Sunday, September 13, 2020

My New Favorite Canadian Writer

A work colleague recommended Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña to me and now Lapena has become one of my favorite Canadian thriller writers.  After reading that debut novel by Lapena, I followed up with Someone We Know about a teenager who breaks into the homes of his neighbors and hacks into their computers to read their hidden secrets, just for the fun of it.  Also, someone in the neighborhood has been reported missing by her husband. Later her body is discovered.  As the police investigate, things that were hidden are revealed one by one. It was exciting to follow the story-line to see how the computer hacking and the dead body connected.

I just completed a third book by this writer, An Unwanted Guest. Several guests turn up at this secluded mountain lodge for a weekend get-away. It was supposed to be a romantic get-away for some couples and a place of peace and quiet to rest and recuperate for some other individuals. For one guest it was supposed to be a quiet place of work; she was a writer. They arrived in bad weather. One person is murdered, then another, then another, and yet another. The place of peace and quiet turned into a death trap. I certainly could not guess who the killer(s) was or were or guess the motives while I was reading. None of the guests seemed to have had a history prior to being at the lodge. The most likely killer of the first deceased guest just seemed to have been her romantic partner. When the second guest died, it seemed like perhaps there was an outsider who was committing these murders. 

I could not put the books down. I finished reading each book in  about two days. The books are not at the level of Louise Penny, my other favorite Canadian writer, but I have enjoyed all three books.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Read to Learn and Grow! Read for Pleasure!

I am not a big reader of non-fiction but I like the list of books recommended by Dr. Terri-Karelle on her blog. This Jamaican blogger read 45 books in 2019.

I have actually read and learned a lot from Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, all the books by Malcolm Gladwell on her list, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Read to learn and grow! Read for the joy of it! Right now, I am reading Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. I read one other book by her many years ago, Gods in Alabama.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Stories of Deception and Betrayal

Watching The Woods on Netflix, set in Poland, led me to the actual book of the same name by Harlan Coben, set in New Jersey. This led me to read another Harlan book, Gone for Good.  I also  read a book recommended by a coworker, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. 


Gone For Good and The Couple Next Door were full of surprises; lots of twists and turns to both stories because of the family secrets, the lies, and the betrayal. It was hard to figure out who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. In The Couple Next Door, a baby is missing. Is she being held for ransom? Is she dead? Who took her? Those were the questions that we readers needed to find out. Gone for Good seemed to have dead bodies everywhere. Will Klein was the protagonist in this story. His brother Ken is on the run from the law; wanted for the murder of his neighbor who just happened to have been Will's ex-girlfriend. Is Ken innocent as Will seems to believe or is he really guilty? Is Ken dead or alive? Who really is Will's current girlfriend, Sheila? What does he really know about Sheila? Those were the questions that came to mind as I read. Both books were excellent reads and I highly recommend them. I could not put these books down. I am on a roll with my reading. I finished reading each book after two days.

Happy reading on July 4th weekend. Keep away from COVID-19.

Confession: I have not been reading during COVID 19

Since I had to stay at home during COVID-19 for a few weeks, I thought I would have been reading all the time. I did not read. I would start a book then stop reading. I just could not finish reading a whole book. I stayed up until 2:00 am watching Netflix. I crocheted a pair of bedroom slippers, a tote and a cell phone holder.

I have completed two weeks at work now and I am still chilling and watching Netflix when I can but the "dry spell" is over.  Once again Netflix led me to a book. This time it led me to read books by Harlan Coben. Believe it or not, this avid reader of murder mysteries  had never read anything by Harlan Coben. I watched The Five, The Stranger, Safe and more recently, The Woods on Netflix. The movie version of The Woods was set in Poland with English subtitles while the original book version was set in New Jersey. That fact right there led me to read the book. I think I missed some details trying to watch the movie and read the translated subtitles at the same time so that also pushed me to read the book. Finished reading it in two days. It was really that good.

Now I have to devour more Harlan Coben books.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Flashback to Book Club Pick 2009

"His breakout 2001 novel The Shadow of the Wind follows Daniel, a young boy in Barcelona just after World War II, whose father takes him to The Cemetery of Lost Books, a mysterious bookstore at the heart of the city. " Petra Mayer. 

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is deadShadow of the Wind was one of our favorite Book club picks in 2009 when we had our book club active in Waycross.  That book set us up to read his other books; Angel's Game and Prisoner of Heaven. Labyrinth of the Spirits is the one that I never got around to reading.

Sleep in peace Carlos. You fully satisfied our passion for reading.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Jamaican Slave in Australia - Historical Fiction

How did a Jamaican slave named William Buchanan end up a convict in Australia in the 19th century? I have absolutely no idea but I’d like to find out in this historical fiction titled, Master of My Fate by Jamaican born writer Sienna Brown. Apparently, William Buchanan really existed and he was in fact banished to Australia because of his role in an1831 slave rebellion.

Other slaves like Sam Sharpe were executed because of their role in the 1831 rebellion. I have no idea why some were spared from execution and banished to Australia. You can find a list of Jamaican slaves , on a genealogy site, who ended up in Australia in the 19th century.

This book is on my Must-Read list. Dear Readers, it’s a weekend. Stay healthy and keep reading.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

What’s on Your Must Read List for 2020?

Dear Book-lovers,

My Must Read list is getting longer. I am reading She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, winners of a Pulitzer Prize. This book is about how journalists got their stories on sexual harassment and assaults, mainly in the work place, and how it triggered the #MeToo movement. Most of the book was focused on the movie producer Harvey Weinstein (link to NPR article with caution, graphic details), whose court case is currently in process. This is a fascinating account of what goes on in journalism behind the scenes, before we get to read and watch it in real time.

After that I hope to move on to A. J. Finn’s book, The Woman in the Window, a psychological thriller about a woman suffering from agoraphobia who sees, through her window of course, a crime being committed. I discovered a movie trailer on YouTube for that book. Check it out yourself! The movie will be released in May. 

I read a review of The Eiffel Tower Prophecy by D.B. Gilles in FIRST magazine that caught my interest. It’s a time travel story that goes back to Paris in 1889.  The reviewer, Carlo DeCatlo, said the book was impossible to put down. That is my kind of book.

What’s on your Must Read List?



Friday, January 31, 2020

Family Drama: Young Adult Novel

Dear Readers,

This is the final post for my Toastmasters challenge to create a compelling blog. This morning I am checking on information about Celeste Ng, the writer of Little Fires Everywhere. Her debut book is titled, Everything I Never Told You (2014).

After reading information on the debut novel online, I can see that Celeste has a pattern. Celeste likes writing about family drama, rifts within the family.  In this first book, as well as the one I just read, the youngest child in the family is a key character; the one who knows the truth. Both books feature Chinese American families. The main story in the debut novel is about a Chinese American family with three children while in the book I just read, family means an unmarried Chinese American woman and her baby. You know what else these two books have in common? Both are bestsellers!

Personally, I would rate the novel I just read 4 out of 5 stars.  It kept me up until well past midnight so it held my interest. I am not satisfied with how it ended for Izzy, the youngest child, but the resolution for all the other characters was satisfying. I will not give away anything more in case you want to read this book.

I notice also that Celeste is from Shaker Heights, Ohio which was the setting of the novel. Shaker Heights was presented in the book as this very orderly community with lots of rules and in the midst of it were all these teens in chaos.

There you have it dear readers. I am pursuing the Toastmasters Innovative Planning Path and my challenge was to write 8 blog posts in the month of January. This is the final post for this particular challenge.

Are you blogging? Share a link to your book blog with me. Thanks.




Reading All Night

Dear Readers,

It is going to be a long night of reading for me. Once I find a book I really like, I can’t put it down.  Unfortunately, I had to put aside The Redbreast.  There were too many subplots; I got lost.  Now I am reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

This is not a book that would normally attract my attention but it was recommended by my friend, Charmaine. When we were 12 or 13 years old, Charmaine and I were avid readers of Agatha Christie.    Now we recommend our favorite books to each other.

I am on page 273 and so far I can write, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.” This is not a murder mystery. This is about dysfunctional family dynamics and the genre is young adult. The story starts off with a house on fire, little fires were set in various rooms, and everyone suspects the youngest and the most rebellious child in the family named Izzy.  Plus, Izzy is missing.  There are several subplots in this story and they all connected. Right now I am hoping this story will have a satisfying resolution.

What do you do when you find a very interesting book, do you read all night?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Librarian in Residence

Dear Readers,

I have an unusual question for you today. Do you know a librarian who really loves reading and book clubs? Here is an opportunity to share with him or her.  Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club is looking for a Librarian-in-Residence. Each month the lucky librarian will talk about selected books with Reese Witherspoon and with various authors.

Here is a list of requirements:
  • “You are comfortable on camera
  • You are well-versed in Reese’s Book Club books & 
well-read overall
  • You are passionate about book clubs & book culture
  • You are enthusiastic & fun-loving
  • You have experience as a Librarian”
Applicants need to complete and submit a form as well as a 90-second video indicating why they are the best candidate for the position. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Historical Fiction on My Must Read List

Dear Readers,

If you have been following my last four posts, you know that my 2020 Toastmasters challenge is to create eight compelling blog posts.  Today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day I started reading one of my favorite magazines, FIRST for Women, the February 10 issue. I like to browse the books recommended by the editors of the magazine. My eyes went directly to the Historical Fiction category first.

The historical fiction recommended by Patty Bontekoe, FIRST executive editor was Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain. According to Patty, the book flips between the past and present. The setting is North Carolina in 1940 and 2018. I came across this blog, Booked Solid with Virginia C., which has a detailed review of the book and background information on the writer.

The other category in the magazine that caught my attention was the Classic category. Victoria Conn, the FIRST assistant fashion editor, recommended  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  This turned out to be another historical fiction. The classic category was a reference to the fact that the book was published in 2011. The setting is Copenhagen during World War 11 when the Germans began their campaign to “relocate” Danish Jews. The story is told from the point of view of a 10 year old girl. Amazon indicated that this  book is for children aged 10-12 years old and the writer was awarded the Newberry Medal for this book.

What fascinated me was that just last week, I had a conversation about this exact period in Danish history with a history professor. He told me that he attended an event years ago where the speaker was born in Denmark and was among the Danish Jews who survived with the help of the Danes by escaping via Sweden.  What a coincidence to come across this book dealing with that exact period of Danish history.

What do you know about the Danish Resistance?

My New Favorite Canadian Writer

A work colleague recommended Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña to me and now Lapena has become one of my favorite Canadian thriller writers. ...