Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Beginnings & Friday 56 4/17

On Fridays I participate in two memes that give a little taste of what a book will be when it is read. I like to use a book I haven't started, often an ARC I've accepted for review. I find it gets me excited to read the book. A couple of weeks ago I showcased Richard Montanari's The Doll Maker. The general consensus in the comments was that it would be a creepy read. It definitely didn't disappoint in that arena, or in the solving of the mystery. MY REVIEW went up yesterday if you want to find out more. 
This week I am featuring The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan. From the title and book cover I am expecting a cute, light book about a bakery/baker or cafe.
Book Beginnings is hosted by Gillon at Rose City Reader. "Prologue: April 1964 Imagine your perfect home: a gamekeeper’s lodge or rambling farmhouse, the walls wreathed in wisteria, brick warmed by the sun. Picture the garden: bees drunk on the nectar of hollyhocks, the air shimmering with summer. An apple tree rustles and drops early fruit." [Sounds like the perfect home to me. I'm probably correct in my first impression.]

Freda @ Freda's Voice is our host for the Friday 56, where participants are asked to turn to page 56 or 56%.  on an e-reader, and share a few sentences. "Karen shakes her head, recalling the concrete of her urban school playground, the shards of glass glinting on the tarmac, the fetid litter bins, the graffiti on the walls.

A playground where she learned to trade herself for cigarettes, and use the cigarettes to stave off hunger." [Now I'm a little depressed. I enjoy reading books about people overcoming odds, but I wasn't expecting that to be the theme of this book. Hopefully it's just one little piece of the story.]
Take some time to visit Rose City Reader and Freda's Voice to read some other book snippets and maybe find something new to read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Afraid of Clowns? You'll Be Creeped Out by The Doll Maker!

The Doll Maker
by Richard Montanari
Genre: Police Thriller
Pages: 496
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Source: publisher via NetGalley

Richard Montanari’s The Doll Maker is the eighth book in the Byrne and Balzano police detective series. I have not read any other books in the series, but I liked it so much that I am going to go back to the first novel, The Rosary Girls, and start now.

The story starts out with a very creepy situation: “He knew the moment she walked in. It wasn’t the way she was dressed—he had been fooled by this more often than he had been right, and he had been right many times—it was, instead, the way her heels fell on the old hardwood floor, the weight of her stride, the way he knew she’d put a thousand sad stories to bed.” Upon reading this, I was hopeful that we were looking at a man seeing a woman with whom he might fall in love, wanting to heal her after all her sad stories. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The eerie book cover was the first clue to the oddness of something or someone in this novel.
Philadelphia's famous "Roundhouse" Police Headquarters.

Around Philadelphia, children are being murdered and posed in specific situations. At each crime scene a porcelain doll is found, designed to look exactly like the victim of the previous murder. An invitation is also found, indicating the date of the next murder. It is up to long-time partners Jessica Byrne and Kevin Balzano to figure out what this killer is trying to tell the people of Philadelphia. Their investigation takes them all over the city, to specialty collectible shops, a hardware store, a long-abandoned home, and college campuses. In fact, the city of Philadelphia is almost a main character itself. I have only visited the City of Brotherly love once, but felt I was there and could see the different neighborhoods as Byrne and Balzano hit the sidewalks to talk to neighbors and follow several red herrings.
Again, I truly enjoyed The Doll Maker, even staying up until 3:00 one night to try and finish. I was unsuccessful, but sat down with my coffee the next morning and didn’t stop reading until I was done. Many thanks to Mulholland Books, who gave me an advance electronic copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - From his web site.
Richard was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the scion of a traditional Italian-American family, which means he learned two things very early in life. One: ravioli tastes much better than baby formula. Two: if you don't get to the table on time, there is no ravioli.
After an undistinguished academic career, Richard traveled Europe extensively, living in London for a time, where he sold clothing in Chelsea, and foreign language encyclopedias door-to-door in Hampstead Heath. Needless to say, he hawked a few more ties than tomes, but neither job paid enough to keep him in beer and Skittles.
So, abandoning his dream (that being to become the next Bryan Ferry), he returned to the States and joined his family's construction firm. Five years and a hundred smashed thumbs later, he decided that writing might be a better job.
After working as a freelance writer for years, during which time he was published in more than two hundred publications -- including The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, The Seattle Times, and many others -- Richard wrote three pages of what was to become the first chapter of Deviant Way. He was immediately signed to a New York agency.
When he finished the book, Michael Korda signed him to a two-book deal at Simon & Schuster. In 1996 Deviant Way won the OLMA for Best First Mystery.

