July Books

Goodreads

Goodreads

On the cover of the book and in book reviews that I have read about this novel, it is compared to Gone Girl, the Gillian Flynn book that was made into a movie of the same name.  I cannot figure that comparison out.  The books are hardly similar!  I can think of only one common denominator in Reconstructing Amelia and Gone Girl.  The story “stars” a female…ok…and also the fact that you aren’t sure who the culprit in the story is. Other than that, they are not all that similar.

Kate Baron is a lawyer and a single mother.  Her daughter Amelia, who is 15 years old, goes to a private school in Brooklyn. She is an excellent student; her teachers would all say she has great potential…intelligent, involved in sports, in all sorts of extracurricular activities, volunteers….in short, the perfect student.

One day Kate gets a call while in an important meeting…a call she takes because she is expecting to hear from someone.  The call happens to be from the dean of students at her daughter’s school. Kate is told that Amelia has been suspended for some reason and that she needs to pick her up as soon as possible. When she finally gets to Grace Hall she finds out that not only was Amelia suspended for cheating…Amelia was dead!  She fell from the school’s roof.  The death is ruled a suicide by the police and as time goes on Kate tries to deal with and come to grips with this horrible tragedy.

“Four weeks, two days, and sixteen hours” after Amelia fell to her death, Kate goes back to work for the first time. A bit later in the day she receives a text saying “Amelia didn’t jump.” Kate must find out if this is true and begins by looking through Amelia’s e-mails, texts, and Facebook posts hoping to find anything that would point to anyone who would want to do her harm.

Each chapter begins with several parts….a blog that students at Amelia’s school read called “gRaCeFULLY”, Amelia’s texts…usually with her friend Ben, who she actually never met in person…or with friends from school, and her Facebook posts.  Then there is “Amelia” written from her point of view followed by “Kate” written in third person.

I know the blog, texts and Facebook posts are supposed to give the reader insight into Amelia’s life and where she was “coming from” in her last days, but I thought them tedious and found myself racing through them to get to Amelia’s telling of the days and events leading to her death in her own words.

Reconstructing Amelia was an interestingly different sort of story and while there were times in the book I thought the mother was reacting to people like she was an unruly child…people that were helping her learn the truth… and other times I wanted to scream at Amelia to just tell the truth(!), I WOULD recommend it to readers. While not a page-turner, it was entertaining enough and I did want to finish it to learn the details of Amelia’s demise.

Goodreads

Goodreads

American Assassin is the first book in author Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series.  I mentioned before that I love reading books that are in a series.  After reading book #1 I will definitely keep reading the other books.

The CIA, Islamic terrorism, the Pan Am Lockerbie attack, assassins, and retribution all come together in this story to make it one I found very exciting!    Sometimes an author’s style can be such that you have to reread parts to understand what was meant by certain phrases,  or the storyline is difficult to keep up with. Flynn’s writing style made for easy reading.  However, the editor was slack in his or her duties. After reading through some proofreading errors I actually started counting them and there were twelve blatant ones after the four or five I found before.  For example, using words twice such as “Stansfield sat back and crossed his left left over his right.” …or using the incorrect character’s name in certain scenes.  While this did not take away from the story, I found it curious.  Maybe in his next books the editor paid more attention.

Unfortunately, Vince Flynn died in 2013 at the age of 47 from prostate cancer. He was from Minnesota as is my favorite author John Sandford (born in Iowa). Good things come from the Midwest…I was born and raised there, as a matter of fact.

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June Books

Goodreads

Goodreads

This book got my attention because I love true crime stories and this one took place in Florida where I live. The story is about a murder in the Everglades in the 1980’s supposedly committed by a police officer. The book is written by the attorney for the defendant so much of the book covers the trial.

While the writing kept me interested enough to finish the book, I didn’t find this one so riveting that I couldn’t put it down.   However, I did appreciate his humor when he was telling the reader what he was thinking at times during the trial.  I found the author very likeable and…heaven forbid!…the defendant as well.

Both Mr. Contini and the man on trial, Officer Gil Fernandez, Jr. became devout Christians during the events that occurred and I found the mention of their faith to be touching and added a lot to the story.

I would like to have known if the accused murderer actually did the awful deed.  That is never spelled out to the reader, probably Mr. Contini never found out for sure either. If I had to guess…I’d say he was innocent of the crime. Unless you remember the news covering this trial at the time and know the outcome, you will have to read the book to see what the jury thought.

Goodreads

Goodreads

I had never heard of this author before I read the book.  I was attracted to the picture, the colors and the whole feel of the cover….yes, I sometimes judge a book by its cover…and this one appeared to hold promise…and it came through!

