Nov 29, 2013

Book Beginning: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

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.

Book beginning:
It was just the two of us, my mother and me, after my father left. He said I should count the new baby he had with his new wife, Marjorie, as part of my family too, plus Richard, Marjorie' son, who was six months younger than me though he was good at all the sports I messed up in. But my family was my mother, Adele, and me, period. I would have counted the hamster, Joe, before including that baby, Chloe. 
Page 56: 
"How long since the last time you rotated your tires, Adele? he asked.
She just looked at him. 
Book description:
"With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry--lonely, friendless, not too good at sports--spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates. For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele--a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily.

As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect pie crust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others--especially those we love--above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for."

Title: Labor Day: A Novel by Joyce Maynard
To be published December 3, 2013; William Morrow paperback

What book is next on your list to read?

Nov 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah!

Turkey Honeycomb Centerpiece

Saw this colorful Turkey Honeycomb Centerpiece and thought it was right for today! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! And Happy Hanukkah!

Reading for today:

Finishing up Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement and may even have time to start
Ann Patchett's This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I also want to get into Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith.

Do you have time for reading today?

Foreign Gods Inc. by Okey Ndibe

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

Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe, to be released January 14, 2014 by Soho Press.

Publisher description:
"This tells the story of Ike, a New York-based Nigerian cab driver who sets out to steal the statue of an ancient war deity from his home village and sell it to a New York gallery. Ike's plan is fueled by desperation. Despite a degree in economics from a major American college, his strong accent has barred him from the corporate world.

Forced to eke out a living as a cab driver, he is unable to manage the emotional and material needs of a temperamental African American bride and a widowed mother demanding financial support. When he turns to gambling, his mounting losses compound his woes. And so he travels back to Nigeria to steal the statue, where he has to deal with old friends, family, and a mounting conflict between those in the village who worship the deity, and those who practice Christianity.

 A meditation on the dreams, promises and frustrations of the immigrant life in America; the nature and impact of religious conflicts; an examination of the ways in which modern culture creates or heightens infatuation with the "exotic," including the desire to own strange objects and hanker after ineffable illusions; and an exploration of the shifting nature of memory, Foreign Gods  illuminates our globally interconnected world like no other."

What new book release are you waiting for?

Nov 26, 2013

Book Teaser: The Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

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.

Title: Queen's Gambit: A Novel by Elizabeth Fremantle
Published August 6, 2013; Simon and Schuster
Genre: historical fiction
Source: publisher

page 56/teaser:
"Kit," he says, eventually, "you can trust me." His voice has a supplicant's tone.
"How can I?"
"I didn't know you then...I know you now."
First chapter:
The notary smells of dust and ink. How is it, Larymer wonders, that when one sense blunt another sharpens. He can pick up the scent of everything, the reek of ale on the man's breath, the yeasty whiff of bread baking in the kitchens below, the wet-dog stink of the spaniel curled up in the hearth. But he can see little, the room swims and the man is a vague dark shape leaning over the bed with a grimace of a smile.
Publisher description:
"Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives, two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth, Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen. 

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine's survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor's edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love."

Katherine Parr was Henry VIII's last queen, one who survived his reign and married again. I am eager to read this one.

Nov 23, 2013

Sunday Salon: Too Cold for Comfort

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer, and It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also, Mailbox Monday at i totally paused.

I went out today only because I had to - a trip to the grocery store and pharmacy was included. It was bitterly cold - bitter in comparison to the past few weeks, that is. And Sunday this day, will be the coldest yet this year.  My DH is down with a bad cold and flu and I'm trying hard to stay healthy, aches and pains aside. We are looking at pictures of beaches and desert, where we'd probably be much happier right now!

My reading slowed down a bit the past few days. I am in the middle of Amy Tan's intriguing new historical novel about courtesans in the early 1900s in Shanghai - The Valley of Amazement.  Since I often read more than one book at a time, I started an ARC: Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, a love story.

This ARC has a solid red cover with titles in white and yellow; it doesn't have the more attractive cover with birds and blossoms that will appear on the hardcover release in February. But the story should basically be the same. A story of unexpected love - sounds like a book to curl up with in the cold of a winter day, doesn't it?

What are you reading/doing today?

Nov 22, 2013

The Sister Season: a Novel by Jennifer Scott

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.

