Mar 30, 2014

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction

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

The sun is out and it's warm!! We bought a finch bird feeder and hope to hear their lovely songs soon. I didn't realize there are about 20 kinds of finches. We have only been aware of the purple finch, house finch, and the goldfinch in this area.

I am reading books for book tours as well as sneaking in other reads. Here are a few that have been added to the shelves:

Bourbon whiskey. Its primary ingredient was discovered by Christopher Columbus. Its recipe was perfected on the Western frontier. In 1964, Congress passed a resolution declaring it to be a "distinctive product of the United States." First brewed by pioneers in in the backwoods of Appalachia, bourbon whiskey has become a modern multi-billion dollar international industry today. As this book reveals, the Kentucky spirit--the only liquor produced from corn is the American experience, distilled, aged, and sealed in a bottle.

Huckelbridge tours across three hundred years.  Interweaving the development of bourbon to America's own rise, his  study is popular history,  an informative look at our past. (goodreads)

The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux, historical novel
Art, politics and passion collide in John L’Heureux’s novel, The Medici Boy.  L’Heureux  transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant. While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to Agnolo’s brutal murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save the life of Donatello, even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici. A narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers, and the artistry that enthralled the powerful and highly competitive Medici and Albizzi families in fifteenth century Florence.  (goodreads)

Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert, historical novel
In the early 1960s Chicago jazz scene, a literary debut about a talented but troubled singer, her precocious ten-year-old daughter, and their heartbreaking relationship. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has  her big break -the cover of Look magazine. But Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet extremely self-destructive woman whose charms are irresistible and dangerous for those around her. No one knows this better than Sophia, her precocious ten-year-old daughter.

Unsettled by her uncertain home life, she harbors the terrible fear that the world could end at any moment.... Her one constant is Jim, the photographer who is her best friend, surrogate father, and protector. But Jim is deeply in love with Naomi-a situation that adds to Sophia's anxiety. An unforgettable tale about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at odds with the life we have. (goodreads)

What books are on your shelf these days?

Mar 29, 2014

Book Review: Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi

Title: Telegraph Hill by John F. Nardizzi
Published April 26th 2013 by Merrimack Media
Genre: crime fiction, thriller
Someone was watching. She opened her eyes. A black shape stood at the edge of the dell. One of the Triad soldiers. He peered through the trees, but he wasn't sure where to go. Locked his dark eyes on a clump of trees and undergrowth where she lay. He stepped toward Tania. (ch. 11)
Book description:  John Nardizzi's Telegraph Hill introduces private detective Ray Infantino searching for a missing girl named Tania. The case takes him to San Francisco, the city he abandoned years ago after his fiance was murdered. Thrust into his old city haunts, Ray finds that Tania may not be lost at all. Tania saw a murder; and a criminal gang, the Black Fist Triad, wants to make sure she never sees anything again. 

Ray enlists help from an old flame, Dominique, but now he has three women on his mind. Meeting with various witnesses-ex-cops, prostitutes, skinheads-he relentlessly tracks the evidence. But the hunt for Tania fires his obsession with avenging the murder of his fiance. 

When the triad retaliates, and blood begins to flow, Ray must walk the knife edge between revenge and redemption on the streets of San Francisco. (publisher)

My comments: Quick and fast trips from Boston to San Francisco into the haunts of the Triads who control much of the underbelly of the city. PI Infantino is hired to find a girl missing from her home for over ten years. Infantino's mission is dangerous and there is thrilling action and near escapes as he attempts to find and then hide the girl Tania.

