Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finished two more books...

Finished reading 'The Unquiet' by John Connolly and 'Darkest Fear' by Harlan Coben. Yep, I'm a readaholic, plus I read fast. Not sure if I'm technically a speed reader but was tested prior to taking a speed reading class and they said I didn't need the class. Scored high on comprehension also, which is a definite plus. Reading fast means nothing if you can't retain anything.

Well, this blog isn't supposed to be about me and my many talents, although I guess you're going to get to know me over time. You can discover some things about a person just by the kind of books they read. I go through reading fits so I'd guess that says I'm eclectic? or more unflattering: scattered!

I told you recently that I had read all of Harlan Coben's books. I didn't knowingly fib, I just didn't realize I'd missed one. 'Darkest Fear' is excellent. You get to the end only to find there's another ending... only to find you really didn't get to the end 'cause there's another level, another twist. Loved this one.

In 'Darkest Fear' Coben's main characters, Myron Bolitar and Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III), team up with some of my other favorites. Myron is told by his ex-college girlfriend that he is the father of her teenage son. The 13-year old is dying of a terminal disease and Bolitar's help is needed to track down an elusive bone marrow donor. Something that starts out seemingly innocent spirals into a can't-stop-reading-thriller.

The book is published by Dell, a division of Random House. It is an oldie, copyright 2000.

If you haven't read any of Coben's books I'd suggest you head to the library or the nearest new or used bookstore and start at the beginning. You can pick them up anywhere but they're much better when you grow with the characters, learn about the things that have influenced them, meet those who jump, fall, intrude into the main character's lives.

John Connolly's 'The Unquiet' is another outstanding book. I love the way Connolly brings in just a touch of the supernatural with a healthy dose of skepticism and soul-searching from his main character, Charlie Parker. Connolly weaves a tale that envelopes the reader, makes you step inside the book and walk along side not just Parker, but some of the others who cross his path.

I found myself, just like Charlie Parker, feeling some sympathy for a murderer. I justified his actions as though they were mine in the same situation. It takes a good author to make you part of the story!

'The Unquiet' is a story of child abuse, murder, horrible secrets and violence. Connolly builds layer upon layer to reach a conclusion that had me immediately wanting to read his next book. 

This is another older book, although not quite so old as 'Darkest Fear'. It was first published in 2007 by Atria Books. Connolly is also an author who's work is best when read in order. However it's been a while since I read a book by Connolly (sorry to say) and I didn't remember enough about past characters to connect the dots. It didn't detract from the reading of the book at all. In fact, I decided I was going to write a list of his book titles and buy them all. I'm going to re-read this one when I get to it in the line of titles.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Former Marine, Author, Business Owner to Speak at UWG

Former U.S. Marine, author and businessman Tchicaya Missamou will speak and sign copies of his memoir, “In the Shadow of Freedom: A Heroic Journey to Liberation, Manhood and America,” at the Campus Center at the University of West Georgia on Oct. 11 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Missamou was born in Brazzaville, Congo, where civil war disrupted his childhood. He became a child soldier and later used his military connections to ferry white diplomats out of the country, an enterprise that earned him great wealth but left his family brutalized.

Missamou fled the country in 1997 and eventually made it to the United States. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where his military deployments included Iraq.

After becoming a U.S. citizen, Missamou returned to Congo to rescue his family. He ended up captured, beaten, shot and jailed. Missamou was able to escape and returned to the United States.

He founded Warrior Fitness, a high-end personal training facility in Valencia, Calif. He lives in Santa Clarita, Calif., with is wife and three children.

The International Student Club is sponsoring the event, which will be in the Campus Center Ballroom 108.1 & 2.
The event is free and open to the public.
@softnblue (music & dance)
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Spend an Afternoon with Author Ferrol Sams

Sunday, September 26th
At 3:00 pm
Tickets: $5

A physician, humorist, storyteller and best-selling novelist, Ferrol Sams is the author of eight books. Most notable is his trilogy of novels in which an eccentric and quixotic hero, Porter Osborne Jr., mirrors Sams' own Georgia boyhood in Fayette County. All his works are rooted in the oral traditions of southern humor and folklore. With engaging and graceful prose, Sams' fiction celebrates love of the land, the changing Southern landscape, and what he calls "being raised right" in the rural South.

Centre for the Performing and Visual Art of Coweta County
1523 Lower Fayetteville Road, Newnan, GA 30265

Saturday, September 18, 2010

If Harlan Coben writes it... I will read it.

Sometimes you come across authors that snatch you up and carry you easily into their novels. Harlan Coben didn't snatch, he completely ensnared me. I have read every book he's written since finding the first one at our local Library book sale.

He can't write fast enough to make me happy.

I just finished reading Caught and it's definitely another Harlan Coben winner. I loved the twists and turns in this suspenseful book. He never seems to travel in the direction most authors would and nothing is ever what it seems. I always agree with his endings and like where he finishes up.

Caught is his 17th book.

In Caught a young girl vanishes from her home, people lose their reputations, some die, and some persevere. There is evil, some misguided, and good, sometimes accidental. The characters are human and react in ways that may surprise the reader. Things are never clear-cut in Coben's novels, Caught is no exception.

You get as much out of Coben's books as you're willing to put into them. You can read it as a straight mystery / thriller, or you can use it as a springboard to look into your own soul. What would you do to protect your family? What choices would you make if faced with a crisis in college? when established? How loyal would you be to your friends? Would you trust your instincts over the facts placed in front of you?

Life isn't neat and Coben's books show just how messy it can be, albeit for most of us we'll never, hopefully, encounter the situations his characters run into. We will probably judge others in those situations though. He develops the characters like building blocks, adding layer upon layer until you are inside their head seeing the world through their eyes.

I confess that I finished reading Caught in one evening. I stayed up until bleary eyed as I couldn't sleep wondering what would happen on the next page. Usually when I do that I end up reading the book again a few months later. I find it fun to re-read a book knowing the ending. I see all the little hints and nuances that lead to the conclusion.

It's not necessary to read Coben's books in order, although with some they build on past books. I started reading his books in the middle of the pack, then went back and picked up some earlier books, read some at the end, then back toward the middle. It didn't change my enjoyment of the books.

Shoot, I may have to start a hardback collection of his books. I usually read paperbacks because I am an abuser of books. I read them while cooking, while eating, and carry them stuffed into my messy purse. I turn page corners to save my place and break the spines when I prop them open with whatever is handy. I try to treat hardbacks a little better!

If you like mystery, suspense, thrillers, twists and turns, you'll love Harlan Coben's writing. I would love to have a Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) in my life, character flaws and all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Found a great new author (for me): C. J. Box

C. J. Box has been writing for a while, but I just discovered him this week. I walked into the library, did my usual 'grab all the books that look interesting' tour, then ran out to carry on with my day. I happened to pick up two mysteries by C. J. Box just because the titles and covers caught my attention.

The first book I read was part of his Joe Pickett series. Blood Trail was published in 2008 by G. P. Putnam's Sons. I'm currently reading Blue Heaven, published in 2007 by St. Martin's Press.

If you're looking for vanilla "good guy always wins, gets the girl" type books, then Box is not your author! The two books I've read were almost 'dark' in their realism at times. Box doesn't candy-coat human foibles.

Readers get a good glimpse into the souls of those he writes about. You see their goodness, their seamier side, their character flaws and get a taste of their internal struggles with the choices they make and have made.

Blood Trail is set in Wyoming, Box's home state. The reader starts off walking in the mind and footsteps of the killer. You make the gruesome discovery of the gutted and flayed victim with Joe Pickett and others. As the blood trail expands to include other deaths Box leads you to a conclusion that surprised me and had me saying "Yes!". You'll see what I mean in the last chapter. I can't say more than that or I'll ruin it for you -- unless you're one of those who reads the last chapter first (something that I've never understood!).

Throughout the book Box drops little tidbits that might allow you to possibly figure out who the killer-hunter is before the end, if you pay close attention.

As I read the book I saw life just a little differently than I normally do sitting in my warm home down south. It's a tough world in the colder regions of our country!

As a non-hunter-type it was particularly interesting getting the perspective of conscientious hunters, hacks and those who completely oppose the idea of killing animals. There was just enough in the book to tease me into wanting to get a better understanding of the interplay between long-time ranchers and hunters and those who are moving in, trying to change their way of life.

Blue Heaven, the book I'm currently reading, is set in Idaho. Two children witness a brutal murder out in the woods and the chase is on. Box is thus far doing an excellent job of keeping me on the edge, wanting to turn the page to see what happens next. He again delves into the complexities of the human psyche. Without begin judgmental Box is painting pictures of the things that shape the lives and choices his characters make.

The story-lines in both books are great and the characters are believable, a winning combination. I'll be heading back to the library to pick up some of his other titles when I finish reading my current batch of library grabs. It looks like he's been writing for a while and has racked up a number of awards along the way. I don't know how I managed to miss his books all these years. I won't miss any in the future.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Author, Poet Alvarez to Present Reading at UWG

Julia Alvarez, a prize-winning poet, essayist, and novelist, will give a public reading at the University of West Georgia’s Coliseum on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m.

Alvarez’s multi-award-winning novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, has been chosen as a National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read” selection for this year. The novel is designed to inspire, as it celebrates the human spirit, as people struggle, sometimes fatally, with oppression and malevolence.

This event is free and open to the public.

Prior to the reading, Alvarez will be present at other open events during the day, including: a continental breakfast from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom; a discussion from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. at Kathy Cashen Hall followed by a second discussion from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Alvarez writes books both in Spanish and English and for audiences from elementary-age to adults. She is a poet, an essayist, and a novelist. She is working on a collection of essays about the situation in Haiti (she is a Dominican-American), as well as at least one new children’s book in her Tia Lola series.

For more information about Alvarez, please visit For further information regarding the event, please contact Emily Hipchen, Associate Professor, English, at 678-839-4746 or
@softnblue (music & dance)
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Monday, September 6, 2010

The Ice Princess - Icy Hot!

In all my years of reading I have never, to my knowledge, read a book by a Scandinavian author. Now I can put a tick mark next to "done that"! I just finished reading "The Ice Princess" by Camilla Lackberg. It was excellent.

I hit the local library fairly often, going through the front racks grabbing 5 - 10 books at a time that look interesting. "The Ice Princess" cover caught my attention along with catch phrases (for me) like "crime novel", "ingenious", "suspense", and "superb" on the back cover.

It wasn't my first choice in the stack I brought home, but it was the best. I'm glad I didn't read it first as the rest paled in comparison!

I didn't know I was reading a book by a Scandinavian author until after I started reading the book. I make it a point not to read the inside jacket description as I want to get my own feel for the book, pick up the plot thread on my own. I also don't look at maps or the list of characters if they happen to appear in the book. I paint my own pictures as I read, create my own maps. I know I'm not going to remember the list of characters or their connections if they're given at the front of the book, so why waste my time? A good author will connect the dots in my mind as I read.

By not looking at the map, which was rather hard to overlook now that I'm looking at the book again, I had no clue which country the tale was set until I was a few pages into the book. At that point I was already hooked. In fact, Lackberg caught me completely on the first page. Perfect! The fact that it was set in Sweden was a plus, something new.

The story revolves around Erica Falck who returns to her home after the death of her parents only to become enmeshed in the hunt for the person who killed her childhood friend. You'll meet Erica's sister and see life through her eyes, experiencing fear, frustration, hope, and maybe a bit of anger. You'll enjoy the tiptoeing experience of new love, more realistic than one typically finds in murder mysteries. You'll find yourself trying to connect the dots to solve the murder as you become a part of a small town and get to know a few of the inhabitants who have some dark secrets.  

Lackberg paints excellent pictures. She builds connections, takes you into the scene and the mind of the characters. She teases with small tidbits of information that take you to that "ah ha" conclusion at just the perfect point in the story. Although the book was translated from Swedish into English, it flowed very well and was easy to read. Translator Steven T. Murray deserves kudos for a job well done, too.

Lackberg gives you a glimpse into another culture while imparting excellent insights into the human psyche... mostly the weaker, selfish side. Amidst the sadness, the murder, the ruined lives in her book she weaves hope, and shows a the better side of our nature, too. 

She wraps things up nicely at the end. While she doesn't leave any loose ends, she leaves you wondering about the future of many of her characters.

Camilla Lackberg is an author that is now on my list of "will look for" authors. I think this is a book that I'll go back and read again at a later date.

The Ice Princess
Camilla Lackbert
Translated by Steven T. Murray
Pegasus Books, Copyright 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60598-092-8