Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Engaged in Danger by Barbara Venkataraman

I listened to the 4th Jamie Quinn mystery last week.  Engaged in Danger by Barbara Venkataraman.

Thanks to Barbara, this was my introduction to audible books!


"Finally, life is good for reluctant family law attorney, Jamie Quinn--her father may get his visa soon, her boyfriend is the bomb, and her law practice is growing like crazy--but when she agrees to take on a high-profile divorce case, everything falls apart. What looked like an opportunity to work with her friend Grace and make some serious bucks has turned into a deadly game, one that could destroy their friendship and tear their town apart. Why couldn't Jamie just leave well enough alone? "

My thoughts:
While the Jamie Quinn series is a cozy, there is nothing cozy about the story.  Jamie receives threats to cease and desist with the divorce case. Why is the soon to be ex so hostile about it? Then there are Jamie's neighbors Mike and Sandy. Sandy's sister and brother in law were killed in a plane crash and have adopted their daughter, Katie. There are some unanswered questions about the plane crash.  Jamie's boyfriend Kip has left for Australia for work for two months, and now Grace, Jamie's best friend won't talk to her. Surrounding all of that, there is computer hacking, kidnapping, unsavory characters and possible money laundering. Whew.

The series takes place in Hollywood Florida. I lived in south west Florida for several years so it is fun for me to read about places I recognize. I had not listened to an "audible" book before. Years ago, I listened to a book on tape but I think the tape broke or something and never finished it. I resisted "audible" books as I did e books. I like the real thing. But then I received a Nook as a gift and I love it. Now I received an "audible" and guess what I discovered? I can enjoy more than one book at a time! I can listen to one book while I do things around the house or listen at work if I have some slow time. Most of you probably already know that. :) Yay for me! Thanks Barbara.

It's a really good book. Fast paced and unpredictable.

On to book 5!

I received a free book and voluntarily provided this review.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Our July Mystery Book Club selection was Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.

You may recognize Noah Hawley as a screenwriter, and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced, and served as showrunner for ABC's My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX's award-winning series, Fargo.


What it's about: 

"On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

Was it by chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something more sinister at work? A storm of media attention brings Scott fame that quickly morphs into notoriety and accusations, and he scrambles to salvage truth from the wreckage. Amid trauma and chaos, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy grows and glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, morality, and the inextricable ties that bind us together."

What we thought (the book club members that is): Everyone finished it and all liked it. Some more than others. Everyone liked the story; easy to read, quick read, and draws you in. The story was told in a bit of a different way. The main event happens at the beginning, then each character's story is told separately as they are gradually woven together. Several of the characters are not very likeable. Several of the characters are very likeable. But I think that shows good writing - if the author can cause some emotion toward a character whether positive or negative. 

The book was nominated for a McCavity Award in 2017 for Best Novel. It did win ITW (International Thriller Writers) Thriller Award for Best Hard Cover Novel in 2017 and an Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2017.

Everyone agreed they would recommend it. Let me know what you thought about the ending...

Friday, July 13, 2018

Featuring on Friday - Virginia King

This Friday, I am featuring another Australian author, Virginia King. Virginia writes the Selkie Moon series. 

I first "met" Virginia and Selkie through a read and review opportunity and have read all of the series since. I have also really loved being part of Selkie's Circle. (see at the end of this post).

About Virginia: 

"When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series, what’s a writer to do? That’s how I came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. I sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up -- a modern woman with a mythical name. Soon I was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.

Before Selkie Moon invaded my life, I'd been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days I live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with my husband, where I disappear each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.

You can read about how the series evolved here: here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/behind-the-..., taking on a life of its own through several versions, guided by readers and editors and agents and publishers. The First Lie has won a BRAG Medallion and the series is now a trilogy + prequel."

The first thing that attracted me to the series was "selkie". One of my favorite movies I watched with my kids was The Secret of Roan Innish which was about a selkie. 

From Wiki: Selkies (also spelt silkies, sylkies, selchies) or Selkie folk (Scots: selkie fowk) meaning "Seal Folk"[a] are mythological beings capable of therianthropy, changing from seal to human form by shedding their skin. 

The series is set in current time but Virginia used mythology and folklore in each of the books. And there are some really interesting characters! 

There are four books in the Selkie Moon series. Each book is set in a different country. (Virginia is working on the fifth in the series.)

Laying Ghosts is the prequel to the series.

The First Lie (Selkie Moon Mystery #1)


The Second Path (Selkie Moon Mystery #2)


The Third Note (Selkie Moon Mystery #3)

Virginia also wrote a book called Leaving Birds which is a " collection of creepy folktales with adult themes." Really good.


You can get a free copy of Laying Ghosts at http://www.selkiemoon.com/.

If you like the series, Virginia has a fun Facebook group called Selkie's Circle,  where she shares folklore, funny cartoons and quips and gets fans opinions for her works in progress. 

I am so looking forward to book five!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

No Cure for the Dead by Christine Trent

I recently read No Cure for the Dead by Christine Trent. This was interesting to me because the main character is Florence Nightingale. You know her. The founder of modern nursing. I have always been interested in biographies in addition to mysteries. I am fairly familiar with Florence Nightingale, being a nurse. Nurse's Day is celebrated every year on her birthday, May 12. Graduating nurses still recite her pledge. 

This book is the first book in Christina Trent's new Florence Nightingale Mysteries.


Here's what it is about: 

"When a young nurse dies on her watch, Florence Nightingale must uncover the deep-hidden secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

It is 1853. Lady of the Lamp Florence Nightingale has just accepted the position of Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London. She has hardly had time to learn the names of the nurses in her charge when she suddenly finds one of them hanging in the Establishment’s library. Her name was Nurse Bellamy.

Florence’s mettle is tested by the dual goals of preserving what little reputation her hospital has and bringing Nurse Bellamy’s killer to justice. Her efforts are met with upturned noses and wayward glances except for her close friend and advocate inside the House of Commons, Sidney Herbert. As Florence digs deeper, however, her attention turns to one of the hospital investors and suddenly, Sidney becomes reluctant to help.

With no one but herself to count on, Florence must now puzzle out what the death of an unknown, nondescript young nurse has to do with conspiracies lurking about at the highest levels of government before she’s silenced too."

My thoughts: I liked the book. Lots of twists and turns, well written, keeps you interested. I recognized several of the background information is based on fact. Florence was from an affluent family, expected to marry well and be wife, had a suitor who waited and waited and waited for her. But Florence chose to become a nurse and train others to be professional nurses. She did serve as superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen as her character in the book does. Many of the other names and characters are also based on fact. Also the description of women who called themselves nurses in the mid 1800's is accurate. Not exactly the cream of the crop. Here are the rules for nurses in 1887, probably highly influenced by Florence Nightingale.

In addition to caring for your 50 patients, each bedside nurse will follow these regulations:
1. Daily sweep and mop the floors of your ward, dust the patient’s furniture and window sills.
2. Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.
3. Light is important to observe the patient’s condition. Therefore, each day fill kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks.
4. The nurse’s notes are important in aiding your physician’s work. Make your pens carefully; you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.
5. Each nurse on day duty will report every day at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m., except on the Sabbath, on which day she will be off from 12 noon to 2 p.m.
6. Graduate nurses in good standing with the director of nurses will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if you go regularly to church.
7. Each nurse should lay aside from each payday a goodly sum of her earnings for her benefits during her declining years, so that she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn $30 a month, you should set aside $15.
8. Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop or frequents dance halls will give the director of nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions and integrity.
9. The nurse who performs her labors [and] serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years will be given an increase by the hospital administration of five cents per day.

I found it very interesting how the author took so many of Florence's factual life and turn it in to a good mystery. I am looking forward to the next in the series. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Featuring on Friday - Dean Mayes

This Friday I am featuring Dean Mayes.

 I was first introduced to Dean I 2015, through a "read and review" site. I think Dean is a pretty interesting person. He lives in Adelaide Australia. That in itself is interesting to me. He is an ICU nurse. I am a nurse also,(although I don't do clinical nursing anymore). He has a family. How does he find time to write books?

His third book, The Recipient was soon to be published. Being a psychological thriller with a medical story background, I jumped at. I quickly became a fan. (You can read my post on the The Recipient and also an interview with Dean in earlier posts. 7/28/15, 5/17/16). His fourth book, The Artisan Heart, is coming out in September. 

Dean Mayes

About Dean:
"When he emerged in 2010, Adelaide based Intensive Care Nurse and author Dean Mayes, had almost given up on the prospect of ever being published. by then in his 30's with several abortive writing attempts under his belt, Dean believed he had missed his opportunity. But Dean had an idea for one last story he wanted to tell and, rather than allow it to wither and die in his imagination, he decided to blog it instead.

Quite unexpectedly, Dean's blog took off and after a chance encounter with Canadian based publisher Central Avenue in mid 2009, Dean's dream like tale about a young man who discovers he has taken on the memories and dreams of a complete stranger, became his first novel. Dean was signed to an initial two year contract and in 2010 "The Hambledown Dream" was published. The novel has since gone on to receive global attention and critical acclaim.

Dean set about penning a follow up novel that was not merely a repeat performance and in 2012 "Gifts of the Peramangk" a powerful Australian family saga. Chronicling a dysfunctional Aboriginal family in the struggle streets of Adelaide's suburban fringe, "Gifts of the Peramangk" has been described as significant literary achievement. In October 2013, it was nominated as a finalist in the prestigious EPIC Awards for contemporary fiction.


Dean's third feature length novel, a psychological thriller set in Melbourne called "The Recipient", showcased his ability to cross genres and deliver a taut and gripping tome about a heart transplant patient who discovers her organ donor was a murder victim - and that the murder remains unsolved. 


Dean is currently editing his fourth novel, a return to his romantic roots, called "The Artisan Heart", which is scheduled for a September, 2018 release."

Dean is an excellent writer. Don't each of those books sound intriguing? His writing flows really well, and it's easy to read.

The Artisan Heart is coming out in September, 2018. Here is what it is about and a trailer for it.


"Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organised by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.
A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future."
Doesn't that sound really good? I have preordered it. Here is a link to the trailer and the chance to win a prize package! A signed copy of The Artisan Heart, a $50 gift certificate and a copy of "The Sound of Letting Go" 2016 studio album by Swear and Shake - the musical inspiration for the book.
Here are some other links if you would like to check out more about Dean; Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and Central Avenue Publishing.

I can't wait for The Artisan Heart! 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Benjamin Forrest and The Lost City of Ghouls by Chris Ward

I talked about Chris Ward last week and I read his book The Man by the Sea. I wanted to share his third book in the Edinifinium series, The Lost City of the Ghouls. 

I had a chance to read this book, although I haven't yet read the first two. I wouldn't say you have to read the first two, but probably would be good to do. I wasn't lost in reading the story, but I do want to know how it all started.


Here's what it's about:

"At the end of everything ... there is a new beginning.

Benjamin Forrest and his friends witness their first triangulation, a ceremony for Endinfinium High's graduating pupils, where they can choose whether to remain with the school or make their own way in the world. Three brave pupils opt for adventure, but when, a few weeks later, one is found wandering in the Haunted Forrest, pursued by dangerous ghouls and babbling about a lost city, Benjamin and his friends are thrown into their most dangerous situation yet.

For the Lost City of the Ghouls is coming ... and it will stop at nothing to destroy Endinfinium High once and for all."

The first two books are:

Benjamin Forrest and the School at the End of the World
Benjamin Forrest and the Bay of Paper Dragons

My thoughts:  If you like YA fantasy, this would be a great summer series.  Harry Potter meets Disney. There is lots of action and suspense as all fingers point to Benjamin to save his friends before the Lost City of Ghouls lands at Endinfinium and turns everyone into ghouls!. Beware - a big cliff hanger at the end (as Chris Ward is really good at), leaving us wanting the next installment NOW. 

The first two books are on my TBR list. I am reading some books that aren't mysteries lately. I have just been exposed to so many good ones of other genres lately. :)

( I received a free copy and voluntarily provided this review).