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Confessions of a Serial Reader – The Ones We Both Read

>> Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Confessions of a Serial Reader

I’m the gatekeeper for the TBR stacks and lists at our house. The Hubster and I have similar taste in books. In fact, when we were first dating one browse of his bookshelves told me that we’d get along just fine. I read faster than he does so I’m almost always the one bringing new books into our household. I read faster and more than he does so our habit has been for me to pass along book I think he’ll like. He tells people that he never has to shop for books. He just looks at the stack on his dresser or the ‘books you might like’ shelf I keep updated for him on his nook.

Because he does read significantly fewer books than I do I only pass along the best of what I think he’ll like and limit any new series to the very best. There are several series we’ve both been reading since before we got married but since then I’ve learned to only give him the best of what I think he’ll like because he’ll never get to all of them

The series we’ve both completed:

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I had him listen to the first book when we were on a road trip (it was a re-read for me) and he was hooked. He read the other two shortly after I finished them.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer
We started reading the books about the same time and in fact he read Goblet of Fire before I did. He never read any after Goblet of Fire and said he was reluctant to pick them up again after so long because he’d want to start over but read too slow to do that. This year we watched the entire movie series and while watching, I continually pointed out things that were left out of the movies. . I finally convinced him to listen to the series from the beginning on his commute. He did and enjoyed it. Since then he’s decided he likes listening to audiobooks beyond just when we’re on road trips together

The series we’re both still reading:

The Dirk Pitt series and The Kurt Austin series by Clive Cussler and a variety of co-authors:
Mediterranean Caper by Clive CusslerSerpent by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos
We both started the Dirk Pitt series before we met and have since both started the Kurt Austin series. I have recently switched to listening to these series and currently I’m listening to a Dirk Pitt book and The Hubster is somewhere in the middle of a Kurt Austin book. We both enjoy Scott Brick’s performance of these adventure stories.

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher
Killing Floor by Lee Child
Reacher is just freaking awesome. That is all.

Tim Dorsey’s Serge Storms series
Florida Roadkill by Tim Dorsey
I continue to use the same description for this series as I did when I wrote my post about the first one. It’s like Pulp Fiction takes Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through Florida. Craziness in a completely fun way.

David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
A smartmouth private investigator with the best dog that ever lived. Add in a few fun secondary characters and some decent mysteries and you have the perfect formula for books we’ll both like. I have the next one in my audio queue so we may be transitioning from print to audio with this series.

Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series
The Monkey
Elvis has the smartmouth PI style of Andy Carpenter and Joe is scarier version of Jack Reacher. There’s no dog but Elvis does have a cat who lives with him.

James Thompson’s Kari Vaara series
Snow Angels by James Thompson
This was The Hubster’s introduction to Nordic Crime fiction and he liked the first one enough to read the second immediately afterwards. Now we’re both waiting for the third book to be released in March.

Chelsea Cain's Archie and Gretchen series
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
We both read Chelsea Cain’s column in the local paper long before we read her books. They’re rather gruesome but the local inside stuff and locations make them weirdly fun for us.

James Patterson’s Alex Cross series
Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
We both like these for the same reason. Sometimes you just need an entertaining story that you know will be a fast paced and go quickly. The short chapters are perfect for those attention deficient reading moods.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
We both read the first couple of these last year and want to read more. Neither one of us can believe we haven’t read them yet,

What about you? Do you have any particular series that both you and your partner read?


Weekend Update January 29, 2012

>> Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Update

Since my last update:

Another busy week but I did manage to get a little bit of reading done.

I finished Start Shooting by Charlie Newton and I also read The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. I enjoyed both of them.

I’m currently in the middle of Pronto by Elmore Leonard. It’s the first of his books that feature Raylan Givens, now played by Timothy Olyphant on TV in Justified. This is my first Elmore Leonard book and the Raylan in the book is very much as portrayed on TV.

Yes, I’m still listening to The Treasure of Khan by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler. I only listen when I’m in the car by myself so it takes me a while to get through some longer books. I’m enjoying the typical Cussler adventure story in this one.

