Wednesday, November 28, 2018

CHOP IT UP: Them Bones by Carolyn Haines

"No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth's situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she's flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state--or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend's prize pooch to raise some cash.
But soon Sarah Booth's walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she's hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself...and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave."

This.  Book.  Was.  Hard to put down.  Really, this buster was hard to let go of once I got started.  It was nothing like I'd anticipated when I initially picked it up at my public library used bookstore.  The Mississippi setting, I wanted. A poor and single and interestingly unconventional Southern Belle playing detective, delivered me. Old family murders to uncover, I needed. Good ole boy threats, a plus. But an actual and active ghost communicating with the protagonist in a blase fashion took me completely off guard.  And it was soooo good. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

CHOP IT UP: Fool's Puzzle by Earlene Fowler

"Leaving behind memories of her late husband, Benni Harper is making a fresh start...Moving to the trendy California town of San Celina, she takes an exciting new job as director of a folk-art museum. While setting up an exhibit of handmade quilts, she stumbles upon the body of a brutally stabbed artist. Hoping to conduct an investigation on her own, she crosses paths with the local police chief, who thinks this short and sassy cowgirl should leave detecting to the cops and join him for dinner. But it's hard to keep a country girl down, and soon Benni uncovers an alarming pattern of family secrets, small-town lies--and the shocking truth about the night her husband died..."
The minute I finished the book and marked it as READ (two stars) on Goodreads.  Using my phone, I wrote this about the book just to "get it out".

Started out with a fair amount of promise, but devolved the further it progressed. All the excitement of a cozy mystery with a quilting and folk-art hook was removed and flushed early on. Instead the focus was on a MC who was not only boldly immature, but adolescent-level illogical in her reasoning and investigative prowess. It did not make her cute. It did not make her relatable. It made her unreliable and irritating to be around during the experience. Further frustration with the story arrived when the author kept (and I mean KEPT) insisting on ushering in a romance between her MC and a moody cop. Cliches. Cliches. Cliches. I kept rolling my eyes, as it was all so desperate to the point of nausea. Yes, there was a mystery. Yet, apparently, the mystery wasn't the book's real point.
   

It just so happens I bought the second book in the series for a dollar the other day.  She's getting one more shot, dude.  

One more...

SHOT...

Friday, November 23, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

Short Days/Cold Nights Cozy Reading TBR


I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. You know how it can be; daylight savings, long nights, cold nights, all the drain board attention of the holidays. Then I like this time of year for the complete "cozy comfort next to a heater" thing. Cutting all social interactions out for a period of time being the biggest plus. Because if I’m not out of the house before 5pm, I’m not going anywhere unless necessary. Luckily I can read at work which is from 10pm to 6am. That's the roll of the DICE, girl! Who can beat that? Anyway, lots of coffee, comfort, Korean dramas, and reading.
Which is why I decided to pull some cozy mysteries off my shelves to composite a little TBR for the season. Because, for sure, I can also get lazy this time of year and opt to just chill if I’m not careful. As for the books, some I bought years ago and haven’t gotten into. Some newly acquired. Some staple authors/series. And maybe one is the second book in a series I started some time ago.
So my list is... (the book's links are Amazon affiliate)

Of course, I couldn’t get everything. I still have The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman and Gunpowder Green (book 2 in Tea Shop Mysteries) by Laura Child are waiting in the "alternative" wings.
As for The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames. Yes, I’m tempted to DNF it–having read 50 pages. Yet, instead, I’ll put it on the side for another day. Too many characters too soon. And all which seem forced to exude like and relatability.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Trip to the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site Back in July

Outside the Ebenezer Baptist Church


The Podium
(Sorry about the hat.  The podium with all the mics King used to deliver his speech was crowded.  I tried to get what picture I could.)


King's Funeral Cart


Memphis to Atlanta
The Dreams and Inspirations of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, November 12, 2018

CHOP IT UP: From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell


A shy and introverted housewife named Margaret Parsons has disappeared. One day she walked out of her Kingsmarkham, Sussex home–never to return. Her distraught husbands waste zero time seeking help from a neighboring detective. And alongside this detective comes his partner, Chief Inspector Wexford. Then Margaret’s body turns up, murdered by strangulation and abandoned near local farmland.

Who in the world could have committed such a crime? Was it personal? Was it random? Was there something dark in Margaret’s past catching up with her in the now? How could something so horrible happen to this quiet housewife? One who indulges herself in gardening and caring for her husband? Or could it be the husband who is responsible?

