Thursday, June 29, 2017

REVIEW | The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopia (It was a Goodreads Choice Nominee for Horror which I get)
Series: The Passage #3
Awards: None
Format: Digital Audio (Library)
Narrator: Scott Brick

**SPOILERS AHOY:  There may be spoilers for books one and two in this series so look away if you haven't read those yet!**

WHY?: I needed to see how it all ended!

SYNOPSIS:  The majority of The City of Mirrors skips ahead roughly 20 years from the devastating but seemingly victorious-for-the-human-race events that took place in Iowa in book 2.  In the large settlement at Kerrville Texas, years have passed without a single sighting of a viral and the human race has begun to creep out and establish new settlements.  The central band, led by Peter have gone their separate ways and lived their lives the best way they can never suspecting that the nightmare isn't over and they still have one more foe to vanquish in order for the human race to survive.


This series and I have been down a rocky road.  I've loved it, I've hated it, I've wanted to clutch it to my chest, and fling it dramatically into a fire.  In short, sometimes Cronin just got too "look at the miserable lives and revel" literary for me, sometimes those literary writing chops created an uncommonly beautiful adventure story.   So I went into this with trepidation but hope and third time's a charm, at least for me.  The City of Mirrors is an epic, fascinating, beautiful, sad and pretty darn good ending to The Passage saga.

My biggest complaint from book two was that Cronin starts it by shooting the reader and story back into the past, introducing swaths of new characters, and this effectively stalls the momentum of the quest narrative started in book 1.  Not to mention that I did  not care for or about any of the new characters and just wanted to find out what happened to the merry band from California, Peter, Alicia, Sara, Hollis, Amy, Michael, Moussami and Theo.  He took ages to get to them and when he did, it took forever to pull them all back together and get things moving forward again.

In The City of Mirrors, the book starts by checking in with the main characters, roughly 3 years post book two and they are all on the cusp of some major life change.  It then propels us 20 or so years into the future and shows the consequences of those life changes.  For some of them it's been relatively peaceful living, the virals appear to be gone once and for all and humanity has relaxed its guard.  Some of the original band however are saddled with a terrible truth.  Their struggle is not yet over - Patient Zero is still out there.

Of course Cronin can't resist dipping back into the past at least for a little while and in this instance it is to tell the back story of Zero.  It's actually a really great part of the book even if it does feel a little like a book within the book.  It comes at the right time in the narrative and for my money is the most interesting of his forays into backstory, feeling fully fleshed out but not too overly detailed.   It is also fully relevant, and fills in some of the hinted at story from book one while also being thought-provoking.  It is almost a modern day re-telling of the Helen of Troy myth - one perfect woman and  the two men, who for the love of her cause the downfall and almost extinction of the human race.  This poor woman, as we know her, would likely have been completely horrified about what was done in her name and memory.  It was a wow moment for me. Love conquers all, quite literally.

I was also way more aware of the Christian religious imagery in this book versus the first two though that may not be because it is more prevalent or emphasised. It is sometimes pretentious and overblown but it also adds some interesting depth to dig into.

Overall this was definitely my favorite of the three books.  The flow is right and he mostly doesn't dive too deeply into tangent storylines.  I found it to be a complete page turner.  The ending may not be what every reader hoped for, but I liked it.

FINAL VERDICT:  A great closing to an excellent, but uneven, dystopian series.  The series is well worth reading though it is a LOT of pages!  4 out of 5 Stars to The City of Mirrors and I'd probably give the whole series a 3.5.

OTHER OPINIONS ARE AVAILABLE: The Washington Post* | Caffienated Book Reviewer

* If you are really spoiler phobic, I would avoid this one, though once you've read book 3 come back to it because it's hilarious.

Monday, June 26, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY | 2017's Best Reads So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  

Time to take stock of the reading year so far!  This week's TTT topic is:
Best Books You've Read In 2017 So Far (break it down however you want -- by genre, strictly 2017 releases, whatever!) 
Looking through the list of books I've read so far this year (about 45 books), it seems it's either been a pretty good year or I am getting soft.  I've given about half of the books read 4 out of 5 stars.  This seems high as I am usually pretty stingy and if I like a book but didn't find anything super special about it, it gets a three.  So 20+ special books at the halfway point of the year is good.  However, when I looked through the list I had a hard time picking out ten that I really felt earned a "best of" designation.  I should also mention I do have a few 5 star books but they are all in one series (The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett) and they are a re-read so I didn't count them.  You should however go forth and read this Historical Fiction series, IMMEDIATELY.  Ahem, with all those caveats, here's my list:


1) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

I read this early in the year.  It's a really lovely coming-of-age/mystery that takes place in 1950s small-town Minnesota.  Beautiful writing, wonderful characters, great story. My Review

2) Six of Crows Series by Leigh Bardugo

I'm tapping both books in this duology because they consumed my soul for a two week period.  A step up even  from her awesome Grisha trilogy, it is set in the same world with a diverse band of  characters pulling heists.  So much fun.  Really well plotted and the characters are the best. My Review for Six of Crows.

3) A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn

Have you ever met a book that seems to have ticked all your special boxes? This book was mine.  19th century British setting, two MCs that are naturalists, a bluestocking and outspoken lady, a gruff but decent man and a slow burn romance. PLUS, it's a mystery.

A series of memoirish essays by comedic writer Lindy West.  I didn't know much about her but really appreciated her humor and she made me aware of some issues that could use some attention. Her essay about her dad's passing really resonated with me.   A well-written, thought-provoking and hilarious collection.  The audio was great!

This relatively quiet Sci-Fi story about a rag-tag group of people finding a home on a broken down ship as they travel the galaxy hit so many sweet spots.  My Review.

6) The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) by Justin Cronin

Books one and two of the The Passage Trilogy alternately thrilled and frustrated me but the concluding book in the series finally gave me everything I wanted.  Overall, a great series and this was a perfect ending.

7) Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1) by Intisar Khanani

This  fantasy novella is the start of a series about a street-wise girl named Hitomi who hides her magical gifts while fighting to free her land from a tyrant.  The story description sounds generic  but Khanani does a lot of wonderful and original-feeling things with it.  I didn't love the first full book in the series as much but this novella was really wonderful.  My Review.

8) Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith

J.K. does what she does but with curse words and a lot more sex.  Rowling is the master at creating characters you want to read about and plots that keep you reading late into the night.  This modern-day mystery series featuring the huge, one legged PI Cormoran Strike is no exception!

9) Starflight by Melissa Landers 

This is in the same general realm as The Long Way... but it's YA, more action packed, and it has a wonderful slowly developed romance at its core.  Note quite the beautiful book The Long Way... was but so much fun.  My Review.

10) TIE:  Lady Cop Makes Trouble (Kopp Sisters #2) by Amy Stewart and The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

Both of these books deserve a place on this list so I'm putting them in as a tie for the last spot though they couldn't be more different.  Well, I guess they both have a strong female character at their center. Lady Cop Makes Trouble is the second in a historic crime series set in the nineteen-teens about the first female deputy sheriff and it's based on a true story! My Review.   The Dark Days Club is about a young Lady in Regency Era England who discovers there are demons in the world and she has the special ability to slay them.  My Review.


How would you rate your reading year thus far?  Do you have a number one favorite book yet?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

SATURDAY in the GARDEN | Summer, Summer, Summer Time!


I continue to be really pleased with the garden this year, knock on every piece of wood and wood-like substance available.  None of the tomatoes look sickly.  Despite being planted late, my sugar snaps are being pretty productive. The peppers are growing.  The Broccolini's been a success.  I don't know if it's something I'm doing (probably not) or if the weather has been just right (probably so).

And along with the summer solstice we've also been gifted with an absolutely gorgeous weekend.  It is 70 degrees, sunny and breezy.  Last night we all hung out on the porch for a couple hours and everybody was super happy.

I know this looks like a dead rabbit but when rabbits are really content they "flop", i.e. fall suddenly over on their sides and just revel like that for a bit:). It's super cute and this was the first time Ella's done it in the hutch and she did it several times.


WOOT WOOT!  I'm on vacation for the next week+ and am planning on using it mostly to putter around and get things done around the house, read a bunch, write a bunch of blog posts, maybe take a couple of day trips if I feel like it.  I've even completed one of my projects on day 1 - painted the rabbit hutch!

So what kinds of things would you do if you had a whole week at home with no other responsibilities?



I've continued to watch the BBC mystery show Father Brown featuring Mark Williams (aka Arthur Weasley) as the titular character.  It's fun and suits my zone out, brain dead requirements at the moment:)!


