MAYBE YES, MAYBE NO, IT'S MAY! (05/03/2012)

Finally May is here...a  busy month for new releases. Some titles have received favorable reviews, some not so much. Here's three you may.. or may not want to consider....

John Irving is one of my favorite authors.  Even the cover of his newest novel is daring and exciting. IN ONE PERSON is a book that makes us proud of our differences.

Without giving away too much, IN ONE PERSON is a compelling novel of desire, secrecy and identity. It tells the story of a bisexual man, his friends and his lovers portrayed in John Irving's inimitable style.

Reviewers said "This is a brave and affecting depiction of how in one life(sexual and otherwise) we contain multitudes." (That says it all...)

And did I mention that reviewers are labeling it "a gripping page-turner and a beautifully constructed work of art"

John Irving is the author of The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980.  He has had nine acclaimed international best sellers and IN ONE PERSON is his thirteenth novel.

To order IN ONE PERSON by John Irving, click on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar. It will be released May eighth.

Anna Quindlen

This is a May release that will please Anna Quindlen fans.  LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE is a memoir that focuses on looking back and looking ahead..and celebrates all of it.

This book will appeal to a special audience..probably women in Quindlen's age group whose lives are similar.  She talks about "having it all" and living for the now, to love life and "not focus on the destination."

Girlfriends, Marriage, our bodies, and parenting are some of the topics Quindlen discusses.  Her candid observations and descriptive skills tell the reader to "get a life" in the nicest possible way.

Anna Quindlen writes so well that the reader is immediately drawn into the rhetoric.

It's a book to keep in your library,  on your coffee table, or pass on to a loved one.

There are some valuable lessons to be learned in LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE but no matter what Anna Quindlen says, growing old is a bitch! (My opinion)

Nell Freudenberger

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This book has been  favorably reviewed in all the mainstream papers. It has been called a "genuinely moving story about a woman who is trying to negotiate two cultures, balancing her parents expectations with her own aspirations, ambitions, and romantic yearnings"

The novel basically concerns a woman who leaves her family in Bangladesh to live in America as the wife of a man she met on the internet.

There's lots of cross-cultural tension, aging parents issues, many truths revealed, but overall it is a story that takes the reader from the backyards of America to the villages of Bangladesh. 

Watch THE NEWLYWEDS climb to the top of   the bestseller list.


Are you ready for summer reading? The time has come to talk
"beach reads" and here's my first suggestion.

FALL FROM GRACE by Richard North Patterson hit the book charts last month to mixed reviews but there are some redeeming features. It takes place on Martha's Vineyard, has lots of juicy flashbacks and some demented twists. True, it's not his best work...but it's summer, so relax...

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The tale is not a new one, that of an exiled son returning home after the death of a parent. The son happens to be a CIA operative who is drawn into the mystery that surrounds his father's death.

Through the course of events, he comfronts issues from his past, lots of family dynamics, and of course betrayal and love. (It'll hold your interest.)

This is Patterson's twentieth novel, but at 276 pages it's a quick read and you'll be finished in time for cocktails ....or in time to see Patterson teeing off, if you're on the Vineyard..(I hear he could use a lesson or two..)

A to Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants
by the American Horticultural Society

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Do you have an interest in gardening? I reviewed this book in November (Don't ask me why..) but now that it's May it's time to actually put it to use. Phyllis H, a blog reader from Albany, New York highly recommends it.

This is more than a plant guide, it's a reference for the novice gardner as well as the more experienced. Included are lavish illustrations, basic gardening techniques and a wealth of botanical and practical information.

Not a gardner? Enhance your coffee table!

MONTHLY RUNDOWN (04/30/2012)

April is coming to a close and here's a rundown of every book mentioned this month. If you want more details, go to the Book Index on the sidebar or just scroll down the blog.

A Silence of Mockingbirds by Karen Spears Zacharias
Calico Joe by John Grisham
The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva
The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
American Spy by Olen Steinhauer
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
Stay Close by Harlen Coben
The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
The Time Weaver by Thomas A. Knight
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

All these titles are available on Amazon simply by using the Amazon Search Box on the sidebar. Any income derived from sales on Amazon goes to charity. (Income?...that's a hoot!)


I'm a fan of National Public Radio (NPR). Although it's often a challenge to locate on the dial, (especially while driving) once it's on, I'm ready to be enlightened.

For those who may not be enlightened yet, NPR delivers all the news, top stories from business, politics, health, science, music, arts and culture. The book news is always fresh and new and I trust their reviewers.

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The Diane Rehm Show has been recognized as one of the top ten most powerful programs in public radio. I can't believe she's 73...Young outlook and young face (suspiciously young...)

Today A SILENCE OF MOCKINGBIRDS:The Memoir of a Murder by Karen Spears Zacharias was reviewed and I'm still reeling.

Zacharias is an investigative journalist who became  personally involved in a high profile murder of a child destroyed by heedless caretakers.

A SILENCE OF A MOCKINGBIRD, although a memoir,reads like a mystery and sheds light on a problem that can no longer be ignored. (Remember Casey Anthony..)

You won't be sorry you read this book. Although troubling, it's an addictive read, impeccably written, with an important message

Diane Rehm on NPR

A HOME RUN (04/ 26/2012)

GHS is an avid reader of all things non-fiction. He's my go-to person for history, business, current events and his new fave, John Grisham. He's read almost all of Grisham's books and here's his review of CALICO JOE, Grisham's newest tome.

I really enjoyed the new novel from John Grisham – Calico Joe. The book is about baseball, relationships and redemption—all set in the world of Major League Baseball. Like most Grisham novels, the story develops very quickly with plenty of foreshadowing that kept me turning the pages wanting more. 

The chapters are short and crisp with flashbacks to 1973 (where the story starts). The baseball stories were vivid and lifelike—making references to real players, sportscasters and actual events. Paul Tracey is the lead character and narrates the story. Paul is an adult now and tells his story with flash- backs to the past, helping the reader understand his present situation.

In 1973, Paul’s Dad, Warren Tracey was a pitcher for the Mets and had many shortcomings as a Dad. Joe Castle was a rookie player for the Cubs and was the best rookie player Major League Baseball had ever seen. (He was called Calico Joe because he was from Calico, Arkansas). But then, in the summer of 1973, during a game between the Cubs and Mets, Warren threw a pitch to Joe that would change their lives forever.

Calico Joe is much more than another book about baseball, but rather a story about sons and Dads—and the search for redemption—before it’s too late.
Oh No! Another baseball book....

To Order CALICO JOE Use the Amazon Search Box on the Sidebar.


Many of you may remember THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach, a best seller this winter and recipient of numerous accolades.

Well, I hated it and not being a baseball lover I thought Grisham's book was going to be another boring no hitter.

To my surprise, I am enjoying Calico Joe, even with the baseball references.  Stay tuned...


Author Spotlight is a new feature on Joyce's Choices. Occasionally a blog reader submits a name of a favorite author and I will highlight it on the blog.

This week, blog reader Marlene P. from Massachusetts recommended Daniel Silva, a best selling American author of 14 thriller and espionage novels.

The main character, Gabriel Allon, an art restorer, assassin, and spy is the protagonist and is featured in most of Daniel Silva's thrillers.   

Silva was a former journalist, CNN producer, Middle East correspondent and started his first novel THE UNLIKELY SPY in 1994. When published it became a New York Times best seller and he then decided to pursue a full time writing career. 

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 His novels MOSCOW RULES (2008), THE DEFECTOR (2009), and THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR (2010) became instant best sellers. His newest novel is THE FALLEN ANGEL. (2012)

Daniel Silva is married to NBC Today Show's national correspondent, Jamie Gangel. They live in Washington, D. C. with their two children.

Marlene P. added that these books are especially exciting on tape. 

ALL EARS (Pulitzer) TO ONE EAR (Van Gogh) (04/20/2012)

THE SWERVE by Stephen Greenblatt just won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. Evelyn Karet, a well known Art Historian, Author, Visiting Scholar at Clark University, and of course, a blog reader gave this book high praise.

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The celebrated author, Stephen Grenblatt crafts an exciting work based on a true story of discovery. A manuscript found on a library shelf changes the course of human thought and helped establish a new world.

