Jan 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: 52 Small Changes by Brett Blumenthal, review


Title: 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal
AmazonEncore; January 3, 2012
My objective rating: 4/5

There are 52 tips in this self-help health manual for making small but significant changes in your way of life, one change per week for the next year. There is not a whole lot of extreme suggestions; most of them we already know as good for health and well being. But there is something about having these food, exercise, green living, mental well being and attitude changes laid out for you in chapters, with details, some scientific information,  and a lot of encouragement.

The manual even has a weekly change checklist and activity logs to track your progress, plus nine pages of references for more information. The tips start out with simple changes and then graduate to more challenging ones.

Week 1 urges you to Drink Up, which means increasing your water intake.
Week 2 wants you to Get Your Zzzs, and sleep 7-8 hours each night.
Week 3 tells you to Stay Off the Couch, or keep moving and getting routine activity daily.
Week 20 suggests that you Live with Purpose, committing and being open to change.
Week 39 urges you to Control Your Clutter, declutter and organize.

Towards the middle of the manual, you have photos and instructions for stretching exercises. There are also tips on how to clean with natural products and avoid overuse of chemicals in the house. By the end of the manual, you will have detailed information on health benefits or drawbacks to certain foods, including types of fish, some of which contain high levels of mercury.

I'll keep this book for certain tips, especially on which safe products are good for cleaning,  and checking on food values and any foods that are risks for contaminants. I also like the stretching exercise tips.

A complimentary copy of this book was sent to me for possible review.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission.

Dec 31, 2011

Best Crime Fiction Reads in 2011



This is a meme created by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, who is collecting your list of the best crime novels read in 2011.

I read cozies and thrillers and all the genres in between and am partial to some types of crime fiction as you can see by the books I've included in this list.

Here are some of the books (not including eBooks) I enjoyed reading in 2011. I liked all the ones that I reviewed and feel terrible about leaving some books off this list, but for the sake of having a shorter list, here goes... CLICK ON BOOK TITLES TO SEE MY REVIEWS.

The Perfect Suspect by Margaret Coel
Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons by Blaize Clement
Ink Flamingos by Karen E. Olsen
Tahoe Hijack by Todd Borg
The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn
Betrayal of Trust; and The Most Dangerous Thing by J.A. Jance and Laura Lippman
Thick as Thieves by Peter Spiegelman
Endangered by Pamela Beason
Murder in Passy by Cara Black
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
Red Jade by Henry Chang
A Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage
Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn
The Summoner by Layton Green
Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen (this is the European title of the book, which was printed under another name in the U.S.)

There are more, as evidenced by the fact that I keep adding to this list...

My Life According to the Books I Read in 2011

This is an end of year wrap up meme hosted by happily ever after...  If you want to join in, head on over to her blog to add your post to Mr. Linky.
Just enter the names of books you have read that fit the prompts. Don't repeat the names of any books! And click on the titles for my reviews, if you're curious about the books.

Describe yourself:
Island Girl,
The Perfect Suspect
Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons

How do you feel:
Teed Up for Love

Describe where you currently live:
The Demi-Monde: Winter

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
My Korean Deli

Your favorite form of transportation:
Tahoe Hijack

Your best friend is:
The Dog Who Knew Too Much

You and your friends are:
Thick as Thieves

What's the weather like:
Night on Fire

What is life to you:
A Rather Remarkable Homecoming

Favorite time of day:
Zero Day

Your fear:
Running on Empty

What is the best advice you have to give:
The Art of Saying Goodbye

Thought for the day:
Please Look After Mom

How I would like to die:
Naughty in Nice

My soul's present condition:
Call Me Irresistible

This was fun! Try it!

Dec 30, 2011

Books Reviewed in 2011: Wrap Up

How many books did you read and review in 2011 and which ones were memorable, your favorites, your top picks? I wouldn't have been able to make this list without my new and faster PC! At least I wouldn't have tried it. Happily, I managed  to make a list to keep track of my own reading!

I liked almost all of the books I reviewed, but the two-star books I really enjoyed. Want to know more about a specific book? Click on the book titles for the review.

Oct.-Dec.

The Demi-Monde: Winter
A Vine in the Blood **
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles) **
Me Again: A Novel **
Teed Up for Love,
So Far Away: A Daughter's Memoir of Life, Loss, and Love, 
Shoe Done It,
The Goat Woman of Largo Bay,
Song of the Silk Road,
Borneo Tom: Stories and Sketches of Love, Travel, and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia,
Endangered (A Summer Westin Mystery),
Yoga Bitch, **
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree,
1Q84,**
As the Pig Turns,
The Economics of Ego Surplus,
The Last Chinese Chef **
The Last Blind Date,
Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes; Dreaming in Chinese; The Gilded Shroud
Little Elvises,
The Ugly Sister, **
You Never Know,
Ding, Dong, the Diva's Dead,
A Rather Remarkable Homecoming,
The Stranger You Seek,
Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems,
How to Be an American Housewife, **


July - Sept.

Thick as Thieves, **
Little Black Dress,
Naughty in Nice; The Tale of Castle Cottage,
Sanctus,
Death on Tour,
Help! For Writers,
Betrayal of Trust; and The Most Dangerous Thing, **
Pao: A Novel,
Death of the Mantis,
The Dog Who Knew Too Much, **
Brute Strength: A Dog Lover's Mystery
The Silent Girl,
The Perfect Suspect,
The Lantern, **
The Egyptian,
Spycatcher, **
A Bitter Truth,
A Cosy Knave,
Dragon's Pupils - the Sword Guest,
What Alice Forgot,  **
What Language Is,
Lost Memory of Skin, **
The Rules of the Tunnel,
To Sketch a Thief,
Tahoe Hijack, **
Tempest in the Tea Leaves; Till Death Do Us Bark,
In Search of the Rose Notes, **
Overbite, **
County Line,
Killer Move,

April - June

A Clutch of Cozy Mysteries,
Mercy, **
The Sweetness of Tears,
The Art of Saying Goodbye, **
Insatiable, **
Night on Fire,
Island Girl, **
Ink Flamingos, **
Death by Midnight,
Two Mystery Novels: Deadly Threads; and The Illusion of Murder
My Korean Deli,
Running on Empty,
The Civilized World,
The Long Goodbye: A Memoir; and Please Look After Mom **
The Eighth Scroll,
The Lock Artist,
Three Mystery Novels: The Case of the Missing Servant; Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs; and The Case of the Kidnapped Angel,
Mothers and Daughters,
Winged Obsession, **
I'm Going Where I Belong,
Mourning Gloria,
Bullet Work,
The Shepherd,
The Summoner, **
Dragon Chica, **
Call Me Irresistible,
If a Dog Could Blog,

Jan. -March

The Beloved Dead: An  Arthurian Mystery,
The Sandalwood Tree,
Murder in Passy **; Death of a Chimney Sweep; The Headhunter's Daughter; and Scones and Bones,
Beaglemania,
Dead Light District,
Little Princes, **
Shift: 13 Exercises, **
Red Jade, **
Radio Shangri-La,
Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons, **
Zero Day,
A Red Herring Without Mustard, **
Fashion Unraveled,
The Thieves of Darkness,
The Sari Shop Widow,
A Heartbeat Away,
The Lotus Eaters, **
Delirious, **

Whew! That was a job! I have not included books I've read but not reviewed. I should have joined the 100 Book Reading Challenge! How about you? What were your memorable reads in 2011?

Library Finds: New Reads for the New Year

It's been a while since I've borrowed books from the library, so on a visit yesterday to pick up a book on hold, I found a few others to read over the holidays. Here are two memoirs and two mystery novels, with brief descriptions from the publishers...


