Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen

It's always a joy to discover a debut author who brings characters to life on the page. Ella Joy Olsen, in a style that reminds me of Sandra Dallas, brings five women and a house to life in Root, Petal, Thorn.

Five women, one house, one century. Ivy Baygren had hoped to renovate and love her house on Downington Avenue in Salt Lake City. But, when her husband, Adam, collapsed and died, something in Ivy died as well. One month later, she's on the verge of collapse when her panicked children call her brother. He urges her to set goals for herself, to get her house in order. For Ivy, one step is to search for what Adam called "Easter eggs", the traces left behind in the house.

Four other women lived in, and possibly loved, that house. Who was Emmeline who planted the Emmeline rose that thrives and leaves scars one hundred years later? What happened to the woman who lived there during the Depression? What were the fears and memories of the World War II wife and mother? Ivy only had a glimpse of the woman who owned the house before she did, but remembers feeling a slight resentment. "This was my house now, I reasoned with myself. It was fine to be protective of my place in it. I mean, how could a house hold two women in its heart?"

"Perhaps in pondering these women and their stories, using the clues I'd found within the walls of my home,...I'd found the bones of their past, the only things remaining after the actual person was gone." Root, Petal, Thorn is a bittersweet story about flawed, sympathetic characters, most of whom are gone as Ivy searches for their past. Interestingly, it's the story told by a living daughter that's the weakest link in the book. Otherwise, it's a story of connection, women who dealt with the blows of life. Those stories are what Ivy needs as she struggles to realize she's not alone.

Sandra Dallas. Ella Joy Olsen's debut novel reminds me of Dallas' novels of strong women, women coming together to help each other. What a treat if Olsen proves to write those kind of wonderful novels.

Ella Joy Olsen's website is www.ellajoyolsen.com

Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen. Kensington Books. 2016. ISBN 9781496705624 (paperback), 294p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I have a great problem with Louise Penny's A Great Reckoning. I read it twice, and still have no idea how to review it without spoiling the book. And, because I feel as if the book jacket summary is confusing, that doesn't help. A Great Reckoning is emotionally draining, and worth every second spent with the story. It's a superb book, as beautiful as all of Penny's other writings, but a difficult one to discuss.

Once again, Penny combines two storylines, bringing the outside world to Three Pines. It all begins with a discovery in the wall of the bistro, newspapers and magazines. And, a map. It's certainly an odd map. And, Olivier and the villagers gift it to Armand Gamache when he takes over his new position at the Sûreté Academy, where they train young people to join the Sûreté de Quebec . It's a map that will impact Gamache's position, the investigation of a murder case, and four cadets from the Academy. In fact, because of that map, four young people will arrive at Three Pines, that magical village that appears just when people need it. And, those are four needy cadets.

There's really no need to summarize A Great Reckoning other than to say there are two investigations, one into a new murder, one into the story of the map. Gamache is the linchpin  with his connection to Three Pines and the Sûreté Academy. And, because of that map, because of a cadet, Gamache himself is a suspect.

Louise Penny has had an overarching storyline in her books about power, and the corruption of power. In Gamache's new role,"He was judge and jury. The first and final word. And Armand Gamache realized, without great surprise, that it was a role he was comfortable with. Even liked. The power, yes. He was honest enough to admit that." Power.

Penny shows the use and abuse of power, along with the contrast between darkness and light. It's light that finally reveals the secrets and stories of the map. And, of course, there's Gamache himself, the symbol of light, with his kindness, his hope for the cadets, his power.

I read A Great Reckoning twice in the last week. When I read Louise Penny's books, I find myself savoring the words, the phrases. I reread the conversations involving Ruth. Those are often the humorous touches, the dry humor. I look up W.H. Auden's poems, such as "Herman Melville" to read the poem that Ruth and Gamache quote, lines about goodness and evil, the heart of Penny's books. Despite the beauty of the poem, of so many sentences, my favorite this time is from Gamache. "Not every mystery is a crime. But every crime starts as a mystery. A secret. Some hidden thought or feeling. A desire. Something not yet illegal that evolves, with time, into a crime. Every homicide I've investigated started as a secret."

What can I really say about A Great Reckoning? It's the best book I've read this year, the only one I've read twice. It's light and hope and kindness overcoming the darkness and ugliness of the world. It's one man, Armand Gamache, whose smile and kindness can change the future. It's Louise Penny's latest gift to readers.

Louise Penny's website is www.LouisePenny.com

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny. Minotaur Books. 2016. ISBN 9781250022134 (hardcover), 389p.

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


Monday, August 29, 2016

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Is there anything better than a debut novel that's even better than you expected? Louise Miller's The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, looked interesting. But, Miller managed to bring her characters, Vermont, and music to life in this captivating novel.

Miller's opening sentence invites the reader into Olivia Rawlings' story. "The night I lit the Emerson Club on fire had been perfect for making meringue." Following the pastry chef's eye-opening disaster, her natural reaction is to flee. She ends up at her best friend's house in Guthrie, Vermont, and before Livvy can even recover from her hangover, she's offered a trial as the new baker at Margaret Hurley's Sugar Maple Inn. First, she has to pass a test by making an apple pie. Then, she's asked to make a one-year commitment because Margaret wants to win back her spot as the blue ribbon apple pie winner at the county fair.

Vermont may seem like a strange departure for a woman who had been working in Boston. But, something in the landscape calls to Livvy. And, then there's the music. She plays banjo, and is invited to sit in with a local group. And, once she meets fiddler Martin McCracken and his large family, Livvy dreams of what she's never had, a family. Martin's father, Henry, teaches her to play the dulcimer. The McCrackens, the baking at the Sugar Maple Inn, the music, everything leads to a contentment Livvy has never felt before. But, contentment doesn't always last in the face of memories from the past. And, once again, Livvy's natural reaction is to flee.

Olivia Rawlings narrates The City Baker's Guide to Country Living. At thirty-two, she's still a little reckless, a woman who grew up without a mother in her life. She lost her father as a teenager. It's made her a little edgy, aware of her own flaws. She's an outsider who moves to Guthrie, and can see the problems with the closeness of the community. Everyone knows everyone's business, and, if they don't, they make up rumors. But, she's also envious of the closeness of community and family.

Miller's debut novel is a character-driven story involving secrets and the long memories of small town residents. It's an atmospheric story that depicts Vermont in all its beauty. And, the music is such an essential element in creating the atmosphere. Most of all, it's a satisfying account of a woman's homecoming to a home she never had, and the acceptance she always wanted.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. 2016. ISBN 9781101981207 (hardcover), 340p.

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


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Chat featuring September Cozies from Berkley Prime Crime




If you want to see Jinx, you'll have to go to the end. I had to track him down. He was on the table while I wrote the script, and then disappeared when I filmed.

