Saturday, January 31, 2015

Agatha Award Nominees

Maybe the reason I like the Agatha Awards is that I always see the names of friends on these lists. And, of course, I've read many more Agatha nominees than I have books nominated for other awards. Just my cup of tea (smile).

Congratulations to the nominees for the 2014 Agatha Awards. The Awards will be presented at Malice Domestic on May 2. The awards recognize traditional mysteries published in 2014 in the United States.

Best Contemporary Novel Nominees:

The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)

Best Historical Novel

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
Wouldn't It Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland (Minotaur Books)
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel

Circle of Influence by Annette Riggle Dashofy (Henery Press)
Tagged for Death by Sherry Novinger Harris (Kensington Publishing)
Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien (Henery Press)
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)

Best Nonfiction

400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga (Quill Driver Books)
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan (ed) (Henery Press)
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora (New Horizon Press)
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books)
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates (Overlook Hardcover)

Best Short Story

"The Odds are Against Us" by Art Taylor (EQMM)
"Premonition" (Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays) by Art Taylor (Wildside Press)
"The Shadow Knows" (Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays) by Barb Goffman (Wildside Press)
"Just Desserts for Johnny" by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
"The Blessing Witch" (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave) by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Level Best Books)

Best Children's/Young Adult

And Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4, The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlan Coben (Putnam Juvenile)

Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene

I have nothing but admiration for two writers I've never met, Joyce and Jim Lavene. Ten series under three names, plus a standalone. And, that's only what I find on Stop,You're Killing Me. I admire the creativity it takes to come up with three witches who are hoping to retire to Boca Raton in Spell Booked, the first in a new series.

Molly, Elise, and Olivia find that their powers are waning, so they are hoping to find three younger witches to teach, and then turn over their spell book. They have their eye on a young librarian who doesn't know she's a witch, but before they can discuss it with her, Olivia is killed, and their spell book is stolen. Now, two witches on the verge of retirement have to turn to a novice and a powerful witch they don't trust for help in finding a killer. Molly's a little handicapped in the search, though. Her family's been threatened. Her son has dropped out of college and returned home to live. And, maybe worst of all, her husband is a police officer investigating Olivia's murder, but Molly never told him she's a witch because the Grand Council of witches forbids it. It's only going to get worse.

Welcome to the Lavenes' idea of preparing for a witch's retirement. Spell Booked is a terrific mystery filled with delightful characters and a great deal of humor despite the tragedy and murder investigation. There's one wonderful scene when witches show up from all over to "poke" fun at a messenger from the Grand Council. There are other funny scenes involving the cat familiars, a ghost, a werewolf. I could go on, but I only hinted at some of the characters so I don't spoil surprises.

I'm sorry for the trouble Molly and Elise have to go through. But, I'm so glad Joyce and Jim Lavene decided to relate the story of witches who hope to retire. Spell Booked is magical, a fun mystery with dangerous undertones.

The Lavenes website is

Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425268254 (paperback), 294p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Give Books, Not Roses Giveaway

First, congratulations to the winners of the last contest. An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey goes to Carol M. from Monroeville, PA. Mildred B. from Great Neck, NY won Lisa Scottoline's Betrayed.

This week, I have a special giveaway from Hatchette Book Group and their  "Give Books, Not Roses" campaign. I'm going to let editor Christina Boys explain it.

Dear  Reader,

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! The crisp, cool air feels a little sweeter and stores are filling their shelves with greeting cards and candies. But instead of sharing the usual gifts, the way to someone’s heart can be through a story (and maybe a little bit of chocolate). Hachette Book Group is offering a “Give Books, Not Roses” Valentine’s Day giveaway for those of you who want to express your admiration for friends, family, and loved ones.

Love Gently Falling written by Melody Carlson is a romantic novella about the power of Valentine’s Day and how one woman discovers love while at the same time saving her family’s business. Successful hairstylist to the stars Rita Jensen returns to her hometown in Chicago after receiving news that her mother has suffered a stroke. Though Rita must come up with a plan to save her mother’s salon, the oncoming holiday and her undeniable feelings for an old classmate become quite a distraction.

Keys of Heaven is the second book in Adina Senft’s Healing Grace trilogy. Amish widow Sarah Yoder helps her community by creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. She struggles to find love with an Amish man, and she doesn’t know what to do about her attraction to her friend Henry Byler, who has turned away from her beliefs. Sarah’s story will show anyone that romantic love is not the only love that matters.

Valentine’s Day is an internationally celebrated day of romance, dating back to the 5th Century. But today, love touches our lives in so many different ways. Whether you are dedicating the day to your good friends or your life partner, treat them to these wonderful stories of courage, kindness, and love.

Christina Boys


So, this week, in honor of the "Give Books, Not Roses" campaign, one lucky winner will win copies of both books, and also a chocolate bar from Olive and Sinclair in Nashville. (We may be saying not roses, but we'll never say not chocolate.)

Email me at to enter the giveaway. Your subject line should read, "Give Books, Not Roses." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end next Thursday, Feb. 5 at 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

And, in case you don't win, the books are available here:

Barnes & Noble:

Barnes & Noble:

And, the chocolate bar? It's from Olive and Sinclair in Nashville,

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Are You Reading?

I have to be honest and say I just couldn't read the last mystery I tried. Some of the characters were too creepy. And, that's coming from someone who liked the movie Silence of the Lambs. But, I guess I like to feel as if characters have a soul.

So, I turned to something a little lighter to take the taste away. Spell Booked is the first Retired Witches mystery by Joyce and Jim Lavene. It's the story of three witches planning to retire to Boca Raton until one dies and their spell book is stolen.

What are you reading today?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg

Perhaps my reaction to Mike Greenberg's latest novel, My Father's Wives, says more about me than it does about the book. Maybe I shouldn't have read it immediately after Michael A. Kahn's The Sirena Quest. Together, they made me think men spend too much time dwelling on their past.

Jonathan Sweetwater thought he had the perfect life, a job he liked, travel, a wonderful wife, and two children he adored. And, then one day he came home early from work, and, suddenly he thought his life was built on a lie. And, that's the most important thing he and his wife, Claire, had agreed on. She said, "If you promise always to lie with me and never to lie to me, I'll do the same." But, Jonathan couldn't face asking the tough question. Instead, he decided to search for the answer to a question he never really knew. Who was the father who left him when he was nine years old?

Oh, Jonathan knew his father was "Percival Sweetwater III. Five-time United States senator, liberal lion, legendary lothario and bon vivant, author of nineteen books, sponsor of eleven legislative bills, trusted advisor to three presidents, husband to six women, and father to one boy." And, Jonathan's mother, Alice, was Percy's first wife. But, why did Percy leave on Jonathan's ninth birthday? To find the answer, Jonathan went looking for the five other women his father married.

Even now, it seems that Jonathan's decision to search for his father's story seemed ill-timed. It doesn't really fit with the problem that he himself was facing. In fact, I saw the search as a way to escape from making any decisions right then. Maybe he was trying to learn how his father made the decision to move on with life since his father said people are "the sum total of all the decisions we make". And, Jonathan had a major one to make.

My Father's Wives had a satisfying ending, although, as I said, the two storylines didn't always seem to fit together. And, Greenberg worked hard to make every one of Percy's wives different, while also making them seem perfect. It doesn't seem as if Jonathan would like every one of the former wives.

Mike Greenberg's My Father's Wives provided a few hours of entertainment. For many men, it will offer one of their fantasies, a scene with Michael Jordan. My favorite part of the book was a comment that was a throwaway line. "Don't be so afraid to die that you forget how to live."

The official author Twitter site for Mike Greenberg is @Espngreeny

My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg. William Morrow. 2015. ISBN 9780062325860 (hardcover), 240p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Sirena Quest by Michael A. Kahn

Michael A. Kahn may be best known for his mysteries featuring attorney Rachel Gold. And, Rachel does may a brief appearance in his latest novel, The Sirena Quest, but she isn't an essential part of this story. This is really the story of a quest, as the title states. But, what a quest! It's a caper, the story of the search for a missing statue, and the story of the brotherhood of four men. In the end, it's the story of determination to see an adventure through to the end.

Lou Solomon is a widower, father of two children, and a successful lawyer in St. Louis, known as the "Iceman" to the attorneys in his firm. He's also a graduate of Barrett College, Class of 1974. And, twenty years after graduation, when his former roommate, Ray Gorman, calls out of the blue and asks him to hit the road with him, the Iceman does something no one in his law firm would ever have expected. Lou accepts Ray's challenge, and the national challenge made my a wealthy graduate of the class of '59. Find Sirena, the statue that disappeared from the campus 35 years earlier. There's twenty-five million dollars at stake if the statue is restored to the campus on the day of the college's sesquicentennial. Lou, Ray, and their other two roommates from their freshman year hit the road in search of a legend.

The Sirena Quest is a little bit nostalgic, and quite funny. The four men, who had drifted apart after that year, have to discover who they are twenty years later. Their trip together is not only a trip into their past, but a revelation as to the men they became, the women they loved, and the lives they made for themselves. Along the way, they face setbacks and challenges, and the knowledge they are not the only team of hunters looking for Sirena. And, they face the knowledge that, for them, this may be the ultimate adventure. "Hey, maybe someone will write our story some day. Sirena may not be the Holy Grail, but she's the closest the four of us will ever get."

Michael A. Kahn has written an adventure for grown-ups. No one is in danger, but the men are determined to make one final trip together, a trip that will call on their bond of friendship. The Sirena Quest is funny and sad at the same time, a reminder of a past that can't be called back. As with any quest, sometimes it's the journey that's important, not the end result. And, sometimes, a dream comes true in ways not quite expected.

Michael A. Kahn's website is

The Sirena Quest by Michael A. Kahn. Poisoned Pen Press. 2015. ISBN 9781464203503 (hardcover), 287p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Chat, Feb Mysteries from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian

Lots of mysteries to list for February. I hope you find some to read. And, I hope you enjoy Jinx' role this month.

As Gouda as Dead - Avery Aames - 6th Cheese Shop Mystery
Played by the Book - Lucy Arlington - 4th Novel Idea Mystery
This Old Homicide - Kate Carlisle - 2nd Fixer-Upper Mystery
Murder in the Queen's Garden - Amanda Carmack - 3rd Elizabethan Mystery
A Root Awakening - Kate Collins - 16th Flower Shop Mystery
An Early Wake - Sheila Connolly - 3rd County Cork Mystery
Fry Another Day - J.J. Cook - 2nd Biscuit Bowl Truck Mystery
The Drowning School - Monica Ferris - 17th Needlecraft Mystery (1st time in paperback)
Darned If You Do - Monica Ferris - 18th Needlecraft Mystery (hardcover)
Book or by Crook - Eva Gates - 1st Lighthouse Library Mystery
Town in a Sweet Pickle - B.B. Haywood - 6th Candy Holliday Murder Mystery
License to Dill - Mary Ellen Hughes - 2nd Pickled & Preserved Mystery
At the Drop of a Hat - Jenn McKinlay - 3rd Hat Shop Mystery

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James

Miranda James' delightful Cat in the Stacks mystery series moves to hardcover with the publication of Arsenic and Old Books. All of the books combine mystery in a small college town with a charming Southern gentleman librarian who owns Diesel, a talkative Maine Coon cat. Or, as cat lovers would say, Charlie Harris is owned by Diesel. The mysteries are atmospheric with a close-knit cast of characters. In this case, James adds a fascinating search through Civil War diaries for the answer to a contemporary investigation.

Charlie Harris is thrilled when Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, Mississippi, donates four volumes of family diaries to the archives at Athena College. But, before he can do anything but add the gift to the archival records, two women show up demanding access to the Long family diaries. One is  a history professor desperate for tenure. The other is a writer, wanting to search them for ammunition in a political race involving two native sons, Beck Long and Jasper Singletary. Charlie is horrified when the diaries are stolen from his office. But, when the theft is followed by a hit-and-run death, Charlie fears someone is desperate. Is Charlie's job of preservation and research putting him at risk?

James' latest mystery is engrossing, blending political skulduggery, Civil War stories, and a murder investigation. Charlie's job in the archives comes front and center in this novel, and it's key to the story. Arsenic and Old Books is an absorbing mystery, the story of people whose good intentions go wrong.

The other essential element in these mysteries is Diesel. He's always at Charlie's side as a companion who attracts attention wherever they go. Diesel is appealing, and he's recognized and beloved around town. Diesel is present throughout Charlie's adventures. And, as a bonus element in this book, James tells the story of the first meeting of Diesel and Charlie.

A lovable, entertaining cat, Civil War diaries, small town secrets, politics, crime. Miranda James successfully incorporates all of those elements in the engaging mystery, Arsenic and Old Books.

Miranda James' website is Or visit James' Facebook page at

Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425257296 (hardcover), 293p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Werewolves, and vampires, and Picklemen, oh my! It can only be another marvelous steampunk novel from Gail Carriger. Waistcoats & Weaponry, the third book in her Finishing School series is a wonderful adventure for Sophronia Temminnick and some of her friends. Although it's time for Sophronia to realize she can't keep all her friends around her as they grow up.

1863 in Victorian England finds Sophronia in her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. She's learning all kinds of practical skills such as how to flirt and how to use a steel-bladed fan as a weapon. She worries about her friend, Sidheag, Lady Kingair, but it isn't until the middle of a ball for Sophronia's brother that Sidheag asks for help. There are troubles with the werewolves in Sidheag's pack in Scotland, and Sidheag is determined to return home. So, what is more natural than for Sophronia to steal a train that seems to be empty? How many friends does it take to steal a train? Sophronia, Lady Kingair, their friend Dimity from school, Sophronia's friend, Soap, the sootie from their dirigible school, and Felix, Lord Mersey (although they're not sure they can trust him), hijack the train and head north.

This third novel forces Sophronia to utilize all her skills to help her friends, and she realizes how much she's willing to do to save them. Carriger's series is a fast-paced adventure, with characters who continue to mature as they deal with the politics of Victorian England.

For those unfamiliar with steampunk, Carriger's novels are set in an alternate England in which supernatural creatures such as werewolves and vampires are part of society, a society that values mechanical devices such as dirigibles, steam engines, and mechanical servants. It's a society balanced precariously with allies and enemies, supernaturals who are accepted by the British Government, and those who don't want the supernaturals as allies. Sophronia Temminnick is not only learning etiquette and espionage learning who she can trust, and who she cannot.

Carriger's Finishing School series should be read in order so readers can meet Sophronia and her friends and enemies, watch the relationships change, and watch the characters grow. Waistcoats & Weaponry is just the third in what promises to be an exciting, fascinating series.

Gail Carriger's website is

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger. Little, Brown & Company. 2014. ISBN 9780316190275 (hardcover), 298p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winners and a St. Martin's Press Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Prentiss G. from Burlington, NC won Erika Chase's Book Fair and Foul. The Wolfe Widow by Victoria Abbott will go to Patty A. from Rapid City, SD. The books will go out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away two books from St. Martin's Press. In fact, the publisher is giving away a hardcover of the first one, An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey. The novel tells the story of Biddy Leigh, under-cook at Mawton Hall who would be content to marry her childhood sweetheart and open a tavern. Instead, she's forced to accompany her mistress on a European trip. While uncovering her mistress' secret, she becomes involved in a murderous conspiracy. Along the way, though, she records her adventures and culinary discoveries in an old book of recipes. This book is for those who enjoy a mystery, along with authentic 18th century recipes transcribed by the author.

Or, I have an ARC of Lisa Scottoline's recent Rosato & Associates novel, Betrayed.  Lawyer Judy Carrier has always been a champion of the underdog. When her aunt's friend Irish Juarez is murdered, and a cache of dirty money is discovered, Judy and her aunt know there must be more to it. Their search for justice takes them into a shadowy world where people are so desperate they can't go to the police while the ones who are ruthless take advantage of the vulnerable. Judy's investigation convinces her she must do whatever it takes to help the Betrayed.

Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject line should read either "Win An Appetite for Violets" or "Win Betrayed." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The contest will end Thursday, Jan. 29 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Body Snatchers Affair by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini

When Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini write the Carpenter and Quincannon mysteries, the books turn into atmospheric stories of 1895 San Francisco. The latest, The Body Snatchers Affair, mixes danger in Chinatown with Sherlock Holmes and the underlying sexual tension between the two detectives. And, then, of course, there are missing bodies.

The first missing body belongs to a case in Chinatown. John Quincannon is actually looking for a lawyer who is addicted to opium, a man who works for one tong.  He finds the man, only to be shot at, and end up with a dead lawyer, and the possibility of a tong war in Chinatown because the body of a dead elder is missing. When Sabina Carpenter, Quincannon's business partner, accepts a job from a wealthy widow, she's also looking for a missing body. Something odd is going on in San Francisco. And, it seems even stranger when a man who claims to be "The World's Greatest Detective, Sherlock Holmes" provides Sabina with suggestions that she look into the past of the man she is seeing. Why does this fake Holmes always seem to know more than the two detectives?

