Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In this debut mystery, Jamaica Wild, an agent with the Bureau of Land Management, witnesses a Tanoah man being trampled to death by stampeding buffalo. Was it an accident? Suicide? Foul play?
Wild Indigo by Sandi Ault
" Native American Jerome Santana is trampled to death by stampeding buffalo when he enters their pen. The only witness is Bureau of Land Management agent Jamaica Wild, who is studying Pueblo ways under the mentorship of Momma Anna, Jerome's mother. Soon the Tanoah Pueblo people blame Jamaica for Jerome's death, and it quickly becomes clear that she and her wolf puppy, Mountain, are marked for death by witchcraft. Jamaica must navigate her way in an unfamiliar culture to find the truth. Reviewers and readers will draw parallels between Ault's enlightening, well-researched debut, set in northern New Mexico, and the mysteries of Tony Hillerman, Nevada Barr, and Aimee and David Thurlo; this is fine because she is that good." ~ From Library Journal Review
This passionate and timely debut is about mothers and daughers, roots and exile, from the remote mountains and riotous streets of Iran to the rain-soaked suburbs of London.
The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther
"Maryam is the willful daughter of an Iranian general who backed the Shah of Iran during the (U.S.-backed) 1953 coup that toppled Iran's prime minister, Mossadegh. In the midst of the turmoil, and with the threat of an arranged marriage hanging over her, Maryam is sheltered one night by her father's trusted assistant, Ali, a young man near her age—16—for whom she feels a shy attraction. And though still a virgin the next morning, their feelings for each other are clear. Maryam is sent away by her aloof father ("she is no daughter of mine"), a painful memory that, decades later, shatters her settled marriage to an understanding if pained British husband, and bewilders and angers her own daughter. A 40-year separation from Ali and a tender reunion in a remote village are just a few turns of the intense plot, full of tragic coilings and romantic passion, that make this a wonderfully intricate debut novel. Crowther, daughter of a British father and an Iranian mother, powerfully depicts Maryam's wrenching romantic and nationalistic longings, exploring the potency of heritage and the pain of exile." ~ from Publisher Weekly Review

Friday, January 05, 2007

As a former editor at Hong Kong's largest weekly newspaper, Evans thought she knew China well. When she learned the Chinese had built enough new roads to circle the equator 16 times, she decided to take a fresh look at this vast nation.

Fried Eggs With Chopsticks by Polly Evans

"British travel writer Evans (It's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels) takes an extremely courageous solitary trip around the People's Republic of China, traveling by train, bus, boat, airplane, automobile, bicycle, and mule. Her book begins as she stares at the cadaver of Chairman Mao on display in Beijing, then spins the yarn of all the trouble his personal physician had with the embalming, comparing it to similar processes with Lenin and Stalin. Evans learns a little Chinese before her trip and knows a resourceful couple in Shanghai who have a travel business, but she is pretty much on her own as she ventures out into this exciting, mysterious country. She endures the excruciating Chinese massage of gua sha, in which the masseuse scrapes her back with a flat implement, a process that almost immediately cures her miserable cold; journeys through and gets lost in the bustling streets of modern Shanghai; and ventures into small villages that have not changed in years. She stays in modern hotels and on one occasion finds herself in a hotel for prostitutes. Her tales are amusing and truly fun to read, and the book gives readers a firsthand look at the world's most populous nation." ~ Library Journal Review

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner

"In writing a children's book highlighting the commonalities among the Abrahamic religions, Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, sought Christian and Jewish collaborators. She was joined by Episcopalian-turned-Catholic Suzanne Oliver and Jewish children's book writer Warner, who both came to realize they needed to deal with their own questions, stereotypes, and concerns before starting the book. After several meetings, the trio's relationship and project seemed in jeopardy, but they painstakingly worked through their differences, accompanying one another at significant times to each of their places of worship, reading one another's Scripture, and supporting one another's doubts and fears. In the process, the women developed a strong bond that strengthened the way each practiced her own religion and moved them all toward deeper commitment to interfaith dialog, to justice, and to one another. This book, which concludes with suggestions to readers for forming their own Faith Club and includes sample questions for thought, is a documentation of Idliby, Oliver, and Warner's discussions, debates, and reflections. The world needs this book or others very similar!" ~from Library Journal