Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, July 2, 2015


July has rolled around and hopefully will be cooler than June was in North Carolina.  We've just returned from a fantastic trip to Boston where we ate, did the tourist thing and accompanied our daughter to a science and technology conference.  Not as much reading this past week while we were gone, but still books managed to make it in the door.  Here's what's come lately:

1.  Our Man In The Dark, Rashad Harrison, historical fiction, purchased
2.  Ingenious Pain, Andrew Miller, literary fiction, purchased
3.  Pure, Andrew Miller, literary fiction, purchased
4.  Jack Of Spades, Joyce Carol Oates, suspense, sent by publisher
5.  Forensics, Val McDermid, nonfiction, sent by publisher
6.  The Winter Family, Clifford Jackman, historical fiction, sent by publisher
7.  Old Man River, Paul Schneider, nonfiction, sent by publisher
8.  Where Women Are Kings, Christie Watson, literary fiction, sent by publisher
9.  The Tell-Tale Heart, Jill Dawson, literary fiction, sent by publisher
10.  The Painter, Peter Heller, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  The Dream Lover, Elizabeth Berg, literary fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Blood Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
7. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
8.  Mystery Walk, Robert McCammon, Kindle Fire
9.  Enchantress, James Maxwell, audio
10.  One Evil Act, Elizabeth George, hardback
11.  Meet Me In Atlantis, Mark Adams, paperback
12.  The Stranger, Harlen Corben, paperback
13.  Emma And Otto And Russell And James, Emma Hooper, paperback

 Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Enchantress by James Maxwell


Ella and Miro, siblings, grow up as orphans in Altura.  Their background is a mystery, as the old soldier who serves as their guardian refuses to talk about their parents or their past.  The pair are poor but ambitious.  Ella spends years saving for the tuition to go to the Academy for Enchantments, while Miro is slated to be a soldier, perhaps even a Bladesinger if he is skilled enough.

Life is hard, but they have friends and their chosen work.  As they get older, thoughts turn to love.  Ella's best friend, Amber, is attracted to Miro, while Ella's heart has been captured by a charming stranger, Killian. 

Then things get complicated.  The various houses, each with it's own magical skills and lexicon, fall out and start to form alliances.  Soon the Emperor has declared war against those houses against him, which includes Altura.  Even worse, there is a shadowy figure behind the Emperor whose magical knowledge and skills make even an emperor's power seem trivial.

Can the houses stand against the massive armies controlled by the Emperor?  Not only outnumbered, Altura's lexicon has been stolen which will render all their magic unusable.  Ella leaves to try to track down the lexicon and return it while Miro goes off to war.  Will the two be successful and will they be reunited at some point?

James Maxwell has started a terrific fantasy series, The Everman Saga.  The characters are interesting and soon adopted by the reader.  The obstacles seem overwhelming and the use of magic in everyday life is fascinating.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Etta And Otto And Russell And James by Emma Hooper


Otto gets up one morning to find a note on the kitchen table from his eighty-three year old wife, Etta.  She has decided to go see the ocean before it's too late.  She is leaving him the truck and walking.  The only issue Otto can see is that by his calculations it's over 3,200 kilometers to the ocean.

Etta walks every day and camps every night.  Otto doesn't pursue her although the neighbor, Russell, who is Otto's best friend, comes and tries to talk her into returning.  Instead Otto stays home, writes her letters as he did during the war, and plans what they will do when Etta returns.

The novel moves back and forth between stories of Etta and Otto's childhoods, how they met and how they ended up together.  Russell was always in Otto's life, and when Etta came into his life, in hers also.  Etta and Otto were separated by the war and the reader learns what this means through their letters to each other.

As Etta walks, she becomes famous for her drive and determination.  She is joined by a coyote she names James who is her only companion.  As she goes through towns and villages, people come up to her, wanting only to touch her or have her take their keepsake to the ocean.  She moves on, never stopping, never hesitating.

Emma Hooper has written a beautiful tribute to what it means to belong with another individual.  We each have a song to sing in our lives and when someone else chooses to sing along with us, we are comforted and made strong.  She explores the issues of delayed gratification, of hidden talents and of the search for one's life meaning.  This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.


The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood


It's a run-down apartment building in London, where the rent is paid in cash and there are no receipts.  Everyone there has a reason they are there instead of somewhere nicer.  Cher is a teenage girl who has run away from the state supervised system.  Hossein is a refuge who has come to London to escape those who took over his country.  Collette is running from her past and the boss she stole from.  Vesta is there because she has never lived anywhere else and has a rent-controlled apartment that provides her shelter as an elderly woman all alone in the world.  Thomas can't seem to form a real relationship with a woman. 

They all have secrets in common.  Secrets and a distaste for the landlord.  The landlord doesn't live in the building; it's not grand enough for him.  He charges what he wants and according to how desperate he thinks each tenant is.  He is an obese, overbearing man who creeps around and feels that he can come and go in any apartment regardless of occupancy. 

As the weeks go by, it becomes clear that something is wrong in the house.  There's a horrible smell and the building's deterioration is accelerated.  The tenents form a common support group to take on the landlord.  What will it take to defeat him?

Alex Marwood has written a novel that gives the reader the creeps as well as having them be thankful for whatever shelter they currently have.  Secrets are revealed, evil is fought and the group tries to make everything work out for the best.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Michael Jordan The Life by Roland Lazenby


MJ.  His Airness.  Jordan Air.  Michael Jordan is arguably, the best basketball player that has ever laced up his shoes.  Fans all have favorite memories; his game-winning basket for the national title at UNC, the flu game, the jams, the high scores.  He is one of the most easily identifiable individuals in the world as his fame spread past the courts to advertising and the movies.  But who is this man?

