Friday, November 16, 2018

A Walking on Sunshine Weekly Link Round-Up

Heading into Thanksgiving Week, I have so much to be thankful for. (Don't worry, I won't go into massive detail.) I'm still "walking on sunshine" after having one eye completely worked over. Coming home from The Poisoned Pen one night, I was thrilled because oncoming headlights no longer blind me. Driving to appointments with my ophthalmologist, I was thrilled to be able to read street signs again. Once my right eye is done, Denis will probably have to tie me down so I don't float away with happiness. And once both eyes are done, let me tell you, my camera and I will be out and about again! I've been leaving photography alone for the past few months because I couldn't really tell if my eyes were focusing properly, and I don't want to share sub-par photos.

I recently came across a website that has some book-themed t-shirts that I love. I chose to show the one to the left because it reminds me of someone... doesn't it, Kay? Who knows? You may find holiday gift suggestions for yourselves and others there.

I swore up and down that I wasn't going to say anything about this until I posted my recap, but it was all in vain. Tuesday, Denis and I went to The Poisoned Pen to see Tim Hallinan. We arrived. I saw they didn't have the event chairs set up yet, so my cane,  purse, and I motored to the back so I could return to the good book I've been reading. I noticed that there was a man somewhere to my right looking at books as I walked past, but he was just a tiny blip on my radar. Then I heard Denis laugh. "She didn't even see you!" Oh no.

I'd just motored past Tim!

I was a bit surprised because I knew Barbara Peters was taking him someplace before the event, but when Tim bought his books and then sat down with us for the next hour, I was in seventh heaven. Sharing reading recommendations, talking about his books-- both published and works-in-progress-- I don't even remember everything the three of us talked about. But... as you can see, I have plenty of reasons to be walking on sunshine this week-- and I have a feeling that it's only going to get better! (And as for walking past Tim without recognizing him? He was on my right side... my blind side. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it while I still can!)

Oops, I hear restless links. I'd better hie myself out to yon corral. Head 'em up! Moooove 'em out!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄

►Fascinating Folk◄
  • World War II nurse Bessie Blount, the woman who made a device to help disabled veterans feed themselves, gave it away for free. (And that's not all she accomplished.)
  • Emma Willard, a ground-breaking female cartographer, charted the evolution of the United States-- and the dispossession of Native Americans.
  • Major Alexis Casdagli, a British prisoner of war, stitched a hidden anti-Hitler message into a Nazi quilt.

►I ♥ Lists◄
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1900s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1910s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1920s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1930s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1940s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1950s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1960s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1970s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 1980s.
  • A Century of Reading: THe ten books that defined the 1990s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 2000s.
  • A Century of Reading: The ten books that defined the 2010s (so far).

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Nobody's Sweetheart Now by Maggie Robinson

First Line: Once upon a time, Lady Adelaide Mary Merrill, daughter of the Marquess of Broughton, was married to Major Rupert Charles Cressleigh Compton, hero of the Somme.

Lady Adelaide Compton's husband survived World War I only to come home, party and carouse to excess, and kill himself and his mistress when he drove his car into a stone wall. Since his death, Addie has enjoyed being the lady of the manor. She's made improvements to the estate and has finally decided to begin coming out of mourning by throwing a party and having several people over for a long country house weekend.

Her houseguests barely have time to arrive before someone is murdered. Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter from Scotland Yard comes to solve the crime, but Addie can't help thinking her knowledge of the people involved will prove invaluable. What she doesn't count on is even more help-- from the spirit of her deceased husband, who's been told he has to perform a few good deeds before he can move along on his journey.

There's a lot to recommend this first Lady Adelaide mystery set in 1924 England. Robinson gives readers a good sense of the time period: so many women "left on the shelf" because of the hundreds of thousands of men killed in the war, people wanting to throw off gloom and misery and have fun. Anglo-Indian Inspector Devenand Hunter also shows people's attitudes toward someone of mixed race.

The cast of characters is an interesting mix. The secondary characters who arrive at Compton Court seem to be pulled from the Entitled and Obnoxious bin at Harrod's, but the first string more than held my interest. I liked Addie, her voice and her spirit. I also liked the fact that she rebelled against her mother's conformity as often as possible. For example, she wears her glasses. The women of her family have weak eyesight, but Addie's the only one who'd rather see where she's going than be vain and constantly walk into the furniture. Another point in her favor?  She truly cares about her servants and purchases things to make their lives more comfortable.

