Along with being one of the most avid readers at Vroman's, Lee also writes the Vroman's Mystery Newsletter, Scene of the Crime.
Brilliant. Ingenious. A tour de force! OK, ok, so I’m gushing. It may not be the longest book I’ve read or even the most profound. It was however the best book I read in 2015. Japan has attacked the U.S. and being Japanese in these times is dangerous. Sam Sumida, a Japanese American, is trying to find his wife’s killer in a world he doesn’t recognize. Jimmy Park, Korean American, is trying to find a dangerous Japanese spy, the beautiful Orchid. Takumi Sato, also Japanese American, is trying to get his novel finished and throughout it all Maxine Wakefield, Associate Editor, is wielding her blue pencil and making changes that impact the lives of all three. I got to the end, closed the book and took a deep breath. Then I simply said “Wow.” I think you will too.
I picked this up thinking to myself, OK this is just a collection of stories – I can read this. And I did. These soldiers are only human; humans who have had to see and do things we can’t even begin to understand. But maybe reading this book will give us all a glimpse of how they feel and why they feel that way. Perhaps I understand a bit more than the average reader because of my USMC background but I wasn’t in combat so even my understanding is somewhat limited. I do know that generally you don’t ask, “So, how was it? What was it like?” Learn to listen instead. Let them tell you if they want to. And don’t turn away from the gritty horror of some of these stories. Learn to deal with the reality of war so that maybe you can learn to help someone just home to deal with it too, just by being available.
Mystery, greed, half-truths, rumor and betrayal are all a part of this tale about a murder made to look like an accident all due to the rumor of a map that would lead to a treasure buried by George Cassidy better known as Butch. Arapaho lawyer Vickie Holden and priest Father John are once again drawn into the shadow world of hearsay when Vickie learns that the husband of her friend Ruth has died, apparently drowned while hunting for treasure. Cutter, a cousin of Ruth’s husband Robert Walking Bear, moves back from Oklahoma and steps in to help. More Walking Bear people die and Ruth’s house is torn apart. There are movie folk making a documentary too and they would like to know the stories behind this treasure. Lots of suspects, plenty of history and a rousing good tale.
This is a story about a Navaho boy who was sent to the white man’s school which ripped his language from him. In spite of the ban on speaking and practicing anything Navaho, Ned Begay continued using his language to teach in secret. When WWII broke out he was too young to go. He promised a year to his parents and when that year was up he joined the Marines and became a code talker like those before him. Now he could use his language and be proud of the fact that in doing so he was helping defeat a formidable enemy. The character Ned is not real but the facts are. This book tells the story of those brave Navahos who gave everything to help win the war. And it’s told the way an old man would tell it to the young to teach them about their heritage. I can only say, thank you Grandfather for the teaching.
I met Amy at a signing with Naomi Hirahara. She's an accomplished poet and an exciting speaker. I'll admit, I'm not usually into poetry - I'm told it's an acquired taste. Thanks to Amy Uyematsu I now have more of a taste for it than just my childhood favorite Tennyson. Amy's poetry truly tells it like it is from relocation camps to Motown music, Executive order 9066 and sansei brides. There are poems of struggle and pain but also of humor and joy, and they all touched me in my core being for one reason or another. Admittedly, I do have a favorite; When It Is Time. This is nothing like the boring stuff we had in school. Please, even if you think you don't like poetry take this home with you and one quiet evening, read just one poem and then think about what you read. I think you'll be amazed at the power of poetry.
From the very first adventure with Honor Harrington I have been in love with the treecats. What cat lover wouldn’t want a friendship with these cat-like creatures who are more loyal than any pet, intelligent and extremely intuitive. When Stephanie Harrington first meet her treecat is purely by accident; which wouldn’t have happened if she had followed the rules! But then, what Harrington female ever followed the rules! But then, what Harrington female ever followed the rules? This is a wonderful story about the first bonding between treecats and humans. When enemies try to make certain Sphinx stays entirely in the the hands of humans even if it means exterminating all treecats, Stephanie and her treecat, Climbs Quickly, makes sure things turn out the way they should!
