Tag Archives: books

First Line Fridays

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This week’s first line is from…

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

 “My suffering left me sad and gloomy.

Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life.”

 

This book was the January pick for my book club but is one I have wanted to read for a while anyway. So far, I’m finding it quite enjoyable.

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Saying Goodbye to Sue

Posted on writer Sue Grafton’s Facebook page Friday December 29th…

“Hello Dear Readers. This is Sue’s daughter, Jamie. I am sorry to tell you all that Sue passed away last night after a two year battle with cancer. She was surrounded by family, including her devoted and adoring husband Steve. Although we knew this was coming, it was unexpected and fast. She had been fine up until just a few days ago, and then things moved quickly. Sue always said that she would continue writing as long as she had the juice. Many of you also know that she was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows, and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

The first Sue Grafton novel I read was “D is for Deadbeat.”  It was around 1989 and the book came as part of my new book club offering.  For those who are unfamiliar (or are too young to remember books before the internet), mail order book clubs would gain new members by offering a number of books for a dollar if you committed to joining the club and purchasing 3 or 4 other books at regular price within the next year.  I was always part of at least one book club then and often surfed from one to another collecting my discount novels.  Usually they were books that were left from previous years.

It didn’t take me long to get hooked on Sue and her character Kinsey Millhone.  I went through letter “D” pretty fast and then immediately fulfilled my membership agreement by ordering “A” “B” and “C”! I was 27 years old in 1989 and reaching the end of my first marriage. My life was in a place where Kinsey’s independence and moxie appealed to me.  I wanted to live in a converted one car garage and run my own private detective agency.  I wanted to make all my own choices (good or bad), drink wine and eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches instead of figuring out a grocery list and doing laundry. Kinsey rocked, even if people did occasionally shoot at her.

Over the next twenty something years, my life included some big changes but Sue and Kinsey remained a constant.  Every year I looked forward to the next letter, the next novel, to see what they were up to.  Surprisingly, even after so many books, Sue was able to keep the character and the stories fresh and interesting.  In some of the more recent novels she began writing entire chapters from a different characters point of view, or taking the reader back in time to the original crime and then switching back to Kinsey’s take on the situation. Another quirk about Kinsey’s world that appealed to me was that she was still still living and detecting in the 1980s, each of her stories moving just months beyond the one before.  This meant she didn’t have cell phones or the internet and had to solve her mysteries using good old fashioned brain power aided only by library cross reference books, microfiche, and what ever info she could get out of the witnesseses.  She also had a habit of keeping notes on 5×7 index cards that she could shuffle and rearrange to see if a pattern appeared.

I was already a dedicated fan and quite in love with Sue Grafton by the time “X” came out in 2015.  We had a relationship dating back years and I had my favorite books and characters already but this novel quickly became the most favorite because on the beginning page of a chapter half way through, quite by happenstance, Sue used my son’s full name for a minor character.  Seeing his name in print was pretty cool and then when I glanced up at the number of the chapter, I realized it was also my son’s favorite number, the number he wore on every sports jersey through out high school because he considered it lucky! It was a weird enough coincidence that I was compelled to send  a note to her Facebook page. I explained what a big fan I was and how she had simply made my day with this happy accident.  Two days later I received this reply:

“What a lovely surprise for you. Can’t remember where I came up with the name. Maybe a spirit visit in the dead of night. Tell him he’s now been immortalized and not even as one of the criminal element. Thanks for your note. What a hoot.”

I regulary go through my Messenger account and delete messages so the fact that this note is still on my feed should tell you what a big deal it is to me!

Now, sadly, there will be no more Kinsey.  Her story and the stories of all the other characters  Ms Grafton so lovingly brought into existence are now in limbo.  I suppose that its up to each of us, those readers,  who have invested so much in Sue’s world to finish their stories as we see fit.  It will never live up to the endings she would have chosen but I’m just happy I was along for the ride.  For me, personally,  my thoughts and sympathies go out to Sue’s family with love and appreciation for all the enjoyment Sue Grafton brought to me and to all the other countless fans of Kinsey Millhone.   For us, as her daughter so perfectly stated , “the alphabet now ends in Y.”

–Respectfully submitted,

A Fan

The Weekly Smile…Perfect Day

So here is something I can totally relate to…

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…or any other day.

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Jumping off the A to Z Train

So here’s the thing…

After much thought, I have decided to excuse myself from the remainder of the “A to Z Challenge.” Writing about my “Literary Ladies” for letters A through G has been fun but also a bit stressful. Posting everyday just does not fit in my schedule and it makes it difficult for me to find time to read all the other blogs, which is really my favorite part.

