Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (24)

I made a promise to myself not to spend any money on books in 2015. (Gift cards don't count!) And I've kept to that plan so far. This week I was away from home and not only did I not buy any books, I also refrained from borrowing any from the library, or taking any new ARCs for review. So, I'll spend a little time talking about some of the freebies I picked up this week. Note—these books may not be free any longer.


Book Cover: The Doppelganger Gambit by Lee Killough The Doppelganger Gambit by Lee Killough. “It looks like straightforward suicide to Detective Janna Brill. Starship outfitter Andy Kellener locked himself in his office after hours and took a fatal drug dose. But Brill’s exasperating new partner Mama Maxwell thinks it’s murder, and his chief suspect is Kellener’s partner Jorge Hazlett. The trouble is, Hazlett has an airtight alibi. ”

Book Cover:Soul and Shadow by Susan Jane McLeod Soul and Shadow by Susan Jane McLeod. “In ancient Egypt, a young priestess of the goddess Hathor is laid to rest in a beautiful tomb with everything she needs for her journey into the afterlife... Three thousand years later, archaeologist Ursula Allingham discovers the mummy of Amisihathor and is confronted by a mystery. Is the man buried with the priestess really her husband? Or was she actually in love with a scribe called Kamenwati and separated from him in life as well as death?”

Book Cover: Riders of the Sidhe by Kenneth C. Flint Riders of the Sidhe by Kenneth C Flint. “Out of the mists the Fomor came to enslave the isle of Eire, a dread race of twisted men ruled by an inhuman lord: Balor of the Evil Eye. But a champion came from out of the sea, a youth called Lugh, seeking his destiny, sent to Eire by the seagod Manannan MacLir to fulfill an ancient prophecy.”

Book Cover: Bones Burnt Black by Stephen Euin Cobb Bones Burnt Black by Stephen Euin Cobb. “A serial killer—brilliant, methodical and suicidal—sabotages a large commercial spacecraft's engines to set it on an eight-day trajectory to burn up in the sun, then remains aboard ship to murder and torment its passengers and crew. With no other ships near enough to reach them, rescue is impossible, and the few survivors fight their unknown enemy while trying to invent a way to survive the growing heat of the sun.”

How about you? Any new books? You're invited to tell us all about it by joining the fun at Stacking the Shelves. According to the reviewers at Tynga's Reviews who host the meme:

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Summary: 22 February 2015

Here I sit in Las Vegas—the famous one in Nevada, not the one in New Mexico. I'll be attending the IBM InterConnect 2015 conference this week. It will be a very busy week, so I won't get much reading done until next weekend.

Where I've been reading

We drove to Las Vegas from our home near Dallas, TX. It's a SERIOUS two-day drive involving early mornings, late nights, and speedy bio breaks along the way. Hubby drove the entire way and I read except for those times I was napping. We had our almost 5-year-old granddaughter with us as we are returning her to her mother's house after a month-long visit with her family in Texas. She's such a good traveler. Nana and Papa will definitely include her in road trips as she gets older and can appreciate visiting historical sites and National Parks.

What I've been reading: Completed this week

Book Cover: Longitude by Dava Sobel Format: audiobook
Source: purchased from Audible
Completed: 17 February


In the 18th century “the longitude problem” was the most significant scientific challenge. Sailors had long been able to accurately calculate their latitude, but as soon as they lost sight of land, they were unable to determine their longitude—often with disastrous consequences. Ships were lost at sea or sometimes run aground, all because the captain had no accurate way to know where they were. For centuries, scientists—particularly astronomers—had been trying to come up with a method of determining longitude by observation of the moon and stars. A lone inventor, John Harrison, took a mechanical approach to the problem. His vision was a clock which would keep accurate time at sea, allowing the navigator to compute longitude as the difference between local noon and noon at a known fixed location.

Longitude tells the story of Harrison and the prejudice he experienced at the hand of the scientific community in England. In 1714, England's Parliament offered £20,000 (equivalent to millions of dollars today) to anyone who could solve the problem. While Harrison's timekeepers passed all the tests established by Parliament, the committee charged with evaluating the applicants and awarding the prize refused to acknowledge Harrison's success. They kept holding out for a “scientific” and astronomical solution rather than a mere “mechanical” one.

This historical account by Dava Sobel is a fascinating look at one man's determination as he strove to be recognized for his invention and the scientific obstructionism he faced. I found it entertaining, enlightening, and educational. Sobel has a talent for taking a historical and scientific accounting and making it read like a novel.

