Feb 28, 2020

Book Review: Al Dente's Inferno by Stephanie Cole

Al Dente's Inferno by Stephanie Cole, Tuscan Cooking School Mystery #1, Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery set in Tuscany, Italy
Source: review copy from publisher

I loved the descriptions and setting of an olive farm and house in Tuscany, with an American woman, Nell, who comes to Italy to form a cooking school for a famous Italian chef.

Nell is surprised by the sudden appearance of her ex-boyfriend, a filmmaker who is supposed to make a documentary on the house and planned school. A dinner to promote the cooking school and the chef admits several distinguished members of the public to the house. A murder that later occurs has everyone puzzled and distraught, and Nell decides to not leave Italy until she has solved the crime and put the house, its chef, and its occupants back in order.

I enjoyed reading this book, its characters and setting, and the writing which seems to not follow the rote pattern that we find in many cozy mysteries.

Book beginning:
Twenty minutes after the train deposited me on a warm, deserted platform on Camucia-Cortona, Italy, I was still waiting for my ride. 

Page 56:
"...That woman is key to this whole operation, Nell. It's not Pop, it's not me, and it's not you."

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

Submitted for the 

European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

Feb 23, 2020

Sunday Salon: Mysteries and More

It's still cold here in spite of spring toying with us. It will be 50 today! but then will be back in the 20 next week. Go figure!

What are you reading this week?
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Death on Tuckernuck (A Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery Book 6)
Death on Tuckernuck by Francine Mathews, May 5, 2020, Soho Crime
Genre: mystery set on an island off Nantucket
Source: advance uncopyedited edition
Objective rating: 5

This was my first Merry Folger Mystery and the 6th in the stand alone books in the series. I was fascinated by the setting - an isolated island off Nantucket during a Category 3 hurricane.  Merry is preparing for her imminent wedding to Peter but her boss in the police department insists she do her part in getting people ready for the approaching hurricane and continue to work till the very last minute before her two-week leave.

Dionis and her father Jack are caretakers on Tuckernuck Island and get involved in a murder case while boarding up houses and evacuating island dwellers to safety on the larger island of Nantucket. Merry and Dionis are central to the action of the book, as Dionis deals with a killer on the desolate island and Merry tries to find out the identities of  two people found on a beached yacht on Tuckernuck.

Suspenseful and atmospheric, the mystery novel also takes you into the heart of a hurricane off Cape Cod.

Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (A Sassy Cat Mystery #1)
Mimi Lee Gets a Clue

Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer J. Chow, March 10, 2020, Berkley/Penguin
Genre: cozy mystery set in LA
Source: publisher, for review
Objective rating: 4.5/5

This is the first in the Sassy Cat Mystery series, with a likable main character, pet groomer Mimi, and her sidekick, a fluffy white Persian cat named Marshmallow. Mimi wants to expose Russ, a local Chihuahua dog breeder, for inbreeding dogs and for the unsanitary conditions of his facilities, but gets in trouble when she is a suspect for crimes involving Russ.

Written with lots of humor aimed mainly at the dog culture of LA - dog yoga or doga, dog acupuncture, dog gym, overly dressed, pampered, and bejeweled dogs, etc.  - Mimi Lee Gets a Clue is a fun read for dog lovers and mystery lovers alike.

More cozies to be read:

Death with a Dark Red Rose (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery #5)
Death with a Dark Red Rose

Death with a Dark Red Rose by Julia Buckley, February 25, 2020, Berkley Books
Genre: cozy mystery 

This is another mystery series that is new to me. Death with a Dark Rose is the fifth in A Writer's Apprentice Mystery with novelist Lena London, who solves a murder involving a new corporation in town that is buying up real estate in her idyllic hometown. 

Al Dente's Inferno (Tuscan Cooking School Mystery #1)
Al Dente's Inferno 

by Stephanie Cole is another brand new mystery series, Tuscan Cooking School Mystery #1, just published by Berkley.
Genre: cozy mystery set in Tuscany, Italy

Chef Nell Valenti wants to open a cooking school in Tuscany with the help of Chef O. When a filmmaker, an old boyfriend, is murdered and Chef O disappears, Nell hs to solve the murder before she can get her new school going. And there is a recipe for ricotta stuffed peppers at the end of the book!

My next book is a non-cozy read, a thriller!
Without Sanction (Matt Drake #1)
by Don Bentley, March 3, 2020, Berkley
Genre; thriller, suspense set in Syria

Yet another first in a series, the Matt Drake Thriller series begins with this novel set in Syria. DIA operative Matt Drake left people behind when he escaped the country, but now returns to set things right and to help a scientist who wants to defect.

What books have you read or plan on reading?
I was glad to find two fairly light mystery novels to read, and hope to get some more under my belt. 

