Jul 27, 2014

Sunday Salon: Tahoe Ghost Boat by Todd Borg

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

New books that arrived last week include one from thriller writer Todd Borg that I've been looking forward to: 
Tahoe Ghost Boat
This is the 12th in the Owen McKenna series set in Tahoe NV and Tahoe CA. Of course they do not have to be read in sequence as each is a complete mystery novel. It will be published in August, 2014 by Thriller Press.  Book description: When a gang led by a killer the FBI calls Mikhailo the Monster takes 15-year-old Gertie as the centerpiece of an extortion plot, the girl's mother calls Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna for help.

Stanley's Garage
Stanley's Garage came as a surprise from the publisher, a children's picture book to show what a gas station and garage does and the tools it uses for fixing and maintaining cars. It was published May 8, 2014.

Fatal Fortune
Fatal Fortune is the 12th in the Psychic Eye mystery series and it too can be read out of sequence as a complete cozy mystery novel. Abby Cooper, a psychic, heads to Las Vegas to prove that her friend did not shoot a man in cold blood, as a video tape seems to suggest.

Books for book tours have been arriving also:

Dark Aemilia

Picador published Dark Aemilia on May 27, 2014, the story of William Shakespeare's Dark Lady, his Muse and one true love who inspired many of his sonnets. A tale of passion and sorcery in 17th century England.

The Ghost Bride

The Ghost Bride: In colonial Malaya in the sleepy town of Malacca, Li Lan's family wants her to become a ghost bride for the Lim family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. A traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit and Li Lan would be trapped in this ghost marriage for life. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife.

Bitter Greens

Bitter Greens is based on the Rapunzel fairy tale...French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

I am reading a bunch of cozies as well, including
Cookies and Scream

Engaged in Murder

Reading any cozy mysteries lately? And what did you get in your mailbox?

Jul 25, 2014


Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: Book Beginning

 *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.

Mr. Mercedes
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Published June 3, 2014; Simon and Schuster
Genre: thriller

page 56:
"I hope there are plenty of people with me when we catch him. If I nail him alone, I'm apt to kill him just for putting me on the outs with my daughter."
"Then why hope for plenty of people?"
Book beginning:
Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that an well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of town , so he decided to take the last bus of the night. He got off at twenty past eleven with his pack on his back and his rolled-up sleeping bag under one arm. He thought he would be glad of the down-filled bag by three A.M. The night was musty and chill.  
"Good luck man," the driver said as he stepped down. "You ought to get something for just being the first one there."
Book description: "In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.... In the gloomy pre-dawn hours of a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of unemployed hopefuls are lined up for a job fair. Without warning, a merciless driver plows through the crowd in a roaring Mercedes. Eight people are killed; 15 are wounded. The killer escapes into the early-spring fog never to be seen from again. Until now..."

My comments: I am willing to try this new Stephen King novel as it seems to be a thriller, not pure horror as his early books are. A detective is determined to hunt down the Mercedes killer before he can wreck more havoc. The plot does sound like a roller coaster ride and I'm willing to go on this one. 

How about you? Would you read Mr. Mercedes? 

Jul 23, 2014

Uncaged: The Singular Menace by John Sanford and Michele Cook

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
Uncaged: The Singular Menace
You don't have to wait for this one. It was actually released July 8, 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. What I found interesting is that this new thriller series is aimed at the huge market of young adult readers. I always think of thrillers as adult material that YA readers generally stay away from

This book features two young protagonists, Shay Remby and her brilliant hacker brother, Odin. I can see the potential in this combination, and also because it's written by an established thriller writer John Sanford and his co-writer, Michelle Cook.

Here is what the publisher has to say about Uncaged:
Shay Remby arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife, searching for her brother, Odin.
Odin’s a brilliant hacker but a bit of a loose cannon. He and a group of radical animal-rights activists hit a Singular Corp. research lab in Eugene, Oregon. The raid was a disaster, but Odin escaped with a set of highly encrypted flash drives and a post-surgical dog.
When Shay gets a frantic 3 a.m. phone call from Odin—talking about evidence of unspeakable experiments, and a ruthless corporation, and how he must hide—she’s concerned. When she gets a menacing visit from Singular’s security team, she knows: her brother’s a dead man walking.
What Singular doesn’t know—yet—is that 16-year-old Shay is every bit as ruthless as their security force, and she will burn Singular to the ground, if that’s what it takes to save her brother.
I know a few YA readers and adult readers who might be interested. How about you?  

Jul 22, 2014

The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.
Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from your current read.
The House on Mermaid Point
The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax
Published July 1, 2014; Berkley Trade
Genre: contemporary fiction
First chapter, first paragraph:
Although she hadn't exactly planned it, Madeline Singer had recently achieved two things that surprised her: a senior citizen discount; and the legal right to date.
Teaser sentences:
Yelling at Madeline Singer was even worse than kicking a puppy, and Will regretted it almost as soon as possibly even before, he'd started doing it. (ch. 25)
"Is so bea-u-ti-ful out here."  Avery's head had dropped back and she was peering up into the sky.
"It is," Maddie nodded her agreement.
(ch. 29)
My comments:  Wendy Wax has written a love story/stories set in the Florida Keys and on a fictional private island, Mermaid Point. The novel seems to be a paean to the sea, the land, the skies, the place. I've been to the Keys and loved it. Wax revels in it! I haven't read her two earlier Florida books but am curious about the previous adventures of the trio in these beach novels - Madeline, Avery, and Nicole.

Book description from goodreads:
"In this new novel from the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, three unlikely friends who were thrown together by disaster get a do-over on life, love, and happiness . . . Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another while  restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . ."

A good beach read, in all ways, especially if you can't make it down to the Keys!  
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy 

Other reviews of the book:

Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Always with a Book

Jul 21, 2014

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?

Visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey, and Mailbox Monday each week to see what's new on readers' bookshelves.

My mailbox has been full these past two weeks, with books for tours and books and ARCs that I want to get to this summer!
Gutenberg's Apprentice
An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany—a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible. To be published September 23, 2014 by Harper.
Victus: The Fall of Barcelona
Historical epic, set in early eighteenth-century Spain, about a military mastermind whose betrayal ultimately leads to the conquest of Barcelona, from the globally popular Catalonian writer Albert Sánchez Piñol. A sweeping tale of heroism, treason, war, love, pride, and regret that culminates in the tragic fall of a legendary city, illustrated with battle diagrams, portraits of political figures, and priceless maps of the old city of Barcelona.
A Man Called Ove
A quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
The House We Grew Up In
Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond....Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.
The Stone Wife
At a Bath auction house, a large slab of carved stone is up for sale, but  three masked robbers shoot and kill the highest bidder, a professor who has recognized the female figure carved in the stone as Chaucer’s Wife of Bath. The masked would-be thieves flee, leaving the stone behind.  Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond and his team are assigned to investigate, and the stone is moved into Diamond’s office so he can research its origins. The carving causes such difficulties that he starts to think it has jinxed him. 
The Butcher
Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur in Seattle, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands. A high-octane novel about lethal secrets that refuse to die. 
Lords of the Sky
Retired USAF F-16 legend Dan Hampton offers the first comprehensive popular history of combat aviation—an action-packed look at the aces of the air and their machines, from the Red Baron and his triplane in World War I to today’s technologically expert flying warriors in supersonic jets.
Get Carter
Set in the late 1960s amidst the smokestacks and hardcases of the industrial north of England, Get Carter redefined British crime fiction and cinema alike. Jack Carter returns home to the mill town of Scunthorpe to investigate his brother's death. Adapted into the film starring Michael Caine, Get Carter—originally published as Jack’s Return Home. Along with the other two novels in the Jack Carter Trilogy, it is one of the most important crime novels of all time. (goodreads)
Maisie Dobbs The 10th Anniversary Edition with a special Afterword by the author. Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, took her under her wing. Maisie trained as a nurse, then left for France to serve at the Front during WWI. Ten years after the Armistice, in 1929, Maisie sets out on her own as a private investigator, one who has learned that coincidences are meaningful, and truth elusive. Her very first case involves suspected infidelity but reveals something very different.
Which of these novels - historical, contemporary, mystery, or nonfiction would you start reading first?

Jul 19, 2014

Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood by Ted Kluck

Hello, I Love You
Published May 13, 2010; Moody Publishers
Genre: memoir

Publisher description:
There's nothing like adoption to make a grown man cry. Repeatedly. 

In this humorous and honest memoir, Ted Kluck-father, writer, and sports fan-details his adoption of his two sons from Ukraine. While not always self-flattering, his complaints and struggles will provoke laughter, some fear, and self-examination. In the first part of his memoir, Ted reveals the chaos the Kluck's first international adoption, the adoption of his son Tristan.
An Excerpt from the Book's Introduction:
            This book began as a journal-some spiral-bound notebooks that came with me to Ukraine the first time, and which contained letters that I wrote to Tristan during the experience. In the first half of the book, it reads like I'm addressing Tristan directly, while the second half is a more straightforward narrative of Dima's adoption. They're both love letters to my boys, and the whole thing is a love letter to Kristin, my wife.            You'll also notice lots of frank, often sarcastic prose about cultural differences-usually with the author as the punch line, as it was my inability to deal with these differences that provided a lot of humor (in retrospect) and anger (at the time).            There's also some tough content regarding infertility. If this is something you've struggled with in your marriage, I hope this chapter encourages you, and I hope you feel less alone in your struggle. If you've been blessed with biological children, please don't feel guilty for having them, or in any way judged or made fun of by the observations in that chapter (see also: It not being you, but me).            Finally, the book contains lots of stories of God's faithfulness-stories that we thought were too meaningful not to be told.  (from g0odreads)
I met Ted Kluck and his family for the first time today, when he visited as the guest speaker at our writing group meeting. This book is his story of the adoption of his two sons from the Ukraine.

Jul 18, 2014

Book Review: Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann

Claws of the Cat
An unlikely pair of collaborators in 16th century Kyoto risk their lives to solve the murder of a samurai who died from claw and stab wounds in a local tea house. The fatal wounds were made by neko-te or "cat's claws," a type of weapon used mostly be female fighters. But did a female murder the samurai?

Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest who is protected and sponsored by the shogun, and his official protector, the ninja Hiro, must prove that Mateo's convert to Christianity, the tea house entertainer Sayuri, is innocent of the crime. The son of the dead samurai threatens to kill both Mateo and Sayuri unless another person is found responsible for the murder.

An engrossing mystery in an intriguing historical setting, with likable and well developed main characters, Claws of the Cat is also an entertaining and well researched novel about the samurai, their code of conduct, and their manner of fighting. I recommend the book for those who enjoy a good mystery and are curious about the old samurai culture of Japan.

Thanks to the author for a complimentary review copy of this book. The next in the series, Blade of the Samurai, was published July 15, 2014. Here is my review.

Jul 17, 2014

Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

Desire Lines
Christina Baker Kline is the author of the bestselling Orphan Train. The paperback of Desire Lines will be out August 12, 2014. It was first published in hardcover in 1998.
"Desire Lines is that best possible literary mystery: a complex, superbly subtle novel with a tight plot that keeps one guessing right up until the end." - Anita Shreve
Publisher description:
On the night of her high school graduation, Kathryn Campbell sits around a bonfire with her four closest friends, including the beautiful but erratic Jennifer. "I'll be fine," Jennifer says, as she walks away from the dying embers and towards the darkness of the woods. She never comes back.

Ten years later, Kathryn has tried to build a life for herself, with a marriage and a career as a journalist, but she still feels the conspicuous void of Jennifer's disappearance. When her divorce sends her reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, she finds herself plunged into a sea of memories. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to answer one simple question: What happened to Jennifer Pelletier?

Sounds pretty suspenseful. What do you think?

