Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

Title: Nothing to Lose (Jack Reacher Series #12), Author: Lee Child Nothing to Lose. Finished 2-17-20, 4/5 stars, thriller, 531 pages, pub. 2008

#12 of the Jack Reacher series (1-Killing Floor2- Die Trying, 3 – Tripwire, 4 – Running Blind5 – Echo Burning6 – Without Fail, 7 – Persuador, 8 – The Enemy, 9 – One Shot, 10 – Hard Way, 11-Bad Luck and Trouble)

It wasn’t the welcome Reacher expected. He was just passing through, minding his own business. But within minutes of his arrival a deputy is in the hospital and Reacher is back in Hope, setting up a base of operations against Despair, where a huge, seething walled-off industrial site does something nobody is supposed to see . . . where a small plane takes off every night and returns seven hours later . . . where a garrison of well-trained and well-armed military cops—the kind of soldiers Reacher once commanded—waits and watches . . . where above all two young men have disappeared and two frightened young women wait and hope for their return.

Joining forces with a beautiful cop who runs Hope with a cool hand, Reacher goes up against Despair—against the deputies who try to break him and the rich man who tries to scare him—and starts to crack open the secrets, starts to expose the terrifying connection to a distant war that’s killing Americans by the thousand.   from Goodreads

This is how I described Reacher in the second book, “Jack Reacher is a man’s man, but one that women are drawn to because of his sheer masculinity and unavailability.  He is who he is, take him or leave him and that confidence and physical presence makes him a force to be reckoned with.” This is still accurate all these books later although I would add loner to the mix.  The books are long, but read fast and should be enjoyed by starting at one and working your way through.

As Reacher is making his way diagonally across the country, from Maine to south of San Diego he walk from Hope to Despair in Colorado and all hell breaks loose.  He is beat up, locked up and thrown out of the town told never to return all because he walked into the diner and ordered a cup of coffee.  Reacher is not one who likes to be told what to do and sneaks back in more than once.  When all is said and done he has uncovered an Armageddon type plot and added another notch to his bedpost.  Not bad for a week’s work.

This was not my favorite, but anytime with Reacher is time well spent.

 

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Title: Starry Night: A Christmas Novel, Author: Debbie Macomber Starry Night. Finished 2-9-20, 4/5 stars, romance, 231 pages, pub. 2013

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.    from Goodreads

Sweet, implausible, and just what I needed.  This Christmas romance came at the perfect time, after a few heavy reads and winter firmly settling in.  Finn is a man’s man and Carrie a girly girl and when the two first met it was not love at first sight.  But somehow in the span of a few short days the recluse from Alaska and the reporter from Chicago fell madly in love.  The characters were good and the tension was perfect enough to carry the story and leave me in a happy place.

Happy Valentine’s Day 🙂

At Home With Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life by Jennifer L. Scott

Title: At Home with Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life, Author: Jennifer L. Scott At Home With Madame Chic.  Finished 2-9-20, home/style, 4/5 stars. 281 pages, pub. 2014

At Home with Madame Chic reveals the secrets to having a happy, fulfilling, and passionate life at home. Jennifer explains the morning send-off need not be chaotic, it’s possible to look stylish with minimal time and effort, a little forethought makes it possible to serve a home-cooked dinner every night, and details like music and scented candles can set the tone for the whole family’s evening. Organized by the pleasures that can be found throughout the day, this charming, helpful book is full of ideas, playlists, recipes, beauty routines, and advice that can turn an irritating day into an enjoyable experience.   from Goodreads

This was a perfect timing kind of read for me.  This is not the type of book that I would normally pick up, but my 30 day challenge for next month involves my wardrobe and I was browsing the library shelves in that area I picked this up.  I’m so glad that I did.  Our home is still causing me quite a bit of stress and the emphasis on putting some love and attention into your daily life, your home included, helped me view the chaos around me with a little more clarity.

As a mom with two young children she spoke a language I understand about the importance of making a childhood for your kids that they will look back on and want to emulate.  The ‘chic’ you see in some woman starts from an inner peace, an air of mystery, and there are things we ‘un-chic’ gals can do to feel some of that ourselves.  At least that’s what she tells me 🙂  There’s a lot more in here about your daily life and ways to make special memories every day, including recipes, games, wardrobe lists, and playlists.

The author has written several Madame Chic books and I do plan on looking for the others.  The library book I checked out?  I returned it and bought my own copy.  It’s such a pretty little book and something that will remind me to slow down and put a little more love and intention in to my day.

Liars’ Legacy by Taylor Stevens

Title: Liars' Legacy, Author: Taylor Stevens Liars’ Legacy. Finished 1-31-20, 4/5, thriller, 339 pages, pub. 2019

Book 2 of the Jack and Jill series (1-Liars’ Paradox)

The assassin broker is dead. The power void has left the network he controlled without restraints, and the world’s deadliest killers free to pursue their own vendettas and political agendas. The United States government, unwilling to risk upheaval and global chaos, has mobilized killers of its own to preemptively hunt down and destroy each potential threat.

Among the most dangerous on that list are Jack and Jill.

Often estranged–always connected by a legacy they can’t escape–the siblings have eluded many who want them dead. As they board a flight to Berlin hoping to meet the father they’ve never known, they suspect a trap. What they can’t predict is how far a high-level Russian operation will go to secure their skills, or how hard the U.S. operatives sent to stop them will fight to assassinate them first.   from Goodreads

I really liked the first in this series of assassins.  The seemingly unhinged mother, mysterious father, the two twins who are rarely on the same page, but both deadly.  In that book the Broker who ran the web of assassins around  the world (easy to picture if you’ve seen the John Wick movies, but not nearly as civilized as all that) was murdered.  This second installment is what happens in the aftermath.

Jack and Jill are flying to Berlin to meet the father they’ve never known, but they know they are being watched, hunted even.  With a little help from fellow killer for hire Holden the three of them manage to stay one step ahead of the Russians and Americans who want them either locked up or dead.  It was a little confusing, I was always a move or two behind.  Once they returned to the United States things became clear, even though Jack’s plans are always too smart for me to even guess at before the action starts.

I liked this one, and not just because Jack ends up in Cleveland for a bit (hanging with our homeless no less!).  It was nonstop action for over half the book until it slowed down just enough to let you catch your breath and enjoy the finish.  I loved that Holden was back and appreciate the way he sees Jill and likes her, but is willing to walk away from the crazy.  I’m intrigued by Kara, who has a thing for Jack, but works for the government.  I’m interested to see where this thing with with their father takes them.  So many things I look forward to finding out in the next book.

If you like nonstop action in your thrillers this is the series for you!

Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton

Title: Exit Strategy, Author: Steve Hamilton Exit Strategy.  Finished 1-29-20, 4/5 stars, thriller, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio read by Ray Porter.  6 CDs.

Book 2 in the Nick Mason series (1-The Second Life of Nick Mason)

Nick Mason has been given a true mission impossible: Infiltrate WITSEC, the top-secret federal witness-protection program that has never been compromised, locate the three men who put his boss Darius Cole behind bars for life, and kill them.

But first he has to find them—they’re ghost prisoners locked down around the clock in classified “deep black” locations by an battalion of heavily armed U.S. marshals charged with protecting them—and the clock is ticking. Cole is appealing his conviction, and these witnesses are either his ticket to freedom or the final nail in his coffin.    As he risks everything to complete his mission, Mason finds himself being hunted by the very man he replaced, the ruthless assassin who once served, then betrayed, Darius Cole. 

In an action-packed journey that leads from a high-security military installation in the Appalachian Mountains to a secret underground bunker hidden far below the streets of New York City, Nick Mason will have to become, more than ever before, the lethal weapon that Darius Cole created.   fromGoodreads

I listened to the first Nick Mason book last month and liked the way Nick, a low level criminal turned killer, was portrayed as a man making bad decisions based on wanting to live another day.  I’m not sure sympathy is the best word, but definitely some feeling of understanding kept me listening.  In this second book with Nick, one that starts about a month later, the bigger picture becomes clearer and his luck with women goes from bad to worse to the worst.  I think at least one of those could have been left out.

Somehow, Nick has become this uber assassin and I was a little confused about how he obtained all of these skills in such a short amount of time, but once I just accepted it as fact the story became more fun.  Well, as fun as killers hunting killers and leaving lots of dead bodies in wake can be.  Again, once accepted the entertainment value goes way up.

I like Nick Mason and this series, improbable as it may be, and am looking forward to the next book.

The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Title: The Complaints (Malcolm Fox Series #1), Author: Ian Rankin The Complaints.  Finished audio 1-14-20, 4/5 stars, mystery, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Peter Forbes.

Book 1 in the Malcom Fox series

Nobody likes The Complaints–they’re the cops who investigate other cops. It’s a department known within the force as “The Dark Side,” and it’s where Malcolm Fox works. He’s a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship, frustrating problems about which he cannot seem to do anything.   from Goodreads

Fox is a good cop who investigates bad cops, so imagine his surprise when someone turns the table and suddenly he’s on the wrong side.  He finds himself sympathetic to the suspected and at the same time goes too far in helping his sister, enough so that he is the one under suspicion.  Fox brings a sense of good even when you aren’t sure he’s doing the right thing, you trust him but you’re not sure why.  Maybe some of the trust you feel is because of his relationships with his father and sister.  Both relationships strain for different reasons and yet Fox never wavers in his attitude toward them.  A good solid read for lovers of Scottish mysteries or police procedurals.

