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Friday, November 26, 2010

BY HOOK OR BY CROOK and 30 More of the Best Crime & Mystery Stories of the Year

Edited by Ed Gorman & Martin H. Greenberg - Available in bookstores

This is a terrific volume of short crime and mystery stories, perfect for the whodunnit fan on your Christmas list!

Included are ANIMAL RESCUE by Dennis Lehane, SEEING THE MOON by S. J. Rozan, THE BIG SWITCH, A Mike Hammer Story by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collin, THE TELL-TALE PURR by Mary Higgins Clark and COUGAR by Laura Lippman, just to name a few.  They'll all good, quick mysteries that may introduce you to some new authors which is always a plus.

I've read other mystery collections before but none quite as good as BY HOOK OR BY CROOK.  This collection is thoroughly enjoyable!

BEYOND THE FINISH LINE, Stories of Ex-Racehorses

By Loren Spiotta-DiMare, Photography by Martin Kavanaugh

In BEYOND THE FINISH LINE, local New Jersey author Spiotta-DiMare chronicles the lives of retired racehorses living in the Garden State with their new families.

The ex-racehorses lives are as varied as their owners.  Thirteen are currently in the employ of the Mounted Police in the City of Newark.   All were adopted through the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.  The police department maintains a facility with 18 box stalls, indoor and outdoor riding rings and their own farrier with a shop in the barn to care for the horses.

Ms. Spiotta-DiMare's lifelong love of horses shines through the pages of this coffee table book that will delight the horse enthusiasts on your Christmas list!

Available in hardcover from Loren's Reading Room

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family, enjoying each other's company and good food.  Thanks to my husband for a wonderful meal; I serve only as his helper since he's a much better cook than I am. 

I thought I'd take a minute to reflect on the things that I'm most thankful for this year.  Top of my list is my husband, George, and the two wonderful sons we raised together, Robert and Bill.  Our lives only get better as our family grows to include our daughter-in-law, Stacey, and Bill's girlfriend, Margo. 

Friends are so important and I'm thankful for every friend I have.  I'm not going to name them all, but I love all of them dearly.  I'm especially lucky to have two friends that I've known for over twenty-five years, Candace and Sue.  Our almost daily contact enhances everything I do and I hope it's the same for them. 

I'm thankful that our family and friends are weathering this very difficult economy.  Despite a lot of belt tightening, we're all doing okay.

I'm thankful to all of the authors who write the wonderful books that keep me entertained and enlightened and fill my mind and soul with riches beyond compare.

Last but not least, I'm thankful for you, dear blog reader.  Without you, my blog would fall into the silence of cyberspace.  It's nice to know that you're there.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

SURPRISE! Enter to win an original MARGO PETITTI SCARF!

Just click here for a chance to win!

In late October I mentioned that I was planning a surprise for all of my blog visitors.  I appreciate each and every one of you and love to read your comments and receive your emails.  To thank everyone, I'm delighted to say that I have an original MARGO PETITTI SCARF for one lucky visitor!  
Margo is a young up-and-coming fashion designer from Rhode Island who currently has a booth at the Grand Central Station Holiday Event in New York City.  Ms. Petitti's scarves are all one of a kind, handmade in the USA. 

This one is the GROVER, which is a gorgeous patchwork of Italian suiting fabrics.  It's a blend of wool, camel hair, alpaca and cashmere and measures 10 inches wide by 80 inches long.  It retails for $210. You can view others from her collection by visiting her website, or stop by her booth at Grand Central and tell her hello from me!

To enter for a chance to win this gorgeous scarf, just click here and send me an email with your name.  The lucky winner will be chosen on December 15th at 3:00 pm and will receive the gift wrapped scarf in time for Christmas. 

Thank you, Margo, for making this possible!  And thanks to all of you for reading my blog. 

Good luck everyone and remember to send your email to


by Graham Joyce - available March 2011

On a skiing vacation in the French Alps, a young married couple, Jake and Zoe, are buried under an avalanche.  As they finally dig their way out of the snow they find themselves totally alone in a changed and silent world.

Nothing is the same as before; even the concept of time seems to have been altered in this new world.  Their concern mounts as their isolation increases and with it their fears of another avalanche.  No matter how many times they try to leave the resort, they always wind up back in the same place, at the same hotel.

Not similar but with the same overwhelming feeling of desolation as THE ROAD by Cormack McCarthy, this is a dark and frightening novel from cult favorite Graham Joyce.  Although it dragged a bit in the middle, I thoroughly enjoyed reading THE SILENT LAND and look forward to reading other books by this award winning author. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010


by Todd Ritter - available in hardcover

Kat Campbell is Chief of Police in a sleepy small town in Pennsylvania.  Life is good with a very low crime rate until a local farmer turns up dead, amateurishly embalmed and encased in a handmade coffin.  Henry Goll, the local obit writer for the Perry Hollow Gazette, received a faxed death notice time-stamped before the farmer died.  Kat is joined in her investigation by Nick Donnelly, head of the State Police Task Force.

Despite the similarities between the farmer's murder and those committed by the Betsy Ross serial killer Donnelly has been chasing for the past year, the team is forced to look closer to home when another embalmed body is found.  Campbell and Donnelly are joined by Henry Goll in trying to find the killer before he or she kills again.

Ritter's characters are nicely enhanced by their own backstories which add to the complexity of DEATH NOTICE.  Smooth writing, clever phrasing and an interesting plot make this a great first novel!  I hope to see more from this author.

Friday, November 12, 2010


by Brad Meltzer- to be released January 2011

Beecher (Benjamin) White is an archivist working at the National Archives in Washington.  Trying to help his childhood friend Clemmi find out the identify of her father, he and his coworker are giving her a tour when they accidentally stumble upon a document hidden in the private vault that the President uses.

When his coworker turns up murdered, Beecher and Clemmi don't know where to turn or who to trust. Everyone is suspect as they learn about the Culper Ring, a small clandestine group of private citizens who have been privy to the inner circle of the presidency for centuries.

The action heats up as Beecher delves into the sitting President's personal history and he is soon running for his life; trying desperately to find out the truth before it's too late.

Mr. Meltzer has written a very tight, tense and enjoyable mystery.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


It's been nine months since I started Monarch Book Reviews on February 7, 2010 and I thought it would be a nice time for a recap.

I was reluctant to start blogging but I love reading and I've really enjoyed reviewing books, just as I hope you've enjoyed reading my reviews and entries. So many things have happened in just nine months!

Since February I reviewed 74 books (and I really do read them all). Considering that I took the entire month of August off, I averaged 9.25 books per month; a nice number but not as good as I had hoped. I read and didn't review another dozen or so books that I just didn't get a chance to review. Some months it seems that I "blogged" more than reviewed, but that's what blogs are for!

I've had a lot of "firsts" in the last nine months. The first book I reviewed was BRINGING HOME THE BIRKIN by Michael Tonello and it's still one of my favorites. The first time an author left me a message on my blog and linked me to his was when I reviewed CRASHERS by Dana Haynes. I was lucky enough to have my first author interview with Bryan Gruley after reviewing his book THE HANGING TREE. I reviewed my first children's book, THINK LIKE A GOAT? after meeting one of the co-authors, Stephanie Mitcham, while playing Scrabble on line. Monarch Book Reviews was first linked to an author's blog when Danielle Evans, author of BEFORE YOU SUFFOCATE YOUR OWN FOOL SELF, quoted my comments word for word. In April I was linked to the RECORDER NEWSPAPERS for the first time and met the lovely lady in charge of their blogs on their web page, Pat Anderson. Many thanks to all!

Not every "first" was wonderful. In February, just a short time after starting Monarch Book Reviews, Mark Gaskill left me a scathing comment, accusing me of "being bitter, being a failed writer and having a mean-streak" after he read my review of FIFTY GRAND by Adrian McKinty. My intention is to not hurt anyone, but simply to be honest in offering my opinion.

Overall, these past nine months have been a wonderful and exciting experience for me and I hope you've enjoyed visiting the blog. I'm currently working on my second author interview which I hope to post before the holidays. I've got a surprise planned for visitors to Monarch Book Reviews and I'll be posting more information about it later this week so be sure to check back. I haven't blogged through the holiday season yet, so we'll get to navigate that hectic time together.

Thank you for visiting my blog and keep your comments coming; I love hearing from each of you! You can add a comment to any of my posts by clicking on the word "comment" following the review or blog entry, or feel free to email me at, even if it's just to say "hello"!

We're entering that time of year when there's nothing better than curling up with a good book, so take a few minutes for yourself and happy reading everyone!

CHASING THE NIGHT - Eve Duncan Series No. 11

by Iris Johansen - available in hardcover

Eve Duncan, a forensic sculptor, and her partner, Joe Quinn, are drawn into the search for CIA Agent Catherine Ling's son who was kidnapped nine years earlier at the age of two.  The boy was taken by a Russian mobster, Sergei Rakovac, as punishment to Ling for interrupting his reign of criminal terror.  Rakovac has tortured Ling during those long nine years with stories of her son's death. 

Rakovac has enjoyed CIA protection because of information he supplied to them and, not wanting to disrupt his usefulness, the agency has done nothing to help Ling recover her son.  But Rakovac's time is running out and his involvement with large scale terror attacks has prompted the CIA to order his elimination.  The pressure mounts as Ling is determined to find her son, if he's still alive, before Rakovac's death.  

I enjoy Ms. Johansen's books and have read all of the ones in the Eve Duncan series.  While enjoyable to read, the CIA's use of a brilliant fourteen year old girl in this dangerous game of cat and mouse made CHASING THE NIGHT extremely unbelievable.

Friday, November 5, 2010


bu John le Carre - available in hardcover

I have a number of friends who are big le Carre fans so I decided to give him a try.  OUR KIND OF TRAITOR was a total disappointment and I won't be buying another le Carre book.

Briefly, a young English couple on vacation (Perry and Gail) meet Dima, a big-time Russian criminal and money launderer.   Dima latches on to the couple to solicit their help in obtaining asylum for himself and his family in return for spilling his guts.  They return to England and are interrogated endlessly before becoming part of the plan to get the Russian's information.

While the idea was a good one, the writing was so dry and dull, I had to force myself to finish this book.  There was no action for the first 240 pages and by then I cared so little for these characters that it didn't even matter what happened. 
After reading OUR KIND OF TRAITOR, I'd suggest you save your money and go to your local library for one of le Carre's earlier books which are supposed to be terrific. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

GIDEON'S SWORD - Gideon Crew Series No. 1

by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child - to be released February 2011

Who is Gideon Crew?  Preston and Child, co-authors of the Agent Pendergast series, have introduced a new character, Gideon Crew.  Twelve year old Gideon witnessed the violent death of his father, framed for a crime he didn't commit.  Years later, he makes a deathbed promise to his mother to track down General Tucker, the government official responsible, and avenge his father's death.

Crew's background as a professional thief, together with his handling of Tucker, bring him to the attention of a covert government agency.  They want to hire him to intercept Mark Wu, a Chinese scientist en route to the U.S., and steal his plans for a new weapon that will supposedly change the world.  But Crew is not the only one chasing Wu and at every turn Crew is battling with people trying to not only stop him from obtaining the plans but also to kill him.

Crew's series might be rather short lived if the prognosis presented in GIDEON'S SWORD is correct, which would be a shame.  Preston and Child have created a very likable character and it would be nice to have him around for a while.  He was already embarking on a new caper as the book ended and I'm looking forward to the next Gideon Crew novel!

Note:  The photo shown is of the Advance Reading Copy but I believe the book cover will show the title GIDEON'S SWORD when the hardcover is released in February 2011.