Tuesday, February 28, 2017

12. The Buried Book by D. M. Pulley

listened on Audible
read by Luke Daniels
2016 Lake Union Publishing
412 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction/Mystery
Finished 2/28/17
Goodreads rating: 3.99 (3,515 ratings)
My rating: 4.5
Setting:1952 Michigan farm country just outside of Detroit

First line/s:  "Jasper."
"Mmmm," he mumbled.
"Jasper, wake up."

My comments:  Although this book was somewhat slow-going at times, I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.  There were many things to like about the book:  the storyline, the setting, the point of view, and the characters.  Set in 1952, mostly in the rural farmland of Michigan, the story is told through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy, a nine-year-old who is trying to make sense of his very complicated world.  The world of 65 years ago is very different from the world of today...but it is also very similar.  Corruption, drugs, moonshine, degenerate (in this case) males taking advantage of young females, horrible treatment of Native Americans, poverty, dishonest cops, holier-than-though Christians....oh my, there were some very bleak parts.  But well worth the read.  All in all a very well told story that I will not easily forget.

Goodreads synopsis:  When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he’s left on his uncle’s farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible.
          It’s 1952, and Jasper isn’t allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He’s lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle’s good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she’s coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses.
          As he’s drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother—and now it’s chasing him too.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

MOVIE: Fifty Shades Darker

R (1:58)
Wide release 2/10/17
Viewed Sunday, 2/26/17 at Carlisle 8
IMBd: 4.8/10
RT Critic:  9  Audience:  54
Critic's Consensus:  Lacking enough chemistry, heat, or narrative friction to satisfy, the limp Fifty Shades Darker wants to be kinky but only serves as its own form of punishment.
Cag:  3.5/Liked it 
Directed by James Foley
Universal Pictures
Based on the book by E. L. James

Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden

My comments: I'll watch Jamie Dornan in anything, including this.  I think the movie has a little more substance than the book, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan just don't seem to "fit" well enough for me.  Marcia Gay Harden, as always, is wonderful, and putting Kim Basinger in the Mrs. Robinson role is just perfect.  So, all in all, a fairly enjoyable movie to watch, a perfect one to wile away a Sunday evening in the middle of the winter - especially when you get to watch the big screen in a recliner!

RT/ IMDb Summary:  When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian's past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

11. The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani

read on my Kindle
2013 Bandwagon PRESS
368 pgs.
I would consider it YA, but think it is actually considered Adult - CRF
Finished 2.23.17
Goodreads rating:  3.78 (1871 ratings)
My rating: 4
Contemporary India

First line/s:

My comments:  I actually decided to read this because I love the cover!  For the last dozen years or so, I've had quite a fascination with India, so this novel at this time suited me quite well.  Set in the late 1980s, it reads like a memoir.  Vikram is a young man just graduated from high school who, after living for the last twelve years in Wisconsin, is forced to move back to India with his family.  He doesn't want to.  He has friends, a girlfriend, and college to look forward to.  Back in his native land it is hard to reconcile the American teenager he has become with the oh-so-strange country of his birth.  The story tells of his first year back in India, the homesickness he feels for America, as well as the enlightenment and thrill of new and incredibly different sights, sounds, smells, foods, language, customs, and lifestyle.  This glimpse into modern day (well, almost modern day) India is both fascinating and interesting.

Goodreads synopsis:  Vikram is not your model Indian-American teenager. Rebellious and adrift in late 1980s Wisconsin, he is resentful of his Indian roots and has no clue what he wants from his future—other than to escape his family’s life of endless moving and financial woes. But after a drunken weekend turns disastrous, Vikram’s outraged parents decide to pack up the family and return to India—permanently.
          So begins a profound journey of self-discovery as Vikram, struggling with loneliness, culture shock, and the chaos of daily Indian life, finds his creativity awakened by a new romance and an old camera. His artistic gifts bring him closer to a place and family he barely knew. But a devastating family crisis challenges Vikram’s sense of his destiny, hurtling him toward a crossroads where he must make the fateful choice between India, the land of his soul, and America, the land of his heart

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

10. Still Waters by Viveca Sten

(Sandhamm #1)
Listened on Audible
Translated from Swedish
2015 Amazon Crossing
387 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 2/22/17
Goodreads rating: 3.64 (5255 ratings)
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary Sandhamm Island, Sweden

My comments: This was translated from Swedish and is the first in a series of eight.  The first two have been translated but it doesn't look like the last six have been.  This was a good mystery, which I was very much in the mood for.  Set on one of the islands in the archipelago off Stockholm, Sweden, the story is told from two different perspectives, two adults who have been best friends since childhood.  Thomas Andreasen is a Stockholm cop.  Nora Linde is a mom and lawyer, married to a self-centered doctor.  Nora helps Thomas solve the mystery much more than any "friend" in the US would ever be allowed to do.  I would've been happy with a little less of Nora's life and problems with more focus on just the meat and potatoes of the mystery.  So I guess I liked 60% (the setting and mystery) of the book and didn't so much like 40% (the chick-lit parts) of the book..

Goodreads synopsis:  On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.          
          Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.          
          As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

9. The Magician's Elephant- Kate DiCamillo

listened on Audible
2009 Candlewick Press
201 pgs.(I read/listened to about 80 of them)
Middle Grade Fantasy
Feb. 17-18-19, 2017
Goodreads rating: 3.82 (15,420 ratings)
My rating: 1/DNF 'cause I hated it

My comments:  I keep trying to get into Kate DiCamillo's fantastical realms, but I can't.  I loved Because of Winn Dixie, and Raymie Nightingale, but I haven't liked a single other of hers.  And this really bums me out!  I listened to 40% and decided there are so many other books out there waiting for me to read that I'd pass on finishing.  Yuck.

Goodreads synopsis:  In a highly awaited new novel, Kate DiCamillo conjures a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected — and making the extraordinary come true.
          What if? Why not? Could it be?
          When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

8. Crow Hollow - Michael Wallace

read on my Kindle
2015, Lake Union Publishing
335 pgs.
Adult historical fiction
Finished 2/18/17
Goodreads rating: 3.65 (7156 ratings)
My rating: 4
Setting: 1676 Massachusetts - Boston west to Springfield

First line/s: "James Bailey stared down from the main deck of the Vigilant as it eased up to the wharves, a knot of excitement forming in his belly."

My comments:  This was quite a satisfying historical fiction novel.  Puritan Boston/New England has always fascinated me ever since, years ago, I studied the history and artwork of some of the first cemeteries in eastern Massachusetts.  Most easily accessible narration about the time period, however, is based around the Salem witch trials, of which I'm quite tired.  This is the story of Englishman James Bailey who, in December 1676, is emissary for England's King Charles, who has come to Boston to find out why Benjamin Cotton, the King's man in charge of Boston, has been killed in Indian uprisings.  Here he encounters Prudence Cotton, widow of Benjamin Cotton, who has written an account of her capture and imprisonment by the Nipmuc Indian tribe and has some questions of her own.  The story kept me interested throughout, and I learned quite a bit about the time, place, and history of the time.

Goodreads synopsis:  In 1676, an unlikely pair—a young Puritan widow and an English spy—journeys across a land where greed and treachery abound.  
          Prudence Cotton has recently lost her husband and is desperate to find her daughter, captured by the Nipmuk tribe during King Philip’s war. She’s convinced her daughter is alive but cannot track her into the wilderness alone. Help arrives in the form of James Bailey, an agent of the crown sent to Boston to investigate the murder of Prudence’s husband and to covertly cause a disturbance that would give the king just cause to install royal governors. After his partner is murdered, James needs help too. He strikes a deal with Prudence, and together they traverse the forbidding New England landscape looking for clues. What they confront in the wilderness—and what they discover about each other—could forever change their allegiances and alter their destinies.

Monday, February 13, 2017

7. The Gray and Guilty Sea by Jack Nolte - now using his real name, Scott William Carter

Garrison Gage #1
Listened on Audible
Audio read by Steven Roy Grimsley
2010 Flying Raven Press
268 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery
Finished 2-13-17 while unpacking my house
Goodreads rating: 3.82 (3087 ratings)
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Oregon coast - small town tourist community

My comments:  This book was a nice discovery.  It had a really interesting external mystery as well as the protagonist's internal turmoils about his past, present, disabilities, and relationship hangups.  Garrison Gage has a curmudgeonly wit and a really good detective's way of looking at evidence and coming up with numerous possibilities.  I also really enjoyed the writing - there were super descriptions without being tedious; similes and metaphors that made me smile; and some really beautiful language.  I look forward to the next in the series, not only to see if and how his previously-retired private investigations will continue, but what he's going to do about the burgeoning relationships that have been forged in this book.

Goodreads synopsis:  A curmudgeon. An iconoclast. A loner. That's how people describe Garrison Gage, and that's when they're being charitable. After his wife is brutally murdered in New York, and Gage himself is beaten nearly to death, the crippled misanthrope retreats three thousand miles to the quaint coastal town of Barnacle Bluffs, Oregon. He spends the next five years in a convalescent stupor, content to bide his time filling out crossword puzzles and trying to forget that his wife's death is his fault. But all that changes when he discovers the body of a young woman washed up on the beach, and his conscience draws him back into his old occupation, forcing him to confront the demons of his own guilt before he can hope to solve the girl's murder.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

MOVIE: Julieta

R (1:36)
Opened 12/21/16 in the US
Viewed Sunday evening, Feb. 12, 2017 at Carlisle Theater, Downtown Carlisle
IMBd: 7.1/10
RT Critic: 84   Audience:  75
Critic's Consensus:  Julieta finds writer-director Pedro Almodóvar revisiting familiar themes -- and doing so with his signature skill.
Cag:  4.5 Liked it a lot, excellent movie
Directed by Pedro Almodovar
El Desio
In Spanish with subtitles

My comments:  What a very sad moivie!  set in Madrid with occasional forays to the countryside/seaside, and ultra-depressed woman in her 50s writes a journal to her estranged daughter, who has been gone from her life for 12 years.  Two different actresses play the 25-year-old and the 55-year-old, and they are both terrific.  I always love getting into reading the subtitles as I try to take in everything that is going on in the scene.  It uses a lot of different parts of my brain, and I'm glad to see I'm stil up to it, ha ha!  This is a really good movie, but the overwhelming sadness/depression (it's everywhere, within every relationship in the story!) takes the rating down just a little bit for me.

RT/ IMDb Summary:   (RT) After a chance meeting, middle-aged Julieta (Emma Suarez) learns that her long-lost daughter has resurfaced in Madrid. This begins a painful reflection by Julieta into her checkered past, flashing back to the moments of pain that defined her current life.  (IMDb) Julieta lives in Madrid with her daughter Antía. They both suffer in silence over the loss of Xoan, Antía's father and Julieta's husband. But at times grief doesn't bring people closer, it drives them apart. When Antía turns eighteen she abandons her mother, without a word of explanation. Julieta looks for her in every possible way, but all she discovers is how little she knows of her daughter.

Friday, February 10, 2017

6. House Arrest - K. A. Holt

read on my Kindle
2015 Chronicle Books
304 pgs. (written in verse)
Middle Grades
Finished 2/10/17
Goodreads rating: 4.26 (1577 ratings)
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary USA (at one point it mentions Texas)

My comments:  The beginning of the story (below) sets it up particularly well, but doesn't tell of the dire straits that Timothy, his mom, and his baby brother are in.  Not only is Levi on super expensive medicine, he must be accompanied every minute because his breathing can be compromised without notice.  That means help.  And the help they end up getting causes more bad than good.  There is so much love in this book. Lots of other wonderful stuff, but lots of love.  Written in verse, as a diary/journal.

Goodreads synopsis:
Stealing is bad.
I know.
But my brother Levi is always so sick, and his medicine is always so expensive.

I didn’t think anyone would notice,
if I took that credit card,
if, in one stolen second,
I bought Levi’s medicine.

But someone did notice.
Now I have to prove I’m not a delinquent, I’m not a total bonehead.

That one quick second turned into
a judge
a year of house arrest,
a year of this court-ordered journal,
a year to avoid messing up
and being sent back to juvie
so fast my head will spin.

It’s only 1 year.
Only 52 weeks.
Only 365 days.
Only 8,760 hours.
Only 525,600 minutes.

What could go wrong?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

5. Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

#1 Six of Crows
listened to on Audible
2015 Henry Holt
read 151 pgs. of 465 pgs.
YA Fantasy
DNF - dropped
Goodreads rating:  4.45
My rating: Couldn't get into it at all

First line/s:  "Joost had two problems, the moon, and his moustache."

My comments:  I only read about 35% of this book, but had to force myself to read it, then would put it down after about 10 minutes.  I thought  I liked fantasy, but I not only couldn't get into this book, I didn't like it. I've discovered that these fantasies with huge world-building aspects just aren't for me.  So I'm not going to rate it - that's not fair when I only read a third of the book, but I don't intend to read any more of it.

Goodreads synopsis:  Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
          Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached)
          Retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
          Survive long enough to collect his reward (and spend it)
          Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done - and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable - if they don't kill each other first.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I've Been Cooking - Breakfast Bowls

I love Jimmy Dean "Meat Lovers" Breakfast Bowls, but they're pretty expensive, anywhere from $2.50 to $3.00 each.  So I decided to make my own! (Note, this batch ended up costing me $1.40 each - and the time it took me to prepare, of course!)

1/2 lb. ground country sausage (Karns 1.00)
1/3 lb. 3/8" slice ham (Karns - on sale - 1.50
1 pkgs. real bacon bits (Aldi 1.29)
1/2 pkg. O'Brien hash browns (1.25)
1/2 pkg. frozen chopped onions (1.18)
10 eggs (.99 doz. at Aldi)
1 cup (or less) shredded Colby Jack Cheese (1.15)

As I prepped each ingredient, I divided it into 6 different freezer containers.

