Showing posts from March, 2011

Where the Dog Star Never Glows by Tara L. Masih

Title:Where the Dog Star Never Glows
Author: Tara L. Masih

Genre: Fiction (Short Fiction / Caribbean / Domestic)
Publisher/Publication Date: Untreed Reads, February 2011
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Loved times loved equals loved infinity.  Totally a top 10 of 2011.
Did I finish?: Yes, slowly, because I savored.
One-sentence summary: Seventeen sharp and well-written short stories
Reading Challenges:E-books

Do I like the cover?: Yes - it captures the quiet, meditative feel of many of the stories.

I'm reminded of...: Diane Ackerman, Penelope Lively, Sigrid Nunez

First line: That night, dawn light seeping into dark, Cap did not walk home from the No. 9 mine. - from 'Where the Dog Star Never Glows'

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy -- especially because it's $4.99 as an ebook!

Why did I get this book?: An excerpt from the collection's first story just grabbed me -- not even half a page of text -- and I was desperate to read the rest.

Review: I am not a short story girl.  (Embarra…

Heart of Lies: A Novel by M.L. Malcolm

Title:Heart of Lies: A Novel
Author: M.L. Malcolm

Genre: Fiction (Historical / WWI)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (2010)
Source: My public library

Rating: Disliked.
Did I finish?: Yes, with great effort.
One-sentence summary: Hungarian Leo Hoffman reinvents himself in 1920s Shanghai.

Reading Challenges:Eastern European, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes!  Isn't it pretty?  It's romantic and atmospheric and hints at the setting.

First line: He had not spoken to Julia since the day he ended their affair.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, I suppose, or skip -- I've started the sequel and find that the recap provided sets the story up well and is slightly  more enjoyable than this one.

Why did I get this book?: The setting, the era, and the promise of some romance.  It had been on my TBR for forever and when I was offered a chance to review the sequel, I couldn't wait!

Review: From the other reviews I've seen I know I'm in the minority here, but I disl…

Separate Kingdoms by Valerie Laken

Title:Separate Kingdoms: Stories
Author: Valerie Laken

Genre: Fiction (Short Fiction / Contemporary)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (2/1/2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked but the mood was too raw and grim for me to fall in love.
Did I finish?: Yes - in two nights!
One-sentence summary: Beauty, pain, love, and loyalty are explored in eight deft short stories.

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although on my ARC it's a photo of the cover so I'm not sure how it looks in real life. Still, the colors are gorgeous.

I'm reminded of...: Aimee Bender, Jane Bowles, Siri Hustvedt, Sara Maitland, Lorrie Moore

First line: Instead of the gold-plated onion domes Josie had hoped for, the view from their room revealed only the grimy, cement backside of the Oktyabrskaya metro station, where a few merchants had set up tables selling flimsy newsprint magazines bearing pictures of naked women. - from 'Family Planning'

Why did I get this book?: The author lived and worked in Russ…

Q and A with Camilla Gibb

I adored The Beauty of Humanity Movement (see my review) and I'm thrilled to share my Q and A with author Camilla Gibb.  See the end of the post for info on my giveaway (two copies now!).

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

It was about a girl who lived on the roof of her parent’s house and communed with the squirrels. Might have been somewhat lacking in the plot department.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like to start early in the morning before anyone else is awake. Before I have spoken.

Where did Hu’ng’s story come from?

I know a young Vietnamese man who dreamt of opening his own pho restaurant in Hanoi (he since has). I asked him where you could find the best pho in Hanoi and he said that it wasn’t in any restaurant, but off the back of an old man’s rickety cart, an old man who didn’t have a license to operate a business and was constantly being hassled by the police. I came home, and wrote the old man into being.

Was The Beauty of Humanity …

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

Title:The Beauty of Humanity Movement
Author: Camilla Gibb

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Contemporary / Vietnam)
Publisher/Publication Date: The Penguin Press (March 17, 2011)
Source:TLC Book Tours

Rating: Big ole swoony love.
Did I finish?: Yes -- in one sitting. I couldn't stop.
One-sentence summary: Three lives unfold around an soup seller in Vietnam.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction, South Asian

Do I like the cover?: Yes, but -- in the novel, there's a discussion about how the pastoral art featuring Vietnamese countrysides really whitewashes what modern Vietnam is like -- so it seems like a missed opportunity by not featuring something more urban.

I'm reminded of...: Diana Abu-Jaber, Anne Carson, Barbara Kingsolver, Jhumpa Lahiri

First line: Old Man H'ung makes the best pho in the city and has done so for decades.

Did...I read this in five hours flat?: YES.  I started it Sunday morning and finished it by Sunday evening, pausing only to meditate on a line or read a passa…

Winner of The Oracle of Stamboul Giveaway

The winner of The Oracle of Stamboul is...

Anna of Diary of an Eccentric

Thank you everyone who entered! There's still time to enter my giveaway for Angelology -- two copies are available! I'll also be giving away my read copy of The Beauty of Humanity Movement so be sure to stop by on Wednesday to see my review! (And yes, it'll be an international giveaway!)

Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Title:Kiss Her Goodbye
Author: Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Genre: Fiction (Detective / Historical)
Publisher/Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 5/25/11

Rating: Hardcore like!
Did I finish?: Yes -- best two days ever!
One-sentence summary: Mike Hammer meets disco upon his reluctant return to New York City.

Why did I get this book?: Mike Hammer and I went steady for a while when I was a teenager and I was ready for a reunion.

Reading Challenges:Criminal Plots, E-books, Femme Fatale, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- it's got that pulp-y, hard boiled feel and suggests disco and the '70s.

I'm reminded of...: Mickey Spillane (this is a good thing!)

