May 31, 2011

Book Review: MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER: A SEASON IN MANSFIELD PARK by Cindy Jones

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  A down on her luck woman goes on an Austen-inspired journey of self-discovery in Jones's middling debut. After Lily Berry loses her mother, gets dumped by her boyfriend, and is fired, she finds in her passion for all things Jane Austen (Jane, indeed, is Lily's imaginary friend) an escape route: she travels to England to participate in a Jane Austen re-enacting festival. Full of enthusiasm—but not acting talent—Lily is not embraced by many of the Janeites, but this doesn't prevent her from meeting a charismatic actor, contending with an impossible roommate, and struggling with dark family secrets, all while trying to find the courage to be the protagonist of her own story. While Jones does a credible job of creating a heroine in transition, Lily's process of self-realization isn't nearly as involving as the subplots, which is quite unfortunate, considering how much time is devoted to sussing out her issues.


I chose Cindy Jones' new novel, My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park, due to the Austen connection and the overall storyline.  Although Mansfield Park is not my personal favorite of Jane Austen's works I thought the concept sounded like Austenland by Shannon Hale, which I loved reading. 

While there were similarities to Ms. Hale's work, in the end My Jane Austen Summer didn't gel for me.  Perhaps the initial, and main, problem was that I didn't connect with Lily, the main character of the book.  I wanted to and I kept waiting to feel a kinship with her that just didn't come.  I felt as though every time I began to make that tenuous connection, the chapter ended. 

Likewise, Lily's potential love interest - - her Henry Crawford or Edmund Bertram,depending on how you view it - - seemed a shell of a character that I just couldn't get behind.  Much like Lily, even after pages of reading about him, I felt I really didn't know him. 

The supporting characters were equally as mystifying to me and other than Omar, I really didn't like them.  They appeared selfish, greedy and utterly self-obsessed.  None of the characters, Lily included, seem to have genuine and real interactions with others.  I didn't feel love or affection, nor did I feel any strong bonds of friendship.

Sadly, the ending of the book felt very much like a letdown for me and I was disappointed with it.  I appreciated that Lily had grown and changed for the better but being a Jane Austen themed book, I wanted a clear romantic resolution and My Jane Austen Summer did not provide one. 

On the upside, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Literary Festival.  The descriptions and actions were so vividly written by Ms. Jones that I could easily and quickly see it in my mind and wish that I was there, either as a participant or a patron.  I also enjoyed reading about the daily life at Newton Priors, the hustle and bustle of the Janeites and English country life. 

It's obvious from the many chapters devoted to the Literary Festival and Mansfield Park in general that Cindy Jones is a devoted fan of Jane Austen, as well as a talented writer.  Ms. Jones' writing is what saves this book, bottom line.  Despite the fact the book itself didn't fully work for me, the writing is top notch and Ms. Jones is an excellent writer.  For that reason I would not hesitate to read another book by her.

While I can't fully recommend My Jane Austen Summer without reservation to all readers, I won't say it's not worth reading. I was expecting more of the lightness and joy that I had found in the aforementioned Austenland and that I think would have made the book more rewarding for me.  As stated, Ms. Jones' writing is superb and perhaps fans of Mansfield Park may appreciate My Jane Austen Summer in a way that I did not.

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission. 

For information on author Cindy Jones, please visit her website here

For information on the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), please visit their website here.

Review copy of this book provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.



This book qualifies toward my JANE AUSTEN IS MY HOMEGIRL READING CHALLENGE.

May 30, 2011

Author Interview: MEG MITCHELL MOORE

Please join me in welcoming Meg Mitchell Moore, author of the newly released The Arrivals, a genuine look at the effects of grown children coming back home, to Psychotic State Book Reviews. 


Hi Meg, welcome to Psychotic State Book Reviews!  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers. 


MMM: Thank you so much for having me. I am delighted to be here.


Your first book, The Arrivals, has just been published.  Congratulations!   What led you from journalist to novelist? 


