Debh2010's Blog

Books and Knitting – go figure

Catching up

OK – so I am about 4 books behind, and I am pressed for time, but if I don’t get these typed up, I’m going to forget.  All this was brought about by the untimely demise of my long-suffering, much abused former computer.  She now sleeps with the fishes.  This new one is a Scratch N Dent from Dell and quite a nice little job.  I’m very impressed. 

Here’s what you missed and there will be very little reviewing and no synopsizing, but these things happen sometimes.

44 Cranberry Point, by Debbie Macomber – out of order, but I finally heard the audiobook last week and it filled in some gaps in the story that I had already figured out, but didn’t have the actual details on.  ***

The  Quinn Brothers, and The Quinn Legacy, all by Nora Roberts.  Each book is actually 2 books and they were all quite excellent.  Nora Roberts is something else.  ****

There is another one, but true to form, I cannot think what it was.  That’s one problem that comes with reading like I do.  Retention is an issue.

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

A Saturday Two-Fer

In the space of 12 hours, I’ve finished reading two books and now I’m depressed.  Not because the books weren’t good — on the contrary, they’re excellent, which is why I read them both at the speed of heat — but now, I am back to square one, trying to find something good to read.  I think I know what direction I’m going, but I’ll have to wait and see. 

8 Sandpiper Way, by Debbie Macomber is Book 8 in this series that keeps getting better and better.  I think I’m learning quite a bit from Ms. Macomber, but I’ll wait and see on that front too. 

Here’s the book blurb:  “Dear Reader,  I have something to confide in you.  I think my husband, Dave, might be having an affair.  I found and earring in his pocket, and it’s not mine.  I’m also worried because some jewelry was recently stolen from an old woman — and Dave used to visit her a lot.

You see, he’s a pastor.  And a good man.  I can’t believe he’s guilty of anything, but why won’t he tell me where he’s been when he comes home so late?

Reader, I’d love to hear what you think.  I also want to tell you what’s going on with your other friends in Cedar Cove.  Life Sheriff Troy Davis, to mention one.  His long-ago love,  Faith Beckwith,  just moved here!

So come on in and join me for a cup of tea.

Emily Flemming”

*** Three Stars out of Five. 

92 Pacific Boulevard, by Debbie Macomber is Book 10 in the series, and the last one available until September 2010!  Ack!  I really thought there were 17 Cedar Cove stories in print before I started reading them, and now I have to wait.  Whine, whine, whine…

Here’s the blurb:  “Dear Reader,  I’m not much of a letter writer.  As the sheriff here, I’m used to writing incident reports, not chatty letters.  But my daughter, Megan — who’ll be making me a grandfather soon — told me I had to do this.  So here goes.

I’ll tell you straight out that I’d hoped to marry Faith Beckwith (my onetime high school girlfriend) but she ended the relationship last month, even though we’re both widowed and available.  There were a few misunderstandings between us, some of them inadvertently caused by Megan.

However, I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied, like the unidentified remains found in a cave outside town.  And the fact that my friend Judge Olivia Griffin is fighting cancer.  And the break-ins at 204 Rosewood Lane — the house Faith happens to be renting from Grace Harding.

If you want to hear more,  come on over to my place or to the sheriff’s office — if you can stand the stale coffee!

Troy Davis”

*** Three Stars out of Five.  The only thing that I dread about this series is that if she never stops writing them (and that’s my current wish) eventually, some of my favorites are going to start to die.  The dog will die.  I hate that…

Oh, well.  Onward and upward.  This is a great series. 

Happy Reading!

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

74 Seaside Avenue

74 Seaside Avenue, by Debbie Macomber c0ntinues the Cedar Cove series.  I have to say that I’m envious.  Ms. Macomber really inspires me, but the sheer quantity of good, quality stories that she’s able to crank out really intimidates me too.  I know she didn’ t just burst out of the publishing gates fully formed, but I want what she does.  I’m not sure that makes any sense, but I’m feeling that very thing.  I want to do what she does.  In my own way, of course.  Come on Betsy Tanner – I need you.

OK, here’s the back of the book – I actually read this one, and I’m going to be reading the actual books for the next two as well.  I’ve managed to get a little out of order, but since each book has enough back story in the telling, you can get a little out of order and not lose the thread of the story in general.  ”  74 Seaside Avenue, Cedar Cove, Washington.

Dear Reader,

I’m living a life I couldn’t even have dreamed of a few years ago.  I’m married to Bobby Polgar now (you know, the famous chess champion who just happens to be the man I love!).  And we’ve got this beautiful house with a view of Puget Sound.

