Monday, October 20, 2014

By A Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman

By A Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman
Published June 2004 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: I bought my audiobook copy at my local library book sale

Publisher's Summary:
Private investigator Tess Monaghan doesn't know quite what to make of her new client, Mark Rubin—a wealthy Orthodox Jew who refuses to shake her hand and doles out vitally important information in grudging dribs and drabs. The successful Baltimore furrier claims he and his beautiful wife had a flawless, happy marriage. Yet one day, without warning, Natalie gathered up their children and vanished—and the police can't do anything because all the evidence indicates she left willingly.

But the deeper Tess digs, the more she suspects that the motive behind Natalie's reckless flight lies somewhere in the gap between what Rubin will not say and what he refuses to believe. An intricate web of betrayal and vengeance is already beginning to unravel, as memory begets rage, and rage begets desperation . . . and murder. And suddenly the lives of three innocent children are dangling by the slenderest of threads.

My Thoughts:
My third Lippman book, my second Tess Monaghan. As much as I enjoyed Lippman's What The Dead Know, I was more than half tempted to give up on the Tess Monaghan series after the disappointing No Good Deeds which I thought was overly complicated.

In By A Spider's Thread, Tess's personal life plays a much smaller part in the story but there is still plenty to learn about Tess here. This one really made me want to go back and pick up the series from the beginning and find out what makes Tess Tess.

The twists and turns of By A Spider's Thread were more than enough to keep the story interesting and the reader guessing. Lippman gives enough clues to allow readers to start to figure out things on their own - and if you're really paying close attention, you might even figure it out before all is revealed. Even so, it was interesting to watch it all play out. Perhaps the best part for me was that once the big finish played out, Lippman didn't spend a ton of time closing things down, something writers all too often get bogged down with. All in all, a very satisfying listen!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life: It Goes On - October 19

A huge thanks to Andi of Estella's Revenge and Heather of Capricious Reader for all their work pulling together another edition of Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-thon (and all of those people who organized cheerleaders, hosted hours, and donated prizes!). There were nearly 1000 readers, from all corners of the world who participated this fall - I know I commented on blogs in France, Norway, Denmark and Russia. So great that this largely solitary activity has brought so many people together!

As usual, I didn't make it the full 24 hours and was distracted a good chunk of the rest of the time. Once Miss H is all moved, I'm hoping to set up an office/reading room in her room (sshhh - don't tell her!) and I'm hoping to get much more reading done for the spring 2015 edition!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: I'll finish up Josh Bazell's Beat The Reaper. I am really enjoying this one; really original and, boy, has it got me thinking. Film rights have been acquired with an eye toward Leonardo diCaprio as lead actor which would just be wrong. Peter Brown is a very large, Jewish man. Anyone buy Leo as that?

Watching: We have not added one new-this-season show to our rotation., baseball, Person of Interest, The Voice. You know, the usual.

Reading: According to Goodreads, I've now read 65 books this year. Barring a massive reading slump, my goal of 75 books this year should be met by the end of November. I moved Still Alice off my nightstand and The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler onto it.

Making: Egg casserole inspired by my garden harvest on Thursday, baked potato soup, homemade pizza, and fried apples today after a trip to the apple orchard.

Planning: On spending this week getting Miss H ready to move into her new digs next weekend. Happy for her. Not so much for me - this mama does not like her chicks to leave the nest even though I know that's what they're meant to do. On the plus side...reading room!

Grateful for: My kids who can be wonderfully thoughtful. Mini-him walked in this morning with Dunkin' Donuts for us and Mini-me went to spend the afternoon helping his grandparents. No matter what else my kids do with their lives, I wanted them to grow up to be good people who are happy in their lives. So far, so good!

Enjoying: The wonderful fall weather we've been having. The Big Guy and I took off for Nebraska City today (home of many apple orchards and the birthplace of Arbor Day). We picked up some of our favorite apples (which you can't get any where else), hit up a couple of wine tastings, enjoyed a picnic lunch, collected fall leaves, and checked out the Living History exhibits at Arbor Lodge (home of J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day). We had so much fun!

Feeling: See "Planning."

Looking forward to: Book club this week! I missed last month with a nasty cold and I can't tell you how much I miss these ladies!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's On Like Donkey Kong!

I must be excited for Dewey's this year - I actually woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. If you know me, you'll know how weird that is - I am so not a morning person. Although I am a middle-aged person and I find myself awake in bed earlier and earlier on the weekends. Must find a way to stop doing that - Z-Quil at night, maybe? But I digress. On with the reading!

Up and ready!
Today's opening meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I'm in the heartland of the United States, almost the true center of the country.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? This Dark Road To Mercy - I loved Wiley Cash's previous book, A Land More Kind Than Home so hopes are high for this one.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I didn't, gasp, actually pick up any snacks this time.  Although The Big Guy did pick up some Halloween candy yesterday. What were the chances that was going to last until Halloween anyway? So I guess I'm most looking forward to a couple mini Kit Kats in the late hours as a reward for staying up late.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Oh, what do you not already know between my About Me page, all the memes I've done over the years, and the fact that I spill my guts to you every Sunday? Have I ever told you how much I like my collections? Frogs, a napkin collection handed down from my mom, old books, sugar and creamer sets, witches, boxes, a bottle collection that belonged to my grandma, and lots and lots of sets of dishes. That's secretly why I have to keep decluttering my house - to make room for my collections!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I'm going to give myself permission to take at least one nap and make sure I participate more in the activities. After all, what's the point of participating in a world-wide event if you never interact with the other participants? I was, by the way, the 725th person to sign up this year!


Pages Read: 46
Books Read:
Hours Spent Cheerleading: 30 mins
1. Voted for coffee (#TeamTrollope) at Fig and Thistle's picture challenge
2. Posted a picture on Twitter of one of my bookshelves for The Book Monster's "Shelfie" challenge


Pages Read: 106
Books Read: 0
Hours Spent Cheerleading: 1 hr 20 mins
No New Mini-Challenges
Haircuts: 1 (not even mine - had to cut Mini-him's hair for a wedding)


Pages Read: 179
Books Read: Finished Ann Leary's The Good House
Hours Spent Cheerleading: 1 hr 45 mins
No New Mini-Challenges
Meals Eaten: 2
Needy, Distracting People In The House: 2


Pages Read: 240
Books Read: 1
Hours Spent Cheerleading: 1 hr 45 mins
Mini Challenge: Show It Off!, hosted by Dead Book Darling, a photo of a prized signed book
Character Cheering, hosted by Love, Laughter, And A Touch of Insanity

My Late Night Buddy

Pages Read: 440
Books Read: 2 - just finished This Dark Road To Mercy
Hours Spent Cheerleading: 1 hr 45 mins - a cheerleading failure!
Mini-Challenge: The Pet Parade, hosted by Estella's Revenge
Meals Eaten: 3
Football Games Watched: all of one plus several others out of the corner of my eye - very distracting
Unexpected Guests: 1

That's it folks. I'm calling it a day. Oh so much less reading than I was hoping to get done...once again. I really did think I'd have two books finished before the Husker game came on but no such luck. After that, it was tough to get back in the groove. I've gotten a bit of a second wind but I have a feeling I'd walk up in a few hours asleep on the couch with a book at my feet and a major back ache. I never did find time for those naps I had planned! What fun to spend so much time talking to people on Twitter, checking out mini-challenges, and giving myself permission to read as much as I could for the past 20 hours!

End of Event Meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 19 - it was all I could do not to just take a "little" nap, i.e. fall asleep for the night on the couch

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Every year I think I need to add mysteries. Literary fiction is fine early on but later on, you need short books, graphic novels or mystery/thrillers to keep going.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? No - it was great! So many people do such great work to make this event something that pulls readers together worldwide.

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? As a cheerleader, I really liked the spreadsheets as a means to make sure everyone got contacted and to provide each other updates on the blogs on our list.

How many books did you read? 2

What were the names of the books you read? Which book did you enjoy most? The Good House, This Dark Road To Mercy - I really liked them both a lot.

Which did you enjoy least? n/a

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? You have to make a choice - more comments (i.e. shorter, more generic) or more personal comments directly relating to the post you are commenting on. To do the latter, you've gotta know going in, cheerleading will take a chunk of time.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I'll definitely participate again and absolutely cheer. I'd like to say I'll be able to do more, but we'll have to see what life is like by then.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's Readathon Time, It's Readathon Time!

It's time for the fall edition of Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. You know what that means - I'll get very excited about the stack of books I'm going to get read on Saturday, I'll stock up on snack foods and beverages to keep me going, and I'll...fall asleep only about an hour later than I usually do. In my defense, I do stay up pretty late to begin with. But after fighting through the first couple of these and not even enjoying my last few hours of reading (plus spending all of Sunday groggy after only a few hours of sleep), I've pretty well backed off the idea that I'll make it all 24 hours.

This time, I'm also going to try to be less focused on reading (although, I know, that is what the title of the event says this is about) and more focused on community. I'll be cheerleading again and I'll try to do several of the mini-challenges. Since I know that a lot of you don't care about any of this, though, there will be only one post that I'll just update.

Here's what I'm hoping to get read:

I'm reading Ann Leary's The Good House right now for book club on Tuesday and it will be up first to get finished.

Then I'll move on to Wiley Cash's This Dark Road To Mercy which I'm reading for an upcoming TLC Book Tours stop.

Then, if by some miracle, I'm still awake and have time, I'll start From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg which is on my Classics Club list and which I was recently inspired to pick up while reading Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn
Published August 2014 by Viking Adult
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for a honest review

Publisher's Summary:
In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection to home. It is the story of her midwestern childhood, its memorable home cooks, and the delicious recipes she grew up with. Flinn shares tales of her parents’ pizza parlor in San Francisco, where they sold Uncle Clarence’s popular oven-fried chicken, as well as recipes for the vats of chili made by her former army cook Grandpa Charles, fluffy Swedish pancakes from Grandma Inez, and cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts. Through these dishes, Flinn came to understand how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be a form of communication.

My Thoughts:
During 2011's Fall Feasting I was introduced to Kathleen Flinn when I read Kitchen Counter Cooking School (which still lives with my cookbooks). A year later, Fall Feasting found me reading Flinn's The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry. Needless to say, when the publisher offered me the chance to read Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, I didn't hesitate.

With The Sharper Your Knife, Flinn caught some grief for using food as metaphor for life. Clearly, judging from the title, Flinn didn't care. For Flinn, her whole life is about food as metaphor; it played such an important part in her life. Her grandfather wooed her grandmother with food, her father honed his cooking chops preparing meals for hundred of soldiers when he was enlisted, her grandmother kept her children alive through desperate times by means of her ability to make a meal from whatever she could find, and her own family survived lean years by surviving off the land. Like Flinn, my own family is an American Midwest family and Flinn's stories couldn't help but make me think of the way food has played a big part in our lives.

By introducing readers to so much of her family history, Flinn shows how each of them contributed a piece to make her the person she is today. She certainly has some interesting characters on her family tree and life in a family of five children is always full of stories. Although Burnt Toast is not a long book, and there are recipes included in each chapter just as which Flinn's previous books, it still feels like it could have been edited down a bit more, particularly when it came to details about the lives of Flinn's siblings. Still, in the end, much of that detail served to show the kind of people Flinn's parents were and to show why, when the worst happened, Flinn turned to food to save herself and her mother through food.