The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Title: The Complaints (Malcolm Fox Series #1), Author: Ian Rankin The Complaints.  Finished audio 1-14-20, 4/5 stars, mystery, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Peter Forbes.

Book 1 in the Malcom Fox series

Nobody likes The Complaints–they’re the cops who investigate other cops. It’s a department known within the force as “The Dark Side,” and it’s where Malcolm Fox works. He’s a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship, frustrating problems about which he cannot seem to do anything.   from Goodreads

Fox is a good cop who investigates bad cops, so imagine his surprise when someone turns the table and suddenly he’s on the wrong side.  He finds himself sympathetic to the suspected and at the same time goes too far in helping his sister, enough so that he is the one under suspicion.  Fox brings a sense of good even when you aren’t sure he’s doing the right thing, you trust him but you’re not sure why.  Maybe some of the trust you feel is because of his relationships with his father and sister.  Both relationships strain for different reasons and yet Fox never wavers in his attitude toward them.  A good solid read for lovers of Scottish mysteries or police procedurals.

I picked up this book at our library sale because it was Ian Rankin (my most read author last year) and the book was in brand new condition.  I started it thinking it was a standalone.  Turns out it’s the first of a new character who will eventually share books with Rankin’s other series with John Rebus.  I’ll probably read more with Rebus first because he has more books before the two characters meet, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it connected to a series I already love.

I recommend anything that Rankin writes 🙂

The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley

Title: The Clergyman's Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel, Author: Molly Greeley Clergyman’s Wife.  Finished 12-17-19, 4/5 stars, Pride and Prejudice story, pub. 2019

Charlotte Collins, nee Lucas, is the respectable wife of Hunsford’s vicar, and sees to her duties by rote: keeping house, caring for their adorable daughter, visiting parishioners, and patiently tolerating the lectures of her awkward husband and his condescending patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Intelligent, pragmatic, and anxious to escape the shame of spinsterhood, Charlotte chose this life, an inevitable one so socially acceptable that its quietness threatens to overwhelm her. Then she makes the acquaintance of Mr. Travis, a local farmer and tenant of Lady Catherine..

In Mr. Travis’ company, Charlotte feels appreciated, heard, and seen. For the first time in her life, Charlotte begins to understand emotional intimacy and its effect on the heart—and how breakable that heart can be. With her sensible nature confronted, and her own future about to take a turn, Charlotte must now question the role of love and passion in a woman’s life, and whether they truly matter for a clergyman’s wife.   from Goodreads

I feel like I know the characters from Pride and Prejudice fairly well and I was so happy that this continuation felt like Charlotte.  This was beautifully written and Greeley  got the story and tone exactly right for the practical Charlotte.  The other returning players, especially Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine, were well within character.  We caught a few glimpses of the late parents of Mr. Collins, but for the most part his absurdity remained intact.

Charlotte knew she was choosing a life as the wife of a vicar because it was the best she could hope for at the age of 27, but as the years went on she never felt particularly suited for it.  She lost a child at childbirth and now had a young daughter, Louisa, who took up her time.  Then she strikes a friendship with Mr. Travis, an emotionally charged friendship and she comes into her own under his warm eyes.

This was a nice, sweet read.  I’m so glad that I got to know Charlotte a bit better and look forward to reading more from Greeley since this was her first novel.  Well done.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for getting this book in my hands.  I’ll leave  you with a passage I enjoyed,

“Though I am nowhere near as intrepid a walker as my friend Elizabeth, I feel pulled outside on days such as this, when I wake to the stifling closeness of the parsonage walls; to William’s snores and his heavy arm pinning me in place against the mattress.  In my own home, and at Rosings Park, I often feel diminished.  Out here, though, I also feel small, it is in the best sense of the word.  I am part of the world here, humbled and expanded all at once.”  Chapter 4

The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi

Title: The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom, Author: Carol Kelly-Gangi The Dalai Lama. Finished 9-30-19, 4/5 stars, 122 pages, pub. 2007

The Dalai Lama: His Essential Wisdom is a collection of hundreds of inspiring quotations from His Holiness. The selections are drawn largely from his writings, teachings, interviews, speeches, and other statements made during the course of his more than forty-eight years as the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

In these excerpts, the Dalai Lama reflects with wisdom that is both profound and down to earth upon the need for compassion and kindness, the search for happiness, the way to peace, the meaning of pain and suffering, the role of religion, the power of meditation, and the challenges of life in the modern world. In other selections, His Holiness recalls his singular childhood and the turmoil surrounding the Communist takeover of Tibet.

