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Dennis Lehane has a new novel...maybe not so new in subject matter but a colorful, complex Prohibition era chronicle. It's the second part of a trilogy, the first being THE GIVEN DAY

A blog reader, BF who is a Lehane fan raved about LIVE BY NIGHT. (Can a Lehane fan be objective?)

BF said it reminded him of the Godfather, but so what...It's a sprawling saga about a petty crook, Joe Coghlin, the son of the Assistant Chief Superintendent of the Boston Police Department. LIVE BY NIGHT picks up where The Given Day left off but the book soon leaves Boston..and BF won't reveal anymore.

The book is a departure for Lehane. It has all the elements of a good mystery but BF said it's more of an exciting, magnetic epic as opposed to a mystery.  

If you liked the Coghlin family in The Given Day, the focus on Joe Coghlin during Prohibition will keep you rivited. Film rights have already been sold...another bestseller and box office sucess, for Dennis Lehane.


Dennis Lehane has written several award winning novels including Mystic River which was made into an Academy Award winning film. Another novel, Gone Baby Gone, was also adapted into an Academy Award nominated film.

Lehane was born and raised in Dorchester, MA and continues to live in the Boston area. He teaches fiction writing at two Boston colleges. 

Little Known Fact:
Lehane appears occasionally as himself on the ABC comedy/drama TV series Castle.   


On the sidebar I now have categories rather than an endless list of the 200 plus books reviewed on this blog. It's not perfect, but you should be able to find what you want in EVERYTHING BOOKISH on the sidebar or.......just use the new SEARCH BOX!!
Yes, an actual SEARCH BOX at the top of the page.. so everything on the blog is a clickety click away.

Check out the sidebar for these spiffy new additions.

Do you like this change? Do you care? Did you even notice??

Let me know...

ANOTHER HOT NEW ONE (09/27/2012)

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I'm usually not a fan of Louise Erdrich, but her novel titled THE ROUND HOUSE (debuting October 2nd) is a devastating tale of a hate crime and the ramifications that follow. It sounds more than intriguing...

Reviewers have compared it to To Kill A Mockingbird and have called it "moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting."

Without revealing much, a woman living on an Indian
reservation in North Dakota is attacked. Totally traumatized, she refuses to reveal the circumstances. Her son takes it upon himself to find answers and is thrust into an unfamiliar world.

Reviewers are calling THE ROUND HOUSE  a "brilliant and entertaining novel about injustice..."

Sound Familar?  Injustice and hate crimes..happening everyday in our world.


Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota and owns an independent book store. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer and the National Book Awards and is the author of thirteen novels, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her most recent novel, THE PLAGUE OF DOVES was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.


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There's so much hype about new books debuting this Fall. Soon there will be hype about books debuting this December..and so it goes in the book world...Hype and more hype. I need a break..So here's a suggestion for a quiet read, released with no fanfare and a recipient of decent reviews.

A blog reader highly recommended TIGERS IN RED WEATHER by Liza Klaussmann. It's classified as a mystery, but it's much more. The time is 1946 to 1964 and the story is told from five points of view.

Basically TIGERS IN RED WEATHER focuses on the lives of two women, both slightly dysfunctional..and there are secrets! The characters are complex and the storyline provocative. The reader is snapped back in time.

TIGERS IN RED WEATHER reminded me of a Great Gatsby kind of read. If you like  drinking, boating, historical settings, and lives of the rich and famous...this book is for you. And yes, it's well written and has a great storyline. Frivolous Read or Book Group Worthy? It hovers between the two...

                                 Who Is This Author? 

This is a first novel for Liza Klaussmann. She worked for the New York Times as a jounalist for over a decade. Klaussmann lives in London where she recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway.
She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville.


Alan Bressler reviews books on this blog. We kayaked on Monday and he died on Thursday. I am totally shocked and saddened.

Many of you do not know him, but I wanted to acknowledge the wonderful legacy he left. He was a a philanthropist, a devoted family man, an innovative businessman and a booklover.

