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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - Think Twice

 


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event where I feature an upcoming book that I am extra excited about.  I used to do this in the past and am making it a priority to do again.  Seriously, who among us doesn't have a book or two or twenty that we are excited about reading?  Plus, it lets us 'spread the word' about authors and series that we personally enjoy. 

The book I'm featuring this week is another series book that has been a long time in coming.  It's kind of interesting that several books that are grabbing my attention are ones where authors are adding to mystery series after a long gap.  I have truly missed a bunch of the characters that populate these featured books.  You're probably thinking - well, Kay, what's the book?  Ha!  OK, I'll tell you.  It's the 12th book in Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series and it's called Think Twice.  The last Myron book was written by Coben in 2016.  So, an eight-year gap.  Whew!  Myron is a sports agent that also is a retired pro basketball player.  And he tends to get into the middle of murder situations.  I have read most of this series and am delighted to see Myron and his friend, Win, sleuthing again.  By the way, the first book in the series was Deal Breaker and it came out in 1995.  



Think Twice

by Harlan Coben

Publication Date:  May 14th

A man presumed dead is suddenly wanted for murder in this thriller of secrets, lies, and dangerous conspiracies that threaten to cover up the truth.

 Three years ago, sports agent Myron Bolitar gave a eulogy at the funeral of his client, renowned basketball coach Greg Downing. Myron and Greg had history: initially as deeply personal rivals, and later as unexpected business associates. Myron made peace and moved on – until now, when twofederal agents walked into his office, demanding to know where Greg Downing is.

According to the agents, Greg is still alive—and has been placed at the scene of a double homicide, making him their main suspect. Shocked, Myron needs answers.

Myron and Win, longtime friends and colleagues, set out to find the truth, but the more they discover about Greg, the more dangerous their world becomes. Secrets, lies, and a murderous conspiracy that stretches back into the past churn at the heart of Harlan Coben's blistering new novel.

Friday, March 29, 2024

The Unquiet Bones by Loreth Anne White

The Unquiet Bones by Loreth Anne White

First Paragraph(s):

A steady rain falls as Benjamin and Raphael Duvalier work their excavator alongside a dark lake on the misted flanks of Hemlock Mountain.  The brothers are digging up the concrete foundation of an old and tiny wooden A-frame chapel.  The chapel is located at the Hemlock Ski Resort area base and is being moved higher into the alpine to make way for an expansion.  It's barely dawn, and the temperature hovers around freezing.  Behind them the forest creeps down the mountain and wraiths of mist finger between the trees.  Empty lift chairs hang motionless on cables that disappear into the low clouds.  

My Thoughts:

The Unquiet Bones is the first book I've read by Loreth Anne White.  I have been aware of her books, but just never sampled one.  I got a nudge to try this one from the review that Lesa Holstine published on her blog here.  By the way, if you've not checked out Lesa's blog, Lesa's Book Critiques, I highly recommend it.  She's a now-retired librarian and she write a bunch of reviews for various places, including Library Journal.

This is the story of the discovery of bones buried beneath a structure in the woods and they have been there for a long time.  The investigator, Jane Munro, is at a complicated place in life.  She's recently been assigned to a cold case squad because of difficulties personally.  What was supposed to be a more 'quiet' job very quickly ramps up because of this case.  Two missing teens from long ago, families that have never had answers, and a group of friends that were also teens at the time and who are now well-known older adults complicate the investigation.  The author tells things from various points of view and I followed along guessing all the way.  Was I correct in my guesses?  Partly, but not completely.  I did enjoy this one and will plan to try others by this author.  Have you read any of her books?   

Blurb:

When human bones are found beneath an old chapel in the woods, evidence suggests the remains could be linked to the decades-old case of missing teen Annalise Jansen.

Homicide detective Jane Munro—pregnant and acutely attuned to the preciousness of life—hopes the grim discovery will finally bring closure to the girl’s family. But for a group of Annalise’s old friends, once dubbed the Shoreview Six by the media, it threatens to expose a terrible pledge made on an autumn night forty-seven years ago.

The friends are now highly respected, affluent members of their communities, and none of them ever expected the dark chapter in their past to resurface. But as Jane and forensic anthropologist Dr. Ella Quinn peel back the layers of secrets, the group begins to fracture. Will one cave? Will they turn on each other?

The investigation takes a sharp turn when Jane discovers a second body—that of the boy long blamed for Annalise’s disappearance. As the bones tell their story, the group learns just how far each will go to guard their own truth.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - The Black Loch

 


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event where I feature an upcoming book that I am extra excited about.  I used to do this in the past and am making it a priority to do again.  Seriously, who among us doesn't have a book or two or twenty that we are excited about reading?  Plus, it lets us 'spread the word' about authors and series that we personally enjoy. 

