Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Books of 2009, What I'm Looking Forward to in 2010 and a Give-Away

And the winner is - - - -

to DA!

Charlotte.

Drop me an email, please, with your mailing address and I'll drop DEAD AIR in the mail to you ASAP.

Thanks for participating, everyone!

Another Give-Away coming soon!





I'm a fool for lists. Love 'em and find myself making them all the time. Sometimes I make them 'cause they're fun, but sometimes I make them out of necessity. It's impossible for me to take a trip without making a list first. And everything - I mean everything - has to be included. Even the most obvious items. Toothpaste and toothbrush? Yep. Gotta be on the list. 'Course, just because it's on the list and manages to get packed, doesn't necessarily mean it gets to its final destination. And I don't mean because the airline lost a bag (although we do know that happens once in awhile, right?!). Sometimes it happens because - well, because it gets forgotten and left behind. I suggest when and if this ever happens to you, you just stay calm, declare a "shopping emergency" and buy yourself a new pair of jeans and a crisp white shirt (and maybe a sweater, or a bright, pretty scarf or shawl - or one of each!). It's an outfit that can carry you a long way. If that sounds like one of those "I've been there and done that" things, well - it is.

But - moving right along - these lists are fun things.

The first is my list of some of my favorite books from 2009. I know I'm forgetting some, so I'm sticking with the statement "some of my favorite books." And as I remember more, this list could change. (Is there a rule that I can't change my list once I've posted it? Pfft! My list - My rules. Life's short - Right? 'Nuff said.).

Okeey doke - First List: Some of my Faves. Listed alphabetically by author's last name.

Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman - Tower

Toni McGee Causey - When A Man Loves A Weapon

Lee Child - Gone Tomorrow

Reed Farrel Coleman - Empty Ever After

Pat Conroy - South of Broad

Deborah Crombie - Necessary as Blood

JT Ellison - Judas Kiss

Linda Fairstein - Lethal Legacy

Robert Fate - Baby Shark's Jugglers at the Borders

Dorothea Benton Frank - Return to Sullivan's Island

Julie Hyzy - State of the Onion

Craig Johnson - The Dark Horse

Laurie King - The Language of Bees

William Kent Krueger - Heaven's Keep

Laura Lippman - Life Sentences

Mary Jane Maffini - Law & Disorder

Michael Malone - The Four Corners of the Sky

Margaret Maron - Sand Sharks

Carol O'Connell - Bone by Bone

Louise Penny - The Brutal Telling

Peter Robinson - All the Colors of Darkness

S. J. Rozan - Winter and Night

Hank Phillippi Ryan - Air Time

Alex Sokoloff - The Unseen

Louise Ure - Liars Anonymous

Kathryn Wall - Covenant Hall

Sharon Wildwind - Missing, Presumed Wed


Next is a list of books I'm looking forward to in 2010. Most of the writers above are on my "auto-buy" list, so they're automatically included in what I'm looking forward to reading next year. The ones I've listed are those I was able to find information about, ie, a title and the estimated month of publication (always subject to change). If any of you know of a book by one of the above authors that you don't see on this list, let me know, please!!

In order of month of presumed publication, here's what I'm looking forward to:

January:

Eggsecutive Orders: A White House Chef Mystery by Julie Hyzy

February:

Aunt Dimity Down Under by Nancy Atherton

Drive Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

March:

The Teabury Strangler: A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs

Hell Gate: Alex Cooper by Linda Fairstein (confession. I have an ARC of this which I cannot WAIT to start reading. oh boy oh boy oh boy . . . )

Acadia Falls by Carol Goodman

April:

Holly Blues: A China Bayles Mystery by Susan Wittig Albert

Cat of the Century: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown

This Body of Death: An Inspector Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George

The Black Cat: A Richard Jury Mystery by Martha Grimes

The God of the Hive: A Novel of Suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

Shoot to Thrill: A Monkeewrench Novel by P. J. Tracy

May:

61 Hours: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Junkyard Dogs: A Walt Longmire Mystery by Craig Johnson

June:

Lowcountry Summer: A Plantation Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers: A Ballad Novel by Sharyn McCrumb

Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff

July:

Torn Apart by Shane Gericke

August:

Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons

September:

The Cold Room by J.T. Ellison

October:

November:

Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron

December:



A book I'm especially looking forward to but don't know a publication date for is THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS by Vicki Lane.

If Reed Farrel Coleman has a new Moe Prager in the works I will be one very happy woman.

Fingers crossed for a Dave Robicheaux novel from James Lee Burke.

Another Pat Conroy? big sigh. Fat chance. We'll probably have to wait another ten years for the next jewel by Pat Conroy. But worth the wait.

How about a Justin Savile/Cudy Mangum mystery from Michael Malone? That would be lovely. It's been too long since the last one!

Now, it's your turn! I'll be interested in hearing what your favorite books of 2009 were, and what you're looking forward to reading in 2010.

And, finally - keeping in this holiday spirit of things, I have a book to give away. It's DEAD AIR: A Sammy Greene Thriller by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid. For FTC Full Disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher, Oceanview Publishing. I've read it, but since I don't do reviews, I have not reviewed it. However, I do have an opinion, which is that "it's quite good & I enjoyed it lots. Sammy Greene is my kinda gal (kinda mouthy, actually) and I look forward to more in this series."

If you're interested in winning this book, just leave a comment INCLUDING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, please. I'll be drawing the winning name on Sunday, January 3rd. Check back here to see the winning name which I'll post after I've been in touch with the winner via email.

Happy Reading, Everyone!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

oh, those little things we take for granted . . . such as - electricity (or "life sucks without it")


I woke up this morning, rolled to my right and looked out the window at a sky as blue as you can ever imagine.
And Elk's Knob - covered with snow.
And trees.
Beautiful bare trees no longer doubled over with ice.

And life is good.

The house was warm without even having to scamper into the living room to throw another log onto the wood stove.

We have our power back and life is good.

I rolled to my left and there on my nightstand was a fresh, steaming cup of coffee.

Real coffee and not a Folger's single in a little tea bag with a string. Now, not that Folger's singles aren't perfectly fine fine fine, but they're just not up to snuff when it comes to the real thing.

Donald Barley is the best man I know. For one thing, (a very big thing) he brings me coffee every morning of my life. The few times I have woken up during our lifetime together and there hasn't been a cup of coffee on my night stand I've had momentary panics wondering what's wrong with my Donald that there's no coffee on my nightstand. Now, don't get the wrong idea - he's great, I agree. BUT - truth of the matter is, if I'm the first one up, then I bring him his coffee and put it on his nightstand. Granted, I might play possum from time to time . . .

He's also the guy you want around when you're iced in.

Our power went off around lunch time on Christmas Day. It came back last night. Approximately 43 hours later. Huh. Seemed like much longer!

When you're 12 miles away from civilization, and those 12 miles are country mountain roads that are covered with ice and you don't have power and you don't know when the power might be coming back you might fret a bit. I'm the fretter. Donald, however, is Mr. Laid Back Practical Guy. He just goes about the business of doing what needs to be done with an eye on what might need to be done. So instead of getting upset, getting panicky, getting mad, I found myself just kinda laid back and following his lead. a good thing.

That's not to say that when the power came back on last night that I didn't let out a whoop and do a little happy dance across the room. Oh no. I wasn't that laid back and carefree about it all. And that's not to say Donald wasn't a happy camper either. Believe me. We were two VERY happy people.

When it flickered back on, Donald was downstairs in his recliner just being his ol' laid back self staring into the fire in the woodstove (which I will never ever take for granted again ever ever ever). I was upstairs in bed reading by flashlight (another item I will never ever take for granted again ever ever ever). (Let's hear it for woodstoves and flashlights!). I heard Donald say "Power!" and I at first thought it was a continuation of the chant we'd been laughingly carrying on for several days. We would look at a lamp, or a ceiling fixture and raise our arms and shout "Power! Let there be power!" all to no avail, surprisingly enough. Since no lights came on in the bedroom when Donald shouted this particular "Power!," it took me going into the living room and seeing the little lights on the Christmas tree twinkling to fully realize that we did, indeed, have power. Hooray, Boy Howdy, and Yippee Skippy!!

While we did a few shouts of joyful noise, Harley did his own little barks of joy. We hopped around, Harley hopped around. Bless his Corgi heart, he's so low to the ground he's managed to be tripped over and accidentally kicked several times during the days of no light. He's taken it all in the same laid back manner as his dad.

