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Short Story Monday – “The Time Before the Last” and “No One” by Marcus Sakey

>> Monday, October 31, 2011

Two more from an interesting short story collection.

“The Time Before the Last” and “No One” by Marcus Sakey
Part of a collection of seven stories available as an ebook Scar Tissue: Seven Stories of Love and Wounds
No One and a few others in the collection are also available individually
Published: 2010

I’m enjoying both the variety and the common themes in the stories in this collection.

In The Time Before the Last , Sakey takes on the challenge of extremely short fiction. This story is only 25 words long. I read it, thought about it, read it again and then just sat and absorbed the entirety of the story. Is it complete without the title? Probably, but the title really adds meaning that makes the story that much more of an emotional experience.

In No One, a young man starts out typing his thoughts to an anonymous website. At first his story seems to be regrets about a relationship that fell apart, but as he continues it turns out to be much more complicated.

Each story in this collection is prefaced by an explanation of the circumstances and reasons behind it and whether it was for some particular project or theme collection. It makes for interesting background to the stories themselves.

This collection of stories has been a great way to read more and different styles from an author who was already a favorite of mine.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update: October 30, 2011

>> Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

I haven’t finished a thing. I’m still reading the same things I started last week.

The book I’m reading is The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev. It's a fascinating biography of a fascinating woman. Catarina Sforza was an Italian Noblewoman in the late 15th and early 16th century who was an amazingly astute player of the political games of the era.

I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (read by Wil Wheaton) as my current audiobook, selection. I’m through 3 of the 13 CDs and so far can highly recommend this to anyone who lived through the 1980’s.

My current short story collection is one by Marcus Sakey called Scar Tissue: Seven Stories of Love and Wounds. I like the way he introduces each story with telling a bit about the background of the story such as when and why he wrote it. It's a nice addition to the stories and I'm enjoying having a bit of background on them.

Other than books and reading:

I started a new knitting class this week. It’s a fun class because we all got to pick our own projects. The instructor limited the number of students because she wanted everyone to have the freedom to do whatever they wanted to work on but still be able to help everyone. I’m enjoying the format a lot because even listening to the instructor help another student on a totally different project is good information.

This will eventually be a baby sweater.
yarn for baby sweater

New on my shelves and lists:

The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi
 The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi
This one is all SKrishna’s fault. She was mentioning on Twitter the other day that she was learning a lot about wine from a graphic novel. That got my interest and then she went on to say that it was also a Japanese manga book. Having never read any graphic novels nor any manga I became even more intrigued. The more information I found about this first in a series the more interested I got. Luckily my nearby Powell’s had a copy in stock. I’m really looking forward to a bit of a reading adventure.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Audiobook – Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

>> Friday, October 28, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Genre: Humor, Satire
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Publication Date: 2011
Read by: Libba Bray
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A plane carrying teen beauty queens crashes on a not so deserted island and both survival and hilarity ensue.

Why I Read It:
I probably would have never read this book but after hearing so many of my bookish twitter friends talk about how much they enjoyed the audio version I couldn’t resist getting it from the library

The Book:
A plane carrying contestants for the Miss Teen Dream pageant crash lands on an island. Only a small group of the contestants survive. Initially their difficulties are with each other. Some want to focus on survival and other want to continue to practice for the pageant. It only gets more absurd from there but in a hilarious way.

Beauty Queens, Evil Corporation, Mercenaries, a giant snake, Pirates, a crazy Presidential candidate, a crazy third world dictator, commercials, footnotes, contestant profiles all add up to fun.

From the publisher:
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"- like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

My Thoughts:
I really didn’t quite know what to expect going into this one but I ended up getting a lot of funny looks from other drivers on the road as I sat in my car all alone laughing out loud.

This audio is funny, absurd, touching, ridiculous and celebratory all at the same time. LIbba Bray does a wonderful job of narrating it. She gives the many characters distinctive voices and accents and most of them are overdone into the realm of caricature but for this book, it works. Everything about this is ridiculous but at the same time entertaining as heck.

Despite the absurdity and characters that in many cases don’t move beyond the ‘type’ they represent there’s sharp satire, and a message of empowerment that the girls learn. The craziness and the message manage to alternate in a way that keeps either one from going too far. Just when the message gets a little heavy, something silly pulls it back to humor and just when the humor can’t get any more over the top the scene shifts and one of characters is discovering they are stronger or capable of much more than anyone ever expected them to be.

Bray takes no prisoners. Her sharp satire takes on reality television, cosmetics and feminine products companies, societal expectations for young women, politicians, big corporations, pageant culture, and pretty much everything media related.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and have already told The Hubster about it and added it to his audiobook queue.

Rating 4/5

SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.


Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Ones with Ghosts

>> Thursday, October 27, 2011

Confessions of a Serial Reader

Although I’m not nearly as into the whole Halloween thing as some folks are, it seems like a good time to take a look at the series that I read that feature ghosts. It turns out that there are two of them and in neither case is the ghost anything spooky or creepy. Once again I don’t quite get properly into the Halloween theme. So, allow me to introduce you to a couple of entertaining ghosts.

Aunt Dimity from the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton

"When I learned of Aunt Dimity's death, I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she'd been alive."
--from Aunt Dimity’s Death

Aunt Dimity is not really Lori Shepherd's aunt. In fact Lori thought that Aunt Dimity was a character her mother had made up. Lori not only finds out that Aunt Dimity was really a good friend of her mother's, but also that Dimity has passed away and left her house in a small village in England to Lori.

It turns out that Dimity herself wants to communicate with Lori. Although she never appears in the books in person or in spectral form, she manages to be very much a character. Lori finds an old blue journal in the cottage and when she opens it handwriting appears. This is how Dimity talks to Lori.

Dimity is a wise woman who lived an interesting life. Every book seems to add a bit to Dimity's history and it often goes back to the days of World War II when Dimity and Lori's mother became friends.

The ongoing stories in the series are of Lori and her family as well as a few recurring neighbors in the village. Lori can drive me nuts sometimes but most cozy mystery protagonists do at some time or another. I like returning to this series every once in a while just for a dose of cozy and cute.

JItty from the Sarah Booth Delaney series by Carolyn Haines

The ghost in this series is one of my all time favorite characters.

Set in a small town in Mississippi, Dahlia House is the ancestral home of Sarah Booth Delaney's family. Sarah has returned home after giving up on an acting career in New York but the cost of keeping up the family home is proving to be tough.

There's someone else living at Dahlia House, though. The problem is that she died in 1904. Jitty is a sassy entertaining ghost who can nag Sarah and cause more trouble that some living folks can. When Jitty was alive, she was the nanny for Sarah's Great Great Grandmother. Jitty needs to help Sarah keep Dahlia House because having the house stay in the family is the only way Jitty can stick around.

This leads to some hilarious conversations and interactions. Although Jitty is often a little too concerned with getting Sarah to produce a Delaney heir, she's still a crackup. You never know how Jitty will appear. What Sarah will see Jitty wearing will often depend on Jitty's mood or motivations. It can be anything from any era, whether or not was alive at that time. Jitty's 1960's era phase was hilarious.

Aunt Dimity and Jitty are some of my favorite ghosts. They are so different but both are fun in their own way. Dimity is wise, gentle and comforting. Jitty is sassy, funny and a snappy dresser.

Both of these series are light and fun and worth a try.

What about you? What series do you read that feature some unusual characters?


Wordless Wednesday #108

>> Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Future Socks

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

>> Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

Genre: Paranormal/Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 378
Source: Copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
Rebuilding his life after a crash, a former airline pilot and his family move to a small town in New Hampshire where the living residents are nearly as creepy as the ghosts in the basement.

Why I Read It:
I enjoyed Bohjalian’s The Buffalo Soldier and this one seemed like a good ghostly story that would fit the season.

The Book:
Chip Linton was a pilot for a small regional airline. When he’s forced to try to land his damaged plane he’s sure he can re-create Sully Sullenberger’s successful Hudson River water landing. Unfortunately Chip isn’t as successful and the crash leaves 39 passengers and crew dead.

When Chip and his wife Emily move to New Hampshire with their ten year old twin girls they hope to rebuild their lives away from the publicity and find their way to a peaceful normal life. They move into an old Victorian home that they later learn has a bit of a past. There’s a mysterious door in the dark dirt floored basement that attracts Chip’s curiosity. It’s sealed shut with 39 carriage bolts and it doesn’t escape Chip’s attention that that the same number of people who died in his ill-fated attempt to land his plane in Lake Champlain.

Before long Chip is haunted by his past while Emily and the twins attract the attention of a group of herbalists in town. The attention of these people becomes increasingly odd and disturbing. What’s not certain however is who the greater threat to the family is – the locals in town or the ghosts in the basement?

My Thoughts:
This was a dark, moody and suspenseful ghostly book that reminded me at several different points of some of my favorite horror and thriller favorites from many years ago. At various times I found myself remembering The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, The Shining by Stephen King, and Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. These are some of my favorite books and I liked how Bohjalian was able to remind me of them yet keep his story completely different than any of them.

At times this is a ghost story with Chip struggling to deal with his survivor’s guilt and PTSD. At the same time it’s also the story of the increasingly creepy inhabitants of the town of Bethel. As the motivations of the local group of herbalists became more and more clear the story began to take a completely different path than what I originally expected, while at the same time not dismissing the initial storyline focused on Chip.

The gradual building of both major storylines was well done and created a increasingly tense atmosphere. I wasn’t totally sure how it would all play out until the final pages.

There were a few elements that didn’t quite work for me but they are minor quibbles and ultimately didn’t keep me from enjoying the creepiness of this paranormal and psychological thriller.

Rating 4/5


Short Story Monday – “As Breathing” and “Gravity and Need” by Marcus Sakey

>> Monday, October 24, 2011

Two more from a collection of seven short stories by an author who is one of my favorites.

“As Breathing” and “Gravity and Need” by Marcus Sakey
Part of a collection of seven stories available as an ebook Scar Tissue: Seven Stories of Love and Wounds
This stoies and a few others in the collection are also available individually
Published: 2010

I’m continuing my way through this collection and focusing on two stories today.

In As Breathing, a hit man who has decided to stop killing decides to do one last job. He tells the story of his current job and also why he opted to take it on. As a man for whom this work is, like playing pool, as natural as breathing such a decision is not an easy one to make or change.

In Gravity and Need a couple whose passion for each other and for life on the edge are tested.
After you have sex with a total stranger on top of a three-thousand dollar television, what you’re supposed to
do is zip up, exchange fake numbers, and never see each other again.

We went for Thai.

There are a couple of things I’m really enjoying about this collection. It’s accurately subtitled as Stories of Love and Wounds. In each of the three stories I’ve read so far that characters are both passionate yet wounded and in cases the wounds are a result of that passion. Strong emotions and action that in some cases has me holding my breath between pages pack a lot into these short stories.

I like the way that each story is prefaced by a bit of history. Sakey tells about how the story came to be. The backgrounds are interesting and add to my enjoyment of the stories.

The style is beginning to have a familiar flow that works well to put a lot of story and background into a small number of pages. Sakey describes it well in the preface to As Breathing:
a format that has become my go-to for short stories: brief blocks of text that leap around in time and setting, each contributing to the larger tale.

I like this format and I’m eager to read the remaining four stories soon.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update: October 23, 2011

>> Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

I didn’t do a Weekend Update last week because I was out of town and then this week turned into one of those too busy to sit down except when too tired to even pick up a book weeks. As a result I’ve taken an inadvertent week off from the blog other than Wednesday’s photo. That works out well since I also took an inadvertent week off from finishing any books until last Friday.

I finished Chris Bohjalian’s The Night Strangers. This was an interesting ghostly story that had elements of and reminded me of several of my favorite spooky reads and horror books from over the years. I’m still reading Marcus Sakey’s short story collection Scar Tissue: Seven Stories of Love and Wounds. If all goes as planned today I’ll be talking about a couple of those on tomorrow’s Short Story Monday post. I've started The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev. It's about Catarina Sforza who was an Italian Noblewoman who took on Cesare Borgia when hardly anyone else had the guts to do so.

I also finished the audio of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I am so glad I paid attention to my bookish twitter friends who recommended this audiobook. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The biting satire, humor and excellent reading by the author were a great combination. I was telling The Hubster yesterday that when he finishes his current project of listening to the Harry Potter series (he’s currently halftway through Order of the Phoenix) this will be in his audiobook queue. I’m not sure what he’ll think but when I was trying to tell him about it yesterday he said it sounded fun.

I’ve barely started Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (read by Wil Wheaton) as my new audiobook, but I’m enjoying it already.

Other than books and reading:

The reason didn’t post an update last weekend was that I was out of town. I went to Atlanta to spend a long weekend with some dear friends. We came from four different directions and met in Atlanta. It was a wonderful weekend of relaxing and chatting punctuated with trips to a couple of restaurants associated with some of our favorite Top Chef contestants.

The dining highlight of the weekend was dinner at Woodfire Grill. Kevin Gillespie is one of my all time favorite Top Chef contestants and is the co-owner and executive chef. It was truly an amazing meal in a fabulous atmosphere. Ben Stiller at the next table was an added interesting bonus. My fellow Top Chef fans will get a kick out of what is on the wall in the Women’s restroom at Woodfire Grill:
Kevin's picture
click on the photos for a larger version

It was a whirlwind of a weekend capped off by a great sunset and view of the Pacific Northwest Mountains as we landed in Portland.

Sunset at 36,000 feet
Sunset at 36,000 feet

Mt. St. Helens on the left, Mt. Adams on the right and Mt. Rainier barely visible in between.
Mountains from the plane

I did manage to accomplish something and made some good progress on a scarf I’m making. I’ll probably end up giving this one away, but I wanted to try this pattern out. Eventually I’m going to make this for myself in red as a reminder of The Night Circus.

New on my shelves and lists:

I’ve kind of lost track of what’s been added to my TBR list in the past couple of weeks but I did add this one this week.

Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
 Before the Poison by Peter Robinson
I’ve been a fan of Robinson’s Inspector Banks series for several years and while I’m still somewhere in the middle of that series, I’m looking forward to this standalone that will be released in the US in February.

I checked my status for the What’s in a Name 4 challenge and I need to get busy so I have this one out from the library.

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil by Nancy Atherton
 Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil by Nancy Atherton
It’s my next book in a cozy series I enjoy and it counts for that challenge too.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Wordless Wednesday #107

>> Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Covered Bridge
Smyrna, Georgia

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

>> Friday, October 14, 2011

The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Fiction
Series: #12 in the Cedar Cove Series
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 283
Source: Copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
The final book in the Cedar Cove series is both a nice holiday book and a fitting finale to a series.

Why I Read It:
I have been a loyal reader of this and the Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber over the years and wanted to spend one last visit with the folks I’ve gotten to know in Cedar Cove.

The Book
The Cedar Cove series has followed several families of characters over the years. This time around the main focus of the story is Beth Morehouse.

From the Publisher:

The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.
But…someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she’s determined to place in good homes. That’s complication #1. And #2 is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth’s long-divorced husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads.
As always in life-and in Cedar Cove-there are surprises, too. More than one family’s going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending!

My Thoughts:
I felt this was a fitting finale to this series. I know that Debbie Macomber likes to do a Christmas themed book every year and I liked that she ended this series with one. Of course I knew going in that it would all turn out for the best for everyone involved but it was a great revisit and wrap up of the series.

The basketful of abandoned puppies were a great way to visit all of the families and characters that have been part of the previous books in the series. As each of the puppies is adopted by a now familiar Cedar Cove family, it provides a chance to catch up and reflect back on the events that were part of whatever book in which they were the focus.

Sure it’s contrived and hokey but it fits with this series and gives a nice way to virtually take a tour through town and see what’s up with old friends.

Aside from the puppy adoptions there is also Beth’s story.While the outcome of her college aged daughters attempts to reunite their parents is totally predictable, there are some humorous moments along the way.
It’s a pleasant combination of feel good holiday story and final tour and check in with some favorite characters. It’s a series I’ve enjoyed and some characters that I’ll miss.

Rating 3/5


I finally finished something for me

>> Thursday, October 13, 2011

This is a lap throw that I started for myself, oh about three years ago (if not longer). I would have finished it a long time ago but my friends, my friends kids and various other people kept having babies who needed afghans. I found myself putting this aside in favor of something for someone else that had a deadline.

It's finally done!! And I love it. It's the perfect size and weight for when I need something to keep me warm when I'm curled up in my chair with a book.

 click on the photos to see larger images

Yarn - Lion Brand Wool-Ease
Color - Wheat
Pattern - Crochet Textured Throw I did make one alteration to the pattern with the border. The border in the pattern was a fairly thin scalloped edging. I thought the pattern was substantial enough to need a more substantial border so I did two rounds of double crochet followed by one of single crochet.

I'm looking forward to being able to curl up with this as the weather gets cooler.


Wordless Wednesday #106

>> Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunset Wave
Yachats, Oregon

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


Short Story Monday – The Days When You Were Anything Else by Marcus Sakey

>> Monday, October 10, 2011

This is the first in a collection of seven short stories by one of my favorite mystery/suspense authors.

The Days When You Were Anything Else by Marcus Sakey
Part of a collection of seven stories available as an ebook Scar Tissue: Seven Stories of Love and Wounds
This story and a few others in the collection are also available individually
Published: 2010

I have enjoyed all of the suspense books by Marcus Sakey that I’ve read so far. I’ve heard good things about this collection of his short stories also. I’ll be featuring them here on Mondays over the next few weeks.

In The Days When You Were Anything Else, Frank tells his story of the lengths he’ll go to in order to protect the daughter who now despises him yet still keeps in touch. She calls him every few months and he hangs onto that connection even though she usually tells him that all her troubles are his fault. He admits that it’s probably true, but as long as she’s still calling him he has hope. Can he leave his past behind or would that also mean leaving his daughter behind for good?

I liked the way this story played out. Frank’s history is told in mostly flashbacks over a fairly short number of pages yet is nevertheless fully told. When someone shows up at the bar where he works with the locket his daughter wore the anguish of his dilemma is palpable.

I’m looking forward to reading more of these stories from one of my favorite authors.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update: October 9, 2011

>> Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend Update
This week: I finished A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. It was a tough read in many places but Jaycee told her own story. I needed to follow that up with something light so I finished 1225 Christmas Tree Lane. It’s the final book in Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series. She likes to do holiday themed books and this one is an appropriate finale to a series I have enjoyed for several years.

I started reading Chris Bohjalian’s The Night Strangers. A ghostly story always feels like a good thing to add into the reading mix this time of year. I’ve only read one other of his books (The Buffalo Soldier) and liked it a lot. I’ve heard good things about this new one. I did hear that it starts with a plane crash so I decided I’d better get it read now before I get on a plane later this week.

I am still enjoying the heck out of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray as my current audiobook. The author reads it herself and it’s just a fun read for my driving around time. I hope I can finish it up this week but that may or may not happen.

Other than books and reading:

I finished the main part of the throw I’m crocheting for myself. I’m working on the border now. I’ll wait to post a full photo until I’m done, but in the meantime here’s a look at what the pattern and yarn look like.
Throw pattern detail

On Tuesday it seemed that the world was tuned into the Apple announcement to find out the details of the new iPhone. I didn’t care one little bit about the phone I was waiting for information on any changes to the iPod Nano. I have a couple of iPods but my old first generation iPod Nano is the one that I use for audiobooks. Music and podcasts live on my iPod touch. My nano is still going strong but it’s not the greatest for when I want to listen to a book while out walking. I hate the armbands so I end up carrying it in one hand. Besides, one of these days it’s going to quit working and I’ll be very sad. I decided I want to get a newer nano because they are so small and come with a clip so I can easily clip it to my shirt. My focus on the Apple announcements on Tuesday was because I’d heard that new 7th generation nano was on the way. I needed to know if it would still have the clip because if it didn’t I planned to buy a 6th generation model while they were still available.

So Tuesday I weeded through all the iPhone chatter to discover that not only does the 7th generation iPod nano still have the clip, it’s also cheaper (insert happydancing). A couple of other features make this new model perfect for me for when I use it for walking. It’s got a pedometer that works with the Nike+ system without needing the shoe tag. Even better is the mono audio option. It routes the audio so that I can hear both channels of it even through one ear-bud. This is a safety issue for me because when I’m out walking I never have my headphones plugged into both ears. I need to be able to hear cars and perhaps more importantly bicyclists coming up behind me so I only use one ear-bud on my walks. This will be nice for when I do choose to listen to music while walking. So yes, I ordered one and it’ll be delivered tomorrow or Tuesday.

New on my shelves and lists:

I didn’t add any new books to my shelves or my TBR list this week. I organized the review books I have and figured out what’s due and when. I also looked at what I still needed to read for the What’s in Name 4 challenge and moved those up near the top of the list.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Hangin' With Howie

>> Saturday, October 8, 2011

He loves the plant shelf by the stairway

Howie on the plant shelf

particularly when he's too sleepy to go all the way upstairs.


A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

>> Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Stolen Life by Jaycee DugardA Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 273
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Jaycee Dugard tells her own story of her abduction at age eleven and the following eighteen years of her captivity and abuse by her kidnapper.

Why I Read It:
When Jaycee was found and the story of her years of abuse and captivity began to come out it was both horrifying and fascinating. When I read that she’d done this memoir without a ghostwriter I wanted to read her story as she told it herself.

The Book:
From the inside flap:

In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don't think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

My Thoughts:
I knew going in that this was Jaycee’s own story without the potential tabloid drama that can be added to a story like this with some ghostwriters or co-authors. On the other hand I also know that she’s not a professional writer and because of that I didn’t have high expectations of the writing but I still wanted to read Jaycee’s story.

As far as her story goes, yes it’s horrifying. The things that this eleven year old girl had to endure were so difficult to read that I seriously considered setting the book aside and not continuing to read. That she endured and survived is amazing. She freely admits that she’s still recovering from everything she’s been through and is still learning to be an independent adult and make up for the childhood that was stolen from her. It’s raw and brutally honest in ways that are both awful and a testament to this young woman’s strength and determination.

Yes it’s clearly not written by a professional writer. In many ways it’s very simply written and childlike. This is probably to be expected from someone whose normal life ended at age eleven. Her extensive stories and focus on the many cats she had over the years intensify the childlike feel of the way she tells her story.

As Jaycee says in the opening Author’s Note:
I’m not the average storyteller . . .I’m me . . . and my experience is very uncommon. Yes, I jump around with tangents, but that’s sometimes the way my mind works. If you want a less confusing story, come back to me in ten years from now when I sort it all out!

Rating 3/5


Wordless Wednesday #105

>> Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Clouds at Nye Beach
Newport, Oregon

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Short Story Monday – Two more from Dear Mr. Holmes by Steve Hockensmith

>> Monday, October 3, 2011

This is such a fun collection of 7 short stories about two old west cowboys who are inspired by the stories of Sherlock Holmes that they read in magazines.

Dear Mr. Holmes: Seven Holmes on the Range MysteriesThe Devils Acre and Greetings from Purgatory by Steve Hockensmith
Part of a collection published as Dear Mr. Holmes: Seven Holmes on the Range Mysteries
Published: 2011

These are the final two of the seven stories in this collection and I can definitely recommend this as an introduction to Steve Hockensmith’s old west detectives Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer (also known as Gustav and Otto). After finishing up these stories I’m looking forward to reading the full length novels that feature the brothers.

In The Devils Acre, Otto (Big Red) Amlingmeyer writes to a publishing company to which he’s already submitted a book. He has a new story for them to consider. It’s about a time when he and his brother Old Red ended up nearly broke and jobless in San Francisco. Their adventure in the Barbary Coast section of town turns out to be both dangerous and humorous. This has one of the funniest bar fight scenes I’ve ever read.

In Greetings from Purgatory, the brothers are on a train headed from San Francisco to San Marcos, Texas. For reasons not detailed in this story they are averse to taking a direct Southern Pacific train so they hop on the cheapest local out of Oakland. Further complicating the trip is Old Red’s tendency to get motion sick on trains. Along the way they run into some troubles which end up explaining why they’re stuck in Purgatory (also known as Lovelock, Nevada) instead of San Marcos at the end of the tale.

I enjoyed the way that these two stories alluded to events that have obviously occurred in one or more of the Holmes on the Range books, without really giving too much away. If anything by the end of this collection of short stories I’m more eager than ever to start reading the books.

I highly recommend this collection as a way to get to know the Amlingmeyer brothers. I have a feeling they’ll have you on the lookout for the books soon. The combination of Old West stories with some Holmesian detective work is a fun and entertaining mix.

Short Story Mondays is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.


Weekend Update: October 2, 2011

>> Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Update
This week: I finished The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen this week. It was an interesting mix of light science fiction and contemporary suspense story. I also finished my current short story collection, Dear Mr. Holmes by Steve Hockensmith. I had a great time getting to know the Amlingmeyer brothers through these stories and will definitely be reading the novels that feature them. I haven’t decided which short stories I’ll read next. I’ve got a couple collections and a few individual stories in my stash to choose from.

I started reading A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. In all honesty I nearly put it aside yesterday because the things she was forced to endure are horrifying enough but then to consider that she was only eleven years old makes it even more difficult to read. Her simple raw telling of her story is punctuated by sections where she reflects back on what she’s just written. It’s definitely tough to read but her brutal honesty and strength to survive is powerful.

I am thoroughly enjoying the audiobook version of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. One good thing about having errands to do this afternoon is that I get the chance to listen to some more of this. The dark humor and totally unbelievable premise manage to work in ways that make me laugh out loud and the author’s perfectly sarcastic voice is what makes the audio a winner.

Where and When did I read in September

Domestic Violets – Present Day Washington DC and New York

You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl – Present Day (mostly) Wilmington, North Carolina

The Revisionists – Time undetermined but could be close to Present Day Washington DC – and also an unknown location in an unnamed time in the future.

Polar Shift – Present Day various locations on land and sea (also occasionally in sea)

Dear Mr. Holmes – Mid 1880’s various locations in the western United States.

Other than books and reading:

I’ve been making slow progress on the throw I’m crocheting for myself, but I’m waiting until it’s done to take pictures so you’ll just have to wait for the finished project.

Shadows always seem to catch my eye when they make interesting patterns or images. I took this with my phone the other day on the way back to my office with my morning coffee.

Added to my TBR List (To Be Read) this week:

Moab is my Washpot and The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry
Moab is My Washpot by Stephen FryThe Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry

I’ve enjoyed Stephen Fry in various formats over the years. This review of The Fry Chronicles at SassyMonkey Reads is what made me decide to hunt these down.

The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill
I’d seen this one an considered it before but Jenclair’s review convince me to add it to the list.

Purchased this week:

I didn’t buy anything again this week.

No change in the library stack either.
library stack

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


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