Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Murder One


By Robert Dugoni

From the book jacket:

A year after the devastating murder of his wife, attorney David Sloane has returned to Seattle after three months in Mexico. At a black-tie dinner where he’s been persuaded to give the keynote address, Sloane reconnects with Barclay Reid, opposing counsel in his most prominent case. Barclay is suffering from her own personal tragedy—the death of her teenage daughter from a drug overdose. In the aftermath, Barclay has begun an intense crusade against the Russian drug traffickers she holds responsible for her daughter’s death, pursuing them with a righteousness that matches Sloane’s own zeal for justice. Despite their adversarial past, Sloan is drawn to Barclay and for the first time since his wife died, he finds himself beginning to have romantic feelings again. But when Barclay’s crusade stalls and a Russian drug dealer turns up dead, she stands accused of murder, and Sloane is her chosen defender. Amid the swirling media frenzy, in his first criminal case, Sloane finds himself once again in harm’s way, while mounting evidence suggests that Barclay is a woman with many secrets—and may not be quite as innocent as she seems.

Just my opinion:

Murder One is truly an awesome read. I liked it right away for a couple reasons – the author is from the same state where I live (Washington) and he uses scenes in Seattle I could recognize. To top it off, the story caught my attention from the start with crisp writing and an interesting scenario.

There are also several twists in the book that keep you guessing on who committed the crime. My first guess was soon proved wrong as all the evidence began to point to another character. But as the story continued, I kept going back to my original opinion for a variety of reasons. There was just something a little “off” about the person that didn’t quite add up.

I’m trying desperately to write a review that doesn’t give away the ending, so I’ll stop there with the description and just say this really is a great book and if you like whodunits, you’ll definitely enjoy reading this or any of the other books Robert Dugoni has penned.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coming Up for Air


By Patti Callahan Henry

From the back of the book:

In this breathtaking novel, one woman’s search for truth after her mother’s death brings her to a mysterious house on a bay – and face-to-face with an ex-boyfriend who opens a window onto her past …

Just my opinion:

Intense. That’s probably the right word to describe this story about a woman who is frustrated with her marriage and her role as a wife. When her mother dies and she is left with a journal that describes a side of her mother she never knew existed, she goes on a quest to find out what changed her mother. In the process, she hopes to find a way to come to terms with her own feelings.

It really is “breathtaking,” to say the least. Beautifully written and poignant, it’s a story most women can relate to at some point in their lives. It’s a way to come to terms with the past and look at making the future mean something real and honest.

It’s such a moving story and I’m so glad I read it. It’s one I’m not likely to forget.

Some favorite passages from the book:

I don’t know why laughter comes at moments it should be banned; I don’t know why it rains where we least need it or why love leaves us when we most need it.

We make our choices and then we live with them. Everyone does.

He looked much younger—which was the obvious and awful thing that happens when you get old. You think legal adults look like toddlers.

All of them—the shrimp, the flounder, the crabs—they’re all coming up for air.

The bookstore was quiet and buzzing in the same way as a forest: Activity was evident, but done in the most quiet and efficient of ways. Throughout the room, bookshelves were pushed together like an overcrowded party of shy people waiting for someone to talk to them.

Love. Maybe there should be a hundred words for that one word. It seems too complex a thing to write in four letters. We have it; we don’t have it. We need it; we lose it. We win it; we want it. We weep for it; we let it go.

The choices we make when we’re broken are sometimes the most awful of all our choices.

We all become the person we are from the person we were.

No matter how many times you write it or wish it, you can’t make someone love you.

When you ruin a friendship, when you destroy a heart, you can’t walk back into it a if the damage were never done. I’d say “sorry,” but even that word wasn’t enough. Sometimes there aren’t any words that are enough to heal what’s been broken.

Sometimes when damage is done to our souls, we stop loving to protect our hearts.

Don’t you know by now that most things in our life were not in our plans?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins

1. How in the world did I find such a great husband.

2. I love looking at the picture of my grandson in front of me.

3. Life's a lot easier than we give it credit for.

4. I love me a picnic lunch.

5. That was where we should be looking.

6. The ocean is what I think of as "our place".

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include finishing a newsletter for our local Audubon group and Sunday, I want to do absolutely nothing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Blue Pen


By Lisa Rusczyk

Description of the book:

When magazine writer Parker meets homeless woman Cleo, he decides to interview her to find out the story of how she became homeless. Over several days, Cleo describes going from recluse to star of an improvisation club, where people channel spirits and explore the paranormal side of life. Parker is being blackmailed by another reporter to take Cleo's story and must find a way to keep Cleo's tale his while not letting her down in the process.

Just my opinion:

This story follows the life of a homeless woman after she tells a reporter how she came to be in the position she was living in when he found her. It is a tale I found fascinating and I kept reading in anticipation of finding out how she came to be homeless.

Well-written and intriguing, it’s a timeless story that will make you appreciate what you have and understand those less fortunate in a different light.

Some favorite passages from the book:

Destiny isn't a romantic boat ride where the water lilies dance in the moonlight. It isn't mysterious. Destiny decides things for you, tortures you with obsessions and compulsions to follow its direction. It's a child with a matchbook crouching near a dead tree stump. I can't ever forget it's out there, calculating with every move I make how it can fry me right along where it wants me to go.

A little grass won't kill you, or other drugs in moderation. Other things do, like the way the world is.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Firefly Beach


By Luanne Rice

From the back of the book:

Coolly sophisticated and steadfastly single, Caroline Renwick has always been the sister everyone could count on. As she and Clea and Skye gathered on Firefly Hill, their childhood home, Caroline thought that they had all put the past behind them. But as summer gets under way, a mysterious man arrives—a man who has the power to bring it all back. Joe Connor was only six when his father died at Firefly Hill. Though he and Caroline had never met, the five-year-old girl reached out to him. They became pen pals and friends, until a teenaged Joe finally learned the truth about what had happened to his father that night. Now, after years of silence, Joe is suddenly here … and Caroline still feels a connection. But she can’t help but wonder if this handsome man holds the key to her family’ healing—or its destruction.

Just my opinion:

This is another good read from this author – one of my favorites. It’s not one of her best books, in my opinion, but it ranks up there above many other authors’ novels you can find on the market.

The book revolves around a suicide that happened when two of three sisters were little girls (the third sister wasn’t born yet). Now they are all grown up and about to come face to face with the son of the man who killed himself in front of them. Their mother is also one of the main characters and she wants nothing to do with the man’s family in any capacity. So imagine her reticence when he shows up on the scene.

It’s truly an intriguing story, although I didn’t particularly care for the man. I thought his personality was rather aloof and egotistical. I liked the sisters, though, and enjoyed reading the interactions between them.

This really is a great storyline and I’m glad I added this book to my list of those I've read that were written by Luanne Rice.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mice


By Gordon Reece

From the book jacket:

Shelley and her mother have been menaced long enough. Fleeing their fears and anxieties, they retreat to Honeysuckle Cottage deep in the countryside, which they hope will put a halt to years of suffering at the hands of others. Shelly has endured merciless bullying from the girls who used to be her best friends, and Elizabeth’s domineering husband of eighteen years has abandoned them for a younger woman. For Shelly and Elizabeth are “mice” – timid, nervous and obliging.

Just my opinion:

What an absolutely amazing book! This is definitely at the top of my list for the best novels of 2012.

This is the story of Shelley, a teen who has been severely brutalized, both mentally and physically, by the same girls she grew up with and who were once her very best friends. They suddenly decided she was an easy target and hurt her very deeply, finally putting her in the hospital with their abuse. Her mother Elizabeth put up with years of mental anguish at the hands of her controlling husband, only to have him leave her for a much younger woman. When Shelley decides she would rather remain living with her mother, the man turned his back on both of them, choosing, instead, to push them out of his life entirely.

Rather than remain in the house where they have lived their lives as “mice,” they move to a secluded cottage in the countryside. With no traffic and no neighbors for miles around them, they finally feel as if they can start their lives over and no one can bother them.

That all changes when they become victims of a break-in by a maniacal young man who is drunk and strung out on drugs. The events that transpire will change their lives forever.

I was so enthralled by this novel and just couldn’t stand to put it down. The pace is quick and the sentences are so well-written, I found myself staying up late to finish it. Gordon Reece has a way of allowing readers to put themselves right in the pages alongside the characters. You can see clearly exactly what’s going on and you want to reach out and take part in the story.

A super new book and one I hope you’ll try.

Some favorite passages from the book:

Writers always seemed to know the names of flowers and trees; it helped to make them sound more authoritative, more Godlike.

Staring up at the sky, I liked to imagine that I lived in a simpler, more innocent time – ideally a time before there were any human beings at all, when the earth was one vast green paradise and cruelty, hurting for the pleasure of hurting, was completely unknown.

It seemed more natural to me to say nothing, to suffer in silence, to stay very still and hope not to be seen, to scurry along the skirting board searching for a safe place to hide.

I understand that the greater the trauma the less adequate words become until, I imagine, when we face the greatest test of all, only silence seems appropriate.

I was surprised to see that it was Lady Macbeth who had engineered King Duncan’s murder and not Macbeth as I’d thought, and I found myself wondering, in the light of what my ‘best friends’ had done to me, whether women were the gentler sex after all. Was it possible that women were actually crueller than men?

Real life was the complete opposite of order and beauty; it was chaos and suffering, cruelty and horror.

I wondered idly is Shakespeare had ever killed anyone – how else could he have known so exactly what the aftermath was like?

It was strange to watch Tom chasing Jerry round and round the kitchen, bringing the frying pan down on his head and flattening Jerry like a pancake while the music raced jovially along and the comic sound effect – boing! – rang out again and again. Violence in bright colour. Violence without blood. Violence without death. It wasn’t like that in real life.

