HAPPY 2013!


Graphic courtesy of Books From Finland


The New York Times Sunday Book Review Section featured THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jamie Attenberg on 12/30/12. 

I was captivated by this novel and reviewed it under Attention Getters in November. I've been recommending THE MIDDLESTEINS to friends and family since its release. So glad the Times and I agree.

Julie Orringer, the author of THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE called it "Caustic, entertaining and a bighearted new novel." So true...

To access the NYTimes review by Julie Orringer click below:


For more information: Type the book title in the Search Box at the top of the blog.

To Order Use the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar

Illustration by Pierre Mornet


A friend on Goodreads recently posted a review of THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Toibin. This book is far removed from his previous bestseller, BROOKLYN but I thought the heartfelt comments (almost poetic) and praise were definetly worth sharing..

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
Reviewed by BA on Goodreads 

I've had to sit quietly for a bit having finished this slim, devastating volume. I am profoundly moved by Toibin's emotional range; his great sensibility and compassion; and his mastery of historical time and place; at at his magical prowess in placing both real and imagined characters into a context so pure.

Whether Henry James in "The Master"; a young Irish immigrant in "Brooklyn", or Mary, mother of Jesus, in this piece of confessional fiction, his writing and his empathy leave me in utter awe.

So slender it could be a missal or a volume of poetry, this is a piece so searing, so honest, and so heart-breaking that I think I shall carry it everywhere for the rest of my life.

For More Information: Http://www.colmtoibin.com

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY by Colm Toibin is available on Amazon.
Use the Amazon Searchbox in the Sidebar.



I received so much positive feedback about this memoir
that I am posting a new updated review.

Monica G. is an avid reader and a frequent guest reviewer. Although "Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler" by Trudi Kanter was brought to our attention several months ago, this review gives a different perspective and definetly bears repeating.

Here's Monica's review....


Being a hat lover and collector, I was first attracted to this book by the title. The book was first published in 1984 and went out of print until it was rediscovered by a British editor in 2011. The author died in Britain in 1980.

Some describe this book as a love story and it is indeed dedicated to "Walter, my love, in memory." However, the book is the personal story of Trudi Kanter, a milliner in Pre- WW 2 Vienna.

What makes the book poignant is that even though it reads like a novel, it is a true story, her story. The writing is simple but engaging. It is a very easy book to read and you cannot help but be drawn into it. The prose is simple but her short sentences deliver vivid descriptions and you can almost see the characters and settings. There are wonderful descriptions of the Vienna of Pre-WW 2.

Though the story takes place during the Holocaust, it does not focus on the horrors of the Holocaust as many books of this era do, but rather on Trudi's story.

It does portray the atmosphere of the time emphacizing the Holocaust as the background. It is her personal story. Many Jews who survived the Holocaust, did so because they had the courage to dare and were enterprising. So it was with Trudi Kanter. She used her charms and ingenuity to escape the Holocaust and at the same time to save her beloved Walter and her parents.

The story starts in Vienna where we see Trudi Kanter, a beautiful woman, who is a well known Milliner. She comes from a privileged background. She is successful and caters to the women of Vienna who despite the war, still attended to their wardrobe. She travels to Paris to view the new collections and designs her own hats. Her father is a successful silversmith and her mother a beauty.

When "Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler" by Trudi Kanter starts, she is married but falls in love with a successful businessman, Walter Elrich, who she later marries.

What comes through the whole book is this love affair and the steps she will take to save him. It also shows a woman with raw emotions, feelings, jealousies which we can relate to. It also shows Trudi's devotion to her family.

As Vienna is being invaded by the Nazis and the Gestapo, Trudi manages to escape with Walter to Prague and then to England where she finds work and later becomes very successful as a milliner

Her descriptions of England during the blitz are very vivid and there are some poignant sentences that are repeated, such as "I remember a tiny pink and white gingham dress trimmed with white rickrack" (echoes of the red coat in Schindler's list).

This is the story of one of the lucky ones.

For a previous review enter the title in the Search Box at the top of the blog.

BOOK GROUP REPORT (12/26/2012)

Bev G, a blog reader and leader of my island book group sent  this review of THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST by Mohsin Hamid. Her Hartford group thought it was a wonderful choice for discussion...short, penetrating and challenging.

JB, a member of the Hartford group wrote the following:

"A book that pivots on a smile" is how one critic describes "The Reluctant

Fundamentalist." The smile chills us and surprises the smiler himself, a

Pakistani now living the American dream. The moment is the destruction

of the World Trade Center Towers. His suppressed but subtly expressed

resentment of American arrogance percolates to the surface and the

pull of his homeland ultimately proves overpowering. The book, a dialogue

between east and west, is a plea for more empathy and understanding

on both sides. The deliberately abrupt and ambiguous ending compels

the reader to confront his or her own perceptions and judgements.

