Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Review from my 2005 book journals:

In summer 1954, two U.S. marshals, protagonist Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, arrive on Shutter Island, not far from Boston, to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando from the prison/hospital for the criminally insane that dominates the island. The marshals’ digging gets them nowhere fast as they learn of Rachel’s apparently miraculous escape past locked doors and myriad guards, and as they encounter roadblocks and lies strewn across their path-most notably by the hospital’s chief physician, the enigmatic J. Cawley-and pick up hints of illegal brain surgery performed at the hospital. Then, as a major hurricane bears down on the island, inciting a riot among the insane and cutting off all access to the mainland, they begin to fear for their lives. All of the characters-particularly Teddy, haunted by the tragic death of his wife-are wonderful creations, but no more wonderful than the spot-on dialogue with which Lehane brings them to life and the marvelous prose that enriches the narrative. There are mysteries within mysteries in this novel, some as obvious as the numerical codes that the missing patient leaves behind and which Teddy, a code breaker in WWII, must solve; some as deep as the most profound fears of the human heart.

◊        ◊        ◊         ◊          ◊        ◊         ◊

I had found this book through Swaptree and when it arrived I looked at the cover with a picture of a prison on an island on it and thought. “What was I thinking?”  How did this book get on my wish list?  Then I remembered, Dennis Lehane wrote Mystic River, which I loved (the book anyway, the movie I hated).  So why not a book on a prison?

This book turned out to be a two day read that I could hardly put down.  US  Marshall Teddy Daniels is a strong character who had a mission on the island to find a missing prisoner who has done the impossible and escaped somewhere on the island.  Yet Teddy’s motives are not all one sided.  Lehane keeps this book flowing forward with twists and turns and when it is all done –

You sit back and can’t believe that you didn’t see that coming, yet knowing that Lehanes’ clues are so well woven into  the story itself that how could you have known?

An absolute delight to read.  This book which came out in 2004 and I am looking forward to the movie, although I do not remember the book being as scary as the movie sounds.

I highly recommend this read.

Have you read the book or seen the movie?  Are you planning to?

Merlin’s Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

When I was yet a very young woman I threw my heart away. Ever since then I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, the way Humans think all Fey live.

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and greed of man. But the strife of King Arthur’s realm threatens even the peace of Avalon. And while Merlin the mage has been training Niviene as his apprentice, he now needs her help to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. Niviene’s special talents must help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love…

¬     ¬     ¬     ¬     ¬     ¬     ¬

A Counsel Oak Leaf Song

Water rising under rock,

Break Earth’s lock,

Floods thirsty roots,

Nurtures sap and trunk and shoots,

Greens and plumps each greedy leaf,

Till dappled sunlight like a thief,

Sucks leaf-water as I breathe,

Makes of mist and airy wreath

To drift and float and wander high

To the sky,

And fall again,

Sweet rich rain,

Run under rock, ans

Rise again.

~ Merlin’s Harp

I like a good fantasy read and the story that was proposed here about Merlin and Arthur really called to me.  I have to admit – there is a bit of cover love here too….. I mean look at it!  Wouldn’t you want to enter these pages too?  I felt it could be magical…. and really hoped it would be.

Nivienne (I imagine rhymes with Vivienne) is a Fey.  A Fey lives off in the forests separated from man as much as they can be.  The story is told from Nivienne strong perspective and I liked that a story that in the past has had a masculine feel to it, was now being told by a woman…. err… a Fey.  Feminine.

I enjoyed the poetry of the book but I seemed to get lost in the activity of what was happening.  I like descriptive reads and I did not fully get the look and feel of their surroundings.  This left me with a sense of constantly trying to stay caught up in the story.

I wanted to enjoy this book and honestly have to admit I struggled and bumbled my way through it never catching the flow.

You can read the first chapter here

Please take time to read other thoughts on this book: 20-Feb 22-Feb 23-Feb 23-Feb 24-Feb 1-Mar 2-Mar 2-Mar 3-Mar 3-Mar 3-Mar 4-Mar 5-Mar 7-Mar 8-Mar 9-Mar 10-Mar 11-Mar 12-Mar 13-Mar 15-Mar 15-Mar 15-Mar 16-Mar 17-Mar 18-Mar 19-Mar 20-Mar 22-Mar 23-Mar 23-Mar 24-Mar (Portland) 25-Mar 26-Mar

I received my copy of this book from Sourcebooks

Morning Meanderings…

I think it has been a long time since I really just meandered all over with this ongoing version of me “unplugged”.  So hopefully you will stay with me today as Coffee Cup and I just rattle on about all things in my head…

First of all I know I have many of you out there who tell me you LOVE LOVE LOVE this morning post.  And with that I give a sheepish thanks… I love doing it.  You may be wondering why I don’t do it on Sunday or Monday.  I do two memes a week – The In My Mailbox hosted by Story Siren and The Its Monday What Are You Reading, formally hosted by the wonderful J Kaye’s Blog and now hosted by me.  When I do these two meme’s I try not to post anything else on the blog during the day so these posts can take center stage.

