Sep 28, 2013

Sunday Salon: In the Mood for Some Nonfiction Books

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Showcase Sunday at Books, Biscuits, and Tea; Mailbox Monday at Beauty in Ruins, and  It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey.

I received two nonfiction books this past week:

Book description: Veteran world-class climber and bestselling author Ed Viesturs—the only American to have climbed all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, and only the sixth man to do so without supplemental oxygen—trains his sights on Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, in richly detailed accounts of expeditions that are by turns personal, harrowing, deadly, and inspiring.

Book description: When philosophy rescued him from an emotional crisis, Jules Evans became fascinated by how ideas invented over two thousand years ago can help us today. He interviewed soldiers, psychologists, gangsters, astronauts, and anarchists and discovered the ways that people are using philosophy now to build better lives....This book is an invitation to a dream school with a rowdy faculty that includes twelve of the greatest philosophers from the ancient world, sharing their lessons on happiness, resilience, and more.

I'm in the mood for some nonfiction this winter, really.  

Sep 27, 2013

Book Beginnings: Alternate Currents by Arleen Alleman

Friday 56 Rules: *Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice.

Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

Alternate Currents: A Novel was published July 5, 2013 by Xlibris. It's the fourth in the Darcy Farthing adventure series, which deals with controversial topics the author has chosen to address.

Page 56:
I remembered why I liked him so much from the beginning. Suddenly it seemed as if we had not been apart for nearly a year, and I thought about how much he and Charlie had helped us and how much I cared about both of them.
Excerpt from the journal of Darcy Farthing
November 20, 2010

"Today was one of the best days of my life. Not necessarily the best because that was probably the day I met Rachael. I am very optimistic.From this day forward, I anticipate a future dominated by love and happiness to the extent those ideals are possible. It's not that I haven't had my share of both in the past. It's just that during the past few years, we all - I mean my family and close friends - have hit a few barriers and bounced back, with some lasting effects. physical and emotional scars remain, which only an extended time of renewal might heal."
Goodreads description: As Darcy and her fiance, Mick, are preparing for their wedding, their planning and their lives are interrupted when a good friend mysteriously disappears. Soon, Darcy finds herself in Seattle immersed in the world of domestic partners, alternative reproductive technology, and social bigotry. A shocking child abduction and two murders leave authorities with few clues, as Darcy tries to help and becomes a victim her self. Learn more at

Author: Arleen Alleman is a former senior analyst with the Government Accountability Office. Her interests include health and fitness, world religions, reading, and travel. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Tim and their cat, Xena.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.
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Sep 25, 2013

Mrs Poe by Lynn Cullen; and Golden Malicious by Sheila Connolly

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Let us know what new releases you are eagerly waiting for. Link your post to Breaking the Spine.

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen is due out October 1, 2013, published by Gallery Books.
Quite a story: "a novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife." I can't imagine anyone being involved romantically with Poe. Wonder how scary that was?

Golden Malicious: An Orchard Mystery by Sheila Connolly, is also due out on October 1, 2013, published by Berkley. It's the seventh in the series. Orchard owner Meg Corey has to solve not only the mystery of a dead body in the forest preserve, but also a mysterious insect infestation that threatens local crops.

What books are you waiting for in October? 

Sep 24, 2013

Library Finds: Three Mysteries and a Romance

Went to the library twice in the past few days and borrowed three mystery novels and a humorous romance.

Am I lucky or what? I found the new Agatha Raisin mystery at the library, just waiting for me, it seems. As usual, M.C. Beaton has another clever title for her books in the series. Her main character, a 50-plus-year-old English woman Agatha, lives in the Cotswolds in England and is a PI with a personality that is amusing and unconventional.

I do like mystery novels set in exotic (to me) places too, and this is a new series I discovered, one set in Istanbul. The main character is a 40-ish German woman named Kati Hirschel who owns a crime bookstore and becomes an amateur sleuth because of her love of mysteries. I've started with the first in the series, Hotel Bosphorus, published in 2011.

This new romance sitting on the library's New Books shelf,  Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, was irresistible, as I enjoy her storytelling and her humor. Disappointed when her boyfriend doesn't propose, her main character Lottie and a former boyfriend Ben suddenly decide to get married on the Greek island of Ikonos.  Lottie's sister and a friend of Ben's, however, have other plans for the couple and follow them to Ikonos to stop the hasty wedding.  I anticipate lots of humorous situations...

Found anything at your library lately?

