Mar 30, 2016

Book Review: Night Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron

Night Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron, published December 8, 2015 by William Morrow Paperback. A tale of domestic noir, infused with old Hollywood folklore and glamour, set in a town rife with egotism and backstabbing and where fame and infamy are often interchangeable. Los Angeles 1986. (publisher)
My comments: 
In this mystery novel, compromise, in the most extreme case, allows famous Hollywood and Beverly Hills residents to preserve their reputation, enhance their fame, and hide their sins. That is, until Deidre, injured in an accident some twenty years ago in a car driven recklessly by her well-known screen writer father, decides to unearth some secrets. 

First, there is the mystery of her father's sudden death in his pool, a fire that destroys the papers in his garage office, and some puzzling photos and items that Deidre finds among her father's things before the fire. She gets to the bottom of the mystery, but at a price. A Hollywood price of compromise and cover ups.


I liked Ephron's book, There Was An Old Woman, and gave this one four stars as well. Suspenseful, the plot leads you on to follow to the very end, to it's less than perfect but perfectly acceptable Hollywood-style ending. 


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

Mar 29, 2016

First Chapter: The Last Goodnight by Howard Blum

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 Last Goodnight: a World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure & Betrayal by Howard Blum, to be released April 12, 2016 by Harper. The book is described as a "biography of Betty Pack, the dazzling American debutante who became an Allied spy during WWII and was hailed by OSS chief General “Wild Bill" Donovan as “the greatest unsung heroine of the war.” 

First paragraph, first chapter:
Betty Pack had planned her escape from the castle with great care. Too often impulsive - her greatest fault, she would frequently concede - she had deliberately plotted this operation with the long-dormant discipline acquired during her dangerous time decades ago in the field. Yet on the blustery morning of March 1, 1963, Betty, otherwise known in the tiny village in the French Pyrenees that lay just beyond the stone walls of the ancient castle as Mme Brousse, the American-born chatelaine of Castelnou, and who in a previous life had been known to an even smaller circle as the agent code-named Cynthia, was having doubts. 
Based on the opening paragraph, would you read on?

Mar 26, 2016

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

A library book that I read after recommendations by several bloggers: The Light Between Oceans was published 2013 by Scribner. It 's about a lighthouse couple in Australia who find a baby girl ship wrecked or boat wrecked on their beach and who decide to keep her as their own. 

Big mistake. But the man, Tom, gives in to his wife's importuning as she manipulates him into keeping the baby. She has lost three children, one just recently stillborn, and he cannot find it easy to deny her this child washed up on their shore with no identifying clues except for an expensive silver rattle. 

Even after Tom suspects who the real mother might be, another grieving woman who has lost both husband and child, he is loath to reveal the truth about the little girl that people think is his own. 

Recommendation: I found this novel very thought-provoking, a look at the dynamics of childlessness and some reasons behind child abductions, a not too infrequent occurrence. Conscience, empathy, honor and loyalty all come into play in this story. Well written and developed, it's a novel I heartily recommend.

Sunday Salon: Island Novels

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. 

Now I can read comfortably in bed! Bought myself an Easter present, in advance - a new bed with motorized base that allows me to raise to sit up mode and raise legs to comfort mode. Can't wait for delivery! Maybe I'll stay in bed all day (the first day, that is).

Here are two new books for April, both set on islands:


A Man of Genius, a gothic novel by Janet Todd, to be released April 12, 2016 by Bitter lemon Press

"A quirky, darkly mischievous novel about love, obsession and the burden of charisma, played out against the backdrop of Venice's watery, decadent glory." Sarah Dunant

‘A mesmerizing story of love and obsession in nineteenth century Venice: dark and utterly compelling." Natasha Solomons


Sounds brooding and fit for Venice!

Braking for Bodies: A Cycle Path Mystery by Duffy Brown, to be released April 5, 2016 by Berkley

Moving from Los Angeles to picturesque Mackinac Island  in Upper Michigan to work in a bike shop, Evie knows it’s the best decision she’s ever made. 

“Sparkling dialogue, an unforgettable island setting, and all the charm a cozy mystery fan would want.”—Ellery Adams, New York Times bestselling author of the Books by the Bay Mysteries


A book I won from Shelf Awareness - The Underdogs!
The Underdogs Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love by Melissa Fay Greene, to be released May 17, 2016 by Ecco.
"...a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder." 

What's on your reading chair/bed this week? 

Mar 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: An Unhappy Medium by Dawn Eastman

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.
An Unhappy Medium: A Family Fortune Mystery by Dawn Eastman
Release date: April 5, 2016 by Berkley

Publisher description:
"Former cop, novice psychic Clyde Fortune is in a race for justice when a Zombie Fun Run turns deadly...

Crystal Haven, Michigan, is psyching up for a Zombie Fun Run, but Clyde is fretful about the undead festivities. For one thing, her sister, Grace, has unexpectedly returned to town after fifteen years. When one of the zombie runners is found murdered and then Grace disappears, Clyde must find a ghoulish murderer before someone points the finger at Grace. And when a web of family secrets combines with a mysterious case of stolen diamonds..."

I don't normally read zombie, supernatural, or paranormal cozies, but I got caught by how this one began!

Opening sentence:
My chest burned, my legs ached, and I felt a cramp in the vicinity of my liver.

Laughing out loud, I wanted to read on...

Mar 22, 2016

First Chapter: When Falcons Fall by C.S. 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.
When Falcons Fall: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris, published March 1, 2016 by NAL
Setting: 
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. (publisher)

First paragraph,  first chapter: 
It was the fly that got to him. 
In the misty light of early morning, the dead woman looked as if she might be sleeping, her dusky lashes resting against cheeks of pale egg shell, her lips faintly parted. She lay at the edge of a clover-strewn meadow near the river, the back of her head nestled against a mossy log, her slim hands folded at the right waist of her fashionable dove gray mourning gown. 
Then the fly came crawling out of her mouth. 
Well, that opening chapter does come as a shock. Would this prevent you from reading on? Or does it provoke your interest in this mystery?

Mar 20, 2016

Sunday Salon: Spring Reads

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. 

It was so sunny and mild yesterday, I forgot myself and went back to the gym after a long winter break! 

Some new ARCs and books for review:
Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meena Lee Patel, published August 11, 2015 by TarcherPerigee. An interactive journal with inspiring artwork and quotes from writers, artists and others, paired with open-ended questions and prompts, with room for writing and reflecting.

Night Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron, published December 8, 2015 by William Morrow Paperback. A tale of domestic noir, infused with old Hollywood folklore and glamour, set in a town rie with egotism and backstabbing and where fame and infamy are often interchangeable. Los Angeles 1986. 

Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together...Finally by Nicole Lapin, published March 8, 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks. Money expert and financial journalist Nicole Lapin lays out a 12-step plan to get your finances in order. 

The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo, published March 8, 2016 by Atria Books. Shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger 2015Best Spanish Crime Novel of the Year, 2013 by major Spanish newspaper La VanguardiaTop 10 Crime Novels of the Summer by Le Figaro Magazine, France

The Girl from Home by Adam Mitzner, to be released April 5, 2016 by Gallery Books. A gripping psychological thriller, an electrifying tale of a millionaire who will go to deadly lengths to get what he wants.

Found at the library:

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter, historical novel of the British East India Company and the Thuggee sect in 19th century India. Finding it fascinating, with excellent writing.

Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India - or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing. What was it that so captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travellers by the roadside? Who is Jeremiah Blake and can he be trusted? 

The Hanging Girl (Department Q #6) by Jussi Adler-Olsen, published Sepotember 8, 2015 by Dutton
Police procedural set in Denmark, the tragic cold case of a vivacious seventeen-year-old girl who vanished from school, only to be found dead hanging high up in a tree.

I have read almost all of the Department Q crime novels and enjoyed them. Carl Mørck, head of Department Q, and his quirky assistants Assad and Rose make this series memorable, with touches of humor. 

What's on your reading desk this week?

Mar 18, 2016

Book Tour: The Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight

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 Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight
Series: A Honey Ridge Novel, published February 23, 2016
Genre: romance, contemporary novel

Book beginning:
Brody hated Fridays. He knew what would happen if he went home. So he didn't. He hung out at the library until it closed, and then, wishing he had money for a hamburger, he wandered down to his spot on Magnolia Creek. It was a pretty good hike, a couple of miles out of town past the Griffinsisters' peach orchard and through a hundred yards of tangled weeds, but at eleven, he was up for it. He could have run that far and not been out of breath. 
Page 56: 
She'd had coffee, in her pajamas no less, with Hayden Winters. Laughing at herself a little, she focused on work. The man had probably put her out of his mind the moment she'd driven away.
Book description: In Honey Ridge, Tennessee, thriller writer Hayden Winters lives a life colored by lies. He can trust no one with his secrets. But the charming old Peach Orchard Inn and a woman whose presence is as gentle as a sparrow’s song stops him in his tracks.

Carrie Riley is afraid of everything, but meeting the enigmatic writer at the inn emboldens her. When they discover a vulnerable boy hiding at the inn, Hayden is compelled to help Carrie protect him. A centuries-old mystery and secrets of the past and present cause their lives to become entwined, and all that’s left to come to light is love—if the grim truth doesn’t tear them apart first. (publisher)

My comments:
The plight of young Brody, who was abandoned by his mother and now living with an abusive and alcoholic father, can't be ignored by two people staying at Peach Orchard Inn. Hayden and Carrie take the boy who appears at the door of the inn one stormy night, they feed him and dry him off, and put him to bed in one of the rooms. They uncover the secrets of Brody's past over time and as expected, Hayden and Carrie also fall in love.

This is a romance in a charming inn, with a mystery thrown in, and the heart-tugging case of a lonely boy, needing help, who is too afraid to go home most nights. It is also the story of the writer Hayden whose dreams of past events come to haunt and puzzle him.

Romance lovers, this is the book for you!

About Author Linda Goodnight
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller, Linda Goodnight is the winner of the RITA and other highly acclaimed awards for her emotional fiction. Active in orphan ministry, this former nurse and teacher enjoys writing fiction that carries a message of hope and light in a sometimes dark world. A country girl, she lives in Oklahoma.
Connect with Linda

Thanks to TLC BOOK TOURS and the publisher for a review copy of the novel. For other reviews of the book, visit the Tour Schedule

Mar 15, 2016

Book Tour/Review: NORTH OF HERE by Laurel Saville

North of Here, a novel by Laurel Saville
Published March 1, 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Objective rating: 4/5

Publisher description:
Many may dream of a simpler life away from the complications of the modern world. Laurel Saville reveals the dark side of such a life for four young people living in the Adirondack Mountains. This story of misguided decisions, a dangerous back-to-nature cult, and the universal search for meaning and love intertwines these troubled lives into a love story and a tale of tragedy, survival, and love.
At the heart of the drama are four unforgettable characters: 
Miranda: A young “heiress” 
Dix: A self-assured “mountain man” 
.Darius: A preppy trust fund refugee  
Sally: A brassy, street-smart social worker
These four will become inextricably entwined in troubles that far exceed simple crimes of the heart.
My comments:
It was unusual and refreshing to start a book with the setting in the Adirondack Mountains, far away
from bustling cities that many young people normally gravitate to. The story initially took me back to the 1960s and communes, young men and women "dropping out" of normal society to find their own way in a utopian environment with dreams of a better life close to nature and a more "natural" way of life.

But this was what it was, a utopia that couldn't last for long, until cracks began to appear, with tragedy to follow.

I wondered how many young people these days do seek out a more secluded environment. Maybe the YA and chick lit books I have been reading have just been showing me one side of the picture of contemporary life - the busy city life of ambition and upward mobility in careers. I would like to ask the author about this. It is an intriguing topic. How common is this reverting to the "natural life" these days among young people?

I would recommend the novel as a throw back to the 1960s for those who remember and something interesting for those who didn't live during those times. City versus country and woods? Which would you choose or prefer your children to choose in these competitive days?

Thanks to the author/publisher and TLC Book Tours for a review copy of this book. For other reviews of North of Here, visit the tour schedule.

About Laurel Saville

Laurel Saville is the award-winning author of the memoir Unraveling Anne, the novel Henry and Rachel, and the four-part short story “How Much Living Can You Buy,” as well as numerous essays, short stories, and articles. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College.

Author's website:  http://www.laurelsaville.com

Mar 13, 2016

Sunday Salon: War Movie and War Novels

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. 


We saw the Tina Fey movie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, last night, about an American journalist who signs up to become a photo journalist in Afghanistan. The Urban Dictionary says Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stands for WTF in military language!
The movie gave me a good look at some of the risks, temptations, rivalries, and on-the-edge lives war journalists face on site. It's also a comedy so the facts came with some laughs. The original title of the book by Kim Barker was The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

The movie also gave me some visual prep to tackle Cambodia Noir head on, a thriller about a photographer who has seen action during the war in Cambodia and who lives on in the war-shattered country trying to score new news on the political or social scene.


 I finished yesterday a library book that I read after recommendations by several bloggers: The Light Between Oceanspublished 2013 by Scribner. It 's about a lighthouse couple in Australia who find a baby girl ship wrecked or boat wrecked on their beach and who decide to keep her as their own. I will post a brief review next week.

Two new books came in last week for review/feature, thanks to Harper Collins:




It has been a while since I've read a biography, so this galley came as a pleasant surprise. The Last Goodnight: a World War II Story of Espionage, Adventure & Betrayal by Howard Blum, described as "biography of Betty Pack, the dazzling American debutante who became an Allied spy during WWII and was hailed by OSS chief General “Wild Bill" Donovan as “the greatest unsung heroine of the war.” 



A romantic comedy, advance readers edition,  also arrived for lighter reading:


The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan is described as a "debut romantic comedy, drama, and mystery rolled into one, about two very different strangers whose lives become intertwined when they receive an unusual proposition." 

The proposition is: meet for at least two hours every week for an entire year and then share a million dollars reward from an anonymous benefactor. I am thinking the ending is probably predictable, but the journey might be fun to read about.

Books in my Library Bag include:
The Strangler Vine by M. J. Carter, an historical thriller set in India
Thin Air by Ann Cleeves, a police procedural set in the Shetland islands.

What goodies do you have on the book shelves this week? 

Mar 10, 2016

Cambodia Noir by Nicholas Seeley

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.

Cambodia Noir, thriller/adventure by Nicholas Seeley, to be released March 15, 2016 by Scribner. 
Source: book for review from publisher 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 
Once-great war photographer Will Keller spends his days floating from one score to the next.... But Will's spiral toward oblivion is interrupted by Kara Saito, a beautiful woman who begs Will to help find her sister, June, who disappeared during a stint as an intern at the local paper (publisher)

Book beginning: 
Airports kill me.
I need to stop thinking about Paris, which is close to impossible at the best of times. But in the farthest wing of Frankfurt terminal, a couple of hours before dawn, as I'm waiting for a plane to carry me away to a city whose name I cannot properly pronounce...well, it's a terrible place to be alone with one's thoughts. 

Page 56: 
This one isn't reading catalogs: she just puts her stuff in a bag and she goes.

My comments: A story of a former war journalist searching for a missing woman in Cambodia - these two people left their regular lives to forget and reinvent themselves somewhere else. Interesting character studies with a backdrop of corruption, politics, and danger in a developing country. I gave this noir thriller five stars. 

About the Author
Nick Seeley is an international journalist based over the past decade in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy Magazine, Middle East Report, and Traveler’s Tales, among others. His fiction and criticism has been published in Strange Horizons. He is originally from Fairfax, Virginia. Cambodia Noir is his first novel.

Mar 9, 2016

Book Review: Lone Star by Paullina Simons


Lone Star by Paullina Simons, published 2015 by William Morrow. 
Goodreads describes the book  as "the unforgettable love story between a college-bound young woman and a traveling troubadour on his way to war—a moving, compelling novel of love lost and found set against the stunning backdrop of Eastern Europe."

My comments: A coming-of-age novel and a romance involving four high school graduates visiting cities in Latvia, Poland, and Italy. 

Chloe and her boyfriend Mason and Hannah and her boyfriend Blake make plans to visit Barcelona, and are thrilled when Chloe's Eastern European grandmother Moody offers to pay for  the trip, on one condition. They must visit Moody's and Chloe's relatives outside of Riga, Latvia, and travel to several former war sites in Poland, including Treblinka, before they head to Barcelona.

Plans change and the relationships between the four friends change when a traveling American Johnny join the group, offering to be their guide in Poland. Chloe and Johnny are attracted to each other, much to Blake's disgust. Blake's carefully laid out plans for the trip fall apart because of myriad train delays, incomplete traveling information, lack of proper transportation and communication, and more. 

Meeting Johnny is life-changing for Chloe, as Johnny charms all of them except Blake while guiding them to the places Chloe's grandmother wanted her to visit. When plans go wrong on the trip back from Treblinka, the group later splits up.

Reeommendation: The story line is original and kept me guessing about the outcomes. The characters are convincing and realistic, though Chloe is a bit dense at times about her friends and their motivations. 

The writing is engaging; each  of the four teens tells a part of the story, how he/she reacts to the trip and the unexpected events that happen. There is poetry and philosophy in the writing and plot as well as pathos and teenage angst.

A five-star read with very convincing, believable, and heart-breaking characters.
This is my first book by the author and I hope to read others. 

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

Mar 8, 2016

First Chapter: Book- and Food-Themed Cozies

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.
Between a Book and a Hard Place, A Devereaux's Dime Store Mystery #5, by Denise Swanson. Published March 1, 2016 

First paragraph, first chapter:
The Shadow Bend, Missouri, city council meeting didn't typically draw much of a crowd. Generally, fewer than a dozen of the community's four thousand twenty-eight citizens showed up, but tonight the residents had turned out in droves. 

A mystery of lost family, hidden treasure, and long-buried secrets. (publisher)

Out of the Dying Pan, A Deep Fried Mystery #2 by Linda Reilly.Published March 1, 2016

First paragraph, first chapter:
Talia Marby watched with a lump in her throat as the sign that read LAMBERT'S FISH & CHIPS was lowered carefully to the ground. The technician stepped do9wn from his ladder, one large hand steadying the sign. "You want us to take this back to the shop, ma'am, or do you want to keep it?"

When a boutique owner is strangled with Talia’s scarf knotted around her neck, our favorite fish fryer finds herself in hot oil. (publisher)

Based on their first paragraphs, would you keep reading these book- and food-themed cozies? 

Mar 6, 2016

Sunday Salon: More Mystery Novels

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. 

We hope to see the last of the snow today as it will be near 70!!! one day in the middle of next week. We are on a see-saw of temperatures, and that one day will stand out like a promise of not even spring, but summer! 

Lots to prepare for this summer, including visitors from afar that I can't wait to see.  Big smiles!

My mailbox was full with two mystery novels and a bunch of welcome cozies.

Blood Orange 
by Susan Wittig Albert, China Bayles Mystery #24 to be released April 2016 by Berkley.

In the newest China Bayles Mystery in the New York Times bestselling series, China comes to the aid of a nurse who ends up in the hospital...
Murder She Wrote: Design for Murder, the 45th in the series written by 
Such a popular series, it's the 45th book,  based on the television mystery series.

 Reading Up a Storm 
by Eva Gates, to be released April 5, 2016.

The bestselling author of Booked for Trouble returns with the third Lighthouse Library mystery set in the most literary lighthouse in North Carolina’s Outer Banks
A Clue in the Stew
by Connie Archer, to be released April 5, 2016 
Soup Lover Mystery #5, Soup shop owner Lucky Jamieson stirs up more trouble in the latest mystery from the national bestselling author of Ladle to the Grave...

What's your cozy read this week?

Just finished reading:
Lone Star by Paullina Simons.  I enjoyed this coming of age story and romance set in Eastern Europe and Italy. 

Goodreads describes the book  as "the unforgettable love story between a college-bound young woman and a traveling troubadour on his way to war—a moving, compelling novel of love lost and found set against the stunning backdrop of Eastern Europe."