Aug 13, 2011

Sunday Salon: Perfect Weather

The Sunday Salon.comWelcome to the Sunday Salon. Click on the logo to join in.

The weather has been great the past few days. Sunny but cool. Loved swimming outdoors. I wish it would be like this through November.

I reviewed three books since the last Sunday Salon - a cozy - Sketch of a Thief, a memoir - The Rules of the Tunnel, and a novel, Lost Memory of Skin. I'm finishing up a delicious novel about a woman with amnesia - What Martha Forgot. I have a book tour for What Language Is on Aug. 15 and at least 3 e-Books waiting to be read. 

My book sorting and re-shelving is about 75% through. I gave away quite a few books to the local library. Whew! What a relief. Then I can begin to tackle all the other things that also need sorting, re-arranging, etc. This could take a while!

Got a few books in the mail that I'm looking forward to reading too.  What have you been reading/doing recently?  

Aug 11, 2011

Book Review: Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks


Title: Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell Banks
Hardcover: 432 pages. Ecco Books. 
Publication date: September 27, 2011
Source: ARC from HarperCollinsPublishers
Objective rating: 4.5/5

About: A twenty-something year old known as the Kid is discovered living under a Florida causeway with his pet iguana and his fellow homeless sex offenders, who have nowhere else to go. They have to abide by the rule that they must remain in the area as they are on parole, but they cannot live within a certain distance of schools, day care centers, or other places where there might be children. They are in a quandary because of this and are monitored by police and social workers through an ankle bracelet, which each offender must wear at all times.

The Professor is doing research on homeless sex offenders and decides to study the Kid, while trying to help him find a job and even a better way to live.  We soon find out though that the famous though grossly overweight Professor has problems of his own and a past in the inky world of espionage that soon begins to catch up with him. We see him through the eyes of the sceptical and cynical Kid, who is not a reliable narrator/observer. What is real and true about the Professor, and what is not? And how does he help or does not help the Kid? The reader has to make up his or her own mind. 

Comments:  I think that the book points a finger at some aspects of American society, the way it sometimes deals with people on all levels - imposing harsh, unrealistic and unbending rules for sex offenders like the Kid, for instance, and also for dealing in a secretive and ruthless way with successful people like the Professor, who may have done too much or know too much.

I was intrigued by the entire book. The Professor remains a mystery, but getting inside the head of the Kid and his history was quite a trip. It's a thought provoking book that gives an up close look at the life of a homeless person in the Kid, his living under the dark, dirty and dingy underside of the causeway, then trying to make a home on a houseboat in the swamps of the Everglades, the only other place he can find to live within the legal limits. 

I'm interested to see what other readers think about the book. Let me know!
 © Harvee Lau 2011


Aug 9, 2011

Book Review: The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman

Title: Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness
Author: Ned Zeman
Hardcover: 320 pages;  Gotham
Publication date: August 4, 2011
Genre: memoir, psychology
Source: TLC
Objective rating: 4/5

"Get up. Get the blood flowing. Go somewhere. Anywhere. Except to the shooting range or Ohio....
Call someone, anyone....
Resistance is futile.
Adapt or die.
The future is yours.
These are the rules of the tunnel." (p. 307)


About the book: Reporter Ned Zeman faces severe depression at age 32, so severe that he undergoes electroconvulsive therapy, shock treatment. However, this leaves him with almost two years of amnesia, when he literally has to start all over again. This is his story, of what he went through, what he learned from it, and what he wants readers to also gain from his experience.

My comments: This is not an easy book to read. It is a journey into the mind of a severely depressed person who gives us an insight into what and how he sees while going through his depression, amnesia, recovery. Some things could be scary, if you think deep and hard about it. Did his bout of severe anxiety and depression have something to do with his sensitivity to medication he had been taking? People more sensitive to their environment and to outside influences, either ingested as medicine or as life perceived and experienced, may sway under these influences and even go under.

Zeman shares his "brief period of madness" with us. He also offers solutions, tips to help those like himself cope; he describes his treatments and gives us enough medical information about his condition.

A very worthwhile book. An injection of humor makes it easier to read for those who wouldn't normally pick up a book on this topic.

About the Author: Ned Zeman is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, where he has covered a wide range of subjects: crime, politics, Hollywood, and outdoor adventure. He has also written for Newsweek, Spy, GQ, Outside, and Sports Illustrated. Two of his articles have been finalists for the National Magazine Award, and he cowrote the screenplay for Sugarland, the forthcoming film starring Jodie Foster. He lives in Los Angeles.

TLC Book Tours
For other reviews of this book on the TLC tour, see Schedule of book tour stops

Aug 7, 2011

Sunday Salon: Whipping those books into order

The Sunday Salon.comWelcome to the Sunday Salon. Click on the logo to join in.

My library in the basement has been a jumble, and now thanks to LibraryThing, I'm getting it in order, catalogued and sorted. Sort of. I've only just begun, with 2/3 of the job still to go. Gave away a few books to the library, threw away a few that were unusable, and am stacking the rest in some kind of order. This is so I can find a specific book when I want to get it. Cookbooks here, dictionaries there, women's fiction and memoirs here, and lots of mysteries over there. Wish I had more travel books...so I can armchair world trips!

I am booked for two TLC Book Tours this month, one on Tuesday. Please come back then.

I bought at least 8 books at a library sale last week, too. Got my own copy, not too used, of The Poisonwood Bible, and several books of fiction by male and female authors whom I have never read. None of the books were mysteries!

Trying to keep cool in the outdoor pool at the Y but had to cut short my reading by poolside because of thunder yesterday. Might try again today.

What have you been reading/doing?

Aug 6, 2011

Opening Sentences: The Taba Convention by Stephen W. Ayers

Each week I'll introduce a book using its first paragraph(s). Here's The Taba Convention: A Jordan Kline Thriller by Stephen W. Ayers:


Alp Grum, Canton Graubunden, Switzerland, Friday August 10th

A crisp, high-altitude summer breeze took the heat out of the relentless sunshine. The crystal clear visibility and views were breathtaking. Two thousand meters up, Alp Grum was the highest point reached by the open tourist trains that left St. Moritz. The train climbed the mountains before making its laborious way down into Tirano in Italy. The view was picture-perfect, a Swiss postcard - even down to the cows with bells grazing in the lush green pastures on the mountainsides.

The morning had been excruciatingly boring for Yuval Eisenstadt of the Mossad. He had followed the Palestinian activist since leaving Israel, catching the same flight two days earlier out of Ben Gurion International to Kloten Airport. Since arriving in Zurich, the Palestinian had done nothing to arouse suspicion.
(ch. 1)


Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace, June 4, 2011
Genre: political thriller
Source: author, Smith Publicity

Book description: Two deadly adversaries, one horrific conspiracy against Middle East peace. Disillusioned with the continued killing in the agency, Jordan Kline resigns to take up hotel management studies. Now the General Manager of the Sands Eilat hotel, Jordan enjoys life with his girlfriend Irit in the Red Sea resort town. An ex colleague is taken out on the Arava road, the long desert road leading from the Dead Sea to Eilat. On his way back from Tel Aviv, Jordan witnesses the dying man’s last words. They are words that will push Jordan reluctantly back into the world he had turned his back on. Jordan unravels a deadly conspiracy that threatens to engulf the Middle East in war. He becomes the most hunted man in Israel... (T)ime is running out as the historic date of The Taba Convention approaches.... The future of the Middle East is in doubt right up until the climax at the Taba Hilton Hotel in Taba, Egypt. (Amazon)

This is Book I in a three-part series.

Aug 4, 2011

To Sketch a Thief by Sharon Pape

Title: To Sketch a Thief (Portrait of Crime Mystery)
Publisher:Berkley; June 7, 2011
Source: copy from Publisher

About: Former sketch artist Rory McCain inherited an old Victorian mansion but she also inherited its ghostly occupant, a former federal marshal from the 1870s nicknamed Zeke, a ghost who insists on being part of her life and her sleuthing. When she finds a seemingly homeless dog, the dog leads her home to his owner, who has been killed. Rory feels she has to take the dog in, but Zeke objects strongly. In any case, the unlikely trio go on to solve another murder.

Comments: Dogs are always good companions whether you are a sleuth or not, and this mystery is all about them. The addition of a ghost to the plot gives a nice edge to the cozy,  though I would have loved to see the book  printed larger than the standard paperback! This is the second in the series and I'd love to read the first!

Aug 2, 2011

Teaser: Love Lies Bleeding by Jess McConkey

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



Her mind still racing with ideas, Sam looked up and found both Anne and Alice staring at her with a puzzled expression. "Ah, sorry, did you say something?" she asked, feeling a blush stain her cheeks. (ch. 7)
Title: Love Lies Bleeding: A Novel by Jess McConkey
Paperback: 336 pages; William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date: July 26, 2011
Genre: mystery
Source: publisher

Book description: To what lengths would you go to keep a past buried?

Samantha Moore is the golden girl—with a perfect job, a perfect man, a perfect life—until a random act of violence changes everything. Unconscious for two months, Sam awakens from her coma a different person—bitter, in constant pain, and forced to endure medications that leave her nauseous, paranoid, and struggling to keep a grip on reality.

Furious with her family for sending her away to a small, remote town to recuperate—placed completely under a physical therapist’s care and robbed of what little freedom she has left—Sam lashes out at the “nice people” all around her who claim to have only her best interests in mind. But are her violent outbursts the by-product of her condition . . . or something else entirely? Strange things are happening here—and either Samantha Moore is losing her mind or her friendly new neighbors are far more dangerous than they appear to be. . .

A September to Remember by Carol Bumpus: Review and Giveaway

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