And the next thing I did, after calling my Mom to let her know we now had power (she's not exactly the laid back type), was let the water we had in the bathtub for "the necessities" run out, scoured the tub, filled it again with hot water and a HUGE dollop of Bath & Body Warm Vanilla Sugar bubble bath.

Life is SO good.

I never had a well before we moved to these mountains. It took me completely by surprise to learn that when the power goes out and you're on a well, that means NO WATER. No water. That means you better always have some bottled water on hand. It also means you better pay enough attention to the weather forecasts to run water into your bathtub for flushing the toidies if you lose your power. You do not, for Heaven's Sake, want to use your good bottled water for flushing toidies! And you learn to keep some water in pans on the woodstove (God bless a woodstove) for those little bird baths you're gonna be taking while you're without power. Oh, those little things we take for granted.

So - today our driveway is still covered with a pretty thick sheet of ice.

But.

The road crew has gotten here, and although our road is still pretty much a mess, they've done the best they can do. Our road gets unexpectedly steep just above our house and the elevation does a very quick upswing. So above us, the road is in much worse shape than it is below us. It's in good enough shape that we can, by driving ever so carefully, at least get out. Donald made an emergency run into town the day before yesterday for more bottled water and batteries and was able to get to the container site to dump all the food that we had to clear out of our refrigerator and freezer (talk about a sad thing - this was a very sad thing). The main roads, he says, were in pretty good shape. The scary thing was the number of trees, power lines and power poles that he saw down.

When he came home he came bearing gifts.

Hamburgers.

Hot strong coffee from our favorite coffee shop.

Oh, those little things we take for granted . . . .

And now that we have power (insert whoops of joy and happy dances), and Donald has taken him a real shower (no bubbles for this guy), he's heading back into town. You see - there's ice in our forecast for the end of the week. So, we may need to be prepared yet again; more bottle water, etc. In the meantime, the skies are blue and we have power. And a hankering for a pizza. a real pizza. extra cheese . . . . from that pizza place in town - 12 miles away . . .


The man is my hero.

Help me please, remember, not to take him for granted. And kick me in the butt if I do. O.k.?

on a very serious note. This has been an inconvenience for us. But all in all - that's all its been. An inconvenience. Because we have two woodstoves, we've never been cold. There are still a number of people in our area who are without power, and who may be without power for awhile. And who do not have a source of heat. We're a very rural area around the little town of Boone, and in some places it's quite the wilderness. We have a lot of people living here in areas that are impossible for the electric company workers to get to just yet. There are still icy road conditions and there are trees down across these roads that must be removed so the crews can get to the areas in need. Send warm thoughts and prayers, please.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'cause it's the season by Shane Gericke


National bestselling thriller writer Shane Gericke (pronounced YER-key) spent 25 years as a journalist, most prominently as a senior financial editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, before plunging into crime thrillers. Torn Apart, his new cops-vs.-psychos novel, will launch worldwide on July 6, 2010, from Pinnacle Fiction. It joins Blown Away—winner of the prestigious “Debut Mystery of the Year” from RT Book Reviews magazine—and Cut to the Bone in gathering accolades from such New York Times bestsellers as Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Douglas Preston, Erica Spindler, John J. Nance, Gayle Lynds, Alex Kava and John Lutz, with one critic enthusiastically reporting, “Cross James Patterson with Joseph Wambaugh, and you get Shane Gericke.” Shane, whose books have been translated into German, Chinese, Slovakian and Turkish, lives in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, IL, where the series is set. He’s chairman of ThrillerFest in New York City, a founding member of International Thriller Writers, and a member of Mystery Writers of America. Visit him at www.shanegericke.com







'cause it's the season By Shane Gericke



War.



Pestilence.



Blizzards.



Tiger.



Needle boy.



Jon and Kate unmate.



Tis the season.



But the news isn’t all bad for the holidays. There’s plenty of hope and heroics. You just have to look in the back pages of the newspaper, not the front.



So in honor of Musings and Meanderings and its ever-cheerful proprietor, Kaye Barley, I’d like to share a few of the happy stories with you. Cause it’s the season for that, too.



NEVER OFF-DUTY: Chicago firefighter Jason Durbin was finishing his hot dog at The Weiner’s Circle when he noticed smoke pouring from the top of a nearly skyscraper. He wasn’t working that day, so could have called 911 and left the mess to his fellow fire-dogs. But real firefighters run toward the flames, not away, and that’s what Durbin did. He ran up the stairs to the 28th floor, only to be hit by a thick wall of smoke. Someone passing him said a woman was in trouble down the hall. He felt his way to her—remember, the hall was choked with inky smoke—and bumped into the curled-up woman. He dragged her to the stairwell, then carried her down the 28 flights of stairs. She wound up in serious condition with smoke inhalation and burns—but survived. If you don’t adore firefighters, you absolutely have no soul.



WE’RE CONNECTED: It wasn’t so long ago we stayed in touch only by letters or phone. Now we have the Internet and e-mail (developed in the 1970s, popularized in the ’90s), MySpace (2003), Facebook (2005), Twitter (2006) and hundreds of other social-connection media. That couldn’t have happened without broadband Internet, which really took off in the mid-2000s. The first iPod was introduced in 2001 (a music odyssey), followed by YouTube (2005). With all that at our fingertips, we now communicate in all sorts of fashion. Except for sitting down face to face, of course. Who has time for that?



JUST DUES: The University of California at Davis authorized special college degrees to all students who attended the school during World War II but were forced to leave when Americans of Japanese descent were forced into concentration camps for the duration of the war. It was a shameful episode in our history, I believe, and some may quibble with my calling them “concentration” camps, not the more officially pleasant “detainment.” But what would you call it if you were imprisoned in a camp ringed with barbed wire and armed guards, in barracks so shabby that cold winds howled through the walls, and toilets with no privacy? And not in, say, Palm Springs or San Francisco, but in the God-forsaken wildernesses of Utah and Wyoming? It was monstrous decision, throwing our own citizens into prison without benefit of a trial, but at least institutions like UC-Davis are trying to make it right.



LIFE GOES ON: Anne Marie Schlekeway of Chicago is dying of ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. But she’s determined to show the world she’s fighting it, one day after the next, and so has started a blog, www.KissMyALS.com. She talks frankly about the disease and her life, touching upon such sensitive topics as toileting—“To speed the process while on the pot, lift both arms over your head”—to sex: “Trouble breathing in the missionary position … what I thought was me getting fat was really weakened muscles in the diaphragm.” In my view, people like Schlekeway, who bare their souls that others might not suffer alone, are worth ten millions Tigers Wood.



HOUSTON, WE HAVE NO PROBLEM: Voters in Bible Belt Houston, Texas, elected their first openly gay mayor. She is Annise Parker, and she won by focusing on the brick-and-mortar realities of running the country’s fourth-largest city. Like ever other successful politician, she connected with voters with her willingness to roll up her sleeves, and those voters didn’t hold her sexual preference against her. It’s good to see us overcome our gay-hating culture, even if it’s one person at a time.



SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT, TWO BITS: Even better, free. Cristiano Cora runs a chi-chi hair-styling salon in New York’s Greenwich Village. He charges $300 for a haircut, and that doesn’t include color or highlights. His work is in demand, and he’s heavily booked. But … once a week he gives free cuts to the unemployed, as a way to lift their spirits. Just make an appointment and bring in something that proves you’re unemployed—pink slip, pay stub, whatever—and the cut is gratis. He says he’ll do it as long as the recession lasts. May he become a billionaire, one head at a time.



KINGLY GENEROSITY: The high priest of high scares, Stephen King, and his wife, Tabitha, donated $12,999 to an organization so 150 soldiers of the Army National Guard in Maine could travel from an Army training camp in Indiana to spend the holidays at home. Someone approached King about donating $13,000 to cover the travel expense. King, being King, said he’d love to, but make it $12,999—the number 13 is unlucky. Julie Eugley, one of King’s assistants, chipped in the extra buck, and the soldiers were on their way. King should be a bestseller for this alone. Fortunately, his momentous writing has already gotten him there.



AND FINALLY: Authorities have arrested the coal-souled bastard who shoved dozens of sewing needles into his own son’s body. Robert Magalhaes of Brazil confessed to pushing more than forty needles into his young son in order to spite his ex-wife, the boy’s mother. (Magalhaes did it on orders from his new wife, cops say he also said.) Emergency surgery to remove the needles closest to killing the boy was successful, and the boy is recovering. My holiday wish is that the father is quickly convicted, shoved into a Brazilian prison, and turned loose into a general population armed with sewing needles. Can you say, Pincushion?