Lately something’s been worrying Bobby, though.  When I asked, he said he was “protecting his queen” — and I got the oddest feeling he wasn’t talking about chess but about me.  He wouldn’t say anything else.

Do you remember Get Nailed, the beauty salon in Cedar Cove?  I still work there.  I’ll tell you about my friend Rachel, who’s got two men interested in her (count ’em, two).  And I’ll let you in on what I’ve heard about Linnette McAfee, who left town when her love life fell apart.  (That kind of trouble I know all about.)  Come in soon for a manicure and a chat, okay?

Teri (Miller) Polgar”

*** Three Stars out of Five.  Continued storytelling exellence.

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brisingr

Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini, read by Gerard Doyle.  Excellent third installment of four in the Inheritance series.  I wanted it to be finished, but I understand why he took it to the fourth book.  He could have ended it, but it would have left too many things unfinished.  Here’s looking forward to the finale.  If you have not as yet read this series, I seriously encourage you to do so.  I have read them all in book form, and with this latest entry have now heard them all read by Gerard Doyle.  The audiobooks have been a marvelous thing.  Gerard Doyle is a talented individual to be able to bring so many diverse characters to life.

Here’s the blurb from the Indiana Digital Media site:  “OATHS SWORN . . . loyalties tested . . . forces collide.

Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still there is more at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved, Katrina, from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength—as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices— choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once-simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?”

*** Three stars out of five for series work, and if the final book is as good as the first three, I’m sure the summary review will increase the overall star total.

Happy Reading!

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Light a Penny Candle

Light a Penny Candle, by Maeve Binchy.  I first read Mrs. Binchy’s eloquent book about 25 years ago – had to think – how could it have been so long ago?  Anyway, I loved it.  I have been a devoted Maeve Binchy fan ever since and when I saw this one at the Indiana Digital Media site and it was available, I had to grab it.  I have always felt that I had a strong connection with Ireland, and every time I read a book by an Irish author, I feel like I need to go and see it for myself.  This book is wonderful, and since I cannot find my hard copy of it, I’ll have to add it to my list to take to the used book store on my next trip.

Here’s the back of the book from a photo on Amazon.com.  IDM didn’t have much of a story description and the reviews either didn’t tell enough, or gave it all away.  Here you go:  “As a child, Elizabeth White was sent from her war-torn London home to a safer life in the small Irish town of Kilgarret.  It was there, in the crowded, chaotic O’Connor household, that she met Aisling — who would become her very best friend, sharing her pet kitten and secretly teaching her the intricacies of Catholicism.  Aisling’s boldness brought Elizabeth out of her proper shell; later, her support carried Elizabeth through the painful end of her parents’ chilly marriage.  In return, Elizabeth’s friendship helped Aisling endure her own unsatisfying marriage to a raging alcholic.  Through the years, they always believed they could overcome any conflict, conquer any hardship.  They believed they could survive anything, as long as they had each other.  Now they’re about to find out if they were right….”

****Four Star.  It could have been a five star, but the ending comes off slightly underdone.  I’m not sure if this is one of her first published stories, but think it must be.  Her subsequent works have never made me think this, but it strikes me that she left off about 5 or 10 pages.  It doesn’t detract from the story; it’s just not as buttoned up as most of us would like.

Happy Reading!

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

True Blue

True Blue, by David Baldacci.  Good cop story.  I always consider a book about a woman by a man a particular challenge to see how much they get wrong.  Mr. Baldacci does a great job.  This is an entertaining, if occasionally messy, read.  I am not a big fan of violence, but since I am a fan of cop fiction, there usually is a required measure of mayhem and mess needed.

Here’s the blurb – it’s from the hard back flap:  “Mason “Mace” Perry was a firebrand cop on the D.C. police force until she was kidnapped and framed for a crime.  She lost everything — her badge, her career, her freedom — and spent two years in prison.  Now she’s back on the outside and focused on one mission:  to be a cop once more.  Her only shot to be  a true blue again is to solve a major case on her own, and prove she has the right to wear the uniform.  But even with her police chief sister on  her side, she has to work in the shadows:  A vindictive U.S. attorney is looking for any reason to send Mace back behind bars.  Then Roy Kingman enters her life.  Roy is a young lawyer who aided the poor until he took a high-paying job at a law firm in Washington.  Mace and Roy meet after he discovers the dead body of a female partner at the firm.  As they investigate the death, they start uncovering surprising secrets from both the private and public world of the nation’s capital.  Soon, what began as a fairly routine homicide takes a terrifying and unexpected turn — into something complex, diabolical, and possibly lethal.

