Nov 30, 2009

The Superior Scribbler Award

What a surprise and an honor to get this lovely award! Thank you Sassy Brit of Alternative-Read. Please visit her fantastic blog! I think I'm a little late in thanking her for this award  but I just saw it and I really appreciate it.

The rules:
1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to host Blogeuedd at this post, which explains the award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I am hard pressed to limit myself to just five bloggers for this award, but here are the nominees:
Beth of Beth's Book Review Blog
Diane of Bibliophile By The Sea
Jonna of SHE in China
tanabata at in spring it is the dawn
Suzanne of Chick With Books

I've linked to host Blogeuedd's post, the Scholastic Scribe, above and added my blog to the Mr. Linky List. I plan to visit all of those scribblers whose names appear there. Please visit the nominees above and join me in sending them congrats on their blogs!

Nov 29, 2009

Book Review: Blood and Groom by Jill Edmondson

Blood and Groom by Jill Edmondson

Publisher's description:
Someone in Toronto has murdered nearly bankrupt art dealer Christine Arvisais's groom-to-be. Former rock band singer and neophyte private investigator Sasha Jackson lands the case because she's all Christine can afford. The high society gal was jilted at the altar and she's the prime suspect, not to mention Sascha's first major client.

Relying on wit, technology, luck, and a nerdy semi-stalker to help her clear the unlikable Christine's name, Sasha digs further into the muck only to discover high-finance shenanigans, an unnerving pattern of slaughtered fiancés, and a growing list of brides that never were who might be killers. Along the way, the wisecracking, sassy sleuth uncovers murky secrets among the city's bluebloods, including drug addiction, art forgery, and possible insider trading.

In order to trap the murderer, Sasha enlists her ex-boyfriend and former band mate to pose as her fiancé, but will her ruse make her ex the next victim on the hit list and lead to her own untimely demise?
My comments:  Good mystery plots, clever title. The mystery splits into two separate stories later in the book and it's done well. However, the cover of the book and some of the language could have been more attractive to readers.
In addition, the main character, Sasha, does some unlikely things to earn a living, such as working in the phone sex business. She also does some very illegal things while sleuthing. Though most mysteries have the main character and P.I. doing a few things outside the law to solve the larger crime, Sasha does more than her fair share. However, at the end of the book, she still comes out being a likeable main character.
Thanks to the author for providing a review copy.(This review was listed on Mystery/Crime Fiction Blog Carnival)

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Nov 27, 2009

Antiques Mysteries

Killer Keepsakes (A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery, Book #4) by Jane K. Cleland

Antiques mysteries are among my favorites. Just found Killer Keepsakes by Jane K. Cleland, who also wrote Antiques To Die for, Deadly Appraisal, and Consigned to Death. The titles sound dreadful, but they are cozy mysteries and not full of violence or gore.
The Ming and I by Tamar Myers

The Ming and I has a similar theme on its front cover and is also an antiques mystery. I remember this book as being very funny. In fact, the entire series is humorous. Myers also writes a more serious cozy, the Magdalena Yoder Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries.

Part of Thankfully Reading Weekend reading.

Nov 26, 2009

Book Review: Pistonhead by Thomas A. Hauck


Charlie Sinclair works in the days on an assembly line. His life is not going well and he persists in wanting to be famous as a rock guitarist.  He plays at night with a band called Pistonhead. This novel follows Charlie for one week and tells the way in which he finds success.

From the publisher's description: "Charlie Sinclair plays guitar in a rock band and works on an assembly line. His best friend is a drug addict. The girl he wants is unattainable. His apartment is filled with mice. People in the audience throw bottles at him. His mother has a creepy new boyfriend. The kids from his old neighborhood hate him. The band's manager is clueless.

This is the story of one week in Charlie Sinclair's life. One week that changed him forever.

Charlie finds success. But in a way that he does not expect. he never gives up. He is a Pistonhead."

Author Thomas A. Hauck was a rock musician and songwriter for 15 years before leaving the entertainment world in the 1990s. He earned an MBA in 2004 and founded the Thomas Hauck Communications Services in 2006. He is now a freelance writer and editor of Renaissance Magazine.

