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 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.   


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.


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.


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!


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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French

Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French

First Paragraph:

All at once the flat was full of noises.  The phone rang, stopped, then rang again.  The mobile rattled on the table.  The doorbell sounded once, twice, and at the same time there was a thumping sound on the door itself.  Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson lifted himself from his chair on to his crutches, moved to the door and opened it.


Psychotherapist Dr Frieda Klein once again finds herself in the midst of a criminal investigation when the rotting body of an ex-policeman is found beneath the floorboards of her house.

The corpse is only months old but the main suspect, murderer Dean Reeve, died over seven years ago.

As the killer picks off his next victims and her home is turned into a crime scene, Frieda's old life seems like a hazy dream.

With eyes of the world upon her and no answers from the police, Frieda realizes that she will have to track this killer before he tracks down those she loves.

My Thoughts:

I have really, really enjoyed all the Frieda Klein books, written by the husband/wife team, Nicci French. This 7th book is no exception. My understanding is that there will be one more book in the series and I wish I had it in my hands right now. The book begins with a body being discovered under the floorboards of Frieda's living room. It's a message to her. Frieda has maintained for book after book that Dean Reeve is still alive, still involved in her life - sometimes as a protector - sometimes as a threat. Soon, Frieda's friends and patients are in danger. Serious danger. The main story arc is closing in on the finish. And I cannot wait!! This series is highly recommended.

This book is available in large paperback from Book Depository.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - All the panels...volunteering and monitoring them...

Welcome to Day 2 of my adventures at Malice Domestic!  Today, we'll talk about volunteering at a convention and also about the panels that I attended.  There was one thing I learned at the previous mystery convention, Left Coast Crime - as much as you would like it, you won't be able to get to everything or see everything or participate in everything.  Just too many events.  I took that to heart this time and so, I didn't see, experience or attend every panel.  I did spend some unstructured time in the book dealer room, looking for books that I had pre-selected to perhaps buy and get signed.  I also spent some time in the 'Silent Auction' room and a bit of time in the 'Hospitality Room', where one could get refreshments and sit for a bit.

By the way, in this post, the narrative that goes with the picture will be below the picture.  Just to change it up.  Ha!

Volunteer table - envelopes signed out and in again

As the time approached for the convention, attendees got various emails, one of which was an appeal for volunteers.  These conventions are all-volunteer events and so it's important for some of the attendees to help out.  Since I didn't have a 'buddy' this time (and I did miss Cathy from Kittling: Books a lot!!), I decided to tell them I'd be glad to lend a hand.  I sent the volunteer coordinator a list of the panels that I planned to attend on Saturday and Sunday and told them that I was available where there was the most need.  Well, I received an email back that said - 'You got all the panels you requested!'.  Ha!  Yes, I helped at every single panel I attended.  Some back to back and on different floors.  It was a bit of a race.

I was a 'monitor' and it was planned that there be two monitors at each panel.  Most of mine had a partner, but two did not.  All was well though.  The job consisted of picking up and signing out an envelope (see above) filled with nameplates for the authors, signs that said 'Microphone' and '10 minutes' and '5 minutes', and a sheet where the monitor listed the room count.  Another sheet to hand to the 'Moderator' and a further instruction sheet.

The monitor gets to the room as early as feasible, sets out the nameplates, makes sure there is water and cups for the panelists, hands the moderator their sheet, retreats to the back of the room to 'count the house' after 15 or 20 minutes, makes sure the door doesn't bang as people come in and out (which they did a lot), holds up the signs when needed.  Finally, the envelope is signed back in, with all the stuff filled out.  After a couple of rounds of this, I had it down pat.  A big positive was that the 'monitor' gets to meet each and every author on the panels personally, though not for long.  A negative is that with people getting up and down, etc., one might lose the gist of the panel's conversation or some of it.  It was all good though.  I monitored 7 panels and here's the scoop on all of them:

Murder in Foreign Climes

Maria Hudgins - Moderator

I had selected this panel because of Tracee de Hahn's participation.  Her mystery series is set in Switzerland and the first is called Swiss Vendetta.  I also had a copy of Matthew Iden's new book, The Winter Over, on my Kindle to read soon.  It's set in Antarctica, a location that I am fascinated with.    

Just Die Laughing: Humor in Mysteries

Karen Cantwell - Moderator

I love funny mysteries and since Donna Andrews was one of the panelists here, my selection for this time was a given.  I also wanted to meet and greet Nancy West, who lives in San Antonio.  Loved this panel - so, so funny.  They shared many funny stories and at one point, Jessie Chandler got so tickled telling about a mishap that her partner had been involved in, watching her snort and laugh was funnier than her tale.  It made me add her books to my list.  Great panel!!

Rural Murder

I had selected this panel because Anne Hillerman and Shannon Baker were panelists.  Our mystery group had read Hillerman's first book in the series she continued from the one her father, Tony Hillerman, wrote.  We enjoyed it very much and I was anxious to meet her and tell her so.  I also had met Shannon Baker in Phoenix and was excited to relate to her that I had bought the first book in her new series, Stripped Bare, set in the Nebraska Sandhills.  Then I found that Stephanie Jaye Evans was a Texas gal and her series is set in our state too.  

Murder with a Hint of WooWoo: Paranormal Mysteries

Maria Lima - Moderator

I was excited about this panel because all these authors have books that I've planned to read, but have not tried as yet.  I also found that Maria Lima lived in my area of the world, Central Texas, for a long time.  Connie di Marco writes a series using the Zodiac, Gigi Pandian has a treasure hunter and the Accidental Alchemist series (with a gargoyle, no less), and Leigh Perry has Sid, the family skeleton.  Fun, fun, fun!!

Thrilling Suspense

Doris Ann Norris - Moderator

I may have been most interested in this panel, for let's face it, most of what I read would be considered suspense.  Doris Ann Norris is a retired librarian and I remembered her name and her self-given moniker from the DorothyL list that I read years ago.  Doris called herself, 'the 2,000 year old librarian'.  I enjoyed meeting her.  I was already signed up to sit at Lori Rader-Day's table at the Agathas Banquet, but I wanted to hear her talk about her new book, The Day I Died, which I had already read.  Lori and I got to visit several times.  I also had Eileen Rendahl's new book as an advance copy, but I bought a copy for her to sign as well - Cover Me in Darkness.  And I have several of Sarah Shaber's Louise Pearlie historical mysteries too.  I also sat with Judy Penz Sheluk at the 'Malice Go Round' and I was anxious to hear about her books and writing.  Whew!  This was an interesting panel. 

Death for Dessert: Sweet Murder

Dorothy St. James - Moderator

I had picked this panel because of a couple of authors that I was already familiar with too.  Ellie Alexander, who writes the Bakeshop series, set in Oregon, also writes another series that I love.  It's also set in Oregon and involves Meg Reed, who writes about 'extreme' travel adventures, though she's not adventurous at all.  I had met Ellie/Kate in Phoenix and enjoyed catching up with her and telling her that I fully intended to visit 'Bakeshop' land.  JoAnna Carl, whose series has all these lovely chocolate titles, has been a favorite of mine for years and years.  I originally read her Oklahoma series, written under her Eve K. Sandstrom name.  I had a good time talking with her about it.  

Sherlock Lives!

Peter Blau - Moderator

This may have been the most interesting panel that I attended.  I picked it mostly because Vicki Delany would be a panelist and I wanted to hear about her new series, set in a Sherlock Holmes Bookshop.  The first book is Elementary She Read and the book room sellers had sold out of it by noon the first day.  I meant to buy it there and get Vicki to sign it, but had no luck.  I've met Vicki several times and enjoyed catching up with her too.  The rest of the members of this panel are serious Sherlockians - really serious.  Peter Blau, the moderator, is part of The Red Circle of Washington DC and he is 'Black Peter'.  Dana, Carla, and John Gregory are also serious Sherlock scholars.  Dana Cameron, an archaeologist by profession, writes the Emma Fielding series, which has just been picked up by the Hallmark Channel and will be a movie.  Emma will be played by Courtney Thorne-Smith.  Very exciting!  It was fascinating to listen to these panelists discuss Sherlock and company.  A fitting end to my panel experiences.  


Come back Friday when I'll show all the books that I acquired - so many that I had to ship them home.  Plus, the silent auction and the live auction as well.   

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

First Paragraph:

Lying next to the left-hand row of desks is Dennis; as usual he's wearing a graphic T, ill-fitting jeans, and untied tennis shoes.  Dennis is from Uganda.  He says he's seventeen, but he looks like a fat twenty-five-year-old.  He's a student in the trade school, and he lives in Sollentuna in a home for people like him.  Samir has ended up next to him, on his side.  Samir and I are in the same class because Samir managed to be accepted to our school's special program in international economics and social sciences.


Named the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year by the Swedish Crime Writers Academy

A mass shooting has taken place at a prep school in Stockholm’s wealthiest suburb. Eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg is charged for her involvement in the massacre that left her boyfriend and her best friend dead. She has spent nine months in jail awaiting trial. Now the time has come for her to enter the courtroom. How did Maja—popular, privileged, and a top student—become a cold-blooded killer in the eyes of the public? What did Maja do? Or is it what she failed to do that brought her here?

My Thoughts:

I listened to QUICKSAND on audio and Saskia Marleveid did a good job as the narrator. Translated form Swedish, this book won the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year.  I liked the last third more than the first part. Maja Norberg is on trial, accused of facilitating and inciting her boyfriend in a mass shooting. She is also accused of murdering her best friend and the boyfriend (who killed the other people) in the same school shooting. The story revolves between the courtroom and the past leading up to the shooting itself. The details of Maja's life and her friends were a little overlong, in my opinion. However, there were relevant emotional traumas to explain and also the reader is uncertain for quite some time regarding Maja's innocence or guilt. A tough subject, but a book that I ultimately liked more than I thought I would. I'll watch for other books by this author.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - Overview, Malice Go Round, and New Authors Breakfast...

Welcome to my first post about attending Malice Domestic, a fan convention that has been going for 29 years!  This convention, attended by fans, authors, dealers, agents, publishers, and anyone who loves 'traditional' mysteries, is always held in the Washington DC area.  At each convention, the Agatha Awards are presented, panels and interviews are held, there's a book room, a silent auction and a live auction (benefiting a charity) - so many things!  Hope you'll enjoy hearing about my adventures.

I was lucky enough to attend Left Coast Crime (another mystery convention) in Phoenix last year.  This year, I was privileged to go to Malice.  And I have lots to tell.  There were some similarities between the conventions - auctions, book rooms, panels, new author breakfast, awards banquet and also an event that allowed authors to 'speed date' attendees.  Pictures will be below my narrative.  Here's the registration area:

Registration Area with Martin Edwards and Shawn Reilly Simmons on left

The opening ceremonies were held late the first afternoon.  Here's a picture of Verena Rose, Malice Board of Directors Chairperson, in the best costume, taken right before the Opening Ceremonies!

Verena Rose, Malice Board Chair

Here's a shot of the Opening Ceremonies with Marcia Talley, the Toastmaster, welcoming everyone.

Marcia Talley, Toastmaster

The author speed dating was called 'Malice Go Round'.  It was held on the first morning and 42 authors rotated among tables to tell fans about their books.  I was better prepared at this event than at Left Coast Crime.  I had a pad and took down names and notes.  Of course, the authors gave us all kinds of 'swag' - bookmarks, postcards, candy, etc.  I'll only share two pictures.  This picture is of Alice Loweecey, an ex-nun who writes a series about an 'ex-nun who is a private eye'.  I got a chance to visit with Alice several times over the convention.  She always wore a 'hat' and was a lot of fun.  Judy Penz Sheluk was my only table companion for a bit and she appeared on a panel that I'll talk about tomorrow.  We also visited several times.

Alice Loweecey, who always wore a hat.  Judy Penz Sheluk to the right.

The last two authors that gave their pitch at our table were Gigi Pandian, who I met at Left Coast Crime, and who writes a treasure hunting series and also the Accidental Alchemist series, and Josh Pachter writes mostly short stories featuring Mahboob Chaudri, but has also done some other things as well.  I look forward to trying both authors' work.

Gigi Pandian and Josh Pachter

I'll also share a couple of pictures from the New Authors Breakfast.  At this event, attendees sit at a table 'hosted' by one of the new authors and then, as you eat pastries and sip coffee, these New Authors, 17 in all, are interviewed for a few minutes.  Here's a shot of my table, hosted by Radha Vatsal.  You can see her on the left side of the picture.  The gentleman is Art Taylor, who won the Agatha for 'Best Short Story' the evening before.  

New Authors' Breakfast - Art Taylor, Agatha Winner 2017

Here's a picture of Radha Vatsal being interviewed.  She was delightful to visit with.  Her historical mystery series is set in the early 20th century with Kitty Weeks, intrepid reporter, as a protagonist.  The first book is A Front Page Affair and the second has just come out, Murder Between the Lines.

Radha Vatsal being interviewed at New Authors' Breakfast

I'll stop here for today.  Come back Wednesday to hear about the Panels I attended - 7 of them - and how I offered to be a volunteer and maybe bit off more than I realized!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Mulburn Inn - a lovely B&B...

I also wanted to share with everyone a bit about the beautiful 'Bed & Breakfast' where we stayed for one night - The Mulburn Inn.  This lovely home was built in 1908 as a 'summer cottage' for a family that was connected with the Woolworth's.  We stayed in the Jefferson Room and it was large and very comfortable.  It's said that Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe stayed in this room.  Other well-known people who visited the Inn are Cary Grant and Barbara Hutton, the Rockefeller's, and Thomas Edison.

As we arrived, Mary, the current owner and innkeeper, took us on a tour of the house, telling us all about the history.  We found it quite interesting.  The next morning, she served us a most delicious breakfast and we chatted more with her.  There are 7 rooms in this B&B and each one of them is unique.  I've included some pictures below:

The Mulburn Inn

Porches wrap completely around the Inn

The main living room

Perfect little nook for reading

'Family room' with TV

Dining Room

Thomas Edison gave the Inn this early model of an electric stove

The Jefferson Room

Famous guests of the Inn and Jefferson Room

Beautiful stained glass window on the stair landing

If you ever get a chance to visit The Mulburn Inn, we can highly recommend it!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Marvelous Boston Public Library...

I know that not everyone considers a visit to a library as part of the highlights of their vacation, but I do.  If I can visit a local library, I always make time to do so.  I enjoy seeing how other parts of the country present their collections to their patrons, and I also like to stop and chat with the library staff when I can.  As I was looking at a Boston map to see what was near the hotel where my husband and I were staying, lo and behold, the Central Branch of the Boston Public Library.  Yahoo!

I spent most of a morning walking around that library and taking pictures of some of the beautiful sculptures, murals, and other architectural features that caught my eye.  There are two buildings, one filled with art and murals, the other much more modern (built in the 1970's and recently updated, according to the librarians I spoke with).  See what you think.  The library offers art and architecture tours frequently, but I just wandered around at will.

The first pictures are of the older section of the library, ending with a shot of the courtyard between the two buildings.

The following pictures are of the 'new' side of the BPL.  The second picture is a sculpture on the wall as you enter from the old building to the new.  It's made out of books!  I also was quite fond of the staircase with 'the plot thickens' on the stairs!

Yes, I think I could definitely spend a day or a week in this great library!  There's also several coffee shops and all kinds of other amenities for library patrons or passing visitors.