He gave so much to his community, to the music world and to
those in need...but most of all he was my friend... on the water and off...I'll miss you, Alan.

THe following books were reviewed by Alan Bressler:
In One Person by John Irving
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James


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I'm not a Harry Potter fan.. Yes, I know I'm in the minority. But now J.K. Rowling has come out with an adult novel titled The Casual Vacancy. It's 510 pages of storytelling...Everyone is very tight-lipped about the plot details.

Thursday September 27th is the big release day. The worst that can happen is she'll disappoint her fans..but she'll still make millions and can rest on her Harry Potter laurels.

What's it about, you ask?  A little town in England is left in shock when the town councilman ups and dies. The town is a Peyton Place on steroids and all hell breaks lose. There's corruption, duplicity, passion and well seasoned prose. It sounds like a black comedy but I can't tell anymore..sworn to secrecy.... 

Stay tuned for more at a later date.

10/04/12   Casual Vacancy Update

I have read about 75 pages and am still not hooked...Very slow moving...I think the reason they were so secretive about the plot is that it's a big bore! Please get better.....


I'm having a long term relationship with my Kindle.. I even use the Kindle App on my Ipad. I have no complaints and I'll be faithful until something better comes along.

The following Wall Street Journal article was sent to me by my son. He thought I would appreciate it...I do, but can't relate at all.

See what you think!

Cartoon: Kindle Problem (medium) by pinkhalf tagged kindle,technology,book,read,literature,bath,man

All books on this blog can be bought in any form directly from the Amazon Search Box located in the Sidebar.


I've read the majority of books on this blog and I have a coterie of blog readers and reviewers who have read the rest. Although the following books are appealing, I know I personally won't get to them for awhile and at 600 pages my reviewers might pause as well..

So it's up to you...

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If you're a history buff, The Malice of Fortune is a hefty novel about the politics of 16th century Italy and reviewers said "it reads like a mystery." A cast of characters that includes Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and so many more contribute to this novel of Renaissance intrigue.

Machiavelli and Da Vinci come together to unmask a serial killer and in their quest, they enter a world of "supersticion and erotic obsession."

Michael Ennis is a history professor and the author of two historical novels.

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JOSEPH ANTON: A MEMOIR by Salman Rushdie

I watched an interview with Salman Rushdie this morning. He's sexy, provocative and honest and his memoir sounds equally compelling. It's over 600 pages of great storytelling mixed with the grim realities of living a life in hiding for nine years.

Reviewers call the book "exceptionally frank and of vital importance."

An interesting note is that Joseph Anton was his alias used by the police and guards. Rushdie chose the name of two authors he loved, Conrad and Chekhov.

Many reviewers have said this reads likes a novel. I'm looking forward to it....but 600 pages?....


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You ask, what's a "Susan Isaacs"? It's like a good take the first sip and can't wait to take another! You feel happy afterwards and smirk in between....

I hate everything I've been reading. (That's a bit of an exageration, not everything). However, lately I have books I've abandoned mid stream, some I'm plodding through, and some I hope will improve.  

Anyway, a Susan Isaacs book always makes me smile. This new novel may not be the answer to my angst, but it's usually a mood changer.

Isaacs previous novels include Compromising Positions, Close Relations, As Husbands Go and many more. She's a prizewinner and chairperson of the board of Poets and Writers. Her new book titled Goldberg Variations is getting great advance reviews. (October 2nd is the due date.)


A reviewer said "Imagine King Lear as a comedy..."  

 A nasty tycoon wants to bequeath her wealth to her grandchildren, one who she barely knows. Why do they reject her "kingdom?" 
Goldberg Variations by Susan Isaacs  is a surprising novel. Another witty and deeply moving story of family, love and dysfunction.  A great combo, just what I'm in the mood for...

Stay tuned for more reviews and comments.


If an author wants to become wealthy fast, winning the Man Booker Prize will do it. Of course it's not all about money.. this award is for the best contemporary fiction of the year, a coveted prize. 

First there is the Longlist announcement in July, then the Shortlist in September, and finally the winner in October.

