The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 10-4-15

Sunday Post

The Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop started yesterday, so there’s plenty of time to enter. This seems to be hop season, as there is yet another hop scheduled for this week, and then there’s the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop starting in mid-October. This may not be Christmas yet, but it still seems to be the season to give away books and bookish prizes.

But speaking of giveaways, I don’t say this often because it feels just a bit crass, but Reading Reality is an Amazon Affiliate. Buying one of the books you find on my blog (or any other book, for that matter) by going to Amazon from one of my links nets me a few cents or a dollar per book. Those affiliate fees add up, and they are how I fund the giveaways. So I very, very much appreciate when I see that someone has bought a book through my links, both because it means that I reached that person with my review, and because it helps provide the giveaways that introduce new readers to Reading Reality. So thank you all very much.

alternate banned books banner 2015And before we end the weekend, let’s take a look at what happened last week. It was a theme week for Banned Books Week, so all the books I reviewed were on topics related to Banned Books Week in some way. One book is currently under challenge, one talks about reading the world and what breaking out of our Western, anglophone reading habits might mean. And then the recent and controversial history of one of the world’s great libraries, as well as a book about our First Amendment rights and then a book about how those rights are being eroded by ubiquitous government and commercial surveillance. The books were fascinating and occasionally frightening. And compelling enough that I only made one change from my original plan – not because I’m not planning to read Terms of Service but because I needed to carry my book around the day I was supposed to read it, and I didn’t have an ebook.

Also, I admit, Patience and Fortitude was about half the length of Terms of Service, and it was starting to matter. These were all marvelous books, but not the kind of thing that keeps one up until 3 am because you want to see what happens next. I may do this again, for next Banned Books Week if no other time. If anyone has any thoughts on the concept or how it worked, please let me know in the comments.

And next week we’re back to our regularly scheduled genre fiction! I need a break from the serious.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Rockin’ Reads Giveaway Hop is Jennifer H.
The winner of the $10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop is Susan D.

immortal life of henrietta lacks by rebecca sklootBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
B Review: The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan
B+ Review: Patience and Fortitude by Scott Sherman
A Review: Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler
A- Review: Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier
Books That Need More Attention Giveaway Hop

books to movies giveaway hopComing Next Week:

The Guilt of Innocents by Candace Robb (review)
An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff (review)
Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller (blog tour review)
Books to Movies Giveaway Hop
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (review)
Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (154)

Stacking the Shelves

I have to admit, I picked up a review copy of Star Trek Sex just for the title. And I’m curious as hell. The book’s description mostly covers the original series, but there wasn’t any actual sex. There was a fair amount of romance, usually of the girl or alien of the week, but no actual sex. However, there was one episode, Wink of an Eye, from the often horrible third season. This episode became slightly infamous because it was the first episode that showed the aftermath of presumably actual sex. Kirk is seen in the lady’s stateroom putting on his boots while sitting on the edge of the bed. The presumption is that he is putting his boots on after having put back on the rest of his clothes. But even then, we assume, we don’t absolutely know. But it was always a titillating presumption. Even if the book is more of the same, it will be a nice trip down memory lane.

And over in the MUCH higher quality section of the science fiction rack, Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, the final? book in her awesome and award-gobbling Imperial Radch series, is available for pre-order. It’s scheduled to come out on October 6, and I can hardly wait!

For Review:
Controlled Burn (Boston Fire #2) by Shannon Stacey
London Rain (Josephine Tey #6) by Nicola Upson
No Shred of Evidence (Inspector Ian Rutledge #18) by Charles Todd
Otter Chaos by P.D. Singer
Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss #3) by Nalini Singh
Star Trek Sex by Will Stape

Purchased from Amazon:
Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann Leckie
Overload Flux (Central Galactic Concordance #1) by Carol Van Natta


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Stacking the Shelves

I couldn’t resist the Humble Bundle of Star Wars Audiobooks. It includes the original radio broadcasts, and should make our next driving trip fly by. If you’re interested, there’s still a few days left to get in on the bundle.

Something else I couldn’t resist was the opportunity to get the last two books in Candace Robb’s Owen Archer series. This is a terrific historical mystery series that I fell in love with a long time ago. The story takes place in York, England, during the mid-14th century, at the time that the awesomely beautiful York Minster was being built. While I was reading the early books in the series I was in York, and walking the same streets as the characters made the story resonate even more. I’m glad to see that the series is back.

