Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My second published review!!!

Hey y'all check it out: my review of Backswing by Aaron Burch was published today at Monkeybicycle! You can read it here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Welcome Austria!

This morning in Egypt I am delighted to welcome Austria to Texasbooklover. Willkommen!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Roundup! July 28 - August 3

Bookish events in Texas for the week of July 28 - August 3, 2014:

Special Events:

Texas Writers Exhibition, Montgomery County Memorial Library, August 1 - 31

Writer's League of Texas 2014 Summer Writing Retreat, Sul Ross State University, August 3 - 7

Monday, July 28:
Bookpeople, MysteryPeople Presents Bestselling Author ACE ATKINS speaking & signing The Forsaken, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Wendy Corsi Staub will sign and discuss The Perfect Stranger, 6:30PM

Tuesday, July 29:
BookPeople, Houston Author LACY JOHNSON speaking & signing The Other Side: A Memoir, 7PM

Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM
Every Tuesday night at Spiderhouse, poetry, score cards and cash prizes come together for an evening of competitive art.

B&N - Lincoln Park, Chris Tomlinson:Tomlinson Hill The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name - One White, One Black, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Ilona Andrews will sign and discuss the newest Kate Daniels novel, Magic Breaks, 6:30PM

San Antonio
B&N, San Pedro, Sun Poets' Society Open Mic Poetry, 7PM

Wednesday, July 30:
BookPeople, Acclaimed Debut Author EDAN LEPUCKI speaking & signing California, 7PM

The Wild Detectives, Anna Badkhen and The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village, 7PM

Brazos BookstoreChris Tomlinson - TOMLINSON HILL, 7PM

San Antonio
Liberty Bar, Book Swap Happy Hour with Gemini Ink, 5PM

Friday, August 1:
Inprint House, First Friday Poetry Reading: Billie Duncan, 8:30PM

San Antonio 
The Twig Book ShopDiana Lopez Reading from her book for young adults, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, 6:30PM

Saturday, August 2:
B&N - The Parks Mall, Patti Foster Author Signing Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering From Traumatic Brain Injuries: 101 Stories of Hope, Healing, and Hard Work, 1PM

BookPeople, Young Adult Author KATE ST. CLAIR speaking & signing Spelled, 4PM

B&N - Firewheel Mall, Reavis Z. Wortham Signing His Newest Book Vengeance is Mine A Red River Mystery, 1PM

B&N - Westheimer Crossing, romance authors C.L. Wilson, Kerrelyn Sparks, Gerry Bartlett and More, 2PM
B&N - North East Mall, Arianne 'Tex' Thompson: One Night in Sixes, 3PM

B&N, Meet Local Author: Jaime Perez - The Vacant Space, 3PM
San Antonio
B&N - La Cantera, Creating Heroes and Villains Discussion with Best-selling author and Marvel writer David Liss and Stoker Award winner Joe McKinney, 1PM

Gemini Ink, Go Local with Diana Lopez, 10AM

The Twig Book Shop, Bill White - America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse, 3PM

Viva! Bookstore, Book Signing and Lecture: Return of Sophia Mother of the Universe with Author Nancy Oates, 1PM

South Padre Island

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Roundup! July 14 - 20

Bookish events in Texas for the week of July 14 - 20, 2014:

Special Events:
Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Grapevine, July 18-20

Monday, July 14:
Bookpeople, Bestselling Author WILTON BARNHARDT speaking & signing Lookaway, Lookaway, 7PM

Corpus Christi
B&N, Brad Thor: Act of War (Scot Harvath Series #13), 7PM

Fort Worth
B&N - Hulen, Earl Swift: Auto Biography A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream, 7PM

Murder By the Book, Conn Iggulden will sign and discuss Wars of the Roses: Stormbird, 6:30PM

Tuesday, July 15:
B&N - Arboretum, Meet and Greet Book Signing With Carl Russo - The Sicilian Mafia A True Crime Travel Guide, 6PM

BookPeople, Acclaimed Author JAMES MAGRUDER speaking & signing Let Me See It: Stories, 7PM

Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM
Every Tuesday night at Spiderhouse, poetry, score cards and cash prizes come together for an evening of competitive art.

B&N - Stonebriar, Taylor Stevens: The Catch A Novel, 7PM

Blue Willow Bookshop, Juli Bauer and George Bryant will discuss and sign THE PALEO KITCHEN, 7PM

Brazos Bookstore, Wilton Barnhardt - LOOKAWAY, LOOKAWAY, 7PM

San Antonio
B&N, San Pedro, Sun Poets' Society Open Mic Poetry, 7PM

Gemini Ink, Literary Excursions with Bonnie Lyons, 6:30PM

Wednesday, July 16:
BookPeopleMysteryPeople Presents Acclaimed Author JAMES "BIGBOY" MEDLIN speaking & signing Slap Noir, 7PM

Resistencia BookstoreThe Ones Santa Anna Sold - A Reading and Book Signing with Raquel Valle-Sentíes, 7PM

Horchow Auditorium, Daniel Silva In conversation with Dr. Maxwell L. Anderson, 7PM

B&N - Westheimer Crossing, Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set Fantasy Roleplaying Fundamentals, 7PM

Murder by the Book, Brad Taylor will sign and discuss Days of Rage, 6:30PM

San Antonio
Trinity University—The Michael and Naomi Neidorff Gallery, Ishion Hutchinson Reading, 6:30PM

Saturday, July 19:
BookPeople, Bestselling Author CLINT RICHMOND speaking & signing Fetch the Devil: The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America, 4PM

Brave New Books, Katherine Albricht Live!, 7PM

Monkeywrench Books, Yard Sale (and lemonade!), 8AM

Lucky Dog Books - Oak Cliff, THE POETS ON X: A SUMMER SERIES with Christopher Carmona, Paul Konieki, Isaac Chivarria, and Ashley Wilkerson, 7PM

The Writer's Garret, "Getting Your Work Published" with Joe Milazzo, 12:30PM

Galveston BookshopErnie Deats will sign copies of his historical novel set in Dickinson in the late 1800s, The Last Karankawa, 2PM

D'Vine Wine of Granbury, TEXAS WINE & SIGN AUTHOR EVENT: Tessa Gray, R.E. Hargrave, Jeanne Mcdonald, and Jennifer Theriot will be converging on the small town of Granbury, TX for an afternoon of wining and signing!, 2PM

B&N - River Oaks, Undrai Fizer: The 365, A Personal Compass to Self Discovery & Enlightenment, 2PM

B&N - Vanderbilt Square, Solar Nova Author Panel: signings from local authors Brandy Truly (The Sonar Trilogy), Jacqueline Patricks (The Brajj) and K.M. Montemayor (The Circle), 2PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera, The Last Exhale by Julia Blues, 2PM

San Antonio
B&N - San Pedro, Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de numeros/ Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers Illustrator Discussion and Signing with Carolyn Dee Flores, 1PM

Viva! BookstoreZentangle in July at Viva, 10AM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre BoulevardLiterary Mercado, 1PM

The Woodlands
B&N - Mall, Marlin Lance: The Messiah Method Counseling System, 2PM

Sunday, July 20:
BookPeople, Austin Children's Author MICHAEL FRY speaking & signing The Odd Squad 3: King Karl, 4PM

Brave New BooksMisdemeanor Traffic Court Procedure w/ Eddie Craig From Rule of Law Radio, 2PM

Brazos Bookstore, Speak!Poet: Featured readers are Dulce “Digh” Veluthukaran and Jonathan Moody, 2PM

Jewish Community Center -- Kaplan Theater, Bestselling author Daniel Silva talk and book signing for his new release, The Heist, 11AM

Murder by the BookMighty Mississippi Book Blast: Lindsay Cummings will sign and discuss The Murder Complex, Rachel Harris will sign and discuss A Tale of Two Centuries, Kristi Helvig will sign and discussBurn Out, Julie Murphy will sign and discuss Side Effects May Vary, Philip Siegel will sign discuss The Break-Up Artist, and Paula Stokes will sign and discuss The Art of Lainey, 3PM

San Antonio
Gemini Ink, Mini-Conference: Transforming Communities Through Writing, 1PM

Half Price Books - Broadway, author A.K. Klemm will sell and sign her first novel in the Lilly Hollow Series: The Bookshop Hotel, 10AM

Half Price Books - Huebner Road, author A.K. Klemm will sell and sign her first novel in the Lilly Hollow Series: The Bookshop Hotel, 6PM

Half Price Books - North Central, author A.K. Klemm will sell and sign her first novel in the Lilly Hollow Series: The Bookshop Hotel, 1PM

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Welcome Brunei!

This morning I am delighted to welcome Brunei to Texasbooklover. Dialu-alukan!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache - a Trickster Tale

Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache - a Trickster Tale, told by Greg Rodgers
Illustrated by Leslie Stall Widener
Cinco Puntos Press
$7.95, 40 pgs

Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache - a Trickster Tale is the engaging Choctaw parable of lazy Chukfi Rabbit, the lengths he will go to in order to avoid work, and the consequences, too. Ms. Shukata Possum needed a new house. All of her friends have readily offered to help build her new home. But not Chukfi Rabbit, who cagily tries to get out of this chore for his friend until she tells him that she is making dinner for everyone who helps, including her famous, fresh homemade butter.

Well this changes Chukfi Rabbit's mind in a hurry and he eagerly agrees to help. When the day arrives everyone shows up to help and Chukfi Rabbit is there, too, but he pretends to be sick. While everyone else is working hard for their friend, Chukfi Rabbit has found the tub of fresh butter keeping cool in the creek. When Shukata Possum discovers that the butter is gone, Chukfi Rabbit discovers that selfishness, among other things, can separate you, literally and figuratively, from your friends.

Leslie Stall Widener's illustrations are classic and good-humored. The emotional eloquence of the animals' faces is a delight. Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache - a Trickster Tale is a retelling of a Choctaw fable and as such doesn't have an author, but rather a narrator. Greg Rodgers is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and frequently travels the country sharing stories at schools, libraries, festivals, and tribal events.

Chukfi Rabbit is the perfect tale to inspire the virtues, and teach the satisfactions, of community and teamwork in your little ones. Now I'm going to head for the post office and send my copy to my brand-new grandson.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Welcome Georgia!

This morning it is my privilege to welcome Georgia to Texasbooklover. Gamarjoba!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Welcome Panama!

Tonight I am delighted to welcome Panama to Texasbooklover.¡Bienvenidos!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Good Suicides

The Good Suicides, Antonio Hill 
Crown Publishers
$26, 352 pgs
 “He’d always found it strange that the Church condemned them irrevocably. There was no justification that might absolve those who killed themselves. There were no good or bad suicides. The same punishment was inflicted on them all, without exception and without taking their previous path into account. Taking one’s life was the ultimate sin. But if we don’t even have that, what is left to us? Héctor said to himself…”

SPOILER ALERT - continue at your own risk. So everyone’s read my review of The Summer of Dead Toys which was posted Saturday, July 5th, yes? Excellent. If you haven’t read that one yet then you really should because there will be a couple of spoilers in this review of the sequel, or more precisely the second in a series. 

Okay, The Good Suicides by Antonio Hill, translated from the Spanish by Laura McGloughlin, picks up the story of Inspector Héctor Salgado of the Mossos, Catalonia’s police force, approximately five months later. Ruth is still missing and there have been no clues as to what has happened to her so it seems as if she has simply vanished, ceased to exist in this dimension. Salgado is trying to function as a single father to Guillermo, still seeing his therapist, and attempting to adjust to his new partner, Agent Roger Fort. But don’t worry – Agent Castro is still here, just on maternity leave. See? I told you there were spoilers – go read the first book. Please and thank you.

The Good Suicides opens with just that, except probably not good: the suicide of a young woman on the tracks of the Barcelona underground metro. Agent Fort calls Inspector Salgado to the scene in the middle of the night and Salgado doesn’t understand why he’s there. It’s quite obviously a simple suicide. Right? Maybe not, some details nag, such as: Why does CCTV show the woman looking behind her as if she’s being pursued? And why is the woman’s cell phone reset to factory specs? In fact, there’s only one email containing a single line of text – NEVER FORGET. Curious, yes, but beyond frightening when the attachment turns out to be a photo of a tree festooned with the rigid bodies of three dead dogs. This suicide turns out not to be the first suicide and is quickly followed by a third and a fourth. All four have one thing in common – they all worked for the same company.

One of the things I appreciate about this new series is that it’s really rather old-fashioned. The stories are contemporary but the narrative structure and style recall Agatha Christie. In this age of no-detail-spared slasher flicks and derivative crime fiction that depends on the salacious misogynistic porn of abused and murdered women, it is a relief, and I am grateful, to have the gore merely implied. For example, the only reference to what must have happened to a body when run over by a train: “…he tried not to see the black plastic bags scattered over the track.” Very effective without shoving blood and guts in your face, yes?

Antonio Hill
The ensemble cast is back and they stay firmly and believably in character. This is the second thing I appreciate about Antonio Hill’s novels: his characters. This man writes very good women, which is regrettably rare, and every supporting player, protagonists and antagonists alike, is fully-fledged and complete, even the nut jobs. Unhealthy personalities interact in unpredictable ways but never in unrealistic ways.

In my review of The Summer of Dead Toys I told y’all that the subplot was unusual in that it wasn’t superfluous but actually necessary. That same subplot, tied to Ruth’s disappearance, continues throughout The Good Suicides. Agent Castro is bored to tears on maternity leave, waiting on the child to decide it’s time to say hello, so she begins to investigate Ruth’s case, to start over with fresh eyes. The bomb of a plot twist dropped on the last page, in fact the LAST SENTENCE, assures us that there will be a third Inspector Héctor Salgado novel. And Mr. Hill should be scribbling just as fast as he can.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Roundup! July 7 - 13

Bookish events in Texas for the week of July 7 - 13, 2014:

Special Events:

4th Annual Barrio Writers Program, Austin, July 7-11

Texas Library Association Annual Assembly, Austin, July 8-11

CantoMundo 2014 will convene at the University of Texas at Austin, July 10-13

Poetry Society of Texas 2014 Summer Poetry Conference: On the Wings of Poetry, Houston, July 10-12

Capital City Comic Con, Austin, July 11-13

The LexiCon Writers Conference, Denton, July 11-13

Monday, July 7:
BookpeopleMysteryPeople Presents NOIR AT THE BAR at OPAL DIVINE'S featuring: TIM O'MARA, DAN O'SHEA, & JONATHAN WOODS, 7PM

Tuesday, July 8:
BookPeople, MysteryPeople Presents Award-winning Austin Author JEFF ABBOTT speaking & signing Inside Man, 7PM

Monkeywrench BooksCollective Meeting, 8PM

Spider House Cafe & BallroomAustin Poetry Slam, 8PM
Every Tuesday night at Spiderhouse, poetry, score cards and cash prizes come together for an evening of competitive art.

Katy Budget Booksauthor Jamie McGuire signs Beautiful Oblivion, 6PM

Murder By the Book, Tim O'Mara will sign and discuss Crooked Numbers, 5:30PM

Murder By the BookJohn Sandford and Michelle Cook will sign and discuss Uncaged, the first book in their new young reader Singular Menace series, 7PM

San Antonio
B&N, San Pedro, Sun Poets' Society Open Mic Poetry, 7PM

Wednesday, July 9:
BookPeople, Bestselling Local Author SANDRA SMITH speaking & signing Choices, 7PM

Katy Budget Books, Storytime with Dee Leone: Bizz & Buzz Make Honey Buns, 10AM

Thursday, July 10:
B&N - Arboretum, Open Mic Poetry, 7:30PM

BookPeopleBookPeople & edible Austin Present Acclaimed Writer MARILYN MCCRAY
speaking & signing Canning, Pickling, and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way, 7PM

BookwomanSecond Thursday Open Mic featuring Elizabeth Kropf & Wade Martin, 7PM

Resistencia Bookstore, Peoples' Task Force: The New Jim Crow Reading Group, 7PM

B&N - Lincoln Park, Jeff Abbott: Inside Man, 7PM

Half Price Books - Mother Ship, New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor will sign and discuss his new book, Act of War, 7:30PM

University Park Public Library, Listen UP! Summer Author Series: Jojo Moyes - One Plus One, 7PM

Irving Public Library - Central Library, Spark A Reaction YA Author Panel with authors Julie Murphy, Veronica Rossi, Lisa Stasse, Sherry Thomas and John Corey Whaley, 7PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, book launch for Dear Elsa, letters from a Texas Prison by P.W. Covington, 2PM

Friday, July 11:
BookPeopleLOCAL AUTHOR NIGHT: Martha Louise Hunter -and- Sara Salih, 7PM

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Lorna Dee Cervantes & 11 other Latina/o poets reading, 8PM

Resistencia Bookstore, Cafe Libro Open Mic, 7PM

Blue Willow Book ShopJojo Moyes will discuss and sign her novel, ONE PLUS ONE, 7PM

Inprint House, First Friday Poetry Reading 39th Anniversary: G. Mark Jodon, 8:30PM

San Antonio
B&N - La Cantera, Gemini Ink Bookfair - Children's Book Authors
There's a Name for this Feeling: Stories/ Hay un nombre para lo que siento: cuentos, featuring Diane Gonzales Bertrand and Xavier Garza, 2PM

B&N - La Cantera, Gemini Ink Bookfair - Author ReadingsNothing Between Us, featuring Wendy Barker, Steve Kellman, Nan Cuba, Diane Lawson, Jenny Browne and Mobi Warren, 5:30PM

Saturday, July 12:
B&N - Arboretum, Terry McMillan: Who Asked You?, 3PM

BookwomanLIVE MUSIC with Brand New Key, 7:30PM

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, Rafael Campo & 12 other Latina/o poets reading, 8PM

UT Austin - Texas Union Building, 4th Annual Barrio Writers Live Reading, 1PM

B&N - Preston Royal, John Sowers Signs The Heroic Path, 2PM

El Paso
B&N - Fountains at Farah, Kseniya Melnik Author Signing Snow in May, 2PM

B&N - Sunland Park, Rebecca Jean Downey Signing Devil Eye, 12PM

Blue Willow Book ShopDebra Winegarten will discuss and sign her new biography of Oveta Culp Hobby, 12PM

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), Skill Set: Ekphrastic Poetry with Van Garrett, 12PM

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), Conceptual Poetics: Christian Bok, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Marjorie Perloff, 2PM

Katy Budget BooksToni DeMaio signs I'll Know You By Your Heart, 1PM

Irving Public Library - Central Library, Bloomin' Books: A Bookworm's Garden Party with authors Sherry Thomas, A. Lee Martinez and Jaye Wells, 2PM

B&N, There's a Dragon on My Bed by: Jay Fox, 12PM

Half Price Books, local author Susan Howell will sell and sign her spy thriller, Oil Rush: The International Tug of War, 1PM

B&N, Meet the Author: Juliza Tamez - Trixie and Dixie: The Mystery of the Missing Cape, 3PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Frontera Village, Author Signing: Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester, 2PM

San Antonio
Gemini Ink, Script to Screen with Carroll Cartwright, 10AM

The Twig Book Shop, Dr. Psalm, Cowgirl Amy and the Prayer Garden, 11AM

The Twig Book ShopNancy Oakes - Return of Sophia, Mother of the Universe, 3PM

Viva! BookstoreWatercolor Journal Pages with Enedina Vasquez, 10AM

Viva! BookstoreHow to Create a Life You Love NOW with Life Mastery Consultant and Coach Rita Mikel, 1:30PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre BoulevardLiterary Mercado, 1PM

B&N - Baybrook II, Poetry Society of Texas: Gulf Coast Poets monthly meeting, 10AM

Sunday, July 13:
B&N - Sunset Valley, Book Signing With Children's Author Linda Psalmonds: The Adventures of Cowgirl Amy, 1PM

Brave New BooksMisdemeanor Traffic Court Procedure w/ Eddie Craig From Rule of Law Radio, 2PM

Half Price Books - Mother Ship, Dr. Loretta R. McIntosh will sell and sign her latest book, Get the Good Out of Life: Extracting the Good from Every Circumstance of Life, 11:30AM

Half Price Books - Mother Ship, New York Times bestselling authors Juli Bauer and George Bryant will sign and discuss their book, The Paleo Kitchen: Finding Primal Joy in Modern Cooking, 7PM

Lucky Dog Books - Lochwood, MEET THE AUTHOR ANNE CHRYSTAL - Book signing and reading from her first novel, 2PM

The Wild Detectives, Summer Backyard Show, 6PM

Woodlands American Grill, 'The Sweet Spot' Brunch with Author Stephanie Evanovich, 12PM

Murder by the BookBrad Thor will sign and discuss Act of War, 2PM

San Antonio
McNay Art Museum, ARTS San Antonio In collaboration with Gemini Ink presents Carroll Cartwright, 2PM

The Woodlands
B&N - The Woodlands Mall, Ricci Casserly: Kathy's Adventures Author Signing, 2PM

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Summer of Dead Toys

The Summer of Dead Toys, Antonio Hill
Broadway Books
$15, 362 pgs
“No one has ever been killed out of love; that’s a fallacy from tango.” - Héctor Salgado
This story grabs you on page one and refuses to relinquish its grip. From the first page: “It’s been a long time since I thought of Iris or the summer she died. I suppose I tried to forget it all, in the same way I overcame nightmares and childhood fears. … I’m six years old, I’m at camp and I can’t sleep because I’m scared. No, I lie. That very early morning I behaved like a brave boy. I disobeyed my uncle’s rules and faced the darkness just to see Iris. But I found her drowned, floating in the pool, surrounded by a cortège of dead dolls.” Yeah, try to shake that image. Good luck to you.

Today I am genuinely excited to introduce y’all to a major new talent in the American literary market. The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill, translated from the Spanish by Laura McGloughlin, is the American debut of a bestselling thriller from Spain. Inspector Héctor Salgado, Argentine by birth, is a veteran of the Mossos, Barcelona’s police force. An intelligent man with a dry wit, he carries a sense of melancholy and bewilderment – his wife Ruth has left him for another woman and taken their son Guillermo with her, though they have maintained goodwill, even love, for each other. Salgado has been on leave from the force due to a rare violent incident in which a brutality complaint was lodged against him by a suspect in a Nigerian sex-trafficking ring. Hey – who can blame him? You handle the case of a particularly nasty suicide by one of the underage victims and then you can argue with the inspector.

Salgado’s first case when he returns appears at first cursory glance to be a simple matter of an accidental death: 19-year-old Marc Castells’ body was found on the paving stones below his attic window, where he’d been known to enjoy a last cigarette before bed, following a night of partying on the eve of San Juan. From the beginning something about this case tweaks Salgado’s radar and that was before everyone in Marc Castells’ orbit begins receiving mysterious emails from someone who signs his- or herself “alwaysiris.” In order to get to the truth of what happened to Marc Castells, Salgado will have to travel back in time to solve Iris’s death and sort fact from fiction, supposition, and prejudice involving issues of economic privilege, right-wing politics, the Catholic church, and a cult of personality inspired by a particularly charismatic classmate of the victim.

