Latest reads…

I saw a tweet about Snare and picked it up on kindle.  The snare of the title refers to a divorced woman left destitute, who is ensnared into some illegal activities.  The story and the plot were really good.  The situation is believable in that desperation can lead a person into questionable choices and actions.  Sonia is a strong and resourceful character with a blind spot as far as personal relationships go, much like many people.  I will be reading the next in this trilogy.

Black Dog is the first in the series of the team of too-nice-for-his-own-good Ben Cooper and thoroughly unlikable Diane Fry.  I found the case interesting and resolution was quite good.  I loved the character of the retired miner, their rather recalcitrant witness, then suspect. Great local community color as well.  I just found every scene with Fry in it cringe inducing.  I don’t know if that is purposeful and that we are supposed to see these characters rub off on each other, inducing change over the course of a series or not.

A Killer’s Wife was a  good serial killer mystery with a good twist at the end.   Yardley becomes a prosecutor after she discovers her husband is a notorious serial killer.  Her ex-husband is now on death row appealing his conviction and a copy cat is starting to reenact his crimes.   As she investigates the copy cat hits closer and closer to home putting her and her daughter’s lives in danger and increasing the chance that her ex’s appeal will be successful.   A suspenseful read.

Murder Underground is part of the British Library Crime Classics Series.  In this case, an unlikable boarding house tenant, Miss Pongleton, is found strangled with a dog leash on the steps to the underground.  This starts an investigation and a young man is arrested rather quickly based on his involvement in a theft.  Light comedy and misdirection abound with several theories of the crime put forth by just about everyone.  Fun mystery read from The Golden Age of Detective Fiction.  I will say that Mavis Doreil Hay wrote three mysteries.  This is the second I read and I much preferred this one to Death on the Cherwell.  

Down the the River and Up to the Trees is a back to nature/folk lore/crafts/ self help book.  I’m not actually sure what genre it would fall into it.  It was charming to read with sections of it definitely reminding me of wisdom of my grandparents and activities from my childhood.  Just an example, something as simple as bark rubbing and making charcoal.    A light read that was in many ways nostalgic for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Stay at Home Reads…

 

Continuing on my theme of self help/lifestyle type books, I read the above three.

Cosy:  The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir was just a charming read.  It was everything comforting wrapped up in the pages of a book.  I’d highly recommend to anyone who is stressing in their stay at home environment.

The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer was not particularly Nordic.  It was really just basic health guidelines, eat better, sleep better, brush and floss your teeth, move your body, etc.  It was a fine read but just not anything very new or even very particular to Nordic countries.

Sisu was a really good read.  I read this after reading Katja Pantzer’s book about Sisu, which was a more personal story, almost memoir-ish with some interviews and science.  I really enjoyed that book about finding Sisu and so read this one.  Joanna Nylund’s Sisu is more focused on applications to the reader rather than telling a story and I really found it quite interesting.  There are definitely passages I will go back and read again, especially the ones related to work life and communication.

Books for Staying at Home

During the Stay At Home order for my state I have been reading some different books than my normal mystery/thriller genre.  These would all fall under the life style/self help/motivational genre.  I thought under the circumstances for now and the foreseeable future perhaps a change of mindset would be a good thing.

 

 

The Little Book of Hygge is the one that I had heard the most about although all of these were readily available from my library.  I found this a good source of ideas for making your home Hygge-like as well as what Hygge actually is.  There is also some interesting (for me, I love data) information about happiness and activities that create it.  A good introduction to the idea of Hygge.

The Secret Therapy of Trees was a fascinating discussion of nature, specifically trees and their impact on human beings stress levels, immune systems, aggression levels, memory and cognition.  While I am not sure of 100% of the research, it was still an engaging read.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, I read A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind.  The focus here was on being intentional, cleaning as form of mindfulness, and how cleaning your surroundings and self is a reflection or result of your mental state.  The book also discusses being mindful of your possessions, how many you have and how you care for them.  Not a cleaning manual by any means, more about mindset.