Finished Since the Last Time I Posted:

  • Pawn in Frankincense (Lymond Chronicles #4) by Dorothy Dunnett:  THESE BOOKS! OMG, THESE BOOKS!
  • The Ringed Castle (Lymond Chronicles #5) by Dorothy Dunnett: See Above. This is absolutely the best historical fiction ever written.  Lymond is an annoying little pissant in this book and still one of the most incredible characters ever created.  
“He was not a figment of daydream or of fantasy. He was the quick-witted man who had raced with her; the man whose strong wrists had pulled her from trouble; whose laughter recognized, more than his own, her buffoonery; whose voice had whispered, sung, exclaimed or cursed, with equal felicity, carefree as birdsong on top of their striving.
Whose essence, stripped by necessity was, it now seemed, warm and joyous and of great generosity.”  - Checkmate, Dorothy Dunnett 
    • Checkmate (Lymond Chronicles #6) by Dorothy Dunnett:  The last one *sobs*!
    • Strong Poison  (Lord Peter Wimsey #6) by Dorothy L. Sayers: Only a few more of these left :( but I hear Lord Peter gets a girlfriend in this one - Ooooohhhhh!
    • The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud:  This one is on hold as I had to turn it back to the library, gosh darn it! A mid-grade novel about ghost fighters in Britain.  
    • Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch:  Non-fiction about eating psychology and biology.  I've been dipping in and out of it for the last few months!

    Added to the TBR:

    This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

    • The Only Child by Andrew Pyper: A horror novel that sounds really creepy and like it at least attempts something very creative.  Mogsy at The Bibliosanctum recommends it with a few reservations. 
    • Artifact (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery) by Gigi Pandian: The name of this series (Treasure Hunt Mystery) is probably enough to pique my interest but the fact that Selah at The Bibliophile's Style really liked it seals the deal.  
      On the BLOG since I last Posted:

      TUESDAY: TOP TEN TUESDAY | There Are Actually Some Book Series I Have not Started. Who knew!?
      THURSDAY: REVIEW |  A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab  This second book in the series and it was pretty great.

      Happy Summer Solstice!

      P.S.  Not only does the above music totally encapsulate summer and fill my heart with joy but there is also something about the music, the performance, the performer that evokes Lymond for me. Am I just high on the Dunnett koolaid or does this makes sense to any of you other Dunnett fans? 

      Thursday, June 22, 2017

      REVIEW | A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

      A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
      Publication Year: 2016
      Genre: Fantasy
      Series: Shades of Magic #2
      Awards: None
      Format: Audio (Library)
      Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading

      SPOILERS AHOY!  This is book two in a series so some spoilery type things about book one may be revealed. 

      WHY?:  Loved the world and story in book one!

      SYNOPSIS:  Four months have passed since the events in book one.  Kell's position in Red London has changed in a negative way and he and Rhy struggle to come to grips with their new linked existence while also trying to prepare for a big international tournament of magic called the Essentasch.  Meanwhile, Lila has found a "home" on a privateer ship in her new adopted world and is learning some magic of her own from the enigmatic and charming Captain, Alucard Emery.  Everybody is reunited for the games where it turns out Kell's life is in danger from an unexpected enemy.

      The tone of this book is a good bit quieter and more mundane than book one, at least for a majority of it.  For me that was mostly all right and I in fact, liked this one more than book one and ended it SUPER excited about the implications for book 3.  

      Most of the book focuses on the fall out resulting from Kell bringing Rhy back from the dead in book one.  As a result, their lives are inextricably linked which only increases Kell's already strong feelings of being trapped and stifled.  He can't go off and have an adventure, and in fact is almost never allowed to roam too far from the castle, because if he dies, Rhy dies.  Also his suspicions that the King and Queen only treasure him as a commodity and not as a son as they pretend, are completely verified when they blame him for Rhy's "death" even though Rhy was more to blame in the situation and is angry for his parents treating Kell so poorly.  

      Rhy's feelings are also complicated and not positive. He is not dealing well with the price that was paid to make sure he lived and he feels responsible and deeply guilty for further tying Kell down.  They are best friends, brothers if not by blood, and their friendship is being sorely tested.  

      It's a really interesting dynamic and I could read about these two all week long and twice on Tuesday.  I appreciate that Schwab doesn't jump right into non-stop action and takes the time to really explore her characters and make sure all of that development weaves into the story she is telling.

      I just wish she had stuck with Kell and Rhy.  And Alucard - I really loved the addition of Alucard and he and his love interest? Hubba Hubba!  That's a romantic entanglement I can get behind!  I also was enthralled by the developments in White London  - they are VERY interesting and the first scene in White London had me grinning like the cheshire cat.  

      No, pretty much all the characters are great. All except, Lila, Lila, ugh, Lila.  I struggled with Lila in book one but by the end had started to warm up to her.  Unfortunately things took a major turn for the worse in book two.  Part of my issue with the character is a personal one - reckless, impulsive characters who act without assessing risk to themselves AND OTHERS, really stress me out.  This is Lila to a T.  She is also unfriendly, lacking in empathy, selfish, arrogant, mean and thin-skinned (she can dish it but can't take it).  All of these traits are realistic, considering she grew up on the streets but the fact is she's not an enjoyable person and yet everyone seems to love her.  She's Kell's love interest, Alucard is immediately taken with her, even the shopkeeper in the bazaar who she met in book one, "lights up" when she sees Lila again.  I really wish she didn't exist, lol, and obviously I didn't enjoy the sections of the book focused on her.  Except her first scene - which is awesome.

      After this slow, leisurely start, focusing on the characters, the book really picks up speed with the start of the Essentasch which is essentially a magical Olympics.  Kell as the only one of his kind and the most powerful magician in the red world is not allowed to compete for his country but Rhy finds a way to sneak him in, knowing that he needs the challenge.  The tournament is also a vehicle for revealing more about the wider world outside of London and also about how magic works which is essentially elemental.  Magicians can usually only control one element while the more powerful may be able to control two or rarely even three.  Only Kell can control all four as well as cross between the different Londons.  The tournament is fun and it leads up to a seriously exciting climax!

      To close I have a note about the audio format.  I pretty much hated the narrator for book one in the series so was interested to see that he was replaced and that there are now two reader, one for Lila's chapters and one for Kell's.  I liked these narrators so much better and they did a good job bringing the story to life. 

      FINAL VERDICT:  An original fantasy story that takes its time to develop its characters but then wallops the readers with a seriously exciting finish and cliffhanger.  It only gets 3.5 stars because Lila.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

      Other Opinions are Available: Speculative Herald | The Bibliosanctum | 

      Monday, June 19, 2017

      TOP TEN TUESDAY | The Post Where I am Shocked to Find Some Book Series of Which I am NOT in the Middle

      Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  

      I've mentioned several times on the blog that I have a book series problem.  As primarily a genre reader, it's almost impossible to avoid.  There are SO MANY series which is awesome because they're awesome but when you are in the middle of 50+ at any given time that's just craziness.

      This week for TTT The Broke and The Bookish women ask their legions to highlight the series they haven't gotten to. Yet.  I was surprised to find I had a few (i.e. several hundred).
      Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't (topic originally done March 2013) -- anyone else have a mile long list of series to start like I do??

      A lot of  the books I've highlighted on the blog recently are starter volumes for series that are newly released, so I decided to mix things up and look at some of the series starters that have been sitting on my TBR the longest.


      A set of historical mysteries that take place during the reign of Elizabeth I of England.  This is a favorite time period in history for me and I love historical mysteries.  Looks like there are 15 total books thus far in the series.  The first volume is To Shield the Queen.

      2) The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

      My understanding is that this is Epic fantasy done right and it's been on my TBR way too long.  It has 3 volumes with the first being Theft of Swords

      3) Linnet Ellery Series by Phillipa Bornikova

      An Urban Fantasy series I'd completely forgotten about!  It's a reality where paranormal creatures are in charge of the major institutions of culture and the female protagonist is a lawyer trying to make a name in a "white fang" law firm.  I love the name of the first book; This Case is Gonna Kill Me.  AND the authors name is Philippa which is just cool. 

      4)  His Fair Assassin Series by Robin LaFevers

      A YA series about assassin nuns - need I say more? The first book in the series is Grave Mercy.  It looks like there are three extant volumes with two more planned?  Fun!

      I have to admit I had completely forgotten this existed but I'm glad to have discovered it again by digging through my TBR!  The Goodreads blurb describes it thus: An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the First World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of The Imaginarium Geographica - an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship The Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

      6) The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima

      A YA series set in the modern day but with a hidden magical society of which the protagonist finds he is a part.  I LOVE these type of stories.  The first book is The Warrior Heir

      7) The Icemark Chronicles by Stuart Hill

      The Cry of The Icemark starts this YA epic fantasy series about a warrior princess and which sounds like it is inspired by Nordic culture.  It looks very cool!  And is another I'd completely forgotten about!  Like I'm pretty sure I've never seen this book before ever in my life.  Who is the meddlesome person who keeps adding these books secretly to my TBR??  Whoever you are, thank you, because they all look great;)!

      8) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

      This is a classic of British children's literature that I'd like to check out! Takes place in the Lakes District. 

      9) The Tide Lords by Jennifer Fallon

      This has an epic fantasy look to it and involves a society with mysterious, god-like immortals.  The first book is The Immortal Prince

      10) The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennen

      A well-known alt-history series with a strong female protagonist! The first book is A Natural History of Dragons.  The series is complete with 5 volumes. 

      That was a fun dig through the older, dustier parts of my TBR list!  Have you read any of these series?  Which would you recommend I get to first?

      Saturday, June 17, 2017

      SATURDAY in the GARDEN | Pretty House Things

      Rainy Day in the Garden

      Knock on wood the garden is moving into its middle stages quite well!  Sure I only got a handful of radishes but I've also gotten a handful of Broccolini - I'm liking this new designer vegetable.

      The Sugar Snap Peas which are one of my favorites and which I planted way late are finally producing pods and the tomatoes are getting robust and some even have flowers.  The peppers are also finally starting to grow.  The peppers and tomatoes like the warm, wet weather we've been having the last week or so.

      I'm also anxiously anticipating my garlic being ready to harvest. The scapes have come and been cut off and now I'm just waiting for the plants to start looking really crapola which is the sign it's ready to harvest. Mine are getting there - the rule of thumb is that 5-6 of the bottom leaves should be yellow/brown before you yank them.  It's going to be a very small harvest this year:( and I think I may need to buy seed garlic rather than use my own cloves.


      I went on another tour of homes with one of my friends and  these were some of the elements that appealed to and inspired me:

      As you can tell I was really enamored with some interesting tile work (mostly in one home) and the "outdoor" spaces.  Anything strike your fancy?



      I've continued to watch the BBC mystery show Father Brown featuring Mark Williams (aka Arthur Weasley) as the titular character.  It's fun and suits my zone out, brain dead requirements at the moment:)!


      Finished Since the Last Time I Posted:

      • The Disorderly Knights (Lymond Chronicles #3) by Dorothy Dunnett: Last week I indicated that at the halfway mark I was not liking this one as well as books two and three.  Then the second half happened and I am now full-on obsessed with all things Lymond.
        • Pawn in Frankincense (Lymond Chronicles #4) by Dorothy Dunnett:  SO it's happened as was inevitable.  The Lymond Chronicles have taken over my life.  I want to do nothing but listen to these books.  So glad to be re-reading - it's if anything, better the second time through.  It is no fault of Strong Poison or The Screaming Staircase that I have pretty well abandoned them in order to main line Lymond. 
        • Strong Poison  (Lord Peter Wimsey #6) by Dorothy L. Sayers: Only a few more of these left :( but I hear Lord Peter gets a girlfriend in this one - Ooooohhhhh!
        • The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud:  A mid-grade novel about ghost fighters in Britain.  
        • Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch:  Non-fiction about eating psychology and biology.  I've been dipping in and out of it for the last few months!

        Added to the TBR:

        This is a list of books that I have added to my Goodreads TBR list this week.  It helps to burn the books I want to read a little more firmly into my mind, maybe get them on some other folks TBRs and gives me a chance to recognize a lot of the awesome bloggers that add stuff to my TBR!

        • The Girl with the Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn:  This one's set in the U.S. which is odd for Quinn.  It sounds delightful and was recommended by Danya at Fine Print.
        • Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid  Paulson:  Another rec from Danya.  I don't usually read contemporary romance but this looked intriguing.
        • The Tree of Hands by Ruth Rendell:  Making my TTT list this week about some of my Dad's favorite mystery writers reminded me that there are several I'd like to try.  Coincidentally this book popped up on sale this week, too!
        • From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell:  See the above note about the TTT.  I haven't bought this one but wanted to put a reminder to check this book out which is the first in her biggest series.  
        • City of Lies (Counterfeit Lady #1) by Victoria Thompson:  I saw this on somebody else's TBR and immediately became intrigued.  I've read a bunch of books in Thompson's gaslight mystery series (which is historical) and really enjoy her female protagonist in that book!
        • Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton:  Historical fiction revolving around Paleontology - Sign me up! Recommended by Mogsy at The Bibliosanctum.

        On the BLOG since I last Posted:

        TUESDAY: TOP TEN TUESDAY | Mysteries that My Father Loved
        THURSDAY: REVIEW |  Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart  This second book in the series solidified my love for this series!

        Can you tell from this picture Ella and I's respective feelings for one another, lol? #grumpyrabbit

        Thursday, June 15, 2017

        REVIEW | Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart

        Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
        Publication Year: 2016
        Genre: Historical Mystery, Crime
        Series: Kopp Sisters #2
        Awards: None
        Format: eBook (from Library)
        Narrator: NA

        SPOILERS AHOY!  This is book two in a series so some spoilery type things about book one may be revealed. 

        WHY?:  This is currently my favorite ongoing historical mystery series.  So glad that the first book, Girl Waits With Gun, wasn't the last!

        SYNOPSIS: At the end of the first book, after Constance had thoroughly impressed Sheriff Heath with her fortitude, cleverness and practicality, he offered her a job as a deputy on his staff.  Constance enthusiastically accepts but as this book opens, it quickly becomes obvious that things have gone awry.  Sheriff Heath is catching heat for this controversial appointment and things get worse when an important prisoner escapes, and it is seemingly Constance's fault.  What's a woman to do?  Well, track down the prisoner and bring him back into detention single-handedly of course. 

        At the end of Girl Waits With Gun, things were looking up for Constance Kopp.  She'd been offered a job by the Sheriff which gave her a way to support herself and her two sisters and keep them independent.  As a bonus she discovers that she very much enjoys police work and or the first time in her life she feels like she has a purpose. Unfortunately, things pretty quickly lose their shine when Sheriff Heath's promises to get her sworn is as a Deputy don't seem to be coming to fruition.  She has mostly been relegated to being a matron for the female residents of the county jail and she longs to get out more doing real Sheriff Deputy's work.

        Unfortunately the first time in a while she does get out, an important prisoner disappears, seemingly under her watch.  Though the prisoner likely would have disappeared under anyone's watch, the folks against Sheriff Heath's appointment of a lady to his staff are quick to blame it on the fact that she is a woman.  Constance must not only redeem herself in Sheriff Heath's eyes so she can get a chance to do what she loves but she must also do it to prove to his critics that he was not daft to hire a woman.  That she can do everything a male Deputy can do.  So she launches her own independent investigation, running afoul of Sheriff Heath and his wife while she does so.

        As with book one, this is not really a strict mystery.  There are mysterious elements, questions that need answering but it is probably more accurate to call it a historical crime novel.  The main action in the book is a manhunt with much of the investigation centering on figuring out where the prisoner might be hiding.  Constance is creative with her independent investigating and meets some other professional women and solidifies how much her job means to her

        Meanwhile, she's somewhat neglecting her family.  She is struggling particularly with young Fleurette who is so different than she and Norma and has dreams that scare Constance.  It is also stressful to be so at odds with Sheriff Heath and especially for feeling like she's let him down and is causing him hardship.  He stuck his neck out for her and there is no way she is going to let him be punished for doing that.  And it's not just his bosses that are giving him a hard time but also his unhappy wife.  I am seemingly unable not to 'ship everyone, so I really like Constance and Sheriff Heath as a team.  They are very simpatico and work really well together...much better than he and his wife do.  However, I can't really tell if Stewart is heading that way or not?  If so it is a very slow burn which is fine by me.  I like Constance and Norma's independence so don't want to diminish that by implying that Constance needs a man.  She doesn't but it would be nice for her to be loved by someone who gets and respects her.

        Regardless of all of that, there are a lot of complications and conflict in the characters' relationships in this volume but not in a melodramatic way.  As with Girl Waits With Gun, it feels very down to earth and authentic.  Also like the first book, I loved it!  The best thing of all about it, is that it is based on a true story!

        FINAL VERDICT:  This historical mystery series is brimming full of period authenticity and wonderful characters. I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction and/or crime novels. 4 out of 5 stars.

        Other Opinions are Available: The Washington Post | The Book Stop

        Monday, June 12, 2017

        TOP TEN TUESDAY | Mysteries That My Father Loved

        Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  

        I was sitting here, merrily making a list of really terrible fathers in literature for this week's TTT when I started feeling a little guilty about it.  This topic was, of course, chosen to coincide with Father's Day here in the U.S., the purpose of which is to honor fathers. That got me started, thinking about my own dad who was pretty awesome and had a huge impact on me as a person.  Then it struck me...why not do a list honoring my dad?

        My dad had a lot of passions - baseball, particularly the Baltimore Orioles; Music, mostly classical, jazz and country; good beer; National Public Radio and Television; the law and social justice, he was a law professor and specialized in juvenile justice issues and he was a lifelong Democrat.  He was also a big reader and while he enjoyed a good bit of non-fiction and more scholarly reading, during our two weeks at the beach every year you never saw him without a fun Mystery novel in his hand.  I thought I would feature on this list some of his favorite mystery writers/series/books. If you are a fan of the BBC Mystery series, you will notice that a number of these made an appearance there and he was also a great devotee of those programs.  I myself have read a few of these, not all, but I will try to give a general synopsis of each.  


        1. Ruth Rendell (also Barbara Vine)

        I have not read any of these, much to my chagrin. Ruth Rendell wrote a series of more standard British mysteries set in Sussex that featured an Inspector Wexford as well as some psychological thrillers under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.  My dad especially liked the Barbara Vine books. 

        2. Dick Francis

        I have not read any of these either but Dick Francis was a British Jockey and wrote a series of mysteries that centered around horses and horse racing.

        3. Martha Grimes - Richard Jury Mysteries

        Martha Grimes is an American who wrote British mysteries featuring Inspector Richard Jury and his aristocratic and scholarly friend Melrose Plant.  Each of the books has a colorful name that is also the name of pub.  For example the first is The Man With a Load of Mischief.  I've read the first two in this series and while they are a little dated (first one published in 1981) they are fun, relatively cozy British mysteries.

        4. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

        This is a cool little book that features a Scotland Yard Inspector who is laid up in the hospital and decides to tackle the mother of all cold cases - Who actually killed the Princes in the tower during Richard III's reign?  This was one of my dad's favorite books and he practically made me read it as a teenager.  I'd like to re-read sometime.

        5. P.D. James - Inspector Dalgliesh Series

        I am sorry to say I've never read anything by P.D. James but my dad absolutely loved her.  She's another British writer, writing British mysteries featuring police detective Adam Dalgliesh.  She also wrote a couple of books about a female PI, Cordelia Gray.  I definitely need to read Ms. James someday!

        6. Ellis Peters - Brother Cadfael Mysteries

        Ellis Peters is another British writer (are you seeing a trend?:) who sets her books in Medieval England.  She includes a lot of history in her books and her protagonist is a monk called Brother Cadfael.  I've read a number of the books in this series and they are wonderful. 

        7. Ian Rankin - Inspector Rebus Series

        Ian Rankin's books are a little less cozy and he sets his mysteries on the mean streets of Edinburgh Scotland.  His books are more hard-boiled.  I think I've read the first book in this series?

        8. Walter Mosley - Easy Rawlins Series

        Finally, a book set in the U.S.!  Ezekiel 'Easy' Rawlins is an African American PI in the 1940s and 1950s in Los Angeles.  I've not read any of these.

        9. John Mortimer  - Rumpole of the Bailey

        This series was a special favorite of my dad's since it features a protagonist who is a lawyer.  My dad even got a shirt for my mom that says "She Who Must be Obeyed" which is how Rumpole refers to his wife.  I have not read any of these but would like to someday.

        10. John LeCarre

        This is a little bit of a departure as LeCarre's books would probably be shelved as spy thrillers.  However, for a period, my dad was obsessed with these books and I'm pretty sure read them all.  The most famous book, which has been adapted for the screen at least twice is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and they are focused on the British Secret Service.

        Sadly, my dad passed away from cancer in 2008 and I still miss him all the time. One of the last presents I gave him was a book, an audio version of The Known World by Edward P. Jones. Despite feeling terrible and the chemo and such he was making a two + hour drive each week to teach a class at his Alma Mater.  As the semester went on, the drive became harder and I thought the audio book would help him stay focused and keep his mind occupied. He told me that the book was great.  I wish I could have discussed it more with him.  

        Anyway, Happy Father's Day, Dad. Love and miss you so much.