Carpenter and Quincannon are two capable private detectives caught up in unusual cases in San Francisco. Their pairing, along with the escapades of "Sherlock Holmes", provide the humor in a series that exposes the crime and gritty side of San Francisco in the 1890s. There was a little too much about Chinatown for me, but that's due to my own lack of interest in the subject. I have to admit I read these books because of the sparring between the two partners, and their on-going lack of relationship. I like the two characters.

The Body Snatchers Affair is not the first in the series. However, it's easy to pick up these mysteries without having read previous ones. Muller and Pronzini skillfully bring this period to life, with all of its grittiness, while providing humor in the background.

Marcia Muller's website is

The Body Snatchers Affair by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini. Tor. 2014. ISBN 9780765331762 (hardcover), 219p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Edgar Award Nominees

Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for this year's Edgar Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees! (If you want to see a very attractive announcement, check out MWA's own site -


Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Wolf by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
The Final Silence by Stuart Neville (Soho Press)
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown)
Coptown by Karin Slaughter (Penguin Randomhouse – Ballantine Books)


Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (W.W. Norton)
Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Minotaur Books)
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)
Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh (Crown Publishers)
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur Books – A Thomas Dunne Book)


The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Albani (Penguin Randomhouse – Penguin Books)
Stay With Me by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Barkeep by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas and Mercer)
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink)
The Gone Dead Train by Lisa Turner (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)


Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America
by Kevin Cook (W.W. Norton)
The Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest
for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Other Side: A Memoir by Lacy M. Johnson (Tin House Books)
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
by William Mann (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation
by Harold Schechter (Amazon Publishing – New Harvest)


The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis
by Charles Brownson (McFarland & Company)
James Ellroy: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction
by Jim Mancall ()McFarland & Company)
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands: Classic Film Noir by Robert Miklitsch (University of Illinois Press)
Judges & Justice & Lawyers & Law: Exploring the Legal Dimensions of Fiction and Film
by Francis M. Nevins (Perfect Crime Books)
Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe
by J.W. Ocker (W.W. Norton – Countryman Press)


"The Snow Angel" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Doug Allyn (Dell Magazines)
"200 Feet" – Strand Magazine by John Floyd (The Strand)
"What Do You Do?” – Rogues by Gillian Flynn
(Penguin Randomhouse Publishing – Ballantine Books)
"Red Eye" – Faceoff by Dennis Lehane vs. Michael Connelly (Simon & Schuster)
"Teddy" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Brian Tobin (Dell Magazines)


Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
(Clarion Books – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder
and Steve Hockensmith (Quirk Books)
Saving Kabul Corner by N.H. Senzai (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)


The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano (Penguin Young Readers Group – Kathy Dawson Books)
Fake ID by Lamar Giles (HarperCollins Children’s Books - Amistad)
The Art of Secrets by James Klise (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)


“The Empty Hearse” – Sherlock, Teleplay by Mark Gatiss (Hartswood Films/Masterpiece)
“Unfinished Business” – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS)
“Episode 1” – Happy Valley, Teleplay by Sally Wainwright (Netflix)
“Dream Baby Dream” – The Killing, Teleplay by Sean Whitesell (Netflix)
“Episode 6” – The Game, Teleplay by Toby Whithouse (BBC America)


"Getaway Girl" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine By Zoë Z. Dean (Dell Magazines)


Lois Duncan
James Ellroy


Ruth & Jon Jordan, Crimespree Magazine
Kathryn Kennison, Magna Cum Murder


Charles Ardai, Editor & Founder, Hard Case Crime

* * * * * *

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Tuesday, April 28, 2015)

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton (Minotaur Books)
The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)
Invisible City by Julia Dahl (Minotaur Books)
Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller (Minotaur Books)
The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)

What Are You Reading?

Last night, I had to finish a book for Library Journal, and review it. I'll be reviewing it here at the end of March, just before release date. Those last one hundred pages meant I didn't have time to finish a book. I just started the latest Carpenter and Quincannon mystery, The Body Snatchers Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini.

Since I don't have a book to talk about, let's talk about what you're reading. What book are you reading? Or what did you just finish? Or, are you starting a new book? Nosy readers would like to know!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

And Grant You Peace by Kate Flora

Every time I read one of Kate Flora's Joe Burgess mysteries, I'm reminded why I love police procedurals. Her latest one, And Grant You Peace, is topical, but it could be any time period, when the police are doing everything they can to find criminals, and keep the peace in their communities. And, Flora reminds us that the police are human, trying to deal with long hours and brutal crimes, while also trying to keep their own families intact.

Joe Burgess is known as the "meanest cop in Portland", Maine, but anyone who ever saw him deal with children would know he's a softy. And, his boss had promised he wouldn't have to handle a case with a baby again. It was just his luck to be hailed by a boy to help at a fire at a mosque. When he and a stranger went in, they found a young teen and a baby, locked in a closet. No one could save the baby. And, as the first officer at the scene, Sergeant Joe Burgess was determined to get answers. Who would lock two children in a closet? And, why had no one from the mosque shown up when it went up in flames?

What Burgess and his team uncover is a mess, and it all seems to be connected to the Iman and his Somali family, a family who won't answer any questions. Instead, problems grow as if they were fires sprouting up all over the city. "A fire that resulted in a death, a barrage of gunfire in a quiet city neighborhood, and a bad guy mistakenly released from jail? All in a day's work for Portland's finest." Before the Portland police can tie all the loose ends together, they'll face threats to their family, and threats to their own lives. And, it all comes back to that first crime. Who would lock two children in a closet?

Flora does allow the team to bring those loose ends together. But, she reminds us that police are often working short-handed, on multiple cases. She reminds us of the politics the police deal with daily. And, they're facing ugly crimes that tear them apart, knowing they have to go home to their own wives and families. Every day, those families wonder if their policeman husband or wife will walk through the door. Joe Burgess is only now realizing that. In his fifties, it's the first time he's had a family waiting for him, a family endangered because he's a police officer. He's only now seeing the reality that "families kept cops sane and balanced."

I love Kate Flora's police procedurals. And Grant You Peace shows those police working to keep streets and neighborhoods safe so citizens can sleep at night. Joe Burgess is just one of many, men and women with their own lives, who give up family time to solve crimes and work those streets.

Kate Flora's website is

And Grant You Peace by Kate Flora. Five Star. 2014. ISBN 9781432829391 (hardcover), 330p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ghost in the Guacamole by Sue Ann Jaffarian

"Sex, money, and power, the three reasons people kill and this has them all." And, some people think cozy mysteries with ghosts are just fluff. Sue Ann Jaffarian's ghost, Granny Apples, does provide the comic relief in Ghost in the Guacamole. But, there's nothing fluffy and cozy about a family feud between sisters.

When medium Emma Whitecastle is invited to lunch at Restaurante Roble on Olvera Street in L.A., she didn't realize her host owned and managed the restaurant. Rikki Ricardo wanted Emma to try to contact her late father, Felix, for his advice. Rikki, her sister, Lucy, and their mother, were the sole stockholders of the company that included the restaurant and a large Mexican food company. Rikki, passionate about the family business, wanted to keep it. Lucy was determined to sell, while their mother waffled. But, Rikki would let the business go over her dead body. To Emma's surprise, Felix warned her to sell, saying it might be over her dead body if she didn't.

Jaffarian's mystery has its light moments. As I said, Granny Apples, the ghost of Emma's great-great-great-grandmother, supplies those, as she spies on people, uses language she picked up from television, and encounters an unusual medium who can see and hear her. But, Emma takes her work seriously, which is why she worries about Rikki, and worries even more when her parents are at a crime scene. It's obvious to everyone that Emma needs to investigate.  Emma doesn't see herself as an investigator, but her father says, "What you do is investigative work. You investigate facts for your show and on the side you investigate the history and often murders of ghosts."

Paranormal mysteries add elements not available to other investigators; the ghost. And, the ghosts have different qualities and talents, depending on the author. But, most of them, like Granny Apples, are nosy and curious, perfect sidekicks. Sue Ann Jaffarian's Ghost in the Guacamole successfully mixes a serious murder investigation with the enthusiasm and humor only a ghost can add to a mystery. Granny Apples and Emma Whitecastle, with a little help from their friends, make a successful team.

Sue Ann Jaffarian's website is

Ghost in the Guacamole by Sue Ann Jaffarian. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425262498 (paperback), 294p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen takes readers back to Bascom, North Carolina, home of the bewitching Waverley women from her first novel, Garden Spells. Now, in First Frost, three generations of the family are uneasy as they wait for autumn to end. Until the first frost, the Waverleys are restless, uneasy in their very being.

In Garden Spells, the two sisters, Claire and Sydney were learning to live with their gifts, and each other. The gifts, and the enchanted apple tree in their garden, separated them from the rest of the town, although a number of the people of Bascom had unusual gifts. Now, though, Sydney's daughter, Bay, is a teenager, fifteen, a restless enough stage for a girl, but worse for Waverleys in the fall. Bay has always known where people belong, and she's convinced she belongs with a boy from a wealthy family, a family with a history with Bay's own mother. Claire's ability to put just the right ingredient in food has grown into a candy-making business, and she's driven to make it succeed. And, both Bay and Claire have seen a stranger in town, a man who seems to disappear like smoke. If it doesn't get cold soon, the Waverley women may do something they'll live to regret. "They always got restless before first frost, giving their hearts away too easily, wanting things they couldn't have, getting distracted and clumsy and too easily influenced by the opinions of others. First frost meant letting go, so it was always reason to celebrate."

And, a Sarah Addison Allen novel is always reason to celebrate, especially when the Waverley family returns. Allen's magical realism is entrancing, filled with beautiful phrasing, a fascinating town, and a supportive family. I could go on and on about the author's use of phrases to draw the reader in. Allen uses all her skills to set the stage for a story that conjures up longings and secrets.  First Frost is just her latest novel of secrets and family. Make no mistake about it. Claire and Sydney and Bay, along with their cousin, Evanelle, may have special gifts, but their greatest gift is the love they share, and the support they, and the men in the lives, give each other.

First Frost is an enthralling story, one that keeps the reader as restless as a Waverley, wondering how the women will fare. Storytelling is Sarah Addison Allen's gift, a magical one she shares in this latest novel.

Sarah Addison Allen's website is

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. St. Martin's Press. 2015. ISBN 9781250019837 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Upon request, the publisher sent me a copy for review.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant's novel, The Boston Girl, seemed too easy, too conversational. I expected something deeper from the author of The Red Tent. And, I'll admit I was a little disappointed as I first read Addie Baum's story. In fact, I was halfway through the book when I realized this daughter of immigrants telling her story to her granddaughter, passing on the history of women in the 20th century, was telling my grandmother's story. No, my grandmother wasn't the daughter of Russian Jews in Boston. But, oh, how some of those stories brought back my German American Catholic grandmother, and the few stories she shared.

Addie Baum relates her memories to her granddaughter, graduating from Harvard in 1985. Addie was the youngest of three girls born to Russian Jews who came to Boston. And, Addie, born in 1900, was the only one born in this country. Addie's mother never assimilated, and fought her oldest daughter, Betty, who left home. The second daughter, Celia, was the beloved fragile one. And, Addie? She could never please her mother, but she escaped. She loved school; she loved books. And, after school she went to the Salem Street Settlement House, where she joined a reading club for other Jewish girls. When she answered her granddaughter's question about how she became the woman she was at eighty-five, she said, "It started in that library, in the reading club. That's where I started to be my own person."

