BOOKS I'M NOT READING (12/02/2012)

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My "To Be Read List" is so unwieldy that I probably won't get to this book until 2013. Besides, it  doesn't really appeal to me so I'm in no rush. It's on every Best Book List of 2012. What's up with that?
Let me know what you think....

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk  by Ben Fountain 

A finalist for the National Book Award, this novel tells the story of an intense firefight between Iraqi insurgents caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew.

The San Francisco Chronicle called it "a bracing, fearless and uproarious satire of how contemporary war is waged and sold to the American public."

Eight surviving men become sought after heroes..slated to be part of the Dallas Cowboys halftime show. Truths emerge and life and death moments collide with real life....labeled "brilliantly conceived.."

(Recommended as a great holiday gift for a lot of people out there... uh, just not me)

For information on author Ben Fountain:

BLAH BOOKS OF 2012 (12/01/2012)

First, I need to post a disclaimer.
This is my humble opinion, and I respect and will still follow these authors..So what happened??

I looked forward to reading several of the following titles. I anxiously anticipated their debuts, mentioned them on the blog, downloaded them right away. And what did I get in return??!  BLAH! They let me down...overrated and over publicized..
See if you agree....

DISAPPOINTING FICTION OF 2012 (In no particular order..)

  • Canada by Richard Ford
  • Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates
  • NW by Zadie Smith
  • Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • In One Person by John Irving
  • Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
  • Goldberg Variations by Susan Isaacs
  • Stay Close by Harlan Coben
More to come....

I know many will disagree and that's fine..Speak your, leave a comment.. 

To access reviews, type the title into the Search Box at the top of the blog.


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Monica G. from Naples Florida often reviews books on this blog. Aside from being a world traveler, she is involved in the arts and has many talents.

Her reading taste is eclectic and I've come to rely on Monica to expose us to books that are slightly obscure, beautifully written and bordering on the unusual. THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck lives up to all those superlatives.


This summer, as I was leaving France, my sister gave me THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck. Mind you this is a sister who usually reads books on art and philosophy, making the world a better place, and enjoys books on enlightenment, so I did not know what to expect.

THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck was haunting and stayed with me continuously. When I set it down I couldn't wait to pick it up again and I almost seemed to live it.

 The book has been translated from German. It is well written but there are places that are uneven -  although it does not affect the "feel" of the book.

The location is Germany between two world wars. It begins very poignantly with the main character Helene, a nurse, the hardships she endures, and the abandonment of her son at a train station. It is a dramatic and emotionally charged start and your feelings go out to the young boy who is emotionally attached to his mother.  What would lead a mother to do that?

The book then goes back in time and looks at her life.The girls are "rescued" by a very liberal aunt who invites them to live with her in Berlin. Even though they escape their small town, they always retain a strong sense of duty towards their mother.

Martha, her sister, is a story in its own right. She is beautiful. She can't wait to leave her rural town. She becomes a nurse who becomes addicted to drugs and is gay. The sisters' relationship borders on being incestuous.

You get a look into pre WW II Berlin and the social scene of the times. Roaring Berlin and its permissiveness. Even though it is set in political times unlike many books centered on that era, it does not delve into politics but focuses on the characters. You are almost living Helene's emotions.

I can see this book being a Book Club selection. There is so much to discuss.The political background, the relationship of Helene and Martha's parents, the mental illness of her mother, the relationship of the two sisters. The character and lifestyle of the permissive aunt... Helene's loves and her losses, marriage to a German engineer who constantly reminds her she is half Jewish.

Most importantly though, the abandonment of Helen's son and its effect on him. When I researched this book after reading it, I discovered that the book was based on Julia Franck's father and his abandonment by her grandmother. Maybe it is so emotionlly charged, because it was so personal.

THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART has won several awards and in 2010 was listed in "The 1,000 books to read before you die."*

I can see why.


Another book bearing the same title was written in 1999 by a different author, Michael C. White.

THE BLIND SIDE OF THE HEART by Julia Franck is not available in ebook but can be ordered in paperback on Amazon.
Use the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar.

For more information about author Julia Franck :


*"1000 Books to Read Before You Die"

According to GOODREADS, the website for readers, it's an eclectic mix, ranging from THE HOBBIT by J. R. R. Tolkien to THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT by Mark Haddon. The list usually includes something from every genre depending on the list.....

For more list details:


NON-FICTION ALERT (11/28/2012)

Occasionally a blog reader mentions a book they consider "blog-worthy." What does that mean? Sometimes nothing, but in this case GHS who is a non-fiction expert and blog reviewer is recommending KILLING KENNEDY by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.*

If you're intrigued by the shocking events surrounding the Kennedy assassination this book is for you.

*I know what you're thinking.. Bill OReilly?!!..Aside from his controversial views and irritating personality, he is the author of several bestselling books and the host of the highest-rated cable news show in the country... 

GHS will be posting a review at a later date so stay tuned. 


Just a reminder, Amazon has great deals on everything, not just books. So click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar and do your shopping right here, right now!

A percentage of your purchase goes to charity. 

BAD SEX AWARDS (11/25/2012)

Every year the senior editor of the Literary Review organizes the Bad Sex Awards. The winner is announced at a lavish ceremony in London and "it is considered a badge of courage for the authors to attend and receive it in person."

The bad sex award was established "to draw attention to the crude and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel-and to discourage it."

A notable absentee this year was James' FIFTY SHADES trilogy. The reason being that the prize excludes pornography and explicit literature..and enough already!

Many nominations poured in for THE CASUAL VACANCY by JK Rowling, but it was decided that she failed to meet the criteria despite a "couple of queasy moments."

Notice that Tom Wolfe has been nominated for a second time along with a few other repeat offenders.


The Yips by Nicola Blake

The Adventuress by Nicholas Blake

Infrared by Nancy Huston

Rare Earth by Paul Mason

Noughties by Ben Masters

The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills

The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine

Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

If you've read anything cringe-worthy, leave a comment or email me. Have you even heard of these books?

Here's some memorable quotes.....

"We got up from the chair and she led me to her elfin grot" (Noughties by Ben Masters)

"She smells of almonds, like a plump pudding and he is the spoon."
(The Yips by Nicola Barker)
                               THE  END


It's that time of year when many of us are planning holiday
getaways. Here's some book suggestions that I think will travel well or just make for great escapes whether traveling or not.

I'm partial to fiction, so the following is a list of ten novels reviewed on this blog that will be good travel companions. I've also included short stories, history, and non-fiction for those that prefer to mix it up.


SWIMMING HOME by Deborah Levy
THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty
GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn
THE RACKETEER by John Grisham
SACRE BLEU by Christopher Moore
DEFENDING JACOB by William Landay
THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg


ASTRAY by Emma Donoghue
WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU by Mollie Ringwald


THE QUEEN'S LOVER by Francine du Plessix Gray
CAVEAT EMPTOR by Ken Perenti
BRING UP THE BODIES by Hilary Mantel

These books can be accessed by using the search box at the top of the sidebar.

HE'S DA MAN!!! (11/21/2012)


Ok.. enough with the street talk.. David Baldacci was on  a morning show today.. Cocky, self-assured, smart and a hunk..but that's irrelevant.

He's touting his new thriller, THE FORGOTTEN  featuring his  favorite character, John Puller, a military cop. Baldacci claims this book focuses on a very timely subject and that readers will not be able to put it down. (He's humble too....)

My experience with Baldacci is uneven, but obviously there is a public for his books.. I'm annoyed that the e-book is $14.99..the hardcover is 65 cents more on Amazon..but that's another story.

It sounds like a good book to take on vacation..or not....I'll be posting a review soon..once I get over my attitude. 

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I am always happy to hear from blog readers. (Actually ecstatic...) Lately I haven't found a book that really excites me and I'm tired of being so negative, so the following review reinforced my usual optimistic outlook.

MONICA G. from Naples, Florida often contributes to this blog. Her recent review of HEADING OUT TO WONDERFUL by Robert Goolrick is a positive one.


"I just finished reading "Heading out to Wonderful" by Robert Goolrick. I enjoyed it because of its uniqueness. It is set in rural America and tells the tale of a man who shows up in a small town and how he ultimately affects everyone.

It showed prejudice, passion and love, a lovely and touching relationship between the main character, Charlie Beale and the young boy in the book, Sam which I think ultimately changed the boy's life forever.

The Church played a prominent role in the lives of the townspeople and the main character, Charlie Beale. It demonstrated how people are so influenced by their church that they disregard their own instincts and often make disasterous choices.

On another level, passion for a woman led to complications and relationships were exposed and changed.

I enjoyed this book as the characters felt realistic and well developed. HEADING OUT TO WONDERFUL depicted, in a powerful way, how prejudice, obsession and small town morals can affect lives."

Robert Goolrick is the author of The Reliable Wife. For more information about the author go to his website.

To access an earlier review posted on 06/07/2012), type HEADING OUT TO WONDERFUL in the Search Box at the top of this blog. 


The Lawgiver
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We all remember Marjorie Morningstar, The Caine Mutiny, War and Remembrance, The Winds of War, to name just a few of Herman Wouk's award winning classics. At ninety seven he's written an epistolary novel about Moses titled THE LAWGIVER.

Newly released and according to critics, Wouk has found a way to relate the tale of a group of people attempting to make a film about a present day Moses....and yes it's got some Hollywood references and emails and transcripts and memos...but it works.