The only way she worked my nerves was by her inability to keep her mouth shut when her husband's spirit would show up to talk at her when she's in a room with other people. Over and over again, it looked as though she was talking to thin air, and it's a wonder no one had her committed to the nearest mental health facility. Moreover, since the inspector from Scotland Yard came across her "talking to herself" most often it's surprising he believed a word she said. Speaking of the inspector, I liked his character most of all-- he has a different perspective from his time in the trenches as well as from dealing with the prejudices of others, and his parents are a constant source of amusement.

The author is known for her historical romances, which made me a bit nervous, but she kept the hearts and flowers to a minimum, and the story never bogged down with too many hormone-filled longings and ponderings. The one drawback to Nobody's Sweetheart Now is the fact that I really think the story could be just as good, if not better, by leaving the spirit of Addie's husband out completely. Other than making her look as though she's lost her mind, he has very little to do with the action. How do I feel about continuing with the series? I'll have to think about it. Addie's ghostly husband is almost a deal breaker.

Nobody's Sweetheart Now by Maggie Robinson
eISBN: 9781464210730
Poisoned Pen Press © 2018
eBook, 251 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Lady Adelaide mystery
Rating: B-
Source: Net Galley

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Art Buffer: Kimberly Eaton's A Good Read

"A Good Read" by Kimberly Eaton

You know... paintings of women reading are much easier to stumble across than ones of men doing the same thing, which is probably why this particular one caught my eye. Do you know what I love about it? The smile on the man's face as he's reading.

And the book lover in me would love to know the title of the book!

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

First Line: I love owning a dog.

If Gemma Doyle hadn't been walking her dog late at night, the West London Museum might have burned to the ground. Thankfully, no one is inside, but damage to the museum's historic house and priceless collection of furniture is extensive. Local business owners come together to hold an afternoon auction to raise funds to rebuild, and Gemma's Great Uncle Arthur donates a first edition of The Valley of Fear.

Everyone has crowded into Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room for the auction, but it never takes place. Museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room, and the search is on for her killer. The suspect list is long and even though Gemma has no intentions of getting involved in the investigation, one of the suspects asks for her help. Gemma's boyfriend, Detective Ryan Ashburton, isn't happy about it, but Gemma's powers of deduction are going to prove invaluable in solving the murder.

It's the busy tourist season in this fourth book in the delightful Sherlock Holmes Bookshop cozy series, and I really think Gemma should give her assistant Ashleigh a raise. As soon as Ashleigh turns up for her shifts, Gemma is out the door on her investigations, leaving Ashleigh up to her eyebrows in customers. Yes, the young woman definitely deserves a raise, but since I enjoy Gemma's sleuthing so much, I really don't want her to spend all her time in the bookshop either!

One of the bonuses readers get in A Scandal in Scarlet (and the other books in the series) are wonderful recommendations for other books to read. You can't go wrong by following Gemma's suggestions-- and I have to admit that Delany's descriptions of the series' Cape Cod setting make me want to start packing and head east for a long visit.

As always, the author provides a well-paced, solid mystery with plenty of misdirection to keep readers guessing. Actually, there are two mysteries to solve, and I was totally wrong about the solution to the seven-year-old crime. (Love it when that happens!) The cast of characters is strong, too. Eagle-eyed Gemma is just prickly enough to keep readers amused without annoying them too much, and Jayne is the sidekick every amateur sleuth needs. She will follow Gemma anywhere because-- as Jayne says-- "Someone's got to keep you out of trouble." And-- hopefully-- Vicki Delany will keep us supplied with tales of Gemma's investigations for a good long time to come.

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany
eISBN: 9781683317913
Crooked Lane Books © 2018
eBook, 320 pages

Cozy Mystery, #4 Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley 

Blood Is Blood by Will Thomas

First Line: I detest Mondays with all my soul.

One of the problems with being renowned private enquiry agents is that you soon acquire powerful enemies. This is what has happened to Cyrus Barker and his associate, Thomas Llewelyn. Their London offices are bombed, severely injuring Barker and sending him to the hospital. This leaves Llewelyn alone to find the bomber two weeks before his own wedding.

It doesn't help when Barker's brother, Caleb, shows up on the rubble of their doorstep. There's something about Caleb that Thomas doesn't trust, and that distrust only grows when Cyrus regains consciousness and warns him about his brother.

Thomas agrees to Caleb's help since he does have a new case, but winnowing down that enemy list of theirs must take priority: one by one, those enemies are dying, Thomas's life is in danger, and his bride-to-be is having serious second thoughts about their marriage.

With Barker in the hospital, this is the first time that young Thomas Llewelyn is in total charge of an investigation, and-- wouldn't you know it-- it's a case in which both their lives are in grave danger. He needs help, but the only help he can get is from Barker's brother, Caleb, who seems to have spent most of his time in the United States-- much of it as a Pinkerton agent. This could be good news, but Caleb has a nasty habit of disappearing all the time, and the U.S. Embassy is after him and Thomas doesn't know why.

Blood Is Blood is a very strange and complex mystery, with danger appearing unexpectedly from any and all directions. Will Thomas knows how to make readers wish they had eyes in the backs of their heads. I did enjoy the mystery very much, and it wasn't easy to determine if Caleb Barker was a good guy or a bad one. The only small problem I had with the story is that-- even after six years and everything he's been through-- I thought Thomas Llewelyn didn't perform all that well as the one in charge of the investigation. He took too many things at face value and as a result, put those closest to him in danger.

But that is a small irritation in this latest book in one of my favorite historical mystery series. Will Thomas always puts me right in the heart of Victorian London with his fast-paced, heart-thumping mysteries and strong main characters. Once again, I'm left waiting to see where he takes me next. Wherever it is, I know I will enjoy the journey.

Blood Is Blood by Will Thomas
eISBN: 9781250170392
Minotaur Books © 2018
eBook, 320 pages

Historical Mystery, #10 Barker & Llewelyn mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


Sunday, November 11, 2018

On My Radar: Helene Tursten's Hunting Game

I was sad to see Helene Tursten's Detective Inspector Irene Huss mystery series come to an end. Well, it's always sad when a favorite series ends, but I really can't fault writers for running out of ideas to keep a series fresh or just wanting to try something new.

When I learned that Tursten had the first book in a new series due to be released at the end of February, I did a little happy dance. I'm really looking forward to beginning a new journey with this author, and when I tell you a bit about the new book, you might be, too!

Available February 26, 2019!
Synopsis: "Twenty-eight-year-old Embla Nyström has been plagued by chronic nightmares and racing thoughts ever since she can remember. She has learned to channel most of her anxious energy into her position as Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden, and into sports. A talented hunter and prize-winning Nordic welterweight, she is glad to be taking a vacation from her high-stress job to attend the annual moose hunt with her family and friends.

But when Embla arrives at her uncle’s cabin in rural Dalsland, she sees an unfamiliar face has joined the group: Peter, enigmatic, attractive, and newly divorced. And she isn’t the only one to notice. One longtime member of the hunt doesn’t welcome the presence of an outsider and is quick to point out that with Peter, the group’s number reaches thirteen, a bad omen for the week. Sure enough, a string of unsettling incidents follows, culminating in the disappearance of two hunters. Embla takes charge of the search, and they soon find one of the missing men floating facedown in the nearby lake. With the help of local reinforcements, Embla delves into the dark pasts of her fellow hunters in search of a killer.

I think we could almost be forgiven for thinking that Tursten has created in Embla Nyström a younger version of Irene Huss. There are similarities, but I don't remember Huss being plagued with nightmares, and Nyström definitely sounds like an outdoors person, doesn't she?

Any fellow Huss fans out there who are looking forward to this book, too? Or... are you new to Helene Tursten's work and think this book sounds like something you want to read? Inquiring minds would love to know!

Friday, November 09, 2018

A Well Up for Happy Weekly Link Round-Up

Denis and I were sitting in the waiting room of the surgi-center before my first cataract surgery Tuesday. Another couple came in shortly afterward and-- to be kind-- I'll just say that they were a Very Special pair. She couldn't wait for her own surgery because she wanted to go home being able to see that very day. I couldn't help but mentally shake my head. Everyone is given instructions pre-surgery, and it's sad what some of those instructions have to be. Fortunately, I didn't have to strip down and put on one of those flattering designer hospital gowns. Nope, all I had to do was wear loose, comfortable freshly laundered clothing that would give easy access to heart monitors, etc. Sitting there waiting, I would've paid $20 for a glass of water; I was parched. But... the cut-off for food and drink pre-surgery was six hours, and I was following directions. The Very Special woman also awaiting surgery had on a filthy t-shirt and slacks... and was chugging an ice cold Pepsi. I haven't dealt with the public in so long that they're beginning to surprise me again.

I thought you might like to see my bottle of "Liquid Gold" that cost $300. It's so small that-- even with just one drop in the eye per day-- I doubt that it will last through both surgeries. Ah well.

I came home from surgery, ate something, inhaled an ice cold beverage, and stretched out in my recliner for a three-hour nap. When I woke up at 6 PM, I removed the eye shield, covered the eye that hadn't been operated on, and took a look through my new peeper. Totally blurry. It didn't bother me because that's what I'd been told would happen. At 9 PM, I took another look. Almost every bit of blurriness was gone, and I couldn't believe what I was able to see.

The next afternoon, I went in for my post-op appointment. The doctor checked me out, said, "Perfect!" several times and told me that my ophthalmologist had corrected everything, and I now have 20/20 vision in that eye. I don't think I was born with 20/20 vision! Now I'm not wearing any glasses and constantly amazed at what I'm able to see. The clarity! The peripheral vision! The COLORS! Tuesday and Wednesday, my eyes kept welling up, and it seldom had anything to do with all the drops I have to put in my eye. No...

I'm so happy, and I can't wait to see the world when both eyes are done!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Non-human mammals love the suburbs, too.
  • How men's cologne might catch a man-eating tigress. (Something that was covered by Wendall Thomas in her mystery, Lost Luggage.) 
  • A study says dogs are smart, but not exceptional. (I think I'll take umbrage at this report...)
  • This gecko butt-dialed a "bazillion" times from a seal hospital in Hawaii. (Someone should really warn the Geico gecko about that...)
  • Busy bees take a break during total solar eclipses.
  • How Siberian Huskies get their piercing blue eyes.

►Fascinating Folk◄
  • An interview with Tana French, the queen of psychological mysteries.
  • Madame Tussaud: the astounding tale of survival behind the woman who made history.
  • Q&A with Leslie S. Klinger, author of Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s.

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • Sedbergh is entering a new chapter as it continues to develop its status as England's only Book Town.
  • The crime fiction of Phnom Penh
  • A Navajo Code Talkers tribute, the first permanent memorial to a unique secret weapon of World War II, is right here in Phoenix.
  • How to spend a literary long weekend in Atlanta.
  • A look at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona almost twenty-five years ago.

►I ♥ Lists & Quizzes◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Mystery Stories by Elizabeth Peters

This is a collection of three short stories written by Elizabeth Peters. As a teenager, I enjoyed the books she wrote under the pen name Barbara Michaels, but it wasn't until I was an adult that I read one of her Amelia Peabody books (which really didn't grab me).

"Liz Peters, PI" is about a woman crime fiction writer/private investigator who has a friend drop dead in front of her in her own home. I loved the voice of Liz and laughed when she invoked the name of "St. Kinsey." This is a Christmas-themed story and did warm my heart.

"The Locked Tomb" is one of her ancient Egyptian-themed mysteries involving the robbery of a sealed tomb. I found this to be the least enjoyable of the three, primarily because it was so easy to deduce who robbed the tomb and how.

The third story is "The Runaway," about two teenage girls who ran away from home and have sought shelter in a derelict farmhouse out in the country. Not only did I like the voice of the younger sister, but I also found the story to be creepy and perfect for Halloween reading.

Did these stories tempt me to continue to read Elizabeth Peters? Only time will tell! 

Mystery Stories by Elizabeth Peters
eISBN: 9781504055505
Open Road Integrated Media © 2018
eBook, 86 pages

Short Stories
Rating: B
Source: Purchased from Amazon.