MMM:  Thank you! I have always wanted to do both, and while I think the two naturally feed on each other there was a time when it was easy to let the journalism get in the way of writing fiction. In 2005 I applied and was accepted to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont, and that was a turning point for me. The fact of having gotten in gave me a lot of confidence. In addition, spending ten days with a bunch of writers in all stages of their careers, both published and not, allowed me to feel like fiction was a legitimate pursuit for me. It still took a while after that—I had two very young children then, and then I had a third, plus we moved and things were chaotic for a long time—but I look back on the conference as a starting point for me.


How did you form the idea for The Arrivals? 


MMM:  I started writing this book in March 2008. The year before that, I had written a big chunk of a novel that was very different, except for the setting of Burlington, Vt. That book was about a man whose daughter died unexpectedly, leaving her two young children in his care for a summer. For several reasons that book really wasn’t working, but I still felt strongly about the themes of grandparents and adult children leaning on their parents. I started thinking about a different way to enter that story, and I came up with the characters of Ginny (the mother) and Lillian (the eldest Owen child). Ginny was originally the sister of the grandfather in the other story. I thought it would be interesting to have two grandparent-age siblings dealing with having their grandchildren around for very different reasons. The first scene in the new book came very quickly, and I could tell by then that the tone and my sense of the story had shifted dramatically. I had somebody read twenty pages that still included some of the old book, and that person  (who had no history of the origins of the project) pointed out that the part with the two young children who had lost their mother didn’t seem to fit with the rest of it. Suddenly, the new characters and story were a lot more alive and more interesting to me than the old characters and story had ever been. Once I was able to admit I was now writing a whole new book and not just a revision to the other one I was able to focus and keep the tone more consistent throughout, and I was able to explore themes that I know from my conversations and friendships with other mothers of young children to be very relevant.


The Arrivals’ theme seems particularly newsworthy, given the current economic climate.  Do you hope to provide support to your readers who may be going through the same thing? 


MMM:  I think it’s true that there are a lot of adults leaning on their parents these days. (I wrote a guest blog on the topic recently; feel free to link to it if you want: http://takingtimeformommy.blogspot.com/2011/05/guest-post-from-meg-mitchell-moore.html 

I don’t think I am any kind of an expert who is qualified to provide support, but I do hope any readers in a similar situation might come away seeing the humor as well as the pain in such a situation.


The Arrivals has an ensemble of characters.  Who was your favorite to write and who was the most difficult to write? 


MMM:  This is a great question, and one nobody has asked me before! My favorite in many ways was the three-year-old girl, Olivia. She is by no means the star of the show, but I really wanted her to ring true and I had a lot of fun with her. The most difficult was Rachel. I am closer in age and situation to Lillian, so I had to reach back in my memory to recall those feelings of being a twentysomething in New York City, a little bewildered, a lot poor. I struggled with Rachel. In early drafts of the book she remained in New York the whole time and it wasn’t until I brought her up to Vermont to join her family that she started to come together.


From conception to the last page, how long was The Arrivals’ gestation period? 


MMM:  Let’s see. I started in March 2008. The first draft was complete by late that fall/early winter, and I began looking for an agent. I signed with my agent in March 2009, and we revised for six more months after that. The book changed a lot in that period. It went on submission to publishers in September 2009 and sold very quickly. Since then, I’ve spent almost the same amount of time it took to write it and sell it waiting for it to come out! Certain things move very slowly in the publishing world, and because my book works as a summer book the original pub date of late/winter early spring was pushed back to summer.


Tell us about your work space - - do you have a dedicated work space?  Do you write wherever you happen to be?  Are you neat and organized or have controlled chaos?


MMM:  I wrote a blog post on this subject recently for my publisher’s blog. Does it work for you to link to this for the answer to this question? 


http://rabooksblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/meg-mitchell-moore-writing-in-the-bunker/


Can you take us through a routine day in the life of Meg Mitchell Moore? 


