Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen, 290 pages

In the new Royal Spyness Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Crowned and Dangerous, Lady Georgiana Rannoch juggles secret missions from the Queen, Darcy, and her mother. But it’s all in a day’s work when you’re thirty-fifth in line to the British Crown. 

When Darcy runs off on another secret assignment, I am left to figure out how to travel to Italy sans maid and chaperone to help my dear friend Belinda, as she awaits the birth of her baby alone. An opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way—my cousin the queen is in need of a spy to attend a house party in the Italian lake country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.

What luck! A chance to see Belinda and please the queen as I seek her permission to relinquish my claim to the throne so I can marry Darcy. Only that’s as far as my good fortune takes me. I soon discover that Mummy is attending the villa party and she has her own secret task for me. Then, Darcy shows up and tells me that the fate of a world on the brink of war could very well depend on what I overhear at dinner! I shouldn’t be all that surprised when one of my fellow guests is murdered and my Italian holiday becomes a nightmare...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead, 374 pages

From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the absorbing story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II—told in full for the first time.
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ard├Ęche, one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of this tiny mountain village and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, OSS and SOE agents, and Jews. Many of those they protected were orphaned children and babies whose parents had been deported to concentration camps.
With unprecedented access to newly opened archives in France, Britain, and Germany, and interviews with some of the villagers from the period who are still alive, Caroline Moorehead paints an inspiring portrait of courage and determination: of what was accomplished when a small group of people banded together to oppose their Nazi occupiers. A thrilling and atmospheric tale of silence and complicity, Village of Secrets reveals how every one of the inhabitants of Chambon remained silent in a country infamous for collaboration. Yet it is also a story about mythmaking, and the fallibility of memory.
A major contribution to WWII history, illustrated with black-and-white photos, Village of Secrets sets the record straight about the events in Chambon, and pays tribute to a group of heroic individuals, most of them women, for whom saving others became more important than their own lives.

Fools Rush In by Ed Gorman, 329 pages

It's 1963. All spring, Freedom Riders have been facing police dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama. While no one is marching in Black River Falls, Iowa, attorney Sam McCain's sleepy heartland town is showing signs of racial unease nonetheless. A black college student has turned up dead. Close by him in the woods outside of town lies a second victim: a white local photographer. All the evidence points to blackmail, and to a scandal that could ruin the reelection campaign of the very white Senator Lloyd Williams.....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

American Gods by Neil Gaiman, 541 pages

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow's best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday's bodyguard, driver and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined-it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies, that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing- an epic war for the very soul of America-and that he is standing squarely in the path.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury, 340 pages

When Richard Tapper Cadbury sent his son to London to study cocoa in the early nineteenth century, he could not have imagined what lay in store; within a generation, his grandson Richard and George had created a chocolate company to rival the world's confectionery powerhouses.
The Cadbury brothers were staunch Quakers, as determined to improve the lives of their employees as they were produce a popular product that would seal their success. Their company soon became the largest of its kind-but in the new millennium, Cadburys too would face a threat to its very survival, culminating in a multi-billion pound showdown.
Featuring a dazzling cast of characters, Chocolate Wars tells the tale of a unique family and a beloved product, in a history unlike any other.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond, 414 pages

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice's prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense.
Always answer when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter....
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Ed Gorman, 301 pages

Late October of 1962 is certainly not dull; not with Russian premier Khrushchev threatening to launch nuclear missiles from Cuba if the U.S. attempts an invasion there. The Kennedy White House has been facing down the Soviets with an ultimatum, but the Russian warships are steady on their course to Cuba. In Black River Falls, Iowa, frightened townspeople are gathering in churches to pray for peace. And Ross Murdoch, the popular gubernatorial candidate, is laying in supplies for his newly built bomb shelter. It's a place you don't expect to find a corpse. At least young lawyer and sometimes private investigator Sam McCain doesn't-no more than he expects his four prime suspects to be pillars of the community.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw, 385 pages

Dr. Greta Helsing has inherited the family's highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. She treats the undead for a host of ills-vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entrops in mummies.
It's a quite supernatural-adjacent life, until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must user her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice-and her life.

