Aug 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Secret of Happiness, by Demosthenes Armeniades

Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by MizB, asks you to choose two sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

Secret of Happiness, The
"I've decided to give a substantial sum of money to the person who  can cause me to feel the type of happiness you just described."
(ch. 18).

(This quote from an ARC may not be the same in the final copy).

The Secret of Happiness by Demosthenes Armeniades, paperback published July 1, 2010.

About the book: Once upon a time, Max the billionaire invited David to his private island where whiz kid golden boys zip around the globe in private jets making millions and living the dream. But all may not be as golden as it seems. Max wants happiness. David wants his girlfriend back. Marcie just wants to avoid getting fired from her cashier job at Walmart. And the Guru knows the answers—or does he? Follow them on a wild rollercoaster ride through offshore paradises, out into space, over the Himalayas, across the Russian tundra, and through an evolutionary quantum shift to a final showdown in the Texas desert. The Secret of Happiness is a fast-paced, offbeat, fairytale thriller charged with suspense until the final word. (Publisher's description).

Aug 30, 2010

Finding New Authors

Thanks to a blogger I follow on Google Reader, (I'm trying to find her again),  I've discovered an easy way to find new authors.

Click on the link, Gnooks and enter into Gnod the names of three of your favorite writers. Based on your choices, Gnod will then suggest a new author for you to read. So far, entering names of different genre writers, I've come up with four names (new to me).  They are Emily Barr (travel fiction), Graham Swift (literary fiction), Carol Lea Benjamin (mystery), and Rebecca Pawel (mystery set in Spain).

And there's more. Enter the name of an author to find others like him/her, on the Literature Map on Gnooks, Have fun with it!

 Perfect Lie Making an ElephantWithout a Word: A Rachel Alexander Mystery (Rachel Alexander & Dash Mysteries)The Summer Snow (Soho Crime)

What a great resource this has turned out to be!  If you are familiar with Gnod or are the blogger who shared this info, leave a comment for me, please!

Aug 29, 2010

Sunday Salon: No More ARCs?

The Sunday

Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

My new resolution for fall: I'll not be acccepting any ARCs or new books for review (unless they are really exceptional and impossible to resist)! I am feeling very guilty about my long list of books that have yet to be read and reviewed, so I'm setting aside time for them.

Queen of the Night: A Novel of SuspenseStork Raving Mad: A Meg Langslow Mystery (Meg Langslow Mysteries)Of course, library books always intrude inbetween. For instance, I just picked up new books by Donna Andrews and J.A. Jance, mystery writers. Couldn't resist those. Andrews writes comedy mysteries; Jance is a queen of thrillers. Can't wait to get to hers.

The past month and a half has been very hectic, with visitors and family gatherings, a funeral, and more. My time on the blog has been limited, and I'm glad to be able to get in this Sunday Salon! I've been getting a few books in, though I haven't had time to review them.

What have you been up to this past week?

Aug 24, 2010

Novels of Vietnam: The Lotus Eaters and The Man from Saigon

I was impressed that two novels on the Vietnam War have been published by authors who were not present in the war but who did enough research and interviews to write credible war stories set in Vietnam.  The novels feature two women in the war, one  a reporter in The Man from Saigon: A Novel by Marti Leimbach and the other a photographer in The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli, both printed 2010.

I started reading them both and realized from the author's information and book description that the writers were creating the story from their imagination, (great!) using of course a lot of research material from books, news reports, maybe even interviews. I like historical fiction but the Vietnam War is still so new that, to me, novels about the war really aren't yet in that category. In other words, I lost interest in the books. I think I would have preferred novels based on the experiences of real people.

However, the two novels are popular and selling well. Maybe many years down the road, writers can fictionalize the experiences of real people in the war, which they can't do now, as such persons, many still alive, might not enjoy being the subject of fiction.

UPDATE ON THE LOTUS EATERS: I have, since writing this post, interviewed Tatjana Soli and posted an interview with the author, here. For me, Soli's research and familiarity with the subject and those who endured the war put a new light on her book.

From my updated Jan. 20 review of The Lotus Eaters: The title is arresting. especially for those who know Tennyson's poem of the same name, describing the voyages of Ulysses and his band of warriors who are tempted by the sleep-inducing lotus and the people of the land they discover, to remain and never leave the place. The title though may not refer to the Vietnamese in the war, who, on both sides, were far from being drugged as the title would suggest. The title may more appropriately refer to the Americans in the war, and to Helen, who refuses to leave Vietnam, wanting more and more of the heady war experience, reluctant to leave and let go.

Easy to read, I thought the writing could have been more tightly edited, less wordy. It tends to ramble in its descriptions. It would have had a greater impact and punch if it were less so. The content though is first rate and gives the reader a deeper sense of those controversial years of the war.

Aug 17, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia

Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by MizB, asks you to choose two sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

This Must Be the Place: A Novel
This Must Be the Place: A Novel

Written by Kate Racculia, the novel has Arthur Rook searching out Mona Jones after the death of his wife Amy. What does he find out from Mona about Amy, her past, and her secrets?
"Arthur had found Amy's last will and testament: a postcard written over a decade and a half ago and never sent.

Run, Amy told him, and pointed. There." (p.37).

Aug 13, 2010

More Friday Finds: From the Bookstore

I only went  to the bookstore today to get a cup of coffee and to sit in the airconditioning after giving books away to my local library....but then I came home with two books. Luckily my membership to B & N runs through September, so I get...Discount!!

For my granddaughter, a reprint of a book my sons used as toddlers to learn their ABCs:

Gyo Fujikawa's A to Z Picture Book

and one for me,


                                    Ghostwalk, an historical mystery set in Cambridge, England, by Rebecca Stott (2007).

While giving away some books to the library, I had to borrow one as well, of course:

The Lotus Eaters: A Novel
The Lotus Eaters: A Novel set in Vietnam, by Tatjana Soli (2010). Loved the cover and colors and I enjoy a good story.  Think I'll stay home for a while, though, just to avoid bringing back more books :)

So, what did you find or bring home today, by way of books?

Friday Finds: Three Good Books

Friday Finds is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the link to join in.

A lucky find in the basement among textbooks from 2000:


Obasan by Joy Kogawa (1994) caught my eye because I know the name for Grandmother, which is Obaasan, with an extra emphasis on the first a. Turns out Obasan without the emphasis is the name for Uncle. The plaintive look on the little girl's face told me that this was a sensitive story, and the American Book Award that it received further recommended it. Author Joy Kogawa is a Japanese Canadian whose family was interned during WWII.

Found on my doorstep, left there by the mailman, who probably realized "This Must Be the Place" :)

This Must Be the Place: A Novel
This Must Be the Place: A Novel by Kate Racculia (2010) is about Arthur Rook, newly widowed and grieving. He discovers a sixteen year old postcard, never mailed but addressed by his wife Amy to a woman he has never heard of. Arthur decides to visit the woman in the small town of Ruby Falls, New York. What happens, what secrets are unveiled, and the consequences are the meat of the novel.

Another book left by the mailman:

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh (2010) makes me think of my former employers and the advice they may need to move forward in this competitive media environment. A key idea of the book: keep your employees happy and they will automatically work well for you. Sounds like a sensible idea to me!

What did you find this Friday?

Aug 12, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Reading Choices

You can join Booking Through Thursday by clicking on this link. This week's question:

Have your reading choices changed over the years? Or pretty much stayed the same? (And yes, from childhood to adulthood we usually read different things, but some people stick to basically the same kind of book their entire lives, so…)

My answer: I haven't changed from loving mysteries, thrillers, and historical mysteries or novels written by international authors, but I have added spicy romances, memoirs, cookbooks, contemporary fiction, and some self-help books to my list. In all, my blog has quite a variety of books. You never know what you'll find on this blog!

What are your recent reading habits?

Aug 11, 2010

Book Review: A Darker God by Barbara Cleverly

A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (Mortalis) by Barbara Cleverly, 2010.

Reality mimics an ancient Greek tragedy on the stage of an ancient Theater of Dionysius, Athens, Greece in 1928. Archaeologist Laetitia Talbot is caught up in the drama and the unraveling of shocking and mysterious deaths.

The book cleverly combines Greek drama with political, historical and personal drama in 1920s Europe and Greece. With excellent storytelling and a strong sense of place, you get caught up as part of the audience in this extended Greek play and watch with pity and fear as events unfold. Laetitia (Letty) helps a British inspector and the Greek police to sort out the facts while risking her life for the sake of friends and a former lover.

Recommended for those who enjoy mystery, history, Greek drama, and archaeology. In other words, The Darker God (a reference to Dionysius), should have a wide appeal.

Title: A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (Mortalis)
Author: Barbara Cleverly
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Bantam; Original edition (March 23, 2010)
Genre: Archaeological mystery, historical mystery
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Aug 8, 2010

Guest Review: There's No Hope for Gomez by Graham Parke

- by guest reviewer, Reiny Lau
No Hope for Gomez!
No Hope for Gomez

There’s No Hope for Gomez! I didn’t expect much when I picked up this book. Well, that’s why they say, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

No Hope for Gomez is about a man named Gomez (of course!). He is a "lab rat" for experimental drug testing and he writes a blog about his daily life – which I would say is quite interesting. After he takes the medicine he's given, things around him start turning a bit out of place: an antiques dealer tries to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boils salamanders on his balcony, something makes him fall for his lab assistant, and when another guy in the same drug trial mysteriously dies – Now there’s a story for Gomez.

This book is a comedy, no doubt about that, but there’s also a bit of a thrill and suspense here. Parke did well in creating characters with strong personalities that will have you thinking about them for quite a while. I must say there’s a lot of good (and bad?) humor in this book. The plot isn’t too serious and the story line went smoothly as the blog entries Gomez wrote; there are a lot of points that will leave you wondering how this will end – and then you can’t put the book down.

If you like a story that will keep you smiling (or even going LOL!) – and if you like to read some suspense that won’t make you go all serious thinking about it, give a chance to Gomez.

Title: No Hope for Gomez!
Author: Graham Parke
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (January 12, 2010)
Genre: Comedy, suspense
Source: Publisher/publicist

Aug 6, 2010

New Books: Not All Mysteries :)

Five new books this week, to add to the toppling TBR pile:

Here are two ARC that just arrived:

Every Bitter Thing: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation Set in BrazilEvery Bitter Thing: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation Set in Brazil by Leighton Gage, a mystery set in Brazil, to be released December 2010. Series of deaths of former passengers on TAB Flight 8101 from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil, has Inspector Mario Silva busy, especially since the latest is the son of Venezuela's foreign minister, found dead in his apartment in Brasilia. I like the setting; Brazil has such a vital environment and rich history.

The Insane Train (A Hook Runyon Mystery)The Insane Train (A Hook Runyon Mystery) by Sheldon Russell, to be released November, 2010. A mystery set in the 1940's, featuring railroad detective Hook Runyon. Survivors of a fire in an insane asylum are being transported by train to Oklahoma; several of the inmates and an attendant on the train are found dead. Hook Runyon investigates the suspicious circumstances and uncovers a long-held secret of revenge.

Add a mystery from last year,

Too Rich and Too Thin, Not an an AutobiographyToo Rich and Too Thin, Not an an Autobiographyby Barbara DeShong, a Jessica LeFave Mystery, 2009. Psychologist Jessica LeFave is inclined to link the death of  soft-porn novelist Bernice to the death of her husband David several months previously. Bernice was one of David's psychiatry patients and may have had secrets to hide.

These two I got from the library, after reading blogs that reviewed or introduced them:

I Curse the River of Time: A Novel (The Lannan Translation Series)I Curse the River of Time: A Novel (The Lannan Translation Series) by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund and Per Petterson, 2008. A work of fiction set in Norway, 1989, the novel is about Arvid Jansen, 37, trying to understand the choices he made in his youth and to remedy the estrangement between himself and his now ill mother.

The Man from BeijingThe Man from Beijing, a novel by Henning Mankel, translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson, 2010. A thriller involving Sweden, Beijing, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. I'm looking forward to this one too, as it seems to involve politics, history, as well as a mystery.

What books are you reading these days?

Travel Can Be Fun or Not: Sunday Salon

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