Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

Together with Anna Waterhouse, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar relates a story of Sherlock Holmes' older  brother, telling of his first adventure when he was only twenty-three. Mycroft Holmes is an intricately plotted, dramatic account. And, it's marvelous, with the tone of the original stories.

While his younger brother is in college, Mycroft is already making a name for himself as secretary to the Secretary of State for War. He aspires to work for Queen and country, marry his gorgeous fiancée, Georgiana, and settle down in a nice house to raise three children. In appearance, he's the opposite of his brother, well-muscled, good-looking and blond. He may be as brilliant as Sherlock, but Mycroft is much more practical. However, he throws all of his practicality to the wind when his best friend, Douglas, and Georgiana both decide to return to their homes in Trinidad after learning of trouble there. Along the waterfront in Trinidad, people have disappeared. Legend says douens have called to children, and then a lougarou (a giant mosquito) sucked the blood out of them. Mycroft and Douglas plan to sail on the same ship as Georgiana, but, once they board, they never see her. Instead, they encounter unexpected violence, and the beginning of an adventure that neither man anticipated.

The authors introduce Holmes into a world that is far different than the London he knows. And, the young Mycroft's character and future role is defined by his experiences. Georgiana had started to change his opinions. Now, the events in Trinidad do force him to "Look at social inequalities not as curiosities to be catalogued, but as wrongs to be righted." And, Mycroft and Douglas do have wrongs to right, criminal activities that have long tentacles. But, Holmes comes to realize how young he actually is, and that he hadn't encountered true evil before.

It's fascinating to see the build-up of Mycroft Holmes's character. He shares so many traits with his brother, the intellect, the patterns of observation. There's a dry humor in his observations, such as "Given the great number of Adam's spawn in the streets..." But, Sherlock is a loner, a self-centered man. Mycroft wanted to serve the Queen and country, so he went into civil service. And, it's intriguing to read about the relationship between the two brothers in those young years.

Mycroft Holmes is a dramatic account that builds in intensity. There's a menacing atmosphere that permeates the book. With it's complex characters and compelling story, this novel is worthy of every Sherlock Holmes story that preceded it. And, Mycroft proves to be just as capable of deception, cleverness, and action as his better-known brother. Mycroft Holmes is a wonderful debut novel.

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. Titan Books. 2015. ISBN 9781783291533 (hardcover), 328p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Are You Reading?

It's been a couple weeks since we've discussed your reading. What are you reading today? I'm halfway through Mycroft Holmes, a terrific debut novel by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. The authors send Sherlock Holmes' older brother to Trinidad. It's a fascinating introduction to a young Mycroft who is already working for "Queen and country". I'll discuss Mycroft's personality and the storyline in my review. It's terrific so far.


I hope you're enjoying your current book. Tell us about it, please.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dead with the Wind by Miranda James

Some amateur sleuths seem out-of-place and awkward when they leave their home environments. Not so with Miranda James' octogenarian Ducote sisters, An'gel and Dickce. The two Southern grandes dames are perfectly at home on a plantation in Louisiana. And, they're perfectly capable of solving a complex case in Dead with the Wind.

An'gel and Dickce travel to Willowbank with their ward and their two pets, a Labradoodle and an Abyssinian cat. The plantation is the ancestral home of their cousin, Mireille Champlain, whose granddaughter, Sondra, is getting married. Sandra is eager to inherit her trust and fortune, and everything must be Sondra's way or no way at all. The Ducotes are appalled at Sondra's behavior, and they worry about their cousin's health in dealing with the spoiled bride-to-be. The housekeeper and others even warn Sondra of bad luck with the upcoming storm and the wedding day she selected, telling a story of a post-Civil War bride-to-be who was blown off her balcony during a storm. While An'gel and Dickce scoff at the legend, the anger in that household swirls around, portending trouble. After one near-fatal miss, and then death, the Ducotes are convinced the tragedies at Willowbank are not accidental.

There's a great deal of drama and anger in James' latest Southern Ladies mystery. Dead with the Wind is a polished, character-driven story featuring two spirited, determined amateur sleuths. The ambience is also perfect for this story set on a Southern plantation, with emotions riding high as a storm hits. All of the elements combine to create a foreboding atmosphere. Fortunately, James tempers the evil with a sweetness, created by the presence and actions of the pets and a toddler.

An'gel Ducote thought "It pained her greatly to see her cousin's family unraveling in so nasty a fashion." It may have pained the Ducote sisters, but the family drama and tragedies make for an excellent mystery. And, the sisters are capable, admirable sleuths in Miranda James' Dead with the Wind.

Find Miranda James at www.catinthestacks.com.

Dead with the Wind by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425273050 (paperback), 291p.

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


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Knot the Usual Suspects by Molly MacRae

Molly MacRae's latest mystery, Knot the Usual Suspects, takes fabric to a whole new level. If murder wasn't involved, the scheme that came out of the Weaver's Cat would be funny. And, it's still a charming linchpin for the story.

Blue Plum, Tennessee, is all set for the annual arts-and-crafts-fair, Handmade Blue Plum. As a business, the Weaver's Cat can't participate in the amateur endeavor. But, Kath Rutledge and her knitting group TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Fiber) have found a way to be involved. They have a hush-hush plan to yarn bomb Blue Plum the night before the event. They're planning on a fun, attractive art event. They just didn't plan on murder becoming a bigger disruption to Handmade Blue Plum.

Everyone downtown heard the bagpiper during the night. But, when the piper is killed, Kath's small group comes together to ask questions. Her assistant, Ardis, had just had lunch with the man, her favorite student. But, other people in town seemed a little shocked to see him back in town. The yarn bombing around town seems like the perfect opportunity to prowl and ask a few questions. But, instead of finding answers, Kath finds another body.

Some of my favorite cozy mysteries include ghosts. And, Geneva, the Weaver's Cat ghost, makes a great contribution to the solution of the mystery. She's learning not to be quite so whiny after over a hundred years of death. Now, if she could just learn to communicate with her great-great-niece.

I'm very grateful for the character list at the beginning of Knot the Usual Suspects. With thirty-one characters to keep track of, I desperately needed that list. I enjoy MacRae's mysteries, but this one was a little too character-heavy. Geneva would probably agree, since she wants to be the center of attention.

So, check in with Geneva and Kath in Blue Plum, Tennessee where Knot the Usual Suspects combines arts-and-crafts, a ghost, and murder, in a complicated story.

Molly MacRae's website is www.mollymacrae.com

Knot the Usual Suspects by Molly MacRae. Obsidian. 2015. ISBN 9780451471314 (paperback), 337p.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Chat - October Mystery Releases from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian



For those of you who don't want to listen to or watch the entire book chat, here's the lengthy list of October releases. (Sorry, no Jinx this month. He was off harassing Nikki instead.)

Murder, Plainly Read - Isabella Alan - 4th Amish Quilt Shop Mystery
Floral Depravity - Beverly Allen - 3rd Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery
Ghost of a Potion - Heather Blake - 3rd Magic Potion Mystery
The Big Chili - Julia Buckley - 1st Undercover Dish Mystery
Gossamer Ghost - Laura Childs - 12th Scrapbooking Mystery (1st time in paperback)
Parchment and Old Lace - Laura Childs & Terrie Farley Moran - 13th Scrapbooking Mystery (hardcover)
A Gala Event - Sheila Connolly - 9th Orchard Mystery
Murder She Wrote: The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher - Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain & Renee Paley-Bain - 44th Murder, She Wrote Mystery (hardcover)
Ghost Wanted - Carolyn Hart - 4th Bailey Ruth Ghost Mystery (1st time in paperback)
Ghost to the Rescue - Carolyn Hart - 5th Bailey Ruth Ghost Mystery (hardcover)
Just Killing Time - Julianne Holmes - 1st Clock Shop Mystery
Dead with the Wind - Miranda James - 2nd Southern Ladies Mystery
Faux Paw - Sofie Kelly - 7th Magical Cats Mystery
Looking for Mr. Good Witch - Joyce & Jim Lavene - 2nd Retired Witches Mystery
The Skeleton Haunts a House - Leigh Perry - 3rd Family Skeleton Mystery
Trick or Deadly Treat - Livia J. Washburn - 9th Fresh Baked Mystery



Friday, September 25, 2015

Winners and Those Texas Lawmen

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Austin C. of Evansville, IN won Code Grey by Clea Simon. Samantha M. of Litchfield Park, AZ won Nancy J. Cohen's Peril by Ponytail. The books will go out today.

What is it about Texas lawmen? This week, I'm giving away two mysteries featuring Texas lawmen. The town of Jarrett Creek is bankrupt in Terry Shames' Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek.  And, Gary Dellmore, the heir apparent to the bank has been murdered. So, the town asks retired police chief Samuel Craddock to take the job temporarily. When he investigates, Craddock discovers Dellmore had a roving eye, and it was his bad business practices that drove the town into bankruptcy. How many people in town might have wanted him dead? And, what ever happened to the innocence of Jarrett Creek?



Or, maybe you'd prefer the humor of Bill Crider's Half in Love with Artful Death. It features Sheriff Dan Rhodes and all of his eccentric staff. A sheriff's work is never done. First, there's almost a riot at an artist workshop at the local community college. Then, the art-hater who started it ends up dead. Add in a naked woman in a roadside park and a gang of meth-cookers. Fortunately, any fan of Sheriff Dan Rhodes knows he can handle all of the odd situations that come up.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Since both titles are a little long, you subject heading can read either "Win Shames' Texas" or "Win Crider's Texas." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, Oct. 1 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I ed. by Elizabeth Foxwell

In recent years, there have been a number of books published about women and their roles in World  War II. We haven't seen as much about the women who served, in some capacity or another, during the first world war. Elizabeth Foxwell remedies that situation with her collection of letters and columns, In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I.

The first section of the book introduces women who served as relief workers of one sort or another. There are women who served as hospital workers. Some served in the Red Cross or Salvation Army in war zones. They were there during bombings and after the bombings. They tended children, injured soldiers. One woman was a Red Cross Searcher, who looked for answers as to missing men or men who worried about their families. There were women who served as entertainers, in just as much danger with bombs as the European villages.

There's also an entire section devoted to those women who were war reporters, reporting, when they were allowed, on wartime conditions. Mary Roberts Rinehart's articles will be of particular interest is mystery fans. She was a war correspondent, and received special permission to cover bases and hospitals in the U.S. She is very frank as to her disapproval of the conditions and even the officers. And, she's suspicious of activity at a hotel near her house.

As much as I admired all of these women, though, I, naturally, found myself intrigued by the women who served as librarians during the war. Foxhole quotes a document saying ALA (the American Library Association) was asked "to assume responsibility for providing adequate library facilities in the thirty-two cantonments and National Guard training camps." "By the time of the ALA's June 1918 War Library Bulletin, the war library service had established 41 libraries in large camps, 237 libraries in small camps, 249 libraries on naval stations and vessels, and 1,323 libraries in YMCA and Knights of Columbus facilities, as well as sent books to 91 hospitals and Red Cross facilities." Three different librarians wrote of serving the camps and the hospitals for returning veterans. I knew about the role librarians and books played in World War II. I didn't know about the roles in the first world war.

Readers may not think of the active roles women played during World War I. Foxwell's collection remedies that, showing women in the many heroic roles they played.

In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I edited by Elizabeth Foxwell. Oconee Spirit Press. 2015. ISBN 9780985910578 (paperback), 233p.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

When Gourmet magazine folded, Ruth Reichl had been editor in chief for ten years. She was lost. She felt as if the magazine had survived for almost seventy years, and folded on her watch. After she finished her book tour duties for the company, she and her husband retreated to their home in the country. And, that's where she rediscovered the joy that resulted in My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life.

Reichl spent years working in restaurants, reviewing restaurants, writing about food. Now, she had nothing to do during her days except cook. Her days may have started out slowly as she dealt with the grief and sorrow of leaving a job she loved. And, she turned to her new discovery, Twitter, to share her days and feelings and food she prepared, sharing them with friends she discovered online. By the end of the year, she knew it was food, and using food as conversation, that she truly loved.

My Kitchen Year is a glorious book. Reichl takes readers through her year of discovery, and the recipes that helped her survive and recover from her grief. The book is broken down by seasons, and the recipes help in telling Reichl's story of change. The 136 recipes are introduced easily, as part of her conversation with her readers. And, each day is introduced by a Tweet, lines to her online friends that summarize the day, its weather, and the food that accompanies that day and the atmosphere.

Because Reichl creates an atmosphere with every recipe, and the photos that accompany them. The pictures are perfect, taking us into Reichl's home. The reader is present with her, observing her actions as she cooks or bakes, and learning her methods and hints as to cooking.

Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life is exactly what it should be, a conversation about food and life with readers. It may be the perfect gift for someone who enjoys experimenting with everyday cooking, someone you love who loves food. Reichl has gifted readers with her gentle conversations about cooking with love.

Ruth Reichl's website is www.ruthreichl.com

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl. Random House. 2015. ISBN 9781400069989 (hardcover), 352p.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Killer Year: Stories to Die For edited by Lee Child

I don't know if it would have been better to read Killer Year: Stories to Die For... when it originally came out in 2008 or not. With the 2015 paperback release, the author biographies have been updated. We now know what happened with the "Class of 2007".

