HE'S BACK.....(OCTOBER 2014)

Yes, a new Grisham is in the house!  Yes, I'll read it and yes, it's typical John Grisham doing his thing! Welcome to GRAY MOUNTAIN, on book stands now!


"In classic Grisham style, the reader is brought into the world of a naive yet resourceful young lawyer who begins to uncover the generations of secrets which want to remain buried. Gray Mountain follows Samantha, a third year associate at New York's largest law firm, who loses her job two weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Within a week, Samantha is out of New York and has become an unpaid intern in a legal aid clinic in small town Appalachia, where for the first time she deals with real clients with real problems; those real problems start uncovering a sinister world of big coal, with its impacts on the environment, the health of its miners, but, as the only real industry in town, with an overbearing influence on a community and its people. Her character's intelligence and resourcefulness leads her deeper into this world, and, in the vein of many Grisham novels, leads her into deeper and deeper peril.

That a "big law" lawyer could end up in such a situation is spot on. Right during the big crash the economy could not even come close to bearing the quantity of lawyers who flooded the market during that time. I know quite a few young lawyers who were left utterly disappointed with the "big law" world and, post crash, ended up in public service. In fact, numerous big law firms actually helped place their underutilized associates in non-profit and legal aid positions to give them the "real world" experience with the hope that hey might be able to rehire them. That a highly intelligent, resourceful, and driven young woman could end up in deep Appalachia is not as far-fetched as one would think.

Gray Mountain has all of the characteristics of a Grisham classic with its pacing, twists, and turns. The novel does not disappoint. It is a genre that has worked well for Grisham, and is shows true here."
Amazon Review

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 Recently Barbara A. posted comments on Goodreads about An Unnecessary Woman by Rabin Alameddine ( No relation to George Clooney) which debuted about a year ago. Some critics had called it "slow and rambling" while others labeled it "spellbinding." The author is Lebanese/American and gives a clear view of the obstacles women face in Beirut, in this case focusing on an older woman.

The comment below enthusiastically says it all....

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddin

I absolutely adored this book, but it's going to be difficult to explain why. If I said that it was about a lonely elderly woman in Beirut who translates books and never shows the products to anyone, would you run out and buy a copy? See? I didn't think so! But I trusted my friend Richard, who recommended it to me, and he was spot-on. I would have devoured this in one reading, so delicious was it, but for reasons of an orthopedic nature, I kept falling asleep. I will assume that this is not an issue for you, so unless you dislike world literature ( not likely, since you're on Goodreads); have a tin ear for classical music; can't stand family feuds; have an aversion to humor, irony,or sacrilege, you need to get this book, in any language or version you prefer, and get cracking.




Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain presents a long-awaited new novel in which a boy trying to save his parents’ marriage uncovers a vast legacy of family secrets.

Bookish.com shared this review of A Sudden LIght.....

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and........so it goes....

Secrets, hidden rooms, a dark past and unconventional characters contribute to this spellbinding novel.  Garth Stein has another best seller on his hands.

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I've been a fan of Jane Smiley for many years. She won the Pulitzer for A THOUSAND ACRES in 1992, probably her most famous book, which was also adapted to film. I've been waiting for something new and now she's come up with a trilogy.  Volume one combines history, births, deaths, betrayals...you name it!  Sounds like a never-ending story ...which is a good thing if you're into it.

BookPage interview Jane Smiley

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author (A Thousand Acres) launches an inventive and appealing new project with the first volume of a trilogy that will follow a single extended family through an entire century. Devoting one chapter to each year, Some Luck introduces readers to the Langdon family, with young Walter Langdon trying to scratch out a living on an Iowa farm when the story begins in 1920. Smiley writes about farm life with particular acuity, and her blend of historical detail and relatable characters will leave readers eager to see the story

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It's October and in one month it will be the anniversary of Joyce's Choices..What was I thinking?  For almost three years I've been blabbing about books...some people are listening and some are not...Who cares? I have over 40,000 viewers and lots of friends...the best kind of friends too, mostly silent! (Meaning, I don't get a lot of comments...)

And so the blabbing continues. Here's a few choices for October reads......

THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER: Stories by Hilary Mantel (Fiction/Short Stories)
The latest work from the celebrated author of the historical novels WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES is a collection of 10 stories, Hilary Mantel’s first collection since 2003’s LEARNING TO TALK. Many of these contemporary tales play with the conventions of genre; there’s even a vampire tale. But the title story, about an imagined attempt on the former Prime Minister’s life, will, not surprisingly, get the most attention. 
THE NEWS SORORITY by Sheila Weller
THE NEWS SORORITY: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour -- and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller (Biography)
For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism. After fierce struggles, three women --- Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour --- broke into the newsroom’s once impenetrable “boys’ club.” Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, THE NEWS SORORITY reveals the hard struggles and inner strengths that shaped these women and powered their success. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth, founder of HeadButler.com.

BURN: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Thriller)
Back in the city that never sleeps, Detective Michael Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in the same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously --- and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Ewan McEwan has done it again. THE CHILDREN ACT, his latest release, held my interest immediately...and that's saying a lot. My negative vibes usually kick in after a few pages.  Although Fiona, the main character needs a good kick in the pants! Hopefully she'll get her personal life together and stop acting like a doormat....

Here's a summary...

In the late summer of 2012, a British judge faces a complex case while dealing with her husband’s infidelity in this thoughtful, well-wrought novel.

Fiona Maye, at 59, has just learned of an awful crack in her marriage when she must rule on the opposing medical and religious interests surrounding a 17-year-old boy who will likely die without blood transfusions. The cancer patient, weeks shy of the age when he could speak for himself, has embraced his parents’ deep faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses and their abhorrence of letting what the Bible deems a pollutant enter his body. The scenes before the bench and at the boy's hospital bedside are taut and intelligent, like the best courtroom dramas. 

The ruling produces two intriguing twists that, among other things, suggest a telling allusion to James Joyce’s 17-year-old Michael Furey in “The Dead.” Meanwhile, McEwan (Sweet Tooth, 2012, etc.), in a rich character study that begs for a James Ivory film, shows Fiona reckoning with the doubt, depression and temporary triumphs of the betrayed—like an almost Elizabethan digression on changing the locks of their flat—not to mention guilt at stressing over her career and forgoing children. As Fiona thinks of a case: “All this sorrow had common themes, there was a human sameness to it, but it continued to fascinate her.” Also running through the book is a musical theme, literal and verbal, in which Fiona escapes the legal world and “the subdued drama of her half-life with Jack” to play solo and in duets. (Scroll down for another review and a graphic)

The following book recommendation was sent to me by a member of my summer book group. I trust her judgement.....

B said .....

I have just completed reading THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr for my West Hartford  book club.  It is a book not to miss! It is a poetic, lyrical, story taking place during WWII, spanning time from 1944-2014 in Germany and France, featuring a blind French girl and a German boy in alternate chapters.  The story reads like poetry, it flows like music and its emotional/intellectual range is satisfying and impressive. If you read it,  I can't wait to hear your reactions.......B


September is coming to an end and my TBR (To Be Read) list is overwhelmingly long.  Here's three more releases that sound compelling, created by some notoriously well known authors. So if you're in the mood for a bit of history or a few thrills, the following titles should fulfill your needs. They're on my list....

PERFIDIA by James Ellroy (Historical Fiction)

America stands at the brink of World War II. Los Angeles has been a haven for loyal Japanese-Americans --- but now, war fever and race hate grip the city, and the Japanese internment begins. The hellish murder of a Japanese family summons three men and one woman. The investigation throws them together and rips them apart. The crime becomes a political storm center that illuminates these four driven souls --- comrades, rivals, lovers, history’s pawns. 

THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman (Supernatural Mystery)

Newly reassigned to a Special Projects squad he didn’t even know existed, Detective Jacob Lev is sent to a murder scene far up in the hills of Hollywood Division. There is no body, only an unidentified head lying on the floor of a house. Seared into a kitchen counter nearby is a single word: the Hebrew for justice. All that Detective Lev has believed to be true will be upended --- and not only his world, but the world itself, will be changed. 

THE EYE OF HEAVEN by Clive Cussler and Russell Blake(Thriller/Adventure)

Husband-and-wife team Sami and Remi Fargo are on a climate-control expedition in the Arctic when they discover a Viking ship in the ice filled with pre–Columbian artifacts from Mexico. As they plunge into their research, tantalizing clues about a link between the Vikings and the legendary Toltec feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl --- and a fabled object known as the Eye of Heaven --- begin to emerge. But so do many dangerous people.

Thankyou Bookreporter.com for the comments.
All books can be ordered from Amazon directly from this blog. Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar.


Two Blog readers recommended this bizarre sounding debut novel. Would I read it? Not sure, but in the spirit of  openmindedness and diversification, I'm including WOLF IN WHITE VAN by John Darnielle on my blog.
"Quiet, mysterious, menacing, taking you places you will never, never get out of your head.” 

 Is that a good thing? Some blog readers think so. 

(Wednesday September 24th,  WOLF IN WHITE VAN was nominated for the National Book Award)

Here's a summary from Bookish.com.

Wolf in White Van

Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of “Trace Italian”—a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail—Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. 

Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, and are explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called on to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tracing back toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live. 

Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds backward in time until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling.

Check out author John Darnielle at Wikipedia.com ( You're in for a surprise)

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Man Booker Prize 2014 Shortlist

Previously open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe, the 2014 Man Booker Prize reflects the diversity of the novel in English regardless of the author’s nationality. This year’s shortlist features two America authors, Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler; one Australian, Richard Flanagan; and three British authors, Howard Jacobson, Neel Mukherjee and Ali Smith. I read The Lives of Others by Mukherjee and highly recommend it, however, I boldly predict Joshua Ferris's To Rise Again At A Decent Hour as the winner...But don't be surprised if I delete my prediction if I'm wrong!

(Thankyou to The Reading Room for contributing to this post.)

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferriswant_to_read_buttonPaul O’Rourke is a Manhattan dentist with a thriving practice leading a quiet, routine-driven life. But behind the smiles and the nice apartment, he’s a man made of contradictions, and his biggest fear is that he may never truly come to understand anybody, including himself. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the real thing.

J - A Novelwant_to_read_buttonAfter the devastation of WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED, all that should remain is peace and prosperity. Everyone knows his or her place; all actions are out in the open. But Esme Nussbaum has seen the distorted realities, the fissures that have only widened in the twenty-plus years since she was forced to resign from her position at the monitor of the Public Mood. Now, Esme finds something strange and special developing in a romance between Ailinn Solomons and Kevern Cohen. As this unusual pair’s actions draw them into ever-increasing danger, Esme realizes she must do everything in her power to keep them together—whatever the cost.

The Narrow Road to the Deep Northwant_to_read_buttonIn the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

How to be Both by Ali Smithwant_to_read_buttonBorrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

The Lives of Otherswant_to_read_buttonCalcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in student unrest, agitation, extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is this note. The ageing patriarch and matriarch of his family, the Ghoshes, preside over their large household, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting. More than poisonous rivalries among sisters-in-law, destructive secrets, and the implosion of the family business, this is a family unravelling as the society around it fractures. For this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change: the chasm between the generations, and between those who have and those who have not, has never been wider.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselveswant_to_read_buttonMeet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she explains. “I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion … she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister.” As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.

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Don't miss these two new releases by authors that you know well...and if you don't, you'll appreciate the introduction! Both books can be ordered directly from the blog by clicking on the Amazon Search Box in the sidebar.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan 
The Children Act is McEwan at his finest, provoking questions of morality and issues of marriage in this slip of a book. Through Fiona, a family court judge, the reader is introduced to rich characters and a gripping story, as Fiona must decide whether to save the life of a seventeen-year-old boy refusing a blood transfusion because of religion.

My Passages

 DARING By Gail Sheehy

The journalist who brought us  PASSAGES, a landmark look at the key transitions of life—recalls her own remarkable journey in an engaging new memoir, DARING. Sheehy traces her struggles as a single mother, her trailblazing work as a writer for New York magazine and her romance with (and eventual marriage to) charismatic editor Clay Felker. Throughout it all, Sheehy writes, she dared to accept new challenges, tapping her passion and resilience to endure her own "passages."

MY LATEST READ (August 2014)

Bestselling author Thrity Umigar provides a unique perspective on the plight of the immigrant in this new release, THE STORY HOUR. I've read many of her books including THE WORLD WE FOUND and THE SPACE BETWEEN US, both poignant and profound reads. I expected THE STORY HOUR to be an absorbing read and was immediately captivated by the disarming characters and riveting storyline. Don't miss this brilliant twisted tale!
(Nothing like a brilliant twist....)

THE STORY HOUR by Thrity Umrigar 

Lakshmi Patil is lost in the sadness of her life. Dr. Maggie Bose is adrift and in danger of ruining her marriage. Brought together by Lakshmi’s suicide attempt, both women begin to see life from a new perspective, and realize their lives are more than what they perceive and can be more than what they thought. They begin their relationship as patient and doctor, and end up in a weird quasi-friendship from which neither can walk away.


AMERICANAH...... (August 2014)

I send out a monthy newsletter to blog followers, friends, family and anyone whose email I possess that may be a reader...This month I received responses from several recipients recommending AMERICANAH by Chimanda Ncozi Adiche.

 It was released in March to rave reviews and is a five hundred page powerful story of race and identity in Anerica and Nigeria.  AMERICANAH  takes place over a fifteen year period and is primarily about a Nigerian woman named Lfemelu and her first love. Racism is a recurring theme as is life in America for black Americans and non-American blacks.

Adiche is a gifted writer and her observations are painfully acute.  There are great insites into Nigerian life and observations about racism that are astounding.  Adiche describes AMERICANAH as a love story and it's the central theme,  but primarily AMERICANAH is a mix of sadness, laughter and brilliance.

HALF A YELLOW SUN,  another novel by Adiche is a vivid portrayal of Biafra before and after the war. It dramatically portrays the strength and endurance of the human spirit..a must read along with AMERICANAH.

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I can't believe we're halfway through August! There's still some highly anticipated books debuting on a daily basis. A special thankyou to blog readers who submitted the following comments.

WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas  Is Destined to be a classic, this “powerfully moving” (Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding), multigenerational debut novel of an Irish-American family is nothing short of a “masterwork” (Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End).

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away. 


With Grace, wisdom, and incredible compassion, Thrity Umrigar has woven together the lives of two seemingly dissimilar women who must learn - against steep odds - to forgive each other and themselves. Lakshmi's voice and stories found their way quickly into my heart and didn't let up, or let go. I dare anyone to resist her or this wonderful novel.



I am stunned that this is Celeste Ng's first novel. I was instantly drawn into this book, with its beautifully drawn characters and superb writing. On its surface, the story is a mystery: What led to the death of Lydia Lee, a sixteen-year-old honor student with (supposedly) everything to live for? In reality, the mystery goes far deeper, into the lives of each member of the family. By the end of the book, the reader is fully in sympathy with each character.

The novel, which takes place in the late 70s, begins with Lydia's death. Was it murder? Was it suicide? Or was it something else? The reader spends most of the novel thinking one thing, only to be surprised at the end with the truth. The author delves into the lives of each family member: James, the father, who never felt really at home in any situation; Marilyn, the mother, whose dreams were shelved by the demands of marriage, family, and the times; Nathan, the older brother, whose brilliance is overlooked; Lydia, the golden child burdened with all the frustrated aspirations of her parents; and Hannah, the overlooked afterthought of a child, a silent but keen observer of everyone in her family. 

Don't miss this intriguing read.....



I hate to think that Fall is fast approaching, although on a positive note, Fall book releases are looking positive.  Publishers Weekly included a list of books by some familiar authors.  Below find some brief comments....

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Random, Sept.) - Channeling multiple lives and chance encounters, as in Cloud Atlas, Mitchell's ambitious new novel is called "a thing of beauty" by PW.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Riverhead, Oct.) -An engrossing epic that explores the tumultuous world of Jamaica over three decades and the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s. PW says "this novel should be required reading."

Lila by Marilynne Robinson (FSG, Oct.) - This third of three novels set in the fictional plains town of Gilead, Iowa, follows Gilead and Home; it's called a "masterpiece of prose" by PW.

AND.....watch for a new release by Haruki Marakami .... 

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, Aug.) - Murakami follows the life of a loner years after his group of best friends told him they didn't want to see him any longer--and reveals the secrets of their entwined pasts.