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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Marcia Clark writes novel "Guilt By Association" ~ Her first legal thriller since OJ Trial

Author Marcia Clark

*Please just take a moment to view this great video from Mulholland Books about "Guilt By Association"

Book Summary:
Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city's most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.

But she can't stop herself from digging deeper into Jake's death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation--and her life--to find the truth.

With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene.

Here's Marcia Clark being interviewed by George Stephanopolis  on Good Morning America

Who is the Author?
A former LA, California deputy district attorney, Marcia Clark is probably best known as the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case. She wrote a bestselling nonfiction book about the trial, Without a Doubt, and is a frequent media commentator and columnist on legal issues. She has appeared on such CNN programs as Nancy Grace. Ms Clark lives in Los Angeles.

My Review:

Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, Marcia Clark can do no wrong. I've always liked her spicey, "I can play with you big boys and win" attitude. She's funny and she's feisty. When I looked to read and review her new book "Guilt By Association," I was hoping I'd see some of Marcia coming through one of her characters. As always, Ms Clark doesn't fail us...

Rachel Knight is a committed DA and worthy protagonist in Clark's first legal suspense novel. She has all that sharp and edgy humor that kept us watching the irrepressible Ms Clark prosecute OJ Simpson against so many odds years ago. 

Rachel Knight is brilliant and formidable, and I like that combination for a woman. It's that unbeatable personality and character mix that makes for today's women who aren't afraid to make a difference and to take a stand against crime.  Rachel isn't just a good prosecutor, she's a lawyer with street smarts and sensitivity, as well as an instinct for the unsaid. The reader can feel her strength and empathy come through. Her sense of humor and witty cat-and-mouse bits make her thoroughly likable and real.

Clark's writing style is conversational and intelligent. It has an easy flow with a good deal of dialogue that brings the reader stealthily into the heart of the thriller.  As Rachel is caught up in the mystery, so are we. Reading along in this novel I felt like I had when I "rode shot gun" with Kinsey Milhone in her early novels...or when I research forensics with Patricia Cornwell. The flow of this novel is similar to both, actually. The easy way of involving and engaging the reader is of the same quality.

Marci Clark has the keen eye of a former prosecutor and legal advisor. She's clear about the problem, the issues and the details. It's apparent in her book. And, it's an element that makes one comfortable in the reading. 

"Guilt by Association" is a book to curl up with on a weekend. It's that good, and it's one you won't want to put down once you start it. Not so somber you'll make frown lines your botox treatments won't fix...not so gorey you'll forget food and fun...but just the right amount of mystery, suspense, thriller and new woman heroine you'll love!

As I said at the beginning of this review; I like Marcia Clark. I like that she's real and that she embraces her imperfections with a toss of her head and a gritty laugh. Just like Rachel Knight.  I like that both Marcia and her main characters have that touch of the indomitable spirit.

"Guilt by Association" is a book I recommend without question. This first book of Ms Clark's in this genre comes away with high marks.

For further information on "Guilt By Association" and a great interview of Ms Clark by a Boston reporter please visit:  http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/

Last Minute Tidbit!
Taken from the Mulholland Books site, this is a great question and answer put to Marcia:

Who are your 5 favorite women crime fighting characters?

Emma Peel (aka Diana Rigg) of “The Avengers”: Before it was cool to let women fight and carry guns, this woman did it all, and in a black cat suit no less.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in “Prime Supect”: Jane is brilliant, tough, straight-talking; a woman who walked the walk without ever resorting to the cartoonish extremes of either trying to be a man or the outrageous coquette. And Helen Mirren is literally the only person who could play her.

Rita Fiore: The hottest female lawyer on two spectacular legs (thanks, Robert B. Parker!). She was Spencer’s “go-to” gal for all kinds of help and information. Every bit as predatory, tough and smart as any man, she and Spencer shared a perpetual, yet unrequited lust.

*My note: Many years ago in Wellesley, MA, I met Robert Parker and his ex-wife at one of those Mystery Dinners that were popular in the early 1990's. She and he were not married but shared the same house...she lived upstairs and he lived downstairs. They held hands and were a well-known "odd couple."  Parker told me that Rita was a composite of his wife who was a dark and sexy woman with long legs and a beautiful figure... She was taller and sexier than the teddy-bearish Mr. Parker. :]

Scully of the “X Files”: Cool as a cucumber, the rational, scientifically-minded counter-part to Mulder. Scully was a woman who could run without pin wheeling arms and wield a gun with believable authority. And, for a change, a woman was the logical, more emotionally balanced end of the team.

