Jun 28, 2014

Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer, It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey, and Mailbox Monday each week. Also visit Tynga's Reviews at Stacking the Shelves.

Went to the outdoor pool at the gym today. Glorious, and not too busy. Got swim exercises and some reading done. Trying again tomorrow in between watching soccer games on TV.

I have finished reading the newest Jodi Picoult book, Leaving Time, to be released October 14. Thanks to the publisher for sending an Advanced Reader's Edition. Here are the comments I posted on Goodreads, which did not give away the crucial elements of the plot, as the author has requested:
My first Jodi Picoult book. How lucky to have read this one as my first. Part mystery, part science, it's mainly a novel about close but sometimes tenuous mother-daughter relationships that are mirrored in the animal world - among wild elephant herds, the bond between these animal mothers and daughters last all through their lives. Extremely moving on the human level, this novel is also a plea to help elephants abused in captivity or prevent their slaughter by poachers who sell their ivory. 
The novel is engrossing, with believable, sympathetic, and captivating human (and animal) characters. The plot has surprises as it goes along - one of the marks of  excellent writing.
I later realized I had read an earlier Picoult, Songs of the Humpback Whale, which I also liked. I gave Leaving Time a 5 star rating and highly recommend it. It caught my attention as soon as it arrived in the mail and I read it right away!

Also on my To Be Read list of new books are:

Once Upon a Time in Rio by Brazilian playwright, Francisco Azevedo, a novel about three generations of a family whose kitchen contains the secret ingredient for happiness. Published June 24, 2014 by Atria Books.

Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes - the inimitable Scotland Yard Superintendent Richard Jury returns in the 23rd in the detective series. This one has "literary references from Thomas Hardy to Yeats," a sure draw for lovers of mystery and literature. Published June 3, 2014 by Scribner.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King goes in a new direction. This one is a thriller, not horror, in which three unlikely heroes "try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands." Since King is a master of the art of writing, I have high hopes for this one. Published June 3,2014 by Simon & Schuster.

I Stand Corrected: How TEaching Western Manners in China Became Its Own Unforgettable Lesson by Eden Collinsworth is "a fusion of memoir, manners, and cultural history from a successful businesswoman well versed in the unique challenges of working in contemporary China." I am also looking forward to reading this one. Publication October 7, 2014 by Nan A. Talese

I picked up a publishing mystery from my TBR pile and am reading

A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan. It's intriguing as a mystery involving literary agents and demanding and sometimes vengeful? unpublished writers.We'll see who the culprit of some nasty tricks turns out to be.....The book was published July 25, 2013 by Viking Adult.
I'll be reading The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson for a book tour early July.

Happy July 4th holiday coming up!

Jun 27, 2014

Book Review: The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

 *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

The Beautiful American
Book beginning:
In the ornate doorway of Harrods' perfume hall people rushed past me as I stood, frozen.
A radio played somewhere, Churchill's voice rising over the crowd, commending the English again for surviving the storm-beaten voyage. The war was over; we were picking up the pieces and carefully, slowly putting out lives back together. But my daughter was lost, in her own way another war casualty. The grief struck me anew and I was immobile in a doorway, unable to go forward or backward, unmoored by grief. 
Page 56: 
A few times I thought I saw her. I'd glimpse the back of a tall blond strolling the Champs-Elysees, or a profile of a woman sitting in a cafe with Lee's long, elegant nose. 
My comments: Set in Paris in the 1920s and during WWII and after, the novel tells the story of two very different American women and how their lives interact. The fictional Nora Tours encounters her childhood playmate in Paris after WWII - Lee Miller, a photographer known for her war photos and her marriage to another famous photographer, Man Ray. At the time, Nora is searching for her teenage daughter Dahlia who has gone missing in Paris.

The Beautiful American, published June 3, 2014, gives us another taste of the 20s, and references to Lee Miller's WWII photos. In that sense, it is a successful historical novel. I saw the first half of the novel primarily as a showcase for 1920s Paris and its famous artists. Characters make cameo appearances and names are dropped here and there - characters such as Chanel, Diaghilev, Nijinsky. Even Pablo Picasso and his wife Olga have a part in the novel. I would recommend The Beautiful American for its setting and the historical people it includes.

I was unable to become caught up in the second half of the book, however, the fictional story of Nora's life with her husband Jamie and her daughter Dahlia. They were overshadowed by the real life Lee Miller and the personalities in the Paris of the first half of the book, I felt.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Jun 25, 2014

THE VISITORS by Sally Beauman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
Here's an historical novel of Egypt that will be published soon...

The Visitors: A Novel by Sally Beauman, to be published July 8, 2014 by Harper.
When I was in Cairo a week,  I was taken to the pyramids; it was there that I saw Frances for the first time. It was January 1922, and Miss Mackenzie, in loco parentis, my guardian for our travels in Egypt, planned our visit with great care. She believed that if I could see the pyramids, 'One of the greatest wonders of the ancient world, remember, Lucy, dear,' and see them in the most powerful way possible - at sunrise - they would effect a change. (ch. 1, uncorrected proof; final copy may differ)  
"Based on a true story of discovery, The Visitors is a recreation of the hunt for Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings—a blend of fact and fiction that brings to life a lost world of exploration, adventure, and danger, and the audacious men willing to sacrifice everything to find a lost treasure. (publisher)

In 1922, when eleven year-old Lucy is sent to Egypt to recuperate from typhoid, she meets Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist. The friendship draws the impressionable young girl into the thrilling world of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, who are searching for the tomb of boy pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.

