May 20, 2018

Review: Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

Two Steps Forward
Two Steps Forward
Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist, May 1, 2018, William Morrow
Genre:travel, contemporary novel
Setting: The Chemin, also known as the Camino de Santiago, is a centuries-old pilgrim route that ends in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. 

I loved this book, told from the point of view of a woman in her 40s or 50s and a man of the same age, walking from Cluny in France to Santiago in Spain on an old pilgrimage route. Though it's a novel, the book reads as if written by people who have travelled the Camino many times and know of what they speak! And in fact the authors are seasoned walkers of the pilgrim's route in Spain.

In the novel, the fictitious Martin and Zoe meet on the trail, traveling by foot from France and into northern Spain on the famous route. Martin pulls a cart he designed to hold his gear and hopes to sell the design to anyone who would buy it and manufacture it for public use. Zoe, using a backpack, is on the trail to try to escape memories of the very recent death of her husband, Keith. 

They have many setbacks along the Camino, meet interesting people from different countries, sometimes walking together and other times separately, and have varied experiences staying in hostels, hotels, pensions, and bed and breakfasts along the way. The narrators describe the terrain and each little town they enter, in detail. 

This is not only a travel story, about the experiences of walking over 2,000 kilometers, but also a love story of sorts. The book made me want to get into shape and travel along the Camino myself, and I've put the trail on my bucket list!

Objective rating: 5/5. Thanks to William Morrow for the review copy. 

Finished reading:
Sunburn
Sunburn
 The flawed main character in Sunburn didn't get my sympathy even though she endured a lot in order to get to her final goals. Interesting plot and character; the book was entertaining even though not memorable. I gave it four stars.
New books include
Once Upon a Spine (A Bibliophile Mystery, #11)
Once Upon a Spine
A Panicked Premonition (Psychic Eye Mystery, #15)
A Panicked Premonition
Bought the Farm (Farmer's Daughter Mystery #3)
Bought the Farm
A Just Clause (Booktown Mystery, #11)
A Just Clause
What books are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

May 13, 2018

Sunday Salon: Powell's Books in Chicago

On a trip to Chicago in April, we stopped at a favorite used books store in Hyde Park on the south side, Powell's Books. I came away with three books I'd not have bought anywhere else....such was the atmosphere of the place that it made me want to read them.

Fluke: The Maths and Myths of Coincidence
Fluke by Joseph Mazur, March 15, 2017,  paperback by Oneworld
A look at coincidences, their probability and frequency. The book tries to analyze how coincidences work, that they are not so unusual after all. So you meet your next door neighbor while you are both at the Louvre in Paris during the month of May. Surprise! Amazing! Or is it?

The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures
The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Kenneally, October 9, 2014, Viking
How the history of the human race shapes us as individuals

The third book I'd have bought anywhere -
Man's Fate

Man's Fate by Andre Malraux, September 3, 2009, Penguin Classics
Shanghai, 1927, and revolution is in the air. As the city becomes caught up in violence and bloodshed, four people's lives are altered inexorably....

What books are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

May 11, 2018

Book Beginning: The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet


The Seventh Function of Language
The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet, August 14, 2018, Picador USA
Genre: comedy, literary fiction
Source: library
Book beginning:
Life is not a novel. At least you would like to believe so. Roland Barthes walks up Rue de Bievre. The greatest literary critic of the twentieth century has every reason to feel anxious and upset. His mother, with whom he had a highly Proustian relationship, is dead. And his course on "The Preparation of the Novel"  at the College de France is such a conspicuous failure it can no longer be ignored; all year he has talked to his students about Japanese haikus, photography, the signifier and the signified, Pascalian diversions, cafe waiters, dressing gowns, and lecture-hall seating - about everything but the novel. And this has been going on for three years. He knows, of course, that the course is simply a delaying tactic designed to push back the moment when he must start a truly literary work....
Page 56:
Standing behind his massive desk, Giscard points to one representing a beautiful, severe-looking woman, arms outspread, dressed in a fine white dress....
Publisher: 
Paris, 1980. The literary critic Roland Barthes dies—struck by a laundry van. The world of letters mourns a tragic accident. But what if it wasn’t an accident at all? What if Barthes was . . . murdered? The hapless police detective Jacques Bayard, whose new case will plunge him into the depths of literary theory, soon finds himself in search of a lost manuscript by the linguist Roman Jakobson on the mysterious “seventh function of language.”

What new books are you reading this weekend? 
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

May 7, 2018

It 's Monday: New Books and New Reviews

New books on my shelf:
Two Steps Forward
Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist, May 1, 2018, William Morrow
Genre: romance, contemporary novel
Setting: The Chemin, also known as the Camino de Santiago, is a centuries-old pilgrim route that ends in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. 

Blood Orbit (Gattis File #1)
Bloody Orbit: Gattis File #1 by K.R. Richardson, May 2018
Genre: science fiction police procedural pairs an idealistic rookie with an officer who uses cybernetic implants to process forensics

This is not normally a genre I read, but since it's the first in a new series, I'm willing to give it a try.

Currently reading:
Whistling In the Dark
Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen, May 1, 2007, Berkley
Genre: thriller
Rating: 5/5

After the death of their father, young Sally takes care of her sister Troo while their mother is hospitalized long term for liver failure. There is a murderer on the loose who has targeted young girls in the area and Sally finds herself  alone in having to protect herself and her sister. Family secrets, a predator on the loose in a small community in Milwaukee, these are some of the themes of the book with two highly individualized young girls who must handle it all.

Books read last week:
Murder on Brittany Shores (Commissaire Dupin, #2)


Love the setting and descriptions of the people and the unusual Glenan islands off the Brittany shore. A complex mystery plot too, with a persistent and astute French detective.

I listened to the audio and loved the intonations in the voice of the narrator, who read the French novel in English.

Murder on Brittany Shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec, 
Published July 2016 by Minotaur
Genre: mystery 
Setting: Brittany, France



Killing Trail (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #1)
Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima,
Published December 8, 2015
Genre: K-9 mystery
Setting: Colorado

The first novel in the series, introducing Mattie Cobb and her K-9 police dog Robo. An entertaining, informative mystery. Loved the setting and details on police dog training.
Moo
Moo by Sharon Creech, August 30, 2016, HarperCollins
Cute story of city kids who move to Maine and learn, reluctantly at first, about farm animals and farm life from an Italian woman and her cow, Zora.

What books are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.What books are you reading this week?

Apr 30, 2018

New Books for Summer

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by 


July 10, 2018; Penguin Press
Genre: contemporary literature...a young woman’s efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature and the battery of medicines she prescribes. (publisher)
 The Secrets Between Us
The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
June 26, 2018; Harper
Genre: contemporary international fiction
...the former servant struggles against the circumstances of class and misfortune to forge a new path for herself and her granddaughter in modern India. (publisher)

The Word Is Murder
The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
June 5, 2018; Harper
Genre: mystery, thriller
SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER MURDER? (publisher)

Books finished last week and reviewed on goodreads:
t was amazing
Chemistry



Chemistry by Weike Wang, 5 stars
The Chinese family in juxtaposition with Western culture, as well as family dynamics in general and how these affect children, their careers and their marriage choices.
An unusual "literary mystery" with emphasis on poetic writing and lots of psychoanalysis through the voice of the narrator. Surprises and "plot twists" at the end. Worth reading.
 Still Waters (Sandhamn, #1)
it was amazing
Still Waters (Sandhamn, #1)  by Viveca Sten, October 2015; Amazon Crossing
Rating: 5 stars
The first in the Sandhamn mystery series, the novel is set in the Swedish archipelago with its hundreds of islands, including Sandhamn. The main characters are a police officer and his childhood friend, a lawyer, who try to solve the mystery of a man found dead, tangled in a fishing net off the island. Atmospheric and suspenseful, the novel has a good plot, interesting characters, and a splendid description of the picturesque islands in this part of Sweden.
My current read was a free download from amazon:
The Question of Red
The Question of Red by 
, published 2013
...the story of two lovers, Amba and Bhisma, driven apart by one of the bloodiest Communist purges in the 20th century—the massacres that took place in Indonesia between 1965 and 1968, during which nearly one million people were killed. (publisher)

What books are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.What books are you reading this week?

Apr 28, 2018

Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle

Shot in the Dark (Coffeehouse Mystery #17)
Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle
April 17, 2018; Berkley
Genre: Coffeehouse Mystery #17

A new smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene--a crime scene. (publisher)

Book beginning:
"Shot down again..."My ex-husband dropped his hard body onto the soft stool of our crowded coffee bar, the thorny end of a long-stemmed rose still pricking his hand. "Three strikes in one night," I said. "Does that mean you're out?""No, Clare. That's another kind of ball game."
Page 56:
 "Yeah, sure, but do you think she's the jumper they're looking for upriver?"
The 17th in the series! We're following coffee house manager Clare Cosi and her ex-husband at the Village Blend in NYC, the setting of the mystery series where Clare helps solve crimes that crop up during their busy daily activities. 

This time Clare gets the help of her ex, coffee hunter Matteo Allegro, whose mother owns the coffee shop. The Village Blend becomes the meeting place for a dating app named Cinder, but a corpse lands up in the mix of would-be, hopeful young people looking for dates. Clare has to try and clear one of her customers of the murder charge and protect her other customers. 

Another mystery with intrigue, suspense, and recipes too. One of my favorite foodie mystery series!

Thanks to Berkley for a review copy of this book.

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

Apr 20, 2018

Queen Anne's Lace, a novel by Susan Wittig Albert

Queen Anne's Lace (China Bayles #26)

Queen Anne's Lace: China Bayles #26 by Susan Wittig Albert
Published April 3, 2018; Berkley Books
Genre: mystery
Setting: Pecan Springs, Texas  - tearoom

Setting: The Thyme and Seasons tearoom has long been the pivotal point in many China Bayles mystery novels set in the Texas hill country. An herbalist as well as a caterer too, China plays sleuth in the books and solves crimes in and around her neighborhood, as well as provides readers with recipes for dishes that include everything from jelly, cobbler, soup, quiche, to muffins. 

Plot: Antique lace and old photographs found in a loft puzzle and intrigue China, especially when she hears ghostly humming and the fragrance of lavender along with it. A touch of the magical in this novel lends it charm to add to the handcrafted lace from times gone by. Things get complicated when China tries to solve the mystery of the lace and the story of the lacemaker, Annie Laurie. 

A very attractive cover and an intriguing plot makes this book another in the China Bayles series to add to mystery lovers' bookshelf. 

Thanks to Berkley Books for a review copy of this novel.

Book Review: The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Jean E. Pendziwol, July 4, 2017, HarperCollins.
Setting: Lighthouse on Porphyry Island, Lake Superior, Canada

Between 1918 and the early 1930s, a lighthouse keeper on an island in Lake Superior kept journals that would later be read by an orphan teenage girl, Morgan, to a blind woman in a retirement home. 

The blind woman is Elizabeth, one of the twin daughters of the lighthouse keeper and his wife on Porphyry Island. Elizabeth and her twin Emily lived in the lighthouse until the death of their parents, when they were taken in by old friends.  Now an old woman, Elizabeth becomes interested in her father's newly found notebooks, as she has unanswered questions about all that occurred to their family so many years ago on the lighthouse island.  

The novel reveals the  complicated lives of Elizabeth and Emily, the twin girls, and their older brother Charles, growing up largely isolated on an island in Lake Superior, especially during the long harsh winters.  

There are secrets in the family, and Morgan, who reads the lightkeeper's journals to the aged Elizabeth in the present time, is curious about the twin Emily's nature drawings. Morgan has copies of Emily's drawings, which she found long ago in her grandfather's violin case. What the connection is, between her grandfather and the twins, is what drives Morgan to read the notebooks carefully. 

Comments: The book was very suspenseful at times, and I could not wait to find out more about the intriguing characters and their lives. The story makes for excellent reading. I was curious about the similarities of parts of the plot to another lighthouse novel, The Light Between Oceans, published in 2013. However, this novel's added complexity makes up for that coincidence that readers of both books might notice. Overall, I gave The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughters  5 stars.

Book beginning:
Arnie Richardson
The black Lab is aging. His arthritic legs stiffly pick their way along the well-worn path, stepping carefully over roots and carrying his stout form between the trunks of spruce and poplar. His muzzle, flecked with gray, tracks close to the ground, gathering the scent of his master's trail. 
Page 56:
....I pause for a moment, and I hear her whisper,"Oh, dear God. It was him. All those years later. Grayson." She isn't talking to me. 
Thanks to Harper Collins for providing a proof of the book.

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

Apr 14, 2018

Sunday Salon: Mysteries and a Literary Novel

The Waters & The Wild

The Waters and the Wild by DeSales Harrison
Published April 3, 2018; Random House
Genre: literary, mystery
With lyrical prose and masterful plotting, The Waters & The Wild is a sophisticated and surprising literary mystery about passion, betrayal, and redemption. (publisher)

Murder on Union Square (Gaslight Mystery, #21)

Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson 
Publication: May 1, 2018; Berkley
Genre: Gaslight Mystery #21
Frank finds himself in an unusual position--the prime suspect in the latest installment of the national bestselling Gaslight Mystery series...(publisher)

The above are the two new books on my desk, and I am eager to read them! 

I  finished reading:
Sold on a Monday by Kristing McMorris; see my review.
The Lost Family by Jenna Blum
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Flat Broke With Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia by Jennifer McGaha;
see my review on Goodreads.

Burning Ridge (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #4)

Burning Ridge: Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #4 by Margaret Mizushima. The author's husband is a veterinarian, so this must help her write about a deputy sheriff and her police search and detect dog, Robo. A five star mystery, in my mind!

What books are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.What books are you reading this week?

Apr 13, 2018

Book Review: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

Sold on a Monday

Title: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris
Publication: August 28, 2018, Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: historical fiction
Objective rating: 5 stars

Lily, a secretary with a newspaper in 1930s Pennsylvania, gets caught up in the story of a photo taken by young reporter Ellis, who snapped a picture of two boys in front of a For Sale sign. The sign was not for the sale of produce or other items, but for the sale of the two boys, a grim indication of the hardship and privation of the times. Scandalized by the implications, Lily takes the photo to the newspaper editor, who assigns Ellis to write the story behind his revealing photo.

Complications arise about the original two children in Ellis's photo, and Ellis makes do by taking another photo, but of different children. Barely bothered by the lie, Ellis makes a name for himself in the newspaper world with the photo and story and rises rapidly in his career.

Lily,  however, gets involved in sorting out fact from fiction as she later helps Ellis to go after the truth of the four children in the two photos, some of whose lives may have been severely affected by Ellis's photos and newspaper story.

The novel is based on a real life photo and its story of children up for sale in 1948, researched by the author, which became an inspiration for her historical novel, Sold on a Monday. Poverty, desperation, and the plight of poor children during those hard times are among the book's themes. Add to that the investigative skills of Lily and the reporter Ellis, who track the story to its conclusion in a suspenseful and heartfelt plot. Well written and researched, with details that bring the characters and the story to life, Sold on a Monday is a novel I would recommend for history buffs and for those interested in a well told tale. 

Book beginning:
Chapter 1
August 1931
Laurel Township, Pennsylvania
It was their eyes that first drew Ellis in.
Seated on the front porch of a weathered gray farmhouse, among the few homes lining the road surrounded by hayfields, two boys were pitching pebbles at a tin can. Ages six and eight at most, they wore no shoes or shirts. Only patched overalls exposing much of their fair skin tinted by grime and summer son The two had to be brothers.... (from an advanced readers copy; final copy may differ

56 percent: 
...She considered the disparity of fortunes between bankers and too many of their patrons, those with little choice but to live in shantytowns or to beg on the street. 
Thanks to the author and Netflix for an advance readers copy of the book, for review purposes. 

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

Apr 8, 2018

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction, Travel, and a Memoir

New books for spring!

Why Travel Matters: A Guide to the Life-Changing Effects of Travel


Why Travel Matters: A Guide to the Life-Changing Effects of Travel by Craig Storti, published April 18, 2018

A Date with Murder (Murder, She Wrote, #47)
A Date With Murder: Murder, She Wrote by 
Publication: May 1, 2018, Berkley Books

The Lost Family: A Novel
The Lost Family by Jenna Blum
Publication: July 3, 2018, Harper
Marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged story that spans a generation, from the 1960s to the 1980s. (publisher)

 Another Side of Paradise
Another Side of Paradise by Sally Koslow
Publication: May 29, 2018, Harper
Theme: the romance between legendary gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Perfect Mother
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Publication: May 1, 2018, Harper
Genre: psychological thriller

Finished reading:
Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia

Flat Broke with Two Goats: a Memoir by Jennifer McGaha
Published Jan. 23, 2018; Sourcebooks
Source: library ebook borrow
My comments: A five star book for just being such an unusual memoir about a couple going from being city dwellers to becoming farmers in a run-down cabin surrounded by forest and wildlife in Appalachia, the couple making their own goat cheese, rearing chickens and goats, and growing agricultural products for a living. The change from resisting the move with its hardships to accepting and loving her new life in the woods is the main theme of the author's memoir. Loved it! 
Sold on a Monday

Also finished Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris
Publication: August 28, 2018, Sourcebooks Landmark

From bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes another unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
2 CHILDREN FOR SALE
The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, in 1931. 
Review to be posted soon.

Currently reading:
The Lost Family by Jenna Blum (see above); I'm enjoying the easy storytelling of the author's and the fascinating novel of a man surviving WWII to becoming a successful restaurateur, only to continue to be haunted by his past. 

What books are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.