I'm still plugging this year's Mystery Theme week. Hope you'll join the fun by checking in at Jen’s Book Thoughts and signing up for this year’s Mystery Theme Week. It’s going to be the week of April 16-20 and the theme this year is “Heroes and Villains”. I’ve participated in her theme week for the past two years and I can promise you that Jen does an amazing job of putting together a week of fun for all. I’d love to have you join in the fun this year.

Other than books and reading:

I finished the hat I was making for my friend’s baby boy.
football hatfootball hat

I thought the pattern was cute when I first saw it but then I saw the finished hat on him and just melted.

A few random photos from my week:

Took this one of the Pioneer Courthouse downtown while I was walking around after work on Wednesday. It was lovely to have a break from the rain on the day I had downtown errands to do.
Pioneer Courthouse

Yesterday was just a beautiful afternoon. We went up to Council Crest (highest point in Portland) to see what the view looked like. There wasn't enough wind to totally clear out he hazy clouds but it was still a pretty day,
Portland from Council Crest

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

>> Friday, January 27, 2012

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 129
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The story of a group of Japanese women who came to the US in the early 1900’s as “picture brides” and settled in California through their internment during World War II.

Why I Read It:
When Meghan at Medieval Bookworm was talking about this book on Twitter one day I became intrigued and requested it from the library. There was quite a long list of hold requests already but it was worth the wait.

The Book:
This is the story of many women without being the story of a single particular character. It’s all told in collective first person voice and although there are moments and scenes of particular women it’s a collective story.

Beginning with their sea voyage to San Francisco the women who came as “picture brides” begin to share their histories of why they’re doing this and their speculations about their future husbands based on the letters and photos they have. When they arrive they learn that the pictures and letters have in many cases not provided an accurate prediction of what their lives will be like.

Their struggles to create lives with and sometimes in spite of their husbands and the societal prejudices show their strength. As farmers, domestic workers, shop owners, or whatever they need to do they make their way. Most of them stay in California. They try to retain their Japanese culture even as their children become more American than Japanese. After Pearl Harbor everything changes for the Japanese Americans in the Western US. The order for them to be evacuated and detained in internment camps is a sad piece of our history that makes this book quite haunting.

My Thoughts:
Growing up on the west coast I’ve heard all my life about the evacuation and internment of the Japanese Americans. I’ve read a few books and stories over the years so this one caught my attention when Meghan mentioned it. I’m so glad she did because I thought this was a beautifully written book that despite its short length tells many stories in a powerful way.

The collective first person voice is unusual and took some getting used to but I loved the way it allowed the story to not be limited to a handful of characters. It also creates a lyrical story told as through a chorus. I loved the way that she managed to touch on so many different emotions in such a short book. There was sadness, laughter, love, pain, anxiety and so much more. The writing was beautiful and I could easily have marked passages on nearly every page that I wanted to pause and absorb again.

Here are a few I found by just randomly flipping through the book:

On the boat we sometimes lay awake for hours in the swaying damp darkness of the hold, filled with longing and dread, and wondered how we would last another three weeks.

They admired us for our strong backs and nimble hands. Our stamina. Our discipline. Our docile dispositions. Our unusual ability to tolerate the heat, which on summer days in the melon fields of Brawley could reach 120 degrees.

We gave birth in Rialto by the light of a kerosene lantern on top of an old silk quilt we had brought over with us in our trunk from Japan. It still had my mother’s smell.

Soon we could barely recognize them. They were taller than we were and heavier. They were loud beyond belief. I feel like a duck that’s hatched goose’s eggs. They preferred their own company to ours and pretended not to understand a word that we said.

In the newspapers, and on the radio we began to hear talk of mass removals.

I highly recommend this book. It didn’t take me long to read but it will stick with me for a long time.

5 Rating 5/5

While not the same kind of mail order marriage as portrayed in this book here is a link to a story about a family from Oregon and how the internment changed their lives. Their daughter was not allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies from the University of Oregon but finally received her diploma in 1986. The Yasui Legacy


Wordless Wednesday #119

>> Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flamingos don't like snow


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Start Shooting by Charlie Newton

>> Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Start Shooting by Charlie Newton

Start Shooting by Charlie Newton

Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 305
Source: Copy Provided by Publisher

The Short Version:
A murder from 25 years ago comes back to haunt a Chicago cop and the victim's sister as they’re both caught up in a maze of corruption, political maneuvering and trouble that’s bigger than either of them expects.

