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Sunday, June 24, 2012


by Diane Keaton

Clearly Diane Keaton suffers from ADD, ADHD and a host of other conditions that are portrayed in her iconic Annie Hall persona.  She is at the same time clearly an abundant “creative", and for anyone sharing the same traits, tribulations and closeted abnormalities, the tone and rhythm of her recently published autobiography “Then Again”, rings true.

If you’re used to linear plots or well developed themes in your reading, take a step back; Keaton’s endlessly looping reflections, run-on sentences and long-lingering reflections will drive you mad.   For me they read as an unfolding of my own convoluted stream of consciousness as she shares her “collage” of revelations and wonderful anecdotes from her personal and professional life.

The book is not only about Di-Annie’s history but an intimate look into the life of her recently deceased mother Dorothy Keaton Hall, a suburban housewife of the fifties whose own awakening was portrayed through endless notebooks and catalogs left behind.   Reflections on not only the lives of her four children but much of her inner self are captured as life moved on and the times changed dramatically for her in the sixties and seventies.  After Dorothy ultimately succumbed to a prolonged case of Alzheimer’s disease, Diane chose to parallel her own life's stages against those of her mother in this book and what emerges is a deeply endearing portrait of mother and daughter; the life and joys they shared, and the many instances where intimacy was lost or connections just not made.  There is some regret.

Sad and sweet, this is a wonderful book, and by all means not in the chick lit category, it deserves to be seriously treated and seriously read.  I really, really loved it. 

NOTE:  This review was written by my new guest blogger, my husband George Kimmerle.  I haven't yet read Ms. Keaton's book, but will post my own footnote after I do.  Thank you, George!

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8095-0
Pub. Date:  Nov. 15, 2011
303 pages
Hardcover, Paperback and eBook

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Written by Loren Spiotta-DiMare
Illustrated by Key Wilde
Published by Woodlands Wildlife Refuge

BROKE LEG BEAR is the true story of a young black bear cub who was injured while crossing in front of a car in New Jersey.  Taken to the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge in Alexandria, New Jersey, the cub was treated for the injury to her leg and nicknamed Broke Leg Bear by the staff.  

Tracey Leaver, founder and executive director of Woodlands, developed the black bear rehabilitation program in 1995.  The book details the Refuge's work in caring for wild animals until they are able to return to the wild.  During Broke Leg's stay at the refuge, nine more bear cubs arrived, most because their mothers were destroyed after becoming nuisance bears, frightening people in their yards or breaking into homes while searching for food.  The animals are cared for until they are old enough or, in the case of injury, strong enough to be released back into their natural habitat.

Woodlands is the only facility licensed in New Jersey to care for bears and has been able to successfully release more than sixty.  It is a non-profit organization and receives no state or federal funding, relying solely on donations. Life-long animal lover Spiotta-DiMare's tale of BROKE LEG BEAR, beautifully illustrated by Wilde, was released for the 25th anniversary of Woodlands Wildlife Refuge and all proceeds benefit the Refuge.  They continue their fine work in New Jersey, caring for more than 800 wild animals each year, including raccoons, foxes, woodchucks, otters, beavers and rabbits.

Lynn's footnote:  We had a black bear in our yard last year as noted in a previous blog entry, and a large one passed just under the window of my home office about two weeks ago.  A gentleman who works with my husband and lives in Randolph came home to find a bear in his house last year.  He and his family were advised by the police to just stay in their car and wait until the bear left.  Widespread development has disturbed so many of the places bears originally called home, making it more common to see black bears in populated areas of New Jersey.  It's estimated that there are 3,400 black bears in northwest NJ, and approximately 464 bears were killed during the annual state bear hunt in 2011.   

ISBN 978-0-615-51973-9
Pub. Date:  2011
Hardcover available from Woodlands Wildlife Refuge

Sunday, June 17, 2012


by E.L. James

I admit I'm a bit of a book snob.  I never read the TWILIGHT series or the HARRY POTTER series.  Whenever almost everyone is reading the same book, I just seem to lose interest.  But everyone, everywhere seems to be reading the FIFTY SHADES trilogy, particularly middle aged women.  In May 2012 I heard on the news that the books were sold out everywhere in NYC and that libraries in three states had banned the series.  Recently there was a psychiatrist on one of the morning talk shows who commented that she was "afraid that people would be hurt" after reading the books.  HURT??!!  Additionally, adult sex shops cannot keep up with sales of some of their merchandise......what in the world!?

