Jan 31, 2016

Sunday Salon: Three Genres

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 It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

The Two of Us by Andy Jones, paperback to be published February 9, 2016. From Washington Square Press
Killer Deal (Emma Skold #3) by Sofie Sarenbrant, to be published May 10, 2016 by Stockholm Press. From Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc. 
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, to be published April 5, 2016 by Ballantine Books. A win through Shelf Awareness.

A romance, a Swedish thriller, and an historical novel came in the mail last week.

Add anything new to your TBR list? 

Jan 30, 2016

Finding Good Books Though Websites

17 Ways to Find Good Books To Read is a website that I just discovered that has links to sites such as

1. The Book Seer, which offers suggestions based on the last book you read and really liked.

2. All Nobel Prizes in Literature, a list of the winning authors from the beginning of the prize.

3. The Top 100 Books of All Time, a list of books nominated by writers from around the world.

4. Whichbook helps you select books based on a variety of criteria you choose.

5. Other suggestions: Goodreads, Penguin's Classics, Pulitzer Prize WinnersThe Man Booker Prize Winners, the library, etc.

I have just asked The Book Seer for a recommendation. It gave me a couple of other books by the same author I just finished reading, plus at least six more that I have not heard about but am eager to try. I have jotted these down and want to see if the suggestions are really good for me.

Jan 29, 2016

Library Finds: Contemporary Fiction

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

I returned two books to the library yesterday and borrowed three more. I do hope to read them among the others I've downloaded from NetGalley and from amazon. Cross my fingers! 

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz, published May 2015.
Genre: women's fiction, contemporary fiction
Book beginning:"Are you lost?" the man asked."No," she said."Where are you headed?"Don't know.""Seat taken?" he asked."As you can see, it's empty," she said.       
Re Jane by Patricia Park, published May 5, 2015.
Book beginning: Home was this northeastern knot of Queens, in the town (if you could call it a town) of Flushing....They say the neighborhood once contained a hearty swath of the American population, but when I landed here as an infant, Flushing was starting to give way to the Koreans.... This was my America: all Korean, all the time. 
Page 56:
The air was filled with excited chatter. Devon and I were the only ones not speaking Chinese. 

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida, published June 2, 2015

Book beginning: When you find your seat you glance at the businessman sitting next to you and decide he's almost handsome. This is the second leg of your trip from Miami to Casablanca, and the distance traveled already muted the horror of the last two months. 

I have started to read The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty and find it intriguing and well written. A young woman takes off on her own to a foreign country and has to survive after her passport and wallet are stolen. 

What intriguing books have you discovered this week? 

Jan 28, 2016

Review: The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg

The Stonecutter, the third in the Fjallbacka crime series,  and The Drowning, the seventh and most recent novel, both have themes of bodies found in or near the sea. The cover of The Drowning has a picture of a young woman seeming to float under water.

This is a police procedural set in the town of Fjallbacka, Sweden, with detective Patrik Hedstrom as the main character, and Patrik's wife Erica working unofficially as his sidekick. Erica is pregnant with twins, but this doesn't stop her from her editing job in a publishing company or from trying to solve the death of a friend of her current author, Christian.

Christian has been receiving threatening letters, which he hides from everyone including his wife, until the truth is discovered by Erica and the detective team. Erica and Patrik both delve into Christian's past, looking for clues while more strange and threatening events begin to happen to Christian and his childhood friends.

Lackberg's writing is suspenseful, though the plot is slow in parts. The author throws out clues and events that seem unconnected, till the plot threads come together toward the end to reveal a startling and disturbing reality involving the author Christian and his friends.

The main characters, detective Patrik Hedstrom and his wife Erica, are likeable and realistic, as are the other members of  the police team.

Some themes: childhood trauma, family dynamics, police procedural, and interestingly, working pregnant women (there are three in the novel, two of them on the crime solving police team!)

My objective rating: 4.5/5
Thanks to Pegasus Crime for an advance reading copy of the book which was published September 2015.