Last but not least, I picked up the two historical romances by Eva Leigh after discovering that Eva Leigh is a new penname for one of my favorite authors, Zoe Archer. I can’t wait to see what she does with this new series.

For Review:
Forever Your Earl (Wicked Quills of London #1) by Eva Leigh
The Guilt of Innocents (Owen Archer #9) by Candace Robb
Lowcountry Bordello (Liz Talbot #4) by Susan M. Boyer
Moonlight over Paris by Jennifer Robson
Return to Dark Earth (Phoenix Adventures #7) by Anna Hackett (review)
Scandal Takes the Stage (Wicked Quills of London #2) by Eva Leigh
This Gulf of Time and Stars (Reunification #1) by Julie E Czerneda
A Vigil of Spies (Owen Archer #10) by Candace Robb

Purchased from Amazon:
Humble Bundle of Star Wars Audiobooks


The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-23-15

Sunday Post

Sasquan_Official_Raven_Mascot_by_Brad_FosterThis is weird. I’m writing this before we leave for Sasquan, but by the time you read it, we’ll be on our way back. From here, I’m hoping that our suitcases won’t be overloaded with books, but that may be a vain hope. I try to resist picking up print books in the dealer’s room, because most of what I see I either have an eARC, or I’m willing to wait to get as an ebook. Howsomever, the one thing that is still better with print is signed books. For that, you need a physical copy. I know John Scalzi will be at Sasquan, which means a print copy of The End of All Things is definitely in my bookish future. As for the rest, we’ll see.

Because I’m writing this so far ahead, it is possible that next week’s schedule will be affected by what I manage to read (and OMG write up) while we are at the Con. In other words, contents may shift as the week (or the box) settles.

clear-off-your-shelf-August-202x300Current Giveaways:

Four books from my shelves in the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd (paperback ARC)

pattern of lies by charles toddBlog Recap:

A- Review: Daring by Elliott James
B+ Review: Tales: Short Stories Featuring Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford by Charles Todd
C+ Review: Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville
Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Review: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (149)

blood and metal by nina croftComing Next Week:

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (review)
Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford (review)
The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards (review)
Blood and Metal by Nina Croft (blog tour review)
If Only You Knew by Kristan Higgins (blog tour review)

Review: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd + Giveaway

pattern of lies by charles toddFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: historical mystery
Series: Bess Crawford #7
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Date Released: August 18, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

An explosion and fire at the Ashton Gunpowder Mill in Kent has killed over a hundred men. It’s called an appalling tragedy—until suspicion and rumor raise the specter of murder. While visiting the Ashton family, Bess Crawford finds herself caught up in a venomous show of hostility that doesn’t stop with Philip Ashton’s arrest. Indeed, someone is out for blood, and the household is all but under siege.

The only known witness to the tragedy is now at the Front in France. Bess is asked to find him. When she does, he refuses to tell her anything that will help the Ashtons. Realizing that he believes the tissue of lies that has nearly destroyed a family, Bess must convince him to tell her what really happened that terrible Sunday morning. But now someone else is also searching for this man.

To end the vicious persecution of the Ashtons, Bess must risk her own life to protect her reluctant witness from a clever killer intent on preventing either of them from ever reaching England.

My Review:

The title may be “pattern of lies” but the end result became a design for destruction. While this is a murder story, it is also, and more significantly, a story about the evil that men (and women) do, and man’s (and woman’s) inhumanity to their fellow humans. And that’s what makes this one so chilling. It’s not the original murder, it’s the mob mentality that takes over a small town and very nearly hounds an innocent man to his death.

As we have found out all too often in modern times, the cover-up is often nastier and more costly than the original crime. This particular instance takes that truism to new heights. Or perhaps that should be depths.

Something horrible happened in a small town in Kent. In 1916, the gunpowder mill exploded, killing over 100 men and putting a big dent in explosives production right after the Battle of the Somme. It was a heavy blow for the British Army to lose one of their best producing explosives factories, but it was an even bigger blow for Cranford, the small town that provided the workers for the mill. Not only did most families lose a breadwinner, but the mill’s production was moved elsewhere, and the town never recovered economically.

Kent is near the Channel, so the Army conducted an investigation into the cause of the explosion and the fire that followed it. They determined that there had been no sabotage, by the Germans or anyone else, and that the tragedy was just a terrible accident. At the time, everyone seemed saddened but satisfied.

