Monday, November 30, 2015

January Treasures in My Closet

We're already talking about 2016! Are you ready for a sneak peek at some of the books coming out in January? If just the authors whose names begin with B are any indication, 2016 is going to be a fantastic year for books. We're in for reading treats!

Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife, has The Swans of Fifth Avenue. It's a novel about New York's "Swans" of the 1950s, Slim Keith, C.Z. Keith, Gloria Guinness, Pamela Churchill. And, they circle around socialite Babe Paley whose friendship with Truman Capote makes for a scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling story. (Release date is Jan. 26.)






I've heard wonderful comments about Katarina Bivald's The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Broken Wheel, Iowa doesn't know what to do when Sara arrives, coming from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. But, she arrives just when Amy's funeral guests are leaving. Now, the residents look after their bewildered visitor. But, they don't expect her to open a quirky bookstore in the little town. (Release date is Jan. 19.)






I'm sure people are waiting to read Chris Bohjalian's The Guest Room. It's a chilling story about a bachelor party gone horribly wrong, two men dead in a suburban living room, two women on the run from the police, all leading to a marriage ripping apart at the seams, and a man whose happy life turns into a nightmare. (Release date is Jan. 5.)








The Stargazer's Sister by Carrie Brown is a period novel, a nineteenth-century story of female empowerment before its time, based on the life of Caroline Herschel, sister of the great astronomer William Herschel and an astronomer in her own right. William brings his sister to England, where she enjoys a world of music making and stargazing. But, with his announcement that he's going to get married, her world collapses. (Release date is Jan. 19.)






Taylor Brown's debut novel is Fallen Land. It's set in the final years of the Civil War, telling the story of two star-crossed lovers fleeing a ruthless band of bounty hunters from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to Sherman's March through Georgia. (Release date is Jan. 12.)








If Bill Bryson's book is as good as the cover, it will be terrific. The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain traveled around Britain by bus, train and rental car to see what changed in the twenty years since the last time he wrote about the land in Notes from a Small Island. (Release date is Jan. 19.)







Alafair Burke's new standalone novel of suspense is The Ex. Twenty years earlier Olivia Randall ruined Jack Harris' life. Now, when he's been arrested for a triple homicide, she's convinced he's innocent. As one of New York City's best criminal defense lawyers, she agrees to represent him. But, she begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated. (Release date is Jan. 26.)






Joe Gannon was a freelance journalist in Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution, so he brings that expertise to his latest thriller, The Last Dawn. When Gladys Dario, a police lieutenant for the revolutionary Sandinista government in 1986 Nicaragua is kidnapped by a Contra commander, she knows the only hope for escape is with her partner on the police force, former Sandinista guerrilla commandant Ajax Montoya. He rescues her, but he's imprisoned for years, and she's exiled. And, then a young American journalist goes missing in El Salvador, and a powerful senator wants Ajax Montoya and his partner to run that rescue operation. (Release date is Jan. 26.)



I loved Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, so I'm looking forward to Mary Chamberlain's The Dressmaker's War, another historical novel about choices made during World War II. In London, 1939, Ada Vaughan has an unusual dressmaking skill, and dreams of a better life. She's swept off her feet by an Austrian aristocrat who brings her to Paris. But, when war breaks out, he disappears, and she's taken prisoner by the Germans. In order to survive, she becomes dressmaker to the Nazi wives. The choices she makes will come back to haunt her years later. (Release date is Jan. 12.)




Jessica Chiarella asks a difficult question in her debut novel, And Again. "Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance?" Four terminally ill patients are given genetically perfect bodies, exact replicas of their old selves. But, without their old bodies, their new physical identities have no memories. As they try to reenter their previous lives and relationships, they are faced with a question. "How much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart and in your body?" (Release date is Jan. 12.)





River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper is also a debut novel, a sweeping historical epic of poetry and revolution, about the power of language. In thirteenth century Sri Lanka, Asanka is poet to the king, living a life of luxury. But when a usurper take the throne, Asanka's role dramatically changes. The cruel, calculating king still loves poetry, and commissions Asanka to translate a holy Sanskrit epic into the language spoken by recently acquired subjects. But, meaning can be altered in different languages, and Asanka's version of the epic, about the killing of an unjust ruler, inspires and arouses the oppressed people. (Release date is Jan. 26.)


An editor with a New York publishing company is totally out of her element in Shelley Costa's Practical Sins for Cold Climates. Val Cameron is sent to the Canadian Northwoods to sign a reclusive bestselling author to a contract. First she has to find him. And, then she has to clear him of murder charges. (Release date is Jan. 26.)







With A Prisoner in Malta, Edgar Award winner Phillip DePoy launches a new series featuring Christopher Marlowe, playwright, student, spy. In 1583, the nineteen-year-old Marlowe, with a reputation as a brawler, a womanizer, a genius and a social upstart at Cambridge, is charged by the Queen's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to track down the truth about a growing plot against Queen Elizabeth. The path to that truth seems to run through a prisoner held in complete seclusion in a heavily guarded dungeon in Malta. Marlowe must unravel one of the greatest mysteries in history and help uncover a scheme of assassination and invasion. (Release date is Jan. 26.)


John Donvan and Caren Zucker join forces for a book that combines history, activism, and heartbreaking stories. In a Different Key: The Story of Autism tells the story of this often misunderstood conditions, diagnosed first seventy-five years ago. It's a story of civil rights battles and ordinary people, families and history. (Release date is Jan. 19.)







American Housewife is a collection of stories by Helen Ellis. The back cover blurb says, "A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity". It's an "uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood". (Release date is Jan. 12.)








Scott Frank's debut novel is Shaker. Meet Roy Cooper, an "errand runner" for various New York criminals, sent to L.A. to shoot a man a week after an earthquake hit, leaving the city in chaos. He does his job, but, in wandering the streets afterward, looking for his car, he comes across a jogger being beaten by four young gangbangers. Although he tries to avoid it, he's caught up in the middle of the situation, and he's mistaken for a hero when a video goes viral. Now what? (Release date is Jan. 26.)





