Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Brooklyn Bones

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Brooklyn Bones by Triss Stein.  This is the first book in the Erica Donato series, published by the Poisoned Pen Press.  I saw Triss on a panel at last spring's Left Coast Crime.  Enjoyed listening to her and this fits my quest for March mystery group's theme.  See what you think:

     It began with a sobbing phone call from my daughter, the kind of call every parent dreads.  All I made out was that something terrible had happened; she was terrified, would never get over it.  It was all my fault.
     Chris is fifteen.  Pretty much everything is all my fault, and yet--and yet--her voice told me it was more than teenage hysterics.  Maybe.
     With my heart in my mouth--oh, yes, some of those old cliches are dead accurate--I slapped a note on my desk to say I was out for the afternoon, ran out of the museum where I was an intern, and hustled across downtown Brooklyn at an undignified half-run.  I was in and out of the subway and running up the stairs to my house less than half an hour from the moment the phone rang.
     'Oh, mommy.'  She flew from the back room and threw herself into my arms.
     Well, I thought.  She hasn't done that in years.


A crime of the past comes much too close to home when Erica Donato’s teen-age daughter Chris finds a skeleton behind a wall in their crumbling Park Slope home. Erica – young widow, over-age history Ph.D candidate, mother of a teen, product of blue-collar Brooklyn – is drawn into the mystery when she learns this was an unknown teen-age girl, hidden there within living memory. She and her daughter are both touched and disturbed by the mysterious tragedy in their own home.

Chris’s dangerous curiosity and Erica’s work at a local history museum lead her right back to her neighborhood in its edgy, pre-gentrification days, the period when the age of Aquarius was turning dark. A cranky retired reporter shares old files with her. The charming widow of a slumlord has some surprises for her. The crazy old lady who hangs around her street keeps trying to tell her something. And there are people, including some she is close to, who know the whole story and will stop at nothing to make sure it stays buried forever.


I had a daughter who definitely went through her teens.  So, I know how teens can be.  And I lived through the 'age of Aquarius'.  I'm curious to see how this story progresses.  There are 3 books in this series and I'm looking forward to it.  Plus, Poisoned Pen Press.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

kay's week - 1.28.17

Hello bookish friends!  It's Saturday and so that must mean that I should share about my recent week.  Hope all of you have had a good one - peaceful, joyful, restful - or the best you can of those aims.  Me, I'm remembering my 'one word' - BREATHE.  Yes, 'BREATHE, JUST BREATHE'...better now?  Well, let's see what I've been up to...

I've been reading...

I completed 3 books this week - 2 of them read/listen combos and 1 on my Kindle.  They were a bit of a mixed bag and my enjoyment was a little up and a little down.

Our mystery book group selection for next week's February meeting is Redemption Road by John Hart.  I mostly listened to this one, but did pick up a copy at the library to read a bit faster as the story progressed.  The audio was narrated by Scott Shepherd and I'm not sure I've listened to him before.  That being said, he did a really good job, in my opinion.  This is the first book I've read by John Hart, but I know his books have appeared on bestseller lists since his first was published.  And he may be the only author to win back-to-back Edgar Awards.  I'm not going to say too, too much about my experience because I want to write a blog post about our mystery group's discussion.  I will say that I feel this author can write and write well.  The story is grim, but somehow parts of the language are really beautiful and thoughtful.  A story of flawed people and the things they've done or people think they've done.  A story of sacrifice and pain and true evil.  Stay tuned for more perhaps late next week.

Next I read After She Fell by Mary-Jane Riley on my Kindle.  This is (note this part) the 2nd book in the Alex Devlin series and I have not read the 1st book.  Did you note that I skipped a book?  Ha!  The reason why I chose this book was that Cleo, of Cleopatra Loves Books (do you know Cleo - you should), will be starting a 'Put A Book On The Map' feature on her blog.  Mary-Jane Riley's books will be the ones to kick off this new event and I believe that it begins on February 4th.  Keep that in mind and check out Cleo's blog.  OK, in After She Fell, Alex Devlin, an investigative journalist, agrees to help one of her oldest friends, Catriona, find out what happened to Elena, Catriona's teenage daughter.  The police say that Elena threw herself off a seaside cliff because she was depressed and lonely and dealing with an eating disorder.  Her mother disagrees and asks Alex to check out Elena's posh boarding school, the teachers, the students.  What Alex finds is complicated.  I liked this book - somehow books that are set with boarding schools are always appealing to me.  It reminded me a bit of Reconstructing Amelia.  I'll go back and read this author's first book in the series, The Bad Things.

