Monthly Archives: May 2011

Review: Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0061857521
Source: Publisher

In the two years since her husband’s death in a climbing accident, computer security expert Diana Banks has become a bit of a recluse, holed up in her home, not daring to take a step out into the real world. Her only taste of the real world comes with her interactions on Otherworld, a cyber society, under the identity of Nadia, her cyber avatar.

Diana continues to work with Jack, a business partner in the agency, Gamelan, she co-owned with her now-deceased husband, Daniel.  Previously, they made their money by selling virus solutions to companies whose systems they themselves hacked. When a patient is killed after they hacked a hospital’s computer system, Diana’s conscience kicks in and, after some arguement, their company turns a new leaf and instead becomes one that protects their clients from hackers like themselves.  It is after this decision, on a celebratory rock climb, that Charlie falls to his death.

Daniel’s death sends Diana into a horrible spiral, now suffering from PTSD. All interactions, including business meetings, are all held in Otherworld.  She now lives in the refuge of her parents home, surrounded by a high-tech security monitoring system created by Jack.  The only person she really sees face-to-face is her sister, Ashley. Ashley, along with her online psychiatrist, attempt to assist Diana in reintroducing herself into the “real” world.

When Ashley disappears after assuming the role of Nadia in real-life, Diana is forced to step out of her comfort zone in order to find, and save, her sister. She soon realizes that the safe confines of Otherworld arent’ as safe as they seem.  Everything Diana has believed to be true is a lie; she’s forced to use all her hacking skills & knowledge to find Ashley.

Come and Find Me is a suspenseful, heart-pounding look at the false security of the cyber world. In today’s society, we all assume that by protecting ourselves with cyber-identities and high-level passwords that we are safe.  Ephron shows, with astounding ease, how easy it is to hack into one’s personal world.

Ephron also does a stunning job of detailing and describing the life of a person suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The reader feels Diana’s panic and unease at stepping into the outside world. I think my heart was pounding just as fast as Diana’s the first time she stepped outside the safety of her own home.

While I figured out the ending pretty early on, this didn’t detract from my experience; the journey Diana took was well worth the ride!  My only complaint was the lack of depth of characters. I’m hoping this is resolved in a sequel or follow-up novel!  Be forewarned: if you are already pretty paranoid about the cyber world, this probably isn’t the book for you! That said, I still highly recommend this book!

Literary Road Trip: May Link Round Up!

The Literary Road Trip is a project in which bloggers are volunteering to showcase local authors. This showcase can be anything you want to make of it – book reviews, author interviews, giveaways – as long as you’re working with an author local to you.

For those of you who did a blog post on a local author, be it a review, interview, guest post, etc. during the month of May, please link it up here! I’ll then do a post summarizing all of these great posts next week!

Please follow the following format Blog Name (Author Name/State) & the direct link to your post.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being reading, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books so stop by and join in!

Books Completed Last Week

BEA.  Enough said.  Absolutely no books were read or finished last week!

Currently Reading

Grave Peril: Dresden Files #3 by Jim Butcher (audio)
Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron
The Beach Trees by Karen White

Books to Complete This Week

The Ranger by Ace Atkins
The Ridge by Michael Koryta

What are you reading this week?

TSS: Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

To say this past week was awesomely bookish is an understatement. I attended BEA (Book Expo America) in NYC.  A week long celebration of books!

More exciting than the books was meeting up with blogging friends!  Spending the week with other book lovers who “get” me?  Priceless!

Friday was Book Blogger Con, a day jam-packed full of sessions!  Topics ranged from technology in book blogging to ethics.  I was privileged to sit on a panel about the Practical Challenges of Blogging.  I revealed my slightly obsessive method of cataloging & scheduling review copies.

Overall,  a great time was had by all.  I’ll do a bit more of a recap later on (or not!) once my brain has fully recovered.

Absolutely nothing happened on the blog this week, but the ladies of One More Page Bookstore did appear in Shelf Awareness last Monday, along with authors Eleanor Brown and Sarah Pekkanen!

Speaking of One More Page, I’m super excited that Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters will be paying a visit to the store this Tuesday at 7 PM.  I adored The Bird Sisters and can’t wait to meet Rebecca in person!

To wrap up this post, following are a few pictures taken while at BEA & BBC:

Lisa See talking about her newest book, Dreams of Joy, at the Random House Readers Circle Tea.

Katie (One More Page Books), Jael McHenry (Author of The Kitchen Daughter) and me at the Bookrageous Party

Heather (Age 30 Books), Alma Katsu (Author of The Taker) and Katie (One More Page Books) at the Bookrageous Party

Spidey & Me!

Me, Jen Forbus (Jen’s Book Thoughts), Scott Brick (audio book narrator, Scott Brick) and Candace (Beth Fish Reads)

Alison (Alison’s Book Marks) and me

Owly Images

I love Netgalley!

Raych (Books I Done Read), Heather (Age 30 Books) and me at Book Blogger Con

Final night in New York City: overlooking Times Square

 

I’m still rounding up pictures others have taken & hope to put them in an album on Tumblr or something similar.

Happy Memorial Weekend to you all!

Welcome BEA Attendees!

This post is intended to serve as a welcome or intro to me for those authors, publicists, bloggers, etc whom I met while at a BEA (Book Expo America) last week. This is a sticky post. Just scroll down to see new posts!

Just a little info about me: I’ve been blogging for three years now, reviewing books for approximately 13 years. My favorite genres include thriller, mystery, crime fiction, horror & contemporary fiction.

I’m a full-time working mom of two boys: John (11) and Justin (5). John is a “formerly” reluctant reader. Every once in a while John does a review of a book he’s particularly enjoyed as part of his Tales of a “Formerly” Reluctant Reader feature.

Following are a few of my posts/reviews so you can get a sampling of my reading tastes:

Reviews:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block
Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Random Posts:
Comparing Apples to Oranges: Not all Books are Equal

Following are links to a few of the “features” popular here at Jenn’s Bookshelves:

  • Frightful Friday-Each Friday I feature a book that I found particularly chilling or frightening (in a good way!)
  • Tales of A Formerly Reluctant Reader-This is the feature I’m most proud of!  My son, a formerly reluctant reader, reads and reviews middle-grade books.  He specifically explains why the book engages him, as  formerly reluctant reader.
  • Literary Road Trip- a project in which bloggers volunteer to showcase local authors. This showcase can be anything the blogger wants to make of it – book reviews, author interviews, giveaways – as long as they are  working with an author local to them.
  • October/Halloween Horror Month: Started last year, I spend the entire month of October spotlighting some of my favorite horror/thriller books.  It’s a month-long appreciation of things that go bump in the night, including guest posts, giveaways & more.  Stay tuned for more details about this year’s celebration!

Well, I think that about sums it up!  If you have any questions or would like to learn more about me, please do not hesitate to email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom!

Frightful Friday: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured book is Graveminder by Melissa Marr:

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (May 17, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0061826871
  • Source: Publisher
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    Rebekkah Barrow left her small hometown of Claysville nearly a decade ago after the death of her sister.  She left behind her grandmother, Maylene, who had an odd affinity for minding the dead in the town’s cemetary.  She was always the last person to leave the site of a grave after a funeral, taking a three sips from her silver flask, reciting the words “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

    Claysville has always been a quiet little town. No one ever seems to get sick or die before their time.  If citizens do happen to attempt to leave the town for the “real world” they always return.  The town is overseen by “the Council”, which oversees everything that goes on in Claysville, including granting permission for couples to bear children.

    The burial practices of Claysville are quite unique; Maylene serves as the tender, the minder of the graves.  The dead are not embalmed; strict rules require that they be buried shortly after their death.

    It’s not until Beka returns to Claysville when she hears Maylene is dead that she learns there was a reason for her grandmother’s quirky actions.  The worlds of the living and the dead are connected in Claysville, a town full of dark secrets and mystery.  Centuries ago the townspeople struck a pact with “Mr. D”, overseer of the dark, dead city beneath Claysville. The citizens of Claysville must do their part to keep bury the dead…and mind their graves to prevent them from rising.

    Graveminder is Melissa Marr’s foray into adult fiction.  Graveminder serves as the perfect bridge between YA and adult fiction; it lends itself to readers of both genres.  Fans of Marr’s Wicked Lovely series will appreciate the authors skill at eloquent prose while readers new to the author’s work will be jolted by her skill of creating incredibly strong characters and writing that quite literally chills you to the bone.  Dare I say I love Graveminder  more than the Wicked Lovely series?  It sheds a completely new look at the undead, painting them in an almost sympathetic light, mixing zombie lore with folk history; a tremendous combination.

    Fans of dark, gothic supernatural fiction are guaranteed to enjoy Graveminder.  Highly recommended!

    Be sure to check out Marr’s web site for some pretty outstanding material to accompany the book, including a visual history of graveminders and their undertakers!

    Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 17, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0060594675
  • Source: Publisher
  • M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humback, I”  -How southern children are taught to spell Mississippi

     

    Twenty-five years ago, Larry Ott was out on a date with a young girl. A young girl who disappeared, never to be found.  Since then, Larry has always been considered a man to be fearful of, known as “Scary Larry.”  The fact that his house is packed with horror books and magazines doesn’t help the situation.

    Decades later, another girl is missing and “Scary Larry” becomes a person of interest.  He runs an old-fashioned and outdated auto body shop, never with any customers.  Despite living as a outstanding citizen all these years, he can’t get over the characterizations put upon him by the other members of the small town. 

    Silas Jones, now the town constable, was childhood friends with Larry.  This friendship was always kept a secret; they barely acknowledged one another in public.  Silas is black, Larry white.  In a small, Mississippi town, this friendship was always bound to be doomed. Still, the duo find comfort in one another’s friendship and spend their afternoons hunting together.  When Larry becomes implicated in the missing girl’s disappearance, their friendship ends. 

    Silas goes on to become a high school baseball star, leaving Larry behind to become the town weirdo.

    Silas attends college and returns to the small town of Chabot, Mississippi and becomes the town constable.  Decades later, he still refuses to contact Larry, despite Larry’s frequent messages on his answering machine. Larry insists and pleads for Silas to return his calls, stating he has something important to tell him, something that can’t be discussed over the phone.

    In order to solve the case of the missing girl, the daughter of an important businessman, both Larry & Silas must face secrets kept long hidden.

    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is one of those books that transcends genres.  While it has clear characteristics of crime fiction, I hesitate to define it soley as such. Instead, it has qualities of several genres, dealing with topics such as childhood friendships, small-town secrets, and a clear and evident flavor of Southern fiction.

    The book vascillates between the present and the past; the reader is privileged to learn about the childhood that shaped each of the main characters.  Silas grew up poor, black & fatherless.  He and his mother relied up on the kindness of Larry’s mother to get by.  It is my opinion that Larry & Silas would have continued their friendship into adulthood had it not been for a violent altercation between Silas and Larry’s domineering and alcoholic father. 

    Silas and Larry’s characters are so well-defined, so developed, the reader can’t help but feel they know them. I felt sympathy for both characters: Silas was a poor young man, not gaining the recognition he deserves until he reaches high school and becomes a sports icon.  He has to escape the small town to really become something; Larry, the recluse, the avid reader.  I think I had more of a connection with him due to our shared love of horror fiction. 

    I originally read this book when it was released in hardcover last fall.  I was happy to be granted the second chance at experiencing this book when I joined this book tour for the paperback release.  However, I found that the book never really left me; the characters and the storyline lingered with me all this time.  It was a pleasure to “rediscover” Silas & Larry again.

    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a book to be cherished; Franklin’s writing is truly a work of art. The prose is quite detailed, the setting is so rich with Southern flavor, the reader becomes engaged in the storyline instantly.  This is not a book to rush through, however.  I found myself rereading passages several times, not because I didn’t comprehend them but because the writing was so skilled, so powerful.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter  is one of those books that you set down after reading, only to pick back up again, unable to separate yourself from talent and treasures contained within.

    Learn more about Franklin and his other books here. Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Please be sure to check out the other stops:

    Monday, May 23rd: That’s What She Read
    Tuesday, May 24th: Chronicles of a Country Girl
    Wednesday, May 25th: Lit and Life
    Wednesday, May 25th: Helen’s Book Blog
    Thursday, May 26th: Life In Review
    Tuesday, May 31st: Raging Bibliomania
    Wednesday, June 1st: Life in the Thumb
    Thursday, June 2nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
    Tuesday, June 7th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
    Wednesday, June 8th: Debbie’s Book Bag
    Thursday, June 9th: Books and Movies
    Friday, June 10th: My Reading Room
    Monday, June 13th: Wordsmithonia
    Tuesday, June 14th: Crazy for Books
    Wednesday, June 15th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
    Thursday, June 16th: Unputdownables
    Friday, June 17th: Rundpinne

    A Week of Wondrous Activities at One More Page Books & More!

    As you know, I pretty much spend all my free time at One More Page Books & More. With the activities planned this week, I’m contemplating camping out in the parking garage.  Store-owner Eileen has joked about bunk beds in the back room and I tend to think that’s a great idea.

    This week is a pretty exciting week at One More Page.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 6 p.m., join us for the (free!) monthly wine & chocolate tasting. Peruse the shelves of books while enjoying some pretty fantastic wine & chocolate!

    Thursday night at 7 p.m,, Eleanor Brown (author of The Weird Sisters) and Sarah Pekkanen (author of Skipping a Beat) will be paying a visit to the store. Come by and meet this amazing pair of women. Get your books signed, chat with the authors.  It’s an event you really don’t want to miss! 

    Skipping a Beat is also the book club pick of the month, so this is a wonderful chance to get to speak with the author directly!

    If you are unable to attend this event (or any other author event) call up the store and reserve a copy of the book!  The wonderful ladies of One More Page will ship to you as well!

    In case you missed it, yesterday Publisher’s Weekly did an article on the Indie Bookstore and Book Blogger relationship. Great press for such a wonderful book store (I may be a little biased!)

    So, I hope to see you at this, or another event, at One More Page Books!

    Review: A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (May 12, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0316127337
  • Source: Publisher
  •  

    Matthew Scudder is sitting at a bar, nursing a club soda, reflecting back on a case he worked nearly twenty-five years ago…

    Recently forced out of the NYPD, his life was spiraling out of control due to his alcoholism.  He was going clean, a month shy of his one year anniversary of being sober, attending AA meetings and working as a private investigator in an attempt to get some control on his life.

    When he is reunited with a childhood friend from the Bronx, High-Low” Jack Ellery, Scudder begins to look back on his life as a former detective and an alcoholic.  Ellery is close to completing the twelve steps of the AA program. He becomes a sort of mentor for Scudder; in addition to coming to terms with his alcoholism Ellery is also making amends for the crimes he committed years ago.  Now on the eighth step of the program, his working down the list of people he has harmed, attempting to seek forgiveness and amends for his actions

    When Ellery is killed, it becomes Scudder’s mission to track down the murderer.  Ellery was shot once in the mouth and once between; a clear sign that someone wanted him to keep his mouth shut. Is Ellery’s killer someone on his list? Did he stir up secrets long hidden? In order to find Ellery’s killer, Scudder is forced to immerse himself in Ellery’s life; an action that comes close to driving him to drink again.

    A Drop of the Hard Stuff takes fans of Block’s Matthew Scudder series back in time, to a pivotal moment in Scudder’s life.  While I’ve only read a handful of the sixteen books in this series, I really appreciated the look into Scudder’s past, the actions that made Scudder the man he is now. Readers new to the series get a look inside one of the characters that has really shaped my love of crime fiction. 

    The characters are completely flawed, the storyline multi-layered; two traits that really entice a reader to embrace this series. Block does a tremendous job of portraying the steps to recovery in the AA program and a completely honest look at the recovery process. There is really never a dull moment with in this book.  While I can’t deny it’s a little on the dark side, there are glimmers of hope and a happy future.

    Block excels at writing one of the best detective series in American crime fiction. This series is one I can always rely on to entertain, excite, and impress me.  Each time I pick up one of Block’s books, I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to be fall in love with it. The first book in this series in six years, it was a real treat to be reunited with such an impressive character.

    Like Block’s other books, A Drop of the Hard Stuff is a book that stays with you long after you read the last page.  This is a talent you do not find in a lot of books nowadays; you won’t find a neatly wrapped up plot here. While this irritates many, I enjoy a book that lingers with me.  It’s inspired me to go back and start the series from the beginning and relive the exceptional writing of Lawrence Block. Highly recommended.

    Be sure to stop by Jen’s Book Thoughts today…I’ve been “caught” reading this book at my favorite indie, One More Page Books & More!

    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

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    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being reading, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books so stop by and join in!

    Books Completed Last Week

    Fool Moon: Book Two of The Dresden Files (The Dresden Files #2) by Jim Butcher (audio)
    A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block
    Faith by Jennifer Haigh (review)
    Graveminder by Melissa Marr

    Currently Reading

    Missing Persons by Clare O’Donohue
    Grave Peril: Dresden Files #3 by Jim Butcher (audio)

    Books to Complete This Week

    The Devil She Knows by by Bill Loehfelm
    The Worst Thing by Aaron Elkins

    What are you reading this week?