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?

Nov 24, 2014

Book Review: The Demon Who Peddled Longing by Khanh Ha

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
Opening sentences: Sometime in the night, the woman woke. The wind had died down and the rain had stopped and now she could hear something bang against the piles of the house. Sitting up in her cot, she listened.
Nineteen-year-old Nam of Vietnam, in the Plain of Reeds, takes a long journey after he is left homeless and without family when his uncle's fishing boat sinks in an accident, killing all the others on board. Nam finds employment with two different women in the flooded plain, fishing for them to earn his keep. He moves on to the coast and the seaside, in a determined quest to find the two brothers who had assaulted and murdered his cousin, his first love. His memory of his cousin drives him to try to exact revenge.

Lyrically descriptive, the book takes you to an unfamiliar land that gradually becomes more and more real. I was fascinated not only by the flooded plain of reeds, the taxing lives of the river fishermen, the intriguing preparation of fish and food, but also by the religious beliefs and the beliefs in spirits and ghosts.

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.

I enjoyed the writing, the plot, characterizations, and the cultural context. I heartily recommend The Demon Who Peddled Longing for its insight into character as well as for its fascinating story and setting.

Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (2012, Black Heron Press) and The Demon Who Peddled Longing (November 2014, Underground Voices). He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and the recipient of Greensboro Review’s 2014 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. His work has appeared in Waccamaw Journal, storySouth, Greensboro Review, Saint Ann’s Review, Permafrost Magazine, Tayo Literary Magazine, Printer's Devil Review, Mount Hope, Thrice Fiction, and other fine magazines. Visit him at 
twitter username
Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours and the author for a review galley of this book. See more reviews and the tour schedule. 

Nov 23, 2014

Sunday Salon: Reading on a Rainy Day

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.Tynga of Team Tynga's Reviews has a meme, Stacking the Shelves, to spotlight the books we receive each week.

It's cold, wet, and gloomy outdoors today as it has been the past few days and will be for some days to come. Luckily we have the LED Daylight bulbs that bring sunlight into the house, so we can pretend it's summer. The light is artificial, but it mimics the brightness of the sun and it's also energy efficient, so that's fine. No chance of SAD this winter, we hope.

My books for the week:

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by 
An internationally respected neurologist offers a revolutionary look at the brains of adolescents, providing surprising insights--including why smart kids often do stupid things--and practical advice for adults and teens.

Cane and Abe by James Grippando
An explosive psychological thriller from New York Times bestselling author James Grippando in which Miami’s top prosecutor becomes a prime suspect when his wife’s disappearance may have a chilling connection to the vicious murders of beautiful women in the Florida Everglades.

Once Upon a Grind: Coffeehouse Mystery #14 by Cleo Coyle
When coffeehouse manager turned amateur sleuth Clare Cosi roasts "magic” beans for Fairy Tale Week, she brews up a vision that leads to a sleeping beauty in Central Park; a big, bad wolf of Wall Street; and an East Side enclave with storybook secrets..

Suspicion at Seven: Lois Meade Mystery#14 by Anne Purser
Lois Meade has done enough buffing and polishing over the years with her cleaning business, New Brooms, to know that all that glitters is not gold. So when a bag of costume jewellery is the main clue in a murder, she has a strong suspicion that appearances may be deceiving… 

Three mystery novels and a nonfiction book.   What are you reading these days? 

Nov 21, 2014

Book Review: Her: A Novel by Harriet Lane

Her: A Novel
Title: Her: A Novel by Harriet Lane
To be published January 6, 2015; Little, Brown and Company
Genre: fiction, suspense
Rating: 5/5

Emma and Nina met years ago when they were teenagers, but they never became friends. Emma, now married and pregnant with a toddler and a baby, is courted in seeming friendship by Nina, who does remember Emma from those long ago days. Nina offers help to the overwhelmed Emma, with some babysitting and even offering Emma and her family her father's French villa for two weeks in the summer.

But Nina doesn't tell Emma that they knew each other years ago. This keeps you on the edge wondering what Nina is up to with her secrecy, her spying on Emma, and her little sabotages of Emma's life.

Enticing but subtle plot, lyrical descriptions of surroundings and place, and two intriguing women whose characters and personalities are the opposite but whose "friendship" kept me on edge with anticipation.

Thanks to the publisher for an early read of the ebook proof.

Book Beginnings: A Dog Gone Murder by Elaine Viets

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.

A Dog Gone Murder
Book beginning:
"A dog can't talk," Amelia Marcus said. Her tween scorn should have melted the TV set.
"Sure he can," Josie Marcus said. "As soon as Uncle Bob shuts up, you'll hear him."
Page 56:
"I trust you and Palmer," she said. "I know you'll pick a good dress."
Book description:

New in the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series, from the Agatha and Anthony Award-winning author of the Dead End Job Mystery series.

Mystery shopper Josie Marcus is getting the dirt on doggy day-care centers, and discovers that one dog-loving local celebrity is really bad to the bone. Josie has been asked to investigate Uncle Bob’s Doggy Day Camp, known for its commercials featuring Uncle Bob liking dogs so much that he acts like one. But Josie soon learns how Uncle Bob acts when the cameras are off. Her mother’s new tenant, Franklin, who works for Uncle Bob, plans to quit after seeing the man’s true nature. But before he gets the chance, Bob is murdered, and Franklin goes from the doghouse to the big house.

Now it’s up to Josie to clear Franklin’s name. Her investigation reveals that Bob was more of a dog than anyone knew—and had been kicked out of his house for bad behavior. As she digs up new clues, Josie will have to catch the killer quickly, before any more trouble is unleashed. (goodreads)

Have you read any in this series?

Nov 19, 2014

Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jill at Breaking the Spine. What new releases are you eagerly waiting for. Link your post to Breaking the Spine.
Scorched Eggs
Opening sentence: Suzanne didn't know how she felt about Blond Bombshell No. 4 as a hair color, but she was about to find out. 
Title: Scorched Eggs (Cackleberry Club #6) by Laura Childs
Expected publication: December 2, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

Book description:
Suzanne, Petra, and Toni—co-owners of the Cackleberry Club CafĂ©—are equally good at serving up breakfast and justice. As Suzanne is getting her hair colored at Root 66, she witnesses the County Services office next door suddenly go up in flames. The fire department does their best. Unfortunately, their best isn’t enough to save longtime civil service worker—and friend to the Cackleberry Club—Hannah Venable.

Soon it’s discovered someone set the fire on purpose. When Suzanne finds a possible connection between the fire and the nearby Prairie Star Casino, she realizes the arsonist wanted something very big and bad kept secret. (publisher)

What new release are you waiting for?

Nov 18, 2014

The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark

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.

The Cinderella Murder (Under Suspicion #1) by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke

First paragraph, first chapter:
It was two o'clock in the morning. Right on time, Rosemary Dempsey thought ruefully as she opened her eyes and stirred. Whenever she had a big day ahead she would inevitably wake up in the middle of the night and start worrying that something would go wrong. 
It had always been like this, even when she was a child, and now, fifty-five years old, happily married for thirty-two years, with one child, beautiful and gifted nineteen-year-old Susan, Rosemary could not be anything but a constant worrier, a living Cassandra. Something is going to go wrong. 
Publisher description:

Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. The program is a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected. It helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode. Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode of Under Suspicion: the Cinderella Murder.

When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen - but is Cinderella's murderer ready for a close-up?

Are you a Mary Higgins Clark fan? Are you ready for her new mystery? 
Released today by Simon and Schuster, who provided a copy for review/feature. 

Nov 17, 2014

A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle

Visit It's Monday: What Are You Reading hosted by Book Journey
A High-End Finish
Title: A High-End Finish;A Fixer Upper Mystery by Kate Carlisle
Published November 4, 2014: Signet
Genre: cozy mystery

Opening sentence: "You could have warned me that installing drywall would be hell on my manicure."

"In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed....

 Shannon’s home-renovation and repair business is booming, but her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on. Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry’s found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she’s been hired to restore, the town’s attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.

Determined to clear her name, Shannon conducts her own investigation—with the help of her four best friends, her eccentric father, a nosy neighbor or two, and a handsome crime writer who’s just moved to town. But as they get closer to prying out the murderer’s identity, Shannon is viciously attacked. Now she’ll have to nail down the truth—or end up in permanent foreclosure.…"(publisher description)

This is the first in a new cozy mystery series. Thanks to the publisher for a review/feature copy.
What are you reading this week?  

Nov 9, 2014

Sunday Salon: Library Books and a Review

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

Busy, busy Sunday. A quick post.....Reading is a great relief, respite. Thank heavens for the library!

Just finished another great read by Louise Penny that kept me up late into the night and had me finishing up early this morning! Took a few days to finish it in between my chores! Interestingly, it has a few elements of magic and the mystical, which added more intrigue to the crime novel, which it basically is. The 10th in the mystery series.

The Long Way Home
One of the books I got at the library, I have another to read that will be lighter reading and getting ready for the Christmas mood.

The Nightingale Before Christmas
I enjoy humorous mystery novels too, and Donna Andrews writes these!

In my mailbox last week?

The Cinderella Murder

I Take You
I read this ARC, I Take You, as soon as I got it from the publisher.

My comments:Outrageous, funny, very entertaining women's fiction. I might add that some scenes are over the top, but I didn't seem to mind.

What books are on your reading shelf this week?

Nov 6, 2014

Book Spotlight: Cash Kills by Nanci Rathbun

Title: Cash Kills: An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery #2 by Nanci Rathbun

Published June 3, 2014; Cozy Cat Press

Book description:

When her office mate, accountant Susan Neh, brings Angelina Bonaparte a client named Adriana Johnson, the PI wonders how she can help this bedraggled young woman. Adriana’s parents, immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, were murdered only a week earlier, in a robbery at their small hardware store. Now she has discovered that, despite living like the working poor, they were actually quite wealthy––with numerous large bank accounts located around the world. Adriana is suspicious about her newfound status and hires Angie to discover the nature of her deceased parents’ wealth. When Angie arrives to interview with the parents’ attorney, Herman Petrovitch, he is missing, but his secretary Dragana is there––lying dead on the office floor, with her head blown off. Homicide detective––and Angie’s own boyfriend––Ted Wukowski, cautions her against getting involved in the murder investigation. Of course, Angie pays little heed to his warning. 

Angie realizes immediately that Adriana’s concerns about her parents’ money are probably well- founded and, even worse, that the young woman may be in great danger herself. She secures the assistance of her father’s rotund attorney, Bart Matthews, who quickly arranges for protection for Angie’s young client, while Angie begins to look into Adriana’s parents’ background. In their family home, she discovers some strange artifacts in the attic, along with what appear to be Serbian military uniforms and an ethnic wedding dress. Her investigation soon leads her to suspect a connection between Adriana’s parents, Attorney Petrovitch, and the Bosnian War of the 1980s. How or why are they linked? Angie doesn’t know, but she’s as determined to find out as others are determined to prevent her from doing so. So she’d better watch her back, because someone knows about the money in those bank accounts and they don’t intend to let Adriana inherit it. 

About the author:

Nanci Rathbun is a lifelong reader of mysteries – historical, contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, hard-boiled, cozy … you can find them all on her bookshelves.  She brings logic and planning to her writing from a background as an IT project manager, and attention to characters and dialog from her second career as a Congregationalist minister. Her first novel, Truth Kills: An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery, is out in both paperback and ebook formats. The first chapter is available free on her web site and on her Goodreads page. Cash Kills is the second book in the series. Number three has a working title of Deception Kills, with plans to publish in 2015.

Nanci is a longtime Wisconsin resident who relocated to Tennessee to be closer to her granddaughters – oh, and their parents – and is planning an upcoming move to the West Coast for the same reason. No matter where she lives, she will always be a Packers fan.

Visit her web page: She loves to hear from readers.  Contact her at: Facebook: Author Nanci Rathbun   Twitter: @nancirathbun   Email:

Nov 4, 2014

Book Review: The Spoils of Avalon by Mary F. Burns

The Spoils of Avalon
Title: The Spoils of Avalon: A John Singer Sargent/Violet Paget Mystery (Book One)
Author: Mary F Burns
Published November 1, 2014; Sand Hill Review Press
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Mystery

My comments: This novel is set in two time periods - Victorian England and the 16th century in Glastonbury, England. It is an interesting blend of history, myth, and legend involving the history of the dissolution of the Catholic monasteries in England by Henry VIII after the Reformation in the 16th century, and the ancient myth and legend of King Arthur and the Isle of Avalon. 

It's also a mystery novel as writer Violet Paget and the painter John Singer Sargent investigate the death of a clergyman friend of Paget's who had sent her a book on the Abbey of Glastonbury. Legend has it that ancient church relics and treasures had been hidden in the abbey during the 16th century, and Paget guesses that the book has clues to elucidate the past. 

Atmospheric settings and intriguing historical facts are woven into this impressive novel. I recommend it for English history buffs and mystery lovers both. The main characters, Paget and Singer Sargent, are an unlikely pair for sleuths but this works well as the book is also set in Victorian England.

My objective rating: 4/5

Publisher description: 

The Spoils of Avalon introduces two unlikely detectives and life-long friends: the brilliant Violet Paget, known as the writer Vernon Lee, and the talented portrait painter John Singer Sargent.

The death of a humble clergyman in 1877 leads Paget and Singer Sargent into a medieval world of saints and kings—including the legendary Arthur—as they follow a trail of relics and antiquities lost since the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. Written in alternating chapters between the two time periods, The Spoils of Avalon bridges the gap between the industrialized Victorian Age and the faith-infused life of a medieval abbey on the brink of violent change at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell.

Paget and Sargent were possessed of keen minds and bohemian tendencies, unorthodox educations and outsized egos. Henry James once described Violet Paget as having “the most formidable mind” of their times, and he was an active fan and patron of John Sargent, introducing him to London society and his own inner circles of literary and artistic genius.

About the author: 
Mary F. Burns is the author of PORTRAITS OF AN ARTIST (Sand Hill Review Press, February 2013), and a novella-length book, ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, being published in 2014. Ms. Burns’ debut historical novel J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE was published in July 2010. She has also written two cozy-village mysteries in a series titled The West Portal Mysteries (The Lucky Dog Lottery and The Tarot Card Murders).

Ms. Burns attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and has a law degree from Golden Gate University. She was employed as a director of employee communications, public relations and issues management at various San Francisco Bay Area corporations, was an editor and manager of the Books on Tape department for Ignatius Press, and has managed her own communications/PR consulting business.

Visit her website or on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads

Visit the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for the tour schedule and other reviews.
Thanks to the author for an advance review copy of the novel. 

Nov 2, 2014

Sunday Salon: Two Mysteries and an Adventure: Women's Fiction

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

What's with the mail these days, delivering a plastic-lined brown envelope that has been ripped, and the books falling out? Was there a book missing? In any case, I was glad to get these two AREs that made it, from the publishers.

One Step Too Far
No one has ever guessed Emily's secret. Will you? A happy marriage. A beautiful family. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life--to start again as someone new?

 Now, Emily has become Cat, working at a hip advertising agency in London and living on the edge with her inseparable new friend, Angel. Cat's buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can't bury the past--or her own memories. And soon, she'll have to face the truth of what she's done--a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far. . . .( goodreads)

The Pocket Wife
A woman suffering from bipolar disorder cannot remember if she murdered her friend during a breakdown. Dana Catrell is horrified to learn she was the last person to see her neighbor Celia alive. Suffering from a devastating mania, a result of her bipolar disorder, Dana finds that there are troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia's death. As evidence starts to point in her direction, Dana struggles to clear her name before her own demons win out. (goodreads)

And an advance uncorrected proof from the author for review: 
Secret of a Thousand Beauties
1930s China. Mingmei Yip explores one woman's defiant pursuit of independence. Spring Swallow was promised in marriage from before her birth. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow is ordered to become a ghost bride to appease his spirit. Under her in-laws' protection, she will be little more than a servant, unable to know real love or bear children.

Spring Swallow flees on her wedding day. She joins a community of renowned embroiderers led by Aunty Peony, and becomes entangled in each woman's story of heartbreak, while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary.

On a journey from the hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on secret techniques learned from Aunty Peony and her own strength to forge a life that is truly her own. (goodreads)

What's on your reading list this week? 

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month: Four Novels

For  Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month   (May),  I'm posting my book reviews by several Asian American novelists. The f...