Tag Archives: new release

Coming Attractions (2012)

Here’s a sampling of new and upcoming books that might well wind up on the to-be-read stack.

The Bungalow: A Novel by Sarah Jio (Plume; December 27, 2011)

We loved The Violets of March by Sarah Jio and thought it was one of the best debut novels of 2011.   Now Jio returns with a quite different type of story set in Bora Bora during World War II.   Wrote reader Laura Bolin on Amazon: “The Bungalow was an old black and white movie straight out of my grandparent’s generation.   I was swept away by Jio’s vivid descriptions and I loved every minute of it.”

Tuesday Night Miracles: A Novel by Kris Radish (Bantam Dell; January 3, 2012)

An entertaining story about an almost-retired counselor who tries to help a group of four women – all of whom have serious pending matters with the legal system – manage their anger issues in court-ordered group counseling sessions.   The women will have to graduate from the group in order to return  to their normal lives.   Oh, and they don’t like each other at all – which means that the counselor is going to have to take some drastic (and perhaps even professionally unethical) actions in order to get them to a kinder and gentler place.

Gun Games: A Novel by Faye Kellerman (William Morrow; January 3, 2012)

Faye Kellerman once again showcases Peter Decker of the Los Angeles Police Department and Rina Lazarus, likely the most popular husband and wife team in modern crime fiction.   A series of shocking adolescent suicides at an elite L. A. private school is at the heart of this thriller.   As if this isn’t enough, there’s  also the fact that Decker and Lazarus have brought a very troubled teenager into their home: Gabriel Whitman, the son of a psychopath.

The Confession: A Novel by Charles Todd (Wm. Morrow; January 12, 2012)

An historical crime novel, continuing Charles Todd’s World War I veteran, and yet still highly effective Scotland Yard Inspector, Ian Rutledge.   Rutledge struggles with a startling and dangerous case that reaches far back into the past when a false confession by a man who was not who he claimed to be resulted in a brutal murder.

Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir by Doron Weber (Simon & Schuster; February 7, 2012)

Not to be confused with Anne Lamott’s novel Imperfect Birds, this is a moving memoir about a boy born with a defective heart – located on the right side of his chest – who weathers major heart surgeries before being hit with a highly unique, perhaps untreatable disease.   Those who years ago read Death Be Not Proud may be drawn to this account.

Spin: A Novel by Catherine McKenzie (Wm. Morrow; February 7, 2012)

Kate’s an ambitious – if self-damaging – reporter who goes undercover.   She enters a drug and alcohol rehab clinic to find out what’s happening with the popular and troubled young actress Amber Shepard.   “Imagine if Bridget Jones fell into a million little pieces, flew over the cuckoo’s nest, and befriended Lindsay Lohan along the way…”

The Lola Quartet: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel (Unbridled Books; May 15, 2012)

We gave a highly recommended rating to Mandel’s 2010 novel The Singer’s Gun, which was as gutsy as it was unique and engaging.   Her third novel examines “questions of identity, the deep pull of family, the difficulties of being the person one wants to be, the un-reliability of memory, and the unforeseen ways a small and innocent action can have disastrous consequences.”   It’s bound to be worth the price of admission.

Joseph Arellano

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Ring of Fire

Guilt by Association: A Novel by Marcia Clark (Mulholland Books; $25.99; 368 pages)

It may be a shame that Marcia Clark spent so many years as a prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles.   I say this because she’s such a talented writer, as is made clear by this fun romp of a criminal justice novel.   Because the book’s protagonist, Rachel Knight, just happens to be a Deputy District Attorney who works in the L.A. County Criminal Courts Building (the beloved CCB) one would think that there’s a bit of Ms. Clark in the character.   Maybe, maybe not…  Rachel Knight may be a bit more daring than Clark was in real life.

One surprise is to be noted up front.   This is not a courtroom novel.   No scenes take place inside of a courtroom, so this is not a Scott Turow-style read.   Basically, this is the story of a prosecutor who decides to become a criminal investigator, off of the time sheets and without the approval of her supervisors.   As Guilt by Association begins, Knight is celebrating a victory with fellow DDA Jake Pahlmeyer and LAPD Detective Bailey Keller.   It’s not long before Pahlmeyer is found dead downtown, in a seedy hotel room with a 17-year-old boy; and there’s a nude photo of the boy in his suit jacket pocket.   Knight’s supervisors quickly tell her to keep her “hands off” of the murder investigation involving her best friend in the criminal justice system.

Being a bit of a rogue, Knight involves Bailey in her effort to clear the late Pahlmeyer’s name in a city where scandals are less than a dime a dozen.   And as she does so, she also has to take over one of Jake’s cases – one that involves the rape of a 15-year-old girl, the daughter of a very prominent physician.   Are the two cases somehow related?   Maybe, maybe not…  You’ll have to read this criminal justice system mystery to find out, and to learn the meaning of the rather intriguing title.

You never know what’s coming around the curve…  Reading Guilt by Association is like taking a ride down the virtually mythical Mulholland Drive in a new Tesla roadster.

This reviewer does offer a prediction for the future of this protagonist.   My money is on Rachel Knight’s getting fired by the D.A.’s office, and working as an embittered newly licensed private investigator who uses every contact in her address book to solve some of the county’s toughest and meanest crimes.   Not only will it make a series of great reads, but quite possibly a new hit TV show.   Rachel Knight, PI – it somehow sounds just right!

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Guilt by Association will be released on April 20, 2011.

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Coming Up Next…

A review of the new book from Marcia Clark, Guilt by Association: A Novel (Mulholland Books).

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Win here, home, hope

Kaira Rouda’s book Here, Home, Hope: A Novel will not be released until Sunday, May 1, 2011 (Greenleaf Book Group; $15.00).   But you can enter now to win one of three copies that we’re giving away!   This is a tale that will appeal to readers of popular fiction who feel like they’re ready to transition into something new in their own lives.

Here is the official synopsis of Here, Home, Hope:

Kelly Mills Johnson becomes restless in her thirty-ninth year.   An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her ordinary middle-American existence and her neighbors’ seemingly perfect lives.   Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding but exhausting.   Meanwhile, Kelly’s own passions lie wasted.   She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathyrn and Charolotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all.   Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife makeover plan.

Kelly’s witty reflections, self-deprecating humor, and clever tactics in executing that plan – she places Post-It notes all over her house and car – will have readers laughing out loud.   The next instant, they might rant along with Kelly as her commitment to a sullen, anorexic teenager left on her doorstep tries her patience or as she deflects the boozy advances of a divorced neighbor.   Readers will need to keep the tissue box handy, as Kelly repairs the damage she inflicted on a high school friend; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own blend of home and career.

In order to enter this contest, just post a comment with your name and e-mail address below while answering the question, “Have you ever reached a point of restlessness in your own life?   If so, how did you handle it?”   This will count as a first entry.   For a second giveaway contest entry, tell us the name and location of your very  favorite bookstore in the U.S.  (Maybe Kelly will decide to pay it a visit, you never know.)

If you prefer not to post a comment here, you can send an e-mail or two to Josephsreviews@gmail.com .   In order to enter this giveaway you must live in the U.S., have a residential mailing address (books will not be shipped to P. O. boxes or business related addresses), and submit your entry or entries by Midnight PST on Monday, May 30, 2011 (Memorial Day).   The 3 winners will be drawn at random, notified by e-mail, and given 72 hours within which to provide a proper mailing address.

This is it for the complex contest rules.   As always, good luck and good reading!

Note:  Kelly Rouda will be doing a book signing and reading in Capitola, California on Monday, May 16, 2011, 7:00 p.m. at the Capitola Book Cafe (1475 41st Avenue).   She will be doing a reading and book signing in San Francisco at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at Book Passage (1 Ferry Building).   For information on these events, call (831) 462-4415 or (415) 835-1020.


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Teach Your Children

Night Road by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press; $27.99; 400 pages)

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices.   To hold on…  To let go…  To forget…  To forgive…   Which road will you take?

In a compelling novel of love, loss, hope and understanding, author Kristin Hannah redefines the pluses and minuses – challenges, tenderness and empowerment – of motherhood.

Jude Farrady has everything.   She lives the ideal life; a loving husband, a custom-built home, friends that support and love her, and twins that have an extraordinarily close relationship.   Her life revolves around her twins, ensuring that they have everything they need to be happy and successful.

Lexi Baill has nothing.   The orphan of a drug addict, she has grown up living in multiple foster homes, without a family, abandoned and alone.   With a heart of gold she selflessly carries hope that someday things will turn out differently.

When Lexi befriends Jude’s daughter Mia on their first day of high school, their lives are forever changed.   Lexi brings out the best in the shy sister of the most popular boy in town.   The bond between the twins and Lexi encourages the Farraday’s to treat Lexi like one of their own.   Finally finding a permanent home with the aunt she never knew she had combined with the love she is shown from the Farraday’s, Lexi feels she has finally found the life she has always dreamed of.

Yet tragedy finds a way into the lives of even those with the most fortunate of circumstances.   The resulting loss forces everyone to reevaluate the future of their relationships and life beyond the boundaries of the predictable.

Author Hannah presents an endearing and engaging story that uncovers a path of unpredictable events…  Events that will leave you laughing, crying, wishing and hoping but above all feeling fully appreciative of the love, devotion and trials that come with the territory of being a mother.

Well recommended.

Kelly Monson

A review copy was received from the publisher.   Night Road was released on March 22, 2011.   “Longtime fans will love this rich, multilayered reading experience, and it’s an easy recommendation for book clubs.”   Library Journal

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Isn’t It a Pity

13 rue Therese: A Novel by Elena Mauli Shapiro (Reagan Arthur Books; $23.99; 288 pages)

Initially this appears to be a beautifully presented novel based on the possessions of a woman who once lived in the early 1900s (experiencing both World Wars), in Paris.   The graphic reproductions of items owned by Louise Brunet, which came into the author’s possession as a young girl, are reproduced in a high-class manner.   Unfortunately, this story also contains some troubling characteristics which ruined the experience for this reader.

In the early 1980s, the author’s mother salvaged a small box of mementos formerly owned by Mrs. Brunet:  “This box is the sepulcher of Louise Brunet’s heart.   The story behind the objects is lost; the objects are now the story…  As I have carried this strange box through life and across the world, I have always intended to make a book out of it.   This book now exists; you hold it in your hands.”

It is a charming and promising premise – fleshing out an unknown life via the author’s imagination.   A great deal of the content involves the lives of French people, men and women, during World War I.   The read is initially quite engaging as we encounter an American historical researcher-professor, living in the present day, who comes across Mrs. Brunet’s possessions and begins – as he charts out the happenings of her life – to fall in love with her.   It will be an unrequited love except for the fact that through a miracle of time travel he comes to meet her face to face.   Having met Mrs. Brunet, the researcher is essentially freed to fall in love with a woman of his own time.

All of this has a Somewhere in Time or The Time Traveler’s Wife aspect to it, which seems wonderful on its face.   And yet, the Louise Brunet that the reader comes to identify with in the first half of the novel turns into a madwoman in its concluding portion.   This is a happily married woman – a woman who has never had a child – who engages in an affair with a married neighbor, knowing full well that it is wrong and that she takes the chance of getting pregnant; something that would destroy her marriage and world.

This female protagonist also engages in crimes and enjoys confessing her sins to a Catholic priest, to the point where she laughs hysterically after confessing her adultery.   It all seems strange and disjointed, as if the two halves of the novel do not fit together properly.   But this is not the biggest issue with the telling.

“She does not understand the power of that man’s body over her…  He is like a poison in her, all the more potent because she doesn’t want an antidote.   She welcomes this disease of desire.”

The major problem with 13 rue Therese is that the sex scenes are described in terms more than a bit reminiscent of Lady Chatterley’s Lover – rude, crude and shocking.   The polite language of an earlier time gives way to terms that appear to be deliberately intended to shock the once comfortable reader.   Perhaps this was done deliberately as an attempt to demonstrate the lack of control that overtakes Louise, a woman ready to destroy her life for a man she’s attracted to even while she does not understand that attraction.

In summary, 13 rue Therese is like one of those schizophrenic films (the movie version of Steve Martin’s Shopgirl comes to mind) that is quite pleasurable for the first hour, but hard to watch for the second.   This is a novel with great potential that simply self-destructs, and concludes in a rather mundane fashion.   It’s a pity.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   This novel was released today.

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A Fine and Fun Book Giveaway

Thanks to Megan at HarperCollins, we have two (2) copies to give away of the forthcoming debut novel by Dana Precious, Born Under a Lucky Moon.   This book will be released by Morrow Paperback on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 ($14.95).   Here is a synopsis of the story and a brief profile of the author.

Born Under a Lucky Moon is the tale of two very important (but distant) years in the lives of Jeannie Thompson and her (embarrassing, crazy) colorful family members to whom “things” just happen.   From the Great Lakes of Michigan to Los Angeles and back again, it is a story of surprise marriages, a renegade granny, a sprinkler system cursed by the gods, and myriad other factors Jeannie blames for her full-tilt and out-of-control existence.   But it’s also about good surprises – like an unexpected proposal that might just open Jeannie’s eyes to her real place among the people she loves most in the world…  the same ones she ran far away from to begin with.

“Lucky the reader who picks up this funny, charming and touching debut novel.   I loved it.”   Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times bestselling author

Dana Precious lives in L.A. with her husband and son.   She has two dogs: a small border terrier named Thompson (as in Hunter – long story) and Bella, a very large bullmastiff whose activity of choice is sleeping on the couch and watching Oprah. Prior to writing, Diana worked for several major film studios.

So, you can probably tell that this is going to be a fun one to read!   How can you win a copy?   Simply by posting a comment with your name and e-mail address here, or doing the same by sending an e-mail to Josephsreviews@gmail.com .   This will count as a first entry in the contest.   For a second entry, please answer this question that Munchy the cat came up with, “What is the craziest thing about someone in your family (human or animal)?”

You have until Sunday, February 20, 2011 at Midnight PST to submit your entry or entries.   In order to be eligible to be a winner in this contest, you must live in the United States or Canada, and have a residential mailing address.   Books will not be shipped to P. O. boxes or to business-related addresses.

The winners will be picked by Munchy, and will be notified by e-mail.   They will have 72 hours to supply their mailing addresses when contacted.   This is it for the complex contest rules.   Good luck and good reading!

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