Dec 31, 2014

Books Read 2014

These two challenges, The 100+ Book Challenge 2014 and 100 Books in a Year 2014 originally prompted me to keep a list of the books read this year.

Here is my Books Read list, under several genres. Click on the titles to see my reviews or my ratings on Goodreads. Seems I've read about 130 books this year.

1. Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber
2. Zero Degree Murder by M.L. Rowland
3. Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof by Blaize Clement
4. Paws for Murder by Annie Knox
5. After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman
6. Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman, also historical fiction
7.The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson
8. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
9. Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs
10. The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie
11. Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton
12. The Accident by Chris Pavone
13. Murder in Pigalle by Cara Black
14. Keeping Mum by Alyse Carlson
15. The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
16. The Riot by Laura Wilson
17. Nursing a Grudge by Diana Orgain
18. Deadly Sanctuary by Sylvia Nobel
19.Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi
20. Widow's Tears by Susan Wittig Albert
21. The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen
22. Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
23. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
24. Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
25. Death Money by Henry Chang
26. The Axe Factor by Colin Cotterill
27. Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara
28. A Tiger's Tale by Laura Morrigan
29. Night of the Living Thread by Janet Bolin
30. A Spider in the Cup by Barbara Cleverly
31. You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa
32. Death on Eat Street by J. J. Cook
33. Summer Garden Murder by Ann Ripley
34. The Lady of Sorrows by Anne Zouroudi
35. Fleur de Lies by Maddy Hunter
36. Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko
37. A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan
38. The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar
39. Tailing a Tabby by Laurie Cass
40. The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nicolits
41. Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann
42. Billionaire Blend by Cleo Coyle
43. W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
44. Scene of the Climb by Kate E. Dyer-Seeley
45. Tahoe Ghost Boat by Todd Borg
46. Clam Wake by Mary Daheim
47. Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch
48. Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann
49. Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn
50. Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance
51. Dark Spies by Matthew Dunn
52. Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy
53. Dog Beach by John Fusco
54. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
55. The Blood of an Englishman by M.C. Beaton
56. The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott
57. Ghost Month by Ed Lin
58. The Wedding Soup Murder by Rosie Genova
59. The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen
60. A Possibility of Violence by D. A. Mishani
61. Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu
62. For the Dead by Timothy Hallinan
63. Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
64. Gilt Trip by Laura Childs
65. Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James
66. Sons of Sparta by Jeffrey Siger
67. Desert Rage by Betty Webb
68. The Red Room by Ridley Pearson
69. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
70. Her by Harriet Lane
71. Tahoe Deathfall by Todd Borg
72. The Pocket Wife by Susan H. Crawford
73. Aground on St Thomas by Rebecca M. Hale
74. Meow If It's Murder by T.C. LoTempio
75. Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
76. The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland
77. Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris
78. Cane and Abe by James Grippando
79. Doctor Death by by Lene Kaaberbol

General/literary fiction
1. Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope
2. While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
3. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
4. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
5. Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley
6. The Korean Word for Butterfly by James Zerndt
7. Gemini by Carol Cassella
8. When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon
9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
10. Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan
11. The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson
12. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
13. Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok
14. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
15. The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
16. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
17. Us: A Novel by David Nicholls
18. A Man Called Ove  by Fredrick Backman
19. A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers
20. I Take You by Eliza Kennedy
21. The Demon Who Peddled Longing by Khanh Ha
22. One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
24. Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones
25. Butterflies in November by  (Translation)
26. Secrets of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

 Historical fiction
1. Lantern in the Mist by Liliana Shelbrook
2. A Different Sun by Elaine Neil Orr
3. Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim
4. I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War by Jerome Charyn
5. The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
6. The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose
7. The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux
8. The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli
9.The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson
10. The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin
11. Becoming Josephine by Heather Webber
12. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
13. Stillwater by Nicole Helget
14. Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly
15. The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rosenberg
16. The Spoils of Avalon by Mary F. Burns, historical mystery
17. The Visitors by Sally Beauman

