Monday, July 22, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 22, 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...

This week has been a big blogging week. Since I'm nearing the end of my August calendar (except for It's Monday posts), I filled in my September calendar and did as much of each post as I could do before reading the books. I have quite a few review books. I've read one and have ten more to go. I filled in the blank spots with some recent arrivals and with continuing the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King which are rereads and the Susan Elia MacNeal books which I'm reading for the first time.

I'll be concentrating on reading review books for a while before I can try to lower my TBR mountain.

We've had a mostly cloudy but very warm week. Luckily the rain that swept up the Mississippi River valley as the remainder of Barry didn't make it all the way to Duluth. Yesterday there was baseball sized hail just a few miles south of us. All we got were a few sprinkles and overcast skies. My car was in the garage but my brother was very grateful because his 20 year old sportscar was parked outside his place of employment. Parts are hard to find for a car of that age.

Solar Power: We went over 1MWh while I was writing this post. We've produced 788 kWh so far this month. We should be getting our first power bill since we went solar soon. I'm eager to see what it does to our bill.

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.)

  • Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Mine) - This is the latest Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery. My review will be posted on October 17.
  • The Last Good Guy by T. Jefferson Parker (Review; August 13) - Intense contemporary thriller that harks back to the noir detective stories of the 1940s. My review will be posted on August 10)
  • Cold Woods by Karen Katchur (Review; August 13) - Twisty thriller about what happens when 30 year old bones are unearthed. Lots of flashbacks. My review will be posted August 11.


  • How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne (Review; Aug. 27) - Entertaining historical romance with a touch of mystery too. My review will be posted on August 24.
  • Stolen Things by R. H. Herron (Review; Aug. 20) - Intense thriller where a police dispatcher picks up a 911 call and hears her daughter begging for help. My review will be posted on August 17.
  • Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (Review; Sept. 3) - Entertaining historical romance that deals with women's suffrage and social classes. My review will be posted on August 27.

Currently


Next Week




Reviews Posted




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

Bought:




Review:




What was your week like?

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Book Review: Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag

Down the Darkest Road
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Oak Knoll (Book 3)
Publication: Dutton (2012)

Description: Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us.

Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Santa Barbara life. The world has given her daughter up for dead. Her husband ended his own life in the aftermath. Even Lauren's younger daughter is desperate to find what's left of the childhood she hasn't been allowed to have.

Lauren knows exactly who took her oldest child, but there is not a shred of evidence against the man. Even as he stalks her family, Lauren is powerless to stop him. The Santa Barbara police are handcuffed by the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Looking for a fresh start in a town with no memories, Lauren and her younger daughter, Leah, move to idyllic Oak Knoll. But when Lauren's suspect turns up in the same city, it feels to all the world that history is about to repeat itself. Leah Lawton will soon turn sixteen, and Oak Knoll has a cunning predator on the hunt.

Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez and his team begin to close in on the suspected killer, desperate to keep the young women of their picturesque town safe. But as the investigators sift through the murky circumstances of an increasingly disturbing case, a stunning question changes everything they thought they knew. In Down the Darkest Road, #1 New York Times bestseller Tami Hoag proves again why she is one of the world's most beloved storytellers.

My Thoughts: This is the third Oak Knoll thriller. This one stars Detective Tony Mendez and has walk-ons from Vince and Anne Leone.

The story begins when Lauren Lawton and her daughter Leah come to Oak Knoll. They have gone through a very bad four years since Lauren's daughter and Leah's sister Leslie disappeared without a trace. The stresses were horrible as Lauren became totally focused on the hunt for Leslie. She harassed police departments in a number of jurisdictions because she didn't feel they were doing enough to find her daughter.

There is a suspect - Roland Ballencoa - who the police liked for the crime but they had no concrete evidence to link him to Leslie's disappearance. A small spot of blood in his van might be Leslie's but DNA testing hasn't advanced enough yet in 1990 to test it.

Lauren is sure that Ballencoa is stalking her but, again, there is no proof. In fact, Ballencola has sued her and local police departments for harassment and won. He is a very smart criminal who knows how to skirt the edge of the law.

Tony gets involved when Lauren and Leah come to Oak Knoll. He believes her and is very frustrated about how much the police department can do and still uphold the law. Lauren is a woman at the end of her rope. She doesn't eat; she doesn't sleep; she drinks too much. Leah is also falling apart but in a much quieter way; she has started cutting to ease the pain. Anne Leone wants to try to help them but can't do much more than offer herself as a sounding board for Lauren and Leah.

This story was told from multiple viewpoints. Lauren is writing about the experience to try to ease some of the pain. Tony is trying to get background on Ballencoa and working with another police officer from a jurisdiction that was the previous home of Ballencoa. We also get Ballencoa's very creepy viewpoint.

This was an exciting page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat. I liked seeing Lauren's viewpoint as a woman obsessed with getting answers about the fate of her child. I felt sorry for Leah who felt abandoned by the mother she loves very much and who is very angry at her sister for the reckless behavior that led to her disappearance. I understood the frustration of law enforcement that felt that their hands were tied.

Favorite Quote:
"Had he left something? Taken something?"

She shook her head. "No, but things had been moved, touched. He had been there. He drank a glass of wine, washed the glass, and left it where I would see it. He had used the bathroom and put the hand towel in the wash. He had done a load of laundry."

"Excuse me?"
I bought this one July 3, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Book Review: The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson

The Baker Street Letters
Author: Michael Robertson
Series: The Baker Street Letters (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2011)

Description: First in a spectacular new series about two brother lawyers who lease offices on London's Baker Street--and begin receiving mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes

In Los Angeles, a geological surveyor maps out a proposed subway route―and then goes missing. His eight-year-old daughter in her desperation turns to the one person she thinks might help―she writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes.

That letter creates an uproar at 221b Baker Street, which now houses the law offices of attorney and man about town Reggie Heath and his hapless brother Nigel. Instead of filing the letter like he's supposed to, Nigel decides to investigate. Soon he's flying off to L.A., inconsiderately leaving a very dead body on the floor in his office. Big brother Reggie follows Nigel to California, as does Reggie's sometime lover, Laura – a quick-witted stage actress who's captured the hearts of both brothers.

When Nigel is arrested, Reggie must use all his wits to solve a case that Sherlock Holmes would have savored, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans will adore.

My Thoughts: This is the story of two brothers, both lawyers, who have taken up new office space on Baker Street. Reggie is the elder and more successful of the brothers. Nigel is the younger and something of a screw-up. As a part of their lease, the brothers receive letters written to a more famous occupant at that address - Sherlock Holmes. Also according to their lease, which Reggie didn't read as closely as he should have, they are to return a form response and not do anything else with the letters on pain of losing their lease and being liable for the whole time period's rent.

Nigel is currently without his license to practice law because of a case where he was too ethical and ran afoul of the daughter of his client while he was trying to return his fee. He is spending his time reading the letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Nigel becomes fascinated by one sent twenty years earlier by an eight-year-old Los Angeles girl who wants Sherlock to help her find her missing father. What fascinates Nigel is that there have been two more recent letters asking Sherlock to return the enclosures that were sent with the first letter. He decides to take the letter and enclosures to LA to try to find the young woman.

Reggie is expecting him to show up for the hearing that will reinstate his license but he doesn't show up. When Reggie checks Nigel's office, he finds it trashed and the body of their law clerk there in the mess apparently bludgeoned to death by a sculpture that belonged to Nigel. Reggie takes off to LA to try to find his missing brother before the London police can.

As Reggie searches for his brother, he finds himself inside a multi-million dollar conspiracy that has personal implications for Reggie. He also finds another dead body and this time he's a suspect.

This was an engaging story. Reggie is an interesting character but not initially likable. He seems rigid in his views and not very sympathetic to the idea that his brother might have his own plans for his future. His relationship with his girlfriend Laura is faltering because of his inability to make a commitment. And for a highly qualified and successful lawyer, he certainly seems to have trouble reading the contracts he blithely signs!

Favorite Quote:
"That would be annoying."

"It is. Every damn little thing get reported. Last week someone broke in here and figured it would be fun to pour five pounds of damn sugar into the mole's gas tank. Standard high school prank, but it made the five o'clock news. Then two nights ago an underground water main ruptures next to the new tunnel between downtown and the Hollywood sites, creating a sinkhole clear across Sunset, and some poor hooker tripped and mussed herself falling in. That made the five o'clock, the six, the ten, and the eleven o'clock news."

