TUESDAY TEASER

The Purple Booker thought up a popular meme, the Tuesday Teaser. In it one is asked to turn to wherever she is reading in a current book and copy two or so sentences in order to “tease” someone into reading the book.

My Tuesday Teaser for today is from Rick Riordan’s The Devil Went Down to Austin. I am currently on page 219. Detective Lopez is talking to the murder suspect’s brother, Tres Navarro, a private eye. The local police are looking for the body of a woman whose boat has been found drifting.

“I’ll see you later,” Lopez told me. “Go teach your class.” (Tres teaches a history class at UT in Austin to get his mind off the seamier side of PI life.)

“He met my eyes, and just for that moment I saw the anger behind his smile–the offense I’d done him by digging too deep…He was giving me fair warning.”

RELEASE DAY: HIDING CRACKED GLASS by Jay Cudney

Book 2 in Perceptions of Glass series

I could hardly wait for the sequel to Jay’s book, Watching Glass Shatter. I had followed the dysfunctional Glass family wondering about a strange letter the father had left behind. The new book, Hiding Cracked Glass also revolves around a letter, a threatening, blackmail letter. Unfortunately, the adresse’s name is blurred, so we are not sure whom the threat is toward. Olivia, the matriarch of the family, both my favorite and least favorite character in this series assumes the threat is made towards her; but is it? It could be made toward any member of the family, for this is a family that keeps secrets.

The letter’s arrival happens right in the “middle of things,” where and when Cudney’s catastrophes usually occur–right at the worst possible moment. In the next eight hours, all hell breaks loose, complete with misassumptions and miscommunications galore. A few new characters are added to the mix of Olivia and her five sons. Cudney’s strongest skill is his outstanding characterization, something I use as a criteria for every novel I read, and Jay earns an A+ in this area for sure. What a page turner!

Jay is offering a giveaway with this publication. See his blog, This Is My Truth Now for details. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/eSee1a9220/?

The hardback, paperback, and Kindle versions are available today! Get your copy now and get reading!

TUESDAY TEASER

This meme encourages the reader to take a random few lines from where he/she is reading or will read and quote them in hopes of teasing other readers into reading the same book. It is hosted by the Purple Booker and has a huge following. (When posting your teaser, be sure to mention the title and author of the book; no spoilers, please).

I have selected “The Quiet Child” by John Burley as my letter “Q” book for the Alphabet Challenge.  Here is a brief teaser from the novel.

“Sean emerged from the aisle with two cartons of ice cream in hand, the coffee and sugar balanced on top. He set them down on the counter and walked over to the rack of comics in the shop’s entryway. A dying glimmer of sunlight spilled through the door’s window, illuminating the back of the boy’s head, a hint of scalp visible beneath the dusky blonde crew cut, the tan neck bent slightly to study the illustrated covers.” Sean was the son allowed to go into the store with his father. Danny, Sean’s brother is the quiet child who was told, “…I want you to stay here [in the car]…There was no dissent from Danny–Would there ever be”?

I am not sure about what the book entails, but I suspect the quiet child is autistic, and I am very interested in autism because of contact with autistic children and young men and women over fifty years of teaching where autistic pupils were mainstreamed (or undiagnosed) with other children/young adults. In this novel, the idea is stretched into something almost supernatural as the “quiet child” is shunned as one who brings ill fortune and even disease to those around him. Both brothers evidently go missing, and the “consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.”

RAISING LAZARUS by Aidan J. Reid

I “met” Aidan several years ago when his first novel, Pathfinder, was published.  The book was a real page turner about a young man whose friend was in a coma, constantly having nightmares and wasting away. When he learned that it was possible to enter his friend’s dream and help him to wake up, he did so. I was intrigued by lucid dreaming, and even encouraged a psychology student to do her argument research paper on how psychologists are using lucid dreaming for patients suffering from night terrors or even PTSD. The book was full of action and a great read.

Reid’s second book, Sigil, was a mystery that was excellent as well. The main character, a priest in a small village in Ireland discovers an evil so profound that it makes him doubt his faith.

His third novel, Raising Lazarus, is my favorite so far.

Summary: Molly Walker, granddaughter of Roy Walker, prison warden at Lockworth Correctional Facility, needs a criminology grad school thesis, and asks her grandfather to let her interview an “interesting” prisoner to use as a base. A handsome,  prisoner with a Middle Eastern appearance and only one name,” Lazarus”, arrested for prostitution, becomes her “project.” When he is paroled, they become involved, and the nail-biting, action scene near the end includes actual people, events and facts from the story’s time that make the reader feel the story could have happened.

Is he the Lazarus? This pivotal question of the novel explores the “dark underbelly of the city” as Lazarus’s story unfurls. Is the “gift” of being raised from the dead a blessing or a curse?