MMM:  I write mostly when my kids are at school, so my days depend on their schedules. I won’t bore you with the specifics of those schedules, but the basic routine is: early morning run or workout (most days), breakfast, kids off (two different bus stop times plus one preschool dropoff), balance writing and errands/household tasks, collect kids from schools and bus stops, afternoon lessons/activities/practices/playdates, dinner, kid bedtime, some TV or reading with husband, often some laundry folding, grownup bedtime. I am a better writer, more alert and focused, during the day than at night, but if I am under deadline pressure I will work at night.


You have a second book coming out next year.  Can you tell us about it? 


MMM:  Sure. Much of it takes place in my town, Newburyport, Mass., and it’s about a 13-year-old girl named Natalie Gallagher who finds in her home a diary written by an Irish immigrant, Bridget O’Connell, who was a domestic servant in a doctor’s home in Newburyport in 1925. Natalie unravels Bridget’s story with the help of an archivist named Kathleen Lynch, who is herself dealing with a loss in her life. The title I started with, Solace, will likely change, but one of the main themes of the book is that solace can come from unexpected sources.


When you’re not writing, what authors do you enjoy reading? 


MMM:  There are so many! I love Elin Hilderbrand. I am a big Kate Atkinson fan. I can’t wait for Elizabeth Strout to come out with something new. One of my favorite books of the year was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.  I am consistently blown away by anything—anything—Alice Munro writes. I just started Faith by Jennifer Haigh, which I love already as I have loved all of her books. Wow, these are all women! Let me get some men in here. I also like Andre Dubus III and Richard Russo, and John Irving was one of my very first favorite authors.


For a completely random question - - you have a day to spend with one person you admire (living or deceased).  Who would you choose and what would you do? 


MMM:  My mother’s mother died long before I was born. I think I would choose her!  I’d love to meet her, maybe find out some details about what my mother was like as a child.


And lastly, what one word would you use to describe The Arrivals?


MMM:  Family. 

Thank you so much, Meg, for taking the time to answer my questions.  Best of luck to you with The Arrivals!

MMM:  Thank you for having me.  I really appreciate it. 


For more information on author Meg Mitchell Moore, please visit her website

THE ARRIVALS BY MEG MITCHELL MOORE - ON SALE NOW!


It's early summer when Ginny and William's peaceful life in Burlington, Vermont, comes to an abrupt halt. First, their daughter Lillian arrives, two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood—only this time around, their children are facing adult problems. By summer's end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family. And the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true.




For your chance to win a copy of The Arrivals, please enter here

To purchase The Arrivals, please click here.

May 29, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY: May 30, 2011

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the previous week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday, which was started by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on blog tour—and Mari at MariReads is hosting during the month of May.

These are the goodies I received last week:

Ex-Girlfriends United by Matt Dunn, received from Sourcebooks for review

SYNOPSIS:  Despite his new-found fame on ITV 5's latest soap, womaniser Dan Davis is failing to score with the ladies. Every time. And he can't understand why. All is revealed when Dan and his friend Ed Middleton come across a mysterious website - slateyourdate.com - where women rate their experiences of their exes, and where Dan is shocked to learn that long after he's given them one, his ex-girlfriends are giving him one - one out of ten, that is. Faced with the prospect of a lifetime of singledom, Dan needs to crack the code of a website that's strictly women only to find out where he's been going wrong. Then he must track down his many exes in order to put things right. Along the way, Dan discovers he has much to learn about himself. Particularly when he meets up again with Polly - and realizes he wants her back. Can Dan convince his former love he's changed? Can Ed convince Dan he needs to change in the first place? Can the two friends use their new-found knowledge to help other men in the same boat?

The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn, borrowed from my local public library

SYNOPSIS:  When twelve-year-old Katherine Howard comes to live in the Duchess of Norfolk’s household, poor relation Cat Tilney is deeply suspicious of her. The two girls couldn’t be more different: Cat, watchful and ambitious; Katherine, interested only in clothes and boys. Their companions are in thrall to Katherine, but it’s Cat in whom Katherine confides. Summoned to court at seventeen, Katherine leaves Cat in the company of her ex-lover, Francis, with whom Cat begins a serious love affair.

Within months, the king has set aside his latest wife for Katherine. The future seems assured for the new queen and her maid-in-waiting, although Cat would feel more confident if Katherine hadn’t embarked on an affair with one of the king’s favoured attendants, Thomas Culpeper.

For a blissful year and a half, it seems that Katherine can have everything she wants. But then allegations are made about her girlhood love affairs. Desperately frightened, Katherine recounts a version of events which implicates Francis but which Cat knows to be a lie. With Francis imprisoned in the Tower, Cat alone knows the whole truth of Katherine Howard’s past.

What goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?

WEEKEND WRAP UP: May 29, 2011

Happy Sunday all!  I hope you all have had a great week.   My week was a little quieter than last.


On Monday I posted my Mailbox Monday meme with the books I received the week prior. 

On Thursday, I posted my review of Allen Leverone's excellent thriller Final Vector

I began reading Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose (with a review here on June 10, 2011). 

This week I finished my review of Carrie Bebris' The Intrigue at Highbury: Or Emma's Match and will have it posted this week.  I also finished the delightfully humorous Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard by Belinda Roberts and will have that review up and running within the next week.  Please make a note that author Belinda Roberts will be here at Psychotic State Book Reviews on June 9, 2011. 

I also finished up My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones and Jaclyn's Ghost by Dorlana Vann.  I will write reviews for both this week and have them posted within the next week or two. 

Last night, due to the problems with Blogger this week, I decided to extend the deadline for my current giveaway of 2 brand new copies of The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore.  The new deadline is Tuesday, May 31. 

Tomorrow author Meg Mitchell Moore will be here so please stop by!
How did your book week go?

Contest Deadline Extension: THE ARRIVALS by Meg Mitchell Moore

Due to technical issues with Blogger this past week - - most especially in the inability at times to comment and the temporary disappearance of "Followers" from sites - - I am extending the deadline in which to enter to win a copy of Meg Mitchell Moore's new book The Arrivals

Readers will now have until Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. PST.  The same rules still apply. See my original post here with any questions. 

If you are still having issues commenting on this post or the giveaway post, please email me directly at mrshedgy@yahoo.com and indicate "Arrivals Giveaway" in the subject line.  I will make sure you are entered, as well as giving you any additional credits for following, reposting, etc. 

Please be sure to stop by Psychotic State Book Reviews tomorrow (Monday, May 30, 2011) to welcome author Meg Mitchell Moore as she discusses The Arrivals, how it was conceived and her favorite character.

Happy Sunday!

May 26, 2011

Book Review: FINAL VECTOR by Allen Leverone

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Air traffic controller Nick Jensen's life is in a shambles. His wife Lisa has died following a horrific automobile wreck and the authorities suspect foul play. He finds evidence suggesting Lisa, a Pentagon auditor, had discovered potentially treasonous material on a fellow employee's computer, a man who also winds up dead.

Desperate to escape the pain, Nick throws himself into his work and is on duty at the radar ATC facility serving Boston's Logan Airport on the night U.S. President Robert Cartwright is scheduled to fly into Boston. Armed terrorists storm the facility, killing the security staff and taking Nick's fellow controller hostage as he works.

Nick escapes capture, but with time running out, must use the information from his murdered wife to unravel the terrorists' plot and stop an assassination while outnumbered, unarmed and on the run...



If I could only use five words to review Allen Leverone's Final Vector, I would choose "edge of your seat suspense".  Fortunately, I can be as expansive as I like and I can tell you that not only does Final Vector keep you on pins and needles, it's an exciting joy ride of thrills and very well written, to boot. 

Final Vector grabs you from page one, locks you in its literary jaws and doesn't let go.  The overall plot is a thrilling, if simple, one - - terrorists plan to shoot down Air Force One with the President aboard.    Of course, no plan runs totally smoothly and this one is no exception. 

