Oct 31, 2009

Halloween Reads

Halloween Murder Halloween Murder by Shelley Freydont



A really good mystery book for Halloween!

Here are some other Halloween mysteries to ponder:
A Catered Halloween (Mystery with Recipes) by Isis Crawford
Who Stole Halloween? by Martha Freeman
Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert
Death on All Hallowe'en by Leo Bruce
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas
Trick or Treat by Leslie Glaister
Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McEvett
Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier
Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd
The Scarecrow Murders by Mary Welk
All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

Oct 28, 2009

Book Review: Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin

Nanny Returns: A Novel Nanny Returns: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin


If you read the Nanny Diaries and liked it, Nanny's back in Nanny Returns, to be released Dec. 15, 2009! My comment - excellent plot, very witty nanny.

I learned East Coast talk and New-Yorkese and marveled at the first names chosen by the author for the wealthy - Stilton, Grayer, Citrine! Do the names have hidden meanings?

Nan, who babysat for the rich and famous when she was a college student, is called back into service by a teenager whom she nannied 12 years earlier. Grayer wants help with his younger brother Stilton as his parents can't be relied on, for one reason or another.

On top of that Nan lands a job as a consultant at a high priced private school that has spoilt children who post outrageous things on the web for all to see.

Super Nan to the rescue, it seems, but Nan's husband Ryan wants to start a family, and right away, despite her job and commitments. Nan doesn't know if she wants children at all. Maybe she's had enough?

I enjoyed the plot, the wicked portrayal of the spoilt young and the wayward adults in wealthy Manhattan. I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. Haven't read the Nanny Diaries, but I'm now curious!

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of this book. Title to be released by Atria on Dec. 15, 2009.

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Oct 27, 2009

Book Review: A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football

A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America's Favorite Game
Don't watch the ball while the center is snapping it back to the quarterback; watch the linemen. Whether they stand up or hunch over is crucial to predict how the play will be made.

That's one of the things I learned from A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football. I also have a chart of the line up in the offense and defense positions and information on what each player does - the WR, LT, LG, C, RG, TE, QB, and RB. And don't worry - the book explains what all those initials mean.

Offense, defense, the referees and the rules, what the numbers on the football jerseys mean re their position on the team - the 146 page book covers it all. However, though Mark Oristano did a good job of "Decoding America's Favorite Game," he could not get away completely from using terms/words to explain the same terms/words, which only football fans know. For instance, in the glossary, description of a "punt" is "When it's fourth down and you're too far away to kick a field goal, you punt the ball back to the other guys." Okay, but what is a punt? Sounds silly, but hey, I'm no sports fan.

I did get the basics of the game from the book, though true football fans may enjoy it best. After all, I saw football as a game with guys moving down the football field, running and piling up on top of each other. Now, though, I know better.

A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America's Favorite Game by Mark Oristano

Thanks to Phenix & Phenix for a review copy of this book.

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Oct 25, 2009

Book Review: Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin

Persian Girls: A Memoir Persian Girls: A Memoir by Nahid Rachlin


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This memoir tells the poignant story of two Iranian sisters, Maryam and Mohtaram, of their daughter, the author Nahid Rachlin, and of Nahid's sisters, Pari and Manijeh, all Persian girls living in Iran in the time of the Shah. It is also a moving story of the sisters' love and loyalty in the face of family betrayal and loss, and the precarious lives of women living under strict tradition in a male dominated society.

I read this excellent memoir in two sittings. The writing is fluid and compelling and easily takes you into the author's life in Iran and into the lives of her two families - her adoptive mother Maryam and her biological mother, Mohtaram, two sisters.

It is also about Nahid's personal struggle with her life with her biological parents after she was removed from her adoptive mother's care in Tehran at age nine and returned to her parents' home. Nahid had been raised by her childless aunt Maryam since she was six months old and the shock of suddenly been taken away from Maryam by her father seemed to her like a cruel abduction. How she fights to resolve this and to lead her own independent life is the major subject of this book.