Sometimes the story jumps back and forth in time, but after about the fourth chapter, the narrative is straightforward and easy to follow.

I highly recommend Raising Lazarus as a “thinking reader’s” novel which will cause you to hold your breath until the very end.  5 out of 5 stars.   * * * * *

TUESDAY TEASER

Tuesday Teaser is a meme begun by The Purple Booker and one I was introduced to on Brainfluff. The idea is to copy a few sentences from where you left off reading, or at random, so others might be teased to read the same book. Put your blog address if  you have one and post your Teaser. OR place your Teaser (don’t forget the book title and the author’s name) in the response section.

Today’s teaser is from blogging friend’s James J. Cudney’s third novel, Academic Curveball, from the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Book I.  Killan, the protagonist and narrator, is attending the funeral of a second murder victim who was his father’s assistant at Braxton College. He has just run into his grandmother, unexpectedly:

“What are you doing here, Nana D?” I asked crossing to the entrance of the funeral parlor.

“I had a few stops to make downtown today. Just thought since I was in the area, I should put in an appearance,” she said. Nana D was in her standard funeral outfit–a stylish, vintage dress cut just below the knees with a little bit of white trim on the hem. “I also needed to talk to you about Bridget.” (Nana D’s clarinet student who attends Braxton)

“I couldn’t believe how persistent she’d become about finding ways to bring us together but to be so pushy at a funeral service…”

Nana D has yet another clue to the identity of the murderer, “a scandalous conversation” Bridget overheard, one which might be the missing piece in the jigsaw of clues Killan, a substitute professor for the murdered professor (murder #1)  has been piecing together…

I am 74% through the book, and I have speculated many times on who the murderer is. However the novel has so many twists and turns that as sure I am right as I might be, some new information that makes me unsure again, emerges and turns my “theory” on it’s ear. The characters and plot are engaging, and the touches of humor and “typical” family drama between generations is handled awesomely. There are enough nostalgic memories of college life and college towns, with enough new/younger generation trends to keep all ages interested and wanting to turn the page.  Who will be the murderer? I have many clues to evaluate, but I don’t know. As in all good mysteries, “Something just doesn’t add up.” Cudney will surprise me at the end as he always does.

P.S. Book II of Braxton Campus Mysteries has just been published.

 

First Line Fridays (on Thanksgiving night–Thursday)

I promised the first line of Alice Hoffman’s Nightbird, my Tuesday Teaser choice for Friday’s post:

“You can’t believe EVERYTHING YOU HEAR, not even in Sidwell, Massachusetts, where every person is said to tell the truth and the apples are so sweet people come from as far as New York City during the apple festival. There are rumors that a mysterious creature lives in our town. Some people insist it’s a bird bigger than an eagle; others say it’s a dragon, or an oversized bat that resembles a person.”

Whatever it is, “Twig,” the young protagonist is determined to find out.

MIDNIGHT AT THE BRIGHT IDEAS BOOKSTORE by Matthew Sullivan: A Review

Not quite a “cozy mystery,” but nearly one, this 2017 novel by Sullivan has twists and turns, oddball characters, and is a page-turning, quick, enjoyable read. Lynda, who works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore has a special place in her heart for the “Brook Frogs,” misfits and sometimes homeless men who hang out most days at the bookstore. Joey and Lyle, two strangely-matched friends are her favorites. Near closing time, Lynda goes looking for Joey who hasn’t come by the register yet, and, well, let the author set the scene…

“…The third floor was dim and peaceful…Something squeaked…’Last call, Joey!” She could feel her eyes trying to shut out what she was seeing: Joey, hovering in the air, swinging like a pendulum. A long ratcheted strap was threaded over a ceiling beam and looped around his neck.”  The writing is masterful; the reader is there.

Joey has left two things for Lynda. There is a photo of Linda at her  tenth birthday party in his pocket (which she hides), and she is “willed” a series of books Joey owned, all cut up with razor blades, which reveal a coded message directly to Linda. Why did her friend hang himself? What is her connection to this homeless man?  As Lynda searches for answers, she consults retired police detective Moberg, who all along has suspected Lynda’s recluse father of a horrendous murder to which Lynda was the only witness. For a moment, Lynda suspects her father; for a moment we suspect him. Reconnecting with her father to determine his connection with Joey, she has flashbacks of witnessing from underneath a kitchen cupboard the night her best friend and both her parents were savagely murdered.  Lynda and her father have been estranged for years, and the job at the Bright Ideas bookstore was the safe haven of a woman trying to hide her past as the “Little Lynda” the tabloids and TV broadcasts screamed about until the next sensational tragedy came to pass.

I can’t call this a page-turner because I read it on a Kindle, but I couldn’t swipe quickly enough! It is a fine read, wonderfully written and deserves some kind of award.

A COUPLE OF REALLY GOOD READS

Kiss Her Goodbye by Wendy Corsi Staub, the book I read for “K” in my Alphabet Challenge, has something for everyone: a thriller, crime, mystery, family and marriage relationships, family secrets–you name it, it’s in there. This was a paperback written in 2004 that was turned in to my Little Free Library after a neighbor read it. There is both a prologue and an epilogue, features I always appreciate.

It opens with the approaching birthday of Jen Carmody, the fourteen year old who becomes the focus of mysterious speculations, stalkings, and secrets. Stella, for whom Jen babysits and her husband, Kurt (who is a possible suspect at one point) are having marital difficulties. The family secrets mentioned are revealed and explored which involve Jen’s father, Matt, her mother, Kathleen, and Kathleen’s father who is “confused” and in a nursing home. Her best friend, Erin’s mother, Maeve, is a single mom who is interested in each of the aforementioned men. The story begins in August with the disappearance of a young girl in town, and the story runs October through May. Several murders occur, and I challenge you to follow the clues and determine “who dun it.”

The Baker’s Secret, a 2017 novel by Stephen P. Kierman is set in occupied France in the small village of Vergers. The book hooked me from the very first line: “All through those years of war, the bread tasted of humiliation.” It is spoken by the apprentice baker, a young woman named Emmanuelle, known in the village as Emma, who has secretly been adding straw to the flour for the mandatory loaves she bakes for the German Kommandant daily, so she can give the extra loaves to starving villagers. The story covers the period prior to and during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. The description of what Emma sees on Omaha Beach is vivid and heart wrenching. Her horrendous close calls and brutal beatings are told in a way that makes the reader hold his breath or ache all over his body as he reads.

The story appeals to young adults (junior high and up) and adults as well. At the end, the publisher includes an interesting interview with the author and study questions for discussions. It is the perfect selection for a book club.

TWO RECENT READS–Morningstar:Growing up With Books and Playing with Fire: REVIEWS

The following two books were ones I read purely for escape while waiting for my delayed-by-ice semester to start:

First, Morningstar:Growing Up with Books a 2017 publication by Ann Hood, was a slim volume which needs to be read with one’s TBR list close by. The book might be described as a memoir organized by what the author was reading at various stages of her life. I had read her earlier novel, The Book That Matters Most, and thoroughly enjoyed it, sharing it with friends at my book club, so when I saw it displayed at the library, I checked it out. Hood grew up in a household that “didn’t foster a love of literature but discovered literature anyway. Sometimes lonely as a child she experienced “the companionship of books.” She read eclectically, pouring equally over classics, bestsellers, and books that were “not so nice,” her mother’s description. Because it was so short, it was a quick read and a unique one. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves books and is interested in other people who love them too.

Tess Gerritsen’s 2015 novel is one I found at Half Price Books.  As a fan of the TNT series, Rissoli and Isles, selecting Playing with Fire, was a no-brainer.  The cover alone was enough to capture my interest. Gerritsen employs great skills of characterization, and her plots and sub-plots combine psychological thriller appeal as well as mystery, action, and plenty of twists and turns. Beginning in the US and continuing in Venice, Julia, the protagonist, is soon caught up in espionage and violence, something she never dreamed a concert violinist would experience.  The intertwining stories of the modern-day professional violinist and the Jewish holocaust-era composer provide good reading and good mystery.

The Alphabet Reading Challenge: ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, A Review

Around the next-to-the-last week in January, I took on the challenge of reading a book whose title began with each letter of the alphabet.  I did this as an overlap challenge with my January six book challenge, and have “retired” several of the letters, but not necessarily posted any reviews of the books. Today I want to review Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls. Obviously, it is a mystery, but its uniqueness lies in that it is told backwards. It was published in 2016, and I found it at Half Price Books.

Nicollete Farrell, the protagonist, receives a phone call from her brother, Daniel, saying their father is rapidly declining and asking her to come home. Ten years before, she had left Cooley Ridge, a “town full of liars,” and set out on a new path and had begun a new life. She is satisfied with her current status and her engagement to a prominent attorney.

During her teen years, her best friend, Corrine Prescott, had mysteriously disappeared, and when she returns and runs into her old boyfriend, Tyler, she meets his now-girlfriend, who also mysteriously disappears. All the memories, and all the details of Corrine’s disappearance flood back, as do old feelings for Tyler.

There are many suspects, including Tyler, her brother Daniel, and her confused and sometimes incoherent father, who have been questioned in both disappearances.  Was there foul play or another case of a teen runaway?

The story is told in reverse, “keeping readers on the edge their seats until the last page is turned.” There are too many secrets which are unburied, and the whole mess is complicated by efforts to protect and to be protected from the truth. The author presents the question, “How well can we know other people–and ourselves”?