Brimming with warmth, humor, and practical advice, the selections gathered here powerfully illuminate why His Holiness the Dalai Lama is beloved the world over for his timeless wisdom for all humanity.   from Goodreads

The book starts with a four page introduction, which introduced the the contextual history of this, the 14th Dalai Lama.  The last few pages are the chronology of the man through 2006, when the book went to print.  The bulk of the book are chapters (compassion, love, kindness & friendship, happiness, environment…) full of his own words taken from his speeches or writings.  The first few chapters are about the teachings of Buddhism and his own path to being the leader.  Many places in the book he talks about the responsibility he feels for Tibet, his home that he cannot return to because of the Chinese government.  There is a lot of wisdom here and I enjoyed it very much.  If only enlightenment could be found in a book we’d all be better off, but this is the next best thing.  I look forward to picking it up again in the future.  Highly recommended.


F is for Fugitive and G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Title: F Is for Fugitive (Kinsey Millhone Series #6), Author: Sue Grafton F Is For Fugitive. Finished 6-13-19, mystery, pub. 1989

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Floral Beach wasn’t much of a town: six streets long and three deep, its only notable feature a strip of sand fronting the Pacific. It was on that sandy beach seventeen years ago that the strangled body of Jean Timberlake had been found.

And then, by sheer fluke, the cops stumbled on Bailey Fowler. And a case seventeen years dead came murderously to life again.

For Royce Fowler, old and sick with not much time left, his son’s reappearance was the chance to heal an old wound. For Kinsey Millhone, the case was a long shot, but she agreed to take it on. She couldn’t know then it would lead her to probe the passions buried just below the surface of family relations, where old wounds fester and the most cherished emotions become warped until they fuse into deadly, soul-destroying time bombs.    from Goodreads

A cold, cold case and private eye Kinsey Millhone on the case?  Makes for some fun reading.  This one had a very ominous feel with the super creepy family that Kinsey was hired by and living with and the way the town viewed the dead girl with a bit of fear.  Floral Beach is not somewhere I’m adding to my travel list!

Title: G Is for Gumshoe (Kinsey Millhone Series #7), Author: Sue Grafton G Is For Gumshoe. Finished 9-29-19, mystery, pub. 1990

Kinsey Millhone series 1-A is for Alibi, 2-B is for Burglar, 3- C is for Corpse, 4- D is for Deadbeat  5-E is for Evidence

Good and bad things seem to be coming in threes for Kinsey Millhone: on her thirty-third birthday she moves back into her renovated apartment, gets hired to find an elderly lady supposedly living in the Mojave Desert by herself, and makes the top of ex-con Tyrone Patty’s hit list. It’s the last that convinces Kinsey even she can’t handle whoever’s been hired to whack her, and she gets herself a bodyguard: Robert Dietz, a Porsche-driving P.I. who takes guarding Kinsey’s body very seriously. With Dietz watching her for the merest sign of her usual recklessness, Kinsey plunges into her case. And before it’s over, she’ll unearth the gruesome truth about a long-buried betrayal and, in the process, come fact-to-face with her own mortality. . .    from Goodreads 

I’m enjoying this series the further along I get.  Kinsey moves back into her newly remodeled apartment just in time for a death threat and a need to hire a bodyguard.  She also takes a case that gets her out of town for a bit, but that doesn’t stop the attempt on her life.  There’s a mystery spanning a generation and a bit of romance with a solid (and single!) guy.  Can’t wait to continue on with more Kinsey adventures.

Ohio Presidents: A Whig and Seven Republicans by Dale Thomas

Title: Ohio Presidents: A Whig and Seven Republicans, Author: Dale Thomas Ohio Presidents. Finished 9-17-19. rating 4/5, history, 128 pages, pub. 2019

Eight presidents have roots in Ohio, where today these communities take pride in their heritage. William Henry Harrison, a Whig, served the shortest period of time as any president, but his legacy is the campaign strategy of 1840. Northern Whigs formed the Republican Party in 1854. After the Civil War, Ohio became a swing state for the party in presidential elections.

Ulysses S. Grant’s exceptional leadership in the Civil War contrasted with his problems as president. Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction policies but could not protect the civil rights of African Americans in the South. James A. Garfield died from a gunshot fired by a disappointed office seeker. His death led to the first civil service laws. Benjamin Harrison’s administration included policies to improve the Navy and economy, but he failed to win re-election. William McKinley won election to the White House, campaigning for conservative policies. He led the nation into the Spanish American War. An anarchist assassinated him, and Theodore Roosevelt became president. Serving two terms, Roosevelt wanted William H. Taft to succeed him as president. He soon criticized Taft for being too conservative. In spite of scandals in his administration, Warren G. Harding had important accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs.   from Goodreads

Ohio is second only to Virginia with number of Presidents it’s produced.  Interestingly, only eight U.S. Presidents have died in office and four of them were from Ohio.  The shortest tenure of any President was William Henry Harrison who fell ill three weeks after inauguration and was dead by day 32.  He was the oldest person to hold the office at 68 years until Ronald Reagan, 1841-1980 is a pretty big gap.  James A. Garfield was assassinated and died at only 6 1/2 months in office.  William McKinley was shot six months into his second term and is considered Ohio’s most successful President.  Warren G. Harding made it two years before dying of a heart attack.

We live within a hour of three presidential libraries and this year I’ve taken Gage and my mother to two.  We’ve visited the memorial of a third, but not his library yet.  The log house he grew up in is less than 10 minutes down the road from us.  Look at that run of three Ohio Presidents in a row!

9- William Henry Harrison 1841

18- Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1977

19- Rutherford B Hayes 1877-1881

20- James A Garfield 1881

25- William McKinley 1897-1901

27- William H Taft 1908-1913

29- Warren G Harding 1921-1923

This book was full of lots of great photos and relevant information put together in a very visually appealing way.  It’s amazing what he packed into this 128 page book.  I loved it.  I actually picked it up at the McKinley Presidential Library this summer.  Fun for those interested in presidential or Ohio history.

Some photos of our recent trips…

IMG_5563This is a replica of Garfield’s childhood home where it stood in Moreland Hills.  We drive by it all the time, but stopped for a pic in March.

The McKinley Museum in Canton is huge and by far the most kid friendly.  We spent all day there in July.

The Hayes Museum and Home in Fremont was wonderful.  It sits on 25 beautifully planned and maintained acres.  The museum is full of artifacts and the house (where he lived after his term in office) tour is interesting and educational.  I wish we’d had more time during our November visit.


Lucas Davenport #28 & #29

I love John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport series.  I’ve read them all, in order.  1- Rules of Prey, 2- Shadow Prey, 3- Eyes of Prey, 4- Silent Prey, 5- Winter Prey, 6- Night Prey, 7- Mind Prey, 8- Sudden Prey, 9- Secret Prey, 10- Certain Prey, 11-Easy Prey, 12- Chosen Prey, 13- Mortal Prey, 14- Naken Prey, 15- Hidden Prey, 16- Broken Prey, 17- Invisible Prey, 18- Phantom Prey, 19- Wicked Prey, 20– Storm Prey, 21- Buried Prey, 22-Stolen Prey, 23-Silken Prey, 24-Field of Prey, 25-Gathering Prey, 26-Extreme Prey  27-Golden Prey

Lucas Daveport has evolved over the years.  Since we first met him as a Minneapolis detective he has climbed the career ladder to federal marshal and happily married man and father.  An he’s still a badass.  There was a TV movie that had Mark Harmon playing Lucas and while I love Harmon I’m not sure he quite fits the character.  I’ll have to think on it.

Title: Twisted Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #28), Author: John Sandford Twisted Prey. Finished 9-18-19, thriller. 4.5/5 stars, pub. 2018

Lucas Davenport had crossed paths with her before.

A rich psychopath, Taryn Grant had run successfully for the U.S. Senate, where Lucas had predicted she’d fit right in. He was also convinced that she’d been responsible for three murders, though he’d never been able to prove it. Once a psychopath had gotten that kind of rush, though, he or she often needed another fix, so he figured he might be seeing her again.

He was right. A federal marshal now, with a very wide scope of investigation, he’s heard rumors that Grant has found her seat on the Senate intelligence committee, and the contacts she’s made from it, to be very…useful. Pinning those rumors down was likely to be just as difficult as before, and considerably more dangerous.   from Goodreads

Oh, how I loved a new tangle with a great foe in Taryn Grant.  The woman is diabolical and Lucas has his work cut out for him.  I also loved the two fellow Marshals Rae and Bob who have shown up before.  This was a good one!

Title: Neon Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #29), Author: John Sandford Neon Prey. Finished 11-22-19, thriller, 4/5 stars, pub. 2019

It was a relatively minor criminal matter, all things considered, but enough that the US Marshals obtained a warrant to enter the home. They didn’t expect to unearth trophies from a score of killings.

Now Davenport is on the trail of a serial murderer, one who was able to operate for years without notice or suspicion. But there’s even more to this killer than meets the eye…   from Goodreads

This was another solid Davenport story.  Feds Rae and Bob showed up again and Lucas get shot.  There’s a cannibal who grills his victims on the loose and he’s got himself a posse.  Good stuff 🙂

If you like police procedurals you should be reading this series.  Great insight and writing.



The Cutting Edge by Jeffery Deaver and Lincoln Rhyme coming to the small screen

Title: The Cutting Edge (Lincoln Rhyme Series #14), Author: Jeffery Deaver The Cutting Edge. Finished 8-30-19, 4/5 stars, thriller, pub. 2018

Book 14 of the Lincoln Rhyme series (1st-The Bone Collector, 2nd- The Coffin Dancer, 3rd- The Empty Chair, 4th- The Stone Monkey, 5th- The Vanished Man, 6th- The Twelfth Card, 7th- The Cold Moon, 8th- The Broken Window 9th- The Burning Wire, 10th-The Kill Room 11-The Skin Collector, 12-The Steel Kiss, 13-The Burial Hour)

In the early hours of a quiet, weekend morning in Manhattan’s Diamond District, a brutal triple murder shocks the city. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs quickly take the case. Curiously, the killer has left behind a half-million dollars’ worth of gems at the murder scene, a jewelry store on 47th street. As more crimes follow, it becomes clear that the killer’s target is not gems, but engaged couples themselves.

Soon the Promiser makes a dangerous mistake: leaving behind an innocent witness, Vimal Lahori, a talented young diamond cutter, who can help Rhyme and Sachs blow the lid off the case. They must track down Vimal before the killer can correct his fatal error.         from Goodreads

Lincoln Rhyme was a brilliant criminologist for the NYPD until he was injured in the line of duty.  He became a quadriplegic, but thanks to his skills the NYPD still goes to him for high profile cases.  And sometimes when they don’t he seeks them out himself which is how he found himself using a backdoor to get on the Promiser case.

I really liked this latest addition to the series.  It was set in New York’s diamond district so I learned about a new area of the city and diamond cutting.  There was more than one mystery going on and it looked like they were never going to intersect, but of course they did (not gonna tell you how!)

I saw The Bone Collector movie with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie before I started this series and this is what I said after reading the first book.

My only other issue is that I have a copy of the book with Denzel on the front, so that’s how I’m picturing Rhyme, but it is clear in the book that Rhyme is not black.  I think Sachs said at one point that he looked like Robert DeNiro.  I like picturing Rhyme as Denzel (who wouldn’t?),  but when repeated references were made to his white skin it threw my mental picture off.  (here)

I have learned to ignore references to his whiteness and continue picturing him as Denzel and I guess that’s what the casting director went with in the new Lincoln Rhyme series coming out in January.  Take a look.

So, what do you think?  I’ll probably give it a try.   What about you?

Continuing with two romance series

I love a good romance.  In my younger years they were often the bulk of what I read outside of school.  My tastes have evolved to include more genres (okay, okay, pretty much all genres) but I still partake in a good romance to clean my reading palette.

Title: Anything for You (Blue Heron Series #5), Author: Kristan Higgins Anything For You. Finished 9-16-19, 3.5/5 stars, romance, 408 pages, pub. 2015

This is the 5th and I think final book in the Blue Heron series.  1-The Best Man, 2- The Perfect Match, 3-Waiting on You, 4-In Your Dreams

For ten years, Connor O’Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she’s got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it’s the perfect time to get married.

When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who’s now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. 

But this time, Connor says it’s all or nothing. If she doesn’t want to marry him, he’ll find someone who does.  from Goodreads

I loved this series so much and was a little disappointed in this finale.  We know Connor and Jessica because they show up in all of the other Manningsport books, but somehow I never really fell in love with either of them.  I really liked the depiction of Jessica’s life as she took over care of her adult brother with autism, so maybe there was just a touch too much reality in it for me?  I liked it okay, just not as much as the rest of the series.  I’m sad to say goodbye to the Blue Heron Winery.

Title: Devil's Daughter: The Ravenels meet The Wallflowers, Author: Lisa Kleypas Devil’s Daughter. Finished 9-12-19, 4/5 stars, historical romance, pub. 2019

Unabridged audio read by Mary Jane Wells, 9  hours.

The newest book in the Ravenels series.  1-Cold-Hearted Rake, 2-Marrying Winterborne, 3-Devil in Spring, 4-Hello Stranger

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.   from Goodreads

First, let’s admire the cover.  The covers for this series are all so beautiful.  I want all of the dresses, even if they just hang in my closet to admire.  Okay, on to the nice surprise, the books are just as good!  I love this series about the Ravenel family.  Well, I did have issues with the last one so I was even more excited to see that this one was back on track.  I’ve been hoping for a nice match for West since day one and it’s nice to see him finally fall for someone and a widow with small children at that.

This is a Wildflowers book too, but I haven’t read that series.  It wasn’t really necessary to enjoy this one.  Although you could this series out of order I wouldn’t.  Start with Cold-Hearted Rake if you enjoy 19th century English romances.


The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Shadowy Horses, Author: Susanna Kearsley The Shadowy Horses. Finished 10-10-19, 4/5 stars, fiction, pub. 1997

Archaeologist Verity Grey is thrilled by the challenge of uncovering an ancient Roman campsite in a small Scottish village. But as soon as she arrives, she senses danger in the air. Her eccentric boss, Peter Quinnell, has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he’s finally found it – not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has ‘seen’ a Roman soldier walking in the fields.  from Goodreads

I fell in love with Susanna Kearsley’s storytelling with The Winter Sea which connected to The Firebird which is connected to this one.  They are all standalones, but you’ll recognize the Roman soldiers from this one in The Winter Sea and Robbie from this book appears all grown up in The Firebird.  Just go ahead and read them all (you know you want to).

Verity makes a temporary move from London to Eyemouth, Scotland, a border town with a rich history.  She is to help find evidence that the famed Ninth Roman Legion had been there.  Archeological digs are not that exciting when they’re just starting out, so the slower pace allows Verity to get a feel for the new place and the new people who will feel like family before all is said and done. While most of Kearsley’s stories have contained dual story lines, one in the past and one in the present, this one was different with just a modern story and one active ghost.

Kearsley is one of my favorites. I always enjoy the trip into her magical worlds. This one had history, mystery, danger, just a touch of romance, and some paranormal shenanigans. Do yourself a favor and give her a try.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Title: Sarah, Plain and Tall, Author: Patricia MacLachlan Sarah, Plain and Tall.  Finished 9-19-19, 4.25/5 stars, kids classic, pub. 1985

Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna’s point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?

This children’s literature classic is perfect for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books, historical fiction, and timeless stories using rich and beautiful language. Sarah, Plain and Tall gently explores themes of abandonment, loss and love.    from Goodreads

I picked up this Newbery Award winner because I needed some short classics for my challenge and I’m so happy that I did.  It gave me all of the feels of a different place and time and tugged at the motherly heartstrings.  I’m a city girl, always have been.  I like being surrounded by trees and neighbors and within walking distance to something social.  This book took me to a different place, a lonely yet beautiful place, where you only need a loving family and a bail of hay to make happy memories.

I had no idea until I finished that there are four more books about this sweet family and I’m looking forward to checking them out.  They are easy enough to read to Gage fairly quickly so I may give that a try too.

Loved this short kids classic and it’s   my 31th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50. (Yes, I realize this is not going to happen, but I’m still pretending I can do it :))