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text 2017-08-31 15:48
Reading progress update: I've read 80%.
The Bride Wore Black - Cornell Woolrich

I started this last night as my head start book for Halloween bingo and now I've totally screwed myself!

 

I can't finish it if I want it to count! But I want to knoooowwwww what the hell is going on this book. It's brilliant.

 

There are five sections. Each section has three chapters. The first is called Woman, and describes the murder for that section. The second is the name of the victim. And the third discusses the investigation.

 

The woman is killing men, and making it look like an accident. What is the connection between the men? Why is she murdering them? What the hell is happening here?

 

The plot is simple. The prose is stripped down noir, with all of the urban, nocturnal elements that I expect from this kind of a mystery. 

 

Can Cornell Woolrich sustain this to the end? I don't know, and I can't find out until TOMORROW.

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review 2017-05-25 16:27
You Say you Want a Revolution
Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits: The Crime Spree that Gripped Belle Epoque Paris - John Merriman

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

 

      

I live in a neighborhood that has anarchists.  Granted, my philosophy is different, and I don’t quite understand why an anarchist would always have the most up to date computer, but hey, they seem pretty nice even if they smell of pot much of the time.

 

                That’s my view of anarchists, who are usually squatters in my neck of the woods.

 

                Needless to say, those types of Anarchists are not the ones that Merriman is writing about.  Merriman’s history is about the bandits that committed crimes during pre-WWI France, but it is also about the anarchist movement in France at the time.

 

                Merriman opens his book with the holdup of the Société Générale.  This is the Bonnot Gang.  Of course, like most criminal’s people who were not involved with the crime spree where caught in the net.  It is two of these – Victor Kibaltchiche and Riette Maitrejean.

 

                Merriman takes him time in laying the foundation for the action.  He provides more detail of the Belle Époque period, showing the trends and political movements that gave rise to the Anarchist movement as well as the various threads of that movement – illegal activity vs philosophy.

 

                For that is what sometimes gets lost in a discussion of anarchists, at least in the media.  They become simply bomb throwing, gun shooting radicals who populate the media.  Merriman’s book illustrates that in some cases it was a life style, including vegetarianism and foregoing of items such alcohol and salt.

 

                Maitrejean and Kibaltchiche are at the heart of the story, for they seemed to have known everyone, and part of the drama of the story is the dragnet that captures are in its wake, regardless of involvement or not.  It is their fate and the fate of their family that moves the story forward.  Merriman’s prose is invigorating enough to carry the reader along.  There are also little details, such as the horror of balsamic vinegar that actually illustrate the dedication to the cause. Honesty, you must strongly believe in something if you are willing to give up such a wonderful thing.   Such small details actually make the history more interesting and in some ways more real.

 

                Considering the current political climate, the book might be timelier than intended.  It is also to Merriman’s credit that he does not romanticize the Illegalistes.  Despite the title the book isn’t one of the romantic retellings of an outlaw life.  In many ways, while the reader does end up feeing some sympathy for the bandits, or at least a few of them, the cost to others not involved in the Illegalistes is not ignored.  This is done by the not only the use of outsiders but also by showcasing the debates within the movement itself.

         

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review 2017-01-31 20:25
Right Behind You
Right Behind You - Lisa Gardner

By: Lisa Gardner

Quincy & Rainie, #7 

ISBN: 978-0525954583‚Äč

Publisher: Dutton 

Publication Date: 1/31/2017 

Format: Other 

My Rating: 5 Stars + +

 

Psychologically rich. Meticulously researched. Thought-provoking. Edge-of-your-seat thriller. Emotional. Gripping. Suspenseful. Gardner’s Best Yet! Top Books of 2017. 5 Stars +++

The "queen" of crime thrillers, Lisa Gardner returns to Bakersville, Oregon, following Find Her (2016) and the latest tantalizing prequel teaser: The 4th Man (Quincy & Rainie #6.5) with RIGHT BEHIND YOU — with fan favorites, highly anticipated retired FBI profiler and former police officer Quincy & Rainie dynamic duo: A heart-pounding, emotional, and gripping suspense crime thriller.

Fans will devour. Humans are complex. Hearts will go out to this brother and sister duo. Professional and personal lives connect. Where nothing is as it appears.

