December 2020 books on my list

A few November books I missed in my list last month plus four December books!

books-on-my-list

I keep a list of all the books I might want to read and add to it as the year goes on. As each month comes along I create a list on my blog for others and for me to keep track of as the months go by.

I don’t buy all these books–since I already have way too many books to read and some of the new books are expensive. I’m trying to stick to a budget!

I hope people reading my post may find some new books to read. I also hope these people will point me toward books I might not know about! The links to the following books will take you to the book on Goodreads.

……………………

I missed several books in my November book list so I’ve added them in this one. And I’ve already purchased three of the November books: A Promised Land, Christmas Island and Take a Look at the Five and Ten.

November 17

A Promised Land

by Barack Obama

Published by Crown

Genre: Memoir

768 pages

Synopsis: A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making—from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

November 30

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower

by Tamsyn Muir

Series: Unknown

Published by Subterranean Press

Genre: Fantasy Novella

200 pages

Synopsis: When the witch built the forty-flight tower, she made very sure to do the whole thing properly. Each flight contains a dreadful monster, ranging from a diamond-scaled dragon to a pack of slavering goblins. Should a prince battle his way to the top, he will be rewarded with a golden sword—and the lovely Princess Floralinda.

But no prince has managed to conquer the first flight yet, let alone get to the fortieth.

In fact, the supply of fresh princes seems to have quite dried up.

And winter is closing in on Floralinda…

Christmas Island

by Natalie Normann

Series: Unknown

Published by One More Chapter

Genre: Romance, Christmas, Norway

340 pages

Synopsis: Cosy up in front of a fire and discover Christmas the Norwegian way…full of romance, cosy traditions and hygge!

In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.

Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.

Take a Look at the Five and Ten

by Connie Willis

Published by Subterranean Press

Genre: Science Fiction, Christmas, novella

120 pages

Synopsis: Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law bocyfriend.

But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past.

December 1

The Outcast Girls

by Alys Clare

Series: World’s End Bureau Victorian Mystery #2

Published by Severn House Publishers

Genre: Historical Mystery

256 pages

Synopsis: London, 1881. Lily Raynor, owner of the World’s End Investigation Bureau, is growing increasingly worried. Work is drying up, finances are tight and she cannot find enough for her sole employee, Felix Wilbraham, to do. So when schoolteacher Georgiana Long arrives, with a worrying tale of runaway pupils, it seems like the answer to her prayers. The case is an interesting one, and what could be less perilous than a trip to a girls’ boarding school, out in the Fens?

Disguised as the new Assistant Matron, Lily joins the Shardlowes School staff, while Felix – suppressing his worries about his cool, calm employer – remains behind. But there are undercurrents at Shardlowes, and the shadowy, powerful men who fund the school’s less fortunate pupils loom larger as Felix’s own investigations unfold. Felix can’t shake off his fear that Lily is in danger – and soon, his premonitions come frighteningly true . . .

Death at a Country Mansion

by Louise R. Innes

Series: Daisy Thorne Mystery #1

Published by Kensington

Genre: Mystery, Cozy

288 pages

Synopsis: No one would ever accuse famous opera star Dame Serena Levanté of lacking a flare for the dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s curtains down on the dysfunctional diva when she’s found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her elegant home. Solving an opera singer’s murder may not be the typical hairdresser’s aria of expertise. But Dame Serena was the mother of Daisy’s best friend Floria, so Daisy must do-or-dye her best to get to the roots of the case.

When a priceless Modigliani painting in the house is reported missing, the mystery gets even more tangled. Even though the gruff but handsome Detective Inspector Paul McGuinness tells the stylist to stay out of his hair, Daisy is determined to make sure the killer faces a stern makeover—behind bars.

December 29

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

by Marie Benedict

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Historial Fiction, Mystery

288 pages

Synopsis: In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story.

Olive Bright, Pigeoneer

by Stephanie Graves

Series: Unknown

Published by Kensington

Genre: Historical Mystery, WWII England, Espionage

304 pages

Synopsis: Set in a charming British village during World War II, Stephanie Graves’ new charming historical mystery introduces Olive Bright, a spirited young pigeon fancier who finds herself at the heart of a baffling murder…

Though war rages across mainland Europe and London is strafed by German aircraft, the little village of Pipley in Hertfordshire bustles along much as it always has. Adrift since her best friend, George, joined the Royal Air Force, twenty-two-year-old Olive Bright fills her days by helping at her father’s veterinary practice and tending to her beloved racing pigeons. Desperate to do her bit, Olive hopes that the National Pigeon Service will enlist Bright Lofts’ expertise, and use their highly trained birds to deliver critical, coded messages for His Majesty’s Forces. The strangers who arrive in Pipley are not from the NPS. Instead, Jameson Aldridge and his associate are tied to a covert British intelligence organization known as Baker Street. If Olive wants her pigeons to help the war effort, she must do so in complete secrecy. Tired of living vicariously through the characters of her beloved Agatha Christie novels, Olive readily agrees. But in the midst of her subterfuge, the village of Pipley is dealing with another mystery. Local busybody Miss Husselbee is found dead outside Olive’s pigeon loft. Is the murder tied to Olive’s new assignment? Or did Miss Husselbee finally succeed in ferreting out a secret shameful enough to kill for? With the gruff, handsome Jameson as an unlikely ally, Olive intends to find out–but homing in on a murderer can be a deadly business…

What December books do you hope to read? What books have I missed?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

Features a forensic archaeologist who is sometimes called in to consult with the police

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

The Lantern Men

by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #12

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publishing date: June 16, 2020

Genre: Mystery

356 pages

Synopsis: Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway changed her life—until a convicted killer tells her that four of his victims were never found, drawing her back to the place she left behind.

Everything has changed for Ruth Galloway. She has a new job, home, and partner, and she is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried—but only if Ruth will do the digging.

………………………….

One of my very favorite mystery series. I love the characters Elly Griffiths has created in this series–especially Ruth and Cathbad. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and the way Ms. Giffiths weaves that into the central part of each book is wonderful. Each character in these books is interesting, but they are also very human which makes these books especially readable. They grow and change during the course of the series. And, of course, the mysteries are great!

Review: Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen

Emma Thompson & a full supporting cast perform a Jane Austen classic

Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen
Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen (Anna Lea, Adaptation Author)

Series: None

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Classic

Setting: Surrey, England

Source: Audible, Sep 2018 member benefit

Note: I received this book for free as an Audible Original Member Benefit. That didn’t influence my review.

Narrator: Emma Thompson with a full supporting cast (see below)

Publishing Date: 1815 (2018 for the Audible version)

Duration: 8 hours, 21 minutes

Synopsis: This Audible Original production of Jane Austen’s Emma is narrated by Emma Thompson (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and BAFTA winner, Love Actually, Harry Potter, Sense and Sensibility), with a full supporting cast including Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar), Morgana Robinson (The Windsors, Walliams & Friend, Morgana Robinson’s the Agency), Aisling Loftus (Mr Selfridge, War & Peace), Joseph Millson (Casino Royale, The Sarah Jane Adventures), Alexa Davies (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) and rising star Isabella Inchbald as our eponymous heroine.

Before she began writing, Jane Austen wrote, ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like’ and thus introduces the handsome, clever, rich – and flawed – Emma Woodhouse. Emma is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage; nothing, however, delights her more than matchmaking her fellow residents of Highbury. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

This lively comedy of manners, with its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, is often seen as Jane Austen’s masterpiece.

Public Domain (P)2018 Audible, Ltd. 

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this presentation of Emma. Each character is voiced by a different actor and they do a great job. I love Emma Thompson as an actor and she is the narrator of this story. She did a wonderful job. I was totally immersed in the story. I haven’t listened to many dramatizations before and want to listen to more now that I’ve listened to this story.

It’s been a long time since I read this book by Jane Austen, but I’ve always remembered it as a favorite of mine. Jane Austen is always a good observer of society while also creating a very enjoyable story. I like that Austen writes about a character who’s not likable whom we end up liking, because she has learned a lot during the course of the book.

Emma

Even though Emma isn’t very likable during much of the book she’s certainly a force to contend with! I like that she grows and matures a lot and is self-aware enough to acknowledge and learn from her mistakes. She has to learn there are consequences to her actions. She learns some harsh lessons, but is a better person for it. She’s not the same person she was when the book began.

Bottom line

I very much recommend this dramatization.

My Rating: A

Dramatization Rating: A

Have you read any books by Jane Austen? What about full cast dramatizations? Do you like them?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Death Comes to the Nursery by Catherine Lloyd

A great mix of romance and historical mystery

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months. So I have a while to wait!

