Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Book Review: Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

Silent on the Moor
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: A Lady Julia Grey Mystery (Book 3)
Publication: MIRA; Original edition (August 17, 2015)

Description: Despite his admonitions to stay away, Lady Julia arrives in Yorkshire to find Brisbane as remote and maddeningly attractive as ever. Cloistered together, they share the moldering house with the proud but impoverished remnants of an ancient family—the sort that keeps their bloodline pure and their secrets close. Lady Allenby and her daughters, dependent upon Brisbane and devastated by their fall in society, seem adrift on the moor winds, powerless to change their fortunes. But poison does not discriminate between classes….

A mystery unfolds from the rotten heart of Grimsgrave, one Lady Julia may have to solve alone, as Brisbane appears inextricably tangled in its heinous twists and turns. But blood will out, and before spring touches the craggy northern landscape, Lady Julia will have uncovered a Gypsy witch, a dark rider and a long-buried legacy of malevolence and evil.

My Thoughts: In this episode of the Lady Jane Grey mysteries Jane has invited herself to Nicholas Brisbane's new home in the isolated depths of Yorkshire. There she finds a spooky old home, mysterious people, and pieces of Nicholas's past.

Nicholas is his mysterious self. He alternately pulls her in and pushes her away. She is just about ready to give up on him when he is poisoned and almost dies. With the help of a local gypsy healer, Nicholas recovers and Jane realizes that she can't leave him despite the obstructions he throws into her path.

This story had a very Gothic feel. It had an old family holding on to an illustrious past but having dwindled to an old woman and her two daughters left penniless by the death of her disgraced Egyptologist son. It had madness and gypsy curses all set in the wilds of the moors in Yorkshire. It has revenge and betrayal.

Jane learns about Nicholas's childhood in this one and his connections to the area and to the family. All in all it was an excellent entry into an intriguing historical mystery series. 

Favorite Quote:
"Remember, lady. If you would know a person, stop your ears to their words, but mark their actions. Think on what I have said, and you will know what to do.
I bought this one on June 18, 2014. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Willnot by James Sallis

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
We found the bodies two miles outside town, near the old gravel pit. Tom Bales was out on an early-morning hunt when his dog Mattie dropped the quail she was retrieving, sprinted to a stretch of worried earth, and wouldn't budge. He'd call, she'd start toward him and circle right back, barking. It was the smell that got him finally, when he walked over. Mushroomy, dark. Cellarlike.
 

Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
"Man administers to the sick and needy and cooks too."

"Let's not talk about success rates at either. Is there something I can do for you, Sheriff?"
This week I am reading Willnot by James Sallis. This was recommended on a blog I follow but had to wait for a gap in my calendar for me to read it. Here is the description from Amazon:
In his celebrated career, James Sallis has created some of the most finely drawn protagonists in crime fiction, all of them thoughtful observers of the human condition: Lew Griffin, the black New Orleans private investigator; retired detective John Turner; the unnamed wheelman in Drive. Dr. Lamar Hale will now join the ranks of Sallis's finest characters.

In the woods outside the town of Willnot, the remains of several people have suddenly been discovered, unnerving the community and unsettling Hale, the town's all-purpose general practitioner, surgeon, and town conscience. At the same time, Bobby Lowndes--his military records disappeared, being followed by the FBI--mysteriously reappears in his hometown, at Hale's door. Over the ensuing months, the daily dramas Hale faces as he tends to his town and to his partner, Richard, collide with the inexplicable vagaries of life in Willnot. And when a gunshot aimed at Lowndes critically wounds Richard, Hale's world is truly upended.

In his inimitably spare style, James Sallis conjures indelible characters and scenes that resonate long after they appear. "You live with someone year after year, you think you've heard all the stories," Lamar observes, "but you never have."

Monday, May 21, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 21, 2018)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading... 

It is a misty, gloomy Saturday morning here in Duluth but I'm stoked. I've been up since 4AM watching the Royal Wedding and basking in British sunshine and pageantry. What a lovely ceremony! Of course, now I could use a nap and, having nothing else on my calendar for the day, may just take one.

