Apr 30, 2015

Book Beginning: The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Paperback published May 12, 2015; St. Martin's Griffin
Hardcover first published in 1987
Genre: fiction

Book description: 
Penelope Keeling's prized possession is The Shell Seekers, painted by her father, and symbolizing her unconventional life, from bohemian childhood to wartime romance. When her grown children learn their grandfather's work is now worth a fortune, each has an idea as to what Penelope should do. But as she recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life, she knows there is only one answer...and it lies in her heart. (publisher)
Book beginning: The taxi, an old Rover smelling of  old cigarette smoke, trundled along the empty country road at an unhurried pace. It was early afternoon at the very end of February, a magic winter day of bitter cold, frost, and pale, cloudless skies. The sun shone, sending long shadows, but there was little warmth in it, and the ploughed fields lay hard as iron. From the chimneys of scattered farmhouses and small stone cottages, smoke rose, straight as columns, up into the still air, and flocks of sheep, heavy with wool and incipient pregnancy, gathered around feeding troughs, stuffed with fresh hay.  
Sitting in the back of the taxi, gazing through the dusty window, Penelope Keeling decided that she had never seen the familiar countryside look so beautiful.  
page 56:
"It's just that...this is the sort of place where I think I could stay. I wouldn't feel trapped or rooted here. I don't know why." She smiled at him. "I don't know why."
 This book was first published in 1987 and has been a bestseller since then. I have never read it but have heard about it, and now have the chance to read the new paperback edition to be published in May, Thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

The Friday 56: *Grab a 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 Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Apr 27, 2015

Memoir: FINDING SAMUEL LOWE by Paula Williams Madison

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.

A friend sent this book to me and I'm so glad she did. It was a terrific and inspirational read, about a woman's determination to find her mother Nell's paternal family, a family her mother had lost contact with at age 3, when she was separated from her Chinese father, Samuel Lowe, and hidden away in the countryside by her Jamaican mother, Albertha. Years later, Nell's daughter. Paula Williams Madison has traced her mother's family lineage to a village in Guangdong, China and found relatives she never knew she had.  

Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem by 
Published April 14, 2015; Amistad Press
Genre: memoir
Rating: 5/5

First chapter, first paragraph:
He gave me one of his serious, twenty-four karat, all-Roosevelt looks. "Baby," he asked, "do you know you're Black?"I looked at him, puzzled and defensive. "Yes, I know I am Black." He looked a little hesitant, as if he were afraid to say any more, afraid to make the next point. He was worried about the unknowns. He worried that I might indeed find this family of mine, of Samuel Lowe's - find whomever might still exist. 
Teaser: (page 174)
In a few weeks, my world had been expanded by another continent - a huge continent where one corner houses my family. I have a place, a village, elders, cousins. They know me and they know my name....
I am Hakka.
I am Lowe Ding Chow's granddaughter.
I am Nell Vera Lowe's only daughter.
I am a Lowe.   
My comments: Very impressive research went into this memoir about a woman's determination and success in finding and reuniting with her mother's paternal side of the family in Jamaica, the U.S., and in China. Moving and inspirational, it's a must read for all who value the importance of family, tradition, and culture. I admired the author's frankness and her sharing her family's complex history. 

Book descriptionSpanning four generations and moving between New York, Jamaica, and China, a powerful memoir that is a universal story of one woman's search for her maternal grandfather and the key to her self-identity. Finding Samuel Lowe includes a 16-page black-and-white photo insert and photos in the text. (publisher)

The author, Paula Williams Madison, and her husband Roosevelt Madison, live in Los Angeles. 

Apr 25, 2015

Sunday Salon: Awkward Silences

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit Mailbox Monday 

A memoir and a mystery that came in the mail: 
A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri
To be released June 2, 2015; NAL
Genre: memoir, humor

But Petri is here to tell you: Everything you fear is not so bad. Trust her. She’s tried it. And in the course of her misadventures, she’s learned that there are worse things out there than awkwardness—and that interesting things start to happen when you stop caring what people think. (publisher)
Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark
Published April 28, 2015; Simon and Schuster
Genre: short stories, mystery
A collection of short stories from the “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark, including the never-before-published novella Death Wears a Beauty Mask.

Finished reading:

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain was a terrific read.  I gave this five stars for writing, characters, historical research. Book review to come in July; published July 28, 23015 by Ballantine Books. Genre: historical fiction set in Kenya, 1920s

Currently reading:

Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem by 

What's new on your reading shelf?

Saturday Snapshot: Mourning Doves

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy.

Photo © Harvee Lau

Two mourning doves doing their morning grooming, their heads under their feathers....

