.

.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - A Shameful Murder



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 paragraph of A Shameful Murder by Cora Harrison.  Set in Ireland, this is the first book in the historical mystery series featuring Reverend Mother Aquinas.  The second book, A Shocking Assassination, was published last fall.  See what you think:



     It was Reverend Mother Aquinas who found the body of the dead girl.  It lay wedged within the gateway to the convent chapel at St. Mary's of the Isle, jettisoned by the flood waters.  For a fanciful moment she had almost imagined that it was a mermaid swept up from the sea.  The long silver gown gleamed beneath the gas lamp, wet as the skin of a salmon, and the streams of soaked curls were red-brown just like the crinkled carrageen seaweed she had gathered from the windswept beaches of Ballycotton when she was a child.  Her heart beating fast, the Reverend Mother unlocked the gate and looked down at the sightless blue eyes that stared up from beneath a wide high brow at the blanched, soaked flesh of the cheeks and knew that there was nothing that she could do for the girl.  She bent over, touched the stone-cold face and then with a hand that trembled slightly she signed the forehead with a small cross.  The Reverend Mother had seen death many times in her long life, but in the young she still found it was almost unbearable.


Blurb:

Cork, Ireland. 1923. When, one wet March morning, Reverend Mother Aquinas discovers a body at the gate of the convent chapel washed up after a flood ‘like a mermaid in gleaming silver satin’, she immediately sends for one of her former pupils, Police Sergeant Patrick Cashman, to investigate.

Dead bodies are not unusual in the poverty-stricken slums of Cork city, but this one is dressed in evening finery; in her handbag is a dance programme for the exclusive Merchant’s Ball held the previous evening – and a midnight ticket for the Liverpool ferry.

Against the backdrop of a country in the midst of Ireland’s Civil War, the Reverend Mother, together with Sergeant Cashman and Dr. Sher, an enlightened physician and friend, seek out the truth as to the identity of the victim – and her killer.

----------------------------------------------------------------

It is interesting to me, as a frequent mystery reader, how many series have a member of the clergy as a protagonist.  Take a look at the list here on Stop You're Killing Me (a great website for discovering mysteries and stuff about them).  This series appealed to me not only because of the protagonist, but also the setting of 1920's Ireland.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

kay's week - 2.25.17



Happy last Saturday of February!  Shall we talk about the weather again?  Ha!  Well, in my part of the world, we went above 90 on Thursday.  I was outside scheduling some winter cleanup of our flower beds and replacement of a few plants that were in terrible shape.  After I came inside, I decided that I should have put on some sunscreen.  I was a little pink on my nose and neck.  I realized that I didn't even think about getting burned.  I know that some of you have had a new round of snow, but maybe it will quickly melt.  OK, enough about the weather.


I've been reading...

I finished three books this week, all in print, well, mostly.  My audiobook time has been a little bit limited, but I'm closing in on the finish line of my current listen.

My first read was A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell and I think it's a debut novel.  It was an advance copy and will be published on March 21st.  Stephanie is a young widow and stay-at-home mother to kindergarten-age son, Miles.  She also has a 'mommy blog' that she writes to give herself an outlet for adult conversation.  Emily and her husband, Sean, are both executives in Manhattan and have a young son, Nicky.  Even though Emily works and Stephanie does not, the mothers have become close because their sons are best friends.  They share time together while the kids play and do favors for each other as they can.  One day, Emily asks Stephanie if she minds picking up Nicky at school.  Emily will return later in the evening for her son.  Only she doesn't.  Stephanie texts and calls and hears nothing.  Sean is on a business trip and so Stephanie eventually calls him for info and she also calls the police.  And then a body is found.  Seems like a simple story, but it's not.  Who is telling the truth?  This was another in the current trend of 'domestic thrillers'.  And it was pretty good.  Told from various points of view, I was fooled more than once.  I'll be watching for what this author comes up with next.

I next did a read/listen of Deadly Descent, the first book in the Lottie Albright mystery series by Charlotte Hinger.  Lottie Albright is a historian in Western Kansas.  She is fascinated by old stories, newspapers, diaries, any family treasures that speak to a way of life in the past.  She's head of the local Historical Society, but must answer to a board of directors and deal with small town issues.  Her twin sister, Josie, is a psychologist in Eastern Kansas and she thinks Lottie is wasting her time in a small town, married to a 'dirt farmer'.  There is a murder, of course, the sister of a prominent local woman.  It turns out that the victim is the aunt of Brian Hadley, who is running for the senate.  Lottie is his local campaign manager and the solution to the murder lies in old family secrets.  And then there is another murder.  Lottie is afraid that Brian's campaign will be ruined and calls on her sister to help her sleuthing.  OK, I liked the idea of this book more than the book itself.  I am interested in 'old stories' and historical tales that relate to present-day events.  I like 'cold case' mysteries.  My problem was that I didn't like Lottie very much - found her meddling, annoying, and she was constantly crying or sobbing.  I felt bad about my reaction as this is a book published by my favorite Poisoned Pen Press.  Sigh.  Guess you can't love them all.  I know that many enjoy this series, so it was just me.  That being said, I probably won't continue to read it.

I then picked up a book that was way outside of my usual wheelhouse - in some ways.  Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is also a debut book, one of a trilogy.  The second book, Waking Gods, will be published on April 4th.  This book was sort of sci-fi, sort of political thriller, sort of conspiracy book.  It was many things.  And it was told in interviews, diaries, documents - I love books told in 'interesting' ways.  Rose is 11 years old and is riding her new bicycle near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls into a giant pit.  Way below ground level, Rose waits until she is rescued by local firemen.  There is a turquoise light all around her and it's found that she is sitting in the palm of a giant hand - a metal hand.  Rose grows up to be a physicist and she works on a secret project - figuring out about the giant hand and also discovering if there are more body parts for what some surmise might be a giant metal creature.  Now, if this reminds you of Optimus Prime or superheroes or Star Wars - well, yes, to all of them.  I don't think I'll say much more, but I was captivated.  There are other characters that the reader bonds with, some that are nameless.  I'm very excited to read the second part of the story.  I think this would and probably will make a great movie.  Sign me up!  This would probably be really good on audio and it might be the next one I select when my husband and I travel somewhere together.  I think he'd like it too.


Personally...

I had a dental appointment this week - just a cleaning - however, I'll have to return in a couple of weeks for a filling on a tooth that has a crack.  This tooth already has a filling and I'm not terribly optimistic that it won't turn out to need a crown.  We shall see.

As I said, it's time to get the yard in shape and trimmed before all the plants start into serious spring growth.  I heard on the news this week that Texas is having an early blooming of our wildflowers due to a very mild winter and some good rains.  I know I've seen the redbud trees in bloom.  I tried to look for some bluebonnets to photograph, but I haven't seen any yet.  We are right on the cusp of spring though.  Since we've had temps in the 80's and over 90, our air conditioning is back on and it's unlikely it will be turned off until late in the year.  Such is life in Central Texas.  But the warmer weather means that the snakes will be out, the bugs will be coming, and I'm really hoping that the annoying bird does not build a nest on my front porch light again this year.  My husband thinks he's solved the problem there.  We'll see.

Since I couldn't find any wildflowers this week, I'll leave you with some of the pictures I took a couple of years ago at the Wildseed Farm in the Texas Hill Country.  Love these fields of flowers!  Have a good week!








   

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Nothing Stays Buried



Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this event, I am continuing to post one soon to be released title each Wednesday that I can't wait to read.

P. J. Tracy (Patricia and Traci Lambrecht) is a mother/daughter writing team that authors the Monkeewrench mystery series.  It's a series that I've loved over the years.  Sadly, Patricia passed away this last December, but Traci will be continuing the series on her own.  This week, I'm waiting for the 8th book in the series:




Publication Date:  August 1st

When Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are called to a crime scene in a heavily wooded city park, everything about the setting is all too familiar. And when they discover a playing card on the victim's body, their worst fears are confirmed—there’s a serial killer operating in the city for the first time in years.

