Jul 30, 2009

Japanese Literature Challenge 3

Wish I had more time to read contemporary Japanese writers. Now is my chance. Join me in the third challenge to read books of Japanese origin. You will have from July 30, 2009 to Jan. 30, 2010. The rules are from Dolce Bellezza, who sponsors the challenge.
"All you have to do is read one work of Japanese origin. It can be literature of course, but don’t feel confined to that. You may choose to read poetry, biographies, short stories or even manga. If you are willing to read one such piece, you’ve met the challenge. If you read more, all the better."
Please check her website, Japanese Literature Challenge 3 for the details, and the list of very nice prizes!

Here is a review of The Housekeeper and the Professor by Ogawa and a review of After Dark, a favorite of mine by Haruki Murakami.

I plan to read:
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, literary fiction
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, literary fiction
The Devil's Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe, a mystery
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, literary fiction

(Challenge photo is by Tanabata from In Spring It is the Dawn)

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Women Read More Than Men: Research Report for Book Industry

Bowker Publishes First Consumer-Focused Research Report for Book Industry

The article in Earth Times gives us a brief summary of the report: women read more than men, though men were catching up in 2008. Mystery books are most popular with book clubs.

An excerpt from the Earth Times article:

"According to Gallagher, some of the detailed insights contained in the new report include the following:

-- 57% of book buyers are women yet women purchase 65% of the books sold
in the U.S.
-- Mystery books are the most popular genre for book club sales, with 17%
of all purchases of mystery books coming directly from book clubs
-- Generation X consumers buy more books online than any other
demographic group, with 30% of them buying their books through the Internet
-- 21% of book buyers said they became aware of a book through some sort
of online promotion or ad
-- Women made the majority of the purchases in the paperback, hardcover
and audio-book segments, but men accounted for 55% of e-book purchases"

Evidently the report, "2008 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report," for those of us who might think of buying it, costs $999.00, with a 10% discount for orders made by July 31.

Interesting comments on this report by blogger: Straight From Hel

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Jul 27, 2009

Tuesday Teaser: Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Choose two sentences from your current read, and add the author and title for readers. Anyone can join in.

"Again I looked at my image in the mirror, this time with open eyes - well, one open eye. 'Oh, my heavens, oh, my stars,' I said, feeling faint."

from Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers.

Who and where am I?
Magdalena Yoder owns a Mennonite inn in Pennsylvania. She solves crimes (and writes recipes) in all the books she is in. Hell Hath No Curry is the 15th in the comedy-mystery series by Tamar Myers.

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Lost in Translation 2009 Reading Challenge: Update

Lost in Translation Book Challenge was hosted by Nonesuch Book.

Click on the titles below to see my reviews:

1. Tokyo Fiancee by Amelie Nothomb, translated from the French.

2. Real World by Natsuo Kirino, translated from the Japanese.

3. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, translated from the Spanish.

4. Andean Express, translated from the Spanish.

5. The Housekeeper and the Professor, translated from the Japanese.

6. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French.

7.Tao Te Ching translated from the Chinese.

I hope to finish up with The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami, translated from the Japanese.

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Book Review: Mortal Friends: A Novel

Mortal Friends: A Novel by Jane Stanton Hitchcock is a Washington D.C. mystery-thriller with a good plot, well developed characters, and very smooth prose.
Mortal Friends: A Novel
A serial killer is on the loose and DC high society is on edge because of talk that the Beltway Basher, as he is called, could be a well known, even a high profile individual.

This doesn't bother the friendship of interior decorator Reven Lynch or her best friend, the well connected Violet Bolton, who have known each other since high school. When Reven decides to help Detective Gunner snoop for clues among high society of the Washington Beltway, however, things begin to get dicey for Reven. Her new love interest Bob Poll, for instance, is on Detective Gunner's list as a suspect.

And events begin to strain her friendship with Violet. She feels badly for hiding Violet's husband's affair with a wealthy philanthropist. What does this have to do with solving the murders?

The plot is not predictable. There are some surprises at the end! I never would have guessed the reason for the most recent murder or the culprit.

An entertaining read for all mystery/thriller fans.

Jane Stanton Hitchcock, a New York Times bestselling author, has also written The Witches' Hammer, Trick of the Eye, Social Crimes, and One Dangerous Lady. She lives in New York City and Washington D.C.

Advance readers copy provided by the publisher for my objective review.

View all my reviews >>

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Jul 25, 2009

Dollar Finds

Am I lucky or what? Here's what I got for $1 each:

How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich, writer of the Stephanie Plum mystery series.

Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers, A Pennsylania Dutch Mystery with recipes, featuring innkeeper Magdalena Yoder, the 15th in the mystery series.

The Pegasus Secret by Gregg Loomis, a thriller set in Paris, with a plot reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code.

Unburnable: A Novel by Marie-Elena John. A woman returns to her island home of Dominica after twenty years, determined to face the secrets of her past.

Dollar Finds seemed a good name for a Meme when I found the brand new books for $1 each at a local discount store! I'll bet others have found books also, for $1 or so! What did you get?

Let us know in your Dollar Finds whenever you get bargains like these!

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Book Review: Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

Crossed Wires Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

A romance slowly develops between Mina, a single mother who works at an insurance company call center in Cambridge, England, and Peter, a Cambridge professor and a widower with two children. They meet by phone when Peter calls in to the insurance center to report an accident he has been in. The two continue to communicate by phone. In between their finally getting together and meeting each other's families in person, we have detailed accounts of their separate lives.

From the publisher's description:

" This is a story about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood, about one-ness and two-ness, about symmetry and coincidence, about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together."

For those who don't live in the U.K., the best thing about the book is following Mina and Peter's separate family lives and getting a close view of a section of daily living in Britain.

For the romance, however, I would have preferred a more stream lined approach, as the novel has material for at least two separate books, I thought. The extensive detail of family life detracts somewhat from the very clever romantic plot.

Nevertheless, I heartily recommend Crossed Wires for a nice romance and especially for a good look at two families in Cambridge and the ups and downs of parenting!

Book received from the author for review.

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Jul 23, 2009

Book Review: Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein

Drawing in the Dust Drawing in the Dust by Zoe Klein
is a fictional love story told by a young archaeologist in Israel who discovers the bones of the prophet Jeremiah surprisingly entwined with those of an historically unknown woman, Anatiya. The archaeologist Page Brookstone, a New Yorker, finds the bones and the scrolls of Anatiya in a cistern hidden under the house of an Arab couple who had begged her to excavate under the house. There were ghosts there - lovers, they claimed.

Page fights to bring Anatiya's scrolls to light, to be available to all scholars and not to just a few as happened with the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, and fights to have the remains of Jeremiah and Anatiya kept together.

The book, spiritual and Biblical, also focuses on the nature of love. From the publisher's description:

"Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiya's passionate message to the world."
Archaeologists, Biblical scholars, and lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this novel. Those who have never traveled to Israel will get a feel for the land and the people. Author Zoe Klein is a senior rabbi in the Los Angeles area and a writer of poetry and other works. More information about the book is available at www.zoeklein.com

Book received from the author/publisher for review.

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Review: The Black Monastery by Stav Sherez

The Black Monastery The Black Monastery: Paradise Can Be Murder by Stav Sherez

Forget Zorba the Greek, blue skies and white sandy beaches, dolphins cavorting off shore, bazouki music, locals playing backgammon and drinking ouzo, and dancing in the streets. The Black Monastery is a noir tale of a Greek island, the fictitious Palassos, where the murders of two boys in what seems like a cult sacrifice took place back in 1974, and where the same ritual murders are once again happening.

And why were the murders all near the Black Monastery, a structure in the interior of the island that has been closed for years and turned into a tourist venue?

The book brings police chief Nikos back to his hometown after years on the police force in Athens. He is haunted by the 1974 murders and cult suicides and wants to resolve the new cases that seem so similar to the ones in the past. Two other people are interested and delve into the mystery even at their own risk - two writers who meet on the island and become involved, Kitty and Jason.

Don't try this book unless you are really into noir. It seems very spooky throughout, but the ending and the mystery solved is very real and done by people with real motives.

You will like Nikos, the police chief, a sympathetic and well drawn character with angst about his home, his people, the visitors and tourists on a changed island, and an old crime. Compelling, gripping, and a little horrifying, Sherez has written a very different take on paradise in his novel, The Black Monastery: Paradise Can Be Murder.

Book provided by the author/publisher for my objective review.

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Jul 22, 2009

Bought Books

Halleluja and pass the butter! Two new books from the bookstore!

I normally buy books from library book sales as I support my local library wholeheartedly, but I had to buy these new books!

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, for the Lost in Translation Challenge 2009, and Orange County: A Personal History by Gustavo Arellano, award winning author of the Los Angeles Press Club.

I wanted to read Barbery's book for its unique characters, and Arellano's memoir for its personal and "cultural history" of Orange County, California.

Looking forward to being challenged and informed!