Nancy Drew: one of the earliest intrepid females and the heroine of my early childhood. In fact, she’s one of the reasons I wanted to be a thriller writer. At eighty years old (yep, eighty) she’s still out there crushing crime.

Please leave a comment for me! What do you think about Ms Clark's new venture into fiction writing?  Who are your favorite women crime fighters in fiction?


*Ms Clark's publisher is Mulholland Books, from which I received a reviewers copy. I have received no compensation for my review, nor have I been asked to write a favorable review. My opinions and remarks are honestly my own.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"The Mpire: In Search of the Lost" by TL James~Book Tour

The MPIRE: In Search of the Lost, Book 1 by T.L. James

The trilogy of The MPire starts with, In Search of the Lost, which is the story Mallory Towneson Haulm, a sexy financial powerhouse, who lives in a quasi paradise in Austin, Texas. His opulent world is decorated with expensive toys and women more exquisite than an exotic candy shop. After fourteen years of separation from his family, Mallory is summoned to return back home to join The Family Business. Poised for success, Mallory is focused on turning around the ailing business, not realizing that taking his assigned reigns will put him in a position of unrelenting power which he is unaware he even has. His world crashes as he reunites with his brothers and becomes Death, the forth horseman of the Apocalypse. With every complication popping up in his life, the biggest one by far is in the form of an old lover from the past coming back to reclaim the spot in Mallory’s heart. What would you sacrifice to be a part of the MPire?

It is a pleasure to host a virtual book tour for Ms James through Nuture Virtual Book Tourz.  Nurture VBT offers an outstanding opportunity for authors and their new books to be given time on blogs and other media, so that we can get to know them and get a sense of their books through reviews, interviews, video and other means.

I have a small interview which T.L. James and I enjoyed recently, and want to share with you.

             Welcome, Ms James!
             Thank you!

1)        What is your earliest memory about reading a book? 
      My earliest memory of reading a book was in 2nd grade. My mom taught me how to read before I went to Kindergarden.
2)           Do you remember the name of the book? 
       No… but I remember my favorite author was Judy Blume.
       Oh, yes...she's a great favorite of young readers.  I read her books and so did my daughter.
3)        Who encouraged you to read?
      Bullies. LOL! The library is a great place to hide.
      That's funny!  LOL  Libraries are a great place to hide in a lot of ways and from a lot of people and things.  I get your meaning.
4)        What are the books that most inspired you throughout your life?
      Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, Mythology by Edna Hamilton – are my solid favorites!
      You caught me, TL, this was a trick question.  I really did mean what are your favorite books!
5)        You've become a very successful woman on many counts; did you ever think you'd write novels?
      Never! Actually the only reason why I picked up a pen was to entertain myself after I was laid off with my two-month old. I couldn’t watch any more television because the story lines were the same.
      Many a mother has become an author in just this manner.  A friend of mine, Barbara Delinsky, who writes contemporary women's fiction, said she became a writer when she was a new mom home with twins.  At the supermarket she saw a tower with Harlequin Romance Novels on it, thumbed through a couple, and said, "I can do that," so she did!
6)          From where did your characters come?
      My characters were combinations of people I met over the years.
      Many authors say they get their characters from a compilation of people and their imaginations.  I recently heard an interview of Jonathan Franzen's in which he confessed that much of an author's life and of himself (the autobiographical) is in the characters.  Bet yours is, too!  ;]
7)        Did the characters come first, or the idea for the novels? 
      The foundation of the family was developed first. I created the rituals and family creeds and history. Once that happened, my characters started “speaking” to me about their lives and experiences.
8)          Many authors talk about how their books are driven by their characters, or that the characters seem to speak to them in a way and tell them what they are going to do, and who they are. Did you experience this?
      YOU HAVE NO IDEA! I cannot get those boys to SHUT UP! LOL! But I guess it is a good thing, because I can create more stories.
      I can see they are bound and determined to keep you writing about them...those devils!!  LOL
9)          Tell us what you like best about yourself as a writer and about your book.  
      As a writer, I’m still working on that one. LOL! For my book, I love the fact that my books cross over genres and that I am not pegged to one genre, gender, racial lines. My storyline is somewhat original and that it is not predictable. It doesn’t follow a mainstream formula. My story is a solid with a little bit of everything for anyone who likes to read.
      That's a recipe for success in novel-writing, to have it cross all those lines and be universally understood and accepted.  Good for you, TL.  Particularly with a series of books, a formula is so boring and a killer! 
10) Who is your favorite character? 
       I can’t answer this questions… ALL OF THEM ARE!
       Ah, well, another trick question by me, and it didn't get me anywhere.  I bet you have a soft place in your heart for a particular one of those Horsemen, though....and you just won't tell us!
11) Is there another book in the works...that’s the question we all have to ask!
      LOL! – YES! The MPire is a trilogy. I have a prequel to In Search of the Lost called The MPire Chronicles of the Haulm Boys. It depicted the family prior to Mallory returning. If anyone picked up the first installment and then read the prequel, it would answer A LOT of questions. 
      I have the trilogy: The MPIRE: In Search of the Lost, Death Cometh and Trinity.
      In Search and Death Cometh are available NOW!
      The MPire: Trinity will be released on 9/8/11.

12) I found your portrayal of women distressing. Can you tell us more about this?  
      I tried to write my story from a male perspective. Since this was a male dominating family and storyline, I depicted the women as if they were living in the 1950s – family orientated and male dependent. It is kind of how televisions (and the society) see the Women of the show “Real Housewives of (Fill-n the Blank). However, as the story line develops in the other books, the reader would realize that the women play a big and defining role in their husbands’ lives in order for the family to be successful.
      That's good to know, TL, I don't like women being down-trodden for any reason!  :]   So, readers would have the opportunity to see the women being treated more as equals and feisty as your books move on.  Great.  Now, just let me write the rest of those novels for you....No!  LOL  Sorry, I'm so bossy!  :P
      Thanks for spending some time with us answering those questions.  We can see you have a good sense of humor and a strong sense of yourself. 

      I didn't touch on your spiritual background, which I feel is significant to your stories, but readers may find more on you and
"The Mpire" books at:   http://the-mpire-saga.blogspot.com/

      Additionally,  please see TL James's personal website at:

I must add to my readers that I was not able to read all of "Mpire:  In Search of the Lost" prior to this tour.  I hope you will have gotten enough information, however, along with your links to TL James's website and blog to see for yourself if this is a book and/or series of books you'd like to read.  Should I be able to complete my reads, I'll be further reviewing the books.

Thank you for stopping by, and a special thanks to Bobbie at Nurture Your Books.

Readers:  Please leave comments about this tour....did you like it?  Anything else  you'd like to have seen or known?  What could have improved it in your mind?  Any notes to the author?   Your suggestions would help me for my up-coming author tourz.   Thanks!


Monday, April 11, 2011

What Are You Reading This Week? Monday Morning Mystery...

Isn't this a great way to let each other know what we're reading for the week?
I love it!  If you go to the link above, you can see the whole concept on Book Journey.  She's a great blogger with some interesting giveaways, too.

My reads for the week are going to be, and they aren't encased in stone, you understand...  :]

"The Giver"  by Lois Lowry
"The Sherlockian"
and one more which I can't remember and which I can't get to because I'm in my bed with the shades pulled just getting over a migraine...

Why am I blogging with a sensitive head and eyes, you wonder?  Because I'm stubborn and I can't inagine a day without reading or writing.  I'm simply an "eye" person.  Yesterday, when the migraine started, I was just frozen (those of you who get them understand)...but this time, I was so frustrated that I couldn't see and, so, I couldn't write.

Does blogging makes us better writers?  I hadn't thought of that before.  Perhaps it does.  We don't often express ourselves in this manner anymore in our culture.  There are too many other tempting, faster, instant gratification means; i.e., texting, cell phones and the like.  It's wonderfull that there are so many of us who are continuing to write on a daily or at least a weekly basis in our blogs.  Recording herstory...keeping a record of who women were in our century.

Anyway, I'm without eyes much again today, so must go.  Please leave me a list of your books this week.  I would love to know what you're reading.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jonathan Franzen on Writing


The link below will take you to a fascinating interview with author Jonathan Franzen.  I've been following his talks all over the place regarding his new book, "Freedom."

Once you get through the first, primary interview, you will see a list of others you can watch.  Click on the one regarding his ideas about writing.

The interesting thing to me about this particular interview is that Franzen doesn't have his own notes or pre-written text to use, and he's in a foreign country.  The combination of not being able to look at the words of what he thinks, and not being sure how his words are being translated to the mind of the interviewer and to his audience through an interpreter, seems to make him more pensive and more introspective.  Therefore, I believe we are seeing a simpler, more clarified version of him.  This seems to be Jonathan Franzen "distilled."

It's a remarkable study of  him and of his ideas about writing. Writers are amazing creative geniuses.  Like artists who are painters, I want to study them and their works as if under a microscope.  Something in the make up of an art historian and a bibliophile/researcher such as I am, makes me this way.  I could spend hours...  Is this the same curiosity that draws me to forensics???  Oh, no!

Go to:


Please let me know what you think once you've seen the video.  I'm so curious, and look forward to having some dialog with some of you, which I will post on my blog.



Medical Student Shares~"Short White Coat: Lessons from Patients on Becoming a Doctor" by James A. Feinstein MD

"Short White Coat: Lessons from Patients on Becoming a Doctor" by James A. Feinstein MD

Publisher:  iUniverse
Copyright Date:  2009
ISBN:  978-1-4401-7513-8 (soft cover)
            978-1-4401-7514-5 (ebook) 
Pages: 205

Book Summary:

"Most people will, at some point or another, either find themselves dressed in a tiny hospital gown or staring at someone else dressed in a tiny hospital gown. Whether from the perspective of a patient, a family member, or a medical professional, we all have a significant stake in the process of medical education. While numerous memoirs recount physicians' grueling experiences during residency, few focus on the even more formative portion of medical training: the third year of medical school: the clinical year. "Short White Coat..." is the disarmingly honest, yet endearing and sometimes funny account of a medical student's humbling initiation into the world of patient care. 

Written during his third year of medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, James Feinstein's Short White Coat uses a series of engaging narrative essays to illustrate the universal life lessons that his very first patients teach him...Along the way, he learns from his own mistakes before discovering the answer to the question that plagues every medical student: "Do I have what it takes to become a doctor?"

About Him:
"James A. Feinstein MD survived medical school and is thriving as a practicing pediatrician."

My Review:

Just two weeks ago, my mother called to say that she was upset. Her face had developed a horrible, sudden case of rosaceae which traveled up into her hair, causing it to fall out. This is a woman who has kept her flawless complexion looking like a 20 year old's, and her thick, wavy hair in the latest styles as long as I can remember. She's now 80 yrs. old and looks 60.

Off she went to a newly recommended doctor who came in, looked at her face (no eye contact), pronounced her problem rosaceae, plucked a few hair strands out of her crown and said, "Yep, that's what happens when you get old. You lose your hair." To which my mother replies, "I'm not really that old." [This she tells me in a choked voice, so I know it's hurt her spirit.] Then he writes her a `script, tosses it to her, and he's gone.

Mom called not to complain about the rosaceae, but to tell me she misses her old doctor, Dr. Marks, who used to look her in the eyes and ask her what was the matter. The one who held her hand and listened before he examined her, respectfully. Dr. Marks, who smiled kindly and told her she'd be fine, and who waved good-bye. He always made her feel nearly cured. He died two years ago.

Short White Coat..." is, in part the culmination of life lessons in story form of how the latter type of doctor learns and develops that which is inherent in his nature, his heart and his soul. While Dr. Feinstein suggests it's his patients who teach him lessons on doctoring, I would argue that it could only be possible if the student had a teachable heart. This young man does, and on each page of his book it glowingly comes in such an unassuming manner that one can only be humbled in the reading. This is not a braggart's self-congratulatory thesis.

James Feinstein's writing is crisp, clean and engaging. There is a joy and hopefulness to his author's voice. `though, when he is despondent, we feel it; and when he's learned an enduring truth; we do, too. This is the sign of a gifted communicator, a worthy author~one we can profit from reading. With each lesson enabled by patients, Dr. Feinstein invites us along his journey of epiphanies. Although some lessons seem at first to be ones we recognize, he sheds new light on them; a fresh perspective that causes us to reach deeper and look again.

The story of Jack and Hannah, a lower middle-class, elderly couple who lived humbly and kept a kitchen garden, is just such a story that touched me profoundly. When my young husband was dying of cancer, I often concerned myself with whether our house was neat and clean enough for visitors; whether I'd say and do the right things to make them comfortable. I always swore to and did keep my sweet husband informed to the letter about his condition and "what was going on." This story taught me a lesson about that and more. It taught me new lessons about dying and being the caretaker that I had missed.

James Feinstein tells of his teacher, Dr. Freedman, a private practitioner, and himself arriving at the couple's home only to be greeted like visiting royalty. Jack happily leads them through a hoarder's delight of a garage, down a foot-worn carpeted, cramped hallway to Hannah's and his bedroom. All the while, Jack is buoyantly offering homegrown veggies, other refreshments, and boisterous conversation. Hannah, on the other hand, is gray-skinned, deplete of energy and uncommunicative~dying.

Young Dr. Feinstein watches as Jack lightly touches Hannah's shoulder in an unexpectedly gentle and love-filled manner. She visibly melts into a peaceful restfulness. As the doctors go with Jack to his kitchen, attempting to tell him to make preparations since Hannah's days are few, Jack continuously cuts Dr. Freedman off with hearty tales of recipes. He refuses to listen or allow the doctor to speak. Rather, as he leads them back through the garage, Jack offers Dr. Freedman two gifts of such insurmountable value their impact causes James Feinstein to understand there was `nothng else he (I) wanted to do more' than to be a doctor. So simple a story, so profound a confirming message.

Dr. James A. Feinstein shares with us a beautiful collection of memories and life lessons. The pages seem to melt away as they are read. This will be one of the most memorable books you'll read in 2011. It's a book to gift your doctor with this year. It's a book your loved ones and friends will thank you for.

Winner of the Reader Views: "Reviewer's Choice Award of 2010"

I highly recommend this book to everyone of all ages.

*Note:  Do you have any doctor stories to share with us???  Comment below, and I'll post them on my blog.  Thanks!

PS: I hope someone tells Dr. Feinstein I wish him well, and wish he were my doctor.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Caroline Kennedy Compiles Inspirational Poems

Stop By and Join In Our "Follow Friday" Fun Time!


<center><a href="http://www.parajunkee.com/search/label/FF" target="_blank" ><img border="0" src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4019/4710921228_bf32d46f6d_o.png" /></a></center>

Oh, so caught by a book's cover, I had to tell the truth on Parajunkee's Follow Friday's current question from her guest today.  I've always been drawn in by an intriguing or beautiful cover.  As an artist, myself, I can't help "reading" the nuances of the covers...so much of the book is given away that way!  I love to look at them as I'm reading.

This doesn't preclude the fact that I'm also a true reader, so I do read the summaries and flip around in the book before I lay my money down, however.  But, (sigh) truth be told, I'm a sucker for a beautiful cover!

Please leave a comment about how covers affect you!  And, go by Parajunkee's site to get involved in our "Follow Friday" to find some new friends and book blogs.


"The Cypress House," by Michael Koryta ~ Amps Up the Suspense!

"The Cypress House" is one of the first novels I'm not sure I will do justice to in a review.  It is a book so rich in good writing and suspense that it demands reading to really get a complete sense of its excellence.  Michael Koryta is at the top of authors in this genre today.

I am simply exhausted.  "The Cypress House" is not a book that allows you to go calmly about your daily business once you've opened it and read the first two paragraphs.  I've been fitting it into my schedule, bit by bit, for the last three days, and wishing I could have read it in one sitting.  Completely addictive novel...hands down.

Rumors about Michael Koryta's being "one of the best of the best" suspense writers, a quote from Michael Connelly (author of "The Poet," -- a personal favorite), are almost damning him with faint praise. Koryta is in a league of his own, seriously.

He is an artist.  His masterful hand, creating time and place, draws one into step with his characters moment by moment, relentlessly.  Koryta's descriptions are his paintbrush coloring in the reality and truth of things, laying in the minute details.  As he mentions the creaky shutters slamming in the wind 'just like the screen door at his old home'...or something squeaking 'like the swing on the porch' of his father's house, I know exactly what the sound is and where its origin lies.  As a Southerner, I see that picture in my head, and I'm there with his characters...visually, in my hearing and viserally.
This is only one example of many.

I was drawn into the hearts and minds of Koryta's characters, whether good or evil, and could understand the motives of each.  What admirable people the "good guys" are; so worthy of respect and teachers of morals and virtue, 'though not perfect...just a bit grimy with human foibles.

Arlen, a pivitol character, and Paul, who are bonded in a sort of father/son relationship, are characters with depth of sensibility, personality and symbolism.  Their love interest, the central character, Rebecca, is a young woman caught up in personal struggles and circumstances that ask of her self-sufficiency and criminal wiles not common for women her age.
The reader becomes as entangled in the anxieties and complexities of the characters' problems as they do, even as they seem insurmountable. It is this common bonding under duress that Mr. Koryta so deftly channels, bringing us into the situation without our knowing it--as surely as an impending storm will falls on us,  until we've become caught up in the horror and magnitude of the danger, ourselves.  We become  invisible accomplices with our characters, so that when all is done, our own hearts and minds are as striped to the bare bone as theirs. We are as exhausted as they are. Their triumphs are ours; and their losses, our losses.

Along with his "film noir" story setting in the storm tossed, hurricane season of Florida's Gulf Coast, Michael Koryta also throws us the tangy bit of extra-sensory perception. Arlen has the paranormal gift of seeing the impending, possible death of others.  This gift lends another dimension to an already stirling suspense novel.  Mr. Koryta has us totally amped-up for the ride...

His expertise as a writer is refreshing, and far from the stacatto clacking that so many new authors employ in suspense.  His use of vocabulary and dialog works to build his characters and their place in the story to just the right pitch.  Additionally, I learned a great deal about the veteran's work program, the depression era mind-set of post WWI, and political corruption that nearly makes 2011 look bad.  I also learned a bit about a soldier's post-traumatic stress syndrome, and its pros and cons.  The account of Arlen's soldiering days, though horrific, gave substance and foundation to the novel.  There is so much "meat" in Koryta's writing.

He magically employs the technique of anthropomorphic, natural setting to build suspense and an over-hanging doom. A house made of cypress...the wood of coffins, nearly indestructible, and carrying a foreshadowing, for instance.  The darkness of weather patterns and the damage they reek, as well as the frightening unknowns of the swamp, provide an additional picture of looming danger and the unknown factor of an "act of God," which could turn any plan upside down. Because Koryta employs these powerful techniques, we are always set on edge and waiting for the proverbial "next shoe to drop."  It's excruciatingly tantalizing, setting an oppressive mood over our reading.

"The Cypress House" is a powerful and masterfully written murder/suspense novel. Readers of this genre will, from now on, place Michael Koryta's books among those that they purchase simply on the basis that he wrote them. His first editions will become collectible because he is our next "The Postman Always Rings Twice," James Cain-like, suspense author...only, like Cain, he's blazing his own new trail. 

His other books include:  "So Cold The River,"  a recent release and,  "Envy The Night," for which he won The LA Times Book Prize for best mystery thriller

Visit his website at:     www.MichaelKoryta.com

*If you're a Michael Koryta fan, I'd love to know about it in comments!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Sing You Home" ~ Jodi Picoult The Review

Jodi Picoult is the voice of the everyday woman today.  While one may not always agree with her, I believe that she attempts to give as complete a perspective of comtemporary issues as any social "observer" can.  In "Sing You Home," Jodi has made no exception.

Like the message or not. Jodi is what used to be known in ancient times as a "scop." Scop means a bard or news-carrier from Anglo-Saxson England. It was a word practically obsolete by the 14th c., but revived again in the 18th c.  It is a definition of those who carried news and stories from town to town in ancient cities before people could read or write.  What I mean to say here is that Ms Picoult will be known, I believe, as an author who recorded our contemporary times and social struggles in such a way that the general population could understand them...like a scop who stopped in villages and spoke around fire gatherings giving the latest news of the "world."

"Sing You Home," is a controversial novel.  And, it is a good one.  The characters are real;  their feelings and personal struggles are heavy.  Though you may not agree with every decision they make, you can understand why they make them, ultimately.  My daughter who has experienced the personal pain and emotional upheavals associated with IVF, told me she had to put the book down.  She was moved to tears, relating to the reality that Ms Picoult wrote into her characters. She was hit once again with the emotional passages she had walked. "How can she tell about something so intimate?" she wanted to know.  That's the gift Jodi Picoult has.  The gift of conveying the realities of emotional pain, horror, love and healing...the conditions of life.

In "Sing You Home,"  the story guides us through a marriage that disintegrates and then works its way around to something more interesting.  We learn how innovative therapies such as music can reach an otherwise locked-up teenager.  And, we find that a person of age doesn't mean they are unwilling to learn and be valuable contributors to other's lives. While it's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree with decisions made by Picoult's characters, we are given an opportunity to envision the situations that many encounter in our society with it's alternative choices.

Jodi Picoult is an author of significant writing skills.  It is clear that she is capable of reaching a wide range of readers.  Her goal is to do just that.  I believe she is more than capable of narrowing her scope to a more specific following, even to her own personal perspectives alone...but she choses to reach more people with views that are as multi-faceted as possible.  This is the gift of a true writer who is committed to giving herself to her readers for the good of all.  A writer who sees her purpose as shedding light on the issues of the day, and allowing her readers to make their own, more informed decisions about them.

I highly recommend "Sing You Home."  It's a novel that will make you cry, make you think outside the box...it will make you angry, and it will expand your sense of what could be done to resolve what seems unresolvable.  It's a novel of our times for good or for bad.  It sheds a light on what different people and groups of people are thinking and living, and for the most part, I think Jodi does that in a way that's unsurpassed by other writers today.  She knows her readers, and she writes for them. 

I don't think the Christian perspective received a full and complete audit; but, nor do I think the teenager in her novel was fully developed, nor the reality of dealing with different relationships. There is much that could be written about these that was left unsaid in "Sing You Home," so I'm wondering if it's a segway into a second book, or if she meant to leave things open ended.

As a gift, Jodi has written some song lyrics which her friend has set to music and sings.  She has added this as a CD and it is attached to her book.  It is an accompaniment to every chapter.  I'm not one to listen to music as I read, so I have listened to it separately.  I appreciate the gift and the inner work it took for Jodi Picoult to share with us.

If you haven't already gotten this book, I hope you'll go now and buy it.  It's an important and excellent read.  Your book groups will have a fantastic time with it, too! 


Virtual Book Tours Coming Up!

Please be on the look-out for two new virtual book tours.

Coming up this month~ April 14th:  "The Mpire" by TL James

and in June: "The Katyn Order," by Douglas W. Jacobson

These are two books that I've chosen are published by small publishing houses and are little known authors, though you may find them on Amazon.com.

Over the last couple of years, I've found several of my favorite books of the year through small publishing houses or even through self-publishing.  It's just amazing what authors are doing out there today!

This does not preclude, of course, our big publishing houses by any stretch.  They continue to chose the finest of literature, having had to be very selective in strained economic times.

As a book reviewer whose goal is to bring the best of both worlds to my readers, I strive to keep you informed and, hopefully, involved in your choices of reading material.

I always look for literature of the highest quality, and do not want to represent anything of a lesser value to you.  Additionally, you will always find me crossing all genre trying to please all readers, and introducing you to different possibilites you might have thought you might not like.  I'm very selective, though!

Please take a moment to join me on April 14th to see and hear from this new author, TL James and her series "The Mpire..."  It's an interesting twist on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Monday, April 4, 2011

"The Chemical Garden Trilogy: Wither" YA Fiction ~ For Adults, too

Publisher:  Simon &amp; Schuster:  Books for Young Readers
ISBN:  978-1-4424-0905-7
Pages:  368
Ages:   14 and up

Summary from Book Cover:

"In the not-too-distant future, because of genetic engineering, every human is a ticking time bomb--males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty.  To keep the population from dying out, girls are kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriages.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her.  She has everything she ever wanted--except freedom.  With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape Before It Is Too Late."

My Review:

With author Lauren DeStefano, there is hardly a moment's breather from the time you read the first to the last sentence of "Wither."  This novel is fantastic.  Her writing style is beautifully suited to a young adult audience, but I also found it mesmerizing as an adult, as well.

Ms DeStefano's storyline is well-conceived, and she deftly executes it without flaw, presenting a book that melts away so that time flys by.  I simply could not tear myslef away from it, and I didn't want it to end when it did.  This is a rarity for a reader who is used to mostly adult fiction.

Not since Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," have I read such a believeable dystopian novel.   Lauren DeStefano brings us into a futuristic society whose population has been chemically altered with horrifying results.  "Wives" and servant-workers are blackmarketed by slavetraders called "Gatherers," and discarded undesirables are eliminated.  Young people of 2nd and 3rd generations of chemical/genetic altering have become victims of scientific efforts to extend life.  Many become orphans and fodder for the Gatherers who supply 1st generations with human replacements.

Our own youth obsessed society is not so distant from this mindset when we consider our society's interest in plastic surgery and prolonging life, not to mention the attempts to find ways to put off old age all together.  It was, obviously, this youth-centeredness that caused the mishap that set the chemical disaster into motion in DeStafan's novel.  What a warning to all of us!

Ms DeStafano is so adept at creating her characters that they live.  Told from the perspective of Rhine, who is her narrator and primary female character, we feel as if we are actually living in the moment.  The "sister wives" are individuals, not shadow people, but girls we come to know and cherish.  And, Rhine's love interests illicit complex, mixed feelings that mirror her personal struggles, as well.  Genius writing causes one to long for more in the Chemical Garden Trilogy.

My recommendation is to buy this book immediately.  It's a fantastic read for the weekend, or for a couple of days when you need a good novel.  Your daughter will love it and thank you, too.

Personally, I'm anxious to find out when the second book in her series is coming out.  Lauren DeStafano is an author who will capture a following.  She has a bright future.  Her trilogy is going to be a collection for your library.

And, by the way, isn't the cover beautiful and interesting?

I love to hear from you...let me know what you think, please.

Your Bookish Dame/Deborah

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Being Polite to Hitler" ~ A Cautionary Tale

"Being Polite to Hitler"
By:  Robb Forman Dew
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Co.
January 2011
ppgs:  296

"After being a teacher and raising her family for most of her life, Agnes Scofield realizes she is truly weary of the routine her life has become.  But how, at age fifty-four, can she establish an identity apart from what has so long defined her?  Despite a newfound freedom, Agnes finds herself becoming even more entangled in the family web. In Being Polite to Hitler, one of our most cherished chroniclers of the intricacies of personal and family life in all its seasons brings us a sweeping portrayal of a much misunderstood American era."

My Review:

Absolutely stunning novel so full of meaning and history that you can bearly read each page without wanting to stop, think and take it in.  This novel is absorbing to read, as well as being a voyeristic trek into one family's dynamics. Ms Dew's sense of plot and timing is seamless.  You will be taken up and lifted through this book effortlessly.

Robb Forman Dew, a former National Book Award winner for her book "Dale Loves Sophie To Death," is an author whose ilk I've rarely had the pleasure of experiencing since college in classic American Literature. In fact, this book ought to be read as a requirement, it's that relevant today for understanding our social history in the post-WWII 1950's and early 1960's. Dew ranks with such authors as Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf and Carson McCullers in her abilities and significance.

Centered around the Scofield family in "small town" Ohio, Ms Dew renders the microcomic view of an ordinary set of people with their reactions to such critical transitions as civil rights, the Rosenbergs, the atomic bomb threat, post-war commercialism, JFK's assassination and other issues of the mid-century.

Her characterization is flawless with such women as Agnes, the matriarch. Just her saying this below made her a wonder in my mind:

"But what on earth possessed these people for whom she had been the best parent she could manage to be, for whom she had tried to pretend wisdom, to mime adulthood--oh, Lord! Those children!  Why weren't they safe by now?  What were they doing? They rushed along through their lives, discarding the days like so many pieces of bad fish. It amazed her that they hadn't absorbed the idea--through all the time they spent growing up--of taking care, of guardedly harbouring...Well!  Why were they so careless of their own contentment?  Why weren't they willing to be happy all the time?"

Which mother of us hasn't felt that way??

Interestingly enough, her grandchildren are the children raised on the cusp of ribald commerciaism and over-indulgence; as they search the skies for Sputnik, play in bomb shelters and learn how to hide under desks at school.

Ms Dew is a gifted writer whose work will make a difference and will become an edict for contemporary Americans, and our society which is caught up in our every day distractions and fatalism. It's easy, however, to be seduced into a false complacency by the numerous sources of media today. Like those who "saw" the threats around them in those early decades, we often believe that "being polite to Hitler" in polite company, and throwing money at a cause will suffice.

I would highly recommend this novel to everyone--women and men. You can find a video introduction on Amazon.com, and bookgroup questions at: 

Let me know what you think, please!

Your Bookish Dame

"Haunting Jasmine" WINNER of Giveaway!

Congratulations to Kristi of Books and Needlepoint http://booksandneedlepoint.blogspot.com/
who is the WINNER of my Giveaway

Please go over to see Kristi's blog.
She has some great book reviews and author interviews