AN INTERIOR JOURNEY

Through Reading, Blogging, & Writing


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LIBRARY LOOT

I just barely got this one in for the week…but I wasn’t expecting to check out any books.

But I had to return my last loot, and in the process, found this book I’ve been hoping to read.

Hosted by Eva, this week, at  The Striped Armchair, we get to share the treasures we discovered in the great public library.

This week, I found The Cheater, by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg.

I’ve read several books by this author, so naturally, I’m looking forward to this one.

Here’s a snippet I found on the Amazon page:

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg has constantly been praised for her intense, dramatic suspense, breathing real life and trouble into her action-packed thrillers. Her fourteen years in law enforcement have always given her novels great authenticity, often pulling inspiration from the very cases she has worked. Now comes The Cheater.
Returning to her most beloved character, Lily Forrester, from the New York Times bestsellers Mitigating Circumstances and Buried Evidence, Rosenberg proves once again that she is a master of the suspense thriller, as Forrester finds herself in yet another mix of bizarre circumstances that lead her onto the trail of a vicious criminal mind. Along the way we meet:
FBI Agent Mary Stevens—She is tracking a killer who murders husbands who are cheating on their wives, their mutilated bodies disposed of in ghastly ways and strange locations.
Bryce Forrester—Lily’s husband—calls her from a Las Vegas jail where he’s been arrested for attempted rape…even though Las Vegas was not on his itinerary.
Anne Bradley—Bryce’s accuser, like Lily, is a woman with an eerie past…an enigmatic figure to whom Lily is strangely drawn.
The trail leads back to a Web service that provides alibis for cheating spouses and into a thick web of deception that puts both Lily’s and Mary’s lives in jeopardy. Do you know where your husband is?
What loot did you score this week?


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LIBRARY LOOT

In this weekly meme, alternately hosted by Marg and Eva, we get to share our ecstasy over our library books.

Libraries have been a special place for me since I got my first library card at eight years of age.  That library shared one-half of a building with the old Post Office in the little country village near my childhood home.

Over the years, I remember so many of those libraries.  There was the one in a west Fresno County town, out in the middle of nowhere, that stood like a beacon of civility in an otherwise arid land…both physically and culturally.  That particular library was actually very nice, which surprised and delighted me.  It was even open on Sundays!

Nowadays, I live near a wonderful library, built in recent years.  I had gotten out of the library habit, though, having purchased so many books over the past few years that I now have TOWERS of unread books, otherwise known as my TBR Stacks.  But after discovering this wonderful meme, I have returned to my roots!

Here’s what I found today:

Magnolia Wednesday, by Wendy Wax, was a book I requested, which got me to the library.  By the author of An Accidental Bestseller, this book tells the story of a woman, fighting to make it in investigative journalism, who is side-lined by a bullet won during an expose…and then forced to take what she considers a horrible job for a suburban paper in her hometown in Georgia…

Then I discovered two more books:

The Greenlanders, by Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize winning author, who has created a saga about a sprawling, multi-generational, heroic Norse family…

and The Sweetest Dream, by Doris Lessing, the author of The Golden Notebook, et. al., tells about a family in the sixties…set against the backdrop of the decade that changed the world forever…a riveting look at a group of people who dared to dream—and faced the inevitable cleanup afterward—from one of the greatest writers of our time.

What treasures have you plumbed from the depths of a library near you?  Hope to see your comments and links!  Happy reading.


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DESTINY TAKES A U-TURN — A Review of “Big Stone Gap”

It’s the seventies in a sleepy hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A thirty-five year old single woman has decided that she is the spinster of Big Stone Gap. She is completely independent; she is the local pharmacist, the co-captain of the Rescue Squad, and the director of the town’s long-running Outdoor Drama.

So secure is Ave Maria Mulligan in her position in life and in this community that she will go into a tailspin when things seem to change. These changes begin with a long-buried secret of her mother’s, unearthed by her lawyer.

What will Ave Maria do when her world seems to tilt and everything she thought was true suddenly isn’t?

This is a charming, quirky tale that brings the characters to life in such a homey, cozy way that the reader almost doesn’t realize it until, suddenly, the characters seem like old friends and neighbors.

We watch and cheer as Ave Maria suddenly realizes that maybe the life she had planned for herself is not her destiny after all.

My first plunge into this author’s works had me rooting for more. I will simply have to go out and buy or borrow another of her creations.

Big Stone Gap: A Novel (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) earns five stars from me!


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A MOTHER’S WORST NIGHTMARE — A Review of “Little Face”

In a nightmarish scenario, new mother Alice Fancourt goes out after her daughter’s birth, leaving her two-week-old infant with her husband, David. Returning two hours later, she swears that the baby in the crib is not her child. Despite how terrified and hysterical she is, her husband insists that she is wrong.

Thus begins a convoluted and complicated investigation, with two police detectives, Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer, finding themselves at odds with one another over what is true and what is not; as they travel their separate paths, following leads, Alice drops hints and clues along the way, leading them into still another case a few years before—the murder of David’s first wife, Laura, which resulted in David and his mother Vivienne having sole custody of David and Laura’s son Felix.

Is there a connection between what happened to Laura and what has now happened to baby Florence? Who is the dark force behind these events, and what can Alice do to convince everyone that her child is missing?

Little Face, by Sophie Hannah, is an exciting, thrilling, psychological suspense novel that compels the reader to keep rapidly turning pages until the questions are answered. Surprising twists and turns along the way had me shaking my head at each point. But what will we finally learn about each of these characters, and what motivations are driving them?

If I could, I would give this book 5+ stars. I am not likely to ever forget this tale.


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LIBRARY LOOT

Hosted by Eva and Marg, this weekly meme showcases all of those books that we find in the library.

Having recently resumed scoring my books there (although I’m still working on my TBR stacks, the occasional review book, and the occasional book I buy!), I’m happy to spotlight these library discoveries.

I went to the library yesterday because I book I had requested online was in.  Of course, whenever I go to pick up a requested item, I end up leaving with a couple more.

Trying to be realistic as to how many I can read in a week, in addition to my other reading commitments, I usually end up with three.  Which was the case yesterday.

The book I’d requested was Godmother:  The Secret Cinderella Story, by Carolyn Turgeon.  I’d seen this one on the Blogosphere, and immediately added it to my list.

Here’s a snippet from Amazon:

This retelling of Cinderella follows the oft ignored character of the fairy godmother, who may or may not be a mentally ill New Yorker. Lil, as this godmother is known, is now living in New York City, broke and employed at a bookstore, years after being exiled from the kingdom of fairies for betraying her charge…

Now doesn’t that pique your interest?  I know it piqued mine.

Next, I found a couple of books from the author Adriana Trigiani…I’ve been noticing her name for ages.  So I picked up two of her books:  Big Stone Gap and The Queen of the Big Time.

On the back cover of Big Stone Gap, we read:

Big Stone Gap is a Southern novel that has the ring of truth, by which I mean its characters are bizarre, its story is hilarious, and it hooked me on page one—John Berendt.

For The Queen of the Big Time, we read this Amazon blurb:

Set in early 20th-century smalltown America, Trigiani’s fifth novel (after the Big Stone Gap trilogy and Lucia, Lucia) tells a heartfelt but clumsy story of strong women enduring the rigors of farm life and the trials of romantic and familial relations. At its worst, the novel is a morass of incomplete story lines, underdeveloped characters and inconsistent tenses. Still, readers who’ve fallen for Trigiani’s hallmark personages—Italian immigrants living the American dream in rural Pennsylvania—in previous books will delight in meeting these new ones…

Well, that one doesn’t sound too good, but I’m betting I might enjoy it anyway!

Hope you’ll stop by and comment, leaving your own links.


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HOMESPUN HUMOR AND POIGNANT MOMENTS — A Review of “Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven”

In a small Missouri town, populated by the quirkiest characters you’re ever likely to meet, Flagg opens Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven: A Novel (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) with a freak accident involving an eighty-something woman named Elner Shimfissel, who climbs a ladder to retrieve some figs, and ends up on the ground, out cold, while neighbors and townsfolk scurry around to help.

From the hospital, Mrs. Shimfissel then begins an incredible “journey” that takes her (and the townsfolk) on a series of adventures that fill the colorful pages with all the historic moments between Mrs. Shimfissel and each member of the community.

Hilarious, folksy, homespun—all these adjectives can barely begin to describe this wonderful story, and for fear of spoiling it for the rest of you, I must not say more.

Except that Flagg has a way of bringing the reader right into the midst of the community; we feel like we could be one of the neighbors or townsfolk; and we find ourselves caring tremendously about their fate. And in the end, we haven’t simply closed a book, but we’ve just taken a journey out of the town “for a spell.”

I’ve read other Flagg books, but it’s been awhile…I won’t wait so long for the next one.


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A HEART AND HOME IN DISREPAIR — A Review of “Home Repair”

It was just supposed to be an ordinary day, beginning with a garage sale. But for Eve, nothing about the day unfolds the way it’s supposed to do. For one thing, the potential buyers start showing up at 6 a.m., her husband Chuck won’t get out of bed to help out, and then, when he finally does get up, he goes out to run an errand—and doesn’t come back.

Thus begins the tale of one woman’s series of disappointing events—from ordinary daily life to the traumas of a house and heart in disrepair, Eve must learn to negotiate the tasks, handle friendships with eccentric new people in her life, and deal with her own aging mother’s decline.

Somehow Rosenberg is able to present these life moments in such a charming and poignant way, with humor and wisdom, that we begin to expect the unexpected, much the same way that life deals out these moments; and in the end, we discover that, since life is short enough, we might as well enjoy the happiness when it comes to us.

Thoroughly engaging and impossible to put down, Home Repair is a memorable foray into the pitfalls of ordinary life.


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CRIME AND POLITICS — A Review of “At Risk”

When a Massachusetts state investigator is called home from a training academy in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is completing a course in forensics, he has to wonder about the timing. But his district attorney boss, Monique Lamont, an attractive, hard-charging woman, has ambitions to become the next governor. And her new crime initiative “At Risk,” with its motto “Any crime, any time” seems more politically motivated than anything else. She insists, however, that she’s been looking for a way to utilize some cutting-edge DNA technology, and by resurrecting an old unsolved Tennessee crime, with the help of investigator Win Garano “Geronimo,” she plans to achieve just that.

But as Garano attempts to delve into the case, he is puzzled by a number of aspects. His assistant is digging through cardboard boxes in the basement of the deceased former detective, with mysterious elements showing up in assorted places. Nothing seems to fit. Meanwhile, back in Cambridge, a violent attack on Monique Lamont ratchets up the mystery another notch. More and more suspense builds as it soon becomes apparent that much more is going on, and finding out who is doing what to whom and why…well, that will be the final question to be answered.

At Risk (Win Garano) was my first Cornwell novel, and I’d have to say that I enjoyed the quick read and the somewhat confusing aspects that became clearer toward the end.

Perhaps everything tidied up a bit much for my taste, but it was definitely a fun read. I would give it four stars; perhaps 4.5.


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PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES — A Review of “Skylight Confessions”

The story begins with an introduction to the character Arlyn Singer, who at age seventeen has just lost her father. And as she stands on the porch after the funeral, gazing outward, she vows that the next person walking by will be “the one.”

Then a stranger stops by, asking for directions, and they are drawn together. Even when circumstances appear to step in and interrupt what has begun, Arlyn persists. She follows John Moody, the architecture student, to his university and waits. Then she goes to his family home, The Glass Slipper, meets his parents, and makes their destiny happen.

Years later, they are living in The Glass Slipper with their unusual son Sam. And they are miserable. But they persist (or at least Arlyn does) in the belief that they are living out their destiny.

Each individual’s destiny unfolds, including that of Sam, the brilliant explosive artist. Then comes little sister Blanca, the bookish “good” girl. Her destiny is to keep Sam out of trouble.

When a tragic twist of fate takes them all off the course they had envisioned for themselves, their lives seem to spin off, flying into some other self-destructive pathway.

Watching the devastation as it shimmers and spins, like a legacy of broken pieces or a mysterious puzzle—it is like watching some kind of train wreck.

Much later, we see evidence of ghostlike visitors who leave behind broken glass, soot, and feathers.

Hoffman weaves this family tale in and out through the generations, until finally we reach a kind of resolution.

I was completely swept away by the plight of the characters—almost obsessed. And through it all, the imagery (glass house, broken glass, birds flapping) formed a haunting backdrop for lives gone awry.

If I could, I would give Skylight Confessions a 6 or 7 star review.


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LIBRARY LOOT

Hosted by Eva and Marg, Library Loot is an exciting meme that yields wondrous bounty.

My practice of going to the library for books has only recently resurrected itself…risky, I think, since I still have my huge TBR stacks.

But I’m enjoying the loot I find there.

Today, I found these books:

Little Face, by Sophie Hannah, sounds like a promising read.  Awhile back, I read The Wrong Mother by this same author.  Elinor Lipman’s The Pursuit of Alice Thrift grabbed my attention.

Home Repair, by Liz Rosenberg, is a book I’ve been seeing around the Blogosphere.

I’ll be back to review them after I finish reading them.

I’ll have to work them in between my TBR and mailbox books.

Alas!  So many books, so little time!

What a wonderful dilemma!

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