Jan 31, 2018

First Chapter: Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan

Fools' River

Title: Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan
Published November 7, 2017; Soho Crime
Genre: mystery, thriller
Setting: Bangkok, Thailand

First paragraphs:
The blinds are drawn the way they've been drawn forever, with the inside edges of the slats tilted to block his view of the sky and the fall of sunlight through the window, which means he has no idea what time it is. Not that knowing would do him any good. 

He had a watch once, a gold one, French or Swiss or something like that, European, but he hasn't seen it since he got here. 

Wherever he is. 

Why are the blinds angled that way?

Book description:
The two most difficult days in Bangkok writer Poke Rafferty's life begin with an emergency visit from Edward Dell, the almost-boyfriend of his teenage daughter, Maiow. The boy's father, Buddy, a late-middle-aged womanizer who has moved to Bangkok for happy hunting, has disappeared, and money is being siphoned out of his bank and credit card accounts. (publisher)

Would you continue reading based on the opening paragraphs and other info?
MEME: Every Tuesday Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon

Jan 28, 2018

Sunday Salon: March Books

The Other Mother
The Other Mother by Carol Goodman, March 27, 2018, William Morrow,
"a gripping novel about madness, motherhood, love, and trust."
Setting: the Catskills
Genre: thriller, suspense

The Baby Plan

The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick, March 20, 1018, William Morrow
Genre: contemporary fiction, comedy
Setting: Santa Barbara, CA
"Three women jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy -  gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned...

Claws for Concern (Cat in the Stacks, #9)
Claws for Concern by Miranda James, February 20, 2018, Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery, Cat in the Stacks series #9
Setting: small town, Mississippi
" a mysterious man with a connection to an unsolved murder starts visiting the library" where librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel preside. 

Currently reading, library books:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy; winner of the Man Booker Prize
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, long listed for the Man Booker Prize

What 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.

Jan 25, 2018

Book Review: The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages
Title: The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
Published June 27, 2017, Putnam
Genre: contemporary fiction
Source: borrowed from the library
Rating: 5/5
A novel about jealousy, the unpredictable path of friendship, and the secrets kept in marriage, all set within the U.S. expat community of the Middle East during the rise of the Arab Spring. (publisher)

I really enjoyed this novel about the friendship and conflicts between two wives of American military personnel stationed in the Middle East during the Arab spring, with its uprisings and unrest. Besides describing the challenges of living in a new and mainly unfamiliar culture, the story focuses on two very different women, Cassie and Margaret, brought together by their husbands, Dan and Click's, military careers and by their need for friendship away from home.

Problems arise because the women have different backgrounds, personalities, and emotional needs. Their marriages are far from perfect and they both look for different things during their stay in Jordan. Cassie Hugo sticks to the rules of the embassy regarding travel safety and the ways women must be conservative in behavior and dress and in interacting with others, in particular men. Margaret Bradshaw, younger and more free spirited, disregards almost all the rules in wanting to experience the people and the culture in her own way. Cassie becomes upset and resentful when Margaret wants to branch out on her own to travel around the city and make friends with local people of all classes, relying on Cassie less and less and only to babysit her young toddler on occasion. This friendship comes to a head when something unexpected happens that creates serious conflict. Who, if anyone, is to blame?

The story was very interesting from a cultural point of view; it was also a revealing study in friendship that has some component of jealousy. Well written and engrossing, the book also left me appreciating some of the difficulties faced by families in the military living abroad.

Book beginning:
May 13, 2011
We are close, so close to Margaret's apartment, and I feel myself sink deeper into the passenger seat, relieved that I have succeeded in my small mission of getting Margaret out of her home, if only for a few hours. The day is a success. Sure, I had to let her drive something I usually avoid. Margaret is always too nervous, too chatty, looking around at the pedestrians forgetting to put on her signal, stomping on the brakes too late. But today I actually managed to snap her out of her sadness.I have done everything a good friend should.
Page 56:
Unlike me, Crick cannot tell a lie. For him, there is only one truth, and he tells it. 
Library 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

Book Beginning: Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Title: Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Author: Madeleine Thien
Published October 11, 2016, W.W. Norton
Source: library
A novel about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s, and about the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. 

