Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Shopping for Books

A cherry pie with lattice crust sitting on a sunny table
Have another slice of holiday pie while you do some cyber shopping.

Yes, this season we'll be buying books at our local, independent bookstores. And for those of us who buy lots of books, it is also nice to have this deal right now from Amazon: Use the code HOLIDAY30 to get 30% off a print book (up to $10; one use per account).

Amazon's terms and conditions page says, "offer good while supplies last." Have to say, that sounds sort of ominous for readers!!

What am I buying with my coupon? All About Braising by Molly Stevens.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From A Great Collection of Love Stories.

I just found this excellent 2013 post from Half Price Books: 50 Greatest Love Stories Ever Told (in a book). This is a terrific collection. Some of my favorites on the list are Water for Elephants, The History of Love, Atonement, The Fault in our Stars, and Bel Canto. Others I read long ago, like The Thorn Birds and Anna Karenina; perhaps I should read some of them again.

How many of these books have you read? What are your favorites? Join the Facebook group and let us know!

Thanks to Half Price Books for creating this list.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Suspenseful Reading: A Billion Ways to Die by Chris Knopf.

Photo of title page from Chris Knopf's book, A Billion Ways to Die

In A Billion Ways to Die, author Chris Knopf brings us the third installment of his series featuring Arthur Cathcart. Cathcart's tale began in the thriller Dead Anyway, in which his wife is murdered and he is shot in the head in the couples' Connecticut home. Cathcart's recovery is partial - he suffers from brain damage - but with the help of his sister, a physician, this computer wizard manages to get declared dead so that he can anonymously investigate why his ordinary life has been shattered. What did the murderer want from his wife, the owner of an insurance-brokerage firm?

Although there is some resolution to the crime in Dead Anyway, Cathcart wants more answers. He goes digging for them in the second installment, Cries of the Lost. There is money involved here and thus his probing triggers a lethal response; Cathcart must move fast and be smart to stay ahead of the game.


Now in part three, Cathcart and his partner Natsumi Fitzgerald are in the Caribbean, looking for peace and safety. It's illusive, however. The couple are kidnapped, questioned and almost killed. Cathcart must find out who is behind this action and how he can identify and stop these bad guys who apparently know all of his secrets.

A Billion Ways to Die is a globe-trotting, action-packed thriller with plenty of high-tech twists. What's lovely about Chris Knopf's work is that his writing is smart, with welcome touches of wry humor. And while this is an enjoyable book all on its own, reading the books in order is great fun, in my opinion.

Check out Chris Knopf's Arthur Cathcart series for an exciting read from an author who knows what he is doing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Recommended Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

If you are looking for a funny, breezy, sweet read, definitely check out The Rosie Project by Australian writer Graeme Simsion.

The book's protagonist is a professor of genetics who likely has Asperger's syndrome. The professor, Don Tillman, has decided to take a scientific approach to finding, at long last, a wife. While pursuing this, The Wife Project, he meets Rosie Jarman. Rosie is not at all what Don has defined as the perfect life partner. But he likes her and decides to use his scientific skills and resources to help Rosie find her biological father. Quirky adventures follow for Don and Rosie. And for Don, it seems that just when you stop trying to find love, love appears.

This is a creative, up-beat, and enjoyable novel. Check out The Rosie Project.

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Delicious: A Novel" by Ruth Reichl

Delicious: Girl moves to New York, finds her niche, gets a makeover, gets a new boyfriend, solves a mystery, and comes to terms with a sorrow from her past. Food is involved.

This plot appears to make Delicious what they call "women's fiction". I found it to be a perfectly fine beach or airplane read from Reichl, who is a food writer, the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet, and author of numerous memoirs including the excellent Tender at the Bone.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Recommended Reading: "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir " by Roz Chast.

The dreaded parent-in-crisis call: From Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Roz Chast is a cartoonist. You're probably familiar with her work for The New Yorker. In her graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, she turns her talents to chronicling her experiences helping her parents as they physically and mentally decline from old age to old-old age and ultimate death.

If you've gone through this same experience with a parent, as I have, you will immediately recognize the book's truth. Roz copes with it all, including emergency phone calls, hospitalizations, the need to move her parents into a new living situation, coping when the first parent dies, dealing with institutions, paperwork, and worrying about money (will it last?). The messiness of all of this is cleanly presented in Chast's signature drawing style, some photos, and a succinct narrative.

For those of us in the United States, the familiarity of Chast's experience is both comforting and frightening. I found it striking that what Chast went through with her parents in Brooklyn and Connecticut so closely mirrored my experiences with my elderly parents who lived a world away in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Many times while reading this memoir I wished I could call Roz Chast on the phone and tell her 'that happened to me too, and I felt the same way.'

My mom died last March at age 89. In January, when I was visiting her in her room at an assisted living facility, she said, "It is a terrible thing to get this old." Well, it for sure is not easy. And Roz Chast does a brilliant job illustrating the experience from an adult child's perspective.