Monday, August 31, 2015

Focus on Freading: Mysteries in 6th Century Rome

A series that has caught my eye is the mysteries of John the Eunuch. John is chamberlain to Emperor Justinian in 6th century Rome. In a series of ten books—nine of which are available through Freading—John must struggle through political machinations to solve murder after murder. (It is a mystery series, after all.)

Book Cover: One for Sorrow by Mary Reed & Eric Meyer One for Sorrow is set in Byzantium, capitol of the 6th century Roman Empire. There simmers a rich stew of creeds, cultures, and citizens with a sprinkling of cutthroats and crimes. John the Eunuch, Emperor Justinian’s Lord Chamberlain, orders a Christian court while himself observing the rites of Mithra. Thomas, a knight from Britain, Ahasuerus, a soothsayer, and two ladies from Crete stir up events and old memories for John, who must ask how the visitors link to the death of Leukos, Keeper of the Plate. An Egyptian brothel keeper and a Christian stylite know more than they are telling…

In due course, John gets his man—and a love scene…

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Summary: 30 August 2015

With the return to work this week, the number of books I completed dropped a little bit. I'm still staying on schedule—barely—to meet my goal of reading 200 books this year. I'm having to push to make this goal and I'm thinking that I'll drop the goal just a little bit in 2016.

Where I've been reading

But, the return to work also meant a return to travel. My week started very early with a 6am flight to St. Louis. I then drove to Columbia, Missouri, where I worked until Thursday evening. Returning to St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, I then flew to Des Moines, Iowa—by way of Chicago. After a morning of business in Des Moines, I flew home to Texas. Hubby met my plane and we had dinner at a favorite restaurant near the DFW airport.

You'd think all of those hours on the airplane would mean a lot of reading getting done, but I found myself dozing from time to time. And dozing meant some re-reading each time I awoke.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (46)

Congratulate me! I've been writing Stacking the Shelves posts for one year now. My first post was on August 30, 2015. That first Stacking the Shelves post featured the first eGalleys I had received from NetGalley.

Although I've now participated in this meme for a year, this is the 46th episode, because there were a couple of weeks where I actually exercised restraint and didn't get any new books. As you can see, there were ONLY a couple of those weeks. This week there are only three new books: two from the library and one for review. I'm sticking with my year-long objective to avoid buying new books.

From the library:

Book Cover: Treachery in Death by J D Robb As I said last week, reading the In Death books is like grabbing a candy bar. They're every bit that good. So although I had plenty of books on hand, as soon as I completed Indulgence in Death, I headed over to the library web site and borrowed Treachery in Death. I am having to sit on my hands to keep from borrowing any more in this series until I read other library books and some of the review books I signed up for.

Book Cover: A Quilter's Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini I selected the Elm Creek Quilts series as one of three that I intended to complete in 2015. A Quilter's Holiday is the 15th book in the series of twenty books. The day after Thanksgiving, while others are beginning their shopping for Christmas, the members of Elm Creek Quilters gather to share a potluck meal made from left-overs and to quilt. Many of the group use this time to start on their own Christmas preparations of gifts and decorations. A highlight of this year's gathering is submitting a single quilt block representative of the thing they are most thankful for.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Progress Reports

For seven days, hundreds of readers join together to share the books they are reading. To chat about reading; to brag about progress; to encourage each other. It's Bout of Books 14. Yes, the 14th Bout of Books read-a-thon began on Monday morning. I first participated in Bout of Books 3.0 in October 2011. I haven't managed to join in every time it's been held, but seeing that there are 60 posts to this blog tagged BoutOfBooks, I can see that I've been involved quite a bit in the nearly five years since I discovered Bout of Books. And, since I just happened to schedule vacation for this week, I'm planning on spending a lot of time relaxing and reading.

Daily Status

Monday, 17 August

I spent almost all of Monday in the car as we drove from Panama City, Florida, to Monroe, Louisiana. I tried to devote all this time to reading, but I found myself dozing off from time to time. I started out reading An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters, the 11th book in the Brother Cadfael Medieval mystery series written by Ellis Peters. Finishing this book in the early evening, I turned to the audiobook of The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith. I picked up the recording at chapter 14, but unfortunately fell asleep after listening about 15 minutes. I'll have to plan on listening when I'm not so cozy and warm in the car!

Number of books I've read today: 2
Number of pages I've read today: 158
Total number of pages read: 158
Number of books completed today: 1
Total number of books completed: 1

Focus on Freading: World Travel

Where do you want to travel? The Freading book catalog now contains several hundred guide books from Lonely Planet. These include eBooks across the entire Lonely Planet range including Country guides, Region guides, City guides, Discover country guides, and even the Pocket guides. Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

Book Cover: Lonely Planet Africa Lonely Planet Africa provides up-to-date information on where to go, what to see, and what to do if you're planning a trip to Africa. Or take a virtual trip without leaving your home. In this book you can take a refreshing dip at Victoria Falls, explore the ancient pyramids of Egypt, or take a walking safari in South Luangwa National Park; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Africa and begin your journey now!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Summary: 23 August 2015

Vacation Week plus read-a-thon. What could be a better combination? This week is the 14th Bout of Books read-a-thon. It started on Monday morning and ends at midnight tonight. It's one of my favorite reading events, combining the focus on books and reading with a very social atmosphere.

Where I've been reading

In the early part of the week, hubby and I were winding our way home from Florida. We spent Sunday visiting with dear friends in Panama City, then headed out on Monday morning. We broke the trip up into two days, giving us the opportunity to sleep in (just a bit) before getting a wonderful freshly-cooked breakfast to start off the day. I read and read while hubby was responsible for driving. Well, I slept some, too. The car was cozy and there was no distraction from Internet and e-mail. We had smart phones, of course, but since we took the “back roads” part of the way, we were in areas with very poor cell coverage. That was fine with me—I had BOOKS.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (45)

I didn't have a Stacking the Shelves post last week because I managed to go for seven days without acquiring any new books. But it couldn't last. I have two new library books in hand and although I'm trying very hard to avoid getting more books at NetGalley, I did pick up a couple which were just too appealing.

From the library:

Book Cover: Indulgence in Death by J D Robb There are some books that are just like chocolate bars—so good and a luxurious pleasure. That's the In Death series by Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb. The main character, Eve Dallas, is married to the richest man in the world, yet she continues to go to work every day in the homicide division of the New York police department. She just NEEDS to go after the bad guys and make sure that they pay for the murders that they do. Indulgence in Death is the thirty-first book in the series which goes out to 40 so far with #41 due in September and #42 scheduled for February next year. I plan to read as many of these books as I can get my hands on.

Book Cover: Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña When I went searching for a book to satisfy the category "Diversity" in this year's Eclectic Reader Challenge, I saw a lot of books that appealed to me. Mexican Whiteboy won out, however, when I read the description of a teen who is half Mexican and half Anglo, living in San Diego. He doesn't feel like he fits in with either side of his heritage. He does, however, have an amazingly fast pitch in baseball. If only he had control to match. Can mastering baseball be the key to sorting out who he is and finding a place to fit in?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14: What I'm reading

Good morning. Today is the first day of the 14th Bout of Books Read-a-Thon. I'll be on the highway all day long and taking advantage of being offline. I'll be reading!

I have my Kindle with me, loaded up with lots of books of various genres. I'm starting off with An Excellent Mystery, the 11th episode in the Brother Cadfael mysteries. Then I'm planning on reading Defying Mars, the second book in Cidney Swanson's exciting YA SF series. Beyond that, I haven't made up my mind.

Set in the twelfth century during the war between King Stephen and Empress Maud, Brother Cadfael and the monks of the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury strive to carry on their life of prayer and service. In An Excellent Mystery, two Benedictine monks—refugees from their destroyed monastery in Winchester—retreat to Shropshire seeking a safe haven. While the brothers in Shropshire welcome the displaced monks, Brother Cadfael suspects that something just isn't right. Brother Cadfael must probe through the secrets to the truth underneath.

At the end of Saving Mars, Jess has escaped Earth, carrying food home to her starving world. Now, in Defying Mars, she is tormented by the loss of her beloved brother, Ethan. Although he was able to disable the lasers in orbit around Mars, he was captured on Earth. Jess can only hope that he still lives. Among the Marsians, there's a new fervor to re-open trade with Earth, but Jess fears this would be disastrous.

Review: Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely

Book Cover: Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely
Published August 2015 by Brash Books
Source: eGalley ARC from publisher via NetGalley

The fourth, ground-breaking mystery featuring African-American maid and amateur sleuth Blanche White by Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award winning Author Barbara Neely

Blanche White returns to Farleigh, North Carolina for the summer to help her best friend with her catering business. It’s a homecoming rich with the potential for new romance and fraught with the pain of facing the man who raped her at knife-point years ago but was never prosecuted for the crime. Shortly after Blanche arrives, a young woman is murdered and the clues point to the rapist. Blanche investigates, determined not to let him get away with another crime...nor is she willing to let his money-hungry sister marry a sweet, mentally-challenged man for his wealth. With her usual persistence, feisty wit, and indomitable spirit, her quest for the truth reveals the racism and sexism that still permeate the new south, but also the conflicts that divide her own family...and that might prevent her from accepting the love she so richly deserves.


My Thoughts

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Summary: 16 August 2015

I didn't think about it until just now, but all the books I read this week were library books. Most were eBooks, but one was a hardback edition. I've said this before, but I am so excited that my library offers eBook lending.

Where I've been reading

This past week, I was in Orlando—actually down by Disney World—attending a technical conference. As is usual at conferences, the days were long and the evenings filled with conference-related activities. So I had to squeeze in reading time on the Sunday before everything started and then on Friday and Saturday after it was all over.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bout of Books 14 -- Count me in

Bout of Books I plan to join Bout of Books 14 next week. It starts on Monday morning and goes through the following Sunday—17-23 August. I'm just starting another of our famouse road-trips back to Texas. I've been in Orlando for a technical conference and we'll be drifting home over this next week. I just adore a road trip with lots of time to read.

Bout of Books is a very social event. Kelly and Amanda (the Bout of Books organizers) are fans of Twitter and they hold at least two Twitter chats during each Bout of Books. That's in addition to the twice daily announcements on Twitter. Don't believe me?
Check it out #boutofbooks.

If I've persuaded you to join us, you need to sign up. Just fill out the sign-up linky on the Bout of Books web site. While you're there, grab the image and spread the word, check out the challenges, and add the twitter chats to your calendar.

Never heard of Bout of Books? Well, the team that organizes it describes it this way:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer

Book Cover: Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer
Published July 2015 by 47 North
Source: eGalley ARC from NetGalley

Even when finding oneself engaged in interstellar war, good form must be observed. Our story is set thousands of years after the Terran Exodus, where two powerful, planet-dominating families—the elegant House Jakabitus and the less refined Hahn Empire—have reached a critical point in their generations-long war. Master Hennik, the Hahn ruler’s only son, has been captured, and the disposition of his internment may represent a last and welcome chance for peace.

Enter Wollard, the impeccably distinguished and impossibly correct Master of Formalities for House Jakabitus. When he suggests that Master Hennik be taken in as a ward of the House, certain complications arise. Wollard believes utterly and devotedly in adhering to rules and good etiquette. But how does one inform the ruler of a planet that you are claiming his son as your own—and still create enough goodwill to deescalate an intergalactic war?

My Thoughts

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: X by Sue Grafton

Book Cover: X by Sue Grafton X by Sue Grafton
Published August 2015 by Penguin Putnam
Source: Penguin First to Read

X: The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.

X: The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.

X: The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.

Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.

My Thoughts

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Book Cover: Dodger by Terry Pratchett Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Published September 2012 by HarperCollins
Source: freebie from Summer 2015 SYNC program

A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's...Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl—not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.

Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy's rise in a complex and fascinating world.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Sunday Summary: 9 August 2015

It's simply awful to be sick when you're out of town. This past week I was working in Detroit, and caught a short stomach virus. It sent me to bed for 13 hours. Me! A woman who usually sleeps 5-6 hours each night and is perfectly happy. When I got in from work on Tuesday afternoon, I went straight to bed. I'd like to say that I slept through to the morning, but anyone who has had a stomach virus will know that didn't happen. Fortunately, but Wednesday morning, the tummy was recovered. I was a bit weak and needed to go to bed early each of the next couple of nights, but otherwise I weathered it well.

Where I've been reading

Detroit, the Motor City. It was another one of those week-long business trips, starting with an early-morning flight from Dallas to Detroit on Monday and ending with the return flight on Friday afternoon. I never turned on the TV in the hotel—reading in the evenings after work. And even giving up TV for reading didn't seem to solve the problem of just not finishing as many books as I have set as a weekly goal. That's because the work days were long, I had to spend part of my evening each day working, and I found that I needed to go to sleep earlier than usual.

My return home was simply a turn-around. I had time to do three loads of laundry and then repack my suitcase for two weeks away from home. I flew out to Orlando to attend a conference and then I'll be taking a vacation the week following. Another of the famous “Elsi and hubby road trip” kind of vacation. While I may not find much free time for reading at the conference, I plan to use all the miles between Orlando and my home in Texas absorbing the written word.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (44)

There are a lot of new books at my house this week—more than the last several weeks for sure. It's the final week of the Summer 2015 SYNC audiobook program. SYNC gives away 2 FREE audiobook downloads every week each summer, and I've enjoyed picking them up each week. Now I'm all stocked up for the rest of the year! I also had a reserve on a book at the library and it came in, a friend gave me a book he had finished reading, and I spent a credit at Audible for a new audio book. And, at the last minute, I loaded up my eReader with two more books from the library's Freading book service.

Kindle Lending Library:

Book Cover: A Lost Witch by Debora Geary A Lost Witch by Debora Geary

Once a month, I can pick a book to read from free through the Kindle Lending Library, a benefit offered to Amazon Prime members. I sure wish they were as generous with books as they are with video. Oh well, one a month is better than none a month! To be honest, I was so eager to read it that I opened it up on my flight home on Friday afternoon and I've already finished it.

Hannah Kendrick has spent the last twelve years fighting for her sanity. And the doctor who has stood by her side has run out of options.

A small computer tracking spell will find Hannah—but can Witch Central save her?

This is the seventh and final book in the bestselling A Modern Witch series.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Month in Review: July 2015

In July, I completed 16 books which contained a total of 4945 pages. That took me to a year-so-far total of 113 books and 32,744 pages. With a yearly goal of 200 books and 50,000 pages, I'm still 3 books behind schedule, though I'm 3500 pages ahead.

Now some statistics. Of the 16 books which I read, 12 were electronic books, while only two were conventionally printed books and the remaining two were audio books. I read five fantasy novels, 1 of which was directed to a YA audience and one for Middle Grade readers. There were 2 mainstream novels, five mysteries, two paranormal, and four science fiction books. Two of the SF books were aimed at young adults. Three of the sixteen books were advance reader copies, two from NetGalley and one directly from the author.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Summary: 2 August 2015

Where I've been reading

I was back in my old stomping ground in the Southeast. Work took me to Atlanta for most of the week, so I decided that I would drive there instead of flying. That let me visit friends and family members along the way to-ing and fro-ing. It's roughly 14 hours to drive from my house to Atlanta. Stopping off to see people gave me nice breaks so that I didn't burn out all alone in the car. And, I had audiobooks with me to keep me entertained.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (43)

I thought I was going to get through this week with the only new books being the two free audio books made available through SYNC's program for YA summer reading. The books this week deal with race relations—in particular the time starting in World War II and leading through to the Civil Rights era in the 1960s.

However, I made the mistake of looking at the new books at NetGalley and saw that the fourth Blanche White Mystery is being released. Since I read and reviewed the three earlier books, I went ahead and asked to receive Blanche Passes Go.

For Review:

Book Cover: Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely Blanche Passes Go by Barbara Neely

Blanche White returns to Farleigh, North Carolina for the summer to help her best friend with her catering business. It’s a homecoming rich with the potential for new romance and fraught with the pain of facing the man who raped her at knife-point years ago but was never prosecuted for the crime. Shortly after Blanche arrives, a young woman is murdered and the clues point to the rapist. Blanche investigates, determined not to let him get away with another crime… nor is she willing to let his money-hungry sister marry a sweet, mentally challenged man for his wealth. With her usual persistence, feisty wit, and indomitable spirit, her quest for the truth reveals the racism and sexism that still permeate the new south, but also the conflicts that divide her own family…and that might prevent her from accepting the love she so richly deserves.