With over ten million copies sold in 37 countries, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is the first book in a trilogy that is defined on its back cover as an "erotic romance for a mature audience."  The trilogy is noted for its erotic scenes with elements of BDSM (a condensed acronym coined in the 1990s to include bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism).

Minus the vampires, the FIFTY SHADES trilogy was developed from a TWILIGHT fan fiction originally titled MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE and self-published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name "Snowqueens Icedragon".  It ultimately evolved into the best selling trilogy released in April 2012 that booksellers can't keep on their shelves.

Wanting to see what all the hype was about, I finally relented and borrowed a copy of the first book after two of my friends started whizzing through the series recently.  Honestly, by page 77 I couldn't stop laughing!  With such pithy phrasing as "you are quite the disciplinarian", "he gasps, his eyes wide", "I heartbeat spikes", and my personal favorite, "I'd like to bite that lip", the author at least threw in a few "holy shits" to keep the characters more normal.  And these phrases are all within the same three pages!

While the author tries to elevate her writing with some well spaced fifty-cent words, the overall tone of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY can only be compared to a Harlequin Romance on crack!

Folks, ladies, please, there are so many wonderful books to read!  Aren't we more intelligent than this???

ISBN 978-0-345-80348-1
Pub. Date:  April 2012
514 pages
Paperback and eBook

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BINGO and Other Short Stories

by T..J. Childers

As some of you know, I'm not a big fan of short stories, but every once in a while a collection of shorts comes along that is just too good to pass up.  This was the case with BINGO and Other Short Stories  by T.J. Childers.

PHOTOGRAPH, the first in the group, is a touching and haunting tale.  I laughed out loud after reading GARDEN SNAKE, and VALENTINE'S DAY was terrific!  My husband who never reads fiction borrowed my kindle and his personal favorite was GEOFF GEORGE.

Self-published on (and only available as an eBook or download to your computer or Smartphone), this young author from Hillside, New Jersey has a strong voice and a pleasingly quirky style.  T.J. Childers is someone to watch and I'm looking forward to the next book from this fresh new writer!

Pub. Date:  June 3, 2012
eBook available at

Thanks to Joanne Large for introducing me to Childers' work!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


It was with great interest that I read Edward Morrissey's CNN Opinion  BIG GULP?  MEET BIG BROTHER, about Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban of supersized soft drinks in New York City.  Earlier this week, a friend and I were having a discussion about this very subject.

Years ago when everyone jumped on the smoking banned-wagon (pun intended), I warned everyone who would listen that we need to be careful about personal rights.  Unfortunately, most people don't care unless and until someone proposes to ban something they're fond of.

Recently my family was in a nice restaurant enjoying lunch in New Jersey.  An older couple came in and was seated at a table next to us.  Obviously these people were old school and stored their winter clothing away with mothballs; a horrible odor that I personally can't stand.  When I couldn't think of any way to get up and change tables without making the newcomers feel uncomfortable, I simply, accidentally on purpose, spilled my entire glass of water on the tablecloth, forcing our move to a different table, which my son thought was hillarious.  Should I start a petition to ban mothballs? 

Personally, I can't stand perfume or aftershave, especially when it's applied in large doses.  I don't like the smell of acrylic nails being applied when you go for a simple manicure.  Both of these could be considered second-hand health risks to people with breathing problems.  But you'll never hear me calling for a ban on perfume, acrylic nails, alcohol or mothballs because I believe we have the right to behave as stupidly as we want to without government intervention.  The powers-that-be can argue that sugar, like cigarettes, is a national health concern, but there are so many things that I wouldn't choose to do or ingest that could be considered a  major health concern if you're looking at figures and statistics.

