Category: New Books

Cuckoo
November 27th, 2018 by diane92345

Cuckoo is an atmospheric gothic mystery set in a rural English house, where even the heroine doubts her sanity. Is she hallucinating? Are ghosts present or is it her memories coming back of her horrible childhood?

Caro is a starving artist in London when she is informed her stepmother has died. Caro and her older sister Steph will inherit the entire estate once it leaves probate. Steph, now a wealthy New Yorker, gives her share to Caro. Caro, soon to be homeless in London, decides to move into her old family home to clear out her stepmother’s paperwork and personal items. While in the house, a snowstorm forces her to stay inside where her memories of her hateful stepmother during her childhood return with a vengeance.

Cuckoo is reminiscent of golden age mystery writers like Mary Roberts Rinehart with her Had I But Known school of naive and trusting narrators. Caro total lack of faith in herself and continual bad choices began to annoy me around the midpoint. Basically, the clues were all there in plain sight but Caro just ignored them all. I did enjoy the dark English folk and fairy tales sprinkled throughout the book. I googled some of them and they are real—no wonder the English have such stiff upper lips if this is how they entertain their children!

If you enjoy slow-burning gothic reads with most of the action in the unreliable narrator’s head, you will enjoy reading Cuckoo. For me, the annoyingly dense heroine and an obvious twist makes this a 3 star read for me.

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

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

Delicate Crochet
November 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Delicate Crochet uses a lightweight yarn (#3 or below) to create almost a lace effect in the twenty-three projects described.

The projects include four cardigans, two pullover sweaters, one vest, one poncho, one summer top, one skirt, one necklace and a pair of fingerless gloves. There are also four wraps, three shawls, one cowl, and three scarves. All have extensive pictures and schematics of both the size and the stitches used to make the garment. Sizes extend from extra-small to extra-large depending on the pattern. The techniques vary from regular crochet to broomstick lace to Tunisian crochet.

If you like to crochet, Delicate Crochet is perfect. It has new ideas for how to modernize the crochet look to be more polished. It has excellent instructions and illustrations. 4 stars!

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

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

Lowdown
November 24th, 2018 by diane92345

Lowdown, a romantic thriller set in the world of New York City’s mafia families, has the best first paragraph I’ve read in a long time:

“The first seven years you’re in the can, all you can think about is revenge. The next seven years you crave freedom and things you remember from before. You want to get laid more than you want to get even. After that you’re not so sure. You know you want to be on the other side, but you don’t trust your memories. People have died, gone to prison, disappeared. Places you remember have closed down. Freedom is just a dream, something you imagine often but incompletely. Part of you is scared of it. Prison has become your life. You may hate it, but it’s home. You’re not even sure if you hate it anymore. That’s what twenty-five years in the calendar shop does to you.”

Jimmy, a made man, is finally getting out of prison. He states:

”You are outside the prison gates. You’re fifty-eight years old and a newborn.”

But this is not just Jimmy’s story about reinventing himself after being a stand-up guy for twenty-five years, it also the story of young Milena. Milena is only thirteen when her story begins. She is an Italian teenage girl in the 1970s. Against the background of notorious NYC serial killers and the Vietnam war, her role is to get married and have children. Milena rebels against this stereotype by making poor choices in men and getting involved in crime. Eventually, she marries a made man and they have children. Her husband pulls her into his world with varying results.

Forgive me for quoting so much of the book but the language used is part of the charm of Lowdown. While it has mob killings and rats, it is more a love story of two people in a difficult setting finding each other. I love mafia movies and was expecting something along the lines of The Godfather. This is similar to the life story of Kay Adams-Corleone (Michael’s wife played by Diane Keaton) written after divorcing Michael. It is definitely more of a romance than a mafia book.  It is recommended for readers who want an original perspective on mob life. 4.5 stars!

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Pre-releases, Romance Tagged with: ,

Newcomer
November 23rd, 2018 by diane92345

Like Columbo, Newcomer is a new approach to a police procedural. Eight stories each tell an investigative tale. By the last chapter, the detective has solved the crime.

Precinct Detective Sergeant Kaga is a new transfer to Tokyo’s police department investigating a murder. He is a self-effacing bumbler on the surface but in reality is as smart as a whip. Each of the eight individual stories are interesting for their captivating character studies. They show both the similarities and differences between life in Japan and in America. However, they also provide clues to the overall mystery, the murder of a recently divorced woman. For example, Kaga verifies a suspect’s alibi by whether the suspect was wearing his suit coat when he went to the rice cracker shop. In other stories, Kaga tracks down the sweet buns and kitchen scissors found at the scene of the murder.  In all the stories, the people Kaga is interviewing, and the reader, do not know what or why he is investigating seemingly unrelated items.

I adored this delightful Japanese take on a police procedural! The character studies were interesting enough on their own to read the book. There were definitely clues to the murderer’s identity for the observant reader, which unfortunately was not me.  However, I liked the challenge. Newcomer has my highest recommendation for anyone looking for something completely different that most mystery books. 5 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: , ,

Relatively Normal
November 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

It’s that time of year when you look around at your assembled family during your holiday party and decide they look Relatively Normal.  At least they will, after you read this laugh-out-loud book.

Cat runs an event planning company in New York City. She meets and becomes engaged to Ethan, an actuary. Ethan is a planner. After Ethan and Cat are engaged and living together for two years, he insists on their two families celebrating Thanksgiving together at Cat’s family farm in rural Illinois.

Cat doesn’t know to explain her family to Ethan. Her mom collects obscure household goods like shortbread pans and various cozies. Cat’s dad is staunchly Scottish. He plays the bagpipes badly and dresses up stuffed mice as Scottish heroes. Her grandmother, Nan, says whatever she thinks. Unfortunately, she is usually thinking with a sailor’s vocabulary due to numerous small strokes. Cat’s brother, Travis, is a 29-year-old clown college dropout living in his parent’s basement.

When Cat, Ethan and his parents get to the farm all hell breaks loose. Cat’s dad has invited Cat’s high school boyfriend and former love of her life, Sam, and his parents. Unfortunately, Dad forgot to mention Cat’s engagement.

The absurdity of the Scottish Thanksgiving dinner is hilarious. Cat’s family never lie so they don’t hesitate to tell her Ethan isn’t her perfect match. When a medical emergency occurs, Cat contemplates her relationship with Ethan and her still fiery feelings for Sam, a feeling that Sam shares.

Relatively Normal starts as a superb farce. When the romance begins to heat up between Cat and Sam, Cat must decide what is important for her. The characters are so believable. You’re rooting for them to make the best decisions and live happily ever after. I recommend this book both to fans of zany humor and non-explicit romance. If you like the Stephanie Plum series, you will also like Relatively Normal. 4 stars!

Thanks to 33 Partners Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Humor, Kindle Unlimited, New Books, Romance Tagged with: ,

Better Balance for Life
November 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

Balance only turns on when a person is standing. In the modern world of smart phones and Uber, people mostly sit. Without regular practice, balance is lost. Better Balance for Life details easy exercises to be done while also doing daily tasks that will prevent this decline in balance.

With literally no time spent, the exercises in this book will prevent falls both now and in later life. Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth and curve like a rainbow while waiting for an elevator are just two of the imaginative exercises here. The exercises begin simply and get progressively more difficult. Four exercises are added each week. Most of the exercises sound deceptively easy but are somewhat challenging like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. However, all are fun.

Better Balance for Life is an enjoyably way to prevent breaking a hip when older. It would make a great gift for a grandfather or an elderly aunt. 4 stars!

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

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

Watersnakes
November 21st, 2018 by diane92345

Watersnakes is a modern fairy tale that is highly recommended.

An eerie fable about a ghost who carries the soul of an ancient king, and whose teeth are the king’s warriors. She kisses a living girl and vomits an octopus, who begs to be taken to the sea.

Best for fans of the surreal like Coraline. The mesmerizing story lingers like a remembered dream long after the last page is read. The dreamlike art perfectly matches the ethereal plot. 4 stars!

Thanks to Lion Forge and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: ,

My Sister, the Serial Killer
November 20th, 2018 by diane92345

In My Sister, the Serial Killer, Korede is a good sister, who cleans up her younger sister Ayoola’s messes, literally. With bleach.

Ayoola, though beautiful, has man problems—she keeps killing them. As the book begins, Ayoola has just killed her third boyfriend. After googling the definition of serial killer, Korede realizes it fits her sister.

When Korede catches Ayoola trying to hit on Dr. Tade at Korede’s work, Korede tries to stop her involvement. None of Ayoola’s relationships end well for the man and Korede has her eye on Tade for herself. When Ayoola takes Korede’s words as a challenge, the fun begins.

If you like black humor set in exotic Lagos Nigeria, you will love My Sister, the Serial Killer as much as I do. It is hard not to sympathize with poor plain Korede’s plight. Her sister is obviously just using her and all her boyfriends. It is a fun read from a completely new perspective. 4 stars!

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

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

Quantum Convention
November 19th, 2018 by diane92345

Containing eight science fiction/fantasy stories, Quantum Convention has a story for all tastes.

A man sneaks away from his wife to a Quantum Convention where he meets himself from 100 different universes each where a single different decision was made. An orphan finds a career as a professional mourner. A young boy discovers his true self in his love of dressing up as Dorothy while the Wicked Witch loses herself in her role. A group meeting whose goal is to make better decisions in dreams. A young girl’s unique relationship with Jesus. A man realizes his neighbor is Merlin the Wizard. A one-eyed boy finds a friend. The marriage of a college roommate makes a man question his sexuality.

Quantum Convention is more literary fiction than the advertised science fiction/fantasy. However, each story makes you reflect long after the story is complete. I had my favorites as will you. Quantum Convention is good choice when you are feeling philosophical. 3.5 stars!

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

Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with:

How to Get Rid of a President
November 18th, 2018 by diane92345

“The Executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a monarchy.” –Benjamin Franklin.

How to Get Rid of a President describes the true stories of how former Presidents were removed from office.

Ben didn’t need to worry as there are many ways to remove an unpopular President from office. Here are the eight explored in the book:

  1. Rejected by the party in the next election
  2. Undermined by others
  3. Dismissed preemptively
  4. Displaced by death
  5. Taken out by force
  6. Declared unable to serve
  7. Impeached and removed
  8. Shoved aside at the polls

How to Get Rid of a President Is a dense read chock full of examples of bad Presidents and their comeuppance. If you believe Trump is bad, you should read the story of Andrew Johnson, who is in most of the chapters as both parties tried desperately to get him out of the oval office. Nixon’s own staffers set a precedent of ignoring his often crazy or drunken executive orders. Despite democrats’ frequent calling for it to be used, impeaching a President is difficult to do and has never led to a sitting President’s removal.

This book is an important look into presidential politics. It is recommended for history buffs but also anyone unhappy with our current President. The stories here make him and even Hillary, if she had won, look good by comparison. 4 stars!

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

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

Limetown
November 17th, 2018 by diane92345

Fans of the Limetown podcast rejoice! Many of your lingering questions are answered within these pages. Plus there are no spoilers for future podcasts.

Lia wants to be a reporter. Her first investigation is of the missing residents of nearby Limetown. She discovers that her Uncle Emile is somehow involved, which makes it personal. Her father and uncle’s origin stories are told in flashbacks. What type of experiments were done at Limetown? Who were the people behind the experiments? What were their motivations? Why was Lia’s family so intimately involved?

I had heard of the Limetown podcast but hadn’t listened to any episodes before acquiring this book. I had only read about 20% when I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and binge listened to season 1. The podcast is formatted as interviews with survivors of the Limetown disaster. This book starts before Lia is a reporter or Emile has joined the Limetown project. By looking back, the podcast is inherently more mysterious and shocking than the book that is more linear. However, they complement each other well regardless of the order they are imbibed.

If you like mysteries with a creepy scientific setting, both the Limetown book and podcast are highly recommended. 4 stars! If you are already a podcast fan, you have to read this book!

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

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

How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings
November 16th, 2018 by diane92345

The title, How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings, sounds intimidating. However, everyone has project planning meetings in their everyday life. Are you planning a Christmas party? Or a vacation? Or how to clean your house?

Your stakeholders are your family members. Your project scope for house cleaning may include only the public areas—not individual bedrooms—and not the garage. You have to create a schedule so procrastination doesn’t force your team to clean the entire house in an hour. You may incur some costs by purchasing extra cleaning supplies or renting a rug cleaner. Finally, as Project Manager, you must verify that tasks are completed on time. If not, a reallocation of resources (your children) may be necessary.

How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings is a comprehensive look at how to run project meetings. The meeting goblins section is invaluable to silence grumblers, side-talkers and truly hostile attendees. The appendix contains a brief rundown of the entire project management process. It also describes the different certifications that are available, has brainstorming instructions and includes meeting war stories. Overall, it is an excellent book for those tasked with leading project meetings at work or elsewhere. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Maven House, and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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

Insomnia
November 16th, 2018 by diane92345

Stream-of-consciousness on the topic of Insomnia.

Most people, like me, occasionally have trouble sleeping. When lying awake in bed, strange and varied thoughts run willy-nilly through your brain. If those thoughts were put on paper, it would be this book. It contains science, art, philosophy and even mythology related to the sleeping process. Plus it’s meta fun to read about insomnia while suffering from it. However, there is no true conclusion. It’s as if the author finally fell asleep herself. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Catapult, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

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

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.

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: ,