Showing posts with label dennis lehane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dennis lehane. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation: The Goldfinch

Hello lovelies!  Got something a little different for you today.

The positively fabulous Katie from Words for Worms recently alerted me to the new-ish 6 Degrees of Separation meme, started by Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith.  Basically, they pick a new book each month, and you start with your thoughts on that book...then, through free association, you link it to 6 other books.  Yup, totally one of those awesome meme ideas that makes you think, "WHY didn't I get that superb idea first??"

This month's book is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  AND GO!

You may remember that I read this one pretty recently, and loved it (review here).  I read very few chunksters last year (The Goldfinch is hella long), and this book reminded me why it's nice to slow down and do a longer read sometimes.  Which brings to mind my current chunky read...

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

I am about 60% done with this book, and positively adoring it.  It's pretty much the definition of an "epic novel".  Based on the cover and tidbits I've heard about the book/movie in the past, I assumed this was going to be one long romance about Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler.  But it is way, WAY more than that. Scarlett is one of the most fabulous characters I've encountered in quite some time, and I'm learning way more about the Civil War than I ever did in history class (sorry, high school history teachers).

Hmm, when was the last time I even read anything concerning the Civil War?  I guess that would be...

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

(This counts as a Civil War book, yes?)  I went through my Goodreads list, and this is the closest I've gotten to anything Yankees v. Confederates since 2010.  Even though this book is totally NOT historically accurate, it IS hilarious and basically blames vampires for starting the Civil War.  Just don't bother seeing the movie version, which totally sucked in comparison.

You know what other book was completely butchered on the big screen?

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Just UGH.  How can you take a stellar book that is practically DEFINED by its ending, make a movie about it...and CHANGE THE ENDING??  I saw this movie several years ago, and it still makes me mad to think about it.  Humph.

I love it when a book has such a shocking, rock-solid ending.  One of my favorite twist-ending novels is definitely...

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about.  The conclusion is unexpected, but in such a subtle way, it will leave you thinking about it for weeks.  (And thankfully, Scorcese got it all right on screen.)

The cover for this book (pictured above) is awesomely creepy, much like the story itself.  But of course, when the movie came out, they started releasing the book with a movie-version cover.  I HATE it when that happens, and I will always buy the pre-movie book cover when I have the chance.  Honestly, I think the only book I own that has a movie-version cover is...

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

And that's because it was a cheap buy in the airport on my way to a conference in Dallas back in 2008.  Luckily I like Natalie Portman, or I might find it unbearable.

This book is likely responsible for starting my interest in historical fiction...I hadn't read much in that genre beforehand.  However, one of my all-time favorite historical fiction novels is actually one that I read for a class in high school, and that would be

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

I am totally due for a re-read of it.

So there's my 6 degrees!  Hope you enjoyed following my train of thought on this one!  Any other participants out there for this month?  I've read a few good ones already, especially at The Steadfast Reader and GirlXOXO.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Extravaganza!

I don't normally take part in the "stack your shelf" or "mailbox Monday" posts, because sharing book hauls isn't my usual cup of tea.  But thanks to some lovely gift cards this Christmas, I raided Amazon and Barnes and Noble this week, and I had to share the spoils!

Generally, when I use gift cards, I try very hard to stick with bargain-priced and marked-down books, because I figure I can always borrow the full-price hardcovers from the library (or wait until they go on sale).  I'm not impatient enough with book releases to spend the $$ on new arrivals.  So I'm fairly proud of the amount of books I was able to get with just two $50 gift cards!

First up, my Amazon haul for my Kindle:

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
Don't Breathe A Word by Jennifer McMahon
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Amazon doesn't let you search by price (BOOOOO), so I never do as well there as I do at B+N.

Here's my B+N haul (shipping this week!):

Fragile by Lisa Unger
William Shakespeare: Complete Plays
Dracula by Bram Stoker (with a very cool cover design)
The Inferno by Dante
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Crashers by Dana Haynes
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
The Brightest Star In The Sky by Marian Keyes
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
Promises to Keep by Jane Green

I also received one book as a gift from my husband: July 7th by Jill McCorkle. 

July 7th is my son's birthday, so my husband snagged me a copy when he found it online!

What are your book shopping strategies?  Did you receive any good reads this holiday season?

Monday, December 3, 2012

November 2012 In Review

Small Fry demands turkey satisfaction.

