Recently several Blog Readers emailed comments on books they are currently reading. Here's what they had to say....Feel free to add your opinion at the bottom of this page...

BLOOD AND BEAUTY by Sarah Dinant
"An easy read...similar to a Hilary Mantel saga but thankfully scaled down...The Borgias  are transformed into characters full of lust and life...Filled with page turning drama"

FROG MUSIC by Emma Donoghue
"Disappointing, not up to her usual standards, not as engrossing as ROOM..confusing narrative..."

NO BOOK BUT THE WORLD by Leah Hager Cohen
"Beautifully written, had to slog through and then left it unfinished...OY"

ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline
Compelling story...great characters...well written"

Do you agree? Leave a comment below....


Are books called Summer Reads or Beach Reads actually worth reading? In some cases they can be classified as mindless, which is not a bad thing...or they can be fabulous potential prize winners....also a good thing. Are they mostly read in the summer on the beach? Or do they translate well to another season or location? 

Here's a few suggestions that are "seasonless," suggested by

You decide.....

WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart (Fiction)

I read WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart in four hours. For those four hours, I blocked out everything else that was going on. And since I read it in manuscript back in October, I have thought about it and looked forward to sharing it with readers. For those who like taut prose, you have it here.

Our narrator is Cadence Sinclair Eastman, who is 17. She is part of the Sinclair family, which has old money, not new. Their wealth and privilege were born to, not earned. They “summer” --- and yes, they are the kind of people who use that word as a verb --- on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Cady’s mom is one of three sisters, and their father, Cady’s grandfather, is treated like a financial patriarch. But as always, there are family secrets and lots of lies and in-fighting. And Cady sees their family for what it is.

BITTERSWEET by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (Psychological Suspense)

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at her Vermont cottage, Bittersweet, where her family has held court for more than a century. However, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact. Mabel must choose to either expose the secret and be expelled from paradise, or make Ev's dark world her own.

DELICIOUS by Ruth Reichl (Fiction)

Soon after Billie Breslin takes a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine is abruptly shut down. Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II. They provide her with a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires her to come to terms with her fears.

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All proceeds go to charity. 



Not everyone reads ebooks, hard to believe...but those who like the feel of a "real book," this paperback list is for you. All three recommendations, especially The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (a Pulitzer Prize winner) received excellent reviews and are memorable reads.

To order click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar.

   THE COOKED SEED: A Memoir by Anchee Min. 

 Her 1994 memoir, “Red Azalea,” Min described coming of age during the cataclysm of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. “The Cooked Seed” picks up in 1980s Chicago, where Min — who has landed at the School of the Art Institute through wheedling and absurd luck — learns English, claws her way out of a bad marriage and takes on the challenge of raising her daughter alone.

THE BURGESS BOYSby Elizabeth Strout. 

Fractious siblings unite to help a troubled relative in Strout’s compassionate novel, her first book since the Pulitzer-winning “Olive Kitteridge.” Jim and Bob Burgess, New York lawyers with little in common, must return home to Shirley Falls, Me., after their sister’s son is accused of committing a crime against the town’s Somali refugees.

THE INFATUATIONSby Javier Marías. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. 

 Marías’s novel is a murder mystery encased in a metaphysical inquiry. For years his narrator, María, has idealized the lives of Miguel and Luisa, the couple she sees each morning in the same cafe. But when Miguel is killed by a stray madman and María offers her condolences to Luisa, what began as mere observation becomes an increasingly complicated entanglement.


Leah Hager Cohen is one of my favorite authors. She's adept at fiction and non fiction. THE GRIEF OF OTHERS was spellbinding and her writing style was crisp and lyrical. I anxiously anticipated her latest book, NO BOOK BUT THE WORLD released this month..

I am halfway through, too invested to throw it aside, although right now that's my inclination...but I'll persevere, hopefully waiting for it to either completely deteriorate or be absolutely brilliant (It could go either way...) I'll keep you posted...

Here's what Amazon said:

At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, shared a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations and each other’s presence. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness or vague impairment, but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of evaluation or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.

Decades later, then, when Ava learns that her brother is being held in a county jail for a shocking crime, she is frantic to piece together what actually happened. A boy is dead. But could Fred really have done what he is accused of? As she is drawn deeper into the details of the crime, Ava becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to reach her brother and explain him—and his innocence—to the world.

Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous story that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.

To order click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar. All profits go to charity

A DEFINITE MAY-BE (05/11/2014)

Recently a blog reader recommended THE HIDDEN CHILD by Camilla Lackberg, an author unknown to me. It seems that this "unknown" author has sold over four million books in her native Sweden. She's starting to make her mark in America and according to several blog readers, this Swedish crime writer is an author you'll remember as "The Swedish Agatha Christie."




The brilliant new psychological thriller from worldwide bestseller Camilla Läckberg—the chilling struggle of a young woman facing the darkest chapter of Europe's past.

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother's possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family's past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother's circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers.

Two days later he meets a violent death. Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica's husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother's wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica's past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be . . .


Camilla Läckberg worked as an economist in Stockholm until a course in creative writing triggered a drastic career change. Her novels have all been #1 bestsellers in Sweden, and she is the most profitable native author in Swedish history. She was the #1 bestselling female author in Europe last year and her novels have been sold in thirty-five countries. Her previous novels are The Ice Princess and The Preacher, also available from Pegasus Books. Camilla lives in a suburb of Stockholm with her husband and five children.


To order click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar.  All proceeds go to charity.

NEW THIS WEEK (05/06/2014)

Here's some quickie reviews of new releases this week. It's a mix of a little "schmaltz" and some right-on Fiction...Take your pick.

Click on the  book title and you'll be linked to for a detailed review.

IN PARADISE by Peter Matthiessen (Fiction)

In the winter of 1996, more than a hundred individuals gather at the site of a former concentration camp for a weeklong retreat. They will offer prayer and witness at the crematoria, while eating and sleeping in the quarters of the Nazi officers who sent more than a million Jews to their deaths. Clements Olin, an American academic of Polish descent, is forced to abandon his observer's role and embrace a history his family has long suppressed. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.


Nombeko Mayeki was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township. But she finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world's most secret projects. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is a story about the seventh missile, the one that was never supposed to have existed. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

RUBY by Cynthia Bond (Historical Fiction)

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, who has suffered beyond imagining, flees Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, 30-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy. Reviewed by Jennifer Romanello.

NATCHEZ BURNING by Greg Iles (Thriller)

#1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years. NATCHEZ BURNING is the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies and secrets past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage. Reviewed by Ray Palen.


FLASH BOYS (05/05/2014)

GARY S. reviews non-fiction on this blog and FLASHBOYS BY MICHAEL LEWIS hit close to home. He lived it, experienced the crash of '87, and is still a partner in a florishing family business that survived the turmoil.

Below are Gary's comments.....

FLASH BOYS is the story of our stock markets, how they have evolved and how they are—as Lewis says—‘rigged’. Lewis is a great story teller and this book does not disappoint—although at times he can over emphasize the point he is trying to make.

For me, parts of the book were really personal because I started in the financial services industry as a NASDAQ stock trader. I was in the business less than a year when the crash of 1987 occurred. Back then most trading was done over the phone and to avoid buying stock during the crash, many trading desks simply did not answer the phone. I remember that day…trying to call traders in New York, but no one ever picked up. Lewis brilliantly tracks the electronic revolution in our markets as a response to this event. Stock market regulations were a reaction to past infractions, but new regulations would somehow lead to loopholes that could be exploited.

Fast forward to today and almost all trading is done electronically. The thinking was that if all orders were ‘matched’, then human traders could not stand in the way of a fair price. High Frequency Traders (HFT’s) found a way to exploit the system—legally. Basically, HFT’s—according to Lewis—are profiting by legalized front running. Front running occurs when a trader saw a large order coming (usually from his own firm) and jumped in front of it with his own order before the stock moved. Front running is riskless—and illegal.

Publicity from the book has sparked some high profile investigations and most likely trading rules will have to be re-defined. Major brokerage firms and the exchanges themselves are partly to blame too, according to Lewis, because they knowingly allow it and reap huge profits from the order flow.

In their defense, the HFT’s say that investors benefit by smaller spreads—the difference between the bid and ask (which is true) and better transparency (also true). But the fact remains that HFT’s have found a way to trade faster and capture big bucks.

FLASH BOYS  by Michael Lewis can be ordered directly from this blog. Click on the Search Box in the Sidebar or on the book in the graphic.