Oct 31, 2014

Nonfiction Book: Lives in Ruins by Marilyn Johnson

The Friday 56: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.


Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble
Author: Marilyn Johnson
Expected publication: November 11, 2014; Harper
Genre: research, nonfiction

Book beginning:
DOWN AND DIRTY
Studying the people who study people 
No dinosaurs appear in these pages. If you are looking for scientists who study dinosaurs, you want to pick up a book about paleontologists. This is about archaeologists - people who study people and the things they leave behind - their bones, their trash, and their ruins. 
These brief excerpts from the book are from an uncorrected proof. The final copy may differ.

Page 56:
In Auel's hands (author of Clan of the Cave Bear), Ayla becomes a kind of ambassador between the slow, tough, paternalistic Neandertals and the flexible, innovative, woman-centered Homo sapiens. 
Publisher description: 
The author of The Dead Beat and This Book is Overdue! turns to the archaeologists who sort through the muck and mire of swamps, ancient landfills, volcanic islands, and other dirty places to reclaim history for us all. 
Where are the archaeologists behind these stories? What kind of work do they actually do, and why does it matter? 
 Marilyn Johnson’s book looks at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies. 
What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost.
I am eager to get into this book. History and archaeology has always been an interest of mine!

Thanks to the publisher for an uncorrected proof of this book.

Oct 28, 2014

Book Review: Desert Rage by Betty Webb

First Chapter, First Paragraphis a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read.



Published October 7, 2014 by Poisoned Pen Press. Also available free from www.netgalley.com

Desert Rage, a mystery set in Arizona, is interesting because the two teenagers accused of killing a couple and their young son are not the type to commit this kind of crime. Private investigator Lena Jones is asked to find out the truth, which is complicated by themes such as Asperger's Syndrome, surrogate egg donors and the resulting children, and the secrecy necessarily involved. 

First paragraph, first chapter:
Prologue
The first thing Ali saw when she came through the door was the blood. The next things she saw were the bodies.
"Why'd you kill my dog?" she asked Kyle. 
Teaser:
I hate that Lena person saying those awful things about Mom and Dad, even if she did say it just to make me talk. That my parents would, like beat me? as if! Dad never hurt anybody, he saved their lives, and Mom, God, what didn't she do for people, especially kids? 
(ch. 14 from an uncorrected proof; final copy may differ)
My comments:  The book got better for me as I read along. At first I thought the novel sensational, with the horrific crime committed against a couple and their young son in their Scottsdale, Arizona home. Then the play of characters came in and I became hooked by the two teens, Ali and Kyle; the psychologically damaged but sympathetic ex-foster child turned PI, Lena; her caring partner in detecting, the Native Indian Jimmy; and a host of other intriguing characters connected to Lena's past and present. 

Lena is hired to find the true murderers by a U.S. Senatorial candidate, Juliana Thorsson, who wants to keep her involvement a secret. Hunting down clues and tracking a multitude of possible suspects, she works to free the teens from prison as she fights to save her detective agency and protect herself from danger.

I really enjoyed this suspenseful mystery, its twists and turns, realistic characters, and hope to read more in the series. A great read for mystery lovers.

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing a galley for review. 

Oct 25, 2014

Sunday Salon: Reading Three Books At The Same Time

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week.Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey

I'm reading three books at the moment: a literary novel set in India,  The Folded Earth by A. Roy; Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech, a book that includes some magical elements; and a mystery set in Arizona, Desert Rage by Betty Webb.

.Desert Rage is interesting because the two teenagers accused of killing a couple and their young son are not the type to commit this kind of crime. Lena Jones is asked to find out the truth, which is complicated by themes such as surrogate egg donors, the resulting children, and the secrecy necessarily involved. I have just started the book and am curious about this involved plot.

Why read three books at once? I pick up a book depending on my mood and also depending on where I am in the house. One book may be in the living room, another in the kitchen, and a third may be in a bedroom.  A book per room. Why not? Do you find yourself doing this sometimes?

Oct 23, 2014

Cat Thursday: Fat Cat at Large


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! This fun meme is hosted by The True Book Addict. Go over to her site to join in the fun.
I wanted to join in Cat Thursday, but since I have no cats and may even be allergic to them, I enjoy them in books, cozies in particular. Let me introduce you to a Cat Mystery series that has this tabby as one of the main characters.

Fat Cat at Large
Fat Cat at Large is a cozy in the brand new Fat Cat Mystery series, written by Janet Cantrell. I'm sure cat lovers will love the cover of the book, which features Quincy, a plus-sized tabby that leads her owner into a mystery to solve.

Have a favorite cat?

Oct 21, 2014

Book Feature: No Time to Die by Kira Peikoff

No Time to Die

Title: No Time to Die by Kira Peikoff
Genre: medical thriller
Pinnacle Books; August 26, 2014

Publisher's description: 
Someone is out for blood—Zoe Kincaid’s blood. She’s a 20-year-old trapped in the body of a 14-year-old girl and her DNA could hold the secret of immortality.

 Could it be the Columbia University researchers who see her as the key to fame and tenure? The shadowy figure, known only as Galileo, who is kidnapping the world’s best researchers? The Justice Department head who seems a little too intent on getting her alone? Or the maniac who just fed a leading scientist to his chimpanzees?  Zoe knows that unlocking the secrets of genome could save her beloved grandfather, a retired physician and former Olympian who grows frailer by the day. Can she trust the rogue physician whose secret lair hides discoveries that might just save her grandfather?

In Kira Peikoff’s biomedical thriller, science has barely begun to unlock the secrets written in our DNA. Researchers are hunting for the answers to chronic diseases, cancer, rare disorders and the biggest mystery of them all—aging—but at what cost?

Bioethicist Peikoff asks the most troubling scientific question of our time in this thriller: when does medicine cross the line?

KIRA PEIKOFF graduated from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. After her first book, Living Proof, Peikoff worked in the editorial departments at two New York publishing houses. Peikoff is working on her third thriller, freelancing for a variety of major media outlets, and attending Columbia University's Master of Science program in Bioethics.

Death at Chinatown: An Emily Cabot Mystery by Frances McNamara

First Chapter, First Paragraphis a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read.


Title: Death at Chinatown: An Emily Cabot Mystery
Author: Frances McNamara
Published April 16, Allium Press

Teaser: 
"I son of Chou." "I son of Yang." The others proffered their papers and Lewis spread them on the table, where he began perusing them.
First chapter: 
"Mr. Cormick here suffered injuries from a shotgun blast a month ago." The surgeon gestured and looked down, but I kept my eyes on the balding patch just visible on the top of his head. "We were unable to locate all of the pellets at the time of original treatment and he has been in continual pain ever since. Today, gentlemen...and ladies," Dr. Erickson said with a bow in our direction, "we will, for the first time, use a new technique which the German physician Dr. Roentgen discovered while experimenting with a Crookes tube." He paused to point at a round glass bulb mounted on a wooden stand. 
Publisher description:
Summer of 1896: amateur sleuth Emily Cabot meets two young Chinese women who have recently received medical degrees. When one of the women is accused of poisoning a Chinese herbalist, Emily finds herself in the midst of a murder investigation. But she must first settle a quarrel with her husband, help quell a political uprising, and overcome threats against her family. Issues such as restrictions on immigration, conflict between Western and Eastern medicine, and women's struggle to balance family and work, are woven throughout this historical mystery. Rich with details of life in Chicago's original Chinatown, this fifth book in the series will delight history buffs and mystery lovers alike.
I am eager to read this one as I am interested in the history of the Chinese in early America as well as historical mystery novels.

Based on the excerpts, would you continue reading?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for possible review.

Oct 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday: An Old House, a Dog, and a Library

Share your new arrivals on Mailbox Monday.

Three Story House
This novel has been on my shelves but I don't think I announced in Mailbox Monday when it arrived. Looks like a good read. Published August 19, 2014 by William Morrow.

Publisher description:
Renovating an historic Memphis house together, three cousins discover that their failures in love, career, and family provide the foundation for their future happiness in this novel from the author of The Roots of the Olive Tree. 
Nearing thirty, cousins Lizzie, Elyse, and Isobel face their own failures as they restore the almost condemned house. Lizzie seeks answers to a secret about her father. Elyse’s obsession with an old flame threatens her sister’s wedding, and Isobel is tempted to betray confidences that would damage her cousins.  
Told in three parts by each of the women, this account of the restoration of a house built out of spite, but filled with memories of love, is also a story of friendships that help the women get what they need instead of what they want.
 Other books that arrived: two cozies to be released November 4, 2014 by Signet.

A Dog Gone Murder


On Borrowed Time

What's in your mailbox this week?

Oct 19, 2014

Sunday Salon: Early Morning Reading

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week.Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey.

Had visitors today so cleared out my books from around my desk and computer to declutter for a while. Now I don't want to go downstairs to the basement to retrieve them just yet. So nice not to be kicking books around while I'm typing.

Here's what I'm currently reading:


Sons of Sparta, a mystery novel by Poisonwood Press was released October 7, 2014. I'm reading an advance reader's copy and enjoying it as I've always wanted to visit Greece and setting is really important to me in a mystery novel. This book puts you into the Peloponnesus region as well as Athens. The intro to the book by the publisher will pull you right in with the description of the background and setting:
Did the warriors of ancient Sparta simply vanish without a trace along with their city, or did they find sanctuary at the tip of the mountainous Peloponnese? That stark, unforgiving region's roots today run deep with a history of pirates, highwaymen, and neighbors ferociously repelling any foreigner foolishly bent on occupying this part of Greece. Less well recorded are the Mani's families' strict code of honor and their history of endless vendettas with neighbors and with their own relatives. No wonder their farms look like fortresses.
I'm also reading The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy, longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. My paperback was published April 24, 2012 by the Free Press.

The Folded Earth
Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, the novel is about a young widow who leaves her sorrows and past behind and becomes a school teacher in a small village. The storytelling is exquisite.

It's early morning but I might just sit up for another hour with this book.
What are you reading this Sunday day?

Oct 17, 2014

French Pastry Murder: by Leslie Meier

The Friday 56: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's VoiceAlso, Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.


French Pastry Murder
page 56:
This was an emergency, she was yelling her head off, but where were all the other people in the building? She feared he was already dead, but then he groaned, and she realized she had to get help, fast. 
Book beginning:
Lucy Stone shut her eyes tight and rolled over, trying to ignore the ringing phone on her bedside table. When that didn't work, she wrapped a pillow over her ears and held it tight but the ringing continued. She knew who was calling, and it was beginning to be a nuisance, these phone calls at five and six in the morning. 
Publisher's description:  

Leslie Meier's beloved sleuth Lucy Stone is saying "Au revoir!" to Tinker's Cove, Maine, and "Bonjour!" to Paris to take in the sights, learn how to bake authentic French pastries, and experience some joie de vivre. But her dreams of la vie en rose are put on hold when the City of Lights turns deadly.  ( published September 30, 2014 by Kensington) 

Oct 16, 2014

Book Review: Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James

Bless Her Dead Little Heart
Title: Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James
Published October 7, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

Athena, Mississippi. An all-new mystery featuring Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality…

My comments: This setting and theme is based on an Agatha Christie plan - all the possible murder suspects are in the same house, where the murders take place. The two elderly Southern sisters in their eighties, An'gel and Dickce (pronounced An-Gell and Dixie), try to determine which one or ones of their guests are the culprits.

Interesting and unusual characters, a good plot that unrolls gradually but inevitably to a surprise conclusion and suspect, a good Southern atmosphere and setting - quite a good cozy read. I recommend it!

Objective rating: 4/5
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of the book for their book tour. 