Why I Read It:
When Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts says to me, “I think you’ll like this one” I almost automatically add it to my TBR list. She’s got great taste in books and she’s also become familiar with the types of books I like. When you have a friend like that you trust their opinion more than the average review.

The Book:
Because this book is complex and has multiple intertwining storylines it’s difficult for me to attempt to put together a coherent synopsis without inadvertently getting all spoilery. When that happens I fall back on using the publishers comments.

“The best way I can describe the Four Corners neighborhood of Chicago is find a length of rebar, scratch a big cross into the concrete, set your feet solid in the quadrant you like best, lean back, and start shooting.”
Officer Bobby Vargas is hard-edged but idealistic, a Chicago cop who stands at the epicenter of a subterranean plot that will have horrific ramifications for both himself and the entire city. Twenty-five years earlier, a gruesome murder rocked the unforgiving streets of Four Corners. Now, suddenly, a dying Chicago paper is running a serial exposé on new evidence in that old case, threatening to implicate Bobby and his older brother, Ruben—a decorated, high-ranking detective and cop-prince of the streets. The smear campaign stirs up decades-old bad blood, leading the Vargas brothers down an increasingly twisted and terrifying path, where the sins of the past threaten to destroy what remains of the truth.
As readers and critics discovered in his first novel, Calumet City, Charlie Newton’s Chicago is a landscape as brutal and poignant as any in modern crime fiction—a multi-faceted, shockingly violent labyrinth of gangland politics, political backstabbing, corporate malfeasance, and, possibly, hope. Start Shooting is a riveting read.

My Thoughts:
Well Jen was right. I did like this one. I liked it quite a bit actually. The story is told alternately by Bobby Vargas and by Arleen Brennan in the first person. Their voices are unique and the pacing of the narrative comes in short bursts. The time stamps when the scene changes provide the framework to be able to place yourself in the story’s timeline. Since both Bobby and Arleen interact with Bobby’s brother Ruben as well as several other characters the two viewpoints round out the character of Ruben despite the fact that Ruben never directly tells his own part of the story.

It’s fast paced but complex so even though it started out quick and drew me in right away, it was not until I was well into the book that things started coming together for me. There were a couple of points where I wasn’t sure where things were going and whether I’d end up liking it or not but the final third of the book was hard for me to take breaks from because I wanted to finish it in one sitting.

I have not read Newton’s previous novel, Calumet City but I have now added it to my TBR list. This is an author I’ll be watching. If you like gritty noir style cop stories you should do the same.

Someone needs to give Quentin Tarantino a copy of this book. It reads like one of his films and he would make a great film version of this.

4 Rating 4/5


Hangin' with Howie

>> Sunday, January 22, 2012

Got my mouse. Got my laser pointer.


Life is good.


Weekend Update January 20, 2012

>> Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

What happened to this week? Suddenly it’s Saturday again and I’m still reading and listening to the same books I was on Sunday. No I’m not in anything that could be termed a reading ‘slump’. I’m just being attacked by several To Do lists at the same time. Tomorrow is looking promising as a day to indulge myself with reading time.

I’m nearly done with Start Shooting by Charlie Newton. I should finish it up today. The closer I get to the end of this one, the more exciting it gets. Well done Mr. Newton!

I’m still listening to The Treasure of Khan by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler. This has been a typical Dirk Pitt adventure story and I enjoy Scott Brick’s performance of this series just as much as I enjoyed listening to him read my most recent book from Cussler’s Kurt Austin series. I’ve got The Hubster listening to that one now.

If you’re a mystery fan, please check in over at Jen’s Book Thoughts and consider signing up for this year’s Mystery Theme Week. It’s going to be the week of April 16-20 and the theme this year is “Heroes and Villains”. I’ve participated in her theme week for the past two years and I can promise you that Jen does an amazing job of putting together a week of fun for all. I’d love to have you join in the fun this year.

Other than books and reading:

I’ve been busy. Between work and just stuff I need to do at home I feel like the To Do lists are growing as fast as I can check things off. When the chance comes along to relax a bit with some reading time or catching up with shows on the DVR I fully appreciate it these days.

Let’s see, this week we’ve had snow, rain, windstorms and flooding. That upcoming vacation to Mexico is looking very good these days.

Taking a look at the iPhone photos from this week . . .

Howie was all excited to go outside on Sunday morning but he was not a fan of getting snowed on so he just sat on the porch pillar and grumped about it.
Howie is not a fan of snow

Sometimes waiting for my train in the rain is actually kind of pretty. I love the way this part of downtown looks.
Here comes my train

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Wordless Wednesday #118

>> Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good thing I filled the birdfeeder

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Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap

>> Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap
Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap

Genre: Suspense
Series: #2 in the Jonathan Grave series
Publisher: Pinnacle
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 368
Source: Purchased

The Short Version:
Hostage rescue specialist Jonathan Grave and his team are back only this time it’s personal.

Why I Read It:
I’ve been a fan of John Gilstrap ever since I read his first book (Nathan’s Run). Last year I read the first of his Jonathan Grave books (No Mercy) and purchased this second book even before I finished the first.

The Book:
Jonathan Grave doesn’t work for the income because he doesn’t need it. In fact he works to help rescue hostages partly because of the fact that his father was a corrupt businessman who finagled a way to leave his money to Jonathan before he was sent to prison. Wanting to distance himself from that money Jonathan used it to fund a foundation and boarding school called Resurrection House for children whose parents are incarcerated.

In this edition of the series two boys are kidnapped from Resurrection House. Jonathan and his hostage rescue team have more personal incentive and no payment on the line this time around. One of the boys is left for dead but found and saved by a homeless veteran. The other boy is still missing.

The Security Solutions team consists of Jonathan, his longtime friend called Boxers who provides more muscle, demolitions expertise and piloting skills than words, and back in the home office a computer expert named Venice but nicknamed “Mother” by Jonathan. As they investigate the kidnapping and follow the maze of leads they discover that they have a valuable asset in the homeless man and a case that’s going to get extremely complicated and dangerous before it’s over. Will they find the missing boy in time and see that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice?

My Thoughts:
I enjoy the recurring characters in this series. The banter between the members of the team provides the expected occasional humor and sarcasm but it’s not overdone or forced the way it can sometimes be in series like this. It’s there but it doesn’t interrupt the flow or the tension as the suspense builds.

The case takes many interesting and dangerous turns along the way. There are some storylines that initially seem disconnected but it all begins to converge. The reasons behind the kidnapping gradually become clear. There is plenty of action and yes stuff gets blown up (rather spectacularly I might add). Legalities are really more of guideline actually.

If you enjoyed Preston and Child’s Gideon’s Sword, I heartily encourage you to give this series a try. Jonathan Grave and his team are fun and interesting and the stories are exciting and suspenseful. I've already got the third book in this series waiting to be read.

4 Rating 4/5


Weekend Update January 15, 2012

>> Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

I finished reading Before the Poison by Peter Robinson. It was excellent. Keep an eye out because it’s coming out next month and you should put it on your list to watch out for.

I started reading Start Shooting by Charlie Newton. Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts recommended this one and she was right. It caught my attention right off the bat. I’m hoping to be able to spend some quality time with it today.

I’m still listening to The Treasure of Khan by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler. I’m a convert to listening to Cusslers books instead of reading them Scott Brick is a great narrator and these adventure stories are great for my driving around town listening.

Other than books and reading:

Last weekend was our annual family get-together in Hood River to celebrate Dad’s birthday. It was a pretty day to drive through the Columbia Gorge.
near Multnomah Falls

There were a lot of low clouds but blue sky above. I could have easily stopped many times to take some photos. I did manage to get a couple along the way.
Columbia River

It was cold but clear this week which made for some pretty sunrises and sunsets.
Mt. St. Helens from my office

After a rough week it was nice to have a chance for some fun yesterday. Jenn from Jenn’s Bookshelves was in town and we had a chance to get together to enjoy some time to chat and enjoy some good wine before she headed back home. I always enjoy meeting up with bloggers I’ve known for a long time.It was great to meet Jenn and have a chance to enjoy a nice chat.

I happened by this chess game in progress at Director Park in downtown Portland on my way to meet Jenn.
Chess game

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


Audiobook – A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

>> Friday, January 13, 2012

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

Genre: Mystery
Series: #7 in the Inspector Armand Gamache series
Publisher: MacMilllan Audio
Publication Date: 2011
Read by: Ralph Cosham
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The focus of the series moves back to Three Pines when a body if found in Peter and Clara Morrow’s garden the morning after the party celebrating Clara’s first solo art show.

Why I Read It:
I have enjoyed listening to this series from the first book. The only bad part about reading this latest one is that now I have to wait so long for the next book.

The Book:
Clara Morrow’s first solo exhibition brings together many returning characters from earlier books in this series. It’s a new character however, who is found dead in the Clara’s flowerbed the next morning. The victim was Lillian Dyson who had a connection to Clara and to Clara’s husband, Peter. She also had connections to many other people that were in Three Pines that night.

As Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team return to Three Pines to investigate they find themselves including people who have become friends in the list of potential suspects. They also find themselves continuing to deal with the aftermath and ramifications of the horrifying events that took place a few months ago. Those events are a major part of the previous book, Bury Your Dead, so I’m not going to say more here. If you have read Bury Your Dead you can be assured that the storylines in that book do continue to progress in this book.

The case of Lillian Dyson tests Gamache and his team and also tests Peter and Clara Morrow. There are truths about their past as well as truths about their relationship and professional lives that must be faced. The secrets are many and the answers are few, but do include the answer to who killed Lillian Dyson. That and some of the other developments in this series may surprise you.

My Thoughts:
I’m going to say it again. This series is continuing to get better with every book. I loved the way that ongoing storylines progressed while at the same time the central case of this particular book is fully addressed withing the book. While some books in this series can stand on their own, I do not recommend reading this one unless you’ve at least read both The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead.

I highly recommend the audio version of this series. I admit I’m biased because I’ve listened to all of them. They’re probably just as wonderful if you read them but the audio versions have made me a huge fan of both Lousie Pennny for her writing talent and of Ralph Cosham for his audio performance talent. To me he is Inspector Gamache.

I enjoyed the murder mystery in this one. The road the investigation took was interesting and there were some surprises along the way. I like a mystery that makes me change my mind about who the murder might be several times along the way. At the same time I also thoroughly enjoyed the continuing stories of the now familiar characters in Three Pines and in Inspector Gamache’s team. There are some serious wounds for some of these characters at this point and their ongoing stories are one of the reasons I enjoy this series so much. I have come to know Peter and Clara Morrow as well as Olivier and Gabri who run the Bistro and the B&B. Gamache’s assistant Jean Guy Beauvoir has become one of my favorite characters. The struggles he’s faced in the recent books are becoming more and more involved and one of my favorite parts ot this series.

Ruth the prickly poet is also one of my very favorite characters and the image the author paints of her at the end of this book was a beautiful moment.

If you’ve read the previous books in this series you will enjoy this one just as much or more than the others. If you haven’t read this series I encourage you to give it a shot and I also recommend the audio versions as read by the amazing Ralph Cosham.

Rating 4.5/5

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


Wordless Wednesday #118

>> Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Low Clouds
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

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1222 by Anne Holt

>> Monday, January 9, 2012

1222 by Anne Holt

1222 by Anne Holt

Genre: Crime Fiction
Series: #8 in the Hanne Wilhelmses series (but also the first to be released in the US)
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 322
Source: Copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
A Locked Room style mystery in which a group of people trapped in a hotel by a storm deal with the tension of their cabin fever as well as the unknown murderer in their midst.

Why I Read It:
The description of the book caught my eye and I jumped at the opportunity to read the first release from what sounded like my kind of series. This is actually the eighth book in a series originally published in Norway but it’s the first to be translated to English and released in the US.

The Book:
The story opens with a train derailment high in the Norwegian mountains. Luckily only one person died in the derailment. Even luckier the accident happened close enough to a winter resort hotel that the passengers are able to have shelter there until while the worst storm in many years keeps them from being rescued. The 1222 of the title is the number of meters above sea level at which the hotel sits.

The dynamics of a varied mix of people in an isolated environment are always interesting. This situation gets complicated quickly when one of the passengers is found murdered in the snow outside the hotel. Retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is one of the passengers trapped in the hotel. Confined to a wheelchair she is unable to move freely about the hotel and among the passengers but her abilities to observe and read people are the key to investigating the murder.

When another body turns up, the tension rises and Hanne and her oddball group of confidantes turned into investigative assistants seek to identify the murder before anyone else dies.

My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to this series. I see that the first book is scheduled for US release this summer and I will definitely be watching for it.

Locked room mysteries are interesting and the added tension of a killer storm isolating survivors of a train derailment make this one have some added elements. While they wait for rescue the clashing personalities and the mystery of occupants of the last car keep the surviving passengers stress levels high despite their relatively comfortable and safe temporary lodgings.

Hanne Wilhemsen is a fun character. She freely admits that she’s not a likeable person. Her confinement to her wheelchair limit her freedom of movement in the hotel. She has to rely on her observational skills as well as some oddly intriguing assistants. A doctor who is a dwarf, a troubled teenager, and a hotel employee who turns out to be a worthy assistant all have a role in figuring out the multiple mysteries in this story.

Even though this is actually the eighth book in this series it was an enjoyable introduction to Hanne Wilhelmsen and I’m looking forward to the first book in the series when it’s available.

4 Rating 4/5


Weekend Update January 8, 2012

>> Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weekend Update
Since my last update:

It’s been a while because I took the week between Christmas off from both work and blogging.
I did manage to finish a few books in between watching football games. I finished Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap and 1222 by Anne Holt. I enjoyed both of them and will be posting the reviews this week. On audio I finished A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny and read by Ralph Cosham. In the days before Christmas I took a break from that book to listen to A Christmas Carol which just happened to also be read by Ralph Cosham. I wasn’t sure about mixing books read by the same person but it wasn’t a problem. It was nice to squeeze in a short Christmas book and then go back and finish up A Trick of the Light.

I’m currently about halfway through Before the Poison by Peter Robinson. I’ve been a long time fan of his Inspector Banks series but this one is a standalone mystery that is really quite excellent. I’m hoping to spend some quality time with it this afternoon.

My current audiobook is The Treasure of Khan by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler. I’m so glad a couple of people recommended the audio versions of Cussler’s books. Scott Brick reads them and they’re great fun escapist adventure stories for the driving around listening I do.

Where and When did I read in December

  • Turn of Mind – Present day Chicago
  • Poachers - Various time frames mostly in Alabama
  • Hostage Zero – Present day Virginia and Columbia
  • 1222 – 2007 Norway

Other than books and reading:

I managed to finish the slipper socks I was making for my Sister-in-Law just in time for Christmas. I used puff paint for the non-skid dots on the bottom. She’s going to be my tester for that method and let me know how it works. I was pretty darn proud of them for my very first socks.

New Year’s Eve was our traditional low key stay at home thing. Dungeness crab for dinner and Champagne for when the ball drops in New York. I like celebrating the New Year at 9pm our time. It’s the one day of the year I’m glad to be 3 hours behind TV time.

As a final thought today I wanted to show you what distracted me earlier this week as I was on my way to Trader Joe’s.

Hope you're having a great weekend!!


The Criminal Plots II Challenge

>> Thursday, January 5, 2012

Last year I only participated in one reading challenge. I was determined that in 2012 I would once again have the What’s in a Name? Challenge as my one and only.reading challenge for the year. Then Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts stepped in. She’s doing the Criminal Plots Challenge again this year. Last year I was strong and resisted it, but this year I have no willpower.

I am officially joining the Criminal Plots II Challenge.

This challenge combines my favorite genre (crime fiction) with the books by category format of the What’s in a Name? Challenge. Resistance is useless.