Reviewers said that "SWERVE is one of those brilliant works of non-fiction that's so jam-packed with ideas it literally boggles the mind"

Greenblatt,  also a professor at Harvard has written a tense, exciting story of how we became what we are today.

To quote Dr. Karet " A really wonderful book about humanism and the Renaissance.."

The Swerve was also a recipient of the 2011 National Book Award.

On a lighter note, scroll down to SACRE BLEU by Christopher Moore...A novel that finds the funny in Van Gogh in this romp with can-can girls, art history and cognac!  A lethal combination but a lighthearted one...
 Handy Pencil Holder

LEND AN EAR TO VAN GOGH (04/18/2012)

In 1890 the artist, Vincent Van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself...Really?...and so on this premise of doubt, SACRE BLEU by Christopher Moore was conceived.

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This book is a tongue in cheek comedy full of art, death, mystery, and quirky characters. Art history is  irreverently rewritten by this author...but with inventive prose and poignant imagery.

Moore decided to write this novel based on the color blue. "Maybe it's a clue to Van Gogh's untimely death" Moore says.... 

Sacre Bleu is "an engaging and imaginative look at the impressionist era"
Or, as it says in the prelude: "Blue, she is like a woman."  (whatever that means....)
A fun read!

TIME FOR A THRILL (04/16/2012)

This past week I've included just about every genre available. It's now time to focus on some quick thrills and Olen Steinhauer is the next best thing to John Le Carre. His latest book, AN AMERICAN SPY is a stunning international thriller, multilayered and complex.  

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If you are a mystery fan and like a good old fashioned spy novel, this book is for you. Although it's the continuation of a series, reviewers have said it easily stands on its own.

The experience of reading AN AMERICAN SPY will require you to pay strict attention. There are a multitude of characters and lots of
confusing elements.

This is a challenging read but a first rate spy story. AN AMERICAN SPY is part of Olen Steinhauer's Tourist spy series.


 A blog reader recommended THE SHOEMAKER'S WIFE and labeled it an
 "unforgettable epic of historical proportions" and she's not kidding....almost 500 pages. Here's a quick run down....
 by Adriana Trigiani

This is a novel inspired by a true story and according to the author took over twenty years to write. Although it's a borderline romance novel, you'll find it a somewhat overly detailed intense read. (Which can be a good thing...)

To Order use Amazon Search Box  in Sidebar

 The story focuses on two teen lovers who are separated, but more than that, the novel tells a larger tale of the immigrant experience in America. 

If you're looking for an epic, romantic read replete with love, family, angst and schmaltz* this book is for you.

Disagree? Leave a comment or email

*Translation of Schmaltz.."Rendered chicken fat" or in this case, mushy, overly sentimental......but still flavorful.

CALICO JOE by John Grisham   (04/10/2012)

John Grisham's latest book was released today. It's a bit of a departure and tells the tale of a father and son set in the world of Major League Baseball. Fortunately for me it's not a baseball book, but  focuses on relationships and family.

John Grisham has always been a baseball fanatic and weaves a heartwarming tale in Calico Joe about a near fatal throw and it's aftermath thirty years later.

Reviewers have labeled Calico Joe a "pleasant, midseason afternoon in the ballpark when the home team finally wins."  Today is the first day "in the stands" so we'll see if Grisham strikes out. I hope not...I'm a fan.

To Order Use Amazon Search Box in Sidebar

Let me know your thoughts.....Is it a good spring opener or a no-hitter?

HE'S BAAAAACK...... (04/10/2012)

Stephen King is debuting another weird book..His fans will be thrilled. THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE will be released April 24th.

This book is part of King's Dark Tower series but reviewers say the book stands alone and is a "haunting journey into a strange world"...But isn't King's world always strange? Actually it's called "mid-world"..go figure..

King is the author of more than fifty books and mostly all are best sellers. If you are a Steven King follower, don't miss The Wind Through the Keyhole. You can post a review right here!


                       Pre-order now on Amazon Searchbox on sidebar.



As you scroll down, be sure to check out the review by Alan Bressler of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James. This book is sold out in book stores but still available at Amazon. Click on the Amazon searchbox to order now.  

E. L. James, (image below) is the author of this erotic novel. Who would have thought?

"YES! I wrote it...every sado-masochistic word!..So there!



Since I started this blog I tend to read three or four books simultaneously and always on my kindle. In addition, I am reading book samples and searching for my next favorite recommendation.

Currently I am reading FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James to see what all the fuss is I don't already know!

 STAY CLOSE by Harlan Coben is still a predictable, disappointing book. I've kept an open mind but I'm done...(read half) 

I really like THE BEGINNERS GOODBYE by Anne Tyler (so far) and I don't care how iffy the reviews were, her writing is always rich and her stories quirky. Stay tuned...

I would highly recommend THE BEGINNER'S GOODBYE. Quirky doesn't begin to describe the  characters in this book..The novel is a penetrating look at human foibles combined with a gentle look at the grieving process. Tyler's humor is showcased in subtle ways in this deceptively simple book and I'm savoring every word....


THE TIME WEAVER by Thomas A. Knight was given to me by Jenifer Clement Stockdale, the author of This Was My House First.(Refer to Book Index) 

It's my first science fiction/fantasy novel and I am anticipating an exciting and unusual read. The author, Thomas A. Knight donates a good portion of his royalties to a charity that provides computers to families and children in need.

For me that's incentive enough to delve into a genre that I am not familiar. I will post a review at a later date....if I'm not scared out of my wits!

To Order Use The Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar
Thankyou Thomas A. Knight, author of The Time Weaver for your comment.

                        Click on a Kindle for Details


I need to take a break from Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. It's an exhausting journey on many levels....
Click on Amazon Search Box to Order

THE LIFEBOAT by Charlotte Rogan has a lot of appeal. This  Connecticut author has written all her life, but kept it a secret. Now in her fifties, she has debuted a novel and it's getting great reviews. 

It's the summer of 1914 and an ocean liner suffers an explosion. The castaways battle all the elements including one another.

The narrator is writing her account in preparation for a court case, so the reader knows some serious trauma has occured and will be accounted for in a court of law.

That's the hook and it's a good one. "THE LIFEBOAT has petty jealousies,
shrouded motives, moral dilemmas,and psychological complexities"

                                               What more could you want?

                      Clear the decks for THE LIFEBOAT by Charlotte Rogan


Alan Bressler is a semi retired executive, entrepreneur, avid reader, philanthropist, athlete, kayaker...(I could go on and on)...  Most of all he's  dearly admired by friends and family and doesn't care if his name is used in connection with FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James


Here are Alan Bressler's comments:

"The book is a little bit like the Hunger Games series in that once you start it you want to see what happens next. Not great writing in either series but when you are coining money that fast, why should the author care!! The question in my mind is “How do women view this book- and as Maureen Dowd in a New York Times article put it- “Is this where women’s lib brought us to?”

No question that the book fulfills a great fantasy for both men and women..for men- we all wish we were 27 again and, if we were, to be built like Mr. Grey. For women, what fantasy does this fulfill? There is no question that great indignation will arise among women of our generation and the next, but in order for this book to be so widely read with publicity fostered by word of mouth, there is no question that it definitely fulfills a significant gap in people’s fantasy lives.

Does this mean a “wish list” or “dream fulfillment” for women who do not and have not in the past experienced the explosive orgasms as portrayed in the book? Or for men, does the wish fulfillment mean that they would like to have performed as Mr. Grey does with such a willing subject as Ms. Steele?

Just think of the book as a fantasy for adults as Harry Potter and Hunger Games were for adolescents. If your sensibilities can handle subject matter like this just read it for fun and thrills. There will be some who pick it up and get through the basic premise of the book and then angrily put it down and wonder why a woman would write this type of “nonsense”.

I have no doubt, however, that many of your circle of blog followers will read the book end to end and then castigate its author as a purveyor of trash even as they read the last paragraph with “desire burning their loins”!!!!! But few will admit to really enjoying it and admitting that it thrilled and titillated them."

Alan Bressler

What do you think of this review?

Post a comment or email your opinions....or are you too titillated to write?!!