Jul 31, 2016

Sunday Salon: Advanced Readers Editions

Three new books have been added to my shelves.

Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett, advanced readers edition, published 2016.
"One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them." (publisher)
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, advanced readers edition published June 28, 2016
"Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse." (publisher)
Intimations: Stories by Alexandra Kleeman, proof, to be published September 13, 2016 by Harper
A collection of twelve stories irresistibly seductive in their strangeness explores human life from beginning to end: the distress of birth into a world already formed; the brief and confusing period of “living” where we understand what is expected of us and struggle to do it; and the death-y period toward the end where we sense it is ending and will end only partially understood, at best. (publisher)

Are you reading more, or less, in this summer heat? Summer makes me want to read more, it seems.

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date. And Mailbox Monday.

Jul 27, 2016

Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee: Waiting on Wednesday

A new thriller for summer reading:
Love Her Madly by M. Elizabeth Lee, to be published August 16, 2016 by Atria Books
A debut novel about an intense best friendship between two college girls which leads to the abrupt disappearance—and presumed death—of one and the survival of the other, who reveals the twists and turns of their relationship seven years later. (publisher)

Setting: New York City, Costa Rica, secluded island
Characters: Glo, Cyn, Raj in a romance triangle 

What book release are you waiting on?
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

Jul 26, 2016

Book Review: The Ninja's Daughter by Susan Spann

The 16th century Japan setting by Susan Spann makes the Hiro Hattori novels a unique historical mystery series.  This is the fourth in the series.
The Ninja's Daughter: A Hiro Hattori  Novel by Susan Spann, to be published August 2, 2016 by Seventh Street Books
Autumn, 1565: When an actor's daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto's Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim's only hope for justice. This is the fourth in the historical mystery series set in Japan. (publisher)

The characters and setting are intriguing. Hiro is a shinobi or ninja who is tasked with protecting the life of Portuguese Jesuit, Father Mateo, while the priest is living in Japan. Hiro poses as a translator and interpreter for Mateo, and is seen by the shogun's officers as a ronin, or a samurai without a master.  Father Mateo likes to dabble in crime solving while ministering to the Christians in the region, and helps Hiro in his detecting. 

The relationship between the priest and the shinobi brings the novel and the times to life, showing the differences between East and West during this period. Hiro has to constantly remind Mateo about what he can or cannot do or say in order to stay safe from the shogun's officers and not to create offense to the people. Mateo brings more sympathy and understanding of the characters they encounter. Together they solve the crime and help bring a criminal to light.

The plot and the action in The Ninja's Daughter reveal much about Japanese traditional culture and customs of the time. The two sleuths have to understand motivation and circumstance in order to find the real murderer of the actor's daughter found dead on the banks of the river. There are many suspects and the most obvious one is not necessarily the right one. 

Beginning paragraphs, chapter 1:

Knocking echoed through the silent house.
Hattori Hiro sat up in the darkness and pushed his quilt aside. His cat, Gato, tumbled to the floor. She mewed in protest.
Careful footsteps passed the door to Hiro's room. He recognized the pace of Ana, the housekeeper who cooked and cleaned for the Portuguese priest whose home they shared. Her rapid response told Hiro sunrise must be close at hand. Only a person already awake and dressed would reach the door so quickly. 

Suspects: The actor, Satsu, the father of the dead girl, is a suspect in this murder that is brought to Hiro's attention. The girl Emi had a thirst for freedom and wanted to live life on her own terms, to open her own teahouse and not marry as her family wished. Her actions might bring shame to the actor, who relies on his and his family's good reputation to advance in his career. 

The boy Emi was supposed to marry is also a suspect, as is her brother-in-law, the husband of her older sister. The solving of the mystery comes after much deliberation and snooping by Hiro and Mateo, who put their lives on the line while trying to avoid the Shogun's police and officers. 

Recommendation: This is another excellent, atmospheric mystery novel with enough twists and turns and suspense to kept me very interested. The characters are realistic, individualistic, and very likeable and I look forward to reading more about them in future books in the series.

About the author:
Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.

Thanks to the author/publisher and TLC Book Tours for an ARC of this book for review. For other reviews of The Ninja's Daughter, visit the tour schedule

Meme: Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading 

First Chapter: The Odyssey: A Novel of Homer's Odyssey by Patrick Dillon

I loved the Odyssey and am eager to read a new retelling featuring Telemachus, Odysseus's son left behind when his father embarked on his epic journey.


Ithaca: A Novel of Homer's Odyssey by Patrick Dillon, published July 5, 2016 re-tells Homer’s famous poem, The Odyssey, from the point of view of Odysseus’ resourceful and troubled son, describing Odysseus’s extraordinary voyage from Troy to the gates of hell, and Telemachus’s own journey from boyhood to the desperate struggle that wins back his home … and his father. (publisher)

First paragraph:
When I was younger my mother used to tell me stories. Always about my father.
 The time they met - already knowing they were to be married - and spent the night on the mountain above her father's home, and Odysseus cut a sprig of laurel leaves that they swore to keep forever. The first boar he killed, aged sixteen - the age I am now. His friends had been left behind in a frantic chase through the forests. In its first charge, the beast, a monster, gored Odysseus's thigh, but he ignored the pain and hurled himself on the animal with a spear. His friends found him that evening, lying bloodied but alive across the boar's carcass. 
Would you keep reading, based on the first paragraph?

Every Tuesday First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros are hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book you are reading or plan to read soon. 

Jul 24, 2016

Mailbox Monday: Romance and Fantasy


A new romance novel and a children's fantasy novel are among my new reads this week.

Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all too human characters, “It Ends with Us” will be published August 2, 2016. It is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price. (publisher)
When the Sea Turned to Silver is a children's fantasy written and illustrated by Newbery Honor author Grace Lin. It will be published October 16, 2016. A breathtaking, full-color illustrated fantasy inspired by Chinese folklore, a companion to the Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (publisher)

What is new in your mailbox this week?
Visit Mailbox Monday to see what new books other bloggers have received the past week. 

Jul 23, 2016

Sunday Salon: Novels and Oral Storytelling

An Amish mystery novel, In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen arrived this week, and I began reading it right away, interested in the setting in an Amish farming  community in Pennsylvania. The book is fiction but is written by an author who grew up in and lives in Lancaster County in Pa.
In The Land of Milk and Honey is the second in the Elizabeth Harris mystery series to be released August 2, 2016. Elizabeth Harris is a homicide detective who used to work in the NYPD, but who now works in Pa., living with her boyfriend, a former member of the Amish community.

Elizabeth is called in to help solve the mystery of the overnight death of an Amish family who seemed to have succumbed to the flu, but whose milk cows are also found to be sick and dying. I am in the middle of the novel and can't wait to find out what  and who is causing the deaths and sickness that is spreading in the Amish community.


A new galley on my desk, PhDeath, is a thriller by an author who has recommendations from writers and critics such as Pico Iyer and the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig. This is making me very anxious to read the book, the first of the Puzzler Murders by James P. Carse. It will be released September 15, 2016 by Opus Books.

The Kingdom: a Novel  by Fuminori Nakamura was published July 12, 2016 by Soho Press. I posted a review on July 16. I enjoyed this noir thriller, set in the Tokyo underground, that had me rooting for its unconventional main character.

It has been so hot these past few weeks! We spend four days in Kansas City where it was just as hot as here at home, if not more. The highlight of the trip for me was not only the perfect air conditioned room with its brand new furniture and decor in the renovated hotel, but attending a pre-conference "concert" of the National Storytelling Conference held at the hotel by the National Storytelling Network. We listened to five experienced storytellers, at least two of whom brought us to tears with their stories and dramatic performances. Storytelling certainly is a very creative artform.

Are any of you oral storytellers as well as readers and writers?

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.

Jul 17, 2016

Sunday Salon: Nursing, Knitting, and a Healing Garden


A needlecraft mystery novel and an historical mystery set in old San Francisco are my newest books.

No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman is the second in the Mystery of Old San Francisco series. It will be released August 2, 2016.
Main character and sleuth: British-born nurse Celia Davies, who runs a free medical clinic for the poor women of San Francisco.
Setting: San Francisco, 1807.
Knit Your Own Murder is the 19th in the Needlecraft Mysteries by Monica Ferris. This one will also be released August 2, 2016.
Main character and amateur sleuth: Betsy Devonshire, needleshop owner, finds out what's behind the death by poisoning of a local businesswoman.
Setting: the meeting of a knitting group called the Monday Bunch.

I am also reading a cozy involving plants and gardening, Murder in the Secret Garden  by Ellery Adams, third in the Book Retreat Mysteries. I loved the idea of a Healing Garden mentioned in the novel, an old idea that entailed elaborate and detailed planning. But I think any garden that is "visually pleasing" can be termed "healing" if it brings joy or relieves stress in the gardener and also neighbors and others passing by.

How many of you find puttering in the garden relaxing? Here is a list of cozy mystery writers compiled by the Cozy Mystery Blog List

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer.
Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date.

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...