Jan 16, 2020

Ghost of the Bamboo Road by Susan Spann: Book Beginning and Review

Ghost of the Bamboo Road (Shinobi Mystery #7)

Ghost of the Bamboo Road by Susan Spann

November 12, 2019, copy from Seventh Street Books
Setting: a mountain village in 16th Century Japan 
Book beginning:
"This doesn't look like a travel road." Father Mateo squinted at the narrow, uneven trail running up the rocky slope ahead. Patches of icy snow still clung to the base of the towering cedars along the left side of the path. On the right, a stand of broad-leaved bamboo grass grew high enough to block the view.... 
Page 56:  
"Is something wrong?" Father Mateo whispered.
"The tracks seem to end."
"They can't just end." the Jesuit looked down the mountain. 
Hiro, a Japanese ninja, and the Jesuit priest, Father Mateo, whom he has been sworn to protect while he is in Japan, are traveling to a remote mountain village in the dead of winter. Their mission is to warn a female ninja that she might be compromised;  her identity as a spy could be discovered and her life in danger. 

However, what the two find is a village under siege from what they believe to be a vengeful ghost that could be taking the life of the villagers. Hiro and Father Mateo decide to solve this puzzle while searching for the female ninja they came to warn. 

Atmospheric in its detailed description of place and setting, this seventh novel in the Hiro Hattori Shinobi Mystery is a delightful read that puts you squarely into a time and place that feels both exotic and exciting to this Western reader. 

Though I've been to Japan, I've seen only its cities, and the book makes me curious about the mountains, hills, and forests that are such a perfect setting for a ghost story and mystery. 

I have become fond of both Hiro and Father Mateo from the previous books, and am looking forward to the author's next in the series! 

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 at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Jan 12, 2020

Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron: Sunday Salon


It's January 12 and there's snow on the ground! I don't know if I like this or not, as we have been having spring like weather with lots of rain and wind. Wonder what the rest of winter will be like.....

I finished two books out of the three pledged for the European Reading Challenge 2020. I'll add more books in all probability. Here are the review links:


The Girl Who Lived Twice (Millennium, #6)

The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz , Sweden


Death in Kew Gardens

 Death in Kew Gardens by Jennifer Ashley, England


I also finished Hallie Ephron's latest suspense novel, Careful What You Wish For, which I liked very much.  

Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron, August 2019, William Morrow, library book


The main character is a personal organizer who helps people declutter and organize items in their homes.

However, Emily Harlow gets herself into deep water when she takes on two new clients, one a widow wanting her husband's storage unit cleared out, and the other a younger wife asking to get rid of personal belongings stored in her garage. 

The two jobs seem clear cut, until Emily opens the widow's storage unit and until the other client's husband goes missing.

Emily and her work partner Becca and her mother Lila have to decide what to do in these two cases, and in the end Emily finds herself involved in what are clearly crimes. 
In addition, she has to deal with her hoarding husband Frank, who fills the attic, basement, and his personal spaces with unusual odds and ends that he collects.

Good writing and character development, and an intriguing plot, made the book entertaining for me and well worth reading. For mystery and suspense lovers and those curious about personal organizers and how they work. 

Five stars.

The next book on my list for Firsts in 2020 is

 The House of Brides by Jane Cockram, psychological suspense set in England. 


What have you been reading in January 2020?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Jan 11, 2020

Death in Kew Gardens by Jennifer Ashley: European Reading Challenge 2020




European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader


Death in Kew Gardens (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #3)
Death in Kew Gardens
Title: Death in Kew Gardens by Jennifer Ashley 
Setting: London, Kew Gardens
Time: Victorian era
Genre: mystery 

The book caught my eye because of my interest in plants, gardens, and gardening! This is the third in the Kate Holloway Mysteries set in Victorian London. Published June 4, 2018 by Berkley. Book from my shelves.

An unknown Chinese man gives Kate a box of Chinese tea when she meets him by chance on the street in front of the house where she is employed as a cook. She tries to clear him, with the help of her beau, Daniel, when Mr. Li is later suspected of the murder of Sir Jacob, Kate's neighbor and a collector of Asian antiquities and exotic plants. 

A lot of the action takes place in Kew Gardens as well as in Kate's household and the house of Sir Jacob. The descriptions of the plants and trees in Kew's Palm House and the Temperate House add to the interest of the novel, its plot and characters. 

The book is well planned and written, and transports us easily into the Victorian era of obsession with new plant collection and amassing items from the East.


Five stars. 


Have you joined this reading challenge? Which books are you reading?

Jan 8, 2020

Review: The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz: European Reading Challenge

European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader


Here is the first of three books for this challenge:
The Girl Who Lived Twice (Millennium, #6)

Title: The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz  

About: #6 in the Millennium series first created by Stieg Larsson, 2019

Setting: Sweden and Russia
Genre: Scandinavian thriller, suspense

Lizbeth Salander has her own problems to worry about, namely her crazed sister Camilla's obsession with finding and destroying Lizbeth, whom she blames for so much. 

As a result, Lizbeth pays half-hearted attention to her old co-worker and friend Mikael Blomquist, who is also looking for her. But for different reasons. He needs her help to solve another case involving a strange, homeless and destitute man on the streets with incoherent messages about the Defense Minister of Sweden.  


And so the case involves another mystery involving government officials. This one, printed in 2019, uses current global situations to weave its plot. There is supposed Russian involvement in Swedish political affairs, cases of fake news, and disinformation to destroy careers and reputations. Though this novel is fiction, certain themes sound familiar. 


And so, the novel pulls you in, with the characters that we know from previous books in the series - Salander and Mikael Blomquist - and also with the larger plot. To add to the interest, several of the book's characters are involved in a fatal climb on Mount Everest, where devious and dreadful things take place. 


A definite five rating for this reader, for sure. I'm looking forward for more of Lizbeth and Blomquist in the next books that are sure to come.


Jan 4, 2020

Sunday Salon: First Reads of the Year - Mystery Novels

I can't get away from reading mystery novels. For the first books of the year, I have chosen, or rather, these book have fallen into my hands - from the library and from my TBR pile.

The Girl Who Lived Twice (Millennium, #6)

The Girl Who Lived Twice, #6 in the Millennium series first created by Stieg Larsson, 2019, library book


Death in Kew Gardens (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #3)
Death in Kew Gardens
Death in Kew Gardens by Jennifer Ashley caught my eye because of my interest in plants, gardens, and gardening! This is the third in the Kate Holloway Mysteries set in Victorian London. Published June 4, 2018 by Berkley. Book from my shelves.


The House of Brides
The House of Brides

The House of Brides, a first novel by Jane Cockram, October 22, 2019, Harper

Genre: psychological suspense. Book from my shelves
A young  woman flees to a family estate in England, but finds not safety, but only danger, there. 

Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron, August 2019, William Morrow, library book

I chose this book because of the main character - a professional organizer who helps people declutter. An unusual plot with great possibilities for a mystery. Seems like Emily Harlow not only has her clients to deal with, but a hoarding husband as well...

I plan to read non-mystery novels as well in 2020 and have a few on my list already, thanks to suggestions from fellow readers. 

What are your first reads this year?
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Dec 29, 2019

European Reading Challenge 2020

European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

I've signed up for the Three Star (Business Traveler) to read three books from three different countries. Go to the link to join in. There is a prize for reading and reviewing the most books that qualify. 

Sunday Salon: A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #15)

A Better Man by Louise Penny, August 27, 2019, Minotaur Books

Genre: suspense, thriller 
Source: library book 

Inspector Gamache, agreeing to return to work in the homicide department in Montreal under diminished circumstances, finds himself second to his son-in-law in the Surete hierarchy. However, there is no conflict as others had expected. Gamache shows humility and willingness to work under his son-in-law, Jean-Guy, but goes out of his way to solve, in his own way, a case of a missing woman that comes to his attention through a new member of the department.

Suspense and another excellent plot and character delineation make this a very good read. The retirement of Jean-Guy to another position in Paris leaves the way open for more of Gamache in his previous role as sole head of the homicide department. I'm looking forward to more.



New mysteries on the shelf:
Careless Whiskers (Cat in the Stacks #12)

Careless Whiskers by Miranda James

January 21, 2020, Berkley 
Genre: cozy mystery
When librarian Charlie Harris' daughter is falsely accused of murder, he and his faithful feline Diesel must leap forward to crack the case .

Murder Ink (Victoria Square, #6)
Murder Ink by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson, December 31, 2019, Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

A tattoo parlor on Victoria Square? Some of the merchants get hot under the collar at the proposal, but could they be driven to kill to stop it? That's what the sheriff's office and Katie Bonner want to know when the building's owner is electrocuted with his own saw. (publisher)

What are you reading this week?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You ReadingMailbox Monday and Sunday Salon

Dec 2, 2019

Book Review: The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

Genre: thriller, suspense, British mystery
May 28, 2019, Park Row

Just finished reading this morning....

A thriller with memory....Lots of info re how our memories work and the circumstances under which it does not work. A woman shows up in an English town after traveling from Berlin and losing her memory as soon as she arrives at Heathrow Airport.  A couple take her in and set out to find out the story behind this unusual woman.

When one mystery is solved about who the mystery woman is not,  another plot continues to solve the riddle of who she really is and why she showed up at this specific house in the town of Wiltshire, England. The action moves to Berlin and India, with themes of memory, amnesia, Alzheimer's, and missing persons. Excellent reading and plotting.

I gave this an enthusiastic five stars. 


It's Monday: What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Date.

Nov 17, 2019

It's Monday! Reading Japan and Vietnam


Ghost of the Bamboo Road (Shinobi Mystery #7)

Ghost of the Bamboo Road by Susan Spann

November 12, 2019, copy from Seventh Street Books

 Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Jesuit priest Father Mateo of Portugal solve crimes and mysteries on their journeys in 16th century Japan.  In Ghost of the Bamboo Road, seventh in the series, the two must deal with what appears to be a vengeful ghost that terrorizes a mountain village.

The Red Lotus

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

Uncorrected proof, borrowed ebook, March 17, 2020, Doubleday
Genre: thriller, suspense
 (A)n American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met. (publisher)


What are you reading this week?
It's Monday: What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Date.

Nov 11, 2019

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

It's Monday: What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Date.


Brewed Awakening

Brewed Awakening by Cleo Coyle

December 3, 2019, Berkley Books

Theme: Temporary amnesia. Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park and has no idea she's been missing for the past week. Clare's missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed.

A Time for Murder (Murder She Wrote #50)

A Time for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land

November 26, Berkley

Theme: Jessica Fletcher returns to high school to investigate the murder of an old colleague, while we also go back in time to meet Jessica as a young teacher solving her very first murder

Also reading:


Harry's Trees
Harry's Trees

Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, June 12, 2019, Mira Books. 


Theme: A sort of modern-day magical fairy tale about a Forest Service employee who decides to follow his dream to live outdoors and find "Harry's Trees.This, to heal grief after the sudden death of his wife. Harry also helps a ten-year-old child deal with her own grief after the death of her father. 


What books are you reading this week? 

Nov 10, 2019

Sunday Salon: Cozies for November

Shot Through the Hearth (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #7)

Shot through the Hearth by Kate Carlisle, October 31, 2019, Berkley

Contractor Shannon Hammer tries to clear the name of her tech billionaire pal who is accused of murder at a conference on eco-living

The Dog Who Knew Too Much (Paws and Claws Mystery #6)

The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Krista Davis

November 26, 2019, Berkley Books

There are several books by different authors with the same title as this one, but this is the most recent, the 6th in the Paws and Claws Mystery series
Inn owner Holly Miller has to prove that her dog Trixie is really hers, when a stranger claims he is the rightful owner.

Lady Takes the Case (Manor Cat Mystery #1)

Lady Takes the Case by Eliza Casey

November 26, 2019, Berkley Books

A new historical mystery case featuring Lady Cecilia Bates and  her intuitive Manor House cat Jack, in England, 1912

The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You ReadingMailbox Monday and the Sunday Salon