Friday, April 29, 2016

The To Sleep Perchance to Read Weekly Link Round-Up

You know, it is impossible for me to tell you the last time I woke up feeling rested and refreshed. Sometimes I think that part of my sleeping life is gone. Done. Dusted. Too many aches and pains wake me up throughout the night. Too many interests keep me from going to bed when I should. The first person who said growing old isn't for wimps knew exactly what he was talking about.

Do I let this get me down? What's the point? The only thing about this whole sleep thing that gets me growling is the fact that, when I do settle down to get some serious reading done, I tend to fall asleep. I wouldn't be surprised if steam leaks out of my ears from time to time when I wake up from one of these impromptu naps. And it doesn't matter what position in which I try to read. All this means is that the number of books I've read has fallen off noticeably. It makes me wonder what's going to happen when I start reading in the pool. Will I stay awake? Are books going to be taking a dip? We shall see.

In the mean time, I'm sharing one of my favorite photos from a recent trip to the Desert Botanical Garden. The colors of cactus blossoms can be fabulous, but in many ways, my favorite parts are the insides where all the pollen is. The interiors of the blooms in the photo above remind me of fireworks, and looking at the photo makes me smile. Click on the photo to see it full size, and see if it doesn't make you smile, too! Much better than grumping over sleep, eh?

Now it's time to mosey out to the corral because I have a lot of links I've been saving for you. Head 'em up! Mooooooove 'em out!


►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
  • A Fahrenheit 451 film is in the works at HBO. 
  • Iran is set to open the world's largest bookstore. 
  • Benedict Cumberbatch will be the voice of The Grinch in an animated remake of the Dr. Seuss classic.
  • I blame it on the mini-series based on Stephen King's It-- the history and psychology of clowns being scary. 
  • The Alienist author Caleb Carr is returning to his series after twenty years!
  • Women represent 75% of the most active digital readers
  • Downton Abbey's creator will be releasing ten serialized eBooks.
  • Neil Gaiman is adapting his first novel Good Omens (co-written by Terry Pratchett), for television.
  • Dame Judi Dench has been appointed honorary president of the Brontë Society. 
  • How science fiction redefines who we are and what we're becoming. 
  • In declining to make the Bible Tennessee's official state book, Governor Bill Haslam showed a lot of common sense. 
  • The executive producers are considering making the final two seasons of Game of Thrones shorter. 
  • Books by the earliest women writers in English are on display together for the first time. (Thanks to Kathleen for the link!) 
  • The perks of getting lost at the London Book Fair. 
  • Andy Weir, author of The Martian, shares details about his next novel. 

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
  • Newly discovered mass graves could be filled with an ancient Greek tyrant's followers. 
  • Engineers in Mexico have unearthed a Spanish priest's ancient tombstone. 
  • Leonardo da Vinci's living descendants have been found. 
  • Stolen in 1955, a famous inverted Jenny stamp has resurfaced. 
  • One of the most important shipwreck treasures ever discovered. 
  • How the ancient world dealt with cancer.  
  • Yikes! The Black Death's utter destruction of 14th-century Europe in one scary GIF.
  • The unparalleled (and accidental) discovery of a Roman villa beneath a garden in Wiltshire England has archaeologists agog.
  • Italian authorities have recovered three 15th-century paintings seized from an Italian-Luxembourg noble family during World War II.
  • A twelve-year-old Israeli girl discovered an ancient Egyptian amulet.
►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Hedgehog lovers rejoice! Japan has opened the world's first hedgehog café
  • Fuzzy pigs, squash swords, and other amazing heirloom breeds spotlight the vanishing diversity of our food.
  • If you need a dose of cute, how about these newborn goats wearing tiny sweaters?
  • Lulu the pig helped Baby the blind cow get around for years. What happened after Lulu's death was something no one expected. 

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • Bardsey Island off the coast of Wales is home to just four residents and 20,000 graves. 
  • A private collection in upstate New York is the secret kingdom of lost toys. 
  • The library Mark Twain built. 
  • Traveling through Yorkshire, one of the things I loved was all the old dry stack stone walls. Hand this former bricklayer any sort of rock, and he can create masterpieces. Yes, Johnny Clasper is an artist! 
  • This tiny village is the Grand Canyon's best kept secret
  • "Pain Inflicted, Suffering Endured, Injustice Done." The Paisley Witches Memorial. 
  • Dating back almost 400 years, Chetham's Library-- the oldest public collection library in the UK-- was once the study hall of Karl Marx. 
  • The outlaw hideout known as Hole-in-the-Wall

►Fascinating Folk◄

►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, April 28, 2016

The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

First Line: 1985. It was far from silent in the dark wood.

