Tuesday Top Ten

top ten openingclosing

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

Due to technical difficulties, I was out of contact on my blog last week, but now I’m back up and running!  So this week’s challenge was to list the beginning and endings of books that I love the most…

Beginnings

  1. “First the colors, Then the humans, That’s how I usually see things, Or at least, how I try. Here is a small fact, You are going to die.” – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2.  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  3.  “It was a pleasure to burn.” – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  4. “Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.” – Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
  5.  “If you are interested in stories with happy ending, you would be better off reading some other book.” – Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Endings

  1.  “I am haunted by humans.” – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2.  “It’s a book, Jackass.” – It’s a Book by Lane Smith
  3.  “After all, tomorrow is another day.” – Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  4. “But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” – The House on Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
  5. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald –
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Mystery Mayhem

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of a good (and even some not-so-good) mysteries.  I thought I’d share some more quick thoughts on what’s new in some of my favorite series.

angora

The Seaside Knitters Series takes place in Sea Harbor, on the coast of the Atlantic.  A series of locals find themselves trying to rights wrongs and help the police solve local crimes.  One of the main characters, Izzy, owns a knitting shop where she meets with family and friends (her Aunt Nell, the eccentric elderly Birdie, the lobsterwoman Cass) on Thursday nights to knit, share food, and brainstorm.  The books are light, typical whodunits, but the characters are warm, friendly, and familiar and the setting is one of my favorites – a northeastern coastal town – with all that brings – good seafood, unpredictable weather, and breathtaking scenery.

In this latest installment, Angora Alibi, Izzy is about to give birth to her first child, but something doesn’t feel right, things are not peaceful.  When a young man is killed during a scuba dive Izzy knows that they need to find the murderer among them before her baby is born.  Joined by all of her friends in Sea Harbor and traversing rumors of theft, drug deals gone wrong, and adultery, the killer is ultimately discovered, leaving Sea Harbor ready to accept its newest member.

Title: Angora Alibi
Author: Sally Goldenbaum
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Pages: 321
Publication: Penguin, May 2013

cookbook

The Bibliophile Mystery series follows Brooklyn Wainwright, a rare book expert in San Francisco, and she continues to trip over dead bodies and find the killer.  She is joined by her ever-so-handsome British boyfriend, Derek, who also happens to be a security expert and bodyguard.  There is a cast of other wonderful characters throughout the series, including her wacky, peace-loving, commune-living, hippy family.

In this latest installment, Brooklyn’s sister Savannah is cooking at the opening of a former classmate’s new restaurant with other members of her class.  When the restaurateur is found stabbed to death in the kitchen after the dinner is over, Savannah is the one holding the bloody knife.  Turns out, no one really liked their old “friend”, but who killed him and why?  Was it blackmail, jealousy, a spurned lover, or could it have something to do with the antique cookbook that he gave to Savannah years ago?

This may have been my favorite book in the series so far – a wonderful combination of my favorite things – mystery, books, and food!  It was fast-paced and fun, with a touch of romance and plenty of humor.  I never tire of Brooklyn’s family and some of my favorite scenes are those with her mother – what spells and incantations will she use next on her poor daughter?!

Title: Cookbook Conspiracy
Author: Kate Carlisle
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Pages: 312
Publication: Penguin, June 2013

12th

I am not a big fan of James Patterson’s books – it’s probably a good thing that I’m not or I’d have something new to read every week!  He is certainly one of the most prolific and best-selling authors today, although he does not actually write all of his books himself – hence me not being a huge fan.  If you look you will notice most of his books have his name in large letters at the top and then, in smaller print, at the bottom it will say “& someone else”.  Patterson admits to writing the outlines and then working with his writers on the editing process but leaving the majority of the actual writing to other writers.  Whether you agree with his methods or not (and I don’t), he sure knows how to sell books and I know that his works are among the most popular at our library.

Having said all of that, I do still read his Women’s Murder Club series.  The series takes place in San Francisco where Lindsay (a police officer), Claire (the medical examiner), Yuki (an assistant DA), and Cindy (a news reporter) all work to solve the latest murders.  12th of Never is the latest in the series and Lindsay is a new mom but her peace and quiet can’t last for long. An English professor is having dreams about murders and no one believes him until they actually start occurring.  A girlfriend of a star player for the 49ers is found shot to death in her car and no progress can be made on the case before her body mysteriously disappears from the morgue.  And Randolph Fish, a serial killer coming out of a two-year coma, is ready to talk about where the bodies are buried, but he only wants to talk to Lindsay.  So Lindsay is back at work, joined by the rest of the women’s murder club, working with her partners in the force, to see that justice is served.

This was actually one of the better in the series recently – the last several were a little too dull in my opinion.  The pacing was good, the parallel story lines were interesting, there were developments in many of their personal lives, and the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger.  Not high literature, but a fun quick read anyway.

Title: 12th of Never
Author: James Patterson
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Pages: 432
Publication: Little, Brown and Company, April 2013

piazza

The Faith Fairchild Mystery series centers on the detecting skills of Faith Fairchild.  Faith, a minister’s daughter, did what she swore never to do, and married a minister herself.  Uprooted from her beloved Manhattan, she now lives in Aleford, a small New England town, where she raises her two children and runs her own catering business.  Faith is a snob – a food snob and a clothing snob – but her devotion to her husband Tom (who orders his clothes from L.L. Bean and thinks cooking is opening a can of Campbell’s), her children, and her myriad of down-to-earth friends in Aleford make her likable.  Of course she does have that propensity for stumbling over dead bodies and getting involved in finding the killer!

In this latest installment, Body in the Piazza, Faith and Tom are on an anniversary trip to Italy to see the sites and spend a week at their friend’s new cooking school.  Their peaceful vacation is disrupted when they stumble across a stabbed man dying in the piazza in Rome.  When they leave Rome for the cooking school, the mystery follows them, many of the guests at the school are not who they seem, and Faith will need to use her skills to determine the truth and find the culprit.

This was a fresh addition to a series which I thought was faltering.  The descriptions of Italy and the food (I always leave these books hungry and wanting to cook!) were enticing, and the new cast of characters was a welcome break from Aleford.

Title: Body in the Piazza
Author: Katherine Hall Page
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Pages: 261
Publication: Harper Collins, April 2013

closeknit

The Knitting Mystery series takes place in Fort Collins, Colorado, and revolves around a group of friends and the Lambspun knitting shop.  Kelly is the main character, an accountant transplanted from the east coast upon the death of her aunt – the first murder in the series.  Along with her boyfriend, Steve, and a cast of close friends, Kelly becomes embroiled in numerous murders, generally to clear the name of a suspect who also happens to be someone Kelly knows and likes, noodling through the clues while she works on her latest knitting project.  The descriptions of the scenery in Colorado, the knitting shop, the food in the attached café, the relationships and camaraderie among this ever-growing and changing group of friends, make this a fun series.

In this latest installment, Close Knit Killer, a hated man is stabbed in the throat and left to die in his car at the end of the Lambspun driveway.  Everyone wanted him dead, but an instructor at the knitting shop and a local handyman were both seen angrily confronting him and are on the police’s radar.  Kelly ultimately discovers the shocking truth, saving the innocent from prosecution.  This installment ends with a cliffhanger, with the canyon ranch of a friend in jeopardy due to forest fires, leaving me awaiting the next installment to see how everyone fares.

Title: Close Knit Killer
Author: Maggie Sefton
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Pages: 272
Publication: Berkley, June 2013

Tuesday Top Ten

top ten recognition

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list authors that I think deserve more recognition.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t get any recognition, I just think they should get more.  It also doesn’t necessarily mean that they are writing the greatest literature of our time (although some are), just that I think they are being overlooked.   Oh, and I only came up with 9, although I am sure there are more I’m just not recognizing…

Authors of my 3 Favorite Mystery Series:

Louise Penny – Her Inspector Gamache series is simply amazing and she should always be at the top of the NY Times bestseller list!

Reed Farrel Coleman – His gritty Moe Prager novels are the best of the best and shouldn’t be missed by any mystery fan.

Kate Carlisle – My favorite cozy mystery series – The Bibliophile Mysteries combine two things I love – books and mysteries.  These books are a step above many of the cozy mysteries out there.

YA Authors:

Patrick Ness – His Chaos Walking series is suspenseful and dark and well-written.  Fans of dystopian fiction should give them  a try – they are as good or better than other series out there.

Rainbow Rowell – I read Eleanor & Park and fell in love – I hope to see much more from this writer and hope she gets overwhelmed with recognition.

Markus Zusak – The Book Thief should be required reading in every high school, until that happens, and until he is recognized as having written the next classic novel, no amount of recognition will be enough!

Adult Authors:

Eoin Colfer – His Artemis Fowl series received a great deal of attention, but I would like to see him receive more for his adult series featuring Daniel McEvoy.

Anthony Marra – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was amazing and I can’t wait to read more from him!

Robin Sloan – One of my favorite books of the year – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was a funny, quirky story of a quest for immortality.  Anticipating what comes next!

Summer Wedding Reads

When I started reading some light summer “beach books” I noticed a trend in several focusing on marriage and weddings.  Romance, struggles, expectations, disappointments, revelations, personal journeys, and of course – ultimately – happy endings (well, at least mostly…).

engagements

A Diamond is Forever.  The famous advertising line penned by Frances Gerety, a young copywriter working on the DeBeers campaign in 1947.  This novel spans nearly a century, looking at marriage and love from multiple angles as it changes over the decades, while following the story of diamonds, and the genius behind their advertising.

Evelyn has been married to the same man for forty years, after losing her first husband suddenly and devastatingly.  Now she is facing the end of her own son’s marriage, causing her to reflect on both of hers.

Delphine left her steady older husband in France to pursue passion with a younger man, a violinist, in New York.  Now that he has betrayed her she seeks revenge while examining both of her relationships.

James is a paramedic working the night shift, while he and his wife Sheila struggle to make ends meet.  He knows that her parents think she could’ve done better, and is looking for ways to make things better for the love of his life.

Kate and Dan have lived together for a decade, own a home together, and have a child together.  But Kate is dead set against marriage and weddings.  As she prepares for the wedding of her cousin she examines her motives quietly while trying to be supportive of an event she cannot condone.

Not only does the novel follow the ins and outs of these various relationships and marriages, it follows the story of the brains behind American diamond advertising for decades, while ultimately following the story of one particular diamond.

The changing points of view in each chapter were not distracting, but came together almost as a series of short stories, making for a fun and quick read.  Some of the interconnections were surprising as they were revealed, yet another instance of a book this summer showing how our separateness is truly an illusion (see my review of The Illusion of Separateness) but in a lighter novel, great for a weekend on the deck or a day at the beach.

Title: The Engagements
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 400
Publication: Knopf, June 2013

beautiful day

When Jenna’s mother passed away she left her The Notebook, instructions, reflections, and thoughts for every aspect of her youngest daughter’s wedding day.  Now the wedding weekend has arrived, Jenna and Stuart should be blissfully happy, but as their guests arrive on Nantucket things begin to fall apart.

Margot, Jenna’s sister and her matron-of-honor, is divorced and having a secret affair with her father’s business partner, consistent in her warnings to Jenna that marriage is a bad idea and that love never lasts.  One of the bridesmaids sleeps around indiscriminately, including with one of the groomsmen, while another seems suspiciously close to Jenna’s playboy brother in the face of her own marital difficulties.  Jenna’s dad is struggling in his recent remarriage, very much still in love with and mourning his late wife.  To make things even more awkward, Stuart’s parents are on their second marriage to one another.  The woman he married and had a child with in-between his marriages to Stuart’s mother is coming to the wedding as well, and she’s not coming quietly.  Throw in threats of rain, a pesky tree branch, obstinate children, and a bride threatening to call off the wedding, and there is never a dull moment.

Ultimately, as the novel examines what makes a relationship work, and the meaning of love and commitment, everyone will end up where they belong, even if it is not where they thought they should be going.  Hilderbrand’s writing always makes me want to hop a ferry to the island, to spend a week with my toes in the sand, eating lobster, and getting sunburned!  Another fun quick read to throw in your beach bag!

Title: Beautiful Day
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 416
Publication: Reagan Arthur Books, June 2013

Tuesday Top Ten

top ten movie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the best/worst movie adaptations from books.  To be fair, I only considered those where I have read the book and have seen the movie.  There are many, many that I could add to both the lists of good and bad, but most are just mediocre – not fantastic, but not awful enough to offend me!  You will see that my list is pretty heavy on children’s movies – having kids these are the movies I have seen the most often and typically multiple times so they are the ones that stuck with me!

The Good

  1. Harry Potter – I won’t try to pick the best of the movies – but they were all fantastic – some followed the books more closely than ever, but I never was disappointed after watching a Harry Potter movie.
  2. The Wizard of Oz – The movie may arguably be better than the book (ruby slippers are far superior to silver ones!).
  3. Gone with the Wind – A classic, beautiful costumes, wonderful cast, just a great movie if you have four hours to spare!
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird – Another classic – both the book and the movie are fabulous.
  5. Because of Winn Dixie – A wonderful family movie with a cast of great actors that closely mirrored the book.
  6. Charlotte’s Web – Both the 1973 animated movie and the 2006 movie were both fantastic depictions of this great childhood favorite.

The Bad

  1. Tale of Despereaux – I LOVED this book and I HATED this movie!  It was the most awful depiction of a book that I have ever seen, even my kids could not sit through it.  Don’t waste your time!
  2. The Cat in the Hat – Great children’s book, horribly overdone ridiculous movie.

Some of Both…

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The 1966 cartoon is still a favorite from my childhood and I eagerly watch it every Christmas, but I am not a fan of the 2000 movie – too annoying, overdone, and ridiculous.
  2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – I loved the 1971 version, a childhood classic, and an amazing world full of candy!  But the 2005 version?  I’m sorry, but Johnny Depp was far too creepy – I would never let my kids go into a candy factory with his character!