AMPED UP TENSION (02/27/2012)

You may have noticed there are advertisements appearing on this blog. I hope you will click on an ad when you see something that peaks your interest.. They are relevant to literature and lifestyle and hopefully will serve as a convenient perk for readers.

And now, why "Amped Up Tension" you say? Why not..Who doesn't like some suspense, some drama, some style mixed with beautifully rendered storylines?

The following book falls into that category. It is a  late February release and immediately available on Amazon. THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey is not to be missed. A debut novel based on a Russian fairy tale is enchanting from beginning to end. I can't wait to get back it.....

Amazon selected it as BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH FEBRUARY2012 and rightly so.

  Click Image to Order Directly From Amazon
THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey
This is the haunting tale of a childless couple running from their East Coast lives and struggling in the Alaskan wilderness while trying to reconnect with each other. In a moment of frivolity they build a snow child. They dress it with mittens and a scarf. Shortly after building the snow child they begin to see an actual child darting in and out of the trees. Is it real? Is it a figment of cabin fever and overwork?

These questions may or may not be answered but the book is so well written you will lose yourself in the prose and imagery. There is much depth to this tale and it's written with imagination and warmth. I  highly recommend it.

      ....A Real Snooze!  

I am plodding through THE WORLD WE FOUND by Thirity Umigar. It's a  struggle..slow moving, repititive and predictable. The novel follows the stories of four Indian women who had been inseparable in college but lost touch over the years.  One has just been diagnosed with an incurable disease and wants a final reunion....and so it goes.... A disappointing novel from one of my favorite authors.
(This dog is an avid reader and it put him to sleep!)


This novelwas reviewed in an earlier post. (See Index) but when a  friend recently read it and gave the novel rave reviews I thought I would revisit it. Released in paperback in 2009, Lia Levy relates a passionate, and  bittersweet tale of hatred, cruelty, oppression, and of course, love. It takes place in 1938 when fascist Italy had imposed its infamous race laws resulting in terrible consequences for those who broke the rules. 
Winner of the Moravia Prize for fiction, (A German book award..thanks Google) this is an account of a country and a time which little has been written.  Definetly a worthwhile read. Love, passion and oppression...what could be better?)
* To order THE JEWISH HUSBAND and WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ANNE FRANK click on AMAZON SEARCHBOX in the upper corner of this page.


WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ANNE FRANK by Nathan Englander is a new collection of eight short stories that quickly transport the reader into other lives. To simplify, the book includes stories about fathers and sons, mothers, faith, community, war, hope and shame.

Reviewers have labeled the collection "courageous and provocative". There are some Holocaust references along with personal references and this recent work by Englander has been labeled "a revelation" by book critics.

WHEN I WAS A CHILD I READ BOOKS: ESSAYS by Marilynne Robinson is her latest book since Gilead which was a Pulitzer Prize Winner. This book will be released March 13th. There's no doubt that she is a wonderful author with
subtly moving prose and compelling views all of which have made her famous.

These essays expand upon themes which preoccupy her, such as the global debt crisis, the political climate in this country and a personal essay on her Idaho childhood. As I said, not for everyone.....

When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays
Click Image To Order Directly From Amazon



Are you reading a book that should be mentioned on this Blog? Are your book group choices (or members) getting on your nerves? If you have any book suggestions go ahead and post a comment!

BLOG NOTES (02/ 20/ 2012)

Thankyou readers for the overwhelming response to Joyce's Choices. I have over 5,000 hits, over 60 blog followers, and even more followers on Facebook. Who would've thought.....

Please don't hesitate to post a comment on the blog. I would love to have some feedback. Talk about books, disagree with me, or just add your own opinions.

On the sidebar, under Book Index, I  have included an alphabetical list of every book mentioned in the blog. This is a quick and easy way for visitors to find a post or a book. Just click on the title...

I now have a direct feed to the Wall Street Journal Book Section (YSJ).  You can access it on the sidebar below my profile.

Remember anything can be ordered from Amazon directly from Joyce's Choices.


THIS WAS MY HOUSE FIRST by Jenifer Clements Stockdale has reached the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Author Contest. Jenifer Clements Stockdale is a Special Education teacher and has been a foster parent for ten years. She is one of ten children and grew up on Martha's Vineyard.
THIS WAS MY HOUSE FIRST is reviewed on this blog. It's a poignant and true story about the inner works of foster care from someone not emmeshed in the system.

Go to the sidebar to find THIS WAS MY HOUSE FIRST and read the full review.

Congratulations Jenifer!


This beautiful Swan family spent most of last summer on our lawn. We named the male, Norman and the female is Mrs Norman. (I think an overdose of sun and vodka had gotten to us!)
The attraction was an abundance of saltines, their snack of choice.  We used to have Turkeys who snacked on bagels, but they treated the yard like their personal bathroom so they were evicted. When one crashed through a window it was time for them to move on.
The cygnets are probably young adults by now and we anticipate a new Swan family looking for a saltine fix come Spring. It's been a bleak winter but  happily, the days are getting longer. 

Here's a brief preview of new titles by two well known authors and two first time authors.


Calico Joe by John Grisham

A surprising novel about the careers of two baseball players on the field and off. This novel is a real departure for John Grisham who favors courtroom dramas and lawyer angst. 
This has been labeled a surprising novel of fathers and sons set in the world of Major League Baseball.

In the summer of 1973 Joe Calico was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen until a fastball changed his life forever...and his Dad's.
If you enjoyed The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, this book is for you. 
The release date is April 10th.

                                                                        The Expats by Chris Pavone

This impressive thriller by first time novelist Cris Pavone is said to be a riviting and complex spy story.
Lots of suspense, surprise, and plot twists focusing on a compelling female protagonist. 
Fans of John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum will welcome this exciting spy thriller. Be ready for lots of plot twists and double crosses.

March 6th is the release date. 

Buy any book on this blog directly from the AMAZON SEARCHBOX 
located in the sidebar or click on an image when indicated.

                                              The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

This is a debut novel by Roberta Rich that was highly praised by a blog follower. It was released in paperback recently and tells the story of a midwife in the Jewish ghetto of Venice in 1875.
The story is rich with historical detail combined with suspense, drama and unforgettable characters.
Besides the intricasies of the tale itself, there are details about midwifery and the constant intolerance between Christians and Jews.
The book may feel a little one dimensional but it's a page turner.

              MUDWOMAN  by Joyce Carol Oates
I am a fan of Joyce Carol Oates and have read most of her books. Her newest novel will be released the end of March but reviewers have already called it "extraordinarily intense, racking, and resonant."  MUDWOMAN explores the  story of a woman cracking the glass ceiling at enormous personal cost. 
As president of an Ivy League college committed to her career she is confronted with challenges that test her in ways she could never had imagined. The plot mixes the real and the imagined culminating in a powerful story of love, mystery and power.

                          WATCH OUT! BOOK ALERT.....

This post focuses on a new book that is slowly and steadfastly moving up the ranks. It has not made any lists yet, but watch is definetly on the move.

Heft by Liz Moore

Arthur Opp is "colosally fat." He has not left his house in a decade, has not worked for eighteeen years and has lost all connections with his family. For over two decades he has had one tenuous lifeline with a former student who was unknowingly the center of rumors that ended his career. The prospect of renewing that friendship and revealing his decline leads to a haunting tale. There are many flawed characters in this story and the author brings them to life in all their quirkiness. Ultimately HEFT is about transformation and acceptance..a good combination. The New York Times  gave this book an excellent review.

REMINDER: Click on the AMAZON SEARCHBOX in the sidebar to order now!


As I was drinking my morning coffee and reading the local alternative newspaper, I came across the following article titled  NEW BOOK BLOG by LOCAL BIBLIOPHILE.... A What??   BIBLIOPHILE?
Here's the article....

BY  D.M.  Editor
February 12, 2011

"As a once rabid reader who read several books a week and now can barely get through a chapter a month due to lack of that extra day of the week I need in my life, I thought I'd share a new book blog being produced by  Joyce S. called  JOYCE'S CHOICES.
A life long city resident, this avid reader offers up some informative reviews and quirky commentary to help you reach the top of  the "TO READ" list you've been keeping.
In the ABOUT ME section of the blog, Joyce says "I hope this blog will be entertaining as well as informative, combining fiction, nonfiction and other genres to broaden the appeal"
 Be sure to check it out."

That's it..Enough Bibliophiling!  Scroll down to really get a thrill.....


        by ROBERT HARRIS   

 In this taut thriller, author Robert Harris has turned his eye on the world of billion dollar hedge funds. The story takes place over a twenty-four hour period in the life of one person, a mathematical genius, computer scientist and of late, hedge fund billionaire. The plot twists and turns between the mysteries of high finance and the world of greed and panic.
Reviewers have labeled it "fiendishly smart and suspenseful." The Fear Index is a timely financial thriller with a touch of science fiction and psychological mystery..A  heady combination...


Michael Houllebecq is a French author known for his wit and style.  In 2010, the novel was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt Award and is now translated into English.  The Map and the Territory has been labeled by reviewers as "Exceptional and Absorbing.".. Instead of elaborating on the plot, I have highlighted a few descriptive phrases that typify the and money, fathers and sons, friendship and and death, aging and dreams..(What more do you need?)
Mix it all together and the result is a provocative and smart thriller.


This thriller blends intrigue, courtroom drama, action and history into one vivid story. The book was released late 2010 and its impact is still resonating.  The author is a Chicago trial attorney who has visited Poland many times inspiring him to write this novel. The story moves from Chicago to Poland  seamlessly and balances between the past and the present.  You will be reminded of the horrors of the Holocaust, but there is also joy and romance.  Critics highly recommended this novel.

REMINDER:  Unless indicated otherwise, click on AMAZON SEARCHBOX in sidebar to order.

WHAT AM I READING?    (02/16/12)

I just started THE WORLD WE FOUND by THRITY UMIGAR and I cannot wait to get back to it. I mentioned this book in an earlier post (January Releases) and true to form, Umigar has written another poignant, eloquent tale. It involves four Indian women and how their lives intertwine. I'll keep you updated.

Update: Not loving it......


Let me know by posting a comment. It's easy, Click on "comment" and share your views. 
Go ahead and recommend something...Fiction ...Nonfiction...Biography...
Let's talk!


PAGE TURNERS ....SORT OF (2/6/2012)

Everyone is looking for a "page turner"... that special book that keeps you wanting more...that book that stays in your head all a new love or for some of us...a great desert..fresh, exciting, unexpected, thrilling ......

Here's  Some  Recommendations...You Decide..

by Adam Wilson   (release date 2/21/12)          
Recently chosen best book of the month on Amazon, this book is reviewed as a bleakly funny and outrageous first novel by Adam Wilson.  The main character, Eli Schwartz is a stoned slacker who befriends a suicidal sex addict, mooches off his parents, and is generally in complete disarray.
However, don't lose's written with  laugh out loud humor and some sensitivity! By the end, the reader is captivated by the characters, the comic voice of the author  and a really hopeful outcome.

Product DetailsSTAY AWAKE

Many of you will remember Await Your Reply by Don Chaon, a celebrated and popular author.  But did you know that before he wrote novels he was a renowned author of short stories?
This new collection of short stories mixes suspense with despair. It's not an uplifting read and the stories are not always hopeful, but the plots are provocative and the characters are interesting.
This book is not for's not a feel good book..but you won't be able to put it down.



This is a fast, compelling courtroom drama by an award winning author.  A family is put to the test as a father defends his son who is accused of an unspeakable crime.

How far would you go to protect your family? DEFENDING JACOB combines a riviting family drama with realistic courtroom scenes.

Amazon said "This legal thriller rivals the best of Scott Turow and John Grisham"

I've downloaded it to my kindle!

Reminder: Unless otherwise indicated, order books directly from Amazon by clicking on the Amazon Searchbox in the sidebar.

                                                                 Book Alert!

Product Details

Several weeks ago I reviewed NO ONE IS HERE EXCEPT ALL OF US by RAMONA AUSUBEL. The New York Times agreed with my review. (Whew!)

Scroll down to MORE RELEASES FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY to read about this groundbreaking and riviting novel.. It's a keeper.

It's gotten rave reviews and yes, it is beautifully written. Book groups are reading it en masse and it was a nominee for the Booker Award.  So what's my problem?         To be Continued......

(2/07/12) Conclusion...
It's too slow-moving...Cannot get into it...Don't care about the characters...
Put me to sleep...............The End

A STATE OF WONDER by Anne Patchett

This book was chosen as Amazon's Best Book of the Month in June. The Washington Post labeled it the "best read of the summer".  A blog reader reported that A State of Wonder is a spellbinder from beginning to end...even better than Bel Canto. However, it's gotten mixed reviews and many readers felt it was slowmoving. Overall the story is a compelling one, the jungle is vividly described and the narrative is replete with poison arrows, snakes, cannibals and more. The struggles of the main character, a doctor who was forced to give up her career, leads the reader into an exotic and exciting world of adventure... Definetly worth reading.



DEBORAH E. FROM CANADA  sent me the following email describing her recent book club meeting.

"Just presented a "delicious" book at my book club. Have you heard of  HEAT BY BILL BUFORD, a former editor at the New Yorker? He was already a decent cook when he decided to find out what it takes to make it in the kitchens of the top restaurants. He links up with Mario Batali and becomes a kitchen slave at Babbo in NYC. He follows other top chefs and even does some apprenticeships in Italy. It's part memoir, biography and tutorial but it's a complete immersion into the wacky world of working in a restaurant or in the food industry. He's so funny and such a great writer!! (He also works with the "world's greatest butcher" in Tuscany.) 
As part of my presentation of this book, I included my daughter's boyfriend who spoke about interning with that same famous butcher in Italy. Another friend, Martin, who spent four months in Italy in a "stage" also helped give a background and context to everything, and Martin and the BF prepared some treats for everyone. It was so much fun."
DEBORAH E. recommends HEAT BY BILL BUFORDClick on the image below to order from Amazon.

Heat: An Amateur Cook in a Professional Kitchen