Beware the man who rides the shoulders of heroes with a closed mind. Beware the Bene Gesserit who's mind is so open she doesn't see the trouble closest to her. And beware the Sister who's mind is open only to revenge. The war against the machines has been over for eight decades and mankind seems to be forgetting the terror of being ruled by these horrors. Even the Bene Gesserits use computers in secret. But the Butlerian movement will not let anyone forget and has set out to destroy all who prefer using machines. Vorian Atreides has turned his back on politics in hope for peace. But there are still those who would find him either to eliminate or try to get him to join in ruling as the machines intended. Naturally the Butlerians would have him dead. This is a brilliant novel of horrible extremes fighting each other with most of humanity in the center of the storm. Manford and his Butlerian followers could throw the entire human race into total chaos and a new dark ages. Herbert and Anderson have done a magnificent job of keeping the tradition of great sci fi in the continuing saga of Dune.
Many think the future will be ruled by corporations. Not just here but world wide. There will be no true countries only competing huge businesses. The Kollins have taken it much further than that. Each human is incorporated from birth. They spend many years trying to obtain more shares in themselves. They sell shares to get money for school and then hope for a good paying job so they can buy them back and perhaps some day obtain a majority. Into this relatively successful society comes Justin Cord. Awakened from cryogenic sleep after 300 years he is the only human anywhere not incorporated. And he doesn't want to be. He looks upon it as a form of slavery rather than freedom. And what happens when you throw a monkey wrench into a smooth running engine? Chaos. This is a well thought out and original work of fiction that may be just a bit too real for some. There are arguments that can be made both for and against this kind of society; valid arguments. Could something like this really happen? Could this be our future? Maybe – maybe not. But it certainly does make for some great reading.
I loved this book! Just ask my family. I can't stop talking about it. A young man stands accused of murdering a well-liked med student and Inspector Darko Dawson is sent from the Ghanian capital of Accra to Ketanu; Ketanu where his own mother disappeared from twenty-five years earlier. This isn't just a mystery, it's a tale about personal demons, old-fashioned bad police work, modern investigation and modern medicine bucking against the fetish priests in the area. There are more suspects than you can count and the poor victim was actually liked! Kwei Quartey takes us from mud huts to city houses and Inspector Dawson even complains about traffic jams. Traffic jams! In Africa. Ok I know it's silly, but I honestly haven't thought of Ghana that way. I'm serious, if you don't find much more than just a great mystery in this book I'll stop eating chocolate for a week! By the way, I was so taken up by the story, the country and the writing that I had no clue to the killer until near the end. Welcome Dr. Quartey, we've been waiting for you.
Remember the Spellman Files? Well, here we go again! This has to be the most dysfunctional loving family I’ve ever run across. Izzy is really in trouble this time - she’s been arrested! And it’s all because she’s suspicious of a new neighbor. Is he a drug dealer? Or perhaps a killer - he does dig in the garden a lot! Her mother, father and brother are acting really odd too. To make matters worse her precocious little sister is taking driving lessons - or at least she was until she ran over her instructor police Inspector Henry Stone! And that’s when Izzy suddenly finds she’s engaged to Henry - because it explains Petra’s constantly being with him to concerned Social Services! This a mystery laugh-fest indeed!
Father John had watched as once again Ned walked away without voicing the problem that seemed to be bearing him down. And now, Ned was dead, murdered and there would be no way to help at all. The Feds seem to think it could be the white girlfriend Marcy, Ned's Aunt Ella thinks so too. Ned was going to make a change in his life and was working hard to learn what was needed to join the Sun Dance. Or could it be Ned's old girlfriend Roseanne or the two Indians he told her to stay away from? Father John and Vicky are at odds with each other. Vicky is hired to protect Marcy but Father John has his doubts about her and Vicky is certain there is a connection with Roseanne. Does the Trickster, Spider have a role in all this, with the twists and turns of the case? Or is it just a single spider web, hiding a truth? As always, Ms. Coel has painted the land for us and fleshed out the haunting characters that inhabit it in a way that only she can. While we read the story we breathe the air and see the sky of the Arapaho. It is truly a different world.
Hooray, a fantasy for real fantasy fiends! With twists and turns worthy of a great magician Red Wolf takes the reader on a breathless journey. Very soon after a devastating war, a six-hundred-year-old ship sets sail for enemy lands. On board is a royal and reluctant bride-to-be. This voyage is supposed to be an attempt at forging a lasting peace. But others on board uncover a conspiracy, someone is after the the Red Wolf, an extremely dangerous artifact. Finding it could mean destruction for both empires if it ends up in the wrong hands. On board this floating city; a stowaway tribe of tiny warriors, a deckhand with a heritage of treason, and a rat who talks. The young bride, the deck-hand and their friends face lethal assassins, nasty mermaids and slavers to uncover secrets and hopefully save their world. From the first page to the last you will find it hard to put down and it will leave you begging for more. Patience – more will come. But you must start with The Red Wolf Conspiracy.
This was my father's war. What's in this book is a lot of what he wouldn't talk about. Yet I knew about a lot of it simply because he was there, in the Pacific, when all this was going on. What I wasn't truly aware of was the level of mistakes that were made. The SNAFUs, the Situation Normal All Fouled Up that went on with so many of the island landings. Much of what I learned about the Pacific war was after I myself became a Marine – but it still wasn't the same because I wasn't there. This book takes you there and no matter how hard you try, you may leave a bit of yourself behind with the men who didn't come home. I cannot think of another book that really makes the island war live. Flags of Our Fathers comes close but The Pacific carries it all the way. There are some things in it you may not like hearing about but they happened and for a reason. As always, war changes those who fight them – good or bad. If you have a love of history and a sense of pride in our fighting men, I recommend this book. It had me riveted from the first page to the last.
Chet is a dog anyone could love -- well as long as you stayed on his good side anyway. Bernie is a P.I. and Chet is his partner. Chet was training to become a police dog; he was the best jumper in his class. Unfortunately that was also his downfall. But no matter, now he's with Bernie and the two of them make a great investigative pair. The really fun part of this mystery is that Chet narrates the story - dog fashion! If he remembers a smell that may be a clue but can't seem to get Bernie to pay attention, well he just may get distracted a bit too and go on to something else. Like wondering why cats catch birds. After all, he never has. Well, cats are just strange anyway. This book is a delight, and I'm keeping my eye out for more.
Truly a murder mystery unlike any you've ever read! It's a brilliant and exciting study of the dichotomy of the friendship of loners living together in one house and trying to remain the way they are -- always. When Cassie Maddox enters this world undercover she does it as Lexie Madison who was part of this odd group of friends and has been murdered. She can do this because Lexie was her old undercover name. And, this dead Lexie looks just like Cassie. So, they tell the friends Lexie hasn't died and Cassie becomes a part of this weird circle of friends because at least one cop is convinced that someone in that house is a killer. Cassie finds it hard to separate herself from Lexie as she became and almost loses herself in a dangerous way to the comfort of always having a place and people who know you well enough to finish your sentences. Dangerous because she isn't really Lexie!
First was Ariel. Ariel who came because of the Change. Now it's thirty years later and Fred lives in a time of magic. It's all he's ever known because he was born after the Change. But his father and others remember the way it used to be; the magic of electricity and mechanical engines. One day the lights just went out; it all stopped working. Fred's friend Yan thinks he can change it back to the way it was. But Yan goes to far and is told to leave Del Mar. Then the Unicorn Ariel, an old friend of Fred's father, arrives telling a tale of death. Death ultimately caused by Yan's magic. Now she, Fred, his father and Yan's father must find Yan and stop him before he destroys the world as it is now. It has to be done because Yan isn't just planning to put it back the way it used to be – at least not completely. Elegy Beach is a wonderful sequel to Ariel. The wait was worth it.
Margaret Coel really knows how to spin a tale. This one has a thread of history running through it that perhaps a few of you may remember from seeing old westerns on TV. I know I remember Tim McCoy with his black clothes and white hat. What I didn't realize was the amount of influence he had on the original silent epoch The Covered Wagon when he enlisted 500 Arapahos and Shoshones to work in the movie. Ms. Coel has woven this history into her tale of one Arapaho who didn't come home from Hollywood. Charlie's great-grandson Kiki tries to find out what really happened. Father John hopes Kiki really is on the straight and narrow now but when he finds Kiki's body in an area where dealers usually meet he has doubts. Then Vicky is approached by a mysterious Arapaho who won't give his name or show himself but hints he may have been Kiki's killer. The story moves back and forth between about 1923 and the present and the thread is easy to follow. But the killer isn't easy to find and as always with Margaret Coel there's a real twist at the end. Did Charlie disappear because of the white woman he was taken with? Or did his best friend put a stop to Charlie's dalliances because of the chance they would all be sent home without the money they all so desperately needed? And what did Kiki find out that got him killed 70 years later?
