Thursday, May 31, 2012

Murderous May wrap up

May was Murder and Mayhem Month over on my LibraryThing group. I didn't do too badly, managing to complete 11. Three were set in Maine -- lots of fun! Three were part of the Dr. Siri Paiboun series by Colin Cotterill, and three others were part of the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri. The newest one "Beneath the Shadows" by Sara Foster was a definite winner and I'll have a review posted on that one by the end of the's due for publication on June 4th. Then there was the fantasy/mystery "Miss Peregrine's Home...." that was very different from the rest. Here's my complete list for the month.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Nail Biter by Sarah Graves
Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney
Matinicus, An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott
Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
Love Songs from a shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill
The Potter's Field by Andrea Camilleri
Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri
 Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

And TA DAH!!!!  Last by not least, I just finished the very best -- an ARC of Louise Penny's newest "The Beautiful Mystery".  It is definitely a beautiful book, an extraordinary mystery.  I think it's her best yet, and I'll be doing a full review in the next 10 days.  It was a fabulous way to close out Murder and Mayhem May.

Now lest you worry that I won't be giving you anymore hints about good mysteries, here's what's in store on my reading list for June:
Charles Todd's newest Bess Crawford mystery "An Unmarked Grave" is being featured here June 18th for the TLC blog tour.
Jacqueline Winspear's latest Maisie Dobbs mystery "Elegy for Eddie"  is waiting not too patiently.
Maggie Sefton's "Deadly Politics" is in the Net Galley queue.

That certainly should get me started.  I love mysteries, so be sure to stay tuned for even more.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mailbox Monday - May 28th

Only one in the mailbox this week, but I've been waiting for this one. Last year I read the first three of the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd and found they were a perfect addition to my World War I reading. So when TLC tours asked if I'd like to read and review this one for their upcoming blog tour, I didn't have to be asked twice. Look for my review on June 18th, and if you haven't read the earlier ones in the series, what are you waiting for?  Here are my reviews of the previous ones to whet your whistle:

 A Duty to the Dead - the first in the series.  I just realized that I never posted a review here on the blog.  My review was posted on Library Thing.

An Impartial Witness the review posted here last fall.

And the third one, A Bitter Truth,  I listened to as an audio and loved it, but again, I didn't post a review.  You'll get one later this week....

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house recently, but here's a warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Created by Marcia at The Printed Page, Mailbox Monday, now has its own blog. Hosting duties are rotated every month. This month the host blog is Martha at Martha's Bookshelf.  If you haven't dropped by to visit her, be sure to pop in and let us all know what's in your mailbox this week.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend Cooking -Digital Cookbooks - SAVEUR Easy Italian

Now here's something I never thought I'd be touting....a digital cookbook. IF (and it's still a big IF) you have an iPphone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you can have this one at your fingertips -- or on your kitchen counter as you cook. No more messy drips all over the pages, but...goodness-- how about messy drips on your screen???  Of course, you can adjust the display size to see the recipe, zoom in on details of the recipe photo, etc.

I subscribed to SAVEUR magazine for several years, and have all my back issues in slipcases in my personal library, but when we moved from Virginia to Maine, I let the subscription lapse because we weren't cooking the more elaborate Italian fare often featured in this publication. My family preferred, and I also favored more simple peasant type foods both for taste, expense and presentation.

I still cook and serve Italian food at least 3 times a week, so when I had a chance to look over this one, even as an e-galley from Net Galley, I decided to test how well it really translates to the e-reader world.  I don't own any of the Apple devices listed above, but I was able to downloaded the ePub format and viewed it through Adobe Digital editions on both my laptop and our Nook Tablet.  It's NOT available for Kindles.

I'll talk about digital formats in a minute but for now let's look at recipes...or should I say let's try to keep the drool off the screen while we click through the recipes.  The table of contents lists 7 starters, 4 soups, 9 pasta dishes, 7 main dishes and 3 sweets, in addition to a list for The Italian Pantry, lists of Italian Red and White Wines, and a Table of Equivalents --all in 96 (or 48?) gorgeous pages!  My ADE and NOOK show it as 48 pages, but the publisher lists it as 96 pages....I think the e-reader registers each double page as one.

I almost didn't get past the first recipe.  My family loves eggplant, and my son-in-law loves caponata style renditions.  I decided to wait to try out the "Sweet and Sour Eggplant Relish" until he comes to visit in a few weeks, but I may have to make some next week so I can test it first.  Combining eggplant, onions, celery, crushed tomatoes, capers, raisins, pine nuts, basil and (are you ready?) finely shredded unsweetened chocolate all in some olive oil and white wine vinegar.....I'm somewhere on my way to heaven just thinking about it.

Then there's "Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms and Spinach", "Baked Clams" (another favorite here in Maine), a "Bread and Tomato Salad"  and we're just through the Starters.  Any of these could easily be a light meal without busting the diet, or the Weight Watcher's points.

The soups are also perfect for light meals - Vegetable Soup - a recipe provided by Lidia Bastianich, Bread and Tomato Soup (my favorite), Minestrone (perfect for chilly Maine foggy evenings) and Escarole Soup - a new concept for me.

The nine pasta recipes could fill my meal planner for the next two weeks....each one is more luscious than the next. Some such as the "Tagliatelle with Bolognese Sauce" are meant to fill your kitchen with a slowly simmering but mouth watering aroma for hours as they slowly meld their flavors into a scrumptious sauce; others such as "Trenette with Pesto, Green Beans and Potatoes" or "Corkscrew Pasta with Almond Pesto" can be tossed together in under an hour.

