Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thriller Thursday

Ah, I made it on a thursday, things must be improving.!
 The latest thriller/action book I finished was Blindfold Game by Dana Stabenow. Pirates hijack a freighter and head toward the western coast of North America. At the same time, a CIA analyst in Washington, DC, traces the sale of some black market plutonium. He puts the puzzle pieces together and realizes that he might be looking at a terrorist attack. Enter the US Coast Guard cutter Sojourner Truth, patroling the Maritime Boundary Line in the Bering Sea, and the action heats up even as the weather turns cold and stormy.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. It is a good thriller with a good plot and interesting characters, but what took it above the norm for me was all the information and the scenes set on the Coast Guard cutter. I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to books and shows that go behind the scenes and show how something functions. That's what this books does, without sounding like a lecture or a "look at all the research I did" dump of info. I had never read a book of any genre that involved the Coast Guard, and that made this book different and interesting.
There is a loose sequel to this book, Prepared For Rage, with many scenes taking part on another Coast Guard cutter. I read that book first, then discovered Blindfold Game, but the sequence in which I read these books didn't make a difference. I might go back and reread Prepared For Rage though as there are two characters who show up in both books. I don't know if Ms. Stabenow is going to write any more books like these but I hope she does. Her website is worth a look and she blogged about the time she spent with the Coast Guard while doing research for these books. Great reading.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Virtual Advent Tour - Books for Christmas

    I stumbled across the virtual advent tour and thought it was a great idea. As a new blogger I also thought it would be a guide to other blogs and would also introduce my blog to others. I hope that this will become a new Christmas tradition for me.

I'm very lucky to have been born into a family of readers. For as long as I can remember, my mother has sat in her rocking chair reading. She reads mainly mysteries, so I come by that reading choice honestly. My father reads mostly non-fiction, my brother sci-fi, and my sister literary fiction. There are always newspapers and magazines around, and lots and lots of books. I'm also very lucky to live in a country that observes Boxing Day, Dec. 26th, the perfect day to hunker down and read the new books that have shown up under the Christmas tree, and to eat left-over turkey.
This usually works out, but one year I did not receive a single book for Christmas. I can hear you gasp in horror. Everyone else got something new to read, but not me, and I wandered around bereft without anything to do. Mind you, I could have got in my car and driven fifteen minutes to my place and chosen any number of books from Mt. TBR, but it just wouldn't have been the same. I now put several titles on my Christmas list, and my sister makes sure I will get at least one of them. Actually, now that my sister and I are the main shoppers for the family, we make sure that everyone will have some reading material for those nice lulls that occur between gift-giving and turkey-eating, and on Boxing Day. Everyone gets a magazine in his or her stocking, and everyone gets at least one book under the tree. In the picture my nephew Ian is opening his stocking and you can see the book he got in it.
So, what are the books on my list to give and receive?
For my mother I think it might be The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny.
For my father, The Damned by Nathan Greenfield, nonfiction about Canadians in the battle of Hong Kong and the POW experience.
For my sister, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
For my brother one of the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett that he doesn't have yet.
And for my nephew Ian, I think I'll get him Bunnicula.
As for my brother-in-law, I haven't a clue!
Some of the titles on my list are: Sign of the Cross by Anne Emery, Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane, and On the Line by S.J. Rozan, just to name a few.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas with lots of love and laughter, and maybe a lull or two for some good reading.

P.S. The videos on the side are of my hometown, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where the Hallmark movie November Christmas was shot this past August. It was fun to see all the Christmas decorations up in the middle of a heatwave.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thriller Thursday...a day late

Boy, if I keep going this way I'm going to be a day late for Christmas. Sheesh.
Anyway, the most recent thriller I finished is Running From the Devil by Jamie Freveletti. This book won a Barry Award at Bouchercon in October, and is the debut novel by Ms. Freveletti.  I loved it! From the back of the book:

        Emma Caldridge, a chemist for a cosmetics company, is en route from Miami    to Bogotá when her plane is hijacked and spins out of control into the mountains near the Venezuelan border. Thrown unhurt from the wreckage, she can do nothing but watch as guerillas take the others hostage.
      An endurance marathon runner, Emma silently trails the guerillas and their captives, using her athletic prowess and scientific knowledge to stay alive. Those skills become essential when she discovers an injured passenger, secret government agent Cameron Sumner, separated from the group. Together they follow the hostages, staying one step ahead by staying one step behind.
As news of the hijacking breaks in Washington, the Department of Defense turns to Edward Banner, former military and current CEO of a security consulting firm, for assistance. Banner sends a special task force to the crash site, intent on locating the survivors before it’s too late.
       But finding Emma and Sumner is only the beginning, as Banner starts to realize that Emma was on a personal mission when the plane went down. There is more to the talented biochemist and the circumstances surrounding the hijacking than anyone ever imagined.

What a kickass protagonist Emma Caldridge is! This was an absolute page-turner for me and kept me up at night reading. Most of the things Emma does are believable, with the understanding we are reading fiction here. There is no fem-jep, and Emma does not need a big strong man to come and save her. She does a lot of the saving herself.  The characters are a little predictable, and the bad guys are very bad and the good guys are very good, but that worked for me. I recommend this book very much.
There is a second book in the series, Running Dark, which I look forward to reading. I didn;t realize it was out, so it goes on my Christmas list.

See ya!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I have never been a part of a face-to-face reading group. Partly this could be because I live in a fairly small place and there aren't a lot of them around, and partly because I prefer to read mostly mysteries and there is no mystery reading group in my neck of the woods. I do know of a fiction group in my local area, and from the moans of a friend of mine as she struggles to read the books, they (the books) are often difficult to get through. I don't think reading should be a chore. I read for pleasure and for me that means mysteries.

I have found an online reading group that has become very important to me, 4 Mystery Addicts, or 4MA. It is a yahoo group that started Dec.30, 1999 to host discussions about mysteries. One of the founding moderators is Maddy VanHertbruggen, (on the left in the picture) who was a fan guest of honour at the 2010 Bouchercon in San Francisco. Maddy has managed to produce a discussion group that is warm and caring, holds three book discussions a month, and that has members who are extremely knowledgeable about the mystery genre. These members are from all over the world, read all different types of mysteries, and are very tolerant of other people's opinions on books. Lively discussions are encouraged as are respectful differences of opinions.

It sounds corny, but 4MA changed my life. First of all, it has introduced me to a wide range of mid-list authors I probably would not have come across. My reading tastes have become a bit darker since I joined 4MA as I've been introduced to Ken Bruen, Charlie Huston, and Stuart MacBride, just to name a few.
Secondly, I have started travelling to mystery conventions, which I didn't even know existed prior to 4MA. I have visited places I never thought I would such as Las Vegas, Hawaii, and San Francisco.
Thirdly, and most important, I have met several people from this online group who I now consider to be good friends. It is wonderful to travel to a convention and know that I will be meeting up with a group of like-minded people who understand my addiction to books! What a relief it is to not have to explain why I travel with a pile of books, why I can't pass a bookstore without going inside, and why my purse is always heavy because I never go anywhere without a book. These lovely people get it.
So, if you want to talk about books, and have nowhere to go, try the internet for book groups. If you want to talk about mysteries, try 4MA!

Current read: A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield, 2nd in the Stella Hardesty series.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Maple Leaf Monday

Okay, so I'm a day late...story of my life! Anyway, I am going to try to post every week or two about a Canadian book or author I have read. I've attended Bloody Words, the Canadian mystery conference, and been really ashamed at the small number of Canadian mystery authors I have read. I'd see an author on a panel and remark to a friend, "I have his/her book". The friend would ask, "Have you read it?", and my answer would be "No". That happened far too often, so I'm going to try to fix that.

My most recent Canadian read was Death on a No.8 Hook by Laurence Gough. This is the second book in his police procedural series set in Vancouver, B.C. , and features detectives Jack Willows and Claire Parker. Willows is on a little fishing vacation and lands a dead body. At roughly the same time, Parker stumbles across a body in downtown Vancouver, and the investigation is on. This is the duo that is followed throughout the 13 book series, starting with The Goldfish Bowl (1987), for which he won the Arthur Ellis award for best first novel, and finishing with The Cloud of Suspects (2003). Death was written in 1988, so it is a tad dated, but is still a good police procedural, and definitely not cosy. As I can be classified as a bit anal when it comes to reading series in order, I have read the first book and will continue to read through the series in order.
Ta for now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I really like thrillers, of all kinds: spy/espionage, terrorist, common folk caught up in a mess, military thrillers, you name it, I'll try it, and hopefully will enjoy it. I like the runaway-train feeling of a good thriller, the feeling that things are going so fast you can't get off, so you better hold on tight and you might even have fun!
 I especially like listening to thrillers on audio. Nothing like a good thriller to liven up a long, boring drive, just watch the speed and make sure you don't get so caught up in the story that you forget you're driving. So, I'll regularly talk about some of the thrillers I've read, and about thriller authors, starting today with David Baldacci.
David Baldacci has become a regular read of mine. He has three ongoing series, The Camel Club, King and Maxwell, and A. Shaw, plus several standalones. I'm up-to-date on all the series except for The Camel Club, because a new book in the series, Hell's Corner was just published Nov.9.
         Oliver Stone is asked by the President to serve his country again, but before he can start his new assignment, there is a terrorist attack. Oliver calls upon the members of the Camel Club to help him discover who is behind the terrorist plot.

Just a few warnings when read Baldacci: 1)you should read the series in order, as there are definite
changes in the members of the Camel Club throughout the series. 2) Just as with any thriller, you need to suspend your disbelief when reading these books. They are fiction, Thank God.  3) Don't read these books one right after the other. You've got to leave some time in between titles, and read a couple of other books to cleanse your palate so you don't lose your enjoyment of the books. Remember, familiarity breeds contempt.
The Camel Club titles, in order, are:
The Camel Club                                                  
The Collectors
Stone Cold
Divine Justice
Hell's Corner

I do have one worry about Baldacci and that is that he is writing a lot of books. Since October/09, he has published three books, and when an author starts to do that I become a little concerned about the quality of their product. Either it may start to go down, or the author may go the route of James Patterson and have a bunch of people write for him...I hope not. So as much as fans keep bugging authors to write faster, please don't give up quality for quantity.

Bye for now.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bouchercon 2010

In October, I attended Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco. Yes, I admit that there is a secondary reason for attending these conventions, and that is to travel. Anyway, Bouchercon is the world mystery convention, held every fall, usually in October, and attended by 1500-2000 fans, authors, publishers, publicists, and others in the publishing/mystery world.  Bouchercon By the Bay: San Francisco was a blast, helped by the fact that for the first few days I was there, the temps were about 30C (absolute bliss), meeting up with friends, and eating great food. This convention for me was the perfect combination of panels and site-seeing, so I am very happy about what I got out of my trip.

For anyone unfamiliar with these types of conventions, they are usually made up of 2-4 days of panels that last 45-50 minutes. The panels cover a wide variety of topics, such as historical mysteries, police procedurals, humor, etc. Sometimes there are panels that cover a specific topic about publishing, PR, or other more business-like subjects. This year the panels were named after episodes from The Streets of San Francisco. Some examples of the panels are:
"Most Likely to Succeed" - Our Favorite books - fan/reviewer panel
"The Year of the Locusts" - Books to screen featuring Kelli Stanley, Derek Haas, Paul Levine, Val McDermid, & Ken Bruen
"A Good Cop...But" - US/UK cops featuring Robin Burcell, Colin Campbell, Mike Black, Connie Dial, Matt Hilton, just to name a few.

One of the panels I went to was "Murder By Proxy" - Mulholland Books Presents. Mulholland books is a new imprint of Little, Brown, and Company that is devoted to suspense fiction. The panelists were John Schoenfelder, Miriam Parker (I think they are publisher and publicist, maybe?), Mark Billingham, Marcia Clark, Duane Swierczynski, Daniel Woodrell, and Sebastian Rotella. I went to this panel for one reason only: Marcia Clark. Yes, that Marcia Clark...O.J. Simpson Marcia Clark. Most of my non-mystery friends haven't heard of the authors I read, but I figured they would have heard of Marcia Clark, so this was my opportunity to meet someone they would know. Ms. Clark has written a book, Guilt By Association, with a lawyer as the protagonist, of course, which is due to be published April 2011. I went to her signing and the publisher was giving out free ARCs (advanced readers' copy) of her book. Hell yes! And I met her and took a picture to prove it. Very nice lady. I have yet to read the book, but will post when I do.

Re: Mullholland books. I went to the panel to see Marcia Clark, but was impressed with all the authors. I've already read Mark Billingham and have some more of his books on my TBR (to be read)  mountain. I bought 2 of Duane Swierczynski's books, and was impressed by Daniel Woodrell, so will give him a try.  Mulholland Books has a great list of authors, and I'll be checking them out frequently.

Tata for now.