Gloria Harkness has a responsible job, and she's found the perfect home: remote and close to her son, Nicky, so she can visit him every day. Her entire life revolves around the boy, but when a childhood friend shows up on her doorstep with a strange story about being stalked by a woman he went to school with years ago, she doesn't hesitate to help.

Gloria's nearest neighbor is the now-derelict school known as Eden. It wasn't open very long due to a child's suicide. Everyone connected with Eden seems to want to stay far away from it, and Gloria's friend is no exception. But the woman stalking him has persuaded him to meet her at the site of that long ago suicide, and Gloria is going to go with him. Within the blink of an eye, Gloria is in over her head, and everything-- and everyone-- she holds dear is in danger.

Having met the marvelous Catriona McPherson at 2016's Left Coast Crime, I was determined to give her books another try. I'd already read the first of her Dandy Gilver mysteries, but since I'm not a fan of Golden Age mysteries, After the Armistice Ball really wasn't my cup of tea. Anyway, back to the drawing board I went, and I discovered that McPherson has written several standalone suspense novels, and I chose The Child Garden. I'm glad I did. 

The character of Gloria Harkness almost immediately wrapped itself around my heart. Her young son Nicky is severely disabled, yet everything in Gloria's world revolves around him. If something goes wrong, her first thought is of how it will affect her son. She's chosen a job that will allow her to be with him everyday. She's found affordable housing close by. It would be almost impossible for me to remain completely unmoved by a woman who is so loving, so loyal... and so alone.

McPherson weaves a palpable feeling of dread into this story. A feeling of isolation... of someone who has gone to ground and wants only to be safe and left alone. The second Gloria agrees to help her friend, everything begins to go wrong. She's just got that kind of luck, and McPherson's swift and sure pacing guides us through a downright diabolical plot. When the killer was revealed, I just shook my head. Of course! Now... why didn't I see that?

Sometimes it can be very wise not to give up on an author. Even though I didn't enjoy her historical series featuring Dandy Gilver, I could tell that they were well-written and fit into that Golden Age style beautifully. (In other words, I could see the woman has talent.) When I learned that she writes novels in the modern, psychological suspense vein, I remembered that talent, and gave The Child Garden a try. This is when I struck pay dirt. I'm definitely reading more of her non-series work!

The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson
eISBN: 9780738747095
Midnight Ink © 2015
eBook, 290 pages

Suspense, Standalone
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Amazon. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

May 2016 New Mystery Releases!

Lots of trips to the Desert Botanical Garden. Trips to my local Michael's to fondle yarn. Lunches with authors and friends. Sitting outside to soak up a little sun. The usual appointments and errands. Lots of knitting. Long phone conversations with faraway friends. Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry. Blogging. Have I had time to read? 

You betcha!

I've also had time to choose what I think will be the cream of the crop when it comes to new mysteries being released in May.

They're grouped by release date, and I've included all the information you'll need to find your own copies. Book synopses are courtesy of Amazon.

I hope I've found some titles to add to your wish lists and shelves. Happy Reading!

=== May 3 ===

Title: The Woman in Blue
Series: #8 in the Dr. Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson series set in Norfolk, England
ISBN: 9780544417854
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, 368 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend Cathbad sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again.

Title: A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall
Series: #3 in the Kat Stanford cozy series set in Devon, England
ISBN: 9781250065506
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 304 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "When antique dealer Kat Stanford stumbles upon the partially mummified body of a young woman in an abandoned wing at Honeychurch Hall, suspicion falls on those who had been living there many years ago. And it appears that the deceased had been murdered. Given her mother Iris’s checkered past, Kat is not surprised to learn that Iris knew the victim.

Meanwhile, the unexpected appearance of former lothario Bryan Laney sets female hearts aflutter. Despite the passing years, time has not dampened his ardor for Iris, but the feeling is not reciprocated.

With stories of hidden treasure and secret chambers, past and present collide. As Kat becomes embroiled once more in her mother’s mysterious and tumultuous bygone days, she comes to realize that life is never black and white, and sometimes it is necessary to risk your own life to protect the lives of the ones you love."

Title: Wilde Lake
Author: Laura Lippman
ISBN: 9780062083456
Publisher: William Morrow
Hardcover, 368 pages

Synopsis: "Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.

As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?

The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to.

=== May 10 ===

Title: Prayers the Devil Answers
Series: #11 in the Appalachian Ballad series set in Tennessee and North Carolina
ISBN: 9781476772813
Publisher: Atria Books
Hardcover, 352 pages

Synopsis: "Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn’t a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them.