In 2007, a number of debut thriller writers decided to band together to publicize their first efforts, and work together to promote each other. The International Thriller Writers organization, ITW, decided to take those authors under their wing, and members mentored the debut "class". As part of the efforts, they put together a "sampler" as editor Lee Child calls it, a collection of short stories by the members. Their mentors introduced the pieces; Lee Child edited the book; M.J. Rose explained the background; and Laura Lippman wrote the afterword. A couple established thriller writers included stories.

There isn't a bad story in the entire collection. Each of the authors shows their mastery of the short story and the thriller genre. There are fascinating stories of revenge, crime, and, even humor. What is equally fascinating is the class itself. In the last eight years, those debut authors have gone on to become hard winning authors, household names if you read thrillers, and, in the case of Jason Pinter, a publisher as well as an author.

It's difficult to review a collection of stories. And, each one of these stories deserves to be read and appreciated, not just reviewed. So, the best way to handle this is a roll call. If you're a thriller reader, and don't recognize a name, look for a book. Or, pick up Killer Year: Stories to Die For so you can discover every author in that "Class of 2007".

So here's the list of those debut authors, all deserving recognition. Kudos to Brett Battles, Robert Gregory Browne, Bill Cameron, Toni McGee Causey, Sean Chercover, J.T. Ellison, Patry Francis, Marc Lecard, Derek Nikitas, Gregg Olsen, Jason Pinter, Marcus Sakey, and Dave White.

Killer Year: Stories to Die For... edited by Lee Child. St. Martin's Paperbacks. 2015. ISBN 9781250067326 (paperback), 331p.

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Silver Linings by Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber's books are comfort reads, but don't get too comfortable. There are sometimes surprises in her books, as in Silver Linings.

Macomber takes readers back to the Rose Harbor Inn in Cedar Cove, Washington, where widow Jo Marie Rose has now owned the bed-and-breakfast for eighteen months. She bought the inn after her husband was declared missing, presumed dead, in Afghanistan. And, she felt his presence, assuring her the inn would be a refuge for her, a place to heal, and a place where her guests could heal. She continued to grieve there after Paul was determined to have died in the war. At least she had the friendship of her handyman, Mark Taylor.

When two guests show up at the inn, planning to attend their tenth class reunion, Jo Marie has just received a terrible shock. Mark tells her he's leaving, and despite their growing attachment, he won't reveal where he's going, or why he's leaving Cedar Cove. Despite her anger, Jo Marie welcomes Coco and Katie, two women who returned for special reasons. Coco is there to confront a man who humiliated her ten years earlier. Katie is there to look for the man she's never forgotten, the fellow student she still loves. But, Jo Marie could tell them that life doesn't turn out as expected, and the class reunion won't be what either woman expects.

I've said before that I read for character. I enjoy watching changes in characters, watching relationships and growth. The Rose Harbor novels introduce likable characters, develop a storyline that makes readers care for those characters, and then those characters leave the inn, leaving Jo Marie alone again, and the reader hoping that relationships develop. Fortunately, Macomber usually wraps up the storylines, giving us happy endings.

But, not always. And, I have to respect Debbie Macomber for showing that life isn't always wrapped up in pretty packages. Oh, I know it's a shrewd move on the part of an author. We'll return for the next in the series to see what happens. But, like Macomber, I'm not going to tell you what happens with any of the three women in the book. You'll have to read Silver Linings to find answers, and to find what's left unanswered.

Debbie Macomber's website is www.debbiemacomber.com

Silver Linings by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books. 2015. ISBN 9780553391800 (hardcover), 331p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Southern Journey by Rick Bragg

In a number of essays in this collection, Rick Bragg refers to magic, usually in relation to food,  particularly in New Orleans. But, I use that term in relation to his writing. His latest collection is poetry, pure magic. My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South is quite often humorous, sometimes a little melancholy, but always warm, heart-felt, and written with love.

Bragg's collection includes essays previously published in Southern Living, Bon Appetit, GQ, and even Garden & Gun. I'm guessing that some are original for this book when there's no magazine title listed. He's broken the book into five sections; Home, Table, Place, Craft, and Spirit. However, the articles flow from Bragg's life, his love of his mother, the South, and Southern food. It's a book that wraps the reader in that familiar Southern humidity, and makes anyone crave the fried chicken, fish, and sweet tea. It's a book about holidays (several featuring Bragg's favorite, Thanksgiving), and family and home.

If you read and love Rick Bragg's writing, the book will suck you in on the first page. "It suits me, here. My people tell their stories of vast red fields and bitter turnip greens and harsh white whiskey like they are rocking in some invisible chair, smooth and easy even in the terrible parts, because the past has already done its worst.. The joys of this Southern life, we polish like old silver. We are good at stories." Oh, yes. Rick Bragg has always been good at stories.

If you like Southern storytelling, rocking on the porch stories, stories of family and food and home, My Southern Journey is a comfort read. And, it doesn't get any better than this.

My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg. Oxmoor House. 2015.  ISBN 9780848746391 (hardcover), 254p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths, winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award for her first mystery featuring Dr. Ruth Galloway, launches a new series with The Zig Zag Girl. Out last year in England, the first book is set in Brighton, England, where a small team called the Magic Men may be in danger.

It's 1950, and England is struggling to recover from World War II. Edgar Stephens is now a Detective Inspector responsible for a shocking case. A woman's legs and head  have been found in luggage that was left in Brighton station. But, when Edgar realizes the luggage resemble a magician's boxes, he turns to a magician for help, Max Mephisto, who did a trick called the Zig Zag Girl before the war.

The war changed everything, and it sent a small group of men to Inverness, Scotland. Edgar wasn't a magician like Max, the Great Diablo, and Tony Mulholland, but he was recruited because of his skill in solving puzzles. The small team called themselves the Magic Men. Their job was providing illusions to deceive the Germans. Now, when first one death, and then a second one, are linked to magic and the Magic Men, Edgar and Max have to determine if the group is the target, or if one of their small group is a killer.

Griffiths' latest mystery is fascinating, but for unusual reasons. The story of the magicians during the war is intriguing. But, it's the story of England in recovery and change that I found most intriguing. Griffiths' characters clearly represent the various classes, and Edgar constantly worries that he's risen past his class, and feels out of place in all aspects of his life. And, Max Mephisto, who represents a dying breed of magicians who tour and perform in the best venues, is a mysterious, interesting character.

Although the mystery itself is puzzling, I had problems with the solution. I wasn't satisfied with the conclusion. However, it would be a spoiler to discuss that aspect, so my comments about it will be below, under Spoiler.

