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Susan Winlow

Gritty thriller honors local policewoman/artist, her sister

Have you ever seen Suisun City mentioned multiple times in a mainstream book published by one of the “big houses?” Incidentally, by an author who has lived in Japan for more than two decades? Me either – until I picked up Barry Lancet’s thriller “Pacific Burn” from Simon & Schuster to review for my Daily Republic book […]

Melanie Benjamin novel revisits Capote’s ‘La Cote Basque 1965′ debacle

When I set out to read “The Swans of Fifth Avenue,” a novel about the rise and fall of Truman Capote and his socialite friends, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Just what type of book was this? Fiction? Nonfiction? A weird hybrid using imaginative scenarios with real people, but a handful of […]

NY Times writer brings poignant, personal look at women in Middle East

Katherine Zoepf offers two things in her upcoming book, “Excellent Daughters:” The New York Times freelance writer gives ordinary Muslim women in the Middle East a chance to tell their stories and she allows readers a true glimpse inside the world of Muslim women as many attempt to tackle the balancing act of remaining a devout Muslim while also emerging […]

Tidbits from the book world

Happy New Year! I’ve been reading a lot of interesting tidbits from the book world recently. I decided to compile several of them and provide links in order to share. I also want to share some of the websites, and Facebook pages, I visit on a regular basis. It’s fun reading! Enjoy! Would you like […]

January 01, 2016 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

A look inside the life of Mafia hitman Gregory Scarpa

“Linda, I want to kill your husband, but I need your permission. I don’t want you to live with the guilt.” Gregory Scarpa Sr. Such is everyday life it seems in the Colombo Mafia crime family where killings, beatings and opulence were (are still?) a fact of life. Readers get a glimpse into the life […]

December 27, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Cozy mystery features celebrity chefs, with a little death on the side

Eccentric and over-the-top celebrity chefs play a starring role in Liz Mugavero’s new cozy who-dun-it, “Murder Most Finicky.” This is the fourth installment in the Pawsitively Organic series about a former public relations person who tosses away her big-city life for one of baking organic animal treats for a living in the small, quirky town of […]

December 13, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

The ‘best of’ 2015 books helps to grow that to-be-read shelf

The 100 Most Notable Books of 2015 by The New York Times came out this week. As I figured, I hadn’t heard of most of them, but one title in particular made the rest of the blank slate all worthwhile. I was thrilled to see Sascha Arango’s “The Truth and Other Lies.” With encouragement from a […]

December 04, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Gem of a story idea featuring Ireland, ‘The Rock,’ never reaches full flight

Certain book buzz words get me going: epic, saga, Alcatraz and Ireland being a handful. When I heard about “The Edge of Lost” by Kristina McMorris, with its picture of Alcatraz on the cover, and heard those buzz words in conjunction with the tome, I immediately wanted to read it. Like many in the Bay […]

November 22, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Latest Pendergast novel engrossing tale of shipwreck, theft, murder

When I volunteered at the Friends of the Library bookstore in the Fairfield Civic Center Library branch, a fellow volunteer encouraged me to read Preston and Child, knowing my love of mysteries and thrillers. I even came so close as to put “Relic” in my stack of “take home” books, but then had second thoughts and put it […]

November 09, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Agatha Christie, recipes and learning to love again, another way

Did you know that Agatha Christie includes recipes in her classic mystery tomes? No? Well, neither did I. I’m constantly amazed that famous classic authors whose books are also on screen and television aren’t more readily well-known. I’m not talking about the popular author of the moment – the ones we book lovers know; the ones where […]

November 06, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

‘Gumshoe’ mixes grit with humor; Sam Spade meets Columbo

Film Noir. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, or maybe Sam Spade. The humor of goofy television detective Columbo. And the voice of Jack Webb’s Joe Friday on “Dragnet.” They all equal “Gumshoe” by Rob Leininger, an author I’d never heard of, but one whose book zipped right to the top of my favorites list after reading 20 pages. […]

October 25, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Stunning backgrounds, descriptors show Morton’s bird’s-eye view

Australian author Kate Morton has the supreme talent of taking readers away from their couch, away from their comfy bed, wherever the reader is, and putting them smack, dab in the center of the lives of her characters. Think: “Calgon, take me away.” Morton’s descriptors and writing style transport the reader and allow the reader to visually “see” the setting, […]

October 11, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Celebrate freedom to read with Banned Books Week

I spent the past few days digging through boxes and boxes of stored books in honor of Banned Books Week, which ends Saturday. Banned books are defined as those actually removed from one place or another, be it a library, school or bookstore. A challenged book is the attempt to remove or restrict the book. My […]

October 02, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Step into the crazy world of Sniegoski’s Remy Chandler

Welcome to Remy Chandler’s world. I stepped into his world, and hurtled and scooted through many others, when I picked up the soon-to-be released book “A Deafening Silence in Heaven” by Thomas E. Sniegoski. It’s a confusing place to the uninitiated. God, Lucifer, demons, other-world assassins, Bone Masters, fallen angels, goblins, Nephilim whores, archangels and even Samson; yes, Samson […]

September 27, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Softcore thriller ‘Saving Sophie’ offers glimpse into Israel’s West Bank

After reading the back cover of “Saving Sophie” by Ronald H. Balson, I was excited to dive into the book. The book’s varied plots played out against myriad different backdrops: Hawaii, Chicago and two places that have held intrigue and interest to me for years, Israel and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The story […]

September 13, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Greed? A good deed? Many authors continue to ‘write’ from the grave

