So Long for Now…

I currently have the pleasure of taking on an assignment that will render Night Light Revue sporadic over the next few months. However, I will continue to tweet and post to the best of my ability. You can also catch my past and upcoming reviews on BookBrowse.

For any inquiries or comments, feel free to reach me through my contact page.

Happy Reading!

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

Lake Effect

My PhotoSi quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Such is the Latin translation of Michigan’s state motto in The Great Lakes Reader, a snappy little book of essays written by independent booksellers and librarians who reside in the five states that live and breathe the waters of the Great Lakes.

Having just returned from an extended trip to Pierport, I’m hard-pressed to properly articulate the beauty of this area in northern Michigan. Anyone who has shared the joy of waking to the majestic music of Lake Michigan knows her siren’s song. From cool calm to unending fury, those of us raised near the Great Lakes are repeatedly drawn back to these ubiquitous waters.

If you are a Michigander and feel like you just don’t qualify to weigh in on the matter, consider this tidbit from the The Great Lakes Reader – No point in Michigan is farther than eighty-five miles from one of the Great Lakes. That means that wherever you live the fickle temperaments of the lakes permeate your very existence, ultimately shaping our personalities, quirks, and behaviors alongside the ever-shifting tides.

The Great Lakes Reader: Essays on the States that Make the Great Lakes Great offers two essays from Michigan’s own. Bill Cusumano, the head buyer at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, offers up his thoughts in Tough Enough Michigan while librarian Justin Wadland keeps “coming home” in his humorous essay Michigan Left. More essays appear from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio – but for those you’ll just have to read the book. Link to Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association for more information.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Gruley Turns it Up in Starvation Sequel ‘The Hanging Tree’

Cover ImageBryan Gruley is back and, dare I say, better than ever with his Starvation Lake sequel, The Hanging Tree. Admittedly I had prepared myself for the potential let down that tends to trail a bang-up debut, but was instead gifted with an agile follow-up that will likely establish Gruley as a steady player in the genre.

Hockeyman Gus Carpenter is back on the rink and back on the job as the editor of the struggling Pine County Pilot. When he finds his second cousin hanging from the town’s famed tree in an apparent suicide, his reporter’s instincts tell him things are not quite as they appear. As Gus pieces together his cousin’s past he becomes, once again, the man Starvation Lake just loves to hate.

The Hanging Tree is ramped up in every way and the dialogue is at full tilt. Gruley seems more comfortable with his voice this time around and the result brings a hard core credibility to his characters both on and off the ice. Serving up social commentary with grit and righteous humor, Gruley gets his punches in while keeping up his mystery’s momentum.

No worries for those of you who didn’t catch Starvation Lake; The Hanging Tree stands firmly on its own. If you have read Gruley’s first in the series, the familiarity is an added bonus. A fast-paced read, The Hanging Tree moves from the still waters of Starvation Lake to the tougher tides of Detroit, leaving pure pleasure in it’s wake. Keep your eyes open for Gruley’s next book in the series, tentatively titled The Skeleton Box, which is expected to release next fall.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Info

NLR’s review of Starvation Lake

Return of the ‘The Big Burn’

DetailsI reviewed Timothy Egan’s book The Big Burn back in November, so it was pretty cool to visit the Bitterroot Mountains yet again in today’s Free Press article How a Devastating Fire Helped Rebuild a Nation. Link over to visit the three million acres in Montana and Idaho that were decimated in the biggest fire recorded in American history one hundred years ago. You can catch my Big Burn review from last year by clicking on NLR.

For those of you who love armchair travel, try following the authors of this article as they travel across America. You can find father and son team David and Benjamin Crumm at their site Read The Spirit as well as their American Journey posts on

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

‘Bad Things Happen’ with author Dolan at Borders in Ann Arbor

Cover ImageSorry for the last minute info but it’s not too late to catch Harry Dolan, author of the Ann Arbor hit Bad Things Happen this evening. Mr. Dolan will be appearing at Borders in Ann Arbor (Liberty Street location) for a reading and signing tonight, August 5th, 2010 at 7:00 PM.  As always, check all event details before heading out the door. For those of you who might have missed my review a few months back I have attached it below for your enjoyment.

It’s true that bad things happen, but are we supposed to enjoy them so much when they do? In Harry Dolan’s Bad Things Happen, half the fun is waiting out the next “bad thing” (of which there are plenty) while the other is enjoying the ride.

Bad Things Happen is…well…sexy. From the alluring, yet solitary main character David Loogan right down to the seductive college vibe of Ann Arbor itself, Mr. Dolan hooks you up with a delicious murder that fills you with a sweet, edgy unease. As his sultry characters glide in and out of focus, you are left wondering beyond wonder, who in the world can you trust?

After David Loogan becomes inadvertently involved with the mystery magazine Gray Streets, his quiet low-key life somehow slips into a sea of complicated suspicion. However, Mr. Loogan’s appeal lies in his subtle, easy dialogue and blithe manner towards all things homicidal.

As Loogan makes his way through the maze of Gray Street personalities in hopes of solving his friend’s murder, he encounters one Elizabeth Waishkey. Elizabeth is a cop who is also intent on solving the murder, but is saddled with the snag of distancing herself from the ambiguous Loogan, who is a promising prime suspect with each turn of the page.

As Waishkey works on Loogan, and Loogan works on his own, this shadowy tale is spun on pure Ann Arbor background, bringing about a well-deserved nod for this progressive midwestern pocket. Matched in sophisticated tones, Ann Arbor provides the perfect setting for Dolan’s sleek, hard-boiled fiction.

“Ann Arbor has the street life of a much larger city. When the weather is fair, and sometimes when it’s not, the sidewalks along State Street and Liberty and Main bustle with people:  hip, arty, confident people who walk to theaters and shops, bookstores and coffeehouses, who gather at sidewalk tables that spill out of restaurants.

David Loogan found them fascinating. He thought it must be the university that produced them. The university made the city more prosperous and young and good-looking. It gathered all these people to itself and then it sent them out into the city where they ate fine meals, and attended plays, and greeted one another on the street with hugs and cheery shouts and back-slapping.”

Bad Things Happen brings in the sharp, classic styles of other noir lit authors such as Raymond Chandler, whom is mentioned more than once in the book. But even if you are not a seasoned mystery reader (like myself) Harry Dolan’s seductive style easily translates. Mr. Dolan’s work is fun, and mentally unspools itself in close-up, pan-back fashion. Like a smooth, smoky Hollywood flick, Bad Things Happen definitely has movie rights potential, but for now I highly suggest kicking back and enjoying it just the way it is.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

August Titles Up for Release

There’s still a solid month left for lofty reading. Here’s a partial list of new titles releasing this month…

August 2

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

August 3

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley

I Curse the River of Time: A Novel by Per Petterson

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

August 9

City of Veils: A Novel by Zoe Ferraris

Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu

August 10

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Composed: A Memoir by Rosanne Cash

Blind Man’s Alley by Justin Peacock

The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo

Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

August 11

A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller

August 17

The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith

The Pindar Diamond by Katie Kickman

Crossfire by Felix & Dick Francis

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale

Turbulence by Giles Foden

Keeper by Andrea Gillies

The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan

August 24

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett

The Sonderberg Case by Elie Wiesel

Juliet by Anne Fortier

August 31

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen

The Insufferable Gaucho by Robert Bolano

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer