Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Are You Reading?

The next couple days brings Treasures in My Closet, the April book releases. So, I thought we'd use today to talk about what we're reading. I'm reading Hester Young's debut novel from 2015, The Gates of Evangeline. Her second book, The Shimmering Road, is out, and I'm moderating a panel she's on in a couple weeks at The Tucson Festival of Books. The Gates of Evangeline introduces Charlotte "Charlie" Cates, a woman who travels to Louisiana to document the story of a young boy who was kidnapped in the 1980s. But, before she took the assignment, the child appeared to her in her dreams.

So, what are you reading today? I know it hasn't been long since we discussed our books, but if we don't do it today, it won't be until Saturday. Let's talk books!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

Debut author Gina Wohlsdorf brings a unique style to a combination horror/thriller novel, Security. It's a gory, fast-paced story with non-stop action.

Tessa, property manager for the Manderley Resort, is checking final preparations for the opening of the hotel. Charles Destin, the hotel's owner, is demanding and a perfectionist. Tessa has to check on the hotel manager, who is a practical joker, the high-maintenance chef, the ballroom, the housekeeping staff. But, Destin has demanded a great deal of the security staff and all of the cameras throughout the hotel, so Tessa isn't worried about them. Everything is supposed to be perfect for the high-end clients expected at the resort. But, here's the question. "If security is invisible, how do you know when it fails?"

It's obvious early that something has gone wrong. There's a killer loose, and every staff member is targeted. But, someone is watching on the security cameras, and more than three-quarters of the book is over by the time the reader knows who the unseen narrator and watcher is.

There's not a lot I can say about Security without giving away the twists. A killer, sex, blood, gore, violence, suspense. And, someone is watching.

Gina Wohlsdorf's website is www.ginawohlsdorf.com

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2016. ISBN 9781616205621 (hardcover), 229p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought the book.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Chat - March Cozy Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime

I had to find a napping Jinx so he could have his cameo this month.

Here are the March releases from Berkley Prime Crime.

The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford (2nd Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery)
Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs (18th Tea Shop Mystery, hardcover)
Murder She Wrote: Design for Murder by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain & Renee Paley-Bain (45th Murder She Wrote Mystery)
Cold Pressed Murder by Kelly Lane (2nd Olive Grove Mystery)
Gone With the Twins by Kylie Logan (5th League of Literary Ladies Mystery)
Roux the Day by Linda Wiken (2nd Dinner Club Mystery)


Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Cold Case by Peter Turnbull

He had me with the title, A Cold Case. I'm a sucker for cold cases. Peter Turnbull launches a new mystery series with this book. If future ones are as convoluted as this one, I'll be waiting. I'll also be rooting for the well-developed main character.

Maurice Mundy retired from Scotland Yard as a detective constable. He rubbed a few too many higher ups the wrong way with his methods, and his persistence. But, they did bring him back for the Cold Case Review Team. How much trouble could he get in, investigating a ten-year-old murder case when he's not even allowed to interview suspects?

Mundy is teamed up with Tom Ingram. Ten years earlier, a young boy was found dead in a pond after he disappeared on the way home from a friend's house. It's a sad case. Oliver was the only child of older parents. Mundy and Ingram visit the boy's mother, and then head to the house where Oliver had visited his friend. But, the friend's father makes an odd comment about a woman who was killed the same night Oliver died. When Mundy and Ingram ask a few too many questions, they discover the local police have been investigating a string of murders that go back twenty-some years. And, those questions lead to Mundy's first reprimand in his new job.

It's a good thing Scotland Yard doesn't know about Mundy's inquiries about a case that's even older, one that goes back to his early days as a police officer. Scotland Yard may have considered Maurice Mundy unsuitable for the job of detective, but he's a methodical investigator who plugs away in the search for answers, and justice.

Maurice Mundy isn't particularly appealing. He's actually a lonely man, barely making it on his small pension. He has a surprising personal life. But, he's conscientious and determined.  Readers who appreciate methodical police procedurals will find an absorbing story in Peter Turnbull's introduction to Mundy, A Cold Case.

A Cold Case by Peter Turnbull. Severn House. 2016. ISBN 9780727886835 (hardcover), 186p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Winners, and Not So Sweet Home Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Libby D. from Boca Raton, FL won Carola Dunn's Requiem for a Mezzo. Melanie W. from South Huntington, NY won Murder on a Summer's Day. The books are going out today.

Home isn't quite so sweet in this week's giveaways. April Smith brings us a story of America's heartland, involving McCarthyism, a smear campaign, a sensational trial, and, murder. Home Sweet Home is the story of Calvin Kusek's family. The WWII pilot and attorney and his family relocate to a close-knit community in South Dakota in the 1950s. When a seat in the State Assembly opens, Cal wants to repay the community, and he runs, wins the race, and serves three popular terms. But, when he runs for the U.S. Senate, his wife's past comes back to haunt them, and their neighbors turn on them, condemning them as enemies and spies. There's a trial, but years later, there's a murder. Is there a connection to the events years earlier?

Randall Silvis' Two Days Gone is the story of "The perfect family. The perfect house. The perfect life." All destroyed when the wife and children of a beloved college professor are slaughtered in their home. The professor has disappeared, and is considered the primary suspect. Sergeant Ryan DeMarco doesn't think Thomas Huston is guilty, but the man is gone, leaving behind a manuscript with possible clues to the killer.

Not such happy homes, are they? Which book 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 heading should read either "Win Home Sweet Home" or "Win Two Days Gone." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, March 2 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

What Are You Reading?

Well, whatever I review on Saturday will be as big a surprise to me as to you. I just finished the ten mysteries for the April mystery column, so I have an enormous TBR pile. Unlimited choices! But, choices to be made. And, you'll get to read about those mysteries in upcoming reviews here. They're not the same reviews as I wrote for the column. There are some terrific mysteries coming out in May and June.

So, at the moment, I have no idea what I'm about to start. Instead, tell me what you're reading, please!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tucson Festival of Books

Last year, I went to Phoenix for Left Coast Crime, and I realized how much I missed Arizona in March. Well, let's face it, I always miss Arizona. But, I'm going back this year. I've also missed the Tucson Festival of Books. It's a two-day festival held on the campus of the University of Arizona. And, it's wonderful.

The list of authors goes on and on. Cara Black, Donis Casey, Craig Johnson, Terry Shames are just a few of the mystery authors. Authors such as Brunonia Barry, Alice Hoffman, Paulette Jiles, Lisa See, Douglas Brinkley, David Maraniss, Richard Reeves, Amy Dickinson.

I'm moderating a panel on the Sunday of the event. It's called Deadly Debuts, and features Gina Wohlsdorf, author of Security, and Hester Young, author of The Gates of Evangeline and The Shimmering Road. Those books are next on my TBR pile.

Then, when the festival is over, and I'm back in the Phoenix area for a couple days, I'll grab the opportunity to go to The Poisoned Pen and see Jacqueline Winspear.

In the meantime, the 70 degree temperatures we've had here are just giving me a taste of heat. I'm looking forward to a March long weekend in Arizona.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Happy Hollisters

The Stratemeyer Syndicate published more than Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins
and Tom Swift. They published a series of thirty-three books by "Jerry West", whose real name was Andrew E. Svenson. My sister, Linda, and I devoured these books on a camping trip. Our public library only had the first book, but Linda's best friend, Patty, owned the series. Linda told me recently that she was always envious of Patty since she owned those books.

But, one summer, we were going on a month-long trip. We were each allowed fifteen books, so Linda and I made sure we took books that the other person wanted to read. Patty was kind enough to lend us some of the Happy Hollister books. The books had titles such as The Happy Hollisters and the Ice Carnival Mystery (set in Quebec) and The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery.

Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue. They ranged in age from twelve down to four, the ages of the expected readers. The children in the family were modeled on Svenson's own children. But, the mysteries! The Happy Hollister mysteries were for a younger audience than Nancy Drew, up to about age twelve. The family traveled, but even in the first book, when they moved to their new home, there was a mystery. And, the children became amateur sleuths.

