Feb 28, 2021

It's Monday: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

 As part of my "new beginnings" in staying away from mysteries for a while, I'm rereading this book as I have forgotten what it's all about and I do like the title. It makes me think of spring!

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman, May 2, 2017, Berkley

Here are my comments on the book, dated May 5, 2017, but I've decided to reread it.

Summary and comments: Lil, widowed for three years with two young children, is a school text illustrator in Southern California. Her boss signs her up for a vegetable growing class at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden, to prep for the next project - illustrating a series of vegetable guides the company is planning.

Lil attends the six-week class, held on Saturdays and led by gardening professor Ed Bloem. She not only benefits from gardening and meeting new people, but sees the benefits to her sister and Lil's two young children who also participate in the class. 

Lil's sister-in-law Maggie arrives broken hearted by a cheating hubby and somehow the setting and the new arrangement in Lil's life help everyone around her. In the end, Lil finds a new occupation and new love, and a new acceptance of her widowhood.

I liked the story, as I love gardening, and found the vegetable growing tips in the book interesting and useful. Though parts of the plot are predictable, the reading is easy and pleasant, not only for readers who garden but anyone who likes a good romance.

 Meme: It's Monday: What Are You Reading is hosted by The Book Date

Feb 27, 2021

Sunday Salon: Reading Books Other than Mysteries, Thrillers

 Since last week, when I decided to skip thrillers and mysteries for a month or more, I've read the following books in other genres, realizing that I might not have picked them up or even finished them so soon before that decision! 

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, June 2019, Gallery Books

Genre: historical novel, romance

Setting: Tehran and USA

I cried a lot reading this one, especially towards the ending, and loved how the main characters expressed their sentiments, in sometimes poetic fashion. Set in Iran during the country's 1953 revolution, this romance breaks hearts, more than just the lovers', who are constrained by family as well as by the country's politics.  Roya and Brahman meet and fall in love in the stationery shop owned by Mr. Fakhri, who has a hand in the ultimate fate of these two lovers. 

I gave this an enthusiastic five but won't reveal more of the plot so as not to be a spoiler!


We Two Alone by Jack Wang, September 1, 2020

Genre; short stories, Chinese diaspora

I read this book at different times - the wonder of reading short stories I've found is being able to read them as you wish, over time or all at once. The collection is described as covering the Chinese diaspora across the globe over the past hundred years, and yet there are only seven stories, a few heartbreaking. Cultural and racial prejudice,  the demands of society and family, and the intrusion of real life impact the relationship between people in each of these stories. This explains the title of the short story collection, We Two Alone. 

Another five stars.


A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell, April 2019, Purnell

Genre: biography, history 

Setting: London, France, Spain, Italy, USA

A great book for WWII history buffs who want to follow the resistance in France that was aided by England and the Allies. It details numerous underground and subversive activities in Europe, many led by a young American woman, who was recruited by the British into Churchill's spy organization. One of the greatest spies in American history, she is called, although this book is the first to detail all Virginia Hall did to help win the war.

 I had to read this book slowly, as it's so packed with information and people and events during the resistance, told chronologically, that it's hard to digest all at once. Kudos to the author for putting these events all together and to show us the woman, the spy, and the heroine.  war. 

I'm currently reading Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter, April 6, 2021, a novel based on the life of Surrealist artist, Leonora Carrington, and set in France, England.

Next on my list will be The Anglophile's Notebook by Sunday Taylor, a book about Charlotte Bronte. 

Also Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang, March 2020, HarperCollins


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 26, 2021

Book Beginning: Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter

 I'm enjoying reading non-thriller/mystery books thus far , having "given up" reading that genre until mid April! Here's an historical art novel I'm in the middle of:


Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter, April 6, 2021

Genre: historical novel, Surrealism

Source:  Netgalley

This novel follows the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington and the art, drama, and romance that defined her coming-of-age during World War II.

 Artists like Andre Breton, Pablo Picasso, Lee Miller, Man Ray, and Salvador Dali, are challenging conventional approaches to art and life. Leonora begins a torrid romance with the artist Max Ernst in Paris, until they are forced to flee France at the beginning of the war. (details from the publisher)

Book beginning: 

Part I

Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale

Leonora, June 1937, London, England

It was Leonora's first dinner party as a grown woman, and Ursula and she were the hosts. The garden was Ursula's, but the party had been her idea - a garden party lit by the full moon, with white foods and attire because the moonlight called for it, and because Max Ernst was visiting London and had decided to join them. 

