Apr 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Spring?

For more pictures, visit Wordless Wednesday

Looking forward to the greening of our maple. Spring seems very slow this year, but a few shoots are in the flower beds. This ornamental maple, picture taken in summer, has yet to show any leaf buds. Can't wait for those purple buds that open up into this vibrant green. 

Apr 7, 2014

First Chapter: Death on Eat Street by J.J. Cook

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.
Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read.
Title: Death on Eat Street: A Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery by J.J. Cook
Published April 1, 2014; Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery

First paragraph:
It had been the worst day of my life.
I parked my Biscuit Bowl food truck beside the diner and closed my eyes as I rested my head on the steering wheel. Outside,the fiberglass biscuit on top of the food truck stopped twirling.
How could so much go wrong in one day?
Book description: Zoe Chase always wanted to own her own restaurant—but first, she’ll have to serve up a heaping helping of meals on wheels, with a side of mystery… (goodreads)

Based on the opening paragraph, would you keep reading this cozy?

See my brief review/comments on goodreads.

Apr 5, 2014

Sunday Salon: A Humid Spring

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Also visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer; It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also visit Mailbox Monday, hosted by Vicki, Leslie, and Serena.

Spring has finally arrived but the barometer readings have changed. I really must move to a warm and DRY climate but one without hurricanes (Florida) or earthquakes (California) or summers that are like putting your head in an oven (Arizona). Now where could that be?

On my to be read list:
Spiritual medium Emma Whitecastle knows a good ghost when she feels one—like her own sweet Granny Apples, long gone but still as famous for her apple pies as she is for helping her great-great-great-granddaughter get to the core of the most baffling mysteries... When Emma gets word of a sticky spirit problem in Las Vegas, she and the ghost of Granny Apples hit the road for Sin City. Dolly, a former showgirl,  is haunted by Lenny, a dead Vegas hood worried about an aging mobster named Nemo coming after the leggy old bombshell.
When Nemo is found dead, Dolly goes missing—and lands herself on a short list of suspects. Emma and Granny Apples aren’t about to fold until they save Dolly’s neck and put her past to rest.  (goodreads)
1559. Elizabeth is about to be crowned queen of England and wants her personal musician Kate Haywood to prepare music for the festivities. New to London, Kate must learn the ways of city life …and once again school herself as a sleuth. Making her way among the courtiers who vie for the new queen’s favor, Kate befriends Lady Mary Everley. Mary is very close to Elizabeth. With their red hair and pale skin, they even resemble each other—which makes Mary’s murder all the more chilling. But when another redhead is murdered, Kate uncovers a deadly web of motives lurking just beneath the polite court banter, and follows the trail of a killer whose grievance can only be answered with royal blood. (goodreads)
The long-awaited next installment in the Detective Jack Yu series.
When the body of an unidentified Asian man is found in the Harlem River, NYPD Detective Jack Yu embarks on a journey into Chinatown's restaurants, strip clubs, and seedy gambling establishments to investigate. (goodreads)

What's on your shelves waiting to be read?

Apr 4, 2014

Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese by Shaolan Hsueh

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.

I wish there was a way for me  to show the inside of the book,  the colorful and easy to understand calligraphy and illustrations that make some of the Chinese characters seem really easy to learn. Click on the book cover to amazon, where you can take a look inside the book!

Title: Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese by Shaolan HsuehNoma Bar
Published March 10, 2014; March and Hudson
Book beginning, Introduction:
The Calligrapher's Daughter
I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, the daughter of a calligrapher and a ceramic artist, so I grew up immersed in art and with a deep appreciation of the beauty of the Chinese language. Speaking and writing Chinese is an integral part of who I am and how I see the world. But it was only when I had children of my own that I properly understood what a difficult language Chinese is to learn. 
The ultimate goal of Chineasy is to help bridge the cultural gap by demystifying the Chinese language, which acts as a barrier to so many people - my children included!
Page 56: 
moon (yue) with calligraphyThis building block for moon originally derived from a pictogram of the crecent moon. It has now evolved to be a visual counterpart to 'sun'. This character also means 'month'.
Amazon description: ShaoLan Hsueh has unpicked Chinese characters and created a simple system for quickly understanding the basic building blocks of the written language. Working with renowned illustrator Noma Bar, she has developed a unique set of illustrations that are engaging and delightful, and offer a glimpse into the wonder of the Chinese language and culture. The books main section introduces the radicals the key characters on which the language is built and reveals how they can be combined to form a wealth of more complex words and phrases. In fewer than 200 pages, readers of all ages will have made the first steps towards a genuine appreciation of Chinese, loving every new character they learn.
Thanks to the publisher for a feature/review copy of this book.

Apr 3, 2014

Book Review: Widow's Tears by Susan Wittig Albert

Title: Widow's Tears: China Bayles #21 by Susan Wittig Albert
Paperback published April 1, 2014; Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: mystery, paranormal
Objective rating: 4.5/5

There are several things I liked about the new novel in the China Bayles mystery series:

1. The description of various plants and flowers at the beginning of most chapters, and their meaning in flower lore. Blue iris means "I have a message for you" while a violet represents love and faithfulness. Widow's tears are also called dayflowers, are invasive; and represent grief. I have both iris and widow's tears in the back yard. Should I keep the widow's tears?

2. Learning about one of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history, if not the most destructive. On September 8, 1900, the Great Galveston Hurricane hit Galveston Island, Texas, killed eight to twelve thousand people, and changed the city and the island with its storm surges and winds.

3. The unique plot of this novel is linked to the hurricane - the story of Rachel Blackwood who lost her family and her beloved house in Galveston in 1900. She rebuilt the house in another location. In the present day, China Bayles and her psychic friend Ruth are left to tussle with a ghost that haunts this house. Ruth's friend Claire inherited the house, wants to turn it into a B and B, but first asks Ruth to deal with the strange noises and a ghostly apparition that wanders in and around it.

I was intrigued by the story although I had to let my guard down a bit for the paranormal aspects of the novel. Paranormal is not my usual genre, though I did enjoy this one. The ghost in the old house is very much present and a part of the plot action in Widow's Tears. The mystery portion of the plot  - bank robberies and a murder - takes a back seat in this novel, but I didn't mind at all. An enjoyable and tantalizing book on many levels.

Thanks to Berkley Prime Crime for a review copy for their book tour of Widow's Tears.   

Apr 2, 2014

The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Steady Running of the Hour:A Novel by Justin Go
To be published April 15, 2014; Simon and Schuster
Genre: "part love story and part historical", quest novel

Opening sentences:
The letter came by courier last week.
I knew when I touched the envelope that it was fine stationery. I knew from the paper, the porous surface of pure cotton rag; the watermark that shone through as I held it to the light. 
Goodreads description:
"A young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning Hooper, Solicitors, in London and news that could change Tristan's life forever.

In 1924, Prichard explains, an English alpinist named Ashley Walsingham died attempting to summit Mt. Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. But the estate was never claimed. Information has recently surfaced suggesting Tristan may be the rightful heir, but unless he can find documented evidence, the fortune will be divided among charitable beneficiaries in less than two months.

In a breathless race from London archives to Somme battlefields to the Eastfjords of Iceland, Tristan pieces together the story of a forbidden affair set against the tumult of the First World War and the pioneer British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Following his instincts through a maze of frenzied research, Tristan soon becomes obsessed with the tragic lovers, and he crosses paths with a mysterious French girl named Mireille who suggests there is more to his quest than he realizes. Tristan must prove that he is related to Imogen to inherit Ashley's fortune but the more he learns about the couple, the stranger his journey becomes."

What new book are you waiting for?

Apr 1, 2014

First Chapter: The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe by Mary Simses

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.
Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B; choose two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read.

Title: The Ireistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe by Mary Simses
Published July 9, 2013; Little, Brown and Company
Genre: fiction

The cover got to me. I love blueberries and the sight of a jar of homemade blueberry jam made me want to open this book again...

First chapter, first paragraph:
"Don't move, it's not safe!"
I heard someone yell, but it was too late. The wooden planks of the dock saged beneath me and then gave way.Boards splintered, rotted lumber snapped, and I plunged ten feet into the frigid Maine ocean. 
And then a vision of Gran and her blueberry muffins slipped into my head.
"Like...well, open a bakery," I said.
Jim looked surprised.
(ch. 19)
Book description: A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother's hometown. Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough. THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFE is  about the power of a simpler life.

Would you keep reading this book?

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...