No one ever gets away with anything in the movies because they can’t have an audience thinking that crime pays. But this isn’t a movie – this is real life. And people get away with things all the time in real life.

The loss of just one person, one individual, no matter how worthless their existence had been, was meant to matter.

For the first time in my life I began to think that perhaps the loss of an individual wasn’t of very much significance after all. Perhaps it was a meaningless as the casual crushing of a fly against a windowpane. Perhaps the fabric of the universe didn’t change one iota.

No matter where we are or what we’re doing, death and horror are always near us. The challenge is to get on with our lives and be happy even though we can always wee them out of the corner of our eye, blurred, but still recognizable in the background.

Life was brutal. Life was savage. Life was a war. I understand that now. I accepted that now. And I said: Bring it on. I wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim. Ever again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins



And...here we go!

1. It's fun to put your feet up in the evening and watch a little TV.

2. Pasta salad is easy to make.

3. I like to be in a quiet area when I read.

4. How I ended up with such a wonderful husband I will never know!

5. Something I'm very much excited about is watching the neighborhood kids going back to school next week.

6. Deciding to freelance was well worth it.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to starting a new book, tomorrow my plans include fixing salads for my husband's family reunion on Sunday and Sunday, I want to relax and catch up on all the family going-ons!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

National Tell a Joke Day


Three nuns were attending a hockey game. Three men were sitting directly behind them. Because their habits were partially blocking the view, the men decided to badger the nuns, hoping they would get annoyed enough to move to another area.

In a very loud voice, the first guy said, "I think I'm going to move to Utah. There are only 100 nuns living there."

Then the second guy spoke up and said, "I want to go to Montana. There are only 50 nuns living there."

The third guy said, "I want to go to Idaho. There are only 25 nuns living there."

One of the nuns turned around, looked at the men and in a very sweet and calm voice said, "Why don't you just go to hell. There aren't any nuns there."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Cup of Tea


By Amy Ephron

From the back of the book:

Born to privilege, Rosemary Fell has wealth, well-connected friends, and a handsome fiancĂ©, Philip Alsop. One cold and rainy night she sees, under a streetlamp, the mysterious Eleanor Smith huddled against the elements. In a moment of beneficence, Rosemary invites the penniless young woman home for a cup of tea. Arriving on the scene, Philip notices Eleanor warming herself by the roaring fire. When Rosemary sees them exchange an unmistakable look, she promptly sends the girl packing. But she’s too late. In that one brief moment, Rosemary’s carefully sculptured life has cracked beyond repair.

Just my opinion:

I can’t believe how much I loved this book. Amy Ephron penned this story in the style of some of the classic writers, almost reminding me of the Bronte sisters. It’s so enthralling, I finished it in one day … I absolutely could not put it down!

The story concerns only a handful of characters living in New York City in 1917. The U.S. has entered the war and there is a different sort of atmosphere – people are trying desperately to add some excitement to their lives and pretend the war doesn’t exist. However, with families receiving telegrams and visits from the war department on a daily basis to tell them of lost loved ones, there is an underlying desperation that leads them to react to things differently than they normally would.

And that’s exactly the basis of this story.

Rosemary has always lived somewhat in her own world of wealth and prestige, often spending much of her time alone or with a select group of friends. On rainy night, she spots a young woman huddled under a lamp post in the rain. The woman is cold and hungry. Rosemary invites the woman, Eleanor, to her home to have a cup of tea and warm her weary bones. She also provides her with some clean clothes. Rosemary’s fiancĂ© Philip shows up and is immediately smitten by this lovely young lady he finds sitting in front of the fireplace and comments to Rosemary about her. He simply cannot take his eyes off Eleanor.

This concerns Rosemary, who tells Eleanor she must leave. She hands Eleanor a few dollars and sends her on her way. However, her friend, who is also at the house, follows Eleanor and gives her a lead on a job. Setting off a chain reaction, this series of acts changes all of their lives forever – leading up to the surprise ending of the book.

The copyright of A Cup of Tea is 1997, so this book has been out for a while. I’m anxious to look into some of Amy Ephron’s other works. Her books have some very interesting titles, such as Bruised Fruit, Biodegradable Soap and One Sunday Morning, that scream, “Read Me!” And according to the website Fantastic Fiction, she has a new book coming out in September with the title Loose Diamonds. I’m definitely going to check it out.

Some favorite passages from the book:

What good was it to have money if one didn’t sometime indulge.

It was like something one would read about, to find a girl in the dusk and bring her home for tea. … What good was it to have power, if one couldn’t be beneficent some of the time.

But do we ever raise our children, particularly those as pampered and protected as Rose has been, to deal with whatever unexpected occurrences life throws at them?

This was what it was then. She’d fallen in love. And she knew in her heart, even though the odds weren’t in her favor, there wasn’t anything else worth waiting for.