Jan 26, 2016

First Chapter: The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph every Tuesday. Share the first paragraph(s) of your current read or book interest, with information for readers.
The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor, paperback published January 5, 2016 by Algonquin. 

First paragraph:
Later, in weaker moments, Lovell Hall reminded himself of the logical fallacy that young scientists so often committed: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. After this, therefore because of this. Of course, without certain information - and in the face of other unfortunate realities - the timing of that evening with his wife was impossible to ignore. 
About the book:
“In The Daylight Marriage, there are two mysteries--the whereabouts of a missing woman and the vagaries of the human heart. Heidi Pitlor explores both of these enigmas with equal mastery, merging a shocking crime story with an incisive portrait of a failed marriage. The result is a novel that is fast-moving, emotionally complex, and ultimately heartbreaking.”—Tom Perrotta, author of Nine Inches 
 I don't know if I'm ready for a heartbreaking novel. I always prefer plots that have happy endings or promise better things in the future. But I'm curious about this one.

What book are you reading this week? 

Jan 25, 2016

Book Feature: No Cats Allowed by Miranda James

Visit Mailbox Monday, and Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

I am scheduled for a book review of this mystery, organized by the publisher. 
No Cats Allowed (Cat in the Stacks #7) by Miranda James, published February 23, 2016 by Berkley.

Librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel must clear a friend when the evidence is stacked against her…

Setting: Mississippi library

Cause for murder: The victim, library director Elwyn Dillard, is declaring all four-legged creatures banned from the stacks, among other things.....Is this the reason he is killed? 

Innocent suspect to be cleared: Melba, Charlie's good friend

Opening sentences: 
"He's out there again today, Charlie," Molly Gilley made the announcement as she strode hurriedly into my office at the Athena College Library. "Do you think we should call the campus police?"
Diesel, my Maine Coon cat, jumped down from his perch on the window ledge behind my desk and ambled around to greet Melba. The two adored each other, and if anyone could calm Malba down, Diesel could. 
This is the seventh in the series, featuring librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine coon cat, Diesel. 

Are you a cat and mystery lover? This series is for you!

Thanks to publisher for a review/feature copy of this book. 

Jan 24, 2016

Sunday Salon: Book Titles Found on Social Media

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

I have started a couple of new books, ARCs, and then put them down, disappointed. It's easier to do than before, as there are so many other books to read.

I have a list of book titles I've jotted down from other blogs, from FB, and from the web, and hope to try the library for these. They include

Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Lover by Marguerite Dumas
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
A 1,000 Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The Expatriates by Janice K. Lee
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Have you read any of these? Which do you recommend?

Jan 22, 2016

Review: Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard

Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard, to be released February 23, 2016 by William Morrow, contemporary fiction. This review may contain a few "spoilers."

Helen has lost her husband, and because of a DUI conviction, also loses her young son to her ex-husband and his new wife. She is "saved" from despair and alcoholism after meeting Ava and Swift, a wealthy and generous couple who give her a job photographing their extensive art and items in their impressive home, and who become Helen's life and best friends now that she is a single mom who only gets to see her son Ollie occasionally. 

Swift becomes a good influence on Ollie, teaches him to swim, and encourages him to want to spend more time with his mother Helen. In the meantime Helen is busy with projects Ava wants her to help with. But something happens to question the true nature of Helen's new friends and patrons.

The title, Under the Influence, seems to refer to two things: Helen's initial dependence on alcohol and later on, her dependence for her livelihood on her persuasive and wealthy new friends, Ava and Swift. 

The plot reminds me a bit of Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, pointing a finger at a group of wealthy people who might do anything to protect themselves and maintain their status quo.

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC of the book for review. 

Review: Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs

Visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader
Killer Cupcakes is the first in the Lexy Baker Baker Mysteries by Leighann Dobbs, a free ebook that I found among the others in my Kindle. Though I rarely read ebooks, it was the perfect read for lying in bed - a light cozy with a delightful main character - the owner of a cupcake bakery who has turned amateur sleuth.