Page 56:

 "Father?" She thought of his fiery eyes, his cheeks ruddy with anger, thought of his parting words, May your shadow never darken my door again. You will die penniless, in a garret. "Is there any other way?"

 

Would you read on?

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.

Feb 23, 2021

First Chapter: A Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert

 First Chapter/First paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Yvonne@ Socrates Book ReviewsPost the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.


Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert, February 2020, Berkley

Genre: thriller

Setting: Thousand Islands region, upstate New York

A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. Senior Investigator Shana Merchant believes it all adds up to a killer in their midst—and that murder is a family affair.

First paragraph, chapter one

"Murder," I repeated, the word clumsy on my tongue. The last time I spoke it, I was in another world.

Tim rocked his office chair, testing the bounce on springs sticky with dust, and raised his empty coffee mug. "Murder on an island," he said. "If it didn't make me a heartless creep, I'd call this your lucky day, Shane. 

Would you read on?

I will not be reading this thriller till mid-April, as I have other books: nonfiction, literary fiction, and contemporary fiction I'll be reading  till then! 

Feb 21, 2021

Sunday Salon: No More Thrillers for a Month

 Maybe my last thriller for a month or so....I've decided to concentrate on nonfiction books and more literary novels, moving away from psych thrillers and mysteries for a time. It's Lent and I have to give us something I really, really like! But maybe I'll be surprised and enjoy other genres for a change. 


In the Name of Truth is the 8th in a series of 9 crime novels, so far, by Viveca Sten, set in the Swedish archipelago and the island of Sandhamn. I have one more to read, the 4th,  before the next book comes out later this year. She has signed a contract for three more Sandhamn books, till 2023! 

Books I intend to read during the next month:

Savage Feast, February 26th 2019, Harper

Genre: family memoir

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
Genre: nonfiction, history


Unsheltered

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver,  October 16, 2018, Harper
Genre: literary fiction

Bread and Salt: Stories by Valerie Miner, September 5, 2020, Whitepoint Press


Climb: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan by 

Feb 19, 2021

Friday Memes: The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cummings

 

The Moroccan Girl

The Moroccan Girl, February 12th, 2019, St. Martin's Press
A spy novelist is ordered to find a mysterious fugitive on the streets of Morocco.

Book beginning:
"Will you prefer to talk or to write everything down?"
"Talk," she said.
Somerville crossed the room and activated the voice recorder. The American had brought it from the Embassy. There was a small microphone attached to a stand, a glass of tap water and a plate of biscuits on the table.
"Ready?" he asked.
"Ready."

Page 56:

 The sealed package was somewhere beneath Carradine's feet in the chill of the baggage hold; he knew that it would contain the answers to his many questions and felt his professional obligation to Mantis dissipating with every passing mile. 

Book description: 
When he is approached by MI6 and asked to carry out a simple task on behalf of his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, Carradine jumps at the chance.

He soon finds himself on the trail of Lara Bartok, a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement targeting prominent right-wing political figures around the world. Caught between competing intelligence services who want Bartok dead, Carradine faces a choice: to abandon Bartok to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

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.


Feb 18, 2021

Audio Book: In Bad Company by Viveca Sten

 I'm spending the snow-in this week listening to audio books now, and have started with this one, which has a narrator that is easy to listen to and also very expressive in reading the dialogues. 


In Bad Company by Viveca Sten is the 9th in the Sandhamn Murder mysteries set in the Swedish archipelago and the island of Sandhamn.

I'm in the middle of listening to this domestic violence drama and police procedural, in which a brutal husband is also under investigation for drug trading and financial crimes. Prosecutor Nora Linde has to build a case against him, trying to persuade the wife, Mina, who has been moved to a safe home, to testify, to strengthen the case against him. 

I think I have about two or three others in this series to go, and I'm going to try to listen to the books instead of read them. I haven't listened much to books before, only a few while walking in the gym, but I find I'm enjoying the audio while snowed in and social distancing during this pandemic! One positive thing to come out of this situation! 

What books are keeping you company these days? Do you listen to audio books?

Feb 16, 2021

First Chapter: Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta, MD

 

First Chapter/First paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsPost the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.


Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta, MD

Published January 5, 2021, Simon & Schuster
Genre: health, self-help

First paragraph, first chapter:

Are You At Risk for Brain Decline?

