Dec 31, 2016

Sunday Salon: Books Read in 2016

I completed my Goodreads Challenge this year by reading 81 books, one more than my stated goal. Click here to see the list of books.

Right now I'm reading Here Comes the Sun, a novel about travel in the U.S. by Nicole Dennis-Benn, and also just finished an historical mystery I bought as an e-book.
Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart, published September 2015.
Publisher description: "On the mountainous border of China and Tibet in 1708, a detective must learn what a killer already knows: that empires rise and fall on the strength of the stories they tell.

Li Du was an imperial librarian. Now he is an exile. Arriving in Dayan, the last Chinese town before the Tibetan border, he is surprised to find it teeming with travelers, soldiers, and merchants. When a Jesuit astronomer is found murdered in the home of the local magistrate, blame is hastily placed on Tibetan bandits. But Li Du suspects this was no random killing."

This is the first in the Li Du mystery series and I am eager to read the next in the series, The White Mirror, published September this year.

Happy reading this new year!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date


Dec 30, 2016

Book Beginning: Road to Paradise by Paullina Simons

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.
 
Road to Paradise by Paullina Simons. November 29, 2016. William Morrow Paperbacks

Book beginning:
PROLOGUE "Motel"

Do what you like, Shelby Sloane, the bartered bride had said to me, smiling like an enigma, just remember: all roads lead to where you stand.
 
Back then I said, what does that mean?
 
This morning I knew. It was the morning of the third day I had been trapped in a room, two miles from the main drag of the Reno strip in a place called “Motel.”

I stood alone, broke, and in Reno.

Page 56:
"So we're off," Gina said. "Are you excited?"
"Sure," I said.

Book description:

 

Dec 26, 2016

It's Monday: Here's What I'm Reading

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also, visit Mailbox Monday.
Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle, to be released January 10, 2017, Berkley.
Very enjoyable and complex plot, intriguing characters. Love the NYC setting of the coffee shop mystery series. 

I finished this book while I was recovering from surgery. It was a great comfort during that trying time!

I am reading a galley of When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz, November 29, 2016, Berkley 

A fairly suspenseful story of a woman trying to find her stepsister and solve the murder of her sister's best friend. 
Metaphors Be With You: An Z to Z dictionary of history's greatest metaphorical quotations by Dr. Mardy Grothe,  December 6, 2016, Harper

A book to open at random and savor a few pages at a time.

Here's a quote from the section on Poets:
To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession. - Robert Graves
And on Writing:
Writing is seduction. - Stephen King
On Committees:
A camel is a horse designed by a committee. - Author Unknown

Add a cozy to my reading list:
Pop Goes the Murder: A Popcorn Shop Mystery by Kristi Abbott, January 3, 2017; Berkley

First paragraph:
I knocked on the hotel room door. No  one answered. I glanced at my watch. Seven forty-five in the morning. I was right on time....

Building suspense from the start, this cozy mystery is next on my reading list.

How about your reading?          

Dec 5, 2016

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date

I borrowed several books of poetry from the library written by Mary Oliver, including Dog Songs, The Leaf and the Cloud, and Blue Iris. Oliver tends to write a lot about the beauty of nature - flowers, the seasons, dogs - though her poems are not limited to these. Oliver has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

The bluebird
is dropping the pearls of his song
out of the sky.

- from "Rhapsody," The Leaf and the Cloud
Shelter by Jung Yun, March 15, 2016 by Picador.

Why should a man care for his parents when they failed to take care of him as a child? A debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family. (publisher)

I have been reading this on and off, not an easy story as there are lots of heartbreak on the part of the parents and a slow realization by their son of his responsibilities.

What are you reading this week?

Dec 1, 2016

Book Review: Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Review of Here Comes the Sun, a novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn, published June 2, 2016, Norton

I didn't think I'd want to finish the book, but as I kept reading it pulled me in - the vivid characters, the story, the, at times, poetic writing. This is a candid look at some of the lives of the less fortunate local people who live behind the scenes in the Jamaican tourist industry, the ones who serve in the hotels and cater to the tourists, legally or not. It also looks at the island culture of homophobia, superstition, and lack of opportunity and education that keep many miserable and hold them back. You won't look at the local people the same way the next time you vacation in paradise!

Written by a Jamaican-American who knows the island, the dialect, and its life rhythms. I recommend the book for all readers interested in the Caribbean.

Nov 29, 2016

First Chapter: Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon.

Today's book I got yesterday from the library after seeing it by chance. I'm really enjoying it, a book set in Jamaica, written by a Jamaican-American writer and teacher now living in Brooklyn.
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, June 2, 2016, Norton
"Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect..." Margot works at a hotel in Montego Bay to support her mother Delores and her younger sister Thandi, whom she wants to further her education to lift herself out of relative poverty.

Margot herself is a clandestine member of the gay community and will probably have to leave the homophobic island culture at some time. As I read along, I'm waiting to see if this happens.

First paragraph:
The long hours Margot works at the hotel are never documented. Her real work is not in answering the telephones that ring off the hook, or writing up delinquent housekeepers for sleeping on the beds and watching TV when they're supposed to be cleaning. Her real work is after hours when everyone had bid their goodbyes and piled up in the white Corollas --robot taxis -- at the massive gate of the resort, which will take them home to their shabby neighborhoods, away from the fantasy they help create about a country where they are as important as washed-up seaweed.

What do you think? Would you read on?
 

Nov 27, 2016

Sunday Salon: Older Books and New

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.

I read Jamaica Inn years ago and am rereading a 2015 reprint of this mystery/romance about smugglers in 1820 Cornwall, England. It's just as intriguing as I remember though I did notice now that one of the characters seems much more modern than the others in his action and speech.
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, republished September 1, 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks.

Another book on my desk is
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran by Andrew Scott Cooper, August 2, 2016, Henry Holt. This one I am reading slowly as it's a history book, very detailed history of the man, his empire, his rule, and his death, yet written in a way that is interesting and easy to read. I see it as a tragedy of sorts.

A galley of a new book, the first in a few weeks, arrived.
My Last Lament by James William Brown is described as "a poignant and evocative novel of one Greek woman's story of her own and her nation's epic struggle in the aftermath of World War II." It's written in the first person, which I don't normally like, but the story does look intriguing. It highlights the Greek folk art of lamenting, its history, and the people who serve as "lamenters" and is an "eulogy to a way of life." I am looking forward to it, thanks to Berkley Books. It is to be released March 2017.

How was your Thanksgiving holidays? I ate at a relative's house and avoided having political disagreements.
 

Nov 20, 2016

Sunday Salon: Kindle books and Other Books

I bought the ebook, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman, after a recommendation from Lisa of Southern Girl Reads.
If I like it, I'll try his new book, We're All Damaged. It's been a while since I've read a novel by a male author who wasn't a mystery writer.

My current read is The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt, quite suspenseful so far.

A couple of books I started enthusiastically but left after reaching the middle, as I thought I could predict the direction they were headed. The books were more plot driven so the character didn't carry me through to the end. These include The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran and Love, Alice by Barbara Davis, both of which I still recommend for the plots, intriguing stories.

There are other Kindle books than Domestic Violets that I have recently bought. I haven't read many, mainly because I prefer paper books, of which the library has a ready supply.

It snowed and sleet-ed and rained yesterday. Who knows what today will bring? But it's reading weather for sure.

What are you reading this week?
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date

Nov 18, 2016

Book Beginning: The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt, February 7, 2016, Berkley
Book beginning:
They stopped once for the night in Albuquerque. The name of the city intrigued the girl, so she looked it up in the encyclopedia she carried with her. It was her most prized possession. (from an uncorrected proof. Final copy may differ)

Page 56:
.... Arranged two inches apart like cookie dough on a sheet pan is a carpet of cricket carcasses.

Book description: The tale of a young woman in search of her past, and the mother who will do anything to keep it hidden...

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Nov 15, 2016

First Chapter: How to Party With an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings


How to Party with an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings, August 9, 2016
"A quirky single mom in San Francisco tiptoes through the minefields of the "Mommy Wars" and manages to find friendship and love."

First paragraph:
The afternoon holds the beautiful promise that it will soon be over. A rusty gold light falls through the clouds, the cold air has an even sharper edge, and white halogen headlights from cars on Fell and Oak make the little playground light up like a stage. Mele Bart eats cashews from a Dora cup and watches her daughter play on the purple slides.

Ellie, a wonderful mistake, is two and a half years old.

This is my current read. What's yours?

Meme: Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.

Nov 13, 2016

Sunday Salon: I'd Rather Read than.....

I have decided to stop watching too much political news so I don't find myself rolling my eyes and generally acting like a teen. To control myself, I will stay with reading good books and watching Christmas movies on TV.

Here are two new arrivals I'm reading right now: contemporary fiction and a mystery.

Love, Alice

Love, Alice by Barbara Davis, December 6, 2016, Berkley
... new Southern women’s fiction novel set in Charleston, about forgiving the past one letter at a time...

Egg Drop Dead (Crackleberry Club, #7)

Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs, the 7th in the mystery series, December 6, 2016, Berkley
Suzanne, Petra, and Toni—co-owners of the Cackleberry Club CafĂ©—track down the culprit in another whodunit.

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.

Nov 10, 2016

Clever Cozy Mystery Titles

These covers and titles caught my eye! I hope they are as good to read! Notice they are both food related!

The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole by Rebecca Adler, a Taste of Texas Mystery, November 1, 2016. Tex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan and her chihuahua Lenny solve the mystery of the country singer Jeff, found face down in a bowl of guacamole. 

A Killer Kebab: A Greek to Me Mystery by Susannah Hardy, November 1, 2016. 
Georgie Nikolopatos looks forward to fixing up her Greek restaurant and historic landmark—until her renovation plans hit a fatal snag. In other words, she finds a body and has to solve the murder!

Recipes are included in both these books! Yum!


Nov 5, 2016

Sunday Salon: Bookish Cozy Mysteries

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

It's been a while since I've featured cozies. Here a few with bookish themes.


Twice Told Tail: A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery by Ali Brandon, November 1, 2016.
At Pettistone's Fine Books,  an anonymous bidder is offering a suspiciously high price for an antique book—and Darla the owner doesn’t need her cat Hamlet’s special senses to know that something isn’t quite right. (publisher)
A Likely Story: A Library Lover's Mystery by Jenn McKinlay,  November 3, 2016.
Library director Lindsey Norris has befriended two elderly brothers, Stewart and Peter Rosen. She enjoys visiting them in their treasure-filled, ramshackle Victorian on Star Island until she discovers that Peter has been killed and Stewart is missing. (publisher)
I finished The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayer, May 3, 2016, St. Martin's Press and was torn between giving it a 4 or a 5. I wasn't very sympathetic to the protagonist toward the end but could understand the conflicts she had, having to choose between her young son's future and her sentimental and demanding former artist lover. 

My next read is a detective novel, 
Diana's Altar by Barbara Cleverly, an Inspector Joe Sandilands, Scotland Yard, mystery, well written with interesting plots. I hope I'll like this one as well as many of her former ones. 
The book: Doctor Adelaide Hartest bears witness to the final moments of a dying stranger. The situation becomes very complex, as Scotland Yard is soon to find out. 

Nov 4, 2016

The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayers: Book Beginning

Moving between the London art world and the days of a love affair in a dusty Paris studio, life and art bleed together for now married Kat Lind and her former artist lover, David. 
The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayer, May 3, 2016, St. Martin's Press

Book beginning:
Prologue
Entering the front hall, Kat saw it coming, but could not stop it. The swift and silent arc of the sledgehammer came to its own abrupt end as it smashed through the smooth plaster wall. She squeezed her eyes shut, momentarily stunned by the force and the sound of the impact ....
Chapter I: 
Sometime after the arrival of the second builder and the ensuing chorus of intermittent hammering, Kat left the house and made her way through Holland Park, glad for the relative peace of its wooded paths. The tops of the trees strained to catch the low, rose-colored sun....

Page 56:
Jorie spoke French to anyone who was not immediately identifiable as English.

Comments: Half-way through this library book and really liking it so far. 

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Oct 30, 2016

This or That Book Tag


~ RULES ~
Mention the creator of the tag.
Thank the person who tagged you.
Tag other people and spread the love.

Thanks to Pat from Posting For Now and Suko at Suko's Notebook for tagging me in the This or That Book Tag, and to Ayunda from Tea & Paperbacks, the creator of this book tag.


1) Reading on the couch or reading in bed?
    Both!
2) Main character: Male or Female?
Female, for the most part.  
3) Sweet or salty snacks while reading?
Both! Bring on the Snickers and the chips!
4) Trilogies or quartets?
Trilogies, though I have read few.  
5) First Person or Third Person POV?
Both.  
6) Night or morning reader?
Morning, day, and night.
7) Libraries or bookstores?
Bookstores for new books. Library for older books, though I sometimes am lucky and find brand new releases.
8) Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry?
Both, depending on my mood.
9) Black or white book covers?
I prefer colorful and attractive covers. 
10) Character driven or plot driven stories?
Both, though I tend to prefer character driven plots, psychologically complex individuals. 
The Book Bloggers I tag are:
Laurel-Rain at Laurel-Rain Snow Creates
Bookfan Mary at Bookfan
Mystica at Mystica
Deb Nance at  ReaderBuzz
If I haven't tagged you but you would like to participate, please do join in!

Sunday Salon: Books from My Shelves

Books from my shelves, revisited. I featured this book on a Waiting on Wednesday post last year and have pulled it to be read this winter!

The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis, July 7, 2015; Simon and Schuster
Genre: contemporary women's fiction
The Herington girls - Maggie, Jess, and Virgie -  are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house.
When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce.  (publisher)

Here's another that I hope to read soon:


Iris and Ruby: A Novel by Rosie Thomas, April 5, 2016 by The Overlook Press
Setting: Cairo

Iris Black's Cairo house is disturbed by the arrival of willful granddaughter Ruby from England. Ruby helps Iris document deteriorating memories of glittering, cosmopolitan Cairo and her WWII one true love, enigmatic Captain Xan Molyneux, who was lost to war. Iris’ early devastation shaped her daughter, granddaughter, and leads them into terrible danger in the Egyptian desert. (publisher)

Any older books from your shelves you are currently reading/hoping to read? 

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

Oct 28, 2016

Book Beginning: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen, October 13, 2009, Penguin.

A woman returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis
Book beginning:
The year I turned forty-three was the year I realized I should never have taken my Mennonite genes for granted. 
Page 56:
My folks insisted that we study and travel abroad. They have done extensive globetrotting except Antartica, which is probably on their list. 
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Oct 23, 2016

Sunday Salon: Nonfiction Books

New nonfiction books are on my desk this week:
Moonglow by Michael Chabon, November 22, 2016, Harper.

In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. (publisher)
I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb, November 22, 2016, Harper.

...tapestry of one Baby Boomer's life—Felix Funicello, introduced in Wishin’ and Hopin’—and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it, in this radiant homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women. (publisher)

I finished reading and reviewed The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan, a novel that moves from the present to the past and recounts the massive flooding of a town in Pennsylvania in 1889.  I've also finished A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny, another five star novel.

My current read is going slowly because of other things I have to do. My reading has slowed down quite a bit.  Murder in the Secret Garden  by Ellery Adams. I really like a lot of things about it - the themes of medieval herbs, healing gardens and their counterparts - poisonous plants ,  the mystery plot,  and the setting. 

What are you reading this week?
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date, and Mailbox Monday


Oct 22, 2016

Book Review: The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan

The Woman in the Photo, a novel published June 14, 2016, begins on a Memorial Day in present time and flashes back to Memorial Day in 1889. 
The Woman in the Photo
Synopsis: A modern day adoptee tries to find her birth parents and finds only a picture of her 19th century ancestress, the woman in the photo, which she uses to try to trace her family. The opening paragraphs foreshadow the terrible flood that is to wash away the town of Johnstown, Penn. in the as yet unknown future.

My thoughts: The disastrous flooding of Johnstown in 1889 is brought to light with harrowing detail in this historical/modern novel. The story of the flood is told by Elizabeth, a young woman who escaped but took part in helping the victims and survivors. The modern story is told by an adopted woman, a biological descendant of Elizabeth, who researches the flood to find her roots.

The novel was intriguing and so detailed, I felt the disaster happening all around me. The characters are believable and engrossing in their responses to their situations. I recommend the book. 
First chapter:  
The previous day Memorial Day May 30, 1889
"Elizabeth, please!"  Mother looks away from the train window long enough to eye me sharply. "Why do you test me?"
I frown as she grips the gloves in her lap and returns her gaze to the branches flickering past. It's Memorial Day. Yet the weather matches my mood: stormy. It rained all morning. More is on the way. 
Thanks to William Morrow for a galley of this book for review.

Oct 16, 2016

Sunday Salon: New Branch Library

I went on opening day to our newest branch library in Sylvania and found this book that in other branches must be on a very long waiting list. The new branch had almost all new books laid out for readers to pick up. My new library find and current read:

A Great Reckoning, the 12th in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series, August 30, 2016, Minotaur. It's intriguing because of the main character and the police force, whose detecting techniques and thinking processes are fascinating to follow.

In my mailbox this week,

A galley of When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz, November 29, 2016, from Berkley
A modern day thriller about a woman searching for her step-sister and helped by a PI.

What's on your reading list this week?

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.