The first book in the series was The Happy Hollisters. The books were written from 1953 to 1969. Since Linda and I were reading them in the sixties, we were the perfect audience for these mysteries. The rights were given to the family after Svenson's death in 1975, and, beginning in 2010, the estate started reissuing the books.

Now, they have a new website, and a new place to discover these books. It's at www.The HappyHollisters.com. These illustrated mysteries bring back such wonderful memories of sharing them with Linda on our trip.

So, how many of you read The Happy Hollisters? I know they're not as well known as the other books from the Stratemeyer Syndicate. But, these books set me on the path of becoming a mystery reader.

Monday, February 20, 2017

"In the Bleak Midwinter"

No, unfortunately, I'm not running that series on my blog. I'm also the blogger for The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, and I've been running that series on their blog. Craig Johnson is the guest author over there today. I asked a few authors to recommend some titles for winter reading, with the theme "In the Bleak Midwinter". Since I was working all weekend, and haven't had a chance to read anything for the blog, I'm going to refer you to that site. Scroll through some of the posts for the month, and find the ones that say, "In the Bleak Midwinter". It's at www.poisonedpen.com, and click on blog.

In the meantime, it will be a couple days until I'm up to speed here again. Thanks for giving me the time.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Have You Heard? - Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle

“Have You Heard?” is a column featured only on Lesa’s Book Critiques.  It features many reviews of audiobooks (fiction, with a concentration in mysteries) but these reviews will include recent and past books for an interesting mixture of titles. Content is usually written by Sandie Herron.  It also covers news of note and not generally available, such as ASAP publishing a limited edition for a certain author or perhaps something important out of Publisher’s Weekly.  The column is published sporadically, so you’ll want to watch for it!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61hY-H2IAqL._AA300_.jpgLatte Trouble
Coffee House Mystery #3
Written by Cleo Coyle, Narrated by Rebecca Gibel
Unabridged Audiobook, Listening Length: 8 hours and 7 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Audible.com Release Date: November 9, 2011
ASIN: B00654G23Y

The third coffee house mystery was an intriguing trip through the various facets of the fall Fashion Week in Manhattan.  One of the most famous and accomplished designers literally designed her new line of jewelry based on the coffee bean while visiting the Village Blend coffee house.  Lotte Harmon insisted on opening the show at the Village Blend.

The show's debut was a huge success with patrons squeezing into every available nook.  Customers out numbered staff, so a special drink was prepared with soy and destined for Lotte Harmon.   It was a disaster when another thirsty customer swiped her drink from the serving tray.  He took a large swig and began to turn pink, convulse, and died in rapid succession.  The victim's mate also had a sip, but CPR was begun and an ambulance called, so he never got completely oxygen deprived.

Was this a deliberate poisoning?  Who was the intended victim?  Lotte or the man who died?  And who added the poison to the drink?  Cops circled the scene and focused on Tucker, the barista who made the drink and attempted to serve it to Miss Harmon.  Clare Cosi, manager of the blend doubted Tucker was guilty but had no alibi to prove his innocence. Tucker was sent to Ryker's Island prison for safekeeping.  

Clare quickly began her own investigation. She went with a disguise and the owner of The Blend to a formal reception on a business rival's yacht all a twitter about Lotte's return to build her line again.  Clare's ex-husband Matte ended up in a fight on the yacht, pointing out another suspect.

Clare kept believing in Tucker and continued building her case.  Answers were unexpected and the ties between them also surprising.  The suspects had been alluded to early in the story yet it was done so casually and slipped in so well that I easily forgot the solution right in front of me!  A very enjoyable and recommended read.

Reviewed by Sandie Herron

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth

If you're a fan of the issue-oriented novels of Jodi Picoult or Lisa Genova, you might want to try Sally Hepworth's The Mother's Promise. I'll admit, it was a difficult book for me to get through. But, I'm a wimp who likes even my mysteries to end on a satisfying note. These three authors write realistic stories that don't always have happy endings.

Zoe Stanhope suffers from social anxiety disorder. From the time she went to kindergarten, she experiences panic. Her first slumber party was a disaster. And, whether or not they're actually looking at her, Zoe always feels as if people are staring at her. As a teenager, it's worse than ever. She reluctantly agrees to go on a double date with her best friend, only to crash at the last minute. It's her mother, Alice, who has always been there for her. As a single mom, Alice understands her daughter's fears and needs. She's Zoe's safety net. And, then Alice is diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. It's only then that Zoe's mother realizes there is no other safety net for Zoe.

Alice has to turn to two other women for help, but they are needy themselves. And, one of them causes a crisis in Zoe's world when she intervenes. It's a story that allows the three women, and Zoe, to face their fears, and deal with their problems. Without going into detail, these women have innumerable issues.

The Mother's Promise is an emotionally intense, heart wrenching story. It's a novel with a bittersweet ending, featuring women who have to step up with courage. I wouldn't have read the novel if I hadn't been reviewing it for a journal, and, I won't say I'm "happy" that I read it. But, The Mother's Promise fulfilled Hepworth's intention. Her story is about the strength of a mother's love, and what she'll do for her child.

Sally Hepworth's website is www.sallyhepworthauthor.com

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth. St. Martin's Press. 2017. ISBN 9781250077752 (hardcover), 336p.

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Winners and a 1920s British Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Copies of Terry Shames' An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock will be going to Andi D. from Phoenix, AZ and Elaine R. from Jamesville, NC. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away mysteries set in the 1920s in England. In Carola Dunn's Requiem for a Mezzo, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple attends a performance of Verdi's Requiem with Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher. But, the pleasant performance is disrupted when the mezzo-soprano falls dead onstage. There are a number of suspects, and Daisy is determined to help Fletcher, whether he wants help or not.

Frances Brody brings us Murder on a Summer's Day. When the India Office needs help in finding Maharajah Narayan, last seen hunting on the Bolton Abbey estate, they call on renowned amateur detective Kate Shackleton to investigate. But, the missing persons case turns to murder. And, there's a  missing valuable diamond. Vengeance takes many forms as Kate discovers as she digs into the case.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. With such long titles, we'll use the authors' names for this giveaway. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win Dunn" or "Win Brody." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Feb. 23 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Montgomery Rabbit by Sandy Little

Sandy Little's juvenile book, Montgomery Rabbit, has won several awards for early readers from various independent publishing groups, including an IPPY bronze medal. Second or third graders could read the book, but anyone would enjoy the story of a rabbit who falls into an adventure. The illustrations by David Wenzel are stunning.

Montgomery Rabbit is a lop-eared rabbit who lives in an enclosed yard. A young girl in dusty boots brings him raspberries in a silver bowl. He is quite content until the day she was late. He grows restless, and when he hears a rustle outside the hole in the fence, he peers through it. On the other side, he sees a gray field rabbit. His curiosity turns into an accidental adventure when he falls through the hole, and can't get back. He tries following the rabbit, but when he wears himself out, he stops in an open spot. The rabbit warns him he could be picked off by a hawk by sitting there. When Bentley, the field rabbit, introduces himself, the two are on the way to friendship.

The book is a story of friendship, of adventure as the two rabbit search for a fabled raspberry patch. Along the way, they have to help each other. They also find others along the way who guide them. Little's first book is a charming story of two strangers who develop a friendship despite their different appearances, different backgrounds, and different experiences. It's an interesting tool for discussion of differences and similarities with children.

Montgomery Rabbit is a delightful book to read with children. It's a book with such a subtle message that it can be read just as an enjoyable story. As I said, it's an award-winning book. But, before you pick up the book, I urge you to check it out on Amazon (have you ever seen me say that?), where you can see some of Wenzel's illustrations for this book. As enjoyable as the story is, the illustrations add so much. They're lush, beautiful pictures that add to the warmth of the story.

Montgomery Rabbit by Sandy Little. Illustrations by David Wenzel. Dog Ear Publishing. 2015. ISBN 9781457542923 (hardcover), 76p.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James

I'll admit I'm prejudiced because I am a librarian, but anyone who has attended a conference, or worked in a job where gossip swirls, will appreciate the conversations in Miranda James' latest Cat in the Stacks mystery, Twelve Angry Librarians. James easily entwines two facets of Charlie Harris' life, personal and professional, in this entertaining story. And, for all of us who love cats, of course there's Diesel, the Maine Coon cat with his own personality.