Jul 15, 2014

Book Review: The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nikolits

The Witchdoctor's Bones by Lisa de Nikolits
Published May 21, 2014 by Inanna Publications.
Genre: fiction
Objective rating: 4 out of 5 points.
The sangoma," Jono said,"or the witch-finder, is the one who sniffs out the witches. Sangoma is a Zulu word for the traditional healer and he or she will be invited to cleanse an entire village of witchcraft..." (p. 68)
Background: A group of tourists in South Africa travel by bus with a tour guide and a cook, setting out on a long trek, camping and sightseeing, starting from Cape Town in South Africa and heading north into the desert and jungles of Namibia. Jono the driver and Treasure the cook are in charge of the tour group made up of mainly Americans and Canadians from various backgrounds - some traveling as singles, others as couples.

About the group: The tourists are a mixed bunch of personalities. We learn right off which ones are average travelers and which are secretive, obsessive compulsive, and even mentally ill. The main character is a young Canadian woman Kate, who is on the African trip to get over a broken romance with a boyfriend back home. She teams up with Marika as her tent mate and quietly observes all the members of the group. They are such a varied group but they all try to put up with each other's foibles and quirky behavior.

The main action: One of the tour members dies, others are injured, some leave the tour on their own, and another tour member is killed in what seems like an accident. Kate decides to stick with the tour even as others leave. Jono the driver and tour guide swears this is the last time he will take tourists on this particular trip.

What I got from the book: I learned about the Bushmen tribe, about some African folk beliefs and mythologies. I found out more about local witchcraft and the local beliefs in the power of the supernatural. I saw vicariously a part of South Africa and some of the tourist sights and places to see wild animals in Namibia, and also learned about the dangers of the land - poisonous plants being one of them. I liked that the novel included a map of the places on the tour

This is a tense but interesting story of a group of people stuck together in an unusual situation, on an African tour in this case, some of them having pretty murderous intentions. This is not a beach read. A few of the characters and situations are truly frightening, but then all ends well (as well as can be expected in the situation) in the end. Well told and developed, this is a book for mystery lovers, adventure lovers, and those curious about Africa.

The author: Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits of Canada has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Her novels: The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women's Issues Fiction. West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the IPPY Silver Medal for Popular Fiction, 2014. 
For more reviews of the book, visit Partners in Crime ToursThanks to PIC Tours and the publisher for a review copy.

Jul 13, 2014

Sunday Salon: Books and Hydrangea

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

I missed the super moon last night.. Oak trees right across from us and lining the road always block views of the moon. I caught a glimpse of it through leaves, but would have had to walk or drive somewhere else to see all of it. Maybe next time, in August.

New books include

Margaret Atwood turns to short fiction for the first time since her 2006 collection, Moral Disorder, with nine tales of acute psychological insight and turbulent relationships bringing to mind her award-winning 1996 novel, Alias Grace. (publisher)
Cancel the Wedding follows one woman’s journey to her mother's rural hometown in Georgia  to discover the secrets of her mother’s hidden past—and confront her own uncertain future. (publisher)
Here is a picture of the Lace Top Hydrangea we recently added to the yard.

Jul 10, 2014

Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen

 *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.
Soy Sauce for Beginners
Book beginning:
These are some of my favorite smells: toasting bagel, freshly cut figs, the bergamot in good Earl Grey tea, a jar of whole soybeans slowly turning beneath a tropical sun.
You'd expect the latter to smell salty, meaty, flaccid - like what you'd smell if you unscrewed the red cap of the bottle on a table in your neighborhood Chinese restaurant and stuck your nose in as far as it would go. But real, fermenting soybeans smell nothing like earth, these soybeans smell of history, of life, of tiny, patient movements, unseen by the naked eye.  
Everything about soy sauce I learned from my father and my uncle and my late grandfather. 
page 56:
Singlish, Singapore's unofficial national tongue, combines a singular accent with an idiosyncratic syntax .... Frankie said it was as if the entire region conversed in opera libretti in place of regular speech.... 
Book description: 
Gretchen Lin, adrift at the age of thirty, leaves her floundering marriage in San Francisco to move back to her childhood home in Singapore and immediately finds herself face-to-face with the twin headaches she’s avoided her entire adult life: her mother’s drinking problem and the machinations of her father’s artisanal soy sauce business....Soy Sauce for Beginners reveals one woman’s search for a place to call home, and the art and tradition behind the brewing of an unsung condiment. This is a foodie love story, and (a book about) family loyalty and fresh starts. (goodreads)
Soy Sauce for Beginners, a novel by , published January 7, 2014; New Harvest

Based on the information and the excerpts above, is this a book you would add to your reading list?
Singapore has always intrigued me, so I'd be curious about this one.

