1. A BLUSH WITH DEATH by India Ink. #2 in the Persia Vanderbilt “
2. IN THE COMPANY OF CHEERFUL LADIES by Alexander McCall Smith. #6 in the very cozy “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series set in
3. A DARK NIGHT HIDDEN by Alys Clare. #6 in the Hawkenlye Abbey historical mystery series set in 1190’s
4. THE BRIGHT SILVER STAR by David Handler. #3 in the Berger and Mitry mystery series featuring pudgy Jewish movie reviewer Mitch Berger and his girlfriend, black and bodacious cop and artist Desiree Mitry. Des and Mitch have settled into their relationship and Des is getting used to being a small-town resident trooper rather than a homicide detective. But murder visits
5. WICKED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST by Gregory Maguire. Fairy tale retelling, interesting reading and silly at times, but like the other Maguire book I’ve read before (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) I found it to be a bit slow and draggy in spots, and my attention wandered. Definitely not as good as all the hype had me hoping for. Still, I found the speculation as to the origins of Glinda and Elphaba (and her dead sister and the ruby—actually silver—slippers) from L. Frank Baum’s tale quite interesting and amusing, as were the political machinations that got the Wizard where was. Maguire certainly has an imagination! I’d like to see the Broadway production of this, though—I bet that would be something! B-.
6. DEATH OF A GLUTTON by M.C. Beaton. #8 Hamish MacBeth cozy police series set in
7. DREAMING OF THE BONES by Deborah Crombie. #5 Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Scotland Yard mystery. When
8. THRONE OF JADE by Naomi Novik. #2 in the Temeraire fantasy series, which is sort of alternative history, too—set during the Napoleonic wars with the added feature of having dragons exist—as weapons of war! I have to say I didn’t like this book as well as the first in series—I suspect because I am not real big on naval battles/naval war history, and this book took place almost exclusively on a dragon transport ship as Laurence and Temeraire are being escorted back to
9. VITAL LIES by Ellen Hart. Second in the Jane Lawless series. Jane is a restaurant owner and a lesbian, living in
10. MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH by Ariana Franklin. I believe this is the first in a new series of historical mysteries featuring Adelia, a female physician trained at
11. CUT by Patricia McCormick. A slim little volume told from the POV of Callie, a teenage girl who’s been sent to Sea Pines, a mental health treatment facility because she cuts herself. At first, Callie doesn’t speak at all, to anyone, and the narrative describes flashbacks from her life ‘outside’ and descriptions of the facility and other guests there. It then moves into the part where she begins to ask for help and works things through with her psychiatrist and the staff. Having worked in an inpatient mental health unit, I have to say her observations are so spot-on that it’s easy to see that the author spent three years researching the book. Of course, I’ve never seen the inside of such a facility as a patient, so it would be interesting to know how it passes muster from THAT perspective. Still, this is an excellent book, although to say I “enjoyed” it would be not exactly accurate—it’s not a book meant for enjoying, really. A.
12. PEONY IN LOVE by Lisa See. ARC of a soon-to-be released book, a historical fiction book cum ghost story set just after the fall of the Ming Dynasty in
13. GOURDFELLAS by Maggie Bruce. Second in the Lili Marino, freelance PR writer and gourd artist cozy mystery. Set in upstate NY, where Lili has moved to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. She’s beginning to settle in to her new life there when a woman is found murdered a short distance from her cottage—and worse yet, the killer has stashed the rifle in Lili’s attic—until it falls onto her kitchen floor. The murdered woman was outspoken about her feelings about the hotly debated casino and she had a powerful personality and the organization skills to put together a strong campaign. Did someone on the opposing side silence her? Or was this personal? I figured out most of the mystery rather early on—the clues were just way too obvious—and like many cozy mystery heroines, Lili seems to have a smorgasbord of men to choose from and can’t make up her mind. *SIGH* Still, I rather enjoyed this, though not as much as I’d anticipated I would. I do give it a solid B, though. We’ll see how the next one plays out.
14. BURNING GARBO by Robert Eversz. #3 in the Nina Zero series, featuring ex-con and celebrity photographer Nina Zero, who lives in LA. While Nina is perched on a hill overlooking a reclusive celebrity’s home hoping for a chance at a photo, a man blunders past her and when he sees here there, attempts to kill her. When she comes to, moments later, a fire is raging down the hillside and has quickly engulfed the movie star’s home in an inferno that no one could survive. Because of Nina’s record and her being at the scene, a desperate arson investigator attempts to pin the blame for the fire on Nina and she begins her own investigation to clear her name of not only arson, but murder. Are the charred remains found inside those of Angela Doubleday? Another complication—a large Rottweiler with no teeth who comes bounding out of the smoke and ashes attaches himself to Nina and she very reluctantly takes him home and feeds him. Something about the pooch tugs at Nina’s heartstrings like no sad human story could. I like Nina a lot and like these books, too. Nina is not always an easy person to like and her life is so full of crap that it’s hard to say I “enjoyed” the book, because I’d be a sadist if I did. LOL But I find the writing style hard to put down and do find Nina a very viable and believable character. A.
15. ANTIDOTE FOR AVARICE by Caroline Roe. #3 in the Isaac of Girona historical mystery series set in 1534
16. WYRD SISTERS by Terry Pratchett. Sixth (in publication order) of the Discworld books, this introduces The Witches—Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat Garlick—who happen to be my favorite characters. I read this a few years ago, but it was wonderful to be back in Lancre getting to know the three gals and their distinct and unique personalities all over again. When the king of Lancre is murdered, the new king starts doing things that just goes against the grain of the land. Finally, Granny Weatherwax and has enough and decides to very subtly (ha!) go against the age old policy of witches not interfering in politics and help to put the rightful heir to the throne where he belongs. Trouble is, he’s only a toddler! What to do, what do to? Much hilarity ensues as well as plenty of semi-buried dry English humor. An all-time favorite of mine. A+
17. THE BLACK VIOLIN by Maxence Fermine. Novella set in 1797 in
DNF: YEAR ZERO by Jeff Long. Plague fiction/post-apocalyptic thriller that wasn’t so thrilling. Character development was awful, and he kept bouncing back and forth between several groups of characters and times, and you felt like you only were seeing cardboard cutouts of people. Things were either explained not enough or in painful detail. The dialogue read like something out of a B movie. While the premise was fascinating, the writing style and characters just didn’t capture my interest, and I gave it more than double my usual 50-page rule.
DNF: TOUCH THE DARK by Karen Chance. First paranormal romance featuring Cassie someone or other…I can’t remember her last name. She can foretell the future, anyway. This book sported atrocious grammar and word usage and poor proofreading that really dragged me out of the story. (Example just in the first few pages: wondering how someone would “fair” as opposed to the correct “fare” and a typo that named a trash-carrying barge as a “garbage scowl.” If it weren’t so annoying it would be funny! That said, the story itself was boring, so it wouldn’t have taken much to distract me from it. The writing style was very blah and I could not get “into” the storyline nor bring myself to care at all about the main character after about 45 pages so I gave it up. NEXT!