Feb 24, 2009

Book Review: Greek Winds of Fury by Judith Gould

Greek Winds of Fury

Judith Gould's 2008 novel, Greek Winds of Fury, described as romantic suspense, is a mystery novel without thriller elements of extreme violence, or graphic descriptions of blood and guts, etc. Armchair travelers as well as cozy readers will enjoy this trip into Greece and the island of Samos.

The protagonist Miranda, part Greek and an employee of a well known antiquities establishment in New York City, is delighted to be invited by a former professor to an archaeological dig on Samos during the summer. The crew is trying to find a lost statue of the goddess Hera, created in the th century B.C.

Miranda takes a cruise ship to the island and arrives in Samos to discover dangerous mysteries and a new love interest. She discovers that the ship has been using the identities of real passengers to create false passports and boarding passes for illegal immigrants, who are hustled from a port in Turkey to European ports.

Not only that, but there seems to be smuggling of antiquities from the Samos site to art stores and dealers around the world. Some of the missing pieces Miranda recognizes as part of the shipments to her own place of work in NYC. Crew members of the site on Samos have been disappearing, moreover, and one body is washed ashore after Miranda arrives there. "Big Mike" from the U.S. helps Miranda discover the truth, even at the cost of much danger to themselves.

Gould's detailed and colorful descriptions of place, setting, and people make this book a nice armchair travel piece. The plot will also appeal to mystery lovers and aficionados of Greek culture and antiquity. I confess though that parts of the novel dragged, especially toward the end. Some of the extended dialogue and a gratuitous sex scene that does not clarify or advance the plot could have been cut. I got impatient at the end for the denouement, so to speak, but overall the novel was enjoyable, with a good plot, deft prose, and a good substitute for the real thing - a mystery cruise on the Aegean

Feb 3, 2009

Brando as Mark Anthony

I watched the 1953 film, Julius Caesar, the Shakespearian play made into a movie starring Marlon Brando as Mark Anthony, James Mason as Brutus, and the equally famous John Gielgud as Cassius.

Got to relive high school English classes when famous lines such as Mark Anthony's speech came up, eloquently delivered.

Friends, Romans, countrymen,lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Other famous lines I knew were from Shakespeare; a few lines I was surprised to find out were also Shakespeare's. Such is the power of the Bard.

Feb 2, 2009

Mysteries set in Hawaii

Left Coast Crime has a made a list of mystery books with settings in the Hawaiian islands, primarily for those attending their Say Aloha to Murder conference coming up in March in Hawaii, though anyone can look at these lists.

I noticed that pet/vet mystery author Cynthia Baxter is on the list with Right from the Gecko. Carolyn Hart's Death in Paradise , Sue Henry's The Refuge (see my June 28 review), and Jessica Speart's Restless Waters are also listed.

See Mysteries Set in Hawaii

Great 1930s movies

Have discovered some classic black and white movies of the 1930s that I enjoyed watching and can recommend.

Harold Lloyd's comedies: Feet First made in 1930 has Chaplinesque humor and hilarious but harrowing scenes of him dangling from ropes and pulleys outside a skyscraper, and scrambling to get back into an open window. He wears his signature bowtie and white straw hat in several of his comedies set in the 1930s. In The Cat's Paw, he wore a tie and "bush" hat.

Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford and others converge in the Grand Hotel in Berlin, 1932.

Louise Rainer
stars as the hard-working and long suffering farm wife in The Good Earth, 1937, based on the book by Pearl Buck, and plays a spoiled Southern wife in The Toy Wife, 1938.

Bette Davis in The Petrified Forest, 1936

Ninotchka with Greta Garbo, 1939. A Russian woman falls in love in Paris. Remade later on as a musical, Silk Stockings, with Cyd Charisse.

Clark Gable and Hedy Lamar in Comrade X, 1940. An American tries to take a Russian woman and her father to America. Comedy drama set in Moscow.

Jan 30, 2009

The Chills of Winter by Fulford Chin Choy, a poem

The Chills of Winter

The wintry gale, at last, has arrived
Like an unwelcome guest to the home
Cold seeps past my constant pulsating
Veins into the marrow of my bones.

Misery seems ready to grasp my hands,
My feet, my whole being.
Gloomy thoughts invade the cranium
With a vengeance like a dark cloud.

How to counteract this melancholy
Blue is a challenge
Because the heart and will seem
Mesmerized by the overwhelming chill.

To break free of these icy bonds
Demands a mighty psychological hammer
Of perseverance, positive thinking and
Enhancement of the human spirit within
Especially, as well, a warm comforter.

by Fulford Chin Choy
January 2009

Jan 28, 2009

Book review: Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth in Beijing

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth
In this novel by Xiaolu Guo, Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth in Beijing, a restless young woman leaves her poor dusty village in Zhejiang province to find her fortune in Beijing, where she lands up working as an extra in the film industry.

Life in modern Beijing and modern China for a young woman, as she travels to Xian, the home of the terra cotta warriors, and to a poor city in Manchuria, where the last emperor Pu Yi lived as a virtual prisoner of the Japanese in the last days of the Qing Dynasty.

Like all Beijing residents from the countryside, she spends three days and nights on a train returning to her village for the Chinese New Year, where she eats "longevity noodles" and listens for several days to the sounds of firecrackers.

In her love life, there is a possessive young man in Beijing, who won't let go of the relationship as she moves out of his apartment and asserts her independence. A new American boyfriend doing research in China for his Ph.D. is part of her move to independence from tradition, but he returns home soon. We follow her hectic emotional journey till in the end she finally reaches the place she wants to be.

Beijing moving fast to modernize - shoddy buildings and garbage strewn alleys, and a changing culture.

Best Mystery Awards, 2008

Left Coast Crime 2009, March 7-12, 2009, Hawaii has announced its nominees for best mystery book awards; winners will be announced at the LCC Hawaii conference on March 11.

The Mystery Award nominees are:

Bruce Alexander Memorial Mystery Award

Nox Dormienda, A Long Night Sleeping by Kelli Stanley (Five Star)

Touchstone by Laurie King (Bantam)

Tell Me Pretty Maiden by Rhys Bowen (St. Martin Press)

A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (Berkeley Prime Crime)

A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander (Harper Collins)

Hawaii Five-O

Angel Falls by Baron Birtcher (Iota)

Fractured by Karin Slaughter (Delacorte Press)

The Black Path by Asa Larsson (Delta)

July 2008, Delta

The Angel of Knowlton Place by Kate Floral (Five Star)

Mahu Fire by Neil S. Placky (Alyson Books)

Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet (Midnight Ink)


Thugs and Kisses by Sue Ann Jaffarian ( Midnight Ink)

Six Geese a Slaying by Donna Andrews (St. Martins)

Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar and Grill by N.M.Kelby (Shaye Areheart Books/Random House Group)

Greasing the Pinata by Tim Maleeny (Poisoned Pen Press)

Getting Old is to Die For by Rita Lakin (Dell/Bantam)

It Happened One Knife by Jeffrey Cohen (Berkeley Prime Crime)

Contact the LCC if you wish to attend the conference and cast your vote. Left Coast Crime Conference 2009/

Can't go to the conference? You can visit their official website for a list of mystery novels set in Hawaii.

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...