Jul 31, 2015

Book Beginning: Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt

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
Rainy Day Sisters: A Hartley-by-the-Sea Novel by Kate Hewitt, to be released August 4, 2015 by NAL
"Welcome to Hartley-by-the-Sea in England’s beautiful Lake District, where two sisters who meet as strangers find small miracles tucked into the corners of every day...."

Book beginning:
Lucy Bagshaw's half sister, Juliet, had warned her about the weather. "When the sun is shining, it's lovely, but otherwise it's wet, windy, and cold," she'd stated in her stern, matter-of-fact way. "Be warned."Lucy had shrugged off the warning because she'd rather live anywhere, even the Antarctic, than stay in Boston for another second. In any case she'd thought she was used to all three. She'd lived in England for the first six years of her life, and it wasn't as if Boston were the south of France. Except in comparison with the Lake District, it seemed it was. 
Page 56:
She'd just tried to erase all signs of her presence in Juliet's house. Because Juliet didn't want her here.
It hadn't been her imagination; her half sister actually did resent her. 
Book description: "When Lucy Bagshaw’s life in Boston falls apart, she accepts her half sister Juliet’s invitation to stay with her in a seaside village in northern England. Lucy... finds that her sister is an aloof host, the weather is wet, windy, and cold, and her new boss, Alex Kincaid, only hired her as a favor to Juliet....With the help of quirky villagers, these hesitant rainy day sisters begin to forge a new understanding…" (goodreads)

A new novel set in England's Lake District. 

Jul 29, 2015

Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen: Waiting on Wednesday

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


Malice at the Palace: Her Royal Spyness #9 by Rhys Bowen, to be released August 4, 2015 by Berkley
Genre: British historical mystery
Lady Georgiana Rannoch won’t deny that being thirty-fifth in line for the British throne has its advantages. Unfortunately, money isn’t one of them. And sometimes making ends meet requires her to investigate a little royal wrongdoing.

While my beau Darcy is off on a mysterious mission, I am once again caught between my high birth and empty purse. I am therefore relieved to receive a new assignment from the Queen—especially one that includes lodging. The King’s youngest son, George, is to wed Princess Marina of Greece, and I shall be her companion at the supposedly haunted Kensington Palace.

George is known for his many affairs with women as well as men—including the great songwriter Noel Coward. But when I search the Palace for a supposed ghost, I only encounter an actual dead person: a society beauty said to have been one of Prince George’s mistresses.

As the investigation unfolds—and Darcy, as always, turns up in the most unlikely of places—the investigation brings us precariously close to the prince himself.
 (book description)

I have just finished reading Queen of Hearts, the eighth in the series, for a publisher book tour on August 4, and I must say it was full of surprises. I am looking forward to reading this one as well. 

Jul 28, 2015

First Chapter: THE MOUNTAIN STORY by Lori Lansens

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.


The Mountain Story: A Novel by Lori Lansens, published June 30, 2015 by Simon and Schuster.
Genre: fiction

First paragraph, first chapter:
Dear Daniel,  A person has to have lived a little to appreciate a survival story. That's what I've always said, and I promised that when you were old enough, I'd tell you mine. It's no tale for a child, but you're not a child anymore. You're older now than I was when I got lost in the mountain wilderness.
Five days in the freeing cold without food or water or shelter. You know that part, and you know that I was with three strangers and that not everyone survived. What happened up there changed my life, Danny. Hearing the story is going to change yours. 
Teaser, page 118:
..."It wasn't a helicopter. You heard Wolf. It was the wind."
Five days. Four hikers. Three survivors. From Lori Lansens comes a gripping tale of adventure, sacrifice and survival in the unforgiving wilderness of a legendary mountain. 

On his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly takes the tramway to the top of the mountain that looms over Palm Springs, intending to jump to his death. Instead he encounters strangers wandering in the mountain wilderness, three women who will change the course of his life. Through a series of missteps he and the women wind up stranded, in view of the city below, but without a way down. They endure five days in freezing temperatures without food or water or shelter, and somehow find the courage to carry on.

Wolf, now a grown man, has never told his son, or anyone, what happened on the mountain during those five days, but he can't put it off any longer. And in telling the story to his only child, Daniel, he at last explores the nature of the ties that bind and the sacrifices people will make for love. The mountain still has a hold on Wolf, composed of equal parts beauty and terror. (book description from good reads)

Based on the beginning, the teaser, and the book details, would you read on? 

