Friday Morning Bookclub

December 23, 2011

The Friday Morning Bookclub Gives The Most Dangerous Thing By Laura Lippman 2.63 Omelets

Amazon readers gave The Most Dangerous Thing   3 1/2 stars

Barnes and Noble readers gave The Most Dangerous Thing 3 1/2  stars

If you are from Baltimore, it is always entertaining to read a novel that takes place in your neck of the woods!

December 1, 2011

Baltimore Through The Eyes Of The Author Of This Month’s Book: Laura Lippman

Join us in reading The Most Dangerous Thing!

November 21, 2011

Juliet By Anne Fortier

Filed under: Book Recomendations,Juliet — susanbright @ 10:34 pm
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It has been years since I studied Romeo and Juliet and learned about the family feud which precipitated this tragic story. When I received a copy of Fortier’s Juliet I was intrigued!  Here was a book that brought to life one of the most romantic yet tragic stories ever written.

When Julie Jacobs’ Aunt Rose dies, Julie is shocked to find out that her beloved Aunt had left everything to her irresponsible twin sister Janice. As the twins were growing up Aunt Rose had always been careful to treat the girls equally, so Julie was totally caught off guard.  The only thing that Julie received from her Aunt’s estate was a manila envelope containing a letter, a passport and a key. The letter began: My dearest Julie and proceeded to tell her that her real name was Giulietta Tolomei and that the key was to a safe deposit box in Sienna. Julie had always known that she was born in Italy, but knew little about her parents as they had died when she was only 2 years old and she had lived with her Aunt in America ever since. Aunt Rose had always discouraged the girls from visiting Italy until now. The letter also instructed Julie to go to Italy to claim something “very valuable” that her mother had left her, but warned that she had to be careful. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Julie travels to Italy to discover her family’s history, the history of the Tolomei’s, and in doing so she discovers the true story of Romeo Marescotti and Giulietta Tolomei, the two lovers who inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Most importantly, she discovers that she is a descendant of Shakespeare’s Juliet .

Juliet is a fascinating read which weaves back and forth between the present and the past. It is beautifully written and is a wonderful blend of romance, adventure, history and mystery!  I loved reading about Romeo and Juliet as well as Julie’s adventures in Italy. The many twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat.  Once I started reading this book, I did not want to put it down and would love to find someone to discuss it with!

October 29, 2011

One For The Money By Janet Evanovich

Filed under: Book Recomendations,Janet Enanovich,One For The Money — susanbright @ 10:35 am
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For years I have been hearing about Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series but had never picked one up. Since I am still in my mystery phase, I decided to give one a try and picked up One For The Money. the first in the series, which was  published way back in 1994. I decided to go the audio route and this one turned out to be a mere 3 discs… a very quick listen!

When Stephanie Plum lost her job as a lingerie buyer she was desperate! She was out of money, lost her car, was forced to sell her furniture and was in danger of losing her apartment. To make matters worse she was finding herself eating dinner at her parents home more and more just to get a free meal.

When Stephanie seeks out her Uncle Vinnie, a bail bondsman in hopes of getting a filing job, she manages to walk away with a much more interesting job title… an “apprehension agent” also known as a bounty hunter. How hard could it be! She was desperate and all she had to do was bring in Joe Morelli, a former cop, accused of murder and she would be TEN THOUSAND dollars richer! It just happened that Stephanie and Morelli had a history. Not only was he a former classmate but he was also the first “boy”  Stephanie had a sexual encounter with at the age of 16.

At times One For The Money was  laugh out loud funny and yes it was entertaining. One For The Money was read by actress Lori Petty who also starred in A League Of her Own and Free Willy.  At first I found the voice annoying ,but quickly got used to it and began to associate the voice with the character of Stephanie Plum.  I was surprised when I noticed that the second book Two For The Dough was read by a different actress. I am definitely going to give Two For The Dough and Stephanie’s new voice a try.

Are there any Stephanie Plum fans out there?

October 26, 2011

The Friday Morning Bookclub Gives Finding Nouf By Zoe Ferraris 3.45 Omelets

Filed under: Finding Nouf,Polls,Rate The Book — susanbright @ 10:48 am
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Amazon readers gave Finding Nouf 4 1/2 stars

Barnes and Noble readers gave Finding Nouf 3 1/2 stars

Finding Nouf is a fascinating  murder mystery which takes place in modern day Saudi Arabia. The mystery itself was good, but most us agreed that the most compelling part of this book was the glimpse into the lives of the Saudi people and learning about their culture. Ferraris was married to a Saudi man and lived in Saudi Arabia for close to a year.   Ferraris’s second book, City of Veils is also a murder mystery which takes place in Saudi Arabia. I look forward to reading it!

October 22, 2011

Finding Nouf: A Review By Carol

Filed under: Book Discussions,Book Recomendations,Finding Nouf — susanbright @ 10:03 am
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Our meeting in October was about the book Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris, a murder-mystery set in present day Saudi Arabia. In this story, 16 year old Nouf, a young woman from a very large, traditional and wealthy Saudi family, had been missing and was found dead and her family is remarkably uninterested in a thorough investigation of the circumstances. But one of Nouf’s many brothers wanted to know the truth, so he hired a desert guide known for his tracking skills and quietly launched a private investigation.

As Nayir, the guide, and Katya, the lab worker at the coroner’s office, join forces to unofficially and surreptitiously investigate this strange and compelling case, the readers are taken into an investigation of our own: we are allowed a rare glimpse into the daily life of Saudi Arabians, who live in one of the most gender segregated and closed societies in the world. As the investigation gets more complex, we begin to see all kinds of startling contrasts: the differences between the lives of westerners and middle easterners; the differences in the lives of the wealthy Saudis and the working class Saudis. It also showcases the vast differences in the lives of men and women in the Saudi culture and the religious constraints that prohibit their partnership.

By the end of the book, everyone is changed. Nouf’s family is faced with the trauma of having painful secrets exposed. The investigators, Nayir, a traditional Saudi man, and Katya, a more progressive Saudi woman, are faced with the stress caused by their illegal collaboration, which would have frightening legal consequences, and the distress that is caused when they admit to the feelings they develop for each other, which is against all their cultural rules. Every one of them is left with a need to cope with a life changing conflict. Likewise, the readers are left feeling conflicted. The middle-eastern mindset is so alien to us, but if you view our culture through foreign eyes, maybe our western lifestyle is disturbing and sometimes horrifying in its own way. It’s something to think about.

Ferraris’s next book, City of Veils, is another fascinating window through which we can peek into the culture of the strict Moslem society in Saudi Arabia. It is another murder mystery with the same two investigators but this time Americans are involved. It’s in this story that the differences between westerners and middle easterners are really examined. I really enjoyed it. It made me think back to another terrific book we read a long time ago that takes place in the middle east (Egypt), Man in the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado, and through these books, I am getting a better idea of that culture and our own.

October 13, 2011

Do You Remember “The Snakes”?

Filed under: James Patterson,Literary Tidbits — susanbright @ 9:21 am
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 It is all coming back to me. The reason I STOPPED reading James Patterson’s books! 

I read about Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series on one of the book blogs I follow.  It was actually listed under best mystery series, so I decided to do it right and start with the first book, Sworn To Silence. The Protagonist, Kate Burkholder grew up in a Amish family in the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio.  Unlike most of the people she grew up with, Kate chose to leave the Amish community, only to return years later as the new Chief of Police.

I popped in the first disk and began to listen. The prologue tells of a 21-year-old girl, arms bound, hoarse from screaming, lying naked on a cold concrete floor, waiting for “the monster’s return”.   I resisted the urge to turn it off. After all, it got such good reviews and I hadn’t even gotten to chapter one!  Next she started to talk about the knife the monster used on her, and then the electrical prod. I should have turned it off right then and there, but no, surely it would get better. One more disk, I told myself. At the beginning of disk 2, when  the coroner uttered the words “lubricated condom”, I pushed the stop button for good. I don’t care how good the mystery series was, it was not for me.

I was reminded of why I stopped reading James Patterson’s books so many years ago. There was a time when I couldn’t wait to read one of Patterson’s Alex Cross books. Then I read Kiss The Girls. Although it has to have been at least 15 years since I read that book, I will never forget the horrible snake scene.  I cannot believe that anyone who read Kiss The Girls, could ever forget that scene where a young women was tied up, sexually molested and tortured using snakes among other things.  I was haunted by that book for years. I avoided murder mysteries and turned to historical fiction, biographies and romances. Anything but gruesome murder mysteries.

James Patterson’s book, Kiss the Girls was a best seller and was made into a movie. Perhaps Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series is equally as good, but I for one am not about to find out! Do you remember the snake scene?

October 10, 2011

The Winters In Bloom By Lisa Tucker

Filed under: Book Recomendations,The Winters in Bloom — susanbright @ 9:30 am
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Kyra and David Winters love their son Michael more than anything in the world. They had not planned on having children and could hardly believe how lucky they were. They were happy!  Surely something was bound to happen.  In their eyes, the world was a dangerous place and above all they had to protect Michael. When Michael was only two he had become very sick and was taken to the hospital. Ever since, Kyra was quick to pull out the thermometer any time Michael seemed a little off and although Michael was old enough to be in kindergarten the baby monitor remained turned on in his room.  Concerned that Michael was being bullied at school, they pulled him out.  After trying three other schools they decided that Michael “could not learn in such an environment” and decided to home school him.

The one time Kyra and David let their guard down and actually let him play in the yard alone for a short time, the unthinkable happened. Michael disappeared.  Someone had taken him, and all evidence pointed to the fact that it was someone they knew. Someone from their past.

Both David and Kyra had secrets. Things that had haunted them for years. Although Kyra knew that David had been married before to a woman named Courtney and had lost a child, there was so much that David could not or would not share with her.  Could Courtney have taken Michael? David certainly thought that she was unstable enough to do such a thing.  And then there was Kyra’s estranged sister Amy. Kyra still harboured guilt over what had happened between them so many years ago. What if Amy had taken Michael?

The Winters in Bloom alternates back and forth between the past and the present and is told from the perspective of the many different characters.  Both Michael and Kyra are forced to face their troubled pasts in hopes of finding their son. Secrets are revealed. Will they find Michael? Will their lives ever be the same again? The Winters in Bloom is a quick read full of surprises.

October 4, 2011

Ice Cold By Tess Gerritsen

Filed under: Audio books,Book Recomendations,Ice Cold — susanbright @ 11:51 am
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I have been in a mystery mood and have been listening to one after another. This time I picked up Ice Cold, a Rizzoli & Isles novel. Maura Isles is a Boston medical examiner and is in a  serious relationship with Daniel, who just happens to be a Catholic Priest. Although Maura is deeply in love with Daniel, she is tired of sneaking around and is constantly questioning whether their relationship has a future.

While attending a Medical Examiner’s conference in Wyoming, Maura is approached by Doug, an old college friend. Maura and Doug catch up over a casual dinner and when Doug invites her to join him, along with his 13-year-old daughter and another couple on a spur of the moment ski trip, Maura says yes. For once in her life she is going to be spontaneous and Maura leaves with the group without telling her  boy friend the Priest where she is going. After all, the last time she called him, he was too busy to talk to her as he was at a church meeting.

Equipped with a GPS and a map the group still managed to find themselves lost and stranded on a snow-covered road  with no cell phone service. Knowing that they had to find shelter or they will freeze they set out to find someplace to spend the night. How relieved they were to come upon Kingdom Come, a small village with twelve identical houses! The Village appeared to be abandoned and they were surprised to find the front door of the first house they approached unlocked.  Although there was no electricity, they were able to light a fire in the fireplace and there was ample food in the pantry.

While exploring the houses in the village, they begin to notice one strange thing after another. Why were all of the front doors unlocked and the windows open in the middle of winter? What would make a family leave their house so quickly that they would leave their dinners on the table and their pets alone to die? Who was the man in the framed picture which hung on a wall in every house and most of all, where did all the people go?

When Maura did not arrive home on her scheduled flight and Daniel realized that he had not talked to her in days, he was concerned and contacted her good friend Jane Rizzoli, a homicide detective. Something was terribly wrong. Together Daniel and Jane, along with Jane’s husband Gabriel Dean, a FBI agent  headed to Wyoming, determined to find out what had happened to their friend.

Ice Cold is the 8th book in the Rizzoli & Isles series. This action packed book was entertaining and full of twists and turns. Once I started listening to it, I was hooked! It was a great audio book and the Playaway made it so convenient that I was able to take it with me wherever I went   If you are looking for sheer entertainment check out Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles novels!

I had no idea that Rizzili and Isles was also a tv series! Has anyone seen it? Is it as good as the books?

September 24, 2011


Filed under: Book Recomendations,J.D.Robb — susanbright @ 10:50 am
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I just finished listening to Naked In Death, the first book in J.D.Robb’s Death Series. I was anxious to “start at the beginning” after I  had randomly chosen and read the 15th book in the series. I was intrigued  with the character of Eve Dallas and wanted to learn more about her and what made her into the tough cop that she was. I was also curious as to how she got involved with Roarke, the sexy Irish billionaire as they seemed to be such an unlikely couple.

Many of my questions were answered in Naked in Death. As I suspected, Eve had been  sexually abused as a child. At the age of 8, Eve was found in an alley covered in blood, with a broken arm and no memory. Eve did not even know her name and was put in foster care. It is understandable that Eve has the trust issues that she has and does not open up to people easily.

Roarke was actually a suspect in the crime she was investigating in Naked in Death. How lucky is that! Why he was attracted to the tough, rough Eve was a little hard to imagine, although they do say that opposites attract and these two could not be any more different.

In Naked in Death, Eve is investigating the murder of a  licensed companion who just happens to be the grand-daughter of a senator. To make matters worse, also found at the gruesome murder scene is  a note saying: 1 of 6. The victim was shot three times with an antique weapon and not only does Roarke own an impressive collection of antique weapons, but he also owns the apartment building where the murder took place making him a prime suspect.

After reading Naked in death and Purity in Death, I can’t help but wonder if all of the books in  Robb’s Death Series follow the same formula or is it just a coincidence that the first two I read are so much a like. In Naked in Death Eve was investigating a string of murders of prostitutes. In Purity in Death it was a string of murders of child molesters and rapists. The murders in both books involve prominent political figures. I guess I am going to have to read another one of these page turner romantic mysteries to find out.

Next: Glory in Death!

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