I also did a read/listen combo of Good As Gone by Amy Gentry, a local author for my area.  It was narrated by Karen Peakes, another new-to-me narrator.  Good As Gone, which is set in Houston mostly, relates the story of a kidnapping of a 13-year-old girl, Julie, witnessed by her younger sister, Jane.  Time passes and no trace is found of Julie, despite billboards and exhaustive searches.  Eight years later, a woman shows up at the door who says she is Julie.  The parents are elated, as is Jane.  And then...and then...maybe there are issues.  Is this really Julie?  The author tells the story in an interesting way that makes it a bit difficult to follow on audio.  Several points of view and sometimes I found it tough to know exactly who was speaking.  I don't want to spoil her storytelling method, but may I just say that though the narrator is good, reading this book in print might be the way to go.  I did like it pretty well, though I guessed a lot of what would happen.  Amy Gentry will be doing an event at a library close to me at the end of February and I'm going to try to go if I can.  It's a fundraising event for the library, which is always good, plus I'd like to hear what she has to say about her writing process.

I've watched...

We did finally watch the last episode of Sherlock this week.  All I can say is...so many thoughts....and creeeeeepy.  Don't know if this is the end of this adaptation.  I will say that I love Dr. Watson - no matter if the character is played by Martin Freeman or Lucy Liu or Jude Law.  And I've never really warmed to Mycroft.  We also watched an episode of Bones that we had recorded that included characters that lived in a retirement home.  It was with pleasure that we saw Hal Holbrook (age 91 - wow!) and Ed Asner (who is 87, I believe) guest starring.  And then, of course, this week saw the loss of Mary Tyler Moore, who connects with Asner in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Seeing Hal Holbrook made me think of his late wife, Dixie Carter, a great favorite of mine as Julia Sugarbaker on the series Designing Women.  It makes one want to go back and revisit those wonderful TV shows.


Next week will be the February meeting for the Mystery Book Group I attend - and we are 9 years into our journey through mysteries together.  It is so much fun!  One of my better suggestions while working at the library, if I do say so myself.  Ha!  I began my additional duties as volunteer shelver at the library yesterday.  I took it sorta easy - in case you didn't know, book shelving is a bit of a strenuous activity.  Lots of up and down and grasping and shoving books down and bending.  Anyway, I feel fine today and enjoyed myself so much.  I just did 2 hours, but got 4 carts of books emptied.  I only put Purell on my hands 3 times and washed my hands thoroughly at the end.  I had forgotten just how 'dirty' books really are.  I've never worked in a bank, but I've heard the same thing from tellers about money.  It was fun to see a couple of former co-workers and I'll look forward to my weekly duty.

Otherwise, life has been pretty good.  Our weather has not been too cold at all, but it's been cool enough.  Spring is coming, though I know it will be a bit and we may still have some frigid days.  Spring is my favorite season here in Central Texas - the wildflowers, you know.  I'll leave you today with a shot of my beloved bluebonnets from last year, our state flower.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - The Shimmering Road

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  I'm not sure that Jill is still blogging, but we'll link to her blog anyway.

One of my favorite books last year was a debut novel by Hester Young, The Gates of Evangeline.  I talked about it here.  This author has said that her book contract is a trilogy and the next book is coming out soon.  This week, I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  February 14th

When soon-to-be mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to have recurring dreams about harm coming to her unborn daughter, she knows these are not the nightmares of an anxious mom-to-be. They are the result of her mysterious gift. But before she can decipher what these dreams might mean, Charlie learns that the mother who abandoned her when she was a toddler is the victim of a double murder in Arizona. The other victim—Jasmine, a half-sister Charlie never knew she had—has left behind a child, a little girl who speaks to Charlie in her dreams and was present on the night of the murders. Convinced that she must help her orphaned niece, Charlie travels to Tucson, Arizona, where she must confront her painful ties to her mother and delve into her sister’s shadowy past.

To untangle the web of secrets that will reveal the truth of her nightmares, Charlie can no longer avoid her family’s checkered history. Who is in the racy photos that turned up in Jasmine’s apartment? Where is her niece’s father, whom Jasmine was rumored to have been seeing again on the sly? Was her mother’s charity work in Mexico really as selfless as it seemed? And most important of all, what did her niece really witness on the night of the murders?

The search for answers leads Charlie across the Mexican border, from the resort town of Rocky Point to the border town of Nogales, and elucidates the meaning of her dreams in most unexpected ways. Ultimately, to protect her niece and her unborn child, Charlie must battle not just evil but the forces of nature, in one final terrifying encounter in the Tucson desert.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Silent Voices

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Silent Voices, the 4th Vera Stanhope mystery by the lovely Ann Cleeves.  Here's a secret - I've not yet read the first 3 books in this series.  Yes, I am trying to curb my distaste for 'must read in order'.  I acquired this book at last spring's Left Coast Crime and met Ann Cleeves at the same time.  She is so much fun to visit with.  Since I had the book close at hand, I decided to try it.  See what you think:

     Vera swam slowly.  An elderly man with a bathing hat pulled like a fully stretched condom over his head went past her.  He wasn't a strong swimmer, but he was faster than she was.  She was the sloth of the swimming world.  But still she was almost faint with the effort of moving, with pulling the bulk of her body through the water.
     She hated the sensation of water on her face--one splash and she imagined she was drowning--so she did a slow breaststroke with her chin a couple of inches from the surface of the pool.  Looking, she suspected, like a giant turtle.
     She managed to raise her head a little further to look at the clock on the wall.  Nearly midday.  Soon the fit and fabulous elderly would appear for aqua-aerobics.  The women with painted toenails, floral bathing costumes and the smug realization that they'd be the last generation to retire early in some comfort.  There'd be loud music, the sound distorted by a tortuous PA system and the appalling acoustics of the pool, so it would hardly seem like music at all.  A young woman in Lycra would shout.  Vera couldn't bear the thought of it.  She'd swum her regulation ten lengths.  Well, eight.  She couldn't do self-deception if her life depended on it.  And now, her lungs heaving, she really felt that her life did depend on it.  So sod it!  Five minutes in the steam room, a super-strength latte, then back to work.


When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat - death is never that simple.

Doing what she does best, Vera pulls her team together and sets them interviewing staff and those connected to the victim, while she and colleague, Sergeant Joe Ashworth, work to find a motive. While Joe struggles to reconcile his home life with the demands made on him by the job, Vera revels being back in charge of an investigation again. Death has never made her feel so alive.

And when they discover that the victim had worked in social services, and had been involved in a shocking case involving a young child, then it appears obvious that the two are somehow connected. Though things are never as they seem...


I have not watched the TV adaptation of this series, Vera, but it's on my list to try.  As is the TV adaptation of Cleeves' Shetland series.  Have you watched either of them or read any of this author's books?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

kay's week - 1.21.17

Happy Saturday everyone!  Hope your week has been peaceful...and that's all I'll say about that.  Me, I'm all about the books.

I've been reading...

I finished 4 books this week, 3 in print/e-book and 1 on audio.  What a lovely week!

I shared The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths as a 'Waiting on Wednesday' selection last week.  I had been lucky enough to get an advance copy of this much anticipated new entry into the Ruth Galloway series and I decided that I indeed 'could not wait'.  This book won't come out in the US until late May and I think in the UK next month.  What I will say is that I was very happy with it!  I know that some feel that Griffiths has a little bit too much about the characters' personal lives and too little mystery.  I understand that feeling, but it's not one that I share.  Honestly, I read this series as much for the characters and their lives as I do for the crime solving.  The Chalk Pit has a lot about 'rough sleepers' or 'homeless' people.  There is a lot of compassion shown toward those individuals.  Ruth and company go below the ground into the tunnels that apparently exist from chalk mining.  There are dead bodies, bones, secrets, and 'wee Kate'.  What more could you want?  Hoping all who love Ruth and Nelson and Cathbad and Judy and Clough and 'wee Kate' will be pleased.

Next, I finished Peter Swanson's new book, Her Every Fear, on audio.  I had read this last year as a paperback advance copy, but decided to listen to it as well.  Eva Kaminsky was the narrator and she did an excellent job.  I was a big, big fan of Swanson's previous book, The Kind Worth Killing, and though I think this one was not quite as much of a favorite, it was still very good.  Kate is a person with lots of fears.  She always has been.  And then things keep happening to her - like being assaulted and stalked by an old boyfriend.  She comes from her home in London to Boston in an apartment swap with a distant cousin.  The first thing that occurs - a dead body next door.  She meets some 'interesting' neighbors and becomes more and more convinced that perhaps her cousin has some secrets.  Swanson's fascination with Hitchcock and his movies is again apparent as this book has some elements of Rear Window.  There were a couple of things here that raised the hair on my neck - very, very scary.  Pick it up.  Read it!

All Men Fear Me by Donis Casey was my next book and I loved it!  It's the 8th book in a historical mystery series that is not nearly as well known as it should be, in my opinion.  Alafair and Shaw Tucker live in Boynton, Oklahoma in the early part of the 1900's.  They have 10 living children, several in-laws, grandchildren, and are related to many people in their area, including the sheriff.  Each book has focused a bit on one or another of the children, along with the parents and crime and Alafair's ability to land herself right in the middle of things.  This book is mostly Charlie's book (age 16), though the effect that World War One has had on Oklahoma and the US in general, plus the other Tucker family members is apparent.  You know, some things never change.  I'm not sure I was aware of quite how divided opinions were about the US entering WWI, but this author has done her research and included some very pithy quotes to begin each chapter.  This book is about fear and patriotism and sabotage and murder.  This series gets better and better.