Here are the September titles from Berkley Prime Crime.

Cheddar Off Dead - Julia Buckley - 2nd Undercover Dish Mystery
No Farm, No Foul - Peg Cochran - 1st Farmer's Daughter Mystery
Dead to the Last Drop - Cleo Coyle - 15th Coffeehouse Mystery, 1st time in paperback
The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher - Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain & Renee Paley-Bain - 44th Murder, She
     Wrote Mystery, 1st time in paperback
Cancelled by Murder - Jean Flowers - 2nd Postmistress Mystery
Paint the Town Dead - Nancy Haddock - 2nd Silver Six Crafting Mystery
Digging Up the Dirt - Miranda James - 3rd Southern Ladies Mystery
Murder of a Cranky Catnapper - Denise Swanson - 19th Scrumble River Mystery

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blah

Blah. The cats and I have had a blah week. I could blame Louise Penny and say I just can't get anything after reading A Great Reckoning. Well, that part's true about books. I actually read a Christmas book on Wednesday night, but I certainly am not reviewing it in April. I scheduled that review to run in November. I just can't get into anything.

It's just been that sort of week all around. Nothing to feel sorry for us about, just little irritations such as the problem with a haircut. I wanted to get that done Friday after work instead of Saturday morning. Sure, if I wanted to wait an hour and a half for an appointment. No, I'll get it cut on Saturday. It's just little things that all add up, and I don't feel like reading a thing.

Don't worry. I'm going to work on my book chat today. I'll reread Louise's book, and I have another review already scheduled for this coming week. And, it's almost time for October Treasures in My Closet. Lots of things coming up. Just nothing worth talking about from the end of the week.

Enjoy your weekend. Find a good book to read or listen to. The cats and I will get past the blahs.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Winners and Librarians, Cats, and Murder

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Patricia P. from Boynton Beach, FL won Ripped From the Pages. Books of a Feather will go to Robin C. of Ashtabula, OH. The books will go out in the mail today.

Why do librarians, cats, and murder go together in the mystery world? This week, I'm giving away  two books that feature those three elements. If you haven't yet read Miranda James'Arsenic and Old Books, you'll want to read it, and the short story included in the book. When the mayor of Athena, Mississippi donates a set of Civil War-era diaries to the Athena College archives, she wants librarian Charlie Harris to preserve them. There are people determined to get their hands on those diaries, and that demand leads to murder. Now, Charlie and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel, have to discover why the diaries are worth killing for.


Librarian Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, have to catch a killer in Laurie Cass' Cat with a Clue. While shelving books one morning, Minnie stumbles across a dead body. The woman was from out of town, visiting for a funeral. But, what was she doing in the library after hours? As Minnie and Eddie travel the county in the bookmobile, they're asking questions, and looking for a killer.

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 Arsenic and Old Books" or "Win Cat with a Clue." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, Sept. 1 at 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

What Are You Reading?

It's that time of week! Time to discover what you're reading. I've just started Mary Robinette Kowal's novel, Ghost Talkers. It's about mediums who talk to the ghosts of dead World War I soldiers in order to find out enemy troop movements. Then one of the mediums finds evidence of a traitor. I'm not sure if it's for me or not, but the premise is fascinating.

What are you reading today? You do know I use what you tell me for readers' advisory, don't you? On Thursdays I participate in an online Twitter chat, #AskaLibrarian. And, I use my blog as one of my resources. It's an hour-long chat in which readers can ask librarians for book suggestions. My favorite hour of the week. I learn as much as I share.

And, that's what I do when I ask you what you're reading. It's always interesting to see what's trending and what you're reading. Thank you for sharing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Katherine Bolger Hyde's debut mystery makes me regret that I don't know Austen better. Each chapter of Arsenic with Austen begins with a quote from one of the novels. If I was more knowledgeable, I'd probably have been more familiar with the direction the story took. I was impressed with some aspects, surprised by the ending, and not surprised by the culprits. I also have the feeling I missed some major points by only knowing a couple of Austen's books.

Emily Cavanaugh hadn't been back to Stony Beach, Oregon in thirty-five years. As a teenager she spent summers there, met and lost the love of her life. Now, at fifty-one, she's a widowed professor, and the heir to her great-aunt Beatrice's estate. In other words, Emily inherited the house called Windy Corner, $6 million in cash and assets, and most of the property in the small community. Her uncle's nephew, Brock, inherited a small portion of the estate. And, it seems, even at Beatrice's funeral that a quarter of the town was united behind the mayor and Brock in wanting Emily to sell out to developers.

But, Emily still loves Stony Beach, the town she saw as a refuge. She loves the library in Windy Corner. As she questions Beatrice's housekeeper and some of the shopkeepers, she starts to grow suspicious. Aunt Beatrice's death seems a little too fortunate and a few people seem a little too eager to get on Emily's good side. When Emily joins forces with Sheriff Luke Richards, the man she once loved, the two start poking at suspects who are a little too slick for comfort. And, one more death convinces Emily and Luke that Beatrice was somehow murdered.

It's refreshing to have an amateur sleuth in her fifties instead of a young woman. Emily is a mature woman with a history, and a kind heart. That kind heart leads to a couple surprises in the book, including the ending. It is surprising that she's an English professor who is a Luddite, unfamiliar with computers or Netflix. Most cozy mysteries have victims that are not well-liked, and the amateur sleuth has a host of suspects to sift through. The victims in this book are likable characters, and the reader regrets their deaths as much as the sleuth does. It makes sense that Emily would want to find the killer.

If you're looking for a mature sleuth with an adult relationship with an old boyfriend, a kind and not eccentric character, try Arsenic with Austen. And, if you are a lover of Jane Austen's writing, tell me what I missed.

Katherine Bolger Hyde's website is www.kbhyde.com

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde. Minotaur Books. 2016. ISBN 9781250065476 (hardcover), 312p.

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


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

By now, everyone knows that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play written by Jack Thorne, based on a new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Tiffany and Thorne. And, people are seeing it in London, the book has been out several weeks now, and no one can really be surprised. But, I'm not going to give anything away, if I can help it. I may not have grown up reading the Harry Potter books, but I loved Harry and the world Rowling created. I never wanted to know what happened until I had the chance to read the book.

Everyone knows Harry Potter survived the first seven books, or there wouldn't be an eighth story, nineteen years after the events in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Rowling has written that Harry married Ginny Weasley and had three children. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the story of the middle child, Albus. And, oh, he's a middle child, thinking his father doesn't love or understand him the way he loves and understands the oldest boy or the only girl. Before Albus even gets to Hogwarts, he's scared of the expectations that will come from being the son of Harry Potter, who is now the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. But, at Hogwarts, Harry was famous. And, as a middle child, Albus feels the weight of the expectations. Who will his friends be? What house will he be in? What will Harry's son become?