Between the Settlement House, and another refuge for young women, the Rockport Lodge where girls could go to the seaside north of Boston during the summer, Addie Baum met other young women from other nationalities, some with more education. Addie, with a little more education than her sisters, was not forced to work in a sweatshop, and refused to marry young. Instead, with encouragement from her friends and her sisters, she tried to make a better life for herself.

The Boston Girl is one woman's story. Addie Baum found friends outside her Jewish community, encouragement to make a better life, a husband and working life she chose for herself. But, she was only able to do that with help from friends and older sisters, some of whom were still trapped in the traditional life. It's the story of a woman living through two world wars, a flu epidemic, changes in society. It's the story of a woman living a life her mother could never understand, and could never accept.

And, for so many of us in our fifties or sixties, this is the story of our grandmothers. Daughters of immigrants, they were often forced to leave school. And, they worked until they married. They sent their sons off to war, and, eventually, they were proud to see their children and grandchildren with educations and careers that they never had.

Anita Diamant's The Boston Girl is so much more than one woman's story. It's a personal grandmother to granddaughter conversation, one most of us didn't have with our own grandmothers. It's personal. Addie Baum, and women like her, made us the women we are today, giving us opportunities and support and love. This isn't such a simple story. It's the remarkable story of the forgotten women of the twentieth century, forgotten voices. And, I hope my sisters and my Smith cousins find the time to listen for Grandma's voice in this novel.

Anita Diamant's website is

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. Scribner. 2014. ISBN 9781439199350 (hardcover), 322p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winners and a Book World Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the first contest of the year. Renee G. of Valleyford, WA and Betty W. from Hinton, WV won the copies of Lethal Code by Thomas Waite. The publicist will be sending out the books.

This week, I'm giving away two cozy mysteries set in the book world. Victoria Abbott's The Wolfe Widow finds Jordan Bingham thankful for her job with eccentric book collector Vera Van Alst, until a mysterious stranger shows up, fires her, and shows she has designs on Vera's possessions, including her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. Jordan is determined to save those books, and her job.

In Erika Chase's Book Fair and Foul, Molly Mathews, owner of the bookstore A Novel Plot, prepares for the first annual Mystery Book Fair with help from her friends in the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society. But, one of those friends had a history with a book publicist who ends up dead. Now, Molly and the mystery readers have to find the real killer.

Pick the book you would like to win, or enter to win both. I need separate entries, though. Email me at Your subject line should read either "Win The Wolfe Widow" or "Win Book Fair and Foul." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Groups

Do you belong to a book group? I belong to one that had its annual meeting this week to pick the books for the entire year. I love the process because you all know I love to talk about books. Anyone in the group can nominate up to three books. They're supposed to be books that are available in paperback, so we don't do recent books. The books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction. And, once they're nominated, we meet and discuss all the titles, and then we vote on the books we'll read in the current year. Here are the books we're reading in 2015. If you're in a book group, feel free to tell us what you're reading this year.

The book that received the most votes this year was Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I'm not leading the February discussion of this book, but it was the best book I read in 2013, so I'm looking forward to the discussion. It's the story of a publisher's rep, an eccentric bookstore owner on a island, and the gift left in the bookstore that changed lives in the entire island community.

Fannie Flagg's Can't Wait to Get to Heaven is our March selection. It's the story of an octogenarian who is surprised when she's up a tree to find herself on a adventure running into people she didn't expect to meet. At the same time, her experiences lead her small Southern town to wonder, "Why are we here?"

Our April book is nonfiction, Lauren Kessler's Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's. Kessler, the daughter of a woman who suffered from Alzheimer's, was devastated by the disease. To better understand the disease that took her mother, the journalist becomes a caregiver at an Alzheimer's facility, and learns lessons that challenge what we know about the disease.

In May, we're reading My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor. It's the inspirational story of the forces that impacted and shaped the woman who would go on to be a Supreme Court Justice.

Every summer, we have a potluck and read and discuss a book that might appeal to teens. Members encourage their children and friends to read the book and come to the meeting. This June, the book will be Elizabeth Wein's  Code Name Verity. It's a novel about a British spy plane that crashes in Occupied France in 1943. The female pilot and her passenger are friends. One has a chance to survive. The other has already lost the game. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's told she must confess her mission or face execution. Verity's "confession" of her life may be enough to save her. Or it might not.

William Landay's Defending Jacob is our July selection. How far would a parent go to defend their child? Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney, is as shocked as anyone else in his town when a young boy is stabbed to death in a park. However, he's even more stunned when his own son, Jacob, is accused of the crime. He believes in his son's innocence, even as evidence mounts, his marriage starts to fall apart, and the murder trial starts to destroy the family. How far will Andy go to defend his son?

The woman who suggested Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, our August book, said she loves monarch butterflies. Ron Charles said, "Kingsolver has written one of the more thoughtful novels about the scientific, financial and psychological intricacies of climate change. And her ability to put these silent, breathtakingly beautiful butterflies at the center of this calamitous and noisy debate is nothing short of brilliant."

I'm leading the discussion of William Kent Krueger's award-winning Ordinary Grace. A man in his fifties looks back at the summer when he was thirteen, a life-changing summer of tragedy in a small Minnesota town.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's memoir, This Child Will Be Great, is the October selection. The woman who became the President of Liberia after fourteen years of civil conflict, tells of her life, and her rise to power.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande was a Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2014. The surgeon looks at elder care, end-of-life treatment, and hospice care, with an awareness that patients and their families want comfort, peace, and dignity.