"Of course," said Reggie. "Nothing gets media attention like water-damaged hookers."

"Yeah, and I just hope she doesn't sue me for missing a night's work."
I bought this one October 4, 2016. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday Memes: The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson

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:
"Why are you staring at me that way?"

Laura hardly looked up from her dinner to ask thins. She arched one eyebrow over one olive green eye.

"Your hair," lied Reggie, "is in your champagne."
Friday 56:
"Why, yes," she said, and now she looked at Reggie with her pale brow furrowed. "I hope there's no reason to say this," said the woman, "and I would certainly not be the one to snitch to Dorset National -- but I trust you are truly just...tidying up -- and not attempting to contact one of these people directly. That would be --"

"Bloody foolish," said Reggie.

He thanked the woman again.

And then he drove to Heathrow, with the address for the Los Angeles letter writer in his pocket.
This week I am spotlighting The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson which has been on my TBR mountain since October of 2016. Here is the description from Amazon:
First in a spectacular new series about two brother lawyers who lease offices on London's Baker Street--and begin receiving mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes

In Los Angeles, a geological surveyor maps out a proposed subway route―and then goes missing. His eight-year-old daughter in her desperation turns to the one person she thinks might help―she writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes.

That letter creates an uproar at 221b Baker Street, which now houses the law offices of attorney and man about town Reggie Heath and his hapless brother Nigel. Instead of filing the letter like he's supposed to, Nigel decides to investigate. Soon he's flying off to L.A., inconsiderately leaving a very dead body on the floor in his office. Big brother Reggie follows Nigel to California, as does Reggie's sometime lover, Laura – a quick-witted stage actress who's captured the hearts of both brothers.

When Nigel is arrested, Reggie must use all his wits to solve a case that Sherlock Holmes would have savored, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans will adore.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Book Review: A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King

A Monstrous Regiment of Women
Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (July 15, 1995)

Description: It is 1921 and Mary Russell--Sherlock Holmes's brilliant apprentice, now an Oxford graduate with a degree in theology--is on the verge of acquiring a sizable inheritance. Independent at last, with a passion for divinity and detective work, her most baffling mystery may now involve Holmes and the burgeoning of a deeper affection between herself and the retired detective. Russell's attentions turn to the New Temple of God and its leader, Margery Childe, a charismatic suffragette and a mystic, whose draw on the young theology scholar is irresistible. But when four bluestockings from the Temple turn up dead shortly after changing their wills, could sins of a capital nature be afoot? Holmes and Russell investigate, as their partnership takes a surprising turn in A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King.

My Thoughts: Mary has graduated from Oxford and is just about to turn twenty-one and finally claim her inheritance and independence from her despised aunt when she encounters old friend Ronnie Beaconsfield in London. Ronnie introduces her to Margery Childe who is running a religious, feminist, charitable organization.

Mary is fascinated when she hears Margery speak and is intrigued by her take on theology. She is also intrigued by the various charitable and political activities of temple since they fit into her feminist viewpoints. But things are not all wonderful. There have been a series of deaths of women associated with the Temple who just happen to have included the Temple in their wills for substantial amounts.

When Ronnie is almost a victim of a fatal accident, Mary begins to put things together to investigate who might have a reason to want to collect these young women's gifts long before they should. She cannot suspect Margery herself but those around her are certainly suspects.

When Mary herself is kidnapped and held by a kidnapper who tries to addict her to heroin, it takes a while for Sherlock to realize she is missing and then to find her. Mary's kidnapping certainly clarified her feelings for Holmes and his for her which had been a source of stress for both of them since Mary had grown up.

I loved the historical setting and the intriguing information about theology that is included in the book. I also loved seeing the aftereffects of World War I both on the men who fought it and the women who stayed at home. Women who had substantial roles in work and society weren't going to be stuffed back into their roles as subordinate to men and confined to household duties.

This is quite an intriguing and thought-provoking historical mystery where the mystery plays equally with the other themes of social change and religion.

Favorite Quote:
She looked back instantly at the page, removed her finger from the line, and seizing the book in both hands, spoke in a single, flowing sentence.

