No Place To Die, James L. Thane

No place to die

*Spoiler alerts.* What happens when our justice system fails?  When an innocent man goes to jail?  Seventeen years ago Beverly Thompson lost a case.  Her client, Carl McClain, went to jail for murdering a prostitute.  While she was admittedly new to being a lawyer, she felt like she had defended him to the best of her abilities- the evidence was simply stacked against him.  Every once in a while she would think on that case, wonder if she could have done anything else.  Years have gone by, though, and now she is happily married and a darn good lawyer.  Everything is just as it should be… except…

                Carl McClain spent seventeen years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.  He lost his wife, access to his daughter-and the unborn child his wife aborted when he went to jail.  His mother died while he was in jail.  When the man that really murdered the woman comes forward and Carl is exonerated, there’s nothing left for him.  Nothing but payback- and no one who had anything to do with his case is safe.  He kidnaps Beverly, killing her husband and dog when they come to her rescue.  Several jurors, the prosecutor and the judge.  He knows he has to kill Beverly, but at first he wants her to suffer for her ineptitude.   He keeps her, rapes her for days without ever telling her what she did to him.  As he spends time with her, though, he starts to soften.  Was he being fair to her?  The others, surely they deserved what happened to them save her husband (and that was her fault for getting his attention); but had Beverly actually tried to help him?  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  He can’t let her go, not now.   

                Detective Sean Richardson already has his hands full with personal problems when one kill after another come to him.  All linked to the same gun.  Once he and his partner figure out what ties them all together it is a race against the clock to find McClain before he can finish his list.

                On a personal note, I loved this story.  It was eerie and painful, intense.  The book had a nice, even flow as it went from one perspective to another, shuffling between the three main characters.  Each character was well developed and interesting; none of them really throw-away characters.  Even Carl, whom I was determined to hate, caught at my heart at times.  Having lost everything would make anyone crazy.  Seventeen years in prison is forever.  Does that mean you make a death list and go on a shooting spree?  Perhaps not, but there were also times where he was watching his daughter when he was a regular father.  There was also a juror that he decided to pardon; I like to think it is because he felt sympathy for her.  You can even see him begin feeling for Beverly.  There is no pure evil here, even though there are evil acts.  I like that.

                This book is out- go get it.

                On the adult content scale I have to give it a nine- for everything.  Language, violence, sexual content… you name it.

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle

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Where They Found Her, Kimberly McCreight

where they found her

                Three very different women are trying their best to be the best mom they can be.  Battling depression, Molly is still reeling from the loss of her baby, a child lost in the womb.  With the help of her husband Justin she tries to find herself again and raise Ella in a happy and healthy environment.  But how do you raise a healthy child when you aren’t healthy?  When you can’t let go of the guilt and pain? 

                Then there’s Barbara, the wife of the chief of police.  Everything in her world is timed, orderly and perfect.  In her mind, she can be catty, hateful, and cruel.  But her mother always taught her to draw that back.  Smile.  She may not be tactful, and she knows she is controlling, but her kids are perfect.  Hannah is already taking college courses in high school and tutoring people trying to get their GED.  Lovely as she is, she isn’t one to chase the boys or get herself into trouble.  Cole, in kindergarten, is sweet and strong.  Level headed like her.  They are perfect-unlike some people’s children.

                Stella would be that “some people”.  A divorcee with two children: Aiden, a teenager reported to take drugs and be violent; and Will who is in Cole’s kindergarten class.  Stella hates the super-mom persona Barbara puts on.  Her kids are driving her nuts and she doesn’t know what to do with them.  And it’s okay to hate your ex-husband, right?    Still, she cares about her kids, and she cares about Molly. 

                When tragedy breaks in their town the three are pulled together in grief, friendship, hatred and secrets.  The body of a dead infant is found just off college campus by the creek.  Molly, being the only available reporter, is volunteered to write the story for the town paper.  At first it is daunting and painful… another dead baby.  Then, it is therapeutic.  She is finally doing something!  Everyone is trying to guess who the mother of the baby is- Stella’s maid Rose?  The new girl in town?  Her mother went to high school there, why not the daughter?  Lives unravel and the world gets messy in a world of pain, secrets, and mental illness.  When the dust settles, will anyone be left standing?

                Personally?  I loved this book.  I loved how it all flowed together, even though it was written in several points of view.  Each character had its own voice and you could tell what was going on (though the name heading each chapter was nice).  I never felt like I had it all figured out, and I was never bored.  That’s how I like my mysteries.    I cried with Molly and Sandy, I cheered for the girl later.  I just really enjoyed this book.  It was the first of hers that I had read, but I am already on the waiting list for the other book of hers that is out. 

                This book has been out a while, if you haven’t read it yet you should!

                On the adult content scale, I give it an eight.  There was a large amount of violence, cursing, drugs and some sexual content.

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Delights

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  I will admit, I don’t read paper books anymore (we don’t have the space that kind of library would take up) So my bookish delights will mostly be about how I enjoy reading and things I love when reading.

  1. I adore when a book makes references to other books.  An example would be how in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend Grace references Idgie from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.

2.  I love going through the NYT best sellers list to see what everybody’s reading.  It interests me to see which books are trending.

3.  First to Read is one of my current favorite bookish websites.  I love getting the chance to read books for free before they get released to the public.  It’s like Christmas!   This is a definite bookish delight for me.

4.  My Kindle app allows me to escape work completely on my breaks.  It is nice to leave my register at Wal Mart and forget about that crazy guy that gave me money out of his boxers (god, yes it happens), in order to see what Stephanie Plum is doing.  It is fun and relaxing, and so long as I remember to set an alarm no one gets upset.

5.  I love stepping into my library and curling up in a chair to read their newspapers.  I actually created an on going post about what I find in the papers.  A few times a week I will descend on them and read several copies of my town’s newspaper, USA Today, Kansas City Star, New York Times and several others depending on what is available.

6.  Again, my library (God bless them).  They have an extensive eBook selection that I am constantly rifling through.  Before I buy most books I will look there.

7.  One of the best feelings in the world is diving under the covers on my day off with my books (okay, phone/ tablet) and my cat Sassy Britches laying on my.

8.  Whenever I do get a hold of a paper book I love to take long soaks and read.  Horrible, I know, but  I can’t help myself.

9.I will probably regret posting this, as my husband will never let me live it down, but when we go on long car rides I delight in listening to his audiobooks.  He will listen to his audiobook and I will sleep or read my book. More and more, though, I find myself listening in to his story.  Actually audiobooks in general may become a guilty pleasure of mine.  I let myself listen to Ireland when I go to the gym as added incentive.  Obviously, I don’t spend enough time there because  I am still on the same audiobook.

10.  And one of my favorite bookish pleasures: book chatter.  I love reviewing books, obviously.  I love talking to my buddies about books.  I often quote little snippets I have read to poor, unsuspecting coworkers.  (When I read the story in the USA Today about the woman that tried to run over her parents in Pasadena I read that little snippet to no less than four coworkers.)

And there we are!  That was fun! Thanks or listening… er, reading.

Sleeping Beauty,Charles Perrault

sleeping beautyWe begin this story with the classic phrase: Once Upon A Time.  (I just love that!)  A king and queen are holding a beautiful baptism for their long awaited daughter.  All the fairies that could be found were invited to be the child’s Godmothers.  The king was able to find seven fairies and each fairy, by custom, could give the princess a gift.

After the baptism, they held a feast for the fairies.  Wouldn’t you know, in the midst of the festivities, an old fairy came in who had not been invited (many had believed she was dead).  The king made her a spot at the table and tried to placate her, but the old fairy was angry.  One of the other fairies, fearing she would give a harmful gift, decided to speak last when it was time to bestow the gifts to the princess.   The princess was graced with beauty, the mind of an angel, perfect dancing and singing and so on.  The old fairy declaired the princess would prick her hand on a spindle and die.  The last fairy, trying to lessen the damage, said that instead of dying she would sleep for one hundred years until a king’s son awakens her.

To avoid this, all spindles were banned.  Fifteen years later the princess found a kind old woman was spinning with her spool and grew curious.  The good lady did not know of the ban (really, that boggles my mind…).  The princess asks to try and pricks herself, falling asleep.  The good fairy was contacted, and came to put the whole castle to sleep save the queen and king.  She then hid the castle behind trees and thorns.

And so 100 years later, a prince comes stumbling upon the castle and investigates.  He touches the princess, waking her (what?  No kiss?).  They talk, fall in love and marry all in a moment.  For two years the prince hides his princess in this castle for fear of his mother, whom it was said, was descended from ogres that eat children.  They had two kids in this time: Aurora (Dawn) and Jour (Day).

When the king dies and the prince becomes king he brings his family out of hiding.    A bit later the new King (Geeze, I wish they had named these guys) went to war with his neighbor and left his mother to govern the kingdom.  The mother, being evil, demands to eat Aurora with a mustard sauce (maybe some fava beans… oops wrong story).  The servant goes to do his queen’s bidding, but cannot.  He instead hides Aurora and kills a small lamb for the queen’s meal.  Eight days later, the queen want Jour.  He hides Jour and gives the queen a small goat.  Later, you guessed it, the queen wants to eat the queen (confusing I know, she wants to eat Aurora’s mother).  When her son came home, she planned to say wolves had eaten them.  Instead of Aurora’s mother, the servant gave the queen a young deer.

Learning of this duplicity later, the queen is furious.  She calls for a huge vat of all things terrible (vipers, toads, serpents…) and planned to throw the young queen and her family into it along with the servant and his wife.  Just as they were about to be thrown in, the king comes home.  In a rage, the old Queen threw herself into the vat.  While the king is sad, his family make him feel better and they lived happily ever after.

So this is the old story, basically.  There is a lovely part about the moral in the end (wait, be patient, take your time…), but here we are.  I enjoyed this rendition, but (as with Pinocchio) I preferred the Disney version.  It was better fleshed out and had a lot more drama.  In the author’s defense, it is only 40 pages in eBook format.  Still, absolutely charming and everyone should read it!

As far as the Adult Content scale goes, I give it a two- there is all that cannibalism talk after all.  Still, this is one I would hand a kid before Pinocchio.

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle

 

 

 

In Other News…

newspaper-stackI was reading the USA Today, and I fell in love with a few of the mini stories.  I really want to share, and maybe this will be an ongoing page.  If you know of any stories you like from papers, let me know, but I have some guidelines-

1.No politics.  We get enough of that on Facebook thanks.

2. When commenting, respect the individual.  My site will not tolerate bullying or badmouthing.  If we can’t discuss this like adults, well… we shan’t discuss it.  I approve all messages that come onto my site, so that won’t be hard.  This is not to say you must agree with everything I say.  A lively and friendly debate is a lovely thing.

Okay?  Okay!  Now, my favorite part of the USA today of late has been what I refer to as blurb-by-state.  Each state gets at least one small blurb describing something from their local news.  Some are charming and sweet, some sad, and some hilarious.  Here are some that caught my eye:

  1. (Found in the USA Today for 4/235/16)  Sick 3-year-old gets 8,000 birthday cards: (read original story here ) Paige Mason from Evansville has brittle bone disease.  Her last two birthdays were spent with broken bones.  For her third birthday her parents wanted her to have a safe, enjoyable celebration.  Her mother posted a photo on Facebook in March of Paige holding a sign asking for birthday cards.  It was shared more than 700 times.  Among the well wishers were the New England Patriots, Disney’s Anna and Elsa, schools, nursing homes and even a prison.

I loved this story!  It just warmed my heart that so many people would do this for this little girl.

2.(found in the USA Today 4-25-16)  California woman attempts to run parents over: (read story here ). 32 year old woman leads police on a 100 mph chase after trying to run over her parents.  She was later caught in Los Angeles while taking off her clothes on the street.

Yeah, that’s all the USA today had to say about that- and it was enough.  Horrible woman that I am, my first thought was to thank my lucky stars I didn’t deal with this type of stuff at work.  You have to admit, it’s pretty funny (mostly because the parents are alright).  If you want to know more, I linked another story on it above.

3.(Found in Kansas City Star for 4-24-16 but I am posting a different link) Kansas City Zoo- Waste not, want not.  I love it!  It seems the Kansas City Zoo composts it’s animals excrement in order to make compost.  Zoo Manoo sells for $25 a truck load.  Not only do they not have to pay for waste disposal, but they make extra from doing this.  It states that the manure takes two years to decompose.  If anyone’s interested, the compost heap is between the elephants and the rhinos.  Read the story here

Just a thought, why isn’t every zoo doing this?  Are other zoos?  Is the one near you?

4. (Found in the Kansas City Star for 4-24-16) Storybooks brought to life.   Rabbit Hole, is gearing up to make a museum where children are “dropped Alice- like” into a wonderland of classic stories.  Many large name children’s authors vouch for Pete Cowden, as he attempts to make this museum a reality.  Read story here.

If you are interested in donating to this please go here: Rabbit Hole Fundraising site

5. (Found in USA Today Weekend edition 4/22-4/24/16) Book-loving stars on Instagram:  These days a ton of actresses are posting selfies of themselves and the book they are reading.  Every Thursday Lisa Dunham makes reading suggestions on lenny.  Of course there is also Reese Witherspoon, Emma Watson and many others.  Personally I think this is awesome.  Let’s replace the duckface pics with bookish Selfies! read story here .

6. (found in USA Today 4-27-16) Love of Libraries:  Karen Fox of Fairbanks, Alaska has one of the oldest library cards still in use.  Out of more than 381,000 cards, hers is number 387.  She goes twice a week, and when they travel she likes to visit the libraries in other communities.  Read Full Story here.

7. (found in USA Today 4-27-2016) Anything to declare?  Khoua Vang, 49, was caught at O’Hare International airport with more 38 pounds of drugs in her luggage.  She was traveling home to Minnesota from Laos. Read full story here

So what’s in the news by you?

 

 

Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi

Pinnochio

*Spoilers ahead* Over the years I have always wanted to read some of the books that were reinvented into Disney classics.  I started with Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.  We begin our story with Master Antonio, a carpenter who has a unique piece of wood.  Every time he tries to cut into it, it cries out and complains.  When Gepetto comes in, asking for wood to make a puppet our talking wood piece starts trouble by calling him names and inciting mischief.  After two fights, they part as friends with Antonio having given Gepetto the talking wood.

As Gepetto is fashioning his puppet, it cannot keep from being cheeky.  Once it has eyes it gives him odd looks, once it has a mouth it sticks it’s tongue out at him, once it has legs it kicks him.  (Now me, in these days, I would be saying “that thing’s possessed” and getting it into a fire but that would make for a very short story.)  What should happen when Gepetto taught the rascal to walk but that Pinocchio ran clear away.  Once he caught him, Gepetto was furious.  Pinocchio, true to type, threw himself on the ground and threw a fit causing a stir in the crowd that appeared.  So Gepetto is taken prisoner for mistreatment of the child/puppet and Pinocchio is alone and starving.  There seems to be nothing in the house save an egg, but when he cracks it a chick comes out and runs away.  All this time he meets the talking cricket who wants to warn him about rebelling against one’s parents.  He has all sorts of advice, go to school or learn a trade… obviously Pinocchio doesn’t want to hear this.  He has ideas of living the vagabond life and amusing himself.  He eventually throws a hammer at the cricket and flattens it against a wall.  (Very un-Disney).

                Eventually Gepetto comes home and all is forgiven.  He makes Pinocchio clothes, shoes and a hat out of stuff in the house, then goes out and sells his coat so that his boy can have a spelling book.  Well, Pinocchio is very touched by this and determined to be good and go to school.  He has to learn and make his papa proud.  Sadly this does not last long.  Hearing music on the way to school, he follows it to a puppet show.  He sells his book for the price of admittance (it really is much harder to love this Pinocchio).  Through an odd series of events, he ends up disturbing the show and the Fire-eater, the showman, is going to use him for kindling to make up for lost revenue.  Of course Pinocchio repents and cries, softening the heart of the showman.  When he decides to take one of his own puppets instead, Pinocchio is beside himself.  He doesn’t want his friend hurt, so he offers himself up.  Well the showman is so touched that he pardons the puppet and sends Pinocchio on his way with money for his papa. 

                The other adventures are just as crazy.   He gets pulled into a make-money-quick scheme before even getting home.  Then he is lynched only to be saved just in the nick of time.  He gets caught in a trap when trying to take some grapes from a field and is pressed into service as a guard god, which is one thing he does well.  Once he is released from this he goes to find his father.  Gepetto, worried sick has built himself a little boat to look further out for Pinocchio (some time has passed).  The waves take him, and though Pinocchio tries, he cannot get to his father.  Pinocchio washes up on shore and goes to a village to beg for food.  No one will give him any without work and so he stays there starving for some time.  Finally an elderly woman gives him water and offers him a meal if he will help carry her water cans.  After eating, he realizes his savior is the blue fairy that he had known before.  They stay together for a time.  Pinocchio tries hard and does well in school.  He makes lots of friends, but his favorite are the ones his school master and blue fairy don’t want him around. The bad boys lead Pinocchio on an adventure one day.  They skip school claiming to be going to see the huge Dog-fish.  Well, Pinocchio goes as well, but once they reach the coast the seven boys gang up on Pinocchio, angry at him for studying and making them look bad.  One boy ends up badly injured and the others run away.  Pinocchio is caught and accused of hurting Eugene.  He runs away and finally jumps into the sea.

There are more adventures, but this review is getting longer than I thought it would.  In the end, he and his papa are reunited and he works and cared for Gepetto so well that the blue fairy gives him the gift of becoming a real boy at last. 

While I liked this story, Disney’s Pinocchio will always have my heart and I have to say that that is the version I would give my kids if I had any.  I cannot say that this would be suitable for the very young… even if that was the target audience at the time it was written.

Still, check it out for yourself.  I found it to be a great read. 

On the adult content scale I would give it a two for violence. 

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle

300 Days of Sun, Deborah Lawrenson

300 days of Sun, Deborah Lawrenson

                300 Days of Sun   came out April 12th of this month.  Not only did I buy my eBook copy, I bought  a paper copy for my library before even reading the first chapter- I just knew it would be that amazing.  For me, I loved the steady pace of the novel, and how we got little snippets of the past.  Lawrenson really took you to those beautiful, hot streets with her wonderful imagery and amazing cast of characters.

                Joanna Millard is a political journalist, running from mediocrity.  Her job was one that she is no longer excited about and is not so sad about being downsized.  Marc, while lovely on paper, is just not the guy she wants to spend any more time with.  Sadly, he isn’t getting the hint.    Going to Faro, Portugal and taking a language course seems brilliant.  Beauty and sunlight… perfect for rejuvenating.  There, she meets Nathan Emberlin, who is young, gorgeous and always good for a party.  As she spends more time with him, though, she realizes all that is a façade to hide his true self- a damaged boy who thinks he might have been stolen from his real family.  Following Nathan on his quest for answers,  she becomes intimately aware of the seedy underbelly of paradise. 

                Between meeting expat Ian Rylands, reading The Alliance at his urging, and trying to find the only man that Nathan remembers from his youth, this is an interesting adventure.  I personally loved it!

                This book is out now- go get it!

                On the adult content scale I give it a four- violence, language and some sexual content.

Link to book:

Amazon Kindle