Fast paced novel with good descriptions of San Francisco as Infantino traverses it to find the missing girl. A good plot with an alluring setting. I enjoyed this quick and exciting read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review

Mar 27, 2014

Book Review/Tour:The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

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 Sound of Broken Glass: Duncan Kinkaid and Gemma James #15 by Deborah Crombie
Published February 25, 2014; William Morrow
Genre: mystery, police procedural
page 56: "...You drink some more of that tea." She waited until Mrs. Arnott had complied and her color seemed a bit better. Then she added," I'll bet you remember which pub Vincent goes to on his Friday evenings."
 Book beginning: It had been years since she had been in an English church. Would the place be locked earl on this miserable Januaray evening? she wondered. Moved by a sudden impulse, she waited for a break in the traffic and dodged across Charing Cross Road into Denmark Street.
 Synopsis: Detective Inspector Gemma James is investigating the murder of Vincent Arnott in a hotel in the Crystal Palace area of London. Those questioned include Andy a guitarist in a band performing in a nearby pub the night of the murder. To unravel the events leading up to the crime, the novel flashes back in time to the young Andy at age 13 who is befriended by a neighbor and school teacher, Nadine. The story of Andy and his friends and how their stories intersect with that of the murder victim Arnott is key to the mystery.

My comments: The domestic life of detective inspector Gemma James is very much in the forefront and occupies almost half of the novel. Gemma takes turns with her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kinkaid, to stay at home with their two children and a three-year-old foster child, Charlotte. In this novel, it's Gemma's turn to work, to investigate this case - Arnott's death and that of another man - and Duncan's turn to take care of home and family.

The streets and places in the Crystal Palace area and other parts of London are included in some detail, as we follow the characters and the police from area to area during their investigations. The names and locations went over my head, unfamiliar territory. I can imagine that this aspect of the novel would appeal especially to those who know London and its surroundings well.

Recommendations: The plot has unexpected outcomes and a few surprising twists. There are many scenes of domestic life that personalize the police who are involved in solving the case. I enjoyed the novel, though I especially enjoyed her previous book, No Mark Upon Her.

Visit Partners in Crime Tours for more reviews of the book and for the tour schedule

About the author: Deborah Crombie is a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds. Connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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

Mar 26, 2014

Book Review: The Riot by Laura Wilson

The Riot
Title: The Riot (Detectie Inspector Ted Stratton #5) byLaura Wilson
Published Augus 1, 2013; Quercus
Genre: police procedural

About the book: The Riot is set in the 1950s in a run down area of London inhabited primarily by Caribbean immigrants who live in relative poverty there. There is a murder of an English man who lived in a building there, a man who collected rent from tenants in several apartment buildings owned by a wealthy but unscrupulous property owner. This owner goes to many lengths to see that his tenants pay up, even sending thugs with dogs to the apartments.

My comments: Not knowing the area of London, it was difficult to sustain interest in this crime novel. It was also written in a factual, journalistic style without the usual elements to keep the reader's interest - notably strong characterizations, even subplots. The journalistic style was dry. To be fair, I believe those familiar with London and its ethnic groups and problems - Teddy boys, immigrants who do not fit in well, etc. and the racial tensions that ensue - will get much more from the novel.

The writer, Laura Wilson, has won an award for a previous book in this crime series.

Book description: August 1958. London is hot and tired, and nowhere more so than Notting Hill, where DI Stratton has just been posted. 

Stratton’s new manor is dirt poor and rife with racial tension. The end of the war saw a flood of Caribbean migrants. Now, a decade later, working-class Teddy Boys are showing mounting hostility towards their black neighbours. 

Notorious landlord Danny Perlmann, a Polish refugee, is taking full advantage of others’ reluctance to rent to the immigrants – or to prostitutes – and is making a fortune off the high rents he charges. Caught in the middle of this war over rents and turf is Irene, a young runaway on the verge of going on the game. 

When Perlmann’s rent collector is murdered, Stratton is called to investigate. Notting Hill is a cauldron, soon to be the scene of the worst racial violence England has ever known, and Stratton is right at the heart of it.

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

Mar 25, 2014

First Chapter: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Title: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
Published February 4, 2014; Grove Press
Genre: fiction

First chapter:
You could say I was thinking of other things when I shampooed my hair blue, and two glasses of red wine didn't help my concentration. 
Book description:
Celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut’s beauties and horrors along the way.

Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, divorced, and childless, Aaliya is her family’s "unnecessary appendage.” Every year, she translates a new favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated have never been read—by anyone. After overhearing her neighbors, "the three witches,” discussing her too-white hair, Aaliya accidentally dyes her hair too blue.

In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman’s late-life crisis, readers follow Aaliya’s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya’s volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.

A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of a single woman's reclusive life in the Middle East. (goodreads)

Based on the first paragraph and the book description, would you continue reading?

Mar 23, 2014

Sunday Salon: Spring Has Not Sprung; Books and Poetry Blog Tour

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

A reluctant spring is here, sprinkled with snow and dropping below freezing at times. No bud or sprig dares show its head in this still frigid cold. Only more birds singing...a good sign. I'm more than ready to come out of hibernation. The temps are back in the 20s today after teasing us with 50s last week.

Fans of Mary Higgins Clark will be glad to know about her new thriller to be released April 1, 2014 by Simon & Schuster:
I've Got You Under My Skin
"When Laurie Moran’s husband was brutally murdered, only three-year-old Timmy saw the face of his father’s killer. Five years later his piercing blue eyes still haunt Timmy’s dreams. Laurie is haunted by more—the killer’s threat to her son as he fled the scene: “Tell your mother she’s next, then it’s your turn . . .”
Now Laurie is the producer of a true-crime, cold-case television series to launch with the twenty-year-old unsolved murder of Betsy Powell, a socialite found suffocated after a gala celebrating the graduation of her daughter and three friends. Reopening the case with the cooperation of the surviving guests that night, Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands. But when the estranged friends begin filming, it becomes clear each is hiding secrets . . . small and large. And a pair of blue eyes is watching events unfold, too . ."(publisher)

I was one of five winners of a new e-book in a contest by the prolific Southern author, Peggy Webb:
Phantom of Riverside Park
"An unwed mother looking for a miracle… A wounded war hero living in the shadows… A grandfather praying for a silver lining… They never expected that miracles come in the most unlikely ways. Poignant and touching with lovely dashes of humor, this story will haunt you for a long time to come." (publisher)
Enjoying the descriptive writing.

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?
The National Poetry Month Blog Tour hosted by Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit in April will feature bloggers posting on selected poets and their poems. On April 11 I will share thoughts on a favorite poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child."  Contact Serena re signing up for the tour!

My next book tour will be March 26, a review of The Riot by Laura Wilson, a mystery novel set in racially charged 1950s London.

What books are you reading this week?

Mar 21, 2014

Author Q & A: Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Friday 56 Rules: *Grab a book, any book, and post a sentence from page 56. Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

Oleander Girl
Page 56: Eighteen years lost already - I can't waste any more time. The need to find out everything about my parents, suddenly, is like an ache in my bones, a deep deficiency.

Opening paragraph: I am swimming through a long, underwater cavern flecked with blue light, the cavern of love, with Rajat close behind me. We're in a race, and so far I'm winning because this is my dream. Sometimes, when I'm dreaming, I don't know it. But tonight I do. Sometimes when I'm awake, I wonder if I'm dreaming. That, however, is another story. 

A Conversation with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni about Oleander Girl,  a sweeping, suspenseful coming-of-age tale about a young woman who leaves India for America on a search that will transform her life.

How did you become a writer? Did you always know you wanted to be one?
Growing up in India, I never thought I'd be a writer. I didn't believe I had either the talent or the drive or a special story to tell. But immigration thrust me into a whole different world which was at once exciting and disconcerting in its newness. I wrote to make sense of my new life, and to remember the life that I had left behind.

You often set your books in India. What attracts you to the Indian landscape?
The landscape of one's childhood imprints itself upon the heart. In my case, that was India. Add to that the fact that Indian culture is old and complex and currently, due to globalization, undergoing a rapid transformation, and you have possibilities for many stories. In Oleander Girl, for instance, the two protagonists, Korobi and Rajat, come from very different families. Korobi's is steeped in tradition; Rajat's is westernized and newly rich. When Korobi and Rajat fall in love, this will lead to many complications.