As for Main Dishes, living here in Maine has definitely made us seafood addicts, so I'd have to nominate the "Swordfish Puttanesca" as a favorite, but "Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Potatoes", and the "Eggplant Parmesan" (done the way I prefer it without breading the eggplant)  are sure to be served in Tutu's kitchen within the month!

As for sweets...SIGH......all three of the recipes are sent from heaven, although I will admit I usually don't go to the trouble of making anything this elaborate at home.  Berries are great, but whipping eggs, making Panna Cotta, or even piping cookies through a pastry bag and arranging 12 pine nuts BY HAND per cookie are way past my patience level.  I'll pick some up at the Italian market!!!  That said, I'm quite proud that my pantry had every single item recommended.

Anyway, I love this cookbook and I even think I don't mind the format.  The publisher has done a remarkable job making the pages readable, and with the ability to enlarge each page on the e-reader, it's well within the realm of possibility to have the tablet on the kitchen counter to view the recipe.  It still isn't my preferred method though.  I'm just too exuberant and messy to want to dare try cooking with an expensive piece of electronic gear within sloshing range.  And with the amount of EVOO around, the oily finger prints on the screen as I swipe to turn the page could really be a negative occurence.  Someday perhaps we'll have drop down monitor screens that will hang from under a cabinet, where I can see the extra large font and read the recipe at eye level while I cook.  And the e-reader format does not allow the cook to make notes, print out a copy to use on the kitchen counter to mark up, etc.  I'm not quite there yet with e-cookbooks, but this one sure is going to be one that I'd be happy to have on my tablet to grab some of those recipes if that were the only way to have it.

The work is a small virtual tour through all the gustatory tastes of Italy from Tuscanny in the north, through the central regions of Rome and Naples, down to the incredibly tasty dishes of Sicily. Guest recipes from some of our favorite Italian cooking personalities add to the appeal. The photography, layout, and clear instructions are worthy of  SAVEUR.  Each and every recipe is presented in gorgeous living color.  You can almost smell the roasting garlic, the fresh basil, the bubbling sauces, and the savory meats.  (Did I mention the drool on the screens?)  If you are a cook who enjoys good Italian food, and you want to test the digital format, this is one book that might convert you.
Note: as far as I can tell, this one is only available through the publisher Weldon Owen. My thanks to the publisher for making this available for review.

Beth Fish Reads sponsors this weekly meme where we foodies can chat about cookbooks, cooking gadgets, recipes, or anything else gustatory. Be sure to stop over there to find other terrific weekend cooking posts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Mailbox - May 21st

Welcome to Monday's Mailbox.  Only two goodies landed in my mailbox this week, but what bonanzas they both were!

I'm having a hard time not starting this is screaming "READ ME NOW"

 Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him—allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in year.   And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts,
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.

Now here's one I'm really excited about.  I won this in a giveaway from Audra at her blog the  Unabridged Chick.  I've read the entire series, so I can't wait to get into this one.
 Maisie Dobbs—psychologist, investigator, and "one of the great fictional heroines, equal parts haunted and haunting" (Parade)—returns in a chilling adventure, the latest chapter in Jacqueline Winspear's bestselling series.
Early April 1933. To the costermongers of Covent Garden—sellers of fruit and vegetables on the streets of London—Eddie Pettit was a gentle soul with a near-magical gift for working with horses. When Eddie is killed in a violent accident, the grieving costers are deeply skeptical about the cause of his death. Who would want to kill Eddie—and why?
Maisie Dobbs' father, Frankie, had been a costermonger, so she had known the men since childhood. She remembers Eddie fondly and is determined to offer her help. But it soon becomes clear that powerful political and financial forces are equally determined to prevent her from learning the truth behind Eddie's death. Plunging into the investigation, Maisie begins her search for answers on the working-class streets of Lambeth where Eddie had lived and where she had grown up. The inquiry quickly leads her to a callous press baron; a has-been politician named Winston Churchill, lingering in the hinterlands of power; and, most surprisingly, to Douglas Partridge, the husband of her dearest friend, Priscilla. As Maisie uncovers lies and manipulation on a national scale, she must decide whether to risk it all to see justice done.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house recently, but here's a warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Created by Marcia at The Printed Page, Mailbox Monday, now has its own blog. Hosting duties are rotated every month. This month the host blog is Martha at Martha's Bookshelf.  If you haven't dropped by to visit her, be sure to pop in and let us all know what's in your mailbox this week.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Cooking -How old are YOUR spices?

Yesterday, I realized we were getting dangerously low on one of our favorite seasonings...McCormicks "Seasoned Pepper". It's a blend of black, red and green pepper with a teensy bit of sugar that is, as far as this household is concerned, the perfect topping to help avoid all the unhealthy salt we used to love to sprinkle so liberally. For the past several months, I have not been able to find it anyplace. There are all sorts of blended this, and mixed up that, but please McCormick's ---for the most part I prefer to add my own spices to get just the right blend for whatever I'm cooking. If I want onion and garlic in something, I'll add it. If I want lemon, I'll squeeze it. If I want mesquite, I'll pinch it in.

Before I say too much else, I have to remind you that I grew up in Baltimore, the home of McCormick's Spices. My girlhood memories include smelling the vanilla and the cinnamon, and whatever else they were brewing that day as it wafted across the city. So I figured I'd check their web page, find out what stores had it, and have one of my relatives pick some up for me. After all, it had to be available from the factory right? WRONG. I found the item, only to read that it had been "discontinued as of January 2012." WHAAAAAA......????? What's with this?

There were copious suggestions for replacements, but none fit the bill. In searching around their webpage however, I did find a fun little section how old are your spices?  

