Feb 22, 2011

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker

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

The Anthologist: A Novel

"What I'm doing when I'm writing poetry is I'm making a little side salad. Just the right amount of sprouts on the top, maybe a chickpea or two. No bacon. Maybe a slice of egg.  It doesn't feel like writing at all."
(ch. 3)

The Anthologist: A Novel by Nicholson Baker is a book I found by happy chance at the bookstore, just at the time I began to make an occasional side salad, bits of poetry. People who write and read poetry on the web are hugely supportive, never nasty, and find good things to say, no matter what you write. I am enjoying this book in small bites.

Goodreads book description: "The Anthologist is narrated by Paul Chowder -- a once-in-a-while-published kind of poet who is writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry. He's having a hard time getting started because his career is floundering, his girlfriend Roz has recently left him, and he is thinking about the great poets throughout history who have suffered far worse and deserve to feel sorry for themselves. He has also promised to reveal many wonderful secrets and tips and tricks about poetry, and it looks like the introduction will be a little longer than he'd thought.

What unfolds is a wholly entertaining and beguiling love story about poetry: from Tennyson, Swinburne, and Yeats to the moderns (Roethke, Bogan, Merwin) to the staff of The New Yorker, what Paul reveals is astonishing and makes one realize how incredibly important poetry is to our lives. At the same time, Paul barely manages to realize all of this himself, and the result is a tenderly romantic, hilarious, and inspired novel."

Feb 20, 2011

Book Review: Zero Day: A Novel by Mark Russinovich

Zero Day: A Novel
Zero Day: A Novel
by Mark Russinovich
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (March 15, 2011)
Genre: cyber terrorism thriller
Source: Phenix Publicity review cooy
Objective rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads book description: An insidious cyber-terrorist attack threatens to destroy the Western World in this debut by a leading expert on cybersecurity .
Over the Atlantic, an airliner’s controls suddenly stop reacting. In Japan, an oil tanker runs aground when its navigational system fails. And in the Midwest, a nuclear power plant nearly becomes the next Chernobyl.

At first, these computer failures seem unrelated. But Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst who saw the mistakes made before 9/11, fears that there may be a more serious attack coming. And he soon realizes that there isn’t much time if he hopes to stop an international disaster.

Zero Day presents a chilling “what if” scenario written in the vein of Richard A. Clarke and Daniel Suarez.
Comments: You can tell that Russinovich knows about computer security and security risks, from his detailed descriptions of things that could go wrong if hackers were to do the ultimate damage to computer programs and systems. It is chilling if you imagine it as something even remotely possible. The book seems to be a warning that cyber terrorism could be a real risk, in the ultimate sense, if it endangered transportation, energy sources, economic and business data, and even production of goods.

Those interested in computer systems and computer security will find this book interesting and informative. The average reader may find its technicality somewhat challenging.

Sunday Salon: Books, Poetry, and a New Language

The Sunday Salon.com

Welcome to the Sunday Salon. Click on the logo to join in!

Snow has melted,  but expect another freeze today and rain turning to slush. Will Monday roads be slick? Hope not. I have errands to run!

Did more than I thought I had over the week, though it's not as much as I would have liked! Slowing down with book reviews as I also am trying my hand at writing poetry, both on my poetry blog and in my journals!

Book reviews this past week:
A Red Herring without Mustard, the most recent  Flavia de Luce mystery
Fashion Unraveled, a how-to do fashion/craft business book tour
Thieves of Darkness, an international thriller
I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, a teaser and book description.
A Blog Hop featuring a look at a new travel memoir set in Nepal, Little Princes.

Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery (Dixie Hemingway Mysteries)
I finished reading a new Blaize Clement pet sitter mystery, Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery (Dixie Hemingway Mysteries) and gave it four out of five stars.

Good Poems
One of my favorite book of poetry, one I go back to time and again, reading wherever the page opens, is an anthology of easy-to-read poems: Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keilor. Another is The Giant Book of Poetry edited by William Roetzheim. Definitely relaxing to read. I recommend it when you don't have time to tackle a long novel but want to read some one's opinion or feelings or observations on a variety of topics. Surprising how many poets have similar experiences and reactions. And of course, I love the way they express themselves.

I am now reading Red Jade: A Detective Jack Yu Investigationby Henry Chang, a mystery set in a big city China Town.  I've also just finished  the ARC of Zero Hour, a cyber terrorism thriller by Andy McNab and will be doing a review. On Feb. 24, I'll be doing a TLC book tour and posting a review of a travel memoir, Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Please come back and look for it!

Would you believe I'm also trying to learn Japanese so I can communicate with my 3 year old grand daughter. Here's the book and CD that I'm listening to: Berlitz Japanese in 30 Days (Berlitz in 30 Days) (Japanese Edition). So far, I how how to end a sentence so that it becomes a question. I also know how to say goodbye, sayonara, with the proper intonations, so that it sounds like Japanese!  I'm slowly getting used to the sounds, stops, tones, etc.

What have you been doing over the long winter week?

Feb 19, 2011

Book Review: A Red Herring without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel

A Red Herring Without Mustard: A Flavia de Luce Novel
by Alan Bradley
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (February 8, 2011)
Genre: mystery
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5

Comments: Bradley has done it again, another perfect mystery featuring that precocious and witty 11-year-old sleuth, Flavia de Luce. The books seem to be getting better and better and Bradley is hard at work on his fourth in the series!

In A Red Herring Without Mustard, Flavia befriends a tired old Gypsy woman at an annual fete and invites her to park her caravan on her father's property in a secluded and grassy bend of the river. When the Gypsy woman is attacked in the night and seriously injured, her head bashed in, all eyes turn suspiciously to Flavia who was the last to see her. A murder occurs on her father's property soon after, and Flavia becomes involved in the case of a missing baby the Gypsy was supposed to have kidnapped and carried off many years earlier.

Flavia dodges the attentions of her father and sisters to carry out her sleuthing in the village, day as well as in the early hours of the morning. With her trusty bicycle, Gladys, the 11-year-old glides through the village and uses her sleuthing skills, her insatiable curiosity, as well as her knowledge of chemistry to track down clues and put them together to solve the mysteries.

Told in the first person, the narrative moves swiftly, as Flavia moves from one thing to the next and takes us on her journeys with her. Witty and observant, her words are delightful and full of clever images that make the book much more than just a good plot. If you enjoyed the first two in the series, then A Red Herring will be an even better treat.

Feb 17, 2011

Book Tour: Fashion Unraveled by Jennifer Lynne Matthews

Fashion Unraveled - Second Edition: How to Start and Manage Your Own Fashion (or Craft) Design Business

Title: Fashion Unraveled - Second Edition: How to Start and Manage Your Own Fashion (or Craft) Design Business by Jennifer Lynne Matthews
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Los Angeles Fashion Resource (December 10, 2010)
Source: review copy from author
Objective rating: 4 out of 5

Jeniffer Lynne Matthews is a designer for Porcelynne Lingerie and a successful business woman. In a second edition of her book, she has rewritten her steps on planning and creating a fashion/craft design business.

Comments: A very useful how-to publication for entrepreneurs of fashion/crafts who are thinking of starting a business. It takes you from a general plan to details of marketing, customer base, production, sales, laws and regulations, with case studies, a sample business plan, and more. If I ever decide to take my jewelry making hobby to the next level, I'll surely use this book.

Product DescriptionFashion Unraveled offers an inside look into the operations of a small fashion design business. This book offers tips, tools of the trade and valuable insight into the industry. This book will guide one through the business implementation process. Fashion Unraveled also features several designer interviews, including a Q&A with British designer Timothy James Andrews and couturier Colleen Quen.

About the Author:  As an educator at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Jennifer Lynne Matthews, saw a need to educate her students on how to start their own businesses. Matthews wrote the first edition of Fashion Unraveled in 2008 and completed the second edition in 2010. Understanding the concerns of her students entering the job market, Matthews developed her book to help create an entrepreneurial alternative. Matthews, also a lingerie designer and entrepreneur, attended Florida State University and Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Matthews opened her business, Porcelynne Lingerie in 2002. The book is based on Matthews’ experience from opening to sustaining a successful business. She brings the knowledge of running a small business and her expertise in the industry into her book and her classroom. Matthews has won numerous awards for her designs and has received worldwide accolades for her work. (Amazon)

For more information on Jennifer Matthews and her work, see http://www.fashionunraveled.com/ and http://www.porcelynne.com/

Virtual book tour by Tracee L. Gleichner
Pump Up Your Book

Feb 16, 2011

Book Review: The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch

The Thieves of Darkness

Title: The Thieves of Darkness
Author: Richard Doetsch

Publisher: Pocket Star Books
Paperback edition: Feb. 22, 2011
Genre: thriller, adventure
Source: review copy, Simon and Schuster
Objective rating: 4 out of 5
"Michael's heart plummeted his mind spun into confusion by the unexpected sight of the woman before him, the woman who sat on death row, the woman he had held in his arms less than two weeks ago.

Michael was left speechless as he stared into KC's eyes." (Ch. 1)
Publisher's description:

WILL A TREACHEROUS MISSION LEAD THEM INTO ANCIENT PARADISE . Reformed master thief Michael St. Pierre thinks his criminal days are behind him when his best friend Simon is sentenced to die in a brutal desert prison. Breaking into jail for the first time in his checkered career, Michael frees his friend only to discover his own girlfriend in the next cell.. . .

