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Monday, September 24, 2018

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way and If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

In 1986, Beth and Doug are so grateful to finally have a child after years of trying, but by the time little Hannah is a toddler, Beth knows that something is not right.    

In 2017, Clara wakes up to the realization that her partner Luke failed to come home.  Unable to get in touch with him because he had forgotten his cell phone, Clara knows he would never willingly abandon the job interview scheduled for that day.  

Although police are initially reluctant to get involved since Luke is a grown man and has not been missing long,  they realize this disappearance may be serious when messages from a stalker are revealed.  Luke had laughed them off,  now, however,  the messaged threats take on an even more menacing aspect.

As it becomes increasingly obvious that Luke is in danger, Clara tries to find out why Luke has been taken.  Some of what she turns up is not to Luke's credit, but Clara is persistent in her attempts to find out who may have been behind Luke's disappearance.

Moving back and forth in time from 1986 to the present, the story unfolds in both expected and unexpected ways.  The prologue gives a convenient prediction, but making things fit together is difficult because the author withholds enough information to keep the reader from fully understanding the overall situation.  The picture is there, but not all of the pieces are available.  

There is resolution, but the conclusion is ambiguous...almost as if leaving an opening for a sequel?  Although "bad seed" characters are interesting, I don't know that I'd follow up on this one.

Read in July; blog post scheduled for Sept. 24.

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing

Psychological/Mystery.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  385 pages.  

If You Ask Me is a collection of advice articles Eleanor Roosevelt wrote over a period of twenty years.  Interesting for a number of reasons:  human problems and questions are remarkably similar regardless of the era;  Mrs. Roosevelt took each question seriously and responded with insight and kindness no matter the topic; common sense and civility are in each response.  

"Covering a wide variety of topics—everything from war, peace, and politics to love, marriage, religion, and popular culture—these columns reveal Eleanor Roosevelt’s warmth, humanity, and timeless relevance."

NetGalley/Atria Books

History/Advice.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  272 pages.

Just read this article:  In the Time You Spend on Social Media Each Year, You Could Read 200 Books.

Friday, September 21, 2018

One Thing Leads to Another...Espionage Books

Ben MacIntyre has a new book:  The Spy and the Traitor:  The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, and I want it.

The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

Another MacIntyre book from the Cold War period is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.   This one has on my mind since recently reading Kate Atkinson's Transcription. I want to read both The Spy and the Traitor and A Spy Among Friends because MacIntyre writes nonfiction so well.  

 I've enjoyed a couple of Ben MacIntyre's nonfiction books about WWII.  My favorite was Operation Mincemeat:  How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory.  What a great film this one would make!

From my review:  Maybe the reason the entire plan reads something like a novel is that so many of the individuals involved in one way or another were already novelists or became novelists.  While truth is often stranger than fiction, it helps if those who conceive and construct such a complicated plan have the imagination of fiction writers.  I lost count of how many writers were involved from start to finish.  The most famous, although his role was small, was Ian Fleming.  No wonder the Bond stories were so popular, Fleming had all the experience one might need with espionage, double-thinking, and dreaming up ways to confuse or mislead the enemy.

Reading about Ian Fleming's role in Operation Mincemeat eventually led me to read The Man with the Golden Typewriter.  What a pleasure to read the correspondence between Fleming and people like Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, and Raymond Chandler.  

The letters were all interesting in so many ways.  Reading each one was a pleasure, and my opinion of Ian Fleming rose as I read the book.  He was not just the author of sensational novels, but a former Naval Intelligence officer, a friend of some of the most talented authors of the day, and a charming and witty correspondent.  


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Catching Up

I've been working on more mail art envelopes and postcards, answering letters, anticipating cooler weather (today's high is supposed to be 98), thinking about Halloween (after finishing Scaredy Cat and Pumpkin Head dolls, I need a new Halloween Eccentric to work on), contemplating a fall garden, and reading.  

I need to catch up on reviews, so I am making a start.  I wish I could do like Lark and make Haiku Reviews, but these are all pretty short.

Something Wicked by Kerry Wilkinson.  This is my first in the Andrew Hunter series, and I liked it.  Not as much as the Jessica Daniel series, but this was Andrew Hunter's first outing, and often a series improves.  The plot involves a creepy cult and isn't terribly realistic, but  I like Kerry Wilkinson and have enjoyed the Jessica Daniel series and several of his stand-alones.  


Detective Fiction.  2014; 2018.  Print length:  321 pages.

Holy Ghost is the eleventh book in John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series, but my first foray into this series.

A small town in Minnesota is dying--not an unusual plight for small towns anywhere that are off the main highways.  Wardell Holland and teenager John Jacob Skinner come up with an idea to put Pinion, MN back on the map, a sketchy ruse to attract tourists.  They are going to use the Catholic Church, a faked Marian appearance, and turn the town into draw for religious tourists.  ! How's that for a plan?

Unfortunately, a series of shootings, followed by several murders take place.  Virgil Flowers, an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is called in.  What began as two serious injuries turns into a series of murders, and Virgil is at a loss to determine motive.  A number of interesting characters, some humorous conversations, and a long struggle to figure out what was really going on kept me involved.  I mean, one theory after another gets shot down, and Virgil gets frustrated (in a calm, laid back kinda way).

I've never read anything by John Sandford before, but I'll certainly be interested in his other series now--and since I liked all of the odd-ball characters in Holy Ghost, I will be checking the library for more Virgil Flowers.   Thanks to James Thane whose review of a Virgil Flowers book made me try this one! 

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Mystery/Crime.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  400 pages.

Deathly Portent is the second in the Lady Fan series, and I actually abandoned the first one within a chapter or two, but this was kind of fun.  

Description:  THE DEATHLY PORTENT is the second book in the Lady Fan Mystery series: historical romance murder mysteries with a courageous women sleuth embarking on a traditional British, private investigation in eighteenth-century London. 

Deathly Portent takes place in a small village.  Lady Fan and her husband have carriage trouble and when Lady Fan hears that a young woman is being accused of being a witch and murdering the local blacksmith, she is unable to restrain her curiosity and need to investigate.  Although there are murders, the book makes the most of the eccentric village characters, some humor, and a little romance.  

NetGalley/Sapere Books

Historical Mystery.  August 23, 2018.  Print length:  381 pages. 

I read Divided House by J.M. Dalgliesh last month and went straight into the next book in the Dark Yorkshire series.  Blacklight continues the investigations of DI Nathaniel Caslin--in the current case two women are missing.  One is the daughter of the local MP.

Nate Caslin still has problems, but his character rounds out a bit in this second book.  I'm ready for the next one!

Kindle Unlimited/Hamilton Press

Detective Fiction.  June 1, 2018.  Print length:  319 pages.

Whew!  Shorter than normal reviews, but I enjoyed all of these books.  

As always I love the fan mail James Preller receives from his young fans and his wonderful, gracious replies!   

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Sideman by Caro Ramsay

The Sideman follows on The Suffering of Strangers, which I've not read.  Usually, I don't have any trouble beginning in the middle or at the end of a series, but The Sideman gave me fits initially because it was so obviously connected to a previous story, and I was not familiar with the previous books or the plot.  Most authors manage to give enough background to make it easy to follow, but The Sideman was like beginning a book in the middle with no correlations to rely on.  There were so many characters that it seemed the reader was expected to know...and I didn't.

That said, I was intrigued enough to persevere and eventually found myself engrossed.  Caro Ramsay is a new author to me and The Sideman is the 10th in a series of the Anderson and Costello novels set in Glasgow.  

Brief description from blurb:  Detective Inspector Costello has resigned. No notice, no goodbyes. Convinced that George Haggerty murdered his wife and son despite his cast-iron alibi, Costello has gone solo, determined to expose a ruthless killer without being hampered by police protocol. But is she right about Haggerty’s guilt? And where has she disappeared to?

Expecting Costello to have a large role, I was puzzled when she failed to actually show up.  Her partner and friends are concerned about her, but Costello is a notable absence in what was (for me) at first a hugely puzzling plot.  Gradually, I was drawn in and picked up enough of the previous story to have some background with which to work.  About a quarter of the way in, I was completely invested.

In spite of my initial confusion, I think this is a series I'd like to pursue--but beginning with the first book!

Read in June;  blog review scheduled for Sept. 17.

NetGalley/Severn House

Mystery/Thriller.  Oct. 1, 2018.  Print length:  256 pages.  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa is best known for her Iron Fey series, but my introduction to her work was the Blood of Eden trilogy, a dystopian/vampire adventure that I really enjoyed.

The Shadow of the Fox is the first in this fantasy series with creative mythological elements.   

from the description:  Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns...and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near...and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret.

Yumeko, half-human and half-kitsune, has an important role to play in keeping the forces of evil at bay, but she is half-kitsune and is inclined to pranks.  Raised in a monastery, Yumeko is truly naive about the wider world, but she is good-hearted and aware of what she owes to the monks.  When the temple is destroyed by demons, Yumkeo finds herself charged with a great responsibilty: she must deliver the fragment of the scroll entrusted to her to the Steel Feather Shrine.  Her experiences have been limited to the sanctuary of the monastery, but now she must undertake a journey into a world she knows little about.

The second pov comes from Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan, whose life has been circumscribed by his clan leaders.  His current mission it to dispatch anyone who stands in his way of obtaining the fragment of the scroll that Yumeko carries.  Unaware that she is carrying the fragment, Tatsumi believes Yumeko can help him locate it and aids her in her journey. 

Villains, demons, samurai, ronin, shape-shifters, kami and more.  A little slow at the start, the pacing increases with the destruction of the temple that sets Yumeko in her prophesied role.

Read in May; blog review scheduled for Sept. 13.  

NetGalley/Harlequin Teen

YA/Fantasy/Folkore/Adventure.  Oct. 2, 2018.  Print length:  400 pages.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson's Transcription is a strange little book.  Although the novel opens in 1950, we are quickly thrust back to 1940, when eighteen-year-old Juliet begins working for a branch of MI5.  She is idealistic, but aware that she doesn't always meet her own standards.  

She has recently lost her mother, and a sense of abandonment is part of her personality.  She is also young and longing for romance and excitement.  

Her job as a transcriptionist, however, is boring, but when she does have the opportunity to become more involved, Juliet realizes there is still plenty of dull mixed in with the tension and danger.

Most of the book is slow and anything but a thriller, and Atkinson probably did this on purpose.  There is sly humor throughout, especially the kind of bitter/sweet/amusing sections with Juliet imagining the possibility of romance with the wrong man.  

When the war is over, Juliet moves on with her life and by 1950 is a radio producer with the BBC.  She discovers that the past is not always past.

An overarching theme of deception, duplicity, and the masks people wear permeates the novel.  Some of the references are obvious, some made me curious about different applications, but I was not expecting one central duplicity.  In the concluding chapters, the suspense mounts (finally), and traitors are revealed.  

I admit that I found a majority of the novel slow and despite the fact that the slow pace is intentional and despite the many amusing and witty comments and scenarios, I felt myself wading through three quarters of the book waiting for...something.  But that something arrived, and the conclusion and the Author's Note which follows made everything worthwhile.  

Transcription is a curious book.  It is not a thriller, as you might expect, but it is book that ambushed me at the end and one I can't quit thinking about.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 9.

NetGalley/Little, Brown, and Company

Historical Fiction/Espionage.  Sept. 25, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

I've been reading Sharon Bolton since Sacrifice, her first book and a chilling tale.  Then came the Lacey Flint series and several stand-alones (my favorite is Little Black Lies).   

The Craftsman is set in Sabden, the village at the foot of Pendle Hill, famous for the Pendle witches and the resulting trials and executions in 1612.  The Craftsman takes some of the best elements from all of the above books  and will keep you riveted from first to last.

The book begins in 1999, but moves back and forth in time.

In 1999, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady returns to Sabden for the funeral of Larry Glassbrook.  Glassbrook died in prison after having been convicted of three murders.  Florence was responsible for his conviction, but her return is not going to offer the resolution she seeks.  

In 1969, WPC Florence Lovelady is new to the force and becomes tangled up in a case involving three missing children.   The anxiety is high in the community, and when a group of children say they hear voices coming from a grave, Florence is sent to resolve the situation.  Although facing prejudice for her gender and education, Florence does have one friend on the force, DC Tom Devins.

In 1999, Florence realizes that perhaps they got things wrong and finds herself and her son in danger.

Witches and folklore add to this harrowing tale.  Although billed as a stand-alone, I'd love to see more from Florence, either in her early career or dating from the chilling conclusion.  I would also be pleased if  Bolton decided to  have a spin-off novel involving Avril and Daphne and the local coven.  

This is one of Bolton's best, a compelling plot and well-drawn characters kept me glued to the pages.  

I read Mist Over Pendle as an R.I.P. read several years ago, and The Craftsman would make an excellent choice for R.I.P.  There are dozens of books about the Pendle witches both fiction and nonfiction.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 4.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Suspense.  (UK) April 15  and (US) Oct. 16, 2018.  Print length:  432 pages.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang

Cora Lee, the protagonist of The Impossible Girl, is an amalgamation of weird circumstances.    

Cora, the illegitimate child of a wealthy socialite, is born with a physical anomaly that makes her of scientific interest.  Cora's Aunt Charlotte raises her--and Charlotte is only too well of the danger presented by Cora's two hearts.  To keep her hidden from anatomist's who would love to dissect such an interesting specimen, Charlotte initially disguises Cora as "Jacob," in hopes that the legend of the girl with two hearts would eventually dwindle away.

Ironically, Cora becomes the only female resurrectionist in New York, exhuming bodies for the medical establishment for dissection and  allowing Cora to be aware of what physical abnormalities the anatomists are eager to examine.  When the legend of the girl with two hearts is suddenly revived, Cora's safety is at risk.  And someone is killing the people on Cora's list before their time.      

An intriguing mystery that highlights medical advancement and the New York of the mid-1800's, The Impossible Girl had several twists that I wasn't expecting.   Cora proved an interesting character in interesting times!

Read in June; blog review scheduled for 9/2/18.

NetGalley/Lake Union Publishing

Historical Mystery.  Sept. 18, 2018.  Print length:  364 pages.  

Friday, August 31, 2018

Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

I'm sorry that Ann Cleeves has decided that this will be the last in the Shetland series featuring Jimmy Perez.  Maybe especially sad because I found this one so good. 

As is often true in small communities, "incomers" can find it difficult to fit in.  When Helena and Daniel Fleming move to the island, they were hoping for a quieter, more peaceful life than they had in London.  However, their acceptance in the community is not what they hoped, and after the suicide of the former owner of their home, things quickly become worse.

When a young nanny is found hanging in the same barn in which the previous owner hanged himself, Jimmy Perez and Sandie Wilson are called in.  The young woman was found by the Fleming's autistic eleven-year-old son which puts even more stress on the family.  Emma Shearer, the young woman found murdered in the barn, had been a the nanny for the Moncrief family since she was seventeen.  

When Chief Inspector Willow Reeves arrives on the island, she and Jimmy have some personal business that keeps them from working together as easily as they have in the past.

Ann Cleeves has a way of seeming to let the various characters create themselves.  The Flemings, the Moncriefs, the Riddells all develop in an organic and believable manner. Perez, Willow Reeves, and Sandy Wilson need less introduction, but are all in the process of their personal transitions even as they work the case.

Emma Shearer, the very private nanny, doesn't come fully into view until the conclusion.  Cleeves works hard to keep from revealing who was responsible for Emma's death, and I bounced back and forth between a couple of suspects.  

Troubled families, complex characters, and an excellent procedural!  Recommended.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Sept. 4

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Police Procedural.  Sept. 4, 2018.  Print length:  416 pages.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Exes' Revenge (Sticks and Stones) by Jo Jakeman and Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

The Exes' Revenge by Jo Jakeman is exactly what it says and yet...not at all what I was expecting.

Imogen is in the midst of a divorce, and Phillip, her controlling and abusive husband, has given her an ultimatum:  leave the house in two weeks or he will make sure he gets custody of their son.  Phillip is a policeman and would be able to bring up Imogen's depression following a miscarriage.  Currently, Phillip is living in another property he owns with his current, much younger girlfriend.

Although Imogen's personality is non-confrontational, Phillip's latest demands require her to stand up in order to be able to provide a decent life for their son.  

In a visit to try and persuade Phillip to be reasonable, Imogen realizes that Phillip has been abusing his girlfriend as well.  

When an irate Phillip learns of her visit, he storms into the house full of threats and ego, then goes into the basement to retrieve some belongings.   Pushed beyond rational thought, Imogen does something drastic and completely unexpected.   Now what?  

Moving back and forth in time, Phillip's relationships with Imogen, his current girlfriend, and his ex-wife emerge.  Unlikely allies and perhaps with different agendas, the three women learn more about themselves, each other, and the man with whom they have all been involved.

Expecting a typical revenge mystery, I was delighted to find a more complex and engrossing experience with a brisk pace and some dark humor.


Update, July 20: this book has recently received a new title and cover:  Sticks and Stones

Read in June.  Review scheduled for Aug. 29.

NetGalley/Berkely Publishing

Mystery.  Sept. 11, 2018.  Print length:  352 pages.

Having never mastered the skill of training any of our dogs to do more than "sit," I tend to be captivated by working dogs, their skills and their training.  Set in the Colorado Rockies, Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries combine the abilities of Robo, a talented young search and rescue dog with good characterization and suspenseful plots 

Burning Ridge is the 4th book in the series, and I was just as enthralled as usual.  Robo may be my favorite character, but I like all of the regular cast from members of the Sheriff's Dept. to Cole, the local veterinarian, to Mama T, the foster mother who raised Mattie.

Deputy Mattie Cobb is the K-9 officer in the small town of Timber Creek, CO.  Mattie and Robo have a tremendous bond and trust each other implicitly.  He may be a working dog, but he is definitely loved and respected, not only by Mattie, but by all those who have come to appreciate his talents and personality.

When a burned body is discovered high in a mountain valley, all are stunned at the apparent brutality, but the situation is worsened when the identity of the victim is revealed.

Burning Ridge touches close to home for Mattie.

Couldn't turn the pages fast enough--(so to speak, as I read it on my Kindle).  Ready for the next in the series and hate having to wait.

Read in June.  Review scheduled for August 29

NetGalley/Crooked Lane Books

Crime/Suspense.  Sept. 11, 2018.  Print version:  279 pages.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Divided House by J. M. Dalgliesh

J.M. Dalgliesh is a new author for me, but I will certainly be reading more from him.  

Divided House introduces DI Nathaniel Caslin.  Nate Caslin had been on an upward career path with Scotland Yard, but he made a mistake and is now the odd man out in York.

His marriage is on the rocks, and his personal life is a mess, but there is an integrity that keeps him from falling into a hopeless abyss.

When no one else seems concerned about the disappearance of a young family, Nate listens to his own internal warnings that something is drastically wrong.

The commitment to solving a complex case has Nate slowly emerging from his tendency to hide in substance abuse and alcohol and to gradually regain some of the trust he has lost.

Dalgliesh has created an intriguing character in a well-plotted dark example of detective fiction.  I will be on to the next one in the series soon!

Detective Fiction/Police Procedural.  May, 2018.  Print length:  335 pages.  

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Rule by Ellen Goodlett is the first in a series (trilogy?) that begins with a king having his three illegitimate daughters located and brought to court.  The king of Kolonya decides to acknowledge his three illegitimate daughters only after his son and presumptive heir dies.  

The three young women are very different and quite amazed upon discovering not only their unknown father, but also that they have siblings.

Nothing especially new in this YA fantasy...except that (Spoiler)  the three girls eventually form a bond, supporting each other, instead of the expected cut throat competition for the crown. This was actually the thing I liked most, the siblings uniting.

Each of the daughters carries a dark secret, and each of the secrets could carry a dreadful consequence.  When the blackmail begins, who is to be trusted?

I enjoyed the first installment of this series.

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Aug. 25.

NetGalley/Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

YA Fantasy.  Sept. 11, 2018.  Print length:  384 pages.

Friday, August 24, 2018

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss

I read The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter last year and loved it.  

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman is the sequel that takes the Athena Club (Mary Jekyll, Catherine Moreau, Beatrice Rappaccini, Justine Frankenstein, and Diana Hyde) on another exciting adventure.  

Don't read this one without having read the The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter first; the sequel depends on the characterizations established in the first book.

The Athena Club faces new and old enemies as they attempt a rescue of Lucy Van Helsing.  New and interesting characters include Mina Murray Harker and Irene Adler Norton.

As in the first book, all the characters taken from the original novels and short stories  (by Bram Stoker,  Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.G. Wells, Conan Doyle) are turned on their heads.  If you enjoyed any or all of the originals, you will find the Athena Club mash-ups great fun.

All of that said, however, this one is a tad long and could have been improved by judicious editing of at least 100 or so pages.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed European Travel and look forward to the next adventures of the "monstrous women" of the Athena Club.


Victorian/Fantasy.  2018.  Print length:  780 pages.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

An Act of Villainy by Ashley Weaver

An Act of Villainy continues the adventures of Amory and Milo Ames.  This one involves a West End theater, threatening letters, a friend whose marriage is disintegrating as her husband has an affair, and of course, a murder.

Set in the 1930's, Ashley Weaver's series echoes some of the techniques of The Golden Age of Detective Fiction with some modern twists.  Clever detection, stylish writing, the avoidance of graphic violence, and in an Act of Villainy, a surprising twist.

If you've been following this series, you will enjoy Weaver's latest offering for the mystery and the characters.   

Read in June; blog review scheduled for August 23.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Detective Fiction.  Sept. 4, 2018.  Print length:  320 pages.

Monday, August 20, 2018

In the Heat of the Moment by Viveca Sten

Midsummer's Eve on Sandhamn annually attracts all kinds of visitors who celebrate the longest day of the year by drinking and carousing.  The event is endured by inhabitants and police.

Nora Linde's life is complicated when her new boyfriend's daughter doesn't come home after a night of celebrating.  In addition to that worry, she is asked to take in two teenage girls who were found lost and confused after a night of drinking.

When the body of the young man is discovered, Thomas Andreasson and his partner Margit are called in to investigate.  

I've enjoyed all of Viveca Sten's previous books, and although this one is not bad, for some reason I wasn't as engaged with the plot.  

Both Nora and Thomas are interesting, intelligent, and compassionate characters, and I was happy to see a little take-down of the mother-in-law and to see ex-husband Henrik behave reasonably.  

Read in July;  blog review scheduled for Aug. 20.

NetGalley/Amazon Crossing

Mystery.  Sept. 4, 2018.   

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Iron Flower and Edinburgh Dusk and a few other things...

Iron Flower by Laurie Forest continues The Black Witch Chronicles.  I liked the first book a lot, and I like this one even more.  The Black Witch dramatizes the prejudices in Gardneria and illustrates how those prejudices influence the treatment of others.  

In Iron Flower, Elloren and her friends work for the Resistance, but the sinister Marcus Vogel has gained absolute power in Gardneria and is determined to eradicate any opposition.

In fact, Vogel doesn't even want submission, his goal is more ominous.

Elloren continues to gain confidence as the bonds of loyalty grow among her friends, and she commits herself to do all she can to protect those threatened with slavery, imprisonment, and death. 

A lot of action and a little romance kept me turning the pages, but mainly I loved the way these young people are risking everything to stand up for their friends.  Although Rafe and Diana are secondary characters, they are among my very favorites.

An epic YA fantasy, and I can't wait for the next installment!

NetGalley/Harlequin Teen

YA Fantasy.  Sept. 18, 2018.  

Edinburgh Dusk is also a second in a series by Carole Lawrence.  After a perfectly ugh prologue, the book improved.  It is better than the first book in the series, although I didn't review the first book here.

I love Edinburgh so I couldn't help giving the series another try.  While I did like this one better (aside from the yucky prologue), I still couldn't quite get a feel for Ian Hamilton.  

The Hamlet trope was way overdone.

Favorite character:  Conan Doyle is a secondary character that will probably be in the next book as well.  We even get a cameo appearance of Dr. Bell, Doyle's mentor.  

Reviews of Edinburgh Twilight ran the gamut from one to five stars on Goodreads (I gave it a generous 3), but so far the reviews of Edinburgh Dusk are positive.  Since twilight and dusk are synonyms, maybe one should have had a different title.  I don't know that I'd try another in this series.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Historical Mystery.  Sept. 18, 2018.  

And just for fun:

Imaginary Foods

Atlas Obscura asked readers to tell them what fictional foods they wished were real and to describe what they think they would taste like.  

One example:  
Cauldron Cakes from the Harry Potter series
What might it taste like?“A small sponge cake with a ganache, a smooth interior that tastes like chocolate and pepper. So, a spicy chocolate taste. I love sweets and I adore the world of Harry Potter. I immediately envisioned chocolate, and the ‘cauldron’ makes me think spicy. I imagine a delectable treat.” — Cherie, Jacksonville, Florida 
 P.S.  This one had me at ganache (a whipped filling of chocolate and creme), but I have a friend who adds a little pepper to her chocolate cookies--and they are delicious.  I think Cherie has imagined a great description for Cauldron Cakes.


I'm a fan of snail mail (although I mostly keep that to my other blog), but this might appeal to readers of comics and graphic novels!  I found this at Letter Writers Alliance--
Comics and Correspondence Club for August.

Thursday, August 16th, 2018 - Join Donovan Challenger for an evening of corresponding postally with your favorite comics via letter. Every month, we'll focus on sending mail (real, physical mail) to a specific comic. Need to talk about your feelings on WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT THING? Or WHY DID THEY DO THE OTHER THING? Or HOW DARE THEY? Or even HEY, I LIKE YOU A LOT! We know you have opinions. Time to share them with the people who are actually responsible. No more excuses! We'll have stationery and stamps, envelopes and everything else you need to take the conversation out of the store and into the mail.

They will be writing to Marjory Liu and Sana Takeda, creators of the Monstress fantasy series.  

in care of:

Image Comics, Inc.
2701 NW Vaughn Street, Suite 780
Portland, Oregon 97210

If you live in Chicago, you might want to attend, but if you don't, it is an interesting idea that you could do on your own.  Write to the writers, illustrators, or to one of your favorite characters.

If you read graphic novels, what character or series would you want to write to?  Have any of you read any of the Monstress series?  I love the covers.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Little Comfort by Edwin Hill

  Readers always have a soft spot for librarians, and Edwin Hill has a librarian as the protagonist in his debut novel Little Comfort.

Hester Thursby, Harvard librarian, has taken a leave of absence to help her partner care for his young niece.  Hester has a side job, however; she implements her research skills to locate people.  The prom date in 1974, adopted children, or birth parents--Hester uses her skills to find those who may be missing from someone's life.

Hester adores Kate, but the little one is causing some disruption in Hester's life.  As much as she loves Kate, suddenly thrust in the role of caregiver to a small child was never in Hester's life plan, and she occasionally finds herself bored.  

When a call from Lila Blaine requesting help in locating her brother that she hasn't seen in twelve years, Hester agrees to meet her and find out more.  Intrigued by the sporadic postcards Lila has received over the years, Hester agrees to see if she can locate Sam Blaine and the best friend he ran away with at fourteen.

Why did Sam and Gabe run away in the first place?  Why are the postcards so cryptic?  

Hester follows the clues and finds herself in a situation she never bargained for.

Read in June; blog review scheduled for August 13.

NetGalley/Kensington Books

Mystery/Suspense.  August 28, 2018.  Print length:  324 pages. 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Keep Her Silent by Theresa Talbot

Keep Her Silent is less interesting for its plot than for the premise involving the tainted blood scandal in the UK.  This horrific situation involved America, a Canadian drug company, and corpses from Russia.  You really can't make this stuff up.  

I wasn't as engaged with the murder plot or the characters (Oonagh was annoying), but truth is stranger than fiction in this situation--and that part of the story kept me engaged.  

When a police investigation into the Raphael Murders is reopened, investigative journalist Oonagh O'Neil discovers more questions than answers, but her interviews and research cause her to examine the original investigation with a different perspective.  She's often wrong-footed and her discoveries are almost stumbled on, but she eventually knows the murders were not what they seemed.

Britain's Contaminated Blood Scandal

Scandal Not Confined to Britain

Can you imagine if your child was one of the Pups?  "The acronym used was Pups – previously untreated patients. They were in effect being experimented on."
There are numerous articles online about the tainted blood scandal, but the corruption, greed, arrogance, and cover-up  involved is sickening.  Theresa May has ordered a new inquiry which may bring some semblance of justice.

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Aug. 9.


Crime/Suspense.  Aug. 21, 2018.  Print length:  301 pages.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Not the Booker Shortlist & Other Tidbits

Not the Booker Shortlist, with one more to be selected. 

The only one of these I've read is Dark Pines, which I enjoyed,
especially its deaf protagonist Tuva Moodyson.
I'm also interested in The Ruin, a new crime series set in Ireland.

Writers opinions of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
Despite many disparaging remarks about the classic,
writers like Virginia Woolfe, Joan Didion, Alice Hoffman,
and Joyce Carol Oates all admired it.
Interesting to read their views!

There is a word for everything,
even it is from another language.