Sunday Salon May 31st

I probably won't get much reading done today since a relation of a family member passed away and I'm going to pay my respects to the family this afternoon, but I did get a bit of reading done this morning on JAMES MONROE: THE QUEST FOR NATIONAL IDENTITY. I have been reading biographies and related materials of the past presidents and I am currently up to Monroe. So far the process has been very enlightening. This book however, is rather lengthy and will take some time.

Last night, before I went to bed, I finished reading THE QUILTER'S APPRENTICE by Jennifer Chiaverini. It really made me stop to think about how so many times in our lives we let our pride or hurt feelings cut us off from friends and family when really we are only hurting ourselves by the loss of that contact. I wonder if others have read books that cause them to stop and think about some of their own behavior?

Library Loot May 28th - May 31st

Here's what came into my house this week from my local library:

On Agate Hill by Lee Smith Audiobook, Civil War novel
A Blush with Death by India Ink second in a new series for me
Invitation to Murder by Elizabeth Bright something that looked interesting and fits my craft category

FYI - I'm changing my week to Sunday to Saturday since I usually hit the library on Saturday.

THE QUILTER'S APPRENTICE by Jennifer Chiaverini

Category: Crafts/Cooking in the background
Pages: 272
Read: May 27 - May 30

This is a heartwarming story of a young couple, Sarah and Matt, who must leave the only home that they've known to move to another town so that Matt can get work. His new job puts Sarah in the position of being unemployed for the first time and searching for a job in a tough market. While she is searching, the cranky elderly woman, Mrs. Compson, that Matt is work for offers Sarah a chance to earn some money helping prepare her family estate(Elm Creek Manor) for sale. Sarah agrees provided that Mrs. Compson teaches her how to quilt. During the daily quilting lessons, Mrs. Compson and Sarah develop a close friendship while revealing their own life stories/issues/problems.The stories that are related are at times powerfully moving, and reminders of how our own errors can effect our lives. In total it is remarkable how this book can show that love and friendship can help overcome just about anything including past injuries and insults. The descriptions of the quilting processes that are intermingled throughout are fascinating. The only drawback is that at times, the character of Sarah seems a bit whiny. Hopefully, she'll out grow it in future books.



Category: Leaders
Pages: 390
Read: May 21 - May 30

India Ink has written a witty, often amusing and definitely complex amateur sleuth mystery. The central character is a martial arts expert who is a very feminine, spirited and independent woman. Trying to elude a bad relationship in Seattle, Persia Vanderbilt returns home to Gull Harbor and sets to work at her aunt's business, Venus Envy, a business that creates custom blended oils and spa services. At the beginning, Persia is blending an individual scent for Lydia Wang when Lydia (the Radiance Cosmetics Beauty Contest winner) gets into several altercations - one with her former boyfriend, Trevor, a employee of Venus Envy, another with the contest runner-up, Colleen. When Persia finds Lydia dead in the spa the next morning, and the murder weapon is one of Trevor's tools, Trevor becomes the chief suspect. Not believing in his guilt, Persia sets out to clear her employee and in the process nearly loses her own life. Since Lydia was such an abrasive personality and she had made so many enemies, it is difficult to choose just one person as the murderer and as the clues are revealed, the reader is able to solve the murder right along with Persia. I had to run out and get the next one, I enjoyed this one so much.


POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS Author: Augusten Burroughs

Category: Audiobooks
Pages: 304
Read: May 22 - May 27

This book is a collection of essays/short stories/memoirs surrounding the early childhood, of the author. Reviews had this book as being hilarious especially when read on audio by the author. This is the version that I checked out of the library. It missed with me.

The stories are told in reverse chronological order which is a little strange - going from successful relationships to a loner; non-smoking Alcoholic in AA to a smoking drinker; gay relationship to young man looking at girls; The tales included telling of when he was a child, his reluctance to visit one grandmother (evil) after visiting the other (good) (If one of my grandmothers had a tooth fairy that gave $50 per tooth, I 'd think that the other was evil too.), spending over $600 a month on Nicorette gum when he quit smoking, and a crush on a female doctor as a child. A few of the short stories are extremely entertaining but the entire book wasn't worth its reviews that were raves. (IMHO) Don't think I'll read anything more from this author.

I chose this book because my husband and I were going on a car trip to Richmond and we do audio books when we travel. My husband liked it better than I did. He gave it 3 stars.

Library Loot: May 20th - 27th

Library Loot is a weekly event to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.
Here's what came into my house this week from my local library:

The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini
Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen


Teaser Tuesday

"The medical team was in the process of photographing the body but they paused as Auntie entered the shop, her brilliant muumuu swishing against her legs."

"I pointed to an empty space on the wall next to the door, leading to the spa area and said "Aphrodite's Mirror....it's gone!""

pages 48-49 Scent of the Grave by India Ink



Mythopoeic Fantasy Award
Read: Feb 16 - 18

no words to say how tremendous the writing of J K Rowling continues to be. Just sensational how all the ends were cleaned up and story resolved.

BALTIMORE BLUES by Laura Lippman

Shamus Award
Read: March 4 - 10

Tess Monaghan, an unemployed ex-reporter, starts investigating the fiancée of a rowing friend as a freelance job to pay the rent. Knowing her hometown of Baltimore, she thinks this is going to be a simple "find out what she's up to" tailing, but it turns into a desperate effort to clear her friend of murder charges. The ensuing investigation gets dangerous and nearly deadly.The characters are entertaining and the story develops into a real page turnerAs a Baltimore native, it was fun to hear of the changes that I remember - Friendship Airport becoming Baltimore Washington International, Hutzlers no longer existing and the building becoming the Department of Human Resources, McCormick plant leaving the city and the smell of cinnamon no longer in air- all this while telling a story that could have been set in any big city but is beautiful set in the Author's hometown. Can't wait for more.

JOHN ADAMS by David McCullough

Pulitzer Prize
Read: Jan 1-6

It is a true shame that John Adams did not get the credit for which he was due because he was squeezed between the presidencies of Washington and Jefferson. This book by David McCullough displays the fortitude and greatness of the man who helped build our nation.The narrative shows the life that started him on his road from his early life until his end. He is shown to be the true patriot, apparently hanging on to life to reach the 4th of July anniversary. It amazes me how the author is able to bring to life not only President Adams' abilities as a diplomat but his attributes as a person, husband, father, grandfather. I personally never really thought much about John Adams since he was so overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson. I now have had to rethink my appraisal and move him up on the greatness scale. His efforts throughout his life to always think more of what was better for the fledgling nation then for himself makes him indeed a great man.

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Quill Award
Read: Jan 8 -12

For me, just saying Stephanie Plum's name brings a smile. She is a young woman who wants to seem independent but can't seem to manage her job (a Bond Enforcement Agent) or her love life. The two come together in this book when the daughter of her mentor (Ranger) is kidnapped apparently by Ranger and it sets her on path which is terrorizing and comical at the same. Having both of the men in her life (Joe and Ranger) competing to protect her one minute and seduce her the next, makes me laugh just when I want to cry. Her characters are fully fleshed out, (including Lula) all the details are integral parts of the plots. Stephanie may not be the greatest BEA but she's a hoot!

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

National Book Award
Read: January 19 - Feb 3

Thomas Jefferson throughout this book appears as paradox, constantly revealed as a mass of contradictions between his written word and his actions. His flaws are specifically enumerated throughout.He was apparently chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence since he was not an accomplished speaker and frequently used the written word in its place.Early in his public career, Jefferson advocates the elimination of slavery, however as the years progress his standpoint shifts and he is dramatically quiet about his position on the difference between blacks and whites.His personal debts influenced him so much that during his Presidency his goal was to eliminate the National Debt. Even while working toward this aim, he continued to overextend his personal expenditures with continuing construction at Monticello.He was uncomfortable with situations that had any controversy and frequently set social situations to avoid any confrontations.Jefferson often retreat into silence or propelled others to do his "dirty work" by simply mentioning something did not please him.His administrative skills were lacking while he was Governor of Virginia leaving the state's fiscal standing in jeopardy. His stance on states' rights and slavery were trumped by the War between the States.His disgust for a large central government advocated by Hamilton and his belief in the necessity of religious freedom continue to resound even today.Critics over the years have "cast Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton in the lead roles of a dramatic contest between the forces of democracy and the forces of aristocracy."How ironic that it was Hamiltonian methods by FDR that brought about Jeffersonian goals of economic equality."His life had always been about promise. And his enduring legacy became the most resonant version of the American promise in national mythology. But in his life, if not his legacy, there were some promises he could not keep."Thomas Jefferson was multitalented - a writer, architect, diplomat. However, his greatest contribution to our nation, in my opinion, is his vision for the future and his determination to provide for western expansion and the continuation of the American Dream which he envisioned for all - "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

STILL LIFE by Louise Penny

Barry Award
Read: Feb 23 - March 1

This murder mystery was beautifully crafted leaving the reader completely baffle until the end. The descriptions of the area were so realistic that you wonder if there really is a village like Three Pines. The characters are well fleshed out and contribute tremendously to the storytelling. I listened to the audio version of this book and it was excellent. The narrator had a voice that resonated mystery while carrying off the accents with real panache. I definitely am going to be looking for another in this series.

CHARM CITY by Laura Lippman

Edgar Award
Read: March 10 -19th

This the second installment in Tess Monaghan series about an ex-reporter accidentally turned private detective. The series is set in Baltimore and the city life that is described throughout is charming - hence Charm City. Tess in this book is trying to investigate an unusual newspaper story that was printed without the proper editorial authority and could be libelous but before Tess can even get started with her investigation at the newspaper, the person involved turns up dead.At the same time as she is enmeshed in this ethical dilemma, her uncle leaves a dog in her care after he is severely beaten. There is a subplot throughout the book where along with trying to solve the newspaper printing of the unapproved story, Tess is also trying to figure out why she is being followed , assaulted, and kidnapped.As the story evolves, Tess finds blackmail, murder, and identify theft. The ending , for me was a surprise. The background of the city is what really brings this story to life, for me. The little details that tell a true life story could really be there behind the fiction.

SYMPATHY OF THE DEVIL by Jerrilyn Farmer

Macavity Award 1999
Read: April 2 - April 4

I really enjoy cozy mysteries and this one I definitely enjoyed. I was hooked by the first page with such mouth watering descriptions of food preparations, I could smell it and I wanted to taste it! The story was brilliantly crafted interlacing the catering services with the mystery. The only drawback is there were no actual recipes. Ms Farmer needs to give the reader a chance to actual taste those treats she describes by providing the instructions for the food we can almost taste!Definitely need to find the next in the Madeline Bean Culinary Mysteries!

DEAL BREAKER by Harlan Coben

Anthony Award 1996
Read: April 3 - April 19

This was the first in the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. The plot centers around a cunning mystery of sex, murder and blackmail. Simon is a multi-dimensional character having been a sports figure turned FBI agent turned lawyer and ending as a sports agent. All these facets of his background come into play in this story where his prize client is involved in a possible murder. Simon's support staff include a college friend who enjoys playing enforcer while in appearance is MR. Preppie and a secretary/receptionist who used to be a wrestler.The fact the Simon is not a detective or policeman or PI makes this series seem a bit more interesting because you wonder what other aspects of his background have you not been told yet. I will admit that I was surprised by the ending, I was not prepared for the solution even though I had an inkling of what was happening. Definitely entertaining!

THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Agatha Award 2004
Read : May 4 - May 16
Category : Award Winners
Pages : 560

Henry DeTamble is a librarian who involuntarily travels through time. He is drawn in place and time to Clare Abshire who throughout his life supports him by supplying his needs for physical assistance whether she is 6 , 16, or 32. The love affair of these two characters is so multi-dimensional that it is hard to conceive how Audrey Niffenegger managed to keep track of all the details while writing this book.This book is extremely thought-provoking making the reader wonder if there really are people like Henry who are constantly popping from one time to another, seeing the world in different eras and unable to make changes for the betterment of man. What if there was a way to alter our genes and become time travelers ourselves, so that we could visit with our love ones that we've lost, and at least apologize for the shortfalls of our youths. Would we be brave enough to volunteer?

Reading Blog

I've decided to split my blog so that my books that I read don't clog my regular blog.

This is where I will store my reviews. I am starting with the books for the Book Awards Challenge.