Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Books read in July

Here's the list of the sixteen books I read in July. I hope you had a good reading month as well.

Majestic Descending by Mitchell Graham - An Atlanta attorney thought she was on a vacation cruise until she witnesses an argument with a man who later ends up dead, has the cruise ship sabotaged and sunk beneath her feet, and becomes a target.

The Best of Friends by Sara James and Ginger Mauney - The story of their friendship over thirty-some years and two continents.

The Dark End of Town by Julia Pomeroy - A waitress in a small town looks for a missing young woman after a teen's mother is killed.

First Drop by Zoё Sharp - Charlie Fox takes a job in Florida as a bodyguard for a teen, not expecting that she and the boy will be on the run from gunmen in an unfamiliar area.

Family Secrets by Judith Henry Wall - Three sisters look for their unknown grandmother, and have an unwelcome surprise.

Dead Connection by Alafair Burke - Det. Ellie Hatcher is teamed up with a NYPD detective who has a hunch that recent murders are linked to an online dating service.

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear Maisie Dobbs investigates an artist's death in London in 1930.

The Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge - A Teen Novel in which fifteen high school students use free verse to tell about a year in high school that could lead to tragedy.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen - A graphic novel about mice scheming to attack a village protected by Guard Mice.

Way Down Dead in Dixie by Caroline Cousins - Three cousins from Indigo Island discover the body of a girl who was supposed to have died in Hurricane Camille thirty years earlier in Mississippi.

Fingerprints and Facelifts by Rick Copp - Charlie's Angels on estrogen. Three former detectives, now in their fifties, search for the person who is targeting their kids.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - Rowling brings the series to a satisfactory conclusion.

Married in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruse - What can be worse than being sheriff when your son's new mother-in-law is murdered during the wedding reception?

Jackpot Nation by Richard Hoffer - Gambling in America.

On Wings of the Morning by Marie Bostwick - ARC of a book due out in November. Two young people who love to fly find their wings during World War II, and struggle to find love.

Where Cats Meditate by David Baird - Poetry and cat photos.

Monday, July 30, 2007

August Bestsellers Revisited

A month ago, I listed the few books I expected to see as bestsellers in August. Did you want to see the list of books most in demand from jobbers? Jobbers are the distributors - the middlemen between the publishers and the libraries or bookstores.

Today, I received the list of August Quick Release books from Baker & Taylor, those books that have the highest demand pre-publication. Here's the list, and for those later in the month, their on-sale date.

Mitchard, Jacquelyn - Still Summer
Crusie, Jennifer & Bob Mayer - Agnes and the Hitman (This was a Treasure in My Closet book)
Tanenbaum, Robert K. - Malice
Kaminsky, Stuart M. - Dead Don't Lie (An Abe Lieberman Mystery)
Korda, Michael - Ike: An American Hero
Chapman, Duane - You Can Run But You Can't Hide (This is Dog, the Bounty Hunter)
Kellerman, Faye - Burnt House - Aug. 7
Cook, Robin - Critical - Aug. 7
Dickey, Eric Jerome - Waking with Enemies - Aug. 7
McCall Smith, Alexander - Careful Use of Compliments - Aug. 7
Finder, Joseph - Power Play - Aug. 7
Meyer, Stephenie - Eclipse - Aug. 7
Gaffney, Patricia - Mad Dash - Aug. 7
Brown, Sandra - Play Dirty - Aug. 14
Brockmann, Suzanne - Force of Nature - Aug. 14
Reich, Kathy - Bones to Ashes - Aug. 28
Gabaldon, Diana - Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade - Aug. 28
Preston, Douglas - Wheel of Darkness - Aug. 28
Brooks, Terry - Elves of Cintra - Aug. 28

In the next day or so, I'll be posting my September guesses, and the Treasures in My Closet for September. Keep reading!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Jackpot Nation

Richard Hoffer's book is subtitled, "Rambling and Gambling Across Our Landscape of Luck." Hoffer, a writer for Sports Illustrated, examines what just might be the national sport, gambling. He says this country was founded on chance, and we're still gambling. In fact, the English authorized America's first lottery in 1612 to help fund the Jamestown settlement. Settlers took a chance when they came here, and continued to gamble with their futures. From gold strikes to gushers, our history is based on chance.

There's a thriving economy based on gambling. Last year, Americans bet each other about $80 billion. Since government and religion are no longer as prohibitive of gambling, it's taken off throughout the country. Hoffer decided to take a road trip to examine gambling in the U.S. Since he himself had once lost $100,000 at blackjack, he could identify with those who gambled. He went to Las Vegas, and bet on sports for the first time. He went to Utah, where there's no gambling allowed, except for the back alley games he found. Those were the two extremes, Vegas and Utah.

Hoffer explored dogfights, betting on golf, slot machines, the history of Indian casinos, charity raffles, and online betting. The book was a fascinating look into the various aspects of gambling, but, at times, a little dry and too technical.

Even so, Hoffer's Jackpot Nation makes a reader pause and consider the amount of money spent on gambling annually, and the lives that are affected, for good or ill, by chance.

Jackpot Nation: Rambling and Gambling Across Our Landscape of Luck by Richard Hoffer, HarperCollins Publishers, ©2007, ISBN 978-0-06-076144-8 (hardcover), 241p.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Skip Prosser

Skip Prosser died yesterday. It came as a shock to me to read he died of a heart attack after jogging, at just 56.

And, most of you are saying, who in the heck was Skip Prosser, and what does he have to do with books. I know who he was, but I wasn't in his world to know who he
really was.

Then I read an article by Dan Wetzel, a columnist. Wetzel pointed out that Skip Prosser was a reader, "long biographies, history, philosophy and politics." And, he said every conversation he ever had with him began with him asking what he was reading. And, he was a teacher. The kind of teacher anyone would want to have, or have for their children. The kind of teacher that made students study about Europe before going on a class trip. A reader and teacher to be admired.

Did you have one of those teachers in your life? I went to a Catholic elementary school, but the two women who influenced me the most when it came to reading were lay teachers. One made us memorize poetry, and, to this day, my sisters and I can still recite some of those poems. One gave me the opportunity to read books that I enjoyed but might never have picked up on my own. And, I looked forward to every one of those times when we read the books as a class.

I had three wonderful English teachers in high school, and over thirty years later, I still occasionally write to two of them. And, I did write to thank one of those men for how he influenced me. I learned to write, and read better, from all three of those teachers.

So, did you have a teacher that challenged you to read? Did you have a Skip Prosser in your life?

Oh, and Skip Prosser? He was the men's basketball coach at Wake Forest.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Winners and last July Contest

Congratulations to the winners of the Something Other than Harry Potter Contests. Carol B. from Lake Junaluska, NC won the ARC of Deadly Advice by Roberta Isleib. The autographed copy of The Dark End of Town by Julia Pomeroy will be going to Penny T. in Klamath Falls, OR. The books will be going out in the mail tomorrow.

As promised, when I went to see Alafair Burke last Saturday, I bought a paperback copy of Judgment Calls and had it autographed. Judgment Calls was Burke's first book, introducing Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid. Along with the book, I'll send one of the cute notepads Alafair gave out, promoting her latest book, Dead Connection.

