Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Secrets of EdenI had been hitting the reject button for the last three audio books I picked up at the library lately, so when I say this one, from an author I have always liked, I went for it.

Stats: Published in 2010, Audio book is 11.5 hours/9 discs, narrated by Mark Bramhall, Susan Denaker, Rebecca Lowman and Kathe Mazur. Print is 370 pages.

Blurb: (Goodreads) “There,” says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by a meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about . . . angels.

Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents’ murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice’s daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen – who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.
But then the State’s Attorney begins to suspect that Alice’s husband may not have killed himself. . .and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.

What I liked: Every book of Bohjalian’s that I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed, even though not all of them have been great. Mostly this is because of Bohjalian’s skill at writing. There was a section or tow of this that was a bit slow and I’m not sure why they were included, but it didn’t make me want to stop, just because I enjoyed the writing. I also did enjoy this story, however. It wasn’t hard to figure out, who did it, so to speak, and I’m sure Bohjalian knew this, but there was a slight twist at the end, so I’m sure that’s why he wrote it as he did. Along with that good writing is the author’s skill at character development – most notably the Reverend, who starts out this book. And having Mark Bramhall narrate his voice (I always enjoy listening to Mr. Bramhall) really made it that much more entertaining and believable. The other narrators did fine as well, by the way.

What I didn’t enjoy: As mentioned, there was a section or two that was too long, but not enough to make me want to stop. It was a bit unbelievable the way the daughter – Katie’s – reacted to her parent’s deaths, but again, not so much that it ruined the story. It was a bit more unbelievable the State’s Attorney’s reaction. I won’t say more as not to give anything away.

Rating: 4/5

Old Tune Tuesday – Lenny K. and Prince

This is one of those that isn’t that old, but it’s old enough to have a dead guy in it (rest his soul and his blue Lycra suit).

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 11:26pm03  Leave a Comment  
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Photo Phriday – Cycles for Rent in Kota Tua

With spring officially here, this looks really appealing. I especially like that the man renting the bikes is wearing one of his orange hats 🙂

Joshi Daniel Photography

A young man who rents bicycles sipping coffee at Kota Tua area in Jakarta on the Indonesian Independence Day Cycles for Rent | Kota Tua, Jakarta, Indonesia

The young man pictured here lends bicycles on rent in Kota Tua area in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was photographed sipping coffee on the day of the Indonesian Independence Day. Shot on a GoPro.

Here is your chance to win an all expenses paid trip for two to Bali. Take the Quiz Now at http://wonderful.indonesia.travel/tripofwonders/

Thankful to Wonderful Indonesia and the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for a great opportunity to see Indonesia.

If you would like to buy a print of any of the images, get in touch with me here.

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Published in: on March 24, 2017 at 11:26pm03  Leave a Comment  
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Ascension

(Image by Betty Davidson of Duluth, MN)

Heartstring Eulogies

To be appreciated
and understood
for who you are
is tantamount
to ascending to
heaven.

© Sarah Doughty

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Published in: on March 16, 2017 at 11:26am03  Comments (5)  

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451I had listened to this a while back but I wanted to listen to it again. It was a bit disturbing how some of it rings true to today.

Stats: Audio book – 4 discs, read by Christopher Hurt. 174 page print, published in 1953

Blurb: (Goodreads) Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

What I liked: Bradbury really makes you care for Guy Montag and you’re releaved that he things turn out (though I won’t say too much if you haven’t read it.) though do they really turn out? That would be something to debate for sure. It is a bit hard to believe we could function without books, but in this digital age, it isn’t like it couldn’t happen. And, of course, there would be hold outs. The neighbor girl is interesting and I’m not sure how “they” would have an excuse to get rid of her, so that is left vague. And I really don’t like the mechanical hound. A good – bad character. And Christopher Hurt does a great job with the narration. His voice was perfect for the story and he did well with the different voices, especially the fire chief.

What I didn’t like: Guy’s wife, though I know I’m not supposed to like her, so I should say, Bradbury did a good job in making her annoying and vacuous. So I should say there really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the story other than it’s not very upbeat, but it’s not supposed to be.

Rating: 4+/5

Published in: on March 15, 2017 at 11:26pm03  Leave a Comment  
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Medieval Monday: Taverns and Ale Houses

Living in a state where taverns are a staple and being a history buff, Allison Reid’s post was really interesting to me. I thought you might like it too!

Thanks Christopher!

Source: Medieval Monday: Taverns and Ale Houses

Published in: on March 14, 2017 at 11:26pm03  Leave a Comment  
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Stopping By Wood… Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow. 
  
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.  
  
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.
 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

On this day in 1923 Robert Frost poem was published, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Image result for robert frost image

Published in: on March 8, 2017 at 11:26am03  Comments (2)  
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Publisher cancels Milo Yiannopoulos book ‘Dangerous’

CKBooks Publishing

Don’t know if you saw this interesting bit of news, but since we were discussing Milo’s book earlier, I thought you might like to know.

And who said your voice doesn’t matter?

Though he’ll either self-publish or find someone else who will publish it for him, I’m sure. It was ranked 83 on Amazon’s overall book list, after all.

——————————-

NEW YORK (AP) — Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ publisher has cancelled his planned book, “Dangerous.”

Source: Publisher cancels Milo Yiannopoulos book ‘Dangerous’

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Published in: on February 21, 2017 at 11:26pm02  Comments (2)  

Rock Paper Scissor Book Author Interview – A Lizzy Ballard Thriller

Matty is an author I know so I wanted to share her latest book with you. I haven’t read it yet myself, but it’s on my list!

What is the underlying theme of Rock Paper Scissors?

The underlying theme of all my books is how a person with an extraordinary ability deals with that ability in the context of the ordinary world. In the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, The Sense of Death and The Sense of Reckoning, it’s Ann’s ability to sense spirits, an ability that sets her apart from other people, and causes the end of an important relationship. In Rock Paper Scissors, the first of the Lizzy Ballard Thrillers, it’s Lizzy’s ability to cause strokes in others, an ability that forces her to live in isolation, for the safety of others as well as herself.

Since Rock Paper Scissors is billed as a thriller, I suspect that Lizzy’s ability results in some mayhem!

Yes! The people who are responsible for Lizzy’s ability, and who are scheming to use it to further their own goals, are Gerard Bonnay, the head of a Philadelphia fertility clinic, and his wife and head of research, Louise Mortensen. During the course of the story, they acquire an unexpected ally, and Lizzy’s situation becomes even more perilous.

Does Lizzy have any allies to help her deal with the challenges her ability poses, and with the people who are trying to take advantage of it?

Initially, Lizzy’s primary allies are her parents, Charlotte and Patrick. The novel begins with Lizzy as an infant, and describes some incidents when she is a toddler and young girl to illustrate the dangers of her situation. However, most of the action of the story takes place when Lizzy is a teenager, and is triggered by a trip she wants to take from her home in the Philadelphia suburbs to New York City to see the sights at Christmas-time. At that point, it appears her closest allies are Owen McNally, a neurobiologist and friend of her father, and her family’s housekeeper, Ruby DiMano. But is Ruby really an ally? It’s clear that Ruby’s loyalties are torn, but it’s unclear which way she will ultimately throw her support.

You mentioned that Lizzy lives near Philadelphia—is that the main setting for the story?

As with The Sense of Death and the beginning of The Sense of Reckoning, most of Rock Paper Scissors is set in the Philadelphia area, near my home in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Ballards initially live in Paoli, Pennsylvania, and as their fortunes decline, they move further out along the Main Line, which is the name given to the towns along the rail line that stretches west from Philadelphia. Lizzy and her mother also spend some time at the family cabin in the Pocono Mountains, a couple of miles to the north of Philadelphia. There’s also a critical meeting that takes place in Longwood Gardens, which is one of my favorite spots in Chester County. Patrick Ballard and Owen McNally work at William Penn University, which is my stand-in for my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and Lizzy hides out for a time in a slightly fictionalized version of the Spruce Lane Lodge and Cottages in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County.

How do you decide when to use a place’s real name and when to change it?

I change it when I want to reserve the right to adjust factual details to meet the needs of the story. I may also change the name if I may be portraying the place in a negative light. For example, early in the writing of Rock Paper Scissors, I thought the villain might be affiliated with the university, so I didn’t want to refer to it as the University of Pennsylvania. Similarly, I changed the real Philadelphia Inquirer into the Philadelphia Chronicle because I wanted to reserve the right to have one of its reporters engage in some less than ethical reporting.

Even though I’m tweaking the facts to support the story, I feel I’ve still been able to create a consistent world that runs through the books and across the series. For example, Lincoln Abbott, a reporter at the Chronicle who first appeared in The Sense of Death, pens several newspaper articles that appear in Rock Paper Scissors. Also, readers who are familiar with the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels will be pleased to hear that Detective Joe Booth makes a brief appearance in Rock Paper Scissors.

What are you working on next?

I just started work on Lizzy Ballard Book 2. Book 1 ends in Sedona, Arizona, and my husband and I were just there for our yearly getaway from the Pennsylvania winter. Book 2 will start in Sedona, so I wanted to get started on that while I was still under the influence of the Sedona vibe. I also just finished my first Ann Kinnear short story, which I plan to make available to subscribers of my newsletter.

Where can people connect with you to sign up for your newsletter or to keep track of Ann Kinnear and Lizzy Ballard’s next adventures?

They can sign up for my newsletter at my website, mattydalrymple.com. For more frequent updates, they can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

matty-dalrymple-author-photo-2016-headshot-2

Matty Dalrymple is the author of the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, “The Sense of Death” and “The Sense of Reckoning,” and “Rock Paper Scissors: A Lizzy Ballard Thriller,” which launches in March 2017. She lives with her husband, Wade Walton, and their dogs in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which is the setting for much of the action in “The Sense of Death” and “Rock Paper Scissors.” In the summer, they enjoy vacationing on Mt. Desert Island, Maine, where “The Sense of Reckoning” takes place. Matty also blogs, podcasts, and speaks about independent publishing as The Indy Author.

Matty is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Brandywine Valley Writers Group.

You can purchase Matty’s book on Amazon.

Published in: on February 17, 2017 at 11:26pm02  Leave a Comment  
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Thrice the Binded Cat Hath Mew’d – Alan Bradley

My daughter bought this and she shared it with me once she was done with it.

StatThrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce, #8)s: published in 2016, hardcover is smaller than most hardcover, it’s 331 pages.

Blurb: (Goodreads) In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

What I liked: Flavia is her usual, enjoyable self, even after eight books. Bradley has a good end to the murder mystery. Why he ended the book (not the mystery itself) is a big question, but I’m not going to discuss that so I don’t give it away. I listened to part of this (with the talented Jayne Entwistle as narrator, as usual) and read part, which confirmed that listening is more enjoyable to me. I also notice I miss less or remember more (not sure which) with audio.

What I didn’t like: This wasn’t my favorite Flavia story. It didn’t seem quite as tightly written – meaning there were things in the book I didn’t know why Bradley put it in and some odd things with the writing. For example – Flavia meets a significant character (a stranger to her) and Bradley doesn’t fully describe what he looks like until she meets him (Hillary) the second time. And when she meets him the first time, she ends up rubbing his shoulders. This seems out of character and in addition, an odd thing to do to a stranger. Another odd addition is the Horn Dance that apparently happens in town each year. It just seemed like it was stuck in there just so a character can sing at it (the reasoning of which is part of the plot). I assume Bradley didn’t tell the reader why Flavia was ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada because he’s mention this more in the next book, but it was something that felt was missing, along with the secret organization (forget the name) and what that groups goal/work is, which I thought would be discussed. I thought that was a line in his other books that he was working toward, but not with this book.

Rating: 3.5/5  As I said, not my favorite Flavia novel but still entertaining. From the ending, Bradley’s obviously going to write another one.