Monday, June 30, 2008

A Reunion to Die For

A Reunion to Die For is Lauren Carr's second Joshua Thornton mystery. It's a book with a number of weaknesses, but, despite the problems, it's definitely a pageturner.

Joshua Thornton has been widowed for a year. He brought his five children home to Chester, West Virginia, his hometown, and successfully ran for prosecuting attorney. He didn't realize he would be caught up in a murder spree, and, even become a suspect.

It all started twenty-one years earlier when Tricia Wheeler, a popular cheerleader died. At the time, it was ruled suicide, but when one of Joshua's high school classmates shows up, now a successful journalist and crime writer, claiming it was murder, Joshua takes a second look at the death. And, then another cheerleader is murdered at the same high school. And, events start to snowball out of control.

There are a few weaknesses. The book is too wordy in spots, and could have been edited better. Some of the evidence that Joshua claims is proof of crimes seems a little flimsy, and he threatens arrest a few too many times. Even though it's a small town, why are the prosecuting attorney and the medical examiner doing the major crime investigation?

Chester, West Virgina is a little Peyton Place, where everyone seems to have slept around at one time, even the hero. And, every woman who meets him seems to want to go to bed with Joshua, whether or not he loves them. Would that many women actually be attracted to a widower with five kids?

Despite all the weaknesses, the book was a pageturner with the cold case of the dead cheerleader, and everyone in the book a possible suspect. As one murder follows another, Joshua and his cousin, Tad, the medical examiner, have their hands full. A Reunion to Die For is a small town mystery, in Chester, West Virginia, where murder runs amuck.

Lauren Carr's website is http://laurencarr.com

A Reunion to Die For by Lauren Carr. Five Star (Gale Group), ©2007. ISBN 9781594145483 (hardcover), 369p.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Salon - 1001 Books for every Mood

I had a great week. I went to hear Jeffery Deaver, and I'm running a contest on my blog to give away autographed copies of two of his books. I run weekly contests, and start them every Thursday. The summary of the Deaver event is posted on my blog as well.

However, last Sunday, I complained that I was having problems finding something to read after finishing Rubicon by Lawrence Alexander. I couldn't get into Kenneth C. Davis' America's Hidden History. And, Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts just didn't do it for me. I did read Sara Paretsky's Writing in an Age of Silence, but it was just a one night read.

I finally found the perfect book for those times when I don't know what I feel like reading. It's Hallie Ephron's 1001 Books for every Mood: A Bibliophile's Guide to Unwinding, Misbehaving, Forgiving, Celebrating, Commiserating. In between reviewing a couple children's books, I kept returning to this wonderful one. What could be better for someone who loves books than a selection of 1001 titles?

I'm only a third of a way through this, but Ephron's selections are categorized well. Chapters include: for a Good Laugh, for a Good Cry, for Romance, to Take a Trip. I could go on and on. Each chapter has between eight and twenty titles that fit the mood, and they include nonfiction, fiction, and, even what we normally think of as juvenile books, labeled "Family Friendly," books we can share with youngsters. Award-winning books are marked, as well as books that have been made into movies.

Susan Stamberg's forward is titled, "So Many Books, So Little Time." At least with Eprhon's 1001 Books for every Mood, I might be able to find the right book to fit my mood, and won't waste time. I've been pushing this book every since I bought it last Monday. I know it sounds like a strange book to enjoy, but as I pour over the titles, I mark the ones I've read, and I plan to go back and pick up titles that are mentioned. And, it's so good that I'm using it when I teach classes this fall. Even with a closetful of ARCs and library books, it's nice to have someone offer me 1001 books.

1001 Books for every Mood by Hallie Ephron. Adams Media Corporation, ©2007. ISBN 9781598695854 (paperback), 392p.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All Shall Be Well

Deborah Crombie's second mystery, All Shall Be Well, reveals a little more about the personal lives of her detectives, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James. It's a very personal investigation, with a small cast of suspects.

Jasmine Dent was a mystery, even to her friends, and Duncan considered himself a friend. When Jasmine, Kincaid's upstairs neighbor, was found dead, he found it to be one more mystery. She may have had cancer, and discussed suicide with a regular visitor, but something about Jasmine's death bothered Kincaid. Her limited circle of friends, the downstairs neighbor, her brother, the visiting nurse, and a lonely woman, meant that a friend might have ended her life prematurely. When Kincaid ordered a post mortem, he was forced to dig into his friend's life, making discoveries he never suspected.

Once again, Crombie tells a quiet, well-developed story. All Shall Be Well is another excellent British police procedural.

Deborah Crombie will be appearing at the Velma Teague Library in Glendale, AZ on Tuesday, July 1 at 3 p.m. If you're in the Valley of the Sun, I hope you can make it!

Deborah Crombie's website is www.deborahcrombie.com

All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie. HarperCollins Publishers, ©1994. ISBN 9780060534394 (paperback), 268p.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - Charms for the Easy Life

Kaye Gibbons may be best known for her two books that were chosen together as Oprah Book Club selections, Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman. However, my favorite Gibbons book is a lesser-known novel, Charms for the Easy Life.

Margaret is the narrator of this beautiful story of three generations of women living an off-beat life in Wake County, North Carolina. Her mother, Sophia, is a beautiful, smart woman, who loves to read, but married a "cad", against her mother's wishes. Margaret, a shy, brilliant woman, idolizes her grandmother, the strength of the family, and the one who holds it together. Charms for the Easy Life is a family story, of three women who depend on each other, through life, and then through the trauma and losses during World War II. However, Charlie Kate, Margaret's grandmother, is the linchpin of the family, and the local community.

Charlie Kate was an excellent midwife by the age of twenty. She grew herbs, studied medical textbooks, and took care of the entire community. She achieved local fame for her hygienic improvements, and the sex education she taught to thirteen year old teens. Over the years, Charlie Kate achieved recognition for her contributions, not only to the community, but also to the medical community.

Charms for the Easy Life is a rich novel, with wonderful, strong women, who lead unconventional lives. It's not as well-known as some of Gibbons' other novels, so it's this Friday's "Forgotten" book.