In addition, from the letter “G” on, I was quite short on topics so that would have been an added challenge. Some of the ladies on my list like Hermione Granger, Kinsey Millhone (Sue Graftons’s Alphabet series) and Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich’s Number series) may still make it into some future post but as for me and the “2016 A to Z”, I think I’ll just watch the rest from the sidelines. 😊

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An A to Z of Literary Ladies – Charley Davidson

Charley Davidson

“Maybe I needed sensitivity training. I once signed up for an anger management class, but the instructor pissed me off.”
― Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right

The basics:

Chocolate brown hair; golden eyes; 27 years old; resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Part-time private detective; full-time grim reaper; has the ability to see and communicate with the dead.

Where to find her:

Charley Davidson is the main character in Darynda Jones’ “Grave” series beginning with “First Grave on the Right” (2011). The series is currently up to book nine, just released this year.

Why she made the list:

Obviously, this is one of those books that require the reader to suspend their grip on reality and just kind of go with it. It is also politically incorrect where death is concerned and leans towards an “R” rating  due to the incredibly hot relationship Charley has with Reyes Farrow, aka the son of Satan. What can I say,  I have slightly eclectic taste in reading material.

Charley Davidson, the big draw here, tends to be a bit long winded, spouting wise cracks and sarcasm in abundance but, hey, she’s a grim reaper encountering dead people on a daily basis. I’d say she deserves some slack where her coping mechanisms are concerned. The fact that she is so off the wall, is exactly what appeals to me. The biggest struggle she faces is trying to protect the people she cares about while still being able to do her job. For the most part, she succeeds

Have you ever felt like throwing convention out the window and just doing or saying whatever popped into your head? Charley is a one-of-a-kind entity who needs to operate on her own, making it up as she goes. She’s just so damn cool and fearless. I wouldn’t mind being that self confident now and then.

Plus, she has a really hot boyfriend. 😊

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imageMy A to Z Challenge theme this year is a celebration of literary females.

I don’t necessarily mean famous literature or famous women, just ladies from some of the many books I have read over the years, who have stayed with me for whatever reason. Some are main characters, some are not. Some are heroines, some are screw-ups and some are very, very naughty but, for me, they were the driving force in the story, the reason I kept reading or came back to read again.

Perhaps, if you haven’t already met these literary ladies, you’ll be inspired to, and if you have, we can compare notes and share opinions. I’d love to hear about your favorite female

 

 

An A to Z of Literary Ladies – Casey Singleton

Casey Singleton

     “Casey looked at his smooth face, smelled his cologne. The little bastard was enjoying this.  And in a moment of fury, of deep outrage, she suddenly saw another possibility.                                        From the beginning, she had tried so hard to do the right thing, to solve the problem of 545. She had been honest, she had been straight, and it had just gotten her into trouble.   Or had it?      “You have to face facts, here” Richman said.  “It’s over.  There’s nothing you can do.”   She pushed away from the sink.

“Watch me,” she said.  And she walked out of the room.

   -Michael Crichton, Airframe

The basics:

Thirty-six years old divorcee;  short brown hair; athletic body; mom to 7 year old Amanda; vice-president at Norton Air Craft; resides in Glendale, California.

Where to find her:

Casey is the main character and heroine in Michael Crichton 1996 novel “Airframe” a mystery/thriller involving a flight in which ninety-four passengers are injured, three are killed and the interior cabin virtually destroyed. Casey, who is in charge of quality control and public relations is thrown into the middle of the investigation and tasked with finding out exactly what happened on board TransPacific flight 545.

Why she made the list:

Casey Singleton is a no nonsense Midwest girl, a “straight arrow” as her boss at Norton calls her. She grew up in Detroit, earned a degree in journalism and began her career working for Ford Motors. Eventually she moved to California, trading cars for airplanes. She is smart and tenacious and very good at her job.

The entire novel takes place within a weeks time, a week in which Casey’s seven year old daughter is away with her dad and therefore removed from what becomes a dangerous situation. It is lucky, though, that she has experience dealing with her own child because most of the men she works with behave like children themselves! Apologizes to any male readers but Michael Crichton threw his own gender under the bus when he wrote this one. There are very few likeable male characters in Airframe and amid all the postulating executives and engineers, as well as one naive female TV producer, Casey is the sole voice of reason.

When Casey realizes that she has been set up by people who expect her to do as she is told, she instead figures out a way to do what is right. In the end,  she out thinks and out maneuvers the big shots and solves the mystery of flight 545 as well.

📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖📖

imageMy A to Z Challenge theme this year is a celebration of literary females.

I don’t necessarily mean famous literature or famous women, just ladies from some of the many books I have read over the years, who have stayed with me for whatever reason. Some are main characters, some are not. Some are heroines, some are screw-ups and some are very, very naughty but, for me, they were the driving force in the story, the reason I kept reading or came back to read again.

Perhaps, if you haven’t already met these literary ladies, you’ll be inspired to, and if you have, we can compare notes and share opinions. I’d love to hear about your favorite female characters too.

 

An A to Z of Literary Ladies – Annabeth Chase

Annabeth Chase

“Annabeth came up to me. She was dressed in black camouflage with her Celestial bronze knife strapped to her arm and her laptop bag slung over her shoulder—ready for stabbing or surfing the Internet, whichever came first.”
― Rick Riordan, The Last Olympian

The basics:

Age:  From 12 years old into her teens through out the series.

Appearance: blonde curly hair, gray eyes, very athletic, very intelligent

Residence: Camp Half Blood, Long Island, NY

Where to find her:

Annabeth Chase is a fictional character in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. She is a demigod, meaning she is half-mortal and half god. Her father is the mortal Frederick Chase and her mother is Athena, the goddess of wisdom, crafts and battle strategy.  She debuts in the first novel of the series, The Lightning Thief (2005). Throughout the series she becomes close friends with Percy Jackson, later becoming his main love interest and girlfriend.

Why she made the list:

The Percy Jackson books were the first novels my daughter and I read together. While Miss Dee was madly in love with Percy, she was also just as crazy about Annabeth and why not.?! Annabeth is a kick a** warrior with major brain power. I love that she isn’t written in just to give the book some female presence but instead is a very intragle part of the story. Annabeth is intelligent, brave, fiercely loyal to her friends and feels things deeply.

What a great roll model she was for my teenage daughter. Miss Dee still compares every literary female she meets to her. (“Well, she’s no Annabeth Chase, she whines too much.” or “Annabeth would never have fallen for that.”). I enjoyed routing her on as well because even though she comes across with such moxie, inside she suffers from all the normal teenage angst we all faced.

I’m pretty happy we got to know her.

Featured image courtesy of:

http://percyjacksonmovies.tumblr.com/post/91761508272/percy-jackson-and-heroes-of-olympus-fan-arts

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imageMy A to Z theme this year is a celebration of literary females. I don’t necessarily mean famous literature or famous women, just ladies from some of the many books I have read over the years, who have stayed with me for whatever reason. Some are main characters, some are not. Some are heroines, some are screw-ups and some are very very naughty, but for me, they were the driving force in the story, the reason I kept reading or came back to read again.

Perhaps, if you haven’t already met these literary ladies, you’ll be inspired to, and if you have, we can compare notes and share opinions. I’d love to hear about your favorite female characters too.

A to Z Theme Reveal

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I love books and through the years I’ve learned that my favorite books are those with strong, interesting characters. That is what makes or breaks a story for me so I thought, for the A to Z challenge,  it would be fun to revisit some of these favorite characters…and, since we girls have to stick together…..

My A to Z Challenge theme this year is a celebration of literary females.

I don’t necessarily mean famous literature or famous women, just ladies from some of the many books I have read over the years, who have stayed with me for whatever reason. Some are main characters, some are not. Some are heroines, some are screw-ups and some are very, very naughty but, for me, they were the driving force in the story, the reason I kept reading or came back to read again.

Perhaps, if you haven’t already met these literary ladies, you’ll be inspired to, and if you have, we can compare notes and share opinions. I’d love to hear about your favorite female characters too.

Literary Time Travel,

If I could have a super power I would choose the ability to travel through time. Maybe that’s not really considered a super power but whatever. I’d choose it anyway and I would only travel backwards in time. Not forward. I’m okay with the mystery of what’s to come. I don’t really want to know about the future but I would like to experience first hand some of the things that I have read about or seen in photos.

I could watch Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettyburg Address. I could visit the 1893 Chicago World Fair and ride the Ferris wheel. I could get to know my parents when they were my age. The list goes on. This desire for time travel fuels my choice in books as well. Historical fiction is one way to travel through time and I do enjoy that genre but what I really love is a book that deals with time travel itself.

In that vein, I thought I would share a list of my favorite time travel books. They are arranged according to their publication dates. Each one, in my opinion is an exciting ride.