I picked up this book at our library sale because it was Ian Rankin (my most read author last year) and the book was in brand new condition.  I started it thinking it was a standalone.  Turns out it’s the first of a new character who will eventually share books with Rankin’s other series with John Rebus.  I’ll probably read more with Rebus first because he has more books before the two characters meet, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it connected to a series I already love.

I recommend anything that Rankin writes 🙂

The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley

Title: The Clergyman's Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel, Author: Molly Greeley Clergyman’s Wife.  Finished 12-17-19, 4/5 stars, Pride and Prejudice story, pub. 2019

Charlotte Collins, nee Lucas, is the respectable wife of Hunsford’s vicar, and sees to her duties by rote: keeping house, caring for their adorable daughter, visiting parishioners, and patiently tolerating the lectures of her awkward husband and his condescending patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Intelligent, pragmatic, and anxious to escape the shame of spinsterhood, Charlotte chose this life, an inevitable one so socially acceptable that its quietness threatens to overwhelm her. Then she makes the acquaintance of Mr. Travis, a local farmer and tenant of Lady Catherine..

In Mr. Travis’ company, Charlotte feels appreciated, heard, and seen. For the first time in her life, Charlotte begins to understand emotional intimacy and its effect on the heart—and how breakable that heart can be. With her sensible nature confronted, and her own future about to take a turn, Charlotte must now question the role of love and passion in a woman’s life, and whether they truly matter for a clergyman’s wife.   from Goodreads

I feel like I know the characters from Pride and Prejudice fairly well and I was so happy that this continuation felt like Charlotte.  This was beautifully written and Greeley  got the story and tone exactly right for the practical Charlotte.  The other returning players, especially Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine, were well within character.  We caught a few glimpses of the late parents of Mr. Collins, but for the most part his absurdity remained intact.

Charlotte knew she was choosing a life as the wife of a vicar because it was the best she could hope for at the age of 27, but as the years went on she never felt particularly suited for it.  She lost a child at childbirth and now had a young daughter, Louisa, who took up her time.  Then she strikes a friendship with Mr. Travis, an emotionally charged friendship and she comes into her own under his warm eyes.

This was a nice, sweet read.  I’m so glad that I got to know Charlotte a bit better and look forward to reading more from Greeley since this was her first novel.  Well done.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for getting this book in my hands.  I’ll leave  you with a passage I enjoyed,

“Though I am nowhere near as intrepid a walker as my friend Elizabeth, I feel pulled outside on days such as this, when I wake to the stifling closeness of the parsonage walls; to William’s snores and his heavy arm pinning me in place against the mattress.  In my own home, and at Rosings Park, I often feel diminished.  Out here, though, I also feel small, it is in the best sense of the word.  I am part of the world here, humbled and expanded all at once.”  Chapter 4

The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi

Title: The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom, Author: Carol Kelly-Gangi The Dalai Lama. Finished 9-30-19, 4/5 stars, 122 pages, pub. 2007

The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom is a collection of hundreds of inspiring quotations from His Holiness. The selections are drawn largely from his writings, teachings, interviews, speeches, and other statements made during the course of his more than forty-eight years as the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

In these excerpts, the Dalai Lama reflects with wisdom that is both profound and down to earth upon the need for compassion and kindness, the search for happiness, the way to peace, the meaning of pain and suffering, the role of religion, the power of meditation, and the challenges of life in the modern world. In other selections, His Holiness recalls his singular childhood and the turmoil surrounding the Communist takeover of Tibet.

Brimming with warmth, humor, and practical advice, the selections gathered here powerfully illuminate why His Holiness the Dalai Lama is beloved the world over for his timeless wisdom for all humanity.   from Goodreads

The book starts with a four page introduction, which introduced the the contextual history of this, the 14th Dalai Lama.  The last few pages are the chronology of the man through 2006, when the book went to print.  The bulk of the book are chapters (compassion, love, kindness & friendship, happiness, environment…) full of his own words taken from his speeches or writings.  The first few chapters are about the teachings of Buddhism and his own path to being the leader.  Many places in the book he talks about the responsibility he feels for Tibet, his home that he cannot return to because of the Chinese government.  There is a lot of wisdom here and I enjoyed it very much.  If only enlightenment could be found in a book we’d all be better off, but this is the next best thing.  I look forward to picking it up again in the future.  Highly recommended.

 

F is for Fugitive and G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Title: F Is for Fugitive (Kinsey Millhone Series #6), Author: Sue Grafton F Is For Fugitive. Finished 6-13-19, mystery, pub. 1989

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Floral Beach wasn’t much of a town: six streets long and three deep, its only notable feature a strip of sand fronting the Pacific. It was on that sandy beach seventeen years ago that the strangled body of Jean Timberlake had been found.