The book I'm featuring this week is one that I am mega excited about.  It is the 4th book in a trilogy - yes, I said trilogy and 4th book - that I read several years ago and loved.  In fact, I've read the first three books more than once.  I was so surprised to find that Peter May, author of The Lewis Trilogy, is returning to the Isle of Lewis and to Fin Macleod.  Starting with The Blackhouse and continuing with The Lewis Man and then The Chessmen, we have visited the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and learned about Fin, a Detective Inspector, who grew up on the island.  I have shared my thoughts about each of the books on this blog.  Have you read any of this trilogy?  Do you enjoy mystery fiction set in wild and amazing places?  The new book will be published in September and so there is time to play 'catch-up'.  I can't wait because it has been 12 years since the last book was published.  I'm ready to return again...  





Publication Date:  September 12th  

THE RETURN OF FIN MACLEOD, PETER MAY'S MUCH-LOVED HERO OF THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING LEWIS TRILOGY.

A MURDER

The body of eighteen-year-old TV personality Caitlin is found abandoned on a remote beach at the head of An Loch Dubh - the Black Loch - on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis. A swimmer and canoeist, it is inconceivable that she could have drowned.

A SECRET

Fin Macleod left the island ten years earlier to escape its memories. When he learns that his married son Fionnlagh had been having a clandestine affair with the dead girl and is suspected of her murder, he and Marsaili return to try and clear his name.

A RECKONING

But nothing is as it seems, and the truth of the murder lies in a past that Fin would rather forget, and a tragedy at the cages of a salmon farm on East Loch Roag, where the tense climax of the story finds its resolution.

The Black Loch takes us on a journey through family ties, hidden relationships and unforgiving landscapes, where suspense, violent revenge and revelation converge in the shadow of the Black Loch.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - A Ruse Of Shadows

 


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event where I feature an upcoming book that I am extra excited about.  I used to do this in the past and am making it a priority to do again.  Seriously, who among us doesn't have a book or two or twenty that we are excited about reading?  Plus, it lets us 'spread the word' about authors and series that we personally enjoy.  

For this week's highlight, I was bit torn.  I have several I want to feature, but I'll get to all of them as the weeks pass.  Anyway, Sherry Thomas writes a series that is a favorite of mine - the Lady Sherlock books.  I have enjoyed all of these and this week's book is the 8th.  And, yes, I am currently caught up on the previous books and majorly looking forward to how the story of Charlotte Holmes (aka Lady Sherlock) and the other characters plays out.  Have you read any of these books?  You could try them before June.  The first book is A Study In Scarlet Women

 


A Ruse Of Shadows

by Sherry Thomas

Publication Date:  June 25th

Charlotte Holmes is accustomed to solving crimes, not being accused of them, but she finds herself in a dreadfully precarious position as the bestselling Lady Sherlock series continues.

Charlotte’s success on the RMS Provence has afforded her a certain measure of time and assurance. Taking advantage of that, she has been busy, plotting to prise the man her sister loves from Moriarty’s iron grip.

Disruption, however, comes from an unexpected quarter. Lord Bancroft Ashburton, disgraced and imprisoned as a result of Charlotte’s prior investigations, nevertheless manages to press Charlotte into service: Underwood, his most loyal henchman, is missing and Lord Bancroft wants Charlotte to find Underwood, dead or alive.

But then Lord Bancroft himself turns up dead and Charlotte, more than anyone else, meets the trifecta criteria of motive, means, and opportunity. Never mind rescuing anyone else, with the law breathing down her neck, can Charlotte save herself from prosecution for murder?

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - The Museum Of Lost Quilts

 


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event where I feature an upcoming book that I am extra excited about.  I used to do this in the past and am making it a priority to do again.  Seriously, who among us doesn't have a book or two or twenty that we are excited about reading?  Plus, it lets us 'spread the word' about authors and series that we personally enjoy.  

This week's highlight is by an author that has been writing for a long time.  Jennifer Chiaverini started her 'Elm Creek Quilt' series back in 1999 and her latest book in the series, featured here, is the 22nd.  I've read all the previous books, but it has been 5 years since the previous book was published and the one before that one was 7 years before that.  She's been writing standalone historical fiction novels that are about women and those have been very successful.  I loved the whole 'Elm Creek' series and so I'm delighted to see a new entry.  Will it be the last?  Perhaps, but a visit with the 'Elm Creek' gang will be so welcome.  Have you read any books by this author? 



The Museum of Lost Quilts

by Jennifer Chiaverini

Publication Date:  April 30th

Jennifer Chiaverini’s beloved and bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series returns with the first Elm Creek Quilts novel since 2019’s The Christmas Boutique.

Summer Sullivan, the youngest founding member of Elm Creek Quilts, has spent the last two years pursuing a master’s degree in history at the University of Chicago. Her unexpected return home to the celebrated quilter’s retreat is met with delight but also concern from her mother, Gwen; her best friend, Sarah; master quilter Sylvia; and her other colleagues—and rightly so. Stymied by writer’s block, Summer hasn’t finished her thesis, and she can’t graduate until she does.

Elm Creek Manor offers respite while Summer struggles to meet her extended deadline. She finds welcome distraction in organizing an exhibit of antique quilts as a fundraiser to renovate Union Hall, the 1863 Greek Revival headquarters of the Waterford Historical Society. But Summer’s research uncovers startling facts about Waterford’s past, prompting unsettling questions about racism, economic injustice, and political corruption within their community, past and present.

As Summer’s work progresses, quilt lovers and history buffs praise the growing collection, but affronted local leaders demand that she remove all references to Waterford’s troubled history. As controversy threatens the exhibit’s success, Summer fears that her pursuit of the truth might cost the Waterford Historical Society their last chance to save Union Hall. Her only hope is to rally the quilting community to her cause.

The Museum of Lost Quilts is a warm and deeply moving story about the power of collective memory. With every fascinating quilt she studies, Summer finds her passion for history renewed—and discovers a promising new future for herself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - The Briar Club

 


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event where I feature an upcoming book that I am extra excited about.  I used to do this in the past and am making it a priority to do again.  Seriously, who among us doesn't have a book or two or twenty that we are excited about reading?  Plus, it lets us 'spread the word' about authors and series that we personally enjoy.  

This week's highlight is by an author who has written some books that I really have liked - Kate Quinn.  She writes historical fiction and her latest books are standalones.  Let me know if this one sounds as good to you as it does to me.  This week I'm waiting on:



by Kate Quinn

Publication Date:  July 9th

The New York Times bestselling author of The Diamond Eye and The Rose Code returns with a haunting and powerful story of female friendships and secrets in a Washington, DC, boardinghouse during the McCarthy era.

Washington, DC, 1950. Everyone keeps to themselves at Briarwood House, a down-at-the-heels all-female boardinghouse in the heart of the nation’s capital where secrets hide behind white picket fences. But when the lovely, mysterious widow Grace March moves into the attic room, she draws her oddball collection of neighbors into unlikely friendship: poised English beauty Fliss, whose facade of perfect wife and mother covers gaping inner wounds; policeman’s daughter Nora, who finds herself entangled with a shadowy gangster; frustrated baseball star Beatrice, whose career has come to an end along with the women’s baseball league of WWII; and poisonous, gung-ho Arlene, who has thrown herself into McCarthy’s Red Scare.

Grace’s weekly attic-room dinner parties and window-brewed sun tea become a healing balm on all their lives, but she hides a terrible secret of her own. When a shocking act of violence tears the house apart, the Briar Club women must decide once and for all: who is the true enemy in their midst?

Capturing the paranoia of the McCarthy era and evoking the changing roles for women in postwar America, The Briar Club is an intimate and thrilling novel of secrets and loyalty put to the test.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - The Burning

 


'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event that I used to take part in weekly.  I'm going to try to do this again in upcoming days and will highlight books that I'm extra excited about.  I was highlighting four books at a time monthly, but I think a weekly event will work better for me. 

This week's highlight is the 16th in one of my favorite series.  Set in Amish country, it features Chief of Police Kate Burkholder.  I have managed to keep up with this series and am delighted that usually each July bring a new book.  This week I'm waiting on:



The Burning

by Linda Castillo

Publication Date:  July 9th

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder investigates a gruesome murder that reveals a little-known chapter of early Amish history in this next riveting installment of the bestselling series by Linda Castillo.

Newlywed Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is awakened by an urgent midnight call summoning her to a suspicious fire in the woods. When she arrives at the scene, she discovers a charred body. According to the coroner, the deceased, an Amish man named Milan Swanz, was chained to a stake and burned alive. It is an appalling and eerily symbolic crime against an upstanding husband and father.

Kate knows all too well that the Amish prefer to handle their problems without interference from the outside world, and no one will speak about the murdered man. From what she’s able to piece together, Swanz led a deeply troubled life and had recently been excommunicated. But if that’s the case, why are the Amish so reluctant to talk about him? Are they protecting the memory of one of their own? Or are they afraid of something they dare not share?

When her own brother is implicated in the case, Kate finds herself not only at odds with the Amish, the world of which she was once a part, but also the English community and her counterparts in law enforcement. The investigation takes a violent turn when Kate’s life is threatened by a mysterious stranger.

To uncover the truth about the death of Milan Swanz, Kate must dive deep into the Anabaptist culture, peering into all the dark corners of its history, only to uncover a secret legacy that shatters everything she thought she knew about the Amish themselves—and her own roots.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The bluebonnets are coming...not quite yet, but...

 

Hello book friends!  I know I wrote a few weeks ago how ready I was for spring and wildflowers to come in our area.  And, yes, I still am so ready!  The shot above is from a section of our front yard and the greenery around the rock is mostly bluebonnet plants.  One of the things that drew us to this house when we were house-hunting was a shot of the front and a 'sea of bluebonnets'.  I'm really, really hoping that they will appear again this year.  We shall see.  When (and if) they do, I'll share another shot.  It probably won't be for a few more weeks.

This week was busy, but had some fun things.  I was able to attend what I used to call the 'Afternoon Book Group' at the library where I worked years ago.  It was a group that I attended off and on in past years and the very nice lady that took it over as a volunteer is still leading that group.  They had read Kate Quinn's book, The Alice Network, and I had read that one and discussed it with the 'Mystery Group' a few years ago.  I had also talked about it with the 'Historical Fiction' Book Group I attended in Kerrville.  Anyway, it was nice to see old friends in the group and talk about Kate Quinn's writing with them.  I also recommended Quinn's book, The Rose Code, to the group and others recommended additional books by her.  Have you read any of this author's works?  She has a new one coming out in the summer that I will highlight soon on a 'Waiting on..' post.  

I also went to the eye doctor for a check-up and got a thumbs-up report there.  My prescription has changed very little, so I think I'll wait a bit before thinking about replacing my glasses.  I like all the 'bells and whistles' on them (progressive lens, anti-glare, etc.) and so they tend to be a little pricey.  I have some other annual checks coming in upcoming weeks and I'm finally going to get to visit my new primary care doctor.  Changing doctors is just a major pain in my book.  Sigh.  

Reading is going well, but I've been doing some re-reading and so don't really have a lot to share at this point.  Hope all have a good weekend and a nice end to February next week.  Talk soon.    

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Waiting on Wednesday - The Grey Wolf

'Waiting on Wednesday' is an event that I used to take part in weekly.  I'm going to try to do this again in upcoming days and will highlight books that I'm extra excited about.  I was highlighting four books at a time monthly, but I think a weekly event will work better for me.  The first book I'll mention will not be published until October, but I always get excited for a new Louise Penny book featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  I will say that a couple of the later books in this series have not been my favorites.  Here's hoping that this one will hit just the right spot with me because I don't plan to ever stop reading this series.  This week I'm waiting on:



The Grey Wolf

by Louise Penny

Publication Date: October 29th

Relentless phone calls interrupt the peace of a warm August morning in Three Pines. Though the tiny Québec village is impossible to find on any map, someone has managed to track down Armand Gamache, head of homicide at the Sûreté, as he sits with his wife in their back garden. Reine-Marie watches with increasing unease as her husband refuses to pick up, though he clearly knows who is on the other end. When he finally answers, his rage shatters the calm of their quiet Sunday morning.

That's only the first in a sequence of strange events that begin THE GREY WOLF, the nineteenth novel in Louise Penny's #1 New York Times-bestselling series. A missing coat, an intruder alarm, a note for Gamache reading "this might interest you", a puzzling scrap of paper with a mysterious list—and then a murder. All propel Chief Inspector Gamache and his team toward a terrible realization. Something much more sinister than any one murder or any one case is fast approaching.

Armand Gamache, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his son-in-law and second in command, and Inspector Isabelle Lacoste can only trust each other, as old friends begin to act like enemies, and long-time enemies appear to be friends. Determined to track down the threat before it becomes a reality, their pursuit takes them across Québec and across borders. Their hunt grows increasingly desperate, even frantic, as the enormity of the creature they’re chasing becomes clear. If they fail the devastating consequences would reach into the largest of cities and the smallest of villages.

Including Three Pines.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Midnight by Amy McCulloch

Midnight by Amy McCulloch

First Paragraph(s):

I watch as he scampers down the gangway, his fists clenched by his side.  He avoids catching the eye of the distracted officer at the door to the ship, racing past the long line of passengers waiting to check in for their voyage of a lifetime.

He looks so small through my binoculars.  A tiny slip of a man.  I wait, but the woman doesn't come after him.  No matter.  I had planned for that.  Besides, this way is easier.

I've been watching them, waiting, biding my time.  Every moment confirms what I already knew: these two deserve everything that's coming at them.

My Thoughts:

I love books set in unusual locations, especially places that I know I'll likely not ever visit.  Antarctica is one of these and I've read several books set there.  I think this might be the first one I've read that uses a voyage to Antarctica in the storyline though.  Wow!  I'm not a cruise-taking person and won't ever be.  I have bad motion sickness tendencies and, in order to not have that, I would have to be drugged to the point of sleeping all the time.  Doesn't sound fun.  I do like to read about ocean voyages and, as I said, Antarctica.  

I've read the previous book by Amy McCulloch, Breathless, and it was set in the Himalayas and dealt with mountain climbing and murder.  Same goes here.  The murder part.  Olivia was raised by a father who was a gifted sailor and learned how to take care of herself on the water.  Her father died accidentally when she was in her teens and now Olivia is an almost-actuary who gets a chance to accompany her boyfriend, an art dealer, on a trip to Antarctica.  The setting will be key to showing and selling the art of a man who used this continent for inspiration in creating his pieces.  They get on the ship and then things start happening - bad things.  Olivia feels like she's being watched.  And she is.  There are a lot of descriptions of the environment and what is happening to the icebergs.  Very interesting indeed.  The thrills were many, though I did get a little irritated with some of Olivia's decisions (or non-decisions).  An enjoyable book.  I'll be watching for Amy McCulloch's next book and curious about where she will take us.     