Good character development, iffiness about the setting.  I’m not sure the main character would do some of the things she’s doing in the story, but I was able to suspend my disbelief in favor of enjoying the story.

*** Three stars out of five, as this is obviously the start of a series of sorts for Mr. Baldacci.  I hope to read the next installment.

Happy Reading!

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter Garden

Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah.  Kristin Hannah is one of my latest finds, though I’m sure she’s been at it for a while.  Winter Garden is a beautiful story of love and loss and love in spite of loss.  It made me laugh and cry and that’s one of the highest compliments I can pay a book.

Here’s the jacket blurb:  “Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be.  One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family business; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist.  But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged sisters will find themselves together again, standing alongside their disapproving mother, Anya, who even now offers no comfort to her daughters.  On his deathbed,  their father extracts a promise:  Anya will tell her daughters a story; it is one she began years ago and never finished.  This time she will tell it all the way to the end.  The tale their mother tells them is unlike anything they’ve heard before — a captivating, mysterious love story that spans more than sixty years and moves from frozen, war-torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska.  Nina’s obsession to uncover the truth will send them all on an unexpected journey into their mother’s past, where they will discover a secret so shocking, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.  Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Winter Garden is that rarest of novels — at once an epic love story and an intimate portrait of women poised at the crossroads of their lives.  Evocative, lyrically written, and ultimately uplifting, it will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned.”

I didn’t know that I am already interested in the time period for which most of this story is set, but I am, and it was with great interest, and sadness, that I read the account of another area that I didn’t know.  Sorry to be cryptic, but I have rules about revealing parts of the story that do not appear in the official blurbs.  Blurbs are given out free.

****Four Stars out of Five.  Excellent storytelling.  I feel like I know these women, and the men too for that matter.  Write on, Ms. Hannah, write on.

Happy Reading!

April 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Scarpetta Factor

The Scarpetta Factor, by Patricia Cornwell.  Well, hmm.  A few months ago, my friend Kim gave me a heads up that this episode of Kay Scarpetta’s adventures wasn’t up to the quality that we’d become accustomed to.  I agree, and I have some thoughts, but we’ll get to those after the blurb.  The flap blurb of a hard back book takes longer to type, so hang in there:

“For more than twenty years, the books of Patricia Cornwell  have provided the best in brilliant, groundbreaking, contemporary suspense.  Now the world’s number-one bestselling crime writer brings us the extraordinary new Kay Scarpetta novel. 

It is the week before Christmas.  A tanking economy has prompted Dr. Kay Scarpetta — despite her continuing work as the senior forensic analyst for CNN — to offer her services pro bono to New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.  In no time at all, her increased visibility seems to precipitate a string of unexpected and unsettling events.  She is asked live on the air about the sensational case of Hannah Starr, who has vanished and is presumed dead.  Moments later, during the same telecast she receives a startling call-in from a former psychiatric patient of Benton Wesley’s.  When she returns after the show to the apartment where she and Benton live, she finds an ominous package — possibly a bomb — waiting for her at the front desk.  Soon the apparent threat on Scarpetta’s life finds her embroiled in a surreal plot that includes a famous actor accused of an unthinkable sex crime and the disappearance of a beautiful millionairess with whom Lucy seems to have shared a secret past.  Scarpetta’s CNN producer wants her to launch a TV show called The Scarpetta Factor.  Given the bizarre events already in play, she fears that her growing fame will generate the illusion that she has a “special factor,” a mythical ability to solve all her cases.  She wonders if she will end up like other TV personalities:  her own stereotype. .

The Scarpetta Factor, the seventeenth Kay Scarpetta novel finds the much-loved cast of characters together again in New York.  Marino is working for the NYPD; Benton Wesley uses his forensic psychological expertise at Kirby and Bellevue; and Lucy continues to dazzle with her expertise in forensic computer investigations as she works another case with New York prosecutor Jaime Berger.

Throughout, Cornwell delivers shocking twists and turns, and the kind of cutting-edge technology that only she can.  Once again, she proves her exceptional ability to entertain and enthrall.”

I went and visited www.patriciacornwell.com yesterday, trying to get a little insight on what makes Patricia Cornwell tick.  It was fairly fruitless.

