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The Week in Review: 03.23.2018

March 23, 2018


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

I used to read lots of true crime fiction so I decided to pick up I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK: ONE WOMAN’S OBSESSIVE SEARCH FOR THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER by Michelle McNamara after reading several great reviews of it.  McNamara was a true crime writer who was determined to solve the case of the serial rapist and killer she dubbed the Golden State Killer.  She spent a lot of time researching the case and kept meticulous notes.  She worked with detectives and private citizens who were looking for justice as well.  Sadly she passed away so didn’t get to solve the case or finish her book.  In order to finish the book, her editors have pieced together some parts of the story through magazine articles, etc that she wrote and clearly state when they’ve done so.

Even though this book is disturbing, I liked it but don’t think I liked it as much as Julie, Candace, or Sarah.)  It felt different than the true crime I’m used to.  I think it’s because the killer hasn’t been caught so we never “got into his head.”  It made the story feel somewhat incomplete to me, if that makes sense.  Don’t get me wrong, the book is well written and worth reading – I’m hoping it will lead to the capture of the man responsible for the horrific crimes it describes.  (Review copy provided by Harper Collins.)


BECOMING MADELEINE: A BIROGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR OF A WRINKLE IN TIME BY HER GRANDDAUGHTERS by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Léna Roy is a lovely tribute to Madeleine L’Engle.  L’Engle had a lonely, somewhat nomadic childhood and always loved to write.  Her writing wasn’t always well received but she never gave up.  She married, had children, helped her husband run a business, and still made time for her writing.

I thought this middle grade book was terrific!  The authors have included letters, poems, and diary entries that bring L’Engle to life, giving the book a very personal feel.  I love the message of the book and think it will inspire young readers and writers.  I listened to the audio version of BECOMING MADELEINE which is narrated by the authors and I thought they did a pretty good job of bringing the book to life.  If you choose to experience this on audio, the print copy is worth looking at for its fabulous photographs.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


ON GULL BEACH, the third story in the On Bird Hill & Beyond series, by Jane Yolen is a wonderful picture book about a young boy who saves a sea star from sea gulls.  It’s written in rhyming verse that will appeal to young readers and listeners.  There are four pages in the back of the book about birds, crabs, and sea stars that explains why sea stars are no longer called starfish.  It also shares a few ways young people can help beaches and wildlife.  Bob Marstall’s beautiful illustrations make this book visually appealing as well.  It’s a must read for every youngster who loves the beach and would make a fabulous addition to an Easter basket.  (Review copy provided by Media Masters Publicity.)


I read THE LAST CASTLE by Denise Kiernan for my book club meeting this month.  It’s the story of George and Edith Vanderbilt and Biltmore, the fabulous home he built in Asheville, North Carolina.  George inherited a lot of money and never had to work while Edith came from a socially acceptable family that had fallen on hard times and the two made a good pair.  Biltmore was built before George married – he had a vision of a self-sustaining estate – and Edith assumed her role as the lady of the manor with ease, entertaining guests while also doing much to help the less fortunate of the community.  Since we don’t live too far from Asheville, everyone in my book club is familiar with the city and has visited Biltmore, so all but one of us enjoyed the book.  The one dissenting vote didn’t finish the book, saying she didn’t like the disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”   I enjoyed the book and found it to be well written and researched and interesting.  It’s very readable and gave me a real feel of what it was like to live in the early part of the twentieth century.  I think this book will hold the most appeal for history buffs and those who live in the southeast.  (Review copy provided by Touchstone.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • I helped Vance do his taxes so I’m officially done for taxes this year!
  • My book club met to discuss THE LAST CASTLE by Denise Kiernan.  It’s the story of the Vanderbilts and Biltmore, their Asheville, North Carolina home.  All but one of us enjoyed the book and it generated one of our best discussions ever.  We’ve all visited Biltmore and did wonder if we would have enjoyed the book as much if we’d never been there.
  • It seems the groundhog was right because our weather won’t settle down.  We had a few spring like days but then winter came blasting back.  Thankfully, we didn’t get snow like our friends in the northeast.
  • We walked at least three miles each morning and I averaged just over 17,000 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?


28 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2018 6:56 am

    My sisters-in-law and I want to plan a trip to the Biltmore. Maybe we should do a book club read of The Last Estate to prepare.

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves permalink
    March 23, 2018 7:11 am

    I hear you on not being able to get into the killers head….that was a fascinating part of The Stranger Beside Me and In Cold Blood, but I did love the angle of being able to get into Michelle’s obsession.

  3. Beth F permalink
    March 23, 2018 7:44 am

    I understand your reaction to Gone in the Dark, but I was completely captivated! Becoming Madeleine looks good and is totally new to me. I’ve had the Biltmore book on my list since it came out, but still haven’t read it. Maybe this summer.

  4. March 23, 2018 8:10 am

    On Gull Beach is going on my “Mimi’s bookshelf” list. My granddaughters will love it, I’m sure!

  5. March 23, 2018 9:34 am

    I’ve always wanted to visit Asheville, NC and have yet to go. I must get there! In addition to the Biltmore, I’d sort of like to visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial there. Hmm good stuff. And I’m on the fence about whether to pick up the Golden State Killer book ….

  6. March 23, 2018 10:14 am

    The only thing I have to report is that I posted my 1st blog last night in a month! I had to give snapshots/ratings of 11 books because there’s no time to do in-depth reviews. That’s the longest I’ve gone without posting even counting my triple bypass 6 years ago! Hopefully, I will have a little more time moving forward.

  7. March 23, 2018 10:32 am

    Becoming Madeleine sounds great!

  8. March 23, 2018 10:36 am

    Glad to know you enjoyed The Last Castle… I’m planning to listen soon. I was fascinated by the Biltmore when we visited a couple of years ago and hope to return one day.

  9. March 23, 2018 1:08 pm

    I am intrigued by The Last Castle…and yes, I’m also curious about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your weekend.

  10. March 23, 2018 1:37 pm

    I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is hitting close to home these days. The killer hit Santa Barbara (where I live) when I was in high school and he killed a classmate’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend. That classmate is very active right now in the search for the killer, working with the FBI, etc.

  11. March 23, 2018 2:14 pm

    I’ll Be Gone in the Dark sounds really good! Good job on your steps!

  12. March 23, 2018 3:19 pm

    Winter is never leaving

  13. March 23, 2018 3:32 pm

    I’m glad to hear about your book club’s great discussion. I’ll have to read this book to see if my book club might be interested. Not being near the Biltmore might make a difference for us. A book on the Hearst Castle might be better. I’m glad you had such a good week.

  14. March 23, 2018 3:52 pm

    Kathy, your book club sounds like a good one! I think we are all ready for lovely spring weather. Your step count continues to impress and inspire me. Have a great weekend!

  15. Literary Feline permalink
    March 23, 2018 7:42 pm

    We have been getting a lot of rain as of late. The Kiernan book sounds interesting. I hope you have a great weekend, Kathy! Mouse has horse camp. She’s so excited! Hopefully the weather cooperates.

  16. March 24, 2018 5:15 am

    I’ve not read a single of these books. Going to try down at least one of these.

  17. March 24, 2018 11:35 am

    I really liked The Last Castle when I read it last year, I thought it was super interesting and a peek into a part of history I know a bit about, but not much. I have the McNamara book on my shelves, but every time I’ve started it creeped me out too much. I need to read it on a bright, sunny afternoon, I think!

  18. March 24, 2018 2:52 pm

    I plan to read Michelle McNamara’s although the mystery prevails.

  19. March 24, 2018 5:55 pm

    I totally understand what you mean about no conclusion to the story. That bothered me too, but I think more because a horrible person could still be out there than a knock on the book.

  20. March 24, 2018 6:26 pm

    A lot of people seemed to love I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, I think Sandy read it recently too. And I’ve never been to Biltmore but I really want to go. One of my friends went a few years ago and she said it was one of the most fun trips she’d been on.

  21. March 24, 2018 11:11 pm

    I missed getting On Gull Beach. The email got buried and I felt like it was too late to request it. It sounds wonderful though. I think I would feel unsettled by the Golden State Killer book too. We got 10″ of snow today, so alas, spring is not here either.

  22. Lauren Becker permalink
    March 25, 2018 3:16 pm

    I finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark last week and really loved it. I can see how it would be hard to read for some though since the killer hasn’t been caught or even identified (if they are dead, etc.).


  23. March 25, 2018 4:34 pm

    Huh, I didn’t know The Last Castle was about Biltmore. It’s still on my bucket list. We never made it to Asheville while we were North Carolinians. We spent too much time running back to visit New England.

  24. March 25, 2018 7:08 pm

    Becoming Madeleine sounds lovely. It’s been awhile since I read a great middle-great book.

  25. March 25, 2018 8:52 pm

    We paid a short visit to the Biltmore a couple of summers ago. I really want to go back and explore it more in depth.

  26. March 26, 2018 4:47 pm

    I may have to add The Last Castle to my to-read list. I’ve always wanted to visit Biltmore, but haven’t gotten there yet.

  27. Diane D permalink
    March 27, 2018 5:16 pm

    My granddaughters LOVE the beach so I bet On Gull Beach would be a big hit here. The Biltmore is on my “to visit” list Kathy.

  28. March 30, 2018 11:17 pm

    I’ve seen McNamara’s husband on tv talking about the book and I think the fact that it was incomplete when she died (so sad) turned me off and that sounds like part of your problem with it too. I’d like to read Becoming Madeleine. Since it’s not April we haven’t looked at our taxes, lol.

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