Friday, August 16, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Grumpy Cat and An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

Here's a quick look at a pair of unusual books that
are likely to make you giggle, even if you're not a cat
person or a frequent drinker. They should be enjoyed
leisurely, with reading time spread over a few days.

"Grumpy Cat" (Chronicle Books, $12.95) uses an
innovative concept, featuring unusual images of a feline
that's become an internet sensation.

Subtitled "Disgruntled Tips and Activities Designed to
Put a Frown On Your Face", the slim, colorful book is
likely to make you frequently laugh out loud.

It's full of pessimistic, colorful insights by Grumpy
Cat, such as "Turn that smile upside down", "If you're happy
and you know it - get away from me", and "I got you a
present - Check the litter box."

There are also sections on "The Anatomy of a Frown",
"How to Host a Grumpy Party", and "A Grumpy Gift Guide."
The book is not just a collection of odd photos - there
are also a few connect-the-dots sections, some bizarre
mazes, and a clever crossword puzzle that just uses the word "no".

Especially creative are the images of Grumpy Cat on
worldwide monuments and as she appears on book covers,
such as "A Tale of Two Kitties" on "The Grumpy Reading List".

Grumpy Cat in real life is named Tartar Sauce, a young,
well-loved cat with dwarfism belonging to Tabatha Bundesen,
although there's no author or photographer credit provided.

A feature film, similar to Garfield, is in the works;
more information on the Grumpy Cat phenomenon is available
at the creator's website:

"An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails", by Orr Shtuhl
(Gotham Books, $20.00), is an intriguing book offering 50
classic cocktail recipes, tips and tales.

It showcases colorful, interesting illustrations by
Elizabeth Graeber, who's created many simplistic, yet
memorable graphic images.

The small hardback deftly features storytelling about
the history and background of assorted drinks, then provides
detailed recipes.

Information is prepared on many classic cocktails,
such as the Bloody Mary, White Russian, Old Fashioned,
Tom Collins, and the Manhattan.

The book also offers good advice, including hints on
The Blue Blazer (don't catch yourself on fire!), and Two
Ingredient cocktails (How to Drink at Weddings).

A useful alphabetical index is great for bartenders or
those wanting to quickly locate information about a
particular cocktail.

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

Find these titles and other great books
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 August  11, 2013.


Ray's Reviews: Death in a Summer Colony by Aaron Stander

"Death in a Summer Colony"  by Michigan author Aaron Stander (Writers & Editors, 15.95) is the seventh in his popular series starring Cedar County Sheriff Ray Elkins.

The oversized paperback is set in Northern Michigan, near Traverse City, at the Mission Point Summer Colony, a collection of 250 aging cottages.

The area's population swells during the beautiful summertime there, when the longtime residents are joined by others seeking rest and relaxation.

This time out, Elkins has a tough case on his hands, as billionaire industrialist Malcolm Wudbridge is discovered dead backstage during the presentation of a stage adaptation at the area's aging auditorium.

Wudbridge was acting in Agatha Christie's "Death at the Vicarage". Ironically, he had a role as a dead victim, playing the role of wealthy Colonel Protheroe, a much-loathed character.

An intense thunderstorm with heavy lightning flashes had shaken the old auditorium. The strained lighting system had flickered and briefly gone out. It quickly came on again, but just after the first intermission the entire building went dark.

Elkins is summoned from the audience when the power is restored; it's discovered that Wudbridge had been murdered in an unusual fashion.

The rest of the book is a solid police procedural and whodunit, as Elkins and Deputy Sue Lawrence investigate.

There are 20 possible suspects, including assorted family members, cast and crew; so tracking down the clever killer (or killers) is not going to be an easy task.

Elkins and Lawrence diligently question them all, finding a wide variety of reasons for murdering the much-despised Wudbridge.

Not all of the information initially matches; the investigators find some witnesses unreliable and others belligerent.

Delving deeper, they hear many disturbing stories about Wudbridge and his relationships; they get useful assistance from an unexpected source.

Stander is in fine form in creating an intriguing, atmospheric tale that should please his many fans.

To follow the character's growth, it's best to read the excellent Elkins police procedurals in order. The series begins with "Summer People", "Color Tour" and "Deer Season". Other novels in the series are "Shelf Ice", "Medieval Murders" and "Cruelest Month".

Stander is a highly talented author who is also host of the monthly show "Michigan Writers on the Air" on Interlochen Public Radio.

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

Find this and other books by great Michigan authors
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 August 18, 2013.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dazzling Discounts - Splendiferous New Titles - Juicy Shop Scuttlebutt - Curious Book Shop Newsletter for August 2013

"The buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul's reaching toward infinity; which is the only thing that raises us up above the beasts that perish." - A.E. Newton

Greetings, Friends of Curious! 

August's Sale -- 30% OFF...

Essays & Memoirs

Also, Magazines priced at $5 or less are 50% OFF!

New Arrivals:
In the past few weeks the shop has acquired...
Books on Opera and classical music composers; Louis L'Amour paperbacks; 
Maigret mysteries by Georges Simenon (en Fran├žais!); National Geographic magazines;
the works of Cicero (Loeb Classics hardcovers); a beautiful collection of books 
about Dance (Ballet, Latin, and more!); a variety of 20th century Poetry; 
Children's Classics; Travel; Mysteries; Political Science; and Science books. 

Other new acquisitions include Buddhism; World History; Nature books; 
Psychology (and it's going fast!); Art and Architecture books; nearly 70
titles by Andre Norton, about a dozen by Stanislaw Lem; Rex Stout;
collectible Michael Moorcock hardcovers;  a gorgeous collection of 
turn-of-the-century (and older!) Jules Verne novels; over 100 recent  
Science Fiction and Fantasy paperbacks; vintage Comics; Beat & 
Counter-Culture paperbacks and more!

We've expanded our selection of New Books this summer,
and now carry more titles by Vonnegut, Kerouac, Bukowski  and Palahniuk,
as well as new books by Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson,
Neil Gaiman, John Green (DFTBA!), Sylvia Plath, Jim Hines,
Ernest Hemingway, Haruki Murakami,  Mardi Jo Link, Neil Gaiman,
Patrick Rothfuss, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many new Michigan books.
We also acquired more pin-back buttons, made from recycled books and magazines.
They've quickly become a shop favorite!  We add new buttons on a bi-weekly basis.

Shop Gossip and Literary Scuttlebutt:

We have sore arms and are covered in dust. Why? Because we're moving!
Moving book sections, that is. This week we've relocated many sections, 
including Horror, Erotica, Theater, Romance, and the Clearance Books. 
If you feel a bit discombobulated on your next visit, please ask us for guidance!

Have you read the new Jim Hines book, yet? Hines is a local, award-winning
fantasy writer with a burgeoning fanbase . . . and he's one of our favorite writers. 
Codex Born, book two of his Magic Ex Libris series, was released yesterday.
We have a few copies of Codex Born and Libriomancer (Book One) in stock.
Michiganders will get a kick out of Hines's subtle nods to Northern Michigan life, 
MSU and (gasp!) a mysterious East Lansing bookseller by the name of "Ray W." 
             WARNING: You won't be able to put down this book!

Upcoming Book & Comic Shows: 

The 58th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show is just around the corner!

Join us on Sunday, October 13th at the Lansing Center for the MIDWEST'S LARGEST
antiquarian book and paper show! This event is fun for the whole family, and attracts book
collectors and bibliophiles from all over North America. 

Find show photos, vendor information and more on the show website and Facebook page.

Classicon 44, Lansing's premier Collectible Paperbacks, Comics, Pulps
and Glamour Art Show, returns to the University Quality Inn on Saturday,
November 2nd. Mark your calendar! You don't want to miss this nostalgia-
steeped event. It's fun for novices and serious collectors.

Townies, Take Note:

The Great Lakes Folk Festival is happening in East Lansing THIS WEEKEND!
Find out more here:

Town is buzzing with excitement, and we've seen some friendly, familiar faces at the shop.

MSU students are back, and will begin moving onto campus in mid-August!
Sunday, August 25th is Freshman Move-In, and the Fall Welcome Cook-Out is the following Tuesday.

Be sure to get down to Curious soon! We'll validate your parking with a purchase. 

Thank you, THANK YOU for continuing to support this independent East Lansing book shop!
We have proudly served the MSU, LCC, East Lansing and Lansing communities since 1969.

It's been a wild summer full of fascinating acquisitions and visits from booklover friends, old and new. 
We're (almost) ready for September, the Fall Semester and plenty of book show hubbub!

Many thanks,
Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang

If you'd like to receive our newsletter in your email inbox, shoot us a line at


Curious Book Shop

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


Monday, August 5, 2013

Ray's Reviews: The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Stephen King's Joyland

Two recent releases offer great escapism - they're ideal books for summertime beach reading.

"The Heist" by best-selling authors Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Bantam, $28) is the first in a new series featuring FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare and notorious, handsome, international con artist Nick Fox.

It's an interesting combination that works out well and is liable to please the legion of fans that have enjoyed Evanovich's long-running Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter series.

Some readers may not be that familiar with award-winning author Lee Goldberg, who's written many novels based on the quirky "Monk" television series.

This is an action-packed tale that puts unlikely protagonists on the same team. They're working together to catch Derek Griffin, an even bigger con artist who's hiding away on his own private island in Indonesia.

O'Hare and Fox create a devious plan and select a motley crew of associates to get to Griffin. The crew includes a frustrated actor and experienced Wilma Owens, who "could drive, steer or pilot anything that moved people from one place to another..."

There are many other interesting characters and peculiar situations with lots of laugh-out loud scenes.

This is the first in a proposed series starring O'Hare and Fox; don't be surprised if it's made into a TV show or movie.

"Joyland" (Hard Case Crime, $14.95) by world-reknowned author Stephen King combines a variety of genres in his latest highly entertaining novel.

This oversized trade paperback is a strikingly memorable, bittersweet coming-of-age tale. It focuses on young college student Devin Jones and his unusual experiences during the summer of 1973.

Jones gets a job at Joyland, a North Carolina amusement park; he's trying to get over an emotional romantic breakup.

It's told from a viewpoint of Jones 40 years later, similiar to Neil Gaiman's main character in his recent release, "The Ocean at the End of the Lane".

There's a psychic with strange visions, an unsolved murder, a spooky carnival ride and a variety of unexpected complications and confrontations.

"Joyland" is a carefully crafted, highly enjoyable tale, full of well-developed characters in a rich, atmospheric setting.

It provides solid escapism to a world that no longer exists - except in the minds of those who survived the experiences.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987. He grew up near Detroit's Edgewater Amusement Park.

Find these titles and other great books
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 August  4, 2013.