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Monday, June 26, 2017

Home - Harlan Coben

Home by Harlan Coben


First Paragraph:

The boy who has been missing for ten years steps into the light.
     I am not one for hysterics or even feeling much of what might be labeled astonishment.  I have seen much in my forty-plus years.  I have nearly been killed--and I have killed.  I have seen depravity that most would find difficult, if not downright inconceivable, to comprehend--and some would argue that I have administered the same.  I have learned over the years to control my emotions and, more important, my reactions during stressful, volatile situations.  I may strike quickly and violently, but I do nothing without a certain level of deliberation and purpose.


My Thoughts:

I really, really liked this book.  Having been a big fan of this author's Myron and Win series, I was delighted to find a new book featuring these characters - after 5 years.  All the usual gang is around.  Two boys went missing, presumed kidnapped, 10 years ago.  One of them is related to Win, Myron's best friend.  Win has never given up looking.  Finally, one of the boys is located - or is he?  This was a listen/read combo for me.  Steven Weber does an excellent job with the narration.  The tension is high and the thrills non-stop.  Fans of the Bolitar family will be pleased to revisit New Jersey and New York with them.  I'm thinking this may be the last of this series, but I'm satisfied with it.  Highly recommended.


Blurb:

A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The To-Hell-And-Back Club - Jill Hannah Anderson

The To-Hell-And-Back-Club by Jill Hannah Anderson


First Paragraph:

I took a step back after knocking on my husband's bedroom door.
  'What?' Jerry opened his door, golf cap in hand, at 6:20 a.m.
  'When's your tee time?'
  'Soon.'
  'Josh called.  He left his spikes here.  Can you take them to him?'  The round trip to our son's campus would take over an hour--one I didn't have.  I was meeting my friends for the day.


My Thoughts:

What a great book! Really enjoyed this! Isn't it true that all of us have had hard times - difficult times - traumatic times? It might be illness or death or money problems or marital difficulties. It might even be a situation that seems unendurable. Peyton Brooks loses her 3 best friends in a car accident. After a time, she is referred to a club for women - the To-Hell-And-Back Club. The club exists to support women who need a little help. It's for fun and for tears and for sharing and for caring and the women are there for each other for as long as it takes. The club encourages the women to eventually begin to reach out and 'pay it forward', supporting others in whatever way they can. An inspiring story. I'm not sure if the author based this on a real 'club', but the idea has a lot of merit. I look forward to Jill Hannah Anderson's next book, which I understand will feature another character from this one. This one is recommended for some hope and encouragement and good feelings!


Blurb:

In this inspiring debut from Jill Hannah Anderson~ Peyton Brooks, a newly-empty nester with a comatose marriage, loses her three best friends in a car crash, and reaches out to women in the To-Hell-And-Back Club, hoping they’ll help resuscitate her life.

Through the “Hell Club”, Peyton learns that it’s never too late to begin again. These been-there-felt-that women use their sense of humor, strength, and support to help pull her off the couch and back to living her life.

She puts an end to her troubled marriage and rebuilds the life she’d put aside two decades ago. But when Peyton digs up time capsules she and her friends buried years ago and uncovers secrets about those she loved, she struggles to keep her own life-changing secret buried.

The “Hell Club” women help remind Peyton of the strength within her. She finds a renewed hope in life and love when she faces the mistakes and guilt that have troubled her for years. When Peyton’s secret is discovered, she’s going to need the “Hell Club” women more than ever.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Fast Falls the Night



Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this event, I'll continuing to post one soon to be released title on occasional Wednesdays.

This week's book is Fast Falls the Night, the 6th book in the Bell Elkins mystery series, set in West Virginia.  I love this series!  Love the characters and the setting and get really caught up in everything about Bell, her family, her colleagues, the crimes she investigates.  I've actually already read this book, an advance copy, and since it won't be published until late August, I won't share a review in this post.  If you want my reactions, take a look at my review on Goodreads here.  Julia Keller writes a great series, and I'd love to encourage people to try it.




Publication Date:  August 22nd

The first drug overdose comes just after midnight, when a young woman dies on the dirty floor of a gas station bathroom. To the people of the small town of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, it is just another tragedy. It is sad—but these days, depressingly familiar.

But then there is another overdose. And another. And another.

Prosecutor Bell Elkins soon realizes that her Appalachian hometown is facing its starkest challenge yet: a day of constant heroin overdoses from a batch tainted with a lethal tranquilizer. While the clock ticks and the bodies fall, Bell and her colleagues desperately track the source of the deadly drug—and engage in fierce debates over the wisdom of expending precious resources to save the lives of self-destructive addicts.

Based on a real-life event, Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller’s latest Bell Elkins novel “Fast Falls the Night” takes place in a single 24-hour period, unfurling against the backdrop of a shattering personal revelation that will change Bell’s life forever.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

One Perfect Lie - Lisa Scottoline

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline


First Paragraph:

Chris Brennan was applying for a teaching job at Central Valley High School, but he was a fraud.  His resume was fake, and his identity completely phony.  So far he'd fooled the personnel director, the assistant principal, and the Chairperson of the Social Studies Department.  This morning was his final interview, with the principal, Dr. Wendy McElroy.  It was make-or-break.


