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Join our Newsletter! Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on
May 4, 2006

Hello, readers!

22 new reviews were recently posted to Click on the book cover to read the review; click on reviewer's name to learn more about the reviewer.

by Ruth Francisco
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

Fictional memoir that lets us in on the private Jackie. A well imagined novel.

by Marti Leimbach
Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky

Melanie Marsh is a transplanted American living in London with her British husband, Stephen, and their children when her son is diagnosed with autism.

by James Sallis
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

In spare, minimalist prose, James Sallis continues the story of John Turner, whom he introduced in his previous novel, Cypress Grove.

by Lisa Unger
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

Ridley Jones life is turned upside down after she saves a toddler from being hit by a speeding truck and makes front page news.

by Martha Sherrill
Reviewed by Nora Kathleen Reilly

An insightful and enchanting coming of age story about Inez Ruin, a young girl growing up in Southern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

by Brian Shawver
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Focuses on the aftermath of a vicious fight which leaves a prep school senior brain-damaged. Mostly focusing on the restaurant manager who did not call the police and the mother of the damaged boy, who is not sure that her son didn't ask for it.

by Joanne Harris
Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky

A riveting and stunningly complex novel of psychological suspense by the author of Chocolate.

by Paul Adam
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

In Cremona, Italy, a violin maker is murdered. When his devastated friends, including police detective Guastafeste, discover that the dead man was obsessed with finding an immensely valuable violin they decide to continue his quest.

by Nobuo Kojima
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Originally written in 1965, this is the first (of over thirty) novels to be translated into English. Set in Japan during the American Occupation after World War II and offers an interesting view into Japanese culture.

by Grace Tiffany
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

A retelling of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice from the perspective of five unusual women.

by Christopher Buckley
Reviewed by Pat Neuman

Outraged by the execution of an Arab friend who had tried to escape her husband and seek asylum while in Washington, DC but was then forced home to her fate, Florence Farfaletti has a brainstorm. 

by Marshall Karp
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

Introducing L.A. Detectives Mike Lomaz and Terry Biggs, the amusing cops in this multi-layered thriller.

by Rupert Holmes
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

With its ironic and ambiguous title, this whodunit sets new standards for well developed, fast-paced writing, with complex mysteries within mysteries, and a setting which comes vibrantly alive both in time and place.

by Shari Goldhagen
Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky

Five years after their father dies of a heart attack, Jack and Connor Reed's mother dies of an aneurysm, and Jack, 25, returns to Cleveland to take care of 15-year-old Connor and to work in his late father's corporate law firm.

by Boris Starling
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

From December 23, 1991, to May 9, 1992, the reader is taken on a wild roller coaster ride through a landscape reeling in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the inception of privatization.

by Dana Stabenow
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

A terrorist bombing in Thailand, in October, 2004, is the prelude to this dramatic and exciting sea chase, as Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Sara Lange finds herself engaged in much more dangerous activity than patrolling the Maritime Boundary Line between the US and Russia.

by Michael Mewshaw
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

A compelling non-fiction story of adoption and its aftermath.

by Cook's Illustrated
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Low-fat recipes that taste so good that you will choose to use them again and again.  After all, "a light recipe you make only once is not very helpful."

by Matilde Asensi
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

After Dr. Ottavia Salina, a nun working as a paleographer at the Vatican, is asked to decipher tattoos on the dead body of an "enemy of the Church" from Ethiopia, she soon discovers the deceased was tied up with the Staurofilakes, an ancient order who have sought to protect the True Cross and now seem to be stealing slivers of it from around the world.

by Javier Sierra
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

Set in the late 15th century, this one revolves around a papal inquisitor's investigation into Leonardo da Vinci's alleged heresies and offers a new way of interpreting The Last Supper.

by Raymond Khoury
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

The Knights Templar, a small monastic military order formed in the early 1100s to protect travelers to the Holy Land, eventually grew and became wealthy beyond imagination. In 1307, the French king, feeling jealous and greedy, killed off the Templars, and by 1311, the last master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake. The whereabouts of the Templars' treasure--and their secrets--have been the subject of legend ever since.

by Thomas Perry
Reviewed by Pat Neuman

Police in several cities become convinced that a string of murders are related to one woman who may herself be a victim of the murderer.  But Detective Catherine Hobbes, the only woman involved in the investigation suspects that the blond hair at the crime scene is from the woman who committed the murder NOT a missing victim or potential witness.


"Many people don't believe that one can give an account of the world, of society, but only of the self - 'how I saw it.' They assume that what writers do is testify, if not confess, and a work is about how you see the world and put yourself on the line. Fiction is supposed to be 'true.' Like photographs." - -Susan Sontag

For books clubs and anyone interested in talking about what they read, I think that a few of this month's recommendations give much contemplation to the James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) debacle concerning fiction versus nonfiction. Certainly, Ruth Francisco's The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis gets away with all the literary license that (well researched) fiction allows, but is it true and what is truth anyway?

Then we have two other works of fiction that are based on personal experience, but in each case the authors chose to fictionalize the story. Daniel Isn't Talking by Marti Leimbach, who written by the mother of an autistic son and The Ruins of California by Martha Sherrill, is based on the author's father. What is the advantage of fiction over nonfiction in each of these cases? Is it the right choice to add more color and fun events to a story that otherwise speaks the truth (and educates) or as it the latter of these two books, is it a matter of protecting the innocents involved in the real life story? Can one tell more truth in fiction?

And finally we have a nonfiction bookv If You Could See Me Now by Michael Mewshew, based on a real experience and taking a look at the consequences of adoption. Does publishing a nonfiction book give the subject matter more credibility? What more could be accomplished if the author had decided to turn this into a novel? Would we believe this story if it were fiction?

Personally, I have no interest in reading A Million Little Pieces. In fact, had an arc of the book and the assigned reviewer decided not to write a review because he felt that it lacked credibility. (Too bad, he didn't write the review after all!) But, I find myself thinking about the questions that the James Frey memoir raises, often. Do you?

The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense. --Tom Clancy

Another treat this update, Jana has taken on "The Da Vinci Code-read-likes" and is looking for the novel that fills in the space while we wait for the sequel, which is now delayed until next year.

Happy reading!

Judi Clark


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