Read The Zig Zag Girl for the representation of England in the post-war years, and the fascinating characters. And, if you've read the book, read the spoiler, and let me know what you think.

Elly Griffiths' website is http://www.ellygriffiths.co.uk

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. ISBN 9780544527942 (hardcover), 328p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

*****

SPOILER - What is it with the recent mysteries in which the sleuth, professional or amateur, don't solve the crime, and don't even have an idea who the killer is until trapped by the killer? Although The Zig Zag Girl was interesting, I had problems with the fact that Max and Edgar never figured out who the killer was. It was a minor character who saw the killer, and realized it, but Max and Edgar were victims themselves. This was the second mystery I just read when the sleuths just stumbled into the solution. That's not satisfying.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Winners and an Autographed Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Pauline B. of Rochester, MI won the copy of Daryl Wood Gerber's Fudging the Books. And, Death of an English Muffin by Victoria Hamilton will go to Jane W. from Scottsville, VA. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I'm giving away two autographed mysteries. When Clea Simon sent the copy of the latest Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery, Code Grey, she said she autographed it so I could give it away. And, you don't have to have read earlier books in the series to pick up Code Grey. It's spring break, and most people, including Dulcie's boyfriend, have left Cambridge. Dulcie's working on her thesis. But, when a former student turned homeless is found injured with a valuable missing book from the campus library, she's convinced he didn't steal it. And, then she finds a connection to her own research.




Or, you could take a trip to Arizona with the honeymooning Marla Vail with Nancy J. Cohen's Peril by Ponytail. A dude ranch wouldn't have been Marla's choice for a honeymoon, but her husband, a homicide detective, wants to help his family who are dealing with problems on their property. Even he didn't anticipate murder, with his uncle as the primary suspect.

Which mystery would you like to win? Both are autographed. You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win Code Grey" or "Win Peril by Ponytail." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The contest will end Thursday, Sept. 24 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Zig Zag Girl - What Are You Reading?

Well, darn. Somewhere or another I had read about magician Jasper Maskelyne and the "Magic Gang" who created illusions during World War II to confuse the Nazis. And, author Elly Griffiths credits a book about Maskelyne called War Magician by David Fisher in the acknowledgements for The Zig Zag Girl. On the other hand, I just read that those stories about magicians during World War II aren't true. Darn.

That doesn't mean I'm not enjoying Griffiths' The Zig Zag Girl. I'm one third of the way through the book, set in 1950 in Brighton, England, where murder victims are connected to magic and a group who worked together during the war, the Magic Men. Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto team up when Edgar realizes the killer has targeted the remaining Magic Men.

Since I haven't finished the book, I'm not reviewing it yet. So, let's talk about what you're reading. What are you reading today?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Booked for Trouble by Eva Gates

What library lover wouldn't dream of escaping to a library in the Bodie Island Lighthouse at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore? Lucy Richardson found her dream job there when she fled an engagement. But, when her mother follows her to the Outer Banks, Lucy finds herself trying to keep her mother out of jail in Eva Gates' charming mystery Booked for Trouble.

When Lucy's mother unexpectedly shows up, Lucy knows her mother wants to drag her back to Boston. But, something seems a little off. Suzanne Richardson doesn't seem eager to talk about Boston. And, Lucy is stunned to see her proper socialite mother appear abrupt and rude to the hotel staff. In fact, Suzanne has a public confrontation with a former high school classmate who is now working as a housekeeper at the hotel. No matter what's going on with her mother, though, Suzanne has manners. That night at the library, once Lucy's book club is over, Suzanne apologizes. It's too bad Lucy is the only witness to the apology. When that housekeeper ends up end, everyone, including the police, knows about the argument at the hotel. To Lucy's bemusement, when Suzanne is told not to leave the island, she doesn't object. Now, Lucy's worried on several counts. Who really killed the woman, and what's going on with her mother?

The Lighthouse Library mysteries are atmospheric stories. The lighthouse library, the Outer Banks, and the small island community are picturesque and appealing. And, the cast of characters are ones anyone would want to know, beginning with the library staff, the wonderful library cat, Charles, and Lucy's cousin, Josie, who owns the local bakery.

But, Booked for Trouble falls a little flat as a mystery featuring an amateur sleuth. Lucy never actually solves the mystery. In fact, her method of investigating is to make wild guesses as to who the killer might be, and fling her guesses at a very competent police chief. The solution to the mystery is not dependent on Lucy's investigative skills.

I'll continue to read the Lighthouse Library mysteries. I love the setting and the cast, especially Charles. If you want an armchair visit to a charming island library, check out Eva Gates' Booked for Trouble.

Check out Eva Gates' (Vicki Delany) website at www.vickidelany.com or visit http://www.lighthouselibrarymysteries.com

Booked for Trouble by Eva Gates. Obsidian. 2015. ISBN 9780451470942 (paperback), 272p.

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Recap - William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace

Last night, I led a book discussion of William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace. So, I wasn't home to read a book. But, I did have the chance to reread this wonderful book over the weekend in preparation for the book discussion. It's moving, powerful, tragic, beautifully written. Ordinary Grace deserves every award it received. Saying that, today I'm rerunning my review of the novel. If you haven't read it, maybe you'll be enticed to pick it up.

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. It's about God, and whether God fails us in time of crisis. It's a coming-of-age story.

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 www.WilliamKentKrueger.com

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

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Mary Karr, who has taught classes featuring memoirs for thirty years, and written three award-winning bestselling memoirs herself, now turns her hand to instruction. Although the publishers originally suggested they just publish her syllabus, Karr turned her hand to an instructional, informational book, The Art of Memoir.

Karr says memoir is "The sheer, convincing poetry of a single person trying to make sense of the past." The author of a memoir presents their truth to the world, a truth that might be different to a sibling or parent, or someone who lived through the same experience. And, she discusses that truth, discussing the "accuracy and inaccuracy of memory." Any memoir is the author's own version of events.

The Art of Memoir uses memoirs as examples of the form. Karr discusses memoirs she teaches: Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory, Geoffrey Wolff's The Duke of Deception and his brother, Tobias' The Boy's Life. She discusses her own writing, and uses other writers as examples as well. There is also an extensive list of memoirs in the Required Reading portion.

Karr's latest book is a lesson in writing memoirs, with suggestions and examples of the best and worst writing. And, it's an impossible book to review. How do you review a how-to book? The answer is to suggest that Karr, who has read memoirs for fifty years, and taught the subject for thirty years, is an expert. She's also an expert who reminds wannabe writers to find their own voice, even if that means throwing out the rules. And, with all of her expertise, she says she remains in awe of everyone who has the courage to try to write "some truth from the godawful mess of a single life". As do I.

Mary Karr's website is www.marykarr.com

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. HarperCollins. 2015. ISBN 9780062223067 (hardcover), 256p.

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


Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Fury by Shane Gericke

In the seventh edition of Genreflecting, Andrew Smith said, "Thrillers are about power - who doesn't have it, whose misusing it, and what it will cost to restore some kind of balance to the world." That explanation definitely fits Shane Gericke's latest thriller,The Fury. And, Gericke himself analyzes fury and the Furies, discussing violent anger and rage, the Furies who punished criminals, and a woman who is fierce and angry. Gericke's The Fury shows there's no force as strong as an angry woman, determined to seek revenge.

In a thriller, the stage is much larger than in the traditional mysteries I normally read. The Fury's stage encompasses the world, and goes back to World War II and the Cold War. But it begins with one couple, Derek and Superstition Davis. When Derek is killed by a Mexican drug cartel, his wife goes crazy. And, the federal government can use a crazy police officer.

During the Second World War, both the Nazis, the Japanese and the Americans were all trying to develop nerve gas to kill large populations. Poison gas was just the beginning. When the war ended, the gas was still there, but during the Cold War, the United States buried the obsolete munitions in the ocean. Now, following the explosion of an oil rig, the crew sent to cap the link discover those buried gas tanks. And, gas tanks will make wonderful ammunition for Mexican cartels. When the U.S. government discovers that a cartel has the tanks, people at the highest level decide they can use one angry, crazed police officer as their weapon. Superstition Davis may be their best defensive weapon as they try to prevent the deaths of millions.

Gericke's The Fury is a violent, graphic thriller from start to finish. It's a complex story with a large cast of characters, spanning years and various countries. However, the author skillfully weaves together all the characters and storylines. The Fury brings together members of the drug cartel, the Chicago police, the FBI, the CIA, prisoners, and numerous characters who make one or two appearances before their death. As the book incorporates historical elements and characters from World War II, it shows that man hasn't changed over the years in his search for power, and the ways to destroy others. Gericke's novel, with its connection to actual events, is too scary.

Gericke has always created strong women, but Superstition Davis is an unrivaled force. The reader is immediately on her side, rooting for her to succeed in whatever war she takes on to avenge her husband's death. She's bright, quick, strong, and determined.

Gericke's latest thriller is a story with non-stop action, complicated characters, and, of course, power. And, the best part of the book is The Fury herself, Superstition Davis.

Shane Gericke's website is www.shanegericke.com

The Fury by Shane Gericke. Tantor Media. 2015. ISBN 9781630150037 (paperback), 360p.

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen

How could I resist a mystery with a character from Florida who is vacationing in Arizona? Two of my home states. But, it doesn't turn out to be quite the trip that hair stylist and salon owner Marla Vail expects in Nancy J. Cohen's latest mystery, Peril by Ponytail.

Ten months after their wedding, Marla and her husband, Dalton, finally have a chance to take a honeymoon trip. But, a dude ranch in Arizona isn't quite what Marla wanted. She knows Dalton's cousin offered them free lodging on the family-owned ranch. She didn't know Dalton, a homicide detective, had agreed to look into some of the violent incidents that were happening on the ranch. And, then the sleuthing pair discover the problems aren't just at the ranch where water valves have been loosened, and other problems have happened. Dalton's Uncle Raymond bought a ghost town. A worker disappeared. Then a forest ranger, a riding friend of Raymond's, ends up dead on a trail he knew well. And other ranchers are blaming Raymond for the lack of water on their ranches, saying he's taken the water for his ghost town. But, a rattlesnake and a cabin fire convince Marla and Dalton that someone may actually be targeting their family. If their honeymoon has to be spent on an investigation, they're going to find the answers and help their newly discovered family.

Family is a major theme in Cohen's latest mystery. There are family arguments, secrets, and the destruction of family because of the past. Dalton didn't know of his extended family because his mother never talked about them. And, it takes quite a while for Raymond to reveal secrets even his own children didn't know. With Raymond so secretive, it's no wonder that Dalton and Marla wonder if he is at fault, and has something to hide from everyone. It's not easy to suspect and investigate family.

Because Cohen takes her characters out of Florida, their natural setting, Peril by Ponytail, is an excellent introduction to the series for anyone who hasn't read previous books. Marla and Dalton are starting a new life, and they're visiting people and a setting that are new. To someone who has lived in Arizona for a lengthy period of time, Marla's view and opinion of Arizona is funny. However,  it's actually an excellent introduction to part of the state with the climate and setting. And, Marla and Dalton, mature characters with a trust in each other, and their shared innuendos, are interesting sleuths.

Part of the fun of any mystery is trying to guess whodunnit before the sleuth does. I guessed correctly early on, and I also guessed the reason for the violence. Then, it's as if the reader challenges the sleuths to see how long it takes them to find the same answer. Peril by Ponytail leads the reader, step-by-step through the investigation process to a satisfying conclusion.

Nancy J. Cohen's website is www.nancyjcohen.com

Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen. Five Star. 2015. ISBN 9781432830984 (hardcover), 292p.

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

Winners and a Cozy with Food Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contests. Hester Young's debut, The Gates of Evangeline, will go to Debbie K. from Cypress, TX and Carol M. of Monroeville, PA. A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourne will go to Allison F. of Haverhill, MA. The publishers are sending all the books.

I'm giving away this week's books, cozy mysteries involving food. Fudging the Books is the latest Cookbook Nook mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber. Jenna Hart is celebrating for two reasons at her California bookstore. It's Pirate Week, and, even better, the local Chocolate Cookbook Club is hosting  a candy maker and author. But, when the author's editor ends up dead, Jenna sets out to stir up the answers.





Or, you might prefer Victoria Hamilton's Death of an English Muffin. Merry Wynter needs the money to keep and try and restore Wynter Castle, so she takes in some tenants who want to live in a real castle. Too bad they can be nasty, which is why she calls them "The Legion of Horrible Ladies". But, when one of the ladies is murdered, Merry needs to find the killer because she and the castle are getting a reputation for violent deaths.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win Fudging the Books" or "Win Death of an English Muffin." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The contest will end Thursday, Sept. 17 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Are You Reading?

Two nights in a row involving work events means I won't have time to finish my book until Friday night. I'm reading Shane Gericke's
latest thriller, The Fury, involving one detective who stands between the United States and a doomsday attack. And, she's a woman whose husband was just brutally murdered.


Since tomorrow is book giveaway day, I have a little time to finish the book. In the meantime, what are you reading this week? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Forgotten by Heather Graham

If you're a fan of Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters series, as I am, here's a warning. Don't read my review unless you've already readThe Silenced. Graham's latest suspense novel in the series, The Forgotten, includes some of the same characters, and it will spoil The Silenced if you haven't read it. For those who are going on with the review, The Forgotten is as fascinating as all the other books in the series.

