Monday, June 24, 2019

Short Takes 6/24/2019

Don't have enough time to read? Check out this excellent list of 50 Must-Read Short Books Under 250 Pages from BookRiot.

Do you know the difference between a cozy and a traditional mystery? Here's an article that interviews the Agatha Award nominees before they attended Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland.

An what about using Instagram/Bookstagram? I didn't even know that was a thing until recently. Here are some tips from blogger Dominique: My Top 5 Bookstagram Tips.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

DARK SITE (2019)

Dark Site (Sam Dryden, #3)
Definitely another page-turner from Patrick Lee.

FIRST SENTENCE: "The last decision Danica Ellis made in her ordinary life - the life in which stress meant playing chicken with the rent due-date, and wondering if going back to school was another slow-motion train wreck of a mistake - was whether to buy sixty watt or hundred-watt light bulbs."

THE STORY: Two people who do not know each other barely escape attempted abductions. Thus begins another wild adventure featuring Sam Dryden, a retired military special forces experienced with off-the-books black op work.

As he an Danni try to solve the riddle of their connection while running from an unknown foe.

WHAT I THOUGHT:  Rather than the roller coaster ride of Runner (2014), Dark Site has an amazing start and then is interrupted by lots of exhausting back story in great detail.

The flashbacks to the past when Danni and Sam were twelve doesn't read like real children, but those are minor complaints in a story that will keep you up past your bedtime.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended but I would read Runner first, not for any background but because I still think it is the better book.

Disclaimer: A copy of Dark Site was provided to me by Minotaur Books/Net Galley for review purposes.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher:  Minotaur Books (May 28, 2019)
ISBN-10: 125003079X
ISBN-13:  978-1250030795


We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn, #4)
After seeing a number of mentions and reviews of Becky Masterman's first thriller Rage Against the Dying (2013), I got a copy from my local library and devoured it. Now I watch for each new title as it is released.This is the 4th book in the series but can be read as a stand alone.

Other titles in the series are Fear the Darkness (2015) and Twist of the Knife (2017).

FIRST SENTENCE: "Little Brigid Theresa Quinn, with a band-Aid on my knobby knee from jumping of a banyan tree o a dare, and a ponytail of red hair that should have been washed four days ago--I'm only six years old when I first hear about the murder of the Walker Family on December 19, 1959."

THE STORY: Inspired by Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD, Becky Masterman has created a modern crime thriller on the Clutter family murders in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. The story alternates between the past and today.

Brigid Quinn, a 60 year old retired FBI agent, has recently married and started a new life in Tucson, Arizona. Her husband Carlo, an ex-priest, is now a professor of philosophy and a good balance for Brigid.

Jerry Beaufort, out of prison after years behind bars, worries that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. His attempts to find the document that could implicate him will pit Jerry against the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.


"Cold cases, they call them, as if they're frozen harmlessly in the past without any power to wreak new havoc."

"That I hadn't killed anybody in about a year didn't feel like a huge point in my favor."

WHAT I THOUGHT: A most fascinating story whether you are knowledgeable about the Clutter Murders or are just hearing about them for the first time. And the author gets inside Jerry's head and lets us see the twisted thinking that the reader couldn't imagine.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly Recommended - just keep the lights on. 

DISCLAIMER: An advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book was provided to me by Minotaur and Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher:  Minotaur Books (June 4, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1250074525
ISBN-13:  978-1250074522

An acquisitions editor for a press that specializes in medical textbooks (forensic examiners and law enforcement!), Becky Masterman grew up in Florida and received her M.A. in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. She and her husband actually live in Tucson, Arizona. This is her first thriller.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


This year is the eleventh Young Adult Buzz Book. I don't usually read teen books but decided to venture into this popular genre.

The Book Expo's Young Adult Buzz Editor's Panel picks several titles to recommend and the first two were also the ones I chose after reading synopsis and part of a chapter.

Julia Drake's The Last True Poets of the Sea (Hyperion, October 1, 2019) is the story of "a lost shipwreck, a missing piece of family history, and weathering the storms of life." I love that it's set in Maine.

My second choice is Scars Like Wings (Delacorte, October 1, 2019) by Erin Stewart. It's been a year since the fire in which Ava Lee "lost everything. Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face."


A seductive preview of the best of the new books for the season and it's FREE!

First introduced for the 2012 Book Expo America, the FREE digital Publishers Lunch Buzz Books has become the place for both industry professionals and book lovers in general to discover and read about the books expected to spark high demand BEFORE they are published!

There are 45 fall and winter books for adults in this edition of Buzz Books. A second volume handling the burgeoning young adult titles is available.

"Publishers usually release their most prominent literary titles in the fall.The Introduction gives an overview of the upcoming publishing season broken down by literary fiction, debut fiction, commercial fiction, and followed by non-fiction conversation starters, memoir, and biography".

What's really great is that after many selections in Buzz Books, you have the option to follow a link and request the complete galley copy from Net Galley if you qualify as a 'professional' reader.

The fiction titles that caught my eye included Elizabeth Berg's The Confession Club (Random House, November), a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale from Margaret Atwood titled The Testaments (Nan A. Talese, September), another sequel from Elizabeth Strout called Olive Again (Random House, October), and I have already received copies of T.M. Logan's 29 Seconds (St. Martin's, September) and Lisa Lutz's The Swallows (Ballantine, August).

Personal favorites Louise Penny and Linwood Barclay both have books coming out this fall: Penny's A Better Man (Minotaur, August) and Barclay's Elevator Pitch (William Morrow, September).

In non-fiction, I was interested in Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know (Little, Brown, September), the latest offering from Malcolm Gladwell. Elton John's The Autobiography (Holt, October) and Patti Smith's Year of the Monkey (Knopf, September) both caught my eye too.


Monday, May 6, 2019


Sunset BeachSunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary Kay Andrews, the Queen of the Beach read, has delivered another book with "inviting dialogue, beautiful settings, low-stakes drama, and happy endings," although this time it's a darker, more intricate tale. The book will go on sale May 7, 2019.

Drue, down on her luck, moves back home and takes a job in her father's personal injury law firm. This isn't what she planned to do with her life so she is distracted by a couple of cases that she obsesses over. I'm not a big reader of chic-lit and kept putting the book down until I got closer to the ending. Then I couldn't put it down.

The Kindle edition I read included suggested book club questions and several recipes.

My guess is that this entry, in the long list of books by Mary Kay Andrews, will be another best-seller.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 7, 2019)
ISBN-10: 125012610X
ISBN-13: 978-1250126108

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


The Red PonyThe Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Many young people were forced to read this book in school. This is one of those stories that you may not like much on first reading. But today our book group at John Ganton's Countryside had a lively discussion of  The Red Pony. The precise use of words describing people and places creates a world the reader can picture.
We also watched the 1949 technicolor film with Robert Mitchum and Myrna Loyd. Music was by Aaron Copland. It deviated from the book in ways that we found disturbing even though Steinbeck himself adapted the story for the screen. The book is actually four short stories about Jody, a young boy living with his parents on a hard-scrabble farm in California, coming of age.

I discovered there is also a 1973 remake with Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Sullivan. In this made for television movie, Clint Howard (Ron Howard's brother) played the part of Jody.

Next month the tentative plan is to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The Jackson District Library has a wide selection of book kits that can be checked out for book groups.