Many years ago when my youngest son was in grammar school, the McDRUG FREE group in Morristown, NJ decided to include alcohol in their list of drugs, adding "ALCOHOL IS A LIQUID DRUG" to all their banners and fliers.  Now, I'm not much of a drinker and never have been, and didn't give this too much thought until I went to the grocery store with my son.   My in-laws were coming for dinner and I added a six-pack of beer to my cart, since Grandpa always enjoyed a cold glass with dinner during the summer.  My young son started screaming for me to put the beer back on the shelf because it was a liquid drug!  I had to explain in great detail that while the McDrug Free group had good intentions, they weren't always right.  As a postscript to this, the children were all asked to sign (along with their parents) a pledge to remain drug and alcohol free.  After a long discussion, we sent a note to the teacher explaining why Bill would not be participating in this particular pledge.  How can an elementary school child have the understanding of a pledge to never take a drink???  When they had the McDrug Free assembly at school and asked each child to stand if they signed the pledge, the students seated near our son wanted to know why Bill didn't have to stand up.  Interestingly enough, our children didn't grow up to be druggies or alcoholics, but they did grow up having a strong sense of themselves and a compassion for others.  Please don't think this is an attack on the McDrug Free or DARE programs, but our "war on drugs" hasn't been very successful....maybe because we didn't call it the "BAN on drugs"?

Almost every moment of every day someone is doing something that could effect our health care costs.   Happy hour, chocolate, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, fried food, riding a bike on two lane roads without shoulders, donuts, tanning salons, bungee jumping, and the list goes on; all have an impact on our health and health care costs.  Don't tennis elbow, shin splints and housemaid's knee add to the health care costs, too?  Maybe we need a ban on housework?  The big question far should the government be allowed to go to curtail our personal freedom?

I grew up in an age when people would buy cartons of cigarettes as Christmas gifts (back when we could still call it Christmas), the same with BB guns, and no one thought twice about giving their son or daughter a copy of HUCKLEBERRY FINN.  We used to have tubes of something called Plastic Bubbles, a horrible chemical smelling substance we could blow into bubbles to toss around.  Every young boy made models with that stinky airplane glue -- I'm not even sure this stuff is still being sold.  We've evolved into being much more health conscious than our grandparents on one hand which is great, but much less so when it comes to things like food additives and preservatives.

Banning things we don't personally like or enjoy has become a way of life.  Books, music, food, activities, pick your favorite.  It's frightening to think that our children and grandchildren are growing up accepting that these new restrictions on personal choice are the norm.

I'm just glad that Mayor Bloomberg didn't attack diet soda or I'd really be in trouble.   While I'm thinking about it, New Yorkers need to definitely ban a fourth term for the mayor.  I'd sign that petition for sure!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THE SKELETON BOX A Starvation Lake Mystery

by Bryan Gruley

The third in the Starvation Lake Mystery series finds local newspaper editor Gus Carpenter involved in the investigation of the bingo night burglaries in the small town of Starvation Lake.  While the residents are attending bingo at the local Catholic Church, homes are being broken into, but strangely, nothing appears to be missing; the thief just rifles through personal and financial papers.

As tensions mount, things take a turn for the worse when someone is murdered during another break-in.  The victim is the mother of Gus' ex-girlfriend, local police woman Darlene Espers.  Even worse, the murder occurred during the burglary of the home of Bea Carpenter, Gus' ailing mother.

The town of Starvation Lake is fraught with more turmoil.  Even as the local sheriff  is under fire to solve the burglaries, one of his deputies is working against him while planning his own election campaign.  Then there is the born-again Christian group that's not only kicking up a fuss, but threatening to disrupt the season for the local hockey team, the lifeblood of entertainment and pride for this small community.

Working with newcomer Luke Whistler, a seasoned older reporter, Carpenter finds himself looking into the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful young nun decades earlier, and how her disappearance may be linked to both his mother and the events in Starvation Lake today.

I've enjoyed all three of the author's books, and his characters and writing just keep getting better.  Mr. Gruley has created another fun and satisfying mystery with THE SKELETON sure to add it to your summer reading list!

ISBN 987-1-4165-6366-2
Pub. Date:  6/5/2012
336 Pages
Hardcover and eBook

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CLIFF WALK - Liam Mulligan Series No. 2

by Bruce DeSilva

Liam Mulligan, a seasoned investigative reporter with the Providence Dispatch Newspaper, is back in this new mystery from Bruce DeSilva.  The second in the Mulligan series deals with legalized prostitution and pornography, specifically child pornography and murder in Providence, Rhode Island.