It's not easy to summarize Jason Gurley's novel, Eleanor. Identical twins Eleanor and Esmerelda are inseparable until a terrible accident claims Esme's life. Eleanor's family is left in tatters. Years later, Eleanor's reality begins to unravel, as time and again, she falls out of her reality into other ones. One day, she's torn from her reality altogether, and meets a mysterious stranger who reveals the weight of her family's loss. Esmerelda's death was not the only tragedy in her family's history, and, unless Eleanor can master her extraordinary new abilities, it may not be the last. (Release date is Jan. 12.)




The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth looks like it will be a moving novel. At thirty-nine, Anna Forster has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. She decides to move into residential care facility. There's only one other person her own age there, Luke, and, unexpectedly their relationship turns to love. And, the time comes when Anna's family separates them. What happens when one woman, moved by their relationship, thinks they should be together? (Release date is Jan. 19.)





There's already a lot of buzz about Gregg Hurwitz' Orphan X. Evan Smoak, once known as Orphan X, was trained as part of the U.S. government's secret program of covert operation of assassins, the Orphan Program. Smoak broke with the program, and used everything he knew to disappear. Now, as the secretive Nowhere Man, he helps the desperate and deserving. But, someone has discovered his secret, someone who will exploit his secrets to eliminate him. (Release date is Jan. 19.)

It's a fantastic first day of January book releases, isn't it? And, there will be more coming tomorrow. Is there something here that excites you? What are you anticipating?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

High Stakes by Carolyn Hart

When Carolyn Hart discovered a forgotten manuscript, she also discovered an atmosphere of the past. High Stakes will remind readers of the romantic suspense novels that were so popular in the 1970s.

Aspiring actress Kirsten Soderstrom fears she may have to return home to Minnesota as a failure. But, just in time she sees a want ad that offers excellent pay for a blonde actress. She's a little doubtful, and she never expects to get the job when she sees the long line of blondes waiting for a try-out. And, she's even more dubious when she's hired for a job that will last a couple weeks, but she's required to work twenty-four hours a day. When she demands answers, she's told it's a sting operation. The FBI knows a U.S. Senator is a crook, and they want her to help to bring him down.

Kirsten learned to be honest from a man she always admired, her father. And, she was willing to help her country, to trap a dishonest politician. It doesn't take long, though, for Kirsten to lose her heart to a man she's supposed to distrust. But, the more Kirsten learns, the more uncertain she is about the plan. And, when the plot goes wrong, it's Kirsten who is trouble, risking not only her heart, but also her life as she becomes the target for everyone from the CIA to Russians.

In Hart's High Stakes, she allows readers to see viewpoints from both protagonists, which works well for a romantic suspense novel driven by a conspiracy. Who's behind the plot? It's a storyline that keeps the characters, and the reader, guessing until the last minute.

Miss those romantic novels of the '70s? You might want to bring back memories of the past with High Stakes.

Carolyn Hart's website is www.carolynhart.com

High Stakes by Carolyn Hart. Oconee Spirit Press. 2015. ISBN 9780985910785 (paperback), 181p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The author, and the publisher, sent me copies of the book.




Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

I always look forward to Melody Carlson's annual Christmas novel. They're a little bit inspirational, a little light. There's usually a little romance. And, there's always the Christmas spirit expected this time of year. In fact, The Christmas Joy Ride has more of that Christmas spirit than usual.

Miranda Farmer is amazed that her eighty-six-year-old neighbor, Joy Jorgenson, is planning a major road trip in her RV. But, Joy sold her house in Chicago, and she's moving to Phoenix to be with her sons. And, she has one last chance to share some "Christmas Joy" before her move. Joy loves Christmas, and she ran a contest on her blog, "Christmas Joy". Now, she's taking her RV along Route 66, delivering Christmas to deserving people who wrote to her blog, saying they needed some Christmas joy.

And, maybe it's Miranda who needs that Christmas joy the most. At thirty-seven, she's divorced, unemployed, childless, and about to be homeless because the bank is foreclosing on her house. It's with a little trepidation that Miranda accepts Joy's invitation to ride along. But, she's just like Joy's Christmas recipients, "regular folks who've fallen onto hard times".

There's never quite enough character development in Carlson's short novels, but, in the case of Joy and Miranda, the reader does get to understand them. However, there certainly is a lack of development with one of the characters at the final destination on the trip. Even so, Carlson, through the character of Joy, succeeds with this year's message. "The spirit of Santa is real. It's the spirit of love and giving, and I like to think that it's symbolic of God's love and generosity."

Ready for a holiday road trip with some sentimentality? Buckle up with Joy and Miranda for Melody Carlson's The Christmas Joy Ride.

Melody Carlson's website is www.melodycarlson.com

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson. Revell. 2015. ISBN 9780800719678 (hardcover), 168p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Friday, November 27, 2015

Christmas Mystery Giveaway

Now, are you ready for Christmas mysteries since Thanksgiving is over? You can enter to win two that were released this month. If you win, you can keep the book, or give it as a gift. Better yet, read it carefully, and THEN give it as a gift. (Well, not really. If I want it that badly, I usually buy two copies, one for myself, and one to give away.)

Away in a Manger is Rhys Bowen's latest Molly Murphy mystery. It's Christmastime in 1905 New York City, and Molly Murphy Sullivan is looking forward to the holidays. As Molly and her son and ward listen to carolers in the street, they see a beggar girl huddled in a doorway singing "Away in a Manger". When they give her a quarter, they see a bigger boy take it from her. But, appearances are deceiving. He's her older brother. They've come from England, and their mother has disappeared. Molly's questions leads her into an investigation that goes up to the highest levels of New York society.




Or, you could win Sally Goldenbaum's Seaside Knitters mystery, Trimmed with Murder. Izzy Chambers Perry and the other Seaside Knitters are knitting tiny ornaments to decorate a tree for the first annual tree-trimming contest in Sea Harbor. And, they're even happier when Izzy's younger brother, Charlie, arrives to volunteer at a local clinic, bringing a hitchhiker with him, a young woman returning to claim her inheritance. When she's found dead, Charlie is the suspect. The Seaside Knitters will have to find a killer to restore joy to the season.

Which Christmas 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 Away in a Manger" or "Win Trimmed with Murder." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Dec. 3 at 6 PM CT.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving



I have so much to be thankful for in 2015. But, it all starts with family, and the time I was lucky enough to spend with them this year. The trip to New York City with Mom and my sisters is one I'll never forget. I made a trip home in August, had lunch with Linda on the way to Mom's, and then had a nice week with Mom and Christie's family at the fair where her daughter shows her Pygmy goats. And, now I'm spending Thanksgiving weekend with Mom and Linda's family. I'm so thankful that we all enjoy each other's company, and can enjoy laughing together.

I'm lucky I was able to travel this year. I went to New York City three times, and saw so many Broadway shows. You all know I'm passionate about theatre. And, if it's a favorite show, I may see it a couple times. (Well, OK, I saw Les Miserables four times in the last year, all with Ramin Karminloo in the lead.) I'm grateful that I was able to make those trips, and attend shows while I was there.


I went to St. Louis a couple times with my friend, Donna. And, I FINALLY met Kaye Wilkinson Barley! She and I have been online friends for what seems like forever. We were roommates at Bouchercon in Raleigh, with plans to do it again in New Orleans. I'm grateful for wonderful friends, including Chantelle and Jamie and Anna. And, all of you who are online friends are blessings as well.

And, how can I not include the cats in my blessings? They're warm and cuddly, and they give so much for so little. Food, and a warm place to sleep.

And, I'm grateful for co-workers I enjoy, a supervisor who is wonderful, and high hopes for the new director in January. After forty-two years in libraries, it's still great to work here.

And, of course, what would this blog be without saying I'm grateful for books and authors and publishers and publicists and friends who love books and mysteries and attend conferences?



I'm just grateful I have the life I do, working in a public library, surrounded by books, with a loving family, great friends, warm cats, and the chance to travel. It doesn't get much better than this.

Whether you're hitting the road to spend time with family and friends, hosting them, or spending it alone in the comfort of your own home, I hope you find a moment or two to count your blessings. And, I hope you have at least one person in your life to share those blessings, because that person may be the most important gift.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells

It's probably the best recommendation I can give women's fiction; recommended to my mother. I think she'll appreciate Robin Wells' epic novel, The Wedding Tree.

At 91, Adelaide McCauley is ready to die when she finds herself looking down from the ceiling in her hospital room. However, her mother tells her she can't cross over until she reveals family secrets to her granddaughter, Hope. Hope is in the room with her Uncle Eddie and his partner, Ralph, when they're all told Adelaide can't live at home by herself. It's then that Hope jumps in to offer assistance.

Hope really has no place to go after her short-lived marriage broke up, leaving her penniless and without a job. A short stay at her grandmother's in Wedding Tree, Louisiana might be just what she needs as she helps Gran clean out her possessions before she moves to California with Eddie. It will turn out to be a time of discovery for both women. But, Hope had no idea a little girl would crawl through the doggy door and discover her trying on Gran's dressing gown. What is even more embarrassing is when Sophie's father, Matt, comes looking for his daughter, and sees her as well.

Adelaide, Hope and Matt all serve as narrators for this compelling, sometimes heart wrenching story. It's Adelaide's story, though, that truly is moving and bittersweet. As she drifts into the past, she takes the reader to World War II New Orleans, where she's living her dream, working as a photographer for a newspaper. And, it's there she falls in love. But, the war, parental pressure, and contemporary standards force her to leave everything behind and return to Wedding Tree. And, it's in Wedding Tree that she hides a secret that will forever haunt her.

The Wedding Tree is a multigenerational romance featuring two spirited women. But, it's Adelaide who will break your heart, the woman who lived at a time when women were expected to stay home, raise children, and not work outside the house. Fortunately, all three narrators do find unexpected ways to achieve their dreams in this enjoyable novel.

Robin Wells' website is www.robinwells.com

The Wedding Tree by Robin Wells. Berkley. 2015. ISBN 9780425282359 (paperback), 432p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received this book from a review journal.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Winners

Just a note as to winners of the last contest. Bonnie P. from Palo Alto, CA won Isabella Alan's Murder, Served Simply. Rita R. of Searcy, AR won Death with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette. I'm mailing the books today.

Stop back on Friday for another Christmas mystery giveaway!

Book Chat - Penguin's December Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian Cozies

Jinx is back! Somewhere in the middle of the book chat, you'll see Jinx. I know people missed him.




Here are the book titles I discussed this month, the December releases from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian.

Here Today, Gone Tamale - Rebecca Adler (1st Taste of Texas Mystery)
Give Up the Ghost - Juliet Blackwell (6th Haunted Home Renovation Mystery)
Guilty as Cinnamon - Leslie Budewitz (2nd Spice Shop Mystery)
Murder at Whitehall - Amanda Carmack (4th Elizabethan Mystery)
Pouncing on Murder - Laurie Cass (4th Bookmobile Cat Mystery)
Scorched Eggs - Laura Childs (6th Cackleberry Club Mystery, 1st time in paperback)
Fat Tuesday Fricassee - J.J. Cook (3rd Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery)
Ghost in the Wind - E.J. Copperman (7th Haunted Guesthouse Mystery)
Dead to the Last Drop - Cleo Coyle (15th Coffeehouse Mystery, hardcover)
Murder Most Howl - Krista Davis (3rd Paws & Claws Mystery)
The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle - Laura DiSilverio (2nd Book Club Mystery)
The Iced Princess - Christine Husom (2nd Snow Globe Shop Mystery)
Suspicion at Seven - Ann Purser (14th Lois Meade Mystery)
To Brew or Not to Brew - Joyce Tremel (1st Brewing Trouble Mystery)

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman

Doors. I'm fascinated by pictures of doors and windows. They always suggest possibilities to me. What's behind those doors and windows? So, I was immediately sucked into Brian Grazer's comments about curiosity in the book he co-authored with Charles Fishman. In the introduction to A Curious Mind, he says, "For me, curiosity infuses everything with a sense of possibility. Curiosity has, quite literally, been the key to my success, and also the key to my happiness."

Brian Grazer is the producer of A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Splash, and J. Edgar, among other movies, with his business partner, director Ron Howard. For his entire life, Grazer has been curious, a trait encouraged by his grandmother. He used that curiosity to get his first job in movies, to meet some of the biggest names in the film industry, and, then to branch out to have "curiosity conversations" with innumerable people from Dr. Jonas Salk to Senator Barack Obama to Princess Diana and Michael Jackson. Although the book touches on some of those conversations, Grazer's purpose is actually to discuss curiosity itself.

Grazer challenges readers to ask questions. 'The ability to ask any questions embodies two things: the freedom to go chase the answers, and the ability to challenge authority, to ask, "How come you're in charge?"' And, he reminds us there are countries where people are imprisoned for answering questions. He says, "Curiosity is itself a form of power, and also a form of courage." And, he discusses all those institutions where innovation and creativity is encouraged. But, who is encouraging curiosity, essential to both of the other traits?

And, those curiosity conversations? He calls that emotional curiosity. He wants to know what makes people tick.  When Grazer relates anecdotes about his workplace, and his methods of questioning staff, he includes suggestions for supervisors trying to learn what makes their staff tick.

A Curious Mind is a fascinating book. It's a peek inside Grazer's own mind, as well as an investigation of curiosity itself. And, despite the fact that the book isn't about the curiosity conversations themselves, the list of people Grazer met with is awe-inspiring. The man, the producer, who sees his work as storytelling, succeeds in telling his own story as an example of curiosity in work. If you're curious about curiosity and its possibilities, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life is an excellent choice.

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Glazer and Charles Fishman. Simon & Schuster. 2015. ISBN 9781476730752 (hardcover), 300p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Note from Lynn

My friend, Lynn Kaczmarek, stopped by with a note that's perfect for the season, and this weekend. I hope you enjoy hearing from her occasionally.

*****

I’ve been thinking a lot about books lately. Perhaps it’s the need to bury myself in something so I don’t think about how wrong things have gone in the world. I read mysteries/crime fiction/thrillers almost exclusively – it’s the structure, the knowing that bad things will happen, but resolution will be achieved. And there are some wonderful books being written these days.

My recent reading has included Lake House by Kate Morton, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, Elizabeth George’s new book A Banquet of Consequences and Louise Penny’s newest, The Nature of the Beast. All are wonderful examples of fine writing, fine characters, fine plots. But Penny’s books are something more – they are filled with horrible things couched in poetry. And as a result they are even more frightening. But always, thankfully, they provide hope… sometimes only a glimmer, but hope nonetheless. And for that I am eternally thankful.


And with Thanksgiving soon approaching, I find I am ever more thankful for books. For those that provide hope; for those that expand the curious mind and for those that keep the dark world at bay. May you too have something or someone in your life for which to be thankful. As for me, I’m off to read something remarkable on this dark, dreary, cold Wisconsin day.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

I kept expecting the grand reveal in All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke. They had certainly gathered the suspects together as in any Agatha Christie mystery. It just shows how clever the book is that they even managed to switch up the traditional ending.

Laurie Moran, producer of Under Suspicion, a true crime-based news special focusing on cold cases, is about to make her latest pitch to her boss when Sandra Pierce insists on seeing her. Five years earlier, when Laurie was dealing with the greatest tragedy of her own life, Sandra's daughter disappeared. Because of Moran's own problems, she never knew the story of "the Runaway Bride". On the eve of her wedding at the Grand Victoria Hotel in Palm Beach, Amanda Pierce vanished. While Sandra's ex-husband, Walter, clung to the belief their daughter was out there somewhere, Sandra was convinced someone took her. Now, she wants Laurie's team to investigate the unsolved case for Under Suspicion.

It may not be easy to gather the entire wedding party together, but Laurie's secret weapon is the host of the show, trial commentator and lawyer Alex Buckley. Together with her team, they're able to bring everyone back to the Grand Victoria to re-enact the set-up. With a little pressure, someone "Under Suspicion" might reveal the truth.

The second mystery in the Under Suspicion series continues to examine cold cases. It's a clever premise. The authors use multiple viewpoints to tell the story, which works perfectly for the scenario of a television show re-enacting unsolved crimes. And, despite the large casts, the characters are still unique enough to stand apart so the reader can keep the suspects in mind. Laurie Moran's supporting team from her professional and personal lives are deftly woven into the storyline. And, these storylines do read as if they were scenarios for a reality show.

If you're a fan of cold cases, as I am, All Dressed in White, and the earlier book, The Cinderella Murder, are fast-paced, compelling stories.

Mary Higgins Clark's website is www.maryhigginsclark.com

Alafair Burke's website is www.alafairburke.com

All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke. Simon & Schuster. 2015. ISBN 9781501108556 (hardcover), 271p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Friday, November 20, 2015

Winners and a Christmas Mystery Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the Ashton Lee two-packs of Cherry Cola Book Club books. I'm mailing the books to Jeannette M. from Ventura, CA, and Linda R. of Dickinson, TX.

'Tis the season to give away Christmas books so they'll arrive in December. This week, I have two mysteries. Lucy Burdette's Death with All the Trimmings is set in Key West, so it's definitely not the typical Christmas setting. Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine has a busy holiday schedule. She interviews the chef-owner of the hottest new restaurant just before it's set on fire and a body is discovered. The owner had revealed someone was sabotaging her kitchen. Now, amid holiday festivities and visiting relatives, Hayley tries to find an arsonist and a killer.



