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May Photo a Day Challenge

>> Monday, April 30, 2012

I have had a blast participating in the April Photo a Day Challenge hosted by Chantelle at Fat Mum Slim. This has been my first month with this challenge and I’m officially signing up for the May challenge.

Every month Chantelle posts a list of subjects or prompts for each day of the month.

This is the list for May:

May Photo a Day

Are you ready for a month of photo-taking fun? I am and hope you are too! The hashtag for May is #photoadayMay

For those stumbling across this for the first time, this is a photo a day challenge. Each day you look at the list and there will be a prompt that corresponds with the date of the month. For example day one is peace, so for day one you'll take a photo of something around the peace {a peace sign, something that's peaceful in your life, you doing a peace sign with your hands etc}. You then share the photo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, your blog, Pinterest, Flickr or where ever you want to share it.

It's a fun way to be creative every day and it's so much to be part of. Anyone can play {even if you haven't played before}.

Here's how to share your photo:

INSTAGRAM: Upload your photo to Instagram, add a sweet filter and put #photoadayMay in the caption so others can see your photos {share to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr etc from Instagram if you like}

TWITTER: Upload your photo to Instagram, add some words to describe it and use the hashtag #photoadayMay so others can see your photos

FACEBOOK: Create an album titled something like, Photo a Day May, and make the album public, then upload your photos. It's a good idea to upload the list too so you can refer to it and others can see what you're doing. You can also share your photos on my Fat Mum Slim Facebook page. {Unfortunately I don't think people can tag my page in their photos.Facebook is being glitchy}.

PINTEREST: Upload your photos to a board, and use the hashtag#photoadayMay so that others can search for them.

BLOGS & TUMBLR: Upload your photos to your blog or Tumblr and share with the world.

FLICKR: Share your photos in the Photo a day group.

I choose to participate in this challenge using only photos from my phone. Between Instagram and a few other photo appilications I have lots of options for editing photos on my phone. I have enjoyed seeing what I can do using just my phone and apps.

If you’d like to check out my April photos they’re on my Tumblr blog at at Whimpulsiveness

What I have enjoyed about this challenge is that some of the daily prompts are easy and others make me think a bit. I’ve also enjoyed seeing the photos posted by my family and friends who are also participating in the challenge.

I hope you’ll check out my results over at Whimpulsiveness and would love to see more people I know participate. If you want to join in the fun head on over to this post and sign up.


Hangin' With Howie (and Abby)

>> Sunday, April 29, 2012

You see a convertible under a car cover.
We see a cat bed.

cats on car


Weekend Update April 28, 2012

>> Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout. This was my first encounter with Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin and it definitely won’t be my last. That’s what I love about the What’s in a Name Challenge. I can end up finding a gem of a book or series I might not have tried otherwise.

I read For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen this week. It’s part of the Molly Murphy series about an Irish immigrant who is trying to make it as a private investigator in turn of the century New York. It’s a fun series and interesting settings. I finished that one last night and haven’t decided what to read next. I’ve got several that are calling to me and will have to make a choice at some point this afternoon.

On audio I finished listening to My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley this one was tough for me. It’s one of my favorite narrators (Ralph Cosham) but the book itself wasn’t my cup of tea.

My new audiobook is The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. I was already in the historical mystery mood from reading the Molly Murphy book and I love Amelia Peabody so this one pushed itself to the top of my playlist. Barbara Rosenblat reads this one and while I adore her this particular audio production seems to have some oddly long pauses and her taking an audible deep breath before diving into a paragraph. It’s slightly distracting but not enough to keep me from enjoying the book and the rest of the audio.

Other than books and reading:
Last weekend was a little taste of summer and it was absolutely wonderful. I was able to spend some quality time reading on the porch and patio. We’re back to cooler weather and showers but it was a nice respite.

I started a new knitting class this week. I’ll be making my first ever garment for myself. It’s a simple t-shirt style sweater and I’m so happy with the way this Tahki Cotton Classic yarn is knitting up. This is my gauge swatch.
tahki cotton classic
My favorite teacher at my local yarn shop is teaching this class and it’s a good group. Now I just need to get busy and get to the right point in the sweater for the next class on Thursday.

Looking through my photos from this week . . .
This orange cone has been sitting next to this fire hydrant by my office building for at least three weeks.
hydrant and cone

I think it was left by the window washers. I’m kind of surprised it’s still there.

