Jan 31, 2012

Teaser: Threadbare, A Needlecraft Mystery by Monica Ferris

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

Title: Threadbare: A Needlecraft Mystery
December 6, 2011; Berkley Hardcover

"I thought she was living on the street."

"Yes, some of the time. She goes to shelters at night, especially in the winter. Oh, you mean because she knits or does embroidery. Well, why not? You can do that in a library if you're quiet about it. It helps her pass the time." (ch. 3)

Publisher's description: "Besty Devonshire of the Crewel World needlework shop gets embroiled in an embroidery mystery. When an elderly homeless woman is found dead on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, she's wearing something that holds the key to her identity but also opens up a mystery. Embroidered on her blouse is her will, in which she bequeaths everything she owns to her niece-Emily Hame, a member of the Monday Bunch at Betsy's needlework shop!

Emily's aunt turns out to be the second homeless woman to be found dead under mysterious circumstances. It's up to Betsy to discover the common thread between the deaths-and to determine if a murderer may strike again... "

This review book is the 15th in the mystery series.

Jan 30, 2012

Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks by Martin Chu Shui

 Here are the opening sentences for the fantasy YA novel,Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks (Dragon's Pupils Series Book 2). Opening sentences can reveal the tone of a novel and give readers the flavor of a book.
"A group of shadowy figures swiftly negotiated their way among the giant gum trees. In silence, gliding over the green moss and rotten vegetation that covered earth, they approached the lone farm house situated at the edge of a large forest.
 Underneath the thick blanket of midnight’s darkness, their black-clothed bodies were almost invisible. Walking around the house and carefully avoiding the faint light emitted from the windows, they peeked inside: Around a desk, two teenage girls were reading books beside a pair of flickering candles.
One of the ghostly figures turned around scanning the surroundings one more time and then nodded to the others. Rising from the shadows suddenly, he strode towards the house.

With a loud cracking noise, he broke down the front wooden door with one powerful kick." (Part I)
Title: Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks by Martin Chu Shui
Kindle Edition , Dec. 3, 2011
Genre: fantasy, YA, martial arts

Product description: " Powerful and invincible they ride across vast desert landscapes, hunting and slaying vampires under the cover of night. Jian Ke, the sword guests are more famous than ever! Admired by millions of TV fans around the nation as they pursue a life of action and adventure: a splendid tapestry depicting Liz, Henry and Sue at the top of their game. With her paintbrush in hand Liz is prepared to take on a hoard of vampires, an army of aliens and even her first kiss from the man of her dreams, Sue’s handsome older brother.

Life couldn’t be better until everything falls to pieces. Liz must now face her biggest fears as the world she once knew slips through her fingers. No-one will be left untouched by the chaos which ensues. Armed only with her knowledge of Tai Chi, Liz must fight for what she has lost and begin the climb of her life. An unforgettable journey will take her to the Peaks.

Dragon's Pupils - The Peaks the second instalment of the Dragon’s Pupils series, follows the drama of Liz’s life as she fights monsters, wields magic and longs for forbidden love. It is a journey which will take you through Australia’s most beautiful landscapes and ultimately witnesses the transformation Liz undergoes, as she rises to meet her latest challenge."

I received a review copy of the ebook.

Jan 29, 2012

Sunday Salon: World Book Night April 23; Sign up by Feb. 6

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon.

World Book Night will be held on April 23, 2012 across the U.S., UK and Ireland. Here is it's aim:

WHAT: "WBN has a goal of getting 50,000 people to go out to places in their communities on the evening of Monday, April 23, 2012, and give a book to a stranger or to people you might know but believe aren’t frequent readers.

WHERE: We will ask that you go to a coffee shop or hospital, church or community center, an after-work party or train home, shopping mall or local school -- and give out 20 free paperbacks, books provided by World Book Night.

These paperbacks will be specially-produced, not-for-resale World Book Night U.S. editions, and there will be 30 titles for you to choose from.

A million free books in all!

THE BOOKS: Here is the list of 30 World Book Night U.S. books. Register by Feb. 1 to be a giver, by making three book choices and telling us why you’d like to participate and where you are thinking of going to give out your books.

You will be notified in early February if you have been chosen to be a book giver and which of the three books we are able to provide you with. You will then choose at which local bookstore or library you’d like to pick up your box of books ahead of World Book Night.

And afterwards, we’d love you to share your book giving experience with us, as we get ready for the next year!

Lastly, we intend to promote reading year-round, not just one night, and we especially hope that you can continue to support bookstores and libraries. In these times, they need your support more than ever.

Take the family, friends to bookstore or library this week, and as often as possible."

RECAP: During World Book Night, 50,000 people, named as “book givers,” will each be giving away 20 books from a select list with a goal to have 1,000,000 people across the United States alone celebrating reading en masse. There will be adult books and young adult titles given away.

SIGN UP: People can sign up at http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/about-world-book-night/register-as-a-2012-giver by February 6 to apply to be a “book giver.

You can see the complete list of titles that includes books from authors like Jodi Picoult, Michael Connelly, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver and Junot Diaz, among others at: http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/wbn2012-the-books.

You can find WBN on facebook and twitter.

Jan 27, 2012

Outside the Lines: a Novel by Amy Hatvany - Opening Sentences

Outside the Lines: A Novel by Amy Hatvany
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Release date: February 7, 2012

Opening sentences in a novel can set the tone and help readers decide about the book. Here are the opening sentences for Outside the Lines: A Novel .

The call came at three thirty in the morning, a time slot predestined for the arrival of bad news. No one calls to tell you you've won the lottery in the middle of the night. Your boyfriend doesn't call you to propose.

The shrill of my cell phone dug into my dreams and wrenched me from sleep. This is it, I thought. He's dead. Six months ago, I'd given the morgue at Seattle General my number along with a copy of a twenty-year-old picture of my father. "I don't care what time it is," I told the hospital administrator. "If he turns up, I'll come right away." (p. 1)

Publisher's description: "When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.

Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths—not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found—Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love."

About the author: Amy Hatvany is the author of three other novels, including Best Kept Secret. She lives in Seattle with her family.

Jan 26, 2012

Book Review: The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

She ... scrolled her BlackBerry to where she could reread the Facebook message.

"Saw the cake you made for Glenna Brooks. Would love it if you would do one for my wedding on January 15. We'll pay for your plane ticket, put you up for the week at Elysium, provide you with a car and driver, and, of course, pay for the cake.
Let me know ASAP if you are interested!"

Jillian Abernathy. The name was vaguely familiar. (ch. 1)

Title: The Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery
Hardcover: 352 pages; William Morrow
Release date: January 17, 2012)

So begins cake maker Piper Donovan's escape from Manhattan to Los Angeles and to an exclusive spa in the Hollywood Hills, courtesy of Jillian Abernathy, a wealthy client who wants Piper to make a wedding cake for her nuptials at Elysium, the high-end spa she is director of and which her father owns. The work-and-vacation trip to LA turns out to be anything but relaxing for Piper, however.

A housekeeper, Esperanza, is disfigured when acid is thrown into her face by someone who thought the housekeeper was Jillian. Someone either doesn't want the marriage to happen or is seeking revenge against Elysium by trying to harm Jillian.

With two murders and more scares for Jillian later on, Piper is urged by her parents and by her boyfriend, FBI agent Jack Lombardi, to return to New York and extricate herself from the scary mess that the planned wedding has become.

But Piper is also attending try-outs for TV commercials in Hollywood, and her long-held dreams of becoming an actress keep her in LA and at Elysium. She soon becomes friendly with other clients at the spa and discovers more unsavory things at Elysium. She is pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery.

I gave this easy to read and enjoyable novel a 4/5 rating. The book has interesting characters and tidbits of information about LA, including the real life Monastery of the Angels, a religious institution in the Hollywood Hills famous for its homemade pumpkin bread.

Author: New York Times bestselling author Mary Jane Clark is currently taking cake-decorating classes, as she works on her next novel. Her mother made customized cakes for the neighborhood kids when Mary Jane was growing up.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 25, 2012

Book Review: The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb

"Honey!" he said, touching her trembling back while squelching the desire to shout. I was preyed upon, dammit! I was ambushed by a miserable creature who used the traction of a single kiss to try to wound both of us! That's the truth! (ch. 18)
The Face Thief: A Novel by Eli Gottlieb
William Morrow; Hardcover, 256 pages; Jan. 17, 2012
Genre: literary novel, suspense
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Margot Lassiter, a young magazine journalist, wakes up slowly in the hospital, not rememering much about the fall down a long marble staircase that caused serious head injury and partial amnesia. Had she been pushed? Detective Dan France visits her regularly to try to find out. He also is looking closely into her life before her injury. As she lies in the hospital recovering, Margot remembers her childhood and the influences on her life.

Flashback to Lawrence Billings, a psychologist who gives seminars on face reading, body language and how to use this to advantage in the business world. Margot is one of the attendees at a seminar, and she insists on taking private lessons from Lawrence so she can have improve her skills in business dealings. But it turns out that Margot is the master, not Lawrence,and she is able to manipulate him with her own body language and her sharp ability to read his. "Men speak a stench," she often thinks, and she can sniff them out expertly.

Flashback again to another man, 42-year-old John Potash, a happily married man, comfortably well off, who is persuaded by telemarketer Janelle Styles from Greenleaf Financial to look into investments with her company in the newest green technology. He meets her and her partners and is convinced that he would make a mint by investing almost all of his savings, his wife's savings, and his mother's.

The three stories converge in the novel to create a suspenseful tale of psychology and manipulation. The men - Dan the detective, Lawrence the psychologist and face reading specialist, and John the investor - are no match for Margot, who reads them easily. When Margot recovers and leaves the hospital, the men try to minimize the damages done to their marriages and self esteem.

I wished that the book had gone into more detail about face reading, but it didn't except for when Lawrence gives a few tips in his seminars. A jagged hairline could mean some traumatic experience in the teenage years, shape of the upper or lower lip could show either a sensual or pleasure denying bent, extra plumpness on the lower cheeks around the mouth could mean lots of energy. Large ears low on the head would make the person thoughtful and deliberate; a cleft chin would mean a big ego....and so forth.

The Face Thief made me think of how often people I know or I myself put on a face or attitude that didn't reveal true feelings. It certainly will make me more observant of body language and face characteristics. Not that this novel is all negative...There is at least one innocent, goodhearted man in the book, and at least three good women. None of them are Margot.

A fascinating book that is both a literary and a suspense novel. I am anxious to read the author's other novel, Now You See Him, which also got good reviews.

About the author: Eli Gottlieb’s New York Times Notable Book, The Boy Who Went Away, won the Rome Prize and the 1998 McKitterick Prize from the British Society of Authors. His second novel, Now You See Him, has been translated into eleven languages. He lives in New York City.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 24, 2012

Book Review: The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

Title: The Moment: A Novel by Douglas Kennedy
Publisher: Atria Books (2011), Paperback, 544 pages
Objective rating: 3.5/5

Comments: The book is a love story but also an historical novel with detailed information about Berlin during the Cold War when the city was divided into East and West Berlin. As a writer, American Thomas Nesbitt had access to the city of East Berlin, which was closed off to the rest of the world by the Berlin Wall. It was in East Berlin that he met the love of his life. Years later in Maine, the past and his life in East Berlin return in the form of a package mailed to him from his former love.

Unfortunately, the love story was lost for me in the many pages of  the recreation of the history, climate, politics, and physical atmosphere of the divided city. Those looking for a straightforward romance will also find themselves engrossed in details showing the mood and the terrible politics of the time. As such, I found it a bit too heavy and long, but I'm very sure The Moment would be very worthwhile for those who want to know more about Berlin and its history.

Author Douglas Kennedy is the New York Times bestselling author of Leaving the World. His website is www.douglaskennedynovelist.com

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 22, 2012

Sunday Salon: Happy Lunar New Year of the Dragon

The Sunday Salon.comWelcome to the Sunday Salon. It's the Lunar New Year, Spring Festival, Chinese New Year of the Water Dragon, which begins tomorrow, Jan. 23! Look for excitement and good fortune this year, according to the fortune tellers.

One custom is to pay all your bills, clean your house, throw away anything that is broken, and fulfill your obligations before the new year sets in. I've been doing new and overdue book reviews like crazy, not that many really, but a lot in one week for  me.  Here are the past week's:
 Oath of Office by Michael Palmer

 The Barbary Dogs: A Mystery by Cynthia Robinson

 Breakthrough: the 5 Living Principles to Defeat Stress, Look Great, & Find Total Well-Being by Shea Vaughn

Living Fully by Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, Buddhism and philosophy

My Evangeline by Heidi Radford Legg, literary fiction
plus posted an interview with the author of The Dark Rose, Erin Kelly.

I have slowed down on accepting new books for review, as I hope to finish the ones I now have first!

What are you planning for the rest of the year?

Jan 21, 2012

Book Review: The Barbary Dogs by Cynthia Robinson

The Barbary Dogs: A Mystery by Cynthia Robinson
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (November 8, 2011)
Source: library

According to Wikipedia, the Barbary Coast in San Francisco is a seedy red light district. I was expecting more dogs in this mystery, as the author has written a previous novel titled The Dog Park Club. However, there is only one dog of note, a small pug owned by opera singer Max Bravo.

In this mystery, Max is conned into taking care of the affairs and funeral of a former friend, an unsuccessful writer named Frank Kelly, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Max finds Frank's journal and is immediately visited by the ghost of Baba, Max's grandmother, who frequently visits to tell Max what's going on and what to do. She thinks that the mysterious man who wrote 20 pages in Frank's journal made Frank commit suicide and will now target Max. Never mind that this man died years before Frank's time, in 1906, the year of the great earthquake in San Francisco.

There is a bit of the paranormal, a lot of Barbary Coast history and San Francisco earthquake history, descriptions of the fog of the city as well as landmarks such as the San Francisco Mission, Chinatown. The book is not just history, however, but what is described as a "quirky literary mystery," with an odd group of writers and references to literary works such as Paradise Lost.

This was a unique book, with parts that I liked as history and mystery and parts that I felt were just a long excuse to describe the city of San Francisco.  Residents and fans of SF are sure to like it.

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 20, 2012

Hard Target: a Novel by Howard Gordon - Opening Sentences

Opening sentences in a novel can set the tone and help readers decide about the book. Here are the opening sentences for Hard Target, a thriller by Howard Gordon.

"Gideon Davis scrutinized the Windsor knot in his yellow tie in his rearview mirror as he waited for the stoplight to change. It had been eight years since he was last in front of a classroom, and tying a knot was just one of the skills he had lost. Now, as he fiddled with it in the mirror, he missed his days as a diplomat and presidential adviser, where he'd conducted his business in rolled up shirtsleeves.A least his tuxedo had come with a clip-on bow tie.

The light turned green, and Gideon turned right off the bridge that connected Virginia to Washington D.C. " (ch. 1)

Title: Hard Target by Howard Gordon
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Touchstone
Genre: political thriller
Source: Publisher

Book description:
A follow-up to Gideon’s War involves a harrowing attempt to stop a homegrown terrorist plot to destroy the U.S. government.
Gideon Davis has settled into the quiet life of an academic and is weeks away from being married when he discovers evidence of an impending terrorist attack on U.S. soil. He brings his suspicions to his ex-girlfriend, FBI Agent Nancy Clement, but her bosses are leery of Gideon’s source: a meth-head informant affiliated with a white supremacist group. Both Gideon and Nancy become increasingly convinced that a serious plot exists, but their informant is murdered before they can get more details from him. So Gideon enlists his brother, Tillman—newly sprung from prison through a presidential pardon— as an undercover operative to infiltrate a group of white supremacists who may be involved.

Eventually, Gideon and Tillman get on the trail of the real conspirators and uncover their audacious plan to eliminate the entire top tier of the U.S. government during a high-value, mass-casualty attack. With only Nancy’s support, Gideon and Tillman go rogue to stop the powerful titan behind the conspiracy before the entire government is toppled.

Author Howard Gordon has been a writer and producer in Hollywood for more than twenty years. He is the executive producer of the television show 24 and was a writer and executive producer for The X-Files. This is his first novel.

I was sent a complimentary copy of this book.

Jan 19, 2012

Book Review - Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath by Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche

I have been reading books on yoga and modern approaches to healthy living and find a recurring theme - living in the moment, being aware of the present, being "mindful" of whatever it is you are doing at each moment. To me that means being reflective and self-aware, enough to be conscious of your own breathing. Of course, this also means that you have to be able to block every noise and distraction or be in a quiet place for most of the time.
Spiritual leader Shyalpa Enzin Rinpoche doesn't advocate living in a monastery or a cave in his new book, however. He teaches about living in the world while observing the Buddhist philosophy of negation of the self or ego, and "living fully" while nurturing positive qualities in yourself such as honesty, sincerity, generosity, simplicity, openness, respect, and confidence. He devotes separate short chapters on having a compassion heart, how to face obstacles, meditation as a way of life, learning from others, and avoiding the duality of seeing a difference between the self and others.
I found that the book is not just for Buddhists, but for anyone open to a different approach in dealing with the stresses of modern life.  I did think some of his teachings would be challenging to follow. Perhaps that's why he advocates also having a teacher or guide, someone that is still not always easy to have or find. His words are full of practical wisdom, however, and I found his words very inspiring. 

 Title: Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath
Author: Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche
Hardcover: 296 pages; New World Library; January 24, 2012
Genre: Buddhist philosophy, self-help
Objective rating: 5/5

About the Author:
Preeminent Buddhist Teacher Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche was born in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. Trained as a lama from the age of four, Rinpoche received transmissions from all the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche is a lineage holder of the Great Perfection (Dzogchen) tradition.

His Eminence Shyalpa Rinpoche has conducted countless retreats, seminars, and empowerments at centers throughout the world and has given talks at Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan, and Naropa, among other venues. His current teaching schedule includes North America, South America, Asia, and Europe.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided to me.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Book Review: Breakthrough by Shea Vaughn

"The mind-body connection is the idea that our thoughts can positively affect our bodies and our physical reactions, particularly  to stress. The mind leads and the body follows." (ch. 3, Thought and Motion)

Title: Breakthrough: the 5 Living Principles to Defeat Stress, Look Great, & Find Total Well-Being by Shea Vaughn
Paperback, Health Communications, Inc., October 3, 2011
Objective rating: 5/5

I was interested in how Shea combines eastern thought on well-being with modern ideas on exercise and health. She focuses a lot on the mind-body connection, showing that focus on the body and leaving out the mind doesn't work, or vice versa.
"When we are overburdened by chronic stress the mind is doing so much work that the body is sometimes left behind." (ch. 4, Modern Meditation).
Her tips on managing stress, such as: breathe, exercise, laugh, music, think positive sound like common sense but her motivational advice and insights I found very helpful. Her Sheanetics - 5 Living Principles of Well-Being - include commitment, perseverance, self-control, integrity, and love. Again, so much common sense but with added insights, exercises, and advice that make the book enjoyable and easy to read as well as informational and inspiring. Shea also teaches by using examples of different people with specific problems and the solutions for each of them.

I especially like what I call the yoga stretching exercises, instructions and photos that are included as just that - exercises to stretch and balance and "boost the mind and body."  This is one of the books that goes on my easy to reach shelf of reference books I'll refer to frequently.

About the Author: Shea Vaughn is a fitness expert, professional trainer, and wellness coach who lives in Chicago. Shea has gained national recognition as an inspirational speaker, certified personal trainer, and media personality. She was featured on the Ellen DeGeneris show in December 2011. Visit http://www.sheanetics.com/
A complimentary review copy of this book was sent to me.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 18, 2012

Review: My Evangeline: A Novel by Heidi Radford Legg

"Eve, how do your paintings come to you?"

"Well, in the past I just found a subject I admired or found beautiful, but lately, since the end of the summer, they have been coming to me in dreams." (p. 95)

Title: My Evangeline by Heidi Radford Legg
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: www.heidilegg.com (October 25, 2011)

Book description:
When small town Acadian girl, Evangeline, 18, is faced with choosing between living out her late-mother's unfinished dreams at her father’s insistence or following her own charted path that includes her summer boyfriend, the American Max, the magnitude of her decision weighs heavily. When she folds to her father’s pressure and moves to Montreal, she not only finds herself embroiled in political protests and losing Max, but begins to unravel a family secret her father was desperate to hide. My Evangeline, set in retro 1995, tells the story of a willful heroine, who with all her irreverent and rebellious undertones, is stopped in her tracks by duty. With a nod to Longfellow’s epic Evangeline who was faced with the same choice, we meet a contemporary heroine who begins her journey na├»ve and dutiful. And like the fabled heroine of old, she finds her inner strength once she realizes the casualty of her choices. Elements of magic realism permeate the story as she unravels the secret. She meets an owl, a panther and a raven that challenge her ability to reason as she sets out in search of her true spirit. (Amazon)

Comments: A work of literary fiction with an historical background, the story of Evangeline is reminiscent of the poet Longfellow's Evangeline, whose character inspired the author's novel. The book is a contemporary work about choices and it is also a love story with magical elements. The setting is the town of Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada and the Montreal art world around 1995.
About the Author:
HEIDI RADFORD LEGG has written six screenplays and piles of essays and poems. Born in New Brunswick, Canada, she has a graduate degree in journalism from Concordia University in Montreal and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her family, a short walk from Longfellow's home. This is her first novel. http://www.heidilegg.com/

 I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 17, 2012

Book Giveaway: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer

Author Michael Palmer is offering a reader a copy of his finished novel, Oath of Office, his newest medical thriller. (See my review.)

Title: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer
Release date: Feb. 14, 2012
Hardcover; St. Martin's Press

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with
1) an email address and
2) the title or author of another mystery or thriller that you liked.

This is open to U.S. residents only, no P.O. box addresses please. The contest runs through Jan. 25. A winner will be chosen at random, emailed on Jan. 26 and will have two days to send in a mailing address before another winner is chosen. The author will send the book directly to the winner! You will enjoy this thriller. Good luck!

Book Review: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer

Title: Oath of Office by Michael Palmer
Release date: Feb. 14, 2012; St. Martin's Press
Genre: medical thriller
Objective rating: 4/5

Dr. John Meacham suddenly goes berserk and shoots several of the patients in his office. Other people in King's Ridge begin to show signs of stress, lack of judgement, and extreme destructive behavior, both to others and to themselves.

In the meantime, the director of the Department of Agriculture is forced to resign due to evidence of sexual improprieties. The first lady of the U.S., Darlene, becomes involved when she receives information from an anonymous Doctor M that the agricultural director was framed. This ties in later with the bizarre behavior of the people of King's Ridge and a local corporation.

This is an environmental thriller, where the main character, Dr. Lou Welcome,is almost killed several times trying to find the link between King's Ridge and the extreme lack of judgement some of its residents are showing. Lou begins to work with the First Lady, who follows up on the tips from the mysterious Doctor M and, with her chief of staff, tries to run this evident conspiracy to the ground.

Unfortunately I knew before I started reading that the thriller involves genetic manipulation of food. The quote at the beginning of the book from Seeds of Deception about scientists inserting genes from an animal into a plant gives it away and just about tells us what the medical thriller is about. I would have preferred to have been surprised and find out later.

What's pleasantly new in the book is having a First Lady become a clandestine investigator or sleuth of sorts. What is also new is the president himself not following his Oath of Office in this dire situation. Combining DNA of animals and plants, different species, sounds potentially very scary. I think the book makes that point.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book.

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 16, 2012

Author interview: Erin Kelly, The Dark Rose

Erin Kelly

Author of

Pamela Dorman / Viking
Publication: February 6, 2012

Q: Is any part of THE DARK ROSE autobiographical, or is it wholly imagined?  
A.  Of course parts of me leak into my characters. I can only tell you about the aspects I am conscious of. I’m sure there are more. As one British reviewer recently told me, ‘Your readers know you better than you know yourself.’

The Dark Rose is told from the alternating points of view of 19-year-old Paul and Louisa, the older woman who eventually becomes his lover. Both of them embody different aspects of me at various times in my life. 

Like Louisa, in my late teens I was a sucker for anything that was prefaced by the word ‘alternative’, whether music, therapy or religion, and it was great fun revisiting those years. I also had a terrible weakness for pretty boys who wanted to be rock stars, although in my case that did not prove fatal.

And like Paul, I grew up in Essex, the infamous county to the east of London that follows the Thames out to the North Sea. My home was bookish and sensitive, but the wider culture there is neither of those things, and when I was writing him I drew on memories of isolation that I sometimes felt growing up.

Q.  Most of us have flirted with dangerous situations or people during adolescent and young adult years, but few pay the price that your protagonists, Paul and Louisa do? What inspired you to write about adolescence?

A.  Late adolescence is when life really begins; those years are a perfect storm of freedom and curiosity, responsibility and impulsiveness. Life has not yet blunted the edges of our passion so little wonder we cut ourselves from time to time.

On a more practical level, during this period, life is relatively transient and that suited my plot. Without mortgages, careers or families to tie them down, my characters could easily uproot themselves, run away, begin new lives, and hide. 

Q.  Why did you choose the backdrop of a sixteenth-century English garden as the backdrop for this novel? Can you explain the title in the context of having chosen this as your setting?

A.  I’ve always found inspiration in ancient places, and a few years ago I was walking in the gardens at Cawdor Castle in Scotland, when I found half-hidden in the grounds, a battered old VW Camper Van. The juxtaposition between this modern vehicle and the centuries-old garden got me thinking. What sort of person would stay in a place like that? Are they part of the life of the castle or separate from it? What’s their story? From there the character of Louisa slowly grew. She is so scarred by her past that she has rejected all the comforts and threats of contemporary life, content to immerse herself in history rather than deal with the present. This suited her character but also worked on a practical, plot-serving level. It’s not easy these days to live off-grid or under the radar, to remain untraceable, but when we meet Louisa at the beginning of the story, that is just what she has done. 
Kelstice Lodge, the ruined Elizabethan hall whose garden Louisa is restoring, is my own invention, but is loosely based on a similar project at
Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire. It’s a huge, eerie place. Its crumbling red stone walls have witnessed blood-curdling scenes more powerful and violent than anything I could invent. While I was thinking about Louisa’s character, I happened to see a documentary on the English Heritage project to restore the gardens to the way they looked in 1575, when Elizabeth I came to stay.  
The Kelstice Lodge project is on a much smaller scale, and infinitely less professional, but the seeds of inspiration were sown.  (Incidentally, I got the name Kelstice from the pictures tacked to the wall in my study; a postcard showing a page from The Book of Kells was next to a flyer for a summer solstice party.)

As for the title, it’s open to a number of interpretations. There is a scene in the book where Louisa describes to Paul the curse of gardeners everywhere of Rose Sickness, a phenomenon whereby a newly-planted rose will fail to flourish in soil where another rose has been. (I believe it’s something to do with nitrates in the soil, but that’s as far as my understanding goes.) In Paul, Louisa thinks she has found the replacement for someone she loved and lost in violent circumstances when she was a girl. It is only when she accepts Paul on his own terms, rather as a simulacrum of someone else, that their relationship begins to deepen and flourish.

Q.  What kind of research did you do for this book?

A. The Essex and London scenes I drew from memory, but to create Kelstice Lodge I visited Kenilworth Castle and other stately gardens. I also read an inspirational book called The Lost Gardens of Heligan by Tim Smit, which described a garden restoration project in Cornwall. I urge everyone to read it: beautifully written, it’s full of fascinating detail and has a wonderful true-life cast of quintessentially British eccentrics. Its romantic, shambolic spirit encapsulates life at Kelstice.

Funnily enough, the more technical knowledge about garden restoration I amassed, the less made it through into the text. What I didn’t do was actually pay any attention to my own little garden in London; I wrote much of The Dark Rose in the summer months, while the grass and weeds grew waist-high.

Q.  In THE DARK ROSE you explore the extremes of obsessive love and loyalty, devotion and desperation, what about these themes inspired you to write about them?

A.  What I have noticed on re-reading the novel is that obsessive love is just the springboard for the real issue; that is, how far we can all be pushed, the extraordinary potential within ordinary people – for good, as well as evil. As in my first novel, The Poison Tree, I’m interested in blurring the boundaries between good and bad, guilty and innocent, and obsessive, desperate love is one way to make people cross borders that previously seemed impassable. Throughout the novel, I also explore the idea of whether guilt can ever be shared, or if one party is always to blame, if it is always a case of strength versus weakness.

Q.  Why did you decide to make the older character a woman? Do you think the story would be received differently had the ages of Paul and Louis been reversed? Was it easier to write the character of Louisa for you?

A.  I did not consciously decide to write a love story between an older woman and a younger man; that’s just what character, and then plot, dictated. Of course, the dynamic would be different if the genders or ages were reversed but then it would not have been such an interesting story to write. Louisa is actually a classic case of arrested development, emotionally stunted and frozen at the age of 19, when her lover died. And Paul is in some ways sensitive and mature for his age, so in that sense it becomes a more equal relationship than the age gap would suggest. Actually, I think that their different upbringings – she comes from money and privilege, his background is far humbler – would be more of a stumbling block than the years between them.

As for writing Paul, there are some details of male adolescence I can only draw from imagination, but I can remember with cringing clarity how it feels to be a sensitive teenager overawed by the opposite sex. 

Thanks to Sonya Cheuse of Viking for the interview and review copy of The Dark Rose. See my review of the Dark Rose

Jan 15, 2012

Book Review: The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly

The Sunday Salon.com

Adam demanded reciprocal worship.

"I recognized you as soon as I saw you," he said, his hands pinning hers to the bed. "We're two of a kind, you and me. Do you know how rare that is? Sometimes it frightens me."

"Me too," she whispered into his mouth. (ch. 12)

The Dark Rose:A Novel by Erin Kelly
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, Viking (February 2, 2012)
Genre: thriller, dark romance

My comments: Louise is a 39-year-old woman with a past, which she escapes by disappearing to work on renovating Tudor ruins and a beautiful garden, far from London. She has a dark secret, one involving her former lover Adam. At the ruins, she meets a young worker, Paul, many years younger than herself, who reminds her strongly of Adam. Paul himself is hiding out, afraid of repercussions after turning in his former cohort who has been charged with murder in London.

Paul and Louisa come together, find what they have in common, and are drawn together in another dark romance. They hide their secrets, plot darkly to save themselves, as their pasts creep up and threaten to destroy them.

An excellently written novel with two interesting plots that come together to form a fascinating third, The Dark Rose is haunting. I recommend it for those who would like a thriller, romance, and a look at the dark side of desire.

About the Author: Erin Kelly is the author of the acclaimed thriller The Poison Tree. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist for ten years. She lives in north London with her family.

GIVEAWAY: I have a second copy of the novel to giveaway to a reader in the U.S., thanks to the publisher. To enter by Jan. 20, leave me a comment with an email address. No post office boxes, please. 

UPDATE: The giveaway was won on Jan. 20 by Sue. Congrats!
Thanks to Sonya Cheuse of Viking for a complimentary review copy and a giveaway copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 12, 2012

Unplanned Library Finds: Jan. 11

I wasn't planning to go the library but to find a laundromat to finish washing wet rugs that had been sitting in my washer when it suddenly went kaput! Maybe it was my fault, I overloaded the machine with rugs and then didn't get to it fast enough when it went bonkers in the spin cycle. So what if the almost 19-year-old washer was going to go out soon anyway; I may have shortened its lifespan by six months or so, I figure.

In any case, I missed the turnoff into the plaza with the laundromat (I haven't been there in two years), and then decided it would be easier to just continue cruising in the traffic toward the library instead of trying to turn around. I went into the library and came out with a DVD and six books I didn't need. Then, I returned to the laundromat, which was time consuming and an all round pain.
Good thing I had a book.....

Here are my library finds:

Tuya's Marriage, a DVD, is described thusly:
"Tuya, hardworking and hardheaded, is a Mongolian desert herder who refuses to be settled in a town in accordance with the new industrialization policy. She is kept busy with two kids, a disabled husband and one hundred sheep to care for, but one day she hurts her back. The only way for the family to survive is for her to divorce her husband on paper and look for a new spouse who can take care of the whole family. A series of suitors lines up, but it s not easy to find a man who fits the bill. This warm, endearing tale, featuring stunning cinematography, won the top prize at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival."  (How did I find this DVD? By looking in the "just returned" stack.)

I also borrowed two books on the short list for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize:
YAN LIANKE, China - Dream of Ding Village (Grove Atlantic)
 JAMIL AHMAD, Pakistan - The Wandering Falcon (Penguin India/Hamish Hamilton
and hope to get to the others that I haven't read as yet, sometime this year.

Then I went to the mystery section and grabbed some cozies, the opiate of (some of) the masses, like myself:

Death of a Greedy Woman by M. C.Beaton, a new Hamish Macbeth mystery set in Scottush highlands. ( I hoped she was greedy for money, or food, or diamonds, but not for reading!)
A Grave in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope (Any mystery with the word "Cotswolds" in it always gets my attention. )
Death in a Difficult Position: A Mantra for Murder Mystery by Diana Killian (I'm due for yoga class tomorrow but will try not to over do it.)

and one more book that is lost somewhere in the house. I will hopefully find it before it's due.

Mantra for Murder Mystery
And what books, fellow bloggers, have you found lately at the library or the bookstore?

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 10, 2012

Shortlist for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2011

The Man Asian Literary Prize  for 2011 has increased its short list from five to seven books.

Dream of Ding Village

2011 Shortlist

JAMIL AHMAD, Pakistan - The Wandering Falcon (Penguin India/Hamish Hamilton)

JAHNAVI BARUA, India - Rebirth (Penguin India/Penguin Books)

RAHUL BHATTACHARYA, India - The Sly Company of People Who Care (Pan Macmillan/Pan Macmillan India/Picador)

AMITAV GHOSH, India - River of Smoke (John Murray/Penguin India/Hamish Hamilton)

KYUNG-SOOK SHIN, South Korea -  Please Look After Mom (Alfred A. Knopf)

YAN LIANKE, China - Dream of Ding Village (Grove Atlantic)

BANANA YOSHIMOTO, Japan - The Lake (Melville House)

Please Look After Mom
I've reviewed Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, and was intensely moved by this very sad but revealing story from South Korea.

I've also listened to most of the audio of River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh, and was fascinated by the historical fiction account of the Opium War and British and Indian involvement.

All of the other books are on my wish list for my several reading challenges.

Book Review: Finding My Balance, a Memoir by Mariel Hemingway

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

"It seems to me that before I discovered meditation I traveled from one want to the next, seeking comfort and joy in winning acting roles and the love of my peers, or even things as trivial as a silk carpet or the perfect physique.... " (ch . 12)

Title: Finding My Balance: A Memoir by Mariel Hemingway
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 30, 2003)
Source: library

Comments: Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of the writer Ernest Hemingway, writes the memoir of life as a member of the famous family and describes how she navigates through the minefield of her life, eventually "Finding My Balance." She uses yoga as a help to reach that goal. Her memoir alone is interesting, but adding yoga to the mix makes the book both useful and informative. At the end of the memoir are detailed instructions for basic yoga moves, with pictures and instructions.

Publisher's description: "Actress Mariel Hemingway uses the lessons and practices of yoga as a starting point for her own personal reflections and a larger-than-life family story. The result is a searingly honest memoir that is firmly practical, as well as a moving narrative of the author's struggle to deal with a complex and often stressful life.

Mariel was the third daughter born to Jack Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's son, and Byra Whittlesey. Her older sister, Muffet, suffered for years from instability, while middle sister Margaux, a celebrated actress and model, eventually died of the effects of her driven lifestyle. Their mother, Byra, was darkly moody and emotionally quixotic, and made no secret of her disdain for her husband, while Jack, himself insecure in no small part because of his celebrated father, a man he never really felt he knew, was an indifferent parent at best.

Even before she was a teenager, Mariel was forced to assume the role of stable center of her family. In just about every way, she never really had a childhood of her own, a situation that was exacerbated by her sudden thrust into celebrity when she was first cast in sister Margaux's film "Lipstick," then in Woody Allen's "Manhattan." Suddenly, Mariel was a movie star."

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 9, 2012

Book Review: Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank

"... here's the guy who allegedly put Charleston on the map again with Porgy and Bess."

What do you mean allegedly?"

"DuBose published the book Porgy in 1925, not the play."

"Then who did, The Gershwins?"

"Nope, the play Porgy appeared on Broadway in 1927. Gershwin's play didn't run until 1934...." (ch. 14)

Title: Folly Beach: A Low Country Tale by Dorothea Benton Frank
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011)
Genre: Southern fiction
Objective rating: 3/5

My comments: Cate Cooper lost her husband to suicide, and finding that she had also lost her home due to her husband's enormous debts, she returns to Folly Beach, South Carolina, the place where she grew up. There she rekindles her love for her old home state, finds new love with John Risley, and finds a hobby delving into local history through the South Carolina Historical Society. Cate's personal story is the background for the more interesting part of the novel.

She researches the history of local writers Dorothy and DuBose Heyward, who wrote the original book, Porgy and then the play in the 1920s. The Heywards collaborated in the 1930s with George Gerswhin, the composer, and produced the famous musical play/opera, Porgy and Bess. Cate also discovers that the talented and more educated Dorothy allowed her husband DuBose to take most of the credit for the book and play, staying in the background while he shone in the limelight as a writer. But through it all, the novel shows the Heywards as a happily married couple and part of the Charleston aristocracy.

Though the author's approach to the story was too nostalgic for someone like me, who has visited Charleston and South Carolina only once, Gerswhin fans and those who like southern fiction will enjoy the setting and the history of some famous people of the state.

Product description: "Folly Beach is considered one of South Carolina's most historic and romantic spots, the land of Cate Cooper's childhood. Cate never thought she'd wind up in this tiny cottage on this lovely strip of coast. But circumstances have changed, thanks to her newly dead husband who has left Cate homeless, broke, and unmoored....

For Cate, Folly holds unexpected fulfillment when she is forced to look again at her life and the zany characters that are her family. She finds that you can go home again. "

List of all TLC reviews: Folly Beach tour stops
A review copy of this book was provided through TLC Book Tours.

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 7, 2012

Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge 2012- I've Joined

I will keep track of my mystery reviews this year by once again joining the Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge hosted by Book Chick City. Head on over to sign up! Read 12 or 24 books to complete the challenge.

Here are my books so far. Click on the titles to see the reviews.

1. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
2. The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly
3. Oath of Office by Michael Palmer
4. The Barbary Dogs: A Mystery by Cynthia Robinson
5. The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb
6. The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark
7.  Raylan: A Novel by Elmore Leonard
8. Paydirt by Paul Levine
9. Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey
10. No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie
11. Double Booked for Death by Ali Brandon
12. Helpless by Daniel Palmer
13. Fashion Faux Paw by Judi McCoy
14. The Hope Vendetta by Scott Mariani
15. To Catch a Leaf: A Flower Shop Mystery by Kate Collins
16. The Probability of Murder by Ada Madison
17. The Expats: A Novel by Chris Pavone
18. Shore Excursion by Marie Moore
19. The Big Kitty by Claire Donally
20. From the Ashes by Jeremy Burns
21. The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks
23. Murder Buys a T-Shirt by Christy Fifield
24. The Scarlet Pepper by Dorothy St. James
25. Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay
26. Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton (read but not reviewed)
27. A Spirited Gift by Joyce and Jim Lavene (read but not reviewed)
28.  Home for a Spell by Madelyn Alt (read but not reviewed)
29. Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta by Carol Nelson Douglas
30. An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
31. The Fear Artist by Timothy Hallinan
32. Tahoe Trap by Todd Berg
33. Broken Harbor by Tana French
34. The Playdate by Louise Millar
35. And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman
36. A Sinister Sense by Allison Kingsley
37. A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn
38. The Book Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
40. Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
41. Allergic to Death by Peg Cochran
42. Rally 'Round the Corpse by Hy Conrad
43. Cat Bearing Gifts by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Jan 6, 2012

Book Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
About the plot: Amateur sleuth and budding chemist, Flavia de Luce, age 11, makes friends with famous actress Phyllis Wyvern, who arrives with cast and crew at Flavia's historic mansion home in the middle of winter to do scenes for a new film. The de Luce family are in financial straits and have "rented" out part of their huge ancestral home to the film company over the Christmas holidays.

Besides fending off the gibes and malicious teasing of her teenage sisters, Flavia watches the goings on of the film crew and actors staying in the mansion, and later on, does her own investigation of a murder that takes place in the house, during a blizzard that traps everyone indoors for days. Her one reliable friend is her father's old army friend, all-purpose handyman and helper, Dogger.

"No need to explain. Older sisters are much alike the world over: half a cup of love and half one of contempt."
I couldn't have put it better myself.
"My sister's the same," she said. "Six years older?"
I nodded.
"Mine, too. I see we have a great deal more in common than a taste for horrific murder, Flavia de Luce." (ch. 3)

Comments: Flavia is always a delightful if very young but astute protagonist in this mystery series. This is the 4th book and Flavia seems to have grown up quite a bit, doing investigations and research and making observations that are quite advanced for her age. At other times she is very much a child, however, and still is not sure if Santa Claus exists or not. Her experiment to "trap" Santa as he climbs down the chimney on Christmas Eve ties in nicely with the mystery plot and provides a setting for good suspense in the investigation.

You will like this recent Flavia de Luce mystery if you suspend disbelief for a while and enjoy the antics and crime solving skills of a precocious 11-year-old.

Title: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan  Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press, hardcover
Publication: November 1, 2011
Genre: mystery; Source: library
Rating: 4/5

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 4, 2012

Book Review : Poser, my life in twenty-three yoga poses by Claire Dederer

"You girls, you take everything so seriously," said my mother. "You make it so hard on yourselves. When our children were little, we weren't so worried about everything. We liked to have a good time." (ch. 4)

Book description: Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out while breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love.

Over the next decade, she would tackle triangle, wheel, and the dreaded crow, becoming fast friends with some poses and developing long-standing feuds with others. At the same time, she found herself confronting the forces that shaped her generation. Daughters of women who ran away to find themselves and made a few messes along the way, Dederer and her peers grew up determined to be good, good, good—even if this meant feeling hemmed in by the smugness of their organic-buying, attachment-parenting, anxiously conscientious little world. Yoga seemed to fit right into this virtuous program, but to her surprise, Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife—and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy."

Comments: Claire Dederer says about her memoir Poser, "This book was inspired by my mother and her life." Claire and her brother Dave grew up in a nontraditional family, since her mother left her home and her husband when her two children were young and took them with her to live with Larry, a much younger man. Over the years, the families on both sides came to live with this unusual arrangement. Claire's parents refused to divorce and continued to be "married" while they lived separate lives.

Though Claire admits that growing up with this arrangement did not really damage her or her brother, she concludes that her mother's life may have both liberated her, Claire, from living a conventional life as a young adult, and helped form her as a mother and wife who had to do everything the right way, no matter what. The discovery and the practice of yoga helped to show Claire what lay inside her subconscious, underneath the outward layers where she was being the perfect person and mother.

I loved reading about her journey to self-realization and, as a beginning yoga enthusiast, ate up the detailed descriptions of the 23 different yoga poses that she melded into the story of her life - her life as a child growing up in two different households, as an adventurous and unorthodox young adult, and as an overly-dedicated married woman and mother.

Title: Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer
Published: December 21, 2010
Genre: memoir
Source: library
My rating - 4.5/5

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 3, 2012

Book Review: The Thread, A Novel by Victoria Hislop

Title: The Thread: A Novel by Victoria Hislop
Headline Review (2011), Hardcover, 400 pages
Genre: historical fiction
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Book description: Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, a fire sweeps through the thriving multicultural city, where Christians, Jews and Moslems live side by side. It is the first of many catastrophic events that will change for ever this city, as war, fear and persecution begin to divide its people. Five years later, young Katerina escapes to Greece when her home in Asia Minor is destroyed by the Turkish army. Losing her mother in the chaos, she finds herself on a boat to an unknown destination. From that day the lives of Dimitri and Katerina become entwined, with each other and with the story of the city itself.

Thessaloniki, 2007. A young Anglo-Greek hears the life story of his grandparents for the first time and realises he has a decision to make. For many decades, they have looked after the memories and treasures of people who have been forcibly driven from their beloved city. Should he become their new custodian? Should he stay or should he go? ((publisher)

My comments: I valued this novel both for the excellent story telling and the historical research on the city of Thessaloniki, Greece during fire, war, and earthquake. We follow the life of Katerina, from her forced evacuation from her home in Asia Minor to a chance landing in Thessaloniki, where she and her "adoptive" mother are helped to find a new home, and where Katherina becomes a successful seamstress. The story continues with their lives before and during WWII, their friendship with other families, and the invasion of the city by German troops. Katerina becomes closer to her childhood friend Dimitri, whose life is only saved during the war when he joins the resistance and fights in the mountains away from Thessaloniki. Their stories are deeply entwined with the story of the city and of Greece during and after this period.

This book was printed in hardcover and as an ebook on October 27, 2011 by the Headline Publishing Company in London. It will be available in paperback in July 2012.

A complimentary copy of this book was sent to me for possible review.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission.

Jan 2, 2012

100 + Books in a Year - I Joined!

Head over to Book Chick City to join this challenge. I found I read more than 100 books in 2012, when I tallied them up, so I'm taking this challenge this year. I'll be listing them on this post to help me keep track!

1. 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal, self-help
2. The Poser: my life in twenty-three yoga poses by Claire Dederer, memoir
3. Finding My Balance: A Memoir by Mariel Hemingway
4. Breakthrough: the 5 Living Principles to Defeat Stress, Look Great, & Find Total Well-Being by Shea Vaughn
5. Living Fully by Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, Buddhism and philosophy
6. We're With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics by Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian
7. Everyday Meditation: 100 Daily Meditations by Tobin Blake
8. A Place of Yes by Bethenny Frankel, self-help
9. The Sexy Vegan Cookbook by Brian L. Patton
10. Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole, memoir
11. Conscious Calm by Laura Maciuika, self-help
12. Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
13. The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner
14. Pilgrimage to the End of the World by Conrad Rudolph, travel memoir
15. Lucky Child by Loung Ung, memoir
16. In My Father's Country by Saima Wahab, memoir
17. Lulu in the Sky by Loung Ung, memoir
18. The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschalk
19. Listening to Africa: Poems by Diana M. Raab
20. Charlie: A Love Story by Barbara Lampert
21. The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzberg
22. Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf
23. Street Freak by Jared Dillian
24. Following Atticus by Tom Ryan
25. The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
26. The Great Animal Orchestra by Bernie Krause

1. The Thread by Victoria Hislop, historical fiction
2. Folly Beach:  a Low Country Tale by Dorothea Benton Frank
3. My Evangeline by Heidi Radford Legg, literary fiction
4. The Moment: A Novel by Douglas Kennedy, historical fiction, romance
5. Once Upon a Time, There Was You by Elizabeth Berg, women's fiction
6. Bond Girl: A Novel by Erin Duffy, contemporary fiction
7. Walter's Muse: A Novel by Jean Davies Okimoto
8. Other Waters by Eleni N. Gage
9. Gossip by Beth Gutcheon
10. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
11. Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini
12. Daughters by Elizabeth Buchan
13. The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel by Adriani Trigiani
14. More Like Her by Liza Palmer
15. Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge (read but not reviewed)
16. Ninepins by Rosy Thornton
17. The Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse
18. The Dog That Talked to God by Jim Kraus
19. The White Pearl: A Novel by Kate Furnivall
20. Skeleton Women by Mingmei Yip
21. The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair
22. Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready
23. Skios by Michael Frayn
24. Gone by Cathi Hanauer
25. The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam
26. Flesh by Khanh Ha
27. The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch
28. Across the Mekong River by Elaine Russell
29. Keepsake by Kristina Riggle
30. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
31. A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvete Edwards
32. Gold by Chris Cleave
33. What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang
34. Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson
35. The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson
36. The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O'Brien
37. The Bracelet by Roberta Gately
38. The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla
39. The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills
40. The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
41. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
42. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
43. The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson
44. How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
45. The Nightingale Girls by Donna Douglas
46. The Pleasure Palace by Kate Emerson
47. The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo
48. The Language of Sisters by Amy Hatvany
49. The Playgroup by Janey Fraser
50. APatchwork Marriage by Jane Green

1. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, a Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
2. The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly
3. Oath of Office by Michael Palmer
4. The Barbary Dogs: A Mystery by Cynthia Robinson
5.The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb
6. The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark
7. Raylan: A Novel by Elmore Leonard
8. Paydirt by Paul Levine
9. Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey
10. No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie
11. Double Booked for Death by Ali Brandon
12. Helpless by Daniel Palmer
13. Fashion Faux Paw by Judi McCoy
14. The Hope Vendetta by Scott Mariani
15. To Catch a Leaf: A Flower Shop Mystery by Kate Collins
16. The Probability of Murder by Ada Madison
17. The Expats: A Novel by Chris Pavone
18. Shore Excursion by Marie Moore
19. Lucifer's Tears by Jim Thompson
20. The Big Kitty by Claire Donally
21. From the Ashes by Jeremy Burns
22.  The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks
23. Murder Buys a T-Shirt by Christy Fifield
24. The Scarlet Pepper by Dorothy St. James
25. Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay
26. Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton (read but not reviewed)
27. A Spirited Gift by Joyce and Jim Lavene (read but not reviewed)
28.  Home for a Spell by Madelyn Alt (read but not reviewed)
29. Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta by Carol Nelson Douglas
30. An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
31. The Fear Artist by Timothy Hallinan
32. Tahoe Trap by Todd Berg
33. Broken Harbor by Tana French
34. The Playdate by Louise Millar
35. And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman
36. A Sinister Sense by Allison Kingsley
37. A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn
38. The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
39. Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
40. Allergic to Death by Peg Cochran
41. Rally 'Round the Corpse by Hy Conrad
42. Cat Bearing Gifts by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
43. Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Macneal
44. The Incense Game by Laura Joh Rowland
45. Not My Blood by Barbara Cleverly
46. Desert Wives by Betty Webb
47. Going to the Bad by Nora McFarland
48. Discretion by Allison Leotta
49. The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall
50. In a Witch's Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell
51. An Unexpected Guest by Ann Korkeakivi
52. One Red Bastard by Ed Lin
53. Livin' Lahaina Loca by JoAnn Bassett

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...