If you're a dog lover, or have one in the family, Bradford G. Wheler's Dog Sayings: Wit & Wisdom From Man's Best Friend will be a fun addition to a home collection. And, if you stick around until the end of the review, you can try to win a copy of the book. Christmas gift, anyone?
This small book tells of man's relationship with dogs, accompanied by artwork that beautifully illustrates each chapter. There are quotes from Charles Schultz, "Happiness is a warm puppy," Mark Twain, and Elizabeth Taylor. It's an eclectic mix of quotes, and an interesting selection of artwork. There are photographs, sketches and paintings, all of them showing the heart and personalities of dogs.
I liked Gene Hill's comment. "Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot about puppies." The quotes revolve around subjects such as "Love & Loyalty," "Dog Humor," and "Ancient Wisdom." And, for those of us who are cat people, there's the chapter, "Dogs vs Cats," with cat illustrations. Dereke Bruce reminds us of something we already know. "In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him."
If you're looking for a little collection of wisdom and artwork, you might want to pick up Dog Sayings: Wit & Wisdom From Man's Best Friend. Or, if you'd like to win a copy for yourself or to give as a gift, email me at email@example.com. Your subject line should say, "Win Dog Sayings." Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
This will be a short contest so the publisher can get the book to the winner. The contest will end Thursday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. MT. The winner will be selected by random number generator. I'll notify the winner, and the book will be sent to you by the publisher. Good luck!
Lisa Scottoline is best known for her mysteries, but I love her essays. She and her daughter, Francesa Scottoline Serritella, write the "Chick Wit" column that appears on Sundays in The Philadelphia Inquirer. These essays are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but always about living life as women and family. These are essays from the heart. We're lucky when those columns are put together in a book, such as the new one, My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space.
Although I review a variety of books here, it's no secret my passion is for mysteries. So, I loved the opening essay, "A Woman At The Wheel." Lisa confesses she had a girl crush on Nancy Drew, and what woman who grew up reading mysteries didn't? And, she admires all those women who grew up to be her target audience, women of strength, wit, and hearts. Those are also the women in her family, Lisa, Francesca, and Lisa's mother, Mother Mary.
Don't think Lisa Scottoline's essays are the only funny ones in this book, though. Some of Francesca's are even funnier. Wait until you read the one about trying to get her mother ready for a date. And, her story, "Some Enchanted Evening," about the best night of her life, is magic. But, I won't steal her punch line. You have to read the story.
Lisa Scottoline is my type of woman. She reads the obits for the stories of lives. And, she complains there are no more stories on TV, just reality shows. She says, "We might have to go back to reading books." And, she grew from a child who loved books to a "Library Slut." Definitely my kind of woman.
And, even though Lisa Scottoline challenges men to be man enough to read her books, it's women who will find their lives and their hearts in this book, My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space.
And, if you'd like to share the experience of this book for yourself or as a gift, I have the chance to give away two copies of it. The contest starts today, and will end Thursday, Dec. 2 at 6 PM MT. If you'd like to enter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subject line should read, "Win My Nest Isn't Empty." Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please. The winners will be selected by random number generator. I'll notify the winners and the publisher will send out the books. Good luck!
Sherryl Woods' latest novel may be called A Chesapeake Shores Christmas, but, since it starts just before Thanksgiving, it's the perfect book for this Sunday. It's one of those holiday books filled with romance and holiday celebrations, but it also shows the turmoil that may come to the forefront in families this time of year.
After twenty years of marriage Megan O'Brien left her controlling husband, Mick, who couldn't seem to understand that she wanted him at home in Chesapeake Shores instead of working as an architect, flying all over the country. She planned to take their five children with her, but none of them wanted to be uprooted from their home in the charming seaside community their father built.
Neither Megan nor Mick ever fell out of love. They just couldn't live together. Now, they're planning to marry again, with the blessings of all of their children, except one, Connor. Connor never forgave his mother, and even became a divorce attorney, where he fights for the rights of men. But, the O'Brien men have always been stubborn, as evidenced by Mick's long-standing fights with his brothers. Even so, the holidays have always been sacred, and Mick's brothers always came home. So, it comes as a shock to everyone when Connor and his father fight over the upcoming marriage, and Connor refuses to come back for Thanksgiving.
Megan had hoped to come home as an equal partner in this marriage. Now, she's reconsidering. Does Mick really understand what she wants? He still seems just as demanding, and has even pushed Connor away during a family holiday. Is she really ready for a New Year's wedding with an O'Brien? There's no time to think that far ahead, though, when Thanksgiving suddenly throws everyone a curve that wasn't anticipated.
It seems that holidays can't be planned in the O'Brien family. Sherryl Woods does everyone a favor in this novel, reminding us that holidays aren't perfect, and the course of love isn't always as smooth as so many Christmas novels indicate. If you want to read about a large, argumentative, loving family, try Sherryl Woods' A Chesapeake Shores Christmas. And, if you enjoy this story of the O'Briens, you'll want to watch for their next story, Driftwood Cottage, in April 2011.
Nora Ephron's book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, was probably a bestseller because so many of us could identify with the essay by that name. I actually prefer her latest collection, I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections. While Ephron seems to tell more personal stories. At the same time, there are so many articles about aging and change that it's easy to relate to them.