My Thoughts:

I've read many of Lisa Scottoline's books over the years, mostly her legal series. ONE PERFECT LIE was a standalone book and it was quite suspenseful. I can't say much about the story without spoilers, but let me assure any reader that there are surprises and twists. Some of them were a little convenient, as were some of the characterizations. As the tension ramped up though, I was forgiving and caught up in the tale. Though I don't think this will be a favorite for me, I still think it's worth a read. It has a timely story line. I listened to the book on audio and George Newbern was a good narrator. I'll continue to watch for the latest Lisa Scottoline book.


Blurb:

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan's baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton


First Paragraph:

I believe just about anyone can kill in the right circumstances, given enough motivation.  The question is, am I there yet?  I think I must be.  Because lately, it seems, I've been thinking of little else.
     It is a minute after midnight.  In two days' time it will be the third of November.  Two more days.  Am I there yet?


My Thoughts:

Sharon Bolton is one of my favorite authors. I have read each of her Lacey Flint books and loved them. LITTLE BLACK LIES is a standalone and quite different from the Flint series. Set in the Falkland Islands, this is the tale of missing children, friends who are no longer friends, sorrow, secrets - so many secrets. Told from the viewpoints of three main characters, Catrin, Callum, and Rachel, I was completely caught up in the story. While I tried to put together the puzzle in my mind and had some success, I was also captivated by the descriptions of the Falklands - the people, the land and sea, the creatures that live there - and the history. Such a sad story, but completely fascinating to me. I have not yet read this author's other standalone books. I'm planning on reading them soon. Highly recommended.


Blurb:

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely...

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it's no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.

But three islanders—Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum—are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In the Land of Milk and Honey - Jane Jensen

In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen


First Paragraph:

'Mama!  Mama!'
     The strained cry pulled Leah from a fevered dream in which she'd been sewing and sewing.  The stitches fell apart, disintegrating as she frantically worked.  It was something important and she had to finish it...a bridal dress.
     No. A shroud.


My Thoughts:

This second book in Jane Jensen's series starring Detective Elizabeth Harris was quite enjoyable. Set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the story starts with a very sick Amish family. Elizabeth is assigned to the case when the illness becomes fatal and it's suspected that more people will die soon. The CDC is brought in and the press and protesters descend upon the area. Tainted raw milk is the source of the sickness, but how are the cows acquiring the toxin? Detective Harris was successful in solving the crimes in the first book and she has made good friends among the Amish. Now, she and the other investigators are working against time and a clever opponent to save lives. I was glad to visit Lancaster County again and learn what new crimes Elizabeth Harris would be called upon to solve. Though the mystery was not terribly hard to figure out, the characters are interesting and the changes in Elizabeth's life since the first book were fun to read about. I look forward to #3!


Blurb:

By solving the murders of two local girls, Elizabeth has gained some trust in the Amish community. So, she’s the first person its members turn to when a fast and fatal illness takes hold, though many believe that the sickness stems from a hexerei—a curse placed by a practitioner of old-world folk magic. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in curses, and when an entire Amish family is found dead, she begins to suspect something far more sinister...

As the CDC is called in to investigate, customers of a Philadelphia farmers market selling Amish raw milk start dying. Amid rapidly escalating panic, Elizabeth must peel away layers of superstition and fear to save the livelihood—and lives—of an entire community. Because what has happened isn’t an accident of nature or an act of God, it’s the handiwork of someone who has only just begun to kill...

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus


First Paragraph:

A sex tape.  A pregnancy scare.  Two cheating scandals.  And that's just this week's update.  If all you knew of Bayview High was Simon Kelleher's gossip app, you'd wonder how anyone found time to go to class.


My Thoughts:

What a fun book! Karen M. McManus's debut YA novel is quite addictive to read or rather, listen to. The audio was narrated by four different voices and all of them were well done. If you're a fan of The Breakfast Club and you like your stories to include some murder accusations and secrets, you'll probably enjoy this 'darker' version of...The Brain, The Athlete, The Criminal, The Outcast, and The Beauty. All of the characters are in detention for having a cell phone in class. All of them claim that the phones don't belong to them and were planted in their backpacks. After just a few minutes, one of them is dead and the other four are drawn into a police investigation. Everyone has secrets - lots of secrets. Yes, the characters are bit trite, but it's all good. Can't wait to see what this author writes next!


Blurb:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Graves - Pamela Wechsler

The Graves by Pamela Wechsler


First Paragraph:

Ten years in the district attorney's office has taught me to never let down my guard, even here on Beacon Hill.  Walking on West Cedar Street, I detect the first signs of danger--footsteps and cigarette smoke.  No one from this neighborhood smokes anymore, at least not in public.  It could be a stray tourist checking out the gas lanterns and cobblestone streets, but I reach in my tote and search for my canister of pepper spray--just in case.  A gloved hand covers my mouth.  I start to pivot around but someone yanks my shoulder and pulls me in.
     'Give it up,' he says.
     I'm relieved.  It's just a mugging.


My Thoughts:

I very much enjoyed this second book in Pamela Wechsler's series featuring Abby Endicott, Chief of the Boston DA's Homicide Division. It read very, very quickly and I was totally engrossed in the story. Abby is up against a number of issues in THE GRAVES. There is a serial killer on the loose, targeting young women at various universities in the area, her boss, the DA, is running for Mayor and Abby is mentioned as his possible successor, and her family is still making her life difficult by disapproving of her job and her significant other, Ty. Abby is a very good prosecutor - not such a good organizer of her own life. Once again, she ignores most everything but getting justice for the victims' families. I hope that this series continues because I'd like to visit Abby's Boston life once again. Recommended.


Blurb:

Abby Endicott, the chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, returns in the heart-racing follow-up to Mission Hill. Things are looking good for Abby: she’s top pick to be the next District Attorney, and her musician boyfriend Ty has moved in, despite her upper crust family’s objections. But a serial killer is on the loose, and with two college-aged girls dead and another missing, time is running out. When the sons of a prominent government official are linked to the murders, Abby pushes back, stopping at nothing to find justice for the girls. This time, the killer could be right under her nose, and she may be the next victim.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mission Hill - Pamela Wechsler

Mission Hill by Pamela Wechsler


First Paragraph:

I'm in bed, silently reciting their names.  Number one, Lester Beale, stabbed his girlfriend twenty-six times.  Number two, Jeffrey Younts, shot a fifteen-year-old boy as he stepped off the school bus.  Number three, Omar Monteiro, gunned down twin brothers on their thirtieth birthday.  This is my nighttime ritual.  I count killers, the people I've prosecuted for murder.


My Thoughts:

Mission Hill is a debut novel by Pamela Wechsler, a former prosecutor who has also worked on TV shows like Law & Order. The main protagonist, Abby Endicott, is a homicide prosecutor with the Boston District Attorney's office. Abby is tough and hard driven, choosing to go up against the most ruthless killers, despite having come from a privileged background. I'm a fan of shows like Law & Order and the reader can see the influence in the story line, so this tale worked well for me. I was caught up in who did what and when. There were a few minor quibbles, especially when Abby made decisions that put herself or others in major jeopardy or turned down offers of help. I'll grant her a pass this time, but will be less forgiving in the next book. And, yes, there is already a next book in the series. I look forward to reading it very soon. All in all, a worthy legal thriller.


Blurb:

Abby Endicott is chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, where she investigates and prosecutes the city’s most dangerous killers. A member of Mission Hill’s elite, and a graduate of the Winsor school and then Harvard Law, the prosecutor’s office is not the prestigious job that would have been expected of her. She has been known to change into an evening gown amidst bodies in the morgue. She loves her job, and is committed to it, refusing all pressure to quit from her upper-crust parents or threats from the city’s most ruthless killers. But among Abby’s many secrets is her longtime affair with fellow prosecutor Tim Mooney, a married father of one.

One night, Abby is awakened very late by a phone call from her favorite detective, who reports that there has been a horrific murder but is vague about the specifics. When she arrives at the crime scene and discovers the identity of the victim, Abby knows the terror and tragedy are only beginning.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Collecting the Dead - Spencer Kope

Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope


First Paragraph:

She had small feet.
     I say she had small feet because to say she has small feet would imply that she's still alive.  She isn't.  I know.  I always know.  It's my special ability, my burden, my curse.  The others think we're searching for a missing jogger, perhaps hurt or lost but certainly alive.  I can't tell them we're too late; how would I explain such knowledge?


My Thoughts:

I really, really liked this debut crime novel by Spencer Kope. And, happily, it seems that this is the beginning of a series. Magnus 'Steps' Craig is part of the FBI's Special Tracking Unit. He and his best buddy, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan, work tirelessly to track and find criminals and their victims. What Steps and Jimmy don't share with other law enforcement agencies is the ability that Steps possesses - a type of synesthesia that allows him to see the 'shine' or the 'essence' of other people. Steps can track anyone over any surface. But, this ability has come at a price. I loved the characters in this book - Steps, Jimmy, and other team members. There was humor and sorrow and an intriguing story. Can't wait for the next book! This one is highly recommended.


Blurb:

Magnus "Steps" Craig is part of the elite three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI. Called in on special cases where his skills are particularly needed, he works as a tracker. The media dubs him "The Human Bloodhound," since Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface better than anyone else. But there's a secret to his success. Steps has a special ability---a kind of synesthesia---where he can see the 'essence' of a person, something he calls 'shine,' on everything they've touched. His ability is known to only a few people---his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

When the remains of a murdered woman are found, Steps recognizes the shine left by the murderer from another crime scene with a physically similar victim. And he uncovers the signature at both scenes---the mark of a sad face. At the same time, another killer, one Steps has dubbed Leonardo and has been trying to track for over ten years, appears again, taunting Steps. But while Steps tries to find a clue that will lead him to Leonardo, the case of the Sad Face Killer heats up. The team uncovers eleven possible victims: missing women who fit the same pattern. Using his skill and the resources of the Bureau, it is a race against time to find the killer before it's too late.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Strange Things Done - Elle Wild

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild


First Paragraph:

The pattern of her demise became suddenly clear, as though a dark kaleidoscope had just been turned.  Everything snapped into focus then: the sharpness of the stars, the bowed outlines of the trees, the expression on his face.