Otherwise I've had a quiet week with some reading, some walking and some baseball watching. We broke our temperature record for the date on Monday with a high of 88 degrees but then the next day the high didn't get out of the lower 50s. Only the heartiest trees are showing a blush of new green leaves here in the Northland but I have hopes of warmer temperatures soon.

This week I skipped around on my calendar to choose what I'd read rather than reading them in order of date I plan to review them. I started out with the idea of reading all the review books on the calendar first but got hung up on My Plain Jane which is going to be read in chunks around other books. I read a July release from Penguin's First to Read program because I get paranoid that the book will expire before I get to it if I don't read it immediately. It was also a book I've been really anticipating. I also wanted to clear the way to read the Divergent trilogy back to back.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd - A cozy mystery set in Maine. My review will be posted on June 9.
  • Override by Heather Anastasiu - middle book in a YA dystopian trilogy that has been on my TBR pile since Feb. 14, 2013. My review will be posted on June 8.
  • Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe - a new YA that begins an urban fantasy series. My review will be posted on May 28.
  • A Merciful Silence by Kendra Elliot - the latest in her Merci Kilpatrick mystery series. My review will be posted on June 14.
  • Girl with a Gun by Kari Bovee - new historical mystery starring Annie Oakley. My review will be posted on June 16.
  • The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold - new novella in the Vorkosigan series. I don't plan to review this one on my blog but recommend it for fans of the series.
Currently
  • I hope this is the week I binge read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.
  • I am also reading My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows because, while I am enjoying it, the constant use of parentheses is getting on my nerves and pulling me out of the story.
Next Week
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth - TBR since Dec. 12, 2012
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth - TBR since Sept. 8, 2013
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth - TBR since Oct. 22, 2013
  • A Rumor of Bones by Beverly Connor - TBR since Oct. 26, 2010
  • Foolproof by Barbara D'Amato, Jeanne M. Dams, and Mark Zubro - TBR since Dec. 3, 2010
Reviews Posted

On Inside of a Dog:
On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought:
New Review (All from NetGalley this week):
What was your week like?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Book Review: Triple Crown by Felix Francis

Triple Crown
Author: Felix Francis
Series: Dick Francis (Book 6)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1st Edition edition (October 11, 2016)

Description: Jefferson Hinkley is back in the newest thriller in the Dick Francis tradition, this time on a special mission to the United States to investigate a conspiracy involving the biggest horse races in the country.

Jeff Hinkley, investigator for the British Horseracing Authority, has been seconded to the US Federal Anti-Corruption in Sports Agency (FACSA) where he has been asked to find a mole in their organization—an informant who is passing on confidential information to those under suspicion in American racing.  At the Kentucky Derby, Jeff joins the FACSA team in a raid on a horse trainer’s barn at Churchill Downs, but the bust is a disaster, and someone ends up dead.  Then, on the morning of the Derby itself, three of the most favored horses in the field fall sick. 

These suspicious events can be no coincidence. In search of answers, Jeff goes undercover as a groom on the backstretch at Belmont Park racetrack in New York. But he discovers far more than he was bargaining for: corrupt individuals who will stop at nothing—including murder—to capture the most elusive prize in world sport, the Triple Crown.

My Thoughts: Jeff Hinkley is on leave from the BHA to assist the US Federal Anti-Corruption in Sports Agency to try to track down a mole. Someone is horse racing division is tipping off the trainers that a raid is coming leaving FACSA unsuccessful and looking bad too. He begins a secret investigation of the special agents in the horse racing division. Then Jeff tags along on a raid which results in a dead trainer. Clearly the trainer was tipped off.

When three of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby become sick and are withdrawn, Jeff needs to solve another mystery. He goes undercover in the stables of the trainer of the winning horse and works as a groom as they are preparing the horse for the Preakness. Besides his investigation, he attracts the enmity of one of the other grooms and his gang. This just adds more pressure to Jeff as he tries to find out what is going on. He has to find out if the illnesses to the horses was planned or coincidental and has to find a way to get the mole to make a mistake and be revealed.

This was a fast-paced mystery with lots of details about thoroughbred racing in the United States. I liked seeing the Triple Crown races through the eyes of someone from Great Britain. Jeff is a man who is burning out on his job now that he is becoming known and cannot go undercover anymore. The case in the United States comes at just the right time to throw some excitement and danger back into his life. However, he isn't particularly excited to go up against heavily armed special agents and makes some pointed comments about US gun policy.

This was an enjoyable mystery.

Favorite Quote:
"It is amazing how it can be tracked in real time," Tony said. "If x--- were a terrorist, they could call in  a drone strike to take him out."

He'd been watching too many movies, I thought. A drone strike directed at a vehicle on home soil might have raised a few awkward questions in the U. S. Congress.
I bought this one April 18, 2017. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Memes: Triple Crown by Felix Francis

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
"Where are those goddamn cops?" Tony Andretti said it under his breath, quiet as a whisper, but it was full of frustration nonetheless.
Friday 56:
I had a good memory for faces and facts and I had been easily able to match the individuals to their life stories, as outlined in the personnel files. The only difficult thing was not appearing to know something I hadn't been told. For example, I nearly asked one of the tow intelligence analysts if he liked working for FACSA more than for a bank when he hadn't actually mentioned his previous employment.
This week I am reading Triple Crown by Felix Francis. I enjoyed his father's mysteries and have enjoyed Felix's previous mysteries too. This one has been on my TBR mountain for over a year. Here is the description from Amazon.
Jefferson Hinkley is back in the newest thriller in the Dick Francis tradition, this time on a special mission to the United States to investigate a conspiracy involving the biggest horse races in the country.

Jeff Hinkley, investigator for the British Horseracing Authority, has been seconded to the US Federal Anti-Corruption in Sports Agency (FACSA) where he has been asked to find a mole in their organization—an informant who is passing on confidential information to those under suspicion in American racing.  At the Kentucky Derby, Jeff joins the FACSA team in a raid on a horse trainer’s barn at Churchill Downs, but the bust is a disaster, and someone ends up dead.  Then, on the morning of the Derby itself, three of the most favored horses in the field fall sick. 

These suspicious events can be no coincidence. In search of answers, Jeff goes undercover as a groom on the backstretch at Belmont Park racetrack in New York. But he discovers far more than he was bargaining for: corrupt individuals who will stop at nothing—including murder—to capture the most elusive prize in world sport, the Triple Crown.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Review: Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Sanctuary
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: A Lady Julia Grey Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: MIRA; Reprint edition (August 17, 2015)

Description: Fresh from a six-month sojourn in Italy, Lady Julia returns home to Sussex to find her father's estate crowded with family and friends. Much to her surprise, the one man she had hoped to forget—the enigmatic and compelling Nicholas Brisbane—is among her father's houseguests…and he is not alone. Not to be outdone, Julia shows him that two can play at flirtation and promptly introduces him to her devoted, younger, titled Italian count.

But the homecoming celebrations quickly take a ghastly turn when one of the guests is found brutally murdered in the chapel. Lady Julia resumes her unlikely and deliciously intriguing partnership with Nicholas Brisbane, setting out to unravel a tangle of deceit before the killer can strike again.

My Thoughts: Lady Julia Grey, fresh from Italy, joins her family at the family home for the Christmas season and has a mystery to solve. She comes with her brothers Plum and Lysander and Lysander's new Italian wife Violante. They also brought along young Count Alessandro Fornacci who has a crush on Julia.

When she arrives she finds quite a gathering. Her sister Portia is there as are poor relations Emma and Lucy Phipps along with Lucy's new fiance Sir Cedric Eastley, a self-made man, and his secretary/nephew Henry Ludlow. Also present is the man Julia has spent months trying to forget. Nicholas Brisbane is there along with his fiance Mrs. Charlotte King.

That evening at dinner, they are joined by the Vicar who is an honorary uncle and his new curate Lucian Snow who is charming and rather feckless. He immediately uses his charm to try to endear himself to the wealthy, single ladies.

This house party is filled with tension. Nicholas and Julia have unresolved issues and Snow's political views regarding gypsies immediately puts Julia's back up. There is also some secret about why Nicholas is wearing a sling. When Snow is found dead in the chapel with Lucy holding a bloody candlestick, the investigation begins. Julia's father orders Nicholas and Julia to investigate together which is not what Nicholas wants.

Add in ghostly wanderings, missing jewels, and attempted poisonings and you have a wild ride of a mystery. I love the detailed picture of life in the upper classes in England in the late 1880s. Julia's father is quite a progressive thinker for his daughters but less so for his sons. He encourages Julia to stretch herself which is something Julia wants to do since she has never felt as alive or as useful as when she was involved in her first investigation and wants the same again.

I am intrigued by Julia's relationship with Nicholas Brisbane. He is continually pushing her away and occasionally drawing her close. Julia is fascinated by the mystery of him. 

Favorite Quote:
And I realized, as I sat watching my efforts at deduction smoulder to ash, I wanted a larger life than the one I led. I wanted adventure and passion and romance, and all the other things I had scorned. More than seven hundred years of wild March blood had told at last, I thought with a smile. I had done a mighty job of suppressing it for the first thirty years of my life, but it simply would not do anymore.
I bought this one in paperback on Feb. 17, 2009 and for my Kindle April 16, 2018. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Book Review: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: A Lady Julia Grey Mystery
Publication: MIRA; Reprint edition (August 17, 2015)

Description: "Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."

These ominous words are the last threat that Sir Edward Grey receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, he collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that her husband was murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers damning evidence for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring the murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

My Thoughts: Lady Julia Grey tells this story of the year after her husband collapses and dies at a dinner party. When Nicholas Brisbane comes to tell her that her husband had hired him because of some threatening letters he had received, she isn't convinced that he was murdered. After all, he had a long-standing heart condition that ran in his family that would also explain his death.

However, after almost a year in mourning, she is clearing out her husband's study and finds one of the notes. For her own peace of mind, she needs to know whether or not her husband was murdered. She contacts Nicholas Brisbane again to hire him to assist her in finding out what happened to her husband.

Lady Julia is the daughter of an Earl and was left independently wealthy by her husband's death but she still feels bound by the social mores of 1886 London. Her father raised her and her 9 brothers and sisters using some quite radical ideas which makes society's rules rather a tight fit for a woman who is bright and educated. However, as a daughter of the eccentric March family, Julia herself longs to be normal and conventional. The investigation will push her well out of her comfort zone as she uncovers secrets that will change her life.

Julia also gets to know Nicholas in the course of the investigation. He is not the sort of man who has littered her life previously. He begins as a rather mysterious character but some of his past is revealed in the course of the investigation too.

I loved the setting and Julia as a character. Julia is well aware that she lives a privileged life and feels that it is her duty to help those less fortunate. Her maid is a former prostitute from an organization her aunt supports to train these women for useful employment. She has also made a place in her home for a gypsy who was shunned by her family despite the widespread prejudice against gypsies. I loved her reaction to the family doctor who kept things from her and who refuses to work with a Jewish doctor. I loved her eccentric family. I loved the support and love shown by her father. I loved her sister Portia who tries to convince Julia to become more adventurous. I loved the juxtaposition of Victorian morals, especially regarding sexuality, to Julia's more liberal beliefs.

This was an excellent story. While I am sorry that I didn't discover this series when it was first written, I am glad that I have many more of Lady Julia's adventures available for me to read now.

Favorite Quote:
Portia stopped walking and turned to face me, her expression stern. "No, Julia, you need adventure. You need a lover, a holiday abroad. You need to cut your hair and swim naked in a river. You need to eat things you have never even seen before and speak languages you do not know. You need to kiss a man who makes you feel like your knees have turned to water and makes your heart feel as though it would spring from your chest."

Her eyes were so earnest that I burst out laughing. "I think you have been at my romantic novels again." 
I bought this one Jan. 16, 2009. You can buy your copy here.