Thursday, November 27, 2014

World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z by Max Brooks
Audio CD, Movie Tie In
Published May 2013, Random House Audio

Source: Giveaway Win from Random House Audio and BookRiot

I enjoyed listening to this book during my commutes in and out of San Francisco this fall. It took me awhile to finish just because I could only listen to it when the little girl was not also in the car. I could have easily finished this in a few days.

I absolutely loved the use of different actors to read for the different character accounts of the war. It made it feel real and raw. And what a cast! Nathan Fillion, Martin Scorcese, Mark Hamill and so many others. The author wasn't as good as the actors but I didn't expect him to be, so it didn't really bother me.

The story itself was entertaining. There were so many great descriptions of the zombies, the reactions around the world and the aftermath. Not sure if I missed it, but was there a reason given for the zombie plague? So here is my problem with audiobooks. I am never sure what I missed when I start focusing more on my driving. Despite that, I enjoyed it. I need to read The Zombie Survival Guide. Probably should have read the first, huh?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 2014, Bantam
Source: NetGalley

The Job is the third book in Evanovich and Goldberg's The Fox and O'Hare Series. I have to admit, I had not heard of this series before. I stopped reading the Stephanie Plum books at around number 15 quite awhile ago and have not read anything by Evanovich since then.  Lee Goldberg is the author of the Monk series of books, which we all know went on to be a big TV hit.
I am glad that I picked this up. It was a fun, easy read. Reminded me of some of the crime dramas you see a lot of on tv. Two very different people thrown together to find the bad guys and somehow work great together. There was some sexual tension, and cute banter between them all while performing hazardous deeds and apprehending the bad guy.
Some may not like that, but I do. Reminded me a bit of early Castle episodes. Here, though, Kate is an FBI agent who has previously caught Nick, a con-artist/thief but now works with him to catch worst criminals. In this book, they are after a mob boss and with a whole crew of hired help (a la Oceans 11) they go to work to lure him into their trap.
Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
315 pages, Paperback
Published March 2013, Vintage Books

Source: Purchased 

I was a little worried that this was going to be another Into the Wild where I had absolutely no sympathy for the main character and his unpreparedness. I thought this could easily go that route, but for some reason, I understood her need to get away and her reason for thinking she could do it.

Cheryl Strayed was as prepared as she could be for the state she was in at that time. Having lost her mother, dealing with childhood abuse, entertaining risky behavior- heroin, unprotected sex, etc and a subsequent divorce- she deserved a second chance and her restart was this trek along the Pacific Coast Trail.

Yes, she was unprepared and naive about what it would entail, but she managed to meet her goal. With the help of others, despite some setbacks, injuries and scary encounters, Cheryl survived the wilderness. But surviving everything before the PCT to become a successful writer, a wife and a mother was the real accomplishment.

I can't wait to here the thoughts of the others in my book group.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Author Interview with Allen Wyler

Deadly Odds by Allen Wyler
270 Pages, Paperback
Published November 2014, Astor+Blue Editions

About the Book

Twenty-three year old Arnold Gold is a Seattle-based odds-maker and local computer genius.  Described as a "part-time hacker and full-time virgin" by his friends, the awkward young shut-in flies to Vegas to try and get lucky--in more ways than one.  But his high stakes activity on the Net inadvertently thrusts him into a vortex of international terrorism.

Dark Net Hacking has resulted in murder, and now it will take every last bit of Arnold's genius intellect and legendary hacking skill to stay one step ahead of the murderous terrorists, the FBI, the local cops and his lawyer.  Gold's only chance to save himself is to find a deadly bomb hidden somewhere in Vegas, and somehow prevent the explosion that will turn Sin City into the scene of the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11.

Available for purchase now:


About the Author
Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.  He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.
In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.
Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.
He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

Interview with Allen Wyler

Q:  How did you come up with the idea of the story?

A:  The first novel I ever wrote was based on this story’s kernel: a geek who develops a strategy to successfully gamble draws unwanted attention to himself. But that novel turned out to be disaster and was rejected by every agent I queried. However, the idea of being able to beat the odds remained intriguing yet elusive. Then one day I read about Nate Silver and his uncannily ability to accurately predict various phenomenon based on statistics. After all, this was what the 2011 Brad Pitt movie Moneyball was based on. Once I read about Silver, I knew the plot was much more believable.
Q: What influenced you to create a computer hacker protagonist than the usual medical professional?

A: There are several reasons. First, I don’t like being pigeonholed into the subgenre of “medical thriller.” In addition, it’s unbelievable to believe that a healthcare professional would have the computer expertise—or time—to pull off something like Arnold Gold does. More importantly, in doing my research for this story, I became fascinated with the Darknet and Internet security. I really wanted a way to weave this interesting information into a compelling story. So... a likeable computer hacker seemed to be a much more interesting character to develop than another neurosurgeons. I love Arnold Gold’s character and am really glad I settled on him.

Q:  Why Vegas? Have you always wanted to write a book with Sin City as the setting?

A:  When first developing the story I didn’t have any city in mind other than I knew Arnold lived in Seattle. (I love the city as a backdrop to stories.) I also knew Arnold wanted to get laid but was so uneasy about seeing an “escort” for this purpose, that it made sense for him to go someplace far from home where he’d be unlikely to run into anyone he knew. Given the reputation of Sin City, it just felt right to send him there.

Q:  Do you plan on writing more thriller books outside of the medical thriller genre?

A:  You bet. I like exploring topics dealing with computers and the Internet. I’m especially intrigued with hacking and the Darknet. My next book, Cutter’s Trial, however, is not a thriller and lands me right back in the medical arena because it explores the issue of physician assisted suicide. Having been involved in a couple start-up companies, I’m also toying with using that subject as a basis for a book, but I have nothing in development along these lines at the present time. We’ll see what happens.

Q:  Would you ever consider a sequel to this book?

A:  Glad you asked the question. Both Arnold Gold and Palmer Davidson are such wonderfully rich characters that Robert Astle (my agent) and I agree they are well-suited for a sequel. At the moment I’m busy writing Deadly Odds 2.0.

Q:  Do you think this book could be a movie? Who could you picture playing Arnold?

A:  Of all my prior thrillers, I think this one has the most cinematic potential. I’m lousy at casting, so if it were ever made into a movie (my wildest dream), I’d leave that choice to the producers.

Happy Reading!


Somebody by Depeche Mode
Lyrics by Martin Gore
I want somebody to share
Share the rest of my life
Share my innermost thoughts
Know my intimate details
Someone who'll stand by my side
And give me support
And in return
She'll get my support
She will listen to me
When I want to speak
About the world we live in
And life in general
Though my views may be wrong
They may even be perverted
She will hear me out
And won't easily be converted
To my way of thinking
In fact she'll often disagree
But at the end of it all
She will understand me

I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought and with every breath
Someone who'll help me see things
In a different light
All the things I detest
I will almost like
I don't want to be tied
To anyone's strings
I'm carefully trying to steer clear
Of those things
But when I'm asleep
I want somebody
Who will put their arms around me
And kiss me tenderly
Though things like this
Make me sick
In a case like this
I'll get away with it

I am so thankful that I found my "Somebody" 16 years ago. Today we are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. 
Here's to another 14 and many more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

262 pages, Paperback
Published November 2014, Lake Union Publishing

Source: Sent by publisher for BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge, NetGalley

About the Book

After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte’s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.
As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads—within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter’s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte’s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship.

My Review

Having a child who will one day be enrolled in public school made this a hard book to read. I kind of understood the pain the grieving parents are experiencing and the terror of sending their other kids back and also how some blamed the mother for her son's actions. I would like to think that I would be more forgiving and understanding, but wow, you never know how you would react if it was your own.

This was an interesting book, as it follows the characters months after the tragic shooting and not leading up to it or during.  This story is more about the town's reaction to the tragedy and how they survive it. Relationships are broken, friendships are strained and others become stronger.  I really enjoyed reading about these people and hoping they would be okay.

About the Author

Growing up as a small town Canadian girl, there wasn't much to do but ride your bike, hang out with friends on the beach and daydream. I always wanted to write but never dreamed it was something I could do as a career. I love to travel and fell in love with the sheep covered hillside, old castles and romantic history of Scotland and England. I dream about waking up in Tuscany and touring small town shops in the south of France with my husband, of placing my toes in the ocean and experiencing history first hand. As a mother with three daughters, I'm learning that teaching them to pursue their dreams is a lasting legacy. I love to wake up to the Rocky Mountains, will forever enjoy the taste of coffee and chocolate and can't imagine the day when a story doesn't unfold in my heart. Living a life with passion and pursuing dreams is a life well lived.

Happy Reading!

 FTC Disclosure: Clicking on book title and/or image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Make Ahead Meals Party

I joined a group of moms (and a dad) this Sunday to make 6 freezable meals for each of our 8 families. It was quite a production but so much fun and I came home with 6 meals! You can't beat that. 

One of the moms was a part of a group in Seattle and brought their ideas, organization and some recipes to us. Prior to the cooking party, one person selects the recipes, one makes the shopping list, one makes labels, some go to costco and another goes to the grocery store to get what couldn't be bought at Costco and one hosts. It is a great division of labor before and during. 

The host provides the kitchen and dinner and everyone divvies up the recipes and gets to work chopping, mixing and measuring.  

Some recipes just required making marinades and putting in meats so they are ready for cooking at a later date. Others needed some cooking before freezing.

 4 hours, 8 cooks, 6 recipes, 48 meals. 

Can't wait to try them all! 

Oh, and I bet you are wondering about the cost. $67.00 ! What a bargain. 


Farmer's Casserole
Hawaiian Ribs
White bean and pork stew
Beef Bulgogi
Polenta and sausage stuffed peppers
Teriyaki Baked Salmon

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy

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Source: Sent by publisher for review

About the Book 
Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.
Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen’s behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.
Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry’s disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth’s doom.
From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.
The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner’s Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.
My Review

I love stories set in Tudor times. These are my favorite type of historical fiction books, so I was definitely excited when I got the chance to read The Tudor Vendetta
The beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign is filled with multiple threats and assassination attempts which makes everyone involved with getting and keeping her on the throne always on guard, Brendan Prescott included. Summoned to court, he is quickly put to work by his queen, to find out what has become of Lady Parry.
Mystery, suspense, quick and exciting read. I have to get the other books in this series! By the way, there was absolutely no problem getting into this third book in the series. It could easily be read as a standalone. I never felt lost or confused with the story. 

Praise for The Tudor Vendetta

“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series
“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” – Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud
“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” – M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist
Buy the Book

About the Author

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.
After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.
In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.
C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin’s Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.
Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.
For more information please visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Happy Reading!