Jan 31, 2018

First Chapter: Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan

Fools' River

Title: Fools' River by Timothy Hallinan
Published November 7, 2017; Soho Crime
Genre: mystery, thriller
Setting: Bangkok, Thailand

First paragraphs:
The blinds are drawn the way they've been drawn forever, with the inside edges of the slats tilted to block his view of the sky and the fall of sunlight through the window, which means he has no idea what time it is. Not that knowing would do him any good. 

He had a watch once, a gold one, French or Swiss or something like that, European, but he hasn't seen it since he got here. 

Wherever he is. 

Why are the blinds angled that way?

Book description:
The two most difficult days in Bangkok writer Poke Rafferty's life begin with an emergency visit from Edward Dell, the almost-boyfriend of his teenage daughter, Maiow. The boy's father, Buddy, a late-middle-aged womanizer who has moved to Bangkok for happy hunting, has disappeared, and money is being siphoned out of his bank and credit card accounts. (publisher)

Would you continue reading based on the opening paragraphs and other info?
MEME: Every Tuesday Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon

Jan 28, 2018

Sunday Salon: March Books

The Other Mother
The Other Mother by Carol Goodman, March 27, 2018, William Morrow,
"a gripping novel about madness, motherhood, love, and trust."
Setting: the Catskills
Genre: thriller, suspense

The Baby Plan

The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick, March 20, 1018, William Morrow
Genre: contemporary fiction, comedy
Setting: Santa Barbara, CA
"Three women jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy -  gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned...

Claws for Concern (Cat in the Stacks, #9)
Claws for Concern by Miranda James, February 20, 2018, Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery, Cat in the Stacks series #9
Setting: small town, Mississippi
" a mysterious man with a connection to an unsolved murder starts visiting the library" where librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel preside. 

Currently reading, library books:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy; winner of the Man Booker Prize
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, long listed for the Man Booker Prize

What are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Jan 25, 2018

Book Review: The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages
Title: The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
Published June 27, 2017, Putnam
Genre: contemporary fiction
Source: borrowed from the library
Rating: 5/5
A novel about jealousy, the unpredictable path of friendship, and the secrets kept in marriage, all set within the U.S. expat community of the Middle East during the rise of the Arab Spring. (publisher)

I really enjoyed this novel about the friendship and conflicts between two wives of American military personnel stationed in the Middle East during the Arab spring, with its uprisings and unrest. Besides describing the challenges of living in a new and mainly unfamiliar culture, the story focuses on two very different women, Cassie and Margaret, brought together by their husbands, Dan and Click's, military careers and by their need for friendship away from home.

Problems arise because the women have different backgrounds, personalities, and emotional needs. Their marriages are far from perfect and they both look for different things during their stay in Jordan. Cassie Hugo sticks to the rules of the embassy regarding travel safety and the ways women must be conservative in behavior and dress and in interacting with others, in particular men. Margaret Bradshaw, younger and more free spirited, disregards almost all the rules in wanting to experience the people and the culture in her own way. Cassie becomes upset and resentful when Margaret wants to branch out on her own to travel around the city and make friends with local people of all classes, relying on Cassie less and less and only to babysit her young toddler on occasion. This friendship comes to a head when something unexpected happens that creates serious conflict. Who, if anyone, is to blame?

The story was very interesting from a cultural point of view; it was also a revealing study in friendship that has some component of jealousy. Well written and engrossing, the book also left me appreciating some of the difficulties faced by families in the military living abroad.

Book beginning:
May 13, 2011
We are close, so close to Margaret's apartment, and I feel myself sink deeper into the passenger seat, relieved that I have succeeded in my small mission of getting Margaret out of her home, if only for a few hours. The day is a success. Sure, I had to let her drive something I usually avoid. Margaret is always too nervous, too chatty, looking around at the pedestrians forgetting to put on her signal, stomping on the brakes too late. But today I actually managed to snap her out of her sadness.I have done everything a good friend should.
Page 56:
Unlike me, Crick cannot tell a lie. For him, there is only one truth, and he tells it. 
Library book
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Book Beginning: Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Title: Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Author: Madeleine Thien
Published October 11, 2016, W.W. Norton
Source: library
A novel about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s, and about the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. 

Book beginning:
In a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his marriage, and the second, when he took his own life. That year, 1989, my mother flew to Hong Kong and laid my father to rest in a cemetery near the Chinese border. Afterwards, distraught, she rushed home to Vancouver where I had been alone. I was ten years old.
Here is what I remember. 

Page 56:
Still, those pretty piano notes were mocking all the movements she made. They dripped from the kitchen to the bedroom to the parlour, seeping like rainwater over the persimmons on the table, the winter coats of her family, and the placid softness of Chairman Mao's face in the grey portrait framed on the wall. 

I like the descriptive writing, evocative and conveying a certain mood.  What are you reading this week?

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Jan 21, 2018

Sunday Salon: Literary Fiction and Cozies

The cold freeze has broken, at least for a while, and I can go about doing chores again without bundling up like a bear. Next week will be busy.

Everything Here Is Beautiful
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee is a new book I found while browsing with no thought of buying until I started reading and had to take it home.

It's a heartbreaking page turner that pulls you into the lives of two sisters, how the elder one, Miranda, handles her younger sister's severe bipolar disorder. I was left wondering, what if...? Could a different approach have made a difference? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

I recommend the novel for its insight into family dynamics, the immigrant experience, and the problem of mental illness in families. The book covers several timely topics.

Rating: 5/5

Three paperback cozies I received from Berkley Prime Crime have the expected teasing titles and eye catching covers.
Clairvoyant and Present Danger (Bay Island Psychic Mystery #3)
Clairvoyant and Present Danger
Clairvoyant and Present Danger by Lena Gregory is #3 in the Bay Island Psychic Mystery.
After communications with a ghost land her in the middle of a murder investigation, Cass Donovan has to wonder if her gifts are really more a curse.
Pekoe Most Poison (A Tea Shop Mystery #18)

Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs is the 18th in the Tea Shop Mystery Series.  I love these books for their descriptions of the more genteel and traditional side of the south, in particular Charleston, and for the recipes for sandwiches, scones, and cookies always included at the end of each book. 

The setting is the Indigo Tea Shop with owner Theodosia Browning and her tea expert/sommelier Drayton, who manage to become embroiled in intrigues and murders that they have to help solve. In this book, Theodosia is invited to a "Rat Tea" by a prominent Charleston hostess. I can't wait to find out just what a rat tea is and why it has this off-putting name.

The Fast and the Furriest (Second Chance Cat Mystery #5)
The Fast and the Furriest by Sofie Ryan is #5 in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series set in North Harbor, Maine. Sarah Grayson runs the Second Chance bookstore with the help of her right-hand man Mac and her rescue cat, Elvis. Mac gets into trouble when an old flame shows up in town and then get killed. He is the main suspect. 

What are you reading this week?
The Sunday Post  hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer,  It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

Jan 19, 2018

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James

Twelve Angry Librarians is the eighth in the Cat in the Stacks series, by Miranda James
Published February 21, 2018, Berkley
Genre: cozy mystery
Charlie and Diesel must find a killer in a room full of librarians... 
Light-hearted librarian Charlie Harris is known around his hometown of Athena, Mississippi, for walking his cat, a rescued Maine Coon named Diesel. 

Book beginning:
"But I don't want to do it."
I glared at my administrative assistant and longtime friend, Melba Gilley. "You know how much I hate public speaking. Why can't Forrest Wyatt do it? College presidents do this kind of thing all the time."

Page 56:
"I grant you he's a colossal annoyance most of the time," I said. "But what has he done that would make someone see killing him as a solution?"

A room full of librarians would certainly prevent me from doing many things, not to mention commit a murder. Who would be so daring? The premise of the mystery is certainly an intriguing one. And having a Maine Coon cat as an assistant sleuth is an added intriguing entertainment in this cozy. 

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader

Jan 15, 2018

It's Monday: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

As Bright as Heaven
As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
Publication: February 6, 2018, Berkley Books
Genre: historical fiction

Only Killers and Thieves
(A) new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love....But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. (publisher)
We don't have an epidemic today in winter 2018 although enough people are affected by this flu season. Am eager to see how they dealt with the epidemic in 1918.

I am also reading Arundhati Roy's book, The God of Small Things in French, a few dollars less than the English version, on kindle. With the French translation, I feel as if I'm doing two good things at once - learning more French and reading a good book. More of an incentive to read a Man Booker Prize winner (1997) too!

Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth also arrived a bit ago.
Publication: February 6, 2018 by Harper Collins
Genre: historical fiction
Two adolescent brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power after a tragedy shatters their family in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia. (publisher)

What are you reading this week?
Memes: It's Monday, What Are You Reading? by Book Date., and Mailbox Monday.

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...