1. Short Leash by Janice Gary, memoir
2. My Mother's Funeral by Adriana Paramo, memoir
3. Think Like a Freak by Levitt and Dubner
4. Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson
5. Lust by Diana Raab, poetry

Children's fiction
1. OMG...Am I a Witch? by Talia Aikens-Nunee
2. The Poodle Tales: The Modeling Poo by Toni Tuso Faber
3. Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop

I used to rate the books I read, but really, I liked them all, at least 95 percent of them. Check goodreads for my ratings. Did you keep a list of your books read this year?

Dec 29, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Doctor Death by Lene Kaaberbol

Mailbox Monday lists your new books - downloaded, purchased, or sent to you in the mail.

Here is what I downloaded from Netflix and am currently reading.

Doctor Death: A Madeline Karno Mystery by Lene Kaaberbol
To be published February 17, 2015; Atria Books
Genre: historical mystery, thriller, coming-of-age
Source: publicist

I don't read many books online or on my ereader, but this Danish thriller author is one of my favorite writers and this novel is intriguing as were her others, notably The Boy in the Suitcase (click on title to see my review).

Here is the publisher's description:

From the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Boy in the Suitcase, a gripping historical thriller and poignant coming-of-age story set in nineteenth-century France. Madeleine Karno is an ambitious young woman eager to shatter the confines of her provincial French town. Driven and strong headed,

Madeleine is set apart by her unusual occupation: assisting her father, Dr. Albert Karno, in his job as a forensic doctor. The year is 1894, and a young girl is found dead on the snowy streets of Varbourg. Dr. Karno is called in to determine the cause of her death, but before he can examine the body, the girl’s family forbids the autopsy from taking place. The only anomaly he manages to find is in the form of a mite in her nostril. Shortly after, several other dead bodies are discovered throughout the city, and Madeleine, her father, and the city commissioner must use the new science of forensic evidence to solve the mysterious cases before they all become the next victims of a deadly disease—or of a heinous murderer.

What did you get in your mailbox last week? 

Dec 27, 2014

Sunday Salon: Books on My Shelves I

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey,

Sharing with you throughout the new year a few books at a time, randomly pulled from my shelves. The start of something new? Here's the first post.
Silent Auction: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery by Jane Cleland
Published April 13, 2010; Minotaur Books

A blend of coziness, crime, and collectibles... 
The autumn foliage is in full fiery glory in the little coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire. Josie Prescott arrives at the town’s renovated lighthouse to conduct an antiques appraisal and is horrified to discover the body of her neighbor Zoë’s beloved nephew, Frankie. The owners of the lighthouse are avid antiques collectors, and Josie soon begins to suspect that a scrimshaw tooth from their collection may be the key to solving the crime that has shaken Rocky Point, and broken her dear friend’s heart. (publisher)

I just love this series as antiques are an interest of mine though I'm not a collector. 

The House of the Wind by Titania Hardie
Published October 27, 2011; Headline Review
Genre: historical fiction

Grieving the sudden death of her fiance, Madeline Moretti is sent by her Italian grandmother to Tuscany to heal. Once there, Maddie finds herself immersed in the restoration of a medieval garden, and in the mystery of a ruined villa.

Italian settings for novels are some of my favorites. 
Any books on your shelves you want to share? 
Click on the book titles for more info about both books.

Dec 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for the holidays, and Happy Reading to you! May there be many books under your holiday tree.

Dec 23, 2014

Hush, Hush by Laura Lippman

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. 

In a new book in her mystery series, Laura Lippman has her private detective Tess Monaghan in a mystery that plunges the new parent into a case involving murder and a manipulative mother. 

