People bring books to my attention all the time..which is great. Sometimes they're books I want to read, sometimes they're books I relegate to TBR status... The following three I definetly want to read. They're downloaded and I'm ready.

Here's a quick overview....


About a family overcoming the loss of their son, a journalist in Iraq. A reviewer called it "an emotional whirlpool, but in a good way. Great characters and writing."

THE MIDDLE STEINS by Jami Attenberg

Written with great compassion and humor it tells the story of a woman struggling with her enormous weight gain. It's ultimately the story of marriage, obsession and family.

UPDATE: (10/30/12)
I am captivated by this novel. It's fresh and fun..although self-destruction is the theme. I love the complex characters with all their unlikeable traits. Middlesteins is a brief novel but heartfelt, funny, and feels very true. 

HOW TO GET INTO THE TWIN PALMS by Karolina Waclawiak

A real Los Angeles tale about assimilation and estrangement. The main character aspires to be accepted into a certain culture. It's unique and well written.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a book you'd like to recommend? Let me know by leaving a comment on this blog or sending an email to

REMINDER: Books can be ordered directly by clicking on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar.

INTERVIEW ALERT! (10/28/2012)

Today's New York Times Book Review Section featured an interview with John Grisham. It's witty, a bit caustic and very revealing.  Be sure to read it at:

The review for his new release, THE RACKETEER is posted below,  dated 10/17/2012


Book Groups are so diverse, not just in their book choices but in the style of discussions that take place. Here's a book group update from West Hartford, CT. They recently read and discussed Defending Jacob by William Landay.
BEV G writes:

Moral quandaries.....courtroom drama.....marital disintegration....

"Defending Jacob" by William Landay has it all. A loving but deluded (self-deluded?) father wades into an ethical quagmire trying to defend Jacob. An equally loving but clearer-eyed mother resorts to a desperate plan of action. How would each of us react? Don't tune in next week because we don't know.

Not all bookies agreed on the quality of the writing, but the quality of the discussion was top-drawer.

Type the title in the Search Box for another review of Defending Jacob. (02/06/2012)

And for more Book Group Buzz type Book Groups in the Search Box.


Comments are not a big thing on my blog, but when I ask some blog readers via email, what they are reading, the responses keep coming. Email communication is fine with me, as long as I get some feedback.

So here's what a few blog readers wrote in response to my question, "Are you reading anything exciting lately?"(Because I'm not..)

Faye L. from Florida said she really is enjoying City of Women by David Gillham. Having just returned from Berlin, this book was of great interest to her. It chronicles a German wife drawn into an affair with a Jew but paints a picture of Berlin and Germans in a favorable light.

Betsy S. from Philadelphia has reviewed books on this blog and I can always rely on her for a timely on target suggestion...and she didn't disappoint.

Betsy said she liked The Tigers Wife by Tea Obreht and When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams.

I had never heard of When Women Were Birds, so I'll focus on that. After doing some research and checking reviews, it sounds like a very unusual book.

A gift of her mother's journals that were blank was the catalyst that inspired Terry Tempest Williams to write this very powerful piece. Reviewers said it's not a's not fiction but it's timely in that it also reflects the political climate affecting women today. See what you think..Betsy S. highly recommends it. 

You can click on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar for more information on the books mentioned above. 


GHS, is a young business executive and occasionally writes non-fiction reviews on this blog. He recently read THE PRICE OF POLITICS by Bob Woodward and included the review in a monthy newsletter sent from his company. Below is an excerpt of the review. 

GHS said:
Bob Woodward's "The Price of Politics" covers the run up and aftermath of the 2011 federal debt limit debacle. The book has something for everyone and provides a blow by blow description of the budget and debt negotiations between Congress and the president. It is almost like observing a sporting event, in that one side offers this and the other side offers that and so on and so on.

Woodward is very evenhanded and he depicts the Washington personalities as they are. He is balanced in his treatment of Democrats and Republicans. 

It is also the story of a president who arrived in office with a minimum of experience with the political process and often Obama comes through as simply out of his depth. In some ways this is the main thrust of the story.

This book is highly detailed and Woodward effectively pieces together the secretive world of Washington policymaking using extensive documentation. Woodward shows how the broken relationship between the White House and the Capitol drove the economy to the "edge of the fiscal cliff."

The Price of Politics is an excellent book and a great literary achievement for Bob Woodward. 


Bob Woodward is regarded as one of America's preeminent investigative reporters and non-fiction authors. He is currently the associate editor of the Washington Post. He has authored and co-authored 16 non-fiction books in the last 36 years. His partnership with Carl Bernstien led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon.


The renown author Joan Didion has often leveled criticism about Woodward's reporting style saying in an essay, "Measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent."


Many of us belong to book groups. My summer group meets three times but the discussions are always so memorable it almost carries me through the winter...almost...

Nancy B., a college friend belongs to two book groups and recently sent me a summary of what they've been reading. Here it is....(And by the way, the above photo does not include Nancy or me!)

I have two book clubs - one here in our condo community and the other our longstanding coed book club which runs all year.

Our condo women's book group read two especially interesting books. The first entitled "The Right Hand Shore" by Christopher Tilgham is a novel set on Maryland's Eastern shore, a story which stretches back to Civil War days. It is a "prequel" to the author's "Mason's Retreat". A good read with excellent character depictions and a fine plot.

The second book, "In the Shadow of the Banyan" by Vaddey Ratner was also quite good. A novel, narrated by a young girl, who suffered through the terror years of Cambodia's Kmer Rouge mirrors the author's life under the years of the genocidal regime.

Our coed book club the other day discussed a non fiction book,  "Last Call, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition", by Daniel Ockrent. A fascinating read, lengthy, but chock full of information. This group always rates each book from 1 to 5. This book was given a 3. A member of the group noted that the books we sometimes rate the least, seem to generate the best discussions!

( In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner is reviewed on this blog on 08/17/12. To locate the comments and an image, use the Search Box at the top of the blog.)

Remember anything can be ordered on Amazon by using the Amazon Search Box on the sidebar.

What's your book group reading? What are you reading that you think is book group worthy? Leave a comment...

HE'S BAAAAACK...... (10/17/2012)

To Order Click on Amazon Search Box
THE RACKETEER by John Grisham is set to be released October 23rd and fans are anxiously awaiting its debut. What is it about Grisham that leaves everyone wanting and waiting for more? 

This new book focuses on the untimely death of a federal judge and an imprisoned lawyer who holds the details of the murder. THE RACKETEER has an interesting premise and is said to be an unusual take on Grisham's murder mystery style.

Reviewers promise that this thriller will be another entertaining, emotional, no-nonsense story told from the perspective of a man who has explosive information and knows how to manipulate. (The previous sentence could describe Grisham or the main character..) 

This is definetly a clever novel and nothing is as it seems...but what else is new? John Grisham is the undisputed megastar of legal it or not.


Grisham is an American lawyer and author best known for his popular legal thrillers, many made into successful films. He is an award winner and his books have sold over 250 million copies worldwide.


Grisham and his wife, Renee Jones teach Sunday School in First Baptist Church of Oxford Mississippi.


SOME GIRLS, SOME HATS and HITLER is a  recently discovered memoir written in 1984 by Trudi Kantor, a Viennese milliner.

It's part love story and part history of the Nazi's Vienna invasion in 1938. The out of print memoir was found by a British editor while browsing through a bookstore. The editor republished it recently and made it available to readers worldwide.

This is the personal story of Trudi Kantor written in her own words and in a simple and honest voice. What makes the book so intriguing is the author, Trudi Kantor herself.

Her profound account of Europe's ugliest moments differs from other Holocaust books. Some reviewers said "it reads like a poetic diary." Others felt the writing style was uneven.
Trudi Kantor

Keep in mind it's a personal account of a woman who used her connections, took chances and took action to save herself and others.

SOME GIRLS, SOME HATS AND HITLER is a realistic and indelible story, a small volume written during very troubled times.

Remember to click on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar to order this book.


COME BACK, TOM WOLFE! (10/14/2012)

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Where has Tom Wolfe been? His last novel was published in 2004. He's written mega-hits and not so mega-hits but I have always been a fan. He's fun and combative and I even like his all white suits. His writing style is "big"..big on style and big on storyline.

Wolfe's new novel titled BACK to BLOOD may be described as a comeback..but so what, he's back and with a vengeance. It's been labeled a panoramic story that takes the reader deep into the city of Miami. With his unique writing style, he depicts unbelievably
memorable scenes and introduces a melting pot of characters. 

The plot has been called "masterful" and with his usual sharp journalistic prose, Wolfe mocks the art world, reality TV, fame, journalism, the digital age and anything else that strikes his fancy. It's an exciting tale of a tense city where "everybody hates everybody."

BACK to BLOOD is  a return to form for Tom Wolfe, an even bigger and better Bonfire of the Vanities.  It will be released October 23rd. Watch it climb the best seller list.


Tom Wolfe is an American author and journalist. There is so much info about his contributions to the literary world that I couldn't do him justice. Click on



To Order Click on the Amazon Search Box

Who would have thought the actress Molly Ringwald could write a strong book of fictional essays...or could even write an essay?

Surprised? GHS, one of the reviewers on my blog caught an interview on Morning Joe this morning and came away with an entire new attitude. He thought this book was a "must read."

WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU by Molly Ringwald was Amazon's Best Book of the Month in August. Reviewers praised her incite and ability to understand how families work and the stories sizzle with  portraits of modern life.(I admit I paid no attention to the hype..)

I just downloaded WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU and already like the format. The stories are intertwined and the reader is left looking for the thread. I've read three of the stories so far and I have to say it's excellent literary fiction. The characters have depth, the dialogue is authentic and I can't wait to get back to it.

This is a debut novel from a celebrity who writes with great incite and skill. Thanks GHS for alerting me..and Morning Joe too! I highly recommend this book. 


Molly Ringwald is an accomplished actress with an extensive career. The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles were her break-out films
She has written for several periodicals and newspapers and lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and three children.


Ringwald started acting at age five and is also an accomplished singer and dancer. She wrote Theatrical reviews for the Hartford Courant for several years.

PLAYING HOUSE (10/10/2012)

I love a good coffee table book and it helps to have a good coffee table to go with it. 

HOUSE by Diane Keaton showcases dwellings in an artful and very inventive way and will enhance any kind of coffee table, good or bad.

Barns, lofts, commercial spaces in a variety of locales are repurposed by well known and not so well known architects and designers. These spaces, some which are crumbling, are beautifully transformed  and revealed in ways that the reader can relate to ...or not, in some cases.

The photographs are stunning, some taken by Keaton. HOUSE is pricey to the tune of $85 but it's full of wonderful ideas and it's quirky-ness is what I would expect from this author.

Diane Keaton has presented us  with a great gift idea for the upcoming holidays, more than just a coffee-table book.


Actress, author, award winner, director, producer, photographer and screenwriter, Diane Keaton made her screen debut in 1970. She's well known for her collaboration with Woody Allen and her most famous role as Annie Hall.


Diane Keaton was born as Diane Hall and like Annie Hall hoped to be a photographer. She has also had a lifelong ambition to be a singer. 

JUST SAYIN'...(10/08/2012)

I am an Amazon Affiliate which means you have an opportunity to order anything (yes, anything) directly from this blog via Amazon. There are Amazon Search Boxes on the sidebar which enable you to order books, gift certificates and even a TV! Talk about instant gratification!!

By the way, any income this month goes to the Hyman J. Small College Scholarship Fund named after my father. This fund was established many years ago and gives financial aid to needy students.  I try to add a new  charity every month.

So make life easy, use the Amazon Search Box and order direct from Joyce's Choices!


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Remember ROOM by Emma Donoghue? I was immediately totally absorbed in this imaginative, riviting, nerve-wracking and beautifully written book. 

ASTRAY is Donahue's newest book, debuting in a few weeks.  It's a collection of 14 fact-based fictions about people who have all gone astray in different ways..wanderers and travelers. 

The protagonists in each story are emigrants, runaways, lawyers, slaves, often from different centuries to the present. There's love, money and sex..all the elements to transport readers into a world of great storytelling. 

Anne Patchett, author of State of Wonder wrote that "Emma Donoghue writes books that are unlike anything I have ever seen  and ASTRAY is no exception."

Don't miss this!
ASTRAY will be available October 30th.


Emma Donoghue is an Irish born playwright, literary historian and novelist now living in Canada. Her 2010 novel, Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and a national best seller.

Speaking at a conference in February 2011, Donoghue revealed that her next novel will be a historical fiction based on the true story of a murdered 19th century cross-dressing frog catcher.

THE FORGIVEN (10/06/2012)

I am enamoured with anything Moroccan. I spent time in Morocco several years ago and it was a trip I will always remember. The people, the heritage and the charm and history of the country captivated me. (And also the food and the shopping, of course!)

To Order Click On the Amazon Search Box
When I came upon this new novel, THE FORGIVEN by Lawrence Osborne I was immediatly attracted to the locale and then to the very intriguing story.

 It's a small novel..only 288 pages but tells an interesting tale of a clash between two cultures, each of which feels superior to the other. A British couple go to Morocco for a lavish party at a friend's vacation home. There is a car accident and a young Muslim boy is killed. The couple take the deceased boy to the vacation home where they and their hosts must deal with the repercussions.

 The real drama begins when the boy's father arrives from a distant village. Tensions between Muslim and Western ideology escalate.

Although the writing style is uneven, descriptions a little
cliche, THE FORGIVEN moves at a swift pace and will hold your interest.


Lawrence Osborne is a British novelist, travel writer and memoirist. He was educated at Cambridge and Harvard and is the author of several books. He has been published widely as a journalist writing for the NY Times, The New Yorker, Salon, Conde Nast Traveler and many more. His story VOLCANO was included in Best American Short Stories 2012.


Lawrence Osborne's recent feature in Playboy Magazine titled "Getting Drunk in Islamabad" won a 2011 Thomas Lowell Award for Travel Journalism.


This is Banned Book Week..September 30th to October 6th..It's a celebration of the freedom to read. This yearly event brings together the entire book community (Almost missed it..) and brings attention to the controversies of censorship.

There's a few current books that I think should have been banned (or at least not published).. and you know I say this in jest...sort of....

Here are two nominees:

Total Recall: My Unbelievable True Life Story
 by Arnold Schwartznegger  (Who really cares, Arnold..)

Any book by Donald Trump (Enough already, you're perfect...)

I know some of you will please leave a comment or add your own nominees....