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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Glimmer Lake series by Elizabeth Hunter


Sometimes, I enjoy light books that don't have too much emotional or social turmoil, and the Glimmer Lake books gave me just that with a paranormal twist and a little romance.

Three friends are on their way for a little girl time together when a car accident sends them off the road and into a deep lake.  All three survive, but the circumstances include a rescuer who doesn't exist.  Robin, Val, and Monica emerged from the lake with new abilities that require some serious adjustment.

The first book deals with Robin who now has the ability to see ghosts.  The second book features the extremely reluctant Val, who finds that by touching certain objects she suddenly knows much more about the owner than she wants to.  The third book focuses on Monica psychic dreams.  

I found the books to be exactly what I needed during a period of anxiety.  The friendships between these three middle-aged women and the way each adjusted to her new abilities was fun--especially because they find themselves solving mysteries.

If you enjoy female friendships adorned with a little supernatural, some mysteries, and a little romance, you might find these books fun and comforting. 

I haven't read Elizabeth Hunter before, but the next time I am in the mood for something that will lighten my mood and keep me entertained, I'll look for what else she has to offer.

After reading the first in this three-part series, I couldn't not know what this threesome got up to next, so I dashed through all three. :)

Kindle Unlimited.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Custard Corpses by M J Porter, Murder in Pembrokeshire by Gretta Mulrooney, and Farewell My Herring by L.C. Tyler

I chose this one largely based on the strange title.

from description:  Birmingham, England, UK, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

A cold case that has bothered Sam Mason for years comes to the forefront again when Robert McFarlane's sister comes to Sam on her annual visit about the death of her brother.  This time, however, she brings an old newspaper clipping about what child murder that took place three years after young Robert's.

Interested, if not exactly hopeful, Sam is determined to follow any lead.  As it turns out, there are similarities Sam can't ignore...and yet cannot decipher.  Sam's wife makes the most important connection that sends Sam and Constable O'Rourke  through many twists and turns as "new" old cases keep turning up.   

The concept is interesting and the investigation kept me involved.  Slow in places and sometimes a bit repetitious, The Custard Corpses still managed to provide an intriguing and unusual historical police procedural.  

Read in April.  Blog review scheduled for ????


Historical Police Procedural.  March 25, 2021.  

I've read a couple of books in Mulrooney's Tyrone Swift series and a couple in her Siv Drummond series and enjoyed them.  

from descripton:  An isolated community.
No Wi-Fi, no mobile signal.
No witnesses.

Detective Tyrone Swift is invited to stay with Afan Griffith, an old friend living in a small community in rural Pembrokeshire. Cut off from the rest of the world, with no mobile signal or Wi-Fi, something’s got Afan worried.

But Afan isn’t there to greet Swift when he arrives. The next day, Swift discovers Afan’s body on a lonely stretch of the nearby coastal path — stabbed to death.

Before becoming a private detective, Swift had been with the Met and also had spent some time in France with Interpol, where he and Afan had become friends.  Murder in Pembrokeshire has Swift outside of his usual world in the isolated community in Wales.  

Puzzled and concerned that his friend isn't there to meet him as planned, Ty sets off the next day for a walk and discovers Afan's body.  Determined to unearth the killer and the motivation, Ty remains at the commune to unravel some of the many secrets members of the small community are keeping that might prove useful in finding Afan's killer.

This isn't my favorite in the series, but I did enjoy it.

Read in March.

NetGalley/Joffe Books
Detective.  March 23, 2021.  Print length:  243 pages.

Another book selected mostly for the unusual title, but also for the beautiful cover, Farewell My Herring was every bit as unusual as the title implies.

I did enjoy this comical crime novel, there is plenty to amuse the reader in the amateur detection of Ethelred and Elsie. A bit too overtop for me to want to read another, but it was a fun satirical adventure.

I had a look at his other titles--they all contain the word "herring." Ok, so when I saw this title I was immediately reminded of Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler, but when I looked at Tyler's other "herring" titles, Agatha Christie was well represented: Ten Little Herrings, The Herring in the Library, The Herring on the Nile, etc. Chandler and Christie were certainly the source of the Herring titles. :)

NetGalley/Alison and Busby
Comic Crime? April 22, 2021. Print length: 227 pages


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir


From Description:  Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission--and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

 Strangely, I abandoned both The Martian and Artemis, but Project Hail Mary was a definite hit for me.  

There is a lot of science/physics/math that I didn't understand, but made me think that solving problems with this knowledge could encourage young people into STEM courses.  Even a "mathophobe" like me was intrigued and felt the excitement of problem solving.  

Middle School science teacher, Ryland Grace wakes up from an induced coma far in space, with no memory of how he got there.  His two crew mates didn't survive, and it takes him a while to  remember even  his name, but he gradually realizes that he has a great deal of knowledge about the ship and its functions.  At first, his knowledge is a little surprising to him, but as his memory returns in fits and starts, and he experiences flashbacks of his previous life, he understands the mission of Project Hail Mary and its importance--a last ditch effort to save Earth and humanity.  

He is alone in space...until he isn't.  He finds an unexpected ally, and the two of them risk their lives over and over to make sure their missions are completed.  Here, Weir excels at creating a dynamic between Ryland Grace and Rocky and moves beyond the typical space adventure into something more.  The need for Grace and Rocky to communicate, to except each other's abilities and limitations, and to work together using their combination of skills in order to save their respective worlds is the crux of the book.  Yes, it is a space adventure, but not in the usual sense--Project Hail Mary combines suspense and humor and "humanity" in the midst of some abstruse science and mathematics.  

As I mentioned, the science and math was beyond me, and yet I found the way Weir used it (or perhaps, overused it)  made me see the solving of mathematical and scientific puzzles as exciting as solving a mystery in a police procedural.   Never thought that could happen.  

I was completely engaged from first to last with this novel.  Rocky is the highlight and an unforgettable character--you really need to meet him!  

Read in March; review scheduled for April 25.

NetGalley/Random House/Ballentine                                                                                                        Science Fiction.  May 4, 2021.  Print length:  496 pages.  

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Swimming Back to Trout River


I've read several books, both fiction and nonfiction, that concern the Cultural Revolution, but this is perhaps the most unusual and certainly one of the best. 

  Swimming Back to Trout River gripped me from the beginning and my interest never flagged.  Beautifully written with characters who are individual and complicated, hopeful and talented, and then confronted with the Cultural Revolution's efforts to purge capitalism, foreign influence, and tradition.  Young intellectuals were sent to the countryside to experience manual labor and "rehabilitation."  

Momo, Cassia, and Dawn were young and talented, but the upheaval in their lives after being sent to the countryside required remarkable resilience.  When the Cultural Revolution ends, Momo, Cassia, and Dawn attempt to rebuild their lives in different ways, and Junie, Momo and Cassia's daughter is left in China with her beloved grandparents.

Momo's goal is to reunite with Junie, to bring her to America.  Junie, however, cannot imagine a life away from Trout River.

One of the most impressive elements in the story in the influence of music on the main characters and the importance of art and creativity in their lives.  

Beautifully written, thoughtful, and perceptive, Linda Rui Feng has written a novel that will linger with its readers in many ways.  It is one of my favorite novels of last year.  Highly Recommended.

Read in December; blog review scheduled for April.

NetGalley/Simon & Schuster.

Multicultural History.  May 11, 2021.  Print length:  272 pages.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Sister's Twin, What You Never Knew, Hadley and Grace, and This World So Fierce


From Description:  How do you solve a murder when the victim is still alive?

Lily Spencer knows her twin is fated to die. And she can’t stop envisioning the end.

A stranger in the night.
A vicious blade.
The tarot card he will leave behind.

Lily’s clairvoyant friend has foreseen it all. And her eerie insights are never wrong.

A killer is coming to the care home where the sisters live. It’s only a question of when. And why.

In desperation, Lily turns to curmudgeonly sleuth Ray Flowers for help.

She may be elderly but she’s anything but defenceless. And she’s not giving up on her sister.

Not without a fight.

Someone is killing vulnerable old people, but who is the person planning the murders and why?   Lily and Rose are essential to the plot, but Elspeth Moore is by far the most entertaining character!  Give Elspeth a tarot deck and a cricket bat, and she's got things under control.  Well, almost.   Ray Flowers is reluctant to get involved...until he is forced to believe.  I enjoyed this one.

Read in March; review scheduled for  April 11.

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Mystery.  April 1, 2021.  Print length:  201 pages.

From Description:  

Idyllic Avril lsland, owned by the Bennett family, where their hundred-year-old cottage sat nestled in acres of forest. Forty-year-old June Bennett believed that the island had been sold after the summer of her father's disappearance when she was only twelve years old. It's months after the shocking death of her older sister May in a fatal car accident, that June finds out that the cottage was never sold. Avril Island is still owned by the Bennett family and now it's hers.

Old secrets and an old friend await June on Avril island.  What June thought she knew about that last summer on the island when she was twelve--is not nearly what she thought.

I wanted to know all the secrets, but from very early in the book June's character seemed less than realistic.  In the end, I wasn't even satisfied knowing the secrets.

Read in March   

NetGalley/Crooked Lane Books

Mystery.  April 13, 2021.  Print length:  304 pages.  

Hadley's husband is abusive and Grace's husband has a gambling habit.  When Hadley decides to take the two kids and leave Frank, she plans on getting some of his money first.  Grace, who works for Frank, has also decided to take the money Frank owes her and with her infant son make a get-away.

Kind of the heist from hell when the two women get into it during their separate attempts at theft.  As it turns out, they are going to need each other as the two hit the road with kids in tow.

Favorite character: Skipper who has lived with Hadley for most of his eight years and is special needs.  

It does have the escape element of Thelma & Louise, but this time there are three kids added to the mix.

Read in March.

Kindle Unlimited.  2021.  344 pages.

From Description:  
Trish and Nikki are Orphans who live on the poor side of town. But they know what it means to have a family that cares, even if that family is not blood. Their foster parents can't have children of their own, so they raise children who come to them from a world of pain and loss. When the family is asked to take in one more, they can't refuse. But it might be one more than they can handle.

"The World So Fierce" is a story of the other side of tragedy. The orphans are a surrogate family, but when they take in one more child could their family break? What happens when one orphan can't turn his life around?

A family who fosters and adopts children who need a home and a family--agrees to take in seventeen-year-old Mike, who is preparing to leave state custody.

The hope that Mike will be able to turn his life around is part of Bud and Molly's basic philosophy, but will he be able to join the family as a member or will he be a destructive influence?  Even with the best of intentions, can everyone be saved?

Mary Marcotte is a blog friend, a retired teacher, and an avid quilter.  This is her debut work that takes place in South Louisiana, a world Mary knows well.

Read in April.

Orphans/FosterFamilies.  2020.  90 pages.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg

Thief of Souls is a police procedural set in a small Chinese village and the first in a new series by Brian Klingborg.  This is the first time I've read anything by Klingborg, so here is a little background from Amazon's author page:   "Brian Klingborg is a graduate of Harvard's Regional Studies East Asia program, and spent many years living and working in Asia and Europe. In addition to his first novel, Kill Devil Falls, published in 2017, he's written widely on Chinese martial arts."

When reading a book set in another culture, it is nice to know the author has some first hand knowledge and familiarity with his subject.

From Description:  "Lu Fei is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing--headed by a rising political star--is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own."

Lu Fei is an interesting character: a little lonely, not entirely unsatisfied with his backwater assignment, determined to do his best.  When a superior wants an arrest quickly, Lu Fei must continue the investigation on his own, not only to solve the murder, but to prevent an innocent man from being convicted.  

As it turns out, the young woman's death and the method is part of a pattern, and Lu Fei finds himself on the trail of a serial killer.

The plot is interesting on its own, but the connection with the Chinese bureaucracy and culture added to my appreciation of the novel.

Read in Feb.; blog review scheduled for April 9.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Police Procedural/Cultural.  May 1, 2021.  Print length:  288 pages.

Monday, April 05, 2021

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Last summer I discovered the Murderbot Diaries through a review by Bookfool and fell in love with Murderbot, a construct AI and SecUnit, who has altered its governor module and is now self-aware and trying to find out more about itself now that it is free from having to obey commands from the Company.  

All Systems Red, the first novella, gives some background about its name and his job is protecting the Company's clients. MB binge-watches Sanctuary Moon as a way to relax.  There's humor, action, suspense, and a villainous corporation called Graychris.

Artificial Condition has MB leaving its friends? (it is still trying to understand exactly what it is and friends is another new concept).  (I keep having to correct my pronouns.  MB is genderless, but I keep typing "he" or "his.")  Anyway, MB manages to get on a Research Transport with an AI that MB names ART, for Asshole Research Transport.


In short, I loved the above novellas, and recently, when I was giving myself a rest from gardening and nursing my aching back, I discovered that I had a bunch of audible credits and spent several days catching up on the series.  Listening to novellas doesn't take too long, and I worked on some embroidery and went about catching up on neglected household chores while engrossed with the new additions to the Murderbot Diaries.

Rogue Protocol is the third novella in the series, and I enjoyed getting back to the adventures of MB and its transition to becoming more itself and more human in its flaws.  

MB decides to get more evidence against GrayChris corporation for Dr. Mensah.  He It meets Micki, a bot MB considers a pet.  Upbeat, friendly Micki is quite a contrast to grumpy MB, and MB finds Micki irritating.  By the end of the novella, MB has unintentionally and without acknowledging it, learned something about friendship.

Audio book 

From the beginning, the density of these novellas (I'm not usually fond of novellas) has surprised me, and I've enjoyed all the snarky humor and the way in which MB develops in its search for identity.  In Exit Strategy, he returns to Preservation Station to aid Dr. Mensah.

Moving from SecUnit to human, if we consider what "human" means, MB becomes more accepting of his need protect others as an essential part of its self.  Continuing to make fun of human flaws and failures, it is also subconsciously aware of its own similar failings.  

This was intended to be the last of the series, but fortunately, Wells has continued!  

As much as MB has evolved, he still doesn't feel comfortable with humans (with a few exceptions of his friends from All Systems Red), but when a body is found on Preservation Station, MB is drafted into the investigation.  More confident in his abilities, he works with Insah, who still isn't comfortable with SecUnits of any kind, to resolve the mystery.

(Note this was published after the full-length novel Network Effect, but chronologically belongs here.)


Science Fiction.  April 27, 2021.   

  Network Effect is a full-length novel that brings ART back into the picture!  

I'm so enamored with this series, and it was fun having a longer version. 

Will Martha Wells go back and add to the novellas that lead up to the novel or will she take MB on to further adventures with ART?  Whichever way Wells proceeds with this series, I'm in for the count.  

As long as she keeps MB having adventures, I'll keep reading!

Read in March; blog review scheduled for April 5.


2020.  Print length:  350 pages.

Saturday, April 03, 2021


 I've been gardening and reading.  My Kindle is never far from my reach, and I rest and read when my back and knees get tired.  Spring is such a lovely time of year, and before it gets too hot, I need to get as much done in the garden as I can.  Things are beginning to look up in some areas.  Other areas are in awful shape, but work continues, and if my back and knees hold out, I'll have a partial shade garden with ferns and hostas.

The worst and hardest area is where the jasmine and a ground cover have taken over.  I've dug, hacked, and pulled vines for days and may never finish.  One day, while resting, I took a bunch of the vines and wove this little wreath.  Fee was not impressed, and I admit it had a Blair Witch Project ambiance.  Upstairs, I found this rabbit head I made several years ago (I have a bunch of heads that never got bodies) and stuck it in.  :) Now it looks more like Easter than Blair Witch.

My compost area will be fenced off soon, so that's one ugly area that will be improved.

Everything I divided last month is doing well and will spread again.   

 Recently read, but not reviewed:

I've got several reviews already scheduled, but will be reviewing and scheduling these soon.

Lately, I've been behind on so many things because I'm tired from wrestling with garden chores.  At the end of the day, I don't have much energy left.  My new thyroid prescription should help the energy level, but that old saying, "not as young as I used to be" is also true!

How is spring treating you?  Gardening? Books? Crafts?

Happy Easter!