Given this very nail biting scenario, it's a bit surprising that the President himself is not the book's central character but Mr. Leverone did an absolutely fantastic job with his character development, from the everyday hero, Nick, to the soulless leader of the terrorist group, Tony along with a helathy smattering of characters in between.  So well defined was Nick that my heart pounded in anticipation and fear for him, a nice little feat by Mr. Leverone, given that I could only visualize Nick in my mind as I turned the page.  I felt hi jumble of emotions, his grief, his anger and his surge of energy.  Talk about an adrenaline rush, book-style!

The only weak aspect to Final Vector, in my opinion, was the young female FBI agent with an eye toward Nick.  I didn't feel as connected to her and the attraction between the two felt a bit rushed and pushy, especially given what happened to his wife within a very short timespan. 

That fact notwithstanding, Final Vector was an utterly satisfying read, one that I sped through and I simply didn't want to put down until the nerveracking ending.  It will well suit the adventure fan, as wel as thriller fans and fans of espionage.  If Hollywood is listening, Final Vector has summer blockbuster written all over it. 

I won't hesitate to recommend Final Vector to any and all and I look forward with great anticipation to author Allen Leverone's next effort.

Final Vector is available for purchase now as an ebook at Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission

For information on author Allen Leverone, please visit his website.

Review copy of this book provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.




May 22, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY: May 23, 2011


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the previous week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday, which was started by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on blog tour—and Mari at MariReads is hosting during the month of May.

These are the goodies I received last week:

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore, received by Hatchett Book Group for review

SYNOPSIS:  It's early summer when Ginny and William's peaceful life in Vermont comes to an abrupt halt.

First, their daughter Lillian arrives, with her two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely when Jane ends up on bed rest. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood - only this time around, their children are facing adult problems.

By summer's end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family - and the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true.

The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe by Sandi Gelles-Cole, received from the author and Pump Up Your Book for review

SYNOPSIS:  Marilyn Monroe is 85, the victim of a fire set purposefully to destroy her. This is the memoir she writes of what really happened from the night she was rescued in August, ‘62 until June 1, 2011 when the book starts, her 85th birthday. 

Told in her own voice and propelled by the various lifestyles she tries on in her search to dig beneath the character that she created for the movies to the real woman inside, the book is two stories. While we read to learn what caused the horrible accident that ruined her face, she writes of her recovery from the addictions that subsumed her in Hollywood, her life as an average woman traveling with a young lover in Europe; her final goodbye to DiMaggio. As senior citizen Marilyn’s face is recreated she tells what happened to her fortune and then how she supported herself, how it felt when her face and body aged, how lust continued into her late years and how she fell in love when she thought all of that was behind her. 

The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe is a mix of fiction, myth and Marilyn history.


The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky, borrowed from my local public library

SYNOPSIS:  When Louise Lambert receives a mysterious invitation to a traveling vintage fashion sale in the mail, her normal life in suburban Connecticut is magically transformed into a time traveling adventure.

After a brief encounter with two witchy salesladies and donning an evening gown that once belonged to a beautiful silent film star, Louise suddenly finds herself onboard a luxurious cruise ship in 1912. As Alice Baxter, the silent film star, Louise enjoys her access to an extensive closet of gorgeous vintage gowns and begins to get a feel for the challenges and the glamour of life during this decadent era. Until she realizes that she's not just on any ship-- she's on the Titanic!

Will Louise be able to save herself and change the course of history, or are she and her film star alter ego, destined to go down with a sinking ship in the most infamous sea disaster of the 20th century?



What goodies arrived in your mailbox last week?




May 21, 2011

WEEKEND WRAP UP: May 21, 2011

It was a busy week this week. 

On Sunday I posted my review of Sharon Henegar's Sleeping Dogs Lie, her first cozy mystery installment.

On Monday, I finished Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America and posted my review Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I began reading The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma's Match by Carrie Bebris, one of my favorite Austen authors.  I simply cannot wait for her next installment, due out soon, and tackling Persuasion.

