Sep 9, 2013

It's Monday: What's in Your Mailbox?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
Yolanda of Notorious Spinks Talks Books hosts Mailbox Monday this month.

Received last week: This one reminds me of the real-life scandal surrounding the Bolshoi Ballet not too long ago.

Title: Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy: A Novel by Elizabeth Kiem, August 13, 2013; Soho Teen.
Book description: "A new breed of spy novel combines classic thrills, Bolshoi intrigue, and elements of the paranormal.

Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's prima ballerina and an international star. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears.

Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn, where Marina is a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother's “gift,” and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they'd left behind. Now Marina must deal with her mother's disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can—and can't—trust." (publisher)

I have been receiving a few teen novels recently and must admit, this one does look good, as does this other from last week,
Relic by Heather Terrell, to be published October 29, 2013 is a combination of fantasy and dystopia about a "civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down."

Current reads include
Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, "an account of how the Mississippi shaped America,"
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd.
I finished last week:
Reese's Leap: An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott, for a book tour this week.

What are you reading and what arrived in the mail last week?

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Sep 8, 2013

Sunday Salon: Nobel Prize for Literature 2013

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! And visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer!

I just counted about nine books which I must read for book tours for the rest of the year. After that, I plan to quit book tours for a while and read books from my own TBR pile.  I notice I've been getting grouchy in my reviews lately, so it must be time to move on.

More nonfiction book are on my reading list, too.

By the way, who are you rooting for to win the Nobel Prize for Literature this year? My bet is on Murakami, whose novel 1Q84 with its magical realism and social commentary blew me away, even though it was almost 1,000 pages long. (Click on the link to see my thoughts on that book).

This from the Guardian: "Other favoured contenders include US author Joyce Carol Oates, Hungarian writer Peter Nádas, South Korean poet Ko Un  and Alice Munro, the short story writer from Canada."

I've heard Philip Roth's name bandied about too.

Who's your choice?

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Sep 7, 2013

Book Feature: The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh

Title: The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious, or Distracted Kids
Author: Carolyn Dalgliesh
Published September 3, 2013; Touchstone

This seems to be a valuable source of practical ideas for teachers as well as families with distracted kids.

Publisher description:
"Every year, tens of thousands of young children are diagnosed with disorders that make it difficult for them to absorb the external world. Parents of sensory kids—like those with sensory processing disorder, anxiety disorder, AD/HD, autism, bipolar disorder, and OCD—often feel frustrated and overwhelmed, creating stress in everyday life for the whole family.

Author Carolyn Dalgliesh knows firsthand the struggles parents face in trying to bring out the best in their rigid, anxious, or distracted children. She provides solutions that help these kids thrive at home and in their day-to-day activities, and describes how to
- Understand what makes your sensory child tick 
- Create harmonious spaces through sensory organizing 
- Use structure and routines to connect with your child 
-  Prepare your child for social and school experiences 
- Make travel a successful and fun-filled journey 
 An easy-to-follow road map for the entire family."

Carolyn Dalgliesh is the founder and owner of Systems for Sensory Kids and Simple Organizing Strategies, which helps families, individuals, and businesses get organized. She lives in Rhode Island.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Sep 6, 2013

Book Review/Tour: Going Through the Notions by Cate Price

Title: Going Through the Notions: A Deadly Notions Mystery by Cate Price
Publication: September 3, 2013; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery, new series
Source: review copy from publisher

Book description:
Retired schoolteacher Daisy Buchanan has found her calling in the quaint village of Millbury, Pennsylvania. While her husband renovates their old house, Daisy presides over Sometimes a Great Notion, her quirky shop that sells sewing bits and bobs, antiques, and jewelry. At a local auction her friend and mentor, auctioneer Angus Backstead, is arrested, accused of killing his drinking buddy who had stolen a set of expensive fountain pens. Daisy’s sure the sprightly old-timer couldn’t have done it and sets out to find the truth. (publisher)

My comments: Readers get involved with Kate's friends and her customers in the notions shop, a setting apart from the mystery plot, which involves her looking out for her friend Angus, whom she is determined to prove innocent of a murder. Lovers of notions and antiques will like the characters and the quaintness of the small shop. The murder plot is only half of the novel. I was often a bit impatient to get away from the notions, auctions, and yard sales, and back to the mystery, but found overall the novel was a good effort and good beginning for this new series.

About Cate Price
Cate Price was born in England and came to the U.S. when she was sixteen. She enjoys walking her two rescue dogs, and enjoys gardening, yard sales, and cooking with friends. Her previous (unpublished) books have finaled in numerous contests, including the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America.

Writing the first book in the Deadly Notions mystery series proved an expensive project, because while researching auction houses, she became addicted to bidding on box lots. She is at work on the next book in the series, A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR. Cate loves to connect with readers at her website, on Facebook at or Goodreads at

Visit the book tour schedule for more reviews, hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

Sep 5, 2013

Nonfiction Books: Old Man River; Good Prose

I requested this new book from the publisher as my husband and I have both had a love for this river through the books, the songs and music, and the movies made about it. The river runs north and south right through the country, and am looking forward to reading Paul Schneider's book about the length and breadth of its history.

Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, "an account of how the Mississippi shaped America," was published September 3 by Henry Holt and Co.,  my birthday, by the way, and I say that's auspicious for my enjoying it! It is divided into seven books, each book detailing the river's history from prehistoric times to the present.

The other nonfiction I'm currently reading is Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, two writers known for their nonfiction and portraits of American life. The hardcover edition was published by Random House in January this year and the paperback edition just came out August 7.  I started reading it in the bookstore and had to buy it.

I have never read a how-to book on writing straight through before, but I'm enjoying this one and am reading it like a novel, from cover to cover. The writers' observations, comments, and tips can apply to fiction as well as nonfiction. I liked the section on writing memoirs quite a bit.  It made me determined to dust off my notes and keep going on that family history project I started.

I hope to write more about these two books after I've finished them.

What nonfiction books have you been reading?

Sep 3, 2013

Book Review: Mystery Girl by David Gordon

Publisher synopsis: Sam Kornberg is a failed novelist living in L.A. with a collapsing marriage. Desperate for work, he becomes the assistant to a portly, housebound detective named Solar Lonsky. His assignment to track a mysterious woman is the trigger for a story involving sexy doppelgangers, insane asylums, south-of-the-border shootouts, mistaken identities, video-store-geekery, and the death of the novel.

My comments: The mystery story surrounds an "art" film by an experimental filmmaker whose trilogy of films appeals to "cinephiles, Satanists, metal heads, stoners, and several deviants of all stripes." Since as a reader I don't really fit into any of these categories, the novel went over my head or below my head, unfortunately.

One of the themes of the novel is the "death of the novel," and the novel as an art form. Unfortunately, the attempts didn't work for me, and I saw it as a mishmash of story, author's thoughts, and the main character's philosophizing that didn't fit together well.

 I saw this book as an experimental novel with lots of stream of consciousness, and detailed description of dress, scenery, background, and people as in a script for a film. As for the story, it got drowned in distractions, such as the subplot of the life of a novelist and the "noir film as art" sections. Perhaps a bit too avant garde for me?

Title: Mystery Girl by David Gordon
Published July 16; New Harvest
Genre: mystery, experimental novel

David Gordon holds an MA in English and Comparative Literature and an MFA in Writing, both from Columbia University, and has worked in film, fashion, publishing, and pornography. His first novel, The Serialist, won the VCU/Cabell First Novel Award and was a finalist for an Edgar Award. His work has also appeared in The Paris Review, Purple, and Fence among other publications. Visit David at his website.

For more reviews and possibly very different views of the book, visit the book tour schedule hosted by TLC Book Tours.

Sep 1, 2013

Sunday Salon: Just Reading, No Labor on Labor Day

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon!This post lists new books and links up to It's Monday; What Are You Reading? at Book Journey;  to Mailbox Monday hosted by Yolanda of Notorious Spinks Talks Books and to Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

Here is what arrived the past couple of weeks, some books I had been looking forward to and others a nice surprise.

Books finished:
Mystery Girl by David Gordon, review to be posted Tuesday for a book tour.
Alex by Pierre Lemaitre, a thriller in the vein of the Stieg Larsson books, but quite different in plot, and VERY creepy, as many French thrillers are.
Going Through the Notions by Cate Price, a cozy mystery in a new series, for a book tour this week.

Now reading:
Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman, a novel set in northern India about a Scottish woman who lives there with her parrot and helper. The first in a series, the second of which, Love Potion Number 10, I also plan to read.

Reviews to be done:
The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn, the sixth in the Chet and Bernie detective series, starring a humorous and unusual duo, Chet the dog and his human partner Bernie.

Enjoy the Labor Day events and long weekend! Put up your feet and relax. No labor on Labor Day, remember?  Are you traveling, and if so, what are you reading?

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Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...