Sep 21, 2013

Sunday Salon: First Day of Fall (The Autumnal Equinox)

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Showcase Sunday at Books, Biscuits, and Tea; and It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey

Today is the first day of fall and the Autumnal Equinox, when the hours of daytime and nightime are equal. We watched the full Harvest Moon on Friday, and said goodbye to summer yesterday, Saturday. Some leaves are already turning yellow and red in our area, so autumn is already on its way.

What am I reading this week?
Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney, for a book tour. That is not a typo in the title; syllabub is a sweet English dessert made with cream, wine, and cider or other acid. I thought at first it was a variation of the plural for syllabus, but it's more tasty than that.

Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose. This book I bought on sale as I was curious about the title. It's a memoir about the author's trip to China with his cousin Larry, who needed a kidney transplant. The topic isn't funny, but the author manages to make the event and trip quite humorous, so far.

What do I plan on reading soon?
The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris, who sent an AUP (advance uncorrected proof) of this historical novel for review.

Fixed: A Gin and Tonic Mystery by L.A. Kornetsky

One Dog Too Many: A May December Mystery by Lia Farrell

The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch

Poisoned Prose: A Books by the Bay Mystery by Ellery Adams

Afoot on St. Croix: A Mystery on the Islands by Rebecca M. Hale
I like mysteries with dogs, islands, and books, and hope I'll be a happy reader.

I am hosting two giveaways this week:
1. Moonrise by Cassandre King till Sept. 27, two finished copies of this gothic romance, for U. S. residents.

2. A Good Home by Cynthia Reyes, two autographed copies of this memoir, till Sept. 24, for U.S. and Canadian residents.

I hope you will click on the titles and enter. What are you doing today and this week?

Sep 20, 2013

The Other Room by Kim Triedman

Friday 56 Rules: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice.

It's what her father does best: insinuate himself into other people's relationships. She knows he is right: that she should call, that she has allowed her twin sister to drift out of her field of vision, but she resents the intrusion. His presumption of righteousness.

"Yvonne's been good to you, Claudie. Don't you forget that." (p. 56)
Title: The Other Room by Kim Triedman
To be published October 8, 2013; Owl Canyon Press
Genre: fiction

Book description: Three years after the sudden, mysterious death of their 1-year-old daughter Lily, Josef Coleman, a high-strung New York surgeon, and his editor wife Claudia Macinnes remain mired in anguish and grief. Their mourning has left them reaching out for different things in different ways: Josef for a primal, physical connection that Claudia can no longer bear, and Claudia for a connection of the soul that Josef has never really known how to offer. To numb his pain and attempt to fill the gaping hole of loss, Josef turns to a young surgical nurse named Kiera; Claudia, meanwhile, is drawn into what seems like an unrequited fantasy about her psychotherapist, Stuart. The time she spends in his office--this sole "other room" where she can allow herself to project into the future--becomes a rare bright spot in her weeks. (publisher)

About the author: Kim Triedman is a poet and novelist who has won numerous honors and awards. "I have three books coming out in 2013 -- one novel and two poetry collections. My first full-length poetry collection, "Plum(b)," is to be released in early 2013 by Main Street Rag Press. My first novel, "The Other Room," is forthcoming from Owl Canyon Press in October 2013. My second poetry collection, "Hadestown," is due out in or around November from WordTech Communications."

A note:  Just love the very artistic cover of this book. I only wish the book had been printed in larger print or in a bolder font, as it was difficult to read (with my bad eyes). I may have to finish it as an e-book.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Sep 19, 2013

Book Review: MOONRISE by Cassandra King

Title: Moonrise by Cassandra King
Published September 3, 2013; Maiden Lane Press
Genre: gothic romance, fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

I noticed the connection to the classic mystery, Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, very soon in the novel. Moonrise is the name of the spooky but imposing mansion in this book, reminiscent of Manderley in Rebecca. Rosalyn is the name of the mysterious dead wife in Moonrise, similar to the name of Rebecca.

Another similarity to the novel Rebecca is the main character Helen, a trusting young woman who marries a man many years her senior, a widower whose close friends dislike his remarrying so soon after his first wife's death. Helen loves the stately old mansion, Moonrise, in spite of the odd occurrences that happen, and is determined to make her new husband's friends accept and welcome her. But the unsolved mystery of Rosalyn's death stands between them and complete happiness.

The mystery: There are still unanswered questions about Rosalyn's tragic accident and death and the circumstances surrounding it. Differences in the books: Moonrise is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee, Rebecca in England. There is no evil housekeeper in Moonrise, but there are intimations of trouble from neighbors and friends.

