Jul 4, 2018

Trial at Mount Koya by Susan Spann: Book Review

Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann continues the travels of Hiro Hattori, a samurai and Shinobi assassin who is the bodyguard for Portuguese Jesuit priest, Fr. Mateo in Japan. The historical novel is set in 1565 in Japan,

Samurai spy and assassin, Hiro Hattori, accompanied by Fr. Mateo, travel to a Buddhist temple on Mount Koya, to warn another samurai spy from his clan of future danger and to send him to alert other samurai in their group.

Hiro and Fr. Mateo and the spy become trapped at the temple by horrendous snow storms. When sudden murder follows upon murder, Hiro fears for the life of Fr. Mateo and is determined to protect the priest from the unknown killer. The author says the murder situation, with an isolated setting, was inspired by one of Agatha Christie's well known novels.

The mystery gets the reader involved in the world of samurai codes of conduct and behavior, Buddhist principles and their similarities and differences with Christian beliefs, Buddhist temples and their priests and ceremonies of those days. One of the customs that stand out is the attitudes towards women, who were barred from entering the grounds of certain temples and holy places.

Follow Susan Spann on Facebook as she climbs Japan's mountains and tells about the mountain temples she is barred from entering, even today.

I was intrigued not only by Buddhist doctrine in Hiro's day, and the discussion of Fr. Mateo with Mount Koya priests, but also by the samurai codes and conduct that seem very real and plausible for those historical times.

The well planned plot of the book, the identity of the culprit is almost impossible to guess, plus well developed characters and good writing, come together for  a very enjoyable and enlightening mystery novel. I'm looking forward to the next of Hiro's adventures.

For more reviews on this tour, see the review schedule. Also see the author's guest post on visiting the temples for her book. 

Susan's Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review copy of this book. 

Book beginning:
"I question your judgement, Hiro." Father Mateo looked at the sky, which should have burned with the fiery colors of a mountain sunset.  
Instead, a menacing wall of greenish thunderclouds churned overhead. 
"We can beat the storm to the temple." Hiro Hattori increased his pace and tried to ignore the angry meow that arose from the basket in his arms. 
 "That's not what I meant and you know it."
Meme: visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader 

Jul 1, 2018

Sunday Salon: Hot Weather Reading

New books this week, and more....
Putney by Sofka Zinovieff, August 21, 2018, Harper
... a teenage girl’s intoxicating romance with a powerful older man and her discovery, decades later, that her happy memories are hiding a painful truth. 

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar, September 11, 2018, Harper
One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

A Knife in the Fog: A Mystery Featuring Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle
A Knife in the Fog
A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper, October 7, 2018, Seventh Street Books
Physician Arthur Conan Doyle takes a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper in this debut novel and series starter.

Scandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #2)
Scandal Above Stairs
Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley, July 3, 2018, Berkley
Priceless artwork has gone missing from the home of a wealthy baronet, and his wife stands to take the blame. When Kat's employer asks for help in clearing her friend's name, Kat trades her kitchen for the homes of Mayfair's wealthiest families. 

Library book currently reading:
A Strangeness in My Mind
A Strangeness in My Mind
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk, 2015, Knopf
   the unforgettable tale of an Istanbul street vendor and the love of his life. 
I love the way he writes. He makes simple people come alive and he easily pulls you into their lives, rural or otherwise. 

Enjoying also Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf. All readers will be enlightened about how our brain works, how the neurons light up when we read. The author also discusses how digital, fast reading, and skimming on the web, rather than deep reading, will change our brain circuits. Scary? 

I'm staying in and doing more reading during these very hot and humid days of 90 degrees. the heat index has gone up to over 100 on some days! Apart from watering the grass and flower beds, we have not gone out much.

What books 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. Also, Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

Jun 23, 2018

Sunday Salon: Digital versus Paper

Reader, Come Home: The Fate of the Reading Brain in a Digital World

My most intriguing new book is this ARC from Harper Collins.
Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf addresses what parents and educators are probably concerned or curious about - the overtaking of the printed word by digital and online media, its unforeseen consequences on children learning to read, the positive and the possible negative.

It was easy to start reading this book, being an avid reader.
I resisted ebooks for a long time, but then found them easier at times, especially in low light situations at night, or lying in bed. Now, I'm mostly back to reading paper, at least for now.
Sweet Little Lies

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Freat is due to be published August 14, 2018.  It's a crime novel that seems to be a thriller and police procedural, with a detective constable delving into the past and crimes that may involve her father.
The Woman in the Window

I admit I went out and bought this book, The Woman in the Window, not wanting to be on the very long waiting list for a library copy. It was quite an intriguing read, especially with the agoraphobic main character who swears she witnessed a murder from the window of her house. No one believes her as she is considered unreliable and delusional, and even her doctor admits that her medications can bring on hallucinations and  loss of a sense of reality.

I was caught up in the plot although toward the end, I guessed the truth. For me, it was not a surprise ending, but this didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.

Trial on Mount Koya (Shinobi Mystery #6)
Add caption
Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann is the 6th Shinobi mystery set in medieval Japan and featuring a master ninja Hiro Hattori who solves crimes with his unusual sidekick, the Jesuit priest Fr. Mateo.  I enjoyed the first five and am eager to read this one for my book review on July 11, part of a book tour. Each of the books can be read as a stand alone novel.

Library book I'm currently reading:
The Red-Haired Woman

The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk was a lucky find at the library. I don't read enough books narrated by young men/teenagers and written by male authors. This is a literary novel about an adolescent falling in love and dealing, well or not so well, with an uncomfortable working situation, well-digging in the countryside under a demanding and obsessed well digger.  I've just now finished the book, a five star read definitely.

The writer is so good that his book made me begin to feel guilty too, as guilty as his young protagonist, although I had none of his experiences and did none of the things this young protagonist did.

What books 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. Also, Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews.

Jun 17, 2018

Sunday Salon: Reading Indoors in the Extreme Heat

Hot, hot day predicted, up to 98 degrees today and humid, with a real feel of over 100. Stay indoors, they tell me.

I have some books lined up for indoor reading, while others watch the World Cup.

New books:
Poisoned Pages (A Booktown Mystery, #12)
Poisoned Pages: Booktown Myste
Dyeing Up Loose Ends
Dying Up Loose Ends
Italian Iced (Ethnic Eats Mystery #3)
Read last week:
The Cactus
The Cactus
An independent 45-year-old single woman has her life turned around in The Cactuswith the unexpected death of her mother, a dispute over the will the mother left behind, and the antics of  her irresponsible younger brother Edward and his new friend Rob. This is a sort of romance, so be prepared to be charmed by the gradual change in the main character, prickly Sarah.

Shadow Child
Shadow Child
Shadow Child by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto was an engrossing read that held my interest all the way through. The story centers around identical twins, grandchildren of a couple who were incarcerated during WWII in a Japanese camp in California, and children of a mother who lived during the time of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The twins grew up in Hawaii, a land of ocean, flowers, and sunshine, but they are shadowed by the past, influenced in subtle and not so subtle ways by their grandparents and their mother's generation of Japanese who endured WWII. They must survive the past and the present in their own way. A five-star read. 

I am now trying to read Whistle in the Dark
Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey, even though the ARC has such fine print, I have to sit in the sun to read it easily. Wish me luck. It will soon get very hot outside!

Keep cool everyone!
What books 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.

Jun 8, 2018

Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle

Once Upon a Spine (A Bibliophile Mystery, #11)

Once Upon a Spine: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle
Published June 5, 2018; Berkley/Penguin Random House
Brooklyn  and Derek, owners of the Brothers Bookstore, get ready to host Derek's British parents while trying to solve a murder and vandalism.
This is the 11th in the mystery series though each book can be read on its own.

Book beginning:
Lately, I've resorted to stalking. Not a person, but a book. For weeks now I'd been visiting the book almost daily. It was a little embarrassing to continually beg the bookstore owner to let me hold it, page through it, study it. I just wanted to touch it, stroke it, and once, when he wasn't looking, sniff it. But he didn't seem to mind my book fixation. He's as big a book nerd as I am.
Many readers can empathize with Brooklyn and her extreme love of books. The fact that she is a book binder and an amateur sleuth adds spice to this novel. The British in-laws- to-be add to the plot interest and the solving of the mystery.

Page 56:
The fact that I had walked in and found two unconscious people - one almost certainly dead - was something I should have been used to by now. 
The amateur sleuth gets some help later on from her future mother-in-law, a psychic.
This is definitely a book for readers, bibliophiles, and mystery lovers.

Thanks to the publisher for a paperback review copy of this 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

Jun 3, 2018

Sunday Reading: Time Is a Killer by Michel Bussi

Time Is a Killer

I read this in French a year ago but saw this English translation at the book store and couldn't resist getting it. I am trying to find all the little details and nuances I may have missed reading in the original language. And I am enjoying the characters and the story all over again!

It's a thriller set in a corner of Corsica, and features a 15-year-old French girl, Clothilde, and her journal that tells of her youthful experiences and observations on the island in 1989.  The book moves forward twenty-seven years, when the adult Clothilde revisits the island with her daughter and husband, recalling the tragic car crash all those years ago that spared her life but took the lives of  her parents and brother in what seemed then like a freak accident on a mountainous, winding road. Clothilde is determined to find out the truth of the past by looking closely at the present.

Time Is a Killer by Michel Bussi, translated from the French,
Published April 10, 2018, Europa Editions
Here is the French edition cover, printed in 2016.
Le temps est assassin (French Edition)
The temps est assassin
I finished and reviewed only one book last week:
Death of an Honest Man by M.C. Beaton, the 33nd in her Hamish Macbeth mystery series set in Scotland. I can recommend this quirky Scots copper in the little highland village of Lochdubh, who solves mysteries but goes without the praise and the promotions that would take him away from his beloved home!

Gardening: We had a productive gardening day yesterday, mowing, weeding, trimming, planting, watering, and generally tidying up after all the spring and early summer rains made a mini jungle out of everything. Maybe more raking today if the rains don't come.

Exercises: Stretching in the mornings and during the day is the new prescription for me, for flexibility and building up strength in my legs and hips. I am working on being able to walk more than three miles at a time without collapsing.

Coffee and tea: I am enjoying an Indian oolong spiced tea and finishing off the Tanzanian coffee we found that we just loved.

Have a great Sunday!

What books 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.

Jun 1, 2018

Death of an Honest Man by M.C. Beaton: Review

Title: Death of an Honest Man by M.C. Beaton, February 20, 2018
Genre: Hamish Macbeth Mystery #33
Source: library book
Death of an Honest Man (Hamish Macbeth #33)

I liked this new book with policeman Hamish Macbeth in his element - his northern Scottish village, Lochdubh, solving the murder mystery of a body found in the bog.

Hamish is still avoiding a  promotion that would take him out of the village, and he still skirts commitment to either of the two problematic women he could have married. His relationship with the villagers, his sidekick policemen (they change so often),  and his little mini-farm of hens, sheep, dog and cat add to Hamish's interesting personality.

In this book though, Hamish becomes a bit more cunning and manipulative in hiding how he goes about solving the crimes, though he manages to keep the status quo in his beloved village and his job as the village bobby. I'm not sure if I like this change in Hamish but it does make things go smoother for everyone. I'm looking forward to the next book and the relationship with his newest police sidekick.

Book beginning:

The day had started out well for constable Hamish Macbeth. It was high summer with golden light bathing the little village of Lochdubh, situated in Sutherland in the northwest of Scotland. The air was pure and fresh and scented with pine from the forest on the other side of the sea loch. A yacht sailed in and the putt putt putt of the donkey engine was the only sound to break the silence of the early morning. 
Page 56:
"We've won out on far-fetched ideas before this," said Hamish. "Finish your drink and we'll chew some peppermints and see if we can see her."
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

Sunday Salon: New Reads

 Recently finished: Central Park  by Guillaume Musso,  March 16, 2021 by Bay Back Books. Genre: thriller, mystery Source: Netgalley The book...