Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dead ScaredDead Scared by S.J. Bolton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

S.J. Bolton is an author on which I can always count to provide me with one of my favorite reads of the year.  Such consistency is readers' heaven to book addicts such as myself.  In her latest thriller, Bolton returns to the characters of her previous book, Now You See Me--Lacey Flint, the young detective constable with a secret past, and DI Mark Joesbury, the man she can't forget and who can't forget her.  Featuring return characters is something new for Bolton, and as I enjoy these two characters so much, I'm hoping she will make these books the beginning of a series, although I still want more stand-alones, too.  Yes, I ask too much, but S.J. Bolton is fully capable of delivering it.  The common thread in all of Bolton's novels is the psychological suspense which builds throughout a brilliant plot.  In Dead Scared, DI Joesbury enlists the aid of DC Lacey Flint when a rash of suicides at Cambridge University seems to indicate underlying interference.  Lacey is to pose as a student and observe campus life close to the latest victim.  Of course, Lacey Flint never just observes, and she soon finds herself embroiled in a tangled web of dangerous mind games where her troubled past threatens to make her a perfect target.  Mark Joesbury must deal with feelings he would rather not have for Lacey and trying to conduct a complex investigation.  The sinister forces behind the suicides threaten to destroy them all.  I enjoyed every page of this edge-of-your-seat novel and now must deal with my morning after grief of it being over.  Ah, the life of a reader is such an emotional roller coaster.    

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Just Read and Loved! The Yard by Alex Grecian

This debut novel by Alex Grecian is exactly my cup of tea, Victorian England tea that is.  "The Yard," of course, refers to Scotland Yard and takes place in the year 1889, with the Jack the Ripper murders still fresh in the minds of London inhabitants and those who failed to catch the monster, the monster who introduced a new sort of murder to the city, serial murder with unrelated victims subjected to a depravity beyond the normal murders of acquaintances and kin.  As a result of the Ripper murders, a new squad has been formed at the Yard called the Murder Squad, a force of 12 detectives assigned the escalating murders of London.  Inspector Detective Walter Day is new to the squad and has been assigned the murder of one of their own, a member of the elite Murder Squad.  The advent of criminology as a scientific method of gathering evidence and solving crimes is introduced through the character of Dr. Bernard Kingsley, coroner and meticulous investigator himself.  These two dedicated crime solvers, along with a brilliantly created cast of support characters, must see their way through the fog (yes, I did) of clues and distractions to find a killer who is becoming all too comfortable with murder.  Grecian's writing is so strong in so many areas--characterization, plot, setting, dialogue--that the phrase "page turner" is an easy assignation.  The novel is rich with historic detail and references that blend effortlessly into the story.  I was delighted to learn that this book is the first in a series that will be providing readers with what we always want after reading an especially good book, which is more, more, more. 
 My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I am a person who loves to make lists, so making reading lists is one of my favorite reading activities, outside of the actual reading itself.  I always keep a running list of what I intend (good intentions are the pathway to reading remorse, not hell) to read for each year, highlighting a book when I've finished it.  Yes, I get all giddy when I highlight a title.  Although we are well into the summer season, I am now ready to post my summer reading list.  Remember the good intentions and all.  The one guaranteed consistency about my reading lists is the constant alteration of them, but I do hope to read many of the following titles.  If I fail to accomplish reading any this summer, they will undoubtedly make it onto my fall or winter reading lists.  The addition of children's or teen titles is quite likely to this summer list.  I've included a few YA titles, but I haven't conferred with my 11-year-old granddaughter yet as to any buddy reads.  So for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, I vow to read as many of the titles on my Summer Reading List for 2012 as possible.

Summer Reading List 2012

Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton
The Yard: A Novel by Alex Grecian
Perla by Carolina De Robertis
Canada by Richard Ford
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
All About Emily by Connie Willis
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir by Anna Quindlen
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen
UnWholly by Neal Schusterman
100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
Dandelion Fire: Book 2 of the 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King
Cemetery Girl by David Bell
The Reckoning by Alma Katsu
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
 Istanbul Passage: A Novel by Joseph Kanon


Friday, June 8, 2012

Armchair BEA, Day Five:  Ask the Experts

I consider myself a newbie blogger, even though the blog has been somewhat set up for a few years.  It's only recently that I decided that I need to get off the fence about my reading blog, and, well, blog.  I'm learning a lot of new tricks, but sometimes I still feel lost.  I'm hoping that it will all get easier with time.  I only have one bit of advice so far, and that is you have to be committed to your blog if you want to have any success with it.  Reaching out to other bloggers and finding ones that inspire you to improvement are essential, too.

I have so many questions for the experts, but I will limit them to five here.
1.  I am having trouble with feedburner, trying to establish a feed for my blog.  It has something to do with my web address, but it works fine everywhere else.  I really want to add the option of email subscriptions, but I'm unable to.  Any suggestions?
2.   Any preferences for a blog provider?  I'm using eblog by Google, but I'm wondering if Wordpress is better?
3.  Is a blog designer worth the price?
4.  Is there such a thing as a blog mentor?  If so, where would I find one?
5.  Is there a blog template site that caters to books and reading?

