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STONE MATTRESS: Nine Tales ~Margaret Atwood

I discovered that I could pre-order this book a full month before it would appear on shelves at the library or bookstore, I did just that.  I just felt hungry for the incredible writing of Atwood and as though I had been fasting and not indulging for a very long time.   I was not disappointed in the least.   I have already read the tales twice and will come back again to enjoy.

“A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood creativity, intelligence, and humor: think Alias Grace.” (From Amazon’s page)

There is a creative psychological component to Atwood’s writing which just holds me to her words and the play she gives them.  The first three stories are loosely connected by an early on romance and Alphinland, Revenant, and Dark Lady play with growing old, loss of a partner, and the choices made early on in a life returning to be studied as the body can no longer comply.  Ice and snow and winter are big themes as is escape and control.

Lusus Naturae is about a child born with a defect and how she learns to cope with her situation; is it really coping or more the hiding mode? What society fears?  As a man is “kicked out” of his relationship he purchases a storage unit at an auction and is amazed to discover its contents and the preserved relationship within its walls.    I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth and The Dead Hand Loves You are again exploring the writer’s world and where it has taken the author  or the character and then brought them back with some kind of protection or blindness to deal with the reality of the moment.

Stone Mattress brought revenge on an artic discovery cruise for a horrible crime perpetrated on a young girl, which radically changed her life and future.  The writing was precise, cold and successful; a bit chilling for the reader.   Torching the Dusties is about a woman with Macular Degeneration who can only see the periphery of her world, she is living in a senior center that is now under siege by a group calling themselves “Our Turn” and burning down home care buildings and the residents living there.   Once again the theme is about growing old and coping, worth and vision, and adversity and control.   Fascinating story and I am so glad I read it a second time.

The political climate of the day is so subtle and yet shouts of what we do not hear clearly within all the noise around us in our world.

I am very fond of Margaret Atwood as a writer and she is so prolific I can honestly say I have not read all of her work or even come close – just the highlights.  I am very fond of short stories and combining that fondness with this author’s tremendous skill was a gift to my experience.   I could not put this book down and just enjoyed it cover to cover several times.   I rate this highly and humbly top of the line and believe my readers would not be disappointed and instead relish this book –  STONE MATRESS

From the book:

“MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.  In addition to THE HANDMADE’S TALE, her novels include CAT’S EYE, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; ALIAS GRACE, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; THE BLIND ASSASSIN, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, ORYX AND CRAKE, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize.  She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.”

Related:
Our Love Could Light the World
Olive Kitteridge 
The Boys in the Boat
The Signature of All Things

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: A Potting Shed Mystery ~Marty Wingate

Here we go again with a delightful story in Edinburgh, Scotland full of flowers and gardens, interesting characters and strange activities, and of course a great mystery surrounded by Pru and Christopher’s love story.  What could be better to pull you into a great read.   This is Marty Wingate’s third book in her English Garden series moving Pru, our Dallas, Texas Master Gardener, back to England to connect with her roots and explore the gardens of the UK.

I have reviewed the other two books in the potting shed mysteries and found them delightful and fun.   Also this spring, I reviewed a first book in a new series called THE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE a fun read with a good mystery; more of the UK revealed.

Pru has taken a research position in Edinburgh to authenticate a journal written by a famous botanist, explorer, and physician who travelled with Captain Vancouver on the Discovery.  There are several mysteries about plants and seeds that were collected.   Her position is stepping on the toes of the plant historian at the gardens, and this sets up a rather tense relationship.  When the historian is killed, Pru once again becomes a suspect.

Christopher is back in London as an Inspector for the Police and working in homicides.   Because the couple is planning to marry at the end of Pru’s posting they are connecting over the death of her co-worker and making wedding plans.

The wedding dress experience becomes quite funny and I could just see these creations by Fiona in my mind’s eye and they provided quite a chuckle.  Also walking through the town brought me back to my one-day experience of Edinburgh and seeing all the sights and the castle during the festival period.  This made the read even a better experience.

Wingate’s books are scenic and informative and have a lovely flow to the words.  They have an interesting story line and they follow through without leaving out the little details and the garden descriptions almost allowing the reader to breathe in the fragrance of the soil and the blooms.  I put her books on the delightful list and try to tell all my gardening friends to keep them reading during the indoor seasons.  I think many, many readers will enjoy these tales and I am very happy that Netgalley sent me an uncorrected proof to review.  BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE.

From the book:

“In addition to the Potting shed Mysteries, Marty Wingate is also the author of The Rhyme of the Magpie, A Birds of a Feather Mystery.  A well-known speaker on gardens and travel, she has written numerous non-fiction books on gardening, including Landscaping for Privacy.  Marty’s garden articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The American Gardener, and Country Gardens.  She is hard at work on her next novel.”

www.martywingate.com

Related:
Potting Shed Mysteries:
The Garden Plot 
The Red Book of Primrose House
The Birds of a Feather Mysteries:
The Rhyme of the Magpie

OLIVAY: A Novel ~Deborah Reed

I was totally captured by OLIVAY.  I was driven to turn every page of OLIVAY.  It was very suspenseful and demanding the reader to find resolution and yet it was not a comfortable read at all.   I am so pleased that TLC Book Tours sent me a copy for review; OLIVAY was a most interesting read.

Deborah Reed teaches writing in Los Angeles and Germany and is an extraordinary writer and storyteller.   I did not wish to miss a word or paragraph for fear of missing some phrase or line of description.   OLIVAY is the main character’s name and it is used often in the story and as she interacts with Henry sometimes you have to guess at who said that line or phrase because it is not crystal clear; either one is possible.

A year earlier OLIVAY’s husband has been killed in an accident while on his way to work.  The driver of the vehicle has not been found or arrested.  OLIVAY has been made a media star as the video of her caring for her dead husband has been circulated millions of times.  She is still hard pressed to leave her loft apartment for all the notoriety and she is a very private person.  She has quit her job as an architect and is now just venturing out to a local coffee shop to try and leave her home with out gaping attacks.

At the coffee shop, a handsome young man, Henry, approaches OLIVAY and their conversation lasts all afternoon. She invites him to her loft and he spends the night.   In the morning, there is a terrorist attack upon the neighborhood and the windows are blown out of the loft and OLIVAY has her knee severely injured.  People on the street are dying as the water main ruptures and the electricity shuts down.

Most of the story takes place in the loft as Henry cares for the injury and takes care of OLIVAY, who is trying to figure out the real Henry.   OLIVAY appears to be one of the meanest characters I have ever read, and yet as one reads on there is something very wise about her and her thoughts.  Who is Henry really?

The second section of the story included Henry’s story and more of his thinking in alternate chapters that goes by very quickly.  There is a tension in the telling of the story as revealing as it proves to be.

I do not think I would have picked this book for myself, and once again I thank TLC Book Tours  for sending this gem along and putting it on the schedule.  The writing is amazing and the premise interesting and yet it is something I would not like to experience myself – in any aspect.   I believe it is a book more folks need to read.  The writing is inspiring.

From the book cover:

“Deborah Reed’s novel, Things We Set on Fire, sold over one hundred thousand copies in the first six months, while Carry Yourself Back to Me was a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors Pick.  She wrote the bestselling thriller, A Small Fortune, and its sequel, Fortunes Deadly Descent, under her pen name Audrey Braun.  She holds a master’s degree in fine arts in creative writing, and teaches at the UCLA Extension Writing Program.  She is also co-director of the Black Forest Writing Seminar at the University of Freiburg in Germany.  She resides in Los Angeles.”

Related:
The Antigone Poems
The Bookseller 
Accidents of Marriage 

A BRILLIANT DECEPTION: An AB&T Novel ~Kim Foster

When Kim Foster sent me an email asking if I would like to review her new book I jumped at the opportunity.  I have reviewed her first two books in this series, A Beautiful Heist  and A Magnificent Crime over the past several years and I could hardly wait to dive into this new book and see what Cat Montgomery was up to these days.   Within the first two pages, the reader is whisked off to Venice and quite the adventure.

Cat Montgomery is a jewel thief for the Agency of Burglary &Theft.  She is very good at her job as she steals back famous and expensive pieces of jewelry taken up by the wealthy; what has been stolen from somewhere else.    She is just off a heist of a famous necklace from a hotel safe in Los Angeles when she is pulled into a job in England of the Lionheart ruby ring.  The ring has been found in a grave in the UK.  With all her planning and care the Caliga, a notorious crime organization takes the ring just minutes before she arrives.   Her job now is to return the ring to England and rescue her new co-worker.

A BRILLIANT DECEPTION brings the whole team back together and Ethan, Jack, Brooke, and a new character Felix join the planning and head off to Venice to retrieve the ring and steal it back.  A love triangle forms which adds and interesting dimension to the fast and furious pursuit of the ring.

The writing is good and well paced and I just leaned into this read and found it hard to put down.  When I did need to do something different, it was easy to come back to and the story moved very well.   It was a good adventure and I liked the ending.

I did find it hard that Cat’s mother did not figure into the story as much, but she was instrumental in starting Cat thinking about a new career or about how to use her skills in a more productive direction.

Great for the beach – lighthearted and fun, it was interesting to explore some English History and the Robin Hood legend further.  I highly recommend this story and this author.  I believe that everyone will enjoy A BRILLIANT DECEPTION.

Kim Foster is the author of the Agency of Burglary and Theft Series of Thrillers. She first got her degree in Medicine and has been a family physician in Victoria, British Columbia for sixteen years.   Online, you can find her blogging about her left-brain, right-brain mash-up on www.kimfoster.com.  Kim lives with her husband and their two young boys.  She is hard at work on her next book and drinking a lot of coffee. (from the book cover)

Foster is making some special offers on Facebook to promote A BRILLIANT DECEPTION

Related:
A Beautiful Heist 
A Magnificent Crime