Apr 24, 2015

Book Beginning: Ming Tea Murder by Laura Childs

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.
Ming Tea Murder by Laura Childs
To be released May 5, 2015; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

Book beginning, first paragraph:
With drums banging and the sweet notes of a Chinese violin trembling in the air, the enormous red-and-gold dragon shook its great head and danced its way across the rotunda of the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the opening-night celebration for the reconstruction of a genuine eighteenth century Chinese tea house, and the creme de la creme of society had turned out in full force for this most auspicious occasion. 
Page 56:
"Which means, now that Webster is dead, Cecily really isn't obligated to pay the money back."
"That's right," said Greaves. "She's free and clear."
Maybe not that free and clear after all, Theodosia thought as she walked to her car.
Book description:
Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning normally wouldn’t attend a black tie affair. But she can hardly say no to her boyfriend, Max, who has organized a gala opening for an exhibit of a genuine eighteenth century Chinese teahouse, and the crème de la crème of Charleston society is invited.
But Theodosia makes a grim discovery: the body of museum donor Edgar Webster. This case is difficult to ignore—especially after Max becomes a suspect. 

I love this series and can't wait to read this one. 
Thanks to the publisher for a review/feature copy of the book.

Apr 22, 2015

Apr 21, 2015

First Chapter: Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson
To be published May 5, 2015; Berkley
Genre: mystery

First paragraph, first chapter:
"Charles Oakes is dead."
Sarah looked up at her mother in surprise. They were sitting at her kitchen table, and Sarah had spent the last half hour bringing her mother up to date on the arrangements she and her fiance, Frank Malloy, had decided upon for their wedding and their future life. She hadn't expected to hear about a death. "Is Charles the son? The one who was a few years older than I?"
"Sadly, yes."
Book description:
Midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy investigate foul play in the secretive high-society world of nineteenth-century New York City… Sarah and Frank soon learn that not everyone wants to know more about Charles’s death, particularly if he was murdered. As they unravel secrets that reach back to the War Between the States, they also discover that they are in the company of a very present danger…

So, would you read on? 

Apr 18, 2015

Sunday Salon: Mystery and Romance

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit Mailbox Monday and A Daily Rhythm for Blue Mondays Musings.

I'm reading and enjoying the first in a new mystery series:
Fillet of Murder: A Deep Fried Mystery by Linda Reilly, to be released May 5, 2015; Berkley
After leaving a miserable job and an even worse boyfriend, Talia Marby returned to her hometown in the Berkshires and is happy to help her dear friend Bea Lambert by working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, a cornerstone of a charming shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.

When Talia and Bea stumble upon a murder, the police suspect Bea. Talia fishes around for clues to hook the real killer before her friend has to trade serving food for serving time…(publisher)

I am also reading 

Girl in the Moonlight by Charles Dubow, a contemporary novel about a young man and his obsession over time with a tantalizing girl who refuses to commit to a relationship with any of her lovers. I am in the middle of it and can't wait to see how it ends.

Got a new book in the mail by Janet Evanovich:
The Sweet Spot by Janet Evanovich, paperback edition to be released April 26, 2015 by Avon Books. When pro baseball player Chase Walker first meets Amanda at her restaurant, it's love at first sight. While Amanda can't help noticing the superstar with the Greek-god-build, he doesn't have a chance of getting to first--or any other--base with her. A successful entrepreneur who's built her business from scratch, Amanda doesn't need a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. And a curvy girl who likes to cook and eat isn't interested in being around the catty, stick-thin herd of females chasing Chase and his teammates. (publisher)

What's on your book desk this week? 

For Birders in the Great Lakes Area: A Pocket Guide

Great Lakes Birds

A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

Author: James Kavanagh
Illustrations: Raymond Leung

The Great Lakes watershed is the permanent or migratory home of over 450 species of birds, including the iconic common loon, whose haunting call can be heard at night throughout the region. This beautifully illustrated guide highlights over 140 familiar and unique species and includes a map featuring prominent bird-viewing areas. Laminated for durability, this lightweight, pocket-sized folding guide is an excellent source of portable information and ideal for field use by visitors and residents alike
Waterford Press produces simplified guides to nature, science, travel and languages. The company's 500+ titles have sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
Availability: In Stock
$6.95 USD

I bought this one page folded and laminated guide recently at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio and find it very helpful to ID some birds that are plentiful in this area: the guide helped me name the Canada Goose, the Great Egret, and the House Sparrow, which I couldn't identify before from among the many other sparrows in the backyard. International Migratory Birding Day is coming up soon early May and the warblers who come through this area are also listed in the guide. Get out the binoculars!

Apr 17, 2015

Book Beginning: Mr Monk and the New Lieutenant by Hy Conrad

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.
Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant by Hy Conrad
Published January 6, 2015; NAL; paperback to be published May 5, 2015
Genre: mystery
Book beginning, first paragraph: 
I have made a slow, sad discovery over the past few months. Brace yourself. You might not want to hear this. Office work is boring.
Okay, maybe that wasn't a shock. But when you fantasize about being a private eye, when you work and plan and visualize yourself opening a real business with real clients walking through the door with exciting, life-and-death problems to solve...Well, let's just say there are a lot of hours in the workday. 
Page 56: 
It was kind of a nonevent, to be honest, and probably the easiest tail job I've ever done. 
Book description:
Monk and Natalie have finally settled into a new office routine. But the detectives soon have a more serious conflict to deal with: Captain Stottlemeyer’s new lieutenant, A.J. Cartledge—a man of limited skills whom Monk finds insufferable.
Monk and Natalie attend the funeral of Judge Oberlin, and it’s a good thing. In typical fashion, Monk examines the body in the casket—and finds evidence of poison. The judge was murdered.

What do you think of this, the 19th in the Adrian Monk series? My hubby is a great fan of  Mr. Monk!

Apr 14, 2015

Lemon Pies and Little White Lies by Ellery Adams

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.

Lemon Pies and Little White Lies by Ellery Adams
Published April 7, 2015; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery
First paragraph:Ella Mae pressed chocolate cookie crumbs into the bottom of a springform pan with deft, quick motions. She then moved to her commercial stovetop and gave the marshmallow creme simmering in the sauce pan a gentle stir. Satisfied, she turned the burner off and set the saucepan in a stainless steel bowl filled with ice. When the marshmallow creme was sufficiently cooled, Ella Mae reached for the liqueur bottles on the worktable and poured small amounts of creme de menthe and white creme do cacao into the fluffy mixture...
Book description:
Ella Mae LeFaye’s Charmed Pie Shoppe has become a phenomenon beyond her wildest dreams, providing the enchanted town of Havenwood, Georgia, with spellbinding desserts and magical pies. Her personal life is also heating up as she takes on the responsibilities of leadership within her magical community. In fact, the only thing weighing her down is the fact that handsome Hugh Dylan won’t return her calls…

Still, when Havenwood is rocked by a series of mysterious deaths, Ella Mae must put romantic longings aside—especially when she realizes that the mystical symbols left at each crime scene are dangerously personal. Now she will have to whip up all her supernatural skills to uncover a killer out to settle an ancient score—before the murderer devastates everything Ella Mae is determined to protect.

My comments: A lovely cozy for those who like the magical and supernatural in their mysteries. Ella Mae can mix enchantment into her pies, and that doesn't mean just taste. And you can also pinch her for her luck or magic to rub off on you.

I like my stories more realistic but I know a lot of readers are spellbound and delighted with this theme. This is the fourth in the Charmed Pie series.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. 

Apr 12, 2015

Sunday Salon: Books Bought, Not Borrowed

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit Mailbox Monday and A Daily Rhythm for Blue Mondays Musings.

I couldn't wait for a library copy of The GoldfinchA Spool of Blue Thread, and The Girl on the Train so I went out and bought and read them right away in the last couple of months. I was not disappointed. My most recent purchase is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doers; the waiting list at the library was well over 100! These days I want to read not just for a good plot but for good or excellent writing! 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doers
Published May 6, 2014; Scribner

From the publishers came a few intriguing books:
and an ARC described as a "sexy international scandal" of a book:
New May cozies include

I just love the cover of this one, don't you? 

What's new on your bookshelf this week? 

Apr 9, 2015

Book Review: Grave on Grand Avenue by Naomi Hirahara

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.
Grave on Grand Avenue: An Officer Ellie Rush Mystery by Naomi Hirahara
Published April 7, 2015; Berkley
Book beginning: 
The Green Mile is gone. Not everyone will be bummed about it. After all, it's a green boat-sized 1960 Buick Skylark, no air bags and only twelve miles to a gallon. My best friend, Nay Pram, call it sick, but not the good kind of sick. She means puke, or at least its color. But I'm devastated. There is something about that car I love. The Green Mile makes a statement. A statement that I'm not your average LA girl. Or your average cop. 
 page 56:
Cece is speaking loudly in what sounds like Chinese to someone obscured by a parking column. I must have been spotted, because she immediately lowers her voice.
Ellie Rush, an LAPD bicycle cop, has a lot to handle all at once. She discovers a friendly gardener has been pushed down stairs to his death near the Walt Disney Concert Hall. She tries to discover what the father of a famous Chinese cellist has to do, if anything, with this death. At the same time, she is regretting the theft of her favorite though old green car, the Green Mile, and the appearance of a Portuguese man who looks like a derelict but claims to be her long lost grandfather.

On both the professional and family fronts, we follow Ellie trying to piece and hold things together at the same time. I enjoyed learning about the various ethnic peoples and neighborhoods in Los Angeles and their interactions with each other. This series does a good job of putting you right into the center of things.

There are two story lines at the same time but this only helps to add interest to the book as a whole. An enjoyable read for those who know and those who are curious about the inner city of LA! Ellis Rush, the main character, is a bit of a hothead and reacts strongly to situations at times, but that makes her even more of a realistic and likable character.

Objective rating: 4/5

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

Apr 7, 2015

Book Review/Tour: BITTERSWEET by Susan Wittig Albert

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.
Bittersweet: China Bayles #23 by Susan Wittig Albert
Published April 7, 2015; Berkley
Genre: mystery

First paragraph:
The blue and white Cessna 172 dropped out of the gray November sky. The pilot banked sharply, slowing to eighty knots, then turned on the carburetor heat and powered back to 1500 rpm. When he made the field, he extended another ten degrees of flaps, dropped his airspeed to seventy, and corrected for the crosswind that blew off the cliff to the west. He powered back, leveled off, and touched down at the end of the grassy north-south strip  The landing was bumpy but no rougher than usual...
Book description:
It’s Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China Bayles is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother’s husband, Sam, who are turning their former game ranch into a vacation retreat for birders. But Leatha calls with bad news: Sam has had a heart attack.

How will Leatha manage if Sam can’t carry his share? She does have a helper, Sue Ellen Krause. But China discovers that Sue Ellen, who is in the process of leaving her marriage to the assistant foreman at a large trophy game ranch, is in some serious trouble. Before Sue Ellen can tell her full story, her car veers off a deserted road and she is killed.

Meanwhile, when a local veterinarian is shot, China's friend Mack Chambers believes his murder could be related to fawns stolen from a nearby ranch. China wonders if Sue Ellen’s death may not have been an accident, and if there’s a connection to the stolen animals. But their search for the truth may put their own lives in danger…

My comments and recommendations: 
The only part of Texas I have ever visited is Brownsville on the border with Mexico, so it was very interesting to read more about that state in this novel, Bittersweet. The birding is glorious, but also interesting are other events, such as the craze for game hunting on special ranches that import and breed deer for this sport.

More than invasive species of plants is at stake here. Deer and fawn are being imported from other states, which is illegal. A fascinating story and an equally fascinating mystery that is tied in to game hunting in Texas. I assume that this importing and breeding of deer is factual and incorporated into the mystery. A great read on many levels.

Objective rating: 5/5

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

First Chapter: AN UNCOMPLICATED LIFE by Paul Daugherty

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.
An Uncomplicated Life: A Father's Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter by Paul Daugherty
Published March 17, 2015; William Morrow

First paragraph:
"I wide bike."
This is a story about a dream and a child and the progress of each. It starts on our driveway in early spring. Jillian Daugherty straddles a comically tiny two-wheeler that, against considerable odds and long-held perceptions, she intends to ride. She is 12 years old and prone to doing what all kids do. She's going to try to ride it. 
Book description:
A father's exhilarating and funny love letter to his daughter with Down syndrome whose vibrant and infectious approach to life has something to teach all of us about how we can better live our own.

Would you continue reading based on the opening paragraph and the book description?

Apr 5, 2015

Mailbox Monday: Mixed Genres

Visit Mailbox Monday to see what books bloggers are featuring.

Thanks to the publishers for the following books and ARCs for review: 

Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson; publication May 5, 2015

Second Chance Friends by Jennifer Scott; publication May 5, 2015

An Uncomplicated Life by Paul Daugherty; publication March 17, 2015

When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi; publication July 21, 2015

In the Dark Places by Peter Robinson; publication August 11, 2015

Losing Faith by Adam Mitzner; publication April 14, 2015

Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper; publication May 19, 2015

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain; publication July 28, 2015

What's new in your mailbox?

Currently reading:
Rock With Wings by Anne Hillerman, publication date May 5, 2015; Harper

Easter Sunday!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon!

photo by Harvee Lau
I'm reposting a photo from last year, April 20, 2014, the day on which Easter Sunday fell.
By that time, the daffodils had sprung up and shown their yellow heads.
This year, April 5, they are still hibernating.

The cottontail rabbits have been running around the lawns, however, the only sign of spring apart from my valiant purple crocus.

Happy Easter! Enjoy spring colors wherever you are!
If you celebrate Passover, happy celebrations as well!

Apr 4, 2015

Saturday Snapshot: Crocus

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy.

Out of the detritus of winter
A sign of new life 
Tentative, but sure.
Bright green, a hint of violet,
a new bloom.

- Harvee 

Voices of the Old and the New: Corky Lee and Julia Alvarez

  NEW RELEASES Corky Lee's Asian America Fifty Years of Photographic Justice by  Corky Lee Publication April 9, 2024; Clarkson Potter/Te...