I so hope that I receive some replies to these questions.  I need all the advice that I can get! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Armchair BEA, Day Four:  Beyond Your Blog

"Has blogging opened up opportunities for you beyond getting free, advance copies of new books? Has it helped you get offers to write or review elsewhere (maybe even for pay)? Have you gotten invites to special events or places you might not have been to otherwise? Today, we'd like you to talk about those opportunities in you own posts, and later this morning, we'll have a guest post from one of our own Armchair BEA team members, about her freelancing experiences."

Actually, I would love to receive free, advance copies of new books, and I would consider that a step forward in my blogging.  I'm really trying to get more into the swing of things in the blogging world, especially the world of book blogging.  And, yes, I would love to do some freelance writing, have my reviews posted elsewhere, and get invited to events due to my blogging.  I would do it for free, although being paid is always a nice dream.  Today will be a real learning experience for me as I read others' thoughts on what they are involved in and how to get there.  I do post reviews on, which connects me to a wide variety of readers and where the comments are most encouraging.  If I could connect to a publication and have reviews published, it would definitely be a dream come true.  Now, I need to listen to all of the Armchair BEA voices of experience and take notes.

 Armchair BEA, Day 3:  Networking

First, I must apologize for being a day late on this posting.  My excuse is that I was gone all day spoiling my grandchildren, another passion of mine.  The topic for day 3 was networking, how we are "involved offline and in real life, establishing connections with local bookstores or libraries or even beyond."  It also includes "partnerships with the local literary scene, attending author events and signings, or getting together with blogger in your area."  I was afraid that I wouldn't have much to say on this topic, as I haven't tried to connect my blog to places or events outside of the Internet, but then I started thinking about what bookish things I do outside of my online involvement and how I might even start to connect blogging with those events.  I can only thank Armchair BEA for broadening my horizons and encouraging such thinking (one of the main reasons I wanted to do Armchair BEA).

For quite a few years now, I have attended author signings when possible and one particular book festival.  Author signings, which include the opportunity to hear the author speak and meet said author, are always so much fun and are such a powerful connector to that particular author and his/her works.  It definitely makes reading "real."  Some of the authors whom I have been privileged to meet in this way include Diana Gabaldon, Sena Jeter Naslund, Tess Gerritsen, Azar Nafisi, and Silas House.  An author signing is such an intimate affair, even when heavily attended.  I still seem to be dazzled by the down-to-earthiness of each author, the awareness that this wonderfully talented person actually exits on the same planet as I do.  The events lend themselves to some memorable experiences outside of meeting the author, too.  I will someday soon share the harrowing experience of my friend and I as we tried to get back to the lovely Shakertown Inn after the awesomeness of Diana Gabaldon, creator of our dreamy Scottish lad named Jamie.  It literally was a dark and stormy night!  I'm thinking that perhaps I can make some connections with these authors to my blog in the future.

Book festivals are the epitome of a book lover's lust realized.  All that talent, all those books!  I am drooling just remembering.  The largest such gathering I've attended is The National Book Festival held in Washington, D.C. every September.  It's been a few years since I had the adventure of a lifetime there (well, actually 2, as I attended two different years), but it was the stuff dreams (for book lovers anyway) are made of.  There is much standing in line at this event, but we bookies don't mind, as we can always read a book or talk to a fellow book lover.  A few of the wonderful authors that I met at this fantastic festival were Neil Gaiman (been there, done that, and have the picture to prove it), Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Peck, Katherine Patterson, Floyd Cooper, and Kate DiCamilo.  My greatest regret about the 2004 festival is that Connie Willis was there, and I didn't start reading and falling in love with her writing until later.

A more local book festival that I attend every year is the Southern Kentucky Book Festival (SOKY) held in April in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  As it is a smaller gathering than the National Book Festival, it is more the atmosphere of the intimate book signings.  I get so excited when I think about past festivals and authors I've met, that my mind flies ahead of my fingers on the keys.  There are so many of my favorite authors that I've been able to hear speak and converse with at this festival, and all of it within an hour of my house.  The authors that have particularly been special to me at SOKY are Kathleen Kent (spent an evening talking to this beautiful, articulate, talented lady), Pat Conroy, Harlan Coben, Scot Turow,  Deana Raybourn, Carl Hiassen, and Ellen Hopkins.  I just know I've left someone wonderful out of this list.  Will kick myself later.  What has amazed me as I hear authors speak is that they are as interesting in person as on paper, and they seem to have a sense of humor about themselves and their works, not a sense of entitlement.  My ole gray matter has been mulling over a book bloggers' connection to the SOKY for next year.  Hmm, turn wheels, turn!

So, while I don't consider myself to really network outside of my blog, I actually do, but I must now make an effort to connect the off-line with the online.  Of course, with all the experienced bloggers and networkers I'm being exposed to here on Armchair BEA, that process should be easier than before I landed here among their wisdom.    


Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Armchair BEA, Day 2:  Best of 2012, So Far

Welcome back to day 2 of the Armchair BEA!  Today's topic is our picks for the best of what we've read so far in 2012 and what books we are looking forward to reading the rest of the year.  So, without further adieu, here are my choices for best of what I've read so far.  Please take a look at my reviews for these books by clicking my review tab.  Also, to read what books I'm most looking forward to in new publications, click on "read more" after my best so far picks.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney  
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley 
Emma by Jane Austen

The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA 2012, Day 1: An Introduction

Today begins BookExpo America (BEA) in New York City, and for those of us who are unable to attend "in person," there is .  The first event we armchair participants will experience is the introduction to ourselves and our blogs.  I
hope that the following questions provided by the Armchair BEA will help to acclimate people to my blog and encourage you wonderful fellow readers to become a follower and participant on my blog.  I know I'm already finding fantastic new blogs through these introductions.

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself:  Who are you?  How long have you been blogging?  Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Kathy, and I'm in my fabulous fifties, which most days really do seem like the new 30s, well ok, 40s.  It's a great time in my life, with my two children being grown and having two granddaughters to spoil.  As it so happens, they both love books and reading, so I'm having the time of my life with that.  My 11-year-old granddaughter calls me up to talk about what she's reading, and we sometimes read the same book.  My 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter wants me to read to her or she (pretend) read to me every time we see each other.  I live in the western part of Kentucky on the Ohio River.  I am no longer working outside the home, having worked in my husband's retail business, taught, and substitute taught.  So, I have plenty of time (but could always use more, lol) to read, which is my passion outside my family.  I obtained my Masters in Library Media a few years ago and would love to use it by working in a library, but that hasn't happened yet.  I actually started this blog a few years back, but I've just become active in keeping it updated recently.  I am still learning a few things and hope that I can make it one other book lovers will frequently visit and enjoy.  I got into the blogging because I just can't stop talking about books, and I thought the blogging forum would allow me to do that, sharing my reading experiences and reading about others' experiences.

2.  What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

 I love mystery series reading, and I have just started the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton, currently reading Aunt Dimity and the Good DeedAfter that will probably be S.J. Bolton's new book that comes out tomorrow,  Dead Scared, or Matthew Pearl's latest, The Technologists.  My favorite read thus far in 2012 is a tie between The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney, Emma by Jane Austen, and Stormy Weather by Carl Hiassen.  It's just to hard to pick one when they are all so different.  I read a lot of young adult and children's books, too, so I pick my favorites there as Unwind by Neal Schusterman and The London Eye by Siobhan Dowd.  Books that somewhat fall inbetween adult and young adult that I thoroughly enjoyed were Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mystery series.

3.  Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I secretly want to get a tattoo and probably will for my 60th birthday, as I feel that I should plan something bold and daring for that milestone.  It may not be completely non-book-related, as I have found a wonderful little book tattoo in which I might indulge.  Of course, it might still be a little mermaid, as that is what I've always thought I would get.  As I am a bit shy about it (probably the only thing I'm shy about), it would be somewhere on my body that could be covered if I want.  Then again, I might just not care by 60 if it shows or not. 


4.  If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

It is just impossible for me to choose one favorite book or one favorite author or one favorite character with which to dine and converse.  So, here is my solution.  Picking only one author, it would be Karen Maitland, author of favorite books of mine, Company of Liars, The Owl Killers, and The Gallows Curse.  Her historic fiction is so well-written and researched, it has been one of my most delightful discoveries in the past few years.  Also, Ms. Maitland is a first rate person, who not only sent me an autographed copy of her latest book when I couldn't find it in the United States, but she also sent me a postcard depicting her hometown of Lincoln and a personal note on it.  She appreciates her fans.  I do, also, have a fondness for British fiction.  The second part of my answer (my, how I do go on) is that I would love to have a group dinner with the following authors--Alan Bradley, Neil Gaiman, Maggie Steifvater, Paul Jennings, Pat Conroy, Anna Quindlen, and Carl Hiassen.  The reason is that these authors have some of the best senses of humor I've ever encountered, and most of them are quirky, which I value very highly.  

5.  What literary location would you most like to visit?  Why?

I have long wanted to go to England and Scotland and visit quite a few literary locations.  However, the one location to which I dream of most is the wild and wooly moors of Devonshire from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I adore books in which the setting becomes a living, breathing character, and nobody did that better than Arthur Conan Doyle in this gripping tale.  I have to read this book every so often and ensconce myself in that atmosphere of fog and hills, ever careful of the Grimpen Mire.

6.  Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging?  How?

My tastes have not really changed, but I have discovered so many wonderful new titles and authors in the genres which I enjoy most.  I usually pride myself in being aware of a wide variety of authors and titles, but I definitely had to put that pride in check after reading different blogs with access to informative reviews and introductions to titles that I may have missed or did miss.  Each blog is like a treasure chest that when opened astounds me with the riches therein.  Of course, when I read about a book that a fellow blogger loves and adores, I take a closer look at it, and it usually moves up on my TBR list.