Suddenly thrust into the role of primary caretaker for her family following the tragic death of her husband, Ellie Robbins is appointed to serve out his term as sheriff of their rural Tennessee mountain town. The year is 1936, and her role is largely symbolic, except for the one task that only a sheriff can do: execute a convicted prisoner.

Ellie has long proven she can handle herself. But becoming sheriff is altogether different, and the demands of the role are even more challenging when she is forced to combat society’s expectations for a woman. Soon enough, dark secrets come to light, and Ellie must grapple with small town superstitions and the tenuous ties she shares with a condemned killer as she carves out a place for herself in an uncertain future.

“There is no one quite like Sharyn McCrumb. No one better either” (San Diego Union-Tribune), and her luscious narrative brings her unforgettable characters to life with the “pure poetry” (The New York Times Book Review) that defines her astounding novels. Prayers the Devil Answers
combines masterful historical research and captivating folklore to make an atmospheric and suspenseful tour de force." 

Title: See Also Deception
Series: #2 in the Marjorie Trumaine historical series set in 1960s North Dakota
ISBN: 9781633881266
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Paperback, 270 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "October 1964—Just months after freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine helped solve a series of murders in Dickinson, North Dakota, she is faced with another death that pulls her into an unwanted investigation. Calla Eltmore, the local librarian, is found dead at work and everyone considers it suicide. But Marjorie can't believe that Calla would be capable of doing such a thing.

Marjorie's suspicions are further aroused when she notices something amiss at Calla's wake, but the police seem uninterested in her observations.

Despite pressing job commitments and the burden of caring for a husband in declining health, Marjorie sets out to uncover the truth. What she finds is a labyrinth of secrets—and threats from someone who will kill to keep these secrets hidden.

Title: Reliance, Illinois
Author: Mary Volmer
Historical Fiction (with a lot of secrets) standalone set in a Mississippi River town in Illinois in the 1870s
ISBN: 9781616956721
Publisher: Soho Press
Hardcover, 368 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Reliance, Illinois tells the story of a young woman faced with choices that will alter the course of her own future, and offers a brilliant window into American life during a period of tumultuous change. Illinois, 1874: With a birthmark covering half her face, thirteen-year-old Madelyn Branch is accustomed to cold and awkward greetings, and expects no less in the struggling town of Reliance. After all, her mother, Rebecca, was careful not to mention a daughter in the Matrimonial Times ad that brought them there. When Rebecca weds, Madelyn poses as her mother’s younger sister and earns a grudging berth in her new house. Deeply injured by her mother’s deceptions, Madelyn soon leaves to enter the service of Miss Rose Werner, prodigal daughter of the town’s founder. Miss Rose is a suffragette and purveyor of black market birth control who sees in Madelyn a project and potential acolyte. Madelyn, though, wants to feel beautiful and loved, and she pins her hopes on William Stark, a young photographer and haunted Civil War veteran.

=== May 17 ===

Title: Boar Island
Author: Nevada Barr
Series: #19 in the Anna Pigeon series set in Maine
ISBN: 9781250064691
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 384 pages

Synopsis: "Anna Pigeon, in her career as a National Park Service Ranger, has had to deal with all manner of crimes and misdemeanors, but cyber-bullying and stalking is a new one. The target is Elizabeth, the adopted teenage daughter of her friend Heath Jarrod. Elizabeth is driven to despair by the disgusting rumors spreading online and bullying texts. Until, one day, Heath finds her daughter Elizabeth in the midst of an unsuccessful suicide attempt. And then she calls in the cavalry---her aunt Gwen and her friend Anna Pigeon.

While they try to deal with the fragile state of affairs---and find the person behind the harassment---the three adults decide the best thing to do is to remove Elizabeth from the situation. Since Anna is about to start her new post as Acting Chief Ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine, the three will join her and stay at a house on the cliff of a small island near the park, Boar Island.

But the move east doesn't solve the problem. The stalker has followed them east. And Heath (a paraplegic) and Elizabeth aren't alone on the otherwise deserted island. At the same time, Anna has barely arrived at Acadia before a brutal murder is committed by a killer uncomfortably close to her.

Title: The Singer from Memphis
Author: Gary Corby
Series: #6 in the historical Athenian series set in 461 BCE
ISBN: 9781616956684
Publisher: Soho Crime
Hardcover, 352 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Nicolaos, the only private investigator in ancient Athens, discovers that helping an author with his book research can be very dangerous. The would-be author Herodotus has hired Nico and his priestess wife, Diotima, to accompany him to Egypt to research that ancient country’s history. Unfortunately, Egypt happens to be in the throes of a rebellion against its overlords, the Persian Empire. Pirates infest the sea route. Three different armies roam the Egyptian countryside. The river is full of crocodiles. Everywhere Nico turns, there’s a secret agent ready to kill him, and he can’t find a decent cup of wine anywhere. A simple historical investigation turns into a dangerous adventure of international espionage.

Title: Lost and Gone Forever
Author: Alex Grecian
Series: #5 in the historical Murder Squad series set in London, England
ISBN: 9780399176104
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Hardcover, 384 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Many changes have happened to the Murder Squad. Rash actions have cost Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith his job, and in response he has set up his own private detective agency. Inspector Walter Day has been missing for a year, and no one knows where he is—though there is a strong suspicion that Saucy Jack has him. Hammersmith has made finding Day his primary case, and he has company—a pair of bounty hunters, a man and a woman. It is only gradually that he has come to realize that they are not what they seem . .

Title: The Highwayman
Author: Craig Johnson
Series: #14 in the Sheriff Walt Longmire series set in Wyoming
ISBN: 9780735220898
Publisher: Viking
Hardcover, 208 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man's-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving “officer needs assistance” calls. The problem? They're coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago. With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman.

=== May 19 ===

Title: The Malice of Waves
Author: Mark Douglas-Home
Series: #3 in the Sea Detective series set in Scotland
ISBN: 9780718182755
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Hardcover, 304 pages
UK Release

Synopsis: "Five years ago, fourteen-year-old Max Wheeler disappeared from Priest's Island, an isolated but bleakly beautiful place on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. 

In the closeknit local community, there are no secrets, except what happened to Max. None of the police or private investigations since have shed any light on what happened the night he went missing, presumed dead.

But there is one man who is yet to take on the case: The Sea Detective.

Cal McGill is an oceanographer and unique investigator who uses his knowledge of tides, winds and currents to solve mysteries no-one else can.

However, Cal is an unwelcome stranger who must navigate the tensions between Max's inconsolable father, the broken family he has neglected, and the embittered locals, resentful after years of suspicion.

As Cal arrives, a violent storm approaches, threatening to completely cut off the island, with a possible murderer at large.."  

May is a feast! Craig Johnson. Nevada Barr. Elly Griffiths. And on. And on. And on.  Wow!

Which of these books are going on your reading lists?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey

First Line: Dark gravel, the gray-and-black color of an aging man's beard, renders the most gold.

The Ghana Police Service has a brand-new Chief Inspector: Darko Dawson, but Dawson doesn't even have time to celebrate his modest increase in salary before he's transferred from the capital to Obuasi, a  remote town in the Ashanti region which is known for the illegal exploitation of its gold mines.

Obuasi police headquarters is a complete mess, morale is low, and discipline is practically non-existent. Before Dawson can even begin to formulate a battle plan to get the station and its officers in shape, he's called out to a murder. The body of a Chinese mine owner has been uncovered in his own gold quarry.

As far as Dawson knows, he's going to be in this remote region of Ghana for an entire year. This means uprooting his entire family, finding a decent place to live, a new job for his wife, and a school for his two sons. The logistics were daunting and just the thought of that wore me out, but as soon as Darko's wife appeared on the scene, all that was left to her-- including the nightmarish renovation of their new home. Dawson had a murder to solve and couldn't waste time on any of this. (Typical man, eh?)  

I have enjoyed this series since the very first book, Wife of the Gods. Not only do I enjoy Quartey's strong mysteries and well-delineated characters, the vivid setting of Ghana, its culture, and its people are not to be missed. In Gold of Our Fathers, Quartey brings readers right into the middle of the problem of illegal Chinese immigrants coming to Ghana to mine gold, all aided and abetted by paid-off corrupt government officials. As Dawson wonders why the government is allowing outsiders to rape his beloved country of its natural resources, readers are shown how difficult policing is in a country where bribery and corruption are rife. 

Although Dawson has a recurrence of PFS (Pretty Face Syndrome) and there was a bit "too much middle" that made the pace drag a little, I still enjoyed this book a great deal. Fiction in general-- and crime fiction in particular-- does have the power to both enlighten and entertain, and Kwei Quartey is very adept at both.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series because Quartey surprised me. Out on his investigation, Dawson swore there was no way in the world he would step foot on something. I call that the Bank Line because you can take it to the bank that, sooner or later, Dawson is going to have to do what he swore he wouldn't. Well... he didn't, and the only thing I can think of is that the author is going to deposit that Bank Line in the next book. Bring it on!

Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey
ISBN: 9781616956301
Soho Crime © 2016
Hardcover, 368 pages

Police Procedural, #4 Darko Dawson mystery
Rating: A-
Source: The publisher