Jul 9, 2014

Book Review: Tailing a Tabby by Laurie Cass

Tailing a Tabby
Tailing a Tabby  is the second in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series by Laurie Cass, published July 1, 2014 by Signet. I have not yet read the first, Lending a Paw, but plan to soon.

What's not to love about a bookmobile, a bookmobile driver who lives on a houseboat on a lake, and a friendly cat?

Minnie Hamilton is the librarian in a small lake town in northwest lower Michigan, and Eddie is the cat who showed up one day at her bookmobile and didn't want to leave. Minnie took him in and now he's a vital part of the bookmobile, though Minnie's strict boss at the main library doesn't know about it. The bookmobile patrons love Eddie, however, so he stays.

In Tailing a Tabby, Minnie drives a famous artist, Russell McCade, in the bookmobile to the hospital after he had a sudden stroke. She becomes more involved when this artist she so admires is later discovered at the home of a murdered woman. With Eddie for company, Minnie plans to find the real murderer and save the artist from prosecution for the crime. Along the way, she also has to deal with her cantankerous library boss and a quirky aunt.

The librarian and her cat in the traveling bookmobile stick in your mind and make me eager to read future adventures featuring these two. Humor, a good plot, easy reading, likeable characters, great setting....

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

Jul 7, 2014

Book Review: The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

The Sea Garden
The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson (published June 24, 2014; Harper) is an unusual historical novel and a novel of wartime romance.

The book deals with the French resistance in Provence in WWII and the people who died and who survived it, both those resisting or collaborating with the enemy. The novel is divided into three books - The Sea Garden, The Lavender Field, and A Shadow Life, with the stories linking in the third and final book.

Book I
is set on the island of Porquerolles in the southern French Riviera, present day, where garden designer Ellie Brook travels from England to restore the gardens of an estate owned by Lauren de Fayols and his mother. The gardens overlook a bay and lighthouse through a distinctive topiary arch made of plants and trees, as seen on the book cover. Porquerolles played an important part during the wars, an island of ten forts forming a defense for the southern coast of France.

In this story, Ellie is frightened by the rantings of the matriarch of the estate, Mme. de Fayols, rantings that make no sense to Ellie. The gloom of the house and estate is foreshadowed by the death of a young man on the sea crossing to the island, by Ellie's being clawed by rose thorns on the estate, and her sense of foreboding on seeing the butterfly and moth collection in the house, insects pinned for display.
"Go. Go as soon as you can," Jeanne whispered to Ellie as she passed.
Book II
The Lavender Field, gives us a story of the French resistance in Provence against the Germans and the collaborating Vichy government. The setting is April 1944 in a village where events unfold from the point of view of a blind perfume maker, 19-year-old Marthe Lincel. Marthe comes in contact with Allied soldiers hiding from the Germans and her life is changed by her love for one of them.
"Marthe...dear sweet Marthe, its better you don't know."  
Book III 
A Shadow Life, is set in London in 1943, where Iris Nightingale, an intelligence assistance with the government, helps to send enlisted or drafted secret agents into France in the middle of the war. The question is what happened to some of them who never returned to England. The missing include Xavier Descours, a pilot. This book ties the three books together to give us a fuller picture of how the characters are linked.

My comments:
As an historical novel based on much research, The Sea Garden is very informative about a specific location - Provence during WWII. The story of the French resistance there is compelling as are the efforts of the British to infiltrate wartime France with secret operatives, a dangerous and controversial mission that cost many young people their lives.

The three main characters in the books - Ellie, Marthe, and Iris - take us into the fictional world that buoys up the historical facts and brings them into focus. Very different, these young women are interesting characters in their own way. Ellie keeps you in suspense with her fears and forebodings; Marthe, the blind perfume maker, tugs at your heart strings; and Iris' love story is heart warming.

The descriptions in the novel are delightful to read. The author has a way with words that allows you to see the views as she wants you to. Lovers of France, history, romance, and the scents of lavender will love this book!

Deborah Lawrenson studied English at Cambridge University and worked as a journalist in London. She is married with a daughter and lives in Kent, England. She and her family spend as much time as possible at a crumbling hamlet in Provence, France, the setting for her novel The Lantern and inspiration for The Sea Garden.

See the TLC tour schedule, for other reviews

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of the book. 

Jul 6, 2014

Sunday Salon: Fireworks

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

Taking it easy on the last day of the holiday weekend. Gardening, swimming, cooking, and eating. And of course watched lots of unusual fireworks....on TV. This one reminds me of a giant jellyfish with long glowing tentacles....or hanging chandeliers.

One interesting book came in last week:

by Marie-Helene Bertino.
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. (publisher)
I enjoy books with precocious kids as the main characters. How about you?

Jul 4, 2014

Book Review: Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Mambo in Chinatown
Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok is set in modern day America and has several ethnicities represented in its American story of immigrants old and new.

Book beginning:
My name is Charlie Wong and I'm the daughter of a dancer and a noodle-maker. My mother was once a star ballerina at the famed Beijing Dance Academy before she ran off to marry my father, the handsomest noodle-maker in Beijing - or at least that's what she always called him before she died. Hand in hand, they escaped to America to start their family. 
Page 56:
The dress was quite modest but revealed my neck and collarbones. I understood the moment Pa paused that I'd done wrong.
"Don't you like it?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"You look like a dancing girl," he said.
"Ma was one," Lisa said.
"Your mother was a dancer," he said. 
My comments:

Charlie Wong is American-born Chinese (ABC) and her parents were born in China (FOB - fresh off the boat. Don't you just love these acronyms!).

Charlie breaks out of a Manhattan Chinatown mold and enters the world of dance, a world her mother, a former Beijing Opera dancer, had introduced her to. Charlie meets Caucasians, American Blacks, Hispanics, and international dancers and changes her limited future to one that opens for new opportunities. She also helps her troubled younger sister Lisa to find optimism and her place in American society.

Informative look at some new Americans and some of the difficulties between the modern and the traditional cultures many young American immigrants face. Excellent characterizations and storytelling, Mambo in Chinatown pulls you into the world of a young woman inspired by her mother to make a better life for herself in America.

 *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.

Jul 3, 2014

London's Book Benches

I found out about the book benches of London through a post from Euro Crime which had a picture of a fabulous painted bench.Check it out on her blog.

For more benches, check out Books About Town, which will give you links to the locations and pictures of various literary book benches. Here are a few:

Peter Pan

Sherlock Holmes

Pride and Prejudice

Hercule Poirot and the Green Shore Folly

War Horse
The themes also include children's books.

That's not my meerkat

Go ahead and look at all the London book benches at Books About Town....have fun! Which one would you choose for a seating place while you read?

If you must have one of those benches, they are being auctioned later on, in London!

Jul 2, 2014

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar will be published in paperback August 26, 2014 by Emily Bestler/Atria.
In a remote village in the Suffolk countryside,
"...this gripping psychological thriller follows a young woman who uncovers a terrible secret in her idyllic suburban neighborhood—but who will believe her?"
I have read and reviewed Millar's The Playdate, a light psychological suspense novel about three neighbors, one of whom needs after-school care for a child. I am eager to see what the author has written in this new novel.

What new book release are you waiting for?

Jul 1, 2014

Murder, Simply Stitched by Isabella Alan: First Chapter

Murder, Simply Stitched
Book beginning:
When my mother enrolled me in the Little Miss Texas Butterfly Beauty Pageant at the age of eleven, I don't believe it ever crossed her mind that one day I'd be lying in the dirt with my arms around the neck of a runaway goat. 
Petunia the Nubian goat baaed and kicked at me with her sharp hooves. I shifted my body away from her reach, and one of her long tawny-colored ears smacked me in the face. Two minutes ago when Petunia had raced past me as I made my way to the auction barn, jumping on her back seemed like a fantastic idea. 
From the book description: Angie, owner of an Amish quilt shop, decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction... The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. 

Based on the opening sentences and the book description, would you keep reading?

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