"Had a family once. Father. Mothers. Sister. Lived in our very own double-wide."

The opening takes us to a scene of domestic violence, abuse, and neglect. Two siblings. A brother and a younger sister. A brutal murder. A troubled past. Childhood trauma.

Flash forward years later, we catch up with Quincy and Rainie, retired FBI agent and former police officer, called in on a case, working with the local authorities in Oregon.

With the past books, Quincy was an FBI profiler and met Rainie, a deputy in Bakersville while working on a school shooting case. Now, both retired, they work together consulting on cold cases, or murders outside the police department’s norm.

They are experts in monsters. Homes can be broken. Can the members be mended by the love of others?

When Sharlah (5) and Telly (9) spent day and night trying to escape the violence of their parents- subjected to the unspeakable. Not a life, for an innocent and helpless boy and girl. There was no one to protect them from harm. The kids had to fend for themselves.

One night things get heated and the father tries to kill them. Telly comes to his sister’s rescue and the parents are murdered. They wind up in foster care separated.

Of course, Sharlah knows all too well about monsters. Her parents are dead, with no surviving relatives. Just a brother, four years older than her. She has not seen or heard from him since. She was very young and does not remember a lot about the night her parents died. No one talks about her brother. She has post-traumatic stress, and continues to go to therapy.

She had come to Rainie and Quincy with a case history of antisocial tendencies. They had qualified as foster parents despite Quincy's advanced years, and Rainie's continued struggle with alcohol. They plan on adoption. There is always a pull here with three different personalities.

Quincy was considered an expert in bonding. Sharlah was not easy. She was a lost girl. Broken. One who had been subjected to hardship and violence and had built the corresponding protective layers. She did not trust easily, nor reach out, with a lack of faith. However, she bonded with their dog, Luka. They were inseparable.

She was broken inside. Sharlah had been in their home for three years and they were close to adoption. She respects her soon to be parents and the work they do. However, she does not realize, nor do they, how she is connected to the case. The meaning of family. Everyone involved is part of this family unit.

Quincy is the quiet one; and Rainie, the emotional one. Sharlah really loves them, but not quite sure how to express her feelings. She has her guard up all the time. She knows they are experts in monsters, like herself. If you have read the other books in the series, you know the difficult journey this couple has traveled.

They are giving back by being foster parents to teenage daughter Sharlah, and their dog Luka. Luka is a former police officer. A trained member of law enforcement. He had to retire at five with a bum knee and not strong enough for active duty. Quincy got him for a cop friend and now he is Sharlah’s best friend. She was ten when she arrived in their home and had already been placed in many others.

We also meet Shelly the local small town Sherriff and fugitive tracker, Cal - nice added characters. There has been a shooting at the EZ Gas station in Bakersville, a backwoods town between Portland and Salem. Three victims. Multiple gun shots. A killer is on the loose.

They soon discover as the investigation is underway; there is a foster teen boy, who appears to be the perpetrator on a shooting spree. Why? What set him off? Could it possibly be Sharlah’s brother? The evidence is pointing his way.

He had been so good with his little sister, had read to her, taken her to the library and caring for her needs. Protecting her. However, upon their parent’s death, the siblings had been separated.

Quincy and Rainie fear for their daughter. Is Telly out to harm her? Where will he strike next? A psychotic break. A killer on the loose?

However, has Telly, the brother really killed his foster parents and the victims at the gas station? Or is it someone else? Why does he have photos of Sharlah?

As Quincy and Rainie fear for the safety of their own family and Sharlah, they also must dig deeper to understand what really happened all those years ago, at the murder scene to make sense of the events unfolding in the present.

The brother and sister duo have not seen or heard from one another for eight years. Why now? Did Sharlah have her own memories hidden away? Does she remember what went down that night so long ago? Is a brother trying to protect his sister, still today, after all these years?

One more person to kill. Secrets. Family is about trust.

The suspense builds as Gardner takes you back to the trailer, to the night it all began. The innocent lives of two young siblings and the painful cruel hand they were dealt. From tragedy, loss, pain, and trauma, to love, loyalty, and deep connections.

INTENSE! The author grabs you from page one (grabbed me with the preview included in The 4th Man) and never lets go, not even for a second. I knew I had to read this story. It is a "read in one sitting" kind of suspense. Psychologically rich, one of the best crime thrillers I have read this year. In addition, a vivid portrayal of the foster care system and the impact of both parents, and children have on one another.