Ikigai:  The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.  This was an introduction to the idea of Ikigai.  The focus here was on finding your reason for living.  Engaging in a flow in your life that allows you to reach a state of optimal experience.  The idea being that optimal experience occurs when we are prepared, focused, in control, free of worry, etc.  This is contrasted with being in a distracted state when we are bored, exhausted, time drags, our mind wanders.  One interesting concept here was actions driving emotions, rather than the other way around.

American Cozy was one of my favorite of these books, mainly because it was more grounded in practical examples and geared towards life in America.  There is a little bit of everything here, home care room by room, cooking, digital detox, sleep, and maintaining personal boundaries.  Great practical applications to the art of coziness.

Forest Bathing was an informative read about forest bathing with specific exercises to practice.  I particularly found the connection to the senses section really helpful.   There is also an overall description of forest bathing around the world  and descriptions of the health benefits.  If I was only going to read one book on Forest Bathing, this would probably be it, as it gives you a basic “how to” to start.

The Finnish Way is the latest one I read and I have to say that the author’s personal approach and writing style resonated with me.  I felt that I related to her journey and the effect that developing Sisu had on her life.  This would be a book that I would read again.  Not as practical for American living as American Cozy, but more memoir like with some science thrown in with interviews of social scientists such as Dweck.  Very good read!

I loved the idea in the Good Mornings book of creating rituals rather than routines.  I have read many organizational books and articles over the years, but this had a different feel to it with the idea of creation of rituals.  The other really nice element is that there are modifications for the “time rich” and “time poor” acknowledging the people have different life circumstances.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for some new ideas of how to start their day.

 

The Smiling Man

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This is the second in the Aiden Waits series.  Aiden is a police officer permanently working the night shift after a career shadowed in disgrace and turmoil.  In this book, we see flashes of Aiden’s childhood to understand more of why he is such a train wreck of a human being.  A man is found in a closed hotel under suspicious circumstances, as Aiden investigates he finds more questions than answers.  There is also a subplot of Aiden’s past that runs parallel to the main story line.  This was quite a fast paced and engaging read.   Fans of Jack Taylor would probably enjoy this.

Back from a Hiatus…

 

Work has been crazy and I have not been reading as much as I would like, but it has been a while since I posted and these are the books that I remember reading since my last post.   Of these my hands down favorite was Bred in the Bone, book 3 in the Jasmine Sharp and Catherine McLeod series.  I am really enjoying this series and will definitely continue with it.

Whispers of the the Dead was interesting and certainly a well plotted out mystery but the forensic detail and focus on some of the more gruesome details of decomposition was a little much for me.  Be prepared for much graphic detail and insect life.

The only one of these that I would NOT recommend anyone spending time on was I Choose You.  Plot holes, misuse of medical diagnosis terms, lots and lots of characters with dropped story lines, etc.   Just not well thought out and constructed.

The others were all perfectly fine mysteries with the Dagleish books leaning towards the police procedural side while The Fat Detective is more PI soft boiled crime.  I enjoyed all of these.

 

 

 

Another Batch of Reading…

 

I grabbed some of these from a Mystery Collection offer I came across on Twitter, a whole bunch of  mysteries offered for free by a group of authors in Kindle format.  Find the offer here, free mystery books , until November 12th, others I already had on my Kindle.  Speaking of which, have I mentioned how I miss the “carousel” effect of my old Kindle?  I find the new format more difficult to keep organized.  Then, again maybe it is just me…

Cut and Run by Mary Burton, was a dark mystery involving abduction, murder, twins separated at birth,  and illegal baby sales.  Macy and Faith both work investigating crimes albeit in different capacities.  Fate and series of crimes brings them together uncovering old secrets.  Fast read with some interesting characters.  I enjoyed the story line and the parallels between the old crimes and the new.

A Litter of Bones was a very dark and gruesome read, with  some graphic animal cruelty which made it difficult for me to read in places.  A child serial killer appears to be at work again, however there is a problem, the original case was solved and the killer is behind bars.  Who is replicating his crimes, including details never revealed, and why?  Fast paced thriller with some very scary moments and a rather tragic ending.

The Stolen Girls is a good police procedural with a very “torn from the headlines” feel to it.  It addresses the treatment of immigrants awaiting asylum, governmental corruption, organ sale, and human trafficking.  I found that some of the coincidences were a little much to believe but overall it was a good read.  Lottie is a not entirely likable protagonist and makes some very questionable choices, however the characterization serves to make here more human.

Broken Glass was a fascinating mystery that didn’t always read smoothly.  There are plots and subplots and mini plots all running throughout the book with some parts better written (or perhaps translated?) than others.  Overall, it was a book I didn’t want to put down, I just had to know the resolution.  Nik is a cop with a litany of issues, on par with Jack Taylor, who finds himself blackmailed into investigating a case, which no one wants disturbed.  The deeper he goes, the more secrets, lies, and murders pile up.  I would definitely read another in this series.

The Body in the Boot is the first in a new series.  The sleuth is a retired disabled police officer, who has opened a PI business to take his mind off of the chronic, unrelenting pain that he is in due to a degenerative spinal condition and his recent bereavement. He gets involved in a case that crosses the ocean, involves missing women, and evil medical businesses.  This could have done with some tightening up in the editing department and some more proofreading, but I liked reading a more realistic portrayal of someone suffering from chronic pain.  Too often protagonists shake off all manner of injuries with no ill effects, but here the effect of chronic illness on a person’s entire life is well done.

Dark Crimes is the first in the Sophie Allen police procedural series.  A well done portrayal of a midlife mother, wife, and professional dealing with trying to find some balance in all her roles.  Themes of domestic abuse and misogyny are central to the story line which begins with murders of a daughter and a mother drawing Sophie and her team into the case.  I would read more in this series.

Someone Else’s Daughter was a quick read and I was very satisfied that it didn’t have the “pat” ending I thought it was headed toward.  Miranda Steel is a survivor of a violent, abusive marriage to a  somewhat powerful or at least connected man.  She has spent thirteen years surviving and trying to track down her daughter after the court system failed her.  A clue leads her to Atlanta and an exclusive neighborhood, where a killer is murdering young girls.  Miranda gets entangled in the murder case as she hunts for her daughter.  I am not sure if I will read another, too much reliance on coincidences and the protagonist does not come across as believable.  She is more like a comic book super hero.

 

 

 

Latest Reads…

 

I’ve been super busy in real life, but have squeezed some reading in including these four mysteries.

The Drowning Man, I just finished today and I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t want to put it down until I finished.  Ruiz is fished out of the Thames more dead than alive and he can’t remember anything about the events that led up to him clinging to a buoy trying to stay alive.  As he works his way backwards with the help of his friend Joe, he uncovers clues connected to a closed case involving the murder of a child in which the body was never recovered.  This had lots of twists and turns and was quite exciting right up until the end.  Although the resolution was what I expected at the start, it was quite a journey to get there.  Really enjoyed reading this and will read more in this series.

A Scream in Soho is one of the British Library Crime Classics.  This involves WWII, London during the time of blackouts, German spies abound and aristocracy  fleeing from the continent seek shelter in London.  A murder occurs and DI McCarthy must solve a case where nothing and no one is who they seem, not even the victim.  I will admit to not being a huge fan of WWII era stories, but the characters and the mystery here was quite compelling and I ended up quite enjoying it.

The Stages was an excellent read from among books with a protagonist on the Autism spectrum.  Similar in some aspects to “The Curious Incident…”  but I really thought this was much better.  Daniel Peters is a leading translator of Soren Kierkegaard’s work.  He works for an institute under an ex-girlfriend, who was his one and only love.  When she is murdered and a new work of Kierkegaard’s goes missing, Daniel must solve her murder to clear his own name.  The writing here flowed and story moved along evenly.  Daniel’s frustrations and thoughts come through clearly and feel authentic.

The Retreat involves an author, Lucas,  with writer’s block, who goes to a retreat with the intent of getting past it.  Once there he meets his fellow author’s, who have their own sets of problems, and his hostess, who holds dark secrets.  Mysterious happenings throw doubt and suspicion around liberally.  Lucas becomes determined to solve the mystery involving Julia and her daughter Lilly and finds himself and others at the Retreat in danger.  This was a decent thriller but I think the red herring was  too heavy handed to be misleading.