And then, by sheer fluke, the cops stumbled on Bailey Fowler. And a case seventeen years dead came murderously to life again.

For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son’s reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn’t know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs.    from Goodreads

A cold, cold case and private eye Kinsey Millhone on the case?  Makes for some fun reading.  This one had a very ominous feel with the super creepy family that Kinsey was hired by and living with and the way the town viewed the dead girl with a bit of fear.  Floral Beach is not somewhere I’m adding to my travel list!


Title: G Is for Gumshoe (Kinsey Millhone Series #7), Author: Sue Grafton G Is For Gumshoe. Finished 9-29-19, mystery, pub. 1990

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Good and bad things seem to be coming in threes for Kinsey Millhone: on her thirty-third birthday she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of ex-con Tyrone Patty’s hit list. It’s the last that convinces Kinsey even she can’t handle whoever’s been hired to whack her, and she gets herself a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-driving P.I. who takes guarding Kinsey’s body very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into her case. And before it’s over, she’ll unearth the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal and, in the process, come fact-to-face with her own mortality. . .    from Goodreads 

I’m enjoying this series the further along I get.  Kinsey moves back into her newly remodeled apartment just in time for a death threat and a need to hire a bodyguard.  She also takes a case that gets her out of town for a bit, but that doesn’t stop the attempt on her life.  There’s a mystery spanning a generation and a bit of romance with a solid (and single!) guy.  Can’t wait to continue on with more Kinsey adventures.

Ohio Presidents: A Whig and Seven Republicans by Dale Thomas

Title: Ohio Presidents: A Whig and Seven Republicans, Author: Dale Thomas Ohio Presidents. Finished 9-17-19. rating 4/5, history, 128 pages, pub. 2019

Eight presidents have roots in Ohio, where today these communities take pride in their heritage. William Henry Harrison, a Whig, served the shortest period of time as any president, but his legacy is the campaign strategy of 1840. Northern Whigs formed the Republican Party in 1854. After the Civil War, Ohio became a swing state for the party in presidential elections.

Ulysses S. Grant’s exceptional leadership in the Civil War contrasted with his problems as president. Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction policies but could not protect the civil rights of African Americans in the South. James A. Garfield died from a gunshot fired by a disappointed office seeker. His death led to the first civil service laws. Benjamin Harrison’s administration included policies to improve the Navy and economy, but he failed to win re-election. William McKinley won election to the White House, campaigning for conservative policies. He led the nation into the Spanish American War. An anarchist assassinated him, and Theodore Roosevelt became president. Serving two terms, Roosevelt wanted William H. Taft to succeed him as president. He soon criticized Taft for being too conservative. In spite of scandals in his administration, Warren G. Harding had important accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs.   from Goodreads

Ohio is second only to Virginia with number of Presidents it’s produced.  Interestingly, only eight U.S. Presidents have died in office and four of them were from Ohio.  The shortest tenure of any President was William Henry Harrison who fell ill three weeks after inauguration and was dead by day 32.  He was the oldest person to hold the office at 68 years until Ronald Reagan, 1841-1980 is a pretty big gap.  James A. Garfield was assassinated and died at only 6 1/2 months in office.  William McKinley was shot six months into his second term and is considered Ohio’s most successful President.  Warren G. Harding made it two years before dying of a heart attack.

We live within a hour of three presidential libraries and this year I’ve taken Gage and my mother to two.  We’ve visited the memorial of a third, but not his library yet.  The log house he grew up in is less than 10 minutes down the road from us.  Look at that run of three Ohio Presidents in a row!

9- William Henry Harrison 1841

18- Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1977

19- Rutherford B Hayes 1877-1881

20- James A Garfield 1881

25- William McKinley 1897-1901

27- William H Taft 1908-1913

29- Warren G Harding 1921-1923

This book was full of lots of great photos and relevant information put together in a very visually appealing way.  It’s amazing what he packed into this 128 page book.  I loved it.  I actually picked it up at the McKinley Presidential Library this summer.  Fun for those interested in presidential or Ohio history.

Some photos of our recent trips…

IMG_5563This is a replica of Garfield’s childhood home where it stood in Moreland Hills.  We drive by it all the time, but stopped for a pic in March.

The McKinley Museum in Canton is huge and by far the most kid friendly.  We spent all day there in July.

The Hayes Museum and Home in Fremont was wonderful.  It sits on 25 beautifully planned and maintained acres.  The museum is full of artifacts and the house (where he lived after his term in office) tour is interesting and educational.  I wish we’d had more time during our November visit.