Bess Crawford visits Cranford in 1918, two years after the tragedy, only to find that someone or something has revived all of the horror and all of the blame-seeking in this village. She visits one of her former patients, Mark Ashton, and his family. The Ashtons owned the mine, and suddenly, out of the blue, someone is conducting a malicious rumor campaign that places the blame for the explosion squarely on Mark’s father Philip’s shoulders. Philip Ashton is arrested for multiple murder while Bess is visiting.

The question is, who started up all the horrible rumors? And why? Who benefits from not just putting Philip Ashton in jail, but also terrorizing his family and even trying to get his poor innocent dog put down? There is a campaign of terror being waged against the Ashton family, and by the point that Bess becomes involved, every single person in Cranford is involved, including the police. Everyone lost someone in that explosion, and everyone has decided to blame the Ashtons for their grief. Whether that blame is justified or not.

Bess, with her dogged determination, follows the trail of heartless evil back and forth across the Channel, from the battlefields of France to the civilian warfare in Cranford. As more and more lies spring up in Cranford, more and more soldiers with even a tangential connection to the original tragedy turn up dead at the hands of their fellow British soldiers.

It is up to Bess, with a little help from her father and her network of former patients in the Army to track down the horrible truth – before it is too late for both Philip Ashton and for Bess.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles ToddEscape Rating A: I loved this book, but I don’t think it’s a good place to start the series. If you love historical mysteries or the World War I period, A Duty to the Dead would be a much better starting point.

But I love Bess Crawford. So often in historical fiction, when there is a female protagonist the author needs to invent a reason for the heroine to be atypically involved in the wider world. With Bess, those reasons are built into the period and her character organically, and it works so well.

Bess is a trained combat nurse during World War I. This provides a reason for her education and attitudes, while at the same time she acknowledges that there are still limits on her behavior and movements. While it seems strange to 21st century readers, Bess really does have to be concerned about the appropriateness of her behavior and appearance at all times, or she may lose her position in the nursing profession. She can be up to her elbows in blood and guts one day, and have to worry about whether the nursing service will think her accommodations unsatisfactory to the reputation of said service the next.

She is also more open-minded than we think of for the period. Again, some of that is her training, back to the blood and guts. Her sometimes cynical view of human behavior is born out of her actual experience in the war. She knows how badly people of all ranks behave because she has to sew up the results on an all too frequent basis. Also, her experience of the world is broader than most women of her class because her father has been a serving officer in the British Army for decades, and her mother “followed the drum” going with him and taking Bess to far-flung postings in the British Empire.

So when Bess sees something wrong, she looks for a way to right that wrong, whether it is a medical emergency or a miscarriage of justice. She doesn’t sweep things under the rug, because that’s where germs fester and grow. She brings things out into the light where they can be identified and if necessary, surgically removed.

The story in Cranford is one that tugs at her because she can see how wrong it is, and how hard it is to fix. Also, from her outsider’s perspective it makes no sense. That there would have been suspicion at the time, yes, that’s both logical and human. But that the suspicion has not just resurfaced but become pervasive two years later? There must be a reason and Bess, as usual, is determined to find it no matter how much danger she throws herself into along the way.

What sticks in the mind in this story is not the motive for the rumor campaign, but the way that everyone in the village jumps onto the bloody bandwagon. We see mob mentality at its worst, and it is both frightening and disgusting. But we know it is all too possible.

As glad as I was to see evil get punished and good triumph, I would have loved to have seen the aftermath. How does the falsely accused recover from all this enmity? One might manage to forgive, but forgetting would be impossible. How does life proceed in this small village where people have willfully torn the social fabric to pieces? It haunts. Good stories do that.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

In the spirit of yesterday’s Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop, I am giving away my paperback ARC of A Pattern of Lies to one lucky U.S. commenter. I adore this series, and I’d like to share the love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Tales: Short Stories Featuring Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford by Charles Todd

tales by charles toddFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: historical mystery
Series: Inspector Ian Rutledge, Bess Crawford
Length: 192 pages
Publisher: Witness Impulse
Date Released: July 21, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Now published together for the first time: Charles Todd’s absorbing short stories—”The Kidnapping,” “The Girl on the Beach,” “Cold Comfort,” and “The Maharani’s Pearls”—featuring everyone’s favorite Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge and intrepid battlefield nurse Bess Crawford. These vibrant tales transport readers from the home front in Great Britain where ominous clouds of war will soon lead to the trenches of France, to the bloody front lines where Lieutenant Rutledge must risk his life to save his men. And finally to the exotic, dangerous India of Bess Crawford’s youth. Together they create a fascinating glimpse into the extraordinary backgrounds of two of mystery’s most popular characters.