Oct 15, 2014

New Release: Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
The Last Winter We Parted
Title: The Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura
To be released October 21, 2014; Soho Press
Genre: thriller, suspense, mystery

Publisher's description:
A young writer arrives at a prison to interview a man arrested for homicide. He has been commissioned to write a full account of the case, from its bizarre and grisly details to the nature of the man behind the crime.  
The suspect, while world-renowned as a photographer, has a deeply unsettling portfolio—lurking beneath the surface of each photograph is an acutely obsessive fascination with his subject. He stands accused of murdering two women—both burned alive—and will likely face the death penalty. But something isn't quite right, and as the young writer probes further, his doubts about this man as a killer intensify. He soon discovers the desperate, twisted nature of all who are connected to the case, struggling to maintain his sense of reason and justice. What could possibly have motivated this man to use fire as a torturous murder weapon? Is he truly guilty, or will he die to protect someone else? 
The suspect has a secret—it may involve his sister, who willfully leads men to their destruction, or the "puppeteer," an enigmatic figure who draws in those who have suffered the loss of someone close to them. As the madness at the heart of the case spins out of control, the confusion surrounding it only deepens.  
What terrifying secrets will this impromptu investigator unearth as he seeks the truth behind these murders?
I enjoyed and reviewed his previous books, The Thief, and Evil and the Mask, both of which had intriguing and unexpected twists at the end. I'm looking forward to similar surprises in this book. If you like noir in your mystery, go for it.

What new release are you waiting for? 

Oct 14, 2014

Book Review: The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB.

The Moonlight Palace
Publisher description:
Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British. Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, she struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in unexpected places.

The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and characters set against the backdrop of 1920s Singapore. Published Oct 1, 2014 by Lake Union Publishing.

First chapter, first paragraph: 
I have always lived in the crumbling Kampong Glam Palace. Istana Kampong Gelam. Because it is white, with rounded arches in a row, it has the look of an ancient wedding cake. It has always been falling apart, as long as I have known it. Even my nighttime dreams are always set inside the palace compound. Unlike friends and schoolmates who share exciting flying dreams, where they sail away over the tiled rooftops through surging grey clouds beyond tiny Singapore, in my own dreams I skim low through the rooms of the palace, barely above the ground. I see the patterned carpets, the wooden floorboards worn to the smoothness of satin. But never have I risen above the level of the palace ceiling , not even in my dreams. 
My comments:

I learned something new about the history of the tiny country of Singapore, a sliver of land that was "created" by the British who took control of it and developed it. The mixture of people and cultures there at that time and into the present is fascinating. Our heroine Agnes is part Chinese, part English, part Malaysian, and describes her family as both Buddhist and Muslim.

Agnes almost loses her family inheritance, the Kampong Glam Palace, because some resented that her ancestor, Sultan Hussein Shah, "gave away" to the British the land that later became Singapore. She fights to save her palace inheritance in spite of everything. An intriguing look at history and place, with a charming story of a young girl growing up and finding love in the Singapore of the 1920s. My objective rating: 3.5/5.

Liz Rosenberg has written more than thirty novels and nonfiction for adults, poetry collections, and books for young readers.

She is a professor of English and creative writing at Binghamton University, New York, and has written a book column for the Boston Globe for the past twenty-five years.

Her best selling novels are Home Repair and The Laws of Gravity. She and her husband, David, were raised on Long Island.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review ARC of this book.
For more reviews, visit the tour schedule

Oct 13, 2014

Book Reviews: Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs; Gilt Trip by Laura Childs

Gossamer Ghost
Title: Gossamer Ghost: A Scrapbooking Mystery #12 by Laura Childs
Published October 7, 2014; Berkley Hardcover
Genre: cozy mystery
Ava glanced at Carmela and said, "What's a Ghost Train?" 
"Are you serious?" said Jekyl. "The Ghost Train is being touted as New Orleans's premier Halloween event and has been promoted up the wazoo!" 
There are so many events that scrapbook shop owner Carmela and her friend Ava must attend while taking care of their respective shops in New Orleans during Halloween week. But when Carmela enters her neighbor's Oddities shop next door and finds shop owner Marcus dead and stuffed in a tall wooden cabinet, she and friend Ava and boyfriend detective Edgar Babcock soon become involved. Edgar warns Carmela off the dangerous case but Carmela and her sidekick Ava can't resist a hunt for a killer.

Lot of New Orleans Halloween fun such as balls, cemetery walks, Ghost Trains, zombies, parades, fill the pages in between Carmela and Ava's sleuthing. The book is great to read, both for the New Orleans ambience and for the mystery plot. Loved it!

I also read the previous Laura Childs Scrapbooking Mystery, #11, coauthored by Diana Orgain - Gilt Trip.
Gilt Trip
This 11th in the Scrapbooking Mystery series, released October 1, 2014 by Berkley.The unusual plot and the engaging characters of amateur sleuths Carmela and Ava, as well as scrapbooking details and the New Orleans food made this a great read for me.
Carmela kicked things off..., passing around sheets of vellum, crinkle paper, linen paper, batik papers, and others that she'd pulled earlier.  (ch. 11)
Carmela investigates the murder of Jerry Earl, the husband of prominent New Orleans socialite Margo Leland, while also running her craft shop and craft classes.She had discovered Jerry Earl's body at a ball, stuffed in the laundry room of his wife Margo's mansion. Quite an inventive though gruesome way to go!

I loved the mystery and the craft tips, food recipes in both books. Especially the shrimp recipes. Gotta try them! I gave five stars to both books,

Thanks to the publisher for review copies of both books.

Oct 12, 2014

Sunday Salon: Traveling Through Books

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week.Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey and Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews.

My recent armchair travel has taken me from the backlands of Brazil to New Orleans, then to Mississippi, to Scottsdale AZ, and next to Singapore. I've had some good adventures in these places via my recent books!

Some rew cozies will head me further to Victorian London, to Oyster Bay in North Carolina, then to Michigan and Northern California. Can't wait!


Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry GentlemenThe holiday season brings a mix of merriment, mayhem, and murder. And it falls to Inspector Witherspoon—with a significant portion of help from the ever-watchful Mrs. Jeffries—to find the culprit… 

Lethal Letters:  Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is busy planning a delicious menu for Oyster Bay’s biggest soiree of the spring. But she’ll need to serve some justice as well after one resident gets eighty-sixed…

The Chocolate Book Bandit :When it turns out a member of Warner Pier’s library board has been living on borrowed time, Lee is determined to discover who wrote the victim’s final chapter…

A High End Finish:  In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed....
And back to the Victorian times, but in Manhattan, a new series:
Snow White Red-Handed:  Miss Ophelia Flax is a Victorian actress who knows all about making quick changes and even quicker exits. But to solve a fairy-tale crime in the haunted Black Forest, she’ll need more than a bit of charm…
Where are your current reads taking you?

Oct 10, 2014

Book Review: Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop

Whiny Whiny Rhino
Title: Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop
Published July 2014; Blue Blanket Publishing
Genre: children's literature
Rating: 4/5


My comments: A great picture story book for little scaredy cats who whine about lots of things and are afraid to try new friends or new things to do. Excellent illustrations, full of color, that any child would enjoy looking at.

Book Theme:
"We all get apprehensive when encountering new experiences and this often leads us to avoid ever trying anything new. Just having a little courage to try new things can often lead to a much more exciting and enriching life."

Author's Bio:
McBoop is the creative team of Carmin Iadonisi & Amanda Iadonisi-Word, a father-daughter duo that co-wrote and illustrated Whiny Whiny Rhino. They live in New England where they enjoy making art, reading comics, playing board games, eating fancy chocolate and whining about the weather.

Connect with them at Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Thanks to iRead Book Tours for a review copy of this book.


Sept 22 - Cherry Blossoms - review
Sept 23 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review
Sept 23 - One Frugal Girl - review
Sept 24 - Christy's Cozy Corners - review / giveaway
Sept 24 - Crossroad Reviews - review
Sept 25 - Bless Their Hearts Mom - review
Sept 25 - Savings in Seconds - review / giveaway
Sept 26 - This That and the Other Thing - review
Sept 26 - A Peek at My Bookshelf - review
Sept 29 - Bluerose's Heart - review / giveaway
Sept 29 - Thoughts in Progress - review / giveaway
Sept 30 - Bookroom Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 30 - Walking With Nora - review
Oct 1 -     Brooke Blogs - review
Oct 1 -     Savvy Verse and Wit - review
Oct 2 -     Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 2 -     Deal Sharing Aunt - review
Oct 2 -     Like a Bump on a Blog - review
Oct 3 -     Rockin' Book Reviews - interview / giveaway
Oct 3 -     I'd Rather be Reading at the Beach - review / giveaway
Oct 3 -     Pinky's Favorite Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 6 -     View From the Birdhouse - review / giveaway
Oct 6 -     Heart of a Philanthropist - review / interview / giveaway
Oct 7 -     Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - review
Oct 7 -     Sara's Organized Chaos - review / giveaway
Oct 8 -     3 Partners in Shopping - review / giveaway
Oct 8 -     Create With Joy - review / giveaway
Oct 9 -     Bound 4 Escape - review
Oct 9 -     That Artsy Reader Girl - review
Oct 10 -   Book Dilettante - review
Oct 10 -   Kincavel Korner and Book Blast Central - review

Thanks to iRead Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of this picture book.


Oct 9, 2014

Book Review: A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers



Title: A Hero for the People:
Stories of the Brazilian Backlands by Arthur Powers
Publication Date: May 3, 2013; Press 53
Genre: General Fiction/Literary

Arthur Power’s debut collection of short stories set in contemporary Brazil, where he and his wife lived for almost 30 years.

My comments: The stories show a history of Brazil and the differences that existed and may still exist between the wealthy and the poor in the jungles and remote areas, the backlands of this vast country. What I gleaned from the variety of stories is that rich landowners, farmers and ranchers have killed and driven off the native population from lands their families have occupied for generations, land that legally belongs to the backlanders because of the length of time they have lived on it. However, ignorance of the law and their legal rights and fear of those more powerful in terms of money and political influence kept the indigenous and poor people downtrodden.

A close look at the people in these revealing and well told stories show some of their superstitions, their way of life, and how they cope with their situation. What they needed and need in order to keep and benefit from their land, according to Powers, is a "hero for the people."
"We have just learned they got a court order to oust the families from Agua Fria," the lawyer's voice said over the line.
"But that's illegal," Brother Michael protested. 
"Of course it is. But we will get it reversed in a few days. But in the meantime, we can't let them take the people off the land. Once they are off the land, it's almost impossible to get it back. (from "A Hero for the People", 1988)

Arthur Powers went to Brazil in 1969 and lived most his adult life there. From 1985 to 1997, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, doing pastoral work and organizing subsistence farmers and rural workers’ unions in a region of violent land conflicts. The Powers currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Arthur received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many magazines & anthologies. He is also author of  The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press, 2013).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thanks to the author and Book Junkie Promotions for a review copy of this book. Visit their website for other reviews. 

Oct 8, 2014

Book Review: Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu


Title: Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu
Published September 30, 2014; William Morrow
Genre: mystery

Publisher description:
Aunty Lee’s Delights, a restaurant in Singapore run by Rosie “Aunty” Lee, the feisty widow and amateur sleuth, is catering a brunch for socialites Henry and Mabel Sung. But soon after arriving at the Sungs’, her curiosity turns to suspicion. Where is the missing guest of honor? Then Mabel Sung and her son, Leonard, are found dead.

The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee’s special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. She’s certain the deaths are murder—and that they’re somehow linked to an organ donor scandal. To save her business, she’s got to unmask a dangerous killer.
Excerpt: 
Sharon scooped up some of the buah keluak gravy in a spoon and tasted it.
"Why did you do that? Isn't that for Lennie?" GraceFaith stepped up.
"I always taste food I'm serving," Sharon said. "It's a personal rule. Then nobody can blame me if something's wrong with it."
"I do the same thing!" Aunty Lee said.
(p. 63)
My comments: It's always nice to find out about another kind of cuisine, the good and the bad, or in this case, the bad that can happen if you don't prepare a food properly. The buah keluak nut is the culprit in this mystery set in Singapore. It reminded me of the puffer fish that is a delicacy in Japan, good only if you can prepare it minus its poison. It also reminded me of the akee fruit in the West Indies that is poisonous if eaten or cooked before the seed pod has opened.

Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials has included more than ill timed food, however. The book adds an organ donor scandal as part of the murder plot.

Exotic in flavor (food and setting) and intriguing in plot, Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials is a book that mystery readers will really enjoy.

Ovidia Yu is one of Singapore’s most acclaimed writers. She has had more than thirty plays produced and the author of a number of mysteries. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Iowa’s International Writers Program and has been a writing fellow at the National University of Singapore. Connect with her through Facebook Twitter. 

For more reviews, check out the tour schedule by TLC Book Tours.
I received a review copy of the book through the tour and publisher.

Oct 7, 2014

Book Tour: Lust, Poems by Diana Raab

Teaser Tuesday meme courtesy of MizB at Should Be Reading. Share quotes from a current read.

Lust by Diana Raab
Published February 1, 2014; WorldTech Communications
Genre: poetry
"Raab examines the emotional and physical complexity of love, helping readers navigate the risks of intimacy as we move toward the realization that every experience enriches our lives, whether we perceive it as joy, pain, or out of the ordinary. Yet for all their psychological richness, the poems’ simplicity and accessibility will resonate with women and men across all walks of life." (publisher)
My comments:  This collection of love and erotic poetry has several themes, including the various physical and emotional feelings engendered by love, the kindness of the lover, bliss and delight, wondering. The poems also include themes of the wounds of love, wondering about love, illicit relationships, removal from reality, loss, being alone, and jealousy and panic. At the end, there are poems included on love's endings and memories.

A poem of loss that I especially liked:  (p. 24)

SATURNED

Your planet encircles mine
Once a year
when you call
to the phone I once held
and which now sits
in the dark at the back
of my old underwear drawer
in the empty bedroom
where you stayed
on that night you whispered
how I was no longer the fantasy
of all your unmet dreams.


Diana Raab, an award-winning poet, memoirist, began crafting poems at the age of ten. She is the author of four poetry collections, My Muse Undresses Me (2007); Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You (2008); The Guilt Gene (2009); and Listening to Africa (2011). She is editor of two anthologies, Writers and Their Notebooks (2010) and Writers on the Edge (2012), co-edited with James Brown.

Diana has two memoirs, Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal (winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction and the National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir), and Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey (winner of the 2011 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction).

 She is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post and writes a monthly column for the Santa Barbara Sentinel, “The Mindful Word.” She lives in Southern California with her family and is working on her doctorate in psychology, researching the healing power of writing and creativity.

For more reviews of Lust, visit TLC Book Tours. I received a review copy of the book for this tour. 

Oct 5, 2014

Sunday Salon: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week.Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey and Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews.

I've been reading a lot but posting short reviews on goodreads only, not on this blog. No time, and not enough time to tackle those books I want to read. By the end of November, I will have finished the book tours and hope to have none or few from thenceforth! Let's see if I can follow this resolution.

Only one new book this past week, plus two cozies for book tours.


Thanks to Ecco for a review copy of Rooms - "a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.
Bless Her Dead Little Heart




Bless Her Dead Little Heart and Gossamer Ghost are for book tours organized by the publisher, Berkley. 

I finished reading and reviewing recently on goodreads:
A Possibility of Violence by D. A. Mishani, mystery set in Tel Aviv
Stillwater by Nicole Helget, historical novel set in Minnesota, a surprisingly good book. 

What interesting books have you read or received recently? 

Sunday Salon: Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay

I have never appreciated books so much as this year, a difficult year on so many counts. I've finished re-reading  A Gentlema...