I gravitated immediately to the book cover of “What Pet Should I Get?” I was walking through some unremarkable big-box store last month while on vacation in Southern California and was instantly hit with that feeling of childhood nostalgia as I gazed at the colorful characters, their poses, their facial expressions so reminiscent of my […]

September 04, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

‘X’ marks the almost-end to Sue Grafton’s long-running alphabet mysteries

Father Xavier. Teddy and Ari Xanakis. XLNT International Shipping plus assorted other companies owned by Ari Xanakis. Bank of X. Phillips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an abundance of that letter in a book before, or perhaps I was just hyperaware because I was reading “X” by Sue Grafton, the latest in the […]

August 23, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Best-selling Weiner hits another high note with latest release

I am a Jennifer Weiner fan. When “Who Do You Love” popped up on NetGalley as an available book for reviews, I jumped at it. “Fly Away Home,” “Best Friends Forever” and “Certain Girls” are top favorites. So of course, I was prepared to enjoy “Who Do You Love” just as much, and I did. But […]

August 09, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Read to your children, one day, in some form, they’ll thank you

Allegedly, an all-important word, 70 percent of adults in the United States have not been in a bookstore in five years and 80 percent of U.S. families in the past year did not read or buy a book. That means only 20 percent of children are being read to at bedtime, or any other time. […]

August 07, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

No, no, no: There will be no ‘biddy’ words in my future

If I hear the word “biddy” or any derivative of, in the near future, I will likely turn into one of those cartoon characters with the scary rolling eyes doing an eventual face plant on the ground. Author Vicki Kuyper in her “A Tale of Two Biddies” went for a gimmick, I get that, but it was […]

July 26, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Brennan back to piecing together bones in new Reichs thriller

“Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me. Please. Kill me.” So ends the first chapter of the new Kathy Reichs book “Speaking in Bones” that introduces the reader to a new kind of civilian detective, the amateur Web sleuth who combs Internet databases to put together pieces of unsolved crimes. The words are chilling, as is […]

July 12, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Searching for contemporary children’s reads with a yesteryear vibe

Welcome to the worlds of Calpurnia Tate, Neil, Owen and Liz Maloney, and Kirby and Bitsy Mellen. Fictional book children with one thing in common: They’re relatively wholesome individuals with some uniquely funny quirks but rest easy, they’re not vampires, werewolves, changelings or evildoers with a dark streak. Don’t get me wrong, I had my paranormal […]

July 03, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Book lover’s story delves into emotional frailty with vivid French backdrop

“The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George surprised me. I thought I was going to be reading some type of women’s fiction – that is a genre, of sorts, by itself; and I suppose some might lump this book into that category but to me, it was a reversal of that genre in that it was about […]

June 28, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Gritty thriller takes reader through mind of a psychopath

Henry Hayden is a pretty cool person. A little lazy, a little lost, but overwhelmingly a pretty swell guy. Not. “The Truth and Other Lies” by Sascha Arango, a German screenwriter, is one of those psychological thriller books that is hard to review. If I delve too much into Henry the person, then I’m spoiling the entire nice-guy […]

June 14, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

College leader closes in on Peralta chancellor position

FAIRFIELD — Jowel Laguerre, the superintendent-president of Solano Community College, is in contract negotiations with Peralta Community College District to become chancellor of the four-institution district that includes College of Alameda plus Berkeley City, Merritt and Laney colleges. Laguerre said he could be in place in the Peralta district by mid-July – barring unforeseen issues with […]

June 11, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

School trustees look to approve admin raises, new contract

FAIRFIELD — The school district’s board of trustees on Thursday will consider approval of 3.75 percent raises for three top administrators and the new two-year employment agreement with an annual beginning salary of $177,125 for Rona Portalupi, the new assistant superintendent of educational services. The outgoing Fairfield-Suisun School District assistant superintendent of educational services, Malcolm Butler, tendered his […]

June 10, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

District partnership to increase elementary computer science instruction

FAIRFIELD — A partnership between the Fairfield-Suisun School District and the nonprofit Code.org to increase K-5 computer science instruction and offer professional development, support and curriculum will take effect in September, the school district recently announced. Code.org is “dedicated to expanding computer science education by making it available in more schools and increasing participation by […]

June 10, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

Armijo’s purple and gold sets sail for success

FAIRFIELD — The colors of purple and gold were the hues of success at Armijo High School’s graduation Friday evening.

The 458 seniors, soon-to-be-graduates, made an impressive entry as they traversed the length of Brownlee Field to their seats amid the screams of various names from friends and family, along with the occasional air horn sound from the stands.

Three valedictorians, Mark Vincent Go, Jason Less and Timothy Liu, gave uplifting speeches of encouragement, as did student body president Lauren Seabrooks, who talked about saying hello to the new chapter in their lives.

“For some of us this journey at Armijo has been the best years of our lives. others can’t wait to get out,” Seabrooks said. “Although we have …

Buckingham sends grads out into world with class

VACAVILLE — The future beckoned Friday morning at the doorsteps of The Mission for 115 students from Buckingham Charter Magnet High School. Once through the doors after graduation, they were on their way to the rest of their lives. But first, there were some tears, hugs and laughter as the soon-to-be graduates sat in their maroon caps […]

June 06, 2015 | Posted in Education | Tagged ,

How a technological illiterate created a blog: Tenacity, perseverance

I was a little flustered and a lot embarrassed at how much help I needed setting up my book blog. I wouldn’t call myself technology savvy but I’m not a dolt, either, and can usually figure out things. Now, I did decide to buy my own domain name and self-host with HostGator using WordPress.org, which had an even […]

June 05, 2015 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,
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