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons. HarperCollins Publishers, ©1993. ISBN 9780060760250 (paperback), 272p.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Winners and Jeffery Deaver book contest

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Southern Fatality by T. Lynn Ocean will go to Judy W. of Saint James City, FL. And, Mighty Old Bones will go to Anthony M. from Wilmington, NC. Diane D. of Edison, NJ hasn't responded to my email yet, saying she was the 50,000th visitor, so I can't announce her prize. The other books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

After attending Jeffery Deaver's program yesterday, I bought two of his Lincoln Rhyme paperbacks, and had them autographed. So, this week, I have two of his books as prizes.

In The Twelfth Card, Lincoln and his assistant, Amelia Sachs, must solve a cold case. Why is a teenager from Harlem targeted by a killer when she digs into the past of one of her ancestors? And, what is the meaning of the killer's calling card, the hanged man from a tarot deck?

In The Cold Moon, Lincoln Rhyme tangles with the Watchmaker, "a time-obsessed genius," whose calling card is a moon-faced clock that ticked away the victims' last minutes.

Two autographed Lincoln Rhyme thrillers by Jeffery Deaver. Do you want The Twelfth Card or The Cold Moon? You may enter twice, once for each book, if you'd like to take your chances on both of them. If you'd like to win one of the books,email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win Twelfth Card or Cold Moon. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, July 3 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail on Saturday (not on Friday, July 4). Good luck!

Jodi Picoult's The Tenth Circle on LIfetime

Following the successful movie adaptation of The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Lifetime now brings you a new based-on-novel film, written by New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Picoult. Published in 2006, The Tenth Circle has won rave reviews across the country, and is now a movie starring Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire, What A Girl Wants), Ron Eldard (House of Sand and Fog) and Brittany Robertson (Dan In Real Life). See it on Saturday, June 28th at 9PM ET/PT.

"The Stone family's seemingly idyllic lives are shattered when their daughter, Trixie, is the victim of a date rape. But there are holes in Trixie's story, and when another violent crime occurs that may be linked to the rapist, the entire Stone family finds themselves under suspicion. Can they all survive the truth and make it out of their personal circle of hell?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jeffery Deaver, courtesy of The Poisoned Pen

Jeffery Deaver was in the Valley today, to appear at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, promoting his latest Lincoln Rhyme book, The Broken Window. Since he was in town, he appeared this afternoon at Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria, and The Poisoned Pen sold the books at the library.

He was introduced as the winner of the Ian Fleming Dagger Award. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. He's an Edgar nominee, who has been writing since 1988.

Jeffery Deaver began by asking the audience a series of questions that we were to silently answer. These were questions such as, have you ever been married? Have you ever been divorced? Have you ever had a credit card? Have you ever sent email? Have you used loyalty cards at a grocery store? Have you done research on Google? He said, if you've done any of these things, you are in deep trouble. At least, according to The Broken Window, you're in
trouble. Deaver said he loves creating villains. His villain in this book is called 522, because his first apparent murder was on May 22.

Data mining is important in this book. He explained data mining as getting access to data by going through information to get gold. For instance, you may receive direct mail for a product you bought before. Data mining has good parts. But, his villain takes all that mined information, and uses the information to get close to the victims, and then uses it to find innocent individuals in an area, with no alibi, and plants the evidence at that person's home. The mistake 522 makes is in picking Arthur Rhyme, Lincoln's cousin, to frame. He picks the wrong person. The evidence lines up too carefully for Lincoln. The book reveals more about Rhyme's family and childhood. As in other books by Deaver, it covers a period of 48 hours, and has lots of twists and turns. It has lots of esoteric information, about identity theft, data mining, and loss of privacy. Deaver then said, he wrote the book, but he won't read from it to the audience. He said his job is to write it, and ours is to read it.

Instead, he told us he would read from his diary. What a terrific experience! Jeffery Deaver has a very dry sense of humor, with a very ironic tone. He skipped from one year to another, to give us a taste of an author's life. He related the story of his first tour, and an appearance with a big author. When the moderator asked her whether she outlined, she went on about no author worth his salt would outline, and it was just she and her muse. She said only hacks outline. Deaver, who spends eight months outlining a book, could hardly respond that he was a hack who outlined. Instead, after listening to her, he said he outlined just a little.

In Italy, he was asked "When are you going to write real books?" He responded, "Who says crime books aren't real books?" and when the interviewer mentioned critics, Deaver ranted about critics who sit in ivory towers and can't write. Afterward, he was told the man was one of the preeminent Italian critics.

Throughout the diary reading, on various days, he mentioned the "dreaded chapter," as he tried to write the last chapter of the book. He had every excuse in the book, from buying dog food, to stopping at five o'clock. He hates writing that last chapter.

When he would mention a bad experience, he would often follow up with the silver lining. The contrasts were amusing.

One entry told of a conflict with dealing with a Hollywood studio over Deaver's book, A Maiden's Grave. They wanted to call "Dead Silence," because it had no maiden, and no grave, and the movie audience wouldn't get the subtle meaning from the book. Deaver said, well, this same studio made "Barbarians at the Gate", and it didn't have barbarians, and it didn't have a gate. They still wanted to call it "Dead Silence." Deaver is very fatalistic in accepting the worlds of publishing and Hollywood. He said there is some stupidity in the world, and these were just some crazy anecdotes about writing.

After finishing his reading, Deaver asked for questions from the audience. He said he does teaching, so he was perfectly willing to call on us if no one had questions.

He was asked about the submission of his first book, and he said he submitted it to fifty publishers before it was accepted. According to Deaver, "Rejection is not a brick wall. It's a speed bump." He said it's all subjective with publishers anyways. When he was working in publishing, William Styron passed on Michener's Hawaii. He was later fired. At the time Jeffery Deaver submitted his book, authors could send them directly to publishers. Now, everyone has to send it to agents first.

Jim asked how he came up with the character of Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is a forensic detective, and The Broken Window is the eighth book in the series. He is a quadriplegic. He can breathe on his own, and has a little motion in his hands. Deaver said an author writes for his readers. He wanted to write something new. What would be fun to read. He said Lincoln Rhyme is pure mind, and he's universal. We're all minds before bodies. He never thought it would be a series, but he even has Lincoln Rhyme fans in Latin America and Japan

He was asked about Denzel Washington playing Rhyme in the movies. He said Denzel has moved on, and the franchise itself is in litigation over money. His book, The Sleeping Doll, is supposed to be made into a movie with Uma Thurman playing Kathryn Dance.

Deaver said he'd forgotten to do the shameless self-promotion. He has a second book coming out this year, in November. He's been writing fewer short stories, and working on novels instead because fans wanted two books a year. The next book, The Bodies Left Behind, is a standalone thriller. He calls it, "Thelma and Louise meets Deliverance."

When someone mentioned all of the twists and turns in his book, he said he comes up with the twists by outlining.

The audience was surprised at the humor in his diary entries. He said he once challenged a class to answer the question, who were his influences. He said they mentioned different people, including Shakespeare, but finally one bright young woman answered correctly, Seinfeld. The multiple stories are interrelated. He said his humor is based on the unexpected. That's scary in the context of Deaver's books. He said Lincoln Rhyme does get in some zingers. Lincoln is a stickler for grammar and punctuation, and there is a running gag in the books about language. However, Rhyme is a curmudgeon.

He said he once turned down dinner with Angelina Jolie, since he was too busy writing his next book. Besides, she scares him.

Jim asked if he ever wrote a standalone, and then thought it would have made a good series. Jeffery Deaver said he's alternating the Lincoln Rhyme books and the Kathryn Dance books, so one will be out every June. He's written them so they can solve any crime, so those books are open-ended. But, his standalones couldn't sustain a series.

When he was asked about his favorite book, Deaver said it was Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin, 1936. It did well in Europe, but he was disappointed with the reaction in the U.S. It explores more interesting ideas than his other books, and has the most heartfelt character development. It's 100% accurate historically. It has lots of research, and he likes that. It has good surprise endings, and he thinks readers will be surprised. It's the story of a hitman hired to kill Hitler's armaments director. It wasn't published in Germany. They wouldn't touch it.

Jeffery Deaver said he stays on top of new technology by subscribing to blogs and websites. A question brought him back to The Broken Window. Was he ever a victim of identity theft? He said someone once stole his credit card information, and the identity number and charged $3000 online. Worst of all, they changed his address so he never received the bill, so he didn't pay. The damage was done by the time he realized it because he had moved. By the time he realized it, his credit rating had been trashed.

Jeffery Deaver was nice to everyone, and patiently signed books, and posed for pictures, including one with Jim. And, if you get the chance to see him, you'll enjoy Deaver's quiet, dry humor.

Thanks to The Poisoned Pen Bookstore and Sunrise Mountain Library for hosting Jeffery Deaver. And, I bought two books and had them autographed, so they'll be the prizes in the next contest. Watch for that tomorrow night!



(Jim with Jeffery Deaver)

Horses and Unicorns

Purple Sky Publishing is an independent publisher located in Parkville, Missouri. They recently sent me two picture books for review. Although I'm not a children's librarian, I did specialize in juvenile literature in grad school.

Tera's Dawn was written by Susan K. Schank and illustrated by Denise Seah. Children will worry about, and cheer for Tera, a wild horse captured by ranchers, just like her mother had been. Was Tera destined to be a plow horse, or meant to run free? The story is fine, but I had problems with the illustrations and the choice of fonts in the book. The font used makes the words appear blurry on the page. And, as a horse lover, I was disappointed in some of the illustrations. Tera looked beautiful in motion, but when any of the horses, the dog, and the people were still, they looked stiff and unrealistic. Tera's Dawn is an average book.

However, Unicorn Races is stunning. Stephen J. Brooks is the
author, and Linda Crockett the illustrator of this gorgeous book. It's the perfect book for those young girls who dream of being princesses, dressed in pinks and purples. Once Abigail's mother tucks her in at night, Abigail creeps out of bed, dresses in her princess dress, and calls for a unicorn. She flies across the night sky to a place where elves and fairies make cookies and cakes and ice cream sundaes. And, before they all eat, they cheer the unicorns who race to the stars and the ocean. Unicorn Races is lushly illustrated in blues and pinks and purples, perfect for the princess in your life. Max may dream of monsters, but Abigail's dreams are a little girl's fantasy. Brooks and Crockett understand little princesses.


Tera's Dawn by Susan K. Schank, illustrated by Denise Seah. Purple Sky Publishing, ©2008. ISBN 9780976901792 (hardcover).

Unicorn Races by Stephen J. Brooks, illustrated by Linda Crockett. Purple Sky Publishing, ©2007. ISBN 9780976901730 (hardcover), 32p.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2008 Macavity Award Nominations

Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries for the Macavity Awards. The Macavity Award is named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats).

The 2008 award nominations are for books published in 2007. Here are the nominations.

Best Mystery Novel

Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House)
The Unquiet by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton/Atria)
Blood of Paradise by David Corbett (Ballantine Mortals)
Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie (HarperCollins)
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (Morrow)

Best First Mystery

In the Woods by Tana French (Hodder & Stoughton/Viking)
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)
Stealing the Dragon by Tim Maleeny (Midnight Ink)
The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees (Soho)

Best Mystery Short Story

"A Rat's Tale" by Donna Andrews (EQMM, Sept-Oct 2007)
"Please Watch Your Step" by Rhys Bowen (The Strand Magazine, Spring 2007)
"The Missing Elevator Puzzle" by Jon L. Breen (EQMM, Feb 2007)
"Brimstone P.I." by Beverley Graves Myers (AHMM, May 2007)
"The Old Wife's Tale" by Gillian Roberts (EQMM, Mar-Apr 2007)

Best Mystery Non-Fiction

Rough Guide to Crime Fiction by Barry Forshaw (Penguin Rough Guides)
Chester Gould: A Daughter's Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy by Jean Gould O'Connell (McFarland & Company)
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, edited by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley (HarperPress/Penguin)
Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland (Howdunit Series, Writers Digest Books)
The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians, compiled and edited by Roger Sobin (Poisoned Pen Press)

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (Penguin)
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Putnam)
The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin (Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthrone (Viking/Penguin)
The Gravediggers Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates (HarperCollins Ecc)

Congratulations to all of the nominees

The Tiniest Tiger

Joanne L. McGonagle's The Tiniest Tiger combines story and educational facts in a picture book. The author/illustrator uses the adventures of a little lost kitten to tell the story of the endangered big cats.

When a kitten follows a butterfly, she becomes lost, and finds herself at the zoo. In looking for the other cats from her alley, she finds the signs for the big cats. She asks each cat - the tiger, the lion, the cheetah, and others whether she's part of their family, and each cat tells her why she isn't, and suggests she ask another cat.

This book can be used with younger children as a straight story of a lost kitten at the zoo, or with older children to tell about the endangered cats. The author relates the facts about endangered animals in a very subtle manner; the signs for each cat relates facts about the animal, including life span, endangered status, and a map of their home continent.

The Tiniest Tiger has soft watercolor illustrations, but, in order to appeal to the younger children, it could have used more pictures. The body proportions seem a little off for the child in the book, and the kitten is a little too rounded. At the same time, it tells an important story about conservation in an enjoyable format. And, all of the cats, from the biggest cats to The Tiniest Tiger are appealing in Joanne L. McGonagle's book.

The Tiniest Tiger by Joanne L. McGonagle. BookSurge, LLC, ©2008. ISBN 9781419684678(paperback), 52p.

Jim Recommends - The Last Campaign

By now, anyone who reads this blog regularly should know my husband's political views. Jim recommends The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America by Thurston Clarke. He said it's a nostalgic look at the last 82 days of Bobby Kennedy's life and his campaign for the presidential nomination. His caring for the poor, disadvantaged and minorities in America comes across strongly in this book. It's also a good portrait of the ruthless Bobby, and the change into the caring Bobby.

Jim said, John Greenleaf Whittier sums it up perfectly in his poem, "Maud Muller".

"Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"

The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America by Thurston Clarke. Henry Holt and Company, ©2008. ISBN 9780805077926 (hardcover), 336p.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The 50,000th Visitor

Congratulations to Diane D. of Edison, NJ. Diane was the 50,000th visitor to Lesa's Book Critiques.

In celebration, Diane has been offered her choice of three ARCs. I'll announce her choice on Thursday night, along with the winners of this week's contests.

Thank you to everyone who has read the blog in the last three years. I hope you continue to come back for more book reviews, author interviews, and book news.

Congratulations, Diane!

George Carlin has Died

George Carlin died yesterday at the age of 71, of heart failure. Why should readers care? Because his routine "Seven Words" became a free speech issue, taken up by the courts. And, because his book, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, was published four years ago, but libraries are still dealing with it. One of the Arizona libraries dealt with a censorship issue about that book just last year. Three years after it was published, someone objected to the sound recording in the library. The sound recording stayed on the shelf.

I started this blog in January 2005, and it has changed a great deal in three years. When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? was one of the first
books I reviewed on here. It certainly wasn't much of a review, looking back at it. Here it is.

A little different from 84, Charing Cross Road. I just finished When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin. It's been on the New York Times Best Seller List, and it's social commentary/humor. A little too gross in some parts for my taste, but much of his social commentary is right on target.

George Carlin, RIP.

Writing in an Age of Silence

Sara Paretsky's small book of essays, Writing in an Age of Silence, carries messages much bigger than the book itself. It certainly isn't as well known as it should be. Paretsky's essays tell about finding voices for the voiceless. In this important election year, Paretsky needs to be heard.

As a librarian, I cared about the section, "Libraries and civil liberties." As readers, everyone should care. She says, "Everyting is harder for new writers now, in many ways, and one of those ways is the steep drop in book sales to libraries. Somehow in the last two decades, Americans have decided that it is outrageous to pay taxes to support the common good. As a result, we have repeatedly cut library budgets, until today libraries have about a third of the money to buy books that they did twenty years ago." If your library collections are smaller than they used to be, if they lack the depth they used to have, ask yourself this question. Do you support your public library with your voice? Do you check books out of the library, or do you buy the books you want? Do you tell your local government that you want the library to be supported?

This isn't the primary message of Paretsky's book. Paretsky speaks up for those who have no voice, those like the child she was, in a home that could crush a soul. She observed lives crushed when she worked for civil rights in Chicago in the 1960's. And, in so many ways, Paretsky is still a voice for the voiceless, using her fictional character, V.I. Warshawski, to fight for their rights.

Most of all, Sara Paretsky uses her book, and the essay, "Truth, Lies, and Duct Tape," to give voice to the truth, something that hasn't been spoken much in recent years. When she talks about what we've done to air travel, she says, "Every aspect of life in contemporary America is affected by the public reaction to the events of September 11: a ruinous war in Iraq, the threat, as I write this in the fall of 2006, that the United States will compound the sins we committed in attacking Iraq by going to war against Iran; the erosion of our civil liberties; the collapse of our economy, so that we cannot afford to fund programs for the public good, even if the government had the will to do so; and, over it all, the use of language to distort, to corrupt, to lie, on a scale only George Orwell or Joseph Goebbels might have imagined."

Writing in an Age of Silence is an important book. Read Paretsky's introduction, and her final essay, and ask yourself why this book is so important, particularly in an election year.

Writing in an Age of Silence by Sara Paretsky. Verso, ©2007. ISBN 978-1-84467-122-9(hardcover), 138p.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Salon - After Rubicon




How do you decide what to read after you've finished a perfect book? I just finished Lawrence Alexander's political thriller, Rubicon. For those of us who are suspicious of the motivations and moves of the current administration, this book hits home. The story of an honest Senator, trying to find his way through lies and deception to find the truth behind political assassinations, is a fascinating book. Political junkies should definitely read this novel, particularly in an election year. How much truth is behind this novel? The reader will have to decide.

So, after finishing Rubicon, or any terrific book, I have a hard time settling into the next book. I usually sample, a little of this one, and a little of that, to find one that I can enjoy after the last good one. Although I have at least fifty books in my closet, these are the ones I picked for the short stack today.

After the political nature of Rubicon, maybe I should dip into Sara Paretsky's nonfiction book, Writing in an Age of Silence. According to the book jacket, "Sara Paretsky explores the traditions of political and literary dissent that have informed her life and work, against the unparalleled repression of free speech and thought in the USA today." It would certainly fit the spirit of Rubicon.

Or, I might look back, with Kenneth C. Davis' book, America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation. It's another book that would be a logical successor to Rubicon.

I'm tempted by the cover of Billie Letts' latest novel, Made in the U.S.A. It's one
of the most attractive covers I've seen in a long time. It's the story of two abandoned children searching for a family and a place to call home.

Or, I could go back to Maryann McFadden's The Richest Season, the book I set aside when Janet Evanovich's latest book, Fearless Fourteen, arrived. It's the story of a corporate wife who has had enough with moving, and packs up to move to Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

Decisions, decisions. It's a tough choice for a Sunday morning, but I think I can handle it. How do you decide what you'll read after you finish one of those books that you put down with a sigh of happiness?

Rubicon

My husband, Jim, is a conspiracy buff. He's read every book about John Kennedy's assassination, seen every movie, and knows the Zapruder film frame by frame. When he recommends a political thriller to me, knowing I'm not a fanatic, I know it will be worth reading. He was right. Lawrence Alexander's Rubicon is a novel that thoughtful Americans should read during an election year. Yes, it's a novel. Could it happen? Read it, and judge for yourself.

Senator Bobby Hart has a reputation as an honest man, a man who turns down the chance to run for president because of family concerns. Because he is honest, and his father was respected in the CIA, Bobby is the choice of a respected source to receive the warning about another attack on the United States. However, this time, the attack would come from within, from an unknown group who would use whatever means possible, including assassination, to achieve their goal. But, who is the group? And what do they want? Bobby has no idea, but when a presidential candidate is shot, he realizes his sources might be right. And, when those same trusted sources are murdered, Bobby knows he, and the country, are in trouble.

Rubicon. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, there was no turning back. Fortunately, for Bobby, he has a small group of friends who are willing to help him search for the truth. His search will bring him into conflict with the current administration, the Attorney General, and the Director of the CIA. His friends point out that Roman history is being repeated, as the United States fights an unpopular war, and civil rights are violated. Bobby asks the Attorney General, "Don't you think there is more than a little irony...in the fact that the only way you can think to bring democracy to the world is to end it here at home?" There's not only no turning back for Bobby in his search for the truth; there's also no turning back for the country. What kind of road is the country on? Bobby Hart's story is a fast-paced page turner for any political junkie.

I'm not happy with the plot synopsis of this book, but I can't give away too much. You have to read it this book yourself. You decide if it rings true.

Lawrence Alexander, author of Rubicon, discussed the book in "The Huffington Post" on May 5. He said after September 11, Rudy Giuliani suggested that the election for mayor should be put on hold, and he'd continue to run the city. Alexander asks the question, what would happen if a terrorist attack took place just before a presidential election, and one or more of the candidates was killed.

Alexander's Rubicon is a perfect thriller for this election year. It may only be a novel, but there are interesting issues in Rubicon. Was it deliberate deception that took us into war? What's going on in our government? Could the plot of Rubicon happen here? Has it already started? You'll have to decide.

Rubicon by Lawrence Alexander. William Morrow, ©2008. ISBN 978-0-06-145640-4 (hardcover), 295p.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Don't Call Me...

David Montgomery, the well-respected book reviewer, has a blog, Crime Fiction Dossier. He once did a blog called, "How not to talk to reviewers," and authors would be very wise to check his blog for this article.

David receives a lot more books a week than I do, sometimes hundreds in a week. However, between books sent by publicists, authors, and books I want to read from the library, I probably add fifteen books a week to the piles in my closet. That's fifteen a week, when I've already said I only read about fifteen a month. I might start a book, and find something else I'd rather read. I'll probably go through thirty books to find the fifteen I'll read and review.

And, like David, I appreciate the books. I'll talk about them on my blog, as a treasure in my closet, if they arrive a couple months before publication date. However, I totally agree with him. I don't think I need to write everyone and say, I picked up your book, and I just couldn't get into it. Or, I found something I wanted to read instead. Or, even, I'm sorry. I just didn't get a chance to get to your book.

As an author, or publicist, you don't do yourself any favors when you continue to bug a reviewer, asking about your review. If it appears on my blog, I reviewed it. If it doesn't, I didn't review it. It's as simple as that. And, I'm less likely to pick that book up again if the author is a pest.

David Montgomery said book reviewers tend to be cranky. If you've read my reviews, you can tell that I'm usually not cranky. But, I'm not going to answer you when you pester me. I'd rather read a good book than waste time on email.

So, this is a general answer to all authors or publicists out there. Thank you for the books and the ARCs. But, once I receive them, don't call me...

Fearless Fourteen

When Stephanie Plum tells Morelli, "You have three lunatics guarding your house, there are a bunch of fortune hunters creeping around your yard, someone sent you Loretta's toe, and Bob ate my underpants," it's a normal day in Stephanie Plum's life. If you were giving up on Janet Evanovich's books, thinking they were getting a little stale, try her new one, Fearless Fourteen. With this book, she's introduced new characters, and the book is fresh and funny.

In fact, Evanovich introduces Stephanie as if it was a new series, and readers were unfamiliar with the cast. Of course, nothing goes right for her. Her weekend job working security with Ranger brings her into contact with Brenda, an over-the-hill singer looking for a new career. Can you say nightmare when Brenda wants a reality TV show with Brenda, Lulu and Stephanie working as bounty hunters?

If that isn't bad enough, Morelli and Stephanie end up babysitting a teen when his mother is kidnapped, and the kidnappers think Morelli has $9 million buried at his house. Morelli's house is suddenly the center of all action in the Burg, and the action isn't between Stephanie and Morelli.

Fearless Fourteen is a fresh start in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Don't be afraid to pick this one up, unless you can't control your laughter while reading it in public.

Janet Evanovich's website is www.evanovich.com

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich. St. Martin's Press, ©2008. ISBN 9780312349516 (hardcover), 310p.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - King Con

Today, for Friday's "Forgotten" Books, a number of bloggers are talking about books that they "feel are unfairly obscure, or at least important enough to write a brief blurb touting them to the assembled blogosphere."

No one would call Stephen J. Cannell's King Con an important book. However, as a public librarian, it's a book that has proven to be successful for me to use with almost every reader. Emmy Award winner Stephen J. Cannell is the person behind TV hits, "The Rockford Files," "The Commish," "Wiseguy," and "The A-Team." In King Con, he created a character every reader wants to cheer for, Beano X. Bates.

Beano X. Bates is king of the con man, until he messes with the wrong man, a Mafia don who doesn't take kindly to his loss in a card game. After Beano is almost beaten to death, he decides to leave the business. But, with the murder of his cousin, Beano is determined to pull one last big con, and ruin the crime boss. Together with a beautiful prosecutor, and a wonderful cast of characters, Beano X. Bates designs the perfect last job, to prove he is still King Con.

It's a book for anyone who enjoyed "The Sting" or "The A-Team." I never found the other Cannell books as interesting, but King Con is a winner.

King Con by Stephen J. Cannell. William Morrow and Company, Inc., ©1997. ISBN 9780688147761 (hardcover), 407p.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thank you - Maria Shriver's Memorial Poem

Maria Shriver read the poem, "The Little Ship", at Tim Russert's memorial service yesterday. When I copied it here, I had no idea that it meant as much to other people as it did to me. Almost 800 people have come to the blog, looking for this poem. It says a great deal about Tim Russert, and what he meant to people, that so many of us watched the service, and identified with the poem. It also showed how beautifully Maria Shriver read the poem, one that was sent to her by someone after the death of her cousin, John F. Kennedy, Jr. Thank you for coming to the blog to read it. I'll share it again, in case you missed it.

The Little Ship

I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted his white sails with a golden light, and as he disappeared from sight a voice at my side whispered, "He is gone".

But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy expectation. Suddenly they caught sight of the tiny sail and, at the very moment when my companion had whispered, "He is gone" a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, "Here he comes!"


I don't know if you noticed the picture. It was a beautiful day in Washington, D.C. yesterday, for Tim Russert's memorial service. When they ended the service, the song played was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." And, according to MSNBC, at that time, they were worried about the lightning and storms. Was it a surprise, to any of us watching who cared about a man we never met, that after the service, and the lightning, there was a double rainbow? It was a fitting conclusion, just one more memorial for a man we'll miss.

Crime: Southern Style Contest and Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Joseph K. from Lowell, MA will receive C.J. Box's book, Blue Heaven. Dana Stabanow's Prepared for Rage will go to Ann C. in Saint Cloud, MN. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I have two ARCS (Advanced Reading Copies) to give away in the category Crime: Southern Style. Mary Saums brings back Jane Thistle and Phoebe Twigg in Mighty Old Bones. Tullulah, Alabama can be a little sleepy, but not when Thistle and Twigg find skeletons. It's another charming story from Saums.

T. Lynn Ocean introduces Jersey Barnes in Southern Fatality. She's an ex-Marine, a bouncy bruentte with a smoldering partner, who finds herself in the middle of a coverup, a kidnapping, and escapades. Nothing a North Carolina girl can't handle.

So, do you want Mighty Old Bones or Southern Fatality? You can enter twice, once to win each book. If you'd like to win one of the books,email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win Old Bones or Southern Fatality. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail the next morning. Good luck!

The Vanished

It's been thirty-five years since Bill Pronzini's The Vanished was published. After hearing Pronzini and Marcia Muller speak, it's going to be interesting to read the series, and see the changes made in that period of time. For instance, in this book, the Nameless Detective is a veteran of the Second World War, in the Pacific. I understand this changes in the course of the series.

As the book opens, it's January, two and a half months after the case in The Snatch, and Nameless is feeling particularly lonely. When Elaine Kavanaugh shows up, saying her fiancé, Roy Sands, has disappeared, he agrees to search for him. It's an unusual case. Roy was leaving the army after twenty years to marry Elaine, and after arriving in San Francisco, he left the Presidio, and disappeared. No one has seen him since, although a few army buddies received money that he owed them. The case will take the detective to Oregon, and Germany, and heartbreak.

The conclusion to The Vanished seems abrupt, and a little rough. However, even in these early books, Pronzini had mastered the phrases to describe loneliness and emotions. At one point, the detective describes Elaine. "I realized the nature of that inexplicable pollutant which had clouded her skin with such inner grayness. It was fear - raw and desperate fear." This second book shows Pronzini growing as an author. There are thirty-one more books in this series, a chance to watch Pronzini become a master.

The Vanished by Bill Pronzini. Random House, ©1973 (hardcover), 181p.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Memorial Poem


Maria Shriver read this poem today at the memorial service for Tim Russert. She said someone sent it to her when her cousin, John F. Kennedy, Jr., died.

The Little Ship

I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted his white sails with a golden light, and as he disappeared from sight a voice at my side whispered, "He is gone".

But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy expectation. Suddenly they caught sight of the tiny sail and, at the very moment when my companion had whispered, "He is gone" a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, "Here he comes!"

Book Challenge Update

Back in January, my niece, Elizabeth, challenged me, saying she could read more books than I did this year.

We're both enjoying the challenge. I sent her a purple journal to keep track of her books.

Elizabeth sent me a tee shirt from her school's Right to Read Week, saying Reading Roundup.

And, how are we doing? Here was my email from Elizabeth today.

Dear Aunt Lesa,
How many books have you read? I have read more than 70. I am still reading now so the number might get even bigger! I might even read more than 100 by the time July comes.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth

And, me? I've read 71 books so far, and I'm writing Elizabeth to tell her it sounds as if she's a little ahead of me.

Keep reading, Elizabeth! You're doing great. Have fun!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Interview with Mariah Stewart


Since I just finished Mariah Stewart's novel, Mercy Street, it was the perfect time to ask for an interview. According to Stewart's website, "Mariah Stewart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nineteen novels and three novellas and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. She is a RITA finalist in romantic suspense and the recipient of the Award of Excellence for contemporary romance, a RIO Award for excellence in women's fiction, and a Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. A three-time winner of the Golden Leaf Award presented by the New Jersey Romance Writers, Stewart was recently awarded their Lifetime Achievement Award, which placed her in their Hall of Fame along with former recipients Nora Roberts and Mary Jo Putney."

Lesa - Mariah, I can tell from your website that you are very busy. Thank you for taking time to answer questions for my blog. For those readers unfamiliar with you and your books, would you tell us a little about yourself?

Mariah - I'm a one-time teacher and a former insurance company VP. I live in Chester county, Pa - married, two daughters (the oldest will be a bride in August, so we all get to play dress-up!), and two dogs. I suppose it's actually four dogs since the girls moved back home temporarily after college and brought their pups with them, so to our two golden retrievers, for the time being, we're sharing a puggle and a Jack Russell terrier. I grew up in central New Jersey, attended Manor Junior College and Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey). I was very fortunate to have sold my first book - and I've had the same agent and editor for every book I've written!

Lesa - What led you to writing?

Mariah - I was read to a great deal as a young child, not only by my mother, but by my grandmother, who came to this country from Scotland when she was in her teens. She met and married my grandfather, and had seven children in a relatively short period of time. She'd had very little education as a child, and little time to catch up when she started having children. I think she took advantage of the opportunity to improve her reading skills by reading aloud whenever she could.

I've been writing stories since I was about seven years old. I was always disappointed when I finished a book because it was over, so I started writing continuations of the books I read so they wouldn't end until I wanted them to. I must have written three or four more chapters for every Nancy Drew book I read! I guess it all comes down to having a love of stories.

Lesa - Would you give us a summary of the book, Mercy Street?

Mariah - Mercy Street really has three stories woven together - there's the loss of Robert Magellan's wife and only child, there's the story of the missing teenagers who are suspected of robbing and murdering two of their friends, and there's the story about the sniper.

Lesa - When I read Mercy Street, I felt as if the story could go on. I see that it's the first in a projected series. Would you tell us about your plans for the Mercy Street Foundation Series?

Mariah - The Mercy Street Foundation grew out of my fascination with the Vidocq Society, which, simply stated, is a group of volunteers from all areas of law enforcement who pool their expertise to help solve cold cases (homicides or unexplained deaths). The Society is located in Philadelphia and meets once a month to discuss cases brought to them for review and discussion (one case per meeting). If the law enforcement agency is agreeable, members may offer their services to assist in solving the crime (that's the short version - for the whole story, go to www.vidocq.org). I'd first heard of the Society back in the late 1990's when they became involved with the unsolved mystery of the Boy in the Box - a young boy between the ages of four and six whose body was found in a box in a then-rural section of Philadelphia. As a young child, I'd had relatives who lived in the area where the child was discovered, and I remembered hearing them talking about the crime. So years later, when I read about the Vidocq Society getting involved with the long-cold investigation, it brought the story back for me. It seemed the organization kept showing up on my radar, and since it seemed like a natural vehicle for fiction, my imagination kept toying with the idea of an organization that undertook investigations that for whatever reason, traditional law enforcement could not (due to time constraints, lack of personnel or funds, etc.), and the Mercy Street Foundation was born.

Lesa - Mallory Russo from Mercy Street shows a great deal of promise as a detective if you were going to write straightforward crime fiction. Are we going to see her again?

Mariah - Yes. Mallory will be the lead investigator for the Foundation, so she'll be calling a lot of shots. Robert's going to give her a lot of leeway when it comes to hiring she he has no law enforcement experience, so you'll see new characters coming on board with each new book.

Lesa - Mariah, you're the bestselling author of nineteen novels, and an award-winner. Which one of your novels would you recommend to someone who has never read your books? Why would you pick that one?

Mariah - Great question! I guess Dead Wrong - it's the first book in the first suspense trilogy I wrote, and it's as good a place to start as any (and I'm now up to twenty-four novels! Time flies when you're having fun!).

Lesa - Your next Mercy Street Foundation book, Forgotten, comes out in August. What are you working on now?

Mariah - Lesa, Forgotten will be the fourteenth book in my long-running FBI series of novels. The second Mercy Street Foundation book will be Goodbye Again, in the spring of 2009 - I'm currently working on it.

Lesa - What do you enjoy most about your writing life, Mariah?

Mariah - Everything! Since at heart, I'm pretty much a loner, I love working at home, by myself, in whatever I feel like waring on any given day. I love fitting together the pieces of the story and I love doing the research and getting to know my characters. I love hearing from readers - some of them have become friends over the years. I really can't think of anything I don't love about writing - I think it's the best job in the world, and I honestly cannot think of anything I'd rather do.

Lesa - Mariah, I have one last question I always ask. I'm a public librarian. Do you have any special memories or comments about libraries?

Mariah - Do I! If not for Mrs. Hoyt at the Highstown (NJ) Public Library, I don't know if I'd be a writer today. When I was seven, I was very ill and spent thirteen weeks - the entire summer - inside, most of that time in bed. There was very little I could do, except read. So every other day, my mother would trudge the three blocks to the library and come back with a pile of books for me. I ended up reading the entire list of children's books several times over, and Mrs. Hoyt would very often send home books that she knew were well above my level so that I'd have to challenge myself. As so often happens, reading those stories fueled my imagination, and led to me writing my own. To this day, I'm still an avid reader.


Thank you so much, Mariah, for taking time for an interview. And, good luck with Mercy Street.

Mariah Stewart website is www.mariahstewart.com

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mercy Street

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning author known for her romantic suspense. However, in Mercy Street the emphasis is definitely on the suspense, rather than the romance. Mystery readers shouldn't hesitate to pick up this absorbing book with an engaging protagonist.