The Visitors retells the story of Carter and Carnarvon’s hunt and their historical discovery, witnessed through the eyes of a vulnerable child whose fate becomes entangled in their dramatic quest. As events unfold, Lucy will discover the lengths some people will go to fulfill their deepest desires—and the lies that become the foundation of their lives. The novel recalls the decadence of Egypt’s aristocratic colonial society, and illuminates the obsessive, daring men willing to risk everything—even their sanity—to claim a piece of the ancient past. The search for King Tut’s tomb is made vivid and immediate in a.... dazzling feat of imagination." (publisher)

What book are you waiting for, to be published? 

Jun 24, 2014

China Dolls by Lisa See

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.
Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read.
China Dolls
First paragraph:
I traveled west - alone - on the cheapest bus routes I could find. Every mile took me farther from Plain City, Ohio, where I'd been a flyspeck on the wallpaper of small town life. Each new state I passed through loosened another rope around my heart, my legs, my arms, yet my whole body ached and I couldn't shake my vertigo. I lived on aspirin, crackers, and soda pop. I cried and cried and cried. On the eighth day, California. Many hours after crossing the boundary, I got off the bus and pulled my sweater a little more tightly around me. I expected sun and warmth, but on that October afternoon, fog hung over San Francisco, damp, and shockingly cold. 
Picking up my suitcase, I left the bus station and started to walk. The receptionists at the cheap hotels I visited told me they were full. "Go to Chinatown," they suggested. "You can get a room there." I had no idea where Chinatown was, so that didn't help me. 
The War Relocation Authority has your brother in an internment camp in Utah," Agent Parker went on. "If it were up to me, we'd keep you here until you told the truth -"
"I've told the truth," I said. (from an ARE; final copy may differ)
Book description:
Set in the "Chop Suey Circuit" of San Francisco right before World War II.
In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco's exclusive "Oriental" nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco's Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. 

Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her? (publisher)
Published June 3, 2014; ARE  from Random House

Based on the teaser and first chapter of the book, would you keep reading? 

Jun 22, 2014

Sunday Salon: New Galleys for Review

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also, visit Mailbox Monday to see other bloggers' mailboxes each week.

Thanks to Harper Collins for sending the following galleys/uncorrected proofs for review:

The Story Hour
 "a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, family, secrets, forgiveness, and second chances"

The Story of Land and Sea
"Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution, this incandescent debut novel follows three generations of family—fathers and daughters, mother and son, master and slave, characters who yearn for redemption amidst a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery, and love" 

Flings: Stories
 "a piercing collection of short fiction that illuminates our struggle to find love, comfort, and identity"
Eager to start these. What are you reading this week?

Jun 20, 2014

Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

 *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

Claws of the Cat
Claws of the Cat (Shinobi Mystery #1), published July 16, 2013 by Minotaur Books, is an historical mystery set in 16th century Japan. It is the first in a new series featuring Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest, and his protector, the ninja warrior Hiro.

Book beginning:
Father Mateo strolled through the narrow yard, hands folded and face cast down in meditation. His shoulders bent against the predawn chill. The first two days of May had been warm in Kyoto, but this morning the switch to his summer kimono seemed just a bit premature. 
At the other end of the garden, a shadow snaked over the wall and into a cherry tree with no more sound than a spring wind rustling leaves. 
The priest walked on, unaware. 
Page 56:
Umeha looked from Hiro to the priest. She clasped her hands at her waist, the universal gesture of teahouse women trying to keep still. "I don't understand." 
"Nobuhide's father is dead."
Book description:
When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.

Thanks to the author for a complimentary review copy of this book. The next in the series, Blade of the Samurai, will be published July 15, 2014. 

Jun 18, 2014

Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi: Book Review/Tour

Title: Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi
Published May 2013 by Merrimack Media
Genre: crime fiction, suspense, mystery
Someone was watching. She opened her eyes. A black shape stood at the edge of the dell. One of the Triad soldiers. He peered through the trees, but he wasn't sure where to go. Locked his dark eyes on a clump of trees and undergrowth where she lay. He stepped toward Tania. (ch. 11)
Book description:  John Nardizzi's Telegraph Hill introduces private detective Ray Infantino searching for a missing girl named Tania. The case takes him to San Francisco, the city he abandoned years ago after his fiance was murdered. Thrust into his old city haunts, Ray finds that Tania may not be lost at all. Tania saw a murder; and a criminal gang, the Black Fist Triad, wants to make sure she never sees anything again. 

Ray enlists help from an old flame, Dominique, but now he has three women on his mind. Meeting with various witnesses-ex-cops, prostitutes, skinheads-he relentlessly tracks the evidence. But the hunt for Tania fires his obsession with avenging the murder of his fiance. When the triad retaliates, and blood begins to flow, Ray must walk the knife edge between revenge and redemption on the streets of San Francisco. (publisher)

My comments: Quick and fast trips from Boston to San Francisco into the haunts of the Triads who control much of the underbelly of the city. PI Infantino is hired to find a girl missing from her home for over ten years. Infantino's mission is dangerous and there is thrilling action and near escapes as he attempts to find and then hide the girl Tania.

Fast paced novel with good descriptions of San Francisco as Infantino traverses it to find the missing girl. A good plot with an alluring setting. I enjoyed this quick and exciting read.

About the author: John Nardizzi is an investigator, lawyer, and writer. His writings have appeared in numerous professional and literary journals, including San Diego Writers Monthly, Oxygen, Liberty Hill Poetry Review, Lawyers Weekly USA, and PI Magazine. His fictional detective, Ray Infantino, first appeared in print in the spring 2007 edition of Austin Layman’s Crimestalker Casebook. Telegraph Hill is the first crime novel featuring Infantino

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review through Partners in Crime Virtual Book 
Tours. For other reviews of the book, visit the tour schedule

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

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