Over the past few years, I have spent a great deal of time distilling the best evidence-based brain research into guidance for you. It is based on formal and informal conversations with colleagues and other experts in the world of neuroscience and human performance. In order to make it more useful, I have created a list of questions that are highly relevant to your brain health and potential.... 

Would read on?  

Top Ten Tuesday: Mysteries set during Mardi Gras and in Louisiana

 


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday she assigns a topic and then posts a top ten list that fits that topic. Freebie days: you may choose your own topic.


February 15: MARDI GRAS COLORS

Murder mysteries set in Louisiana and during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
 


Glitter Bomb by Laura Childs



Death Swatch by Laura Childs


Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs


Arf by Spencer Quinn



The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn



 Woof by Spencer Quinn




Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs


Gilt Trip by Laura Childs



Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron


Hot Blooded by Lisa Jackson

What did you do with this week's topic, Mardi Gras, in your Top Ten Tuesday? 


Feb 13, 2021

Sunday Salon: Scandinavian Thrillers

 We're snowed in for the next few days. Good time to catch up on reading. 

What I've finished:


I am enjoying all of the books in this series by Viveca Sten. The setting, islands in the Swedish archipelago, is unique, as are the characters in this police procedural set of thrillers.

In this sixth book, In Harm's Way Detective Thomas Andreasson visits the island of Sandhamn to investigate why the body of a world renowned journalist has been found covered in snow at a resort hotel. He decides it might be murder and not an accident as it first seems.

I found this thriller easy to read, with relatable characters and interesting description of place and setting. Another 4-5 stars.

What I'm reading: 


The Corpse Flower by Anne Mette Hancock will be published in October 2021. I got it from Netgalley and am in the middle of reading it. 

The thriller involves another journalist, Heloise, the main character, who must discover why a suspected murderess, Anna, is trying to contact her, possibly to have her story written. Set in Copenhagen, with a realistic cast of characters, this murder mystery is enjoyable so far, especially with the literary clues involving Heloise's name. 

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 12, 2021

Bread and Salt: Stories by Valerie Miner - Book Beginning

 


Bread and Salt: Stories by Valerie Miner, September 5, 2020, Whitepoint Press

The characters in these stories live and travel in Tunisia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Turkey, France, and the United States and consider their individual agency in both local and global contexts. (publisher)

Book beginning:

Il Piccolo Tesoro 
I'm stepping into an expresso bar, fragrant with strong coffee and sweet cornetti, when my attention is drawn uphill by a weathered pink and green sign offering a vacancy at Il Piccolo Tesoro. The small treasure. I'm not greedy. The adjective appeals as much as the noun promises. 

I chose this Ligurian village in the sensible way, by spreading a map of Italy across my kitchen table in Toronto, closing my eyes and pushing a pushpin into destiny.


Page 56:
But when he got transferred up the coast, she couldn't bear commuting 100 miles down to the city, cutting him out of her days like that. ("Quiet as the Moon")

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Feb 9, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Valentine's Day


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

Each Tuesday she assigns a topic and then posts a top ten list that fits that topic. Freebie days: you may choose your own topic.

February 9: Valentine’s Day/Love 


Title: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely



Falling by Jane Green


Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis



Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready


A Groovy Kind of Love

A Groovy Kind of Love (The Bibliophiles #3) by Karen Wojcik Berner




 Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella



Title: The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton




The Dark Rose:A Novel 
by Erin Kelly

These are my Top Ten books for Valentine's Day! What are yours? 

Feb 7, 2021

Sunday Salon: The Searcher by Tana French

 New thriller I'm currently reading:




The Searcher by Tana French, October 6, 2020, Viking

Setting: Ireland

Genre: thriller, mystery

Source: library ebook

A retired Chicago cop decides to live in Ireland, where he thinks there is little or no crime, but soon gets caught up in his little village's rural life. He is persuaded by a young teen to search for the teen's missing brother. and there are two unexplained violent attacks on a sheep of two different farmers. These situations are interesting enough to pull him back into detective mode, albeit on his own and not officially. 

I'm looking forward to see what he uncovers. 

Other news: 

It has been snowing in earnest, although we have gotten only about 4 inches so far, but we have an arctic freeze this weekend and into next week. The temps are in the teens right now and we have another incentive besides self-isolation from the virus to stay in. So, I can get some more reading in!

I've been having fun posting pictures of the various winter socks I'm wearing to keep warm even indoors! 

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


Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart" Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of suc...