Jul 31, 2016

Sunday Salon: Advanced Readers Editions

Three new books have been added to my shelves.

Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett, advanced readers edition, published 2016.
"One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them." (publisher)
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, advanced readers edition published June 28, 2016
"Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse." (publisher)
Intimations: Stories by Alexandra Kleeman, proof, to be published September 13, 2016 by Harper
A collection of twelve stories irresistibly seductive in their strangeness explores human life from beginning to end: the distress of birth into a world already formed; the brief and confusing period of “living” where we understand what is expected of us and struggle to do it; and the death-y period toward the end where we sense it is ending and will end only partially understood, at best. (publisher)

Are you reading more, or less, in this summer heat? Summer makes me want to read more, it seems.

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

Jul 27, 2016

Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee: Waiting on Wednesday

A new thriller for summer reading:
Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee, to be published August 16, 2016 by Atria Books
A debut novel about an intense best friendship between two college girls which leads to the abrupt disappearance—and presumed death—of one and the survival of the other, who reveals the twists and turns of their relationship seven years later. (publisher)

Setting: New York City, Costa Rica, secluded island
Characters: Glo, Cyn, Raj in a romance triangle 

What book release are you waiting on?
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Jul 26, 2016

Book Review: The Ninja's Daughter by Susan Spann

The 16th century Japan setting by Susan Spann makes the Hiro Hattori novels a unique historical mystery series.  This is the fourth in the series.
The Ninja's Daughter: A Hiro Hattori  Novel by Susan Spann, to be published August 2, 2016 by Seventh Street Books
Autumn, 1565: When an actor's daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto's Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim's only hope for justice. This is the fourth in the historical mystery series set in Japan. (publisher)

The characters and setting are intriguing. Hiro is a shinobi or ninja who is tasked with protecting the life of Portuguese Jesuit, Father Mateo, while the priest is living in Japan. Hiro poses as a translator and interpreter for Mateo, and is seen by the shogun's officers as a ronin, or a samurai without a master.  Father Mateo likes to dabble in crime solving while ministering to the Christians in the region, and helps Hiro in his detecting. 

The relationship between the priest and the shinobi brings the novel and the times to life, showing the differences between East and West during this period. Hiro has to constantly remind Mateo about what he can or cannot do or say in order to stay safe from the shogun's officers and not to create offense to the people. Mateo brings more sympathy and understanding of the characters they encounter. Together they solve the crime and help bring a criminal to light.

The plot and the action in The Ninja's Daughter reveal much about Japanese traditional culture and customs of the time. The two sleuths have to understand motivation and circumstance in order to find the real murderer of the actor's daughter found dead on the banks of the river. There are many suspects and the most obvious one is not necessarily the right one. 

Beginning paragraphs, chapter 1:

Knocking echoed through the silent house.
Hattori Hiro sat up in the darkness and pushed his quilt aside. His cat, Gato, tumbled to the floor. She mewed in protest.
Careful footsteps passed the door to Hiro's room. He recognized the pace of Ana, the housekeeper who cooked and cleaned for the Portuguese priest whose home they shared. Her rapid response told Hiro sunrise must be close at hand. Only a person already awake and dressed would reach the door so quickly. 

Suspects: The actor, Satsu, the father of the dead girl, is a suspect in this murder that is brought to Hiro's attention. The girl Emi had a thirst for freedom and wanted to live life on her own terms, to open her own teahouse and not marry as her family wished. Her actions might bring shame to the actor, who relies on his and his family's good reputation to advance in his career. 

The boy Emi was supposed to marry is also a suspect, as is her brother-in-law, the husband of her older sister. The solving of the mystery comes after much deliberation and snooping by Hiro and Mateo, who put their lives on the line while trying to avoid the Shogun's police and officers. 

Recommendation: This is another excellent, atmospheric mystery novel with enough twists and turns and suspense to kept me very interested. The characters are realistic, individualistic, and very likeable and I look forward to reading more about them in future books in the series.

