Jul 31, 2011

Sunday Salon: Grin and Bear It

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The heat has abated just a little bit, but not enough for comfort! We now take the consequences of our long and gentle spring! I wonder what fall and winter will be like...?

Got a very nice email from author Todd Borg, whose thriller Tahoe Hijack I reviewed last week. I liked the main character Owen and his Great Dane sidekick, Spot. I also enjoyed descriptions of the setting, Lake Tahoe, so much so that I went off to the library and borrowed an earlier book in the Tahoe series, Tahoe Avalanche. It was good too. Love the relationship Owen has with his trained dog.

Plan today is to browse local art, eat fast food, and listen to music at an art fair at the university. I'm not a great golf fan, so I'll be missing the Senior Open event this weekend. And I 'll be tucking in some reading in between.

Found some great new books at the library, among them Anne Zourodi's 2008 mystery, Taint of Midas, set in modern Greece on the island of Arcadia. August will be busy as there are several novels on Kindle I've promised to read and review this month! And Kindle is not my favorite way of reading, unfortunately, not when I have physical books around. Take a look at the cover of Taint of Midas:

I couldn't resist the bee....

What have you been reading this past week?

Jul 30, 2011

Mr. Monk on the Couch by Lee Goldberg

I think opening sentences are can be so important in getting the attention of the readers and setting the tone for the book. Here are the openers for Mr. Monk on the Couch!

Author: Lee Goldberg
Hardcover: 288 pages; New American Library
Publication date: June 7, 2011
Genre: mystery
Opening sentences: "There is never a day off from death. I was sitting at my kitchen table in my bathrobe and slippers, eating a cream cheese-slathered bagel for breakfast and reading the massive Sunday editions of the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times, when I got a phone call from Captain Leland Stottlemeyer of the San Francisco Police Department, notifying me of a homicide.I'm not a cop, but I'm on call 24/7 to the police department anyway."
Book description: Monk is back in the twelfth book based on the USA Network television series. Three strangers, each a murder victim: a security guard, a struggling student, and a beautiful woman. They have something more in common than death and Monk can't believe what it is-a couch. Before you find out why, you'd better sit down.

I've enjoyed the TV series and my husband is a big fan.

Jul 27, 2011

Book Review: Tahoe Hijack by Todd Borg

Title: Tahoe Hijack: an Owen McKenna Mystery Thriller by Todd Borg
Perfect Paperback: 349 pages, Thriller Press
Publication date: Aug. 1, 2011
Source: author
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Summary: Detective Owen McKenna is summoned by a crazed hijacker of a cruise boat on Lake Tahoe. The hijacker demands he arrest a man for the murder of Grace Sun, an unsolved case McKenna had worked on three years before. When McKenna investigates, he finds that Grace's daughter, Anna, is being targeted by her mother's murderer and being hunted by a fanatical militia group who believe Anna has information to a hidden treasure from the days of the Gold Rush. McKenna races to protect Anna as well as find her mother's murderer.

Comments: I had to hold my breath during the last part of this fast-paced thriller, full of action and surprises, and lots of twists and turns. I thought the book would make a great movie, what with the scenic setting of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding forests and mountains, an intriguing plot, and equally interesting characters on both the good and the bad side. I also liked the cover of the book, which made me want to pick it up and read it right away.

I liked the sympathetic main character, Detective McKenna, but I liked even more his sidekick and partner in crime-fighting, his trained pet, a Great Dane with the mismatched name of Spot. Dog lover that I am, Spot stole my affection and made me wish for a pet like him. Spot is an important part of the plot and McKenna's success in this case. I also learned more about the days of the Gold Rush and California's history. Though a little improbable in the action scenes, somewhat like a James Bond novel, the plot of Tahoe Hijack makes me want to see this book on film.

About the Author:
Todd Borg is the author of eight previous Owen McKenna mysteries. He has won the Ben Franklin Award for Best Mystery Of The Year, been chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Five Mysteries Of The Year, and made Amazon's Mystery/Thriller Bestseller list.

© Harvee Lau 2011

Jul 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Justice: a Novel by Jay Lillie

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

"This is getting very political, Chief."

"Yeah, you should let the Legal Department handle it. You'll get caught in between, and believe me it will not be fun if you do." ( p. 24)

Title: Justice: A Novel by Jay Lillie
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Pentland Press (NC)
Publication date: March 2011
Genre: political thriller, mystery
Source: author

Book description: Julia Gold, a smart young detective in the homicide division of the Chicago Police Department, and Kate Stevens, a law clerk for a Justice on the United States Supreme Court, have their hands full solving the murder of a 26 year-old journalist found dead in a back alley on the southside of Chicago.The author's third novel takes Julia and Kate on a trek through Chicago, New York, Paris, New Orleans and Capitol Hill to find the answers. Meanwhile, the White House has its own mysteries to solve when it's discovered the President's most recent appointment to the Supreme Court is an illegal alien. Gordon Cox, Kate's fiance is brought in by the President to help manage the political damage and keep the newest Justice on the Court... (and) Kate finds the real reason her friend was murdered. (Goodreads)

Jul 24, 2011

Sunday Salon: The Heat Moves On

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I was able to turn off the air con in my bedroom at around two this morning and open the window to a nice flow of cool air. My 60 year old house doesn't have central air, as YET! But if this type of summer weather continues, we'll have to move the old house into the 21st century.