As interim director of the library at Athena College in Mississippi, Charlie is a reluctant participant in the Southern Academic Library Association's annual conference. Because the college is this year's host, he must make a welcoming speech and moderate a panel, two things he tries to avoid if at all possible. And, when he finds out that a former graduate school classmate is the keynote speaker, he's angry again, years later. Charlie hadn't seen Gavin Fong in years, and he's already causing problems for Charlie's co-worker, Lisa Krause, chair of local arrangements. The conference has barely started when Charlie has a public confrontation with him. Charlie is embarrassed, but it isn't long before he learns there are a number of other people with equal reasons to detest Gavin Fong. None of them are unhappy when Gavin drops dead just minutes after he gets up to speak.

Charlie admits he's nosy. He also knows he wants to be helpful. He just can't help himself. He asks questions of fellow librarians, and tries to piece together the answers to the mystery. Who killed Gavin Fong? The conference and his curiosity keep his mind off of other subjects. The university is searching for a new director and Charlie debates whether he should throw his hat in the ring. There are family issues that trouble him. If he can poke around in a murder investigation, he can forget about his personal life. However, Charlie Harris is always careful to call the lead investigator with helpful bits of information.

James' latest story is entertaining. Mystery fans should watch for recognizable names to pop up in the course of the convention. Diesel is still as engaging as ever, with his chirps and affectionate behavior. The solution to the mystery is clever, and appropriate. Twelve Angry Librarians should be a hit with so many readers; cat lovers, cozy mystery readers, and, of course, not-so-angry librarians.

Visit Miranda James' website at www.catinthestacks.com

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. 2017. ISBN 9780425277788 (hardcover), 259p.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What Are You Reading?

If it feels a little early for What Are You Reading?, it probably is. I read three books over the weekend, reviewed two of them on the blog, but it's harder to finish the next one on a work day. I'm reading Miranda James' forthcoming Cat in the Stacks mystery, Twelve Angry Librarians. With that title, of course I'm enjoying it. But I have something for you to watch for when you read the book. James has a good time with the names of the librarians in this book. It didn't hit me until I saw Bob Coben and Harlan Crais in conversation. So, watch for librarians with the last names of Muller, Pickard, Dunlap, Matera. Then there's Mitch Handler who writes as Berger Mitchell. I'm enjoying the tributes to other mystery writers. I'm only on page 100 or so. The librarians' conference isn't over yet in the book, so there may be more. It's fun to stumble across ones I recognize.

What are you reading today, or this week? I'd love to know!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Return of the Raven Mocker by Donis Casey

I'll admit I read Donis Casey's mysteries as much for the story of Alafair Tucker's life as I do for the mystery itself. This farm wife and mother of ten has a wisdom gained from appreciation of her elders' knowledge, and from the hard daily life of an Oklahoma wife and mother in the early twentieth century. All of her skills come into play in The Return of the Raven Mocker.

It's 1918. The war is on the minds of everyone in Boynton, Oklahoma. Most of the men are at war, even Alafair's seventeen-year-old, who enlisted at sixteen. The doctors have been taken for the war effort. So, when the influenza pandemic finally reaches Boynton, it's up to the women in town to handle the homefront battlefield, tending the sick, trying to keep the healthy well. When Alafair's daughter and son-in-law fall to the flu, she and her married daughters put together a plan before her husband, Shaw, even knows it. Alafair moves to town while one daughter and her husband move to Shaw's farm, and all of the school age children and the young grandchildren move to another daughter's farm. She plans the farm quarantine, and then goes to town to take care of Alice and her husband.

Alafair tends the sick, talks to her daughter, Martha, who is in charge of the Red Cross women who are doing what they can for the victims, reads the mail from her sons. But, it's the tending to the sick that takes all of her energy and time, hours of laundry, and cooking, and trying to keep them alive. She does get a little relief talking across the fence to Nola Thomason, Alice's neighbor. But, when screams take her to the Thomasons' house, she finds Nola and her adult son, Lewis, dead. However, after tending the sick, Alafair suspects Nola and Lewis did not die from the flu. It's her daughters who remember Alafair's grandmother telling stories of violent deaths when the Raven Mocker thought a victim was evil. Alafair doesn't want to believe in the old tale, but she knows something was wrong with how the Thomasons died.

