Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Periscope On Facebook

Sorry, no new book review posting today.  But we did want to let you know about our new page on Facebook.  This page will have the blog postings, new product information, deal offers, news stories and much more.  If you are on Facebook, please be sure to check us out!! 

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Reporting on the threat posed when reliable reporting fades away...

'Losing the News' By  Alex S. Jones
Reviewed By Erica Noonan
It has been an annus horribilis for newspapers.
Dailies in Seattle, Denver, and Tucson went dark in 2009, as did several dozen small-town weeklies. The Boston Globe was threatened with closure, as was the San Francisco Chronicle. And we still have more than three months to go.

The timing could not be more appropriate for veteran newsman Alex S. Jones’s latest book, “Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy.’’
This is not a hopeful book. It’s more of an obituary for the industry that gave Jones an enviable career, first at his family’s own small paper in Greeneville, Tenn., then as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at The New York Times, and a plum perch at the nexus of journalism and academia as director of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

“Losing the News’’ is one of the clearest assessments to date of the sweeping technological and financial changes that overturned the modern tradition of objective newsgathering and dissemination.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

'Evidence of Murder' By Lisa Black

Reviewed By Oline H. Cogdill
Miami Herald

In her second novel about Cleveland forensic investigator Theresa MacLean, Black constructs an involving plot that seems to have no clues. No matter how Theresa approaches her latest case, she cannot find any evidence that would reveal how a young woman died in the woods. Nothing suspicious was found near Jillian Perry's body, and forensics tests yield nothing.

A former escort with an adored 5-month-old baby, Jillian apparently had finally found happiness with Evan, her husband of three weeks. Evan and his business partner had just developed an innovative video game that was likely to bring them wealth -- and a bit of fame.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'Little Bird of Heaven' By Joyce Carol Oates

 'Little Bird of Heaven' By Joyce Carol Oates
Reviewed By Malena Watrous
NY Times

Often called the “Dark Lady of American Letters,” Joyce Carol Oates is a controversial figure, simultaneously praised for her prolific versatility and taken to task for a fascination with violence that can seem prurient. In her fiction, violence is often at the root of passion, and passion almost inevitably leads to violence, a tautology and trap that we see again in “Little Bird of Heaven,” Oates’s 57th novel since 1964.

Set in Sparta, a fictional town in upstate New York, the novel explores the unsolved murder of Zoe Kruller, a bluegrass singer with a reputation for sleeping around. After she was strangled in bed, the police repeatedly detained and interrogated her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her married lover, Eddy Diehl. The two men were named “prime suspects” in the local paper, but neither was brought to trial. Still, the accusations marked them. The town remains split on which one must have done it. Her cuckolded husband has a clear motive (and he’s targeted for being part Seneca Indian). But their son, Aaron, insists that he was with his father during the murder. Her lover, Eddy, was not home that night, a fact that his scorned wife discloses to the cops after they search her home. She also issues a restraining order against him, forbidding contact with his children. The novel is split too, between Eddy’s daughter, Krista, and Delray and Zoe’s son, Aaron, as both try to make sense of what happened in the years surrounding the murder, and to establish their fathers’ innocence.

“That yearning in my heart!” Krista begins. Although she’s a grown woman, she still pines for her father with the rawness of an abandoned child. She was not even a teenager when Zoe died, and she lost her “Daddy,” as she continuously refers to him. Krista’s narrative, dominating the first half of the book, is riddled with exclamation points, italics and single-sentence paragraphs. The intensity grows wearisome at times, her passion verging on hysteria. But as she becomes an increasingly unreliable character witness, the story grows richer and more layered.

NY Times 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

'True Compass' by Edward M. Kennedy

Review By Tim Rutten
Chicago Tribune

"The graveyards of the world," Charles De Gaulle once said, "are filled with indispensable men."

The eloquent shrug of Gallic irony aside, the living do walk away, even from the graves of the great and good, and history -- which is life in the aggregate -- simply goes on. Yet it does no justice to the living or the dead to pretend that some losses do not diminish us in ways that impoverish our collective experience and strip away a bit of life's savor.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's recent death was such a loss, and "True Compass," his touchingly candid, big-hearted and altogether superb memoir, demonstrates precisely why. Completed in the shadow of the senator's own mortality, this is a book whose clarity of recollection and expression entitles it to share in the lineage established by America's first great memoir of public life -- "The Autobiography of U.S. Grant," which he wrote while himself dying of cancer.

There are, of course, fundamental differences: The former president and Union commander was a 19th century man setting down a public life; Kennedy is very much a man of our time, open to exploring the interplay of his inner and outer lives. Grant wrote his autobiography; although Kennedy was a devoted diarist whose natural gifts as a storyteller and as a sharp, painterly observer shine through every page, he was ably assisted not only by the writer -- and Twain biographer -- Ron Powers, but also by his wife, Vicki Reggie, and a variety of scholars, particularly those associated with the University of Virginia's oral history project.

All the Kennedy brothers were known for their superb staffs -- Teddy, most of all.

In the weeks leading up to Monday's publication of "True Compass," much of the obvious "news" in this book was leaked to the press, particularly his bitter regrets over his "inexcusable" behavior during the Chappaquiddick tragedy, the night of heavy drinking that resulted in rape allegations against one of his nephews, and the failure of his first marriage. What's far more remarkable about this memoir is its capacious and generous spirit.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown

Reviewed By Janet Maslin
NY Times

One of the theories espoused by Dan Brown’s new book is that when many people share the same thought, that thought can have physical effects. Let’s test it on Tuesday. Watch what happens to bloggers, booksellers, nitpickers, code crackers, conspiracy theorists, fans and overheated search engines when “The Lost Symbol,” Mr. Brown’s overdue follow-up to “Angels & Demons” (2000) and “The Da Vinci Code” (2003), finally sees the light of day.

As a man whose ideas have had their share of physical effects, Mr. Brown is well aware of how widely read and closely scrutinized “The Lost Symbol” will be. He even lets a character joke about this book’s guaranteed popularity. Dr. Katherine Solomon specializes in noetic science, with its focus on mind-body connections. She admits that her field is not widely known. But when her story comes out, she suggests, noetics could get the kind of public relations bump that Mr. Brown gave to the Holy Grail.

Dr. Solomon accompanies Robert Langdon, the rare symbologist who warrants the word dashing as both adjective and verb, through much of this novel, his third rip-snorting adventure. As Browniacs have long predicted, the chase involves the secrets of Freemasonry and is set in Washington, where some of those secrets are built into the architecture and are thus hidden in plain sight. Browniacs also guessed right in supposing that “The Lost Symbol” at one point was called “The Solomon Key.” That’s a much better title than the generic one it got.

So much for safe predictions. What no one could guess, despite all advance hints about setting and subject matter, was whether Mr. Brown could recapture his love of the game. Could he still tell a breathless treasure-hunt story? Could he lard it with weirdly illuminating minutiae? Could he turn some form of profound wisdom into a pretext for escapist fun? By now his own formula has been damaged by so much copycatting that it’s all but impossible for anyone to get it right.

Too many popular authors (Thomas Harris) have followed huge hits (“The Silence of the Lambs”) with terrible embarrassments (“Hannibal”). Mr. Brown hasn’t done that. Instead, he’s bringing sexy back to a genre that had been left for dead.

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