Mallory Russo is an ex-cop who left the Conroy, Pennsylvania police force when the "thin blue line" ganged up on her. She intended to write true crime books until she receives an intriguing offer from a reclusive billionaire, Robert Magellan. Two teenagers were shot on a playground one night, and two other teens have disappeared. Naturally, they're suspects. But the grandmother of one of the teens refuses to believe her grandson killed anyone. Magellan's cousin, Father Kevin, knows all of the teens, and urges his cousin to hire a detective. Mallory Russo is offered the job, and, as a good investigator, she can't resist the case.

In the course of her investigation, Mallory meets Charlie Wanamaker, a new detective hired by the police chief. Despite his own personal problems, Charlie makes time to work with Mallory since the search for the missing teenagers is sidelined by the police department's preoccupation with a sniper.

As mentioned before, the romance is secondary to a straightforward crime investigation. Mallory and Charlie are attractive characters who could be brought back in future books in the Mercy Street Foundation series. And, Stewart is a very smart author. She leaves Robert Magellan's mysterious story unfinished so readers will hope for answers in forthcoming books. Mercy Street is recommended for any crime fiction readers who want a fast-paced book with a complicated plot, appealing characters, and a satisfying conclusion. Most of all, it's recommended for readers who enjoy a solid detective novel, with promises of future ones in the series. I'll be waiting for Forgotten, the second book, due out in August.

Mariah Stewart's website is www.mariahstewart.com


Mercy Street by Mariah Stewart. Ballantine Books, ©2008. ISBN 978-0345492265 (hardcover), 320p.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon is the perfect way to communicate with readers around the world. This is the introduction on the site itself.

"What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book."

Since this is my first Sunday participating as a Sunday Salon blogger, I'll just introduce myself first. I've been a public librarian for thirty years, and worked in libraries even longer. I use my blog to discuss books and authors, with an emphasis on mysteries. And, since this is a worldwide salon, I'm in Glendale, Arizona in the United States.

What am I reading today? I'm reading Mariah Stewart's Mercy Street, a romantic suspense novel in which an ex-cop teams up with a cop, trying to discover what happened when two teens were murdered, and two others disappeared. How does this link with a disappearance a year earlier, when the wife and infant son of a billionaire vanished?

I'm also reading an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of Maryann McFadden's book, The
Richest Season. It's a novel sent because I'm in the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing, a site referred to as "the world's largest book club," where readers can catalogue their books, and discuss them with others. McFadden's book was actually self-published in 2006, and then purchased for publication by Hyperion.

This afternoon, I'll spend time reading chapters from six manuscripts since I'm serving as a judge for a writing contest, reading mainstream fiction.

For this first week, that's my Sunday reading. If you'd like to share the world's reading, check Sunday Salon.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Deborah Crombie at the Velma Teague Library



Deborah Crombie, author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mysteries, is appearing at the Velma Teague Library in Glendale, AZ on Tuesday, July 1 at 3 p.m. She'll be appearing as part of the Authors at the Teague series to promote her latest book, Where Memories Lie.

If you're unfamiliar with this series, start with A Share in Death. It introduces Scotland Yard's Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, in his thirties soon after his promotion to the position. Gemma James, in her late twenties, is his Sergeant, a good-natured single mother with a young son.

Crombie, who lives in Texas, wrote the perfect English "country house" mystery for her debut. Kincaid, who was recently promoted, takes a vacation to Yorkshire, using his cousin's timeshare. The night after he meets Sebastian, the assistant manager of Followdale House, Duncan and two children find the man's body in the swimming pool. Due to the incompetence of a local police inspector, Kincaid is soon probing into the lives of the guests.

Kincaid is a man who cares about the victims, and proves to be a careful listener in his investigation. Deborah Crombie created two characters that exemplify the best of British police detectives. If you appreciate A Share in Death, there are eleven more books in the series.

Deborah Crombie will be discussing the Kincaid/James series, and signing books at the Velma Teague Library, 7010 North 58th Avenue in Glendale on July 1 at 3 p.m. Call 623-930-3431 for further details.

Deborah Crombie's website is www.deborahcrombie.com

Jim recommends...Joel C. Rosenberg

Jim recommends Joel C. Rosenberg's series for those who liked the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Rosenberg's books are political thrillers that feature Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy, senior White House advisors. According to Jim, the books are quite similar to the Left Behind series, but much better written.

The books are: The Last Jihad (2002)
The Last Days (2003)
The Ezekiel Option (2005)
The Copper Scroll (2006)
Dead Heat (2008)


And, of course, the day after Tim Russert's death, and Father's Day weekend, he suggests you might want to pick up Big Russ & Me, a book that is presently #1 on Amazon's bestseller list.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert 1950-2008

NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert died suddenly today at age 58. He was the host of Meet the Press since 1991, and he brought civility and a great deal of knowledge to Sunday morning. I was stunned to read about his death, and I called Jim to tell him.

We feel so bad for the country that has lost a wise voice, someone who didn't scream or argue the news at us. He seemed so enthusiastic about this election year, first the Democratic race, and now the excitement of the race between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Tim Russert made us care about his family, even though we never met them. He wrote Big Russ & Me about his relationship with his father. And then two years ago, he wrote Wisdom of Our Fathers. It's almost ironic that it was a Father's Day book, and Tim Russert did a publicity tour for that book prior to Father's Day in 2006. Now, he's gone just before that day.

On June 21, 2006, I did a book review of Wisdom of Our Fathers, but the family man in Tim Russert would probably appreciate that he brought back memories of my own father. He said his book Big Russ & Me encouraged so many people to talk about their relationships with their fathers. That book contained letters telling about those relationships.

Jim and I are sorry for Tim Russert's family - his father, Big Russ, his son, Luke, and his wife. As often as he talked of them with pride on TV, we know how much he loved them. He loved his family, and talked of them and his background, coming from a working class community in Buffalo.

And, we're sorry for the American people. Keith Olbermann has been asking tonight, how will we get answers in the future. I don't know. I don't know who is out there who loved politics, and could share that love, enthusiasm and his historical knowledge with all of us.

Tim Russert - 1950-2008

“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” William Shakespeare.