The latest Harry Potter is a story of fathers and sons, the past and the present, and how they influence each other. It's a play that collects the legendary stories of Harry Potter, and twists them around, showing them from another viewpoint. If the characters and world don't seem quite as developed as in Rowling's books, it's because it's a rehearsal script with brief descriptions to set the scene. And, as in any play, the actors who play those parts will bring the characters to life.

But, we all know Harry Potter, don't we? Or, do we? Let's see him through the eyes of a middle child, challenging his father, as young men do, challenging his father's legend. But, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is still a Harry Potter story. Those of us who remember the lessons of the books will remember lessons of love and friendship. Those qualities created the legend of Harry Potter. And, the legend lives.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic, Inc.), 2016. ISBN 9781338099133 (hardcover), 325p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Monday, August 22, 2016

Spoiling Other Books

I finished Louise Penny's A Great Reckoning yesterday. When I read Louise's new book, I always block off a day to sit down and absorb it, to sink into the atmosphere. And, I don't review it for a few days so I have time to think about it. Louise Penny's Gamache books are the only ones that I handle this way. Then, the next book or so are spoiled for me. In fact, I texted my sister.

I said, "The best book of my year is over. I might as well give up books and go to New Orleans and Chicago and Ireland and New York." Linda said she can't read Louise's books when it's hot and sunny. "She needs dark and cold." My response was, "This is a book that starts with November's first snowfall, and goes into a winter of the soul."

I've loved Louise's books since Still Life. I'm not always this crazy about them. There were several in the series that didn't excite me. But, A Great Reckoning isn't one of those.

I'll review it later, but it's a review I have to write carefully so I don't give away spoilers. I never read reviews of Penny's work until I've read the book, and already tonight I saw a summary that gave away too much. I'll be careful so I don't spoil it for anyone.

In the meantime, do you have an author who spoils other books for you? Who do you read, and then close the book, knowing you have to wait another year?


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

I'll admit I haven't read books in all of Janet Evanovich's series. But, it didn't come as a surprise when a car blew up in her latest book, Curious Minds. This time, though, she's moved into a higher price range. Evanovich and co-author Phoef Sutton blew up a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Most of the rest of this fun caper was a surprise, though.

Riley Moon has degrees from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. She's representing the prestigious mega-bank Blane-Grunwald when she shows up at Mysterioso Manor, home of the uber-wealthy eccentric Emerson Knight. But, he only wanted to speak to Gunter Grunwald, and Riley had to admit the man was missing. Their drive back to the bank to confront Gunter's brother only convinces Riley that Emerson is nuts. Her boss asks her to work with Knight, expecting her to report back to him. Instead, Riley ends up in a chase across country, one involving gold, "Cammo dudes", and a senior citizen hot-wiring a car.

There's so much more to this enjoyable caper, though. Let's just say it's a story involving national security at the highest levels. However, it's the contrast and relationship between Emerson Knight and Riley Moon that makes the story successful. Riley's a little uptight, trying to make it in the financial world. But, at heart, she's still a Texas girl, daughter of the retired county sheriff, and the girl who could outshoot her four brothers. She's the perfect assistant for Emerson Knight. "physically a ten, but intellectually he was a certifiable fruit basket". Riley's opinion after she's known him a little longer? "His rigid confidence bordered on arrogance, and was flat-out annoying. It was tempered by an honest simplicity that was charming." Emerson turns out to be an adventurer with lots of money, who launches himself (and Riley) into danger with no more than a basic plan.

Looking for a caper with two attractive heroes, and a couple admirable sidekicks? Looking for greed on a grand scale? Check out Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton.

Janet Evanovich' s website is www.evanovich.com
Phoef Sutton's website is www.phoefsutton.com

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton. Bantam Books. 2016. ISBN 9780553392685 (hardcover), 323p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sequel Disappointment

I didn't have as much reading time as I thought I would today, so I didn't finish the book I'm reading. And, I have to admit it's an easy read. Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yet? I have mixed feelings. I don't mind the stage directions and the fact it's a play. As I mentioned here before, I like to read plays. What I'm having problems with is the next generation. Like so many books in which favorite young characters grow up, I prefer to read about them in their youth. I don't really want to see Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny as adults. Think about your favorite books about young people. None of the sequels were as good as Little Women. Frankly, Alcott married Jo off to the wrong person, and all kinds of readers were disappointed. And, I read a comment recently about Peter Pan. It really wasn't as much fun after Wendy grew up. I can think of several other books off the top of my head that are the same. Although The Velveteen Rabbit really did get to become real because the boy grew up.


When it comes time to review Harry Potter and the Curse Child, I may actually like the story itself. As I said, though, it's just tough to see Harry as an adult.

What do you think about sequels to books about youth? I started to ask about sequels to favorite books, but that's a whole other subject when it comes to mysteries. I'm not talking about mysteries. I'm talking about books featuring young people. Maybe Alan Bradley is smart in keeping Flavia de Luce young.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Winners and a Bibliophile Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Malice at the Palace will go to Nancy H. from Dodgeville, WI. Susan B. from Seattle, WA won A Most Curious Murder. The books will go in the mail tomorrow.

I'm getting ready to write a newspaper column dealing with books about books. That makes it the perfect time to give away hardcover copies of Kate Carlisle's Bibliophile mysteries. If you're not familiar with her books, Brooklyn Wainwright is a book restoration expert. Ripped from the Pages is set in Sonoma where Brooklyn has moved temporarily to her parents' while her apartment is being renovated. The community excavates caves, hoping to use them for their wine business. But, they find a room, treasures including rare books, and a body. And, the treasures reveal secrets about French winemakers who fled the Nazis.



The drawings of John James Audubon are featured in Books of a Feather. When she's at the Covington Library's special exhibit featuring Birds of America, the president of the National Bird-watchers Society asks Brooklyn to repair one of Audubon's lesser known books. When a friend offers her another rare book to restore that same evening, Brooklyn's having a great time. But, the party is ruined when she finds a body in the library.

Which book 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 Ripped from the Pages" or "Win Books of a Feather." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Aug. 25 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff

Alix Rickloff has written historical and paranormal romances, but Secrets of Nanreath Hall is her first historical novel. It's a disturbing, fascinating story of a mother and daughter. But, it's the daughter's story, the atmospheric depiction of World War II, that brings the story to life.