This year's Rules of the Road:

You'll be reading six books between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012. One book should be read that fits into each of the following categories:

1. Novel with a weapon in the title (examples: A Night of Long Knives, A Nail Through the Heart, Sharp Objects, The Rope, Lay Down my Sword and Shield)

2. Book published at least 10 years ago - this should be an easy one, time to pull out those backlists (examples: Goodnight Irene,The Black Echo, Indemnity Only)

3. Book written by an author from the state/province/etc. where you live. (I live in Ohio, so examples for me would be Carla Buckley, Les Roberts, Craig McDonald)

4. Book written by an author using a pen name (i.e., Spencer Quinn, Ross Macdonald, Ariana Franklin, Noah Boyd, Juliett Blackwell, Lisa Black)

5. Crime novel whose protagonist is the opposite gender of the author (i.e., Demolition Angel, Bury Your Dead, Calumet City)

6. A stand-alone novel written by an author who writes at least one series (i.e., El Gavilan (Craig McDonald), Long Gone (Alafair Burke), The Lock Artist (Steve Hamilton), Envy the Night (Michael Koryta), The Most Dangerous Thing (Laura Lippman))

Other Important Details:

  • You can read the books in any format you choose: print, audio, e-book, etc.
  • You can read books from any sub-genre of crime fiction: hardboiled, P.I., police procedural, cozy, thriller, etc.
  • You do not need to have a blog to participate.
  • You can use the books for other challenges but one book cannot count for more than one category in THIS challenge.
  • Books do not need to be pre-determined. You can choose them at any time throughout the year. And you can read them in whatever order you choose.
  • At the conclusion, each participant that completes the challenge will be entered for a chance at one of three prize packs

I was all ready to pass this one up until I realized that Jen has somehow managed to tap into my TBR list while compiling her list of examples. I need to figure out how she hacked into my computer or phone.

Here are the books I’m considering for each category but I’m reserving the right to change my mind as the whimpulse strikes.

1. Novel with a weapon in the title
A Nail Through the Heart by Timpthy Hallinan is already on my TBR list (and I suspect Jen knew that)

2. Book published at least 10 years ago
Well Schooled in Murder by Margaret George (it's been a while since I read one of her books so this is good incentive)

3. Book written by an author from the state/province/etc. where you live.
The Night Season by Chelsea Cain (this series is already one I've already targeted for catch up in 2012)

4. Book written by an author using a pen name
City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin (this was an easy choice since I've wanted to read her for ages but just haven't yet)

5. Crime novel whose protagonist is the opposite gender of the author
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (also on my TBR list for years but as yet unread)

6. A stand-alone novel written by an author who writes at least one series
Envy the Night by Michael Koryta just happens to already be on my TBR list. ( I have finishing up his Lincoln Perry series on my 2012 To Do list)

If, like me, this one strikes your fancy - check out the rest of the details and join in the fun at the Criminal Plots II sign up.


Wordless Wednesday #117

>> Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Washington County, Oregon


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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here


Looking Forward to 2012

>> Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking Forward to 2012

Reading Plans

I’ve kind of avoided setting any specific goals for the past few years. I don’t like to have goals get into the way of my reading what I want and when I want.

That said – I have signed up for Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge and have set my goal at 85 books. This isn’t a huge leap for me but it is an increase. In 2010 I read 81 books, in 2011 I read 80. I think 85 is doable but it’s not enough of an increase to make me select books just because they’re short or to avoid books because they’re chunksters. I’m still committed to reading what I want and when I want.

I’ve been a member of the Goodreads 75 Books group for the past couple of years but in all honesty 75 is not a stretch for me and 100 is too much of a stretch. That’s why I’m aiming for 85 but not going to sacrifice to make it if it looks unlikely come mid-December.

One of the reasons I’m doing this is that this year, while I have read about the same number of books, I’ve read significantly fewer pages than last year. It was increased audiobook time that kept my final books read number consistent. There are a couple of reasons for this. Part of it is that I’ve changed my work schedule and now have a half-hour lunch break at work. This cuts a significant amount of reading time out of my average day. The other major reason is that I spend a significant amount of time on Twitter talking about books instead of actually reading books. I want to achieve a better balance in that area in 2012. I love chatting about book with the folks I talk to every day on Twitter but I need to not let it interfere with my routine book reading time.


For the past few years I’ve been extremely picky about which blogging reading challenges I’ve joined. I want to keep flexibility in my reading. In 2011 I strictly kept to my one an only one challenge rule and had a great time again with the What’s in a Name challenge. I’ve participated in this challenge every year and I plan to participate again in 2012. BethFishReads has once again come up with some fun categories for us.

I’ve succumbed to the lure of a second reading challenge for 2012 and will be joining the Criminal Plots II challenge hosted by Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts. It’s a combination of my favorite genre and the category theme that I love about the What’s in a Name challenge. I’ll be posting more details later this week in my official sign up post.


I tried a few new things last year and some of them will continue and some won’t.

Book Reviews will obviously be the primary focus here. Realistically since I read 80 and 81 books in the past two years it’s simply not possible for me to post more than an average of two book reviews a week. I just don’t read fast enough to post daily book reviews like some bloggers who read many times more books a year than I do.

The Books Purchased page I started last year didn’t keep my interest or attention so has been retired.

Confessions of a Serial Reader will (hopefully) continue as a monthly feature. I have fun with this and love that other series addicts join in the discussion. I sometimes struggle with topics however, so if there are any series related topics you’d like me to talk about, please let me know!

Weekend Update will continue most weekends. I refuse to commit to either Saturday or Sunday and I also reserve the right to skip a weekend here and there. I have enjoyed this weekly wrap-up format and plan to continue it with the possibility of format changes or random craziness here and there as needed. I like that it’s a great format for sharing my current knitting and crocheting projects as well as talking about books and reading.

Short Story Mondays will probably continue but will not necessarily be a weekly thing. I’ve enjoyed my exploration into short stories but I think I want to step back from committing to posting about short stories every single Monday. It’s that Whimpulsive thing.

Wordless Wednesdays will most definitely continue. I don’t pretend to know what I’m doing with my camera but I have a great time playing and sharing photos.

Hangin’ With Howie hasn’t been around much this past year. I think he needs to visit more often.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!!


Looking back at 2011

>> Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking back at 2011

I’m not going to do a “Best of or Top Ten of 2011”. There are already a gazillion of those out there and another one isn’t needed. If you’re looking for what books I liked most in 2011 check out my Goodreads “Highly Recommended Shelf” down at the bottom of the page or check the categories over to the right and select 4.5 or 5 stars.

I am going to talk about my reading and blogging in 2011.

I read one less book in 2011 than I did in 2010. I ended the year with 80 books completed. 63 of those were paper or electronic books and 17 were audiobooks.

What was interesting is that while I read fewer paper and electronic books than last year, I managed to listen to more audiobooks. I haven’t changed my audiobook listening habits that much. I still only listen when I’m in the car by myself during commute and errand time. What I did change was one little setting on my ipod that allowed me to increase my audiobook listening by 40 hours over last year. The playback speed adjustment that is called “double speed” really isn’t what it sounds like. For the longest time I thought that this would just speed up everything and make the narrator sound like The Chipmunks. This is not the case. What it seems to do is shorten the empty space between words so that the book plays faster but the narrator’s voice isn’t changed. It’s really not ‘double speed’ either but it does manage to allow me to finish audiobooks faster. It takes a little time to get used to and it’s not something that works for every book or every narrator. I did start using the faster playback speed with most audiobooks and increased my audiobooks completed by quite a bit.

I remained picky about reading challenges. The only formal challenge I joined was the What’s in a Name? challenge. It continues to be one of my very favorites. I also am a member of the 75 books group on Goodreads and while I was wondering back in October whether I’d meet that goal or not, I did make it.

Looking back at the books I read in 2010 I can tell that I was good at making my reading choices. I read a lot of books that I liked and ended up with quite a few in the 4-5 star range. That’s not because I think every book I read is stunning, it’s because I’ve done a better job selecting books for myself. I hope I can continue that trend in 2012.

I tried some new things on the blog in 2011 and some worked and some didn’t. I kept up with my goal of monthly Confessions of a Serial Reader feature posts. That’s been fun. I’ve also done a Weekend Update almost every weekend. I like not having that committed to either Saturday or Sunday and it’s evolved a bit over the year. I had a books purchased page I started but took down because I kept forgetting to update it. Short Story Mondays has been a regular weekly post for the past few months. I’ll talk more about these blog features and where I want to go with them tomorrow when I talk about my plans for 2012.


Happy New Year!

>> Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new beginning is perhaps the best time to say…
It’s so nice to know you…
And here’s wishing our friendship
continues to grow in the days to come.


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