Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ray's Review: Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

Nevada Barr will be reading and signing books on Thursday at 7:00 PM at Schuler Books, Meridian Mall, 1982 W Grand River, Okemos.
"Destroyer Angel" by award-winning author Nevada Barr (Minotaur Books, $26.99) is the latest in her exceptionally popular, best-selling series starring Park Ranger Anna Pigeon.

Scheduled for release on Tuesday, the harrowing tale is a compelling page-turner, full of riveting action and tense suspense.

This is more of a thriller than a detective novel. Anna must use all of her knowledge and skills in a deadly struggle for survival.

Set in Minnesota's upstate Iron Range area, the highly entertaining tale begins with Anna taking a much-needed vacation after a summer fighting wildfires.

She's on a camping trip/vacation joining her friend Heath (a paraplegic), Heath's 15-year-old adopted daughter Elizabeth and Leah (a wealthy outdoor equipment designer) and her 13-year-old daughter Katie.

Heath's aging dog Wily is also along for the trip, which was intended to test out a new design for camping gear for the disabled.

On the second day, Anna paddles off for a solitary canoe trip; as she comes back she hears loud voices. She realizes that her friends are being held as hostages by four heavily armed thugs.

The men plan on going through the wilderness with their captives to an airplane rendezvous site. The nasty kidnappers think this should be relatively easy, but run into unexpected delays. Their journey is complicated by difficult terrain and their unfamiliarity with the woods.

Anna is joined by the injured dog Wily as she attempts to rescue her friends by any means possible. She doesn't have any weapons or a cell phone, but she's got lots of experience in handling difficult situations.

The captive women face challenges as well, including potential sexual abuse and physical abuse. It's easy to cheer for Anna!

Barr does an outstanding job with character development; the narrative is deftly told from alternating, contrasting points of view.

This is a captivating novel laced with dark humor, a touch of the supernatural, considerable violence and gripping situations.

If you haven't followed any of Anna's earlier appearances, you won't feel too out of place by using this as a starting point and then back-tracking.

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

Find this book and other great titles
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 30, 2014.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

The the SCOOP on the BIG SHOW - Sunday, April 6th in Lansing

Booklovers, Rejoice!

59th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show is coming.

Spend the day with like-minded book-lovers, as we browse thousands upon thousands of collectible books, photographs, art pieces, posters, postcards, maps, ephemera and so much more at the MIDWEST'S LARGEST antiquarian book and paper show. 
Centuries-old illuminated manuscripts and Gutenberg bible pages may be displayed alongside rare sports and Hollywood memorabilia.
WWII propaganda posters and frame-worthy magazine covers abound, in addition to fine art originals and prints related the literary world.

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.
Bring the whole family! 
(No dogs, cats, Gremlins or Tribbles, please.)

Every bookdealer has a specialty, and there's something for everyone at the show. Some dealers focus on quality, moderately priced modern kids' books, while other deal in hard-to-find cook books, military histories and antique bindings. Prices range from $1.00 to $5,000!
The show is easily navigable, with wide aisles that allow easy access for wheelchairs and strollers. Enjoy soothing acoustic music by local musicians, plenty of seating, a complimentary package check, and on-site concessions for a quick bite to eat.
Sunday, April 6th
The Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, MI
Show Hours:
9:30 AM - 5 PM (Sorry, no early admittance!)
$5.00 (Children 13 and under are FREE!)
Show Website:
Get into the book show spirit by reading the virtual Show Guide and Press Releaseor better yet, come down to Curious and "talk books" with us while we prepare for the show.
It's a pleasure to serve the local literary community, and Curious is eager to celebrate our 45th BIRTHDAY later this year!
Thank you, THANK YOU (!) for your continued support.
Hope to see you at the shownext Sunday!
Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang

PS - Are you interested in helping out at the show? This temporary gig involves heavy lifting! Contact Mark at Curious (517.332.0112) for details.
"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking." - Jerry Seinfeld


Friday, March 28, 2014

Press Release: 59th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show

The Midwest's LARGEST show of its kind, 
59th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show, 
is coming to Lansing on Sunday, April 6!

9:30 AM to 5 PM (Sorry no early admission)
at the
Lansing Center,
333 E. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI

Admission is $5.00, children 13 and under enter free!

The Midwest's largest antiquarian book and paper show will be held Sunday, April 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing, MI.

If it's on paper you're likely to find it at the 59th Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show. Organized by the Mid Michigan Antiquarian Book Dealers Association this show has become a regular event for book and paper enthusiasts from across the country.

Nearly 60 dealers from across the United States will offer vintage, antiquarian and collectible books, magazines and paper items of all kinds for sale. There is something for everyone including first editions, signed books, children's and illustrated books, regional histories, mysteries, cookbooks, movie posters, sports collectibles, postcards, photographs, maps and much more.

Sponsored by the Mid-Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Assoc.

For further information contact:

Ray Walsh (Curious Book Shop) (517) 332-0112

Ruth A. Tepin (MMABDA) (517) 332-0123


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Loren Estleman's Don't Look for Me

Tough guy private eye Amos Walker is back in "Don't Look For Me" (Forge, $26.99), the latest highly entertaining crime novel by Whitmore Lake author Loren Estleman.

The 23rd book in his popular series is set in urban and suburban Detroit; there are many great scenes filled with exceptionally accurate and dark descriptions. There's considerable violence, the dialogue flows smoothly and Walker is as sardonic as ever.

This time he's hired by Alec Wynn, a wealthy investment banker whose wife Cecilia has gone missing. She left behind a lot of expensive clothing, a drawer full of herbal remedies and a cryptic, undated note that simply states "Don't Look for Me."

It's not the first time she's done it, but Wynn doesn't want to call in the cops. He doesn't like dealing with big detective agencies -- he'd rather just have an experienced private eye find her.

Walker goes out and tracks down leads, checking with a frustrated former lover and Cecilia's ex-maid, who's gotten a considerably different job in the local porn movie industry.

His quest takes him to an herbal remedies store, where Smoke Wygonik, the pretty sales clerk, offers useful and interesting insights. Soon she pays Walker a visit, after her boss's body is discovered in the shop's basement along with other illegal items.

The case gets a bit more complicated as Walker digs deeper. Soon he realizes that his car is being tailed and confronts his followers with surprising results.

Longtime Estleman followers will recognize familiar characters, including Detroit Police Inspector John Alderdyce and former newspaper reporter Barry Stackpole.

This is the third and final book in Walker's Charlotte Sing series, which included his excellent crime novels "American Detective" and "Infernal Angels".

If you enjoy dark, hard-boiled crime novels, you're in for a real treat; this is another addictive, taut performance by a top-notch writer.

However, it should come with a spoiler alert: dedicated fans should avoid reading the blurb on the inside dust jacket flap. It gives away far too much of the twisted plot.

Estleman, who's written over 70 novels, last year won the Eye Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Private Eye Writers of America. His next book, "Ragtime Cowboys", is scheduled for release in May.

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

Find this book and other great titles
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 23, 2014.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Ray's Reviews: A Darkling Sea by JAmes L. Cambias

If you're thinking about getting away -- like maybe to another planet -- a new science fiction thriller offers highly entertaining escapism.

"A Darkling Sea" by James L. Cambias (Tor Books, $25.99) is an action-packed tale that takes place underwater in the cold, deep ocean of a faraway planet.

In the distant future, under a thick kilometer of ice, humans are observing the actions of an intelligent race, the Ilmatarans, who have no eyes but communicate by sound and sonar.

The Terrans are there by an agreement with the Sholen, another space-faring race, but they are only supposed to observe, not contact the natives.

Unfortunately, media personality Henri Kerlerec decides to break that rule, with unexpected results; ironically, he ends up dead, on an Ilmaratan dissection table.

Underwater photographer Rob Freeman had gone along, taking pictures before Kerelec died; he emerges as one of the novel's primary human characters.

The isolationist Sholen discover what has happened and decide that the humans have broken their agreement; the six-legged aliens intend to shut down the entire operation.

The humans object; tension mounts as conflict between the three sentient races escalates into violence.

Cambia's debut is a superb, carefully thought-out, hard science, futuristic tale dealing with first alien contact. Intriguing, fascinating characters abound in an unusual setting.

The fast-paced novel is deftly told from alternating viewpoints, including the insights of Broadtail (an ostracized Ilmataran scientist) and assorted Sholen who have widely different opinions on how to proceed.

"A Darkling Sea" is enjoyable on a number of levels; it's definitely not a fantasy and it's not the umpteenth installment of a long-running series.

If you're a fan of good old-fashioned science fiction, you won't be disappointed. It's a little strange, but you don't have to be a scientist or scuba diver to submerge yourself in this compelling, unusual tale.

Cambias has been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award and has had stories published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as well as other anthologies.

He is the co-founder of Zygote Games and has written several table-top role-play game tie-in novels.

This carefully crafted novel is likely to be a strong candidate for the genre's top Hugo Award honors.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 
is a long-time science fiction fan who has reviewed books regularly since 1987.

Find this book and other great titles
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 16, 2014.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ray's Reviews: G8 by Mike Brogan and The Second Letter by Robert Lane

Two new thrillers offer varying degrees of exciting entertainment, but each is likely to keep you up reading all night.

"G8" by southeastern Michigan author Mike Brogan (Lighthouse Books, $17.99) is another top-notch, action-packed tale by the award-winning author.

It features Donovan Rourke, a CIA Special Agent, who must try to stop a major assassination attempt at the G8 Economic Conference in Brussels, Belgium.

Even though he's in the domestic division, he's called upon by his superiors (and the President!) to be sure that any deadly attempt will not be successful.

Brogan gets you hooked in the first three short chapters, where the main character's wife and two other of his associates are killed. Soon, Rourke is on the next plane out; most of the action takes place in Brussels and the surrounding countries.

Valek Stahl, also known as Katill, is a clever, cold-hearted, devious assassin who has complicated plans that are already underway. While Katill is being paid a fortune to succeed in the murder of the politicians, he also has his own personal reasons.

Rourke gets assistance from other European authorities and has the help of beautiful translator Maccabee Singh, who has her own share of personal problems.

This is a gripping, adrenalin-charged crime novel with strong, likable characters and nasty, muderous villains. There are numerous close calls and pulse-pounding chase scenes; it's rife with tense suspense and has a violent conclusion. It'd make a great movie!

Brogan has written three other books that are riveting thrillers, "Business to Kill For", "Dead Air", and "Madison's Avenue".

"The Second Letter" by Robert Lane (Mason Alley Publishing, $14.95) is a debut paperback novel that introduces former U.S. Army Special Forces Agent Jake Travis.

Now living in Florida, he's contacted by his former superior to track down and retrieve a 50-year-old Cold War letter that was written by a CIA operative.

It's now in the possession of strip club owner Raydel Escobar, who's trying to blackmail the IRS in exchange for a financial break on his taxes.

With a convoluted plot and a wise-cracking hero, this has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, after a while, the drug dealings and further escalation just become tedious. This is a satisfactory tale, but nothing spectacular.

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

Find this book and other great titles
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 9, 2014.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Two Michigan Books! All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco and Lena's Bequest by Paul Ross

If you're still frustrated by the seemingly unending winter and the frigid, freezing temperatures, maybe it's time to warm up with a few new books.

One has scenes in Michigan, Ohio, New York and the Ukraine while the other is set primarily on lovely Mackinac Island. Both feature strong female characters who try to solve deadly puzzles.
"Lena's Bequest" by Bath author Paul Ross (Chandler 3 Press, $14.95) is an entertaining tale that focuses on Yelena (or Lena) Burchak, a young woman originally from Flint.

She's getting ready to go to law school at the University of Michigan, but is living in Ohio when she's approached by an elderly stranger. He says he's got information for her from her late father, Yuri Metrov.

Lena, who never knew her father, isn't really interested. She gets nervous and calls 911, getting unexpected results when the sheriff arrives.

After a meeting with the stranger, Karl Wolenski, she learns more about her father's past in wartime Ukraine. Lena discovers intriguing information about her unusual bequest, an incredibly valuable Faberge egg that was smuggled out of the Ukraine by Yuri.

The action intensifies as a nasty villain emerges; soon Lena's on the run with Karl to New York City.

There are many flashback scenes to Yuri's and Karl's past, including the decimation of their families. The pair barely escape the Ukraine, eventually working for clandestine American government agencies.

Ross has researched his novel well; the action flows smoothly and strong characters abound. His excellent historical and geographical descriptions add a distinctive touch to a remarkable debut novel.

The author is currently working on two other books; his email address is .

"All Fudged Up" by Nancy Coco (Kensington, $7.99) is a tasty paperback introducing Allie McMurphy, owner of the historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop on Mackinac Island.
It opens with McMurphy discovering a dead body in a utility closet at the hotel; more complications soon arise.

There's an unusual cast of possible suspects. McMurphy struggles to get the hotel and fudge shop open, uncovering a devious scheme with deadly implications.

It's light reading with a touch of romance; Coco (the pseudonym of Nancy J. Parra) also includes many delicious fudge recipes for readers who enjoy baking.

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

Find these books and other great titles
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 2, 2014.