Miscellaneous Ramblings

I joined a book club!

I have been on the hunt for an IRL book club for quite some time. I am a member of a Facebook book club group that meets locally. But they seem to just get together at local restaurants for drinks under the auspices of a book club. Which would be okay … if I clicked with the members better … or liked their book selections. 😦 The book club through my library meets one Thursday a month at noon, and I am always 45 minutes away on Thursdays for work. I apparently don’t live in a very literary area so those are my only options. And neither works for me.

So I’ve joined Modern Mrs. Darcy’s book club online. I had looked into joining this for quite some time, but didn’t really want to pay to belong. But I’ve recently cancelled both of my beauty box subscriptions, my meal planning subscription and my online workout subscription …. all of those were costing me $40 a month! MMD is only $10 a month … so I’m still coming out $30 ahead each month, lol.

I’ve just joined and I’m still getting used to the website. But I’m really liking what I’m seeing! Some of the book selections are not really my cup of tea, but for the most part they are. But I’m going to look at it as a way to expand my reading horizons! 😀 As if I need any more books to read! Eek!

And now I’m off to the library to pick up April’s selection!

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2.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell

Mallory’s Oracle
by Carol O’Connell

Mallory's Oracle

Copyright: 1994

Pages: 310

Read: March 14-18, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Purchased at Used Book Store

 
Blurb: Jonathan Kellerman says Mallory’s Oracle is “a joy.” Nelson DeMille and other advance readers have called it “truly amazing, ” “a classic” with “immense appeal.” It is all of that, and more: a stunning debut novel about a web of unsolved murders in New York’s Gramercy Park and the singular woman who makes them her obsession.

At its center is Kathleen Mallory, an extraordinary wild child turned New York City policewoman. Adopted off the streets as a little girl by a police inspector and his wife, she is still not altogether civilized now that she is a sergeant in the Special Crimes section. With her ferocious intelligence and green gunslinger eyes, Mallory (never Kathleen, never Kathy) operates by her own inner compass of right and wrong, a sense of justice that drives her in unpredictable ways. She is a thing apart.

And today, she is a thing possessed. Although more at home in the company of computers than in the company of men, Mallory is propelled onto the street when the body of her adoptive father, Louis Markowitz, is found stabbed in a tenement next to the body of a wealthy Gramercy Park woman. The murders are clearly linked to two other Gramercy Park homicides Markowitz had been investigating, and now his cases become Mallory’s, his death her cause. Prowling the streets, sifting through his clues, drawing on his circle of friends and colleagues, she plunges into a netherworld of light and shadow, where people are not what they seem and truth shifts without warning. And a murderer waits who is every bit as wild and unpredictable as she….

Filled with deep, seductive atmosphere and razor-sharp prose, Mallory’s Oracle is gripping, resonant suspense of tantalizing complexity—a genuinely unforgettable novel.


Review: Okay so this is the first book in the Kathleen Mallory series. I had actually acquired this book a long time ago and at some point took it off my Goodreads TBR (I’m assuming it was going to be part of a purge) but for whatever reason, I put it back on my shelf to keep. I should have let it go in that purge…

This book was really strange. I had a very hard time connecting to any of the characters. I actually re-read the first few pages in the beginning because I felt like I had missed something. I hadn’t. It just didn’t draw me in. Because of that lack of early disinterest, I know for a fact I missed a lot going forward. At the very end when it was all revealed, I had no idea how on earth the killer ended up being the killer. It just didn’t make sense to me at all. There was a lot of unnecessary things along the way in my opinion. An entire storyline regarding mediums and seances? Had absolutely nothing to do with the serial killings being investigated. What was the point?!

I didn’t care for it. I won’t be reading further in this series. I didn’t like the characters. Mallory is cold, way too cold for my taste. I never could figure out why Charles “inherited” her…. yeah, this book just didn’t work for me very well.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Sookie Stackhouse

Review: All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead
by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 323

Read: March 9-14, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased at the Used Book Store
Blurb: Betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse must now not only deal with a possible new man in her life – the oh-so-handsome shape-shifter Quinn – but also contend with a long-planned vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, the local vampire queen is vulnerable to those hungry for a take-over. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she’ll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe…


Review: This is the 7th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I read the 6th installment back in early 2016. Oops? No wonder I was a little out of sorts trying to remember what had happened in a few places….

Most of this particular book is dealing with the actions that happened in the 6th book, so I definitely recommend reading that one before this one to save some serious confusion.

I enjoyed this one though. It was interesting and kept me entertained throughout the entire book. It definitely renewed my interest in this series and I hope I get to the 8th book sooner rather than later.

 

First chapter

First Chapter/First Paragraph – March 27, 2018

Well, it’s been three years since I last participated in this … oops?! It even has a new home with Vicki at I’d Rather Be at the Beach ….

This week I’m featuring the intro to Barnes & Noble’s March Serial Reads selection:

Art in the Blood (Sherlock Holmes Adventures, #1)

My dear friend Sherlock Holmes once said, ‘Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.’ And so it was for him. In my numerous accounts of the adventures we shared, I have mentioned his violin playing, his acting – but his artistry went much deeper than that. I believe it was at the very root of his remarkable success as the world’s first consulting detective.

I have been loath to write in detail about Holmes’s artistic nature, lest it reveal a vulnerability in him that could place him in danger. It is well known that in exchange for visionary powers, artists often suffer with extreme sensitivity and violent changeability of temperament. A philosophical crisis, or simply the boredom of inactivity, could send Holmes spinning into a paralysed gloom from which I could not retrieve him.

It was in such a state that I discovered my friend in late November of 1888.

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, S

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth
by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 320

Read: March 2-8, 2018

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: ARC from NetGalley

 
Blurb: Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

From blazing new talent Zoje Stage, Baby Teeth is a story about a perfect-looking family, and a darling little girl who wants nothing more than to kill her mother.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own.

I first found this book in a NetGalley email advertising it as Read Now. I immediately logged in and downloaded it. It caught my eye nearly instantly! It looked like such a good book, I knew I had to read it.

And oh my goodness was it so creepy good. I devoured it. I was absolutely enthralled by Hanna and Suzette’s story.

The only reason this one didn’t get a 5 star rating is because I had a little bit of a hard time accepting that a 7 year old could actually be as evil as Hanna. At one point it flashes back to when Hanna was like 2 or 3 and she realized that Mommy was going to fail her “test”? I mean, come on – I have two children, almost 6 and almost 3 years old …. there’s no way at 2/3 a child could think in that manner. And to imagine that at 7 she could be actively plotting to kill her mother? I’m not sure that I buy that either…. And we won’t even talk about the unhealthy obsession Hanna has with her father. Yikes.

The ending (or really lack thereof) was a little disappointing. But I can totally understand why Ms. Stage chose to end it as she did. I can appreciate that, but I would have liked a little more closure than I got. Maybe a teenage Hanna will re-emerge in a few years?! 😉

I’m nearly positive this is going to be one of the most talked about books this summer. It’s definitely buzz worthy. It’s controversial. It’s enthralling. I’m glad that I read it and I’m looking forward to Ms. Stage’s future ventures in writing!

While I can fully appreciate that this book would not be for everyone, it’s definitely a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be recommending it to everyone I know!

 

Meme, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – March 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

March 20: Books On My Spring TBR

I don’t normally like to make lists like this. Basically because I completely fail and not a single book off this list will be read. Oops?! Whatever. Here’s what I’d “like” to get to this spring, I need to revisit some series books that I’m woefully behind on. And then a few new(ish) acquisitions that have really caught my eye.

Grave PerilWhat HappenedThe Final DetailLost LightAll Together DeadLittle Fires EverywhereThe Alice NetworkThe Seven Husbands of Evenlyn HugoHoliday in DeathNight Prey

Mailbox Monday, Meme

Mailbox Monday, March 19, 2018

Mailbox Mondays

So I just returned from our Florida vacation. It was a good time – maybe a little too long and too much togetherness 🙂

Who takes a vacation without bringing home books?! Not me apparently….. I may have gone a little crazy this time. I came home with 13 new to me books. Five of them I got from my grandma’s shelf at her condo and the other 8 came from the Goodwill we stopped at. And I was bummed because apparently they have a Goodwill Bookstore down there that I missed. Ugh! Maybe next trip I’ll make it there 😀

From my grandma’s shelves I got these:

Among the WickedThe Affair16th SeductionA Fatal GraceFamily Jewels

And from the Goodwill I got these:

A Man Called OveBritt-Marie Was HereThe Cinderella MurderDark MatterSeven for a SecretHow to Murder a MillionaireJackabyThe Kept Woman

I think I’m good for a while …. ha! According to my Goodreads list I have 449 unread books on my shelves. And I know for a fact that not all of my books are listed on there. Eek. I definitely need to read faster than I acquire…..

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775) by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775)
by James Thomas Flexner

George Washington- The Forge of Experience

Copyright: 1965

Pages: 345

Read: Feb. 7 – March 7, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased on powells.com

 

Blurb: In this deeply significant work, James Thomas Flexner has given life to the stony image of George Washington which stares at us so impersonally from Mount Rushmore, the dollar bill and the schoolroom wall.

With a clear, swiftly readable style, Flexner shows the wholly human way in which the character of one of the greatest men in history was shaped and how it, in turn, shaped his achievements. Able and energetic, impulsive and vulnerable, Washington from the first had major virtues – but he was also fallible.

Put into a position of leadership in the French-Indian conflict at the age of twenty-two – a position for which he was not yet ready – the young Lieutenant Colonel initiated actions which showed more bravery than good judgment. His hasty attack in the forest, on what the French insisted was a party escorting an ambassador, proved to be the first shot fired in the global Seven Years’ War. Yet each mistake – and success – of these early years was part of the vast experience which ultimately molded Washington into what Flexner calls “one of the noblest and greatest men who ever lived,” a man prepared to become, during the American Revolution, “more than a military leader: he was the eagle, the standard, the flag, the living symbol of the cause.”