My Thoughts:

Strange Things Done is the debut novel for Elle Wild and it has recently been awarded the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award for 'Best First Crime Novel'. I liked this book, but it's probably more a 3.75 than 4.0 read for me. Set in the far northwest of Canada, the town of Dawson, Yukon Territory, it was a cold, cold story. Winter is close and Jo Silver, the new editor for the local newspaper, is in the midst of some trouble. She came to get away from and forget a bad situation and seems to have stepped into a worse one. There are interesting characters in the town, scandals, and secrets galore. A few times, Jo's decisions were quite annoying and irrational, but in the end, I was caught up in the tale. It reminded me a bit of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. I'll be watching for Elle Wild's next book and will be curious to hear if there might be a sequel.


Blurb:

As winter closes in and the roads snow over in Dawson City, Yukon, newly arrived journalist Jo Silver investigates the dubious suicide of a local politician and quickly discovers that not everything in the sleepy tourist town is what it seems. Before long, law enforcement begins treating the death as a possible murder and Jo is the prime suspect.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kingdom Come - Jane Jensen

Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen


First Paragraph:

'It's...sensitive,' Grady had said on the phone, his voice tight.
     Now I understood why.  My car crawled down a rural road thick with new snow.  It was still dark and way too damn early on a Wednesday morning.  The address he'd given me was on Grimlace Lane.  Turned out the place was an Amish farm in the middle of a whole lot of other Amish farms in the borough of Paradise, Pennsylvania.


My Thoughts:

I liked this first book in a new series set in Lancaster, PA, by Jane Jensen. It reminded me a bit of Linda Castillo's series, also featuring a woman policeman, dealing with crimes in Amish country. This was a read/listen combo for me and I thought that Rachel Fulginiti was a good narrator. Detective Elizabeth Harris is directed to a crime scene by her boss at the Lancaster Police. A young woman has been found dead in an Amish family's barn. Her supervisor tells her that it's 'sensitive' and so it proves to be. Elizabeth has returned to Pennsylvania from New York City after the death of her husband. A seasoned homicide detective, she finds out all kinds of things that many people, both Amish and 'English' would prefer to hide. There's already a second book in the series and I look forward to reading it soon.


Blurb:

After her husband is murdered, Detective Elizabeth Harris turns in her NYPD badge and moves back home, hoping that a quiet life in remote Pennsylvania Dutch country will help her overcome the dark memories of her ten years in New York. But when a beautiful, scantily clad “English” girl is found dead in the barn of a prominent Amish family, Elizabeth knows that she’s uncovered an evil that could shake the community to its core.

Elizabeth’s boss is convinced this was the work of an “English,” as outsiders are called in Lancaster County. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure. All she’s missing is an actual lead—until another body is found: this time, a missing Amish girl. Now Elizabeth must track down a killer with deep ties to a community that always protects its own—no matter how deadly the cost…

Friday, June 9, 2017

Under the Harrow - Flynn Berry

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry


First Paragraph:

A woman is missing in East Riding.  She vanished from Hedon, near where we grew up.  When Rachel learns of the disappearance, she will think it's him.


My Thoughts:

Under the Harrow is a debut crime novel by Flynn Berry. It won the Edgar Award recently for 'Best First Novel by an American Author'. I liked it, though I will say that I was tempted early on to abandon it. The thought processes of Nora, the protagonist, are scattered and a bit frustrating in the early stages. Hard to follow and kind of annoying. Nora arrives at her sister Rachel's home late on a Friday afternoon. Excited about their weekend together, she is horrified to find Rachel has been brutally murdered. Everything in Nora's life comes to a standstill and she remains in the area, unable to return to her job and flat in London. Rachel had been assaulted as a teenager and the person was never caught. Nora and Rachel had spent a lot of time trying to find the perpetrator when it seemed the police were unable or unwilling to do so. Because of this, Nora is suspicious of the current investigation and asks a lot of questions on her own. She has strange ideas and does peculiar things. I can see why this book won the Edgar - the story is told in an unusual way. And, yes, I'll be watching for Flynn Berry's next book.


Blurb:

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Break...with some review exceptions...

I've decided to go ahead and share the reviews that I post on Goodreads here, even though I'm technically on 'Summer Break'. Not everyone who visits is on Goodreads. I'll likely be doing this in batches as I have time. No more than one a day though, so you guys won't be overwhelmed.

I'll leave you with some nice 'summer' pictures from Oregon, taken on a vacation a few years ago. And if you'd really like some nice 'Oregon' pictures, try visiting Les' blog - Prairie Horizons. She's recently moved to Oregon and may be considering a name change to something more 'Pacific Northwest'. She's still settling in, but I suspect she'll be back to posting book reviews and pictures soon.









Friday, June 2, 2017

Summer Break...



Like last year, I'm going to take a summer break.  We're planning on several trips and blogging and commenting are more difficult using my iPad.  I may reappear now and then.  Who knows?

I'll consider the blog in the fall and decide whether or not to continue the break.  I'll attempt to keep my '2017 Reads' mostly up to date in my sidebar.  Also, I can be found on Goodreads, where I'll be sharing short reviews.  You can see my 'read' shelf there by clicking on the button also located in my sidebar.

Have a good summer and here's hoping that all get to read a lot of great books!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - Summing it up...and who won the Agatha Awards?



Welcome to my last post about my trip to Malice Domestic 29!  Today, we will talk about the Agatha's Banquet, tell who won awards for their books and work, and sum up my experience.  I've enjoyed telling about my trip and hope that if you have any questions, you'll feel free to ask in the comments.  First, the banquet:


Lori Rader-Day (R in black/white) - host of my banquet table

Each Malice attendee who also decided to take part in the Agatha Award Banquet received an email giving them the authors who had chosen to 'Host' a table.  We were instructed to select our top 3 and then were notified of the table where we would be seated.  I selected Lori Rader-Day as my #1 choice.  I had met Lori in the coffee shop at Left Coast Crime and had a nice and funny visit with her.  Plus, I had recently read her latest book - The Day I Died - and enjoyed it very much.  The attendees at Lori's table were friendly and nice to talk with.  Lori told us she was a bit tired.  She had been to the Edgar Awards and also had been touring for her new book.  However, she's the kind of person that has a dry sense of humor and I loved listening to her.


Special Malice Domestic dessert

The banquet itself was pretty good - I had chicken, by the way.  The dessert is apparently always something special.  I couldn't believe the Malice 'logo' was part of it.  Chocolate mousse, sponge cake, whipped cream - yum!


Charlaine Harris - Lifetime Achievement Award

Charlaine Harris, author of so many books, many of which have been turned into TV adaptations, was the recipient of the 'Lifetime Achievement Award'.  She is the creator of Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood TV series), Aurora Teagarden (Hallmark Movie Channel), Lily Bard (my favorite character of hers), and the Midnight, Texas series, which is to be on NBC this July.  Whew!  I have read the Lily Bard books and a few of the Aurora series.


Elaine Viets - Guest of Honor

Elaine Viets was the 'Guest of Honor' this year.  Elaine has written several series as well - The Dead End Job series (Helen Hawthorne, main character) and the Mystery Shopper series (Josie Marcus, main character),  I've not read any of Elaine's books, but have certainly heard of them.


Martin Edwards - Poirot Award

Martin Edwards was presented the 'Poirot Award', which is given to those who have made 'outstanding contributions to the Malice Domestic genre'.  Edwards writes a blog called 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?'.  He currently writes a series set in the Lake District of England - retired Oxford historian Daniel Kind and DCI Hannah Scarlett, Cold Case Squad are the main characters.  I've read a couple of those.  He also wrote The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story, which won several awards.  As an expert on the Golden Age of crime fiction, Martin is the series consultant to the British Library's Crime Classics, which are being printed in the US by The Poisoned Pen Press.  I know many mystery readers have enjoyed those books.

Below, I've listed the nominees and the winners for the various categories of Agatha Awards.  I did not do all the links - sorry.  However, you can find these books very easily.

THE AGATHA AWARD NOMINEES AND WINNERS FOR 2017 

Best Contemporary Novel
  * A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
  ° Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
  ° Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson
  ° Fogged Inn by Barbara Ross
  ° Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Historical Novel
  * The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson
  ° Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao
  ° Get Me to the Grave on Time by D.E. Ireland
  ° Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell
  ° Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson

Best First Novel
  * The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn
  ° Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper
  ° Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  ° Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann
  ° Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

Best Short Story
  * “Parallel Play” by Art Taylor
  Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning
  ° “Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story” by Gretchen Archer
  ° “The Best-Laid Plans” by Barb Goffman
  Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional
  ° “The Mayor and the Midwife” by Edith Maxwell
  Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016
  ° “The Last Blue Glass” by B.K. Stevens
  Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Best Non-fiction
  * Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats by Jane K. Cleland
  ° A Good Man with a Dog: A Game Warden’s 25 Years in the Maine Woods by Roger Guay with Kate Clark Flora
  ° Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Margaret Kinsman

Best Children’s/Young Adult
  * The Code Busters Club, Case #6: The Secret of the Puzzle Box by Penny Warner
  ° Trapped: A Mei-hua Adventure by P.A. DeVoe
  ° Spy Ski School by Stuart Gibbs
  ° Tag, You’re Dead by J C Lane
  ° The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

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I think that's all I have to tell.  Know it's been a lot, but I hope that you guys have enjoyed hearing about my adventures.  Will I attend this convention again?  Who knows?  Perhaps.  Here's the link for next year's Malice Domestic 30.  I would like to attend Bouchercon, 2017 is in Toronto, 2018 is in St. Petersburg, FL, and, wait for it - 2019 is in DALLAS, TX - can you guess which one I'll most likely sign up for?  It's called Denim, Diamonds and Death, which fits Dallas pretty well.  Ha!  Left Coast Crime will be in Reno, NV in 2018 and Vancouver, Canada in 2019.  If this has sounded like a good time, you should think about signing up for one of these conventions.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - When We Were Worthy



Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this event, I'll continuing to post one soon to be released title on occasional Wednesdays.

This week's book, When We Were Worthy, is one that I have actually finished reading or rather I've finished an advance copy of it.  I liked it very much.  I've shared a review on Goodreads here, but won't share one in this post because it is a little early.  I've read several books by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen and have liked them all.  I still have a few to catch up on and I hope to do that in upcoming months.  If you read She Reads, you know that Marybeth is one of the founders of this website.  This week's book:




Publication Date:  September 12th

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - Some special authors I met...several were a 'blast from the past'...



Welcome to the 4th day of my story about Malice Domestic 29!  Today, I'd like to talk about authors - ones I love and have loved for years, ones I've recently discovered, and ones that I'm sure will become favorites once I have the time to read all of my TBR (will that day ever come??).

Since this conference is more about 'traditional' mysteries or what some would call 'cozies', I knew that there might be fewer authors whose books cross my path with regularity these days.  However, I was quite enthused about some authors who created some favorite books of mine in the past.  And, of course, I have a couple of stories about that.
 

Joan Hess

Joan Hess has written two mystery series, both set in Arkansas.  I read her Claire Malloy series probably 20 years ago and then, as happens with series, kind of lost track of it.  I knew that Joan lived in Arkansas at that time.  The first day, as I came off the elevator to meet my husband for lunch, a lady stopped me and said, 'You're from Texas!' (which my name tag showed).  I glanced at her badge and said, 'Oh, you're from Austin.  I'm from that area too!'.  Then I noticed the name above the city - 'And you're Joan Hess!!'.  I told her that I had loved her Claire books and said, 'I didn't know you lived in Austin.'  She explained that she had moved to our area several years ago.  We then talked about Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters - a great friend of Joan's.  My understanding is that the new (and last) Amelia Peabody mystery, begun by Elizabeth Peters and finished by Ms. Hess, was quite the labor of love.  It's called The Painted Queen and it will be published in July.  Whether it is exactly as Elizabeth Peters would have written or not, I'm planning on reading it as a tribute to both authors.  I was delighted to get to visit with Joan Hess.      


Anne Hillerman (R at table), Cheryl Hollon (taking picture with phone)

I was also delighted to get to talk with Anne Hillerman and tell her how much our mystery group had enjoyed her first book, Spider Woman's Daughter.  The 3rd book in Anne's continuation of her father Tony's series has just been published -  Song of the Lion.  I also visited for a few minutes with Cheryl Hollon, author of the Webb's Glass Shop series - next book to be out in November - Etched in Tears.  I met Cheryl at Left Coast Crime and reviewed her first book here.    


G.M. Malliet

I also enjoyed stopping by and meeting G.M. Malliet, who writes the Max Tudor series.  Max is a retired MI5 agent and he's now a vicar in a small village.  I told her that our mystery group had read the first book in the series and she had some fans in Texas.  The latest Max book is Devil's Breath, which came out in April.  She told me about her new book, a standalone suspense novel, Weycombe, to be published in October.  I'll definitely be watching for that one.


Leslie Meier (R at table)

The last author that I got a picture of was Leslie Meier.  All these pictures were from the author signings, by the way.  Leslie is another author that I've read for years and years.  Her series is set in Maine and her protagonist is Lucy Stone, mother of four, and sleuth deluxe.  The titles are often related to holiday events.  I told Ms. Meier that her first book, Mistletoe Murder (aka Mail-Order Murders) was on my list of 'comfort reads'.  Said that I had probably read it 5 or 6 times.  I shared that I reread books on my 'comfort' list because I know that they will give me warm and fuzzy feelings when life was not 'warm and fuzzy' at all.  She was so kind and said that she wanted to give me one of her paperbacks and to choose one I hadn't read.  I selected Birthday Party Murder and she signed it.  Then she said, 'Oh, my publisher told me to save these for special people.' and she also signed and handed me a hardcover copy of her latest (the 23rd in the series) book, British Manor Murder.  I was amazed and thanked her again.  Wasn't that sweet?  Makes me want to go back and start her series at the beginning and read it all over again.


I'll mention a few other authors I met and that I've loved or want to give a special 'shout out'!

  • Dorothy Cannell - loved her Ellie Haskell series
  • Maggie Sefton - still love her Kelly Flynn knitting series - set in Colorado 
  • JoAnna Carl/Eve K. Sandstrom -  love her Chocoholic series and also her Down Home series set in Oklahoma - only 3 in that one, but enjoyed 25 years ago
  • Ann Cleeves - met Ann at Left Coast Crime and visited with her while waiting for an elevator here - told her I'd become a big, big fan of both her Vera and Shetland series and the TV adaptations - she again talked to me about her passion for supporting libraries 
  • Dorothy St. James - the moderator of a panel that I attended - we had such a nice visit - Dorothy's new series will begin with Asking For Truffle: A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery, which will be published in September.  I look forward to trying it. 
  • P. A. DeVoe - She was nominated for an Agatha for 'Best Children's/Young Adult' book and was the first person I met that first morning.  I sat down by her to wait for an event and we started talking.  Her nominated book was Trapped: A Mei-hua Adventure and though she didn't win, she was so excited to be included in the nominees.  We had a very interesting talk, as Ms. DeVoe is a cultural anthropologist.  I look forward to reading some of her books.   

My only regret is that I didn't get to meet Margaret Maron.  She was there and I saw her twice, but it wasn't the right time or situation to step up and introduce myself.  Her Deborah Knott series has been a very great favorite of mine for many, many years.  Ah well.  Ms. Maron has a new book coming out in her Sigrid Harald series, Take Out.  This author says it will be her last book.  I loved her last Deborah Knott book, Long Upon the Land.  I'll be looking forward to rereading all her books at some point soon.   

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The last post about Malice will be on Thursday.  I'll sum things up, share a bit about the Agatha Awards Banquet and also tell 'who won the Agathas' for 2017.  Thanks for stopping by and 'listening'!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham


First Paragraph:

It's all wrong.
     The light winking on the blue mirror of the pool, the sun hats and the sweating beer bottles clutched in their fists.  The drone of insects.  The smell of warm skin with suntan lotion.
     All of it.


Blurb:

Three British couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on Easter Sunday, the last day of their vacation, tragedy strikes: the fourteen-year-old daughter of an American vacationer goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves. When the shocked couples return home to the U.K., they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find. Buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some unusual kinks and unpleasant vices. Then, a second girl goes missing, in Kent—not far from where any of the couples lives. Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine?


My Thoughts:

I've meant to read a book by Mark Billingham for quite some time.  I know that his DI Tom Thorne series has lots of fans and I do own the first book, Sleepyhead.  Rush of Blood is a standalone crime novel, though Tom Thorne makes an appearance.  I read this book as a listen/read combo and Toby Longworth is a good narrator, provided you ignore his 'Southern' accent, which is only in a few parts.

The story itself was very absorbing.  There are three British couples on a vacation to Sarasota, Florida.  They meet up at their resort and become acquainted.  They also meet a single mother and daughter, who are staying at the same hotel.  Before the couples return home, the daughter goes missing.  Questioned by the police, they are unable to help much.  Later, the girl is found dead.  The couples get together again for dinners at each couple's home, plus a few more times.  They don't really know each other, but have this shared experience of vacation and learning about the ongoing investigation in Florida.  And then another girl goes missing - in the UK this time.  There are definite similarities.  The British police and the Florida police begin to work together.  As each dinner party ensues, the couples and the reader learn more about these six people.  Everyone has some secrets.  Some are very bad.

I liked the way that Mark Billingham related this tale.  I did guess what might be the ending and the perpetrator, but there were still some surprises along the way.  I'm excited to have another series to begin starring DI Tom Thorne.  His part in Rush of Blood was memorable, even though it was small.  Recommended.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


First Paragraph:

A private plane sits on a runway in Martha's Vineyard, forward stairs deployed.  It is a nine-seat OSPRY 700SL, built in 2001 in Wichita, Kansas.  Whose plane it is is hard to say with real certainty.  The ownership of record is a Dutch holding company with a Cayman Island mailing address, but the logo on the fuselage says GULLWING AIR.  The pilot, James Melody, is British.  Charlie Busch, the first officer, is from Odessa, Texas.  The flight attendant, Emma Lightner, was born in Mannheim, Germany, to an American air force lieutenant and his teenage wife.  They moved to San Diego when she was nine.


Blurb:

On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

Was it by chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something more sinister at work? A storm of media attention brings Scott fame that quickly morphs into notoriety and accusations, and he scrambles to salvage truth from the wreckage. Amid trauma and chaos, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy grows and glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, morality, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.