On Thursday, I posted my review of Amanda Grange's Wickham's Diary - - a fun read from the viewpoint of that super bad boy from Pride and Prejudice

Today I finished up The Intrigue at Highbury: Or Emma's Match and will have my review posted next week.  I am still reading My Jane Austen Summer and Jaclyn's Ghost and plan to finish them up this coming week and get reviews up and running.  I also hope to start Peter Straub's Ghost Story, a book I have wanted to read for years and finally checked out of the library.   

The Gatekeepers Post chose me to interview for one of their book blogger spotlights, so please click on over and show their site some love. 

How did your book week go?

May 19, 2011

Book Review: WICKHAM'S DIARY by Amanda Grange

BOOK DESCRIPTION:    This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.

At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham's own greedy, black heart.





Let's start with the utterly shallow on this book.  The cover is divine, isn't it?  I love the plume through the paper, I love the man (presumably Wickham) on the right side of the page with only half his face revealed (a portend of Wickham never truly revealing all himself?)  and the ladies on the upper left (Wickham's weakness). 

On to the actual book, I love that author Amanda Grange took Pride and Prejudice's bad boy, extremely relevant to the overall story and yet still a supporting character, and based a book around him.  After all, Jane Austen didn't give much insight into George Wickham's mind and actions, other than through others' recountings.  The reader receives some strong ideas from Wickham's own fictionalized tales to Elizabeth but the focus remains on Elizabeth and how she perceives Wickham's tales and how this affects her presumptions toward Mr. Darcy.

Wickham's Diary allows readers to peek inside George Wickham's world, as the son of the weathy Mr. Darcy's steward and a flighty, flirtacious mother, through relatively brief diary entries spoken in his voice. The entries begin when Wickham is twelve, and already chafing against the system that does not allow him to be young Fitzwilliam Darcy's equal.  The undertones of jealousy and resentment are already set, heightened by young George's mother's wish of a more affluent lifestyle and her assertions to her son that he will do something better with his life than becoming a steward. 

I was fond of seeing Wickham's home life from his own perspective and what events conspired to shape him into the rogue we were introduced to in Pride and Prejudice.  His mother proved a fascinating character, far more so than his father, and Wickham's relationship with her, told through the author's eyes, explained a lot of his future endeavors. 

I also enjoyed seeing the characters and set ups that would eventually come to shape Pride and Prejudice and the roads that would lead Wickham to Meryton on the day that would bring him into the Bennet family's world, with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley to witness it. 

It was additionally rewarding to see the Darcy family from an outside eye, even one as jaundiced as George Wickham's.  Most Pride and Prejudice retellings focus on Darcy as an adult already, so it was pleasurable to read about him as a young boy and adolescent.  It was also nice to read about the senior Mr. Darcy, since very little has been written about him other than being a good man.

Despite these excellent points, I was discouraged that the book was so slim.  Granted, George Wickham is not as major a character as Mr. Darcy, or Mr. Knightley from Emma, (author Amanda Grange has written "diaries" of these characters, among others) but I do think he was slightly shortchanged in this tome.  For example, the book ends prior to his fateful meeting with the Bennet girls in Meryton.  I, for one, would have loved to read Wickham's viewpoint on seeing Darcy, for the first time since his aborted elopement with Georgiana, in the village, and upon meeting both Elizabeth and Lydia.  I also would have liked to know his thoughts on Lydia and her silliness and exactly what drove him, beside hormones, to encourage Lydia to believe he was going to run off to Gretna Green with her.  And who wouldn't want to know Wickham's thoughts upon his first introduction to his eventual mother-in-law, Mrs. Bennet? 

Unfortunately, Wickham's Diary deprives the reader of that.  I can only speculate that the author ended the book where she did, assuming that Pride and Prejudice readers would be able to figure out, based on Jane Austen's book, what happened next with Wickham.  True enough, but it still would have been a fun ride to continue.  And space did indeed allow. 

All that said, I enjoyed Wickham's Diary and found it a speedy, entertaining romp through George Wickham's world of drink, debauchery and drive.  For Pride and Prejudice fans, it should go on their wish list. 

