Saturday, August 31, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 8.31.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Getting back on track after returning from vacation

2. Surprise chocolate marzipan gift from a friend who returned from travels

3. Andy Warhol exhibit at the SF MOMA



The Last House Guest
by Megan Miranda
-Mystery, Thriller, Maine | Goodreads

AUGUST pick for Reese's Book Club and for my Books and States challenge.

Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler's Journey Home
by Matthew Kepnes
-Memoir, Travel | Goodreads

FOR tips, tricks and tales of travel for wanderlust cravings.

Review posts theme for next week: Australia
Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

AND watched: in theatre

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019)
Director/Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
-Comedy, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Sooo Hollywood.
Sooo Tarantino.
Pleasantly surprised. I usually am not into the 70's genre, but loved the filming style and Tarantino's take.

AND watched: on DVD

My Brilliant Career (1979)
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Screenplay: Eleanor Witcombe
Based on novel by: Miles Franklin
Stars: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes
-Biography, Drama, Romance, Coming of Age, Australia | imdb | my rating: 4

A young independent woman who lives with her grandmother and aunt in the countryside rebels against being pressured into marriage and chooses to solely focus on having a career as a writer. Nevertheless, two suitors propose to her.

LOVELY scenes from the well-manicured mostly the wealthier side of Australia as well as some vast landscapes.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black

Murder in the Sentier
by Cara Black

Find out more about this book and author:
YouTube | Twitter

Published: 2003
Publisher: Soho Crime
Genre: Mystery, France, Paris
Hardback: 352
Rating: 4

Aimée Leduc Investigation series:
Murder in the Marais (1999)
Murder in Belleville (2000)
Murder in the Sentier (2003)
Murder in the Bastille (2004)
Murder in Clichy (2005)
Murder in Montmartre (2006)
Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis (2007)
Murder in the Rue de Paradis (2008)
Murder in the Latin Quarter (2009)
Murder in the Palais Royale (2010)
Murder in Passy (2011)
Murder at the Lanterne Rouge (2012)
Murder Below Montparnasse (2013)
Murder In Pigalle (2014)
Murder on the Champ de Mars (2015)
Murder on the Quai (2016)
Murder in Saint-Germain (2017)
Muder on the Left Bank (2018)
Murder in Bel-Air (2019)

First sentence(s):
Aimée Leduc opened the tall windows of her apartment overlooking the Seine, which bordered the tree-lined quai.

When Parisian private investigator Aimée Leduc picks up the phone one hot July afternoon, the call turns her life upside-down. The voice on the other end, with its heavy German accent, belongs to a woman named Jutta Hald. Jutta claims to have shared a jail cell with Aimée’s long-lost mother, a suspected terrorist on Interpol’s most wanted list. If Aimée wants to learn the truth about her mother, she is to meet Jutta at a rendezvous point in an ancient tower in the Sentier. But when Aimée arrives, Jutta is dead, shot in the head at close range.

Aimée realizes she has stumbled into something bigger than Jutta let on, and that her own life is in danger. She has a lot of unsolved mysteries in front of her: Jutta Hald’s murder, resurfaced materials from Sydney Leduc’s terrorist activities in the 1970s, police suppression of important information. The question is, can Aimée put the pieces together before someone else ends up dead?

My two-bits:

I continue to love learning about the uniqueness of each Paris neighborhood described in this series.

This mystery introduces another mystery which caught my attention more than the main one.

Aimée comes across the past actions of her parents which creates big questions, unrest and anxiety.


* weekly theme: Mothers - case of the missing mother for protagonist

* part of Paris in July (here)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena

Find out more about this book and author:
Goodreads | Website

Published: 2017
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Paperback: 336
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Anne can feel the acid churning in her stomach and creeping up her throat; her head is swimming.

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

My two-bits:

Although unlikable selfish characters appear in this one, the mystery strung me along.

Part of the appeal was the twist, twist again and one more twist at the end.


* weekly theme: Mothers - protagonist is a mother of a newborn

* Filipino character mentioned

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Whisper Network
by Chandler Baker

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2019
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Feminism
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
If only you'd listen to us, none of this would have happened.

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv's CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by...whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

"If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened."

My two-bits:

Feminist issues in regards to sexual harassment and abuse in the work world are handled in a gripping way.

Go ladies!


* weekly theme: Mothers - character dealing with postpartum depression

* part of Reese's Book Club 2019 (here)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game
by Ruth Ware

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Hardback: 384
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The sound is just an ordinary text alert, a quiet beep beep in the night that does not wake Owen, and would not have woken me except that I was already awake, lying there, staring into the darkness, the baby at my breast snuffling, not quite feeding, not quite unlatching.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

My two-bits:

With the title, one can guess that this cast of characters are unreliable sources.

Many mysteries in this story kept me curious to the end.

In the end, buried secrets eventually surface (pun intended).


* weekly theme: Mothers - oh my goodness, the grounding affect that a baby can wield

* part of Reese's Book Club 2017 (here)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
narrated by Jennifer Lim

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Penguin Press
Genre: Contemporary, Literary, Family
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Everyone in Shaker heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

My two-bits:

Loved the theme of being true to self.

Got perspective from a photographer's life.


* weekly theme: Mothers - different aspects of motherhood

* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Reese's Book Club 2017 (here)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Need by Helen Phillips

The Need
by Helen Phillips

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: July 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Horror, Thriller, SciFi
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
She crouched in front of the mirror in the dark, clinging to them.

When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.

But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.

Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.

My two-bits:

A touch of science fiction and perfect creepiness for a mother-related thriller.


* weekly theme: Mothers - protagonist is a mother of a newborn

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 8.24.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Zarbee's Naturals - Cough Soothers to help overcome a summer cold

2. Finally pulling out The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt from the reading pile to join the Little Brown read along (here) and on instagram #goldfinchreadalong and #thegoldfinchreadalong to finish before the film release on September 13.

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
-Literary | Goodreads

3. Sunset at Molokai



Winter in the Madrid
by C.J. Sansom
-Mystery, Spain, Madrid | Goodreads

FOR my face-to-face group, Foreign Mystery Book Club.

Author event:

Hollow Kingdom
by Kira Jane Buxton
-Dystopia, Humor, Zombies | Goodreads

Bookshop West Portal hosted a fabulous fun and funny event with author Kira Jane Buxton and her latest novel.


The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
by Robert Hillman
-Historical Fiction, Australia | Goodreads

FOR an upcoming "bookshop" reading challenge and Australia themed week.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort
by Jess Kidd
-Mystery, Ireland | Goodreads

FOR ibc online book club.

Review posts theme for next week: Mothers

The Need by Helen Phillips
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black

AND watched: in theatre

Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019)
Director/Screenplay: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Holly Gent, Vincent Palmo Jr.
Based on novel by: Maria Semple
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig
-Comedy, Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 4

A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

FOLLOWS the book pretty well. Great to see the fictional architectural pieces come to life.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Author binge: Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell
Reading Challenge

Setting myself up to read a current author's body of work. In this case, Lisa Jewell's mystery thrillers.

1999 Ralph's Pary by Lisa Jewell
2000 Thirtynothing by Lisa Jewell
2001 One-Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell
2004 A Friend of the Family by Lisa Jewell
2005 Vince and Joy by Lisa Jewell
2007 Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell
2009 The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell
2010 After The Party by Lisa Jewell
2011 The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell
2012 Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell
2013 The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
2014 The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
2015 Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
2016 I Found You by Lisa Jewell (review)
2017 Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell (review)
2018 Watching You by Lisa Jewell

* image header source: Then She Was Gone cover

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Books and States

BOOKS and STATES Challenge
arm-chair road tripping
through United States of America
via books and film

Setting up a grand challenge for myself as I have been wanting to read my way through parts of the country that are unknown to me. I picked mostly current books rather than classics. Slim pickings in some states. But maybe more newbies will be released in the Fall/Winter.

Below is the tentative list.

TRAVEL - USA (road trip)
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
I Might Regret by Abbi Jacobson
The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

small town: If You Lived Here You'd Be Home by Now by Christopher Ingraham

AL: Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
AL: Treeborne by Caleb Johnson
film: Sweet Home Alabama

AK: The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
AK: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
AK: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
film: The Great Alone

AZ: Inland by Téa Obreht
AZ: The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte
film: Sedona

AR: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle
AR: Twenty-eight and A Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank
film: West of Memphis

CA: Choices by Magda Grant
CA: Family Trust by Kathy Wang
CA: The Caregiver by Samuel Park
CA: The Plus One by Sarah Archer
CA: Happiness by Heather Harpham (reese)
film: The Women in the Sand

CA-la: Still Lives by Maria Hummel (reese)
CA-la: The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
CA-la: The Library Book by Susan Orlean (reese)
CA-la: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (reese)
film: City of Gold

CA-sd: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash (john hughes/comic con)

CA-sf: Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

CO: The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
film: Dynasty -tv

CT: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
CT: The Female Persuasion Meg Wolitzer
CT: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
CT: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
film: The Swimmer

DE: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
film: Fight Club

FL: Made For Love by Alissa Nutting
FL: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen N. Arnett
FL: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
FL: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
FL: Snow Falling by Jane Gloriana Villanueva
FL: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
film: The Last Resort

GA: Dark Town by Thomas Mullen
film: Atlanta -tv

HI: The Burning Island by Hester Young
HI: The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
HI: House of Thieves by Kaui Hart Hemmings
film: Princess Kaʻiulani

ID: Educated by Tara Westover
film: Wayward Pines -tv

IL: Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson
IL, Chicago: The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison M. Dickson
film: The Homestretch

IN: The Starlite Drive-in by Marjorie Reynolds
film: The Magnificent Ambersons
film: Stranger Things 2 -tv

IA: Real Life by Brandon Taylor
film: What's Eating Gilbert Grape

KS: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
KS: To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman
film: Mysterious Skin

KY: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
KY: My Father, the Pornographer by Chris Offutt
KY: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
film: Boy Meets Girl
film: Justified -tv

LA: The Agony House by Cherie Priest
LA: This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
film: Easy Rider

ME: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
ME: Paradox Bound by Peter Clines
ME: The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (review)
film: It part2 (review)

MD: Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
MD: Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly
MD: Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
MD: Well Met by Jen DeLuca -rom
film: Diner

MA: Chances Are by Richard Russo
MA: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
MA: The Summer Demands by Deborah Shapiro
MA: Things You Save in A Fire by Katherine Center
MA: Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams
film: Little Women

MI: Abbott by Saladin Ahmed
film: White Boy Rick

MN: Say Say Say by Lila Savage
MN: The Lager Queen of Minnesota by Ryan J. Stradal
MN: The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman
MN: This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
film: A Simple Plan

MS: The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz
MS: Desperation Road by Michael F. Smith
film: Free State of Jones

MO: Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles
MO: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
film: Rich Hill

MT: Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins
film: Sweetgrass

NE: The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee
film: Election

NV: A Prayer for Travelers by Ruchika Tomar
NV: Don't Skip Out On Me by Willy Vlautin
NV: On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl
NV: The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin
film: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

NH: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
NH: Fake Plastic Love by Kimberley Tait
film: Lolita

NJ: Guestbook: Ghost Stories by Leanne Shapton
NJ: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
film: Patti Cake$

NM: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
NM: The Infinite Pieces of Us by Rebekah Crane
film: 50 to 1
film: The Kid

NY: A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
NY: Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julie Pierpont
NY: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
NY: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
NY: Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash
NY: Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg
NY: Mrs by Caitlin Macy
NY: My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
NY: Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen
NY: Roomies by Christina Lauren
NY: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
NY: Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen
NY: Suicide Club by Rachel Heng
NY: The Address by Fiona Davis
NY: The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
NY: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
NY: The Editor by Steven Rowley
NY: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
NY: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
NY: The High Season by Judy Blundell
NY: The Light We Lost by Jill Sontopolo (reese)
NY: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
NY: The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (reese)
NY: The Song of the Orphans by Daniel Price
NY: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
NY: Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash -rom
film: Isn't It Romantic

NC: The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
NC: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
NC: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
film: American Horror Story s.6 -tv

ND: The Good Ones by Jenn McKinlay
ND: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
film: Woman Walk Ahead

OH: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
OH: The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott
OH: Ohio by Stephenby Markley
film: How To Dance in Ohio

OK: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
OK: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
film: Saving Grace -tv

OR: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
OR: The Clincher by Lisa Preston
OR: Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford (seattle/worlds fair)
film: Portlandia -tv

PA: Marilou Is Everywhere by Sarah Elaine Smith
PA: The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose
PA: What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
At the Drive-In
film: Happy Valley

RI: The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore
RI: My Mrs. Brown by William D. Norwich
film: High Society

SC: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
SC: The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott
film: The Great Santini

SD: Hour Glass by Michelle Rene
film: Deadwood -tv

TN: Little Sister Death by William Gay
film: Undefeated

TX: An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
TX: Exile by Lisa M. Bradley
TX: Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller
TX: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
TX: Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce
TX: Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
film: Sweethearts of the Gridiron
film: Friday Night Lights -tv

UT: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
film: Jeremiah Johnson

VT: The Ghost Clause by Howard A. Norman
VT: Life Among The Savages by Shirley Jackson
film: Hope Springs

VA: The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz
film: White Right

WA: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
WA: The Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
WA: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
WA: Twin Peaks: the Final Dossier by Mark Frost
film: Paper Tigers

WV: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
WV: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
West Virginia
film: We Are Marshall

WI: Leviathan by Paul Auster
WI: Revival by Tim Seeley
film: Caddie Woodlawn

WY: The Western Star by Craig Johnson
film: Longmire -tv

DC: Summerlings by Lisa Howorth
DC: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
film: Legally Blonde 2

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

The Bookseller
by Mark Pryor

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2012
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Genre: Mystery, Paris
Paperback: 303
Rating: 5

Hugo Marston series:
The Bookseller
The Crypt Thief
The Blood Promise
The Button Man
The Reluctant Matador
The Paris Librarian
The Sorbonne Affair
The Book Artist

First sentence(s):
The largest of Notre Dame's bells tolled noon just as Hugo reached the end of the bridge, the brittle air seeming to hold on to the final clang longer than usual.

Zombie sighting:
He reminds me of a zombie limping around like a corpse.
-chapter 27, page 26

Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper. Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold?

On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes.

Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins.

With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy's lair.

Just as the killer intended.

My two-bits:

Nice start of a series with a pair of likable Texans solving mysteries in Paris. Loved the locations and light banter along the way.

The book theme and learning about Paris bookstalls along the Seine also grabbed my attention.


* part of Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

American Spy
by Lauren Wilkinson

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2019
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Africa
Hardback: 304
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
I unlocked the safe beneath my desk, grabbed mud old service automatic, and crept toward my bedroom doorway, stealthy until I was brought to grief by a Lego Duplo that stud the sole of my foot.

It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant but she's also a young black woman working in an old boys' club, and her career has stalled out; she's overlooked for every high profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she's given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Thomas is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she's being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Thomas, seduce him, and ultimately, have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

Inspired by true events--Thomas Sankara is known as "Africa's Che Guevara"--this novel knits together a gripping spy thriller, a heartbreaking family drama, and a passionate romance. This is a face of the Cold War you've never seen before, and it introduces a powerful new literary voice.

My two-bits:

When romance and work intermingle in an espionage setting things can get hazardous.

Interesting to learn about some of unglamorous parts of the spy life.


* part of the Camp ToB 2019 (here)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Elevation by Stephen King

by Stephen King

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Horror, Novella
Hardback: 146
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

My two-bits:

Gentle horror.

Loved the illustrations at the chapter headings.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

by Andrew Sean Greer
narrated by Robert Petkoff

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
From where I sit, the story of Arthur Less is not so bad.

Who says you can't run away from your problems?

You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.

My two-bits:

Plenty of wonderful arm-chair travel in this one.

Oh, the whoas of love and relationships.


* Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2018

* Listened to audiobook version.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Trust Exercise
by Susan Choi

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: April 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Literary, Coming of Age
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
NEITHER CAN DRIVE. David turns sixteen the following March, Sarah the following April. It is early July, neither one within sight of sixteen and the keys to a car.

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false, either. It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.

As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

My two-bits:

Heartache, painful growth for the first half of the book. The second half gets into a whole other something that made my head spin a little. Interesting twist.


* part of the Camp ToB 2019 (here)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Blog All About It: Sky

Things found in the sky...


by Stephen King
-Short Story, Horror | Goodreads


Aurora: Fire in the Sky (2017)


Hop on a plane for vacation.


Check out the Chinatown Kite Shop on 717 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA.


Both Sides of the Sky
by Jimi Hendrix


* image source: plane

* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)
Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu