Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Teaser Tuesday

"The fires behind them had melted into one vague glow against the black sky, and the land was almost out of sight.  It was time to come about.  "Watch your head, my lady." (620)

George R. R. Martin.  Clash of Kings.  New York:  Bantam Books. 1999.

First Chapter Tuesday

"The comet's tail spread across the dawn, a red slash that bled about the crags of Dragonstone like a wound in the pink and purple sky.
     The maester stood on the windswept balcony outside his chambers.  It was here the ravens came, after long flight.  Their droppings speckled the gargoyles that rose twelve feet tall on either side of him, a hellhound and a wyvern, two of the thousand that brooded over the walls of the ancient fortress." (1)  Prologue

George R. R. Martin.  Clash of Kings. New York:  Bantam Books. 1999.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Musing Mondays

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is the best book you read LAST year?

Asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking me to name a favorite grandchild, but I did have two books from 2015 that stand out in my memory.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.  Neither were written in 2015 but that is when I found them. Both have elements of mystery which is what originally drew me to them but there is so much more to them both.

Amazon.com Review - The Forgotten Garden

Amazon Best of the Month, April 2009: Like Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic The Secret Garden, Kate Morton's The Forgotten Garden takes root in your imagination and grows into something enchanting--from a little girl with no memories left alone on a ship to Australia, to a fog-soaked London river bend where orphans comfort themselves with stories of Jack the Ripper, to a Cornish sea heaving against wind-whipped cliffs, crowned by an airless manor house where an overgrown hedge maze ends in the walled garden of a cottage left to rot. This hidden bit of earth revives barren hearts, while the mysterious Authoress's fairy tales (every bit as magical and sinister as Grimm's) whisper truths and ignite the imaginary lives of children. As Morton draws you through a thicket of secrets that spans generations, her story could cross into fairy tale territory if her characters weren't clothed in such complex flesh, their judgment blurred by the heady stench of emotions (envy, lust, pride, love) that furtively flourished in the glasshouse of Edwardian society. While most ache for a spotless mind's eternal sunshine, the Authoress meets the past as "a cruel mistress with whom we must all learn to dance," and her stories gift children with this vital muscle memory. --Mari Malcolm

Editorial Reviews - Mr. Mercedes

From Booklist

King’s interest in crime fiction was evident from his work for the Hard Case Crime imprint—The Colorado Kid (2005) and Joyland (2013)—but this is the most straight-up mystery-thriller of his career. Retired Detective Bill Hodges is overweight, directionless, and toying with the idea of ending it all when he receives a jeering letter from the Mercedes Killer, who ran down 23 people with a stolen car but evaded Hodges’ capture. With the help of a 17-year-old neighbor and one victim’s sister (who, in proper gumshoe style, Hodges quickly beds), Hodges begins to play cat-and-mouse with the killer through a chat site called Under Debbie’s Blue Umbrella. Hodges’ POV alternates with that of the troubled murderer, a Norman Bates–like ice-cream-truck driver named Brady Hartfield. Both Hodges and Hartfield make mistakes, big ones, leaving this a compelling, small-scale slugfest that plays out in cheery suburban settings. This exists outside of the usual Kingverse (Pennywise the Clown is referred to as fictive); add that to the atypical present-tense prose, and this feels pretty darn fresh. Big, smashing climax, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: No need to rev the engine here; this baby will rocket itself out of libraries with a loud squeal of the tires. --Daniel Kraus


The greatest popular storyteller of his generation returned to his finest form with this superb evocation of a psychopath who kills by driving an enormous Mercedes into hundreds of people queuing for the chance of a job. -- Geoffrey Wansell Daily Mail With John Updike dead and Philip Roth retired, Stephen King might just be America's greatest living novelist ... THE BEST THRILLER OF THE YEAR ... It is by far his best and it is recommended to crime buffs and King fans alike. Sunday Express When it comes to grabbing an audience by the throat and giving them no choice but to keep reading, King has no equal Guardian A thrilling cat and mouse game Mail on Sunday, Ireland Rrichly layered, technologically savvy story ... is uncomfortable, yet riveting, to read ... A creepy, ripped-from-the headlines climax, a showdown between good and evil that characterizes the best of King's work ... Excellent addition to King's growing list of mystery-thriller titles; there's even a small hint that the Mr. Mercedes show may go on - a scary thought indeed. L. A. Times A tightly plotted crime novel that retains that essential, instantly recognizable flavor that has distinguished King's fiction for more than 40 years ... On one level, MR MERCEDES is an expertly crafted example of the classic race-against-the-clock thriller. On another, it is a novel of depth and character enriched throughout by the grace notes King provides in such seemingly effortless profusion. It is a rich, resonant, exceptionally readable accomplishment by a man who can write in whatever genre he chooses. Washington Post

Saturday, May 7, 2016


Lately I have been obsessed with cozy mysteries.  They are very relaxing yet there is still the challenge of the mystery.  Some of my favorite include the Tea Shop Mysteries, Cackleberry Club, and Scrapbooking Mysteries all by Laura Child.  Then I have added the Book Shop Mysteries by Lorna Barrett, the Molly Malone Mysteries by Maggie Sefton, and the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert.

I am returning to a few other series I started in the past, such as Diane Mott Davidson Culinary series and Carolyn Hart Death on Demand.

There is a bonus to most of these.  Most come with recipes.  For one of my creative challenges I will try a few and post my results.

But for now, I am gearing up for the Bout of Books read-a-thon.  I won't have time for much else!

Thursday, May 5, 2016


As part of this creativity challenge I am participating in a read-a-thon at Bout of Books.  I have signed up already over at Joyful Jottings where I will be making most of my posts but one of the things that this creativity challenge has done for me is to take me out of my comfort zone with reading.  I am reading more and I am reading a variety.  In addition, I am reacting - publicly - to these reads.

If I am not "making" things, at least I am getting more involved in the book.  My reading isn't a passive exercise.  I am putting more of myself into the story and then getting more out for myself.  

I am excited about the challenge.  I can't wait to see how I progress.  I have some lofty goals, one of which is to read the books I have on hand.  I will not buy another book, or download one on Kindle, or check out one from the library.  I am going to knock off some of the ones here gathering dust.  

I will probably do lots of cross-over posts but that's OK.  I am writing.

These are near the top of my stack. These have been around a while!   

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

First Chapter Tuesday

"I tell you, Trish, we're all victims."
Victims?  In the town voted safest in all of New Hampshire?  Tricia Miles raised an eyebrow and studied the septuagenarian bookseller before her over the rim of her cardboard coffee cup.  Here it comes, she thought wit dread, the pitch.

Lorna Barrett.  Murder is Binding.  New York:  Berkley Prime Crime. 2008

Monday, May 2, 2016

Deadly Politics

Recently I visited the Cozy Chicks site and read a wonderful post about the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.  I made a comment and in the author's response she mentioned areas of DC that we both knew very well.  In addition, she mentioned the first book in her Molly Mallone mystery series.  I was intrigued so I bought that book.
I enjoyed it very much.  I must say it kept me guessing.  In fact, the ending left me wanting (maybe even needing) more.  While the story and characters are important, for me I began reading to feel the setting.  Sefton captured Georgetown perfectly.  
I am not a great "reviewer" so I have included a snippet from Amazon.  It says it best.

From Amazon:

A gripping new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maggie Sefton 
Molly Malone was driven from Washington, D.C., by political back-stabbing, scandals, and personal heartbreak. But now she’s starting a new life in the one place she swore she’d never come back to.
When Molly’s only Washington job prospect falls through, her politico niece, Karen, sets her up with a position in the office of a freshman senator. As the former wife of a congressman, Molly is alarmed to hear that Karen is having an affair with her boss,  congressional chief of staff Jed Molinoff. Just days later, Molly finds Karen shot to death. Discovering that Molinoff has ransacked Karen’s apartment, Molly investigates further . . . and finds herself in the crosshairs of a shadowy political group that’s killing anyone who gets in its way.

"Maggie Sefton's foray into political intrigue is a marvelous look at the shady underbelly of insider Washington...A tightly plotted tale of treachery."
"Sefton has a sharp ear for dialog and knack for writing strong female characters that serve her well as she ventures into suspense."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Little Beach Street Bakery

I shy away from Chick Lit.  I am not sure why except I think I feel that that aspect of life has passed me by.  I am no longer a 30 something looking for love.  I am advancing into my Miss Marple stage or at least the Mrs. Marple stage!

I do like books with recipes such as the Tea Shop Mysteries so perhaps the bread recipes are what grabbed my attention.  I am so glad they did.  I loved this book.  I am drawn to the setting and the food but eventually the story sucked me in.  

Polly's life is falling apart.  She and her boyfriend are facing bankruptcy with a failing business and their relationship has hit rock bottom as well.  There is nothing left for her to do but leave and try to start over.  She moves to a small island into a falling apart former bakery with a grouchy baking rival as her landlady.  Before long her therapeutic baking attracts the attention of some locals which leads to a new relationship that isn't what it seems.

Although the ending is uplifting, there are plenty of drops along the way.  

From Amazon:

In the bestselling tradition of Jojo Moyes and Jennifer Weiner, Jenny Colgan's moving, funny, and unforgettable novel tells the story of a heartbroken young woman who turns a new page in her life . . . by becoming a baker in the town of Cornwall
A quiet seaside resort. An abandoned shop. A small flat. This is what awaits Polly Waterford when she arrives at the Cornish coast, fleeing a ruined relationship.
To keep her mind off her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, chocolate and sugar, and the local honey—courtesy of a handsome beekeeper. Packed with laughter and emotion, Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of how one woman discovered bright new life where she least expected—a heartwarming, mouthwatering modern-day Chocolat that has already become a massive international bestseller.