Michael Garrick is a White House lawyer.  He is dating the President’s daughter Nora.  When on a date together they see something that was not for their eyes to see.  From that moment on Michael’s life is not the same.  He’s caught up in a web of deceit and murder and has to extricate himself from it, not knowing who he can trust.

I was hooked from the start. There were parts of the book that I was tempted to skip…the First Daughter was not too likeable and I got tired of reading about her, but on the whole, it was a fast-paced and exciting read!

I have already found two other books that Brad Meltzer has written and I intend to get to those soon.  I try to mix different genres in my reading routine. I am reading a nonfiction book now that seems to have a murder in it but it’s a totally different type of writing.  I will report on that one sometime soon.

I am still reading the classic I mentioned in May. It is definitely not a quick-read.

May Books


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Goodreads

I have this thing for reading books that are in a series.  I enjoy never having to say goodbye to a character that I have come to know and like through reading about their exploits.  You get to know everything about them and like a friend you want to be with a lot, you want to read the next book so you can find out what they are up to next.

In the Bleak Midwinter is no exception.  The town is Millers Kill, New York.   A baby is left at the Episcopal church which has just gotten a new priest…Claire Fergusson, a woman who also happens to be an ex-Army pilot.  The abandoned baby brings her in contact with Millers Kill’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, also ex-Army.  The two team up to find the baby’s parents.  This soon leads to the discovery of a violent crime that they end up putting their heads together to solve.

I couldn’t help liking both of the main characters.  They worked well together and the relationship could prove to be interesting….I definitely  intend to read the next book in the series.

This was the author’s first novel and it won several book awards in 2003: the Anthony Award, the Agatha Award, the Dilys Award, the Macavity Award and the Barry Award. 

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Goodreads

I also read A Simple Plan. This book was not a simple story at all.  I found myself being surprised at the main character, Hank, throughout the book. Just when I thought I had him figured out and what he’d do next, he completely surprised me!

Hank and two others, his brother Jacob and Jacob’s friend Lloyd, find a wrecked plane in a snowy field with a dead pilot and a bag filled with over four million dollars. What ensues after this discovery kept me totally engrossed in the story.  I would definitely recommend anyone who gets into odd twists in their books’ plots to read this one.  

It was made into a movie in the late 90’s. I did see it years ago but I didn’t remember enough of it that it ruined the book for me.

I started several other books last month but either the author’s writing style or my mood kept me from continuing to the end.

I am reading two books right now….one a classic and another that is a true crime story.  I hope to tell you about them soon.

Those Duggers!

A Pair of Hare by Sergei Scurfield, on Flickr

Yesterday I read about Josh Dugger, from that prolific family of the same name, and how he admitted he molested children…even his own sisters I think the article said…when he was a wee teen.  It doesn’t say how old he is and I could research that but I am just wanting to write this while I have the fervor and will allow you, the reader, to find out his age if you so wish.

He is a married man with children now and I am sure many more are on their way.  He was executive director of the Family Research Council’s organizing arm and has since resigned.

The reason for my fervor is because of another item I read this morning regarding GOP candidate for president Mike Huckabee.  He is defending Josh because he has confessed and feels the proper remorse and “good people sometimes do bad things” and his wonderful always-bringing-more-humans-in-the-world family have forgiven him and blah-blah-blah.

OK..nothing is unforgivable. I grew up in a Baptist Church going family that believes that and I still believe that.  As long as that person is truly repentant,.  But I KNOW if a gay person and NOT a Dugger had done the molesting, Huckabee would be up in arms saying how that is why “they” are so dangerous!  But it’s ok..Josh’s parents are that perfect couple that churns out all those perfect kids..AND they’re heterosexual…maybe. It all makes me sick!

There… I feel better.

May Day! May Day! May Day!

Crowned Queen of the May by Boston Public Library, on Flickr

Here it is the first of May!  I suppose May 1st makes most people think of May baskets full of candy, cookies, and maybe some frilly trinkets from Grandma.  Others will think of the May flowers that the April showers brought and what they are going to plant in their Spring gardens.

And still others will think of the May pole with young maidens dancing around the tall, erect pole (that we all know symbolizes a man’s body part…everyone’s favorite part…) in the oh-so-pagan fertility ritual. You know the scene in Camelot where Guenivere and her handmaidens and their male escorts are frolicking in the meadow…..

The first day of May might make a handful of people think of the international distress signal, “Mayday!”.  I am one of the handful.  I think of the old movies where the pilot of a ship or airplane signals for help because of some disaster that has occurred.  It is supposed to be repeated three times to distinguish from someone just talking about May Day in their conversation and ONLY used in event of life-threatening distress.

The origin of this distress signal according to todayifoundout.com is that in 1923 an English radio officer was asked to think up a word to be used over the radio, much like the SOS code broadcast via Morse code.  The word needed to be one  that wasn’t  often used in regular conversations so that it would be quickly understood by those listening on land that an emergency was occurring.   This officer’s  name was Frederick Stanley Mockford.

Mockford dealt with a lot of radio traffic between England and France.  This made him think of the French word “m’aider”….translated in English as “help me”.  In 1927 it was official.  “Mayday” became the international call for help in matters that involve life and death. The rest is history!

After my first distressful thought of May Day, I usually go down more agreeable avenues of thought…..the blooming flowers and trees I enjoy everyday this time of year…candy……that pole that maidens dance around…..and other pleasantries.

Sorry, Superman!

Telephone Demise by ImageMD, on Flickr

When is the last time you used a public phone, that is, a phone in a phone booth? More to the point…when is the last time you SAW a phone booth? They have become scarce, if not close to extinct! There IS one a few feet from where I work, but, alas, it lacks a phone!

Is there anyone out there besides me that misses them, that thinks maybe there should be at least one to find for those times that you don’t have your cell phone with you for whatever reason or, heaven forbid, you actually do not own a cell phone? This lack of available public phones is one of the things that I find disconcerting about the new day and age of technology.

Ok. Everyone has at least one device…a smartphone, a tablet or Ipad or your tried-and-true PC. You probably use one or all of them to get the news, which brings the possible demise of yet another of our traditional institutions, the newspaper or magazine. I personally prefer the paper form to get updated on current events. There’s just something about turning the pages that is more satisfying than scrolling and you can ignore the ads much easier too. They don’t just pop up over what you’re reading making it necessary to perform an action to make it disappear.

I also prefer a book in my hands rather than an e-reader…those devices that threaten to replace the good old hardcover or paperback. Imagine lying on your back in a hammock in the shade with a great book, turning the pages as you read, and then imagine, again in a hammock reading, but you’re holding an electronic device in both hands instead…your Kindle or Nook. It just isn’t the same!

I guess I’m old-fashioned and there’s nothing wrong with that. I am computer literate so I can read what I want on my devices. But I don’t want all the newspapers, magazines, and books to disappear, and along with them bookstores, newspaper stands or my favorite places in the whole world…libraries!

All I’m saying is that I don’t think the baby should be thrown out with the bath water. Just because some things are old school and newer and improved replacements are available doesn’t mean that there are no uses for those old school things we take for granted from the not that distant past. I think some “relics” should be left alone for the old geezers.

Here’s a question. Where is Superman supposed to change his clothes?

Common Knowledge

Elvis Presley show 03 by Luiz Fernando Reis, on Flickr

Common knowledge is information that is widely known, whether it be facts (e.g., George Washington was America’s first president; H2O is the chemical formula for water) or historical events (e.g., the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; Barack Obama’s election as 44th President of the US on November 4, 2008) or famous people (e.g., Leonardo Da Vinci, Lucille Ball, The Beatles). These facts, events and people can be from the long ago past, recent past or the present.

Some things we just know because we have heard about them our entire lives from listening to our parents talk about them or learning about them in school; listening to the radio, watching TV, or reading books, magazines or newspapers. And now there’s the internet that nearly all humans get on by whatever device is handy and most of us have multiple ones. In other words, we are literally bombarded by information….coming at us from everywhere, and a lot of the time we don’t even realize our brains are taking it all in and storing it away for some future remembrance. Maybe we are asked a question and the information we didn’t even know we had comes out of storage and we are able to give the correct answer. We’ve all played Trivial Pursuit, right?

Well, the reason I even brought this up is because of an incident last week at my place of employment. A girl I would say was about 12 years old came in with her mother and the girl saw an Elvis figurine I have on my desk. She asked who it was. I thought maybe she was unable to see it clearly so I moved it closer to her and I said it was Elvis. “Who?!”, she asked. I looked at her and didn’t say anything for a few seconds and repeated, “Elvis”. She gave me this blank gaze like nothing was working in her head. Her Mom said to her, “Didn’t Grandma tell you about Elvis?” Grandma?! For one thing, being her mother, I would say she was responsible for teaching her things like that. And where has this girl been the last 12 years? in a cave? Elvis is part of the fabric of American music! She probably never heard of the Beatles either! That would be like me not knowing who Marilyn Monroe is because she was a star before my time!

Thomas Edison and Jonas Salk are remembered for their contributions that made lives easier and safer…(Surely this girl knows who they are!!!!) While Elvis and Marilyn made less life-changing contributions to our culture they still merit their place in history’s pages. They are woven in the fabric of Americana and no matter what your age and no matter if you enjoy their music or movies now or not, everyone should still be aware of them and who they were. Shame on parents and teachers nowadays if they fail to make sure their children or students know our country’s past.