Across town, Grace MacBride and her unconventional partners at Monkeewrench Software find themselves at both personal and career crossroads. Weary of the darker side of their computer work for law enforcement, they agree to take on a private missing-persons case in a small farming community in southwestern Minnesota.

As the violence accelerates in Minneapolis, Magozzi and Gino soon realize their killer is planning to complete the deck, and they enlist Monkeewrench to help stop the rampage. As a baffling tangle of evidence accumulates, the cops and Monkeewrench make the unlikely connections among a farmer’s missing daughter, a serial killer, and a decades-old stabbing that brings them face-to-face with pure evil.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Missing, Presumed



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 Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner.  This was my July selection from Book of the Month last year and I'm just getting around to reading it or considering reading it.  The first book in a series featuring Manon Bradshaw, member of the Cambridgeshire Police Force.  Based upon the first few paragraphs, I'm sold.  See what you think:



     She can feel hope ebbing, like the Christmas lights on fade in Pound Saver.  Manon tells herself to focus on the man sitting opposite, whose name might be Brian but could equally be Keith, who is crossing his legs and his foot bangs her shin just where the bone is nearest the surface.  She reaches down to rub it but he's oblivious.
     'Sensitive,' his profile had said, along with an interest in military aircraft.  She wonders now what on earth she was thinking when she arranged it, but then compatibility seemed no marker for anything.  The last date with a town planner scored 78 percent--she'd harbored such hopes; he even liked Thomas Hardy--yet Manon spent the evening flinching each time his spittle landed on her face, which was remarkably often.
     Two years of Internet dating.  It's fair to say they haven't flown by.


Blurb:

At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows that this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family but for Manon herself.

--------------------------------------------------------

Have you read this one?  It's been out for a bit, so some probably have.  You know, it's passages such as the one above that make me so delighted that I never had the 'opportunity' to do Internet dating.  I suppose for some it works out well, but I've heard some pretty awful tales.  And yes, this is indeed a police procedural, so there will be a body and a crime.  The 2nd book in the series, Persons Unknown, will be published here in the US on July 4th.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

kay's week - 2.18.17



Hello everyone!  Hope you've all had a 'good enough' week and will have a relaxing couple of days this weekend.  Bet it might be a 3-day weekend for some with President's Day on Monday.  We got some rain this week - thunder woke me up one night, and finally, finally there is other pollen in the allergy report besides cedar pollen.  Sorry for the ash and oak pollen sufferers.  However, that means that my trials are coming to an end with allergies, until the fall anyway.


I've been reading...

I read three books this week - two were advance copies of books that have yet to be published, both on my Kindle - and one was an audio - a reread of a series that I intend to make my way through this year.

The Trophy Child is the newest book by Paula Daly and it will soon be published - March 7th, I believe.  I've read and enjoyed a couple of other books by this author - Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? and Keep Your Friends Close.  I liked The Trophy Child and recognized a couple of repeating characters from other books.  One was a police sergeant named Joanne and another was Joanne's aunt, Jacky.  There is also a character that is the kind of person everyone loves to hate - a 'tiger mother' named Karen.  There is a blended family and kids that are left out or left alone mostly, but also a kid that is the 'trophy' child.  Karen is determined that her younger child be given every advantage, every lesson, every skill, every thing and this all works until Bronte, the child, disappears.  And then things get strange.  Lots of drama and even a murder.  If you read it, let me know what you think.

The next book I read is by Hallie Ephron and entitled You'll Never Know, Dear.  What do you think about that cover?  Creepy doll, huh?  This book will not be published until early June, but I couldn't wait to read it.  Hallie Ephron (and yes, she is the sister of Nora Ephron) writes standalone mysteries that contain a lot of suspense and thrills.  The setting is South Carolina, which gives a gothic feel to the book.  In it, two little girls, sisters, are playing outside and the older one, Lissie, runs off after a puppy.  The younger sister, Janey, is gone when Lis returns, along with her handmade doll.  The girls' mother, Miss Sorrel, had made both girls a doll, unique to them.  No trace is ever found of Janey for over 30 years.  In the present day, Miss Sorrel advertises for information about Janey's doll, something she has done for many years on the anniversary of Janey's disappearance.  This year, a young woman brings a doll to show them, thinking it might be the advertised missing doll.  As the story unfolds, old secrets are revealed and everyone's lives are in danger.  What did happen to Janey so long ago?  If you like gothic stories, this is a good one.  Enjoyed it thoroughly and will be reading more of this author's books.

The only audio book that I got through this week was In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  This is a reread for me and it's the first book in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series.  It was narrated by Suzanne Toren.  The only thing that bugged me a bit about it was the 'Southern' accent that the narrator used for Clare.  Sigh.  I didn't like that too much.  This series, which now has 8 books, is set in upstate New York.  Clare is an Episcopal priest and Russ is the chief of the Miller's Kill Police.  In the Bleak Midwinter begins with Clare discovering an abandoned baby on the steps of her church.  She and Russ try to find the child's parents, which is a difficult task.  The weather is cold and there is more than one murder.  Clare has not been a priest for very long and she's still finding her way in this new town.  The characters are believable and the setting is very vivid and cold, cold, cold.  I'm planning on reading this whole series this year, hoping that Julia Spencer-Fleming will have a new book for us before long.


Personally...

I missed a book group meeting on Tuesday afternoon, but I hadn't read the book anyway.  I did do my volunteer shift at the library yesterday.  And below, you can see what I received for Valentine's Day.  I love Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream and don't buy it very often these days.  It just hit the spot. Hubby got his own pint of some vanilla caramel thing.

I got a haircut on Thursday, from a different hair stylist that usual.  My normal hair stylist is being treated for breast cancer and had a mastectomy a couple of weeks ago.  She's doing well, but I did miss her.  The fill-in stylist was very nice, but after she cut my hair (which is very short), she kind of combed it all forward and I felt like I kind of looked like George Clooney in his earlier ER days.  Needless to say, I came home and washed my hair again and put it back the way I like it.  Ha!  My stylist is supposed to be back at work next month.  I hope so, though I do hope she takes her time with her recovery.

Have a good week, all.  Just say to yourself - SPRING IS COMING!  It is, you know.  Now to see if there is any of that Ben & Jerry's left...

    

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Down a Dark Road



Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this event, I am continuing to post one soon to be released title each Wednesday that I can't wait to read.

Another favorite ongoing mystery series that I love is written by Linda Castillo.  The main protagonist is Chief of Police Kate Burkholder from Painter's Mill, Ohio, deep in Amish country. This is a unique and interesting series.  I'm excitedly waiting on the 9th book:




Publication Date:  July 11th

Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a "fallen" Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - Buttercream Bump Off



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 Buttercream Bump Off by Jenn McKinlay.  In honor of Valentine's Day, please note the lovely cover of this book, the 2nd in McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery mystery series.  I defy you not to wish for a luscious cupcake after looking at the covers on the books in this series.  Yum!  Oh, and don't forget to scroll down.  I've included a few 'real' pictures of cupcakes made by my daughter, who is a master cupcake baker, though she's never had to deal with murder.  See what you think about this one:



     'You need to get to the corner of Fifth Avenue and Scottsdale Road.  Now.'
     'Angie?' Melanie Cooper barely recognized her business partner's voice through her sleep-induced haze.  'What's going on?'
     'Fifth and Scottsdale,' Angie DeLaura repeated.  The phone went dead.
     Mel glanced at the cell phone in her hand then at her alarm clock, which read 6:57.  A phone call this early in the morning had better mean Angie's car had been stolen or was on fire.
     She heaved off her comforter and rolled out of bed.  Mel didn't like mornings on the best of days, but in January, even in Scottsdale, Arizona, it surely was a crime to be dragged out of bed before the sun, especially without a cup of coffee to chase away the morning chill.  Still, Angie had been her best friend for more than twenty years.  She wouldn't have called if it wasn't important.
     That thought got Mel moving.  She grabbed a thick-hooded sweatshirt and tugged it on over her flannel pajamas.  She could feel the static raise her short blonde hair up, and she imagined she looked like a troll doll on a bad-hair day, without the cute belly button.  She jammed her feet into her slip-on sneakers and grabbed her keys.


Blurb:

Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura's Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery is gearing up for Valentine's Day with a couples cooking class.

Meanwhile Mel's mother has her first date in forever. Unfortunately someone ices Baxter Malloy on their first date.

Now Mom's a suspect, and Mel and Angie need to find time around frosting to dig into the man's shady past and discover who served him his just desserts.


---------------------------------------------------------

Happy Valentine's Day!  I read this book several years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly.  It includes humor, murder, family drama, cupcakes and recipes.  What recipes you might ask?  Well, how about 'Kiss Me Cupcakes' (mint chocolate chip), 'Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes', 'Cupid's Bliss Cupcakes' (white chocolate and raspberries), plus frostings to match each.  And to tempt you, here's some of my daughter's creations.  Sorry I can't send them to everyone!  I bet there's a cupcake bakery in your area.  What are you waiting for?


Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream
 Frosting and Fondant Flower


Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes


Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cupcake


Butter Pecan Praline Cupcakes




Saturday, February 11, 2017

kay's week - 2.11.17



Happy second Saturday of February!  Hope you are all staying warm and staying well!  Winter kind of seems to have skipped us here in Central Texas.  We had record highs this week - upper 80's.  February is a little early for that, in my opinion.  And half of the people I know are currently sick, have just been sick, or are feeling like they might be sick soon.  Flu has run rampant everywhere.  I volunteered at the library yesterday and they had more than one staff member out with illness.  Plus, every person that was looking for materials in the library seemed to be coughing or blowing their noses.  'Tis the season indeed.


I've been reading...

I finished three books this week and abandoned one completely.  More about that later.  Two were in print, one was on audio, and the DNF - also audio.

Brooklyn Bones by Triss Stein turned out to be an interesting read.  It's the first in the Erica Donato series that currently has three books - a 4th will come out in August of this year.  Erica, the protagonist, is the mother of a teenage girl, a native of Brooklyn, a widow, an urban historian working on her Ph.D., an intern at a museum, and a reluctant mystery solver.  In other words, she's busy.  While having her house renovated, a skeleton of a young woman is discovered behind the walls.  Erica's daughter, Chris, is helping the contractor with the renovation and is actually the one who makes the discovery.  Chaos ensues.  And bad people keep showing up to threaten Erica, who has no idea what is going on.  There was humor and some interesting New York lore.  I liked it a lot.  I'll be continuing with the next book in the series, Brooklyn Graves, soon.

Meanwhile, I listened to Sarah Pinborough's new thriller, Behind Her Eyes.  Bet you've heard something about this one, right?  It was narrated by several people, Anna Bintinck, Josie Dunn, Bea Holland, and Huw Parmenter.  I'm not going to say much about the storyline other than that it's gripping.  Truly gripping.  Told from several viewpoints, Louise, David, and Adele, the reader/listener thinks they have figured things out (or not) and then...no.  I have a feeling this is going to be a book that people either like/love or hate.  A lot has been mentioned about the ending.  Hmmm....I will say that I had my suspicions or something regarding it had crossed my mind, but I was surprised to be mostly correct.  I'll be curious to hear what others think.  Did I like it?  Well enough to think about reading other books by the author.  The audio was well done.  

My next book in print was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.  This is my first book by this author and I had read several reviews about it from other bloggers in recent months.  The one that tipped me over the edge was Susan's (Bloggin' 'bout Books).  Susan and I have similar tastes in a lot of books and our reactions are often close to the same.  So, I dove in.  I guess this could be regarded as a thriller, but it seemed very much on the sci fi side to me.  Jason Dessen is a physics professor with a family that he loves, wife and teenage son.  He's abducted, asked if he's happy by a man in a mask, injected with something, and then he wakes up to find that he isn't married, his son doesn't exist, and he's a genius inventor.  What????  Well, there's a lot more that happens.  And I was just along for the ride.  Had no idea what would come next.  Will I read more books by Blake Crouch?  Um...yes!  Did anyone read this author's Wayward Pines trilogy or see the TV adaptation?  I have not, as yet.

Now to the book I abandoned.  And if you read or listen to this book, you might really like it.  I absolutely did not.  It's The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney.  I used an Audible credit for this one and got over halfway through it.  It was narrated by several (and well done): Emilia Fox, Finty Williams, and Lisa Aagaard Knudsen.  Again, I think it's going to be a book that is liked or loathed.  The story of an architect, a property, One Folgate Place, and two women who live in the house - one before and one after.  The owner has an extensive list of questions for any tenant and many, many, many rules.  Emma is the before tenant and Jane lives there after.  Emma is dead.  Jane is curious.  OK, there is a character that is hugely controlling and quite, quite odd.  I got to the point where I could not listen to any more about that character.  It also started verging into a 50 shades kind of thing.  You guys know that I can handle a lot, but sometimes, I just say 'NO'.  So, I stopped listening and actually returned it to Audible for a refund of my credit.  And I'm glad.  If you read this, I'll be curious as to what you think.  Ron Howard is going to make this into a movie.  Little Opie.  Ha!


Library Friends Meeting...

I attended my first 'Friends of the Library' meeting on Monday.  Filled out my paperwork, greeted several that attend the book group for that library and settled in to see what this 'Friends' group was about.  It was fun.  This group runs a 'twice-a-year' book sale that I've attended.  It a good one and they sell a lot of books.  I asked a few questions at the meeting and we'll see how they feel I can help out in the future.  They are just beginning to sell some collectible books online and I shared that I've a bit of experience with that.  I told them I also have accounting skills.  I look forward to becoming a part of the 'Friends' and raising funds for a local library.


Personally...

A nice week.  We're going to dinner tonight with our daughter and son-in-law.  We try to do that every few weeks to catch up with them and their lives.  They picked the restaurant this time and the daughter made the reservations.  Ajo is a 'New American' food restaurant with lots of healthy farm-to-table selections.  Maybe a little more brussels sprouts and kale than I would prefer (I know they are healthy, but I'm not a big fan!).  I'll find something good to eat though.  If I'm 'over the moon' about my dinner, I'll share about it next week.

It's squirrel and skunk season here in Central Texas.  Critters everywhere.  I snapped a shot of this little guy the other day, climbing on a tree by our garage.  I will not get this close to a skunk to take a picture.  They are around though - we can smell them.  Take care and have a good week!



    

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Let The Dead Speak



Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this event, I am continuing to post one soon to be released title each Wednesday that I can't wait to read.  (I'll just say this once - I totally copied this paragraph from Tina's blog at Tina says... - also, if you don't know Tina and her blog, you should!).

As some of you may remember, I love Jane Casey's mystery series featuring DC Maeve Kerrigan.  Love it.  I was so excited to see that a new book in this series will be published here in the US this summer.  It will come out in the UK earlier (like March 9th).  I may have to cheat and order it from 'across the way'.




Publication Date:  July 25th
 
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic fa├žade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala



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 Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio.  This is the 3rd book in her 'Book Club Mystery' series (yes, the 3rd book - can you see how well I am doing on my 'getting out of the comfort zone of compulsion to read series in order').  Ha!  I have also been trying to read a few books that aren't classified as 'thriller' and the premise of this one - Gothic Gala - and a 'Book Club Mystery' did it for me.  See what you think:



     Normally, when I'm surrounded by books, I'm in a state of bliss.  Today, I could feel a headache coming on.  That wasn't the books' fault; no, it was a by-product of dealing with the people who wrote them.  I'd never had much contact with writers.  Barring the one signing I went to some years ago in Boulder, where the author entertained the small audience with humorous stories about writing his police procedurals and life in Wyoming, I didn't think I'd ever met a writer.  I'd blithely assumed they'd all be something like the Boulder author--affable, entertaining, happy to interact with fans.  First wrong assumption...
     I'd discovered the hard way that attending an author signing bore no resemblance to organizing a multiple-author event.  When Gemma Frant, owner of Heaven's only bookstore, Book Bliss, had hired me to put together a 'Celebration of Gothic Novels' to coincide with the September birthdays of her favorite twentieth-century gothic authors, I'd jumped at the chance.  What could be more fun than organizing an event focused on books?  After all, I'd grown up in a house with more books than dust mites, with a mother who was a librarian.  I had read voraciously since sounding out my first Dr. Seuss book, and would just as soon have gotten on a plane or gone to a doctor's waiting room naked as without a book.  Five years ago, I'd started the Readaholics, the book club currently reading du Maurier's REBECCA in honor of this event.  It's one of the most widely read gothic novels of all time, after all.  So, I'd figured any event that revolved around books had to be fun, right?  Second off base assumption...


Blurb:

Reading the gothic classic Rebecca already has the Readaholics spooked, and the chills only get worse when someone in town actually gives up the ghost....

Amy-Faye Johnson has her hands full coordinating the Celebration of Gothic Novels in Heaven, Colorado. The festivities start off smoothly, but the weekend is soon cursed with large egos, old resentments, and uninvited guests. Matters become truly grave when a dead body is found at the gothic-themed costume party.

The out-of-town authors claim not to know the victim, but Amy-Faye has doubts. With skeletons turning up in all of the suspects’ closets, Amy-Faye and the Readaholics must tap into their knowledge of gothic literature to find a killer who lurks in the shadows...

------------------------------------------------------

I was attracted to this book not only because of the book club angle.  Our mystery group read and discussed Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca a couple of years ago at our October meeting.  I always try to make our October selection a book that would fit the 'Gothic' category.  We had a good discussion, though there were no bodies.  Also, the author that is referred to in the intro  - the Wyoming one - could definitely be Craig Johnson - author of the Walt Longmire series.  It could probably be others as well, but I've heard such good things about Craig's author events.  I'm looking forward to reading this one and the two books that precede it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

kay's week - 2.4.17



Happy Saturday everyone!  Has your week been a good one?  Groundhog Day was Thursday.  What did you think about Punxsutawney Phil's forecast of '6 more weeks of winter'?  Yes, that's right - he saw his shadow and so winter will continue for 6 weeks.  Or so goes the theory.  We haven't really had a lot of winter here in Central Texas, but we have had lots of cedar pollen and mold (hence, allergies) and flu.  All of that can move right on along as far as I'm concerned.


I've been reading...

I read 4 books this week - again a mix of audio, print, read/listen.  I managed 15 books during January and I think my 'put your head down and focus on reading rather than social media' is working.  Ha!

I read The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent in print.  I had ordered it from the UK and think it will be available here next month - different cover, of course.  This was the first book I've read by this author, though I do have another one on the shelf.  It's about a woman, Fran, who lives with her husband and children in an old farmhouse in the English countryside.  The baby wakes and cries and she finds her husband gone from the bed.  She ends up finding him dead in a ditch on their property and so begins a twisty-turny story of her, him, the police, their pasts, their current acquaintences, and this creeeeepy house.  I got very annoyed with Fran, but I had to know what all was going on and so I persevered.  Part of the ending had me sitting with my mouth hanging open.  So there.  I was mega-surprised at one revelation.  I'll read the other book I have by the author, but I was so-so with this one.

I listened to The River At Night by Erica Ferencik, narrated by Joy Osmanski.  New narrator to me and she was good with this adventure tale.  Wini and three of her friends have taken a 'girls' vacation each year for a long time.  They've done various things, but this year they are going to Maine on a whitewater rafting trip.  This is so far outside Wini's comfort zone, she's a nervous wreck just contemplating it.  She goes along though and they begin their trip with the young man guide who accompanies them.  Horrible accident ensues and the women are basically stranded in the wilderness with no help, no provisions, no hope.  This was a pretty intense story and though it was a bit over the top, I found myself wondering what I would do in the same situation.  Of course, I wouldn't be in the situation because I would never, ever go on trip like that.  Reminded me of the movie that starred Meryl Streep, The River Wild - with a little bit of Deliverance thrown in.  If you get my drift.  I was caught up in the drama and enjoyed this one.

My next book was Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves.  This is the 4th Vera Stanhope mystery, but the first I have read.  I received the book and had it signed by the author at last spring's mystery conference.  I really, really enjoyed this book.  And have since acquired the 3 previous books.  I also want to watch the TV adaptation, Vera, but will wait on that for a bit.  I liked reading how Vera and her team solved the murder of a social worker that Vera herself discovers in the health club sauna.  There were lots of characters and it was plausible for many of them to be involved and several could have wished the woman dead.  Other than the constant harping on Vera's weight (must be part of her character story) and ugly clothes and weird cottage, this police inspector seemed well qualified and canny.  There was also quite a bit of humor tucked here and there - snarky humor.  I give this a thumbs-up and Ann Cleeves' books will become ones that I look forward to.

The last book I finished this week, Unreasonable Doubt, was a print/audio combination, narrated by Carrington MacDuffie.  This book is the 8th in Vicki Delany's series featuring Constable Molly Smith of the Trafalgar, British Columbia, Police Department.  I love this series and have read each and every book - and I'm now caught up again.  In Unreasonable Doubt, Walter Desmond, incarcerated for 25 years for a crime the courts now say he is innocent of, returns to Trafalgar to find out who really killed Sophia D'Angelo.  The police are not at all happy to see Walter, even though they know he's been exonerated.  The town has many residents that remember the crime and they don't believe the court.  Walter makes things tough for Molly, Sergeant John Winters, and the Chief Constable.  And then another woman is attacked (John Winters' wife, Eliza) and another.  Trafalgar is full of tourists and dragon boat races and upset people.  Things are about to get really complicated.  I loved this book.  Enjoyed it thoroughly.  Vicki Delany has branched out into cozies now, but I hope she'll still return to British Columbia to catch us up with the great characters in Trafalgar.


Mystery Book Group meeting...

We had our monthly mystery book group meeting on Wednesday evening and enjoyed time together discussing John Hart's Redemption Road.  This was the first book of his that I've read and I talked about it a bit in my weekly report last Saturday.  The group as a whole was positive about it, but the story was a little grim for some.  Several tore through it quickly, not being able to put it down (and it's a chunkster).  Several others had to put it down from time to time as they absorbed the horrible crimes that were part of the tale.  Horrible crimes and evil and sacrifice and goodness and caring for others.  We watched a short video of the author being interviewed and he said that his inspiration for writing came from authors like Pat Conroy.  I felt that the reader could see that influence in the beauty of the language and how the story was told.  John Hart - a real Southern writer - able to tell a horrific story in a strangely beautiful way.


Personally...

I had a bit of a busy week - two lunches out with friends that I enjoyed very much.  Volunteering at the library twice - book group meeting and shelving books on Friday.  I finished our taxes and got my house cleaned up.  We're going to our usual small group Bible study on Sunday evening, even though it is Super Bowl time.  We don't really have a 'dog in this hunt' since Dallas was beaten.  If you're rooting for the Falcons - good luck.  I'm not a big fan at all of the Patriots, so small luck to them.  Ha!  I'll leave you with a picture I took last year in New Mexico - you can just see a rainbow between the trees.  Rainbows are hopeful, yes?  Take care everyone!  




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - The Red Hunter



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.

I love Lisa Unger's books, especially the ones set in upstate New York in The Hollows.  I'm not sure this one, a standalone, is set in that location, but the autumn red leaves on the cover make me wonder.  This week, I'm waiting on:




Publication Date:  April 25th

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.