Book Giveaway Winner



The winner of Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery #3 by Susan Spann is Kay Stewart, chosen by Randomizer. Congratulations! An email has been sent to the winner. 

Thanks to all who entered the contest.

Jul 26, 2015

Sunday Salon: Slowed Down by Warm Weather

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

Amazing that the low 80s can feel so hot. We are so used to having cool temps here that anything higher then 70s feels very warm. There were a few days of absolute bliss - sunshine, clear skies, cool breezes, maybe mid 70s. Wish we could have more of those. 

A few books to share....
The Sisters of Versailles: The MIstress of Versailles Trilogy 1 by Sally Christie, to be released September 1, 2015 by Atria Books.
"Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail."

I like that the book is "carefully researched and ornately detailed," the first of an historical fiction trilogy. 
Unprocessed: My City-dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble, published June 23, 2015 by William Morrow.
"From a founding editor of Edible Baja Arizona, of a young woman's year-long journey of eating only whole, unprocessed foods--intertwined with a journalistic exploration of what "unprocessed" really means, why it matters, and how to afford it."


Tahoe Blue Fire: An Owen Mckenna Mystery Thriller #13 by Todd Borg, to be published August 1, 2015 by Thriller Press. 
"When Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna gets a call from a woman who’s afraid for her life, it sounds like she is excessively paranoid. 
But The Killer Was Dead Serious 
McKenna investigates and discovers that two other people have already died. He believes the killer is after something worth millions, a precious artifact that dates back to Renaissance Italy. " Loved all the previous ones in this series, set in picturesque Tahoe!

I am now reading Confucius Jade by Frederick Fisher, and a couple of cozies for blog tours. My reading seems to have slowed down a bit. Maybe distracted by warm weather outdoors!. That's always a good thing!

A giveaway of Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann ends tomorrow. Email me to enter the contest. 

What books are on your TBR list?

Jul 24, 2015

The Rope and the Sword: Medieval Japanese Justice, an article by Susan Spann


Justice Play

THE ROPE AND THE SWORD: Medieval Japanese Justice

article and photos by Susan Spann


Today, I’d like to take you on a whirlwind tour of Medieval Japanese justice—a topic close to my heart, and one I explore in the newest Shinobi Mystery, Flask of the Drunken Master.

Medieval Japanese justice actually followed two different, but parallel systems: one for commoners, and the other for the samurai nobles who sat at the top of the social ladder.

By the 16th century—the era when my Shinobi Mysteries take place—Japan had a highly developed system of courts and law enforcement.

Magistrates presided over the courts in every major city (and many towns), resolving disputes and conducting the trials of commoners accused of crimes. Although the magistrates themselves were members of the ruling samurai class, their jurisdiction extended mostly to commoners. By law, the samurai had the right to resolve their legal disputes without the magistrate’s intervention (although samurai could agree to submit their problems to magistrates for review).

Beneath the magistrates, a handful of yoriki (“assistant magistrates”) conducted investigations and acted as supervisors for the medieval Japanese version of “beat cops” (called dōshin) who patrolled the cities and arrested commoners accused of crimes. Dōshin were easy to recognize, because they carried a forked truncheon, called a jitte, in addition to a sword:

Like magistrates, yoriki and dōshin were always members of the samurai class. However, policemen usually came from low-ranked samurai families, whereas magistrates almost always belonged to powerful, influential clans.

Despite the fact that their social group controlled and composed the police force, samurai rarely used the justice system to resolve their own disputes. Samurai families generally resolved their minor issues through negotiation, and where that failed, they delivered their justice on the edge of a sword. For the most part, the official justice system existed to manage the lower classes.

Like the justice system itself, the punishments meted out to criminals often depended on the social class or rank of the convicted (or condemned).
Sengakuji
As the highest-ranking social group, samurai had special privileges with regard to punishment. For serious crimes, samurai often had the right (and sometimes the obligation) to commit seppuku – a form of ritual suicide in which the offending samurai disemboweled himself with a dagger. During my recent trip to Japan, I visited Sengakuji, a temple in Tokyo where the famous “47 Ronin” are buried. These famous samurai, whose adventure is memorialized in the famous epic Chushingura, avenged their master and then committed seppuku en masse. Here’s a photograph of that temple:

The "self-determining" samurai was usually allowed a “second,” called the kaishakunin, who ended the samurai’s life with a merciful strike to the neck as soon as the fatal stomach cut was completed. A skillful kaishakunin didn’t sever the head completely; instead, his skillful stroke resulted in a head that hung from the owner’s body by only a narrow strip of skin. The thinner the strip, the more respect the kaishakukin—and the now-deceased samurai atoning for a crime--received.