First paragraph, first chapter (from an Advance Readers Edition; final copy may differ):
Monday 9:30 a.m.
The first note appeared on Tess Monaghan's car on a March day that was cranky as a toddler -- wet, tired, prone to squalls. But Tess did not know the note was the first of anything. There is no first until the second arrives. So this note was a mere curiosity, a plain piece of paper folded and placed under the windshield wiper on her car. 
Book description: On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Now that’s she’s a mother herself, private investigator Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But Melisandre’s lawyer has asked Tess to assess Melisandre’s security needs. Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder.

Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she’s been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well. . . .
The book is scheduled for release February 24, 2015.

What do you think? Is this a mystery novel you would continue reading?

Dec 21, 2014

Sunday Salon: Slow Reading

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey, and Tynga at Stacking the Shelves.

Haven't been reading as much as I used to. Must be the holidays keeping me busier than normal - decluttering, tidying and filing, putting up a tree, getting ready to wrap presents, etc. We plan a relatively quiet Christmas this year, however. 

A book came for a tour I signed up for though I don't know the dates yet. I'm getting into it though and enjoying the idea of a book about moving to a South Pacific island.
The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli is to be released February 10, 2015 by St. Martin's Press. I received an Advanced Readers Edition for review. Here is a brief synopsis: "a novel set on an island resort, where guests attempting to flee their troubles realize they can’t escape who they are."

But it seems a coral atoll might be a nice place to try.

I also have lined up a cozy read, a Library Lover's Mystery by Jenn McKinlay - On Borrowed Time, the fifth in the series. 
I have liked previous novels in this series. This one is described as a cozy about the mysterious disappearance of the librarian's  world-traveling playboy brother. Hopefully, a light read over a busy holiday.

What have you planned for holiday reading?

Dec 19, 2014

Book Beginning: Last Words by Rick Zahradnik

The Friday 56: *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 visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.
Last Words: A Coleridge Taylor Mystery by Rich Zahradnik
Published October 1, 2014; Camel Press

Book beginning:
The dead sitting on his desk could wait.
Instead of going back to the office, Coleridge Taylor stopped at the newsstand on 23rd Street and looked at the front page of the daily news. MAYHEM IN QUEENS spelled out in two-in ch type. Another story that should have been his. The Times led with a dull speech by President Ford. It made him mix Nixon. Nothing like a crook in the White House to sell papers. He spent a nickel on a pack of Teaberry gum, folded a stick into his mouth, pulled his field jacket tight against the wind, and turned east toward Bellevue. 
page 56:
"Does he fight with your husband a lot?"
"He fights with everyone a lot. Me. Con. His teachers. He's smart. Too smart for his own damn good....
Book description:
"In March of 1975, as New York City hurtles toward bankruptcy and the Bronx burns, newsman Coleridge Taylor  is looking for the story that will deliver him from obits, his place of exile at the Messenger-Telegram. Ever since he was demoted from the police beat for inventing sources, the 34-year-old has been a lost soul.

A break comes at Bellevue, where Taylor views the body of a homeless teen picked up in the Meatpacking District. Taylor smells a rat: the dead boy looks too clean, and he's wearing a distinctive Army field jacket. A little digging reveals that the jacket belonged to a hobo named Mark Voichek and that the teen was a spoiled society kid up to no good, the son of a city official.

Taylor's efforts to protect Voichek put him on the hit list of three goons who are willing to kill any number of street people to cover tracks that just might lead to City Hall. Taylor has only one ally in the newsroom, young and lovely reporter Laura Wheeler.  If he doesn't wrap this story up soon, he'll be back on the obits page--as a headline, not a byline. 

Last Words is the first book in the Coleridge Taylor mystery series."

What do you think? Is this a mystery novel you would read?

Dec 16, 2014

Book Review: The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB.

Title: The Iris Fan: A Novel of Feudal Japan (Sano Ichiro #18)by Laura Joh Rowland
Published December 9, 2014; Minotaur
Genre: historical mystery

First chapter, first paragraph:
Slow, hissing breaths expanded and contracted the air in a chamber as dark as the bottom of a crypt. Wind shook the shutters. Sleet pattered onto the tile roof. In the corridor outside the chamber, the floor creaked under stealthy footsteps. The shimmering yellow glow of an oil lamp diffused across the room's lattice-and-paper wall.The footsteps halted outside the room; the door slid open as quietly as a whisper.
(from an advance readers copy; final copy may differ)
My comments: This is the last planned book in the San Ichiro historical mystery series set in Japan. I have enjoyed many in the series and followed the feudal detective on his adventures and investigations under the Shogun in feudal times.

Though this is a stand alone novel, I would recommend that new readers first read at least the previous novel in the series, The Shogun's Daughter, as the Iris Fan seems to be a continuation of incidents in that book.

I am sorry to see the end of a series that has had some brilliant books, but I can see how Sano Ichiro would want to retire eventually.  I look forward to other books by the author in the future!

Book description:

Japan, 1709. The shogun is old and ailing. Amid the ever-treacherous intrigue in the court, Sano Ichirō has been demoted from chamberlain to a lowly patrol guard, and a bizarre new alliance between his two enemies Yanagisawa and Lord Ienobu has left him puzzled and wary. Sano’s onetime friend Hirata is a reluctant conspirator in a plot against the ruling regime. Yet, Sano’s dedication to the Way of the Warrior—the samurai code of honor—is undiminished.

Then an almost inconceivable crime takes place. In his own palace, the shogun is stabbed with a fan made of painted silk with sharp-pointed iron ribs. Sano is restored to the rank of chief investigator to find the culprit. 

This is the most dangerous, investigation of his career. If the shogun’s heir is displeased, he will have Sano and his family put to death. Sano finds himself at the center of warring forces that threaten not only his own family but Japan itself. The Iris Fan is the triumphant conclusion to Laura Joh Rowland’s brilliant series of thrillers set in feudal Japan. (publisher)

See Tour schedule for other reviews

03_Laura Joh RowlandAbout the Author

Laura Joh Rowland is the author of sixteen previous Sano Ichiro thrillers set in feudal Japan. The Fire Kimono was named one of the Wall Street Journal’s “Five Best Historical Mystery Novels”; and The Snow Empress and The Cloud Pavilion were among Publishers Weekly’s Best Mysteries of the Year. She currently lives in New Orleans with her husband.
Please visit Laura’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook.

Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the author/publisher for a review ARC of this book.

Dec 14, 2014

Sunday Salon: Current Reads

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey, and Tynga at Stacking the Shelves.

A few new review books to share.....

A new novel to be published December 20, 2014 by Galley Books, The Life Intended is a romance and women's fiction about a widow finding a new life again, a second chance.

Book description: 
Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited? At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on.

Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined (goodreads)

Cozies for review, due out in early January:

Snow Way Out is a Snow Globe Shop Mystery, first in a new series. I have a few Christmas snow globes out so am looking forward to this one. Curio shop manager Camryn Brooks thought she’d seen every kind of snow globe—until she saw one depicting a crime scene…

For Whom the Bluebells Toll: Deadly thorns lurk among the roses in this Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery.  Florist Audrey Bloom, co-owner of the Rose in Bloom, creates fragrant bouquets for brides. But when a wedding goes fatally wrong, it’s up to Audrey to sniff out a killer...

Feta Attraction is a new Greek To Me Mystery series and bound to be a hit for those who love Greek food. Georgie Nikolopatos manages the Bonaparte House, a Greek restaurant and historic landmark in beautiful upstate New York rumored to possess ghosts and hidden treasure. But when her husband disappears and her main competitor is found dead, it’s up to Georgie to solve a big fat Greek murder.

What's on your holiday desk for reading?

What I'm currently reading:

A police procedural and thriller set in Miami-Dade County. It's pretty gripping so far. Who dunnit, and why frame the prosecutor for the crime?

What's YOUR current read?

Dec 12, 2014

Book Beginning: Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

The Friday 56: *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 VoiceAlso, Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.

