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text 2018-10-09 15:17
A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

I had no interest in the second book in this series, but this one sounds like it might be more up my alley. And, once again, the cover gods have been nice to this author. Another thing to add to my "stuff to look forward to in 2019" list.


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text 2015-04-20 00:23
Upcoming Books of 2015
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) - Marissa Meyer
Lockwood & Co. Book Three: The Hollow Boy - Jonathan Stroud
Ash & Bramble - Sarah Prineas
A Pocket Full of Murder - R.J. Anderson
Silver in the Blood - Jessica Day George
Mechanica - Betsy Cornwell
A School for Brides: A Story of Maidens, Mystery, and Matrimony - Patrice Kindl
Hold Me Like a Breath: Once Upon a Crime Family - Tiffany Schmidt
Rook - Sharon Cameron
Illusionarium - Heather Dixon

Some of the upcoming books of 2015 I'm most excited for.


Note: A Pocket Full of Murder is NOT written by David R. Anderson, but by R. J. Anderson. 




Pip Bartlett's Guide To Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce




A Whole New World by Liz Braswell



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review 2014-05-04 21:06
More of an hors d'oeuvre than an entrée
The Corsican Caper: A novel - Peter Mayle

I'm a francophile and I've read all of Peter Mayle's nonfiction books about Provence, his three Sam Levitt caper books and his other French novels Hotel PastisAnything ConsideredChasing Cezanne and A Good Year.

With his last Levitt book I joked that whenever Mayle needs some more cash to support his Provencal lifestyle, he dashes off one of these books. That quip seems not to be so much of a joke at this point. This is a very short book, more of a novella than a novel. It made me wonder if Mayle had to raise funds quickly for some urgent repairs on his villa in the Luberon.

As with the other books in the Sam Levitt series, the plot of The Corsican Caper is simple. Somebody does something threatening to a friend or acquaintance of Sam's, he and his girlfriend Elena travel from Los Angeles to Marseilles, and they and their wide circle of friends there (in both high and low places) outwit the bad guys–––in between sessions of eating plates of lovingly-described delectable food and drinking glasses of palate-pleasing wine.

As usual, Mayle manages to plug into currently popular prejudices; he chooses a Russian oligarch/thug for his villain. Billionaire Vronsky wants to acquire Sam's friend Francis Reboul's Marseilles estate and will stop at nothing to do it, despite Reboul's adamant refusal to sell. A cat-and-mouse game begins, as Vronsky plans his underhanded attack on Reboul, while Sam and his compatriots simultaneously put together a counter-plot against Vronsky.

Don't get me wrong; this is an entertaining book(let). But it will take you no time at all to read it and you'll have forgotten all about it in about as much time as it took to read. If you've read The Marseilles Caper, you will find this extremely similar––only shorter and a soupçon less charming. It's worth reading as a quick bit of fun, but I'd borrow it from the library.

Thanks to the publisher, Knopf, and Amazon's Vine program for providing an advance review copy. The Corsican Caper will be published on May 16, 2014.

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review 2014-05-03 17:12
When a lie is the truth
A Replacement Life - Boris Fishman
Boris Fishman: A Replacement Life
When I read the description of A Replacement Life, I thought: Are you kidding?  A book about a writer helping Russian Jews falsely claim Holocaust restitution funds?  Considering we still have plenty of anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers around, it just seemed like breathtaking––maybe even offensive––chutzpah to write this.
But although this scheme is what moves the plot along, it's secondary to the real subject.  The book is really about Slava's complicated love for his grandmother, who has just died.  Slava has always wanted to be a writer, but he's not getting anywhere in his job at Century magazine.  He uses his best writing to tell her story through these affidavits.
When I was little, like most kids I was so self-centered I had barely any curiosity about the pasts of my parents, grandparents and other relatives.  That changed when I got older, and I was lucky enough to hear some of their stories. Now that they are gone, though, I wish I'd found out so much more.  Same thing with Slava, and with the loss of his grandmother, he realizes her generation won't last much longer.  These stories are his way of connecting with them, and honoring his grandmother and her fellow survivors of World War II and the anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union.
Boris Fishman has the kind of half-drunk love for the English language that you only see in writers for whom English is not their first language.  It's a delight to read his flamboyant descriptions, unique associations and colorful depictions of the lives of eastern European immigrants in Brooklyn.  These are characters and a side of immigrant America you won't see as a tourist.
Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, and Amazon's Vine program for providing an advance review copy.
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review 2014-04-05 19:10
Daniel Friedman: Don't Ever Look Back
Don't Ever Look Back: A Mystery - Daniel Friedman

You might have met Baruch "Buck" Schatz in the debut book in this series, 2012's Don't Ever Get Old.  Buck is 88 years old, a veteran who made it through a Nazi POW camp (an especially bad place for a Jew), and who served for many years as a detective in the Memphis police department.


Buck has been retired for more years than he worked in the MPD, and now he and his wife, Rose, have had to go into assisted living because of the injuries he suffered as a result of his shenanigans in Don't Ever Get Old.  Buck doesn't like assisted living, but then he doesn't like much of anything or anybody.  He's an ornery, contrary old cuss; even more so now that he has to use a walker and spend a lot of time considering the state of his bowels.


Set in the present (2009) and back in 1965, the novel tells the tale of Buck's complicated history with Elijah, an Auschwitz survivor who decided that the world is chaos and he would be a part of that, making a career as a criminal mastermind.  In 2009, Elijah contacts Buck and says that even though the last time Buck saw him he vowed to kill him, Elijah trusts only Buck to help him turn himself in to the authorities and avoid criminals who are after his hide.


Buck's plan to accomplish Elijah's arrest goes completely haywire and Buck can't resist trying to find out what happened and why.  This is interspersed with Buck's story of his first run-in with Elijah in 1965, when Buck was sure Elijah planned to incite a police riot against striking workers as a diversion to allow him to rob a bank.


If you did read the first Buck Schatz book, you might be expecting a similarly sardonically funny book.  Well, yes and no.  Buck's dialog and observations are still just as fine-honed, but the overall tone is dark.  The 1965 Buck was fine with his own form of justice, delivered with a truncheon or a gun.  He believed in protecting his family and the reputation of his people, but had a lot less sympathy for others; for example, the black men striking for fair wages and working conditions.  This puts him at odds with his son, Brian, just at a time when Brian is preparing for his bar mitzvah and becoming a man.


The 1965 bank robbery plot and the 2009 plot are both fiendishly clever, and Daniel Friedman pulls no punches about the physical and mental pains of growing old.  Buck will never go gentle into that good night.  If you're ready for a more noir-tinged Buck Schatz adventure, give this one a read.


Note: Thanks to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing an advance reading copy.

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