Blurb:

THE SUN NEVER SETS AND THIS KILLER NEVER SLEEPS

Olivia Campbell has always dreamed of spending a sunlit night on the frigid Antarctic continent. But as an actuary who assesses risk for a living, she never imagined she would have the chance. So when her career takes an unexpected detour, and her boyfriend—a high-powered art dealer with a taste for the finer things in life—decides to stage an ostentatious, career-making auction on a luxury liner to Antarctica, Olivia is thrilled. That is, until things start to feel a bit strange. In addition to the scores of wealthy patrons and potential buyers, they'll also be traveling alongside a small group of beleaguered employees of Pioneer Adventures—the company responsible for managing the ship—and their charismatic, divisive CEO.

When the first bodies are discovered, it's easy enough for Olivia to write it off as a terrible accident. But as the situation heats up and the temperatures continue to plummet, she begins to wonder whether she might have booked a one-way ticket to her own demise.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

I'm ready for spring - are you?

 


Hey book friends!  Thought I would stop by and greet everyone - also saying that I am ready for spring.  I know that some really like the winter weather and I appreciate that.  However, our area of Central Texas does not have 'great' winter weather.  If there is significant weather, it's usually windy, extra cold, or even challenging us with snow or worse, ice!  Hate that.  We're just not suited for those things.  And I have winter allergies (cedar) and the wind will insist on stirring up the pollen and even making it look like trees are 'smoking'.  We've had some high winds in the last week and, as I said, ready for spring.

Sharing a bluebonnet picture above from a few years back.  No, the bluebonnets are not here yet, nor are the other wildflowers that we enjoy in the spring months.  I'm ready for them though and will be excited to share pictures of them when they arrive.  Watch for that in coming weeks or months.  

Life is going well.  We've had a couple of things updated at our 'new-to-us' house and have gotten delivery of some chairs and window shades that we ordered.  Still a few things on back order, but that seems to be the way these days.  They will eventually arrive and we're not desperate for them.  I've turned in my paperwork to become a volunteer at my new library and hope to hear from them before long.  We'll see what they possibly need help with.  

Reading is going OK enough.  I wasn't able to attend our recent mystery book group meeting, but I had not been a big fan of the book selected.  That's how it goes though and I decided to put it aside and read something else.  Right now, as opposed to my usual 'read cold books in summer', I'm in the middle of Amy McCulloch's new book, Midnight.  I enjoyed her first book, Breathless, a while back and was eager to try this one.  Where is this new one set?  Antarctica.  Yep, cold indeed.  I'll share my thoughts when I finish with it.  Some really good books on my upcoming list to read as well.  Guess I can keep myself busy while I'm waiting on those spring wildflowers.  Hope you have a good week!  And what have you been reading or looking forward to?      

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Holmes, Marple & Poe by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

Holmes, Marple & Poe by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

First Paragraph(s):

Last year

The vacant industrial space that Realtor Gretchen Wik was trying to unload was located in a recently gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood called Bushwick.  The area was becoming trendier by the month, but this particular building was cold and dead--and apparently unsellable.  

Gretchen had been sitting at her sales table on the first floor since noon, tapping her nails while she stared out through a grime-coated window.  In five hours, she had not been visited by a single prospect.

The property consisted of nine thousand square feet on two levels.  But it was run-down and needed a lot of work.  At this point Gretchen felt like the worn wood floors and flaking brick walls were mocking her.  She checked her watch.  In exactly two minutes, her open house would officially be a bust.

Then she heard the front door open.  

My Thoughts:

I think I mentioned when I included this book in a recent 'waiting on' post that it had been a long time since I've read a Patterson book.  And I've not ever read anything by his co-writer, Brian Sitts.  Once upon a time, there were several Patterson series that I sort of kept up with, but time passed and other series took their places.  I did enjoy reading The Women's Murder Club and Alex Cross and Michael Bennett books.  I was curious about this one mostly because of the title, which mentions three of the protagonists - Holmes, Marple, and Poe.  So, how did I fare?

It was a quick read.  The story was fast paced.  The three, Brendan Holmes, Margaret Marple, and Auguste Poe are private detectives and work together.  The fourth main character is Helene Grey and she's a NYPD detective.  She comes across them during an investigation and then our story progresses.  Each of the detectives has a bit of their namesake sleuth about them, but we honestly don't find out too much about any of them.  There are several cases in the story, but not much character development or not yet maybe.  This is the first book in what I imagine might be a series.  Don't know.

I thought the whole book was OK-ish.  I wasn't overwhelmed with love though.  Short chapters.  Quickly moving from place to place.  I didn't completely approve of the update to our sleuths.  Honestly, I just think I wasn't a good match for the book.  I finished it and thought - well, what next?  Will I read another book if this is a series?  Probably not.  If you've tried this one, let me know what you thought.  Many others are writing glowing reviews, so this was just my experience.  Yours could be completely different.  

Blurb:

Crime! Murder! Who are you going to call?

In New York City, three intriguing, smart, and stylish private investigators open Holmes, Marple & Poe Investigations. Who are these detectives with famous names and mysterious, untraceable pasts?