Roland Lazenby has written a memoir biography of Michael Jordan.  He takes the reader through his childhood and the family structure and issues.  Jordan's time at the University of North Carolina and his relationship with coach Dean Smith is covered in depth as the reader learns how Jordan improved his game.  His time with the Chicago Bulls led to a long run as world champions and the reader sees how the offense set up there was perfect for Jordan both to shine as an individual and as a teammate.  His relationship with his teammates and his coaches is covered in detail, both during the good years and as the team came apart through player-management issues.

But this is not just a tribute book.  Jordan's negative influences are also covered. The family issues and conflicts were a spur to Jordan.  His competitive drive also led to gambling.  Of course, few can forget the murder of his father and how that affected Jordan, leading to him leaving basketball for two years and trying to become a professional baseball player.  The fact that Jordan's intense competitive drive made him less than supportive of teammates that weren't as talented or who didn't work as hard.  Jordan was a master trash-talker and rode others mercilessly when they didn't measure up to his standards.

At the end of the book, the reader is left with a complete picture of this complicated man.  Leaders are honored and adored, but few really understand the drive it takes to be the best.  To spur others to achieve greatness, often leaders are less than kind and often even cruel, and that is also a part of leadership.  Jordan has great athletic talent, an incredible energy and drive for success, loyalty to those he trusts, and has given the world moments that will always be remembered.  At our core, we all want 'to be like Mike'.  This book is recommended for sports fans and those interested in reading about how one individual finds the drive to compete and excel, until they are the best in the world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, June 23, 2015


North Carolina is in a heat wave.  Today is the tenth day of temperatures over 95 and it's miserable with the humidity we also have.  I scurry out early to run any necessary errands and do the gym stuff, then hibernate for the rest of the day.  That's good for reading!  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  Casanova, Andrew Miller, historical fiction, purchased.
2.  Girl Of My Dreams, Peter Davis, historical fiction, sent by publisher
3.  All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, historical fiction, Paperbackswap
4.  Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
5.  Raven Black, Ann Cleeves, mystery, Paperbackswap
6.  Miss Emily, Nuala O'Connor, literary fiction, sent by publisher
7.  Ana Of California, Andi Teran, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  Broken Homes And Gardens, Rebecca Kelley, literary fiction, sent by publisher
9.  Summer Secrets, Jane Green, literary fiction, sent by publisher
10.  Ingenious Pain, Andrew Miller, literary fiction, purchased

I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Blood Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
7. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
8.  Mystery Walk, Robert McCammon, Kindle Fire
9.  Enchantress, James Maxwell, audio
10.  One Evil Act, Elizabeth George, hardback
11.  Meet Me In Atlantis, Mark Adams, paperback
12.  The Stranger, Harlen Corben, paperback
13.  Emma And Otto And Russell And James, Emma Hooper, paperback

 Happy Reading!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Crazy Love You by Lisa Unger


Fatboy and Priss is one of the top comics and a major moneymaker.  Fatboy is an unattractive boy whose life is a mess and for whom nothing goes right.  Priss is a gorgeous girl who is his lover and best friend and who makes everything turn out right.  What it's readers don't know is that the story is straight from the author's life. 

When Ian was growing up in a small rural town, he was the kid with no friends.  His family was the subject of whispers after his mother killed his baby sister in a postpartum depression and was sent to a hospital for life.  Ian was ostracized and ignored and in response, he overate.  This led to being fat and having major acne issues.  He was the outcast, the one no one spoke to. 

Until he met Priss.  She was a gorgeous little girl who Ian ran across in the woods behind his house.  Priss didn't seem to have any friends either and they became each other's best friends.  Priss gave Ian everything, friendship, acceptance and love.  The problem was that no one else could see Priss.  The other problem was that Priss didn't like it when Ian was hurt, and did things that then were blamed on Ian.  Things like hurting people and setting fires.

When Ian grows up, his artistic talent got him accepted at an art school in New York City.  There he found the friends he'd never had, and more importantly, financial success with his comic story.  He meets Megan, a wonderful girl who seems to love him more than life itself.  That's great, except for the problem with Priss.  How will she accept becoming less than Ian's Number One? 

Unger has written an engaging suspense novel that draws the reader in.  Ian is easy to relate to as he tells his story of exclusion and social rejection, as most people have felt those emotions at least a time or two.  Priss is unbelievable, or is she?  There is a question of whether she really exists, and if so, why she has latched onto Ian.  Will she make his life better or cost him everything?  This book is recommended for suspense readers. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush


They were a clique at college, a group of boys trying to learn how to become men.  They were self-indulgent and condescending but built real friendships that have lasted for decades.  There were women and marriages, children and political disagreements along the way but the group gave them their first self-explanation and has remained with them, echoing down the years.

Now their leader, Douglas, has been killed in an accident, and the group is called together to come to his memorial.  Douglas has become the most famous of the group although no one is sure exactly what he does.  There is talk of him authenticating documents.  Rumors say intelligence agencies all over the globe are interested in his work.  He also married one of the world's great beauties, a European woman named Ida.

The group comes together for a sad reunion.  We see the events through the eyes of Ned and Nina who have come from the West.  Ned spends his time organizing for peace while Nina's main occupation is getting pregnant and having Ned's baby.  She is determined to advocate for Ned and helps him see the world and his old friends through a prism of understanding and acceptance.

Norman Rush has written several highly-acclaimed novels, including Mortals and Mating.  His ability to write dialogue so that the reader gets the personality of the character speaking is renowned and that ability is found in this novel as well.  It takes the reader on an exploration of friendship and how it changes and morphs over the years.  What do we owe the friends of our youth who helped us become the people we are?  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Body Of Death by Elizabeth George


A young woman has been murdered in a cemetery in London.  Jemima Hastings was a real go-getter, a woman who had a home and a business in rural Hampshire.  Six months ago without a word to anyone, she left her long-time partner and her business and moved to London.  If Gordon, her partner, knows why, he's not saying.  Her brother, Rob, is not happy about it and less so when Jemima talks about finding a new man.  She is rarely without a man, and most of them no well near as good as she believes them to be.

