Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance, edited by Lee Child

If you're getting ready to escape the heat,
here's a cool book full of intriguing short stories.

Edited by Lee Child, "Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance"
(Mulholland/Little,Brown, $25.99) is jam-packed with dark and violent
stories by 21 different authors.

The lineup includes a variety of well-known contributors who write
frequent bestsellers as well as newcomers on the edge of discovery.

In the brief introduction, award-winning Child (creator of the "Jack
Reacher" series) discusses how these particular stories were chosen.

The basic instructions were: "Write about vengeance, revenge, getting
even, maybe even doing a bad thing for a good reason. Or a bad

Pretty simple.  Although you had to be a member of the Mystery Writers
of America to participate, there was considerable leeway.  Child and
the selection committee faced challenges -- they could only accept a
limited number of additional short stories for the anthology.

There aren't any light and fluffy tales or whodunits; instead there
are many encounters with nasty characters. While most of the action is
set in the United States, foreign locales are deftly used.

The variety of authors is excellent -- a brief biographical section
offers insights into other talented efforts of the individual writers.

Michael Connelly offers "A Fine Mist of Blood", a Harry Bosch short
story, dealing with an unsolved case and a possible witness.  Of
course there's the unexpected ending, but Connelly is in fine form as
Bosch discovers deadly secrets.

"The Final Ballot" by Brendan DuBois focuses on Beth, a woman whose
daughter has been badly beaten by the son of a presidential candidate.
 She's out for vengeance and gets it in an unusual way, although a
slick troubleshooter tries to smooth things over.

"The Unremarkable Heart" by Karin Slaughter is a depressing tale about
a dying woman and dark revelations about why her daughter died.
Child's excellent short story deals with a killer in Hollywood and
intriguing slow revenge by a victim's son.

"Hot Sugar Blues" by Steve Liskow delves into the success of a blues
singer while examining past discretions.  Business ethics are the
focus of two stories, while three have religious aspects.

It's easy to make this collection of short stories last about three
weeks -- just limit yourself to one a day!

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed
crime novels  and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, June 24, 2012.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Eli Broad's New Book Captures 'Art' of Success

Michigan State University doesn't have many alumni who are multi-billionaires.  But Eli Broad, who graduated cum laude in 1954 with a major in accounting and a minor in economics, is certainly among the most successful.

       "The Art of Being Unreasonable" by Eli Broad (Wiley, $24.95) is subtitled "Lessons in Unconventional Thinking."

       No, it's not going to make you a billionaire overnight, but it does offer many insights into sound financial principles for hard-working entrepreneurs.

       Broad (rhymes with road) has done a lot of things differently, from changing the pronunciation of his name to transforming the artistic and cultural world of Los Angeles.

       He's had the unusual experience of building two Fortune 500 companies, becoming exceptionally wealthy and co-ordinating major philanthropic efforts.

       After he graduated from MSU, Broad worked a bit as a certified public accountant and taught briefly.  In 1957, he co-founded Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation, which became an international leader in housing development.

       Decades later he directed the growth of SunAmerica, which became a major force in the insurance and retirement savings business.

       Broad's easy-to-read book doesn't simply dwell on his accomplishments - it also offers valuable advice on how to achieve goals through being unreasonable.

       He doesn't say that it will be easy, or that everyone will succeed, but he does offer specific ideas which may generate success.

       Broad delves into his methods of asking unreasonable questions, attempting the unexpected, revising expectations and the importance of doing research.

       He emphasizes the care that must be involved in the process and notes the challenges of staying unemotional and disciplined.  He explores the importance of philanthropy, combining efforts to make a real difference.

       The billions he's made in business are now being carefully distributed, helping to reform public education in America and providing funding for the latest advances in biomedical research.
       He's built two world-class art collections, but wants the artwork to be seen, not stored - so he's made accessibility a prime factor.

       Locally, he's endowed the Eli Broad College of Business and the Eli Broad Graduate School of Management at MSU.  In the fall, the innovative $45 million Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, is scheduled to open on campus at MSU.

       Broad's new book, with an introduction by Michael Bloomberg, is enjoyable, down-to-earth, thought provoking and exceptionally entertaining.

       Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on Sunday, June 17, 2012.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Curiousities Newsletter for June 2012

Greetings, Curious Friends!

This month, take 30% OFF items from the following sections:

Zoology / Nature
Political Science / Current Events
Film and Television Criticism
Action and Adventure

These sections are 30% off throughout the month of June,
but stop in early to find some outstanding deals before it's too late!

New Acquisitions:
We've added dozens of French novels and histories to the foreign
language section; many cook books; hardcover works
by John Steinbeck, Jane Austen, and Mark Twain;
fascinating tracts on art history and theory; psychology;
plenty of recent, bestselling fantasy and science fiction;
science and history texts; and beautifully illustrated books for children.

New acquisitions include nearly every book written by May Sarton,
Harry Turtledove, Elizabeth Bowen and Erle Stanley Gardner.

Our $1 and 50¢ carts in front of Curious are only a small taste
of the bargains to be found inside! The downstairs Dollar Section
has experienced an influx of great books at fantastic prices.

Shop Gossip:
Did Curious look a little different to you on your last visit?
We have moved and reorganized multiple sections in the last few months,
including Michigan History, Science, Poetry, Cookbooks and the Childrens' Section.
We're still the same ol' bookshop, though. Stop in and see what else is new!

Classicon 41: A Collectable Paperback, Pulp, Comic & Glamour Art Show
will be held at the University Quality Inn on Saturday, June 9th!

At Classicon you'll find thousands of collectable pulp magazines,
digests, comics and paperbacks available for sale or trade.
This show is a pop-culture enthusiast's dream, featuring
thousands of pulps and comics from the 20th century,
original paperback artwork from the 1950's and 1960's,
as well as pin-up art by Petty, Vargas and other artists.

When: 10 am - 4 pm
Where: University Quality Inn (3121 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing, MI)
Just off US 127 at exit 78, near the Frandor Shopping Plaza.
Admission: $3.00
For More Information: Curious Book Shop (517) 332 - 0112

There is a limited amount of vendor space left!
Interested in exhibiting? Please contact Ray at the Curious Book Shop.

Community News and Events:
Be a Tourist in Your Hometown
Come out and enjoy beautiful East Lansing for one of
our favorite community events this Saturday, June 2nd.
This family-friendly celebration takes place across Greater Lansing.
Pick up a "passport" and receive FREE admission to
many local attractions, as well as discounts
and special offers from local businesses!
Find out more from the event webpage.

Construction continues on Albert Avenue in East Lansing!
Infrastructure improvements are under way, and Phase Two
of this project beings on Friday, June 1st.

Fear not, for Downtown East Lansing is still shopper-friendly,
with numerous easy-access parking lots and ramps!
And remember, with a purchase we validate
your parking for any City of East Lansing lot.

Literary Birthdays:
June 1: Christopher Marlowe
June 2: Thomas Hardy, Carol Shields
June 3: Allen Ginsberg, Larry McMurty
June 5: Richard Scarry, Margaret Drabble, Ken Follett
June 6: Aleksandr Pushkin, Thomas Mann
June 7: Elizabeth Bowen, Gwendolyn Brooks
June 9: Patricia Cornwell
June 10: Maurice Sendak, Saul Bellow, Immanuel Velikovsky
June 11: Ben Jonson, William Styron
June 12: Johanna Spyri, Anne Frank
June 13: William Butler Yeats, Dorothy Sayers, Fanny Burney
June 14: Harriet Beecher Stowe
June 15: Brian Jacques
June 16: Joyce Carol Oates
June 19: Blaise Pascal, Salman Rushdie
June 20: Lillian Hellman
June 21: Jean-Paul Sartre, Ian McEwan
June 22: Anne Morrow Lindbergh, H.R. Haggard, Octavia Butler
June 24: Ambrose Bierce
June 25: George Orwell
June 26: Pearl S. Buck, Walter Farley
June 27: Alice McDermott, Helen Keller
June 28: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mark Helprin
June 29: Antoine de Saint-Euxpery
June 30: John Gay

It has been a privilege to serve the East Lansing, Lansing, MSU and LCC communities for nearly 43 years!

If you have fond memories of time spent at Curious, we want to hear them - and maybe include them in an upcomming book! Send us your memories at

Many, many thanks for your continued support of this small, independent local business in beautiful East Lansing.

We hope to see you soon!
Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang

If you would like be added to the monthly newsletter listing, please email us at


Book Review: James Sallis's Driven

Crime novelist James Sallis is back with a tight, taut sequel to his adrenaline-charged novel, "Drive", a 2011 cult movie favorite.

"Driven" (Poisoned Pen Press, Hardback $19.95, Paperback $11.95) again showcases his tough anti-hero known simply as Driver.

He's no longer an expert stunt driver or getaway driver; instead he's got a good business going in Arizona. He fixes up classic cars and rents them to Hollywood studios. He's now using a new name, Paul West, trying to forget his criminal past.

It all goes sour on the first page, when two assailants attack Driver and his fiancee on a Saturday morning. Driver kills them both, but his fiancee dies as well.

When others start to follow him, Driver realizes there's good reason for his paranoia. He goes underground with the help of his buddy Felix, a hard-boiled Desert Storm veteran.

The body count rises as more thugs pursue Driver; soon the tables are turned: he becomes the aggressor trying to find out who's after him - and why.

Driver is certainly not your average good guy/hero; his controlled violence is barely harnessed as he moves quickly and with deadly force.

Sallis smoothly uses flashbacks to reveal character strengths and flaws, offering brief insights into their past and present situations.

Don't be fooled by the short length of this dark sequel - it packs a powerful punch. In only 147 pages, the author's sharply chiseled prose works exceptionally well. Other authors are guilty of telling lesser stories in a considerably longer format, but with Sallis, you're in very good hands.

He's the author of the dark, highly acclaimed Lew Griffin series, but has also written poetry, essays and collections of short stories. Sallis has published three books on musicology as well as the definitive biography of Chester Himes.

While it's best to first read "Drive" (Mariner, $12.95), to get a better understanding of the characters and their motivations, it's not essential.

Moviegoers, who may have caught the award-winning film version of the first book, starring Ryan Gosling, are likely to grab this to see if Stallis still has his masterful noir touch. He does - "Driven" is a delicious treat for those seeking dark, superb escapism.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop.
has reviewed Crime novels and dark thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the
Lansing State Journal on June 10, 2012.