In Donis Casey's skilled hands, Alafair Tucker and her family once more come to life. Casey excels in relating the day-to-day details of their lives. In this case, it's the details of how a community quarantined itself, shutting schools and churches and businesses. There are all the details as Alafair nurses the sick, including the details of the country remedies. The book mentions the reluctance of morticians to handle the dead, the fear that people had as so many died. Yet, in the midst of war and the flu, there was still murder. And, Alafair Tucker, with her deep understanding of people, and her motherly skill of listening closely to people, finally discovers the killer at the Thomasons'.

The Return of the Raven Mocker is a successful story of Oklahoma life in the early twentieth century, and murder, as only Donis Casey can write it.

Donis Casey's website is www.doniscasey.com

The Return of the Raven Mocker by Donis Casey. Poisoned Pen Press. 2017. ISBN 9781464207363 (paperback), 218p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.

The Violated by Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini's standalone, The Violated, is pitch-perfect. The crime story is told from multiple viewpoints, but the story flows easily from one voice to the next. Sometimes, that could be confusing, difficult to follow, and it might throw off a reader. Not with this story. It's the perfect way to demonstrate how crime destroys a community, person by person.

When two young boys find a body in Echo Park in Santa Rita, California, many of the townspeople view it as the end of a crime spree. Martin Torrey was a registered sex offender, and a suspect in the violent rape of four women in town. Police Chief Griffin Kells and Detective Robert Ortiz have been working the case for months, with no evidence to arrest Torrey. Now, someone has taken justice into their own hands and killed the man suspected by the entire community. Ortiz had suspected Torrey from the very beginning. Kells had his doubts.

Now, Kells and Ortiz have a murder investigation. Although they face pressure from the mayor and others in town to call Torrey the rapist, and close the case, they're determined to find the correct answer, using their limited resources. And, most people in Santa Rita hope the murder solved the rape cases. Even so, the community is angry and uneasy. The two police officers, the mayor, the owner of the newspaper, the rapist's victims, the dead man's wife and her sister all have opportunities to tell their stories. But, the tragedies haven't ended in Santa Rita.

The Violated is a powerful novel revealing the ripples that spread from crime. How many lives are affected? How many people are destroyed? Pronzini allows the people of Santa Rita to share their perspectives, and the number of ways they've been hurt.

Mystery Writers of America named Bill Pronzini a Grand Master. The Violated is just one more reason why he deserves it.

The Violated by Bill Pronzini. Bloomsbury. 2017. ISBN 9781632866608 (hardcover), 252p.

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Audie Awards - Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

The Audie Awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. The Audio Publishers Association has been presenting them since 1996. Now that Sandie Herron is reviewing mystery audiobooks for Lesa's Book Critiques, under "Have You Heard?", it makes sense to share the nominees in the Mystery and Thriller/Suspense Categories. Sandie compiled the information for today's blog.

The nominees in the Mystery category are:

Crimson Shore
Written by: Douglas Preston , Lincoln Child
Narrated by: Rene Auberjonois
Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins 

Series: Pendergast, Book 15
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:11-10-15
Publisher: Hachette Audio

The Crossing
Written by: Michael Connelly
Narrated by: Titus Welliver
Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins 

Series: Harry Bosch, Book 20
Series: Mickey Haller, Book 6
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:11-03-15
Publisher: Hachette Audio

A Great Reckoning: A Novel
Written by: Louise Penny
Narrated by: Robert Bathurst
Length: 13 hrs and 33 mins 

Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-30-16
Publisher: Macmillan Audio

The Heavens May Fall
Written by: Allen Eskens
Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins 

Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:10-04-16
Publisher: Tantor Audio

Written by: Joe Ide
Narrated by: Sullivan Jones
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins 

Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:10-18-16
Publisher: Hachette Audio

And, in the Thriller/Suspense Category, the nominees are:

Cross Justice
Written by: James Patterson
Narrated by: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins 

