Thursday, June 2, 2016

Are you seeing this? It's crazy out there.

It is still weirdly passive aggressive or actively aggressive crabbiness out in the world, have you noticed? Is there something in the air?

On my Yahoo mystery book group, we post our books read in the month.

Summary of reads from May:

MURDER ON MARBLE ROW by Victoria Thompson 6th of 19 in series featuring Sarah Brandt, a midwife in turn-of-the-20th-century New York City. “When an explosion kills wealthy industrialist Gregory Van Dyke, Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt presumes that anarchists are responsible and personally asks Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy to track them down. Malloy is up to the challenge - but he faces a different kind of challenge when he encounters Sarah Brandt paying a condolence call on the Van Dykes.” Published in 2004, it has 313 pages. Still a solid historical procedural. 
CITY OF THE LOST by Kelley Armstrong. First of a new series. “Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again. Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding.” Published in 2016, it has 412 pages. An interesting concept. This is the 2nd series by this author that I’ve liked. I look forward to the next one.

PRESENT DANGER by Stella Rimington. 5th of 9 in series featuring Liz Carlyle, an agent in MI-5 Joint Counter-Terrorist Group, in London. “MI5 intelligence officer Liz Carlyle has just been dispatched to Northern Ireland. In Belfast, Liz and her team are monitoring the brutal breakaway Republican groups who never accepted the peace process and want to continue their "war." Intelligence is focused on the shady Fraternity, with links to drug-running, arms-dealing and organized crime. With some help from Special Branch and a volunteer informant who seems to be legit, the Fraternity's leader is identified as a cold, calculating and ruthless American, hijacking the Cause for his own financial ends.” Published in 2009, it has 337 pages. I liked it but it felt a little more jumbled than the earlier ones.
DEATH SITS DOWN TO DINNER by Tessa Arlen 2nd of 2 in series featuring Lady Clementine Montfort and housekeeper Mrs. Jackson, in Edwardian England. “Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England's largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill's 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs. Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione's household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.” Published in 2016, it has 320 pages. A good, new, traditional, historical mystery.

A PRESSING ENGAGEMENT by Anna Lee Huber. Novella in between books 4 and 5 in series featuring Lady Darby, a widow taking refuge at her sister’s estate, in 1830s Scotland. “Scotland, 1831. With her wedding to fellow investigator Sebastian Gage only a day away, Kiera is counting down the hours. But just when matrimonial jitters threaten to consume her, Kiera receives a welcome distraction in the form of a mysterious gold necklace. The Celtic torc, thought missing for decades, was directly involved in a recent investigation. Now, Kiera feels compelled to uncover the truth behind its sudden reappearance. But with an overwhelming flock of wedding guests, a muddled cat, an unpaid favor, and a ferocious storm throwing things into disarray, it’s anyone’s guess whether Kiera and Gage will actually make it to the altar...” Published in 2016, it has 83 pages. A teaser for the new release in July.
A GAME OF SORROWS by Shona MacLean. Alexander Seaton, a schoolmaster, in 1620s Banff and Aberdeen, Scotland.  “1628. Alexander Seaton’s happily settled life as a university teacher in Aberdeen is shattered by the arrival in town of a stranger who looks like his twin and who carries a plea for help from Alexander’s dead mother’s family in Ireland. The family has been placed under a poet’s curse, threatening death to various members. Elements of the curse have already begun to play out. Reluctantly answering the call, Alexander leaves his home and his beloved and travels to Ulster, to find himself among a family torn apart by secrets and long-buried resentments.  In the course of seeking out the author of the curse, Alexander becomes deeply entangled in a conflict that involves fugitive priests, displaced poets, rebellious plotters and agents of the king. Confronted by murder within his family, he finds the lines between superstition and faith, duty and loyalty are becoming increasingly blurred, while his Scottish homeland grows ever more remote.” Published in 2010, it has 400 pages. The first book of this series was fabulous. This plot felt like a desperate Hail Mary to liven up a series after 15 books not a second book -- just scrapping everything of the first book except the main character and then throwing in the kitchen sink of curses, long last families, a cousin who could be a twin, an Irish poet/fortune teller, a nasty controlling grandmother, rebellion against the crown, etc.  I hope the 3rd book is better. Yeah, really disappointed.
WHAT THE PSYCHIC TOLD THE PILGRIM by Jane Christmas -- Nonfiction. "To celebrate her 50th birthday and face the challenges of mid-life, Jane Christmas joins 14 women to hike the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Despite a psychic’s warning of catfights, death, and a sexy, fair-haired man, Christmas soldiers on. After a week of squabbles, the group splinters and the real adventure begins. In vivid, witty style, she recounts her battles with loneliness, hallucinations of being joined by Steve Martin, as well as picturesque villages and even the fair-haired man." Published 2009, it has 307 pages. I've read many, many books on the pilgrimage of the Camino. This one was the worst. I think she's trying to be humorous but comes across as complaining and whining.

NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearlsey -- Fiction. "The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift - conveniently in search of an agent - is the deciding factor.  On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen's baby arouses painful memories of Lyn's own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping." Published in 1999, it has 295 pages. She pretty much always has the same themes in her books, much like Simone St. James, but her books are enjoyable so it's ok. I liked it.

THE CROWN by Kiera Cass -- YA. "Twenty years have passed since America Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, and their daughter is the first princess to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected." Published in 2016, it has 296 pages. Final book of this series (5 in total?). It probably should have ended as a trilogy. It was enjoyable but it felt like it was milking the success of the first ones and were just repeating the story with the second generation as stand ins.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes -- Fiction. "Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living." Published in 2012, it has 385 pages. I devoured it in a reading marathon. Then I sobbed my eyes out as you knew it would. 

It was a good reading month for me mostly due to a couple weekends of dogsitting Coda while he was still an invalid.

And I'm closing in on what I'm going to read next. I really am.

I went through all the books on my Kindle last night so I was really trying. And then I got tired. But today. Today! I shall make a break through.

So off you go. Have a great day, y'all.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

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