Anyway one day this week I turned the corner to the office and discovered that someone had done this.
In a very weird and unexpected way it just made my day.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


Audiobook – Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt

>> Friday, April 27, 2012

Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt

Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt

Genre: Mystery
Series: #8 in the Andy Carpenter Series
Publisher: Listen & Live Audio
Publication Date: 2009
Read by: Grover Gardner
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Andy Carpenter comes to the aid of a jailed former police dog and then the ex-cop who owns him.

Why I Read It:
This has been a longtime favorite series for me and it’s one I set out to catch up on in 2012.

The Book:
Billy Zimmerman is a former cop and Iraq war veteran who came home without a leg. That meant he couldn't return to his job as a cop. He did manage to reunite with his partner however. Milo is a German Shepherd who had reached the mandatory retirement age for police dogs and is now Billy's partner again. The trouble is that this time they are partners in crime as petty thieves.

One night outside a bar, Milo jumps to grab an envelope that two men are handing off and runs off with it. Shots are fired and one of the men is dead. The cops arrive to find Billy with the body who just happens to be his former superior officer.

Andy Carpenter gets involved when Billy asks him to get Milo out of police custody. Andy doesn't need the money and doesn't really like working but can't resist a dog in need. Billy could care less about the fact he's in jail for the murder, he's only concerned about Milo. Of course Andy ends up representing Billy and the case gets far more complicated than it first appears. A suicide bomber in Iraq, shady business dealings, military coverups, assassins working through a hit list are just part of the story.

Andy has some new team members this time around and Willie even takes a break from the dog rescue he runs with Andy to do some detective work before it's all over.

My Thoughts:
It's no secret that I'm a fan of David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series and now I'm a fan of the audiobook versions narrated by Grover Gardner. This is the second one that I've listened to and I can't imagine going back to the written versions. Grover Gardner captures the wiseass yet totally dog crazy goofiness of Andy. His characterizations of the other characters are good and I love his Marcus. The highlight of the audio experience in this one is the section where Andy goes on the Larry King show. You have to experience Grover Gardner's Larry King at least once in your life.

This series is as much fun as it is action and mystery. Heavier on the humor than a lot of mystery series, it's one I turn to when I need to just sit back and enjoy. Andy's new second chair this time around is the Eyore of lawyers. Hike is a funny counterpoint to Andy and fits right in with the cast of eccentrics in the series.

Despite the humor there's some serious aspects related to the treatment of disabled veterans and how easy it is for them to become forgotten and lost in and out of the system.

If you like your legal mysteries with a light touch and a lot of dogs you should give Andy Carpenter a try.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Confessions of a Serial Reader – The ones that are Historical Mysteries

>> Thursday, April 26, 2012

Confessions of a Serial Reader

This topic is timely because I'm currently in the middle of two books that fall in this category. I'm reading For the Love of Mike from the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen and I'm listening to The Ape Who Guards the Balance from the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. They take place at nearly the same time (early 1900's) in two very different parts of the world.

I consider something a historical mystery if it's set in a time period many years before when the book was written. Based on this definition Sherlock Holmes is not a historical mystery series because it was contemporary for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Here are a few of my favorite Historical Mystery series.

The Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen.
Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen
Molly Murphy is introduced in Murphy's Law when she commits a murder in self defense and is forced to flee her native Ireland. She arrives in New York in 1901 and soon finds herself in need of identifying another killer in order to clear her own name. She eventually goes to work for a private detective before deciding to become a detective herself. The turn of the century New York City setting is interesting and Molly uses both her wits and a lot of luck to make her way.

The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Amelia is a delightfully amusing Victorian Era heroine. At the beginning of the series she travels to Egypt in 1884. There she meets both her future husband and her career. Handsome and brilliant archaelolgist Radcliffe Emerson captures Amelia's heart but her love of archeology and excavations is nearly equal to what she feels for him.

I've never read these books in printed format. This is a series I read only via audiobook. The first few were narrated by Susan O'Malley but Barbara Rosenblat has read the rest brilliantly. They're entertaining and amusing. While some folks may not think so, I'd really recommend reading them in order. They take place over a long period of nearly annual expeditions to Egypt. The one I'm currently listening to takes place in 1907. Their family grows up throughout the series and it goes through at least 1922.

The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
This is one of the few series that I'm actually current and have read the most recent release.

Set in London between the World Wars it's as much a series about Maisie the detective as it is a well done portrait of the time and place. While I enjoy Maisie's story and the mysteries I also enjoy the way that Winspear portrays the social, economic and political issues of the time.

The Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith
Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
I haven't actually started reading the books in this series yet, but I have read a collection of short stories featuring the characters.

This series features Gustav and Otto Amlingmeyer who are a couple of old west cowboys. Finding thier inspiration in reading Sherlock Holmes they move from job to job as they build their "dedicifying" skills. An interesting setting and some gentle humor made the short stories quite enjoyable and I'm looking forward to starting the series.

What about you? Do you read any historical mystery series? Which would you recommend?


Wordless Wednesday #132

>> Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Circles by Nature's Compass
Pacific City, Oregon

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta

>> Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta

The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta

Genre: Mystery
Series: #4 in the Lincoln Perry series
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 311
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Lincoln Perry is hired by a convicted murder to solve the twelve-year old disappearance of a woman who ran a program for paroled criminals.

Why I Read It:
I have enjoyed all the previous books in the Lincoln Perry series and it was on my list to catch up with this year.

The Book:
Former cop and current private detective Lincoln Perry just doesn't have his heart in his job these days. He's marking time while his partner takes a break. When he's hired by a ex-con who was convicted of murder he's not really interested in the case. He just wants to get Parker Harrison off his back.

Lincoln is hired to find Alexandra Cantrell. She and her husband abandoned their fabulous home twelve years ago and haven't been seen since. Well Alexandra hasn't. Her husband's bones were found in a shallow grave. Parker Harrison knew the Cantrell's because he spent some time at their house as part of his release program. Alexandra built the house as a place to launch a program for ex-cons. Parker Harrison claims Alexandra Cantrell changed his life and he wants to find her.

Lincoln isn't convinced until he visits the abandoned house. Something there captures his attention and despite the fact that Alexandra is related to a local mafia family he ends up way more involved in this investigation than he ever intended to be.

My Thoughts:
I have always liked Lincoln Perry and his partner Joe. The previous book ended with things in a bit of an uncertain situation and Lincoln on his own. In this case Lincoln ends up with a temporary partner when another PI shows up who has been investigating this case for years and wants to work with Lincoln.

This book is partly about the mystery Lincoln is hired to investigate and partly about Lincoln’s motivation (or lack thereof) to continue in the PI business. He’s seen people he loved hurt and endangered because of his job. He’s just not sure he wants to continue that. Despite the mystery of who killed Joshua Cantrell and where Alexandra is, this is a very introspective book about Lincoln as he ponders his own future.

I liked the way that this book had elements of the standard PI story that made me like Lincoln Perry and Michael Koryta but that it also has little bits of the eerie suspense stuff that comes along in Koryta’s standalone thrillers. There’s just something about the unique home and Lincoln’s reaction to it that reminded me of moments in The Cypress House.

There was a lot more to this book than the primary mystery. Whether there will be another Lincoln Perry book, I don’t know. If there isn’t then this one is a worthy wrap up to the series. If there is I’ll be watching to be able to pre-order it.

Michael Koryta caught my attention with this series but unlike some authors he’s managed to make the transition to standalone suspense thrillers without losing me as a fan.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Weekend Update April 22, 2012

>> Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta. It’s the last (at least at this point) of his Lincoln Perry series. I’ll miss Lincoln but now I can catch up on Koryta’s standalone thrillers. I followed that up with a short book I had to read for a work project just to get that one done and our of the way.

I’ve started The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout. I’ve never read any of his Nero Wolfe series and this one lands somewhere in the middle of that long series. The reason I picked it up was that I needed a book with a ‘creepy-crawly’ in the title for the What’s in a Name 5 Challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads. She always manages to come up with one category that ends up being extra tough for me and this year it’s the creepy-crawly one. I ended up wandering the library shelves and The Golden Spiders caught my eye. I’ve never read any of the Nero Wolfe books nor watched any of the various television series but I’ve been aware of the Nero Wolfe for what seems like forever. I usually stick with reading series in order but from what I’ve found about this series it truly doesn’t matter.

I have to say that at the halfway point I’m enjoying this quite a bit. I have a feeling I’m going to be reading more of Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin.

As for audio, I’m still listening to My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley. I didn’t spend much time in the car this week so even though it’s short, I haven’t finished. I’ll be honest that I’m enjoying the narrator much more than the book itself. If it wasn’t Ralph Cosham reading, I probably wouldn’t’ finish it. There are the occasional gems in this memoir and they’re beautifully read by Cosham but for me they’re few and far between and the rest of the book is just not my cup of tea. I’m actually looking forward to finishing it and moving on.

I have no gratuitous cat photo this week but I did see this at Powell's the other day - it both amused and frightened me but I definitely did NOT buy it. I was afraid to even look through it.
cat hair book

Other than books and reading:
It’s been a pretty quiet week but I’ve been busy with both work and things that needed to get done at home. The weather turned nice for the weekend and it’s about time. The last time we had temps above 70 was in October. Nice to see sunshine and have it warm enough to read on the patio or porch.

It did get nice last weekend but not as warm. Nevertheless it was nice to see flowers blooming in the sunshine.

I’m still having a blast with the April Photo a Day Challenge. You can check those out over at Whimpulsiveness
yellow mum
This one was my favorite from this past week.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


Threat Warning by John Gilstrap

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012

Threat Warnng by John Gilstrap
Threat Warnng by John Gilstrap

Genre: Crime Fiction/ Thriller
Series: #3 in the Jonathan Grave series
Publisher: Pinnacle
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 323
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
What begins as an apparent random shooting spree soon turns into a kidnapping which puts free lance hostage rescue specialist Jonathan Grave and his team on a mission to rescue a mother and her young son.

Why I Read It:
I’ve enjoyed all of John Gilstrap’s suspense books but his series featuring Jonathan Grave and his team is are my favorites since his first book (Nathan’s Run) caught my attention.

The Book:
It begins with two shooters opening fire on a busy bridge during rush hour. One of the shooters commandeers a van and kidnaps the mother and her teenage son who are in it. At first the shooting seems like it may or may not be linked to another one in a different part of the country. When a horrific bombing occurs it seems like a series of terrorist attacks may be underway.

Jonathan Grave and his hostage rescue team who operate outside the limits imposed on law enforcement agencies are approached to attempt a rescue. The hostages are the wife and son of a former colleague from when Jonathan was a member of the Army Special Forces.

Tracking down the kidnappers is a challenge because they're doing everything they can to mislead the authorities about their true identities, location and purpose. The more the media jumps to the wrong conclusions the more the goals of the charismatic leader of the group become possible.

My Thoughts:
As with most of John Gilstrap's books, this one reads like an action movie. Jonathan Grave makes a great hero. He does what he does because the law enforcement agencies are crippled by rules and legalities that he feels get in the way of what should be the primary goal that of rescuing the hostages.

For Jonathan, the system doesn’t work because it takes too much time and he sees no reason to waste time building a legal case while the hostages are in danger.

Jonathan’s team members are also characters I enjoy. Venice back at home is the computer whiz and able to accomplish completely unrealistic feats of information gathering. I don’t care if it’s realistic though. It’s exciting and it’s fun for the same reason that I like to watch the occasional unrealistic action movie. Boxers served in the Special Forces with Jonathan and is fiercely loyal to him. He can fly pretty much any machine intended to fly. He’s also good a blowing stuff up. What’s a hostage rescue without an explosion or six?

Their job functions broke down roughly along the levels of violence required. Boxers was the breaker of things and the blaster of holes.

Gail is the newest member of the team and Jonathan’s love interest. Much of her storyline in this one revolves around Jonathan’s disregard for the legalities. This is something she’s having major issues with (she used to work for the FBI). Her struggles and the implications for both the success of the mission and the future of her relationship with Jonathan is a good thing to bring up at this point in the series. Jonathan continues to say he’s on the side of the angels without being on the wrong side. That’s still up for debate in Gail’s mind.

Want to read an action movie? Give this series a try.

4 stars Rating 4/5

This post is part of Heroes and Villains week Hosted Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts

Please note that Jen has said that people who leave comments on any Heroes and Villains post will be entered in a daily prize drawing.


Wordless Wednesday #131

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Evening Cherry Blossoms
Ashland, Oregon

Click on photo to view full size
For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


Heroes and Villains Theme Week - Who is Jonathan Grave

>> Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today I'm continuing with the Heroes and Villains Theme week hosted by Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts

Who is Jonathan Grave? To some he’s a hero. To others he’s a vigilante. Some would consider him a philanthropist if only they knew the truth. There are only a handful of people who know the real Jonathan Grave.

No Mercy by John GilstrapJohn Gilstrap has written three books and has a fourth one coming out in June featuring Jonathan Grave. The books focus on the semi-secret side of his successful security company. While Security Solutions is a completely legitimate company there is a behind closed doors side of the business that operates as a freelance hostage rescue team.

When he and his team are on a rescue mission he doesn’t feel obligated to follow the same rules and the law-enforcement organizations. For Jonathan and his team the goal is to get the hostage (precious cargo) out alive. Even one of his teammates has to admit that “during her days with the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the primary goal hadn’t truly been the liberation of the hostages. Rather, it had been to lawfully ensure that the bad guys did not get away, and that the legal case you built against them would withstand the scrutiny of the bad guys’ legal defense team.”

Hostage Zero by John GilstrapJonathan doesn’t let the legalities of building a case get in his way. “It never occurred to him to question whether a strategy for rescuing a good guy from a batch of bad guys might violate a law or two.”

Obviously the law-enforcement establishment doesn’t always agree with Jonathan’s methods even though they may be secretly applauding the results. The team has to accomplish their missions without getting mixed up with or caught by the cops or FBI when they’re working within the US. While the primary goal is always to retrieve the precious cargo, Jonathan has “ironclad rules against harming American law-enforcement personnel.”

How does a man get to be this kind of man and make his living this way?

Threat Warning by John GilstrapJonathan lived a privileged life. His father was a successful and wealthy businessman but his business was only a legitimate cover for his criminal activities. When it became clear that Simon Gravenow was headed to prison for the rest of his life he transferred all of his holdings to his son Jonathan. He didn’t expect his son to continue in his footsteps but he wanted to keep the wealth away from the government. Jonathan changed his last name to Grave and joined the army special forces. After his years in the military he turned the mansion that was his childhood home into a boarding school for children of incarcerated parents. Only a handful of people know that Jonathan is the source of the funding behind Resurrection House.

I like Jonathan Grave for just the contractions he embodies. Gilstrap has created a hero who has flaws and can be violent but also has generous and kind qualities.

Damage Control by John Gilstrap
In an article about the third book in the series (Threat Warning) Austin Camacho writes:
On the surface, Jonathan Grave is a private investigator but in fact he runs a covert company specializing in freelance hostage rescue. Gilstrap has created a fascinating character here, the son of a big-time criminal trying to do the right thing. When I asked if I’d want to invite Grave to my neighborhood barbecue, Gilstrap didn’t hesitate.
“Jonathan Grave is a great guy,” Gilstrap says. “An honorable guy. He could be your best friend. Or your worst enemy. He’s a gentleman and, at heart, a gentle man, but when violence is necessary, he won’t hesitate an instant to kill. How could you not want him at a party in your house?”

In a 2010 Bookreporter interview Gilstrap says
As wealthy as he is, Jonathan Grave has a huge hole in his life. He’s ashamed of his heritage as the son of a mobster, and, as we learned in NO MERCY, he’s ashamed of the mess he made of his marriage through his devotion to duty as a Special Forces operative. He craves family and lives to serve others. His community of Fisherman’s Cove, on Virginia’s Northern Neck, is a surrogate family of sorts. Resurrection House is his crowning achievement, built on the site of his childhood home, and funded from Jonathan’s very deep pockets.

Jonathan Grave is a man with a crystal clear sense of right and wrong, and an obsessive drive to help people who are in trouble. He happens to be wealthy, but his wealth has little to do with who he is. In fact, the money motivates him more in the other direction: It symbolizes what he will never allow himself to become.

He comes at his life from an interesting place. As a Special Forces operator, he spent the better part of two decades violating laws at the direction of the US government, performing missions that can never be publicized. As a civilian, he respects the rule of law in principle, but when individual statutes get in the way of him accomplishing his mission of saving a life, he easily pushes the law aside. It’s irrelevant to him. He tells people that he’s on the side of the angels; that while he may violate the law, he never really strays to the wrong side of it.

This is a series and a hero that both The Hubster and I enjoy. I hope you’ll get to know Jonathan Grave and his friends soon.

Please note that Jen has said that people who leave comments on any Heroes and Villains post will be entered in a daily prize drawing.


Heroes and Villains Theme Week - Featuring Jonathan Grave

>> Monday, April 16, 2012

Today is the official beginning of one of my favorite annual events. The amazing Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts hosts a Theme week every year that focuses on crime fiction. This year’s theme is Heroes and Villains.

The character I’ve chosen to feature this week is considered a hero by some and a villain by others. His name is Jonathan Grave and he’s featured in a series written by the highly talented John Gilstrap.

