Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review!

Title: The Knight
Author: Steven James
ISBN: 9780800732707
Pages: 432
Release Date: August 2009
Publisher: Revell Books
Genre: Christian Fiction, Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher: The stakes have never been higher. FBI Agent Patrick Bowers is used to tracking the country's most dangerous killers, but now it looks like a killer is tracking him. When he realizes the murderer is using clues from a medieval manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes, Bowers faces a race against time to decipher who the next victim will be and to stop the final shocking murder--which he's beginning to believe might be his own. Gritty, chilling, and intense, this psychological thriller is guaranteed to keep you up all night.

My review: This is Steven James' third book, following The Pawn and The Rook, in his best selling series of thrillers. I haven't read the author's other books in this series but if they are anything like The Knight, I don't want to waste another minute before reading them. This is not a simple crime story about a murder, several stabbings or a kidnap for hire. This is a smart, complex and riveting tale about a cunning, ruthless serial killer repeatedly committing unspeakable crimes all aimed at a specific end target. The non-stop, excitement and anxiety build with each turn of the page climaxing with a mind-boggling finish. This taut, intricate thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat, your mind reeling, every step of the way.

Steven James has a talent for crafting intriguing, well-rounded characters. Patrick Bowers, an FBI Criminologist, is intelligent and affable with a healthy ego but he's not trusted by everyone who knows him rendering him a very real player in this engaging tale. The theme of trust and the question of if and when you can trust another person figures prominently in Agent Bowers investigation, not to mention his personal life. Being a single step-dad to a teenage girl, Tessa, he is in a position similar to many single parents trying to balance a demanding job with the needs and desires of a teenager. I really enjoyed when Bowers interacts with his step-daughter although several times I wished I could give him some advice.

Tessa, at sixteen, is very intelligent and almost too aware that there's a world outside of herself, but she struggles to cope with her mother's death a little more than a year prior. She has a lot of pain and sadness that she hides from others, sometimes seeking relief in troubling ways. Agent Bowers knows his job and does it well but he's often at a loss to understand Tessa. And she's not the only female he has difficulty communicating with. His interactions with Detective Cheyenne Warren are awkward and stilting at times, particularly when he thinks of her on other than professional terms resulting in some humorous exchanges. While working with Agent Bowers during the investigation, Detective Warren is confident of herself as an attractive woman and a cop and matches Bowers wit for wit. But when she goes after what she wants, Patrick Bowers isn't prepared because, like so many men, he wants to be in charge. When Agent Bowers and his team are as surprised by some of the twists and turns this story takes as the reader, it's thrilling to follow along as he, Detective Warren and the rest of the team scramble for answers in their fight against a killer's sly, methodical planning and execution.

Agent Bowers' trust in the system he stands for and believes in is threatened when a case from his past demands his attention while he's busy with his current investigation.. He wrestles with his conscience, struggling to determine what is more important to him, truth or justice. Staggering implications lie with either answer. And like so many individuals who spend their lives chasing after ruthless killers, Agent Bowers wonders about the difference between himself and the evil people he pursues. Religion and the Bible are discussed in reference to this part of the story. Only then does Steven James even hint at the Christian values that are the foundation of this story. This book doesn't contain any sex or cursing but the story doesn't suffer as a result and I didn't notice and didn't miss them. I wasn't even aware that this was Christian fiction until after I read it.

Steven James has crafted captivating, intense and complex tale about a smart, vengeful killer who will stop at nothing to attain his desired end and the intriguing, driven people who are determined to stop him.. If you enjoy thrillers you don't want to miss this one!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Review

Title: undiscovered gyrl
Author: Allison Burnett
ISBN: 978-0-307-47312-7
Pages: 293
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Publisher: Only on the internet can you have so many friends and be so lonely. Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.

Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father suffers a terrible fall, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie's fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.

Sexually frank, often heartbreaking, and bursting with devilish humor, Undiscovered Gyrl is an extraordinarily accomplished novel of identity, voyeurism, and deceit.

My Thoughts: I started reading Undiscovered Gyrl thinking it would be a simple, quick read entertaining but somewhat immature for an adult. I expected to read a story that taught a lesson or attempted to instill values and morals, with some of the hokiness of an after school special, in young adults. Well, you know what they say about assuming something.. .ahem! ...well, jus don't! I never read YA Fiction before now but I certainly will after reading this book.

An undiscovered girl is a young girl who doesn’t feel valued, who feels she isn't noticed or is ignored by the world around her. She thinks if she vanished tomorrow nobody would notice. She’ll say that she doesn't want to be noticed but she craves attention for the person she is not the person she appears to be. She fears being forgotten. An undiscovered girl has a family but her family members are wrapped up in their own lives. She is selfish partly because she feels like nobody really wants to know her true self.. She likes to dramatize her life and often over-reacts to even the smallest issues to get attention. An undiscovered girl is insecure and self-conscious because she feels unloved. It's common for her to do whatever it takes to get attention, even if the attention makes her feel badly about herself afterwards. An undiscovered girl is a lost, lonely young girl aching for someone to love her unconditionally and tell her it's okay to be herself. Katie is all of these things and so much more. Katie Kampenfelt is an undiscovered girl like so many female teenagers.

I didn't like or dislike this book. "Like" is too simple a concept for how this book made me feel. Few books have cause me to experience the range of emotions I felt while reading undiscovered gyrl. At different times anger, disgust, sadness, pride, compassion, pity, laughter, aggravation, revulsion and fear coursed through me. Katie made me laugh, scream, grit my teeth, groan and smile intermittently. While reading the bits and pieces of her life she shared, Katie, the main character, appeared insecure and self-conscious like so many young girls today. But she's also arrogant, very intelligent and scared. She makes many poor decisions out of a desire to be loved and doesn't completely grasp the difference between unconditional love and being loved for what you can provide another person such as sex.. Katie's insecurity is partly the result of poor, selfish parenting and lack of attention. Glimpses of the sad little girl who just wants her daddy's love tugged at my heart strings but the drinking, drugging obnoxious Katie annoyed me.

The blog entries that comprise undiscovered gyrl seduce the readers into believing they have an intimate, personal relationship with Katie. Reading her most personal thoughts and being privy to the details of her life feeds the voyeuristic tendencies most of us possess and that have made reality shows so popular. But in actuality we only know what Katie decides to tells us and what she wants us to think or know about her. Katie's flair for the dramatic, common to many teenage girls, enables her to shock people from which she gets significant enjoyment. The jarring, sometimes unbelievable entries that attract numerous and critical readers to Katie's blog, undermines the verity of what she says. Many of the numerous themes that are introduced don't come to fruition because Katie is directing the storyline. The reader is left with a sense of loss which also begs the question of whether we can believe Katie. Her blog entries, the things she writes and the way she writes them makes it difficult to trust what she says.

Once I started reading this book, it was difficult to put down. As much as several of Katie's blog entries made me cringe while others disgusted me, Katie definitely got under my skin. I was rooting for her halfway though the book. I was extremely disappointed by the end of this book for many different reasons. But that's all I'm going to say about that!

I think this is an especially good book for the parents of a young girl or anyone who is caring for a young girl because it touches on so many of the issues young girls confront growing up in the world today. It's also a good book for older teenagers, for some it may even serve as a wake-up call. Katie is smart, beautiful and wants to be loved. She has so much potential. But she seems to be teetering on the edge, about to plunge into the dark side. She needs someone to grab her up, hug her, ease her insecurities and tell her it's going to be okay before it's too late. The same goes for so many young girls today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Over Coffee !

Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere.
Self-pity gets you nowhere.
One must have the adventurous daring to accept
oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most
interesting game in the world—making the most of one’s best.
~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

It's so easy to let our handicaps, our flaws even our quirks prevent us from doing our best and exploring the limitless potential we all have. I have always worried, still do, about the things I can't do, my physical limitations ( oh boy have I cried and fretted over them ugh!) as well as the talents I don't have. It's such a waste to fret over that which we can't do when there is so much we can do. I know for everyone of my limitations and weaknesses, I have 2, 3, 10 strengths. That's what I need to always focus on - exploring and nurturing the talents, the potential I do have. When I dedicate myself to the things I can do, my flaws become much smaller, some even insignificant. And I shine!
It's going to be a beautiful day! The humidity is virtually gone - wooo hooo! The sun is peeking out from behind some pretty clouds. There's no time like now to aspire to greatness!
I just need some coffee first! lolol
Have a brilliant, happy day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A vist to the 1920s and the "Gold Coast"!

I grew up on the North Shore of Long Island in New York. I lived 25 miles from New York City in a beautiful town along the Long Island Sound . I was a 2-minute drive from the beach and a 20-minute drive from the ocean, across the Island on the south shore. My house was a beautiful 3-bedroom house with a very pretty back yard not quite an acre in size. All along the north shore from Great Neck out to Huntington and on into Suffolk County (I lived in Nassau County) mansions dotted the coast line. Gorgeous, old mansions with splendid estates reached by long drives up to the home and beautiful gates kept closed at the beginning of that drive to keep out the gawkers and nosey-pokers (me!)

I read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby when I was a teenager (and several times since!). I loved thinking about the north shore during the early part of the 20th century when the estates and mansions were the primary residences dotting the coast and there wasn't much else to see but nature, and a few farms. During the "roaring '20s" and some years prior, the North Shore of Long Island, dubbed the "Gold Coast", was considered glamorous and brilliant people by "millionaires", oil men, financiers, who owned yachts and race horses and were always seen in the company of beautiful, lavishly dressed women.

So when This Stop Willoughby crafted this lovely challenge:

{This sounds like a challenge! Here are the rules: You will stay in the time and place you choose for 24 hours, and you can interact with anyone, but you may not alter history in any way (meaning you can't prevent a death, stop an event from happening or introduce items/ideas not available in that time). Creativity is highly encouraged! If you accept this challenge but don't want to post it to your own blog, feel free to share your time travel story in my comment section. }

I had a very good idea of where I wanted to go!

I would like to be transported back to a Saturday in June 1925, it's about 2p.m. I am in Schrafft's, a popular Manhattan restaurant. Many young women gathered here for lunch or tea on Saturdays. I listen as they quietly gossip about the wealthy families with the beautiful homes along the "Gold Coast" and the affairs, fighting and scandals among family members that they read about in the society pages. Talk eventually turned to the night ahead. What were the plans? Sometimes it would be toasting the night at El Morocco or dancing at the Hotel Pennsylvania but the best night was always when one or another of the group had an invitation for her and several friends to a Ball being held at one of the Gold Coast mansions!
Since I'm "visiting" I get the chance to follow them and drop in on all the activities!

There is conversation everywhere about all sorts of issues. It's an exciting time in the country. The economy is bouncing-back from a recession as a result of President Harding's "return to normalcy" plan and economic stimulus policies following World War I which led to the economic boom during Calvin Coolidge's presidency. Both Harding and Coolidge reduced taxes for the rich and encouraged spending. President Coolidge also blocked government intrusion into private business (laissez-faire) and the Federal Reserve expanded credit. Americans felt like there was money to spend and they spent it. Many would over-extend themselves taking advantage of the credit and soaring stock-market which would lead to big problems later on but for now it was a celebratory time.

During World War I women were needed in the work force. This aided in the movement for women's suffrage and in August 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. the idea that woman could have a career and a family began to take hold. A greater variety of jobs were available to women and laws were being passed improving work conditions. Women began attending colleges and state universities. Progress can take time though. Most of the classes women took were home economics, "Husband and Wife", "Motherhood" (they offered such classes!). Many women attended college with the idea of finding a suitable husband.