Regardless, Inspector Wexford looks closer into Margaret’s past. Trusting this will bring answers to her murder. And it does as a collection of rare books inscribed by an unknown lover points to the culprit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

CHOP IT UP: The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima

A thirteen-year-old teen named Noboru is mentally disturbed and troubled. Most of his troublesome characteristics come spurred by the loss of his father. And, also, through his association with a gang of like-minded thirteen-year-old boys. This gang shares a mantra: reject the world of adults and the responsibilities it takes to be one. For Noboru, he doesn’t have a father around pushing him to be a man, and thus an adult. He's, more or less, the luckier one within the gang.

Yet, this changes once his widowed mother begins a relationship with a sailor named Ryuji. At first Noboru welcomes Ryuji with admiration for him and his occupation as a sailor. You see, Noboru loves ships and has aspirations of becoming a sailor himself. But once the relationship between Ryuji and Noboru’s mother turns toward marriage, Noboru's attitude turns dark. Noboru can't grasp why Ryuji is willing to put aside his life as a sailor to marry his mother. And Ryuji's decision to do so enrages Noboru.

Feeling betrayed, Noboru seeks the help of his gang to get revenge on Ryuji. And so hatches their plan to take out the sailor who fell from grace with the sea.

I can tell you right now that I don’t know what to make of this book.

I’m not going makeup something about knowing what Mishima meant to do with this story. I mean… I could… but it ain’t in me right now to do so. Plus, I’m more inclined to believe I have to be a reader who is more proficient with him as a person, let alone a writer.
So all I can say for sure is two things. ONE: I read this book because I loved Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask. TWO: Boy, does he know how to grab all your attention with this craft. Outside of that, I have theories about what this book conveyed. But I'm a little hesitate.
Even so, it was a cryptic and tormenting story. One where I couldn't wrap my head around some character’s actions–from a reasonable point. My overarching view was how we’re dealing with some spoiled, neurotic sociopaths. Their behavior conveyed holding on to the “sacredness” of adolescence at all cost. And one way to maintain "sacredness" is to embrace anarchy. To remove oneself from societal institutions, laws and systems. To remain in the “system” is equal to living a life with little to no meaning.
I’m just going to leave it at that.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Library 25 Cent Sale ~ Basically Book Upgrades

Everybody loves when his or her library unloads the 25 cent book sale. I managed to make it to mines a weekend or two ago (depends on when this post goes up), and didn’t find much. Yet, for what I did get, I took the opportunity. I upgraded two mass market books, featuring series I enjoy reading, into hardbacks. And another two… well… like any reader, there’s always an “interest” story to tell. But first the hardbacks.


"The devastating fire tore through the horse farm, destroying everything it touched. Picking through the wreckage, Dr. Kay Scarpetta uncovers human remains—the work of an audacious and wily killer who uses fire to mask his brutal murders. And when Scarpetta learns that her old nemesis, Carrie Grethen, has escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane and is somehow involved, the investigation becomes personal. Tragedy strikes close to home. And Scarpetta must match Grethen’s every move with one of her own to douse the inferno of evil that threatens everyone around her..."
Yeah. Yeah. Read the book almost ten years ago. Since I found myself in the mood of changing my mass market copies into hardback, this decent copy will do. This is the book where Cornwell made a wild misstep by killing off one of the series main characters. Why? Because she brought his ass back three books later. It was clear she needed him. Either way, it is what it is.

Friday, November 2, 2018

GUEST POST ~ The Perfect Idiot by Frank Iodice

The Perfect Idiot by Frank Iodice



Title: The Perfect Idiot
Author: Frank Iodice
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: Winter 2019
List Price: TBA 
Publisher: Articoli Liberi
Synopsis: A Perfect Idiot is a poetic, tender novel. Odette is a six years old girl. She is living in a foster home in the south of France when she meets the narrator, a night custodian, and decides he should be her father. To look for him, Odette escapes with the help of an old Argentinian prostitute, Signorina Rosario Rossi, who has quite an original philosophy of life, and her ex-boyfriend, don Vito Palladino, an irreverent parish priest…

Frank Iodice created a series of marginal, eccentic characters trapped in a story full of delicate and yet bitter regrets.  With his sense of humor and his humanity, he was albe to help them find meaning in their unfulfilled lives.



Uno. 
Meli Montreux was always tired every morning she arrived. She gave me the impression that someone hadn't let her sleep. I imagined that a big hairy brute forced her to stay up all night. When she walked in, she sat down placing her chin on the palm of her hand. Her honest face, framed by her short, disheveled hair, didn't show the traces of violence that I found in the other social workers. It couldn't be described like any other face; probably it came very close to what I would call now perfection. Meli often wore long skirts with flowers, and smiled with her lips closed. 
Up there in Sospel we had a big black cat found on the street. That night, he was waiting for the fat from my ham; he stared at me from the sill of a window so low that it could also work as a door if you had long legs. I ate without looking outside and didn't share my ham with the cat. I didn't have the time because, a few days later, I died. 
On the hill across the way, there was the white building where the General lived. He was explaining to the cleaning woman how to wash his balcony, one tile at a time. The cypresses with a few branches out of place swayed, imitating the clouds. A beetle came in and began to beat against the wrong wall. It's going to end up killing itself, I thought. In the meantime, I listed the scenes I had seen in the previous days. 
I very much enjoyed making lists.

Uno. A mother thanks cars while crossing the street: her daughter imitates her and thanks the cars. Another mother doesn't thank the cars: her daughter imitates her and doesn't thank. Heredity of civility.
Due. The hairdresser complains about the stink from the public toilets. There's pee everywhere, she screams, but the pee is perfumed by anise, so that the hairdresser hopes no one has heard her.
Tre. This morning the girls were playing with the cat, which, at least apparently, didn't smile at them. From the back of the garden came the deep chirps of the blackbirds and the pleasant cold of the land. 
I liked the cat, too. Early in the morning, we were the only ones in the garden. We kept each other company while waiting for the others. I felt the calm of the green, old estate. The caretakers arrived at seven in the morning. On the weekend at seven-thirty. 
I was the custodian. I’ve always been a custodian. At night I was the only one to watch over the children. I brought books and sweets with me. I had been reading almost a book a day ever since my own childhood. As for the pastries, the kids and I ate them in secret, at least a couple each. The ones with a lot of cream were the hardest to hide. 
In that place on the edge of Nice, I could imagine the city any way I wanted because I didn't hear its noise. When I left in the morning, after my night shift, I felt my legs heavy and lazy. I had time to see details that, otherwise, I wouldn't have noticed: like the noise the hairdresser made when she placed nail polish in the window (the hairdresser was also the beautician of the town) the little bottles clattered against each other or hit the glass and made the same sound of pebbles on the beach, a liquid pleasing knocking. There was also the girl with the long neck, who left home with a bunch of flowers in her hand. She might have been the daughter of the florist, a woman with the same neck, whose shop was a little down the street, but I enjoyed imagining that she received a fresh bunch every evening, and that the next morning she passed them on to someone else.

‘A child who doesn’t read is a child who doesn’t dream.’
Articoli Liberi is based in the south of France. We are a nonprofit organization born to diffuse free books to schools all over the world. We distribute for free and we use the proceeds from the online sales to print extra copies. The objective is to join as more students as we can and pass down the importance of reading to the new generation.

We are a group of friends, all different from each other, but united by a unique big passion: reading. We believe that a book keeps in its pages the ideas of the person who wrote it, but also those of the person who reads and will speak about it. And for this exchange of ideas, we started exchanging books.
We decided to collaborate with Frank Iodice and publish his amazing novel because (as it was with his ‘Brief Dialogue on Happiness with Pepe Mujica’) it contains all the messages that we ourselves try to leave to the young: the importance of personal freedom; love for reading and for a simple life; rebellion against the modern politics of hate and obsessive competition.
‘A Perfect Idiot’ was originally published in Italian as ‘Un perfetto idiota’, by Edizioni Il Foglio, in February 2017. An excerpt from the first version of this translation project appeared in Trafika Europe 14 - Italian Piazza, in July 2018. Then the author reworked the whole novel and turned it into a new novel, as he himself explained to us:

‘I had to change the structure of every sentence, cutting almost 50 pages in total. Many paragraphs from the original version simply didn’t work in English. So, I adapted my story to an English-speaker readership. And I must admit that I prefer it now. The story goes right where I want it to go’.

The English version will be distributed for free to schools (starting with a conference plan across France, Italy, and the UK50 copies to each school).

It will be also presented at the Writers Weekend, Augusta University, in March 2019, by the author and Giada Biasetti, one of the professors that collaborated on this wonderful project.
If you want to know more about our future encounters with the students or our nice books, follow us at articoliliberi.blog.

Diffusing books for free has turned out to be our vocation, but we constantly need your support if we want to succeed.


We are proud of the cover art. It was realized by Gary Taxali, an acclaimed, award-winning fine artist and illustrator, known for his retro stylized art in the realm of pop. Gary was glad to participate in our project and offered his terrific artwork wishing us the best with this mission. Find out more about Gary Taxali at garytaxali.com.


Frank Iodice is an Italian freelance journalist and writer. He is the author of numerous novels, like ‘La meccanica dei sentimenti’ (Eretica Edizioni 2018), ‘Matroneum’ (Il Foglio 2018), ‘Un perfetto idiota’ (Il Foglio 2017) and many more. 10.000 copies of his ‘Brief Dialogue on Happiness with Pepe Mujica’ have been distributed for free to French and Italian high schools.
He lives between Paris and Lyon.  His blog is frankiodice.it


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