I first became a fan of John Gilstrap about twelve years ago when I read his first novel Nathan’s Run. This and his next several books were person or family in peril type thrillers. Although they were difficult to find I managed to hunt down copies and read all of them. For a long time there was no sign of a new book from Gilstrap and I wondered if there would be another one. He reappeared in the bookstores in 2009 with No Mercy. It was the first in a series featuring Hostage Rescue specialist Jonathan Grave.

I like Jonathan Grave, but he doesn’t exactly follow the rules. I’ll let his words to a rescued hostage tell a little more about the way he operates.

I work on the side of the angels, okay? I often find myself outside the law but never really on the wrong side of it. If people look at bad guys' bodies and see homicide, that doesn't change reality. My conscience is clean.

You think that the police are these efficiant do-gooders that you see on television. You think that they can chase bad guys with impunity, crash doors, and save the good guys. Well, that's not always true, because ridiculous rules get in the way. If i had to jump through all the hoops that police and prosecutors do to assemble the intelligence and put together a plan, you'd be dead now. And if they knew who I was, they'd put me in jail for saving you. Not because of the outcome, but because of the process.

There's a right way to do certain things. How many times have you heard people warn others about the dangers of 'taking the law into their own hands'? Everybody thinks that the police are the best investigators - until one of their own is taken, and they hear that threat to kill if anyone calls the police. After that, the law-abiding citizen crap goes out the window. When it's your own, you want action not process. That's precisely how I got involved. It was more important to your parents to bring you home than it was to construct a court case against your kidnappers.

I’ve reviewed the first two books in the series already. Those reviews can be read at the links below.

No Mercy by John Gilstrap
No Mercy
Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap
Hostage Zero

I have two more posts planned for this theme week. Tomorrow I’ll be talking more about Jonathan Grave and his history. I was able to find several interviews with John Gilstrap about his character and the series that I found interesting.

Threat Warning by John Gilstrap
Threat Warning
Damage Control by John Gilstrap
Damage Control

On Thursday I’ll have a review of the third book in the series Threat Warning. The next book Damage Control will be released in June so now is a great time to get to know Jonathan Grave and his team.

Please head over to Jen's Book Thoughts for the full scoop and links to posts by other participants in the Heroes and Villains Theme Week.

Please note that Jen has said that people who leave comments on any Heroes and Villains post will be entered in a daily prize drawing.


Weekend Update April 15, 2012

>> Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I’m still reading the 4th book in the Lincoln Perry series by Michael Koryta. It’s called The Silent Hour and while I’d expected to have it finished by now that just didn’t happen this week.

I finished listening to Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt and once again Grover Gardner’s reading was spot on. I’m definitely sticking with audio for the rest of this series.

We took a road trip to Southern Oregon last weekend and our road trip audiobook was Lottery by Patricia Wood. Since I’d already read and reviewed it I ‘interviewed’ The Hubster so he could review it this time. He was in a bit of a panic when I told him I was going to do that but I think he did a great job of reviewing it.

My current audiobook is My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley. This one was a gift from a friend who knows that I have a serious literary crush on Ralph Cosham who reads the book. I’m partway through this memoir of a man and his dog and while I’m admittedly not a big dog fan, I’m enjoying this memoir quite a bit. Apparently I’m not the only one because it’s up for an Audie Award in the Biography/Memoir category for 2012.

Other than books and reading:
We were in Southern Oregon last weekend. It was a quick trip but we managed to make it a busy 30 hours or so., We visited one of our favorite wineries (Edenvale)
Edenvale Winery

then stopped at the Harry & David store to pick up a few other local wines we can’t buy in Portland.

We saw Troilus and Cressida at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Neither of us had seen that one before. We’ll be back down there in August to see Henry V. We figured out that we’re only a few plays short of having seen the full canon of plays at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Next year we'll cross Cymbeline off that list. That will leave Pericles, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and Titus Andronicus. Some of them we’ve seen multiple times and it’s always interesting to see how the staging and direction can change the feel of a play.

Photos from this week's April Photo a Day challenge can be seen at Whimpulsiveness. I'm having a blast with this and I've already decided to continue into next month and indefinitely. I like how it's making me look at things differently and also playing with my phone camera more.