Book beginning:
June 12, 2014 Cambridge, Massachusetts 
Copper flashes like shards of aventurine glass on top of the old brick wall behind our house. I envision ancient pastel stucco workshops with red tile roofs along the Rio dei Vetrai canal, and fiery furnaces and blowpipes as maestros shape molten glass on marvers. Careful not to spill, I carry two espressos sweetened with agave nectar.
page 56: 
"There's no room in a homicide investigation for personal problems."
FLESH AND BLOOD ( November 11, 2014, William Morrow)
 It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted?

Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing.

In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next.

First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.

Dec 10, 2014

Book Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Title: Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Anthony Horowitz
Published December 9, 2014; Harper
Genre: mystery

My review:
In the first Sherlock Holmes mystery by Horowitz, Moriarty dies in a confrontation with his enemy Sherlock at the Reichenbach Falls and is replaced by a new criminal mastermind. This new novel is told by Frederick Chase, a senior investigator with Pinkerton Detective Agency in New York. He it is who tries to trace the truth of what happened at the falls that day.

But what really did happen? The novel ends with a delicious twist that will have Sherlock Holmes fan waiting for the next in this series.
'We cannot be certain that this is Moriarty,' I suggested. 'You were quite correct when you said that I could not identify him. But can you?' (from ARE chapter 2; final copy may differ)
Lovers of Sherlock Holmes will love this new series that began with House of Silk. 

Publisher description:
The game is once again afoot in this mystery from the author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. A riveting tale of murder and menace, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes’s dark and fascinating world.

Anthony Horowitz of London s the author of  The House of Silk and the New York Times number one bestselling Alex Rider series for Young Adults. As a television screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War, both of which were featured on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. In January 2014 he was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. Visit his website and connect with him on Twitter.

For more book reviews and the book tour schedule, visit TLC Book Tours.
I received an advance readers edition of this book for review. 

Dec 8, 2014

Book Review: Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones

Fog Island Mountains
Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones
Published November 4, 2014; Tantor
Genre: literary fiction

There are two dramatic stories going on in this novel set in the Fog Island Mountains in southern Japan: a mortally ill South African man waits in vain for his Japanese wife to return home so they can confront together the expected diagnosis of the doctor at the local hospital. Alec's wife, however, is unable to confront the reality of  the imminent loss of her husband and seeks escape in several ways.

The second story is that there is a massive typhoon heading towards the town and these mountains. The inhabitants of the small town must seek shelter at the same time as look for the missing Alec and his wife Kanae, both of whom disappear separately.

Interwoven into these two stories is the storyteller who describes the town's events as well as shows us a wild fox she rescued and healed, and the fox-spirit, the kitsune in Japanese folklore, that has cunning, stealth and other human qualities.

Engrossing literary novel - a moving story of love, fear, and reconciliation, beautifully written.

About the author:
Michelle Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator. Fog Island Mountains won the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction in New York City. She translated Charles Ferdinand Ramuz s 1927 Swiss classic Beauty on Earth. She is the reviews editor at the web journal Necessary Fiction, and her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in a number of journals, including the Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, and the Atticus Review. Michelle lives in Switzerland.

Publisher description:
What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone's greatest mistake?
 Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer’s typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec’s diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow.

Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi’s oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

For more reviews and for the book tour schedule, visit TLC Book Tours for Fog Island Mountains.
Thanks to the publisher and TLC for a review galley of this book.

Dec 6, 2014

Sunday Salon: A Post Without Pictures

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey.

I'm engrossed in reading The Visitors by Sally Beauman, a novel set in 19th century Egypt about the discovery of the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun. I am also reading a library find, Blood Rubies by Jane Cleland, an antiques mystery.

Book tours are coming up next week for Fog Island Mountains set in typhoon-prone northern Japan, and for Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, a novel about the infamous archenemy of Sherlock Holmes.