Title: Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer

"Ten years ago, Claire Dederer put her back out while breastfeeding her baby daughter. Told to try yoga by everyone from the woman behind the counter at the co-op to the homeless guy on the corner, she signed up for her first class. She fell madly in love....Dederer found that the deeper she went into the poses, the more they tested her most basic ideas of what makes a good mother, daughter, friend, wife—and the more they made her want something a little less tidy, a little more improvisational. Less goodness, more joy." Published December 21st 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Title: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (A Flavia de Luce Novel) by Alan Bradley

"It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film.... As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight." Published November 1st 2011 by Delacorte Press

Title: A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

"Starting with charred fried rice and ending with flaky pineapple tarts, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan takes us along on a personal journey that most can only fantasize about--an exploration of family history and culture through a mastery of home-cooked dishes. Tan's delectable education through the landscape of Singaporean cuisine teaches us that food is the tie that binds."  Published February 8th 2011 by Voice



Title: A Florentine Death (Michele Ferrara) by Michele Giuttari

"Meet Michele Ferrara. Lover of a good bottle of local Rossi di Montalcino, smoker of Antico Toscano cigars - and head of Florence's elite police force, the Squadra Mobile. With a rising murder rate and high levels of Mafia activity, Ferrara has an unenviable job....It seems a deadly serial killer is at work...Ferrara doesn't understand what links the victims - but, with sick, teasing notes arriving for him from the killer, he needs to solve the crime before he becomes the next victim."  Published July 31st 2007 by Abacus (first published 2004)

These are not all newly published books, but their covers caught my eye on the library stands. I had read about all of them before, except for the Michele Ferrara mystery novel.

What are you planning to read over the New Year's holidays? Anything special?

Dec 29, 2011

Book Review: The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees


Title: The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (December 27, 2011)
Objective rating: 3/5

"The Demi-Monde:

1. A subclass of society whose members embrace a decadent lifestyle and evince loose morals.
2. A shadow world where the norms of civilized behavior have been abandoned.
3. A massive multiple-player simulation technology that re-creates in a wholly realistic cyber-milieu the threat-ambiance and no-warning aspects of a hi-intensity, deep-density, urban Asymmetric Warfare Environment.
4. Hell.

Welcome to the Demi-Monde, the ultimate in virtual reality—a military training ground and vivid, simulated world of cruelty and chaos run by psychopaths, madmen and fanatics. If you die here, you die in the Real World . . ." (publisher's description)

My comments: I started out liking Chapter 1 and thought it would be fun to read the rest of the book. The premise was promising: an 18-year-old jazz singer Ella Thomas is sent into the shadow world of the Demi-Monde to find the missing daughter of the President of the U.S., a girl who entered a simulated world that is too lifelike, full of history's most notorious characters, and extremely dangerous.
However, I soon found the book was not for me, for the following reasons:
1. I would have preferred new villains instead of the old ones rehashed - the bad guys in history showing up again and again in this book.

2. I was put off by the names of the groups, names which made it hard for me to take the book seriously. UnFunDaMentalism is the name of the new religion in the ForthRight. Then there is HimPerialism, another religion in an Arabic sector. There are the HerEtical Sisters of Suffer-O-Gettism who serve the witch Jeanne Dark. These names all seemed to me extremely silly (my apologies to the author). Add to the groups "the Zulus and the Chinks"....need I say more?

Here is some of the dialogue: "I need an assistant, Miss Thomas - a beautiful, vivacious and intelligent assistant - who can assist me in the execution of certain elements of theatricality I, through necessity, have been obliged to incorporate into my performances."
Ella smiled."So you want me to be your assistant flimflammer?"  (ch. 16. This is taken from an uncorrected proof. The final copy may differ.)

The book has been nominated for prizes in England. I don't know how it will do in the U.S.

About the author: Rod Rees lives near Derby, England. He has traveled throughout Africa, the Middle East, Bangladesh, and Russia. The Demi-Monde: Winter is the first in a planned four-book series.

I won an ARC of  this novel from the publisher.

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge 2012


I've joined the Murakami Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by tanabata,  the second year in a row. I have Murakami books on Kindle and on my shelves and hope to polish them off in 2012. That's my Murakami New Year's Resolution.

For the challenge, there are different reading levels, which you can see by clicking on the link to tanabata. You can read only one or graduate to more books and can even submit your past reviews.

Here's what I've reviewed in 2011 and 2007 and added to the list:

1. Thoughts on 1Q84
2. After Dark

more to come....

Sunday Salon: New Reads

 Recently finished: Central Park  by Guillaume Musso,  March 16, 2021 by Bay Back Books. Genre: thriller, mystery Source: Netgalley The book...