This moving story reveals the plight of women without a voice of their own in family or in public life, as well as the difficulty of living in Iran during the time, for both men and women. I recommend the memoir for those interested in women, women's rights, Iranian history, and the growth and development of a writer.

Nahid Rachlin is author of the novels Jumping over Fire, Foreigner, Married to a Stranger, The Heart's Desire, and a collection of short stories. She is an associate fellow at Yale and also teaches at the New School and the Unterberg Poetry Center in New York.

Thanks to the the Penguin Group for a review copy of this book.


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Oct 23, 2009

Susan Arnout Smith: author Q and A

Susan Arnout Smith's latest thriller is: Out At Night

1.Susan, what made you decide to write mysteries?

Susan: I love puzzles. Mysteries and thrillers exist
in some ways in very moral universes. We want the good guys to win. We want the evil ones to be punished. In the real world, we live with moral ambiguities.
And while the best thrillers and mysteries are built in that gray netherworld
of moral complexity, the bottom truth is that we want there to be a hope
at the end of the journey for good to win. Whatever good means.

This is your third Grace Descanso novel.
Susan: Actually, Out at Night is the second Grace Descanso thriller. (The Timer Game was the first, Minotaur 2008).
2. Genetically modified foods in a controversial topic. How much of what is written in Out at Night is fact and how much is fiction re: what is being done in modified foods?

Susan: Great question, Harvee.

Short answer: It's real. Every time a writer creates a thriller, it's a new world that's being created. That means that if it feels real, it's real.

In this case, I wanted to get the facts right. Then I could tweak them
to make things scary. I love to work with experts,
and probably the most unsettling thing about the 'what if' I created is the expert's belief that the scenario I'd created (using facts as a jumping off point), could absolutely come true.

So. Here are some of the facts:

Hunger is a terrible thing and in the lab, scientists have created seeds that are drought resistant, weed resistant and even some, (like Golden Rice, genetically modified to carry Vitamin A), will significantly improve the lives of kids in Third World countries and prevent blindness.

And it's also true that scientists are combining genes from different organisms (translation: taking genes from humans and adding them to plants), to create crops that will produce vaccines for AIDS and Hep B, or create insulin or help clot blood or inhibit diarrhea.

But what if you don't want to eat a plant that produces a human gene to help clot blood? And what if this plant, once grown in a certain area, is still contaminating the soil and getting into the non-GM plants
in a new harvest?


In 2005, the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs released a study that GM crops contaminate the countryside for up to fifteen years
after being harvested.

Another worry in America has been that about two-thirds of all processed foods sold in American grocery stores are made with genetically modified crops. Two-thirds. That's an amazing statistic.

We have packaging that identifies calories and fat grams, but no labeling
in stores of GM foods. (This labeling is mandatory in the UK). In August,
it was reported in the New York Times that there's a push for labeling to identify processed foods made with GM crops, so this might be changing.

Why is the issue of GM crops important?

Well, some scientists say it could be affecting our health. Big time.

In 2008, the Austrian government released the results of a five month study that confirmed that GM corn directly affected the reproductive health in mice. Now there's a push in Austria
to immediately ban all GM crops and goods to protect the fertility of women around the world.

The Russians completed a similar study at the Russian Academy, with similar results. Over half the offspring of lab rats fed GM crops died within the first three weeks of life. And all the GM offspring
in the preliminary results were sterile.

So this is what interested me about GM crops. Here we have the chance to do good things: create seeds that will grow with little rain. Prevent weeds from choking plants. And create crops that carry antidotes
and vaccines and blood clotting mechanisms.

And. . .those very modifications could be costing us our health.

I love the light;/dark, good/bad and yes, moral ambiguity of this subject.


3. Do you still work for TV and radio, or are you a fulltime writer?

Susan: I'm a fulltime writer. I have two screenplays
that are being shopped in Hollywood, I'm working on the third Grace Descanso thriller and have been commissioned to write a play for a theater in New York.



