Jan 31, 2012

Teaser: Threadbare, A Needlecraft Mystery by Monica Ferris

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

Title: Threadbare: A Needlecraft Mystery
December 6, 2011; Berkley Hardcover

"I thought she was living on the street."

"Yes, some of the time. She goes to shelters at night, especially in the winter. Oh, you mean because she knits or does embroidery. Well, why not? You can do that in a library if you're quiet about it. It helps her pass the time." (ch. 3)

Publisher's description: "Besty Devonshire of the Crewel World needlework shop gets embroiled in an embroidery mystery. When an elderly homeless woman is found dead on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, she's wearing something that holds the key to her identity but also opens up a mystery. Embroidered on her blouse is her will, in which she bequeaths everything she owns to her niece-Emily Hame, a member of the Monday Bunch at Betsy's needlework shop!

Emily's aunt turns out to be the second homeless woman to be found dead under mysterious circumstances. It's up to Betsy to discover the common thread between the deaths-and to determine if a murderer may strike again... "

This review book is the 15th in the mystery series.

Jan 30, 2012

Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks by Martin Chu Shui

 Here are the opening sentences for the fantasy YA novel,Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks (Dragon's Pupils Series Book 2). Opening sentences can reveal the tone of a novel and give readers the flavor of a book.
"A group of shadowy figures swiftly negotiated their way among the giant gum trees. In silence, gliding over the green moss and rotten vegetation that covered earth, they approached the lone farm house situated at the edge of a large forest.
 Underneath the thick blanket of midnight’s darkness, their black-clothed bodies were almost invisible. Walking around the house and carefully avoiding the faint light emitted from the windows, they peeked inside: Around a desk, two teenage girls were reading books beside a pair of flickering candles.
One of the ghostly figures turned around scanning the surroundings one more time and then nodded to the others. Rising from the shadows suddenly, he strode towards the house.

With a loud cracking noise, he broke down the front wooden door with one powerful kick." (Part I)
Title: Dragon's Pupils: The Peaks by Martin Chu Shui
Kindle Edition , Dec. 3, 2011
Genre: fantasy, YA, martial arts

Product description: " Powerful and invincible they ride across vast desert landscapes, hunting and slaying vampires under the cover of night. Jian Ke, the sword guests are more famous than ever! Admired by millions of TV fans around the nation as they pursue a life of action and adventure: a splendid tapestry depicting Liz, Henry and Sue at the top of their game. With her paintbrush in hand Liz is prepared to take on a hoard of vampires, an army of aliens and even her first kiss from the man of her dreams, Sue’s handsome older brother.

Life couldn’t be better until everything falls to pieces. Liz must now face her biggest fears as the world she once knew slips through her fingers. No-one will be left untouched by the chaos which ensues. Armed only with her knowledge of Tai Chi, Liz must fight for what she has lost and begin the climb of her life. An unforgettable journey will take her to the Peaks.

Dragon's Pupils - The Peaks the second instalment of the Dragon’s Pupils series, follows the drama of Liz’s life as she fights monsters, wields magic and longs for forbidden love. It is a journey which will take you through Australia’s most beautiful landscapes and ultimately witnesses the transformation Liz undergoes, as she rises to meet her latest challenge."

I received a review copy of the ebook.

Jan 29, 2012

Sunday Salon: World Book Night April 23; Sign up by Feb. 6

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon.

World Book Night will be held on April 23, 2012 across the U.S., UK and Ireland. Here is it's aim:

WHAT: "WBN has a goal of getting 50,000 people to go out to places in their communities on the evening of Monday, April 23, 2012, and give a book to a stranger or to people you might know but believe aren’t frequent readers.

WHERE: We will ask that you go to a coffee shop or hospital, church or community center, an after-work party or train home, shopping mall or local school -- and give out 20 free paperbacks, books provided by World Book Night.

These paperbacks will be specially-produced, not-for-resale World Book Night U.S. editions, and there will be 30 titles for you to choose from.

A million free books in all!

THE BOOKS: Here is the list of 30 World Book Night U.S. books. Register by Feb. 1 to be a giver, by making three book choices and telling us why you’d like to participate and where you are thinking of going to give out your books.