Brendan Holmes—The Brain: Identifies suspects via deduction and logic.

Margaret Marple—The Eyes: Possesses powers of observation too often underestimated.

Auguste Poe—The Muscle: Chases down every lead no matter how dangerous or dark.

The agency’s daring methodology and headline-making solves attract the attention of NYPD Detective Helene Grey. Her solo investigation into her three unknowable competitors will delight mystery fans.

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Goddess of Shipwrecked Sailors by Skye Alexander

The Goddess of Shipwrecked Sailors by Skye Alexander

First Paragraphs:

After driving for seven hours, the four musicians arrived at Matthew Gardner's home on the most fashionable street in Salem, Massachusetts, a three-hundred-year-old town known for its seafaring history, Nathanial Hawthorne, and hanging women suspected of witchcraft.  Lizzie eyed the grand boulevard and the elegant eighteenth-and nineteenth-century mansions that lined both sides of it.

'How very pretty,' she said.

Candles burned in the windows of the Gardners' handsome three-story Georgian house.  An electrified Moravian star illuminated the front portico.  In the yard, an evergreen tree strung with chains of popcorn and cranberries offered food for the birds.  Despite temperatures in the low teens, a group of carolers, bundled up against the cold, strolled from house to house, celebrating the holiday with joyful voices.

My Thoughts:

I  loved  this 3rd entry into the Lizzie Crane mystery series, written by Skye Alexander.  The timeframe is again the mid-1920's and Lizzie and her friends, Melody, Sidney, and Bert (also known as The Troubadours) are hired to provide entertainment during the '12 Days of Christmas' for the Gardner family and their guests.  The setting is Salem, Massachusetts in this book and I really enjoyed all the information about this famous Massachusetts area.  All begins well, but soon there is a dead body and a cousin that Lizzie didn't know she had who might or might not be someone she'd like to know.  The body is found near her 'new' cousin's tavern and you can add theft, a missing goddess, and secret tunnels under the streets of Salem.  These were used long ago in Salem's shipping days to smuggle goods.  Could they still be in use?  Hmmm....it's possible.

Salem's history has been well researched by the author and she includes lots of things you might have known, but there are likely more that will be new to you.  As I said, I loved it and am happy to report that #4 in the series is in the works.  The author shared a guest post with me last week here.  My conclusion - try this series, bet you'll like it!        

Blurb:

December 1925: Salem, Massachusetts

When Matthew Gardner, the heir to a shipping fortune, hires New York jazz singer Lizzie Crane and her band to perform during the Christmas holidays, she has high hopes that this prestigious event will foster their career and bring them riches and recognition. She’s also eager to reconnect with a handsome man from one of Boston’s most esteemed families, whom she met at an earlier visit to Massachusetts.

But the evening the musicians arrive in historic Salem to begin their engagement, police discover the body of a man near a tavern owned by Lizzie’s cousin––a cousin she even didn’t know she had until Christmas Eve. In the dead man’s pocket is a cryptic letter addressed to Gardner. To compound her dismay, she also learns that her host plans to marry his daughter to the man Lizzie wants for herself.

Soon Lizzie’s caught in the middle of a high-stakes feud between her cousin and her employer over a mysterious lady. When she digs deeper into their conflict, she discovers its roots are deep and bitter: her cousin’s father crewed on one of Gardner’s grandfather’s ships that sunk during a storm in 1868. As she struggles to piece together the puzzle and find the lady at its center, Lizzie becomes a pawn in each man’s deadly game for money and revenge.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Why I Write What I Don't Know - A guest post by Skye Alexander

Today I have a guest post by my friend, Skye Alexander.  This is the third guest post that Skye has shared here on my blog and I'm always happy to learn more about her writing process and research.  I'll have a review of her latest book, The Goddess of Shipwrecked Sailors, soon.  

Note:
Skye shared this article on another blog recently here.  That blog is Sleuths & Sidekicks and I encourage you to take a look at it as well.  Always nice to find a new mystery blog.

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Writers, especially beginners, are often advised to “write what you know.” Everyone has a story to tell––maybe two or ten––and for many people, writing a book isn’t quite so daunting if you can draw on the huge body of knowledge and experience you already possess. Although that’s good advice, I find it much more interesting to write about what I don’t know. In the process of researching my books, I dig up a wealth of unexpected booty that fills my stories with riches I never imagined.

I write traditional, historical mysteries in the Agatha Christie vein, set in the mid-1920s. I confess, I never liked history when I studied it in school because most of it centered on rulers, wars, and politics rather than the lives of ordinary people. But once I started researching this colorful period for my Lizzie Crane mystery series I got hooked. I realized how much I didn’t know, and I was determined to rectify that deficit.

For example, while doing research for my second novel What the Walls Know, I discovered that the first automatic gate was invented by an Egyptian guy named Heron about 2,000 years ago. He also invented a coin-operated dispenser for holy water. How cool is that? I also learned that some of the world’s great pipe organs have more than 30,000 pipes and seven keyboards, and this incredibly intricate instrument dates back to ancient Greece. Because the book features a cast of mediums and other occultists, I also delved into the Spiritualist movement at the early part of the 20th century––séances, Ouija boards, tarot cards, etc.–which turned out to be fascinating.

For my third, recently released book The Goddess of Shipwrecked Sailors set in 1925 in Salem, Massachusetts, I had to bone up on the clipper ship trade between New England and the Orient. In the process, I found out that these beautiful sailing vessels not only brought precious tea, spices, teak, ivory, and silk to the U.S. in the mid-1800s, but also opium (which was legal at the time). The Chinese goddess Quan Yin, sometimes considered the Buddha’s feminine counterpart, is said to have protected seafarers and ferried shipwrecked sailors to shore––hence the title for my book. Many of the ship owners whose clippers made it home safely didn’t want to pay taxes on the valuable goods they’d risked bringing from halfway around the world, so they slipped them past the revenuers via a series of smuggling tunnels built beneath the city of Salem by the country’s first National Guard unit.

Because my series is set in the Roaring Twenties and my protagonist, Lizzie Crane, is a jazz singer from New York City, I had to familiarize myself with the jazz musicians of the period. Before I began writing this series, I wasn’t a big fan of jazz but that’s changed as a result of hearing the greats such as George and Ira Gershwin, Bix Beiderbecke, and Louis Armstrong play. YouTube is a valuable resource for this. If you’ve never listened to “Davenport Blues” or “Rhapsody in Blue” I urge you to do so. For my fifth book in the series, When the Blues Come Calling (not yet published), I learned about the rapidly developing music recording industry, how records were made in 1926, and even a portable record player called a Mikiphone that could spin a 10-inch disc yet folded up small enough to fit into a good-sized purse.

For me, every day is an exploration into worlds unknown. During my journey, I’ve learned about jigsaw puzzles, merry-go-rounds, rose windows, ladies’ undergarments, Jell-O, New York’s subways, voodoo veves, and so much more. I never know what tidbits of trivia or historic fact I’ll stumble upon and how they’ll influence the direction of my stories. It’s so much more fun than simply recapping what I already know.



 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Four books coming January-April that I'm excited about trying...

I have more upcoming books that I'm wanting to try in the next few months.  It's a cold, cold day outside at my house and so this seems like a good thing to do - check out books to be published during this month and the ones to come.

This first one has actually already come out.  It's been a long time since I read a book by James Patterson, but the title caught my eye and why not, right?  It includes the last names of three of my favorite mystery-related names. 

Holmes, Marple & Poe by James Patterson and Brian Sitts - published last week

Crime! Murder! Who are you going to call?

In New York City, three intriguing, smart, and stylish private investigators open Holmes, Marple & Poe Investigations. Who are these detectives with famous names and mysterious, untraceable pasts?

Brendan Holmes—The Brain: Identifies suspects via deduction and logic.

Margaret Marple—The Eyes: Possesses powers of observation too often underestimated.

Auguste Poe—The Muscle: Chases down every lead no matter how dangerous or dark.

The agency’s daring methodology and headline-making solves attract the attention of NYPD Detective Helene Grey. Her solo investigation into her three unknowable competitors will delight mystery fans.

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I read Iris Yamashita's debut book, Breathless, last year and her new one comes out in February.  Yes, I am interested!

Village In The Dark by Iris Yamashita - publishes February 13th

Detective Cara Kennedy thought she’d lost her husband and son in an accident, but harrowing evidence has emerged that points to murder--and she will stop at nothing to find the truth in this riveting mystery from the author of City Under One Roof.

On a frigid February day, Anchorage Detective Cara Kennedy stands by the graves of her husband and son, watching as their caskets are raised from the earth. It feels sacrilegious, but she has no choice. Aaron and Dylan disappeared on a hike a year ago, their bones eventually found and buried. But shocking clues have emerged that foul play was involved, potentially connecting them to a string of other deaths and disappearances. 

Somehow tied to the mystery is Mia Upash, who grew up in an isolated village called Unity, a community of women and children in hiding from abusive men. Mia never imagined the trouble she would find herself in when she left home to live in Man’s World. Although she remains haunted by the tragedy of what happened to the man and the boy in the woods, she has her own reasons for keeping quiet. 

Aided by police officer Joe Barkowski and other residents of Point Mettier, Cara’s investigation will lead them on a dangerous path that puts their lives and the lives of everyone around them in mortal jeopardy.

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I recently read and discussed a book by Simone St. James with my mystery book group.  And she has a new one coming in March!  Yes, I'm interested!!

Murder Road by Simone St. James - publishes March 5th

A young couple find themselves haunted by a string of gruesome murders committed along an old deserted road in this terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Cold Cases.

July 1995. April and Eddie have taken a wrong turn. They’re looking for the small resort town where they plan to spend their honeymoon. When they spot what appears to a lone hitchhiker along the deserted road, they stop to help. But not long after the hitchhiker gets into their car, they see the blood seeping from her jacket and a truck barreling down Atticus Line after them.