After horrifying events in her life, Lara Mayhew has changed careers, and her last name to Ainsworth, her mother's maiden name. She's moved to Miami, where she now works in PR for a center that rescues, rehabilitates, and researches dolphins. She hasn't worked there long, but one of the dolphins, Cocoa, has bonded with her. And, then one day Cocoa brings her a gift, a human finger.

FBI agent Brett Cody is angry and frustrated at the turn in a case. He liked Maria Gomez. But, now she was dead, murdered by a man who looked just like her dead husband, a man who had been caught up in the schemes of a Miami crime boss. But, it isn't until Lara Ainsworth reports that finger that Brett and his partner, Diego, realize how strange their case is. And, when another man is murdered, supposedly by a friend who had been buried three months earlier, the national headlines scream about killer zombies in Miami. The dead may be walking, and appearing to those who can help them, but there is someone evil behind the body snatching.

Like Nora Roberts, Heather Graham has written countless books, and both authors are able to bring unique twists to every story. Graham's Krewe of Hunters novels feature strong women, sexy men, and the unexplained. The Krewe of Hunters is a special unit of the FBI formed to investigate cases involving the unexplained, often ghosts that appear and assist in finding the humans behind the evil. Each book takes place in an unusual, beautiful setting; in this case, Miami, Florida, with fascinating details about the locale. And, the books are romantic suspense, involving a man and woman who are strongly attracted to each other.

The Krewe of Hunters novels are fast-paced stories that suck the reader in quickly with a dramatic opening scene. The Forgotten, with the helpful dolphin, the stories of  the dead walking the streets of Miami, and the attractive investigators, is a novel not easily forgotten.

*****
Note: Since Heather Graham just signed a contract for another five books in the Krewe of Hunters series, those of us who are fans have terrific reading ahead of us. And, her new book in the series, The Hidden, is due out at the end of September.

Heather Graham's website is www.theoriginalheathergraham.com

The Forgotten by Heather Graham. MIRA. 2015. ISBN 9780778318576 (hardcover), 296p.

*****
FTC full disclosure - Library book

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Meet Veronica Speedwell. She's a literary descendent of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody and an ancestor of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce. She's also the intrepid heroine of Deanna Raybourn's new mystery series, beginning with A Curious Beginning.

Veronica Speedwell's remaining spinster aunt and guardian dies just before Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. After attending to the funeral, the young woman is now free to lead the life she desires, wandering the world, indulging her professional passion for butterflies as a lepidopterist, as well as her passion for men and adventure. But, before she can even leave her cottage, adventure finds her. She finds someone ransacking the cottage, and when she tries to fight him off, he attempts to kidnap her. It's Baron Maximilian von Stauffenbach who rescues her, warning she's in terrible danger, and sweeping her off to London. All she knows about the Baron is that she trusts him, and he once knew her mother, the mother Veronica herself never knew. And, he trusts a moody natural historian, Stoker, enough to leave her in his care.

Veronica calmly accepts her unusual circumstances, but Stoker isn't quite as happy to be left with custody of the young woman. And, he's even angrier when the Baron is murdered. Now, the two are on the run, trying to find a killer, when they have no idea why the man was killed. And, it doesn't help that the two keep secrets from each other as they hurry away from London. Now, it's just two adventurers on the run, using scientific observations and knowledge, skills learned in foreign countries, and a hatpin to stay alive.

Rayburn's first Veronica Speedwell mystery is an action-packed historical mystery. She captures the best of atmospheric Victorian-era mysteries, introducing two scientists with a love of natural history who are caught in the drama of the period. And, it's those two scientists, adventurers, who bring the story to life with their conflict, banter, and the sexual tension. Veronica is a courageous, strong-willed heroine, more than a match for Stoker, a man with a dark past.

Deanna Raybourn's A Curious Beginning has humor, adventure, drama, and suspense. It's actually a glorious beginning for one of the best books I've read this year.

*****
And, one lucky winner will receive a copy of the book in a giveaway from the publisher. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win A Curious Beginning." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 PM CT.

Deanna Raybourn's website is www.deannaraybourn.com

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. New American Library. 2015. ISBN 9780451476012 (hardcover), 337p.

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


Monday, September 07, 2015

Idyll Threats by Stephanie Gayle

Stephanie Gayle's first Thomas Lynch novel, Idyll Threats, is intense and suspenseful, with a brooding, introspective  hero. It's set in Idyll, Connecticut, a town whose name is ironic and mocking to Thomas Lynch. It's a police procedural with a troubled police chief. And, in reading it, it's essential to remember that this story is set in 1997, ages ago when it comes to social issues.

Thomas Lynch narrates the story of the first murder to occur in years in the small town of Idyll. He recently fled New York City after the shooting death of his partner, becoming police chief. He faces a department that doesn't trust him, a secretary that disapproves of him, and worst of all, he faces his own self-loathing. When a young woman is found shot on the local golf course, he's capable and fully prepared to handle the investigation. But, once he learns more about the victim, he realizes he has to hide his knowledge from his team. Ironically, Lynch ran into the victim just hours before her death, but he can't reveal he saw her. If he tells his investigative team that he saw her, he'll also reveal his own secret. Thomas Lynch is gay, in a community, a work place, and a time where homophobia is common. He could lose what he loves most, his job.

The investigation proceeds as Lynch carefully watches every step he makes, although he despises himself for his weakness on that fatal night, "Risking my career for a stupid fix." How does a police chief guide an investigation while keeping secrets from his officers? And, the whole time he tries to balance the case, his loneliness and secrets, and his troubled conscience about his partner's death. Lynch is a complex, intriguing man who tells his story in a matter-of-fact, candid tone.

Thomas Lynch and his deceased partner kept secrets, and remained silent when they should have spoken. He said their "partnership wouldn't survive that much truth". Lynch has a fear of exposing himself to an unforgiving world. And, now that fear threatens to ruin the resolution of a case, and destroy his career. It's Lynch that makes this an intense story, even more than the search for the murderer. Gayle's Idyll Threats is fascinating because of Thomas Lynch, a man caught in a time period, location, and, as he sees it, in lies.

Stephanie Gayle's website is www.stephaniegayle.com

Idyll Threats by Stephanie Gayle. Seventh Street Books. 2015. ISBN 9781633880788 (paperback), 279p.

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


Sunday, September 06, 2015

The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell

Juliet Blackwell is one of my favorite mystery writers. She brings to life unforgettable characters, and writes intriguing plots. She does the same with her novel,The Paris Key, because Blackwell is a remarkable storyteller.