Book Cover: The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters Format: eBook
Source: borrowed from Sanger Public Library via Freading
Completed: 19 February


The 6th chronicle of Brother Cadfael. In the winter of 1139, Brother Cadfael is asked to travel to another monastery to assist in the care of a severely injured monk. Arriving there, he discovers that the monk was escorting a young nun who had last been seen accompanying two young orphans as they fled from a battle at Worcester. Now the teens and the nun are lost and the injured monk is unable to answer any questions about them. Cadfael sends for Deputy Sheriff Hugh Beringar to lead the search for the missing nun and her charges.

From the beginning, you know from the title—The Virgin in the Ice—that one of the young women is dead. The story moves slowly but methodically through the revelation of her identity, and the mystery of what happened to her. I think the Brother Cadfael mysteries just get better and better with each episode. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Book Cover: Jack Staples and the Ring of Time by Mark Batterson & John N Clark Format: eGalley
Source: review ARC from NetGalley
Completed: 19 February


What a lovely fantasy for teens! Jack Staples has been leading an ordinary life when he is thrown into extraordinary circumstances. When mysterious creatures attack his village, Jack discovers that he is no ordinary boy. Jack can see the real world.

Most people can only see a shadow of the world, their vision blinded by invisible scales that cover their eyes. While some people (the Awakened) have had the scales fall away, Jack was born without scales—able to see reality all of his life. In fact, Jack is the “Child of Prophecy” who is destined to battle the Assassin and save the world. Or he is destined to join forces with the Assassin and destroy the world. The Prophecy isn't clear.

This was a fun story filled with interesting characters and non-stop adventure. It simply ended too soon. Yes, the battle was over, but there was no real conclusion. Fortunately, a sequel is due out in March. I'll be reading it soon and reviewing the two books together.

Book Cover: Pony Crazy by Bonnie Bryant Book Cover: The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner Book Cover: Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner With two full days in the car as we drove cross-country and several short novels written for mid-grade readers, I finished a record number of books this week. I'm lumping these three books together just to save some space in this already very LONG blog post.

Pony Crazy is the first book in Bonnie Bryant's Pony Tails series for children. A spin-off of her very popular Saddle Club series for teens, Pony Tails books feature eight-year-old neighbors (and best friends) May and Jasmine, and their new neighbor and friend Corey. They’re totally horse-crazy. When they aren’t taking care of their ponies at home, they’re riding them at Pony Club meetings at Pine Hollow Stables. I enjoyed this introduction to the characters and the setting.

The next two books were the first ones in Gertrude Chandler Warner's classic series, The Boxcar Children. In the first book, The Boxcar Children, we are introduced to the Alden children, two boys and two girls who are orphaned and on their own as they try to avoid being sent to live with a grandfather they've never met. They set up housekeeping in an abandoned boxcar sitting on a rusted rail siding. Eventually they meet their wealthy grandfather and wind up moving into his home.

A year after moving in with their grandfather, the four Alden children spend their summer vacation on a private island. Surprise Island is occupied only by Captain Daniel and his temporary handyman. The youngsters set up housekeeping in a barn, much like the way they had lived in the boxcar. Captain Daniel picks up groceries for them each day and they supplement with fish, clams, and veggies from the garden. It's a grand adventure with only minimal supervision by adults.

What I've been reading: Temporarily abandoned

Book Cover: Hyperion by Dan Simmons I'm didn't finish reading Dan Simmon's Hyperion before the library lending period expired. Not only that, but I'm now at the beginning of a 2.5 week business trip and I do NOT want to take a risk of losing a library book [again], so I've returned it to the library. I'll borrow it again when I'm going to be in town for more than just a weekend and try to finish it then. Unfortunately, I won't get a chance to finish it by the end of the month along with the others in the Flights of Fantasy group at Goodreads where Hyperion is the February SF selection.

What I've been reading: In progress

Book Cover: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow Book Cover: The Dante Connection by Estelle Ryan I'm still reading The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow, a steampunk mystery. I'm not enjoying it as much as I had expected, so I keep setting it aside and picking up another book. Now, this isn't to say that it's a bad book, it's just not living up to my expectations. I think it will become more appealing as I get further into it.

The other book that I'm reading is The Dante Connection by Estelle Ryan. It's the second book in her Genevieve Lennar mystery series and I'm simply racing through it. Dr. Genevieve Lennard is a psychologist and one of the world's most outstanding experts in non-verbal communication. She works as an investigator for a prestigious insurance company in Strasbourg, France. Oh yes, one reason why she became an expert in non-verbal communication is because she relies on facial and postural cues from individuals she interacts due to her autism and extreme literal-mindedness. Life is challenging enough, but now she's being stalked by an international criminal.

This Week on the Blog

I love, love, LOVE a road trip. Lots of time to read with no interruptions and no distraction by the TV and Internet. Of course, lack of Internet access means that I don't get too many things posted to the blog. Check out these posts:

  1. Top Ten Tuesday, 17 February 2015
  2. Recommendations from
  3. Stacking the Shelves (23)


And, as usual, I'm linking up with The Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on the blog, showcase books and things received. Share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (23)

It's a good thing that I snapped up a bunch of library books last week. I'm now in the middle of a 2.5 week long business trip and will be relying on eBooks for the duration. Although I have plenty of books to read for a while—and when do I not?—I still picked up a couple of books this week—mostly review books from NetGalley


Book Cover: How to Catch a Monster by Michael Yu In late January, I tried to borrow a book from the Kindle Lending Library and I discovered that my 7-year-old nephew had borrowed a book through his Kindle. We had cautioned him that he was NOT to buy any books, but I'm sure that when he saw that this book was free, he figured that it would be OK. And, if Amazon would allow a Prime member to borrow more than one book per month, it would be OK with me as well. But, his borrow locked ME out for January.

So, when I connected my Kindle to Amazon to borrow a book in February, I had to return the previously borrowed book. I figured that the kidlings would enjoy having it around and it cost less than $1, so I just clicked the “Buy Now” button. It really is a charming picture book, and it should look amazing on the Kindle Fire.

Library/loaned Books

Book Cover: A Hidden Witch by Debora Geary When I finished reading A Modern Witch at the beginning of this month, I had enjoyed reading it so much that I decided I wanted to read more in the series. (And what's not to like about witches communicating in an online forum and hanging out in chat rooms?) So, I selected the second book, A Hidden Witch, as my borrow this month from the Kindle Lending Library.

The story moves from California to Nova Scotia focusing on Moira, one of the witches we met in the previous book. Moira's granddaughter, Elorie, has never shown any trace of talent with magic, but she's suddenly pulled into the Witches' Chat by the fetching spell. What hidden talents does Elorie have?

For Review

Book Cover: Marked by Sarah Fine Book Cover: Claimed by Sarah Fine Marked and Claimed are the first two books in Sara Fine's Servants of Fate series. Reading the book descriptions, they appear to be fantasy novels or perhaps romantic fantasy. Marked was published in January 2015 and Claimed is due to be released in late March. I'll be reviewing these together in March.

Book Cover: Murder Freshly Baked by Vannetta Chapman I really enjoyed the previous book in Vannetta Chapman's Amish Artisan Village series, so when I saw that Vondervan was offering Murder Freshly Baked through NetGalley, I asked to receive a review copy. I'm thrilled that the request was approved. I'll be reviewing this book close to its June release date.

Book Cover: Jack Staples and the City of Shadows by Mark Batterson & Joel N Clark Jack Staples and the City of Shadows is the second book in a series by Mark Batterson & Joel N. Clark. I read Jack Staples and the Ring of Time in a single day—in the car on Friday. It ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I was delighted to see that the sequel was available for review at NetGalley. I'll review both of these books together as well. (Seems like that's getting to be a habit for me!)

How about you? Any new books? You're invited to tell us all about it by joining the fun at Stacking the Shelves. According to the reviewers at Tynga's Reviews who host the meme:

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recommendations from

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things to do on the web is browse the library's online catalog. Not only is the “regular” catalog available, but my library subscribes to two different eBook services: Freading and Overdrive. Now, most everyone knows all about Overdrive, but discovering Freading is like stumbling across a hidden jewel. You're unlikely to find any recent releases at Freading, but it's just full of excellent books, many of which are backlist titles being released to the eReader market.

The one, glaring, fault at Freading is their catalog itself. I have talked with several people who say they just cannot find anything to read at Freading. Because of the weak search engine, they tend to give up when it comes time to look for a book. So, here are some recommendations for books you can borrow with Freading. (And, as far as I know, they're all available for purchase from your favorite eBook seller.) Unlike most of my posts, the cover images are linked to the Freading catalog rather than to


Book Cover: Bless Me, Father by Neil Boyd Among the new books, the first to catch my attention were the five books in a mystery series headlined by newly ordained Father Neil. Later adapted into a beloved British situation comedy (whose name is based on the first book in the series, Bless Me, Father) these books are a humorous look at Catholicism in the 1950s. Father Neil’s adventures with his parishioners are sure to delight readers of all creeds.

Book Cover: A Father Before Christmas by Neil Boyd Book Cover: Father in a Fix by Neil Boyd Book Cover: Father Under Fire by Neil Boyd Book Cover: Bless Me Again, Father by Neil Boyd


Lovers of epic fantasy may want to check out the Solace trilogy by Anna Steffl. The first book, Seeking Solace, follows Arvana, a faithful follower of the Maker as she leaves her cloistered residence in search of a champion to fight a dragon. She finds two—Prince Chane Lerouge and Captain Degarius. Not only will the champion best the dragon, he will also win her heart. I'm told that there's a hefty dose of romance in with the magic, fantasy, and adventure. Very high ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. Should be good reading.

Book Cover: Seeking Solace by Anna Steffl Book Cover: Solace Shattered by Anna Steffl Book Cover: Solace Arisen by Anna Steffl


Book Cover: The Black Dog Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. I almost overlooked a series of young adult mysteries because of the author's name. The Elery Queen Jr. series (also known as the Djuna series from the name of the main character) consists of eleven titles originally published between 1941 and 1966. Ellery Queen’s young apprentice, Djuna, assisted by his scottie, Champ, are on the spot to crack the case and catch the scoundrels in a series filled with rollicking good fun. Coming'll want to start at the beginning with The Black Dog Mystery.

Book Cover: The Golden Eagle Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr Book Cover: Book Cover: The Green Turtle Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Red Chipmunk Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Brown Fox Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The White Elephant Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Yellow Cat Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Blue Herring Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Purple Bird Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Mystery of the Merry Magician by Ellery Queen, Jr. Book Cover: The Mystery of the Vanished Victim by Ellery Queen, Jr.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 17 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week this group of college aged and twenty somethings provide a prompt so that other book lovers can join in with their own top ten list.

This week's theme is “Ten Book Related Problems I Have”.

  1. I need a really BIG house to hold all my books.
  2. ... because I buy too many books.
  3. ... or I borrow too many from the library at one time.
  4. Having lost two library books while traveling, I have to leave them at home.
  5. I start having “withdrawal” pains when I don't get enough time to read during a day.
  6. I need a big purse so I can carry a book or my Kindle everywhere I go.
  7. Even if I'm not enjoying a book, I feel obliged to finish it.
  8. I'd rather read than sleep, so I stay up too late most nights.
  9. If I start a series in audio, I have to listen to all the other books in the series. Likewise, if I start reading text, I have to continue with text. Fortunately, I don't have a problem mixing eBooks and those printed on paper.
  10. While I usually am reading more than one book at a time, none of them can be in the same genre.

So that's it. Definitely modern world problems, but problems I really don't mind having.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Summary: 15 February 2015

When I returned home from this week's trip, I noticed how much the gasoline prices have gone up. Prices here in Texas are around $2.15 or so per gallon. While that's tremendously lower than the $3.80 prices of last summer, it sure was nice to have gas be well below $2 per gallon for a while. We'll be heading out on a quick road trip this next week, and it's going to cost us a little bit more than we had originally planned. But, we have a new hybrid automobile which means the overall cost will still be much less than the last trip we took.

Where I've been reading

I returned to Toronto this week. It was REALLY cold, so I was lucky that the hotel had underground parking and I was only outside as I walked from the parking lot to the entrance of my customer's building. I didn't see it snowing, but on Wednesday, I had to brush about 6 inches of snow from my car before I could drive back to my hotel. Fortunately, it was soft, fluffy, dry snow and I didn't have to do any scraping at all. And, although there was snow on the car, it was a relatively mild day—very important because I didn't have any gloves! Thursday was a lot colder, so I just stuck my hands into my coat pockets and hurried indoors as quickly as possible.

Also, although it was Friday the 13th, nothing really bad happened. My flight from Toronto to NYC was delayed so late that I would not have been able to make a connection to Dallas and I would have been stuck in New York overnight, so the lovely gate agent at American Airlines reworked my reservation and got me onto a direct flight to Dallas. I had to hang around the Toronto airport for an extra three hours, but that wasn't a terrible inconvenience—after all, I had BOOKS with me.

What I've been reading: Completed this week

Book Cover: Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by M. C. Beaton Format: eBook
Source: borrowed from Sanger Public Library via Freading
Completed: 13 February


Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace is the third of the Poor Relations series that Marion McChesney Gibbons published in the early 1990s under the name Marion Chesney. She has used a number of pen names in her career and is best know for her Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin mystery series. With the re-issue of a number of her books in eBook formats, they have now been identified with the author name of “M. C. Beaton” instead of the original name.

In this episode, the former aristocrats who own and operate the Poor Relations Hotel are again without sufficient funds to keep the business going. With no prospects for increasing their income from honest means, they decide that one of them must visit a wealthy relative and pilfer objects to be sold. When Mrs. Budley draws the short straw, the plan is complicated by the fact that she's been cut off from all her relations. So, they cook up the scheme of sending her to the home of a wealthy but aged and totally dotty Marquess where she'll pretend to be a remote cousin. Unfortunately, when she arrives, she discovers that the Marquess had died and his young nephew has assumed the title.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this series. Although it's listed as a romance, it's so far from the typical romance novel and the characters are simply delightful. Filled with humor and humanity, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Poor Relations series.

Book Cover: Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson Format: audiobook
Source: purchased from Audible
Completed: 13 February


In the second of the Peter novels by Barry and Pearson, Skank has led Captain Nerezza to Molusk Island (aka Neverland) looking for starstuff last seen there. Molly and her father have taken the chest full of starstuff back to England. The mysterious Lord Ombra is annoyed to find the magical substance gone, and reveals his ability to control people by stealing their shadow. When the crew sets sail for London to kidnap Molly and offer her in exchange for the starstuff, Peter overhears the plan and is determined to warn his friend. He and Tinker Bell stow away on the ship. In London, Peter finds Molly and she introduces him to her suitor, George Darling. The three join up to outwit Lord Ombra and keep the starstuff out of the hands of The Others.

I can't praise Peter and the Shadow Thieves—actually ALL of the series—too highly. The story is exciting, the characters are outstanding, and Jim Dale is a magnificent reader of the audio edition. I've already purchased book #3, and I'm eager to start listening to it.

Book Cover: Blanche Among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely Format: eGalley
Source: review copy from NetGalley
Completed: 13 February


Blanche has moved to Boston from North Carolina. School friends of her kids have invited them to spend the summer at a coastal resort in Maine. Blanche joins them there for a couple of weeks, freeing the hosts to take a short “couples” vacation. The resort is a popular location for the rich and elite in the African American community. At the core are the Insiders whose families founded the resort and who own their cabins on the property. Outsiders are transient visitors who stay in the Amber Cove Inn. In addition to this divide, Blanche is confronted with the deep prejudice held by the light-skinned against those with very dark skins.

Just before Blanche arrives, one of the Insiders is killed when her radio falls into her bathtub. The victim was detested by everyone except her husband, and there's a possibility that she was murdered. Blanch joins forces with Mattie to find out exactly what happened and why.

This is the second of the Blanche White mysteries. As I read the first one, I was challenged to think about my attitudes toward persons of color and those who perform essential but menial work. In this second book, the reader is exposed to a form of racism which exists WITHIN the African American community. Interestingly, having just finished reading Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace where the prejudice was based on aristocracy vs those “in trade”, it was really easy to see that the social ranking seems to be a human practice—spanning time, country, and race.

What I've been reading: In progress

Book Cover: Hyperion by Dan Simmons Book Cover: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow I'm making progress in two of the books I started last week. I'm still reading Dan Simmon's award winning Hyperion. It's one of the February group reads selected by the Flights of Fantasy group at Goodreads. And I keep reading the one book loaded onto my cell phone when no other books are at hand. Right now, that book is The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow, a steampunk mystery.

This Week on the Blog

Travel gives me some extra time for reading, but since it keeps me offline, I don't get as many posts uploaded to the blog. Looks like I need to build up a small backlog of posts which can be added to the site when I know I'll be away from the Internet. Check out my review of the first two books in the Blanche White Mysteries.

  1. Take Control of your TBR Pile Challenge
  2. Stacking the Shelves (22)
  3. Review: Blanche White Mysteries


And, as usual, I'm linking up with The Sunday Post, hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on the blog, showcase books and things received. Share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead.