Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - Don't Believe It

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

I read Charlie Donlea's second book, The Girl Who Was Taken, last year and really liked it.  I still haven't read Summit Lake, his first, but hopefully one day soon.  Did you read either of these?  I seem to remember more than one of my blogging friends liking them.  So, this week I'm waiting for:

Publication Date:  May 29th

The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.

As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.

Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - Books on my Spring TBR with authors appearing at Malice Domestic 30

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is 'Books On My Spring TBR', which I am tweaking to be 'Books on my Spring TBR with authors appearing at Malice Domestic 30'

Malice Domestic is an annual fan convention that celebrates traditional mysteries (like Agatha Christie wrote).  This year will be the 30th year that this convention has existed.  Awards are given each year in various categories and the awards are called 'Agathas'.  I was lucky enough to get to attend last year and I'm also planning on attending this year.  For my spring TBR, I have selected 10 (well, actually 11) books to attempt to read this spring.  I know I won't get to all of them before the end of April, but I'll give it a shot.   

The first five are the books nominated for 'Best First Novel' at the convention.  All of the authors will be on a panel talking with Margaret Maron (one of my favorite mystery writers) and I'm volunteering to help with that panel.  They are:

The second group of six are books that were penned by authors that I'll also be seeing when they appear on panels.  Some of the panels I will volunteer to help and some I'll just attend and listen.  Looking forward to trying all these books.

So, what do you think?  Have you read any books by these authors or do any of these look like books you'd enjoy?  Ever thought about going to a book convention?  They are fun, trust me!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Harbour Street - Ann Cleeves

Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves

First Paragraph(s):

Joe pushed through the crowd.  It was just before Christmas and the Metro trains were full of shoppers clutching carrier bags stuffed with useless presents.  Babies were left to scream in expensive buggies.  People who'd been drinking early spilled out from office parties, stumbling down the escalators and onto the trains.  Youths used language Joe wouldn't want his children to hear.  Today, though, he'd had no option about using the Metro.  Sal had been adamant that she needed the car.
     It was just him and his daughter.  She was in the school choir and there'd been a performance in Newcastle Cathedral.  Carols by candlelight, because even at four o'clock it was dark in the building.  Beautiful singing that made him feel like crying.  His boss, Vera Stanhope, always said that he was a romantic fool.  The out into the rush-hour evening, and it was just starting to snow, so Jessie was excited all over again.  She was a soloist and had hit all the right notes, so the choirmaster had given her a special mention at the end.  Christmas was only ten days away, though she was too old now to believe in Santa.  But there was snow.  Tiny little flakes twisting in the gusty wind like mini-tornadoes.

My Thoughts:

Harbour Street is actually the 6th book in the Vera Stanhope series.  You may ask, what happened to #4 and #5?  Well, I did listen to the 4th book, Silent Voices, but had already talked about my experience reading it in print here .  It was narrated by Charlie Harwick and she did a good job.  Book #5, The Glass Room, is only available in print.  Since these books are pretty much complete in themselves, I skipped that one and went on to #6.  I'm trying to finish the series before the end of April when I will be attending Malice Domestic 30, a mystery conference.  Ann Cleeves and Brenda Blethyn (who plays Vera in the TV adaptation) will both be in attendance.   

Harbour Street takes place at Christmas time.  As one might expect, Christmas and all the celebrating, not really Vera's 'cup of tea'.  She never experienced 'happy families', as she terms it.  Her father, Hector, was not a particularly nice man and he didn't seem to care that his daughter was missing out on normal life.  First thing in the book, we see Vera's colleague, Joe Ashworth, with his own daughter on a train.  Jessie, Joe's daughter, discovers an older woman who has been stabbed.  The woman lived on Harbour Street and the investigation centers on the people who reside there and the secrets they have hidden for a long time.  Solving this crime is more fun for Vera than shopping for a Secret Santa gift.  And solve it she does - in time for the holidays.  Janine Birkett narrated this one and she also did a good job.  Next on the list, The Moth Catcher.   


As the snow falls thickly on Newcastle, the shouts and laughter of Christmas revelers break the muffled silence. Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie are swept along in the jostling crowd onto the Metro.

But when the train is stopped due to the bad weather, and the other passengers fade into the swirling snow, Jessie notices that one lady hasn't left the train: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed.

Arriving at the scene, DI Vera Stanhope is relieved to have an excuse to escape the holiday festivities. As she stands on the silent, snow-covered station platform, Vera feels a familiar buzz of anticipation, sensing that this will be a complex and unusual case.

Then, just days later, a second woman is murdered. Vera knows that to find the key to this new killing she needs to understand what had been troubling Margaret so deeply before she died - before another life is lost. She can feel in her bones that there's a link. Retracing Margaret's final steps, Vera finds herself searching deep into the hidden past of this seemingly innocent neighborhood, led by clues that keep revolving around one street...

Why are the residents of Harbour Street so reluctant to speak?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Bookish Nostalgia - March 2018

Welcome to Bookish Nostalgia for March 2018.  I've kept records of books I read for over 25 years and I enjoy looking back through my reading journals to see what I was reading 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.  Let's see what I remember about what I was reading in those years:

March 1998 - One, Two, What Did Daddy Do? by Susan Rogers Cooper - This is the first book in Susan Rogers Cooper's mystery series featuring E.J. Pugh and her family.  The author is from my part of the world, and I discovered her in 1998 and read the first 3 books.  E.J. is an aspiring romance writer who lives with her husband and kids in Central Texas.  She gets involved in mystery solving in her 'spare' time.  There are now 13 books in this series, which I've wanted to reread for a long time.  I should get started on that.

March 2003 - Killer Stuff by Sharon Fiffer -  First in a mystery series about Jane Wheel, a 'picker' at estate sales and auctions and garage sales and flea markets.  This was quite a few years before the TV show American Pickers became popular.  At the time, I was working with a charity that had a thrift shop and managing the administrative end of that shop.  It was fun to read, but I don't do thrift shops any more.  Ha!  There were 8 books in this series.

March 2008 - Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - This book was a selection of a book group I moderated when I worked at the library.  It was one of our early selections and introduced me to this great author.  A tale of the plague and how a small community deals with a disease that they don't understand.  I've read other books by Brooks and loved them, especially People of the Book.

March 2013 - Faithful Place by Tana French - The 3rd in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad books - a loosely connected series.  Looking at my book journal for this month, I can see that I reread the first 3 books, In the Woods, The Likeness, and this one in preparation for reading the 4th, Broken Harbor.  I love these books, but Faithful Place is still my favorite of all of them (6 books).


And so we end this month's Bookish Nostalgia.  Have you read any of these books or authors?  Hope you'll join me again next month to see what April books I remember from my journals.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Here We Lie - Paula Treick DeBoard

Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard

First Paragraph(s):

It was raining and I was going to be late.
     The press conference was scheduled for ten o'clock and by the time I found a parking space in the cavernous garage, I had twenty minutes.  I slipped once on the stairs, catching myself with a shocked hand on the sticky rail.  Seventeen minutes.
     I followed a cameraman toting a giant boom over his shoulder, navigating a path through the crowds of the capitol.  Thank goodness I was wearing tennis shoes.  I passed a group of schoolchildren on the steps, prim in their navy blazers and white button-down shirts.  Their teacher's question echoed off the concrete.  'Who can tell me what it means that we have a separation and balance of powers?'
     Only one hand shot into the air.
     Balance of power, I thought.  A good lesson for today.

My Thoughts:

Here We Lie is the second book I've read by Paula Treick DeBoard.  I read The Drowning Girls last year and liked it well enough.  This novel though was quite absorbing, and I had a hard time putting it down.  I hate over-using the term 'timely' for a storyline, but that is exactly what this book was - timely.  Two young women who were roommates at a small female college - Megan from the Midwest with not much money - Lauren from New England with a wealthy family, father a US senator, mother a 'fixer' of family problems.  Each girl doesn't exactly reveal the complete truth to the other about their previous lives, partially because they are ashamed, and partially because they want to appear cool.  The summer before their senior year comes around and something really tragic happens.  There are assumptions and lies and misunderstandings.  They go their separate ways for 15 years.  And then, Lauren's brother is accused of sexual assault and misconduct and the events of that long ago summer have to be revealed.  The story is told by both Lauren and Megan and rotates back and forth between the past and the present.  As I said, I was caught up in finding out who and what and why.  The ending is fairly abrupt and I might have liked a bit more there, but I was satisfied.  I'll be watching for this author's next book and as there are two books by her that I haven't read yet, I'll be looking for those as well.


Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey are complete opposites on paper. Megan is a girl from a modest Midwest background, and Lauren is the daughter of a senator from an esteemed New England family. When they become roommates at a private women’s college, they forge a strong, albeit unlikely, friendship, sharing clothes, advice and their most intimate secrets.

The summer before senior year, Megan joins Lauren and her family on their private island off the coast of Maine. It should be a summer of relaxation, a last hurrah before graduation and the pressures of postcollege life. Then late one night, something unspeakable happens, searing through the framework of their friendship and tearing them apart. Many years later, Megan publicly comes forward about what happened that fateful night, revealing a horrible truth and threatening to expose long-buried secrets.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - A Gathering of Secrets

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

My can't wait book for this week is from one of my favorite series.  It features Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police in Painters Mill, Ohio.  I've loved this series from the very beginning with Sworn To Silence.  Kate was raised in an Amish family, but left that life in her late teens.  She's now the chief cop in her hometown and her background helps and, at times, hinders her investigations.  The upcoming book is the 10th in the series.  I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  July 10th

When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead? Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - Books that I was surprised I liked...in a good way

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is 'Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)', which I am interpreting as 'Books that I was surprised I liked...in a good way'.  It's hard for me to think of books that I didn't like because I rarely finish books I'm not enjoying.  Life is too short and so is our reading life, right?  If you don't like it, D...N...F!!  Ha!

I'm dividing this into two sections - more recent surprises and books that surprised me long ago.

Recent Surprises

1.  Dog On It by Spencer Quinn - The first in the Chet and Bernie mystery series, it's told from the viewpoint of Chet - the dog.  Yes, we see all the action from Chet's point of view.  We read and discussed this one with our mystery group and it went over very well.  I'm not so much of a dog person, but I loved this book.  Chet would get distracted by smells and pretty much everything.

2.  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - This is non-fiction and I've said I'm not the biggest fan of NF.  However, again, we read this in our mystery group.  It was really, really interesting.  Not only about the Chicago World's Fair, but the man who was murdering young women close by the event. 

3.  Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast - One of the first graphic novels I tried.  It's a memoir of Roz Chast's experience with her aging parents, their decline, aging, and the end stages of their lives.  Chast was an only child and so she put her journey here.  It's sad and funny and emotional.  I've lived this book in many ways.

4.  Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel - This is the first book in The Themis Files and is classified as 'sci-fi', in my opinion.  Like Transformers and Optimus Prime meets Iron Man, with a bit of epistolary novel thrown in.  I recently talked about waiting for the 3rd book, Only Human.  Very interesting story.

5.  Bel Canto by Ann Patchett - I'm not sure who suggested I pick up this book, but I'm glad I did.  And reading about opera singers and South America and Japanese industrialists and hostage situations - amazingly intriguing.  The blurb said it is for literate music lovers.  Who knew?  I like music, but opera, not so much.  Still, a good book.

Surprises From Earlier Years

6.  The Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A Whitney - I read this book when I was about 8 or 9.  I ran out of library books at my grandmother's house and found this one.  It belonged to my older cousin.  Might have been my first 'real' mystery book.  I loved it and it was one of the books that set me on my path to 'read all the mystery/crime/Gothic/horror books'. 

7.  'Salem's Lot by Stephen King - My first Stephen King book.  Bought it off the paperback rack at a grocery store while I was waiting for my car to be repaired.  I was a junior in college and didn't have time for much fiction.  However, I think I read all night long.  Scared me witless.  First experience with vampires.  Loved it. 

8.  Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - I remember choosing this one at the library from the 'New Book' section.  I didn't know anything about Crichton at that time, though I had loved The Andromeda Strain movie.  After I realized that we were reading about dinosaurs, I told my husband - you have got to read this book.  A dinosaur theme park.  Quite the fun thing - or not.  I was fascinated and knew that many, many people would love this book.

9.  The Firm by John Grisham - When I picked this one up in 1991 or so, I told my husband the same thing that I did when I read Jurassic Park - this is going to be BIG.  And so it was.  Grisham had already written A Time To Kill, but it wasn't very well known.  The Firm was his first big hit.  And I had never read a legal thriller.  I read all of Grisham's books for a long time after that.

10.  A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr - As I said, I am not a big non-fiction reader, but I vividly remember reading this book in the mid-'90's.  The court case to try to win damages for families of people who had health problems because of chemicals in their water was terrible and gripping.  I had not ever read a book like this and couldn't put it down.  It was outside my normal reading, but I was glad I tried it.

So, do you have books that surprised you...in a good way?  Things I ought to read?  Of course you do!  Feel free to make suggestions.  I'll put them on my list that runs from here to the moon.  Probably literally.  Ha!

Monday, March 12, 2018

And the winning number of the Classics Club Spin is.....

I shared my Classic Club Spin #17 post last Monday with my 20 potential books.  And said, if I had my choice, I'd like to avoid perhaps #1, #2, #3, and #10.  Time constraints and other books preferred first.  Well, as luck would have it (and here you know why I never gamble - I have no luck!), the spin number is....wait for it....


Of course it is.  Ha!  I am excited about the book though.  My spin book is:

I am planning on doing a read/listen.  So tell me - have you read The Woman in White?  What did you think?  Inquiring minds want to know.  I'm supposed to have it finished by the end of April.  I think that's possible.  Wish me luck!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Confusion of Languages - Siobhan Fallon

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

First Paragraph(s):

We are close, so close to Margaret's apartment, and I feel myself sinking deeper into the passenger seat, relieved that I have succeeded in my small mission of getting Margaret out of her home, if only for a few hours.  The day is a success.  Sure, I had to let her drive, something I usually avoid.  Margaret is always too nervous, too chatty, looking around at the pedestrians, forgetting to put on her signal, stomping on the brakes too late.  But today I actually managed to snap her out of her sadness.  I have done everything a good friend should.

My Thoughts:

I was well pleased with this choice of book to 'change it up' a bit.  Siobhan Fallon's debut novel was very, very thought provoking.  She's also written a short story collection that I read a few years ago when it was one of the Mayor's Book Club selections for the Austin Public Library - You Know When The Men Are Gone.  This author is the wife of a career military man, and she can write with knowledge and authority for what it's like to be the family of these individuals.  She moved to Jordan in 2011 and that is where this novel is set.  I think it's hard for us to understand what it might be like to be living in a culture so very different from what we are used to, a country with different 'rules' and norms and then also have to cope with a spouse that is deployed or sent to yet another country for extended periods of time.  The loneliness, the desire to fit in, the lack of friends and just your children or maybe just yourself to have as company for much of the time.

In this story of two women, Cassie and Margaret, the reader sees quite the different ends of the spectrum in abilities to adapt or adjust to a culture with more rigid rules for many things, especially gender issues.  Cassie and her husband, Dan, have lived in Amman, Jordan for two years and they are the 'sponsors' or 'mentors' of Margaret and her spouse, Crick.  Margaret has a baby.  Cassie wishes she had a child.  Cassie follows the 'rules' set out by the American Embassy for 'life in Jordan'.  She has constructed a little box of a life in order to manage her time there.  Margaret has a harder time doing this.  She sees this move as an opportunity to learn about new things, new people, and she reaches out with abandon to see and do everything, while rarely regarding the cautions and warnings about societal norms.  The title of the book is apt - there is indeed a 'confusion of languages'.

Told by both women, Cassie, mostly over the course of single day, and also through Margaret's journal, which details her life after her arrival in Jordan, the tension increases more and more.  The women are in a car accident and Margaret goes to the police station to settle things - then doesn't return.  Time passes and Cassie finds the journal and starts reading it.  Many things were not as they seemed.  And that's all I'll say, other than to promise that when Siobhan Fallon's next book is published, I'll be racing to read it.  There is beauty here and sorrow and wisdom.  Recommended.


Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that’s about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie’s become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret’s toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie’s boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn’t Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret’s apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend’s whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret’s disappearance.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Hidden Depths - Ann Cleeves

Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves

First Paragraph(s):

Julie stumbled from the taxi and watched it drive away.  At the front gate she paused to compose herself.  Best not to go in looking pissed after all those lectures she'd given the kids.  The stars wheeled and dipped in the sky and she almost threw up.  But she didn't care.  It had been a good night, the first with the girls for ages.  Though it wasn't the girls that had made it so special, she thought, and realized there was a great soppy beam on her face.  Just as well it was dark and there was no one to see.

My Thoughts:

Hidden Depths is the third book in the Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope crime series.  I'm really enjoying listening to these books - this one narrated by Ann Dover.  In this book, a young man is killed and left in the tub with flowers, his sister asleep in another part of the house.  Their mother comes home from a night out with friends and finds him.  A few days after this, another young person is strangled and left near the sea, also with flowers surrounding her.  Vera, Joe and others on their team interview numerous people, including a group of men who have been friends for a long time.  They are birders - something Vera herself knows a bit about as her father was very interested in birds.  There are lies and obsession and infidelity.  There's danger to another young person.  Vera makes her canny way through all the clues and comes up with the truth in the end.  As I've noted before, these are not thrillers, but they are interesting police procedurals that I am liking very much.  I'm moving on to the audio of the next book, which I read in print last year.  It's Silent Voices.


On a hot summer on the Northumberland coast, Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son murdered. Luke has been strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.

This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope and her team intrigued. But now, Vera must work quickly to find this killer who is making art out of death. As local residents are forced to share their private lives, sinister secrets are slowly unearthed.

And all the while the killer remains in their midst, waiting for an opportunity to prepare another beautiful, watery grave…