Showing posts from January, 2010

J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, just as famous for his reclusive lifestyle as for writing The Catcher in the Rye, died yesterday at the age of 91.

Auschwitz Liberation Day

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Learn more from the BBC New's article Auschwitz Liberation Marked on Holocaust Memorial Day here.

In honor of the day and the memory of those who lost their lives simply due to their religion, ethnic background, sexual preference, or anything else marking them as "different" or "other," here are some of my favorite books related to the Holocaust/Shoah.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. In the various editions and languages available, I think it's safe to say that Anne's diary is the most-read book about the Holocaust, in addition to being the first exposure to the subject for many people.

Anne's such an insightful, intelligent teenager. Not only can I completely identify with her, but the thought of her life ending too soon and senselessly is maddening.

[Aside: If you find yourself in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is moving in its simplicity.]

Night by Elie Wiesel is another book…

Die for You by Lisa Unger

A friend recommended Lisa Unger's Black Out to me, and I'm now thinking I should try the title that was actually suggested in the first place because Unger's Die for You (2009) left me cold.

The basic plot drew me to the book. Isabel Connelly is a bestselling novelist living a life in Manhattan with all of the visible trappings of success, including a good-looking, ambitious husband, Marcus Raine. Only, their marriage isn't perfect, and she soon learns even what she thought she had with Marcus is all a lie when he disappears.

Dead bodies, missing money, learning that Marcus Raine is an assumed identity--plenty of reasons for Isabel to track down "Marcus."

Although I found more than a few quotable lines in the book, the shifting points of view distracted and annoyed me. I just couldn't really engage with the characters in the way it's written. There's just too much about Isabel's sister and brother-in-law and a police detective that didn'…

A Fine Specimen by Lisa Marie Rice

I have an answer for why Lisa Marie Rice's A Fine Specimen (2009) didn't "click" with me, despite the fact that she's one of my favorite authors. According to Amazon, this is actually a re-release of a book released as Taming Nick by Elizabeth Jennings (2000). And this book isn't written the way Jennings aka Rice writes as Rice; this isn't the erotic romantic fiction I expected. So I think I can be forgiven for my disappointment.

Caitlin Summers approaches police Lieutenant Alex Cruz about observing and interviewing his unit over the course of a week for her dissertation. The last thing Alex wants is a pretty distraction in the way when he's on the case of a lifetime. Caitlin has a trump card, though, because the man who saved Alex from a life on the streets sent her to him.

Can they fight their attraction in order to have a professional, although only for a limited time, working relationship? What happens when Alex's case intersects with his …

This and That

Mystery/suspense author Robert B. Parker died. Although I haven't read any of his books, I enjoyed the 1980s t.v. series "Spenser: For Hire," based on his Spenser Series. Quite a prolific author, the next in his Jesse Stone series is due for release next month. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends and, in a different way, to his numerous fans.

Several children's book award winners announced recently, including When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead for the Newberry Award and The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney for the Caldecott Medal. You can find a comprehensive list of the winners and honor books at Barnes & Noble here.

I must be in a reading funk right now. I started, and quickly abandoned, both Covet by J.R. Ward and A Fine Specimen by Lisa Marie Rice. I won't be going back to Covet, ever, but Rice is one of my favorite authors. I'll be trying A Fine Specimen when I'm in a better frame of mind--less cranky and not quite so focused o…

The Story of Son by J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward's The Story of Son (2008) is the main reason I originally bought the Dead After Dark collection.

Imagine my surprise when I decided that, if someone dropped this story into my lap without revealing an author, I don't think J.R. Ward would come to mind very quickly. That's actually not a negative since I get tired of reading the same general story over and over from the same author. Variety is good; formulaic writing may make money, but I don't particularly enjoy reading it.

Claire Stroughton is an attorney, and not a character I "liked" at the beginning of the story. She grows emotionally during the story, though. During the course of going to what she believes to be a meeting to handle the estate of her best (i.e., richest) client, she's actually imprisoned to serve as a blood donor for Son.

And what she finds is truly sad because Son is as much a prisoner as she is. Locked away by his family for decades, he doesn't even have a name!! …

His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie

His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie (2008) is another re-read from last year that I don't seem to have blogged about before. This is the second in the three-book, at least so far, Regency period Devil Riders series, and the only book from the series that I've read.

In a gorgeously written opening scene, told from both perspectives, two people pass on the road. One appears to be a fine gentleman on a horse of the highest quality; the other appears to be some sort of servant girl catching a ride on the back of a cart. With the cold and the rain, the man gives his fine hat and gloves to the woman as he passes.

But appearances can be deceiving, and fate often brings people who are meant to be together back into contact.

Harry Morant is actually the illegitimate son of an Earl and a servant. After a difficult childhood and eight years at war, he's ready to start a horse breeding business and a family.

Nell (Lady Eleanor) is actually the penniless daughter of an Earl, and their seco…

Seize the Night by Susan Squires

[Okay, I'm cheating a little here, but, this past Saturday being an exception, I generally don't post to my blogs on the weekend. Expect my Short Story Saturday postings during the week. Once a rebel, always a rebel.]

Seize the Night by Susan Squires comes from the Dead After Dark collection (2008).

After spending years building his fortune through pirating, Drew Carlowe returns to where he lived when a stableboy to win the hand of his dream girl and take revenge on her father for having Drew falsely imprisoned. Buying an estate the locals later tell him is haunted by a ghost, he meets Freya, a nine-hundred-year-old vampire, on his first night in his new home.

Freya finds herself drawn to this human male, especially after reading the note he writes to his lost love. Freya, despite the length of her life, has never known true love.

And did Drew, so young when he last saw his dream girl, really know love then? Can he find a more grown up, lasting love with Freya? Or will Freya…

Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian

I just read, and thoroughly enjoyed, Lara Adrian's Veil of Midnight (2009), the fifth book in The Midnight Breed Series. I really thought I had read one or more of the earlier books from the series, but, after reading this one, I don't think so. Guess that gives me something to look forward to in terms of reading the first four books and the sixth book.

Nikolai is a member of a class of warrior vampires, and his latest mission involves visiting a Gen One vampire, one of less than two dozen left, in Montreal because someone is targeting the Gen One vampires for assassination. (Gen One vampires are the result of the original alien males raping and impregnating human females when they reach Earth. I have to admit the "alien origination" for vampires isn't one of my favorite concepts, but Adrian works the idea well enough that I'm okay.)

Renata is what you might call a bodyguard, though slave is more accurate, for the Gen One vampire. With a rare psychic abi…

Stealing Midnight by Tracy MacNish

Wales. 1806. Another stolen corpse has been brought to Olwyn Gawain's father for his experiments. Only this one is a young, handsome man--who isn't really dead.

So begins Stealing Midnight by Tracy MacNish (2009), easily and immediately one of my all-time favorite romance novels.

Olwyn is wonderful--intelligent, unique, and honest to a fault. And she risks everything to save the man from her father.

Although I wasn't quite as crazy about Aiden Mullin, who hides his true identity from Olwyn during the days of his recovery, I can see why Olwyn would be. And he does have a nice streak of honor, despite his lack of honesty with her, and he appreciates Olwyn's originality.

They make a good couple, and they have some obstacles to overcome to be together--their very different status in life, Olwyn's insane father, and Aiden's wicked fiancee, and some attempted blackmail.

Readers who are tired of the little woman waiting around to be saved by the big, strong man wil…

This and That

Fabulous speech on copyright at the National Reading Summit, How to Destroy the Book by Cory Doctorow, as transcribed by Jade Colbert here.

A section of his speech that should resonate with many a reader:

We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there a…

Noir by Olivier Pauvert

Don't let the dedication of Olivier Pauvert's Noir (2005, English translation 2007 by Adriana Hunter) to Japanese coffee mills fool you--this is a dark, horrifyingly violent read. One that I couldn't put down until reading the final sentence, which left me wanting more, despite the violence.

The story is set in France at some unknown point in a very sad, terrifying future. Society is under rigid governmental control, and frightening things are happening in order to maintain that tight control. The average person seems to be numb and accepting, even willingly clueless to the terror.

Our first-person main character is no longer average, a citizen, or numb. He's a central player in a nightmare outside of his control. And, when he does exert some limited control--the little left to him--over his destiny, the violence is chilling.

I don't want to say anything that gives too much away. I'll just note that the writing is fantastic and mesmerizing, and the violence …

Florida & Qatar

Way off the topic of books and reading, but is anyone very versed in Disney World? We promised Maya a trip to Florida for her sixth birthday, which is this June. There are four of us making the trip, including my goddaughter, who will be nineteen then. I'm looking into tickets, hotel reservations, etc. We want to stay at a Disney location. Anyone have tips on which one? My husband likes the Polynesian Resort, but that looks rather "couplesy" to me, and, again, our daughter will be six. Also, I know we need to eat at Cinderella's Castle (wish we could stay there), but even the idea of picking which meal option is overwhelming me. Too many options--all expensive--and I don't know enough to make informed decisions. Help??

Also, anyone familiar with Qatar? Anyone live there or lived there in the past? If so, and you're willing to e-chat about your experiences, please send a message to me at

Back to reading, so I have something to blog ab…

Books as Gifts

Did you give or receive any books as gifts over this holiday season? Were you thrilled to receive a gift card from your favorite bookstore or online book retailer?

Books make wonderful, personalized gifts if you know your friend or family member well enough to make a selection--and know they haven't already purchased the title for themselves!

For 2009:

My daughter, Maya, gave her godmother Diana Gabaldon's An Echo in the Bone in September as an early Christmas gift because we're kind that way--not wanting to make her wait to read her favorite series. She already has a long enough wait between the release of titles of The Outlander series.

Shockingly, I only gave Maya Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor this year. We buy books year-round, though, so maybe that isn't such a shock to only give her one book at the holidays.

I'm giving my goddaughter the latest in the PostSecret series, PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God from Frank Warre…

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that today marks the start of a fabulous new year--and decade--for all of us!

Happy reading and blogging to you in the year ahead.