Oct 10, 2013

Book Beginnings: Poisoned Prose by Ellery Adams

Friday 56 Rules: *Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. *Post it. *Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice.

Also Book Beginnings by Rose City Reader.

Book beginning:
"Death by chocolate. That's what the coroner's report will read," Olivia Limoges said to the woman sitting next to her. She pushed away a plate still laden with a caramel brownie, a hazelnut petit four, and a square of peanut butter fudge. "I'll have to be rolled home in a wheelbarrow."
Page 56:
Violetta waited a few heartbeats before speaking again. "I'm the last true Devereaux. When I die, the whereabouts of a certain treasure will die with me. That's a relief to me and a source of mighty vexation to others."

I am waiting to read the book to see what the title refers to. Death by chocolate and a mystery treasure do not explain the title, on first impression. "Poisoned prose" suggests to me a will, a letter, a written threat, or something along those lines. Can't wait to see!

Title: Poisoned Prose: A Books by the Bay Mystery #5 by Ellery Adams
Published October 1, 2013; Berkley
Genre: mystery
Source: review copy from publisher

Publisher's description of the book:
When Olivia Limoges and other Oyster Bay patrons of the arts sponsor a retreat for famous storytellers, one of them is going to have a very unhappy ending…Olivia thought gathering some of the most renowned storytellers in one place would be a nice, simple way for herself and the Bayside Book Writers to appreciate their talents. But things take a dark turn when the most famous storyteller in the nation—the captivating performer Violetta Devereaux—announces onstage that she will meet her end in Oyster Bay.

Oct 9, 2013

The Creative Compass by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. Let us know what new releases you are eagerly waiting for. Link your post to Breaking the Spine.

Here's another book for would-be or beginning writers. Hope it will have some valuable tips to get me beyond the first ten pages of my scribblings.

The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada, to be published October 15, 2013 by H.J. Kramer/New World Publications.

Book description: How can I become more disciplined? How do I know if I’m talented? Should I self-publish? These are just a few of the perennial and contemporary questions addressed in this delightfully different guide. The authors — from different generations and writing genres — first help the reader assess where they are on their path. They then walk aspiring writers through five universal stages — Dream, Draft, Develop, Refine, and Share. While these stages apply to writers of every stripe, the emphasis is always on the reader navigating his or her own challenges, process, and goals. Insight-producing prompts and the wisdom of diverse artists (from Steinbeck and Thoreau to Spike Lee, Marilyn French, and Tom Clancy) help make every writer’s journey of creation as rewarding as its destination.

What book or books are you waiting for this week?

Oct 7, 2013

Book Review: The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences from your current read and identify author and title for readers.

My comments: There are two mysteries going on at the same time in the novel -  one involving the Love Commandos who are helping a young couple to run off together and detective Vish Puri trying to find the young man when he is abducted. The other mystery is the unknown pickpocket on a train who is followed by detective Puri's mother, who likes to do her own investigations even though her son disapproves - "mummies aren't detectives."
Mummy crossed her arms in front of her chest and made a face of her own. "Let me guess. Chubby said to keep me in the dark - Mummies are not detectives and all," she said.
"You know what he's like."
(ch. 3)
Clever plotting, amusing characters, and an intriguing setting (Delhi and other cities) make this fourth novel as interesting as the first three. The novel gives us an idea of the social divide between the highest class, the Brahmins, and the lowest class, the Dalits. It also pokes holes into the idea of the purity of class lines.

Part of the book's interest is cultural - the "Indian" style of English used, but also the food. Detective Puri, whom his mother or Mummy-ji calls Chubby, is a lover of Indian food, and a glossary describes all the snacks and dishes that he orders throughout the book during his travels and investigations.

Title: The Case of the Love Commandos From the Files of Vish Puri, India's Most Private Investigator by Tarquin Hall
Published October 8, 2013; Simon and Schuster
Genre: Vish Puri mystery
Objective rating: 4.5/5

Publisher summary:
"THE CASE OF THE LOVE COMMANDOS is a contemporary Romeo and Juliet story, set within India’s unforgiving caste system. When the beautiful Tulsi from a high-caste family falls in love with Ram, an Untouchable from the lowest strata of Indian society, her father promises to hunt and kill him if she does not end the romance. The lovers find safety with the help of India’s Love Commandos – a group of volunteers assisting mixed-caste couples.

When Ram goes missing from the Love Commandos safe house, it falls to India’s Most Private Investigator, Vish Puri, to find him and find out why! (And he must do so before his arch nemesis, Hari Kumar, who is also trying to locate Ram.) Unfortunately, Vish is not having a good month, himself. After failing to recover the millions stolen from the First National Bank of Punjab, his wallet is pinched by a common thief. Most devastating of all, the only person in a position to help get it back is his Mummy-ji.

In a thrilling race against time, filled with the twists and turns that Tarquin Hall’s fans have come to love, Vish Puri must reunite the star-crossed lovers and reclaim his rightful place as India’s Most Private Investigator."

For more information on the series, visit Vish Puri's India blog.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Oct 6, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reviewing from ARCs

 The Sunday Salon.com Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; Showcase Sunday at Books, Biscuits, and Tea; Mailbox Monday at Book Dragon's Lair, and  It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

It's a rainy day today and a good time for reading and blogging.

I often review books for book tours and post reviews of books I receive in the mail, many of them uncorrected proofs or advance readers copies. I enjoy getting books in advance and don't mind the occasional errors in the galleys/proofs. What I do find inconvenient is that I can't quote from the ARCs in my reviews as the quotes may differ or not be included at all in the final copies. Reviewers are warned not to quote from the galleys or to check the final version first.

Problem is, I don't have time or patience to hunt the books down in the library or bookstore to make the comparisons, so I land up not using quotes. This I think hurts the review as I do like to give readers a taste of the writing and style, so important to anyone thinking of buying or borrowing a book.

I received one finished book and three uncorrected proofs/advance readers copies last week and am eager to read them, nevertheless.

Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell, a finished novel courtesy of Atria Books

The Pursuit of Mary Benner: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle, to be released November 26, 2013, courtesy of William Morrow

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan, to be published January 21, 2014, courtesy of Ballantine Books. This is the turbulent love story of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny.

Stormbird (Wars of the Roses #1) by Colin Iggulden, historical fiction to be released October 10, 2013, courtesy of Penguin.

Let us know what you got in the mail, finished books or ARCs. I am always interested in new books and soon to be released books, regardless of my griping.

Oct 4, 2013

Book Review: The Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland

Title: The Shogun's Daughter: A Novel of Feudal Japan
Publication: September 17, 2013; Minotaur Books Hardcover
Genre: historical fiction
Objective rating: 5/5

Comments: Even though this novel and this series of detective novels is set in 18th century Japan, the dialogue is fairly modern and the characters are so well drawn that we can easily relate to them. The plot is complex and though this story is fictional, the historical background and the detailed description of setting gives us a strong sense of the time and place, the atmosphere and political culture.

The plot: Sano Ichiro the Chamberlain and his wife Reiko are forced to save their own lives by finding the real murderer of the Shogun's daughter and the subsequent murderer of the appointed heir. Because suspicion falls on Sano, he and his family are doomed if they cannot discover and reveal the plots and treachery surrounding the Shogun and his daughter. Joining in their sleuthing is Sano's 12-year-old son Masahiro, and also young Taeko, the daughter of Sano's chief retainer Hirata. Hirata battles his own ghosts and is unable to help Sano and his family as he has in previous times.

Recommendation: I have read several of the books in the series and enjoyed being transported to feudal Japan, by story and by the descriptions. The author conveys these admirably well. The books do not have to be read in order, but they do follow the story of Sano and Reiko through perilous times in the reign of the Shogun.

Publisher description: Japan, 1704. In an elegant mansion a young woman named Tsuruhime lies on her deathbed, attended by her nurse. Smallpox pustules cover her face. Incense burns, to banish the evil spirits of disease. After Tsuruhime takes her last breath, the old woman watching from the doorway says, “Who’s going to tell the Shogun his daughter is dead?”

The death of the Shogun’s daughter has immediate consequences on his regime. There will be no grandchild to leave the kingdom. Faced with his own mortality and beset by troubles caused by the recent earthquake, he names as his heir Yoshisato, the seventeen-year-old son he only recently discovered was his. Until five months ago, Yoshisato was raised as the illegitimate son of Yanagisawa, the shogun’s favorite advisor. Yanagisawa is also the longtime enemy of Sano Ichiro.
Sano doubts that Yoshisato is really the Shogun’s son, believing it’s more likely a power-play by Yanagisawa. When Sano learns that Tsuruhime’s death may have been a murder, he sets off on a dangerous investigation that leads to more death and destruction as he struggles to keep his pregnant wife, Reiko, and his son safe. Instead, he and his family become the accused. And this time, they may not survive the day.
For other reviews, visit the tour schedule hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Laura Joh Rowland is the author of a mystery series set in medieval Japan, featuring samurai detective Sano Ichiro. The Shogun’s Daughter is the seventeenth book in the series. Her work has been nominated for the Anthony Award and the Hammett Prize, and won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery. Laura lives in New York City. Visit Laura’s website or Facebook.

For this review, I received an ARC of the book through the tour group and the publisher. 

Oct 3, 2013

Book Feature: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Title: The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett
Published May 28, 2013; Viking

This seems to be a novel after my own heart - literary topic, a mystery going back to Shakespeare's time, a bookseller and his books. It brings to mind other bibliophile novels : Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. And The Book Thief.

This one has a paranormal touch. It all starts in 1995 when Peter Byerly enters a bookshop and opens an 18th century study of Shakepeare forgeries. A picture that looks like his dead wife pops out of the book and Peter follows up the history of this picture back to Victorian and to Shakespeare's time. He is able to communicate with this woman from the past, then tackles the question of whether Shakespeare was the true author of the Shakespeare plays.

Book description:
The Bookman’s Tale interweaves art history and literary history with a haunting tale of romance and deception. Alternating between Shakespeare’s time, the Victorian Era, and the present day, Lovett offers both a heartwarming chronicle of a shattered widow’s return to the world of the living and a salute to the magical power of books.

I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book for review.

Oct 1, 2013

Book Review: Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney

Teaser Tuesdays  is hosted by MizB; choose sentences from your current read and identify author and title for readers

Title: Murder By Syllabub: An Ellen McKenzie Mystery by Kathleen Delaney
Published July 1, 2013; Camel Press
Genre: cozy mystery

I found out that syllabub has nothing to do with education and lesson plans (as in syllabus) but is an old fashioned British dessert, made with cream, sugar, white wine or sherry, and an infusion of lemon. In the case of this mystery murder, poison is administered by means of this sweet dessert.
It's a drink. A sweet dessert drink. The colonials loved it." (p. 45)
Ellen McKenzie and her Aunt Mary travel from California to an old plantation house in Virginia owned by Aunt Mary's friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth thinks the house is haunted by a ghost in colonial costume and feels threatened when a crate falls and narrowly misses her. She is so distraught that Ellen and Aunt Mary fly to console her and to find out what the mystery is. The plot thickens when Elizabeth's stepson is found dead in the house, poisoned by a glass of syllabub.

Those who love colonial history will enjoy the references to that period of time, its costumes, way of life, and food. While the mystery plot is standard fare, the novel is made unique by the setting and the historical research done by the author.

Kathleen Delaney has written four previous Ellen McKenzie Real Estate mysteries, but has never before transported her characters out of California. She visited Colonial Williamsburg several times and Murder by Syllabub came into being. Kathleen lived most of her life in California but now resides in Georgia. You can find her at http://delaney.camelpress.com

For more reviews of Murder by Syllabub, visit the tour schedule at Partners in Crime Tours.
Thanks to Partners in Crime Tours and the author/publisher for a review copy of this book.

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...