You could also try to win an ARC of Cordelia Frances Biddle's historical mystery,
The Conjurer. This crime novel introduces Martha Beale in a story that takes place in Philadelphia in 1842.

So, Judgment Calls or The Conjurer?

If you'd like to win any of these books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, August 2nd. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Friday. Good luck!

Anthony Award Nominees

The Anthony Award Nominations were just announced. The Anthony Awards are given each year at Bouchercon, the award and conference named for Anthony Boucher. Nominees are suggested by fans and winners are chosen by a vote of registered convention attendees.

There are some wonderful authors on this list, as well as some I know as very nice people. Congratulations to all of the nominees!



ALL MORTAL FLESH, Julia Spencer-Fleming, St. Martins
THE DEAD HOUR, Denise Mina, Little Brown & Co.
KIDNAPPED, Jan Burke, Simon & Schuster
NO GOOD DEEDS, Laura Lippman, Harper
THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS, Nancy Pickard, Ballantine


A FIELD OF DARKNESS, Cornelia Read, Mysterious Press
THE HARROWING, Alexandra Sokoloff, St. Martin’s
HOLMES ON THE RANGE, Steve Hockensmith, St. Martins
THE KING OF LIES, John Hart, St. Martin’s
STILL LIFE, Louise Penny, St. Martin’s


ASHES AND BONES, Dana Cameron, Avon
BABY SHARK, Robert Fate, Capital Crime Press
THE CLEANUP, Sean Doolittle, Dell
A DANGEROUS MAN, Charlie Huston, Ballantine
SHOTGUN OPERA, Victor Gischler, Dell
SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, Naomi Hirahara, Bantam Dell - Delta


“After the Fall,” Elaine Viets, Alfred Hitchcock Mag
“Cranked” Bill Crider, DAMN NEAR DEAD, Busted Flush Press
“The Lords of Misrule” Dana Cameron, SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL, Avon
“My Father’s Secret,” Simon Wood, Crime Spree Magazine, Bcon Spec
Issue ’06
“Policy” Megan Abbott, DAMN NEAR DEAD, Busted Flush Press
“Sleeping with the Plush” Toni Kelner, Alfred Hitchcock Mag


THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, Daniel Stashower, Dutton
DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY, Chris Roerden, Bella Rosa Books
MYSTERY MUSES, Jim Huang/Austin Lugar, Editors, Crum Creek Press
READ ‘EM THEIR WRITES, Gary Warren Niebuhr, Libraries Unlimited


Charles Ardal, Hard Case Crime
George Easter, Deadly Pleasures
Franchi & Sharon Wheeler, reviewingtheevidence.com
Jim Huang, Crum Creek Press and The Mystery Company
Jon & Ruth Jordan, CrimeSpree Magazine
Ali Karim, Shots Magazine
Lynn Kazmarik & Chris Aldrich, Mystery News,
Maddy Van Hertbruggen, 4 Mystery Addicts

Due to a lack of nominations, there will be no award given for Best Young Adult Novel this year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brown Bag Luncheons

Once every three months, I'm lucky enough to do two brown bag luncheons, one with library patrons, and one, a week later with library staff. I take fifteen books with me to talk about, while they listen, share their excitement, and have lunch.

Today was the luncheon with the library patrons, and next Thursday I'll take the books up to the Main Library and have a fun hour or so discussing books with the staff. What's any better than talking about books?

Here are the books from the Hot Summer Reads List.

Cleeves, Ann – Raven Black – (Adult Fiction) A traditional British mystery, set in the Shetland Islands. Introduces Inspector Jimmy Perez who investigates when a teen is found strangled. Projected first in a series.

Copp, Rick – Fingerprints and Facelifts – (Adult Fiction) Think “Charlie’s Angels” on estrogen. Now in their fifties, three former detectives reunite when their children are threatened. Fun, campy book.

Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume – (Adult Nonfiction) Essays by women writers such as Meg Cabot, Beth Kendrick, and Julie Kenner, talking about Blume’s influence on their lives.

Fadiman, Anne – At Large and At Small – (Adult Nonfiction) Essays by the author of Ex Libris.

Goudge, Eileen – Woman in Red - (Adult Fiction) A woman loses everything when her son is hit by a car, and she tries to run over the driver. Returning to Gray’s Island means facing her other son, who becomes a victim himself.

Grabenstein, Chris – Whack A Mole - (Adult Fiction) Third in the Ceepak crime fiction series, set on the New Jersey shore. John Ceepak’s partner, Danny Boyle, realizes he might have ruined their case, as they look for a serial killer who resurfaced twenty years after his crimes.

Graham, Mitchell – Majestic Descending - (Adult Fiction) A lawyer from Atlanta suddenly becomes a target when she witnesses an argument on a cruise ship, before a man is murdered, and the cruise ship is sunk.

Hart, Marjorie – Summer at Tiffany - (Memoir) Hart’s memoir of New York City in 1945, when she and a friend became the first women to work the floor at Tiffany’s.

James, Sara & Ginger Mauney – The Best of Friends: Two Women, Two Continents, and One Enduring Friendship - (Memoir) Story of two women, friends since the age of twelve, and their lifelong connection.

Koertge, Ron – The Brimstone Journals – (Teen Fiction) 15 students at Branston High School, Class of 2001, are profiled through their poems, written as journal entries.

Matheson, Richard – I Am Legend – (Adult Fiction) The classic story of the last man, as he struggles for survival against vampires for three years. A forthcoming movie.

Maupin, Armistead – Michael Tolliver Lives – (Adult Fiction) The story of a survival of the gay years in San Francisco, twenty years later.

Riordan, Rick – The Lightning Thief – (Youth Fiction) Now that Harry Potter’s over, try Riordan’s series about Percy Jackson & the Olympians. A young boy who is a misfit at school, ends up at a camp for children of the gods.

Sharp, Zoe – First Drop – (Adult Fiction) Charlie Fox, ex-British army, takes a job as bodyguard for a teenager in Florida, only to be forced to go on the run with the boy.

Smith, Deborah – Sweet Hush (Adult Fiction) A successful businesswoman has problems when her son runs off with the President’s daughter.

Married in Metropolis

What can be worse than having to deal with the overbearing mother-in-law at the wedding reception? How about having to deal with the corpse of that same mother-in-law when you're the local sheriff and it's your son's wedding reception?

Once again, Lonnie Cruse puts Sheriff Joe Dalton in a tough situation, in Married in Metropolis. The reader knows Dalton is going to be miserable from the opening sentence. "Sheriff Joe Dalton yanked off his tuxedo jacket and cautiously waded into the Ohio River toward the woman floating face down several yards in front of him." He has to bring the body of his son's new mother-in-law up, in front of all of the family and friends gathered for the wedding. Unfortunately, she was a wealthy, powerful politician, not just an overbearing family member. And, at first glance, it's only the family that has any reason to want her dead.