To Binge or Not to Binge?

I am retired on a disability, although I am not yet 50.  Years of chemotherapy have kept me alive, but crippled my body in a variety of ways, making teaching middle school untenable. I love to craft, cross-stitch, scrapbook, but shaky hands and poor vision have left that by the wayside. So I read, watch TV, and try to get out of the house several times a week. Being alone all day, I have the TV on for company in the background of whatever else I am doing. There is always a Law & Order on somewhere!
For “new” first-run shows I love my DVR and on Demand because I can watch what I want when I want. If I’m awake at 3:00 AM, I can laugh with The Goldbergs or New Girl and then try to sleep again. TV shows have changed in the last couple of years with everyone DVR-ing and binge watching. There are more shows that tell a story over an entire season, like House of Cards or Game of Thrones. This trend started with the paid cable channels, and has spread to the regular networks, as trends seem to do.

Some people, like my parents or I, DVR almost everything they watch. This sets you up for bingeing, if you are so inclined. I like to watch episodic shows like Criminal Minds and Blue Bloods each week, but save the long story lines of Broadchurch or Mad Men for a binge. My mom complains that my father can no longer follow these long story lines from week to week, and keeps asking her questions during the show. “Save them up and binge it!” is my reply. Of course, being of a certain age, changing habits is difficult, although they love a binge if they get the DVD from the library.
I just binged Bosch on Amazon and it was great! It is based on Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch police detective series, most of which I have read.They did a great job of bringing the characters to life and sticking with the storyline. It’s been picked up for another season, which I eagerly anticipate.

Do you binge with your DVR, or just Netflix and Amazon? Do you binge at all? I highly recommend it for wet, yucky days. For me it’s easy, because I am the only one watching the TV and don’t have to share DVR space with a husband or children. But I know there’s always the problem of someone deleting your shows, or wanting to DVR something at the same time as you.
This post is for the 2015 Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight. I know it’s supposed to be about blogging or books, but many book bloggers also write about movies and TV, so I thought it fit.

Monday, April 13, 2015

10 Thoughtful Quotes

The Broke and the Bookish hosts Top Ten Tuesday, a fun list meme. This week's theme is Inspirational Quotes from Books. I actually have an old-fashioned card file box of quotes that I made for a college project 20 years ago. Some are by authors, but I don't have the book or article where it was originally written. So I did some looking for a variety of types of quotes from books I've read.

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.”
― Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost
I can just imagine the beautiful scene, plus it sounds so yummy. I adore a good cobbler!

“When asked "What do we need to learn this for?" any high-school teacher can confidently answer that, regardless of the subject, the knowledge will come in handy once the student hits middle age and starts working crossword puzzles in order to stave off the terrible loneliness.”
― David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day

As someone who does at least one crossword a day, I must say, "How true!"

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Looking at the racism and hate crimes still happening today, I find this extremely timely.

“Laughter is poison to fear.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Love GOT, so I've got to include a quote from one of the books!

“Whoever is happy will make others happy.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne is amazing in that she is mostly upbeat throughout her diary and has such inspirational things to say for such a young girl.

“Afterward I tried to find something to explain what had happened—was it cloudy, were the stars out? But the night was ordinary. It usually is, I think, when your life changes. Most people aren’t doing anything special when the carefully placed pieces of their life break apart.”
― Carole Radziwill, What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love
Carole is referring to learning the news that her best friend has died in a plane crash.

“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I can't stand it when someone is determined to make an event or item awful for themself and others.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works
I learned this truth from my middle school students who always told me how much they enjoyed my storytelling, making the historical characters come to life by asking them to think about motivation and feelings.

“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?"
"Yes," said Harry stiffly.
"Yes, sir."
"There's no need to call me "sir" Professor."
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I included this just because it seems so out of character for Harry.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Enough said.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4/13

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. I find it a great way to reflect on what I've read the past week, so I can update all of my challenges and plan my reading and reviewing week ahead.Sheila is on hiatus right now, but I am still doing my posts. 

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeil
The Andy Cohen Diaries: a deep look at a shallow year by Andy Cohen
The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman (Tess Monaghan Mystery #1)

The Alchemist's Daughter by Mary Lawrence (Bianca Goddard Mystery #1)
I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
The Rosary Girls by Richard Montanari (Byrnes & Balzano Police Mystery #1)