On My Bookshelf: July 28/17

I had a birthday last week and got a gift card from my sister for Chapters ( a Canadian bookstore for real and online) and so have managed to pick up a few more books (which I swore I wouldn’t do until my TBR list got more of a dent in it) in addition to some I’ve found on my bookshelves that I forgot I had.  Go figure.  So here’s what I’m hoping to read soon:

Lion by Saroo Brierley

Wanted to see the movie and never did so am looking forward to reading the story.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

A modern story about hacking and crusading journalism, cybercriminals and spies.

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

This is about the Dreyfus affair in France (1895), something I next next to nothing about until I read a book on this topic by Paulette Mahurin and found it such a fascinating chapter in history that I’m looking forward to reading more about it.

Final Stop, Algiers by Mishka Ben-David

This is an ARC edition from Net Galley that I hope will be as exciting as it sounds and will pretty much have to be the next book I read.

The Proposal by Lily Zante

This is the first book in A Perfect Match series but now has a prequel as well as sequels.  Haven’t read this author before but am looking forward to it.

Ask Me Again — An Inspirational Romance — Book 1 by Kara Kinsley

Don’t know this author, either, but expect it to be a cozy read.

Stories from the War by Autumn M. Birt

This is a dystopian thriller (not my usual fare), first in the series, Friends of My Enemy.  Sounds interesting so I’m looking forward to it.

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

This is part of the Hope Beach series and from the prologue, it may not be the cozy read I thought it.

Read any of these?  Leave a note to tell me what you thought of it/them, then tell me what’s on your shelf.  Thanks for dropping by My Bookshelf.

Posted in Adult Book, Adventure, Biography, Historical Fiction, Musings, Mystery, Romance, Spy Thriller, Thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cozy Read Wednesday: Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Today’s cozy read is by a prolific author whose name is extremely familiar to me and yet this is only the second book I’ve ever read by Debbie Macomber.  Summer on Blossom Street is part of a series and seems to come in about the middle.  It tells the stories of several people who work on Blossom Street near Lydia Goetz’ wool store, A Good Yarn and people they know, meet, and love.  Lydia runs the store with the help of her sister Margaret and together they’re hosting a special night class called Knit to Quit for people have something or someone they need to relegate to the past.  It’s a catchy idea and catch on it does.

Anne Marie owns Blossom Street Books and, while she would like to attend the class, because of her adopted 9-year-old daughter, Ellen, thinks she will do the knit project at home.  Her husband died about two years ago and maybe it’s time for a bit of romance to come into her life.  When Ellen’s biological father turns up, Anne Marie will need more than knitting to reduce the stress.

Phoebe Rylander is a physiotherapist who has just ended an engagement with a charming, manipulative, and philandering lawyer whom she loved very much.  But now she needs to focus on something that will help her get over him despite their two families trying to push them back together.

Alix Turner is the baker at the French Café across the street from A Good Yarn.  Alix is trying to give up smoking so that she and her husband, Jordan, can start a family.  Because of her dysfunctional formative years passed from foster home to foster home, she’s not convinced she’ll make a good mother despite the fact that she wants it more than anything.

“Hutch” Hutchinson’s doctor has warned him to get fit and do something besides work 10 hours a day and worry about the looming court case where he’s being sued by a woman who claims to have lost her employment value because she’s become obese as a result of eating the chocolates his company produces.  He joins a fitness club and the Knit to Fit class to reduce his stress.

Lydia, too, needs to reduce her stress levels as many things complicate her life.  She and her husband, Brad, want to adopt a baby since she can’t have children of her own.  Her step-son, Cody, is all in favour.  But when their social worker calls them in desperation to foster a 12-year-old girl, Casey, for “just a few days” and it begins to turn into the whole summer, their family is totally disrupted.  Add to that caring for her aging mother and Cody’s total dislike of Casey, and she’s going to need lots of knitting projects to reduce the stress.

The various stories are told in separate chapters and I have to admit I was tempted to skip ahead and read a particular person’s story (not saying which one) straight through.  But I didn’t.  Lydia narrates her own story but the others are told in the 3rd person.  There is an element of faith running through the stories without being pushy or overwhelming.  All of them are well-told and well-paced and the book moves along very quickly.  It’s easy to see why Macomber is so often at the top of the best seller lists.  In addition to the Blossom Street series, she has many Christmas novels, and a series called Cedar Cove which appeal to me but several other series as well — something for everyone.  Very fast read.  * * * *

Posted in Adult Book, Author, Christian, Meme, Opinion, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: Wedlock by Wendy Moore

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  Today’s intro and teaser are from a book I’m hoping to get to soon.  It’s been on my shelf for awhile and is a book I first learned of through these memes.  Based on a true story, here is the beginning of Wendy Moore‘s history of  Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore, Wedlock:

An Affair of Honour — London, January 13, 1777

Settling down to read his newspaper by the candlelight illuminating the dining room of the Adelphi Tavern, John Hull anticipated a quiet evening. Having opened five years earlier, as an integral part of the vast Adelphi development designed by the Adam brothers on the north bank of the Thames, the Adelphi Tavern and Coffee House had established a reputation for its fine dinners and genteel company. Many an office worker like Hull, a clerk at the government’s Salt Office, sought refuge from the clamor of the nearby Strand in the tavern’s upper-floor dining room with its elegant ceiling panels depicting Pan and Bacchus in pastel shades. On a Monday evening in January, with the day’s work behind him, Hull could expect to read his paper undisturbed.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same book:

The man who reluctantly surrendered his sword now fell swooning to the floor, and in the light of candles brought by servants, a large blood stain could be seen seeping across his waistcoat. p.2

Another [maid] overheard Bowes order Mary to tell the servants she had received a black eye by accident and stated: “His whole behaviour was cruel and ill-natured in general, and not confined to particular instances.” p.153

Based on the intro and teasers, would you keep reading?  Are you familiar with the author or the Countess?  If you’ve read this already, please share what you thought of the book.  Don’t forget to link to your post for First Chapter, First Paragraph, or Teaser Tuesday.

Posted in Adult Book, Biography, History | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Mystery Monday: This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

Today’s mystery feature is This Side of Murder by Daphne award-winning author Anna Lee Huber.  I received a free ARC copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  This is the first in a new Verity Kent Mystery series and although she has a bestselling series, Lady Darby Mysteries, this is the first book by Huber that I’ve read.  It is a classic — an island setting, a storm cutting off communications, cryptic notes, army buddies harbouring resentments, and the body count rising.

Verity Kent is a war widow invited to an engagement party at Walter Ponsonby’s island estate in Simon’s stead as the men are all survivors of the Thirtieth Battalion, her husband’s regiment.  Initially, she had decided to pass on the event but after receiving a typed letter which implied her husband had been a traitor and the writer would give her proof at the party she decided to go.  He, or she, also seems to know that Verity had worked with the Secret Service, a fact she had revealed to no-one, not even her husband whom she cannot believe was a traitor.  In anger, she agrees to go.

The first member of the party she runs into (almost literally) is Max Westfield, Earl of Ryde.  She rather likes him as the day progresses and is inclined to trust him but when the cryptic notes keep coming and she has no idea which of the assembled company is writing them, she is cautious about what she tells him.  The hanging is meant to look like a suicide but neither Verity or Max is convinced.  Walter says he’s notified the authorities but no-one shows up.  The second death is clearly murder — gunshot wound to the heart.  Verity’s room is ransacked and the third potential death is murder by multiple bee stings.  Will anyone survive the party?

This is a murder setting that has been done many times but there are enough twists and interesting details that make it work.  Verity is a resourceful, competent sleuth who manages to catch her balance no matter what is thrown at her.  Her attraction to Max seldom clouds her judgment and her training in the service stands her in good stead.  As this is the first in a series, I look forward to more sleuthing by Mrs. Verity Kent.  * * * *

If you, too, are a fan of mysteries, I hope you’ll not only enjoy my Monday posts but will contribute by publishing your own Monday Mystery, mentioning my meme, then come to my blog, comment on your mystery (or mine) briefly, and include the link directly to your mystery review.  You can also copy my MMM badge to your post.

Posted in Adult Book | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Palace of Darkness by Tracy L. Higley — a novel of Petra

Petra is an ancient city carved out of stone, hidden from the world for hundreds of years.  In 106 A.D., it was about to be annexed to the mighty Roman Empire.  It was a time of persecution of Christians throughout the Empire and in places, or palaces, where pagan gods were jealously guarded by people of power and influence.  Petra was one such place.  Queen Hagiru, high priestess of Dushara was one such person of power.  Second wife of King Rabbel, Hagiru has produced a son Obadas, heir to the throne.  When Cassia, a peasant girl from Damascus, arrives in Petra with the king’s grandson from his first marriage — Alexander, son of Aretas, son of Rabbel and Gamilath — all that Hagiru has worked for is threatened.

The story begins in Rome where we meet a young aristocrat named Julian.  He and his parents, his father a powerful senator, all follow The Way, the name given to early followers of Jesus Christ.  The Emperor Trajan has tolerated dissent and Christians in specific but Julian has become to vocal and several of his friends, including his fiancé have been taken to the Coliseum to be entertainment for the crowds.  Julian blames himself and, to protect his family he tells himself, he runs.  He runs to Petra.

Tracy recording her thoughts on the steps of The Treasury, Petra

When Aretas is killed by traders he has swindled, Cassia is left with very little besides the clothes on her back.  In desperation, she clings to the few clues Aretras had given her about his past — his family had disowned him and he was from Petra, living near the Temple of al-‘Uzza.  Summoning all her strength, she takes her son and leaves Damascus, joining a caravan heading for Petra to find safety with family — something she had really never known before.  Attacked and robbed on arrival, she finds herself and Alexander tended by Malik, elder of The Way in Petra and two women, Zeta and Talya.  When she discovers the true identity of Aretas, her troubles really begin and she will need all the friends she can find for evil fills the palace and will threaten her and her son both.

I’ve enjoyed other books by Tracy Higley set in and around this time period and in recent years it has become a dream of mine to visit Petra in Jordan, so this book was totally fascinating for me.  In addition to an intricate plot and compelling characters, the strong faith of persecuted Christians, and the struggle between good and evil, Higley made Petra come alive in a richly visual way.  You could follow Cassia down the streets that led to the temple and the palace.  You could climb the hill to the flat height where sacrifices were made for festivals.  And you could imagine Julian standing on a small ledge at a dizzying height carving façades in the sandstone cliffs.  Higley has done thorough research both from books and from personal tours of all the areas in which she sets her story, and this is one that holds your attention from start to finish.  Palace of Darkness is a thoroughly captivating historical fiction novel.   * * * * *

Posted in Adult Book, Adventure, Author, Christian, Historical Fiction, Opinion, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cozy Read Wednesday: To Win Her Favor (A Belle Meade Plantation novel by Tamera Alexander

Today’s cozy read is the first I’ve read by romance author Tamera Alexander and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Set in Tennessee shortly after the Civil War, To Win Her Favor takes full advantage of the horse breeding and racing the area is famous for as well as creating a vivid depiction of the difficulties freedmen (former slaves) had finding their places in the new society.  It also shows the distrust of foreigners prevalent at the time, particularly the Irish who “need not apply”.

Tennessee horse breeding society was a closed community of men — white men, powerful men — who were, for the most part, loathe to accept change.  All of the jockeys were black boys; all of the trainers were men.  So when Maggie Linden’s thoroughbred mare runs in a race, it is under her father’s name even though she has raised and trained Bourbon Belle since she was born.  Like many of the great plantations in the south, Maggie’s home is in danger.  Run down, only Maggie and her father left to run it, there are no crops planted and all of the livestock has been sold except for Bourbon Belle.  When her 10-year-old jockey Willie witnesses the hanging of his neighbour, his family decides to head for Chicago.  Maggie was counting on Bourbon Belle to win the inaugural Peyton Stakes in order to save her home from auction but she must have a jockey in order to do it.

For Irish immigrants coming to America for a fresh start, the south was an inhospitable place.  Cullen McGrath runs into discrimination everywhere he turns.  “No Irish need apply” signs were throughout the town, the blacksmith he had agreed to buy the handsome Percheron tried to change the deal, land suddenly wasn’t for sale, and powerful bullies were “encouraging” him to move further east or south to settle.  But Cullen liked the area and had promised his late wife that they’d farm in Tennessee where the green hills looked like home, and while she and their little Katie had died of typhoid on the trip over, he intended to keep his promise.

Gilbert Linden, Maggie’s father, is gravely ill and hiding it from her.  He is desperate to find a way to have her keep her home, Linden Downs, but without a jockey, they can’t count on race money to pay their back taxes and loan and the farm will go to auction.  When Linden meets Cullen, he likes what he sees in the strong Irishman, in the way he talks of his family, the way he handles a frightened stallion, and his fear of gambling and drink, vices his father had displayed to the detriment of the family.  Before the afternoon visit is done, Linden and Cullen have struck a strange bargain — Cullen will pay off the debt of the farm in exchange for full ownership but the caveat is that Cullen will marry Maggie.

An interesting plot that sees two strong characters first pulling against each other but eventually pulling together to fight discrimination, violence, and bloodshed as they begin to lift Linden Downs to become a thriving concern.  The Ku Klux Klan comes into it, lots of insight into horse racing, a strong power in the community becomes a staunch ally, and Cullen and Maggie when support and friendship from the workers they treat with respect and dignity.  When the daughter of one of them turns out to be a natural rider, Cullen and Maggie have to overcome obstacles and personal conflicts before they can agree about horse racing.  This is a powerful story in addition to being a romance and a very fast read because it is so hard to put down.  I’ll be looking for more by Tamera Alexander for sure. * * * * 1/2

Posted in Adult Book, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Opinion, Romance | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

First Chapter, First Paragraph & Teaser Tuesday: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

First Chapter, First Paragraph, is a meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.  Anyone can play — just copy the first paragraph of the first chapter (or prologue) and include a picture of the book cover. Leave your link at Bibliophile by the Sea.  Today’s intro and teaser are from The Reader by Berhard Schlink:

Chapter One

When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.  It started in the fall and lasted until spring. As the old year darkened and turned colder, I got weaker and weaker. Things didn’t start to improve until the new year. January was warm, and my mother moved my bed out onto the balcony. I saw sky, sun, clouds, and heard the voices of children playing in the courtyard. As dusk came one evening in February, there was the sound of a blackbird singing.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, now being hosted by Ambrosia of  The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!  So, from the same book:

As usual, I wondered whether [my father] was really turning over my mother’s question in his mind, or whether he was thinking about work. . . He was a professor of philosophy, and thinking was his life — thinking and reading and writing and teaching. p.30

I saw the movie and am looking forward to reading the book.  I’ve not read anything by this author  before although he has written several prize-winning crime novels which does sound right up my alley.  Have you read this novel?  Did you like it?  Have you read anything else by Schlink?  Let us know and leave a link to your intro and/or teaser for this Tuesday.

Posted in Adult Book, Drama, fiction, Meme, Movie, Romance | Tagged , | 6 Comments