Cruse's character is a caring man, with a family he dotes on. It's difficult enough to investigate any murder in the small town of Metropolis, but a case involving his family is even more difficult. Even his son is a suspect. And then there's the three daughters of the deceased, girls who may know something. It doesn't make it easier when the mayor and the State's Attorney want to wrestle the investigation away from him. It might be a bigger problem dealing with his own mother-in-law while she criticizes him and dates one of his staff members. And, it's bad enough to deal with murder. But, life goes on, and so does crime in Metropolis, as an elderly woman leaves her home, and Dalton's office has to find her.

Lonnie Cruse created warm, likable characters when she brought Sheriff Dalton, his family and staff to life. The connections these characters share are the strengths in her books. Dalton would not be able to be as successful as he is without the love and support of his family. And, his knowledge of his home county and its citizens increase his changes of finding a killer. A return to the Metropolis series is a return to the kind of community where everyone cares.

Lonnie Cruse's website is www.lonniecruse.com

Married in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruse. NaDaC Publishing, ©2006. ISBN 0-9785880-2-9 (paperback), 215p.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

John D. MacDonald

Today would have been John D. MacDonald's birthday. He's most famous for his Travis McGee novels, stories that feature the beach bum detective who lives on a houseboat, called the Busted Flush, that he won in a poker game. McGee's friend, Meyer, was an internationally-known and respected economist, the educated intellectual of the pair. Meyer's boats were jammed full of books and treatises, and not just on his field.

I'm lucky enough to own two copies of a short essay called Reading For Survival that John D. MacDonald wrote in 1986 for the Library of Congress' Center for the Book. It was published in 1987, after MacDonald's death, in a limited edition of 5,000 copies.

Reading for Survival is a twenty-two page conversation between McGee and Meyer about the importance of reading in man's survival. Meyer points out that man's history made it important for him to listen and use his memory, until printing, books and libraries made it no longer important for men to need memory because books contained that memory, the record of mankind.

He asks what should people be doing with that unused capacity. He said there are pitfalls for nonreaders in today's world, that they will fall for any fad or belief. The solution to empty places in heads is "Education, literacy, reading, thinking, and remembering."

Meyer (and MacDonald) says, "The man who can read and remember and ponder the big realities is a man keyed to survival of the species. These big realities are the history of nations, cultures, religions, politics, and the total history of man-from biology to technology. He does not have to read everything. That's an asinine concept. He should have access to everything, but have enough education to differentiate between slanted tracts and balanced studies, between hysterical preachings and carefully researched data."

John D. MacDonald's writings are still relevant today. In that short essay, his two characters discuss Creationism, Shiites and Sunnis, terrorism, global warming, and other topics that are just as timely now as they were twenty years ago. And, MacDonald's solution for survival? An educated person who reads.

Thank you, John D. MacDonald.

Off the Page

If you're a mystery fanatic, you might be familiar with the name of Oline Cogdill, a columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Oline has been reading and writing about mysteries and authors for the last twelve years for the newspaper. Since newspapers have taken a slightly different turn lately, cutting back on their book coverage, she and Chauncey Mabe, the Book Editor, now have a blog, Off the Page.

No, the Sun-Sentinel is not discontinuing book coverage, but the blog will offer Oline and Mabe another outlet for reaching all of us readers. I've already linked to their blog because I know it will always be interesting.

You can check it out at Off the Page.

Monday, July 23, 2007

This and That

Well, I finished the last Harry Potter book yesterday. And, I won't even try to summarize it, so I don't spoil it for anyone. All I'll say is that I was satisfied with the ending.

I'm moving on to other books now, and picking up where I left off in books I set aside for Harry.

The nicest part about being a librarian, and one of the fun parts of this blog, is the chance to talk about books. Over the weekend, I had someone email me, tell me what she liked in the way of mysteries, and ask for some additional suggestions. After I finished Harry, I emailed her back with a list of five authors she might like, and told her to get back to me after she read some, and tell me what she thought. I loved her response.

"I absolutely feel like a young girl on Christmas morning looking at a stack of presents. I'm checking the library web-site ASAP! Perhaps only another reader truly understands the joy of finding new books to read and new authors to get to know."

If you're reading this blog, you probably do understand the joy of new authors, new books, and that feeling of joy.

My wish for you today? That feeling of discovery that every book, not just Harry Potter, gives to those of us who love reading.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Harry Potter Interruption

We had a Harry Potter party at the library Friday night, and had 144 in attendance. I was in bed by 1:30 am.

My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows arrived at 6 pm last night. Now, I'm ready to spend the day with Harry.

(Loved the box it arrived in from Amazon. I saved the box.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Alafair Burke at The Poisoned Pen

Alafair Burke, author of the recent book, Dead Connection, and the Samantha Kincaid series, appeared at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale today. She and Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore, started out by discussing the fact that they, along with authors Michelle Martinez, Twist Phelan and Tess Gerritsen, all went to Stanford Law School.

Alafair said she worked in the D.A.'s office in Portland, Oregon for five years, which was considered a long time for someone who wanted to teach. She decided since she was an avid reader of mysteries and knew cops, she would try to write a mystery. So, when she moved to New York City and was supposed to be studying for the New York bar, she bought a computer and took golf lessons. She also passed the bar that summer.

She said now that she had written the book, Dead Connection, she can tell people that she met her husband, Sean, online at Match.com. She said she decided to write a crime novel involving online dating, but it didn't work in the Portland setting of her Samantha Kincaid books because Portland is a small community where everyone knows each other, or knows someone who does. So, she created a new character, Detective Ellie Hatcher, and set Dead Connection in NYC.
She said the internet provides the opportunity for true anonymity, a premise she discusses in the book. She said just as we teach our children to be smart with strangers, people must develop internet smarts. Dead Connection was intended to be a standalone, but when she reached the end, she realized she had the start of a second series. Now, she'll have two series, the Samantha Kincaid one, and the Ellie Hatcher.

In providing more of her background, Alafair said when she was in Portland, she was involved in one of the first known cases of online child abduction. She used some of that in the first Samantha Kincaid book, Judgment Calls. A girl, thirteen-years-old, met a thirty-five-year old online, and when she went to meet him, he abducted her. She then proceeded to lie to everyone afterward as to how he first contacted her. Although she didn't use the online part, she did use the part about the lies in her first book.

When asked about online dating, Alafair said she had just moved to New York City, and didn't think she was going to meet the kind of person she wanted to meet at the university where she was teaching, Hofstra. When she told her brother she had met someone from West Point, with an MBA, who worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, her brother said is was probably all lies. Fortunately, the man who is now her husband had told the truth.

Alafair Burke's father is author James Lee Burke. Barbara Peters said to her that it must be hard to have her father in the family. The audience laughed when Alafair said, "I don't know how not to have him in the family." Barbara said, wasn't it difficult to become a writer knowing his reputation. And, Alafair said, no, because they came at it from different backgrounds. He was a poet, and more literary, and found himself to be successful in the mystery genre. She, on the other hand, said she was a fan of the genre, and believes in plotting much more than he does. She never thought about the fact that she was going into the same genre until the bio for her first book said, "Daughter of James Lee Burke." Then she worried that people would expect her to write like her father. And, she doesn't.

She said her father is proud of her. Now that he is no longer touring, he calls her to ask about her tour and people he knows throughout the country.

When asked about outlining, she said she does outline. She said she was writing her first book, and her father told her to just write it, because he doesn't plot or outline. She said she couldn't figure out how to end it, and she had written 250 pages. She was at a house party, and Michael Connelly said he understood she was writing a book. She said she idolized Michael Connelly, and she was embarrassed to tell him she had 250 pages, but didn't know how to end it. He asked her if she knew who did it, and how they did it. When she said, yes, he said, do you have an outline. And, she said, no, her father told her just to write it. And, Connelly laughed at her and said her father was a famous author with a good number of books, and didn't have to outline. But she was a beginner, and Connelly had only written half the books her father had, and he outlined. Then he called Jonathon King over, and told him the story. "She has 250 pages, knows who did it, knows how they did it, but doesn't have an ending." So, he told her to go back, do an outline, and she'd find her ending somewhere in the story. He told her she was so close. So, she still does a bare outline.

Alafair said one of the nicest surprises was finding out how much the very established writers do for other authors. They take time to mentor them. She said Michael Connelly toured with Jonathon King to introduce him, and last year Lee Child toured with Cornelia Read. She said Connelly and Child are known for mentoring writers and blurbing them. In fact, she mentioned that in Child's latest book, Bad Luck & Trouble, the opening includes Jack Reacher meeting a lawyer named Samantha in a cop bar, and spending two nights with her before leaving for his job.

When her father was mentioned again, she aid that in Dead Connection, Ellie Hatcher has to call New Iberia, LA and talk to a detective named Dave something that she can't pronounce his last name, so it was a way of mentioning her father's character.

She said she's working on another Ellie Hatcher book, and she has a fantasy of Samantha and Ellie together in one. She said Samantha may have to move to New York because Alafair has been gone long enough that she has a hard time writing about Portland anymore. She's turned into a New Yorker, and New York has spoiled her.

Afterward, Alafair signed books, and was gracious in introducing herself to everyone, "I'm Alafair Burke." She thought she'd recognized me, although we'd never met. So, I told her she had written to me on my blog, and had probably seen my picture there. The autograph in my ARC of Dead Connection says, "Lesa, Nice to meet you in person. Alafair Burke."

And, for those of you who enter my contests, next Thursday I'll be offering an autographed paperback of Alafair Burke's first Samantha Kincaid crime novel, Judgment Calls.

Alafair Burke's website is www.alafairburke.com

Addendum: Janet Reid said I could quote her comment on DorothyL, written after she read this summary. I loved her comment.

"See, this is what happens when characters sleep with Jack Reacher.
Next thing you know, your author has a new series and Jack Reacher is off
dealing with Bad Luck and Trouble.

Poor Samantha Kincaid!"

Janet Reid

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fingerprints and Facelifts

Think "Charlie's Angels" on estrogen. If you're looking for a fun, enjoyable romp, check out Rick Copp's first L.A. Dolls mystery. It won't be lasting literature because it's too "today", but it's an entertaining, campy book.

Twenty-five years ago, Dani, Claire and Tess were hot detectives, the L.A. Dolls. Dani, a Latina, was the leader of the agency. Tess, a redhead, was the wild, sexy, free spirit. Claire was the blonde, elegant one. Their last case, before they closed down because of personal disagreements, was one in which they put away Benito Coronel, an international drug smuggler.

Now, in their fifties, Dani is the Assistant Chief of Police in San Francisco, with a son who is a detective in Miami. Tess, who married a billionaire, is a widowed socialite, with a gorgeous stepdaughter, Bianca, that she dotes on. And Claire is happily married to a pilot, and has two grown sons. Suddenly their worlds come crashing down, when Claire's son is assaulted on the eve of his wedding, someone shoots at Dani's son, and Bianca is almost kidnapped.

Despite their differences, the L.A. Dolls reunite to protect their children. Despite their age, they plunge headfirst into the case, one crisis after another, including Claire's marriage. But, if someone is targeting their children, the three hot mamas will track them down.

Copp's experience in film and television is evident in this entertaining book. Celebrities are an added feature, a part of Tess' social world, from Anderson Cooper to Steve Wynn, which adds to the fun. If you're looking for a diverting, light book, check out Fingerprints and Facelifts.

Rick Copp's website is www.rickcopp.com

Fingerprints and Facelifts by Rick Copp. Kensington Books, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-7682-0962-7 (hardback), 280p.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A "Something Other Than Harry Potter" Contest

Congratulations to the winners of last week's contests. Evelyn W. of Brunswick, GA will be getting a copy of Marjorie Hart's Summer at Tiffany, as will Annette T. of Albion, IL. Mitchell Graham's Majestic Descending will be going to Eileen B. of Townsend, MA. All of the books will be sent out tomorrow.

Just in case you need something to read other than the last Harry Potter book, I'm giving away two mysteries this week. The first book is an autographed copy of Julia Pomeroy's The Dark End of Town, the first in her Abby Silvernale series. I reviewed that here on July 6th, at http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2007/07/dark-end-of-town.html. Or, you could win the ARC of Deadly Advice by Roberta Isleib. Deadly Advice was reviewed on April 8th at http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2007/04/deadly-advice.html.

If you'd like to win any of these books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, July 26th. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Friday. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Way Down Dead in Dixie

The cousins who write under the name Caroline Cousins bring back their fun, witty characters in their third mystery, Way Down Dead in Dixie. Anyone who enjoyed Anne George's Southern Sisters might want to check out these southern women.

Cousins sets the perfect atmosphere for a steamy, island mystery with the opening sentence, "On the hottest night of the year, the three met in the graveyard for the last time." Perfect beginning for a mystery set on Indigo Island, part of the South Carolina Low Country. It's the perfect beginning for a mystery featuring those three eccentric women, Lindsey Fox and her cousins Margaret Ann (Mam) and Bonnie. Lindsey has returned home to Indigo, where she acts as manager for Pinckney Plantation, and dates a deputy. She also gets into scrapes with her cousins.

Only Lindsey and her cousins could fall over a cemetery fence and land on a body buried on the wrong side. The high school ring indicates the body belongs to a teenager thought to have died in Hurricane Camille. Why is she still on Indigo? What secrets does her diary reveal? And, who is burglarizing houses on the island? Once again, southern family connections are key to the mysteries on Indigo, and it takes three women who understand those connections to find the solution.

Cousins' mysteries are always fun, with mysteries deeply set into the past and family connections. And Lindsey, Mam, and Bonnie's conversations are outrageous and funny. The authors definitely understand the deep, warm relationship between women who are close and share a past history. Anyone looking for warm, witty mysteries with eccentric southern characters won't go wrong with Caroline Cousins' books.

Caroline Cousins' website is www.carolinecousins.net

Way Down Dead in Dixie by Caroline Cousins. John F. Blair Publisher, ©2007, ISBN 978-0-89587-336-1 (paperback), 175p.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mouse Guard Fall 1152

Mouse Guard is David Petersen's debut graphic novel, and it's successful as a beautifully illustrated story, and as an adventure tale.