As I've mentioned in earlier reviews, I don't enjoy fiction that deals with heinous crimes against children. Especially when the story involves body parts.  To be honest, I would have stopped before I started if I hadn't read Mr. DeSilva's first book, ROGUE ISLAND, and thoroughly enjoyed not only his writing style but also his portrayal of graft and corruption in Rhode Island.

Mulligan is a likeable man who is dealing with the demise of the newspaper business, as well as with Dorcas, his shrill and angry soon-to-be ex-wife. Mulligan is joined once again in his investigations by Thanks-Dad, his nickname for the son of the newspaper's publisher.  Attilla-the-nun, State Police Capt. Steve Parisi, and a host of other intriguing and fun protagonists add to the author's smooth writing style and tongue-in-cheek dialogue.

But best of all, and lucky for the reader, the plot of CLIFF WALK is secondary to his scathing portrayal of the city of Providence; terrific fun if you don't happen to live in Rhode Island.  Being from New Jersey, which is very often portrayed as a mob-infested, crime-riddled state, it's refreshing to let another state take the rap for a change!

If you can get past the subject matter, this newest Liam Mulligan mystery is a good read and very entertaining.

ISBN 978-0-76533-237-0
Pub. Date:  May 22, 2012
320 Pages
Hardcover and eBook 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


PATCH me in!

You can now find my book reviews and blog posts on the Stonington-Mystic Patch in Connecticut.  I've been submitting reviews for about two weeks and the response has been wonderful!  Thanks to everyone who emailed me.

Don't forget that you can also follow my reviews through the Recorder Newspapers in New Jersey.  You can find the Monarch Book Reviews link on the website of each of their sixteen community newspapers.

I've been reading some terrific new books and hope to continue to include more local authors, both in New Jersey and Connecticut.  Please check back to find new books to add to your summer reading list.

It's great to hear from each of you, so please keep your comments, emails and especially your ARCs coming!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


by Michael R. McGuire

Jake Fitzpatrick's life is a mess.  He's middle aged, divorced, friendless and working in a job he doesn't like.  Even his own mother doesn't like him very much. It can't get any worse; or can it?

When his Uncle Henry passes away and leaves him a large piece of land, it's a total surprise to Jake.  But the land comes with a catch; he has also inherited his late uncle's job as an undertaker, burying bodies on the land he just inherited.

Although the pay for his new job is substantial, Jake suddenly finds himself in a shadowy Kafkaesque world.  He doesn't know who he's working for, where the bodies are coming from, or why these people are dying.  Just as he's adjusting to his new found wealth and the horrors of his new job, he discovers that one of the bodies isn't technically a body at all; the woman he's supposed to bury isn't dead.  While he's agreed to take on the role of undertaker, Jake's not a murderer, and he finds himself on the run as he tries to stay one step ahead of the people he's been working for as well as trying to stay alive.

THE UNDERTAKER'S HILL is an intriguing and fascinating debut novel.

Author Bio:  THE UNDERTAKER'S HILL is Michael R. McGuire's first mystery novel and is available at as well as  He has been an active playwright for twenty years and his plays have been produced throughout Connecticut, New York and the rest of  the country.  He is a 2005 CT Artist Fellowship recipient for his play THE NEW GIRL, and his play for young actors, PERSEPHONE RULES! is published by Brooklyn Publishers.  Mr. McGuire's current production THE DRAFTS: WHEN HALF THE SPHERE IS VISIBLE, a four playwright collaboration by Horse Trade Theater at The Red Room in New York City is running through May 26, 2012.  Don't be surprised to find Michael as part of the waitstaff at a local Stonington Borough restaurant....he's the one who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Stephen King.

Pub. Date:  February 2012
199 pages
eBook and Paperback

Thursday, May 17, 2012

THE ODDS, A Love Story

by Stewart O'Nan

Marion and Art Fowler are at the end of life as they knew it.  Married for thirty-one years, their marriage is pretty much over.  Marion just can't forgive Art for cheating on her and, with their children grown and gone, she's ready to begin a life of her own.  Compounding their marital problems, the Fowlers are one step away from foreclosure on their home and on the verge of bankruptcy.