When Genevieve Martin's marriage falls apart, she returns to the city and life that was her refuge when she was fourteen. She once again heads for Paris and her Uncle Dave's locksmith shop in the Village Saint-Paul. Then, her mother had died and her father sent her there for the summer. Now, her Uncle Dave is dead and her cousin has suggested Genevieve take over the locksmith shop and live in the apartment above it. Genevieve has never been happy or content. Now, she sees Paris as the key to her happiness. Instead, she finds the keys to unlock secrets, to unlock a past she never understood.

Like Genevieve, her mother, Angela, once spent time in the apartment in Paris. Through Genevieve's work, the neighbors, and new acquaintances, Genevieve starts to unlock the stories of her family, stories that have remained secrets. Or, as a new Irish friend says, she's hunting ghosts. And, she's definitely haunted by her past. "It was the living who kept the ghosts alive, carrying them around, whether as protective talismans or as prisms through with to view their lives, or as a stone around their necks set to drag them into the depths." Now, Genevieve has to make a decision whether she'll unlock the past, and discover those secrets, or forever live with her ghosts.

Blackwell weaves together the lives of mother and daughter, told through three visits to Paris. It's a complex storyline, and the reader must pay attention to the voices. The two women are sympathetic characters, both dealing with issues. And, it's a story that could only be set in Paris, a city that comes to life through the eyes of women who respond to its history and life. And, it comes to life through the eyes of an author who obviously loves the city.

Juliet Blackwell still brings mystery to her novel. This time, though, it's the mysteries of life. Locks and secrets, ghosts and Paris. They all come together in Juliet Blackwell's beautiful story of two troubled souls, The Paris Key.

Juliet Blackwell's website is www.julietblackwell.net

The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. New American Library. 2015. ISBN 9780451473691 (paperback),   358p.

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


Saturday, September 05, 2015

What Are You Reading?

This was supposed to be a review of Juliet Blackwell's novel, The Paris Key. Would you believe the
review didn't get written because I spent forty-five minutes looking for a key last night? Talk about irony.

So, TOMORROW, I'll review Juliet's novel, which is not a mystery, although there are mysterious elements. Aren't there always mysterious elements when it comes to life? Like - where's that missing key that I can't find?

In the meantime, what are you reading today? I haven't asked that lately, so why don't we share? I'd love to know what's keeping you busy this weekend.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Winners and a Debut Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Copies of Nancy Herriman's No Comfort for the Lost are heading to opposite coasts. One copy is heading to Kathleen C. in Stockton, CA. The other goes to Candace L. in Brunswick, ME.

This week, I have two copies of a debut mystery to give away, and reviews say readers of Gillian Flynn and Kate Atkinson will like it. The Gates of Evangeline is by Hester Young. Journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte "Charlie" Cates begins to think she's losing her mind when she has vivid dreams about children. And, she soon realizes the dreams are warnings that could help her and the children. After one dream about a little boy in a boat, she's invited to Evangeline, a Louisiana estate. Her dream is entangled with a thirty-year-old missing child case that has haunted the Deveau family, owners of Evangeline. It isn't long before her visions reveal an evil closer than she could have imagined. It's a Southern Gothic debut that combines literary suspense and romance.

If you'd like to win a copy of The Gates of Evangeline, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win The Gates of Evangeline." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

October Treasures in My Closet - Part 3

Today is the third and final Treasures in My Closet post featuring October book releases. It just shows  the variety of books released every month. I hope you found something of interest in one of these three posts!

Do you wonder what Dr. Oz' family eats? His wife, Lisa Oz, now reveals it in The Oz Family Kitchen. It's a collection of more than one hundred simple recipes, with a foreword and healthy eating tips from Mehmet Oz. (Release date is Oct. 6.)







The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen has a fascinating premise. Two brothers are admitted to a Jerusalem hospital with horrific injuries. Their mother, a young American heiress, devoutly recites Psalms, but refuses to answer any questions. When Detective Bina Tzedek investigates, she follows a winding path that takes her through Jerusalem's Old City, kabbalists, mystical ancient texts, and terrifying cult rituals until she finally uncovers the shocking truth. (Release date is Oct. 13.)





Laura Resau's juvenile novel, The Lightning Queen, is set in Mexico in the 1950s. Nothing ever happens on the Hill of Dust in the remote mountains of Mexico. And, then Esma, who calls herself the Gypsy Queen of Lightning rolls into town. And, her caravan's Mistress of Destiny predicts that she and Teo, a young Mixtec Indian boy, will be lifelong friends. (Release date is Oct. 27.)






Well, here's a book that's one of my highlights for the month, Hank Phillippi Ryan's What You See. Reporter Jane Ryland is caught up in a family emergency when a nine-year-old girl, supposed to be a flower girl in a family wedding, is kidnapped by her stepdad. At the same time, Detective Jake Brogan has a strange case. At Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, a man is stabbed to death, and tourists captured the murder on their cell phones. The photos and surveillance video lead Jake to a dark conspiracy. And, the two cases test Jane and Jake's loyalties. (Release date is Oct. 20.)




Steven Saylor brings back Gordianus in Wrath of the Furies. The mystery, set in 88 B.C., finds Gordianus waiting out wars in Alexandria. But, he receives a cryptic message from his former tutor and friend who thinks his life is in danger. To rescue Antipater, Gordianus concocts a daring scheme that will take him behind enemy lines. (Release date is Oct. 13.)







Lisa Scottoline's latest Rosato & DiNunzio novel features Bennie Rosato, the founder of the law firm. In Corrupted, a case from Bennie's past comes back to haunt her. A young boy was sent to juvenile prison. Now, Jason Leftavick is grown, and he's indicted for killing the bully who taunted him as a kid. Bennie sees not choice except to represent him. She feels she owes him for past failures of the law, of the juvenile justice system, and of her own misjudgments. Now that she has to relive the darkest period of her life, she'll do anything in her power to get the truth. (Release date is Oct. 27.)




I always look forward to Jeffrey Siger's mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis. The books capture modern Greece, with all the politics and corruption. Devil of Delphi focuses on an assassin, Kharon, who hopes to rebuild his life in Delphi. But, a ruthless criminal decrees that Kharon must serve the mastermind behind counterfeit beverages that are often laced with poison. But, when Kharon shoots a member of one of Greece's richest, most feared families, he draws Kaldis into a firestorm that threatens to bring down the government. (Release date is Oct. 6.)



Jane Smiley completes her acclaimed American trilogy with Golden Age. Following the success of Some Luck and Early Warning, she now takes the Langdon family into our present time, and beyond. (Release date is Oct. 20.)








