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Check out our Gift Center!MostlyFiction.com Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on
October 13, 2004.

Hello, MostlyFiction.com readers!

17 new reviews were posted to MostlyFiction.com yesterday. Click on the book cover to read the review; click on reviewer's name to learn more about the reviewer.

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WHAT WE'VE LOST by Graydon Carter
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

Editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, has written some excellent columns and letters for his magazine over the years, and for some time now has been expressing his concern with where the Bush administration has been leading America. In What We've Lost, Mr. Carter consolidates his grievances against the Bush administration - documenting the ways, he believes, the present government has weakened our democratic process.

(More books for the politically undecided here...)

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SNOWLEG by Nicholas Shakespeare
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

A young Englishman goes to Cold War Leipzig for a weekend with a group of student actors and, during his brief visit beyond the Iron Curtain, falls for an East German girl who is just beginning to be aware of the horrendous way her country is governed. Her misery touches him, her love excites him, but he is too frightened to help. He spends 19 years suppressing the strength of his feelings for the girl he knew only by her nickname "Snowleg" until one day, with Germany now united, he decides to go back and look for her.

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LIGHT ON SNOW by Anita Shreve
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

The events of a December afternoon, during which a father and daughter find an abandoned infant in the snow, will forever alter the 11-year-old girl's understanding of the world and the adults who inhabit it: a father who has taken great pains to remove himself from society in order to put an unthinkable tragedy behind him; a young woman who must live with the consequences of the terrible choices she has made; and a detective whose cleverness is exceeded only by his sense of justice. Written from the point of view of 30-year-old Nicky as she recalls the vivid images of that fateful December.

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THE IN-BETWEEN WORLD OF VIKRAM LALL by M.G. Vassanji
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Born in colonial Kenya, Vikram Lall comes of age at the same moment as the colony, which in 1953 is celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II even as the Mau Mau independence movement is challenging British rule. But while Kenya is being torn apart by idealism, doubt and violent political upheaval, Vic and his sister Deepa begin to search for their place in the world. Neither colonists nor African, neither white nor black, the Indian brother and sister find themselves somewhere in between in their band of playmates: Bill and Annie, British children, and Njoroge, an African boy. These are the friendships that will haunt the rest of their lives.

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HARBOR by Lorraine Adams
Reviewed by Sudheer Apte

A powerful novel that engages the tumultuous events of today: at once an intimate portrait of a group of young Arab Muslims living in the United States, and the story of one man’s journey into–and out of–violence, in which the author lets us identify very strongly with the Algerian immigrants.   And as Harbor races to its explosive conclusion, it compels us to question the questions it raises: Who are the terrorists? Can we recognize them? How do they live?

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TIJUANA STRAITS by Kem Nunn
Reviewed by Poornima Apte

When Fahey, once a great surfer, now a reclusive ex-con, meets Magdalena, she is running from a pack of wild dogs along the ragged wasteland where California and Mexico meet the Pacific Ocean -- a spot once known to the men who rode its giant waves as the Tijuana Straits. Magdalena has barely survived an attack that forced her to flee Tijuana, and Fahey takes her in. That he is willing to do so runs contrary to his every instinct, for Fahey is done with the world, seeking little more than solitude from this all-but-forgotten corner of the Golden State. Nor is Fahey a stranger to the lawless ways of the border. He worries that in sheltering this woman he may not only be inviting further entanglements but may be placing them both at risk. In this, he is not wrong.

__________
BITCH CREEK by William G. Tapply
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

A perfectly crafted mystery introducing Stoney Calhoun, an unlikely hero. Stoney is a man without a past. A lightning strike obliterated his memory, and, as so many might like to do, he was given a chance to completely reinvent himself. That's not an easy task when a man doesn't know the slightest thing about himself. But Stoney was driven by some current within and ended up as a fishing guide in Maine. He's reeducating himself, he's in love, and life is good-until his friend and fellow fishing guide is murdered and Stoney suspects that he himself was the target.

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IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS by Art Spiegleman
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

"This unusual hybrid book, 42 oversized pages printed on heavy card stock, is a combination of comic book illustrations and prose. It is an extremely personal memoir of the attacks on the World Trade Center, which Spiegelman and his family witnessed at close range. It is a raving rant about the after effects of the violence and its repercussions throughout the world at large, and the smaller interior world of the author's psyche. It is the intimate story of one family trying to cope. It is an editorial about the political exploitation of this terrible event." writes Jana in her review.

Jana recommended that I go to the bookstore and take a look at this book before I formatted her review; just so that I could see what she was saying. I was glad I took her advice. The book is very powerful and appropriate and personal. Shame on anyone who has usurped the events of the day for their own political advantage.

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HARK! by Ed McBain
Reviewed by Chuck Barksdale

At long last, Ed McBain brings back the “Deaf Man,” last seen in Mischief (1993), to antagonize Steve Carella and the rest of the 87th Precinct. A brilliant and intricate thriller about a master criminal who haunts the city with cryptic passages from Shakespeare, directing the detectives of the 87th Precinct to a future crime -- if only they can figure out what he means.

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TEN BIG ONES by Janet Evanovich
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

It begins as an innocent trip to the deli-mart, on a quest for nachos. But Stephanie Plum and her partner, Lula, are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery leads to an explosion, which leads to the destruction of yet another car. It would be just another day in the life of Stephanie Plum, except that she becomes the target of a gang---and of an even scarier, more dangerous force that comes to Trenton. With super bounty hunter Ranger acting more mysteriously than ever (and the tension with vice cop Joe Morelli getting hotter), she finds herself with a decision to make: how to protect herself and where to hide while on the hunt for a killer known as the Junkman.

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R IS FOR RICOCHET by Sue Grafton
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Reba Lafferty is a daughter of privilege. Abandoned by her rebellious mother when she was an infant, she was raised the only child of a rich man already in his mid-fifties when she was born, and her adoring father thoroughly spoiled her. Now, at thirty-two, having had many scrapes with the law, she is about to be released on probation, having served twenty-two months of a four-year sentence for embezzlement. Nord Lafferty wasn't there for her when she was brought up on this charge. Now he wants to be sure she stays straight, stays at home and away from the drugs, the booze, the gamblers. It seems a straightforward assignment for Kinsey Millhone: babysit Reba until she settles in. Maybe a week's work. Nothing untoward - the woman seems remorseful and friendly. And the money is good. But life is never that simple.

__________
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY by Peter Turchi and Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Hagen Baye

This remarkable book offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes of contemporary fiction and how it is made. Taking the reader backstage through original essays written especially for this volume, the writers reveal how their stories came into being: what inspired them, how they evolved, how "real life" and fiction intersect, and how the stories, in their final form, both fulfill and transcend their authors' original designs.

__________
THE CAJUNS by Gus Weill
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

A richly textured, deeply atmospheric, and engaging novel set in a small Louisiana town in the 1950s. The Cajuns tells a captivating tale of love, life, death, and intrigue in a wonderfully bizarre yet corrupt culture told by a man who knows the politics inside and out.

__________
HEAD ABOVE WATER by Stefano Bortolussi
Reviewed by Olivia Boler

Italian writer Cardo Maraino is a cauldron of contradictions. Plagued by guilt over the drowning of his younger brother, he is strangely terrified by life. When the Norwegian woman he loves becomes pregnant, he plunges into a comically disastrous liaison, fleeing from commitment and responsibility.

__________
THE LOVE WIFE by Gish Jen
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Here is Carnegie Wong, second-generation Chinese American warm heart and funny guy. Here is his WASP wife, the delicious "Blondie." Here are their two adopted Asian daughters, and their half-half bio son. And here is Mama Wong, Carnegie’s no-holds-barred mother, who, eternally opposed to his marriage, has arranged from her grave for a mainland Chinese relation to come look after the kids. Is this woman, as Carnegie claims, a nanny? Or is she, as Blondie fears, something else?

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A GIRL LIKE CHE GUEVERA by Teresa de La Caridad Doval
Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie

1982. Havana, Cuba. Sixteen-year-old Lourdes yearns to emulate Che Guevara, and has a healthy disgust for gusanos (worms)-those who fled Cuba on the Mariel boatlift. As she struggles with her confused sexuality, the pervasive race issues that are sundering her parents' marriage, and the harsh realities of life in a glorified work camp, Lourdes begins to question her allegiances. Why does she want to be like Che?

__________
BOYOS by Richard Marinick
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Richard Marinick grew up running with the Southie gangs during the Whitey Bulger era, and learned to write during a ten-year prison stretch. He writes what he knows, and his shattering, utterly authentic first novel, Boyos is the result.

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MOSTLYFICTION FORUM

If anyone has a good idea of what to use the MostlyFiction.com Forum for, please send me an e-mail to let me know your ideas, better yet, go to the forum and share the feedback in an entry.

One day I sat down and relearned how to put the forum together, put up all kinds of Forums and Topics together. Proud that I could do it, I got done with it and thought, now what? I realized that I haven't actually been to any forums so not sure why I thought I should create my own. If you are the type that likes to join Forums -- take a look and let me know what works, what doesn't work and what I can do better.

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NOTES FROM LAST NEWSLETTER

I was recently asked if I had indeed lost subscribers after deciding to post reviews of political books with an agenda. I'm happy to report that the attritition did not exceed the usual number of people who unsubcribe every newsletter, which is to say that I lost less than ten. So either people are not reading the newsletter (not exactly good news) or they are simply not offended, which is great news. I've compiled all of the political books we've reviewed on one page, just in case you are still undecided. Don't forget to watch the debates tonight!

Also, for Red Sox fans, here's some notes on books that may comfort.

 

Happy reading!

Judi Clark
MostlyFiction.com

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