Monday, April 26, 2010

Apples Falling.....

"Real luxury is time and an opportunity to
read for pleasure."
Jane Brody

Does the apple fall far from the tree? If a parent is a well-known popular author, does that gene carry down to the offspring? Sometimes it does, which the following three young authors show. I asked several patrons to try these authors-without telling them why.

James Lee Burke is one of my all time favorite authors. I love his style of writing, the characters and the setting…New Iberia, Louisiana which just happens to be outside New Orleans. Daughter Alafair Burke has two series; we are introduced us to her main character, Samantha (Sam) Kincaid, an ambitious, tough Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, in her debut, Judgment Calls. Hoping to make a name for herself, Sam takes on a case that is not as open and shut as it first appeared. The questions that start to nag at her include-Who do you trust?

The three in the Sam Kincaid series are; Judgment Calls, Missing Justice and Close Case.

Burke’s other series features Ellie Hatch, a rookie police detective in New York City. Hatch has been called in to help in a murder investigation that is similar to a murder committed a year ago….and Hatch just happens to fit the profile of the victims. There are three books in this series, Dead Connection, Angel’s Tip and her recently published, 212 .

Consensus seems to be that Ms. Burke can more then hold her own.

Jesse Kellerman has the double whammy of writers Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman as his mom and dad. That can be a hard act to follow. In his debut, Sunstroke, Kellerman does okay, but did not impress many patrons. Then he followed with Trouble. Feedback has been more positive on this one. Psychological thrillers can be tricky if not done right, but Kellerman seems to have nailed it with this one. What can drive someone to the verge of madness? You will be on the edge of your chair from the beginning and find you won’t put it down until you have finished it. Like one that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Here you go. Kellerman followed with The Genius, another edge of your seat thriller; and his latest, The Executor, proves he is a writer worth checking into.

Joe Hill has written one witty, dark, engaging, morbid horror story. Heart Shaped Box is about a middle-aged heavy metal rock star, Judas Coyne, who is a collector of the macabre, most of them gifts from his fans-cookbook for cannibals, used hangman’s noose. When he hears that there is a ghost in a suit for sale on the internet-why not? The haunted suit comes in a black heart shaped box with a little extra that Judas isn’t aware of until…… (Word has that the movie rights to this book have been sold.)

Hill latest is Horns. After a night of drinking- and other things he can’t remember, or chooses not to. Remember, Ignatius (Ig) Perrish wakes up with a raging hangover headache…and horns growing out of his temples.

Dad is Stephan King who must have told this kid some bedtime stories. Rumor has it that Hill might have outdone Dad with his horror novels. Hills' books have been hot ones with many patrons.

Give one of these authors a try. I think you'll be pleasently surprised.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Couldn't have said this better myself......
Happy Reading:)

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Steven D. Levitt
Stephen J. Dubner

Sometimes, when you pick a book for a book discussion, you hold your breath, cross your fingers and hope it's one where you don't get asked the question: "What the heck did you pick this book for?" I have usually been lucky. The book discussion group I moderate have liked, and sometimes loved, the books picked for discussion; it has been rare that I have had irate group members.

Freakonomics is one I held my breath, crossed my fingers and hoped. Just because I liked it, how would my book group feel about it? Economics can make my eyes glaze over, how would it be for some of the book group? On a miserable, cold rainy night fifteen brave souls came out to discuss this book, and what a discussion we had!

Dubner and Levitt have taken a subject, economics.... interesting,  but never something I could follow,  but it helped me, and it seems some of the group, to look and think about things in different ways. They put a spin on it that made it and interesting.
Where else would you finally find out why drug dealers still live with their moms? That a crack gang works pretty much like the standard capitalist even has it's equivalent of a CEO. It's amazing to find out that what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common is cheating! Is the Ku Klux Klan really like a group of real estate agents?Abortion and crime? Who knew that the decision about Roe vs. Wade just might be the reason crime decreased instead of becoming the out of control coast to coast crime wave that was predicted? It seems all those criminals that would have been born....weren't.

Interesting tidbit: When Ceausescu came to power in Romania, he outlawed abortions. He wanted a stronger Romania, and if women didn't get pregnant, they were charged a fine. When Ceausecu's regime was overthrown, he was lynched by young men....who might not have been born if it wasn't for Ceausecu.

We had a good time with this book for many reasons. While economics is about monetary, fiscal matters that shows how the world works; Freakonomics suggests that morality represents the way we would like the world to work, and that conventional wisdom is often shoddily formed. Yes, there was some skepticism about some of the data they analyzed in the book. We didn't agree with the finding on some of the topics, especially the part about parenting. Does it really make a difference to a child if Mom and Dad are home or not? Does nurturing children and reading to them every night make a difference in how they turn out? Or are they born to be what they will be? What does the name given to a child say about the parents?

Interesting tidbit: Two boys: One is African-American, abandoned by his mother, raised in an impoverished and unstable household, his family ran a cocaine-crack business from his aunt's house, his father was a drunk who abused him. During his high school years young man led a double life--excelled in sports at high school while selling marijuana and carrying a gun.
The young white boy grew up in a privileged home, the cherished son of parents who gave him everything he wanted or needed, including a house full of books and his having books read to him. Brilliant in school, especially in mathematics.
Both young men graduated from Harvard University with honors and because college professors.
The young African-American is a Harvard economic advisor who has been honored by President Obama, Roland G. Fryer.
The young white man is Ted Kaczynski, aka....the Unabomer.

I'm glad I read this book, and so was the majority of the group. It was pointed out that the cover should have been a give-a-way for the subject inside: a Granny Smith apple, cut open to reveal an orange inside.

Point taken away from the book? Look closely at what you may not be what you think it is.

Happy Reading!