Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs

bone are fI was taking a trip and needed a book to read. Kathy Reich is always a good choice.

Genre: Murder Mystery

Blurb: (Goodreads) A woman calling herself Amy Roberts checks into a Montreal hospital complaining of uncontrolled bleeding. Doctors see evidence of a recent birth, but before they can act, Roberts disappears. Dispatched to the address she gave at the hospital, police discover bloody towels outside in a Dumpster. Fearing the worst, they call Temperance Brennan to investigate.

In a run-down apartment Tempe makes a ghastly discovery: the decomposing bodies of three infants. According to the landlord, a woman named Alma Rogers lives there. Then a man shows up looking for Alva Rodriguez. Are Amy Roberts, Alma Rogers, and Alva Rodriguez the same person? Did she kill her own babies? And where is she now?

Heading up the investigation is Tempe’s old flame, homicide detective Andrew Ryan. His counterpart from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is sergeant Ollie Hasty, who happens to have a little history with Tempe himself, which she regrets. This unlikely trio follows the woman’s trail, first to Edmonton and then to Yellowknife, a remote diamond-mining city deep in the Northwest Territories. What they find in Yellowknife is more sinister than they ever could have imagined.

What I didn’t like: The topic of dead newborns, though not throughout the story, is a sad one,  the names of places and characters got a little confusing at times because I was listening to this story, and the explanation of diamond exploration gets a touch old, but that’s about it for the didn’t like category.

What I liked: Like most Kathy Reich stories, it kept you wanting to read/listen chapter after chapter. I always like Temperance’s attitude and there are typically interesting characters that she comes across to add a smile and some spice (like the kid on the bike – fun dialogue there) to the story.  You get a feeling for who done it, or a least a bit of one, until she reveals the probably motive close to the end. But it’s an interesting enough ending that a probable guess doesn’t spoil the book at all. The narrator was the one I’ve heard for most of Kathy’s books,  Linda Emond , and she is very good, as usual.

Rating: 4/5

A Walk Across the Sun by Addison Corban

a walkI read this book for my book club

Genre: fiction (drama)

Blurb: (from Goodreads) When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade.

Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis-and makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent’s human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.

What I liked: Overall, it was a good story. It’s hard not want to find out what is happening with the two young girls after they are captured, and the back story of Clarke and his wife is somewhat interesting as well. The loss of his own daughter makes it more plausible that he would be jetting around to try and find Sita. It’s sad to know that things like this happen to young girls every day and books like this are good to remind people of that fact. The author also gives you opportunities to get involved if you so desire.

What I didn’t like: The beginning is a bit slow, or slowly written. It’s odd to say this since it begins with the family being overtaken by a tsunami but I think the trauma of that situation was not brought out well. The writing gets better, though, and there isn’t much of the slow stuff (the water comes in, the girls find dead family, they walk here, they get taken there…) so if you hang in there a bit, it gets better.

Rating: 3.5/5

Book Giveaway

In honor of the book release this Friday, June 14th at Frugal Muse  West (by Target/Menards) in Madison, 7 p.m., of Living in the House of Drugs I will be giving away 4 free copies of the book on Goodreads. You’re also welcome to come to the release event and meet Willie!


   As a child in 1980s, Chicago Willie stole to help feed his brothers, sister, and himself. In grade school his teacher told him to have his parents help him with his homework, but his mother, the only parent around, didn’t know how. As a young man Willie started smoking pot, which easily turned into harder drugs. This eventually led Willie to a life under someone’s front porch, two prison sentences, numerous trips to jail, and various recovery programs.

  Living in the House of Drugs is the story of Willie Lee Triplett, a recovering addict and alcoholic. It tells of Willie’s life in the suburbs of one of Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods, his chance trip to Wisconsin, and his struggle for sobriety. It’s a no-holds-barred account of Willie’s life on the street, in prison, and the roller coaster ride of recovery that many addicts know well. The story is unique in its telling, following not only Willie’s interesting life story but also the author’s interactions with Willie as she learns of his sometimes sordid past, seeing beyond the story and into the man.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Living in the House of Drugs by Christine Keleny

Living in the House of Drugs

by Christine Keleny

Giveaway ends June 30, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Good Luck!

Envy by Sandra Brown

envyI picked up this audio book because I really enjoyed the last Sandra Brown book I read (Rainwater). This one…

Genre: fiction

Blurb: (from Goodreads) Living on a remote island under an assumed name, novelist Parker Evans guards his secrets well. Fascinated by this reclusive genius, publisher Maris Matherly-Reed decides to pursue him. But this new project threatens an old commitment, a commitment at the very center of her life. 

What I didn’t like: Compared to Rainwater, this wasn’t half the book that was. The plot was a little thin – the main bad guy (Todd, M’s husband) was a bit too stupid for my taste. He kept thinking his villainous plans would work, even after his wife caught him cheating, and he threatened her.  It bothered me that M fell for the crude — character. It’s a bit hard to understand how an educated, savvy business woman would do that, but I guess it could happen. I also thought Brown made him – the supposed good guy in the story – too crude. A bit crude, sure, but not as raunchy as she made him. The other thing that bothered me is the sex in the book, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it. Neither the back audio blurb nor the blurb you read above give you any idea of this. And having read Brown’s Rainwater before this, I wouldn’t have expected it from this author. It seems more like a book about the act of sex with a revenge story as a back drop vs the other way around. Plus when Parker Evans is injured in the ocean as badly as he was injured, he would have bled out and died if the sharks didn’t get to him first (if there are sharks around the Florida Keys). And on a personal note:  as a writer, I don’t like to read books about writing. I use reading as an escape, and reading about writing is not an escape for me.

What I liked: Not a whole lot, as you can see from above. It has good dialogue and flows well even with a thin plot at times, but I was expecting more of a story after reading Rainwater before this one. If you like to read sex scenes, Brown does a good job with those and there is plenty of them throughout the book, but I didn’t pick this book up looking for that. Victor Slezak did the narration for this audio book and he did a fine job. I wonder how he kept his cool through all those sex scenes!

Rating: 2/5

The Plague of Doves by Louise Edrich

plaqueI picked this out of a hat. I had never read any of Edrich’s stuff before.

Genre: fiction

Blurb:  (goodreads) The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation.

Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina’s grandfather, is a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, who bears witness, understands the weight of historical injustice better than anyone. Through the distinct and winning voices of three unforgettable narrators, the collective stories of two interwoven communities ultimately come together to reveal a final wrenching truth.

What I liked: The writing is wonderful, poetic, inspiring as a writer, and  just lovely. The story is intriguing… in places. The beginning story of the young girl, Evelina and her interesting grandfather, who like many elders, has a story to tell gets you to want to learn more.

What I didn’t like: Unfortunately Erdrich doesn’t stay with that initial story. She brings it back later, but there are confusing things in between. You find out that these other people and stories ultimately mean something but I think the story would have been wonderful if Louise could have made the transitions between the different people’s stories more understandable, more logical. She does bring the stories together at the end, but the end seems anti-climactic. It left me thinking: what was she trying to get across in this story? I listened to this and the narration switched between Peter Francis James and Kathleen McInerney. They both do a good job, I just prefer one narrator or a group of narrators that play a specific character. I get used to hearing one voice and it is startling for me when the switch happens. Oh well.

Rating: 3.5/5

Dead Man’s Chest by Kerry Greenwood

dead man's chestGenre: Murder mystery, a Phryne Fisher mystery (narrated by Stephanie Daniel)

Blurb: (from Goodreads) Phryne Fisher needs a rest. It’s summer. She packs up her family and moves to Queenscliff, a quiet watering place on the coast. Where she meets with smugglers, pirate treasure and some very interesting surrealists, including a parrot called Pussykins. What is the mysterious Madame Selavey hiding? Where are the Johnsons, who were supposed to be in the holiday house?

What I liked: I liked the narrator of this story, Stephanie Daniel, did a nice job with the large number of characters. I like Greenwood’s characterization, the characters are very real and enjoyable and the main character – Phryne Fisher – is a woman to be admired, more notable because this story was supposed to take place, I’m thinking, in the 1920s but the rest…

What I didn’t like: The rest seemed all over the place. I really had a hard time keeping the characters straight, even the main ones until well into the book. Part of the issue might be that this is book 18 in the Fisher mystery series (I was unaware of this when I picked it up), but maybe it’s also because Greenwood is Australian and maybe the book style of that country is different from mine. I have noticed a difference, at times, reading from someone from the UK so perhaps it is similar with the country down under. And the story was very difficult to follow. Greenwood moved from one scene and set of characters to another with minimal to no transition and at times it was difficult to know what the characters were talking about until a page or so into the scene. I kept reading because I liked the characters, but the story itself was uninteresting and odd at times. Perhaps if I tried an earlier work, it would have been better. Sometimes writers or editors become lazy after so many books in a series.

Rating: 2/5

Meet Jerry Apps and 4 other local Wisconsin Authors

maclogoCome to a free event put on by the Monroe Center for the Arts, Thursday, April 18th, 7 p.m.  – 1315 11th St. Monroe, WI in the Gunderson Stiles Concert Hall

Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of more than 30 books, Jerry Apps will moderate this forum of local authors including Matt FigiChristine Keleny (ME!), Bill Ross, and Olivia Rupprecht. These authors represent different genres of literature from history to mystery.  This forum will explore the writing process and its relation to the various genres of literature.  It promises to be a lively discussion.

Important Anniversary for All Who Love Words

mwol2010_mw_logo_headerI couldn’t pass up sharing this little tid bit of information. On April 14, 1828: Noah Webster registered the copyright on his American Dictionary of the English Language 185 years ago today. Imagine, just 2,500 copies of the first edition sold, for 20 dollars apiece. Twenty dollars must have been a fortune in 1828. It took him thirty years to compile it. He changed words like the Kings English colour and changed it to color, musik  to music, theatre to theater.  He introduced new “American” words (some based on Native American languages) such as opossum, skunk, and a favorite of yours and mine – Congress. He also wrote his own edition of the Bible. He was also instrumental in creating the first American census.

Noah was a school teacher and he was appalled by his students inability to spell.

I don’t know when Merriam got into the picture, but I couldn’t do without my dictionaries. I have multiple!

(This is also the night that Lincoln was shot (1865) and the Titanic struck an iceberg(1912).)