Apr 21, 2019

Sunday Salon: Cupcakes, Rural Texas, Gaslight Mystery, Court Dancer

Cozy Reading

I'm back to cozy reading, after a long hiatus, and after finding a delightful mystery involving cupcakes and death!

Dying for Devil's Food (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #11)
Dying for Devil's Food
Dying for Devil's Food by Jenn McKinlay is the 11th in the series with cupcake maker  Melanie Cooper and her friend and business partner Angie. Both get involved in solving murders and this book is no exception. The problem is that the dead person in this novel is found with one of Melanie's cupcakes in her hand!


As for rural Texas, 

The Gillespie County Fair
The Gillespie County Fair
In The Gillespie County Fair by Marc Hess, two intermarried pioneer families in a small Texas town lock horns over the sale of a homestead and just about destroy themselves. 


In historical mysteries, 

Murder on Trinity Place (Gaslight Mystery #22)
Murder on Trinity Place
Murder on Trinity Place by Victoria Thompson is the 22nd in the Gaslight mystery series, set in Victorian-era New York. Frank and Sarah Malloy solve another murder in this historical novel.



New from the library,


The Court Dancer
The Court Dancer
The Court Dancer by Kyung-Sook Shin is mesmerizing in the detail, description of an era,  and the characterization of the protagonist, a court dancer who would become famous in the Joseon Court of old Korea, 1891.  I am enjoying this one very much.


Finished reading

Newcomer (Detective Kaga, #2)
Newcomer
Newcomer by Keigo Higashino, published November 2018 by Minotaur Books, is a detailed police procedural set outside Tokyo. 
Detective Kaga gets involved in the lives of the people he is investigating while linking clues in a case just as someone would braid a rope out of single threads. We get to know several shop owners in a traditional shopping district, their lives and their crafts and goods, all during Kaga's investigation into a recent death. Any of the threads he picks up along the way could lead to the murderer of a divorced woman living in the area, and a few do. The ending is not predictable, nor is the unique personality and methods of the detective. I gave this library book five stars. 

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

Apr 14, 2019

Thriller: No Right Way by Michael Niemann :Sunday Salon

No Right Way (Valetin Vermeulen Thriller, #4)
No Right Way
No Right Way (A Valentin Vermeulen Thriller #4) by Michael Niemann, May 14, 2019, paperback
In a Turkish camp, Valentin Vermeulen  investigates why aid for Middle Eastern refugees is being intercepted
Source: thanks to Wiley Saichek of Saichek Publicity for a copy for possible review

I am reading several books at once, according to my reading mood - historical fiction, mystery, thriller, plus an historical novel for book club.

For historical fiction, there are 
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See (Korea) and
The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning (Shanghai)

and a mystery novel
The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte

Memes: The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  Stacking the Shelves, and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Apr 12, 2019

Book Review: The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1)
The Crossing Places
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths, August 2009, Quercus Books
Genre: mystery set in Norfolk, UK
A child's bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk coast, and the police ask local forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway to date them

Ruth is a lecturer at the local university, recognized as as expert in her field. She lives alone in a small cottage at the edge of a saltmarsh near the sea. Attracted to the local deputy chief inspector of police, Ruth is torn regarding her affections, as DCI Harry Nelson is married with two grown daughters. The two work together to solve the crimes and become romantically involved for one fateful night, in spite of his married status.

The personal and professional life of the unusual character, Ruth Galloway, pulls the reader in, and I found myself reading the second, third, and fourth books in the series, just to keep up with her life, personal and otherwise. There are several books to go in the series yet!

Thanks to Quercus for a review copy of this book. 
The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway, #2)
The Janus Stone

The House at Sea's End (Ruth Galloway, #3)
The House at Sea's End
A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway, #4)
A Room Full of Bones

Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway, #5)
Dying Fall
These are all the books in the series I've read so far, 1-5. They are all available at my library, in ebook form, hurray!  I am now starting No. 6, The Outcast Dead.

Have you read any in this series? 

Apr 8, 2019

Book Tour/Review: Mrs. Rossi's Dream by Khanh Ha



Mrs. Rossi’s Dream by Khanh Ha

Publisher:  The Permanent Press (March 1, 2019)
Category: Historical Fiction, Vietnam, Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Print and ebook, 312 pages
About: Mrs. Rossi, a retired high school principal from Maryland, travels to Vietnam with her adopted Vietnamese daughter Chi Lan, and is taken around the countryside by the narrator of the book, Giang, who works at their roadside inn as a driver.
During the Vietnam War, Giang defected from the north  and was sent to a reform camp for ten years, after which he served in the South Vietnamese army. In the book, he gives tours of the area to Mrs. Rossi and helps her to search for the remains of her son, an American who died in 1966-1967 during the war.

The exact place where Mrs. Rossi's son died is unknown, so Giang takes her to Military Zone 9, an approximate and possible location. It is now a vast wet woodland where families from the north and south have come to search for the bones of their dead. 

Giang tries to subtly tell Mrs. Rossi that soldiers' remains, after 20 years, are now scattered bones, and not identifiable one from the other in the jungle environment. Still, she persists.

