Sep 30, 2017

Sunday Salon: Time for Pumpkins and Apple Cider

Autumn is definitely here. It was much cooler today and here I am covered in a blanket cause it's still too warm to have the heater on. Not sure I'm ready for fall as yet. Today we ate an apple cinnamon donut bought at a local farm, and got Fuji apples and a buttery pumpkin, which we promptly cooked in a Thai curry. Yum!

Christmas-related books are now coming out. Here are two:

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, October 3, 2017, courtesy of William Morrow.
An historical romance set in 1914 during the Great War, and 1968, Two friends write letters to each other over the years but the war and its aftermath prevent their reunion. 

Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women by Emily Brightwell, October 17, 2017, courtesy of Berkley.
A man is shot under cover of fireworks at a Guy Fawkes party. With Christmas almost here, Inspector Witherspoon and everyone in his household is upset at the possibility of having to cancel their holiday plans—all to solve a case that seems impossible.

I finished reading 
Glass Houses: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13
by Louise Penny and gave it five stars, as I have all the books of hers I've read in the series. The first half of the book seems a bit slow, setting the stage for the second half of the book, which is riveting. I recommend it for mystery lovers.

I borrowed three books from the library. One is 
Mad: A Novel (Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know Trilogy) by British author Chloe Esposito, June13, 2017, Dutton.
I was intrigued by the book description: .... In this debut novel, set between London and Sicily over one blood-drenched week in the dead of summer, an identical twin reveals the crazy lies and twists she'll go through to not only steal her sister's perfect life, but to keep on living it.

My reading of the book so far: The twin in question is unfocused and scattered, in debt, and without much hope or plans for the future. The description of her through her actions, words, and behavior is alarming yet amusing and makes me want to read on!

What's on your reading plate this week?
Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also visit Mailbox Monday.

Sep 29, 2017

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa: Book Beginning/Review

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa, translated from the Japanese, November 14, 2017, courtesy of OneWorld Publication
Genre: novel translated from the Japanese
Paperback, 224 pages

Book beginning:

A sweetly scented breeze blew along Cherry Blossom Street.

Sentaro stood over a hot griddle inside the Doraharu shop, as he did all day everyday, cooking pancakes or his dorayaki. Cherry Blossom Street was a run-down commercial strip in a depressed part of town, a street more notable for empty shops than the cherry trees planted sparsely on either side. Today, however, perhaps because the flowers were in full bloom, there were more people about than usual. 

Sentaro looked up to see an elderly lady in a white hat standing on the roadside, but immediately turned back to the bowl of batter he was mixing. He assumed she was looking at the billowing could of cherry blossom on the tree outside the shop.

Page 56:

"What kind of food do you like to eat, boss? What's the local specialty in Takasaki?"

I saw the movie based on this book on Netflix and really liked the story of a down-and-out, handicapped older woman who is given a job making dorayaki, a sweet pastry of pancakes filled with bean paste. She helps the struggling owner of the failing shop to attract buyers with her delicious recipe and cooking. But she hides a secret that will be a huge problem for her and for the shop owner, Sentaro, as time goes by.

The characters and plot are heartwarming and unexpected. A very enjoyable novel.

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.

Sep 26, 2017

First Chapter: The Genius Plague by David Walton

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea on Tuesdays. Join in by sharing the first paragraph of a book you are reading or plan to read, and linking up on the website.

