Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Publication: Little Brown
Publication Date: 10/21/2008
324 pages paperback

Jacket Synopsis:
At an exclusive New England Boarding School, a sex scandal unleashes a storm of shame and recrimination.

The men, women, and teenagers affected--among them the headmaster, struggling to contain the incident before it destroys the school; a popular student-athlete, grappling with the consequences of his mistakes; the boys mother, confronting her own forbidden temptations; and a troubled teenage girl eager to put the past behind her--speak out to relate the events of one fateful night and its aftermath.

Enter a world upended by the repercussions of a single impulsive action.....


Shreve is very good at tearing the cover off of our hidden emotions and presumptions, making us question our judgments. This was a difficult book at times and very emotional. Working with teenagers is stressful, and precarious at times, but also a delight. As I was reading this book I kept thinking about how it speaks to the fact that most teenagers (and often adults) don't realize the significance of one little act on their lives.

In this story many lives are changed forever by one impulsive act-lives lost, dreams shattered, and innocence lost. Wouldn't it be worth it to examine this idea and maybe create some understanding that even though choices were made, everyone was a victim as well as a perpetrator? Shreve makes it very clear that there are no easy answers-and maybe that it is almost entirely impossible to examine every issue that this situation uncovered.

Recently, I came across another review where Shreve was criticized for not developing a storyline that examined the young girl's underlying issues that help lead her to act out. Shreve does not make judgment statements in her work, the book shares the perspective from several of the characters involved and opens the door into the way they have personally handled the situation, and the tragedy that ensues.

The stream of consciousness flow of some of the characters made this a little bit tougher to get into at the beginning, especially that of the young girl, Sienna. But once the story got underway it was hard to put the book down. Shreve slowly led you into an understanding of who would die, and why, so that it was not a surprise. There was only one piece of information she held until the last, with few hints. Who held the camera?

Shreve's writing is terrific as usual, her characterization is believable and well done, the story is gripping, and well you definitely walk away with much to think about. I have not always been drawn into Anita Shreve's books, but when I am I find that I really enjoy it and love the questions that she leaves me with. Reading a book that makes me question some of my own presumptions is one of my favorite past times.

This is a terrific book for book clubs. So much to talk about, so much to examine. Enjoy!

I am offering one copy of Testimony by Anita Shreve. To win please leave a comment below with an email account where I can contact you. You may substitute (at) and (dot) for actual symbols. One winner will be chosen at random.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: The Lies That Bind by Kate Carlisle

The Lies That Bind by Kate Carlisle

Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Pages: 304
Publishers: Obsidian Mystery

A Bibliophile Mystery

Jacket Synopsis:
One bookbinder. One bully. One beau. Looks like someone has got to go.....
When it comes to rare books and antiquities, Brooklyn Wainwright is a master. That's why she has returned to San Francisco to teach a bookbinding class at Bay Area Book Arts. Unfortunately, BABA director Layla Fontaine is a horrendous host who pitches fits and lords it over her subordinates. With the help of her beau, Derek Stone, Brooklyn manages to put on a brave face and endure.

But someone else is not so forgiving. Layla is found dead from a gunshot wound, and Brooklyn is bound and determined to investigate. But when Layla's past ends up intertwined with Derek's, Brooklyn realizes that the case is much more personal than she thought--and the killer might want to close the book on her for good.

I enjoy Cozy Mysteries, especially during the fall when I can curl up with a cup of hot tea, a blanket and a book. They are just plain fun.

Kate Carlisle has captured my interest with this series. I love a smart heroine. Brooklyn is smart, a little loopy at times, but fun. Although I don't really connect with the new age, guru background of her family and friends, I do find it entertaining. Brooklyn is just the right blend of likable and quirky. She stumbles into murders, worries over her karma with dead bodies, but enjoys the pursuit of the villain. Perfect match for a cozy mystery. Of course she is one lucky lady--two gorgeous men to consider. A bad boy handsome type beside a smooth, English, ex secret agent type. Yummy. Enter fun.

Carlisle includes enough details of the bookbinding process that I am intrigued. I have begun to look into taking a bookbinding class. Of course I am one of those people that can get lost in the smell of books. Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!

I read Jane Eyre every couple of years, not for the plot, but for the language. I love words. Bronte is one of those authors who draw me in with their proficiency in language. I love a book with great vocabulary-used correctly of course. Also grammar is important. Carlisle has a good handle on vocabulary. Her writing style is smart, and fluent. Perhaps this is why she is one of my favorite cozy mystery writers.

For all of the cozy mystery fans out there this series is definitely one you need to check out. It is fun, smart, and well written. Curl up and read away!

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A book meme by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.

It has been a while since I last posted this. Life interrupts.
Last week I was reading:

1. Fiber & Brimstone by Laura Child
2.Once Wicked Always Dead by T. Marie Benchley
3. everything lovely, effortless, safe by jenny hollwell

This week I am reading:
1. The Lie That Binds by Kate Carlisle
2. The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell
3. Testimony by Anita Shreve

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In My Mailbox

This weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what others are reading.

My summer kind of fell a part on me and it has been a very long time since I participated. I have received many books since then but I will stick to some of the more recent.

I received Testimony by Anita Shreve courtesy of Hachette Books

Pub. Date: October 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Synopsis (B&N):
At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape.

A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

From Librarything Earlier Reviewers I have received the following
The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell

Paperback 200 pp
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Publication Date: October 2010

Synopsis (LT):
The Dissemblers is the story of a woman searching for greatness and beauty, only to find that neither greatness nor beauty are exactly what she thought. Ivy Wilkes always assumed she would achieve greatness as a painter. She moves to Santa Fe in search of the light and landscape that inspired her idol, Georgia O’Keeffe. At first, Ivy embraces life in the artsy desert town, working in the O’Keeffe museum by day and spending her evenings with Omar, the seductive cousin of her upstairs neighbors. But when Ivy’s own painting stagnates, she finds herself paralyzed by the fear that she will never paint anything of worth. Unable to create anything original, she begins imitating Georgia O’Keeffe’s work and is enticed by an offer to create O’Keeffe forgeries to sell on the black market. The paintings sell, but Ivy’s secrets isolate her from those she loves, who have secrets of their own. When a mysterious man appears at the museum, asking questions about O’Keeffe forgeries, Ivy’s bonds of love and friendship are tested. In her struggle to find her own artistic voice, she navigates the space between pride and guilt, love and selfishness, with devastating consequences. Rendered in concentrated prose, The Dissemblers explores themes of isolation and misunderstanding. The emotions are subtle, and the characters continually thwart their own best intentions while harboring mutually exclusive desires.


The Mistress of Abha by William Newton

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
(August 31, 2010)

The year is 1930 and the British are in Arabia. Ivor Willoughby, a young orientalist, embarks on an ambitious quest to find his father, an officer abroad with the British Army. In all Ivor's life, Robert has returned to England only once, bedraggled and wild-eyed with tales of As'ir, a land of sheikhs and white-turbaned bandits, where he is fighting alongside Captain Lawrence and is known by the name Ullobi.

After that single meeting, Robert is never heard from again. Ten years on, Ivor must find out what became of him. So he sets out on the journey of a lifetime. Traveling to Cairo to join the Locust Bureau, then circuitously to Abha, Yemen, and along the Red Sea coast, Ivor searches everywhere for clues about Ullobi, but no one appears to remember him. Or perhaps they are afraid to admit to it. Along the way Ivor hears whispers of a woman warrior called Na'ema who was once a slave. Her story seems tantalizingly connected with his father's, and Ivor finds himself in the misty heights of Ayinah looking for an Abyssinian seer who was carried on the same slave ship as Na'ema in 1914 and might unlock the mystery.

I purchased the following books:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Pub. Date: July 2009
Paperback: 384pp
Publisher: MIRA

Synopsis (B&N):
It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.

Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Pub. Date: January 2010
Hardcover: 351pp
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Synopsis (B&N):
 Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Pub. Date: October 2010
Hardcover: 274pp
Publisher: William Morrow

Synopsis (B&N):
A powerful and resonant novel from Tom Franklin—critically acclaimed author of Smonk and Hell at the Breech—Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the riveting story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. An extraordinary novel that seamlessly blends elements of crime and Southern literary fiction, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a must for readers of Larry Brown, Pete Dexter, Ron Rash, and Dennis Lehane.

and Freedom A Novel by Jonathan Franzen

Pub. Date: September 2010
Hardcover: 562pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Synopsis (MacMillan):
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.

But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: everything lovely, effortless, safe by Jenny Hollowell

everything lovely, effortless, safe by jenny hollowell

Publisher: Holt Publishing
Publication Date: June 2010
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9119-9

A young woman caught at the turning point between success and failure hopes fame and fortune will finally let her leave her old life—and her old self—behind

Birdie Baker has always dreamed of becoming someone else. At twenty-two, she sets off to do just that. Walking out on her pastor husband and deeply evangelical parents, she leaves behind her small-town, small-time life and gets on a bus to Los Angeles.

Nine years later, Birdie's life in Hollywood is far from golden, and nothing in the intervening years—the brutal auditions, the tawdry commercials—has brought her any closer to the transformation she craves. Caught between success and failure, haunted by guilt about a tragedy in her long-forsaken family, Birdie is at the brink of collapse when she meets Lewis, a beautiful but naive young actor with his own troubled history, whose self-destructive impulses run dangerously parallel to her own.

When her big chance finally comes, Birdie must reconcile the wide-eyed girl she once was with the jaded starlet she has become and try to find herself and her future somewhere in between. Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe is the story of a young woman's struggle to make her own way in the Technicolor land of make-believe.

My Review:
I was unsure at the beginning that I would enjoy this book. The description just didn't grab me so I put it off on the back burner. But finally guilt got the best of me and I decided to jump right in to the book. Good decision on my part.

The pace is slow and you are treated to morsels of information as you move along. Jenny Hollowell has great literary talent. The book is well written and touching. There is no rush to get through this novel. It is a book that is written to be drawn in sentence by sentence, word by word, to experience the emotions and feelings and desires that each carefully chosen piece evokes.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. Definitely a book that should be added to your TBR list if you haven't gotten to it yet.

This ARC was provided by Henry Holt & Co. for an honest review.

Review: Once Wicked Always Dead by T. Marie Benchley

Once Wicked Always Dead by T. Marie Benchley

Publisher: MMWE Publishing House
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Hardcover: 296 pages
ISBN: 978-0984478705
What happens when a family's darkest secrets put lives in jeopardy? How far would you go for love?

A sharp mystery that swirls with family secrets, betrayal, love and loss, Once Wicked Always Dead is a strong debut from an author with literary blood in her veins.

The story begins with Molly Madison unaware of the Sociopath who is on the loose, creating havoc with a sense of their own justice. Her life is shattered by the sudden death of her beloved parents and the revelation of her husband Phillip's affair - with another man - Molly leaves the life of country clubs and the luxury of city life in Florida and heads west to Montana, resolved to run the family ranch, and to move on with her life. Her attraction to Clayton Leatherbe, the ranch foreman, is instant, but before a romance can blossom, the ranch falls prey to sabotage by wealthy land developers determined to drive Molly out, and Clayton learns of a family secret and collides with the Sociopath that could put the ranch - and Molly's life - in jeopardy.

My Review:

I would classify this as a romance thriller. The premise was good. I enjoyed the book as I began to read, it was interesting and moved at a steady pace. Since romance is not a genre that I particularly enjoy I struggled a little when the romance picked up in the story. I was uncomfortable with the gratuitous sex scenes-just not my thing. As I said romance books are not my thing but I found plenty of other points to like about the book. It was fluent, fast-paced and entertaining. Although I did not have a hard time figuring out who the murderer was, the twist at the end made it a little more interesting. Benchley is a skilled writer and can hold your interest. I appreciate a book that is not filled with grammatical errors and has a decent vocabulary.

If you are a romance/romance thriller fan you would really enjoy the book. There is a good back story to the romance and it moves well. I was entertained and it held my interest. T. Marie is a member of the Benchley family that includes Peter Benchley of Jaws fame and American Humorist Robert Benchley.

The ARC was provided by Newman Press for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review: Fiber & Brimstone

Fiber & Brimstone by Laura Childs (A Scrapbooking Mystery)

Publication Date: 10/5/2010
Pages: 336
Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover
Penguin Group

Halloween always draws out the ghosts and goblins in us all. New Orleans the perfect setting for the ghouls and vampires that are walking around these days, but when real corpses start making an appearance things get really scary. Carmela Bertrand and her best friend Ava Gruiex are immersed in building a monster puppet for the Monsters and Mayhem Torchlight Parade when they stumble upon the body of Brett Fowler.

Carmela's good friend Jekyl finds himself embroiled in the center of the investigation since he was heard arguing with Brett shortly before Brett's body was discovered. Having known Jekyl for years, Carmela is convinced that someone is framing him. While Brett owed Jekyl money, he owed money to many people after being indicted for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme. With so many suspects can Carmela discover the real murderer and clear Jekyl?

I love the Big Easy and the flavor but I wasn't comfortable right away with the vernacular. I adjusted rather quickly and became immersed in the story. Being a southerner myself, and one who lived for a time in the deep south I can be a little picky over the way southerners are portrayed in books. Laura Childs did this well. The story is fun and perfect for a cozy Halloween. And I must admit-for a change-it took me a while to even guess who the murderer could be.

This is the first of Laura Childs cozy mysteries that I have read but I am sure it will not be the last. Carmela is a fun, stable character while her friends Ava provides the quirkiness. Halloween is the perfect setting for a mystery. And what better place than New Orleans! In addition to the mystery the book also includes some scrapping tips as well as a few recipes. I tried one of the recipes and it was delicious: Carmela's Cajun Shrimp Bake.

If you like cozy mysteries this one will be a delight. Grab a bottle of wine, fix a plate of Shrimp, and enjoy the story.

This ARC was received from the author for an honest review.

Musings in October

I may have lost a few of my friends here with my suddenly quiet blog. Major changes tend to grab us and have the power to overwhelm us. That has been the case with me at least. A little over a year ago my teaching job was eliminated-due to the current economy I have not found a replacement position. My husband may be on the verge of changing jobs-meaning a move is probably on the horizon. A dear friend died very unexpectedly, my children moved out and moved on, and I became a grandparent.

So many changes! At times I have struggled with finding my way back into the world. I love books, have always loved books, and enjoy the shared experience of discussion and exchange about books. It is one of the primary reasons that I became a teacher-to share the joy that books can give-to hopefully mentor others into become life long readers and learners. Although I talk to my former students almost daily, I miss the class time, I miss the purpose that my life had.

While none of this is an excuse for not keeping up with my blog, it is the truth behind my recent struggles. Divided attention, loss, and major life changes. Today I am finally making the call to return to my blog and work hard. Hopefully, you can forgive me and come back to share a cup of coffee and a good book.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I apologize to all of you for disappearing for a while and being sporadic. So much has been going on in our lives. My daughter got married earlier this year and gave us a grandchild last month. Our youngest moved on campus 2 weeks after that and finally, our oldest son left for Marine boot camp. We are still trying to catch up with life. Next up-new job possibilities may require a move. Life is interesting.

I will be getting reviews posted soon. I have read several books and just need to post the reviews. I am finishing up the review for Laura Childs new book: Fiber & Brimstone-coming out October 10th. That will be followed shortly by Kate Carlisle's upcoming book: The Lies That Bind coming out in November. Please hang in with me.

Hope you all had a great summer. Can't wait to catch up with you!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Based On Availability by Alix Strauss

Based On Availability by Alix Strauss is a haunting tale of the inner lives of eight women tenuously connected. It is dark and moving with very little light.

Morgan is one of the managers of the Four Seasons in Manhattan. Haunted by the loss of her sister, she weaves in and out of the lives of the other characters in the book. The methods that Morgan uses to cope with the void left by her loss are desperate and sad.

In a moment of desperation to connect Morgan reaches out in friendship to Trish, the owner of a new art gallery in town. Trish is obsessed with her best friend's upcoming wedding and dramatic weight loss. The two will struggle to build new connections.

The women are varied in backgrounds but all have deeply hidden inner struggles that may prove to undo them. Anne, an employee of the hotel, who struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Louise who is a rock star struggling with addiction, Franny, a Southerner struggling to fit into life in Manhattan, Sheila, a teacher, and Ellen who wants so badly to be a mother, and finely Robin, who is worn down by the abuse of her sister.

Based On Availability illuminates the inner struggles that many women face. Insecurities and low self-esteem are products of this dark abyss that haunts so many women. The book can be hard to read at times because of the cimmerian existence of these women. Their fears seem to be in control much of the time.

It is not a happy read but it will haunt you and perhaps send you inward to examine your own inner fears and insecurities. Although I struggled connecting with the book and the women at the beginning I was drawn into their stories. These women will remain with you for a while after you finish the book. Enjoyed would not be quite the right word for how I experienced this book. Based On Availability was an interesting book that I do find worth recommendation.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Thumbing Through Thoreau

Thumbing Through Thoreau: A Book of Quotations by Henry David Thoreau Compiled by Kenny Luck/Illustrated by Jay Luke and Ren Adams

“…simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.” P160

Thoreau is known for his urgings of man to live simply and honestly. So often we get so caught up in our possessions that we miss the everyday miracles that life bestows. Kenny Luck has put together a beautiful rendition of quotes both famous and less known that encourage us to pause and remember our journey and through our recognition of life around us to improve ourselves.

