Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Announcing our HUGE winter clearance sale! 

50% off almost everything, 20% off the rest!

Lasts through 3:00pm on December 30th

What's 20% off?
Anything marked "New" or "Net"
Pulps and Related Materials
Signed and Limited Edition Books
Vintage Football Programs and Movie Posters

Items in a display case or behind the front counter

What's 50% off?
Everything Else! 

Booklovers, Take Note:
Curious will revert to our Winter Hours, beginning Jan. 2nd.
We'll be closing at 7pm most nights, rather than 8, in an effort to gain a wee bit more reading time. More information is available at curiousbooks.com.

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.

- Edgar Guest


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ray's Reviews: Go Spartans by Darla Hall

        If you’re getting ready for the big football game on New Year’s Eve, the
phrase “Go Spartans” is likely to be on your mind.

        It’s also the title of a colorful new 48-page oversize paperback, selling
for $14.99. Attractively designed as an activity book, it can provide fun
for the whole family.

        This is an ideal choice for the die-hard Spartan fan, particularly if you
have 6-to-12 year-old children.

        This book was created by Darla Hall, from Birmingham AL. and her
business, In the Sports Zone. She developed it initially as a gift for a
young boy she knew who was hit by a car and broke both of his legs.

        A portion of the profit is donated as activity books for children
in local hospitals.

         It is part of a nation-wide series of over 100 books promoting
collegiate sports as well as professional baseball and football teams.
It’s organized to be useful this season or actually any season – since no
sports stars are mentioned by name.

        The book opens with a few pages for drawing, allowing you to describe
your winning football or basketball play. There’s also a page where you
can draw yourself, family, friends or favorite player.

        Other highly-creative sections offer games, mazes, connect the dots,
trivia, word searches, cut-outs, a crossword puzzle, MSU facts and song

        A dozen pages are devoted to “Dream Teams”, where you can design your own
MSU Dream Team, with spaces for names, positions and personal data.
Included are areas where you can create your own card front or back

        There are four pages at the end of the book designated as writing
sections, where you can become creative, noting what you would do if you
were selected as the team coach, what you love about Spartan football
and more.

        An attractive page of MSU related decals are tipped in at the rear of the
book. Information is also provided on how to download your free app at
the ITunes Store.

        Adults with considerable time on their hands may find it challenging to
count how many times the Sparty symbol, Block S or Spartan logo appear
throughout the book. I gave up when I counted almost 200 of them!

        Ray Walsh is the owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed
Michigan books and crime novels 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 December 27, 2015.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ray's Reviews - Coloring Book Edition: The Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford

       If you’re looking for a last-minute holiday gift, here’s a quick look at
an unusual book that’s likely to give the recipient many hours of
relaxing entertainment.

        “The Enchanted Forest” by Johanna Basford (King, $15.95) is a wonderful
collection of intricate drawings that are meant to be hand-colored.

        While it’s great for high-energy kids who need something to occupy their
time (other than the internet!), this book has sold amazingly well as
escape therapy for exhausted adults who need relaxation. It may also be
used as a coloring project for families.

        The thick over-sized paperback is described as “An Inky Quest and
Coloring Book”. It challenges the reader to track down items that are
drawn into the images throughout, including 40 birds, 36 fish, 16
gargoyles, 14 butterflies, two unicorns and a cat, among others.

        There are also nine symbols carved into square tablets that need to be
discovered- so the castle door can be unlocked. Then the quest will be
over and one will discover what lies within.

        An Enchanted Forest Key is provided at the end of the book, so the
colorist knows exactly what hidden images appear on each page.

        The colorist must then draw the nine symbols – (just finding them isn't
enough!); turning the next few pages create an additional unexpected
fold-out surprise.

        If you don’t have colored pencils easily available, you may want to get
some - this is not a book that works well with magic markers or even

        Most felt pens will unfortunately leak color though to the other side;
the best type of markers are Staedtler triplus fineliner marking pens
with a 0.3 mm point.

        The creator and illustrator has also produced “Secret Garden”, an earlier
book with a similar design, that has sold over 1.5 million copies and has
been translated into 36 languages.

        Johanna Basford is a Scottish illustrator; her third book, “Lost Ocean”
came out very recently by a different American publisher but drew
complaints - thinner paper was used in the production.

        Coloring books for grown-ups are part of a growing national trend – a few
years ago, it was a marginal market at best.

        “Enchanted Forest” should come with a warning label – it’s so addictive
you may want to buy an extra copy for yourself!

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 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 December 20, 2015.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ray's Reviews: The Promise by Robert Crais

        “The Promise” by Robert Crais (Putnam, $27.95) is the latest novel in his
bestselling series starring private eye Elvis Cole and his sidekick, Joe

        They’re joined by LAPD Officer Scott James and his K-9 partner Maggie in
the follow-up to “Suspect”.

        This time out, Cole, who modestly bills himself as “The World’s
Greatest Detective”, gets hired by Meryl Lawrence. She wants Cole to
track down Amy Bryslen, a co-worker who has just vanished.

        Breslyn is a chemical engineer with a background in explosives. Her
journalist son was killed by a bomb seven months earlier in Nigeria.
She’s distraught and has taken $460,000 from a corporate bank account.

        Cole follows up on a few leads that Lawrence gives him and quickly finds
himself in deep trouble.

         He’s checking out a small house in Echo Park where a friend of Breslyn’s
is supposed to live.  A fugitive from the police runs into the house; he’s soon dead.

        A violent killer called Mr. Rollins was in the house but leaves as police
swarm in.

        Cole is a witness, he saw the man running out; James and Maggie see the
fleeing suspect but can’t track him down.

        When a large cache of explosives are found at the house, the plot quickly
becomes more complicated.

        Targeted by police who think that Cole is deeply involved, the quirky
private investigator calls Pike and his mercenary friend John Stone in to

        Meanwhile, nasty Mr. Rollins is trying to eliminate James and his dog;
the pair are taken off the case but continue to work with Cole and Pike.

        While you may need a scorecard to track of all of the characters, the
author does an excellent job shifting viewpoints frequently. Some
chapters are deftly relayed as situations seen from a dog’s viewpoint!

        Ulterior motives abound and there’s continuous deception – but Crais
never disappoints the reader. It’s a fast-paced novel could easily be
torn from tomorrow’s headlines – contemporary crime fiction at its best!

         If you haven’t read any other Crais novels, it’s not too late to start –
he’s written excellent stand-alone novels and many others in the Elvis
Cole/Joe Pike series.

        Crais, who also scripted many Hollywood tv shows, was part of MSU’s
Clarion Writer’s Workshop in the 1970’s.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan 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 December 13, 2015.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ray's Reviews: Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

        “Playing With Fire” by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine, $28) is a stand-alone
novel by the author of the best-selling Rizzoli and Isles medical

        This is a disturbing tale that’s set in the present - and in the past;
it’s a love story – and a hate story. There’s music and laughter -
there’s death and destruction.

        It’s not what Gerritsen’s loyal fans are used to, but it’s a
well-crafted, carefully plotted, unusual literary thriller.

        It begins when violinist Julia Ansdell discovers a unique hand-written
piece of music inside of an old book that she purchases at an antique
shop in Rome.

        Back home in Boston, Julia plays the captivating composition in front of
Lisa, her 3-year old daughter, getting violent, unexpected results.

        Gerritsen then flashes back to Venice in 1938, focusing on 18-year-old
Lorenzo Todesco. He’s a young Jewish student who has inherited a violin
that once belonged to his grandfather’s grandfather.

        Lorenzo’s father has a small violin repair shop; one of his customers,
Professor Balboni, has a 17-year-old daughter, Laura, who plays the

        The professor suggests that the 2 students play together at a music
competition held at a local university. Before he meets her, Lorenzo is
reluctant; he has a vivid imagination, but is pleasantly surprised.

        Lorenzo creates a complex piece of music for the competition – the
Incendio waltz – a distinctive composition that seems to have a life of
its own.

        Gerritsen then returns to the present, with Julia trying to figure out
what’s causing her young daughter’s reactions.

        In her search for answers, Julia goes to Venice, where she traces the
lives of Lorenzo, Laura and their families.  The novel gets more complex
as the plots intertwine; Julia discovers that she is in dangerous
territory; she’s become a target for a family with deadly secrets.

        The author masterfully increases the tension, exposing many dark aspects
and horrors of life in Fascist Italy and nearby areas, before and during
World War II.

        In a section of historical notes, Gerritsen discloses why she wrote the
novel and the challenges she faced in researching it. There’s also a
brief useful bibliography.

        “Playing with Fire” is a thought-provoking tale with images likely to
linger long after the last page is turned.

        More information is available online at tessgerritsen.com.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan 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 December 6, 2015.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ray's Reviews: The Sundown Speech by Michigan Author Loren Estleman

        “The Sundown Speech” by Whitmore Lake author Loren Estleman (Forge Books,
$24.99) is the 25th in his popular series starring hard-boiled Detroit
area private detective Amos Walker.

        This time out, most of the action is set in Ann Arbor, on or near the
campus of the University of Michigan.

        It’s not a contemporary case, but is a long flashback to one that took
place about a dozen years ago.

        Walker is hired by Dante and Heloise Gunnar, who’ve invested $15,000 in a
movie that was supposed to be produced in the college town. They gave
their money to Jerry Marcus, the independent film’s writer and director –
but he’s vanished.

        The film has disappeared too; the private investigator learns that it was
about aliens from a totalitarian planet who come to Earth to clone both
front-running U.S. Presidential candidates.

        After a few hours of work, Walker locates where Marcus has been living –
but finds him dead, his body stuffed into a cupboard, with a bullet in
his head.

        Dante’s arrested for the murder – and Walker is hired again to prove his

        The hard-working private eye questions college student Holly Zacharius, a
witness who may have been the last person to see Marcus alive.

        The case quickly becomes more complicated – especially when shots are
fired at Walker and Zacharius.

        In his search for information, Walker deals with frustrated journalists,
hard-working cops and assorted business people, getting unexpected

        He discovers a clever, deadly plot and gets immersed in a last-second
struggle for survival.

       Originally published as a novella in serial form in 2004 in the Ann
Arbor News, this excellent, carefully crafted crime novel has been
greatly expanded and re-imagined.

        Estleman, who was born and raised in Ann Arbor, has done a superb job in
re-creating the atmosphere of the college town of a dozen years ago. It
was a different time, when Border’s Book Shop was still a major player
and cell phones or computers were not predominant.

        If you haven’t read any of the Amos Walker books, it’s not too late to
start. While it’s best to read them in chronological order, they work
well individually as outstanding examples of enjoyable, hard-boiled
detective fiction.

        The award-winning author has written over 70 novels including other
Detroit crime novels and many Westerns.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan 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 November 29, 2015.


Monday, October 19, 2015

And So It Begins - Our MASSIVE Anniversary Sale!

Greetings, Booklover!

We thought that you'd like to know about our exciting annual sale!

It is a pleasure to announce, on this most auspicious occasion, that beginning today... 
THE ENTIRE SHOP IS ON SALE!  (Well, the items within the shop, at least.)

To celebrate our 46th Anniversary, for a limited time only!

We're offering Almost Everything at 46% OFF!
And 25% off Everything Else! 
(The "Everything Else" category includes new books, pulps and pulp-related items, football programs, movie posters, signed limited editions, items behind the counter, and Curious shirts.)

Everything is discounted. Everything! It's a great opportunity to do some holiday shopping, or to stock up on winter necessities on your "To Read List".

In mid-October of 1973*, a long-haired MSU student named Ray started selling groovy science fiction novels out of the basement of a house. A booklover to the core, he had unknowingly struck upon a great way to buy more books for himself, and began  a strange and wonderful career.

Since those early halcyon days, Ray Walsh has taken Curious Book Shop through multiple manifestations (and locations). In 1973 we moved to our current location, and have since offered information and enlightenment from our small (but sturdy!) spot at 307 East Grand River Avenue.

From its vantage point on the edge of MSU's campus, Curious has greeted 46 incoming freshman classes, has bid farewell to countless wizened graduates and gleefully welcomed back alumni on a regular basis.

We have provided shelter to writers and thinkers of all sorts, and have served as the setting for numerous first dates and marriage proposals. We have observed various political protests (and drunken sports celebrations), weathered the tenure of 9 MSU presidents (beginning with John Hannah in the late 60s), and hosted countless book signings and shows. We have watched with interest the evolution of the book industry and the growth of East Lansing.

Sparty's visage and that special shade of Spartan Green have changed a few times, but Curious remains the same. Over the years, Ray and the gang have paired innumerable books (and art, and comics, and more!) with happy new owners, and show no signs of slowing down.

In the past 46 years, this quiet bookshop has aged well. It's only 18' wide, but 100' deep - and there's 3 floors! Intriguing titles arrive daily; we've expanded our selection of new releases in hardback and paperback. The information held within these tomes is vast and awe-inspiring. Our shelves are brimming with books on an incredibly wide variety of subjects. There are fantastic stories for young and old; erudite texts for hardnosed academics; centuries-old books with beautiful bindings; worn and trusty classics in need of a new home.
We have it all, and now it's all on sale! 

Join us as we celebrate another journey around the sun, this being our forty-sixth circuit. Without the ongoing love and support from our local literary community, Curious simply would not exist.

Please accept our thanks and endless gratitude in the form of SUPER-MEGA SAVINGS... 

Here's to another year of bookish delights!

Many Thanks and Much Love,
Ray, Mark, Audrey and the Curious Gang

*Newsletter recipients may notice a date discrepancy, as the newsletter listed the move to our current location as a 1967 event. False! Sorry for the confusion.

** A happy coincidence - this is the 300th blog entry! 


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ray's Reviews: X by Sue Grafton

  “X” by Sue Grafton (Putnam, $28.95) is the 24th book in her popular, best-selling Alphabet mystery series starring California private detective Kinsey Millhone.

        Over the years, dedicated readers have enjoyed her entertaining novels, which began with “A is for Alibi”, back in 1982.

        Grafton’s latest dark convoluted tale covers two weeks in 1989, with Millhone getting involved in three odd cases that really aren’t connected.

        Initially, Millhone is hired by a wealthy woman who’s trying to find a recently released bank robber. Hallie Bettancourt claims that she is his birth mother; but it’s actually part of a distinctively devious plan.

        Millhone discovers that the woman is intentionally deceiving her, and uses a variety of clever methods to uncover the truth.

        A second sub-plot focuses on two new neighbors, an elderly couple who are taking advantage of Millhone’s landlord Henry. She has her own suspicions about them, but proving her theories becomes challenging.

        Millhone is also working without pay, trying to bring closure to a few unsolved cases left behind by Pete Wolinsky, a recently murdered private investigator who was an associate. She makes an unusual discovery; soon she is in danger, with a clever serial killer who’s determined to hide his past.

        “X” unfortunately, is a bit of a disappointment; at 401 pages it feels padded - almost as if an editor told her to throw in more description and add a hundred pages.

        The conflict resolution of the first sub-plot doesn’t seem exceptionally plausible, considering all of the anger issues and deception.

        Later, the author goes on at length about the California water shortage of 1989 and the problems of water-rationing. Although this may seem relevant when compared to today’s California water crises, it’s likely to bore all but the most determined readers.

        There’s considerably more action in the last 100 pages, but some readers may feel it’s too late, having dozed off frequently mid-book and really not caring that much about many of the characters.

        Grafton, whose father was a noted crime novelist, has only two more books to go before she completes her Alphabet mystery series.

         Her loyal fans will be waiting in line for her next releases, even if they’re titled “Y is for Yawning” or “Z is for Zombie”.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious book Shop, has been reviewing crime novels and Michigan 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 October 18, 2015.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Join us for MIDWEST'S LARGEST Antiquarian Book & Paper Show...

The Midwest's LARGEST show of its kind, the 62nd Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show, is coming to Lansing THIS SUNDAY!
If it's on paper you're likely to find it at the 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.

Book and paper dealers from eight states will offer over 160 tables of vintage, antiquarian and collectible books, magazines and paper items of all kinds! 

There is something for everyone, including first editions and signed books, children's and illustrated books, regional histories, noir mysteries, newspapers back to the Civil War (and before), original movie posters, WWII posters and sports collectibles galore.
Antique photographs, lithographs along with autographs. Vintage advertising art, framed prints, beautifully-detailed maps and so much more. You'll find things you always wanted but never new existed!

This family-friendly event is sure to be a wonderful experience for the WHOLE family. come for the entire day.

In addition to the countless paper treasures you'll see, guests are encouraged to sit and enjoy the live acoustic music

Lunch is a snap, too! Refreshments (drinks, salads, wraps, pretzels and more) are available from the Lansing Center's concessions stand.
When: Sunday, October 11th
9:30 AM to 5 PM (Sorry, no early admission)
Where: The Lansing Center,
333 E. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI
How: Admission is $5.00, children 13 and under enter free!

More Info: http://www.curiousbooks.com/shows.html

Please note that parking is not included. There are many parking options at and near the Lansing Center.

We're quite excited for the big show. Packing has begun, so please excuse the big gaps on our shelves in the coming days.

Also, keep in mind that 
Curious will CLOSE EARLY this SATURDAY, at 6pm.

The shop will be 
OPEN on Sunday from noon until 5pm, and the shop will be hoppin' with book show fans searching for extra deals. 

Curious will be CLOSED on Monday the 12th, for a much-deserved and very appreciated Staff Recovery Day.

We'll be full of pancakes and joy, 
back to our regular store hours on Tuesday, the 13th.

Many thanks for your continued support.
We'll see you at the show!

Ray, Audrey and the Curious Gang


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ray's Reviews: Walk in Light by Michigan Author Larry Neitzert

 “Walk in Light” by Morrice author Larry Neitzert ($15.95) is an intriguing self-published novel that’s set in a nameless rural small town near Lansing in the summer and fall of 1952.

        It’s likely to be a bit on the controversial side, as it deals with racial prejudice, bigotry and stressful relationships during challenging times.

        The entertaining, semi-autobiographical tale is evocative of Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” as well as Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

        It seems like an odd mixture, but Neitzert makes it work, smoothly capturing the atmosphere of the time, offering shifting narratives from viewpoints of innocents.

        Four young boys, Henry, Frederic Jacob, and Floyd are spending a seemingly idyllic summer - goofing off, playing and fighting with another.

        They perform farm duties, go to church and bible studies on Sundays and have created a couple of hideouts where they can get away from adult supervision,

        Soon they’re joined by a new neighbor, William, a black boy whose family is from Kenya. William quickly becomes part of their “gang”, helping them build a new tree house nearby.

        Conflicts arise when relatives and other church-goers don’t want to have anything to do with William’s family, even though his mother Sarah is now playing the organ at the church services.

        Bigotry abounds - the boys discover what the “n” word means and are distressed to hear it used frequently by angry townspeople.

        William’s father is living in Ann Arbor; he’s a minister who’s studying for a medical degree. William’s younger sister Elizabeth is shy; she’s fascinated by the young farm animals.

        When the boys are playing in the attic of the farmhouse, they make a puzzling discovery that leads to more disturbing questions. 

        The author is a polished storyteller, creating strong characters, flowing dialogue and an unexpected conclusion.

        Neitzert, who graduated from MSU, has taught for 40 years. He is an adjunct instructor in Social Studies, teaching history at Baker College in Owosso.

        The release of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” has raised interest of books dealing with racism. Neitzert’s novel is one of those rare self-published books that should catch the eye of a smart editor and get significant, deserving, national recognition.

        He has written two other books, “Maggie’s Farm”, a novel set at MSU in the late 1960’s, and “Barn Stories”, an enjoyable collection of entertaining tales.

        Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, 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 October 4, 2015.