Browsing through other photos on my phone from this week and this happened . . .
Howie and Abby
I think Howie wanted to remind Abby that this was his kitty condo before it was hers. It didn't last long and she was back in residence pretty quickly.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


Audiobook – Lottery by Patricia Wood

>> Friday, April 13, 2012

Lottery by Patricia Wood

Lottery by Patricia Wood

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 2007
Read by: Paul Michael
Source: Library

I’m changing up the format a bit with this review because I have The Hubster as a guest reviewer. We listened to this book on a road trip to Southern Oregon last weekend. I read the book and loved it back in 2008. The Hubster hadn’t read it and I’ve heard from several bloggers I trust that the audio version is good. So I loaded it up on the iPod and didn’t tell The Hubster anything about it. Since I’ve already reviewed the book I’m turning the rest of this review over to him.

The Short Version:
A more realistic version of Forrest Gump.

Why I Read It:
Because my wife put it on the iPod for our road trip audio book.

The Book:
From the publisher:
Perry L. Crandall knows what it’s like to be an outsider. With an IQ of 76, he’s an easy mark. Before his grandmother died, she armed Perry well with what he’d need to know: the importance of words and writing things down, and how to play the lottery. Most important, she taught him whom to trust—a crucial lesson for Perry when he wins the multimillion-dollar jackpot. As his family descends, moving in on his fortune, his fate, and his few true friends, he has a lesson for them: never, ever underestimate Perry Crandall.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed it very much. I liked how the flashbacks to Perry’s earlier life were interjected into the present day story. That painted a more complete picture of him and how he came to be the person he is. I liked that the author made me want to know those things.

The other characters were all entertaining in different ways. Keith was probably the best friend that someone like Perry could have had. I thought it was interesting how beautiful Perry thought Cherry was despite the fact that the one time she was described it was not what you might think of as classic beauty.

Gary was always kind to and liked Perry. I found it interesting the way his relationship with Perry changed profoundly through the course of the story moving from protector to more of a equal.

The actions of Perry’s family were probably overdone but after all, they were the bad guys in the story.

Perry's reactions to the bad things that happened to him were such that they made me feel better. His lack of understanding and naïveté often helped him to move on without dwelling on the negative emotions. Instead he often focused on what his Gram would have been saying to him. He had great coping skills.

I thought it lacked some character development. I really wanted to know more about Keith and about how someone who was raised in Eastern Oregon learned to sail. I wasn't fully satisfied with the explanation of how Perry ended up being raised by his Grandparents. I wanted to know more about how that came to be perhaps from characters who knew more about it than Perry.

I really didn’t know anything about the book and missed the title and author in the opening credits because we were talking. At the end I was stunned to find out it was written by a woman. It was primarily male characters and the sailing aspect is something that I think of as more of an activity for men so the author being a woman came as a surprise.

About the audio production:
Perry was read slowly like someone with his IQ would probably speak. If I'd read this I would not have read it that way in my head. That made the audio version worthwhile to listen to because it made that characterization of Perry more complete. That did not make the audio production tiresome or tedious to hear at all. The narrator's character voices were differentiated enough to make them all distinct and the story moved along at an easy to listen to pace. I thought he did a very good job and he would be a narrator I'd be happy to listen to again.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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


Wordless Wednesday #130

>> Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Evening in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


The Hangman by Louise Penny

>> Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hangman by Louise Penny
The Hangman by Louise Penny

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Grass Roots Press
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 87
Source: Library

The Short Version:
A simple but still enjoyable Inspector Gamache story written for a program promoting adult literacy.

Why I Read It:
I would probably read a bus schedule if Louise Penny wrote it. Once I found out this novella existed I had to see if my library could get it for me.

The Book:
This is a simply written story written for a specific purpose. As noted on Louise Penny’s website:

It's written as part of a programme called GoodReads Canada, which was created by national literacy organizations to publish books aimed at emerging adult readers. So, THE HANGMAN is written at a grade 3 level, for adults. Very clear, very simple. Not really the most complex plot or style, for obvious reasons.

What is it about? From the publisher:
On a cold November morning, a jogger runs through the woods in the peaceful Quebec village of Three Pines. On his run, he finds a dead man hanging from a tree. The dead man was a guest at the local Inn and Spa. He might have been looking for peace and quiet, but something else found him. Something horrible. Did the man take his own life? Or was he murdered? Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the crime scene. As Gamache follows the trail of clues, he opens a door into the past. And he learns the true reason why the man came to Three Pines.

My Thoughts:
I knew before I got my hands on it that this would be a quick read and it made for an enjoyable lunchtime story. When I found out it existed I decided that if my library could get it I would read it but I wouldn’t pursue it any further than that. Well my library is outstanding and I had an interlibrary loan copy in my hand within a matter of days.

Yes it’s a very simply written story but it’s still got the charm and interest of any other Inspector Gamache book. Even in the simpler language it’s a well done mystery. It’s actually a good introduction to a handful of characters from the series and gives a taste of what the rest of the books are like.

Inspector Gamache is just as charming at a simpler reading level but I fully admit to a literary crush on him.

I love the reason for the story’s existence. It’s tough to get non reading adults into the habit without adult stories. I hope the program was successful and that folks who read this story were inspired to read more of the series. For the reason the story was written I think it’s well done and my rating is based on that. It's simplified language and writing but not and oversimplified story.

Check with your library. If you’re a fan of the series it’s a fun read if you can get your hands on a copy.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Weekend Update April 7, 2012

>> Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:
I finished Threat Warning by John Gilstrap. Both The Hubster and I enjoy this series. I’ll be featuring the series during the upcoming Heroes and Villains Crime Fiction Theme Week coming up April 16-20. It’s hosted by the Amazing Jen from Jen’s Book Thoughts and if you’re a crime fiction fan you need to be keeping up with her and the plans for the theme week.

I finally got around to reading The Giver by Lois Lowry which has been languishing on my TBR list for years. I was a little worried because SO MANY people love this book but I was pleasantly surprised and liked it quite a bit.

I’ve started the 4th book in the Lincoln Perry series by Michael Koryta. It’s called The Silent Hour and it’s very good so far. Some of the suspense elements that he does so well in his standalone books are clearly evident in this one.

On audio, I’m on the last cd of Dog Tags by David Rosenfelt. I’ll finish it up next week.

This weekend we’re on a road trip so our audiobook we’re listening to together is Lottery by Patricia Wood. I’ve already read it in print and loved it. I’ve heard that the audio version is good so I have it loaded on the ipod for our drive time. The Hubster hasn’t read it so I think I’m going to get his input as a first timer with the book when I do the post about the audio edition. I think I scared him when I told him I was going to interview him for the blog post but he’ll come around.

Other than books and reading:
I’m having fun with the April Photo a Day challenge (check them out at Whimpulsiveness). I happy to see several of my friends both online and in person are joining in on this.

I rewarded myself for surviving a stressful week by stopping at my little local yarn shop yesterday afternoon and signing up for a couple of classes.

These are the things I’ll be attempting to make:

Scoop neck tee
Scoop Neck Tee

Lacy Sample Scarf

Checking the iphone photos for the week:

My brother gave me a rose for my birthday last week and it was one that opened up just beautifully. I clearly need to take more photos of flowers with my iphone. This one is worth clicking on to view the bigger image.

And I can’t leave you without the gratuitous Abby photo of the week.
Bedhead Abby

Hope you’re having a great weekend.


The Giver by Lois Lowry

>> Friday, April 6, 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 180

The Short Version:
Jonas is an almost twelve year old in what appears to be a near perfect community but his life assignment leads to him learning the long protected secrets that make that apparent perfection possible.

Why I Read It:
It’s been on my TBR list for ages and the timing finally felt right.

The Book:
Since I'm one of the last people I know to have read this book I'm going to go with the descriptions from Lois Lowry's website

"It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened."
Thus opens this haunting novel in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life.

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man -the man called only the Giver -he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

My Thoughts:
I knew going into this book that most people I know who have read it have rated it quite highly. I've had it on my TBR list for ages but never really felt compelled to read it. I finally decided that now was the time.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked this book. I liked it a lot!. After reading a handful of Young Adult novels that fall into the Dystopia or Negative Utopia realm, I'd begun to feel burned out on the genre. Maybe that's part of the reason this one has been languishing on my library wish list for so long.

Reading it now was excellent timing for me. I needed a change of pace/ genre and I needed something that was a pretty quick read and this book fit those requirements.

Although this is a short book and a quick read it's definitely thought provoking. Jonas's world appears to be rather safe and pleasant but a bit rigid and personality free. War and hatred don't exist, but to make that happen there are strict rules that govern every element of life. Precise use of language is highly important and choice seems to have been eliminated. Adult roles are assigned to twelve year olds by the Elders.

Jonas's assignment to be the receiver of the community’s collective memories gradually reveals the dark truths behind the pleasant facade of life. Although much of what is revealed to Jonas did not feel surprising to me, I enjoyed the way that it played out. The way that The Giver gradually revealed things to Jonas through memories was interesting and allowed the revealing to happen in bits and pieces.

It's a book that I highly recommend for all ages of readers. It's definitely one that is thought and discussion provoking.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5


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