Isabelle Ardery is also in new surroundings.  She has been brought up from a provincial district to try out as the next department chief at Scotland Yard.  Isabelle has sacrificed a lot for this chance and she doesn't mean to let it pass without success.  Her team is less than impressed.  Her management style is brusque and they don't yet respect her decisions.  In her turn, she believes the team lax and far too likely to strike out on their own than work as a unified team.

Isabelle sees the biggest problem as their loyalty to a man who is no longer there, Inspector Thomas Lynley.  He is still on compassionate leave after the death of his wife.  Determined to make a success of this gift she has been given, Isabelle talks Lynley into returning on a limited basis to help her catch Jemima's killer.  Will he be a help or will his presence and the team's continued loyalty to him be a distraction?

This is the sixteenth Inspector Lynley mystery.  He remains one of the great characters in mystery writing, an earl who becomes a London inspector and follows the strictures of Scotland Yard.  He is cool and reserved, yet fiercely loyal to those he lets into his world.  His relationship with his team is fascinating, and the introduction of a new character is interesting.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

Most of us have fears about driving and being on the highway.  Everyone agrees that drinking while intoxicated is dangerous and wrong and the incidence of drunk driving has fallen.  In 1982, drunk drivers caused at least 21,000 fatalities.  By 2010, that number had fallen to around 10,000; a 50% drop.  Today, another preventable occurrence is driving the fatality numbers.  It is use of cell phones while driving, and more importantly, texting while driving.  A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel explores this phenomena and the science that tells us that it is a bad idea.

In 2006, a nineteen year old male named Reggie Shaw was on his way to work.  It was drizzling.  He drifted over the center line, hitting an oncoming car, which then spun out and hit another truck.  Both the men in that car were killed instantly.  The author follows the Shaw case through the years as it made its way through the court and as the truth emerged; Reggie was texting his girlfriend and his attention was distracted.

The book alternates between the legal and personal stories of those involved in the accident, and the science of attention and distraction.  Several scientists have made it their life work to study the incidence of distracted driving and the events that cause the most distraction.  They have discovered that everyone has two types of attention; top-down and bottom-up.  Most events can be classified as one or the other, but our modern technology is both, which is why it is so difficult to avoid an action most people recognize as bad.  Overwhelmedly, surveys show people disapprove of using cell phones while driving, especially for texting.  Yet, most also admit that they are at least infrequent users.  This book attempts to reconcile this disparity and talk about solutions.

Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.  A Deadly Wandering has been chosen as A Best Book Of The Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, Kirkus Reviews and the Winnipeg Free Press.  It is an important book that all drivers should read and is especially relevant for parents of young drivers.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, June 11, 2014


Summer is here, along with lots of heat which makes for long reading days.  We're in the throes of hopefully the final SAT and then ACT this weekend and my daughter is already reading books for her senior English class.  I'm about to explore the only dental procedure I've never had, an implant after a crown came off and the root is broken.  I'm nervous about this one.  Still, there are always books to take one's mind off one's woes.  Here's what's come through the door:

1.  Girl Underwater, Claire Kells, literary fiction, sent by publisher
2.  Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes, women's fiction, sent by publisher
3.  Taking Leaps And Finding Ghosts, Janet DeLee, mystery, sent by author
4.  Music For Wartime, Rebecca Makkai, anthology, sent by publisher
5.  The Sunrise, Victoria Hislop, literary fiction, sent for book tour
6.  Arm Of The Sphinx, Josiah Bancroft, fantasy, sent by author

I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Blood Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
7. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
8.  Mystery Walk, Robert McCammon, Kindle Fire
9.  Enchantress, James Maxwell, audio
10.  One Evil Act, Elizabeth George, hardback
11.  Meet Me In Atlantis, Mark Adams, paperback
12.  Subtle Bodies, Norman Rush, paperback
13.  Emma And Otto And Russell And James, Emma Hooper, paperback

 Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

Swivel, Wisconsin is a quiet little village.  The sign at the city limits claims 562 residents, but that number is probably padded as people die off or move away.  For those who remain, it suits just fine.   They like their quiet town and knowing everyone in range.  Harley Jackson is one of these residents.  He grew up on a farm there and still keeps a few cows, even though his father had to sell off most of the farm to survive. 

But there are those who want things to change.  That includes the local developer, a man who gets his way by intimidation and money and who has targeted Harley's remaining acres to fulfill his dream of making Swivel a moneymaker development.  Harley's acres stand in his way of him owning the land around an interstate exit with its possibilities of fast-food restaurants and cheap hotels.

Then the miracle happens.  Harley's cow, Tina, gives birth to a calf on Christmas Eve.  The calf is born with markings that are the face of Jesus.  Everyone who sees it notices that immediately.  Harley's best friend says Harley should show the calf for money but Harley just wants to keep on living his quiet life.

But that isn't going to happen.  Word of the Jesus Cow gets out and soon there are flocks of people, vying to see the miracle and willing to pay to do so.  Harley and his new girlfriend must decide how to handle this bonanza, and their decisions make for a hilarious ride for the reader.

