Category: New Books

November 15th, 2018 by diane92345

It will be the best of times. It will be the worst of times. How will your life change when there is No One at the Wheel?

“Most transportation experts say that by 2075 driven cars will be completely replaced…By 2035, we may find that the majority of driving miles are completed by machines, not humans.”

In 2018, 1.3 million people are projected to die in road crashes with 50 million more injured. The need for a solution is clear. Autonomous vehicles are coming. Every major automobile company has one in development.

Will the resulting society be a utopia of staring at your phone continuously while your car drives you to work with no risk of accidents? Or will it cause massive disruption in the economy and overcrowded roadways? What will the one out of seven US residents who work in transportation do for a living? How will they be retrained and who will fund it? The decisions made now will determine our later fate.

No One at the Wheel shares the pros and cons of this new technological development. By making analogies to the development of the original cars, the author paints a dim view of the future of driven cars—as bleak as that of a horse and carriage in 1940.

I found both the history of cars and the potential of autonomous vehicles fascinating. But I’m still unsure what I can do personally to ensure a rosy outcome. No One at the Wheel is recommended for futurists and historians in equal measure. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, PublicAffairs, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Advertisements

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Scandal in Scarlet
November 15th, 2018 by diane92345

Another fun-filled romp from Vicki Delany! A Scandal in Scarlet is the fourth cozy in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery series.

Gemma is walking her dog late one night when she sees flames behind the window of the historic Scarlet Museum. A candle left burning is ruled the cause of the fire. Due to interior damage, Kathy and the rest of the museum’s Board decide to have an auction to raise money for repairs. Jayne, co-owner with Gemma of Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Shop next door to Gemma’s bookshop, volunteers to hold the auction.

Only one business refuses to donate an item for the auction, the uniformly disliked Maureen. When Maureen brings a truly hideous painting to donate the day of the auction, refuses to pay the entrance fee, and starts a loud fight with Kathy, Kathy’s day couldn’t get worse. But then she sees her recently ex-husband with his new older wife sitting in the back of the room. She goes into a backroom to recuperate after the two shocks. When she doesn’t come out to begin the auction, Gemna and Jayne find her in the back room strangled. The decorative cord used to kill her is missing from the front of the tea shop implying that one of the attendees did the crime. However, a back door to the alley was also unlocked so there was access from outside.

Kathy was not well liked by half of the museum’s Board and volunteers leading to plenty of disgruntled suspects. When Gemma is asked to help the hated Maureen to clear her name, she agrees and the game is afoot.

I adore this series! Gemma and Jayne are genuine, relatable, and seem like old friends. The mystery is rather difficult to solve, which makes this a great choice for armchair detectives. Gemma’s romance with handsome Detective Ryan is moved forward a bit as is her friendship with Grant. A Scandal in Scarlet has something for all cozy readers. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

All New Square Foot Gardening
November 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Whether you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, eat more veggies or prepare for the zombie apocalypse, the All New Square Foot Gardening is the answer.

All New Square Foot Gardening lists ten core principles of this innovative gardening method.

  1. Plant densely
  2. Grow up (not out)
  3. Use Mel’s Mix as soil—not garden soil
  4. Garden close to your home
  5. Grow shallow
  6. Don’t fertilize
  7. Save space with small walk spaces between the garden boxes
  8. Don’t use seeds only to cull them later—only plant what you will eat
  9. Plant in squares
  10. Rotate your crops even during the same season

The book explains how to plan your new garden. It also shows how to build or buy the garden boxes and how to make the soil to put within them. The best part is the section at the end listing a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. Within each listing is everything needed to plant, grow, and harvest that crop. It also includes how many seeds or transplants to plant per square, common problems and how to cook each crop.

This is the third edition of this book. The basic idea of gardening in one foot squares instead of rows remains the same. However, the layout, organization and full-color pictures make this edition much easier to follow to achieve your dream garden. I have used the two previous editions to create some spectacular gardens in extremely small apartment back yards so I can personally attest that this gardening style works as advertised. 5 stars!