A family secret lies at the heart of Oleander Girl. What made you decide to focus on this?
My own family had a dark secret of its own. When I discovered it, it turned my life upside down. I felt betrayed by the people I had trusted all my life—and yet I couldn't stop loving them. I wanted to explore these painful, contradictory feelings through Korobi's situation. She is braver than I was—she traveled across the world in search of that secret.

Do you write your books in English, or in some other language?
I write all my books in English. My mother-tongue is Bengali, but English was the language of my schooling. I read Bengali fluently, and when my mother was alive I wrote letters to her in that language. She told me once that it was a good thing I didn't write anything else in Bengali! (I think my vocabulary is at the 6th grade level). I do participate, though, when my books are translated into Bengali.

Oleander Girl is set in the year 2002. Why did you decide on this time period?
An important question in Oleander Girl is how can we live in amity with difference, both racial and religious? The year 2002 illustrates the price we have to pay when we choose not to do so.  In 2002, in the U.S., people were suffering the aftermath of 9/11—both the tragedy of the deaths in the Towers and elsewhere, and the violent fear and prejudice that swept the nation and affected the lives of many Americans who looked like I do. In India, 2002 was the year of the terrible Godhra Riots that led to deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

How did you come up with the title of this novel? In what way is it central to the theme of the book?
The heroine Korobi's name means Oleander in Bengali. From childhood, Korobi wants to know why her mother, who dies in childbirth, would want to name her after a flower that is beautiful but poisonous. She will discover the answer at the end, and along with that she will understand what kind of woman her mother wanted her to be. And this—how women need to balance between what they owe others and what they owe themselves—is an important theme in the novel.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a novel that is a re-working of our famous epic, The Ramayana. I am re-telling it from the point of view of Sita, the central woman character. The teller of the tale changes the meaning of the tale. By putting a woman at the center of an epic adventure, I hope to draw attention to different issues and make readers re-evaluate their beliefs about what is heroic.

About the Author
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the author of The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and The Vine of Desire; two short story collections, Arranged Marriage and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives; four volumes of poetry; and an award-winning novel for young readers, The Conch Bearer. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Winner of an American Book Award, she teaches creative writing at the University of Houston.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing this Q &A.

Mar 19, 2014

Book Review: The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Title: The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
Published February 4, 2014; Bantam
Genre: fiction
Objective review: 5/5

About the book: The secrets in a neighborhood, large and small, create problems for the individuals as well as for their small community and reveal the conflicts and tragedies they can create.

Young Tyler has a rare disease that makes him super sensitive to sunlight and even light from halogen bulbs. His neighbors cooperate by using regular light bulbs in their houses and backyards. Tyler can only come out of his house after the sun goes down - between sunset and dawn. Unknown to his very protective mother, Eve, he goes out at night with his camera and takes pictures of people in their homes, people he cannot see during the daytime unless they visit his boarded up and curtained rooms at home.

Tyler finds out the secrets of some of his neighbors, but the most damaging secret of all, that of his own mother Eve, he doesn't know about. Her secret will bring the neighbors into conflict with each other and eat at the heart of this mother who only wants to protect her invalid son.

My comments: The plot and the characters pull you in completely and the story as it unfolds is not at all predictable. Excellent characterizations. An intense look at our human hearts and the decisions that people sometimes are forced to make between family and friendship, morality and loyalty.  I gave this a five and highly recommend this book.

Carla Buckley lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, an environmental scientist, and their three children. She is the author of The Deepest Secret, Invisible, and The Things That Keep Us Here, which was nominated for a Thriller Award as a Best First novel and the Ohioana Book Award for fiction. She is at work on her next novel. Visit Carla’s website or Facebook for more information

Visit TLC Book Tours for more reviews and the tour schedule for
The Deepest Secret

I received a complimentary ARC of this book for review. 

Mar 18, 2014

Down London Road by Samantha Young

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Down London Road by Samantha Young
Paperback published May 9, 2013; Penguin UK
Genre: romance

First paragraph, first chapter:
Edinburgh, Scotland 
I looked upon the piece of art and wondered what the heck I was looking at. To me it was just a bunch of lines and squares in different colors with some shading here and there. It looked familiar. In fact, I thought I had a picture Cole had drawn me when he was three years old tucked away somewhere that bore a remarkable resemblance to it. Although I doubted I could expect anyone to pay three hundred and seventy-five pounds for Cole's drawing. I also doubted the sanity of anyone who would pay three hundred and seventy-five pounds for the piece of canvas that looked like it had been sitting next to a railway at the exact time a train full of paint careened off the rails and crashed.
Book description:

Johanna Walker knows what she wants. And that's a strong, steady, financially secure man who will treat her well and look after her and her little brother, Cole - something her parents have never done. But when she meets the gorgeous Cameron MacCabe, a new bartender at work, Jo can't deny the instant and undeniable attraction she feels. Cam doesn't fit into her strict specifications of her perfect partner at all - but for once she is tempted to let her heart rule her head.

 And as their intense connection grows, Jo has to stop hiding the truth about herself and her family. Is Cam prepared to accept Jo for who she really is? And is Jo willing to let someone into her life for keeps? (publisher)

Would you keep reading, based on the first paragraph and the book synopsis? 

Mar 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday: Kids and Cozies

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme to share what you received in the mail.
 The Year She Left Us: "From the winner of the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Prize—comes the extraordinary, unexpected debut tale of three generations of Chinese-American women in a San Francisco family who must confront their past and carve out a future."

Bloom and Doom: "As the co-owner of The Rose in Bloom, Audrey Bloom creates magnificent flower arrangements for brides to be. Though helping to plan a wedding can be stressful, it’s nothing compared to the groom turning up dead."

Sugar and Iced: "Sugar and spice and murderous vice. That’s what pageants are made of….... A judge at the Sweet Tiara Cupcake Contest turns up dead, and the owner of the Fairy Tale Cupcakes is a suspect."

A Snicker of Magic: "Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart."

What's new in your mailbox?

Mar 16, 2014

Sunday Salon: Squirrel-Proof Bird House

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

Do you think this squirrel-proof bird feeder will work? We bought one similar to this, with only one side open for birds to perch and eat. A squirrel's heavier weight would weigh down the bird perch and close access to the bird seeds. We'll see....One squirrel investigated and left it, but I bet he'll be back!

New to my bookshelves this week:

Animal Wise

An Act of Kindness

One Night in Winter

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

The Headmistress of Rosemere

Animal Wise by Virginia Morell
An Act of Kindness by Barbara Nadel
One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd
The Accidental Book Club by Jennifer Scott

What's new on your bookshelves?

Mar 14, 2014

Book Review: KEEPING MUM by Alyse Carlson

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: Keeping Mum:A Garden Society Mystery by Alyse Carlson
Published March 4, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

Book beginning:
Re: Fundraiser/Mystery Supper 
This Sunday a veritable who's who in Virginia at  Hunting Hills Country Club will gather for a Murder Mystery Supper and Fund-raiser where Jared Koonz is expected to announce his candidacy for the Virginia State Senate. 
Page 56:  
"Ella Chamberlain Schultz. Gold digger. I think Annie is her dad's primary heir, so Ella is better off with Senator Schultz alive than dead." 
About the book: Things start to go wrong from the get-go at this murder mystery supper. A well-known financier is found dead in the gardens of the country club, not the intended victim in the plan for the murder mystery. And retired Senator Schultz, Annie's dad, has gone missing. Annie and her friend Cam, both members of the Roanoke Garden Society hosting the supper, must find out if the two events are related.

My comments: There are so many possibilities here for solving the murder of the financier and the disappearance of Annie's dad, the Senator. The two women, Annie and Cam, with the help of their significant others, Rob and Jake, set out to find the solution in a maze of conflicts, suspicious motives, and interlocking relationships among guests at the mystery murder supper.