In December, we'll discuss TaraShea Nesbit's debut novel, The Wives of Los Alamos. It's an unusual book, told as a collective "we", of the women who left behind their familiar lives, and their parents and extended families, unable to tell them where they were going as they followed their scientist husbands to New Mexico. There, they lived under dismal military conditions without even knowing what project their husbands were working on.

Our January meeting is always our planning meeting, as it was this week. But, we usually select our February book ahead of time. So, in February, 2016, we'll be reading Amy Greene's Long Man. In a small town about to be submerged for the sake of progress, one woman and her three-year-old daughter are one of the last holdouts. When the daughter disappears, the community comes together one last time to aid in the crisis.

Those are the books we've selected for the next year's reading. What is your book group reading in 2015?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

Frankly, Molly Guptill Manning's When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II can be a little dry at times. At the same time, I teared up over and over again. It's hard for a librarian to resist a book that's about, "The inspiring story of an army of librarians, 120 million special paperbacks, and the authors and books that lifted the spirits of our troops."

According to Manning, when American "citizen soldiers" went to war, the war took a physical and psychological toll. This is the story of the movements in the U.S. to see that "America's fighting men were equipped with spirit and resolve to carry them through their battles." It was a movement carried out first by librarians, supported by the American Library Association, who saw that 18 million donated books went to the military. And, it was a movement by publishers of books, magazines and newspapers who joined together to revolutionize publishing to send paperbacks to the armed forces. The Council on Books in Wartime saw that over 123 million Armed Services Editions were printed, books that fit into breast and pants pockets. And, they were books that won over the hearts of American soldiers and sailors.

Many Americans may have been against the country entering the war, but when German university students burned books, and libraries throughout Europe fell to the Nazis, Americans were outraged, writing letters to newspapers. "In Eastern Europe, the ERR burned a staggering 375 archives, 402 museums, 531 institutes and 957 libraries. It is estimated that the Nazis destroyed half of all books inCzechoslovakia and Poland, and fifty-five million tomes in Russia." Hitler attempted to destroy the written word in Europe, but American librarians fought back, urging Americans to read more. It led to a campaign to provide books to soldiers.

Manning's book is an account of the books, the changes in publishing, and the reaction of the armed forces. It's those accounts that moved me. My father-in-law fought in the Pacific, in places such as New Guinea. As the book relates stories of the soldiers, desperate for entertainment and escape, I can see Harry, who talked about playing cards and playing baseball, who fought in terrible battles, but never told us those stories. And, to the very end, he read paperbacks, westerns and mysteries, the kinds of books sent to the servicemen via Armed Services Editions.

Maybe the book is a little dry. It's history, with a list of all of the books in the Armed Services Editions. But, behind those lists and those facts are faces. Those books represent librarians and publishers who believed in the importance of books, servicemen who needed those books, and whose lives were often changed forever, and authors who received grateful notes from men all over the world. It's a story of American defiance in the face of book burning. When Books Went to War does include "The stories that helped us win World War II".

When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. ISBN 9780544536022 (hardcover), 267p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What Are You Reading?

The book club I belong to met last night to select our titles for 2015. Between that, and coming home to the college bowl game, I didn't have time to finish my book. I'm reading When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning about books and World War II.

So, what are you reading right now? Or, what did you finish over the weekend? I'd love to know!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Sometimes, I'm just stubborn when it comes to books, and I don't read the book everyone is talking about. William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace won all kinds of awards. But, honestly? I haven't always been a fan of the book that won the Edgar Award. However, Beth Hoffman called it one of the best books she read in 2013. And, a reader here has been asking if I've read Krueger yet. So, I finally picked up the book. And, everyone was right. It's moving, powerful, tragic, beautifully written. Yes, William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace deserves every award it received.

In 1961, Frank Drum was thirteen, living in a small Minnesota town, New Bremen, with his parents, his older sister, Ariel, and his younger brother, Jake. Ariel was a music prodigy headed for Juilliard. Jake seldom said anything to anyone because of his stutter. Frank, the oldest son of a Methodist minister, was at that age when he was cocky and wanted to be an adult. Forty years later, Frank tells the story of that summer that turned him into an adult a little too soon.

It all began with the death of a boy slightly younger than Frank, a boy killed on the railroad tracks. Was it a tragic accident, or was there "something fishy" about it, as one of the policemen thought? Frank, with his brother, Jake, tagging along, is curious about the death. And, when Frank and Jake find a body near the tracks, they're soon at the heart of the events that will take place over that long, troubling summer. When tragedy strikes his own family, then, Frank finds himself more than a witness.

Krueger's novel isn't a murder mystery, despite the tragedies. It's not about murder. It is about survival, going on with life, and finding the way to do it, whether it's grace, strength, family. And, it's about how people survive, even if they use drink or turning a blind eye. Ordinary Grace is a story about a bigger picture. It's about war and survival. It's about daily life and survival. It's about those who have been knocked to their knees, or stutter, or are the wrong race. It's about how they go on with life, or shut themselves away from it.

Krueger's book came out in early 2013, and went on to win all kinds of awards. Ordinary Grace isn't an ordinary book. It's one of those special books that explains life in simple words that touch the heart. It's truly an exceptional novel.

William Kent Krueger's website is

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Atria Books. 2013. ISBN 9781451645828 (hardcover), 307p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Sunday, January 11, 2015

In Hot Water by J.J. Cook

Berkley Prime Crime actually used a quote from one of my previous reviews of a J.J. Cook mystery on the cover of this latest one, In Hot Water. It says, "A master of cliff hangers." If you don't believe it, this latest book is another piece of evidence to prove that. Time and again, J.J. Cook leaves Fire Chief Stella Griffin worrying about the late Fire Chief, and ghost, Eric Gamlyn. It's not easy, either, for the reader to worry about a ghost.

The Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, volunteer fire department was able to put out the fire that destroyed former state representative Barney Falk's house, but he was found dead. And, the fire department could have used more water than the trucks could supply. Everyone in town seems to have answers for the fire department. When Stella proposes a fire boat, one citizen has an old wooden boat he's eager to sell. A family of boat builders have a boat, and sweeten the pie by offering up Rufus as a volunteer for the fire brigade, and a possible date for Stella. Why doesn't anyone have answers to the suspicious nature of the fire at Falk's house, or the suspicious powder found in it? And, who would like to stop the investigation, enough to kidnap Stella?

It's a good thing Eric has discovered he can leave his cabin. Until now, the ghost had been tied to the two places closest to him, the cabin he shares with Stella, and the old fire station. That may all end if a local man gets his way, and can bulldoze Eric's cabin. But, until then, the late fire chief uses his new ability to rediscover Sweet Pepper, and to help Stella when she's in danger, or needs help in an extreme emergency.

As fire chief, Stella is discovering that life in a small town isn't always so different from life in Chicago. Cronyism and deals are universal. But, intimidation, kidnapping, and murder, and the ghost of the late fire chief, have become a disturbing part of her life in Sweet Pepper. Now In Hot Water, with its distressing ending, leaves readers worrying about the future of Cook's amateur sleuths. It's a riveting story, but justice and a peaceful life always seem just around the corner in J.J. Cook's nerve wracking page turners.

J.J. Cook's website is

In Hot Water by J.J. Cook. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425252628 (paperback), 293p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Anticipation - New for 2015

Early in the week, I did a brown bag lunch that talked about anticipated movies made from books, and anticipated books. I have to admit, a couple of the books were coming out the very day I did the program, but that doesn't mean people weren't anticipating them! So, here are the movies and books I featured.

Anticipation – New for 2015

Forthcoming Movies/TV made from books –

Still Alice – Lisa Genova (Release date 1/16, after Oscar-qualifying one-week run in Dec. In general
release in February.) A renowned Harvard professor receives a shattering diagnosis that changes her family forever. Stars Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth.

The Humbling – Philip Roth (Release date 1/26) An aging and addled actor has his world turned upside down after he has an affair with a lesbian. Stars Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig, Kyra Sedgwick.

Fresh Off the Boat – Eddie Huang (ABC series premiere 2/4) Based on Huang’s memoir, a Taiwanese family makes their way in America in the 1990s.

 Seventh Son – Joseph Delaney (Release date 2/6) Based on Delaney’s The Last Apprentice series, Tom is apprenticed to the local Spook to learn to fight evil spirits. His first test comes when the Spook is away. Stars Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges.

In the Heart of the Sea – Nathaniel Philbrick (Release date is 3/13) Based on the tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, preyed upon by a sperm whale in 1820, stranding the crew for 90 days. The story also influenced Melville's Moby Dick. Stars Chris Hemsworth. Director Ron Howard.

Serena – Ron Rash (Release date is 3/27) In Depression-era North Carolina, George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when he marries Serena. Stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence.

The Dovekeepers – Alice Hoffman (CBS, 3/31 & 4/1) – Based on Alice Hoffman’s historical novel about the siege of Masada, the miniseries focuses on four women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival.

The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks (Release date 4/15) – The lives of a young couple intertwine with that of a much older man who reflects on a lost love after he’s in a car crash. Stars Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood.

Anticipated Books –

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust – Alan Bradley – Latest Flavia de Luce novel , in which Flavia is sent to boarding school in Canada, but that doesn't stop her sleuthing. (1/6)

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth – Christopher Scotton – A coming-of-age novel set in a coal town in Appalachia in Kentucky. (1/6)

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – Three women narrate the book, that has the most unreliable narration since Gone Girl. Rachel, the main narrator, is drunk throughout most of the story. When another woman disappears, Rachel ends up as the vague, drunken witness. One of the hot books coming out. Supposedly the next Gone Girl. (1/13)

First Frost – Sarah Addison Allen – Allen brings back the Waverley women from Garden Spells as they grow restless in autumn because of their apple tree and the magic that surrounds it. (1/20)

My Father’s Wives – Mike Greenberg – The ESPN star writes of a man who discovers his life isn’t as perfect as he thought, so he tracks down his father’s five ex-wives to learn about the man he never knew. (1/20)

The Magician’s Lie – Greer Macallister – Debut novel about a female illusionist given one night to convince a policeman she is not a murderer. “Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus.” (1/13)

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah – What would women do for their children’s survival? Occupied France in 1939. (2/3)

A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler – Tyler reveals the nature of a family’s life as she traces generations of the Whitshank family. (2/10)

Hush Hush – Laura Lippman – Baltimore sleuth Tess Monaghan takes on a new gig as a mother while working on a new case, that of a documentary filmmaker who may be getting away with murder. (2/24)

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania – Erik Larson (3/10)

A Dangerous Place – Jacqueline Winspear – A new Maisie Dobbs novel. (3/17)

If some of the descriptions are a little skimpy, there are two reasons. Does anyone really need to know more than Dead Wake is about the Lusitania? And, remember, I was there to talk about all the books.

Then, I gave away a few ARCs, ones I had as duplicates.

Among Thieves – John Clarkson – Thomas Perry calls it, “An intense, well-written thriller about tough, cunning men whose conflicting schemes turn Brooklyn into a battlefield.” (2/3)

The Unquiet Dead – Ausma Zehanat Khan – Debut that follows Canadian detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty as they investigate the death of a man who may have been a Bosnian war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. (1/13)

Fear the Darkness – Becky Masterman – Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn is building a new life in Tucson when she agrees to help a local couple investigate the death of their son. (1/20)