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Reader's Forum at Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on July 5, 2004.

Hello, readers!

Sixteen new reviews were posted to Click on the book covers to read the reviews; click on reviewers name to learn more about the reviewer.

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

In her second novel, Jenny McPhee (The Center of Things) writes about the offbeat worlds of soap operas, mistaken identities, private detectives, and sibling rivalries as she deftly navigates the territory between coincidence and fate. As Mary Whipple points out, it's an unusual combination of wild romance/melodrama and hard science, which not too many authors can pull off -- twice.

by David Sedaris
Reviewed by Poornima Apte

David Sedaris is not a fiction writer, but his writings are so filled with introspection and humor that any fiction reader won't mind this distinction. Poornima calls this collection his most mature volume to date.

Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

Ray Fos returns to Tennessee from the trenches of France intrigued with electricity, bioluminescence and x-rays; he believes in science and the future of technology. Set at the brink of the Atomic Age, in the years between the two world wars, this 2003 finalist for the National Book Awards is hypnotic and powerful, as it constructs a heartbreaking arc through twentieth-century American life and belief.

THE SEIGE OF SALT COVE by Anthony Weller
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

A darkly comic novel in which a New England town decides to secede from the United States when the state decides to replace its signature wooden bridge with a concrete monstrosity. Mary's review is made all the more interesting since she lives right where the story takes place -- check out her links.

Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Just in case The Siege of Salt Cove got you thinking about seafood, here's a very readable, well-researched true story about our favorite crustacean, the Maine Lobster. Yum.

Q by Luther Blissett
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Here is a spy story that takes place during the turbulent years of the early Reformation. Perhaps as interesting as this historical period in which this story is set, is the manner in which this book was written -- by four anonymous Italian authors who are part of a collective of "cultural terrorists" known as the Luther Blissett project. Understandably, Q has become a cult bestseller across Europe.

ENTER SANDMAN by Stephanie Williams
Reviewed by Kam Aures

Around her 30th birthday, Stephanie Williams was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer (read Fighting for My Life); one of the thoughts that ran through her mind was that she now would never have a chance to write a novel. Never say never. But don't expect this to be a morose novel; though tragic, it is funny and feisty.

DEAD LINES by Greg Bear
Reviewed by Judi Clark

Greg Bear's latest novel is an old-fashioned ghost story with a high tech enabler. A Californian start-up has found a way to tap into a unlimited "free" service that allows telephone calls from anywhere in the world at anytime. Peter Russell is about to discover the drawback.

Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

As a deathmaiden, Frances' mission is to help people pass into the next reality--just as a baby is ushered into the world by a midwife. Thus Francis knows that when young Tomas dies under mysterious circumstances--it is before his time. Now, with an intricately carved piece of Mayan Jade that belonged to Tomas in hand, Frances travels to Mexico to find the truth behind her young charge's untimely death. A very original mystery.

SHADOW OF DEATH by William G. Tapply
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Tapply's protagonist is Brady Coyne, a nice-guy Boston attorney who enjoys fishing whenever he can schedule it in. In this twentieth novel, Brady Coyne investigates the odd behavior of Albert Stoddard, the husband of a woman hoping to become the first female U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. If you've never read a Brady Coyne novel, I can confidently say, start with any of them -- after reading one, you'll be happy there are so many more to enjoy.

WHISKEY SOUR by J. A. Konrath
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Lieutenant Jack (Jacqueline) Daniels is a 47-year-old detective in the Chicago, Illinois Police Department. In this first in a new series, she is called to the scene of a horrific murder orchestrated by the Gingerbread Man. A sensible/humorous narrative with high tension plotting (even if it is a serial killer thriller), which features a middle-aged woman (for a change).

THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY by Luis Alberto Urrea
Reviewed by Sebastian Fernandez

In May 2001, 26 Mexican men scrambled across the border and into an area of the Arizona desert known as the Devil's Highway. Only 12 made it safely across. Urrea tracks the paths those men took from their home state of Veracruz all the way norte. Their enemies were many: the U.S. Border Patrol ("La Migra"); gung-ho gringo vigilantes bent on taking the law into their own hands; the Mexican Federales; rattlesnakes; severe hypothermia and the remorseless sun.

THE DEW BREAKER by Edwidge Danticat
Reviewed by Poornima Apte

A brilliant, deeply moving work of fiction that explores the world of a “dew breaker”—a torturer—a man whose brutal crimes in the country of his birth, Haiti, lie hidden beneath his new American reality in a Brooklyn neighborhood. With Haiti recently in the headlines, this book is all the more topical.

Reviewed by Curtis Urness

This is Miroswava Hudak's story, daughter of Slavic immigrants and survivor of child abuse, and her transformation from an insecure, unmotivated woman to a brilliant teacher who changes the lives of her students. Packed with exquisite prose, uniquely written.

CITY BOY by Jean Thompson
Reviewed by Kam Aures

Where is the line between love and crazy? How much of life can ever be planned out or foreseen, even by intelligent, savvy, well-meaning people? This is a love story that twists, and twists again, as it follows the stubborn persistence of passion and the outsized emotions that feed it. For anyone who has ever fallen in love -- or out of it.

THE ROAD TO RUIN by Donald E. Westlake
Reviewed by Hagen Baye

The John Dortmunger series has been around since 1970, when Westlake wrote the first book featuring the hapless crook. Unlike many series, Westlake doesn't update this one every year, so it is an extra treat to have a new Dortmunder novel, though in my opinion, any book by Westlake is a treat.

Hope you have had a great 4th of July weekend. We had glorious, perfect weather here both Saturday and Sunday. Carl and I rode our bicycles for several hours each day, rewarded ourselves with Annabelle's homemade ice cream, went to the electric model airplane flying field for Carl's maiden voyage of his winter project, read books, watched movies and generally relaxed. Since the fireworks are shot up from the park located almost across the street from us, we have great rooftop seats. I always think that I don't care if I see the fireworks -- though honestly we really don't have much choice as they are so loud we can't do anything else. Still, once they start -- that first big bang -- I'm out the window (onto the roof, nothing that drastic) and in childish awe; the fireworks do seem to get more sophisticated each year. Anyhow, nice for it to rain today so that I could finally get this long overdue update done.

Happy Reading!

Judi Clark

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