The different solutions for solving this murder keep the reader going. I wasn't able to guess the culprit(s) so this was a well planned plot. The main characters and even the suspects are fully developed personalities. The story line, setting, and people are realistic and seem very authentic. Because of the detail of place and interactions, in many ways a plus for the novel, I nevertheless felt this made the cozy a little too long.

You will love Annie and Cam though, and I would like to read more about them in future books in the series.

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

Mar 12, 2014

Book Review: The Accident, a thriller by Chris Pavone

Title: The Accident: A Novel by Chris Pavone
Published March 11, 2014; Crown
Genre: thriller
She is going to fly to California to find herself a new career. She has always wanted to try the film business, and now is the time. But she can't just land in LA. She needs a parachute.
"Yes," Camilla says, "a brilliant property called
The Accident." (ch. 14)
About the book: At least four people are at risk of losing their lives because they stole or held on to a copy of a manuscript titled The Accident, an expose of crimes committed by a powerful media mogul. The Accident is written by an anonymous writer who wants the book published; the CIA and the mogul, the subject of the book, do not.

The manuscript is sent anonymously to Isabel Reed, literary editor, who shares it with editor and former lover, Jeff Fielder, who are expected to have it published. But copies are secretly made and kept by various other people. This creates a fire storm that puts everyone in danger and cost some lives. Isabel and Jeff think they know who the anonymous author is, but he is supposed to be dead!

My comments: Suspenseful, well written and plotted, The Accident has engaging characters as well as riveting and dramatic action. A must for those who like thrillers mixed with international intrigue. The ending has a few more twists and turns and surprises than I was prepared for, but they did add a lot to the story's complex plot and interest. My objective rating: 4.5/5

CHRIS PAVONE is the author of the New York Times-bestselling The Expats, winner of the Edgar Award. He was a book editor for nearly two decades and lives in New York City with his family.
Visit the author’s website at

Visit TLC Book Tours for more reviews and a tour schedule.
Thanks to TLC and the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Mar 10, 2014

Book Feature/First Chapter: Truth Kills by Nanci Rathbun

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Truth Kills
Title: Truth Kills: An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery by Nanci Rathbun
Published July 26, 2013; Cozy Cat Press
Genre:  mystery

First chapter:
I'm a professional snoop and I'm good at it. While on the job, I can look like the senor partner of an accountancy firm in my pinstriped navy business suit, or the neighborhood white-haired old lady gossip. Off the job, I'm a fifty-something hottie: white hair gelled back, dramatic eye make-up, toned body encased in designer duds. Gravity has taken a small toll, but who notices in candlelight? 
Publisher's description:
In TRUTH KILLS, librarian-turned-private-investigator Angelina Bonaparte is a woman on a mission--to ferret out cheaters and lowlifes and bring them to justice. Angie has plenty of experience with such men--and not just because her former husband was the king of the lot. As a P.I. in Milwaukee, most of Angie's work is tracking down deadbeats and exposing unfaithful spouses. But, now she's been asked by a betrayed pregnant wife to prove her cheating husband, Anthony Belloni--aka Tony Baloney--innocent of the murder of his kept mistress. Angie's heart tells her to let the skunk rot in prison, but her head convinces her that adultery is not grounds for incarceration. During the investigation, Angie encounters so many people who wished the victim dead that she has to develop a chart to keep track of them all. She also encounters hunky police detective Ted Wukowski, who is still reeling from the death of his former female MPD partner at the hands of a narcotics gang, and thinks women don't belong in the path of danger. As they work toward the same goal--discovering the dead woman's killer--Angie and Detective Wukowski realize their attraction for each other and must decide whether they are strong enough as individuals to work through her lack of trust and his fear of loss.

About the author:
Nanci Rathbun retired early from a career at AT&T to pursue her dream of writing. A short story with a romantic theme, What’s in a Name?, was published in Woman’s World magazine. She wanted to focus on the kind of book she loves to read – the mystery. Her first novel, Truth Kills: An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery, is now available in Amazon in both paperback and ebook formats. Nanci has spent many years in workshops and coaching with AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, and is presently a member of the Murfreesboro Writers Group. She is a longtime Wisconsin resident who recently relocated to Tennessee to be closer to her granddaughters – oh, and their parents. No matter where she lives, she will always be a Packers fan. Visit her at

Thanks to the author for a copy of this book for feature/spotlight.

