IS IT ME? (04/01/2012)

Before you begin perusing the April releases, here's a quick update on some books I've read recently and it's a little depressing.

For more information about these books, find the title in the BOOK INDEX located in the sidebar.

THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey 

A well written, weird, haunting tale. I found it mesmerizing and compelling although slow moving. (No sleep aid needed while reading this book)

STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben

I always anticipate a new release by Harlan Coben. They're light thrillers, snappy and witty. This book was just plain cliche and a big disappointment. It's number one on the Best Seller List in spite of my opinion..

MUDWOMAN by Joyce Carol Oates

I could not get into this book. I've read all of Joyce Carol Oates books. I found MUDWOMAN overly long, repetitive and gave up about half way through...Maybe it's me...

Is it me?
Go ahead and post a comment, send a tweet or an email ...Am I just being negative? 

Do you have a book recommendation? Let me know.


This blog reader's first words were...." A very very explicit sexy book about pleasure" He felt the book was entertaining but thought the characters were poorly developed...( I'm surprised he noticed) 

Overall he felt the novel was a quick and intoxicating read and is hoping for a sequel!
Man Reading With Glasses Clip Art

Scroll down this page for a more realistic and detailed review or click on the title in the BOOK INDEX located in the sidebar.

Have you read this book? What's your opinion?

GREAT PRICE ON A KINDLE !  Get Yours today. You'll have any book in seconds. Perfect for travelers!


March came in like a lamb and is going out like a lion...or is it the other way around?

In my part of the country we're experiencing "lion-like" temps...Twenty degrees this morning!

April brings some wonderful (and some not so wonderful) new titles. One of my favorite authors, Anne Tyler debuts a new novel titled THE BEGINNER'S GOODBYE which sounds like another refreshing, readable take on life's challenges.

 Here's a list and brief summary of some April releases:


THE BEGINNER'S GOODBYE by Anne TYLER tells the story of a disabled man who is suffering from a loss and trying to figure out life. This author always writes with humor and a piercing understanding of human foibles.

CALICO JOE by John Grisham is a book I reviewed previously.(Check the Book Index) It's a baseball story (OH no..) that takes place in 1973. Fathers and sons collide, forgiveness plays a part, and Grisham fans will call it a great Spring Opener.

FARTHER AWAY: Essays by Jonathan Franzen is a series of essays and speeches focusing on issues that have preoccupied Franzen the past five years and they are never ending.

DRIFT by Rachel Maddow displays the qualities of this author who is my favorite MSNBC host. Displaying her sharp and caustic wit, Maddow tells the story of American warfare and the debate about its purpose.




I just don't get it..why is everyone so enthralled with the Hunger Games? I've invited GHS, my non-fiction reviewer to dissect it, and who knows...maybe I'll be a convert.....maybe.

Here's what GHS had to say about THE HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY......His next stop probably will be the movie theater..It opens this weekend.

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The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
The Mockingjay

The HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY by Suzanne Collins has all the makings of a successful franchise—and rightly so! The story takes place in the future, somewhere on the continental U.S. in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that created a new country ruled by ‘the capitol’ and 13 surrounding districts.

 Each year, as a reminder of their subservience to the capital, each district is forced to send 2 ‘tributes’ to compete in a televised event where the tributes fight to the death. It’s all very similar to the hit reality show ‘Survivor’—except the contestants die until there is a victor.

The residents of the capital anticipate the games like we anticipate the ‘Super Bowl’ and they can wager on the contestants—while the districts are forced to watch their children suffer. Since the contestants in the Hunger Games are technically children (young teenagers), the story introduces a very controversial topic—children killing children.

However (I think) that because the story takes place in a fantasy future world, the deaths in the games give way to a larger story of love (yes, there is a love triangle) and basic human instincts or morality, freedom and truth.

 Comment or Tweet...Am I the only one that's a dissenter?



JSS:  "You are just sooooo hibrow!!!!! Get down in the trenches with those of us who love books like Harry Potter and Dungeons and Dragons and Game of Thrones!!!

I have just finished the 2nd of the 3 books and can't wait to start the last.

The themes are just teenage melodramas with simple but moralistic thoughts about life and fairness. A book can be finished in a few hours by skipping over segments of these sidetracks and focusing on the story that captivates your interest.
Get down here with the rest of us and enjoy the thrills!!"


"The big deal is that kids are killing kids. Is such literature to be recommended? Then dangerous and the prohibited can be irresistible. Fiction has always been a playpen and a laboratory where nerve-wracking experiences can come close without any risks. Generations of kids have loved stories about torture and death. 

Hunger Games is more brutal than anything we have seen so far, and I can't see any other motive for writing and putting such stories on screen than profit. It might be well written, but I can't find a single good reason to recommend reading stuff like that, especially to young people."


MARCH RELEASES (03/21/ 2012)

Just a reminder that the following books have been released this month. Go to the BOOK INDEX on the sidebar and click on the title for reviews and commentary.

  • STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben
  • BY BLOOD by Ellen Ullman
  • When I WAS A CHILD: ESSAYS by Marilyn Robinson
  • THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone
  • HEFT by Liz Moore
Scroll down for more releases.




THE GOOD FATHER by Noah Hawley was released this month. It's an interesting and thoughtful book and my second father-criminal son theme. I recently read DEFENDING JACOB  by William Landay which is more of a courtroom drama, again with a father-son interaction. 

In THE GOOD FATHER, the father of a man who assassinates a presidential candidate tries to make sense of his son's crime.

 Believe it or not, the book is a mystery, but most importantly tells a poignant story of the relationship between a father and the boy he left behind in his first, failed marriage.

Reviewers called it "an intense psychological novel that will haunt readers
for a long time"

Put this book on your To Be Read list. A definite page-turner, "a moving  literary novel."

A NOVELLA ALERT (03/17/2012)

I recently received a comment from a reader raving about a novella called TRAIN DREAMS by Denis Johnson. Johnson is a National Book Award winner (Tree of Smoke 2007.) so I immediately was on the alert. My friend called it "a classic American myth, a gorgeous, rich book."

TRAIN DREAMS is set in the 1920's in the logging camps and train stations of Idaho and tells the tale of a logger and his personal defeats. It's been called "a book that packs a wallop written in simple language with arresting details."

Only 128 pages, a "must read."

Note: Personally I'm not a fan of depressing books, but the beauty of the prose and a gripping story often make it worthwhile. (Maybe I'll have a cocktail first...)


And no, I am not referring to myself!

There have been excellent reviews about a new novel by Richard Mason called HISTORY OF A PLEASURE SEEKER. Here's some descriptive phrases; "Seductive, engaging, humorous, and best of all...a sharp eye and wit to rival Oscar Wilde."

The novel opens in Amsterdam at the turn of the century and moves to New York during the financial crisis. It's about a young man with an appreciation for pleasure and a gift for finding it.  

Richard Mason paints a lush tale of how one man changed an entire family and in turn leaves behind his poverty stricken youth for another world. The novel is a "provocative and engaging portrait of an individual, a family and a time."

The Washington Post labeled it "A best new work of fiction, a classic. It's hard not to be seduced by this intoxicating read." (And there's a lot of seduction.....)

                                                         Use Amazon Search Box to Order


As you know you can access the Wall Street Journal directly from my blog.   Because I have a following with varying tastes in books, this article may be of interest to some. 

Check out Wall Street Journal Books on the sidebar and click.....


Early in July my summer book group convenes. A great deal of thought is devoted to selecting the six months of thought! Usually the     person who has volunteered to lead the discussion will choose a book with maybe some input from the group. 

We don't do light summer reads...on the contrary, we do volumptuous, brilliant and insightful books.  What more can I add except to say...the food is always good but it's not the focal point (maybe for me) and the book discussion is honest and exhilarating and is the focal point. 

Confused about a book? You won't be by the end of the evening!

                        SUMMER BOOKGROUP CHOICES 2012

HOUSE of STONE by Anthony Shadid

This is our first memoir and it is a book about war, unbelievable loss, a region in trouble, and a family history. The author was one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya, brutally beaten and mistreated as the country was in the midst of a revolution. After his release he remained to rebuild his family home in Lebanon.  Shadid creates a mosaic of past and present told with humor and understanding.

 Anthony Shadid died in 2012 unexpectedly of an apparent asthma attack while he was on assignment in Syria.

To order House of Stone use the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar.

 Author Anthony Shadid 1968-2012

TO the LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

This book was written by Virginia Woolf, one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. It was labeled a groundbreaking novel about a vacationing family and the relationship with their guests and each other.

 A reviewer said "This book is about beauty, about the incredible tragedy of time passing, about art and the world, about love and marriage, about people."
Book Cover:  To the Lighthouse
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TO the LIGHTHOUSE was published in 1927 and was written in one of the  more peaceful times in Woolf's life. It was considered one of her best novels.

Virginia Woolf   1882-1941


This is a memoir, beautifully written about people who defined themselves by the objects they owned. I had trouble getting into this book but overall it's a well researched family memoir.

Edmund de Waal is a ceramicist and describes the experiences of his family and their collection of Japanese netsuki, which are tiny hand carved figures including a hare with amber eyes.

The story combines art history, detective story and memoir as De Waal discovers the history of the netsuke and explores five generations of his family.
Use Amazon Search Box to Order


THE RUINS of US by Keija Parssinen

A blog reader on the Cape leads a year round co-ed book club. 
One of the books she recommended is THE RUINS of US by Keija Parssinen.

This debut novel explores the life of an American expatriate who after living in Saudi Arabia, discovers that her husband, a Saudi billionaire has taken a second bride.

