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Posts Tagged ‘Book Suggestions’

Mystery Monday Review – The Black Dudley Murder

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

 

The Black Dudley Murder by Margery Allingham

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

Our series hero Albert Campion makes his debut in this 1929 whodunnit. A reader’s response depends on the reader’s patience with tried and true customs of the Golden Age of the Mystery. Yay or nay: it is melodramatic in places, Campion is silly-simple on a Bertie Wooster level, and the detecting part of things is slighted. Plus or minus: the setting is a gloomy country house, characters are paper-thin, a romantic angles arises, ceremonials use a ritualistic dagger. It’s all rather over the top, but if that floats your boat….

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – There’s Something in a Sunday

Monday, January 27th, 2020


There’s Something in a Sunday
by Marcia Muller


Review by Matt B. (
BuffaloSavage)

After a friend of her boss is murdered, female PI Sharon McCone finds herself drawn into a case that takes her to a ranch, a mansion, and skid row, all of which have well-conveyed atmosphere. Another strength is in the believable characters, from homeless people to hypocritical yuppies to friends on the way to becoming alcoholics. I hope I do not make this outstanding mystery sound like a downer, because it’s not. McCone mysteries end on an upbeat note, leaving the reader looking forward to the next one. Readers into old-school Seventies mysteries can’t go wrong with Marcia Muller.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – The Case of the Buried Clock

Monday, January 20th, 2020

The Case of the Buried Clock by Erle Stanley Gardner

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

In the 22nd novel starring the lawyer with super-powers and his trusty sidekicks Della Street and Paul Drake, Gardner shows that he’d mastered his way with punchy dialogue. Plenty of clues make the plot elaborate but not bewilderingly complicated: a clock set to sidereal time; the “truth serum” scopolamine in the vic’s body; an uncertain time of death; and finally Gardner’s trusty old “two revolvers” confusion.

The Mason novels that Gardner published during WWII make passing references to war-time culture, such as blackouts, tire rationing, frugality with gasoline, and internment of Japanese-Americans (it was California, after all).

Also, readers who’ve read many of his novels will recall that Gardner tended to look at reality with no illusions. For instance, in this one Gardner tweaks home-front pieties when the returning veteran says that instead of giving a “flag-waving” speech at a luncheon, he bluntly told them that winning the war was going to take a lot of hard work and that the US could be defeated in the conflict. Even more shockingly, Mason bluntly asserts that there are no ethics when dealing with the police.

Perry Mason fans regard this 1942 mystery as one of their favorites. The plot is crystal clear, and for once, he plays fair with the reader, laying out all the clues.

 

 

 

Authors We Lost in 2019.

Monday, December 30th, 2019


Authors We Lost in 2019.

By Vicky T. (VickyJo)

The end of a year is a time of reflection for most people. We think about the past year, the highs and the lows, and we look ahead to a new year full of promise and new beginnings. For me, as a reader, I have a tendency to look back on the authors who left us in the past year. 2019 was a rough year in that we lost some bright stars.

So, in alphabetical order, we must say goodbye to:

Dorothea Benton Frank (Sept. 12, 1951 – Sept. 2, 2019): I’m not sure South Carolina was even on the map before Ms. Frank came along and shared her love of this beautiful area with all of us. Her 20 novels bring to life Charleston and surrounding areas, and the families living there. Her last novel was Queen Bee, but she was also known for Plantation, Sullivan’s Island, and Shem Creek, just to name a few. Just by opening one, I think I can smell the sea and feel the sunshine of her beloved Lowcountry.

Ernest J. Gaines (Jan. 15, 1933 – Nov. 5, 2019) : Mr. Gaines wrote of the struggles of African-Americans in such novels as A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, focusing on a time before the civil rights movement in this country. He wrote eight novels and many short stories, and was honored with numerous awards, culminating in the National Medal of Arts bestowed on him by President Barack Obama in 2013.

Tony Horwitz (Jun. 9, 1958 – May 27, 2019): A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Mr. Horwitz authored several books, and is probably best known for Confederates in the Attic. He took us all over the world: Australia, Bagdad, the deep South, islands in the Pacific. His books embodied the best of armchair travel combined with history and a peek at various cultures, some foreign, and some perhaps very familiar.

Judith Krantz (Jan. 9, 1928 – Jun 22, 2019): She started out by giving us Scruples in 1978, and she really didn’t let up for almost 20 years. Her first novel was published when she was 50 years old, which should give every aspiring author a great deal of hope. She retired from writing at age 70, after the publication of Spring Collection.

Johanna Lindsey (Mar. 10, 1952 – Oct. 27, 2019): If you are of a certain age, I can almost guarantee you started your career in romance reading by picking up one of Johanna Lindsey’s 50 novels. She started with Captive Bride (1977) and not only gave us wonderful love stories set in various historical time periods, but who didn’t love the Fabio covers?? I remember my grandmother catching me reading one of Ms. Lindsey’s books—and after confiscating it, and reading it herself, asking me if I had any more.

Robert K. Massie (Jan. 5, 1929 – Dec. 2, 2019): My love of Russian history and the tragic story of Nicholas and Alexandra came directly from Mr. Massie’s powerful biography of the two doomed rulers. His biography Peter the Great won him the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1981, and his final book, Catherine the Great, earned him the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

Vonda McIntyre (Aug. 28, 1948 – Apr. 1, 2019): Ms. McIntyre began her career in the early 70’s, winning her first Nebula Award for Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand. This novelette soon expanded into the novel Dreamsnake (1978) for which she won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. She was a trailblazer in the field of science fiction, and is probably best known for writing several Star Trek and Star Wars novels.

Toni Morrison (Feb. 18, 1931 – Aug. 5, 2019): Words fail me here. From The Bluest Eye, her first novel, through her last novel,
God Help the Child, and up to her last book, a work of non-fiction titled The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations, Ms. Morrison enriched our lives. The list of her awards is incredibly long and impressive. She will be missed.

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (Nov. 12, 1928 – Mar. 12, 2019): Every beginning reader from the early 1970’s on has picked up a Nate the Great book and been thoroughly entertained by the boy detective. Ms. Sharmat is the author of over 130 books, and the Nate books alone have been translated into 24 languages.

Gene Wolfe (May 7, 1931 – Apr. 14, 2019): Not only was Mr. Wolfe an accomplished science fiction author, best known for his multi-volume work The Book of the New Sun, but he had an amazing life. He had polio as a child; he was a Korean War vet; he was an industrial engineer, and we can thank him for the machine that makes Pringles potato chips! His final novel, Interlibrary Loan, is due to be published in 2020. And of all the authors in this list, he has had the most books written about him.

Herman Wouk (May 27, 1915 – May 17, 2019): That’s not a typo. Mr. Wouk almost made it to 104, bless him. He gave us  The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and the sequel War and Remembrance, and several works of non-fiction. His final work was Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year Old Author (2015). Now that seems like a book worth reading, and it has been added to my TBR pile.

And so we say goodbye, and thank you. Thank you for the sound foundation of reading, for the history, the romance, the imagination and the glimpses into other cultures, other times, and other worlds. We will be forever grateful.

Winners! Derek’s Great Thanksgiving Escape

Friday, December 20th, 2019

The Winners of the Brand-New Book, Derek’s Great Thanksgiving Escape are:

 

Tracy K. (dixiegirl)

Ronni E. (rifkachaya)


Laurie H.

 

Congratulations to our Winners!

And thank you, Mr. Denert for sharing your book with us!

 

If you would like to read the author interview with
D.M. Denert, you can find it here.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

 

By Cyn F. (Cyn-Sama)

 

While my soul loves everything ooky and spooky about Halloween, I also have a fascination with death culture – how we mourn, and how we care for our dead. My introduction to this was through Jessica Mitford, and the American Way of Death, a scathing expose into the heart of the funeral industry. While it’s an older book, most of the practices still are being used.

 

Then I discovered Caitlin Doughty, and Dr. Paul Koudounaris. Caitlin, is also known for her YouTube series, Ask a Mortician, started off with writing Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory, about her experiences working in a crematorium. She also spreads light on the growing green burial movement, which her funeral home specializes in.
Her next book, From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, shows different cultures views on death, and how they memorialize their loved ones. I’m slightly partial to the chapter on Mexico, and the Day of the Dead celebrations.

 

 
Her most current book Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death, is a series of death related questions, from children. And, no. Your cat will most likely not eat your eyeballs. They’ll go for things like your nose and lips first.
 

Dr. Paul Koudounaris is a well known photographer and art historian. I was introduced to him through Caitlin Doughty, and was drawn to his knowledge, and by how beautiful his photography is. His most recent work is Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us is about the memorials and traditions from around the world.
His previous works are: Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, a look into the curious practice of churches taking the bodies of supposed Christian martyrs, and covering them
with jewels and fine clothing.

 

Then there is The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses. Do you know what an ossuary is? It’s the name for a space that is designed to serve as the final resting place for skeletal remains. You may have heard some of the “bone churches” in Eastern Europe. This book covers all of that.
I hope you will find something on this list interesting. I personally find it fascinating, and I want to share how awesome it all is with everyone I know.

 

Have a happy Halloween, and remember to stay spooky.
 

Free Book Friday Winner!

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

 

The Winner of the brand-new copy of

Ten Thousand Saints

by Eleanor Henderson

is:

Cindy S. (mamacindy)

 

Congratulations! Your Book will be on the way to you soon!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

And, if you would like to purchase a copy of this book, or any of thousands of other titles, you can find great books for great prices in the PBS Market.  Here is the link: PBS Market.