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess, 323 pages

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’ bestselling, beloved mystery series.
Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—"Murder"—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: "Judas." Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.
It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for Emerson—Where were you?"—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.
But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Amarna, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.
For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Panicked Premonition by Victoria Laurie, 353 pages

Professional psychic and FBI consultant Abby Cooper has used her visions to get her out of many a scrape-and solve many a crime-but she's about to face a murder scene that will put all her powers to the test. Abby's husband, Dutch, has a side business providing security and building panic rooms for wealthy clients. One morning, one of Dutch's partners, Dave, goes missing on his way to meet a client. Abby's instincts tell her something terrible has happened to him.
Then two of Dutch's clients are found brutally murdered inside their brand-new panic room, and most of the evidence points to Dave as the killer. With the authorities racing to find and arrest him, Abby's got to use all her intuitive prowess to get to Dave first, discover the real killer, and save her husband's business. This is one case where Abby is positive there's far more to this mystery than meets her inner eye...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, 298 pages

Every woman has a secret life.... Nikki, a modern daughter of Indian immigrants, has spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father's death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London's close-knit Punjabi community.
The proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn English, not short-story writing. When one of the widow finds a book of erotica and shares with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories that they've held in for far too long. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected-and exciting-kind.
As the class grows, a group called the Brothers, who have appointed themselves Southall's "moral police," threaten to reveal the class's scandalous stories and the mysterious secrets lurking beneath this seemingly sedate, tight-knit community.

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg, 305 pages

The year is 1914. Joanna Blalock's keen mind and incredible insight lead her to become a highly skilled nurse, one of the few professions that allow her to use her finely tuned brain. But when she and her ten-year-old son witness a man fall to his death, apparently by suicide, they are visited by the elderly Dr. John Watson and his charming, handsome son, Dr. John Watson, Jr. Impressed by her forensic skills, they invite her to become the third member of their investigative team.
Caught up in a Holmesian mystery that spans from hidden treasure to the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, Joanna and her companions must devise an ingenious plan to catch a murderer in the act while dodging familiar culprits, Scotland Yard, and members of the British aristocracy. Unbeknownst to her, Joanna harbors a mystery of her own. The product of a one-time assignation between the now-dead Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outwit the famous detective, Joanna has unknowingly inherited her parents' deductive genius.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Everybody's Somebody's Fool by Ed Gorman, 230 pages

When a beautiful corpse is found in a gazebo during a class reunion party, lawyer Sam McCain hopes to avoid involving himself in the ensuing complexities. However, the victim is the troubled daughter of a prominent family, and when local bad boy David Egan is accused of her murder, McCain finds himself saddled with a new client . . .and another tale of small-town murder in Black River Falls, Iowa.
But McCain's heartbreaking, drag-racing client dies a fiery death in a car crash -- an accident that becomes murder when it's discovered the car's brake lines were cut. Working to clear Egan's name, McCain follows a trail of shattered dreams, cheating spouses and dark secrets to a third body lying lifeless in a bath, and to a tale of murder that embraces the vast human emotions that drive lovers to love . . .and killers to kill.

Ages of Oz: A Fiery Friendship by Lisa Fiedler, 418 pages

The Glinda you thought you knew, in an Oz you never imagined.
On her Declaration Day, a day meant for celebration and happiness, Glinda finds her peaceful life in Oz shattered when her mother is imprisoned for practicing forbidden magic. As she is ripped from her home by a fearsome bounty hunter sent by Aphidina, the Witch of the South, Glinda soon uncovers a startling truth: The Oz she's always thought was good and right is actually not-it's a world governed by the wickedest of the wicked, overrun with tyranny, corruption, and dark power. And Glinda's mother? She is actually a high-ranking member of a secret society whose mission is to overthrow the four Wicked Witches and set the stage for the return of the rightful ruler of Oz.
With the help of a feisty, purple-haired girl named Locasta, Glinda sets across the unforgiving landscape to rescue her mother. They are soon joined by Ben-a revolutionary New Yorker-and a mysterious girl called Shade. Armed with their individual gifts, these unlikely heroes mount an epic attack on Aphidina to free Glinda's mother...and save the future of Oz from the Wickeds before it's too late.

Gone Gull by Donna Andrews, 295 pages

Meg is spending the summer at the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center, helping her grandmother Cordelia run the studio. But someone is committing acts of vandalism, threatening to ruin the reputation of the newly opened center. Is it the work of a rival center? Have the developers who want to build a resort atop Biscuit Mountain found a new tactic to pressure Cordelia into selling? Or is the real target Meg's grandfather, who points out that any number of environmentally irresponsible people and organizations could have it in for him?
While Meg is trying to track down the vandal, her grandfather is more interested in locating a rare gull. Their missions collide when a body is found in one of the classrooms. Can Meg identify the vandal and the murderer in time to save the center's name while helping her grandfather track down and rescue his beloved gull?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

They Also Served by Olga Gruhzit-Hoyt, 279 pages

This is the first book of its kind - examining the crucial role these women played in World War II. Here are the intimate accounts of twenty-eight servicewomen, many of whom risked their lives during the war. These and others were the pioneers of what decades later would become the Women's Revolution. Olga Gruhzit-Hoyt contacted hundreds of organizations, veterans groups, and individual women who told their stories in interviews, letters, and accounts written especially for this important book. These women came from farms, universities, small-town America, and big cities.

The High King by Lloyd Alexander, 285 pages

In this magnificent finale to the chronicles of Prydain, the whole land is the stage for the ultimate clash between the forces of good and evil which determines the fate of Prydain and of Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper who wanted to be a hero.
The last and greatest quest of Taran and his companions begins when the sword Drnywn, the most powerful weapon in the kingdom, falls into the hands of Arawn Death-Lord, threatening Prydain with annihilation. Taran and Prince Gwydion raise an army to march against Arawn's terrible cohorts, human and inhuman, in a decisive struggle which may be their last. After a winter march filled with danger, the challenge of battle and the tragedy of defeat, love and sorrow. Taran and his army finally arrive at the very portal of Annuvin, Arawn's stronghold and, ultimately, to a decision for Taran that is the most crucial of his life.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls: The Dastardly Deed by Holly Grant, 333 pages

Join the League . . .

After their narrow escape from a NEFARIOUS kidnapping ring, Anastasia, Ollie, and Quentin (a.k.a. The League of Beastly Dreadfuls!) are looking forward to a relaxing vacation from DANGER! INTRIGUE! CATASTROPHE! Sadly, they’re not going to get one.

Because Anastasia makes the SHOCKING discovery that her family is at the heart of a centuries-old scandal—a SCANDAL that began with THE DASTARDLY DEED. Before you can say “Bob’s your uncle,” the Dreadfuls have another MYSTERY to solve: the Case of the Missing Grandfather. Can our INTREPID LEAGUE track down Anastasia’s Vanished Gramps? Gentle Reader, BEWARE! The trail of clues leads to spine-tingling surprises. (Catastrophe! Magic! Opera! Stinky cheese! Science fairs!) Read on if you DARE!

Grave Consequences by Dana Cameron, 357 pages

Archaeologist Emma Fielding is beginning to doubt the wisdom of spending her vacation in England helping friends excavate a twelfth-century abbey, especially when they uncover an all-too-modern skeleton in a nearby medieval graveyard. But it's the second discovery--of a murdered graduate student recently missing from the dig--that suggests to Emma that Marchester isn't exactly the quiet riverside town that it appears to be. There are dark passions and lethal secrets buried here, heinous crimes that shake the conflicted community to its core. And it's up to Emma, an outsider far from home, to delve into a past that too many people--including her friends--would do anything to hide.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Tales Behind the Tombstones by Chris Enss, 207 pages

A crumbling headstone in the cemetery at Bodie, California, memorializes Rosa May, a prostitute still known for caring for the sick. In Deadwood, South Dakota, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, infamous to the end, lie interred side by side, per Jane's last request. And at the top of Lookout Mountain in Colorado lies the greatest western showman of all time, Buffalo Bill Cody, his grave site visited by thousands every year.
Simple stones, roadside crosses, and grand monuments commemorate the lives of those ordinary citizens and larger-than-life characters who tamed the Wild West and exemplified its greatest myths. In Tales Behind the Tombstones, author Chris Enss shares the stories behind their lives, deaths and burials.
Every college break, my daughter comes home, picks out library books that she never reads but I end up enjoying. This break was no different.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tulipomania, The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions it Aroused by Mike Dash, 297 pages

In 1630s Holland thousands of people, from the wealthiest merchants to the lowliest street traders, were caught up in a frenzy of buying and selling. The objects of the speculation was not oil or gold, but the tulip, a delicate and exotic bloom that had just arrived from the East.
Over three years rare tulip bulbs changed hands for sums that would have bought a house in Amsterdam. Fortunes were made overnight, but then lost when, within a year, the market collapsed-with disastrous consequences.
Mike Dash recreates the bizarre episode, tracing the tulip's story from its origins on the Turkish steppes to its arrival in Europe. He follows the hysterical boom and devastating bust, beautifully evoking Holland's Golden Age.
This was an interesting read but I now compare these type of books to Kurlansky's books and this didn't quite measure up. But I'm still glad I picked it up.

Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander, 272 pages

Taran has been both Assistant Pig-Keeper and warrior, but his heart is troubled. Who are his parents? Where does he come from? In a quest to learn who he truly is. Taran travels Prydain seeking secrets long buried by time and silence.
Accompanied by his loyal friends, Taran begins his search. Maybe, if his parents are noble as he hopes, Princess Eilonwy with the red-gold hair will think as often and as fondly of Taran as he finds himself thinking of her.
I've read this series once before years ago and was compelled to read it again after one of my book clubs read the first one. I've enjoyed it, but with with overtones of apprehension because I know what's coming in the last book.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Crossing the Heart of Africa by Julian Smith, 325 pages

In 1898 the dashing British adventurer Ewert Grogan fell head-over-heels in love---but before he could marry, he needed the approval of his beloved's skeptical, aristocratic stepfather. Grogan, seeking to prove his worth and earn his love's hand, then set out on an epic quest to become the first man to cross the entire length of Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo, " a feat hitherto thought by many explorers to be impossible."
A little more than a century later, American journalist Julian Smith also found himself madly in love with his girlfriend of seven years...but he was terrified by the prospect of marriage. inspired by Grogan's story, which he discovered by chance, Smith decided to face his fears of commitment by retracing the explorer's amazing---but now forgotten---4,500-mile journey for love and glory through Africa.

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats, 278 pages

High-spirited young Jane is excited to be part of Mr. Mercer’s plan to bring Civil War widows and orphans to Washington Territory—but life out west isn’t at all what she expected.

Washington Territory is just the place for men of broad mind and sturdy constitution—and girls too, Jane figures, or Mr. Mercer wouldn’t have allowed her to come on his expedition to bring unmarried girls and Civil War widows out west.

Jane’s constitution is sturdy enough. She’s been taking care of her baby brother ever since Papa was killed in the war and her young stepmother had to start working long days at the mill. The problem, she fears, is her mind. It might not be suitably broad because she had to leave school to take care of little Jer. Still, a new life awaits in Washington Territory, and Jane plans to make the best of it.

Except Seattle doesn’t turn out to be quite as advertised. In this rough-and-tumble frontier town, Jane is going to need every bit of that broad mind and sturdy constitution—not to mention a good sense of humor and a stubborn streak a mile wide.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Save the Last Dance For Me by Edward Gorman, 230 pages

As Black River Falls, Iowa, prepares for a presidential election campaign visit from Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon, Reverend John Muldaur is stirring up the town with both his anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic circulars and his snake-handling ceremonies. When Muldaur drops dead on his altar, however, it's not from a snakebite but from strychnine-laced Pepsi. With only a week before her good friend Tricky Dick comes to town, Judge Esme Whitney enlists her friend the struggling lawyer and occasional investigator Sam McCain to prevent the population of Black River Falls from looking like "a bunch of hillbillies." Once again, McCain must confront local prejudices, secrets, and dim-witted police chief Cliffe Sykes, Jr. to solve another small-town mystery in the acclaimed series launched with The Day the Music Died.

The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander, 206 pages

Princess Eilonwy has accompanied Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, on all his adventures. But a princess needs special skills that can only be learned in a royal household, so she travels to the Island of Mona to begin her proper education. As it turns out, court life isn't as boring as it seems to the unwilling princess-friends and enemies appear in many guises, and danger hides in every corner. When Eilonwy disappears and disturbing rumors about the evil enchantress Achren surface, Tara and his companions undertake an exciting and terrifying mission to rescue their princess. But will Taran battle to save Eilonwy's life only to lose her in the end?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, 495 pages

"The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love
French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Soeur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...
After Margherita's father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.
Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.
Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together""the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.
"

Ladyhawke by Joan Vinge, 252 pages

The spell of vengeance had been cast upon Etienne Navarre, Captain of the Guard, and the beautiful Lady Isabeau by the evil Bishop of Aquila. Etienne and Isabeau must wander the wilderness, always together yet always apart-she a hawk by day and restored to herself only with the setting of each day's sun; he a wolf by night, transformed once more into human form at break of each day's dawn. This eternal spell is their punishment for daring to love after the evil Bishop had already chosen Isabeau for his own. Then, suddenly, Etienne receives an unexpected sign of hope in the person of Phillipe, a young and cunning thief...and Navarre knows he must seize this fearful opportunity to free them from the Bishop's diabolical spell-or bring them death...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Deadfall by Linda Fairstein, 385 pages

 A wild heart beats within New York City. Amid concrete and skyscrapers, the Wildlife Conservation Society works to preserve and protect the animal kingdom both within and beyond the borders of the
five boroughs. But dangerous creatures don't always have claws and fangs, as Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper and NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace know all too well. Predators lurk close to home, and in the aftermath of the shocking drive-by murder of an important city employee someone Alex has worked with for years the trio must discover who the bigger snake is: the killer or the victim.

Investigations into the death provide more questions than answers, as a tangled mess of secrets slowly comes to light. From bribes to secret societies, from big-game hunting to the illegal animal trade, from New York City zoos to behind closed doors in government buildings, Alex will have her work cut out for her if she wants to uncover the truth and uphold the integrity of the office she has so proudly served.

That Quail, Robert by Margaret Stanger, 128 pages

The perennially bestselling and acclaimed classic of the little bird who preferred human companionship to other quail. This was recommended by a library patron and was a sweet and interesting read.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Site Unseen by Dana Cameron, 340 pages

Brilliant, dedicated, and driven, archaeologist Emma Fielding finds things that have been lost for hundreds of years-and she's very, very good at it. A soon-to-be-tenured professor, she has recently unearthed evidence of a seventeenth-century coastal Maine settlement that predates Jamestown, one of the most significant archaeological finds in years. But the dead body that accompanies it has embroiled Emma and her students in a different kind of exploration. With her reputation suddenly in jeopardy-due to the ruthless machinations of a disgruntled rival-and a second suspicious death, heartbreakingly close to home, Emma must unearth a killer among the relics. But that means digging deep to get to dark secrets buried in the heart of the archaeological community-which, in turn, could bury Emma Fielding.

Death in the Pot by Morton Satin, 258 pages

Did King Louis XIV and her courtesans harbor more parasites than common street urchins? Did food poisoning play a role int he Salem witch trials, leading to the hanging of nineteen men and women? Which poison recently laced the food of Russian ex-KGB agent Viktor Yushchenko, and how did it kill him? In Death in the Pot, internationally renowned food expert Morton Satin documents several culinary mishaps and misdeeds in an engrossing narrative that spans from the ancient world to the present day.
Historic events both tragic and bizarre have resulted from adulterated food. In the fifth century BCE, the great plague of Athens, probably caused by contaminated cereals, led to the defeat of the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War. In the prescientific Middle Ages, illnesses resulting from spoiled food were often attributed to the wrath of God or malevolent spirits. Heavily infectious ergot induced a spasmodic muscle condition, which the Church named "St. Anthony's Fire" and interpreted as retribution by God on unbelievers. Similarly, in seventeenth-century America, the hallucinogenic symptoms of moldy grain were thought by Puritans to be signs of witchcraft. Even the madness of King George, which influenced the outcome of the American Revolution, may have been induced by accidental arsenic poisoning.
Moving into more modern times, Satin recounts the story of "Ginger Jake", a Prohibition-era concoction that left a string of customers paralyzed. The secret ingredient-Lindol, used in hydraulic systems and to prepare lacquers. This is one of the many instances that led to efforts by industrial societies to make food supplies safer; in some cases, these efforts were heroic. For example, in the early days of the FDA a "Poison Squad" was formed, consisting of young scientists who willing acted as guinea pigs to test the toxic effects of chemical additives. Satin concludes by describing the measures taken to protect the public and the food supply against possible bioterrorism attacks.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dew on the Grass by Eiluned Lewis, 186 pages

This was my latest "vintage book" from Bookishly, which sends me old paperbacks from England every month. This one was about a little girl's life in Wales and was a really sweet read. Plus, it was cool to have an old Penguin that came out 70 years ago in England. I love the history of it.

The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant, 294 pages

Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she's rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she's taken to their delightful and, er, "authentic" Victorian home, St. Agony's Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
There, Anastasia's aunties give her everything a girl could want: a cozy room (is that a chamber pot under the bed?), sumptuous meals (mmmmm......Mystery Lumps!), and character-building responsibilities (catching leeches!).
But something STRANGE is going on at the asylum. Are those attack poodles in the garden? Is it ODD that her aunties wear the same ring as the EVIL school secretary? And why, for goodness' sake, do they collect pictures of MISSING children?
Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are NOT who they say they are. So when she meets Quentin and Ollie, two mysterious brothers, the three join to plot their great escape!

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander, 180 pages

In the imaginary land of Prydain, where "evil is never distant," Prince Gwydion faces dangers more threatening than have ever been dreamed of. It has become imperative that the Black Cauldron, chief implement of the evil powers of Arawn, lord of the Land of Death, be destroyed.
For each of the warriors chosen to journey to Arawn's domain, the quest has special meaning. To Ellidyr, the youngest son of an impoverished king, it means a chance to satisfy his bitter longing for fame. For Adaon, beloved for his gentleness and bravery, the quest is an omen whose significance he dreads to discover. And to Tara, Assistant Pig-Keeper, the adventure seems a glorious opportunity to wear his first sword, and be a man among men.
In this story, filled with great sacrifice and great adventure, each warrior fulfills his destiny in ways entirely unforeseen.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander, 190 pages

Taran is bored with his Assistant Pig-Keeper duties, even though his charge is none other than Hen Wen, Prydain's only oracular pig. He'd rather be doing something more heroic, like making swords and learning to use them.
When Hen Wen escapes and Taran goes after her, he finds himself farther from home than he's ever been. Soon he begins to realize that heroism is no easy task. With the dreaded Horned King on the loose and King Arawn gathering the forces of evil, Taran must look past his own dreams to warn the population of Prydain-before it's too late.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore, 479 pages

The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty and the wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Hundreds of girls paint watch faces amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive-until they begin to fall mysterious ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects and the women's cries of corruption. As the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early twentieth century and a groundbreaking battle for workers rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breathneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminate the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium and their strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombings, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
I really enjoyed this book. It was fascinating and kept me engrossed the whole time.

The Ladies' Lending Library by Janice Keefer, 355 pages

It is August of 1963, the year of the Taylor/Burton film epic Cleopatra, showcasing a passion too grand to be contained on the movie screen. The women of the Kalyna Beach cottage community gather for gin and gossip, trading the current racy bestsellers among themselves as they seek a brief  escape from the predictable rhythms of children and chores. But dramatic change is coming this summer as innocence falters and the desire for change reaches a boiling point, threatening to disrupt the warm, sweet, heady days and the lives of parents and children, family and friends, forever.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by Edward Gorman, 280 pages

Local Iowans and the national press corps crowd the front yard of Roswell Garst's farmhouse in Black River Falls. Gathered this Monday in September 1959 for the much-publicized visit of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, many brandish signs shouting BETTER DEAD THAN RED. The next day that slogan assumes a prophetic truth for Richard Conners, a high-profile leftist political writer. He turns up dead at the office of fledgling lawyer and private investigator Sam McCain with a hammer and sickle painted on his forehead. Everyone surmises Conners was killed for his politics...but McCain is not so sure.
This isn't my favorite series, but isn't bad. I think what I find off-putting is how much the author wants you to know when it took place because every page seems to have some pop culture reference from that time or such. I get it, Elvis was a singer at that time, let it go!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fellside by M. R. Carey, 486 pages

Fellside is a maximum-security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.
It's a place where even the walls whisper. And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess. Will she listen?
This was written by the same author of "The Girl With All the Gifts". I was thinking it would be along the same lines but was really different except for the fact that it was dark, depressing, and not really a feel good ending. I want to see what Rebecca Dudley thinks of this book knowing how much she liked the other.

The Sixth Gun, Volume 1: Cold Dead Fingers by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt, 170 pages

THIS IS NOT THE OLD WEST AS WE KNOW IT.

In the passing shadow of the Civil War, defiant Confederate General Oleander Hume waits to be let loose, too evil and warped to die, too mad with bloodlust to let go of his black magic.

He hungers for his lost and most precious possession, an ancient weapon of foreboding doom. Having fallen into the hands of an innocent girl, this last and most powerful of six revolvers is the key to unlocking unstoppable power.

But before General Hume, with his wicked bride and four twisted horsemen, can summon an army of undead to claim what is his, in his path stands Drake Sinclair--a gunslinger playing with cards close to his chest.

However, Sinclair is no white knight and is himself on the hunt for the six guns...


This is one that I would have never picked up except for the fact that it was this month's book for Comics and Cocktails. It was different, dark but an interesting read. I'm tempted to read the next one.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Just Clause by Lorna Barrett, 306 pages

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne'er-do-well father, John, comes to town-and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia's faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time.
But what about bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson? Is it a coincidence that he arrived for a book signing just before the crime or that the victim was found with a signed copy of his latest bestseller?
From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up ruins Stoneham's first-and highly anticipated-wine and jazz festival.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, 331 pages

Long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, Neil Gaiman now turns his attention to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. Staying true to the myths, he envisions the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high; Thor, Odin's might son; and Loki, the trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. As Gaiman's deft and witty prose breathes life into their stories, the gods emerge with fiercely competitive natures and a tendency to let passion ignite their actions.

Wicked Women of Missouri by Larry Wood, 137 pages

Marauders like Jesse James and the Younger gang earned Missouri the title of the "Outlaw State," but the male desperadoes had nothing on their female counterparts. Belle "Queen of the Bandits" Starr and Cora Hubbard kept Missouri's sensationalist newspapers and dime novelists in business with exploits ranging from horse thefts to bank heists. Missouri native Ma Barker and her murderous sons rose to infamy during the gangster era of the 1930s while Bonnie Parker crisscrossed the state with Clyde Barrow. From savvy burlesque dancers to deadly gold diggers, historian Larry Wood chronicles the titillating stories of ten of the Show Me State's shadiest ladies.

Memoirs of a Sword-Swallower by Daniel Mannix, 230 pages

Memoirs of a Sword Swallower is Daniel P. Mannix's autobiography as a sword-swallower with a traveling sideshow, illustrated with photos from the 30s and 40s taken by the author. An example of Classic Americana, this book offers a portrayal of a vanished world of working-class performance artists who earned a living by their unique bodies and imaginations. Stars include the Fat Lady, the human beanpole, the Ostrich man who ate broken glass, and many more. The "tricks" behind eating fire and swallowing swords are explicated with clarity and candor. This book will appeal to all who speculate about the outer limits of pain, pleasure, and revulsion.
I've always been fascinated by freak shows and human oddities and it was interesting to read about this entry into the field towards the end of the heyday.