Mailbox Monday: A Mix of Genres

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme to share what you received in the mail.

My mailbox had the following books for review:

Murder in Pigalle

Love Illuminated
The Idea of Him

The Winter Horses

What new books came in your mailbox last week?

Mar 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: Book Tours Galore!

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

Do enter my Book Giveaway, sponsored by Berkey Prime Crime, which is offering a commemorative tote bag filled with five different cozy mysteries. Enter the contest by the end of March 10.

I reviewed and posted two books for tours the first week in March:
Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs and
The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

and have finished the next tour book,
The Accident, a thriller by Chris Pavone;
now reading for another tour,
Keeping Mum, a cozy mystery by Alyse Carlson.

The Deepest Secret, a family drama by Carla Buckley, comes next,
followed by
The Riot, a U.K. book by Laura Wilson.

 I am all book-toured-out for March. April will be much the same, with a break from May onward when I read at leisure!

In between, I am sandwiching in other books. I'm in the middle of Cara Black's newest mystery, Murder in Pigalle, the fourteenth book, Aimee Leduc Investigations series set in Paris.

I also plan to tackle

The Same Sweet Girls' Guide to Life

Murder on Bamboo Lane

Widow's Tears
I love the colors of the book covers, don't you?
What are you reading this month? 

Mar 6, 2014

Book Review: The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

Title: The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie
Published February 25, 2014; William Morrow
Genre: mystery, police procedural
Objective rating: 3.5/5

From publisher's description: In the past . . . On a hot August afternoon in Crystal Palace area of London, Andy, a thirteen-year-old boy meets his next door neighbor Nadine, a recently widowed young teacher hoping to make a new start in the South London community. Drawn together by loneliness, the unlikely pair form a deep connection that ends in a shattering act of betrayal.
"A 1964 Stratocaster. Fiesta red. Marshall had it valued. Everything's original - headstock, body, the pickups. Three's an amp, too. You can get it tomorrow."
Finally, he looked up at her past feeling any shame for the tears in his eyes. "But I can't possibly -"
"Yes. You can. Just play, Andy." She touched one of the geranium blossoms. "No one has been kind to me except you. Think of it as red for red."
(ch. 13)
 In the present . . . Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job now that her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home to care for their three-year-old foster daughter. Assigned to lead a Murder Investigation Team in South London, she's assisted by Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Their case, a crime scene at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace. The victim, Vincent Arnott, a well-respected barrister, found naked, trussed, and apparently strangled. Gemma's team must find his companion - a search that forces them to contemplate the weaknesses and passions that lead to murder.

My comments: It was hard to see at first what the events in young Andy's life fifteen years earlier had to the present, when a man is found strangled in a nearby hotel, close to the bar where Andy and his band were playing. The novel switches back and forth in time and only toward the end do we start putting the pieces of the past together with the present to get the full story. This does keep you invested and interested in the mystery.

Interwoven with the crime story are the personal events in the life of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, the couple who are members of the police solving murders in the mystery novels. This is the fifteenth in the mystery series. Their personal lives do add a touch of lightness and normalcy to the baffling crime scenes in this novel. However, I think the personal events might have been a distraction from the crime story, which almost started to be overshadowed.

I enjoyed Crombie's previous novel as well.

Deborah Crombie is a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, three cats, and two German shepherds.

Visit Deborah at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a review copy of this book. See the tour schedule for more reviews

Mar 4, 2014

Berkley Prime Crime's 5-Cozy Giveaway with Tote Bag

To celebrate 20 years of Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley is offering a special 20th anniversary tote bag filled with 5 of their cozies as a giveaway on this and other blogs. The cozies will be Berkley Prime Crime titles. See the details at the end of this post.

Scandal in Skibbereen
Twenty years ago, in March 1994, Berkley Books introduced Berkley Prime Crime, a mass market mystery imprint that included five launch authors.  This year, Berkley celebrates the 20th anniversary of Prime Crime with special author events and promotional giveaways.

In its first year, Berkley Prime Crime (BPC) published approximately forty titles, all mass market.  In 2013, the imprint published 150 titles, including mass market originals, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers.  Every year, BPC launches approximately 25-30 new series, including several house-owned franchises that editors have developed from idea to execution.  In the past year, BPC debuted sixteen titles on the New York Times Bestsellers List (printed and extended lists combined), which comes out to more than one per month!

“When we launched Berkley Prime Crime in March 1994 I believed that the audience for the traditional or ‘cozy’ mystery was still largely underserved and untapped.  Twenty years later I can say without reservation that this has proven to be correct and that Berkley Prime Crime has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations,” said Natalee Rosenstein, Vice President and Senior Executive Editor of Berkley. 

This spring Berkley Prime Crime is hosting two events at mystery bookstores that have supported Berkley Prime Crime over the years.  On March 13, Julie Hyzy, Miranda James, and Rebecca Hale will be at Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas.  On March 25 the Poisoned Pen in Phoenix will host Margaret Coel, Carolyn Hart, Earlene Fowler, and Avery Aames.

Throughout the remainder of 2014, more events and promotional giveaways are planned, in addition to Berkley Prime Crime’s annual presence at mystery conventions BoucherCon and Malice Domestic.  Visit the cozy mystery Facebook page at

GIVEAWAY: To enter the giveaway of a Berkley Prime Crime tote with cozies, leave a comment by March 10 and tell me about the last cozy you read. For anyone having a problem leaving a comment here, email me at with the heading: BERKLEY GIVEAWAY.

A winner, must be a U.S. resident, will be chosen at random and announced on March 11. The winner will have 24 hours to respond by email before another winner is chosen.

UPDATE: The winner, chosen by, is #6, Carol! 
Thank you all who entered the contest! 

The publisher will mail the books and the tote. 

Mar 3, 2014

Book Review: Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs

Title: Sweet Tea Revenge: A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs
Publication date: March 4, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery
Just when Theodosia was delivering a plate of black currant scones and a pot of vanilla spice tea, the ghost hunters came charging into her shop. They spotted her, gave an enthusiastic wave, then trooped over to the same table they'd secured yesterday. (ch. 8)
My comments: I have no doubt half of the appeal of the Tea Shop Mystery series is the description of delicious scones, exotic teas, tea sandwiches, desserts, and lunch offerings served in Theodosia's tea shop in Charleston, South Carolina. Her cook and baker Haley and her tea expert Drayton are two of the characters involved in the various pairings of delicacies and tea.

That's the tea shop background of the mystery series. This novel, like the others, presents a different mystery and murder for amateur sleuth Theodosia to solve. In Sweet Tea Revenge, Theodosia must find out who ruined the marriage of her friend Delaine with a murder at the wedding, discover if the Ravenscrest Inn, the venue for the wedding, is really haunted, and try to remain safe from a murderer at the same time.

Recommendation: Scrumptious details of tea parties and tea menus were part of the charm for me. The cozy is also a good mystery that had me guessing till the end. The novel has entertaining characters, a subtle plot that is not at all predictable, and a smooth writing style that eases the reader along effortlessly. It was fun to read.  My objective rating is 4.5/5.

Thanks to the publisher for a complimentary book tour copy of the novel.. 

Mar 1, 2014

Sunday Salon: Cold Rain versus Snow

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

Snow is expected tonight and tomorrow after a day of moderate temperatures. Only my bones are complaining about today - humid weather does that - and I may welcome the seriously colder temps that are coming. So, I can forget about living in places with persistent cold rain - no Seattle or Vancouver for me, though they are lovely cities to visit.

On the bright side, I have a few new books:

Death in Reel Time I think I will enjoy - a Family History Mystery series.

Above is a more serious novel, about an abduction of a teenager that lasts way too long. I may have to be in the right mood for this one.

What are you reading this week?

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...