Dec 31, 2022

Sunday Salon: First Books of the New Year and Last Books of the Old Year


Wishing you lots of great books in 2023!

For the very first read in 2023, these three are on my list! Which would you choose?

1) a thriller

The Personal Assistant (review)

2) A beach rom com for winter! 

3) A psychological thriller with a unsocial main character

Safe With Me

My last books in 2022 were:

Lessons in Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus
April 5, 2022; Doubleday
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not exactly historical fiction, as this novel is set in the 1960s, but it does detail how old fashioned attitudes to women discriminated against them in all areas. It shows that misogyny and inequality prevented many women from advancing in their careers, especially in the sciences. Also, abuses, physical and mental, they had to endure that put and kept them down.

The story is moving and infuriating both, and we cheer on the main character, Elizabeth Zott, who struggles after the death of her very supportive husband to raise a gifted child on her own as well as fight for her career in chemistry. The story is bittersweet and I loved the ending.

This will be my very last read/listen for this year: 

The Kimono Tattoo 

I love the intricate quality of this novel - its plot, descriptions of kimono design, and traditional tattoo motifs. A translator, Ruth, travels to Kyoto to work on a new manuscript by a long forgotten Japanese writer. The discovery of a nude body of a woman on the banks of a river covered only in intricate, almost full body tattoos, adds to the intrigue and mystery of what turns out to be a look at the "underside of Tokyo."

The narrator was excellent, the plot added suspense and atmosphere to Tokyo by day and night, and the kimono tattoos on the body of the woman, as well as tattoo sketches found by Ruth and her friends, made this an intriguing novel. The unearthing of dark secrets in this unseen side of the city made this novel of suspense worth listening to.

Which books were your last in 2022? And your first for 2023?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Dec 24, 2022

Sunday Salon: Another Rom Com and a Thriller

 Outside it's in the single digits. Inside, it's warm and cozy. 

Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays. Be grateful, mindful, and stay warm and well wherever you are. 

Indoor winter reading: 


Pub Date 24 Jan 2023 Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group, Netgalley
Genre: romance, romantic comedy, contemporary fiction

This romance uses many of the rom com tropes: a fake engagement to fool the family of the wealthy guy; a bedroom with only one bed while they are at the family mansion; a romantic love between the two fakers that it takes the entire book for them to acknowledge.

Nevertheless, the tropes work in this story, the way it's written. how the plot and main characters are developed. It was an enjoyable novel, with enough humorous moments to be labeled romantic comedy. 

My only reservations about the book: the open door sex descriptions were a bit overly graphic and descriptions could be way shortened. We got the idea in the first several paragraphs.  

The Only Survivors: A Novel

Publication: April 11, 2023; Scribner, Netgalley
Genre: thriller, suspense

A thrilling, suspense novel where a group of nine high school classmates bond as survivors of a school van crash that had sent them hurling into a raging river in the Tennessee mountains. Now in their twenties, the group continues to meet for a week every year at an isolated house, strengthening their bonds and their pledge to each other to keep the secrets of that horrific van crash that had killed 12 of their other classmates. 

After two of the group die, the rest are uneasy and don't know if they can still trust each other, suspecting that one of them might be a murderer. 

I like that the story of the crash is told in bits and pieces throughout the book and we get the full and complete story of what happened only at the end,  This way of telling the story adds to the suspense and kept me guessing. The ending was not a total surprise to me, but still a good one. 

Stay well, especially if you're in the middle of the snow bomb!

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Dec 18, 2022

Sunday Salon: Argentina Wins the World Cup

 Watched the final World Cup game between France and Argentina. It was called the best game in World Cup history. Both sides fought hard, and it was a bitter defeat for France. 

  Lionel Messi and the Argentina team win the World Cup trophy.                                         

On the reading front, I finished two Icelandic thrillers and started a third.


About: When a deadly snowstorm strikes the Icelandic highlands, four friends seek shelter in a small, abandoned hunting lodge.

