May 31, 2014

Sunday Salon: Gardening and Reading

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.

My only activity for  Armchair BEA 2014, this year was a giveaway of two cozy mystery paperbacks for U.S. residents which ends tomorrow, June 1. Be sure to enter, in the previous post!

Can't believe I didn't get any new books last week, but then I'm trying to cut down on review books and will visit the library or raid my TBR shelves  in the future. There are a few book tours I have scheduled (I couldn't resist some of the books offered) for the summer, but those come later.Good news on the home reading front - DH has decided to pick up books again after a long hiatus. He is now back to reading Robert Parker and a new suspense author.

 We have also been busy in the garden, which we missed during the long winter. Climbing poles went up for the two variety of beans in the raised veggie bed, and we planted marigolds all over in the hope of discouraging critters from eating flowers and plants (in case this works). The clematis is splendid this year with more buds and flowers than we have ever had.

I am reading a book from the library: a translated novel from German about a Burmese woman who returns home after living and working in NYC: A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan Philipp Sendker. There is some element of magic in it and am enjoying it so far.
Think Like a Freak
Also finished (most of it anyway) is 
Think Like a Freak by the authors of Freakonomics, sent to me by the publisher. The authors tell anecdotes, stories, cite various events to show how thinking outside the box can lead to better results and conclusions and allow you to approach problems and solutions in a more realistic way than the norm. The book's engaging and easy to read. Now, I want to their previous books.

Next to read: a couple of cozies, for variety. 

What will you be doing or reading this week?

May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA Book Giveaway: Two Cozy Mysteries

 Armchair BEA 2014, an event for those who can't attend Book Expo America or the BEA Bloggers Convention in NYC this week. 

I am giving away two brand new paperback cozy mysteries:
 A Roux of Revenge: A Soup Loving Mystery by Connie Archer and
Ghost of a Gamble: A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Leave a comment on this post with your email address by June 1 to enter, U.S. addresses only. A winner will be announced on June 2, with two days to respond before another winner is chosen. Good luck!

This giveaway has now ended. The winner of the books is Carol N. Wong, #14.

Book Review: You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa

You Cannoli Die Once
Title: You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa
Published May 28, 2014; Pocket Books
Genre: cozy mystery

My thoughts:
I learned not only what cannoli was but how to make it! A clever former dancer now turned chef in her family restaurant near Pittsburgh, Eve Angelotta is busy and pretty happy cooking Northern Italian food even with her seventy-six-year-old mother Maria Pia keeping watch that she does not make the dreaded dessert, cannoli. For some reason, Maria Pia has made Eve swear not to serve this at their restaurant.

Everything is going fine with a restaurant full of staff that seem musically inclined and ready to drop their aprons, bring out the tambourines, and sing Italian music or dance the tarantella for customers. That is, until Eve walks into her kitchen one morning and finds a dead man lying on top of a rare 78 disc of the only song recorded in English by the great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso. The disc is part of Eve's collection of opera memorabilia handed down to her by her great-grandfather.

The unknown dead man was killed by a mortar from the restaurant kitchen, so Eve and all her staff are suspects, including her mother, whose alibi begins to fall apart the closer Eve and her love interest, attorney Joe Beck, look at it.

The book is full of clever and witty conversation and zany but entertaining characters. I could not guess the murder culprit so the ending was a surprise and the plot and setting are original. I gave this a five star for its entertainment value, and I can't wait to read the next in the series, Basil Instinct.

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

May 28, 2014

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
Everything I Never Told You
Title: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
To be published June 24, 2014; Penguin Press HC

Book description:
"A haunting debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair.

 When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another." (publisher)

I am intrigued by the book description of the plot involving this family and their tragedy. How about you? Would you wait for this book?

May 26, 2014

It's Monday: What Are You Reading

Welcome to It's Monday: What Are You Reading? at Book Journey. Also visit Mailbox Monday, hosted by Vicki, Leslie, and Serena.

New books and ARCs this week: a memoir, a domestic thriller, and two cozy mysteries.

Margarita Wednesdays
The Hidden Girl
Basil Instinct

What books/audio books did you get last week?

May 22, 2014

TRIALS OF LIFE by Junying Kirk

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.

Trials of Life
Title: Trials of Life by Junying Kirk, published August 8, 2013
Genre: fiction
Page 56: 
“Hi Dick,” It was his colleague, Dr. Barry Heaton. “What’s up? I was just told that we both have to leave the hotel today, and I have no idea why. I was hoping that you might enlighten me on this.” (Junying Kirk. Trials of Life (Kindle Locations 3956-3958).  
Book beginning: First chapter 
Pearl’s Diary 31st March, Friday, Sunny It’s been a lovely day. Naturally, it’s almost my special day! This morning, I was ‘allowed’ to open my presents, although officially my birthday would be tomorrow. I was born at two in the morning in China, so taking into account eight hours’ time difference, my birth time would be 6 p.m. today in the UK. I am not a patient type, and Andrew knows it, so I got to open presents a day early; an excuse to celebrate a little longer! Andrew gave me a bottle of Beautiful, my favourite Estee Lauder fragrance. He also bought a wool suit with matching skirt from the local Kaliko shop. It has a white-rose print against the dark-grey background, true to his Yorkshire roots! I love this man, so thoughtful and generous!  
Early this morning, I woke up feeling happy and confident. I picked my red underwear from the drawer and slipped it on. I once read an article in a women’s magazine claiming that women wearing red underwear often got the job. I don’t know how true that is but there’s no harm being superstitious once in a while. Who knows what will happen today? (Junying Kirk. Trials of Life (Kindle Locations 203-206). 
Book description:
On her continued “Journey to the West”, Pearl Zhang meets Andrew Church and they fall in love. Her determined, professional pursuits land her a plum international development job at a leading UK university. Life is on an upward curve, or so it seems. 
Dick Appleton, a troublesome academic from a privileged background, wants a junior assistant other than Pearl, in his quest to discover China and what it has to offer him. What happens when two powerful personalities and two different cultures meet and clash? Will life teach Pearl another sharp lesson in her adopted country, or will the ancient Chinese belief hold true that everything happens for a reason? Will she bow to her fate or fights for her beliefs?

About the author

Junying Kirk grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. Currently working as a professional interpreter, her passion has always been reading & writing books, and world travel. 

Her 'Journey to the West' trilogy, 'The Same Moon', 'Trials of Life' and 'Land of Hope' have been published both electronically and in print. She lives in Birmingham, UK with her English husband. Visit the author at

May 21, 2014

BEE SUMMERS by Melanie Dugan, book review

Bee Summers
Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan, published May 15, 2014; UpStart Press
Genre: fiction
Objective rating: 4.5/5

I was taken in by this eleven-year-old girl whose mother left home without warning and whose father became her sole caretaker. A beekeeper, Nate Singer has to take Lissy out of school when he goes on his rounds for a few days or weeks at a time, transporting his bees in their hives to farms away from home. Most of the trips take place in summer, however, during those memorable bee summers. On these trips, Lissy learns more about bee pollination and meets different people to open up her world even more. She becomes closer to her dad and forms a bond with him and some of his friends.

I was less involved or sympathetic with Lissy the adult, who becomes estranged from her father later in life. Lissy only finds out the secrets of her mother after his death. Call it a cultural thing, but it was hard to make the jump from the young girl to the independent adult who hardly ever saw the father she had been so close to as a child. It was also hard to understand the father who let her go.

The book is inviting and moving in many parts, the writing excellent, and the young Lissy and her father Nate both individuals you could understand and sympathize with during the first part and at the end of the book. It's a bittersweet novel of a girl growing up and dealing with a past, the disappearance of her mother, that has always puzzled and haunted her. I heartily recommend this well written book, one that is very much character driven.

Publisher description: The spring Melissa (Lissy) Singer is eleven years old her mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer Lissy's father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.

About the author:
Melanie Dugan is the author of Dead Beautiful (“the writing is gorgeous,” A Soul Unsung), Revising Romance, and Sometime Daughter.
Born in San Francisco, Dugan has lived in Boston, Toronto, and London, England, and has worked in almost every part of the book world: in libraries and bookstores, as a book reviewer; she was Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, where she also served as managing editor of Poetry Canada Review and Quarry Magazine. She has worked in journalism, as a freelancer, and as visual arts columnist. Dugan studied at the University of Toronto Writers Workshop and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has a post-graduate degree in Creative Writing from Humber College. She has done numerous public readings.
Her short stories have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her partner and their two sons.
Here's the book on Goodreads. You can also link up to the author's website. The book is available for purchase here.

Visit the tour schedule for other reviews of the book, hosted by TLC Book Tours

Thanks to the author 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...