My Review:

This collection of stories makes a great introduction to Charles Todd’s two completely different protagonists – the professional police officer Ian Rutledge, and the amateur detective but professional nurse Bess Crawford.

All of the stories take place in the World War I and immediate post-war period, so if you have an interest in that period, whether courtesy of Downton Abbey or not, these are great people to explore with.

maharanis pearls by charles toddEspecially since two of the stories in this series, the Ian Rutledge story Cold Comfort and the Bess Crawford story The Maharani’s Pearls, serve as prequels to their respective series.

Bess Crawford is a trained nurse who serves all too near the front lines during the war. Bess is in some ways a special case. Her father, often referred to as the Colonel Sahib, is a career officer who served in India, and continues to serve in some super-secret capacity during WWI. Though her connections to her father, Bess is sometimes able to circumvent authority, or at least drag more information out of it than it wants dragged. She also has a more thorough knowledge of how the Army works (and doesn’t) through her years following her father’s many postings.

The story The Maharani’s Pearls is a case in point. This story takes place during Bess’ childhood in India, and could be said to be her first case. It explores the relationships between the British military and the local population, and showcases Bess’ early talent for detection as well as subterfuge. When I picked this collection, I didn’t realize that I had read and reviewed The Maharani’s Pearls last summer.

cold comfort by charles toddCold Comfort, while it is listed as #16.5 in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, is also a sort of prequel. The series as a whole takes place in the post-war years, where Inspector Rutledge, after his military service, returns to his pre-war police career after a hard-fought recovery from shell-shock. However, the story in Cold Comfort takes place during the war, when Lieutenant Ian Rutledge is serving in France. He has to use his detection skills to figure out just why two Welsh sappers are so intent on killing one Manchester miner, to the point where they are willing to blow up their own side in the process. This is a case where Rutledge uses his skill and intuition to figure out the very civilian motive for all of the skullduggery that is concealed within the ranks.

The other stories in this book, The Kidnapping and The Girl on the Beach, show their respective detectives in their more usual settings. The Girl on the Beach, the Bess Crawford story, is particularly good at showing the way that Bess often inveigles herself into investigations that should be none of her business. One of the things I particularly liked about this one was the police detective who finds himself working with Bess almost without realizing he is doing it. Bess, of course, does contribute to the solution, but the fun thing for me in this story was that the description and mannerisms of the police detective reminded me very much of Christopher Foyle in Foyle’s War. Admittedly, Foyle actually served in the Army in WWI, but the detective still felt and acted like him.

In The Kidnapping we see that Inspector Rutledge’s faculties are firmly back on track after his recovery from shell shock, but that his career still needs some healing. He’s stuck on night duty because he has so little seniority, and his seniors are unhappy that he manages to solve a very sensitive case without their help.

Escape Rating B+: These are all great stories in their respective series. The Maharani’s Pearls and Cold Comfort would make excellent introductions to their series for anyone who loves historical mysteries or historical fiction in this period. We are able to see the characters start, and then in the later stories we see how far they have come since those beginnings.

If you’ve never dived into either of these series, this collection is a great place to start. And it certainly whet my appetite for the new Bess Crawford book, A Pattern of Lies, which I’ll be reviewing at the end of the week.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-16-15

Sunday Post

fearless by elliott jamesIn the end, I liked both Stormbringer and Fearless better than I did Scalzi’s End of all Things. I think this is the first time that I haven’t given an A or A+ review for one of Scalzi’s books. I still enjoyed the heck out of it, but it didn’t knock my socks off the way that Lock In did last year. On the other hand, I didn’t have grand expectations for either the first book in the Wyrd series, Liesmith (I originally judged this one by its ‘meh’ cover and I was so wrong), and both books in that series turned out to be really awesome. And I had fairly low expectations for Charming, the first book in the Pax Arcana series, but that turned out to be quite good and getting better. So if you like Urban Fantasy with a twist, be sure to give one or both of those a try.

