Category: New Books
In 1894, there is a Murder in the British Museum. Private Inquiry Agent Daniel Wilson and his live-in lover Abigail Fenton, a famous archaeologist, investigate at the request of the museum director.
Esteemed Professor Lance Pickering is most famous for his work on the new King Arthur exhibit and for his new book about Arthur’s uncle, Ambrosius. That is until he is stabbed in the museum’s restroom behind a locked cubicle door.
Daniel quickly guesses how the murder was done. Unfortunately, he must work even faster to discover the who before his nemesis, Superintendent Armstrong of Scotland Yard, beats him to it.
If you enjoy learning some Arthurian and 19th century London history while reading an engaging mystery, you will enjoy Murder at the British Museum. There is also a strong feminist as the detective’s side kick plus the almost obligatory bumbling Scotland Yard employee complicating the case. I liked the no-nonsense romance between Daniel and Abigail. The mystery was good too. Overall, I rate it at 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Allison & Busby and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: British, feminism, Jul 18 2019, Police procedural
An Amish grandmother, Mary Yoder, is brutally killed and one of her granddaughters is kidnapped in Shamed, an Amish police procedural.
Kate Burkholder is the former Amish and current police chief in small town, Painters Mill Ohio. Her first concern is locating special needs Elsie, age seven. The viciousness of her grandmother’s murder doesn’t bode well for her safety. The only witness is her traumatized 5-year-old sister. Surprisingly, she identifies the killer as Amish.
It is innovative to set a police procedural in a small Amish town. However, the differences in culture are not emphasized. In fact, the opposite is true. The author frequently states how similar the Amish are to the English. There are liars and murderers among them too.
The rest of the book is a formulaic small town police procedural. Kate needs help from other jurisdictions, including her boyfriend, John Tomasetti of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations. She also has to resist the mayor’s politically motivated suggestions to solve the crimes quickly before the tourists start cancelling their visits to Painters Mill.
My biggest problem with Shamed is that there isn’t any real interaction between the characters. Kate and John barely speak to each other through most of the book. Also, Kate’s backstory of why she left the Amish isn’t fleshed out. None of the characters seem genuine. The mystery was also easy to figure out. So for those reasons, this book receives only 3 stars from me.
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Amish, Jul 16 2019
Bark of Night had me with the cute French Bulldog on the cover. But I stayed for the hatred of veggies and pronounced love of dogs evident in this conflicted defense lawyer protagonist’s cozy mystery.
Truman, a healthy French Bulldog, is brought into a vet clinic to be euthanized. The vet asks one his patient’s fur daddy, defense attorney Andy, if he is legally obligated to kill Truman after the dog’s chip reveals that the man who dropped him off is not his owner. In fact, the owner is recently murdered. Andy says no and takes Truman in to his rescue association to be placed in a forever home.
Laurie, Andy’s wife, encourages semi-retired Andy to look into the death of Truman’s owner, James Haley, including defending the possibly innocent boy in jail for the crime. Andy finds layer upon layer of murder.
Bark of Night is the fastest paced cozy mystery I’ve ever read—and I’ve read a lot of them. There are four murders and one attempted dog “murder” before the 25% mark. The perspective is unique too. We hear first person from Andy about what he is discovering. However, we also get an omniscient third person narrative about the murders. Despite that viewpoint, there aren’t any explicit or graphic scenes of violence within the book.
I enjoyed the unusual narrative structure. It’s rare in cozies to know more than the main character does. I also liked the easy wordplay and dynamics between Andy and Laurie. Andy’s snarky asides about his hatred of vegetables and karaoke add some needed humor into the plot. The mystery is complicated and a challenge to solve. I would have appreciated more involvement by Andy’s two dogs and Truman in the book. Overall, Bark of Night is an excellent cozy mystery choice. 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, dogs, Jul 16 2019
Phoebe Miller is hiding inside of a wine bottle inside her house for a number of reasons at the beginning of the Other Mrs. Miller.
Phoebe’s father has recently died and left her his fortune. Unfortunately, his death has also triggered a very public outpouring of women accusing him of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape during his lifetime. Phoebe feels both embarrassed and somehow guilty at the same time.
Phoebe and her husband, Wyatt, have had difficulties with having a child. When Wyatt brings up adoption, Phoebe brusquely shuts him down. They are now more roommates than spouses.
There is a strange car frequently parked in front of Phoebe’s house. Phoebe begins to get paranoid that the petite driver is one of her father’s victims or a paparazzo.
When a new family moves in across the street, Phoebe is attracted to the eighteen-year-old son, Jake. But when she brings a housewarming gift, she soon becomes best friends with Jake’s mom, Vicki. Vicki has her own slew of baggage to bring to the table.
To say the Other Mrs. Miller is stuffed with plots would be an understatement. But it is hard not to sympathize with passive Phoebe’s problems. Phoebe seems to just let problems wash over her like a wave that she assumes will eventually recede. When Phoebe finally does an affirmative action to improve her life, fate takes another swipe at her.
The twists and turns of the plot are unexpected and fun like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. Though I love to try and determine a solution before the characters, I was way off for this book. And I love it! If you like extreme and unexpected plot twists in your domestic thrillers, this is the book for you. 5 stars!
Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: family drama, Jul 16 2019
Budget travel guru Nomadic Matt turns introspective in Ten Years a Nomad.
I was expecting more travel and less ruminating on why Matt is compelled to wander the world. I love his website but this book has a more internal focus. He tries, with varying success, to apply what he has learned about himself to others. However, I just wasn’t buying it. Ten Years a Nomad seemed like a self-indulgent trip down memory lane. If I wanted to listen to that for hours, I would have become a therapist and be paid $150 an hour.
Okay, you can tell I didn’t like this book much. However, you might enjoy it if you know going in that it is not really a travel book so I’ll give it 3 stars.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Jul 16 2019, travel
Peach Clobbered is a great start to Nina’s life after divorce and to the reader’s (hopefully) long journey through the Georgia B&B cozy mystery series. I’m already looking forward to the next one!
Nina decides to start over after her divorce. She impulse buys a Queen Anne house in small but touristy Cymbeline, Georgia in the hopes of opening a Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, to get a license to operate a business in her home, she has to “volunteer” to take in six homeless nuns and a Mother Superior until they get relocated by their diocese. In the meantime, the nuns are picketing the land owner, who is intent on developing their convent into golf club estates. When the developer ends up dead while dressed in a penguin costume, Nina decides to investigate.
The characters are the best part of Peach Clobbered. Nina is new to town so we get to meet all the local people as a stranger initially, which is great fun. Who will be Nina’s love interest? Who will be her best friend? The mystery was good too. However, I will read the next in the Georgia B&B mystery series because of the agreeable and funny characters especially her Australian Shepherd, Mattie. This entry is recommended for cozy mystery readers looking for a new series that contains humor, mystery, and a bunch of nuns fighting to save their home. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, Jul 9 2019
Definitely the best noir I’ve read this year! The Sleepwalker is the third dark thriller in the terrific Aidan Waits series.
Down these dark hospital corridors a man must go… Aidan and his shady partner Sutty are watching a serial killer called The Sleepwalker die. The Manchester Police are hoping that the prisoner will tell Sutty where he left the body of his last victim. Instead, he denies the killing immediately before both he and Sutty are bombed in the hospital room.
While this is only the beginning of the twisty tale, I can’t even begin to tell you more without it being a spoiler. What I can do is highly recommend this gritty British noir for its impeccably nuanced characters and impressive plotting. Every noir fan must read this book! Fans of thrillers and police procedurals (though Aidan is not one to follow many rules) will enjoy it also. 5 stars!
Thanks to Doubleday UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: British, Jul 11 2019, Noir, Police procedural
FBI Agent Sayer Altair is leading a headline-grabbing serial killer case in Buried.
Max Cho is hiking with his FBI human remains detection dog, Kona, when she frantically signals a dead body is nearby. While investigating, Max falls into a cave littered with old bones.
The FBI is facing a Congressional hearing after a serial killer is found among their staff. FBI Assistant Director Janice Holt is testifying as are many of her staff. She calls on Agent, and neuroscientist, Altair from medical leave to head the cave of bones’ investigation with Max, Dana the forensic scientist, Ezra the computer specialist, and Piper a park ranger as her entire team.
When two recently dead bodies are found, with a link to another missing woman, the case goes from cold to red-hot. What is the connection between the old bones and the new bodies? Can Altair and her team find the missing woman in time?
I enjoyed the complexity of the plot. There are multiple threads entangled here—some from Caged, the previous book in the series, and some new. Only some get completely resolved by the conclusion foreshadowing another book in this series.
I didn’t read the other book in this series and had no problem following the character’s histories and the plot. Buried is an outstanding mix of Scarpetta and Hannibal Lector. I also learned a bunch about psychopaths. You can take the test online that Altair gives her research subjects, if you wish. Overall, a great read for thriller and especially serial killer fans. 4 stars!
16Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: forensic, Jul 16 2019
Unsolved Mysteries of World War II include missing treasures, murders, and bombs.
What group was responsible for the bombing at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York? How did Glenn Miller die? What happened to all the missing treasure of those victimized during World War II? Was the aircraft of Leslie Howard, “Ashley, oh Ashley” from Gone with the Wind, shot out of the sky because of his agent’s resemblance to Winston Churchill?
This book has many intriguing questions, some conspiracy theories, some contemporary responses but no definitive answers. This absence of answers is frustrating. I believe with some more research in fewer topics, the author could have suggested his own solution to these mysteries rather than letting them hang there in the air. Because of the lack of conclusions, I have to give Unsolved Mysteries of World War II only 3 stars. It is effective only if you are willing to spend additional time researching so you can draw your own conclusions.
Thanks to Arcturus Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Jul 15 2019, true crime
Heidi is a former Dairy Beauty Queen and the Bad Axe County, Wisconsin interim Sheriff. Her County has a heroin problem and hosts frequent stag parties in the backwoods. Heidi is trying to break up the old boy network of corruption within the Sheriff’s department. In addition, she attempts solving the murder of her parents fifteen years ago.
I wanted Bad Axe County to grab me by the throat and compel me to read quickly to its end. However, I didn’t even feel the novel’s hand tentatively reaching out to me. I just used 33 words to say what can be said in two: It’s boring. Nothing happens in the first 20% but getting the players together. Endless backstories make the plot move s-l-o-w-l-y. I also didn’t like the black and white characterizations. Calling drug addicts zombies when you are their sheriff seems excessively judgmental.
I can’t recommend this slow-moving thriller. While I loved Heidi’s personality especially her spunk, I don’t believe the pacing was correct for a thriller. 2 stars.
Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jul 9 2019
In Truth or Die, Detective Sergeant Imogen and her partner (and friend with benefits), DS Adrian are investigating a professor’s death. The philosophy professor’s head was bashed in with a glass paperweight. Their sleuthing uncovers an awful truth playing out at the university.
Both Imogen and Adrian are getting over recent relationships when this tale begins. While there is a mystery and some police procedures described, this seemed more an excuse to show Imogen and Adrian’s relationship moving forward rather than the other way round. There were also a lot of character names to juggle. I found myself frequently backtracking to determine who the character was that was speaking. I believe my problem was that I was trying to read this as a standalone. It would be much easier if I had the previous four books experience with many of the characters.
If you have read the previous books in this series and don’t mind some romance, frequent gore, and occasional twists in your police procedurals, you will already know whether you will enjoy Truth or Die or not. However, if you haven’t read the other books (at least the last one, The Promise), I think you will be as confused as I was while reading this one. I can only give my own review of course, so 3 stars for this character-driven thriller.
Thanks to Avon Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: British, Jul 11 2019, Police procedural
In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina is a book lover, a list manic, a cat owner, an introvert, and a nerdy trivia player. Nina is also me! (if I was a Millennial of course).
Nina loves her quiet, well-ordered life working in a bookstore, serving her cat Phil, playing on a pub trivia team, and above all losing herself in books. When she finds herself with a new large extended family after her unknown father’s death, her world threatens to teeter into disorder (or what OCD’ish Nina calls chaos).
While that is the plot in a nutshell, the heart’s blood of the Bookish Life of Nina Hill is Nina herself. All “bookworms” like myself will feel an immediate kinship to Nina. She’s adorable! While outwardly an introvert, Nina’s thoughts are full of snarky side eyes at the people surrounding her and pop/literary references like a book-reading Bart Simpson. Even with her love of her second favorite 19th century novel, Pride and Prejudice, Nina still is of the current century. She is a member of many clubs that sound like they came straight out of the nerdy section of the Meetup app.
Anyone who is female and likes to read will see themselves in Nina and truly enjoy this book. How can a reader not love a book that starts out with a quote from Sally Brown from Peanuts waxing poetic about library cards! It is highly recommended. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. 5 stars!
While I received an advanced review copy from Berkley Books and Edelweiss+ in exchange for my honest review, I also bought it on audio. The narrator, Emily Rankin, is exceptional and improved this already great book. I wish I could give it an extra star in audible form.
Posted in Audiobooks, Diane's Favorites, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books, Romance, Women's Fiction Tagged with: Jul 9 2019
I was cautiously hopeful that Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day would contain more than just how to prioritize your To Do list. Luckily, it has many more tips and tricks to manage your time and achieve your goals in life. Many that I have never heard of before.
The book briefly covers to do lists, prioritization, and the SMART goal-planning method so it is suitable for beginners. However, it goes further to focus on your long-term goals and using mindfulness to determine the time-sucks in your day. It also gives specific strategies to make your time more productive in specific situations including meetings, community projects, home cleaning, and meal preparation. The author also names apps, books, websites, and physical goods that may help you in your time management journey.
There really is something for everyone in Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day. I enjoyed it so much, and believe it is so useful, that I volunteered to talk about it in our bi-weekly staff meeting at work. Truly an excellent time management resource and I read a lot of them as an acknowledged To Do List Fanatic. 5 stars!
Thanks to Althea Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: guide, Jul 2 2019, time-saving
Jake is slowly losing his memories. Is it mental illness or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?
On a plane trip to Denver, he meets the Dead Girl in 2A and she seems familiar. The girl, Clara, says the same about Jake. It won’t matter much longer because Clara is going to Colorado to kill herself.
After losing Clara in the airport, Jake desperately tries to discover his connection to her. What he discovers is mind-blowing!
The Dead Girl in 2A is a thriller but its subject is sci-fi horror. A rogue medical experiment gone awry is a great topic for a thriller that hasn’t been used since Robin Cook’s books in the 1980s. The characters seem real and it is easy to empathize with them. This would make a great Netflix series along the lines of Stranger Things. Most thriller readers will enjoy it. However, if you have suicidal thoughts, you should avoid it as it glorifies suicide a bit. 4 stars!
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jul 2 2019, medical thriller
Roxane is a complex, underworked private investigator trying to save her brother from a murder charge in the Stories You Tell.
When her brother Andrew calls Roxane in the middle of the night, she comes running. Andrew is worried about former co-worker and one-time (or maybe two time) lover, Addison. Addison arrived at his house earlier bloody and incoherent. She then ran off before he could get the whole story. Work has been slow for PI Roxane so she agrees to check on the girl.
Roxane discovers Addison really is missing and she worked at the nightclub across the street from Andrew’s home. When Addison’s father reports her missing, Andrew is the police’s number one suspect. Roxane decides she must solve the crime to prevent Andrew from being indicted for murder.
Stories You Tell is a character-driven police procedural where the winter setting in Ohio almost feels like a character too. Roxane’s relationships are the heart of the book with lover Catherine, ex-lover Tom who was also her dead policeman father’s partner, and her brother Andrew. There are many mysteries to solve within this book but the clues are carefully hidden making it a fun tale for armchair detectives.
Overall, the book received 4 stars from me. I’m looking forward to reading the earlier, and subsequent, books in this series.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: British, Jul 9 2019, Police procedural
Sign of the Cross is a tense religious actioner that is perfect for fans of the DaVinci Code.
Cal Donovan, a Harvard professor of religion and archaeology, is called by the Pope to investigate an Italian priest’s stigmata. The stigmata is bleeding at the points where the nails entered Jesus to crucify him. Another group is also looking for the priest hoping to make a horrible weapon that promises to start the apocalypse.
It is hard not to compare Sign of the Cross to the Dan Brown books. The hero, Cal, has the same job. The reason for the task is religious. However, the DaVinci Code’s quest is both more complex and more interesting. But I’ve already read the DaVinci Code multiple times and I wasn’t very thrilled with the later books from Dan Brown. To be fair, this is a good book. The hero, the priest, the Nazis and neo-Nazis villains are mostly believable. The prose and pacing are fine. I would totally read another book by this author. However, this one was a bit too derivative for me. 3 stars!
Thanks to Black Thorn Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: apocalypse, Jul 4 2019