Ritual suicide by seppuku restored a samurai’s honor, and that of his family, preventing the need for a feud between the wrongdoer’s clan and the clan of his victim. However, only samurai were allowed the option of seppuku (and the “honor” was not extended to every samurai who committed a crime.)

Among commoners, the sentence for serious crimes was generally death by hanging. In contrast to seppuku, which restored a condemned man’s honor, hanging was a degrading and defiling form of death. It shamed not only the convict, but his (or her) family as well. Hangings often took place in public, sometimes followed by decapitation and display of the criminal’s head as a warning to the population at large.

In an ironically “modern” twist, the Japanese justice system treated female criminals as equals of their male counterparts where punishment was concerned. Females went to the gallows alongside male criminals, and female samurai who committed crimes were often allowed the option of suicide (usually by poison but occasionally by seppuku).

Doshin-style truncheon
My first two Shinobi Mysteries, Claws of the Cat and Blade of the Samurai, involved medieval Japanese ideas of crime and punishment—ideas which the Japanese considered inseparable from the larger ideals of honor, respect, and social class—but the plots of those novels didn’t give me the chance to show a criminal on trial. Flask of the Drunken Master shifts the investigation to a crime against a commoner, which gave me an opportunity to explore the issues of justice—and punishment—from a significantly different point of view. The trial scene at the end of the book is one of my favorites in the entire series.

Sandaime Onoe Kikugoro no Oboshi Yuranosuke
Regardless of the criminal’s social status, major crimes like murder were considered unforgivable not only in their own right but also because they demonstrated disrespect for the Japanese social order. A major crime created a debt that could only be “repaid” with the criminal’s life—a truth that transcended even the sharp class lines that pervaded medieval Japanese culture--and one that my ninja detective, Hiro Hattori, understands all too well. 

Thanks to Susan Spann, author of the three Shinobi mysteries, Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master, for this guest post.

See my review of The Flask of the Drunken Master.

For other reviews/guest posts/giveaways of the Flask of the Drunken Master, visit the tour schedule at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  

Book Beginning: CONFUCIUS JADE by Frederick Fisher

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


Confucius Jade by Frederick Fisher, published February 11, 2010 by Dudley Court Press
Genre: historical fiction
Book beginning:
Prologue - Mangin Taung, Burma 
Under gray skies, leaden with the September monsoon, the burros wound their way down the mountain, known as Mangin Taung in northern Burma. Twelve of the pack animals were tethered to each other. A drover led the train and another followed. An A frame of rough hewn wood, strapped over hemp-pad blankets, burdened the sturdy animals. They bore fifty-kilo burlap sacks containing jade boulders, lashed tightly to each side of the frame. Twelve hundred kilos of precious jade rough traveled on a route from the ancient mines at Hpakant in the Kachin Territory to Rangoon, far to the south. 
Page 56:  Only a storyteller could imagine how the jade came from the mountains of Kachin, split and lay there many years at this precise bend of the river, to be discovered by our Mei Hua. Only a storyteller could imagine what would emerge from the jade to affect the lives of so many. 

About the book: A fantastic jade carving of Shou-Xing Lao, the Chinese God of Longevity has mystical properties and guides the Kong family from Burma back to their homeland of China, then to family in San Francisco's Chinatown and a high-stakes bidding war among three billionaires - each of whom covets the priceless jade for its promise of long life and redemption. A Japanese pearl magnate, an Arabian oil sheik and an American media mogul find their destinies intertwined in this compelling epic of loyalty and treachery, generosity and greed, deception and love. (pubisher)

My comments: I am always willing to give interesting historical fiction a try, to get what nuggets of history I can while reading. The author is a certified gemologist and registered jeweler with the American Gem Society for many years. Until recently, he and his wife spent six months each year in Southeast Asia. I am eager to read what he has to say about this fascinating subject - jade and the ancient myths surrounding it. 

I received a review/feature copy of this book from the publisher. 

Jul 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Cat, the Sneak and the Secret by Leann Sweeney

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

The Cat, the Sneak and the Secret: Cats in Trouble Mystery #7 by Leann Sweeney, to be published August 4, 2015 by NAL

For cat and mystery lovers....
 A feline with a penchant for pilfering ends up unearthing a deadly mystery.…

Jillian Hart and Tom are finally tying the knot, but first they need to make sure Tom’s stepson, Finn, is as comfortable as possible in the lake house they will all call home. So when it becomes clear that Finn has fallen for a pretty cat from the Mercy Animal Sanctuary, Jillian and Tom readily agree to make room for one more—even though the tortoiseshell kitty is a notorious kleptomaniac.

So far, the cat has sneaked out of the adoption center time after time, bringing back trinkets, shoelaces, and socks. But when she brings back an antique locket, Finn enlists Tom’s and Jillian’s sleuthing skills. They hope to return the treasured item to its owner, but their search for answers is sidetracked when a body is found. Still, their sneaky cat’s find may just lead them to a killer.… (publisher)

What book are you waiting for to be published? 

Jul 20, 2015

Book Review: Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann

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
Flask of the Drunken Master: A Shinobi Mystery #3 by Susan Spann
Published July 14, 2015; Minotaur Books
Genre: historical mystery, 16th century Japan

Opening paragraphs:
"Halt!" The armored samurai stepped forward to block the bridge. "No one crosses the Kamo River without identification. State our names and your business in Kyoto."
Hattori Hiro gestured to the Jesuit at his side. "Father Mateo Avila de Santos, a priest of the foreign god, from Portugal . I am Matsui Hiro, his interpreter and scribe." 
My comments: And so begins the third book in the Shinobi Mystery series, featuring Hiro, a samurai in disguise as an interpreter, whose job is to guard the Jesuit priest, Father Mateo, in Japan. The two have solved murders before, and continue to do so in this book. Hiro is the main crime solver, with Father Mateo as his sidekick or helper.

Samurai and Japanese codes of conduct are very much in the forefront, and Hiro must steer Father Mateo clear of any offence the Jesuit might make in speech, manner, or conduct while they interrogate people and make inquiries regarding the crime they are determined to solve. The two make an interesting pair of sleuths and their complimentary characters add to the interest of the novel. 

The author brings Japanese history, its customs and politics, to life in this series and in this book, as we enjoy detecting from an unlikely pair of sleuths. I highly recommend it for history and mystery buffs alike. 

The plot: "August 1565: When a rival artisan turns up dead outside Ginjiro’s brewery, and all the evidence implicates the brewer, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro and seizes the brewery, leaving his wife and daughter destitute....

But with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, a rival shinobi on the prowl, and samurai threatening Hiro and Father Mateo at every turn, Ginjiro’s life is not the only one in danger."  (publisher)


Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review copy of this book. For other reviews of this and other books in the mystery series, for giveaways, and author posts, visit the tour schedule.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: 

A hard copy of Flask of the Drunken Master to a resident of the U.S. or Canada. To enter the contest, please email me at harvee44@yahoo.com with the email heading, FLASK CONTEST. The contest will run now through July 27. A winner will be notified by email on July 28 and will have two days to respond with a mailing address. TLC Book Tours will arrange for the mailing of the book to the winner. Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner, chosen at random, is Kay Stewart. Congratulations, and thanks to all who entered the contest. 
.

Jul 18, 2015

Sunday Salon: Female Photographers in WWII

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

I am excited to have two historical novels about female photographers who made their mark taking photos of the aftermath of WWII.

 The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton is based on the life of real women who photographed aspects of WWII. The other is:


The Woman in the Photograph by Dana Gynther, a novel based on the real life photographer, Lee Miller, who captured startling images from WWII. It is to be released August 4, 2015 by Gallery Books.
The Woman in the Photograph is the richly drawn, tempestuous novel about a talented and fearless young woman caught up in one of the most fascinating times of the twentieth century. (publisher)

I also have an ARE of Gregory Maguire's After Alice, to be published October 27 by William Morrow. 

From the author of Wicked comes a new twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis's Carroll's beloved classic. Gregory Maguire turns to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll's enduring tale. (publisher)

I have begun to read, among other books, 
Losing Me, a novel by the English author Sue Margolis,  published July 7, 2015 by NAL.
Knocking on sixty, Barbara Stirling is too busy to find herself, while caring for her mother, husband, children, and grandchildren. But when she loses her job, everything changes. Exhausted, lonely, and unemployed, Barbara is forced to face her feelings and doubts. Then a troubled, vulnerable little boy walks into her life and changes it forever. (publisher)

Last week, I reviewed for a book tour:
The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera and
Bum Rap by Paul Levine

and will post a book tour review this coming week for the historical mystery, Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann. There will be a giveaway of the book. Look for it!

What's on your reading list?

Jul 17, 2015

No Comfort for the Lost by Nancy Herriman: Book Beginnings

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.
No Comfort for the Lost (Mystery of Old San Francisco #1) by Nancy Herriman, to be released August, 4, 2015 by NAL.

Book opening:
San Francisco, March 1867. The Chinese believed that some days are inauspicious, the ill tidings written in the passage of the heavenly bodies. Celia Davies gazed down at her patient, a delicate Chinese girl whose skin displayed more bruises than unblemished flesh, and wondered if today would probe to be one of those days. 
"You heal!" The old woman who'd been watching from the doorway flapped wrinkled hands, causing the lengthy twist of her silver-tinged ebony hair to swing across her chest. "You heal.""I shall try," Celia answered. "I shall try my best."
In this historical mystery series debut, a courageous nurse and a war-scarred police detective in 1860s San Francisco champion the down-trodden and fight for justice. British-born Celia Davies left her privileged family for an impulsive marriage to a handsome Irishman. Patrick brought her to San Francisco’s bustling shores but then disappeared and is now presumed dead.  Celia partnered with her half-Chinese cousin Barbara and her opinionated housekeeper Addie to open a free medical clinic for women who have nowhere else to turn. But one of her Chinese patients is found brutally murdered…and Celia’s hotheaded brother-in-law stands accused of the crime.

Detective Nicholas Greaves is intent on discovering the killer of the girl, whose ethnicity and gender render her as powerless in death as they did in life. Nicholas’s efforts are complicated by Celia, who has a knack for walking into dangerous situations that may lead to answers…or get them both killed.  For as their inquiries take them from Chinatown’s squalid back alleys to the Barbary Coast’s violent shipping docks to the city’s gilded parlors, Celia and Nicholas begin to suspect that someone very close to them holds the key to a murderous conspiracy… (publisher)

Page 56"I'm trying to imagine you with a younger sister, Mr. Greaves. You must be very protective of her."  
A new mystery series that I am eager to get into. Nineteenth century San Francisco is a great setting for an historical series. 

Jul 16, 2015

Book Tour: The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera

The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera, published June 23, 2015 Harper. Contemporary novel.

"From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an unexpected and enchanting novel—the culmination of his life's work.

Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism—that’s The Festival of Insignificance." (publisher)

Having read only The Unbearable Lightness of Being put me at a disadvantage for reading this book, the "culmination of his life's work." I admit I was somewhat lost as to the author's message and intention and realize that the book, though very brief, would have more significance for those who have read more of his work and followed this well known author. 

Nevertheless, there are fascinating parts to The Festival of Insignificance.The women he refers to are unsympathetic to say the least. I was tempted to think him a misogynist in this book, but I would have to judge his words by the body of his work. 

Unfortunately, I think I would need to read more of Kundera to comment adequately on The Festival of Insignificance. I would welcome comments from Kundera fans and readers and refer readers to other reviews at TLC Book Tours.


About the AuthorMilan Kundera

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He is the author of the novels The JokeFarewell WaltzLife Is ElsewhereThe Book of Laughter and ForgettingThe Unbearable Lightness of Being, andImmortality, and the short-story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. His most recent novels SlownessIdentity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the NovelTestaments BetrayedThe Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.
Purchase links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

For more reviews of the book, visit the tour schedule at TLC Book Tours.
I received a free proof of this book from TLC Book Tours for the tour.

Jul 15, 2015

A Little Night Murder by Nancy Martin: Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
A Little Night Murder: A Blackbird Sisters Mystery #10 by Nancy Martin, to be published August 4, 2015 by NAL

This is the first time I've seen this series which now has ten books! I love the cover - those stairs, the elegant gown, and the title!

Book description: Nora Blackbird turns the spotlight on a killer in the latest in the series.

While a pregnant Nora relaxes in her best friend’s Bucks County pool, a Broadway show is in rehearsal next door at the home of the legendary late composer “Toodles” Tuttle. His diva widow, Boom Boom, has racked up a chorus line of enemies, so the old broad’s death is a hotly anticipated event. But it’s her beloved daughter, Jenny, who drops dead just as the lights are set to go on for the lucrative new Toodles musical.

Nora must first deal with her sisters’ love lives and a visit from her mobster boyfriend’s mother. Only then can she bring the curtain down on a daring killer....(publisher)

What new release are you waiting for? 

Jul 13, 2015

Book Review/Tour: BUM RAP by Paul Levine

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.

Bum Rap: A Thriller by Paul Levine, Published by Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2015)
First chapter, first paragraph:
The gunshot hit Nicolai Gorev squarely between the eyes. His head snapped back, then whipped forward, and he toppled face-first onto his desk. 
There were two other people in the office of Club Anastasia.
My comments:
Paul Levine describes the book best in his Author's Note at the end of the book.
 "Bum Rap brings together Lassiter, the lineback-turned lawyer, and mismatched law partners Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord."

I thought it was clever of the author to bring together in Bum Rap the main characters of his two separate thriller series. The book becomes just as much a love triangle possibility as a legal thriller, when Victoria enlists Lassiter's help to clear her partner in life and law, Solomon, of a murder that would bring him many years in jail if he is convicted. As the sparks fly between Victoria and Lassiter, the two fight to find legal ways to "bend the system" to bring about a kind of ultimate justice and free Solomon.

Legal thriller readers will love this book. Though not lawyerly-inclined, I was equally intrigued by the arguments and strategies Lord and Lassiter use to try to bring about a desired outcome. But first they have to find out what really happened the day the Russian mafia type was killed, supposedly by Solomon. Solomon is saying something different, however, but is it the truth?

Objective rating: 4.5/5

Book description:
NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter... gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has fled the city. Now it’s up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness—a stunning “Bar girl”—before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob. (publisher)

PAUL LEVINE worked as a newspaper reporter, a law professor and a trial lawyer before becoming a full-time novelist. His books have been translated into 23 languages; Levine has won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and has been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity, the International Thriller Writers Award, the Shamus Award, and the James Thurber Humor Prize. Connect with Paul Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a review copy of this book.
For more reviews of Bum Rap, and giveaways, visit the tour schedule.

Jul 12, 2015

Sunday Salon: The Social Elite in Books

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.

I went into the bookstore only to browse, started to read this book, then bought it. Seems I've been doing this recently, to the detriment of my pocketbook.
China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel by Kevin Kwan, published June 16, 2015 by Doubleday.
I read the previous novel, Crazy Rich Asians, and enjoyed reading about the antics and manners of the crazy filthy rich in Asia. The author lives in New York, but was raised in Singapore, so it seems he knows of what he writes. Now he tackles the crazy newly rich from mainland China and their interactions with the ones from Southeast Asia.  I am having fun reading it, being relatively poor myself :)

The mailman brought a few interesting books:
A Gilded Grave: A Newport Gilded Age Mystery by Shelley Freydont, to be released August 4, 2015; Berkley
First in a new series... a setting that was America's answer to Downton Abbey? 

In 1895, the height of the Gilded Age, the social elite spend their summers in Newport, Rhode Island. Within the walls of their fabulous “cottages,” competition for superiority is ruthless … and so are the players.  
During her first Newport season, Deanna Randolph attends a ball given in honor of Lord David Manchester, a Barbadian sugar magnate, and his sister, Madeline. But on the nearby cliffs, a young maid lies dead—and suspicion falls on Joseph Ballard, a member of one of the town’s most prestigious families. Deanna and Joe must navigate a world of parties, tennis matches, and séances to find the real murderer. (publisher)
Malice at the Palace: A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen, to be released August 4, 2015; Berkley Lady Georgiana Rannoch won’t deny that being thirty-fifth in line for the British throne has its advantages. Unfortunately, money isn’t one of them.  

While my beau Darcy is off on a mysterious mission, I am once again caught between my high birth and empty purse. I am therefore relieved to receive a new assignment from the Queen. The King’s youngest son, George, is to wed Princess Marina of Greece, and I shall be her companion at the supposedly haunted Kensington Palace.

George is known for his many affairs with women as well as men—including the great songwriter Noel Coward. But when I search the Palace for a supposed ghost only to encounter an actual dead person: a society beauty said to have been one of Prince George’s mistresses.
 
The Queen wants the whole matter hushed. But as the investigation unfolds—and Darcy, as always, turns up in the most unlikely of places—the investigation brings us precariously close to the prince himself. (publisher)

The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton, to be released August 11, 2015; Harper
A dynamic World War II novel about two American journalists and an Englishman, who together race the Allies to Occupied Paris for the scoop of their lives. Based on daring, real-life female reporters on the front lines of history like Margaret Bourke-White, Lee Miller, and Martha Gellhorn—and with cameos by other famous faces of the time.

These books are all fabulous! I can't wait to review them!


What do you have in your mailbox this week?