Tag Archive for: Dennis Lehane

Great Books Stand the Test of Time

Last month I invited 8 authors to dinner. Fun, exciting, and exasperating.

Exasperating because my guests reminded me of how little I read these days. In years past, I read at least a book a week. Somewhere, I’ve lost the time to do that. I now read—most frequently—in bed. Too often I fall asleep. Not because of the writing. Because I am … tired from writing my latest work or from marketing or from keeping up with the latest in the self- publishing world. Or, let’s be honest: because of poor time management.

Reading is still one of my favorite activities. I love nothing more—including marathon walking, aerobic dancing, political ranting—than reading. On my TO DO LIST in 2018 is to read—re-read a few of my favorite books:

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She was, in case you missed it, one of the authors I invited to dinner last month. I love the “feminist” twist to this novel.

The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport. I read this saga in high school knowing nothing about robber barons or the United States on the brink of a world war. consider it close to the top of my favorite books of all times because of the characters, settings, themes, and writing.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He is one of my favorite authors. His novels and short stories always peer into the darkness of the human heart. I now want to revisit this specific novel from the standpoint of an author also fascinated by dark hearts.

Dennis Lehane kept me turning pages through his Angie Gennaro-Patrick Kenzie thrillers. But Shutter Island grabbed me in a way few modern novels have. I believe—honestly, that I “got” the twist early on in the novel. Rereading, I hope, will convince me I was right (and give me a deeper insight into the whole story).

Dead Famous by Carol O’Connell left me puzzled reading it the first time and kept me asking questions about the story afterward. Mallory, as I recall, is neither the main focus nor the character who pushes the plot forward. She is unlikeable (like my psychopathic main character, Michael Romanov) and she is—perhaps—unlovable. This is one of the basic questions I asked in The MisFit Series: Is a child ever unlovable? It’s a question I asked my eight dinner guests.

If I finish this list in 2018, I have dozens more novels I intend to reread.

Have you read any of the above books? What’s your take? Would you reread any of them?

Here’s my latest addition to The MisFit Series:  

The Broken-Hearted Many. Influenced by Kathy Mallory, this sixth novel in the series takes the reader into a wounded family’s struggle to cope with the old lies and secrets which refuse to stay in the past.  

*** When AB
Plum isn’t delving into darkness, she enjoys aerobic dancing, marathon walking,
and occasionally cooking. She lives off the fast lane in Silicon Valley with
her husband.

The Books on My Kindle

My co-author Marian received a Kindle for Mother’s Day. I’ve had mine since last December – a combination birthday and Christmas gift. Last week I purchased two ebook mysteries from Amazon, hoping to find time to read them. As I downloaded the ebooks, I thought The Stiletto Gang readers might find the current titles on my Kindle interesting.

Of course the first books I put on my Kindle were those by Evelyn David. I mean charity always begins at home, right? I have all five of the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – you can see those listed at the bottom of this post with handy buy links. I also have our Sullivan Investigations mysteries – Riley Come Home, Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake (also see below for buy links). And our romance short story collection – yes, we’ve written some love stories! One of the stories in the collection, Pipe Dreams, was published in Woman’s World (and yes, we’ve got a buy link below – we are nothing if not prepared to make it as easy as possible for our readers to find our books).

These are the non-Evelyn David ebooks I have loaded on my Kindle:

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Secret of the Scroll by Chester Campbell
Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell
Love You More: A Detective D.D. Warren Mystery by Lisa Gardner
Live to Tell: A Detective D.D. Warren Mystery by Lisa Gardner
The Neighbor: A Detective D.D. Warren Mystery by Lisa Gardner
The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
South Riding by Winifred Holtby
Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron
The Reincarnationist Series by M.J. Rose
Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Steward

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson is a brand new novel and author for me. I haven’t started the ebook yet, but I love the title. Sometimes I do buy books mostly because the title intrigues me. Isn’t that a great title? Other titles that have caught my attention over the years: A Bad Day for Pretty, If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him, and She Walks These Hills.

I downloaded The Secret Garden because I’d never read the children’s book and it was free. Never discount the allure of “free.” Only thing is, I’ve had the book five months and still haven’t read it. Secret of the Scroll was also offered as a free download by the author, Chester Campbell. I’ve read Chester’s posts on the listserve DorothyL and appreciate his humor. I haven’t read his book yet, but I will.

I’ve read all of Patricia Cornwell’s “Kay Scarpetta” novels and read Port Mortuary during Christmas. I enjoyed it, but miss the “Kay” of the early novels in the series. I read those books several times each. I’d never consider rereading the later ones. Now I’m just along for the ride. I want to see how the series ends. I have all the other books in hardback, but buying the more economical Kindle editions will make me feel a little better about my continued investment in the series.

I received a couple of the Lisa Gardner “D.D. Warren” ebooks for Christmas and got hooked. I found the mysteries tightly written and loved the main character. I need to get the rest of the books in the series. I just purchased her latest, Love You More, but haven’t had a minute to read it yet. I’m saving it as a reward for when my co-author and I finish one of the several writing projects we have in progress.

John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. The Confession was very good and up to the high standard of the other Grisham books. My favorite of his is still The Client. The movie made from it was good, but the book was better. The book is one that begs to be read aloud. Grisham’s choice of words delivers the nuances of the southern location and characters perfectly.

I searched out South Riding by Winifred Holtby because I’ve started watching the current PBS series and enjoying the plot. I suspected that although the series was based on the novel, much had been edited out. The original print version has 500 pages, so even with the convenience of having the book on my Kindle, it might take me awhile to read it. I’m hoping this isn’t a case of the television series being better than the book.

Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour was a book I read in my early teens and wanted to reread. It’s a western, but it’s also a wonderful tale of a young boy’s survival after a wagon train massacre. He and a toddler make their way with the help of a large red horse.The book was just as good as I remembered.

I purchased Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane about four months ago and had trouble getting into it. But I loved Gone Baby, Gone so I will try again when I’m less distracted. Maybe during summer vacation.

Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron is a fine installment of her Deborah Knott series. I own all of them and can’t wait for the next.

The Reincarnationist Series by M.J. Rose was also a free download. I haven’t started it yet. This is also a new author for me.

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Steward was the basis for one of my favorite television movies. The 1979 movie, Heartland, starred Conchata Ferrell and Rip Torn. In 1910, Elinore Randall, a widow, and her seven-year-old daughter travel by train to Wyoming to create a new life for themselves in the west. Elinore has a job as a housekeeper and cook for a lonely, taciturn rancher, but she has dreams of her own homestead. I’ve seen the movie more than a dozen times. I didn’t realize it was based on a real person until I found the ebook earlier this year.

When I started this blog post, I thought it was going to be a short one. Sometimes I forget that before my co-author talked me into writing a novel, I’d spent 40 years reading just about everything I could get my hands on. I love books. And obviously I like talking about them.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- KindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords

A Haunting in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- PaperbackKindle
Murder Off the Books- PaperbackKindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords


Love Lessons – KindleNookSmashwords

Don’t Pay Any Attention to the Movie Critics

I don’t know about you, but whenever a new movie comes out I always read what the critics have to say.

In the big city newspaper I take (Fresno Bee) the movie critic seems to hate most of the movies I like and loves the ones I didn’t like at all. Obviously, we have very different taste.

We did agree on Shutter Island which hubby and I went to see on Saturday. The critic gave it a B+. I don’t grade movies that way, my take was they did a terrific job making a movie that actually resembled the book. I read the book when it first came out and really wondered how it would work on screen.

My husband hadn’t read the book and I didn’t spoil the movie by telling him any of the twists and turns or the surprise ending. There was one BIG clue all through the movie that I did point out to him, anyone who would like to know what it was can email me privately.

By the way, he stayed awake through the whole movie and enjoyed it. Part of the reason may have been because we both met Dennis Lehane (the author of the book) at a Mayhem in the Midlands. He was friendly and fun to listen to. His name was more prominent in the credits on screen than any book author I’ve seen before.

Warning, the movie is dark and there is language in it I could’ve done without.

One of the movies the critic loved was Up in the Air. I didn’t like it at all despite George Clooney being the star. To me, the whole concept and the side plots were down right depressing.

If a movie is heartwarming, the movie critic I read will never give it a good grade and will likely call it sappy or some other unflattering name. Frankly, I like a good heartwarming movie now and then.

I have to admit though, I just love movies. I like thrillers, romances, historicals, a horror if it’s not gory. I’m not thrilled with movies too heavy with messages, usually we can get the idea without hitting us over the head.

How much faith do you put in movie critics?