Radios were the first mass broadcasting medium. Radios were inexpensive and extremely popular. Coolidge made us of them in his presidency and radio programs became as varied and numerous as TV programming today. Radios had a significant role in popularizing Jazz music. Jazz was becoming powerful symbol of NY's cultural scene and, considered sophisticated, decadent and modern, it was a popular mode of expression in the day. Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith came to NY during the '20's. But the majority of people listened to what we would call "sweet music"

The first film in color rather than black & white came out in 1922, Toll of the Sea and in 1926 sound effects and music were introduced with Disney's Don Juan. The Jazz Singer introduced dialogue into movies in 1927.

Ballrooms sponsored dance contests where dancers invented different movements, honed their skills and competed with tap dancing became popular. Electric lighting made socializing in the evening easier and more comfortable. Dance Halls and and live music became popular and people danced the waltz and tango, Lindy Hop, Foxtrot and the Charleston.

The 1920's was a period that saw the emergence of many notable authors. D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover was published to great a scandal! F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise about youth and morality after WWI. Sinclair Lewis wrote Main Street his satire about small town life versus the big city which became one of the most popular novels of its time. He followed this with Babbitt satirizing American commercial culture. Edith Wharton wrote The Age of Innocence about upper-class NYC in the 1870s winning the 1921 Pulitzer Prize (although originally the prize was meant for Main Street but the Board of Trustees rejected it!). This is just a smattering of the amazing, wonderful books published in the 1920s.

Transportation was by water, railroad or car. Cars were a luxury before the war but began to be mass produced shortly after. The North Shore Division was a newly electrified aspect of the Long Island Railroad with improved service. It was quite common towards the weekend to see crowds of well-dressed young people disembark from the train at various stations along the north shore and await transportation by auto to the various estates. Some of the prettiest, most stylish of the young women hoped to be met by the handsome, dashing young sons of the financiers and oil barons who headed the "Gold Coast" estates. Sure enough, peeling down the street in a Model T, goggles askew, scarf trailing in the wind wearing a linen duster, was a young man looking for his friends and their dates!

I'm going to stop in at as many of the homes as I can and watch as they continue their conversations or, more likely, dance the night away at:

Oheka Castle, the french chateau home of the financier Otto Kahn in Cold Spring Harbor with views of the water, tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, the largest private greenhouse complex, a landing strip and an 18-hole golf course with many orchards on 443 acres. The mansion had 126 rooms with a ball room large enough for 200 people to dine and dance attended by 200 servants.

Considered somewhat the inspiration for The Great Gatsby, today, Oheka Castle is a very popular locale for weddings

The Sand's Point home of Daniel Guggenheim resembles an Irish Castle. It was originally built by Jay Gould for his wife Viola Catherine Clemmons, an actress, who wanted a replica of Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. Jay Gould sent an architect to Ireland to study the castle, he returned and attempted to build a replica but wasn't able to. Viola Clemmons didn't want the house and so it became the home of one of the Guggenheim's. Daniel Guggenheim built an English Castle for his mansion and the Irish Castle became the stables.
It's now called Hempstead House and is part of the Sands Point Preserve.

John Phipps, the heir to a U.S. Steel fortune, built a 700 room mansion on over 100 acres. The house was built in the style of an English Manor House and many of the furnishings and artwork remain today. The gardens were inspired by Phipps English wife, Margarita Grace and resemble a formal English garden. They include a pond, numerous rose bushes and a walled garden. This is Westbury Gardens today, the best preserved Gold Coast mansion and estate.

"Laurelton Hall" was built over-looking Cold Spring Harbor in Laurel Hollow. Built by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the VP and Director of Tiffany and Company and an artist and designer, it's an 82 room, 25 bath mansion on 600 acres. The house itself was a work of art and within its walls were many of Tiffany's notable works. The estate soon served as a school for artists run by Tiffany and his foundation. A chapel was built on the ground with Tiffany windows and a separate gallery.

The Pratt family lived on several estates throughout Glen Cove. The Manor was a brick Georgian Mansion on a 55-acre estate belonging to John and Ruth Pratt. He was an attorney and an executive with Standard Oil and Ruth Baker Pratt was the first Rebuplican Congresswoman from New York and representing the "silk stocking" district.
Today it is Harrison House Hotel and Conference Center.

Welwyn in Glen Cove was the family home and 204 acre estate of Harold Pratt. This home ended at the beach from which Harold had all of the stones removed, and much of the ground contained plant life and trees of significant botanical interest since he and his wife, Harriett Barnes, was a horticulturalist. In order to take advantage of the breath-taking water views, Harold Pratt built a "Temple of Love' on the highest point of the estate.
Today Welwyn is the The Holocaust Memorial and Education Center of Nassau County and the estate grounds are a nature preserve open to the public which contain beautiful, straight Tulip Trees.

It's time for me to return to my normal life. I hope you enjoyed the trip to the roaring '20s and the "Gold Coast"! These are just a few of the many mansions and estates that were part of the Gold Coast. I really enjoyed researching this and want to do much more research so periodically an estate may show up in these pages!

(I relied mostly on Wikpedia and The Long Island Sound: a history of its people, places, and environment By Marilyn E. Weigold on Google books)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Book Blab - This is her very first giveaway!!
360 Degrees Longitude 9/1

Peeking Between the Pages
Time of My Life 9/12
(and many more!)

Park-Avenue Princess
Summer of Two Wishes 9/9
How it Ends 9/22
CSN Bookcase/Bookshelf

Bookin' with Bingo
A Better View of Paradise 9/2
The Divorce Party 9/4
Summer of Two Wishes 9/6
Sweet Mandarin 9/1

Booking Mama
The White Queen 9/1
Labor Day 9/4

Chick with Books
Up for Renewal 9/5

Luxury Reading
Italian for Beginners 8/31
The Divorce Party 9/4

Lori's Reading Corner
I, Alex Cross and Alex Cross' Trial 9/7

All About {n}
Rude Awakening of a Jane Austen Addict 8/29
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict 8/29
Dark Hunger 8/29

The Shady Glade
How to Steal a Car 8/31

Addicted to Books
4 different books including Tangled and After

Lauren Nicole Gifts
Vera Bradley Patchwork Tote 8/27 (midnight)

Mrs. Magoo Reads
The Miles Between 8/31

Chocolate & Croissants
Jantzen's Gift 8/30

Have Fun and Good Luck!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Movie Monday!

Gran Torino
2008 American drama film

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley, Doua Moua, John Carroll Lynch, Brian Haley, Brian Howe, Choua Kuo, Geraldine Hughes, Dreama Walker.

Producer and Director: Clint Eastwood

116 minute
Music: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens

Language: English, Hmong {subtitled}
Screenplay: Nick Schenk; Story: Dave Johannson, Nick Schenk
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Walt Kowalski, a recent widower, is an elderly, polish man.and Korean War veteran living in Highland Park, Michigan with his adorable golden retriever, Daisy. Walt is a cantankerous and grumpy, but ultimately lovable, curmudgeon who has an awkward relationship with his two grown sons. Over the years, Walt's neighborhood has changed from working-class white families to Asian immigrants. A Hmong family he is not friendly with, lives next door to Walt. Sue, the daughter of this family, decides to befriend Walt. Soon racial tensions, gang warfare and other pressures fall at Walt's doorstep alternately enriching and threatening his way of thinking and his life.

Figuring prominently in the movie, almost a character in its own right, is Walt's most precious possession (next to Daisy, of course!), a 1972 Ford Gran Torino, lovingly maintained and cared for by Walt since he first worked on it at his job as a Ford factory worker.

I thought this was a fantastic movie. The acting, particularly Eastwood's, was superb. It's amazing that at 78 he is still going so strong. He embodied his character completely. It was pretty amazing! The story is very interesting and addresses issues quite current in today's society, especially with the economic problems in our country, and well-rounded. It's about relationships, friendship, hate, anger, fear, life and death, apathy, the generation gap, cultural identity and ignorance. This movie has humor, pathos, drama, tension, compassion, understanding, anger and fear . I highly recommend it!

Clint Eastwood won a Best Actor from the National Board of Review
American Film Institute's One of the Ten best films of 2008
Clint Eastwood is nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. (Critics' Choice Awards)
He is nominated for Best Actor by the Washinton D.C. Area Film Critics Assoc.

Happy Monday Musings!

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions--the little
soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look,
a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals
of pleasurable and genial feeling.
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This is Mr. Magoo or Magoo. He is a very happy cat and usually looks like he is smiling. He has huge eyes that are crossed giving him an adorable, goofy look much of the time. He also has a beautiful, loud purr. I love when my cats are happy. I'd say 90% of the day they are happy. Not bad, uh?! Cats know what they like and they take care of themselves. They eat, sleep, play, clean themselves, bask in the sun and relax. It's a pretty nice life. No wonder they are happy! It's simple things that make them happy. That's one of the things my cats have taught me, happiness comes from the simple, everyday things, like Coleridge is also saying. The happiness of life comes from the little things. It's so easy to overlook them and many a day I do. But I'm learning. Please, have a happy day!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Keep Laughing!

I was thinking about Maine this morning, the cool morning air, the spray of water across my face as waves crash against the rocks, the lapping of the water against the shore , the faint sound of gulls in the distance, it's the lullaby of the sea I have read about and heard as well. So beautiful.
And then I read this:

How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth
that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout.
The courteous gesture increases one’s respect for others. To act lovingly
is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others
which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe we are called to the duty of delight.
~ Dorothy Day
I love the idea of a duty of delight, to be joyful, to act joyfully in order to make others feel joyful. What a wonderful ability to have. To actually feel purely joyful and delighted doesn't happen all of the time (in my experience, anyway). I'm thinking about that pure, ecstatic, delighted feeling that causes laughter to bubble up from deep inside you, the kind of laughter that comes from feeling utterly and completely happy, as if the sun is shining from within you and all is right with the world. That kind of feeling, that laughter doesn't happen all of the time but it's lovely when it does.

I am very fortunate in that my husband delights in making people laugh, especially me. He tells me almost everyday, after I've been laughing at something he said or did, how much he loves to hear me laugh. He's good at it too. He's witty, quick thinking, great at one-liners and very observant. He's also wonderful at accents and at any given time I am living with someone who sounds irish, scottish, australian, italian, german, southern or like several different animated characters such as Homer Simpson and other Springfield in habitants. It's fun and entertaining and occasionally (but not too often) I roll my eyes! LOL

The photos are of York and Camden Maine, Neddick Light in York (top) and the Portland Head Light Station (bottom). Looking at these photos makes me feel happy.

I hope you have a funny Friday!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Amy Rants!

Oh no, life as we've known it will never exist again, the beginning of the end is at hand! Michelle Obama is wearing shorts while on vacation at the Grand Canyon. Tell me it isn't so!

I cannot believe I have been hearing this all morning on the Today Show! The first time I heard Matt Lauer as if it was appropriate dress, I thought it was a joke, literally!

What is the big deal about Michelle Obama wearing shorts? She is on vacation at the Grand Canyon. Is she supposed to wear a LBD, a cocktail dress, a freaking ball gown? C'mon people! And I thought the heat was getting to me!
I know she's held to a higher standard because as First Lady she represents our country but this is going too far, off-the-deep-end crazy! It's not even as if she's wearing short shorts, she's wearing a perfectly nice pair of mid-thigh shorts! And she looks good in them! And she's on vacation at the Grand Canyon! It's hot in Arizona! Most other sane people would also wear shorts! There is nothing inappropriate about her shorts.

It doesn't matter that she walked off Air Force One wearing a pair of shorts. It isn't a big deal. She looks just fine, good in fact. It's absolutely ridiculous to even suggest she should change her clothes before exiting Air Force One or getting in the limo.

By the way, Michelle Obama has proven that she knows how to dress. She looks nice and is always dressed. I don't always like her clothes but most of the time I do. She is always respectful in dress and manner and I think those people making a big deal out of a pair of shorts should find something more important to do with their time.

The amount of press commenting on Michelle Obama's shorts is ridiculous. It's embarrassing! There are so many problems in our country and in this world. But on Wednesday August 19, 2009 the First Lady's shorts is one of the top items being discussed in the media. It is so embarrassing!

I hope she wears jeans one day come fall! {Heee, heee}

Okay, I'm done! :o)

Good morning!

This is my beautiful baby kitty, Sadie. She has quite a story and I will tell it soon. Today I wanted to show her off, isn't she so cute? She has very large, bright green eyes - the picture doesn't show how amazing they are.
The picture below shows what happens when she is sitting on the cable box and suddenly falls asleep. Her head just "thunks"! and sits resting on the shelf! lol She stays like this for 5 or 10 minutes, finally waking up to move to a more comfortable position!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Introducing Amy World!

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

~ John Keats

It's a hot, humid day here already. I don't like it! [grumpy face] lol I love the sun, swimming, the beach but I like it on warm (not hot) days, with a light breeze or just barely hot days that start off cool and, when the sun goes down, are cool again, almost cool enough for a sweater. Sounds lovely doesn't it? I think I will call it Amy World! Honestly, as the years go by (i.e. I get older) it feels like I tolerate the heat and humidity less and less. It seems to bother me more every year. At this rate, I'm going to have to summer in Alaska in 20 years! lol Probably the worst part of it is I started (that's what ladies do, right? hmmmmm lol) a great deal 2/3 years ago. I don't like it! {grumpy face] It makes my glasses slide down my nose! Yesterday I was bending over to pet Sadie when my glasses started sliding and slid right off my nose, flew into the air and landed on Sadie. She was not impressed and stalked off while I was laughing. It was pretty funny! lol But this sweating stuff definitely has no place in Amy World. hrumpff!

I saw some beautiful paintings this weekend by one of my favorite artists, Mary Cassatt. {the painting above is Mary Sara Holding a Cat (1908) }. I think she's a fascinating and inspiring woman. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1844 and began studying painting at a young age. Her family never fully supported her career as an artist. Her family, particularly her father, was just one of several difficulties Mary encountered during her burgeoning career. Many peole saw painting as more of a hobby for women than a career. At the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts women were not allowed to use live models and in paris Cassatt could not attend Ecole des Beaux-Arts because women weren't yet welcome here. But thank goodness she was not deterred. Around 1877 she was invited by Edgar Degas to show her work with the Impressionists and exhibited with them for many years. She died in 1926 having never married. About 12 years before her death, she became an active proponent of women's suffrage. In 1915 she exhibited 18 works in support of her cause.

I think all of her works are beautiful but I've always adored her series of mother and child paintings. Critics call them unsentimental and maybe they're meant to be that way but I don't see it. I think they're sweet, loving, tender, content and joyful. Fortunately for me, the Met has a great collection of her paintings! These paintings are definitely a part of Amy World!

Breakfast in Bed and below, Summertime

Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Monday!

Sheri at A Novel Menagerie hosts Monday's Movie. I watched two movie from Netflix this week so I thought I would tell you about them!

Foreign Film with subtitles (German)

Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

137 minutes

Starring: Ulriche Muhe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch &Ulrich Tukur

This drama is the debut film of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It is loosely based on true events. Agents of the Stasi, the GDR's Secret Police monitor the cultural scene in East Berlin. The movie begins with the interrogation of a prisoner by Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, who is using the interrogation to instruct a class he is teaching on techniques of for interrogation. You quickly realize how strict this societ is and how difficult it is to behave properly. The littlest things is taking as a slight against the government.

Captain Wiesler is soon recruited to monitor a playwright named Georg Dreyman who is suspected of pro-Western sympathies. Dreyman lives with his girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland an actress. It seems a top minister, Hempf, has his eye on Christa-Maria.

The secret monitoring of Dreyman and, consequently, Christa-Maria, as well as the atmosphere and morals in society during this time, has unexpected effects on the individuals who touch their lives.

This movie is about love, loyalties, corruption, values, beliefs, passion, how far a person can be pushed, what happens when beliefs held dear are suddenly trampled upon and so much more. This was a terrific movie that made me think about many things and also made me so very grateful for where I live and the era in which I live.

An American Crime

True Crime drama
98 minutes
Starring: Catherine Keener, Ellen Page, Hayley McFarland, Evan Peters, Nick Searcy, Romi Rosemont, Ari Graynor and James Franco
This is the true story about the life of sisters Sylvia and Jenny Likens when they boarded with Indiana housewife Gertrude (Gertie) Baniszewski in 1965 while their parents, Lester and Betty Likens toured with a professional carnival.
Gertrude had 6 children of her own and was in dire financil straits. She had other issues too and took her anger, frustration, sadness and jealousy out on Sylvia, the older of the Likens girls. Sylvia became the scapegoat for a woman not in control of her own life or her children, a woman with loose morals and in denial about her life and her children.
Gertie could be downright mean at times and, for some reason, had a profound influence over many of her children's friends. The Baniszewski children and their friends exhibited a Lord of the Flies mob mentality towards Sylvia. In addition, Gertie's children accepted Gertie's cruelty, neglect and abuse displaying a kind of Stockholm Syndrome mentality. Finally, Gertie's neighbors heard terrible screams coming from the house but felt that "it was better not to get involved". Even Sylvia's sister, Jenny, a polio victim, did little to help her.
This was a difficult movie for me to watch. I wasn't aware of the story when we rented it or I might not have watched it. I like true crime shows and this has a wonderful cast. But the violence and cruelty in this movie, directed at a child, made it hard to stomach.
This movie was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. The director, Tommy O'Haver was asked several times why he got involved with this move. He grew up in Indiana and said he was always haunted by this case.

Some Great Giveaways!

More great book giveaways!

Princess Bookie is giving away a tremendous assortment of books, books, books until 8/24!

A Novel Menagerie is celebratring her 1st Blogoversary with a great giveaway until the end of August!

She's also giving away This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper 8/19

and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society 8/20

Peeking Between the Pages continue to offer wonderful giveaways including:

Twenties Girl 8/22

Hugh & Bess 8/30

Damas, Dramas and Anna Ruiz 8/30

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre 9/5


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mad Men Sunday!

In less than an hour, Mad Men returns to the airways for its third season. The writing, the acting, the fashions, the directing, it's all top-notch. If you're not already a fan, tune in for an hour and ENJOY!! It's worth it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Title: Fear the Worst
Author: Lynton Barclay
ISBN: 978-0-553-80716-5
Pages: 399
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Bantam Publishing
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Summary: Sydney Blake’s summer is shaping up to be typical for a teenager: she’s spending it with her father, and she has landed a part-time job at a local hotel. One night, Syd fails to come home from her shift, and her father Tim begins to panic after he visits the hotel and the manager claims that Syd has never worked there. As the list of unanswered questions grows, all Tim knows for certain is that he must continue searching for his daughter no matter how high the stakes become.

Fear the Worst, like most stories in the genre of thriller fiction is plot-based and relatively simple. It's the story of single dad, Tim Blake, spending the summer reconnecting with his teenage daughter, Syd. But what grabs the reader's attention from the start is that Syd goes missing after only her second week at a new job . What ensues is a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride with twists and turns around every bend that keeps the pages turning quickly. A law-abiding dad who will leave no stone unturned to find his only daughter is something readers can understand and sympathize with, if not necessarily relate to. Of course, Blake's anguish makes sense as does some of his less-then-sound judgments considering that he's frantic to find Syd.
I found two basic problems with the book, however. First, too many plot tangents in the search for Syd are left hanging and never resolved and second, some of those that are resolved don't make sense. At times the story seemed little more than a vehicle for a mild-mannered dad to become this centuries' James Bond.

Tim Blake is a likeable character and a good dad. He's also one of only two or three fully developed characters in the book. Unfortunately, his daughter Syd, is barely two dimensional and we only know Tim loves her instinctively as a father. The why's of it and details of who Syd is are few and far between. Another main character, Detective Jennings (who appears to have a partner in only one scene, which also seems to be a contrivance of convenience), conducts almost no investigations and asks few questions of anyone beyond Tim Blake, leaving us to wonder if she's implicating him. Beyond making the most basic of connections the police seem unable to get anything accomplished in the story. Their very ineptness makes Tim look like a regular Perry Mason.

This roller-coaster ride of a story comes to a sudden end leaving the reader with several unanswered questions. I turned the page expecting a final chapter or an epilogue and discovered the story was over. The story doesn't need to be wrapped in a nice package and tied with a bow at the end, but when plot lines are left hanging and too many characters lives unexplained, it leaves the reader feeling like something is missing and looking for more. Fear the Worst is an exciting story filled with adventure, intrigue and suspense that left this reader wishing for resolution, clarity and a more comprehensive ending.

Saturday musings!

True happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment,which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed. ~Dalai Lama

This is a picture of a kitten named Cassy who lived with us for a short time until we found her a loving home. She is a beautiful cat with soft, fluffy fur and a crazy personality. She loved to play and had the energy of ten cats! But when she got tired she would suddenly pass out wherever she was, her little head would nod a few times and then "wumpf"! hit the bed and she was out.

We like to spend Saturday morning working on the Sunday NY Times crossword, watching taped episodes of First 48 or a movie from Netflix and spending time with the kitties, if life permits! Today, so far, I learned that Scotland is known as "The land of cakes" because of the Scots love of oatcakes, money in Iceland is called "krona" and my cat, Daisy, likes a little pancakes with syrup for breakfast!

I really appreciate the kind comments regarding my last blog about the disability I have. I was a little hesitant to say much at first. The physical maifestation of the disease results in numerous stares when I go out and, although I am used to it after all thesae years, it doesn't mean I like it. When I started blogging, I didn't initially realize there was nothing about it in my profile, it's not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my life despite that fact that I had to stop working because of my disability. That doesn't sound like it makes sense but it does. In my life, most days, being disabled is just part of me so it doesn't stand out for me. But after I thought about it for a while, it felt a little disingenuous not to talk about it. I'm not embarassed about it and I know it's shaped the person I am. I also know some people will like me less because of it, some will like me more but most people it won't matter too. Thank you!

Jane gave me some wonderful book recommendations! Thank you! I love recommendations! Has anybody heard of, or better yet, read A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell, a novel sequence of twelve-volumes. Yep, 12! I never heard about it until hubbie read about the books in God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens. The books sound interesting but 12 seems like a lot. If anybody has read some or all of them or knows anything about them, I'd love ot know!

I have some reviews to write and Saturday things to do! I hope you have a lovely Saturday!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wonderful World of Books!

Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors ~ Joseph Addison

My mom was an avid reader for as long as I can remember. She had a book with her whenever we left the house and, at home, there were books everywhere. She read classic literature, best-selling fiction, some historical fiction, biographies as well as art books, gardening books and cookbooks. I don't recall her reading much non-fiction. Mom was an english major in college and she also loved to paint in oils and watercolors. She passed her love of reading on to me (unfortunately, the sketching and painting gene doesn't seem to have taken hold...yet... I'm patiently waiting for it to bloom...still waiting... lol).