Jul 21, 2009

Book Review: Deceptive Clarity by Betty Gordon

Deceptive Clarity Deceptive Clarity by Betty Gordon

Houston private investigator Lisa Martin takes on a local missing person case, only to find the trail leading far afield - to Rome, London, and Cairo.

She also begins to investigate the man who hired her, a businessman named Don Sekoli. With her sidekick Guy and her significant other Tony, the three follow the trail of the missing import-export dealer, Ryan Lucas, and find information through a contact in Cairo.

Feature in some statues of King Tut and other Egyptian antiquities, add the elusive Ryan Lucas and the virtually unknown Don Sekoli, some threatening notes to Lisa, plus add a touch of romance into the mystery, and you have an enjoyable and entertaining mystery!

Tony grappled with how much he wanted to say. Then, he bit the bullet. "What does your feminine intuition tell you about Sekoli or are you too fascinated with the man?"

"I told you before not to go there..."

"Hold on. I'm only talking about business." (p. 141)

Though the novel is described by the publisher as a thriller/suspense novel, don't expect a lot of violence. The book is driven by the plot, the unfolding of the mystery behind the characters, and the personality of P.I. Lisa. I recommend it as an enjoyable summer read!

Book received from the author for review.

Deceptive Clarity, published by L&L Dreamspell, December 2008. Betty Gordon's first novel was Murder in the Third Person.

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Born to Run by James Grippando: Teaser Tuesday review

Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck finds "intrigue and murder" at the top levels of government. The vice president of the U.S. goes hunting for alligators in the Florida Everglades and doesn't survive. Jack becomes the lawyer for the new vice president and discovers dangerous secrets that go back fifty years.

Jack was seated in the chair that was normally for clients, his forearms tied tightly to the armrests with the cord that the Greek had yanked from the lamp. The Greek sat on the desk, his gun aimed at Jack's chest.

"You must be Anthony Quinn," said Jack. ( p. 176)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Choose two sentences from your current read, and add the author and title for readers.


Jul 20, 2009

More Awards! (updated)

Thanks to Tea at
Living Life and Reading Books for the Friendship/Let's Be Friends Award and also for the Heartfelt Award! Also thanks to Michael of A Few Minutes With Michael for the Kreativ Blogger Award and for the Let's Be Friends Award, and to Natalie of The Book Inn for the Proximidade Award. (See Awards, Awards, Awards below).

From an older post: I am passing on the Friendship Award to some friendly bloggers who I don't think have this award as yet!

Sue at Book By Book
BookBitch (Don't let the name throw you; this site is very book friendly.)
Shannon at Confuzzled Books
Colleen at Foreign Service Library
Melissa at Shh I'm Reading
Nise at Under the Boardwalk
Kelly at The Novel Bookworm

Please check out these blogs!!

Jul 18, 2009

Book Review: Death Loves a Messy Desk

Death Loves a Messy Desk (Charlotte Adams Mystery, Book 3) Death Loves a Messy Desk by Mary Jane Maffini

This funny cozy and feng shui-interior decorating mystery gets four stars for being witty and entertaining. I also read Maffini's "The Cluttered Corpse," but think this book is more clever.

In Death Loves a Messy Desk (2009), the main character Charlotte is trying to relax after recovering from solving a murder, The Cluttered Corpse. She signs up to train her two miniature "wiener" dogs to become certified therapy dogs in a volunteer program and meets another volunteer, Fredelle, who hires her on the spot to organize her work office and especially the untidy, unsightly desk of a new coworker, Barbara.

Charlotte runs her own business as an organizer in a small town and is well known. She has to deal with crazy office politics in the company, Quovadicon, to do this new job. Trying to help tidy Barbara's desk becomes a task when coworkers clash and Barbara disappears.

Charlotte, however, is too organized to let this job go and just drop it, even when she is fired by Fredelle, who had hired her in the first place. She snoops as any serious amateur detective would, and gets herself into trouble. Attempts on her life and on Quovadicon employees, including the self-effacing son of the owner, doesn't get Charlotte much sympathy from her closest friends until she is over her head in trouble and the bodies start to pile up, about three in all.

The plot is good, though I guessed the mystery behind Barbara's disappearance about two-thirds of the way through. The culprits were a big surprise tho.

If you love cute, disobedient dogs who are averse to training, plus long girlfriend talks (some of them should have been shortened), and a lot of humor in a good mystery plot, you'll like Death Loves a Messy Desk.

View all my Goodread reviews

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Jul 16, 2009

I Cannot Tell a Lie meme

I was tagged for this meme by Mark at Hawaiian Eye: Mark Troy on Crime Fiction. I don't hope to match his hilarious answers. You must read them; I guarantee laughs. His post will also lead you to others who have done this meme.

Here's what it's about:

I Cannot Tell A Lie meme:
"Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie."

Pride: What is your biggest contribution to the world?
I helped to ghost write an international best selling novel about old world pirates, called Shillings on Your Chest. To research, I had to go to the island of Jamaica. I visited the old town of Port Royal, a real pirate's haven, in those days anyway. The great earthquake of 1692 destroyed the town and the pirates both. I had a grand time drinking Captain Morgan rum and coke and chatting with the locals.

Envy: What do your co-workers wish they had that is yours?
My vast knowledge about pirates, piracy, and my huge cache of Jamaican rum.

Gluttony: What did you eat last night?

I had two large milkshakes, three hamburgers, and a huge pile of fries at Johnny Rockets while listening to 60's music by The Four Seasons. My better half sat and shook his head. Well, I was hungry!

Lust: What really lights your fire?
A roomful of books and genuine fake antiques at cheap prices.

Anger: What is the last thing that really pissed you off?
A bunch of workmen came in to fix the the leaky roof and the squeaky floor last month. They left with my $1300 pair of binoculars and my set of exercise tapes when my husband wouldn't pay them.

Greed: Name something you keep from others?
I don't share my sakura tea or my bottle of Osaka saki with anyone. In fact, the bottle has never been opened. Also, I secretly count ducks in a row when I go to sleep.

Sloth! I forgot Sloth! How slothful of me!
What's the laziest thing you've ever done?

It's not filling out memes and passing them on and notifying people - that is Not Slothful. The laziest thing I've ever done is affect a limp and wear a pair of crutches so that my neighbors would snow plow my driveway and sidewalks after a long hard snowfall.

Want to lie? Leave a comment, and you are automatically tagged. Or just go ahead and do it on your own!

Tagged are (more than seven. But these days there may be more than 7 deadly sins):
Carol's Notebook
Beach Bum
Life in the Thumb
Stacy's Book Blog
Bibliophile By the Sea
Alternative Read
The Narrative Causality
Jenny Loves to Read
Chick with Books
What Was I Reading?

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Jul 14, 2009

Awards, Awards, Awards

Awards from some very nice bloggers!

Thanks so much to Michael of A Few Minutes With Michael and also to Jessica of A BookLover's Diary for the Kreativ Blogger Award!

To accept this, I am to list seven of my favorite things and send the award on to seven blogs.

My favorite things (doubled because I like lists):

1. Checking to see which new country arrived on my blog. Getting new awards.

2. Checking the robin's nest just outside the front window to see if she's still flitting in and out, fixing up the nest for the second clutch of eggs. Update: She's back and settling in for the long haul. Watching to see when the eggs will hatch!

3. Having a rum and coke in the summer. Having one in the winter.

4. Having a pina colada in the summer, and in the winter.

5. Reading a really good book without interruptions. Getting a new book in the mail.

6. Watching my neighbors coo over their two little dogs. Watching my neighbors plant a bright pink hydrangea and other flowers.

7. Lying on a beach all day (if I could find one close by). Reading on a beach all day if I can get there.

I nominate :
A Book A Week
A Bookworm's Blog
Absorbed In Words
Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings
Sassy Brit and Her Gang
Barney's Book Blog
Bibliophile By the Sea

Congratulations! Looking forward to seeing your favorite things!

The Proximidade Award

This unique award comes from Natalie of The Book Inn and also from Mari of MariReads

This blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.

I'd like to pass this on to

Reading at the Beach
Enchanted by Josephine
Everything Distils into Reading
A BookLover's Diary
Dolce Bellezza

Thanks to Vicki of Reading at the Beach for this very generous award!

The Humane Award is in order to honor certain bloggers that I feel are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn’t for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendships through the blog world.”

I nominate: There are so many really nice and generous bloggers who visit and make comments. I pass this on to all of you - you are tagged! You know who you are! Let's start off with just a few:

Living Life and Reading Books
Kathi Harris's Book Corner
Jenny Loves to Read


Please check out all these blogs!

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New Books: Hispanic Literature

Frida Kahlo: The Still Lifes by Salomon Grimberg, and Hayden Herrera
2008 - Merrell
A book about the still life paintings of Mexican painter Kahlo (1907-1954). I saw the movie based on her life and her paintings figured a lot in the film.

Gringo: A Coming of Age in Latin America
By Boudin, Chesa
2009 - Scribner Book Company
A young man's trip to South America. I'd love to read about this trip and how it helps his "coming of age." I've visited only two countries in S.A. and would love to see more.

More Than This
by Margo Candela
2008 - Touchstone Books
A love story by a Latina author.

Take Me with You: A Memoir
By Carlos Frias
2008 - Atria Books
A Cuban-American's trip back to Cuba. Now this memoir I certainly want to read. I'm very curious about life there.

Midnight on the Line: The Secret Life of the U.S.-Mexico Border by Tim Gaynor
2009 - Thomas Dunne Books
Reuters reporter Tim Gaynor details his trip along the 45-mile "illegal alien superhighway" at the U.S.-Mexican border.It deals with a Native American group on the border as well as Mexican nationals trying to cross over. I also think it covers the Border Patrol, that controversial group of volunteers. The title "secret life" promises new info.

Thank you Book Letters of the LLC for this list of current Hispanic books.


Jul 13, 2009

Book Review: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

 Memorable characters and story are a prerequisite for literary fiction, according to Literary fiction vs genre fiction.

The Housekeeper and the Professor  is definitely literary fiction based on those criteria. The housekeeper and the professor aren't named, as names aren't important in the book. Nor is time. What matters are the personalities, their interactions, and the relationship they develop.

The professor is a math genius who remembers nothing that happened after 1975 because of head injuries in a car accident. His short term memory lasts only eighty minutes. His new housekeeper has to remind him who she is every day when she comes in to clean and cook. The professor keeps track of his chores or work schedule by pinning reminder notes to his suit.

In spite of the strange situation, the Professor and the Housekeeper and her young son develop a caring friendship. He teaches them math concepts and math formulas, and becomes concerned about the son's welfare. How this is possible given his short term memory is the basis of the novel.

A five star book, definitely. Also short and easy to read, so long as you don't stop to solve the math problems!
"The thing the Professor hated most in the whole world was a crowd, which is why he was to reluctant to leave the house. Stations, trains, department stores, movie theaters, shopping malls - any place people gathered in large numbers was unbearable for him. there was something fundamentally incompatible between crushing, random crowds and pure mathematical beauty." p. 64
(Japanese Literature Challenge 3, Lost in Translation Challenge. and Support your Local Library Reading Challenge)

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Teaser Tuesday: Death Loves a Messy Desk by Mary Jane Maffini

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Choose two sentences from your current read, and add the author and title for readers. Anyone can join in.

"First off, reconfigure the IT area so that Robbie and Barb aren't visible on the path to the staff room or anywhere."

Fredelle blinked. "Will her desk still be messy?" (p. 59)

In Death Loves a Messy Desk by Mary Jane Maffini, Charlotte Adams is hired to organize the workspace in an office, in particular the messy desk of an employee named Barbara. When Barb goes missing, however, Charlotte finds herself tracking down clues to this mystery.


Jul 11, 2009

Book Review: Man Overboard by Sandy Mason

Man Overboard
I liked the mystery plot about a missing boater, and liked the main character Johnny even more in Man Overboard: A Johnny Donohue Adventure, the second novel in the mystery series by Sandy Mason.

I guess you could label this a character-driven novel. Johnny is witty, down to earth, and just a little bit vain about his appearance. He also tells us a lot about life on the Gulf of Florida. Johnny lives on his boat in a marina on the west coast of Florida. While piloting a sailboat for a client from Sarasota to his marina, he and his crew come across an abandoned sailboat way offshore. The boat is empty and the owner of the boat, Tom McNeil, is missing.

Johnny is determined to find out if Tom has been kidnapped by a drug dealers, has run off, or has drowned in an accident. He meets a reporter covering the case, Maria, and together with an ex-cop and friend Lonnie they try to figure out Tom's disappearance.

Amiable, chatty, with a humorous outlook on life, Johnny introduces us to his world of sailboats, races, the sailing community, the west coast of Florida, and the pleasures of living fulltime on a boat. We also find out about why he left the corporate world in New York City and headed south for a more laid-back lifestyle.

"Once inside, Terra Ceia (Bay)is a miniature tropical paradise. A boat is well protected from winds in almost every direction. There are no stores or marinas or restaurants. It is just a quite piece of heaven and a wonderful place to be with friends." (p. 136)

As a subplot, Johnny helps his father reveal a secret kept hidden for fifty years. In the end, the would-be sleuth Johnny gets into the action by helping the police nab the culprits, while also winning the affections of the fetching Maria. I gave this very enjoyable book, a good read for summer, 4 out of 5 stars, on Goodreads.

Book provided by the author, for my objective review.

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Jul 10, 2009

Books Reviewed, 2010 and 2009

For those who love reading book reviews, here are links to reviews I've done so far.

2010 :

1. A Map of Paradise: A Novel of 19th C Hawaii by Linda Ching Sledge
2. Truly, Madly by Heather Webber, a cozy mystery
3. The Tricking of Freya: A Novel, by Christina Sunley
4. The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer, a thriller
5. The Youngest Son: Memoirs from the Homeland by Oreste LeRoy Salerni
6. The Cuban Chronicles by Wanda St. Hilaire, travel memoir
7. Knit, Purl, Die by Anne Canadeo, mystery
8. Simply Quince by Barbara Gazarian, a cookbook

9. Denise's Daily Dozen: The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks by Denise Austin, exercise and diet
10. Dino Vicelli, Private Eye by Lori Weiner, crime fiction
11. The Trudeau Vector: A Novel by Juris Jurjevics, thriller
12. One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, fiction
13. Paying Back Jack: A Vincent Calvino Novel by Christopher G. Moore, detective series
14. Thirsty: A Novel by Kristin Bair O'Keefe, fiction.
15. I Ching: New Interpretation for Modern Times

16. The Pig and I by Rachel Toor, fiction
17. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, fiction
18. The Risk of Infidelity Index: A Vincent Calvino Crime Novel by Christopher G. Moore
19. Far From the Land: An Irish Memoir by Thomas J. Rice
20. Truth, Next Exit by Michele M. Paiva, self help
21. The Brick Layer by Noah Boyd, crime fiction

22. WOW: A Handbook for Living by Zen Ohashi and Zono Kurazono, self-help
23. The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji, women's fiction
24. The Godfather of Katmandu by John Burdett, detective fiction
25. Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright, contemporary fiction
26. At Home with Laurie Ann: A Decorator's Guide , interior decorating
27. The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata, literary fiction
28. Feeling the Vibe by Candace Dow, fiction
29. A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta by Paul Theroux, crime fiction

30. Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult, women's fiction
31. Murder in the Palais Royale by Cara Black, mystery
32. Skin and Bones by D.C. Corso, crime fiction
33. Perfection: A Memoir by Julie Metz, memoir
34. Pearl of China: A Novel by Anchee Min, fiction
35. Arabesk by Barbara Nadel, a Turkish mystery
36. Nanny's Theory of Style by Grace Coopersmith, romantic comedy

37. Snakes Can't Run by Ed Lin, thriller
38. The Killing of Mindi Quintana by Jeffrey Cohen, legal thriller
39. Making a Case for Life by Stephanie Wincik, non-fiction
40. Flirting with Forever by Gwyn Cready, time-travel romantic comedy
41. In the Shadow of the Cypress by Thomas Steinbeck, historical novel
42. Clean, Green, and Lean by Walter Crinnion, self-help, cookbook
43. Sahara by Clive Cussler, adventure thriller

44. Seducing Mr. Darcy by Gwy Cready, romantic comedy
45. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, fiction
46. Assassins of Athens by Jeffrey Siger, mystery
47. The Mountain Place of Knowledge by Marshall Chamberlain, adventure thriller
48.The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan, thriller
49.The Time of the Dragons by Alice Ekert-Rotholz, an historical novel

50. Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah, fiction
51. Petals from the Sky by Mingmei Yip, fiction
52. Blood Hina by Naomi Hirahara, mystery series
53. A Twist of Orchids by Michelle Wan, mystery series
54. Half Life by Roopa Farooki, women's fiction
55. The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace, historical fiction
56. The Stone Monkey by Jeffrey Deaver, thriller
57. The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, fiction

Defending the Enemy by Elaine B. Fischel, non-fiction
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, Indian fiction*
Busy Body by M.C. Beaton, a cozy mystery*
The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton, women's fiction, romance*
A King of Infinite Space by Tyler Dilts, crime fiction
The End of Marking Time by C.J. West, dystopia

Every Bitter Thing by Leighton Gage, detective fiction*
The Insane Train by Sheldon Russel, crime fiction
The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate, women's fiction, romance
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley, mystery*
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, mystery*

Extinction by Dan Ailey, sci-fi
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, thriller**
A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill, non-fiction
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, self-help
A Darker God by Barbara Cleverly, Greek island mystery*
There's No Hope for Gomez by Graham Parke, comedy


The Housekeeper and the Professor

Man Overboard: A Johnny Donohue Adventure

Killer Summer

Songs of Blue and Gold

The Devlin Diary

Andean Express


The Cluttered Corpse

Purple Hibiscus

Borderline: A Novel

Palos Verdes Blue

April - May:

Killer Cruise

Queen's Cross

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

The Shadow of the Wind

Kiss Murder

The Trail of the Wild Rose

Bon Appetit

Fault Line

The Winner Stands Alone

Bitter Sugar

Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

Tokyo Fiancee

Fidali's Way

The Map Thief

A Gift from Brittany

Jan. - March:

The Fire Kimono

The Piano Teacher

Murder in the Latin Quarter

French Pressed

Tomb of Zeus

Dirty Little Angels

Greek Winds of Fury

The Anteater of Death

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth in Beijing

Lulu in Marrakech

Death Walked In

The Peking Man Is Missing

A Pale Horse

New Slain Knight

Book Review: Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson

Killer Summer
Some books are memorable for the characters and the setting, just as much as the plot. In Killer Summer  the memorable character is Walt Fleming, a county sheriff in Sun Valley, Idaho, that playground of the wealthy and ordinary tourists alike. Walt appears in a series of thrillers by Ridley Pearson, and this his latest, Killer Summer, is due out this summer!

The book begins with Walt on a fishing trip with his nephew, Kevin, an 18-year-old who is set to give him no end of trouble. They are fishing in the Big Wood River when Walt spots a tow truck rattling across a nearby bridge, pulling a Taurus with what could be a man slumped behind the wheel. Walt is still on duty and decides to follow the truck and investigate. This leads to a series of events that will involve Kevin, a plot to steal a case of rare and costly wine set to be auctioned at Sun Valley, and a harrowing trip through rugged mountain terrain to a plane crash site and an isolated mountain cabin.

Walt is a sympathetic character, estranged from his father, working side by side with a deputy who is also the lover of Walt's ex-wife. He also takes it on himself to keep an eye on his nephew Kevin who has only a mother to rely on. The scenic descriptions of Sun Valley, its resorts, and the mountain terrain around are worthwhile in themselves, but also essential to the plot and the fast action sequences.

I enjoyed reading the book for many reasons - character, plot, and setting. It's a cliche to say "I couldn't put it down," but I only put the book down when I absolutely had to!

Advance readers copy provided by the publisher, for my objective review.

The author talks to Book Reporter dot com about Killer Summer at Ridley Pearson interview.

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Jul 7, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Phyllis Whitney, romance author

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Choose two sentences at random from your current read, and add the author and title for readers.

I pulled almost all my Phyllis A. Whitney romantic suspense novels to take to a friend who wanted to start enjoying books again after retirement. I thought the romantic suspense novels of Whitney would be a great place to ease into reading again.

Here are my two sentences from a 1990 edition of The Singing Stones, large print edition:
"I crossed the little bridge, my shoes clicking over the boards, and Vivian Forster held out her hand. Her handclasp was warm, thought she spoke almost breathlessly, as thought she must rush into words in order to conceal whatever it was that troubled her." p. 39

Who and where am I?
Lynne McLeod, a clinical psychologist, gets a letter about her ex-husband Stephen. His daugher by another woman urgently needs her help. Lynne accepts the invitation to visit Stephen's home in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia where the sounds made by the "singing stones" of the cliffs above the house seem "soft and menacing." Lynn gets involved in solving a local murder and saving the lives of Stephen and his daughter.


Jul 2, 2009

Author Interview: Deborah Lawrenson

Deborah Lawrenson, author of Songs of Blue and Gold, sitting on the balcony of the White House in Kalami, Corfu, where writer Lawrence Durrell lived in the 1960s.

Songs of Blue and Gold is about a young English woman, Melissa, who sets out to the island of Corfu to find out the truth about her mother and the writer Julian Adie, a character inspired by the life of British writer, Lawrence Durrell.

Q: I see that you did extensive research for Songs of Blue and Gold. How long did it take, and how much travel did you have to do?
Deborah: I'd been reading about the writer, poet and traveller Lawrence Durrell and his famous zoologist brother Gerald for about six months when I realised that I wanted to explore the way the same story could appear differently in separate biographies. After that, I read everything I could find about Lawrence while I was writing Songs of Blue and Gold, which took about two years.

Naturally I had to travel to Corfu - no hardship there! I'd wanted to visit the island ever since reading Gerald's book My Family and Other Animals as a child. I went twice for research, the first time actually staying at the White House in Kalami where Lawrence lived in the 1930s. I also spent several days wandering around Sommieres in southern France with my notebook.

I really loved writing it (the novel) because I was so fascinated by Lawrence D. I had a wonderful time on Corfu doing what Melissa did, trying to see what he would have seen - and there's plenty still there.

Q: How would you describe the novel?
Deborah: It's a book that combines several genres: there's an element of mystery combined with a personal journey of discovery; I tried to make it a transporting read with a strong sense of place, of the Greek island; and it also holds the ideas of biography and memoir up to the light, and asks whether either can claim to tell the whole truth about a life.

The title describes the lapis lazuli effect of the sun on the Ionian Sea around Corfu. Songs, in Greek tradition, were not only words and music but histories too. Durrell himself described Corfu, in his book Prospero's Cell, as "all Venetian blue and gold".

Q: What prompted you to become a writer? Did your journalism experience make it easier to make the transition?
Deborah: I love words and language, and always wanted to be a writer. I became a journalist because I didn't have the confidence or experience to start writing books straight out of university! Having said that, I had some wonderful times as a journalist and learned so much, knowledge that really has been invaluable - everything from how to handle tricky encounters with new people successfully, to how newspapers publicise books.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about this or your previous novel?
Deborah: Like my previous novel The Art of Falling, this one is concerned with very personal mysteries - and the psychology of why people act the way they do, often unaware of how their actions will affect others. In Songs of Blue and Gold, the reader's reaction to Julian Adie (based on Lawrence Durrell) and his possible guilt is all to do with how he or she reads his contradictory character, and whether in their judgement the flaws outweigh the gifts and charm.
Q: Are you planning another book at this time?

Deborah: Yes, I'm about halfway through writing a novel set in the south of France. It started off as "A modern Rebecca set in Provence" (Rebecca as in Daphne du Maurier's book, and the Hitchcock film). But as I've gone along it's become more mysterious, with gothic touches and a sense of dark history. Again it's a novel with a strong evocation of place, and sensuous descriptions: the heat and the scents of herbs on the hillsides, the light and colours.

Thanks for the interview, Deborah.
"After reading English at Trinity College, Cambridge, Deborah Lawrenson worked as a journalist and magazine editor. She has written four other novels: The Art of Falling, published by Arrow in 2005, The Moonbathers (1998) and the newspaper satires Hot Gossip (1994) and Idol Chatter (1995)."
See the review of Songs of Blue and Gold in the post below.

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Jul 1, 2009

Book Review: Songs of Blue and Gold by Deborah Lawrenson

Songs of Blue and Gold is set in the lovely Greek island of Corfu. Corfu has been associated with Prospero's island, the island in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The connection was also made by the British writer, Lawrence Durrell, in his travel book, Prospero's Cell.

This is the story of a young artist Elizabeth Norden and a writer Julian Adie, two people who met in Corfu in the 1960s, had an affair there, and parted under tragic circumstances. The larger-than-life character Julian is based on the writer Durrell, who lived in Corfu in the late 1930s and again around 1968.

The novel begins many years after the Corfu affair ended. Elizabeth gives her daughter Melissa a book of Julian's poems which he had inscribed to her. The inscription reads:
"To Elizabeth, always remembering Corfu, what could have been and what we must both forget."

Elizabeth is unable to explain the meaning of the puzzling inscription; she is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. After her mother's death, Melissa decides to go to Corfu to search into Julian Adie's life there, and to piece together the story about what happened between her mother and the writer. (Durrell's many wives, affairs of the heart, and complex but magnetic personality are also Julian's).

Melissa visits the White House in the town of Kalami on Corfu, the place where Julian had stayed when he met her mother in the 1960s. She talks to people who knew and remembered Julian and Elizabeth but comes away with more questions than answers. In the meantime, she meets Alexandros and begins her own love story on Corfu. Eventually, Melissa's search for the true story of her mother takes her to Sommieres in France, where Julian had spent his last years.

I gave this book five stars for the skillful blending of fact and fiction, the sympathetic description of the fictional characters, Elizabeth and Melissa, the excellent prose, thoughtful and descriptive, which evokes the "spirit" of the island and Lawrence Durrell/Julian Adie's complex personality. Through Julian Adie, Durrell's life is analyzed and sifted through via his works and the events in his life, real and fictionalized. We are left with more questions, but Lawrenson give us a list of Durrell's works and a list of biographical books to continue our own research on the real man.

Songs of Blue and Gold was published in 2008 by Arrow Books, Great Britain. For more information, visit the website, http://www.deborah-lawrenson.co.uk/

Book provided by the author, for my objective review.

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Empresses of Seventh Avenue by Nancy MacDonell: Historical Novel

 Fashion in Paris and New York City during WWII   Empresses of Seventh Avenue World War II, New York City, and the Birth of American Fashion...