Thanks to the publishers for the following review ARCs and books - fiction and nonfiction:

Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Book by Laura Lippman - private detective Tess Monaghan, introduced in the classic Baltimore Blues, in an absorbing mystery that plunges the new parent into a disturbing case involving murder and a manipulative mother.

Flesh and Blood: Kay Scarpetta #22 by Patricia Cornwall -  high-stakes series starring Kay Scarpetta—a complex tale involving a serial sniper who strikes chillingly close to the forensic sleuth herself.

Driving the King, a novel by Ravi Howard - A daring  new novel that explores race and class in 1950s America, witnessed through the experiences of Nat King Cole and his driver, Nat Weary

A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory by Sara Midda - From the author of the international bestseller In and Out of the Garden and the wondrous sketchbook Sara Midda’s South of France comes a long-awaited treasure of a book. Drawn from the artist’s wealth of impressions and memories, it is a book for lovers of food and art and fine gift books—a book for anyone who, upon arriving in a new town, seeks first the local market, or who believes the best thing to do on a given night is to share a table with friends. 

Russian Tattoo: A Memoir by Elena Gorokhova - An exquisite portrait of mothers and daughters that reaches from Cold War Russia to modern-day New Jersey, from the author of A Mountain of Crumbs—the memoir that “leaves you wanting more” (The Daily Telegraph, UK).

What books are new on your desk?

Dec 4, 2014

Book Review: Secrets of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

The Friday 56: *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 visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.

Secrets of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip
Published November 25, 2014; Kensington
Genre: historical fiction
Book beginning:
It was my wedding day.
I was horrified.
Because my soon-to-be-lawful - and awful - husband was not even a man.
He was a ghost.
Page 56:
 "Now, watch carefully - I am going to use the 'wandering stitch' to show the mane of a galloping horse." 
My comments: On the day of her wedding as a ghost bride, Spring Swallow escapes from the family whose son she is betrothed to, a son who has died. Rather than live her life as as a widow in the home of a dead husband's family, she escapes to find a new life. She joins a group of embroiderers led by Aunty Peony, a woman who was once an embroiderer in the court of the Emperor.

The novel is told from Spring Swallow's point of view, but the story is also about Aunty Peony who once decorated the Emperor's robes with skillful and elaborate embroidery art, but who is now trying to piece together a living on her own. Aunt Peony's story is a sad one, reflecting the perilous and uncertain position of women during the Qing Dynasty and after its fall. In contrast, the younger woman Spring Swallow finds her way in a new era after the fall of the dynasty.

Intriguing historical setting and information about the centuries old art of embroidery in China. The author brings this art to life in her historical novel while telling the stories of these two women, Aunt Peony and Spring Swallow. An interesting novel, recommended for those interested in traditional culture and the arts in Chinese history.

Thanks to the author for a review ARC of this book.

Dec 3, 2014

Book Review: Meow If It's For Murder by T.C. LoTempio

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Meow If It's For Murder by T. C. LoTempio
Published December 2, 2014 Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

My comments: A new series, A Nick and Nora Mystery, features Nick, a cat that nudges telltale books and Scrabble letters at the main character and helps solve crimes. Taken with a huge grain of salt, this cozy will work for serious cat lovers who are also mystery lovers.

Book description:
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives. (goodreads)

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

Dec 2, 2014

Book Review: Aground on St. Thomas by Rebecca M. Hale

Title: Aground on St. Thomas by Rebecca M. Hale
Published December 2, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

This was an unusual cozy as it involved local politics on St. Thomas Virgin Islands and St. Croix, a fictitious story, of course. The governor of St. Thomas is in hiding from U.S. forces which have landed to take over the government in the wake of massive island corruption. The story line is based on a true story of the British invasion of the Turks and Caicos Islands some time ago for similar reasons..

Interesting, unusual. I'd recommend it for a light read that takes you to the island setting and its atmosphere.

Book description:
The tropical paradise of St. Thomas is shut down as the FBI seizes control of the island to apprehend government officials on bribery charges. Tourists and locals are stranded until FBI agent Gabe “Friday” Stein can find the missing governor and two senators who have eluded capture.

 Innocent of any crime, Senator Julia Sanchez can only escape wrongful arrest with the help of eccentric Senator Bobo. As they try to blend in with increasingly hostile locals and make their trek across the island to safety, Senator Sanchez is only just beginning to realize the extent of the corruption behind the island’s idyllic façade. (goodreads)

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Dec 1, 2014

We Have a Winner!

Congrats to Suko on winning a print copy of The Demon Who Peddled Longing. An email has been sent to you.

The Demon Who Peddled Longing
Title: The Demon Who Peddled Longing by Khanh Ha
Published November 21, 2014; Underground Voices
Genre: multicultural fiction, literary fiction

This is almost a coming of age story as much as an odyssey, and a story of a young man's unholy pilgrimage to seek retribution for the wrong done to the young woman, his cousin. How he changes and matures toward the end of his journey is an intriguing part of the novel. Set in postwar Vietnam.

For my full review, visit

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. Sorry there weren't books to give to everyone!

Nov 30, 2014

Sunday Salon: Autumn Reads

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey.
A few new books to share:
Cattle Cate
>Cattle Kate: Ella Watson is the only woman to be lynched in the nation as a cattle rustler. She and her husband were hanged on July 20, 1889, by prominent cattlemen. History portrays the lynching as a case of “range land justice,” with “Cattle Kate” tarred as both a notorious rustler and a filthy whore. Is this sordid story true? 

It was all a lie. 

Death with All the Trimmings
The only snow in Key West this Christmas is Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, who is not getting time off for the holiday…or time off from murder. 

Murder Served Simply
Amish quilt shop owner Angie Braddock has a lot on her plate this Christmas. But things only get worse after someone develops a taste for murder…

The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer
Wagtail, Virginia, the top pet-friendly getaway in the United States, is gearing up for a howling good Halloween—until a spooky murder shakes the town to its core . . .
What's on your desk this week?

Nov 28, 2014

Book Beginnings: The Language of Silence by Peggy Webb

The Friday 56: *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 visit Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader.
The Language of Silence

The Language of Silence by Betty Webb
Published August 5, 2014; Gallery Books
Genre: women's fiction
Page 56;
When the time was right, she'd run to the only place she knew where  woman could vanish so completely there was nothing left of her except a yellowed newspaper clipping, a gold tiger brooch, and enough conflicting stories to keep three generations guessing.
Book beginning, first chapter: It was the blackbirds that first told Ruth something was wrong. At exactly the stroke of non, they landed in the cornfield and commenced eating her corn as if they'd been the ones to stand in hundred-degree heat and chop the weeds out with a hoe. 
Publisher description:

Following in the footsteps of her tiger-taming grandmother, a woman flees her abusive husband to join the circus. A poignant portrayal of a woman on the edge seeking solace in the past.

Nobody in the family talks about Ellen’s grandmother, Lola, who was swallowed up by the circus and emerged as a woman who tamed tigers and got away scot-free for killing her husband. When Ellen’s husband, Wayne, beats her nearly to death, she runs to the only place she knows where a woman can completely disappear—the same Big Top that once sheltered her grandmother.

Though the circus moves from one town to the next, Wayne tracks it, and Ellen, relentlessly. At the same time, Ellen learns more about her feisty, fiery relative, and the heritage that is hers for the taking—if she dares. With her violent husband hot on her trail, Ellen must learn to stand up and fight for herself, to break the cycle of abuse, and pass down a story of love and redemption to her children.(amazon)

I don't like circuses as much as I did as a child and probably would not visit one today. But how does the idea of literally "running away to the circus" grab you as an ingenious though desperate attempt to escape domestic abuse?

Empresses of Seventh Avenue by Nancy MacDonell: Historical Novel

 Fashion in Paris and New York City during WWII   Empresses of Seventh Avenue World War II, New York City, and the Birth of American Fashion...