Feb 29, 2016

Book Tour: Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James

Arsenic and Old Books, a Cat in the Stacks mystery #6 by Miranda James, paperback published February 2, 2016 by Berkley

I had read the hardcover last January 2015 and objectively rated the book a 5 on goodreads. The paperback copy is now out. My brief comments;
Excellent and smooth writing. Enjoyed the characters and the cat Diesel and will be reading the other books in this series.
Publisher description: The New York Times bestselling author of The Silence of the Library returns with a tale of books worth killing for...  
DEAR DIARIES Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, Mississippi, has donated a set of Civil War-era diaries to the archives of Athena College. She would like librarian Charlie Harris to preserve and substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy—something that could benefit her son, Beck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate.  
Beck’s biggest rival would like to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family’s past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But their interest suddenly turns deadly, leaving Charlie with a catalog of questions to answer. Together with his Maine Coon cat Diesel, Charlie must discover why the diaries were worth killing for before he too reaches his final chapter.
The secrets in one of the diaries is a threat to someone in town. Just who it is, what it is and why is the mystery. The book is well written, the characters, cat, and setting interesting, the plot intriguing. I don't like all cat-involved mysteries but I recommend this one for cat and mystery lovers.

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

Feb 28, 2016

Sunday Salon: Surprise 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, and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. 

A surprise win to celebrate the blogiversary of Suzanne at Chick With Books, who very generously sent a novel, the first book in a manga series she wanted to share, and a Hummingbird bookmark which I will most definitely use.


I had seen The Japanese Lover by Allende on several blogs, including Suzanne's, and had it high on my wish list. Goodreads describes it as "an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War."

Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Volume I) is by Fumi Noshinaga, published in 2009, and is one I'm sure that will get me hooked on reading more manga.

The Hummingbird Bookmark will save me from using paper napkins, pencils, combs, and sundry other things to mark my place in books. Thanks and congrats again, Suzanne! 

What new books arrived for you all this week? 

Feb 26, 2016

The Madwoman Upstairs, a Novel by Catherine Lowell

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.
The Mad Woman Upstairs, a literary novel by Catherine Lowell, to be released March 1, 2016 by Touchstone.

"...the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family's long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind." (publisher)

Book beginning: 
The night I arrived at Oxford, I learned that my dorm room was built in 1361 and had originally been used to quarantine victims of the plague. The college porter seemed genuinely apologetic a he led me up the five flights of stairs to my tower. He was a nervous man - short and mouthy, with teeth like a nurse shark - who admitted through a brittle accent that Old College was over-enrolled this year, and that the deans has been forced to find space for students wherever they could. This tower was an annex to Old College. Many tragic and important people had lived here before me, apparently: had I heard of Timothy the Terrible? Sir Michael "the Madman" Morehouse? I shook my head and said that i was sorry - I was American. 

Page 56:
I marveled at their ability to create characters that bore no resemblance to their own selves whatsoever. Were they geniuses in a world of losers? Or were there glimmers of themselves in even their most outlandish fictional creations?

I rated this book a 5/5. 

Feb 25, 2016

Book Feature: No Cats Allowed by Miranda James

No Cats Allowed (Cat in the Stacks #7) by Miranda James, published February 23, 2016 by Berkley.

MIssissippi librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel must clear a friend, Melba, when she is accused of a murder she didn't commit… 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? 

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?"
Teaser:
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. 

Feb 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: March Cozy Mysteries

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.
Mrs. Jeffries Wins the Prize, a cozy mystery by Emily Brightwell, will be released March 1, 2016 by Berkley. It's the 34th in the series, so I expect it will be good! When Hiram Filmore, an orchid hunter and supplier, is found dead in Mrs. Helena Rayburn’s conservatory, Inspector Witherspoon is called in to weed out a murderer. Detecting sleuth, Mrs. Jefferies, also comes to the rescue!
Kernel of Truth, a new series in a Popcorn Shop Mystery by Kristi Abbott, to be published March 1, 2016 by Berkley. This one has a dog for a sleuthing companion! Featuring gourmet popcorn entrepreneur Rebecca Anderson and her poodle Sprocket. Rebecca finds that her potential business partner Coco has been killed and set out to solve the mystery. 

What new books are you eyeing for March?

Feb 21, 2016

Sunday Salon: New Reads - Cambodia Noir and When Falcons Fall

 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 Mad Woman Upstairs, an adventure novel by Catherine Lowell, to be published March 1, 2016 by Touchstone.
"...the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family's long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind." (publisher)


Cambodia Noir, thriller/adventure by Nicholas Seeley, to be released March 15, 2016 by Scribner.  
Phnom Penh, Cambodia: the end of the line. Lawless, drug-soaked, forgotten—it's where bad journalists go to die. For once-great war photographer Will Keller, that's kind of a mission statement: he spends his days floating from one score to the next, taking any job that pays; his nights are a haze of sex, drugs, booze, and brawling. But Will's spiral toward oblivion is interrupted by Kara Saito, a beautiful young woman who shows up and begs Will to help find her sister, June, who disappeared during a stint as an intern at the local paper (publisher)


When Falcons Fall, the 11th in the Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series by C.S. Harris, to be released March 1, 2016 by NAL.
Ayleswick-on-Teme, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village to honor a slain friend and on a quest to learn more about his own ancestry. But when the body of a lovely widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help. (publisher)

I've reviewed the 7th in the series, When Maidens Mourn, and look forward to this one. 

Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte, published February 9, 2016 by William Morrow
"... a sweeping comic portrait of privilege, ambition, and friendship in millennial San Francisco." (publisher)

Currently reading:
How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz, published May 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Genre: women's fiction, contemporary fiction
I have recently finished and reviewed Lutz's most recent novel, a thriller, The Passengerand am now reading another published last year, How To Start a Fire, a book about three college friends and their lives and relationships after.
I have the fifth in her private investigator Spellman series, Trail of the Spellmans on my TBR list. She is becoming one of my favorite authors.

What's on your reading list this week?

Feb 20, 2016

Book Review: Dishing the Dirt by M.C. Beaton

Dishing the Dirt by M.C. Beaton, published September 15, 2015 by Minotaur.
Genre: cozy mystery
Source: library
Rating: 4.5/5
I can't believe this is the 26th in the mystery series and that I've read almost all of them. The main character Agatha's eccentricities are endearing, so I enjoy following her escapades in the little Cotswold village of Carsley!

Agatha has friends and allies who appear in almost all of the books: the vicar's wife, Mrs. Bloxby; a faithful helper, her cleaner and cat sitter Doris; her occasional lover and ally, Sir Charles Fraith; her ex-husband and neighbor James Lacey; her friend on the police force Detective Sergeant Bill Wong; a team of employees at her detective agency in Carsley, and a few others whom we get to know more in every book.

In this latest mystery, Agatha is incensed when a new therapist in the village spreads gossip about Agatha's very humble or "poor beginnings." When the therapist Jill is found strangled in her home, Agatha is a suspect and tries to find the real murderer, who goes on to pick off others who might identify him. Agatha blunders about in her investigation, as usual, but her sharp intuition helps her out in all situations, including this one.

I loved this book and was all set to give it a full five stars, but felt the author didn't seem to want to end it and wanted to start on the next story right away. In other words, the book could have been a couple of pages shorter as I don't think M.C. Beaton needed to set the stage so firmly for the next Agatha mystery. We are already with her all the way.

Feb 19, 2016

KEEP CALM by Mike Binder: Book Beginning

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.
Keep Calmpolitical thriller by Mike Binder, published February 2, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.

Book beginning:
The bomb went off at 10 Downing Street just after six p.m. Georgia had been in the small private bathroom off her office at Number 11, tring once again, as usual, to make some sense of her hair before she met with Alistair Stephenson, the minister of education.She had just taken her third pain pill of the day. The ache in her leg was a distant irritant most times now, sporadically troublesome in the morning or after a long day of travel, but the pills made the tumult of her life easier to deal with, so she ate them gladly, like bright red rock candy. 
Page 56:
"If he isn't to pull through? What is the plan then, Madam Chancellor?"

Book description: When a bombing at 10 Downing Street wounds the Prime Minister and tests Great Britain's resolve, American ex-cop Adam Tatum must confront a conspiracy in the highest halls of power

I don't normally read political thrillers set in the future, but this may be a good What If? plot. What do you think? 

Feb 16, 2016

First Chapter: The Two of Us by Andy Jones

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 Two of Us by Andy Jones, paperback published February 9, 2016. From Washington Square Press

First chapter, first paragraph:
People ask: How long have you been together? 
How did you meet?You're sitting at a table, fizzing with the defiant ostentation of new love (Is that what it is? Is it love already?), laughing too loud and kissing more enthusiastically than is de riguer in a quiet country pub, and someone will say, Put her down! Get a room! You make a lovely couple, or some variation on the theme. 
Book description:
Fisher and Ivy discover that falling in love is one thing, but staying there is an entirely different story.

Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works in an advertising agency; at weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.

Would you keep reading based on the first paragraphs?

Feb 15, 2016

Book Review: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz


Lisa Lutz's thriller, The Passenger, is the story of a woman's attempts to change her identity and start a new life away from a troubled past.
In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...
Tanya DuBois finds her abusive husband Frank dead at the bottom of the stairs, and decides to make a run for it rather than try to explain or prove her innocence.  She gets help from the mysterious Mr. Oliver, who provides her with a new passport, social security number, and money.

Tanya has to change her name several times, however, switching identities once with a bartender named Blue, who gives her enough ID for Tanya to become a grade school teacher in a small rustic town in Colorado. But her past always reaches out to her, till finally she decides to return home to face the music and her real name.

I enjoyed the suspense of this woman on the run, who narrowly escapes detection all along her way. So what if she and Blue become vigilantes to preserve their new identities. It's okay as long as it's fiction. In real life, however, I might not be so forgiving....

An intriguing read, a good plot, this latest thriller by Lisa Lutz's I would rate 4/5.

Thanks to the publisher for an ARC for my objective review.  The book will be released March 1, 2016 by Simon and Schuster.

Feb 14, 2016

Sunday Salon: It's Too Cold Outside to Do Anything But Read

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. 

Came home from a short trip to sunny LA and found snow and frigid temps in Ohio and also a few new books to temper the sudden shift from 80-degree LA to 19-degree Ohio.

Remembrance by Meg Cabot, fantasy published February 2, 2016, William Morrow. The 7th in the Mediator novels.
Everything's Relative, contemporary women's fiction by Jenna McCarthy, published February 2, 2016 by Berkley
Keep Calm, political thriller by Mike Binder, published February 2, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.
The House on Primrose Pond, contemporary fiction by Yona Zeldis McDonough, published February 2, 2016 by NAL
North of Here, contemporary fiction/romance by Laurel Saville, to be released March 1, 2016 by Lake Union Publishing. For a TLC book tour review in March. 

I am currently reading Lisa Lutz's thriller, The Passenger, and enjoying the story of a woman's attempts to change her identity and start a new life away from a troubled past. 

Feb 10, 2016

Book Reviewers Wanted for Book Blog

Luxury Reading is looking for book reviewers to post reviews in exchange for free books.

I already post my reviews here on my own Book Dilettante, but if you don't have a blog and you want to write reviews, this may be an opportunity for you!

http://luxuryreading.com/reviewer3/

Waiting on Wednesday: Devonshire Scream by Laura Childs

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.
I have really enjoyed many of the Teashop Mysteries by Laura Childs, and this is the 17th in the series, which shows how popular the story line is. Devonshire Scream is to be released in hardcover on March 1, 2016. Part of the popularity is due to the recipes that are included in the books!

Book description from the publisher: 
Catering a trunk show at Heart's Desire Jewelry is a shining achievement for Theodosia and the Indigo Tea Shop. After all, a slew of jewelers, museums, and private collectors will be there to showcase their wares and sip some of Theo's best blends. But the party is crashed by masked muggers who rob the precious gems and jewels on display, leaving shattered glass, scattered gemstones, and a dead body in their wake. 

Theo can't help but intercede when her dear friend Brooke, aunt of the victim and owner of Heart's Desire, begs for help. Though the FBI believes this "smash and grab" is the work of an international gang of jewel thieves, Theo is convinced that the felon is someone much closer to home...

What new book are you waiting for to be published?

Sharon A. Katz will be reviewing the book and giving away two autographed copies on Feb. 29. Visit her at https://sharonreadsblog.wordpress.com/

Feb 3, 2016

Featured Book: Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb

Brotherhood in Death (In Death #42) by J. D. Robb, published Februry 2, 2016 by Berkley

Sometimes brotherhood can be another word for conspiracy...

Book description: Dennis Mira just learned that his cousin Edward was secretly meeting with a real estate agent to sell their late grandfather’s magnificent West Village brownstone, despite the promise to keep it in the family. Then, when he went to the house to confront Edward about it, he got a blunt object to the back of the head. (publisher)

The victim: "former lawyer, judge, and senator, Edward Mira, who mingled with the elite and crossed paths with criminals, making enemies on a regular basis."

Conflict: ...the disappearance of a powerful man, the family discord over a multimillion-dollar piece of real estate" 

Opening paragraph (Ch. 1):
After a long, tedious day -- the first half spent in court, the second half with paperwork - Lieutenant Eve Dallas prepared to shut it all down. 
At the moment all she wanted out of life was a quiet evening with her husband, the cat, and a glass - or two - of wine. Maybe a vid, she thought as she grabbed her coat, if Roarke hadn't brought too much work home.  
Quotes are from the book and from goodreads. 

Feb 2, 2016

Review: The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

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 Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida, published June 2, 2015
Genre: literary suspense
Rating: 5/5
Source: library

A young woman takes off on her own to a foreign country and has to survive after her passport and wallet are stolen. 

How she gets through the scrapes she gets into in an unfamiliar country is the basis of the novel. A little suspenseful and a bit of a travelogue at the same time, it shows what can happen to unsuspecting travelers - pickpockets, an unreliable police system, unfamiliarity with a new culture and customs, etc. 

I really enjoyed this young woman's travel and how she survives and takes on a new persona as she is stripped of her old possessions or discards them as she has to face new situations. Running away from an unpleasant situation in her past, she comes to terms with the present and begins to create a new self.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to finish this book.That's how interesting I found the character and how well written the story.

First chapter, first paragraph: 
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. What's to stop you from having a conversation with this man, possibly even ordering two vodka tonics with the little lemon wedges that the flight attendant will place into our plastic cups with silver tongs? He's about your age, thirty-three, and, like you, appears to be traveling alone. 
How does the first paragraph grab you. Does it make you want to read on?