Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, Fresh Start

Reading is a very personal thing on many levels. But it is also something that can be easy to share and discuss. Life often contributes to changes in our reading styles and patterns. Life has definitely been driving my reading life and especially my posting life. I am taking control of these areas again and moving forward.

So here we are at the beginning of another year. I hope to revive my blog and revive my life. It has been a tough few years. It was going well here at the book nook and then a close friend died suddenly. It threw me into a tailspin. We moved a few months later and then a year almost to the day we moved again. I went back to teaching last year and well my life is consumed when I teach. This year has brought changes to that. I am not teaching but reentering the business world. This means I can spend time on personal reading and writing. Also, we are entering the third year of Savannah life. It is good to be a little more settled. I have missed that feeling.

This past fall we lost Mom. I am still working on that. The holidays were good but a little sad. I think that is to be expected. As another year begins, I do not really do New Year Resolutions, I do believe that we can try New Year goals. I am going to try to be more focused and committed to my reading and my life. I continued to read through all of the above events but my reading changed several times. I did a lot less of the Arc's and more of escape reading.

This year I am part of a Classic Reading Challenge 2014 group on facebook. This is exciting for me as I love the classics and like to share this. I am finally settling in with War and Peace by Tolstoy. I am about 400 pages into the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo but put it down for the holiday season. Revenge just doesn't work with Christmas. I am reading both of those in physical book format. I am reading Dr. Zhivago in ebook format. That is the beginning of my classic work. I am thinking I will finish Volume II (Book II) of Don Quixote this spring as well. Thinking of reading another Dickens this year and of course we will have to go with Faulkner this summer. This all may change as I continue to develop my classic reading plan.

I have the new Stephanie Plum book, Takedown Twenty. I am excited about reading that but am waiting for my sister to be ready so we can read it together and discuss. Anna got me started on this series. I love it. Fun, light hearted, and set in the area where I used to work. Speaking of series, I think I want to read the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. If you have read these please let me know what you think. I am also reading Agatha Christie in order of publication. I started this last year. My Grandma Durkee introduced me to Agatha as a young girl. I have been a fan ever since. I love mysteries. If you have some series you love or are interested in exploring let me know and we will jump in.

I am looking at some new material as we move forward. I will pick up some Arc's again and will keep you informed. I am looking to find some new text this year. So let us begin.....

As you can see this blog is evolving a little. I hope you stick around for a while and forgive my meandering past. Love to you all. I wish you happy reading.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review: Gone by Cathi Hanauer

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451626414
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 368

Meet the Author

Cathi Hanauer
Cathi Hanauer is the author of the novels My Sister's Bones and Sweet Ruin and the editor of the New York Times bestselling essay anthology The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage. Her articles, essays, and/or criticism have appeared in The New York Times, Elle, O, Glamour, Self, Parenting, Whole Living, and other magazines. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts. Visit her website at


For the past fourteen years, Eve Adams has worked part-time while raising her two children and emotionally supporting her sculptor husband, Eric, through his early fame and success. Now, at forty-two, she suddenly finds herself with a growing career of her own—a private nutritionist practice and a book deal—even as Eric’s career sinks deeper into the slump it slipped into a few years ago.
After a dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate Eve’s success, Eric drives the babysitter home and, simply, doesn’t come back. Eve must now shift the family in possibly irreparable ways, forcing her to realize that competence in one area of life doesn’t always keep things from unraveling in another.
Gone is an outstanding novel about change and about redefining, in middle age, everything from one’s marriage to one’s career to one’s role as a best friend, parent, and spouse. It is a novel about passion and forgiveness and knowing when to let something go and when to fight to hold on to it, about learning to say goodbye—but, if you’re lucky, not forever.


