January 23, 2014 - Australia

While I was on vacation, the new books really stacked up - especially those that deal a bit with New Year's Resolution. My personal observation, after years in the book business, is that more diet books are published in January than during any other month of year. Here is the executive summary of my vacation: Met my nephew in LaCrosse and we flew to Minneapolis. There was a leisurely layover but our plane was late getting in and then there was a "check latch light" that kept us on the runway for about 45 minutes. We got into Dallas late and were met by a Qantus Airline representative with hotel room and food vouchers - even though our plane to Sydney (Australia) didn't leave for 20 minutes. We made it to the gate just as they closed the plane and they wouldn't let us on. We spent a boring day in Dallas at a nice hotel with no luggage - but a brand new toothbrush—because our luggage made it on the plane. We flew out to Sydney the next evening (only one flight per day) via Brisbane. We were taking a cruise out of Sydney and of course that ship had sailed so we were re-routed to Melbourne to intercept the ship when it got into port. Our luggage however went to Sydney - so another night in a very nice hotel - with only our backpacks and a day-old toothbrush. We met up with the ship in Melbourne and had a wonderful time in Tasmania, Fiordland National Park, Port Chalmers, Akoroa, and Auckland. Unfortunately, there was an outbreak of flu on board ship which required increased sanitation methods. Unfortunately, these methods didn't keep my nephew from getting the flu on our last day of vacation - which he spent shivering and sleeping. It was 100 degrees when we got off the plane in Brisbane and mostly in the 60s during the rest of the trip. First light was before 6 a.m. and last light was about 9:30 at night. It was early summer there and everything was green and lush. More details may appear in coming weeks. I still don't know what day it is and this cold and these short days are disconcerting to say the least! Anyway, there are lots of new books to get you through this next cold snap. Enjoy!

  • cover art The death trade / by Jack Higgins. When an eminent scientist makes a startling breakthrough in nuclear weapons research only to have the lives of his family threatened if he does not give his technology to the Iranian regime, Sean Dillon, Afghan war hero Sara Gideon and the rest of their team embark on a daring rescue mission that rapidly spins out of control.
  • cover art Hazardous duty / by W.E.B. Griffin. When three U.S. tankers are hijacked by Somali pirates at the height of Mexican drug cartel violence in Laredo and El Paso, a vindictive U.S. President raises suspicions about his increasing instability by targeting forcibly retired Colonel Charley Castillo and his former team, many of whom have been forced into hiding.
  • cover art The Rome prophecy by Sam Christer. Investigating the claims of a blood-covered woman who is searching for a mystical amulet hidden in the streets of Rome, former priest Tom Shaman is targeted by powerful religious enemies at the same time the woman's deadly visions begin to come true. By the best-selling author of "The Stonehenge Legacy".
  • cover art The Unwelcomed Child / by V.C. Andrews. Raised in seclusion by fundamentalist grandparents who claim she is an evil product of her mother's sinful mistake, teenager Elle Edwards finally learns the truth about her conception and struggles with profound feelings of insecurity while pursuing a relationship with a vacationing boy.
  • cover art Andrew's brain / by E.L. Doctorow. A deeply psychological tale by the award-winning author of "Billy Bathgate" recounts the experiences of Andrew, who confesses to an unknown recipient the memory- and truth-challenging events, loves and tragedies that have led him to a mysterious act.
  • cover art Before I Burn by Gaute Heivoll. A terrorizing month of arson and suspicion in a 1970s Norway community ends in the christening of a young boy named Gaute Neivoll, whose youth is shaped by the time of fear and fire until, as an adult, he begins to retell the stories of his neighbors while gradually discovering the identity of the arsonist.
  • cover art On such a full sea / by Chang-Rae Lee. A tale set in a class-divided future America where urban neighborhoods function as labor colonies for elite charter villages, Fan, a female fish-tank diver, embarks on what becomes a legendary quest to find the man she loves in a region overcome by anarchic forces. By the award-winning author of "Native Speaker".
  • cover art The way of all fish : novel / by Martha Grimes. A sequel to "Foul Matter" finds writer Cindy Sella struggling with writer's block and a lawsuit by her unscrupulous former agent, L. Bass Hess, who is targeted by bumbling hitmen Candy and Karl's zany efforts to drive him out of New York City.