Sunday, June 16, 2019

Book Review: Shoot to Thrill by P. J. Tracy

Shoot to Thrill
Author: P. J. Tracy
Series: Monkeewrench (Book 5)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (April 29, 2010)

Description: The Monkeewrench crew returns in a stunning new thriller.It's eighty-five degrees in the shade when Minneapolis detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth pull into the MPD parking garage. They're driving a tricked-out Caddy, repossessed from a low-level drug dealer. It's not a Beemer or a Mercedes, but it's got GPS, air-conditioning, and power seats with more positions than the Kama Sutra. Things are heating up inside the station-house, too. The bomb squad's off to investigate another suspicious package at the mall, and kids are beating the crap out of one another and posting it on YouTube. And before Magozzi and Rolseth can wish for a straight-on homicide, the call comes in: a floater.Soon they're humping it along a derelict stretch of the Mississippi River, beyond the green places where families picnic and admire the views. They can see her- she looks like a bride in her white formal gown- face down, dead in the water. And so it begins.

My Thoughts: Magozzi and Rolseth's most recent case is that of a transvestite dressed as a bride found face down in the Mississippi River. At first it looks like an accident, but that changes to murder when it is learned that someone videoed the murder and posted it on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Grace and the Monkeewrench gang are trying to write some software that can distinguish between videos that fake murders and those that are real. They are working with FBI Agent John Smith who is nearing his mandatory retirement date and wondering what he is going to do with the rest of his life.

When it is discovered that there is a chatroom where murderers and would-be murderers can go and brag about their kills, the case and the project come together. The Monkeewrench gang and the police work together to try to find the killers before they can kill again.

A side issue has to do with the disaffected using the internet to get their fifteen minutes of fame with a case of someone leaving packages with suspicious contents all over the Twin Cities. This story talks a lot about the negative side of the Web since it gives a forum for crazies of all kinds.

I thought it was a great story and a thought-provoking one too.

Favorite Quote:
"And by the way, the Web is really starting to piss me off. It's like a meet-and-greet for sociopaths all of a sudden."

"Access and anonymity. If you're a scumbag, it's the perfect storm. But in the end, it's the same old criminals, just a different venue.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Book Review: Straight by Dick Francis

Straight
Author: Dick Francis
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons (February 7, 2006)

Description: In this mystery from New York Times bestselling author Dick Francis, a jockey becomes the sole inheritor of his late brother's business, horse, mistress, and enemies.

Steeplechase jockey Derek Franklin has had more broken bones than he cares to count, but it seems his latest injury could very well bring his days on the race course to a screeching halt. But that’s the least of his concerns when his brother turns up dead, leaving Derek as the sole inheritor of his estate.

It doesn’t take long for Derek to learn that his brother—a magistrate who imported and sold semiprecious stones—was keeping more than his share of secrets. Now Derek must recover $1.5 million worth of missing diamonds—and find out who wanted his brother dead—or else his career won’t be the only thing in danger of being cut short...

My Thoughts: Champion steeplechase jockey Derek Franklin is nursing a broken ankle caused by a fall and an encounter with a horse's hoof when he receives a call that his much older brother Greville was in hospital after some scaffolding fell on him in Ipswich.

Derek and Greville had reconnected only a few years earlier. The nineteen year age gap was difficult for them to overcome until Derek became an adult himself. Recently, though, they had been meeting for occasional dinners and exchanging occasional phone calls. Derek rushes to Ipswich to be present when Greville passes away. Then he has to try to settle the affairs of a man who was known for keeping secrets.

Greville was a gem merchant with his own firm. Derek has inherited it and all of his other property including his two race horses. When he learns that his brother had purchased a number of diamonds for a famed jeweler, all of the employees at the firm are surprised. The firm didn't deal in diamonds. Worse yet, the diamonds are missing and the loan payment for them is coming due.

The racehorses are also a problem. They are kept with noted trainer Nicholas Loder. But Derek as a jockey can't own racehorses. Derek gets bad vibes from Loder when he phones him to discuss the horses. Loder is angry and also frightened.

This gives Derek two different mysteries to solve and someone doesn't want him to solve either of them. Besides an attack when he is leaving the hospital after his brother's death, he also has to deal with break-ins at the business and at Greville's home. Then there is the car accident when the man chauffeuring Derek and a couple of horse owners from a race. The driver is killed and it as a near thing for Derek who is trapped in the car.

