Book Review: Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Mind of Winter By Laura Kasischke

Mind of Winter: What it is about

From the publishers: “On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens with the fragments of a nightmare floating on the edge of her consciousness. Something followed them from Russia. Thirteen years ago, she and her husband Eric adopted baby Tatty, their pretty, black-haired Rapunzel, from the Pokrovka Orphanage #2. Now, at fifteen, Tatiana is more beautiful than ever—and disturbingly erratic.

As a blizzard rages outside, Holly and Tatiana are alone. With each passing hour, Tatiana’s mood darkens, and her behavior becomes increasingly frightening . . . until Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.”

Mind of Winter: What I thought

This was a really spooky novel, although not really a thriller. It starts more or less with Holly waking and thinking, Something followed them from Russia. She wants to write this down but she doesn’t have the time. It’s Christmas morning and she overslept. Her husband is picking up his parents from the airport and Holly is at home with their teenage daughter.

The weather soon turns from a bit of snow into a dangerous blizzard. It seems… strange. No snow was even forecast! And then there is something with Tatiana, her daughter. She keeps changing her outfit and her mood. One moment she’s nice, the next she is a terrible teenager. I got a bit frightened by Tatiana, who turns up behind Holly a few times at moments when Holly thinks she’s sulking in her bedroom.

Tatiana was adopted from a Siberian orphanage but what could it be that followed them home from Russia thirteen years ago? Why didn’t they notice before and why is Holly even thinking this?

The book describes just one Christmas mid-morning and afternoon but is never slow. There are a lot of flashbacks to the orphanage and Holly and her husband’s vists there before they took Tatiana home. At first, it isn’t clear why the reader needs all the information about the orphanage but that becomes quite clear towards the end of the book. Don’t read the last page first, it reveals a lot!

I loved this spooky read. If you like a literary novel with some suspense, this is a great read.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)

Number of pages: 288

First published: 2014

I got this: from the publishers, Harper

Genre: contemporary fiction


New Books…

I received some new books recently. The ones for review will be read soon, but the others? What do you think? Are they worth putting at the top of the reading pile?


The Book of You by Claire Kendal

The Book of You by Claire Kendal

For review from Harper.

The publisher says: “His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go.

Clarissa’s only escape from this harrowing nightmare is inside a courtroom—where she is a juror on a trial involving a victim whose experiences eerily parallel her own. There she finds some peace and even makes new friends, including an attractive widower named Robert, whose caring attentions make her feel desired and safe. But as a disturbingly violent crime unfolds in the courtroom, Clarissa realizes that to survive she must expose Rafe herself. Conceiving a plan, she begins collecting the evidence of Rafe’s madness to use against him—a record of terror that will force her to relive every excruciating moment she desperately wants to forget. Proof that will reveal the twisted, macabre fairy tale that Rafe has spun around them . . . with an ending more horrifying than her darkest fears.”


A case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

A case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

I won this book with the amazing title from Nishita of Nishita’s Rants and Raves in the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. It sounds like an interesting read for sure!

The publisher says: “Intrigue and subterfuge combine with bad luck and good in this darkly comic debut about love, betrayal, tyranny, family, and a conspiracy trying its damnedest to happen.

Ali Shigri, Pakistan Air Force pilot and Silent Drill Commander of the Fury Squadron, is on a mission to avenge his father’s suspicious death, which the government calls a suicide.Ali’s target is none other than General Zia ul-Haq, dictator of Pakistani. Enlisting a rag-tag group of conspirators, including his cologne-bathed roommate, a hash-smoking American lieutenant, and a mango-besotted crow, Ali sets his elaborate plan in motion. There’s only one problem: the line of would-be Zia assassins is longer than he could have possibly known.”


The Home Place by Carry la Seur

The Home Place by Carry La Seur

For review from William Morrow via Edelweiss (ebook).

The publisher says: “The only Terrebonne who made it out, Alma thought she was done with Montana, with its bleak winters and stifling ways. But an unexpected call from the local police takes the successful lawyer back to her provincial hometown and pulls her into the family trouble she thought she’d left far behind: Her lying, party-loving sister, Vicky, is dead. Alma is told that a very drunk Vicky had wandered away from a party and died of exposure after a night in the brutal cold. But when Alma returns home to bury Vicky and see to her orphaned niece, she discovers that the death may not have been an accident.

The Home Place is a story of secrets that will not lie still, human bonds that will not break, and crippling memories that will not be silenced. It is a story of rural towns and runaways, of tensions corporate and racial, of childhood trauma and adolescent betrayal, and of the guilt that even forgiveness cannot ease. Most of all, this is a story of the place we carry in us always: home.”


All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

For review from Knopf publishers.

The publisher says: “Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rain and battering wind. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wants it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sounds a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, and rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is also Jake’s past, hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present. With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.”


The Painter by Peter Heller

The Painter by Peter Heller

For review from Knopf publishers. After reading The Dog Stars, which I very much enjoyed, I am really curious about this new book by Peter Heller.

The publisher says: “Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.

A stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief, The Painter is the story of a man who longs to transcend the shadows in his heart, a man intent on using the losses he has suffered to create a meaningful life.”


Bred in the Bone by Christopher Brookmyre

Bred to the Bone by Christopher Brookmyre

A review book via Edelweiss (Ebook). I have already reviewed this mystery/thriller (4 stars) HERE.


The Silver Dark Sea by Susan Fletcher

The Silver Dark Sea by Susan Fletcher

We’re reading this for my book group next week. I got my copy from the library.

Amazon says: “A profound tale of love, loss and the lore of the sea.

The islanders of Parla are still mourning the loss of one of their own. Four years since that loss, and a man – un-named, unclothed – is washed onto their shores. Some say he is a mythical man from the sea – potent, kind and beautiful; others suspect him. For the bereft Maggie, this stranger brings love back to the isle. But as the days pass he changes every one of them – and the time comes for his story to be told…

Tender, lyrical and redemptive, THE SILVER DARK SEA is the dazzling new novel from the author of EVE GREEN (winner of Whitbred First Novel award) and WITCH LIGHT. It is a story about what life can give and take from us, when we least expect it – and how love, in all its forms, is the greatest gift of all.”


What should I read first?

Book Review: The Sweetness of Liberty James by Janey Lewis (DNF)

The Sweetness of Liberty James by Janey LewisThe Sweetness of Liberty James: What it is about

From the publishers: “Sweet-natured Liberty believes the recipe for her own happiness is making others happy, and she sets about gathering the ingredients for the perfect life. She does well at school, makes glamorous friends and marries her university sweetheart Percy, the heir to the Radley Bank fortune. Now all that’s missing is the icing on the cake: a baby.

When a traumatic event changes everything, she finds herself on a journey to rediscover her love of food that takes her from Florence to the French Riviera and finally back home to the Sussex village of Littlehurst, with a crazy plan to open her own patisserie. With flirtatious Fred the blacksmith and the dark, brooding Edmund on her doorstep, will she finally find that elusive ingredient: love?”

The Sweetness of Liberty James: What I thought

Let’s start at the end: I never got there. I read about half of the book and then I’d had enough. The reason: the book is too nice. Everything goes well for Liberty, except near the beginning, when her marriage goes wrong. But other than that, she has everything going for her. She wants to set up her own café, and hey, her mother helps her out getting sorted, the café premises are easily found (and paid for by Liberty’s liberal savings). She finds a lovely house to live in, buys it without too many glitches and she has a whole community of friends and family and villagers to support her. It’s wonderful!

But with all that, Liberty didn’t need me, the reader, to root for her. It went all a bit too smoothly for her. So I was happy to let her loose to find her own way in life. I know she’ll get there! I really don’t have to worry about her, so I decided I wouldn’t and move on.

There were also certain things I didn’t understand, such as: what was the use of Liberty first losing her sense of smell and taste and later recovering it again (without much fanfare being made out of this great recovery), why did her husband take her to Florence, why did her childhood friend Savannah know absolutely nothing about Liberty’s current life even though their parents lived in the same village? Not everything in this book added up for me.

What I really liked about the book were the descriptions of the village and of Florence where she goes for a short holiday with her husband. The atmosphere is so well described, in both cases, it felt very much as if I was present myself.

I would have liked things to be a bit more difficult for Liberty so the story wasn’t quite so sweet. And had the book been around half the size it was, I’d happily read until the end.

Rating: DNF (Did Not Finish)

Number of pages: 512 (I read until page 240)

First published: 2014

I got this: from the publishers, The Book Guild, for review

Genre: contemporary fiction

Book Review: Bred in the Bone by Christopher Brookmyre

Bred in the Bone by Christopher Brookmyre

Bred in the Bone: What it is about

From the publishers: “Bred in the Bone is the stunning third novel in Brookmyre’s series featuring private investigator Jasmine Sharp and Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod. Set in the grisly underworld of Glasgow—a place where countless old scores are always waiting to be settled—Bred in the Bone is a masterful mystery novel that will appeal to readers of Denise Mina, Val McDermid, and Ian Rankin.

In Bred in the Bone, the murder of big-time Scottish gangster Stevie Fullerton leads to unexpected consequences for Jasmine and Catherine. Jasmine’s father was murdered before her birth, and when his killer, Glen Fallan, is arrested in connection with Fullerton’s death, she is forced to confront the criminal realities of the world from which she has sprung. Meanwhile, Catherine McLeod has one major Glaswegian gangster in the mortuary and another in the cells for killing him—which ought to be cause for celebration. But she is not smiling. From the moment she discovered a symbol daubed on the victim’s head, she has understood that this case is far more dangerous than it appears on the surface, something that could threaten her family and end her career.”

Bred in the Bone: What I thought

I’ve read a few books by this writer. This is the third in a series but it can easily be read if you don’t know the first two books. I read the first book in the series as well, Where the Bodies Are Buried, but not the second one.

I liked this book a lot. It takes place in Glasgow where everyone seems to know each other. At least, the police and the criminals know each other very well, and, actually, there is an amount of overlap between the two groups.

Jasmine is a private detective who finds herself investigating the same set of gangsters as Catherine, a police officer. There is a lot going on, such as Jasmine’s protector, Glen, being arrested. But the case baffles them: is he really the killer of Stevie Fullerton? It seems unlikely. The women get more and more involved in the case. Catherine at a psychological level and Jasmine on a physical level.

The book does not contain much bloody detail, but will teach you how to kill someone with just one thumb – if you have the guts. :-)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 416

First published: 2013

I got this: from the publishers via Netgalley (ebook)

Genre: thriller



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