Michael Perry is known for his memoirs of life in rural America.  He is a former nurse and EMT who lives with his family on a small farm in a small town like Swivel where the way of life is rapidly disappearing.  This is his first fiction novel, and his gentle skewing of people and the rush of development is interesting as well as entertaining.  The reader will find himself firmly in Harley's camp as they read to see what will happen next.  This book is recommended for readers who are interested in small town life and an exploration of human nature. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Missing And The Dead by Stuart MacBride


Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae is feeling good as he heads into his annual evaluation.  He's just caught a killer in a lurid case that had the newspapers on the Aberdeen Police force's back.  Surely the department will recognize his worth and make him a Detective Inspector this time?  But instead of a promotion, McRae is headed a 'development opportunity'.  He is removed from the CID and put in charge of a rural Aberdeenshire police force.  Anything big or interesting is immediately taken over by the various police units.

Still, Logan gives it his best.  When not removing cattle from the road, he and his team are busy chasing drug dealers and ATM thieves.  Then the call police hate to get occurs.  A small girl is found dead, her head battered in.  Worse, she can't be identified.  The entire police force makes the case a top priority.  At the same time, child molesters are disappearing.  Are the cases related?  Add in the fact that moving towns hasn't made Inspector Steel disappear, that her wife Susan is pregnant again with Logan's child, and you have the ingredients for another McRae adventure.

This is the ninth Logan McRae police novel.  The reader cannot help but love Logan, who fights his way through the despair and horror of policing without losing his optimism and constant willingness to go forth into the fray.  The cases are always interesting, and MacBride does a magnificent job of tying everything together at the end.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.



Sunday, May 31, 2015

All I Have In This World by Michael Parker


They come together in Texas.  Both are searching, lost in their lives and hoping to find a way to a better place.  Maria has been fleeing a personal tragedy for years, drifting from town to town, job to job.  She has returned home to see if she can find out why she left and if there is anything left for her here.  Marcus has fled from North Carolina, where bad business decisions have left him penniless and desperate to find a new life.

They meet on a used car lot in West Texas.  Each is drawn to the same car, a sky-blue twenty-year old Buick Electra.  Impulsively, to prevent bidding each other up, they agree to buy the car together and share it.  Neither is sure if this arrangement will work but somehow it feels right.  Over the next few days, they form an alliance that helps each of them work through their personal issues and start to see the way forward to a new chapter in their lives.

Michael Parker writes novels that draw the reader in.  Usually they don't have big dramatic events but rather an accumulation of many small details that build a picture.  The writing seems easy and effortless, but each word is carefully chosen to take the reader further along on the journey.  Maria and Marcus's stories lead one to consider how we react to tragedies and the nature of forgiveness and moving on.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera


This novel opens with a scene between a young Brazilian man and his father, days before his father's death.  After his father dies, the man is adrift and at loose ends.  He has quarreled with his only brother.  His father told him a strange story about his grandfather.  He said the grandfather was an irritable man who people were afraid of.  He had gone to the seaside town of Garopaba to live but was feared and despised by the townspeople.  HIs father said his grandfather was killed one night at a dance, but no body was ever found.

The man decides to move to Garopaba himself to try to find out what really happened to his grandfather.  He is the exact image of his grandfather except for a beard, so he lets his grow out.  He is an athlete who has trained and participated in marathons.  He likes training people in running and swimming so living by the sea is perfect for him.  He takes his father's dog, Beta, and settles in, finding work as a swimming instructor.  The man has a neurological disease that prevents him from recognizing faces.  This issue makes his task even more difficult.

As the months pass, he makes friends in the town and falls in love.  He tries to determine what has happened to his grandfather, but no one is willing to talk about it or even acknowledge that the man ever lived there.  Will he be successful in his quest to determine the truth about his grandfather's life?

Daniel Galera is considered one of the best young Brazilian writers and was chosen by Granta as such in 2013.  The book was awarded the 2013 San Paulo Literature Prize.  The tone is unusual; it is languid but then incredible events occur.  It explores the themes of memory, of family ties and of forgiveness.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, May 29, 2015


Memorial Day weekend is past and summer is officially started!  I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing time.  I spent mine in Raleigh shepherding two teenagers to an anime con.  There was perfect weather and I got three books finished!  Summer is starting out wonderfully for me.  I just found out this morning that my favorite author, Salman Rushdie, is releasing a new novel in September.  I can't wait!  In the meantime, here's what's come through the door:

1.  Midnight, Kevin Egan, mystery, purchased
2.  The Devil In The Marshalsea, Antonia Hodgson, historical mystery, purchased
3.  Tales Of A Hampton Sailor, NickCatalano, anthology, sent by publisher
4.  Paris Time Capsule, Ella Carey, literary fiction, sent by author
5.  The Angel In My Pocket, Sukey Forbes, memoir, sent by publisher
6.  The Library At Mount Char, Scott Hawkins, suspense, sent by publisher
7.  Tales Of The Zodiac: The Goat's Tale, P.J. Hetherhouse, fantasy, sent by author
8.  Center Of Gravity, Laura McNeill, literary fiction, sent by publisher
9.  Little Woman In Blue, Jeannine Atkins, historical fiction, sent by publisher
10.  Manhattan Mayhem, edited by Mary Higgins Clark, anthology, sent by publisher
11.  Let Me Die In His Footsteps, Lori Roy, suspense, sent by publisher
12.  Thank You, Goodnight, Andy Abramowitz, literary fiction, sent by publisher
13.  The Missing And The Dead, Stuart MacBride, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Blood Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
7. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
8.  Mystery Walk, Robert McCammon, Kindle Fire
9.  Enchantress, James Maxwell, audio
10.  Blood-Drenched Beard, Daniel Galera, paperback
11.  Meet Me In Atlantis, Mark Adams, paperback

  Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter


The year is 1937.  William Avery has found himself in India in the Army, sent there by a poor relationship with his father and his fascination with the novels of Xavier Mountstaurt who writes of the romance of the continent.  But India is not what he expected.  It is hot and dirty and crowded and it seems that not much is the same as the stories he read predicted. 