My Thoughts:

Before the Fall won this year's Edgar Award (given by the Mystery Writers of America) for 'Best Mystery Novel'. Interesting. It is a mystery novel and yet, in my opinion, it's not. I did a listen/read combo and found Robert Petkoff's narration quite good. I liked the book and was absorbed in the story, but it doesn't work like a 'normal' thriller. It's about an airplane crash - a small luxury jet - with 11 passengers aboard. One family, father, mother, 9-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son - father is the head of a very successful news network. One married couple - husband about to be charged with financial crimes. One bodyguard for the family. Three crew members - two pilots and one flight attendant. One invited guest - a painter who is hitching a ride to meet with galleries about his latest work. The flight leaves Martha's Vineyard and, less than 20 minutes later, crashes into the ocean. The painter, Scott Burroughs, and the young boy, JJ, are the only survivors. Burroughs swims for many hours to reach land, saving the boy's life. The tale is told from many viewpoints - about all the passengers and their lives, about the investigation into the cause of the crash, and about how an unknown painter and a small boy (who is now extremely rich) become so very famous. It's about life and how we might make sense of senseless events - tragedies - horrible things. It's interesting and very different. And I think you can tell that the author writes screenplays - but that's not necessarily a bad thing here. I will recommend it, if the reader keeps in mind that this is not your everyday mystery/thriller/disaster story. Try it.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - Auctions, Book Dealers Room and the books that were shipped home...um...there were many...



Hello there!  Day 3 of my posts about the Malice Domestic convention that I attended a few weeks ago.  Today, we will talk about auctions and books.  The two conventions that I have attended have both had a 'Silent' Auction and a 'Live' Auction.  There are great prizes for attendees to bid on and the proceeds go to local charity programs - always a good thing.  Some of the prizes included baskets of books, baskets with books and other special items, art, a 'Little Free Library', opportunities to have a character named for the bidder in an upcoming book, all sorts of great things.  The auctions at this Malice benefited KEEN Greater DC.  It was great because between the two auctions, something over $10,000 was raised.  Yay!
 

Silent Auction Room

This picture was taken in the 'Silent' Auction Room.  Lots of fun things to bid on, plus attendees could get a glimpse of the items that would be available at the 'Live' Auction, held on Friday evening.  The 'Silent' Auction concluded on Saturday afternoon.  I bid on several items here, but since I was busy as a 'panel monitor', I wasn't able to check in at the last minute and so didn't get to increase my bids.  Ah well.  It's all good and I'm glad I got to 'bid up' some items for the great cause.


Hank Phillippi Ryan and Elaine Viets encouraging bidding at 'Live' Auction

The 'Live' Auction was held on Friday evening and included lots of yummy desserts at the tables to put attendees in the mood to 'bid it up'.  There were 4 authors that served as 'Auctioneers' - Hank Phillippi Ryan (and yes every time I saw her at the whole convention, she was wearing 4-inch heels - amazing!!), Elaine Viets, Dana Cameron, and Christine Trent.  There were some great prizes and the ladies did a good job of reminding us why we were bidding, but also making the most of the items.  There was a chance to be a character in Ann Cleeves' next Vera Stanhope book - plus, if the person could get to the UK in late summer, a trip to the TV set to meet the cast.  There was an uncorrected proof of Louise Penny's upcoming book - Glass Houses, which went for a lot of money!  Hank Phillippi Ryan offered two prizes (one won by my table mate), a 'Book of the Month' by your favorite authors - signed, and a 'Guppy Book of the Month' -signed as well.  The 'Guppies' are new authors and members of Sisters in Crime.  Many well known authors were once Guppies.  I did win an item that I'll show below in a picture.  The last item offered was an edited manuscript of The Painted Queen, the final Amelia Peabody mystery, started by Elizabeth Peters and finished by Joan Hess.  More about Joan tomorrow.  Happily, the bids on that manuscript were quite high too, as they should have been.    


Book Dealers Room (more than books)
I was happy to get to spend a nice amount of time in the Book Dealers Room.  Lots to see and check out.  Bought a few books - put a few back - put a few on my 'wishlist'.  


My 'win' from the 'Live' Auction - all of Marcia Talley's Hannah Ives series.

Marcia Talley was the Toastmaster for this convention and I've heard about her mystery series for a long time.  Have not read any of the books though.  I decided to bid on a basket that contained all the books in the series, 15 of them.  And I won!  I'm not going to list all the books with links.  You can look those up if you like.  I will provide a link to her page on Stop You're Killing Me - here.  The first book in the series is Sing It To Her Bones (1999) and the most recent, Footprints To Murder (2016).  Most of these were signed by the author.



These were books that I either bought, came in my registration bag, or were given to attendees of the final Agatha Tea on Sunday afternoon.  None of them are signed.

anthology of short stories by various authors (bought)
anthology of short stories by various authors (bought)
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie (provided to all at Agatha Tea)


Signed Books

I was able to attend the author signings and get all of these autographed by their creators.  Some I bought, one came in my book bag, and two were gifted to me by the author.

Angela, who also writes cozies under the name Clover Tate, was one of the first duo of authors at the Malice Go Round.  I decided to try one of her books because she's from Portland!
Patricia was the other author in the first duo at Malice Go Round.  Her series is set in Wyoming.
Kay is from Texas, sets her series in the Texas Hill Country, and shares my name - autobuy!
Birthday Party Murder - Leslie Meier (gift from author)
British Manor Murder - Leslie Meier (gift from author)
So delighted to meet Leslie.  I'll share more in my next Malice post about why she gifted me two books!

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Enough for today!  Next Tuesday, my encounters with authors.  Some were longtime favorites, some are new favorites, and some will no doubt become favorites.