November...was crazy.  Reading wise, it was great.  I liked pretty much every book I read (felt a little lukewarm about 1-2, but overall, I'd say I at least liked them).  Some months aren't always like that.  Back in July or so, I felt like I was reading NOTHING but bad books.  Luckily that was before the blog was born, so you did not need to share in my misery.  :)

Just to add a little spice to my monthly wrap-ups, I've decided to name my favorite, and least favorite, book read each month.  Which is really hard this particular month, given that none of my books were very low on the rating scale!  Sooooo:

November 2012 Favorite: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
November 2012 Least Favorite: Landing by Emma Donoghue

With that, let's review the rest of my reading month.

I read and reviewed 7 books (click links for my reviews):
Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
Being Santa Claus by Sal Lizard with Jonathan Lane
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
The Light of Amsterdam by David Park
Landing by Emma Donoghue
Deadline by Mira Grant
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

I also posted 2 mini reviews of past reads:
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
In The Woods by Tana French

And I posted 4 new Small Fry Saturdays!
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Peekaboo Kisses by Barney Saltzberg
Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton
I'm A T.Rex! by Dennis Shealy

In the midst of all this, I shared deep thoughts about self-published novels, tried to find ways to read without ignoring my husband, talked about my hotly-anticipated 2013 releases, and hosted another giveaway.

Nowadays, I am gearing up for the Christmas season in a big way.  Luckily, I am nearly done with shopping, so now I can concentrate on kissing under the mistletoe and keeping my toddler out of the tree.  :)  And of course, MORE READING!

Do you have any favorite Christmas-themed reads?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deja Vu Review (3)


The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read pre-blog.  This week's topic is mystery novels.  I went through my Goodreads list and realized I haven't read nearly as many mysteries as I thought.  I guess I need to rectify that!

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane


I know, I know, I've mentioned Dennis Lehane way too much around here already.  But when I think of good mystery novels, Shutter Island is tops on my list.  The story begins in 1954 with Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal who is investigating a missing patient from the mental hospital on Shutter Island.  However, this mystery about the patient quickly escalates into a tangled web of suspense, as Daniels learns more about the hospital, and reveals information about his own past.

I love a mystery that makes me feel like I am working just as hard as the protagonist to figure out "whodunit".  Shutter Island made me feel that way, times ten.  I don't want to give too much away, but Lehane does a superb job building suspense, and the ending is probably one of my favorites in the history of ever.  If you haven't read this yet, you MUST!  (Bonus: the Scorcese film is phenomenal--one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen.  Watch it when you're done reading!)

In The Woods by Tana French


I heard SO many good recommendations for this book, that I had to give it a try last year.  It opens with Detective Rob Ryan, who had 2 friends who disappeared (and were presumed murdered) when he was young.  He was present when they disappeared, but got severe amnesia and was never able to tell police what happened.  Nowadays, he’s a cop in Ireland who is called in to investigate a murder that happened disturbingly close to where his friends disappeared.  

I loved the suspense in this book.  I had some suspicions about who the murderer actually was, but the way it came together at the end was great.  However, there is one BIG detail that is not resolved in the novel, and I thought for sure it would be.  I was so puzzled at the end when it wasn’t solved, that I started searching online to see if there is a sequel or something (there isn’t).  I was super disappointed about it.  I can’t tell you what it is because it would be a huge spoiler alert, but trust me, it’s big.  Anyway, this is a great book in terms of thrills and suspense, but not entirely satisfying because of the way the end was wrapped up.

What are some of your favorite mysteries?

Monday, October 1, 2012

September 2012 in Review

Here's my wrap-up for September...another great reading month!  The blog is definitely keeping me motivated these days.

I read and reviewed 7 books (click links for my reviews):
Sometimes It Snows in America by Marisa Labozzetta
The Confession by John Grisham
The Beach House by Jane Green
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
A Drink Before The War by Dennis Lehane
Beneath The Glitter by Elle & Blair Fowler
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

I also posted a full review for 1 past read:
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

And 5 mini reviews of past reads:
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Plus, I met Dennis Lehane, and celebrated my anniversary, my birthday, Bloggiesta, and Banned Book Week.  Does it get any better?

I have a lot of good books I'm looking forward to in October--can't wait to share them all with you!  I'm especially trying to find some good spooky reads for Halloween.

What are your favorite Halloween reads?

And don't forget, my Banned Book giveaway is still going on...here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dennis Lehane reading/signing!


As promised, here's my rundown of the Dennis Lehane event that I went to last night.  It was hosted by the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, and co-sponsored by the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady, NY.  The event was free but required advance registration (which of course, I did online at the exact.very.minute that it opened).

This was my first-ever book reading/signing, and I've been a Lehane fan for a while, so I was pretty darn stoked.  If you're unfamiliar, Lehane has written several well-known fiction novels, such as Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, and The Given Day.



First, I had to decide which book(s) to buy.  I was going to get a hardcover copy of his new one, Live By Night, which is coming out next week.  However, it was $30 and I couldn't have gotten it last night--if you bought one, he would sign it afterwards and you could pick it up at the library on the release date next week.  I was feeling impatient (wanted my book NOW!) and also wanted more bang for my buck, so instead, I bought paperback copies of Shutter Island (my fave Lehane book thus far) and Gone Baby Gone.  I also had my own copy of A Drink Before The War with me.


Armed with my books, I got a pretty good aisle seat towards the front of the presentation room.  Lehane came out and the party began!


He started by doing a reading from Live By Night's first chapter.  Dennis Lehane is a master of the Boston voice, both in print and in person, so hearing him read on behalf of his characters was awesome.  It's a historical fiction novel (or a "gangster novel", as he put it) set in 1920's Boston during Prohibition.  Very different from some of his past crime novels (like the Kenzie and Gennaro books).  I'm eager to get my hands on a copy after hearing the reading!

After the reading, Lehane took questions from the audience.  And I gotta say, this guy is a HOOT.  So funny.  My favorite parts of the evening were when he would tell stories about his visits to Boston, especially after his books turned to movies and he became more well-known..  (Like the drunk guy in a bar who came up to him and demanded, "So, you the guy that wrote The Departed, eh?...Is Matt Damon really short?")

I took a few notes, so you could get a sense of what he covered during the Q+A:

On his best advice for aspiring writers:
"My first piece of advice is to read.  Read all the time.  If you don't read, then you need to do something else."
"Writing, like anything, if you're gonna get good at it, it takes 10 years...I published at 8, but I didn't know what I was doing until ten."
"Always have your character want something. 'Mike realized he was out of milk.'  That's a great opening line, because everyone will keep reading until he gets the milk, or he doesn't."
"Don't think of yourself as a writer; think of yourself as a storyteller."

On screenwriting vs novel writing (he has been a screenwriter for The Wire):
"Novelists are God, and screenwriters are God's tailors...And somehow, God's tailors get paid more than God."
"The hardest thing as a novelist is describing rooms...because you have to describe something static and make it interesting.  Screenwriting makes that so much easier."

On writing recurring characters (like Kenzie/Gennaro) vs new ones:
"Writing about the same characters...it's like putting on an old pair of jeans.  They're comfortable, but they're a little out of style, and they don't fit as well, because you got fatter...but there's a sense of discovery with new characters that I love...that's why right now, I prefer writing non-series novels."  (Sorry readers, sounds like no more Kenzie/Gennaro in the near future!)

On how involved he was in the making of the movie Shutter Island:
"I was involved...until Martin Scorsese took over.  At that point, what are you gonna say? 'I dunno Marty, I think the camera would look better over there?'"

He also mentioned that Leonardo DiCaprio's company already bought the rights to Live By Night, so you can expect to see that on the big screen sometime in the future!

Overall, it was a fantastic event.  Lehane was clearly very comfortable with the audience, and there was lots of laughter to go around.


Afterwards, we lined up in the hallway for the signing.  Lehane was friendly, and graciously wrote me a happy birthday message in my copy of Shutter Island:


I had him sign the other two books as well (sans birthday greeting).  As he was signing, I'll admit I was a little fan-girly, with shaking hands and goofy high-pitched voice.  I rambled for a little while, complimenting him on how well he writes "Boston-speak", and as he finished up the books he smiled and said thanks.  I high-tailed it out of there before I ruined the moment with any additional silly comments.  Overall, a win for me, since I am generally a nervous squirrel by nature and had seriously entertained the possibility that I could end up puking on my shoes.

So that was my birthday evening with Dennis Lehane!  (Wow, I did not mean for that to sound as illicit as it does.)  Tell me--have you been to any good author events lately?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Get your happy pants on!

It's my birthday, y'all!  I've still got 1 year of 20's left!

And it's my one-month blogaversary!


AND I'm going to the Dennis Lehane signing tonight!

I was going to do a giveaway today, in honor of this most momentous of days, but I recently found out that I'm going to be a part of the Banned Book week event (next week) hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, and that includes a giveaway.  Yup, right here on The Well-Read Redhead.  I'd love to do 2 giveaways, but I'm not made of money, y'all.  Blogging just don't pay.  So you have to wait til Sunday for a chance at freebies.  :)

In the meantime, enjoy your Monday, and I will have a full Dennis Lehane report tomorrow.  Pinky swears.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: A Drink Before The War by Dennis Lehane

Title: A Drink Before The War
Author: Dennis Lehane
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: November 1994
Source: Personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads:

Kenzie and Gennaro are private investigators in the blue-collar neighborhoods and ghettos of South Boston-they know it as only natives can. Working out of an old church belfry, Kenzie and Gennaro take on a seemingly simple assignment for a prominent politician: to uncover the whereabouts of Jenna Angeline, a black cleaning woman who has allegedly stolen confidential state documents. Finding Jenna, however, is easy compared to staying alive once they've got her. The investigation escalates, implicating members of Jenna's family and rival gang leaders while uncovering extortion, assassination, and child prostitution extending from bombed-out ghetto streets to the highest levels of government. 