Current Giveaways:

$25 Gift Card + ebook copy of Liesmith by Alis Franklin
$15 Amazon Gift Card from Elliot James and Fearless

stormbringer by alis franklinBlog Recap:

A- Review: Stormbringer by Alis Franklin + Giveaway
B+ Review: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
A- Review: Fearless by Elliott James + Giveaway
B+ Review: The End of All Things by John Scalzi
B Review: Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy
Stacking the Shelves (148)




clear-off-your-shelf-August-202x300Coming Next Week:

Daring by Elliott James (review)
Tales by Charles Todd (blog tour review)
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville (review)
Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd (blog tour review)

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-2-15

Sunday Post

It’s Saturday as I type this. I’m in a hotel in Chattanooga because we didn’t quite make it home. There were two problems. One, my new/old car can either go uphill or accelerate,, but not both. there’s this little mountain range between Cincinnati and Atlanta. The car is a 1997 Mazda Protege, and while I’m thrilled to have a car again, the poor baby can only hit 70 going downhill, and drafting behind a truck.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve driven through the mountains. White-knuckling it all the way from one Tennessee border to the other, even in the short direction, makes for one tired and stressed Marlene. Sunday’s trip should be easier. It’s certainly shorter.

I’m even giving stuff away this week (and next week!)

Current Giveaways:

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann
5 copies of Pure Heat by M.L. Buchman

terrans by jean johnsonBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Terrans by Jean Johnson
B+ Review: Broken Open by Lauren Dane
A Review: Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann + Giveaway
B+ Review: Deadly Lover by Charlee Allden
B+ Review: Hot Point by M.L. Buchman + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (146)




Coming Next Week:

eReaderGiveaway_Horz_BPSummertime eReader Giveaway
Back to You by Lauren Dane (blog tour review)
Charming by Elliott James (review)
Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford (review)
One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron (review)

Review: Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann + Giveaway

flask of the drunken master by susan spannFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, ebook
Genre: historical mystery
Series: Shinobi Mystery #3
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Date Released: July 14, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Master ninja Hiro Hattori and his companion Father Mateo are once again pulled into a murder investigation when a rival artisan turns up dead outside of their friend Ginjiro’s sake brewery. They must find the killer before the magistrate executes Ginjiro, seizes the brewery, and renders his family destitute. All the evidence implicates the brewer, yet with Kyoto on alert in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, Ginjiro’s is not the only life at risk.

As tensions rise, Hiro investigates a missing merchant, a vicious debt collector, a moneylender and the victim’s spendthrift son. But when a drunken Buddhist monk insists on helping Hiro and Father Mateo solve the crime, the monk’s bumbling threatens to foil the investigation altogether. With time running out, Hiro once again gambles on a clandestine mission to find the truth. Except that this time, Hiro isn’t the only one with a secret mission to fulfill.

My Review:

claws of the cat by susan spannWhile every bit as captivating as its two predecessors, Claws of the Cat and Blade of the Samurai (enthusiastically reviewed here and here) it also takes off in slightly different direction from those previous two books in this series.

In their earlier adventures, Father Mateo and his bodyguard, the shinobi (read ninja) Hiro found themselves investigating within the halls of power; solving murders at the heart of the shogunate, risking their lives to determine the guilt or innocence of possible killers with their own lives tied to the results of a successful investigation under excruciating time pressure.

In Flask of the Drunken Master, while the crime is still serious, their own lives do not directly hang in the balance. And they are working far from the halls of power. The sake brewer Ginjiro has been accused of murdering his rival Chikao with one of his own sake flasks in the back of his own shop.

It does not help Ginjiro’s case that the two men were heard arguing earlier that evening, to the point of exchanging the kind of threats and insults that always come back to haunt one whenever the other party to the argument turns up dead.

Ginjiro is not a friend of Hiro’s, because samurai cannot be friends with merchants. But Hiro feels that owes Ginjiro a debt of honor. It also seems as if Hiro has an unrequited crush on Ginjiro’s lovely daughter Tomiko, but then, so do half the men in the neighborhood.

Tomiko is certain that her father is not guilty. But of course she would be. Ginjiro seems to be a genuinely good man. But so was the murder victim, Chikao. However, Chikao’s son Kauru is a spoiled, self-centered pig. And I just insulted pigs.

