Thirteenth Quote

“People disappear when they die.  Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath.  Their flesh.  Eventually their bones.  All living memory of them ceases.  This is both dreadful and natural.  Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation.  For in the books they write they continue to exist.  We can rediscover them.  Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods.  Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy.  They can comfort you.  They can perplex you.  They can alter you.  All this, even though they are dead.  Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved.  It is a kind of magic.”   -from Chapter 2 of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

 I’m still reading this, so the review will follow.

Be Happy

“I feel an earnest and humble desire, and shall till I die, to increase the stock of harmless cheerfulness.”   -Charles Dickens 

“I dwell in possibility.”   -Emily Dickinson

“Optimist: Day-dreamer more elegantly spelled.”   -Mark Twain

My Favorite Books

I decided to compile  a list of favorite 100 books.  I knew it would be challenging, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be.  It took me a week and I saw early on that I need to read more good books!  I read for entertainment, not always to broaden my knowledge or experience.  So, with that being said it is a work in progress.  I expect it will change regularly as I suddenly remember an old favorite or as I read better books.

The books on the list are not all classics.  Sometimes the book touched me because of what was going on in my life and sometimes it took me into someone else’s life so completely that I was hooked.   The books are in some semblance of order.  My favorites are in the top third while the bottom 20 are iffy. 

Challenge yourself to make your own list.  It may help you decide to change you reading habits.  Or take a look at mine in my Pages and tell me what I’ve missed!

Invisible Prey, by John Sandford

Cover ImageFinished 2-23-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2007

The Prey series never disappoints.  It is edge of your seat action with a gritty detective at its heart.  This is the 17th installment and Lucas is as entertaining as ever.  You don’t need to read the series in order, but if you are like me you prefer it.  John Sandford’s website,, lists all the books in order.

A rich widow and her maid are bludgeoned to death in one of the most impressive mansions in Minneapolis and a politician is caught with his pants down with a 16 year old girl.  Lucas started as a detective and now he works for the state on special  cases such as these.  There is an art heist, fraud, murder, a dog named Screw, and a curious threesome thrown in to keep you turning pages long into the night. 

Lucas is now a family man.  His wife Weather, his son Sam, and ward Letty, all make a limited appearance.  I also enjoyed seeing old friend Sloan living his retirement dream.  Sandford never replaces action with relationships no matter how intriguing  they are.  It is for this reason that I rarely put a Prey novel down before I’ve finished.

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

Cover ImageFinished on  audio 2-20-08, rating 2.5/5, fiction, pub. 2006

This is a mystery wrapped in a disturbing family drama.  Camille must go back to her small hometown, Wind Gap, to cover a series of child murders for her Chicago newspaper.  There she is forced to confront her own troubled childhood and try to deal with her mother and half-sister.  Further complicating matters is that Camille is only six months out of rehab for cutting herself. 

Camille was a cutter from 13 until she was 30.  She carved so many words into her skin that she has to wear pants and long sleeves to cover them all.  Visions of Camille’s naked body with words cut into her flesh by her own hand is difficult to stomach.  It is through her relationship with her mother that you come to understand the psyche behind her obsession.

This was a haunting book.  Camille is difficult to relate to not only because of her cutting, but also because at every turn she was doing such stupid things.  This got great reviews, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it.  I think it might be a perfect fit for a book group because of the multitude of issues that are dealt with in this debut novel by Gillian Flynn.

A Patchwork Planet, by Anne Tyler

Cover ImageFinished 2-19-08, rating 4.5/5, fiction, pub. 1998

“Oh, what makes some people more virtuous than others?  Is it something they know from birth?  Don’t they ever feel that zingy, thrilling urge to smash the world to bits?”      Chapter 1

Who knew that one day I’d have a crush on a man named Barnaby?  Barnaby is the black sheep of a well-to-do family and his mother never lets him forget it.  His family has the charming belief that for generations each member has been contacted by a personal angel.  This angel is to help them find their way in the world.  Barnaby is a 30 year old divorced father and he is still waiting for his angel.

Barnaby has a dead end, but fulfilling job at Rent-A-Back where he spends most of his days doing the bidding of senior citizens who in turn love him and drive him crazy.  He is renting the basement of a house and his car is always in the shop.  One Saturday morning when the car was in said shop, he hops on the train from Baltimore to Philadelphia for his monthly visit with his daughter.  He becomes intrigued by an exchange he witnesses and convinces himself that he has found his angel.

Barnaby is a complicated man who doesn’t fully realize his own worth.  That is the powerful and moving journey of this book.  I loved it.

WITSEC, Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program

Cover ImageWITSEC Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program by Pete Earley and Gerald Shur

Finished 2-17-08, rating 3.5/5. non-fiction, pub. 2002

Where to begin?  Well, I chose this book because I am researching the Witness Protection Program for my own book (fiction) and was curious about the inner workings of this government program.  This was co-written by the creator of the program, Gerald Shur, so you get a fly-on-the-wall view of the inception all the way through its current troubled times.  During Shur’s tenure WITSEC protected 6,416 witnesses and 14,468 of their family members.

The program began because of the government’s priority of taking down the mob.  The book is full of colorful stories about mob witnesses and the Justice Department’s struggle to keep them alive long enough to testify.  Having little to no interest in the Mob, I still found this book fascinating.  After the mob, drug lords, gangs, and terrorists all became witnesses in this storied program. 

This book highlights the good, the bad, and the ugly and some notables came out a little muddied.  Hoover’s FBI and Geraldo Rivera did not look good. Also, there was an interesting story about Jeb Bush encouraging his Dad to pressure the Justice Department to release a terrorist to curry favor with Floridia Hispanics.  But the book isn’t aimed at making people look bad.  It is an honest and thought provoking look at the pros and cons of this program.

I came away with great respect for Shur and the others who toiled with him to make WITSEC a success.  Is it safe to put known killers and rapists in unsuspecting communities?  Shur says it is for the greater good, but you’ll have to judge for yourself.  I highly recommend this if you are at all interested in the Witness Protection Program, the mob, US Marshals, or the way that the Justice Department works.

Chill Factor, by Sandra Brown

Cover ImageFinished 2-11-08, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2005

 Five women have disappeared from the small community of Cleary, North Carolina.  Lilly is in town to close the sale of her mountain cabin after her divorce from the town sheriff.  Before she can get off the mountain a storm blows in and traps her in the cabin with a very sexy acquaintance, Tierney. They had met a year earlier  when Lilly was still married and sparks had flown. 

 Back in town, her ex-husband Dutch, is desperate to rescue Lilly because he cannot bear the thought of her secluded in a cabin with a man who makes women throw themselves at him.  Then things get worse when the FBI show up suspecting Tierney of being the Cleary lady killer.  Cleary becomes the epicenter of all things small town, from the local drugstore where everyone goes to gossip to the gang of local men armed and ready to walk up the mountain to give Tierney their own justice. 

The book is fast-paced and loaded with enough characters to give life to the story and town.  The many twists and turns did not give everyone a happy ending, which gives the story the punch it needed at the end.  I really liked it and think thriller lovers will too.