Four friends. One night. Not everyone will come out alive . . .

Cold as Hell

(An Áróra Investigation #1)

About: Icelandic sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries and aren't on speaking terms, but when their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to find her sister. But she soon realizes that her sister isn't avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace.


The Darkness

(Hidden Iceland #1)


About:  The body of a young Russian woman washes up on an Icelandic shore. The death is declared a suicide and the case is quietly closed.

Over a year later Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavík police is forced into early retirement at 64. But before she leaves she is given two weeks to solve a single cold case of her choice - the mystery of the Russian woman.
Comments: These two Icelandic authors write straight forward thrillers, with not too many side stories or side characters, and are refreshing to read, from that point of view. 
They also leave room for a follow up to the novels, by leaving something or someone in the novels with unfinished business. 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Dec 10, 2022

Sunday Salon: Fractured Soul by Akira Mizubayashi, historical fiction

 An historical novel set in Japan and France, with music and restoration as its themes. 

Fractured Soul

Expected publication: April 4th, 2023 by HarperVia

My review:

An anti-war/anti-imperialism novel set in Japan before and during WWII and in France post war. I was overwhelmed by the sorrow of the 11-year-old Rei as he witnessed/heard his father Yu being arrested at a private concert recital and his father's treasured violin smashed by the boots of a Japanese corporal.

The story is moving and yet sentimental; it links classical music, its performance on stringed instruments, and the loss Rei feels when his father disappeared after the arrest. I thought it fitting that Rei becomes a maker/restorer of quality violins in his own shop in France, where he was raised by a French couple who were friends with his missing father Yu.

Rei spends his life trying to overcome the fractured soul he had become from memories of the violence to his father and to Yu's beloved violin. How Rei heals is a story that is eventually soothing, as he connects with others from his past, piecing together what had happened,  in an effort to heal all those who shared his distress.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this amazing historical novel of music, love, loss and restoration.

Currently reading:

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers

About: Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady, a widow who lives above her forgotten tea shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. (publisher)

My review: I really enjoyed the personality of the quirky yet forceful main character, Vera, the teashop owner. I loved how she decides to solve the murder mystery herself and how she goes about drawing possible suspects to her teashop.

That the people she helps will later help her in turn is an excellent plot feature. There were a few personality inconsistencies with Vera, however, in how she takes care of her own shop versus how she takes care of other people and their homes.

Overall, an enjoyable read.

Finished reading:

The Love Wager

There is a lot of back and forth in this lover-to-friend- to-lover relationship between Jack and Hallie. I just couldn't understand why they insisted on remaining "just friends," when the chemistry between them is so intense.

The trope of being a fake couple and sleeping in the same hotel room to fool friends and family works in this novel for some reason, and I didn't mind the slow build up of the attraction between the two friends/lovers. The book was well written and the plot is a rom com to the nth degree

What are you reading/listening to this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Dec 3, 2022

Sunday Salon: Bookworm by Robin Yeatman

 I'm fast getting into the ARCs on my list, hoping to keep up and catch up before the holidays are here. It's taking longer than I imagined to listen to some of the audiobooks, but I'm enjoying them nevertheless. 



My review:

Imagine an avid book lover whose vivid imagination is fueled by all the books she reads, and whose mind makes her imagine the lives of strangers, sometimes accurately. Her invention of the people she meets in public, in cafes, pubs, on the street are fanciful and extraordinarily creative. But her wild dreams, too, of escaping from a restrictive, confining marriage, are often wickedly fiendish.

The novel, Bookworm, is described as a black comedy, and it is entertaining as well as clever. We cheer for Virginia, up to a point, when she tries to find a life away from a controlling husband, a book-hating, germaphobe who tries to separate her from her books. Her imagination carries this unusual novel, and I was surprised by the ending as well.

Now Listening, Audiobooks:

The Favor

Publication: May 31, 2022; Macmillan Audio
Genre: suspense, women's fiction, domestic drama

Review: Excellent suspense novel about two women, one a lawyer and the other a pediatrician, who are in abusive marriages, with husbands who refuse to allow them to work, for one. I appreciated the tight plotting that follows the two women, who don't know each other, but who nevertheless are connected in this fast paced novel.

Superb writing and character development. The author in her notes at the end says her book highlights domestic abuse which has become an endemic situation, in all social classes and education levels. 
The narration was excellent and held my interest throughout. 

The Kimono Tattoo

April 26th, 2022, Brother Mockingbird
Genre: thriller, suspense, set in Tokyo

About: "I jostled her shoulder and noticed when I did that her skin was cold to the touch....her entire torso was covered in tattoos from her collar bone to the midline of her thighs. All were of kimono motifs-fans, incense burners, peonies, and scrolls." 
As Ruth Bennett struggles to unravel the cryptic message hidden in the kimono tattoo, she is forced to confront a vicious killer along with her own painful family secrets. (publisher)

What are you reading/listening to this week? 
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Nov 26, 2022

Sunday Salon: Crime Fiction, Romance, Thriller

 Read and reviewed: 

A Death in Tokyo

(Kyoichiro Kaga #9)

Tokyo Police Detective Kaga is faced with a very public murder that doesn't quite add up, a prime suspect unable to defend himself, and pressure from the highest levels for a quick solution.

My goodreads review: 

I enjoy this series a lot, having read several of the nine books.
It's a police procedural which follows the Tokyo detectives who refuse to take the obvious choice and easy solution to a murder. They follow their gut feelings to find the truth and the real story behind the mysterious stabbing death of a father on a lonely bridge.

The methods of inquiry, the follow up interviewing and persistence of the detectives makes this story very interesting throughout the novel. What they discover is equally fascinating and unexpected.

Read and reviewed: 

The Paris Soulmate

A woman with autoimmune disorders and a "no dating policy." A mysterious, cocky British stranger. A dream trip to Paris. What could go wrong?


The Daughter-in-Law

Published November 4th 2022 by Bookouture
Genre: thriller, suspense, family drama

The mother in law is less than thrilled to have her son's sudden marriage sprung as a surprise to the family. The new daughter-in-law is from far away Australia and has now moved with her husband to live with his family in small town England. 

I'm waiting to find out about all the family secrets and the daughter-in-law's secrets as well. That's what the audio promises from this thriller!

Updated review: I enjoyed the story and the complex characters, well developed and realistic. The plot twist was a big surprise, and also the twist at the very end of the book. The novel was well written, and the audio narrator was excellent, keeping my interest in the personalities and the story throughout.

What are you reading this week? 
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Nov 19, 2022

Sunday Salon: Romances

After several days in New York City, I came home and fell into a rom com daze of Netgalley ebooks. Here are two that I've just read.

The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique

My goodreads review:

Spices mixed and grown by spice master Garrance are used by chef Kate Jenkins when she opens her new bistro in Paris. There is a hint of magic in the way that Kate is transported to other romantic places when she tastes Garrance's spices. 

I loved the use of flavors from around the world to create exotic dishes in this Paris bistro. The magic of taste and scents permeates the novel, a love story to cuisines and spices from around the world. 

The slow romance that develops between Kate and master chef Charles also adds its own magic to the setting and story. 

Thank You for Listening

I have to work on my basement during this cold spell, clearing it out to use as a workable den! Good thing I gave away so many of the books already to make spece for other things!

What are you reading this week? 
Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated BookreviewerAlso,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday SalonStacking the ShelvesMailbox Monday

Empresses of Seventh Avenue by Nancy MacDonell: Historical Novel

 Fashion in Paris and New York City during WWII   Empresses of Seventh Avenue World War II, New York City, and the Birth of American Fashion...