Recommendation: In the book, we learn about the history of Vietnam and the consequences of colonization and occupation by the Chinese and the  French, and then by the Americans during the war. We learn also about the beauty of the land, the river, white water lilies floating on the water, the dramatic contrast with death and destruction of the war. 

We learn about the Vietnamese point of view of the war, their experiences, their language, history, the ghosts and the bones scattered throughout the country.  

In the end, Giang makes a confession to Mrs. Rossi, and they both weep for their losses, for their sadness, and both come to find sorrow, forgiveness, and common ground. 

Summary: A moving story, both sad and exhilarating in parts,  that is also a history and a description of a country torn by war and occupation over centuries, and an emotional journey of a mother's search for and memories of her son.

Rating: 5/5

Thanks to Teddy Rose and Virtual Author Book Tours for an ebook for this book tour. 

About Khanh HaMrs. Rossi’s Dream by Khanh Ha

Award winning author, Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (Black Heron Press) and The Demon Who Peddled Longing (Underground Voices).
 He is a seven-time Pushcart nominee, a Best Indie Lit New England nominee, twice a finalist of The William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Award, and the recipient of Sand Hills Prize for Best Fiction, and Greensboro Review’s Robert Watson Literary Prize in fiction. The Demon Who Peddled Longing was honored by Shelf Unbound as a Notable Indie Book. 
Ha graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Website: http://www.authorkhanhha.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorkhanhha
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorkhanhha
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/khanhha

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream available at AmazonBarnesandNoble

Enter to win a print copy or an ebook: https://www.virtualauthorbooktours.com/mrs-rossis-dream-by-khanh-ha-on-tour/

Apr 7, 2019

Sunday Salon: Historical, YA, Thriller, Contemporary Fiction

New book arrivals:

The Song of the Jade Lily
The Song of the Jade Lily
The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning, May 14, 2019, William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: historical and contemporary fiction
Setting: Vienna, Shanghai, Australia

I'm enjoying reading this novel about a Jewish family escaping from Nazi occupied Austria, traveling to Shanghai, China as refugees. We follow young Romy and her parents in Shanghai, moving back and forth in time to when Romy has her own family and grandchildren in Australia after leaving China at the end of WWII. And we see Romy's granddaughter Alexandra, trying to find her way in the present, 2016, through her family's wartime history. 


The Great Pretenders
The Great Pretenders
The Great Pretenders by Laura Kalpakian, Publication April 16, 2019, Berkley Books
Setting: Hollywood in the 1950s
Roxanne forges a career unique for women in the 1950s, becoming an agent for hungry young screenwriters. When she sells a script by a blacklisted writer under the name of a willing front man, more exiled writers seek her help. 

Cygnet
Cygnet
Cygnet by Season Butler, June 25, 2018, Harper
Genre: coming-of-age tale
A 17-year-old young woman comes of age in a community of the elderly rejecting the promise of youth.

Setting: an isolated island off New Hampshire populated by a community of the elderly


All of Us with Wings
All of Us With Wings
All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil, Soho Press
YA fantasy debut about love, found family, and healing is an ode to post-punk San Francisco through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl

The Snakes: A Novel
The Snakes
The Snakes by Sadie Jones, June 25, 2019, Harper
Genre: contemporary fiction
Bea and Dan, recently married,  visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy, France. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.


The Perfect Fraud
The Perfect Fraud

The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte, June 18, 2019, Harper
Genre: contemporary fiction
Claire works in the family business and calls herself a psychic, but she doesn’t really have “the gift” and hasn’t for a long time. She’s a fraud. When she meets Rena and Rena's disturbed daughter, events collide.

Which of the above books would you read first? Why?
Memes: The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  Stacking the Shelves, and It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Apr 1, 2019

Review: When You Read This by Mary Adkins

Review: When You Read This by Mary Adkins

When You Read This
When You Read This
Published February 5, 2019, Harper
Genre: epistolary novel (told through letters/email), contemporary fiction

This novel was brilliant. The story is told through blog posts and emails of many different characters, primarily Smith and his former secretary Iris, her sister Jade, and Smith's company intern, Carl. 

We learn at the beginning that Iris has died of cancer and has left Smith her blog posts to publish as a book after her death, her blog written while she was ill and undergoing chemotherapy.  Smith's public relations company is failing but things begin happening when he hires Carl, the college student intern, to replace Iris for a summer. Carl sets things in motion, through bumbling, interfering, and general nosiness about his boss, the business, and about publishing Iris's blog. 

The novel has a lot of humor, as in the emails and readers' responses to Iris's blogs. It also has pathos, sentimentality, and is in part a love story. It will have the reader crying and laughing at the same time, and is a book that I would call brilliant, excellently written and conceived.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance copy for my possible review. 


First chapter, first paragraph:

Simonyi Brand Management
New York, NY 10014

June 18

Dear Mr Simonyi:

I came upon your company on the Stanford University Employers Forum, on which your firm is listed as a place where Stanford students have had positive internship experiences previously. Grace Wang ('16) wrote that she had a wonderful summer working with you and your colleague Iris. While "wonderful" is rather nebulous and uninformative, her point is well made. I see that you have not posted a fall internship opening, but I am writing to express my interest in interning for you come September....
....

Sincerely,

Carl Von Snyder III
---------

Meme: Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.