Jun 21, 2009

Virtual Book Tours, June 28 and 29

June 28: Watch for J.C. Daly, author of Black Hole, who will discuss her first novel, a romance and mystery, here.

June 29:
Book tour of The Devlin Dairy by Christi Phillips, with questions and answers by that author and a review, here.

Jun 13, 2009

Book Review: ILLEGAL and author interview with Paul Levine

Illegal by Paul Levine
Published March, 24, 2009; Bantam
Genre: thriller; rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interview with Paul Levine:

1. What are the major factors that inspired you to write the novel, Illegal?
News stories about the horrific incident where several Mexican citizens died in the back of a locked trailer truck on a run across the California/Arizona desert. And....the facts contained here: http://live.psu.edu/story/38537

2. How did your legal background and experience help in writing this book?
Not so much. Very little courtroom in ILLEGAL. It's unlike most of my legal thrillers.

3. Do you plan on writing other books with similar topics?
I think I've exhausted myself and the subject.

4. Are you at work on another book at this time?
I'm revisiting my roots. My first Jake Lassiter novel since 1997. My first one was "To Speak for the Dead," 1990; and the seventh and last was "Flesh & Bones," 1997.

5. Several reviewers on Amazon say that ILLEGAL is the beginning of a new series with your new main character (Jimmy Payne). What do you say to that?
Jimmy Payne on hold until I write the new Lassiter.

My review:
This suspense thriller about the hazardous journey that a woman and her young son make to the U.S. from Mexico is as riveting and suspenseful as it is shocking, to anyone not familiar with illegal immigration issues along the border.

The novel centers around trial lawyer Jimmy Payne, whose life, marriage, and career has spiralled downward after the death of his teenage son Adam in a car accident caused by a drunken worker from Mexico, Manuel Garcia. The accident weighs on Payne's mind as something he could have prevented. He hits bottom low after he keeps some of the bribe money in a sting operation to expose a crooked L.A. judge. The judge, exposed as corrupt, commits suicide, and fellow lawyers start shaking their heads at Payne's folly.

Payne decides to take a new turn in his life. He drives to Mexico to find Garcia, the man who killed his son. In reality, he heads to Mexico to help a precocious and gutsy 12-year-old Mexican boy find his mother, Marisol, who was separated from the boy during their long trip to the U.S.
"Sure, he would do his best to find Marisol Perez. His good deed. Then he would go to Mexico and find Manuel Garcia. His murderous deed."
The boy, Tino, had sought Jimmy out in L.A. as someone famous and sympathetic, someone who had successfully defended several illegal immigrants who had survived a notorious border crossing some time back. The trip to Mexico to trace the route taken by Marisol reveals the hazards she faced trying to reach the U.S., and the new dangers after she arrived. Marisol and others were at the mercy of ruthless people traffickers, drug smugglers, and people running safe houses for illegals in transit from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and other Central American countries.

Marisol's journey leads Payne and Tio back to the U.S. for the story's suspenseful climax. The book is a thriller with no holds barred. It reads like stark realism and has graphic violence, against men and women, but the book 's harsh reality depicts the journeys as full of danger, despair, and death, even for some who make it across the border.

Well worth reading! I recommend the book for anyone interested in the plight of Mexican nationals seeking to enter the U.S.

Book provided by the publisher, for my objective review.

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Jun 12, 2009

The Cluttered Corpse, book review

The Cluttered Corpse (Charlotte Adams Mystery, Book 2) The Cluttered Corpse by Mary Jane Maffini

Loved the humor and the organizing tips in this cozy mystery. How does one organize a bedroom that has over a thousand stuffed toys? This is the job Charlotte Adams has until someone is killed in the house, falling down the stairs, possibly slipping on one or two of the fleecy fluffy toys. Or was it a push, and murder?

Lots of action, humor, and a good plot that had me guessing till the end. I would have made the ending a bit simpler - too many crooks tend to spoil the plot. Otherwise, a good mystery that makes me want to read the first in the series, Organize Your Corpses.

A book for feng shui lovers and other organization freaks.

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Jun 9, 2009

Purple Hibiscus, book review

Purple Hibiscus: A Novel Purple Hibiscus: A Novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"That's a hibiscus, isn't it, Aunty?" Jaja asked, staring at a plant close to the barbed wire fencing. "I didn't know there were purple hibiscuses." p. 128

from Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning Nigerian author.

Kambili, 15 years old, and her brother Jaia are brought up by a overly strict father in a wealthy Nigerian household. They are taught to reject the traditional ways for a harsh and distorted version of Christianity. The children find some balance between the old ways and the new in the home of their aunt, a university professor. The children's mother copes with her husband's excessive behavior in an unusual way.

An interesting look at the blending and the clash between the modern and the old beliefs in Africa and an indictment of religion as it is propagated and practiced by some.

View all my reviews.

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Jun 5, 2009

Book Review: Borderline by Nevada Barr


Title: Borderline (Annea Pigeon #15) by Nevada Barr
Published April 26, 2010; Berkley
Genre: thriller

I love reading books set in locations I've never visited. It makes me feel I'm getting something new while being entertained with a good story. This is the case with Nevada Barr's latest mystery - in her Anna Pigeon national park ranger series.

Borderline takes place in the Big Bend National Park in Texas, just across the Rio Grande River separating the U.S. from Mexico. Park ranger Anna is on administrative leave, recovering from the trauma of confronting a ruthless murderer on the Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. She and her police chief/pastor husband Paul are now on vacation at Big Bend in Texas, taking a leisurely two week rafting trip down the Rio Grande with a group of college students, led by a park rafting leader. What should have been a journey of personal recovery and tranquility turns out otherwise for Anna, however.

Things start to turn sour quickly. The group sees a starving cow stranded on top of the high cliffs in a canyon on the river and Anna is determined to rescue it; the inexperience and stubbornness of one of the college kids causes the group to lose their inflatable raft with all their equipment and supplies. Then comes a shocking discovery and bullets from an unknown assailant on the U.S. side of the river.

Anna is again in the position of leading an investigation and recovery, this time while desperately dodging death along the steep banks of the river canyon and trying to protect the people in her party. All this coincides with the highly publicized visit to the park of a mayor who supports keeping park borders closed to Mexicans across the river. and who is running for the governor's position in Texas

Description of location, plot, and character development all blend to make this a memorable and thrilling ride down the Rio Grande. Though I guessed the culprit about halfway through the book, and the motives, since the author gave us so many hints along the way, I can still recommend this as another very good mystery, with situations that reflect current social and political realities.

Jun 2, 2009

Book Review: Palos Verdes Blue by John Shannon

Palos Verdes Blue
Palos Verdes Blue by John Shannon, published April 7, 2009 by Pegasus
Genre: mystery

Private investigator Jack Liffey is hired to find Blue, a teenage girl missing in L.A. His investigation leads to some surprises, including a gang of rich teenage surfers, in Palos Verdes Blue, by John Shannon.
" Beatrice would have to pay in the end too, if her sister did. He stared at the classic feminist novels abandoned across her small desk - The Golden Notebook, Jane Eyre, and a couple of Anais Nins. There really are no survivors in a shattered family, he thought."
p. 23
Though the plot outline of the connections between a missing teen, illegal immigrants, and a gang of wealthy young surfers defending their beach territory is a good one, the techniques for writing the novel prevented me from really getting into the book.

There are many points of view, different stories running at the same time, and the switching back and forth from third person to first person narrations had me a bit confused. I wish I could have gotten more involved in the characters, especially private eye Jack and his daughter Maeve.

As far as plot, the book does a good job overall of presenting the problems of the California scene, particularly of young people. Health, gang warfare, undocumented workers, teen sexuality, even California mudslides are covered in Palos Verdes Blue.

Book provided by the author/publisher, for my objective review.

Jun 1, 2009

Book Review: Illegal, a novel by Paul Levine

This suspense thriller about the hazardous journey that a woman and her young son make to the U.S. from Mexico is as riveting and suspenseful as it is shocking, to anyone not familiar with illegal immigration issues along the border.

The harsh reality portrayed by Paul Levine in his new book makes the journeys he describes seem all too real - full of danger, despair, and death, even for some who make it across the border.

(See my fuller review with author comments dated June 13)
Illegal: A Review and Author Interview--------------------------------

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