 

 

Town in a Blueberry Jam, Chai Another Day & Candy Cane Murder

 

Chai Another Day is the 4th installment in the Spice Shop Mystery series.  Pepper Reece finds herself drawn into a murder when she goes for a relaxing massage.  Feeling guilty that the murder occurred so close to where you she was laying, Pepper digs into what happened while still running her spice shop and working on her own budding romance.  An enjoyable cozy read in a good series.

Town in Blueberry Jam is the first in a series set in Cape Willington, Maine.  Candy Holliday has joined her father here to help him run his blueberry farm.  When the local handyman finds himself arrested for murder, Candy is determined to prove his innocence.   A fun introduction to a new-to-me cozy series.

The Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke is book 9.5 in the Hannah Fluke series.  Hannah finds herself trying to find out who killed Santa Claus or rather a cheapskate Department store in a Santa Costume.  Mike and Norman both appear as the duo of love interests, helping or not with her investigation.  A charming Christmas addition to the series.

 

 

Deliver Us From Evil, A Glass of Blessings, Roast Mortem, & Think of a Number

 

Deliver Us From Evil is book 20 in a series which I have read none of.  This was an interesting case involving a woman who dies of hypothermia after being held prisoner somewhere.  Finding her identity raises more questions than answers and leads the detectives all the way to Canada in an attempt to discover what happened.  This was an engaging mystery read.

A Glass of Blessings is a classic from Barbara Pym.  I love her understated humor and her slice of life depictions from the period after the WW II.  This story revolves around a childless wife who fills her empty hours with visiting the local church and the priests who are assigned there.  Barbara Pym writes about the regular occurrences in Wilmet’s life in a thoroughly engaging manner making for a really enjoyable read.

Roast Mortem is book 9 in Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse mystery.  This was an exciting installment in this charming series.  A serial arsonist appears to be targeting coffeehouses in New York City.  Clare finds herself drawing the arsonist’s attention and the attention of a fireman who has a beef with Mike, her love interest.  Fun cozy mystery read.

Think of a Number by John Verden is book 1 in the Dave Gurney series.  Dave Gurney is supposed to be retired, but he finds himself dragged into a puzzling situation by a friend he hasn’t seen in years.  The case involves a serial killer who sends puzzling notes to his prospective victims.   This was an okay police procedural.  I am not sure if I will be reading more in this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Blown Away, & Wednesday’s Child

The impulse book buy of the week was The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.  I saw it on a table at Barnes and Noble and picked it up without really knowing anything about it other than reading the blurb on the back.

Nina Hill works in her local neighborhood bookstore and lives a quiet and orderly life of scheduled activities.  She was raised by a nanny hired by her globetrotting semi-celebrity single mother, no brothers, sisters, or clan of aunts, uncles and  cousins.  Her life gets rewritten with the visit from a lawyer representing the estate of her unknown to her father.

This was a funny, touching read with a protagonist to root for as she sorts through her feelings about family  and love. Addresses how issues from childhood follow us in to adulthood. Very enjoyable feel good read!

Blown Away  by Clover Tate is the first in a new cozy mystery series with a theme of kite making.  Emmy has moved in with her best friend in an Oregon coastal town and is opening her very own kite store.  Her kites are a blend of her love of kite flying and her artistic flair honed by an art degree.  Shortly after moving in with Avery, a body is found on the beach by their house.  The body turns out to be Avery’s ex and all eyes turn to Avery as the most likely culprit.  This was a fun cozy with a different theme that I’ve seen before.

Wednesday’s Child by Peter Robinson is the 6th in the Inspector Banks series.  In this installment a child has been taken, supposedly by two social workers, who turn out to be fakes.  The idea of a male and female working together turns DS Gristhorpe’s mind to Moor Murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley and the search for the child turns desperate.  Banks works on the missing child case but also has other bodies turning up along the way and has to determine if they are all connected.  There is a substantial subplot here concerning Banks relationship with his own children.  Very good installment in this series.