The discovery plunges the family into chaos at the expense of their sixteen year old son, Faisel who soon becomes involved with a controversial sheikh.
When Faisel makes a choice that could destroy everything, all must confront difficult truths.

 This is a powerful story of family and country written by an author born in Saudi Arabia.

To Order This Book Use the Amazon Search Box.


Before you read March Releases please take a look at this comment from Mari, an artist and avid reader who currently resides in Mexico.

Hi Joyce,
I'm recommending "The Painter of Battles" by Arturo Perez-Reverte, a highly accomplished Spanish jounalist and author. This book is a fictional story about a well known photographer turned painter.

One night while painting a mural about war, the hero is interrupted by a man he had photographed many years ago. What ensues is a fascinating dialogue about each ones history about love, life, and the risks one takes for ones art and work.

 Order Using the Amazon Search Box 
THE PAINTER OF BATTLES was released in 2008. Novelist Perez-Reverte is a former war correspondent and a writer of acclaimed literary thrillers.

Scroll Down for March Releases and Latest Buzz.....


Reminder: Every title mentioned on this blog is listed alphabetically in the Book Index on the sidebar.. ALso a direct feed to the Wall Street Journal Book and Lifestyle Section is just a click away.

Welcome to all my new Blog Followers and Advertisers!

And here's the latest buzz....


Harlan Coben is a popular bestselling author of sixteen New York Times bestsellers. He's won the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony Awards. Not everyone respects his work but if you're looking for a fast paced, exciting, action packed novel, he never disappoints.
STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben

Stay Close
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Three people are hiding secrets, living lives that make them miserable and dwelling on events in their pasts. They are confronted with the boredom of suburban living and the excitement of temptation not realizing that the events that occured long ago can still ruin their lives. (Sounds exhausting)

Reviewers said "Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that proves he is the master of domestic suspense"

Publication Date: March 20, 2011

                    THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone 

THE EXPATS was released March 6th to excellent reviews.
Click the title in the BOOK INDEX to read an earlier review.

MUDWOMAN by  Joyce Carol Oates

MUDWOMAN will be released on March 20, 2012.
Click on the title in the BOOK INDEX in the sidebar to read a synopsis.


Product Details

 BY BLOOD by Ellen Ullman

EAVESDROPPING... If you had an office next to a psychologist and the walls were paper thin, would you listen to the therapeutic sessions taking place? I admit, it would be tempting. But enough about me.....

BY BLOOD by Ellen Ullman tells the story of an eavesdropping professor who becomes totally fascinated with an unnamed patient in treatment close by.

The professor's curiosity turns to obsession as he gradually becomes a compulsive voyeur. Eventually he takes action (anonymously) to help the patient and that's where the real trouble begins.

The setting is San Francisco in 1970 and the haunting story deals with  flawed characters that are searching for their heritages.

Most reviewers label BY BLOOD a "slow  starter" but well worth persevering.
This is not a "beach read" by any means, but a very powerful story told by a well respected author.

Who can resist the fascination of listening to someone's therapy session?
(That's a rhetorical question...)


Have I read every book on this blog, you ask? I've read enough of them, but I also have a stable of readers, bloggers, and reviewers that chime in and express their views. (Without asking, I might add!)

.I am basically an artist who is addicted to books. I'm not a book critic by any means, but that doesn't stop me. You may disagree with my opinions and that's a comment and let me know.

In the words of the infamous Joan Rivers "let's talk"........

Here's some suggestions for March......

         THE STARBOARD SEA by Amber Dermot

I recently read a review of this book in a local paper and was immediatly attracted. I like coming of age stories and this is a tale of wealthy, spoiled rotten prep school kids behaving badly. However the  redeeming features are, it examines the abuses of class privilege, the cost of keeping secrets, tells a bittersweet story and has a lot to do with sailing.

Product Details
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 Basically The Starboard Sea is a moving novel about a young man coming to terms with himself and what he has done.

Author, Amber Dermont has touched on the dangers and the joys of young adulthood and created an impressive first novel.

Not sure if this novel is book group worthy (depends on the group) but it's an easy and enjoyable read.

I wrote these comments before the NEW YORK TIMES reviewed the book. Their review was a positive one with a lot of references to the sailing aspect.

            HALF-BLOOD BLUES by Esi Edugyan

AMAZON BEST BOOK of the MONTH, March 2012 and also a 2011 BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST, this novel loops from Nazi-occupied Berlin and Paris to modern-day Baltimore and back. Reviewers labeled this a "musical novel about the cultural cost of racism and what we're willing to surrender for love and art."

In part this is the story of two black American jazz musicians and their German colleagues whose music is suppressed by the Nazis in 1939 Berlin. 

Click Image to Order From Amazon
 The book is well written and gripping with an interesting plot twist. HALF-BlOOD BLUES leaves you wondering, and somewhat haunted by the characters and their story.  

Recently released in paperback and e-book this book comes highly recommended.

Esi Edugyan and Prizewinning Book Cover