Apr 29, 2016

Book Beginning: Gone with the Witch by Heather Blake

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.
Gone With the Witch by Heather Blake, to be published May 3, 2016 by NAL
Wishcraft Mystery #6

Book beginning, Chapter One:
Sunlight burst through the front windows of As You Wish, spotlighting the pink streaks in Ivy Teasdale's shoulder-length strawberry blond hair and the vehemence in her blue eyes. 
"The integrity of the event is at stake, Darcy," Ivy said to me, the sound of hammering outside punctuating her words like exclamation points. "Along with its sterling reputation." 
She sat ramrod straight on the velvet sofa cross from me, her hands fisted, her black-tipped fingernails pressing deeply into the fleshy skin of her palms. 
Publisher description:

Wish-granting witch Darcy Merriweather is put to the test at a pet show. . . . 

Darcy and her dog Missy are at the annual Pawsitively Enchanted pet contest. The show’s organizer hires Darcy to keep an eye on things among growing suspicions that someone is sabotaging the event. But her lead suspect is found dead, and someone begins snatching up prize-winning pets from under their owners’ noses. Darcy is determined to protect the pampered participants at whatever cost. 

Page 56:
My hand shook as I said, "How did you do this?"

What are you reading this weekend?

Apr 28, 2016

Manga: Oogu, the Inner Chambers Volume I by Fumi Noshinaga

Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Volume I) by Fumi Noshinaga, published in 2009.
Genre: manga, graphic novel
Source: personal copy

Description: In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country's men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun's Inner Chamber...

My first manga... The 203 pages of graphic and sometimes dramatic drawings in this manga pulled me into the fictional world of female shoguns and an Inner Chamber populated mainly by handsome young men.

 The series is a twist on the historical facts, where the shoguns were male and the Inner Chamber populated by females. The book focuses on the new shogun, a young female determined to change the old traditions, reduce the number of men in the Inner Chamber, simplify their lives, and make an impact on society. 

I am very curious about the others in the series, to see where the story leads. There are about 11 or more of the books so far.

Apr 26, 2016

First Chapter: Deep South by Paul Theroux

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
Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux, published September 3, 2015 by Penguin
Genre: nonfiction, travel
Source: library

First chapter, first paragraphs:

In Tuskaloosa, Alabama, on a hot Sunday morning in early October, I sat in my car in the parking lot of a motel studying a map, trying to locate a certain church. I was not looking for more religion or to be voyeuristically stimulated by travel. I was hoping for music and uplift, sacred steel and celebration, and maybe a friend.

I slapped the map with the back of my hand. I must have looked befuddled.

"You lost, baby?"

Travelling through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, travel writer Paul Theroux writes of the stunning landscapes he discovers - the deserts, the mountains, the Mississippi - and above all, the lives of the people he meets. (publisher)

Based on the opening sentences,  would you continue reading?

Apr 24, 2016

Sunday Salon: Leaving Blythe River; and Reader, I Married Him

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. 

Sunny but still cool. There is a yellow tulip and lots of violets in the yard, plus white blossoms on the serviceberry tree. Seems spring has finally arrived.

Only two books to feature this week....
Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde, to be released May 24, 2016 by Lake Union Publishing.

New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde returns with an unforgettable story of courage.
Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.
Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre, edited by Tracy Chevalier
Published March 22, 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks

This collection of original stories by today’s finest women writers—including Tracy Chevalier, Francine Prose, Elizabeth McCracken, Tessa Hadley, Audrey Niffenegger, and more—takes inspiration from a line in Charlotte Brontë’s most beloved novel, Jane Eyre.

Have a great reading week...

Apr 22, 2016

Book Beginning: Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin

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.
Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together...Finally by Nicole Lapin, published February 24, 2015 by Harlequin.
Genre: self-help

At first glance, this seems like a fairly basic book on personal finance, for the college aged group or young adults. The author outlines her 12-step program to finance in this book that can be open at random and read in any order. 

Book beginning, first chapter:
Step 1
Stop Smiling and Nodding
Embrace the Rich Bitch Attitude

Every single story goes back to money. I learned that being in the news world for so long. If you want to get to the heart of any story, you just have to follow the money trail.

So, let's follow the money trail of your life.
Yes,that will take us through the nuts and bolts of hard-core personal finance. Of course. But it also means going down paths of topics like shacking up and taking care of yourself. "Wait, say what, Lapin? Those aren't money issues," you might be thinking. Well, sure. they're just topics about men and wellness at first blush, but they are absolutely money topics, too....

Page 56:
5. Bitches who lack ambition. I will elaborate more in Step 8, but start freeing yourself from the anxiety of saving so much by...making more. Yes, I know, that's easier said than done, but if you start coming from a place of aspiration instead of desperation, you will change the way you look at money....think of making more, not spending less, as our best weapon against going broke.  

And so it goes....advice for the up and coming. A book I'll pick up and open at random to learn something new (even at my age!) 

What are you reading this Friday?

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

Apr 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Sunny Spring

I took this closeup of a blooming hyacinth a year ago today. 
It was sunny and dry then, unlike our cold and rainy day today. Happy Throwback Thursday!

Apr 19, 2016

Book Spotlight: BLOODLINES - AWAKENING by K.D. Harris

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. Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat.

BLOODLINES - AWAKENING Prequel to Medusa from the Lark Song Chronicles by KD Harris, published February 20, 2016 by Xlibris. Genre: YA fiction, fantasy

KD Harris' new novel immerses readers in Caribbean mysticism and young adult adventure, fantasy

Prologue, first paragraphs:
Though Cora's and Charlie's day together was coming to an end, they intended to squeeze every last drop from the time they had left. The two, though nineteen and twenty, though appearing to be no more than twelve, sat side by side on the bus, surrounded by other individuals, conversation and music.

The song playing on the bus's radio was "Boom, Shaka Laka," the hit song by Hopeton Lewis. It was 1970, and that was the winning festival song for Jamaica's independence celebrations. Some were moving to the beat and singing along....

First chapter, first paragraphs:
Charlie's first memories were of his grandmother, Matilda Wright, Mattie, or Miss Mattie,whom he called Gmaa. She was his world. 
He lived with her in the small country village of Maggoty, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, on the south coast of the island of Jamaica.  
Charles never knew his father. He had died before the boy was born. Charles' mother, Agatha Wright, otherwise known as Mumaa, Agatta, or Gatta, would come to see Charles on Saturdays at his grandmother's house.  
Agatha looked very much like her mother, Miss Mattie. They both had dark skin, broad faces and bright smiles. They were stocky in build and had bright shiny black hair. They both usually wore their hair in the same way - one plait which hung to their waists. The hair was inherited from Gamaa's father who was of East Indian descent. 
    From the publisher: 
"BLOODLINES – AWAKENING” focuses on two children - Cora and Charlie - growing up in two incredible families in rural Jamaica. Some members of these families can make things disappear into nothingness, others seem to effortlessly kill and maim at will. Thrown into this mix, there are loving relationships but also domestic abuse and neglect. Harris uses a combination of Jamaican patois and standard English to introduce the reader to Jamaica's intoxicating sights, sounds, smells and tastes, transporting them to a magical world where paranormal events are not that unusual, and wonder and danger become almost indistinguishable. 
More information about this novel and other books in the LARK SONG CHRONICLES, visit BloodLines - Awakening or Harris's first book, Medusa: The Beginning

About the Author
“Bloodlines” is KD Harris’ second novel. Her first, “Medusa: The Beginning,” published in 2007, received rave reviews. Since then, she has written six more novels and a miniseries for TV. This second novel, though penned for young adults, will also attract the young at heart who delight in seeing wrongs made right and do not mind shedding a few tears or having a good laugh. Harris has authored short stories, poetry and plays which were performed by local drama groups. She is a regular contributor to the blog Four Friends and Their Friends. 

Harris was born and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. Attending university in the United States, she graduated with a Ph.D. in higher education. Excerpts of her writing can be viewed online at Medusa the Beginning by Kathi Harris, and in Kathi Harris’s Book Corner, also on the blog Four Friends and Their Friends. This author lives with her family in Ohio.

By KD Harris
Hardcover | 6 x 9in | 328 pages | ISBN 9781514433683
Softcover | 6 x 9in | 328 pages | ISBN 9781514432457
E-Book | 328 pages | ISBN 9781514431931
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Apr 17, 2016

Sunday Salon: A Cozy Spring

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 sun has finally come out and the temps have warmed up a bit, slowly. No more snow in the forecast for the midwest, unlike states like Colorado. We took down our bird feeders (too many unwanted critters wanted to share the bird seed) and put away the birdbath (no mosquitoes this year, please), but luckily the birds have been coming on their own. Finches and black capped chickadees have been singing away in the trees, robins and starlings prowl the wet grass for worms and insects. A few sparrows are fluttering about among the trees. So happy to see them all. 

A few mystery books for review: 
The first in a new mystery series, A Useful Woman:  A Rosalind Thorne Mystery #1 by Darcie Wilde, to be released May 3, 2016 by Berkley
Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society—including who among the ton is capable of murder...
Murder at Lambswool Farm: Seaside Knitters Mystery #11 by Sally Goldenbaum, to be released May 3, 2016 by NAL
Late summer blooms in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, and while a harvest thrives, Izzy Chambers Perry and the other Seaside Knitters try their sleuthing skills to save a local farm. Unfortunately, finding a killer can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. .

A Finely Knit Murder: Seaside Knitters Mystery #9 by Sally Goldenbaum, published May 5, 2015 by NAL. The sleuthing skills of Izzy Chambers Perry and the Seaside Knitters are tested as death mars the beginning of the school year…

Murder in Morningside Heights: Gaslight Mystery #19 by Victoria Thompson, to be released May 3, 2016 by Berkley. Former police sergeant Frank Malloy and his wife adjust to life in New York high society as they investigate a death in the field of higher learning...

Is it spring in your corner of the world?

Apr 15, 2016

Poetry Review: The Jane and Bertha in Me by Rita Maria Martinez

Visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.
The Jane and Bertha In Me by Rita Maria Martinez, published by Aldrich Press, Kelsay Books, January 12, 2016.
Genre: poetry

This spring marks the bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. In her ambitious and timely debut,The Jane and Bertha in Me, Rita Maria Martinez celebrates Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre. Through wildly inventive, beautifully crafted persona poems, Martinez re-imagines Jane Eyre’s cast of characters in contemporary contexts, from Jane as an Avon saleslady to Bertha as a Stepford wife. These lively, fun, poignant poems prove that Jane Eyre’s fictional universe is just as relevant today as it was so many years ago. The Jane and Bertha in Me is a must-read for any lover of Brontë’s work. (publisher)

My comments:
There are approximately 38 poems in The Jane and Bertha in Me, divided into three sections: Femme Couvert, The Gothic Grotesque, and Promiscuous Reading. 

I found her poetry intense, very detailed and descriptive, imaginative beyond the ordinary. The poet has a keen eye for people and things and an original way with words that pulls the reader into her orb and into her experiences. 

From the first poem in the collection, "Reading Jane Eyre": 
I read in bed, on the bamboo love seat, beneath the shade
of my father’s banana trees. I scarfed the pages like pork rinds,
yuca chips, crackers slathered with guava jelly.
I binged constantly, sunk my canines into text ....
Here you get the sense of her profound interest, likening her enjoyment of the book to the pleasure of eating. 

From "Jane Addresses Edward": 
What you don’t know is that I tossedmy wedding veil from the window, witnessed its inevitable descent,speck of tulle splayed against ground like a wounded wren.
Beautiful use of imagery here, that veil floating down - clear and vivid. 

An entire poem that I loved, "Nautica": 

I was walking toward the post
when a guy whizzed by like a messenger. 
I can’t tell you what he looked like
or what he wore, only that the scent 
of his cologne lingered as if saying hello— 
and that he smelled like you, like the blue flask
of Nautica you kept in the glove
compartment, like my purple turtleneck
on nights I sank into bed carrying 
your scent the way little girls
carry dolls to their beds, the way men
carry loose change in their pockets
all day, without realizing.

The poet recaptured a strong feeling through a passing scent of cologne, a memory of someone that she conveys by skillful use of images of a blue flask, a purple turtleneck, and little girls and their cherished dolls. 

I am overwhelmed by the imaginative descriptive detail from lines in "Ode to Bertha Antoinette Mason": 

Your mandarin voice resonates
among the chinoiserie escritoire, 
the spiced meat stew, silver toothpicks,
spikes of spun sugar, bedizened scarecrows
and giggling fountains in shaggy gardens,

and the evocative imagery in "Reading Jane Eyre II":

I opened a can of alphabet soup
and searched for clues in letters,
life preservers in broth

I was very impressed by the power of Martinez's words. This is a collection of poems that I would like to have by my bedside to read slowly and absorb over time the ways in which Martinez interprets the characters in a book she clearly loves, Jane Eyre.

The Jane and Bertha in Me is a Rubik’s Cube(TM) of Janes. Each poem is a smartly annotated, hauntingly revisionist homage to Jane Eyre. Martinez’s astounding poems are literary, conversational, personal, fun, as she confidently transports her Janes from the Moors to Macy’s, from Thornfield Hall to the world of tattoos.  —Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout
 The Jane and Bertha in Me gives an unusual twist to the well-known characters from Jane Eyre, envisioning Jane at the guidance counselor, Bertha getting a makeover. These persona poems give us greater insight into the minds of madwoman and governess alike and even minor characters like Blanche and Alice, with beautiful, lush language and empathetic vision. Even casual fans of Brontë’s great book will enjoy this lively re-imagining.  —Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
Poet Bio:
Rita Maria Martinez is a Cuban-American poet from Miami, Florida. Her writing has been published in journals including the Notre Dame Review, Ploughshares, MiPOesias, and 2River View. She authored the chapbook Jane-in-the-Box, published by March Street Press in 2008. Her poetry also appears in the textbook Three Genres: The Writing of Fiction/Literary Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama, published by Prentice Hall; and in the anthology Burnt Sugar, Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish, published by Simon & Schuster. Martinez has been a featured author at the Miami Book Fair International; at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida; and at the Palabra Pura reading series sponsored by the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Florida International University.

U.S. residents can purchase a signed copy of The Jane and Bertha in Me from the author’s website, http://comeonhome.org/wordpress_development/

April 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (interview)
April 10: Emma Eden Ramos (review)
April 12: Everything Distils Into Reading (review)
April 15: Book Dilettante (review)
April 16: Suko’s Notebook (review)
April 18: True Book Addict (review)
April 22: Jorie Loves a Story (review)
April 25: Diary of an Eccentric (review)
April 26: Unabridged Chick (review)
April 27: Pretty Purple Polka Dots (review)
April 28: Impressions in Ink (review)
April 30: Create With Joy (review)

Thanks to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for the copy for review. 

Apr 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Art of Murder by Elaine Viets

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 Art of Murder: A Dead-End Job Mystery #15 by Elaine Viets, to be released May 3, 2016 by NAL
From the national bestselling author of Checked Out , Helen Hawthorne must pose as a painter at Fort Lauderdale’s famous Bonnet House Museum to catch an artful killer . . .

I have visited Fort Lauderdale beach many times but never knew about the Bonnet House Museum featured in the book. It's definitely worth a visit next time...

What new release are you waiting for?

Apr 12, 2016

Moss Hysteria by Kate Collins

Moss Hysteria: A Flowershop Mystery #18 by Kate Collins, published April 5, 2016 by NAL
Flower shop owner Abby Knight and her husband Marco’s new neighborhood isn’t as rosy as it seems in the latest Flower Shop Mystery from the author of Florist Grump and A Root Awakening.

Publisher description: When a body is found floating in a nearby pond, the police think Abby and Marco’s helpful next door neighbor is the culprit, but the newlyweds aren’t convinced. 

Opening paragraphs:
"Marco, would you get the door, please?" I waited for a response, but my request was met by silence. The doorbell pealed again, so I stopped unwrapping our mismatched wineglasses to call, "Marco? Where'd you go?" 
He didn't answer - he was probably taking our dog, Seedy, to the backyard - so I stepped around the pile of crumpled newspaper in the kitchen and hurried to the front hallway.... 
I opened the door to find nine women on my porch....
Judging by the number of books in this series - 18 - the flower shop mysteries are pretty popular. Readers who are gardeners and flower lovers as well as cozy readers abound. This series combines the themes. 

The specific topics of Moss Hysteria are newlyweds, a new neighborhood, new neighbors, and secrets to be found in a new environment by our old friends - the amateur sleuths. 

Book Review: The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

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 Strangler Vine, historical fiction by M.J. Carter, published March 15, 2015 by Putnam's Sons 
Setting: India in the early 1800s
Source: library book

The significance of the title as I see it: The strangler vine, a plant in India, feeds on other bushes and trees and covers them up eventually, smothering them. The vine in this case seems to refer to the British East India Company from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century in India, when it took over governing large areas of the country and according to the author, later began to strangle the native culture, customs, and habitat as it became itself enriched.

The book begins with an Historical Note:
The East India Company was launched in 1600 by a group of British merchants with ambitions to trade with the East. Over the next two centuries, it built up[ its own private army and gradually gave up its trading interests in favor of taking over and ruling large parts of India, making money out of taxation and out of its monopoly in the opium trade with China. It became a peculiar mixture of private company and instrument of the British state, and was arguably the world's first multinational. By 1832, the Company dominated the subcontinents, controlling much  of what is now India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, with Calcutta as its capital....
First sentence in the Prologue:
Central India, June 1832
He stumbles out from the mango grove and at that moment the thick monsoon clouds, which color the night a dull charcoal gray, shift. A sliver of moonlight shines through and he sees their bright, curved knives. Had the clouds not parted he would have blundered, laughing, straight through the gates, straight onto their blades. 
Some of the characters in the novel are historical, but the main characters are fictional, though in realistic settings. William Avery, a young soldier, is asked to accompany a secret political agent, Jeremy Blake, to locate a missing writer who is known for his writings about Calcutta society. The writer has gone missing somewhere in India, possibly to find out more about the notorious bandits or Thuggees. What the two searchers find out on their perilous travel shocks them and shocked me as well. And it all revolves around the British East India Company and the lengths it went to in order to justify its position and hold on to India for so long.

Fascinating and somewhat suspenseful storytelling, meticulous background research, and intriguing characters and settings make this a book I would recommend for readers of British/Indian colonial history and fiction.



My rating for The Strangler Vine was 5/5.

Empresses of Seventh Avenue by Nancy MacDonell: Historical Novel

 Fashion in Paris and New York City during WWII   Empresses of Seventh Avenue World War II, New York City, and the Birth of American Fashion...