Antonio Hill
One of the many delights of The Summer of Dead Toys is the depth of its characters. Inspector Salgado is our main protagonist but the supporting characters are so well-developed that this is really an ensemble cast. Leire Castro, Salgado’s new partner, is particularly intriguing – young and new to the force, she is a thoroughly contemporary woman working in a hidebound, traditionally male career. In less-skillful hands Agent Castro might be a trope but Antonio Hill has breathed real life into her. Hill’s plotting is intricate but never convoluted, his pacing relentless, the clues expertly and precisely placed. And you know how the inevitable subplot is so often a trifle, a mere distraction, but somehow assumed to be necessary? Not so here. The subplot here is necessary.

Go immediately to your local indie bookshop and start reading The Summer of Dead Toys today. Why? Because the sequel, The Good Suicides, was released in June AND I’ve got it right here in my hot little hands. I know! I was delighted, when I liked this one so much, to know that I didn’t have to wait to dive back into Salgado’s Barcelona and hang out with Agent Castro again. By the time you finish the first installment, I’ll have the review for the sequel ready for you. Look for the review of The Good Suicides in a few days right here!

Welcome Chile!

This morning I am delighted to welcome Chile to Texasbooklover. ¡Bienvenidos!

Friday, July 4, 2014

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident..."

238 years ago today the United States of America was born. We are still working on the concepts in Mr. Jefferson's revolutionary document - we are a work in progress. The always excellent Diane Rehm Show had a great episode on the Declaration yesterday and you can listen to it here. Happy 4th of July!

Action of Second Continental Congress,
July 4, 1776. 
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of 

WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pre-tended Offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized Nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Catch

The Catch, Taylor Stevens 
Crown Publishers
$24, 368 pgs

Vanessa Michael Munroe is back in The Catch, Taylor Stevens’ fourth novel. I have reviewed this series for Crown Publishers since its debut and The Catch is worthy of its predecessors. After the overwhelming events of The Doll, Munroe has fled to the relative quiet of a backwater in Djibouti, signing on as a linguist and fixer for a maritime security team (read “mercenaries”). You know – tasks she can perform with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. Of course, this vacation doesn’t last long.

Munroe discovers that the ship for which they are providing security is transporting more than rice as the captain deliberately diverges from their course and into Somali waters. Pirates turn out not to be the only problem, just the most immediate. Curiously, the pirates are apparently under orders not to harm the captain and this appears to be no random hijacking. What do they want with the captain? And what will happen when Munroe escapes to Mombasa with the captain in tow?

Once Munroe arrives back in civilization, such as it is, and delivers the unconscious captain to a hospital, she is free to leave this debacle behind her. Right? Free to go home or to Timbuktu (which is closer). But if you’ve read the first three books then you know that Munroe’s finely honed sense of justice won’t allow her to leave that ship out there, her team and the crew hostage. The plan to save the day is complicated and intricate and a thing of beauty.

Taylor Stevens
The Catch has a slower pace than The Doll, the third volume in the series. Nothing happens quickly in the somnolence of equatorial Africa and that includes the climax of this tale which takes up eight chapters – almost sixty pages. I believe I described The Doll as beginning like a thoroughbred out of the gate at Aqueduct. This one is more like a big cat stalking you – a twig snapping in the jungle, a slightly darker shadow in your peripheral vision. Stevens tunes the tension, winding you tighter and tighter, until you think something just might snap. Munroe is, as ever, a unique character in the suspense/thriller genre. USA Today compared her to Ludlum’s Jason Bourne and I would have to agree wholeheartedly. Now that’s a thought: Munroe v Bourne. I don’t know who I’d put my money on.