After devouring All Men Fear Me, I delved right in to the next and most current book in Donis Casey's series, The Return of the Raven Mocker, which was published earlier this month.  As I shared on Tuesday, it's set in 1918 and lets us know what's happened to the Tucker family during war time.  Mostly, it's about the flu epidemic and how it affects Boynton and Oklahoma and the Tuckers.  After my recent bout of flu, it was interesting to me.  Alafair is a farm wife and a skilled amateur healer.  She has experience with 10 children and has nursed many family members through illness.  She has her own opinions about remedies and how to best keep this severe flu from spreading.  After Alice and Walter, her daughter and son-in-law, are stricken, Alafair moves to town to nurse them, while placing her younger children and grandchildren in quarantine with Mary, another daughter.  Flu spreads rapidly through the town and people are sick and some die.  The people in the house next door to Alice have flu, but when two of them die and it turns out they were poisoned, Alafair tells the sheriff and his deputy what she has observed.  I loved this book, but will say that it was not a very complicated mystery to solve.  I enjoyed reading more about the way that a pandemic was dealt with and also was interested in some of the 'home remedies' that the author shared at the end of the book.  Remedies that I remember my own grandmother using.  Again, I love the characters and setting!

I've watched...

Still haven't watched the last Sherlock for this season.  We did record it, but there have been a lot of football and basketball games that took priority.  I've continued watching a bit of Foyle's War, but I've decided to also start watching Midsomer Murders.  I'll begin at the beginning, but there are a number of episodes that I've never watched.  I noticed that Miguel Ferrer, lately starring on NCIS Los Angeles, passed away.  My hubby and I had felt that he looked so gaunt and ill this year on that show.  He had throat cancer or so I read.  I liked him on this show and also on Crossing Jordan a number of years ago.  Always found it interesting that his mother was Rosemary Clooney, which would make George his cousin.


A quiet week for us.  I've walked and starting working on getting things together for taxes.  I'm going to expand my volunteer work at my previous workplace, a branch of the Austin Public Library.  They need someone to shelve books one morning a week.  That should suit me just fine and will be a bit more than just working with the mystery book group once a month.  I'm also going to join the 'Friends' of another local library that I use more often to check out books.  They have a book sale twice a year that I've enjoyed attending and I've purchased many books there.  Maybe if I work the sale, I won't buy many books.  What do you think?  Probably not...Ha!  Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Mississippi Blood

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  I'm not sure that Jill is still blogging, but we'll link to her blog anyway.

Another favorite author of mine is Greg Iles.  I have loved so many of his books and his latest have been a trilogy, set in his native Natchez.  This week I'm waiting on the 3rd book in the trilogy.  At last, we'll find out the 'rest of the story'.

Publication Date: March 21st

The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family, and the enemies bent on destroying them in this revelatory volume in the epic trilogy set in modern-day Natchez, Mississippi—Greg Iles’s epic tale of love and honor, hatred and revenge that explores how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present.

Shattered by grief and dreaming of vengeance, Penn Cage sees his family and his world collapsing around him. The woman he loves is gone, his principles have been irrevocably compromised, and his father, once a paragon of the community that Penn leads as mayor, is about to be tried for the murder of a former lover. Most terrifying of all, Dr. Cage seems bent on self-destruction. Despite Penn's experience as a prosecutor in major murder trials, his father has frozen him out of the trial preparations--preferring to risk dying in prison to revealing the truth of the crime to his son.

During forty years practicing medicine, Tom Cage made himself the most respected and beloved physician in Natchez, Mississippi. But this revered Southern figure has secrets known only to himself and a handful of others.  Among them, Tom has a second son, the product of an 1960s affair with his devoted African American nurse, Viola Turner.  It is Viola who has been murdered, and her bitter son--Penn's half-brother--who sets in motion the murder case against his father.  The resulting investigation exhumes dangerous ghosts from Mississippi's violent past. In some way that Penn cannot fathom, Viola Turner was a nexus point between his father and the Double Eagles, a savage splinter cell of the KKK. More troubling still, the long-buried secrets shared by Dr. Cage and the former Klansmen may hold the key to the most devastating assassinations of the 1960s. The surviving Double Eagles will stop at nothing to keep their past crimes buried, and with the help of some of the most influential men in the state, they seek to ensure that Dr. Cage either takes the fall for them, or takes his secrets to an early grave.

Tom Cage's murder trial sets a terrible clock in motion, and unless Penn can pierce the veil of the past and exonerate his father, his family will be destroyed. Unable to trust anyone around him--not even his own mother--Penn joins forces with Serenity Butler, a famous young black author who has come to Natchez to write about his father's case. Together, Penn and Serenity--a former soldier--battle to crack the Double Eagles and discover the secret history of the Cage family and the South itself, a desperate move that risks the only thing they have left to gamble: their lives.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - The Return of the Raven Mocker

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of The Return of the Raven Mocker, the 9th book in Donis Casey's Alafair Tucker mystery series.  I love Donis' series featuring Alafair, her husband Shaw, and their many children.  And this one, set in 1918, has a flu angle.  Seemed appropriate after my recent bout.  See what you think:

     People die all kinds of ways.  Some die in war, some die of sickness, and some people die because of the hatred of others.  But on the fine soft Sunday morning of September 1, 1918, Alafair Tucker was not thinking of all the ways that people die.  She was thinking that when Monday came, her youngest child, Grace, was going to start the first grade.
     On that day, the congregation of the first Christian Church of Boynton, Oklahoma, prayed for a speedy end to the Great War in Europe.  The new preacher, Mr. Huster, didn't ask that the enemy be annihilated and crushed into dust, as did many of his flock in their private prayers, but that the better angels of human nature would prevail and peace and goodwill be restored between nations.
     Alafair Tucker prayed for an end to hostilities as hard as anyone.  But she didn't hold out much hope that reason would prevail any time soon.  She hadn't seen any evidence of reason in her fellow man for some time now.


World War I is raging in Europe, but as the deadly influenza pandemic of 1918 sweeps like a wildfire through Boynton, Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker is fighting her own war. Her daughter, Alice, and son-in-law, Walter Kelley, have both come down with the flu, and Alafair has moved into town to care for them after quarantining her young children at their sister’s farm. Boynton as a whole isolates itself like an old English plague village, discouraging anyone from coming into town and the residents from traveling outside. A new doctor applies science to treating the stricken, but Alafair applies all she knows about hygiene, nutrition, and old and trusted country remedies. Unable to aid her sons and sons-inlaw fighting overseas, this is danger she can combat.

One autumn afternoon, screams coming from next door alert Alafair that Alice’s neighbor, Nola Thomason, and her son Lewis have suddenly and unexpectedly succumbed. Yet there is something about the way the pair died that causes Alafair to suspect their deaths were due to poison rather than to influenza. The epidemic is so overwhelming that it is many days before the only doctor left in town can confirm Alafair’s suspicions; neither Nola nor Lewis died of the flu. The only witness to their deaths, twelve-year-old Dorothy Thomason, a special friend of Alafair’s daughter, Sophronia, is so traumatized that she is rendered mute. Were Nola and her son murdered, and if so, why?

The usual motives for murder are greed, or jealousy, or hatred. Or could it be, as Alafair fears, that the Raven Mocker, the most dreaded of the Cherokee wizards or witches, the evil spirit who takes to the air in a fiery shape to rob the old, the sick, and the dying of their lives, is hunting victims and bringing misery to the innocent?


My mystery book group is reading books published by the Poisoned Pen Press for our March meeting.  I decided to catch up on this series in preparation.  I have the previous book to read before this one, All Men Fear Me, which details the beginning of WWI and how the Tucker family members become involved.  Have I said that I love this series?  Donis is a lovely person and these tales are based on her family and their Oklahoma life.  My mother's family was from Oklahoma too, so many of the stories and lore remind me of my great-grandparents and grandparents.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

kay's week - 1.14.17

Welcome to week #2 of kay's week.  Hope everyone has had a good week, though I know some have been sick and some have had bad weather.  Mine has not been bad at all.  I've gotten back into some good habits and read, read, read.

Wendy from Musings of a Bookish Kitty shared a couple of posts recently that included the first line of the books she read in 2016 and also the last line (she warned of spoilers) of books.  I've seen other bloggers share the first line in their reviews and there are, of course, a couple of memes where we share a bit from a book.  However, I decided to note both - first sentence-ish and last sentence-ish in my reading journal.  I'm excited about having those 'memory helps' available for me at a later time. Thanks for the tip, Wendy!

I've been reading...

I finished 3 books this week and marked 1 as a DNF.  All 3 I finished were read/listen combos.

The Woman In Cabin 10 is Ruth Ware's second book.  The audio was narrated by Imogen Church and she did a marvelous job.  Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist that is invited on a luxury cruise and finds it much more harrowing than she expected.  Lo is a nervous sort of person and it doesn't help that she's been the victim of a burglary a couple of days before the cruise leaves.  Plus the ship itself is smaller than she imagined - a boutique cruise.  The other passengers are journalists and investors.  Lo wakes up the first night and thinks she hears someone falling overboard and a scream.  She reports this to ship security, but feels like no one believes her.  The whole book reinforced my resolve to stay off of boats.  I get motion sick anyway.  The story was suspenseful and I was surprised a few times.  Recommended.

I next read The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard.  This is the first book I've read by this author and it was narrated by Amy McFadden and David Atlas (both good).  Liz McGinnis, a high school counselor, moves to a very, very upscale community with her husband, Phil, and her teenage daughter, Danielle.  Phil's job as a community liaison comes with a house in the neighborhood paid for by his employer, but the McGinnis' lives are so different from the rich people in the area.  The family is welcomed initially, but then things start to go wrong.  Liz has problems with both Phil and Danielle.  There are incidents, secrets, major drama.  I liked this story pretty well, but it did seem that if a dramatic incident could happen, it did.  A little over the top.  I guessed the ending.

My next read was The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti.  Again, the first book I've read by this author.  The narrator was Mandeleine Maby, who I've enjoyed before.  She does a good job.  In this book, Zoe Whittaker is a young wife to a Wall Street success, Henry.  Zoe used to work at a flower shop, but she and Henry met at a corporate event and he swept her off her feet.  Now she lives in a penthouse apartment and organizes fundraisers and goes to lavish parties with her husband.  Zoe though used to be another person with another name.  When her photograph is published in the society pages, Zoe finds that her life is in turmoil.  She's nearly run over by a speeding vehicle, her apartment is broken into, she feels someone watching her - is her secret out?  I read this one pretty quickly and, at first, thought I had the secrets solved.  I did not.  There were some surprises, though the main character was a little tough to like.  This was mostly good for me - not wonderful, but mostly good.

Lastly, I really tried to read The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James.  I featured this one on Tuesday.  I got to 25% on my Kindle and it just wasn't working for me.  I decided it either wasn't the right time or not the right book, so I put it aside.  I'll perhaps try again at a later date.

I've watched...

The second episode of Sherlock - hmmm...this is obviously going to be a dark, dark year for this particular adaptation of Sherlock.  Not sure I'm loving it.  Think I like the Elementary adaptation better right now.  I've been a little weary of many of my long-watched TV shows.  Shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds and others.  While we were sick, I started watching Foyle's War again and I'm enjoying that.

Book Groups...

I did attend a book group this week, even though I hadn't read the book for discussion - Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris.  The discussion was quite good and I'll be reading this one before long.  There are 2 others books in the series as well.  Next month's book for that group is not very appealing to me - The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles.  I suspect I'll give that one a pass.  This week, another book group that I visit from time to time is meeting.  They are having a Dead Author Month and discussing books by Carol Shields.  I've not read any books by that author, but I might attend anyway.  It's always fun listening to the discussion.  Have you read any of Carol Shields' books?


I resumed walking at the rec center on Monday and have walked each day this week.  It felt good to go round and round the track, listening to whatever book I was reading at the moment.  Lots of people at the gym.  It's always like that in January and February as everyone works on their 'resolutions'.  Then it will quiet down.  Next week, I'm going to try to tackle yoga again.  We also got rain yesterday and that will help the cedar pollen levels in our area.  I'm so happy for that - tired of itchy eyes and ears.  As I wind up this weekly post, I'll share a picture of my Christmas gift from my daughter and son-in-law.  Just what I needed - a lovely book bag, an Amazon gift card for Kindle books, and a bookmark that the daughter made with counted cross stitch.  I've already used the bag.  It holds a very nice amount of library books.  Yes, I know, I was going to only read my own books.  You didn't really believe me when I said that, right?  Ha!  Have a great week!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - The Chalk Pit

This is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  I'm not sure that Jill is still blogging, but we'll link to her blog anyway.

As most of you know, Elly Griffiths is a big, big favorite of mine.  Her Ruth Galloway mystery series is wonderful.  I love it, love it!  A new book is always something to celebrate and we're up to #9.  This week I'm waiting for:

Publication Date: May 30th

Norwich is riddled with old chalk-mining tunnels, but no one’s sure exactly how many. When Ruth is called in to investigate a set of human remains found in one of them, she notices the bones are almost translucent, a sign they were boiled soon after death. Once more, she finds herself at the helm of a murder investigation.
Meanwhile, DCI Nelson is hunting for a missing homeless woman, Barbara, who he hears has gone “underground.” Could she have disappeared into the labyrinth? And if so, is she connected to the body Ruth found? As Ruth, Nelson, and the rest of their team investigate the tunnels, they hear rumors of secret societies, cannibalism, and ritual killings. When a dead body is found with a map that appears to be of The Underground, they realize their quest to find the killer has only just begun—and that there may be more bodies underfoot.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading.  This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James.  This is an author and book I've meant to try for quite some time.  Saw it on a list on Wendy's blog, Musings of a Bookish Kitty and remembered I had it on my Kindle.  See what you think:

London, 1922

     The day I met Mr. Gellis, I had been walking in the rain.
     In the morning, unable to face another day alone in my flat, I wandered through the bustle of Piccadilly, the collar of my thin coat pulled high on my neck.  The air was swollen with cottony drizzle that did not quite fall to the ground, and pressed my cheeks and eyelashes.  The lights of Piccadilly shone garishly under the lowering clouds; the shouts of the tourists were loud against the grim silence of the businesspeople and the murmurs of strolling couples in the square.
     I stayed as long as I could, watching the bob of umbrellas.  No one noticed a pale girl, with cropped hair under an inexpensive and unfashionable hat, her hands plunged in her pockets.  Eventually, the mist resolved itself into rain and even I turned my reluctant steps home.


Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis—rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts—has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah's task to confront her in death.

Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair's assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance—before she destroys them all?


I'm looking forward to starting this book soon.  They pretty much had me at 'haunting' and 'ghost'.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Best of 2016 - kay's version...

I had a really good reading year in 2016.  I read a few more books than in 2015.

My stats look like this:

Total Books Read in 2016 - 136
Kindle Books - 51
Personal Books in Print - 8
Library Books - 26
Audio books - 51

Non-fiction - 2
Graphic Novels - 23

Male Authors - 26
Female Authors - 110

I'm not sure what any of that says about me except that I read fiction almost exclusively, that I read predominantly female authors, audio books make up a large portion of my reading, and I really stepped up my graphic novel reading this year.  Anything else you notice?

Here are the books or series I enjoyed most in 2016.  Links are not to reviews, but to Amazon. 

Kay's Best of 2016

by Carla Buckley

by Hester Young

by Kate Morton

by Clare Mackintosh

by Louise Penny

by Jon Krakauer

by Lucy Knisley

by Roz Chast

There were two series that I read in their entirety during 2016 and I completely enjoyed both so very much.  The first was the Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller, set in West Virginia.  The first book in the series is A Killing in the Hills, but my favorite book was the 5th and latest:

by Julia Keller 

I also read Kate Rhodes' series that takes place in London and features Alice Quentin, a psychologist who works with the police.  There are also 5 books in this series.  The first is:

by Kate Rhodes


Hope you got some ideas for some excellent reading!  And let's all have a great reading year in 2017!!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

kay's week - 1.7.17

Welcome to 2017 and a new feature here on the blog - kay's week.  I am shamelessly copying several of my blogging friends and determining to do a weekly roundup of various things.  Hopefully, I can share what I've been reading or doing or watching or imagining in a semi-coherent format.  Formal reviews seem a little tiresome to me now, but a short paragraph is possible.  Same goes for other pursuits.  We'll see how we fare.

Goals for 2017...

Honestly, I don't have formal goals.  I shared my 'One Word', which was BREATHE.  So focusing on breathing (i.e. relaxing) is good.  When I was sick recently, it became apparent that I had lost my appetite for food for a bit.  I also seem to have lost my appetite for spending money on new books.  We'll see how long that lasts, but my quasi-goal is to read the books I already own.  If a new book is desired, the library is the place to find it.  That being said, right now, I'm not really interested in taking home books that have 'lived' with someone else for a while.  I need a break from germs.  The library will still be there when I feel like checking things out or there are always library e-books.  So, in reading the books I already own, I think you'll find that I may be doing more rereading and also reading books that are not the most current.  And I'm happy with that.

I've been reading... 

This category will also include 'I've been listening to...'.  For me, reading in print or reading by listening is all one and the same.  I'll try to note whether it's a print or audio or even a combo type read.

River Road by Carol Goodman - An author that I've meant to sample for a long time.  I think I've owned several of her books over the years.  This was an audio and was narrated by Madeleine Maby.  Nan Lewis, a college professor, is driving home after a faculty party when she hits a deer.  She searches for the deer, but doesn't find it.  Next morning, she's awakened by the police telling her that one of her favorite students was victim of a hit-and-run on River Road the night before.  Nan's car is damaged and the officers have questions.

A good enough read.  Not very enthusiastic am I?  I liked it, but didn't love it.  It was a slow moving story and Nan was hard to sympathize with at times.  I figured out the solution pretty early on, but this audio suited me for listening while I wasn't feeling well.  And yes, I'd read another of this author's books.  I think I own at least one more of them.

The Pact by Jodi Picoult - This was a reread for me.  I first read it many years ago and think it was the first Picoult book I read.  At that time, her way of telling a story was quite unique or at least it was to me.  Read this on my Kindle and was glad to have it in e-book format as it is over 500 pages.  The issue here is teen suicide.  A boy and girl who live next door to each other all their lives, families are best friends, kids get to the teen years and start dating.  Boy is athletic and a gifted writer.  Girl is artistic.  One dies.  One is accused of murder.  Probably one of the first books I read that proposed the idea that you don't always know your family as well as you think you do.  Definite Picoult book, if you know what I mean.

I've watched...

As to TV watching - first episode of the new season of Sherlock - boy, was it dark!  The last season of Bones and also of Grimm begins this week.  I'll miss those shows.  We saw Rogue One on Christmas Eve - very good - loved it!   I'd like to see Sing - great music!  We also watched the Miss Peregrine movie and Fantastic Beasts.  Liked the Peregrine movie.  Loved Fantastic Beasts.  Hope there will be more of those.

Book Groups...

I missed the Mystery Book Group meeting this week because of illness, but I heard that it went well and the group pretty much universally liked The Lake House by Kate Morton.  Glad to hear it.  We'll be reading Redemption Road by John Hart for February.  There is another book group that I attend occasionally that will meet this next week to discuss Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris.  I haven't read this book, but I'm considering attending the discussion anyway.


I'm feeling much better after my flu episode.  The coughing still lingers, but the energy level is better and the appetite is returning.  Am planning on going back to walking next week, hopefully.  And returning to yoga perhaps the week after that.

And that's all folks!  See you next week!  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

One word...

Last year, I participated for the first time in the 'One Word' project that I'd read about on Sheila's blog - Book Journey.  My 2016 word was JOY.  I vowed to look for JOY wherever I could find it - in the quiet places - in the unexpected places.  I also wanted to share JOY with others when I could.  I think that I did pretty well with that goal for most of the year.  However, as we all know, 2016 was a stressful year for many reasons - which I will not go into here.  Each of us had our own stresses and worries and fears.  As the fall came and the year drew to a close, I found myself retreating more and more into my 'safe place' - my reading world - books - and stepping away from news and social media and the constant stream of 'updates'.  JOY was difficult to see.

Now it's 2017 and time for a new word, a new focus, a new 'lease on life', if you will.  As I was pondering if I would even do the 'One Word' project again, the word 'peace' kept coming into my head.  I was trying to explain to my husband about 'One Word' and told him I was considering 'peace'.  We were in the car and there was a song playing.  He sat for a minute listening and then said, 'maybe you should use this song as inspiration for your word'.  And there it was.  My word.

The song was 'Breathe' by Jonny Diaz, a contemporary Christian artist.  There are a couple of verses that speak to me very, very strongly:

I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear you say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in, fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe (just breathe)
let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe (just breathe)

If you are interested in hearing the song in it's entirety, you can find it on YouTube.


The ocean picture above was taken by me at the Oregon Coast in 2010.  That was a trip we took after my mother died and my 'parent care' time was at an end.  It was a trip that showed me how the ocean and the rhythms there were so very soothing to me - the person who always looks to the mountains for solace.  Thinking about BREATHE brought that trip to mind and how I was so mesmerized by watching the waves.  It's a good reminder.

So that's my word.  BREATHE.  As a person who finds it way too easy to get caught up in anxiety and stress, my goal for 2017 is to BREATHE.  I found it quite ironic that I spent the turning of the year, 2016 to 2017, actually trying to breathe without coughing.  A little life lesson and reinforcement that perhaps BREATHE was indeed my 'One Word' for 2017.  Thanks for listening.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Best laid plans...

I intended to have already shared my 'best of 2016' list.  I had also planned to talk about my 2016 'one word' and reveal my 2017 'one word'.  However, life and the flu had other plans.  My husband and I both have been battling the flu since last Tuesday.  The real flu.  We are better and are now fever free, but still coughing and sleep deprived.  No energy at all.  Sadly, the picture above is not really all that far from how I look, especially the hair.

The goal for today is...I have no idea.  Ha!  I'm still annoyed because I took a flu shot in early November.  Guess the strains do indeed mutate or whatever.  We were trying to remember the last time we had the actual flu and if there had ever been a time when were both came down with it at almost the same time.  Our daughter thinks it was maybe in the mid '90's.  She said she was about 12.  And she remembers that it was at Christmas time and that it was an awful Christmas (for her - the non-sick one - not us, the sickies!).  All I know is that I'm too old for this.  LOL

Once I can focus better, watch for my upcoming 'Best of 2016' and 'One Word'.  My mystery group meets this Wednesday.  I'll decide tomorrow if I feel I might be able to attend.  We're discussing Kate Morton's THE LAKE HOUSE.  I've been enjoying reading all the end-of-year posts by everyone, but commenting is just a little beyond me right now.

Now, I'm off to drink more hot tea and maybe, just maybe, change the sheets on my bed.  Task for the day.  Welcome 2017!!