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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Five Minute Conversations - CHANGES TO OUR VISA CARDS

I have a Visa credit card connected to a department store account. My Visa expires on April 30, 2010 and the new card arrived this week with an expiration date of October 31, 2010. My first thought was, “What’s up with that?”

Of course, I had to call the number on the back of the card to activate the new card and I starting chatting with the young man who answered the phone about the expiration date. According to him, all Visa cards linked to his department store were just released with this short expiration date and almost every Visa card will expire on October 31, 2010. While we were talking, I checked the other Visa in my wallet which is connected to a very large bank, and sure enough, the card expires in October.

The young man went on to explain the reasons for the short expiration dates. Apparently Visa (and he thought Mastercard, too) will be making changes to everyone’s accounts at the end of 2010. They are required by law to allow 45 days’ notice for any changes. He explained some of the changes that we will see in our accounts.

Not surprising, the interest rate will probably change, and it won’t be going down. Additionally, just like the old days as people over the age of 50 will remember, Visa cards will once again have a yearly “user fee” similar to American Express cards. But wait, there’s more! Visa will be examining our use of the cards and may be cancelling cards held by people who pay off their balance in full every month.

I’m purposely not mentioning the name of the store my Visa is linked to because I really don’t think this young man was supposed to give me quite this much information. But, as my husband says, I can get the life story out of a rock, so we kept on chatting.

Visa has started to follow our purchasing trends....not a surprise. But if you currently have a Gap Visa card for example, Visa will report to Gap if you’re primarily using your card at their competitors’ stores. Since Gap is the one contracting with Visa for you to use this Visa card, most likely Gap is going to cancel your card if you are not using it in a “Gap” kind of way.

Just think, as you’re going about your daily life, sleeping and working and playing and eating, someone out there is not only watching what and how you do it, but is figuring out new ways to ensure that you pony up another little “user fee” for the privilege.

My advice? Check your Visa expiration dates and check your mail for your new Visa account CHANGES later this year. Change is not always a good thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


by Deborah Schupack - to be released May 25, 2010

I liked the premise of this book. Five families, comprised of nine people, stumble upon a briefcase full of cash (over a million dollars) at their annual pool party on Sylvan Street. Schupack's novel chronicles their reactions to their windfall as well as how it affects their immediate futures.

The only problem is that the author presents the reader with character vignettes that are left hanging and never revisited which makes the story feel incomplete. She also introduced a subplot which doesn't add anything to the story and just seems like filler. Cute idea but not a great read.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


by David Baldacci - to be released April 20, 2010

Two different groups are chasing Evan Waller; one to kill him for the horrors he committed in the Ukraine as a high ranking KGB officer and the other to bring him to justice because of atrocities he intends to commit. Both groups are planning to take him down in Provence, France and neither group knows about the other. Regina Campion is part of the European group chasing the former KGB officer and Shaw is the operative for the other mysterious group that seems to be based in America. When they discover each other and their plans fail, they combine forces to pursue Waller together.

I've always liked and purchased Baldacci's novels. DELIVER US FROM EVIL is very engaging and reads like a cold war era novel. However, as the story progresses, it reaches an unbelievable deadly game of cat and mouse. It just seems like Baldacci couldn't figure out how to end this book and the ending he gives us is disappointing and over the top.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I've been a little slow doing reviews in March because we've been out of state a lot. I'm back home and I've just settled down with the new David Baldacci novel, DELIVER US FROM EVIL. I've been researching a couple of my favorite authors for upcoming books as noted below.

STIEG LARSSON - THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST - The eagerly anticipated last Stieg Larsson book featuring Lisbeth Salander will be available on May 25th. Usually international bestsellers are released in the US and Europe simultaneously, but apparently this book is already at bookstores abroad and some have popped up on eBay. I can't wait to get this one!

GEORGE PELECANOS - I keep checking but there doesn't seem to be anything in the pipeline yet from Pelecanos. I loved all of his books and even attended one of his book signings in NYC a few years back. He writes gritty detective thrillers set in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Many of you know his work from the HBO series THE WIRE and if you haven't tried his books, you should.

Happy reading!

Monday, March 15, 2010


by Holly Lecraw, to be released in April 2010

This book should have been titled, "OOPS, SHE DID IT AGAIN." Marcella Atkinson has an affair that destroys her marriage. On the same day that their affair breaks up, her lover's wife is murdered and her lover, Cecil, dies in a car accident a short while later. As the book progresses, Marcella begins an affair with her dead lover's son.

This is a very tacky romance couched in a slim mystery. You should skip this book; I wish I had.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

HELL GATE (Alexandra Cooper Series #12)

by Linda Fairstein - available in hardcover

Head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, Alexandra Cooper, is back with her team and this time they're investigating human trafficking. Working together with Det. Mike Chapman and Det. Mercer Wallace, they discover that the recent shipwreck filled with illegals has ties to the sex scandal of one of their congressmen and leads directly to City Hall.

Interwoven with the storyline, Linda Fairstein once again gives us a glimpse of New York City's history. This newest adventure takes the reader through the historic mansions of the city, including Gracie Mansion, the governor's residence, and the history of Hell Gate. Who knew that the East River is actually a strait?

The author obviously loves New York and shares her curiosity about the city with us. As a bonus, she never forgets to include the friendly wagers that Coop, Mike and Mercer bet each other on the final Jeopardy question whenever they're near a television.

Ms. Fairstein has written another intelligent multi-layered mystery that's fun to read. Loved it!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


by Joanna Trollope - to be released in April 2010

Richie Rossiter leaves his wife and young son and begins life with his new, much younger partner, Chrissie. He never divorces his first wife, but he and Chrissie have three daughters and build a life together. The novel begins with Richie's death and the difficulties Chrissie is facing since she was not his legal wife. After the reading of Richie's will, both families are forced to deal with each other in ways they never expected.

Set in England, THE OTHER FAMILY is a nice story about modern relationships. While I enjoyed this book, I found the writing style to be very stiff which made it somewhat tedious to read.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Five Minute Conversations - I LOVE NEW YORK!

My husband and I were in NYC yesterday with our family to see the new Christopher Walken play, A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE. Very politically incorrect, but a perfect vehicle for Walken with its very dark but funny theme. Because we were in town for a play and dinner and it was a Saturday night, we were dressed much nicer than usual and this may explain what occurred during our cab ride.

After dinner, our sons and our daughter-in-law took off to find more youthful entertainment and George and I hailed a cab to go across the park to the east side. Our cab driver was a very pleasant man with a heavy accent who spoke in broken English. As the cab turned onto West 64th Street, we saw long lines of people reaching all the way up the block. I asked the cabbie what the crowd was lined up for and he said he didn’t know but that he’d pull over so I could ask someone. He pulled to the curb and I rolled down the window to ask the nearest person but I couldn’t understand what the guy said. I stuck my head back into the taxi and as the driver pulled away from the curb, he asked me what the crowd was doing. I explained that I had no idea and he asked me to try again.

We drove a little further down 64th Street and then the driver stopped so I could open the window and ask someone else. A young man came over to the cab and said they were all waiting to get in to see a play called “Art in Soho” and that the line was so long because the play was free. As you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to find something free on a Saturday night in New York City! Then the young man handed me a newspaper that I didn’t even look at and asked if I’d like a copy. I said, “Sure, thank you.” He held on to the paper and explained that he usually got a dollar donation. I hunted around in my purse and didn’t have any singles and neither did my husband. As I started to tell the gentleman that I wouldn’t be able to take his paper, the cabbie’s hand snaked through the partly opened plexiglass divider waving a dollar bill. I laughed out loud at the absurdity of having a cab driver give ME money, took the dollar and handed it to the young man.

As we started to pull away, I put the newspaper through the opening from the backseat to give to the driver. He looked at it and said, “I’m not a socialist”, and handed it back to me. I looked at it and realized he or we had just purchased the Socialist Worker newspaper. I laughed and explained that we weren’t socialists either which elicited a big grin from our driver.

Since our relationship with the cabbie was warming up and since he wasn't on his cell phone carrying on a long winded conversation in Farsi, I asked where he was from. He replied that he was from Bangladesh. I said, “Very nice, one of our sons recently dated a young lady from Bangladesh.” That was all I needed to say!

Our driver asked if we lived in New York and we replied that no, we live in New Jersey. He said, “I know you are very important people.” He turned around to my husband and said, “You look like Ronald Reagan.” My husband responded, “If I’m Ronald Reagan, where’s my horse?” I’m sure the cabbie couldn’t hear George through the plexiglass. The driver then turned to me and said, “And you, you’re much prettier than Hillary Clinton!” At this point, George and I were cracking up. We explained to our cabbie that we weren’t famous, just average people. He said, “No, I know you, you are famous!”

We had reached the east side at 65th and Fifth Avenue and we told the driver he could let us out on the corner. My husband didn’t have money handy so we got out of the cab and walked to the driver’s window to hand him the fare. With a big smile on his face, the cabbie said, “No, you are very important, you should go to Hollywood, I can’t take your money, it was my honor to drive you!” We were both laughing and trying to tell him that we wanted to pay the fare as he’s trying to drive away. My husband finally managed to get money into the cab window as the cab was rolling (including a very large tip to cover the Socialist Worker) and we said goodnight to the driver.

Only in New York!

Friday, March 5, 2010


Sometimes I wonder, "If a blog falls into cyberspace and no one is around to read it, does it reach anyone at all?"

Monarch Book Reviews is one month old! It's been a lot of fun reading and reviewing so many books, as well as adding some of my own thoughts and comments. It was very exciting to receive an email from a literary agent for one of the authors whose book I reviewed. Even more exciting was actually receiving the author's comment about my review of CRASHERS. So cool!

I'd love to hear from you if you've found your way to my blog. If you've read one of the books I've reviewed, let me know what you think (just click on COMMENT at the bottom of each review or blog entry). You can also email me at to let me know if you like the site or to recommend books you think I'd enjoy.

Have a wonderful month and keep on reading! Lynn

Thursday, March 4, 2010


by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Special Agent Pendergast Series #10 - to be released May 2010

I haven't read the previous nine books in this series, but based on FEVER DREAM, I won't be buying the others. I actually put this book down twice and started reading other books because it was so disjointed.

Pendergast is an FBI Special Agent who never seems to have to report to anyone. He has an oddly stiff and proper bearing that reminded me of Inspectors in British mysteries set in 19th century England, even though this is a present day novel set mainly in Louisiana.

Early on in the novel, Pendergast's wife, Helen, dies when she is mauled by a lion in Africa. Twelve years later he stumbles upon a clue that sends him reeling into the past, convinced that she was actually murdered. He sets out to prove it and to avenge her death with the help of his friend, Lt. Vincent D'Agosta. Their quest takes us on a very long and winding road to an unexciting conclusion.

Having just read and enjoyed IMPACT by Douglas Preston (see below), I was especially disappointed in FEVER DREAM.


by Marina Endicott - to be released March 23, 2010

The main character, Clara Purdy, has lived a simple, quiet life, having nursed both of her parents through terminal illnesses. Following a car accident, she opens her home and her heart to the Gages, the homeless family in the other car.

As she becomes more entangled in their haphazard lives, Clara begins to experience the joys and trials of everyday life, surrounded by people who need and depend on her.

Canadian writer Marina Endicott has written a beautiful and poignant love story.