Isabella Alan's Murder, Served Simply is an Amish Quilt Shop mystery. Quilt shop owner Angie Braddock has a lot on her plate this Christmas. Her parents are visiting, but, unfortunately so is her ex. Angie's preparing her store for the town's traditional progressive dinner, which features a sleigh ride that stops at each shop for a different course of the meal. The meal ends with an Amish-themed Christmas play, but when an actress falls to her death, and the sheriff suspects fall play, tension heats up in the community. Angie and her quilting circle must stitch together clues before the holiday is ruined.

Which Christmas 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 Death with All the Trimmings" or "Win Murder, Served Simply." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

And, VERY IMPORTANT! This giveaway ends Tuesday, November 24 at 6 PM CT. It's a short contest so I can get the books out in the mail on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What Are You Reading?

Let's talk. What are you reading today? I'm halfway through All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke. I'm a sucker for mysteries involving cold cases, which is why I'm reading the second in the series featuring television producer Laurie Moran. This time, for Under Suspicion, Moran's team looks into a case from five years earlier when a bride disappeared on the eve of her wedding. At the time, the media downplayed it, and ridiculed her, calling her "The Runaway Bride". But, how many runaway brides disappear and are not heard of for five years? I'm just getting into the investigation part of the story as they film the show. As I said, I love cold cases.


So, what book are you reading right now? Is there something you're halfway through? Let's talk.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Lesson in Hope by Philip Gulley

Only Philip Gulley can put a pastor in the kind of predicaments faced by Sam Gardner.  Whether it's family or the members of his meeting, they find ways to confound poor Sam. Gulley's novels about the Quaker pastor are funny, touching, and warm. There's always something Sam, and, by extension, the reader, can learn about life and people, as in the latest book, A Lesson in Hope.

Sam Gardner had only been pastor of Hope Friends Meeting in Indiana for four months when Olive Charles dies. To everyone's amazement, she leaves her entire estate to the Quaker meeting, including her house, a car, and over $800,000. While Sam has dreams, "a fantastical illusion that he might get a raise", his meeting also has ideas. There's talk of a new roof, a new fellowship hall, a new vanity in the women's restroom, a new stove. And, then all that talk turns to squabbles. Maybe the insurance company would pay for the roof if there was hail damage. Who gets the car? Should they negotiate with Olive's niece, who is threatening to sue?

Can it get worse? Of course it can. In just a few days, Sam has to deal with "a hospitalized parishioner, a case of Alzheimer's, and a possible divorce." And, Sam's life continues to go downhill when Thanksgiving rolls around with a visit and surprise announcement from his parents. There are moments when Sam wonders if he made the right move to Hope, despite the pie committee.

Does every meeting and parish have squabbles and eccentric characters? Who knows? But, Philip Gulley always succeeds with stories that incorporate an interesting cast, humor, including some laugh aloud moments, and a lesson about hope, faith and fellowship. A Lesson in Hope is another charming story about a man who continues to be puzzled, and amazed, by people and life.

Philip Gulley's website is www.philipgulley.com

A Lesson in Hope by Philip Gulley. Center Street. 2015. ISBN 9781455519842 (hardcover), 260p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Puffin of Death by Betty Webb

It's obvious that Betty Webb fell in love with Iceland when she was researching her latest Gunn Zoo mystery. The Puffin of Death is an atmospheric story, rich with the details of Icelandic scenery, customs and people. When a group of eccentric tourists from Arizona arrive in the country, with too much history amongst them, Iceland becomes the setting for murder.

And, it's poor Theodora "Teddy" Bentley, the zookeeper, who gets caught up in the messy, unlikely murder investigation. Teddy is sent to Iceland to pick up a polar bear cub, two Icelandic foxes, and a pair of puffins for the Gunn Zoo. But it will take time to learn to take care of them, so she has time to do some sightseeing. However, she didn't mean to catch sight of a body, a body she recognized from the airport. The victim was part of an American birding group, but he was also the winner of the largest Powerball lottery in history. And, it seems all kinds of people might have wanted him dead, including the boyfriend of Teddy's roommate in Iceland. Despite Inspector Thorvald Haraldsson's insistence that Teddy leave the investigation to the professionals, when Bryndis, her fellow zookeeper, asks her to help her boyfriend, Teddy reluctantly agrees. Well, she knows more about Americans than the Icelandic police, doesn't she?

The Puffin of Death continues the adventures of the spirited zookeeper. But, Teddy acknowledges her own weaknesses. She isn't perfect, and knows she makes mistakes at times. She certainly isn't good at making up stories about her own past, and some of the shrewd birders see right through her. And, she certainly intends to keep Inspector Haraldsson in the loop. Is it her fault she's always in the wrong place at the right time, where she hears a few more stories, and puts together some clues? And, if Iceland itself hadn't conspired against her, she would have told Haraldsson what she discovered.

Webb's latest, The Puffin of Death, is amusing at times with a rich cast of odd characters, including Bryndis, her boyfriend, Ragnar, and all of the Arizona birders. While the story intensifies, it's the country itself that dominates the story. The accounts of the Icelandic animals and birds may encourage readers to pack for a trip. The Puffin of Death is a perfect mystery for readers who enjoy armchair travel, with its vivid, loving descriptions of Iceland.

Betty Webb's website is www.bettywebb-mystery.com

The Puffin of Death by Betty Webb. Poisoned Pen Press. 2015. ISBN9781464204142 (hardcover), 243p.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Haunted Season by G.M. Malliet

I'm a fan of all of G.M. Malliet's Max Tudor mysteries. It's a treat to read about an M15 agent turned vicar, living in a small English village. Even in a village, Max Tudor, like Miss Marple before him, discovers that people can kill. And, this time, Malliet, like Christie at times, has an impressive, unexpected ending. The Haunted Season may be the Agatha Award-winning author's best book yet.

Lord and Lady Baaden-Boomethistle and their family are in residence at Totleigh Hall, and the villagers of Nether Monkslip are always interested in the comings-and-goings at the manor house. Even the vicar is impressed when he stops by the house to ask if they can use the grounds for the annual duck race. But, that's about the last pleasant scene at the manor before a terrible murder occurs. And, now, the villagers have quite a bit to talk about when it comes to the family.

Max can be forgiven for not being on top of his game. He's still fascinated with his new wife and infant son, spending as much time as he can with them. But, when DCI Cotton asks for his help with the murder investigation, he immediately agrees. He only worries a little about the bishop's thoughts on the subject of another murder case involving the vicar.

Malliet is skilled at drawing the reader into the case, as Max Tudor observes and talks with suspects. The small English villages, seem to be unexpected, but perfect, settings for murder. And, the settings, from manors to woods, are beautifully describe.

Distracted by his wife and baby, worried about a parishioner who seems a little too obsessed with him, concerned with the mysterious face on the wall in the church, Max almost misses connections in the latest case. But, Malliet doesn't miss a trick as she cleverly puts all the pieces together in her latest puzzle. The Haunted Season, with its clever killer, twisted plot, and stunning conclusion, is G.M. Malliet at her best.

G.M. Malliet's website is www.gmmalliet.com

The Haunted Season by G.M. Malliet. Minotaur Books. 2015. ISBN 9781250021441 (hardcover), 286p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We Were Brothers by Barry Moser

If brothers can have such animosity that they fail to actually discuss their differences until they're in their sixties, it's no wonder countries and people worldwide can't find common ground. Barry Moser addresses the first issue, that of brothers, in his memoir, We Were Brothers.

Artist and illustrator Barry Moser was born in the same Jim Crow South in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as his older brother, Tommy. They were only three years apart, but Tommy stayed in the south, while Barry went to New England. They both lived with the same racist culture, one in which their mother's childhood friend, Verneta, was not welcomed at the front door when company was in the house, until the night the Ku Klux Klan paraded through town. This story of a family, a neighborhood, and two brothers asks a question that puzzles Moser to this day. Why did he leave the south, especially to escape its racism, while his older brother stayed, expressing racist comments until Barry had the temerity to call him on it?

Moser traces it back to feelings of inferiority in his family. They grew up racist. The boys were both poor students in school, bullied there and later in military school. Was racism a way for men who felt inferior, who feared for their status, to feel better about themselves? Barry Moser says they grew up racist, taught that black folks were never as good as them, although his mother wouldn't have survived the death of her first husband if it hadn't been for Verneta. He admitted they were brought up to respect an individual black person. "But as far as our family was concerned the black race was show, shiftless, and ignorant."

Barry Moser admits his memoir is based on his memories. His brother is gone, dead of cancer, and his memories might have been different. But, in examining the animosity between the two, and their feelings about race, he searches for answers. How could two brothers, growing up in the same environment, grow so apart?

We Were Brothers is a thoughtful book. It's actually a collection of vignettes, small episodes in the lives of two brothers. But, the writing is enhanced by beautiful sketches by Moser, portraits of the family members in the book. Maybe men who are brothers won't be surprised at the occasional viciousness of the fights between Barry and Tommy. It struck me as sad. And, in the context of world events, although the two brothers reunited before Tommy's death, the book doesn't elicit a great deal of hope. Maybe people can unite, but there were years and years of hatred, viciousness and fights before they find common ground.

We Were Brothers by Barry Moser. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2015. ISBN 9781616204136 (hardcover), 186p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch

I hadn't read any of the previous Charles Lenox mysteries by Charles Finch. Now that I've read his ninth, Home by Nightfall, I regret missing the the previous books. At the same time, Finch makes it remarkably easy to pick up the series at this point. It's an intriguing story, combining family, two mystery cases, and a leisurely-paced country investigation by a "gentleman sleuth" and his brother.

Ten months earlier, Charles Lenox, having left Parliament, started the first detective agency in England. It was touch-and-go for a while, but his life, both professional and personal, is very satisfying. The agency is doing well enough to employ a larger staff. Lenox loves his wife and is ga-ga over his daughter. All of London is buzzing about the disappearance of a German pianist, and Lenox is as fascinated as everyone else. His older brother's suffering is the only painful aspect of Lenox' life. Sir Edmund Lenox lost his wife only five weeks earlier, and the grieving widower is wasting away, with his two grown sons out of the country.

Despite Lenox' fascination with the strange disappearance of Muller from the theatre, he knows how important it is to spend time with his brother. And, the trip to the family estate in the country proves to offer its own mystery. First, a frightened insurance agent tells a story of a missing bottle of sherry, a face at a window, and a drawing of a young girl. Then, an attempted murder draws both brothers into the investigation, into a case involving village secrets.

Set in 1876, Finch's mystery is a leisurely paced, detailed, carefully developed story. It's a quiet story, with historical overtones. Although there are criminal investigations, involving serious issues, Finch's book also has moments of humor. Best of all, it has a strong emphasis on family with two caring brothers, sympathetic characters, at a time period when men didn't express their affection for each other. The family elements add warmth to characters who could have come across as stuffy with the standards of the time.

Home by Nightfall is anything but stuffy. It's a carefully developed story with a strong sense of time and place. Historical details, such as the background of the Riot Acts, add to the pleasure of this book. And, Finch, with the character of Charles Lenox, makes an important discovery about parents and family. "While one's parents were alive, if they were decent parents, one was always at least in some small part of one's self protected from life, from fear, from reality." Home by Nightfall, most of all, is a story about family.

Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch. Minotaur Books. 2015. ISBN 9781250070418 (hardcover), 304p.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

Winners and An Ashton Lee Autographed Book Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the autographed copies of Flipped for Murder by Maddie Day. They're going to: Teresa G. of Burlington, NC; Dorothy M. of Bothell, WA; Sandy O. from Milford, OH; and Mona B. of Fort Worth, TX. The books are going out in the mail tomorrow.

I'm kicking off Christmas book giveaways with a two-pack, books in the Cherry Cola Book Club series. Enter to win the books to give as presents, or for yourself. Or, give them to your favorite librarian because Ashton Lee's books feature Maura Beth Mayhew, the librarian in Cherico, Mississippi. The books are all autographed. Two winners will win copies of The Wedding Circle and A Cherry Cola Christmas. If you haven't read the books, they take place in a small town, and they involve the politics and people of that town, often in relationship to the library. The Wedding Circle, naturally, involves Maura Beth's wedding, but also plans for the new public library.