4. What's the best thing about writing mysteries/thrillers?
Susan: Researching new areas. Diving into a subject that has two diametrically opposed moral sides and exploring both sides equally. And the puzzle. Pushing myself to make the ending seem surprising and at the same time, inevitable. Playing fair with my readers by putting in clues and yet hiding them well enough to keep readers turning pages long past the time they promised to turn out the light.

5. What's the worst thing, if any?
Susan: I love every part of this work.

6. The setting for Out at Night is in San Diego and Palm Springs, CA. You are originally from Alaska. Have you used Alaska as a setting for either of your previous books?

Susan: My first novel is an historical novel called The Frozen Lady and takes place in Alaska. It starts around the turn of the century (late 1800's) and ends in the 1970's, and weaves together the lives of a Tarimuit Eskimo family (usually called Inuit), living near what is now Barrow, and a white family which settled in Alaska during the Gold Rush.
7. Do you have any other books in the works?
Susan: Yes, I'm well into the third Grace Descanso thriller.
This one's particularly fun. Her father washed overboard when she was eleven, and she suddenly believes she's seen him, so it's the hunt for her dad.


8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Susan: I have webisodes on my website: www.thetimergame.com (twenty-two mini-dramas
that end in a cliff-hangar that's paid off in The Timer Game), and a second set of webisodes on www.susanarnoutsmith.com (mini-dramas dovetail with Out at Night).


Thanks, Susan.

And thank you, Harvee. Wonderful questions!
(Click here to see my review of Out At Night.)

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Oct 22, 2009

Book Review: Social Lives by Wendy Walker

Social Lives Publisher's description:
.
Wilshire, Connecticut is the gilded enclave of Manhattan's prosperous elite, where the mansions are tastefully designed, the lawns are expertly manicured, and the streets are as hushed as the complexities in the residents' lives. While Welsher's husbands battle each other in the financial world, their wives manage their estates and raise the next elite generation. Some women are envied, some respected, and others simply tolerated. But regardless of where they stand, each woman is .... bound by the unyielding social structure that surrounds her.

My comments: Neither the plot nor the characters held my attention past the first 50 pages. I found the characters one-dimensional and the writing, as one critic put it, somewhat "pedestrian." It had a lot of potential to be a good novel.

Review book provided by St. Martin's Press.

Oct 21, 2009

A-Z Wednesday: Killer Cruise

Welcome to A-Z Wednesday!! To join, go to your stack of books and find one whose title starts with the letter of the week.

Post:
1~ a photo of the book
2~ title and synopsis
3~ link (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)
4~ Visit host Reading at the Beach to see the details and post your link.

THIS WEEK'S LETTER IS: "K"

Killer Cruise by Laura Levine


About the book:
Our heroine Jaine Austen has some setbacks on a cruise she was expecting to be a lot of fun. She was hired by the cruise line to give writing lessons to passengers, but only five show up, and she has an unintended stowaway, her cat Prozac, who sneaked on board at the last minute.

Besides hiding the cat, Jaine finds time to solve a murder on board while also indulging in her passion for midnight snacks and chocolate.

In Killer Cruise, one murder is enough! But there are many possible culprits on board the cruise ship Festival, ranging from a jilted ex-fiancee, an ice sculptor, and the relatives and friends of a silver haired lady being swept off her feet by love at first dance.

Readers who like comedy, romance, and mystery will like this one.


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Oct 20, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Public Image, Stories and Poems by Thomas A. Hauck


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



"A bolt from the blue
charged air ignites seawater foam
rocks wait until the moon is full
while gulls cry for winter"

(from "Thunderstruck," p. 28)

Thomas A. Hauck, author of PISTONHEAD, a novel, has published a collection of his 24 short stories and 27 poems in this new book, Public Image, published by Avanti Literary, 2009.

Thanks to the author for a review copy of his book.
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Oct 19, 2009

Review: Tao Te Ching

Countless words
count less
than the silent balance
between yin and yang

For this reading challenge, I went to the translation by Ralph Alan Dale, Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary illustrated with photographs by John Cleare, published 2002, Barnes and Noble.

I thought book bloggers would appreciate the above lines from verse 5. From the Commentaries, page 172,

"Ying and yang, like heaven and earth, is a metaphor for all that exists.... Thus - Countless words (our exhortations) count less than the silent (existential) balance between yin and yang."

Amazon product description:

The Tao Te Ching is a great treasure house of wisdom. Written by Lao Tzu as early as the sixth century B.C. and composed of only 5,000 characters, it has become one of the classic works of spiritual enlightenment.

This is a wonderful book, though not the most recent edition, nicely illustrated and the translation is easier to understand than I thought it would be. The commentaries are also helpful to divine the meaning.

Here is another quote:

The wise
teach without telling,
allow without commanding,
have without possessing,
care without claiming.

(from Verse 2, Relativity)

My first read for the China Challenge.
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Oct 18, 2009

Sunday Salon: Brrr, Chilly but Colorful Week




Am enjoying A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football, by former broadcaster Mark Oristano. He has written a sort of Dummy's Guide to the Game of Football, but with much more humor and personality. It's football season after all, and a good book to explain it all to unsavvy football fans like myself.

Had to bundle up all week to go outdoors. The furnace has already kicked in several times - it's 40s in the days and 30s at night. Cut all the roses that were open in the garden so they wouldn't freeze at night, and now there is a cheery bunch of pink and yellow on the table. No other flowers except some pink mums have made it this far into fall.

As for books, reviewed

Even Money by Dick and Felix Francis and

Out At Night by Susan Arnout Smith, both pretty good mysteries.

Also saw my two-year-old granddaughter on web cam this morning! It's 7:30 a.m. here in the Midwest but past her bedtime where she is, 8:30 p.m. on the other side of the globe! She is cute, if I say so myself, (smile) finally running and talking about her favorite cartoon character.

We went driving into Michigan yesterday to see the last of the yellow, orange, purple and red leaves and visited Hidden Lake Gardens, a botanical garden and park. Drove through yellow leafy woods and visited the temperate, arid, and tropical zone greenhouses in the conservatory. It's supposed to warm up sometime soon! Have a great week everyone!

Oct 16, 2009

Book Review: Out at Night by Susan Arnout Smith



Out At Night, a mystery by Susan Arnout Smith

Grace Descanso is having a hard time, even while she's on vacation in the Bahamas with her five-year-old daughter Katie. Her estranged husband is along, after many years' absence. Her feelings about him are ambivalent.

To top it off, she gets a call from an uncle who works for the FBI, summoning her to Palm Springs, California, where there has been a murder. He asks her to help investigate.

Background: Grace is a former medical doctor whose regular job is in the police forensics lab in San Diego. Her uncle wants her expertise to study the crime scene and the body in Palm Springs. This is no ordinary case, however. The victim, Thaddeus Bartolomew, is a professor of biology who has been actively protesting genetically modified foods and the upcoming world agricultural conference to be held in Palm Springs.

The professor was killed by a bolt from a crossbow, in a field of genetically modified soybean plants. His last action was to send a text message on his cell phone - just a name, her name - "contact Grace Descanso."

Comments: Almost all the people we meet in the first chapters of the book are entangled in this very elaborate and original plot. There are radical protesters against genetically modified foods, childless women who have had multiple miscarriages, scientists who are actively modifying foods for use in developing countries, and even farmers of organic foods.

Grace reached for a chip and ate it. Fabulous chips. Salty, slightly greasy, cracking and melting, the sweet taste of corn in her mouth. She chewed.

"I don't know how much you know about babies, and if you've lost a bunch, maybe not too much."
There are hints that the protesters will disrupt the international agricultural conference in a big way, but nobody knows how far they will go.

I enjoyed the unusual plot and setting, the surprising and multiple roles played by some of the characters, the hunt for a killer, and the suspense that increases to the very end. Susan Arnout Smith's vivid descriptions of setting and place give you a clear picture image of the action.

The dialogue is so realistic that in a few cases when Grace is investigating and probing, you can feel her impatience to have the conversation move to the main point.

The only sticking point for me was having several chapters end with a surprise that is not explained or followed up immediately in the next chapter. I had to wait till further on to find out, and back track to what happened.

Overall, I recommended the book highly for mystery and suspense fans, especially those interested in the controversy over organic foods, food production, and genetically modified foods. There is a good dose of romantic suspense in this novel too that readers of romance will like.

See my Interview with author Susan Arnout Smith

Published by Minotaur Books, New York, 2009.
Thanks to Authors on the Web for the review copy of this book.


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Oct 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: I Miss My Books

This week's Booking Through Thursday questions remind me of the books I sold or gave away years ago and now wish I had.

In response to the Booking Through Thursday questions, here are my answers:

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain? Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all?

I almost never get rid of books except older text books, magazines, and some paperbacks to the local library, which puts them up for sale. My better half has weeded down my library for me, throwing out and giving away books that he thought I didn't want. I soon put a stop to that practice by telling him about the libraries of old which kept every single scrap of print. (Read The Shadow of the Wind, I told him). He hasn't read the book, but he believed me.

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

I have passed on books to friends and family and even entrusted some of my precious ones to my children, with a warning that I want to have them back after they have read them. (I didn't want to encourage them to throw them away or leave them around.)

So I'm a book pack rat. I'm only forming my own medieval-style library, keeping everything. There are books however, that I don't like at all and there are books that are too old to keep (paperbacks), and those get donated or given away. I have only once in my life thrown a book away.

My book pack rat status is a throw back to the days when I lived in a small town without a library and read the same books over and over again. My first Booking Through Thursday post ever, and it really got me going.

Why I Miss My Books:

When I moved from one continent to another some long time ago, I had a grand sale of books, including most of what I had collected through university. I sold many books I'd love to have today, including Dream of the Red Chamber, a Chinese classic by Tsao Hsueh-Chin in several volumes. I don't think I can find that today for the price I got them for. Now the novel is available at a reasonable price, but abridged and in paperback.

Before coming back to the U.S., I sold another set of books I had carted around with me, including a condensed version of the Oxford English Dictionary, about 20 volumes squeezed into two thick volumes, complete with accompanying magnifying glass. I don't know if the condensed version is still available. If it is not, what would it be worth today?

Read more responses to Booking Through Thursday here.

Oct 14, 2009

Even Money by Dick Francis and Felix Francis, a review


Ned Talbot has been running his independent bookmaker business at racetracks since his grandfather Teddy started it years before. Everything is routine until a customer shows up one day and claims to be Ned's father, who was supposed to have died years ago. The man is then killed in front of Ned by a mugger demanding money.

Ned confirms that the mystery man's fatal stabbing was not random. He gathers more information about this man who claimed to be his father and finds out about his relationship to the horse racing business.

Sub-plots: Three sub plots add to the interest of the main story: the amusing love life of Ned's assistant Luca, the touching story of Ned's wife Sophia, and Ned's family history.

Comments: Easy reading, spare prose, excellent dialogue and character development, a solid plot and good subplots worked easily into the overall book. I enjoyed this mystery and also learned quite a bit about modern day horse racing in Britain.
Thanks to the Penguin Group for an ARC of this book.

Here's a review of Second Wind by Dick Francis by Rose City Reader.

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Oct 12, 2009

"To Read" List on Goodreads

I add books to my Goodreads list as I go along. That's one way I keep track of my TBR list, although not every book I like and want to read is there. Took a look this morning at the To Read section and found 30 books.

Starting with the mysteries: There are a noir mystery, The Devil's Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe; Black Hole: A Novel of Psychological Suspense by Kitty Sewell; Murder For Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon by Dana Fredsti;

two cozies, To Hell in a Handbasket and A Real Basket Case by Beth Groundwater; a mystery series set in Shanghai, The Mao Case: An Inspector Chen Novel by Qiu Xialong;

plus an Alaskan series, Whisper to the Blood by Dana Stabenow, and a British mystery, Green for Danger by Christianna Brand. There's a mixture of authors - Japanese, Chinese, American, British. With mysteries set in different locations, I often learn about new places while enjoying a good plot.

The other genres I'll look at later. It's hard to tackle the list when other books keep cropping up, screaming at you to read them first.

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Oct 11, 2009

Sunday Salon: Busy, Busy

My first time on the Sunday Salon! Got three new books from Hachette, which was truly a delight:

- Morning Sunshine by Robin Meade
- Friends Like These by Danny Wallace
- 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

This week, I finished reviews of Nibble & Kuhn , Even Money by Dick Francis, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich.

Then I tended to my long neglected garden blog, Wood Water Garden, and posted a few pictures of California flora. Hope gardening lovers will check it out.

My hubby and I went back to Blockbuster to start watching DVDs again: saw The Line and will try the comedy, The Ramen Girl, today. Hope it's funny.

I got through this week, plus went to one-hour classes for four days.

Interesting note: Only 29.7% of my blog readers are from the U.S. It's 37% from the U.K. and 35% from other countries. Go figure! Can I trust these stats from Alexa?

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Oct 9, 2009

Book Review: Nibble and Kuhn, a Novel

Synopsis: Two young lawyers at Nibble & Kuhn have fallen in love even though one is engaged to be married. Working in the same law firm, they are not supposed to be romantically involved. Derek and Maria face disapproval from their colleagues, her parents, and of course, her fiance. In addition, Derek is in line for partnership in the law firm, so he has to toe the line to make the grade, as well as win a complicated case against a factory with polluted runoff that may have caused cancer in several area children.

The shenanigans in the firm, Nibble & Kuhn, including a move of offices into a marble Triumph Tower, and the personalities in the firm, leave Derek less than enthusiastic, as he continues to work toward partnership, while still in hot pursuit of his colleague Maria.

My comments: The love story and the rest of the plot are low key. The conflicts are not earth shattering, satire is very subtle, and the drama is minimal, except for a very big surprise during the factory pollution trial. In this sense, the novel is more true to life and realistic than most novels dealing with law firms, lawyers, and law cases. This is not a legal thriller in the style of John Grisham. It is basically a love story and the story of a young, up and coming lawyer and his reactions to the corporate law environment he is in.

Lawyers who know and work within the corporate law system will be very interested in Derek, the main character in Nibble & Kuhn. The book will be released Nov. 1 and is written by Boston lawyer David Schmahmann, John Gardner Book Award winner of Empire Setting.

Advance review copy provided by Academy Chicago Publishers.

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Oct 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, Oct. 7

San Diego Zoo - it may look like a painting, but it's not. Click on photo to enlarge.

Book Review: Even Money by Dick Francis

If you like horses and mysteries and are curious about the world of horse racing, then Even Money is your ticket to a winner.
Synopsis: Ned Talbot has been running his independent bookmaker business at racetracks since his grandfather Teddy started it years before. Everything is routine until a customer shows up one day and claims to be Ned's father, who was supposed to have died years ago. The man is then killed in front of Ned by a mugger with close-set eyes and a scarf over his face, demanding money.
Ned confirms that the mystery man's fatal stabbing was not random, as he gathers more information about the man and his relationship to the horse racing business.
A bonus: Three sub plots provide some relief to the main story: the sometimes amusing love life of Ned's bookmaker assistant Luca, the story of Ned's wife Sophia, and Ned's family history involving his long dead father.
Comments: Easy reading, spare prose, excellent dialogue and character development, a solid plot and good subplots worked easily into the overall book - I enjoyed this mystery and also learned quite a bit about modern day horse racing in Britain.
Review copy provided by the Penguin Group.

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Oct 6, 2009

U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Book Bloggers

Hot topic: Twitter, Book Blogs, and many book review sites are discussing new FTC guidelines re disclosure of free products, books, etc. given by publishers, authors, publicists and others, in exchange for an "endorsement" of said products.

It seems a bit complicated to me, but here's something from the FTC.

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements
"The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."
( from FTC Guides)
I'm already trying to comply by saying that an ARC or review book was provided by the publisher/author/publicist and hope that will satisfy the requirements. By the way, the guidelines won't take effect till Dec. 1 and probably only where the FTC has jurisdiction - the U.S.

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Oct 5, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Nibble and Kuhn, a novel by David Schmahmann

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



"Success at law, it seems, makes men prissy, feebly narcissistic, women as alluring as barbed wire. And failure is worse."


(from an uncorrected proof of Nibble & Kuhn. Final copy may differ.)

An inside look at the workings of a large corporate law firm.

"Two likeable newcomers learn the ropes of corporate law at Nibble & Kuhn - and fall in love - just as that most proper of Boston's venerable firms comically tries to 'rebrand' itself for the Google era." - from the publisher's description.
Advance review copy of the novel provided by the publisher.

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Review: How I Write, Secrets of a Bestselling Author, by Janet Evanovich


Honest, down to earth, gutsy and humorous: some great advice for writers by mystery author Janet Evanovich, in How I Write, published in 2006.

I picked up this book on one of my hunts through discount stores for older but brand new books, and I'm glad I found it. The 2006 book is a series of interviews on creating characters, structure, revising and editing, getting published, and also on "The Writing Life."

Here's one section I liked: on making yourself sit down to write every day - a really difficult thing to do. (from Part 7, "The Writing Life"):

Janet: Look. Nobody finds it easy to sit at a desk all day. It's lonesome, and it's hard, and it's scary. Being a professional is learning to be at your desk even when you don't feel like it. It's facing that blank screen and making yourself put some words where there are none. It's writing something every day, even if it's a single line....

I find it also helps to tell everybody you're a writer. Eventually it gets so embarrassing you actually have to write something."

Fans of her Stephanie Plum mystery series will like reading about how Evanovich creates and develops her characters and her plots, and about her writing techniques and habits. Nice thing about the series of interviews, you can pick the book up at different times and start reading on any page, which is how I'm reading it. A little handbook and motivator for would-be-writers.

There are other books on writing by bestselling authors as well. One of them is Stephen King's On Writing, which has had rave reviews.

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Oct 1, 2009

Cuban-American Mysteries: Carolina Garcia-Aguilera


In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, just passed, I'm reprinting this post on a Latina writer who writes mysteries set in Miami and Havana.

The main character in the mystery series, Lupe Solano, is a private investigator in the Cuban-American community of Miami. She drinks mojitos the way other people drink coffee, wears Manolo Blahnik heels, and hangs with the community of elite Cuban exiles living in and around South Beach, Miami.

The novels are written by Cuban-born, Florida-bred author Carolina Garcia-Aguilera.

In the novels, the avidly anti-Castro father of the P.I. keeps a boat ready to return to Cuba at a moment's notice, at the first sign of "Cuba Libre," something he spends his life waiting for. On at least two occasions, Lupe uses his boat to sneak into Cuba, investigating lost or confiscated property, finding people, or recovering valuable artwork for her clients. Needless to say, her secret nighttime forays into Cuba provide some good suspense.

I found out about mojitos (a drink made with mint leaves, sugar, soda water, and rum) and the Cuban American community in Florida while reading these lively mysteries. They include Bloody Waters (1996), A Miracle in Paradise (1999), Havana Heat(2000), and Bitter Sugar(2001).

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