Thumbing Through Thoreau is a collection of quotations taken from Thoreau's journals, writings, and personal letters. Kenny Luck, a journalist, compiled the quotes to address a variety of subjects that include society & government, spirituality & nature, and love. The book is timely and relevant to today. It is beautifully crafted and easily accessible. As a teacher it is a book that I might use in conjunction with studies of Thoreau and Emerson in the classroom. As an admirer of Thoreau I found the book to be fresh and exciting. I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with these concepts. The book will sit nearby on my desk so that I might grab it at any moment and find inspiration for the day.

Excerpt from book's Introduction:

As I stood on the edge of Walden Pond, about to make a symbolic leap into what had become in my mind a scared place, Hawthorne’s poetic observation was not present in my thoughts. For a summer day, it was unusually cold; a light mist rose above the surface of the water; and having forgotten my towel and bathing suit at home in Pennsylvania, I was forced to strip down, making do with what I was wearing in that revealing moment. I hung my clothes on a nearby tree branch and began inching my way toward the water. It was a ritual Henry David Thoreau, one of America’s first literary giants, had performed countless times during his stay in the woods.

It was June 2007, and this was my second trip to Walden Pond. I had visited the previous summer but resolved only to walk along the shoreline, avoiding the seduction of the water. “This time,” I thought to myself, “I am going in.” Although I was initially reluctant, once the water rose past by waistline, I felt an extraordinary release. I made one final push off the rock where I was standing and let go. I let the water take me. Feeling free from constraints, I had transformed into one of Hawthorne’s angels, baptized by the clear, cool waters of the pond.

My experience at Walden Pond that day was emblematic. It was the culmination of a two-year journey which led me to Concord, Massachusetts, where I hoped to retrace the steps of a man who I had never met, but felt an extraordinary affinity towards. Moreover, I saw a little bit of myself in Thoreau. Here was a man who, despite the conventions of his day, shunned every comfort and convenience. Thoreau once refused to take a doormat, for instance, offered to him by an elderly woman, hoping to avoid what he called the “beginnings of evil.” It seemed like something I would have done had I not read about it first. For the first time in my young life, I met my literary and intellectual soul mate.

You might check out the book at these sites:

The Book's Website

Purchase the book today: Thumbing Through Thoreau

About the Author:
Kenny Luck is a graduate student at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History & Political Science from the same institution. He writes for The Weekender – an arts and entertainment weekly – and The Independent. He is currently working on his second book. He enjoys recording music, book browsing and travel.

“If I were to be baptized it should be in this pond,” wrote Nathanial Hawthorne, reflecting upon the majesty of Walden Pond one autumn afternoon in 1843. “But then one would not wish to pollute it by washing off his sins into it. None but angels should bathe here.”

Kenny Luck Facebook:!/profile.php?id=77501977&ref=ts

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook:

Tribute Books Twitter:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell

Henry Holt and Company NY
                                          On sale August 2010

“The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” p176

The Reapers Are the Angels works a little differently from your run-of-the mill “zombie” story. It has been 25 years since the disease that brought down civilization struck. Zombies have been roaming around long enough for Temple never to have experienced a different world. At the age of 15 she has become a lone warrior, fending for herself, wise and mature beyond her years.

“She tells the woman that she has been traveling all her life that’s worth remembering, and that her mind feels almost filled up already, with people and sights and words and sins and redemptions.” P189

Humanity has managed to hang on and struggle to survive in the face of devastation. It can be found in bits and pieces, scattered throughout the world. Temple is a well rounded, mature character at the tender age of 15. She is the face of new civilization, struggling with a past that haunts every decision she makes. More afraid of herself than of the “slugs” or “meatskins” that have brought down society, she becomes a loner, certain of an evil that lurks inside.

Nevertheless, when she stumbles across a helpless mute by the name of Maury, she sees her chance to right some of the wrongs that she perceives in herself. Setting off across the southern states with Maury in tow, she has bigger problems than the “slugs”.

Moses Todd is hot on her trial set on revenge that can only be achieved by her death. But underlying this twist in the plot is the relationship that forms between Temple and Moses. They have an underlying affinity, understanding the new world and its code, seeing eye to eye, a shared vision. Moses is perhaps the only living person to truly understand Temple.

Moses serves Temple as both her would be murderer and as a surrogate father figure. It is a strange yet inspiring relationship. Maury also plays a significant role in showcasing Temple’s iron will, her kindnesses, and at times reveals the young girl inside.

The story is engaging and very different from what I expected. The Reapers Are the Angels is both well written and engaging. Strong prose mixed with unforgettable characters and an underlying sense of hope for humanity make this book a triumph. This is a book that focuses on human relationships, the struggle to create order out of chaos, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. I would recommend this book as both an individual read and as part of a book club.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In My Mailbox, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, And the History of the World From the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean

Received from Hachette Book Group


Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I,53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

The periodic table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

Why did a little lithium (Li, 3) help cure poet Robert Lowell of his madness? And how did gallium (Ga, 31) become the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?* The Disappearing Spoon has the answers, fusing science with the classic love of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time.

*Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal with a unique property: it melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. So a classic prank for scientists is to fashion gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch as guests recoil when the Earl Grey makes their utensil disappear.

Shadows in Summer: A Novel in Six Voices by Crescent Varrone

Received Through Bostwick Communications

Synopsis  (from back cover):

The house was older than the other homes in the area, and more exposed. While they were hidden, protected by ivy, hedges, walls, #18 was on display. No gates, and not even a fence, just a few tall trees on the left-hand side and a handful of shrubs. Even its innards were laid bare in a huge picture window; though from where I was standing on the opposite sidewalk, all I could see were reflections of the gray clouds behind me.
The house disclosed nothing......

When injured ballet dancer Katrina Nielsen and her American husband, Richard, purchase Sound House, they hope that the charming home will ease their transition from New York to Copenhagen. Katrina was just nineteen when she fled gloomy Denmark, leaving behind her mother, Ingrid, and her grief over her father's death. Seven years later, she returns home to face the ghosts of the past. Yet when weird events begin to occur at Sound House--inexplicable smoke and footsteps, a ghostly face at the window--she starts to think she is being haunted by the ghost of Karl Damsgaard, the original owner. After she's "attacked" by an unseen force, Katrina becomes convinced that something is trying to drive her out of the house...or out of her mind.

Shadows in Summer: A Novel in Six Voices is told by multiple narrators who keep readers reassessing whether the haunting is real, psychological or the result of purposeful manipulation. Inspired by actual events, this deliciously scalp-prickling tale will haunt readers long after the final page.

The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown

Received through Bostwick Communications


An ancient scroll has been unearthed....
Nineteen hundred years after the Essene Jews hid their most precious scrolls in the caves at Qumran, a Catholic priest working on the Dead Sea Scrolls Project discovers a text that describes the final edict of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but hides it in fear of the heresy it contains. When a prominent archaeologist Frank Tones unearths a reference to the hidden scroll, he wonders if this scroll could be the long-lost Gospel of James, or even of Jesus himself. But before he can act, those who know of the scroll's existence become mysteriously silent or dead, leaving only a father and son team to find the scroll and tell its secrets to the world. In an epic, multigenerational story that spans the globe, they must outwit the Mossad, the CIA, and the Vatican's secret weapon--the Italian Mafia--to bring the truth to light. No matter the cost.

The author of two books of comparative religion, MisGod'ed  and God'ed, physician and religious scholar, Laurence B. Brown provides a thrilling read, while at the same time reviving critical religious controversies. Powerful and revealing, this book makes you think, feel, react and wonder--what if we knew the truth about Jesus.

The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge by Patricia Duncker

Received through Librarything's Early Reviewers

Synopsis (Barnes and Noble):

The thrilling tale of a secret European sect and the musical mastermind at its center, from a critically acclaimed novelist at the top of her form.

The bodies are discovered on New Year’s Day, sixteen dead in the freshly fallen snow. The adults lie stiff in a semicircle; the children, in pajamas and overcoats, are curled at their feet.

When he hears the news, Commissaire André Schweigen knows who to call: Dominique Carpentier, the Judge, also known as the “sect hunter.” Carpentier sweeps into the investigation in thick glasses and red gloves, and together the Commissaire and the Judge begin searching for clues in a nearby chalet. Among the decorations and unwrapped presents of a seemingly ordinary holiday, they find a leather-bound book, filled with mysterious code, containing maps of the stars. The book of the Faith leads them to the Composer, Friedrich Grosz, who is connected in some way to every one of the dead. Following his trail, Carpentier, Schweigen, and the Judge’s assistant, Gaëlle, are drawn into a world of complex family ties, seductive music, and ancient cosmic beliefs.

Hurtling breathlessly through the vineyards of Southern France to the gabled houses of Lübeck, Germany, through cathedrals, opera houses, museums, and the cobbled streets of an Alpine village, this ferocious new novel is a metaphysical mystery of astonishing verve and power.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Bought this at Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (The Passage Website):

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

And now......

Last time I posted It's Monday I was reading The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo and Happy Hours by Michele Scott both of which I have finished.  I have received so many good books that it is hard to decide where to start next.

I have Based on Availability by Alix Strauss sitting next to me and I may start The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (Zombies!) just to change things up. I am also going to pick up Parting River Jordan by ML Barnes so I can add a little fun to the mix.

It should be a fun week, drama, zombies, and fun! I promise to not let the projects get in the way. I am planning a beach day tomorrow weather permitting. That means some good reading! I am also going to post those reviews!

Monday, July 5, 2010

In My Mailbox and It's Monday! What are you Reading?

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what others are reading.
This week I received these books for review:

Vexation by Elicia Clegg


For him power and glory are not enough, immortality is the only possibility. His vanity consumes him, forcing his actions to capture, control, and twist her very reality. He will make her like him, in this he will not yield. Welcome to Devin Sinclair's world... A world where each move is watched, each move is carefully controlled, and trusting your eyes can be a fatal mistake. She is alone, terrified of even her own deteriorating sanity. She must find the truth which hides in the book, the book that reviles what really happened the few months she was held captive, locked in a game he directs. Devin must unravel the truth and learn to trust her mind if she is ever to find freedom for her and her fellow captives.

Duckegg & Persons of Interest by NovaMelia


A Small Town Goes Mad

A large pharmaceutical company begins operations in a small outlying community in New England. Interdependence, intrinsic distrust, confused rumors and local ethics all become part of the mix. A local school teacher leads a group of concerned citizens who are suspicious about the research being conducted by the company. Honesty and morality and a menagerie of animals become part of the debate.

There are the weak and the strong and sometimes there is bullying in the Company and among townspeople. In all of this Duckegg moves between his sense of not belonging to his often dysfunctional family and the pride of being a hero. He is honest with himself but sometimes blatantly dishonest with others. He suffers the sorrow of loss and the shame of unintentional harm done by him.

The balancing act between the Company and the Town's people, the personal conflicts and the clashing of personalities, the bullies and the bullied, the clever and the not so smart; the conniving and the innocent, ultimately culminates in a town gone mad, at least for a day.
These books sound so interesting. I am looking forward to reading them. Yea Me! I won a book this week. Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand! I am excited. I will let you know when the book arrives. Thank you Lucie at

So that is my week. I haven't gotten much reading done as I was working on completing some projects: knitting a baby blanket for my first grandchild expected in August. I am too young to be a grandma but I am very excited. I also am completing a plastic canvas tote just for fun. Next up a crocheted produce bag. I love new projects and new books. I will be furiously reading over the next few weeks. I also have several completed books that I need to write up and post the reviews. Sorry for the delay. Hope your July 4th was awesome.

Last time I posted It's Monday I was reading A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George and Happy Hour by Michele Scott. I stated that I was getting ready to start The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo.

 I finished up A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George and did started on The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo. I am still working on Happy Hour by Michele Scott I just got distracted by projects as stated above.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In My Mailbox

This weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what others are reading.

Fishers of Men: The Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest by Adam Elenbaas


This harrowing, poignant, and deeply memorable true story of a minister's son escaping his anguished youth in the American heartland, to gain spiritual awareness through the uses of mind-expanding native plants and shamanic rituals in South America, is the most evocative tale of psychedelic experience since Jeremy Narby, Terence McKenna, and Daniel Pinchbeck.

In the tradition of memoirs like Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012 and Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries, Adam Elenbaas's Fishers of Men chronicles his journey from intense self-destruction and crippling depression to self-acceptance, inner awareness, and spiritual understanding, through participation in mindexpanding-and healing ayahuasca ceremonies in South America and beyond.

