Debh2010's Blog

Books and Knitting – go figure

50 Harbor Street

50 Harbor Street, byDebbie Macomber.  This is the fifth book in the series, and I still haven’t yet read the 4th one, but now I know what must happen there.  This series continues to engage me, and I’m learning quite a lot about how to effectively carry on continuity in a long series.  Sometimes I think she’s repeating herself quite a bit, but then I realize that because she does think the back stories are necessary, each title is readable independent of the others.  Of course, it’s more fun and interesting to read them in order.  At least I think so.

Here’s the blurb from the Indiana Digital Media site:  “Corrie McAfee
50 Harbor Street
Cedar Cove, Washington

Dear Listener,
Considering that I’m married to Cedar Cove’s private investigator, you might think I enjoy mysteries. But I don’t – especially when they involve us! Roy and I have been receiving anonymous postcards and messages asking if we “regret the past.” We don’t know what they mean…

On a more positive note, we’re both delighted that our daughter, Linette, has moved to Cedar Cove to work at the new medical clinic. A while ago I attended the humane society’s “Dog and Bachelor Auction,” where I bought her a date with Cal Washburn, who works at Cliff Harding’s horse farm. Unfortunately Linette is less enthusiastic about this date than I am.

Speaking of Cliff, the romance between him and Grace Sherman is back on. But that’s only one of the many interesting stories here in Cedar Cove. So why don’t you drop by for a coffee at my husband’s office on Main Street or our house on Harbor and I’ll tell you everything that’s new!

Corrie”

I kind of like it that she writes the blurbs that way.  Corrie and her husband feature strongly in this story.  Excellent stuff.

*** three stars  out of five, and that’s because it’s a series, and with a series, you read them all and some will be fives and some will be twos, so to be fair, they have to all be threes.  Does that make sense to anyone but me? 

Happy Reading!

Advertisements

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B.White.  I went seeking a comfort read which is to a reader like a lot of people might go looking for a baked macaroni and cheese or homemade mashed potatoes.  I have been feeling down and poorly today and I just needed something that wouldn’t necessarily challenge my intellect, but would provide a safe and comfortable place to let my mind wander.  It had been years since I’d read Charlotte’s Web, but I remembered it fondly from my youth.  I downloaded it.

The audiobook version that I downloaded was the 50th anniversary edition and was read by the author.  He has since passed away, but what a mind, and such an honor to hear his story, read as he wanted it read.  Just fantastic.  It made me laugh and it made me cry, and it was just what I needed.  If you have not read this book in a while, or ever – please do yourself a favor and read it. 

The Indiana Digital Media website didn’t have much of a blurb, and since I have this thing about spoilers, I will here endeavor to provide a bit of a summary without giving too much away.

Wilbur the pig is born one cold morning and quite by accident on his part, but quite by insistence on hers, meets Fern.  She raises him until he’s too big to live at their house and then he’s sold to an uncle so that Fern can continue to visit him, and she does.  As anyone who’s grown knows, pigs are not usually kept for long on a farm, and when his ultimate fate is made known to him, Wilbur is naturally apprehensive.  Enter Charlotte, a beautiful gray spider, who becomes Wilbur’s friend, companion and ultimately his savior.

*****Five Stars out of five.  Read this book for yourself and for your children.  If you do not have children, find a child and read it to them.  This book needs to be read.

Happy Reading!

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Witch and Wizard

Witch and Wizard, by James Patterson.  Now see, while Mr. Patterson has been spending a lot of time and making considerable Benjamins writing adult fiction, he could have been writing young adult fiction all these years.  This latest series starter reads fast.  His main characters are really engaging and interesting.  I want to read more.  Mr. Patterson has combined forces with Gabrielle Charb0nnet in the writing of this story.  She’s worked with him before on Sundays at Tiffany’s, and it was a most excellent story.  Here’s the inside dust jacket blurb:

“YOU ARE HOLDING AN URGENT AND VITAL NARRATIVE THAT REVEALS THE FORBIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT THESE PERILOUS TIMES….

This is the atonishing testimonial of Wisty and Whit Allgood, a sister and brother who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and wizard.  They are not alone in their terrifying predicament.  Thousands of young people have been kidnapped.  Some have been accused; many others remain missing.  Their fate is unknown, and the worst is feared — for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic… and the pursuit of being a normal teenager.  Most copies of this story  have already been seized, shredded, or burned.  Read this rare, surviving edition and pass it along with care — before it’s too late.”

For those of you who think I’ve dissolved into Audiobook Land, this one I actually read in book form.  Though the speed at which it reads might be a factor, it remains that this is a most excellent book, and I’m delighted at what a good young adult writer Mr. Patterson makes.  My only gripe, and this is with the Maximum Ride series and with this one – A story has a beginning, a middle and an END.  Leaving it hanging every time just plain sucks, if you don’t have the next book right there to move on to.

*** Three Stars out of Five for the usual reasons, and I look forward to the next chapter in this saga.  I want to read FANG too, but haven’t procured it yet.

Happy Reading!

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eldest

Eldest, by Christopher Paolini is the second in the Inheritance series.  While I technically finished it today, I would have actually finished it two days ago except that my check-out expired and it quit on me right at the last Chapter.  I had to request it again and wait for my turn to get it.  If you haven’t read Eragon first, you’ll be better served to do so, since this story is very chronology bound.

Here’s the blurb from IDM:  ”

Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns. Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider: magic and swordsmanship. Soon he is on the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to awe-inspring new places and people, his days filled with fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and nothing is what it seems. Before long, Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle—one that might put Eragon in even graver danger. Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life.

Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award”

Gerard Doyle is the reader for Eldest, as he was on Eragon, and as I certainly hope he is on Brisingr. **** Four Stars out of five – really.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Appaloosa

Appaloosa, by Robert B. Parker.  They made a movie of this novel a few years ago, starring Vigo Mortensen.  I was interested in him because I’d been very impressed by his work in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and I wanted to see more of him.  I was impressed with him in this movie too, but for some reason, I never looked up the book to see what it was about.  I ran into this one by accident at Indiana Digital Media, and I have to say that as cowboy stories go, this is an excellent one.  I am a long-time, somewhat covert lover of old-fashioned shitkickers, having read my fair share of Louis L’Amour novels growing up.  Now I know that Robert B. Parker might become another of my favorite novelists.

Here’s the blurb from the Indiana Digital Media site:  ”

A richly imagined novel of the Old West, as spare and vivid as a high plains sunset, from one of the world’s most talented performers.

When it comes to writing, Robert B. Parker knows no boundaries. From the iconic Spenser detective series and the novels featuring Sunny Randall and Jess Stone, to the groundbreaking historical novel Double Play, Parker’s imagination has taken readers from Boston to Brooklyn and back again. In Appaloosa, fans are taken on another trip to the untamed territories of the West during the 1800s.

When Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch arrive in Appaloosa, they find a small, dusty town suffering at the hands of renegade rancher Randall Bragg, a man who has so little regard for the law that he has taken supplies, horses, and women for his own and left the city marshall and one of his deputies for dead. Cole and Hitch, itinerant lawmen, are used to cleaning up after opportunistic thieves, but in Bragg they find an unusually wily adversary – one who raises the stakes by playing not with the rules, but with emotions.

This is Robert B. Parker at his storytelling best.”

Oh, I’d like to give this more stars, but since I found out (much to my delight, I’ll admit) that this story is the start of a series, I’m giving it *** stars out of five for series story excellence.  Maybe one of these days I’ll try and explain why I don’t give series stories better scores, but don’t take it badly.  If it gets three stars it surely means it’s worth reading.  Not just once, but probably many times over.  Oh, and I don’t want to miss telling you that Titus Welliver, the reader of this particular audiobook really made the story come alive for me.  Most wonderful voice for this type of tale.

Dang.  Now I’m going to have to find these in a book store and find room on the shelves.  Sigh.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Playing Catch Up…

… with a pair of books that I’ve read this week but never blogged.  Both of these books are non-fiction and both are ***** Five out of Five Stars for being too real and too good to miss.  Both are also hard to read due to harsh content, but I think veteran accounts of war should be required reading, so that none of us ever forgets.  I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but if I’m going to read war stories, I usually read personal accounts, as there’s really no need to embellish that which was so life-changing.

I was interested in the HBO series Band of Brothers and watched it through its conclusion.  I was very impressed by the show.  When the announcement came out that the same group of producers were going to follow up the show with another series called The Pacific, I read where they were going to adapt a screenplay based on three memoirs.  I decided to read those three memoirs and refresh my memory of military history, and specifically learn more about the Pacific Theater.  If you are no fan of war stories, simply skip these, but if you are interested in how far a man can be pushed, whatever his motivation, these books make compelling reading.

First up, With The Old Breed, by E.B.Sledge.  “Eugene B. Sledge was part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division — 3d Battalion, 5th Marines.  Based on notes that Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and intense frankness the experience of a Marine in the fierce Pacific Theater.  Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life.  Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill — and later to love — his fellow man.”

Helmet for My Pillow, by Robert Leckie.  “Here is one of the most riveting first-person accounts ever to come out of World War II.  Robert Leckie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  In Helmet for My Pillow we follow his odyssey, from basic training on Parris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the raging battles in the Pacific, where some of the war’s fiercest fighting took place.  Recounting his service with the 1st Marine Division and the brutal action on Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu, Leckie spares no detail of the horrors and sacrifices of war, painting an unvarnished portrait of how real warriors are made, fight and often die in the defense of their country.  From the live-for-today rowdiness of marines on leave to the terrors of jungle warfare against an enemy determined to fight to the last man, Leckie describes what war is really like when victory can only be measured inch by bloody inch.  Woven throughout are Leckie’s hard-won, eloquent, and thoroughly unsentimental meditations on the meaning of war and why we fight.  Unparalleled in its immediacy and accuracy, Helmet for My Pillow will leave no reader untouched.  This is a book that brings you as close to the mud, the blood, and the experience of war as it is safe to come.”

March 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Before I Die

Before I Die, by Jenny Downham.  Talk about indulging my inner masochist.  Wow.  So along with Terms of Endearment, Atonement, Love Story and Titanic, I can add this story for those times when tensions run high and a real good cry could help to balance things out. 

Sad doesn’t describe it.  It’s sad from page one and doesn’t give you any illusions that anything miraculous is going to happen to make the sadness go away.  Strangely, and skillfully, the reader is filled with a kind of awe, expectation and joy.  It’s beautifully written, though I don’t know how she stood to write it.  I’ll bet she went through a ton of Kleenex.  I know I did, just in listening to it be read.

Here’s the blurb from the Indiana Digital Media site:  “It’s really going to happen. They said it would, but this is quicker than anyone thought. Everyone has to die. We all know it. With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most. She’s made a list, though—ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight. But getting what you want isn’t easy. And getting what you want doesn’t always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important. Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous—this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it’s really like to die.”

**** Four Stars but I will have to read the covers of Ms. Downham’s stories to be sure I don’t run into another one of these.  Sad is good, but should be measured out in modest portions.  I’m full up for a while.

Happy (well, you know what I mean) Reading!

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eragon

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini.  When I first found this book, years ago, I loved it.  It was hard to believe that Christopher Paolini was just fifteen when he wrote the first draft of Eragon, and sixteen when it was first published.  I’ve just listened to it read on audiobook and I’m still impressed.  It helps to know that he was a home-schooler kid and that his early reading list was a lot like mine.  I’m waiting impatiently for Book 4 now.

Here’s the blurb from the http://www.alagaesia.com website:  

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .”

**** Four Stars out of Five, even if it is a series book.  I have the second, Eldest, on a hold at the library now, and I’m looking forward to reading/listening to it again.

I’m finding that the person who reads the book aloud has a great deal to do with how good it comes off.  This one is read by Gerard Doyle, and I really hope he reads the rest of them too.  Great voices.

Happy Reading!

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Well, dang…

… it should be a Two-fer Tuesday, but it’s Wednesday.  Oh, well.  I finished the first one in the wee hours and started the second one when I got up this morning.  Here goes:

Dreams, by Barbara Delinsky is a compilation of three romance novels Ms. Delinsky wrote entitled The Dream, The Dream Unfolds, and The Dream Comes True.  I guess maybe this is a Four-Fer, LOL.  Okay, those few who read this blog know that I have an inordinate amount of investment in Barbara Delinsky’s works, and though these are older and more Harlequin-y, they’re still pretty good stories, if you have any taste for romance at all. 

Here’s the back of the cover:  “For five generations Crosslyn Rise has been the very heart of one of Massachusetts’s finest families.  But time and neglect have diminished the glory of the once-majestic estate.  Now three couples share a dream… a dream of restoring this home.  Jessica Crosslyn is prepared for the bittersweet challenge of savign her family home — but she isn’t prepared to share the project with Carter Malloy, a man she loathes.  Carter realizes that rebuilding the estate offers him more than just an exciting opportunity; it’s a chance to win Jessica’s forgiveness and make amends for the past.  Gideon Lowe has been hired to develop Crosslyn Rise into the most elegant condominium community on the Atlantic seaboard.  But he just can’t work with Christine Gillette, one of the country’s top interior designers.  They mix like oil and water, but good old-fashioned lust can turn even the worst adversaries into lovers.   Nina Stone, real estate agent, knows there’s no limit to what she can do for the secluded complex with her aggressive sales tactics.  No limit, that is, except one — John Sawyer.  An investor in Crosslyn Rise, John refuses to go along with Nina’s far-fetched ideas.  He’d rather convince her to share in his own.  Crosslyn Rise becomes their mutual passion.  And as they work to restore the house, that passion turns personal, making their own dreams come true…”

I’d give it two and half stars, but I don’t have a half star to put up, and it’s better than two plain stars, so I’m going to give it *** three stars out of five.  It’s readable, it’s got all the important bits of this kind of romance story, and it actually gets a little adventurous, since it lets an architect, a professor, a construction foreman and a designer and a real estate saleswoman and a bookseller be the main characters in the romance.  I have to tell you, and I’ve read a lot of them, that not too many regular people get to be in romances.  So three stars instead of two and I don’t regret it.

U is for Undertow, by Sue Grafton.  I will just say for the record that I have been reading Sue Grafton stories since she started writing them, and I will keep reading them, since I love a long series and I usually am very impressed with her ability to spin a tale.  I have to tell you that I kept getting distracted reading this story, by details related in the story, and it really annoyed me.  If you haven’t yet read this story and you don’t want spoilers, stop now.  I’m going to put a little space in and hope that it will keep you for accidentally seeing what I’m going to type about the story.  I don’ t usually reveal things (and actually nothing I’m going to say will give away anything in the story) but this might give details that you won’t want if you like to read without previews of coming attractions.