The intriguing characters also include Wouk and his wife Sarah. Reviewers called THE LAWGIVER "witty, brisk, satirical and suspenseful."

Oh yes, it definetly tells a lively story and could even be considered a romantic comedy (with a touch of Marjorie Morningstar.) At ninety seven years old Herman Wouk has fulfilled his long time wish to write about Moses and achieved his goal in an original and exhuberant way.

To learn more about Herman Wouk click on:

BEST KEPT SECRET (11/12/2012)

The following email was sent to me by a blog reader in response to a review of a recently discovered memoir.

The review of SOME GIRLS, SOME HATS AND HITLER by Trudi Kantor was posted on 10/16/2012. It's the personal story of Trudi Kantor, a Jewish hatmaker trying to flee Nazi occupied Vienna with her paramour.

To access the review and  photo of Trudi Kantor, type the title in the Search Box in the upper right corner of the blog.  

Hello Joyce!
I finished Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler this evening. I very much enjoyed it. I found it a very unusual memoir and beautifully written, very real and very much true to life.
I note that you have a photo of Mrs. Kantor on your review, where did you find it? I've done some web searching for a photo of her, but was unsuccessful.

Thanks for your review of this excellent book, by the way.
Best Regards,

(Most of the images on this blog are courtesy of Google Images or Amazon)


A special thankyou to blog readers who have recommended books this week. I've included your comments and look forward to hearing from more of you.

Please continue to let me know what books you like (or don't like) and if you have a book group that's reading something of interest or something uninteresting, let me know. You can leave a comment below, or send me an email. Check the Navigation Bar at the top of the blog under Find Me for details.

This month (and I'm celebrating all month) is the one year anniversary of Joyce's Choices and thankyou to everyone from all over the world (yes, really!!) for taking the time to stop by.

SECRET DAUGHTER (11/09/2012)

Recently a blog reader, Carol K. recommended SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Smaya Gowda. This is a debut novel and has become an international best seller, translated into 20 languages.  The author, Shilpi Smaya Gowda was born and raised in Canada to parents who migrated from Mumbai.

SECRET DAUGHTER tells the story of how a devastating decision to give away a child leads to a haunting and bittersweet search. It's a poignant story about family, India and deftly moves between two cultures.

Carol K. enthusiastically endorsed this book. Reviewers also gave it high praise when it was released in 2010. Click on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar to purchase SECRET DAUGHTER.

TO READ OR NOT TO READ (11/08/2012)

Two of my favorite authors have let me down completely! Tom Wolfe, how could you!! I waited for months for your new novel, BACK TO BLOOD, gave you kudos before it even debuted and it's a big disappointment. I loved Bonfire of the Vanities. I could relate to almost every character..What happened?!!

Ian McEwan...Your new novel SWEET TOOTH even annoyed the New York Times. We all used to love your nasty, disagreeable characters, but this novel feels contrived and disappointed so many reviewers, and many of my blog readers too! 

To read or not to read...that is the question..I'm sure they'll be best sellers  but my reaction is...not to read!


The following post quickly touches on two recommendations from blog readers. Stop what you're doing and take a look..unless you're already looking...( I think I've had too many Martinis!)

Blog reader Betsy S. recommended WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ANNE FRANK by Nathan Englander. This is a collection of short stories that don't have much to do with Anne Frank, but you'll eventually understand the title. What you can expect is a wonderful collection of entertaining and thought provoking stories written with great skill.

NOTE: Type the title in the Search Box at the top of the blog and you'll find an earlier reference. 

Carla R. is reading CATHERINE D'MIDICI  by Leonie Frieda. This is a critically acclaimed biography based on thousands of private letters. "It tells the story of one of the most influential women to wear the crown while battling extraordinary political and personal odds." (A must-read for history buffs) 

Click on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar for more details.


Yes, it's my anniversary....well, not really....It's Joyce's Choices anniversary!

A year ago I wrote my first post..I was happy to have a few followers (all family) and maybe a handful of readers(also family). I knew nothing about blogging. (And still have a lot to learn.)

But now I have over 16,000 page views and over 100 followers.(Go figure.) Reading has always been a joy for me and I can blab all I want about it and no one looks bored..because, of course I don't see you.

I'm thankful for all the knowledge I gained about blogging..mostly from all the tireless bloggers out there, especially  those at who are always so willing to share their skills and ideas. And what would I do without my BFF Google?

And a special thankyou to my friend Marlene P. who initially pushed me into this, and wants to know why I'm not making any money!! 

Hopefully you'll continue to read the blog, maybe leave a comment, or at least check in every so often and please don't take it too seriously...except for the non- fiction and memoirs!