In the plot, Lexy's ex-boyfriend has been killed and she becomes the main suspect when her cupcake tops are found to be the vehicle for the murder = poison. Despite warning from a strange man at the funeral, Lexy investigates the murder and enlists sleuthing help from her grandmother and her friends who have formed a detective club at their senior retirement home - using only their iPads and their curiosity online, of course.

Love is in the air as well, as the detective investigating the case takes an interest in the cupcake maker at the same time as he investigates her as a suspect.

First chapter, first paragraph: 

"Sprinkles - no!"Lexy hissed at her dog who was wriggling through a gap in the backyard fence. With a sigh of resignation, she padded out into the yard in her bare feet, her pink cotton pyjama bottoms fluttering around her calves in the late night summer breeze. The glow of the full moon lit the yard well enough for her to see where she was going without a flashlight.
I hope to read more of the series when in the mood for a light cozy mystery, and I may try a few in the author's other series as well.

Jan 20, 2016

Green Belt Sudoku by Frank Longo

I figured I could handle Green Belt sudoku, a second degree level, having played easy sudoku for some years. So I've graduated to this book, though I have tackled harder levels too with varied amounts of success.

Green Belt Sudoku describes a slightly different way to solve the puzzles, and combined with my old techniques, has helped my success rate! I use a pencil so I can start over if I mess up, as not all of these puzzles are easy.

My new sudoku book rivals my reading and I don't mind as I can do the puzzles while the TV is on, something I can't do well when I'm in the middle of a book.

And I don't knit or crochet, so.....

Jan 19, 2016

Review: Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle

Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph every Tuesday. Share the first paragraph(s) of your current read or book interest, with information for readers. Also share a teaser from the book with Teaser Tuesday at A Daily Rhythm.

Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle,  published December 1, 2015 by Berkley.
Genre: cozy mystery
First chapter:"Gardner, get off the phone. "
 "Just do it!"
Clare Cosi, coffeehouse manager and master roaster, has moved temporarily to Washington DC to open a new coffeehouse. She is asked to provide the coffee for a White House event, but she has to hide the fact that the President's daughter Abby has been sneaking out of the White House to play piano at the coffeehouse's weekly Open Mike jazz sessions. 

When a mysterious man dies at the coffeehouse and Abby goes missing along with the drummer Stan, Clare becomes a suspect for kidnapping and murder. Clare' boyfriend, Detective Mike Quinn takes her into hiding as Clare tries to clear her name, find the President's daughter, and get back to the business of running her coffeeshop.

Mix in DC politics into this coffeehouse mystery and you have an intriguing and suspenseful read. Kudos to Cleo Coyle for her unusual and entertaining plot and an excellent cozy read.
Teaser: (ch. 80)
"They are going to drag the river in the morning for their bodies. And it's all my fault! It's all my fault!"
Objective rating: Five stars

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

Jan 16, 2016

Sunday Salon: Winter Reading

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 Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

A few books came in the mail for review, ending a small book drought.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz, to be released  March 1, 2016 by Simon and Schuster.
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan, published December 1, 2015 by William Morrow. I have already read and reviewed this book, so I'll be passing on this copy to another reader. A really good suspense read.
The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor, paperback published January 5, 2016 by Algonquin. 
Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren, to be published February 2, 2016 by Gallery Books. Not really my kind of book, so this one I'll be passing on as well.

Books from my shelves that I hope to read this winter:
Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard, to be released February 23, 2016 by William Morrow, contemporary fiction
Dear Lucy by Julie Sarkissian, contemporary fiction
The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg, crime fiction

What books are on your reading list this week? 

Jan 15, 2016

Romantic Mystery: JAMAICA INN by Daphne Du Maurier

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, a novel published September 1, 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks.
It was a cold grey day in late November. The weather had changed overnight, when a backing wind brought a granite sky and a mizzling rain with it, and although it was now only a little after two o'clock in the afternoon the pallour of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon the hills, cloaking them in mist. It would be dark by four. The air was clammy cold, and for all the tightly closed windows it penetrated the interior of the coach.The leather seats felt damp to the hands, and here must have been a small crack in the roof, because now and again little drips of rain fell softly through, smudging the leather and leaving a dark blue stain like a splodge of ink.The wind came in gusts, at times shaking the coast as it travelled round the bend of the road, and in the exposed places on the high ground it blew with such force that the whole body of the coach trembled and swayed, rocking between the high wheels like a drunken man.  (first chapter)
So atmospheric, this first paragraph. I love reading DuMaurier's prose and enjoy the plots and characters in all of her romantic mystery novels, including this one set in Cornwall, a 2015 reprint.

Page 56: 
Even the horses appeared to understand the need for silence, for they stood motionless.
Would you keep reading, if you have not already read this novel? 

Jan 13, 2016

Review: The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

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
The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson, to be released February 15, 2016 by William Morrow
Genre: contemporary fiction
Objective rating: 5/5

My comments: 

Foster homes for girls, single mothers, career success, siblings, family relationships.

There is quite a mixture of themes in this novel, but it works well, and the main character Paula is worth following as she moves from survival in a home for juveniles to becoming a wealthy and successful divorce lawyer, all the while dealing with memories of her gypsy-like mother, Kia, and Kia's legacy.

This is a book to wait for....

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy of this book 

Jan 12, 2016

Review: The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip

Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph every Tuesday. Share the first paragraph(s) of your current read or book interest, with information for readers. Also share a teaser from the book with Teaser Tuesday at A Daily Rhythm.
The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip, published November 24, 2015 by Kensington
First paragraph: 
When I turned thirty-three, I decided it was time for a big change in my life. It was time to become a witch.  
I have to admit I was not sure this would be a good idea.
I prided myself in being a modern woman, not an old-fashioned or superstitious one. So, instead of becoming a shamaness like Mother and Laolao, I'd become a scholar of shamanism.
Publisher's description: From the author of Secret of a Thousand Beauties and Peach Blossom Pavilion comes a beautifully written novel of self-discovery and intrigue.

Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.

When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.

My comments: The Chinese in general are great believers in ghosts and the supernatural, in an afterlife inhabited by ghosts. The author explores some of these beliefs in a modern context - a young Chinese scholar searches for the mysterious on an island that is believed to be inhabited by the ghostly - the Canary Islands. 

This novel uses an intriguing blend of superstitious belief, traditional folk culture and scholarly interest in an aspect of Chinese culture. The main character, Eileen Chen, is on an odyssey, exploring places real and magical on the islands, and interweaving old beliefs into her story.

An unusual read that will be interesting to those intrigued by the supernatural and in those able to reach out to "the other side."

Thanks to the author for a review copy of her book.

Jan 10, 2016

Book Review: River Road by Carol Goodman

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer and It's Monday: What Are You Reading by Reading Date. Also visit Mailbox Monday

Snow came down suddenly today after a night of cold rain. It's keeping me indoors, plus a sore throat and the sniffles. Good weather for reading.

River Road by Carol Goodman, to be released January 19, 2016 by Touchstone
Genre: suspense

I received this book last week and finished it in two days. Set in a college town in upstate New York, the story is quite compelling. The main character, Nan Lewis, is a creative writing professor who is fighting alcohol addiction and grief over the death of her four-year-old daughter Emily years earlier.

She finds out she is denied tenure during a staff party and drives home that snowy night, hitting a deer that suddenly appeared at a sharp curve of the road, at the same spot her daughter Emily had been hit and killed in a car accident years before.

Nan is sure she hit only a deer, though she can't find sign of the animal after she exits her car and searches. The next day, however, she becomes a suspect in a hit and run accident that killed one of her college students in the same area and at around the same time she hit the deer.  How did this happen and what is the truth, Nan struggles to find out. 

The plot is suspenseful and the characters well drawn. A well written and plotted novel. I enjoyed reading about creative writing students and their teachers and the literary references throughout the book. 

Objective rating: a five-star read. 

Thanks to the publisher for a complimentary review copy. 

Jan 8, 2016

Book Review: Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson

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.
Moonlight Over Paris
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson
To be released January 19, 2016 by William Morrow
Genre: historical novel, romance
Objective rating: 4/5

The prologue and opening sentences of this novel are rather dramatic:
Belgravia, London  December 1923 
Helena had heard, or perhaps she had read somewhere that people on the point of death were insensible to pain. Enveloped in a gentle cloud of perfect tranquility, all earthly cares at an end, they simply floated into oblivion.
But I won't be spoiling anything to reveal that Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr lives on, travels to Paris to live for a year with her wealthy Aunt, a princess by marriage, and studies art in the exciting atmosphere created by the Lost Generation and expatriates living in the City of Lights.

Helena has to overcome her experience of being pointed at and gossiped about after her broken engagement in London, which people wrongly thought of as her fault. She is reluctant to find love again, but the Parisian atmosphere works in her favor and throws her in the path of good artist friends and a romantic interest, an American newspaperman, Sam Howard. But Helena is still reeling from her broken engagement and for a long while, her relationship with Sam seems to be going nowhere.

Moonlight Over Paris was perfect as an easy read for right after the holidays. I recommend it for lovers of romance novels set in the Paris of the 1920s.

Page 56:
"I only have one year here," she admitted. That is, my parents have been kind enough to let me come here for a year and study with Maitre Czerny. But it's not a forever sort of thing. I can't just stay here."
Thanks to the publisher for a galley of this book for review. 

Jan 4, 2016

2016 100+Book Challenge: List of Books Read/Reviewed

I am signing up again for the 100+ Book Challenge hosted by Freda's Voice. Click on this link to join in and enter your books read/reviewed each month in Freda's linky.

My first books for 2016:

1. A Wee Dose of Death: A Scotshop Mystery #2 by Fran Stewart

2.  Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Roson, historical romance

3.  River Road by Cara Goodman, suspense

4.  The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson, women's fiction

5. Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle, cozy mystery

6. The Witch's Market by Mingmei Yip, fiction

7. The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg, suspense 

8. Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard

9. Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs

10. The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

11. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz, thriller

12. How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz, women's fiction

13. The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor, contemporary fiction

14. Sire and Damn by Susan Conant, mystery

15. Dishing the Dirt by M. C. Beaton, mystery

16, Lone Star by Paullina Simons, romance, contemporary fiction

17. North of Here by Laurel Saville, contemporary fiction

18. Cambodia Noir by Nicholas Seeley, thriller/adventure

20. The Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight, romance

21. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, historical fiction

22. Night Night, Sleep Tight by Nora Ephron, thriller

23. The Girl from Home by Adam Mitzner, suspense

24. Blood Orange by Susan Wittig Albert, mystery

25. The Strangler Vine by M.J.Carter, historical fiction

100+Book Challenge 2015 - Partial List

The 100+ Book Challenge 2015 was hosted by Freda's Voice.

Here is my Books Read list that I didn't finish but listed under goodreads instead. I did read over 100 books in 2015. Click on the titles to see the reviews or my ratings on Goodreads.


1. Tokyo Kill by Barry Lancet
2. The Secret Place by Tana French
3. Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James
4. A Bite of Death by Susan Conant
5. Oracles of Delphi by Marie Savage
6. Enter Pale Death by Barbara Cleverly
7. Tahoe Blowup by Todd Borg
8. Japantown by Barry Lancet
9. Memory's Lie by Jamie Mason
10. Sherlock Holmes, the Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy
11. A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
12. Hush Hush by Laura Lippman
13. Shady Cross by James Hankins
14. Death By a Honey Bee by Abigail Keam
15/ Bird Brained by Jessica Speart
16. Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs
17. The Metaxy Project by Layton Green
18. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
19. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
20. Death of a Liar by M.C Beaton
21. Horse of a Different Killer by Laura Morrigan
22. If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie
23. World Gone By by Dennis Lehane
24. Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly Whittemore
25. Murder on the Champs de Mars by Cara Black
26. Grave on Grand Avenue by Naomi Hirahara
27. Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert

General/Literary fiction

1. Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
2. What Maisie Knew by Henry James
3. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
4. A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor
5. My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg
6. The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh
7. The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos
8. The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli
9. All That Ails You by Mark J. Asher
10. I Regret Everything: A Love Story by Seth Greenfield
11. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
12. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
13. Girl in the Moonlight by Charles Dubow


1. Joy Street by Laura Foley
2. Doll God by Luanne Castle

Children's books

1. The Monster That Ate My Socks by A.J. Cosmo
2. Donkey's Kite by Liana-Melissa Allen

Books Read in 2014.

New Year's Resolution Book Review: A Wee Dose of Death by Fran Stewart

My New Year's resolution regarding books is to write a review, no matter how short, of each book I finish reading in 2016. Here's my first: a cozy in a new series.

A Wee Dose of Death: A Scotshop Mystery #2 by Fran Stewart, to be released January 5, 2016 by Berkley
Source: publisher, for review
Objective rating: 4/5

ScotShop owner, Peggy Winn, sells kilts and tartans, scarves, socks and other Scottish items to tourists that visit her little Vermont town of Hamelin. Peggy and her best friend Karaline both have a secret - they can see and talk to a fourteenth-century Scotsman, a ghost that came with an old shawl Peggy had bought on a trip to Scotland.

Dirk the ghost can be made to disappear if Peggy should fold up the shawl, which she does whenever Dirk becomes bothersome. He doesn't like it but reappears again when she spreads out or wears the shawl over her shoulders. Dirk comes in handy as an advisor and a keen observer, and may even have healing powers in his cold hands. He helps Peggy solve the mysterious death of Karaline's old college professor, who was found murdered in a mountain cabin in the woods.

This was a fun read. The Scotsman ghost is a great addition to the plot and is very likable, as are the main characters, Peggy and Karaline. The Vermont woods in winter is made very atmospheric, as is the cross country skiing involved in getting through them.

There are many red herrings in the story, so it's great that it's hard to guess the outcome and the culprit(s). I did get a bit confused at the end when the mystery was unraveling and the people's names and identities became confusing to me. I think the final pages could have used some more editing, just a wee bit.

Overall, though, this cozy was very entertaining and makes me eager to read the first in the series.

Jan 3, 2016

Sunday Salon: Books to Start Out the New Year

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer and It's Monday: What Are You Reading by Reading Date. 

I haven't gotten much read over the holidays, but am into at least three different books that I pick up at random, in between chores. 

Had to drive in to Chicago at 3 a.m. the other day to get our guests to their connection at O'Hare Airport. The sleet storm that followed canceled all or most flights, so we stayed over and cocooned indoors looking out at the Windy, Sleety City that had suddenly gotten cold, as winter is supposed to be. Our visitors finally made it out of Chi Town on New Year's Eve.

No new books in the mail....I did get to the library and found two books with an Asian theme to start out the new year.

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes, published July 7, 2015 by Sourcebooks Landmark.

Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. 

Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.

Inspired by true events, Kelli Estes's brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, and the power of our own stories. (goodreads)

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway, published April 7, 2015 by Putnam.
The award-winning author of How to Be an American Housewife ( see my 2011 reviewreturns with a story of estranged sisters, forced together by family tragedy.
Rachel hasn’t returned  home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of teenage rebellion. Drew, her younger sister, followed her passion for music but takes side jobs to make ends meet. When their deferential Japanese mother, Hikari, is diagnosed with dementia and gives Rachel power of attorney, Rachel’s domineering father, Killian becomes enraged.

In a moment of lucidity, Hikari asks Rachel for a book in her sewing room, and Rachel enlists her sister’s help in the search. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that connects them in ways that turn their differences into assets. (goodreads)

I missed Dilloway's second book, The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns, a novel about the art of rose breeding, published in 2012, but am adding this to my list of books to read in 2016.

These are the new books I'm starting out with this new year. How about you?

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...