Here are some of my thoughts on this story:  a) she had to return to the Chandonne family story line or leave a gaping hole if she went to something else.  Fans would have noticed, and she either needed to do it now, or it would have had to hover over all of the characters until she re-visited it;   b)  I do not like Jaime and Lucy’s relationship – they have little or nothing in common and I don’t see it lasting much longer;  c) Kay, Benton and Marino are all so scarred and psychologically damaged from events in the near and recent past that pretty soon they’re going to stop functioning altogether.  It’s getting a little tiresome having to wade through all of their baggage to get to the story.  That’s my opinion, but that’s what this blog is all about; d) I am not as fond of Kay Scarpetta, media consultant and otherwise lofty bigwig as I was of the in-the-trenches medical examiner, up to her armpits in dead bodies, figuring things out on a much more elemental level; e) all the cutting edge technology is interesting, but I sometimes think Ms. Cornwell uses it like a crutch to fill space when the story has gaps; f) they all need a good episode for a change – everyone needs a healthy relationship, good sex and a relaxing vacation – they’ve been in the depths of depression and despair for too long and it’s dragging the series down; g) I like Lucy better when she’s all Rambo’d out and kicking ass and taking names.  If all Lucy has to do is work her magic at a computer console, she might as well be one of the lab techs and phone it in – oh wait – that’s pretty much what she did in this book; and finally h) It is the week before Christmas, and for the amount of activity that goes on, and the fact that Kay spends the last two days of it cooking, it seriously doesn’t feel like it all could have happened in five days.  Usually the timeline doesn’t factor in, but for some reason it really stuck out to me.

Anyway, this is a long series – seventeen now – and I’m not sure how many more Ms. Cornwell will successfully pump out.  She’s getting older, right along with her characters, and if she doesn’t inject them all with some life pretty soon, it’s going to all go down in flames.

*** Three stars out of five, and I feel like that’s being generous.  It’s not that this was such a bad story, but it felt like we’d been there and done that.  I really hope she can pull it together better for the next one.  I like these people and I want to see what else they can do.

Sigh.  Read it if you like the Scarpetta stories, but don’t get your hopes up too high.

My apologies to Ms. Cornwell.  I really am a fan.  Here’s wishing you all the best in your future endeavors, and in the life of Kay Scarpetta and Company.

April 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Arctic Incident

The Arctic Incident, Artemis Fowl Series, Book 2, by Eoin Colfer, read by Nathaniel Parker.  I am so enjoying these stories.  This is another middle grades offering, though he’s almost made it to young adult in this one, and I’m not sure I’d recommend these to age-appropriate readers anyway.  The subject matter can be a little heavy for some kids, I’d imagine.  I do think that the next boy-hero that should be taken to the screen is Artemis Fowl Junior, but the fact that he’s a criminal and sometimes violent is probably holding Hollywood back.  I don’t care, they’re great reads.

Here’s the blurb from the Indiana Digital Media site:  “Artemis is at boarding school in Ireland when he receives an urgent e-mail from Russia. In it is a plea from a man who has been kidnapped by the Russian Mafia: his father. As Artemis rushes to his rescue, he is stopped by a familiar nemesis, Captain Holly Short of the LEP recon fairy police. But this time, instead of battling the fairies, he is going to have to join forces with them if he wants to save one of the few people in the world he loves.”

I am genuinely enjoying this series, and I have to say that I didn’t expect to.  It’s smart and witty, and Artemis Fowl is great on paper.  I think in real life you’d love him, but he’d drive you crazy.  *** Three stars for series work, out of five.  I’ve decided that I’m going to re-evaluate the whole series once completed and adjust the star ratings for overall.  That sounds more fair to me.

If you like fantastical adventures of young men (think Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the guys from the Narnia stories, etc.) you should pick up the first book in this series.  It’s good reading.

Happy Reading everybody!

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Titan’s Curse

The Titan’s Curse, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3, by Rick Riordan, read by Jesse Bernstein.  For some reason, this episode of Percy & Co. didn’t hold my interest as well as the first two.  Maybe it was just a mood.  Anyway, I am still looking forward to the next book. 

Here’s the blurb from Indiana Digital Media:  “When the goddess Artemis goes missing, she is believed to have been kidnapped. And now it’s up to Percy and his friends to find out what happened. They must find Artemis before the winter solstice, when her influence on the Olympian Council could swing an important vote on the war with the titans. Not only that, but first Percy will have to solve the mystery of a rare monster that Artemis was hunting when she disappeared—a monster rumored to be so powerful it could destroy Olympus forever.”

*** Three Stars out of Five and I’ve no interest in waxing philosophical on it.  When you’re reading a series, there will be clunkers.

April 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment