Feb 25, 2013

Book Review: Seven Locks by Christine Wade

"We can never know the future. Our life is like a book, a book that is locked. We have to find the key or we never know what is on the next page. And we don't know the end of the story until each page has been turned and the story has ended." (ch. 1)
A housewife in the 18th century who lives in a Dutch community at the base of the Catskills Mountains runs her farm and household without the help of her husband, a lackadaisical dreamer who abandons her and their son and daughter after a particularly scathing verbal attack from his wife. The children also leave home as young teenagers fed up with their hardworking, demanding mother and craving independence. Alone, the woman copes until the Revolutionary War turns her life upside down, forcing her to turn another key in the book of her life.

The hard life of a woman on a farm in a Dutch farming community along the Hudson River near the Catskills Mountains, the Revolutionary War, and local folklore are all tied up in this engrossing historical novel. Excellent characterization, descriptions, and storytelling.

Title: Seven Locks: A Novel by Christine Wade
Publisher: Atria Books, January 1, 2013
Source: review copy from publisher

Submitted to Book Review Wednesday hosted by Cym Lowell

Feb 24, 2013

Books: A Cold and Lonely Place; and The Stonecutter

A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry and The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg were two of my three dark mystery reads this past week, fitting reads for a cold though not lonely winter.

A Cold and Lonely Place
A Cold and Lonely Place is set in a small town in the Adirondack Mountains, upper New York State. It is cold in the winter and a lonely place for Tobin, an outsider who has made his home in this out of the way place, know for winter sports and its annual Winter Festival.

A freelance newspaper reporter, Troy Chance, is on scene at Saranac Lake to cover the ice cutting for an ice palace to be built for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Works stops when a body is found in the frozen lake, encased in ice. Everyone recognizes it as Tobin, the popular outsider. Troy works with Tobin's sister Win, who comes into town to find out the whys and hows of Tobin's death. Through her research and interviews for a series of stories for the local paper, Troy takes risks several times to find out more about Tobin's background, the death by drowning of his older brother Trey, and his life before and after he arrives in the Adirondacks. This extensive research helps solve the sad mystery of the young man's death.

I thought this mystery was about the tragic results in a family with "toxic" parents who ignored and actively worked against the best interests of their children. It was easy to like Troy, the young reporter turned sleuth, and I hope to read more about her in the next books in the Troy Chance series.

I won a copy of this book from the author.

The Stonecutter: A Novel
The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg is set in the remote fishing village of Fjallbacka, Sweden, a psychological mystery involving a young girl found in the sea, presumably drowned, and whose death is the result of family dynamics that go way back in the past. Re the flashbacks to the past, I couldn't see right away how they tied to the story of the present. Too much of the book had two different story lines that took too long to connect. Otherwise, great plots!

I like to think of an alternate title for the book - The Stonecutter's Daughter, though it's a mystery and not an historical novel!

Publisher's description: The remote resort town of Fjallbacka has seen its share of tragedy, though perhaps none worse than that of the little girl found in a fisherman’s net. But this was no accidental drowning . . .Local detective Patrik Hedstrom has just become a father. It’s his grim task to discover who could be behind the murder of a child both he and his partner Erica knew well. What he does not know is how this case will reach into the dark heart of Fjallbacka, spanning generations, ripping aside its idyllic façade, perhaps forever.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Last week, I posted a review of another psychological suspense novel, The Burning Air by Erin Kelly, a book about how a mother's obsession adversely influenced her child.

What have you been reading this winter? I am keeping my cozies for spring!

Feb 22, 2013

Book Review: THE BURNING AIR by Erin Kelly

A dark novel of obsession, retribution, and abuse of power, not in the order in which they occur, but the order in which they appear in the book.

Young Darcy Kellaway is denied a scholarship to a prestigious high school which he thinks is the key to a bright future, and blames the well-to-do McBride family for his failure and for the subsequent death of his mother.

Darcy slowly develops into a dark and devious personality, driven by the memory of his mother's despair and death from anorexia. This drives him to do anything to prove the McBrides deliberately denied him the scholarship and ruined his life in favor of their own son. He begins to stalk each member of the household, sneak into their house in their absence to learn their secrets, map their movements and schedules.

Obsessively plotting revenge for over twelve years even after he becomes a successful businessman, Darcy coerces a young woman grieving for a lost child to be part of his master plan. Together, they infiltrate the McBride family and try to unravel the family's close knit group by uncovering secrets of the mother Lydia McBride, whose diaries reveal too much of her pain and the secrets of her past dealings with the young Darcy.

The story becomes a psychological thriller that is fascinating to the last, when all the characters converge in an isolated house in Devon, England for the Guy Fawkes holiday and Bonfire Night, and the drama is played out to a suspenseful end.

This kept me reading and on the edge of my seat, as did the author's previous book, The Dark Rose. Excellent writing, plotting, and characterization. Erin Kelly has my kudos for another engaging dark thriller.

Title: The Burning Air by Erin Kelly
Published: Pamela Dorman Books; February 21, 2013
Genre: psychological thriller, suspense
Source: review copy from the publisher

Feb 20, 2013


Title: The Secret of the Nightingale Palace: A Novel by Dana Sachs
Published: February 19, 2013; William Morrow paperback
Genre: historical fiction, romance

A recent widow Anna, who lives in Memphis, is persuaded by her eighty-year-old grandmother Goldie Rosenthal to drive her cross country to San Francisco in Goldie's Silver Cloud Rolls Royce. When Anna insists on flying instead, her grandmother insists that Anna take the car on the long journey, where Anna is to sell it before flying back to the East Coast. Her grandmother would be boarding a flight from San Francisco to Dubai for another in her long list of international trips.

The reason for the road trip, says Goldie, is to return a book of valuable Japanese woodblock prints to their rightful owner, Mayumi Nakamura, a Japanese girl who gave them to Goldie for safe keeping in the 1940s during the time of the Japanese-American internment, when Goldie was living in San Francisco. Goldie did not seem to have a good reason for not returning the prints after the war, saying she was too poor and distraught at the time to think about it.

The novel covers the long road trip, with Anna driving a cantankerous and disapproving Goldie, who continues to harp at Anna for her marriage to her now deceased husband Ford, a librarian below her in status and unsuitable in every way, according to Goldie. The real reason for the trip becomes clearer at the end of the book when Anna discovers more about Goldie - her true affection for Anna and Goldie's past and history.

My comments: The book is both a revealing historical novel and a heartfelt romance. The historical sections are the flashbacks to Goldie's life in San Francisco in the 1940's as well as her life as a young Jewish immigrant trying to make it in New York City before and after the war. Romance in Goldie's life covers her years in San Francisco, her first heart break and her first marriage, and her second marriage in New York.

Though the book was to me slow in parts - the details of the trip sometimes too long - it was worth getting to the later chapters when Goldie's secrets are revealed and Anna is tempted out of her reclusive widowhood into a new relationship and a chance for a new life.

Recommendations: For those who like American WWII historical domestic fiction and for romance lovers. It will also appeal to those who enjoy reading about intercultural relationships, family, and Japanese art.

For more reviews, visit Book Tour stops by TLC Book Tours. I received an ARC of this book for the tour.

Dana Sachs is the author of the novel If You Lived Here and two books of nonfiction, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam and The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with her family.Visit her website, Facebook, Twitter.

Feb 18, 2013

The First Rule of Ten by Hendricks and Lindsay

Two memes that feature books weekly: Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences from your current read and identify author and title for readers. First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Opening sentences in a book can help readers decide if the book is one they would continue reading. 

The opening paragraphs of The First Rule of Ten begin with a letter from Tenzing Norbu, an ex-monk turned police officer in Los Angeles, to his former religious superiors in India.

Topanga Canyon, Calif. Jan. 12, Year of the Iron Tiger
Lama Yeshe and Lama Lobsang
Dorje Yidam Monastery
Dharamshala, India 
Venerable Brothers,
Last Friday night, I tasted one of life's sweet little experiences.
Saturday, I got shot.
It makes me wonder if I have a low tolerance for things going well in my  world.
Or maybe I just need to be more mindful of what's going on, both outside and in.
Would the beginning sentences in the book entice you to continue reading?

Title: The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery
Authors: Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
Published: January 1, 2012; Hay House Visions
Genre: mystery

About the book: Growing up in a Tibetan Monastery, Ten dreamed of becoming a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. So when he was sent to Los Angeles to teach meditation, he joined the LAPD instead. But as the Buddha says, change is inevitable; and ten years later, everything is about to change—big-time—for Ten. One resignation from the police force, two bullet-wounds, three suspicious deaths, and a beautiful woman later, he quickly learns that whenever he breaks his first rule, mayhem follows. (publisher)

The first rule of Ten by the way, is: “Don’t ignore intuitive tickles lest they reappear as sledgehammers.” 

Feb 17, 2013

Sunday Salon: The Comfort of Lies: A Novel by Randy Susan Meyers

I found out a lot about open adoption while reading The Comfort of Lies - the inherent pluses as well as the inevitable downsides.  Open adoptions allow open access between a child's adoptive parents and the child's biological parents. The three women involved in the life of the adopted child, Savannah are her biological mother Tia,  her adoptive mother Caroline, and Juliette, the distraught wife of the child's biological father. The three women, in spite of the lies they tell others and themselves, face problems and difficulties of their own making, but come through with flying colors, though only at the very end of the book after much soul searching and hand wringing.

This was a fascinating read. Well drawn, realistic characters and excellent writing.

TitleThe Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers
Publisher: Atria Books, February 12, 2013
Genre: contemporary fiction
Source: review copy from the publisher

Feb 14, 2013

A Valentine's Gift: New Books

My new reads for Valentine's Day are not romance novels!

There are two nonfiction books: Literary Rogues and a memoir, Once Upon a Gypsy Moon, as well as the historical novel, Seven Locks. A contemporary mystery, A Cold and Lonely Place, is by the award winning writer, Sara J. Henry.

Click on the covers for details about the books. I won A Cold and Lonely Place from the author through a contest by Poe's Deadly Daughters.

What are you reading on Valentine's Day?

Feb 12, 2013

Book Review: Whip Smart by Kit Brennan

Title: Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards by Kit Brennan
Published January 1, 2012; Astor + Blue Editions
Genre: historical mystery
About the main character: The historical Lola Montez was a famous Spanish dancer born in Ireland in 1818 as Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert. She first called herself Lola Montez in 1843 when she performed in London. A success throughout Europe, she acquired fame, notoriety, as well as famous lovers. She was said to always carry a whip with her and used it for protection. 
Whip Smart is a clever mystery that uses the historical Lola as a main character. It weaves the mystery plot into parts of Lola's real life - her Irish background, an elopement and failed marriage, her life in India, her training in Spain as a dancer, her dalliances, even her trademark Spider dance.

My take: The novel is written with a lot of humor that plays up the daring and sensuous Lola. The book combines a bit of erotica with a smart mystery plot. I think it's the first in what will be a great series. The title Whip Smart is also a good way to describe the book.
Book description: In London, in 1842, 22-year-old Eliza Gilbert/Lola Montez  is offered a trip to Spain to act as a spy for the exiled Spanish queen, Maria Cristina. In Madrid, her secret task is to seduce two figures at court in order to disgrace and distract them, but she falls in love with her accomplice, General Diego de Léon. When the plot is exposed, Diego is captured, and Lola is forced to flee on horseback to France, with a dangerous group of Loyalists in pursuit. (publisher's description).

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of the book.

Feb 11, 2013

Mailbox Monday: February 11, 2013

Welcome to Mailbox Monday where you can share what books came to house in the last week! This week’s Mailbox is hosted by Unabridged Chick.

I was delighted to receive these last week: Click on the titles for book details.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid, an ARC from Riverhead Books
Release date: March 5, 2013

Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh, an ARC from Putnam Adult
Release date: March 7, 2013
Temple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors, from the Penguin Group
Publication date: February 5, 2013; NAL Group

Tell us, what books came in your mailbox last week?

Feb 10, 2013

Sunday Salon: Happy Lunar New Year

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

Courtesy of China Highlights.com

Happy Chinese New Year of the Water Snake, or Happy Spring Festival as China celebrates fifteen days of the new lunar year.

We're having fun today with Chinese foods. We made sticky-rice cakes yesterday, a simple recipe with rice flour, brown sugar, and dried fruit, steamed - a traditional new year's food. We also plan to have jiaozi , Chinese dumplings stuffed with ground pork, chopped green onions, and vegetables. We bought a bag of these at the Asian market as it's too complicated to make them on short notice. And of course, we will have oodles of noodles, symbols of longevity!

I think all the Chinese restaurants will be closed today, at least in the U.S., (I can't tell about Canada) so although it's a Sunday, it's probably not a day to try to get any Chinese food that you don't make yourself!

I posted a review of The Aviator's Wife, a novel that I found very satisfying - good storytelling, historical information and insight into what the intimate and personal lives of Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh must have been like. It's on the NY Times bestseller list too.

I also reviewed a crime novel set in Brazil, Perfect Hatred, the sixth of the Chief Inspector Mario Silva mystery series by Leighton Gage. It tells a lot about politics and corruption in Brazil and relationships with nearby countries. Pick up the series, especially if you plan on going to Rio for the 2016 Olympics, but I don't think it will scare you away from going!

My reading tastes have broadened slightly and I am now reading more YA fantasy, in addition to general women's fiction. I have started The Farm by Emily McKay, about a girl trying to escape a death camp or farm prison, a futuristic novel. I haven't read far enough as yet to describe the novel as dystopic. It certainly doesn't seem to be anyone's paradise, except for the predators'.

I'm also reading a jaunty novel, Whip Smart by Kit Brennan, for a book tour. The book is based on the real life adventures of 19th century Lola Montez. set in France, England, and Spain. It's a galloping romp so far!

My cup of coffee with a mix of almond and soy milk added is heating up. Better get to it! Have a great Sunday, everyone, whether you plan on reading or eating, or both.

Feb 8, 2013

Featured Book: Perfect Hatred by Leighton Gage

Title: Perfect Hatred by Leighton Gage
Release date: February 19, 2013; Soho Crime
Genre: police procedural, mystery set in Brazil

About the book: Chief Inspector Mario Silva and his team have a heavy work load with several high-profile cases. First, a suicide bombing that was apparently the work of a militant Islamist group. Then, a gubernatorial candidate is assassinated in broad daylight at a campaign rally. Could the cases be related? To complicate Silva's investigation, a criminal with a very bad grudge against the Chief Inspector has been released from prison and is plotting ugly revenge. (publisher)

This teaser to me shows the focus of this novel set in Brazil:
"I've been explaining that to our Maximum Leader for the last ten minutes, Silva said, "but he isn't having it. It appears Pontes owes the incumbent governor a favor....
"So it's just politics and favoritism," Hector snapped.
"Just politics and favoritism," Silva agreed.
(ch. 4, from an advance uncopyedited edition; final copy may differ)

Local politics in Brazil involving corruption, a complex relationship with the neighboring country of Paraguay, and the possibility of a terrorist threat in Brazil and on its borders fuel the plot of this political mystery. Though I found the many Brazilian names hard to keep track of at the beginning, the novel soon evened out for me into a suspenseful police procedural that ties together the disparate events and people introduced in the first few chapters.

I would recommend the book to those interested in Brazil and South America and to seasoned mystery lovers.

Thanks to the author for sending an advance review copy.

Book Review: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Title: The Aviator's Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
Published January 15, 2013; Delacorte Press
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 5/5

About the book: an historical novel about the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife and copilot, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
"Certainly, despite his accomplishments, his busy schedule, Charles was never content.  The other morning, I happened to glimpse him as he left for work.... And I felt uneasy watching him leave, wondering for the first time, if today was the day he would decide to jump into a plane and fly away from me for good."(ch. 9, Advance Reader's Edition). 
The novel portrays Anne Morrow Lindbergh as a woman who willingly came second to her husband, the famous aviator who gained fame when he flew solo from New York to Paris on the now famous monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, in May 1927.  Charles carefully molded her life after their marriage, and made her into an aviatrix who became his copilot on numerous subsequent flights. He even insisted she leave her infant son Charlie to accompany him on a six month flying trip around the world, a compromise she reluctantly made.

Things changed for the famous couple after the kidnapping and murder of their first son. The couple moved to England to avoid the scrutiny of the press and the country, and Charles demanded that Anne never speak about the baby Charlie, not even to the five children they had afterwards.

Charles Lindberg is portrayed in the book as driven - a perfectionist, an almost obsessive compulsive man, in my thinking. With an eye always to the future, he hardly had time to spend with his children as they were growing up, leaving it up to Anne as he flew around the world in many capacities including being a flying consultant. Anne is seen as a woman searching for herself while raising her children alone. Charles encouraged her to write, which she did, and she helped him polish his memoir of his famous first flight, The Spirit of St. Louis, a book which won him a Pulitzer Prize and which was also made into a popular film. She also wrote her now famous book, Gift from the Sea.

When does a hero stop being a hero, the book made me wonder. The novel goes into the controversial wartime period when Charles's speeches seemed to support Hitler and the Nazis. He redeemed himself after the war, and became once again busy, being asked by the likes of Henry Ford and Pan Am to lend them his technical expertise. But this book is about Anne Morrow Lindberg, how she saw her life with Charles Lindbergh, the kidnapping of their son, her up and down life with her famous husband, and how she finally came into her own, toward the end of Charles's life.

The historical details are there in the book, but the feelings of Anne Morrow Lindbergh are a portrayal based on her diaries, letters, and books. Anne comes across as a very real person that you get to know intimately in the book. I think this novel is a stunning achievement as historical fiction. I recommend it for those interested in the Lindberghs and in American historical fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for an Advance Reader's Edition of this book. 

Feb 6, 2013

Author Khanh Ha, guest post

Welcome to Khanh Ha, author of the historical novel Flesh (Black Heron Press, 2012) set in early 20th century Vietnam. He gives us the background and inspiration for his book and the family history that impels this story.  He also discusses his upcoming and second novel.

The Ideas and Inspiration Behind It
by Khanh Ha
Flesh, is set in Tonkin (now northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. It tells the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who witnesses the execution, by beheading of his father, a notorious bandit and sets out to recover his father’s head, and then finds the man who betrayed his father to the authorities.

A coming-of-age story of brutal self-awakening and also a tender love story, takes the reader into places, both dark and wonderful, in the human condition where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy can bring you the most solace. As its author, I was asked what inspired me to write about this specific subject.

There was an image formed in my mind after I read a book called War and Peace in Hanoi and Tonkin, which was written by a French military doctor. In one chapter he depicted an execution by capital punishment. The scene took place on a wasteland outside Hanoi. This bandit was beheaded for his crime while the onlookers, some being his relatives with children, watched in muted fascination and horror. While reading it, I imagined a boy—his son—was witnessing the decapitation of his father by the hand of the executioner. I pictured him and his mother as they collected the body without the head which the government would display at the entrance of the village his father had looted. I thought what if the boy later set out to steal the head so he could give his father an honorable burial. What if he got his hand on the executioner’s sabre and used it to kill the man who betrayed his father for a large bounty. However, it really started with a story within my family.  My mom told me that my grandfather was one of the last mandarins of the Hue Court, circa 1930.
At that time the Vietnamese communists were coming into power. They condemned any person a traitor, who worked either for the French or the Hue Court. So my grandpa was a traitor in their eye. One day news came to him that a communist gathering was to be held in one of the remote villages from Hue. He set out to that village with some of his bodyguards to punish the communists. Unfortunately, news leaked out about his trip. He was ambushed on the road—his bodyguards were killed—and he was beheaded. The communists threw his body into a river.

My grandma hired a witch doctor to look for his headless body. Eventually the witch doctor found it. They were able to identify his body based on the ivory name tablet in his tunic. My grandma hired someone to make a fake head out of a coconut shell wrapped in gilded paper and buried my grandpa on the Ngu Binh Mountain. The beheading of grandpa surfaced again while I was reading the decapitation scene in War and Peace in Hanoi and Tonkin.

I spend much, much time in researching before I write. I’m a perfectionist and the harshest critic of myself. I have to know everything about what I’m going to write—well, sort of—before I ever pen the first word. Indeed much research was done before I felt dead sure about writing it.

More than once I was asked if I’m currently busy with a work-in-progress.

Yes, I’m about done with my next novel. But I rarely talk about what I’m working on. It may sound like a hard-line stance. But well, I can give you a harmless description. When I was still a struggling young writer, I came across a very old Vietnamese magazine article written about a centenarian eunuch of the Imperial Court of Hue. He was already dead the year the story was published, circa 1966. Two years before I was born. A sketchy story whose facts were gleaned from the eunuch’s adopted daughter, that ended with a small halftone photograph of her portrait. I put the article away. But I couldn’t put the story away, even months after. It dawned on me then that it wasn’t the story.

It was the face in the photograph. I traveled to Hue, Vietnam in the summer of 1991. I was 23. I went with her image in the photograph and when I finally met her, the eunuch’s daughter, that image hadn’t changed. She was someone like a forbidden love to a young man half her age. The first time she gave me a glimpse of her past from her spotted memory, it was in a sugarcane field where two decades earlier, her lover—a young American—had died in her arms.

Thanks to the author for this very interesting post. For reviews of his book, visit Virtual Author Book Tours.

About the book:  

The title refers to temptation-the temptation of the flesh. But it refers equally to the obligations of kinship, the connections between us and those to whom we are related, even if we would choose not to be. 

Khanh Ha was born in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. During his teen years, he began writing short stories, which won him several awards in the Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. FLESH (Black Heron Press, June 2012) is his first novel (literary fiction).

Visit the author at: http://www.authorkhanhha.com

Thanks to Teddy Rose at Virtual Author Book Tours for this guest post by the author.

To see my July 26, 2012 comments on the book, visit my Review.

Feb 5, 2013

Book Teaser/First Paragraph: TARGETS OF REVENGE by Jeffrey S. Stephens

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers. 

First Chapter,  First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Over Lago de Maracaibo, Venezuela

Jordan Sandor was strapped into the small cockpit of the BSG-29 glider. The C-47 twin engine that had been rigged to draw him up into the moonless night began its run down the tarmac. There was an abrupt tug as the towrope was yanked taut, then Sandor felt a second more violent jerk as he was lifted into the air. (ch. 1)

What do you think of the opening sentences of Targets of Revenge, a Jordan Sandor thriller? Does the tease make you want to read on?

Publisher's description:CIA Agent Jordan Sandor is on the hunt for the cold-blooded sociopath known as Adina, whose indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people, including Sandor’s close friend, represents man at his worst.

Feb 4, 2013

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday: What Are You Reading, Feb. 4

It's Monday: What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Unabridged Chick this month.

Check out both blogs and add yours!

I am most of the way through The Aviator's Wife, an emotional but well written book that I received a few weeks ago and am taking in small doses.

I never thought I'd be reading a YA fantasy/vampire novel, except for those written by Meg Cabot, but I've started The Lost Soul: a 666 Park Avenue Novel.  I missed the first two in the series, but I can still follow this one.  Publisher's summary: "Jane Boyle discovered her mother-in-law Lynne Doran is actually a powerful, ancient witch who prolongs her life over time by inhabiting the bodies of younger women! As Jane and her friends attempt to tap into power stronger than Lynne's, Jane's estranged husband Malcom arrives to join the fight ...but can she grow to trust him before it's too late?" I'm enjoying this one as the story is well written. Must be the child/YA in me!

Another witchy book that appeared on my doorsteps is Shattered Circle by Linda Robertson, with modern witch Persephone, a werewolf boyfriend, and a seductive vampire as the main characters. Sounds a bit over the top for me!

The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg is a book I can easily predict I'll like. It's by a well known Swedish crime writer, whose main characters - a local detective and his girlfriend - suspect that the drowning of their little girl is the result of black secrets in their quiet fishing village. Sounds suspenseful.

Another mystery I've received is Ring Around the Rosy by Jackie Fullerton. A law student and her attorney fiancé leave their Midwestern town for a holiday in Florida, only to be faced with a murder they have to solve.

That should be enough to keep me busy this week and more..... What did you get in the mail or are reading this week?

Feb 2, 2013

Sunday Salon: No Shadows on the Snowiest Day

The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow today in Pennsylvania and so predicted an early spring! That was nice to hear, considering today we had one of our snowiest days in Ohio, with several inches of white on the ground and more snow dusting down.

And never mind that our local groundhog, HuckyToo, saw his shadow and predicted the opposite - six more weeks of winter! We hope that Hucky is wrong and Punxy is right!

I finished a library book, one that I grabbed minutes after it hit the shelves for the first time in our library - Speaking From Among the Bones, the fifth in the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley.I finished it pronto and promptly wrote a review. (Click on the title to see it).

I am more than half way through the stirring and emotional novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the wife of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh,  The Aviator's Wife written by Melanie Benjamin. I hope to write a review soon.

After a long period of not borrowing library books, I came away with three other books - two novels and a mystery. Click on the covers for the details.


This should help keep me occupied for the next six weeks of winter! What are you reading?

Book Review: Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

Title: Speaking from Among the Bones: a Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
Published January 29, 2013; Delacorte Press hardcover
Genre: mystery
Source: library
The face of a carved wooden imp grinned at me saucily in the shadows. I touched his puffed-out polished cheeks and gave them a twist.
There was a click and the panel slid open.
I stepped carefully inside.
(ch. 13)
Flavia de Luce, the young chemist and amateur sleuth, turns age 12 and begins to be taken more seriously by her older sisters, who used to tease her horribly, telling her she was adopted or a foundling. Her distracted father tells her that she is a "genius" like her mother, who died years ago in a mountaineering accident in the Himalayas.

Flavia, traveling around on a rickety bicycle she named Gladys, goes on to solve the murder of an organist at their church in the English village of Bishop's Lacy, and in so doing, unearths a mystery surrounding the local saint, St. Tancred, who may be an early ancestor of her family, the de Luces.

I liked this book as much as the first in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which won the author the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award, the Agatha Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Macavity Award, and the Spotted Owl Award.

Feb 1, 2013

Book Tour/Review: A Tainted Dawn by B. N. Peacock

Title: A Tainted Dawn: The Great War, Book I by B. N. Peacock
Published March 1, 2012; Fireship Press
Genre: historical fiction
Setting: 18th century Europe, the Caribbean

Book description:
Setting and time: August 1789.  A new age dawns.The Rights of Man. Liberty. Equality. Idealism. Patriotism. And yet, old hostilities persist: England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships.

The main characters: Three youths – Jemmy Sweetman, the son of an English carpenter;  Edward Deveare, the son of a naval captain; and Louis Saulnier, the son of a French court tailor – meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives. The English boys, Jemmy and Edward, find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean, while Louis, the Frenchman, sails to Trinidad, where he meets a Spanish revolutionary even more zealous than himself.

The conflict: As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other. Will the dawn of the boys’ young manhood remain bright with hope? Or will it become tainted with their countrymen’s spilled blood? (publisher's description)

My comments: Jemmy, the carpenter's son, joins the ship's crew to escape a life of hardship and a harsh and uncaring father. Edward is separated from his mother and sent by his guardian, an Admiral, to serve on the King's ship Amphitrite after the death of his father. The boys encounter Louis, the French boy, a staunch revolutionary who is dead set against the aristos or aristocrats, whether French or English.

I was taken with Edward's mother fighting to regain her son and to bring him home from what she saw as a life of hardship sailing. I appreciated that the novel is painstakingly researched and the historical times well recreated. As a novel of history, it is excellent. As a story about three boys, I felt that history took precedence and overrode the human aspects of the story. I would have liked to see the boys' individual characters more developed. Overall, an excellent effort for history lovers as well as for those curious about life and politics in the tumultuous times of 18th century Europe.

About the author: B. N. Peacock has had a life-long passion for history and writing. She majored in Classical languages and earned graduate degrees in International Relations and Agricultural Economics. She soon came up with the idea of writing about history from different perspectives. This was the start of A Tainted Dawn and the Great War (French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars) series. She lives in Manassas, Virginia with her family. Connect with her at her WEBSITE | BLOG

For other reviews, see the tour schedule.
Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for a review copy of the book.

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