Friday, February 18, 2011

Quotable: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you.

This is a weekly feature open to other bloggers; grab the button and share your own quotation along with me every Friday! Don't forget to sign the Mr. Linky form with the link to your post so other readers can discover what you found Quotable.

This week I'm revisiting one of my all-time favorite first lines:

"To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor."
-- Deanna Raybourn,
Silent in the Grave


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mad for Maisie: Maisie Dobbs Series Read Along

Book Club Girl is hosting a Maisie Dobbs series read-along now through the end of April. I read the first book in Jacqueline Winspear's series last year and loved it. I am coming to the read-along a little late, but I'm hoping to catch up quickly.

Jen is hosting discussion questions for each book according to the following schedule:

January 14th - Maisie Dobbs
January 31st - Birds of a Feather
February 14th - Pardonable Lies
February 22nd - Paperback edition of The Mapping of Love and Death goes on sale
February 28th - Messenger of Truth
March 14th - An Incomplete Revenge
March 22nd - Hardcover of A Lesson in Secrets goes on sale
March 28th- Among the Mad
April 11th- The Mapping of Love and Death
April 25th - A Lesson in Secrets


In rather perfect timing, one of my Valentine's Day gifts was a copy of Pardonable Lies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Valentine's Day Edition

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. It is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Mailbox Monday is currently on tour and is hosted by Library of Clean Reads for the month of February. In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
At a festive, intimate dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them: to celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, each of them will also do the one thing they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventure, from getting a tattoo to learning to bake bread to reconciling with a former friend. Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying.

One of my favorite things about reading is that sometimes the right book comes to you at just the right time. For me, I think Joy for Beginners might be that book. My primary New Year's resolution for 2011 is to really embrace life, experience new things, and do a few things that scare me. I suspect I'll find some kind spirits in Joy for Beginners. I loved Erica Bauermeister's first novel, The School of Essential Ingredients, so I am doubly excited for this book. I received this for review from the publisher.

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead
The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork
Emily Stewart is the girl who claims to stand between the living and the dead. During the quiet summer of 1925, she and her brother, Michael, are thirteen-year-old twins-privileged, precocious, wandering aimlessly around their family's estate. One day, Emily discovers that she can secretly crack her ankle in such a way that a sound appears to burst through the stillness of midair. Emily and Michael gather the neighborhood children to fool them with these "spirit knockings."

Soon, however, this game of contacting the dead creeps into a world of adults still reeling from World War I. When the twins find themselves dabbling in the uncertain territory of human grief and family secrets- knock, knock-everything spins wildly out of control.


I also received this for review from Putnam. It looks fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Paul Elwork is a local author. Hopefully this means there will be some nearby author events closer to the book's release date.

Birds of a Feather
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
This is the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Last week there was a Groupon deal for a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card for $10. Since I knew I was going to be purchasing some books to round out both this series and the Lady Julia Grey Mysteries, I jumped on the deal. Maisie Dobbs was my favorite read last year and I'm looking forward to participating in the Maisie Dobbs Read-Along. I'm a bit behind, since today they're discussing the third book, Pardonable Lies, but I'll catch up.

Dark Road to Darjeeling
Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
With the fifth Lady Julia Grey book, The Dark Enquiry, coming out in mid-June, I thought it was time to get caught up with this series. I absolutely love these books and can't wait to dive into Dark Road to Darjeeling. Be looking for reviews of the entire Lady Julia Grey series at Bookish Ruth soon.

What books came into your home this week?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Salon: Finding Time to Read

The Sunday Salon.com

February is shaping up to be an excellent month for me reading-wise so far. This week alone I finished five books (The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn, Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander and The Islands of Divine Music by John Addiego) and I may finish a sixth (The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters) this evening.

ClockAfter finishing just seven books in January (with a goal of 100+ for the year), I have been making more of an effort to find time for reading. Being sick for a couple of days this week definitely gave my reading a boost, but I think the biggest improvement has come from going to bed a couple of hours early. I do most of my reading at night before I go to bed, and retiring earlier than usual has effectively doubled my reading time.

I have also returned to my old habit of carrying a book and/or my Kindle everywhere. It's amazing how much reading you can squeeze in to those moments when you're waiting for someone, in between commercials while watching TV, when the pot is taking longer than expected to boil...little stolen moments that may only afford time for a page or two, but add up over the course of the day.

It looks like this coming week is going to be the first in quite some time when the temperatures will be above freezing all week (53°F tomorrow!) so I'm hoping to get in some quality training for the 5K I'll be walking in April. I did my first-ever 5K walk last year at the Valley Forge Revolutionary Run (a HUGE victory for someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome!) and I hope to finish slightly faster this year. It's been so bitterly cold that I haven't been able to walk outdoors much (I actually like walking in the cold, but it needs to be slightly above freezing for me to be comfortable) and I'm ready to get back out there. I got a nice 1.2 mile walk in today, which made me happy.

What are you reading this Sunday?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Quotable: The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you.

This is a weekly feature open to other bloggers; grab the button and share your own quotation along with me every Friday! Don't forget to sign the Mr. Linky form with the link to your post so other readers can discover what you found Quotable.

I love traveling. With frigidly cold weather here in the Northeast, I'm very much looking forward to warmer weather, and with that warmer weather, some exciting travel plans for the spring and summer:

"My mom says that when you go to a place just to see what all the other tourists see, you're a tourist. But when you go to a place and see how people live and do things in ways that are different from what you do at home, you're a traveler. I like being a traveler better than being a tourist."
-- Susan Runholt,
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, p. 38

Are you a tourist or a traveler? What did you find Quotable this week?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Review of Torchwood: Bay of the Dead by Mark Morris

Bay of the Dead by Mark Morris
Torchwood: Bay of the Dead
Author: Mark Morris
Publisher: Random House UK (August 18, 2009)
Hardcover, 256 pages, $11.99
ISBN-10: 1846077370
ISBN-13: 978-1846077371
Source: I purchased this book.


The Torchwood team have seen a lot of strange things, but when zombies swarm Cardiff, Captain Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones feel as though they are living in a bad horror film. With Cardiff mysteriously cut off from the rest of the world, Torchwood and the residents of the bay city are on their own. Can Torchwood determine the source of their undead problem, and, more importantly, can they stop it?

Of all the Torchwood tie-in novels I have read (I think I have read all but three of them at this point), this was one of the most enjoyable. Zombies and Torchwood go together like bread and butter. Gwen’s husband, Rhys, and her former police partner, PC Andy Davidson, both play larger roles in this novel due to the absences of Owen Harper and Toshiko Sato. I am not a huge fan of Rhys, but I enjoyed him in this story. I also enjoyed seeing more of Andy; I hope we will see his role expand in future novels.

There is a fair amount of gore, as one would expect from a story centering around zombies. I was never bothered by this, despite my aversion to zombie movies as a whole. All of the Torchwood characters are portrayed well; there’s quite a bit of banter between Jack and Ianto and some touching scenes between Gwen and Rhys. The story felt like it could be an episode of the show, which is my main criterion for these books.

Mark Morris has written two Doctor Who tie-in novels, Forever Autumn (previously reviewed here) and Ghosts of India, both of which I enjoyed. I had high expectations for this book based on those two previous titles and I was not disappointed. Recommended for Torchwood fans.

Rating: 8/10.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: What Are You Reading?

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Click the logo above for more information.

This week's question:
What are you reading now and why are you reading it?

I'm reading three books right now:

The Crimes of Paris
The Crimes of Paris by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. I entered (and won) a giveaway at Melissa's Bookshelf when she reviewed this book. It sounded fascinating, and it has definitely lived up to my expectations so far.

The Red Pyramid
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I absolutely loved the Percy Jackson series, but I think I'm enjoying the first book in the Kane Chronicles even more thanks to my love of ancient Egyptian mythology.

The Third Lucretia
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt. I love art, mysteries and middle grade fiction so when this book arrived unsolicited, I was delighted. I expect to finish it this evening, and look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

What are you reading now?

Missed my last post? Check out Quotable: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.

Quotable: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you.

This is a weekly feature open to other bloggers; grab the button and share your own quotation along with me every Friday! Don't forget to sign the Mr. Linky form with the link to your post so other readers can discover what you found Quotable.

My selection this week is from Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. This was my favorite out of all the books I read last year. There are so many wonderful passages that it was hard to choose just one to feature here. I kept coming back to one in particular, though, about the nature of truth:

"Maurice Blanche maintained that amid the tales, the smokescreens, and the deceptive mirrors of life's unsolved mysteries, truth resides, waiting for someone to enter its sanctum, then leave, without quite closing the door behind them. That is when truth may make its escape."
-- Jacqueline Winspear,
Maisie Dobbs, p. 53

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CSN Furniture Review: Winsome Espresso Wide 2 Shelf Storage Shelf

Winsome Espresso Wide 2 Shelf Storage ShelfBack in August of 2009, I received a Winsome Espresso Wide 2 Shelf Storage Shelf to review from CSN Furniture. Unfortunately, the bookshelf's arrival coincided with moving, and in all the post-move chaos and ensuing blog hiatus, I never got around to posting my review here.

This offers me a unique opportunity, however, because I have now owned this piece for almost a year and a half, and I can say that this little bookshelf has truly stood the test of time.

CSN shipped the bookshelf quickly, and I was very impressed with how well it was packed. Upon opening the box, I discovered that the pieces were separated from one another by light padding that kept the wood pieces from rubbing together and possibly damaging one another in transit.

The instructions for assembly were straight-forward and easy to understand. I liked the fact that I only needed an Allen wrench to put this shelf together; this made assembly quick and easy. The entire shelf was put together in less than 45 minutes. The wooden caps to hide the screws were a very nice touch.

In the picture above you can see the finished shelf housing my collection of Doctor Who books. The top shelf is spacious enough to hold my lamp, alarm clock, Kindle, and a few decorative items with plenty of room to spare. The two lower shelves are deep and well-made. There are no signs of bowing with the middle shelf (a problem I've experienced with other brands of bookcases) despite the fact that it is housing over 20 hardcover books and roughly a dozen paperback books. The bottom shelf is tall enough that I can fit several large format hardcovers without needing to turn the books on their sides. This shelf offers many storage possibilities and would look great with some wicker baskets.

I absolutely love the Espresso color. I was concerned that the bookcase might be too dark (I didn't want something that looked black) but the color is accurate to the manufacturer's photographs -- a perfect, rich dark brown.

One of the things I worry about most with any piece of wood furniture is how it stands up to daily use. This bookcase looks as good as it did the day I assembled it, with no scratches or chips. My cats have jumped up on it more than once and there has been no damage from their claws. The finish is easy to clean with a Swiffer Duster or damp cloth.

The Winsome Espresso Wide 2 Shelf Storage Shelf is a great piece of furniture at a great price. Between the quality of the product and the excellent service I received from CSN Furniture, I will definitely be purchasing more items from them in the future.

Wordless Wednesday: Bliss

Bliss, Beagle Style

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Release: Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes) by Andrew Lane

Death Cloud by Andrew LaneIt is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.


Death Cloud is the first installment in Andrew Lane's Young Sherlock Holmes series. This book has been on my radar for almost two years now. I am looking forward to picking up my copy later today or tomorrow, weather permitting. You can view the trailer for Death Cloud below.