With meticulous research and skillful crafting, Gardner combines law enforcement, profiling, cop procedures, domestic violence, foster care, social issues, juvenile system, adoption, alcoholism, at-risk kids, addiction, spree killing, fugitive tracking, crime, mystery, and suspense. It has it ALL.

In addition, to being a huge Quincy and Rainie and Gardner fan, (quickly going back to buy the previous audiobooks, to catch up); loved the relationship between Telly and Sharlah, and my favorite was the twist with Sandra and Frank (Telly’s foster parents), Sandra’s intriguing past and her relationship with Telly. Highly creative as the two families are intertwined. And let’s not forget the skill and love of a loyal dog.

Buy RIGHT BEHIND YOU, today! Gardner pulls out all the stops. Cannot wait for the next. Here’s hoping for more Quincy, Rainie, Telly and Sharlah. Gardner can flat out write complex crime, and spin a tale, like no one else.

A special thank you to Dutton and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

JDCMustReadBooks

"Right Behind You" continues one of Gardner's frequent themes: that danger often lies close to home.

 

 




By Amy Wang | The Oregonian/OregonLive (Great interview).

Gardner's next book will be a follow-up to her 2016 hit "Find Her," part of her Detective D.D. Warren series and a return engagement for her character Flora Dane. "I'm working on a novel now where a family has been murdered but, to be different, the 16-year-old daughter is missing," Gardner said.

The question the police must answer is whether the girl was involved in the crime or was kidnapped. Fans can once again nominate themselves or a loved one to appear in the book by entering Gardner's Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy Sweepstakes. Read More

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/01/Right-Behind-You
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review 2016-10-10 10:25
The Polysyllabic Spree
The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby

"...I suddenly had a little epiphany:  all the books we own, both read and unread, are the fullest expression of self we have at our disposal. [...] But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not."

 

I loved this book; even though I'll likely never read most of the books Hornby talks about, I loved reading his thoughts about them.  He's hilarious and insightful and, I think, fair (although it's hard to say given the constraints he claims to be under by The Believer).

 

Each chapter is one of the monthly columns he wrote for The Believer and at the beginning of each is a list of the books he bought that month and the books he read.  Hornby talks about the books he read in a free form style; one book leading to the next.  Interspersed throughout are excerpts from some of his favourite books, including David Copperfield and a selected letter from Anton Chekov that is brilliant; I want to copy it, frame it and send it to several people I know.

 

If you enjoy reading about books, I highly recommend this one; it's a fun read. 

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text 2016-07-26 22:15
Summer Splurges (AKA: Be Good to Yourself)
The Colour of Poison: A Sebastian Foxley Medieval Mystery (Volume 1) - Toni Mount
Wars of the Roses - Charles Ross
Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors - Desmond Seward
Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses - Sarah Gristwood
Mary Tudor: The First Queen - Linda Porter
Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen - Anna Whitelock
The Sugar Planter's Daughter - Sharon Maas
The Princes of Ireland - Edward Rutherfurd
The Rebels of Ireland - Edward Rutherfurd
The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set: The Chronicles of Narnia CD Box Set - C.S. Lewis,Kenneth Branagh

Largely inspired by Carpe Librum (Samantha Wilcoxson)'s recommendations following up on my read of her books Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen and Faithful Traitor – as well as looking forward to book 3 of her Tudor Women trilogy – I've been on a minor shopping spree lately. Not all of these are Samantha's recommendations, but that's the way book browsing goes ... one thing leads to another!

 

* Toni Mount: The Colour of Poison – actually ordered already before my exchange with Samantha on which books she recommends in connection with her own novels, though another recommendation of hers, too; what a pity I probably won't be receiving it before the end of its "book of the month" status in More Historical Than Fiction.

* Charles Ross: The Wars of the Roses – though I've already got Trevor Royle's book on the same subject, but it can't hurt to get another one just for comparison's sake;

* Desmond Seward: The Last White Rose – since, after all, the Yorks didn't just die out all at once together with Richard III at Bosworth in 1485;

* Sarah Gristwood: Blood Sisters, The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses – since women played an important part during that period and it's time we finally took note of them ... and not just Margaret of Anjou, either (which is why Samantha's books on Elizabeth of York and Margaret Pole are such a welcome read);

* Linda Porter: Mary Tudor, The First Queen – since there's more to Mary I than is hidden behind her epithet "Bloody Mary";

* Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor, Princess, Bastard, Queen – ditto (and two books are always better than one, see above)

 

... and while I was at it, I also did a bit of wish list cleanup, ordering:

 

* Sharon Maas: The Sugar Planter's Daughter (book 2 of her Winnie Cox trilogy; fresh from the publisher's press);

* Edward Rutherfurd: The Princes of Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland;

* David Suchet: Poirot and Me (since my reviews of some of the Poirot dramatizations starring Suchet are up next for copying over to my Wordpress blog)

... and then I also found a dirt cheap (used, but near new) offer of the Chronicles of Narnia audiobook set read by Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart, Michael York, Alex Jennings, Lynn Redgrave and Jeremy Northam – which I of course had to have as well.

 

And look, the first lovely books already made it to their new home, too:

 

 

But anyway, I obviously also needed to make space on my wish list for all the other books I found when following up on Samantha's recommendations:

 

* Lisa Hilton: Queens Consort, England's Medieval Queens (which I hope is going to live up to Helen Castor's She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth I);

* Dan Jones: The Hollow Crown (since I've already got his earlier book on the Plantagenets ...);

* Charles Ross: Richard III (by all accounts still the standard biography);

* Chris Skidmore: Richard III (the most recent incarnation of Richard III biographies);

* Amy Licence: Richard III, the Road to Leicester (I guess there goes my resolution not to give in to the publicity craze of the recent[ish] discovery of his bones);

* Amy Licence: Elizabeth of York, Forgotten Tudor Queen (and really, I swear it was this book and the RIII bio by Charles Ross that led me to Licence's book on RIII in the first place);

* Alison Weir: Elizabeth of York, the First Tudor Queen (one of Samantha's major "go-to" books for background information on Elizabeth; also, I own and rather like Weir's bio of Eleanor of Aquitaine);

* Hazel Pierce: Margaret Pole, 1473-1541, Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership (on which Samantha says she relied substantially in writing Faithful Traitor) and

* Susan Higginbotham: Margaret Pole (brand new and due out in August 2016).

 

And then ... well, there's this absolutely gorgeous and super-nice tea and spice store in Frankfurt that my best friend and I discovered when I was living in Frankfurt way back in 2003.  Shelves crammed with goodies from all over the world and an amazing staff ... even after I moved to Bonn, we just kept going there; and we still try to make it down there at least once or twice a year.  So last Saturday we decided another splurge was overdue, took to the road – and returned home late in the afternoon laden with delicacies.  This was my share of the bounty:

 

 

* A small bag of Nanhu Da Shan Qinxin Oolong (the prize catch of last Saturday's shopping trip; and yes, they do actually let you try all of their products in their store);

* A foursome of Kusmi tea blends (Kashmir tchai, ginger lemon green, and a double serving of spicy chocolate);

* One of their homemade rice & spice mixes (in this instance, a blend of Indian basmati rice with currants, cashew nuts, coconut flakes, lemon pepper, cinnamon, sea salt, cardamom, ginger, and pieces of dried mango, apricot, papaya, and cranberries, going by the fanciful name Maharani Rice ... one of my absolute favorites);

* A bottle of Stokes Sweet Chilli Sauce (my kitchen just isn't complete without this stuff, it goes on practically everything);

* A bottle of Belberry Spicy Mango Ketchup (new to me, tried it in the store and instantly loved it);

* A duo of Sal de Ibiza (green pepper and lemon, and ginger and lemon grass);

* A lidded Chinese dragon tea mug that will go well with the two (differently-colored) mugs in the same style that I've already got

* ... and a collection of their very own recipes, all of which they also serve up (though obviously not all at the same time) for tasting purposes in their store.; this particular collection being recipes created by a charming lady from Sri Lanka named Rajitha who has been part of their team since practically forever.

 

Alright, so I guess I did splurge.  In my defense, though, I'll mention that I won't be able to travel at all this year, nor actually take a whole lot of vacation time or other time off work, so I'm having to make to with what's available by way of compensation ... and is there any better compensation than books and food?

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