What I loved: The moon garden at Moonrise, full of plants and flowers that open at night, is intriguing, especially as it was Rosalyn's private garden. The story is told from three women's points of view: Helen, the new wife; Tansy, a neighbor; and Willa, the young housekeeper. Their stories mesh the events that occur at Moonrise and weave the novel into an intriguing and suspenseful read. I also enjoyed the men portrayed in Helen and her husband Emmet's circle - the helpful Noel and the semi-invalid Linc.

Recommendations: Lovers of Rebecca will enjoy this and also appreciate how different Moonrise's mystery is in the end.

From the Reader's Guide to Moonrise, included in the novel: 
1. Moonrise was inspired by the author’s lifelong love of, Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier’s classic gothic novel, reminding us that the novels we admire in our youths resonate throughout our lives.
2. The Victorian house and gardens once cherished by Emmet’s deceased wife Rosalyn are very much their own characters in this novel. Have you ever lived in a haunted house yourself?

CASSANDRA KING, who has been called “the Queen of Southern storytelling,” is the author of four novels, Making Waves, The Sunday Wife, The Same Sweet Girls and Queen of Broken Hearts, as well as numerous short stories, essays and articles. Moonrise, her fifth novel, is set in Highlands, North Carolina. A native of Alabama, Cassandra resides in Beaufort, South Carolina, with her husband, writer Pat Conroy. Her website:

GIVEAWAY: The publisher and Wiley Saichek at AuthorsontheWeb provided a galley of this book for the book tour and review, and are offering two finished copies of the book to readers in the U.S., no post office box addresses, please. 

UPDATE: Congrats to Carl and Rhonda, winners of the giveaway.

Sep 14, 2013

Sunday Salon: Hot Read, Hot Temps

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! And visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer!

The weather was wonderfully sunny this past week but sweltering. I spent the hottest hours inside, reading.

From the bookstore:  Louise Penny's new mystery is set in a cold winter in Quebec.

How the Light Gets In is the 9th in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series, and yes, it's better to read the books in order, but if you don't intend to read the entire series, it's fine to jump in and read this one. The book gives enough background that you won't be lost about the main characters, their relationships, and the places where they work and live.

The mystery is suspenseful and the characters are so believable that you want to know more about them. The plot drags you in and keeps you involved in the book. Louise Penny has won many awards for the series, and I think this latest novel is also a winner.

Gardening: Today turned cool, and we did some gardening, mulching the new hostas planted a month ago, in preparation for what may be a bitter and snowy winter! We also bought a few perennial plants to replace the annuals that will die out in fall -  the zinnias, daisies, marigolds, petunias.

We found some pale yellow butterflies are attracted to the marigolds and zinnias, so we plan to plant them again next spring/summer. The butterflies also like the pale blue flowers of the cat mint, a perennial, so in it goes this summer.

Mailbox: I got a cute ARE of a children's book, No Dogs Allowed (Ready, Set, Dogs!) by Stephanie Calmenson, Joanna Cole, Heather Ross. Here is the book description:

 "Kate and Lucie are best friends. Kate is neat and Lucie is messy. Kate wakes up early and Lucie loves to sleep in. But both girls love, love, love dogs!

Unfortunately, Kate and Lucie live in apartments where dogs are not allowed. Instead of real dogs, they have dog T-shirts, dog sheets and pajamas, and dog books. But nothing is quite the same as having a real dog. One day, the girls discover sparkly pink dog necklaces at the thrift store and try them on. But when they admire themselves in the mirror and give each other high fives, there is a pop and a whoosh and the girls are turned into dogs! Now it seems like Kate and Lucie won’t need their own pet dogs . . . because they’ll be having furry adventures of their own."

 I don't think the girls stay dogs forever though. Now I am curious to see if my grand-niece will like this book!

What's your Sunday like?

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Sep 13, 2013

Book Review: Reese's Leap by Darcy Scott

"Brit said they come out here every year - same women, same week in July."

Good old Brit. "I wouldn't know." Nor do I care. Once around with this shit's more than enough for me; besides, I desperately need to keep the sun from hitting my retinas just now. Shades, I think. I pat my pockets.

"Earl was killed the week they were here. July 21st."
My comments: Botanist Gil and his pal David Duggan think they are invited to an all women's week-long party on Mistake Island, Maine, but find themselves unwelcome guests when they arrive on the island. The five women at the party really want to be alone to enjoy the beauty and quiet and seclusion of the heavily forested island. Heavy fog, sabotage and other strange events prevent the two men from leaving the island, and they stay to protect the women when unusual occurrences and a strange man intrudes to threaten the group.

Intense in parts, bucolic in others when Gil wanders the island, appreciating its beauty and uniqueness, the story becomes quite suspenseful as events spin out of control for the women, who don't know the reason for being targeted by the strange intruder.

A good plot, though just slightly improbable in parts, fuels the novel, as do the descriptions of the island and the history of Malaga Island. Malaga is a real island off the Maine coast which was once inhabited by a mixed-race community that was forced to leave the island in the early 20th century.

I am curious about the first in the series, Matinicus, and the third that will soon be published, Ragged Island. For more reviews, see the tour schedule at Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Title: Reese's Leap: An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott
Published by: Maine Authors Publishing, March 23, 2013
Source: review copy from author
Objective review: 4/5

DARCY SCOTT is a live-aboard sailor and experienced ocean cruiser who’s sailed to Grenada and island-hopped through the Caribbean. Her favorite cruising ground remains the coast of Maine, and the history and rugged beauty of its out-islands inspires her Maine Island Mystery Series, the award-winning "Matinicus" and "Reese’s Leap." Book three, "Ragged Island," is currently in the works. Her debut novel, "Hunter Huntress," was published June 2010. Visit her at or, and

GIVEAWAY: The author is offering an e-book copy to a reader. Please leave a comment by Sept. 18 to enter the contest.
UPDATE; Congratulations to Pat@Posting for Now, the winner of the e-book contest!

Sep 10, 2013

Book Review: The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn

Also submitted to: Teaser Tuesdays 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 paragraphs:
"One thing's for sure," the lawyer said, handing Bernie our check," you earned every cent."

Bernie tucked the check in - oh, no - the chest pocket of his Hawaiian shirt, just about his nicest Hawaiian shirt, with the hula dancers and the trombones, but that wasn't the point. The point was we'd had chest pocket problems in the past, more than once. And possibly more than twice, but I wouldn't know, since I don't count past two. What I do know is that checks have a way of falling out of chest pockets.

"What's he barking about?" the lawyer said.
My comments: That's Chet talking, the 100-pound plus dog who, with his human partner, Bernie, make up the detective duo, Chet and Bernie. Chet narrates the stories and we see his limitations and also his strengths in the partnership. He can't communicate in words with Bernie but he is astute, a great sniffer, and knows lots of things Bernie doesn't. With Bernie's human smarts, together they make good PIs.

In The Sound and the Furry, the pair are asked to find a missing inventor, Ralph, the reclusive brother of a criminal Chet and Bernie have put behind bars. They leave the dry desert Chet is familiar with and head down to Louisiana and the bayou. It takes some getting used to for Chet, all that water, but he takes it in stride, even swimming in the bayou a couple of times.

And what I had feared happened. Chet gets into big trouble in that bayou, and I won't say how, but it's spectacular and nail-bitingly suspenseful. The big dog meets more than his match. The duo solve the mystery though, with Bernie getting involved in more than he had bargained for. But as Chet explains about Bernie being able to figure things out,
" Bernie handles the so therefores. I bring other things to the table."

My take: Entertaining, suspenseful, good writing. An excellent read.

By the way, this is the sixth book in the series, but they can be read in any order.

Book description:
Chet and Bernie head to Louisiana after they run into an old criminal friend they helped send to prison, Frenchie Boutette. Frenchie needs Bernie and Chet’s help to find his missing brother, Ralph, who has disappeared from his houseboat. A reclusive inventor, Ralph is the only law-abiding member of his family. The Boutette family has a long running feud with the no-good Robideaus and it seems as if Ralph’s disappearance is connected to a dispute over a load of stolen shrimp. But when Chet uncovers a buried clue, the investigation heads in a dangerous direction and a conspiracy involving the oil business. Visit Chet's website: Chet the Dog.

Title: The Sound and the Furry: A Chet and Bernie Mystery #6 by Spencer Quinn
Published September 10, 2013; Atria Books
Source: review book provided by the publisher'
Objective rating: 4.5/5

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Sep 9, 2013

It's Monday: What's in Your Mailbox?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
Yolanda of Notorious Spinks Talks Books hosts Mailbox Monday this month.

Received last week: This one reminds me of the real-life scandal surrounding the Bolshoi Ballet not too long ago.

Title: Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy: A Novel by Elizabeth Kiem, August 13, 2013; Soho Teen.
Book description: "A new breed of spy novel combines classic thrills, Bolshoi intrigue, and elements of the paranormal.

Marina is born of privilege. Her mother, Sveta, is the Soviet Union's prima ballerina and an international star. But Sveta is afflicted with a mysterious second sight and becomes obsessed with exposing a horrific state secret. Then she disappears.

Fearing for their lives, Marina and her father defect to Brooklyn, where Marina is a dancer at Juilliard. But her enigmatic partner, Sergei, makes concentration almost impossible, as does the fact that Marina shares her mother's “gift,” and has a vision of her father’s murder at the hands of the Russian crooks and con artists she thought they'd left behind. Now Marina must deal with her mother's disappearance, her ability, and exactly whom she can—and can't—trust." (publisher)

I have been receiving a few teen novels recently and must admit, this one does look good, as does this other from last week,
Relic by Heather Terrell, to be published October 29, 2013 is a combination of fantasy and dystopia about a "civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down."

Current reads include
Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, "an account of how the Mississippi shaped America,"
Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd.
I finished last week:
Reese's Leap: An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott, for a book tour this week.

What are you reading and what arrived in the mail last week?

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Sep 8, 2013

Sunday Salon: Nobel Prize for Literature 2013

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! And visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer!

I just counted about nine books which I must read for book tours for the rest of the year. After that, I plan to quit book tours for a while and read books from my own TBR pile.  I notice I've been getting grouchy in my reviews lately, so it must be time to move on.

More nonfiction book are on my reading list, too.

By the way, who are you rooting for to win the Nobel Prize for Literature this year? My bet is on Murakami, whose novel 1Q84 with its magical realism and social commentary blew me away, even though it was almost 1,000 pages long. (Click on the link to see my thoughts on that book).

This from the Guardian: "Other favoured contenders include US author Joyce Carol Oates, Hungarian writer Peter NĂ¡das, South Korean poet Ko Un  and Alice Munro, the short story writer from Canada."

I've heard Philip Roth's name bandied about too.

Who's your choice?

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Sep 7, 2013

Book Feature: The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh

Title: The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious, or Distracted Kids
Author: Carolyn Dalgliesh
Published September 3, 2013; Touchstone

This seems to be a valuable source of practical ideas for teachers as well as families with distracted kids.

Publisher description:
"Every year, tens of thousands of young children are diagnosed with disorders that make it difficult for them to absorb the external world. Parents of sensory kids—like those with sensory processing disorder, anxiety disorder, AD/HD, autism, bipolar disorder, and OCD—often feel frustrated and overwhelmed, creating stress in everyday life for the whole family.

Author Carolyn Dalgliesh knows firsthand the struggles parents face in trying to bring out the best in their rigid, anxious, or distracted children. She provides solutions that help these kids thrive at home and in their day-to-day activities, and describes how to
- Understand what makes your sensory child tick 
- Create harmonious spaces through sensory organizing 
- Use structure and routines to connect with your child 
-  Prepare your child for social and school experiences 
- Make travel a successful and fun-filled journey 
 An easy-to-follow road map for the entire family."

Carolyn Dalgliesh is the founder and owner of Systems for Sensory Kids and Simple Organizing Strategies, which helps families, individuals, and businesses get organized. She lives in Rhode Island.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Sep 6, 2013

Book Review/Tour: Going Through the Notions by Cate Price

Title: Going Through the Notions: A Deadly Notions Mystery by Cate Price
Publication: September 3, 2013; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery, new series
Source: review copy from publisher

Book description:
Retired schoolteacher Daisy Buchanan has found her calling in the quaint village of Millbury, Pennsylvania. While her husband renovates their old house, Daisy presides over Sometimes a Great Notion, her quirky shop that sells sewing bits and bobs, antiques, and jewelry. At a local auction her friend and mentor, auctioneer Angus Backstead, is arrested, accused of killing his drinking buddy who had stolen a set of expensive fountain pens. Daisy’s sure the sprightly old-timer couldn’t have done it and sets out to find the truth. (publisher)

My comments: Readers get involved with Kate's friends and her customers in the notions shop, a setting apart from the mystery plot, which involves her looking out for her friend Angus, whom she is determined to prove innocent of a murder. Lovers of notions and antiques will like the characters and the quaintness of the small shop. The murder plot is only half of the novel. I was often a bit impatient to get away from the notions, auctions, and yard sales, and back to the mystery, but found overall the novel was a good effort and good beginning for this new series.

About Cate Price
Cate Price was born in England and came to the U.S. when she was sixteen. She enjoys walking her two rescue dogs, and enjoys gardening, yard sales, and cooking with friends. Her previous (unpublished) books have finaled in numerous contests, including the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America.

Writing the first book in the Deadly Notions mystery series proved an expensive project, because while researching auction houses, she became addicted to bidding on box lots. She is at work on the next book in the series, A DOLLHOUSE TO DIE FOR. Cate loves to connect with readers at her website, on Facebook at or Goodreads at

Visit the book tour schedule for more reviews, hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

Sep 5, 2013

Nonfiction Books: Old Man River; Good Prose

I requested this new book from the publisher as my husband and I have both had a love for this river through the books, the songs and music, and the movies made about it. The river runs north and south right through the country, and am looking forward to reading Paul Schneider's book about the length and breadth of its history.

Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History, "an account of how the Mississippi shaped America," was published September 3 by Henry Holt and Co.,  my birthday, by the way, and I say that's auspicious for my enjoying it! It is divided into seven books, each book detailing the river's history from prehistoric times to the present.

The other nonfiction I'm currently reading is Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd, two writers known for their nonfiction and portraits of American life. The hardcover edition was published by Random House in January this year and the paperback edition just came out August 7.  I started reading it in the bookstore and had to buy it.

I have never read a how-to book on writing straight through before, but I'm enjoying this one and am reading it like a novel, from cover to cover. The writers' observations, comments, and tips can apply to fiction as well as nonfiction. I liked the section on writing memoirs quite a bit.  It made me determined to dust off my notes and keep going on that family history project I started.

I hope to write more about these two books after I've finished them.

What nonfiction books have you been reading?

Sep 3, 2013

Book Review: Mystery Girl by David Gordon

Publisher synopsis: Sam Kornberg is a failed novelist living in L.A. with a collapsing marriage. Desperate for work, he becomes the assistant to a portly, housebound detective named Solar Lonsky. His assignment to track a mysterious woman is the trigger for a story involving sexy doppelgangers, insane asylums, south-of-the-border shootouts, mistaken identities, video-store-geekery, and the death of the novel.

My comments: The mystery story surrounds an "art" film by an experimental filmmaker whose trilogy of films appeals to "cinephiles, Satanists, metal heads, stoners, and several deviants of all stripes." Since as a reader I don't really fit into any of these categories, the novel went over my head or below my head, unfortunately.

One of the themes of the novel is the "death of the novel," and the novel as an art form. Unfortunately, the attempts didn't work for me, and I saw it as a mishmash of story, author's thoughts, and the main character's philosophizing that didn't fit together well.

 I saw this book as an experimental novel with lots of stream of consciousness, and detailed description of dress, scenery, background, and people as in a script for a film. As for the story, it got drowned in distractions, such as the subplot of the life of a novelist and the "noir film as art" sections. Perhaps a bit too avant garde for me?

Title: Mystery Girl by David Gordon
Published July 16; New Harvest
Genre: mystery, experimental novel

David Gordon holds an MA in English and Comparative Literature and an MFA in Writing, both from Columbia University, and has worked in film, fashion, publishing, and pornography. His first novel, The Serialist, won the VCU/Cabell First Novel Award and was a finalist for an Edgar Award. His work has also appeared in The Paris Review, Purple, and Fence among other publications. Visit David at his website.

For more reviews and possibly very different views of the book, visit the book tour schedule hosted by TLC Book Tours.

Sep 1, 2013

Sunday Salon: Just Reading, No Labor on Labor Day

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon!This post lists new books and links up to It's Monday; What Are You Reading? at Book Journey;  to Mailbox Monday hosted by Yolanda of Notorious Spinks Talks Books and to Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

Here is what arrived the past couple of weeks, some books I had been looking forward to and others a nice surprise.

Books finished:
Mystery Girl by David Gordon, review to be posted Tuesday for a book tour.
Alex by Pierre Lemaitre, a thriller in the vein of the Stieg Larsson books, but quite different in plot, and VERY creepy, as many French thrillers are.
Going Through the Notions by Cate Price, a cozy mystery in a new series, for a book tour this week.

Now reading:
Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman, a novel set in northern India about a Scottish woman who lives there with her parrot and helper. The first in a series, the second of which, Love Potion Number 10, I also plan to read.

Reviews to be done:
The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn, the sixth in the Chet and Bernie detective series, starring a humorous and unusual duo, Chet the dog and his human partner Bernie.

Enjoy the Labor Day events and long weekend! Put up your feet and relax. No labor on Labor Day, remember?  Are you traveling, and if so, what are you reading?

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