I love finding out about books set to publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

Death Comes to the Nursery

by Catherine Lloyd

Series: Kurland St. Mary Mystery #7

Published by Kensington

Publishing date: January 28, 2020

Genre: Historical Mystery

304 pages

Synopsis: Delighted by the quiet uproar of raising their newborn, Lady Lucy and Major Sir Robert Kurland could not be more pleased at the prospect of welcoming another into their home. But their preparations are soon overshadowed by a baffling case of murder . . .

Once known to all in her village as the rector’s daughter, Lucy is now a mother herself—to a wonderful eighteen-month-old son, Ned. Upon discovering that she is expecting a second child, Lucy and Robert are delighted. In anticipation of the new arrival, Lucy is set on expanding her nursery staff. When Agnes, her current nurse, recommends her cousin, it seems like the perfect solution.

But trouble arrives along with the new nursery maid from London. Polly’s flirtations provoke fisticuffs in the servants’ hall and tumult in the village tavern, and on her afternoon off, she fails to return to the Kurland Estate. When a farmer finds her lifeless body in a drainage ditch, Lucy and Robert fear foul play.

………………………….

I’m a few books behind in this series so I need to read some books soon! The series has a great mix of romance and historical mystery.

Review: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Series: None

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Setting: England

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2009

449 pages

Synopsis: Thirty-nine year old Rachel is having a really bad year. After losing her job and breaking up with her boyfriend, Rachel has inherited her late aunt’s house, her beloved border collie, and a crowded rescue kennel, despite the fact that she knows almost nothing about dogs. Still, considering her limited options, she gamely takes up the challenge of running the kennel. And as Rachel starts finding new homes for the abandoned strays, it turns out that it might not just be the dogs that need rescuing.

Opening sentences:

When February started, Rachel Fielding had a middling-to-glamorous career doing PR for Internet companies, a boyfriend who regularly bought her flowers and dressed better than she did, a cleaner, and a skin-age three years younger than her actual age, which was thirty-nine.

By the second week, however, she had, in one simple maneuver, managed to lose the love of her life, her Chiswick flat and her job.

My thoughts

This is an author whom Barb @ Booker T’s Farm recommended. I grabbed this book when it was on sale and I’m so glad I did. I love it–the rescue dogs, the setting in England and interesting, fun characters (including dogs). I wanted to meet these people and dogs and have them for friends!  The book has Rachel’s POV, but also several other people’s POVs. I enjoyed learning more about these characters and how they interact with Rachel’s world and the dogs’ worlds.

They Call It Puppy Love Challenge

I’m participating in “They Call It Puppy Love” Challenge during February. The challenge is hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm. I was so happy to sign up for this challenge since I’m enjoying reading books about dogs. I’ve saved some books for this challenge so you’ll see me reading lots of dog books this month!

Rachel

Rachel lost her boyfriend, apartment and job all at the same time and is distraught–especially about her ex-boyfriend of ten years. At about the same time she learns she’s the executor of her Aunt Dot’s estate and that she has inherited her aunt’s house, land, border collie and rescue kennel. That’s overwhelming for Rachel along with everything else. She’s never had a dog and knows nothing about dogs let alone a rescue kennel. Rachel’s from London and she’s not a “dog person!” However, Rachel tries to fulfill her obligations. She loved her aunt, but discovers she really didn’t know a lot about her after she moves into the house.

Rachel also finds out the kennel needs to take in some money and can’t survive with just rescue dogs. The vet–George–who is quite gruff and plainspoken tells her the kennels are also meant to have paying customers who board their dogs. Rachel slowly learns more about dogs and about rescue dogs. And about walking dogs and cleaning kennels and feeding dogs. Slowly some of the rescue dogs are given permanent homes. Rachel begins making friends including Natalie who is a marketing pro. Together Natalie and Rachel begin working on plans for the rescue dogs and to make the kennels profitable. I really like that we get  stories of other people in this book, too.

Gem

Gem is a wonderful dog. When I was younger I always wanted a collie especially after I read the Albert Payson Terhune books about his collies. (I read lots of dog books when I was a teenager!) I found a copy of Lad: A Dog–the first book in the series at a used bookstore a few months ago and plan to read it again one of these days. Anyway, Gem was Aunt Dot’s dog and is missing Dot, but he’s a typical intelligent herding dog who helps during dog walks by herding the rescue dogs who don’t know about walking on a leash. He also provides solace to Rachel when Rachel takes him for solitary walks and indulges in her once a day crying. He is just what Rachel needs even if she doesn’t know it.

Romance

There are relationships at various stages of romance in this book. I like that the romances don’t take over the story. I like romances that are part of the daily life people live. I love that Rachel starts out a mess and grows and changes during this book.

Rescue dogs

We meet so many wonderful rescue dogs in this book. We learn about the heartbreak these dogs suffer if they’re abandoned by their owners. It’s especially bad when the dog is just abandoned on a street or out in the country. They sometimes doesn’t survive that. We get to know the quirks and characters of the rescue dogs and meet some of the people who adopt them.

Bottom line

A really good book especially if you like dogs!

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Awards

Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNa’s) Award (2010)

Reading Challenges

  • The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog
  • They Call It Puppy Love Challenge hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm (February challenge)

Review: White Silence by Jodie Taylor

white silence by jodi taylorWhite Silence by Jodie Taylor

Series: Elizabeth Cage #1

Genre: Fantasy, Thriller

Setting: England

Source: Audiobook, purchased (10 hours, 31 minutes)

Narrator: Kate Scarfe

Publishing Date: 2017

325 pages

Synopsis: Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see. But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her. 

What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control. 

When her husband dies, Elizabeth’s world descends into a nightmare. But as she tries to piece her life back together, she discovers that not everything is as it seems. 

Alone in a strange and frightening world, she’s a vulnerable target to forces beyond her control. 

And she knows that she can’t trust anyone… 

My thoughts

Oh, my gosh, this book wasn’t what I was expecting! I knew it was a fantasy and I’ve read some of Jodi Taylor’s time travel series–The Chronicles of St. Mary’s–and I love that series. This new series is quite different. It’s more of a thriller and even ventured into horror territory for me. (I don’t like being scared so keep that in mind!) There were parts of this book that scared me–especially since I was home alone at the time…lol. I hadn’t planned to read any scary books for Halloween, but it happened anyway!

First part is more typical fantasy…the second not so much

The first part of the book is like a typical fantasy. The main character has some sort of magical ability, but she doesn’t know exactly what it is. She learns to hide her ability, but still comes to someone’s attention. By the time this has happened she’s happily married. However, her husband dies and the world she knows comes to an end. This is where the book gets very unpredictable.

Excellent narrator

I listened to the audio version of the book and it’s excellent. The narrator, Kate Scarfe, does a wonderful job. She’s easy to understand and I felt she really understood Elizabeth. I love the colors on the cover of this book, too!

One of my favorites this year

White Silence is one of my favorite books so far this year. I’m not going to say too much more about the book except that even though I was scared during some of dark light by jodi taylorthe book I listened compulsively and finished the 10+ hours of narration in one day. The second book–Dark Light–comes out at the end of this month and I’ve preordered it!

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: A

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read the first book in a series

Books that take place in another country

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week the topic is Books that take place in another country. I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday topic for quite awhile, but this topic inspired me since reading books set in other places is one reason I love to read. When I looked at my reading lists back to 2012 however, I discovered that I don’t read too many books set outside the United States. And the ones I do read are often set in the United Kingdom or Canada. I do have some books I want to read set in other places (Africa, Asia, Europe), but haven’t read them yet. I’ve included one historical fantasy that was set in Russia. The rest are mysteries.

As I finished up this post I see that I had a Top Ten Tuesday post from 2016–Books set outside the U.S. which has some of the same books. However, I didn’t write about those books (and I spent quite a bit of time on this!!) so I’m going to post it…lol.

I have broken out the books which take place in Great Britain into England, Scotland and Wales. In many ways they feel like separate countries! However, I think I wanted to pretend to myself that I have a more diverse reading experience than I do!

Note: All links in my title for the book or series go to Goodreads. In the case of a series the link and photo of the book are for the first book in that series. If I have a link in the part where I write about the book or series the link is to a review on my blog.

India

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

This is a book I’m listening to set in Calcutta, India in 1919. It’s a mystery about an English police officer who comes to Calcutta to join the police force there. India was under British rule at the time so the British are in charge of the government, but there are Indians who are part of the police force. India is shown here with Indians working with the British government as well as Indians who are working for India’s independence. The British are mostly a self-satisfied lot who’ve brought civilization to the savages. I’m really enjoying the book and am nearly finished.

England

The Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths

This series mostly takes place in Norfolk, England. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist and college professor who sometimes consults with the police. I’ve read eight books in this series so far and love them all. The tenth book comes out this spring.

Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie

I read quite a few police procedurals set in England, but probably my favorite police procedural series set in England is the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series set mostly in London though Duncan and Gemma sometimes travel outside of London and at least once I can think of there’s a mystery set in Scotland. I’ve read all the books written so far in this series, have reviewed most of them and love them all.

Scotland

Shetland Island series by Ann Cleeves

This series takes place in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. I read Raven Black quite a while ago, but read White Nights this year. I enjoy this series a lot and have the third book in the series to read soon.

DI Marjory Fleming series by Aline Templeton

This series is set in southwest Scotland near Galloway. DI Marjory Fleming and her team of detectives are very good characters to read about. They don’t always have it easy and her subordinates and superiors don’t always like Marjory, but she’s a very interesting character. My favorite book in the series is the first book–Cold in the Earth. Very good! However, I’m bogged down in the sixth book in the series at the moment. I’m going to finish it soon though and I think I will end up liking it.

Wales

Constable Evans series by Rhys Bowen

This series takes place in Wales which in these books seems like a different country from England. The Welsh characters all speak Welsh–especially when they are around any English visitors! This is quite a lighthearted police procedural series. I’ve read the first two books in the series and am really enjoying them.

Canada

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny

These take place in Quebec, Canada. It certainly feels very foreign to me since the main character is part of the French Canadian part of Canada. Though Chief Inspector Armand Gamache speaks excellent English he is most definitely part of the French Canadian community. I’m really enjoying these books and recently read books 6 and 7–Bury Your Dead and A Trick of the Light.

Constable Molly Smith series by Vicki Delany

These books take place in British Columbia, Canada. I’ve loved all that I’ve read (six of the eight books) and hope Ms. Delany writes some more. The last book was written in 2016 and Ms. Delany is currently writing several other series. I like this series best and do hope she will continue.

Rockton series by Kelley Armstrong (formerly called the Casey Duncan series)

I’ve read the first two books in this series and have the third book to read very soon! This mystery series is very suspenseful. I don’t usually like books which are too suspenseful, but I’ve made an exception for these. They’re set in the wilderness of northern Canada in a village which is “off-the-map”–which helps add to the suspense.

Ireland

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor

Set in a small village in County Cork, Ireland. I really enjoyed this book and have the second book so I need to read it soon!

Russia

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This is a historical fantasy which set in a fantasy Russia. The book is told like a fairy tale and was really enjoyable. The second book in the series came out in January 2018 and I hope to read it this year.

Iceland

Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason

I read this book in 2017. It’s a prequel to the series which is set in Reykjavik, Iceland. Not all the books are translated into English, but a few are and I’m hoping to read more about Inspector Erlendur.

What books do you like which take place in a different country?

 

 

Review: The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis

the-merchants-house-kate-ellisThe Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis

Wesley Peterson #1

E-book, purchased

Setting: Devon, England

Mystery, Police Procedural

Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson’s first day finds him investigating the death of a young woman who may be connected to a kidnapped child. As the suspense builds, a strange parallel emerges between his case and the two skeletons found in the ruins of a 17th century merchant’s house. With stellar characterizations and sharp plotting, readers will find themselves completely swept up in this virtuoso mystery, the ending of which is as satisfying as it is shocking.

……………………

My thoughts

I love finding a new police procedural series! This reminded me a little of some of the Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid series where historical events affect current events in the story. Other than that this book is different from that series. This is the first in the series and was published in 1998. I like that over 20 books have now been published in the series.

Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson and his wife Pam transferred to Devon from London where Wesley will work in CID for the local police and Pam hopes to find a teaching job. They will also be closer to Pam’s mother in Devon.

The book sets up interesting arcs for future books in the series–Wesley’s wife determined to get pregnant and have a child by any means and racial tensions in the police station because of Wesley’s dark skin color. I look forward to future books to see what happens with Wesley and the various characters in the book. I would like to meet Wesley’s family in these books since they are all doctors. I get the feeling they were at least puzzled when Wesley chose the police force!

Wesley is immediately busy when he arrives at the station his first day on the job. A call has come in reporting a suspicious death. This death of a young woman who has had her face disfigured by the murderer makes her identification difficult. Before Wesley arrived in Devon a young child was kidnapped. Every police officer dreads a missing child case and though the case belongs to a different team the entire department knows the details of the case. As the book continues it begins to look as though the two cases may be linked–but are they really?

I also like the fact that Wesley has a degree in archaeology and has a friend in the area who is an archaeologist. That is an important part of this story. It will be interesting to see if Neil, Wesley’s friend, shows up in future books.

I enjoyed this first book. However, I thought the linking of the historical with the present day happenings was a little forced. Since this was the first book in the series that doesn’t bother me too much.

Will I read more books in this series or other books by Kate Ellis?

Yes! I want to read more about Wesley and the other characters in the book.

Have you read any of these books? How do you like the series?

Rating: C+

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Books set outside the U.S.

Top Ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes each week. Check out their blog for more information.

The topic this week: talk about the books we’ve read set outside the United States.

As I looked for books I’ve read set outside the United States I realized most of the books come from just a few countries. Also a number of the books I read are science fiction and fantasy with imaginary settings.

I do have books which take place in other settings. I just haven’t read them yet!

Ireland

Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor

Medieval Ireland, on Viking ships, Iceland

Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale by Donna Jo Napoli

Canada

In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicky Delany

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (French Canada)

Scotland

Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (Shetland Island)

Scotland, Belgium, Russia

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

England

Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie

Alaska Territory (1919)

Borrowed Death by Cathy Pegau

Australia

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst

What books set outside the United States do you recommend?

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

missing-presumed-by-susie-steinerMissing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
Series: Unknown
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Cambridgeshire, England
Published by Random House
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 28)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
368 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been reported missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, and her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family, but for Manon herself.

Suspenseful and keenly observed, Missing, Presumed is a brilliantly twisting novel of how we seek connection, grant forgiveness, and reveal the truth about who we are.

Initial impressions

  • Interesting, but not exactly the book I thought it was going to be. I thought it was more police procedural. Ended up more thriller and psychological.

The story

  • Edith Hind is missing. A small amount of blood is found in her house. Her door is unlocked, cell phone, car and personal items are left behind.
  • When her boyfriend returns from a weekend away and finds her gone, he notifies her parents and the police.
  • A huge search finds no sign of Edith alive or dead.
  • As the hours, days and weeks go by and the police find no real clues to her disappearance the police believe she must be dead.
  • Where is Edith and is she alive or dead?

Pluses

  • I don’t really enjoy thrillers or psychological mysteries which this book is more than it is a police procedural.
  • The book is told in a mix of present and past tense and from many points of view. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw is probably the main character, but we find out about the story from many others, too. At the beginning of each chapter the present tense aspect and switch in point-of-view jarred, but after a couple of paragraphs I got used to it. I think the author shows quite a bit of skill to write the book this way.
  • I found the story suspenseful and quite well-written.
  • It is more character study than mystery.
  • I don’t like Manon very well–which isn’t necessary for a book–though I like to connect with characters.
  • My favorite character is Davy, Manon’s partner. I like the way he views the world and how he see’s Manon. Though he certainly has his blind spots.

Minuses

  • Manon is a mess during much of the book. She’s 39 years old, but she hasn’t learned some of the basics of working in a team in the workplace, let alone as a detective sergeant in the police force. And her personal life is a mess. She does some stupid things both professionally and personally.
  • I thought the end of the book ties up all the strings in this book much too easily. And I’m offended by one of the characters at the end of the book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • This isn’t really the type of mystery I enjoy. I think that’s at least part of the reason I didn’t like the book as much as other readers.
  • I did find parts of it interesting and suspenseful. However, this is not quite my chosen genre.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Susie Steiner grew up in north London and studied English at York University, which is when she first fell in love with north Yorkshire, in particular the north York Moors national park, which was the setting for her first novel, Homecoming. Homecoming was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013.
  • She worked for national papers as a news reporter. She left reporting when her first novel sold.
  • Her second novel, Missing, Presumed, is a bestselling thriller with Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw at its heart. Missing, Presumed is based in Cambridgeshire. She worked closely with Cambridgeshire police during the writing of this and the next Manon book.
  • She lives with her husband and two sons in north London.

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