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Archive for March, 2015

March Books….

Generally, I don’t post "monthly" reads, but this year so far (for some reason even I don’t understand) I’ve done really well (for me).  So I will list the books I read in March….  Eight books! (but one is so small it shouldn’t be counted).. still more then great for me!!

#17

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

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San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

#18

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley.

clip_image002[4] An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel…

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a "treasure of great price." And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

#19

Never Come Back by David Bell.

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Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew….
When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother? 
More questions arise when a stranger is named in Leslie’s will: a woman also named Elizabeth. As the family’s secrets unravel, a man from Leslie’s past who claims to have all the answers shows up, but those answers might put Elizabeth and those she loves the most in mortal danger.

#20

The QPB Companion to the Lord of the Rings edited by Brandon Geist.

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This handy volume is more than just a footrest to the snug club chair that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS; it is a friend who drops by to share choice gossip about one of your favorite subjects. The storied reality behind the classic fantasy – curious creator, the sword-crossing critics, the "deplorable cultus" … will not capative Tolkien enthusiasts but amuse those who "just don’t get it". The book first introduces us to the author, whom The New York Times described as "the tweedist and most persnickety of Oxford philologists; a man who said of himself, ‘I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size).’ We then hear from a host of other critics…..

#21

Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N Cohen.

clip_image002[10] From Library Journal

In his time, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was known to the world as an outstanding pioneer photographer of children, particularly of female children, as well as for being the author Lewis Carroll. One of Dodgson’s "child-friends," Alice Lidell, served as the inspiration for his literary Alice. These child-friend associations subjected Dodgson to public scrutiny, gossip, and suspicion concerning his emotional and sexual proclivities, suppressed though they may have been. Dodgson chose to "let them talk." Biographer Cohen (Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recollections, Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1988) uses previously unavailable family and personal documents, diaries, and letters to show that the shy bachelor Dodgson, Oxford mathematics don and lecturer, held himself to the strictest of moral codes. While Lewis Carroll has been probed and analyzed by countless writers (see, for instance, John Pudney’s Lewis Carroll and His World, 1976), this book is about the intimate and complex life of the man behind all those who lived on the other side of the looking glass

#22

Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley.

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From the author of the #1 international bestseller The Orchid House, the mesmerizing story of two Irish families entangled by a tragic past that seems destined to repeat itself
To escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.
Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past.
Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.

#23

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud.

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A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.
In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

#24

Grimpow : The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos.

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When a 14th-century peasant boy stumbles onto a mysterious corpse, his life is inexorably altered. From the hand of the dead knight, Grimpow extracts a talisman that turns out to be no less than the famed philosopher’s stone over which kings and popes have tortured and killed in order to gain its possession and its powers. Hiding from the Inquisition in a local abbey, Grimpow discovers that the stone enables him to read and learn at a remarkable pace, but he is filled with the sense that he must fulfill a quest begun by the mysterious knight. Setting out as squire to a dashing young noble, Grimpow must not only solve riddles posed by the stone, but also survive brutal battles to keep it. This attempt at high fantasy leans heavily on the current fascination for tales of the Knights Templar, enigmatic quests, and young boys with special powers. However, a plodding story line that weaves in too many threads (the Inquisition, Copernican and Galilean theories of astronomy and alchemy, among others) without explanation will leave readers baffled and struggling to make sense of all the drama. Add an abrupt and unsatisfying ending and this becomes, at best, an additional purchase.—Sharon Grover

Snow Falling from Cedars and Never Come Back were the two best read for this month… I am reading yet another book for OUaT right now then I think I will read something different and then go back to OUaT.

 

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Grimpow

(Book 2 for Once Upon a Time)

Grimpow : The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos.

Hardcover: 452 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (2007)
ISBN-10: 9026131755

From School Library Journal

When a 14th-century peasant boy stumbles onto a mysterious corpse, his life is inexorably altered. From the hand of the dead knight, Grimpow extracts a talisman that turns out to be no less than the famed philosopher’s stone over which kings and popes have tortured and killed in order to gain its possession and its powers. Hiding from the Inquisition in a local abbey, Grimpow discovers that the stone enables him to read and learn at a remarkable pace, but he is filled with the sense that he must fulfill a quest begun by the mysterious knight. Setting out as squire to a dashing young noble, Grimpow must not only solve riddles posed by the stone, but also survive brutal battles to keep it. This attempt at high fantasy leans heavily on the current fascination for tales of the Knights Templar, enigmatic quests, and young boys with special powers. However, a plodding story line that weaves in too many threads (the Inquisition, Copernican and Galilean theories of astronomy and alchemy, among others) without explanation will leave readers baffled and struggling to make sense of all the drama. Add an abrupt and unsatisfying ending and this becomes, at best, an additional purchase.—Sharon Grover

This book has been sitting in the tbr pile so long that I don’t even remember “how long”!

There was quite a bit about this book that I enjoyed.  Things involved in the book are: The Philosophers Stone, Monks, Castles, Knights , a huge mystery: in search of Wisdom, the Secret of the Wise.   To use a quote: Wisdom rises from the ashes and leads humanity to a new future”.  Much more interesting then searching for a treasure of wealth.

Most of this book I really enjoyed, but sadly I have to agree with the Amazon review saying that “an abrupt and unsatisfying ending” was the only thing that damped an otherwise enjoyable book.   I guess in it’s defense I have to tell you that the book is a “translation from Spanish”… so something might have gotten lost in the translation.

On the plus side the characters were interesting and the author made some unexpected secrets about them along the way which made the book a good read despite the ending.

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Girl on The Cliff

Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Atria Books;(October 30, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1451655827

 

From the author of the #1 international bestseller The Orchid House, the mesmerizing story of two Irish families entangled by a tragic past that seems destined to repeat itself
To escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.
Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past.
Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.

This was an enjoyable read.  I always like “mysteries” with lots of family secrets !

It just seems that the books I’ve had lately all include a love story.  I’m not real keen on romance books but as long as they are in the background with secrets or murder surrounding it they don’t seem to be to awfully “romantic” after all. A bit of a surprise at the ending which always helps.   The background story itself is doled out in increments, by Grania’s mother, and small writing’s by “the person telling the story” was different and I liked it.

No big horror’s or murders but still a book I enjoyed.

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Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N Cohen.

Paperback: 577 pages
Publisher: Vintage (November 26, 1996)
ISBN-10: 0679745629

From Library Journal

In his time, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was known to the world as an outstanding pioneer photographer of children, particularly of female children, as well as for being the author Lewis Carroll. One of Dodgson’s “child-friends,” Alice Lidell, served as the inspiration for his literary Alice. These child-friend associations subjected Dodgson to public scrutiny, gossip, and suspicion concerning his emotional and sexual proclivities, suppressed though they may have been. Dodgson chose to “let them talk.” Biographer Cohen (Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recollections, Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1988) uses previously unavailable family and personal documents, diaries, and letters to show that the shy bachelor Dodgson, Oxford mathematics don and lecturer, held himself to the strictest of moral codes. While Lewis Carroll has been probed and analyzed by countless writers (see, for instance, John Pudney’s Lewis Carroll and His World, 1976), this book is about the intimate and complex life of the man behind all those who lived on the other side of the looking glass

Now and then I enjoy reading biographies or autobiographies, so when I saw this book in on of those many thrift shops, looking brand spankin’ new and with that great cover.. I brought it home!   But even that great cover didn’t make the book any better.

Three times I was ready to give up on it…it seemed to just keep repeating itself over and over about the fact that Charles Dodgson (C.S. Lewis) had this thing for very young girls.  But when reading between the lines one can be pretty assured that he certainly had deep feelings for girls under puberty age, that nothing happened except the told stories and all the children grew up still loving him.. which they would not do if he was not anything but exceptionally kind to them.

I did learn something I never knew and that was that Dodgson when to Oxford as a Mathematician and grew in his speciality to Professor and a Don.  He met many people who also was at Oxford such as Tennyson but always he tried to make acquaintances with those who had young children.

Besides lecturing about Math (which was not easy as Dodgson had a slight stutter), he became prolific in photography.  Back then it meant he had to have his own dark room to work the negative immediately after taking a photo.

Dodgson was a very strange man. Up to the end he would rather have dinner with a 12 yr old than anyone he might know.