Book beginning:
In a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his marriage, and the second, when he took his own life. That year, 1989, my mother flew to Hong Kong and laid my father to rest in a cemetery near the Chinese border. Afterwards, distraught, she rushed home to Vancouver where I had been alone. I was ten years old.
Here is what I remember. 

Page 56:
Still, those pretty piano notes were mocking all the movements she made. They dripped from the kitchen to the bedroom to the parlour, seeping like rainwater over the persimmons on the table, the winter coats of her family, and the placid softness of Chairman Mao's face in the grey portrait framed on the wall. 

I like the descriptive writing, evocative and conveying a certain mood.  What are you reading this week?

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

Jan 21, 2018

Sunday Salon: Literary Fiction and Cozies

The cold freeze has broken, at least for a while, and I can go about doing chores again without bundling up like a bear. Next week will be busy.

Everything Here Is Beautiful
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee is a new book I found while browsing with no thought of buying until I started reading and had to take it home.

It's a heartbreaking page turner that pulls you into the lives of two sisters, how the elder one, Miranda, handles her younger sister's severe bipolar disorder. I was left wondering, what if...? Could a different approach have made a difference? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

I recommend the novel for its insight into family dynamics, the immigrant experience, and the problem of mental illness in families. The book covers several timely topics.

Rating: 5/5

Three paperback cozies I received from Berkley Prime Crime have the expected teasing titles and eye catching covers.
Clairvoyant and Present Danger (Bay Island Psychic Mystery #3)
Clairvoyant and Present Danger
Clairvoyant and Present Danger by Lena Gregory is #3 in the Bay Island Psychic Mystery.
After communications with a ghost land her in the middle of a murder investigation, Cass Donovan has to wonder if her gifts are really more a curse.
Pekoe Most Poison (A Tea Shop Mystery #18)

Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs is the 18th in the Tea Shop Mystery Series.  I love these books for their descriptions of the more genteel and traditional side of the south, in particular Charleston, and for the recipes for sandwiches, scones, and cookies always included at the end of each book. 

The setting is the Indigo Tea Shop with owner Theodosia Browning and her tea expert/sommelier Drayton, who manage to become embroiled in intrigues and murders that they have to help solve. In this book, Theodosia is invited to a "Rat Tea" by a prominent Charleston hostess. I can't wait to find out just what a rat tea is and why it has this off-putting name.

The Fast and the Furriest (Second Chance Cat Mystery #5)
The Fast and the Furriest by Sofie Ryan is #5 in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series set in North Harbor, Maine. Sarah Grayson runs the Second Chance bookstore with the help of her right-hand man Mac and her rescue cat, Elvis. Mac gets into trouble when an old flame shows up in town and then get killed. He is the main suspect. 

What 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.

Jan 19, 2018

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James

Twelve Angry Librarians is the eighth in the Cat in the Stacks series, by Miranda James
Published February 21, 2018, Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery
Charlie and Diesel must find a killer in a room full of librarians... 
Light-hearted librarian Charlie Harris is known around his hometown of Athena, Mississippi, for walking his cat, a rescued Maine Coon named Diesel. 

Book beginning:
"But I don't want to do it."
I glared at my administrative assistant and longtime friend, Melba Gilley. "You know how much I hate public speaking. Why can't Forrest Wyatt do it? College presidents do this kind of thing all the time."

Page 56:
"I grant you he's a colossal annoyance most of the time," I said. "But what has he done that would make someone see killing him as a solution?"

A room full of librarians would certainly prevent me from doing many things, not to mention commit a murder. Who would be so daring? The premise of the mystery is certainly an intriguing one. And having a Maine Coon cat as an assistant sleuth is an added intriguing entertainment in this cozy. 

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

Jan 15, 2018

It's Monday: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

As Bright as Heaven
As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
Publication: February 6, 2018, Berkley Books
Genre: historical fiction

Only Killers and Thieves
(A) new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love....But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. (publisher)
We don't have an epidemic today in winter 2018 although enough people are affected by this flu season. Am eager to see how they dealt with the epidemic in 1918.

I am also reading Arundhati Roy's book, The God of Small Things in French, a few dollars less than the English version, on kindle. With the French translation, I feel as if I'm doing two good things at once - learning more French and reading a good book. More of an incentive to read a Man Booker Prize winner (1997) too!

Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth also arrived a bit ago.
Publication: February 6, 2018 by Harper Collins
Genre: historical fiction
Two adolescent brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power after a tragedy shatters their family in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia. (publisher)

What are you reading this week?
Memes: It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Jan 12, 2018

Book Review: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, January 9, 2018, Soho Press
Genre: historical mystery

This is the first in a new mystery series featuring a female Parsi lawyer at Mystry Law, a law firm in Bombay, India during the 1920s.
Having liked Sujata Massey's unusual and suspenseful Rei Shimura Mysteries set in Japan, I was eager to read her new novel featuring a female lawyer/sleuth in Bombay in the 1920s when there were so few professional career women. Perveen Mistry works in her father's law firm and was entrusted with the legal papers regarding the inheritance of three widows of a Muslim mill owner. Since they are in purdah, screened from the view of the public, Perveen, as a woman, is the ideal lawyer to help the widows. Complications involving a male guardian of the women arise and threaten the women's future and livelihood. Perveen steps in to protect the women but events lead to tension and murder. 

I enjoyed the historical and cultural aspects of The Widows of Malabar Hill as well as the character of Perveen, a young woman trying to find her way in a patriarchal society.  Perveenis is modeled on India's first woman lawyer, Cornelia Sorabji, a Parsi who practised in the 1920s . The plot is well structured and the book seems to be the start of a very promising historical mystery series.  

Book beginning:
A Stranger's Gaze
Bombay February 1921

On the morning Perveen saw the stranger, they'd almost collided. 
Parveen had come upon him half-hidden in the Portico entrance to Mistry House. The unshaven, middle-aged man appeared as if he had slept for several days and nights in his broadcloth shirt and the grimy cotton dhoti that hung in a thousand creases from his waist to his ankles. His small, squinting eyes were tired, and he exuded a rank odor of sweat mixed with betel nut. 
A visitor to Mistry Law this early was rare....

Page 57:
It felt almost treacherous to be in the car with such a man, because Perveen had been to gatherings with Indians seeking self-rule. In Oxford and London, she and Alice had attended a few such lectures together. 

Thanks to Soho Press for an advance edition for review.
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

Jan 9, 2018

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk: First Chapter

"At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red (2002) is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers. 

The Sultan has commissioned a cadre of the most acclaimed artists in the land to create a great book celebrating the glories of his realm. Their task: to illuminate the work in the European style. But because figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam, this commission is a dangerous proposition indeed. 

Part fantasy and part philosophical puzzle, My Name is Red is a kaleidoscopic journey to the intersection of art, religion, love, sex and power."(publisher)

First chapter:
I Am a Corpse

I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well. Though I drew my last breath long ago and my heart has stopped beating, no one, apart from that vile murderer, knows what's happened to me.  As for that wretch, he felt for my pulse and listened for my breath to be sure I was dead, then he kicked me in the midriff, carried me to the edge of the well, raised me up and dropped me below....

for nearly four days I've been missing. My wife and children must be searching for me: my daughter, spent from crying, must be staring fretfully at the courtyard gate. Yes, I know they are all at the window, hoping for my return. 

I am listening to this as an audiobook, which has a pretty good narrator. 

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon.

Jan 6, 2018

Sunday Salon: British Mysteries and Love in Mumbai

The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai

New books on my shelf:

The False Inspector Dew by Peter Lovesey, October 1, 2001
Publisher: Soho Press
Genre: British mystery

The year is 1921. A passionate affair between voracious romance reader Alma Webster and her dentist, Walter Baranov, has led to his wife’s murder. The lovers take flight aboard the Mauretaniaand the dentist takes the name of Inspector Dew, the detective who arrested the notorious wife killer Dr. Crippen. But, in a disquieting twist, a murder occurs aboard ship and the captain invites “Inspector Dew” to investigate. (publisher)

The Heart is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai by Elizabeth Flock, 2018
Publication: Harper
Genre: travel, contemporary
In the vein of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, an intimate, deeply reported and revelatory examination of love, marriage, and the state of modern India—as witnessed through the lives of three very different couples in today’s Mumbai. (publisher)

I have finished two good books since the beginning of this year:
Blue Monday (Frieda Klein, #1)
Blue Monday (Frieda Klein #1) by Nicci French, 2011
Setting: London, England
Genre: mystery
Tuesday's Gone (Frieda Klein, #2)
Tuesday's Gone (Frieda Klein #2) by Nicci French, July 19, 2012, Penguin
Seting: London, England
Genre: mystery
The crimes and solutions of #1 are discussed and followed up in #2. I suggest reading the Frieda Klein mysteries in sequence.

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

Jan 5, 2018

Book Review: Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue Monday (Frieda Klein, #1)

Blue Monday (Frieda Klein #1) by Nicci French, 2011
Setting: London, England
Genre: mystery
Source: library ebook

I discovered Nicci French through other bloggers and decided to begin with the first in this series. I was not disappointed and really enjoyed the character of Dr. Frieda Klein, an unusual psychiatrist who used her insight to help solve a mystery involving one of her patients. There are also twists and turns in the plot that kept me interested. I'm looking forward to #2 in the series!

Summary: Dr. Klein notices a similarity between her distraught patient's dreams and the disappearance of a five-year-old child. She unravels the mystery and reveals the link to another child's disappearance twenty years earlier. 

Book beginning:
In this city there were many ghosts. She had to take care. She avoided the cracks between the paving stones, skipping and jumping, her feet in their scuffed lace-up shoes landing in the blank spaces. She was nimble at this hopscotch by now. She had done it every day on her way to school and back ever since she could remember, first holding onto her mother's hand, dragging and jerking her as she leaped from one safe place to another; then on her own. Don't step on the cracks. Or what? ...

I am looking forward to the next in the series. 
Meme: visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Jan 1, 2018

Meme: My Life in Books 2017

Got this meme from a couple of bloggers years ago and have done it for several years.  My Life in Books, using titles of books from my reading for 2017.  Join in if you like.  

Which book (titles) read in 2017 describe your life so far?

Describe myself:
The Keeper of Lost Things

How do I feel:
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Describe where I currently live:
Glass Houses

 If I could go anywhere, where I would go:
The Little French Bistro

My favorite form of transportation:
Walking with Peety

My best friend(s) is/are:
The Widows of Malabar Hill

My friends and I are:
Sarong Party Girls

What’s the weather like:
Into Thin Air

Favorite Time of Day:
The Twilight Wife

What is life to you:
Little Fires Everywhere

You fear:
Rich People Problems

What is the best advice you have to give:
Cooking for Picasso

Thought for the day:
The Rules Do Not Apply

How I would like to die:
Pushing Up Daisies

My soul’s present condition:
Are You Sleeping

I looked up past memes and see the last one I filled out was for 2015.  Join in and have fun with it.

Click on each book title to see the description on goodreads.

Book Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant

My 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge has been met! I read 105 of 95 books pledged, the last being
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.

My comments:
Surprising yet familiar, The Buried Giant recalls old Arthurian tales and fables, Tolkien, and Dante.   I am still considering possible meanings to all the elements of the story of a journey into the past and into the future.  There are themes of the elusiveness of memory, forgetfulness and remembering, romance, and history. And the theme of secrets buried or forgotten in the mists and slowly revealed.

The protagonist, Beatrice, and her husband Axl, set out on a journey into the unknown, barely remembering where their son lives and hoping they will find his village. They are joined on their trip by a Saxon warrior on a dragon-slaying quest, a young boy they help to protect, an elderly knight reminiscent of Don Quijote, and finally the boatman who will row them to an island, the end of their journey.

I loved this unusual book with so many literary and classical reminders. The elderly couple Beatrice and Axl and their devotion to each other is particularly poignant, in spite of human weaknesses, past mistakes, and a shadowy future.

My rating: 5/5.

Travel Can Be Fun or Not: Sunday Salon

Books read and to-be-read The Trip by Phoebe Morgan, May 25, 2024; HQ, NetGalley Genre: mystery, adventure, travel fiction, adult fiction B...