The Genius Plague by David Walton, publication October 3, 2017 by Pyr
Genre: novel, fantasy, sci-fi
First paragraph:
Paul Johns hadn't seen another human being in six days.
He emerged from the Amazon rainforest, tired and sore, but exhilarated, the sudden brightness bringing a smile to his face. The river sparkled, a vast body of water several kilometers across, even this far from its mouth.  
Ahead stood a riverboat station, little more than a few rotting benches and a sign propped against an ancient wooden dock. The sign listed the boat pickup schedule, in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, the words faded and water stained. A dozen or more tourists sat on the benches or milled around nearby, waiting for the boat. Seeing them felt like spotting a rare animal in the brush. Paul's first instinct was to approach quietly, lest he startle them away.
Book description:
In the Amazon jungle, a disease is spreading. To those who survive, it grants enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. But the miracle may be the sinister survival mechanism of a fungal organism, manipulating the infected into serving it.
Paul Johns, a mycologist, is convinced the fungal host is the next stage of human evolution, while his brother Neil, an analyst at the NSA, is committed to its destruction. (publisher)

Based on the beginning and the description, would you keep reading?

Sep 25, 2017

It's Monday: What Books Are on Your Desk?

Here's what's new on my desk this week.
Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin, October 3, 2017, courtesy of Harper
"A book for any of us, gay or straight, who have had to find our family. Maupin is one of America’s finest storytellers."—Neil Gaiman

A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism by Caroline Moorehead
Publication: October 3, 2017, book courtesy of Harper
Genre: non-fiction, historical

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak, published October 17, 2017
Courtesy of Berkley, fiction
A debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the Christmas holidays...

I finished reading Glass Houses by Louise Penny, another five star read in the remarkable Inspector Gamache mystery series.
I also finished the ebook edition of
Le temps est assassin by French thriller writer, Michel Bussi, and am now reading the Spanish ebook edition of his
Mama no dice la verdad. It's nice to brush up on my languages, with the help of online dictionaries.

What's on your desk this week?
Visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.  Also visit Mailbox Monday.

Sep 24, 2017

Book Review: Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Glass Houses: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13
by Louise Penny
Publication: August 29, 2017, book courtesy of Minotaur
Genre: mystery, crime novel

Objective rating: 5/5
This is the 13th in the series but it doesn't let you down. It's so good that the book is hard to stop reading, and it gets better toward the end. The people of Three Pines pull you into their little world, as usual, but when criminal events begin to encroach into the lives of the secluded village where Chief Superintendent Gamache of Quebec and his wife Reine-Marie live, the sparks really begin to fly. 

There is an unknown person in a Death costume standing on the village green for three days or so, who doesn't speak or tell anyone in the village why he is there. He appears threatening, and the villagers become uncomfortable with his presence there. Later on there is a murder, and suspects begin to surface among the visitors and newcomers to the village. 

I won't give the plot away, but it's suspenseful and takes you where you least expect; the characters are as entertaining and as colorful as in the previous twelve books; the Chief Superintendent and his second in command, Beauvoir, hold your interest as they plan to take down dangerous criminals that threaten their province and personal lives.

I really enjoyed this and think its one of the best in the series. It can be read as a stand alone book, of course, for those who have not read others in the series. Highly recommended for mystery lovers. 

Meme: Welcome to the Sunday Salon. Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. 

Sep 22, 2017

The Resurrector by Layton Green: Book Beginning

The Resurrector, author Layton Green
Published June 29, 2017
Genre: thriller, fantasy
A Dominic Gray novel, #6

Book beginning:
The light of a full moon illuminated the couple huddled around a rusty oil drum in the center of the township. The trash fire in the barrel doubled as a source of warmth and as an oven for roasting corn.Behind them was the storage container they called home. A good space. Unlike most of the neighboring shacks, it had a metal roof instead of tarpaper. More resistant to wind and floods. Just beyond the township lay the gentle swells of wine country. Golden fields and sprawling manors steeped in the wealth of the old Boer families. The inequalities of life in the Western Cape used to  motivate the couple, inspire nightly political discussions with their neighbors while quaffing sour umqombothi beer, but they no longer cared for such things. 
Page 56: 
Solomon had drawn a single face for the sketch artists, the only person he could identify from his captivity. 
Book description:
A modern day Dr. Frankenstein, probing the secrets of life and death. Two men racing against the clock to stop the spread of a horrific virus. As the victims mount..., the world's only hope rests in the hands of Professor Viktor Radek and Dominic Grey, a broken warrior and a relentless professor, facing the darkest of forces.

I'm definitely intrigued by the beginning and the setting of this one, having read other suspense/thriller/fantasy novels by Layton Green. 

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.

Sep 20, 2017

Review: Little Fires Everywhere, a novel by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, published September 12, 2017, review copy thanks to Penguin Press
Genre: literary fiction
Objective rating: 5/5

This is a story not only about Chinese-Americans but about adoptions, infertility, mother-daughter relationships, and teen angst.  Set in an affluent suburb of Cleveland, Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive and hope this time this is a place they can stay after years of wandering around the U.S.

But the adoption of an abandoned Chinese infant by an American family brings conflict to the town and involves Mia and her daughter. What happens when the mother of the child appears and wants her baby returned?

I loved that the book involved so many different issues and themes. The characters are complex yet believable and the plot very revealing of human nature.

I highly recommend this novel for those interested in the above themes and those who enjoy good literary fiction.

Sep 17, 2017

Sunday Salon: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

I am juggling ebooks and books right now, going from one to the other, from Kindle and Nook to the paper book. Too many books that are hard to ignore.
A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food by David Downie
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The temps est assassin by Michel Bussi, in French

I finished reading

The Leavers by Lisa Ko, May 2, 2017

My comments: An interesting story with a theme about immigrants who come and go,  in New York and China, and leave parts of their families behind in each case. Deming is raised by American foster parents after his mother disappeared from his life. What will he choose later in life - the American or the Chinese parents he was to eager to reunite with, both or neither? 

I found young Deming contradictory at times, but maybe that is the way the author wanted him to be.

New books include
The Templar Brotherhood by James Becker, October 3, 2017, courtesy of Berkley
Ghost on the Case by Carolyn Hart, October 3, 2017, courtesy of Berkley
A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel, courtesy of Berkley
Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree, courtesy of Graydon House

What are you reading this end of summer?

Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also visit Mailbox Monday.

Sep 15, 2017

Book Tour: Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao

Whispers of Warning: A Change of Fortune Mystery #2 by Jessica Estevao
Publication September 19, 2017, courtesy of Berkley
Objective rating: 4.5/5
This is the second novel in the Change of Fortune series, but it can be read as a stand-alone work, as most books in series can.  

Ruby Proulx has traveled to a seaside hotel owned by her aunt Honoria, in order to help out and also contribute as a psychic medium for guests. The hotel is visited by psychics and others interested in the supernatural, and part of the hotel's draw is its reputation for readings and other metaphysical events.  A well known spiritualist and suffragette, Sophronia, comes to the hotel for an extended stay and mentors Ruby in her art. However, when a murder occurs nearby, Ruby finds herself helping solve the mystery and its connection to her aunt's hotel.

The motive for the murder is one that is common in mysteries, especially earlier ones, but also in this one. Could it be fear of loss of reputation? I hope that tidbit doesn't give too much away. But the question of true motive remains a mystery as you read along. 

I enjoyed this unusual book's setting - the era of women's fight for voting and other rights - and I like that the supernatural aspects of the plot are not overwhelming. I am planning to read the first in the series, Whispers Beyond the Veil. 

Book beginning:
The atmosphere of the suffrage rally had far more in common with a medicine show performance than the attendants would likely have enjoyed hearing. In my experience, crowds of people composed of some filled with hope and other with scepticism, create the same impression, no matter the subject of the gathering. Even the setting was similar.... I felt oddly at home and deeply uncomfortable all at the same time.
Page 56:
Heavy velvet draperies hung alongside the long, mullioned windows. The wallpaper provided diners with a sense that they were seated in a fairy-tale aviary.  
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.

Sep 10, 2017

Sunday Salon: TV or a Book?