The story was fast-paced and entertaining. Derek was a wonderful character who is bright and observant and out of his depth trying to run his brother's business. Like many of Dick Francis's characters, he is an honorable and bright man dropped into a difficult situation.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't forgive it. Or forget. But after wars, enemies trade." It always happened, I thought, though cynics might mock. Mutual benefit was the most powerful of bridge-builders, even if the heart remained bitter. "We'll see how we go," I said again.
I bought this one in hardcover when it was released and in Kindle copy when it was a recent Kindle Deal. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday Memes: Straight by Dick 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:
I inherited my brother's life. I inherited his desk, his business, his gadgets, his enemies, his horses and his mistress. I inherited my brother's life, and it nearly killed me.
Friday 56:
I let myself into the house and regretted the embargo on a large scotch. Instead, with June's lunchtime sandwich a distant memory, I refueled with sardines on toast and ice cream after, which more or less reflected my habitual laziness about cooking.
This week I am spotlighting Straight by Dick Francis. I read this one years ago but couldn't resist when it was offered as a Kindle Daily Deal. Here is the description from Amazon:
In this mystery from New York Times bestselling author Dick Francis, a jockey becomes the sole inheritor of his late brother's business, horse, mistress, and enemies.

Steeplechase jockey Derek Franklin has had more broken bones than he cares to count, but it seems his latest injury could very well bring his days on the race course to a screeching halt. But that’s the least of his concerns when his brother turns up dead, leaving Derek as the sole inheritor of his estate.

It doesn’t take long for Derek to learn that his brother—a magistrate who imported and sold semiprecious stones—was keeping more than his share of secrets. Now Derek must recover $1.5 million worth of missing diamonds—and find out who wanted his brother dead—or else his career won’t be the only thing in danger of being cut short...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Book Review: The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre

The Leopard King
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Ars Numina Book 1
Publication: Self-Published (September 28, 2016)

Description: Proud. Imperious. Impassioned.

Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he's wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die.

Fierce. Loyal. Determined.

Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate's best friend. She's had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she's prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war.

At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there's no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don't know what they're looking for until they find it.

My Thoughts: Pack leader Dominic Asher has made himself a recluse since the death of his beloved wife. But now with the conclave approaching to renew the peace accords, Pru Bristow has to bring him back home.

Pru was his wife's best friend and is still grieving herself. Dom makes a deal with her: if she can finally shift, he'll become her mate and go back to the pack. Since Pru has been doing all sorts of very dangerous things to finally trigger her latent shifting abilities, Dom thinks he's safe. But when they two of them are attacked, Pru shifts to save him.

Pru is a bundle of insecurities. She was rejected by the cat she wanted for a mate because she couldn't shift. Slay had kept up a sort of casual relationship with her since but that added to her insecurity rather than diminished it.

Even after finally shifting, Pru is certain that Dom's heart is still with his first mate and that he has become her mate only because of his vow. Meanwhile, Dom is falling in love with the gallant, courageous, and good-hearted Pru.

However, with the peace accords breaking down, and invasion imminent, Pru and Dom have bigger worries than their relationship. Balancing allies and locating enemies has to take top priority. It doesn't matter that Slay was really in love with Pru and just waiting for his mother to die before he told her. Now Pru has made her total commitment to Dom and they will work together for their pack.

This was engaging and spicy. There were a lot of misunderstandings between Dom and Pru that took a while to be cleared up. This is the first of a series of books and I'm eager to read more.

Favorite Quote:
"World of hurt, I know. I'm familiar with your rhetoric."

"My what?"

"Bombast. Grandiloquence. Orotundity."

"You're just making up words now." Dom smiled, despite the fact that she was clearly insulting him. Normally, the pride didn't give him shit like this, part of being the exalted leader.

He didn't hate it.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

ARC Review: A Merciful Promise by Kendra Elliot

A Merciful Promise
Author: Kendra Elliot
Series: Mercy Kilpatrick (Book 6)
Publication: Montlake Romance (June 18, 2019)

Description: The Wall Street Journal bestselling series continues as Mercy Kilpatrick becomes embedded in the nightmare of a terrorist conspiracy.

The job: infiltrate a militia amassing illegal firearms in an isolated forest community. FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is the ideal candidate. She knows Oregon. She’s near the compound. And having been raised among survivalists, Mercy understands the mind-set of fanatics. Lay low, follow rules, do nothing to sound an alarm, and relinquish all contact with the outside world. She’s ready to blend in.

As Mercy disappears into the winter hills, something just as foreboding emerges. Mercy’s fiancĂ©, Eagle’s Nest police chief Truman Daly, is faced with a puzzling series of murders—three men dumped in random locations after execution-style shootings.

Now, for Mercy, trapped in a culture where suspicion is second nature, and betrayal is punishable to the extreme, there is no way out. No way to call for help. And as plans for a catastrophic terrorist event escalate, there may be no way to stop them. Even if Mercy dies trying.

My Thoughts: Truman and Mercy are just three months away from their Christmas wedding when Mercy is tapped for an undercover assignment to look for stolen weapons and a plot to use them in a secretive militaristic compound deep in a rural area. She has less than a day to prepare since she is filling in for an agent who suddenly contracted Shingles. She can't tell anyone where she is going or how long she'll be gone.

Meanwhile, Truman who is left at home is suddenly involved in a case of his own when random dead bodies are turning up stripped to their underwear and shot in the head.

As Truman worries about Mercy, she finds herself in a compound where she isn't sure that she can trust her partner who seems to be proceeding much too slowly for Mercy's liking. Mercy's cover is that of someone with nursing experience which immediately gets her involved with a heavily pregnant woman and some sick children. Since the attitude of the group is that medical intervention is a government plot to control people, Mercy has a fight on her hands to get help for the sick child.

When her partner disappears and Mercy fears for him, she is left alone, unable to communicate with anyone outside, and with only a sixteen-year-old girl for an ally. Her identity betrayed to the leader, Mercy is in great danger when she gets help from an unexpected source that might be enough to save her. Meanwhile, after her partner's body is discovered, Truman learns where she is and the danger she's in and is determined to find her.

This was an action packed, intense conclusion to the Mercy Kilpatrick series. It was well written and fast-paced and, best of all, it looks like a happy ending for Mercy and Truman and the family that they have built.

Favorite Quote:
Shock froze Truman midstride. "Jesus, Britta. You could have told me on the phone that it was a dead body. Or when I arrived." His breakfast threatened to reappear.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Book Review: Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

Wolf Rain 
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity Book 3
Publication: Berkley (June 4, 2019)

Description: The fate of millions of lives hangs in the balance in this new Psy-Changeling Trinity novel from New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh...

Kidnapped as a young girl, her psychic powers harnessed by a madman, Memory lives a caged and isolated existence...until she comes face-to-face with a wolf. Labelled an empath by her bad-tempered rescuer, Memory knows that her 'gift' is nothing so bright. It is a terrible darkness that means she will always be hunted.

But Memory is free now and she intends to live. A certain growly wolf can just deal with it.

Alexei prefers to keep his packmates at bay, the bleak history of his family a constant reminder that mating, love, hope is not for him. But Memory, this defiant and fearless woman who stands toe-to-toe with him awakens the most primal part of his nature--and soon, he must make a choice: risk everything or lose Memory to a murderous darkness that wants to annihilate her from existence...

My Thoughts: This latest in the Psy-Changeling series is centered around the SnowDancer pack of wolves. It especially features Alexi who is one of the lieutenants and a wolf with a deep well of sorrow. His beloved older brother turned rogue and killed his wife before the pack executed him. Besides being angry at his brother, Alexei has deep fears that he will also turn rogue someday.

While Alexei is out for some solitary time in the far reaches of his territory, he is drawn in to a very strong feeling of grief. He has to find the grieving one and assuage their grief. His search leads him to Memory, a Psy empath who has been kept prisoner by a psychopath for fifteen years - since she was eight. Memory is found in a hitherto unknown bunker holding on to the body of her only companion, a cat she named Jitterbug.

Memory is convinced that she is a monster because she was forced to help the psychopath commit his crimes. But Alexei sees the strength and goodness in her and takes her to the training camp where Es are being taught to use their gifts. It is only since Silence fell that Es have been recognized. Their talents weren't valued while Silence reigned.

But it might be the Es who are the only thing holding the failing PsyNet together. The new council is very concerned about the threat of imminent failure of the PsyNet and the millions of deaths of Psy that will ensue it fails. While the wolves and the Arrows are trying to track down Memory's captor, there is still another threat weakening the PsyNet.

I loved the fast pace and the emotional intensity of this episode. I loved Memory's determination to survive, triumph over her enemy, and win the love of her wolf. I loved Alexei's playfulness and determination to protect and shelter his E despite his fears for their future. The romance was hot and very romantic and emotionally intense.

This was an excellent addition to an already strong series.

Favorite Quote:
Unfettered respect wiped away his earlier pity, his wolf looked at her with new eyes. This was how she survived in that bunker.

The woman beside him was a fighter. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, June 10, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 10, 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 has been a good week. I have been doing a lot of walking along with my Curves visits. The weather has been just great!

This week saw a visit from a service that analyzes our home energy uses and suggests ways to improve. It was a free service and required by our power company before we can do our solar install. We got a lot of good ideas along with some freebies including energy efficient light bulbs, an energy efficient power strip, and even a low water flow shower head. Of course, there were also ideas we have no intention of implementing. We like have two refrigerators and two freezers and the freezers, at least, are almost always full!

Weather permitting (and thunderstorms are in the forecast), our solar install will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The man who called from the installing company said they like to start work at 7 AM. He heard my whimper when he said that. Days don't count as starting for me until the time reaches double digits! I am definitely a night owl. Oh, well, it should only be a couple of days.

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.)

  • Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop (Mine and a reread)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Mine 2019) - This is the first Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell historical mystery. I read it years ago and didn't keep the book. I got the Kindle copy. My review will be posted on August 18. It was scheduled earlier but I needed to move it for July 9 releases that I got this week.
  • The Pawful Truth by Miranda James (July 16) - This is the eleventh book in the Cat in the Stacks cozy mystery series. I've only read two but enjoyed this story of Librarian Charlie Harris getting involved in another mystery and solving it with the help of his Maine coon cat Diesel. My review will be posted on July 9.


  • Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg (July 9) - This was an excellent contemporary YA story about a girl who discovers that she was kidnapped by her father as a toddler when she applies to college. Her sense of identity is tested when her mother, who had been looking for her for 15 years, sweeps in and takes her back to a life and people she doesn't know or want. My review will be posted on July 6.
  • Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh (Mine 2019) - The latest in the Psy-Changeling series was another excellent paranormal romance with a lot of suspense too. My review will be posted on June 11.


  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (July 9) - This laugh-out-loud contemporary romance tells the story of Nina Hill who discovers, after the death of the father she never knew, that she has sisters, a brother, nieces, nephews, and even great-nieces and nephews which really rocks the world of this solitary, anxiety-prone bookworm. My review will be posted on July 7.
  • The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey (Mine 2019) - I really enjoy the Valdemar fantasy stories by Lackey and had been waiting until the paperback was released to lower the Kindle price before buying this one. It was a great story that would work quite well as a YA or even Middle Grade title. My review will be posted July 3.

Currently

  • Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey (July 9)

Next Week




Reviews Posted




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

Bought:


Review:




What was your week like?


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Review: Snow Blind by P. J. Tracy

Snow Blind
Author: P. J. Tracy
Series: Monkeewrench (Book 4)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons (July 3, 2007)

Description: When the corpses of three police officers are discovered entombed in snowmen, Grace MacBride and her team of crime-busting computer jocks at the Monkeewrench firm are called in to assist. What they discover is a terrifying link among the victims that reaches beyond the badge and crosses the line between hard justice and stone cold vengeance.

My Thoughts: After a mild winter in Minnesota, April comes in with snow - lots and lots of snow. That is great for the police department festival which includes ski races and kids building snowmen. However, it also gives someone an opportunity to kill and encase their victims in snowmen.

Two of the snowmen contain the bodies of two police officers which gets Magozzi and Gino looking for reasons they were killed and the murderer. When another man embedded in a snowman is found in a Northern Minnesota county, Magozzi and Gino drive through a snowstorm looking for connections. What they find is a new, rookie Sheriff who is on her first day and feeling very much over her head. They also find a settlement called Bitterroot which houses almost 400 women who were victims of domestic abuse.

Meanwhile, the Monkeewrench gang, who did some security for Bitterroot but didn't know its purpose, have run across a mention of Minnesota snowmen in a secure chat room posted before the murdered cops were found. Even though they are computer geniuses, they are having a very hard time getting through the site's firewalls to find out who posted the messages.

This case cuts very close to home for Gino who has a daughter in her midteens. He can easily understand why a person would murder an abuser. But self-defense seems to be sliding into vigilantism. The only problem is that they can't prove what they believe.

This was an excellent thriller about a very timely topic and with a way of concealing murder victims that is quite haunting and very creepy. My only complaint about this story was that I wanted to see the Monkeewrench crew have a bigger role and more time on the page.

Favorite Quote:
"When the sun comes out in Hawaii, it warms up. When the sun comes out in Puerto Vallarta, it warms up. When the sun comes out in Minnesota in January, you just go snow-blind."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Book Review: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White

The Glass Ocean
Author: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White
Publication: William Morrow (September 4, 2018)

Description: The lives and loves of three remarkable women—two in the past, one in the present—and the tragic final voyage of the HMS Lusitania.

From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013 
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915 
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.

My Thoughts: I loved THE GLASS OCEAN. It beautifully wove the stories of three women and two time periods into a compelling and intriguing story.

In 2013, Sarah Blake is desperately searching for an idea for her next book. Her first was a best seller and made her a literary sensation. It also made her a bunch of money. But, with a mother with early-onset Alzheimer's and in need of expensive care, she needs a new idea fast. She decides to break a promise to her mother and open a chest that has been locked since her great-grandparents' time. In it, she finds the effects of her great-grandfather who died on the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. Some of the things she finds, including a watch with an interesting inscription, sends her to England to try to get into the archives of the Langford family.

The owner of the archive is John Langford who happens to be a disgraced politician who was forced to resign because of a scandal caused by his late wife. He isn't interested in sharing potential family secrets with Sarah as he sees her as someone else who wants to exploit him. When the paparazzi catch the two of them together, he decides that sharing his archives with her will have the benefit of getting them both out of London.

The other part of the story takes place in April and May of 1915 and follows two very different women who are passengers on the Lusitania on its final voyage. Caroline Hochstetter is a former Southern belle who married an older, wealthy man who made his money in the iron and steel business. She deeply loves him but their marriage is in trouble because Gilbert has become pre-occupied with business and who tries to treat her like a pretty doll. She's hoping the voyage will give them a chance to rekindle their marriage. She's surprised when old friend Robert Langford is also on the trip. She has known him since her debut and considers him a good friend and companion. However, Robert fell in love with her when the first met and he's been pining for her ever since.

Tess Fairweather is also on the trip. She and her sister have a long history of con games and various swindles. Tess wants to leave the life and start anew in England. She is an excellent, though untaught, artist and is the team's forger. Her sister wants her to make a copy of a Strauss waltz that is in the Hochstetter's safe. Gilbert gave Caroline the unpublished and priceless waltz as a gift but now has convinced her that they have to sell it in England. Tess keeps running into Robert as she tries to get access to the waltz and she falls in love with him.

This book has secrets and spies and romance and heartbreak and happy endings. It was a great story.

Favorite Quote:
"You should let me know when I'm walking too fast," he said reprovingly.

"You should notice when you're walking to fast," I said, "or else you're going to have to turn in your English Gentleman certification card."

"I apologize. I was counting on your shrill American voice to keep me in check."

He hadn't stopped, but he'd shortened his stride, and as I caught up and glanced at the side of his face, I saw he was grinning. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday Memes: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams

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:
New York City
May 2013

The evening had turned blue and soft, the way New York does in May, and I decided to walk to the book clug and save the bus fare. According to Mimi's Facebook message, the group was gathering at her apartment on Park Avenue, deep inside the plummy center of the Seventies -- at least thirty minutes from my place on Riverside Drive -- but I didn't mind. I was a New Yorker, I could walk all day. Anyway, a brisk hike (or so I told myself, scrolling through the Mimi message chain for the millionth time that afternoon) would settle my nerves.
Friday 56:
Ginny scowled at her. "Are you that naive, Ten? Sure, the Germans want it -- but they'll do what they have to do to keep the English from getting it. If they can't have it, no one can have it. So I plan to make darn sure that they have it."
This week I am spotlighting The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White. It was a recent Kindle Daily Deal. Here is the description from Amazon:
The lives and loves of three remarkable women—two in the past, one in the present—and the tragic final voyage of the HMS Lusitania.

From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

ARC Review: The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy

The Old Man in the Corner
Author: Baroness Orczy
Series: The Teahouse Detective (Volume 1)
Publication: Pushkin Vertigo (June 11, 2019)

Description: A classic collection of mysteries from the Golden Age of British crime writing, by the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Mysteries! There is no such thing as a mystery in connection with any crime, provided intelligence is brought to bear upon its investigation.

So says a rather down-at-heel elderly gentleman to young Polly Burton of the Evening Observer, in the corner of the ABC teashop on Norfolk Street one afternoon. Once she has forgiven him for distracting her from her newspaper and luncheon, Miss Burton discovers that her interlocutor is as brilliantly gifted as he is eccentric - able to solve mysteries that have made headlines and baffled the finest minds of the police without once leaving his seat in the teahouse.

The Old Man in the Corner is a classic collection of mysteries featuring the Teahouse Detective - a contemporary of Sherlock Holmes, with a brilliant mind and waspish temperament to match that of Conan Doyle's creation.

My Thoughts: This was an interesting reading experience. It is compared to Sherlock Holmes which is why I chose to read it, but I was disappointed. The book is a collection of mysteries that all follow the same pattern. Young reporter Polly Burton meets an elderly man at the teashop where she routinely goes for lunch and he gives her the solution to a number of criminal cases that have made headlines and baffled the police.

My main problem with this is that the nameless man never feels any need to share his conclusions with the police and, in fact, seems to admire those criminals who have managed to get away with their crimes. In addition, he solves all of his cases purely in terms of logical evaluations of the circumstances of the crime with no need to bother with pesky details like evidence or proof.

I also found the book rampant with prejudices that would make them impossible to publish in our more sensitive time. I think feminists would be up in arms to read that the detective believes that only a woman would stab a man in the back since no Englishman would ever do so. These stories had it all from classism to sexism and probably any number of other isms.

People curious about mystery fiction from the early 1900s may enjoy this collection.

Favorite Quote:
When I read the account of the murder--the knife! stabbing!--bah! Don't I know enough of English crime not to be certain at once that no Englishman, be he ruffian from the gutter or be he Duke's son, ever stabs his victim in the back. Italians, French, Spaniards do it, if you will, and women of most nations. An Englishman's instinct is to strike and not to stab. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

ARC Review: Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon

Sweet Tea and Secrets
Author: Joy Avon
Series: Book Tea Shop Mystery
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (June 11, 2019)

Description: Sleuth Callie Aspen wants to light up the Fourth of July tea party by solving a celebrity’s decades-old disappearance, but her digging results in more fireworks than she expects.

Last Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart's Harbor, Maine. Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt’s vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue. Though she’s excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her. Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate key moments from the town's rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart's Harbor before she vanished—allegedly to elope—Callie probes the townsfolk for information. She’s stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica's disappearance. Did she intend to leave her hit TV series? Was she being stalked by her ex? And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the story at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer. But it’s no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn’t want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they’d been at liberty to admit. If Callie and the Book Tea crew can’t crack the case, they’ll pay a very steep price in Joy Avon's explosive second Tea and a Read mystery.

My Thoughts: Callie Aspen has given up her job as a tour guide for Travel the Past and come home to the place where she spent her summers as a child to work with her Great Aunt Iphy at Book Tea in Heart's Harbor, Maine. When she was back home for Christmas, she was instrumental in solving a murder. She's hoping that doesn't happen again.

Her aunt has found her a cottage to rent and even found a handyman to do the needed cosmetic repairs. The cottage is by an old lighthouse and her nearest neighbors are the former keeper and his wife.

Since plans are underway for a big Fourth of July celebration, Iphy asks Callie to find some historical event to spotlight. Her handyman Quinn suggests that Callie look into the disappearance of Monica Walker. The famous television actress was last seen in Heart's Harbor in 1989. Quinn's behavior is a little suspicious. Why is he concerned about the disappearing actress? Why does he say he camping out when the local hotel owner says he has rooms there?

Things get even more complicated when the editor of the local newspaper, who had been the reporter who investigated the original disappearance, is found murdered in his office. Quinn isn't the only one who is under suspicion. Callie's light house keeping neighbor is also behaving very suspiciously.