You will be notified in early February if you have been chosen to be a book giver and which of the three books we are able to provide you with. You will then choose at which local bookstore or library you’d like to pick up your box of books ahead of World Book Night.

And afterwards, we’d love you to share your book giving experience with us, as we get ready for the next year!

Lastly, we intend to promote reading year-round, not just one night, and we especially hope that you can continue to support bookstores and libraries. In these times, they need your support more than ever.

Take the family, friends to bookstore or library this week, and as often as possible."

RECAP: During World Book Night, 50,000 people, named as “book givers,” will each be giving away 20 books from a select list with a goal to have 1,000,000 people across the United States alone celebrating reading en masse. There will be adult books and young adult titles given away.

SIGN UP: People can sign up at http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/about-world-book-night/register-as-a-2012-giver by February 6 to apply to be a “book giver.

You can see the complete list of titles that includes books from authors like Jodi Picoult, Michael Connelly, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver and Junot Diaz, among others at: http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/wbn2012-the-books.

You can find WBN on facebook and twitter.

Jan 27, 2012

Outside the Lines: a Novel by Amy Hatvany - Opening Sentences

Outside the Lines: A Novel by Amy Hatvany
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Release date: February 7, 2012

Opening sentences in a novel can set the tone and help readers decide about the book. Here are the opening sentences for Outside the Lines: A Novel .

The call came at three thirty in the morning, a time slot predestined for the arrival of bad news. No one calls to tell you you've won the lottery in the middle of the night. Your boyfriend doesn't call you to propose.

The shrill of my cell phone dug into my dreams and wrenched me from sleep. This is it, I thought. He's dead. Six months ago, I'd given the morgue at Seattle General my number along with a copy of a twenty-year-old picture of my father. "I don't care what time it is," I told the hospital administrator. "If he turns up, I'll come right away." (p. 1)

Publisher's description: "When Eden was ten years old she found her father, David, bleeding out on the bathroom floor. The suicide attempt led to her parents’ divorce, and David all but vanished from Eden’s life. Since childhood, she has heard from him only rarely, just enough to know he’s been living on the streets and struggling with mental illness. But lately, there has been no word at all.

Now in her thirties, Eden decides to go look for her father, so she can forgive him at last, and finally move forward. When her search uncovers other painful truths—not only the secrets her mother has kept from her, but also the agonizing question of whether David, after all these years, even wants to be found—Eden is forced to decide just how far she’ll go in the name of love."

About the author: Amy Hatvany is the author of three other novels, including Best Kept Secret. She lives in Seattle with her family.

Jan 26, 2012

Book Review: The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

She ... scrolled her BlackBerry to where she could reread the Facebook message.

"Saw the cake you made for Glenna Brooks. Would love it if you would do one for my wedding on January 15. We'll pay for your plane ticket, put you up for the week at Elysium, provide you with a car and driver, and, of course, pay for the cake.
Let me know ASAP if you are interested!"

Jillian Abernathy. The name was vaguely familiar. (ch. 1)

Title: The Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery
Hardcover: 352 pages; William Morrow
Release date: January 17, 2012)

So begins cake maker Piper Donovan's escape from Manhattan to Los Angeles and to an exclusive spa in the Hollywood Hills, courtesy of Jillian Abernathy, a wealthy client who wants Piper to make a wedding cake for her nuptials at Elysium, the high-end spa she is director of and which her father owns. The work-and-vacation trip to LA turns out to be anything but relaxing for Piper, however.

A housekeeper, Esperanza, is disfigured when acid is thrown into her face by someone who thought the housekeeper was Jillian. Someone either doesn't want the marriage to happen or is seeking revenge against Elysium by trying to harm Jillian.

With two murders and more scares for Jillian later on, Piper is urged by her parents and by her boyfriend, FBI agent Jack Lombardi, to return to New York and extricate herself from the scary mess that the planned wedding has become.

But Piper is also attending try-outs for TV commercials in Hollywood, and her long-held dreams of becoming an actress keep her in LA and at Elysium. She soon becomes friendly with other clients at the spa and discovers more unsavory things at Elysium. She is pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery.

I gave this easy to read and enjoyable novel a 4/5 rating. The book has interesting characters and tidbits of information about LA, including the real life Monastery of the Angels, a religious institution in the Hollywood Hills famous for its homemade pumpkin bread.

Author: New York Times bestselling author Mary Jane Clark is currently taking cake-decorating classes, as she works on her next novel. Her mother made customized cakes for the neighborhood kids when Mary Jane was growing up.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 25, 2012

Book Review: The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb

"Honey!" he said, touching her trembling back while squelching the desire to shout. I was preyed upon, dammit! I was ambushed by a miserable creature who used the traction of a single kiss to try to wound both of us! That's the truth! (ch. 18)
The Face Thief: A Novel by Eli Gottlieb
William Morrow; Hardcover, 256 pages; Jan. 17, 2012
Genre: literary novel, suspense
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Margot Lassiter, a young magazine journalist, wakes up slowly in the hospital, not rememering much about the fall down a long marble staircase that caused serious head injury and partial amnesia. Had she been pushed? Detective Dan France visits her regularly to try to find out. He also is looking closely into her life before her injury. As she lies in the hospital recovering, Margot remembers her childhood and the influences on her life.

Flashback to Lawrence Billings, a psychologist who gives seminars on face reading, body language and how to use this to advantage in the business world. Margot is one of the attendees at a seminar, and she insists on taking private lessons from Lawrence so she can have improve her skills in business dealings. But it turns out that Margot is the master, not Lawrence,and she is able to manipulate him with her own body language and her sharp ability to read his. "Men speak a stench," she often thinks, and she can sniff them out expertly.

Flashback again to another man, 42-year-old John Potash, a happily married man, comfortably well off, who is persuaded by telemarketer Janelle Styles from Greenleaf Financial to look into investments with her company in the newest green technology. He meets her and her partners and is convinced that he would make a mint by investing almost all of his savings, his wife's savings, and his mother's.

The three stories converge in the novel to create a suspenseful tale of psychology and manipulation. The men - Dan the detective, Lawrence the psychologist and face reading specialist, and John the investor - are no match for Margot, who reads them easily. When Margot recovers and leaves the hospital, the men try to minimize the damages done to their marriages and self esteem.

I wished that the book had gone into more detail about face reading, but it didn't except for when Lawrence gives a few tips in his seminars. A jagged hairline could mean some traumatic experience in the teenage years, shape of the upper or lower lip could show either a sensual or pleasure denying bent, extra plumpness on the lower cheeks around the mouth could mean lots of energy. Large ears low on the head would make the person thoughtful and deliberate; a cleft chin would mean a big ego....and so forth.

The Face Thief made me think of how often people I know or I myself put on a face or attitude that didn't reveal true feelings. It certainly will make me more observant of body language and face characteristics. Not that this novel is all negative...There is at least one innocent, goodhearted man in the book, and at least three good women. None of them are Margot.

A fascinating book that is both a literary and a suspense novel. I am anxious to read the author's other novel, Now You See Him, which also got good reviews.

About the author: Eli Gottlieb’s New York Times Notable Book, The Boy Who Went Away, won the Rome Prize and the 1998 McKitterick Prize from the British Society of Authors. His second novel, Now You See Him, has been translated into eleven languages. He lives in New York City.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Jan 24, 2012

Book Review: The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

Title: The Moment: A Novel by Douglas Kennedy
Publisher: Atria Books (2011), Paperback, 544 pages
Objective rating: 3.5/5

Comments: The book is a love story but also an historical novel with detailed information about Berlin during the Cold War when the city was divided into East and West Berlin. As a writer, American Thomas Nesbitt had access to the city of East Berlin, which was closed off to the rest of the world by the Berlin Wall. It was in East Berlin that he met the love of his life. Years later in Maine, the past and his life in East Berlin return in the form of a package mailed to him from his former love.

Unfortunately, the love story was lost for me in the many pages of  the recreation of the history, climate, politics, and physical atmosphere of the divided city. Those looking for a straightforward romance will also find themselves engrossed in details showing the mood and the terrible politics of the time. As such, I found it a bit too heavy and long, but I'm very sure The Moment would be very worthwhile for those who want to know more about Berlin and its history.

Author Douglas Kennedy is the New York Times bestselling author of Leaving the World. His website is www.douglaskennedynovelist.com

I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart" Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of suc...