I am going to admit that of the 577 pages in this book I thoroughly read about 400 and then I started skimming to the end.  I wish the author mentioned things that were also happening in the world that might have had an affect on Dodgson, which was something that was neglected.   Giving a quick search on Amazon I see there are many biographies on C.S. Lewis…I don’t think I am interested enough to try a different author but if you are interested, I might try one other then this one.  But then again, to someone else this one might be the best one!  (heh, glad I could help in your decision! )

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Never Come Back

Never Come Back by David Bell.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: NAL (October 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0451417518

Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew….
When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother? 
More questions arise when a stranger is named in Leslie’s will: a woman also named Elizabeth. As the family’s secrets unravel, a man from Leslie’s past who claims to have all the answers shows up, but those answers might put Elizabeth and those she loves the most in mortal danger.
 

Ok, so I found this book at a used store and thought, “ohhh David Bell!”  I’ve read The Cemetery Girl and The Hiding Place and like him.”!  So I took it home with me.   I sat down and began reading it a few days ago and it seemed awfully familiar.. yet the title didn’t.  Had I watched a movie like this??  Read another book with a similar plot??   So I read a few more chapters, which was very easy since the chapters were all about 2 pages long! (love short chapters!) 

OK.. I finally knew I had read the book before… but do you think I could remember the curse of the crime?  “Who done it?”… nope  totally gone.  As I kept reading I knew it all… except “who done it”… ARGH!   So I just spent a few days doing a reread! *sigh*

And the reason I didn’t remember the ending?… still escapes me!  It must be the very easy but very smart twists and turns in what seems to be a very simple book!   Which means.. a good author!

I totally enjoyed the reread and for anyone liking very short chapters so you can stop at almost any given moment, this book is for you!

And.. I have yet another of his (used) books on it’s way to me via the used book dealers at Amazon!  That will make 4 books when I read that one!  

Lots of things going on in this book but easy to follow.  If you haven’t read any David Bell’s books I recommend him!

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The Splendour Falls

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (January 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1402258615

 

An Ancient Castle, a Tragic Love, and a Web of Secrets Begins to Unravel…

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

“A mix of intrigue and adventure…in a style similar to that of Mary Stewart or Barbara Erskine, Kearsley does an excellent job evoking the atmosphere of Chinon with its brooding castle.”—The Winnipeg Free Press

“Kearsley’s action-packed mystery-romance, set in a medieval French town, shows the same deft plotting that won Kearsley the Catherine Cookson prize for Mariana.”—Chatelaine

 

This is not my first book by Susanna Kearsley, nor will it probably be my last.

I have to admit I had hoped for a little more excitement in the “mystery” part of the book, but over all I still enjoyed it.  I also don’t usually read book that the setting is France (vs. England/Scotland/Ireland), so strangely I felt a little “lost”, I think I need to stay in Britain!

The book covers a bit of History, some very good characters, a beginning of a romance and even a few murders.  So she covers a lot of ground in 384 pages.

The non-appearance of Harry for vacation with Emily annoyed me at first, but later makes perfect sense.  Once he was in the picture I found it hard seeing the name Harry without wanting to add “Potter” after it lol.  An old persons mind (mine) can get jumbled easily! 

Anyway.. it was an enjoyable read.  Not too dark, and a good adventure.

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Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

Paperback: 460 pages
Publisher: Vintage;(September 26, 1995)
ISBN-10: 067976402X

 

San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies.  But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder.  In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man’s guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries–memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo’s wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.  Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense– one that leaves us shaken and changed.

This book was more than I thought it would be.  To be honest I think I picked it up at a thrift shop because it mentioned World War II on the back of the book.  So it surprised me to find it was a Japanese fisherman on trial for the murder of another fisherman. 

Like some murder mysteries you might see on television it begins with part of the trial and then goes back and introduces you to the characters, their lives and how things came to be a murder trial.   During the time period this occurs WWII, Pearl Harbor happens and San Piedro Island is not exempt from “rounding up all the American Japanese” and putting them in internment camps.  After the war some of the young people come home but with war injuries.  One in particular now has a missing arm.   The main character on trial Kabuo Miyamoto goes to war and serves the United States against his own people.  But prejudices run deep.  And so the story reminds us that some things have not changed, while others have.  This includes use of language that might offend some, but it was proper to use for the story being told.

Quite a good book and reminder of things  we may choose to not think about all the time.

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