Callie wants to get involved in the investigation despite police officer Falk's disapproval. Callie and Falk had begun a romance when Callie was there at Christmas but now Falk is pulling away. Along with Callie's doubts about whether or not she should have given up her job and changed her life, Callie is wondering whether she made the right decision in coming back home.

This was an entertaining cozy mystery with interesting characters and a great setting. I liked Callie's rescue dog and the new rescue dog that she is trying to find a permanent home for.

Favorite Quote:
Falk glanced at her. "So you're going to settle here? It's not just for the summer vacation?"

"No. I resigned at Travel the Past, and my apartment is going to be rented to somebody else soon. I came out here with most of my stuff packed into a few suitcases, and the rest will follow shortly." As she said it, her throat constricted again. Had it been the right decision? Could she make it work? "I thought that...well, never mind."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

ARC Review: The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason

The Darwin Affair
Author: Tim Mason
Publication: Algonquin Books (June 11, 2019)

Description: Within three weeks of the publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, despite the immediate outrage it created among scholars and England’s powerful clergy, Darwin’s name was added to the list of men who would be knighted by Queen Victoria. History shows that this was an honor he was never to receive.

Tim Mason’s debut novel, The Darwin Affair, takes the reader back to that time, and, through a London police inspector named Charles Field---a real-life policemen whom Charles Dickens immortalized as the inspiration for Inspector Bucket in his novel Bleak House—tells us the story of how forces conspired to keep Darwin and the Queen apart.

Cleverly combining historical figures with an original cast of fictional ne’er-do-wells, Mason weaves a richly atmospheric detective story that features the Chorister, one of the most diabolical and eccentric literary villains ever created.

Fast-paced and filled with twists and turns, The Darwin Affair is a treat for all mystery and thriller fans, and marks the arrival of a distinctively inventive writer. Get ready for an exhilarating experience as the story gallops, steams, and roars from London to Germany and back, taking readers on an exciting ride into a dark but momentous era, accompanied by some of the most fascinating characters fiction—and real life--has ever produced.

My Thoughts: This historical mystery is set in 1860 and concerns itself with a plot to keep Charles Darwin from being granted honors by the Queen. Darwin's Origin of the Species has caused all sorts of furor in Great Britain and around the world. Prince Albert, an amateur naturalist himself, is much in favor of granting Darwin this honor but a cohort of religious leaders, business leaders, and other scientists are completely opposed to this.

This cohort is so opposed that they have set a villain known as the Chorister on the trail of Prince Albert. They want him dead. The Chorister is quite a villain. He has left a trail of dead bodies behind him, most missing their left ear, which he keeps as a souvenir. The Chorister, also know as Decimus Cobb and Will Tailor, has kidnapped and subverted to his service a number of people, including young Tom Ginty who was formerly a butcher's apprentice.

Opposing him is police inspector Charles Field whom Charles Dickens used as an inspiration for Inspector Bucket in one of his novels. This has brought Field a lot of fame which is both a plus and a minus in his police career. Field's fame does give him access to Prince Albert but he has trouble convincing him that he is in danger from the Chorister. Many of the men in Albert's close circle are the ones who originally hired the Chorister and have convinced Albert that there really isn't a conspiracy to assassinate him.

The nineteenth century in all of its glory was shown in this story from the scientific achievements of the age to the young orphans digging in the mud of the Thames for something to sell for their survival. We have cameos from a number of the famous from that time period from Charles Darwin to Charles Dickens to Karl Marx.

This was an entertaining story that was more a thriller than a mystery since we knew the identity of the villain from very early in the book and the suspense came from wondering whether Field could apprehend him before he managed to kill Prince Albert.

Favorite Quote:
"Mr. Gates, I believe my husband to be one one the greatest natural philosophers who ever lived. He is without doubt the kindest husband and father the most decent of men. And I live in desperate fear for his eternal soul." She looked at David searchingly.

"Surely you, a divinity student, can understand my feelings?"

He didn't know what to say so he said nothing.

"If we are not created in the image of God, who are we? What are we? Accidents of nature?"

"I do not know, ma'am. I believe us to be God's creatures, however he created us."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, June 3, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 3, 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 was another quiet week which featured our first day with a temperature over 80. Of course, the next day the high didn't reach 60 which is typical for Spring in Duluth. My brother found a day when he was home during daylight and there was no rain to mow the lawn. The lawn care guys also came and did a weed and feed. It's nice to be dandelions free even though our next door neighbors yard is yellow with them.

I was in a rereading binge this week and I picked books to fill out my July calendar. Most of them are hardcovers that have been sitting on my TBR mountain for a while. I don't know what I'm going to do once my TBR mountain contains only mass market paperbacks. I prefer Kindle or trade paperbacks or hardcovers when I read.

May Reading

I read 34 books in May for a total of 11,593 pages. Only 7 were review books. I reread 10 books this month revisiting The Others series by Anne Bishop. 27 of the 34 books were ebooks.

I added 30 books to my LibraryThing account. Only 12 of them are still on TBR mountain and most of those are on my calendar to read for July review. Eight of my new books are review copies. I still have six of them to read. Eighteen of the new books were Kindle books. Two were audiobooks.

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.)

  • No Matter How Improbable by Angela Misri (Mine) - Third in a historical mystery series. My review will be posted on July 4.
  • Nothing Stays Buried by P. J. Tracy (mine) - Monkeewrench mystery. I think I'm caught up until I read the new one for September review. My review will be posted on July 7.
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Mine) - reread


  • Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop (Mine) - reread
  • Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop (Mine) - reread
  • Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop (Mine) - reread

Currently

  • Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop (Mine) - reread

Next Week




Reviews Posted




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

All for my review stack this week:


What was your week like?


Sunday, June 2, 2019

ARC Review: The Book Supremacy by Kate Carlisle

The Book Supremacy
Author: Kate Carlisle
Series: Bibliophile Mystery (Book 13)
Publication: Berkley (June 4, 2019)

Description: In the latest in this New York Times bestselling series, San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright investigates a mysterious spy novel linked to a string of murders...

Newlyweds Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying the final days of their honeymoon in Paris. As they're browsing the book stalls along the Seine, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for Derek, a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. When they bump into Ned, an old friend from Derek’s spy days, Brooklyn shows him her latest treasure.

Once they're back home in San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned mentioned. The owner begs them to let him display the book Brooklyn found in Paris as part of the shop's first anniversary celebration. Before they agree, Derek makes sure the security is up to snuff—turns out, the unassuming book is worth a great deal more than sentimental value.

Soon after, Derek is dismayed when he receives a mysterious letter from Paris announcing Ned’s death. Then late one night, someone is killed inside the spy shop. Are the murders connected to Brooklyn's rare, pricey book? Is there something even more sinister afoot? Brooklyn and the spy who loves her will have to delve into the darkest parts of Derek's past to unmask an enemy who's been waiting for the chance to destroy everything they hold dear.

My Thoughts: Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying their last day of their honeymoon in Paris by browsing book stalls of used books. While Brooklyn finds a wonderful copy of The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming, Derek runs into Ned who is an old friend from his spy days.

After returning home to San Francisco, Derek gets involved in trying to resolve some tension in his office caused by an especially toxic employee named Lark who has taken a firm dislike to Brooklyn. And Brooklyn is busy fixing up the books she bought.

When they hear that Ned has been murdered and leaves them a clue saying that he left a list in the book, Brooklyn and Derek find it and resolve to find Ned's killer. Ned had directed them to look up Owen another old friend from his spy days. Owen has opened a spy store named Spectre on Fisherman's Wharf.

The store's anniversary is coming up and he asks to borrow the book Brooklyn bought for Derek to put it on display. But someone breaks in to steal it and in the course of the theft kills one of the group of wannabe authors who also work at the store.

This is the thirteenth book in the series and the first one that I have read. I had no trouble jumping into the series. In fact, there was so much repetition that I would think people who were familiar with the series would find all the backstory boring. I was also a little put off by the constant descriptions of the attractiveness of Derek and most of the other characters in the book. The descriptions of places that Brooklyn certainly had seen before seemed a little odd too.

On the other hand, I really liked the idea of the escape rooms in SPECTRE. They do sound like a fun, team building opportunity and great for people who like to solve mysteries. I also liked the recipes that were at the end of the book since I really enjoyed Brooklyn's descriptions of the fantastic food they ate on their honeymoon and while investigating in San Francisco.

Favorite Quote:
I laughed. "I know you're brokenhearted about the laundry."

"It's what I live for," he said, walking with me out to the living room. "I especially enjoy the prewash phase."

"Everyone does."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.