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Reader's Forum at Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on JAN 15, 2003.

Happy New Year readers!

Finally, 12 new reviews were posted at

Before you open any of the links, let me warn you -- I've started the site change. Without a team of programmers, it is impossible for me to migrate the site all at once. But it's a catch 22 -- staying with the old format makes it more difficult to add new reviews. So, I've decided to code all new reviews in the new format and convert the existing pages as time permits. Not a perfect solution since it means that for a few months the site is going to have a bit of schizophrenic look.

BURNING GARBO by Robert Eversz
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

On the morning of her thirtieth birthday, Nina Zero scales the Malibu hillside above the estate of a reclusive film star who hasn't been seen in a decade. She's a paparazzi for the tabloid rag Scandal Times, but this turns out to be more trouble than its worth. Within the next few hours, a man she takes for a bodyguard tries to kill her, she flees a brush fire that torches the star's estate, and an arson investigator decides to prove she set the fire to photograph the results. On parole, she needs to prove her innocence. Nina Zero is a most likable antiheroine.

CALL ME THE BREEZE by Patrick McCabe
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

In a small town in Northern Ireland, in the troubling psychedelic-gone-wrong atmosphere of the late seventies, Joey Tallon embarks on a journey of selfhood, of redemption, and of rebirth. Following the delusional, but also ultimately likable, Tallon on his quest, we unwittingly enter a world constructed by a character who is arguably more lucid during his acid trips than when he's sober. Hilarious, poignant, and unpredictable.

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

When Mary submitted this review, she sent a note saying that she never expected this book to be so funny. This debut novel is a contemporary love story featuring the metaphysical poetry of John Donne and the art of calligraphy. On the surface, it looks and sounds like something very ponderous; but it 's actually almost slapstick in its attitude. Enjoyable.

A SHIP MADE OF PAPER by Scott Spencer
Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

This novel is about desire. Daniel Emerson moves back to the Hudson River town he grew up in after a violent incident in New York City. He is joined by his live-in girlfriend and her daughter. But Daniel has fallen in love with another woman, a married woman. This novel captures the helpless intensity of sexual and romantic yearning and was short-listed for the 2003 National Book Award

Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Book One in Feist's new Conclave of Shadows series "does everything that a first volume in a fantasy series should," according to Cindy. An interesting

Reviewed by Chuck Barksdale

Ex NYPD detective Eddie Dunne must solve his own daughter's kidnapping in this grittily authentic thriller. When his 35-year old daughter Kate is kidnapped from her suburban New York home, Dunne must search his own past for clues, and mostly likely it has to do with his previous employment with a legendary Brighton Beach crime boss.

Reviewed by Wenkai Tay

This is a beautifully told and profoundly compassionate story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set in the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s. An Oprah's Book Club selection, this book was originally published in 1948 but no less significant today.

A BLADE OF GRASS by Lewis DeSoto
Reviewed by Kam Aures

Set on the border between South Africa and an unnamed neighboring country in the 1970s, this is a suspenseful debut novel about a bitter struggle over a small farm and its dramatic consequences for two women, one black and one white.

MOLOKA'I by Alan Brennert
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, is part of a big, loving Hawaiian family, and dreams of seeing the far-off lands that her father, a merchant seaman, often visits. But at the age of seven, Rachel and her dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from her family, she is sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. This sweeping story is based on historical accounts.

Reviewed by Poornima Apte

A farcical look at celebrity worship in today's society through the eyes of Sid Straw, an affable, if not boring, software salesman who tries to rekindle an acquaintanceship with his former college classmate turned Hollywood star Heather Locklear. An amusing casual read.

VERSAILLES by Kathryn Davis
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

An enchanting novel that provides another understanding of Marie Antoinette, starting as the Austrian girl to be wedded to the future King of France, who eventually is beheaded. Not a typical historical novel.

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

When Robicheaux, now a police officer based in the somewhat quieter Louisiana town of New Iberia, learns that an old friend, Father Jimmie Dolan, a Catholic priest always at the center of controversy, has been the victim of a particularly brutal assault, he knows he has to return to New Orleans to investigate, if only unofficially. What he doesn't realize is that in doing so he is inviting into his life -- and into the lives of those around him -- an ancestral evil that could destroy them all.

Reviews for the following books were added in DECEMBER, but not mentioned in any newsletter as yet:

THE KNOWN WORLD by Edward P. Jones
Reviewed by Shannon Bloomstran

Set in Manchester County, Virginia, 20 years before the Civil War began, Jones's debut novel is a masterpiece of overlapping plot lines, time shifts, and heartbreaking details of life under slavery - and one slave owner who is a former slave himself.

BEYOND THIS TIME by Charlotte Banchi
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

In the year 2000, two Maceyville, Alabama police officers respond to a 911 and discover a rift in time. In pursuit of an arsonist, Kat Templeton, the department's first black officer, and her partner find themselves in 1963 Maceyville.

MR. TIMOTHY by Louis Bayard
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

In this mystery set in the teeming markets, shadowy passageways, and rolling brown fog of 1860s London, Timothy Cratchit is "not so tiny anymore." An audacious yet successfully imagined sequel to Dicken's A Christmas Story.

Reviewed by Nandini Pandya

As Nandini says in her review, Skipping Christmas starts off with a very promising and original premise. Too bad it is not the story that it should have been. Even though it's past Christmas, check out Nandini's thoughts on this book.


Sorry, there are no raffles again this month. I am postponing them until I can get the site squared away and catch my breath. As I tried to say in my New Year's Reflections and Resolutions the raffles had been getting out of control and I felt like I was just doing this site to get from one set of raffles to the next. I'm hoping by March or April that I can start raffles again. We'll see.

So Happy New Year and may all the books in your TBR piles be read this new year. Personally, I'm banking on Leap Day to catch up on all kinds of things, there's nothing like an extra day in the year.

Judi Clark

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