It's funny how things happen - my love of reading is a blessing and has saved me from boredom, fear, loneliness, sadness and so much more. A rare bone and endocrine disease present at birth necessitated I undergo yearly surgeries, often twice a year, from the early age of 4. The bulk of the surgeries occurred by my late 'teens with a smattering over the ensuing years until (so far) age 32. Growing up wasn't that easy (is it really for any one of us?! lol). I spent a lot of time alone and with adults, away from children my own age. When I was with children my own age, there were many activites in which I couldn't participate. Books saved me. I always had a couple with me and I was always reading. The doctors and nurses who didn't know me personally at Babies Hospital at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, knew me as the girl who loves to read. My family, my friends, my mom's friends all knew that I loved to read and often contributed to my "stash"! lol Books took me away to different worlds, different lives and backgrounds, they let me learn about things I didn't know about, have adventures I couldn't have in my real life and they kept me company during, long lonely nights in the hospital, during a friends roller-skating party or any time pain, a bad dream or something else woke me up in the middle of the night. (I know books have done the same for many other people).

I read almost all of the books (except for the ones I wasn't interested in, such as books about vampires, monsters, some sci-fi) in the YA section of our library by age 13. My mom didn't know what to do. She didn't want to set me loose in the adult section of the library because she was afraid I would read books filled with sex! lol My mom didn't even want me to read "Are You There God it's Me Margaret? by Judy Blume. (I did, but I didn't tell mom and I definitely didn't tell her that Forever was passed around my 7th grade classroom with the "steamy" pages dog-eared! lol). Enter Agatha Christy, Phyllis Whitney, some P.D. James, among others. My mother believed these authors wouldn't go heavy on the sex scenes if they even had any in their books. I thoroughly enjoyed these books, they were riveting, exciting, sometimes funny and my soul wasn't tarnished! It was a win-win situation! A couple of years later my mom started giving me the classics to read - The Bronte Sisters, Edith Wharton, Hemingway and Faulkner. Of course, I majored in English (with an eye towards law school!) and would have been happy to study for another 4 years. I loved my english classes and wanted to take more!

That leads me to this list: The BBC think most people have only read about 6 out of 100 books on this list. How many have you read? I got this from Jessica at A BookLover's Diary (It's originally from Jaimie at For the Love of All That is Written)

If you want to, copy this list into your into your notes or blog and put an X next to the books you've read. Let me know what you've read and tell your book loving friends to c'mon over and check out this list!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X)

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien ()

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (X)

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X)

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)

6 The Bible (X)

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (X)

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ()

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X)

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (X)

2 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (X)

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (X)

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ()

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier(X)

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ()

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ()

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (X)

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (X)

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ()

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ()

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (X)

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (X)

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (X)

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ()

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (X)

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (X)

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens ()

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (X)

34 Emma-Jane Austen (X)

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (X)

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein ()

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ()

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (X)

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (X)

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (X)

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (X)

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ()

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X)

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ()

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (X)

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X)

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (X)

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (X)

52 Dune - Frank Herbert ()

53 Cold Comfort Farm ()

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (X)

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ()

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ()

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ()

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (X)

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon (X)

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (X)

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (X)

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (X)

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt (X)

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (X)

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas ()

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (X)

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ()

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (X)

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ()

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (X)

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X)

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (X)

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ()

75 Ulysses - James Joyce ()

76 The Inferno – Dante (X)

)77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ()

78 Germinal - Emile Zola ()

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (X)

80 Possession - AS Byatt (X)

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (X)

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ()

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (X)

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ()

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X)

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ()

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (X)

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (X)

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (X)

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ()

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad ()

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ()

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (X)

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (X)

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ()

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas ()

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X)

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (X)

I've read 66. Many I read in college and I've thought often about re-reading the classics and I will at some point. I'm also going to read several books on this list that I haven't read yet, like the Kite Runner!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Tail of Unexpected Love!!

A few posts ago you met Dopey. There aren't many photos of him since he doesn't really like being photographed but Hennessey is helping us bring him around!

Hennessey is a little more than two-years old. She appeared in our driveway one day, just a little ball of white fluff. She was with her brother, Huxley (our other white cat, big white cat!) She was small, very timid and hungry. Everyday, Hennessey and Huxley came to our home to eat but then they left. They seemed too small to live on the streets but they weren't ready to cohabitate with humans. So we kept an eye on them, particularly my husband and we fed them everyday. Within 3 or 4 months, Huxley came inside but it took Hennessey a couple more months.

Hennessey still didn't trust us but she was coming inside for a warm place to rest and to get some food. We discovered that she loved to play. She ran up and down the hallways chasing balls and loved to try to catch the red dot of the laser pointer!

Hennessey is not a mushy, affectionate cat. She likes to be petted occasionally on her head and have her cheeks scratched, but that's about it. And believe it or not, too much affection, even the kind she likes, actually makes her angry! lol

When we moved to our new home (she did not like being put in a cat carrier and my poor husband didn't like putting her in one. After nearly an hour long chase and enough scratches that made his arms look like a road map, Hennessy was successfully crated and hubby survived!) the cats spent more time around each other than usual while they were acclimating to the new place, exploring the different smells and always making sure we weren't too far away. Our sedentary, mellow Dopey decided to play macho kitty and, at different times of the day, he would chase and attack another cat, depending on who was in his sights at the time. When it happened to be Hennessey, she wasn't having any of it and she gives as good as she gets so Dopey backed off her pretty quickly!

But soon after that, poor Hennessey went into heat (she wasn't fixed yet, obviously!) Suddenly we were overrun with tomcats from all over the neighborhood. (That's how Yorick came into our lives - but he's a different & bittersweet story for another day.) They were jumping in through the window and finding their way in downstairs, a different cat in the basement rafters every night, and the sounds of poor Hennessey yowling through the night left us groggy, grouchy and anxious to bring her in asap to the "Vee Eee Tee" (never let them hear the actual word!) To our shock, Dopey wouldn't leave her alone despite the other cats. He followed her around for a week. We thought he was too old to care or bother with this kind of thing, but he's been surprising us a lot since we've known him, and men never really tire of "it" anyway, do they?! Periodically he would get on top of her and have his way. Or try to. But we quickly realized Dopey wasn't really sure how to finish what he started. He'd use his teeth to grab Hennessey's fur near her neck, and then stand there. Hennessey wasn't impressed with the idea to begin with but when Dopey couldn't figure out what to do she got mad. She would twist and turn, there was some loud meowing/yelling that built to a giant, pathetic yelp, then a leaping and suddenly standing alone, Dopey, looking confused as Hennessey went about eating or cleaning her fur as if nothing had happened! Dopey still occasionally trys his moves on Hennessey and the whole scenario is repeated!

