Saturday, October 19, 2019

Book Review: Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble

Ask Me No Questions
Author: Shelley Noble
Series: Lady Dunbridge Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Forge Books (October 16, 2018)

Description: From New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble, Ask Me No Questions is the first in the Lady Dunbridge Mystery series featuring a widow turned sleuth in turn-of-the-twentieth century New York City.

A modern woman in 1907, Lady Dunbridge is not about to let a little thing like the death of her husband ruin her social life. She’s ready to take the dazzling world of Gilded Age Manhattan by storm.

From the decadence of high society balls to the underbelly of "horse racing, romance, murder, and scandals abound. Someone simply must do something. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

My Thoughts: Lady Philomena Dunbridge is recently widowed and also in the midst of a new scandal when she helps solve a crime. At twenty-seven, she feels to young to be considered a dowager and too old to be back under the thumb of the father who married her to the much older and dissolute earl when she was seventeen.

Phil decides to travel to New York to visit an old school friend and start a new life for herself. Unfortunately she arrives just in time to find her old friend in the midst of a scandal of her own. Bev's husband Reggie is found dead in the arms of his mistress. He was shot with a gun he had given Bev. Worse yet, they return to Bev's home and enter her husband's locked office to find another dead man. This one is a stranger.

The police in the person of Detective Sergeant Atkins are convinced that Bev killed her philandering husband. Phil is certain that she did not and is going to clear her name and protect her own reputation. Phil is assisted by her new maid Lily and her butler Preswick who accompanied her to New York.

Phil finds herself looking into Reggie's life and especially his horse racing stable. He has the current favorite for an upcoming race. Phil is also being followed by a mysterious stranger who seems as comfortable with costumes and undercover work as the fictional Sherlock Holmes.

This story took us from the social scene of 1907 New York City and to the underbelly of corrupt police, racing conspiracies, and murder. Phil investigates the mistress, the right-hand man, Reggie's cousin Freddy and his wife Marguerite among many others as she tries to untangle a complex situation.

At first I wasn't too fond of Phil. I thought she was a little useless and aimless. But then I realized that she was a product of her environment which didn't place any more value on women than their appearance, reputation, and social clout. Once Phil decided to do something, she revealed some intelligence and skills at investigation.

I can't wait to see what happens next for her and her employees.

Favorite Quote:
"Isn't it interesting that the gentleman in the bookstore recommended a story about horses." She turned to the first page and read aloud. "'"I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said Holmes...'

"And so must we," Phil murmured.

"But where, madam?" Lily asked, sounding alarmed.

"Wherever the clues lead us, Lily."

"Ah, and are we to become detectives, madam?"

"Yes, Lily, I believe we are."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Memes: Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble

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.

Lady Philomena Dundridge's father slammed the newspaper on the tea table. "This is an outrage."
Friday 56:
Atkins turned to Bev. "Did you scream? You didn't tell me about that."

"I screamed? Yes, I must have. I really --"
This week I am spotlighting a new historical mystery. Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble takes place in turn-of-the-century New York. Here is the description from Amazon:
From New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble, Ask Me No Questions is the first in the Lady Dunbridge Mystery series featuring a widow turned sleuth in turn-of-the-twentieth century New York City.

A modern woman in 1907, Lady Dunbridge is not about to let a little thing like the death of her husband ruin her social life. She’s ready to take the dazzling world of Gilded Age Manhattan by storm.

From the decadence of high society balls to the underbelly of Belmont horse racing, romance, murder, and scandals abound. Someone simply must do something. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Book Review: Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Through the Evil Days
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Series: Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries (Book 8)
Publication: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (November 4, 2014)

Description: In Through the Evil Days, New York Times bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming raises the stakes for Russ and Clare, putting their new marriage, their unborn child, a missing teen, and their very own lives on the line.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire. The extent of the tragedy isn't known until the next day, when the charred remains of a man and woman are recovered―along with evidence showing they were shot execution style.

The last thing Russ needs are two potential homicides. He's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood, and his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week ice-fishing at a remote Adirondack lake.

St. Alban's Church is still in turmoil over the Reverend Clare Fergusson's news that she's five and a half months pregnant―but only two and a half months married. Worried her post-deployment drinking and drug use may have damaged the baby, she awaits the outcome of the bishop's investigation into her "unpriestly" behavior: a scolding, censure, or permanent suspension.

Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again, off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away. And her ex-husband's in town―threatening to take custody of their kids unless Hadley pays him off with money she doesn't have.

When Hadley discovers that the dead couple fostered an eight-year-old girl who was a recent liver donee, the search for the killer takes on a new and terrible urgency. With no access to immunosuppressant drugs, transplant rejection will kill the girl in a matter of days.

As a deadly ice storm downs power lines and immobilizes roads, Russ and Clare search desperately for the truth about the missing child, but the hunters will become the hunted when they are trapped in the cabin beside the frozen lake and stalked through the snowbound woods by a killer.

My Thoughts: Russ and Clare are set to go on their honeymoon - in January, at a remote rural cabin with no electricity or running water - to go ice fishing. They are also carting along a lot of "baggage." Russ has just learned that the town council will be making a decision in a week about whether or not to disband the police department and contract services from the State Highway Patrol. Clare has been given an ultimatum by her bishop. He wants her to resign for "unpriestly" behavior. She is also dealing with the fact that she was still using drugs and alcohol when she became pregnant and the baby could be facing significant issues. Even worse, she and Russ had agreed to not have children before she found herself pregnant and Russ isn't dealing at all well with it.

Throw in arson, two executed people in the house before it was burnt, and a missing eight-year-old girl who has just had a kidney transplant and needs her immuno-suppresant drugs or she will die and the story gets filled with drama and tension. Mikayla's mother has lost custody of her because of her drug use. When the police go to search for her, they find that she is gathering pharmaceuticals used in making crystal meth. She flees before they can find out if she has Mikayla.

Meanwhile, the storm of the century bringing snow, ice, falling trees, downed power lines, and collapsed cell towers is bearing down on the region. And Russ and Clare attract the attention of bad guys who send them fleeing from their shelter in the height of the storm.

While Clare and Russ are dealing with their issues, Kevin Flynn and Hadley Knox are also dealing with theirs. Hadley's ex-husband has shown up demanding money, threatening to take her children back to California, and threatening to expose her secrets. And Flynn is still dealing with his love for Hadley and also a job offer in Syracuse.

This was a fast-paced and tension-filled story. Many characters are faced with difficult decisions and police work has to go on while they are troubled. The ending leaves a number of plot threads dangling and I can't wait for the next book to tie them off.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't think one broken leg in ten years as chief actually sets a precedent," Russ said.

"Still, we're glad you came." Clare wanted to get the subject away from "officer down,"before they started showing each other their bullet scars. "I'd expect a trooper, not a lieutenant."

"Oh, Mrs. Van Alstyne. I wouldn't have missed this for the world." 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Book Review: I, Robot: To Obey by Mickey Zucker Reichert

I, Robot: To Obey
Author: Mickey Zucker Reichert
Series: I, Robot (Book 2)
Publication: Ace (September 3, 2013)

Description: Susan Calvin is about to enter her second year as a psych resident at the Manhattan Hasbro teaching hospital when a violent crime strikes very close to home.

When she was young, Susan lost her mother in a terrible car wreck that also badly injured her father. She now believes the accident was orchestrated by government officials who wanted her parents dead. Susan has always known there was a faction of the U.S. government that wanted to hijack her father’s work for military use. Now it seems that faction is back.

As she struggles to overcome her pain and confusion, as well as deal with her studies, Susan finds herself hunted by violent antitech vigilantes who would revert mankind to the Dark Ages—and at the same time she’s being watched very closely by extremists who want high-tech genocide. Somehow she must find a way to stop them both.

My Thoughts: Susan Calvin is entering her second year in Psych residency when this story begins. She has survived the loss of her true love at the hands of terrorists from the SFH - Society for Humanity - and gotten to know N8-C - a positronic robot who could be mistaken for a regular human. She has learned that her father had a large part in the development of the positronic brain and the three laws that govern it.

She has chosen the same beginning site for her second year which lets her be with her friend Dr. Kendall Stevens. Their site has them working with dementia patients which is a difficult thing for Susan who wants to believe that she can fix medical problems. It causes her to wonder about the rationale for prolonging life when the mind is gone. She is also working for a lazy, self-serving boss. When Susan's genius level diagnostic skills suggest that some of her patients have been misdiagnosed and can actually be helped, she is first obstructed by her boss. When she goes around him to prove her diagnoses, he is quick to claim the credit and claim that Susan is the one who was obstructing. Susan, naturally, finds this very frustrating but it becomes quite a minor problem when the death of her father happens.

Susan comes home to find that her father has been murdered. When she tries to see his body to understand what happens, she is obstructed by the police who have decided that his death was because of "natural causes." Susan begins to conduct her own investigation along with one police officer who doesn't want to follow the party line. They soon find themselves at odds with the SFH and a shady government department that wants the secret they are certain she and her father had about the way to separate the positronic brain from the three laws.

Along the way in their investigation, Susan learns a big secret about her past and finds a way to get both the government department and the SFH off her back.

This was an engaging science fiction story. However, I started to get bogged down in all the medical terminology that Susan uses in her diagnoses. Once I decided to treat it all as bafflegab things went better. I don't know if the medical terms are fact or fiction and for the purposes of the bigger story it really didn't matter.

Fans of hard science fiction and fans of Isaac Asimov will enjoy this second book in a trilogy. I would recommend reading the series in order though.

Favorite Quote:
"The humanity, the intellect, the essence of everything we are is entirely in that one convoluted, double-fist-sized structure hidden in our craniums. Damage that one organ and we are--"

"Different?" Nate tried.

"Nothing." Susan insisted. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Book Review: In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston

In a Badger Way
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: The Honey Badger Chronicles (Book 2)
Publication: Kensington Books (April 1, 2019)

Description: Petite, kind, brilliant, and young, Stevie is nothing like the usual women bodyguard Shen Li is interested in. Even more surprising, the youngest of the lethal, ball-busting, and beautiful MacKilligan sisters is terrified of bears. But she’s not terrified of pandas. She loves pandas.

Which means that whether Shen wants her to or not, she simply won’t stop cuddling him. He isn’t some stuffed Giant Panda, ya know! He is a Giant Panda shifter. He deserves respect and personal space. Something that little hybrid is completely ignoring.

But Stevie has a way of finding trouble. Like going undercover to take down a scientist experimenting on other shifters. For what, Shen doesn’t want to know, but they’d better find out. And fast. Stevie might be the least violent of the honey badger sisters, but she’s the most dangerous to Shen’s peace of mind. Because she has absolutely no idea how much trouble they’re in . . . or just how damn adorable she is.

My Thoughts: This second in the Honey Badgers series features the romance of the youngest of three sisters. Stevie was a prodigy in both music and science and her older sisters are determined to protect her - mostly from her father who once sold her to Peruvian drug lords.

Stevie has panic attacks, anxiety, and really hates her hybrid nature. A combination of honey badger and tiger makes for a scary being. She is also terrified of bears! Well, except for cute panda shifter Shen Li who is a bodyguard for Stevie's friend Kyle who is one of a talented jackal family.

Shen is a laid back sort of guy who spends a lot of time eating bamboo and being puzzled by Stevie. After all, she has decided that they are going to be girlfriend/boyfriend. And he takes some convincing.

Events center around a family funeral and a scientist who is experimenting on hybrids like Stevie. The story is filled with madcap humor and over-the-top situations. It was a lot of fun to read.

Favorite Quote:
"Why were you in the men's room?" she asked.

"Because I won't be confined by gender constraints?"

"Do you even know what that means?"

"Not really."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, October 14, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Oct. 14, 2019)

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.

Other Than Reading...

As I am writing this Saturday noontime, a gentle snow is falling. It is not yet sticking to the roads but makes a nice covering on grassy areas, our solar panels, and the deck. I rousted out my brother and we did our shopping for the next couple of days earlier. I wanted to get out before the roads become covered in snow. We are making homemade healthy pizzas today and a healthy chicken and mushroom dish for dinner tomorrow.