Thanks to Cold Springs Press/Quarto Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Murder at Harbor Village
November 14th, 2018 by diane92345

When there is a Murder at Harbor Village, everyone is a suspect in this new cozy mystery series.

Cleo Mack is offered a golden parachute to retire early from her Social Work professorship at an Atlanta university. She decides to move to Fairhope Alabama, recognized as one of the best retirement towns. Cleo quickly gets a job and apartment in Harbor Village, a retirement community.

The weekend before starting her new job the little seen corporate bigwig, Lee, is found dead of apparent drowning in the resident’s indoor pool. Cleo is surprised to learn that her long ago ex-husband, Travis, married Lee a month earlier. When Lee’s sister, Jamie, leaves her Director job the day after the murder, Cleo is made acting Director.

Police Chief Boozer soon discovers that Lee was bludgened to death. As the one to benefit the most by inheriting his wife’s considerably wealth, Travis is suspect number one. Cleo decides to investigate to clear Travis’ name.

The characters in Murder at Harbor Village were genuine. Cleo would make a good friend—helpful and intelligent. However, I found it difficult to get over the many unbelievably coincidences in the novel. Cleo kept meeting random strangers in Fairhope that all had a connection to Harbor Village. Her new boss married her ex only a month earlier? Still I liked the characters enough to read the next in the series, Murder at Royale Court, coming out in June 2019. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Lyrical Underground, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Outpost Zero Vol 1
November 13th, 2018 by diane92345

If you are a young adult and are not adopted, you may enjoy Outpost Zero Vol 1, a space opera set in the far future.

Sometime in the future, Denis and his wife, Jann, are on the Discovery Team, who look for life on their alien planet. Their 14-year-old daughter, Alea, wants desperately to join them so she secures a spot as an intern for the Team. Alea’s boyfriend, Steven, believes the Discovery Team is too dangerous but Alea isn’t swayed.

The family lives in the Outpost, an artificially created biome that allows humans to live in a large domed city on an alien planet. When Denis and Jann are outside the biome, they see a fast approaching weather cell that may spell doom for the biome and the humans that live inside.

Outpost Zero Vol 1 has a good plot for young adult readers. There is a mystery but I don’t want to give any spoilers. The artwork is fine. The color palette of dusty blues and greens fits the mood inside a biome. However, I disliked this quote by Alea regarding the head of the biome who took in her son after his parents were killed, “What I mean is, do you think the Chief would do anything for Sam? Even though he isn’t really hers?” Jann’s response is even more insensitive to adoptive families, “Well, I think—she cares about Sam, wants him to succeed. Loves him like her own son. But when a child’s yours from the start—when they come from you…there’s a bond you can’t get any other way. It’s just the way it is.” This discussion wasn’t necessary to the plot and will hurt people’s feelings. I can’t recommend this book. 2 stars.

Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with:

Death and Daisies
November 13th, 2018 by diane92345

Death and Daisies is the perfect blend of mystery, romance and paranormal with believable characters you wish you could befriend in real life.

Fiona has lived in Scotland for two months after inheriting her godfather’s house and magic garden. Why didn’t her godfather explain how to help people using the century old menhir and climbing rose in her garden that is the source of the magic? The rules are vague:

  1. Visit the garden as much as possible to cement your connection to it.
  2. Care for the garden like any other garden.
  3. Touch the stone menhir to learn what the garden wants you to know. However, you may see things you don’t want to know.

Fiona’s sister, Isla, visits to help open Fiona’s flower shop. The day before the grand opening, the local minister threatens Fiona in person. The next morning Fiona finds a hostile note from the minister stuck in her door. During the grand opening, the handsome Chief Inspector Neil finds the note. When the minister is found murdered, suspicion falls on Fiona so she decides to find the killer to clear her name. Good thing her best friend in town, Cally, is also a lawyer.

It is hard to explain why I like the characters so much in this book. Perhaps it is the fact that one has a red squirrel as a pet who sits on his shoulder. Or the old seaman who Fiona calls Popeye in her mind because she has forgotten his name. Everyone in the village has strange quirks that make them memorable. Realistically, it may be the difficult but enviable choice that Fiona has between two burly Scotsmen as potential beaus. As Isla tells Fiona, “You will have your own Scottish love story a la Outlander without the hassle of time travel.”

Though Death and Daisies is the second entry in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone. It is highly recommended for cozy readers looking for authentic characters, an unusual setting and a good mystery. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies
November 8th, 2018 by diane92345

Have you ever wondered about the engine under the hood of your favorite movie or television show? If so, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is a comprehensive resource you need to read.

Beginning with the screenplay, this book has a chapter about each part of the movie making process. Other chapters focus on acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound/music and directing. There is also a short chapter about documentaries in the appendix.

Each of the chapters offer an in-depth look at the work of the providers of the skill. The author defines some industry terms. There are fascinating stories from the past. Who knew the first time the title of production designer was used was for Gone with the Wind? Names of actors and movies are given as both good and bad examples of the skill being studied. Finally, at the end of each chapter is a list of recommended movies to watch to see the craft at its highest level.

Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is enchanting. It’s perfect for movie fans who want to see the multiple skills necessary to make a great movie. I loved it! 5 stars.

Thanks to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Who I Am
November 8th, 2018 by diane92345

Thrilling and challenging mystery about what happened to four college co-eds almost twenty years earlier. The past rears its ugly head when a mysterious person realizes that revenge is the only answer in the compelling Who I Am.

Down-on-her-luck Camille insinuates her way into the life and house of college friends rich Andi, suspicious Clara and quiet Jo. A boat disaster breaks up the friends in the worst way possible. Now one of the friends is stalking Andi looking for revenge.

Split into three first person narratives at three different time periods, Who I Am is a twisty rollercoaster of a read. First, there is the slow clanking of the build-up to the first pause at the top of the ride. At this point, we learn the story of what happened to the four roommates on the night of a boating accident. There were only two survivors so why are there three narrators? And whoosh we are plunging downhill on the ride. There are many twists and turns in the plot—some foreseen and some not. The psychological suspense sets up an atmosphere of dread. The reader feels a twist coming but isn’t sure where it will lead.

Who I Am is a perfect Fall read. It is creepy, convoluted and has a challenging mystery to solve. So put on some sweats, get a cup of hot cocoa and settle in for an engrossing evening. 4 stars!

Thanks to Aria Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Lost Lake
November 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Another engrossing Gemma Monroe mystery begins at Lost Lake in Colorado.

Sari is reported missing during a camping trip with her boyfriend Mac, her best friend Ally, and Mac’s cousin, Jake. Detective Gemma Monroe is called to investigate. After questioning the three she concludes, “one of them is lying. Which one, and about what, I don’t know…but I was sure of it.”

Sari is an assistant curator at a local museum, where a recent theft has occurred. When another museum staff member is murdered, Gemma must decide if the three incidents are related.

Gemma is also facing some personal issues. Recently back to work, she is missing her six-month-old daughter Grace. With a troubling relationship with baby daddy Brody, Gemma still isn’t sure about marriage to him. Her partner, Finn, is grandstanding while presenting her ideas as his own. The police chief asks her to find a leaker within the police force, which makes Gemma feel like a rat.

In most police procedurals, there are few clues and fewer suspects. Lost Lake has a plethora of both. However, the clues are right in front of the reader making this tale great for armchair detectives.

Lost Lake is the third book in the series but can easily be read as a standalone. It is an enthralling police procedural with compelling characters and a challenging mystery. 4 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

What Would Cleopatra Do?
November 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Wondering how to deal with an annoying baby brother? Think What Would Cleopatra Do? 18-year-old Cleopatra married her 12-year-old brother so she could rule Egypt. Once her subjects got used to the idea, she basically erased her brother’s name on all historical and legal documents and took all the power for herself.

While that example might be a bit extreme, this book has many good examples to share. Using the real life stories of fifty famous woman to illustrate maxims on how to deal with everyday issues is an outstanding idea. The issues vary from facing failure to not being hot to learning your worth.

What Would Cleopatra Do? is an empowering read for young girls especially pre-teens just beginning their life journey. The lessons taught here—of loving yourself and not letting barriers stop your dreams—are powerful messages. The method of using famous historic women to display these values is smart and entertaining. Most of the stories are short at around five pages. The book is recommended for young girls and others needing a boost in our tumultuous world. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Scribner, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Skeleton Makes a Friend
November 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Skeleton Makes a Friend is another fun romp with Georgia and her animated skeleton Sid.

Adjunct Professor Georgia gets a summer job teaching writing to high school students in a prestigious, but rundown, New England college. The job comes with a three bedroom cabin perfect for Georgia, her teenage daughter, Madison, and her best friend, Sid.

A teenage girl named Jen comes to the cabin looking for her online gaming friend who is a detective IRL. It doesn’t take long for Georgia to figure out she means Sid. Jen states that one of their online group has been missing for over a week. Unfortunately, she only knows him as Erik Bloodaxe, his gaming name.

Sid eventually convinces Georgia to help him find the real Erik in the college halls. When mysterious events start occurring, only the amateur detective team of Sid and Georgia can ferret out the truth.

I missed Sid, Georgia and Madison. After reading and enjoying the first two books in the series, I must have missed the next two. I snapped this one up when I saw it on NetGalley. It is amazing how useful an animated skeleton is when investigating crime. With no fingerprints, no need for sleep, and more than a lifetime of knowledge, Sid is an extremely good detective.

It is surprising how much a skeleton can feel like a genuine member of the family. The antics of Sid make for an amusing afternoon of reading. Skeleton Makes a Friend, as well as the other books in this series, are recommended to any cozy readers willing to suspend disbelief in animated skeletons for a few hours. 4 stars!

Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves
November 5th, 2018 by diane92345

Theories abound, but few conclusions are reached in the interesting, but ultimately disappointing, Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves.

Recently, there has been a spate of celebrity suicides: Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and Avicii (Tim Bergling). Despite having an outwardly successful life, these people, and many others over the years felt that suicide was the best choice. Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves attempts to answer that question using scientific studies and the author’s own suicidal tendencies as a roadmap.

The statistics and studies are fascinating.  For example, 43% of suicides are caused by genetics, and 57% are caused by environment. 90% of the genetic issues are mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder. The worst risk is when a person genetically predisposed to suicide runs into one of the environmental issues like the death of a loved one or loss of a job. The risks stack rather than run concurrently. However, the book’s episodic nature jumps from the police’s difficulty of determining suicidal intent conclusively to whether animals commit suicide to pure scientific research about brain chemistry.

Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves attempts to answer the “why are people suicidal” question. However, the presentation of a multitude of theories, many of them conflicting, fails to provide a clear answer. The conclusion presents some interesting facts about prevention, which answers only the “how are suicides done” question. The why remains a mystery.

Readers interested in how to prevent suicide rather than why suicide occurs will enjoy this book. Also, therapists or police officers interested in learning the results of studies of suicides would appreciate it. However, it is not recommended for families dealing with a suicide that has already occurred as it will generate more questions than answers. Also, anyone contemplating suicide would be better served by reading one of the many self-help or therapeutic books on the subject. 3 stars.

Thanks to University of Chicago Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with:

Past Tense
November 5th, 2018 by diane92345

Jack Reacher is idly looking for his father’s past in small Laconia, New Hampshire in Past Tense.

There are two tales in this book: Jack’s search for his family and a young Canadian couple’s stay in a creepy motel. Both occur in Laconia so it is obvious the two tales will converge in time for the conclusion. The couple, Shorty and Patty, are taking a strange object to NYC when they have car trouble. They are forced to stay a night at a deserted motel. The reader can feel the dread on the first night when their room door is stuck closed.

The Reacher story moves slowly but the couple’s story keeps the reader’s interest until the slam bang conclusion where both plots come together. Past Tense is one of the best entries in the Jack Reacher series. It is highly recommended to readers looking for smart plots and authentic characters especially the laconic, but deadly, Jack Reacher. 4 stars!

Thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Wrench in the Works
November 4th, 2018 by diane92345

Charming characters in a unique setting enliven A Wrench in the Works, the sixth Fixer-Upper Mystery.

Sisters Shannon and Chloe grew up working in their dad’s construction company. Shannon took over her dad’s company when he retired. Chloe moved to Hollywood and stars in a fixer-upper show.

Chloe decides to go back to her hometown to film a season of her show with the help of her sister’s construction team. When someone on the production is killed and Chloe is threatened, Shannon investigates.

Despite being part of a series, A Wrench in the Works works well as a stand-alone. The characters and their relationships are genuine. Setting the mystery behind the scenes on an HGTV-type show is innovative. I would have liked the puzzle to be slightly harder to solve. However, I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

A Wrench in the Works is recommended to cozy readers looking for endearing characters in an unusual setting. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkley Mystery, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Laws of Brand Storytelling
November 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

Filled with countless examples of great brand storytelling featuring brands familiar to everyone, the Laws of Brand Storytelling helps any business tell their story in the most efficient and effective way.

The twenty-nine Laws of Brand Storytelling are grouped into six categories: Protagonist, Strategy, Discovery, Story-making, Channel, and Engagement. The largest category, Story-making, is filled with excellent ideas on how to tell a great brand story. A few examples of the Story-making Laws are consistency, simplicity, language, diversification, urgency, and optimization. Optimization focuses on how to target your marketing to find your perfect audience. The best advice from the Laws of Brand Storytelling is to focus on what your company and its employees hope to accomplish for the world rather than just on the product or service that you are selling.

With the speed of change in technology and social media increasing daily, all companies must reassess how they are connecting with their customers. No longer will a few Super Bowl ads with cute frogs make your company a household name or double your sales. Now, your brand’s audience must be found across a multitude of platforms: Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google ads, streaming channels, traditional television channels, websites, etc. How can you engage an audience continually moving on to the next shiny object?  This book uses many examples of ways real companies both find and keep their customers. The Laws of Brand Storytelling is an invaluable tool to build your brand and also your business’ profit. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Yule Log Murder
November 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Three novellas in bestselling cozy mystery series all involving yule logs and set in the Christmas season are told in the Yule Log Murder.

The Yule Log Murder is part of the Lucy Stone series. An assistant on a movie shoot is killed while transporting a yule log. It includes the recipe for the yule log at the end of the story.

In Death by Yule Log, the obnoxious boyfriend of the daughter of Hayley Powell is suspected of bludgeoning someone to death with a frozen yule log. The recipes included sound yummy.  They are:

  • Mom’s Christmas Morning Cocktail
  • Dustin’s Christmas Morning Cinnamon Muffins
  • Gemma’s Hot Chocolate
  • Mom’s Special Hot Chocolate (adds vodka and peppermint schnapps to Gemma’s recipe above)
  • Randy’s Crock-Pot Mulled Wine
  • Hayley’s Christmas Yule Log

Logged On tells the story of elderly Mrs. St. Onge, whose complicated Buche de Noel (yule log in French), is suspected of poisoning multiple people in the town. This tale is part of the Maine Clambake Mystery series. It includes the recipe for the Buche de Noel plus a warning by the author to find a professional baker to make the complicated recipe.  The author helpfully includes an easy recipe for Jewel Brooch Cookies for those of us that are not professional bakers.

While I enjoyed all three stories, Logged On was my favorite because of its unusual plot.  I liked it so much that I am beginning to read the Maine Clambake mysteries beginning with Steamed Open to be published on December 18, 2018. Many people read cozy food mysteries for the recipes.  The recipes in Death by Yule Log are much more likely to appear on my Christmas table. Lucy Stone is one of my favorite characters.  I feel like I am growing up (or old?) with her family and friends.

The Yule Log Murder is an excellent way to get into the Christmas spirit. Despite all the tales using a yule log, each one had an entirely different spin on the plot. It is recommended to cozy readers looking for a few light evening reads. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,