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Archive for June, 2013

Mystery Monday – Gone Girl

Monday, June 17th, 2013

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

 

I think I’ve read a lot of books: hundreds, definitely; thousands, perhaps.  However, I have never (not that I can recall, anyway) read a book with such crazy characters.  And I’m talking about bat poop, where’s the straightjacket, have to pronounce ‘crazy’ with more than two syllables kind of crazy (if you’re not from the south and this seems unclear, that would be craa-aaa-zy).

Nick and Amy are in love.  Or are they?  On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary Amy goes missing, and, as is the case with these types of crimes, Nick is a suspect.  Isn’t it always the husband?  Delivered via alternating points of view, we get to know Nick, Amy, their personalities and their marriage. Flynn masterfully delivers a suspenseful story with intricate details that had me constantly second guessing what I thought was happening.

What’s strange about this book is I liked it in spite of not liking the characters.  Liking at least one character is usually important to me. But in this novel I really could care less about Nick or Amy.  More correctly, they frustrated me to no end and I wanted to toss the book across the room more than once.  I think they are shallow, reactive, manipulative and, well, crazy. I suppose with those things in common, they are the perfect couple.

For me to keep reading when I really didn’t like the characters means there has to be something else there.   So here are what I consider the good points: the plot moves quickly, there is always some new development (even if it is a small detail that really speaks volumes), and Flynn kept me guessing at the end of each chapter about what could be happening next.  This is not the type of mystery a reader figures out after just a few chapters.  Well, let me correct that.  If you’re reading this book and figure it all out after just reading a few chapters, remind me never to cross you because I’m afraid.  Very afraid.

This book had me shaking my head in dismay, dropping my jaw in shock and widening my eyes at the creepiness of it all. Yes, it’s that kind of weird.  But it’s an engrossing weird because I couldn’t put it down.  So if you get your thrills from wacky, crazy, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me kinds of stories, you need to get your hands on Gone Girl.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Book(s) Friday for Father’s Day Winners!

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

The Winner of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller, Tom Shales is:

Tricia S. (celestialsoul)

 

The Winner of Stone Cold by Robert B. Parker is: John B.

 

The Winner of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is: smith-jones

 

The Winner of 11/22/63 by Stephen King is: Melanie K.

 

The Winner of Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne is:

Steven M. (jsm91)

 

The Winner of The Perfect Book for Dad by Paul Barker is:

Tam R. (sammysue)

 

 

Congratulations to all of our Winners!

 

Thank you to everyone who commented on the Blog and Happy Father’s Day!

My Father, My Grandfather and Our Love of Books

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

By Mary S. (kilchurn)

 

 

I think my love of reading started with my father and grandfather.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them without a book (or two) in progress. 

 

If you walk into my Papa’s house, one of the first things you’ll notice is bookshelves; lots and lots of bookshelves.  Each shelf is overflowing with thick memoirs of World War II, leather-bound tomes documenting the “War of Northern Aggression”, biographies of some of the world’s most influential political figures and a few fiction novels just for fun.  Papa has read them all; every single one-most more than once.  At 86, he can quote his favorite lines, rattle off battle statistics and talk about military strategy like a four star general.  The man still reads several newspapers every day. 

 

 

I remember Papa telling stories at the breakfast table.  More often than not, I ended up with a cold breakfast because I was so focused on the stories.  I loved hearing about Ringo and Sambo and their adventures with the Poopampareno.   Later I found that some of Papa’s stories were adapted from “A Treasury of Southern Folklore” by B.A. Botkin.  Papa gave Dad a copy for Christmas in 1982, his own copy had been a gift in 1951 – it sits on my keeper shelf.

 

Cross the creek and head to my dad’s house and the first thing you encounter when you walk in the door is an overflowing bookshelf in the foyer.  It is full of stories of cowboys, lawmen, and big game hunters. 

 

 

My dad has always had a love of the outdoors and all things nature (except for snakes).  Death in the Long Grass by Peter H. Capstick stared out at me from our bookshelf as a child.  The title alone scared me.  Our copy had a pair of eyes peering out through tall grass.  I used to think the book was watching me.  As an adult, the book became a primer on African animals.  I bet you didn’t know that the deadliest animal in Africa is a hippo.  I remember sneaking and reading Man-Eaters of Tsavo by Lt. Colonel J. H. Patterson and loving it, despite its rather gruesome contents.  Later, I don’t know who was more surprised; me or Dad when we watched Ghost in the Darkness together and he realized I had read the story from which the movie was adapted. 

 

As I’ve grown older, one of the greatest joys for me has been giving them books that I know they will love.  I have to admit that it has become quite a challenge to find a book that they haven’t already read. 

 

Maybe your dad would love a new book for Father’s Day, I’m sure mine will!

 

 

 

 

Free Book(s) Friday for Father’s Day!