First I sauteed the hash browns and the onions in a little canola oil, letting them brown up a bit. Didn't take long.

I sliced the ham into small pieces and sprinkled them atop the potatoes.  Then the bacon bits (I actually didn't use the whole package).

I crumble-fried the sausage (I like them in pretty small chunks, so I kept breaking them apart), drained the mixture well, and divied it up into each container.

Using a little butter, I broke the 10 eggs directly into the frying pan.  I then broke all the yolks and scrambled them up.  It saves me a bowl, and I like little flecks of egg white in my eggs, although this way they got scrambled pretty well.  I like my eggs really well done, but I stopped cooking them a bit before I usually do, since they'll cook a little more when they're microwaved and I don't want them too dry.  That gets dumped into each of the containers.

A light dusting of the cheese, and they're ready to go.  I don't add salt & pepper, I do that after I microwave them at breakfast-time.

Once they're cool, I cover (trying to get out as much air as possible) and freeze.  I usually only freee four, because I'll be eating at least two in the following couple of days.

I microwave for about 4 minutes.   Everyone's microwave is different, so you'll have to double check the first few ones you cook.

I love 'em.  And they cost only $1.40 each!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

TV Show - Sense 8

Just finished watching Season 1 (and what they're calling Episode 1 of Season 2, but the rest of the season - 10 more episodes - won't come out until May 8th
Premiered: June 5, 2015 (Dec. 2016 was the 2-hour "Christmas" Special, Episode 13, or Episode 1 of Season 2)
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 13
Length of Episode:
IMBd: 8.4/10
RT Audience Score:   92% (67 Critic)
cag:  It's sensational (6)
Produced by Netflix

     Will - Chicago cop (paired with Riley)
     Riley - Icelandic dj living in London (paired with Will)
     Wolfgang - Troubled young man in East Berlin (drawn to Kala)
     Lito - gay actor in Mexico City
     Capheus - Van Damm lover/bus owner in Nairobi
     Kala - newlywed in India (drawn to Wolfgang)
     Sun - wrongly imprisoned martial artist in Seoul
     Nomi -female transgender computer hacker in San Francisco

My comments:  It takes a bit of the first installment to figure out what's going on, but once you're in, you're totally and completely hooked.  LOVED this, and can't wait until May for more!

Storyline from IMBd:  Season 1 of this science fiction drama begins as eight strangers from different regions of the world unexpectedly become mentally and emotionally linked to each other. They learn that they are "sensates," a particular type of human that has the ability to psychically share their knowledge and skills with one another. The group soon finds themselves in danger and must work together in order to protect one another from a villainous sensate who is determined to hunt them down by using their powers against them.

4. Dead Connection by Alafair Burke

read on my Kindle
2007, Henry Hold
336 pgs.
Adult murder mystery/Police procedural
Finished 2-1-17
Goodreads rating:  3.73 - 2803 ratubgs
My rating: 4
Setting:  Contemporary NYC

First line/s:  "The man's first look at the newspaper item was a casual one, followed immediately by a more deliberate perusal."

My comments:  I read this book over the course of at least a month, and for some reason had no difficulty remembering details during the spans of nonreading time.  The storyline was interesting with a number of surprises, and the protagonist, Ellie Hatcher, was smart and real.  She took chances, sometimes without thinking things entirely through, and was willing to bend rules a little bit. I liked her a lot, as well as her brother, Jess, and the guy she ended up "seeing" by the end of the book, Peter.  There are a handful of Ellie Hatcher books following this one, and I'm looking forward to reading at least the next.

Goodreads synopsis:  In this electrifying thriller, a rookie detective goes undercover on the 
Internet dating scene to draw out a serial killer targeting single women
in Manhattan
           When two young women are murdered on the streets of New York, exactly one year apart, Detective Ellie Hatcher is called up for a special assignment on the homicide task force. The killer has left behind a clue connecting the two cases to First Date, a popular online dating service, and Flann McIlroy, an eccentric, publicity-seeking homicide detective, is convinced that only Ellie can help him pursue his terrifying theory: someone is using the lure of the Internet and the promise of love to launch a killing spree against the women of New York City. 
           To catch the killer, Ellie must enter a high-tech world of stolen identities where no one is who they appear to be. And for her, the investigation quickly becomes personal: she fits the profile of the victims, and she knows firsthand what pursuing a sociopath can do to a cop--back home in Wichita, Kansas, her father lost his life trying to catch a notorious serial murderer. 
           When the First Date killer begins to mimic the monster who destroyed her father, Ellie knows the game has become personal for him, too. Both hunter and prey, she must find the killer before he claims his next victim--who could very well be her.
           Expertly plotted and perfectly paced, Dead Connection advances Alafair Burke to the front ranks of American thriller writers.