First line: I didn't want to come back to New York. brain melt at the thought of Mike Hammer in a disco?: YES.  Maybe one of the best scenes in a book, ever.  EVER.

Did...I love the way New York City featured in this book?: YES.  Place as character for sure, and what a nasty, moody …

Teaser Tuesday, March 15

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

My teaser this week is from Kiss Her Goodbye by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins.  It's my first Mike Hammer novel in years and it's a blast -- a big change from a lot of what I've been reading lately but welcome now that Boston is all grimy and dirty, post-snow.

On my way out, Bing asked, "You gonna be a regular again?"
"Long as I'm in town."
"What does that mean? A vacation's one thing, Mike, but you belong in the city."
"Not anymore."
A knowing grin creased his face.  "Balls.  Guys like you can't escape the city.  Hell, you …

Mailbox Monday, March 14

Seen both at The Printed Page (hosted in March at I'm Booking It) and The Story Siren, my Mailbox Monday/In My Mailbox for the first half of March.  You'll see I've got a metric ton of books to review -- pretty much something for every week of March and April.  I'm so excited!  What did you get?  Planning to read any of these?

For Review!

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
Ordinary Angels by India Drummond
Separate Kingdoms: Stories by Valerie Laken
Heart of Deception: A Novel by M.L. Malcolm
Where The Dog Star Never Glows by Tara L. Masih
The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan
The Blighted Troth by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer


The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas
Let's Kill Uncle by Rohan O'Grady


To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
A Touch of Death (Hard Case Crime #17) by Charles Williams

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

Author: Danielle Trussoni

Genre: Fiction (Supernatural /Contemporary Thriller)

Rating: Enthusiastic like.
Did I finish?: YES -- couldn't stop.
One-sentence summary: Angels are among us, and they aren't very good.

Why did I get this book?: I'm a sucker for biblically-inspired paranormal plots and nuns as heroines.
Source:TLC Book Tours

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- has the dark, sexy feel of the novel's angels.

First line: The angelologists examined the body.

Did... I totally resent having to stop reading to do everyday life things?: YES.  As you can see from my GoodReads updates, I was having a great time with this book.

Did... I love having nuns as action heroines?: YES.  Honestly, that needs to happen more often.

Did... I spend a ton of time Googling the Devil's Throat gorge to see if it was real?: Yes, and the pictures are astounding.  Gorgeous!

Review: I have to confess, I'm pretty demanding of my adventure/thriller novels.  I'm picky about pl…

The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Title:The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay
Author: Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary)

Rating: Liked
Did I finish?: Yes
One-sentence summary: The tragedy of fame and the pressure of creative genius dog four artists in Bombay.

Why did I get this book?: Fitzgerald was thrown around; I couldn't say no!
Reading Challenges:South Asian

Do I like the cover?: Not really.  It feels like a throwaway.  As Karan's photography is the focus of the novel, I would have loved a black and white photo of Bombay instead.

First line: 'Oh, God, Iqbal,' Karan Seth said, looking warily at his boss, 'you sound like you're setting me up for trouble.'

Review: This novel is a bit like a tabloid-tell-all, set in Bombay, and I mean that in the best way.  A reclusive pianist, a Bollywood star, a repressed artist, a Nick Carraway-ish photographer: the cast is appropriately superficial and self-destructive and yet, as we -- and Karan Seth, the outsider-turned…

Apex Magazine, May 2010

Title: Apex Magazine, May 2010
Rating: 4/5

Original Fiction:
The Last Stand of the Ant Maker by Paul Jessup
City of Refuge by Jerry Gordon
DARK FAITH Roundtable: Gary A. Braunbeck, Jay Lake, Nick Mamatas, and Catherynne M. Valente

This issue features items from Apex's Dark Faith anthology, which looks interesting -- and if the two stories are an indication of the quality, then I'm all over it.

'City of Refuge' by Jerry Gordon was my hands down favorite -- I'm a sucker for dystopias anyway, never mind ones involving the undead and underground religious movements.

Interview with Michael David Lukas

I just loved The Oracle of Stamboul -- it was dreamy and beautiful and utterly engrossing (read my review for more enthusing!).  I'm so pleased to share my Q and A with the author, Michael David Lukas.

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

The first piece of fiction I remember writing was when I was nine or ten. It was a story about two kids who discover a trap door/secret passageway in one of their bedrooms. I didn’t get too far with writing the story, but I remember being pretty excited about it at the time.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I write six mornings a week, from breakfast to lunch. Sometimes I’ll continue after lunch, but usually not. I use the afternoons for revisions, nonfiction writing, emails, and random administrative stuff.

As you were writing The Oracle of Stamboul, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

What surprised me most was how much of myself is in the characters, even though they live such different live…

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas

Title:The Oracle of Stamboul
Author: Michael David Lukas

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 'Historical Fabulism')

Rating: L-o-v-e-d, loved! Going to make my Top 10 of 2011, I can tell!
Did I finish?: Yes -- I wish it could have gone on longer!
One-sentence summary: Young savant Eleonora learns about family and heartbreak, obligation and honor in books and then in her own life.

Why did I get this book?: Historical novel plus Istanbul plus savant heroine.
Reading Challenges:Historical Fiction
Source:TLC Book Tours

Do I like the cover?: YES. It is so gorgeous, and on my ARC, it is textured, very tactile and inviting.

I'm reminded of...: Salman Rushdie, Diana Abu-Jaber, Paulo Coelho

First line: Eleonora Cohen came into this world on a Thursday, late in the summer of 1877.

Did... I want to move to the Stamboul of this book?: YES.  If you're in need of an escape, take a minibreak to Stamboul.  It's gorgeous!

Do... I desperately want to read the much quoted The Hourglass series so belov…