Now Tutu has been collecting spices from all over the world for the past 45 years. When hubster was in the Navy, we moved 19 times in 26 years, and I wasn't about to throw away spices every time we moved (they're so expensive!!!) so I'd mark the name of the place where we were living as I unpacked them, and put them into the spice rack, cabinet or drawer until they acquired passport stamps from five locations. By that time, I'd usually used them up, or figured they were pretty stale, so I'd toss them, and start new at the next port of call.

When I found this little tester though, it made me realize that it's been eight years since we settled here in Maine, and many of these spices date back to Navy days. Bob's been retired now for over 20 years (hard to believe) so it may be time to start culling the spice larder. When we designed this kitchen, we built in spice drawers, pull out shelves, and small hanging spots for spices, extracts and herbs.  They've worked really well, but lately, I seem to be outgrowing them, and we've spilled into a cabinet in the laundry room. I think this will be a good project for the next foggy, rainy day....too bad the tester doesn't have the ability to scan in the bar codes, but then again, many of my jars and bottles pre-date that technology which should be a big hint they've outlasted their usefulness. Anybody want some 35 year old cinnamon sticks from Penang?

Beth Fish Reads sponsors this weekly meme where we foodies can chat about cookbooks, cooking gadgets, recipes, or anything else gustatory. Be sure to stop over there to find other terrific weekend cooking posts.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The view from the deck .... some thoughts on life in Maine

Whether it's high tide or low; clam flats, birds at the feeder, or turkeys on the lawn; dandelions, clouds, rhubarb, blue skies or fog; boats on the river or bi-planes in the skies;  this time of year is perfect for sitting on the deck, watching, hearing, and feeling life ebb and flow. Perfect for renewing energies, reviewing the past winter, dreaming of the coming summer, and letting soft breezes clear the cobwebs. Nature's imagery is so strong you don't even need a book.  (It helps even more if the lawn mower refuses to start and Old Bert has a 2 week backup at his shop to fix it!)
 Enjoy your weekend, I'm certainly enjoying mine!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review - Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin

Here's the story from the book jacket: From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory.
It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel’s, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls’ young teacher and the school’s matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel.
Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even further to her own senior year at the school, WHERE the roots of a tragedy are buried.
Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations–and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.  

My impression:  For some reason, I started this book back in early 2010, and just never finished it.  I can't find anything in my notes to explain why I abandoned it, but I'm glad I tried again.  This is a story that resonated with me.  I went to a private girls school from 9th grade through college, and the fictional  Mt. St. Gabriel's is eerily similar to the real life Mt. St. Agnes I attended.....down to the fact that they are both now closed and most of the nuns who survive are living in retirement facilities.  Fortunately, I don't remember anyone as controlling as Mother Ravenel, Godwin's fictional headmistress, but the adolescent angst, the rivalries and the atmosphere were evocative of the 1950's Catholicism we grew up with.

Godwin's storytelling is enchanting but long.  This is one of those books that could have been so much better if it had more editing.  It rambled, and even with her indicating the speaker and the time frame as she changed points of view, it still was jolting to have to rearrange perspectives so many times.  In doing so, there were parts of the story that seemed to be told repeatedly, and this repetition meant the book ran on for about 50 pages too many.  The characters are extremely well developed, and exquisitely portrayed in the audio by Kimberly Farr who does a masterful job distinguishing between speakers and accents.

With a robust cast of characters, and a sumptuous setting, it's too bad the story line couldn't have been more crisply drawn.  It was a struggle to finish this one the second time around.  I kept saying "Ok, ok, let's get on with it."  One of the characters - Tildy Stratton's mama - carried her emotional baggage so heavily that I wanted to shake her!  Her relationship with the headmistress, while central to the story, was entirely too drawn out and dwelt up.  One of those "get over it" narrations that really dragged the book down in my opinion.  I still enjoyed the story, but I suspect it was more because of the nostalgic walk down memory lane, rather than the emotion  ridden psychological drama it turned out to be.  Even the ending, although true to the title, left me empty.  I don't think this one was up to Godwin's earlier standard, but still worth the read.

Author: Gail Godwin
Publisher-Format: Random House Audio, 18 hr, 35 min
Narrator: Kimberly Farr
Year of publication: 2010
Subject: relfections of life in a private Catholic girls school
Setting: southern US
Genre: fiction
Source: public library

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May Murder and Mayhem: Matinicus An Island Mystery

As I've stated several times before, I don't often have high expectations of self-published books.  HOWEVER, Darcy Scott and the Maine Authors Publishers group really changed my mind with this outstanding whodunnit.  Scott gives us a tightly plotted, expertly populated ghost story set in the present and the past on one of the most renowned but unknown islands of Maine.

The plot is so fantastic that reviewing it is going to be a bit of a tip-toe but I'm going to try to explain why I'm such a cheerleader for this one without giving it away.

First there's the setting:  Matinicus Island is the furthest out of Maine's populated islands with an official population of about 50. It is not someplace one just drops in for an afternoon of sightseeing.  The families who live there are close-knit, often related, and depend almost entirely on lobstering for their income and each other for their survival. There's a single general store, a unisex barber/hair dresser, some satellite dishes, an assortment of unregistered and unlicensed objects that pass for transportation devices, numerous dogs of unknown parentage, no local law enforcement, no doctors or lawyers, (there are two EMTs), and sporadic plane, boat and ferry service (when the fog is lifted) between the island and "America."