"The boy has a cup of tea for his mother," she read, and repeated it, then looked up again and laughed, her eyes shining with the suddenly comprehended magic of the written word. Her teeth were mostly gums, she smelt of unwashed wool, her hair lay lank, and her skin wanted milk and fruit, but for the moment, she was beautiful.
I bought this one for my Kindle June 2. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Review: Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

Princess Elizabeth's Spy
Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
Series: Maggie Hope (Book 2)
Publication: Bantam; First Edition edition (October 16, 2012)

Description: Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain’s beloved royals against an international plot—one that could change the course of history. 

As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5. Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous—and deadly—than Maggie ever expected. The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.

My Thoughts: Maggie Hope has washed out of the training that would let her spy in Europe because she lacks physical skills but that doesn't mean that her bosses at MI5 don't have a job in mind for her. Maggie is assigned as tutor to the young Princess Elizabeth to try to track down a German spy.

Maggie is grieving the loss of her almost-fiance John Sterling whose plane went down over Germany and this puzzle will help take her mind off him and his fate. As she settles into Windsor Castle, she meets many of the characters there including the soon-to-be-deceased Lady in Waiting Lily. Lily was beheaded by a wire strung between two trees when she was out riding with the young princesses. Maggie had just met her the night before and learned she was pregnant.

Wound into the investigation of her death is the mystery of missing coded messages from Bletchley Park which is tangled up with the mystery of her father. Maggie's handler in this case is Hugh Thompson who is a new romantic interest and who is also connected through his father to the events at the time of her mother's death.

The story was filled with great historical detail. I liked Maggie's take-charge attitude. I liked the setting and the interesting characters.

Favorite Quote:
"Yanks," the Admiral muttered. "Late to every war!"

"The Prime Minister is in constant contact with President Roosevelt, of course--"

"As much good as that's done. But as we all know too well from the last war, you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

YA Book Review: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Shadow of the Fox (Book 1)
Publication: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (October 2, 2018)

Description: One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

My Thoughts: SHADOW OF THE FOX begins an exciting new fantasy series with its roots in Japanese mythology. Yumeko has been raised in the isolation of the Silent Winds temple. She is half-kitsune and half-human. She has powerful kitsune magic which gives her skill with illusions. She has also inherited the kitsune magic of mischief.

When a ferocious oni attacks the temple, she is sent by Master Isao to take the temple's most prized possession - one part of the dragon scroll - to another temple which will be able to protect it. A time of change is coming. Anyone who can put all the pieces of the dragon scroll together can have a wish. Everyone with a wish for power is after all the pieces of the dragon scroll.

Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan has been sent to get the piece from the Silent Winds temple. Tatsumi carries a cursed sword and had been raised and trained to be a weapon for his clan. He arrives at Silent Winds after the oni and meets Yumeko. She convinces him to help her find the next step on her journey to find the hidden temple. She neglects to mention that she is carrying a piece of the scroll and that she is half-kitsune.

Tatsumi and Yumeko have lots of adventures on their journey and face great dangers. But they also manage to gather a group of allies. I was especially fond of the ronin Hino Okame who has quite a gift for sarcasm.

The story was rich with all sorts of greater gods, lesser gods, and demons and other parts of Japanese mythology. I loved the magic and I loved Yumeko's innocent wonder at the new world she is seeing now that she is outside of the temple where she was raised. I love her kindness which is particularly surprising to Tatsumi who has never been shown any kindness in his life.

This first episode built the world and set up the quest. Further adventures will be needed, and are planned, to carry the quest through to its conclusion. I can't wait to read them.

Favorite Quote:
"It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don't do a great job of it. The mortal world is full of hatred, betrayal, sadness and death."
I bought this one as a Kindle Daily Deal. I also downloaded and listened to the SYNC audiobook. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 15, 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...

There wasn't much "other than reading" this week. I was reading along nicely from my review stack until I got to A Killer Edition by Lorna Barrett. It should have worked. It was a cozy mystery. Check! It was about books. Check! But...it was the thirteenth book in a series. Now, I've jumped into series before and they have worked for me. But this time I read ten percent and decided that I couldn't deal with not knowing anything about the myriad of characters' back stories.

So, I went cruising through my TBR mountain and grabbed a book that has been teasing me for a while - In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I thought it was a historical mystery for some reason. Maybe the title. Maybe the author's hyphenated name. Instead a found a first novel that won six major awards and a contemporary (well, early 2000s) mystery with a main character who was a former Army helicopter pilot turned Episcopalian Priest at her first parish in upstate New York and a Chief of Police whose former career included Vietnam, the Gulf War, and years as an MP. The writing sucked me in, the characters intrigued me, their relationship added dramatic tension. I couldn't put it down until I finished it in the wee hours of the morning.

I had to read more. Luckily, I had purchased the first six books in the series in 2009. All of them were excellent stories. All were compelling and most kept me up until at least 2 AM since I couldn't put the story down until I had turned the last page. Into book 3 I knew I wanted the rest and went to Amazon to order books seven and eight in print from Amazon Marketplace. Book nine won't be published until April 2020 but I've already ordered my copy.

While I'm sorry I wasn't reading these as they were published, I am also grateful that I didn't have to wait a year or more in between books. It will be bad enough waiting until April!

Of course, this staying up late to read messed up the rest of my week. I only got out twice to exercise either because I was so tired or because I couldn't put the current book down. The All-Star break did mean I had fewer distractions watching baseball games. As I am writing this, I'm just back from the annual Greek Festival that is held at my former high school. I don't go for exhibits or performances. I just want the food! Greek food in Duluth is pretty much limited to gyros at the Mall or Arbys. There isn't a dedicated Greek restaurant in the city.

Speaking of review books, I had requested Golden in Death by J. D. Robb from Edelweiss. I love that series and have read all of them, many more than once. I was turned down. But yesterday I was browsing Edelweiss and saw that Golden in Death has shown up in my feed as being downloadable. I looked further and saw that Vendetta in Death was also available to download. Naturally, I downloaded both of them immediately. I also noticed that other titles by St. Martins were available. That publisher has never shown up in my downloadable feed before. I also noticed that books from Tor.com were showing up in my science fiction feed. It makes me curious to know if I was white-listed by those publishers or if they are just generally making them available. Either way, I am grateful and excited.

Solar Report: As of 4PM on July 13, we have created 557 kWh of electricity since the first of July and 769 kWh since the system was installed.

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 Comes to Dartmoor by Vivian Conroy (Review - August 13) - This historical mystery was entertaining. However, it is very similar to Deanna Raybourn's Veronica Speedwell mysteries but a rather pale imitation. My review will be posted on August 6.
  • In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Mine since March 27, 2009) - I was looking on TBR mountain for something to fill in the calendar space I had reserved for A Killer Edition. I noted that this one was a multi-award winning first novel and had to give it a try. It was amazing and I immediately decided to read the rest of the series. Luckily, the next five books were already on TBR mountain. My review will be posted on August 8.
  • Death in the Covenant by D. A. Bartley (Review - August 13) - Excellent thriller that takes place in Mormon country and incorporates a lot of information about that religion. My review will be posted on August 7.


  • A Fountain Filled with Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Mine since March 27, 2009) - Another great addition to the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. My review will be posted on August 14.
  • Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Mine since March 27, 2009) - Another great addition to the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. My review will be posted on August 25.
  • To Darkness and to Death by Julia Spencer-Fleming - (Mine since March 27, 2009) - Another great addition to the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. My review will be posted on September 12.


  • All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer Fleming (Mine since March 27, 2009) - Another great addition to the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. My review will be posted on September 26.
  • I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Mine since April 29, 2009) -- Another great addition to the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. My review will be posted on October 3.
  • One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Library book) - I tried out my brand-new library card to check this one out since the copy I bought hasn't arrived yet. Another great addition to the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. My review will be posted on October 10.

DNF

  • A Killer Edition by Lorna Barrett (Review) - I abandoned this one at 10%. I am sure that it would be a great book for a person who has read the first twelve books in this series. I have not and felt lost.

Currently

  • Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Mine) - The 8th in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series.

Next Week




Reviews Posted




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

Bought:

  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - this was a mistake. I have this one already, but now I will have the whole trilogy in matching bindings. This series was recalled to my mind when this book was offered as an audiobook from SYNC last week. It reminded me that I hadn't read the rest of the series.
  • The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson - Book 3 in the Shades of London series.
  • A Quiet Life in the Country by T. E. Kinsey - historical mystery and Kindle Daily Deal



Review:


What was your week like?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Book Review: Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag

Secrets to the Grave 
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Oak Knoll (Book 2)
Publication: Dutton; First Edition edition (December 28, 2010)

Description: Marissa Fordham had a past full of secrets, a present full of lies. Everyone knew of her, but no one knew her.

When Marissa is found brutally murdered, with her young daughter, Haley, resting her head on her mother's bloody breast, she sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. Already on edge with the upcoming trial of the See- No-Evil killer, residents are shocked by reports of the crime scene, which might not have been discovered for days had it not been for a chilling 911 call: a small child's voice saying, "My daddy hurt my mommy."

Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez faces a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won't fit. To assist with his witness, Haley, he calls teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone. Anne's life is hectic enough-she's a newlywed and a part- time student in child psychology, and she's the star witness in the See-No-Evil trial. But one look at Haley, alone and terrified, and Anne's heart is stolen.

As Tony and Anne begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham's life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed.

My Thoughts: This mystery takes place about a year after Deeper than the Dead. Vince has quit his job at the FBI and is doing some consulting. Anne has quit teaching fifth grade, is working on her psychology degree, and is also a child advocate for the Court system. Both of them are waiting for the trial of the man who attempted to murder Anne and likely did murder a number of other women. Anne suffers from PTSD and has nightmares.

Anne has chosen to be the advocate for 11-year-old Dennis Farman despite being told by her new husband Vince that Dennis was probably too far gone into evil to be redeemed. Sections of the book are told from Dennis's point of view and I have to agree with Vince. Dennis has violent and sexual fantasies and seems to alternate between needing Anne and wanting her dead. He's a pyromaniac with a knife fetish.

When a new child needs her, Anne is quick to volunteer. Haley is only four. She was found cradled next to her mother's brutalized and blood-soaked body. Marissa Fordham was an artist with a mysterious past. She was the protegee of local philanthropist Milo Bordain who is the wife of parking lot mogul Bruce Bordain and the mother of up-coming politician Darren Bordain. Marissa was a great mom and a girl who liked to have many men friends.

Haley is the only witness they have to Marissa's death but she is a traumatized four-year-old who calls all the men who hang around with her mother "Daddy." The Bad Daddy is the one who killed her mother. As Vince and the Sheriff's Department investigate, some people who were suspects in the earlier crime are suspects again.

This was a twisty and pulse-pounding thriller told from a variety of viewpoints. 

Favorite Quote:
"Anne, you need to learn the difference between sympathy and empathy," Worth said. "One makes you a humanitarian. The other will make you miserable."

"I'll remember that," Anne said, rising from her chair, giving the ADA a sheepish smile. "I don't know how successful I'll be adhering to it, but I'll remember it."
I bought this one July 3, 2012. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Book Review: Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Deeper Than the Dead
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Oak Knoll (Book 1)
Publication: Dutton; First Edition edition (2010)

Description: A serial killer terrorizes a small California town in this gripping thriller from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Tami Hoag.

California, 1985—Four children and young teacher Anne Navarre make a gruesome discovery: a partially buried female body, her eyes and mouth glued shut. A serial killer is at large, and the very bonds that hold their idyllic town together are about to be tested to the breaking point.

Tasked with finding the killer, FBI investigator Vince Leone employs a new and controversial FBI technique called “profiling,” which plunges him into the lives of the four children—and the young teacher whose need to uncover the truth is as intense as his own.

But as new victims are found and pressure from the media grows, Vince and Anne find themselves circling the same small group of local suspects, unsure if those who suffer most are the victims themselves—or those close to the killer, blissfully unaware that someone very near to them is a murderous psychopath…

My Thoughts: This thriller takes place in Oak Knoll, California, in 1985. There is a serial killer on the loose. His latest victim is discovered by four fifth graders. Tommy Crane and his friend Wendy Morgan are running from class bully Dennis Farman and his sidekick Cody Roache when then fall right into the victim's half-buried body. Since they are near the school, their teacher Anne Navarre joins them to see if she can help.

First on the scene is Frank Farman, Chief Deputy and Dennis's father. He's an old-school chauvinistic cop. Soon it is Tony Mendez who is in charge of trying to solve the crime. He's new school and has attended the FBI course on the new science of crime profiling. He wants to call in the FBI but Chief of Police Cal Dixon doesn't want to create more of sensation than they already have.

