Saturday, January 29, 2005

Absent Friends

I can understand why people said S.J. Rozan's Absent Friends was one of the best mysteries of 2004. For some reason, it reminds me of Dennis Lehane's Mystic River. It may be because they are both stories of friendship gone wrong, with an air of foreboding hanging over them.

Rozan's book uses Sept. 11 as a jumping off point - the day Jimmy, a fireman, died in the collapse of the Twin Towers. It's the jumping off point for the investigation into his life and his childhood friendships. But, do even friends know the truth about each other? And, when is truth important?

It's a powerful book with no happy endings.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Junie B., First Grader (at last!)

When Carolyn, my YS librarian, gave me Junie B., First Grader (at last!) by Barbara Park, I thought it would just be a quick 20 minute read. But, I could relate to Junie B. I was the first one in the class in 4th grade to get glasses. So, I would leave the house with them on, but put them in my bookbag so no one would know I wore glasses. When I failed a math test that was written on the blackboard because I still wasn't wearing my glasses, I was forced to wear them. By 8th grade, 12 of the 24 kids in the class wore glasses. But, it's tough to be the first one.

Monday, January 24, 2005


From Absent Friends by S.J. Rozan

"It can be said that here the story begins, though it has been going on for some time. No story has a true beginning, and none has an ending, either."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Favorite Juvenile/YA of 2004

Here's the list of Fiction_L's favorite Juvenile & YA titles of late 2003/04.

>With 4 votes, our favorite of the year is:
>Pratchett, Terry - A Hat Full of Sky
>2 votes:
>Farmer, Nancy - The Sea of Trolls
>Hautman, Pete - Godless
>Mackler, Carolyn - The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round
>Piecre, Tamora - Trickster's Queen
>All the rest received 1 vote each:
>Almond, David - Fire-Eaters
>Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia - Snakecharm
>Barry, Dave and Ridley Pearson - Peter and the Star Catchers
>Bell, Hilari - Flame
>Boelts, Maribeth - The firefighter's Thanksgiving
>Boyce, Frank - Millions
>Choldenko, Gennifer - Al Capone Does My Shirts
>Cordor, Zizou - Lion Boy
>Curtis, Christopher Paul - Bucking the Sarge
>Dunkle, Clare - The Hollow Kingdom
>Dunkle, Clare - Close Kin
>Fischer, Catherine - The Oracle Betrayed
>Frank, E.R. - Friction
>Funke, Cornelia - Inkheart
>Going, K.L - Fat Kid Rules the World
>Haddon, Mark - Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
>Henkes, Kevin - Kitten's First Moon
>Jarvis, Robin - The Alchemist's Cat
>Jinks, Catherine - The Pagan series
>Johnson, D. B. - Henry Climbs a Mountain
>Johnson, Kathleen Jeffries - Target
>Jones, Diana Wynne - Witch Week
>Jones, Diana Wynne - The Dark Lord of Derkholm
>Jones, Diana Wynne - Charmed Life
>Kasey Belle - The Tiniest Fairy in the Kingdom
>Lawrence, Ian - B for Buster
>Le Guin, Ursula K. - Gifts
>Levithan, David - Boy Meets Boy
>Lowry, Lois - Messenger
>Moriarty, Jaclyn - The Year of Secret Assignments
>November, Sharyn, Ed. - Firebirds: An Anthology Of Original
Fantasy And
>Science Fiction
>Oppel, Kenneth - Airborn
>Paolini, Christopher - Eragon
>Peck, Richard - The Teacher's Funeral
>Peters, Julie Ann - Luna
>Piecre, Tamora - Trickster's Choice
>Rees, Douglas - Vampire High
>Reeve, Philip - Mortal Engines
>Rosoff, Meg - How I Live Now
>Runyon, Brent - The Burn Journals
>Sedgwick, Marcus - Book of Dead Days
>Stauffacher, Sue - Donuthead
>Stroud, Jonathon - Amulet of Samarkand, Bartimeaus Trilogy 1
>Stroud, Jonathon -The Golem's Eye, Bartimeaus Trilogy 2
>Takaya, Natsuki - Fruits Basket (Manga series title)
>Weaver, Will - Claws
>Weeks, Sarah - So B. It
>Werlin, Nancy - Double Helix
>Westerfeld, Scott - So Yesterday
>Wooding, Chris - The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
>Wystock, Cherry - My scrumptious Scottish Dumplings


"I sometimes fear that this business of life getting in the way of my
reading will drive me slowly insane." Martha C. Lawrence

Best Fiction of 2004

Members of Fiction_L contributed their list of the best fiction books of late 2003 or all of 2004. Very subjective list, since it depends on what we all personally like to read, but here's the list.

