Saturday, August 25, 2018

RUST & STARDUST by T. Greenwood (2018)

Rust & Stardust
I was a little concerned about the subject matter and kept setting the book aside but I need not have worried. T. Greenwood tells the tragic story of Sally Horner an 11 year old girl in Camden, New Jersey in 1948. It's the true crime that inspired Vladamir Nabokov to write the classic Lolita. (In the meantime Sarah Weinman has written a non-fiction literary exploration of the kidnapping. It goes on sale September 11, 2018.)

FIRST SENTENCE: "The girls at school had a club, a secret club with secret rules."

THE STORY: Sally Horner's story was immortalized by Vladamir Nabokov in his classic Lolita. T. Greenwood researched the true incident and chose to tell the story from Sally's point of view, a sweet, naive child of another generation.

Chapters are titled after the person who picks up the thread of the story. The reader gets insights into Sally's family, her mother Ella, sister Susan, and her sister's husband Al.

Along the way as Sally is taken from her home first to Atlantic City, then Baltimore, then Texas, and finally San Jose, California. Although people try to befriend and help, her captor moves on taking Sally with him.

WHAT I THOUGHT: As a teenager living in Philadelphia, I was invited to vacation at the shore (Atlantic City) with a friend one summer in the 50s. We ran into some boys we knew and managed to get in to see "Lolita". I think you had to be 17. We weren't. I didn't know about Sally Horner then. It's an amazing book and I am contemplating all the connections.

The writing is beautiful and haunting. A light touch makes it possible to read this heart-wrenching story. 

When I finally finished reading, I stopped and looked at the perfect cover. It makes me sad every time I see it.

BOTTOM LINE: T. Greenwood's book is a classic of its own. Read it. Talk about it. Highly recommended.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (August 7, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1250164192 
ISBN-13: 978-1250164193

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood from NetGalley/Minotaur Books for my honest review.

T. Greenwood is the author of twelve novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and, most recently, the Maryland State Arts Council. She has won three San Diego Book Awards. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks. BODIES OF WATER was finalist for a Lambda Foundation award. Her twelfth novel, RUST & STARDUST, was published in August 2018.

Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Both Good Reads and NetGalley ask readers to score the books they are reviewing on a one to five star scale. I've decided to do away with using that information on my blog. Here's why.

When I was younger I was reluctant to sing because I thought I wasn't as good as the other people in the room, in the world. Then I met a teacher who suggested that everyone had something to offer. It reminded me of the library rule that says "Every reader their book. Every book its reader."

I started wondering why I had to number rank the books I read. I had one author friend be taken aback because I only gave his new book 3 stars rather than the usual 4. It was more violent than I can handle these day and yet it is the book that will garner him many new readers.

Of course, there will be books I like more than others; and if I feel a book is poorly written and plotted, I don't need to read or review it at all.

I'd prefer to write about the delights and what the author has achieved.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

THE PRISONER IN THE CASTLE by Susan Elia MacNeal (2018)

The Prisoner in the Castle (Maggie Hope Mystery #8)I requested this title because it intrigued me and the cover illustration is wonderful. (Yes, I sometimes choose a book by its cover.) For those who love historical mysteries, I recommend starting with the first book in the series although THE PRISONER IN THE CASTLE can be read as a stand-alone. The Prisoner in the Castle is the eighth and latest installment in the Maggie Hope series.

FIRST SENTENCE: "Always remember when you're on the run, instinct will take over - and if you're not careful, you'll become nothing more than an animal."

THE STORY: Set in WWII, Maggie Hope is a British secret agent who has been banished to a remote Scottish island with a handful of other SOE (Special Operations Executive) prisoners. Killoch Castle, a large and ugly 1900 shooting lodge has become their home. Prohibited from letting friends and family know where they are, boredom reigns until a huge winter storm approaches and people begin to die.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I always mean to read during dialysis but often find myself watching television or wasting time on social media so it took me a few days to commit to involving myself in The Prisoner in the Castle. After recently swearing off more violent stories, reading a tribute to Agatha Christie was such a change. Murders happen but the puzzle is the emphasis.

The opening chapter gets your heart racing before introducing Maggie into the story.

I loved the remote Scottish island, the quirky characters, and the historical tidbits that flesh out the story. Although written in the third person Maggie's thoughts are scattered throughout endearing her to the reader.

Mick Wiggins is responsible for the amazing cover for this book. He has captured the character of Maggie and her situation in a beautiful rendition of despair and cold.

BOTTOM LINE: If asked, I never say I read historical fiction although I have made many exceptions. Susan Elia MacNeal is a great storyteller. Definitely recommended but start with the first book in the series!

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Bantam (August 7, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0399593829
ISBN-13: 978-0399593826

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of The Prisoner in the Castle by Susan Elia MacNeal from NetGalley/Bantam for my honest review.

