Review: Pieces of Her

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's hard to describe all the action without giving away too much so I'll just ask you a couple of questions: What would you do if you found out your mother wasn't who you thought she was and now your lives are in danger.

Starting on 8/23/18 You can here my interview with Karin here:

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Review: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Dreams of Falling by Karen   White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part mystery, part coming of age story, part "you can't go home again" (or can you?) story, Dreams of Falling had me enthralled from beginning to end.

The story shuttles between 1951 and 2010 and centers on Margaret and her friends CeeCee and Bitty in 1951 and Margaret's granddaughter Larkin in 2010. Larkin left Georgetown, South Carolina, right after her high school graduation nine years earlier because of an embarrassing moment involving the school's star quarterback and her best friends, twins Mabry and Bennett. For all intents and purposes she never looked back until her mother disappeared.

She finds her mother Ivy unconscious at her family's dilapidated mansion. As Larkin, CeeCee, Bitty and others wait for Ivy to regain consciousness they also revisit the past, remembering and/or discovering what brought them to where they are now.

I loved or liked most of the characters -- and I'm sure no one …

Two Author Interviews

Two author interviews: One with a living legend and perrenial best seller; the other with a first-time novelist. Listen here.

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor is so eccentric and lovable I just want to hug her but, undoubtedly, she would not understand why. And her perceived reasoning as to why I would want to hug her would probably be hilarious.

Eleanor is a loner, partly by choice, partly because of her eccentricities. But when she encounters a singer in a band she believes he's "the one" and makes a plan to make herself irresistible to him when they finally meet. The descriptions in the steps she takes to meet her goal are so funny it was hard for me not to laugh out loud. In fact, I did laugh out loud more than once.

She also befriends Raymond, the IT guy at her workplace. He's just an ordinary, average-looking, normal guy who "gets" Eleanor. Most of the time. Even when he doesn't, he still comes back for more.

Throughout the book we learn, bit by bit, that Eleanor endured a traumatic childhood involving a mother who abused her physically and emoti…

Winner of Chautauqua Prize Announced

Chautauqua Institution is delighted to announce The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir (Flatiron Books), by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, as the 2018 winner of The Chautauqua Prize.
As author of the winning book, Marzano-Lesnevich receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a summer residency at Chautauqua from Aug. 1 to 6, 2018. A public reading will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, in the Hall of Philosophy on the Institution’s grounds.
Marzano-Lesnevich said she was honored to receive The Chautauqua Prize, and “that the award comes from an institution with such a long history of creating space for rigorous, rewarding interdisciplinary and cross-genre dialogue makes it particularly meaningful at this moment in our national history, with our urgent need for socially engaged art.”
“I very much look forward to attending the Institution this summer, and to all the rich conversations that will unfold there,” Marzano-Lesnevich said.
Chautauqua Institution President Michael …

Review: I've Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark

I've Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark's books have always been quick, easy reads for me. This one was no exception. I thought I had figured out fairly early on who killed 18-year-old Kerry Dowling, but there was just enough misdirection and redirection to keep me guessing. The part of the storyline involving Kerry's mentally challenged neighbor was interesting, especially the scenes with his mother -- but I don't want to give away too much. I'm amazed that age 90 MHC still wants to write, and thankful that she can.

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My apologies to the lovely Mrs. Clark for not posting this sooner.

Review: I Liked My Life by Abyy Fabiaschi

I Liked My Life: A Novel by Abby Fabiaschi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brady and his daughter Eve are trying to deal with the death of Maddy (his wife, her mother) as Maddy looks down on them from above and tries to orchestrate how their lives will go on without her. She picks out a new companion for Brady, who would also be good for Eve, and tries to get them together.

Because Maddy's death has been ruled a suicide Brady and 17-year-old Eve ask themselves why she did it, why they didn't know she was so unhappy, and what their roles in her death were.

They must also figure out what their father-daughter relationship is since they were not close before Maddy's death. Eve has to deal with her friends and their reactions to Maddy's death, and how her best friend Kara seems to be having a breakdown over it. Brady must also deal with the neighborhood divorcees who are trying to keep him company.

I'll admit that at first I didn't like Brady or Eve, but the more they got to…

Review: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

During almost the entire reading of this book I had to remind myself it was a true story. I think if the author had gone to his publisher with a story about a 20-year-old American student at the Royal Academy of Music in London who broke into a natural history museum to steal rare bird skins/feathers -- some collected by a colleague of Charles Darwin -- so he could sell them to Victorian salmon fly-tying enthusiasts.

The authorities do catch up with the thief, Edwin Rist, but his punishment is less-than-satisfying when you consider the enormity of the crime.

Johnson does explain the importance of these skins and feathers, and how/why he got personally involved, which is just as interesting as the weird crime.

You can hear my interview with Kirk Wallace Johnson here

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Review: The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper

The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes I had to remind myself this story is based in the McCarthy era, not today. Amid the corruption in Washington, concern about the "Reds'" and the lack of morals in a great number of people, is the story of new Congressman Charlie and his pregnant wife Maggie, and how they get caught up in all that's happening in Washington's underbelly. If the names McCarthy and Eisenhower weren't in the last chapter, though, I think most people would believe he's writing about today.

Jake Tapper. Award-winning journalist, nonfiction author, TV show host, talented cartoonist. Now, not only does he write a fabulous thriller, he narrates it with different voices and everything! Congratulations, Jake, on lots of jobs well done. And, I'm looking forward to the next book.

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Review: The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nobody writes character-centric historical fiction better than Melanie Benjamin. Her story of Frances Marion and Mary Pickford in the early days of Hollywood is not only entertaining, it's informative and enlightening. I had no idea how much of an influence Frances had on Hollywood. And, for that matter, I didn't realize Mary Pickford was that powerful.

I love the way Melanie Benjamin's mind works, and I'm thankful that she can get what's in her head onto book pages.

Because I enjoyed the Audible version, I should say narrator Kimberly Farr is a fantastic actress and I will definitely listen to other books she narrates.

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Martine Performing Art Series to conclude with concert by Harmonia Chamber Singers

Harmonia Chamber Singers, a Western New York a cappella group known for its innovative programming and stunning performances, will present “An Evening of a Cappella” at 7 p.m. Monday, April 30, at St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
It is the final concert in the Martine Performing Arts Series, a yearlong program presented by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in the university’s School of Arts and Sciences.
Founded in 2006 by Artistic Director Robert Pacillo, Harmonia Chamber Singers is a 21-member group that began as an experimental ensemble and quickly developed into one of the most sought-after a cappella groups in the region. Its performances span centuries of choral music, from Medieval chant to the present, and each concert is meant to be an emotional, exciting, educational and inspirational experience for the singers and their audience.
“Their music is finely tuned and strikes a nice balance among choral works from the 1800s t…
The Cutting Edge by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brutal triple murder in NYC's Diamond District sets Lincoln Rhyme, Amelia Sachs & crew into action. It seems "The Promisor" is targeting engaged couples, and for what seems like a rather crazy reason. At the same time, a series of earthquakes and explosions from resulting gas leaks has the city edge. I won't go any deeper into either set of circumstances because I don't want to leave spoilers. But I will say the story was going along nicely and then ... Wow! I didn't see that coming! Then just when I got over that twist ... Hold on, here's another one, and another. And then, even though (I see it now!) he put in some subtle foreshadowing, I did not anticipate the last, big, delightful (in a "Yay, more Rhyme and Sachs books" way) twist. Jeffery Deaver always delivers, and always leaves me wanting more. (Note: You can easily follow the story even if you haven't read other Lincoln…

Review: 'Somebody's Daughter' by Rochelle Weinstein

Somebody's Daughter by Rochelle B. Weinstein

This is an interesting, contemporary character study about what can happen following a seemingly harmless teenage indiscretion. Every aspect of the Ross family's life is put under a microscope by friends, employees and townspeople after one of their 15-year-old twin daughters makes a bad decision at a party that, unbeknownst to her, is recorded on a cell phone and later sent to just about everyone in her school.

Zoe's (the twin) situation also uncovers memories and feelings her mother Emma has been trying to keep buried.

The boy involved in the indiscretion, along with the person who sent the video, also play prominent roles in the story.

This is a good reminder for parents that, because of technology, teens have a couple more potential problems to deal with when/if they make mistakes. "Somebody's Daughter" would be a good conversation starter for anyone who may not quite know how to talk to their teens about these i…