The Dead Key

Thoughts tdkbydmp by DM Pulley, Thomas & Mercer – Amazon Imprint 2015, 477 pages

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle Purchase
 Why I read this now: For my neighborhood book club

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A recent college grad’s first job as a structural engineer is to map the 15 floors of an abandoned bank building in downtown Cleveland. When the bank failed twenty years prior, the doors were locked and everything is still in the building – files, desks with lipstick-stained coffee cups, full ashtrays, and bank deposit boxes. Why did the bank fail? Why did they leave everything? Why is our protag (her name is Iris) finding keys and odd ‘clues’ that inspire her to ask questions like “Why did the bank fail?” and “Why hasn’t anybody claimed their stuff in the deposit boxes?”

The story switches between Iris in 1998 and two bank clerks (Maxine and Beatrice) from 1978 who also have questions about curious goings-on at the bank in the weeks up to the sudden shut down.

It is a fast-paced tale of intrigue and dirty deeds, the rich and the have-nots, powerful men and the women they underestimate.

WHAT’s GOOD: The 1978 story was much more interesting and follows Beatrice who is rather naive and her new best friend ‘Max’ who may be too smart for her own good. Beatrice has secrets of her own — some she herself doesn’t even know but she gets to find out.

What’s NOT so good: Quite a bit, sadly. Iris is complicated but not interesting nor likable – she is supposedly valedictorian of her college engineering class but she has zero ambition and sloppy habits. She is not impressive; claims she wants to make a good impression at work but is constantly late and hungover. She didn’t fit her own story. The minor characters get lost or disregarded along the way. What really was Nick after? Ramone didn’t quite make sense. Max was cool and Beatrice was a kid easy to cheer for – she eventually finds her spunk. But the bank stuff? — the bad guys were hard to differentiate from each other. I found it rather incredulous that so many years would go by and nothing was disturbed. (Spoiler? just highlight the following line:  How and when did they manage to seal up the dead guy when every other office felt like it was abandoned with no notice? Too odd.

The resolution left a lot of unanswered question or maybe only gave unsatisfactory answers. But whatever, by that time I was ready for it to be over. I did race to the ending as one often does with a mystery ; the pacing was OK.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Iris was a mess; she didn’t make sense and as one goodreads reviewer says, “she was a dolt.” I agree but I also wanted to cheer for the woman engineer!! Go women in STEM. The mystery was OK without picking it apart with a technical fine comb and the pre-bank-closing story line was not too bad.  The Bank Building was probably my favorite character. The idea of all those unclaimed bank deposit boxes and what could be hiding in them IS intriguing so I give credit to the author for running with that idea. I applaud her realized dream to write and see her story published. Cleveland, too, is central to the story so anyone who loves a book set in this Ohio town might get a kick out of it.

I actually think it could make a good film; mini-series, perhaps? Episode of Castle or Bones? (These are the only two shows I watch and infrequently at that.)

RATING: Two slices for “It’s OK.”

Pie Mention:  ~ 19% – “Random customers, mostly older men, were scattered around the room, sipping coffee and eating pie.”

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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The Red Shoes

Thoughts trsbydh The Red Shoes by Dorte Hummelshoj, 2012, publisher date, 33 pages

Challenge:  Read My Own Damn Books and What’s in a Name: CLOTHING
Genre: Mystery
Type/Source: eBook, Amazon
 Why I read this now: ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton Well so, I realized that I had forgotten about my Kindle and how many books lay hidden inside this device. I’m good – I have less than ten! Now I have only eight…

MOTIVATION for READING: Length. It was short!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is a story collection and let me share the warning:

HIGH RISK OF TOXIC HUMOUR AND SEVERED LIMBS!

I couldn’t resist.

WHAT’s GOOD: These are fun. and short. The character names were great. (Like Rhapsody Gershwin.)

What’s NOT so good: I’m not sure how suspenseful I would rate these but they definitely have dark humor.

FINAL THOUGHTS: My favorite was the Green Acres story that was set in a nursing home (and had an adorable dog as foil.)

RATING: Three slices of pie.

