Foodie Memoir – Save Me the Plums

Foodie Memoir - Save Me the PlumsI just finished reading Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl, one-time editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. She steered the magazine for about 10 years, up until they closed it about 10 years ago now, I think.This foodie memoir is fantastic, quick paced and easy to read. It takes you inside the monied, glitzy world of Condé Nast  (not sure if it’s still that way, more bean counters now, I assume) and upper-crust, white-tableclothed restaurants. While at Condé Nast, Reichl got limo service and a clothing allowance….

Reichl worked as a food writer and restaurant critic prior to being tapped for the position at Gourmet. We learn how Reichl came to grips with suddenly being in charge and about her interaction, and growing friendship, with her staff and those to whom she reported at Condé Nast. We discover how the recipes that made it into the magazine were rigorously tested and tweaked in the magazine’s test kitchen prior to publication. Also discussed is how the entire staff got “chopped” when the magazine was abruptly closed.

I don’t often read memoirs, but I’m glad I picked this one up. It’s a bright, energetic read.

I received a free advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion.

Short and Sweet-Short Literature Pro Market

Short and Sweet reference book for writersDo you write short fiction, nonfiction or articles? Want to get paid? If so, Short Literature Pro Market 2019 by TC Michael is your go-to reference for getting your short and sweet writing out into the world. With more than 170 listings, this reference book covers a lot of ground.

Short Literature Pro Market 2019 consolidates the information needed to approach markets that pay for articles and short stories. This reference work covers primarily English-speaking publishers located in United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and Europe. This indispensable tool surveys topics like open period, response time, length, genres accepted by each publisher and pay rate. No matter your chosen genre, Short Literature Pro Market 2019 benefits your bottom line. Per the author, “every publisher must pay their authors at least six cents a word or fifteen dollars a page.” Some categories covered: children’s, crime/thriller, mystery, historic/nonfiction, humor, and speculative. Write in more than one genre? Listings include publishers in each category that’s appropriate. So short and sweet works need not be unpublished works.

More Murder and Mayhem

More murder and mayhem are on tap. Some of us are always on the lookout for the next great mystery read. Whether you like Golden Age mysteries, cozies, or something more modern or hardboiled, here are a book and a few websites that can help you to get your fix.

MYSTERY AND MAYHEM IN PRINT

Whodunnit - More Murder and Mayhem DescribedWhodunit? A Who’s Who in Crime & Mystery Writing
Edited by Rosemary Herbert
© 2003

An enlightening and entertaining information compendium on hundreds of classic and contemporary characters who populate the mysteries we love to read and the authors who created them. Are academic sleuths like Amanda Cross’s Kate Fansler your thing? How about sharp-tongued narrators or sidekicks like Archie Goodwin in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series? What about Ian Rankin’s noir offerings? As Dennis Lehane says in the Preface, “Rosemary Herbert has gone to great pains to compile a compendium of not only the elder statesmen and stateswomen…of crime fiction history, but also the new blood…”

MURDER AND MAYHEM ON THE WEB

Check out MysteryPeople—the online presence of BookPeople’s mystery bookstore-within-a-bookstore. The bricks-and-mortar indie bookstore is in Austin, TX. Find author interviews and the staff’s picks for the top 100 crime and suspense novels. Plus, there’s also a newsletter you can sign up to receive.

Classic Mysteries offers “Podcasts and Conversations About Fine Detective Stories Worth Reading and Re-Reading.” A few of the offerings include children’s mysteries, cozies and film. Also on tap: food and drink, noir, out of print, police procedurals and much more,

Want something to do for the weekend? Mystery Suspense Reviews should keep you engaged for the whole weekend, if not longer. So, pick your obsession. Mystery/suspense, thrillers, romantic suspense, scifi/fantasy, adventure, Even nonfiction. These categories are here for the browsing. Also, there’s even a way to get involved in mysterious happenings with your kids—check out the Great Disneyland Scavenger Hunt in the site’s Odds and Ends department.

For previous round-ups see Mystery-review Website Roundup, CrimeReads – Mysteries, Thrillers and Crime and Felony and Mayhem – Murder Abounds.

 

Love Gone Savage – Gripping Love Poems

Love Gone Savage by Shana Marlayna ChowLove Gone Savage
By Shana Marlayna Chow
© 2013-2017
Published March 2017

The poems in Love Gone Savage by Shana Marlayna Chow grip you in a vice. From the instant you begin reading they pull you into a world of love, trust, distrust and brokenness on the one hand and optimism and perseverance on the other. These poems are not about cooing and infatuation, but about love somehow gone awry.

Her poetry stands on its own but is as clear and intense in vision as the love poems of Pablo Neruda, Ted Kooser (see especially his book, Valentines © 2008) and various poems of Rumi. Although Chow’s vision may sometimes seem harsh, it reverberates today when love may never feel like a sure thing—the search for a soulmate by a passionate, independent woman. But a sense of purpose and confidence shines through the poems that on the surface seem only to reflect a sense of emptiness and the pessimism of another broken affair.

I know one day I’ll move on, I know one day I’ll open up.
I know one day I’ll give a man my all, risking the unrelenting fear of a fall.
Until then I’ll find me, the person you never wanted me to be.
The person who scared you, the person who now scares me.
[from Done, page 68]

…And amongst everything
and letting wounds heal,
it’s okay to forgive,
but never go running back
to whatever broke you…
[page 70]

In the second half of the book, pessimism give way to confidence: You will never be everyone’s cup of tea…/Don’t waste your energy trying to/conform to what you thing this world wants./…Be you,/the good will follow.

My Opinion

This book is a keeper for me. It will sit among others on my shelf such as those by Billy Collins and the late Mary Oliver.

I was given a copy of Love Gone Savage by the author for an honest review. I do not know Ms. Chow personally or professionally.

Mystery-Review Website Roundup

Here we go with a mystery-review website roundup, These websites review mystery, crime, thriller, spy and suspense books. Some of them also incorporate author interviews and book lists.

The Real Book Spy

New Iberia Blues by James Lee BurkeAccording to Ryan Steck, owner of The Real Book Spy, the site presents “full coverage of all your favorite thriller authors, and their characters, unlike anywhere else on the web!”

A few of the book reviews currently offered on the site are Daughter of War by Brad Taylor, Crucible by James Rollins, New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke and The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk. Steck also offers author interviews with such luminaries as Brad Thor, Sean Parnell, and Brad Taylor, among others.

Stop You’re Killing Me

True Believer by Jack Carr

Stop You’re Killing Me is a resource for fans of mystery, crime, thriller, spy and suspense books. According to the website, more than 5,000 authors are listed with chronological lists of their books, both hardcover and paperback. Most of the novelists listed are established print authors. There’s even an index of series characters, which are listed by last name. A “read-alikes” section enables you to find a new-to-you author or category similar to what you already like. Also listed are the 2018 winners of numerous mystery and thriller awards.

Reviewing the Evidence

Another site for mystery, crime and thriller reviews, Reviewing the Evidence boasts of having more than 11,000 reviews. Commentators from the US, UK, Canada and Australia review books published by conventional publishers. Self-published books are not included.

Cozy Mystery

Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall PageFor those readers who enjoy reading cozy mysteries, the Cozy Mystery is for you. This site pegs itself as “a guide to cozy mystery books, movies and TV.” Offerings include interviews, soon-to-be released books, a blog, and a list of authors who write cozy mysteries.

Later in the year,  look for another mystery-review website roundup. If anyone has a favorite mystery review site, leave a comment with the site name and URL.

Mark of the Spider – Supernatural Thriller

The Mark of the Spider
by David L. Haase
© 2018

Mark of the Spider by David L. HaaseThe Mark of the Spider is an installment in David L. Haase’s Black Orchid Chronicles, a supernatural-thriller series. On a working trip to the Southeast Asian island of Borneo, photographer Sebastian Arnett searches for rare orchids to photograph. At the invitation of an Australian attaché on a mission to locate mineral deposits, Arnett joins his group’s forays into the interior. When an old, indigenous woman offers him a shot at the ever-elusive black orchid, Arnett and his mates take her up on it. But they get, and lose, more than they bargained for.

Arnett gets shot with a dart when he and his three cohorts stop at the old woman’s village. He wakes up with pain in his face and finds he has been tattooed and now apparently possesses an evil spirit and an unusual power. Arnett also finds his friends’ heads hanging from a pole. What follows—Arnett attempts to lose himself and the spirit, while the government wants him as a secret weapon. Various efforts to help come from Mike Owens, a Marine ordered by the military to keep tabs on Arnett. A Native American medicine man, Amanda Cox Campion (Arnett’s new love interest) and Tom (or T, to his friends), a son of Campion’s ex-husband, are also in the mix.

The Good and Not-so-Good

Overall, The Mark of the Spider marks a good beginning to this supernatural series. However, the pacing slowed at times, such as when Arnett found himself alone with the old woman after his friends had been killed. Part of that might have worked better as a flashback later, when Arnett attempted to get the tattoo altered. Occasionally, too much time was spent expostulating about Arnett’s attempts to stay off the grid such as when he broke into a house. Another instance of over-expostulation involves Arnett and T building a bunker in the last in a series of bolt-holes.

On the other hand, I would have liked Arnett to do a little sleuthing into southeast Asian spirit beliefs. That might have been woven into Arnett’s attempts to come to terms with what has happened to him.

On the whole, a fairly engaging read. I look forward to reading the second installment and learning the ongoing fate of Arnett, Campion and T.

CrimeReads – Mysteries, Thrillers and Crime

For those who love mysteries, thrillers and true crime, CrimeReads will satisfy your cravings. An offshoot of Literary Hub, CrimeReads presents news, essays and excerpts. This website offers discussions about mystery, noir/hardboiled, suspense, espionage/thriller and legal/procedural genres. For example, currently available is the 11/28/18 posting, “Writing Crime Fiction for the Podcast Generation: Chatting with Two Authors Who Are Bringing Mystery to the World of Scripted Podcasts.” Another is the 1/17/19 post by Lisa Levy, “Mothers and Daughters and Psychological Thrillers: The Rise of Mother-Daughter Noir.”

CrimeReads interviews Matthew Quirk about The Night Agent

For suspense and thriller readers, check out The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk, published this month by William Morrow. Also, check out the interview with Matthew Quirk on CrimeReads.

Like unusual protagonists? Look for Erica Wright’s 11/23/18 post: “Unexpected Investigators: 9 Mysteries That Challenge Our Expectations for Crime Fighters.”

The website partners with numerous publishers from Akashic to W. W. Norton & Co. and everything in between. Other partners include venerable groups such as the Baker Street Irregulars as well as up-and-coming Down & Out Books (and magazine). According to the website, “Each day, alongside original content and exclusive excerpts, CrimeReads is proud to showcase an editorial feature from one of its many partners from across the literary crime community, from publishers big and small, bookstores, non-profits, librarians, and more.”

So, check out CrimeReads. See what’s happening in your favorite genre and what new books are forthcoming. Plus, find out what books are nominated for the 2019 Edgar Awards. Or, listen to a horror or true crime podcast.

For other book-related websites and apps, take a look at my previous posts about Felony & Mayhem and Litsy.

Felony and Mayhem: Murder Abounds

Felony & Mayhem
felonyandmayhem.com

Sorry for the lapse in posts over the last few weeks. The holidays got in the way; a pleasant time, but busy. Anyway, during the holiday season, I found two websites for those who like to read mysteries, one of which I’ll discuss here.

Felony and Mayhem Abound

Patricia Moyes mystery offered by Felony and MayhemThe folks at felonyandmayhem.com bring out-of-print mysteries back to life by reprinting them. For lovers of Patricia Moyes, Ngaio Marsh and S. S. Van Dine’s Philo Vance series, this site is a must-see. Additionally, “The Felonious Backlist” boggles the mind with the likes of Robert Barnard, Simon Brett, Elizabeth Daly, Reginald Hill and dozens of others.

According to the website, they “also publish an increasing number of first paperback editions of books previously published in hardcover, and (particularly) first U.S. editions of books that initially came out overseas.” In recent years, they also “brought out [their] first original: Annamaria Alfieri’s The Idol of Mombasa, a historical mystery set in 1910s British East Africa, which will be followed by another title in that series in January 2018.”

Mystery readers and writers: Check this website out. You won’t be sorry.

As the mystery lovers at Felony & Mayhem say, “Life is too short to read bad books.” I couldn’t agree more.

Next time, I’ll talk about my other find: CrimeReads.

Shanks – Unlikely Detective

Shanks on Crime
by Robert Lopresti
© 2003-2014

Shanks - Unlikely DetectiveShanks on Crime by Robert Lopresti is a collection of short stories about Leopold Longshanks and his wife Cora. Longshanks is a mystery writer and an unlikely detective. who, with his wife, Cora, in the background gets into some unusual situations. Shanks, Longshanks’ nickname, then unravels the crime or misdemeanor, all the while protesting that he’s a writer, not a detective. The stories are interesting enough, such as when Shanks sets out to catch the person who mugged him and pays for the miscreant to go to vocational college rather than be convicted and sent to jail. But all the stories follow the same general pattern and pacing, which makes the collection seem rather dull. Overall, a nice set of stories, just not fast-paced.

Several of these stories first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine between 2003 and 2014.

Rob Lopresti also writes novels and blogs at sleuthsayers.com and Little Big Crimes.

Book Swaps Update and Book-lover Gifts

Book swaps update, My BookSwaps ClubUpdate Alert! I posted about My Bookswap Club and other book swaps recently (here). At the last minute, I purchased My Bookswap Club’s 2018 Christmas box and was pleasantly surprised when I opened it. Along with a book and bookmark, I received a scented candle, bath soap, fuzzy socks, a book nerd pin, and Godiva candy. Quite a haul!

Need a gift? Keep this in mind for next Christmas or any other year-end holiday celebration. These boxes make a great gift for a book-loving wife, girlfriend, mother or daughter. I jumped at the chance to buy myself a present at the last minute this year and was glad I did.

In addition to their website, My Bookswap Club is on Instagram.