Friday, April 09, 2010

bookfinds @ Kittling: Books -- The Poisoned Pen Did It Again

I was doing so much damage to my bulging wish list by reading one of Paperback Swap's Daily Wish List emails each week that I was glad to get the April edition of The Poisoned Pen's Booknews. That is... until I realized that I'd found eight books from there that I just had to have.

At least I've sent out several books this week because some of these book titles in this post were available at Paperback Swap, and they're already on their way to me. Now perhaps you'll understand why I don't have to step foot into a bookstore very often!

One of my dearest friends is coming for a visit at the end of the month, and he's already asked me if we're going to make a trip to The Poisoned Pen. If we do make that trip, I hope he's packed his back brace! Anyway... let's get on to the books I found, shall we? Just click on each book cover if you'd like more detailed information.

Skye Island Beautiful by Jon Pear. I cannot resist coffee table books showcasing the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Denis and I would live there part of each year if we could. "Skye Island Beautiful invites the reader to explore this exciting and vibrant area with a superb collection of over 250 carefully selected full-color photographs. Each image is accompanied by a fully informative caption. The Isle of Skye has so much to offer. A magical place, romantic and rugged, it is an island which has something for everyone. Skye Island Beautiful is more than simply a photo guide, it is a celebration of this wonderful place. This book provides a fantastic glimpse into all that the Isle of Skye has to offer and is guaranteed to appeal to residents and visitors alike. This book takes the reader on an exhilarating journey looking at the hills, wildlife, villages and flora and fauna of this magical place, and shows why Skye is truly an Island Beautiful."

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth. "Nathaniel Cade, the president's vampire, swore to fight on the side of President Andrew Jackson and all his successors. In the present day, Zach Barrows, a rising political star caught canoodling with the president's daughter, suddenly finds himself training to be Cade's handler after tough, wise special agent William Griffin retires. As they try to stop Cade's old nemesis, Dr. Johann Konrad, from creating an army of Frankensteinian monster soldiers, they uncover a deeper government conspiracy." This one has an interesting angle to it, since Nathaniel is "the President's vampire", so I'm hoping it isn't a book that's merely trying to capitalize on the current vampire craze.

Hazard by Gardiner Harris. "Harris, public health reporter for the New York Times, takes readers deep into eastern Kentucky, giving them a vivid, claustrophobic portrait of life and death in a community built around coal mining. A deadly mine flood prompts life-changing events for two men, Amos Blevins and Will Murphy, who are suddenly forced out of their traditional roles in the community. Blevins, a miner who survived the flood, becomes a fugitive because he is thought to know too much, and Murphy, a guilt-ridden, alcoholic screw up and family black sheep, finds himself investigating his own family’s business practices. Seasoned mystery readers will probably figure out what’s what before the protagonists do, but that’s OK. It’s the unusual characters along with the scene down under and the attendant details about life above that drive this story of greed, family secrets, and murder." I was born and raised in a town that once had a coal mine, but I'm hoping that the underground scenes aren't too bad. I have a "thing" about being underground. So much so that when I kick the bucket, I'm not going to be buried!

Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie. "Set in contemporary South Africa, Mackenzie's triumphant debut introduces PI Jade de Jong. After roaming the world for a decade, Jade returns home to Johannesburg to take her revenge on the convicted murderer, about to be released from prison, who she believes killed her highly respected police commissioner father. Meanwhile, David Patel, her father's former assistant, asks Jade for help in investigating the murder of Annette Botha, gunned down one night after getting out of her car to unlock a malfunctioning automatic gate outside her home. David and Jade later learn that robbers killed Botha's brother a few years earlier, and that the dead woman recently retained a detective, who has since disappeared. The plot has more than its fair share of nice twists, and Mackenzie does a superb job of making the reader care for her gutsy lead while offering a glimpse at life in South Africa after apartheid."

Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland. "Shortly after midnight on July 17, 1918, the imprisoned family of Tsar Nicholas Romanov was awakened and led down to the basement of the Ipatiev house. There they were summarily executed. Their bodies were hidden away, the location a secret of the Soviet state. A decade later, one man lives in purgatory, banished to a forest on the outskirts of humanity. Pekkala was once the most trusted secret agent of the Romanovs, the right-hand man of the Tsar himself. Now he is Prisoner 4745-P, living a harsh existence in which even the strongest vanish into the merciless Soviet winter. But the state needs Pekkala one last time. The man who knew the Romanovs best is given a final mission: catch their killers, locate the royal child rumored to be alive, and give Stalin the international coup he craves. Find the bodies, Pekkala is told, and you will find your freedom. Find the survivor of that bloody night and you will change history." I love reading Russian history during the era of Nicholas and Alexandra and about all the various imposters trying to pass themselves off as a Romanov survivor.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley. "With its dark legends and passionate history, the windswept shores of Scotland are an archaeologist's dream. Verity Grey is thrilled by the challenge of uncovering an ancient Roman campsite in a small Scottish village. But as soon as she arrives, she sense danger in the air. Her eccentric boss, Peter Quinnell, has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it - not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has 'seen' a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades. Surprisingly, Verity believes in Peter, and the boy, and even in the Sentinel, who seems determined to become her own protector...but from what?"

State Fair by Earlene Fowler. When I began my current obsession with crime fiction several years ago, Fowler's Benni Harper series was one of my favorites. It's been a few years since Benni's had a new adventure, so I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this one. "Set in 1997, Fowler's folksy 14th Benni Harper mystery finds the avid quilter, museum curator, and reluctant sleuth readying herself for the annual San Celina (Calif.) County Mid-State Fair. Racial tensions revolving around the fair's first black general manager, Levi Clark; Levi's half-white daughter, Jazz; and Jazz's various suitors stir the plot. So, too, does the visit from Arkansas of Benni's great-aunt, Garnet Wilcox. Garnet and her sister, Dove, Benni's grandmother, get along like two bobcats trapped in a burning outhouse. A valued African-American quilt stolen from a fair exhibit and a corpse in another exhibit add fuel to the fire. Fowler's congenial mix of humor (prickly, surprising Garnet applies lessons learned from mystery books and cop shows), folklore (the history of black cloth dolls), and murder makes this Agatha Award–winning series as much fun to visit as a county fair and a likely ribbon winner."

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. The year I read it, Udall's The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint topped my charts, so when I saw this one, I did a little happy dance here in the office. "A family drama with stinging turns of dark comedy, the latest from Udall is a superb performance and as comic as it is sublimely catastrophic. Golden Richards is a polygamist Mormon with four wives, 28 children, a struggling construction business, and a few secrets. He tells his wives that the brothel he's building in Nevada is actually a senior center, and, more importantly, keeps hidden his burning infatuation with a woman he sees near the job site. Golden, perpetually on edge, has become increasingly isolated from his massive family—given the size of his brood, his solitude is heartbreaking—since the death of one of his children. Meanwhile, his newest and youngest wife, Trish, is wondering if there is more to life than the polygamist lifestyle, and one of his sons, Rusty, after getting the shaft on his birthday, hatches a revenge plot that will have dire consequences. With their world falling apart, will the family find a way to stay together? Udall's polished storytelling and sterling cast of perfectly realized and flawed characters make this a serious contender for Great American Novel status."

Those are the books I discovered in the past week. Of them all, I'd have to say that I'm the most excited about Brady Udall's new book.

Did any of these titles catch your eye? Are any of them going on your wish list? Do tell!


  1. Cathy, you've got a great group of books here. And.....I would love to be going with you to the Poisoned Pen. Sigh. My favorite place.

    I'm looking forward to Random Violence and State Fair. Another visit to San Celina, yea!

  2. You always have books I want to read!!! I love AZ and if I make it back to Scottsdale will have to visit the Poisoned Pen!!

    Going up North next week, not to Skye but to Ullapool. Dont know if you ever been there, lovely wee fishing village.

  3. So glad you got Eye of the Red Tsar, Cathy. This is one of the best books I've read lately.

    ". . . two bobcats trapped in a burning outhouse" -- absolutely hilarious. I'll be laughing all day at the image.

  4. A book newsletter is a dangerous thing!

  5. Kay-- I've missed visiting San Celina myself!

    Jackie-- Yes, I have been there... at least long enough to stop and have lunch. :)

    Barbara-- I haven't got it yet, but it's on my wish list now. Hopefully that will turn into a copy in hand soon. (And I loved the bobcat image, too! LOL)

  6. Kathy-- Especially when it's from the Poisoned Pen!

  7. Mental note, shop for backbrace, just in case.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!