Monday, May 20, 2013

Jungle Reds Book Club!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It's been a busy couple of weeks for us here at Jungle Red: Deb has been doing appearances for SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS, I've hopped from Maine to New York to California and back, Rhys is in England, Hallie's been off giving keynote speeches, Hank's THE OTHER WOMAN won the Mary Higgins Clark award and was short-listed at Malice Domestic, Jan is face-down in her research, Rosemary's in Florence and Lucy, of course, has launched TOPPED CHEF!


The great thing about travel for me - and I'm going to assume for many of you as well - is that I get some quality reading time. Trains, planes, nights in hotel rooms - ideal for guilt-free, uninterrupted reading. So let's do a Jungle Reds book club today: what have you read lately? What would you like to recommend to the rest of us?

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: (still floating from the MHC...) Yes, that "white space" in travel is so nice for reading..even when you should be writing. I also had the joy of moderating the "best first" panel at the Edgar Symposium, so I read all of the nominees. And wow, they were terrific! So I will highly highly highly recommend DON'T EVER GET OLD by Dan Friedman (a mystery in which the main character is 87--I literally had to stop myself from crying at the end) , Chris Pavone's chic and sophisticated THE EXPATS, Matthew Quirk's page-turner of a DC  thriller THE 500, Kim Fay's sultry and almost-mystical THE MAP OF LOST MEMORIES, Susan Elia MacNeal's clever and evocative MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY, and Michael Sears totally new take on financial crime, BLACK FRIDAYS. Pick your genre, take your pick. ALL fabulous.  Like, intimidatingly fabulous. Oh, and Sara J Henry's A COLD AND LONELY PLACE. Wonderful!

I will not tell you what I read on the plane home from Pittsburgh because it's embarrassing. (NOT 50 Shades, geez.) But I am waiting waiting waiting for Julia's book!!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, let's see, in the last couple of weeks--Erin Hart's THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN, which was wonderful. Some of THE MURDER ROOM by Michael Capuzzo, who was one of my fellow keynote speakers at the DFW Writer's Conference. Fascinating non-fiction. Am hoping to have Michael on Jungle Red soon to tell you about it. Linda Greenlaw's NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL MOTHER, again non-fiction. Our Lucy Burdette's TOPPED CHEF! Fabulous! And now Catriona McPherson's first Dandy Gilver book, AFTER THE ARMISTICE BALL, which I am loving. The state of my TBR pile is either horrifying or wonderful, depending on your point of view!

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm in North Carolina with Lucy, being squired around by Molly Weston to libraries and bookstores. I'm carrying books with me but mostly, I'm happy to say, my main reading matter has been menus! Barbecue (Bar-B-Q here), of course... ribs cooked until they fall off the bone or chopped pork with cider vinegar. Yummy fried chicken. Biscuits (I like the small ones) and cornbread
and black-eyed peas and greens. Trying every version of banana pudding and coconut custard pie I can find. Washed down with "half and half" - sweet mixed with unsweetened tea. And learning to talk slow and southern. I guess I should be rereading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.

JULIA: My stomach is literally growling.
LUCY BURDETTE: Ditto to what Hallie said about reading menus! But we are also traveling with Jennifer McMahon so I read her latest on the way down to NC, called THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND. It's creepy, and twisty, and wonderfully well written. I love hearing about all the little details that feed into an author's book.

As we approached McIntyre's Bookstore in Fearrington 
Village yesterday, I told myself "no more books." I have a teetering TBR pile at home and my suitcase is already too heavy. But then we heard the very funny and charming Tim Hallinan speak so now I am looking forward to his LITTLE ELVISES. And I also came away with yet one more cookbook, this one called SOUTHERN CAKES. Honest to god, the caramel cake recipe sealed the deal. Not exactly book club reading, but I'm sure Hayley Snow will make good use of it--maybe in MURDER WITH GANACHE.

JULIA: In preparation for the 3rd annual Noel King
Memorial Lecture in Santa Cruz, I read (or re-read) several works by my co-panelists. Two of Sharan Newman's Catherine Levendeur mysteries, DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY and THE OUTCAST DOVE let me immerse myself in 12th century France. I had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with Mary Russell in Laurie R. King's A LETTER OF MARY and also reading for the first time one of her stand-alones, A DARKER PLACE, which I can only describe as a religious thriller.

I had previously read Zoe Ferraris' third book, KINGDOM OF STRANGERS, in pursuit of my duties as an Edgars judge, although since it reached me early in the year (ie, I read 194 other books after it) I couldn't recall much except the dynamite opening. I was thrilled to have an excuse to start at the beginning her series, centering around a desert guide/sometime investigator and a female forensic technician in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. The first two novels, FINDING NOUF and CITY OF VEILS, reveal the almost unimaginable lives of men and women in the Kingdom, caught between twenty-first century technology and the strict fundamentalism of Wahabism. Highly recommended.

How about you, dear readers? Read any good books lately?


  1. I keep reading, but the pile keeps growing . . . . recently I’ve read --- and highly recommend --- Erin Hart’s “The Book of Killowen,” Lisa Ballantyne’s “The Guilty One,” Karen Robards’ “The Last Victim,” Lucy’s “Topped Chef” [of course], Karen Kingsbury’s “The Chance,” and Lisa Gardner’s “Touch and Go” . . . . On my eReader, I’ve just finished Karen Kingsbury’s “Like Dandelion Dust,” which is now my favorite of her books . . . . like Hank, I am waiting, waiting for “Through the Evil Days” . . . .

  2. Starting Linda Rodriguez's EVERY BROKEN TRUST as I finish an airplane read, THE ART OF INTELLIGENCE, Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service, by Henry A. Crumpton. Linda's opening is so good though, I'm afraid Crump will be dumped. I know how his story ends.

  3. So many good books, so few hours in the day. And here you all are, adding even more to the wistful pile of TBR, both real and virtual.

    Just began reading "The Sound of Broken Glass" last night. One of my book clubs read Tracy Chevalier's "The Last Runaway", and I could not get that story out of my head for a few days, about a young Quaker who comes to America after having her heart broken in England. Slavery and the Underground Railroad factor in the story.

    Another book club read "Easter Island" by Jennifer Vanderbees, which was a powerfully told story, as well, using as a backdrop the mysterious island with the massive statues.

    I recently read "My Year with Eleanor" by Noelle Hancock, which I highly recommend. Hancock spent the year before her 30th birthday challenging herself to follow Eleanor Roosevelt's advice to "do something that scares you every day".

  4. Like Joan, I keep reading, but that "to be read" pile keeps growing!

    I've read some very good stuff lately - wow.

    Starting with an advance copy of Louise Penny's "How the Light Gets In" which touched every emotion I possess. The BEST yet, truly.

    An advance copy of Reed Farrel Coleman's ONION STREET - a Moe Prager prequel was also excellent (I adore Moe Prager).

    Others include Susan Wiggs' THE APPLE ORCHARD, Susan Boyers' LOWCOUNTRY BOIL (Agatha Winner!), and Sally Goldenbaum's ANGORA ALIBI. All recommended!

    And right now I'm reading Edward Rutherfurn's PARIS.

  5. Here's the thing--at a luncheon at the Carolina Club a few days ago, Molly Weston had a few books to give out as prizes. One was the ARC of Julia's THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS. She handed it over to a nice little woman and it was all I could do not to lurch across the table and snatch it from her...

  6. I feel a bit like a Jungle Reds commercial here, but in the past month or so (since Reine mentioned doing the same in a recent comment) I just read through the entire Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. Between the computer at work and at home, and staring at the Kindle Fire, my left eyelid and cheek are twitching uncontrollably from eyestrain. I can't tell you what a relief it is to look at a real book for a change. I am reading Topped Chef now, and absolutely love it (and the eye twitch has gone, which is a bonus)!

  7. Many of the books already mentioned have also been enjoyed by myself.

    I will give another shout-out to Lisa Ballantyne's The Guilty One, however. More people need to find this wonderful book.

    Currently reading Catriona McPherson's first stand-alone, As She Left It, for my blog. I can tell you already, it will be one of my top reads of the year.

  8. I enjoyed M. Quirk's The 500 - and am peering into the wild blue yonder for the next novels by Earl Staggs and Bo Parker!! Thelma in Manhattan

  9. After meeting Victoria Thompson at the Festival of Mystery, I'm working my way (delightedly) through her Gaslight series. And I just picked up Deborah Coonts' latest at a launch party here in LA (that's Lucky Bastard).

    Lucy's Topped Chef and Catriona McPherson's standalone are next on the list, but I'm adding more to it, thanks to your posts!

  10. Don't Ever Get Old was my book of the Year last year, I think. Neil laughed so hard reading it on the beach in Rhode Island that little kids stopped making their sandcastle and stood up like meerkats to see what the noise was.

    Right now - John Lescroart's Ophelia Cut. I'm a big fan of everything he writes but this one is a belter.

    (Also - thank you!)

  11. Recently finished "There Was An Old Woman" (great sense of place, fascinating complicated characters, and emotional depth) & "Topped Chef" (the method for poaching cod in tomato soup is amazing . . . this book was so much fun, looking at the ludicrous reality TV stuff).
    In addition:
    Donna Leon's "The Golden Egg" -- not as complex as some, but Venice is always interesting.
    Toni L.P. Kelner's "Blast From the Past" -- set on Cape Cod and also TV celebrity related.
    On recommendation from JRW, "Fingerprints of You" which is a spectacular and very "new" story.
    Gosh, but I love books!
    In progress at the moment:
    Audio: "Six Years" by Harlan Coban
    for a book club: "Hit Man" by Lawrence Block
    and, random choice, a book that was given to me by a friend: "This is Not the Ivy League," a memoir by Mary Clearman Blew (academe in Montana)

  12. Love love love airplane reading! Read Louise Penny's Beautiful Mystery on the flight to Malice and those thousands of miles just flew by!:) Also love audio books for long drives: the 2d Flavia DeLuce, The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, kept me company on a weekend drive to visit my mother. Not quite finished, so I'm plotting where I can drive this week to finish it!

  13. I am so behind on my reading, I swear. Need to get my hands on TOPPED CHEF and Linda's book EVERY BROKEN TRUST. Such a prolific group of writers here at Jungle Reds--hard to keep up.

    I recently read Erin Hart's THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN. I've loved her since her first book.

    Right now I'm reading Sarah Waters' THE LITTLE STRANGER. First I've read of her and it's great.

  14. Recently finished were Lisa Gardner's TOUCH AND GO, Barbara Allan's (Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins)ANTIQUE CHOP, and Lawrence Block's HIT ME.

  15. This is just a partial list:

    Kendel Lynn's Board Stiff, which I just HAD to read after her recent blog post here! I am STILL laughing, when I'm not crying over how long I must wait until the next book in the series.

    Deb Crombie's The Sound of Broken Glass. Again, trying not to cry over the long wait until the next one.

    I read all of Kris Neri's Tracy Eaton mysteries. HIGHLY entertaining!

    Am almost done with Whimsey! I want to move to that island!

    Jutta Profijt's Morgue Drawer Four, set in Cologne Germany,about the soul of a murdered small time criminal that does not quite make it to the next world. He hangs around the medical examiner who did his autopsy and who is the only living person that the dead criminal can communicate with. He wants the ME to solve the mystery of his murder, which is officially listed as an accident. I am on the next book in the series right now, Morgue Drawer Next Door. Both have lots of dry humor and have had me giggling in the lunch room at work. The third book, Morgue Drawer for Rent, is on my TBR list.

    Dana Stabenow's Bad Blood. I MUST read the next book!

    In non-fiction: I am almost finished with Jennifer Worth's memoir The Midwife, upon which the PBS program Call the Midwife is based. Riveting, heartwarming, heartbreaking reading.

    As I said, this is just a partial list of what I have read in the past couple of months. my TBR list includes new and upcoming books by JRW authors, as well as the new books by Linda Rodriguez and Edith Maxwell.

  16. I worked part time in a book store for about 14 years, and ordered all the "special order" books and did some of the paperback ordering. I got to read all the ARCs that came into the store, and at the time, I didn't realize what a bonus that was. I would love some of the ARCs mentioned here !! Oh well. . .I just finished "Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger and "Standing In Another Man's Grave" by Ian Rankin.

  17. Yes,Catriona..I loved Dont Ever Get Old SO much..I laughed out loud, too..and then it was all I could do not to cry.

    And I adore John Lescroart..he's consistently terrific. And a great guy, too.

  18. Ys, DebRo--Kendel Lynn is very very talented..Her books are quite special.

    Has anyone read THE DINNER PARTY?

  19. Finished "The Sound of Broken Glass" on Friday. I have been soooooooooo hooked by Deb. I love those books. Now I'm working on "The Aviator's Wife" and am thoroughly enjoying it. Also "1356" by Bernard Cornwell. I'm his greatest fan in the US. I've been reading since the first Sharpe book.

  20. How can a teetering TBR pile every be considered "horrifying," Ms. Crombie? It's always wonderful.

    Dana Stabenow's 20th novel featuring Kate Shugak, Bad Blood: I am still reeling over the last three pages.

    Peter May's first in the Lewis trilogy, Black House. His Enzo books are equally terrific: place, plot and people perfectly positioned on each page.

    Re-reading some of Dolores Hitchens (she was my 2nd-grade teacher): Stairway to an Empty Room and Sleep with Strangers, both pitch-perfect examples of 1950s Los Angeles.


  21. TFJ, I'd love to hear more about Delores Hitchens.

  22. Recently read and highly, highly recommend Red Debs' THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS (suspenseful and emotionally wrenching), Red Hallie's THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN (creepy, suspenseful, and moving), and Red Lucy's TOPPED CHEF (hilarious, as always). Great books!

    I'm currently reading Sally Goldenbaum's ANGORA ALIBI and John Lescroarts' OPHELIA CUT. Both very good, so far. I've also recently read Alex Grecian's THE YARD, Daniel Woodrell's UNDER THE BRIGHT LIGHTS, Susan MacNeal's MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY, and Leigh Bardugo's SHADOW AND BONE (YA fantasy and quite, quite good). All recommended.

    And just received Kathryn O'Sullivan's FOAL PLAY in the mail today, but I read it in manuscript and blurbed it. Funny, fun book! This year's Malice Domestic winner.

    Up next on my TBR list, Red Kaye's WHIMSEY, Edith Maxwell's A TINE TO LIVE, and Maureen Johnson's THE NAME OF THE STAR (another YA fantasy, this one about Jack the Ripper in modern London).

    And Jack, thank you! I'm so glad you're enjoying EVERY BROKEN TRUST.

    Like everyone else, I'm dying to get my hands on Red Julia's THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS, but I have to wa-a-a-ait.

  23. Jerry,

    Dolores Hitchens has a fairly complete entry on Wikipedia (I didn't know about her Rachel Murdock mysteries until I read it on Wikipedia).

    As my 2nd-grade teacher (Catholic school in early 60s, most of the teachers were nuns) and a woman who played "Secret Agent Man" on the record player every morning, she was my introduction to both an early love of math, reading and, of course, mysteries! It didn't hurt that she had the same name as my mom and spelled it the same, too.

    I didn't realize she was a mystery writer until I was in my 20s. Sadly, she had passed at that point so I didn't get to tell her how much I enjoyed her both as a teacher and a writer.

    Hope you have the opportunity to read some of her work, Jerry.


  24. I brought NEVER GET OLD back from the Edgar Awards. Clearly, it needs to rise to the top of my TBR pile.

  25. I should have started my first comment with I've read all the Reds' latest books (usually in one sitting). And like everyone else, find it very difficult to w-a-a-a-a-a-i-t for the next.

    Stop You're Killing Me! (just celebrated its 15th anniversary) has been my go-to source for new authors, authors new to me and if-you-like-this-author, try-this-one lists. My memory is a bit fuzzy at this point, but I know SYKM was involved in my discovery of both Julia (Kate Charles) and Debs (Jill McGown).

    So a belated thank-you to all the Reds for my TBR pile multiplying like rabbits.


  26. My very highest thumbs up (and five stars and whatever else indicates enthusiastic approval) to Reed Farrel Coleman's new book, ONION STREET, the newly published prequel for his wonderful Moe Prager series (although it is the 8th and penultimate in the series). Seek him out and read the book. It's terrific.

    --Marjorie of Connecticut

  27. Forget to mention one of the best books I've read lately--probably because it's not listed as a mystery, though it's an incredible detective story. My friend Deborah Miranda's BAD INDIANS: A TRIBAL MEMOIR.

    She's a wonderful poet who's spent decades trying to recover the history of her tribe, the Ohlone Coastal Esselen. It's a California tribe related to Ishi's, for those who remember Theodore Kroeber's book. In memoir, essay, and poetry, Deborah has tracked her tribe through the lives of her family and ancestors. It's an incredible piece of research and a stunning book. Though I had read much of it before publication in journals, etc., I was still in tears at times throughout the book. And often shaking with laughter, too.

  28. I read Deborah Crombie's Sound of Broken Glass in February and loved it. I read The Cellist of Sarajevo, a beautiful, haunting book by Steven Galloway. I read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty; I highly recommend it. Now I am reading Riverton House by Kate Morton, and I think Downton Abbey must be based on it; it's fabulous.

  29. I'm listening to Hank's THE OTHER WOMAN for the second time... sooooo good.

    I'm reading EVERY BROKEN TRUST... love these characters and community Linda Rodriguez has created.


  30. TOPPED CHEF and SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS are next on my TBR list.

  31. I'm a huge lover of the mystery genre and it constitutes 90% of my reading. Love all the Reds. But I just finished a wonderful book outside of my normal pattern.

    I highly recommend "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan. It has elements to appeal to book lovers, tech lovers, geeks and nerds. It features an adult friendship grounded in 6th grade Dungeons and Dragons battles, a look at the inside world of Google, a secret society, and an epic quest. But it is very grounded in the here and now and narrated in a tone of wry, self-deprecating humor. It is Robin Sloan's first novel and I hope there will be more!

  32. Susan, thanks for recommending a new book. My reading tastes are very similar to yours. I love hearing about writers' first books.