Susan Elia MacNeal is an American author, best known for her Maggie Hope mystery series of novels, which are set during World War II, mainly in London, England. (Wikipedia)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mystery Authors Not to be Forgotten

I subscribe to a quarterly publication called Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine. Editor George Easter began a list of his favorite mystery writers who have left us but should still be read. He asked readers to submit any additional suggestions to him at (I've starred the authors I have read.) Who would you add?

Here's the list if you are looking for some highly recommended mystery authors:

Reginald Hill
Donald E. Westlake
Ruth Rendell **
Ross Thomas
Dick Francis **
Barbara Seranella
John D. MacDonald
Robert Barnard
Stuart Pawson **
Colin Dexter **
Peter Dickinson
M.R.D. Meek
Stuart M. Kaminsky
Ellis Peters **
Kate Ross
Bill Crider
George C. Chesbro
Bruce Alexander
L.R. Wright **
R.D Wingfield
Eric Wright
Ed McBain
Elmore Leonard **
Virginia Lanier
Philip Kerr

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Short Takes 7/31/2018

July 26, 2018 was the eleven year anniversary of Book Keeping. I decided to start blogging shortly before I retired so I would not loose touch with new books. Finding Net Galley allowed me access to wonderful books before the general public. As a matter of fact, I have to be careful not to drown in promises!


Today's mail brought me Donna Andrews newest entry in the Meg Langslow series. The twenty-third adventure is Toucan Keep a Secret. Cozy mysteries are not my first choice but I am looking forward to reading this. Thank you Minotaur Books/MacMillan!

Motherhood Noir, 10 Books That Explore the Fears and Ambivalences of Motherhood by Carol Goodman. The site is called Crime Reads and it is packed with information about "the best mystery, thriller, & crime on the Internet."

First glimpse at the plot of Louise Penny's new Inspector Gamache novel, Kingdom of the Blind, coming from Nov 27:


A Critic Sells Books Down by the Seashore

A bookstore in the village of Wigtown, Scotland, allows people to run the shop while renting an apartment upstairs. A book critic for The Times recently took his turn at the till.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

AFTER ANNA by Lisa Scottoline (2018)

After AnnaAfter Anna by Lisa Scottoline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading Lisa Scottoline with a paperback ARC copy of ANYWHERE THAT MARY WENT, Rosato & Associates #1 back in 1993. When I was offered a copy of her newest stand alone title AFTER ANNA, I was thrilled.

FIRST SENTENCE: "Noah Alderman watched the jurors as they filed into the courtroom with their verdict, which would either set him free or convict him of first-degree murder."

THE STORY: Maggie's teenaged daughter Anna wants to be reunited with her mother. The joy of this event is complicated by Anna's access to vast sums of money left to her by her father.

Maggie is now happily married to Noah, a pediatric doctor. Noah tries to enforce some family rules. Then the lies begin. But who is the liar?

Maggie and Noah's stories are told in alternating chapters. Both a domestic and legal thriller, the pacing picks up speed towards the end with twists and turns the reader won't see coming.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I get tired of stories that go back and forth but Lisa Scottoline makes it an important component of this story. Just when I thought it wasn't going anywhere, the roller coaster changed direction and raced to the end of the book.

BOTTOM LINE: You can trust Lisa Scottoline to deliver a good story. Recommended for a great summer read and beyond.

400 pages
Publisher: St Martin's Press (April 10, 2018)
ISBN-10: 125009965X

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of After Anna by Lisa Scottoline from NetGalley/St. Martin's Press for my honest review.

LISA SCOTTOLINE is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of the Rosato & DiNunzio series, as well as One Perfect Lie, Most Wanted, and many others. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, she has been published in thirty-five countries, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. Lisa also writes a weekly column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those critically acclaimed stories have been adapted into a series of memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. She lives in the Philadelphia area.  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

JAR OF HEARTS (2018) by Jennifer Hillier

Jar of HeartsJar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This title is popping up everywhere on suggested summer reads. It's a fascinating story mostly about people you aren't inclined to like who make terrible mistakes. I have stopped watching crime shows because they are so dreadful and cut back on the thrillers I once loved.

FIRST SENTENCE: "The trial has barely made a dent in the national news."

THE STORY: Georgina called Geo is best friends with Angela and Kaiser in high school until one night Angela disappears. For fourteen years Geo has kept secrets causing additional pain to all involved. Now she is on trial for murder.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Structured around the five stages of grief, the level of tension keeps the reader engaged although violence, rape, dismemberment, and sex may be a bit much for some readers.

I wasn't familiar with Christina Perri's hit Jar of Hearts, so I checked it out on You Tube. You might want to do the same.

BOTTOM LINE: If you can stomach the ugliness, this is a quick and engrossing read. I have to admit I devoured it in two days.

320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 12, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1250154197

DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier from NetGalley/Minotaur Books for my honest review.