The Time Machine –H.G. Wells (1895)

  You can’t really discuss literary time travel without starting here. Wells Time Traveler goes forward in time which is not my preferred direction but the thrill is still there. Being able to set a date on a dial and send yourself to that place and see what the future holds is a staggering idea! I actually saw the film version with Rod Taylor years before I read the book.  As a result, I can’t read this with out picturing the blue skinned morlocks and the mannequin the Time Traveler observes changing her fashion as he moves forward in time.

Time and Again- Jack Finney (1970)

 Though written in 1970, I only recently discovered this book on a Goodreads top ten list. In this story a bored New York City advertising man is approached by a government agency interested in recruiting him for a secret experiment in time traveling. The quirk in this time travel theory (because of course every author has their own), is that the traveler has to be in a place that existed during the time they wish to travel to. Our hero moves into the historic Dakota apartment building on Central Park and begins to immerse himself in the past. We learn about New York during the turn of the century and experience life through the eyes of someone who knows what the future brings. 

Timeline- Michael Crichton (1999)

 This book has been a favorite of mine for quite some time (pardon the pun). In this a group of archeologists working on a dig in France discover a message buried in the dig site that appears to be a plea for help written in English and in handwriting that appears to belong to their missing team leader. Eventually through the use of quantum physics, they are transported back to 14th century France in order to rescue their friend. I think what appeals to me most about this story is that the characters are a group of historians and academics who have researched and obsessed about this particular time period only to be dropped into the middle of it like kids in a candy shop! They can actually see what they have only theorized about. Also, if you have ever read anything by Michael Crichton (Jurrasic Park, Airframe, The Adromeda Strain) you know that he never does anything half way. He’s done so much research into quantum physics and multi verse theory and explains it so logically that you almost believe time travel could be possible. On a side note, this book was made into a really bad movie. If you’ve seen it, please don’t judge the story based on that.


11/22/63- Stephen King (2011)

 And then there’s this, the novel that asks the question that everyone who has considered time travel has thought about: Is it possible to go back in time and change the past? I’m a little surprised that Stephen King had not tackled this subject before considering he is a master of the strange and unusual. I really enjoyed all of the historic detail King included in the story. I found myself reading up on Lee Harvey Oswald and the events leading up to Kennedy’s death just to find out more and to confirm the information being given in the novel. The hero is an ordinary guy who stumbles into the fantastic, a very likable guy who struggles with his moral duty and has to make some very difficult decisions. The ending of the book seemed to go on longer than was necessary but King’s tales tend to do that.

I’ve read others, but these are my favorite so far. I would love to hear your thoughts on these books or some recommendations for further time travel adventure I could take!


Judging a Book By Its Cover

I know the saying really is “Never judge a book by its cover”  but I’m speaking in the more literal sense. You know, actual books and their actual covers. Being a very visual person,  I notice book covers.  If there is an interesting or intriguing photo or illustration,  I stop and look.

I’m a bit of a book store addict. Shopping online only works if I know what I want. When I’m just browsing I need to be in a room surrounded by actual books. Secondhand bookstores are my favorite because you never know what treasure you might find tucked away on the shelves.  On these expeditions, I  often purchase a book just because I am am fascinated by the cover or title. What can I say, I’m reckless like that sometimes.

Here are some examples. These are only the covers. I’m not going to tell you what the books are about (if you don’t already know) because I figure if you are as intrigued by the covers as I was, you will find out for yourself!  I will, however, tell you that they all lived up to my expectations and were well worth the time.

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Creepy, huh? I admit, I like weird, especially weird photographs. The entire book is filled with the same kind of visuals. This is a Young Adult book, by the way, but as far as I’m concerned a good story is a good story no matter what section of the store it’s in.

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Another YA book. I found this one at a yard sale and was desperate to find out how a baseball bat and an umbrella worked together in the story line. The characters are wonderful. My 16 year old has read it several times and considers it one of her favorite books.

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So so here is a book about…..a book! I’m already hooked.  I really wanted to know more about this intense society woman posing in her 1920’s finery. This was a real person and a real diary and that alone made me curious.

imageAnd finally, how could you not love the title of this book?  I am a great lover of letters and post cards. They are so much more personal than emails or texts. I think that  woman gazing off into the water and the hand written card tugged at the romantic in me.

This isn’t a foolproof method though.  I’ve bought other books because of their great covers only to be very disappointed by the story. Live and learn, you know. I still enjoy the hunt and I get really excited when I discover a hidden gem.

Let’s hear your thoughts. Have you ever judged a book by its cover? What book was it? Was it worth the risk?