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A BEAUTIFUL POISON: A Historic Novel ~Lydia Kang

Friday, August 18th, 2017

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of A BEAUTIFUL POISON for review and it was a curious little story that turned into a very interesting tale about Allene a recently engaged eighteen year old living in New York City with her wealthy father.  The timing is centered on the facts that WWI is still drafting young men into service and a Spanish influenza outbreak has taken a powerful hold on the residents of the city and causing havoc.

At her engagement party a young woman dies, it becomes apparent that the guest was poisoned.  Allene engages the help of her 2 friends, Jasper and Birdie, and also turns up the volume on her old fascination with chemistry.   Yes!  Indeed it was a poisoning.  Jasper finds an apprenticeship with the Coroner’s Office located at Bellevue Hospital.   The history and the skill at sleuthing are finely displayed without the assistance of computers or even telephones!  The doctor’s work is revealed and the hospital’s developing services are proudly shared.

Lydia Kang is a doctor who studied at Bellevue Hospital.  She loves chemistry and answering questions with another question to research; her characters display her deep interests in history, chemistry, and problem- solving.  It is a celebration for a period in history that is maybe unknown to the rest of us and yet unfolds within the confines of this story.  Birdie has a very difficult job, which is killing her with a different poison and the story definitely gives a good lesson in the role of women in this society and the radical differences between the wealthy and the poor.

Good story telling and quite an interesting read.  A BEAUTIFUL POISON is not highly suspenseful because it took a great deal of time for the characters to communicate and for a number of people to be identified as being poisoned.

I recommend this story for the history lesson and the details of society at this post -Golden Era period of time in our history.  A very readable story I believe the teenagers I know would enjoy this slice of history and mystery very much.

About Lydia Kang

Lydia Kang is a physician and author of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine. She completed her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and currently lives in the Midwest, where she continues to practice internal medicine.

Related reading:
The Worthington Wife
Fudge and Jury
The Garden Plot

BETRAYAL AT IGA: A Murder –Suspense Story ~Susan Spann

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

I truly enjoyed this story from cover to cover and it was the perfect beach read while I was away from my computer at home.  I actually did not read any of the promo material that came with the book from TLC Book Tours; nope I just tucked it onto my Kindle and headed out for the beach.   From the cover I thought someone was going to be stabbed with an exotic dagger at a local grocery store.  Wow was I wrong and I have to laugh out loudly at myself.

I was in for quite the treat actually.  It was an history story about a period in Japanese history when there were huge tensions among the clans and someone was trying to take control through clan manipulation and deceit.  The story contained incredible details of this period of time, including descriptions of wall mounted scrolls and the placement of flowers and food.

How did these ancient times find the answers to murders and mysteries?  There were no computers or cells phones and lots of trickery and mythology to weave around.  What a complex and intricate telling of a period of time that teaches us history in a most delightful fashion.

From the Promo Materials – I should have read first! :

“Autumn, 1565: After fleeing Kyoto, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo take refuge with Hiro’s ninja clan in the mountains of Iga province. But when an ambassador from the rival Koga clan is murdered during peace negotiations, Hiro and Father Mateo must find the killer in time to prevent a war between the ninja clans.

“With every suspect a trained assassin, and the evidence incriminating Hiro’s commander, the infamous ninja Hattori Hanzo, but also Hiro’s mother and his former lover, the detectives must struggle to find the truth in a village where deceit is a cultivated art. As tensions rise, the killer strikes again, and Hiro finds himself forced to choose between his family and his honor.”

What a great read and I want to highly recommend it to you but don’t expect to end up at the grocery story, the tea comes with a great deal of ceremony!

“Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses. “ (From TLC website)

Susan Spann Website
Susan Spann Facebook
Susan Spann Twitter

Related reading:
Fog Island Mountain
A Tale For The Time Being
The Worthington Wife

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD: A Novel – #3 of the NATCHEZ BURNING Trilogy ~Greg Iles

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

“Adrenaline-fueled excitement…A very American epic.”  (Washington Post)

“The endgame is at hand for Penn Cage, his family and the enemies working to destroy them in this exhilarating final volume in the epic Natchez Burning trilogy set in modern Natchez, Mississippi – Greg Iles’s bold and ambitious story of blood and honor, violence and revenge that explores how profoundly the sins of the past haunt the present.” (Book cover)

MISSISSIPPI BLOOD is another book I could not put down.  I read it cover to cover in two sittings during a rainy, windy weekend and then took a deep breath.  The writing is intense and does not let up right to the very last couple of pages – there is no relief in the speed in this whole series. One is compelled to find out who killed Viola Turner, the young black nurse who was raped twice by a gang of KKK men and her brother was skinned alive.  Turner has come home to die but someone has sent her off before she could tell her tale and Dr. Cage is being blamed.  Penn Cage, the mayor, is trying to save his father and find the truth as he loses more of the people he loves.

After I reviewed NATCHEZ BURNING, I persuaded 10 friends to read the book.  After I reviewed #2, THE BONE TREE, I persuaded another 10 friends to read book one and then two and wait with me for book #3. There is so much in these stories that I found to be true in my younger years living in the South.  I found that there was an ingrained mythology about events and history that I had no evidence for or could I achieve some foothold in making change.  Such as so many Southern folks did not believe that the Civil War was about Slavery – nope it was about State’s Rights!!!  I found myself teaching a psychology seminar to most of my peers because the psychology that the Professor was expounding was not true or reasonable. This trilogy was about what I believed was going on and actually happening.

It is truly difficult to believe that these things happened when wrapped up in a contemporary suspense story.  It is hard to image that a writer from Natchez, Mississippi could have figured things out and been open to exposing such ideas.  Then again maybe it is the local boy who can render change in his neighborhood with stories better than outsiders.  Just maybe we need him to restructure thoughts about government in general and our last election.  Iles is a master storyteller.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an advanced copy of MISSISSIPPI BLOOD for review – It is definitely 5 Stars.

“Greg Iles spend his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of fifteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, including THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL, which hit number one, NATCHEZ BURNING, and THE BONE TREE.  Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries.  He is a member of the lit-rock group the ROCK BOTTOM Remainders, lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife, and has two children.” (Cover)

Greg Iles Website
Greg Iles Facebook
Greg Iles Twitter

Related:
Natchez Burning
The Bone Tree

THE FIFTH PETAL: A Novel ~Brunonia Barry

Monday, February 20th, 2017

THE FIFTH PETAL takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, 1989, and 2014.  In 1692, a number of women were hung from an oak tree and then their bodies were dumped into a mass grave.   In 1989, 3 young women had their throats cut while they were blessing their ancestors with one survivor and one 4-year-old daughter left.  In 2014, a young ancestor teenager dies at the same spot and the one previous survivor believes she became a Banshee and killed the boy.  The young girl from the 1989 kills is searching for just who she is and returns to Salem in her discovery journey.

The stage has been set for a revealing tale that is nearly impossible to put down.  Lots of secrets emerge through out the story and we travel the sights of the area and hear the poetry that was written about historic events.  We have bootlegging and pirates and smuggling stories that hold the story on a time line while the Police Detective and several current witches assist with solving the puzzle of the deaths.

Oh! And no witches were killed in 1692 though it was widely thought that that was what started it all as the first victims were all declared to be witches.

One would be wrong if they thought the story was just about witch trials and victims or if one thought it would turn into a Zombie tale – after all the new killer struck on Halloween.    The story is also about the history of the area and the Puritan standards being promoted.  The prejudicial thoughts of the tiny rules being imposed and which underline current understandings.  It is also a story about politics and mystery and even a bit of magic.  There are some thrilling moments and some amazing disguises being promoted, for the tourists and to keep the town sharing their bad feelings and perpetuating the myths.

The story too is about the mental health of the survivor and her beliefs, and a great deal about Domestic Violence and how women were cared for, hidden, and found new lives free from the violence they had experienced.  What violence is happening to women today in small towns of rumor, gossip, and old stories?  How do we change those perceptions and change the story.

TLC Book Tours  sent me an uncorrected proof for review and I was delighted to have the opportunity to read THE FIFTH PETAL

The writing was very good and captivating.  It had good police drama, investigation and resolution.  Having the focus on the women of the city and their actions and thoughts was quite wonderful and the counselor was very good at her role in the story. How does one find themselves when they have been disappeared to protect them from the “bad vibes” of a city that is suspicious of you at age four?  How in a city (a country) that distrusts women?

About the Author:

“Brunonia Barry is the New York Times and international best selling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strnad Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction and Amazon’s Best of the Month. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times and The Washington Post. Brunonia co-chairs the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband Gary Ward and their dog, Angel. Her new novel, The Fifth Petal will be released in January 2017.”

Brunonia Berry Twitter
Brunonia Berry Facebook
Brunonia Berry Web

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Sing Them Home