Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Musings


Scandinavian crime fiction has gained increasing mainstream appeal in the United States since the publication of  Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy--The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008), The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2010)--and the subsequent movie adaptations.  Another author to emerge from the pack is Swedish-born Camilla Lackberg, whose first novel The Ice Princess, was published here in 2010.   The Ice Princess, first book in the Patrik Hedstrom series, became an instant bestseller, followed by the second installment, The Preacher.

Camilla's fans will be happy to know that local detective Patrik Hedstrom will return in book 3, The Stonecutter, early next year.  The Stonecutter goes on sale in the U.S. on February 5, 2013.  Other books in the series will also be published here in the future.                                                                


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Spotlight--Karen Kingsbury

The Bridge   The Chance: A Novel

Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury was the featured speaker at Simon & Schuster's Spring 2013 Adult Title Preview on Friday, October 26 at the publisher's midtown offices.  A USA Today and New York Times bestselling novelist, Kingsbury has written more than 50 inspirational books.  She is new to the Simon & Schuster family, having recently signed on with its Howard Books division.

Karen's latest book, The Bridge was released on October 23, and her forthcoming book, The Chance will be available on March 5, 2013.  Signed copies of these titles (The Chance in advanced reader copy format) were given away during the presentation. Since I haven't previously read any of Kingsbury's novels, this is a nice way for me to become acquainted with her work. 

Karen is a charming and engaging speaker who captivated the audience with delightful personal anecdotes about her life and travels, reflecting her strong faith and optimism.  I was particularly touched by both her Random Acts of Kindness Challenge, which she started  in connection with The Bridge, and the 9/11 story that inspired the challenge idea.  You can read more about this on Karen's Facebook Page

With Hurricane Sandy on its way, now is the perfect time to hunker down with new reading material.  Stay safe during the storm!                                     


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Shorts--Field Trip Notes

Yesterday's Adult Spring Title 2013 preview event was fun and informative.  The knowledgeable and gracious people at Simon & Schuster shared their time, talent, and advanced readers copies of forthcoming books with librarians on Friday morning over breakfast, something they do several times a year. 

I am still processing all the information presented yesterday, but I will say that there are many exciting fiction and nonfiction titles headed our way in early 2013.  Mysteries and thrillers; romance and paranormal; history and business; biography, autobiography and memoir; health and inspirational...there is something--actually many things-- for every reader.

I'll be posting more about these new books from bestselling authors and new voices in the days to come, so be sure to check back.


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Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Field Trip

      Spiraling stack of books Today I will be attending Simon & Schuster's Spring 2013 Publisher Preview for Adult Imprints.  Author Karen Kingsbury, whose forthcoming book, The Chance goes on sale March 5, 2013,  is the featured speaker.

The program also includes editorial presentations of favorite Spring 2013 adult titles from Atria, Free Press, Gallery, Howard, Scribner, Simon & Schuster, and Touchstone.

Stay tuned...I'll be sharing the information I learn about new books in future blog posts.

Have a wonderful weekend!


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Thoughts--British Popular Fiction

Reading J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy reminded me of Helen Simonson's novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a book I read, enjoyed, and discussed in two book clubs in the fall of 2010.  While the plot lines are different, the settings are similar--each story is set in a seemingly idyllic English village with a sizeable cast of diverse, memorable characters of different generations and social strata. 

Here is an excerpt of my review of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which appeared online in the September 2010 issue of Sound Commentary:

Major Ernest Pettigrew is a self-described dusty old relic, comfortably settled in Edgecombe St. Mary, a small, sleepy village of thatched cottages in the English countryside that is on the verge of change. A retired military man who places vast importance on tradition, honor, and duty, Pettigrew is often confounded by modern manners, his ambitious son, and multicultural society. Although born in Lahore, there is no question that heMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand is British to the core. Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the village’s shopkeeper of Pakistani descent, is a woman of great understanding and quiet strength. Despite being British born and raised, her heritage and occupation have prevented her from being embraced by the villagers as one of their own. 

At first glance, the major and the shopkeeper have little in common—other than having each lost a spouse—given their 10 year age difference and dissimilar life experiences, personalities, and ethnic and religious backgrounds. Yet appearances can be deceiving, as is the case in this humorous, charming story.

Friendship grows as the Major and Mrs. Ali discover their mutual love of classic literature, a proper cup of tea, and the civilized rituals of their younger years. As they attempt to live peaceful, uneventful lives, each is regularly subjected to the manipulations of their families, particularly from the younger generation—he by his condescending, social climbing son Roger; she by her intense, brooding nephew Abdul Wahid.  Each responds to these well-meaning, misguided youth in their own manipulative way.

Irony and dry British wit abound as the Major and Mrs. Ali interact with family and village inhabitants who freely speak their minds on all matters and act accordingly. The resulting clashes of culture, class, generations, and ideas provide unusual twists and turns as the characters explore moving beyond the practicality of compromise to find love, happiness, and fulfillment. Will they have the courage to take a stand against convention and act from the heart? 

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a good choice for book club reading.  The novel's themes of changing traditions, family relations, aging, and multiculturalism provide much food for thought and discussion.


Disclaimer:  An audiobook of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was provided without cost by Sound Commentary.  No other remuneration was received for this review. 

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wired Wednesday--Virtual Touring

academics,buildings,government,Library of Congress,North America,Photographs,places,United States,USA,Washington D.C.
Library of Congress
Read on for ways you can virtually tour the Library of Congress from your computer, other internet-enabled device, iPhone or iPad...

In August of this year, the Library of Congress released a virtual tour app for iPad and iPhone users with an array of features that puts some of the library's best resources at your fingertips.  There are beautiful photos of the Main Reading Room and The Great Hall, with architectural images, particularly of the ceilings, that are stunning.  In fact, the photos capture such vivid detail that virtually viewing the ceilings affords a much closer look than seeing them in person.

The virtual tour also links to images, audio, and related resources of several award-winning library exhibitions; namely, Exploring the Early Americas, Creating the United States, The Bible Collection, Thomas Jefferson's Library, and Minerva.  The overall content is engrossing and historically rich.  Anyone interested in knowing more about our country's origins will find these resources valuable. 

The app is available through the iTunes store, or can be accessed through this link from the Library of Congress website: Virtual Tour App.  Those without iPhones or iPads can access virtual tours of The Great HallMain Reading Room, and other library spaces from their computers or other internet-enabled devices. 


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits--Book Podcasts

MP3 player with earphones
If you own an MP3 player, iPod, iPad, iPhone, smart phone, or other portable electronic device, you have likely listened to podcasts.  Podcast download sites are plentiful, and no doubt you have found some that match your interests.  So have I, and from time to time, I will share my favorite places for book-related podcasts.

Today's selection is Books on the Nightstand which offers weekly podcasts that focus on newly released and forthcoming books.  Every Wednesday, you can download the latest book discussion from bloggers Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness.  They deliver book recommendations and other tidbits in an entertaining, conversational format; and as sales reps for Random House, Kingman and Kindness provide insider opinions on books and publishing.  (The blog itself is independent of and not funded by their employer.)

Visit the BOTN website to subscribe to weekly podcasts, sign up for a monthly newsletter, or to get blog updates by email.  Previous podcasts are also available here from a rather impressive archive.  And since tomorrow is Wednesday, it's your chance to hear the newest BOTN podcast.



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Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday, Monday--Errata

        Teaching  Note to self:  Don't attempt counting or advanced grammar in a Monday morning blog post.  Have a cup of coffee first and ease into the week.

Today's earlier post contained two technical errors:  First, there are three generations interacting in J.K. Rowling's novel, The Casual Vacancy.  When writing the post I was focused on the concept of adults versus children, hence the reference to two generations.  However, the characters portrayed fall into three categories: parents, grandparents and elders, and children.

Now that I've set the math record straight, on to the grammar issue: English 101--possessives for singular and plural nouns.  Since I was referring to the issues of all the villagers in the post's last paragraph, I should have used villagers' (plural), not villager's (singular).

I sit corrected...thanks for reading and bearing with me.


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Monday, Monday

View detailsIs it really Monday again already?  Really?  Again?  Already?

After a very rainy day last Friday that seemed unending, it was a perfect autumn weekend in the New York/New Jersey area.  Saturday and Sunday were ideal days to spend outdoors, with mild temperatures, lots of sunshine, and leaves beginning to change color.  Yes, I was distracted by these conditions, which means I didn't read as much as I originally though I would.

Nevertheless, I'm making slow but steady progress with J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  I've read 150 pages, and thus far it is challenging to keep all the characters straight in my mind.  The tiny English village of Pagford has two generations of inhabitants of differing social classes, all of whom cross paths with each other over a variety of issues.  In fact, there seems to be fewer than six degrees of separation among the residents in this character-driven novel.  As the plot unfolds, loathing and self-loathing fuel personal agendas following the sudden, unexpected death of council member Barry Fairbrother.  As competing interests escalate, I can't help but wonder:  Can the village's--and villagers'--issues be resolved?  Will Pagford ever be the same again?  The answers to these and other questions lie within the remaining 350 pages...

Have a wonderful week!


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sunday Spotlight, October 21--Elizabeth Gilbert

Author Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned on Facebook the other day that she is writing a new novel, The Signature of All Things, which will be published in October 2013.  This is exciting news!  While Gilbert is probably best known for her memoirs, Committed and Eat, Pray, Love, she has an impressive array of work that includes non-fiction book, The Last American Man; the novel, Stern Men; and an award-winning collection of short stories called Pilgrims.

Her journalistic abilities have also earned Gilbert critical recognition.  Her articles have appeared in such publications as Harper's Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine; her stories have been published in numerous magazines including Paris Review and Esquire.

Gilbert is a keen observer of modern life and culture.  She is intelligent and inquisitive, and I find her voice refreshingly honest and open.  One of my book clubs read Stern Men and Eat, Pray, Love.  Both books generated lively discussions and made it to the club's all time favorites list.  For all of these reasons, The Signature of All Things is on my list of highly anticipated new novels.


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Scary Reads for Halloween

 Screen Beans characters dressed for Halloween

Looking for a chilling story to put you in the mood for Halloween?  I came across a list of Top 10 Scary Books on the Fox News Magazine website compiled by librarian Miriam Tuliao, Assistant Director of Branch Collection Development at New York Public Library and a former colleague of mine.  Here are Miriam's picks:

The Amityville Horror by Jay Hanson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Misery by Stephen King
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
The Shining by Stephen King
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

For more information about this list, visit Top 10 Scary Books

Personally I am not much of a horror fan. I prefer thrillers from my go-to list of authors: J.T. Ellison, Tana French, Alex Kava, Lisa Gardner and Karin Slaughter.  Their novels send chills up my spine.  Horror authors who come to mind for me are those who have written classic tales; namely, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mary Shelley, and more contemporary authors like horror master Stephen King, Robert Kirkman, who writes the Walking Dead novel series, and Peter Blatty of Exorcist fame.  In fact, The Exorcist is currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of its publication. Several of the classics--Dracula and Frankenstein--and short stories by Poe and Stoker, are available as free ebook downloads on Feedbooks, the website mentioned in yesterday's post, Calling All Ereaders.  If you browse the Feedbooks public domain horror section,144 short stories and novels are available.

While scores of other horror book lists abound, I'll leave you with just one more--a 21st century choice, The 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium compiled by Matt Barone, staff writer at, a pop culture website.


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Calling All Ereaders

In my post from last Friday, October 12, I shared information for Nook owners about Barnes and Noble's free ebook downloads, which are available every Friday.  To take advantage of this offer, visit on Fridays.  If you visit this Nook blog at other times, the posts are related to other books available for purchase on the Nook.
Since not everyone owns a Nook, I'd like to share a source for free ebooks that all readers can access regardless of the type of ereader they use.  The website is called Feedbooks.  Use this link to access thousands of books that are available in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats.  The downloads are quickly and easily added to your ereader.

The Feedbooks website is well organized and sorts fiction and nonfiction books by category. There is a section with featured selections as well as sections for other popular genres.  Among the numerous fiction choices you will find classics like Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island, and literary masterpieces like The Brothers Karamazov and The Great Gatsby.  Nonfiction titles include The Prince, Siddhartha, The Republic, and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.  Another nice feature is when you click on a particular book, other available titles by the same author are displayed, as are a selection of similar books.

While this website is sure to have wide appeal, it is particularly useful for high school and college students with school reading lists, since they are likely to find many required books here.  The website is a great one-stop location, with bestsellers and new releases also available for purchase.  I highly recommend this website to everyone interested in feeding their ereaders.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Thoughts, October 18, 2012--Next Read

It's only Thursday, but I'm already thinking about what I'll start reading over the weekend. I placed a hold on The Casual Vacancy at New York Public Library several months ago, after learning that J.K. Rowling was writing a novel expressly for adults.  I picked the book up earlier this week and, much like a Harry Potter novel,  it weighs in at a whopping 503 pages.

Book Cover Image. Title: The Casual Vacancy, Author: J. K. Rowling  There has been so much publicity surrounding this new book, and from the little I've heard, reviews are running hot and cold.  I'm planning an open-minded approach, and look forward to forming my own opinion.  If Rowling taps into the rich imagination displayed in the Harry Potter series, it's sure to be an entertaining read.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Website Wednesday, October 17, 2012--Ebooks

On Wednesdays, this blog will focus on interesting book-related items found in cyberspace.  Check out my latest find below.

Last week I discovered a website with backlisted titles in electronic format for a select group of authors.  If you are interested in exploring electronic versions of books published before the introduction of ereaders, visit this website:

Downloads are available for Nook, Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, Diesel, Sony and iTunes devices.  

There are more than 90 authors listed, and you can search the site by author name or across 13 genres.  Several of my favorite mystery series writers are listed.  The ebooks are reasonably priced, and there are a few available free of charge.  

While on the site, sign up for their email newsletter.  I did--and the subscription confirmation link  included an offer for a free ebook download.  This was a nice surprise.   The website also has a link to a Facebook fan page.

Happy ereading!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Talking Tuesday, October 16, 2012--Gone Girl

   Reading Gone Girl is like standing on shifting sands...each new nugget of information--about Amy, the wife who mysteriously vanishes on her fifth wedding anniversary and Nick, her husband and the prime suspect in Amy's disappearance--ensnares the reader deeper into a web of treachery and deceit.  The novel is a stunningly dark read and a chilling illustration of the consequences of the lies these troubled souls tell, the disguises they wear, and the secrets they keep. The plot twists remind us that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors, and raise questions of how well we think we know others, especially those we share intimate relationships with.  Briefly stated, Gone Girl is disturbingly delicious.  (To read my other comments about Gone Girl, see my 10/13 post--This Weekend's Read and my 10/15 post--Monday, Monday.)

This is one of the best books I've read this year. Flynn's writing style, psychological insight, and characterization are outstanding.  I am adding Flynn's two previous novels, Dark Places and Sharp Objects, to the top of my reading list.

 It's great to be a reader!


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Disclaimer: No remuneration was received for this review.  A copy of the book was borrowed from the New York Public Library.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday, Monday

Since I ended Sunday's post with a reference to California Dreamin', I thought it only appropriate to title today's post Monday, Monday...

California Dreamin' and Monday, Monday are my two favorite songs by the Mamas and Papas, pictured at left, the iconic American/Canadian musical group from the 1960s.  Folk music, hippies, love beads, the peace movement...these are some of the things that come to mind for me from that era.

Fast forward to the present...for a reading update.  I am half way through Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and can see why it is a New York Times bestseller.  (It's currently number 3 on the NYT print fiction hardcover list.)  The author expertly draws the reader into a web of mystery with the disappearance of Amy Elliott Dunne on her fifth wedding anniversary.  As the story unfolds, Flynn paints an engrossing picture of flawed characters, imperfect lives, and unraveling relationships.  I am thoroughly engaged as secret after secret is revealed.  It has me pondering the many ways an individual can be "gone" from a relationship--physically, psychologically, emotionally.  I anticipate burning the midnight oil to finish this novel.

Have a great week!


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Books Outdoors

Here on the east coast it's time to bid a final farewell to summer and welcome the crisp autumn weather.  With that in mind, I share this photo of my friend's journal that was taken in July while we were traveling together in California.

The bench in the photo is located in the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, on the Monterey Peninsula.  Asilomar, which means refuge by the sea, is one of the most beautiful, serene places on the planet.  The Pacific Ocean views are magnificent. 

Welcome fall...but rest assured that the cooler weather will definitely keep me in California dreamin' mode.



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Saturday, October 13, 2012

This Weekend's Read

In between working and playing Words with Friends, I've managed to start Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I'm 72 pages in, and already hooked by Flynn's characters and the way she writes about them.  The suspense is building, adding a chill in the air that matches the drop in temperature outdoors.  A great read!


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Friday, October 12, 2012

Free Fridays

If you own a Nook....

Did you know about Barnes & Noble's Free Fridays?  Every Friday, a different ebook is posted on the Nook Blog on the BN website.  The blog can be hard to find once you're on the website, but you can access it directly from this URL:

Today's selection is Jane Carver of Waar by Nathan Long, a sci-fi novel.  Log on to to learn more about it and/or download it.

And remember to check out the BN blog every Friday for a new offering.  The choices are diverse and include many genres--nonfiction, romance, thriller, etc. It's a great way to discover titles and authors both known and unknown.

Have a great weekend...happy reading...enjoy!!


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Club Reads

What my book clubs are reading this month:

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

If you don't already participate in a book club, I encourage you to join one.  It's a fun way to discover new books and authors, meet new friends, and gain other perspectives.  Book clubs abound in local public libraries, book stores, and online. 


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Sneak Peek Book Preview

Today the Association of American Publishers held its annual Librarians' Sneak Peek Book Preview at Random House in New York City.  Sterling, Random House, John Wiley, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Harlequin, McGraw-Hill, Hachette, Workman, Penguin, Perseus, W.W. Norton, and HarperCollins presented lots of fiction and nonfiction titles coming out later this year and in early 2013.

As 2012 winds down and 2013 arrives, readers will have lots to choose from in literary and historical fiction, new series, how-to guides and cookbooks, biographies, mysteries, and thrillers.  I came away with advance copies of The Twelve by Justin Cronin, The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg, The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers, The Things They Cannot Say by Kevin Sites, and Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon.  I'm looking forward to reading them all!


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Sneak Peek Book Preview was originally published by Catherine for  This post cannot be republished without express written permission.