Here's the 2012 Shortlist and a very brief description:

  • Umbrella by Will Self    (A dark story of WW1)
  • Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil    (A poetic journey into Bombay)
  • Swimming Home by Deborah Levy  (Click on the title listed in the Book Index on the Sidebar.)
  • The Garden of Evening Mists by T. T. Eng   (A magic, misty read)
  • The Lighthouse by Alison Moore  (Reads like a very dark comedy)
  •  Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (More Cromwell or click on the title in the Book Index on the Sidebar.)
My bet is on Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel ( again..). What about you?
(If I'm wrong I can always delete this....I have no shame.)


NEED A QUICK FIX? (09/12/12)

Looking for memorable characters and a good plot? Want something you can sink your teeth into..(other than cake)...If you can wait until September 17, this is it....

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A book debuting this month is creating a lot of hype.  Do you believe everything you read? In this case, I do...Here's the latest rant.

T. C. Boyle's new book titled San Miguel is a historical novel about two families living on a desolate California island.  Set in 1888 and 1930 three women start new lives and pursue their dreams. It's perilous and pleasurable at the same time, a mix of great characters and dramatic details. 

What do reviewers say?
"A richly, rewarding saga..extraordinary story full of hope and struggle... haunting new novel"

Read more about T. C. Boyle at:
(The website is full of great info about the author. Check it out.)


WHAT'S UP WITH NW? (09/10/12)

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I just started NW by Zadie Smith and I'm not convinced I'm going to like it. The prose is unconventional and sentences are sometimes incomplete. The dialogue has no quotation marks and one passage is written in free-form poetry. There's a reason for all this, the author says and I certainly hope so.

The two main characters, Leah and Natalie are childhood friends who grew up in northwest London, a multi-racial working class neighborhood. Reviewers called NW "a portrayal of thirty-somethings and an exploration of money, morals, class and authenticity."

The narrative meanders in time and space through decades of Natalie and Leah's friendship. Hopefully it will all make some sense in the end. I enjoyed WHITE TEETH and ON BEAUTY by Zadie Smith and am wondering if NW will live up to her previous successes. Keep tuned...... 


Zadie Smith was born in Northwest (NW) London. She has published four novels, short stories and magazine articles and is currently a tenured professor of English at New York University.

For more information on Zadie Smith check out this website;

OLD BUT STLL GOOD (09/08/12)

Often a blog reader recommends a book they have really enjoyed. BG of West Hartford recently suggested PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf.

Written in 2000, it was a finalist for the National Book Award. I read PLAINSONG many years ago and recall it being a powerful, character-driven novel. (Really?..I can barely remember what I read last week!!)

BG writes:

I have just completed reading a jewel of a book, PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf. The story is simple; the setting is the Denver plains; the character's are perfectly drawn, humane and vulnerable. There is love, generosity, pain and resolution--- a very satisfying read!

PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.


Another blog reader, FL from Ohio enthusiastically recommended IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN by Kim Barnes. Released in May, this historical novel is an untraditional mystery taking place in Saudi Arabia. Reviewers have called this novel "an ambitious combination of sexism, racism, clash culture and loss." 

Kim Barnes is an award winning author. Her last book In the Wilderness was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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HOT OFF THE PRESS (09/06/12)

Lots of new releases debuting in the next few weeks. Everything from J. K. Rowling, Ken Follett, Mitch Albom, Dennis Lehane, Zadie Smith, John Grisham and many more. For actual release dates, check Look What's Trending on the Navigation Bar at the top of this page. Be sure to watch for upcoming reviews.

Remember you can buy anything from Amazon directly from this blog. The Amazon Search Box is located on the Sidebar.

WHO WANTS TO BE GOOD! (09/04/12)

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I'm reposting the review of BE GOOD by Randy Cohen. My non-fiction reviewer, Gary S. spent an hour on the phone with Randy and you'll see the conversation below....but first a little intro.    

Randy Cohen is the original New York Times Magazine's "The Ethicist." He's witty and engaging on paper and in person. For twelve years I've looked forward to his weekly column and now he's written a book.

It's equally amusing and you'll find it on bookshelves and in Ebooks now.  BE GOOD is a Q and A format with line illustrations. It will guide and help readers respond when faced with everyday sex, religion, technology, and other moral and immoral sex, affairs, technology, deceit etc....

Randy Cohen always had an answer for everything. And yes, as a long time writer on the David Letterman Show, he invented the Top Ten List. He is also an author and playwright. His column, "The Ethicist" appeared in the NY Times Magazine from 1999 to 2011. He is the author of several books and plays and is the host of the public radio show Person Place Thing.


Were you always ethically inclined, or did you evolve into an ethical expert?

It was definitely the latter. The column originated in house at the New York Times and Randy actually had to audition for 'The Ethicist'. There were about 10-12 people who were asked to audition in 1999.

Was there anyone in your life or childhood that made an impact on your career or who you are today?

Randy credits his mother, Irma as being the funniest person in his family. Irma rarely disagreed with anything Randy said...and she even had a nickname 'ICY' (pronounced ice-ey). Randy was born in Charlestown SC and the family eventually moved to Reading PA.

What was it like writing for the David Letterman show?

"It was unbelievable!"

The job was an amazing experience in that his work was valued, everyone was treated with respect and he greatly admired the work of his colleagues. Most of all it was a lot of fun! I expected to hear there were writers sitting around a table, but Randy says it was more spontaneous with creative meetings and last minute segments. Everyone was asked to contribute to the Top Ten List with Dave picking the ones he liked best.

Do you see yourself returning to writing comedy?

Randy loves writing comedy and would definitely do it again, although he prefers his independence these days. A few years ago he wrote a play called the "Punishing Blow" about a British boxer named Daniel Mendoza. Randy has a new play that is currently in  development. The story is about "what happens in love and work" and we hope to hear more soon.

I was a little dissappointed to hear that many readers of 'The Ethicist' would make a game out of it and read the questions out loud at the family table. I thought my family invented that game! What other feedback did you get from writing the column?

As it turns out, Randy attempted to capitalize on this phenomenon by creating a board game that families could play at home. The idea was pitched to Milton Bradley and there was a lot of interest in moving it forward, but the company ultimately chose not to proceed. There could be a market with online gaming, so that is still a possibility.

Since politics and government policy ultimately have a lot to do with what's right and fair, have you ever considered writing commentary or op-Ed opinion?

"Yes. I've considered it and done it"

Randy wrote a weekly article for the online edition of the New York Times called 'The Moral Of the Story'. He took regular news and spun it through an ethical filter.

(At this point Gary S. handed me the phone and I took over with a very important question...really important... )

I know you're single...Would you consider doing a Jewish Mother a favor and  let me introduce you to my wonderful daughter? (Just kidding...not really!)
To be continued...I'm not one to give up..(I hope my daughter isn't reading this!!)


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We all experience anxiety...some more than others. This book was recommended to me by my daughter.. I guess she thinks I'm an anxious she's not?..... whatever...Moving on..

MONKEY MIND by Daniel Smith is a memoir of living with severe anxiety, an illness that paralyzed his life for years. 

In an NPR interview the author said that it was imperative that his approach to anxiety be comic and in MONKEY MIND he accomplishes that feat. Smith states "Anxiety is the only funny mental illness in existence. You can't joke about depression or schizophrenia, but anxiety is so absurd that it lends itself to humor."

MONKEY MIND is a brave and insightful book.  It's brutally honest, painfully funny and promotes an accurate understanding of chronic anxiety.

By the way, I love my daughter...I check her Facebook Page, her Website, Linkedin, Pinterest, IM......ok...I'm the anxious one!

Daniel Smith began his career as a staff editor of the Atlantic Monthly. He has published articles, essays and reviews for many magazines and newspapers.
He is the author of two books: Muses, Madmen, and Prophets and Monkey Mind:A Memoir of Anxiety. Smith holds an endowed chair in English at The College of New Rochelle.