When Karly, a women who was at a local facility to help women who are victims on one way or another is reported missing, the director Jane Thomas fears she is the victim. However, she identifies the victim as another woman who had worked closely with the center which means that Karly is still missing.

Now the police chief has no choice but to call in some help. Tony reaches out to his mentor Vince Leone who comes to help. Vince is on the sick list at the FBI because he was shot in the head by a mugger and still has some of the bullet in his brain. He is in almost constant pain and on a number of meds. He also has had a chance to look at his life and decide that he wants to make some changes.

The mystery is quite complex. The suspects happen to be the fathers of the kids who discovered the body. Wendy's dad is the lawyer for the Center and knew two of the victims. Tommy's dad is the dentist who took care of the women at the Center for a reduced rate. Frank Farman is particularly noted for his generous distribution of traffic tickets which are disproportionately given to women and women from the Center particularly.

Each of the men has a variety of secrets and their outward seeming as pillars of the community hides all sorts of issues. Wendy's dad and mom are on the verge of divorce. Tommy's mom is subject to very frightening rages that cause his dad to leave the house frequently. Frank's wife and son are both subjected to his physical abuse.

I enjoyed the relationship that grew between Vince and Anne Navarre who has issues of her own. She lives with her narcissistic father who does nothing but belittle her. She also regrets not completing her schoolwork to become a child psychologist because her mother's death from pancreatic cancer and her last wish leaves her saddled with her ungrateful daughter.

There were twists and turns aplenty in the mystery and at one time or another I was sure that each one of the father's was guilty.

Favorite Quote:
"Talk to his wife," Dixon said, checking his watch. "I told him we have to do this by the book, and no one is more by the book than Frank. He'll deal with it."

Famous last words, Mendez would think later. For the moment it was just one more thing on the endless checklist of a murder investigation.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday Memes: Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

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:
My Hero
My hero is my dad. He is a great person. He works hard, is nice to everyone, and tries to help people.
His victim would have screamed if she could have. He had seen to it she could not open her mouth. There would have been terror in her eyes. He had made certain she could not open them. He had rendered her blind and mute, making her the perfect woman. Beautiful. Seen and not heard. Obedient. He had immobilized her so she could not fight him.
Friday 56:
"Tell me about Tommy."

"Tommy?" Anne Navarre turned her back to the windows, leaned back against the credenza, and crossed her arms -- but not as tightly as before. "He's very bright, conscientious, quiet, sweet."

"He has a crush on you."

She made a little face and shook her head.
This week I am spotlighting Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag which has been hanging around on my TBR mountain since Jan. 12, 2011. Here is the description from Amazon:
A serial killer terrorizes a small California town in this gripping thriller from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Tami Hoag.

California, 1985—Four children and young teacher Anne Navarre make a gruesome discovery: a partially buried female body, her eyes and mouth glued shut. A serial killer is at large, and the very bonds that hold their idyllic town together are about to be tested to the breaking point.

Tasked with finding the killer, FBI investigator Vince Leone employs a new and controversial FBI technique called “profiling,” which plunges him into the lives of the four children—and the young teacher whose need to uncover the truth is as intense as his own.

But as new victims are found and pressure from the media grows, Vince and Anne find themselves circling the same small group of local suspects, unsure if those who suffer most are the victims themselves—or those close to the killer, blissfully unaware that someone very near to them is a murderous psychopath…

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Review: The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre

The Demon Prince
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Ars Numina Book 2
Publication: Self-Published (March 23, 2017)

Description: Charming. Irreverent. Haunted.

Alastor Vega is the sole challenger in a brutal battle for succession. Against all odds, he must stop his power-mad brother, Tycho, before he destroys the Numina. Though he never wanted to rule, he must claim the throne and liberate his people, or the consequences will be calamitous. Yet only the surprising support of a beautiful Animari doctor gives him the fortitude to fight.

Focused. Analytical. Solitary.

Dr. Sheyla Halek has always been more interested in research than personal contact, but family ties—and the needs of her pride—keep her in Ash Valley, deferring her dreams. Brusque and abrasive at the best of times, she never expected to bond with anyone, let alone Golgoth royalty. Strangely, Alastor seems to need her as no one has before, and not only for her medical skills.