Art is still deeply in love with Marion and he has convinced her to spend Valentine's weekend in the honeymoon suite of the poshest Indian casino on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.  While revisiting the local sights as they did on their honeymoon decades ago and enjoying lavish dinners together, Art has a simple sink-or-swim plan for the weekend.  He has withdrawn all of their remaining money to try to win enough to get their lives back on track financially at the high stakes roulette table and, at the same time, repair their marriage.

Like LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER, Stewart O'Nan's characters in THE ODDS tug at your heartstrings.  In this wonderfully written and poignant tale, the author brings Art and Marion to life in a touching story of love, hope and redemption.  O'Nan creates beauty in the everyday and THE ODDS is a delightful book...not to be missed!

ISBN 978-0-670-02316-5
Pub. Date:  January 2012
192 pages
Penguin Group

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I was thinking about being a mom and the different stages of my sons' development and, consequently, the different names children have for their mothers. 

When your children are very small, it's music to your ears when your son or daughter begins to babble mamamamama, even though it comes long after da-da.  When they're toddlers, your name becomes Mommy as they wrap their sticky little fingers around your neck and give you a kiss and tell you how beautiful you are!  However, when they are just on the cusp of throwing a tantrum, that same Mommy can quickly become MomEEEEE! in a shrill voice. 

We morph into Ma (pronounced MAAAAA  which rhymes with the sound a cartoon sheep makes, in a loud voice) when our children reach middle school or high school, usually around the same time they begin to think you're just too stupid to have even grown up and had a family.  Ma and Mom can be used in alternating shifts during those teen years, depending on just how annoying your child thinks you are at the moment.  This stage doesn't last forever as you know, because you never see cards addressed to MA in your local card store for mother's day.

When they finally grow up and go to college or move on with their own lives, you can expect to settle into a nice, comfortable "Mom", if all goes well.  There can be minor variations on this theme.  For example my youngest used to call me Mommo which I thought was very cute.
Mother also crops up every now and then through the years as a form of reprimand when our children find us to be particularly annoying, i.e., "Mother, did you have to kiss me goodbye when you dropped me off at school?!?" 

I have a friend who refers to her own mother in conversation as Mother.  Not MY mother, but mother, as in, "Mother is having trouble with her computer", or "I'm taking Mother to Crate and Barrel on Saturday".  To me, that sounds cold and distant and I can't help but wonder if "Mother" beat my friend with a wire hanger when she was growing up, a la Joan Crawford.

Don't even get me started on those grown children who call their mothers by their given name.  I can't imagine one of my sons saying, "Lynn, would you like more coffee?"  Lynnie, however, they've used on occasion. 

Be it Mommy, Ma, Mom or Mother, a rose by any other name............!  Happy Mother's Day!

Flower photos taken by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous.

Monday, May 7, 2012


by Mia March

Following a terrible car accident, Lolly Weller becomes a single mother to Kat, while also raising her two nieces, Isabel and June.  Now grown and living their own lives, June and Isabel receive a summons from their aunt to come home to the small Maine town where they were raised.  She has something important to discuss with them and Kat and wants to do it in person.

Isabel has just discovered that her husband has been having an affair and wants a divorce, and June is a struggling single mother, trying to deal with her young son's desire to meet his father.  Although they've been emotionally estranged from each other as well as from Kat and Lolly, both are grateful for the chance to escape the turmoil in their own lives.  Unknown to Isabel and June, although Kat has lived at home helping her mother with the inn, she longs to travel to far away places to become a master baker.

All three cousins are stunned when they discover that Lolly has brought them all together to tell them she's been diagnosed with cancer.  Lolly is determined to remain upbeat, and as is the custom, Friday night at The Three Captains' Inn is movie night, and the theme for this month is a selection of Meryl Streep movies.

Staying on at the inn to help Lolly through her treatments, the cousins find themselves revealing the problems in each of their own lives while watching and discussing each Meryl Streep movie selection.  As they bond with each other, they begin to define their own lives and their dreams for the future.

Although a little too predictable, THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB is nice, engaging, chick lit.

ISBN 9781451655391
Pub. Date:   To be released June 19, 2012
352 pages
Paperback and eBook

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


by Saloma Furlong

Some of you may remember my review of WHY I LEFT THE AMISH by Saloma Furlong, reprinted below.  When I reviewed the advance reader copy of Ms. Furlong's poignant memoir on October 28, 2010, I never expected to meet Saloma and her husband David, nor did I expect that we would become friends.