In alternating chapters, Rickloff tells of Lady Katherine Trenowyth and her daughter, Anna Trenowyth. As a young woman, passionately in love, and wanting to be an artist, Katherine fled from her family estate at Nanreath Hall in Cornwall. Her story is set prior to and during the Great War, but it's Kitty's story up until her death when Anna is young. In contrast, Anna's story is set against World War II, but the war itself is essential to Anna's story. Seventeen years after her mother's death, Anna has survived the collapse of France, and barely survived when the ship she was on was strafed and hit a mine. She's part of the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment. After her recuperation in the hospital, she's assigned to work in a convalescent home. Anna Trenowyth is sent to Nanreath Hall in Cornwall.

While Katherine's story is one of love and loss, Anna's is the story of the search for a family, a history she never knew. "The Trenowyth family never recovered. Scandal, debt, injuries, death." What part did Katherine play in the rumor that the Trenowyths were cursed? Anna knows nothing about her mother's past, but will discover family members who don't want her and secrets they want hidden.

Katherine and Anna are both strong, interesting women. But, it's the background of Anna's story that is vivid and heart wrenching. Rickloff's account of World War II deals with the role played by all the British. She writes of the suffering of the nurses such as Anna, who dealt with PTSD, who heard the cries of the dying, who lost friends. Nanreath Hall is bombed in the course of the book. She brings the convalescent home, the bombed out London streets, to life. Anna's memories and her reaction to them, are usually not portrayed in books about the war. We read about PTSD in the soldiers. But, we seldom read about the nurses and volunteers who saw so much. In Anna, in her cousin, Hugh, we see the suffering of the survivors.

Secrets of Nanreath Hall is a compelling, atmospheric story. Rickloff vividly portrays the time period in a story that is heart wrenching when describing the war.  It was a war that changed British society forever, and it's reflected here. There are complex, flawed characters in this book, fascinating characters. But, for me, the agonizing stories of the survivors, the people fighting their memories, are the pieces of this book that linger.

Alix Rickloff's website is www.AlixRickloff.com

Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff. William Morrow. 2016. ISBN 9780062433183 (paperback), 400p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy of the book to participate in the blog tour.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Finalists for Mysterious Press Award

FINALISTS CHOSEN FOR MYSTERIOUS PRESS $25,000 AWARD;  
WINNER TO BE NAMED AT 2016 FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR


New York, August 15, 2016 -- Otto Penzler, President and CEO of MysteriousPress.com, has announced the finalists for the inaugural Mysterious Press Award, which was established as a contest for a mystery novel to be published as Best E-Book Original by MysteriousPress.com and distributed in the United States and Canada by Open Road Integrated Media and published world-wide.

The finalists are:


·  ALIBI by Lee Goodman (represented by Janet Reid)
·  THE DOWNSIDE by Mike Cooper (represented by Janet Reid)
·  BRIGHT LIKE BLOOD by Leigh C. Rourks (represented by Larry Kirshbaum)


"As electronic publishing has become a significant element of the publishing world, we decided to recognize an outstanding work of mystery fiction by offering a substantial advance and a great opportunity for world-wide recognition," said Penzler. "We had an extraordinary array of outstanding crime novels submitted for the contest and will be thrilled to publish whichever one is chosen as the winner."

These top three entries have been circulated to Mysterious Press's world-wide partners for a final decision. The winner will be chosen based on a variety of criteria, including originality and literary quality.

The winning entry will receive a prize of $25,000 and guaranteed world-wide publication. The $25,000 prize will be an advance against future royalties. MysteriousPress.com will publish the winning title as an e-book original with print-on-demand copies also available. World-wide partners will have all rights (excluding dramatic rights) to publish in all formats.

The winner will be announced at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair.

Contest sponsors are MysteriousPress.com partners who distribute and market its books: Open Road, in North America and numerous countries around the world; Head of Zeus in the British Commonwealth; Hayakawa Publishing (Japan, Singapore, and South Korea), Bonnier (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland); Dutch Media Books (Holland and Belgium), and Bastei Lubbe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Greece, and selected Eastern European countries). MysteriousPress.com e-books are distributed in China by Trajectory.

The contest was open to established authors as well as first-time novelists. Submissions of complete and unpublished novels were accepted from accredited literary agents.

More information about Mysterious Press can be found on MysteriousPress.com.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon

I love the mystery community. When we hosted Laura Bradford at the library, Lynn Cahoon came with her. I hadn't read Lynn's books, however after reading A Story to Kill, the first Cat Latimer mystery, I'll be eager to read the sequel. But cozy mystery? Small town traditional mystery, yes. Like Cleo Coyle, though, Cahoon's story has a few elements not usually found in cozies.

Cat Latimer had never expected to move back to Aspen Hills, Colorado, to the house she loved. But, when her ex-husband, Michael, died, he hadn't changed his will, and she inherited the house. Now, she and her best friend, Shauna, are opening the Warm Springs Writer's Retreat near Covington College. Cat's the writer in residence. Shauna is in charge of the kitchen and hospitality, and their first guests are arriving. Best selling thriller writer Tom Cook is among the small group, which thrills everyone. Cat isn't quite as thrilled when she finds him murdered in his room.

Cahoon has the typical cast in a small town mystery. There's the heroine, Cat, and her best friend. Seth Howard is the high school sweetheart, dumped after an argument, but he's now the handyman, always in the house, and always on Cat's mind. Her uncle is the police chief. It's a likable cast, perhaps a little stock in this first book, but the story is definitely a set-up for future books. Cat isn't a stock heroine, though. She's very authentic, a little grouchy at times, definitely feeling unsettled when it comes to her relationship with Seth, and her memories of Michael. And, the killer wasn't a surprise.

Saying all of that, I was drawn to the story and the characters. And, Cahoon does have surprises for the reader. There are a couple mysteries here, and one, involving Cat herself, is left open-ended. The other mystery involves a topic usually not dealt with in cozies. But, to mention more would be to spoil the story.

The writer's retreat bed-and-breakfast is a wonderful set-up for a mystery series. There will be new writers coming into every book, new characters to discover. And, of course, there's the mystery Michael left behind for Cat. A Story to Kill launches an engrossing new series with an appealing setting and a realistic, interesting amateur sleuth.

Lynn Cahoon's website is www.lynncahoon.com

A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon. Kensington Books. 2016. ISBN 9781496704351 (paperback), 277p.

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




Monday, August 15, 2016

What Are You Reading?

I read an entire book on Saturday, but I only left the house to get the mail. It's wasn't as easy to do on Sunday when I worked the reference desk at the library, and it was for the entire afternoon. Good day at work, just no reading time. I've started Lynn Cahoon's A Story to Kill, the first in a new series. A writer opens a B&B in Colorado, offering week-long writer's retreats. At least she does until a famous thriller writer is killed in his room. Next up is Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff.


Did you have reading time this weekend, or did something keep you from your books? What are you reading now?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

Pride and Prejudice. Anna Karenina. To Kill a Mockingbird. Ann Hood's fictional book club discusses these and seven more titles in her latest novel, The Book That Matters Most. But, it's a book from childhood that mattered the most to the the protagonist, a story that Hood created for this book. And, it's a statement from a young woman that rang true to me.