Friday, June 14th, 2013

In honor of all of our Dad Members, and Member’s Dads we are giving away 1 copy of each of the following books:

 

For sporty Dads

Those Guys Have All the Fun Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller, Tom Shales

Hardcover, ISBN 9780316178105

 

For Mystery Dads

Stone Cold by Robert B. Parker

Mass Market Paperback, ISBN 9780425198742

 

For History Dads

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Hardcover, ISBN 9781400064168

 

For Alternate History Dads

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Hardcover, ISBN 9781451627282

 

For Classic Dads

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Mass Market PaperBack, ISBN 9781416534723

 

And if none of the above fit the bill

The Perfect Book for Dad by Paul Barker

Hardcover, ISBN 9780061450723

 

 

 

 

 

We will choose one winner at random, for each book, from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

Please indicate the title of the book you would like to win in your comment!

 

 

You have until Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 12 noon EDT, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

 

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. There are many more titles that your Dad may enjoy. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!

 

 

Historical Fiction Review – The Path of the Wicked

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The Path of the Wicked by Caro Peacock

Review by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)

 

Liberty Lane is back but traveling out of London for her next case.  Fed up with Disraeli and the skullduggery which he thrives on, she refuses to be drawn into his new machinations.  To distance herself, Liberty takes a case in the west of England.  A timid magistrate has come to her for help, fearing an innocent man is about to be hung, and at a lost as how to stop this injustice.

For those who have read the Liberty Lane series, this is a worthy addition to the ongoing tale of our Miss Lane.  Ms. Peacock has set this story in the West Country where she resides, and the flavor of the region permeates the story line. Farm labor unrest, the ruling classes getting away with murder, and the working class taking it on the chin as usual.

In the mid 19th century, justice was not for the poor or the working class, and if you were a poor working class woman, there was no such thing as justice, not under the law nor in society.   Amos Legg and Lizzy are with Liberty on this case, and we get to know a bit more about Amos. Lizzy is as always her curmudgeonly self, a fish out of water in the country but invaluable to Liberty as she struggles to unravel the complicated tale which lead to the murder of an admired governess, and finally to the murderer.

Caro Peacock aka Gillian Linscott’s writing career has been based on the struggles of women, the poor and the working class in the Victorian and Edwardian periods.  She eloquently shows the beginnings of the social revolution in the 19th century, a revolution that was the only recourse against social injustice first for workers then onto women rights.  Sadly the problems she addresses are as relevant today as they were 140 years ago.

These books are not a preachy socialist, or feminist manifesto, but an entertaining way for us to be reminded that we didn’t always enjoy the freedoms we have now, and if we aren’t very careful we may wake up one day to find those rights so many fought for,  eroded and perhaps gone.

4 Stars!

Mystery Monday – The Black Dove

Monday, June 10th, 2013

The Black Dove by Steve Hockensmith

Review by Thomas F. (hardtack)

 

This is book three in a send-off of the great ‘consulting detective.’ However, in this series Holmes and Watson are portrayed by two brothers: Gustav ‘Old Red’ and Otto ‘Big Red’ Amlingmeyer. It is the latter part of the 19th century and Gustav and Otto were enjoying themselves as real American cowboys, when Otto, who is literate, started reading the Sherlock Holmes stories in Harper’s magazine to his brother Gustav, who isn’t literate. It doesn’t help that Gustav, the more serious of the brothers, believes that Holmes is a real person.

Gustav catches the detecting bug and tries to convince Otto to give up just being a cowboy and start investigating crimes in the first novel—Holmes on the Range. This gets them into one royal mess after another, as Gustav just doesn’t know when to quit when the going gets really tough and dangerous. Fortunately, being an expert on reading trail sign helps Gustav unravel crime clues.

The Black Dove has our two retired cowboys trying to make their few dollars last in San Francisco after losing their jobs as railroad detectives in the  second novel—On the Wrong Track. While Gustav mopes, Otto keeps hoping he will once again meet the lovely, female railroad detective he fell for.  As the saying goes… be careful what you wish for.

While taking a short cut through Chinatown, the brothers see an old friend, a Chinese herbal doctor, they met on a train in the second novel. Imagine their surprise when the first thing the Chinese doctor tries to do is kill Otto. However, it was all a mistake, but this is just the beginning of their third adventure, a trail of bodies and numerous narrow escapes for our heroes.

Solving the mystery in this novel requires the brothers to go places they never imagined in a foreign culture—Chinatown— that bewilders them with its customs. Opium dens, herbal medicine shops, slavery, Tongs, hatchetmen and white racists are among the stumbling blocks the brothers and their female companion must overcome before Gustav finally reasons out the motive for the several crimes they uncover.

As with Watson, Otto is the foil for his brother Gustav. Otto does the narration for their adventures and it helps that he has a well developed sense of humor that his brother lacks. Otto does a marvelous job keeping the story light-hearted with his numerous asides, even in the face of sometimes certain death.

Even if you are not a fan of the numerous non-Arthur Conan Doyle tales of Holmes, by various authors, you should still read this fun series featuring Big Red and Old Red. There are five novels in the series, followed by a collection of short stories explaining how the cowboy brothers got stampeded into the detecting business in the first place.

 

Holmes on the Range Series

1. Holmes on the Range

2. On the Wrong Track

3. The Black Dove

4. The Crack in the Lens

5. World’s Greatest Slueth

 

 

 

 

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

The Winner of this week’s Free Book YuYu Hakusho, Vol. 15 is:

ivysky

Congratulations! Your Book is on the way!

Thank you to everyone who commented on the Blog!