Feb 16, 2020

Sunday Salon: Two 2018 Thrillers

The last of the snow for the year? One can only hope. 

It's been too cold to go out much except for chores. I miss walking in the parks, and the indoor gyms are too risky for getting or spreading the flu. Happy near end of winter! I hope the hedgehog was right and spring is just around the corner.

The Day of the Dead (Frieda Klein #8)

Finished reading The Day of the Dead by Nicci French, the last book in the Frieda Klein suspense, thriller series. It was such a perfect ending, I am reluctant to go back and read the previous two books in the series that I missed.  Characterization and plot plus build up of suspense are key elements in the novels. 

I'm currently reading The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy, a book I read in 2018 but whose plot I have forgotten. I wonder what I will think now about the book, a suspense and psychological thriller about a single mother, her missing boy, and her mommy group.


The Perfect Mother
I'm in the middle of The Perfect Mother and find the idea of mommy groups interesting, how helpful or how unhelpful they could be to new mothers looking for support. In this book, the craziness of a new mother leads to the kidnapping of another mother's child.

What are you reading this week?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Feb 10, 2020

Bells for Eli by Susan Beckham Zurenda


Bells for Eli

by Susan Beckham Zurenda

March 2, 2020

Bells for Eli is a Coming of Age story.
Bells for Eli is a lyrical exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy. First cousins Ellison Winfield and Adeline Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s.  
But Eli's tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately defends him...  
(Two) young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph. (publisher)

Memes: Mailbox Monday and  The Sunday Post 

Feb 9, 2020

Sunday Salon: Liars and Stalkers

There are a lot of liars in mystery and suspense titles these days. Here are three that I've recently finished and liked.

The Truth Behind the Lie by Sara Lövestam

The Truth Behind the Lie by Sara Lovestam

Published August 27, 2019, Minotaur
Genre: mystery set in Sweden
Source: library book

An unusual private investigator, a young Iranian illegal immigrant in Sweden, tries to help a single mother Pernilla find her missing six-year-old daughter. The investigator, in spite of being impoverished and alone, himself in hiding, goes to unusual lengths using persistence, keen observation, and an analytical mind, to solve the mystery.

Well developed characters and a well planned story using a struggling immigrant in Europe as a main character made this a very interesting read.

I've also read:

The Liar's Child by Carla Buckley

The Lying Room by Nicci French

Click on the titles to see my reviews of the books on goodreads. 

Currently reading:

The Flower Arrangement
The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin, published June 16, 2016, Orion
Genre; contemporary fiction set in Ireland
Source: library book
"Every bouquet tells a story. And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin." 

New on the shelf:

The Wife Stalker

The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine, to be published May 28, 2020, HarperCollins Publishers

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Feb 2, 2020

Sunday Salon: The Lying Room; Patsy; Paris by the Book and more

Finished reading:

The Lying Room

The Lying Room by Nicci French

Published: October 1, 2019, William Morrow
Genre: thriller, suspense
Source: library book

A busy mom of three must hide the story of her secret lover while protecting her teenage daughter and trying to find a killer. Suspenseful and well delivered plot that had me guessing till the end. Another of Nicci French's mystery books that I really enjoyed reading.


Patsy: A Novel by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Published June 4, 2019, Liveright
Genre: contemporary fiction, immigrant fiction
Source: library book 

A story of Jamaican immigrants to the U.S., those with and without proper visas, a novel of those who left the island and those who remained at home. Patsy leaves because of social and economic reasons, trying to join her former school friend who seems to be doing well in America. She leaves behind her young daughter Tru to be raised by Tru's policeman father and his wife. 

The novel offers a stark comparison of their chances for success in both situations. 

The author is Jamaican-American, born on the island, and her book rings with authenticity, both culturally and socially. There are also LGBT themes, which is interesting, as the island culture has been know for its strong homophobic stance. 

I recommend the book for those interested in immigrant stories from the Caribbean, and finding a book for Black History Month.

Currently reading:

Paris by the Book

Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan

Published April 3, 2018, Dutton
Genre: contemporary fiction
Source: library book 

I was drawn to the book by the promise of Paris and books. The ratings on Goodreads have been fair to middling, but I want to read for myself to see if I will like it any better than other reviewers. The author wrote Cloud Atlas, so I'm hopeful. 

New on the shelf: 

One Minute Out (Gray Man, #9)

One Minute Out by Mark Greaney

Publication: February 18, 2020, Berkley
Genre: political thriller, suspense
Source: review copy 

This is the ninth in the series, so I'm sure it's popular. This novel deals with the CIA, the main character, the Gray Man, an assassin, and human trafficking. 

What are you reading this week?
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month: Four Novels

For  Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month   (May),  I'm posting my book reviews by several Asian American novelists. The f...