 While the story plot is not all that unusual; a husband running away from his family; the reactions of the family members in this story are different than one would expect. Eve seems to move through the desertion as if she is not really connected to the events. This at first glance can seem quite unbelievable but then again how can we be sure how we would react to the situation. At times I kept wanting to push her into action, to express more emotion, to react in a more expected manner. She seemed much too passive under the circumstances:
a missing husband, the bank account growing smaller, a fourteen year old daughter who is difficult, and a young son who is struggling to understand what is happening. Eve is a likeable person but seems to be the type of person who needs to control her actions and emotions, she finds it difficult to express her own anger and sorrow.
The father, Eric, was surprisingly likeable. The story of his flight from home, his struggle to understand himself what was going on and why he needed to be away from his family was moving. Sympathy for the person responsible for the agony of this family was quite unexpected. 
The story is well written and takes a different path to explore an all too typical event in this day and age. Hanauer dares to examine atypical reactions and emotions in a very dynamic situation. The book was enjoyable, unusual, and lends itself well to group discussions.
I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to book clubs as it has the possibility to stimulate discussion.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review: Sequela by MP Kollman

Product Details
·  Paperback: 306 pages
·  Publisher: Outskirts Press (May 8, 2012)
·  Language: English
·  ISBN-10: 1432791737
·  ISBN-13: 978-1432791735

Jerome Grayson is dead; Wade Addams arrested; Jane Doe identified; Jackson Nolan committed suicide, evidently to avoid the humiliation of a trial. The entire case has been neatly wrapped up. Or so it would seem. That case also brought Grayson back to a house he felt certain he would never be welcome in again. He had been banished from this home ten years ago for being silently complicit in the drug use of his brother, Jerome; and now, for being the instrument of Jerome's death. But understanding Jerome had chosen his own fate, his parents welcomed him back. And so, Destiny has brought him together with Samantha Greene, but will she now rip them apart as seemingly unrelated events occur to the residents of Jaspar? For Steven Nolan has also come to Jaspar: His father's suicide, Jerome's death and the similarities to his own brother's suicide twelve years earlier, drive him to take up arms against Jaspar.

Video Link:

About the author:
For MP Kollman, pages are like a blank canvas on which to wield an artistic brush and enrapture the mind with the written craft. The author's talent has been heralded by many and is matched only by an imagination that rises to the task at hand. Sequela is the second in a series of recent pursuits and work is progressing quickly on a follow-up.

Sequela is the second book in a series so you come into the story in media res. You can read it as a stand-alone book but there is a twist at the end that is meant to draw you to the next book. The characters are likeable if a little archetypical.  Sandy Grayson is pitted against Steven Nolan. Both are one part of a pair of twin brothers in which the other twin has died. Jerome Grayson had died recently while Alan Nolan had died about 12 years in the past. Both men come from well to do families who have strong father figures. Both Emery Grayson and Jackson Nolan care about their sons but the similarity ends there.  While Sandy Grayson is restoring the lost relationship with his father, Steven is mourning the loss of his. The question is will both young men survive the fallout? Then of course there is Samantha Greene a young woman caught in the middle, both men have plans for her. She is recovering from trauma herself. She now stands in between Sandy and Steven. 

 Sequela has the typical elements of mysteries regarding plot but with a new twist. Two sets of twins with remarkably similar relationships but very different families. The parallels and disparities in these two men and their families is an interesting perspective. And of course there is the idea behind the title: sequela meaning a morbid condition following or occurring as a consequence of another condition or event. Obviously the events in this book are simulated by prior events. Will the next book follow suit?

The shortcomings of the novel are always the most difficult to comment upon. In the beginning I found the story a little difficult to get into due to the choppiness of the sifting time periods. This caused me to keep pushing reading the book back a little. To be fair I was in the midst of planning a trip to Greenville, SC for a book sale thus the delay was not necessarily the fault of the book itself. 

There were a few grammatical or typo errors that always cause me to stumble but surprisingly this book was not replete with them. I absolutely will put down a book that is so obfuscated with grammatical errors and typos that it is distracting. There was a sentence later in the story which had to be a typo because it made absolutely no sense. “My car is strange. Sam’s still alive…..” pg. 217. But that was the only completely disrupting sentence in the book. 

 The author has a very creative mind which is both a plus and a minus. The plus side is that you have some interesting new takes in the plot. The minus side means that a couple of times during the reading I got a little lost because there seemed to be a jump that I missed. I was able to figure it out and move on with only a small delay. While this did detract from the smoothness of the reading it did not make me want to put the book away completely. Also, I thought that at least one of the subplots-Sandy’s business in San Francisco was wrapped up to quickly without satisfactory detail. That having been said overall I enjoyed the book. MP Kollman is talented and has potential.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Coming Soon

Now that I am settling in from this last move it is time to get back and get active. My apologies to my followers.

Coming soon will be reviews on the new batch received this month. My weekend should be busy. While I have been in the process of a second month in two years I have not completely abandoned reading. That would never happen.

With this move I finally got to locate my boxes of books and begin unpacking them. Coming across my copy of The Passage by Justin Cronin I decided it was time to dive in. The sequel The Twelve will be coming out next month. I was not disappointed. I will post a full review closer to the release date of the second book in the trilogy.

Also, I attended "The Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale" in Greenville, South Carolina. My sister has been trying to get me there for years. Now that I am down South again I made sure that was scheduled. Had a great time and got some great books. I will post a picture and list later on.

Last year I attended the Baltimore Book Festival and had a great time. I met Laura Lippman and got some great pics. I will share some a little later this week. I am really sorry I will be missing it this year. If you are in the area please check it out-

This past February I got down to the Savannah Book Festival for one of the evenings. I plan to get there earlier this next February and really get the feel for it. February in Savannah this year was nice and warm. The squares are lovely places to hold events.

I have been reading Devices and Desires by P.D. James. Nothing like sitting on the porch with a cup of English Breakfast Tea and a good book.

It is so nice to have a porch again complete with old wicker rocking chairs, and a great view, screened in as well. This week we have been blessed with lower humidity so porch sitting has been great.

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend. I will be back with a post soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As I Lay Dying- William Faulkner

Faulkner's style is perfection itself. In As I Lay Dying Faulkner extended the experimentation with narrative that he started in the Sound and the Fury. With 59 segments and 15 narrative voices, As I Lay Dying is complex and compelling.

The story begins with an illness that leads to death, followed by the experiences of the family immediately following the death. Their incites, often differing, keep the story moving forward but with a unique quality. This is life-simplicity overlayed with complexity.

As I Lay Dying is poetic. I couldn't put the book down and finished in one day and an evening. Faulkner never disappoints me. If you have not sampled Faulkner, this is a most! Absolutely on my favorites list and will be read many times.

5 stars!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Soft Southern Dreams

I have been haunted lately by dreams of warm, honeyed southern nights, and there were some, I remember them. I remember sitting out on a lounge chair in the front yard, sipping tea, listening to the cicadas. I remember gentle breezes and the bubble of the creek down the hill.

I have exiled myself from the deep south for more than half my life but it colors every inch of my life. One never truly escapes the south, not that I wanted to escape it. I just couldn't seem to find space for me there. I wasn't the pretty one, that was my older sister, I wasn't the smart one, that was my younger sister. I guess I never really had definition. I kept my soul to myself.

The south comes back to me in dreams-the graceful old house with the long front porch, two to three stories, and an enclosed porch on the back. Old comfy furniture, and plenty of books. This is often accompanied by the elderly lady wearing her old mink stole. We sip tea and talk about the past. She is obviously a cross between my mamaw and my Grandma Durkee. The two women I admire most. They were very different but equally graceful.

Last night I dreamed I was living in that house. The elderly lady owned it of course, and helped me find a beautiful, quaint building in which to open my bookstore. My dream life. The one I never had. I often think about living that life through writing the story.

All of this has gotten me in the mood for a deep, soft, southern story. I am heading off today to The Book Escape on Light Street in Baltimore to find one. Mine are still packed in boxes for the most part, either at the storage facility or still in the house in New Jersey. I have read many books since moving back to Baltimore and will be writing you about them soon. But today the south is calling me. "Carolina on my mind"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Musings: Books and things

This beautiful site is one of the many views that make my transition back to Baltimore and city living so wonderful. I love taking walks around the harbor and to the top of Federal Hill and just enjoying being outdoors in the city. So much has changed in the past year.

On April 30th last year I lost a very good friend. It was so unexpected and took the wind out of my sails. This year I look back on our time together and remember him with so much love. Brian was a beautiful soul and he is blessed to be with God. I will always miss him. Much love is to my dear friend Leigh and the boys!

Shortly after this there were changes in my husband's job that forced us to look at even  more change. We began the long process of looking for new opportunities and facing the reality of new beginnings.
Of course our beautiful daughter gave us a beautiful gift that helped to balance out the dryness of summer last year.

Our youngest son moved on campus, our oldest son left for Marine boot camp, our daughter and her husband moved into their own home and promptly gave us our baby girl. So much change! All of this was followed by our move to Baltimore. Can you say big year?!

Now here we are a year later and we are finally beginning to settle into our new life. God has been good through all of this. I am going to start a new job next week-not teaching. The atmosphere for education has become so dismal in the US that being a teacher is well less than great. So I am moving on reluctantly. The new job is exciting and very different. I am looking forward to getting back to work.

Through all of this change I have continued to read but not really updated my blog. Sorry. I can only say that I was overwhelmed with everything going on. I have listed a few of the books I have been reading and posted a few reviews. Today I want to share some of the great reads that have seen me through the turmoil of last year.

During the summer I sat on my deck and contemplated life a great deal while delving into the works of Proust. It was comforting and distracting to imagine a quiet life in the Provence of France. I can only describe the work as Beautiful! Slow moving and gentle.

Kate Carlisle
Then I breezed through a stack of cozy mysteries for the fall. They were light and fun, easy to get in and out of while making heavy decisions about our move and packing. Kate Carlisle blessed me with an advanced copy of her fall release, as did Laura Childs. They were wonderful works. Love cozy mysteries.


  When I arrived in Baltimore early this year I began to pull some of the ARC's that I had not gotten to yet and work through those. Andrew Taylor's wonderful book The Anatomy of Ghosts, Queen of Your Life, and others. I read and posted the review for Bruno, Chief of Police. Good times!

I had a Laura Lippman book that I had bought ages ago sitting on my TBR stack that I finally pulled off the shelf. What the Dead Know, set in Baltimore, was a great introduction back to charm city. I had such fun keeping up with the setting. I had eaten several times at the Bel Loc Diner during our visits to Baltimore while looking for a place to live, so it was a delight when the detective went for breakfast there early in the book. This was a delightful book that made me enamored with Laura Lippman. I recently bid on a package of 10 signed copies of her newest book that included a visit to your local book club meeting. I didn't win sorry to say but I am still enjoying her books. I began reading from the beginning her Tess Monaghan series. I am on Number 7 in the series now.

And yes I finally found a book club! It is a wine and book club which is perfect for me. The first meeting I attended we read and discussed Room by Emma Donoghue. Great book, quick read, only 210 pages. I read it on my Nook. I missed the May meeting where James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia was discussed. I read the book but am not generally drawn to the film noir novels. Next up for our club is a favorite Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. It will be great to not only discuss the book but how the movie, one of my favorites, differs from the book. I love the variety of reads that are picked and discussed. It keeps you from getting stuck in one direction and missing so many other great books.

And the big accomplishment, I finished the first volume or Part One of Don Quixote. I will be starting the second part soon. The book is a slow start, even with the windmill incident, but I am glad I kept going. It is a magnificent book. I can certainly see where Shakespeare was intrigued. Love the book.

I am still working on my summer reading list. How about you? What are you planning to read this summer? I have added Mildred Pierce by James Cain. So many options!