  • The In My Mailbox not only gives me a chance to share what came in my house bookish, it is also an online record for me to keep track when books did arrive.
  • The It’s Monday What Are You Reading meme is the day I really get a chance to connect with other bloggers and see what they are reading currently and what they have finished up on.

Both of these posts are very social for me.  I like to connect with fellow readers, and have conversations through the comments left here and through their blogs as well.

The rest of the week, hopefully I can Morning Meander.  🙂  Today I am “gyming” it up again.  I am getting back on track and didn’t miss a work out all weekend!  I am still alone this week, Al will get back late Sunday night so that gives me  another week here of a lot of down time and reading time.   It’s funny because after spending three weeks with Al pretty much consistently every day I thought I would really enjoy this break.  I mean, owning our own business really puts us running most of the time in opposite directions.  During season (end of March – end of November) we hardly see each other at all, maybe a couple hours a night but between long hours and office work… there is not a lot of “us” time.  When there is a lot of that – I get a bit stir crazy because I am so used to being independent.  Now… I am missing him and ready to have him home and snuggling on the couch watching Survivor or Amazing Race together.  *sigh

Currently I am spending my mornings filling the wood stove ( a chore I take over when he is gone), doing a little morning devotion time, hanging out with the Coffee Cup, working out if I am super ambitious and then to the office.  Late afternoons are running errands if I must, and doing any house related tasks that await me.  I eat dinner and settle in usually with my laptop, a book, and a movie….  not to all be done at once, but instead to give me choices at my fingertips.

I have bunches of reviews to catch up on…. I don’t know why it takes me so long to write them when sharing with all of you is one of my favorite parts!

Anyway… enough rambling by me…..  I have “oatmealed” up…. had my coffee and if all went as I had planned in my head last night…. I have made my way to the gym at 5:30 am for a spin class which I hate but thought if I did it super early no one I knew would be see me suffer through the horrors of the stationary bike.

Hopefully I will have a book review of every day this week to help push me forward and get caught up!  Enjoy your day and I would love to hear what is your favorite way to work out?  (I can always use tips!)

Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven by Susan Jane Gillman

In 1986, Susan Jane Gilman and a classmate embarked on a bold trek around the globe starting in the People’s Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent backpackers for roughly ten minutes. Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche and Linda Goodman’s Love Signs, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads–hungry, disoriented, stripped of everything familiar, and under constant government surveillance. Soon, they began to unravel–one physically, the other psychologically. As their journey became increasingly harrowing, they found themselves facing crises that Susan didn’t think they’d survive. But by summoning strengths she never knew she had–and with help from unexpected friends–the two travelers found their way out of a Chinese heart of darkness.

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

Can you say road trip?  😉

I love the story here!  Author Susan Jame Gillman shares in this memoir, a road trip here and her friend Claire took when they were in college.  I love that!  As they venture into China their story unfold at first as a fun girls trip to quickly escalating into something I would describe as pretty scary fro me – let alone two young college girls in the 80’s, which would be the exact time frame when I would have been getting out of school myself!

As the girls do their exploring things change rapidly for Claire and I don’t want to give too much away here, but let me just say her mental health became unstable which puts a bit of a scary dimension to the book as the story unfolds.  For myself I can not imagine dealing with such circumstances in an area unknown to myself and no one to turn to for help.

Susan writes this story with a refreshingly funny and open voice and with a wonderful recollection of the events that took place.  At times I was in awe of what was happening, and at other times I laughed out loud.  I found her writing descriptive and I could get a good picture of a country and people who I have never had the experience of seeing for myself.  Through Susan’s eyes and her words I feel as though I have just closed the pages to an exciting adventure.

About The Author

Susan Jane Gillman is the author of three nonfiction books, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Kiss My Tiara (see bookshelf). Have contributed to numerous  anthologies, worked as journalist, and written for New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Ms., Real Simple, Washington City Paper, Us magazine among others. Won New York Press  Association Award for features written on assignment in Poland.

In her own words: Funny, but... I never set out to write books that made people laugh. My main love has always been literary fiction, and the first book I completed (which has yet to be published) was a collection of serious short stories. However, even with my darkest work, people would always tell me that parts of it were funny. This annoyed me because I aspired to be an American Dostoevsky with Breasts.
But in 1999, I took a writers’ workshop at the Bethesda Writers’ Center. The first story I submitted was a heartbreaking tale of a man’s addiction, which impressed the class. The second was an absurd story about mistaken identity full of Jews, Rastafarians, and dental hygienists. To my great irritation, the class liked this one infinitely more.
After class, a man pulled me aside. “I have to tell you,” he said. “My wife has been battling breast cancer. I read her your story last night, and it was the first time in two years she really laughed. You’ve got a gift. Please don’t ignore it. Not everyone can make a sick woman laugh in her hospital bed.”  That’s when I finally saw the merit in my own, lurking smart-ass and stopped fighting it.

My review copy was given to me by Hachette Book Group