Death on the Sapphire by R. J. Koreto

Death on the SapphireDeath on the Sapphire: A Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery by R.J. Koreto

Enjoyable enough mystery & there’s sufficient promise shown by the author, and with the characters, that I’ll look for the next in the series. (But it’s not so good that I feel the need to go out of my way to tell everyone I know they need to read it immediately.)

Lady Frances is not a fully believable character, both for the time period, and as a pseudo-detective. However, her maid was a more interesting character and was also more believable (still not perfect, but better). I hope there’s more with her in future books!

The mystery is fairly weak, both the premise of it and how it’s resolved. The ending includes an absolutely ridiculous event too (can’t give details as it’s too spoilery) that helps it all wrap up neatly.

All those criticisms and it seems odd that I’m giving it 3 stars, but I did like it well enough for a mostly-fluff fun read. When you’re in the mood for a cozy historical mystery, it might fit the bill for you too. It helps that it’s currently only $1.99 for Kindle or Nook – if you like these sorts of books you may want to grab it before the price increases. Unless you’re a major fan of the genre though, I’d skip this one even at the sale price.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
An extraordinary woman living in extraordinary times, Lady Frances Ffolkes is an Edwardian-era suffragette who has an uncanny ability to attract danger and romance.

When Major Colcombe, a family friend and war veteran, dies under mysterious circumstances, Lady Frances discovers that he was working on a manuscript about South Africa’s bloody Boer War, which reportedly revealed a scandalous mistake that cost the lives of many brave soldiers. Now, it’s up to Frances and her loyal lady’s maid, June Mallow, to track down the missing manuscript and bring the killer to justice. Despite clashes with Scotland Yard and the British Secret Service, Frances never backs down and finds herself in several very unfortunate positions–and one very fortunate love triangle.

Death on the Sapphire is R. J. Koreto’s witty and winsome debut of a series that is sure to be fan favorite for years to come.


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Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits with Gun Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

I discovered this one thanks to the second in the series popping up on all sorts of lists about “top fall releases.” Sure, the second was getting the buzz, but I can’t dive into the series there – I need to start with the first book.

Stewart is a familiar name, writing bestselling nonfiction like The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants.

It’s marketed as a mystery, but it isn’t really. The “family secret” hinted at in the publisher’s description is revealed early, and the other mystery subplot is minimal. If you go into it wanting a mystery you may feel disappointed, but if you expect it to be historical fiction then you won’t feel mislead. As historical fiction it was enjoyable, but my favorite part of it was learning about a previously unknown to me historical event and individual. I’m hoping the second book continues the pattern of fleshing out actual events. I loved how she took the known facts and turned them into an entire story.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, enjoy reading about ground-breaking women from history, or especially enjoy this time period, I’d recommend it. If you don’t enjoy historical fiction, I don’t think this book would convert you.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
A novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.


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Introducing October’s Book Club Selection: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
by Washington Irving

What It’s About

Description from Goodreads:

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a short story by American author Washington Irving that has become a Halloween and horror classic. Set in 1790 in Tarrytown, New York, Ichabod Crane encounters a mysterious figure who carries his head not on his shoulders, but in his saddle.

Why Was This Title Selected

I wanted something tilting towards horror (it is Halloween this month after all), but I’m much too much of a reading wimp to pick a true horror story. In addition, it’s a classic and it’s short enough to help bring down the overall page count for the year.

Anything Else to Know About It?

There are several Audible versions available. I’ve linked one that’s under $1, but there are others as well.

It’s also available on Librivox for a free audio version, and should be widely available in any library. You may find it combined in a collection of other stories by Irving.

We’ve started the discussion about the book, but you’re welcome to join in when you can, and it’s short enough that you should be able to catch up with us.

The title is available in print, for Kindle or Nook, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up in November?

David and GoliathDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell by Malcolm Gladwell

Why did I select it? Gladwell’s books are always thought-provoking, and at a busy time of year an easier read seems like a good fit. It also helps balance the year’s reading schedule with a final nonfiction selection.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: No Way Down
Four years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 4} 84, Charing Cross Road

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Burial Rites (and a linkup)

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent

An amazing book, but one that was much more emotionally wrenching than I expected. It’s based on the true story of the last person executed in Iceland, and Kent does a phenomenal job of bringing the setting to life and presents a plausible scenario for the events.

My only real complaint with the book is that the author’s note doesn’t give as much detail as I’d like as to what the known facts were, and where she expounded. She states that “most” of the historical documents quoted throughout the text were real, but doesn’t clarify which ones were not.

Highly recommended, if you feel up to the emotionally charged nature of it.


Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion of The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving on October 3rd.


If you’ve written a post about Burial Rites, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New On Your Stack (volume 8)
Four years ago: Introducing 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Book Review: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

A Fatal GraceA Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Book number two in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, and I do love the setting for these books. Penny is amazing at bringing the location to life – not only the village which is so appealing, but in this book the time of year almost becomes a character in the story as well. She’s so convincing that I’d look up from reading and feel surprised that there wasn’t snow outside.

If anything, the flaws are that the setting is too perfect – Three Pines seems unbelievably quaint and charming. Even the village curmudgeon is beloved. The murder victim is also an extreme – so hateful, so mean-spirited, so vicious, it’s hard not to root for her killer to get away with it as a kind of public service.

I should probably pace myself with the series, as some of the aspects of the books will likely begin to annoy me if I binge read them. However, I am so curious as to what’s going to happen with a few of them I’m not sure how successful I’ll be at that plan. As I write this post I’m already about a quarter of the way through book #3.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.

No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.

When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Responses to the Reader Survey, part 1
Four years ago: Review: Enough by Will Davis Jr.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend paperbackThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

I wanted to love this book. The premise is fun, and the emphasis on books seems like it be a definite winner.

Except.

The premise and emphasis on books is all that keeps this from turning into a rant about the book, and as it is I can’t believe it’s a best seller. The supposed “charm” of the book felt fake and ridiculous, the characters were so cardboard I had a hard time remembering who they were, and the resolution was contrived and cringe-worthy. There’s also a side-plot that was impossible to believe, and some dangling plot elements that annoyed me to no end. As if that wasn’t enough, it was way too long and drew out what littleaction there was with tons of padding. I like big books, but I don’t want them to be long and boring. This one? Kind of boring.

Often after I finish a book I disliked I find myself perusing Goodreads reviews to see if I’m the only one with those negative opinions. Typically I can find other negative reviews (like this one) that capture the issues I had with the book, which is always satisfying. Yes! It wasn’t just me!

As disappointed as I was in this book, I would keep an eye out for future titles by Bivald – this was a debut and I can hope that the issues I had would improve with more experience. I feel like she’s got the potential there, and this one had potential as well. It just didn’t happen.

Not recommended. Save your reading time.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Book Details

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Author: Katarina Bivald
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 2 Stars


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: The Well of Lost Plots

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book to review by NetGalley (although I actually read a library copy because the NetGalley copy wasn’t cooperating with my Kindle). I was not required to post a positive review (I guess that’s probably pretty obvious though), and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver

Death Wears a MaskDeath Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver

I was reminded of this series thanks to my own “on this date” posts (as found at the bottom of blog posts). Late in July, Weaver’s first book, Murder at the Brightwell, popped up which prompted me to go looking for the next book.

Once again I enjoyed the main character, and was entertained by the book. Although I am not super fond of the whole marriage-situation plot device, it’s not (currently) a deal-breaker as far as continuing to read the series. I have some concerns that it’s going to get really tedious if she doesn’t resolve it in some way, but I’ll read the next one and then decide if I’ll keep going (assuming the series keeps going).

The books are light and although this one isn’t as good as the debut, I’ll try the third, A Most Novel Revenge, after it releases in October. The description leads me to believe the marriage issues that so bugged me in book #2 might not be an issue in book #3 so here’s hoping. 🙂

(A heads-up if you’re interested in trying this series, book #1 is currently only $2.99 for Kindle.)

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Amory Ames is looking forward to a tranquil period of reconnecting with reformed playboy husband Milo after an unexpected reconciliation following the murderous events at the Brightwell Hotel. Amory hopes a quiet stay at their London flat will help mend their dysfunctional relationship. However, she soon finds herself drawn into another investigation when Serena Barrington asks her to look into the disappearance of valuable jewelry snatched at a dinner party.

Unable to say no to an old family friend, Amory agrees to help lay a trap to catch the culprit at a lavish masked ball hosted by the notorious Viscount Dunmore. But when one of the illustrious party guests is murdered, Amory is pulled back into the world of detection, enlisted by old ally Detective Inspector Jones. As she works through the suspect list, she struggles to fend off the advances of the very persistent viscount even as rumors swirl about Milo and a French film star. Once again, Amory and Milo must work together to solve a mystery where nothing is as it seems, set in the heart of 1930s society London.