When the hitchhiker dies at the local hospital, April and Eddie find themselves in the crosshairs of the Coldlake Falls police. Unexplained murders have been happening along Atticus Line for years and the cops finally have two witnesses who easily become their only suspects. As April and Eddie start to dig into the history of the town and that horrible stretch of road to clear their names, they soon learn that there is something supernatural at work, something that could not only tear the town and its dark secrets apart, but take April and Eddie down with it all.

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I've loved so many of Elly Griffiths' books.  This new one will include some of the characters from The Postscript Murders.  Sign me up!

The Last Word by Elly Griffiths - publishes April 23rd

Words turn deadly with an unlikely detective duo on the case of a murdered obituary writer in this literary mystery from the internationally bestselling author of the Ruth Galloway series. Perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Anthony Horowitz.

Natalka and Edwin are perfect if improbable partners in a detective agency. At eighty-four, Edwin regularly claims that he’s the oldest detective in England. He is a master at surveillance, deploying his age as a cloak of invisibility. Natalka, Ukrainian-born and more than fifty years his junior, is a math whizz, who takes any cases concerning fraud or deception. Despite a steady stream of minor cases, Natalka is frustrated. She loves a murder, as she’s fond of saying, and none have come the agency’s way. That is until local writer Melody Chambers dies.

Melody’s daughters are convinced that their mother was murdered. Edwin thinks that Melody’s death is linked to that of an obituary writer who predeceased many of his subjects. Edwin and Benedict go undercover to investigate and are on a creative writing weekend at isolated Battle House when another murder occurs. Are the cases linked and what is the role of a distinctly sinister book group attended by many of writers involved? By the time Edwin has infiltrated the group, he is in serious danger…

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So, do any of these appeal to you?  Hope so! 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Memorable books that I read in 2023...and a small update

Hello book pals!  Hope you are all having a good week.  Mine has been good, but busy.

I did get to attend our mystery book group on Tuesday evening and we had a great time discussing and giving opinions about Simone St. James' 'Gothic-type' mystery, The Book of Cold Cases.  Most liked it pretty well, though some were not as fond of the 'ghostly' aspects.  Don't know if you have read any of Simone St. James' books.  The maybe supernatural or maybe not is a theme she uses for all the ones I've read, I think.  My favorite up to now is probably The Broken Girls, which I read a few years ago and wrote about here.  In any case, it was a fun discussion.  We'll be talking about Lucy Foley's book, The Paris Apartment, next month.

Before time gets away from me, I want to share a few books that I found memorable in 2023.  As I've mentioned, I didn't read so many books number-wise this last year.  Life took over.  Ha!  However, looking back at my reading journal, I picked out 5 books that I think I'll remember fondly.  Here they are (no reviews) and tell me if you read them and what you thought if you'd like.  I'll put a link if I did write about them in a post during this last year.

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn - talked a bit about it in this post

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb - my thoughts on this book here.

Murder At Haven's Rock by Kelley Armstrong - blog post here.

Killers Of A Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn - have not shared about this book as yet - it's our mystery book group selection for March so more to come.

The Maid by Nita Prose - have not talked about this one - maybe when I get the next in the series read.

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I'll be around early next week to share four more books that I'm anticipating in upcoming months.  Plus, at the end of next week, I'll have a guest post by my friend, Skye Alexander, from Kerrville.  She has a third book in her Lizzie Crane mystery series out and I'm reading it right now.  Hope to have some thoughts on The Goddess Of Shipwrecked Sailors soon.  Take care and enjoy your reading!


  


Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year! It's 2024!!

 


Hello my book friends!  And a very Happy New Year - 2024 - to you.  My wish is that all will find joy (I love that word), peace, and contentment in this new year.  And books, right?  I don't think any of us will struggle with that - ha!  The books - they will insist on leaping into your hands or cart or onto your e-reader.  Do you agree that books are one of our most special 'happy' places?  They are certainly mine.  However, I have definitely struggled with my reading 'numbers' for the last few years.  Lots has happened, many changes, and who knows?  I might have not read as much even if changes had not happened.  Distraction can occur for lots of reasons.  

So, what will 2024 look like?  Hmmm...well, I'm not going to have 'official' goals with numbers, etc.  That being said, I would like to settle in a little more to reading 'normally' and make my way through a few more books and series.  I love series - mystery series especially.  And I am behind on several that I would like to play 'catch-up'.  

There were lots of changes in our lives this last year.  We didn't plan on all of them, but we are settled in our new home and I'm hoping that 2024 will see me reaching out to new opportunities for volunteering.  Likely at my new library.  I've already been talking to some of the staff there about that.  I know - you're surprised - ha!  I also want to do more on my ongoing health journey.  Movement, eating healthy, sleeping well, trying to keep from getting too 'creaky' (and that takes work!) and also doing a little better with my distracted, anxious mind.  Thinking of peaceful things (yes, like a 'nice' murder mystery) and not worrying so much about 'stuff'.  

Again, wishing you all 'joy', 'peace', and 'contentment' for 2024!  Off to find my first book of 2024!