Title: The Sister Season: A Novel by Jennifer Scott
Published November 5, 2013; NAL Trade
Genre: fiction, women's fiction

Book beginning:
Claire was the first to arrive.
Not really a surprise to Elise, as Claire was the most...unattached. No children, no home to button up for a few days, not even a goldfish to find a sitter for.
To Elise, her youngest daughter seemed to be hopelessly and perpetually fearful of making a commitment. The first sign of anything permanent, be it a kitten or a car loan, and the girl oozed Panic Attack and ran for the hills.
Page 56:
Oh, not that Tai didn't care. Of course he did. But Eli was Tai's stepson, not his real son. He couldn't claim Eli's brown eyes or the way he walked on the outer edges of his feet or his natural propensity for algebra.
Book description: 
"A women’s fiction debut featuring three sisters who discover that coming home for the holidays isn’t as easy as it seems… It’s December 21, and the Yancey sisters have been called home. As the years unfolded, the three sisters had scattered and settled into separate lives. Until now.

The Yancey sisters are coming to spend the holidays with their mother. They’re also coming to bury their father. Claire, the youngest, a free spirit who journeyed to California, returns first. Then comes Julia, the eldest, a college professor with a teenage son of her own. And finally there’s Maya, the middle child, who works so hard to be the perfect mother and wife.

 During the sisters’ week together, old conflicts surface, new secrets emerge, and the limits and definitions of family are tested. And as the longest night of the year slips by and brightening days beckon, the sisters will have to answer one question: When you’re a sister, aren’t you a sister forever?"

What's your choice for Friday 56 and Book Beginnings? 

Nov 20, 2013

Buttoned Up by Kylie Logan

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Breaking the Spine. What new book(s) are you waiting for to be released?

Title: Buttoned Up: Button Box Mystery #4, a cozy mystery by Kylie Logan, is to be released December 3, 2013 by Berkley.

Publisher description:
"For Josie Giancola, owner of the Button Box shop, every button is a tiny work of art with its own story to tell—a story that just might end in murder….

Artist Forbis Parmenter has invited Josie to the opening of his latest exhibit of voodoo-inspired works. He plans to make a show of completing the centerpiece—a button- encrusted statue—when Josie arrives with the final button. But just as the big moment comes, Forbis bolts out of the gallery in panic. Is it another of his publicity stunts, or is something more sinister afoot?

Josie gets her answer when the eccentric artist is found dead—his lifeless body in the arms of a statue and his eyes and lips sealed with buttons. Now she’s using her expert eye to solve the mystery before a crafty killer slips through her fingers. Includes tips on antique-button collecting!"

I've read a few in this series! How about you? What book are you waiting for to be released?

Nov 19, 2013

Book Review: The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris

Title: The Pieces We Keep: A Novel by Kristina McMorris (author of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves; and Letters from Home)
Publication: November 26, 2013; Kensington Books
Genre: historical fiction

About the book:
Two stories are told simultaneously - one set in contemporary U.S, and the other in London in the late 1930s and early 1940s before and during WWII.

In the U.S. a widow, Audra, tries to find the source and cause of her seven-year-old son Jake's vivid and disturbing nightmares. Jake is entranced by fighter planes and soldiers from the war. In London in the late 1930s, Vivian, the daughter of a U.S. diplomat, falls in love with Isaak, who wants to leave for Germany to take his family from there to safety in Switzerland before war breaks out. Vivian willingly but unwittingly begins gathering information from her father's diplomatic files to give to Isaak.

My comments: This is an historical novel/historical romance that deftly weaves the past and the present and fact with fiction - WWII German spies/saboteurs were arrested and executed in the U.S. during the war; and there is a true case of a young child with nighttime dreams of being a pilot during WWII that brings up questions about the truth or non-truth of reincarnation.

The present and past stories are told in alternate chapters. I would have liked though to see more markers/information at the beginning of each chapter to lead us smoothly back into each story. This was not a problem in the second half of the book, however, after I had become thoroughly familiar and involved with all the characters.

Recommendation: Excellent research and characterization, especially of Audra and her young son Jake in modern day Portland, Oregon who find themselves linked to Vivian, Isaak, and the characters in the WWII drama. I expected a traumatic ending but it turned out to be a satisfying one!

Objective rating: 4/5
Thanks to the author for sending an ARC for an early read/review.

Nov 17, 2013

Sunday Salon: Mixing the Past and the Present in Current Fiction

The Sunday Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer;  Stacking the Shelves at Tyngas Reviews; It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey, and Mailbox Monday at i totally paused.

I finished reading
The Pieces We Keep, historical fiction by Kristina McMorris
Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis, Danish crime fiction
and am currently reading
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty.

All three novels are set both in the present and during a time of war and conflict - WWII, Communism in the Ukraine in the 1930s, and the Cold War in Berlin.
I will be doing reviews very soon. Come back and visit during the week!