Death Wears a Mask is the second novel in Ashley Weaver’s witty and stylish Amory and Milo Ames mystery series.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Anniversary Week: A Look Back, a Look Around, and a Look Ahead

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Introducing September’s Book Club Selection: Burial Rites

Burial RitesBurial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent by Hannah Kent

What It’s About

Description from Goodreads:

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Why Was This Title Selected

I love historical fiction that’s inspired by real events. Add to that an unfamiliar time period and location – I’ve been intrigued by this title since I first heard about it. Top it off with stellar reviews (including glowing reviews for the Audible version – apparently the narrator is amazing) and it was an easy pick for the year.

Anything Else to Know About It?

Kent’s debut novel has won multiple awards, including the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier’s People’s Choice Award. It was also nominated for numerous other awards.

We’ve started the discussion about the book, but you’re welcome to join in when you can.

The title is available in print, for Kindle or Nook, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up in October?

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
by Washington Irving

Why did I select it? I wanted something that gave a bit of a nod to Halloween, but I’m too much of a reading wimp to pick a true horror story. And at just over 100 pages, this helps bring down the average page count for the year.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: there are several audible versions available. I’ve linked to the cheapest one – it’s under $1, but there are others as well.


See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago:
Two years ago: Bookworm Problems: Impatiently Waiting for the Next Book in a Series
Three years ago: Series Review: Graceling Realm (Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue)

On Rereading Books: Still Life

Still LifeYears ago I read Louise Penny’s novel, Still Life. It introduced a new mystery series set in Canada.

And I was thoroughly unimpressed with it, and proceeded to ignore future books in the series as they were released.

Except. Friends whose reading tastes I trust kept saying good things about her books (especially on audio). They said that the first wasn’t her best, but that the series improves.

There’s so many things to read, it’s hard to justify rereading a book I didn’t like, in the hopes of it turning into a series I like, but I do trust my reading friends.

Last week I reread Still Life, with the plan being just to get it read to reintroduce myself to the characters, with the expectation of continuing on with the series.

And I don’t know if it was the (very) low expectations I had, or if it was a different stage of reading life, but I really enjoyed it. Now I’m left wondering why I thought so poorly of the book the first time through. This is when it would be helpful if I’d been blogging about my reads all along; all I have is that star rating, with no comments. Was it a mistake – had I meant to type 3 stars and my finger slipped? Was I in a particularly cranky mood when I read it and nothing would have pleased me? It’s a mystery, one that no detective will solve for me.

On the bright side of things, it means I have the entire Penny series to look forward to reading, thank you very much Jessica and Sarah and Janet and Anne.

On the not-so-bright side, what other books or series have I potentially been ruling out because of a bad first experience, when if I tried them again I might think quite differently about them?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces – and this series – with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

Book Details

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Book Review: Poison

Snow Angels by James Thompson

Snow AngelsSnow Angels by James Thompson

Loved the setting, liked the premise and main characters, and the story showed a lot of promise early on. It went off the rails at the end – lots of coincidences and I was all but rolling my eye sat how everything resolved. I’m undecided about reading more in the series – I’m a bit intrigued by Vaara and his wife and their situation, but don’t know if I care enough to give the author another shot. There are just so many other books to read instead…

What really keeps me from recommending them without hesitation, even to crime fiction fans, is the amount of graphic detail Thompson includes. If you’re familiar with Nordic Noir as a subgenre, this won’t surprise you, but I’d hate for you to go into it thinking it’s going to be a gentler mystery than it is. It’s not. Be aware of this if you’re a sensitive reader. I’m not a particularly sensitive reader and I still found myself wincing at times. If you like that subgenre I still think there are stronger options, but perhaps his plotting improves in later books.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
It is called kaamos–two weeks of unrelenting darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls upon Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, just before Christmas. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian alcohol; some sink into depression.

This year, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder. The brutalized body of a beautiful Somali woman has been found in the snow, and Inspector Kari Vaara must find her killer. It will be a challenge in a place where ugly things lurk under frozen surfaces, and silence is a way of life.

Book Details

Title: Snow Angels
Author: James Thompson
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Relentless by Darcy Wiley