Daily Archives: September 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday – September 3, 2012 (and a Give Away)

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday which is hosted this month by Kristen at BookNAround.

Go to the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Here is what showed up at my house this week:

Laura at Penguin sent me Murder in the Rue Dumas: A Verlaque & Bonnet Provencal Mystery by M. L. Longworth (September 2012). This is the second book of the series (the first book is Death at the Chateau Bremont) and is set in the university town of Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. Monsier Verlaque and his side-kick professor Marine Bonnet investigate a “dumbfounding murder” on the campus and uncover “much more than scandalous university politics.” Read a sneak preview of Chapter One on the author’s blog.

M. L. Longworth has lived in Aix-en-Provence since 1997. She is the author of a bilingual collection of essays (published in 2004) as well as a previous novel, Death at Chateau Bremont (Penguin, 2011). Learn more about Longworth and her work by visiting the author’s website.

The good people at Tor-Forge/Macmillan sent me a finished copy of The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan (September 2012). This is the first book in a new series. Jane Ryland was a rising star in television news…until she refused to reveal a source and lost everything. Now a disgraced newspaper reporter, she finds herself tracking down a candidate’s secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election. Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a possible serial killer. “As the body count rises and election looms closer, it becomes clear to Jane and Jake that their cases are connected…and that they may be facing a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to silence a scandal.” This looks like the perfect political thriller for this election year!

Check out this great video where the author talks about the book:

A former US Senate staffer and political campaign aide, Hank Phillipi Ryan is the investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, and has won twenty-seven Emmys and ten Edward R. Murrow awards. A bestselling author of four mystery novels, she has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s on the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Learn more about Ryan and her work by visiting the author’s website.

I also received a non fiction book from William Morrow which I have decided to give away to one lucky winner:

A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball by Dwyane Wade (September 2012) the reader meets “the coaches, mentors, and teammates who played pivotal roles in Dwyane’s stunning basketball career—from his early days shooting hoops on the neighborhood courts in Chicago, to his rising stardom at Marquette University in Milwaukee, to his emergence as an unheralded draft pick by the Miami Heat.” Dwyane Wade’s rise to NBA stardom was a difficult one. He grew up with his sister Tragil on Chicago’s South Side, the son of divorced parents. There he faced poverty, violence, and drugs and watched his mother descend into addiction. Ultimately he moved (with his sister) into his father’s home – and this experience laid the groundwork for his later mission for fathers to take greater responsibility for their kids. From the publisher: “In this moving and triumphant memoir, Wade shares his inspiring thoughts about fathers and sons, writing poignantly about the gratifying responsibilities of being a single dad to his two sons, Zaire and Zion, while recounting his own growing up years and his memorable rise to the top echelon of professional basketball.

Dwyane Wade is a guard for the Miami Heat whose Wade’s World Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to benefit children and families across America. President Obama recently appointed him to help lead a program geared toward encouraging fathers to become more involved in their children’s lives. He lives in Miami, Florida.


Would you like to win A FATHER FIRST? I am happy to send it to one of my readers (US addresses only, please).

  • This is going to have a quick turnaround. Contest open through September 9th at 5:00 pm PST and I will announce the winner on my blog on September 10th (I’ll also send the winner a confirmation by email).
  • TO ENTER complete the survey:   Click here to take survey

Did any wonderful books find their way to YOUR home this week?

Sunday Salon – September 2, 2012

September 2, 2012

Good morning and welcome to the Sunday Salon (check out more posts by visiting the dedicated Facebook page). August was certainly an interesting month for me personally, but I did manage to read some really good books! I finished seven books, three of which I rated five stars…not bad, right?

Last week I mentioned that I loved The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar…and my review of that book posted on Tuesday as part of a TLC Book Tour.

I finished reading The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich and (not unexpectedly) found it to be an amazing, highly recommended novel (read my review). Erdrich is one of my favorite female writers. I consider her to be in the same category as A.S. Byatt, Barbara Kingsolver and Margaret Atwood in terms of storytelling genius. Her work can be challenging (she has a lot of interwoven characters and sub-stories in her novels), but it is always rewarding and satisfying. I am planning to read her latest novel soon (due out in October) titled The Round House. It re-introduces some of the characters from The Plague of Doves and I expect to love it!

I also finished the latest release by Peirene Press: The Murder of Halland (read my review). This slim novel is quite a mind-bender. What first appears to be straight forward crime fiction becomes a twisty, bizarre journey through grief and loss. Although the book is short (less than 200 pages), it actually took me a while to get through it. If you are looking for an intellectually stimulating read, you might want to pick this one up.

I’m currently reading a book for Bookies Too. Home by Toni Morrison centers around a Korean war veteran named Frank Money who returns to racist America bearing the psychological scars of battle. I’m a quarter of the way through this slim novel and am enjoying Morrison’s exceptional writing.

I have a terrific stack of books on my bedside table for September which include:

I also have a slew of books from previous months that I would love to read in September as well…

What about you? Do you have some amazing books on your schedule for this month?


The Murder of Halland – Book Review

When I opened my eyes again, I knew a sound had woken me, but I had no idea what sound. An echo reverberated inside me. – from The Murder of Halland, page 12 –

Many years after Bess has left her husband and young daughter, Abby, to move in with Halland the two lovers are living in a small town in Denmark. One morning, Bess is woken by a sound and discovers Halland has been murdered – shot – in the village square. Who has killed Halland? Thus begins the very literary, mind-bending novella by Pia Juul.

Juul is somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in her native country of Denmark, but she is new to a U.S. audience through this adept translation published through Peirene Press. The Murder of Halland appears, at first, to be a whodunnit. But Juul turns the genre of crime fiction on its head by taking us on a journey through loss instead.

Bess is a writer, an intellectual, who mourns her shattered relationship with her daughter and has a strained, if not disconnected, relationship with both her mother and grandfather. When Halland dies, she seems to go off the deep end – stealing money, drinking excessively, flirting with her neighbor, rekindling a sexual relationship with her ex-husband, and abandoning her work. Tantalizing clues emerge about Halland – a secret room, shuffling of financial accounts and a pregnant niece who apparently was getting all of Halland’s mail forwarded to her. None of it makes sense to Bess or to the reader. As Bess moves through her life now absent of Halland, she begins to re-examine her past and contemplate her future.

Juul’s writing is surreal at times. There are seemingly unconnected events which never get fully explained, such as the disappearance of a neighbor. Juul painstakingly develops the character of Bess while keeping the reader guessing about the real motivations of the secondary characters. It becomes clear, eventually, that Bess is an unreliable narrator who may be hiding her own secrets.

The Murder of Halland packs a lot of punch in a short number of pages. It is a sometimes bizarre, always twisting journey down a path of grief and dark secrets. The ending startled me and was somewhat baffling. Indeed, I paged back to the beginning and began to read again wondering if I had missed an important clue earlier in the story.

This is not a traditional piece of crime fiction. It is a sharply observed, intellectually stimulating piece of literary fiction. Readers who enjoy translated works which challenge established genres will find this little gem worth the read.


FTC Disclosure: This novel was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.