My Review:
As mentioned previously, I am going to a Dennis Lehane reading/signing at my library on 9/24 (SQUEEEEE), so I wanted to read at least one more of his novels before the event.  I read Shutter Island a couple of years ago, which I can only describe as amazeballs, so I had high hopes for his other work too.

A Drink Before The War is actually the first in a series of novels Lehane has written around private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro.  If you've seen the movie Gone, Baby, Gone, that was a later book in the Kenzie/Gennaro series.  This book is narrated by Kenzie, and I was immediately a huge fan of his voice.  It was basically like every guy from Good Will Hunting and The Departed got together and wrote his dialogue.  Lehane doesn't emphasize the Boston accent, but you can hear it in your head as you read.  Kenzie is the perfect Boston blend of sarcastic, funny, and crass.  (Trust me, I'm a Yankee fan who constantly gets heckled by Bostonians--I know what that sounds like.)  His POV is what sets this apart from your typical crime novel.

As for the plot--it does have a lot of what you'd consider to be the "cliched" parts of a P.I. crime story.  Two partners who often clash, crazy gunfights in broad daylight, run-ins with the cops...nothing out of the ordinary.  The real twist towards the end is probably something you could see coming (though oblivious me, who never properly guesses the ending to ANYTHING, was surprised).  If this story was just about the action, it wouldn't be anything special.

However, Lehane also wraps in a lot of issues concerning race and power, which adds a different dimension to it all.  He makes a valiant effort to illustrate the racial tension in blue-collar Boston in the early 1990's, and this bit of sociological perspective heightens the typical good guy/bad guy story line.  He also shows us how many of the characters (black and white) think through their own feelings on race throughout the novel.  This, paired with Kenzie's unique voice, is what made this more than the average thriller for me.

Overall?  If you're into crime stories, mysteries, and thrillers, this will be right up your alley.  And if you like those genres but find them too cliched, I'd still suggest giving this a try--because while it has some of that, I think it also brings something new to the table.  I'm definitely looking forward to more Kenzie and Gennaro!

(Plus?  It takes place in 1994.  The references to cassette tapes, boom boxes, high top fades, and the inability to Google anything are priceless.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Are You Reading? (2)

Happy Monday, y'all!  I am currently digging out from under the pile of emails, tweets, and blog posts that I need to catch up on after our anniversary weekend.  We went away to Newport and Providence, Rhode Island for an overnight, and it was amazing!  Hubs and I haven't done an overnight away from Lil Dude since he was born, so it was a pretty big deal for us.  A short getaway, but a much needed time to recharge and celebrate!

I admittedly did not get much reading done this weekend, but right now I am currently reading:
A Drink Before The War by Dennis Lehane
Loving it so far!  Excellent mystery, and the Boston-speak of the characters is spot-on.

I'm also still listening to The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd on audio.

What will I read next?  Ooooh, I have so many to choose from, and I'm not sure what to pick first.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (for Banned Book Week)
Beneath the Glitter by Elle and Blair Fowler (received ARC from publisher, can't wait to read)
Every Day by David Levithan (have it from the library and have heard great things)
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith (have been waiting to read this for a long time)

What's your vote for my next read?  And what are YOU reading today?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Labor Day to all my fellow laboring (and non-laboring) Americans!  I was hoping to do a few other posts this weekend, but it's just been way too beautiful outside to be at the computer.  Never fear though, I've got lots o' reading going on, and a few new reviews should be coming your way this week.

What Are You Reading? is hosted weekly by Book Journey.  Here's what's been on my reading plate (and will be soon):

Read This Week:

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (see my review here)

Reading Now:

The Confession by John Grisham (audiobook, currently finishing up the last CD)

The Beach House by Jane Green (awesome so far!)

Sometimes It Snows In America by Marisa Labozzetta (ARC from Guernica Editions, almost done)

Reading Next:

Mystic River, and A Drink Before The War (both by Dennis Lehane)
My local library is holding a reading/signing with Lehane on 9/24, and I got a seat!  So I want to hurry up and read these beforehand (already own both but never read).  The only book of his that I've read so far is Shutter Island, which was fan-effing-tastic, so I am looking forward to these.

So, what are YOU reading?
 
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