We thought Hennessey would stear clear of Dopey after his aggressive male behavior. Boy were we wrong! And just like a woman who suddenly wants what she can't have, as soon as she realized Dopey wasn't "interested", she started flirting with him! She would run or sidle up to him, nip at him or meow (fyi: Hennessey has the worst sounding meow, it's like the last gasps of a giant rat - a slicing, nasal plea!) and then run away, turning around to make sure he was following her. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw her do this. But hubbie had seen her doing it too, more than once! Dopey fell for it, hook, line and sinker, of course! Before long they were following each other home at dinner time, nuzzling each other, making wierd sounds at each other and sleeping together. This has been going on for many months now. Sometimes they will come home at different times but they look for each other, Hennessey especially. When she sees him, she'll run up to him and lightly head-butt him and mew at him. Dopey will nuzzle her and lick her head and face and after they both eat they leave together. The other night Dopey wasn't home, we hadn't seen him all day. Hennessey kept looking around for him and when she couldn't find him she went outside and sat in front of the apartment waiting for him. When he still didn't show up, she left. Ten minutes later in came Hennessey followed by Dopey!
Now they behave like an old married couple. They have a quick conversation when they see each other, Dopey will back off food if she's interested and wait for her to finish, and they more than occassionally get on each other's nerves, yell a little, stalk off to their corners and then it's just as quickly and off they go together. It must be love!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Review of Undone by Karin Slaughter.

Title: Undone
Author: Karin Slaughter
ISBN: 978-0385-34196-7
Pages: 436
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: Someone had spent time with her -- someone well-practiced in the art of pain... Three years ago former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton moved to Atlanta hoping to leave her tragic past behind her. Now working as a doctor in Atlanta's Grady Hospital she is starting to piece her life together. But when a severely wounded young woman is brought in to the emergency room, she finds herself drawn back into a world of violence and terror. The woman has been hit by a car but, naked and brutalized, it's clear that she has been the prey of a twisted mind. When Special Agent Will Trent of the Criminal Investigation Team returns to the scene of the accident, he stumbles on a torture chamber buried deep beneath the earth. And this hidden house of horror reveals a ghastly truth - Sara's patient is just the first victim of a sick, sadistic killer. Wrestling the case away from the local police chief, Will and his partner Faith Mitchell find themselves at the center of a grisly murder hunt. And Sara, Will and Faith - each with their own wounds and their own secrets - are the only thing that stands between a madman and his next crime...

Every one of us has experienced some kind of trauma that has caused undue stress and psychological pain. As a result many have become unable to function properly. But eventually, we are able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward. Undone, a grisly tale of torture and brutality explores how much people can take before they begin to unravel.
What unites the main characters in Undone is the investigation of a series of horrific crimes that begins when a woman escapes a sadomasochist's torture, only to be hit by a car but continues to fight for life. Through the course of the book, the principal characters suffer psychological pain and pressure, coming undone to varying degrees, if only for a short time. While confronting the savage brutality inflicted on the women and the horrifying implements of torture, the main characters realize what they have to be grateful for and where their support and loyalties lie.

Dr. Sara Linton discovers you don't know how strong you are until you are tested. She suffered a devastating personal tragedy in Beyond Reach, Karin Slaughter's previous work. Although she initially gives in to the pain, Sara has too much going for her to let her life be derailed. Her loving, supportive family, intelligence and her plan to help people keep her strong and raise the limits of what she thought she could ultimately tolerate. Detective Will Trent was five months old when his mother was murdered. Subsequently, he grew up in more than ten foster homes where he was subjected to physical and mental abuse. Despite struggling with (but not overcoming) dyslexia, Detective Trent graduated from college and now works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation where he has a great partner he can depend on. Similarly, the first victim of the unknown monster refuses to be undone by the brutality and resulting emotional pain to which she is subjected . She wants to live. She endured unimaginable acts of depravity but didn't come undone.

As soon as you read about the torture chamber in which the first victim was kept and what was found there, you can't help but wonder, as I did, what kind of a person could do this? Who is capable of treating a fellow human being like this? What is wrong with this person? What isn't? I wondered, too, if they themselves could survive such treatment and not come undone. Or, maybe a human being who can behave with such savagery towards another has already become undone.

This is a harrowing tale of cruelty, excessive violence and savage behavior that, at times, is difficult to stomach. It is not a story for the faint of heart. It's difficult to imagine such depraved behavior, but the writing is so well done, the characters so fleshed out, I couldn't put the book down. I realized I was hooked when I became aware of my own shock and then anger that somebody was treating women so badly. I wanted to know who it was that could engage in such reprehensible behavior and was rooting for the detectives who were bound and determined to find the psychopath responsible.

Much more than a who-done-it, it's true that it's the shocking act of pure savagery that draws you in, but ultimately, the luminous characters, these flawed individuals joined in their fight to stop a psychotic madman, are what keeps you reading this book. Seeing the concept of how much an entity can withstand making the leap from an individual to a team, seeing their combined strengths and weaknesses won my loyalty and made the characters real. They became people I wanted to know better and I suffered with them as they nearly self-destruct. I turned pages fervently not only to discover the identity of the lunatic at large but also to keep up with and watch over Sara and the detectives, admiring them for their humanity, alternately strong one moment and precipitously close to the edge the next. Undone is a hair-raising read full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat hoping the detectives will persevere in the end.