Pistonhead was published February 2009 by, Inc.

Nov 24, 2009

Book Review: Cheating Death by Sanjay Gupta, MD

Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds by Sanjay Gupta

Publisher's description : "Twenty years ago all of them would have been given up for dead, with no realistic hope for survival. But today, thanks to incredible new medical advances, each of these individuals is alive and well...

In this riveting book, Dr. Sanjay Gupta - neurosurgeon, chief medical correspondent for CNN, and bestselling author - chronicles the almost unbelievable science that has made these seemingly miraculous recoveries possible."

My comments: There are eight chapters with many stories of people cheating death through modern medicine. The book is well researched and there are extensive notes at the end for those who want to read more about the cases. Cheating Death makes for easy reading. Even though it's not very technical, even people who know about the medical field would be interested in the narratives.

One particularly good story was the case "where a patient seems to have accurate memories from a time when he or she was measurably, clinically dead. There are thousands of stories like this, but it's extremely rare to find one that comes with medical documentation." (ch. 4) The incident Dr. Gupta recounts is of the experience of Pam Reynolds in 1991 during a brain operation when she had no brain activity for a brief time. Pam recalls feeling her late grandmother calling her to enter a tunnel with a light beckoning at the end, but other deceased relatives warned her to turn back. A deceased uncle led Pam back to the place where she saw herself, in a kind of out-of-body experience, lying on the operating table . Pam also had flashbacks to the past.

According to Dr. Gupta, "(Pam) is easily the most-cited example of a person having memories at a time when they were clinically dead."  I found some of the discussions well worth reading, topics such as "What is death?"

Thanks to Hachette for a review copy of this book.
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Nov 23, 2009

Book Review: Morning Sunshine! by Robin Meade

Morning Sunshine!: How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too
Morning Sunshine!: How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too by Robin Meade

Cheery advice, humorous in parts, and easy and fun to read. I expected this book to be a memoir by HLN morning anchor Robin Meade, but found it's both self-help in the confidence category and a collection of stories from her working life.

"A Note From The Author" at the end of the book:
"If you were indeed looking for insight on how to walk into the house of confidence, I hope this book has encouraged you to at least crack the door! through frank anecdotes from my life, I've tried to lay bare some of the issues I've had to work with in my own view of self.

Today, at HLN, I've done a complete 180 from my confidence-challenged days. I'm comfortable in nearly every situation on air. I wear whatever clothes I choose. Im' not afraid to be the dissenting voice in discussions with coworkers. When appropriate, I don't mind voicing my opinion with you, the viewer. In other words, I've found my confidence."

Written in a light, conversational style, the book has some good insights into what can be learned from Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, though she draws primarily from her experiences in the media world to write this book. I liked her notes at the end of each chapter - "What I've Learned" and "Confidence Booster" and like that you can open the book at pretty much any page and start to read.

One of "Robin's Ramblings" is "Shoot for the moon. If you miss it, you land among the stars."

Thanks to Hachette for a review copy of this book.
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Nov 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Reading

For those who are spending a quiet Thanksgiving weekend catching up on books,Thankfully Reading Weekend might be just up your alley. It runs from Friday, November 27 through Sunday, November 29.
"There are no rules to the weekend and no prizes; we're simply hoping to devote a good amount of time to reading, and perhaps meeting some of our reading challenges and goals for 2009. We thought it'd be fun if we cheered each other on a bit. If you think you can join in, grab the button and sign on to Mr. Linky at Thankfully Reading Weekend, and see more details about this reading weekend. If you don't have a blog, use the comments!
The idea was started by Jen of Jenn's Bookshelves, Jen of Devourer of Books, and Beth of Beth Fish Reads. Join in!

Here's what I'm reading right now: Killer Keepsakes

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Snow Angels by James Thompson, a review

Snow Angels by James Thompson, an Inspector Kari Vaara thriller #1, set in Finland.

Snow Angels (Inspector Kari Vaara, #1)

Snow Angels

My rating:
4 of 5 stars

Very, very noir.

