September, 2016 TBR

Fall, my favorite time of the year, is almost here.  I can already see the leaves changing colors and smell that grain dust in the evening air as the farmers outside of the city bring in their crops.  It is also a time that I enjoy being able to open all the windows as the heat of the summer is over and I curl up under a blanket with a good book.

So, here are the books that I am hoping to read in September:

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Babytrick by T.V. LoCicero

Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I am currently listening to the audio called The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly.  I am doing some travelling in September so I am taking a couple of other audiobooks with me for the long plane rides.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (I actually have already read this in paper format years ago, and saw the movie, but I have a craving for a good Pat Conroy book and this was a very good price on Audible so I’m going to try listening to this book this time around.)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Enjoy fall and yummy pumpkin spice lattes everyone!

Gwen

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August, 2016 Reads

I managed to not only get through a fairly good sized list of books in August, but I had two 5 star reads too!  These are the books that I read in August:

Brighton by Michael Harvey – 4 stars

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – 3 stars

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave – 3 stars

The First Husband by Laura Dave – 3 stars

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close  – 4 stars

The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel – 4stars

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan – 3 stars

The Vactioners by Emma Straub (audiobook) – 3 stars

The Museum of You by Carys Bray – 5 stars

Esther The Wonderpig by Steve Jenkins (audiobook) – 4 stars

Carnival of Shadows by R.J. Ellory – 5 stars

Killer Look by Linda Fairstein – 3 stars

August has typically always been a good reading month for me and this year was no exception.

Gwen

Book Review – Killer Look

Killer Look is the 18th book in the Alex Cooper series by Linda Fairstein.   Alex is now out of hospital after her kidnapping in the previous book, Devil’s Bridge, but is sufferKiller Looking from PTSD.  Overall I found this to be a fairly typical Alex Cooper book with the author’s trademark of focusing on the history of a particular landmark or section of New York City.  In this edition of the series, Linda Fairstein unravels the history of the city’s garment district and the fashion industry. While I found the history interesting and enjoyed the fashion design storyline, along with the name-dropping of iconic fashion designers (e.g. Coco Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen), there were things that irritated me about this book.

Alex is suffering from PTSD.  She readily admits that she is, all of her friends are aware that she is, but yet it isn’t until after page 300 that the issue of therapy is addressed.  Alex does not want to attend therapy and believes that hanging around her boyfriend, Mike, (while he is trying to perform his job) will “cure” her.  Really????  This character is becoming more whiny and man-dependent with each book.  If it wasn’t for the interesting storylines around the historic landmarks in NY City, I would probably give this series up.  Only because I enjoyed the fashion storyline does this book get three stars (otherwise it would have been a two star read).

Book Review – Carnival of Shadows

Carnival of Shadows

On the surface, it appears that this book is about the FBI investigating the murder of a man found underneath a carousel at a carnival that has arrived in Seneca Falls, Kansas in 1959.  That is certainly one part of the story, but another huge part of the book is the backstory of FBI Special Agent, Michael Travis and it is fascinating.  From the book cover, we learn that Michael’s mother killed his father and was subsequently found guilty and executed.  The author flips back and forth between the present (1959) and Michael’s backstory which involved the death of his father, his mother’s incarceration and execution, his subsequent time in the Welfare system in Kansas and then going to live with a distant relative (through marriage, not blood).  Now, I am all about the story and the characters when it comes to whether I am enjoying a particular book and I’m not as observant at noticing the style of writing as other reviewers, but I found the writing in this book so beautiful that it made me sit up and notice.  I found myself slowing down in reading this book so that I could savor the writing (something that I normally do not do).

Along with a fascinating back story, the present day (1959) story is pretty interesting too.  A carnival has arrived in town, they have pitched their tents and are putting on their shows.  On their second day in town, a man is found underneath the carousel but no one knows who he is – the carnival workers claim they don’t know him and the townspeople don’t know him and that is when FBI Special Agent Travis is put on the case, but with restrictions.  Travis’ job is to find out whether this crime falls within the purview of the FBI, or the local sheriff’s office.  His boss informs him that he is not to file daily reports, which is contrary to how investigations normally are run, and he is not allowed to request assistance from any FBI staff or district offices.  Eventually there are more questions than answers.  Special Agent Travis starts to question just how deep the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover are involved in this matter and whether there is blood on their hands.

The plot of the story is interesting and the talents of the carnival workers are captivating.  At the end of the story, the reader is rewarded with answered questions and a plot that is nicely wrapped up in a bow.

I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would when I first discovered it and I give it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Weekend Reads

Time for the weekend again, thank God.  As usual, I am hoping to get some reading time in.  I am currently reading one book (paper) and listening to another in audio book.

I am about 90% complete Carnival of Shadows by R.J. Ellory and I have been loving this book.  I am usually all about plot and character development when it comes to reading enjoyment but the writing in this book is so well done that it actually caught my attention and I have slowed down reading this book in order to savor it.  The basic premise of the story is a FBI agent (Michael Travis) has had a disturbing childhood where his father abused his mother until she couldn’t take it any longer and she killed Michael’s father.  She is convicted and executed for the crime which leaves Michael with no family.  After a number of months in the child welfare system, a distant relative (by marriage, not blood) is located and he goes to live with her until he reaches adulthood.  He then joins the army and later becomes a FBI agent.  One day he is assigned to a case where a body has been found underneath a carousel at a carnival that has arrived in Seneca Falls, Kansas.  He is the only agent assigned to the case and is told that he is not to request any assistance from other FBI branches or agents.  He arrives in Seneca Falls and starts his investigation, interviewing all the people who work in the carnival.  As time goes on, he becomes more disturbed as he cannot make any head-way in the case and some of the carnival workers have this uncanny ability to know what has gone on in his past, almost like they were reading his mind.  I’m to the point in the book where the reader starts to wonder whether Michael Travis has been set up by his employer.  I can hardly wait to finish it to find out the truth of the matter.

The other book I will be “reading” this weekend is an audio book that I started a few days ago.  It is called the Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly and is the third and final book in the Tea Rose series.  I read the first two books in paper format but I am enjoying the audio book format just as much.  I have been listening to big sections of this book while I do some coloring and I am finding that time just flies by when I do this.

Finally, I anticipate starting Linda Fairstein’s new book called Killer Look.  This book is another addition to the Alex Cooper series.  I have deliberately not read what it is about so that there is some element of surprise as there are now many books in this series and I find it is becoming a little stale.

So that pretty much wraps up my reading plans for the weekend.  Hope everyone has a good one!  Gwen

Book Review – The Museum of You

The Museum of YouThis was a great read with really really nice writing. Clover is a 12-year-old girl who lost her mother when she was just a few weeks old. Her father has raised her and done a fairly good job but he has not dealt with his grief from the death of Clover’s mother. He is a little bit of a hoarder and has put all of Becky’s personal items into a bedroom, shut the door and they have stayed there for 12 years. Clover has decided to spend her summer vacation by going through all of those belongings, itemizing them and making them into a little bit of a museum showcasing her mother. She plans on doing this while her father is out of the house at work and she wants to find out what her mother was really like. Her father is reluctant to talk about her mother because he is still filled with grief and so she is hoping by discovering who her mother is she might be able to determine who she will grow into. There are other characters in the book that play fairly large roles, for example there is Becky’s brother who has mental health Issues, Clover’s grandfather, and a potential girlfriend for Clover’s dad. I gave this book A five star rating because it was well written, the story itself was very interesting, and all of the characters were extremely likable. The ending was fabulous and you just felt like you had spent several hours with some really nice people by the time I finished reading it.

Book Review – Esther the Wonderpig!

EstherI listened to this book in audiobook form and it was a really quick read. The basic premise of the story is that someone was trying to get rid of Esther, who was a baby pig at this point, because they had come to the realization that she was not a miniature pig but a commercial pig. They were not truthful to Steve and told him that she was a miniature and he agreed to take Esther because he had fallen in love with her at first sight. At Esther’s first vet visit, Steve was advised that there was a very good possibility that Esther was a commercial pig and could grow up to be 1000 pounds. By then however it was too late because Steve and Derek loved Esther. There is no doubt when reading this book you start to see animals as whole beings rather than just individual cuts of meat. Someone said to me a week or so ago when I was listening to this book that they were planning on having a pig roast where you cook a whole pig on a spit. My first thought was “you can’t cook Esther” and I was rather appalled by her plan. However, if she had just said to me “I’m thinking about having ham for supper tonight” I wouldn’t have had such a strong reaction. There is no doubt the reader will look at meat differently after reading this book. The stories that they told about Esther were very humourous and I give this book a four star rating.