Carrie Smith introduces Detective Claire Codelia in her debut mystery, Silent City. Codelia catches a high-profile case while she's still struggling to get back up to speed after returning from her sick leave  when she battled cancer. Now, she's caught up in the world of New York City school politics, investigating the murder of a popular principal of a public school. (Release date is Oct. 13.)





Nine Lives launches a new series by Wendy Corsi Staub. After her husband's death, Bella Jordan and her son need a fresh start. But, on their way to stay with family, a storm forces them to spend the night in Lily Dale, New York. Bella's late husband always talked about settling down in a quirky small town like Lily Dale, a town filled with kooky psychics and mediums. So, Bella agrees to help out when she's asked to step in for the local hotel owner, who recently died. But, the woman was murdered, and now it's up to Bella to track down the killer. (Release date is Oct. 27.)




I'm a sucker for adorable cat stories. Nils Uddenberg's true love story is The Old Man and the Cat. It's Uddenberg's own story of how the retired Professor of Psychology became a cat-owner even though he had never owned a pet. But, he discovered a female cat sitting outside his bedroom window on a winter morning, staring at him. And, slowly she worked her way into his life, and his heart, while he tried to analyze her inner life. (Release date is Oct. 13.)




Jeanette Winterson retells Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, calling it The Gap of Time. Shakespeare's "late play" tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his wife. His daughter is found, and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast. In Winterson's version, we move from London, a city suffering after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. It's a story of the consuming power of jealousy, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child. (Release date is Oct. 6.)




Edited by Kenneth Wishing, Jewish Noir is a collection of new stories by Jewish and non-Jewish literary and genre writers such as March Piercy, S.J. Rozan, Harlan Ellison, Alan Orloff, Moe Prager. The stories explore issues such as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism, and the dark side of the Diaspora. (Release date is Oct. 1.)

I have to admit part 3 is my favorite listing, with some of my favorite authors. What October titles excited you?

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

October Treasures in My Closet - Part 2

Wait until you see the long list of books for part 2. It was actually an arbitrary ending yesterday. I ran out of time. Today's list is a little off because I received a couple books in the mail, and I'm adding them to this list. Let's start with them.

Julia Buckley kicks off a new series with The Big Chili. Lila Drake dreamt for years about owning her own catering company. She's made a small start by discreetly providing covered-dishes to neighbors who don't have time or the skills to cook. Everything's great until someone drops dead at a church bingo night minutes after eating chili that Lilah made for a client. Now, the anonymous chef has to find a killer before her business collapses. (Release date is Oct. 6.)





Carolann Camillo and Phyllis Humphrey take readers into the world of soap operas in Eyewitness. Toni Abbott finally has her big break, playing a soap opera villainess. But, her luck runs out when a photographer is killed during a late-night photo session, and Toni hits her head in the confusion, and can't remember what happened. Apparently the killer thinks Toni might remember, though, because she barely escapes another attempt. Too bad the police believe she might be involved. (Release date is  Oct. 15.)





Who isn't fascinated by Houdini? David Jaher brings us The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World. This account pits the pretty wife of a Boston surgeon, Margery, the nation's most credible spirit medium, against Harry Houdini, the world's greatest unmake of charlatans. The book takes readers back to the 1920s to a time when people yearned for contact with an unseen spirit world. (Release date is Oct. 6.)






The latest Tara Holloway novel is Diane Kelly's Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli. IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway has risked her life to take down drug cartels and other dangerous tax frauds. But, cream-filled cannolis could be hazardous to her waistline when she goes undercover at a bistro in order to take down a crime boss. (Release date is Oct. 6.)







With Schwarzkopf: Life Lessons of the BEAR is Gus Lee's tribute to his mentor, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. In 1966, Lee was on the verge of getting kicked out of West Point. Then he was assigned a new professor, then-Major Norman Schwarzkopf. The two began to meet regularly, discussing what it meant to be a scholar, a soldier, and a man. Now Lee brings Schwarzkopf and his teachings to life as he shares the wisdom his mentor imparted. (Release date is Oct. 13.)





In Devotion, Adam Makos asks "How far would you go to save a friend?" It tells a story from America's "forgotten war" in Korea, that of the U.S. Navy's most famous aviator duo. Lieutenant Tom Hudner was a white New Englander from the country club scene, and Ensign Jesse Brown was an African American sharecropper's son from Mississippi. The two became pilots, and as the war in North Korea escalates, the duo fly to save a Marine unit. And, then,  when one man is shot down, the other faces an unthinkable choice, whether to watch his friend die, or attempt a one-man rescue mission. (Release date is Oct. 27.)



When Alex Mar set out to direct the documentary American Mystic, she learned that almost a million Americans practice Paganism today.Witches of America is the account of her exploration as it delves into the history of Paganism and the occult in America, as she learns about the world of present-day witches and magical societies. (Release date is Oct. 20.)







Bernard Minier, the internationally acclaimed author of The Frozen Dead, brings us a chilling murder mystery set during the World Cup in the south of France, The Circle. In June 2010, Martin Servaz has to investigate two brutal murders, one of a teacher, and the other of a Classics professor. Now, death and chaos is surrounding the small university town in Southern France where Servaz was once a student and where his daughter is now enrolled. With the help of two detectives, Servaz has to find the person behind the gruesome murders. (Release date is Oct. 27.)




Howard Frank Mosher's fiction is set in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, telling the intertwining family God's Kingdom is set in the 1950s, revealing the Kinneson family through the coming of age of the heir to its rich and complicated history, Jim. He's a bright young man, a loving son and brother, but he's also curious about the unspoken "trouble in the family" that haunts his father and grandfather. Layer by layer, Jim explores the family history, ending with a discovery that changes his life forever. (Release date is Oct. 6.)
stories. His




The Mark and the Void is Paul Murray's madcap new novel of institutional folly. Since it's a convoluted synopsis, here's the one from the back of the book. "What links the investment Bank of Torabundo, www.myhotswaitress.com (yes, hots with an s; don't ask), an art heist, a novel called For Love of a Clown, a four-year-old boy named after the TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, an ex-KGB agent?" You'll have to read the book to understand. (Release date is Oct. 20.)





Ben Nadler's novel, The Sea Beach Line, combines mid-20th-century pulp fiction with traditional Jewish tales folklore. It updates the story of a young man trying to find his place in the world, introducing Izzy Edel. After being expelled from college, Izzy returns to New York City, searching for his estranged father. But, when reports are that his father has died, he takes over his father's bookselling business and meets the hustlers and gangsters who filled his world. (Release date is Oct. 13.)

Today's collection was an odd one, wasn't it? But, there are so many books that I'll have to end the list tomorrow. Wait until you see the terrific books in tomorrow's collection!