Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Joseph Heywood's Hard Ground

"Hard Ground" by Portage author Joseph Heywood (Lyons Press, $16.95) is an exceptional paperback collection of short stories by the creator of the very popular "Woods Cop" mystery series. 

While Heywood is not known for his short story prowess, this is likely to change; these previously unpublished stories are addictive and compulsively readable. 

All of the action takes place in the great outdoors of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A small map of the area is provided for those unfamiliar with the territory. 

What's unexpected is Heywood's distinctive sense of humor - many of these tales have hilarious, memorable scenes.

The 29 colorful short stories showcase a wide gamut of challenges faced by convseration officers in Michigan's wilds. 

In a brief introduction, Heywood notes "If there are unifying themes beyond the wearing of the same uniform, it seems to me they are the quest for justice and search for self-vindication and all the strange forms these concerns can take."

Heywood does a wonderful job in maintaining reader's interest. The action is fast-paced, the localized dialogue flows smoothly and the stories are filled with an unending array of eccentric and bizarre characters.

Law-breakers abound, including out-of-season hunters, deer-baiters, over-limit fishermen, an under-age marksman, heavy drinkers and many, many more.

Other characters include strange informants, an unusual judge, deadly villains, a hungry bear, Elvis impersonators and a devious religion-spouting disposer of animals. 

But the real heroes are the Woods Cops - the Upper Peninsula's dedicated conservation officers who often lead quiet uneventful lives interrupted by unusual occurrences.

Veteran law-enforcers aren't the only stars of Heywood's tales - nervous rookies and recently transferred officers also share the limelight. 

The author deftly deals with a number of emotional issues, exploring strained relationships between partners, other officers and assorted family members.

Long-time Heywood fans will enjoy the inclusion of stories featuring Grady Service and Lute Bapcat, heroes in his two popular series. 

If you haven't read any of these books, you're in for a real treat - there are eight titles currently available in the "Woods Cop" series. Lyons Press has also re-released in paperback Heywood's highly-acclaimed earlier novel "Snow Fly".

"Hard Ground" is a captivating, mesmerizing short story collection that shouldn't be missed - it's certainly destined to be selected as one of this year's Michigan Notable Books.
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 May 26, 2013.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Loren Estleman's Alive!

Dedicated movie fans can rejoice!

Award-winning author Loren Estleman has returned with “Alive!” (Forge, $24.99). It's the third novel in his highly entertaining series starring the hard-working UCLA film archivist known simply as Valentino.

Set in contemporary Hollywood, Estleman's tale again showcases the modern film detective as he attempts to locate lost footage.

This time he's seeking to recover the vintage screen test made by a famous actor to portray Frankenstein. But Valentino isn't looking for anything that features Boris Karloff, who made the role exceptionally famous.

Instead, his quest is for the actual long-missing screen test made by Bela Lugosi, revered for his cinematic appearance as Count Dracula.

Lugosi's screen test was indeed considered horrible, but not in the way the actor hoped; the film's future director ordered the reels destroyed.

Decades later Craig Hunter, a former friend of Valentino, has discovered that they still survive. He tries to contact Valentino with little avail.

Soon after, Hunter is discovered murdered in a seedy restaurant/bar – in a manner that points to a notorious gangster.

Valentino's quest for the truth gets him into deep trouble; his relationship with his girlfriend, the beautiful LAPD Forensic Pathologist Harriet Johanson, suffers.

He's still trying to restore “The Oracle”, a vintage theater, and he faces more challenges as additional mayhem occurs.

Valentino sets up a meeting with an aging but knowledgeable magazine publisher who wants to buy the footage. This character is loosely but accurately based on the late Hollywood horror flick historian/icon, Forrest J. Ackerman.

The dedicated film detective gets help from Jason, his steampunk-loving assistant, whose friends later prove to be a useful asset.

This book has a great cover that should get a lot of attention; it's an unusual, quirky, enjoyable crime novel that easily leaves room for a sequel.

Estleman, who  lives in Whitmore Lake, always does his homework when researching his novels. Die-hard film fans will find useful information in the excellent bibliography and filmography sections. 

The first two books in the series, “Frames” and “Alone”, are now in paperback. Grabbing them first may help the reader understand and appreciate the Valentino's character and the problems of film restoration, but it is not essential.

Estleman adds an interesting touch by including two characters from books in “The Antiques Lovers” mystery series, written by his wife, Deborah Morgan.

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 May 19, 2013.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Sneak Peak at Curious New Acquisitions

Have a look at these new acquisitions that caught our attention:

Safe Counsel, or Practical Eugenics
by G,. Jefferis, M.D., Ph. D.
and The Story of Life
by Ozora S. Davis, Ph.D. and Dr. Emma F.A. Drake
Published in 1928, $24.95

An illustration from Safe Counsel

An illustration from Safe Counsel

An illustration from Safe Counsel

An illustration from Safe Counsel

An illustration from Safe Counsel

An illustration from Safe Counsel

Confidential Chats with Boys, by Howard
Published in 1911, $14.95

Confidential Chats with Boys

Confidential Chats with Boys

Confidential Chats with Girls, by Howard
Published in 1911, $19.95

Confidential Chats with Girls

Confidential Chats with Girls

Facts for the Married, by Howard
Published in 1912, $24.95

Facts for the Married


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Curiosities Newsletter for May 2013

Greetings, Booklover!

This month, take 30% OFF books in these sections:


 - A beautiful hardcover set of Great Books (54 Volumes, $250.00)
 - Series fiction for kids, including Junie B, Nancy Drew and Mary Poppins
 - Mind-expanding Philosophy paperbacks and hardcovers
 - High-quality Art books, featuring classic and modern masterpieces
 - A variety of themed Cookbooks, including outdoor grilling, soups and baking
 - Poker and blackjack books, to help your odds at the casino
 - A hardcover set of Durant's The Story of Civilization, in dust-jacket
 - Classic Archie comics featuring Veronica, Betty and Jughead
 - A 1st edition of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, in dust-jacket
 - True tales about cowboys, robbers and other characters of the American West
 - Military history books about the American Civil War and WWII

This afternoon we received the latest shipment from our New Books distributor.
It includes books by Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Alan Moore, Sylvia Plath,
Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, and great gifts for new graduates!


Perhaps you've noticed our increased presence on Facebook?
Or, maybe, you're pleased by the increase in our blog posts?

There's so much to say and share about the literary world!
Find us, follow us, friend us and JOIN THE CONVERSATION.
Check out the book-related news, videos and photos we're sharing.
We're eager to hear your opinion on our many book-related posts.

Recently we unearthed a treasure trove of vintage Curious ads and photos.
We'll be sharing these with our online friends over the next few weeks.

If you have a Curious relic, be it an old bookmark, memory, 
photo or favorite purchase, please share it with us! 
Who knows, you might even see your name in print one day.

April was a marvelous month!
We began the month with the 57th Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show.
Those who attended don't need to hear about how grand it was, so I'll be brief.

A new exhibition room (in the Lansing Center) was cause for a new booth lay-out.
These minor changes made this show seem unique and exciting, according to visitors.
Were you there? Share your experiences (and photos!) on the show's Facebook page.

The Curious staff members bought exciting treasures for their personal collections,
and assisted happy booklovers in finding special editions of their favorite titles.
There were millions of items for sale, including Victorian wedding photographs,
WWII and Vietnam military collectibles, early-20th-century propaganda posters and
a fascinating scrapbook of photos and mementos from a 1920s sanitarium in Howell, Michigan.

If you missed the show, don't fret.
Mark your calendar! 
Your next chance to attend: October 13, 2013

Don't forget! 
We validate parking for any City of EL lots and ramps, with a purchase. 
Parking is FREE on Sundays.


CONGRATULATIONS to Michigan State University's Class of 2013!

Townies, take note:
MSU move-out and graduation ceremonies will commence (haha) this weekend, May 3rd - 5th. Combined with the current EL road construction projects, the influx of parents and exodus of Spartans will make for some ... interesting traffic patterns.

Classicon 42, a Collectable Paperback, Pulp, Comic & Glamour Art Show
This great show features thousands of collectable comics, pulp magazines, digests,
paperbacks novels and iconic pop culture items available for sale or trade.
Join us on Saturday, June 8th at the University Quality Inn, 3121 E. Grand River Ave, Lansing.
Located just off US 127 at exit 78, near the Frandor shopping plaza.
Show Hours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Admission: $3.00. Free Parking!
Are you interested in exhibiting? A limited amount of vendor space is available.
For more information please contact the Curious Book Shop (

Stay up-to-date on East Lansing happenings with the City of East Lansing Events Calendar.

May's Literary Birthdays:
May 1st: Joseph Heller, Terry Southern
May 3rd: Niccolo Machiavelli
May 5th: Karl Marx, Leo Lionni
May 8th: Thomas Pynchon, Edmund Wilson, Gary Snyder
May 9th: J.M. Barrie, Richard Adams, Alan Bennett
May 11th: Stanley Elkin
May 13th: Daphne Du Maurier, Armistead Maupin
May 15th: L. Frank Baum, Paul Zindel, Katherine Anne Porter
May 16th: Studs Terkel, Bruce Coville
May 18th: Bertrand Russell, Diane Duane
May 21st: Dante Alighieri
May 22nd: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Peter Matthiessen
May 25th: Theodore Roethke, Raymond Carver, Jamaica Kincaid
May 27th: John Cheever, Herman Wouk, Tony Hillerman, Rachel Carson
May 28th: Ian Fleming
May 29th: G.K. Chesterton, T.H. White
May 31st: Walt Whitman

"Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman

We appreciate your continued support of our independent East Lansing book shop!

Many thanks,
Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang
P.S. : We are currently interested in buying: Choose Your Own Adventure paperbacks, Oz or Nancy Drew hardbacks, any books (paperback or hardback) by Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger, Charles Bukowksi, Abbie Hoffman, Hunter S. Thompson, Philip K. Dick, and Ayn Rand, as well as science fiction/fantasy paperbacks and hardbacks, Philosophy and Eastern religious books.
                                          Please call to set up an appointment! Thanks!

If you'd like to receive our newsletter in your email inbox, please write to us at

Curious Book Shop

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


May Day Books to Inform and Inspire

It's May Day!

May 1st, also known as International Workers' Day,  
is internationally recognized as a day for peaceful protest by the labor movement. 

Here are some great books by and about "rabble-rouser
leaders and revolutionaries, sure to inform and inspire.


There are plenty more great books in our
Political Science, Philosophy, Current Events,
World History, Labor HistorySociology and Science sections.

These books are available at Curious, but in limited supply.

If you'd like to place a book on hold, please call the shop at 517.332.0112.

Technologies of Freedom: Free Speech in an Electronic Age
by Ithiel de Sola Pool (Paperback,  $6.50)

Advice and Dissent: Scientists in the Political Arena
by Joel Primack and Frank Von Hippel (Paperback, $5.50)

American Radical Though: The Libertarian Tradition
Edited by Henry J. Silverman (Paperback, $7.95)

Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Book
by the Center for Constitutional Rights (Paperback, $3.50)

Green Washed: Why We Can't Buy Our Way to a Green Planet
by Kendra Pierre-Louis (Paperback, $4.95)

State and Revolution
by Lenin (Paperback, $4.95)

Malcolm X: The Last Speeches
Edited by Bruce Perry (Paperback, $7.95)

Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender
by Ralph Nader (Paperback, $7.50)

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
by Noam Chomsky (Paperback, $6.95)

Nelson Mandela: The Man and the Movement
by Mary Benson (Paperback, $5.50)
Forward by Desmond Tutu!

None Dare Call It Treason
by John A. Stormer (Paperback, $3.95)

Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
by Gordon Cucullu (Hardcover, SIGNED!, $12.50)

Revolt of the Masses
by Jose Ortega y Gasset (Paperback, $4.95)

Roads to Ruin: Shocking History of Social Reform
by E.S. Turner (Paperback, $2.95)

History of Socialism in the United States
by Morris Hillquit (Paperback, $16.95)
Introduction by Albert Fried

The Essential Thomas Paine
(Paperback, $3.95)

Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era
Edited by Ken Wachsberger (Paperback, $19.95)

by George Orwell (Paperback, $4.95)

Social Inequality in Oaxaca: A History of Resistance and Change
by Arthur D. Murphy and Alex Stepick (Hardcover, $24.95)