Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

November 24th, 2014

Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell (Scarpetta #22)

by Gwen


Repeat after me, “I am lucky that I’m not Kay Scarpetta.  I’m also lucky that I am not one of her friends or family members.”

First things first, have you heard of The Reading Room? They gave me this book, so deserve a mention. Think of it as more all-about-books than that other booksite out there that will-not-be-named. I like that while it does have a social component, it is far from all about that. The design is super clean with pleasing colors and blogs are presented so seamlessly. Two things that have always seemed a waste to me on that other site is that a huge chunk of above the fold space is taken up with the social stuff that I don’t care much about and that blog feeds look worse than RTF.  The staff of The Reading Room is small and totally approachable and that is a boon when you trying to get help or interact with them for another reason.  I like it, check ‘em out will ya? Look for Cybergwen.

Back to Flesh and Blood with Kay Scarpetta…I’m starting to have a love/hate relationship with Patricia Cornwell and her character, Kay. Well, with Cornwell it really started with Portrait of a Killer because as I have mentioned before, everyone has their pet theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper and to finger someone with the evidence we have is, to me, hubris. Scarpetta has always been one of my favorite characters though and I have hung in there.

However, have you ever noticed when after a number of seasons,  TV shows that you love start to get convoluted and silly storylines and you just know that the end is nigh? Ally McBeal pulled the dancing baby out of the hat, but even that didn’t mean that the show would go on forever. The Scarpetta series is getting a serious case of what I will call the “been here, done that’s and we really need you to drink the kool-aid so that you can keep suspending disbelief even though we all no that no one’s life sucks this much” problem.

Without giving real spoilers, Flesh and Blood features a killer that is murdering people and sending subtle messages to Scarpetta, her family, and friends. The relationships and their intense conflicts are really what has always stood out to me in this series and #22 is no disappointment. The bond these characters have is really stunning and Cornwell writes them in such a believable way. I wish that I had friends like that, but being around Kay Scarpetta is once again, mighty dangerous.

And now we go back to repeat after me, “I am really lucky not to be a part of Kay Scarpetta’s life because no matter how great she is as a role model, someone is ALWAYS after her.”

Much Like Gwen's Signature


P.S. Just because it gives my spell and grammar checkers fits, let me type it one more time, Scarpetta. Yup, I’m done now.

July 16th, 2013

Pilgrim’s Wilderness by Tom Kizzia

by Gwen

pilgrims wilderness

A True Story of Innocence and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

This is narrative nonfiction at its finest and one man at his darkest.

In January of 2002 some strangers drove into McCarthy, Alaska and decided to call it home. Getting to that small town (pop. 42 according to the 2000 census)  in the middle of winter would have been difficult for all but the hearty, but Papa Pilgrim managed it with some of his boys and eventually, the rest of his family was able to join him as well, all fifteen kids and his lovely wife, Country Rose. That’s right, fifteen kids.

The residents were a might leery of strangers, but respected a man’s right to live his life and raise his family as he saw fit. It is the Alaskan way after all and besides Pilgrim told them, ““All we want is a place to live our old-time way and be left in peace.” It would be fine.

It wasn’t and would have repercussions for everyone that got involved, some even from the lower 48 states. I could tell you more, but that would be spoiling it.

Pilgrim’s Wilderness fascinated me for so many reasons.

  1. The picture of Alaska and Alaskans painted by Kizzia was beautiful and almost otherworldly in its last frontier-ness. Denali has always been on my mental list for climbing, but this made me want to see all of the state’s grandeur and people by hopping  on a plane right then and there.
  2. The Pilgrim Family’s faith made me uncomfortable and that made me keep reading in hope that I would learn that they had received some sort of comeuppance. Not that I have anything against faith per se, it’s just that anything that you believe so strongly that you have a great number of kids and move them all to the farthest reaches in isolation….I can’t grasp.
  3. Papa Pilgrim, AKA Bob Hale, had so many interesting connections in his life. They were all on the outskirts, but it shocked me that someone that had such an “alternative” lifestyle could have them. His dad was a high ranking FBI agent and Papa’s first wife was the daughter of John Connolly, the man that was also shot when JFK was assassinated, for example.
  4. Kizzia is a reporter and not only did his work seem utterly balanced, but his choice of the narrative style worked so well for me. Like Erik Larson, his work reminds me of a snowball rolling on down the hill, gathering scope and speed as it careens to a finish.

So engrossed in the book that I was gobsmacked to see it was 3 AM when I finished. I hadn’t been tired, hadn’t noticed the world around me go silent, I just lost time while reading. That hasn’t happened since I was oh…in high school, I think.


So, I gave you 4 great reasons and a bonus as to why you should pick up the book, what are you waiting for? Even better, anyone up for a road trip to Alaska?

Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Innocence and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (July 16, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0307587827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307587824

Check out the interview with Tom Kizzia at the NYT


June 9th, 2013

2008 –2013 Reviews

by Gwen


31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan 2010

97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman 2010 NF

The Absolutist by John Boyne 2012 (off-site)

Alice & Wonderland & Philosophy 2010 NF

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary 2010

Ambrose Bierce, Alone in Bad Company by Roy Morris Jr. 1995 NF

The American Revolution: A Grand Mistake by Leo Stauber 2010 NF

America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis 2008 NF

Among Thieves by David Hosp 2010

The Anatomy of Death by Felicity Young 2012 (off-site)

Android Karenina by Tolstoy & Ben H. Winters 2010

Apparent Danger by David Stokes 2010 NF

The Associates by Richard Rayner 2008 NF

Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters 2011

The Bell Tower:Case of Jack the Ripper Solved by Robert Graysmith 1999 NF

Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyrany: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam by Zainab Salbi 2006 NF

The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill 2010 (off-site)

Beautiful Days by Anna Godberson 2011 (off-site)

The Bloodletter’s Daughter by Linda Lafferty 2012 (off-site)

The Boolean Gate by Walter Jon Williams 2012 (off-site)

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford 2010

Born Along the Color Line: The 1933 Amenia Conference and the Rise of the National Civil Rights Movement by Eben Miller 2012 NF (off-site)

The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell 2010

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell 2010 NF

Buzz by Jeffrey Spivak 2010 NF

The California House: Adobe, Craftsman, Victorian, Spanish Colonial Revival by Kathryn Masson 2011 NF (off-site)

Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell 2011 NF (off-site)

Comfort Living by  Christine Eisner 2009 NF

A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner 2011

Crazy ’08 by Cait Murphy 2008 NF

The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzch 2012

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead by Saralee Rosenberg 2008

Death at the Alma Mater by G. M. Malliet 2010

The Detective and Mr. Dickens by William J. Palmer 1990

The Devil in White City by Erik Larson 2002 NF (guest post at There’s A Book)

Dogfight: A Love Story by Mike Burgess 2010

The Duel & Other Stories by Anton Chekhov

The Devil’s Code by John Sanford 2000

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo 2010

A Disposition to Be Rich: How a Small Town Pastor’s Son Ruined an American President, Brought on a Wall Street Crash, and Made Himself the Best-Hated Man in the United States by Geoffrey C. Ward 2012 NF (off-site)

The Doll by Taylor Stevens 2012

Doors Open by Ian Rankin 2010

Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith 2011

The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal that Tore France in Two by Piers Paul Read 2012 NF (off-site)

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller 2010

Excuse Me! Your Life is Waiting! by Robert Boich 2009 NF

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway 2010

A First-Rate Madness by Nassir Ghaemi 2011 NF

Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin 2011 NF

The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush by Howard Blum 2012 NF

The Formula for Murder by Carol McCleary 2012 (off-site)

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs: The Sketches, Plans, and Drawings by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer 2011 NF (off-site)

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert 2007 NF

From Every End of This Earth by Steven Roberts 2009 NF

Gated Grief by Leila Levinson 2011 NF

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian 2010

Genius of Place by Justin Martin 2011 NF

The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy 2010 NF

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork 2011

The Great Plague by A. Lloyd Moote 2004 NF

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin 2009 NF

Happy Home by Jennifer Paganelli 2012 NF (off-site)

Hard Time at Tehachapi by Kathleen A. Carims 2009 NF

The Healing Remedies Sourcebook: Over 1000 Natural Remedies to Prevent and Cure Common Ailments by C. Norman Shealy 2012 NF (off-site)

Hide & Seek: The Irish Priest in the Vatican Who Defied the Nazi Command by Stephen Walker 2012 NF (off-site)

Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto 2010 NF

Hotel Angeline  2011

Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton 2010

In My Father’s Country by Saima Wahab 2012 NF

The Irish Way by James R. Barrett 2012 NF

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson 1999 NF

Jane Talbot by Charles Brockden Brown 1827

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 1906

Kill the Messenger by Tami Hoag 2004

The Lace Makers of Glen Mara by Heather Barbieri 2009

The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor 2012 NF

L.A. Noir by John Butin 2009 NF

Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson & Tricia Goyer 2010 NF

The Life of an Unknown Man by Andrei Makine 2012 (off-site)

Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr 2009 NF

Living Organized by Sandra Felton 2004 NF

The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began by Jack Beatty 2012 NF (off-site)

The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw 2010

Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson 2011

Madame Bovary’s Daughter: A Novel by Linda Urbach 2011 (off-site)

Madness: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Scull 2011 NF (off-site)

The Makers of American Wine: A Record of Two Hundred Years by Thomas Pinney 2012 NF (off-site)

Master Your Sleep by Tracey I. Marks M.D. 2011 NF

Of Men and Their Mothers by Mameve Medwed 2008

The Meowmorphosis by Kafka/Cook 2011

Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill 2009

Midnight in Peking by Paul French 2012 NF (off-site)

Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham 2010 NF

The Monster of Florence by Douglass Preston & Mario Spetzi 2008 NF

The Moses Expedition by Juan Gomez-Jurado 2010

Mr.  Hornaday’s War: How a Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely Crusade for Wildlife that Changed the World by Stefan Bechtel 2012 NF (off-site)

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins 2011 NF (off-site)

Murder in Los Lobos by Sue McGinty 2008

My American Revolution by Robert Sullivan 2012 NF (off-site)

My Lost Daughter by Nancy Taylor Rosenberg 2010

The Name Partner by Carlos Cisneros 2010

A Nation Rising by Kenneth C. Davis 2010

The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkop 2011 (off-site)

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor by Robert G. Pielke 2010

A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator by Robert G. Pielke 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 2011

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden 2011 NF (off-site)

On an Irish Island by Robert Kanigel 2012 NF (off-site)

The Only Living Man with a Hole in His Head by Todd Pliss 2012

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd 2010

The Orphan of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves 2011 (off-site)

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders by Gyles Brandreth 2012 (off-site)

The Osiris Ritual by George Mann 2010

Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding 2012 (off-site)

Paula Deen’s Savannah Style by Paula Deen & Brandon Branch 2010 NF

Pinkerton’s War by Jay Bonansinga 2011 NF (off-site)

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crighton 2009

Practically Posh by Robyn Moreno 2008 NF

Pride & Prejudice: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith 2010

A Professor, A President, and A Meteor by Cathryn J. Prince 2011 NF

The Professor & Other Writings by Terry Castle 2010 NF

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth 2012

Rock Bottom by Erin Brockovich 2011

The Romanov Conspiracy by Glenn Meade 2012 (off-site)

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles 2011

The Safety of Secrets by Deluane Michel 2008

Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy 2010 NF

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian 2010

A Self-Publisher’s Companion by Joel Friedlander 2011 NF

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes 2011

Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip 2012

The Small Fortune by Audrey Braun 2010

The Smart One by Ellen Meister 2008

Stained Glass by Ralph McInerny 2009

Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton 2011 (off-site)

Suddenly Frugal by Leah Ingram 2009

Summer Blowout by Claire Cook 2008

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova 2010

Taft 2012 by Jason Heller 2012

The Technologists: A Novel by Matthew Pearl 2012 (off-site)

Ten Tea Parties by Joseph Cummins 2012 NF

Think of a Number by John Verdon 2010

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 2007

This Body of Death by Elizabeth George 2010

This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson 2010 NF

This Charming Man by Marian Keys 2008

Thomas Ince: Hollywood’s Independent Pioneer by Brian Taves 2011 NF (off-site)

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss 2012

Thumbing Through Thoreau 2010 NF

Trace by Patricia Cornwell 2004

The Traitor’s Emblem by Juan Gomez-Jurado 2011

The Tree by John Fowles 1979/2010 NF

Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by David Von Drehle 2003 NF

The Twilight Gospel by Dave Roberts 2010 NF

Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed, and Forgery in the Holy Land by Nina Burleigh 2008 NF

Urban Farms by Sarah Rich 2012 NF (off-site)

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris 2010

Walking to Gatlinburg by Frank Mosher 2010

The War Lovers by Evan Thomas 2010 NF

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez 2010

What About the Boy? A Father’s Pledge to His Disabled Son by Stephen Gallup 2011 NF

What a Difference a Dog Makes by Dana Jennings 2010 NF

When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley 2011

Why We Read What We Read by Adams and Heath 2006 NF

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron 2012 (off-site)

The Women by T.C. Boyle 2010

The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell 2006

May 25th, 2011

Come Visit with Vy!

by Gwen

One of the coolest parts of Armchair BEA is the interviews. Both, last year and this year, I was paired up with bloggers that I had never come across before. This is my chance to share a rising star in the book blogging world.

Put your hands together for Vy (pronounced V) from Vy’s Blog. She is an 8th grader from Oregon and usually reads YA. When I first found out I was going to interview her, I must admit some trepidation. I mean, she is young enough to be my daughter, what should I ask her? Was asking her about school or where she lived going to be breaking the law or anything?

Anywho, I put on my big girl interviewing sweats and went for it. Here we go…

1.You live in one of the most beautiful states in the US if you ask me, what are your favorite things about Oregon?

One of my favorite things about Oregon is all the beautiful sceneries. I’m fortunate enough to live where I’m surrounded by views of trees and mountains. It is just gorgeous to wake up and see so many trees!

2.We have one book in common that we have both read and liked, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. However, I never reviewed it here, can you tell us about it?

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer has to be one of my favorite YA books and It tells the story of a Calla, who isn’t like ordinary girls since she’s a werewolf. Not any old werewolf either, but an alpha. Calla is born into a life that is practically planned out for her and she’s just going along with the ride. Why wouldn’t she when her soon to be mate is another alpha, Ren Laroche who’s every girl’s dream mate. Her life is going perfectly, but when has anything every gone perfectly? Everything starts to change when Calla saves the life of Shay who’s just another human, but someone who helps Calla find the truth behind all of the lies she thinks she knows about her life.

3.What are your favorite things about book blogging? What are your least favorite?

My favorite things about book blogging is sharing how much I love a book with other people. Getting to know other bloggers is also one of my favorite things. I think my least favorite thing about blogging is that it takes more time than I thought. If only it were summer so I could have more time to blog, but I still love it.

4.Do your friends and family know that you blog about books? Mine just can’t wrap their head around how many of us there are out there and think that I’m crazy. Do yours?

A few of my friends know that I blog but that’s only counting like 5 people. And the some of them think it’s nuts that I’m doing it and how many other people are too. My family, besides my parents and brother, don’t know that I blog at all! I’m not sure when I’m going to share that since about a few months ago I couldn’t even pick up a book and read it for enjoyment. I’m still pretty knew to the incredible world of books.

5.You have mentioned that your librarians are amazing, what do they do to get such love from you?

My librarians are the reason I started to read, which then led to blogging. Before, I wouldn’t have even thought of going into a library to pick up a book. After attending one of their library orientations and listening to the way they describe books, I was hooked. I started with some small YA books but then found myself going to the library at least every other day. My school librarians are super awesome and get ARCs so I was always excited to find new arrivals. They are basically the cause for my book obsession.

6.What is your favorite subject in school?

That’s a tough one since I was fortunate enough to have really awesome classes. I guess my favorite core class is Humanities. My teacher is very emotionally attached to history so she makes everything sound interesting. My favorite elective class has to be choir. A period of just singing and sometimes dancing can always make the day better.

7.Your are going on a trip to a deserted island and can only bring three things, what are they?

-A water bottle so I could stay alive long enough to look for help.

-Probably bring a nook to kill some time.

-And a tent so I could escape the dreaded heat and other vicious animals.

There you have it and I don’t think that I broke any laws, Phew!

Remember to check out Vy’s Blog.

January 2nd, 2011

Ding, Dong the Year is Gone ~ 2010 in Review

by Gwen


December could not finish soon enough for me, but it is hard to say goodbye to the rest of 2010. Let us all observe a moment of silence for the year that is passing…….Enough already, let’s get to the hits!

I read a grand total of 200 books as of this moment. That blows last year’s total of 106 out of the water. A friend did the math for me, that is a book every 1.8 days. Apparently, I have an abundance  of free time. I sort of knew that already, but don’t like seeing the facts in black & white. If you know what I mean.

My non fiction favorites from 2010, in no particular order are {insert cool drum roll here}

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell ~you may have seen the show, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, on Planet Green, but Josh in written form is MUCH better and a lot more fun.

Julita’s Sands: A Memoir by Emily Placido ~I keep meaning to review this and interview her here, but just haven’t gotten to it yet….. No matter, if you have ever had a loved one with Alzheimer’s, this will make you smile, cry and want to hug Emily Placido all at the same time.

Denial: Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern ~part memoir, part investigation into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this is Jessica’s story of rape and  the  search for her rapist. What made him the person that does that? and her coming to terms with how it effects her today.

The fiction that is really sticking with me this year is ……{insert even cooler drum roll here}

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary 2010 ~Historical fiction/mystery with real life characters? How can you go wrong?!

Dogfight: A Love Story by Mike Burgess ~A dark yet hopeful inner-city story that makes me grateful to have what I have.

The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell ~The story of Feliks disassembling after the fall of the Soviet Union.  It proves that what you think is true about your past, just might be a load of crap.

I sort of flew off of the track the last month or so here, but my goals are to get it back in gear by the time Bloggiesta starts on January 21st. I am also going to keep plugging along with 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die as well. (so far, the books that I have read are sort of weird and not exactly life changing)


So, happy 2011!  This New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, never in want.