Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review : Gone, Baby, Gone

Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane. HarperTorch, 2001. (Originally published in 1998)

[Source: Purchased]

Gone, Baby, Gone is the third installment in Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro series. This is the first of the series I've read so I can say with confidence that you don't have to read the previous titles in the series to understand or enjoy Gone, Baby, Gone. It's the story of a missing child. Amanda McCready has been missing for three days when private detectives Patrick and Angie come onto the case. They are reluctant to take it on, but the child's aunt won't take no for an answer. Patrick and Angie, who are also partners in life, quickly find themselves working with a pair of Boston police detectives and dealing with a less than terrific mother.

There are a number of twists and turns that make me loathe to say any more about the story. Suffice it to say, this story has wow factor. Lehane has constructed a tight plot that keeps you guessing but never has you disbelieving. In addition to being a great mystery, Gone, Baby, Gone is a powerful tale of choosing between right and wrong and the sometimes difficulty in deciding which is which. Lehane lightens the mood with wonderful and funny banter between his main characters, Patrick and Angie, and between them and the police detectives working the case.

I picked up Gone, Baby, Gone because of its relationship to the newest installment in this series, Moonlight Mile, which I received an advanced reading copy of. I'm glad I did. I may even go back and read the other titles featuring Patrick and Angie. I'm definitely going to be adding the film version of Gone, Baby, Gone to my Netflix queue. If you enjoy a good mystery, I definitely recommend Gone, Baby, Gone.

Watch for my review of Moonlight Mile on Thursday.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend : wrap-up

I always intend to get tons of reading done when I have time off work, but never manage to achieve my goals. All that family stuff ends up taking up more time than I expect. :) This year I'm thankful for Thankfully Reading Weekend for getting me to focus on my reading. I still didn't get through as much as anticipated but was able to get through one entire book, Djibouti, and make a pretty good dent in a second, The Emperor's Tomb.

I was also happy to have the camaraderie of my fellow thankful readers and to have the opportunity to participate in the mini-challenges. Thanks to Jenn's Bookshelves, Beth Fish Reads, and Devourer of Books for co-hosting this year's Thankfully Reading Weekend!

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Reading challenge : What's in a name 4

I'm signed up for the What's in a Name 4 reading challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads. I think it's a really clever idea for a challenge, and it doesn't seem particularly onerous. The challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2011. To participate, all you have to do is read one book from each of the following categories.

A book with a number in the title
A book with jewelry or a gem in the title
A book with a size in the title
A book with travel or movement in the title
A book with evil in the title
A book with a life stage in the title

Here are some of the titles I'm thinking of reading.
number: The Third Secret by Steve Berry or Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
jewelry or gem: Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright
size: Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
travel or movement: I've got a lot of options here, but top contenders are Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson and The Woman Who Walked to Russia by Cassandra Pybus.
evil: Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner, Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott, or The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
life stage: Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, or About a Boy by Nick Hornby

For further examples and details, head on over to the What's in a Name 4 site. I encourage you to join in the fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend : mini-challenge 3

The third Thankfully Reading Weekend mini-challenge is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. She'd like to know...
What reading community are you thankful for, and why? Are you thankful for book bloggers? The book community on Twitter? Your spouse or family that lets you ramble on and on about what you’re reading and doesn’t complain (at least not too much) about the myriad of books flowing into the house?
I'm most thankful for my partner who, with only mild protests, puts up with my book obsession and will occasionally indulge me with a conversation about a book.

Secondly, I'm thankful for the book bloggers I've found on Twitter who help me stay in the loop and are always available for a little bookish conversation.

Happy Thankfully Reading Weekend to everyone!

Thankfully Reading Weekend : mini-challenge 2

The second Thankfully Reading Weekend mini-challenge from Beth Fish Reads is to photograph and share our TBR shelves.

I tend to ferret away my TBR books wherever I can, but this shelf contains most of my ARCs. I've had to resort to double rows of books, but luckily most of the rear layer are books I've already read. I haven't been able to make as much of a dent in this backlog as I had hoped during Thankfully Reading Weekend. Yesterday was pretty much a loss on the reading front between family time that lasted longer than expected and going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I didn't even get this mini-challenge done on the proper day. There is still today though, so wish me luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend : mini-challenge 1

The first Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini-Challenge from Jenn's Bookshelves is to answer the question "What  book are you most thankful for?" Here's my response.

I'm really thankful for books in general. They've played a huge role in my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading me bedtime stories. Once I was old enough to read for myself, my nose was always buried in a book. Now, as an adult, I'm still an avid reader and spend my days working in a library. All that is to say it's hard for me to pick one particular book for which I'm thankful. After much thought, I've decided to go with The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

I spent of lot of years working my way through many books I didn't particularly enjoy reading as I went through college and then five years of graduate school. (Yes, grad school took me awhile, but I ended up with two masters degrees to show for it.) Needless to say, I was turned off reading for a little while, especially non-fiction. Larson's White City finally showed me that non-fiction doesn't have to be dry and dull. A truly gifted writer can weave non-fiction into a riveting story. Now I'm back to reading voraciously. I admit I still don't read a ton of non-fiction titles, but when I come across one that sounds interesting, I'll give it a whirl in the hopes of finding another writer than can spin history into a story that sticks with me. Erik Larson instilled this in me and gave me an enduring interest in crime non-fiction and the World's Fair. Thanks Mr. Larson for giving me the gift of The Devil in the White City.

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Thankfully Reading Weekend : update 1

I was actually able to get started on my thankful reading yesterday during a lovely, lazy Thanksgiving day. As a result, I've already been able to plow through one book, Djibouti by Elmore Leonard. Now it's time for a little break to get a workout in and think about possible books I could write about for the first Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini-Challenge. After that, I'm rewarding myself with The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry, which is the newest installment in the Cotton Malone series. It's one of my favorite series, so I'm really looking forward to diving in.

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday and finding plenty of time to read! I'll check in with you all again soon.

Weekly wrap-up : number seven

The weekly wrap-up is my way of keeping my loyal readers informed of my bookish activities and holding myself to my bookish obligations. The questions may change slightly depending on the week.

Q: What are you reading right now?
A: Djibouti by Elmore Leonard

Q: Why are you reading it? Business? Pleasure? For review?
A: I received this through Goodreads First Reads, so I need to review it. I'm also reading it in preparation for a reading by Elmore Leonard on December 6.

Q: What was the last thing you read?
A: Hell's Corner by David Baldacci

Q: What do you plan to read next?
A: I should get back to my reading plan and read My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, but I know I won't be able to resist my copy of the newly released The Emperor's Tomb, so I'm going to say that is next up.

Q: Why do you want to read it?
A: Same as last week. I love reading books about books and reading. Plus, this is an Okra Picks Challenge book.

Q: What books did you acquire?
A: I scored a ton of great books at the library booksale last Friday and shared them in a special acquisitions edition earlier this week. Besides that bonanza, I purchased The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry.

Q: What bookish places did you go to?
A: With the holidays, I didn't make it to any bookish places. I'm sure I'll be hitting a bookstore or two soon for some Christmas shopping though.

Q: What bookish events did you attend?
A: When it rains it pours, when it doesn't rain... Anyway, point is after a couple of amazingly bookish weeks, there weren't any events around here (at least to my knowledge). It looks like the drought will continue for the next couple of weeks, but I'll soon be rewarded with a biggie. Like I said, Elmore Leonard is coming to town on December 6.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! I'm so thankful that you all (American or not) keep coming back to read what I have to say about books. I'm hoping to use this holiday weekend to get a lot of reading done, but we'll see how that goes. I never seem to get as much done as I hope over holidays. In an effort to keep my reading plans on track, I signed up for the Thankfully Reading Weekend being hosted at Jenn's Bookshelves. I'll be posting periodically on my reading progress. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review : Heart of Lies

Heart of Lies by M.L. Malcolm. Harper, 2010.

[Source: HarperCollins via AuthorsontheWeb.com]

Though the decisions made in Heart of Lies have far greater consequences, I found some similarity between it and the last book I reviewed, The Privileges. Both are the story of a man doing what he thinks he must in order to protect the people he loves. In Heart of Lies, we follow Leo Hoffman from 1919 shortly after the close of World War I to 1939 and the dawn of World War II. The future Leo expected for himself vanishes following World War I. When an opportunity for advancement comes his way, he takes the chance. Unfortunately for Leo, things do not work out the way he planned. Instead, he must flee to Shanghai and find a way to rebuild his life with the woman he loves.

Malcolm did a great deal of research to ensure the historical accuracy of the novel and it shows. The horrible events of the era are faithfully depicted and make the extremely difficult decisions Leo must make easier to accept. There were moments when I was on edge waiting to see if Leo could survive the setback currently facing him. The final pages had me sobbing. Despite Leo's flawed character, I found myself rooting for him every step of the way.

I didn't realize until the end that Malcolm was setting up a series of books. The next is called Heart of Deception and comes out in April 2011. I look forward to following the saga of Leo's life and hope you will join me on his journey.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Special acquisitions edition

You may have noted in last Friday's Weekly Wrap-Up that I was planning to go to the library booksale. Well, I did much to the chagrin of my already overloaded bookshelves. My typical path through the sale is to hit the Indiana, Books about Books, and Mystery sections. I picked up some great things from each and wanted to share my new acquisitions with you!

Indiana Section:
Charmed Circle, Indianapolis 1895: A Mystery by Nancy Niblack Baxter
Indiana, Indiana by Laird Hunt
Indiana Winter by Susan Neville
The Prince of India, or How Constantinople Fell by Lew Wallace

Mystery Section:
The Third Secret by Steve Berry
Blue Heaven by C. J. Box
Looking Good Dead by Peter James
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Books About Books / Library Science Section:
Simple Library Cataloging (4th ed.) by Susan Grey Akers
The Triumph of the Thriller by Patrick Anderson
Books that Changed the World by Robert D. Bingham
Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara?: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books by Jenny Bond
Views and Reviews by Henry James
The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly
Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky
Old Books, Rare Friends by Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern
Books That Made the Difference: What People Told Us by Gordon and Patricia Sabine
Books and the Man by John T. Winterich
The Literature of Crime and Detection by Waltraud Woeller and Bruce Cassiday

Have you read any of these books? I'd love to hear your thoughts.