Vocabulary:  Grotty – unpleasant and of poor quality. (not in any way meant to describe these stories; only a word IN the stories that I did not know.)

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Thoughts ftmufbyekAtheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster) 2013 orig.1967, 172 pages

For the latest Classics Club Spin. I’m also counting this for the Kids Classic category of the Classics Challenge.

Loved it!

Claudia is a 6th grader who wants to run away so her family will miss her and thus appreciate her. She gets caught up in the planning – she is a very good planner. Smart, too. She ends up taking her little brother Jamie with her, and not just because he has plenty of cash to fund the adventure (though the money does prove helpful) but because he is just a good kid.

The adventure takes a turn when Claudia falls in love with the statue Angel which may or may not be a work of Michelangelo. She cannot return home until she KNOWS!

Fun book. Very quick to read. Four slices of pie. fourpie

“Jamie bought a cheese sandwich and coffee. After eating these he still felt hungry and told Claudia she could have twenty-five cents more for pie if she wished. Claudia, who had eaten cereal and drunk pineapple juice, scolded him about the need to eat properly. Breakfast food for breakfast, and lunch food for lunch.” [Phooey on that – I’m with Jamie. Pie for breakfast is CERTAINLY acceptable and appropriate.]

Another favorite quote from page 151:

“Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.”

Winner of the Newbery Medal.

TELL ME IF YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE!

Possible Spoiler; I have a question… I totally failed to find the link between the attorney and the kids – he was the kids’ grandfather!? I was a bit gobsmacked at the end with this minor plot point revelation. But I didn’t let it diminish my enjoyment.

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Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Death in the Garden

Thoughts dintgbyei by Elizabeth Ironside, Felony & Mayhem Press, 1995, 294 pages

FOR:  Neighborhood Book Club

FIRST Sentence: “Today at half-past two in the afternoon I was acquitted of the murder of my husband.”

What’s it ABOUT:  The story obviously begins with a trial and a murder and probable marital strife; we also get to experience the trauma of the world between and of the two world wars. Here’s what happens and how it is setup:  Diana is having a birthday and she invites a few of her favorite friends – mind you, these friends are not friends of the husband’s. Diana is a very interesting person and it is her husband who is murdered at that birthday party weekend. The year is 1925.

“Fanny herself had no money, no education and only erratic employment, most recently and implausibly in a bookshop. “How can that be?” Diana had once said to her husband. “She doesn’t know how to read.” George’s silence was his habitual response to Diana’s sharpness.”

THEN, we jump to the early 1990s and meet Diana’s great niece, Hannah, a single woman, and thus by default?* hard-working, rising-star attorney in London.

“…those (birthdays with) zeros. Not at 20 perhaps, but at 30 it begins, the casting of accounts, the recalling of doors not opened and roads not taken. Only in noise and distraction, companionship and conversation becoming progressively more sentimental, could it be avoided.”

Diana, referred to as “the Great Aunt”, dies in her 98th year. Hannah inherits the estate, or most of it –Diana has made a point to will lots and lots of money and goodies to all the females in the family. What? She was wealthy?! None of the family members are aware of her fortune and certainly not her past – the fact that she was acquitted of murder. To them, she was just a lovely old lady who tended her garden. It was crazy to think she was once a wild woman who experienced anything dramatic. They decide to find out what really happened.

Hannah has her own secrets…

“He, who had for weeks or days been the peaceful background hum of her existence, suddenly became the only sound in her universe.”

Just like Trish, I am not one to try and guess the whodunnits or even want to spot if any zany twists, forcing any unravelings of plot. I adored this story and how it unfolded! I was, as they say, on the edge of my seat and this was a wonderful way to temper my #SalemAlong reading of ‘Salem’s Lot.

“Edith, she works in order not to think. At home it would be impossible to spend a few days among such people without any discussion of ideas.”

It’s not just the turns, the reveal and the various character studies; it was the analysis of marriage and independence. Of feminism and how women had/have to assert themselves, or not. Of careers and ambition, the balance of power. There is a lot here to admire – in the thoughts expressed and how the author presents all of it in the story.

“For Pia, any weakness or shame, such as that George had inadvertently revealed, filled her with the desire to protect and shelter, to hide the exposed place. George had shown a crack to the base of his soul. He saw himself as a failure. He had married Diana to use her beauty and talent to shore up the gaping fissures in his personality and found that they could not be used.”

What’s GOOD/NOT so good? . . .  SKIP . . .

FINAL Thoughts: I think we will have a LOT to discuss at meeting and I am really hoping that this book charmed the others in club as much as I was charmed.

RATING: There were zero pie mentions (and no lobster ones, either, I’m afraid) but I still give this FIVE slices. Let’s go with MINCE MEAT PIE since Mincemeat Pie Day is October 26.

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Vocab

ha-ha – sunk fence

alpinism – climbing the Alps

soubrette – frivolous young woman in comedies

kedgeree – an Indian dish of seasoned rice, beans, lentils, and sometimes smoked fish

danegeld – an annual tax believe to have been imposed originally to buy off Danish invaders in England

Stakhanovite – a Soviet industrial worker awarded recognition and special privileges for output beyond production norms

charabanc – a sight-seeing motor coach

ukase – a proclamation by a Russian emperor or govt having the force of law, edict

*    default: how can a girl/woman of 30 yo not have a husband or significant other? might as well be good at your job since you have no one to take care of…  sheesh…

PLEASE SEEK OUT THIS BOOK AND TALK TO ME!

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Color: A Natural History of the Palette

Thoughts cbyvf Color by Victoria Finlay, Random House Trade 2004 (orig 2002), 448 pages

Satisfies the COLOR category of the What’s in a Name 8 Challenge.

“Up until then I had always believed that the world was getting better and better and more and more clever. But that day my tender theory about the Evolution of History fell on its head, and it has – for better or for worse – never been quite right ever since.”  p. 1

Wow – what a wild ride! This book is nuts.

I learned a lot and I marveled at what the author went through to gather stories to fit into this book. She wanted to find India Indigo so she went there. She wanted to find Tyrian Purple, so she went to Lebanon. She just had to see the blue Lapis Lazuli mines of Afghanistan, so off she went. Think about that last one…

She is fearless!

My only complaint might be that she really is all over the place at times and I wondered why she would mention that. (off on a tangent much?)  I had to go look up SO MANY THINGS. It is hard – she mentions this, too – it is very hard to describe colors with words.

This is a 4 slice of pie book. fourpie If you like travel books and author-involved nonfiction adventures, I recommend. If you are an artist and are curious about how artists got their colors, you must read this book.

I still have my receipt from purchasing this in 2010. Why? What prompted this book then? I have no records except the date. HOWEVER, in looking for other reviews out there in blogland, I found that Eva of A Striped Armchair was extremely enthusiastic about this book, so that is a clue. And since I seem to be on a linky-love binge, I should include Fyrefly’s discussion of another Finlay book that am now wanting to read next/soon/someday.

Colors are fascinating; this book makes me crave the colors of the entire world and makes me wonder what others really are looking at – do we see the same thing? Is the blue I see the blue you see? What color of purple do you think Cleopatra dyed her sails? And how exactly did she do it? So many mysteries.

Tyndall’s explanation of why the sky is blue is one of the best ever. Page 305.

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Lots of Copley Connections for me, too.  Of course, she mentions Simon Garfield’s Mauve which I read in 2009. Or the mention of the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne being known for its beer exports. (I read all about that in Hops & Glory.) And then on page 384, Finlay describes a cave with a ‘millenia of snail trails’; surely those of you who read All the Light We Cannot See, recognize Marie-Laure and her hiding place?

Do you have any nonfiction books about colors to recommend? Just one more of my favorite things to learn more about, I guess. AND, I will send this book to anyone who comments and says they want it. If more than one person wants it, I will select somebody at random. Must comment before Valentines Day.

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* Copley Connections are the random connections and coincidences that link books that I have read.

 

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Mr. Mercedes

Thoughts

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Gotta get this written before Ti (BookChatter) writes her review!!!!!

RATING: Four slices of pie. MEAT PIE. (See Chapter 28: Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza PIE.)

There is something about Stephen King books on audio that make me want to do absolutely nothing but listen and get to the end.

What is great about listening to a Stephen King book is that I can actually drive and vacuum and mow the lawn while listening.

This was 14.3 hours of good-cop-chases-bad-guy.

Oh, but that is TOO simple, right? The good cop isn’t really a cop; he’s retired. And old and fat and feeling worthless.

Of course, the bad guy is smart and psychotic and FITs THE FREAKIN’ PROFILE!!!  Which of course means we don’t consider him at all, until…

Until we do.

I kept looking for the “REPEATED PHRASE’ but I didn’t come up with it.

I did LOVE the song lyrics. Reminded me of The Stand.  (which at the moment are not available when you search Google! that should change soon.)

I wanted to shout about this to someone/anyone while reading but powered through and now I don’t recall what it was and would likely spoil the story if I did.

I considered creating a SPOILER page here but didn’t get to it. Oh well.  Shall I anyway and you all can add the WTF moments and we can chat??

NOT a SPOILER:   No freaky fantasy non-world not-real things in this one. Basic crime fighting. Although, I did jump when the words ‘psychic vibe’ came up but it was a quick tease only.

I tweeted a few phrases at Ti while reading…  “Slide the Schlage into the slot” and “His greatest fear is that nothing will change.”

I loved the characters. I enjoyed Will Patton’s narration. IT still remains tops in my heart.

How’s that? Did I spoil it?

It’s a King book. You already know if you will read it or not. The only real question is WHEN?

Published by Simon & Schuster Audio in 2014, first of a trilogy or three books with same characters, 14 hours and 22 minutes
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We Were Liars

Thoughts wwlbyel We Were Liars by e.Lockhart, Listening Library 2014, 6 hr 24 min Audio

Narrator:  Ariadne Meyers

 

DEFINITION:  “To fall flat” – To fail in the intended effect.

This fell flat for me. I’m tempted to give it only two slices of pie.

I was intrigued by a tweet:

Book Review – We Were Liars by | Outstanding book – read it before someone spoils the amazing ending!

And I suppose I could blame Jill who wrote a spoiler free review which you must read if you ARE curious: Rhapsody in Books

What we have here is a conundrum. Advice is to read it NOW before someone spoils it. BUT you should know that that is the intention of the marketing team – to build it up with BIG TWIST!  Don’t TELL ANYONE!!  hype hype hype – which I was trying to avoid. Unfortunately, I was too late – I became aware that this was the intent of the marketing and I must have gotten suspicious.Perhaps if I had immediately read the book after Michelle said to do so because that was the first time I was warned; not aware of the propaganda of the warning. I couldn’t help but see this title start popping up everywhere, ugh. I should have waited a few years or skipped it altogether.

On the other hand, if this does appeal to you, the audio seems to be a good way to experience it. I thought the narrator did a fine job (except do not expect a Massachusetts accent!!) and there are some goodreads reviews that state the written presentation/style was annoying – this can be avoided by listening. I think. Maybe.

I just didn’t feel a thing. At the time of the big twist/shock/reveal, I was just relieved that the book would soon be over. No, I didn’t see it coming. But I did go looking for reviews at the half way mark (kiss of death for me when I do this, I can’t help it! when a book is starting to annoy me, I go see what others thought — to see if I should keep reading…)

And so I found Nymeth’s THOUGHTFUL issue exploration: Things Mean a Lot(I didn’t read the spoiler part — but I read the comments.  Ooops.) Nymeth always brings such calm insightful intelligent considerations to her reviews and sadly, that is what makes me most sad about the story – that I missed the bigger truth that Nymeth caught: “a story of political awakening gone horribly wrong…

Truly!! Many MANY bloggers I admire and respect thought this an AMAZING stunner of a book!!  GO decide for yourself and than cry with me that I failed with it…

Somebody please tell me that I will like The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks better?

 

 

* New Englanders don’t say AUNT the way I did when I grew up:  like the insect ANT. They say it to rhyme with FONT and now after living here 10 years, I do, too! Every time I heard the narrator say “the Aunties”, I was distracted. “This is supposed to be set in Massachusetts…”

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Sign of Four

Thoughts tsofbysacd The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, BBC Digital 2012 (orig. 1890) 224 pages, eBook/Kindle

Classics Challenge | A Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

What’s it ABOUT: Missing treasure!

What did I NOT know before reading this? That our boy Sherlock is a drug addict? Huh.

What DID I know before reading this? That Robert Downey, Jr. plays Sherlock in the (very enjoyable) movies. Did the movies not explore the cocaine use or did I just miss that?

Sadly, for some reason, I didn’t envision RDJ when I was reading the Sherlock parts but I did see Jude Law as Watson.

I have never watched the BBC versions with the guys you see on the cover above.

I have recently seen pieces of The Hobbit starring Martin Freeman.

Because it was on HBO the other day.

I have only ever watched the other guy in one of the Star Trek movies.

I think he’s rather creepy looking.

I may never read another Sherlock Holmes book; it was only OK. I don’t think I am much of a mystery-thriller genre reader.

I thought this ended very abruptly.

I did love the chase scene with the dog.

RATING: Three slices of pie.

This concludes my attempt at a review.

Any questions?
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Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Playing Dead

Thoughts plbyjh Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin, AudioGO 2012, 10.4 Hours

Narrator:  Madeleine Lambert

January BOOKIES Book Club Selection

What it’s ABOUT:  This is a mystery/thriller about a woman who is a child psychologist and former rodeo competitor who discovers she may not be who she thought. With her father recently deceased and her mother in a nursing home suffering Alsheimers, she has no one to ask. Trouble seems to find her and she races through clues and abductions to solve the mystery.

I liked it well enough. Listening to a mystery is not a good idea for me. When I think I’ve missed something a few minutes/pages prior, I don’t have a good way to go find it and work out my confusions. Plot pace was good, characters interesting enough, odd clues finally tied up at the end.

QUESTION:  When you read a book and want to flip back to reread something, are you the kind of person who has a general idea or visual memory of which part of the book and which part of the page to look?  I am. I can usually find what I’m looking for in a physical book but am horrible at it with eBooks and Audiobooks. We had this discussion at “pre-” book club the other day…

Narration was sufficient. POV was from the main character, a girl named Tommie. She had a gentle Texas drawl; I couldn’t tell you if authentic. However, the voices for her young niece and her supposedly hot boyfriend were not good at all. The niece sounded like a goofy three year old rather than a middle schooler and the boyf sounded like a dullard.

Three slices of pie.

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Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Alias Grace

Thoughts agbyma Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, Anchor Books DOUBLEDAY 1996, 465 pages ***** 35th book of my 2013

This is just another proof of Atwood’s talent to plumb the human psyche and her masterful skill at writing a story.

Given a true crime story from a century ago, Ms. Atwood extensively researches and then creatively conjures up what might have happened. A young girl is caught with a man in an American hotel and they are both dragged back to Canada try for the murder of their employers. Did she do it? Was she the mastermind or a pawn?

Her attorney manages to commute her sentence to life in prison, narrowly escaping being hung like her ‘boyfriend’. Thirty some years later and she is released and disappears into a marriage south: one more escape into the US and this one succeeds. Her trail ends, no more records of her life exist.

This story imagines a psychiatrist visitation while still in prison. Hired by sympathetic folk to her innocence, the doctor hopes to investigate her amnesia for the guilt of the crime – she just can’t remember. Atwood does a great job slyly suggesting a split personality but never really giving her opinions of Grace nor her motivations.

“And then she began to cry, and when I asked her why she was doing that, she said it was because I was to have a happy ending, And it was just like a book; and I wondered what books she had been reading.”  -p.446

Thoroughly enjoyable piece of historical fiction.

Five slices of pie.

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COPLEY CONNECTIONS!

With Up the Down Staircase:  “SAUVE QUI PEUT”!  p.376

With The Good House: fortune telling