More importantly, Ginjiro does not benefit from Chikao’s murder. None of that seems to matter to the magistrate, who immediately carts Ginjiro to prison to be tortured until he confesses to a crime that he probably did not commit.

Hiro, with Father Mateo’s help, has four days at most to figure out who the real killer is and prove it. In the course of his investigation he turns up all too many people with a motive, but can’t find one who can be proved to have had the opportunity.

Except poor Ginjiro.

As Hiro races the clock to make sure that an innocent man isn’t punished, he is also confronted with the indirect results of his actions in the previous stories. The shogunate is under contention, and Kyoto is under siege by samurai belonging to one of the rival powers. Unfortunately for Hiro and Father Mateo, their housemate has been gun running to too many of the possible contenders.

By the end of the case, Hiro knows that there is a storm coming in to Kyoto that will test his loyalty and his honor. All he can do is watch which way the winds blow.

Escape Rating A: Flask of the Drunken Master was the perfect antidote for the awful book I reviewed yesterday at The Book Pushers. It’s wonderful when karma works its powers for good!

In previous reviews I have compared Hiro and his investigative methods to Brother Cadfael in Ellis Peters’ landmark historical mystery series, and I felt that resemblance even more strongly in this book. Cadfael usually investigated crimes that involved ordinary people, and the case of the brewer Ginjiro and his dead rival was certainly a case of that type.

blade of the samurai by susan spannHiro also solves cases the way that Cadfael does. He has no forensic science except his own knowledge of how dead bodies appear, and how people act, or don’t act, in and especially out of character. He is intelligent and determined. Also occasionally ruthless. He gets to the bottom of the case, even when, as in the cases in Blade of the Samurai, it is very possible that the criminal is a friend or colleague.

As a shinobi, or shadow warrior, Hiro is always an outsider, always an observer, even when he seems to be most at home. He does not completely belong to any group, so he can be a relatively disinterested observer.

It is fascinating to watch the changes in Hiro’s relationship with Father Mateo. The scene where Hiro realizes that has not respected Father Mateo’s beliefs, and that he owes amends, is excellent and something we could all learn from. Hiro finally realizes that even though he does not and never will believe as Mateo does, he needs to respect Mateo’s beliefs and his sincerity in them.

As each story in this series unfolds, we see more and more into this time and place that was so completely closed from Western eyes, and possibly with good reason. Mateo’s foreignness allows Hiro to pry by proxy into areas and places where the strict rules of his society do not allow, and at the same time gives him an insight to question his beliefs, whether to confirm them or confront them.

This is a partnership and a setting that I will be happy to return to again and again.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I’m very happy to say that I am able to give away a copy of Flask of the Drunken Master to one lucky U.S. or Canadian commenter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 7-26-15

Sunday Post

I finally have some giveaways coming up this week. It’s been kind of a long dry spell. Even some of the tours I’ve hosted haven’t had giveaways attached, which is a real pity. There have been some good books on those tours that it would have been great to share.

As you read this, we are probably on our way to my mom’s in Cincy. One of the reasons we moved back east was so that visiting family would be a more reasonable trip, and that is turning out to be the case. Air travel used to be fun. Now it is mostly annoying. Driving takes longer but seems less hassle when it’s feasible. There’s such a trade-off between living near a big airport and living near a relatively small one.

The lines in Gainesville, Tallahassee and even Anchorage were relatively short. But getting anywhere involved at least one extra hop, and sometimes two. Also it was reasonable to live not horribly far from the airport. From Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta you can get almost anywhere on a nonstop flight, but getting to the airport is a major pain, the lines for everything take forever and parking costs the earth.

On the other hand, Atlanta had an Ice Cream Festival on Saturday which tasted wonderful.

C’est la vie.

mechanical by ian tregillisBlog Recap:

B+ Review: Ether & Elephants by Cindy Spencer Pape
B Review: The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane
B+ Review: Wings in the Dark by Michael Murphy
A Review: The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis
A- Review: Liesmith by Alis Franklin
Stacking the Shelves (145)




flask of the drunken master by susan spannComing Next Week:

The Terrans by Jean Johnson (review)
Broken Open by Lauren Dane (review)
Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann (blog tour review)
Deadly Lover by Charlee Allden (review)
Hot Point by M.L. Buchman (blog tour review)