About the author:
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 the author/publisher and TLC Book Tours for an ARC of this book for review. For other reviews of The Ninja's Daughter, visit the tour schedule

Meme: Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading 

First Chapter: The Odyssey: A Novel of Homer's Odyssey by Patrick Dillon

I loved the Odyssey and am eager to read a new retelling featuring Telemachus, Odysseus's son left behind when his father embarked on his epic journey.

Ithaca: A Novel of Homer's Odyssey by Patrick Dillon, published July 5, 2016 re-tells Homer’s famous poem, The Odyssey, from the point of view of Odysseus’ resourceful and troubled son, describing Odysseus’s extraordinary voyage from Troy to the gates of hell, and Telemachus’s own journey from boyhood to the desperate struggle that wins back his home … and his father. (publisher)

First paragraph:
When I was younger my mother used to tell me stories. Always about my father.
 The time they met - already knowing they were to be married - and spent the night on the mountain above her father's home, and Odysseus cut a sprig of laurel leaves that they swore to keep forever. The first boar he killed, aged sixteen - the age I am now. His friends had been left behind in a frantic chase through the forests. In its first charge, the beast, a monster, gored Odysseus's thigh, but he ignored the pain and hurled himself on the animal with a spear. His friends found him that evening, lying bloodied but alive across the boar's carcass. 
Would you keep reading, based on the first paragraph?

Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading or plan to read soon. 

Jul 24, 2016

Mailbox Monday: Romance and Fantasy

A new romance novel and a children's fantasy novel are among my new reads this week.

Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all too human characters, “It Ends with Us” will be published August 2, 2016. It is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price. (publisher)
When the Sea Turned to Silver is a children's fantasy written and illustrated by Newbery Honor author Grace Lin. It will be published October 16, 2016. A breathtaking, full-color illustrated fantasy inspired by Chinese folklore, a companion to the Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (publisher)

What is new in your mailbox this week?
Visit Mailbox Monday to see what new books other bloggers have received the past week. 

Jul 23, 2016

Sunday Salon: Novels and Oral Storytelling

An Amish mystery novel, In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen arrived this week, and I began reading it right away, interested in the setting in an Amish farming  community in Pennsylvania. The book is fiction but is written by an author who grew up in and lives in Lancaster County in Pa.
In The Land of Milk and Honey is the second in the Elizabeth Harris mystery series to be released August 2, 2016. Elizabeth Harris is a homicide detective who used to work in the NYPD, but who now works in Pa., living with her boyfriend, a former member of the Amish community.

Elizabeth is called in to help solve the mystery of the overnight death of an Amish family who seemed to have succumbed to the flu, but whose milk cows are also found to be sick and dying. I am in the middle of the novel and can't wait to find out what  and who is causing the deaths and sickness that is spreading in the Amish community.

A new galley on my desk, PhDeath, is a thriller by an author who has recommendations from writers and critics such as Pico Iyer and the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig. This is making me very anxious to read the book, the first of the Puzzler Murders by James P. Carse. It will be released September 15, 2016 by Opus Books.

The Kingdom: a Novel  by Fuminori Nakamura was published July 12, 2016 by Soho Press. I posted a review on July 16. I enjoyed this noir thriller, set in the Tokyo underground, that had me rooting for its unconventional main character.

It has been so hot these past few weeks! We spend four days in Kansas City where it was just as hot as here at home, if not more. The highlight of the trip for me was not only the perfect air conditioned room with its brand new furniture and decor in the renovated hotel, but attending a pre-conference "concert" of the National Storytelling Conference held at the hotel by the National Storytelling Network. We listened to five experienced storytellers, at least two of whom brought us to tears with their stories and dramatic performances. Storytelling certainly is a very creative artform.

Are any of you oral storytellers as well as readers and writers?

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

Jul 17, 2016

Sunday Salon: Nursing, Knitting, and a Healing Garden

A needlecraft mystery novel and an historical mystery set in old San Francisco are my newest books.

