Concord Bookshop Event: Gregory Maguire

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A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting my favorite local indie — The Concord Bookshop — to hear local author Gregory Maguire (of WICKED fame) speak about and read from his new book: EGG AND SPOON (sorry picture is a tad blurry!). EGG AND SPOON is a story of two girls, one wealthy and one poor, who switch places. Added in to the classic fun is the character of Baba Yaga and her house on legs.

Maguire is a great speaker and fun to listen to. He has a droll sense of humor and I really enjoyed the event. That said, I am still a bit unclear who the targeted audience is for this almost 500 page novel. At first I thought children, but then I thought adults. Then after browsing online I was completely confused. I would say perhaps it is a book about children but written for adults; or a book you could read aloud to older grade children and then discuss. Of course I’m sure there are precocious children who would “get it”, too.

Saturday Snapshot: Montserrat, Spain

At the end of our August trip to Europe for the Disney Cruise, we went to Montserrat, outside of Barcelona. What a beautiful place! It is about an hour outside of the city, reachable by train, up in the mountains. Traditionally, Montserrat (meaning “serrated mountains”) was a destination for religious pilgrims. It was so amazingly beautiful. While there, we went into the cathedral and saw the famous “black virgin”. Beautiful and interesting little side trip!

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at westmetromommy.blogspot.com. See her site for participation details!

Review and Giveaway! A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL by Katie Ganshert

This summer I received a copy of A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL by Christian romance author Katie Ganshert through Blogging for Books. I had read several of Katie’s other novels and found them well-written and enjoyable. I also follow Katie on facebook, where she seems to be a very nice person!

A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL felt slightly different to me than her previous novels. In this story, Ivy Clark, a young fashion model, comes home to model for her stepmother’s new wedding gown line. Ivy was not a character that I liked at first. She was rude and self-centered and a very high opinion of herself. Her interactions with others showed that she basically used her sex appeal and looks to accomplish whatever she wanted and that underneath she had low (or nonexistent) self-esteem for who she was as a person. Ivy has to work with Davis Knights as her photographer, and right from the start, things are different with him. He doesn’t seem taken in my her flirtatious ways and he asks her about her relationship with God. Will Ivy stay detached and self-centered, or is possible that she can open up her heart to others and to God? You’ll need to read to find out!

I enjoy Katie’s writing and I’ll give her credit for creating a story where at first I could not stand the protagonist, but eventually came to feel sorry for her and then to like her. A BROKEN KIND OF BEAUTIFUL is the perfect title for this story, because beauty after all is only skin deep and the beauty that is found inside is truly the lasting kind.

And I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY, too! Due to a technical error, I received TWO copies of this novel, one which I read and one which I saved to give away to one reader in the USA. Please leave a comment and a way to reach you if you’d like to be entered, and I will use random.org to select a winner. I will mail your book to you via USPS once I contact you for your snail mail address. Entries need to be received by October 10.

Review: THE HIDDEN CHILD by Camilla Lackberg

I’ve developed a HUGE love of Swedish crime novels. This is a whole genre in and of itself and I really like the blend of mystery, character development, and setting. THE HIDDEN CHILD is no exception – it is a well-crafted and executed mystery novel that kept me up reading late at night. I purchased this novel through a Book Bub promotion for my kindle. While this book has characters that were in earlier Lackberg novels, which I haven’t read, I felt it easily stood alone as well.

In THE HIDDEN CHILD, Erika, a writer, is going through her attic when she comes across some odd and surprising things in her deceased mother’s belongings: a blood stained child’s dress, a diary, and a Nazi medal. Erika, whose husband is a police detective supposedly home on paternity leave but very much missing the office, tries to determine the origin of the medal (and why her mother had it), and visits an elderly local man who specializes in Nazi history. He soon turns up dead. Coincidence? I think not. Erika continues to unearth past secrets which very much affect the present, while her husband assists in locating a murderer who is willing to strike again. Events converge for a shattering conclusion.

I really enjoyed this novel, which is apparently around 400 pages but felt shorter. I often wake during the night and I was thrilled to have the opportunity read this book then! I will definitely look for more by Lackberg – her plot, her writing, her characters, the location – all these things combined to make a satisfying read for me!

You can see this book on Amazon where I got mine.

Kids’ and YA: Casey Templeton Mystery – OLD BONES by Gwen Molnar

While I first published this in the spring, this is a reminder that this book publishes today, 9/22/14.

Happy Pub Day!

A Net Galley find, this is a YA story (one in a series it appears) about a teenager living in Canada who solves mysteries.

Casey is on a field trip to a museum’s archaeological dig when he suffers a bad case of sunburn, followed by a night alone in the hotel as he attempts to recover. Instead he hears two men plotting to rob the museum! Since Casey can recognize the men, he is put to work at the museum (his family knows the curator there) in an attempt to locate the men. Will Casey save the day? Or will the crooks get away with their loot?

This was a fun read, especially for middle grade and middle school readers, that reminded me of the Hardy Boys.

Look for it this fall at a bookstore near you! Thank you, Net Galley and Dundurn Publishers, for my copy.

Review: THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISHMAN by M.C. Beaton

As you readers know, I’m a huge Agatha Raisin fan! I received the latest Agatha mystery this summer from Net Galley. The book published this week.

This time Agatha is pressed into service to help with a local amateur theater production. She is less than thrilled at the prospect, but things go awry when one of the actors is murdered, and Agatha jumps into detective mode to figure out why and by whom. Agatha has her regular issues – interfering with police procedure, getting herself into danger, etc. – and more troubles with her love life. I have to say that I do love how perfectly imperfect she is. She is tough and crabby and physically not overly attractive. You can’t help but like her.

This is the latest in a long line of Agatha Raisin cozy mysteries, and I give MC Beaton credit for her continued ability to create intricate plot lines that keep you guessing until the murderer is revealed. I’m not bored of Agatha yet – and I hope you aren’t either – so I’m sure I will be back for her next installment.

Thank you, Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press, for my ARC.

Saturday Snapshot: Barcelona!

Last week I posted about our Disney Cruise on the Mediterranean. Our ship set sail and returned to Barcelona, Spain. We had never been there before — what a beautiful city!

Here are a few pictures of things we visited before we left on the cruise:

Sagrada Familia — The large church designed by Gaudi that they have been building since the 1800’s and are still working on:

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It was too big to fit in a picture!

Here’s the famous “Nativity” alcove:

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Here’s an link to a virtual visit to Sagrada Familia –

http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/docs_instit/vvirtual.php?vv=4

Truly an amazing piece of architecture and spirituality!

We also went to the Cathedral in Barcelona – which was incredibly beautiful inside. We lit candles for my niece who is getting married next weekend and also for a close relative with a large family who had recently been laid off (happy to report that prayers were answered in the way we had hoped — a new job has been found and secured!).

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My son thought perhaps we should light a candle to “find a LEGO store in Europe”. Um – no.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of WestMetroMommy.blogspot.com. Please see her site for participation details.

Thanks for stopping by! (I am currently on a campaign for a newer phone for better pictures, especially in low light, even though I’m one of the world’s worst photographers). 🙂