Oct 31, 2012

Haunted Halloween Reads

Halloween Murder Halloween Murder by Shelley Freydont

I've reprinted a post from October 2009. The books are still good in 2012! 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
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie
Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas

Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McEvett
Trick or Treat Murder by Leslie Meier
Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier
Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

Click on the titles for book descriptions. What are some of your favorite Halloween books?

I found a Halloween mystery set in Hawaii, Livin' Lahaina Loca by JoAnn Bassett, sitting in my Kindle:



...I whirled around and came nose-to-nose with a plastic mask sporting an impish grin and saucer-sized black ears. Halloween night in Lahaina, Maui. The happiest place on earth for a cartoon mouse looking to cop a feel. 
"You don't wanna go there," I said, grabbing the groper's forearm just above the white four-fingered glove. 
Book description: "It's Halloween in Lahaina Town, Maui and the Mardi Gras of the Pacific is in full swing... But wedding planner Pali Moon isn't in costume--she's on a mission. A bridesmaid has vanished and Pali's canvassing Front Street, hoping to spot a girl with long red hair and a lingerie model's figure. No luck. Back at her car, Pali opens the door and finds the remnants of a bizarre trick or treat stunt. Turns out, Halloween in Lahaina isn't just a night for island high-jinx, it's also a night for vengeance."

I have just discovered Kindle Cloud Reader. I might start reading this one and more of my Kindle books after all.

Oct 27, 2012

What An Animal Reading Challenge: Completed

The challenge, What An Animal Reading Challenge V, began March 1, 2012 and will end on February 28, 2013. I completed my goals this month by reading more than six animal related books!

Visit the challenge website hosted by Yvonne of Socrates Book Review Blog for the complete rules and to sign up with Mr. Linky!

Here are the books I have completed. Click on the titles for details/reviews.


1. Roam by Alan Lazar

2. Fashion Faux Paw: A Dog Walker's Mystery by Judi McCoy - reviewed.

3. To Catch a Leaf: A Flower Shop Mystery by Kate Collins

4. The Big Kitty by Claire Donally

5.The Dog That Talked to God by Jim Kraus

6. Tahoe Trap by Todd Borg

7.  A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn

8. Following Atticus by Tom Ryan

9. Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson

Novels of Erotica




Reflected in You by Sylvia Day, Lace by Shirley Conran, and The Pleasures of Winter by Evie Hunter all showed up on my doorstep recently, courtesy of the mail. I gather that erotic romances are all the rage, especially in England, after Fifty Shades of Grey came out. Now here are some in the same genre, by other writers, sent to me courtesy of the publishers.

I haven 't read Fifty Shades of Grey and don't plan to read these either, though Lace has my attention not as erotica but as the republishing of a "scandalous bestseller that defined a generation."  (publisher's description).

Have you read any of these? If so, what do you suggest?

Oct 26, 2012

Book Review: The King's Damsel by Kate Emerson

Title: The King's Damsel: Secrets of the Tudor Court, No. 5
Author: Kate Emerson
Paperback, August 7, 2012; Gallery Books
Genre: historical fiction

I'm giving this a 4.5 rating, not just for this new book but for the entire series - five books! Great storytelling and weaving of romance into 16th century English history - the Tudor Court and its customs, intrigue, and of course, it's ladies.

The series has as its main characters minor ladies at court who served the Tudor queens in some capacity, mostly as ladies in waiting. Their observations and experiences as well as their personal stories give us an inside look at the complex life of the Tudors, in particular Henry VIII, his forbears, relatives, and the men and women who serve and surround him.

In The King's Damsel, Kate Emerson has given a name to an unknown woman referred to in historical letters as "the handsome young lady of the court" and the "damsel" that was a beloved of Henry VIII. This woman was also a faithful friend of Princess Mary, the king's daughter by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Emerson named her  character Thomasine (Tamsin) Lodge and filled in her story as a wealthy heiress sent to the royal court by her guardian to serve first Princess Mary and later, Anne Boleyn, who became Queen Anne, the second wife of Henry VIII.

At court, Tamsin spies for Princess Mary while serving as a lady in waiting for Queen Anne, sending secret messages about the goings on at court that could affect the Princess's claim as rightful heir to the throne. Tamsin also becomes the king's mistress, supposedly to try to influence him to favor his first daughter, whom Anne Boleyn wants to see disinherited in favor of her own child, Elizabeth.

So many tangled connections in the plot, but they are intriguing and the main characters do stand out. It also helps if you remember your English history.

I recommend this series to all lovers of historical fiction and Tudor history. This is the first series I've read set in this period and I must say it was worth reading all the books. I still have the fourth to finish, At the King's Pleasure, but enjoyed The Pleasure Palace, Between Two Queens, By Royal Decree, and this latest, The King's Damsel.  Happily, the novels don't have to be read in consecutive order.

Thanks to the publisher for complimentary copies of the books for my objective review.  

Oct 23, 2012

How To Love Wine by Eric Asimov

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers.

No longer did it seem advisable to me to pick bottles randomly at wine shops and to drink them without thought. Clearly I needed help. (p. 151)
How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto by Eric Asimov
Published October 16, 2012; William Morrow hardcover

Book description: Eric Asimov, the acclaimed chief wine critic for the New York Times, has written a combination memoir and manifesto, How to Love Wine. Asimov tells how he went from writing beer reviews for his high school newspaper on Long Island to the most coveted job in the industry. He evaluates the current wine culture, discussing trends both interesting and alarming, and celebrates the extraordinary pleasures of wine while, at the same time, questioning the conventional wisdom about wine. Throughout, he incorporates in-depth discussions of beautiful wines, both easy to find and rare. (goodreads)

Oct 21, 2012

Sunday Salon: Autumn Reads

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

I seem to be reading more during this cool weather, in between taking rides to see the changing leaves and to buy pumpkins from local farms. Got some local fruit preserves for gifts and pumpkin bread for myself!

I finished reading Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Ella Macneal, though I flipped through the last third of the mystery novel, impatient for the ending and feeling the book was too padded after a very good first half.

I felt the same about Forgotten by Catherine Mckenzie, an excellent book and plot but padded with  drawn out conversation for pages and pages later on. I also flipped to the end after enjoying the plot lines of the book as laid out in the first half.


Lest you think I'm just an overly impatient reader, I'm reading every word of Joseph Kanon's Istanbul Passage, a thriller and novel of intrigue set in post-WWII Istanbul, featuring international spies and people runners trying to wrap up the frayed edges of the end of the war. I'm in the middle of the book and don't feel impelled or the least bit inclined to flip to the end!

Backyard maple makes a statement
What books have captured your attention this fall?




Oct 19, 2012

Book to Movie: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I saw the trailer last week for the upcoming movie The Life of Pi based on the book by Yann Martel. Directed by Ang Lee, it premiered in September at the New York Film Festival.  The trailer was dramatic, showing a young Indian boy on a raft with a fierce tiger for company, in the middle of the ocean. It made me curious about the book and of course about the movie.

Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the book is expected to be  a good film, with Ang Lee and his history of cinematic successes such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Eat Drink Man Woman.

 Publisher's book description:  "Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks.

Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again.

The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?  Life of Pi is a realistic adventure tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction."

Author Yan Martel calls the movie version "sumptious," in his comments. I am slowly reading this book at the library, hoping to finish before the film arrives here next month.

Oct 18, 2012

Book Review/Tour: Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson

Title: Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know
Authors: Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson
Sourcebooks: April 1, 2012

There are 115 humorous essays by dogs who reveal their feelings and thoughts and tell on their owners, many of whom don't really understand or know what their dogs really think about them.

The essays are all told in the first person by the dogs in question and readers will nod their heads in sympathy and understanding, or shake their heads with humor and surprise.

Such are the two page essays that reveal each dog's personality, likes and dislikes, and gripes. They also try to explain their behavior, such as why they eat grass, wag their tails, why one ate the sofa, etc. There is a picture to go with each dog's essay, so we can see what the dog speaker/thinker looks like.

Here are some excerpts from the essays:

1. Bandana the Border Collie wants to tell his owners: "I Raised Your Kids." "For a few years, I was as smart as those two, maybe smarter. It took me a lot less time to get house-broken. Also walking. In fact, I'm the one who taught them. They didn't take their first stumbling steps running to you. No. They were running from me."

2. Tinkerbell the Chihuaha wants her owner to know she is a dog, not a person: " The first time you said it, I thought it was a joke. "Tink doesn't know she's a dog. She thinks she's people." Margo, sweetie, that's just wrong.... For a while I went along. I wore the costumes; I shook hands; I joined your Facebook page: I drank melon swizzles and sang karaoke."

3. Alexrod the Yellow Lab doesn't understand his human's behavior: "Why is it okay for you to pee in the house? Also, why is it okay for me to pee against a tree but not for your brother when he drinks too much beer?"

You get the idea - the life of dogs with their humans, from the dogs' point of view. A clever and humorous book for those who own pets and even for those who don't but who want to understand why so many people adore pets, especially dogs.

For more reviews, visit the tour schedule.
About the authors: 

HY CONRAD was one of the original writers for the series, Monk, working on the show for all eight seasons, the final two as Co-Executive Producer.  His latest TV work was as writer and Consulting Producer for White Collar.
Hy is also the author of short stories and books of short whodunits, which have been sold in fourteen languages.  Hy’s first mystery novel series, Abel Adventures, will debut in 2012 with Rally ‘Round the Corpse.  He lives in Key West and Vermont with his partner and two miniature schnauzers. (www.hyconrad.com)
JEFF JOHNSON spent most of his working life in advertising agencies, currently as General Manager of Cramer-Krasselt in New York City.  He is the author of The Hourglass Solution:  A Boomer’s Guide to the Rest of Your Life and co-authors a national online advice column called Short Answers.  Jeff lives in Vermont and Key West and is on the Board of Directors of the Waterfront Playhouse and the Florida Keys SPCA.


For the book's website, visit www.thingsyourdog.com
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the authors for a review copy of the book.

Oct 17, 2012

Book Review: Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf

Title: Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness by Brian Leaf
Published October 9, 2012; New World Library
Genre: yoga memoir

I don't have colitis and don't think I have ADD, but  I often forget where I put my keys, purse, current book, and sometimes even my shoes. This is not to say I am always a scatter brain, but I have my moments.

This book did tell me a little more than I already knew about yoga basics, and it did give me very practical tips for getting through daily life without anxiety. Here is an example: If I make a list of all the things I want to do during the day and follow it, that will avoid any frantic activity on my part about what I should do next among all the things I want to do in life. A list will narrow down what I can choose to do in that one day. Whew!

Next, advice on how to live in the moment so I don't worry about the past and agonize over the future was a big help for me. For meditation, the techniques are simple - if your mind wanders, simply count breaths, or try to feel the breath passing back and forth between your nose and lip. That will focus your attention for sure,  and keep you in the present. Brian also found out his inner feelings through meditation. A great big plus for the practice of yoga. What I learned: if you don't really know what you want to do in a situation, meditate on it.

If not meditating and you are still in a tizzy, you can simply ask yourself, "What is most real?" in that moment. Focus on what you are doing, feeling and experiencing. It could be as simple as saying to yourself, "I am walking; I am eating an apple; I hear a car door closing; children are shouting in the street." That focus will keep you in the present and out of trouble with the past and the future, for sure.

Of course, there is much, much more to this book....and I have simplified and shortened everything as well as put my own spin on it, commenting on what I found most useful. Brian Leaf says it much better than I can ever hope to, as he has been perfecting and working on mastering these for years. Want to know more? Read the book. You will also find out what Brian had to cope with and how he managed to do it with the help of yoga.

There is a sample yoga practice, plus meditation and relaxation techniques, and an Ayurvedic Constitutional Survey in the back of the book.

About the author: Brian Leaf is the owner and director of the New Leaf Learning Center in Massachusetts. He has studied, practiced, and taught yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda for 23 years. Information: www.misadventures-of-a-yogi.com

I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher.

Opening Sentences: A Fatal Stain by Elise Hyatt


Opening sentences can give readers a taste of a writer's style and content. Here are the beginning sentences from the cozy mystery, A Fatal Stain :

The first time I tried to run away from home, I was three. I'd packed all my comic books and a bag of cookies in a book bag emblazoned with Remembered Murder, the name of my parents' bookstore in Goldport Colorado, and I had made it all the way down to the bus station, where I realized I didn't have the money for a ticket. I'd sat quietly in a corner bench and eaten my cookies and read my comics until my grandmother noticed I was missing and came to find me.

Title: A Fatal Stain : A Daring Finds Mystery by Elise Hyatt

Published October 2, 2012; Berkley paperback

Book description: Candyce "Dyce" Dare, owner of the furniture refinishing business Daring Finds, finds a disturbing stain on a table that she suspects is blood. Dyce discovers that the table’s previous owner has gone missing—and once more is drawn into a solve-it-yourself mystery project.

Oct 16, 2012

Book Review: The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzman


Title: The Man in the Empty Boat by Mark Salzman
Published February 14, 2012; paperback by Open Road
Genre: memoir

Easy reading, smooth writing. This memoir shows the writer reaching his philosophy of life - man  as an empty boat rocked, nudged, and moved by cosmic forces that are outside of his control.

Mark Salzman records and comments on the events in his life that lead him to the conclusion that we are not really in control of our lives, since our genes, the environment, social conditioning, events that happen to us, and so on, dictate who we are, what we become, and what we can or cannot do.

Mark inherits his family's tendency to depression and anxiety. A recurring back injury forces him to abandon the martial arts that he studied. A successful book (which I have read and liked), Iron and Silk, resulted from his experience teaching English and learning martial arts in China.  Since then, however, he has had trouble producing a book that his publisher will accept, until now.

A breakthrough came, a revelation that helps him explain his life and the tragedy of his family dynamics that includes a death in the family. The one stability in his life is his wife, Jessica Yu, a film director, and his two young daughters. Mark concludes that cosmic forces and nature control life and that he is just a Man in an Empty Boat, being moved around by the tides, with no input from him on a change of course or direction. A fatalistic point of view that somehow helps relieve the anxieties of life.

I found this "philosophical"view particularly Asian or Buddhist, as Buddhism sees life as predetermined or predestined. However, Mark professes to no religion. For an enlightening memoir, thoughts on life and how he coped with anxieties, do read The Man in the Empty Boat. I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars.

A complimentary copy of this book was sent to me for review.


Oct 14, 2012

Sunday Salon: Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

Iced Chiffon
I saw Iced Chiffon (Berkley paperback; October 2, 2012) featured so many times on blogs that I thought I was missing out on a good cozy by not reading it right away.  I like the main character, Reagan, who is a young woman turned sleuth, down on her luck, recently divorced, and trying to renovate her home, a Victorian house that she has turned into a consignment shop, the Prissy Fox.

Reagan's ex-husband Hollis has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend and employee, Cupcake, and Reagan may lose her Victorian home if Hollis decides to take it back and  use the money to pay his lawyer to get him off the hook. Reagan wants to keep the house and decides to solve the murder herself.

So far, so good. Lots of humor and Savannah atmosphere, Southern style food, dress, and manners. I'm enjoying this cozy. Of course, there is romance simmering beneath the icy exchanges with Hollis's handsome lawyer, Walker Boone.

Also on the agenda, a wholesome breakfast and a matinee, Argo. I've heard good things about Ben Affleck's movie and hope to see it this afternoon.

What are your reading plans for the day, the week?

Oct 12, 2012

New Women's Fiction: Things Remembered; Forgotten

Things Remembered
Things Remembered

Returning to her childhood home in the hills of Northern California, Karla Esterbrook can't refuse her ailing grandmother, Anna, who asks for help to settle her affairs.

Anna raised Karla and her younger sisters after their parents' death twenty years before. But from the beginning a clash of wills separated Karla and her grandmother, leaving them both bitter and angry. (book description)




Forgotten
Forgotten

If your old life vanished completely, should you try to get it back or create a whole new one? 

Forgotten is the story of a woman who returns home after being stranded for months in Africa by an earthquake only to find that everyone in her life believed she was dead and have moved on.  (book description)

I'm eager to read these two paperback novels from William Morrow,  released this month. 

Oct 11, 2012

Guest Post: Lucinda Riley, author of The Girl on the Cliff



Title: The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
To be released October 30 by Atria Books
Genre: Irish fiction


The Girl on the Cliff – The Inspiration by Lucinda Riley

It’s always a location, or a house and the atmosphere surrounding it, that inspires inside me those first seeds which eventually germinate into a book. This was very much the case with ‘The Girl on the Cliff’.

I was born and lived in Ireland on the West Cork coast and I loved its wildness and isolation. ‘Extreme’ locations are always exciting to me because they are dramatic and of course, romantic. The thought of a vulnerable child, barefoot and alone during the Atlantic storms that used to break with such fury when I lived there with my own small children, gave me the character of ‘Aurora’, the narrator of the book. I wanted to make her ‘other-wordly’ and ephemeral, almost part of the intense, dramatic scenery which surrounded her when she was born.

I will confess that Aurora is the first character I’ve ever written who is basically ‘me’. I poured my soul into her – something I’ve never done before in one of my books. All my beliefs, hopes and fears; a lot of my life - I’m an ex-ballerina who got so sick I was bedridden and had to ‘use my mind, not my body, to express myself’ – is in there . Yes, like her, I’ve seen ghosts and angels and believe in the ‘afterlife’. I’ve suffered terrible loss , as most of us have at some point in our lives, but still believe, as Aurora says, that ‘love and faith and goodness and hope’ will win the day. And that human nature, for the most part, is intrinsically ‘good’. Otherwise, we wouldn’t still be here on the planet – we’d all have murdered each other thousands of years ago! This book is so personal, it’s painful. Basically, if readers reject Aurora, they are rejecting me!

Some readers may find Aurora’s spiritualism and endless positivity in the face of adversity irritating. But, the US dollar bill itself has ‘In God We Trust’ written on it … yet, to my knowledge, no-one has ever managed to take a photograph or interview him! As Aurora says, ‘just remember, there’s no proof either way. So I choose to believe. It’s much the best option.’ I’m not into any particular organised religion, by the way, I just believe in a power higher than us humans, and am humble enough to realise there is so much we can never understand. Who/what energy created the Big Bang in the first place …? No-one knows. So, it’s pretty obvious this book is not for ‘cynics’ who don’t believe in a ‘higher level’, or that the world is fundamentally a bad place. Redemption and some level of forgiveness is always a possibility, if not an actuality in some cases. And that is the rock-bed from which all my stories and characters come. And besides Aurora, there is a huge, intricate family story, spanning over 100 years. There are characters, good and bad, that pepper the plot.

Also, in ‘The Girl on the Cliff’, I’ve explored the fact that, as one grows older, the seesaw of pain and joy of the human condition become more stark. During the writing of the novel, I became fascinated by ‘the fairytale’, which all modern romantic novels are a derivative of. In particular, the ‘happy ending’, which every fairytale contains and is in fact, an integral part of their beauty. Yet, what happens after the ‘Happy Ever After’? And how to write an ending, given the depth of the characters involved in ‘The Girl on the Cliff’, in which the conclusion is both satisfying and moving?

In conclusion, ‘The Girl on the Cliff’ has all the ingredients of ‘The Orchid House’: the ‘big story’, a dual narrative and locations which fire my imagination, yet I hope I have added a new dimension, a depth and realism in the storyline which isn’t trite or contrived. In this book, more than any other story I’ve written, the characters demanded to be heard and I gave them their voice.


The Girl on the Cliff book description: From New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.

Despite warnings Grania receives to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through old family letters dating from 1914, Grania learns their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet leave its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora who may be able to unlock the chains of the past.

Lucinda Riley is the bestselling author of The Orchid House. Born in Ireland, she lives in the English countryside and in France with her family.

Oct 10, 2012

The Incense Game by Laura Joh Rowland

"The incense game begins," Usugumo said. The sisters sat up straighter, like warriors preparing for battle. "Listen to the incense. Let its voice tell you who it is."  
She set the celadon bowl on the floor between her and the elder sister and bowed.
Title: The Incense Game: A Novel of Feudal Japan
Author: Laura Joh Rowland
Published September 18, 2012; Minotaur Books hardcover
Genre: historical mystery

Book description: "In the wake of a terrifying earthquake, Sano Ichiro races to solve a crime that could bring down the shogun's regime.

When a massive earthquake devastates Japan in 1703, even the shogun's carefully regulated court is left teetering on the brink of chaos. This is no time for a murder investigation—except when a nobleman's daughters are found dead from incense poisoning and their father threatens to topple the regime unless Sano Ichiro tracks down the killer.

With the help of his wife, Reiko, and his chief retainer, Hirata, Sano begins a secret investigation that jeopardizes his whole family."

I enjoyed this historical mystery set in 18th century Japan and rated 4 stars!

Oct 8, 2012

Book Review: What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang

Title: What the Zhang Boys Know: A Novel in Stories
Author: Clifford Garstang
Paperback published October 1, 2012; Press 53
Objective rating: 5/5

There are twelve short stories making up this novel, featuring the residents of the Nanking Mansion condominium at the edge of Washington D.C.'s Chinatown.

Comments: These are moving stories of lives accidentally touching through close proximity in the condominium of a busy cosmopolitan city. I found it excellent writing and story telling, realistic, with a framework that is perfect for these stories of urban life.

Linking the residents together are the Zhang boys, the two children of Zhang and his deceased American wife, Maddie. The children see and hear and observe a lot about the condominium residents, even though they might not fully understand everything, being quite young, one just starting kindergarten and the other not yet old enough for preschool. Simon and Wesley are often playing in the corridors or on the stairs, or might wander down into the basement, and so are in contact with the condo residents. Many befriend the boys, who may get a piece of chocolate or even dollar bills to be quiet and not tell anyone about some of the little things they come across, see, and may know.

At the beginning of the book, Mr. Zhang takes the boys to bring back their grandfather from China, to help take care of them. His friend Jessica comes over to help too, and is expected to one day fill the gap left by the boys' mother. But the boys, too young to understand death, expect their mother to come home any day. At one point, they leave home together, to try to find her in the streets of the busy city.

Book synopsis: The stories spotlight Zhang’s neighbors as they seek to fill gaps in their own lives: the young bookseller diagnosed with a life-threatening illness; the young lawyer trying to cope with a failed marriage; the obsessive painter haunted by the image of a face; the middle-aged woman forced to sell her possessions in order to survive; the sculptor, overwhelmed by longing for the son he didn’t know he had. And then there are the Zhang boys, who firmly believe that their mother is coming back. What is it that they know? (book description)


Clifford Garstang is the author of the story collection In an Uncharted Country and co-founder and editor of Prime Number Magazine. He is also author of the literary blog Perpetual Folly. Garstang served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea and practiced international law in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Singapore. Subsequently, he worked as a legal reform consultant in Almaty, Kazakhstan and was Senior Counsel for East Asia at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Garstang teaches creative writing at Writers.com and elsewhere.

He currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
For other book reviews, visit TLC Book Tour for What the Zhang Boys Know.
Submitted to Immigrant Stories Challenge 2012

Oct 4, 2012

Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf

Maybe a little bit unorthodox, but a fun memoir, especially for those who do yoga or want to find out more about getting the most out of yoga.

Chapter 2:
" I wanted to practice and study yoga as much as possible, so I incorporated it into my Georgetown classes in every way that I could. For philosophy class, I wrote a paper entitled "Was Plato the Founder of Yoga?".... And for Catholic imagination class I wrote "Did Jesus Do Yoga?" 

There are yoga practice hints throughout the memoir and appendices with sample yoga practices, meditation techniques, guided relaxation tips, and Ayurvedic recomendations for a healthy lifestyle.

Title: Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness by Brian Leaf will be released October 9, 2012.

About the author: Brian Leaf is the owner and director of the New Leaf Learning Center in Massachusetts. He has studied, practiced, and taught yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda for 23 years. Information: www.misadventures-of-a-yogi.com

I received a review copy of the memoir from the publisher, New World Library.

Oct 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Last Rose of Summer





Wordless Wednesday:The last rose of summer has a Georgia O'Keefe feel about it.


The Last Rose of Summer
  Thomas Moore(1779–1852)

’TIS the last rose of summer
  Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
  Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,


  No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
  To give sigh for sigh.
I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
  To pine on the stem;


Since the lovely are sleeping,
  Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
  Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden


  Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow,
  When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
  The gems drop away.


When true hearts lie withered
  And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
  This bleak world alone?

Oct 2, 2012

By Royal Decree by Kate Emerson: Book Teaser

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.


Title: Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree
Author: Kate Emerson
Published December 4, 2010; Gallery paperback

"Stubborn fools, you and Will both, to live in hope of a royal decree." (ch. 18)

The last wife of Henry VIII of England, Katherine Parr, gives harsh advice to one of her ladies of the court, Elizabeth Brooks, who is in love with Queen Katherine's brother, Will Parr, the new Earl of Essex. Will is divorced by Parliamentary decree from his unfaithful wife but has to remain single as long as his former wife lives, unless otherwise decided by the king, that is, overruled by royal decree.

I'm on chapter 20 of this third book in the Secrets of the Tudor Court historical series, having finished the The Pleasure Palace, and Between Two Queens. There are two more books in the series, At the King's Pleasure and the most recent, The King's Damsel. Based on life at the Tudor court of Henry VIII, the novels feature the lives of several noblewomen who are called to court at different times to serve the queen of the moment - there are six queens in all during Henry's tumultuous reign. Descriptions of the life of the 16th century court, its manners, dress, customs, and intrigue are deftly folded into the plots.

Thanks to the publisher for sending all five books for possible review.

About the author: 
Kate Emerson was born in Liberty, New York and received an A.B. from Bates College and an MA from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Maine.