Oct 7, 2018

Sunday Salon: Must Reads from the TBR Pile

These are a few of the books I have on my desk that are waiting patiently to be read.

Don't Eat Me (Dr. Siri Paiboun #13)
Don't Eat Me 
Don't Eat Me by Colin Cotterill is the most unusual mystery series set in Laos and featuring the fictional Dr. Siri Paiboon, former national coroner of Laos, The books reflect the country's people, their beliefs, superstitions, and interesting cultural slants and is written tongue in cheek, with a great deal of irony and humor.


The Labyrinth of the Spirits
The Labyrinth of the Spirits
The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, September 18, 2018.  The final book in the cycle of novels that began with The Shadow of the Wind.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, September 11, 2018, Harper
One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

My newest read, from Harper:
Unsheltered

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, publication October 16, 2018, Harper
Genre: literary fiction

Bum Deal (Jake Lassiter #12)
Bum Deal
Bum Deal by Paul Levine, Jake Lassiter #12, published June 12, 2018 by Thomas and Mercer
Genre: legal thriller, featuring "Second-string linebacker turned disillusioned defense attorney Jake Lassiter ." 


What books will you be reading this week?
Memes:  
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.

Sep 30, 2018

Sunday Post: A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper


A Knife in the Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle
Add caption
I have a review copy of A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper, thanks to Seventh Street Books.
Published October 2, 2018, the book is set in September 1888, London. 

A twenty-nine-year-old Arthur Conan Doyle practices medicine by day and writes at night. He agrees to help authorities find Jack the Ripper, with the help of Dr. Watson, and soon discovers the body of a fifth victim. Wonder who the culprit turns out to be?

In gardening news,
we have brought in the potted plants as nights are beginning to get cold! My potted plants include the three poinsettias from last Christmas which not only survived the year but thrived outdoors this summer. I hope they will begin to turn red as another Christmas gets near.

For autumn, we bought Chinese moon cakes, those sweet round pastries packed with lotus seed filling or red bean paste, eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival or Harvest Festival. I had to go easy on it as the cakes are very sweet, but delicious with hot tea!

Last week was taken up with TV news and the Kavanaugh-Ford testimonies. We are all eagerly waiting to see what happens next. This beat out watching Netflix movies by a long shot. Serious and real.

What are you doing, reading this week?
 The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,

Sep 26, 2018

Book Review: Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills

This review was one of my first when I started blogging in 2007. It was posted in 2008. I thought the environmental topic is relevant today, though it's fiction and a good thriller, and I'm reposting it here.

Darkness Falls, book review

Now that the environment, global warming, and especially fossil fuel (oil) are foremost on our minds and in the news, and especially the new focus on Alaskan oilfields, I thought posting this review of the novel Darkness Falls would be timely. I reviewed the book several months ago for New Mystery Reader and have to admit that I was surprised that I enjoyed the unusual plot once I had read it.


In Darkness Falls, published October 23, 2007, an environmental thriller by Kyle Mills, one of the main characters, Jenna Kahlin, makes the mistake of her life when she helps a rogue environmentalist carry out his extreme solution to global warming, global pollution, and the slow destruction of the environment.

She helps him by taking the bluprint of another biologist, Erin Neal, and using that research to create a voracious oil-eating bacteria that could spread unchecked through oilpipes and underground oilfields, literally destroying them and drying up major oil reserves. The bacteria, however, would be contained, as it would be harmful only to oil and would die quickly on contact with oxygen and the air. She does this only to preserve the Alaskan environment and to stop oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Little does she realize that her partner in that successful venture, Michael Teague, had plans for "preserving" not just Alaska, but the environment of the entire world. When the same bacteria shows up thousands of miles away in Saudi Arabia, destroying major oilfields and oil reservoirs there and threatening major supplies to the United States, Erin Neal is forced out of his self-imposed exile and hermit's existence to find a way to stop the advance of the bacteria.

The author paints a convincing picture of doom if major oil sources were to suddenly dry up. Our dependence on oil for housing, food, and our basic daily needs is brought home in the course of the book. How Jenna and Erin, together with Homeland Security manager, Mark Beamon, race against time and pit their wits against mastermind Teague, is the basis of this novel.

Sep 23, 2018

Sunday Salon: Watching you by Lisa Jewell, review

A brief book review this week.
Watching You

Watching You by Lisa Jewell
Published July 12, 2018 by Century
Genre: psychological thriller
Themes: family secrets, adolescence, murder mystery
Source: ebook from NetGalley

I found this an intriguing and engrossing thriller with enough plot twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout the book. Flowing narration, three-dimensional and realistic characters, including adolescents with psychological/developmental difficulties. Highly recommended five-star read. (my review on goodreads and NetGalley).

Memes:  
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,
Visit Saturday Review of Books, by Semicolon.

Sep 16, 2018

Sunday Salon: Canadian Authors Wanted

I've joined the 12th Annual Canadian Book Challenge by The Indextrious Reader.  thanks to a suggestion from Suko at Suko's Notebook.

background images from Large Roadside Attractions of Canada










Two reviews I've already entered for September: It All Falls Down and The Lost Ones, are thrillers by Vancouver author, Sheena Kamil.

The Lost Ones (Nora Watts #1)
The Lost Ones

It All Falls Down (Nora Watts, #2)
It All Falls Down

I'll be looking for other Canadian authors so I can fulfill the 13-book requirement! Though I'm assured there is no penalty if I don't reach the goal!

A new American book arrived for review, thanks to Wiley Sachek.

Bum Deal (Jake Lassiter #12)
Bum Deal
Bum Deal by Paul Levine, Jake Lassiter #12, published June 12, 2018 by Thomas and Mercer
Genre: legal thriller, featuring "Second-string linebacker turned disillusioned defense attorney Jake Lassiter ." 

My husband has co-opted this one for the time being and seems to be enjoying it!

A Japanese book I recently finished was

Convenience Store Woman
Convenience Store Woman
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated, published June 12, 2018, Grove Press
The novel covers aspects of contemporary culture in Japan, what society dictates that young women should aspire to and how they should live. 

Keiko breaks the mold, finds a niche as a convenience store worker, but after 18 years, her family and friends and even her co-workers think she should move on, find a husband, start a family, etc. But Keiko is only comfortable in her convenience store world. 

Revealing and enigmatic for Western readers, no doubt, but it's easy to side with Keiko, who chooses her niche, returns to what suits her.  This book was a lucky library find.

What books will you be reading this week?
Memes:  
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.
Mailbox Monday. Also, Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews

Sep 15, 2018

Book Review: It All Falls Down by Sheena Kamal

It All Falls Down (Nora Watts, #2)

It All Falls Down by Sheena Kamal, July 3, 2018, HarperLuxe
Genre: thriller, mystery set in Vancouver and Detroit
Source: ebook bought

This is a follow up to The Lost Ones, the first in the Nora Watts thriller series (my review). In this book, Nora takes an emotional trip to Detroit to find out more about her deceased father and his past, while dodging attempts on her life from unknown persons. 

Though the book is a bit slow at the beginning, when Nora's search into her father's history seems to be getting nowhere, the book picks up soon and 
becomes a suspenseful read that is heart-wrenching at times. This happens when Nora's own violent past that she thought she had escaped, follows her in her new quest. 

I'm looking forward to the third in the series, hoping there will be one. A Canadian from Vancouver, Sheena Kamal's protagonist Nora is part-Native American and an intriguing personality who fights through her fate from abandonment as a child to a survivor in Vancouver. 


Visit Saturday Review of Books, by Semicolon.
Also, the 12th Annual Canadian Book Challenge by The Indextrious Reader. 

Sep 10, 2018

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan


Each week, Vicki at I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where readers share the beginning paragraph(s) of a book they are reading or plan to read.  

My Oxford Year

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan, April 24, 2018, William Morrow
Genre: contemporary fiction, romance

First chapter, first paragraph:

"Next!"
The customs agent beckons the person in front of me and I approach the big red line, absently toeing the curling tape, resting my hand on the gleaming pipe railing. No adjustable ropes at Heathrow, apparently; these lines must always be long if they require permanent demarcation.
My phone, which I've been tapping against my leg, rings. I glance at the screen. I don't know the number. 
"Hello?" I answer.
"Is this Eleanor Durran?"
"Yes?"
"This is Gavin Brookdale."
My first thought is that this is a prank call. Gavin Brookdale just stepped down as White House chief of staff....

My thoughts:
I enjoyed the first part of the novel about a new graduate student at Oxford, the atmosphere and culture of the school new to her and different from an American university's. Ella makes a group of new friends, fellow students, and begins to fit into the system. However, here comes attraction, love, and romantic entanglement. 

The second part of the novel, a romance in crisis, reminded me a bit of Me Before You by JoJo Moyes and Love Story by Erich Segal, with similar ethical dilemmas involving serious illness and questions of commitment. The ending of this story may be unique in its own way, however. 

I liked the banter between Ella and her friends about poetry and was disappointed when the book left Oxford behind and concentrated on a love story that was not half as unique. Overall, a very good read, however, that covers several themes. 


Do you like the writing in the first chaper? Would you continue reading?

Sep 9, 2018

Sunday Salon: Mystery in New Orleans and on the High Seas

I have a copy of a favorite cozy writer's new book, Glitter Bomb in the New Orleans Scrapbooking Mystery series.  It's been a while since I read the series, so this book looks very attractive.
Glitter Bomb (A Scrapbooking Mystery #15)

Glitter Bomb by Laura Childs, October 2, 2018, thanks to Berkley Books
Genre: cozy mystery series
Setting: New Orleans
An exploding Mardi Gras float is used as a murder weapon.

Another arrival is from Seventh Street Books with a much more serious book cover.
The Devil's Wind

The Devil's Wind by Steve Goble, A Spider John's Mystery, September 11, 2018. 
The mystery is historical, featuring a pirate as sleuth, solving a murder on the high seas.. 

What books will you be reading this week?
Memes:  
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.
Mailbox Monday. Also, Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews

Sep 7, 2018

Book Review: The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal

The Lost Ones (Nora Watts #1)
The Lost Ones
The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal, June 26, 2018; William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: thriller set in Vancouver

My review: Nora Watts is an interesting and unusual main character who gets our sympathy because of the violence in her background as a mixed race young woman who grew up in the foster care system. 

She is asked to find  Bonnie, the child she gave up for adoption fifteen years earlier, whom she thought she would never see again.  The adoptive parents have approached her, asking for her help to locate the missing teen. Nora is reluctant at first, but many characters help her, many others get in her way. The plot is complex, as are the characters, and I got to see a side of Vancouver and British Columbia I never knew. The writing is fluid and well executed. Five stars. The Lost Ones was just awarded Best New Novel at the Macavity Awards

Book beginning:
The call comes in just after five in the morning. 
I am immediately on guard because everyone knows nothing good ever happens this early. Not with a phone call, anyway. You never get word that a wealthy relative has passed and is leaving you his inheritance before 9 A.M. It's fortunate, then, that I'm awake and on my second cup of coffee so I'm at least moderately prepared.  

Page 56:
Everything is in order, which means that the girl is at least too smart to leave clues behind. 


I received this book as an ARC from the publisher

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 
Also, the 12th Annual Canadian Book Challenge by The Indextrious Reader. 

Sep 4, 2018

First Chapter: Beijing Bastard by Val Wang


Each week, Vicki at I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where readers share the beginning paragraph(s) of a book they are reading or plan to read.  

Beijing Bastard: Into the Wilds of a Changing China

Beijing Bastard: Into the Wilds of  a Changing China by Val Wang, October 2014, Avery
Genre: memoir, humor 

Raised in America, Val travels to Beijing in 1998 expecting to find freedom but instead has a different experience living in the old city with her traditional relatives.

First chapter:
On the very first page of a book about Christopher Columbus that my dad is reading to me, there is a word I don't know. I am squeezed next to him in the creaky maroon recliner where he does all his reading. Every new word opens up new worlds to me. This one has a long, slow sound to it and looks so different than it sounds. 
"What is a journey?" I ask. He looks surprised and pauses before answering. 
"A journey is a long trip," he says. 
"A long trip!" What a disappointment. But as we read further into the book, I see what he means.
Do this make you curious? I am, considering she takes her journey to old Beijing when she grows up. 

Sep 2, 2018

Sunday Post: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

I finished a few books and started several new ones at the same time. That has slowed me down somewhat. These hot days are perfect for reading, beside a pool or not. It has even started my hubby reading again after a long hiatus.

My newest read, from Harper:
Unsheltered

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, publication October 16, 2018, Harper
Genre: literary fiction
I have just started this book and it has me in tears already. She is such a good writer. I am eager to see where this story of an heirloom house occupied by two families in different time periods will lead. It begins in the present day with a run down house the contractor recommends demolishing.The novel goes back to the house in an earlier time, the 1870s, when life and politics was just as unpredictable and changing as today.

I am also reading some library books:

The Aviator


 (Translator),  May 8, 2018, OneWorld Publications
A man wakes up in a rehabilitation home or hospital, unable to remember his past except in small flashbacks. He determines that he was born in 1900 but when he finds a bottle with his medication saying the pills' expiration date is 1999, he has to reassess what he believes about himself. The book slowly shows the aviator remembering bits of his past, or is it his past? Even though these events may have happened before he was even born? I am hooked on this story and where it might possibly go.

And a memoir:
Currently reading
The Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena, June 1, 2017, Viking, is another library borrow. Magdalena works at Kew Gardens in London and details his life trying to save endangered tropical plants around the globe.

Finished reading:

Fool Me Once

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben, March 2016, Dutton
Genre: thriller, crime fiction
I started this library book after my hubby started reading again and I borrowed it for him.  Fool Me Once is a captivating thriller, very suspenseful at the end, with twists that you can't see coming. Some of the themes include PTSD from combat during overseas duty, corruption among the wealthy at home, motherhood, and reliable friendship between two people who served together in the military. I gave this 4.5 stars.

What books will you be reading this week?
Memes:  
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.
Mailbox Monday. Also, Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews

Aug 31, 2018

Book Beginning: The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall



The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall, June 19, 2018, Gallery Books
"a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties"

Book beginning:
Prologue 
I kneel in front of the small black-and-white television, my face close to the screen, breathless at the newscaster's words,. A mug shot appears. Blood rushes hot, and my head goes fuzzy. Now grown and far too thin, that face still holds a distant echo of the boy I once so loved. My brother Walden ..... lost to me for years, now labeled a killer.
Page 56:
"There's no medicine for what ails him. Granny steps beside me and thumps her bags on the table. "You just take off, leaving him with four children... it's too much... too much heartbreak."
Do these excerpts grab you as a reader or not?
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

Aug 28, 2018

First Chapter: The White Mirror by Elsa Hart


Each week, Vicki at I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where readers share the beginning paragraph(s) of a book they are reading or plan to read.  

The White Mirror (Li Du Novels #2)
The White Mirror
The White Mirror by Elsa Hart, September 2016, Minotaur Books
Genre: historical mystery
Setting: 18thC China


First chapter, first paragraph:
In high places, a single storm takes many forms. A wise traveler knows to be wary of what the clouds and the mountains are saying to one another. So when Li Du observed a raindrop strike his mule's bridle and bounce into the air instead of slipping quietly down the leather, he stooped and looked up with some trepidation. Through dripping branches, the sky was like rough silk stretched tight across a frame. 
Book description: 
Li Du, an imperial librarian in 18th century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when he discovers the body of a monk, a painter in the valley, and sets out to discover the secrets behind the murder. 

Do you like the writing? Would you continue reading?

Aug 25, 2018

Sunday Salon: Book Reviews and New Reads

America for Beginners
America for Beginners
I picked up America for Beginners by Leah Franqui from the library after seeing and liking the William Morrow Facebook Group promotion. I was not disappointed; in fact, I was delighted with the story of a Bengali widow from Bangladesh (complex situation here) who comes to America to take a guided tour but who in reality aims to find out about her son, disowned years before by his father. 

For me, there was pathos as well as laughter. I was in tears by Chapter 28 and laughed and cried in Chapter 29. This is a book that covers a lot of topics - immigrants from India and Bangladesh, culture differences, NYC versus LA, homophobia, mother-son relationships, relationships between diverse individuals, cross-country travels in the U.S.  I would recommend that everyone read this for an eye-opening experience.The book was a little slow-going in the beginning, but the story soon picked up and was well worth the wait. 

I also read an ebook:
Fromage à Trois
Fromage a Trois
Fromage a Trois by Victoria Brownlee is a travel novel as well as a romance, with lots of information about the cheeses of France. In fact, the author says there are 356 different kinds in France, and her heroine makes a bet to try every one of them during the course of a year.

Ella lands up in Paris after she buys a one-way ticket to France after her heart is broken by her boyfriend, who flies off to other parts, leaving her at a loss. She gets a job in Paris, becomes friends with a cheese seller or fromager, and falls in love with a "real" Frenchman. I enjoyed learning more about Paris, its food culture, about some of the many different nationalities who live in that city, and of course, its cheeses.

This was an enjoyable and informative romance and story about travel escape.

New books on my desk:


The Cold Summer (Pietro Fenoglio)
The Cold Summer
The Cold Summer by Gianrico Carofiglio is from Bitter Lemon Press, published May 17, 2018
This is a novel about organized crime and gang wars and is set in Southern Italy in 1992.

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories
The First Prehistoric Serial Killer
The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories is by Teresa Solana, Spain's well-known crime writer. Publication is September 5, 2018 by Bitter Lemon Press.translated.

Every Wicked Man (The Bowers Files: The New York Years #3)
Every Wicked Man

Every Wicked Man by Steven James, September 4, 2018,  Berkley Books, features an FBI Special Agent in this thriller.
Idyll Hands (Thomas Lynch, #3)
Idyll Hands
Idyll Hands by Stephanie Gayle is a police procedural set in a small Connecticut town. A police officer's sister had disappeared two decades ago and they are now determined to find out what happened and if that case is linked to a more recent discovery!

What books will you be reading this week?
Memes:  
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date.
Mailbox Monday. Also, Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews