Sep 10, 2012

Planes, Trains and Auto Rickshaws by Laura Pederson

Title: Planes, Train, and Auto-Rickshaws: A Journey Through Modern India by Laura Pedersen
Published May 29, 2012; paperback, 224 pages
Genre: travel memoir
Source: Authors on the Web
"If you're looking to experience ancient mystical India, then the holy city of Varanasi on the banks of the famous Ganges (aka Ganga) River is the place to go. Located five hundred miles southeast of Delhi, there are daily one-hour flights, or the Shiv Ganga Express train leaves every evening at 6:45 p.m. and arrives at 7:30 a.m. the following morning." ( p. 57)
About: India today is a nation caught between the rich heritage of its past and the great economic potential of its future. Journalist and author Laura Pedersen reveals the tensions and contradictions facing the emerging world power. In particular, Pedersen explores the roles of women and children in India today . Part travelogue, part history, and part cultural reflection, Planes, Trains, and Auto-Rickshaws provides an intimate glimpse of a nation at its turning point. (book description)

Laura Pedersen has written for The New York Times and is the author of several books. In 1994 President Clinton honored her as one of Ten Outstanding Young Americans. She writes for several well-known comedians and lives in New York City.

Sep 9, 2012

Book Giveaway: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Title: The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Harper's Paperbacks; August 21, 2012
Genre: historical novel

GIVEAWAY: The publisher is offering a newly released paperback of The Shoemaker's Wife: A Novel to a U.S. reader in a giveaway, now through Sept. 28. To enter, leave a comment with an email address so we can reach you. The winner will be chosen by random number and will have 48 hours to respond to an email notification. No P.O. addresses, please.

Visit my Review of The Shoemaker's Wife.

UPDATE: Deb Nance was chosen the winner by a random number generator. Thanks to everyone for entering the contest.

Sep 8, 2012

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile: A Novel by Enid Shomer

Title: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile: A Novel 
Author: Enid Shomer
August 21, 2012; Simon & Schuster
Genre: historical fiction
"My dear Rossignol, I sensed I would be your friend from the moment we met. Fate has brought us together in Egypt for a purpose."  ( ch. 12)
About the book: Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert traveled up the Nile at the same time in the mid 1800s. In reality, they never met. But in The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, they ignite a friendship marked by intelligence, humor, and a tenderness that will alter their destinies

Nightingale and Flaubert seem to have little in common. She is a woman with radical ideas about society and God, naive in the ways of men. He is a notorious womanizer, involved with innumerable prostitutes. But both are at crossroads in their lives with unfulfilled ambition. The two unlikely soulmates share their darkest torments and hopes, all against the opulent tapestry of mid-nineteenth century Egypt. (based on publisher's description)

GIVEAWAY: The publisher is offering a copy of The Twelve Rooms of the Nile to a U.S. reader in a giveaway, now through Sept. 22. To enter, leave a comment with an email address so we can reach you. The winner will be chosen by random number and will have 48 hours to respond to an email notification. No P.O. addresses, please.

UPDATE: The winner chosen by random number generator was Beverly S. Congrats!

Sep 7, 2012

Book Feature: Gold by Chris Cleave

Title: Gold by Chris Cleave
Hardcover, July 3, 2012; Simon and Schuster
Genre: fiction

I'm reading Gold, a novel about Kate and Zoe, two friends in England who are also rival Olympic speed cyclists. Zoe is single and Kate is married with a sick child, Sophie, which limits the time Kate can spend on track cycling. So far, Sophie seems to be just as important a part of the story as the two women.
" Look, Zoe. You've done all the hard work. You've made it to the final. Your worst-case scenario here is to be the second-fastest rider on the entire planet. The very worst thing that could happen in the next ten minutes is that you win an Olympic silver medal."
"You're scared of getting silver?"
She thought about it, then nodded. "I'd rather fucking die." (page 6)
About the author: Chris Cleave studied at Balliol College, Oxford. His debut novel, Incendiary, won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award and is now a feature film. His second novel, Little Bee, is an international bestseller. Cleave lives in London with his family.

Sep 6, 2012

Book Review: A Fistful of Collars: A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn

Title: A Fistful of Collars: A Chet and Bernie Mystery
Author: Spencer Quinn
Release date: September 11, 2011; Atria Books
Source: ARC from publisher

She looked up from a magazine as we approached.
"Is that a working or therapy dog?" she said.
"Yes," Bernie told her.
"That's the only kind management allows in here."
"I understand."
"How come he's not wearing his ID vest, you know, that says therapy or working right on it?"
"Chet's undercover," Bernie said. (ch. 19)

About the book: Canine narrator Chet the Dog and his human partner P.I. Bernie Little are the duo that make up the Little Detective Agency. In this book Bernie and his dog are hired to keep handsome but badly behaved movie star, Thad Perry, out of trouble while he films a Western in the Valley. They find this job more complicated than it should be. There is a mystery surrounding Thad's background, and the people with the answers start turning up dead.

This book combines mystery with humor and a perceptive take on the relationship between human and dog that is the hallmark of this bestselling mystery series. (based on publisher's description)

Comments: I loved the previous book, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, and decided I was a Chet and Bernie fan. A Fistful of Collars is outstandingly clever and entertaining in its telling, and the plot almost as good. A good read for mystery and dog lovers, and cat lovers too, even though Chet does some sparring with a cat named Brando.

Sep 5, 2012

Book Review: A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards

Title: A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards
Published July 31, 2012; Amistad; Paperback
Genre: British fiction, contemporary fiction

About: A British-born woman, daughter of an immigrant mother from Montserrat, the West Indies, lives with the idea that she caused her mother's death years ago, and begins to discover the more complex truth when the two men in her mother's life resurface after a 14-year absence.

Comments: The coats referred to in the title play an important part in the story of Jinx's relationship with her mother. The story unravels slowly, with numerous flashbacks to the time when Jinx was a teenager, when her mother was alive and visited by the two men - her mother's volatile abusive lover Berris and a family friend, Lemon. The mother-daughter relationship as perceived by Jinx is the crux of this story.

Well written and with an easy pace, I enjoyed this novel as a welcome addition to emerging British immigrant fiction and Caribbean fiction.

Yvvette Edwards has lived in London all her life. She currently resides in the East End and is married with three children. A Cupboard Full of Coats, her first novel, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.  It is also shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of this book.

For more reviews of A Cupboard Full of Coats, visit the book's tour schedule.
(Submitted for  Immigrant Stories 2012 Challenge).

Sep 1, 2012

Sunday Salon: Giving Away Books

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

I've given away ten books recently by leaving them in public places for other readers to find, read, and hopefully pass on.

This I did through Book Crossings, which has labels you can download and paste onto your books. Anyone can register the ID number of their found book on Book Crossings. This will show that someone has the book you "released into the wild." So far, no one has registered any of my books but I know that most of them have been taken. I checked!

I have also passed on a few books I'd normally keep - to friends who I know will appreciate having them and who happened to be visiting for a few days. No postage involved. That helps!

Gold by Chris Cleave has been taken by a cycling enthusiast.

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks - the ARC of this book that I loved, loved, loved, for its social consciousness, has also been given to another reader.
A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn, an ARC, has been taken by a dog lover and dog owner.
Shadow Show: All New Stories in celebration of Ray Bradbury, is a maybe from someone who perked up at Ray Bradbury's name, though these stories are not by the sci fi writer but by 26 other writers.

My reading list is still long. Same situation for lots of book bloggers, I imagine. Have you given away or loaned any books lately?

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...