Thursday, August 31, 2017

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! Time to talk about what we're reading. I can't wait to see your lists.

I'm reading a novel that was recommended by my friend, Kaye Wilkinson Barley. It's a debut, The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. It's beautiful so far. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it has a happy ending for at least one of the lonely people in the book. I'll let you know when I finish it.

So, what are you reading this week? We're eager for that conversation!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thief's Mark by Carla Neggers

Thief's Mark is the seventh in Carla Neggers' Sharpe & Donovan series, featuring two FBI agents. However, for those of us who haven't read one in the series, this may be a good start. Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are on their honeymoon, so it's a new start in their lives. Or is it?

The honeymoon is over and the two agents are planning to head to London before heading home. However, Emma's grandfather meets with them, and has a strange story to tell. Someone broke into his house, and found photos and small stone crosses, all linked to Oliver York, an Englishman with a tragic past. Part of Oliver's mysterious past, though, is the ten years he spent as an art thief. Because of the family business, Sharpe Fine Art Recovery, Emma's family had been on Oliver's trail before he started working for MI5.

It seems someone is looking for connections to Oliver. Is it the man who bleeds to death in Oliver's yard? Oliver's garden designer, Henrietta, once an MI5 agent herself, is on the site when the man dies. But, Oliver runs. Is he a suspect, a killer? Or is he the man who witnessed his parents' murders when he was just eight, and may have recognized the man who died in his arms? It's a mystery that involves MI5, the local police, the honeymooning FBI agents. It's a story that sweeps from Ireland to England, Scotland, and Maine.

As I said, there's good reason to start with Thief's Mark if you haven't read earlier books in the series. There's not a great deal of action, but there is a lot of character interaction. The characters from previous books unite to bring up past history, the death of Oliver's parents, his kidnapping. There's a great deal of care taken with Oliver because he's valuable as an expert in art theft. There's a little romance, but most of the story slowly develops as readers discover Oliver's life history. It's the story of an "enigmatic, frustrating, larcenous, tortured and sexy" man.

Neggers, in her Author Note, invites readers to enjoy the diversion. It's a "dive into Emma and Colin's world, with a cheeky art thief, a spy with a penchant for gardening, an Irish priest tested by a murderer's secrets and an octogenarian art detective who doesn't mind breaking a few rules."

Carla Neggers' website is www.CarlaNeggers.com

Thief's Mark by Carla Neggers. MIRA. 2017. ISBN 9780778330318 (hardcover), 332p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to participate in a blog tour.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

J.T. Ellison's Lie to Me - Excerpt 7

Today, I'm participating in J.T. Ellison's blog tour for Lie to Me. I have Excerpt 7 of the book to share.

J. T. Ellison, author of LIE TO ME, on tour August/September 2017

Posted By   on June 26, 2017 

We are so excited to announce a 2-part tour for the release of best selling author J. T. Ellison’s new psychological, Lie to Me!

Follow along the excerpt tour beginning in August, with long excerpts in consecutive order at each tour stop, followed by a review tour beginning on 9/5, release day!

About Lie to Me               

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (September 5, 2017)
Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel. 
They built a life on lies 
Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.
Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless. 

Excerpt 7

Discoveries Are Made

He left the Scotch in his office, grabbed the semi-warm cup of tea from the kitchen counter, went to Sutton’s lair on the other side of the house, and booted up her laptop. The banking was always done on her computer. She had the tax files, so it made sense that the financial info was in the same place. Sutton had never shown an interest in the money Ethan brought to the marriage—she paid her mother out of her earnings, as he insisted—but was diligent about making sure the quarterlies and annual taxes were paid.
His family money: Most of it gone now anyway, eaten up by the price of the house and subsequent renovations. They should have gotten a mortgage, it was insanity to pay one point four million in cash, but Sutton wanted to be free of debt, so Ethan had signed on the line and handed over his nest egg.
At the time, money gone wasn’t a big deal. It was simply expected that he could continue earning; his highly anticipated third novel was due to release the following June. But, despite his best efforts, the trials of the past year had been too much for even his prodigious mind to handle; he couldn’t make it happen—the ending was elusive, the words juvenile and trite. Without any sign of a book the publisher had gotten antsy and the contract had fallen through. Bill tried everything he could to stall them, but, apologetically, the publisher had asked for—demanded—the very substantial million dollar advance back. The brilliant book with the plot that ruined his marriage was officially cancelled; Ethan was publicly humiliated in the industry trades and on social media. How does a man recover from such an embarrassment?
But far worse, far worse indeed: Ethan was now reliant on Sutton’s income to support them. Even knowing a royalty check would be coming, they had to reassess their expenditures.
It made him feel like less of a man, less of a husband, less of a writer, but even those indignities hadn’t broken free the writer’s block.
Ethan simply hadn’t been able to write a word since Dashiell died. Every time he laid hands on his keyboard, it all felt so fruitless. Pointless. The words drowned in the accusations, in the horrors and sobbing and cries. He’d helped create a life, and helped take it away. The child had depended on them for love and nurturing, and they’d nurtured him right into the grave. How could they forgive each other? How could they move on, move past? Worse, how could words—insignificant, paltry words—heal such a wound?

But dead baby or not, they had to eat. And Ethan wasn’t the type to get a job. Family money had lasted him this long, the small but flush trust fund to which he’d added the impressive advance of his debut novel, but once his parents bit it, there was an estate issue, and some of the money was tied up in a trust, and some went to pay off the accumulated debts, and the rest he’d sunk in the house, so he had all he was getting, at least for now.
And it wasn’t enough to make the monthly nut.
So Sutton became the breadwinner. Sutton was the one bringing in the money.
It had gone to Sutton’s lovely little head, the one who couldn’t be bothered with all his money, but took a sort of sinful pride in hers. She’d callously talked about investments and 401Ks over breakfast, ways to save for the future, how they would have to be careful from here on out.
No thank you for supporting us all these years, Ethan. No I am so grateful you wiped out your family money to buy us this house, Ethan. No don’t worry, sweetheart, you’ll find your words again. I promise, either.
They were alone now. No nanny. No baby. Just the two of them, knocking around in the grand old Victorian, the incessant tap, tap, tapping away from her end of the house, at all hours of the day and night, Sutton pouring her heart and soul onto the page while Ethan suffered through his drought alone.

She could work. She could talk about finances. Why couldn’t she talk to him?
They hadn’t had a real conversation in months.
Bitch.
Stop that, Ethan. My God.
He felt odd sitting at her desk. There was a half-full teacup with a scum around the edge, notepads and notebooks and pens—her favored fountain pen, a simple Pilot Metropolitan. He ran a finger along the edge of the pen. It was white, pearly, and he imagined it still held a hint of warmth from her touch. Ethan preferred the Blackwing 602 pencil—sturdy, reliable, never running out of ink or exploding onto unsuspecting fingers. Sutton had laughed at his old-fashioned nature.
You’re dithering.
He didn’t want to see the bank accounts, because knowing it was all hers made him feel…less.
“Man up, you bloody fool,” he said to himself, and opened the bank’s website.
They had two accounts, one for day-to-day expenses, and one for the investments.

Neither seemed disturbed. The last entries on the daily account were for Publix, $124.76, and a $25 charge to Starbucks, both dated Thursday of last week. Groceries, and she’d refilled her card. Ethan much preferred the grocery delivery service, but Sutton liked going to the store. He used to tease her that she only went to show off the baby. Of course, that wasn’t the case anymore. They’d taken to using the service lately, so Ethan was a bit surprised by the fact that she’d gone to the store directly, but hey, there was nothing sinister about it.
The Starbucks card, though, that was a regular expense. Ethan knew she refilled the card religiously once a week. He saw the entry with a pang of…was it happiness, sadness? He didn’t even know. Sutton had always loved walking to the square, loved the crowded Starbucks with its skinny building and long wooden tables. She went there every day, either with Ellen and Rachel, after yoga, or with Filly, when they could push the strollers, their ponytails bouncing, or with Ivy, when she was in town and didn’t have early morning meetings, but every day, she was there. It was her favorite part about their house’s location in downtown Franklin—how everything that mattered to her was within walking distance.
Who buys groceries, refills their Starbucks card, then decides to run away? It made no sense.

He scrolled back through the records. As far as he could see, the day-to-day account had no unusual charges for the past several days, and the last substantial withdrawal was one he’d made the past Friday. Sutton used a debit card for everything, hated carrying cash. Ethan was the opposite; he loved the tangible feel of money.
Part of him was relieved, and part of him was frightened. She hadn’t fled with cash in her pocket.
Call the police. You need to call the police. Something is wrong. The note, it could have been written under duress.
The other side of his mind said, just…assemble all the facts first.


Here's the tour schedule for Lie to Me, in case you want to follow along.


Excerpt Tour for LIE TO ME:

Monday, August 21st: Novel Gossip
Tuesday, August 22nd: Jathan & Heather
Wednesday, August 23rd: The Book Diva’s Reads
Thursday, August 24th: Broken Teepee
Friday, August 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, August 28th: Books and Spoons
Tuesday, August 29th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Wednesday, August 30th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, August 31st: Books a la Mode
Friday, September 1st: Moonlight Rendezvous






Monday, August 28, 2017

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

There are all kinds of stories about heroes, stories that say when others are running away, heroes run toward trouble. That's the best way I know to summarize Louise Penny's latest book, Glass Houses, and her lead character, Armand Gamache. Because of the unusual format of the book, it will take the reader quite a bit of time to understand that opening sentence.

The book opens with Gamache on the witness stand, identifying himself as Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Quebec. As the reader discovers, despite his position, Gamache could only warn the person on trial. Gamache slowly reveals a story that alternates between the courtroom and Three Pines, where all the action actually took place. 

It's a story that started at a Halloween party when a black robed figure appeared in the village. And, the day after the party, the mysterious figure was still there, a figure that seemed to accuse the villagers, to taunt them. They grew restless, and Gamache was forced to quiet an unruly crowd. But, what had the figure actually done? There was nothing Gamache could do except warn the anonymous person to be careful. Then the figure disappears, and a body is found. 

There is so much I would like to reveal about the black robed figure, about the story itself, about Gamache. But, when I summarize, because I never feel as if I review a Louise Penny novel, I never want to spoil the story. At some point when I read one of Penny's books, it ceases to be a book, and becomes a world. I'm drawn into the world of Three Pines, observing Gamache's actions just as the villagers do.

Louise Penny's books are always about the dark and the light, good and evil, what's hidden from the world. Gamache has a terrible decision to make in Glass Houses, and he dwells on conscience, and answering to a higher power. It's a decision that weighs on him, weighs on others. Make no mistake about it. When others are running away, heroes do run toward trouble. Count Armand Gamache and some of the other beloved characters in Glass Houses as heroes.

Louise Penny's website is www.louisepenny.com

Glass Houses by Louise Penny. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250066190 (hardcover), 391p.

*****
Note:  Read the Author's Note!

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

September Cozy Mysteries from Berkley

No Jinx this month. I'm sorry. He was on the table, and left before I started. Here's the video, though.






And, here are the five books I mentioned.

Pudding Up with Murder - Julia Buckley (3rd Undercover Dish Mystery)

Winter's Child - Margaret Coel (20th Wind River Mystery, 1st time in paperback)

Whispers of Warning - Jessica Estevao (2nd Change of Fortune Mystery)

Murder, She Wrote: Hook, Line, and Murder by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain & Renee Paley-Bain (46th Murder, She Wrote, 1st time in paperback)

A Tale of Two Kitties - Sofie Kelly (9th Magical Cats Mystery)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green

Why do I like Simon R. Green's books so much when they're creepy and violent? After reading his latest, Death Shall Come, I believe I have the answer. First, I'm a sucker for a locked room mystery, and all of the Ishmael Jones stories are locked room mysteries. Then, there's Ishmael Jones himself. He's an alien from outer space who crash landed on earth, but fights to protect humans. And, time after time, the evil isn't human, or not human as we recognize it. Sometimes, it's just nice to know all monsters are not human.

Ishmael Jones works for the Organization, a secret, powerful group. His latest case starts in the Egyptian rooms at the British Museum where he meets his regular contact, the Colonel. This time, the Colonel asks Ishmael to take on a personal case for him. He asks Ishmael to come to Cardavan House where the Cardavan family owns the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in private hands. The Colonel knows something is wrong, but the family is gathering to see George Cardavan's latest acquisition, a sarcophagus supposed to hold the body of the first Cleopatra. The Colonel requests Ishmael's help and expertise because he wants to protect his wife, George Cardavan's daughter.

Ishmael doesn't keep secrets from his partner and love, Penny Belcourt, so they set out for Cardavan House. Their job, as always, is to protect people from monsters, and solve mysteries. And, they're not at Cardavan House long before one of the family is killed. As Penny says, "A family gathering in a dark old house and a mummy with a curse on it...Someone was bound to be murdered!"

Of course someone was bound to be murdered. That's why Green's locked room puzzles are entertaining. There's always touches of humor. When Penny continues to mention that the mummy might be the killer, Ishmael asks, "You honestly think a shriveled -up two-thousand-year-old body killed a man and is currently wandering around the house?" The stories meet expectations, although there's always a twist. This time, that twist leads to one more clue about Ishmael's forgotten past.

A little history. A little humor. An alien from outer space as the detective. What more would anyone want from a locked-room mystery? Simon R. Green's Death Shall Come provides all those satisfying elements, although it's a little violent. But, murder isn't pretty, and neither are Green's stories.

Simon R. Green's website is www.simonrgreen.co.uk

Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green. Severn House. 2017. ISBN 9780727887214 (hardcover), 185p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Friday, August 25, 2017

Winners and a European Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Claire Booth's Another Man's Ground is going to Kevin T. from Dallas, TX. Margie B. from San Jose, CA won Linda Castillo's Down a Dark Road. The books will go in the mail today.

This week, our mysteries (ARCs) will take us off to Europe. Susan C. Shea takes us to France in Love & Death in Burgundy, the first in a new cozy series. It's not easy being an American expat living in a small village in Burgundy, even after three years. Elizabeth Goff just wants to be accepted. Maybe the death of the owner of the village chateau will finally help her fit in, as she's drawn into the small town's secrets. Which one of her neighbors might be a killer?





In G. M. Malliet's Devil's Breath, former MI5 agent turned cleric, Father Max Tudor, agrees to help when a former colleague asks for help. The body of a glamorous film star has washed ashore, and all the suspects where on a film director's yacht. Max has a classic "closed circle" murder, with all the backstabbing and secrets of Hollywood.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read either "Win Burgundy" or "Win Devil's Breath." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Aug. 31 at 5 PM CT.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! I love to read what you're all reading for the week. I'm halfway through a book that Jeff's going to love. It's a collection, The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers. It's broken into three sections, but I'm only partway through the second one. They are: "Joy to the World: Random Acts of Kindness at Christmas", "Silent Night: The Darkest of Holiday Noir", and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: And Other Holiday Secrets". That second section? There are some very dark stories, but that's why it's called "noir". Peter Lovesey wrote the foreword, and a perfect concluding story (I cheated and read it early). Authors include Tim Hallinan, Colin Cotterill, Stuart Nevill, Sujata Massey, Cara Black. There are eighteen stories in this outstanding collection. You have time to save your pennies. It comes out in October.


What are you reading this week? We want to see your lists!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Have You Heard? Juliet Blackwell's Give Up the Ghost

I may not be a listener of audio books, but I know some readers are. This week, as I'm working on deadline, you've had reviews of several audio books. Thank you, Sandie, for this review of Juliet Blackwell's book.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/615LEaqZbHL._AA300_.jpgGive Up the Ghost
Haunted Home Renovation series #6
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged audiobook
Listening Length: 7 hours and 51 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: December 1, 2015

There is a mansion in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, California known as the Crosswinds for sale at $29 million.  During renovation, pieces of the home were carelessly taken off in favor of newer items.  At least one ghost in the house is very upset that familiar items are gone and is making the same noises the items did.  For instance, the ghost makes the sounds of the squeaky weathervane which is now missing.  

The only reason the owners care is because the noises and screaming the ghosts are making are scaring away possible buyers of the house.  They hire a psychic named Chantelle to do a reading on the mansion.  She tells them that the renovation has upset the ghosts since so much was removed; she suggests they find some of those items and put them back from whence they came in an attempt to calm the ghosts.

The family contacts an expert home renovator - Mel Turner of Turner Construction - to get facsimiles or actual items returned to the house. The first thing Mel does is to contact Chantelle to find out what she learned about Crosswinds.  Upon Mel’s arrival at Chantelle's apartment, she sees the woman exit the apartment appearing very calm and floating down the hallway.  Upon entering the apartment, Mel finds a man standing over a female body with a bloody knife next to it.  Mel and this man are the first on the scene, so the man calls 911 and Mel calls the inspector she has become friends with over the course of many murders.  As they await the arrival of the authorities, Mel gets to know Chantelle's brother Landon.  He hadn't been very close to his sister, and now he regrets this even more.  

Meanwhile, Mel has a friend call her desperate for her ghost whispering skills.  After Mel visits the Historical Society, she has a better idea of who the ghost is and how to treat her.  Mel just won't take her antics.  For example since the ghost kept her kitchen drawers in perfect order, when she gets nasty with Mel, Mel dumps the silverware on the floor!  What follows is hilarious.

Despite the fact that they have met over a murder, Mel and Landon are getting to know each other.  He is in town to do a lecture series but is locked out of his sublet at first, staying at a nearby hotel.  They keep bumping into each other at Chantelle's place, at the police department, but mostly at Crosswinds.  He was impressed to see that the ghosts were real!

Juliet Blackwell has brought a mystery full of paranormal elements as well as construction and renovation details, lots of humor, a family who grows closer through tough love, and growing fondness where never expected.  She ties it together beautifully so nothing is out of place nor sticks out like a sore thumb.  The story moves along at a great pace.  While this is an entry in an ongoing series, Juliet Blackwell does an excellent job at reminding us who everyone from previous books is as well as clearly introducing the new characters. It is advised to read a series in order, but with a well-written series such as this one, it is not necessary.  However, each subsequent book in this series is enhanced by knowledge of what came before.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Family Trees

Blame my mother. She and my sister went to a genealogy workshop yesterday, and, once again, when I talked to Mom, I got caught up in going through our family tree. We have genealogy going back forever on my mom's side, from all of her family. My paternal grandmother's records go back forever.  It's my paternal grandfather's family that gets lost just a couple generations back. And, that's what hangs us up no matter what source I use.

So, last night, instead of finishing my book so I could write a review, I ended up spending two hours on websites, working on genealogy. Thanks, Mom!



(If you're interested in that sort of thing, Ancestry.com says I'm 65% from Great Britain, 14% Italy, Greece, 7% Eastern Europe, 5% Scandinavia, and less than 1% (with low confidence) West Asia. Although how that ends up on a map to show most of my relatives came over from Great Britain and Germany, I don't know. Actually, that's what we did know. They came from Great Britain and France/Germany.)

Do you get hooked on this stuff when you sit down to work on it?

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool by Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella

Okay, I tried it. I love the collected essays by Lisa Scottoline and her daughter, Francesca Serritella. They make me laugh, occasionally cry. But, they're always excellent glimpses at contemporary life. I have a friend who listens to the audio books, which are read by the authors. She's right in that it adds to the experience when you hear Lisa read the pieces in her South Philly accent. Each of the authors read their essays in  I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool.

I listened to three quarters of the book, but I just couldn't do it anymore. I'm finishing the book by reading it. My friend's right. The voices are wonderful. But, it just takes too long for me to listen to a book. I have a short commute to work. I might get through six essays going back and forth to the library. And, if I have another fifteen minutes to walk that day, I get through a couple more. I've been listening to this book for a week. And, it's fun.

But, I could have read this book in six hours. I'm not one to sit at home and listen to a book. And, I certainly don't clean the house, so I can't finish the audio book while I'm cleaning. I'm going to finish I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool by reading it, imaging the authors' reading each piece. I have just a couple hours of reading left.


Oh, and the book itself? Lisa has a snake in her garden. It's a recurring theme, along with her garden room. Only Lisa Scottoline can take tiny events in her life, tell it in episodes, and make you laugh. Of course, in the audio book, she adds the "sssss" sound when she talks about 'sssssnakes". Francesca Serritella's pieces usually aren't quite as funny, but they're certainly thoughtful pieces that do capture the exact moment in time. Her piece, "Anniversary", will stay with you, especially with recent events. And, both authors write (or talk) about last year's election.

Whether you choose to listen to the delightful recording by Scottoline and Serritella, or read the book, you'll get humor and a little nostalgia and thoughtful pieces in I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool.

Lisa Scottoline's website is www.scottoline.com

Francesca Serritella's website is www.francescaserritella.com

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere but the Pool by Lisa Scottoline & Francesca Serritella. St. Martin's Press, 2017. ISBN 9781250059963 (hardcover), 336p.

Audio book - Macmillan Audio. 2017. ISBN 9781427285904 (unabridged)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Have You Heard? - Keeper of the Castle by Juliet Blackwell

Today, Sandie Herron reviews one of Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation mysteries. Check out Keeper of the Castle.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/617KlKhU%2ByL._AA300_.jpgKEEPER OF THE CASTLE
Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series #5
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged audiobook
Listening Length: 7 hours and 57 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio, Release Date: Dec 2, 2014
ASIN: B00PWTDXTY

When I read that construction manager Mel Turner's boyfriend Graham was involved in the reconstruction of a Scottish castle in California, I knew Mel would be involved sooner or later.  Within the rising walls of the castle, construction workers were being scared away by a mysterious woman in red and chased by a knight in armor.  

Mel was called to visit the site because of her sensitivities to ghosts.  Since the site was in Marin county and a long commute from home in San Francisco, Mel was invited to stay over at the owner's plush mansion and retreat where he gave motivational talks and workshops.  

Mel discovered a beautiful but intensely sad female ghost in a round room.  Mel also witnessed a male Scottish ghost attacking or chasing anyone who approached.  When the knight saw Mel approach the woman, he began his chase but stopped when he realized Mel was not a man.  After long talks with many other witnesses and experts alike, Mel discovered what motivated the ghosts.  Avoidance of the round room quieted the ghosts immediately.   

Mel watched construction and made many helpful suggestions.  So many that when the current contractor left the job, Mel and Turner Construction were hired to take over.  This put Mel farther from home when trouble struck.  Could she go ahead with so many hands out-stretched to her?

I am immensely enjoying watching Mel grow and morph into the strong adult woman she already is but only now is she allowing her own opinion join with the others.  Her extended family also supports her.  New facets of her life are emerging, and some are disappearing; they all suit her.  

I read this title on audiobook so had the pleasure to listen to narrator Xe Sands further bring this story to life.  This series continues to delight.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Have You Heard? - Cat Shining Bright by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Actually, this is a book review today, not a review of an audio. But, Sandie Herron reviewed Shirley Rousseau Murphy's latest mystery, Cat Shining Bright, so it falls under "Have You Heard?" Check out Sandie's review.
Cat Shining Bright: A Joe Grey Mystery (Joe Grey Mystery Series Book 20) by [Murphy, Shirley Rousseau]
Cat Shining Bright
Written by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Series:  Joe Grey mystery #20
Publisher:  William Morrow
Published: August 15, 2017
ISBN:  0062460315 (ISBN13: 9780062460318)
*****  5 stars

CAT SHINING BRIGHT is about coming of age and changes in the lives of the magical sentient felines that live in Molena Point, California.  Joe Grey and his love Dulcie are marveling over the birth of their three kittens, two boys and a girl, waiting to see if they, too, will speak and read human language.  The boys Striker and Buffin are buff colored.  The third kitten, Courtney, is the calico female that Misto, the wise old yellow tomcat, had predicted would return from the lands in the Celtic myths.  

On the night of severe rain storms and howling winds, a car theft ring skulks through the village breaking into cars, driving those they can away and stealing any valuables left inside the cars they can’t start.  Felines Kit and Pan brave the storms and follow detectives from MPPD compiling a description of two thieves and observing their actions.   Joe Grey still enjoys his investigative work as snitch for the Molena Point Police Department but has cut his hours drastically to save more time for his family.  When he reads the newspaper account of the car thefts, Dulcie urges him to go be part of what he loves at MPPD.  Up until now the kittens had been sheltered from learning any bad news, but they latch onto these stories wanting to be part of detecting work too.

Unknown to Joe, the kittens sneak out of the house and follow him to MPPD.  They watch as Joe appears to sleep on the police captain’s desk, when he is actually stealing glances at reports and listening to detectives discuss the day’s events.  When the police chief’s wife calls 911 to report the shooting deaths of her beautician and a customer in the salon, Joe follows detectives toward the MPPD exit to head for the scene.  Just then, moving shadows alert him to the presence of his kittens!  He is mortified to see them there, but he is compelled to visit the crime scene.  Promising to stick close to Joe, the kittens follow him to the scene.  Dulcie has discovered the kittens missing from home and hears the sirens; she knows then where the kittens have gone.

Dulcie and the kittens are no longer safe at Wilma Getz’s home after a stranger lurking outside breaks in.  Wilma scares him away before knowing what he was after, but she suspects it is an ancient hand printed book on the wild sentient cats. Discovering who broke into Wilma’s home and why gets tangled together with investigations into the murders and car thefts.  Kit and Pan and the feral cat clowder are led to connections between the new cat shelter and its closest neighbor.  Shelter owner Kate Osborne and construction worker Scotty Flannery observe strange happenings near the shelter.   Joe Grey has a plan to tie everything together and entice the thieves out of hiding right into the arms of MPPD detectives.

This 20th entry in the charming Joe Grey series takes us deeper into the lives of human and feline residents of Molena Point.  Joe and Dulcie watch their kittens grow up and discover new passions and new alliances.  They know their trusted friends will help guide their kittens into their adult lives.

Highly recommended.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Winners & A Law Enforcement Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Sue F. from Crosslake, MN won Death on Nantucket. Andi D. from Phoenix, AZ will receive Shiver Hitch. The books are going out today.

This week, I'm giving away two ARCs featuring law enforcement. Claire Booth takes us to Branson, Missouri in Another Man's Ground. Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the owner was harvesting for the herbal supplement market. It's a distraction from Hank's political campaigning, a job he hates. But, then a group of illegal immigrants discovers a body deep in the woods. And, that case thrusts the sheriff into the middle of a generations-old feud.





Or, you could win Linda Castillo's Down a Dark Road. The best description for the book, without spoilers, comes from the back of the book. "Eight years ago Joseph King, a "fallen" Amish man, was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. Now King has escaped. Armed and desperate, he turns to Chief of Police Kate Burkholder to prove his innocence."

Which crime novel would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read either "Win Another Man's Ground" or "Win Down a Dark Road." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Aug. 24 at 5 PM CT.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What Are You Reading?

I'm deep into this month's reading for Library Journal, reading mysteries that come out October through December. Even so, I'm reading chapters of Martin Edwards' The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. It's fascinating history, and I'm making a list of books I want to read. I also read Louise Penny's forthcoming Gamache novel, Glass Houses. Her books continue to be unbelievable. She's such a wonderful writer. I'm not even going to say anything about the story until I review the book here.


So, what are you reading this week? I'll check back to see throughout the day, and I know others will be checking back, too. Please share!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler

Twenty years after the last book in David Handler's series featuring Stewart "Hoagy" Hoag and his basset hound, Lulu, the author brings them back. The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes is set in 1992 when Hoagy is still pining for his ex-wife, actress Merilee Nash. He's still ghostwriting celebrity memoirs. He's still as cynical as ever.

Author Richard Aintree disappeared after his wife committed suicide, leaving behind his two teenage daughters. One went on to become a Hollywood celebrity after writing two tell-all memoirs. The other, Reggie, was the love of Hoagy's life before he met Merilee. But, the two were destructive together, and it was only when he left Reggie that Hoagy was able to write his literary masterpiece.  Merilee knows Hoagy never forgot Reggie. When Hoagy's literary agent wants him to work with Richard's daughter, Monette, to ghostwrite Aintree's memoir, Merilee encourages him to take the job.

From beginning to end, this job is a mess. Hoagy can't stand Monette's agent. He finds Reggie just as strange as ever. And, once he flies to Hollywood, he's in the midst of Monette's lifestyle, with paparazzi at the gates, Monette's cheating, drug-addicted husband calling, and attempts on his life. When there's a shooting at a birthday party at Monette's house, neither Hoagy nor his police lieutenant friend believe the confession of the supposed killer. Everyone is a suspect.

Publishing fans encouraged Handler to bring back Hoagy and Lulu. The story reminds me of detective novels of the '40s and '50s, when the detective was cynical and the women were bad. It felt dated, but that's only my opinion. I'm sure fans of the series will welcome the return of several of their favorite characters in The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes.

David Handler's website is www.davidhandlerbooks.com

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler. William Morrow. 2017. ISBN 9780062412843 (paperback), 288p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dog Dish of Doom by E.J. Copperman

Anyone who appreciates E.J. Copperman's sense of humor will "lap up" the wit and hilarity in his first Agent to the Paws mystery, Dog Dish of Doom. He combines one-liners, dry humor and a great cast of characters, beginning with the narrator, Kay Powell.

Kay is the daughter of actors, so she understands show business, the performers, the schedules. If she could only deal with her clients, she'd be happy. But, she has to deal with their owners. Kay Powell is an agent for animal performers. Here's a law school graduate with show business experience herself, and a love of animals. She's found the perfect dog to star as the new Sandy in a long-running production of Annie. It's Bruno's owner who isn't so perfect. During try-outs, Trent Barclay gets into an argument with the director he considers a hack, Les McMaster. Les hires Bruno, but stipulates that Trent isn't allowed in the theater. When Trent's wife finds him face down in Bruno's dog dish that night, with a knife in his back, that's no longer a problem. Kay just hopes it's easier to work with Louise Barclay.

Instead, she finds herself handling an emotionally unstable woman while trying to save Bruno's career. And, then she's trying to save Bruno himself. All kinds of people seem to want her to hand Bruno over to them. It's not that she doesn't want to give up her commission. She doesn't want to see the lovable dog in the wrong hands. And, those hands may belong to a killer.

This is a cast of characters made for show business and a hilarious mystery. Kay is the straight man while dealing with her aging parents. Because they're on hiatus from their jobs on a cruise ship, Kay's father is auditioning senior performers in her house, while planning his next role - detective to investigate Trent's murder. And, unfortunately, the brusque homicide detective falls right in with her father, asking for Kay's help. Show business. Kay Powell knows show business and animals, not crime investigations.

Copperman's first Agent to the Paws mystery, Dog Dish of Doom, was refreshing and funny. Looking for something entertaining? This is it.

E.J. Copperman's website is http://www.ejcopperman.com

Dog Dish of Doom by E.J. Copperman. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250084279 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver by Lynda Schuster

Lynda Schuster's memoir, Dirty Wars and Polished Silver, is a story of a changing life, much of it spent in war zones. Ironically, Schuster's second marriage to a career diplomat was meant as a change from her career as a war correspondent. However, even then, she ended up in war zones. This is a fascinating story, told by a skilled writer, about two worlds most of us never experience.

In the 1970s, seventeen-year-old Lynda Schuster fled from her family life in Detroit. Her parents had divorced. Lynda didn't get along with her mother, and her father was living in London. She used a visit to her father as a way to arrive at her final destination, a kibbutz in Israel where she was a volunteer in a work/study program. The Golan Heights came under attack while she was there. "The thing about war - as long as you're not dying - is that it's oddly exhilarating." Despite fear at times, Schuster learned to live with that exhilaration.

After grad school, and a job with the Jerusalem Post, Schuster ended up at the Wall Street Journal. After one year, she became a correspondent for them, ending up covering wars in Central America. They sent her to several war zones, while asking her to cover the business of the countries, not the wars. In fact, when she went to El Salvador, she was told, "Don't bother dying down there. We wouldn't even appreciate the kind of story that could get you killed."

Lynda Schuster's story is also about the two men she loved, one a journalist who shared her knowledge of war zones, the other a career diplomat. Ironically, when she married the man who became the deputy ambassador in Monrovia, Liberia, she thought it would keep her away from war. Instead, she ended up in the thick of it. And, they went on to posts in Mozambique and Peru when he was appointed ambassador. The girl from Detroit, a war correspondent, panicked when she became an ambassador's wife.

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver is a story only Schuster could write. It's riveting, sometimes funny, sometimes touching. The scene with the frogs and a tennis racket is unforgettable. But Schuster also saw and experienced heartbreaking moments. She's written a compelling story of world history as it affected and changed her life.

Dirty Wars and Polished Silver by Lynda Schuster. Melville House. 2017. ISBN 9781612196343 (hardcover), 326p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to participate in the TLC blog tour.

Here's the list of the blog tour stops.


Lynda Schuster’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 14thLesa’s Book Critiques
Tuesday, August 15thDwell in Possibility
Wednesday, August 16thRun Wright
Monday, August 21st5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, August 24thDiary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, August 28thI Brought A Book
Friday, September 1stJathan & Heather
Thursday, September 7thBroken Teepee – Spotlight
Monday, September 11thPatricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, September 13thBooks & Bindings
Monday, September 18thSuzy Approved
Wednesday, September 20thKahakai Kitchen