Some wonderful and welcome books in my mailbox last week:

1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think edited by Robert Arp, Atria Books
Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndib, ARC from Soho Press
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, ARC from Ecco

Can't wait to start reading!
What are you up to this Sunday?

Nov 14, 2013

Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass

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.

Title: Lending a Paw: A Bookmobile Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass
To be published December 3, 2013; Signet
Genre: cozy mystery
Source: publisher

Page 56:
"Don't tell me there's something wrong with the bookmobile.He squinted at the vehicle. "Mechanical problems happen regularly, I understand."
Opening paragraph:
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of growing up to be the president. Failing that, an astronaut or a ballerina.
Publisher description:
With the help of her rescue cat, Eddie, librarian Minnie Hamilton is driving a bookmobile based in the resort town of Chilson, Michigan. 

Eddie followed Minnie home one day, and now she can’t seem to shake the furry little shadow. The tabby sneaks out and trails her all the way to the bookmobile on its maiden voyage. Before she knows it, her slinky stowaway becomes her cat co-pilot!

Minnie and Eddie’s first day visiting readers around the county seems to pass without trouble—until Eddie darts outside at the last stop and leads her to the body of a local man who’s reached his final chapter. Initially, Minnie is ready to let the police handle this case, but Eddie seems to smell a rat. Together, they’ll work to find the killer—because a good librarian always knows when justice is overdue.

I don't think this is a talking cat type of mystery, even though Eddie seems to be able to help solve the crime.

Book Review: A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry

A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry is a dark mystery read fit for a cold though not lonely winter.

Title: A Cold and Lonely Place  by Sara J. Henry
Paperback published November 5, 2013; Broadway Books
Genre: mystery, thriller

The novel 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.

This is a reprint of an earlier post.
I received a review copy of the book from the publisher.

Nov 12, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

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.

Title: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
Expected publication: January 21, 2014; Ballantine
Genre: historical fiction

Publisher description: 
"The second novel by the author of Loving Frank, this new work tells the story of the passionate, turbulent relationship between Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his wild-tempered American wife, Fanny. Nancy Horan has recreated a love story that is as unique as the one between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney depicted in Loving Frank.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics including Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer. And so begins a turbulent love affair that will last two decades and span the world."

What new publication are you waiting for?

Merry Market Murder by Paige Shelton

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.

Title: Merry Market Murder: A Farmer's Market Mystery by Paige Shelton
Expected publication: December 3,2013; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

"I've never had a real Christmas tree. Mom was allergic."
"That's a shame." She tsk'ed and shook her head. ( ch. 4)
First chapter:
"The rumors are true. He does look a little like Santa Claus," I said to Allison as we watched the bearded man working inside the cargo box on the back of the short freight truck.
Book description:
"Bailey’s Farmers’ Market is this season’s go-to holiday destination, but not all the vendors are feeling the Christmas spirit...

Jam and preserve maker Becca Robins is excited about the extra business that the Ridgeway Christmas Tree Farm is bringing to the market this holiday season. But when a competing tree farmer, Reggie Stuckey, arrives with a truck full of trees, angrily barking that he has exclusive selling rights at the market, Becca finds herself pining for more goodwill toward men.

After Reggie is found with a tree stake in his chest, she wonders when the Christmas tree business turned so deadly. Now Becca has to use the only clues she has to the killer’s identity—mysterious ornaments that begin to show up in her stall—to hook a sinister Scrooge who will go to any lengths to drive home a point." (publisher)

What's your teaser/opening paragraph this week?

Nov 9, 2013

Sunday Salon: The Birds of America by Audubon

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, and Mailbox Monday by Crystal at I Totally Paused.

I saw this book at the store and thought how appropriate it would be for a friend. I had the bookstore ship it right away, and I was tempted to get one for myself. Beautiful copies of the original paintings.

Title: The Birds of America by John James Audubon
Published 2012: Sterling

Amazon description: Overview: The culmination of over twelve years of work, Audubon's masterpiece features some of the most stunning bird paintings of all time, from the great crested flycatcher and pin tailed duck to the common American swan. One of the most valuable natural history books ever published, it shows birds in natural positions and in their native habitats. This edition has been created by disbinding one of the two original sets held by the Natural History Museum, London, and then photographing it using the latest digital technology. It includes all of Audubon's 435 bird images, reproduced as large as possible on the page and with the original numbering and captions faithfully recreated. There is an introduction by world-renowned bird artist and author David Allen Sibley, whose The Sibley Guide to Birds is considered by many to be the most comprehensive guide for the identification of birds in North America.

