15 December 2017

Friday Meets 15 December 2017

Image result for funny scrooge memesHow many Fridays do we have left? Before Christmas? After Christmas? I am seriously suffering from a bit of Scrooge syndrome the past couple of weeks. In more ways than one. Some good, some bad. But I do believe it is Friday and that means we can talk books. I can still do that. 

Meet me on Friday @ Friday 56 for a bit of Book Blogger Hop to kick-start the weekend with Book Beginnings

12 December 2017

Top Ten Favorite Books for 2017

Image result for scrooge readingThe year is just about at an end and not to sound like Scrooge, but bah humbug to that. Not that I am ungrateful, in fact I am extremely grateful to join The Broke and the Bookish once again for Top Ten Tuesday and that I managed to read more than 10 books this year so that I can at least make a selection of my Ten Favorite Books for 2017. 

As with most books, my selection is strictly based on personal experiences. None of my favorites for 2017 are actually published in 2017. In fact I have two books on my list that were published in the previous century! But that is the wonder of books and the magic of reading. It is always in the present tense the moment you open the book. 

I don't really have an ascending order from most favorite to least favorite list for this year. Each of the books listed meant something to me through a really tough year. Let's have a quick look at the books that made my list: 

28 October 2017

Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

34638913Title: Queen of Spades
Author: Michael Shou-Yung Shum
Published by: Forest Avenue Press
Publication date: 10 October 2017 
Genre: General Fiction, Suspense
ISBN:  19424363319
Mareli's rating: 3.5 stars
Recommend to: If you have a gambling problem - stay clear. This book reveals the 'magic' of a casino and the luck of the card. 
Description: Queen of Spades revamps the classic Pushkin fable of the same name, transplanted to a mysterious Seattle-area casino populated by a pit boss with six months to live, a dealer obsessing over the mysterious methods of an elderly customer known as the Countess, and a recovering gambler who finds herself trapped in a cultish twelve-step program. With a breathtaking climax that rivals the best Hong Kong gambling movies, Michael Shou-Yung Shum’s debut novel delivers the thrilling highs and lows that come when we cede control of our futures to the roll of the dice and the turn of a card. Forest Avenue Press

"We can never know anything for sure", the Countess replied. "for what we speak of is gambling"

What an intriguing tale involving gambling, casinos, card dealing, taking high stake chances and card games I never even heard of......I'm still not much the wiser, but I was mesmerized by the magical and oh so addictive turn of the cards. 

Hard to believe that this was Michael Shou-Yung Shum's debut novel. But if you take a look at his life story (so far), this man sure has some delightful tales to tell:

 Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Michael Shou-Yung Shum eventually found himself dealing poker in a dead-end casino in Lake Stevens, Washington. Two doctorates bookend this strange turn of events: the first in Psychology from Northwestern, and the second in English from University of Tennessee. Along the way, Michael spent a dozen years in Chicago, touring the country as a rave DJ. (Forest Avenue Press)

It's thus safe to assume that many aspects in this novel was based on the author's vast knowledge of gambling and all its contingencies. It also revamps the classic Pushkin fable of the same name. I haven't read any of the Pushkin's stories myself, but Google has and according to my trusted friend, the essential premise does stay the same: An obsessed gambler; a mysterious but ridiculously old Countess; and a fatal game of faro.

Image result for faro card game  Related image
 Image result for faro card game

The book is also a much longer version than the original short story by Pushkin, dealing with more characters and a far more intriguing plot. Such wonderful characters we met in and around the Royal Casino. Some had a sad, lost and hopeless feel around them. The only thing that gave meaning to their lives were the thrill of winning and the luck of the draw. Inside the casino, or on the racetracks, or standing in line to buy a lotto ticket - turned these characters into winners and royalty. The risk of losing hardly ever occurs, until the reality of loss hits them. 

I know next to nothing about cards and casinos, but I was definitely swept up in the magic of that ultimate faro game. (Trivia: I honestly never would have thought that dealers like gambling as well.)

Queen of Spades is one of those food for thought books. A quick,enjoyable read that lingers for a couple of days. I will recommend this one to just about everybody. Unless you have a gambling problem. It might be better to stay clear. 

Thanks again to the lovely Laura Stanfill for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of this novel. Much appreciated! 


28 August 2017

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

28233082Title: The Girl in the Ice
Author: Robert Bryndza
Published by: Bookouture
Publication date: February 2016
Read: August 24 - 27, 2017
Genre: Mystery; Thriller
Pages: 396 (kindle edition)
Series: Detective Erika Foster #1
Mareli's rating: 2.5 stars
Recommend to: Readers of fast paced thrillers. Or if you watch crime series with female detectives, you might like this one as well.
Description: When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation. The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding? As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika. The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?
A page-turning thriller packed with suspense. If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter, discover Robert Bryndza’s new series today. 
Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster. Goodreads

Like most other avid Goodreads followers, I consider the annual Goodreads Choice awards as a treasure map for the next year's list of good reads. The 4 and 5 star ratings.  So how is it possible that my rating for The Girl in the Ice came in below the majority? Let's think about it - The Girl in the Ice has all the trimmings that a really good mystery thriller should have:

26 August 2017

Where the sweet bird sings by Ella Joy Olsen

33369334Title: Where the sweet bird sings
Author: Ella Joy Olsen
Published by: Kensington Books
Publication date: 29 August 2017 
Genre: General Fiction
ISBN:  9781496705648
Mareli's rating: 3 stars
Recommend to: Lovers of adult fiction that deals with loss and grief
Description: People respond to tragedy in different ways. Some try to move on. Some don’t move at all. A year after her young son’s death due to a rare genetic disease, Emma Hazelton is still frozen by grief, unable and unwilling to consider her husband Noah’s suggestion that they try to have another child.
As the future Emma once imagined crumbles, her family’s past comes into sharp relief. Searching for the roots of her son’s disease, Emma tries to fit together the pieces in her genealogical puzzle. Hidden within an old wedding photograph of her great-grandparents is an unusual truth Emma never guessed at—a window into all the ways that love can be surprising, generous, and fiercely brave . . . and a discovery that may help her find her own way forward at last. (Netgalley)

17 August 2017

The Memory of Water by J.T. Lawrence

35901776Title: The Memory of Water
Author: J.T. Lawrence

Format: Audiobook (Audible)
Read/listened: August 4 - 9, 2017
Genre: Thriller; Black Humor (is that a genre, or just preferred reading?)
Mareli's rating: 3.5 Stars (loved the story, didn't care for the narration much)
Recommend to: If you find Jay Gatsby an intriguing character, you will have a field-day with Slade Harris
Slade Harris will do anything for a story, including murdering the woman he loves. Slade doesn’t think twice about jumping out of a plane or conducting disastrous love affairs to gather material for his work, but his self-indulgent life is catching up with him. Stumbling through his late thirties hopeless and a little drunk, Slade has a dazzling, dangerous idea which will change his life forever. It’s going to be Slade’s ultimate story ... and all he’s hoping for is to survive it. Goodreads

10 August 2017

Thursday Quotables #7 - A Monster Calls

Image result for A monster Calls

An opening line like that has the same effect on me as: "You had me at hello"..... 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is one of those Russian-doll books.  A gift within a gift that leads to yet another gift. So I just have to share it on Thursday Quotables hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. This weekly feature is the place to highlight a great quote, line, or passage during your past reading week. Whether it's something funny, startling, gut-wrenching or just really written beautifully - this is where you must share! Just remember to link back to bookshelffantasies.com