Then there are the characters:
  •  A disenchanted teenaged girl (is there another kind?) who is waiting for the mother who abandoned her 10 years ago to return.
  •  The hard working couple who run the island store/restaurant/bar/post office, etc etc, etc.  She doubles as the EMT.
  • A visiting college professor on sabbatical, who is ostensibly counting trees and cataloging orchids, but who in reality is hiding out from his latest disastrous sexual conquest.
  • A raucous assortment of crusty, hard-drinking lobstermen...boat owners, sternmen, and wannabes.
  • A ghost who is haunting the 1799 residence where the college professor is staying.
  • A drop-dead gorgeous widow(?) who arrives in her gazillion $$ yacht with an unquenchable libido, a  propensity for sunbathing au naturale, dancing on pool tables, and whose wealthy husband  has apparently fallen overboard on the way.
These propel an incredible plot:

The college professor finds an old diary in his haunted house detailing the massacre of passengers of a shipwreck off the coast, the love life of the original occupants of the house, and some other details that can't be revealed here without giving you the whole enchilada.

The local lobstermen are in the midst of a "lobster war" - a snarling fight over territorial rights that periodically breaks out in violence as locals try to keep those "from away" out of their perceived private fishing grounds.  Although the State law allows anyone with a license to fish anyplace in Maine waters, the Matinicus population has tended over the years to ignore that little piece of legality and enforces its own brand of island justice to repel the outsiders, who often find their expensive traps have suddenly "gone missing."  At the time of this story, there's a full-scale dust-up a-brewing.

At the same time the professor arrives, all hell seems bent on breaking loose, and dead bodies keep appearing...usually found by said professor.  Is he responsible?  Are they related to the lobster wars?  Is there a serial killer loose on the island?  How come the ghost seems so agitated?

Throw in some good old fashioned Maine foul weather, some very crusty and rough language, some fairly explicit sex scenes, a little pot, a lotta booze, and you've got a rip roaring, page turning tale. 

Then top it off with an absolutely "I never saw that one coming!" ending, and we have here a winner! This is being sold as the first of the Island Mystery series, (and includes the opening pages of the next installment).  I certainly hope Ms Scott can follow through, because it's going to be hard to follow this one!

Author: Darcy Scott
Publisher-Format: Turtle Pond Press, Maine Authors Publishing, trade paperback, 247 pages
Year of publication: 2012
Subject: double murders, ghosts, island justice, lobstering
Setting: Matinicus Island Maine 1829 and 2005
Series: Island Mystery Series #1
Genre: Mystery - amateur sleuth
Source: review copy from publisher

Many thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mailbox Monday - May 14th

Oh ....if you only get one book in your mailbox, and it arrives on your birthday, there is no other book I'd rather get than a signed ARC of Louise Penny's The Beautiful Mystery the next Chief Inspector Gamache Novel.   I won this one in a contest on Louise's newsletter, and am absolutely thrilled to get it.  I can't wait to read it.  Thank you Louise for making it a perfect birthday! A perfect fit for my May Murder and Mayhem reading, although I may not post the review until closer to the pub date of August 28, 2012.  Here's the publisher's blurb:

The brilliant new novel in the New York Times bestselling series by one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time 
 No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”
But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of  prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between. 

Then I got a book that arrived in my Nook Mailbox that was a birthday treat to myself.  Just released this past week,  The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer is the 2nd in the Clifton Chronicles.  I read and reviewed the first one Only Time Will Tell, last year and have been hanging on the cliff since then waiting to see what was going to happen to Harry.  As soon as I finish the Inspector Gamache, this one is next in the queue.  In the meantime, here are some publisher words to whet your interest:

On the heels of the international bestseller Only Time Will Tell, Jeffrey Archer picks up the sweeping story of the Clifton Chronicles….

Only days before Britain declares war on Germany, Harry Clifton, hoping to escape the consequences of long-buried family secrets, and forced to accept that his desire to marry Emma Barrington will never be fulfilled, has joined the Merchant Navy.  But his ship is sunk in the Atlantic by a German U-boat, drowning almost the entire crew.  An American cruise liner, the SS Kansas Star, rescues a handful of sailors, among them Harry and the third officer, an American named Tom Bradshaw.  When Bradshaw dies in the night, Harry seizes on the chance to escape his tangled past and assumes his identity.

But on landing in America, he quickly learns the mistake he has made, when he discovers what is awaiting Bradshaw in New York.  Without any way of proving his true identity, Harry Clifton is now chained to a past that could be far worse than the one he had hoped to escape.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house recently, but here's a warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Created by Marcia at The Printed Page, Mailbox Monday, now has its own blog. Hosting duties are rotated every month. This month the host blog is Martha at Martha's Bookshelf.  If you haven't dropped by to visit her, be sure to pop in and let us all know what's in your mailbox this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day!

To all the mothers
 great grandmothers
 and sisters 
in my family
and yours...

May you have a day full of 
wonderful books.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May Murder & Mayhem: Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney

A Gray Whale Inn Mystery set on the Cranberry Islands off the coast of Maine.   I REALLY liked the setting in this one, and found the characters and the plot engaging.  This is the first in the series and was a weekly freebie a while back for NOOK.   There were several items where I had to suspend belief when reading this one however.

  I have a little problem with anyone who would live on an island in Maine without a backup generator.  With the winds as strong as they are in the Gulf of Maine, power losses are a way of life.   I could tell the author was "from away" because anyone who lives here knows that when you lose power, you do NOT run a hot bubble bath (HELLO HELLO --the well pump requires electricity!!).   And handing candles to your B&B guests and then saying a prayer that they won't burn the old place down!!! There were several other anomalies that just kept the picture from ringing true.

Great mystery story though, with a share of greedy developers, unhappy locals, a summer college student trying to find herself, threatened terns nests, rocky cliffs, secret smuggling caves,   a hint of future romance promised, an intelligent but again way too nosy amateur sleuth, and as has become de rigeur for cozies these days, there is lots of talk about food, and several good recipes. There are several suspects, lots of gore (so some might not call it a cozy), and I was kept guessing right up to the end.  There are three more in the series, and this one leaves several open items that will be fun to follow in future episodes.  In spite of the nit-picky details I mentioned, it does give a beautiful picture of rustic, small-town life on a Maine island.  A particularly pleasant  book for summer reading.

Author: Karen MacInerney
Publisher-Format:  Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD, e-book 208 pages
Year of publication: Pub. Date: 9/1/2010
 Subject: Life on Maine Island, murder, conservation
Setting: Cranberry Island Maine
Series: Gray Whale Inn Mysteries
Genre: cozy mystery - amateur sleuth
Source:  Barnes and Noble - my NOOK

Friday, May 11, 2012

May Murder and Mayhem: Nail Biter by Sarah Graves

An apt title for me.  I am extremely claustrophobic, so reading or listening to stories where there are lots of caves, dark cramped basements, power outages resulting in total darkness, etc., often find ME biting my nails - or at least breaking out into a cold sweat.

Last month, I reviewed Graves' latest book in this series Dead Level.  I mentioned that it had been quite awhile since I'd read one of this series and I thought it had improved quite a bit.  That said, I decided to grab this one which is # 9 of 15 to see if it rose to the same level as #15.

I love the setting, I enjoy the characters, but this one is very uneven.  Jacobia Tiptree (our heroine) is asked by the local sheriff to search for a missing teenager because he doesn't think the State Police are putting enough emphasis on the search and because he has been told by the Staties to butt out.  YEAH RIGHT. The Sheriff assigns the town busy-body to search for a missing/possibly kidnapped child????  For some reason,  "Jake" keeps flashing back to some unspecified but awful situation in her past that has her convinced that the missing girl is in grave danger.  I found this whole part of the plot very contrived, and Jake's anxiety so repetitive that I wanted to abandon the book, or at least skip over her on-going angst, on several different occasions. However, Graves is skillful enough to arouse my curiosity to the point that I had to keep reading to find out the resolution to several different pieces of the story.

It's always difficult to review mysteries without giving away the plot.  I won't reveal the story, but I will tell you there are storms, ghosts, several suspects, natural and man-made disasters galore.  In fact, this one might not qualify as a cozy in many peoples' minds.  There are several sub-plots and enough amateur detecting to keep it interesting.  I just wish it had been tightened up a bit.  The extra helpings of words did insure that anyone who hadn't read one of the earlier books wasn't going to miss anything.  A bit wordy, but still a satisfying read.  As usual, Lindsay Ellison's narration is first class.

Author: Sarah Graves
Publisher-Format: Audio: BBC Audiobooks America, 8 hrs 53 min 
Narrator: Lindsay Ellison
Subject: Murder, home repair, dark secrets from the past
Setting: Eastport Maine
Series: Homicide is Murder Mysteries
Genre: Cozy mystery, amateur sleuth
Source: Public library audio download

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Yellow Crocus

Mattie was never truly mine. That knowledge must have filled me as quickly and surely as the milk from her breasts. Although my family‘owned' her, although she occupied the center of my universe, her deepest affections lay elsewhere. So along with the comfort of her came the fear that I would lose her some day. This is our story...

From the Publisher:
So begins Lisbeth Wainwright's compelling tale of coming-of-age in antebellum Virginia. Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth's childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds. Growing up under the watchful eye of Mattie, the child adopts her surrogate mother's deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring.
Yet Lisbeth has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though the color of the girl's skin cannot protect her from the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parent's expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When the inequality of her two worlds comes to a head during an act of shocking brutality, Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie. This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love and redemption set during one of the darkest
chapters of American history.

My thoughts: 
I was enthralled with this book...The prose is lyrical, the characters could have been stereotypical, but Ibrahim's deft handling of often painful subjects is skillful enough to avoid that pitfall.  The history is solid with an excellent portrayal of the heart-wrenching pain caused by family breakups when slaves were sold.  The scenes of the journey along the Underground Railroad are well drawn to remind us of the bravery of all those involved. The story draws us in, keeps us turning pages, until an ending that we could see coming, but nonetheless waited for. There is some adult material of a sexual nature, but today's mid-teens will be able to handle this one and love it.

Author: Laila Ibrahim
Publisher-Format: Flaming Chalice Press, e-galley , 238 pages
Year of publication: 2012
Subject: slavery, underground railroad
Setting: Virginia, 1850s
Genre: historical fiction
Source: e-galley from publisher via NetGalley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

This is one of the most intense books I've ever read.  I recently participated in a book discussion of this one with a group of about 20 adults, all over the age of 40.  Every single person in the room said "This book made me SO angry."

I joined in the group discussion because it was a book that fit into my reading for War Through the Generations.  Adam Hochschild gives us an unusual perpective of looking not only at the war but at the political and social conflicts that were occuring simultaneously.  He interweaves these themes so that we are able to see the arrogance of those conducting the war, the anguish of those fighting the war, and the frustration of those who want it to stop, or want to abolish the class structure that is seen as one of the major factors in the horrendous and unnecessary loss of life and limb.

Told almost entirely from the perspective of the British, Hochschild explains the history and concepts of Empire, class structure and struggles, and the entirely idiotic insistence of the British military of clinging to the use of calvary in spite of the invention and use of more up to date tactics and weapons being used by the Germans.

Overlaid on this discussion is the story of Britain's conscientious objectors and pacifists, along with a look at the socialist and communist movements in Russia.  The role of women in the anti-war movement is also well-documented.  I was especially appalled at the treatment the "stiff-upper-lip" aristocratic officers and military hierarchy displayed to men who refused to serve because their conscience told them that killing was wrong.  In several instances, these men were conscripted, sent to prison when they refused to serve, and even executed as traitors.  It was at this point I become so angry, I had to put the book down and return to it several days later.

The author highlights several well -known Englishmen, including Bertrand Russell, Sir John French, Winston Churchill, Charlotte Despard, and Rudyard Kipling.  Each had a specific view of the war, its rightness or its total stupidity.  Each of their stories was heart-breaking, infuriating, and so well written that whether or not we agreed with the viewpoint,  we understood it.  What was so anger inducing however, was the recognition of all who were participating in the discussion of how little the world seems to have learned.  We all could see clear and unequivocal correlations to wars that followed.  The parallels between anti-war movements during Vietnam and today's conflicts were all clearly visible, and led us to the conclusion that this is a book that should be required reading for all Americans.

We'll never again watch Downton Abbey with the same starry eyes after seeing how the British class system contributed to so many poor decisions.

Many thanks to the Maine Humanities Council for sponsoring the discussion and making copies of the book available for the participants.

Author: Adam Hochschild
Publisher-Format: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; (May 3, 2011), 495 pages
Subject: World War I, political revolutions in Europe, UK, Russia
Setting: Theatres of World War I
Genre: history
Source: Maine Humanities Council through local public library

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday - May 7th

Just when it looked like the physical mailbox was drying up, the UPS guy started making big tracks through the mud again this past week. Several good ones arrived.

More than You Know by Penny Vincenzi.

In this world of Social Media, I'm often filling out forms, liking pages on Facebook, and opening emails telling me to enter to win a copy.  And....I won!  Many thanks for this great read which I won in a giveaway from Great Thoughts.

A privileged girl from a privileged class, Eliza has a dazzling career in the magazine world of the 1960s. But when she falls deeply in love with Matt, an edgy working-class boy, she gives up her ritzy, fast-paced lifestyle to get married.     
By the end of the decade, however, their marriage has suffered a harrowing breakdown, culminating in divorce and a dramatic courtroom custody battle over their little girl. Also at risk is Eliza's gorgeous family home, a pawn in the game, which she can't bear to give up.     
True to form, Penny Vincenzi introduces a devious cast of characters seemingly plucked from the pages of sixties- and seventies-era magazines, as she deftly maneuvers between the glamorous, moneyed worlds of fashion and advertising, and a heart-wrenching custody battle going on in the courtroom where the social mores of the time are on full display.
I think this one is going to get a guest review from one of my readers at the library.  She's already bugging me for it.

I also received two books from Maine Authors Publishing.  Normally, I'm not too keen on self-published books, but this company appears to be a class act (OK they're right up the road from my hometown) - they even have real live editors to help these authors.  So I've agreed to read and review a few of them.  Besides, one of my 2012 reading goals was to read more Maine authors.  These looked especially inviting.

Beloved Captain: A Nantucket Love Story. by JoAnn Simon
Just in time for summer...
In this novel, Catherine Sternwood retreats from her busy life in California to the Nantucket home she inherited from her grandparents. The 200-year-old house brings her the serenity she craves—and something more. Catherine soon learns she is sharing the house with Lucien Blythe, a wealthy merchant captain who had lived there a century and a half earlier—and had vanished without a trace. Yet here he is, seemingly a man of flesh and blood, turning Catherine's measured world upside down with both fear and attraction. The ghostly love story straddles the Nantucket that Catherine knows and loves and the much older island where Lucien lived and worked.

And Just in time for May Murder and Mayhem reading:
Matinicus: An Island Mystery by Darcy Scott.

 A century-spanning double mystery pitting a renegade fishing community against an unhappy child-bride of the 1820s, a defiant twenty-first-century teen, and a hard-drinking botanist—Dr. Gil Hodges—who escapes to the island of Matinicus to avoid a crazed ex-lover and verify a rumored 22 species of wild orchid only to find himself hounded by the ghost of a child some two-hundred years dead.
If Gil’s hoping for peace and quiet, he’s clearly come to the wrong place. Generations of infighting among loose-knit lobstering clans have left them openly hostile to outsiders. When a beautiful, bed-hopping stranger sails into the harbor, old resentments re-ignite and people begin to die—murders linked, through centuries of violence, to a diary whose secrets threaten to tear the island apart.
 I've not yet been to Matinicus, but that trip is on our bucket list. In the meantime, this mystery seems to have it all....murder, ghosts, lobsters and orchids! Maybe this will give me the incentive to go sooner rather than later.

So, hurry on over to Marcia's place at Monday Mailbox to see what everyone else got this week.  And be sure to leave a link to your mailbox in your comments below.  Happy Reading!

The Virtual Mailbox is overflowing

Last week, when I posted for my normal Mailbox Monday, I mentioned that I was receiving many more books via the Virtual mailbox than through print contributions, so this week, I thought I'd catch up on some of those that I have accepted invitations to review in e-format. My Nook has become an e-mailbox, and it certainly beats going out in the rain to pick up a book!! Here are the highlights that are singing to me.

First up is an e-galley Beneath the Shadows I got through a request on Shelf Awareness.  It fits right in with my May Murder and Mayhem reading.

When Grace’s husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the windswept heath. She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.

SARA FOSTER lives in Western Australia with her husband and young daughter.
Thanks to Minotaur press for the e-galley. 
The setting reached out to me from The House of Serenades by Lina Simone. I'm trying to include reviews of imprints from smaller independent publishers, and this one looks like it will make the cut. 
  In 1910 Genoa, an Italian port city of divided classes and ancient power struggles, the Berillis are wealthy, powerful, and respected—until the day their darkest secrets begin to surface. Once the police intervene and the gossip grapevine is set in motion, the Berillis' demise is unavoidable. But love lives on, and there's a mandolin player in town who is not giving up on the girl of his dreams. Never underestimate the power of music. The House of Serenades is a brilliant portrait of the Italian upper class at the turn of the twentieth century, its habits, and its ways of life. At the same time, the story denounces the abuse and repression of women (sisters, daughters, wives) that was so common in those years.   
Moonleaf Publishing made this one available for review through Net Galley. 

From Knopf Doubleday via Net Galley. Due for publication in mid-June, The World Without You by Joshua Henkin is going to be a good one to kick off summer reading.

 It's July 4th, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday: the family is gathering for a memorial. Leo, the youngest of the four Frankel siblings and an intrepid journalist and adventurer, was killed one year ago while on assignment in Iraq. His parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief, and it's tearing apart their forty-year marriage. Clarissa, the eldest, is struggling at thirty-nine with infertility. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer, is angry about everything. Noelle, a born-again Orthodox Jew (and the last person to see Leo alive), has come in from Israel with her husband and four children and feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe--Leo's widow and mother of their three-year-old son--has arrived from California bearing her own secret. Over the course of three days, the Frankels will contend with sibling rivalries and marital feuds, volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, with the true meaning of family. 

Thanks to Midnight Ink Books for this e-galley.  It's a perfect read for May Murder and Mayhem.
 I've been reading lots of cozies lately, and Leonard Goldberg's thriller Patient One sounds like it will be a good change of pace.

U.S. President John Merrill is hosting Russian President Dimitri Suslev at a glittering state dinner to celebrate a new economic pact. As the after-dinner toasts begin, the two leaders, their wives, and scores of prominent guests become violently ill. Merrill and Suslev, along with the other stricken guests, are rushed to the nearest hospital. As Secret Service agents struggle to secure the hospital and locate Merrill's daughter, the President's personal physician - who's been withholding critical medical information about the Commander-in- Chief - tries desperately to stabilize the President.
In the chaos, Chechen terrorists make their move, breaching the secured area and taking both presidents hostage. Emergency-room physician David Ballineau, a former commando struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, and trauma nurse Carolyn Ross may be the President Merrill's only hope for survival.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

The word "Peculiar" is the key to this one!

Miss Peregrine was named Best Fiction for Young Adults by the
Young Adult Library Services Association and although fantasy and time travel are not what I normally enjoy reading, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

It's a fascinating read, and I can readily understand how young adults (I'd say in 12-15 age range) will just eat this one up.  As an adult, who had to really suspend belief, I found myself almost putting it down several times waiting for something big to happen, but once I got about half-way through I knew I had to finish it to see if there was a realistic ending.  And I won't tell...

The narrator Jacob sets out on a journey to see if some of the wild tales his grandfather told before he died could possibly be true and if they have anything to do with the monsters he keeps "seeing."  He also wants to track down the stories behind a box of old pictures he found in his grandfather's things.  Accompanied by his father, he returns to the scene of his grandfather's mysterious childhood spent in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  He had been told that this was an asylum for children who were sent there during World War II to escape the Nazis.

In his attempts to locate and understand the past, he enters a time "loop" of fantastic dimensions, in which the same day keeps repeating itself, and realizes he must be one of the "peculiars" who are able to travel between the two worlds.  Nuff said.  His adventures are suspenseful and well-written.  The story is made all the better by the inclusion of the over 20 black and white photos helping to illustrate the monsters, and supernatural happenings described.  The enchanced version of the audio book comes with a disc of pdfs showing the picture, so the reader can follow along while listening.  A great way to enjoy the story.  On top of everything, the characters are endearing and once the reader is introduced to them, he or she will have to stay on the ride until it ends.

Jesse Bernstein's narration is outstanding.  He manages to portray a wide panaply of accents, voices, ages, and intent.  I actually did a double work out at the pool one day because I did not want to stop listening, but then I wanted to hurry home so I could go back and view the photos I'd missed!  No matter the format you choose, if fantasy, time travel and well developed characters are for you, so is this book.

Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher-Format: Quirk Books (2011),  Hardcover, 352 pages
 Enhanced audio book with disc of photographs: Books on Tape 9 hr 42 min  
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Subject: time travel
Setting: Wales
Genre: time travel, fantasy, young adult fiction
Source: Public Library download

Friday, May 4, 2012

May is Murder and Mayhem Month

Over on, a sub-group of my buddies in the 75 Books for 2012 Challenge group have decided to specify May as Murder and Mayhem month.  So surprise, surprise, I joined in to that one!  I always have a stack of murder and mysteries sitting here either on the NOOK, in a physical pile, or on my MP3.  Here are some that are candidates for completion.

Oh--- I've a batch I'm itching to read - enough for a year of Mays - I'm going to challenge myself to read ten of them. Every last one of these is already sitting on a shelf or on my Nook or my MP3. I need to clear these out.

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

The Bitter Truth and The Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd - blog tour for TLC scheduled for June 18th
Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
On What Grounds Cleo Coyle
Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy
Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney already finished - review coming this week.
Murder in the Blood by Gene DeWeese
Dare to Die by Carolyn Hart
Dreaming of the Bones Deborah Crombie
Death in a Funhouse Mirror by Kate Flora
The Dogs of Rome by Conor Fitzgerald
Deadly Blessings by Julie Hyzy
The First Patient by Michael Palmer
Saving the Queen by William F. Buckley
Capital Offense: 8 by Barbara Mikulski
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews
Think of a Number by John Vernon
The Trail of the Wild Rose by Anthony Eglin
Three Day Town by Margaret Maron

I thought about showing all the covers, but my blogger platform is being very twitchy tonight, so I'll post them as I complete the books and post reviews.

Do you have a favorite Murder/Mayhem read to suggest? I'm always looking for a good mystery.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Batch of Dr Siri - mini reviews of a Maxi series

Thanks to some of my reading friends on, I've recently discovered Colin Cotterill's fabulous mystery series: Dr. Siri Paiboun Mysteries. Set in Laos in the 1970's, the stories feature an eclectic, engaging set of characters led by Dr. Siri, the 73 year old coroner.  He is coroner by virtue of the fact that he's the only doctor available at the time the appointment needed to be filled.  He works in a woefully understaffed, under-equipped morgue, assisted only by nurse Dtui, and Mr. Deung - a 30 something Downs syndrome lab tech.  Their "guests" are stored in "room no. 1" - an asthmatic old refrigerator that will freeze bodies if they are not monitored constantly. His best friend from his revolutionary youth days, now Comrade Civilai of the Politburo, lunches with him sitting on a log by the Mekong River watching "Crazy Rajib" who rarely wears clothes but who smiles a lot while performing a variety of unmentionable acts.

In addition to a delightful and eclectic assortment of politicians, communists, Hmong natives, aging revolutionaries, Vietnamese "advisers", incompetent bureaucrats, and  a transvestite "auntie" fortune teller, Cotterill adds an element of the supernatural by having Siri channel a 1000 year old Shaman, who is beloved of the locals, and often called upon to help the spirits as they grapple with the Communist regime.  Siri is expected not only to perform autopsies, but to solve mysteries; he rescues damsels in distress, performs exocisms, thwarts a coup, helps a group of Hmong natives escape Communist rebels, delivers babies, and eventually even finds love after decades of widowhood.

All of these adventures frame insightful and enlightening pieces of Laotian history.  Siri's background as a revolutionary, his eventual disenchantment with "the regime" and his now late in life skepticism all combine to give us a robust, irreverant, humane, and  down-right lovable old man who is a protagonist without peer.

The series is reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith's 1st Ladies Detective Agency for its powerful sense of place, but also reminds me of Andrea Camillieri's  Inspector Montalbano in his characterization and cast of characters.  They are absolutely laugh-out-loud funny, endearing, horrifying, quirky, bizarre, and totally captivating.  I can't wait to read the four remaining titles.

A final note:  I listened to these in audio format and found Clive Chafer's narration to be top drawer.  I would never had known that "Siri" is pronounced "silly" for instance.  His ability to give us such an incredible variety of voices and personalities, accents and dialects added so much to my sense of place that is such a large part of the stories.  Whatever your format, you will not be disappointed.  They are definitely going to be on my top of the year list.

The Coroner's Lunch (2005)
Thirty-three Teeth (2006)
Anarchy and Old Dogs (2008)
Curse of the Pogo Stick  (2008) -- all published by Soho Crime.  Audios by Blackstone Audio.

Source: Public library

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Dead Level by Sarah Graves

The blurb: Nobody knows the nuts and bolts of home repair quite like Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree,ex–Wall Streeter turned proud owner of an 1823 Federal-style house in Eastport, Maine. But when a killer with a screw loose sets his sights on Jake, her newest renovation project becomes a dire matter of life and deck.

Driving deep into the woods to her husband’s cottage with her best friend, Ellie White, in tow, Jake knows she has a challenging week ahead of her. Aside from saying goodbye to paved roads and indoor plumbing, Jake bet her husband that she could finish building the cottage porch in only a few days—a lofty goal for even the craftiest home renovator. But as Jake and Ellie set to work,they soon realize that they’re not alone. Someone is watching them . . . and that someone is out for blood.

Recently escaped from prison and having fled into the woods, Dewey Hooper recognizes Jake the instant he sees her. Her testimony got him sent away for murder years ago and here, in the remote wilderness, he can finally exact his revenge. Determined to make payback look like an accident, Dewey hatches a lethal scheme to ensure neither woman returns to Eastport alive.

But Jake and Ellie are tough as nails and not afraid to fend for themselves.With the exit roads flooded and a deranged convict stalking their every move, they’ll have to keep their wits above water to prevent the quaint little cottage from turning into the ultimate death trap.

My Comments: This is #15 in the series but I've only read 3 or 4. Graves has come a long way from the early ones for sure. I read those because they are set in Eastport Maine (one of my favorite spots in the state) and they had pleasant characters with the usual "amateur sleuth inserts herself into police business and saves the day" cozy plot....I really tended to view them as brain candy. This one changed my mind. It's a fully developed, well-plotted, exceptionally well-written page turner. It even has a ghost! 

Besides a good mystery, with strong characters and an interesting plot, the sense of place is really what makes this one special.  The reader can see the cabin, the road, and the wildlife; can soak up the atmosphere of the quiet rustic retreat; can hear the quiet; and can smell the pine trees.  Let's hope Sarah Graves continues to turn out more like this one.

Publisher-Format: Random House/Bantam; e-book ARC
Publication date: May 1, 2012
Subject: escaped prisoner, stalking
Setting: Eastport Maine and environs
Series: Home Repair is Homicide Mystery
Genre: cozy mystery
Source: E-galley from publisher via NetGalley