I had no idea that the beautiful Akita was such an old breed. I did know it came from Japan but it’s thanks to an unusual man that the breed even exists at all. During WWII Morie Sawataishi took in and raised an Akita puppy when most people in Japan were killing them for their pelt and their meat. By the end of the war there were perhaps no more than sixteen left in the country. Morie takes his dogs and his city-born young wife into the snow country of Japan and over the years his passion creates an enduring breed that people all over the world can be proud to own. He rarely shows for money because the dog is more important. He often gives away puppies that someone else would sell for a lot of money because the person he gives it to helped him at some time or has the same passion he has. He is a man of old Japan and is rarely demonstrative with his wife and children but always greets his dogs with shows of affection. He is at his liveliest when drinking sake and talking to others about dogs. Eventually most people realize he’s a good man who has led an extraordinary life because it was the right thing to do. This is a piece of canine history that might have been left in obscurity if not for Martha Sherrill’s wonderful ability to bring Japan, Morie and his dogs to life.
The small town of Union Grove, New York no longer looks to the future eagerly; it's already arrived and it's not what they thought it would be. Transportation is slow and dangerous. They must grow their own food. They have no idea what is happening in the rest of the world. Communication is strictly word-of-mouth and nothing is coming in from the rest of the U.S. although there is a rumor that there is still a president, and he might be somewhere in Minneapolis. I have read a lot of post-apocalyptic novels, and this one is probably one of the best. There were bombs, yes, but a lot of what happened is simply the slow economic erosion of the U.S. and then the world, and now this small town is slowly dying because very few people are really doing anything to keep it alive. It's up to a new group of wanderers and the town's new mayor to try to bring some order and enthusiasm to Union Grove, and it's not easy.
Probably the most popular of Zane Grey's books this tale of a proud woman who stood alone against her church and villains who rustle and stampede her cattle set the tone for western novels. When Lassiter rides in and takes a job with Jane she makes him swear to forsake violence. Eventually she finds she must release him from that vow in order to save everything she loves. I started reading Zane Grey's westerns when I was twelve and I still can see and hear and feel the west as only he could describe it. Don't pass up this book or any of his others because they're westerns. Don't pass them up because you think the writing as old fashioned as the morals of the characters. This is a great book and anyone who enjoys any kind of western should read it and breathe in the dust of the chase and the smell of the purple sage.
If you read Girl With Braided Hair I'm sure you liked it, and that makes Blood Memory a must! This mystery is a stand-alone from Ms. Coel's usual series of tales but she hasn't deserted the Native American theme. Catherine McLeod is an investigative reporter. She's working hard on a story about the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes filing to reclaim twenty-seven million acres of their ancestral land. The elders agreed to speak with her because they consider her one of them. Is her pursuit of this story because she's bent on the truth getting out so the public is aware or does the betrayal at Sand Creek touch something in the Arapaho blood that runs through her veins? And why is someone trying to kill her? Can it be the story -- or is it the serial rapist they are trying to catch? The motive will surprise you and the documents and tales form long ago will touch your heart. The will also make you think!
The boy awoke not knowing where he was, who he was and he couldn't see! The not seeing was fixed but he still had no clues. He did know things – like dampness – but not the voice that spoke to him from the unknown. When Lord Umber and his companions rescue the boy the voice tells them he is called Happenstance. Umber shortens it to Hap. Lord Umber and his friends discover that Hap is really very important to the world. Hap frequently does not understand Umber – and a lot of others often don't either. But Hap does learn to trust him and when he finally learns what is in the note that Lord Umber keeps hidden from him with promises to tell him about it “later” he is overwhelmed. How in the world can a boy who doesn't even know his name expect to save a world? This is a wonderful story of lost cities, sailing vessels that are alive and a marvelous boy with very odd, green eyes! Where will Lord Umber lead this unusual boy and how will he escape whatever is chasing him? Happenstance has been found but will he be able to find himself in time?
Isabel has a perfect life. She's an accomplished novelist and her husband is a brilliant inventor of high-tech games. Even after five years of marriage there is still romance in their relationship. Then one morning he tells her he loves her, goes to work, and completely disappears! People she thought she knew are not telling her what she needs to know. The FBI have taken over her husband's business. And then she finds out that the Marcus she married was dead – long dead! Isabel needs answers and she puts her life on the line to find them. Pick this up at your peril. You may not get any sleep if you start it in the evening – it's much too exciting to put down before you reach the end!