The essay, "I Remember Nothing" starts by saying it's easy to start down that slippery slope of forgetting names and words. Ephron used the same memory tricks many of us do, scrolling through the alphabet, trying to remember the first letter of a word. But, then she goes into details as to events in her life that she can't remember, such as meeting Eleanor Roosevelt and covering the Beatles on their first trip to the U.S. Then, she brings it back to something we can all relate to; "The Senior Moment has become the Google moment, and it has a much nicer, hipper, younger, more contemporary sound, doesn't it?" I love it that she admits we can't retrieve the memories of our lives, but we can retrieve facts.
Ephron's collection includes stories of her mother, comments about chicken soup, e-mail, and getting older. It may be a glimpse into her life, but it also contains reflections on our own lives. The humor, the nostalgia, the bittersweet recognition, will all make a connection for those of us who are women of a certain age. I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections will become a collection to pass between friends.
Have you read any steampunk yet? Wikipedia defines steampunk as a "sub-genre of science fiction, alternate fiction, and speculative fiction....Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain —that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy." Every list that I read mentioned Gail Carriger's books as an example of steampunk, so I finally picked up Soulless, the first in her Parasol Protectorate series. I loved it!
Carriger said she wanted to write urban fantasy. It could be considered urban fantasy. I'd rather think of it as the best of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, a Regency romance with werewolves, vampires, suspense, and Victorian England thrown in the mix. Carriger's heroine, Alexia Tarabotti has a number of issues to face in society. Of course, there's her deceased Italian father, who gave her a dark complexion and an Italian nose, totally out of fashion. She's an opinionated spinster at the age of twenty-six. And, she has no soul.
Since "Soullessness always neutralized supernatural abilities," when Alexia was attacked by a rove vampire during a ball, she tried to neutralize him. When he continued to attack, she finally killed him with a wooden hair stick and her brass parasol. Within minutes, Lord Connall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, and Alpha of the local werewolves, turned up, with his Beta, to clean up the mess. As the supernatural liaison to the Bureau of Unnatural Registry (BUR), and an agent of Queen Victoria's Shadow Parliament, it was his responsibility to handle attacks by rove vampires and werewolves. Maccon felt as if Alexia was always turning up in the wrong places, and she knew he rubbed her the wrong way. But, her natural curiosity led to a discovery that vampires and werewolves were disappearing, so it wasn't long before she and Maccon formed an uneasy alliance. In the midst of kidnappings, disappearances, and burglaries, the two developed an animal attraction for each other.
Soulless is a fascinating story, relating an alternate history in which supernatural beings became part of society and government in Britain, while still being hunted in America. The book has an interesting mix of pseudo-science, alternate history, and mystery. Someone is behind the disappearance of vampires and werewolves, and BUR needs to solve that mystery, with a little help from Alexia Tarabotti. Carriger has managed to bring wit and sexy romance to this story, if you're a reader who likes the dominant Alpha male and a strong-willed, opinionated female. Gail Carriger's Soulless creates a fascinating Victorian England, with two characters I love. I can't wait to return to Carriger's Britain, with Changeless.
Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Margaret Maron's Christmas Mourning is heading to Jo Ann H from Las Cruces, NM. Becky K. from Grayslake, IL won Donna Andrews' Six Geese A-Slaying. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow. And, Kathy Reichs' Spider Bones will be sent to Paul A. of Beverly Hills, MI. The publicist will be sending it.
I have two more Christmas crime books to give away this week. Would you like to win an autographed copy of Cleo Coyle's Holiday Grind? When Clare Cosi, manager of the Village Blend coffeehouse, finds Santa gunned down in an alley, she's convinced it was more than a random mugging. Between baking, running the coffeehouse, and investigating the murder of St. Nick, Clare has her hands full.
Seventeen masters of suspense wrote stories for Otto Penzler's The Mysterious Bookshop. Penzler commissioned the stories, one a year, to be given as presents for his customers. Now, he's gathered them in Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop. The book kicks off with a story from the late Donald E. Westlake. Over the years, stories were written by authors such as Lawrence Block, Ed McBain, and Mary Higgins Clark. Penzler had three stipulations for the stories. They had to be "Set during the Christmas season, involve a mystery, and have at least some of the action take place at The Mysterious Bookshop." How can a mystery lover resist the chance to win this book?
Which book do you want to try to win, Holiday Grind or Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop? You can enter to win both but I need separate entries. Email me at email@example.com. Your subject line should read either "Win Holiday Grind" or "Win The Mysterious Bookshop." Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end Thursday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. MT. The winners will be selected by random number generator. I'll notify the winners and mail the books the next day. Good luck!
An author and friend wrote last week and said it doesn't seem quite right to say "Happy Thanksgiving" with the loss of Jim this year. Please let me assure you, I have a great deal to be thankful for, and I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and a time during the day that you can truly appreciate your blessings.
First, I'm so grateful to have a wonderful family and friends, and all of you who have become friends. You all rallied around me in February when Jim died. Every once in a while, I receive a note from someone, as I did last week, saying we're still thinking of you, and praying for you. Thank you. When someone asked what they should say to a recent widow, I said I appreciated the hugs. Each one of your notes was a hug, and I could feel how much you cared. Thank you for being there.
I am lucky enough to have this opportunity to write about my passion, books, and share it with all of you. Thank you for stopping by to read, and share your comments. And, thank you to all of the authors, publicists and publishers who have shared books with me.
From the time I was sixteen, I've worked in public libraries. I've been surrounded by books, but most of all, I've been lucky enough to work with wonderful people in Huron and Upper Arlington, Ohio, Port Charlotte and Lee County, Florida, and, now in Glendale. I'm truly grateful for all of the special co-workers in my life.
Before I mention my family, I want to say how much I appreciated visits from Susan Coronado, Julie Havir, Rodeane Widom, Jamie Shaheen and Beth Hoffman. The first three women were here the day Jim died, and helped me through the transition until my family arrived. Jamie's my college roommate, and she knew and loved Jim. She wrote a letter that made me laugh and cry, spent time talking on the phone, and came to visit a couple months later. Beth Hoffman flew in just to be here for me. Thank you to every one of you for giving of your time.
I'm lucky to have a wonderful family, beginning with my mother and two sisters, Linda and Christie. Your support, your presence, your phone calls, your funny or touching cards, all meant, and mean, the world to me. I have two supportive brothers-in-law, two nieces and five nephews. When I went home in August, I had the chance to visit with family and friends. It was so good to see and talk to all of you. Thank you for your love, and your time.
And, thank you to all of Jim's friends, who wrote notes, or attended his graveside service. In most cases, I never met you. It was so wonderful to hear your stories about Jim, and know how much you loved him.
Anyone who knows me, knows I can't write a note about my blessings without mentioning my cats. They are waiting for me, whenever I get home. And, I refer to the youngest, Jinx, as the laughter in my life. The cats make me laugh.
I have so much to be thankful for. So, don't hesitate to wish me a "Happy Thanksgiving." It truly is a happy Thanksgiving when you can count your blessings. I have so many in my life. But, I'll end this year's Thanksgiving note in almost the same way I ended last year's.
And, a final thank you to Jim, for twenty-six years. I loved you, and I'm thankful for the life we led together, the books and sports we shared over the years, the cats we loved, and all of our time together.
Somewhere there must be an unwritten law that Christmas stories (unless they're mysteries) must involve loss and bittersweet memories. Fortunately, in the case of Lisa Kleypas' Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, there's humor added to the mix.
And, there needs to be humor added to the story of a little girl who lost her mother in a car accident. Fortunately, Holly's Uncle Mark Nolan was designated as her guardian. He didn't realize he was fortunate. When he grew up, his parents were always fighting, his father thought nothing of backhanding the kids, and his mother even banned Christmas celebrations. Despite his lack of a warm family life, Mark was determined to make a home for his niece. So, he made his brother, Sam, agree to allow them to live with him in a rambling Victorian house in Friday Harbor, a small community on San Juan Island in Washington.
Maggie Conroy had moved to Friday Harbor to open a toy shop, changing her life following the death of her husband. Although she resolved never to love anyone again, it was hard not to fall for the silent little girl who came into the shop one day with her handsome uncle. Mark was shocked when Holly, who hadn't spoken after her mother's death, opened up to the tiny shop owner with the unruly red curls. He was already starting to love the little girl in his charge, something he hadn't ever experienced in his life.
And, Mark had plans. His girlfriend, Shelby, might make the perfect mother for Holly, and he was determined to bring together people who would love Holly. After all, this was the little girl who wrote a letter to Santa saying she just wanted one thing for Christmas, "A mom."
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor could have been just another holiday romance. But, Kleypas gave both of her lead characters a sense of humor, threw in a terrific relationship between Mark and his brother, Sam, and added a hilarious Thanksgiving scene. Romance, a touch of humor, and an attractive small town setting makes for an enjoyable holiday treat. And, since Kleypas' website indicates this is the first in her new contemporary series, there just might be romance on the way for Mark Nolan's brothers, Sam and Alex. Whatever she chooses to do with the setting or the family, the books are sure to be as charming as Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.
I have such a connection to Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was the first adult book my father ever bought me (when I was in first grade). I've seen the play, Little Women. My mother bought me a bookmark, and a purse made from the book cover from Little Women. And, I've seen the wonderful PBS story about Louisa May Alcott.
Now, you have the chance to win the book, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen, and the DVD of the PBS production. Picador is offering them to one lucky winner from my blog. Here is the postcard I received about the package.
So, if you would like to win this package, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subject line should read "Win Louisa May Alcott." Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
I know there will be no one at Picador until Monday, so this contest will end Monday, Nov. 29th at 5 a.m. MT. The winner will be selected by random number generator. I'll notify the winner, and the book will be sent to you by Picador.
If Jen Forbus has her way, Craig Johnson would receive the recognition he deserves. No one is a bigger fan than she is. I'm glad, because she introduced me to his wonderful books. And, she's right. He's not as well-known as he should be. I've only read the first two books in his Walt Longmire series, but they're beautifully written mysteries, with fascinating characters. I loved Johnson's comment in this second book, Death Without Company. "It's a character-driven piece." It certainly is. If you read mysteries for the characters, as I do, you should be reading Craig Johnson's books.
Walt Longmire has been the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming for almost twenty-five years. And, his day-to-day job consists of recruiting jurors for a jury pool, handling traffic accidents in the snow, and trying to hang on to competent deputies. But, once in a while, he gets a case that is so complicated that his entire team, along with his friends, family, and even his dog, called Dog, become involved.
Lucian Connally was the sheriff who hired Longmire, fresh from a stint as a military cop in Vietnam. The two men might have different styles, but Walt still respects Lucian's opinion. So, when Lucian insists that Mari Baroja, a fellow resident at the Durant Home for Assisted Living was murdered, Longmire is willing to look into it. But, then Lucian shocks Walt by saying he was once married to Mari, until her Basquo father and uncles annulled the marriage. Lucian's stories of Mari and her family drag Longmire's team into an investigation that immediately turns violent, as someone tries to kill everyone who knows the past history of Mari Baroja. However, does anyone actually know the whole truth?
In the Walt Longmire series, Craig Johnson has created a cast of characters with depth and personality, beginning with Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear. But, every one of Johnson's characters are individuals who demand attention, from those who are a permanent part of his team, such as his deputy, Vic Moretti, and Ruby, who runs the office. The newest deputy, Santiago Saizarbitoria, immediately fits in, with an enormous personality. Unlike so many other authors, though, Johnson pays attention close attention to minor characters, who live on his pages.
The investigation is the most important part of the story, as it should be in a police procedural, but these books are so much more. Johnson has a way with a phrase. Ruby keeps messages for Longmire on Post-it notes, and turns them over when he comes into the office. He says he, "Picked up my life in Post-it form." There's humor in these stories, and it can be very dry, as fits people who have lived difficult lives. Death Without Company has an intriguing, complicated storyline with surprises, wonderful characters, and beautiful writing. These mysteries are for anyone who misses Tony Hillerman, or wants to read outstanding crime novels set in the West. And, Death Without Company is definitely for anyone who wants to read a "Character-driven piece."
Monday night, Nov. 22, Investigation Discovery's latest episode of Hardcover Mysteries features Kathy Reichs and the story that inspired her first book, Deja Dead. This new episode debuts at 9 PM ET.
Louise Ellis was a Canadian journalist who disappeared on a weekend trip in 1995. The trip caught the attention of the media in Canada, particularly since Ellis was a journalist herself. When Ellis' husband, Brett Morgan, reported her missing, a friend found her locked and empty car. Suspects included Morgan, and Louise's ex-boyfriend, John, who she was planning to visit that weekend. But, where is Ellis' body?
Hardcover Mysteries presents viewers with a fascinating case, and allows authors to discuss the cases in relationship to their books. In this episode, writer and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs talks about her Bones series featuring Temperance Brennan, and the inspiration she drew from this case. Reichs said this case had the same twists and turns, along with false leads, that she tries to include for her sophisticated thriller readers. Reichs' numerous fans will be intrigued with her connection to this investigation, and her narration of this episode of Hardcover Mysteries. Discover the answer to this mystery on Monday, Nov. 22 at 9 PM.
Not only did Investigation Discovery give me the opportunity to preview this episode, they are also providing an autographed copy of Kathy Reichs' latest book, Spider Bones, for one lucky winner. To enter, email me at email@example.com. Your subject line should read "Win Spider Bones." Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end Thursday, Nov. 25th at 6 p.m. MT. The winner will be selected by random number generator. I'll notify the winner, and the book will be sent to you by the publicist for Investigation Discovery.
Most holiday stories have happy endings, and Melody Carlson's Christmas at Harrington's is no exception. But, this novel is a little unusual in its main character, an intriguing departure for these seasonal novels.
After eight years in prison, Lena Markham has been released. Instead of heading home to Indiana, she told the social worker she wanted a new start. With the promise of a place to live and a job at Harrington's Department Store, Lena took the bus to New Haven, a small town in northern Minnesota. She had hoped for a seat by herself, but a well-dressed woman from New Haven, Moira Phillips, took the seat beside her, and proceeded to talk to her, and invite her to church. As a former pastor's wife, and the daughter of a Bible-thumping strict father, Lena was a little reluctant to accept that invitation.
The boarding house where Lena ended up wasn't quite what she expected, but she quickly made friends with a little girl, Jemima. That friendship would change more lives than just theirs. And, Jemima led her back to Moira Phillips, and a few clothes, including a red coat, that enabled her to go to Harrington's with confidence, knowing she had a promised job. But, in the bad economy, Harrington's had to lay people off. Fortunately, Ms. Harrington's daughter, Cassidy, saw Lena in that red coat, and suggested she become Mrs. Santa at the store. And, it's a successful job, until Lena's past comes back to haunt her.
Melody Carlson's story is about a woman beaten down by people and life, who, with the help of a little encouragement and faith in God, finds the courage to move on. And, I have to mention that one of those people who cheered Lena on is a librarian who accepts her despite her history. Christmas at Harrington's is a story of hope and faith, a perfect little novel for the holiday season.
If I hadn't been sent Lisa Genova's Left Neglected to review for Library Journal, I might not have gone back to read her novel, Still Alice. I'm so grateful that I was selected to review the one, so I could discover Genova as an author. Here's my review of Left Neglected, as it appeared in the Nov. 15, 2010 issue of Library Journal.
Genova, Lisa. Left Neglected. Gallery: S. & S. Jan. 2011. c.336p. ISBN 9781439164631. $25. F
With a Ph.D. in neuroscience, Genova brings an expertise to this novel about a woman suffering from a little-known neurological syndrome. Sarah Nickerson is a high-powered business executive, juggling 80 hours of work, marriage, and life with three young children. Following a car accident, she wakes up to learn she’s suffering from brain damage, a syndrome called left neglect that leaves her unable to feel or see anything on her left side. As she struggles to recover, Sarah also copes with other aspects of her life “left neglected” owing to her busy lifestyle: her relationship with her mother, her son’s inability to concentrate, and her own quality of life. Once again, the author of Still Alice, a best-selling debut about a woman dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s, has created a character with a compelling voice and perspective in a moving story that shows how brain trauma forces people to change their lives. VERDICT This is a positive novel about hope and strength that should find a market with those who appreciate contemporary women’s fiction and readers who either are coping with brain disorders or have family members with these conditions.—Lesa Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ
Copyright 2010. Library Journals, LLC. Nov. 15, 2010 issue. Reprinted with permission.
I've been a fan of Leighton Gage's Chief Inspector Mario Silva books since the first one, Blood of the Wicked. The books focus on Brazil's politics and crime, bringing to light details that most of us don't know. While the books have been graphic at times, the tone has been lightened by the black humor used in the conversations between the police. These are outstanding police procedurals, but the violence may have put some readers off in the past. The cover art may look grim on the latest book, Every Bitter Thing, however Gage has toned down the violence, and placed the emphasis on the police investigation. Readers of police procedurals don't have to be afraid to try the new crime novel.
Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Federal Police is called in when the son of Venezuela's Foreign Minister is found murdered in his apartment in Brasilia. Although the local police want to arrest the man's lover, Silva wants to check the national crime database. It doesn't take long to discover that other people have been murdered in the same way, shot in the abdomen, and brutally beaten. The killings have occurred all over Brasil. Except for one victim, they seem to have only one thing in common. All the victims were passengers on TAB Flight 8101 from Miami to São Paulo, Brazil.
Although the crimes are still brutal in Every Bitter Thing, the emphasis is placed on the investigation of the murders. Gage beautifully captures the relationships between the police officers, with Silva's dry humor. He isn't afraid to poke fun at one of his officers, and he shares a dislike of showboating police officers, and those out for political gain. Silva and his team take their jobs seriously, but they find their own ways to deal with crooked cops, slimy politicians, and criminals whose punishments seem too light. Pay close attention to the conversations so as not to miss the irony and black humor. Despite the dark nature of the crimes, there is wonderful humor in this book, including a very funny scene involving dachshunds.
Leighton Gage is another one of Soho Press' authors who writes outstanding, descriptive crime novels that bring a country vividly to life. Brazil is portrayed with all its political corruption and crime, although Gage also shows the beauty of the country. Every Bitter Thing gives us another glimpse at a beautiful country, suffering from poverty, violence, and corruption, and a small group of men who struggle against terrible odds to try to maintain a semblance of order.
Congratulations to the winners of the stormy contest. Kathryn Casey's The Killing Storm will go to Jody C. of Manhattan, KS. Carol-Lynn R. of Winthrop, Maine will received Kenneth Abel's Down in the Flood. In addition, Wendy A. of Ferndale, WA won the copy of Dear Mrs. Kennedy by Mulvaney and De Angelis. I'll let the publicist know about that one, and the other books will go out in the mail tomorrow.
I'm kicking off the season with a Christmas Crime contest. I have books by two of the biggest names in the mystery world. Would you like to win the new Margaret Maron book, Christmas Mourning? Judge Deborah Knott is looking forward to a family Christmas celebration when a tragedy strikes North Carolina's Colleton County. The community is devasted by the death of a cheerleader in a car crash. But, her death wasn't an accident, and there may be more live slost if Deborah can't help the sheriff's department find why she died.
You just know Donna Andrews' Six Geese A-Slaying is a little lighter than Maron's book. Meg and Michael's house is serving as the marshalling point for the annual Christmas parade, and, naturally Meg is organizing it. As all the groups assemble for "The Twelve Days of Christmas" parade, Meg's nephew finds Santa dead. It's up to Meg and Chief Burke to solve the murder, and save Christmas.
Which book do you want to try to win, Christmas Mourning or Six Geese A-Slaying? You can enter to win both but I need separate entries. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subject line should read either "Win Christmas Mourning" or "Win Six Geese." Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.
The contest will end Thursday, Nov. 25th at 6 p.m. MT. The winners will be selected by random number generator. I'll notify the winners and mail the books the next day. Good luck!
Personally, I think this is a little late in coming to Sara Paretsky. But, here's the announcement as given by Margery Flax, of Mystery Writers of America.
"Sara Paretsky has been chosen as this year’s Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Ms. Paretsky will be presented with her award at The Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2011. When told of being named Grand Master, Paretsky said, “I'm so glad to win this. I'm glad to have this for my very own."
Paretsky revolutionized the mystery world in 1982 with her novel Indemnity. The book introduced detective V.I. Warshawski, a female private investigator who used her wits and fists, challenging a genre in which women typically played minor or passive roles. Paretsky, who lives in Chicago, has written twelve best-selling Warshawski novels. She has also penned a memoir, two stand-alone novels, a collection of short stories, and has edited four anthologies. In 1986 Paretsky founded Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports women crime writers, earning her MS Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year Award. The British Crime Writers awarded Paretsky both the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement and the Gold Dagger for best novel of 2004. Her books are currently published in thirty countries.
"The mystery genre took a seven-league stride thanks to Sara Paretsky, whose gutsy and dauntless protagonist showed that women can be tough guys, too," said Larry Light, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America. "Before, in Sara's words, women in mysteries were either vamps or victims. Her heroine, private eye V.I. Warshawski, is whip-smart and two-fisted, capable of slugging back whiskey and wrecking cars, and afire to redress social injustice."
Two exceptional mystery bookstores will be honored with the 2011 Raven Award. Established in 1953, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Once Upon a Crime, in Minneapolis, MN, and Centuries & Sleuths in Chicago, IL, will receive recognition for their contribution to the mystery community. They also will receive theirawards at the Edgar Award Banquet in New York City on Thursday, April 28, 2011.
Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore was named one of the Ten Best Bookstores in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune. Many customers have tagged the owner, Augie Alesky, as the coolest bookseller in Chicago. "I have always wanted a Raven. The mystery community is such a great place,” Alesky said upon hearing the news.
The store has hosted hundreds of author readings and talks, with both new and established writers. Augie’s programs are innovative,
including mock trials, debates, and numerous “Meeting of Minds” programs similar to the PBS series. In fact, from the very first days
of opening, actors and then authors themselves were encouraged to dress in period costumes to illustrate and dramatize a book. Centuries & Sleuths was nominated for the American Booksellers Association “Bookseller of the Year” award in 2008. The store marks its 20th Anniversary this year.
Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore owners Pat Frovarp and Gary Schulze read, review, promote, and hand-sell mysteries, from small
presses and new authors to the biggest best- sellers. Pat was thrilled to hear about the Raven Award, "What a wonderful, wonderful honor!"
Their store is open late to host signings for local and traveling authors, and they host an annual Write of Spring. Every March dozens of Minnesota mystery authors are able to meet hundreds of fans and celebrate the world of mysteries. They are currently taking submissions for a Write of Spring anthology. Pat and Gary are such mystery book enthusiasts that they married at their store on August 1, 2007, five years to the day that they had bought the store from the previous owners. In their wedding photos, Pat held a bouquet of flowers, and Gary held a Maltese Falcon statue. Once Upon a Crime will celebrate 25 years in business in Spring 2012.
Previous Raven winners include Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.
Previous Grand Masters include Dorothy Gilman, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis,
Mary Higgins Clark, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.
The Edgar Awards, or "Edgars," as they are commonly known, are named after MWA's patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. Celebrating their 65th anniversary in 2010, MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses almost 3,000 members in three categories of membership that include authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website: http://www.mysterywriters.org.'/
If weddings make you cry or smile, you may be one of us who has enjoyed Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet. With Happy Ever After, she finishes that series, leaving us feeling just as if we'd been to a beautiful wedding; smiling, a little teary-eyed, and a little wistful, but loving the enchantment.
Four friends, Mackenzie, Emma, Laural and Parker make up the partnership of Vows, a wedding and event business. In the course of the series, Mackenzie, the photographer, Emma, the florist, and, Laural, the pastry chef, have all fallen in love and become engaged. Parker Brown, the business organizer, and owner of the Brown estate, has her future all planned, hoping for just the right man, who hasn't come along yet. So, why is she so attracted to Malcolm Kavanaugh, the brash sexy bad boy mechanic who works on their cars?
Mal appears to glide through life, brushing problems aside. The former stuntman, now businessman with his own garage, refuses to reveal too much of himself to anyone. He doesn't want his troubled past to dominate his future. He'll play poker with the men engaged to Parker's friends, but no one can get past that rough exterior. But, he takes Parker seriously, even if he isn't willing to open up.
Every one of these books has been fun, sexy and romantic. This one is no exception, as Parker Brown finally deals with a man she can't control. If this final book in the Bride Quartet makes you sigh or dream a little, it should. Isn't that what Happy Ever After is all about?
I'm sure Debbie Macomber needs no additional publicity for her books, but Call Me Mrs. Miracle is such a warm Christmas story that it's hard not to love it. Macomber's letter to her readers said the success of Mrs. Miracle, the Hallmark movie last Christmas, led to a demand for a sequel. Since Miracle on 34th Street is one of Macomber's favorite Christmas movies, she decided to place Mrs. Miracle in the toy department of a New York City department story. That's all the inspiration she needed for this enchanting book.
Finley's is the last family-owned department store in New York City, and this year, Jake Finley, son of the owner, J.R. Finley, is in charge of the toy department. His father is already upset at the risk Jake took in buying a large quantity of an expensive toy. But, Jake's mysterious new saleswoman, whose name badge says Mrs. Miracle, assures him the robots will will be a hit, selling out. Jake doesn't need another bad Christmas.
Jake's mother and sister were killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve twenty-one years earlier. Now, he and his father escape the city and the holidays as soon as they can after their busy Christmas rush. Neither of them have celebrated since the tragedy in their lives.
But, a chance encounter in a coffee shop puts Jake in the path of Holly Larson, a woman who loves Christmas. It's going to be a difficult one for her this year, though, with her brother in Afghanistan, her parents in Haiti, and her own responsibility for her brother's eight-year-old son, Gabriel. She just can't seem to bond with Gabe, until Gabe meets Mrs. Miracle, and sees a robot at Finley's.
If you believe in Christmas miracles, and love delightful holiday stories, you'll want to pick up Debbie Macomber's story. It's filled with surprises, needy people, and love. And, you might want to check out the November 27th showing of Call Me Mrs. Miracle, starring Doris Roberts, on the Hallmark Channel.
I don't know why I haven't read Mercedes Lackey's books lately. Maybe I just saturated myself at one time with the Valdemar books. But, I always liked her talented, courageous heroines. Trio of Sorcery gives us three of them in an enjoyable urban fantasy collection.
Lackey's stories combine magic and contemporary life, and these stories show the progress in both. The first story, "Arcanum 101" takes readers back to the origins of the Diana Tregarde stories. It's set in the early 1970s, before personal computers, cell phones, and even MTV. Diana herself is young, just a freshman at Harvard. Her beloved Memaw, grandmother, wise woman, and teacher, is dead, and Diana is feeling lonely and lost. But, she's a Guardian, and when a cop shows up at her door, needing help with a missing child case, she knows she's supposed to help him. That case, along with a young college student messing with magic when he shouldn't, helps Diana Tregarde find a new place for herself.
Time has moved on a little in the second story, "Drums." Cell phones are still the size of bricks, satellite dishes are enormous, sitting in front yards, and computers are still dial-up. Private investigator and Medicine Woman, Jennifer Talldeer has one foot in the present, and one in the past, where she deals with Native American traditions and history. That knowledge will be invaluable when she has to deal with the ghost of an Osage warrior.
In "Ghost in the Machine," Ellen McBride is a techno-shaman, an expert in computers who also knows that "Magic is a real form." When a new computer game is inhabited by a monster from Ojibwa stories, Ellen is the only one with the skills to recognize what is happening to the out-of-control world. But, does she have the skills to stop a Wendigo?
These three novellas don't give Lackey enough time to fully develop the characters. But, she's skillful enough to create fascinating women and stories that draw us into their worlds. In fact, I've already placed my holds at the library on the first Diana Tregarde and Jennifer Talldeer books. And, I'm hoping Ellen McBride will get her own book someday. Lackey's Trio of Sorcery sold me on all three characters and their knowledge. Although I've been reading Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, I'd forgotten how much I appreciate the worlds created by the best of the urban fantasy writers. Mercedes Lackey's latest book reminded me.
It always sounds so trite to say those of us who are over fifty remember where we were on November 22, 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. But, even those of us who were only six remember, and we remember the sounds and sights of the subsequent days. Jay Mulvaney and Paul De Angelis, in compiling a collection of letters written to Jacqueline Kennedy, have reminded us how the country and world shared those experiences. Dear Mrs. Kennedy: The World Shares Its Grief: Letters, November 1963 is a beautiful, moving remembrance of that agonizing time.
By the time the letters stopped arriving, Jacqueline Kennedy had received 1,250,000 pieces of condolence correspondence. Nine hundred thousand response cards went out on St. Patrick's Day, 1964. Those letters were sorted over time, and many of them are stored at the JFK Library. Mulvaney had the idea to compile those letters, and, following his death, De Angelis picked up the project.
They are letters from people of every walk of life, and all corners of the world. And, those letters tell a story, not only of a grieving world, but of the history of the country. They remind us where we were in the world, with comments about Cuba, Russia, the space program, the Peace Corps, Kennedy's call for all of us to step forward. The letters that came from Hollywood and the Jet Set, notes from Prince Rainer, Pearl Bailey, Oleg Cassini, Lauren Bacall, remind us of the glamour of the Kennedy White House. There were beautiful notes from politicians, world leaders, journalists. But, some of the most moving notes came from women and children, those who identified with the widowed First Lady and her young children. And, as the authors said, these letters also show the lost art of writing beautiful letters, an art that is lost now that we spend so much time on our computers, and children aren't even taught handwriting in schools.
For a short time in 1963, the world stood still, focused on a grieving family, and a grieving nation. One of my favorite telegrams came from Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox who wrote from Italy, saying that "In Rome on the day following the assassination all of the advertising billboards were removed throughout the city and were replaced with large billboard posters with a full-sized photograph of our late President."
If you remember November 1963, Dear Mrs. Kennedy will bring back memories. If you don't remember those tragic days, Mulvaney and De Angelis provide an opportunity for understanding. The words of so many Americans, and people from throughout the world tell a story of loss, and grief, and knowledge of what we lost.
As part of the TLC Book Tour, they are offering one blog reader a copy of the book. So, here's my contest. Anyone can enter the contest by sending me an email at email@example.com with the subject heading, "Win Dear Mrs. Kennedy." The contest will end on Thursday night, Nov. 18 at 6 PM MT, when I'll use a random number generator to draw the winner. But, if you're over fifty, I'd be interested in knowing where you were when you heard President Kennedy was shot. I was in school, but I was home sick watching all of the funeral proceedings.
If it seems a little early for Christmas books to you, it does to me, too. But, publishers are releasing them earlier each year, so I might as well start the reviews to let you know what's new this season. Since this book opens just before Thanksgiving, it's the perfect book to kick off holiday reading. Sheila Roberts, author of On Strike for Christmas, treats readers to The Snow Globe, a story of three friends who need miracles for the holidays.
Kiley Gray is on a girls' weekend with two friends when she stumbles across a little antiques shop on Fawn Island in the Pacific Northwest. Since she recently lost her fiancé to her sister, and lost her job, she could use a pick-me-up. The discovery of a snow globe in shop seems to be just what she needs, particularly when the owner relates the story of the first owner, and his vision in the snow globe. And, this globe was meant for someone who "needed it the most." Kiley believed in miracles, so she bought it. "It symbolized hope, and how did you put a price tag on hope?"
It wasn't long before Kiley discovered the snow globe actually symbolized the future, when she saw herself in the globe. And, when her future looked brighter, she passed it on to a friend, who appeared to have everything, a friend who scoffed at snow globes and miracles.
If you believe in holiday stories about hope and miracles, with a dash of love, then you're the kind of reader who can suspend disbelief. You might just want to pick up Sheila Roberts' charming novel, The Snow Globe.
I just love hosting the quarterly brown bag luncheons for library patrons. And, some of my patrons enjoy it so much that they've shown up a day, or even a week early! (And, I know they're not coming just for the cookies.) The November luncheon is my last chance to talk about holiday books, so I always include a number of them in the list, so they know about some of the new holiday titles.
Here's what I talked about at this week's brown bag luncheon.
Carlson, Melody – Christmas at Harrington’s - When Lena Markham is released from prison after 8 years, she hopes to make a fresh start in New Haven, Minnesota. Her promised job at Harrington's Department Store didn't work out. Instead, she became the store's Mrs. Santa.
Casey, Kathryn – The Killing Storm - As a hurricane bears down on Houston, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong frantically searches for a missing child.
Crusie, Jennifer – Maybe This Time - Andie Miller is ready to move on with her life, but her ex-husband hires her to take care of two difficult children living in a house of horrors.
Gaus, P.L. – Blood of the Prodigal - When a young Amish boy goes missing, his grandfather, the Bishop, turns to a pastor and a professor, instead of the local sheriff.
Genova, Lisa – Still Alice - Alice Howland, a brilliant Harvard professor, learns she has early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 50.
Kleypas, Lisa – Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor - Three lonely people, a child, a bachelor and a widow, need a Christmas miracle.
Larsen, K.J. – Liar, Liar - Cat DeLuca is the owner of Pants on Fire Detective Agency, catching liars and cheats. But, when one of her clients turns up dead, and the client’s so-called husband keeps popping up, Cat’s job gets a little interesting.
Lehane, Dennis – Gone Baby Gone - Patrick Kenzie & Angie Gennaro take on a case that lives on with consequences, that of a missing four-year-old. Lehane’s new Moonlight Mile is set twelve years later.
Macomber, Debbie – Call Me Mrs. Miracle - Emily Merkle’s (Mrs. Miracle) boss in the toy department at Finley’s Department Store is Jake Finley, a man who lost Christmas after a family tragedy. Can she bring him together with a woman who needs a little Christmas magic?
McManus, Patrick F. – The Huckleberry Murders - Sheriff Bo Tully investigates the worst murder in Blight County, Idaho history, that of three men picking huckleberries.
Ritter, Todd – Death Notice - It isn’t often an obituary writer receives a death notice before the victim dies, but it’s happening in a small Pennsylvania town.
Roberts, Sheila – The Snow Globe - Three needy young women find miracles in an antique snow globe.
Spann Craig, Elizabeth – Pretty Is as Pretty Dies - When there's a murder in town, retired schoolteacher Myrtle Clover thinks solving the crime would prove to her son, the police chief, that she’s not ready to put out to pasture.
Stewart, Mariah – Home Again - Dallas MacGregor is a Hollywood superstar, but the collapse of her marriage takes her back to the only home she loved, in Maryland, where she finds her beloved aunt and a high school sweetheart.
Viorst, Judith – Unexpectedly Eighty and Other Adaptations - Light verse about being in your eighties.
Woods, Sherryl – A Chesapeake Shores Christmas - There’s problems in the O’Brien family at holiday time, when Mick & Megan plan to remarry, and one son objects.
I don't know when I've seen an Advanced Readers' Copy of a book that had so many blurbs. Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and Ken Bruen are just a few of the authors who commented on Bruce DeSilva's debut crime novel, Rogue Island. And, the author's note says Evan Hunter (Ed McBain) is the one who encouraged him to expand a story into a novel. Sometimes too much acclaim is as bad as too much criticism. Does the novel deserve all the praise? In this case, the answer is yes.
DeSilva, who was a journalist in Providence, Rhode Island, introduces Mulligan, a journalist who grew up in Providence. Mulligan understands the history of the state, the intermingling of mob, politics, and graft. Even though he's an investigative reporter, he also works the system, bribing his way to faster results for a medical test, placing bets with a local bookie. He understands how police buy their promotions. Providence is home, with all its flaws.
So, when Mulligan's childhood neighborhood starts to burn down, he takes it personally. Night after night the fire department is called to houses in Mount Hope. Mulligan's old friend, Battalion Chief Rosella Morelli, knows how many homes burned, and how many people died. Since the arson investigators are incompetent, Mulligan starts poking around on his own.
Bruce DeSilva has written a complex novel that tells the story of one reporter's investigation, while also pointing out how newspapers are struggling to stay in business. It's hard to believe this is DeSilva's first novel, since he gives us realistic characters fighting losing battles. Mulligan is just one man dealing with the destruction of his childhood neighborhood, corruption and graft, major changes in the profession he loves, and loss.
Mulligan is an ordinary man, dealing with heartbreaking loss. As Mount Hope burns, and the newspaper world crumbles, he and other reporters handle it with black humor. There's a wonderful chapter in which the journalists poke fun at their own biggest mistakes. At the same time, this is one of the saddest crime novels I've read. It's hard to watch the destruction of a neighborhood, the loss of life, and Mulligan's life. But, he's a courageous man, and I'll be waiting for his return in the sequel to this outstanding debut, Rogue Island.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book
Book: 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book Author: Dianne Moritz Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell Pages: 36 Age Range: 3-6 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea is a nice lit...
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.