Flexure covers forty-three years of Washington’s life in this volume, the first in a series of four planned to carry Washington through the Revolutionary War and on to the end of his life.

Vivid on the one hand and factually solid on the other, Flexner’s narrative absorbingly shows us the future hero as a callow youth, writing bad verse and in love with love. We see the era and the society which formed Washington and the individuals who mattered to him: his mother, who became an obdurate squatter on the farm he inherited; his beloved and ailing older brother, Lawrence, who married into the distinguished Fairfax family; George William Fairfax, who, in turn, married Sally Cary; and Sally, who stirred in Washington such forbidden ardor that twenty-five years later he could write her that none of the great events of his career, “nor all of them together, have been able to eradicate from my mine those happy moments, the happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company.”

But it was Martha Custis, the handsome, domestic, timid and loyal widow he married, who brought the future President that happiness of a serener order which made “domestic enjoyments” at Mount Vernon and effective counterpoise, throughout his career, to ambition in the world of fame.

Impeccably researched, this work quotes directly from Washington’s letters, diaries and documents in presenting the most engrossing biography yet of the Father of Our Country.


Review: This is my second George Washington book on my Presidential Reading journey. I have the other three installments by Mr. Flexner and I intend to eventually put together an all-encompassing review of the four volumes together. So for now I will just write up a few of my thoughts on this particular installment.

My chief complaint regarding Ellis’ His Excellency was that I wanted more of George Washington – who he was and where he came from. This installment definitely fulfilled that desire. I was glad to really get a good idea of who Washington was from his earlier years. I found it interesting to read about his mother – who was not exactly what you would call a supportive/loving mother. His marriage to Martha was also discussed more in depth, and I greatly appreciated learning more about the relationship they shared.

I enjoyed learning new things about Washington’s earlier years. But I also struggled to get through the book at times. Having been written in the 1960s, I didn’t find it as readable as more contemporary books are. Mr. Flexner made great use of direct quotes from Washington’s personal letters/diaries, which was interesting to a certain extent, but I felt that it bogged down at times.

A great portion of this book surrounded the French and Indian War years. As usual, I do not really like reading about wars. (Which makes me very nervous to read the next installment, which covers the Revolutionary War years). I don’t really care to know about battle strategy and things like that. So I definitely stalled out quite a bit in reading this book when it hit that point.

Overall, it’s an okay book. I’m going to reserve my final judgment until I have finished the entire series because I feel like it’s going to come out much better when taken in its entirety rather than just each installment individually.

Meme, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – March 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

March 13: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)

So I went back through my entire Goodreads read list (all 647 from the last 11 years!) I went through the list looking for books that were out of my comfort zone that ended up surprising me in a good way. Here’s what I came up with that fit the bill:

Beastly

This was a Barnes & Noble Serial Reads selection. I think it was the second month I discovered it existed. I decided to give the book a shot and was pleasantly surprised by it. I don’t read a ton of YA and I had actually never read a retelling. But I ended up really enjoying this one! It’s definitely not a book I would have ever picked up on my own, so I’m glad that I took a chance on it!

 

 


Dead Until Dark

Okay, so I drug my feet on ever giving this one a shot. Vampires? Not really my thing. But I had read a few other Charlaine Harris books that I enjoyed, and at the time everyone and their brother was talking about the HBO series (which I never did and still haven’t seen a single episode of…) I decided I’d give it a shot. And it actually surprised me! Since then I have read up to the 6th book in the series … and it’s been a while since I visited Sookie, I need to get back into her world!

 


Divergent

Young Adult? Dystopian? Buzz book? I mean all of those things  individually are immediately off-putting to me. Putting them all together? I still can’t believe I even gave this one a shot! But for whatever reason, I loved it! I loved it so much I remember very specifically going straight to the bookstore and buying Insurgent and I read that one immediately after this one. I did end up finishing the trilogy, but I still think the first book was the best of the three.

 


Attachments

 

My memory of this one has ultimately failed me. 😦 But looking back over my review, I picked it up to fulfill a chit-lit requirement on a Goodreads challenge. And I apparently did not like the ending one bit. But I’m still surprised I rated this book as high as I did. I am no chick-lit convert, but I remember being engaged throughout the book. I haven’t read anything else by Ms. Rowell, I feel like I need to change that!

 


The Help
I read this book 7 years ago and I would still put it on my favorite book list. I picked it up on the recommendation of my grandmother. This is not the type of book she reads at all, so I figured if she loved it as much as she said she did then I would probably love it as well. And I did! If I was a re-reader, I would definitely re-read it. Unfortunately, I am not. However, I do continue to sing its praises. And I’m actually gifting a copy of this book to a friend who “doesn’t read” in the hopes that it will resonate with her in the same way it did for me. … Just don’t eat the chocolate pie 😀