Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quick Review : Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. Bantam Books, 2011.

[Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers]

Mr. Churchill's Secretary introduces the reader to Maggie Hope, an intelligent, self-sufficient woman living in WWII London. Maggie is a strong woman whom I found interesting and refreshing. In addition to great characters, MacNeal's book combines two of my favorite genres -- mystery and historical fiction. This is definitely a series I will follow. I can't wait to see what Maggie's next adventure is!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Indie Lit Awards : winners posted!



The winners of the 2011 Indie Lit Awards have been posted! It was fun working with my team to select the winner and runner-up for the Mystery category. Congratulations to all the winners. Head here to see the list!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly wrap-up : number forty-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: Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood by Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr. and Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices


Q: Why are you reading it? Business? Pleasure? For review?
A: I'm reading the Gone with the Wind book because one of the authors sent me a copy to review. Hotel Angeline just sounded intriguing. One novel written by 36 authors in one week? Come on. Plus, one of the authors is a fave of mine, Erik Larson.

Q: What have you read since the last weekly wrap-up?
A: The Two Death of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, which is on the Indie Lit Awards Mystery Short List.


Q: What do you plan to read next?
A: Shatter by Michael Robotham


Q: Why do you want to read it?
A: I received a copy for review through NetGalley and enjoyed the first of his books published by Mulholland Books, The Wreckage.

Q: What books did you acquire?
A: I am heading the Mystery Panel for the Indie Lit Awards and received a copy of another of our short list titles, A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny.


Q: What bookish events did you attend?
A: As this posts, I am on my way to the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, TX. There will be lots of books and bookish people surrounding me at all times!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review : The Uninnocent

The Uninnocent: Stories by Bradford Morrow. Pegasus Books/Open Road, 2011.

[Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers]

There is certainly nothing innocent about the characters in Morrow's stories. I'm not opposed to dark stories. I'm a huge mystery and crime fiction fan after all. However, the majority of Morrow's stories were too dark and depressing even for me. Many of his characters are beyond uninnocent and enter the realm of amoral and disturbed.

Although this was my overall impression of The Uninnocent, there were stories that I found less objectionable and even enjoyed. "Amazing Grace" was an interesting story about the truth that is revealed when a blind man regains his sight. "The Enigma of Grover's Mill" cleverly integrates Orson Welles' War of the Worlds into the story and the psyche of his main character. Finally, "Ellie's Idea" is a humorous look at one selfish woman's efforts to make amends and tell the truth.

If you decide to read The Uninnocent, be prepared for dark stories with sometimes disturbing themes. Morrow is actually a good writer...if you can stand to have his characters inhabiting your head.

Buy The Uninnocent: Stories at Powell's or Amazon.com.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly wrap-up : number forty-six

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: The Spy Who Jumped from the Screen by Thomas Caplan


Q: Why are you reading it? Business? Pleasure? For review?
A: I received a copy for review.

Q: What have you read since the last weekly wrap-up?
A: Oh wow, it's been quite a while since I posted a weekly wrap-up. How about what I've read so far this year? Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre and The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi


Q: What do you plan to read next?
A: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey


Q: Why do you want to read it?
A: I've had a copy in my TBR pile, but the main reason is that it made the mystery short list for the Indie Lit Awards. I have to read it as part of my judging duties.

Q: What books did you acquire?
A: I bought a few books off my Christmas wishlist that I didn't get including Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill and The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. I also bought The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, which I've wanted to read for about a year now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review : Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. Penguin, 2011. (Originally published 1974)

[Source: Publisher / NetGalley]

A blown defection raises suspicions of a mole within British intelligence. Retired agent George Smiley is brought in to investigate and, in the course of uncovering the mole, finds out that his old boss, Control, was close on the mole’s trail before his death. The mole is one of the top men in the London office, and Smiley must keep his cards close for fear of tipping off the traitor.

Le Carré wrote eight novels featuring George Smiley. While Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the fifth in the Smiley series, it is also the first in a three book sub-series featuring the “Quest for Karla,” a Russian super-spy. I enjoyed the process of Smiley’s investigation, but found the actually uncovering of the mole a bit anti-climactic. When considered as a set-up for the search for Karla, however, the novel improves in my eyes. There were characters that I wished had been further developed, but I’m betting le Carré is prepping us for their further adventures in subsequent installments. I would definitely read The Honourable Schoolboy, the second in the sub-series.

Obviously, I read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in preparation for seeing the movie. I’d never read this acclaimed spy novel and thought it was important to do so before entering the theater. I’m looking forward to seeing the new film despite hearing that it is hard to follow even if you’ve read the book. I’m grateful that I’ll be one step ahead of the non-readers in the audience!