No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman is the second in the Mystery of Old San Francisco series. It will be released August 2, 2016.
Main character and sleuth: British-born nurse Celia Davies, who runs a free medical clinic for the poor women of San Francisco.
Setting: San Francisco, 1807.
Knit Your Own Murder is the 19th in the Needlecraft Mysteries by Monica Ferris. This one will also be released August 2, 2016.
Main character and amateur sleuth: Betsy Devonshire, needleshop owner, finds out what's behind the death by poisoning of a local businesswoman.
Setting: the meeting of a knitting group called the Monday Bunch.

I am also reading a cozy involving plants and gardening, Murder in the Secret Garden  by Ellery Adams, third in the Book Retreat Mysteries. I loved the idea of a Healing Garden mentioned in the novel, an old idea that entailed elaborate and detailed planning. But I think any garden that is "visually pleasing" can be termed "healing" if it brings joy or relieves stress in the gardener and also neighbors and others passing by.

How many of you find puttering in the garden relaxing? Here is a list of cozy mystery writers compiled by the Cozy Mystery Blog List

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

Jul 16, 2016

Noir Novel: The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura, a review

The Kingdom: a Novel by Fuminori Nakamura was an excellent, shorter read. A noir novel with a young woman in dangerous circumstances who nevertheless has you rooting for her. I read it over a month ago and plan to read it again in the future. It was published July 12, 2016 by Soho Press.

Book description: Yurika is a freelancer in the Tokyo underworld. She poses as a prostitute, targeting powerful and high-profile men whom she drugs and takes incriminating photos to sell for blackmail purposes. She knows very little about the organization she’s working for, operates alone and lives a private, solitary life.

But when a figure from Yurika’s past emerges, she realizes there is someone out there who knows all her secrets. Yurika finds herself trapped in a game of cat and mouse. Is she wily enough to escape one of the most sadistic men in Tokyo?

First paragraphs:
When did I realize I would never get what I wanted most? 
Maybe I was in my twenties. Or maybe I was a child, just old enough to make sense of the world. Back when I did nothing but glare at everyone around me, what I wanted most was far away. It was not something tangible.It made my skin burn. It ignored all the rules. It went beyond morals and reason. It was something that could overturn the foundations of everything I thought my life would become. I wonder if I still want it. What would I do if I get it?
My comments: Yurika is a sympathetic character in spite of her job entrapping well-known or wealthy men in sexual situations for blackmail purposes. Though she is not directly involved in the blackmail per se, she makes her living by following orders as a free lance character working for a criminal underworld.

When things begin to catch up with her and her life becomes dangerous because of Kizaki, who comes into her life, we easily root for Yurika to save herself and get out of danger, to even thrive and come out on top of the underworld that wants to keep her in.

An excellent read, a likeable character, and an intriguing plot. I've also enjoyed Nakamura's other noir novels, The Thief and Evil and the Mask. 

Jul 15, 2016

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen: Book Beginning

The tenth mystery novel in the series by Rhys Bowen, set in the 1930s,  is getting good reviews.
Crowned and Dangerous: A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen, to be released August 2, 2016 by Berkley. Thirty-fifth in line for the British crown and with plans to elope, Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her beau Darcy O’Mara hope to bypass a few royal rules... But news that her future father-in-law has just been arrested sops thoughts of marriage, for the moment. It seems a rich American was murdered and Darcy’s father had more than enough motive. With the elopement postponed,  they head for Ireland where Darcy's father insists he’s innocent. (amazon)

Book beginning:
I was in a motorcar, sitting beside Darcy, and we were driving northward, out of London. He had whisked me away earlier that day, after we had both attended Princess Marina's wedding to the Duke of Kent. I first thought I was being taken for a romantic dinner. Then, as we left the streets of London behind, I began to suspect it may not be a dinner we were going to but a hotel in a naughty place like Brighton. But we were heading north, not south, and I couldn't think of any naughty places to the north of London. Surely nobody goes to the industrial grime of the Midlands to be naughty? I suppose in a way I was relieved. Much as I wanted to spend the night with Darcy, and heaven knows we had waited long enough, there was also that element of worry about the consequences. 
Page 56:
"Then he will need friends to stick by him," I retorted. "And fortunately Darcy seems to have plenty of friends, including me."

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.

Jul 12, 2016

First Chapter: Gone With the Wool by Betty Hechtman

The colorful book cover of this cozy mystery caught my eye right away - butterflies, a cat, and a basket of yarn!
Gone with the WoolA Yarn Retreat Mystery by Betty Hechtman, published July 5, 2016
Every October, thousands of monarch butterflies flock to California’s Monterey Peninsula to spend the winter. Cadbury by the Sea holds a week long festival with a butterfly queen and her court. 
Casey Feldstein finds herself fluttering back and forth between setting up a yarn retreat, baking and helping out at the festival. But when a former butterfly queen is found dead after a Bless the Butterflies service, Casey must hook a killer with a score to settle.

First paragraph:
Why hadn't I realized this problem before?
The bright red tote bag with Yarn2Go emblazoned on the front fell over as I tried to cram in the long knitting loom for my upcoming yarn retreat. My selection of round looms rolled across the floor before falling flat. The other long looms scattered at my feet. Julius, my black cat, watched from his spot on the leather love seat in the room I called my office as I gathered up the odd-looking pieces of equipment. 

Based on the first paragraphs, would you read on?

Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.  

Jul 10, 2016

Sunday Salon: Romance, Adventure, Memoir

A romance novel, an adventure novel, and a memoir are among the new additions to my bookshelves.

The Last Treasure by Erika Marks is a new adventure and romance novel about three college friends involved in a search for a lost nineteenth century schooner along the Carolina Banks.

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens will be out in paperback this week by Simon and Schuster.
Four young hikers have to rely on each other when they become lost in a mountain wilderness.

Dressing a Tiger: A Memoir by Maggie San Miguel hasn't been listed with amazon or goodreads as yet, so I couldn't get a cover photo to post. To be released in October, it is by a woman who grew up in a mob family. The link above is for the Kirkus review of the memoir.

I borrowed from the library and finished M.C, Beaton's new mystery, Death of a Nurse, in less than a day. Here is my goodreads mini review:

Another excellent and entertaining Hamish Macbeth mystery novel. This time Hamish shares the spotlight with his new policeman in the Highlands village station, Charley. I hope the personable and likeable Charley sticks around for a while, unlike the previous policemen sent out to help Hamish, who eventually left for one reason or another.
My current read is Jane Green's new romance and contemporary fiction, Falling,

which I'm reading for a book tour organized by the publisher. A former banker leaves a high-powered job in NYC for a quiet waterfront town in Connecticut and has to find a new home, a new career, and a new love. Of course, she does all three.

New resolutions: Since I have to cull my books because of lack of space, I've decided to give away lighter general fiction, keeping mystery novels, literary novels, and all nonfiction. That breaks my heart, but I have found a few nonprofit service organizations that should put the books to good use.

Keep cool for the rest of this week!
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

Jul 8, 2016

The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson: Book Beginning

The Summer Guesthistorical fiction by Alison Anderson, May 24, 2016 by HarperCollins. Blinded by a fatal illness, young Ukrainian doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova is living on her family’s rural estate in the summer of 1888. When a family from Moscow rents a cottage on the grounds, Zinaida develops a deep bond with one of their sons, a doctor and writer of modest but growing fame called Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.

Zinaida's journal is based on a true story and on the little known about her from the letters and the obituary Chekhov wrote  for her when she died.  (publisher)

Book beginning:
The road is leading into the distance, the distance where we are going and which we cannot see; there is a slight rise toward the horizon and tall grass and a long line of poplar trees. It's deserted, we have the whole world to ourselves, the tall grass is bending to the breeze.... (more)

She was pleased with her words.

Well, not exactly her words; they were meant to be his words, and only as she reported them. Perhaps he had said something quite different. They had been for a ride in the carriage, and these words were a gift of vision, a way of helping her see the world. The difficulty lay in capturing a moment; his voice, its warmth and depth, was lost already. What could a short paragraph do to convey so much - the road, the trees, the sky, the light, a whole vista no one could see now, except through words?  And his presence there, with her, a brief respite in her darkness, his breath, his low laughter.

Page 56:
Don't apologize, Zinaida Mikhailovna. You are right. I'm going to give serious thought to starting a novel. I now you will be an ally. But please don't mention it to the others -- my sister Masha, or my friends when they arrive. They'll only badger me, in their way. 

I was impressed that the author has written novels on Amelia Earhart and a romance inspired by Darwin, and is also a literary translator, the translator of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, one of my favorite books.  I find her writing elegant. I hope to finish The Summer Guest this summer!

Memes: 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.

Jul 5, 2016

First Chapter: Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas

The winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award (2007), Iris and Ruby, is about a grandmother-granddaughter relationship, with flashbacks to the grandmother's early history in Egypt. The novel was reprinted April 2016. I started it several weeks ago but then got sidetracked by new arrivals! It's one I'm looking forward to reading in its entirety.

Iris and Ruby: A Novel by Rosie Thomas, published April 5, 2016 by The Overlook Press
Setting: Cairo
Genre: romance, part historical fiction

First chapter, first paragraph:

I remember.
And even as I say the words aloud in the silent room and hear the whisper dying away in the shadows of the house, I realize that it's not true. 
Because I don't, I can't remember. 
I am old and am beginning to forget things.
Sometimes I'm aware that great tracts of memory have gone, slipping and melting away out of my reach. When I try to recall a particular day, or an entire year, even a damned decade, if I'm lucky there are the bare facts unadorned with color. More often than otherwise there's nothing at all. A blank. 

Book description: 
Iris Black's Cairo house is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of willful granddaughter Ruby from England. Ruby helps Iris document deteriorating memories of glittering, cosmopolitan Cairo and her WWII one true love, enigmatic Captain Xan Molyneux, who was lost to war. Iris’ early devastation shaped her daughter, granddaughter, and leads them into terrible danger in the Egyptian desert.

Teaser from Chapter 5:

"Ruby, do you remember we talked about you helping me to collect some of my old memories?"

Memes: Every Tuesday Bibliophile By the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where readers share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon. 

Do the book description and first paragraph of the first chapter above appeal to you? Would you read on?

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Jul 3, 2016

Sunday Salon: A Working Weekend

We had planned a getaway this weekend but then decided to stay home and fix up house - painting and decluttering in prep for visitors later this summer. It's working out okay and good to get things done, though I'd rather be at the beach! Happy Fourth!

Two new cozies:

Spells and Scones: Magical Bakery Mystery #6 by Bailey Cates, to be released July 26, 2016, NAL
There's a body in the bookshop in this latest novel from theNew York Times bestselling author of the Magical Bakery mysteries...

A Grave Prediction: Psychic Eye Mystery #14 by Victoria Laurie, to be released July 26, 2016,
Abby has to prepare herself for one steep uphill battle when she’s sent to San Diego to help train FBI officers to use their intuition. I am looking forward to reading this.

I have two boxes of books to give away next week. My shelves are full and I need the space! What a sad dilemma! What are you up to this holiday weekend! Enjoy the fireworks!

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

Jul 1, 2016

Book Beginning: Books of a Feather by Kate Carlisle

A cozy mystery, the tenth in the Bibliophile Mystery series.
Books of a Feather: A Bibliophile Mystery #10 by Kate Carlisle
San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright’s latest project is for the birds, but it may have her running for her life. 

First paragraph, first chapter:
The air inside the old bookshop was thick with the heady scents of aged vellum and rich old leathers. Heaven. I breathed in the lovely pulpy odors as I climbed the precarious rolling ladder up to the crowded top shelf to start cataloging books.

The aisles of the shop were narrow, barely three feet wide,  which meant I could reach out and touch the volumes on the sides of the aisle - if I was willing to let go of the wobbly handrail, which I wasn't. 

Page 56: 
"Let her in," Inspector Lee grumbled. "She's already got her footprints all over the place anyway."

Book description: Covington Library is hosting an exhibit of John James Audubon’s massive masterpiece, Birds of America. Brooklyn is approached by Jared Mulrooney, the president of the National Birdwatchers Society, to repair a less high-profile book of Audubon drawings. But when Mulrooney’s body is discovered in the library, rumors fly about a motive for murder. 

 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.

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...