Aug 12, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Reading Choices

You can join Booking Through Thursday by clicking on this link. This week's question:

Have your reading choices changed over the years? Or pretty much stayed the same? (And yes, from childhood to adulthood we usually read different things, but some people stick to basically the same kind of book their entire lives, so…)

My answer: I haven't changed from loving mysteries, thrillers, and historical mysteries or novels written by international authors, but I have added spicy romances, memoirs, cookbooks, contemporary fiction, and some self-help books to my list. In all, my blog has quite a variety of books. You never know what you'll find on this blog!

What are your recent reading habits?

Aug 11, 2010

Book Review: A Darker God by Barbara Cleverly

A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (Mortalis) by Barbara Cleverly, 2010.

Reality mimics an ancient Greek tragedy on the stage of an ancient Theater of Dionysius, Athens, Greece in 1928. Archaeologist Laetitia Talbot is caught up in the drama and the unraveling of shocking and mysterious deaths.

The book cleverly combines Greek drama with political, historical and personal drama in 1920s Europe and Greece. With excellent storytelling and a strong sense of place, you get caught up as part of the audience in this extended Greek play and watch with pity and fear as events unfold. Laetitia (Letty) helps a British inspector and the Greek police to sort out the facts while risking her life for the sake of friends and a former lover.

Recommended for those who enjoy mystery, history, Greek drama, and archaeology. In other words, The Darker God (a reference to Dionysius), should have a wide appeal.

Title: A Darker God: A Laetitia Talbot Mystery (Mortalis)
Author: Barbara Cleverly
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Bantam; Original edition (March 23, 2010)
Genre: Archaeological mystery, historical mystery
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Aug 8, 2010

Guest Review: There's No Hope for Gomez by Graham Parke

- by guest reviewer, Reiny Lau
No Hope for Gomez!
No Hope for Gomez

There’s No Hope for Gomez! I didn’t expect much when I picked up this book. Well, that’s why they say, "Don't judge a book by its cover."

No Hope for Gomez is about a man named Gomez (of course!). He is a "lab rat" for experimental drug testing and he writes a blog about his daily life – which I would say is quite interesting. After he takes the medicine he's given, things around him start turning a bit out of place: an antiques dealer tries to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boils salamanders on his balcony, something makes him fall for his lab assistant, and when another guy in the same drug trial mysteriously dies – Now there’s a story for Gomez.

This book is a comedy, no doubt about that, but there’s also a bit of a thrill and suspense here. Parke did well in creating characters with strong personalities that will have you thinking about them for quite a while. I must say there’s a lot of good (and bad?) humor in this book. The plot isn’t too serious and the story line went smoothly as the blog entries Gomez wrote; there are a lot of points that will leave you wondering how this will end – and then you can’t put the book down.

If you like a story that will keep you smiling (or even going LOL!) – and if you like to read some suspense that won’t make you go all serious thinking about it, give a chance to Gomez.

Title: No Hope for Gomez!
Author: Graham Parke
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (January 12, 2010)
Genre: Comedy, suspense
Source: Publisher/publicist

Aug 6, 2010

New Books: Not All Mysteries :)

Five new books this week, to add to the toppling TBR pile:

Here are two ARC that just arrived:

Every Bitter Thing: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation Set in BrazilEvery Bitter Thing: A Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigation Set in Brazil by Leighton Gage, a mystery set in Brazil, to be released December 2010. Series of deaths of former passengers on TAB Flight 8101 from Miami to Sao Paulo, Brazil, has Inspector Mario Silva busy, especially since the latest is the son of Venezuela's foreign minister, found dead in his apartment in Brasilia. I like the setting; Brazil has such a vital environment and rich history.

The Insane Train (A Hook Runyon Mystery)The Insane Train (A Hook Runyon Mystery) by Sheldon Russell, to be released November, 2010. A mystery set in the 1940's, featuring railroad detective Hook Runyon. Survivors of a fire in an insane asylum are being transported by train to Oklahoma; several of the inmates and an attendant on the train are found dead. Hook Runyon investigates the suspicious circumstances and uncovers a long-held secret of revenge.

Add a mystery from last year,

Too Rich and Too Thin, Not an an AutobiographyToo Rich and Too Thin, Not an an Autobiographyby Barbara DeShong, a Jessica LeFave Mystery, 2009. Psychologist Jessica LeFave is inclined to link the death of  soft-porn novelist Bernice to the death of her husband David several months previously. Bernice was one of David's psychiatry patients and may have had secrets to hide.

These two I got from the library, after reading blogs that reviewed or introduced them:

I Curse the River of Time: A Novel (The Lannan Translation Series)I Curse the River of Time: A Novel (The Lannan Translation Series) by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund and Per Petterson, 2008. A work of fiction set in Norway, 1989, the novel is about Arvid Jansen, 37, trying to understand the choices he made in his youth and to remedy the estrangement between himself and his now ill mother.

The Man from BeijingThe Man from Beijing, a novel by Henning Mankel, translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson, 2010. A thriller involving Sweden, Beijing, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. I'm looking forward to this one too, as it seems to involve politics, history, as well as a mystery.

What books are you reading these days?

Aug 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: By Fire, By Water

Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by MizB, asks you to choose two sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

By Fire, By Water

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

The silver objects she had fashioned for the Great Synagogue of Cairo refused to leave Judith's mind. In her imagination, she continued turning them over and upside down, running her fingertips across their surfaces. (ch. 2)
Set in 15th Century Spain during the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Aug 2, 2010

Book Review: The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier

The Season of Second Chances

The Season of Second Chances: A Novel by Diane Meier

Synopsis: After 15 years teaching among dry, competitive, and unfeeling academics at Columbia University in New York, Joy Harkness leaves for Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she finds warm hearted people, friends, the perfect house to refurbish for her own, and a lover. Divorced, she is given a second chance at life.

My comments: Friendship and community in a small city are balanced against hard driving ambition, competition and the fast life of a big city. I liked the theme of the benefits of a less complicated life among friends at work and at home. The novel was well written, the characters engaging.

However, I found the character of the handyman/lover of Joy's somewhat inconsistent. Teddy appears very capable and sensitive to adults and children and yet has an overpowering weakness that seems out of character with the smart person he is. Joy however is the likeable and consistent person to follow in this "season of second chances." Anyone interested in reading contemporary women's fiction should enjoy this novel.

Author: Diane Meier
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
Genre: Women's fiction
Source: ARC from publisher
My objective rating: 3.75 to 4

Aug 1, 2010

Sunday Salon: Speed Reading

The Sunday

Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

Back to my own desk and computer and have a new plan - speed reading. I often read every word and am slowed down by conventional reading. Some one showed me the basics of speed reading and now I'm trying it out to get through all the books in my pile! I'm reading down the middle of the page and letting my eyes adjust to registering the words on the right and left as I go along.

My current books:  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, and The Season of Second Chances: A Novel by Diane Meier. (I actually started this novel a few weeks ago and haven't had a chance to pick it up again.) The two books are different enough that I have no trouble reading both at the same time, depending on whether I'm at home or in the car.

When I returned after two weeks way, I found two other books waiting - By Fire, By Water by Mitchell Kaplan and The Secret of Happiness, by Demosthenes Armeniades, a book described as an "off-beat fairy tale thriller."

 Now I know the secret to finishing 7 or 8 books in one week!

What have you been reading or speed reading?

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...