So without further ado, here is the long-awaited list of the Best
Novels of 2004!

And with eight votes, the winner is:

Clarke, Susanna - Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Six votes for:

Lindsay, Jeff - Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Pratchett, Terry - Going Postal

Five votes for:

Fforde, Jasper - Something Rotten
Picoult, Jodi - My Sister's Keeper

Four votes for:

Bohjalian, Chris - Before You Know Kindness
McCall Smith, Alexander (or Smith, Alexander McCall) - Sunday Philosphy

Three votes for:

Cruise, Jennifer - Bet Me
Dunant, Sarah - Birth of Venus
Fowler, Karen Joy - Jane Austen Book Club
Haruf, Kent - Eventide
Hewson, David - Season of the Dead
Hiassen, Carl - Skinny Dip
Moore, Christopher - Stupidest Angel
Perrotta, Tom - Little Children
Roth, Philip - Plot Againist America
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz (some may catalog this as Ruiz Zafon, Carlos) -
Shadow of the Wind

And the rest:

Acito, Marc - How I Paid for College
Albom, Mitch - Five People You Meet in Heaven
Andrews, Mary Kay - Hissy Fit
Atkinson, Kate - Case Histories
Baldwin, Shauna Singh - What the Body Remembers
Balogh, Mary - Slightly Dangerous
Balzo, Sandra - Uncommon Grounds
Baumbich, Charlene Ann - Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down, You're Wearing Us
Beckerman, Marty - Generation S.L.U.T.
Benjamin, Carol Lea - Fall Guy
Berg, Elizabeth - Art of Mending
Berry, Wendell - Hannah Coulter
Beverly-Whittemore, Karen - The Effects of Light
Brandon, Jay - Grudge Match
Brockmann, Suzann - Flashpoint
Brust, Steven - Sethra Lavode
Buckley, Christopher - Florence of Arabia
Bynum, Sarah Shun-lien - Madeleine is Sleeping
Caldwell, Ian - The Rule of Four
Chabon, Michael - Final Solution: A Story of Detection
Chaon, Dan - You Remind Me of Me
Chevalier, Tracy - The Lady and the Unicorn
Child, Lee - Enemy
Coben, Harlan - Just One Look
Connelly, Michael - The Narrows
D'Ancona, Matthew - Going East
Danticat, Edwidge - Dew Breaker
Davidson, Maryjanic - Undead And Unwed
Day, Cathy - Circus in Winter
Deaver, Jeffery - Garden of Beasts
DeMille, Nelson - Night Fall
Drummond, Laurie Lynn - Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against
Dunning, John - The Bookman's Promise
Elkins, Aaron - Good Blood
Ellis, David - Jury of One
Emerson, Kathy Lynn - Deadlier Than The Pen: A Diana Spaulding Mystery
Evanovich, Janet - Ten Big Ones
Farren, Mick - Kindling
Faust, Minister - Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad
Fawkes, L.T. - Early Eight
Fesperman, Dan - The Small Boat of Great Sorrows
Fforde, Jasper - Well of Lost Plots
Flagg, Fannie - Redbird Christmas
Fowler, Earlene - Broken Dishes
Garcia, Eric - Hot & Sweaty Rex
Garcia-Roza, Luis Alfredo - Southwesterly Wind
Garcia-Roza, Luis Alfredo - The Silence of the Rain
Gillespie, Karen - Bet Your Bottom Dollar
Grafton, Sue - R is for Ricochet
Hagen, George - Laments
Haldeman, Joe - Camouflage
Hand, Elizabeth - Mortal Love
Harrington, Donald - With
Harris, Joanne - Holy Fools
Harris, Robert - Pompeii
Hayter, Sparkle - Bandit Queen Boogie
Hearn, Lian - Brilliance of the Moon
Hewson David - Lucifers Shadow
Hill, Ingrid - Ursula Under
Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki - Legend of fire horse women
Hunter, Madeline - The Charmer
James, P.D. - Murder room
Jillette, Penn - Sock
Jones, Edward P. - The Known World
Jordan, Robert - New Spring
Kantner, Seth - Ordinary Wolves
Katzenbach , John - Madman's Tale
Kellerman, Jonathan - Therapy
King, Jonathon - Shadow Men
King, Laurie - The game
King, Stephen - Dark Tower (Book 7)
King, Stephen - Song of Susannah
Kirshenbaum, Binnie - Almost Perfect Moment
Kluger, Steve - Almost Like Being in Love
Konrath J.A. - Whiskey Sour
Kozak, Harley Jane - Dating Dead Men
Lackey, Mercedes - Fairy Godmother
Lackey, Mercedes, et al - Wizard of Karres
Lansdale, Joe - Sunset and Sawdust
Letts, Billie - Shoot the Moon
Logue, Mary - Bone Harvest
Lychack, William - The Wasp Eater
Maine, David - Preservationist
Mapson, Jo-Ann - Goodbye, Earl
Marai, Sandar - Casanova in Bolzano
Marley, Louise - Child Goddess
Maron, Margaret - High Country Fall
Marson, Bonnie - Sleeping with Schubert
Martinez, Nina Marie - Caramba! A Tale Told in Turns of the Card
Mayor, Archer - The Surrogate Thief
McCall Smith, Alexander - The Full Cupboard of Life
McKinley, Robin - Sunshine
McLarty, Ron - Memory of Running
McSparren, Carolyn - All God's Creatures
Melton, Marliss - Forget Me Not
Micklem, Sarah - Firethorn
Min, Anchee - Empress Orchid
Mina, Denise - Deception
Mirvis, Tova - Outside World
Moore, John - Heroics for Beginners
Morgan, Richard - Broken Angels
Morrall, Clare - Astonishing Splashes of Colour
Mosher, Howard Frank - Waiting for Teddy Williams
Munro, Alice - Runaway
Murakami, Ryu - In the Miso Soup
Murkoff, Bruce - Waterborne
Nadel, Barbara - Belshazzar's Daughter
Nadel, Barbara - The Wasp Eater
Nash, Sophia - A Passionate Endeavor
Nguyen, Kien - Le Colonial
Oates, Joyce Carol - The Falls
O'Connell, Carol - Dead Famous
Olson, Shannon - Children of God Go Bowling
Ozick, Cynthia - Heir to the Glimmering World
Perez-Reverte, Arturo - Queen of the South
Poirier, Mark Jude - Modern Ranch Living
Pratchett, Terry - Hat Full of Sky
Qiu Xiaolong - When Red Is Black
Quick, Amanda - The Paid Companion
Ragen, Naomi - The Convenant
Rankin, Robert - The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
Reid, Van - Fiddler's Green
Richards, Leigh - Califia's Daughters
Roberts, Nora - Blue Dahlia
Robinson, Kim Stanley - Forty Signs of Rain
Robinson, Marilynne - Gilead
Robinson, Peter - Playing With Fire
Rosenfelt, David - Bury the Lead
Rozan, S. J. - Absent Friends
Ruff, Matt - Set This House in Order
Runyon, Brent - The Burn Journals
Ryman, Geoff - Air
Samuel, Barbara - Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue
Sayle, Alexei - Overtaken
Schaffer, Dylan - Misdemeanor Man
Searles, John - Strange But True
Shepad, Jim - Project X
Shinn, Sharon - Angel-Seeker: A Novel of Samaria
Shreve, Anita - Light on snow
Siddons, Anne Rivers - Islands
Silbert, Leslie - Intelligencer
Siler, Jenny - Flashback
Smith, Martin Cruz - Wolves Eat Dogs
Sosnowski, David - Vamped
Spencer-Fleming, Julia - Out of the Deep I Cry
Spragg, Mark - Unfinished Life
Stabenow, Dana - A Taint in the Blood
Stephenson - The System of the World
Stross, Charles - Atrocity Archives
Taylor, Debbie - Fourth Queen
Thomas, Will - Some Danger Involved
Toibin, Colm - The Master
Tracy, P.J. - Live Bait
Trevor, William - Bit on the Side
Turteltaub, H. N. - The Holy Land
Vanderhaeghe, Guy - Last Crossing
Vandermeer, Jeff - Veniss Underground
Vreeland, Susan - Forest lover
Ward, Amanda Eyre - How to be Lost
Weiner, Jennifer - Little Earthquakes
Wiggins, Marianne - Evidence of Things Unseen
Wingate, Lisa - Lone Star Café
Winspear, Jacqueline - Birds of a Feather
Winston, Lolly - Good Grief
Wolfe, Tom - I Am Charlotte Simmons
Wolstencroft, David - Good News Bad News

A Thread of Grace

I haven't read Mary Doria Russell's new novel about the Italian resistance movement in World War II, but she took the title A Thread of Grace from a quote I like. According to Judith Rosen's article "Something About Mary" in the January 3, 2005 Publishers Weekly, 'The Hebrew saying she chose for the title of the book is also an apt description of her life during its writing: "No matter how dark the tapestry God weaves for us, there's always a thread of Grace."'

Knuffle Bunny

Yesterday the Caldecott winners were announced. Kevin Henkes won for his book, Kitten's First Full Moon. But Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems was a runner-up. I'm on hold for Henkes' book, but read Knuffle Bunny today, and thought of you, Ann. It's not as cute as his Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! But, did you catch the tee shirt on the man when they ran back through the park? There's the pigeon! Sometime in November or December, PW had a series of hilarious ads with the pigeon in them, commenting on books by the publisher. And, he said things like, everyone's talking about Knuffle Bunny, but don't forget the Pigeon books. Great series of ads!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

On the Bedstand revisited

Well, no wonder you only read one book since November. Leaving Eden doesn't exactly sound like a pick-me-up novel. I won't even ask who gave it to you as a present.

On my bedstand at the moment are two books, Tool & Die, a mystery by Sarah Graves, and Paradise Fields by Katie Fforde. Fforde is a British author who writes novels featuring mature working women who stumble through problems and find love. She's one of those authors with a clever description on the back flap of the book. Hers says, "Her hobbies are ironing and housework, but, unfortunately, she has almost no time for them as she feels it is her duty to keep a close eye on the afternoon chat shows."

on the bedstand

Thank goodness - for the first time since November, I've finished a book! Leaving Eden by Ann D. LeClaire was given to me on my birthday. I'm not sure why it was picked - I'm hoping I don't resemble the protagonist. :)
Tallie Brock goes to high school and works in the beauty shop in a small town and wishes for her mother. Through flashbacks we get the story of her mother's leaving for Hollywood when Tallie was 12 and her subsequent return only to die within the year. Tallie is left to grow up with a distracted father and no dreams of her own. It is about relationships, honesty, and bravery.
I had a hard time keeping the time frame set in my head. It seemed to be written from another decade but was supposed to be set in the present. I also couldn't get a bead on Tallies age. Chronologically she was 16-17 but I kept thinking of her as much younger.
There were no real surprises in the story or the ending. We know much earlier than Tallie that her dream of going to Hollywood to become an actress is just a misdirected attempt to fulfill her mother's dream. The epilogue was not predictable so much as it was boring.
And so, a resounding "eh" in favor of Leaving Eden.
Perhaps it will at least serve as fodder for me to get back on the reading train!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Poisoned Pen Central

I had a great experience today. I went to the opening of The Poisoned Pen Central in downtown Phoenix. The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale is a large independent mystery bookstore. Haven't had a chance to get to it yet. Today they opened a small one that's in a renovated warehouse. It's meant to hold events. It's in the same building as an art gallery that will hold a large Chihuly exhibit in 2006. And, Arcadia Farms Restaurant will have a restaurant there as well. They want it all to be a destination.

Anyways, The Poisoned Pen is famous for the steady stream of mystery writers that pass through the doors. I think their web site is if you want to see the list.

For the grand opening, they had Jan Burke and Linda Fairstein talking about their latest books, and writing. Jan remembered me when I introduced myself since I was out of place in Arizona. She had done our Lee County Reading Festival twice for me. She autographed my copy of her new book, Bloodlines, with "For Lesa, who has been good to me coast to coast." And, I had a picture taken of the two of us which she said she would autograph if I sent it to her.