OK, the story is about a kidnapping that took place in 1967.  Ms. Grafton has put a few details into this story that don’t fit in the time frame.  I’m going to give you the slip jacket summary in another few lines, but I just want to protest Shawn being made to sleep on a futon, since no one in the U.S. slept on a futon and called it that, in 1967.  The other thing that gets me is the neighborhood where the kidnapping takes place.  In one place, she describes it as large multi-acre lots, secluded, private, ya-da ya-da, but you also get the impression that the houses are close enough together that you can see details from one lot to another, or even two lots over.  Come on, you cannot have it both ways.  Another thing is a leaf blower.  I never saw (or heard of) a leaf blower until I was a teenager, so though they might have had them, it rang false to me.  So, I’m annoyed.  I’ll get off my horse in a minute.  Here’s the blurb:

“It’s April 1988, a month before Kinsey Millhone’s thirty-eighth birthday, and she’s alone in her office catching up on paperwork when a young man arrives unannounced.   He has a preppy air about him and looks as if he’d be carded if he tried to buy a beer, but Michael Sutton is twenty-seven, an unemployed college dropout.  More than two decades ago, a four-year-old girl disappeared, and a recent newspaper story about her kidnapping has triggered a flood of memories.  Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial and could identify the killers if he saw them again.  He wants Kinsey’s help in locating the grave and finding the men.  It’s way more than a long shot, but he’s persistent and willing to pay cash up front.  Reluctantly, Kinsey agrees to give him one day of her time.  But it isn’t long before she discovers Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth.  In essence, he’s the boy who cried wolf.  Is his story true, or simply one more in a long line of fabrications?  Moving effortlessly between the 1980s and the 1960s, and changing points of view as Kinsey pursues witnesses whose accounts often clash, Grafton builds multiple subplots and creates memorable characters.  Gradually, we come to see how everything connects in this twisting, complex, surprise-filled thriller.  And as always, at the beating heart of her fiction is Kinsey Millhone, a sharp-tongued, observant loner who never forgets that under the thin veneer of civility is a roiling dark side to the soul.”

Whew.  That was a long one.  This is a good book, don’t get me wrong.  I’m giving it *** stars out of five and it goes in the keeper rack.  Of course, I do already have A through T so it would be a little stupid to toss it out for my perceived inconsistencies.  Hmmppfff.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, Book 1 by Rick Riordan, read by Jesse Bernstein.  This is another read inspired by the recent makeover into a movie.  In this case, I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the film, but the audiobook came open at Indiana Digital Media and I nabbed it.  Oh my.  Well, this is a middle grades book, which basically means that the main character is 12 years old.  Sometimes middle grades books involve younger or slightly older kids, and I don’t read a lot of them, since they’re often too young.  Since I write in the teenager realm, sometimes I get bored with middle grades fiction.  Not so with Percy Jackson and Company.  I am absolutely delighted.  In the way that Harry Potter is so good and so relatable (is that a word?) to read about as an eleven year old, all the way to his adult hood, I think Percy Jackson is just about as good.  Well, maybe that’s pushing it.  After all, I was completely in thrall of HP right off the bat, and to tell you the truth, I’m going to have to read or listen to at least one more Percy Jackson adventure before I can make any real kind of comparison.  Suffice it to say that I’ve really enjoyed the story, and since it concerns the gods of mythology, I feel like I’ve actually refreshed an academic study which I once really enjoyed studying.  It’s a good read.  If you have the capacity to read about remarkable kids, you’re going to like this story.

Here’s the blurb from IDM:  ”

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. But can he really be expected to stand by and watch while a bully picks on his scrawny best friend? Or not defend himself against his pre-algebra teacher when she turns into a monster and tries to kill him? Of course, no one believes Percy about the monster incident; he’s not even sure he believes himself.

Until the Minotaur chases him to summer camp.

Suddenly, mythical creatures seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. The gods of Mount Olympus, he’s coming to realize, are very much alive in the twenty-first century. And worse, he’s angered a few of them: Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy has just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property, and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. On a daring road trip from their summer camp in New York to the gates of the Underworld in Los Angeles, Percy and his friends – one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – will face a host of enemies determined to stop them. To succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of failure and betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.”

*** Three Stars out of Five, for the usual reasons when it’s a series I’ve just started.  I know there are a bunch of Percy Jacksons in my future.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to get to know him a little in this first story.

Happy Reading!

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment