Secret Language of Cats
November 10th, 2018 by diane92345

With over 95.5 million domestic cats in the US alone, there is a real need for cat owners to learn the Secret Language of Cats.

The author is a cat-lover with five cats of her own. She is also a phonetician at a Swedish university. This gives her the exact skills necessary to determine what cats are saying. There are three different types of cat sounds: murmurs like purrs and trilling, meows, and defensive sounds such as growling and snarling. The book provides a look at what each sound means by looking at when it is used by real cats.

If you love and own cats, the Secret Language of Cats verifies what you already thought your cat was saying. It is a good weapon against a spouse or friend that doubts your interpretation of your cat’s sounds.

The book would be a perfect gift for the cat fancier in your life. Though the phonetic symbols were somewhat confusing, the author provided a website, meowsic.info, that has videos of the author’s cats making the sounds. It is fun to see if the interpretations in the book match what you see with your own furry children. 3 stars.

Thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

A Shot in the Dark
November 9th, 2018 by diane92345

A very British parody of post-WWII police procedurals. A Shot in the Dark will either tickle your funny bone or it won’t. It helps if you are a fan of slapstick.

It’s 1951 in Brighton. Inspector Steine is famous for stopping all organized crime in the area by allowing the two mobs to kill each other four years earlier. Therefore, he thinks the current rash of home burglaries are done by young independent thieves. He sends the newly arrived Constable Twitten to investigate. At the same time, the bumbling Steine and Twitten are trying to solve the murder of a theater critic shot in the head while seating next to said Constable.

The author is famous for her grammar book Eat, Shoots and Leaves. It shows in the meticulous word choices made within A Shot in the Dark. In addition, she introduced the characters in a BBC Radio program. That format would seem a better setting for this wacky farce showcasing the incompetence of the police and the shortcomings of post-Golden Age police procedurals.

A Shot in the Dark is a parody of my favorite type of mysteries. It’s rather a vicious parody too. I just didn’t find it funny. However, if you lived in England in the mid-20th century, perhaps you will. 2 stars from me.

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

Posted in Humor, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Solace Island
November 9th, 2018 by diane92345

Solace Island is where Maggie and Luke go to get over their broken hearts in this cute romance.

Maggie is unceremoniously dumped by her fiance of five years the night of her bachelorette party. She gives him two weeks to buy her out of their business and leaves town. Maggie goes to Solace Island, off the Washington Coast, with her older sister, Eve. There she meets the enigmatic Luke, who also has his a broken romance in his past.

Solace Island is a good romance with a bit of a mystery. I recommend it to romance fans. However, the mystery seemed like an afterthought so I can’t recommend it to mystery fans. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Berkley, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance 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:

Wild Justice
November 7th, 2018 by diane92345

Escorting the body of the first federal judge in Montana home for burial in Delaware, Deputy US Marshal Page Murdock runs into some Wild Justice.

It’s 1896, and the country is changing. With his job as a Deputy Marshal certainly over, the long train ride gives Page time to reflect and reminiscence about his time in Montana.

Wild Justice is a beautiful historical Western. Not much action until close to the end. However, the stories are so good, you won’t care. This book is recommended to historical fiction fans of all ages. 4 stars!

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

Posted in Historical Fiction 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:

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: , ,