Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Anniversary Penguin Books! and a Giveaway

What a treat to celebrate Penguins anniversary and their contribution to reader's everywhere.  I was thrilled to be asked to participate in their celebration by receiving 2 free books and to be able to offer those same two books to you.

I chose The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd because it's one of my favorite books of all time and I wanted to own a copy so I could reread it and share it with my reading daughters.

The second book I chose was Acqua Alta by Donna Leon.  I have not read anything by this author but have heard lots of positive remarks about her books and her writing.  This book is part of a mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth.  That, plus the fact that the mystery is set in Italy, peaked my interest.  And that it was described as 'chilling.'  

Two of my reader's can win one of these books from the generous folks at Penguin.
Here's all you have to do:
1) Check out the Penguin Books 74th Anniversary website, look around the site and discover wonderful and interesting facts about Penguin, then click on The Original 10 button in the right column.  Towards the bottom of the article you'll find a list of the original 10 books that were published in 1935 and launched the beginning of Penguin Books.  In your comment let me know if you've read any of those and which ones.  If you're like me and haven't read any, let me know if there are any that sound interesting to you.
2) Let me know which of the two books I'm giving away you'd like to win, either Life of Bees or Acqua Alta.
3) Leave a way for me to contact you if you are a lucky winner.

I wish you all the best of luck.  However, we are all winners because we are able to read and enjoy the paperback books Penguin publishes at a reasonable price.  I hope you'll take a minute to read about the early days of Penguin.  I enjoyed the About Page, the Gallery, the Time Line and the six new cover designs by the world's best artists working tattoo and illustrations.  My favorite of those 6 is The Broom of the System by David foster Wallace and designed by Duke Riley.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Rule Against Murder

by Louise Penny

I just can't give enough praise for the Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series and for Louise Penny's writing.  I love them.  While reading this series I feel like I gently slip deeper and more comfortably into the coziest of overstuffed chairs.  It's a feeling that I cherish and am most grateful for.

This, the fourth in the series, is set in an old, log lodge set on a beautiful lake, surrounded with beautiful forest and just a short drive from the village of Three Pines.  Gamache and his wife are celebrating their anniversary with a week stay at the lodge.  At the same time there is a family reunion taking place.  Of course, a murder takes place and Gamache is the one who looks into the past to discover who has been harboring a wound that has grown into the act of murder.

 Penny keeps me totally wrapped up in the story, the mystery of who the murderer was and why and how it was committed.  But she also thrills me with her turn of a phrase and the way she uses words to paint a a feeling, an atmosphere, a lesson, a character, etc.

I liked this description of the lodge:
That was the other ingredient of the Manoir.  It was filled with suspects, it was filled with Morrows, huffling and silent.  But more than that, it was filled with relief.  It was like a sigh, with structure.

In the story the father had left each of his children a short note with advise on it. 
You can't get milk from a hardware store.  It was a funny sort of thing for a father to tell a daughter.  But by then she'd broken the code, and knew what her father had been trying tell her.  Stop asking for something that can't be given.  And look for what is offered.

Advice given by Gamache to his friend and also, a suspect:
Be careful.  You're making hurting a habit.  Spreading it around won't lessen your pain, you know.  Just the opposite.

I feel most blessed that Louise Penny has such a marvelous talent and that she decided to share that talent with me.  I'm not a writer, have no desire to be but I'm grateful for those who are.  Penny is one of my absolute favorites.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The 5th Horseman

by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

I've enjoyed listening to this series while I do none thinking tasks on the computer - like scanning my mother's pictures, playing solitaire, and, well those type of things.

I like the characters and their friendship and the way they offer feedback and support to each other.  And I love mysteries.

It's been several weeks ago since I finished this and I don't remember many details, but I do remember enjoying it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Madam, Will You Talk?

by Mary Stewart

In an earlier post I mentioned how my high school best friend and I touched bases with each other recently.  Since then we've been corresponding through email and sharing bits about life and suggestions for good reads.  This is one of Diane's suggestions.

I remember reading a book a long, long time ago by Mary Stewart but I don't remember the title so maybe I'm up in the night or dreaming or both!  I also remember my mother and my aunt reading the series about Merlin & King Arthur written by Stewart.  They had good discussions about them and my recollection is that they loved the books.

I really can't say why I haven't really delved into a Mary Stewart novel before this.  I think I associated them with older women and I figured they were written so long ago they may be too dated.  This book was written in 1954.  I do know I associated them with the romance genre and that is a big turn-off for me.

On Diane's recommendation I read Madam Will You Talk.  Totally and thoroughly delightful.  I loved it!  There's much more mystery and suspense then romance and the mystery was great.  There were lots of surprises and adventure.  The only problem I had was how fast the perceived enemy became the love interest.  I mean 'snap your fingers' fast. 

Will I be ready more of Stewart's work?  You betcha!  Can't wait, but first I have a couple Louise Penny's that I've put off for too long and I have an ARC I need to read before the end of the month.  And I need to ask Diane which one she recommends next.  It's always so thrilling finding new authors and new books, isn't it?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Little Bee

by Chris Cleave

I listened to the audio version of this book and am glad I did.  The narrator's voice fit Little Bee perfectly.  Hearing 'her' voice instead of mine helped me to better identify with Little Bee and her situation.

I really liked Little Bee, someone I could learn from and always feel hopeful in her presence.

I read this book on the recommendation of Les from NE.  I need to thank her for reading and suggesting remarkable books.  I can also blame her for casually tossing book after book on my TBR mountain.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

DNF The Girl Who Played With Fire

by Stieg Larsson

I've heard so much talk about Larsson's books and was so looking forward to reading one.  My daughter gave me this book for Christmas.  When I found out it was book 2 in a 3-book series I tried to mooch the first one.  It never became available.  After I did a small search through blogs, I discovered that the first book had a lot of deviant sex throughout and I decided I would skip it.

I read over 90 pages and found I didn't care to read on.  Salander sounded like an interesting character but I felt like I had missed much of her character development that I assume happened in the first book.  I felt like I was hanging in mid air trying to fit the pieces together.  And does the first bit about the couple in Grenada have anything to do with the rest of the book or was that just a side story thrown in right at the start of the book to further confuse and bewilder the not-too-savvy reader?

I ran across a brief article where I learned that the author may have based his ideas for Salander on a grown-up version of Pippi Longstockings.  If that's true, I thought he hit the mark right on the head.  I mean, just imagine what type of adult that delightful misfit of a girl would be.

I may have to go back to this book some day because even as I write this I wonder what will happen as Bjurman seeks his revenge from Salander.  Or maybe someone can just tell me...

Has anyone read this series and if so, what do you think?  Did you like the books?  Is it a MUST to read the first book?  Should I try again or am I just too dense to ever catch on?