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Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs

>> Friday, July 31, 2009

Genre: Mystery
Series: #3 in the Temperance Brennan series
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 368
Support Your Local Library Challenge #36, TBR 2009 Challenge Alternate #9

This is the third book in Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series. It’s a combination of medical and police procedural mystery. The TV show Bones is based on this series, but I have never watched the show although I do hear it’s a bit different than the books.

Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who splits her time between Montreal, Quebec where she works with the police and Charlotte North Carolina where she is a university professor. Yes, it seems strange, but it’s also similar to the author’s own background.

In this book Temperance gets involved in investigating a series of deaths connected to an ongoing war between rival outlaw motorcycle gangs. Both gang members and innocent bystanders are among the victims. Tempe finds herself looking into both current and past murders and also keeping an eye on her visiting nephew while at the same time learning much more than she wanted to know about the outlaw motorcycle gang culture.

I enjoyed this book. I liked how Tempe seemed a bit smarter about her own personal safety than in the first two books where she fell victim to the ‘smart heroine does stupid things’ syndrome. I enjoyed the investigation into the various cases, but frankly skimmed a bit when the detail (for example the blood spatter explanation) became a wee tad overdone. Tempe deals with remains that are typically more decomposed or damaged so there is a gruesome factor at times. Nevertheless, the story keeps moving at a good pace and I’m willing to overlook some minor quibbles for a story that holds my attention and keeps me entertained.

One thing I do wish Reichs would include in her books is an acronym glossary. She tends to explain the various government and police agency names once and then refer to them by acronym afterwards. I found myself paging back often to figure out an acronym.

Good medical and police story with a protagonist I’m liking more as the series progresses.

Rating: 4 stars


Southern Reading Challenge Completed

>> Thursday, July 30, 2009

I’d been holding off on calling this challenge complete just in case I managed to read another qualifying book before the end date. It looks like that’s not going to happen. I’ve read the 3 books required by the challenge so I’m moving this one to the completed column.

I look forward to
The Southern Reading Challenge every year and I’m very happy that Maggie brought it back for round 3 this year.

The rules were simple – 3 Southern books between May 15th and August 15th. I had listed five possibilities and I’ve read these three:

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson – I thought it was good, but I think I prefer the author’s first two books.

Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR’s Polio Haven by Susan Richards Shreve – this was a fascinating story about growing up in extremely unique circumstances.

Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs – another in the Tea Shop cozy mystery series that I return to on a regular basis for a chance to slow down a bit and revisit Charleston, SC.

Thanks again to Maggie. The two possibilities I haven’t read yet are already on my list for next years challenge!!


The Harry Potter Reading Challenge

>> Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So, the beautiful and talented Michelle at Galleysmith posted this:

Calling all muggles! Do you aspire to master the craft of wizardry or witchcraft? Well if so you can start your research here!

**waves wand**

Introducing The Harry Potter Reading Challenge

<> Dang all that awesome mist and fog is getting me all verklempt.

Anyway, the deets:

What: Read or listen to all seven books in the Harry Potter series
· Sorcerer’s Stone
· Chamber of Secrets
· Prisoner of Azkaban
· Goblet of Fire
· Order of the Pheonix
· Half-Blood Prince
· Deathly Hallows

When: The challenge will run from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010. I know we’re all busy with life and work and other such fun things so join up whenever you want, there are no deadlines to the challenge besides the end date above.

Where: E-to the Everywhere! Post reviews on your blog, chat about it on messageboards, post vlogs or podcasts, comment on and converse about it in the monthly post I create here on Galleysmith. It’s entirely up to you, as long as there is some evidence of your having completed each book along the way you are good to go.

How: Sign up to join in and play, cause you know….Harry would want you to and all!

Honestly, what self-respecting Harry Potter fan could resist that? I think it was the wand waving along with the mist and fog that sold me. Either that or she used some sort of charm along with all that wand waving.

Since I haven’t actually finished reading the series yet (I know, I know but it’s because I’ve been reading just before seeing the movies and keeping pace with them) I have to double up on a couple of the books.

My plan is first to read the last two books, then listen to the whole series from the beginning. I had planned for a long time now that when I finished reading the books I would listen to the audio version.. I’ve heard the fabulous Jim Dale read the Peter and the Startcatchers series and I’m definitely looking forward to having him read the Harry Potter series to me. This challenge gives me a great excuse to not only finish reading the last two books but to load up my ipod and enjoy the whole thing all over again.

If you’re still not interested in participating let me tempt you with the rest of Michelle’s post:

Party Gifts!!
I mean come on….what is a party like without gifts? So, over the course of the year there will be giveaways y’all. All things Harry Potter are game so keep an eye out to see what’s happening as we’re truckin’ along.

Since I want to start this party off in style I’m going to give away two Harry Potter box sets (one paperback and one hardcover)!

All you need to do is sign up to participate in the challenge by August 15th and I’ll draw two lucky winners at random to recieve all seven books! How’s that for incentive right?

So head on over to join challenge and immerse yourself in Harry's world for the first or eleventy-first time.


A World I Never Made by James LePore

>> Sunday, July 26, 2009

Genre: Suspense
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 262
Support Your Local Library Challenge #35

First of all, a great big Thank You to Literary Feline at
Musings of a Bookish Kitty for sparking my interest in this book with her review. I was initially disappointed that neither of my libraries had it, so I did submit a purchase request, but being my usual impatient self, went the interlibrary loan route. The interlibrary request process was quick and easy (thank you Washington County Cooperative Library System). Now that I’ve read the book, I’ve handed it to The Hubster so he can read it before it’s due back.

Pat Nolan arrives in Paris to claim his daughter’s body. The French police show him her suicide note, but the shock and disbelief have him stunned. Then he goes to the morgue to make the identification and is shown a body that he knows is not his daughter's. Quickly processing the few clues he has, he tells the police that the body is his daughter, even though he knows it is not.

What follows is a roller coaster of a ride through France, Morocco, The Czech Republic and many other parts of Europe and North Africa. Who is Megan Nolan? Is she the terrorist that the French Police seem to think she is? Is she the impetuous and independent free-lance journalist her father thinks she is? He hasn’t seen her in over a year and they’ve been pretty much estranged for many years, so does her father really know her?

Soon Pat Nolan and the French policewoman assigned to the case find themselves on their own and in danger. Saudi police, French intelligence agencies, the FBI, known terrorists as well as gypsies become part of the action. Interspersed with the current activities are flashbacks to the past year of Megan’s life telling her side of what led up to the current mess.

It’s a fast paced, suspenseful read. I enjoyed the story and ended up liking the main characters despite not liking them much at first. Lots of twists and turns kept me guessing and the story of a fairly current nature with terrorists and various national security concerns scooping up both innocent and not-so innocent bystanders was a nice change of pace from the typical murder mystery type of suspense story.

Rating 4.5/5


Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

>> Thursday, July 23, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 320
Challenges: None

I received this ARC from
Bookbrowse. I’d never heard of Dan Chaon but the book description intrigued me.

The book is a mix of three stories that at the beginning seem totally unconnected, but as you read, the connections start clicking and pretty soon you can’t put it down because you just have to find out how this all ends.

Miles is in search of his twin brother who he’s been trying to track down for years. He keeps getting mysterious calls or letters, but hasn’t been able to actually find him. Lucy is a recent high school graduate whose parents were tragically killed. She’s happy to be leaving a dead end life in her small Ohio town with her boyfriend who also is her former High School history teacher. Ryan was stunned to find out as a college student that the people he thought were his biological parents actually adopted him. He’s also happy to be leaving a life he sees as a series of lies behind him.

As the book opens these three people aren’t even in the same state. Their stories unfold in alternating chapters giving the reader clues here and there as to who is actually who in the stories. The question of identity is at the heart of this book. False identities and hidden truths abound. Pretty soon the characters and the reader are both questioning the true identity of everyone.

I liked this book a lot. I kept making guesses as to how it would all resolve and changing my mind. If you need a book with clear linear timelines or all the ends tightly wrapped up in a bow, stay away from this one. If you like a story of intrigue, deception and a bit of mystery and suspense, I recommend it highly. Although none of the main characters are truly likeable, the ever more involved web of story and timelines kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.

Rating 4/5


Audiobook – Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich

>> Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2005
Read by: Lorelei King

This was in fact my second time through for this book. I’ve read the books through Thirteen, but several years ago The Hubster and I started listening to this series on road trips. He enjoyed them while driving and I didn’t mind listening again since it had been a while since I’d read the books. I haven’t read the two most recent books and after listening again to Lorelei King’s wonderful reading, I think I’ll just stick with audio for this series from now on. They’re fun for freeway driving and it’s nice to have something to make us laugh along the way.

I had forgotten how much fun one was. In my mind this series is more of a sitcom in book version than it is a mystery series.

This time around Stephanie quits her bounty hunter job because she’s tired of the danger. Of course, the danger just continues and even though she’s not working for her cousin Vinny at the bond office, it’s Stephanie so things never go smoothly. She doesn’t have any trouble finding alternate employment; she just has trouble keeping it. She’s being stalked and cars blow up at a higher than normal (even for Stephanie) rate. The usual supporting cast is there helping and hindering things along the way.

The best part of this book though is the grandmothers. Joe's Grandma Bella, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur and a new addition – Mama Macaroni (and her mole) are all involved.

We laughed our way to Southern Oregon and back.

Rating: 4 stars


Audiobook – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 1943 (originally), 1989 (this edition)
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat

This is another book from that ‘classics I’ve never read’ list. For some reason I had it in my head that it was more of a kids book than it was adult fiction. Wrong. There are definitely adult themes here even though the main character is a young girl. What made me finally get this book from the library was the fact that it was read by Barbara Rosenblat who is one of my all time favorite audio book readers.

I enjoyed this book much more than I’d expected to. Francie Nolan is 11 years old when the book opens in 1912 Brooklyn. She and her family struggle make ends meet and find happiness despite their poverty. Along with Francie, the reader meets her strong willed mother and kind, but chronically unemployed and drunk father. Francie’s extended family includes her mother’s sisters and parents. Francie is a bright girl who has both her father’s dreaminess and her mother’s practicality and resilience. Through flashbacks the story goes back to when Francie’s parents met and fell in love and continues to when Francie is 17.

This is a wonderful coming of age story set in a time and place that is also coming of age. As Francie grows and loses her childhood innocence, the country also loses its innocence and is drawn into World War I.

I quickly grew to like and root for Francie. After all she’s the same kind of voracious reader I was at that age. Her mother and Aunt Sissy were also mostly likeable. Katie Nolan loves her daughter but is willing to admit to herself that she unfairly favors Francie’s younger brother Cornelius (Neeley). In some ways she knows it is because Francie has the strength that runs in the women of her family and will somehow manage to make it. I was certainly cheering for Francie to do so throughout the book.

I enjoyed this as an audio book and can highly recommend it as read by Barbara Rosenblat.

Rating: 4 stars.


Bookstores of Ashland, Oregon

>> Monday, July 20, 2009

Well, it was another weekend with little reading, but it wasn’t altogether literature-free. We headed south to Ashland for a weekend of plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, wine tasting, and just relaxing. Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Friday night we saw Much Ado About Nothing. This year’s production was fun and well done. We’d seen it here several years ago, but I think this year it’s better. One of my favorite actors in this company (David Kelly) played Benedick with just the right amount of charm and cynicism. There was one scene in the middle where purely with fabulous physical comedy and timing he had the audience rolling with laughter without uttering a word. Saturday night’s production of the rarely performed Henry VIII was also good, but we both decided that ultimately it was a gorgeous and well done production of what is definitely not one of Shakespeare’s better plays. Vilma Silva was fabulous as Katherine of Aragon.

We spent much of Saturday afternoon wandering around enjoying the atmosphere of Ashland. For a fairly small town, it’s got plenty of bookstores in the older part of town near the theaters without a chain in sight. I decided a visual tour of Ashland’s book stores was in order.

Rogue Books – the building that houses this used bookstore has an interesting history. Built in 1908 for Ashland Hose Company No. 2 it was originally home to two horse drawn fire engines. In 1945 it became Haskin’s Garage and was an engine repair and gas station until the owner died in 1976. After a stint as an annex for the Deluxe Awning Company, it is now a used bookstore.

The Book Exchange – another used bookstore

Shakespeare Books and Antiques

No longer the Blue Dragon Bookshop – it’s now Antiquarium Books and Antiques and appears to be more antiques than books these days.

Bloomsbury Books is one of my favorites in Ashland: Inside it’s crowded, but cozy with lots of wood, warm lighting and books.

Tree House Books is another favorite of mine – they specialize in kids books and a few toys.


Book Blogger Appreciation Week

>> Friday, July 17, 2009

I’m happydancing because I missed this event last year due to being out of town, but this year I get to join in on the fun. Even without participating, I benefited from those who did by discovering many new blogs and blogging buddies.

Amy at
My Friend Amy has announced the preliminaries leading up to this year’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week which will be September 14-18. Please go check out the blog and if you have a book blog, register and join in the fun.

Here’s what the BBAW site says about this:

Last year over 400 blogs came together to celebrate the art of book blogging during the first ever Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I am so pleased to announce that the second annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week will be taking place September 14-18.

WHO Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!

WHAT A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.

WHEN September 14-18, 2009

WHERE Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for
giveaways, and one for awards.)

WHY Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you!

There is a long list of awards to be presented – the nominations are open now so head on over and nominate your favorites. I’m working on mine, but need to think about it for a few days. Nominations won’t close until August 15th, but there’s a long category list to consider so take a look soon.

You don’t have to have a blog or register to submit nominations, so take a look at the nomination form and submit your favorites.


Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Genre: Mystery / Vampire
Series: #1 in the Sookie Stackhouse series
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 292
Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge #1

I was pretty sure I would enjoy this book and I did. I’ve had enough friends whose reading tastes I share say they thought these books were just fun, that I had already decided I wanted to read the series (or at least start it). I have to thank
BethFishReads for giving me a bit of a kick in the tush to actually pick up the first and get on with it, though.

When she started the Sookie Stackhouse reading challenge to read all 9 books in the series between now and the end of next June, I just had to join in. I may not read them all, but knowing I can space them out and not read back to back will help. I have a hard time reading too many of a series too close together.

Now that I’ve finished the first book I’m so very glad I did. It’s got a little bit of mystery, a little bit of romance, a little bit of vampires (and other ‘disabilities’ as Sookie describes her mindreading ablitty/curse) and also a little bit of southern charm.

Sookie is a small town bar waitress who would just love to meet an actual vampire now that they’ve ‘come out of the coffin’ and started co-existing with humans. Then, this vampire walks into her bar and well, things get complicated and quickly. Bill and Sookie seem to connect right away, but there’s that whole ‘he’s a vampire’ complication. Then, single young women in town start getting killed and that’s just the beginning of the further complications.

It’s just an intriguing and fun combination and I had a great time reading this book. Hope the rest of the series is just as fun.

Rating: 4/5


Why I didn't read much last weekend

>> Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It was our annual family get together at Dad's house in Trout Lake, Washington near Mount Adams. Lots of family, lots of food, lots of fun, but very little reading.

and one very tired dog . . .

It was pretty much a meat fest that included Beer butt chicken . . .

and my brother's famous driveway jambalaya (cast iron dutch oven with hot coals underneath and on top) . . .

The backyard of the B&B we stayed at in town.

Diego the B&B cat.

and a few more pictures just for the heck of it.


Three Years of Blogging

>> Sunday, July 12, 2009

Three years ago today I created a blog and posted my first post:

I'm not ready to really get started yet. I'm still deciding exactly what I want to accomplish here.Stay tuned . . .
Well it’s been a fun and interesting three years and this blog continues to change, evolve and develop, so maybe I’m still deciding exactly what I want to accomplish.

I’ve changed the title from Blogging My Books to Whimpulsive and also migrated to my own domain.

The title change was to reflect a couple of things – partly because I combined my crochet/knitting projects blog and a just for fun stuff blog into what had been a strictly books and books only blog. I’m still very much mostly about books here, but I do toss in the random non book post occasionally. That’s initially where the name change to Whimpulsive came in.

The second reason that Whimpulsive is a better title is something I talked about a couple of weeks ago. It’s that I’ve come to what is for me a good balance of scheduled reading (via challenges and ARCs) and more spontaneous “oh look! Something shiny!” whatever I want to read next whimpulsive reading. It’s really put a lot of joy back into my reading.

Another thing that puts a lot of joy back into my reading is all the great friends (cough cough ‘enablers’ cough cough) that I’ve met through this blog. I now have a great group of people that have expanded my reading horizons and continue to encourage me to read new books, read great old books, and just talk about books together.

So on this anniversary; I want to say “Thank YOU!!” to all of my readers. I’m looking forward to continuing to talk about books and life with all of you.


Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs

>> Friday, July 10, 2009

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: #6 in the Teashop Mystery series
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 289
Support Your Local Library Challenge #34, The Southern Reading Challenge #3, TBR 2009 Challenge #11

This is such an enjoyable series. Charleston, South Carolina, interesting information about tea, a heroine who is a smart businesswoman, secondary characters who are interesting and a bit quirky while still being intelligent all combine to make it a series I enjoy returning to about once a year. I think this was the best one of the series so far.

Theodosia Browning is a former advertising/PR person who gave up working for other people in order to open up a teashop in Charleston’s historic district. She’s assisted by master tea blender and slight fuddy duddy Drayton Conneley and the young pastry chef/part time student Hayley Parker.

As the book opens, Theo and Drayton are setting up for an outdoor “Poet’s Tea” at Charleston Heritage Society as part of Charleston’s annual Spoleto Festival. When a storm blows in they have to make a last minute change of venue and move everything inside to the main hall. Just as they’re finalizing the move and the program gets started, things take a sudden turn for even worse when the body of local auction house owner Roger Crispin falls from the balcony and lands on Theo’s serving table in the middle of the cake.

Of course, Theo can’t resist doing a bit of investigating herself when a new friend appears to be the prime suspect. Once again she assists (bothers) detective Burt Tidwell of the Charleston police.

As I said, I think this was the best of this series yet. They always make me want to curl up with some new tea I haven’t tried. The books also always include recipes for some of the yummy treats mentioned as well as suggestions and interesting information about tea.

Rating: 3.5/5


The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

>> Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Genre: YA Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 213
Support Your Local Library Challenge #33

This is a book that is so good, yet because of the nature of the story, difficult to read. It’s well worth getting over the difficulty because once you start; you won’t want to put it down. Fortunately it is a very quick read.

Kyra is thirteen and lives with her family in a compound somewhere unspecified but implied to be a desert area in the US. Kyra’s family consists of her father, his three wives and their combined 21 children and two more on the way. They are members of The Chosen Ones; a polygamous cult living isolated from mainstream society. When the Prophet declares that Kyra is to become the seventh wife of her sixty year old uncle, Kyra can hardly believe it. She wonders if it’s her punishment for secretly getting books from the bookmobile that passes nearby on a regular basis. Books other than the bible are not allowed. Perhaps it is because she’s been secretly meeting a boy she hoped would choose her for his wife. No matter why, Kyra knows that she doesn’t want to go through with this marriage. Can it be stopped? What will happen to her or the rest of her family if she disobeys? I can’t say more without giving away the story.

Some of what happens in this story is truly frightening and heartbreaking. Told by Kyra, it sometimes jumps around a bit like any thirteen year old telling a story would do, but the pace builds to a finale that just begs to be read without interruption. Kyra is naïve and sheltered, yet at the same time she’s wise beyond her years. What’s saddest for me is to think that there are likely young girls out there somewhere today dealing with the same issues that Kyra is coping with.

It’s a well-written, fascinating book and I highly recommend it.

Rating 4.5/5


In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

>> Monday, July 6, 2009

Genre: Memoir
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 313
Support Your Local Library Challenge #32

Neil White was a journalist and magazine publisher who let his desire to appear successful in order to be successful cause his downfall. Sentenced to 18 months in prison for check kiting, he found himself at a minimum security prison in Carville. Louisiana. What he didn’t know until after he arrived was that the Carville facility was also a medical center for patients with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). This unique facility housed both prisoners who were outcasts due to their deeds and people who had lived there for decades as outcasts due to their disease.

White’s memoir is told in a rather conversational style that makes for easy and quick reading. He intersperses his story of his time at Carville with his own history that led to his incarceration as well as the history of the facility and many of the patients he met while there. There are touching and tragic stories and even many humorous tales of both patients and inmates. Obviously it’s a memoir, so the focus is on White, but the additional stories of other people are interesting, although not fully explored.

At the beginning of what turned out to be a year of incarceration White definitely comes across as a bit arrogant and not really sorry for what he’s done. His change in attitude about both himself and others makes for an interesting and entertaining read.

I thought it was good and am planning to renew this or get it again from the library so The Hubster can read it.



Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

>> Friday, July 3, 2009

Genre: Fiction/ Gothic Suspense
Publication Date: 1938
Pages: 410
Support Your Local Library Challenge #31

I’ve had this book on my TBR list for what seems like forever. Thanks to My Friend Amy and the Summer of Hitchcock. I had to finally get it from the library and read it before we watch the movie in early August.

Oh I’m so glad I finally read this. It’s gothic, it’s suspenseful, it’s fabulous. All the great elements are there: big old family house, potentially dangerous sea, possibly evil housekeeper, more secrets than you can shake a stick at. Fun, danger, mystery and just a great read.

Rebecca is dead, but her presence is the constant throughout the book. Her successor as the second Mrs. De Winter doesn’t even get a first name. When she meets and marries the much older Maxim de Winter, our narrator knows his first wife is dead, but she also knows he keeps his past tightly wrapped and hidden. When she arrives at his ancestral family home, the beautiful and imposing Manderly she soon finds that the memory of the first Mrs. de Winter is a constant and possibly malevolent presence. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper and longtime maid for Rebecca is a great character. She’s scary, devious and potentially evil.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and was pleasantly surprised that the plot twists were truly surprises to me. It’s not like one of those classics where I knew the twists even before I started. I almost wish a sequel was hiding out there somewhere, though. There were a lot of storylines I felt were kind of dropped. I keep asking myself ‘but whatever happened to ----------?”

Rating 4.5/5


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