Wickham's Diary is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Amanda Grange, please visit her website here.   For my recent interview with author Amanda Grange, please click here

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

This book qualifies toward my JANE AUSTEN IS MY HOMEGIRL READING CHALLENGE.

May 17, 2011

Book Review: BRINGING ADAM HOME: THE ABDUCTION THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Les Standiford and Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Before Adam Walsh there were no faces on milk cartons, no Amber Alerts, no National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no federal databases of crimes against children, no pedophile registry. His 1981 abduction and murder—unsolved for over a quarter of a century—forever changed America.

One sunny July morning in 1981, Reve Walsh and her six-year-old son Adam stopped by the local Sears to pick up some new lamps. Enchanted by a video game at the store's entrance, Adam begged Reve to let him try it out while she shopped. When she returned a few minutes later, Adam was gone.

The shock of Adam's murder, and of the inability of the police and the FBI to find his killer, radically altered American innocence and our ideas about childhood. Gone forever were the days when parents would allow their kids out of the house with the casual instruction "Be home by dark!"

Reve and John Walsh—who would go on to create America's Most Wanted—became advocates for the transformation of law enforcement's response to and handling of such cases. Prompted by the Walshes' activism, Congress passed the Missing Children Act in 1982, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was founded in 1984.

While our lives have been significantly altered by Adam Walsh's case, few of us know the whole story—how, after more than twenty-seven years of relentless investigation, decorated Miami Beach homicide detective Joe Matthews finally identified Adam's killer.

Bringing Adam Home is the definitive account of this horrifying crime—which, like the Lindbergh kidnapping fifty years earlier, captured public attention—and its aftermath, a true story of tragedy, love, faith, and dedication. It reveals the pain and tenacity of a family determined to find justice, the failed police work that allowed a killer to remain uncharged, and the determined efforts of one cop who accomplished what an entire legal system could not. As harrowing as In Cold Blood, yet ultimately uplifting, Bringing Adam Home is the riveting story of a triumph of justice and the enduring power of love.


I am one of the few people on the planet who don't think In Cold Blood is the definitive true crime classic - - in fact, I didn't finish it because it simply didn't live up to expectations for me.  So I cannot compare Bringing Adam Home directly to it although I will say that this recent book on the noteworthy and law changing Adam Walsh case left me disappointed. 

The writing itself was well done and I found no fault with author Les Standiford, who with more than twenty books under his belt is indeed a professional.  However, the book felt both anemic and strangely bloated.  While reading through the text I felt that much of the informaton was repeated ad nauseaum.  It is fact that suspect Ottis Toole gave more than eight confessions to this horrific crime to various detectives but I didn't feel it was necessary to recount each and every confession unless his recounting had significantly changed. 

I wish more emphasis had been placed on the Walshes themselves, and the wonderful work they did in the aftermath of this incredible tragedy, rather than so much of the spotlight being placed on Toole and his lover and fellow serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.  As a long time reader of true crime I know that the majority of books dealing with crime focus extensively on the perpetrators, out of necessity, and the victims themselves often lose their individual voices but I felt this book had a prime opportunity to really present this case from the victims' standpoints and it didn't quite do that in my opinion. 

In addition to disappointment, the book left me frustrated and angry on behalf of the Walshes.  In recounting the case it's glaringly obvious that the case should have been officially solved and closed back in 1983, two years after the murder, when Lead Detective Jack Hoffman was given the multiple confessions of Toole.  However, for reasons probably best known to him, he stubbornly refused to believe Toole guilty of the murder, much less arrest and charge him.  Granted, it was 1981 but the way the Hollywood Police Department handled the Walsh case is a textbook example of how not to handle missing and murdered children. 

Given its graphic subject matter and descriptions, Bringing Adam Home is not for the sensitive or squeamish reader.  There is violence aplenty and rude language so reader beware.   However, Bringing Adam Home is a fascinating study of law enforcement and detecting gone wrong and should be required reading for any person looking into the field of law enforcement.

Bringing Adam Home is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on authors Les Standiford and Joe Matthews, as well as information on the Adam Walsh case, please visit their website.  


FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.