Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warning! Mind Bend Ahead

From the book jacket: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Cara's comments:
The book jacket synopsis is so much better than any description I could write. The story grabbed me from page one and I read this in a day. If I had started it in the morning, it would have been done by bedtime. This book is a psychological thriller, and some of the twists had me literally talking to the book. It is filled with beautiful dysfunction, and Flynn's writing style invites you to discover the secrets that lurk in the pages.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Last Thing Before I Go...

What would you do if you had to determine whether or not to save your own life?

Drew Silver is faced with that choice in One Last Thing Before I Go. Silver, the washed up drummer for the defunct band the Bent Daisies, discovers he has an aortic dissection. Without surgery to fix it, he will die. He would leave behind loving parents, an ex-wife, and his estranged daughter Casey. But what does he have to live for?

Since his divorce, Silver's life has gone to pieces. He is living on residual checks from his one-hit wonder and occasional gigs. His relationship with his family is strained. He hangs out all day with his other divorced washed up friends ogling college girls. 

When faced with the question of having surgery to extend his life, Silver embarks on a journey of self realization. His condition plays a part - he involuntarily speaks out loud is innermost thoughts and feelings. For the first time in years, he is realizing how beautiful life can be instead of going through the motions of a hollowed out man with no direction. Will he find enough compelling reasons to continue his life journey?

If you have never heard Jonathan Tropper, I highly recommend his books. They are beautifully written, entertaining, and full of wry humor. His books are being optioned to become films. If you enjoy Nick Hornby, pick up a Tropper book. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tantalizing Sequel to The Taker

4 of 5 stars

Reviewed by:  Kathleen Richardson

The Reckoning is book 2 in "The Taker Trilogy" and is a long awaited sequel to the first thriller.  You can find my review for The Taker in Further Reading as well.

The Reckoning is the story of Adair and his quest to find Lanore.  The reckoning is referring to the 200 years Adair the Immortal was left bricked in a basement by Lanny.  Adair is still a tyrant, but he is trying to reform because he believes he truly loves Lanny.  The love comes because he respects the fact that Lanny is the only one to figure out his true identity, that he was indeed the villain of his life story, having switched bodies with the old Physic with his alchemical powers.  Lanny stopped Adair's wicked rule so she and the rest of his creations could live life in freedom without being abused and she wanted to stop Adair from stealing the body of the uncannily beautiful Jonathan, the love of Lanny's life.

The minute Adair is freed from his century’s long prison all of his minions can feel a strong psychic signal from him that he is searching for them and looking to control them as he did in the past.  No one feels the signal as strongly as Lanny as she is the one who captured him for 200 years and he is the one who seeks her to wreak revenge.  We are reintroduced to the main players from The Taker and discover where they are living and what they've done with their 200 years of freedom.  Some, such as Jude, have remained virtually unscathed and are fully productive members of contemporary society, and then there are others such as Alejandro who have been deeply scarred emotionally and psychologically and are still living as if controlled by Adair.  Alejandro still worships Adair as if he were his slave although he has a successful photography studio and he hides his desperation well from the general public.  Tilde is still evil and vengeful, living much as Adair did, constantly using others for her own gain.  Savva is an old soul that we are introduced to and he has a serious drug and alcohol problem trying to block the memory of centuries of living on the edge and abuse.

Monday, September 17, 2012


The Power of Introverts 
in a World That Can't Stop Talking
By Susan Cain

Review by Tony Vicory

Don’t panic, but they’re all around you, everywhere, in your workplace, in your neighborhood, maybe in your own backyard. In fact, chances are, you might even be one yourself.

“Who?” you ask, breathlessly, as beads of sweat roll down your face. “Vampires? Zombies? Vampire zombies?”

No, the answer is introverts – you know, those folks who prefer keeping mostly to themselves – and, like it or not, they’re here to stay. (Do you need a cold compress now?)

According to Susan Cain’s eye-opening new book, Quiet, at least 30% of all people are introverts. That’s one in three. That’s Snap, Crackle or Pop. And yet, Cain argues, we live in a culture that “can’t stop talking,” that treats these individuals, not as valuable in their own right, but as would-be extroverts-in-progress. Sure, without introverts, we wouldn’t have Google or Harry Potter or the theory of relativity, but that’s beside the point, right? People are supposed to be assertive and garrulous and sociable, aren’t they? Aren’t they? (Wait – where did those crickets come from?)

Using thorough research and real-world examples, Cain challenges the “extrovert ideal” and demonstrates just how much introverts can contribute to a world that so frequently misunderstands them. Without a doubt, Quiet is nothing short of thought-provoking: a book that’s bound to start a conversation or two, if not a full-fledged debate – at least, among the more talkative set, obviously. That goes without saying. Which is how we introverts usually like it.

Request it by clicking the title or cover above.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Audio: Author as Narrator

Review by DeAnna Espinoza

Audiobooks become remarkable when the narrator is able to bring to life the characters of the writer. But what if the narrator is the author? You would think an author would know best the way to convey characters but, alas, some authors are just not the performing type and tend to fall short on their narration. One such author I would recommend staying away from is Barbara Kingsolver (writer and narrator of The Lacuna) who weaves a great story in print but narrates with such meticulousness that you may become tired of her exaggerated pronunciation. But do not prematurely lump every narrating author into the same category. On the other side of the coin is Neil Gaiman, an author who manages to deliver a great story every time.

You can't go wrong with a Neil Gaiman audiobook. Whether you choose Coraline, The Graveyard Book, or Stardust, Gaiman gives a superb performance of all his works. Stardust, one of my favorite reads, is an unassuming love story about a young man named Tristran and the quest he takes to acquire a fallen star for his lady love. Tristran is in for a surprise, however, when he discovers the fallen star is a real person. Even if fantasy is not your cup of tea, I guarantee you won't be disappointed by Neil Gaiman's storytelling which focuses more on character development rather than the fantastical circumstances in which they are placed.

Click the titles or the covers above to request these books.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Local Author Spinning Local Lore

By Tim Westover

It's just a short drive from Gwinnett County to the mountains of North Georgia. Nestled in those mountains, not far from Dahlonega, is a ghost town named Auraria. It's from this town that Tim Westover's novel takes its name, and a great deal of its inspiration.

The story concerns James Holtzclaw, who arrives seeking to make his fortune. Outside of town he meets a young boy sitting on the edge of a misty ravine, holding a fishing pole above the gap. When the traveler points out most people have better luck fishing in places that are wet, the boy responds, "Mist is wet, isn't it?" The boy hauls up his line with a gold-tinged fish attached to the end. While Holtzclaw is at pains to point out how this defies all logic, the boy,  unconcerned, continues fishing. The exasperated traveler journeys onward, soon to discover that the North Georgia mountains hold many more mysteries than mist-dwelling fish.

Using the rugged landscape as a backdrop, the story ambles along offering delight and unexpected whimsy at every turn of a mountain trail. As Holtzclaw attempts to turn the valley into a tourist destination for the well-to-do, he faces obstructions as far-ranging as moon maidens, giant terrapins, and uncooperative ghosts. The human residents, while more amenable to the changes, are still a peculiar lot. But Holtzclaw refuses to be deterred, despite the continual interference of a Princess who claims to control all the water in the mountains.

This is a great book if you like folk tales, tall tales, or fantastical stories set in your own back yard.

For more local stories try Spooky Georgia: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and other Local Lore.

Or, if you'd like to explore the mountains on your own, try checking out 50 Hikes in the North Georgia Mountains. To go along with it, you might also want the Georgia State Park Pass. With the pass you get free parking at any Georgia State Park or free admission for up to 4 people to historic sites in Georgia.

Review by Danny Hanbery

Request these books by clicking on the titles or the covers above.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Memories - Light the Corners of my Mind"

Rest in peace, Marvin Hamlisch. Your lyrics and music brought joy to many.

Want to know more about JFK Jr? This is the perfect memoir for you. Fairy Tale Interrupted is the story of Rose Terenzio, who served as  JFK Jr.'s personal assistant. Terenzio is a Bronx native, and her first encounter with JFK Jr. sets the tone for the book. (She walks into her office to find him boxing up her desk and she gives him a piece of her mind).  She was one of the few people not afraid to speak her mind around him, and he valued her discretion, devotion, and work ethic.  This memoir chronicles the rise and fall of George, his magazine, his love affair and marriage with Carolyn Bessette, and anecdotes about what it was like to work for him and with him. RoseMarie's devastation upon the couple's death reveals the strong bond between these unlikely friends.  The handwritten notes and photos included are interesting.

Jane Maas writes about her experiences as a copywriter in the 1960's in NYC. Her book is filled with details about how the "Mad Men" and women really lived and worked. Drinking in the office? Yes. Affairs in the office? Yes. Interesting clients that must be appeased? Yes. 

Jane is best known and seems proudest of her "I Love New York" campaign. It was interesting to read about her life, career, and what Mad Men gets wrong. She worked for Leona Helmsley, yes, the Queen of Mean for a short time. This was a light, fun read. If you like Mad Men, I recommend it. Request it here

Monday, September 3, 2012

End of Summer Reads

Alice Buckle has been married for almost 20 years. She has a husband, two kids, a nervy dog, and a job she enjoys. So why does she feel that something is missing? She is the age her mother was when she passed away, and Alice is missing her keenly.

 Alice is solicited to participate in an online survey about marriage, and she is surprised to discover how much she enjoys it. Alice develops a relationship with Researcher 101 and for the first time in a long time, feels that someone is listening to her.  When her husband William loses his job, their relationship becomes strained, Alice relies more and more on her relationship with Researcher 101. Revealing details of their courtship and marriage through the survey causes Alice to think about where she is and where she is going.  Can she save her marriage? Does she want to? And who exactly is Researcher 101?

Wife 22  is a quick, easy read for those who enjoy tales of domestic family life, marriages, and friends. 

Spring Fever opens with Annajane Hudgens attending her ex-husband's wedding. They have an amicable relationship, and Annajane adores his daughter, Sophie, who disrupts the nuptials with a case of appendicitis. Annajane doesn't like Celia, his fiance, who seems to have hoodwinked not only Mason, her ex-husband, but the rest of the town.  

It doesn't help that Annajane sees Mason and Celia every day at work. They all work for Quixie, a cherry cola manufactured in their small NC town. Quixie is the main employer in Passcoe, and when it is threatened by a takeover, Annajane and Mason work together to try and save the company that has been in Mason's family for years. Celia is not too happy with this arrangement. She has always seen Annajane as a threat, especially since she is best friends with Mason's sister. Annajane is determined to save Quixie, and if it means working with Mason, so be it. 

Long buried family secrets, romance, and second chances abound in Spring Fever. If you like stories set in a small southern town with plenty of characters, this is for you.