It's the story of a community of mice, who should be living in peace following their problems with a weasel warlord in 1149. By 1152, the Mouse Guards, who had been formed to help the mice survive the harsh conditions and predators, are acting as escorts, pathfinders and scouts to help mice find safeways from village to village.

However, when a grain merchant goes missing, three Guards, Lieam, Kenzie and Saxon are sent out. They face natural enemies such as snakes and crabs, but, even worse, they discover a traitor. Their attempts to infiltrate a village are thwarted, and, helpless, two are left to die while one is forced to accompany an army of mice bent on invading Lockhaven, the home of the Mouse Guard. It's only when the legend of the Black Axe proves to be reality, and a legendary mouse steps forward that the scales are balanced.

Peterson has written and illustrated a story of heroism. The graphics are gorgeous in the details of nature. The mice are valient in knowing their duties to other mice. My only complaint is one I had about the Babar books. The Epilogue of this book is written in cursive, and it's difficult to read with the small type and colored illustrations. But, I'll be waiting for Mouse Guard Winter 1152.

David Petersen's website is www.davidpetersen.net

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen. Archaia Studies Press, ©2007, ISBN 978-1-932386-57-2 (hardback), 192p.

The Brimstone Journals

Ron Koertge's teen novel is the story of fifteen students from the class of 2001 at Branston High School who tell a fascinating story through their poems, written so they appear to be journal entries.

Each student writes five poems, and they're interspersed throughout the book. The Jock, the Girlfriend, the Class Slut, the Angry Black Student, the Boy who is Bullied. Each student represents a stereotype, but in just five short poems they overcome that stereotype to become people. In the school that the students refer to as Brimstone, a reference to the end of the world, some of the students are angry enough at their lives and their classmates to think of violence.

As the students tell their stories, each one has a small piece of the puzzle that comes together. The expected violence does not come as a surprise. The students who speak up just might surprise readers.

In a small book of just 113 pages, Koertge has given voice to the anger and frustration pent up in so many young people. It's a effective way of creating a story and a message, so effective that it has won numerous awards. Koertge's students speak out in loud voices that demand to be heard.

The Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge. Candlewick Press, ©2001, ISBN 0-7636-1742-3 (paperback), 113p.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Messenger of Truth

The fourth Maisie Dobbs mystery by Jacqueline Winspear is a powerful story about England between the two world wars, and the power of art to "touch the truth."

I hadn't read previous Maisie Dobbs books, but I will now. Maisie was a nurse during World War I, and she suffered from shell shock, and had a breakdown. By the time of this book, in 1930, she is a psychologist and private investigator, in her early thirties, and never married.

Georgina Bassington-Hope, a wealthy young woman who made her name as a journalist during the war, consults Maisie after a referral from the college they both attended, and the approval of Scotland Yard. Georgina's brother Nick was an artist who fell to his death from a scaffolding while preparing for an exhibition. Georgina, his twin, wants to know if it was more than accidental death. For Nick had a special gift. His works haunted viewers, and some of them were not happy with what they saw.

Maisie has special skills. She "asks questions that others fail to ask and sees things that others are blind to." Her own background, losing her mother at a young age, nursing during the war, and her breakdown, have given her a sensitivity to others. She's from a working-class family, and she sympathizes with her assistant, Billy Beale, when he tells about his sister-in-law's family moving in with his family. And, she's angry when he doesn't have the money to take his children for medical treatment when they suffer from diphtheria. Maisie sees the London of the 1930s through working-class eyes. There's a need for a "war against poverty, against disease and against injustice."

Her feelings lead her to understand Nick, a "man of an artistic sensibility who had been drafted by the government to do do its dirty work, and afterward..left feeling sick about it for years." Maisie observes his family of well-to-do artists, and the one family member who seems out of place. She feels torn between their comfortable life, and the new life of an independent woman offered by the years after the war.

Messenger of Truth is a mystery. Was Nick Bassington-Hope murdered, and, if so, why? What was his brother Harry mixed up in, and why were the police interested in Harry? At the same time, it's a powerful story of post-war England, and the problems of the working class, as seen through the eyes of a thoughtful, independent woman.

Winspear's Maisie Dobbs is a fascinating woman, an intriguing character to follow in a series. Jacqueline Winspear's Messenger of Truth is a wonderful story, a thoughtful look at difficult years in the world. Just as Nick's work haunted viewers, the story and its truths will haunt the reader. Winspear tells of England's past during the war, its troubled present during the late twenties and thirties, and hints of the terrible future to come, with her foreshadowing of the next war. This is a story that will not easily be forgotten.

Jacqueline Winspear's website is www.jacquelinewinspear.com

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear. Picador, ©2006, ISBN 978-0-312-42685-9 (paperback), 322p.

Personal Note: Winspear talks about Dungeness and the story of Dr. Syn, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. It's a story I remember fondly from, of all things, Disney, who brought the story to life in an enthralling movie. And, the opening music is wonderful, too. A google search for Dr. Syn will bring up articles about the vicar of Romney Marsh, the story, and even a site with the music.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

For Cozy Mystery Readers

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, you might enjoy two of the sites I link to here, Cozy Library, and Cozy-Mystery.

Diana's site, The Cozy Library, is the perfect place to curl up with a cup of tea and learn about cozy books. You can get to know your favorite cozy authors at this site that links to authors' websites and blogs. It has book reviews and listings of holiday books. Diana also links to contests, including the weekly contests I run here. Don't forget to sign up for Cozy Times, an excellent newsletter.

Cozy-Mystery, Danna's site, is "A Guide to Cozy Mystery (and Other Favorite) Books and DVDs". Here you can find an alphebetical list of authors, with Danna's comments. She also discusses TV shows, many based on cozy mysteries. Check out her blog as well.

If you're a cozy mystery reader, there's a wealth of material for you, just on these two sites.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dead Connection

Alafair Burke departs from her Samantha Kincaid series to tell the story of Detective Ellie Hatcher, a NYPD cop, in Dead Connection.

Ellie has a past. She watched her father obsess over a serial killer case in Wichita, KS. When he was found shot in his car, the police department proclaimed it a suicide, while Ellie was convinced he was killed by the man he was tracking. When the family couldn't convince the police department otherwise, she followed her brother to New York, and then studied and joined the police force. However, she remained convinced her father was murdered, and used the solution of a case to highlight her father.

That story interested Flann McIllroy, a homicide detective who worked with hunches. He asked Ellie to be his partner as they investigate an online dating service, FirstDate. He has the feeling that the murder of two women might be linked to FirstDate. When Ellie signs up for the service, she realizes women aren't as anonymous and safe as they think. "Anonymity. Safety. Privacy. It all sounded good. Unless, of course, a killer used the anonymity to ensure safety and privacy from the police."

The FBI. The Russian mob. Crooked cops. Computer hackers. Online dating. No one seems to be on the up-and-up in a muddled case. Even Ellie and Flann don't fully trust each other in this fast-paced investigation.

Burke has created two original characters in Ellie and Flann "McIl-Mulder." Ellie has some of her father's obsession with cases, and she won't let go, whether it's a family case or the recent one that seems to involve a serial killer. She's a caretaker, who tries to take care of her widowed mother, her reckless brother, and even her partner. She's naive when it comes to men, but she has outstanding instincts when it comes to police work. Flann is a modern cop, who doesn't always trust other cops, and plays by his own rules and his hunches. He manipulates the media for his benefit, and Ellie's afraid he's a "pseudocelebrity law enforcement stud."

Dead Connection is so complicated and moves so fast that it's hard to believe the entire investigation took just over a week. Burke's police procedural is an intriguing story, with fascinating, complicated characters. Ellie, the victims and the readers might want to rethink "Anonymity. Safety. Privacy." And, despite the fact this looks like a standalone, I'd like to see Detective Ellie Hatcher return. She's the kind of dedicated, probing police detective that readers will enjoy.

Alafair Burke's website is www.alafairburke.com

Dead Connection by Alafair Burke. Henry Holt and Company, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-8050-7785-8 (hardcover), 336p.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sequestered Nooks?

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books." -

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ah, sequestered nooks. This brings back memories of all those wonderful places to read in summertime.

I have a memory of a favorite place that I only had for two weeks, but it was so special that years later it's still special. One summer, my parents moved us into town for two weeks, while they house sat and babysat for friends. We stayed at their house, just one block from the public library. It was a big old house, with a large screened-in porch, in north central Ohio. Each morning, I'd walk to the library when they opened up at 10 o'clock, and pick out a stack of books. Then, I'd walk back, and move to the porch for the rest of the day. There was a hammock on the porch, and I'd lay in the hammock and read. This description doesn't do justice at all to the pleasure of walking to the library every day, and then returning to a special, comfortable spot to read.

Do you have a "sequestered nook" somewhere in your summers?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Winners and the Next July Contests

Congratulations to the winners of the most recent contest for books. Saundra M. of Phoenix, AZ is the winner of Witch Hunt by Shirley Damsgaard. The winner of The Land of Mango Sunsets by Dorothea Benton Frank is Elizabeth G. from Huron, OH. The books will be going out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I was lucky enough to get an extra copy of Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. So, I have two copies to give away to lucky readers. You can check out my June review of Summer at Tiffany at http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2007/06/summer-at-tiffany.html.

I also have an ARC of Mitchell Graham's first crime novel, Majestic Descending. The review of this enjoyable book is at http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2007/07/majestic-descending.html.

If you'd like to win any of these books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, July 19th. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Friday. Good luck!

Rockin' Girls' Blogs

Thanks to Kay at My Random Acts of Reading, who named me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger, one of the bloggers that she enjoys reading. The feeling is mutual. If you haven't checked out her blog, it's worth it for the quotes about reading and books alone, let alone the interesting book reviews.

Who would I tag? There are four other women whose blogs I read regularly, and their links all appear on this site.

Start with Shannon, author of The Hook, Line and Stinker. Shannon has a passion for first lines, and she uses them effectively in writing about the books she's read. She's caught me more than once with the lines she's selected.

Julia Buckley is a mystery writer whose blog is called, Mysterious Musings. She has a little different slant to her blog than some of the rest of us. She writes about "How a Mystery Writer views the world." Her interviews with other mystery writers are not to be missed.

I wouldn't miss Stacy's BookBitchBlog. Stacy keeps up-to-date with the news in the book world. She's also partly to blame for what I do here because I've been doing book reviews for Stacy's website longer than I've been blogging.

And, if I mention a good friend, she might update her blog. I miss Ann's writing at Geek of the Week. She writes beautifully, and is great at poking fun at all of us who take our jobs too seriously at times.

Thank you, ladies. I haven't met all of you, but your blogs are special to me. Check them out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

E.B. White

Today would have been the birthday of Elwyn Brooks White, better known to millions of readers as E.B. White. Born July 11, 1899, White was a leading American essayist, author, humorist, poet and literary stylist. To writers and journalists, he may be best known for his writers' style guide, The Elements of Style. To those of us who love children's books, he's known as the author of Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan.

Charlotte's Web is a book that I cried over. And, I saw both versions of the movie and cried over them. My youngest sister, who is now in her forties, still remembers when I took her to see the earliest version, and embarrassed her by sitting there and crying. Fortunately for her, I went to see the most recent version with my husband, who tolerates me when I cry over movies, sappy commercials and good books.

Thank you, E.B. White, for Charlotte's Web, from one contented reader.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Family Secrets

I expected Judith Henry Wall's latest book, Family Secrets, to be typical women's fiction. I didn't expect the suspenseful angle she threw in, and, to be honest, it didn't work for me.

Vanessa, Ellie and Georgianna Wentworth were still mourning their father a year after his death, so it came as a shock when their mother said she was moving to France. Even though they were adults, they viewed her as the center of the family. Vanessa, the oldest, was particularly angry, saying she didn't expect her mother to "abdicate the throne of motherhood."

Their mother did leave them a letter about their father, though, a letter indicating his mother had given him up when he was a baby. The three women flew to Montana to look for answers. Although they were looking for answers to their father's birth, they were actually looking for answers to their own lives. Vanessa was looking for some satisfaction in life, after losing her beloved father, and a marriage that slipped away. Elli was desperately looking for a man to have a baby with. And, Georgianna, realizing that she was aging out of her career as a model, was looking for a new career. Perhaps finding their father's beginnings would be a new beginning for them.

Only one woman stood in their way, the woman who had originally given their father up, a woman with a great deal to lose.

My problems with the book? The sisters weren't particularly likable. I found Vanessa petulant and selfish, and she was the strongest of the three sisters, and the character who was the best developed. And, the story about their grandmother and her past was unlikely. Her solution to their search was even more out of place. It felt as if Wall started out to write women's fiction, thought she'd throw in some suspense, and the two elements didn't work well together in this book. Family Secrets would have worked better without the outlandish actions needed for a cover-up. A cover-up doesn't work in politics, and it didn't work in Family Secrets.

Judith Henry Wall's website is www.judithhenrywall.com

Family Secrets by Judith Henry Wall. Simon & Schuster, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-7432-9705-9 (paperback), 297p.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Within the last week, readers have lost three of our well-known authors.

Fred T. Saberhagen died on June 29th. He was a science fiction and fantasy writer best known for his "Berserker" series about intelligent machines out to destroy the human race, but I knew him better for his "Swords" and "Lost Swords" stories. He began publishing in the 1960s and wrote 60 novels and several collections.

Lois Wyse died July 6 at the age of 80. Perhaps she's best known for a phrase she coined while working at the ad agency she owned with her husband, Wyse Advertising Agency. She came up with the phrase, "With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good." I fondly remember the column she did for years for Good Housekeeping, "The Way We Are." It was my favorite part of the magazine. She wrote fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children's stories, but her first bestseller was her 47th book, Funny, You Don't Look Like a Grandmother, published in 1989.

The most recent loss was romance author Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, who died Saturday. She is credited with inventing the modern historical romance novel when she published The Flame in the Flower in 1972. It featured such devices that have now become standard in the genre, such as historical background and flashy sex scenes, but at the time of publication, they were new. So many romance authors owe a great deal to Woodiwiss.

Even if you don't know their names, readers have lost some of their authors this week, and that's always sad.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

First Drop

Zoё Sharp grabs hold of the reader's throat in the first sentence of the Charlie Fox debut thriller (U.S.), and never lets go. I was caught with the opening sentence, "For the third time that morning I shut my eyes tight in the absolute and certain knowledge that I was just about to die." Sharp, and Charlie, surprise the reader from page one, and continue the suspense and surprise throughout this gripping book.

Charlie Fox is a British ex-army bodyguard, loyal and protective to a fault. She accompanies Sean Mayer, owner of an exclusive close-protection agency, to Florida to protect a software developer and his teenage son. Charlie views Trey Pelzner as just a spoiled, bratty kid, but he's her responsibility. When she and Trey are shot at while at an amusement park, and bystanders are shot, she knows she's in deep trouble. When she and Trey return to his house, only to find the whole household, including Sean, have disappeared, she knows they're in worse trouble than she thought. How do you deal with unknown gunmen, crooked cops, and the disappearance of your mentor? Who do you trust in a foreign country, when it's you and a fifteen-year-old against the world?

First Drop starts with a breathless feeling, and never lets up. As Charlie and Trey attempt to escape from unknown danger, they must continue to hide, steal a motorbike, shoot it out with dangerous strangers. When they find themselves on the news, Charlie realize they're endangering the few people willing to help them. Charlie never knows from what direction the danger might come. She only knows she must protect Trey, at any cost. From the first to last page, Sharp makes Charlie deal with twists and turns of fate.

Sharp's descriptions of spring break in Daytona, and the dangers of the Everglades are perfect. She creates a believable environment for Charlie, and makes Charlie Fox come to life. Gradually, she reveals Charlie's past and her motivation, her reasons for taking on a bodyguard job, and the ensuing responsibilities. Charlie Fox is a tough, kick-ass woman with the motivation to protect the defenseless.

Lee Child is quoted on the cover of First Drop, and appropriately so. Charlie Fox is cut from the same cloth as Child's Jack Reacher. She'll always put herself out there to protect her charge, even if she has to kill to do it.

Note of Interest: The second of Zoё Sharp's Charlie Fox thrillers to be published in the U.S., Second Shot, is due out in September, and Sharp plans a whirlwind tour of the U.S. to promote the book. Hopefully, she'll be appearing at one of the Glendale Libraries that month, so if you're in the Glendale, AZ and Phoenix area, watch this blog. I'll post the details when arrangements have been made.

Zoё Sharp's website is www.zoesharp.com

First Drop by Zoё Sharp. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2004, ISBN 978-0-312-34169-5 (hardcover), 296p.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Librarians are Hipper than You Think

Fun article in the Fashion & Style Section of the New York Times, believe it or not. The article's called, "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers."

Here's the link.


Friday, July 06, 2007

The Dark End of Town

The back flap of Julia Pomeroy's debut mystery says it "combines the suspense and intrigue of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series." I don't think so. Pomeroy has created her own community and character in The Dark End of Town, and I really see no similarity between the two.

Abby Silvernale is thirty-two, a widow with no children and no career, living in an old ugly trailer in Bantam, New York, and working in a dead-end job as a waitress. She's not going anywhere, and neither is her life in the bleak, dead-end town. Her husband committed suicide a few years earlier, and she can't get far enough past his death to even live in the farmhouse on her property. Instead, she rents it out and lives in the dilapidated trailer.

It doesn't look like Abby has anything going for her, but she is loyal to her friends, and she is independent. When Dulcie, her friend and the owner of the InnBetween restaurant, calls her and says someone is borrowing her car at night, Abby sits out in the grass and watches until she catches a young woman returning the car one night, locking it up and leaving. This one little incident, Abby's curiosity, and the urge to help a confused teenage boy, propel Abby into the muddle of murder, theft and violence.

Don't let the back flap of this book confuse you. Abby isn't Kinsey Millhone. Bantam isn't a "resort town" as I think of it, and Dulcie's restaurant doesn't come across as "trendy." Instead, this is a dark story of a woman leading a dead-end life in a community that is so depressed that the weekenders had to rescue the local hospital before it closed.

Pomeroy's characters are vividly portrayed, reflective of their background. Even the wealthy weekenders in Bantam seem desperate. Abby Silvernale embodies all of that loneliness and desperation, but she finds the strength to rise above it. When Pomeroy brings Abby back in the sequel, Cold Moon Home, I'll be eager to see her meet the next challenges head on. Abby will be up to the test.

Julia Pomeroy's website is www.juliapomeroy.com

The Dark End of Town by Julia Pomeroy. Carroll & Graf Publishers, ©2006. ISBN 978-0-78671-720-0 (paperback), 277p.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Something Different in the Latest Contest

Congratulations to Vic W. in Fargo, ND, the winner of the ARC of Cat in a Red Hot Rage by Carole Nelson Douglas. Shannon J. in Iowa won the copy of Selma Eichler's Murder Can Depress Your Dachshund. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

I'm offering something different this week in the contest. I still have one mystery, but I'm also giving away a novel.

Witch Hunt is the latest Abby and Ophelia mystery by Shirley Damsgaard. Once again, it features small-town librarian and witch, Ophelia Jensen. This time, she's worried about bikers in her hometown.

The Land of Mango Sunsets is Dorothea Benton Frank's latest novel. It's the story of Miriam Swanson, a bitter divorcee who turns her life around after a visit to her mother on Sullivans Island in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I have a hardcover of this recent book to offer to one lucky winner.

If you'd like to win one of these two books, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end at 6 pm Pacific Time next Thursday, July 12th. Jim will draw the winners, and the books will go out in the mail on Friday. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Best of Friends: Two Women, Two Continents, and One Enduring Friendship

This is a beautiful book to recommend to your sisters, your friends, and the people you've shared life with. Authors Sara James and Ginger Mauney have written a moving story of a friendship that has covered over thirty years. It's a book to share.

James called their friendship, "Lives entirely opposite. Lives uncannily similar. Separated by thousands of miles, yet woven together by time and temperament, by circumstances and serendipity." Sara and Ginger have known each other since they were twelve, and their friendship deepened after a slumber party where Ginger revealed a family secret. Both had dreams of breaking away from their hometown in Virginia. Ginger made her first attempt by looking for love with a tennis player. Sara went searching for a good story since she wanted to become a journalist.

Over the years, they found themselves losing their identities, chasing their dreams. Ginger went to Africa in 1987, dreaming of becoming a filmmaker, a wildlife photographer. She found the beauty and enchantment, romance and sorrow of Africa. Sara, who had dreams of working for the NBC network in New York, slowly worked her way up, sacrificing her personal life in the process.

James' life has included Virginia, New York City, Desert Shield, Somalia, Australia, family and close friends. Mauney's life went from Virginia to the professional tennis circuit to Namibia in Africa. But, no matter what, the two were always there for each other, for each personal crisis and triumph. The Best of Friends is a powerful book of shared friendship and love.

Personal note: James and Mauney include an acknowledgment to their editor, Jennifer Pooley, and I wanted to extend my own thanks. When I posted a picture of Sara James and Ginger Mauney, along with Marjorie Hart, author of Summer at Tiffany, Jennifer wrote to say thank you since she was the editor of both books. We had never corresponded, but she said thank you for using her books at my brown bag luncheons for librarians because she said, "That means the world to me that you’ve been using it for book talks with librarians (the most powerful women in America bar none as far as I’m concerned)." Thanks to Jennifer, for two enjoyable books, but, most of all sharing her feelings about librarians. She's one more person who was willing to share her stories about her childhood love of libraries and books. As a librarian, I can't say how much I appreciated her comments.

The website for this book is www.thebestoffriendsbook.com

The Best of Friends: Two Women, Two Continents, and One Enduring Friendship by Sara James and Ginger Mauney. William Morrow, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-06-077948-1 (hardcover), 333p.

The Declaraton of Independence

Today, on the 4th of July, it's only appropriate that I publish the Declaration of Independence here. One of my favorite things to do on the 4th of July is to listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence on NPR Radio. I just missed it this morning, but fortunately, they've published it on the website, and you can actually listen to their commentators read it. It's the best way to experience it, listening to those beautiful words read by those unique voices. Here's the link if you'd like to listen. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11703583

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,

and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.

A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.

We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;

and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Two hundred thirty-one years ago today, the Continental Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Majestic Descending

I understand that the author, Mitchell Graham, recently switched from fantasy to this first attempt at a thriller. With Majestic Descending, he definitely made a successful switch. Graham does an outstanding job developing characters the reader grows to care about, and places them in a situation that sounds all too plausible in today's world.

Katherine Adams is an Atlanta attorney whose life since she was in college has been in turmoil. She was the lone survivor of a serial killer, and it continues to haunt her. That crisis may have been one of the reasons for her tumultuous divorce. She's now a lawyer in private practice who handles domestic relations cases. And, she's ready for a vacation when her best friend, Beth Doliver asks her to go on a cruise.

Professor Ellis Stephens is also on the Ocean Majestic cruise ship. He's just made a medical breakthrough that will have companies begging for his work. The Dean of his Department at Columbia encouraged him to take the trip after his discovery.

One other person on the cruise is John Delaney, a lawyer who is a former cop, and a professor at John Jay College.

These four people come together at dinner on the cruise ship, and Katherine is immediately attracted to Delaney. They're just starting to get to know each other, when explosions rock the ship, and passengers and crew are forced to abandon ship. But, Katherine went looking for Professor Stephens and found him shot dead in his cabin. It's only in the lifeboat that she recognizes the man she saw arguing with Stephens.

When Katherine and Delaney turn their information over to authorities, they think they're done with the disaster. However, it's not long before Katherine becomes a target, and neither of them understand why. Delaney says, "It's not enough a guy at our table gets murdered, we nearly burn to death on a cruise ship, and miss drowning by the skin of our teeth, now a phantom shows up and tries to kill you."

Graham created interesting characters and a thrilling plot. Majestic Descending also includes compelling trial scenes. Explosions, murder, court trials and a little romance. What more does a reader want?

Mitchell Graham's website is www.mitchellgraham.net

Majestic Descending by Mitchell Graham. Forge Books, ©2007. ISBN 978-0-765-31812-1 (hardcover), 352p.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Best of Friends

I just had to include this posting from today's online PW Daily since I'm reading the book, Best of Friends, and I already read Summer at Tiffany. I thought readers might like to see all of the authors.

"Warwick's Hosts 'Best of Friends'
On Thursday June 28 Warwick's of La Jolla held a happy hour to honor the authors of Best of Friends, Sara James (l.) and Ginger Mauney (r.). The two are joined here by Summer at Tiffany author, Marjorie Hart."

Armed and Dangerous

William Queen's story, subtitled, "The Hunt for One of America's Most Wanted Criminals," tells of Queen's obsession with tracking and capturing Mark Stephens, known as "mountain man" to the California communities from Pomona to San Bernardino. Queen, in his third year as a Special Agent with the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, kept stumbling across stories about Stephens, and soon, his interest in the stories became a compulsion to capture him.

Queen himself was a lone wolf who loved to go undercover, putting his life on the line. He thought his place was on the streets, and in the trenches. He had been in law enforcement for over a decade. He was an ex-Green Beret, Special Forces in Vietnam. He was raised a southern country boy, son of an agent who tracked moonshiners, and he started to take it personal that Stephens couldn't be caught.

Stephens was a dangerous, gun-crazy renegade who terrorized Southern California, and even threatened his own parents. He was a gunman, a mountain man, and a drug trafficker who grew marijuana on federal land in the San Bernardino Mountains. He had eluded all law enforcement agents.

And, then Queen took an interest in Mark Stephens. William Queen's story of building a case against Stephens, and tracking him into the mountains is a compelling story of one lone wolf tracking another one. Queen reveals the bureaucracy and drudgery involved in building a case, but he also pulls no punches about the danger, and, for him, the excitement of the challenge.

Armed and Dangerous could be the story of Mark Stephens, but it could also be the description of William Queen, a determined law enforcement agent, resentful of the man who was holding a county hostage. It's a riveting story for any true crime collection.

Armed and Dangerous: The Hunt for One of America's Most Wanted Criminals by William Queen and Douglas Century. Random House, ©2007. ISBN 978-1-4000-6577-4 (hardcover), 224p.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

August Treasures in My Closet

Since I said there weren't many prospective bestsellers for August, I promised there might be something better in my closet. These titles are all scheduled for August publication. I hope there's something here to entice you!

The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter by Mary Ellen Dennis - Mary Jo Putney called this book, "an old-fashioned romantic adventure." She said it's "a swift and bawdy tale that skillfully blends the classic poem The Highwayman with elements of historical romance and the Gothic novel." Rand Remington, a survivor of the American Wars, is now a highwayman in 18th century England. Then he meets Bess, the landlord's black-eyed daughter. Romance and betrayal are in their past. Is it in their future?

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer - The authors of the successful Don't Look Down return with another fun romantic thriller. Combine a food writer and a hitman, and you have a recipe for trouble. Think a smarter Stephanie Plum with the sexy Ranger - explosives of more than one type.

The Genesis Code by Christopher Forrest - When a geneticist discovers a coded text hidden in human DNA, and is murdered, it's up to his protege and research assistant to uncover a global conspiracy that spans human history, following clues through the mysteries of the Maya and ancient Egypt, the secrets of Nostradamus, and modern science. The back of the ARC says, "Michael Crichton meets Dan Brown."

The Saturday Wife by Naomi Ragen - The story of a social-climbing Rabbi's wife who wants it all, but is faced by the demands of her husband's affluent congregation.

The Penguin Who Knew too Much by Donna Andrews - Bodies in basements and penguins in the backyard are nothing unexpected in the latest Meg Langslow mystery.