It's not as if I don't have any books to read. I have too many. But I went to have coffee in the bookstore and came out with two novels I couldn't resist.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko, May 2, 2017, Algonquin Books
Genre: literary fiction
I have started this and am fascinated by the young boy born in New York but raised till age six in China by his grandfather, whom he misses when he finally joins his mother in New York. His mother later leaves him suddenly and unexpectedly with friends in the city. How he grows up with the experiences of being left behind, and how he perhaps or perhaps not seeks out his mother again is the overriding question.
Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison, Septemer 5, 2017, Mira Books
Genre: psychological suspense
I couldn't resist another psychological thriller. There seems to be so many being published recently and is now a popular genre for many readers. This one involves someone who disappears from a testy relationship.

Other books that landed on my desk:

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa, translated from the Japanese, November 14, 2017, courtesy of OneWorld Publication
Genre: novel in translation
I saw the movie based on this book on Netflix and really liked the story of a down-and-out older woman given a job making pancakes filled with bean paste. She helps the owner of the failing shop to attract buyers, with her delicious cooking. But she hides a secret that will be a huge problem as time goes by.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Pulished September 12, 2017, courtesy of Penguin Press
Genre: literary fiction
I loved the author's first book, Everything I Never Told You , and am looking forward to this new one. She presents complex situations involving Chinese-Americans in American environments.

A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food by David Downie, courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Genre: travel, food, nonfiction
Described as "a culinary history" of Paris, this book is one of several books on Paris and France by David Downie, an informative, entertaining, and well researched writer. 

The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap by Gish Jen, courtesy of Knopf Publishers
Genre: nonfiction, social science
I'm looking forward to the author's ideas in this study of the differences between East and West in perceptions of the "self and society" and how these differences affect education, art, geopolitics, and business.  

I finished reading The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George after reading her The Little French Bistro and The Widows of Malabar Hill, a new historical mystery series set in India, by Sujata Massey. Reviews later in the month. 

I have been taking a break from watching Irma on TV and wishing the best for friends and family in Florida and Georgia. Luckily, the people I know live on the Florida east coast, where Irma seems to be having a slightly less of an impact, fingers crossed.

What are you reading or have you been glued to the TV?
Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also visit Mailbox Monday.

Sep 8, 2017

Book Review: Winter's Child by Margaret Coel

Winter's Child: A Wind River Mystery by Margaret Coel, September 6, 2016,  courtesy of Berkley
Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O'Malley discover a centuries-old mystery tied to a modern day crime on the Wind River Reservation.

Plot: An Arapaho couple hire an attorney, Clint Hopkins, to help them adopt a child they had been caring for over five years. The child had been left as an infant on their doorstep and the couple had taken her in. But while working on the adoption case, the attorney is killed in a suspicious hit-and-run, and Vicky Holden steps in to solve a crime involving the past and the mystery of the child.

My comments: The book has an intriguing and suspenseful plot. It appears to be a straightforward request from the lawyer, Clint Hopkins, to Vicky, asking her to be a cocounsel in the adoption of a five-year-old girl by an Arapaho couple. But the case quickly involves murder, and Vicky is left on her own to solve the mystery. The ending, which I won't give away, is not a clear cut solution, but realistic.

My rating: 5/5

Book beginning:

Snow had fallen all day, dense cotton fluff that cocooned the brick bungalow in a white world and obscured the small sign: Vicky Holden, Attorney at Law. Now the snow dissolved into a white dusk as Vicky drove through the side streets of Lander, tires bumping over ruts and ridges. The heater kicked into gear, and warm air streamed into the frosty cold that gripped the Ford. She hunched over the steering wheel. She was late.

Page 56:

 "Come on, Uncle John." She stopped in her tracks and was looking up at him. "No one in my generation believes in fairy tales. Ever after just doesn't happen. It never did, really. Your generation was the last to cling to that belief...."

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.

Voices of the Old and the New: Corky Lee and Julia Alvarez

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