May 21, 2022

Sunday Salon: New Books and a Book Review

 New arrivals

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight


Publication June 16, 2022, Bitter Lemon Press

Set in a Tokyo flat over the course of one night, Aki and Hiro spend one last night together before going their separate ways. Each believes the other to be a murderer and is determined to extract a confession before the night is over.

The Martins


Publication June 16, 2022, Gallic Books

‘Go out into the street and the first person you see will be the subject of your next book.’

This is the challenge a struggling Parisian writer sets himself, imagining his next heroine might be the mysterious young woman who often stands smoking near his apartment … instead it’s octogenarian Madeleine.

Book Review

Four Aunties and a Wedding

(Aunties #2)

Meddy Chan's wedding day in Cambridge couldn't get more complicated. Wedding vendors distantly related to her family have threatened her and her family if she interferes with their plan to kill someone they are targeting at the wedding. Armed with the zaniness and the determination of her four aunties, Meddy tries to stop anything from ruining her elaborate and well planned wedding day .

The Chinese-Indonesian aunties steal the show with their outrageous wedding outfits, their misuse of British slang, and their behind the scenes activities to stop a potential murder, all on behalf of their beloved niece, Meddy. 

Written with spunk and a clever use of dialogue, character, and setting, Four Aunties and a Wedding is clearly a romantic comedy winner.

Book from NetGalley.
What are you reading this week? 
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday  

May 15, 2022

Sunday Salon: Icelandic Mystery and Rom Coms

 New Books Reviewed:

Kalmann  by J

The publisher describes Kalmann as "neurodiverse." Kalmann says the townspeople see him as someone who thinks backwards or as not progressing past age six. But he is liked and humored as he describes himself the protector and Sheriff of Raufarhofn, dressing in a cowboy hat, a sheriff's badge, and a defunct Mauser pistol,  a gift from his American father, whom he doesn't know. 

 An avid shark hunter, Kalmann has life skills taught him by his grandfather, who is now in a home for dementia patients. 

The mystery begins when Kalmann discovers a large pool of fresh blood in the snowy hills at the same time as the richest man in the town goes missing. A patient and understanding female police officer from the city interacts with Kalmann to investigate the mystery, with a surprise for the reader at the end. 

Well plotted, suspenseful, with distinct and memorable characterization and setting, I find Kalmann another excellent Icelandic crime novel. 

Genre: romantic comedy
This is the story of two 12-year-olds who became friends at summer camp only to suddenly discover they had the same father. Kat never answered Blake's letters after camp and after this revelation, but both girls grew up knowing they were half-sisters,  forced to meet about 15 years later when they jointly inherit a beach house from their father.

The plot showing how they dealt with this situation, both sisters needing the money that a sale of the house would bring, is quite a good one. The complications of having to fix up the house themselves to realize a good price for it is a clever twist that carries the plot to the next level. Add to that the new love interests, the beach setting, their different home lives, and the novel becomes  a very enjoyable read, though with a somewhat predictable ending. 

What are you reading this week? 
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday  

May 7, 2022

Sunday Salon: In The Mail and a Book Review

 In the mailbox:

Cashmere Comes from Goats by S. Portico Bowman, May 1, 2022, Stonehouse Originals

Genre: women's fiction, contemporary romance

Source: review copy from Saichek Publicity

As Robin contemplates a sabbatical to see puffins in Newfoundland, a fateful google search puts everything on hold.

Letters to Singapore by Kelly Kaur, May 1, 2022, Stonehouse Originals

Genre: women's fiction, contemporary fiction, multicultural

Growing up in Singapore, Simran always knew what was expected of her: to learn how to be a good mother and wife. The only problem? Simran has no interest in any of this.


The Favor by 

When Liam seeks out Jude after 11 years and asks for what seems like a simple favor, Jude inexplicably agrees. Liam was her high school sweetheart eleven years earlier, but after a terrific car accident, they went their separate ways, until now, when he returns to ask for The Favor.

Thrilling and suspenseful, the book leads you to the links between the two very different people and Liam's strange request. The favor leads Jude into Liam's present life, revealing a strange assortment of uninhibited arty types all living together in a large rundown house that Liam inherited. 

 Well plotted and written, this is another of Nicci French's thrillers I truly enjoyed.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

May 5, 2022

Book Review: Fault Lines by Emily Itami


Fault Lines by Emily Itami, September 7, 2021, Custom House
Genre: contemporary women's fiction, multicultural
Setting: Tokyo
Source: library book
Fault Lines is about a mother and wife feeling trapped in household duties with young children, having no career of her own and an indifferent often absent husband who seems to take little interest in her home life. Mizuki has no other outlet outside of  being a perfect Japanese mother and wife, and misses the days when she was single and worked as a singer.

Enter Kiyoshi, whom Mizuki begins a friendship with that becomes more serious as they spend many days and evenings together exploring the vibrant city that is Tokyo.  Her outings happen during the school hours and on the  evenings when her children are asleep with a babysitter and her husband is working late at the office.

The cultural aspects of being a traditional woman, mother, and wife in Japan stood out for me. The rigorous expectations of society for women are difficult for Mizuki as she has lived in the U.S. and experienced more freedom and life choices. That she finds comfort in a friendship outside of her marriage is not a surprise. The outcome of this friendship could go both ways, as Mizuki is influenced by her culture and her love for her children. She describes the fault lines in herself as similar to the ones that lie beneath the city of Tokyo, always threatening to plunge the city into a catastrophe. 

I enjoyed touring Tokyo by day and night through the book, visiting the various sights, restaurants, and museums and the crowded and busy main streets. The story was excellently told to reveal a place and culture that many Westerners don't know or may not understand very well.

Book beginning:

The whole Kyoshi situation started a long time before he was ever in the picture. The way a calligraphy painting begins before the first black stroke makes it onto the page. 

Page 56: 

The bar was in Shinjuku, and though places were closing, the streets were still full of people.

The Friday 56. Find any sentence that grabs you on page 56 of your book. Post it, and add your URL to Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.

Apr 30, 2022

Sunday Salon: Romantic Comedies, a Memoir, and a Funny Thriller

 Currently reading

I'm into rom coms these days, in between reading psych thrillers for a break. See my review of The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa, author of other romances such as The Worst Best Man and Son of a Beach. 

My next read will be another rom com, Without a Hitch by Mary Holly Huddleston  and Asher Fogle Paul, Women in their 20s with a popular romantic theme - weddings. A wedding planner may eventually plan her own. 

Another library book is set in the Florida Keys, the 25th in the hilarious crime series by Tim Dorsey - Mermaid Confidential. Serge and his sidekick Coleman decide to try condo living but come across smugglers and gangs in this mystery/thriller. 

Finished reading: 

The Puma Years: A Memoir by Laura Coleman, June 1, 2021 publication
Source: World Book Day 2022 ebook

My goodreads review:
Laura Coleman and the puma Wayra are the main characters in this memoir of a friendship developed in a Bolivian wildlife sanctuary near the Amazon. Laura is one of many international volunteers at the sanctuary and her assignment is to handle and care for the puma. This involves sometimes terrifying regular walks in the jungle with the wild cat tethered on a long rope handled by Laura. The development of trust between the two over the years and Laura's subsequent dedication to wildlife conservation and writing is the heart of the memoir.

Life in the jungle sanctuary, though harsh, full of deprivation and lack of basic comforts, is embraced by many of the volunteers whose relationships with individual animals in their care keep them going on, some of them returning again and again to volunteer at the sanctuary. The interactions and affection that develop between the wild animals and humans is astounding.

I loved learning about these sanctuaries that care for wild animals rescued from abuse as tourist attractions. There are also environmental problems for the wildlife from the destruction of habitat by new roads, buildings, business developments, logging, and more. 

This informative book is written in a poetic style at times, while describing the jungle, the animals, and Laura's reaction to them. I thought the book could have been shorter as it was repetitive toward the end, with the same animal-human interactions described in detail. The poetry did not always ring true to me. 

The unusual relationship that the volunteers developed with the cats - puma, jaguar - remain with me as a wonderful and amazing part of this book.

Also read and reviewed: 

Genre: women's fiction, contemporary fiction, multicultural interest 

Medical students unsure about their careers would get a lot from reading this book.

The grueling schedules of interns and residents are what stood out the most for me in this book, about Norah, a first year intern dealing with many sleepless hours and nights on call in the hospital. She also had to be constantly aware of hospital protocol and the code of medical ethics, and dealing with uppity residents, nurses, and attending physicians.

The challenges that Nora faces from her coworkers and from patients are daunting, yet she persists, wanting to honor her deceased father, a well known physician himself.

Medical mistakes, scandals, lawsuits, are all part what Norah sees as she struggles to decide if being a doctor is really what she wants to handle for the rest of her life.

An excellent story about a woman on the way to finding her way to a fulfilling and well-rounded life, well told, and seemingly very authentic

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Apr 29, 2022

The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu: Book Review/Book Beginning


The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu, November 9, 2021, Avon, library book 

Genres:  romantic comedy, YA, contemporary fiction, immigrant fiction, multicultural interest 

Book beginning: 

All of my customers have told me at one point or another that Sunshine Donuts is their happy place. Who can blame them? There are colorful sprinkled donuts.... To live and breathe it every day, that's a different story. 

Page 56: 

His lightly tanned skin was so perfectly even and smooth, with tiny freckles under his left eye. 

Book review: 

As the title suggests, Jasmine finds herself trapped in her parents' donut shop after recently graduating from college. Her feelings of obligation to her immigrant Chinese-Cambodian parents keep her at home, knowing they need help, even though they encourage her to find a job. 

In love, dating, marriage, family obligations, career, Jas weighs what she wants for herself and what her parents expect from her. When her current crush, Alex, and his mother come to dinner at her parents' house, the evening ends in a minor disaster,  Alex is no longer welcome, and Jas is in conflict.

 But Jas is determined to live her own life and to also help her parents update their store's donut offerings to keep up with the competition, hire additional help, and leave her free to find her own path.

A contemporary novel of young adults - Jas and her brother Pat-  finding their own way while appreciating and loving their families, I gave this five stars for being spot on re this topic. 

The Friday 56. Find any sentence that grabs you on page 56 of your book. Post it, and add your URL to Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.

Apr 24, 2022

Sunday Salon: ARCs Reviewed


The Lost: A Mace Reid K-9 Mystery by Jeffrey B. Burton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
NetGalley ARC

I like K-9 mysteries and novels with dog partners for PIs. This series is new to me and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the dog trainer Mace and his motley crew of dogs, including his main cadaver dog, Vira.

The dogs were personalized, individualized by their owner Mace, and dog lovers will enjoy them. The plot was spectacular in its twists and surprises and its cast of characters, a motley group of the good, the bad, and the ugly, interacting in amazing ways.

The Lost is an excellent K-9 mystery/thriller that I enjoyed tremendously.

View all my reviews

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan, April 26, 2022, William Morrow
Genre: thriller, suspense, adventure set in Botswana
NetGalley ARC
Rating: five stars

The four "wild girls" were very close as adolescents, always sharing each other's secrets while they partied and had a good time. Two years later, leading separate lives without ever contacting each other after a feud, they are invited by one of the girls, Felicia, to her birthday party to be held in far off Botswana, all expenses paid. Who could resist?

Three of the girls fly in together and are dropped off by limousine at a remote and lonely safari resort in the plains, by the Limpopo River. But Felicia, their supposed host, doesn't appear. And the luxury resort seems deserted. The next suspenseful few days has surprises waiting for the girls at every turn, and ends with one of the three women fleeing for her life along the banks of the river, not knowing how to find other people or even a nearby town.

Plot, character delineation, setting and atmosphere, and excellent writing combine to make this a suspenseful thriller, with several surprises and twists at the end.

What's Coming To Me by Francesca Padilla
Seventeen-year-old Minerva is strangled by her mom's diagnosis of a failing heart that could take her at any time. She longs to get out of her small town and even perhaps finish school. The idea of taking revenge on her predatory boss at the ice cream stand where she works, has her thinking of ways to "take the cash and run". When she hears rumors of money  hidden in or near the ice cream stand, she and her friend CeCe try to find it.

A coming-of-age novel of a teen who has to live hand-to-mouth in straitened economic circumstances, cutting her schooling short to get a job and take care of herself and her mom, who is now in a home.

How she gets through this problem is the crux of this YA novel, but one for older adults as well, the story is moving and has its suspenseful moments, as Minerva and CeCe carry out their plan to find the hidden treasure. A very worthwhile novel of the struggles of young immigrant women to survive and thrive while on the low end of the economic and social scale.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Sunday Salon: New Books and a Book Review

  New arrivals Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by   Riku Onda ,   Alison Watts   (Translator) Publication June 16, 2022, Bitter Lemon Pres...