer.  Gratefully, that has not recurred and I'm 6-1/2 years out.  That being said, I don't want to take anything for granted.  I have done better some years on the fitness goal, working with a trainer and getting stronger, and some years have been rather sluggish.  2015 is not going to be sluggish.

I know there are some groups out there in the blogging world that are about moving more and fitness goals and I may decide to join at some point.  Right now, I just want to throw my goals out there and say, here's my plan.

Eat a little less and notice more about what I eat and how I feel when I do it.

Move more.  Much more.  Building up a little at a time.  Walking.  Strength training (I have the equipment and the know how).  Yoga (the ending part with the meditation is the best).  Oh and rowing.  I have a rowing machine here at home.  I haven't used it as much as I would like.  Rowing is soothing and kind of zen for me.

That's it.  All my goals.  I'll try to mention my progress now and then.  Audiobooks will be my friend. And good rollicking music.  I've joined a yoga class that starts next week.  I've been away from it too long and decided to try a new yoga place and take their beginner's class.  My body feels very creaky in many ways, so I think that easing back into the stretching and poses will be good.

Thanks for listening and good luck with any goals or aims that you have set for yourselves as this year, 2015 (isn't it amazing that it's 2015?) gets rolling.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thoughts about 2014 and looking ahead to 2015

I'm not going to do an ordinary "best of" post for 2014, but I do want to mention a few books that spoke to me this last year.  I still attend a mystery book group at my former library workplace and this year saw me taking back the "moderator" hat again from my friend Jamie.  We read some great books in that group, the best of which was likely Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger.  Such a good book and it won many awards at mystery conferences.  If you haven't read Ordinary Grace, I recommend it.

Our group also read Dog On It by Spencer Quinn, the first book in the Chet and Bernie mystery series.  Chet is a dog and Bernie is a private investigator.  We have one member who had been urging us to read this book for a couple of years.  The one "different" thing is that the stories are narrated by Chet, from his point of view.  I loved it and I'm not even a dog person.  Dog On It got a thumbs up from most of our group.

We're looking forward to a good year in 2015.  Our discussion for January will be next Wednesday evening and we're talking about The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell.  Hmmm...I'll enjoy sharing what we come up with.  I'm suspecting that there may be a difference of opinion regarding some of the conclusions and storylines in this 1920's psychological thriller.

Speaking of psychological thrillers, has 2014 and probably 2013 before been filled with books that were touted as "just like Gone Girl" or "another Before I Go To Sleep".  I've gotten to where I am leery of and pretty much sick of this tactic.  I love a good twisty-turny mystery or thriller, but really?  Anyway, I also enjoyed:

The Secret Place by Tana French
In The Blood by Lisa Unger
Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner
Watching You by Michael Robotham

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was wonderful.  I listened to this one on audio and loved all of it.  May have been my favorite audio all year.  And then there was Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.  Oh my.  It's the first of a trilogy and I can't wait for the second book to come out in April.

I read 131 books in 2014, which may be the most I've ever read before.  It was good, mostly, but I'm thinking that I may have read too many and rushed through them.  I did listen to 44 books on audio, again the most ever.  Living in the country has offered many opportunities to listen as I run errands.  We are at least 15-20 minutes from really anything - grocery, gas station, etc.

I'm not really setting any goals for 2015 in my reading.  I just want to enjoy a variety of books and read what I want in the order I want.  Don't think that's too much to ask.  I'm not accepting any review copies any longer, so I feel no responsibility there.  I'll enjoy hearing about what everyone else has discovered and no doubt my wish list will expand again.  Thanks for welcoming me back to blogging.  As soon as I figure out some of the ins and outs of Blogger, I'll be more comfortable.  I wanted to post some pictures in this post, but I seem to be having trouble with that.  Looks like things have changed a bit.  Maybe next time.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Welcome to kay's reading life!

Welcome to my new blog.  I am Kay and I'm excited about reconnecting with the blogging world and renewing the friendships that have been so neglected in the last few years.  Once upon a time, I had a blog by the name of My Random Acts of Reading.  I enjoyed it, loved talking about my books and reading, met and connected with other bloggers, and then life happened and things became complicated.  For a short while, I continued that blog under a new name, Purple Sage and Scorpions.  After a bit, I decided that blogging had become an activity that was not fun for me.  So, I closed my blog and actually deleted it.

Life continued to happen and parts of it have been good and parts have been bad.  There have been joys and sorrows.  Through it all, books have been my solace and my escape.  And I've missed sharing my book thoughts and feelings.  I've missed reading blogs and nodding my head in agreement or adding to my wish list when a great sounding book was reviewed.

So, I'm here to try this whole book loving and sharing thing again.  And it feels right.  I'll be coming around to your blogs and saying, "Hey, remember me?".  Inviting you to visit me here in Central Texas at "kay's reading life".  The door is open and you are most welcome.  And thanks so much for being out there.  It's a lovely thing to know that there are people somewhat like me in the world - you know, the crazy, real readers.