There is trouble in Cherico in A Cherry Cola Christmas. The town's suffering through an economic downturn. Librarian Maura Beth turns to the Cherry Cola Book Club, asking everyone to come with uplifting stories, suitable for the holidays. Amidst a time of worry and grief, there are stories of hope and joy to lift up the community.

If you'd like to win an autographed set of these books, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read, "Win Cherry Cola Books." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, November 19 at 6 PM CT.



Ashton Lee signing the books

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

Our library classified Laura Anne Gilman's Silver on the Road as science fiction. Make no mistake about it. This intense novel launches a compelling epic fantasy series, a series that could be called a fantasy western. In fact, this is book one in The Devil's West series. It's an atmospheric, wonderful beginning.

It's the early 1800's in an alternate North America, divided partially into The United States to the east, the Spanish Protectorate to the southwest, the Northern Wilds, and in between, the Territory, where the boss, the devil, has power. It's there that sixteen-year-old Izzy grew up in the saloon in Flood, indentured until the age of womanhood, sixteen. Now, she can make a choice as to what she wants to do with her life, and where she wants to go. Izzy wants power and respect, to play a role in the Territory. So, she signs a contract with the boss to become the Devil's Left Hand, Isobel nee Lacoya Tavora of Flood, The Devil's Hand. And, she becomes a rider in the Territory, with Gabriel Kasun as her mentor, a man who also makes a pact with the boss to turn the girl-child into a rider, and prepare her. The Devil's Hand; "It is the strength of the Territory, the quick knife in the darkness, the cold eye and the final word."

Isobel and Gabriel travel the road in the Territory, riding horses with a pack mule carrying supplies. The mysterious Gabriel is careful to teach Isobel the rules of the road and the Territory; the dangers at crossroads, caution with strangers, to respect the natives, to run from magicians. But, neither are prepared to find entire settlements empty or people dead of disease. Magicians and demons are the least of their worries, as snakes and dreams warn them of the dangers ahead. Isobel will be forced to serve as The Devil's Hand in the Territory before she's ready.

Laura Anne Gilman has successfully built a realistic world in Silver on the Road. It's an atmospheric novel, dark, but not bleak. However, it isn't long after Isobel and Gabriel leave Flood that they feel a sense of menace, a threat to the Territory. The two complex characters are perfect heroes to face the threat, brooding, introspective people who ponder their roles and the boss' purpose in dealing with them.

Silver on the Road is a brilliant western fantasy. It successfully launches an intricately plotted, riveting series.

Laura Anne Gilman's website is www.lauraannegilman.net

Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman. SAGA Press. 2015. ISBN 9781481429689 (hardcover), 382p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What Are You Reading?

I had a fun evening last night with Ashton Lee, author of the Cherry Cola Book Club books as guest speaker at our Red Bank Branch Library, followed by dinner. That meant a night away from my book, though, so I didn't have time to finish it.

I'm reading a terrific western fantasy. Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman is the first in a proposed trilogy. It's set in the early 1800s in an alternate North America, divided into sections. There's the United States, a country that ends just west of Illinois. There's the Spanish Protectorate, much of the Southwest. And, in between is the Territory, the Devil's land. It's a place said to be overrun by magic, magicians and monsters. But, Isobel calls in home. When she's sixteen, she is given a choice. Her choice is to become the Territory's Left Hand, taking to the road, accompanied by a mentor named Gabriel, who will teach her the dangers of the road, as well as the stories of the people and laws of the Territory. (Love this book!)

What are reading? Have you headed into the past or the future? Is it this world or another one? I'd love to know what book has caught your attention.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Hidden by Heather Graham

Heather Graham continues her riveting Krewe of Hunters series with The Hidden. Although the book has some of the same characters asThe Forgotten, readers who have read the previous book can pick this one up. It can stand alone. But, why wouldn't you want to go back and meet the elite FBI agents, the men and women of the Krewe of Hunters?

Scarlet Barlow is one woman who ran from one of those FBI agents. After her divorce from Diego McCullough, she headed to Colorado. There, she's using her knowledge as a historian and archaeologist to tell the stories of the Conway Ranch. The ranch was once owned by Nathan Kendall and his wife, right after the Civil War, and the two were murdered there. Now, Kendalls are once again running the ranch, with Scarlet as their historian in residence. But, Scarlet's accidental pictures of two murder victims, and the discovery of two victims who appear to resemble those pictures, puts her under suspicion. Her call to Diego for help is timely, because she seems to attract ghosts of murder victims, all members of the Kendall family.

The Krewe of Hunters was formed by Adam Harrison. It's an elite group of FBI agents whose purpose is to investigate when strange and otherworldly elements are linked to a crime. They operate independently, so Scarlet's call for help brings Diego, and an entire team, to Estes Park, Colorado. The beauty of the area is matched only by the evil plans of a killer.

Once again, Heather Graham manages to tie together the paranormal, history, suspense, and romance. The Krewe of Hunters books are particularly appealing because of that combination of paranormal and history. It seems logical for the two elements to blend. Graham says, "History isn't so much a list of dates and times as it is the tales of those who came before us, their failures and their triumphs, and their place in the time that led us to our world today." The author uses that history beautifully,  along with the stories of people who made that history.

The Hidden is a compelling story for those of us who appreciate how history comes alive through the people and their lives, including their deaths.

Heather Graham's website is www.theoriginalheathergraham.com

The Hidden by Heather Graham. MIRA. 2015. ISBN 9780778318583 (hardcover), 301p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Monday, November 09, 2015

Put a Ring on It by Beth Kendrick

"What's the point of being alive if you don't take a few risks now and then?" That question is contrary to everything Beth Kendrick's heroine stands for in the fun romp,  Put a Ring on It. But, the one time she takes a rash step, she'll have to live with the consequences.

To say Brighton Smith is not a risk taker is an understatement. She's an insurance actuary, and she assesses everything before making a move in life. It's a little too much for her fiancé, and he dumps her. But, it's too much even for her when he calls that same night and says he married someone he just met. Brighton has a few too many drinks at a bar in Black Dog Bay, Delaware, the town where everyone seems to be a dumped woman looking for a rebound. And, Jake Sorensen is the "designated rebound guy for all the newly single women." At least he is until Brighton challenges him to do something with her that he's never done with another woman. So, after those few too many drinks, when Jake answers, "Let's get married", Brighton says yes.

Brighton later tries to determine where their rash marriage went wrong. "'Let's get married,' we said. 'It'll be fun,' we said...And now I'm making black diamond poison rings and asking scary old ladies for gossip and trying to wean myself off my sexual addiction to my drive-through husband and relapsing in the middle of the night." Brighton's "screw-up summer" isn't quite what she expects when she falls in love with the husband she just met.

Kendrick's latest contemporary romance is fun, and funny with a smoldering hot hero and a bright, attractive woman who finds herself way over her head. "In a matter of hours, she'd gone from total burnout to jet-setting party girl." The characters are spirited and lovable in this engaging, amusing story. And, did I mention that smoldering hot hero?

Put a Ring on It is a character-driven, feel-good romance with the required dog, supportive girlfriends, and happy ending. It's a light, enjoyable book from Kendrick, who does contemporary romances so well.

P.S. Pet peeve alert. This never has anything to do with the author. Why can't cover artists ever read enough of the book to put the right dog or cat on the cover?

Beth Kendrick's website is www.bethkendrick.com

Put a Ring on It by Beth Kendrick. New American Library. 2015. ISBN 9780451474186 (paperback), 320p.

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



Sunday, November 08, 2015

A Knights Bridge Christmas by Carla Neggers

After a hectic week, a Carla Neggers Swift River Valley romance is a perfect break. And, if it's a  Christmas romance,  Knights Bridge Christmas, it's even better. Add in the link with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and it's a sentimental treat.

In 1945, fifteen-year-old Daisy Blanchard falls in love with the boy she knows she'll marry, a boy who shares a gift with her father, an "Ebenezer Scrooge", who can't get past his service in the war. And, Tim Farrell's gift of a candle will light the way into the future.

It's a distant future when Daisy, in her eighties, is an indomitable new resident of the retirement home in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. It's there at Rivendell that Clare Morgan, the new town librarian, meets Daisy's grandson, ER doctor Logan Farrell. It isn't the most auspicious meeting, with Logan demanding assistance from the receptionist. Clare sees him as an arrogant man, not a loving grandson who might eventually be interested in a thirty-two-year-old widow and her young son, Owen.

While Clare is haunted by the past and her own fears, it's Logan who dreams of Scrooge's ghosts. And, it's Logan who challenges Clare to face her own ghosts, while owning up to his understanding of his own needs. About Scrooge's ghosts, he says, "I think they'd want me to embrace the possibility of love - to believe and live as if it's as important as work, duty, responsibility and all sorts of other positions."

And, that's what Neggers' romance, and Christmas stories in general, are all about, "possibility". A Knights Bridge Christmas is about the possibility of friendship in a small town, the possibility of a new future, and the possibility of a "forever after" love. It's a story of a charming small town, a little standoffish with newcomers, but warm and welcoming when it's evident those newcomers will stay and become part of a community. It's the story of a town where history and family are important. Neggers' latest novel is a story to welcome a reader, inviting the reader to share secrets of Christmases past and hope for the future.

Carla Neggers' website is www.carlaneggers.com

A Knights Bridge Christmas by Carla Neggers. MIRA. 2015. ISBN 9780778317593 (hardcover), 252p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan kicks off his new series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, with a fabulous book, The Sword of Summer. The author who has taken on the Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythologies now introduces readers to the Norse myths. And, this introductory book is as fast-paced and exciting as the early Percy Jackson books were.

Meet Magnus Chase. At sixteen, he's homeless and has been living on the streets for two years after his mother was murdered by wolves. Of course, that's not what the authorities think. When Magnus hears a middle-aged guy and a teenage girl are looking for him, and there are posters up, he knows it's time to get moving. Although his mother warned him to stay away from his Uncle Randolph, he ends up at the family mansion, receiving another warning from Randolph. Magnus turned sixteen, so "They'll be coming to kill you."

They? As Randolph rambles on about Asgard, Norse gods, and swords, Magnus thinks his uncle is crazy. But, there are stories he remembers from childhood. When Randolph and Magnus drive to the Charles River, the young man ends up in the fight of his life. With only the help of two other homeless friends, Blitz and Hearth, Magnus takes on a fire giant in order to save people on the bridge. And, then he dies.

Magnus Chase's death is only the start of a magnificent adventure that sweeps from Valhalla to some of the Nine Worlds of legend. It's a humorous page-turner with chapter titles such as "I am Trash-Talked by a Squirrel." Riordan knows how to bring myths and legends to life in as easy-to-understand fashion. I recognized some of the characters from Kevin Hearne's The Iron Druid Chronicles. But, as Magnus learns, "Myths are simply stories about truths we've forgotten."

Here we have another obligatory orphan who lost his human parent and never knew he was the son of a god. It makes for the perfect hero of a fantasy adventure series. Magnus Chase is courageous, likeable, a little quirky, and, naturally, flawed and sarcastic. What else would you want in a hero? He's not perfect. The characters are offbeat, irreverent, and perfect for the story. Readers of the Percy Jackson books will recognize Magnus' cousin, and know the books may take an interesting turn. Rick Riordan's books always do.

I tired of the books about the Roman gods. And, I never could get into Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles about the Egyptian ones. But, I'm already sorry I finished The Sword of Summer. It's going to be a year until the second book, The Hammer of Thor, comes out. Darn.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. Disney-Hyperion. 2015. ISBN 9781423160915 (hardcover), 497p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book