Buy Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy from Powell's or Amazon.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 fourth quarter favorite

I decided to spotlight my favorite book of each quarter of 2011 partially to let you know my clear favorites and partially to help me pick my favorite book when the year ended. In 4Q 2011, I read 33 books.

I considered skipping naming a favorite for the fourth quarter. As I reviewed the list of books I read, none of them really jumped out at me as in the previous quarters. Perhaps I just waited to long to reflect on my reading. There are, however, of few books of note that I think deserve a mention, all of which fall outside my normal mystery reading.

I enjoyed the writing style and the story in The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I was participating in a readalong and found it difficult to stay on the schedule rather than reading straight through, which I think is a sign of a good book.


I have fond childhood memories of watching The Scarlet Pimpernel with my mom (the version with Jane Seymour), but had never read the book. I found out my movie version actually takes elements from several of the Pimpernel books not just its namesake. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book and am glad I finally read it.


Finally, a non-fiction pick. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain really made me think. Reading Quiet was an opportunity for self-reflection. I am most definitely an introverted person and Cain taught me something about myself and those close to me. For the first time, I realized the difference between introversion and shyness.


Buy The Marriage Plot from Powell's or Amazon.com.
Buy The Scarlet Pimpernel from Powell's or Amazon.com.
Buy Quiet from Powell's or Amazon.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading challenge : 2012 Edgar Awards

image courtesy of Jeff Babbitt
I'm continuing the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge in 2012. If you are considering joining me, here are the details to help you decide.

What books are eligible for the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge?
Any Edgar Award winning books counts. Check out the possibilities here. You can leave the search box blank to bring up all winners for a particular category.

Do I have to choose what books to read before I sign up?
No, you can choose as you go.

What are the levels of participation?
Patrolman = 1-3 books
Sergeant = 4-6 books
Detective = 7-9 books
Lieutenant = 10+ books

What are the dates of the challenge?
January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012

When can I sign up to participate?
Feel free to enter anytime during the course of the year.

How do I sign up?
If you are interested in joining me...
  • grab the button code below for your blog,
  • enter your blog link in the Mr. Linky below,
  • and leave a comment telling me your participation level.
If you don't have a blog of your own, just leave me a comment to let me know you're participating and at what level.

original image courtesy of Jeff Babbitt

In addition to posting reviews of what I read, I'll periodically post updates and let you leave links to your posts.

Check out the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge page for my reading list and a list of participants.

The original image used to create the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge button is courtesy of Jeff Babbitt under a Creative Commons license.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Reading challenge : 2011 Edgar Awards wrap-up

image courtesy of Jeff Babbitt
I'm a little late in posting this, but here it is - the wrap-up of the 2011 Edgar Awards Reading Challenge!

I reached my goal of reading the Best Novel winners for 1978 through 1989 with the exception of the 1987 winner. I did try to read A Dark-Adapted Eye, but just couldn't get into it.

Several participants also succeeded in reaching their goals. At the Patrolman level (1-3 books), Karen Russell from How Mysterious! read and reviewed 2 Edgar winners. At the Sergeant level (4-6 books), Veggiemomof2 from Insanity, Table for Four, submitted 7 reviews and Monica submitted 3. You can check out their reviews at the links listed below.
Paper Towns (2009 Best Young Adult)
Acceleration (2004 Best Young Adult)
Twisted Summer (1997 Best Young Adult)
Reality Check (2010 Best Young Adult)
Columbine (2010 Best Fact Crime)
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (1999 Best Juvenile)
Coming Back (written by 1995 Grand Master but not a winning book)

A Dark-Adapted Eye (1987 Best Novel)
The Long Goodbye (1955 Best Novel)
Reality Check (2010 Best Young Adult)

If you reached your goal and aren't listed here, please let me know!

I plan to continue the Edgar Awards Reading Challenge in 2012 and will create a separate post with all the details for joining me. Thanks to Karen, Veggiemomof2, and Monica for sticking with me in 2011!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 reading challenges

I narrowly managed to achieve all my reading challenge goals for 2011. Klingsor's Last Summer by Hermann Hesse, which I was reading as a K title for the A to Z Challenge really slowed me down in the last couple weeks of the year. I had a hard time getting through the novella "Klein and Wagner." Anyway, December 30 I managed to finish it and The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell and read Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman in its entirety. Thank goodness for short books or I never would have made my hundred book goal!

To see all my 2011 challenge reads, check out this page. A wrap up post for the 2011 Edgar Awards Reading Challenge will be up sometime this week!