Our Bodies, Our Shelves by Rosalind Warren, 126 pages

There are eight million stories at your local public library -- and not all of them are in the books! Join humorist Roz Warren (“the world’s funniest librarian”) for a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at library life. What really goes on behind the circulation desk? And in the stacks? Roz, who writes for everyone from the New York Times to the Funny Times, tells all! What’s the single most stolen item in any public library? What’s the strangest bookmark ever left in a library book? What’s the lamest excuse ever given for not returning a DVD on time? And what does your favorite librarian REALLY think of you? In twenty entertaining essays, you’ll meet librarians fighting crime, partying with porn stars, coping with impossible patrons, locating hard-to-find books and saving the world. The most closely guarded library secrets will be revealed. You‘ll never look at your local public library the same way again!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Assistants by Camille Perri, 282 pages

Rule #1: All important men have assistants. Rule #2: Men rule the world. Still. Rule #3: There is enough money. There is so much money.

Tina Fontana is a thirty-year-old executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the CEO of Titan Corp., a multinational media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss—but after six years of making reservations and pouring drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, the glamour of working for a media company in New York has completely faded, but her student loan debt has not.

When a technical error with Robert’s expense report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off the entire balance of her loans with what would essentially be pocket change for her boss, she hesitates. She’s always played by the rules, but this would be a life-changer. As Tina begins to fall down the rabbit hole of her morally questionable plan, other assistants with crushing debt and fewer scruples approach her to say that they want in. Before she knows it, she’s at the forefront of a movement that has implications far beyond what anyone anticipated.

Featuring an eclectic clan of coconspirators, a love interest far too handsome to be trusted, and a razor-sharp voice full of wry humor, The Assistants is a rallying cry for the leagues of overeducated and underpaid women who are asking themselves, How is it that after all these years, we are still assistants?

Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey, 405 pages

He'd caught only a glimpse of her from the window of his carriage, but the young Russian prince knew he had to have her. Within minutes, Lady Katherine St. John was dragged from the London street like a common waif and carried off to a sumptuous town house-for the pleasure of her noble admirer. But it was a captive tigress Prince Dimitri found in his bed-consumed with a fierce rage toward the Russian "barbarian" who had kidnapped her-even as she found herself desiring this tawny-maned Adonis with a hunger beyond her understanding....
From the tempestuous passion of that first encounter, across stormy seas, to the golden splendor of palaces in Moscow, she was his prisoner. But ever as her fury defied his bold claim of ownership, an all-consuming need made her his slave. For theirs was a fever that fed upon itself, carrying them irrevocably toward a final surrender to the power of undeniable love.
I'd read this for the first time as a teenager and fell in love with Lindsey's torrid bodice-rippers. Sometimes you just need something tawdry and entertaining.

Wake Up Little Susie by Edward Gorman, 225 pages

It is September 1957, and America is waiting to meet the Edsel, Ford’s top-secret new automobile, whose promotional campaign has redefined the word hype. Sam McCain, lawyer, detective, and car fiend, has been dreaming of the Edsel for months. But when the sheet comes off Ford’s new creation, the car is a nightmare. Pastel colored, bulky, and with a distinctively ugly grill, the Edsel draws snickers instead of applause. But in case the dealership owner’s day isn’t going badly enough, one of the cars has a last surprise in store: a body in the trunk.

She is the beautiful young wife of the district attorney, and Sam knows she deserved better than to end up dead in an ugly car. As the local police bungle the investigation, Sam quietly digs into the death—and finds a secret in his city that could be even more disastrous than the Edsel.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg, 403 pages

Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.

Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.

This was a very sweet read, I started it one evening and finished it before bed, I just couldn't put it down.