I might treat myself and get it!

I finished reading The Translator by Nina Schuyler, which I borrowed from the library and then bought online for my e-reader. It was a 5-star read, in my opinion. Here is a quote from the book that I and other Kindle readers shared:
"Translation is an art, she's said countless times, requiring all the skill of a writer and then some, because the story, written in one language, one as different as Japanese, must be made as meaningful in another language. It is no small undertaking: each human language maps the world differently. Each language fosters a different way of thinking."
My comments: The main character Hanne Schubert has finished translating a book for Kobayashi, a Japanese novelist, who rejects her translation and her version of his main character, Jiro. She travels to Japan to meet the Noh actor, Moto, who is the real life model for the character in Kobayashi's book. This is easy for her as Hanne has lost her memory of her native language, English, and all other languages, expect for Japanese. This came as a result of an unfortunate fall and head injury.

Meeting Moto, learning about Noh drama and how it communicates story, feelings, and emotions through drama, dance, and music all help Hanne ponder her life, heal, and slowly realize what she has done wrong in her translation of Kobayashi's book as well as in her relationships. She has been estranged from daughter Brigitte for six years and Hanne wonders how she could have done better.

I gave the novel 5 stars for the topic, plot, excellent writing and character development, with a slight caveat - I felt that not all the blame for the broken mother-daughter relationship was Hanne's.
This review is linked to the Japanese Literature Challenge 7 hosted by Dolce Bellezza. 

My mailbox this week includes
Dead Lions by award winner Mick Herron, a spy novel from Soho
Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance by Janice Gary, Michigan State U. Press
The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch, from St. Martin's Press
Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon by Paul Rosolie, from Harper

What are you reading this Sunday?
If you have difficulty leaving a comment, click on Book Dilettante and try again.

Nov 7, 2013

The Mountain of Light: a Novel by Indu Sundaresan

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.

Page 56:
The girl reached on tiptoe and kissed Jindan's arm, somewhere above the Kohinoor, and then she fled, the sound of her footsteps sucked into the pile of the dhurries on the floor.
Book beginning:
June 1817
The midday sun leaned over to place its fiery kiss upon the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, four and a half miles east of the fort and walled city. The blazing light wavered into a haze around the almond, guava, and mango trees, and except under the trees where it could not penetrate, all shadows leached into the blistering ground.
Publisher description:
"A novel based on the tumultuous history of a legendary 186-carat diamond and the men and women who possessed it. It is the “Mountain of Light”—the Kohinoor diamond. Its origins are the stuff of myth, but for centuries this spectacular gem changes hands from one ruler to another in India, Persia, and Afghanistan.

In 1850, the ancient stone is sent halfway around the world where it will play a pivotal role in the intertwined destinies of a boy-king of India and a young queen of England—a queen who claims the Mountain of Light and India itself for her own burgeoning empire, the most brilliant jewels in her imperial crown. The Mountain of Light is a story of loss and recovery, sweeping change and enduring truth, wrapped around the glowing heart of one of the world’s most famous diamonds."

Title: The Mountain of Light by Indu Sundaresan
Genre: historical novel
Published October 8, 2013; Washington Square Press.

What are you reading this week? 

Nov 6, 2013

WOW: What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell

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

Title: What I Had Before I Had You: A Novel by Sarah Cornwell
To be published January 7, 2014; Harper
Genre: fiction, women's fiction

Publisher synopsis: "A woman must face the truth about her past in this evocative literary novel of parents and children, guilt and forgiveness, memory and magical thinking, set in the faded, gritty world of the New Jersey Shore.

Olivia was only fifteen the summer she left her hometown of Ocean Vista. Two decades later, on a visit with her children, her nine-year-old son Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, disappears. Olivia’s search for him sparks tender and painful memories of her past—of her fiercely loving and secretive mother, Myla, an erratic and beautiful psychic, and the discovery of heartbreaking secrets that shattered her world."

What book are you waiting for to be published?
If you have difficulty leaving a comment, click on Book Dilettante and try again.

Nov 5, 2013

Book Review: Death Overdue by Mary Lou Kirwin

Title: Death Overdue: Karen Nash Mystery Series by Mary Lou Kirwin
Published November 5, 2013; Gallery Books
Genre: cozy mystery
Objective rating: 4.5/5
"What I would like to know..."the inspector humphed. "How does a bookcase fall down like that?" he asked the room. (ch. 7)
Plot:  Midwestern librarian Karen Nash has a long-distance relationship with book lover, Caldwell Perkins, who runs a bed and breakfast in London. Karen has gone over to help Caldwell open a bookstore, and Caldwell hopes that Karen will be co-owner in the new venture.

Unfortunately for their plans, Caldwell's former partner, Sally, returns to London with her Italian fiance, and decides she wants to run the bed and breakfast with Caldwell. When Sally is killed by a heavy bookcase and an avalanche of books in the B&B, the police suspect Caldwell of murder. Karen decides to find the real killer, to save Caldwell and their fledgling plans for their new bookstore.

Comments: I just love that this mystery does not have a gazillion extraneous characters as too many cozy mystery books tend to do. There is only one subplot involving the love life of Karen's library assistant back in the U.S., but other than that, the plot stays on target and gets to the point effortlessly. It's also interesting that Karen, in naming the culprit at the end of the book, tells us she will copy Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot's methods in revealing the killer. She calls all the suspects into one room and proceeds to show how the clues point to one person. Very clever.

Recommendation: Likeable characters and smoothly flowing plot make this a delight to read. Book lovers will like the setting and the plot. Other cozy lovers will, also. I will say the same for the first and previous novel in the series, Killer Librarian.

Thanks to the publisher for review copies of the books.
Also submitted to Teaser Tuesdays hosted by MizB; choose sentences from your current read and identify author and title for readers.  

Nov 4, 2013

Monday Reading

Vicki from I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach is the host this week for It's Monday:What Are You Reading?

I have several books on my list to read:

Words With Fiends is a Black Cat Bookshop Mystery by Ali Brandon, third in the series. Bookstore owner Darla tries to get her black cat Hamlet out of a bad mood by hiring a cat whisperer and joins a dojo to get her own spirits up. Hamlet comes out of his funk when he has to help Darla with a new murder mystery - the death of the sensei at the karate dogo. I like the play on words in the title.

Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexandra will be published November 19, 2013 by Gallery Books. It was first released in 2010 by Harper Collins with a different cover. Book description: FLORENCE, 1914. A mysterious stranger known as The Wolf leaves an infant with the sisters of Santo Spirito. A tiny silver key hidden in her wrappings is the one clue to the child's identity. . . . FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, young Rosa must leave the nuns, her only family, and become governess to the daughter of an aristocrat and his strange, frightening wife. Their house is elegant but cursed, and Rosa, blessed with gifts beyond her considerable musical talents, is torn between her desire to know the truth and her fear of its repercussions. All the while, the hand of Fascism curls around beautiful Italy, and no citizen is safe. Rosa faces unimaginable hardship: her only weapons her intelligence, intuition, and determination . . . and her extraordinary capacity for love.

Also to be read:

The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris: "Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes’s grief over her husband’s untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying—but it’s just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.

As Jack’s fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack’s dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound—and perhaps, at last, to heal."

What are you reading this week?

Nov 1, 2013

Book Review: CARTWHEEL by Jennifer DuBois

My comments: I was eager to see how this book would conform to the real life story of Amanda Knox, who was accused of complicity in the murder of her student roommate in Italy. The author acknowledges that Cartwheel is "loosely inspired" by the Knox case but states that none of the characters are real and that her book should not be seen as statements about the real life case.

In any event, the book's accused Lily Hayes is as shadowy and vague a figure as the real life character when it comes to blame or motive or guilt. Written with extraordinary depth, the novel probes into the minds of all the people involved in the murder investigation of exchange student Kathy Kellers - Lily the accused, her parents, the Buenos Aires investigator, and Lily's boyfriend. An excellent psychological novel of suspense whose players will keep you engrossed and guessing.

Title: Cartwheel: A Novel by Jennifer DuBois
Published September 24, 2013; Random House
Genre: psychological suspense
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis: "Cartwheel is a suspenseful and haunting novel of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.

 When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily did not come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans. Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is a suspect.

As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction.

No two readers will agree who Lily is and what happened to her roommate. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how well we really know ourselves will linger well beyond." (publisher)

Jennifer duBois’s A Partial History of Lost Causes was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and O: The Oprah Magazine chose it as one of the ten best books of the year. DuBois was also named one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 authors. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, duBois recently completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She lives in Texas. Visit her at

For more reviews of Cartwheel, visit the book tour schedule hosted by TLC Book Tours. Thanks to TLC and the publisher for providing a review ARC of this book. 

If you are having difficulty leaving a comment, click on Book Dilettante and try again.

Voices of the Old and the New: Corky Lee and Julia Alvarez

  NEW RELEASES Corky Lee's Asian America Fifty Years of Photographic Justice by  Corky Lee Publication April 9, 2024; Clarkson Potter/Te...