Definition of noir from the Free Dictionary online:
 1. Of or relating to the film noir genre.
 2. Of or relating to a genre of crime literature featuring tough, cynical characters and bleak settings.
3. Suggestive of danger or violence.

I gave it 4 stars for plot and characterization, plus setting. Read this thriller if you can keep in mind that it's fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of this novel.
View all my reviews >>

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Sunday Salon: Back to the Library/New Challenge

This past week I've borrowed about seven books from the library, my first big library haul in a long while.

I finished reading Madam, Will You Talk by an old favorite, Mary Stewart. Most memorable moments in the book: high speed car chases through Southern France - from Avignon to Nimes to Marseilles!

Started two books to read for the Japanese Literature Challenge before it ends in January:
Beauty and Sadness, a classic by Nobel Prize winner Kawabata, and also Murakami's third novel, A Wild Sheep Chase.

Borrowed three of the funny mystery novels I included in my post on Most Humorous Mysteries. Started Dim Sum Dead then found I had read it years ago. Set in Santa Monica, a guy finds an antique silver sword, only to have it stolen at the Farmers Market downtown. There's more to this than just the theft!

Since I'm always reading mysteries, suspense, and thrillers anyway, I just joined a reading challenge that fits the bill- Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010.

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Nov 20, 2009

U Is For Undertow by Sue Grafton, review

U is for Undertow
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

A good plot and an engaging detective in the person of Kinsey Millhone means another winner for mystery writer Sue Grafton in her 2009 thriller, U is for Undertow.

Grafton's mystery series features the personable PI and follows her life; each new book in the series advances the story of Kinsey, her deceased parents, and the ongoing relationship with her mother's wealthy family who had disowned Kinsey and her parents many years ago.

In this latest book, P.I. Kinsey Millhone is 38. She is asked to investigate a murder that took place in the 1960s, when a four year old girl was kidnapped and never returned, though ransom was paid.

Kinsey takes the case after she is approached by 27 year old Michael Sutton, who had a sudden flash back to 1967 when he saw two men in the woods behind a house, burying a bundle wrapped in a blanket. Michael is sure the bundle was the body of the kidnapped girl and wants Kinsey to help him locate the house and the burial place behind it.

However, Michael's estranged family thinks he is making up stories and fantasizing. Kinsey doesn't know what to think, but promises to take the case for one day. When Michael swears he has recently seen one of the men from the 1960s burial, Kinsey stays on the case.

Having to deal with her own family crisis as well, Kinsey is pulled in multiple directions. Her mother's family and her aged grandmother now want Kinsey back in their lives after years of estrangement. They have invited her to a family gathering, but she is reluctant to attend because of past slights.

I haven't read all the books in the series, but Sue Grafton readers have known Kinsey and have been following her story since the letter A, when she was much younger and just starting out as a private detective in A Is For Alibi. I gave the book four out of five stars.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

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Nov 19, 2009

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, review

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Totally engrossing. Transported by what I've read so far though all that has happened is a man looking for a cat and being approached by strange women. Read the first three chapters sitting in the bookstore. Must go back and buy the book.

I know that the novel's about the breakup of a marriage and about what happened in WWII, and am looking forward to reading more! Murakami knows how to get you involved in his character's thoughts. Masterful prose, even in translation.

Nov 18, 2009

Best Mystery and Humor books

Need a good laugh combined with a good mystery read? Try one of the books below.

Left Coast Crime will have its 20th Mystery Convention March 11-14 in Los Angeles.

One of its awards is THE LEFTY - for the most humorous mystery published in a particular year. Lefty winners:

2009: Greasing the Pinata by Tim Maleeny
2008: Murder With Reservations by Elaine Viets
2007: Go to Helena Handbasket by Donna Moore
2006: Cast Adrift by Peter Guttridge

2005: We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews and Blue Blood by Susan McBride
2004: Mumbo Gumbo by Jerrilyn Farmer
2003: The Hearse Case Scenario by Tim Cockey and Pipsqueak by Brian M. Wiprud
2002: Dim Sum Dead by Jerrilyn Farmer and Fender Benders by Bill Fitzhugh
2000: Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews
1999: Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
1998: Three To Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
1996: The Fat Innkeeper by Alan Russell

I read the 2000 winner, Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews, some years back, and it is truly hilarious. I recommend it if you need a good laugh while you wonder who dunnit.

Nov 17, 2009

Foreigner by Nahid Rachlin: review

I ached with memories of my mother as I walked along the narrow, dusty street to the wider one. She sits under a tree in the late afternoon, with a glow of twilight all around. (ch. 5, Foreigner by Nahid Rachlin)
Well written, interesting, and easy to read, Foreigner  by Nahid Rachlin (1999) tells us about the traditional society of Iran and how a young woman begins to adjust after many years living abroad and apart from her biological mother.

From the publisher's description:
In this novel about the experiences of estrangement, Feri, a woman in her thirties, returns for a visit to the house of her father in Iran. Almost immediately, she is stunned by her sense of alienation from her background....

In the ancient town where her mother lives, time is even more frozen. But gradually, what had appeared purposeless now seems comforting. Mother and daughter reach out to one another and shape the fragments of past years.

Nov 13, 2009

Book Review: The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live

Want to plan a trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA in January? How about the Iditarod dog sled races in Alaska next March? And what about the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada next year?
The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live: An Insider’s Guide to Creating the Sports Experience of a Lifetime
It wouldn't be that hard to plan, not if you had Robert Tuchman's guide that lists almost everything you would want or need to know - when, where, the  history of each sports event,  records, things to know before you go, and, of course, how to get tickets, find travel packages, dining, airports, and relevant websites.

The 100 sports events are organized by order of importance, popularity? I'm not sure; it's a guess. Here are the first 4 listed.
1. Masters
2.  World Cup
3. Super Bowl
4. Summer Olympics (1012 in London)    
 If you wanted to go to Europe for Wimbledon, the Grand Prix, the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, or even events in Dubai and Hong Kong, all the helpful information is there.

Tuchman also gives you his top 10 cities for hosting a major sporting event. The top 3:
1. Miami, Fla. for the weather, South Beach and "topnotch facilities"
2. Surprise! Indianapolis, Ind.
3. San Antonio, Tx.

A valuable resource for sports fans, for those who can afford the time and expense to travel and buy tickets,
and even for those who just want to read about sports events you really should see live. I'm not a big sports fan but I give the guide four stars!

The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live: An Insider’s Guide to Creating the Sports Experience of a Lifetime by Robert Tuchman

Thanks Tracee and  BenBella Books for a review copy.

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Nov 11, 2009

Book Review: Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me by Lisa Fineberg Cook

Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me
I laughed out loud several times while reading this memoir, in the funny parts
 at the beginning, when Lisa finds herself puzzled and unable to understand
the language and her surroundings in her temporary new home, Japan.

A newly married and relatively spoilt 30 year old woman, a J.A.P. (Jewish-American Princess), the author negotiates her way around her
 temporary home in Nagoya, Japan, finding out she has to do housework
 she had never had to do back in L.A. - laundry with a vengeful,
outmoded washing machine, cooking at home, taking public transportation,
 going shopping without knowing the language, and finding friends
among adults and even among schoolgirls who scream with excitement every time they see her - the Meg Ryan look-alike and possible celebrity.

Lisa makes it amusing, and later finds that adjusting to living in a foreign country changes her a bit and even strengthens her relationship with her husband Peter. Her advice to anyone who has a chance to live abroad for a while - do it!

A fun read. I finished in two sittings :  Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me by Lisa Fineberg Cook

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for a review copy of this book.

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Nov 10, 2009

Review: Savage Days Haunted Nights by Bennett Kremen

From the publisher's description:
"Savage Days Haunted Nights portrays Dorian, a man trapped in a harrowing struggle between good and evil, striving now perilously day after day to conquer this. It's an arresting tale, suspenseful and driven by forceful action from the first page to the last. Criminals, professors, socialites... and ordinary people animate every chapter of this saga, revealing some of the darkest secrets of the back streets of Chicago and New York and, in one chapter, a breathtaking adventure on a bleak, forbidding tundra in the wilds of Alaska. Revealed here also are the very deepest recesses of human character and the agonies of love amidst the moral challenges of our age." 
This unusual novel by Bennett Kremen has been compared to Crime and Punishment as it deals with a crime and the moral issues that one man struggles with. The author has used his experiences as a world traveler in writing this novel. Now living in New York City, the author has contributed articles to the New York Time Book Review and Financial Pages, to The Nation, to The Village Voice and to other publications.

His novel is printed by Arnone Press.
Review copy provided by Ariel Publicity

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Nov 9, 2009

Movie Meme: The Story of the Weeping Camel

Monday Movie Meme: this week's movie topic is all about Life Changers....what movies had such an impact that they caused a change in our behavior, beliefs, or exposed us to a new passion? Share on your blog movies that caused a major impact in your life. Then link back to the hosts at  The Bumbles Blog,

Here's my "life-changing" movie, an award-winning documentary:

"The Story of the Weeping Camel is an enchanting film that follows the adventures of a family of herders in Mongolia's Gobi region who face a crisis when the mother camel unexpectedly rejects her newborn calf after a particularly difficult birth. Uniquely composed of equal parts reality, drama, and magic, this film is a window into a different way of life and the universal terrain of the heart."
(From The Story of the Weeping Camel by National Geographic.)

Amazing how music was used to "soothe the savage beast" - how someone played music to calm and entice the young camel into finally accepting and allowing her calf to feed. Beautiful cinematography and story/documentary.

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Review: Public Image by Thomas A. Hauck

"When I woke up this morning I had a good idea for a story. It did not come to me in a dream as they sometimes do, but popped into my head as I was squinting into a shaft of sunlight piercing the blind that did not quite cover the window..." (p. 32, "Uncle Hiram")

I liked this  short story about how Uncle Hiram replaced the story the writer had in mind and helped create a new story with his usual question,

"What'cha writing about?"

The writer lied to deflect Uncle Hiram's usual criticisms and said,

" A dog's head and a cat's head on the same body." (p. 34)

But Uncle Hiram liked the idea and asked a few more pointed questions to show his interest. The lie then truly became a good idea - the cat and the dog in an argument, about the auto industry for one.

In the end, the author says, "I knew that Uncle Hiram was going to love this story." (p. 35)

These quotes are from "Uncle Hiram," one of 24 short stories and 27 poems in Thomas A. Hauck's new book, PUBLIC IMAGE: stories and poems, published 2009 by Avanti Literary, in association with Booklocker, Inc.

Publisher's description:

"Revealing the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, (the stories and poems)...examine the human experience.

Thomas Hauck is also author of Pistonhead, a contemporaty novel about how rock guitar player Charlie Sinclair finds success." More information at

Thanks to the author for review copies.

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Nov 8, 2009

Sunday Salon: Fall Is Here For Sure

All the leaves are off the trees, except for a good amount on a red maple in the back. Finally planted the third red barberry bush I bought about a month ago. Hope they keep that color even in summer.

Re blogging, I haven't been doing a lot of memes lately, except for a Friday Finds this past week with Sue Grafton's new book, U is for Undertow. Other memes I occasionally join are Teaser Tuesdays, A-Z Wednesday, and Booking for Thursday.

I do a Library Loot every now and then, but the only library books I have out right now are the first novel by Nahid Raschid, Foreigner, about an Iranian student's visit home after many years in the U.S., and Breathing Water, which I've finished reading.

What memes have you done this past week?

Nov 7, 2009

Book Review: 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

Nine Dragons (Harry Bosch, #14) Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly

This is a good police procedural through the first two-thirds of the book, with detective Harry Bosch
investigating the shooting of a grocery store owner in a run-down part of Los Angeles, suspecting
Asian triad connections, and heading off to Hong Kong where the triads have kidnapped
his daughter while telling Bosch to back off his investigations.

Bosch's ex-wife and his daughter live in Hong Kong, and because of his dangerous occupation, his wife says he may never again be allowed to see his daughter, if she is recovered and rescued. How this family situation is resolved is the part where the plot starts to become unrealistic and improbable.


Bosch's ex-wife is shot and killed in an attempted robbery in Hong Kong, and this dilemma of his continuing to see his daughter is suddenly resolved - he is the only surviving parent. Another  improbable section of the plot -
the mystery surrounding the shooting death of the grocery store owner in LA, where the book began.

What is highly unlikely and unconvincing is that a Chinese American son and daughter  would plot to
kill their father just because the father refused to close an old grocery store in LA so that they could open
 a 3rd one in a more upscale neighborhood. Motive: the son" got tired of the refusal" and so
 had his father shot with three well placed bullets to the chest. In a culture where filial respect has been taught  for centuries, this was a pretty flimsy motive for such a heinous crime. I had to shake my head at this one.

I would have given 9 Dragons a four out of five stars after reading the first 2/3rd of the novel, but the last third of the book pulled it down to a 2, IMO.

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Nov 6, 2009

Book Review: Musical Chairs by Jen Knox

I admire the frank way Jennifer Knox wrote this autobiography and her willingness to share the detailed story of her life - her parent's divorce, her running away from home, her subsequent jobs as a strip dancer among others, her treatments for panic disorder and alcoholism, and her decision to attend college and to write. I was impressed by her struggles, including finding out more about the health history of her great-grandmother Gloria, overcoming her own problems, and eventually coming into her own as a writer.

The book is written in a straight-forward chronological narrative, the story mainly speaking for itself but with Jen's voice briefly commenting on her experiences throughout. I would have liked to read more about her internal journey through these experiences and her reactions now as a writer, looking back on her life. Nevertheless, this is an eye-opening book about one young woman's coping with adverse family health and circumstances.

Jennifer Knox is a fiction editor at Our Stories Literary Journal, a freelance writer, editor, and writing tutor.   (Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book).

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Friday Finds: U Is For Undertow by Sue Grafton, mystery

Friday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

My Friday Find is U Is for Undertow, a brand new book by Sue Grafton, Putnam Books, in the alphabet mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Kinsey Millhone.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter I:

Chapter I:

My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a private detective, female, age thirty-seven, with my thirty-eighth birthday coming up in a month. Having been married and divorced twice, I’m now happily single and expect to remain so for life. I have no children thus far and I don’t anticipate bearing any. Not only are my eggs getting old, but my biological clock wound down a long time ago. I suppose there’s always room for one of life’s little surprises, but that’s not the way to bet.

I work solo out of a rented bungalow in Santa Teresa, California, a town of roughly 85,000 souls who generate sufficient crime to occupy the Santa Teresa Police Department, the County Sheriff’s Department,
the California Highway Patrol, and the twenty-five or so local private investigators like me. Movies and television shows would have you believe a PI’s job is dangerous, but nothing could be farther from the truth . . .
except, of course, on the rare occasions when someone tries to kill me. Then I’m ever so happy my health insurance premiums are paid up.
Threat of death aside, the job is largely research, requiring intuition, tenacity, and ingenuity. Most of my clients reach me by referral and their business ranges from background checks to process serving,
with countless other matters in between. My office is off the beaten path and I seldom have a client appear unannounced, so when I heard a tapping at the door to my outer office, I got up and peered around the corner to see who it was.

Through the glass I saw a young man pointing at the knob. I’d apparently
turned the dead bolt to the locked position when I’d come back from lunch. I let him in, saying, “Sorry about that. I must have locked up after myself without being aware of it.”

“You’re Ms. Millhone?”


“Michael Sutton,” he said, extending his hand. “Do you have time
to talk?”


Publication date is December 1. Excerpt courtesy of Putnam's Sons.

Nov 5, 2009

Book Review: The Art of Meaningful Living by Christopher F. Brown

The Art of Meaningful Living by Christopher F. Brown

I find something new to think about each time I open this book...

"Happiness is not a destination; it is an experience you will have on the way there." (p. 21)

"You experience the learning curve each time you try something new. It's a process, like change, of varied duration." (p. 48)

"Significant discrepancy between what is meaningful to you and how you spend your time is a warning sign of quiet desperation."(p. 67)
The self-help book of 113 pages is divided into four sections: Wisdom, Action, Relisience, and The Art of Meaningful Lives, with advice and psychological insight into making lives happier and more fulfilled.

From the publisher's description:
Too often our meaningful lives and the things we are passionate about get buried under disappointments and lost dreams. Christopher F. Brown, LCSW, MBA, offers a powerful book combining psychological concepts with beautiful provocative artwork by John Palmer...."

Brown says, "With The Art of Meaningful Living, I provide tools that will help readers learn to manage their minds, cope with the world around them, define what is valuable to them and hopefully move toward the lives they truly want. Remember that change is a journey, not a single event.”

Wish I could also show the colorful artwork that is on every page of this beautiful coffeetable book.

Review copy provided by publicists Phenix & Phenix.

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Nov 4, 2009

Book Review: Breathing Water: A Bangkok Thriller

Breathing Water: A Bangkok Thriller Breathing Water: A Bangkok Thriller by Timothy Hallinan

"Behind every great fortune is a great crime..." is the premise for Timothy Hallinan's latest thriller, Breathing Water.

The book is set in the Bangkok of today and has all the complications of its real life - a shaky political situation, great poverty and great wealth, street children and those who prey on them, corruption, and the pull of love and death. This all makes for a great setting for a thriller, plus an engaging plot that pulls all the complexities of the city together.

From the publisher's description:

For American ex-pat writer Poke Rafferty, a late night poker game delivers an unexpected prize: an "opportunity to write the biography of Khun Pan, a flamboyant, vulgar, self-made billionaire with a criminal past and far-reaching political ambitions. The win seems like a stroke of luck, but as with so many things in vibrant, seductive, contradictory Bangkok - a city of innocence and evil, power and poverty - the allure of appearances masks something much darker.

Within a few hours of folding his cards, Rafferty, his wife, Rose, beloved adopted daughter, Miaow, and best friend, Arthit, an honest Bangkok cop, have become pawns in a political struggle among some of Thailand's richest, most powerful, and most ruthless people.

A great book for mystery/thriller readers.

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Nov 2, 2009

Book Review: Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

Title: Friends Like These: My Worldwide Quest to Find My Best Childhood Friends, Knock on Their Doors, and Ask Them to Come Out and Play by Danny Wallace
Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Those who watch a lot of the BBC will probably like BBC documentary host and author of Yes Man, Danny Wallace, who describes his summer of searching for 12 school friends listed in the little black address book he had as a kid.

The rest of us who don't know much about him may find the quest less exciting, though Wallace travels from London to Berlin to Australia, to California, and finally to Tokyo to find his school friends. Most of the pals, however, he finds in the good old U.K.

This is nonfiction and his friends are regular, normal guys, not as funny as Jim Carrey in Yes Man.

Hachette Books provided a review copy of this book.

Nov 1, 2009

Sunday Salon, Nov. 1

Avocado milk shake and beef noodle soup in Toronto, Canada just before Oct. 31 ended. Spent the rest of the night planning to buy four tickets for the Canadian $50million lottery and planning how to split and spend our winnings, among seven of us. This conversation was fueled by glasses of Bailey's Irish Cream and sweet wine.

Before heading for Toronto on All Hallow's Eve, I had finished three book reviews for the week:

Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin
A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football by Mark Oristano
Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin, a new sequel to the Nanny Diaries which will be out Dec. 15.
And also an interview with mystery writer, Susan Arnout Smith, who discussed why she writes mysteries/thrillers such as her latest, Out At Night.

Books have come in from Hachette and other sources, so my TBR pile has been mounting again after I thought I had really whittled it down some.

Am now reading a library book, Breathing Water, a thriller set in Bangkok, Thailand, which is quite good and will be keeping my attention on the long ride back to the States from Canada.

Now, off for dim sum breakfast at a Chinese restaurant. I love to start a new week this way.

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