Series: Alex Cross, Book 23
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:11-23-15
Publisher: Hachette Audio

The Fall of Moscow Station
Written by: Mark Henshaw
Narrated by: Eric G. Dove
Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins 

Series: Red Cell, Book 3
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-23-16

Hidden Bodies
Written by: Caroline Kepnes
Narrated by: Santino Fontana
Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins 

Series: You, Book 2
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:02-23-16

Home: Myron Bolitar Series, Book 11
Written by: Harlan Coben
Narrated by: Steven Weber
Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins 

Series: Myron Bolitar, Book 11
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:09-20-16
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

The Short Drop
Written by: Matthew FitzSimmons
Narrated by: James Patrick Cronin
Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins 

Series: Gibson Vaughn, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:12-01-15
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Congratulations to all of the nominees, authors and narrators.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Winners & A Samuel Craddock Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Sonia G. from Syosset, NY will receive Cinnamon Toasted. Just Killing Time goes to Susan B. from Seattle, WA. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I'm giving away two copies of An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock by Terry Shames. Although this is the sixth in the series, don't hesitate to enter the giveaway, even if you've never read any of the earlier books. This one takes Craddock back to his early days as Police Chief in Jarrett Creek, Texas. Craddock has to deal with prejudice, his own awareness of his lack of experience in his job, and public perception, when a house fire reveals the murdered bodies of five young black people. It's a powerful, thoughtful novel.

I'm going to make this easy for you. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading only needs to read "Win Samuel Craddock." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

What Are You Reading?

I just started Bill Pronzini's new standalone, The Violated. I'm not reviewing it until I finish, but I'm sailing through it. It's obvious why he's a Grand Master. In the opening scene, a man is found murdered, a sex offender whose presence and discovery in a California town has upset everyone. He was suspected of four rapes before his death, but none of the women identified him. Pronzini tells the story from the viewpoints of the police chief, the mayor, the wife of the victim, the rape victims, the investigating detective. It moves quickly, and as skillfully between perspectives as you would expect from Pronzini. Terrific book so far.

So, what are you reading? A mystery? Story collection? Fiction? Nonfiction? Tell us what book is your escape this week. We'd love to know!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Always by Sarah Jio

Sarah Jio puts a new spin on homelessness in her latest novel, Always. We all know it can happen to anyone. But, do you expect to find the man you loved living on the streets?

Kailey Crane's life is just about perfect. She has a wonderful job as a reporter for the Seattle Herald. She's getting married to a wonderful man, Ryan. She should be perfectly happy. But, she and Ryan agree to disagree when it comes to his businesses and her investigative reporting. She puts her heart into her stories, including her latest one about development pushing out the homeless in Seattle. Then, one night after dinner at a restaurant, a homeless man looks familiar to Kailey. When she looks into his eyes, she recognizes Cade, the man she loved ten years earlier, the man who disappeared from her life.

Where has Cade been for ten years? How did a successful record producer end up on the streets of Seattle? It's a mystery Kailey is determined to solve. First, though, she's determined to help the man she once loved. He may not recognize her. He seems to have lost his memory. But, she knows somewhere inside is the man she thought was the love of her life. And, Kailey Crane is willing to turn her life upside down to help him.

There's a comment in this book that Kailey and Ryan agreed not to talk about the ghosts of their youthful loves. But, it's obvious from the beginning where this book is headed. And, the ending is just a little too happily-ever-after pat for me. From the moment Kailey sees Cade on the street, she and her former roommate are drawn back into his life. Jio alternates the chapters, showing Kailey's life in 2008, and her life in 1998 when she first fell in love with Cade. Jio says she wanted to show the Seattle she remembered, the music, the life. She wrote about the Seattle she loved in the 1998 chapters, and the business world of Seattle in 2008. The connection? Kailey Crane, a woman who remembers with her heart. At times, the story seems too simple. But, it isn't simple for Kailey.

Homelessness. Brain injury. Remembered love. Seattle. Sarah Jio brings them all together in her latest novel, Always.

Sarah Jio's website is www.sarahjio.com

Always by Sarah Jio. Ballantine Books. 2017. ISBN 9781101885024 (hardcover), 288p.

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