After Ava Tucker's husband left her for a younger woman, she begged her friend, Cate, head librarian at The Atheneum, to allow her to join the book club that met there. She was desperate to talk to others. Once she finally attends, she realizes she wasn't prepared for the December meeting when they picked books for the next year. This year's theme? The book that mattered most to you. While the other members picked books such as The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, Ava picked a book that got her through a rough time. After her sister died and her mother killed herself a year later, someone dropped off a book for Ava, From Clare to Here by Rosalind Arden.

While Ava is dealing with her own day-to-day problems at home, she has no idea what her daughter, Maggie, is dealing with in Paris. Maggie, angry at her father, is supposed to be in school in Florence during her year abroad. Instead, the troubled young woman has fallen back into old patterns of drugs and sex. Like her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, she's trying to cope with loss and life.

For all the women in Ava's family, books are saviors. She remembers her mother quoting Proust, "There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book." And, it's Ava's remembered book, From Clare to Here, that leads her down a strange path that provides answers. As she searches for the mysterious author, she discovers stories and truths she had either forgotten, or never known.

Some readers may be slightly disappointed there isn't more discussion of the books themselves. There are some interesting discussions, but the author is covering a year in the lives of two women, and a year in the book club.  It's a young woman who sums up those books, the club, and life itself when she says there is no one book that matters most. What matters is the book that comes along when you need it in life, and, in may be a different book at different times. For some people, such as Ava, there really is The Book That Matters Most. For most readers, books matter.

Hood has given us a story about family, desperation, life, and the power of books.

Ann Hood's website is www.annhood.us

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood. W.W. Norton & Company. 2016. ISBN 9780393241655 (hardcover), 368p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher gave me a copy of the book, hoping I would discuss or review it, either at BEA or on my blog, with no guarantee of a review or positive comments.




Saturday, August 13, 2016

Deadly Fate by Heather Graham

More than any of the other Krewe of Hunters novels that I've read, Heather Graham's Deadly Fate feels as if it's a continuation. There's a group of four characters who return from the previous book, Haunted Destiny. Readers really should read the earlier story about a haunted ship in the Caribbean before taking the latest trip with Graham, this time to Alaska.

Thor Erikson, an FBI agent, was once partners with Jackson Crow as the two tracked the "Fairy Tale Killer". They caught him, sent him to prison, but were not able to save his last victim. Now, Mandy Brandt appears to Thor in his dreams. When Thor learns the killer has escaped from prison, he knows Mandy's appearance was a warning. And, Jackson Crow, who has moved on to head up a special unit, the Krewe of Hunters, shows up at a new crime scene. Jackson has also seen Mandy.

Although the FBI are looking for Tate Morley, the Fairy Tale Killer, they have a new killer on the hands. Someone is killing members of a TV reality production team. It's only when Thor and Jackson head to Black Bear Island to interview remaining members of the crew that they learn there's also an acting troupe from the cruise ship, Fate, on the island. Jackson met all four of them on an assignment in New Orleans. Now, Clare Avery and her three co-stars in a Broadway-style show on the ship are victims of an outrageous reality show prank. Thor and Jackson are just worried that someone will become another victim of a serial killer.

The cast of characters is stuck on an isolated island in Alaska with a serial killer, a locked-room atmospheric book. The story is intense from the very beginning as the FBI agents hunt first one killer, and then another, who are preying on attractive young women. Graham's Krewe of Hunters books always involve creepy plots with weird villains. That makes sense. The FBI wouldn't be called in, and ghosts wouldn't come into play in the stories if there wasn't violent death and tragedy. But, readers can always count on courageous characters, men and women, helpful ghosts, and atmospheric settings. Deadly Fate is another compelling page-turner in the intriguing, best-selling series.

Heather Graham's website is www.TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com.

Deadly Fate by Heather Graham. MIRA. 2016. ISBN 9780778330127 (hardcover), 313p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Friday, August 12, 2016

Winners and Give Me a B Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of Linda Castillo's Among the Wicked. Mary H. from St. Louis, MO and Jacqueline F. from Chicago, IL will receive copies. I'll put them in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I'm giving away books by authors whose name begins with B. Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli's A Most Curious Murder has hints of Alice in Wonderland, and it's the first "Little Library Mystery". After Jenny Weston's bitter divorce, she returns home to Bear Falls, Michigan. But, her mother's little library is destroyed, and then a local curmudgeon is found dead in a fairy garden. Now, Jenny has to help her mother's neighbor, a little person, stay out of jail.





Are you caught up with Rhys Bowen's Royal Spyness series? If not, you might want to enter to win Malice at the Palace. Lady Georgie is spending time with Princess Marina of Greece, trying to hide the affairs of the king's youngest son, George. But, everything gets complicated when one of his supposed mistresses is murdered. Georgie teams up with her "beau", Darcy, for an investigation that takes them a little too close to the prince.

Which mystery do you want to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read either "Win A Most Curious Murder" or "Win Malice at the Palace." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Aug. 18 at 6 PM CT.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Putting on the Brakes



Putting on the brakes for a couple days. I just spend the past couple days reading a 400 page book for a journal review, which means I didn't have time to read for Lesa's Book Critiques. And, of course, there's the Olympics. I have Olympic hangover, staying up way past my normal bedtime to watch. Then I have to get up in the morning and go to work.

So, let's take a couple days off. I'll see you back on Friday for the next giveaway.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Practical Navigator by Stephen Metcalfe

It's an unusual title for a strong, character-driven novel. Stephen Metcalfe uses a book called The American Practical Navigator by Nathaniel Bowditch as a guide for his story of a man whose life is out-of-control. And, Metcalfe succeeds brilliantly with The Practical Navigator.

Michael Hodge was once a famous surfer, riding the waves. Now, his life is out of balance as he struggles to maintain control. He is the owner of a small, struggling construction company. He's a loving son learning about his mother's memory problems. And his most important role is as single father of a seven-year-old autistic son, Jamie. Days are not always easy when dealing with Jamie, no matter how much the two love each other. But, then Michael's estranged wife, Anita, shows up, after an absence of years. She's a fragile woman herself, and now she wants some contact with their son. Or, she thinks she does. She's not sure.

Anita has a shaky past. She comes from a well-off, dysfunctional family. And, when she's under stress, she turns to pills and alcohol. She had some years of sobriety and health when she traveled the world with Michael on the surf tour, but she crashed soon after Jamie was born, and left Michael with Jamie.