Hey, I never said “happy” meant “Pollyanna.”



And to all, a shiny happy holiday, however you celebrate it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's That Time of Year by Doris Ann Norris


Doris Ann Norris is also affectionately known by many as "the 2000 year old librarian." She is retired as a library director, but subs at two Ohio County libraries as reference and reader's advisory librarian. Doris Ann manages to go to four mystery conferences a year and just finished up a five year term on the Sisters in Crime board as library liaison.

It’s That Time of Year by Doris Ann Norris

When I first selected this date to be Kaye Barley’s guest blogger, I had a rant in mind concerning the schmaltz, commercialization and secularization of December holidays, including Christmas and Hanukkah.

But things change in our lives.

In my case, this will be the first Christmas without my mother, who left this plane in November at the age of 96. True, as the last five years saw her sink deeper and deeper into dementia. The last three years she didn’t know her children or even what her birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, meant.

She’d ask what those presents were doing on the table.

The December holidays truly change as we grow older and we often become dispirited and depressed, as these supposedly joyful and family-bonding times of love don’t seem to materialize.

But this year I have nothing but happy, glowing and warm memories of past holidays with my parents, four brothers and my only sister as well as the family as it grew to receive spouses of siblings and nieces and nephews. It’s, no doubt, part of the healing process in the recovery of loss. Gone are the bad memories and only the happy ones remain….at least for this year.

So, I’ve been watching the Hallmark Channel and other old movies and some not-so-old ones. Everyone ends up full of happiness, love and often with a Christmas miracle.

Christmas is saved by Ernest, by a red-nosed reindeer, by a squirrel, by dogs, etc. Angels, including Peter Falk, Harry Dean Stanton, Patty Duke, Katie Sagal, et al come down to Earth. In fact, Falk plays Max, an angel, in at least three made-for-TV movies.

Then there are ghosts that come back to make their family Christmases complete.

The most famous ghosts, however, are those of Charles Dickens in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. How many “straight” versions have been made? My favorite is the one with Alistair Sim, followed by George C. Scott version. The first movie recorded was made in 1916 and this year there is a new one with Jim Carrey.

Then many a television series has included an adaptation featuring the Dickens’ characterizations, including one I caught of the TV series THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR featuring Charles Nelson Riley as the Scrooge character.

In fact those ghosts, including Marley and Christmases Past, Present and Future have been reenacted by dogs, Muppets, Mr. Magoo and more.

Don’t forget the Bill Murray version or those featuring Susan Lucci, Tori Spelling Cicely Tyson, Hoyt Axton, Vanessa Williams uttering “Bah, humbug.”

One of my favorites is A CHRISTMAS STORY by Jean Shepherd with the boy who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun.

Many people list IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE as their favorite holiday story, and here is my rant about this classic film. Jimmy Stewart as George is wonderful. His persona which he played so often is “Everyman”, as we’d like to see him…honest, sensitive with so much integrity as well as a sense of humor and humanity.

But I have learned to hate this movie…and blame Frank Capra. Jimmy, aka George Bailey is never born and all kinds of terrible things happen which he could have prevented.

And what terrible fate awaits Donna Reed as Mary? If George isn’t born she ends up…horror of horrors…as a spinster librarian in their small town.

Let me tell you Mr. Capra, being an unmarried librarian in a small town or a big city can be a “wonderful life” as well.

May all of you who are celebrating Hanukkah have nothing but light in your lives. May everyone of whatever religion of culture have your 12 Days of Christmas, as well as the 12 months of 2010, and the rest of your years be filled with love and laughter, peace and prosperity, family and friends and, of course, wonderful books.


Doris Ann Norris, the 2000-thousand-year-old librarian

Saturday, December 19, 2009

a whole lotta snowin' going on . . .

The snow started Friday morning and it has been snowing off and on ever since. We probably have about 18 inches now with another 3 or 4 inches in the forecast for today. Hard to tell though - the wind is pretty fierce at times, so it's blowing and drifting. And Donald has plowed the driveway once, but it's starting to fill up again. I'll let the pictures tell the story. And I'll keep adding pictures, so check back from time to time. You know - we're on dial-up here, so pictures take forEVAH to load, and I still have another 20 or so to go. AND I haven't even taken any yet today. But Harley and I are getting ready to go out and do that right now . . .

Enjoy!