Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Book Of Life by Deborah Harkness

In this concluding book of the trilogy, Diana Bishop and Matthew De Claremont have returned to the present from the past. Diana is pregnant with twins although that shouldn't be possible. For Diana is a witch and Matthew is a vampire and such an unlikely pairing should not be able to reproduce.

But there are bigger issues. Matthew decides to break away from the De Claremont family and start a branch of his own. He is fighting to control his own illness, the blood rage that afflicts some vampires. Worst of all, his son Benjamin has declared war on the family and is killing anyone Matthew holds dear.  Matthew knows Benjamin's goal is to capture and kill Diana.

But Matthew and Diana are not without weapons. Diana has one of the lost pages from the legendary Book Of Life. If they can locate the book, they might have the key to defeat their enemies and overcome the stigma of two different species mating. With a support team made of scientists, witches and vampires they set out on their quest to find the book.

Harmless has written a satisfactory conclusion to her series. Fans will enjoy returning to Matthew and Diana's world and will cheer them on. Then author treads the fine line that separates fantasy from farce and makes her world and the fantastical events believable. This book is recommended for readers of fantasy and paranormal books.

BIG NEWS!  The Book Of Life has just been released in paperback.  To celebrate, the publisher has some great giveaway items!  You can enter to win a boxed set of the trilogy, a mirror or the six buttons shown below.  Just comment on this post with your email and which of the prizes you'd like (you can enter for one or all).  I'll choose the three winners on May 29th by random draw.   I'll notify the winner for addresses and great stuff will come in the mail!  Winners have three days to respond.  Good luck!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on the street in San Francisco walking to a meeting with an undercover agent when he sees her.  The woman is striking; blonde, muscular, dressed to impress in black with a high-necked turtleneck top.  She notices him also and their eyes lock.  A minute later, she is gone and his agent is lying dead in the street.  Did she kill him?

Roarke can't forget her and starts an investigation into his undercover agent's death.  Soon he has found other cases of male murders where a woman in a turtleneck was nearby, sometimes listed as a witness, sometimes a suspect.  He begins to believe that the woman is a killer who has been operating for many years.  What drives her?  Roarke spent years in the FBI profiling section and knows that female killers just don't exist.  Has he found the first?

Meantime, she is on the run.  She knows how to disappear as she has lived off the radar for years.  As she searches for cover, she finds refuge with a family.  A family like she will never have.  A family like she has yearned for.  Will they bring her peace or are they in deadly danger?

Alexander Sokoloff has written a suspense novel that will have readers on the edge of their chairs.  The menacing atmosphere is done extremely well, and the pacing is fast, pacing the reader quickly through the story.  This book is the first of a series, of which three novels have been released.  It was a Suspense Magazine Pick for Best Thriller of 2012 and an ITW Thriller Award Nominee for Best ebook Original Novel.  The reader will turn the last page eager to read the next in the series.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Catherine Ravenscroft has a secret.  She has kept it hidden for decades and by now she can tell herself it never mattered anyhow.  She has a great job at which she excels, a successful marriage and a family.  She and her husband have just downsized after their son is out on his own.  Of course, it's not the job Catherine would have chosen for him and they had worried about whether he was doing as well as some of his peers, but all in all, everything is great.

But Catherine has an enemy she didn't know existed.  She discovers this when a novel is sent to her house and she picks it up and starts to read it.  There is the usual disclaimer at the beginning that no one in the book is based on real characters, but the disclaimer is a lie.  The book is the story of Catherine's secret, the one she thought no one else knew.  Now it is in print for anyone to read and put the pieces together to identify her.  Catherine is made ill by the situation, and must now hide not only her secret but her reaction to it.

But her enemy is not done.  He is determined to destroy Catherine and soon the secret is affecting every aspect of her life.  Her marriage, her relationship with her son, her work are all affected.  Is there anything she can do, or must she sit quietly and watch her life being destroyed?

This suspense novel works.  The structure is perfect for the gradual revealing of the mystery.  It moves back and forth between the past when the secret occurred, the recent past and the present when the secret starts to unravel.  As the time periods move closer, the suspense is ratcheted up a notch, over and over and over.  The twists and turns and gradual revealings are full of surprises for the reader and they question if what they know is the truth, or if like a kaleidoscope, a shake reveals a totally different picture.  The author works for the BBC writing scripts for various projects and her expertise is evident throughout.  This book is recommended for mystery and suspense readers.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Killer, Come Hither by Louis Begley

Jack Dana is a war hero, a Marine infantry officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  He is severely wounded and spends months in the hospital in recuperation.  While there, he writes a novel based on his experiences.  Out of the hospital, he rejoins his uncle Harry, who raised him.  Harry, who is a partner in an influential Manhattan law firm, uses his connections to get Jack in contact with publishers and his novel is published.  It becomes a huge hit and Jack quickly starts work on a second.  When it is also published and successful, Dana decides it is time for a vacation and heads to the remote areas of South America for several months.

He returns to a shock.  His uncle, Harry, is dead, a suicide.  Jack can't believe it.  Harry had shown no signs of anything wrong when Jack left.  He starts to look into the death and soon comes to believe that it is not suicide.  With the help of two of the firm's other lawyers, his best friend who works for the CIA, and several of Harry's oldest friends, Jack uncovers a plot that reaches across the country and will have major implications when revealed.  By doing so, he brings attention and danger to himself.  Can Jack find justice for Harry without being killed himself?

Louis Begley has written a mystery that shows life among the moneyed and influential.  Dana is a sympathetic character, a hero who is willing to continue to fight for justice.  The reader will be transported to the Cape, Manhattan and South America while the story unfolds.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, May 15, 2015

Things are winding down on my hectic schedule with my daughter.  Dance is over for the year this weekend, and school is done for the year next week. Only two more days to get up early!  One of my favorite times to read is when I wake up in the morning and don't have to get up immediately, but can take my time and read for an hour or so.  On to summer and relaxed days with lots of reading!  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  High Country Nocturne, Jon Talton, mystery, sent by publisher
2.  The Handless Maiden, Dorothy Black Crow, mystery, sent by author
3.  The Kindness, Polly Sampson, literary fiction, sent by publisher
4.  Pilgrim Wheels, Neil Hanson, travel, sent by publisher
5.  Church Of Marvels, Leslie Parry, literary fiction, sent by publisher
6.  The Harvest Man, Alex Grecian, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  Love Is Red, Sophie Jaff, mystery, sent for book tour
8.  Disclaimer, Renee Knight, mystery, sent for book tour
9.  Seveneves, Neal Stephenson, fantasy, sent by publisher
10.  The Jesus Cow, Michael Perry, literary fiction, sent for book tour
11.  A Deadly Wandering, Matt Richtel, nonfiction, sent for book tour

Here's what I'm reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Disclaimer, Renee Knight, hardback
3.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  Killer, Come Hither, Louis Begley, paperback
7.  LA Rotten, Jeff Klima, Kindle
8.  All I Have In This World, Michael Parker, paperback
9. The Strangler Vine, MJ Carter, Kindle Fire
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback

 Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blood Ties by Nicholas Guild

A vicious serial killer is stalking the women of San Francisco.  His main motivation seems to be inflicting the maximum amount of pain and suffering before their death.  The SFPD has tied together four murders, with different methods and victim types but enough community in their type to be identified as the work of the same killer.  He doesn't leave clues and he isn't the typical sloppy killer.

Ellen Ridley, a young homicide detective, is put in charge of the case along with her mentor and partner, Sam.  After lots of investigative legwork, they have a suspect.  Stephen Tregear is a brilliant computer coder who works in security for the U.S. Naval Intelligence agency.  He is considered a high security asset and, although a civilian under contract, is monitored and protected by the military.  Can such a man be their killer?

After meeting with the suspect and some DNA evidence, Tregear's fantastic story seems to be true.  The killer is not Tregear but his father, Walter.  Stephen hasn't seen Walter since he was twelve.  That was the night Stephen discovered a woman's body in their garage after his father had gone to bed.  Stephen ran away that night and never looked back.  His intelligence and mathematical ability had rescued him and given him a life, but his purpose has always been the same: to find Walter and bring him to justice.  Walter wants to find Stephen also, but to kill the only person who got the best of him.

Stephen, Ellen and Sam team up to discover Walter's location and hopefully bring him in.  Stephen has investigated Walter over the years and suspects that Walter's death toll may exceed a hundred victims.  Can the team find their target before he finds and kills them?

Nicolas Guild has written one of the freshest, most suspenseful mysteries I've read in quite some time.  The tension between Stephen and Walter, each intent on finding and destroying the other, mounts steadily.  The tie between the two is also explored as Guild digs into the levels of familial connection and love.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Abduction Of Smith And Smith

The United States is in chaos as the Civil War ends.  State has fought against state and an entire generation of men have either died or returned home, changed forever.  Jupiter Smith is a former slave who fights for the North.  He returns to the plantation where he grew up, only to find his wife gone.  The rumor is she has gone to San Francisco to wait for him.  Archer Smith is the plantation owner's son and heir and fought for the South.  He returns home, gravely injured, to find his father dead, murdered it's said, by Jupiter.  He also heads for San Francisco to find the man who killed his father and to kill him in turn.

San Francisco is full of men and immigrants all striving for a successful life and most are ready to do anything to carve out that life.  Jupiter takes a job shanghai'ing men to become crew on sailing ships; forcing them into coerced labor that is not much different than the life he endured as a slave.  He spends his time searching for Sonya, his wife.  Just when he gets a lead on her, he is in turn captured and forced into labor on a ship.  Captured along with him is Archer, and the two men must now work out their issues in a life full of labor and dependence on each other.  Complicating the issues is the fact that Jupiter and Archer are brothers, born from the same father but different mothers.  They have a familial bond that has turned to hatred, but they must stick together in order to survive this new life.

Rashad Harrison has written one of the most original, stirring stories I've read in months.  It is full of opium, gun running, piracy, the politics of the Chinese empire, slavery, forced servitude of women, mutiny and many other issues.  The reader is taken through an ever-changing landscape of twists and turns that has their loyalty switching as often as the plot changes.  He explores the issues of the brotherhood bond, and the thorny issue of how one can be honest in an environment where honesty is seen as a weakness and where cunning and the willingness to do anything to survive is paramount.  This book is recommended for readers of both literary and historical fiction.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Flesh And Blood by Patricia Cornwell

It's Doctor Kay Scarpetta's birthday and her new husband, FBI Agent Benton Wesley, has rented a place in Florida for them to have a much-needed vacation.  As Kay drinks her coffee outside, she finds something strange on the wall.  Seven copper pennies are lined up, polished to be as bright as the day they were minted even though the date on them is 1981.  Within minutes, Kay gets a call that puts her vacation on hold.  Someone has shot a local music teacher in his driveway and he is dead.  As head of the Medical Examiner's office, Scarpetta is in charge of overseeing the autopsy.

Things soon get more complicated.  The music teacher is the third victim of a serial sniper, who has killed two other people in the prior weeks.  Each person is shot with what looks like an impossible shot that causes death instanteously.  Scarpetta has personal problems also.  A thug-like insurance investigator is following her and her family, hoping for dirt that will harm her reputation and allow his company to avoid paying claims.  Her niece, Lucy, is acting strange, and rumors are starting to fly about her.  This could be another attack on Kay as Lucy is like a daughter to her.  A local teenage girl is found dead in the pool of a house belonging to a big-money Senator.  Can Kay get to the bottom of these crimes before something horrific occurs in her personal life?

This is the 22nd Kay Scarpetta mystery.  The doctor has changed over the years.  Her main co-worker, Marino, has left her office and is working with the local police.  She is now married to a man she met on the job.  There are throwbacks to events happening years before, and faithful readers will pick up on the clues scattered about.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Golden Age Of Murder by Martin Edwards

The golden age of detective fiction was in the twenty years between the two World Wars.  Although detective fiction had existed earlier, as in the work of Edgar Allen Poe, something about this time frame made the detective novel one of the most successful genres in English literature.  Those who were the early lights of the genre came together in a gathering they called The Detection Club.  It's purpose was to insure the integrity of the genre.  "Thriller" authors were not welcome.  Instead, the novels selected for praise invoked crime solving, with mechanisms such as the locked room mystery.

Some of the founding members are still known today, while others have faded into obscurity.  This book follows in depth several of the founding members.  Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Anthony Berkeley and G.K, Chesterton were original organizers of the club.  Their books were successful and their sales raised the genre to new heights.  They paved the way for later innovations such as the psychological focus of many mysteries today. 

