Dec 31, 2021

Book Review: The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

The Long Weekend 
by Gilly Macmillan is to be published March 29, 2022 by Century. 

This thriller/mystery/suspense novel has a setting that so many other mysteries have adopted. An isolated place where people go for a quick trip or vacation; their lives then upended and threatened, where they can't trust each other. In this book, the Dark Fell Barn in the wilds of northern England in the middle of a heavy rain storm, is the perfect setting for fear, paranoia, and the sense of danger.

Three women arrive at the Barn for a long weekend getaway, and wait for their husbands to arrive the next day. But the husbands are threatened in a mysterious letter that waits for the women at the Barn. They are told that one of the men would be killed before they can arrive.

The women panic, suspect each other of harboring secrets, and flail around in the barn and outdoors in the storm, without access to wifi or cell phone connection, or an easy way to leave in the storm. 

Makes for a perfect situation for a mystery.  

What makes the suspense: 

A writer can also throw in personal failings, such as health, physical or mental, to gum up the works and prevent smooth sailing for the characters in the book. 

In The Long Weekend, you can find creeping dementia, alcoholism, dyslexia, dissasociative mental disorder sprinkled among the main characters, and of course, psychosis in the killer.  Add all these together in a mix, and there is a pot of suspense boiling for the reader. 

Other thrillers: 

I am finding that mystery writers are becoming more adventurous and creative about throwing people into situations and creating personalities that are out of the norm, to foster suspense in their books. But you can ask, what is out of the norm these days? 

I gave the thriller five stars, just for doing all the above reasonably well. 

Dec 26, 2021

Sunday Salon: Au Soleil Redoute by Michel Bussi

 Reading books in French: 

I've cleared my ereader of tons of books borrowed, but am buying new ebooks to keep. One is by a favorite French author, Michel Bussi, whose series of thrillers take place in Normandy and all the exotic places overseas that are overseen by the French Republic. 

In Au Soleil Redoute we go to Hiva-Oa, the largest island in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, where French painter Paul Gaugain and singer-song writer Jacques Brel both lived and died. 

In the story, five would-be writers, all female, are chosen to attend a writer's retreat in Hiva-Oa, a small, isolated, but beautiful island. Each of the five women have their own cabins at the island hotel chosen for the event. However, a la Agatha Christie, the writers begin to be methodically picked off, by an unknown murderer or murderers. First, the leader of the retreat, a well known but controversial author, mysteriously disappears, and then the writers' begin to be killed. 

Young Maima, daughter of one of the writers, teams up with Yanna, a former policeman and husband of another of the writers, to investigate on their own, dangerous as that may be, and protect their family member. 

The unique culture, geography, and atmosphere of Hiva-Oa form the background of the novel, and Marqeusian traditional beliefs and religion form contribute much to the mystery and intrigue of the book.

 A well devised plot, original and diverse characters, and superb story telling made this one of the best in the author's series, in my opinion. It was published in 2020. 

Newly arrived book: 
Venice Beach 
by William Mark Habeeb, was released August 17, 2021, published by Rootstock Publishing. Courtesy of Wiley Sachek Publicity.

"Venice Beach" is a moving tale of the resilience of youth and the importance of reflecting on our stories (publisher). 

A 13-year-old boy without a name travels cross country to Los Angeles, and finds himself in Venice Beach, at a shelter for runaway and homeless youth. The story unfolds of his finding a life for himself. I'm on page 34 and eating it up so far. 

What are you reading this week?

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

Dec 12, 2021

Sunday Salon: Murders and a Saint

 Currently reading: 

Murder at the Porte de Versailles by Cara Black, March 1, 2022, Soho Crime, ARC. The 20th in the Aimee Leduc Investigations series set in Paris. 

A Saint from Texas by Edmund White, August 6, 2020, Bloomsbury. Acquired.

Identical twin sisters born in Texas: one becomes famous in Parisian society and the other approaches sainthood in the Catholic Church. 

Finished reading:

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny, August 24, 2021, Minotaur. The 14th in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series set in Quebec.

My comments: 

A police procedural and investigation par excellence.

 The time is contemporary, post-pandemic, and the plot revolves around a proposal by a well known statistician to force euthanasia on all of society's elderly, sick, and disabled. 

But is the violent murder of a woman in the small village of Three Pines a case of mistaken identity and was the controversial statistician the real target? 

The book has us guessing and being convinced of one or another of at least four different suspects before the reader is led away in another direction, in each case.

Well crafted plot and writing, this novel is filled with thought provoking questions on the value of family life and of human life in all its forms and stages.  I thought this to be one of the best, if not the best book in the series. 

What are you reading this week?

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

Dec 5, 2021

Sunday Salon: A Cozy Mystery Christmas

 Holiday and Christmas mysteries anyone? 

Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women by Emily Brightwell, October 17, 2017, courtesy of Berkley.

A man is shot under cover of fireworks at a Guy Fawkes party. With Christmas almost here, Inspector Witherspoon and everyone in his household is upset at the possibility of having to cancel their holiday plans—all to solve a case that seems impossible. (publisher)

Trimmed With Murder: A Seaside Knitters Mystery #10 by Sally Goldenbaum, published November 3, 2015 by NAL

Wreck the Halls: A Home Repair is Homicide Mystery by Sarah Graves, October 2002, Bantam 
Who can get anything done during the holidays, when there's a killer on the loose? And in someone's house!

What holiday books are you planning to read?

New arrival:

Murder at the Port de Versailles by Cara Black, March 1, 2022, Soho Crime, ARC

I've been following Aimee and her investigations in Paris since the start of the mystery series. This is her most recent. 

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

Nov 28, 2021

Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction and Contemporary Books

 Now reading: 

The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel, December 1, 2021, was offered online as one of the First Reads. It's an historical fiction set in Shanghai in 1940, during the Japanese occupation.

 Aiyi, an heiress and owner of a nightclub, falls in love with Ernest, an impoverished Jewish refugee fleeing the Nazis in Germany. The two people are devastated and separagted by war in Shanghai, a city divided into  European and local Chinese sections, all overshadowed by the occupying Japanese.  I'm learning more about this fascinating period in Shanghai's WWII history.

A book I rescued from my give-away pile is The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch, a novel about a woman with dissociatie amnesia, having lost her memory after a plane crash and finding herself married to a man she does not remember. 

I am re-reading it and reposting a review I wrote in 2012!

Title:The Song Remains the Same: A Novel
Author: Allison Winn Scotch
Putnam Adult; April 2012
Objective rating: 4/5

Nell Slattery has lost her memory after a plane crash and is lied to by her relatives and her husband about details of her past. She doesn't recognize her husband, her mother, or her sister, and it seems she has become another person - a more outgoing and less stuffy and conservative person she hears she used to be.

Nell slowly discovers the truths about her marriage, her childhood, and the disappearance of her father, a well-known artist. She makes a decision to be a different person from the one she used to be. I thought the ending was a bit prolonged, however, and I was also a bit surprised by Nell's decision re her dad at the end of the book as this didn't seem totally in character. Overall, however, a very good read!

What are you reading this week? 

Linked to The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also, Sunday Salon

Nov 21, 2021

Book Tour: the moon won't be dared by Anne Leigh Parrish


About the moon won’t be dared

Author: Anne Leigh Parrish

Publisher: Unsolicited Press (October 14, 2021)

Paperback: 152 pages

the moon won’t be dared is a poetry collection by award-winning author Anne Leigh Parrish that features artwork by Lydia Selk. In this momentous debut collection, the poet harnesses language to give readers a new vision of nature, the impossible plight of womanhood, love, aging, and beauty. Being a woman in a male-dominated society affords Anne Leigh Parrish the space to witness the world on an uneven keel. Parrish pays tribute to beauty, but also weaves the harsh truths of betrayal and brutality into the filaments holding the collection together.

My comments:

Poetry is subjective, so that any reader will get something different from reading a specific poem. These are some of the poems and lines that stood out for me from Anne Leigh Parrish's book of poetry.
I looked for, and found, skillful descriptions and use of imagery to set mood and tone, and to convey meanings. 

obsession:"the meager glow/of a cande/flickers away the hours  in a gentle/play/of shadows"
vacation: "palm trees sway in the breeze/hearts flatten again the gale of deceit/why expect truth?"

don't we always? "look me in the eye and smile/toss me a spark/from your heart's fire/take me home and hold me long enough...."

the river: "ride, then name the river that runs/through your life/carry no grief for the passing years...."

That the poet chose to write only in the lower case, using no capital letters in her titles or poems, signifies to me her wish to have her words flow in a stream, like a river, to captivate your interest and establish her moods. 

I will pick up this book of poems now and again to continue to enjoy the poet's view of life and her entwining of nature and feeling. 

About the author:

Anne Leigh Parrish is the author of nine previously published books: A Winter Night, a novel (Unsolicited Press, 2021); What Nell Dreams, a novella & stories (Unsolicited Press, 2020); Maggie’s Ruse, a novel, (Unsolicited Press, 2017); The Amendment, a novel (Unsolicited Press, 2017); Women Within, a novel (Black Rose Writing, 2017); By the Wayside, stories (Unsolicited Press, 2017); What Is Found, What Is Lost, a novel (She Writes Press, 2014); Our Love Could Light The World, stories (She Writes Press, 2013); and All The Roads That Lead 

Tour schedule here.  Organized by Lisa Munley  TLC Book Tours

Linked to The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also, Sunday Salon

Nov 14, 2021

The Abyssinian by Jean-Christophe Rufin: Sunday Salon

Something completely different:

 in my reading

I was set to give away a book long on my shelves, The Abyssinian, but took another look at this 400 page book  and decided I was in the mood, finally, to read and perhaps enjoy it. I am now in the middle of this extraordinary historical novel about an actual French embassy to the king of Abyssinia in 1699. The writing is superb and the fictionalized adventures of a French herbalist/apothecary as the emissary to Abyssinia, modern day Ethiopia, no less than astounding. 

The author, Jean-Christophe Rufin, is a French author and doctor, one of the founders of Doctors Without Borders, and a former French ambassador to Senegal.  

What are you reading this week?

Looking through Goodreads this morning, I came across a book recommended as "similar" to the Abyssinian, in other words a book about travellers from afar to a new country. This will be my next read. 

The Discovery of America by the Turks by Jorge Amado, a romantic comedy by the incomparable Brazilian author Amado, a spoof on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, in which two Turks are persuaded to try to win over a Brazilian shrew. 

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

Nov 7, 2021

Sunday Salon: Three Books This Week

In my mailbox

Red Is My Heart by Antoine Lauraine, illustrated by Le Sonneur, translation

Genre: illustrated romance novel; literary novel

The narrator has had his heart broken and tries to retrace his steps taken with his loved one. He wanders the streets remembering, and  the novel ends with a hopeful note that he may find a new love very soon. 

The story is cleverly illustrated in black and white drawings, with a red dot or spot that may represent love lost in the distance. I read it easily in one sitting, enchanted by the words and by the drawings. 

From the library:

I couldn't resist another psychological thriller, Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger, published October 5, 2021, Park Row.

This one centers around an online dating match, when the narrator is ghosted by someone she thought she had developed a close relationship with. He simply texted "Sorry" and disappeared without any other explanation. When it turns out he might be someone seen with other girls, girls who had mysteriously disappeared, the narrator decides to find him and the truth. 

I'm in the middle of the book so far, and enjoying it. Since I have been forgetting a lot of books in this genre soon after I've finished reading them, I wonder if this one will stay with me and be more memorable. 

For book club:

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood, August 2017
Genre: contemporary fiction

A woman joins a book club for companionship after her marriage begins to fall apart after 25 years. Ava rediscovers a book from her past that has helped her and she embarks on a personal quest to find the book and its author. 

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  

Nov 5, 2021

Khahn Ha: A Mothers Tale: Book Tour

A Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha: On Tour

Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh HaA Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

Publisher: C&R Press (October 15, 2021)
Category: Linked Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Tour dates: October 11-November 24, 2021
ISBN: 978-1949540239
Available in Print and ebook, 150 pages

Description Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

A Mother’s Tale is a tale of salvaging one’s soul from received and inherited war-related trauma. Within the titular beautiful story of a mother’s love for her son is the cruelty and senselessness of the Vietnam War, the poignant human connection, and a haunting narrative whose set ting and atmosphere appear at times otherworldly through their land scape and inhabitants.

Captured in the vivid descriptions of Vietnam’s country and culture are a host of characters, tortured and maimed and generous and still empathetic despite many obstacles, including a culture wrecked by losses. Somewhere in this chaos readers will find a tender link between the present-day survivors and those already gone. Rich and yet buoyant with a vision-like quality, this collection shares a common theme of love and loneliness, longing and compassion, where beauty is discovered in the moments of brutality, and agony is felt in ecstasy.

My comments:

The Vietnam War ended for the United States in 1975, but for many who were personally touched by the conflict, the results lasted a much longer time, and may even persist to the present day. 

The stories of Khanh Ha in A Mother's Tale are testiment to the endurance of the memories of the history of the war in Vietnam, of the soldiers on both sides and of their families and loved ones who survived. 

Though frank and brutal in their honesty, the stories are a permanent reminder of the horrors of  war and of the consequences the mothers, families, and survivors had to face. 

The book includes descriptions of men injured and maimed by the war,  whose survival depend so much on families and their ability to cope and endure. They also include the voices of the soldiers themselves, both American and Vietnamese, both North and South. 

Mrs. Rossi in Mrs. Rossi's Dream is also a survivor. In her story, she has come to Vietnam from the United States to try to find the bones of her deceased soldier son in a dense, swampy forest, filled with the bones of so many others on both sides of the conflict. Hers is only a dream in the face of the stark reality that time plays.

It is not easy to read these accounts, but it is important that they exist, to remind us of a time in history from which we can all learn important lessons.  

Praise for A Mother’s Tale and Other Stories by Khanh Ha:


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Betty Toots Book Reviews Nov 12 Review & Interview

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Denise D. Amazon Nov 19 Review

Ilana WildWritingLife Nov 22 Review & Guest Post

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Nov 23 Review

vailable now, it is for pre-sale: C&R Press

Nov 2, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for a Reluctant Reader

 Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is
 Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading

I wouild offer the person a mix of fiction and non fiction, and of genres.

A memoir on climbing 100 mountains in Japan in one year
A thriller set in the Colorado mountains

A mystery with food set in Tuscany

A mystery set in and around Tahoe Lake, Nevada and California

The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli, set on an island resort where the visitors come to realize who they really are.

Title: The Iris Fan: A Novel of Feudal Japan by Laura Joh Rowland
Genre: historical mystery

Death with All the Trimmings
A cozy mystery: set in Key West, just in time for the holidays

Scorched Eggs
A light, cozy mystery by Laura Childs. 
The Nightingale Before Christmas

I enjoy humorous mystery novels too, and Donna Andrews writes these! 


Three Story House


Renovating an historic Memphis house together, three cousins discover that their failures in love, career, and family provide the foundation for their future happiness (publisher)

What books would you offer a reluctant reader? 

Oct 31, 2021

Sunday Salon: A New Genre of Books with "Girl" in the Title

There ought to be a new genre of mystery books titled: Girl Books, as there are now so many adult thrillers with "girl" in the title. I decided to look for them and have started reading and rereading. 

The Girl in Times Square by Paullina Simons, I read in March 2018, according to my Goodreads list. I cried then while reading it, and am crying now!

 My goodreads review
I don't remember crying so much while reading a book! The protagonist Lily grabs at your heart and doesn't let go. The author writes in dramatic superlatives, be warned - great love, great tragedy, great illness, great addiction, and an intriguing mystery of a missing girl, Lily's roommate. Enjoyed the excellent storytelling and characterizations in this book and looking forward to other novels by the author.   

Other Girl Books, mystery and non-mystery, I've found on my Kindle: 

I could go on listing for a while...What Girl Books have you read?
Why So Many Books Have 'Girl' in the Title by Emily St. John Mandel, an article printed in the October 31,2021 Time magazine, gives an overview of current and future book titles. 

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...