From his troubled and rebellious youth as a Methodist minister's son in Minnesota, to his sex and substance abuse-fueled downward spiral in Chicago and New York, culminating in a depressive breakdown, Elenbaas is plagued by a feeling of emptiness and a desperate search for meaning for most of his young life. After hitting rock bottom at his grandfather's house in rural Michigan, a chance experience with psychedelic mushrooms convinces him that he must change his ways to achieve the sense of peace that he has always desired. Several subsequent psychedelic experiences inspire him to embark on a quest to South America and take part in a shamanic ceremony, where he consumes ayahuasca, a jungle vine revered for its spiritual properties.

Over the course of nearly fifty ayahuasca ceremonies during four years, Elenbaas discovers the truth about his own life and past, and begins to mend himself from the inside out.

Wired Kingdom by Rich Chesler


When a Blue Whale tagged with a web-cam as part of a television nature program broadcasts a brutal murder at sea, an FBI agent with a fear of water finds herself in a deadly race to reach the animal before an unknown killer can destroy the digital evidence it carries. For Special Agent Tara Shores, the many possible suspects each present obstacles as unique and perilous as the sea itself. Is the murderer one of the web viewers vying for the controversial reality show’s million-dollar prizes? The extremist environmental group threatening violence unless the whale is liberated from its high-tech tracking device? The wealthy Hollywood power-couple who own the show? Or the troubled, young inventor of the whale-cam? And just who was the beautiful woman slaughtered live on the web?

Navigating an ocean of manipulation and deceit, the detective’s best hope for a solid piece of evidence is the original murder video, still attached to the back of the 100-ton creature which roams the Pacific tethered to its electronic leash. But when the tag’s GPS locator mysteriously fails, it seems that finding the beast will prove impossible.

As the Special Agent dives deeper into the case, what she initially dismisses as a publicity stunt for the glitzy reality series soon sweeps her out to sea in a riptide of greed, sex, and high-tech crime.

Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer by Andrea D. Lyon


Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded.

Dubbed the “Angel of Death Row” by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence, they deserved a change at redemption.

Now, for the first time, Lyon shares her story, from her early work as a Legal Aid attorney to her founding of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases. Full of courtroom drama, tragedy, and redemption, Angel of Death Row is a remarkable inside look at what drives Lyon to defend those who seem indefensible—and to win.

There was Annette who was suspected of murdering her own daughter. There was Patrick, the convicted murderer who thirsted for knowledge and shared his love of books with Lyon when she visited him in jail. There was Lonnie, whose mental illness made him nearly impossible to save until the daughter who remembered his better self spoke on his behalf. There was Deirdre, who shared Lyon’s cautious optimism that her wrongful conviction would finally be overturned, allowing her to see her grandchildren born while she was in prison. And there was Madison Hobley, the man whose name made international headlines when he was wrongfully charged with the murder of his family and sentenced to death.

These clients trusted Lyon with their stories—and their lives. Driven by an overwhelming sense of justice, fairness,and morality, she fought for them in the courtroom and in the raucous streets, staying by their sides as they struggled through real tragedy and triumphed in startling ways. Angel of Death Row is the compelling memoir of Lyon’s unusual journey and groundbreaking career.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, in which two sentences are shared froma ramdom page in your current read.


  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page  
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Organ music seemed to be blasting from the very trees. It swelled to crescendoes, faded, and roared out again: a baroque combination of chords, rests, and flourishes that made Lynley think that at any moment the phantom himself would come swinging down from the opera chandeliers. At the appearance of the Bentley, the two men parted, the one shouting a final violent imprecation at Nigel Parrish before he stalked off in the direction of the high street.
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
p. 204

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

A book meme by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.

It has been awhile since I have been here to update this list. So here goes.

Last week I finished Bernardo and the Virgin by Silvio Sirias and hosted the booktour on Wed. June 16. I have finsihed Dancing with Jou Jou by Barbara Louise Leiding a few weeks ago and will post the review this week. I also finished Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris, Breakup: Enduring Divorce by Leo Averbach, By Heart, Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives by Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson. Will post the review for Shakespeare's Landlord this week as well.

Now I am finishing up A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George and will be starting The Caliphate by Andre Le Gallo in a few minutes. Have also started Happy Hour by Michele Scott. Should have reviews up for these later this week.

Hope you all have a great week. Enjoy your reads.