Sunday, September 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Friday marked the start of the weekly Book Blogger's Hop over at Jennifer's at Crazy for Books. You have until Monday to join in the fun and meet up with fell book bloggers from all over the blogospere. So hurry and visit Jennifer's and link in with the fun.

This week's thrilling question: What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season – A particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!)”

Answer: I guess I am looking forward to the holidays and all the tradition that goes along with it. There's definitely nothing like a wonderful roasted turkey on Thanksgiving with all the fixings! And every Christmas my snowman collection makes its appearance. What about you?

I just completed my review of Life Among the Savages which was a most amusing book. You can read it here!

Review - Life Among the Savages

The Back Story ~ I get all goose bumps and wax nostalgic for fun family fare like Please Don’t East the Daisies, Yours Mine and Ours, With Six You Get Egg Roll and the original Cheaper by the Dozen. Life Among the Savages which I found at my usual book sale haunt, the Mission Valley Library for only $1, is right up that alley.

Book Description~ Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

Our house is old, noisy and full. When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books . . .

So starts Life Among the Savages published in 1953 by Shirley Jackson. I’m sure she would tell you that it takes a good sense of humor to make it through life in the ‘burbs with a husband, four kids, a rambling house, assorted cats and numerous misadventures. A few ciggies and a martini wouldn’t hurt either; it’s the 50s after all.

Life is good; indeed it’s wonderful at the Jackson/Hyman household. Creativity is unleashed in leaps and bounds. It’s like taking a flying leap off Niagara Falls or river rafting down the Colorado River; you just can’t keep a good kid down. Witness the story of “Charles” or my personal favorite the second Mrs. Ellenoy and her seven daughters all named Martha. The bat that got into the house is another gasp out loud moment as is Ms. Jackson’s account on being in the hospital for the birth of her fourth child. Only Ms. Jackson could quote Shakespeare in the delivery room or chart her progress by the newspaper her husband is reading. As Kate Gosselin would say, It’s a crazy life but it’s our life!

My Take ~ A word of caution: Sections of this may book may cause uncontrollable and/or hysterical laughter. Even I couldn’t tell at times if I was laughing or crying. So be aware of your surroundings or someone may ask…Are you all right dear?

Yes I loved this book; I unabashedly loved it! Shirley Jackson is better known for her chilling tales of the macabre (The Lottery, Haunting of Hill House) but on this outing she takes us on a tour of domestic chaos not unlike an E-ticket ride at Bizarro Disneyland.

The Author ~ Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in 1916 and spent her childhood on the west coast. While still in high school, her family made their way east where eventually Ms. Jackson attended the University of Rochester and graduated from Syracuse University in 1940. That same year she married fellow student and eventual literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman.

In between raising her four children Ms. Jackson gained popularity as a writer of novels and articles in various popular magazines. She is best known for The Lottery (1948) which suggests a secret, sinister underside to bucolic small-town America not unlike North Bennington, Vermont where she lived.

The Shirley Jackson Awards were established in 2007. They are in recognition of her legacy in writing, and are awarded for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

Shirley Jackson on Writing ~ It’s great fun and I love it. For one thing, it’s the only way I can get to sit down … It’s so deeply satisfying—like having a winning hand at poker.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's time for the Book Blogger Hop with Jennifer at Crazy for Books. You get the whole weekend to browse various other blogs and all book genres. Believe me you will be chatting up a new friend immediately.

This week's burning question: Do you have any pets?
Answer: Yes! I have this blog's namesake, the gato otherwise known as Kitty. He helps me select a new book to read each week. Kitty and I also share our home with our dog, Sadie.

Kitty otherwise known as The Gato

The lovely Sadie

I recently completed a review of And Then There Were None by the master of mystery, Dame Agatha Christie. To read it, just click here!

The Gato, Sadie and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: And Then There Were None

The Backstory: Who hasn't enjoyed a well crafted mystery, especially one by the master herself, Agatha Christie. I have gotten to know the characters of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and Tommy and Tuppence through the written word and of course through the PBS Mystery series. Unfortunately, it's been way too long since I've read a Christie novel so when I saw And Then There None at a local used book sale, I was beside myself with anticipation.

Ten visitors to a remote island off the Devon coast are about to face their worst nightmares. They each have something fuzzy in their past. Some try to forget while others try justify the event in their minds. Upon reaching their destination they discover that their host/hostess is not on the island. As dinner winds up on their first evening, a clear and mysterious voice seems to come out of nowhere and addresses each guest in turn with shocking news of their past crimes. Justice has come calling and the first death occurs that evening as they struggle to come to grips with what is happening.

Eventually, the group comes to the realization that the murderer is one of them and this is where the story get very tense with each person suspecting the other. One by one they meet the fate that was planned for each of them until...there were none.

How we find out who the murderer is may be a bit fanciful but then again he did declare he was a romantic. I said he, but could it have been a she?

My Take: Imagine you get an invitation to Kim Kardashian's wedding except the invitation is not from the bride but a dear long lost friend of yours who invites you to come as her guest. Never mind that it's been forever that you've seen this friend and actually you're just a bit hazy as to how you met or know her - it's Kim K's wedding and you are so there!

Ten people also say yes to similar invitations and find themselves lured to a private island where one by one, like a ticking time bomb, they fall prey to murder. Rretribution is being meted out and planned to unfold according to an old nursery rhyme. Frankly, how anyone could call this a nursery rhyme is beyond me. You can read it here.

This book has held up since it was first published in 1939. I first read it as a young teen in the 60s and it creeped me out. Guess what, it is still creepy and it is still a spectacular read. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. You'll discover what great mystery writing is all about.

Book Quotes: It's mad! - absolutely mad - we're all mad ..... I've no doubt in my mind that we've been invited here by a madman - probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic ..... Ten people dead on an island and not a living soul on it. It doesn't make sense.

Author: Agatha Christie

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Agatha Christie is the best selling author of all time with William Shakespeare the best selling author of any type.

Agatha Christie describes her childhood as being a happy one but during a particular period in her adult life things turned out to be as mysterious and full of drama as her books.

During the First World War, Christie worked as a hospital nurse a job and later at a hospital pharmacy which would become critical to her writing as most of the murders that occur in her books feature poison as the cause of death.

On Christmas Eve 1914, Agatha married Archibald Christie and eventually had one child, a daughter. In 1926 after an argument with her husband in which he revealed he had a mistress, he left their home. Later that same evening Agatha also left their home leaving behind a note for her secretary. Despite a massive manhunt she wasn't found for 11 days. In 1930 Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowen and by all accounts their marriaged was a happy one until Christie's death in 1976.

A very proper young English lady. Doesn't she look great?

Advice on Writing: The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.

A Side Dish of Controversy: I knew that there was some controversy with what I thought was the original title of this book, Ten Little Indians but there was an even more distasteful title that you can read about here. I think you will be more than a little shocked as I was.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Ready for another weekend of Book Blogger Hopping? Join us over at Jennifer's Crazy for Books and get ready to make new friends at the Hop. All genre's are represented so you'll be able to find to find a new friend easy.

This week's mind blowing question: Let’s talk crazy book titles! Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles!

My answer: Well, perhaps not crazy titles but I do have a few titles that are a play on words like, Sticks and Scones by Diana Mott Davidson or how about Claws and Effect by Rita May Brown.

As I write this there are 163 entries on the Blog Hop so make sure you're next! You have until Monday to participate, so get hopping!

In the meantime, the Gato and I would like to introduce you to two kitties who wanted to be a part of the Book Fiend's Gallery. Madlynn (top kitty) McKaela (below) live with their family that includes an African Gray parrot named Willie and a soon-to-be little sibling who arrives in March. Everyone is over the moon!

If you have a cat who is just itching to join the Book Fiend's Galley, just drop me a note. The more the merrier!

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

I'm happy to be joining up with Jennifer at Crazy for Books once again! If you haven't already go visit with Jennifer and meet up with your fellow book bloggers for some fun.

This week's question is...

Question: What is the one ARC you would love to get your hands on right now?

Answer: I really don't know. Perhaps the latest Elizabeth Peters.

You can check my latest cozy mystery review, Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson right here!

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

The Back Story: I read my first Goldy Schulz mystery back in the 90s when we did a book swap at work. I got my hands on Catering to Nobody the first book in the series. It was the first time I had heard of a cozy culinary mystery. I loved it; still love it, though I’ve yet to make one of the recipes!

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

This is not Goldy’s first turn at the rodeo but she does get a few surprises thrown at her. Goldy, a Colorado Caterer and owner of Goldilock’s Catering “where everything is just right,” finds herself in a bear of job. Simply put, why did she decide to cater the wedding reception of Bridezilla Billie, a spoiled, indulgent little rich girl? They make reality shows about girls like Billie. Unfortunately for Goldy, her penchant for espresso is not going to help this case one bit.

The sudden death of Aspen Meadows’ beloved doctor in a car crash is thought to be an accident but was it really murder? Goldy’s godfather Jack is convinced that is the case as the doc was investigating some shady goings on at the Golden Gulch Spa. So Goldy slips into her chef‘s whites and does a little digging at the spa where she also happens to be catering Bridezilla Billie’s reception.

My Take: If they did a reality show about bridezillas – oh wait, they do! – then this bride would take home the cake! I have enjoyed Goldy’s adventures in the past but perhaps it has become a little too familiar for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a girl who can make lemonade when life throws her lemons and then some. But I missed Tom, Arch and Marla and wish they weren’t relegated to the background so much but I did enjoy meeting Yolanda, a spitfire of a chef.

About the Author:

Diane Mott Davidson is the author of 16 cozy mysteries with a culinary theme featuring Goldy Schulz. Mott Davidson studied political science at Wellesley College and interestingly enough lived across the hall from Hillary Clinton. I’m assuming there was no cookie baking going on in the dorms! You can visit with Diane at her Harper Collins website or follow her on Facebook.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

It time to join up with Jennifer at Crazy for Books! Discover new book blogs and make new friends with her fun Book Blogger Hop.

This week's stirring question: What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can’t?

My answer: I cannot get into romance novels plain and simple. I'm also getting a little burned out on paranormal but I'm still reading them.

I feel a review coming next week for

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson!

And finally, if you have never heard of Comic Con, read about it here.

Comic Con 2011

For the past few years San Diego has been home to Comic Con. When I first moved here in 2000, I kept hearing about it but I really wasn't quite sure what it was. Let me tell you that it's a phenomenon and grows substantially each year.

The convention has grown so huge that the city of San Diego had to fight last year to keep it here. Alas, when the contract is up, I am sure it will move only because we do not have the facilities large enough to accommodate it anymore.

Packed exhibit space

The craziness that is Comic Con

The Twilight folks were there for interview sessions, photo ops, autographs and a few sneaky peaks of Breaking Dawn.

Take a look!

The premiere of Cowboys and Aliens was not in LA or New York but right here in San Diego!

Red carpet photos!
Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart

Daniel Craig

the BIG news for me was confirmation that Jurassaic Park IV is in the works!


"We have a story," Spielberg said. "A writer is currently working on the treatment for [that story]...and the hope is to see Jurassic Park 4 in the next 2 or 3 years."

My advice to everyone?


And that's another Comic Con for the books.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Hi fellow book bloggers! I'm a little late to the book party but better late than never right? Jennifer at Crazy for Books hosts this fun meme and it gives us the chance to discover new book blogs and party with friends.

This week’s question comes from Veronica who blogs at: Read Books, Have Fun:

How/Where do you get your books? Do you buy them or go to the library? Is there a certain website you use like paperbackswap?

My Answer: I have built up my library mainly from library book sales. They sell books starting at FREE to a quarter, 50 cents and $1. Very affordable for me and the money goes to a good cause.

Enjoy the fun of discovering new book blogs!

And before I forget, you can tune in tonight to get the back story on the creator of Harry Potter! I am planning to plant myself in front of the TV tonight at 8pm for Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story on the Lifetime Channel.

The gato and I will be enjoying the movie with a big bowl of popcorn and kitty treats! The movie, by the way, repeats on Saturday night.

Expecto Patronum!

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's Summer

I hope you will join with me and the Gato and pull up a chair (or hammock!) in the shade along with a tall cool drink and let's talk books!

While the Gato and I have been missing from the book blogging world that doesn't mean we haven't been reading. The Gato himself enjoyed Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the inspiration for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.

As for myself I read a million and one chicklits but sadly can only recommend two of them. If you enjoy chicklit try The First Assistant (a follow up to The Second Assistant) by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare. Both books are fun and a kind of insider's look into the Hollywood PR machine.

My niece loves Emily Griffin's books so I found Something Blue at The Friend's of the Library book sale a while back. Finally got around to reading it...what took me so long? It's a great book.

I also discovered Perri O'Shaughnessy's thrillers. Perri O'Shaughnessy is actually two people, sisters to be precise, Mary and Pamela O'Shaughnessy. They have created a great character in attorney Nina Reilly, you'll enjoy Unlucky in Law.

I read quite a few cozy mysteries especially The Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun. I love revisiting with James Qwilleran and his two Siamese Koko and Yum Yum not to mention all the folk that live in the ficticious town of Pickax located in Moose County "40 miles north of everywhere." To read my review of two Cat Who books click here. Sadly the 97 year old Ms. Jackson Braun passed away last month. You can read about her passing as reported in the New York Times. I shall miss her cozy writing style.

And finally, the Gato and I would like to welcome the newest member to the Book Fiend's Gallery, Mr. Tux Twist. Tux, short for Tuxedo, was recently adopted and enjoys catnip cocktails, sci-fi movies (he is excited about the return of Torchwood), Captain America, and YES an evening walk with his family. Enjoy this little photo tribute featuring Tux!

Dolores, come outside and check this out, you won't believe it?
Whatchu talkin' 'bout Willis?
It's dang near the craziest thing I eva seen!
A cat on a leash, why I never!

Can a cat have some privacy?

I spy...

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
It's good to be back!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The gato and I would like to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July!

Have fun!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Watch for the return of The Literary Gato!

Coming soon!