Monday, June 29, 2015

Spider Woman's Daughter

Our July mystery book selection is Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman.

Spider Woman's Daughter (Navajo Mysteries, #19)

I don't know how I missed this series. For those of you like me, that don't know, Anne Hillerman is the daughter of Tony Hillerman who wrote 18 Leaphorn and Chee novels, among other achievments.
Tony Hillerman passed away in 2008 and his daughter Anne, has picked up the series with Spider Woman's Daughter.


"It happened in an instant: After a breakfast with colleagues, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito sees a sedan career into the parking lot and hears a crack of gunfire. When the dust clears, someone very close to her is lying on the asphalt in a pool of blood.
With the victim in the hospital fighting for his life, every person in the squad and the local FBI office is hell-bent on catching the gunman. Bernie, too, wants in on the investigation, despite regulations strictly forbidding eyewitness involvement. Her superior may have ordered her to take some leave, but that doesn't mean she's going to sit idly by, especially when her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter.
Pooling their skills, Bernie and Chee discover that a cold case involving Chee's former boss and partner, retired lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, may hold the key to the shooting. Digging into the old investigation with discriminating eyes and a fervent urgency, husband and wife find themselves inching closer to the truth with every clue . . . and closer to a killer who will do anything to prevent justice from taking its course."

The story takes place in New Mexico in the Four Corners region. If you have traveled that way, you will recognize several of the towns that are mentioned. But I never saw the land and scenery the way Manuelito and Chee describe it as the story unfolds. This book makes me want to go back there and have a new look.

I read this book pretty quickly, in just a few days. (I think I got my book groove back after that book that did me in). What I loved about this book, is the look into the Navajo customs, traditions and beliefs.  I knew nothing about this culture, apparently.  For instance, one thing I found very interesting, is how the characters would refer to other people. They refer to others by their relationship to them or their Navajo name which came from their personality, life event or a character trait.  Rather than asking about Darlene, Bernie Manuelito's sister, their mother would refer her as" the one who is your sister". Bernie meets Darlene's boyfriend and dubs him with the name "Stoop Boy" because he has poor posture.  Another fascinating tradition is how people who haven't met previously, introduce themselves. They don't say "Hi I am Bernie Manuelito". Each person runs through their lineage for the other person and often identify that they are related or are clansmen. (Being an amateur genealogist, I am so jealous! They get "leaves" just by talking for five minutes.)

And why is it called "Spider Womans' Daughter"? Bernie's mother tells her " You work on a case bit by bit, line my line, and you keep going until you figure out what's what. Spider Woman's daughter, weaving together the threads of time."

There was one thing that put me off at first: an incident involving Leaphorn's cat. Bernie takes his cat to take care of it while he is in the hospital and she LOOSES THE CAT. (Yes I am a cat lover) Not to worry....

The story was excellent but was peppered with so much about the Navajo culture that made it especially interesting to me.

This is a series I will either go back and start with book #1 or at least pick up at the next one; Rock With Wings.

Next up: The Recipient by Dean Mayes.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Mystery Street" - a film noir

Turner Classic Movies is showing some great film noir movies this summer.
We watched "Mystery Street" the other night.

"Vivian Holden (Jan Sterling) is having some problems. She’s dead broke, owes her landlady two weeks worth of rent and the mysterious Hyannis 3633 man she keeps trying to reach on the phone is giving her the run around. In desperation, Vivian takes advantage of innocent-bystander Henry Shanway (Marshall Thompson), a sad man drinking away his sorrows in attempt to forget his sick wife current hospital stay. Vivian drives Henry’s yellow Ford down to Hyannis from Boston, abandoning Henry along the way. When Vivian finally confronts the Hyannis man that has been eluding her, she finds herself face-to-face with the barrel of his gun.

Six months later, Vivian Holden’s bones are found at a beach, but only we, the audience, know that those bones are hers. It’s up to Lieutenant Peter Morales (Ricardo Montalban) solve the mystery of both the crime and to identity the victim. What results is an intriguing film noir, directed by John Sturges, that blends murder mystery with forensic science. If anyone tells you forensic science is a new phenomenon in contemporary entertainment, just direct that person to Mystery Street (1950) and they will be in for a pleasant surprise. "
read more

What was so good about it you ask? Modern forensic science was fairly new at the time. The movie does a wonderful job at highlighting some of the new techniques. Prompted by a Dr. McAdoo at Harvard, the lieutenant is able to trace backwards what happened to the victim.

For instance, Dr. McAdoo points to the plants on the bones; saying that they were uprooted when she was buried, and those particular plants would have been blooming six months ago. They now have the approximate date of the death. He indicates that the bones belong to a female, about 65 inches in height. The bones of the feet indicate she would have been a "toe dancer." They now have approximate date of death, height, occupation and sex of the victim.  The pull together all missing female reports for that time and break down those that fit that description. Then they get photographs and superimpose the photos on a picture of the skull. They are able to identify the victim with that.

And so it goes... step by step and very deliberate.  It was an excellent movie and quite thrilling as they come closer and closer to finding the murderer.

It is black and white which adds to the feeling of the movie. I was not familiar with any of the actors other than Ricardo Montalban and Elsa Lancaster.  But it quickly grabbed my attention and held it.

Excellent movie! I highly recommend it.

True for me....

Goodreads's photo.

This is true for me. When I finish a book, I have to wait a day to start a new one. Unless it is the next book in a series, but I haven't done that in awhile.

After I read "Natchez Burning", I had to read cozies for a couple of months.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Things Only Book Lovers Will Understand"

Happy Summer All!

I saw this today on my daily Book Bub notice and thought you all would like it.

Book Bub is a great free site to subscribe to, by the way. Enter the type of books you like to read and you will get daily notices on really good deals on ebooks.

Currently reading:  Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman.
More to come on that. Meanwhile enjoy this:

# 1
17 Things Book Lovers Knows for Sure

Click on the link for more.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Onyx Webb

Hey everybody. I just read a really good "spooker".

Onyx Webb by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz.

Onyx Webb: Book One: Episodes 1, 2, & 3

I love a good ghost story. Stories that scare you a bit but because there is room for imagination and the question "could that happen?", not gory, graphic in your face terrifying.

" It’s June, 1980 and piano prodigy, Juniper Cole is on the way to her senior prom.

- It’s January 2010, and Koda Mulvaney has blown through his 20 million dollar trust fund and is told by his father to return home and get to work.

- It’s August, 1904 and little Onyx Webb is on her way to the famous World’s Fair in St. Louis with her father, Catfish.

Two of the three will see a ghost, one will become a ghost and everyone will learn that life is hard to let go of even when you’re dead. And that's just Book One. Designed to read like a supernatural soap opera, Onyx Webb is a paranormal suspense series, with supernatural romance, as well as a dash of historical fiction. The stories may haunt you, the darkness may disturb you, but ultimately you’ll be reminded to treasure every moment of your life because… If you think life is precious now? Just wait until you’re dead.   "

I read this book in 3 days. This is easily a "read in one sitting" book and if I could have, I would have read it in one day. It is a page turner.

This is book one of 10 with a total of 27 episodes. It is a "paranormal soap opera". I was totally hooked just flipping through the pages.

The main character is Onyx Webb. We are introduced to her in 1904 as she and her father are traveling from New Orleans to the World's Fair in St. Louis. We are given a little background about Onyx's mother and her birth, which teases us with a little mystery about her mother and her death when Oxnyx is born. There is very unsettling incident at the fair with Onyx. I suspect there is more to Onyx than we know yet. Something supernatural, paranormal, some power? Her father was going to tell her "everything" on her 29th birthday but she ran off with a man. She should have listened to her father.

In the first few chapters, we are introduced to other characters, who live in different cities and different years. Each chapter gives a bit of history associated with the current city or building of the year in which it takes place, which is very interesting and relevant to the story. (I love books that go back and forth between different times like this.)

The story is gradually and skillfully woven like a web with the other characters. Each touches each other in some way. Some are living, some are not. Some are very kind, intelligent people, some are not. There are many times that it makes you want to shout " no don't go there... look in there... don't forget about etc..." There is even a "girl in a mirror" that you want to help.

Each chapter has a picture of either a character or a place in old black and white and looks very spooky. Just looking at the pictures before I started the book got me.

Not a lot of fluff and loooong irrelevant descriptions which makes it a quick read.

I cannot wait for the second book to come out in July!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts is 8th in the Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen. This book won an Agatha Award in 2015 for Best Historical Novel.

I had never read any of these books but chose it as one of my pics for our June Mystery Book Club. We read books from this year's Stop Your  Killing Me list. (

This series features Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British throne. She is a young woman, not yet married, and has to spend her days doing what is proper for a person in her position. Her young man is Darcy who is frequently traveling and does some sleuthing for Scotland Yard. She stumbles upon mysteries in each book.

Queen of Hearts takes place in 1934, after the depression. Georgiana is staying with a dowager duchess and her two sisters and is quite bored. She is soon rescued by her mother, an actress and former duchess. She wants Georgiana to accompany her to Reno, Nevada to get a quick divorce from her current husband so she marry her present love interest.

They set sail for New York along with their lady's maids. Georgiana's maid is Queenie. Queenie provides the humor in the story. She is not really keen on doing what a lady's maid should, preferring to sleep late, eat her meals with the family, go here and there whenever she wants. On the ship, they meet many celebrities including Cy Goldman, movie producer. He persuades Georgiana's mother to be in his next movie. Wallis Simpson and Charlie Chaplin also put in appearances.

Georgiana sees what appears to be someone fall overboard on the ship one night. Also another guest on board reports a ruby missing. After the search for both a missing guest and the ruby, they land in New York. After a humorous stop in Reno, they end up in Hollywood and eventually Cy Goldman's mansion that has been furnished with items from castles in Europe. He has invited the cast to stay at his place for the weekend.

Of course this doesn't go as planned what with all the big egos and affairs amongst the guests and someone ends of dead.

I really enjoyed this book and will go back and read the others in the series. It made me think of the movies Clue and And Then There Were None because of all the secrets so many of the characters had and the predicament they all end up in. Very entertaining and a quick read.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Life is too short. Read a book first.

This was my thought yesterday as I did my usual Saturday errands and cleaning. A play on "Life is too short. Eat dessert first".  I was pondering why I haven't been reading as much as I would have liked to this past month and what to do about that.

With summer upon us (it is 90 here already daily), I was reminiscing about my summers of reading as a child and teenager.

 Some of that I have mentioned before: weekly trips to the Book Mobile, checking out the maximum number of books, opening my mother's Book of the Month selection before she could.... I was thinking back to when I was a teenager. I remember laying in the sun and purposely  applying baby oil to get burned and reading a book while I fried, literally. I also remember walking to the local 7-11 and buying a bag of Cheetos and maybe the latest paperback in the store. Then back to my room where I would lay on my bed, eat the entire bag of Cheetos and read the book. (I am kind of wondering now how I ate that much lying down and what about the orange fingers I must have had) . I remember walking around the house reading while I walked. Coming to the dinner table with a book and my father saying " get your nose out of that book."

Ahhh the summers of our youth. We never went to summer camps. I never was an athletic kid. My only sporty thing I did was ride my bike to the library or to or with friends. But if I had nothing to do, I "read my book". And was perfectly happy.

I do bring my book to read while walking on the treadmill at the health club. (shhhh sometimes I go to the health club only because I know I will be able to read under the premise of "working out".) I often wonder if I could read and ride my bike now. That seems to be the best exercise for me. I think the answer is No.

Here is what is on my reading list for June:

My summer goal is read more and worrying about home maintenance less!

What are you reading this first month of summer? What do you remember about your summers as a "kid"?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mystery Book Club Picks

Our Mystery Book Club (MBC) met this week. For this month, the theme was 2015 award winning and nominated books. The entire list can be found on
We also brought goodies to share. That is always a plus. We even discussed a Mystery Book Club Cookbook. :)

We all read any books off of the list that we wanted and then shared with the group. I thought I would share the titles that the members read with you. It may give you some ideas for your next book to read.

I read A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet. I talked about it last week.
I also started and am currently reading Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen. This book won Best Historical Fiction under the Agatha Awards.

Here are some of the books read by the MBC members.

  • Ice Shear by M.P. Cooley: nominated for Best First Mystery/Anthony Award and Best First Novel/Barry Award
  • Invisible City by Julia Dahl: nominated for Best First Mystery/Anthony Award and Best First Novel/Barry Award
  • Truth Be Told by Hank Phillipi Ryan: nominated for Best Mystery Novel/Anthony Award
  • The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler Olson: Nominated for Best Novel/Barry Award
  • I Am Pilgrim: by Terry Hayes: nominated for Best Thriller/Barry Award
  • Dry Bones In The Valley by Tom Bouman: winner Best First Novel by an American Author/ Edgar Awards
  • January Thaw by Jess Lourey: nominated Left Award for Most Humorous Mystery/Left Coast Crime Awards
  • The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews: nominated Left Award for Most Humorous Mystery/Left Coast Crime Awards
  • Wink Of An Eye by Lynn Chandler Willis: nominated for First Best P.I. Novel/Shamus Award
  • The Martian by Andy Weir: nominated for First Best Novel/Thriller Awards ( movie is in the works based on this book)
  • The Devil In The Marshalsea by Antonia Hodges: 2014 Historical Dagger Award, nominated for New Blood Dagger Award
  • The Final Silence by Stuart Neville: nominated for Best Mystery/Edgar Award

There. Maybe you have a favorite author in the list or try someone new. All of the MBC members liked their choices. Good reads for summer!