I had corresponded with Linda Fairstein, but she hadn't been able to come to the festival. She was always really nice about it. She signed Entombed with "Good to meet you at least. Coop meets Poe - Enjoy!"

They both had very interesting things to say about their current books, the professions of their main characters, and the change in those fields.

The attached picture is me with Jan Burke.

Made for a terrific day! Now one of these days Jim & I are going to the original Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

All-time favorite Books

One of the lists I'm on, ARM (Anal Retentive Mystery Readers), has been answering the question, what are your all-time favorite books. I don't have a top 10. I have a few that mean a lot to me for various reasons, and then the good books I've read recently. My short list here is the books that mean a lot, in no particular order.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
3. Love by Leo Buscaglia
4. A Thread of Blue Denim by Patricia Leimbach
5. Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

I guess these are my top five.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tales from Shakespeare

Did you know that Mary Lamb, co-author with her brother,Charles, of "Tales from Shakespeare," killed her mother? Susan Hitchcock's new book is called "Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London" and tells the story of Mary Lamb, and her mental problems, including the murder of her mother.

Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me

Just finished a juv book - Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing About Me by Katy Kelly. It's about a third grade girl who moves to Washington, D.C. when her parents divorce. She lives with her mother, although her grandparents are very close. She has a hard time adjusting to a new school and making new friends. It is a fun book, with a fun group of characters. But, what I appreciated most was the scene when the guinea pig got loose in the house, and everyone was hunting for it, and they ended up punching a hole in the wall. It reminded me of 8th grade when my hamster got out of its cage in the basement. I'll always admire my mother for how she handled it. She heard the hamster in the back of the couch and ripped the back of the couch off to get to the hamster. Then she called me at school to let me know she got the hamster out. I usually answered the phone in the office, but that day, the principal answered and actually came and got me to take the phone call. Have to admire a mom who will rip the back off a couch to find an animal. (I know - if it had died in there, she would have regretted it more, but I still think it's great she did that.)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Animal Farm

I just had to put this in. It was on PUBLIB the other day.

So, just awhile ago the Youth Services Librarian (again) has another
strange encounter with a patron. And I quote:

A patron comes into the office and says something like, "I just wanted
you to be aware of this movie that you have in the library. It's
called Animal Farm. I checked it out last time I was in for my kids to
watch and it is really quite frightening. I thought it was going to be
cute and know maybe some talking animals or something like
Babe. It definitely isn't. I'm just saying that you should be aware of
it." I said, "yeah, it's based on the book by George Orwell." She
looked at me and said, "OH my! Is that a children's book?"

John Richmond, Director
Alpha Park Public Library District
3527 So. Airport Road
Bartonville, IL 61607-1799

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?

A little different from 84, Charing Cross Road. I just finished When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin. It's been on the New York Times Best Seller List, and it's social commentary/humor. A little too gross in some parts for my taste, but much of his social commentary is right on target.

Friday, January 07, 2005

84, Charing Cross Road

Yesterday, sitting in the parking garage across from the Carnegie Library in Phoenix, I started 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I'm rereading it for the second time, this time for a book discussion I'm attending at the end of January. If you're a book lover, you should immediately be sucked in. This is a series of letters covering twenty years, from 1949 to 1969, between Hanff and a used-book dealer in London. Her love of books will move you. The growing relationship between Hanff and the staff of the bookstore will make you love this book. If it's been a few years since you read it, you might want to pick it up again. Personally, I cry every time I read the book, and I burned myself while ironing and watching the movie. It's a wonderful book for a book lover to start the year with.


Jim & Noreen - I've invited both of you to join Nikki's world if you'd like. I'm going to talk about books - what I'm reading, hope to read, quotes, authors, anything about the book world. Hope you want to talk!

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Nikki's World is named for the new kitten we took in the Tuesday before Christmas when she was one of six kittens dumped behind our Main Library in a gift-wrapped box. She's a little Desert Lynx/Tabby combination who weighed just over a pound when we brought her home. Since she was a library cat, as were Lammie and Dickens, our cats born behind our bookshelf, it seems appropriate to call this Nikki's World for a site devoted to books.