You'll find more information on THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST and author Mohsin Hamid at

To Order Click on the Amazon Search Box

The Reluctant Fundamentalist was made into a film directed by Mira Nair and debuted at the Venice International Film Festival in August 2012. It starred Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber and Kiefer Sutherland.


This was my favorite reading spot while on a recent vacation. Even though two of the three books I read were disappointing, it made them tolerable. Why not..in these surroundings?

SWIMMING HOME by Deborah Levy    

I felt like a detached observer throughout this small novel. It's a convoluted story of people on holiday when a stranger unexpectedly joins them...complications arise...you can imagine the rest.. 

Written by British playwright, Deborah Levy, SWIMMING HOME was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I couldn't wait to read this novel but found it disappointing and predictable in spite of its well written prose.

For more information, type SWIMMING HOME in the Search Box at the top of the blog.

Info for Deborah Levy at: www.deborahlevy.co.uk/about.html


This book is not for everyone but definetly for me! It's funny, sexy, political and well written...need I say more? Well, yes..

The not so nice main character, Harold Silver (A Nixon expert) finds his life runs amok after his brother kills three people in an auto accident. Harold becomes involved with his brother's family and all hell breaks loose..dysfunction galore, murder, and lots of black humor. This is high drama mixed with outrageous  fast paced situations and A. M. Homes kept me engaged throughout. 

MAY WE BE FORGIVEN is a mad, sad, clever, blatant, cannot put down, crazy ride...Never a dull moment and I loved every minute.

Info for A.M. Homes at: www.amhomesbooks.com/biography

LIFE AMONG GIANTS by Bill Roorbach

Labeled a mystery, LIFE AMONG GIANTS is slow moving and repetitive. The story is told through a young man's eyes after witnessing the murders of his parents when he's seventeen. It continues through middle age as he and his unstable sister attempt to make sense of their tragedy.

The book moves back and forth over decades revealing secrets and more secrets..characters and more characters.. focusing on a mysterious ballerina who is involved in every sub plot..introducing celebrities and rock stars...Enough already!

I felt no concern for any of the characters and kept hoping it would get better...It didn't.

Info for Bill Roorbach at www.billroorbach.com/bio.html

(Don't tell him I sent you...)

All of these books can be ordered by using the Amazon Search Box on the Sidebar.




The following books are new and debuting soon. Bound for the best seller list, here's a quick preview.

The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas (Early January release)

"A sprawling  detailed wartime tale of betrayal, secrets and tragedy" This novel takes place in India from 1940 to the present. It is historically accurate and well researched.
Reviewers called it a "vividly drawn novel." 

The Child's Child by Barbara Vine (Available now)

Barbara Vine is the pseudonym for Edgar Award winning author Ruth Rendell. This new mystery contains two parallel stories of brothers and sisters, one set in the present and the other taking place in 1929 to 1939.
A dark and sinister mystery...

For more new books, check out LOOK WHAT'S TRENDING at the top of the blog. 

Remember to use the Amazon Search Box on the
Sidebar to order these books.

THE BLACK BOX (12/24/2012)

December is a slow month for new book releases, but January will welcome many new titles.  Always check out "Look What's Trending" at the top of this page for previews of future releases.

In the meantime we can always depend on a Michael Connelly thriller to keep us connected. He's the consummate author that can "keep a character evolving and continue to produce a page turning police procedural novel."

In THE BLACK BOX, the impatient detective Harry Bosch returns and Connelly weaves an exciting tale as Bosch pursues the death of a Danish photojournalist. Reviewers call THE BLACK BOX vintage Connelly...forceful, brisk and fast paced.

Take a shopping break and read this page-turner. You'll be on a rollercoaster ride you won't forget.

An American author of detective novels and crime fiction, Michael Connelly's books have been translated into 36 languages and have garnered him innumerable awards. Many have been adapted into film. For more author info: www.michaelconnelly.com

Michael Connelly often appears as himself on the TV show, Castle.

Remember you can shop on Amazon directly from this blog. Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar


Lists and lists everywhere but this list is unique. Yes, it's  the same old holiday book suggestions but not the usual choices. You'll see why...

I hope you'll find a book that fits a friend or family member, and... gift away! There's something for everyone and the Amazon Search Box on the sidebar is the answer to everything...


How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman

Pinboy by George Browning

The Escape Artists by Noam Scheiber*

The Middlesteins by Jami Atenberg*

Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

House by Diane Keaton*

Be Good by Randy Cohen*

Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith*

Let's Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson*

Capturing Camelot by Kitty Kelley

The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle

* Featured on Joyce's Choices. Use the Search Box to access the  blog review.

NEW IN PAPERBACK (12/11/2012)

These books are ready to travel. Brand new in paperback, you'll have no concerns if they fall in the pool or get lost on the slopes. Recently released, all with good reviews, they'll definetly enhance your vacation experience.(That's if you're going on vacation...if not, they're still good.)


THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain

I love anything about Hemingway and this is a captivating read. Still unknown and living in Paris, Hemingway's life during this period is beautifully captured by the author.*


The three novellas by this brilliant author are set in India. The characters are beautifully defined and the stories are drama filled.


This is a combo detective story and spy thriller. Located in  Pakistan, Cairo, and a Polish prison, to name a few. It's a fast paced tale and riviting to the end.

Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar for more information.

*Type the title in the Search Box at the top of the blog to read an  earlier review.

"DYING FOR DOWNTON?" (12/10/2012)

To Order Click on the Amazon Search Box
Are you a fan of this wonderful period drama? THE CHRONICLES OF DOWNTON ABBEY by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis is a great gift for anyone anxiously awaiting the January debut. 
Exclusive photos, information  about  the characters, and historical details all compliment the upcoming series.

This is a must-have gift for the fan of Downton Abbey or
for that matter, anyone who has an interest in history....And your coffee table will be enhanced.

New Cast Member
Who is This?

WHAT AM I READING? (12/10/2012)

To Order Click on Amazon Search Box

Because I am traveling soon, I thought I would start a book then continue reading it on the plane. For me a "plane-worthy" book has to be totally engrossing, pleasurable, and completely tune out my surroundings. (I'm not a relaxed flyer as you probably guessed.)

SWIMMING HOME by Deborah Levy was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and sounded like a good "seatmate."

Unfortunately I didn't check the number of pages and probably would finish the book before arrival...not a good thing...  

 A story of unusual and complex characters renting a villa in France that escalates into something else. Yes, they're all depressed and unstable... Sounds like my kind of book!

Too short for my impending flight, SWIMMING HOME is a mesmerizing small novel, but I'll read it later. I'm now looking for my next "in flight book." Keep tuned...

For an earlier review of SWIMMING HOME, type the title in the Search Box at the top of the blog.
Author Deborah Levy can be found at: Http://www.deborahlevy.co.uk



Here's the perfect gift suggestion for the TV watcher in your life...and the kindle version is a steal at $7! 

THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED by TV Critic Alan Sepinwall delves into the history of the TV series from the origin to the present. Using quotes and interviews with the people involved, an  authentic vivid history is created. 

To Order Click on the Amazon Search Box
Everything from Mad Men, The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and so many more are dissected and analyzed.

This is a fun read and one you can pick up at will. A reviewer said "You will want to get back and re-watch every show mentioned with these new thoughts in mind." 

The author and critic, Alan Sepinwall is known to have changed the nature of television reviews during his 20 year career.  Catch his blog, What's Alan Watching on http://www.HitFix.com

For the TV Junkie this is a no-brainer, definetly the perfect gift.


WORD OF MOUTH (12/05/2012)

In this Word of Mouth post you'll find mini reviews and comments from blog readers, unedited, blunt and combative, but I'm so excited to get  feedback, who cares!


This is a peek into the life of Burton through actual diary entries. He writes with passion about his life..especially with Liz. If you're looking for some juicy details of the Liz and Dick Saga, this is for you. 
Two blog readers were surprised at the quality of his writing and found it  to be a "sensitive depiction of his daily life."
They thought it would be a great gift for the right person but also said "You can just read the juicy parts." 

ZOO TIME by Howard Jacobson         

The plot, which is loosely built concerns an aging novelist married to a beautiful woman but lusting after her mother.(Oy vay..) He's trying to write a book which leads to a long diatribe about the changes in publishing etc. etc....Mixed reviews for this Man Booker Prizewinning British author's newest book.

Three blog readers gave it a thumbs down...actually they said they hated it and didn't want to elaborate.

TELEGRAPH AVENUE by Michael Chabon

Reviewers called this "an amazingly rich, emotionally detailed story that depicts a specific moment in time."
Two blog readers called it "wordy, hard to get into, and a chore to read."
If you are a devout Chabon fan, you may be more tolerant...otherwise the concensus was "it's a big disappointment."

I hope to add more quick reviews, so keep them coming. If you're not sure how to reach me, click on FIND ME at the top of the blog and you can always leave a comment below.

Reminder: Books can be ordered by using the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar. After reading the above comments, why bother? Well, maybe Liz and Dick would be fun...just sayin'