This week I got a meat grinder and used it to make one pound of Italian sausage and two pounds of breakfast sausage. It works really slick and went quite quickly with both of us working in the kitchen. Both are recipes that we got from the binders at Bill's cardio rehab so they are flavorful without added sodium and with low saturated fat.

My TV watching this week included The Voice and the baseball playoffs. While I am disappointed that my Atlanta Braves didn't advance, I am still interested in watching the games. I may even have time to catch up with the Minnesota Vikings as they play football.

I was having trouble settling down to reading this week and currently have three books in various stages of completion. I do hope to get them all finished this week and move on to the next ones on my list. With all the commotion from mid-September until now, I never did report on my September reading. I read a total of 17 books with 5888 pages. Eight were review books and nine were mine which included four rereads.

Solar Power Report

Even before the snow today, we had a couple of rainy and cloudy days this week.

We have a few more days before the end of our billing cycle and have made 535.85 kWh. Our high was 1.2 MWh and last month we produced 968.21 kWh. I doubt we'll catch last month in the next five days. They are predicting snow and gloom again tomorrow with a nice day on Monday and then back to snow on Tuesday.

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.)

  • Artifacts by Mary Anna Evans (Mine) - First in the Faye Longchamp mystery series. I chose this one because the main character is an archaeologist. I enjoyed it. My review will be posted on November 7.


I was having trouble setting into one book this week. So I have three in progress.

Next Week

Reviews Posted

Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?



What was your week like?

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Book Review: Pirate King by Laurie R. King

Pirate King
Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Book 11)
Publication: Bantam; First Edition edition (September 6, 2011)

Description: In this latest adventure featuring the intrepid Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King takes readers into the frenetic world of silent films—where the pirates are real and the shooting isn’t all done with cameras.

In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation . . . or sink a boatload of careers.

Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.

Pirate King is a Laurie King treasure chest—thrilling, intelligent, romantic, a swiftly unreeling masterpiece of suspense.

My Thoughts: This was an engaging episode of the long-running Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series that began with The Beekeeper's Apprentice in 1994 and continues in this eleventh story. This is a lighter episode than the previous one. Mary is asked by Inspector Lestrade to go undercover with a company making a pirate movie to discover the fate of a missing secretary. The film crew also seems to be followed by crimes that mirror the plots of the films - drugs, illegal arms sales, and rum running. Her immediate response is to refuse but then she recalls that Holmes' brother Mycroft is coming to stay at their home for two weeks. Suddenly, pirates and movie crews are much more appealing.

Mary is quickly immersed in all the drama that surrounded the early days of silent film. She must deal with an extremely flamboyant director who is obsessed with realism, a bevy of demanding blonde actresses (and a few stage mothers), and pirates. The plot of the film is that a movie is being made of The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. This leads to a lot of confusion as we have actors playing double roles as a character in The Pirates of Penzance and in the cast making the movie. Determined as he is on realism, Randolph St. John Warminster-Fflytte determines that the film will be shot in Portugal and Morocco. While many of the principal actors have been cast in England, including thirteen young ladies, Fflytte waited until he reached Portugal to cast his pirates. The Portuguese interpreter leads him to La Rocha and his crew of shady figures.

This was a very entertaining story that also gives a glimpse of the early days of film-making. I liked Mary's interaction with the various actresses. I liked that she began investigating one crime but soon found herself involved in something more complex and more dangerous. My only regret was that Sherlock Holmes made a late appearance in the story and we didn't get to see as much of him as in earlier episodes. Those scenes with Sherlock and Mary were still wonderful glimpses of their marriage of equals.

I recommend this book for fans of the series but do recommend that new readers wait to read this one until after they have caught up on the series. This one is for fans of historical, literary mysteries.

Favorite Quote:
Pessoa inclined his head. "I merely suggested that if Senhor Fflytte requires men who look like pirates, he might wish to search among the sea-fold rather than among those who make thier living in the theater."

"It's a great idea," Fflytte repeated.

"An interesting possibility," Hale mused.

I could not imagine that this would end well. 
I bought and read this one in 2011 but didn't review it. I am rereading it. You can buy your copy here.