With a madman on their heels, the trio plots a series of daring thefts inside the world’s most celebrated and heavily guarded sanctums to find the mysterious artifact that landed them behind bars: a map to a secret holy place predating Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. From the glittering banks of the Bosporus to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, they embark on a globe-trotting adventure to preserve the priceless relics at stake and protect the fate of humanity.

Comments: Reminds me of books like The DaVinci Code with plots in holy places, secret maps, mysterious relics and a dash to find holy sanctums. For those who love adventure, a thrilling and dangerous ride through exotic locales, and a search important enough to affect the future.  

Feb 15, 2011

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life by Maxine Hong Kingston

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

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life

.... the artists of the chi, mostly women, Chinese
women, were moving, dancing the air/the wind/ energy/life, and getting the world turning.... They played with the chi, drawing circles in the sky, lifting earth to sky, pulling sky
to earth, swirling the controllable universe. Then walked off to do their daily ordinary tasks. (p. 61)

From I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, a verse memoir by Maxine Hong Kingston, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Jan. 18, 2011.

Description from Goodreads: "In her singular voice—humble, elegiac, practical—Maxine Hong Kingston's ....swift, effortlessly flowing verse lines feel instantly natural in this fresh approach to the art of memoir, as she circles from present to past and back, from lunch with a writer friend to the funeral of a Vietnam veteran, from her long marriage (“can’t divorce until we get it right. / Love, that is. Get love right”) to her arrest at a peace march in Washington....
On her journeys as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston revisits her most beloved characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China, where he has never been—a trip that becomes a beautiful meditation on the country then and now, on a culture where rice farmers still work in the age-old way, even as a new era is dawning. “All over China,” she writes, “and places where Chinese are, populations / are on the move, going home. That home / where Mother and Father are buried. Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.”
Such is the spirit of this wonderful book—a sense of doors opening wide onto an American life of great purpose and joy, and the tonic wisdom of a writer we have come to cherish." (Goodreads)

Feb 11, 2011

Blog Hop: Little Princes

The blog hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books. Hop on over to join in the fun.

This week's question..."Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!"

My last post was a quote and a book description of The Little Princes. Click on the title to see the post and the book cover. Thanks for visiting! 

Feb 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Little Princes by Conor Grennan

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

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

"Dawa - what is it? What's wrong?" I whispered frantically, my face just inches from his.
"Eyes, Brother!" he pleaded, blinking. ( p. 36)

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
(William Morrow, Jan. 25, 2011)

Amazon's product description: "In search of adventure, 29-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal.

Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined. When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war—for a huge fee—by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.

For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life’s work.

Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious, Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations. "

Feb 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: Voltaire's Calligrapher

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to Book Blogger Hop! Visit other blogs by linking up to the Hop at Crazy for Books, weekly from Friday through Monday, blog hop other blogs in the Linky list, and answer the question of the week.

This week's question: What are you reading now and why?

Voltaire's Calligrapher: A NovelI picked up a slim paperback that has been languishing on my shelf: Voltaire's Calligrapher: A Novel by Pablo De Santis, published Oct. 1, 2010. I see it as literary fiction, but it's described also as "steampunk mystery set in the time of Voltaire." (Booklist) Wish I had started it sooner!

The novel was sent to me by the publisher and I'm planning a review. The author is South American but this edition is published in English.

What are you reading right  now?

Feb 1, 2011

Book Review: The Tapestry Shop by Joyce Elson Moore

Title: The Tapestry Shop 
Author: Joyce Elson Moore

"Catherine glanced at the musician; all eyes were on him. This musician has smitten all the ladies and probably cannot see past his Norman nose, pampered as he is in court circles." (ch. 7)
Goodreads description: "The Tapestry Shop, by Joyce Elson Moore, is an historical novel based on the life of Adam de la Halle, a 13th century poet/musician who entertained in France's royal courts and who left behind a vast collection of secular compositions.
While researching Adam's music, the author discovered ... that the earliest version of the Robin Hood legend may have been Adam's play, Le Jeu de Robin et Marion. Because Adam was patronized by royalty, his play was probably performed in English courts, and would have changed, as legends do. In the retelling, Robin became an English hero, and Robin's companions became the Merry Men.

The book draws the reader into the Middle Ages, where women joined the crusades and students held discourse on the Street of Straw, but the overriding appeal of The Tapestry Shop may be Adam's connection to the popular legend of Robin Hood."
Comments: Romance, religion, history, music and poetry all rolled into one in this novel by Joyce Elson Moore about Adam de la Halle, a French trouvere or troubadour whom she did extensive research on for her novel. Well worth while for lovers of poetry and literature, history, and legend.
Title: The Tapestry Shop (Five Star Expressions)
Published: October 15th 2010 by Five Star
Genre: Historical, biographical fiction
Source: ARC from Carol Fass Publicity
Objective rating: 4 out of 5