Aug 30, 2013

Love Potion Number 10 by Betsy Woodman

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: Love Potion Number 10: A Jana Bibi Adventure by Betsy Woodman
Published May 14, 2013; Henry Holt Paperbacks
Genre: adventure set in the Indian Himalayas
"Dear," said Ritu, brightly.
Rambir felt a twinge of apprehension. When Ritu said "dear" like that, it meant she was going to bring up a topic that he wouldn't be comfortable with. (p. 56)
Book beginning:
Jana woke abruptly. Downstairs, in the fortune-telling salon, Mr. Ganguly was screeching something like "Water! Cold! Help!" She had not heard hi put those words together before. She sat up in bed, still groggy, now hearing footsteps on the staircase and, next, a frantic knocking on the bedroom door."Jana mem!" came Mary's voice. "Come now! Come quickly!"
Publisher description: "In the newest Jana Bibi adventure, Jana, Mr. Ganguly, and the gang are back as their small town in India is rocked by an espionage scandal and a homemade remedy that has love on everyone’s mind. The Jolly Grant House still welcomes all its visitors with the sign Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes hanging proudly outside its front door. Jana’s fortune-telling has brought a lot of attention to the small town of Hamara Nagar, and all eyes are on the Scottish-born card-reader Jana and her feisty, loose-beaked parrot, Mr. Ganguly. Some people, though, are not to be trusted, and Mr. Ganguly finds himself the target of a potential kidnapping that puts Jana and her household on edge.

Meanwhile, love is in the air and, thanks to Abenath’s Apothecary, it’s also in a bottle. Abenath has created an intoxicating brew that he calls Love Potion Number 10, which seems to have Jana in a tizzy. While she explores her newest hobby, dream interpretation, her head is swimming with questions: Is a new love possible at age fifty-nine? If so, would she ever marry again? All around her she sees different kinds of love and connection—family, arranged marriages, chemical attractions, even intercontinental romance between people who have only met through letters—so when an old flame arrives and rekindles long-gone feelings, Jana begins to think that that Love Potion Number 10 just might be the magic elixir its inventor thinks it is."

I'm getting ready to read this relatively light adventure after finishing some heavy thrillers! Don't you just love the cover?

(Review copy from the publisher).

Aug 29, 2013

Book Review: The English Girl by Daniel Silva


I finished The English Girl a few days ago, enjoyed the thriller, and can still remember it vividly. That counts for a rating of at least 4.5/5 in my book!

The English Girl to me is split into two parts. The first section is a hunt for the missing girl who is mixed up in a secret political scandal at the highest level in the British Government. The second part comes after the plot diverges dramatically, still involving the English girl, but following a different path.

I enjoyed the plot, the settings - Israel, Greece, France, England, and Russia - and the main character, Gabriel Allon, an Israeli spy who is tagged for a high position in his government once he has solved this mystery, resolved this conflict involving Britain and Russia.

An entertaining read. I'd like to read more of Silva's novels.

Goodreads description:
When a beautiful young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, a prime minister's career is threatened with destruction. Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, is thrust into a game of shadows where nothing is what it seems...and where the only thing more dangerous than his enemies might be the truth. Silva's work chronicles the adventures of art-restorer and master spy Gabriel Allon.

Title: The English Girl: A Novel by Daniel Silva
Published July 16, 2013: Harper
Genre: thriller
Source: review copy from publisher

Aug 28, 2013

New Book Release: Accused by Lisa Scottoline: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jill at Breaking the Spine. What new releases are you eagerly waiting for. Link your post to Breaking the Spine.


Title: Accused: a Rosato and Associates Novel by Lisa Scottoline
To be published October 29, 2013; St. Martin's Press
Genre: legal thriller

Publisher description: "For her crime fiction, Scottoline created the all-female law firm of Rosato & Associates, thrilling readers with her twisty, fast-paced plots and her cast of strong and relatable female characters. Now Bennie Rosato, Mary DiNunzio, Judy Carrier, and Anne Murphy are back with all cylinders firing in Accused.

Mary Dinuzio  is about to take on a case brought to the firm by a thirteen-year-old genius with a penchant for beekeeping. Allegra Gardner’s sister Fiona was murdered six years ago, and it seemed like an open-and-shut case: the accused, Lonnie Stall, was seen fleeing the scene; his blood was on Fiona and her blood was on him; most damningly, Lonnie Stall pleaded guilty. But Allegra believes Lonnie is innocent and has been wrongly imprisoned. The Gardner family is one of the most powerful in the country and Allegra’s parents don’t believe in reopening the case, so taking it on is risky. But the Rosato & Associates firm can never resist an underdog. Was justice really served all those years ago? It will take a team of unstoppable female lawyers, plus one thirteen-year-old genius, to find out. "

I have not read any of Scottoline's books and am eagerly awaiting the release of this one. What new book are you waiting for?

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Aug 26, 2013

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
Post the books completed last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish this week.


Books completed the last two weeks:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, women's fiction, rated 4.5/5
How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman, women's fiction, rated 5/5
A Clean Kill in Tokyo by Barry Eisler, thriller, rated 5/5
A Lonely Resurrection by Barry Eisler, thriller, rated 5/5

Book currently reading:

The English Girl by Daniel Silva, thriller

Books to be finished this week:

Mystery Girl  by David Gordon, romantic mystery, for a book tour next week.

Reviews to be done:

The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn, mystery

What's on your list this week?

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

Aug 24, 2013

Saturday Snapshot: A Butterfly in Japan

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy.



A tiny butterfly lands on clover on a sidewalk in Japan. Caught last week on our morning walk to the coffee shop in Aichi, Japan.

Just found out from Cindy Mead, an expert on moths, that the butterfly is a Pale Grass Blue, native to Asia.

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

Aug 22, 2013

Speak of the Devil by Allison Leotta

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.


A few pages later, Jack stopped flipping and drew in a sharp breath. There, among pictures of cheering people throwing rice at him and Nina, was a blank white spot. A ghost of a rectangle showed where the picture used to be.
Title: Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis #3) by Allison Leotta
Published August 6, 2013; Touchstone
Source: publisher

Publisher description: "On the very night she gets engaged to the man she loves,  prosecutor Anna Curtis’s professional life takes a shocking turn that threatens everything she holds dear.While Anna is enjoying a romantic dinner, a few miles away a vicious killer known as Diablo—the Devil—leads a group that will clash with Anna’s own investigative team in a fight against human trafficking in D.C. Both groups are caught off guard, with deadly results.

Allison Leotta draws on her experience as a D.C. prosecutor to take readers into the back rooms of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the hidden world of the Witness Protection Program, and the secret rituals of one of America’s most dangerous gangs. Leotta weaves fact and fiction to create her third novel in the series."

What's your Friday 56 book teaser?

Aug 20, 2013

How To Be a Good Wife: A Novel by Emma Chapman

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.

How to Be a Good Wife: A Novel by Emma Chapman is due to be published October 15, 2013 in hardcover by St. Martin's Press. According to goodreads, the book is:" a haunting literary debut about a woman who begins having visions that make her question everything she knows.

Marta and Hector have been married for a long time, raised a son and sent him off to life after university. Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall.

Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something."

Wow, this women's fiction sounds as if it could be a thriller or a haunting story or both. Certainly sends chills down my spine to read the book description. Looking forward to it's publication, though.

What book are you waiting for to be published?

Aug 10, 2013

Sunday Salon: Hostas Galore

The Sunday Salon.com 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
BermudaOnion's Weblog, and to Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

Last week we dislodged the long row of day lilies at the back fence, cut down a Russian olive tree that was growing too fast and too high, trimmed a tall bush near it, and planted a variety of young hosta plants. Less bushy back there now, but hopefully it will be colorful with the variegated leaves of green, white, yellow, and blue-green hostas, once they grow some more, that is  I am hoping they will be spectacular next year.

Last week also, a nice note came with an ARE of Adriana Trigiani's new novel, The Supreme Macaroni Company, a novel of romance and old world craftmanship that takes you from Greenwich Village to New Orleans and to Italy. The book is to be published November 5, 2013 by Harper.

I reviewed her previous book, The Shoemaker's Wife, an historical novel of young Italian emigrants to America.

Other books that arrived last week include
Murder of a Stacked Librarian by Denise Swanson, the 16th in the Scumble River Mystery Series.

Dragon's Child by M.K, Hume, the first in a King Arthur Trilogy

Tongwan City: A Novel by Gao Jianqun, an historical novel of  the ancient Chinese frontier 16 centuries ago. "Gao weaves into this tale seminal themes of Chinese history and culture: the connection between the warlike Xiongnu and their cousins the Huns, the Great Wall that was built to separate the Xiongnu from the Han Chinese, and the philosophy that ultimately united them."

Alternate Currents by Arleen Alleman, a suspense novel set in Seattle which explores "the world of domestic partners, alternative reproductive technology, and social bigotry."

Right now, I'm enjoying The Sound and the Furry, a Chet and Bernie mystery by Spencer Quinn, the sixth in the very successful series of a detective duo - Chet the big dog and his human crime fighting partner Bernie. Chet tells the story, by the way, and it is in parts, hilarious, as he tries to understand and interpret human behavior.

What are you up to this week?
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Aug 8, 2013

Book Review: Redemption by Jussi Adler-Olsen


Title: Redemption: A Department Q Novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Published July 18, 2013; Penguin
Genre: Scandinavian thriller
Source: review copy from publisher

also published under a different name and cover by Dutton Adult, May 28, 2013 as


It was hard to put the book down until I had finished it. The personalities in the Copenhagen police's special Department Q are so realistic and quirky, you feel you know them. They keep you interested and entertained at the same time as you follow their procedures for finding the serial murderer who has been targeting large religious families with young children and teens.
Excellent plot and characterization, as his books always are. Chilling, but a good read.

Book description: Two boys, brothers, wake tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea.
Their kidnapper has gone, but soon he will return.
Their bonds are inescapable.
But there is a bottle and tar to seal it.
Paper and a splinter for writing; blood for ink.
A message begging for help... Her husband will not tell the truth: where he goes, what he does, how long he will be away. For days on end she waits and when he returns she must endure his wants, his moods, his threats. But enough is enough.She will find out the truth, no matter the cost to him - or to herself.
In Copenhagen's cold cases division Carl Morck has received a bottle. It holds an old and decayed message, written in blood. (publisher)

I've read Books 1 and 2 in the series and found them both excellent, if you like Scandinavian thrillers. Here's my review of the first in the series, Mercy aka The Keeper of Lost Causes. The second in the series is Disgrace aka (The Absent One), 

and they don't need to be read in order.

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Aug 7, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman

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: Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman
To be published October 1, 2013 by Harper
Genre: mystery

"Legendary tribal sleuths Leaphorn and Chee are back! The daughter of New York Times bestselling mystery author Tony Hillerman continues the popular series with this Navajo Country mystery - her debut novel.

It happened in an instant: Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manualito saw a truck squeal into the parking lot and heard a crack of gunfire. When the dust cleared, someone very close to her was lying on the asphalt in a pool of blood.

Every officer in the squad and the local FBI office are hellbent to catch the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations  forbidding eyewitness involvement. Her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter.

Pooling their skills, Bernie and Chee discover that a cold case involving his former boss and partner, retired Inspector Joe Leaphorn, may hold the key to the shooting. Digging into the old investigation with fresh eyes, husband and wife inch closer to the truth with every clue . . . and closer to a killer who will do anything to prevent justice from taking its course." (publisher)


What new release are you waiting for?

Aug 6, 2013

Book Review: Tahoe Chase by Todd Borg


It was the softness of the metallic click that sounded dangerous.
Cynthia Rorvik was filling the bird feeder out on the deck when she heard a faint sound of metal on metal. Her heart thumped.
Maybe it was the latch on the deck fence gate, the whisper snick of spring-loaded bar as it was eased out of its cradle.
Cynthia inhaled a short, reflexive breath and held it, listening....
. (opening paragraph)

Title: Tahoe Chase by Todd Borg
Published August 1, 2013; Thriller Press
Genre: mystery, thriller
Source: review copy from author

The story: The setting is the area around the ski resorts of Lake Tahoe, Ca. and Nevada in the towns and mountains that ring the lake. Cynthia's fall from her deck to the rocks below looks like an accident, but her husband, a former Olympic ski racer, hires detective Owen McKenna to look into her untimely death.

My comments: Reading this thriller is a bit like skiing, I think. There are twists and turns and surprises around each bend in the story. First you are sure that Cynthia's fatal fall has something to do with her activism to keep Tahoe pristine and free from further development, then you find other possible motives, and you face the environmental factor again, then head off in a different direction, and so on. Which is the real reason for her now presumed murder?

Then you follow a young woman fleeing from domestic abuse, as she heads into the remote wilderness in a challenge to ski mountains and valleys and regain her self confidence. The problem is, her abuser is also a good skiier.

Owen McKenna has his hands full again in another thrilling adventure. I enjoyed the scenes of Tahoe, the lake and its mountains, one of the added perks of reading Todd Borg's Tahoe thrillers. This is a good story with a dramatic subplot and enough twists and turns to keep you really interested. This is the 11th in the series.

My objective rating: 4.5/5


Aug 4, 2013

Sunday Salon: Books on Asia and Southeast Asia

The Sunday Salon.com 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
BermudaOnion's Weblog, and to Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

I finished reading these three books on Asia, and have a few more to go!



Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw is a literary novel about five individuals who are in Shanghai to find their fortune. Several of them are from Malaysia; some will be successful and others not. Their stories each analyse what it takes to become a billionaire. For one person at least, you are full of regret.

Bend Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu is a memoir of life during the Cultural Revolution and life as a new immigrant in America, a book which turns out to be quite controversial, based on comments on amazon and goodreads. The controversy over authenticity of the memoir tend to overshadow the contributions Ping Fu and her company have made to 3D printing and graphic technology.




Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is a novel about the lives of the uber rich in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong - a story about several families and groups who are clannish as well as competitive in their garish display of wealth. Written with humor and a lot of candor. It ended somewhat abruptly, but overall an enlightening and entertaining read.



A great fan of mysteries as well,  I was delighted to get in the past couple of weeks,



A Conspiracy of Faith



(Click on the covers for their Goodreads descriptions.)
Other books for review:
Nightmare Range, a collection of mystery short stories by Martin Limon
Loss of Innocence by Richard North Patterson, a family drama set in 1968.
The Skull and the Nightingale by Michael Irwin, a dark tale set in 18th century England.

Mysteries and dark tales! What's on your reading list?

Aug 2, 2013

Book Beginnings: A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King

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: A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King
Published July 10, 2012; Touchstone
Genre: sci-fiction, comic book heroes

Book beginning: Chapter 1 is a comic featuring a hero
Chapter 2:  Ultimate, The Man With The Metal Face #566
Their lives are violence. Month after month after month, they fight a wonderful war, play a wonderful game, forever saving the next day from the next dastardly villain, the next meteor falling from the sky, the next giant monster emerging from his cave, his rock-fists swatting at the heroes rising into the air around him, and Pen slides the spatula under the half-cooked pancake and flips it over. The raw underside splatters wide and spreads across the pan. The circle starts to lose its shape as it falls into itself.

"I think I'm doing this wrong," Pen says. 
Page 56:  
A hand tugs him, pulls at Felix' shirt, tugs him, and he rolls backward on his back a few inches, pulled away from the fire, which has begun to spread. 
Book description:  "A Once Crowded Sky fuses the sensibility of bombastic, comic-book-style storytelling with modern literary fiction to bring to life a universe of super men stripped of their powers, newly mortal men forced to confront danger in a world without heroes.

The superheroes of Arcadia City fight a wonderful war and play a wonderful game, forever saving yet another day. However, after sacrificing both their powers and Ultimate, the greatest hero of them all, to defeat the latest apocalypse, these comic book characters are transformed from the marvelous into the mundane.

 After too many battles won and too many friends lost, The Soldier of Freedom was fine letting all that glory go. But when a new threat blasts through his city, Soldier, as ever, accepts his duty and reenlists in this next war. Without his once amazing abilities, he's forced to seek the help of the one man who walked away, the sole hero who refused to make the sacrifice--PenUltimate, the sidekick of Ultimate, who through his own rejection of the game has become the most powerful man in the world, the only one left who might still, once again, save the day." (publisher)

What do you think of this novel featuring comic book heroes without their powers?