Nov 29, 2011

Teaser: The Last Word by Ellery Adams

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

Title: The Last Word: A Books By the Bay Mystery
Publisher: Berkley; December 6, 2011

"Why does he scare you?" she asked very gently....

"He's got a secret. I can tell."

Olivia nodded. "He probably does. Most people have secrets, I think." (ch. 2)

Book description: Olivia Limoges and the Bayside Book Writers are excited about Oyster Bay's newest resident: bestselling novelist Nick Plumley. But when Olivia stops by Plumley's rental she finds he's been strangled. Her instincts tell her something from the past came back to haunt him, but she never expects the investigation could spell doom for one of her dearest friends...

Nov 28, 2011

Opening Sentences: Off With His Head by Ngaio Marsh

Beginning sentences: Over that part of England the Winter Solstice came down with a bitter antiphony of snow and frost. Trees, minutely articulate, shuddered in the north wind. By four o'clock in the afternoon the people of south Mardian were all indoors.

It was at four o'clock that a small dogged-looking car appeared on a rise above the village and began to sidle and curve down the frozen lane. Its driver, her vision distracted by wisps of grey hair escaping from a headscarf, peered through the fan-shaped clearing on her wind-screen. Her woolly paws clutched rather than commanded the wheel.

Comments: The atmospheric description of place and driver slowly builds up suspense. Marsh is known as a master of mysteries, and this one sounds good enough for me to borrow it from  relatives to take back on my long trip home.

Book description:
Pagan revelry and morris dancing in the middle of a very cold winter set the scene for one of Ngaio Marsh's most fascinating murder mysteries. When the pesky Anna Bunz arrives at Mardian to investigate the rare survival of folk-dancing still practised there, she quickly antagonizes the villagers. But Mrs Bunz is not the only source of friction -- two of the other enthusiasts are also spoiling for a fight. When the sword dancers' traditional mock beheading of the Winter Solstice becomes horribly real, Superintendent Roderick Alleyn finds himself faced with a case of great complexity and of gruesome proportions...(amazon)

Title: Off With His Head by Ngaio Marsh
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins Pb (August 21, 2000)

Nov 26, 2011

Book Review: Song of the Silk Road by Mingmei Yip

Title: Song of the Silk Road by Mingmei Yip
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (April 1, 2011)
Genre: contemporary fiction, travel
Rating: 4/5

In a nutshell: Lily Lin,  a graduate student in New York who grew up in Hong Kong, is offered three million dollars by an aunt she has never heard of. But first she must travel along China's famed Silk Road and across the desolate Taklamakan Desert--and carry out a series of strange and almost impossible tasks along the way.  Lily meets Alex, a young American also traveling across China who offers to accompany her on her journey and who falls in love with her.  The ending of the journey reveals huge surprises for Lily that change her perception of herself and her life as she knew it.

Comments: Lily is not always a likeable person as she is stubborn, could be seen as promiscuous, and uses very expressive language at times, but her six to eight month trip along the Silk Road is informative and entertaining, travel wise, and her unusual story has an interesting twist at the end that helps to set her on a firmer path.

© Harvee Lau 2011
This book is my personal copy.

Nov 25, 2011

Current Read: Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up

I finished one of my Thanksgiving reads, will listen to the other this weekend, and picked up another book to read as well - a cute Victorian mystery where the help gets involved in their employer, the Inspector's, cases and get enough information to help solve the crime. Mrs. Jeffries is the inspector's housekeeper and runs a household of several who are willing to go out and snoop and question other maids, footmen, shopkeepers,  pub patrons, or anyone who will talk with them about the case.

Title: Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-up by Emily Brightwell
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (November 1, 2011)
Genre: Victorian mystery
Source: publisher

Book description: Under a bundle of mistletoe, art collector Daniel McCourt lies dead, a bloody sword next to his body. Inspector Witherspoon is determined to solve the case-preferably before the eggnog is ladled out on Christmas Eve-but of course he will require assistance from the always sharp-witted housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries, who has a few of her own theories on why McCourt had to die by the sword.

Nov 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Reads

graphic courtesy of Dover Publications

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the day and the weekend!

I've decided to armchair travel for my Thanksgiving reading, in between enjoying turkey and other goodies.

Title: River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh, on a ship on the Bay of Bengal heading to Canton, China. Historical novel, 19 discs audio.

Title: Song of the Silk Road by Mingmei Yip, heading along the Silk Road in China. Contemporary novel, paperback.

Title: Skeleton Letters (A Scrapbooking Mystery) by Laura Childs, in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Which of the three trips would you take this holiday? And what will you be reading, if anything, over the busy Thanksgiving weekend?

Nov 22, 2011

Teaser: Labyrinth of Terror by Richard P. Wenzel

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

"Isn't that a bit far-fetched, Rose? A bit histrionic of you to think that someone would deliberately try to hurt or kill patients at King's with a terrifying microbe? You've been reading too many sci-fi books." (ch. 2)

Book description: "Terror reigns when a string of post-op infections erupts in the sanitized halls of King s College Hospital in London. A trio of experts--microbiology Professor Chris Rose, Jake Evans, an American infectious disease specialist, and Elizabeth Foster, a senior agent with M15--soon realize that the offending organism is a weapon in a worldwide terrorist plot. The terrorists turn their focus on an upcoming medical-legal conference, hoping to infect hundreds and subsequently ravage the global community, as well as those very doctors who might be able to find a cure.

Author and physician Richard Wenzel takes us on a journey through Europe and the Middle East, unravels the science of infections, and opens a revealing window on the complex politics of medicine."

Title: Labyrinth of Terror by Richard P. Wenzel
Paperback, 202 pages
Published September 1, 2010 by Brandylane Publishers, Inc .
Genre: medical thriller, environmental thriller
I received a complimentary copy of this book for feature or review.

Nov 21, 2011

Book Review: Borneo Tom by Tom McLaughlin

Title: Borneo Tom: Stories and Sketches of Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia  
Author: Tom McLaughlin
Perfect Paperback: 132 pages
Publisher: Tom McLaughlin; August 27, 2010
Genre: travel memoir and sketchbook. Objective rating: 4/5

In a nutshell: A former biology teacher from Maryland and divorced father of two relocates to Malaysian Borneo, where he finds love and adventure, and documents in this book his southeast Asia observations during his travels with his adult children and his new wife. Sketches were done by Waterfront Niki of Sarawak, Borneo.

My comments: I enjoyed reading about Tom's travels throughout southeast Asia and his  lively observations about the places, people, and the wildlife of  several countries - Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, and Malaysia - plus his trip to Chengdu, China to see the pandas at the research center there. Each page of his book is an essay in itself, with accompanying full page sketches of Tom and the scenery. These clever and often humorous sketches were a great accompaniment to Tom's narrative.

Tom also tells us about Alfred Wallace, the little known naturalist who collected and studied animals in southeast Asia and who may have contributed significantly to Darwin's theories of natural selection described in "The Origin of Species."

Besides the local wildlife descriptions, Tom narrates about the local culture as well -  a marriage ceremony, food preparation, his courting of his present wife, and his marriage. I thought it was a really nice gesture that Tom flew his two daughters to Bali with him and his new wife during their honeymoon.

About the author: All the proceeds from Tom McLaughlin's books go toward supporting the Matang Wildlife Center, which rehabilitates orangutans and other wildlife.

This book was a complimentary copy provided for the Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour of Borneo Bob, touring October to December.

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...