Posted in California, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on April 30, 2012

This week’s feature is an older book…circa 1997.  Ok, so older but not that old!  And doing research on the author realized she died in 2006.  Guess that means no more books in this series, but there are 6 to enjoy.

Anywho…the book is Delilah Doolittle and the Purloined Pooch and the author is Patricia Guiver.

Synopsis:
 
Sunny Southern California seems an unlikely place for a British widow to call home. But pet detective Delilah Doolittle is probably the least eccentric–if not the most civilized–of Surf City’s resident population. With the astute Doberman pinscher Watson sniffing out clues, Delilah follows the trails of missing animals, which often lead to the worst of human nature. The first thrilling pet detective mystery has Delilah Doolittle searching for a champion German shepherd. But when she finds a murdered man instead, it’s up to Delilah to collar a killer!
 
Review:
 
I love dogs, so any book with a dog in it is usually a winner with me.  The book started off a bit slow for me but once I got into the story I really enjoyed the story.  I didn’t figure out the killer and was suprised when this person was revealed.  Definitely not who I was expecting!  I’m not sure if I will continue with this series since there are so many books to read, but it is worth a read.

 

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Posted in fiction, Historical, New York, Review on February 14, 2012

I love getting random emails from authors asking me to review a book, especially when the book is something I probably wouldn’t have normally picked up or even known about.  Stretching the mind is a good thing!

Ed Brodow contacted me about reading and reviewing Fixer which is fiction but loosely based on his Grandfather’s life in New York in the early 1900’s and especially dealt with the Jewish population in New York.  He graciously sent me an e-book copy to read.

 

From the slums of the Lower East Side to New Orleans, the Vatican, and the bloody battle of Belleau Wood, Fixer is the spellbinding tale of a fearless politician with a limp and a thirty-eight who is faced with an impossible choice between his career and his integrity.

Harry Leonnoff, uneducated son of Russian Jewish immigrants, overcomes the poverty of the Lower East Side, a crippling bout with polio, and rampant anti-Semitism to become the admired Robin Hood of Depression-Era New York. He helps four mayors get elected, saves nine innocent black men from the electric chair, and comes to the aid of immigrants and the poor. But the enmity of Fiorello La Guardia may be too much even for Harry Leonnoff to fix.

 

 Ed was also kind enough to let me interview him for this review.

SBR:  What made you decide to write a book loosely based on your Grandfather’s life?

EB: My grandfather was the most extraordinary human being I’ve ever met. His story is remarkable and yet no one alive today knows who he was. That has always disturbed me. For about 40 years, I’ve thought about telling the story. Why it came avalanching out when it did — about five years ago — I am not really sure, but better late than never. Incidentally, I would have written a memoir if I’d been in possession of enough facts, but I wasn’t so I made most of it up.

SBR: How long did it take you to research the facts you needed for your novel and then write the novel itself?

EB: I did all the research and wrote the first draft in seven weeks. It just came flying out. Whoosh! Then I spent two years polishing it.

SBR: What is your biggest obstacle when writing and how do you overcome it?

EB:  I am a wonderful story teller but my style is economical (which I’m proud of, by the way). Sometimes I gloss over the details. My solution is to (1) carefully organize my ideas and outline the chapters; (2) do lots of research; and (3) answer the question, “What does the reader want to know?”

SBR:  What actors would you choose to play your main characters in a movie version of your book?

EB: Everyone tells me that Fixer would be a great movie. For Harry Leonnoff, I could cast Daniel Day-Lewis (I have a feeling he would ace it), Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, or Nicholas Cage (he seems to understand that New York ethnic thing). For Fiorello, Jack Nicholson (he’d be great because he is short and has a great sense of humor), Paul Giamatti, John Malkovich, or Christoff Waltz.

SBR: Who are two of your favorite authors and what are you reading now?

EB: Jim Harrison and Hemingway, both fabulous story tellers. I’m reading Off to the Side by Jim Harrison.

My Review:

My normal preferred genres of books usually doesn’t include historical novels.  I don’t know why, but maybe the writers didn’t really impress me with their descriptions…or maybe I just got older and my tastes changed (kind of like they do with food).  Needless to say, I truly enjoyed reading Fixer and getting a taste of what it was like in the early 1900’s in New York and what it was like to be an immigrant and Jewish on top of that.  Politics were a whole different game back then and it was fascinating to learn about positions that don’t exist any more, but perhaps they should.

The author takes you through a very historic period in New York and the dark and seedy underbelly of politics.  While the book is fiction, there is some truth to the story.  He weaves a tale that makes you feel like you are there and living in that moment and can imagine what it was like to be an immigrant at the turn of the century.

This story really grabbed me and kept me entranced with the characters and how they overcame adversity for their time.

I definitely recommend this book and give it 2 thumbs up!  If you have a Kindle or other E-book reader it is a steal at $2.99 on Smashwords.

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Posted in Las Vegas, Review, women on January 14, 2012

 

Today’s (way overdue) review is for A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury.  This is Irene’s first novel and was inspired by her love to travel, especially to Las Vegas!  She came up with the idea for this novel in 2006 and after many years of research, A Slot Machine was born.  She said that writing this novel was her mid-life crisis…..I suppose there are worse things that writing a novel!

Synopsis from Irene’s website:

This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair’s spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005.

The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis.

She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters.  Paula’s her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who’s looser than a Casino Royale slot.  Maxine’s her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss.  Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with.  Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.

And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy’s workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston.  Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar’s!   Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover?

My Thoughts:

I will have to admit that I picked this book up and started reading it and had to put it back down.  I’m not sure if it was my frame of mind or the main character, Wendy, but I wanted to grab her by the arms and shake her and ask her what her problem was!  Who takes off for a long weekend in Vegas with a self-absorbed friend and then decides to not come back to a new marriage?  If this is a mid-life crisis it was definitely going to be a doozy!

The story got better as I went along but the ending was a bit of a surprise.  I won’t spoil it for you but it wasn’t what I expected that’s for sure.

Overall I would give this 3 stars.  It was good but I’ve read better and I’ve read worse.

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