Their attraction is forbidden, likely doomed beyond the wildness of wartime, but these fires burn too hot and sweet to be contained…

My Thoughts: This was an engaging paranormal romance that didn't get off to a good start for either character. Alastor doesn't want to be king of his people but he wants to get rid of his brutal and evil brother to protect his people. He also suffers from a genetic illness that is only partially controlled by the physicians under his brother's control.

After an attack by his brother on Ash Valley which is hosting the renewal of the peace accords, he feels he has no choice but to take the war to his brother. Unfortunately, his brother has the army and he has only a very loyal group of guards. He does manage to convince the other participants in the peace process to become his allies but trust is difficult to come by.

Dr. Sheyla Halek is very reluctantly trying to keep him alive. She has enough to do taking care of those wounded when Ash Valley was attacked. Sheyla is an interesting character who doesn't have very good people skills and really doesn't care about that. She would be perfectly content doing her scientific research all day.

At first, Alastor and Sheyla don't really like each other. He thinks she is humorless; she thinks he is too flippant. However, as they get to know each other traveling to Hallowell which is his brother's next target, they come to appreciate each other.

The romance certainly isn't a smooth or easy one. He should be forming an alliance with an Eldritch princess and her family is certain that he and his people are demonkind.

I enjoyed the romance which is certainly on the spicy side and loved the military action and battles in the book. This is the second book in the Ars Numina series. I recommend reading the series in order. Book one helps set the big picture and introduces Alastor. This book provides a lot more depth on his life and what his culture it like.

Favorite Quote:
"History is full of great battles where a minuscule defense force faced a monstrous invading army."

Sheyla spoke through clenched teeth. "And the one thing those stories have in common? Crushing defeat."

"I'm glad I got to see you before our departure. Your pop talks are so bracing."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Book Review: The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, & Lauren Willig

The Forgotten Room
Author: Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig
Publication: Berkley; Reprint edition (October 25, 2016)

Description: New York Times bestselling authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig present a masterful collaboration—a rich, multigenerational novel of love and loss that spans half a century....

1945: When critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenel is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s miniature portrait who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Olive Van Alan, driven in the Gilded Age from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Lucy Young, who in the Jazz Age came from Brooklyn to Manhattan seeking the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

My Thoughts: This is the story of three women and the connections between them.

Olive, in 1892, is the daughter of an architect who committed suicide after his wealthy client failed to pay him for designing his house. Olive goes undercover as a housemaid to find out a way to discredit the man and ends up falling in love with his artist son. But a housemaid and a wealthy man is just a recipe for disaster and her lack of faith in him causes her to marry another man. The heartbroken artist disappears and is never heard from again.

Lucy, in 1920, takes a job in a law firm to find out about her own past and her mother's. She believes that the missing artist was her father. Meanwhile, John Ravenel has come to New York to learn the hidden past of his father, a famous artist. He and Lucy fall in love but he has failed to disclose that he is already married and has a son. She marries another man but still regrets the loss of her "true love."

Kate, in 1944, is a doctor who has a patient named Captain Cooper Ravenel who carries a miniature that looks incredibly like Kate and who is wearing a ruby pendant that matches the one Kate inherited from her mother. The two of them try to solve the mystery of his pendant and her necklace and fall in love. Their love is complicated both by his fiancee and her focus on her career.

I enjoyed this story of three women who all were trying to solve mysteries and who found and lost love along the way. One connecting piece of the story was the Pratt mansion which became Lucy's boarding house for respectable women and Kate's hospital to deal with soldiers with war wounds. Another connection is the ruby pendant and the miniature which all three women have.

This was an interesting exploration of the roles of women and the options they had at various times in the past from Olive who had few choices and Kate who had many. It was also a story about mothers and daughters and fathers and daughters.

Favorite Quote:
"It's the only thing of real value - besides the mink coat - that I inherited from my mother. She never wore it - which is why I'm pretty sure my father hadn't given it to her. But sometimes, I'd catch her trying it on and looking at herself in the mirror. I always assumed it came from her mother, but my grandmother was a baker's wife. I can't see how he could have ever afforded a piece of jewelry from Tiffany's."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.