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Thursday, October 28, 2010


by Saloma Miller Furlong - to be released January 2011

Ms. Furlong's memoir takes us inside the rural life of the Amish in Ohio; a life ruled by the men of the community.  Growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional family, the author suffered many indignities before summoning the courage to embark on a new life in Vermont, a place she had only visited in magazines and in her own imagination.

As an outsider, or someone considered "English", I didn't know much about the Amish culture before reading this book.  I always considered them to be peaceful religious people who worked the land and didn't participate in wars or use modern technology.  Their sense of community seemed to be the cornerstone of their peaceful existence.  And let's not forget those beautiful quilts we all covet.

It never occurred to me that even within this group there could exist a caste system and tolerance for abuse -- emotional, physical and sexual -- with little or no protection for the young women of the community.  Every facet of the author's life as a young Amish woman was training for subservient community life with no concern for individual pursuits.  As her anger at her situation grew, so did her desire to create a life of her own.

How wonderful for Ms. Furlong that she was able to meet so many people that would assist her in finding her way in the world.   As she became more mature and confident, she was able to return to the Amish community for her father's funeral with far less trepidation than one would expect.

If you'd like to learn more about the Amish life, Ms. Furlong's book raises the curtain for a peek inside this culture and religion in her fascinating and heartfelt memoir.  The author's courage is uplifting and I look forward to reading the next installment of her journey.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HEART OF THE CITY, Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York

by Ariel Sabar - to be released January, 2011

In HEART OF THE CITY, Ariel Sabar introduces us to nine couples who met by chance at different landmarks or places in New York City from the 1940's through present day.

The lenghty introduction in the book delves into the environmental and psychological effects of physical space on human interaction.  The author infuses architecture into each story, providing us with short historical vignettes.  Being married to an architect who is currently pursuing a PhD in Urban Planning, this was especially enthralling.

As I finished reading each couple's story, my mind was racing with questions.  What happened to them?  What became of twenty-five year old Chris and forty year old Tina who met on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty in 1988?  Are they still married twenty-two years later?  Or Joey and Willis who met in Central Park so many years ago?  Mr. Sabar very deftly provided the answers to all of my questions in the postscripts.

This is a beautiful, fascinating and intelligent book about the impact of our physical environment and the happenstance of meeting and falling in love.  HEART OF THE CITY was a delight to read.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

GRAND CENTRAL STATION HOLIDAY FAIR - Presented by the New York Times

Our son's girlfriend, Margo Petitti, is a young designer.  Her beautiful hand-made scarves will be featured for sale at the Grand Central Station Holiday Fair in NYC from November 15 through December 24, 2010. 

The annual Holiday Fair is a shopping extravaganza held in the magnificent 12,000 square foot Vanderbilt Hall. Grand Central has gathered 70-plus vendors of unusual, beautiful and exotic goods. 

For anyone who hasn't yet visited Grand Central Station,
this is a perfect opportunity to see this beautiful Beaux-Arts building while shopping for holiday gifts.  I have to admit that I saw it for the first time a few years ago and was amazed at how beautiful it is. 

While you're there, be sure to look up!  I recently read a galley that I'll be reviewing and the author, Ariel Sabar, noted, "...there is a small problem with the astrological mural on the ceiling of the main concourse.  The zodiac, a blue sweep of Mediterranean sky flecked with 2,500 gold stars, was painted backward.  The source of the "mistake" was debated for decades, until historians made a discovery: the artist, Paul Helleu, had intended to depict the stars from the eyes not of man but of God."

Monday, October 25, 2010

THE REVERSAL - Harry Bosch Series No. 16 and Mickey Haller Series No. 3

by Michael Connelly - available in hardcover

Defense attorney Mickey Haller changes hats to try a case for the prosecution.  Convicted child killer Jason Jessup has just been granted a new trial based on DNA evidence after serving twenty-four years in prison.  Haller is working as an independent prosecutor and forms his own team with one of his ex-wives, Deputy PA Maggie McPherson, and LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, Haller's half-brother.  They're facing a celebrity defense attorney who is representing Jessup pro-bono.

While the defense is playing to the press, Bosch is convinced that Jessup is going to kill again.  He's working double-time to find the witnesses the prosecution needs for the upcoming trial and to uncover just what Jessup is up to now that he's out on bail.  Tension arises when it appears that Jessup might be targeting Bosch's young daughter. 

Connelly writes tight thrillers that have great characters and pacing.  Bosch is a favorite of mine and Haller is growing on me; putting them together was inevitable.  I've read all of Michael Connelly's books and they just get better!   Read THE REVERSAL and see for yourself.


by Janelle Brown - available in hardcover

THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE is the story of a young artistic couple, Claudia and Jeremy.  Claudia is an aspiring filmmaker and Jeremy is a musician; both are on the verge of really making it.  Saddled with a mortgage on a house that Jeremy never wanted in major need of repairs, they're awaiting Claudia's first film to be released so they can enjoy the big payday. 

Of course, her film doesn't do what they hoped and their downward financial spiral forces them to reevaluate just what they want out of life for themselves and together.  To complicate matters, Jeremy's old and very successful artist girlfriend arrives and causes even more stress on their marriage. 

Janelle Brown has introduced us to self-centered characters who are married but don't really connect or communicate.  While Claudia does everything possible to save her home, Jeremy embarks on what he hopes is the life he wants; both not realizing what's really important until it's almost too late.

Trite, light, chick lit.

Friday, October 22, 2010


My husband and I went to an art supply store in New Haven last Friday and parked directly opposite the Yale Art School Building.  Not having any artistic abilities, I quickly exhausted my tour of the store and the array of Sharpies offered and settled in at a table in a restaurant across the street to people watch on this bright and sunny early fall day. 

Lots of people went in and out of the art school building wearing the typical utilitarian cargo pants or tattered jeans and school logo sweatshirts with canvas and nylon messenger bags or backpacks.  But some of the people going in and out of the building as well as some passersby looked just SPECTACULAR! 

One woman walked by while talking on her cell phone.  She was wearing a short black coat, bright red tights, a purple pashmina with chunky bright yellow earrings.  You wouldn't think those colors would look good together but they did!  Another woman walked by with bright aqua tights, drab green military sweater, a fuchsia scarf and a RED purse.  WOW!   And there I was in my "uniform" of black pants, crisp white shirt, black sweater and black purse....hmmm....BORING!

I've always dressed conservatively, just adding brighter hues in the summer.   But even then, my purse will match my shirt or my shoes or my jewelry.  Although I'm not 25 anymore (or even 35), I don't have to have such DULL clothing.  I came home and looked in my closet and what did I find?  A few pairs of khakis, about 40 white shirts and more black than I could count.  There are a few -- very few -- striped or solid color shirts and a green sweater or two, but that's about it.  I do have tons of scarves in bright colors but I'm not sure why I feel they have to match something to wear even them.

With that in mind, I went to T.J.MAXX this week.  Well, I found a great black sweater and another gray sweater.  I got home and realized that my first foray into change didn't work out so well.   Yesterday I went to Bloomingdale's at the Short Hills Mall.  When I got to the register I had a really nice gray sweater and a white blouse in my hand, so I just put them back and left.

Now at my age I certainly don't want to look like a Red Hat Lady (sorry, if you are one) or too crazily eccentric, but I'm going to work hard at not wearing a white shirt, black pants and maybe a green jacket tied together with a green and black scarf.  I'm going to go boldly out in public in clashing colors!  Just not today, and probably not tomorrow, but soon!  And when I do, I'm going to add a new picture to my profile.  Just don't expect to see me in anything orange; I HATE orange, and not shocking pink since I'm not crazy about that color either.  Probably not lavender, or yellow, either, but I'll find something.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SPIDER BONES - Temperance Brennan Series No. 13

by Kathy Reichs - available in hardcover

Dr. Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, is called to investigate a floater in Montreal who appears to have died during a weird sex act.  Once the victim is identified from his fingerprints as John Lowery, nothing makes sense because Lowery was declared dead in 1968 while on duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. 

Temperance is teamed up with her old flame, Detective Andrew Ryan in her quest to figure out who was buried in Lowery's grave in North Carolina.  Working with JPAC, the U.S. military Joint POW/MIA Command, they're trying to identify the remains as even more body parts turn up in Hawaii that appear to be related to the search for the unknown person buried in North Carolina.  Reichs keep switching victims' identities; first the floater found is Lowery, then he's not, then he is again.  Add to the mix a Samoan gang and the unwillingingness of John's father to help in the investigation for entirely different reasons and the plot just gets muddier. 

Reichs' novel sent me to the internet to research JPAC.  This group is still working valiantly to identify the remains of fallen soldiers from past wars so that their families will finally have closure and the soldiers can have proper burials. 

The one bright spot in SPIDER BONES is Reichs' main character.  Usually so rigid, in this thirteenth of the Brennan series, it's nice to see that Temperance is finally loosening up, showing a little more humor and using a little more profanity.  But overall, this is a winding, confusing tale that only the most dedicated Reichs' fans will enjoy. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

DEAD LIKE YOU - Det. Roy Grace Series No. 6

by Peter James - to be released December 2010

Following the brutal rape of a woman on New Year's Eve in Brighton, England, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is caught up in the investigation.  Everything about the crime is similar to unsolved crimes committed in the '90s by someone the police dubbed "The Shoe Man" because in each crime the victim's high-heeled shoes were taken.

Grace is happily involved in a new relationship and expecting a child with his girlfriend, Cleo.  As the investigation continues and there are more brutal rapes, Grace is convinced that the perpetrator is the same man.  Reopening the cold case file from the past forces Grace to confront a terrible time in his own past; his wife, Sandy, disappeared ten years ago and has never been found.

The most frightening aspect of the book is how easy it was for the rapist to learn the most intimate details about his victims by accessing their online accounts.  In this age of Facebook and Twitter, James points out how much of our lives are on the internet and available to almost anyone. 

DEAD LIKE YOU is a good, intricate mystery and I'll definitely be reading others of this series written by Peter James.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


by Jeffery Deaver - to be released November 2010

Corte, a federal protection officer known as a shepherd, is assigned to protect DC Detective Ryan Kessler.  The government has information that Kessler has been targeted by Henry Loving, someone Corte has crossed paths with before on another case and believed was dead.  Loving is a "lifter", hired by someone else to get information or to keep someone from testifying.  Corte's assignment is to keep Kessler and his family out of harm's way, no matter what it takes.

I like Jeffery Deaver's books.  He writes intricate and intelligent thrillers, but this one felt more than a little tired. The characters in EDGE play the same game of cat and mouse we've come to recognize in his Lincoln Rhyme series.  His villian, Henry Loving, is so wily and cunning, it's impossible to believe he doesn't have supernatural powers.  Corte is a board game afficiondo with a knack for solving problems and uses these skills to stay one step ahead of Loving, barely.  But as bright and insightful as Corte appears to be, it takes him until almost the end of the book to figure out just which of the Kesslers Henry Loving is targeting and why.

Friday, October 8, 2010


by Carol Cassella - available in bookstores now

Claire and Addison Boehning meet and marry just as their careers are beginning. Claire is quickly sidelined by a complicated pregnancy before she can complete her medical residency, but Addison's star is rapidly rising with his invention of a test for ovarian cancer. Soon wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, it seems that life is perfect for the Boehnings and Claire adjusts to being a stay-at-home Mom.

When Addison risks everything trying to produce a cancer drug that is terribly flawed with dubious test results, their lives and fortunes very quickly change. Claire moves with their fourteen year old daughter to the run-down summer home they intended to fix up and with her limited certification, begins work at a nonprofit clinic dealing with indigent and immigrant farm workers. She soon makes a terrible discovery that threatens the livelihood of the clinic as well as her family's future.

While this book is pleasant enough to read, Ms. Cassella's portrayal of Addision as a self-deluded dreamer and Claire as the hard working and diligent cornerstone of her family, makes HEALER not only formulaic but also predictable.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

BAD BLOOD - Virgil Flowers Series No. 4

by John Sandford - available in bookstores now

Who doesn't like "that effing Flowers?" John Sandford brings Virgil back in the fourth of the Virgil Flowers series. Smooth writing and good characters are what usually make Sandford's books so satisfying.

I've read and enjoyed all of John Sandford's books. Sandford has continued the smooth writing, but my problem with BAD BLOOD is the subject matter -- sexual abuse of children. We all know it happens but I have to admit that I hate it and I hate reading about it, especially in fiction.

If you're reading Sandford for the first time, definitely skip this one. This book was horrible and a total turnoff for me.