Mar 5, 2010

Nobel Prize Winning Authors: Pamuk and Kawabata

Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence was a new find. This is Pamuk's first novel after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.

The translation from the Turkish by Maureen Freely is easy to read, flows smoothly, and I became engrossed in the first half of the book by a love story that became a story of obsession. I'm now bogged down, however, on page 340 of 532 pages.

Afer loving and leaving a distant poor relative, the beautiful Fusun,  and becoming engaged to a high society Turkish woman, the main character Kemal feels shame and guilt. But he also cannot control his need for Fusun and pursues her, scouring the streets of Istanbul to find her after she disappears.

I'm at this point hoping the novel will pick up after these few pages that has me tired of Kemal's obsession.  I want the novel to move along faster, but I think that Pamuk has a hidden agenda in this book - comments on Turkish society, the conflict between East and West, the old and the new.

In the meantime, I've picked up the book of another Nobel prize winner, The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata. Published in 1962, the novel was listed as one of three cited by the committee which awarded Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.

The novel is about Chieko, a young woman living in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, who discovers at age 20 that she is adopted and was a foundling abandoned by her biological parents.

It's a slim book, only 162 pages long! I hope to finish both books though, and write longer reviews!

Mar 2, 2010

Book Review: The Brick Layer, a novel by Noah Boyd

Visit Teaser Tuesdays for more quotes hosted by MizB.

The Bricklayer (Steve Vail, #1)
The Bricklayer 
"That's the saddest thing about being young - you actually believe there is such a thing as hope." He raised his gun and fired one round that hit Dan West in the right temple." (ch. 2)

The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd  is a "pulse-pounding novel introducing Steve Vail, one of the most charismatic new heroes to come along in the thriller fiction in many years. He's an ex-FBI agent who's been fired for insubordination but is lured back to the Bureau to work a case that has become unsolvable - and more deadly - by the hour." (publisher's description).

My comments: Tense thriller with a likeable but somewhat unbelievable, too nice to be true, main character. Nevertheless, the book sparkles with excitement as the killers use technological savvy to thwart the FBI, their target for extortion. Vail turns down any monetary reward or other incentives for this job, going out on his own to trap the killers afer several FBI agents have tried and been killed. A most unlikely hero, yes, but one who gets the job done!

I expected the villains to have a similar background as the main character, Steve Vail, in order to pull off the kinds of elaborate crimes they did and stun the FBI. Who the killers turned out to be was somewhat surprising!

About the author: Noah Boyd (a pseudonym) spent more than 20 years as an FBI agent, working on some of their toughest cases. He now works on cold cases when not writing.  He lives in New England. Source: Review copy provided free by Wireset for my objective review.

        This book was provided by the publisher for my objective review.
Challenges: 100 + Reading Challenge, Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge

Book Giveaway: The Brick Layer by Noah Boyd

The Bricklayer
Wiredset has offered to give away two copies of the new thriller published by RandomHouse Publishers, The Brick Layer by Noah Boyd. To enter the contest,

1) leave a comment with your email address AND
2) give the name of one of your favorite crime fiction/mystery  authors.

For an extra comment, follow my blog or let me know if you are already a follower.

For U.S. only; no P.O. boxes please. The contest runs through March 16. Winners will be emailed and asked for their U.S. mailing addresses for Wiredset to send the books. Good luck!

UPDATE: Final winners chosen at random - Deb and Scottsgal.

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Feb 28, 2010

The Sunday Salon: New Challenges

The Sunday   Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

There were a few new awards and new reviews last week.

Book Dilettante was listed by as  one of the 50 Best Blogs for Crime and Mystery Book Lovers. How neat is that? Hope you will check out the 111 posts under the label, Mystery on my home page.

Done last week: I also befriended several crime fiction authors on facebook. One had over 5,000 facebook friends, so I joined his discussion group instead! I posted links to writing tips, for all you aspiring writers, Ten Rules for Writing Fiction. My post for Far from the Land: An Irish Memoir got the most comments of any I've done. Hooray! I also wrote up a few awards from new friends, one from Brazil!

The Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence

 Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence is a new find. This is his first novel after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. I'm on page 148 of 531 pages and am enjoying every word, literally. The translation from the Turkish by Maureen Freely is easy to read, flows smoothly, and the love story itself is very engrossing. Is it a story of love or obsession? We'll see.... as I head on down through the rest of the pages.

Michele Paiva, whose book, Truth, Next Exit I just reviewed, sent me a nice note: "Thank you so much! It's not a lengthy book but it was something I felt from the heart...and if it even helps one person overcome an obstacle, then I've done my job with it."  Her suggestions for personal change certainly made me look at many things in a new way.

I hope to join The Graphic Novels Challenge 2010.  The rules are simple: read one graphic novel featuring an animal character. Having never read a graphic novel all the way through, I think this would be a good challenge to try.

Carrie at Books and Movies, has given me a One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you, Carrie.

Today is the last day to enter my Simply Quince cookbook giveaway (U.S.)  Two copies are available. If you want to try using the fruit quince in cooking and making jams, preserves, and desserts, do enter the contest. UPDATE: Winners chosen: Esme and kalynnick!

Have a good week, everyone! Let us know what you did this past week!

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Feb 25, 2010

Book Review: Truth, Next Exit by Michele M. Paiva

Truth, Next Exit: No Excuses Scripture as your Personal Trainer and Life Coach by Michele M. Paiva

Michele Paiva describes her book as a way to make personal changes using the Socratic method of asking questions; she also uses readings from Scripture to suggest improvements for your life, health, habits of mind, and outlook. The book asks thoughtful and challenging questions, encouraging readers to provide their own answers.
"How would you feel if God came to you and said, "You know, I have given you a body, supplied you with healthy fruits and vegetables, and gave you the ability to make choices; what have you done to honor the life I've given you?"  What would you say?" (p. 25)</
"What do you give to yourself on a daily basis? Anything?"(p. 58)

"What do you do that sabotages your freedom? Do you depend on others too much?" (p. 74)
My comments: Truth, Next Exit is written as a guide book and workbook with exercises for readers to record their thoughts and answers. I found the book helpful and relevant to everyday living. The questions and comments on changing habits certainly put me in a reflective and thoughtful mood.

Author: Michele is a syndicated writer, author, broadcast professional, with a background in yoga and wellness therapy, and a strong "sense of spirituality." Learn more at her website, Michele Paiva. She can be reached at and on twitter and facebook.

This book was provided free for my objective review by Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book ToursChallenge: 100 + Reading Challenge

Finishing Your Novel, tips from Timothy Hallinan

Some tips for aspiring novelists:

Finishing Your Novel:  six sections of online suggestions by Timothy Hallinan,
author of Breathing Water and other fiction.

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction: writing suggestions by well known authors, in The Guardian.

Blogs that discuss writing:
All write with coffee...
Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
Confessiions of the Un-Published
Cozy Murder Mysteries
Killer Hobbies
Murder by 4
Murder is Everywhere
Mystery Writing is Murder
Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
Sasha Jackson Mysteries

and a book,
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Just a few of the online resources available on starting and finishing a book!

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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...