May 10, 2008

A Person of Interest by Susan Choi

Now reading Susan Choi's A Person of Interest, about an Asian professor, Lee, a mathematician at a midwestern university, who becomes a person of interest in the investigation of a mail bomb that kills a computer science professor whose office just happens to be next to Lee's. Novel was partly influenced by the real-life case of Taiwanese professor, Wen Ho Lee (who was acquitted of charges brought against him at his place of work), according to the book promo.

I'm impressed by her writing in A Person of Interest and her skill in getting us involved in the intricacies of her main character's thinking and how he might be perceived by others around him.

Choi's 2007 novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize last year. She is, by the way, part Korean and part European American, but born in Indiana.

Apr 23, 2008

Book Review: Prayer of the Dragon by Eliot Pattison

Prayer of the Dragon by Eliot Pattison is intriguing because of the cultural tidbits about Tibet. The main character is a Chinese policeman who has spent time in a Chinese gulag and whose companions now are an old Tibetan monk and another Tibetan from a secret outlawed temple.

All three are called to a small Tibetan town after murders have occurred there. The monks are threatened and tortured by the overly zealous town headman, who wants no interference and no upsurge of religion in his territory. The murders are somehow connected to the sacred mountain called the Dragon, and the secrets on the other side. There are miners panning for gold in the mountain and the valleys, and the policeman must find the perpetrators of the crimes or risk being charged himself.

Interesting novel, but overly long and drawn out. Had to skip to the end after two-thirds of the way into the book.

Apr 20, 2008

Book Review: All Shots by Susan Conant

Read Susan Conant's 18th dog lover's mystery novel, All Shots. More about her malamute dogs - training them, keeping more than one in the same household, showing them for awards and titles. And making sure everyone knows the difference between a malamute and a Siberian husky.

The plot involves identity theft, both human and canine. Set in Cambridge, Mass., the book also describes various Harvard types and their current fads, one of which is maintaining a "Media-free" environment for preschoolers. No TV, no TV cartoon characters on their toys, books, or clothing, etc. Interesting!

Mar 25, 2008

Time to Blog

Now reading the novel, Grave Imports by Eric Stone, about the smuggling of priceless cultural artifacts out of Cambodia. Witty dialogue, good observation of people and place. Wicked satire of the British expat.

Just finished The Accidental Florist by Jill Churchill, which is not about a florist at all, but about mothers-in-law that the author has a good time bashing. I was not sympathetic, having recently become a mother-in-law myself.


If it didn't take so much time, I'd add to my blog more often. It takes time from chores, housework, reading, writing, talking, visiting, traveling, taking care of the dog, procrastinating, meditating, and even sleeping.

There are so many steps to getting pictures from my camera onto the computer and then onto the blog! A sometimes daunting process!

My hat's off to those of you who blog religiously every day or every other day. And to those you who have figured out how to manipulate your templates to look original and eye catching.

Where do you get the time!

Feb 23, 2008

Book Review: Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, a novel by Gail Tsukiyama, follows the lives of two ordinary boys growing up in Tokyo, their hopes and dreams and their experiences from 1939 through war in the 1940s and new lives in the modern Japan of the 1960s.

Tsukiyama tries to portray the lives of the ordinary Japanese and how they might have been affected by the war. The two brothers have different goals - Hiroshi dreams of becoming a famous sumo wrestler and Kenji learns to hand craft masks used in Noh theater. Their lives are changed and affected by the war thought they are not an integral part of it.

A novel from a Japanese-American author who has written five other novels including Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden.

Feb 17, 2008

Book Review: Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong

Red Mandarin Dress: An Inspector Chen Novel (Inspector Chen Cao) In the fifth mystery in the series by Qiu Xiaolong, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau reluctantly puts aside his studies of classical Chinese literature to help solve the sensational Red Mandarin Dress murders.

Three young women have been found in public locations in the city, each dressed in a torn red mandarin dress. Inspector Chen and police officer Yu race against time to solve their murders before the serial killer can find another victim.

Chen and Yu visit libraries and interview expert tailors and people knowledgeable about the old style mandarin dresses. They link the dresses back to the period of the Cultural Revolution.

Using the information he gathers, Chen uses modern psychology to create a profile of the killer, at the same time as he analyses each situation with relevant quotes from Tang and Sung poetry and sayings from the sage Confucius.

I enjoyed reading about the detailed police procedures used to solve the crime in modern day Shanghai. I also found interesting the author's distaste for some aspects of the past, namely the Cultural Revolution and its lingering effects, and the "cruel" cuisine that is still practised by some cooks and demanded by patrons.


Feb 13, 2008

Conversation and Food in Canada

How we came to be where we are, health care in Canada and the U.S.

Food favorites

- Jamaican jerk chicken and pork
- mango slices with red pepper flakes
- green tea ice cream
- squid in curry sauce
- vegetarian sushi
- curried goat and roti

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...