Yet these members often led troubled lives.  Agatha Christie was involved in a famous disappearance where she was incognito for over a week, while police forces busily attempted to find her.  Sayers spent her life hiding a personal scandal, while others in the club were tainted by rumors of infidelity.  Edwards delves into these scandals, while showing how they influenced specific books by different authors.  He shows the influence that various notorious true crime cases had on these authors' writing.  He also spends time exploring how the country's economy, politics, and the coming World War II influenced books. 

As time went on and the founders grew older, newer blood was brought into the club.  The second wave of authors included John Dickenson Carr, Margery Allingham, A.A. Milne of Winnie The Pooh fame, and Gladys Mitchell.  The club still exists today, and Edwards is its archivist.  Newer members include names familiar to mystery readers such as Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell and Ian Rankin.  Readers interested in the environment that led to the rise of the mystery novel will be delighted with this book.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, May 2, 2015

It's hard to believe April is over and May is here.  The azeleas are about through blooming and the trees are all full of new foliage.  School is about over the year with my daughter finishing her junior year of high school.  Next year will be taken up with college applications and hopefully acceptances!

I attended a book sale this past week with a friend.  I was pretty restrained and only bought five books.  Of course, that is probably less due to my restraint and more to the fact that with over seven thousand books in the house, I had a pretty high percentage of the books offered already!

Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  Bridge Of Sighs, Richard Russo, literary fiction, bought at book sale
2.  Paris, Edward Rutherfurd, historical fiction, bought at book sale
3.  Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy Burden, memoir, bought at book sale
4.  The Babes In The Wood, Ruth Rendell, mystery, bought at book sale
5.  My Losing Season, Pat Conroy, memoir, bought at book sale
6.  Dry Bones, Craig Johnson, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  Grace Keepers, Kirsty Logan, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  The Abduction Of Smith And Smith, Rashad Harrison, historical fiction, sent for book tour
9.  Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff, mystery, sent by author
10.  Blood Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff, mystery, sent by author
11.  The Silver Linings, Matthew Quick, literary fiction, purchased
12.  The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls, Anton Disclafani, literary fiction, purchased
13.  Freedom's Child, Jax Miller, mystery, sent by publisher
14.  Bourbon Empire, Reid Mitenbuler, nonfiction, sent by publisher
15.  You Will Never Find Me, Robert Wilson, mystery, sent by publisher
16.  Blood Ties, Nicholas Guild, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Flesh And Blood, Patricia Cornwell, paperback
3.  A Dance For Dragons, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  Huntress Moon, Alexandra Sokoloff,  paperback
6.  Killer, Come Hither, Louis Begley, paperback
7.  The Golden Age Of Murder, Martin Edwards, paperback
8.  All I Have In This World, Michael Parker, paperback
9. The Strangler Vine, MJ Carter, Kindle Fire
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback

 Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy


The reader meets Sarah Brown the night before the execution of her famous father, John Brown.  He is to be hanged for his role in the infamous Harper's Ferry insurrection that played a part in starting the Civil War.  Sarah and her family are cared for during this ordeal by the Hill family.  Both the Browns and the Hills are abolitionists, determined to end the curse of slavery.  Sarah helps in her own way, drawing the maps that help escaped slaves make their way to Canada.

Eden Anderson lives one hundred and fifty years later.  She lives in New Charlestown, near Harper's Ferry with her husband.  They have come to the town to make a new start.  Eden gives up a high-pressure job and tries to reconcile herself to the reality that she may never have a child of her own.  Years of fertility issues have almost ruined her marriage and Eden is at loose ends. 

The two women are connected over the years by several factors.  Both have to reconcile themselves to not being mothers.  The house that Eden is living in is the old Hill house, home to Sarah's greatest friends.  They are also connected by their journey to find meaning and connection in life and to build things that impact the world.

Sarah McCoy has researched the life of Sarah Brown extensively.  After the war, she and her family migrated west, ending up in California.  The reader is introduced to this real-life heroine while seeing how her life might have played out in a modern setting as exemplified by Eden.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

The Great Santini is Pat Conroy's novel about growing up in a Marine fighter pilot's household.  Conroy grew up in such a household, he and his six siblings moving frequently following his father from military post to military post. 

Bull Meecham is the epitome of a Marine fighter pilot.  He is the best flyer, the loudest voiced, the biggest drinker, the quickest to start and finish a fight.  He rules his squadron and his family by sheer force of personality and by his willingness to use his fists whenever he is crossed.  He brooks no resistance from his lovely Southern wife, Lillian, and his four children. 

Ben is the oldest, a son who strives to be good at whatever he does.  He gets good grades, serves as an alter boy, is the best point guard his high school has ever seen.  Mary Ann is his closest sibling, a daughter with little social life due to the constant moves who finds refuge in her books.  Matt and Karen are young and follow their older siblings. 

Ben is caught in limbo.  His father wants him to be a tough, Yankee Marine and someday be a fighter pilot.  He doesn't even consider another future for his son.  His mother wants him to be a Southern gentleman and spends her time trying to mold him into that.  He loves his father and hates him in equal parts.  He admires Bull's accomplishments and knows he can go to him in any emergency for help, but hates the way Bull is quick with his fists to his wife and family, and quick to humiliate his children to enforce his rules.  The book covers Ben's senior year in a new town.  He makes some friends with the local boys, mainly through sports, and with the son of their maid, who introduces Ben to the countryside and the local fishing.  Throughout the year, Ben tries to discover what he wants out of life and how to carve out space for himself when living with a larger than life figure.

I avoided this book for years, even though Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors.  I was afraid of the emotions he would uncover and how I would react to the story.  I can't think of anyone who writes better about the South and what it means to be born and grow up there.  His strength is writing about dysfunctional families and how they love each other through the tears.  Bull Meecham is like many of the fathers I knew growing up, and like my father in ways.  My father was the high school principal and few would cross him, although his was a quiet strength rather than an extroverted one like Meecham.  His word was law and his family did what he laid down first before considering what they wanted themselves.  Conroy knows and writes better about the father-son dynamic than any other writer I know.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin

In the fourth book of the Game Of Thrones series, the war for the throne is about over.  King Joffrey is dead as is Robb Stark.  King's Landing and the kingdom is now ruled by ten year old Tommen and Queen Cersei is serving as the effective ruler until his majority.  Although she has always considered herself a cunning manipulator of others, she immediately starts to make bad decisions.  Only the fact that so many of her foes are displaced or dead allows her reign to continue.

On the Wall, with the ascension of Jon Snow as commander, the war against the Wildlings is over for the moment although that against the Others is just starting.  Jon sends Samwell on a mission and to get reinforcements for the wall.  Elsewhere, traveling bands of soldiers turned thieves after the war rove the land, laying waste and havoc wherever they go.

Sansa and Arya are still alive, but no one knows where they are.  Jaime Lancaster is sent off to resecure the Tully lands, while Brienne travels searching for the Stark girls.  Stannis is up North regrouping for another attempt at the throne while the Iron Men are rampaging on the coast. 

Martin tells the reader in the afterward that so many of the main characters are missing because he realized that his fourth book was too massive and he split it in two.  There were several ways to do this.  He could have split it by time, following all characters sequentially.  Instead he chose to split it by characters.  Some characters are in this fourth book, while the others will be in the fifth with both books covering the same timeframe.  I'm not sure if this was the best choice but it is how he chose to handle things.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers and those interested in the Game Of Thrones series.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Turnip Princess And Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth

Most people are familiar with the Brothers Grimm and the fairy tales they collected and made available.  Others have heard of Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault and their work.  Far fewer have ever heard of Franz Xaver von Schonwerth, although he is a contemporary of the others.  He traveled the rural areas of Bavaria in the 1850's, collecting oral versions of fairy tales told by the people from one generation to the next.  His work, however, was lost, so he never gained the fame of the other individuals who worked in this field.

Jump ahead to 2009.  A researcher, Erika Eichenseer, was astonished to find thirty boxes of von Schonwerth's source material, buried in the archives of a German municipality.  There were over five hundred previously unknown fairy tales.  Now, Maria Tatar, who chairs the program in mythology and folklore at Harvard, has been hired by Penguin Classics to translate these newly discovered tales.  The result is The Turnip Princess.

Readers of these tales will notice several things.  First, they tend to be very short stories, starting and ending abruptly in comparison with a Grimm fairy tale.  The emphasis is much less on princesses and other female protagonists, with males being the focus of the tale just as often as a female.  The tales are dark and violent and have not been rewritten for current sensibilities.  Readers interested in fairy tales and the evolution of the oral tradition will find a treasure trove of new material in this anthology. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, April 21, 2015

It's been a busy couple of weeks!  We've been to Georgia for Easter, then my daughter went back to Atlanta this past weekend for a choir trip.  I got to spend the night in Charlotte and have a great steak dinner out with my husband, which was fun!  This weekend is keeping the grandkids while their parents attend a wedding.  With all that, reading can take a hit but I'm in there trying!  Here's the books that came through the door lately:

1.  The View From Lazy Point, Carl Safina, nonfiction, from Paperbackswap
2.  Voyage Of The Basilisk, Marie Brenner, fantasy, sent by publisher
3.  The Mapmaker's Children, Sarah McCoy, historical fiction, sent for book tour
4.  Find The Good, Heather Lende, nonfiction, won in contest
5.  Rule Of Capture, Ona Russell, mystery, sent by author
6.  The Witch With No Name, Kim Harrison, fantasy, sent by publisher
7.  The Mark On Eve, Joel Fox, time travel, sent by publisher
8.  Find Momo Coast To Coast, Andrew Knapp, nonfiction, sent by publisher
9.  Dean Smith, More Than A Coach, Charlotte observer, biography, birthday gift
10.  The Sussex Downs Murder, John Bude, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  The Cave, Michela Montgomery, dystopian, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  A Feast For Crows, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
6.  Killer, Come Hither, Louis Begley, paperback
7.  The Black Country, Alex Grecian, paperback
8.  All I Have In This World, Michael Parker, paperback
9. The Strangler Vine, MJ Carter, Kindle Fire
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback

 Happy Reading!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah & Skye Chatham

Read Bottom Up is the recounting of a modern love story.  Madeline is in the publishing industry while Elliot is a chef.  They meet in the city where they both live and have some friends in common.  As is common in this digital age, the courtship progresses with the use of text messages, Instagram and emails.  What the reader sees, that the couple does not, is what each individual is thinking behind the electronic messages they are sending.

Both Madeline and Elliot copy their messages and the other's responses to their best friends.  They ask their friends to interpret the meaning of various phases and how committed they think the person is to the relationship.  Nothing is kept back from their friends and every date and word is parsed and mined for data.

While each person in the relationship believes the other is committed, the reader hears about the other people each is pursuing on the side and gets a real feel for how tenuous the relationship is.  Both seem more interested in appearing cool and with-it than looking for ways to increase their intimacy.  Rather than jumping headlong into promises, each person attempts to position themselves so that they appear unconcerned.  As one might expect, the entire affair follows an expected trajectory; initial interest, deepening commitment, then stalling, then distancing, then ending.  The reader is taken along for the entire ride and knows more about the entire relationship than either of the participants.

Neel Shah and Skye Chatham have written a breezy, interesting story that delves into love and relationships in the digital age.  Interestingly, one author lives in Los Angeles while the other is located in New York and they collaborated using the same mechanisms as the couple in the book use for their courting.  When everything is out for the world to parse, it is difficult to build a committed connection to another person.  Intimacy and love grows in an atmosphere where the couple is in a bubble where the other person is everything.  One can't be cool and contained and falling head over heels in love at the same time.  While interesting, the reader turns the last page sorry for the participants and the state of love which is forced to grow under a microscope these days.  This book is recommended for readers of fiction that explores relationships and that attempts to explain the mysteries of love.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Careless In Red by Elizabeth George

After the tragedy in which his pregnant wife was shot and killed on their doorstep, Detective Superintendent Thomas Lynley of Scotland Yard is lost.  The unimaginable crime has him questioning his career choice.  He has always been unconventional.  Lynley is also a titled peer; an earl who put aside his royal duties in order to pursue the career he loves and is good at, catching criminals.   Now he isn't sure what is true and where his life should lead.

Lynley takes off walking the wild trails of England, specifically in Cornwall.  One day he finds the body of a teenager who appears to have had an accident while climbing.  Lynley goes for help at the home of a local resident, a vet named Daidre Trahair.  She admits to knowing the youth and together they call the local police. 

The local police are woefully understaffed, and they request help from Scotland Yard.  Lynley's subordinate, Barbara Havers, is seconded to the investigation.  The local police in charge also ask for Lynley's help even though he tells them that he has left the police department.  Still, he gets pulled in as the witness who found the body and soon finds himself working on the case.

The youth, Santos Kerne, appears to have had several individuals who might have wanted him dead.  His parents are stuck in a tumultuous marriage that has repercussions on those around them, and might have led to a motive.  Santos himself has romantic entanglements that has left  several people with significant grudges against him.  The police will have to carefully work through all the motives and evidence to find the killer.

The death of Helen Lynley was one of the most heartrending literary deaths I can remember.  I had to put the series aside for several years, too crushed to read more about this man and his tragedy.  I'm slowly working back into the series and this is Lynley's first case after Helen's death.  Elizabeth George writes the type of involved, complex mysteries that keeps the reader engaged until the last page.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver

They are, unfortunately, a common sight.  Roadside crosses, covered with flowers and stuffed animals, that mark the spot where a loved one has met death.  Some are temporary while others are maintained carefully and lovingly for years.  Each tell the story of dreams crushed and lives snuffed out.

But in the Monterey Peninsula, these crosses have taken a more sinister turn.  After a teenage wreck in which several popular girls are killed, the community's ire and scorn are heaped upon the teen driver, a gamer outcast named Travis.  No one can understand what a guy like that was doing driving the car of one of the most popular girls, or how he's been allowed to walk free after the wreck.  Sentiment is against him and the readers of the area's most popular blog have plenty to say about Travis and his family.  He is despised, scorned and ridiculed. 

Then new roadside crosses start to appear.  These are different from the usual memorials though.  They don't give the names and dates of those who have died.  Instead, they predict death and give the names of those who have used the blog to heap scorn on Travis.  After their cross is planted, the individuals named are murdered.  A huge manhunt for Travis is started, but he has disappeared.

CBI kinetic expert Kathryn Dance heads up the murder investigation.  She is helped by Deputy Michael O'Neil and local computer expert Jonathan Boling.  Together they try to track Travis through the world of online gaming to determine his next moves and stop the trail of death marked by crosses.

Kathryn Dance is Jeffry Deaver's alternate mystery sleuth.  This is the third novel to feature Dance and readers will be interested in her use of the science of kinetics to unravel suspect duplicity.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

The residents of Ridgedale have woken up to a startling news story.  A body has been found by the Ellis Bridge, near the woods where students go to party and adjacent to the local college campus.  As the story unfolds, it becomes more shocking.  The body is a baby, probably a newborn, although the police aren't releasing much information.  The town, which prides itself on its low crime rate and great educational opportunities, becomes a beehive of rumors. 

Is this another sad case of a teenager who has delivered a baby her parents don't know about and an attempt to hide the result?  Is it the case of a mother and baby who have been killed and the mother's body is yet to be discovered?  Is it related to the town's last criminal death which happened eighteen years before in the same location and was written off as the result of teenage partying and a drunken accident?

The residents react differently, depending on their backgrounds.  Molly is a new reporter, starting over in a new career and town after she and her husband's second baby is stillborn.  Brenda is the queen bee, with the perfect family and married to the police chief.  Her daughter Hannah is also a perfect teenager, who spends her spare time tutoring. One of her assignments is Sandy, who has dropped out of high school to get a job.  Sandy's mom, Jenna, is the girl everyone talked about in high school.  She has brought Sandy back to Ridgedale where she hopes they can get out of poverty.  When the Wall Street finance firms cut back and Stella lost her job and shortly thereafter her husband, she decided to get out of the workforce and try a life of stay-at-home mom.

The story is assigned to Molly.  As she digs into the assignment, she starts to uncover secrets that the town and the individuals involved hoped would never surface.  The baby's death serves as a lens that highlights all the things swept under rugs and relegated to whispers.  Can Molly find out whose baby was left in the woods, and does the town want her to?

Kimberly McCreight has written a book that uses a crime to explore the way women live their lives.  Some are career women, some are housewives.  Some are happily married, some divorced and some floating from man to man.  Each must find a way to live in the town society, which likes to highlight positive things and hide negative ones deeply under the surface.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Ten years ago, fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford disappeared while on a family vacation in Greece.  It was unclear if she was kidnapped or whether she ran away.  No body was ever found and given the difficulties of coordinating with another country, the case went cold.  The family was of little help and seemed strange.  The father was controlling and the mother seemed childish.  The younger sister was very high strung and seemed to have mental issues. 

It was one of the first cases of Detective Lou Smith's career, and she was frustrated and disappointed when the case wasn't solved or any clues developed that led to any conclusions.  Now, Lou has been promoted and as the head of a team, handles multiple cases.  Yet when she hears that Scarlett has been found, alive and well and back in England, she finds time to get involved in the case.

Scarlett was kidnapped all those years ago.  She was forced into prostitution and spent years in various dingy apartments, forced to please men and turn the money over to the pimps.  She had no friends, as girls came and went, and most were too tired and shell-shocked to try to form friendships.  Scarlett was constantly watched, beat up, and given new names periodically.  After a decade, she managed to get away and make her way back to England.

Lou and her team work with the police on the task force on sex trafficking.  There are other connections.  Scarlett had been working in one of the establishments of the local crime boss.  Was this just the only job someone without papers or an education could get, or was Scarlett involved in his crimes?  There seems to be a rivalry heating up in the underworld, and Scarlett seems to know about this.  Then there is her family.  They don't seem that excited or interested in Scarlett's return.  Why aren't they rushing to her side and her defense?

Elizabeth Haynes is a former police intelligence analyst.  This is her fifth novel, and the second one with Detective Lou Smith.  Her former occupation leads authenticity to the novel, giving the reader valuable insight into the real workings of a police investigation.  The book also highlights the horrific world of sex trafficking, a real problem throughout the world, and one that is a top issue for feminists and other women.  This book is recommended for mystery readers who enjoy police procedurals.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Birthdays For The Dead by Stuart MacBride

Scotland has a diabolical serial killer on the loose.  Dubbed The Birthday Boy by the press, he kidnaps young girls right before their thirteenth birthday.  They are never seen again, but each year on their birthday, the grieving parents receive a birthday card.  The card contains a photograph of their daughter bound to a chair.  Each year the girl is shown with signs of more torture, until on the fifth year she is shown dead.

Detective Constable Ash Henderson has been on the case since the start.  He has been demoted due to a mistake in the case that sent his superior officer to jail, and that broke the spirit of the case's forensic officer.  Ash knows more about the killer and the case than anyone, but he has secrets.  No one knows that five years ago his own daughter, Rebecca, was taken, and that Ash and his ex-wife receive the birthday cards each year.  This will be the year her death is shown, and Ash is determined to find the killer.  He has kept Rebecca's capture a secret from the police and everyone else so that he won't be taken off the case.

Things seem to be changing in the investigation.  There are signs the killer is escalating.  Ash gets a new ally in his hunt, a young forensic psychiatrist, Alice MacDonald.  She has demons of her own, but quickly bonds to Henderson.  Together they fight to find the killer before the latest victim is killed.

This is the first novel in the Ash Henderson series.  He is a violent man, but a man whose violence is done in the name of helping those he loves and catching the most evil humans who stalk the land.  Readers who came to know Stuart MacBride from the Detective Logan novels will find Ash a darker man, driven by demons that few can imagine.  MacBride's signature black humor is still to be found and his pacing and twists and turns will prove this is another stellar series.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

In 1933, Alice's story is a common one.  Young and na├»ve, she fell for the admiration of an older, married man.  Inexperienced at love, she believed him when he said his marriage was a farce and that he would divorce his wife and instead marry Alice.  When she gets pregnant, he vanishes and Alice's reputation is on the line.  Her parents are aghast and worried that she has ruined her entire life.  They concoct a story of a hasty marriage where the bridegroom was killed shortly thereafter in an accident, and shuffle her off to her mother's hometown village to wait out the months till the baby's arrival. 

Alice's mother had a best friend who is now the housekeeper at the local estate, Fiercombe Manor.  She agrees that Alice can stay at the manor until the baby comes and help out around the estate.  But since the estate owners now live overseas, returning to the estate infrequently, there is little to do and Alice has lots of time on her hands.  She becomes interested in the history of the manor and of the beautiful Elizabeth, of whom rumors abound.  Elizabeth had been the mistress thirty years before, and married to the headstrong master, Edward.  Edward had hated the manor, thinking it old and inconvenient and had built a new, huge house nearby where the couple lived.  No one seemed to know what happened to the family and even the new house had disappeared, while the heirs went back to the manor to live.

As Alice delves into Elizabeth's history, she starts to feel a connection between them.  For Elizabeth was pregnant the last summer that there is word about her.  Then nothing.  She finds that the couple had a small daughter, but continued to try to have an heir.  Elizabeth had issues with pregnancy and had lost several babies.  Alice can't help but feel that they are connected by their pregnancies.  When Alice meets the young heir to the estate, Thomas, and they begin a friendship, she finds more of the pieces of the mystery.  What is Elizabeth's story and what will Alice's life story turn out to be?

This book is reminiscent of the superstitions and horrors that used to attend pregnancy.  Girls who became pregnant outside of marriage were scorned and humiliated, forced into early marriages with little chance of success or sent off to have their child, which was then taken from them.  Women who were married and pregnant were also surrounded with mystery, spending the last days in seclusion and sent to asylums for months for treatments when they had postpartum depression.  They were considered suicidal, starved and deprived of their children, and given barbaric treatments such as electric shock.  This book reminds the current generation of the struggles of their ancestors.  Today, when having a child outside of marriage is not considered the end of the world and postpartum depression is recognized and treated effectively, women can only imagine the horrors pregnancy could bring to their ancestors.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, March 31, 2015

We've had a week of chilly, rainy days here in NC, but spring has now arrived with warm, sunny days and glorious flowering trees and flowers.  I think everyone's mood lifts when the outdoors is so beautiful.  I've been reading away.  Here's the newest books that have arrived:

1.  The Home Place, Carrie La Seur, literary fiction, sent by publisher
2.  Aunt Dimity And The Summer King, Nancy Atherton, mystery, sent by publisher
3.  Snapper, Brian Kimberling, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
4.  Read Bottom Up, Neel Shah, literary fiction, sent for book tour
5.  Subtle Bodies, Norman Rush, literary fiction, Amazon Vine review book
6.  The Fixer, Joseph Finder, mystery, sent by publisher
7.  The Golden Age Of Murder, Martin Edwards, nonfiction, sent for book tour
8.  Silver Apples Of The Moon, Rebecca James, literary fiction, sent by author
9.  Everybody Rise, Stephanie Clifford, literary fiction, won at Shelf Awareness
10.  Phenomenal, Leigh Ann Henion, travel, sent by publisher
11.  A God In Ruins, Kate Atkinson, literary fiction, sent by publisher
12.  A Scourge Of Vipers, Bruce DeSilva, mystery, sent by publisher
13.  A Tender Struggle, Krista Bremer, literary fiction, sent by publisher
14.  In The Dark Places, Peter Robinson, mystery, sent by publisher
15.  Orhan's Inheritance, Aline Ohanesian, historical fiction, sent by publisher
16.  Beach Town, Mary Kay Andrews, literary fiction, sent by publisher
17.  Missing, Sam Hawken, mystery, sent by publisher
18.  The Panda Theory, Pascal Garnier, mystery, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  A Feast For Crows, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
6.  Roadside Crosses, Jeffrey Deaver, hardback
7.  The Black Country, Alex Grecian, paperback
8.  All I Have In This World, Michael Parker, paperback
9.  Fiercombe Manor, Kate Riordan, paperback
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11. Michael Jordan, A Life, Roland Lazenby, hardback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback
13.  Birthdays For The Dead, Stuart McBride,  Kindle Fire
14  Careless In Red, Elizabeth George, hardback

 Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell

At the end of World War II, a group of English children met to play in what they called the tunnels.  It was really a house foundation that had been dug out and then deserted as construction ground to a halt with laborers off to war, but to a group of kids it was a playground come true.  Deserted with no adults to interfere, the tunnels served as a location to make friends and tell secrets. Finally, one of the fathers found their hideout and ran them off, as adults would, but the friendships begun there would survive.

Now, sixty years later, the group comes back together due to a gruesome discovery.  The foundation was excavated as new construction was started, and a small biscuit tin was found.  Inside the tin were the bones of two hands, one female, one male.  Who had lost their hands and why were the rest of the bodies never found?

The group searched each other out and reunited to see if they could come up with answers.  Some of them had died, of course, and those left were now in their seventies and seeing the end of their own lives.  Secrets were no longer worth keeping, and together they were able to piece together actions that had seemed opaque long ago without the background to interpret them.  As they talked, they discovered relatives that had gone missing and been put down to wartime dislocations.  Were these the couple whose hands had been discovered?

But coming together changed the group.  Some came together as lovers, breaking up long-time marriages in an attempt to find long-lost happiness.  Some discovered that they still could find friendship and ways to be happy.  Some discovered that their worst fears were true and the monsters they thought were childhood fancies were very real indeed.

Ruth Rendell is one of the brightest stars in the mystery genre.  Her career has spanned fifty years and more than sixty books.  She has won three Edgar Awards and made a member of the House Of Lords in England.  Readers will find this book as interesting as those that have come before.  It is recommended for mystery readers and those interested in how age changes us yet leaves us the same.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shady Cross by James Hankins

Stokes is not a good guy, but he'd claim he was not the worst.  Sure, he couldn't hack the nine to five world and had made his living as a petty crook.  He walked out on his wife and baby daughter.  Maybe he made his living as a while as an enforcer for the big boss in Shady Cross.  Maybe he had even gotten in some scuffles that resulted in hospitalizations or funeral homes.

Stokes can't believe his luck when, after a wreck (that he may have caused, but who's ever sure about things like that?) he discovers the other driver dead but a backpack full of money in his car.  Thousands upon thousands of dollars and who could use it more than Stokes?  He could get out of town and make a new life for himself.

But then he answers the guy's cell phone.  On the other end is a little girl crying and saying, "Daddy, are you bringing the money?  They say I can come home if you bring them the money."  What should he do?  On the one hand, a chance for a new life for himself; on the other a chance to save a little girl he'd never met. 

James Hankins sets up this scenario as the introduction to one of the most thrilling, fast-paced novels I've read in months.  The reader is repulsed by Stokes, but on the other hand, as the book unfolds, can't help but to start pulling for him.  Stokes encounters twists and turns and defeat on every front as he races the clock to the kidnappers' deadline.  The reader is pulled along on the nerve-wracking ride, unsure how Stokes will handle each new obstacle.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin

Sasha Martin is the author of a successful foodie blog, Global Table Adventure.  When she was approached with the idea of turning her blog into a book, she thought it would be an easy endeavor.  Instead, she quickly realized that in order for her book to be meaningful, she would have to describe how she came to love food in all its various combinations, and in order to do that, she would have to talk about her own life.  That was something Sasha didn't want to do.

Sasha had a rough childhood.  She and her brother, Michael, spent their early years with their mother in a small apartment in Queens.  There was never much money but there was love and creativity and food, lots of food.  Food was never to be wasted so her mother invented countless ways to make the food budget stretch with lots of ways to use leftovers.  But there were also food celebrations; marvelous family desserts that they might have to save up for months to purchase the ingredients for. 

As Sasha got into school, life became harder and harder for her mother to maneuver on her own.  Soon, the school personnel were reporting the family to Social Services and the children entered the system and a series of foster families, many of which were horrid.  In order to rescue her children, the mother made a huge sacrifice and gave the children to a family friend to raise.  The new family moved frequently due to the father's job, so Sasha and her brother had not only lost their original family but never had a place to call their own that wouldn't be snatched out from under them at a moment's notice.

Once through college, Sasha started an odyssey to discover her life's work.  She worked as a web designer, in marketing, went to cooking school and basically knocked around.  When she ended up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on an internship, something felt right and she made the city her home.  She found a husband and soon had a child.  Determined to give her child the kind of warm, loving childhood she always wanted, she searched for a project.  She came up with the idea of cooking her way around the world, cooking the traditional recipes of every country in the world using original recipes.  The project would take four years and the blog grew from this project.  In the process, Sasha not only created a successful blog, but a new way of connecting with her family and her community.  This is the story she shares.

Each chapter in the book ends with a recipe.  Some of these are family traditions, and some are recipes from various places in the world.  Some are quick meals made from leftover ingredients, while some take days to prepare.  Each shows the love Sasha has for food, and for the connections food helps us make with others.  This book is recommended for readers of memoirs and for foodies. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Mystery Writers Of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White

Mystery readers will be enchanted with the latest idea from the Mystery Writers of America.  They've rounded up over one hundred of the best mystery writers now working and asked each to contribute a recipe.  The resulting collection was then edited and put together by Kate White, who is also a mystery writer.  Food and mysteries go together like bacon and eggs.  Think of all the poisoned dinners that are plot devices, the muffins and subs eaten on stakeouts, and the gourmet detectives such as Nero Wolfe that have entertained the reader.  There is even a subgenre of mysteries, the culinary mysteries, which give the reader a mystery and recipes to match the action.

The book is divided into the following categories:  breakfast, appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, side dishes, cocktails and desserts.  The list of contributing authors include the who's who of mystery writers: Frankie Y. Bailey (see review of What The Fly Saw), Alafaire Burke, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlen Coben, Thomas H. Cook (see reviews of Peril, Blood Innocents and The Cloud Of Unknowing), Diane Mott Davidson, Nelson DeMille, Hallie Ephron (see review of There Was An Old Woman), Linda Fairstein(see review of The Prosecution Rests), Lyndsay Faye(see review of The Gods Of Gotham), Joseph Finder, Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton, Carolyn Hart, Peter James, J.A. Jance, Laurie R. King(see review of A Darker Place), Laura Lippman(see review of Life Sentences), Margaret Maron, Brad Meltzer, David Morrell, Marcia Muller, Katherine Hall Page, Sara Paretsky, James Patterson, Louise Penny, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Scottoline, Karin Slaughter, Wendy Corsi Staub(see review of The Perfect Stranger), Scott Turow, Lisa Unger, Jacqueline Winspear and Ben Winters, as well as many others. 

Each recipe has an interesting article with it from the author telling how it relates to their series or protagonists.  The recipe themselves are easy to follow and written as real cooks cook rather than the more formal recipes often found in cookbooks.  There are also gorgeous full-color photographs of many of the dishes. 

The Mystery Writers of America is dedicated to all things mystery, and is composed of mystery writers, aspiring authors, fans and publishing professionals in the genre.  It conducts the annual Edgar Awards, named for Edgar Allen Poe and considered the premiere award in the mystery field.  It also has programs to encourage kids to read, and scholarships for writers.  It was founded in 1945.  All proceeds from the book go to MWA to support their work.  This book is recommended for mystery readers and cooks alike. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Stolen Prey by John Sandford

Lucas Davenport has seen a lot of murder scenes in his years with the Minnesota state police.  But he hasn't seen many as bad as this one.  An entire family, father, mother, young son and daughter, have been brutally murdered and left in their home.  The family owns a software business, hardly the kind of thing that arouses a lot of criminal interest.  Or does it?  Something about the carnage reminds Lucas of the brutal murders associated with Mexican drug lords.

As the investigator deepens, there appears to be some connection.  Several Mexican men were noticed near the crime scene.  It starts to look as if the company was being used to launder drug money with apparently something going very wrong.  Lucas reaches out to other agencies, federal ones as well as contacts in the Mexican police.  Mexico sends one of their top policemen to help with the investigation.  Soon, it appears that local banks are also involved as their accounts may have been used to finance the money laundering.  More bodies start to show up as the drug lords follow their scorched earth policy trying to find their missing money.  Can Lucas and his crew find the killers before the body count climbs even higher?

Readers of John Sandford will know what they are getting when they open the pages of this novel.  This is the twenty-second Lucas Davenport mystery and loyal readers have followed his cases for years.  Sandford has a good mix of solid police procedural and the occasional rogue steps outside procedure that can advance a stalled investigation.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Booksie's Shelves, March 12, 2015

Spring has sprung in North Carolina and none too soon!  Everywhere you look you see brave daffodils and crocuses peeping from the yards, survivors of a cold February.  The birds are back and the backyards are a cacophony of birdsongs, each shouting it's happiness to be here in North Carolina in the spring.  The ACC Tournament is in Greensboro, where it belongs, and all is right in the basketball world, even with the inclusion of the new teams in the ACC, which I for one, don't think belong here.  Ah well, the other sure sign of spring is new spring books and they have been sprouting in abundance the past few weeks!  So many great books have arrived on my doorstep that I'm excited about getting to them.  Here's what I've acquired lately:

1.  I Am Radar, Reif Larsen, literary fiction, sent by publisher
2.  Meet Me In Atlantis, Mark Adams, nonfiction, sent by publisher
3.  Sardar, Abdullah Sharif, history/memoir, sent by publisher
4.  Stranger Child, Rachel Abbott, mystery, sent by publisher
5.  The Daughter, Jane Shemilt, mystery, sent by publisher
6.  Killer, Come Hither, Louis Begley, literary fiction, Amazon Vine
7.  Adapt, Edward Freeland, thriller, sent by publisher
8.  Bettyville, George Hodgman, memoir, sent by publisher
9.  The Year My Mother Came Back, Alice Eve Cohen, literary fiction, sent by publisher
10.  Reluctantly Charmed, Ellie O'Neill, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  Night Night, Sleep Tight, Hallie Ephron, mystery, sent by publisher
12.  The Poser, Jacob Rubin, literary fiction, sent by publisher
13.  Prince Of Thorns, Mark Lawrence, fantasy, Paperbackswap
14.  A Small Indiscretion, Jan Ellison, literary fiction, sent by publisher
15.  The Mystery Writers Of America Cookbook, Kate White, cookbook, sent by publisher
16.  Blood-Drenched Beard, Daniel Galera, historical fiction, Amazon Vine
17.  Harm's Way, Alex Barclay, mystery, sent by publisher
18.  We'll Always Have Paris, Jennifer Coburn, memoir, sent by author
19.  Etta And Otto And Russell And James, Emma Hooper, literary fiction, Amazon Vine
20.  Lacy Eye, Jessica Treadway, mystery, won on Shelf Awareness
21.  Amherst, William Nicholson, historical fiction, sent by publisher
22.  The Dead Lands, Benjamin Percy, mystery, won on Shelf Awareness

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  The Innovators, Walter Issacson, Kindle
2.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter, paperback
3.  A Clash Of Kings, George R. R. Martin, hardback
4.  Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, hardback
5.  The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers, Tom Rachman, paperback
6.  Roadside Crosses, Jeffrey Deaver, hardback
7.  The Black Country, Alex Grecian, paperback
8.  Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen, paperback
9.  Love By The Book, Melissa Pimentel, paperback
10.  The Orchid Affair, Lauren Willig, hardback
11.  Principles Of Navigation, Lynn Sloan, paperback
12.  Rescue, Anita Shreve, hardback
13.  Birthdays For The Dead, Stuart McBride,  Kindle Fire
14  Life From Scratch, Sasha Martin, hardback

 Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

Ten years ago, Joe Coughlin ran the Mob in Tampa and Cuba.  He gave up that position after his wife was murdered, and these days, serves as an advisor or consigliore, to the Bartolo crime family.  Joe grew up with these guys and counts the current boss, Dion, as his brother.  Joe spends his days taking care of his businesses which have been impacted as the rest of the country has during World War II.  Many of the men he worked with have gone to war, and the crime world is as impacted as the rest of American society.

Still, Joe is content for the most part.  He raises his son, Tomas, who he loves more than anything in the world.  He has a woman in his life, even though he must keep her a secret.  Then, in the space of a few weeks everything changes.  Joe starts to see a vision, a boy who bears a family resemblance to his own family.  What is this vision, and what does it mean?  There are rumors that someone is thinking about trying to take over from Dion, that Dion is slipping.  Then there is the rumor that a contract has been placed on Joe's own life.  Everyone loves Joe.  Who could be doing such a thing?

Have you ever seen someone peel an apple who starts at one end and effortlessly cuts the skin off in one long, graceful peel?  That vision came to me repeatedly as I read Lehane's latest book.  He effortlessly spins a tale that unfolds with inevitability and that skewers the world of the gangster.  It is a world full of loyalties and betrayals, a world where family is respected above all yet men do not hesitate to make women and children widows and orphans, where a man is on top of the world one day and staring up at the sky with lifeless eyes the next.  It is a brutal world whose appeal the reader can catch a glimpse of through Lehane's masterful portrayal.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.