Several new books arrived, in addition to one I bought at the Borders' closing sale. Just one, so far and waiting for the discounts to deepen, though I'm sorry the bookstore chain has to go. An employee of the successful B&N store told me that Borders had internal management problems, in his opinion - top heavy and no internal communication. I'll bet it's gets even more complex than that

The newest arrivals were The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed and a copy of The Taba Convention by Stephen W. Ayers, the first in the Jordan Kline series of thrillers.

Reviewed last week were In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault and two cozies, two cozy mysteries, Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend and Till Death Do Us Bark by Judi McCoy.

I have a couple of books to read for upcoming TLC book tours, plus a few on my Kindle that I've promised authors to read and review. The summer is hot and busy with books to read!

What have you been doing/reading this past week?

Jul 23, 2011

Book Reviews: Tempest in the Tea Leaves; Till Death Do Us Bark

Title: Tempest in the Tea Leaves: A Fortune Teller Mystery by Kari Lee Townsend
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley, August 2, 2011
Source: Publisher
Objective rating: 3.75/5

About: Sunny Meadows leaves her wealthy parents behind in Manhattan and heads upstate New York to finally find a life of her own as a fortune teller. She uses tea leaves to see the present and predict the future. Sunny finds an old Victorian mansion, supposedly haunted and therefore at a bargain price, and settles in with a white cat that suddenly appears in the mansion. When her first customer, the town librarian, visits and takes home some of Sunny's tea leaves, things start to go wrong. The librarian is found dead of poisoning, from drinking the tea she had made from Sunny's tea leaves. With the cat Monty, a cat with strange powers, looking on, and the town detective, Mitch, Sunny sets out to clear her name.

Comments: I liked the spunk of the main character Sunny, her zaniness and sense of  humor, which is also the sense of humor of the author, Kari Lee Townsend. In total, there is a likable character in the book -Sunny, a mystery to keep you guessing - the cat Monty, and a love interest in the person of the handsome but suspicious detective, Mitch. Add to that, adoring and protective but clueless parents, and you have a cozy that is entertaining and a nice summer read. This mystery is the first in the series.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Signet
Publication date: August 2, 2011
Source: Publisher
Objective rating: 3/5 

About: Dog walker Ellie accompanies her best friend Viv to the wedding of Viv's sister in the upscale Hamptons. Among all the guests and their dogs, Ellie is recruited by at least one person who wants a dog walker back in the city. The relative peace doesn't last long, however, as the groom is found murdered outside the guest cottage, and the son of the cook and gardener is considered a suspect. Ellie, an amateur sleuth, who has helped solve murders in the past, is asked to solve the crime, to the dismay of Ellie's protective boyfriend back home.

Comments: I got a bit confused by the names and activities of all the guests and their accompanying dogs, but luckily the book soon focused in on the main characters in the mystery. This is the fifth in the series. I'm looking forward to reading the others.

Jul 21, 2011

Book Review: In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

Title: In Search of the Rose Notes: A Novel
Author: Emily Arsenault
Paperback: 384 pages, William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date: July 26, 2011
Genre: fiction, mystery; Source: Publisher
Objective rating: 5/5

"Maybe her dreams were full of things we were too young to hear about. Or maybe Rose was a little like me. Maybe her dreams, too, were full of things she didn't want other people to understand." (ch. 2)
Summary: The story of two 11-year-old girls, Charlotte and Norah and their 16-year-old babysitter, Rose, takes us to Waverly, Conn. in the 1990s. Rose disappears one night after walking home from her babysitting job, and Nora is the last to see her alive, a fact that her classmates and young neighbors taunt her with over the years.

Sixteen years later, Nora, now a teacher in D.C., returns to Waverly to visit Charlotte and go over their memories of what happened so many years ago and to try to find out what really happened to Rose. They re-examine theirs and Rose's notes made during the time they made up stories, wrote down their dreams, and tried to predict the future using a set of fortune telling books that Charlotte had.

Gradually, more secrets are uncovered as Nora talks again to her former classmates and friends, piecing together more about Rose that she never knew, and remembering the haunted feelings that made her leave Waverly ten years ago.

Comments: This is a psychological novel as well as a mystery that delves into the minds and actions of preteens and teenagers, young people who act alone, afraid to confide in their unaware and sometimes unreliable elders, some of whom they also consider untrustworthy. A revealing book to read from this vantage point. And a very good story as well. I recommend it.

About the author: Emily Arsenault is author of The Broken Teaglass, a New York Times 2009 Notable Mystery. She lives in Massachusetts.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro.  Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of such magnitude and celebrity, I found...