Metcalfe skillfully balances the story from various points of view; that of Michael, Anita, Michael's girl friend, Michael's employees, Jamie. They are all needy, sympathetic characters. And, the author is careful to be nonjudgmental although some of the people in the story do judge each other. The characters are awkward, with difficulties in navigating their relationships, and, sometimes the world itself.

While authors such as Lisa Genova (Love Anthony) have told of mothers and their autistic children, it's rare to see the father as caregiver. Stephen Metcalfe's The Practical Navigator is a beautiful story of a loving father and son. Even Anita recognizes that relationship when she says, "I love the way you love our son." The novel is an open-ended story. But, it's obvious that Michael and Jamie will be just fine with all that love.

Stephen Metcalfe's website is www.stephenmetcalfe.net

The Practical Navigator by Stephen Metcalfe. St. Martin's Press. 2016. ISBN 9781250075321 (hardcover), 320p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.



Monday, August 08, 2016

Survivors Will Be Shot Again by Bill Crider

It's time for another Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery from Bill Crider. Survivors Will Be Shot Again is
just as amusing as earlier books, with the same quirky characters we've come to expect and appreciate. It's always fun to watch the sheriff puzzle out the answers to the latest crime in Blacklin County, Texas.

Actually, Rhodes should never take a day off. One day, and he ends up foiling a convenience store robbery with a loaf of bread, and finding a body. The robbery was just another comic highlight for the citizens who expect their sheriff to be a heroic two-gun hero. They just know Rhodes is the model for Sage Barton in a series of wild adventure-romances. And, Rhodes' wife, Ivy does nothing to disabuse them of that notion. But, it's the murder victim that gets the sheriff's attention. Melvin Hunt, the victim, and the man who owns the barn where Melvin is found, had both been victims of local thefts. Rhodes will certainly ask questions when theft and murder are involved. 

Sheriff Dan Rhodes is the perfect hero for a series of delightful police procedurals. He acknowledges that TV and the Internet, and even those Sage Barton books, set people up to expect instantaneous, miraculous results when crime is involved. He doesn't let expectations bother him. "Rhodes wasn't discouraged by the seeming lack of evidence. He'd always had a lot more luck with talking to people than he'd had with finding clues." In fact, he sees his investigations as puzzles, with pieces that need to be fitted together correctly and tried different ways.

That doesn't mean there's no action in Survivors Will Be Shot Again.  Readers will appreciate action scenes with a loaf of bread, prehistoric animals, and a dangerous group of teenage thieves. This latest engaging mystery is one more fun story featuring the Texas sheriff who doesn't take himself or life too seriously, but does take crime seriously.

Bill Crider's website is www.billcrider.com

Survivors Will Be Shot Again by Bill Crider. Minotaur Books. 2016. ISBN 9781250078520 (hardcover), 272p.

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

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy

It was worth waiting four years for the new Monkeewrench novel, The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy. Once the first murder occurred, the story snowballed and I couldn't put it down. It just made my top ten list for the year. I can't rave enough about it.

Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are on the sixth day of a seven day vacation when they're called to a crime scene at a luxury hotel. One of the guests has been found dead. But, before he was murdered, he called in the death of another man, a man who was the victim of overkill, shot before his house went up in flames. The two men, Chuck Spencer and Wally Luntz, were strangers, scheduled to meet the same day Wally was killed. And, it isn't long before they learn about a young woman, Lydia Ascher, who met Chuck on his flight to Minneapolis. The two strangers, a generation apart, were surprised to recognize that they both owned a photo taken during World War II.

After meeting Lydia, Magozzi and Rolseth turn to Monkeewrench for help. Grace MacBride, the unofficial leader of the computer geniuses, is dating Leo. She and Harley Davidson, the giant biker, are in town while Annie and Roadrunner are out of town on business. As Grace and Harley input data, they come up with connections from sixty years earlier. And, the suppositions the detectives and their Monkeewrench team come up with are scary. "Forty-eight hours ago they were investigating a simple shooting in a downtown Minneapolis alley, now they were using burner phones and spinning government conspiracy theories." And, who are the players in this conspiracy?

Tracy puts forth more ideas than just conspiracy theories. Who are the good guys? What does it mean to be family? Weather plays a crucial role, as it often does in these books set in Minnesota. With a link to events and people sixty years earlier, there are historical elements. And, I've always appreciated the connection of police procedural and online information.

This is a riveting page-turner, one of the best in this series. It was worth waiting four years for the exciting novel. The Sixth Idea is one of the best books I've read this year.

The Sixth Idea by P.J. Tracy. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2016. ISBN 9780399169359 (hardcover), 306p.

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

Saturday, August 06, 2016

What Are You Reading?

Sometimes, my social life gets in the way reading. I'm not far into P.J. Tracy's The Sixth Idea. I want  to read Bill Crider's new book, Survivors Will Be Shot Again. And, I have a book to read and review by Tuesday. But, I'm enjoying the evenings I've spent with friends this week (which I wouldn't give up for the world), and I'm working at our Friends of the Library book sale tonight.


So, what are you reading right now?

Friday, August 05, 2016

Winners and A Wicked Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the copies of P.J. Tracy's The Sixth Idea. Tracey P. from Westerville, OH and Mary S. of Goodyear, AZ won the two copies.

This week, I have two copies of Linda Castillo's new Kate Burkholder novel to give away. One is an ARC, one a hardcover. Police Chief Kate Burkholder goes undercover to an Amish community in upstate New York to investigate stories of abuse and disappearances. She truly finds herself Among the Wicked.

If you would like to win a copy of this week's book, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com.Your subject heading should read "Win Among the Wicked." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Aug. 11 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Although I read the new collection of columns by mother-and-daughter team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella, I'm going to make a recommendation based on a friend's viewpoint. She hasn't yet listened to I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places. But, she's listened to their earlier books. The authors read them on audio. She says the books are even better when you hear them read their columns with their Philadelphia accents.

Scottoline and Serritella write the "Chick Wit" column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The columns cover everything from Scottoline's remodeling of her kitchen to Serritella's dating. And, many of the essays are witty. In fact, they'll hit home for many women, particularly women who are single. But, the authors always have meaty stories as well. The last book contained the articles about the death of the matriarch of the family known as Mother Mary. The current collection has a section dealing with Francesca's brutal mugging. I had read Francesca's original account. I had not read the follow-up essays about the aftermath, dealing with the police and the hospital, and her emotions after the fact. I hadn't read Lisa's article, a mother's struggle knowing her daughter had been punched and beaten.

While they talk about their lives, their mother-daughter spats and love, the authors manage to give advice as well. There's a thoughtful piece by Scottoline called "Protect the Candle" in which she tells how she finally learned to say no in order to give herself time to do what's important to her. Many of us women struggle with it, thinking we need to be accommodating.

