Friday, August 12, 2011

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon & The Agony and the Ecstacy

Hello my faithful readers!

I am currently engrossed in The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon. 

This book was recommended to me by a friend whom I had loaned The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.
She is British and someone had given it to her.  She found it fascinating and gave it to me as I had just entrusted her with my books. 

I must say, this was not a book I would have chosen for myself.  I am into hardcore murder mystery. Or so I thought.  I discovered that I am just into excellent writing.  My favorites are definitely those with a criminal, a hanious crime and a sassy or macho detective on the scent.  But another book I read comes to mind as I report on The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon.  The writing is different, but I found it similar to The Agony and the Ecstacy, a biography of Michealangelo.  That was one amazing book. My upstairs neighbor lent it to me when I had run out of books to read.

I began The Agony and the Ecstacy and could not get past the first two chapters.  There were so many references in 1400 in Italian places.  I just had lack of mass or reality going on.  I could not continue.  That book sat on  my shelf for over a year as I read everything else I could find.  When I'd run out of books and money to buy more, I picked it up again determined to get through it.  I began googling things I didn't understand, such as maps of Italy and the like.  I looked up words and places.After that, I was hooked and could not put this book down.  I was so intrigued by the writer's depiction of Michealangelo and what he went through to learn his craft.  I was amazed at how an artists education could be supported at that time and how one must struggle in our day.  It fascinated me to no end.  I stayed up nights and was tired and late to work for four or five days while I spent every waking moment in it.

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is a totally different story, and one with much violence and hatred in it.  But it is set in a similar era and shows clearly the thought process of men in those times.  What happened to Jewish people then was so unthinkable.  There is also a murder mystery driving the story.  This manuscript was found in a wall of a home thousands of years old.  An author translated it and put it in a format modern readers could understand and enjoy.  The story itself is harsh for my taste, but intriguing nonetheless and I am now thoroughly involved.  I will not stop until I know all of the answers and understand what truly happened to these people so long ago.

I recommend the Last Kabbalist of Lisbon to any reader.  I have not finished it yet.  I will soon.  As I am so interested in it now, I felt compelled to reveal that interest prematurely so as not to keep you from yet another good read. 

Two books to put on your agenda have you not read them.
The Agony and The Ecstacy and The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon.

Feel free to comment to me or recommend any books you think I would like.
Thank you for reading!
Roxy Rich
Bibliophile, Author, Fashion Stylist and Stand-up Comic

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My latest read...

M.C. Beaton's Busy Body.  

Agatha Raison is back and at her best in this charming little murder mystery based in the Coswolds. It has everything I love in a book.  Honestly, I wish I lived there so I could know these characters.  James misses Agatha, several strange murders, Sir Charles Fraith at his finest with an interesting twist of behavior, Mrs. Bloxby, the clever vicar's wife, a slew of nasty little people and the introduction of a new investigator.  I couldn't put it down and am sorry I read it so fast because now it's over and I have to wait for Marion Chesney to write another one.  Fortunately, she's got a Hamish Mac Beth on the way in the fall.  Pick up one of these and you'll wind up reading the entire series!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kindle vs Book: A Controversy

I just finished reading an article in the online LA times entitled:  Kindle vs Books:  The Dead Trees Society

Some of the comments were unbelievable.
Here's the article.

Several weeks into December last year, my parents suggested I might like a Kindle for Christmas.

I was sitting in my room at school, and my eyes darted to the bookshelf on my left. From the silence on the line they could tell I wasn't enthusiastic; I muttered something about not needing another gadget, mostly because I couldn't find a way to shape my reluctance into words. The conversation was tactfully forgotten, and Christmas morning, as my grandmother happily unwrapped a Kindle, I found a Jonathan Franzen novel and a new pair of Ugg boots under the tree.

I've never used a Kindle. I've seen them in an over-the-shoulder sort of way — the sleek tablet design, the portraits of Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf that materialize on the screen like the work of a divinely inspired Etch A Sketch. Part of the reason I'm wary of picking one up is that I don't want to experience the inevitable lure, the wavering that might begin as I imagine myself pulling a Kindle out of my significantly lighter bag on the airplane, or in a coffee shop. Like the dieter who drives the long route home to avoid passing the Dairy Queen, I just don't want to be tempted.

And then there is my childhood habit of making books into companions. It isn't just about reading "A Wrinkle in Time" — it's about my copy of the novel, with its cover appropriately wrinkled from hours of bathtub steam. I delight in the number of cracks on a spine, the sheer volume of pages represented by the books on my shelves.

"It's like this," I explained to a friend one day after he told me the story of a beloved copy of T.C. Boyle lost by a careless borrower. "Video-chatting is nice enough — I hear your voice, see your face on the screen. But the screen isn't you. There's a reason our friendship isn't conducted through a laptop."

Books as I grew up with them — books with jackets and covers and paper and spines — have stories that reach beyond what's written inside, and those stories are mine. There's the paperback copy of "Fahrenheit 451," signed by Ray Bradbury when he came to my hometown bookstore (and which I consequently never returned to the library). There's the green advance galley of "The United States of Arugula," given to me in the first week of a magazine internship by a friendly boss and read entirely on the subway so fellow riders could observe my insider status (never mind that it had been in stores for five years). Then there's the bright blue, barely opened guide to Edinburgh, a gift from my father that sits on my shelf and stabs me with guilt for my last-minute decision not to study abroad.

These books have lives that have changed mine. If it weren't for the signature in that stolen copy of "Fahrenheit 451," I wouldn't have felt a personal responsibility for books and their authors, a conviction that led me to New York to study at the only university with a great books curriculum. If it weren't for the gift of that galley of "The United States of Arugula," I wouldn't have developed the friendship with my boss, a food editor, and that was what made me realize that exploring the place of food in our lives was what I really wanted to do. And if it weren't for the reproach represented by that "Directions" guide to Edinburgh, I probably wouldn't have abandoned the promise of a publishing job in the city after graduation to take my new passion for food to a farm in California and start the adventure I never had in Scotland.

In eliminating a book's physical existence, something crucial is lost forever. Trapped in a Kindle, the story remains but the book can no longer be scribbled in, hoarded, burned, given or received. We may be able to read it, but we can't share it with others in the same way, and its ability to connect us to people, places and ideas is that much less powerful.

I know the Kindle will eventually carry the day — an electronic reader means no more embarrassing coffee stains, no more library holds and renewals, no more frantic flipping through pages for a lost quote or going to three bookstores in one afternoon to track down an evasive title. Who am I to advocate the doom of millions of trees when the swipe of a finger can deliver all 838 pages of Middlemarch into my waiting hands?

But once we all power up our Kindles something will be gone, a kind of language. Books communicate with us as readers — but as important, we communicate with each other through books themselves. When that connection is lost, the experience of reading — and our lives — will be forever altered.

Sara Barbour, a recent Columbia University graduate, is an apprentice farmer in Santa Cruz. She blogs at

Jordan173 at 6:54 AM June 19, 2011
"Kindle books can't be shared"? Ummm... hello. I guess you haven't noticed the "Download 3000 e-books formated for kindle or ipad" torrents that make it easy and quick, not to mention free to share ebooks (yes I know it's illegal, I'm just pointing out some facts here).
Also, If you're clever, you can deregister you kindle, then register it to your friends' or account and then sync all their legitimately purchased books to your device. You then reregister it to your own account and POW! You get to keep all their SHARED books on your device! 
Good luck lugging around all your heavy old books and killing trees just so you can bend up some paper.

In intended to post a response to this comment, but in order to do that, I had to register and sign in, which meant at least one thousand more spams would show up on my e-mail doorstep.  Or, I could sign in through facebook, IF, I agreed to allow the application to e-mail me (including all of their affiliates)  access my facebook, post things on my facebook wall that I don't know about and I don't know what else.  Forget it.  You shouldn't have to pay with your privacy simply to comment or respond to articles online.  So I have included the article (with copywrite info) and two interesting comments from the site.

Here is my response to the above comment:

Just a cotton picking minute.
Making a book is killing trees?  What about the plastic in your kindle?  How how much oil did we siphon out of the ground to make hundreds of thousands of those?  How much radiation is it emitting?  Some day you'll find out that it causes cancer from whatever strange electronics are within it.  But it'll be too late for you.  You'll be dead already.  But your Kindle will LIVE ON!  As all plastic does.  Killing out sea-life and wild-life,  How many aeons will it take for that to biodegrade? Because you know people will simply throw the malfunctioning one into the garbage.  It won't be recycled.  Don't vilify a natural resource and commend another which has far more damaging consequences.  At least you can recycle paper or burn a book.  Plastic and electronics will be the death of the planet.  Argue what you will about the use of a kindle or how you prefer it to a book, but do not include the Tree Killer point because you lose hands down in the Preserve the Planet war between paper and plastic.

And no, it's not the same to transfer an electronic file to someone as it is to hand them a real book that you love and enjoyed so that they can enjoy it.
I'm with the author of the article.  No.  I don't want a kindle and never will.  A book feels better in my hand.  It smells good.  It looks nice on my shelf.  I can take a book anywhere
Books Rock and they don't harm the environment. I can plant a new tree!

This other commenter has a point in favor of Kindle.  Apparently, where she is, real books are difficult to come by.  So it's helped her tremendously.  

Sheridan at 8:05 AM June 18, 2011 I agree with all these feelings about the paper books, both hardbound and paperback.  No one has yet spoken about one of the Kindle's great advantages....downloading a book in 60 seconds.  This is probably because they have ready access to the paper.  I have lived in Argentina for 3 years now.  It took about a year to work through the books I brought with me and I began to seek out new sources.  It turns out the economic choice for me was to order a selection of books - up to 30 at a time, have them boxed and sent to me.  That would take about 2 1/2 months.  I did that for the last year and a half and then bought a Kindle.  You have no idea the joy that comes with instant trips to Buenos long waiting periods. I am a tax attorney who has prepared tax returns by hand for many years and then by computer.  Believe me, I don't miss the time and energy required to complete a return by hand as compared to the capacity to run a change in a return in less than a second.
The Kindle may not be perfect, but I can keep notes and can download to my Mac as well.  The experience has to get better and we will learn to compensate to keep the traits of books we appreciate. We live in the information age...we can search through books in an instant, we can buy them in 60 seconds.  Adapt yourself to the present.

My response?

Aside from the last few lines, which are a bit condescending, I understand her viewpoint.  If I could not access a paper book, I would be thrilled to have a kindle.    She's including typing, however as opposed to writing by hand, which is irrelevant.  Sara Barbour isn't talking about handwritten books in her article.  Save that debate for a different topic.

I'm curious what my readers think of this subject.  Please post a comment with your thoughts or questions.  You can also visit my website: for more information about me and links to my other blogs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shadow Prey

Another whammy from John Sanford. I'm off and running on his Davenport series.  It's a wild ride for anyone who likes thrillers.  I've just finished Shadow Prey, which was every bit as tantalizing as the previous books.  This one was full of gruesome details I'll never get out of my mind.  And yet, somehow, I want another one!  

I'm into Eyes of Prey and can't read it fast enough.  

Once I pick up a good book, I check to see if it's a series.  If it is, I go back to the first one and read them in order.  I'm delighted with Sanford!  Having finished off all Michael Connelly and all John Connelly, I was desperate for a new story.

I'm a murder mystery and thriller enthusiast, but that is not all I read.  I'm also a kid who is never growing up.  I've read the entire Fablehaven Series by Brandon Muhr.  Excellent!  Also, Harry Potter, Twilight and the Lightening Thief.  I highly recommend those if you have teens.

I'm in search of my next series.  
I hope you like these reviews and get some good reading out of them!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rules of Prey

I won't tell you how it ends.

What I will tell you is from the first page, I couldn't put it down.  I brought it to work, to bed, and everywhere else.  Forensics would have a field day because my DNA is all over this book.

John Sanford, author of Rules of Prey  grabs your attention and keeps it straight through page 362.  This is one of those situations where your mind starts to wander and think about all of the ways someone could snatch you.  How many times have I walked to my car unaware of watchful eyes?  I don't know.  I do know that although I never think of myself as a target, one cannot be to careful.  I don't want to live my life in fear, but  psychos do exist and one should simply be aware of that fact and stay prepared. Should I carry pepper spray?  Or mace?  A gun?  It is LA. Should I just stay home?  Nah. But the story has the reader contemplating, that is for sure.

Sanford tells both sides of this sordid tale of a serial killer.  He's methodical.  He's normal in appearance.  No one would ever suspect him of foul play.  Some people are obviously crazy.  Those are easy to pick out of a crowd by their dress and behavior.  But what about when it's just some average looking guy who is quiet and reserved?  He's right next to you and you have no idea.  I like to think I might.  I've done some other studies on detecting anti-social personalities.  No one wants to accuse someone of being evil, myself included.  If you're paying attention, however, there are subtle characteristics. Louis Vullion has them and no one is the wiser. On the outside, he's a lawyer.  Not even the court-room drama type.  One of those research guys. But still water runs deep. Perhaps as deep as the knife Vullion uses to flay his victims.

A slew of heinous crimes ensues throughout the city.  All directed at women and all completely without cause other than the insane cravings of a mad man.  Womanizer and hard-ass Lucus Davenport is on the scent.  It's a game of match-set which I thoroughly enjoy, being a chess player.  Any girl reading about Davenport is apt to have the equivalent of a female hard-on, while at the same time wondering whether or not she'd give in to his charms if she ever met him face to face.  He's a lying cheating bastard who is also incredibly smart, handsome,  rich, and not afraid to bust up some bad guy's nose if the man is stupid enough to cross him. Just my type.

Pick up a copy of Rules of Prey and settle in with a revolver by your side while you read.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reader's Thumb: Silent Prey

Reader's Thumb: Silent Prey: "Wow! I just discovered this little series by John Sanford. Ex-cop Lucas Davenport is pulled into an Internal Affairs type investigation of..."

Silent Prey

Wow!  I just discovered this little series by John Sanford.

Ex-cop Lucas Davenport is pulled into an Internal Affairs type investigation of the New York Police Department when he's called there because a serial killer he put away does a jail break.  This story is compelling and riveting.  

The murderer does the most heinous things to his victims.  As I read, I cover my mouth in a gasp!  And I wonder, what does it say about me that I can't put it down?  I'll tell you this, I'm watching my back.  I'm  sleeping with a light on, all the covers up to my eyeballs and a stun gun next to my bed.

Silent Prey has all the goodies:  Hardcore stalking, mystery, deception and bit of good sex.  Pick it up.  Someone left this book at a cafe when they were finished with it.  I was lucky enough to be the recipient.  Turns out, it's number four in a series, so I am off to the book store to get the first three and I can't wait!

Two thumbs up.  Happy reading.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Update!


I finished my book!  Originally entitled, Retail Feet, I have changed the name to something more suitable.  I continued to have people question if the name was F-E-A-T and that won't do!  The name of the book is now:
 Roxy does Retail!  How fun is that?  On my website:, you can read an excerpt from it and also see footage from my comedy show where I have gleaned material directly from the book.

On another note, I did my taxes and realized I had spent over two thousand dollars in 2009 on books.  Last year, I had to curb the addiction.  I began buying them used on e-bay and elsewhere instead of treating myself to Borders.  Oh dear, perhaps it is my fault they filed Chapter 11!  I felt like Alexander the Great;  "And she wept for there were no more books to conquer!"  I have read every book in my apartment and have simply run out of room to store them. I began re-reading them.  Interestingly, I am enjoying them again.  I have not re-read books in the past.  Once read, I place them neatly on shelves to admire.  I was surprised to discover that I could re-read a book and like it all over again.  I just finished book five of the Fablehaven series.  Seriously, anyone with teenagers must buy the entire set.  Um, and those of you forty year -olds who still like children's books!  I am currently on New Moon, book two of the Twilight Series.  Oh, the heartbreak!  Robert Pattenson was the perfect casting.  He looked very similar to the image I had created in my mind of Edward.  

That is all for now.  Thank you for joining me!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's the Haps?


I've been away handling some things.  Like finishing my book!  It's called Retail Feet: The Consumer's Guide to Boutique Shopping Etiquette.  Now, I need to get it published.  If any of you out there have a literary agent you would be willing to refer me to, please send me their info and a letter of recommendation.  

To see an excerpt from Retail Feet, go to my website and click the Roxy Author page.
I have the Full Book Proposal and Book ready and edited!  I'm so excited!!!

I am currently reading Silence.  Which is turning out to be a thriller.  I love it!  Just finished Deception on His Mind by Elizabeth George.  I love her Thomas Lynley series.  

More soon.  Think Big!  Retail Feet is an International Best Seller!!!!