Then the rumors start to mount.  Xavier has gone missing; he hasn't been seen or heard from in months.  He was working on his epic; a book about the Thuggee cult, that murderous group who delighted in killing travelers and dedicating their bloody deeds to Kali.  Has Mountstaurt been captured or killed by the Thuggees?  Is he lost, wandering through the endless jungle terrain with its strangler vines? 

Through a series of events, Avery is chosen to accompany the Company's man, Jeremiah Blake, in a small group formed to try to find Mountstuart.  Avery is appalled the more he is around Blake, who is the antithesis of everything he expects a Company man to be.  Blake seldom speaks, at least to Avery, although he holds long conversations with their Indian guides.  He dresses in native costume and seems to prefer speaking the local dialects.  What little conversation they have shows Avery that Blake is not impressed with him considers Avery to be little more than a catspaw of the military and Company.

Along their journey, the pair see much of India.  There are strange foods and customs.  They visit a compound in the heart of Thuggee territory and hear what the commander there is doing to crush the cult.  They visit the court of a Rajah and go on a tiger hunt.  As they travel, they hear many rumors about their quarry, but can't seem to find him.  Have they been sent on an impossible mission?

M.J. Carter has written a superb book, full of adventure and meticulously researched.  The reader is transported to India and discovers its magic and mystery along with Lt. Avery.  The truth of the mission and country are slowly revealed as the quest unfolds.  This book was longlisted for the 2014 Bailey's Women's Prize For Fiction and was a finalist for the CWA John Creasy Dagger Award.  It is recommended for readers of historical fiction. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

LA Rotten by Jeff Klima


Few would envy Tom Tanner.  Fresh from prison where he served time for killing someone in a car accident when drunk, he has been harried from low-level job to low-level job by the victim's survivors.  He has picked up a heroin habit in prison.  Now he spends his days in one of the worst jobs imaginable.  Tanner works for a company that cleans up after death and spends his days and nights sanitizing rooms after murders, suicides and other deaths.

He probably sees more of the deaths in LA than anyone else, even the police or the coroner's office.  The police have specific territories but Tanner works all over the city.  This being true, he is the first to notice a pattern.  An inordinate number of deaths are happening in a low-rent motel chain with businesses all over the city; deaths that always occur in room 236.  Tom doesn't tell the police once he notices; the police are the last people he wants in his life.  He does tell a dancer from a strip club he has been seeing and together they start to investigate the crimes.

Soon, their investigation is successful, and they almost catch the killer at his next site.  However, the killer gets away, and even worse, identifies Tom.  He starts to play a cat-and-mouse scheme with Tanner, calling and writing him to let Tanner know the killer is watching him and biding his time.  Who will win, the killer or Tom and Ivy?

Jeff Klima has created an interesting character in Tanner and the book is fast-paced and compelling.  The reader can't help but be drawn to Tanner even as they are repulsed by him.  Warning for readers:  this book contains graphic violence and sex scenes.  It is a prime example of modern day noir.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Love Is Red by Sophie Jaff


New York City is panicked.  A serial killer is stalking the city's women, killing them so horribly that he's been given the nickname The Sickle Man.  His killings appear random but in reality he is just practicing for the time he will capture and kill the one that drives him, the one he desires above all else.

Katherine Emerson is that one.  Of course, she doesn't know that and continues living her life, free-lancing and doing temp work.  She is also searching for someone; the person she'll love and end up with for life.  She thinks she has found him in David, a new man who seems perfect for her.  Or at least he seems perfect until she meets his best friend, Sael,  Which man will win her heart?

Katherine is torn between the two men, and is also starting to panic about the killer.  She is starting to have visions, and the four-year-old son of her roommate is also having them.  What do they mean?  Is something supernatural impacting the child, giving her warnings through him? 

Sophie Jaff has written a compelling mystery that keeps the reader on the edge of the chair.  There are lots of twists and turns the reader doesn't see coming, but nothing is as surprising as the true nature of the killer.  This is a debut novel and Jaff will attract lots of readers who will wait for her next novel as well.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Book Of Life by Deborah Harkness


In this concluding book of the trilogy, Diana Bishop and Matthew De Claremont have returned to the present from the past. Diana is pregnant with twins although that shouldn't be possible. For Diana is a witch and Matthew is a vampire and such an unlikely pairing should not be able to reproduce.

But there are bigger issues. Matthew decides to break away from the De Claremont family and start a branch of his own. He is fighting to control his own illness, the blood rage that afflicts some vampires. Worst of all, his son Benjamin has declared war on the family and is killing anyone Matthew holds dear.  Matthew knows Benjamin's goal is to capture and kill Diana.

But Matthew and Diana are not without weapons. Diana has one of the lost pages from the legendary Book Of Life. If they can locate the book, they might have the key to defeat their enemies and overcome the stigma of two different species mating. With a support team made of scientists, witches and vampires they set out on their quest to find the book.

Harmless has written a satisfactory conclusion to her series. Fans will enjoy returning to Matthew and Diana's world and will cheer them on. Then author treads the fine line that separates fantasy from farce and makes her world and the fantastical events believable. This book is recommended for readers of fantasy and paranormal books.

BIG NEWS!  The Book Of Life has just been released in paperback.  To celebrate, the publisher has some great giveaway items!  You can enter to win a boxed set of the trilogy, a mirror or the six buttons shown below.  Just comment on this post with your email and which of the prizes you'd like (you can enter for one or all).  I'll choose the three winners on May 29th by random draw.   I'll notify the winner for addresses and great stuff will come in the mail!  Winners have three days to respond.  Good luck!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff


FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on the street in San Francisco walking to a meeting with an undercover agent when he sees her.  The woman is striking; blonde, muscular, dressed to impress in black with a high-necked turtleneck top.  She notices him also and their eyes lock.  A minute later, she is gone and his agent is lying dead in the street.  Did she kill him?

Roarke can't forget her and starts an investigation into his undercover agent's death.  Soon he has found other cases of male murders where a woman in a turtleneck was nearby, sometimes listed as a witness, sometimes a suspect.  He begins to believe that the woman is a killer who has been operating for many years.  What drives her?  Roarke spent years in the FBI profiling section and knows that female killers just don't exist.  Has he found the first?

Meantime, she is on the run.  She knows how to disappear as she has lived off the radar for years.  As she searches for cover, she finds refuge with a family.  A family like she will never have.  A family like she has yearned for.  Will they bring her peace or are they in deadly danger?

Alexander Sokoloff has written a suspense novel that will have readers on the edge of their chairs.  The menacing atmosphere is done extremely well, and the pacing is fast, pacing the reader quickly through the story.  This book is the first of a series, of which three novels have been released.  It was a Suspense Magazine Pick for Best Thriller of 2012 and an ITW Thriller Award Nominee for Best ebook Original Novel.  The reader will turn the last page eager to read the next in the series.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Disclaimer by Renee Knight


Catherine Ravenscroft has a secret.  She has kept it hidden for decades and by now she can tell herself it never mattered anyhow.  She has a great job at which she excels, a successful marriage and a family.  She and her husband have just downsized after their son is out on his own.  Of course, it's not the job Catherine would have chosen for him and they had worried about whether he was doing as well as some of his peers, but all in all, everything is great.

But Catherine has an enemy she didn't know existed.  She discovers this when a novel is sent to her house and she picks it up and starts to read it.  There is the usual disclaimer at the beginning that no one in the book is based on real characters, but the disclaimer is a lie.  The book is the story of Catherine's secret, the one she thought no one else knew.  Now it is in print for anyone to read and put the pieces together to identify her.  Catherine is made ill by the situation, and must now hide not only her secret but her reaction to it.

But her enemy is not done.  He is determined to destroy Catherine and soon the secret is affecting every aspect of her life.  Her marriage, her relationship with her son, her work are all affected.  Is there anything she can do, or must she sit quietly and watch her life being destroyed?

This suspense novel works.  The structure is perfect for the gradual revealing of the mystery.  It moves back and forth between the past when the secret occurred, the recent past and the present when the secret starts to unravel.  As the time periods move closer, the suspense is ratcheted up a notch, over and over and over.  The twists and turns and gradual revealings are full of surprises for the reader and they question if what they know is the truth, or if like a kaleidoscope, a shake reveals a totally different picture.  The author works for the BBC writing scripts for various projects and her expertise is evident throughout.  This book is recommended for mystery and suspense readers.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Killer, Come Hither by Louis Begley

Jack Dana is a war hero, a Marine infantry officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  He is severely wounded and spends months in the hospital in recuperation.  While there, he writes a novel based on his experiences.  Out of the hospital, he rejoins his uncle Harry, who raised him.  Harry, who is a partner in an influential Manhattan law firm, uses his connections to get Jack in contact with publishers and his novel is published.  It becomes a huge hit and Jack quickly starts work on a second.  When it is also published and successful, Dana decides it is time for a vacation and heads to the remote areas of South America for several months.

He returns to a shock.  His uncle, Harry, is dead, a suicide.  Jack can't believe it.  Harry had shown no signs of anything wrong when Jack left.  He starts to look into the death and soon comes to believe that it is not suicide.  With the help of two of the firm's other lawyers, his best friend who works for the CIA, and several of Harry's oldest friends, Jack uncovers a plot that reaches across the country and will have major implications when revealed.  By doing so, he brings attention and danger to himself.  Can Jack find justice for Harry without being killed himself?

Louis Begley has written a mystery that shows life among the moneyed and influential.  Dana is a sympathetic character, a hero who is willing to continue to fight for justice.  The reader will be transported to the Cape, Manhattan and South America while the story unfolds.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, May 15, 2015


Things are winding down on my hectic schedule with my daughter.  Dance is over for the year this weekend, and school is done for the year next week. Only two more days to get up early!  One of my favorite times to read is when I wake up in the morning and don't have to get up immediately, but can take my time and read for an hour or so.  On to summer and relaxed days with lots of reading!  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  High Country Nocturne, Jon Talton, mystery, sent by publisher
2.  The Handless Maiden, Dorothy Black Crow, mystery, sent by author
3.  The Kindness, Polly Sampson, literary fiction, sent by publisher
4.  Pilgrim Wheels, Neil Hanson, travel, sent by publisher
5.  Church Of Marvels, Leslie Parry, literary fiction, sent by publisher
6.  The Harvest Man, Alex Grecian, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  Love Is Red, Sophie Jaff, mystery, sent for book tour
8.  Disclaimer, Renee Knight, mystery, sent for book tour
9.  Seveneves, Neal Stephenson, fantasy, sent by publisher
10.  The Jesus Cow, Michael Perry, literary fiction, sent for book tour
11.  A Deadly Wandering, Matt Richtel, nonfiction, sent for book tour

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Disclaimer, Renee Knight, hardback
3.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  Killer, Come Hither, Louis Begley, paperback
7.  LA Rotten, Jeff Klima, Kindle
8.  All I Have In This World, Michael Parker, paperback
9. The Strangler Vine, MJ Carter, Kindle Fire
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback

 Happy Reading!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blood Ties by Nicholas Guild


A vicious serial killer is stalking the women of San Francisco.  His main motivation seems to be inflicting the maximum amount of pain and suffering before their death.  The SFPD has tied together four murders, with different methods and victim types but enough community in their type to be identified as the work of the same killer.  He doesn't leave clues and he isn't the typical sloppy killer.

Ellen Ridley, a young homicide detective, is put in charge of the case along with her mentor and partner, Sam.  After lots of investigative legwork, they have a suspect.  Stephen Tregear is a brilliant computer coder who works in security for the U.S. Naval Intelligence agency.  He is considered a high security asset and, although a civilian under contract, is monitored and protected by the military.  Can such a man be their killer?

After meeting with the suspect and some DNA evidence, Tregear's fantastic story seems to be true.  The killer is not Tregear but his father, Walter.  Stephen hasn't seen Walter since he was twelve.  That was the night Stephen discovered a woman's body in their garage after his father had gone to bed.  Stephen ran away that night and never looked back.  His intelligence and mathematical ability had rescued him and given him a life, but his purpose has always been the same: to find Walter and bring him to justice.  Walter wants to find Stephen also, but to kill the only person who got the best of him.

Stephen, Ellen and Sam team up to discover Walter's location and hopefully bring him in.  Stephen has investigated Walter over the years and suspects that Walter's death toll may exceed a hundred victims.  Can the team find their target before he finds and kills them?

Nicolas Guild has written one of the freshest, most suspenseful mysteries I've read in quite some time.  The tension between Stephen and Walter, each intent on finding and destroying the other, mounts steadily.  The tie between the two is also explored as Guild digs into the levels of familial connection and love.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Abduction Of Smith And Smith


The United States is in chaos as the Civil War ends.  State has fought against state and an entire generation of men have either died or returned home, changed forever.  Jupiter Smith is a former slave who fights for the North.  He returns to the plantation where he grew up, only to find his wife gone.  The rumor is she has gone to San Francisco to wait for him.  Archer Smith is the plantation owner's son and heir and fought for the South.  He returns home, gravely injured, to find his father dead, murdered it's said, by Jupiter.  He also heads for San Francisco to find the man who killed his father and to kill him in turn.

San Francisco is full of men and immigrants all striving for a successful life and most are ready to do anything to carve out that life.  Jupiter takes a job shanghai'ing men to become crew on sailing ships; forcing them into coerced labor that is not much different than the life he endured as a slave.  He spends his time searching for Sonya, his wife.  Just when he gets a lead on her, he is in turn captured and forced into labor on a ship.  Captured along with him is Archer, and the two men must now work out their issues in a life full of labor and dependence on each other.  Complicating the issues is the fact that Jupiter and Archer are brothers, born from the same father but different mothers.  They have a familial bond that has turned to hatred, but they must stick together in order to survive this new life.

Rashad Harrison has written one of the most original, stirring stories I've read in months.  It is full of opium, gun running, piracy, the politics of the Chinese empire, slavery, forced servitude of women, mutiny and many other issues.  The reader is taken through an ever-changing landscape of twists and turns that has their loyalty switching as often as the plot changes.  He explores the issues of the brotherhood bond, and the thorny issue of how one can be honest in an environment where honesty is seen as a weakness and where cunning and the willingness to do anything to survive is paramount.  This book is recommended for readers of both literary and historical fiction.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Flesh And Blood by Patricia Cornwell


It's Doctor Kay Scarpetta's birthday and her new husband, FBI Agent Benton Wesley, has rented a place in Florida for them to have a much-needed vacation.  As Kay drinks her coffee outside, she finds something strange on the wall.  Seven copper pennies are lined up, polished to be as bright as the day they were minted even though the date on them is 1981.  Within minutes, Kay gets a call that puts her vacation on hold.  Someone has shot a local music teacher in his driveway and he is dead.  As head of the Medical Examiner's office, Scarpetta is in charge of overseeing the autopsy.

Things soon get more complicated.  The music teacher is the third victim of a serial sniper, who has killed two other people in the prior weeks.  Each person is shot with what looks like an impossible shot that causes death instanteously.  Scarpetta has personal problems also.  A thug-like insurance investigator is following her and her family, hoping for dirt that will harm her reputation and allow his company to avoid paying claims.  Her niece, Lucy, is acting strange, and rumors are starting to fly about her.  This could be another attack on Kay as Lucy is like a daughter to her.  A local teenage girl is found dead in the pool of a house belonging to a big-money Senator.  Can Kay get to the bottom of these crimes before something horrific occurs in her personal life?

This is the 22nd Kay Scarpetta mystery.  The doctor has changed over the years.  Her main co-worker, Marino, has left her office and is working with the local police.  She is now married to a man she met on the job.  There are throwbacks to events happening years before, and faithful readers will pick up on the clues scattered about.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Golden Age Of Murder by Martin Edwards

The golden age of detective fiction was in the twenty years between the two World Wars.  Although detective fiction had existed earlier, as in the work of Edgar Allen Poe, something about this time frame made the detective novel one of the most successful genres in English literature.  Those who were the early lights of the genre came together in a gathering they called The Detection Club.  It's purpose was to insure the integrity of the genre.  "Thriller" authors were not welcome.  Instead, the novels selected for praise invoked crime solving, with mechanisms such as the locked room mystery.

Some of the founding members are still known today, while others have faded into obscurity.  This book follows in depth several of the founding members.  Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Anthony Berkeley and G.K, Chesterton were original organizers of the club.  Their books were successful and their sales raised the genre to new heights.  They paved the way for later innovations such as the psychological focus of many mysteries today. 

Yet these members often led troubled lives.  Agatha Christie was involved in a famous disappearance where she was incognito for over a week, while police forces busily attempted to find her.  Sayers spent her life hiding a personal scandal, while others in the club were tainted by rumors of infidelity.  Edwards delves into these scandals, while showing how they influenced specific books by different authors.  He shows the influence that various notorious true crime cases had on these authors' writing.  He also spends time exploring how the country's economy, politics, and the coming World War II influenced books. 

As time went on and the founders grew older, newer blood was brought into the club.  The second wave of authors included John Dickenson Carr, Margery Allingham, A.A. Milne of Winnie The Pooh fame, and Gladys Mitchell.  The club still exists today, and Edwards is its archivist.  Newer members include names familiar to mystery readers such as Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin.  Readers interested in the environment that led to the rise of the mystery novel will be delighted with this book.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, May 2, 2015



It's hard to believe April is over and May is here.  The azeleas are about through blooming and the trees are all full of new foliage.  School is about over the year with my daughter finishing her junior year of high school.  Next year will be taken up with college applications and hopefully acceptances!

I attended a book sale this past week with a friend.  I was pretty restrained and only bought five books.  Of course, that is probably less due to my restraint and more to the fact that with over seven thousand books in the house, I had a pretty high percentage of the books offered already!

Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  Bridge Of Sighs, Richard Russo, literary fiction, bought at book sale
2.  Paris, Edward Rutherfurd, historical fiction, bought at book sale
3.  Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy Burden, memoir, bought at book sale
4.  The Babes In The Wood, Ruth Rendell, mystery, bought at book sale
5.  My Losing Season, Pat Conroy, memoir, bought at book sale
6.  Dry Bones, Craig Johnson, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  Grace Keepers, Kirsty Logan, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  The Abduction Of Smith And Smith, Rashad Harrison, historical fiction, sent for book tour
9.  Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff, mystery, sent by author
10.  Blood Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff, mystery, sent by author
11.  The Silver Linings, Matthew Quick, literary fiction, purchased
12.  The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls, Anton Disclafani, literary fiction, purchased
13.  Freedom's Child, Jax Miller, mystery, sent by publisher
14.  Bourbon Empire, Reid Mitenbuler, nonfiction, sent by publisher
15.  You Will Never Find Me, Robert Wilson, mystery, sent by publisher
16.  Blood Ties, Nicholas Guild, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Flesh And Blood, Patricia Cornwell, paperback
3.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  Killer, Come Hither, Louis Begley, paperback
7.  The Golden Age Of Murder, Martin Edwards, paperback
8.  All I Have In This World, Michael Parker, paperback
9. The Strangler Vine, MJ Carter, Kindle Fire
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback

 Happy Reading!



Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

 


The reader meets Sarah Brown the night before the execution of her famous father, John Brown.  He is to be hanged for his role in the infamous Harper's Ferry insurrection that played a part in starting the Civil War.  Sarah and her family are cared for during this ordeal by the Hill family.  Both the Browns and the Hills are abolitionists, determined to end the curse of slavery.  Sarah helps in her own way, drawing the maps that help escaped slaves make their way to Canada.

Eden Anderson lives one hundred and fifty years later.  She lives in New Charlestown, near Harper's Ferry with her husband.  They have come to the town to make a new start.  Eden gives up a high-pressure job and tries to reconcile herself to the reality that she may never have a child of her own.  Years of fertility issues have almost ruined her marriage and Eden is at loose ends. 

The two women are connected over the years by several factors.  Both have to reconcile themselves to not being mothers.  The house that Eden is living in is the old Hill house, home to Sarah's greatest friends.  They are also connected by their journey to find meaning and connection in life and to build things that impact the world.

Sarah McCoy has researched the life of Sarah Brown extensively.  After the war, she and her family migrated west, ending up in California.  The reader is introduced to this real-life heroine while seeing how her life might have played out in a modern setting as exemplified by Eden.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy


The Great Santini is Pat Conroy's novel about growing up in a Marine fighter pilot's household.  Conroy grew up in such a household, he and his six siblings moving frequently following his father from military post to military post. 

Bull Meecham is the epitome of a Marine fighter pilot.  He is the best flyer, the loudest voiced, the biggest drinker, the quickest to start and finish a fight.  He rules his squadron and his family by sheer force of personality and by his willingness to use his fists whenever he is crossed.  He brooks no resistance from his lovely Southern wife, Lillian, and his four children. 

Ben is the oldest, a son who strives to be good at whatever he does.  He gets good grades, serves as an alter boy, is the best point guard his high school has ever seen.  Mary Ann is his closest sibling, a daughter with little social life due to the constant moves who finds refuge in her books.  Matt and Karen are young and follow their older siblings. 

Ben is caught in limbo.  His father wants him to be a tough, Yankee Marine and someday be a fighter pilot.  He doesn't even consider another future for his son.  His mother wants him to be a Southern gentleman and spends her time trying to mold him into that.  He loves his father and hates him in equal parts.  He admires Bull's accomplishments and knows he can go to him in any emergency for help, but hates the way Bull is quick with his fists to his wife and family, and quick to humiliate his children to enforce his rules.  The book covers Ben's senior year in a new town.  He makes some friends with the local boys, mainly through sports, and with the son of their maid, who introduces Ben to the countryside and the local fishing.  Throughout the year, Ben tries to discover what he wants out of life and how to carve out space for himself when living with a larger than life figure.

I avoided this book for years, even though Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors.  I was afraid of the emotions he would uncover and how I would react to the story.  I can't think of anyone who writes better about the South and what it means to be born and grow up there.  His strength is writing about dysfunctional families and how they love each other through the tears.  Bull Meecham is like many of the fathers I knew growing up, and like my father in ways.  My father was the high school principal and few would cross him, although his was a quiet strength rather than an extroverted one like Meecham.  His word was law and his family did what he laid down first before considering what they wanted themselves.  Conroy knows and writes better about the father-son dynamic than any other writer I know.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.