The two women write about grief, family, their dogs, dating and exes, girlfriends, bookstores, book parties. But, most of all Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella write about life. And, they write those articles with humor and wisdom and love. Try I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places. I'm guessing it will make you nod some in recognition, laugh a little, and acknowledge the truth in their writing.

Lisa Scottoline's web site is www.scottoline.com
Francesca Serritella's web site is www.francescaserritella.com

I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. St. Martin's Press. 2016. ISBN 9781250059956 (hardcover), 306p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Wednesday, August 03, 2016

No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman

Nancy Herriman's No Comfort for the Lost was one of my favorite books last year. Now, she takes us back to San Francisco in 1867 in No Pity for the Dead. It's another atmospheric mystery that brings the city, its life and politics, to life.

Celia Davies knows she's a strong-willed, unyielding woman. Those qualities make her an excellent nurse, dedicated to the immigrants and poor women she serves at her Females' Free Clinic. She has lost some of her backing from the wealthy women of the city because of her support of the Chinese at a time of racial unrest. And, Celia's cousin, Barbara, who is half-Chinese, suffers from that same discrimination. Barbara's fortunate to have one dependable friend, Grace Hutchinson. And Celia has a friend in Grace's stepmother, Jane. So, of course Jane and Grace turn to Celia for help when Grace's father becomes a murder suspect.

Ironically, it's Celia and one of the neighborhood young men who find the victim. Owen Cassidy was supposed to be working on a construction project at Martin and Company, where Frank Hutchinson was a partner. Instead, a co-worker convinced the fourteen-year-old to dig for gold in the cellar. They found a body, not gold. And, when Owen brought Celia back to the cellar, they interrupted someone in the process of digging up the body. Police Detective Nicholas Greaves isn't at all happy to find Celia once again involved in his murder investigation. And, since he and Frank Hutchinson are long-time foes, he'll need convincing that Hutchinson wasn't involved.

Herriman's latest historical mystery is a complicated one with a large cast of characters. It's rich in detail of the history of San Francisco, with accounts of plans to flatten the hills in the city, and the mining and shady histories of many of the residents. The stories of the main characters, Celia Davies and Nicholas Greaves, stretch back to the Crimean and Civil Wars. It's not easy to wrap your mind around all the details and characters while reading this book. This is a dense, leisurely paced mystery.

Readers really should go back and read No Comfort for the Loss first. Meet Celia Davies and Nicholas Greaves, two people who are dedicated to get justice. They may not always see eye-to-eye, and they find their way to an answer by different routes, but they're strong characters. And, San Francisco in 1867 needed the type of strong-willed characters that stand up for the victims in No Pity for the Dead.

Nancy Herriman's website is www.nancyherriman.com

No Pity for the Dead by Nancy Herriman. New American Library. 2016. ISBN 9780451474902 (paperback), 357p.

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


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

TLC Book Tour - Home Field by Hannah Gersen

I'm going to do something I normally don't do with a book review. I'm going to use the document TLC Book Tours sent for the book tour for Hannah Gersen's debut novel, Home Field. Then, at the end, I'll write my comments.


Home Field coverAbout Home Field

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 26, 2016)
The heart of Friday Night Lights meets the emotional resonance and nostalgia of My So-Called Life in this moving debut novel about tradition, family, love, and football.
As the high school football coach in his small, rural Maryland town, Dean is a hero who reorganized the athletic program and brought the state championship to the community. When he married Nicole, the beloved town sweetheart, he seemed to have it all—until his troubled wife committed suicide. Now, everything Dean thought he knew is thrown off kilter as Nicole’s death forces him to re-evaluate all of his relationships, including those with his team and his three children.
Dean’s eleven-year old son, Robbie, is withdrawing at home and running away from school. Bry, who is only eight, is struggling to understand his mother’s untimely death and his place in the family. Eighteen-year-old Stephanie, a freshman at Swarthmore, is torn between her new identity as a rebellious and sophisticated college student, her responsibility towards her brothers, and reeling from missing her mother. As Dean struggles to continue to lead his team to victory in light of his overwhelming personal loss, he must fix his fractured family—and himself. When a new family emergency arises, Dean discovers that he’ll never view the world in the same way again.
Transporting readers to the heart of small town America, Home Field is an unforgettable, poignant story about the pull of the past and the power of forgiveness.
*****
I'm a fan of debut novels. And, I love the concept of a novel that says, "The heart of Friday Night Lights", since I loved high school football in my hometown. But, this debut wasn't for me for several reasons. I don't like to read novels that deal with depression. It hits too close to home since my late husband and his mother both suffered from it. I lived with someone who had it. I don't need to read about it. 
But, my biggest problem with the book was the lack of emotion. Call it soul or personality, but the narrator was too detached from the story. I didn't feel as if there was any heart in the characters.I actually didn't finish it, only reading about a fourth of the book. 
To be fair to a debut author, though, I'm listing the other blogs for the blog tour. If you're interested in the novel, you may want to read what a couple other bloggers had to say about it. The book just wasn't for me.

Tuesday, July 26th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 27th: A Tattered Copy
Thursday, July 28th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, July 29th: Broken Teepee
Monday, August 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, August 2nd: Lesa's Book Critiques
Wednesday, August 3rd: bookchickdi
Thursday, August 4th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, August 8th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, August 9th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, August 10th: Sweet Southern Home



Monday, August 01, 2016

September Treasures in My Closet - Part 2

Are you ready for day 2 of the curated collection of treasures? This one is a little more of a mixed bag, but it's certainly an interesting list.

I'm discussing two of the titles slightly out of order because they have a similar subject. They're both young adult books. They both deal with Jack the Ripper.

The first book is Matthew Kirby's A Taste for Monsters. In 1888, in London, Jack the Ripper was
terrorizing everyone. Evelyn is a young woman disfigured form working with dangerous chemicals at a matchstick factory, with nowhere to go and living each day in fear. She looks for work at the hospital where her life and most of her jaw was saved. She ends up as a maid for Joseph Merrick, the famous Elephant Man. Evelyn finds a deep kindness in Merrick, who many see as a monster. But, the real monsters are men, and Jack the Ripper's victims haunt Joseph and Evelyn. Evelyn faces her own fears in order to uncover the truth. (Release date is Sept. 27.)

When I was on the panel at Book Expo America, I discussed the book Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, for several reasons. It's the first book published under James Patterson's new children's imprint, JIMMY Patterson Books. The other reason was the subject matter, Jack the Ripper. Audrey Rose Wadsworth was groomed to be the perfect Victorian young lady. But, after the loss of her mother, she is determined to understand the nature of death. She secretly apprentices in forensics, which draws her into the investigation of serial killer Jack the Ripper. To her horror, her search for clues takes her far closer to her sheltered world than she could have imagined. (Release date is Sept. 20.)


Ross King examines a legendary artist in Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. It's the story behind the creation of the Water Lilies, as the horrors of World War I came closer to Paris and Giverny, as a new generation of artists challenged the achievements of Impressionism. At seventy-three, Monet had retired. He had cataracts. Then, he began painting again. (Release date is Sept. 6.)






Joe Gunther, leader of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI), returns in Archer Mayor's Presumption of Guilt. A skeleton is found encased in concrete at the site of a newly decommissioned nuclear power plant. It solves a forty-year-old missing persons case and opens a murder investigation. But, the new case leads to murder and kidnapping. (Release date is Sept. 27.)







I also highlighted Tilar J. Mazzeo's Irena's Children at BEA. It's the true story of Irena Sendler, "the female Oskar Schindler", who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. (Release date is Sept. 27.)








Stalking Ground is Margaret Mizushima's second Timber Creek K-9 mystery  featuring Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner, Robo. Mattie and Robo are called in to look for a woman who went missing in the mountains outside Timber Creek. But, it's mid-October, and a snowstorm is brewing. By the time they find her body, the snow is coming down hard. As their investigation develops, Mattie, Robo, Deputy Ken Brody and veterinarian Cole Walker find themselves in the middle of a killer's stalking ground. (Release date is Sept. 13.)




I'll start by being honest and saying a 1312 page literary work is not for me. That doesn't mean some of you right not want to read Alan Moore's epic novel, Jerusalem. In the half a square mile that was England's Saxon capitol, eternity is lurking. This city embodies the tale of Everything, as told from the gutter, a slum. (Release date is Sept. 13.)







Thomas Mullen's Darktown sounds as if it's ripped from today's headlines. It's about murder, race relations, law enforcement and corrupt police, the uneven scales of justice. It's set in 1948 in Atlanta when the police department is forced to hire its first black officers including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. They're met with deep hostility by their white peers. Then, when a black woman last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. The two men will risk their new jobs and their lives in investigating while navigating a dangerous path. (Release date is Sept. 13.)



Detective Inspector Tony McLean takes on a case in the Scottish countryside in James Oswald's Dead Men's Bones. He's there to investigate the murder/suicide of a prominent politician, and there's a great deal of pressure to wrap up the case. But, McLean sees a connection between another case he's working on. And, investigating that link could be disastrous to his career, and possibly his life. (Release date is Sept. 13.)






Cuyler Overholt's debut mystery, A Deadly Affection, is set in turn-of-the century New York. Meet Dr. Genevieve Summerford, a psychiatrist who prides herself on her ability the understand the human mind. But when one of her patients is arrested for murder, Genevieve fears she may have provoked the murder, and she begins to doubt her training and herself. She just can't believe her patient could have committed the gruesome crime, but her investigation uncovers a dark secret. Should she reveal it, and bring catastrophe to others, or let it alone. If she ignores the truth, her patient will go to the electric chair. (Release date is Sept. 6.)



It's been a while since we've had A Silver Rush Mystery from Ann Parker. In the latest, What Gold Buys, Inez Stannert returns to Leadville, Colorado, where she's one of three partners in the Silver Queen Saloon. Her roving husband, Mark, also returns. They're just in time to discover the body of a soothsayer, Drina Gizzi. And, no one seems to care, other than the three who found the body, Inez, her lover Reverend Justice Sands, and Drina's young daughter. Together, they look for the killer, while Mark connives to drive Inez and Sands apart. (Release date is Sept. 6.)




Patrick Phillips' Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America was one of the most talked about books at BEA. Phillips examines the history of his home county, Forsyth County, Georgia. In 1912, a young girl's murder led thousands of townspeople to celebrate the hanging of two black teenagers, and to set fire to homes and churches. Bands of night riders declared Forsyth "whites only", and 1,100 black citizens fled. The story that begins in the 1830s continues into our own era. In 1987, residents attacked civil rights activists, fighting to "Keep Forsyth White." It takes a native son to uncover a history of racial terrorism. (Release date is Sept. 20.)



The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman is inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment. In the novel, Paris is about to be occupied by the Germans. A young woman, Solange Beaugiron, closes the door to her late grandmother's treasure-filled apartment, not knowing if she'll ever return. Her grandmother, had been a courtesan who cultivated a life of art and beauty to escape her impoverished childhood. Solange's grandmother reveals her story to her granddaughter, using her prized possessions to reveal her secrets. That story helps Solange make her own decisions when necessary. (Release date is Sept. 6.)



I've already heard good reports about the first in Kate Saunders' new mystery series, The Secrets of Wishtide. At fifty-two, Mrs. Laetitia Rodd is the widow of an archdeacon. She lives in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Bentley. Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator, taking on cases found by her brother Frederick. Frederick Tyson is a criminal barrister who has ten children. Laetitia uses her intelligence, discretion, and cover as an unsuspecting widow in her investigations. This time, she takes a position as a governess to look into a young man's "inappropriate" love interest, only to find the family has more secrets to hide than expected. (Release date is Sept. 13.)


Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis is back in Jeffrey Siger's Santorini Caesars. When a young demonstrator is singled out and assassinated by highly trained killers in the heart of Athens, Kaldis is convince the killing was meant as a message. His search for answers take him and his team to the island of Santorini to eavesdrop on a secret meeting of Greece's top military leaders. As international intrigues evolve, there's the treat of another, far more dramatic assassination. (Release date is Sept. 6.)





Keith Stuart's novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, is inspired by his own relationship with his autistic son. In the story, a father and son have struggled to connect. Alex' marriage isn't handling the strain, so he moves in with his best friend. It's not easy to navigate single life and part-time fatherhood. When Alex' son, Sam, starts to play Minecraft, the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. (Release date is Sept. 6.)






Shadows on a Maine Morning is the latest Antique Print Mystery by Lea Wait. Maggie Summer is making big changes in her life. The antique print dealer has taken a sabbatical and moved to Maine to run an antiques mall with Will Brewer, her significant other. And, she's finally going to adopt the daughter she's wanted. But, the troubled girl is only interested in the harbor seals, not adoption. Then someone starts shooting the seals, a fisherman is murdered, and Will confesses a secret from his past. Maggie wonders if she's making the biggest mistake of her life. (Release date is Sept. 9.)




The final book is another hot title from BEA, Colson Whitehead's novel, The Underground Railroad. It's the story of a young slave's desperate bid for freedom as she flees after killing a young white boy who tries to capture her. The Underground Railroad is not a metaphor in this story. It's an actual network of tracks and tunnels. When a slave catcher sets out to find Cora, she's forced on a dangerous journey, state by state, in a desperate attempt to gain her freedom. (Release date is Sept. 13.)

Is there something in the list of books from the last couple days that caught your attention? What are you going to order from your local library or bookstore? Happy Reading!