Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Hit Me by Lawrence Block & There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron

If you're looking for some fast, easy mystery reading, here's a quick look at a pair of recent releases that are quite entertaining.

One book showcases a deadly serious killer while the other focuses on a frustrated woman who's trying to solve a puzzling mystery.

"Hit Me" by best-selling, award-winning author Lawrence Block, (Mulholland/Little Brown, $26.99)
is the latest collection of short stories featuring a professional hit man known simply as Keller.

But the contract killer has retired, changed his name, gotten married and is now raising a daughter in New Orleans. He's still a dedicated philatelist, working on specific aspects of his stamp collection.

He has a different job now, but times are tough down south; it's difficult to change his old ways. He accepts a new contract and goes to Dallas to commit the crime, which has deadly, unexpected complications. He faces similar situations with assignments back in New York City, on a West Indies cruise ship and other locations.

If you find it tough to sympathize with the plight of a frustrated, clever contract killer, you may want to turn elsewhere. Or, you may be amazed at Keller's ingenuity.

Block, the popular author of the "Burglar" series and many novels starring Matthew Scudder, is still one of the best crime writers in the business.

"There Was an Old Woman" by Hallie Ephron (William Morrow, $25.99) scheduled for Tuesday release, moves in a different direction, with intensive, sustaining suspense.

It focuses on Evie Ferrante, who gets a call from her sister: their alcoholic mother has been wheeled out of their long-time Bronx bungalow and hospitalized.

It's Evie's turn to share responsibilities; she goes to her mother's home and is dismayed at its state. She's also trying to figure out who supplied her mother with expensive liquor and a new flat-screen TV.

Her mother's neighbor, elderly Mina Yetner, has a few answers but apparently is also having memory problems.

Other neighbors and relatives provide intriguing insights; Evie makes disconcerting discoveries as the tension mounts.

Ephron ratchets up the suspense by using short chapters and strong characterization, deftly capturing the instability and plight of the elderly.

It's a dark, captivating and deliciously creepy tale that's liable to keep you reading all night long.

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

Find books by great local authors (and more!)
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was published by the Lansing State Journal on March 31, 2013.


Friday, March 29, 2013

DON'T MISS THIS: The 57th Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show - Sunday, April 7th in Lansing


Spend the day with like-minded book-lovers,
as they browse thousands upon thousands of 
collectible books, photographs, art prints, posters,
postcards, maps, ephemera and so much more
at the MIDWEST'S LARGEST antiquarian book and paper show.

Join us and experience Lansing's premier literary event! 
Bibliophiles, collectors and dealers come from near and far 
to enjoy this one-of-a-kind show. 

Centuries-old illuminated manuscripts and Gutenberg bible pages
will be displayed alongside rare sports and Hollywood memorabilia.
20th Century propaganda posters and frame-worthy magazine covers
deserve your perusal. New and classic children's literature favorites
are sure to please, and perhaps you'll finally discover that 
rare first edition or signed copy of your favorite novel.

The Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show has become a regular
event for book and paper enthusiasts from across the country.

You don't have to be a collector to enjoy yourself.  
But be careful - you might catch the bug as you mingle with 
novice collectors and trained specialists browsing the 
seemingly endless selection of items for sale.

The show has over 180 tables of vintage books, magazines, postcards,
photographs, maps and paper items of all kinds. Dealers from across the
United States and Canada offer something for everyone, including first
editions, signed books, children's and illustrated books, military history,
regional histories, mysteries, cookbooks, & sports collectibles and so much

Bring the whole family! The show is easily navigable, 
with wide aisles that allow easy access for wheelchairs and strollers.
Enjoy soothing acoustic music by local musicians,
and have a bite to eat from the on-site concessions.

Please join us on Sunday, April 7th at the Lansing Center

Show Hours: 9:30 AM - 5 PM (Sorry, no early admittance!)

Admission: $4.50 (Children 13 and under are FREE!)

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Show Program,
to be published in the March 27th edition of the Lansing City Pulse.
A digital version will be included in our April email newsletter.

For further information contact:
Ray Walsh (Curious Book Shop) (517) 332-0112
Ruth A. Tepin (MMABDA) (517) 332-0123

We'll see you at the show! 

PS - Curious will be CLOSED on Easter Sunday.

If you'd like to receive the Curious Book Shop newsletter in your inbox, please email us!

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI  48823
(517) 332-0112


Monday, March 18, 2013

A Dose of Nostalgia: Vintage Fashion and Hollywood

At Curious, we're constantly dealing with vintage pop culture 
items  -- so often that we sometimes forget how neat they are! 
In today's fast-paced consumer society, it's important to remember 
how our favored forms of entertainment have evolved, 
and how our tastes have changed.

Let's take a closer look at some of 
Curious's newly-acquired mid-century magazines...

New this week is a batch of American Girl magazines (dozens of them!) 
in very good condition, dating from the 1950s and 1960s. 
Their classic advertisements, no-nonsense advice for girls and 
charming fashion spreads make them a treat to read!

American Girl issues from the 1950s ($9.95 each)
Vintage ads and fashions from American Girl
Hollywood hunks and heart-throbs like the Beatles and the Monkees 
are still in the news, but when was the last time you heard 
someone lusting after Liz, Annette or Hayley Mills? 

Check out these groovy movie and gossip 
magazines from the 1950s and 1960s:

So, what do you do with old magazines?
All sorts of things!

A vintage magazine on your coffee table 
is an inexpensive, quirky conversation piece.

Eye-catching covers and advertisements are often framed.

Feeling crafty? With a little glue and attention to detail, 
they can be turned into fabulous works of art!

Scholars of history and sociology refer to 
magazines as primary sources, delving into the 
mindset of the magazine's intended reader.

The right magazine makes for a unique, treasured gift!
Let us help you find a magazine with a classic cover, 
published on your friend or loved one's birthday.

Visit the Curious Book Shop and browse our collection
of OVER 10,000 magazines, 
fashion catalogs and newspapers.

In addition to popular culture items, we also have a
wide selection of Time, Life, Saturday Evening Post, 
Colliers, Vogue, Women's Day (and other ladies magazines),
Look, Mother Earth News, Field & Stream,
TV Guide, Playboy, Sports Illustrated... and so much more!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Bleeder by Shelby Smoak, Guilt by Jonathan Kellerman and No Place to be Sick by Timothy Sheard

If you're into medical books, here's a quick look at some interesting titles - fact and fiction.

"Bleeder" by Shelby Smoak (Michigan State University Press, $22.95) is an unusual coming-of-age memoir. It examines the many challenges the author faced as a hemophiliac who discovers he tests positive for HIV.

He got the dreaded disease through a blood transfusion in the 1980's; it complicates and changes his life forever.

But this isn't a book full of self-pity; instead it focuses on his desire for survival, the necessity of medical treatment and problems with personal relationships.

It's a carefully crafted, emotional, compelling autobiography by a talented author and poet who's contributed to a variety of magazines and journals.

"No Place to be Sick" by Timothy Sheard (Hardball Press, $15) is the latest in his popular series featuring crime-solving Lenny Moss, a Philadelphia hospital custodian.

Nurses there are alarmed at an increase in the number of patients dying from unexpected cardiac arrests. They suspect a clever serial killer is on the loose. When they relate their suspicions to management, they are rebuffed and threatened with firing.

Moss, a dedicated shop steward, investigates, but he's recovering from a brutal attack and doesn't have his usual enthusiasm. There are other problems too - a conglomerate wants to buy the hospital, privatize it and disband the union.
Sheard has deftly created a highly entertaining tale with a strong cast of characters, a nasty, psychopathic killer and a gritty, surprising ending.

"Guilt" by award-winning author Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books, $28) is the 28th novel in his best-selling series starring Alex Delaware, an experienced psychologist who consults with LA homicide detective Milo Sturgis.

This time they're working on three cases, including the discovery of an infant's skeleton in a box buried 60 years earlier. Other, more recent, children's bones are found in a park near the body of a murdered woman.

While Sturgis and Delaware attempt to solve the crimes, they face a variety of obstructions. Vital information regarding a long-closed hospital is unavailable. Later, the psychologist uses unorthodox methods which provide unexpected results.

Although this is a solid police procedural, it isn't Kellerman's best; it felt like it was padded a bit, bloated to reach a specific page count.

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

Find books by great local authors (and more!)
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was published by the Lansing State Journal on March 17, 2013.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton & Black Irish by Stephen Talty

Strong-willed, determined women abound in a pair of highly entertaining recent releases.

One is a collection of short stories, while the other is a debut crime novel by a best-selling non-fiction author.

"Kinsey and Me" by Sue Grafton (Putnam, $27.95) is an unusual book by the creator of the popular mystery series starring California private investigator Kinsey Millhone.

Grafton began the series in 1982, with "A is for Alibi" and over the last 30 years has worked her way down the alphabet. Her latest release was "V is for Vengeance." 

Millhone is a likable, quick-thinking private eye who's gotten involved in a wide variety of tough cases over the years, ranging from insurance fraud to murder. 

The first part of this book is a collection of excellent short stories that originally appeared in assorted magazines and anthologies, mostly from 1986 to 1991. 

A brief introduction explains Milllhone's creation, why Grafton decided to set her series in the 1980's and Millhone's unsual aging process.

Grafton's latest book will be highly appreciated by the legion of fans waiting for Millhone's next appearance. 

After an informative midpoint essay, Grafton provides a revealing selection of fictional personal insights, based on her family relationships, in 17 shorter, much darker, mostly depressing short stories. 

The author notes "I wish life could be edited as deftly as prose"; the second half is ideal for those wanting to view another side of Grafton's talented writing capabilities. 

"Black Irish" by acclaimed historian Stephan Talty (Ballantine, $26) is a dark and carefully crafted debut crime novel that introduces Abbie Kearney, a Buffalo NY police detective. 

Kearney's investigating the savage murder of Jimmy Ryan, whose mutilated corpse was discovered in the basement of a long-closed church. 

The adopted daughter of a now-retired, highly respected cop, Kearney's been on the Buffalo police force for a year, after having problems as a cop in Miami.

Other related murders occur; Kearney's diligent efforts disclose unnerving information and dark secrets about the area's closely-knit Irish-American community. 

Talty does a fine job in creating strong, conflicted characters interacting in the bleak, decaying city of Buffalo. 

This compelling, brooding tale is the first in a series; Talty's hard at work on a sequel, with Kearney delving into a new, complicated case.

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

Find books by great local authors (and more!)
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on March 10, 2013.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Rick Murcer and Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman and Rick Murcer will be discussing 
"Writing and Publishing a Book Today: A Conversation 
Between a Self-Published and Traditionally Published Author" 
on Saturday at 7:00 PM at Schuler Books & Music, Meridian Mall, Okemos.

     Two highly successful authors will be discussing current trends in the field of contemporary writing. They will be focusing on various aspects of publishing your own book or getting it released by a traditional publisher.

     Holt resident Rick Murcer, who's made the New York Times and USA Today best seller lists, has self-published his books, selling over 100,000 copies.

     His popular series showcases Lansing Homicide police detective Manny Williams and his partner Sophie Lee. In the first book, "Caribbean Moon", (Kindle $2.99, Ridan Press, $12.99) Williams faces a devious, vengeful serial killer who turns a fun trip into a blood-splattered spree of terror.

     "Deceitful Moon" (Kindle $2.99, Ridan Press $12.99) continues in the same pattern; this time the stressed cops are looking for two serial killers as the body count dramatically rises.

     Murcer is the pseudonym for Rick Murgittroyd, an M.S.U. grad who's also been quite successful with other novels in the series. They're not great literature, but they are highly entertaining, with short chapters, intriguing plot twists and lots of action.

     "Cover of Snow" by Jenny Milchman (Ballantine, $26) is an impressive debut novel that introduces Nora Hamilton, a restorer of old homes in a small New York village.

     Her husband, a police officer, commits suicide; Hamilton discovers many dark, disturbing secrets in her quest for the truth.

     Milchman's carefully crafted, exceptional debut novel is compelling and fast-paced; she's definitely one of contemporary crime fiction's hot rising stars.

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

Find books by great local authors (and more!)
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review is scheduled for publication with the 
Lansing State Journal during the week of March 4, 2013.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Heart of Ice by P.J. Parrish

"Heart of Ice" by P.J. Parrish (Pocket Books, $7.99) is easily one of the best crime novels of the year. 

It's the tenth paperback book in the popular series starring Louis Kincaid, a former Michigan cop who's now working as a private investigator in Florida.

He comes back to Michigan to bond with Lily, his 10-year-old daughter, whose existence he only recently discovered. He also plans on re-uniting with his girlfriend Joe Frye, now the sheriff of a northern Michigan town. 

Kincaid and Lily go to picturesque Mackinac Island and rent bicycles; Lily takes off ahead and discovers a long-deserted hunting lodge. Exploring it, she falls through the weakened floorboards, landing on a pile of bones. 

Kincaid rescues her, believes the bones are human and calls the local police to notify them of them grim discovery. The Police Chief arrives and takes over the case; soon an experienced, frustrated State Police investigator joins them. 

They believe that the bones may be those of young Julie Chapman, daughter of a wealthy industrialist, who went missing in 1969.

The situation gets a lot more complicated; Kincaid is asked to help in the puzzling case. His investigation only raises more questions, exploring many dark island and family secrets.

Even the Lansing State Journal is involved, initially breaking the story about the discovery of bones on the island. 

Strong characters abound, with clues coming from unexpected sources. Most of the novel is set in 1990; Kincaid and others face many unique challenges as tensions escalate. 

Emotions flare as more intriguing, unnerving discoveries are made; Parrish deftly maintains the pace throughout this highly entertaining mystery. There are many unexpected plot twists and surprises, including a memorable, jaw-dropping conclusion. 

Readers familiar with the Kincaid's earlier appearances in this exceptional, award-winning series will have a better understanding of background and his stressful emotional relationship with Frye. 
P.J. Parrish is the pseudonym of two sisters who were born and raised in Detroit.

Kristy Montee graduated from Eastern Michigan University and worked as a journalist for 25 years. She lives in Ft. Lauderdale FL, while her sister, Kelly Nichols resides in Elk Rapids MI. Kelly attended Northern Michigan University and worked in the gaming industry in a Native American casino.

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

Want to read this book?
Get your copy at Curious, a locally-owned independent business!

307 East Grand River Avenue, East Lansing

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, March 3, 2013.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2013 Newsletter - Sales! Shows! Shop Gossip and More!

Greetings from the Curious Book Shop!
Are you hitting the road, or planning a "stay-cation" this month?

Maybe you're be planning your garden, 

or getting the house (and yourself) ready for warmer weather!

Whatever your plans, Curious has a book to help you meet your goals.

We've recently acquired a selection of travel guides, gardening and
landscape references, exercise manuals and home repair how-to books.

Come down to the ol' bookshop and see what's new!

What's On Sale This Month:

30% OFF HARDCOVERS in the following sections:


New Acquisitions:

Comics of all sorts, including classics from DC, Marvel,
Whitman, Harvey, and numerous smaller publishers;
a collection of The Baker Street Journal, a Sherlock fan
publication from the 1960s; Lovely mid-century hardcover
romances by Grace Livingston Hill (with dust jackets!);
Yoga, Meditation, and Eastern Religion books;
Ethnic Cookbooks; and vintage Dr. Who paperbacks.

SO MANY classic Science Fiction & Fantasy paperbacks; 
P.G. Wodehouse paperbacks; recent fiction bestsellers 
in paperback and hardcover; Beat and Counter-Culture classics;
French books; German books; high-quality art books;
paperback Mysteries by Fleming, Doyle, Child, Christie,
Grisham, Peters, Hiaasen, James, and others.

Shop News and Gossip:

Do you have some books or other paper items to sell?

Ray's usual book-buying hours are
Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 3 - 7 p.m.
Please call ahead!  
Keep in mind that we are selectively interested in all sorts of paper things,
including old postcards, photographs, advertisements, maps and transportation memorabilia.

Our selection of brand-new books is constantly evolving.
We stock the latest bestsellers, novelizations of 
award-winning movies like Life of Pi and Warm Bodies,
hard-to-find titles by local authors 
and gift-quality editions of beloved books by our favorite writers. 
(Neil Gaiman! John Green! Chuck Klosterman! J.R.R. Tolkien!)

Our independent, Michigan-based book distributor has plenty to offer. 
What would YOU like to find at Curious? Feel free to let us know.

We're looking forward to FAMILY DAY at the Broad Art Museum!
Visit the Education Wing of the Broad on Saturday, March 2 (12 - 4pm) for FREE,
and enjoy an interactive, family-focused tour. Find out more:

If you love the Lansing and East Lansing communities as much as we do,
you'll be pleased to note that there are many events to attend this month!
Find out more on the City of East Lansing website, 
or by picking up a copy of the current Lansing City Pulse newspaper.

The Antiquarian Book & Paper Show is quickly approaching!Join us on Sunday, April 7th for the 57th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show.
This fabulous show is the largest of it's kind, and happens in our backyard: at the Lansing Center!
There will be over 70 dealers from around the country, each with their own specialties and interests.
This show is for everybody!
Make a day of perusing an astounding selection of books, postcards, photographs,
magazines, posters, military and Michigan history items, sports memorabilia, and a fantastic selection of ephemera. 

Later this month you will receive an informative email about the show and what you may find there.
Until then, please visit the Show Page of our website to learn more about this exciting event.

Can't make it on April 7th?
The next show will be on Sunday, October 13, 2013. Mark you calendar! 

Literary Birthdays to Celebrate in March:
March 1: William Dean Howells, Ralph Waldo Ellison
March 2: Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss!), Tom Wolfe, John Irving
March 6: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ring Lardner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
March 8: Kenneth Grahame, John McPhee
March 9: Mickey Spillane
March 11: Douglas Adams
March 12: Gabriele D'Annunzio, Edward Albee, Virginia Hamilton
March 13: L. Ron Hubbard
March 17: Kate Greenway
March 18: John Updike
March 19: Philip Roth, Irving Wallace
March 20: Sir Isaac Newton, Henrik Isben, Ovid, Lois Lowry
March 22: Randolph Caldecott, Louis L'Amour, James Patterson
March 25: [Mary] Flannery O'Connor
March 26: Edward Bellamy, Joseph Campbell, Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams
March 31: Nikolai Gogol, John Fowles, Marge Piercy

Thank you for your continued support of our independent book shop.

We've proudly served the East Lansing / Lansing / MSU / LCC communities since 1969!

Come down to the shop soon and see what's new (and used).

Many thanks,
Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang

If you would like to receive our monthly bookshop newsletter, please email us! 


Curious Book Shop

307 East Grand River
East Lansing, MI  48823
(517) 332-0112