But we have become friends, and she and her husband have stayed with us both in NJ and CT when she has book readings in the area.  During the Furlongs first visit to our home, long after our husbands were asleep, like teenagers, we stayed up till the middle of the night just talking and laughing!

Saloma has been busy since her book was published in January, 2011.  At home in Massachusetts, she's continued to work on the second installment of her memoir, while travelling extensively, giving talks at libraries and bookstores.  She appeared in the documentary THE AMISH, as part of THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, which aired on PBS this past March.

Continuing her busy schedule, Ms. Furlong is currently visiting libraries and bookstores throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.  You can read more about Saloma Furlong and the places she'll be visiting on her blog,  ABOUT AMISH.

My review of WHY I LEFT THE AMISH, October 28, 2010:

Ms. Furlong's memoir takes us inside the rural life of the Amish in Ohio; a life ruled by the men of the community.  Growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional family, the author suffered many indignities before summoning the courage to embark on a new life in Vermont, a place she had only visited in magazines and in her own imagination.

As an outsider, or someone considered "English", I didn't know much about the Amish culture before reading this book.  I always considered them to be peaceful religious people who worked the land and didn't participate in wars or use modern technology.  Their sense of community seemed to be the cornerstone of their peaceful existence.  And let's not forget those beautiful quilts we all covet.

It never occurred to me that even within this group there could exist a caste system and tolerance for abuse -- emotional, physical and sexual -- with little or no protection for the young women of the community.  Every facet of the author's life as a young Amish woman was training for subservient community life with no concern for individual pursuits.  As her anger at her situation grew, so did her desire to create a life of her own.

How wonderful for Ms. Furlong that she was able to meet so many people that would assist her in finding her way in the world.   As she became more mature and confident, she was able to return to the Amish community for her father's funeral with far less trepidation than one would expect.

If you'd like to learn more about the Amish life, Ms. Furlong's book raises the curtain for a peek inside this culture and religion in her fascinating and heartfelt memoir.  The author's courage is uplifting and I look forward to reading the next installment of her journey.

ISBN 9780870139949
Pub. Date:  January 2011
190 pages
Paperback and eBook

Friday, April 27, 2012


Why do phones start with the numbers 1-2-3 at the top while calculators start with 7-8-9 at the top?  Wouldn't it be easier if it were the same on both?  Who made the decision to invert the numbers on calculators which were obviously invented after the telephone?  What would Alexander Graham Bell think?

And that brings me to dear Mr. Bell.  As schoolchildren in the U.S. many decades ago, we were taught that he invented the telephone, definitively.  Our government has even issued commemorative stamps in his honor.  However, if you pose the question, "who invented the telephone" on Google, there are various and sundry possibilities.  

One is Johann Philipp Reis of Germany.  In 1860, Mr. Reis was the first to produce a functioning electromagnetic device that could transmit musical notes, indistinct speech, and occasionally distinct speech by means of electric signals.  He's credited with introducing the term "telephon" for his device.  The first sentence Johann spoke on his telephon was apparently "Das" which translates to "the".  No one seems to have documented what the rest of Mr. Reis' transmitted sentence was.  According to a source on Wikipedia, "Thomas Edison tested the Reis equipment and found that "single words, uttered as in reading, speaking and the like, were perceptible indistinctly, notwithstanding here also the inflections of the voice, the modulations of interrogation, wonder, command, etc., attained distinct expression."  As you would expect, Mr. Reis was also honored by his country in the form of a postage stamp.

Other American inventors had also claimed the invention as their own, including Daniel Drawbaugh, Elisha Gray and Charles Grafton Page to name a few.  Interesting that American schoolchildren never learned these names.  Numerous inventors worldwide have been credited with inventing the telephone as well,  hailing from such locales as Italy, Denmark, Hungary, France, England and Canada, just to name a few. 

I'm not even going to segue into that other train of thought....that history as we each know it, is only as it's presented by each country to it's citizens.  There's not enough room in my blog to cover that subject!

Despite the other inventors mentioned, Mr. Bell has been honored with postage stamps commemorating "his" invention by many far-reaching countries, including Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and Bulgaria, as well as an exceptionally suave image of dear old Alexander as depicted on the Grenada commemorative stamp!

So what are we teaching our young children today when they innocently ask, "Who invented the telephone?"  Do we give them the stock answer that it was Alexander Graham Bell?  Or should the answer be, "Well, honey, common lore has it that it was a man named Alexander Graham Bell, but it was actually a collaborative worldwide effort that included many bits and pieces that were improved upon along the way, by many different inventors, as well as a fight to the finish to see who could get the credit first?"  Now tell me, what curious six year old is going to be satisfied with the second answer?  But I guess if they're curious enough to ask the question, the answer should probably be, "Don't bother me with such complicated questions, just go Google it yourself on your iPhone!"  Which roughly translates to, "How the hell should I know, honey?!"


by Carsten Stroud

"Something is wrong in Niceville" is the title of the overview of this novel on B&  I have to add that something is wrong with NICEVILLE because the book never seems to gel.

There is an enormous cast of characters, none of whom are completely fleshed out or particularly engaging and the story line is very muddy, jumping between protagonists.  There is an underlying tone of horror or the supernatural, but even this is muddled and not fully clarified or solidified, simply running like a dark thread throughout the novel.  It's like the author couldn't decide between writing a mystery or a horror story and decided to do both.  Kind of a Stephen King-ish feel, without ever satisfying.

When I start reading a book and invest my time, I feel compelled to try to at least give it my best shot and finish reading to the end.  However, with NICEVILLE, I was tempted to walk away more than once, and, after laboring through the story, I wish I had.

ISBN 978-0-307-95858-9
Pub. Date:  To be released June 12, 2012
400 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


You've all heard the expression that begins with "the best laid plans..."  Well, I had what I thought was a great plan, but it sure didn't work out too well.

I'm sure most of you are seeing rising bundled services for phone, internet and television.  I recently decided to unbundle our service at our summer home in Connecticut.  Unfortunately in Southeastern CT, there aren't a lot of options.  You can use Comcast (which is what we've been using) or you can switch to AT&T or SBC.  Comcast is the only one with the so-called triple-play since AT&T and SBC don't do TV service.

AT&T is a good old household name, so I chose them to switch the phone and internet service to.  Mind you, this was not because there was anything wrong with our very reliable Comcast service, it was simply a financial decision.  After numerous phone calls I realized that I could save hundreds of dollars every year!  Why wouldn't I want that!?

About a month ago, I spend endless time on the phone and switched over the phone and internet service.  My friend and I proceeded to install the AT&T high speed internet service following the instructions provided.  Included with the new modem/router were three plug in filters.  The instructions were very clear and we installed one of the filters on a phone line that wasn't directly hooked up to the modem or my computer.  Everything looked good and worked great, for about an hour.

I was talking to my husband on the phone in New Jersey when there was a loud sizzling static sound on the phone, a popping sound coming from my computer and my house alarm went off.  For a minute I thought the house blew up!  I immediately called AT&T from my cell phone and didn't get too much advice, so I unplugged the modem and computer completely and went back to New Jersey.

Here I am, a month later, ready to tackle the problem with renewed vigor.....HA!  I arranged beforehand to have an AT&T technician come to the house last Thursday to find out what was going wrong.  He showed up as scheduled and proceeded to put a whole-house filter in the basement, telling me that the three filters that were mailed to me were nothing but junk and never work.  Interesting.  "All set", he said when he packed up to leave.  I tried to give him back the three plug in filters (definitely pieces of equipment I had never seen before and didn't want) and he told me to throw them away since that's all he would do with them anyway!!!  This might be one of the reasons that the prices of all of these services are going up; let's just throw equipment away!

He left and everything was fine for about an hour at most and then I had no internet again, but the phones worked fine.  I called AT&T on Thursday evening and the representative who answered the phone said she could see that we were "dropped" 14 times in just a couple of hours.  I could have told her that since the only way to get on to the internet was to unplug the equipment totally, reboot my computer, wait 15 seconds, plug everything back in and start all over.  All the pretty little flashing lights on the modem came on green, signalling that it was good to go.  Signed back on to Google and maybe five minutes later, POOF, the internet service light turned red.

I called AT&T again and the rep said that there were problems with the line and it would be fixed by Friday morning.  Okay, one night  was doable, my husband and I could spend time talking to each other for a change, all good.  Friday morning rolled around and same thing, intermittent short-term internet service.  I called back and another rep told me that I'd get a recorded message telling me that everything was fine within five or six hours on Friday, which would have been in the late afternoon.  What do you think happened?  You're phone call and no message and no internet.

So I called back again on Friday evening and I think I reached someone in Guam.  I was told that they were aware of the problem and that I shouldn't be so impatient, I'd get a call back.  HAHA!  Not!  Amazingly, AT&T customer service is not open in the evenings or on Saturday or Sunday.   Nice that they get the weekends off, isn't it?

First thing Monday morning, I called Comcast and begged them to take me back!  And quickly, please!  They were wonderful.  They waived the reinstallation fee and had a technician here today to set everything up.  Of course we wound up with a temporary phone number for five to seven days, while Comcast wrestles our original number back from AT&T's clutches, but we can live with that.  What we do have is internet service.....glorious wonderful internet service!  I can even finally load a book onto my Kindle again without having to drive to the local Starbucks and I can finally blog again, so I'm a happy camper.  My husband can check his office email, too.  Wonderful!

I'm not going to tell AT&T that I'm switching back until I get my original phone number back, so that will be our secret.  Sad that such a once-prestigious company is so unreliable.  My advice to you is to be careful when you're looking for savings on these's not as easy as it looks and it's really hard work!

Monday, April 9, 2012


by Harlan Coben

I have to preface my review of Harlan Coben's newest book by reminding everyone that I have been a long time fan of his, having read and enjoyed every book he's written.  This includes SHELTER,  the first in the Mickey Bolitar young adult series that was introduced in September, 2011, and which was terrific.

Sadly, STAY CLOSE is not terrific.  It's not even close to terrific.  In fact, STAY CLOSE is pretty mediocre.

My disappointment didn't arise from the entirely different cast of characters, and definitely not because I was looking forward to settling down with a new Myron Bolitar tale.   My disappointment arose from the convoluted story and the addition of two minor characters who added nothing to the story other than to be ridiculous and annoying, diminishing an already muddled and far-fetched plot. Perhaps Mr. Coben was just trying to poke fun at the plastic Ken and Barbie, but presenting them as preppy bible-spouting killers was absurd.

I would recommend you pass on purchasing STAY CLOSE.  It's not worth your time or your money.

ISBN 978-0-525-95227-5
Pub. Date:  March 2012
387 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Happy Easter everyone!

After a much needed break, a time to reflect, I'm back and ready to blog!  I needed to put my book reviews and blog into perspective.  I found myself facing expectations that, quite honestly, made me uncomfortable.  I realized that I needed a "mission statement" for what I do.

My blog was intended as a small vehicle to share my reading interests with family and friends.  Much to my surprise and delight, I received hits from almost every corner of the globe.  The downside was that I began to take myself and my blog a little too seriously, feeling guilty if I took a few days off and feeling a little awkward in writing my own little insights apart from book reviews.

But I'm a curious and off-kilter person by nature and things and words strike me differently than they might other people.  I have one friend who often tells me that I "think too much!"  Is that even possible??

Just last week I had to replace a light bulb.  When I looked at the GE packaging, I noticed that my 60 watt incandescent bulb packaging also included information about the number of life hours of the bulb and 630 lumens.  For many decades, I never noticed how many lumens were in my bulbs.  Try to look up lumens, the noun, and this is the definition.....

1.  The Sl unit of luminous flux, equal to the amount of light emitted per second in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform....blah blah blah.            
2.  The central cavity of a tubular or other hollow structure in an organism or cell.

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not a rocket scientist and don't feel I need to know the lumens of my bulbs, or that I even have a better understanding of lumens, but my bulb works great.

The upshot of my meanderings is that I'm going to continue to provide the best and most honest reviews of the books I read from my point of view.  I'm also going to have a little more fun with my "Lynn's Blog" entries so I hope you'll come back often to visit and read what I write.

We're heading to the Jersey shore today with our son Robert and our daughter-in-law Stacey for a day of boardwalk french fries and skeeball...the REAL Jersey Shore!  I hope you all enjoy this beautiful and sunny Easter and get to spend time with people you love.

Happy Easter!