Moonlight Murder

Moonlight Murder

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Bingo host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Sunday Soup #3


Mushroom barley soup with Agatha Christie!


Ready, set, delicious!

Kindle daily deal
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

This book is on sale for $1.99 today. It sort of looks like the shizz to me, so I thought I would share!


Plot summary:


Crime and punishment, passion and loyalty, betrayal and redemption are only a few of the ingredients in Shantaram, a massive, over-the-top, mostly autobiographical novel. Shantaram is the name given Mr. Lindsay, or Linbaba, the larger-than-life hero. It means "man of God's peace," which is what the Indian people know of Lin. What they do not know is that prior to his arrival in Bombay he escaped from an Australian prison where he had begun serving a 19-year sentence. He served two years and leaped over the wall. He was imprisoned for a string of armed robberies peformed to support his heroin addiction, which started when his marriage fell apart and he lost custody of his daughter. He arrives in Bombay with little money, an assumed name, false papers, an untellable past, and no plans for the future. Fortunately, he meets Prabaker right away, a sweet, smiling man who is a street guide.


He takes to Lin immediately, eventually introducing him to his home village, where they end up living for six months. When they return to Bombay, they take up residence in a sprawling illegal slum of 25,000 people and Linbaba becomes the resident "doctor." With a prison knowledge of first aid and whatever medicines he can cadge from doing trades with the local Mafia, he sets up a practice and is regarded as heaven-sent by these poor people who have nothing but illness, rat bites, dysentery, and anemia. He also meets Karla, an enigmatic Swiss-American woman, with whom he falls in love. Theirs is a complicated relationship, and Karla’s connections are murky from the outset.


Roberts is not reluctant to wax poetic; in fact, some of his prose is downright embarrassing. Throughought the novel, however, all 944 pages of it, every single sentence rings true. He is a tough guy with a tender heart, one capable of what is judged criminal behavior, but a basically decent, intelligent man who would never intentionally hurt anyone, especially anyone he knew. He is a magnet for trouble, a soldier of fortune, a picaresque hero: the rascal who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. His story is irresistible. Stay tuned for the prequel and the sequel.


It's 946 pages long! Holy doorstopper, Batman!

Another idea for an extended buddy read
The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart The Hollow Hills - Mary Stewart

I've noticed a lot of members talking about this series, and either mentioning how much they loved it, or that it has been on their to-be-read list for ages.


I don't think we should try to shoehorn this into October, but once Halloween bingo is over, perhaps an extended buddy read of this series would be fun. The series is:


The Crystal Cave (published 1970)

The Hollow Hills (published 1973)

The Last Enchantment (published 1979)

The Wicked Day (published 1981)

The Prince and the Pilgrim (published 1995)


I have definitely read the first three - I reread The Crystal Cave & The Hollow Hills a few years ago when amazon was selling what might have been an unauthorized version of the first two books under the title Legacy. I did not read past that point. I definitely read The Last Enchantment when it was published, but I don't think I ever read The Wicked Day, and I definitely have not read the most recent book, which was a bit of an afterthought.




The first three books of the series are available on kindle in the U.S. for 4.89 each. All five of the books are in print and available on amazon. I'm not sure what kind of library availability the books would have, but they were incredibly popular when they were originally published. You might be able to locate copies at your local UBS. For the non-US readers, it looks like Book Depository has them in stock!


I think my beginning proposal would be to plan to read the first three books, and to decide at that point if we want to go onto the fourth. From what I can tell, first three books are what is considered to be her "Merlin trilogy," with the five books together making up the "Arthurian Saga." Each book is around 500 pages long.


I would propose that we start November 1, to give everyone a chance to collect the books. That's after the end of Halloween bingo, so it gives us something to look forward to once the big Halloween party is over! I was thinking 2 weeks per book, but don't know if that's long enough! Let me know what you think in the comments.


Let's use the tag: merlin trilogy buddy read for this one! Who's up?

B-I-N-G-O card



Update! One more bingo!


I'm still working on writing up my posts for Falconridge and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I have 18 down, 7 to go!






  1. Vampires vs. Werewolves: Mayhem by Sara Pinborough (9/2/16)
  2. Reads with Booklikes Friends: Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels (9/2/16)
  3. Genre: Mystery: Death In The Tunnel by Miles Burton (9/3/16)
  4. Free Square: The Redbreast by Joe Nesbo (9/3/16)
  5. Creepy Crawlies: Libriomancer by Jim Hines (9/4/16)
  6. Grave or Graveyard: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (9/8/16)
  7. Gothic: Snowfire by Phyllis Whitney (9/8/16)
  8. YA Horror: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (9/8/16)
  9. Scary Women (Authors): Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  10. Set in New England: Maplecroft by Cheri Priest
  11. Fall Into A Good Book: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  12. Supernatural: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  13. Locked Room Mystery: Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
  14. Read by Flashlight or Candlelight: The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  15. Black Cat: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  16. It Was A Dark and Stormy Night: Falconridge by Jennifer Wilde
  17. Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses: The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn
  18. Full Moon: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
3.5 Stars
Quite a departure for Raybourn
The Dead Travel Fast - Deanna Raybourn

Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia series was my favorite historical mystery series for quite a long while, and I was incredibly disappointed when the publisher decided not to continue with the series. I also liked her three books set during the interwar period, which had an interesting tie-in to the Lady Julia series. I'm not sure if there are more of those on the horizon or not.


Her most recent series start, A Curious Beginning, didn't capture me the way that her other books have, but, given that it is Deanna Raybourn, I'm going to hope that it gets stronger in subsequent books.


And then we have this little book, which is markedly different from anything else she has written. The Dead Travel Fast is really a modern romantic homage to Dracula and the gothic romance tradition (in fact, if they had asked me, I would've told them that the book really needed a cover of Theodora running from the Castle Dragulescu. They didn't ask, but, in my estimation, the buxom dark beauty on the cover of this book does a fairly abysmal job making me want to read it).


The book has gotten mixed reviews, in part, probably, because readers bought this book after enjoying Lady Julia, and The Dead Travel Fast is just a bit of a misfit as compared to her other books. For what it was, though, it is an enjoyable read. Theodora is an interesting, albeit anachronistic, Victorian heroine. The mysteries of Castle Dragulescu are creepy, and as far as a gothic romance goes, it hits the marks that I expect to see. The Castle, which is arguably haunted by the strigoi spirit of the recently dead Count Dragulescu, and Transylvania itself are always fine settings for this sort of a tale. The villain is a surprise, and the ending is properly happy. It's not groundbreaking, but it's a pleasant read.


It also fills the Ghost Stories & Haunted Houses Castles square!


Audiobook listen!
Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden

I started listening to this after I finished my relisten of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I have a friend who recommended it to me ages ago!


Wow! It is really riveting. I'm not quite to the halfway point, but I'm totally engaged. I'm trying to decide if I am going to listen to them all, or if I want them for my personal library in paperback. They are available used on amazon & I think my son would like them if I could get him to give them a try!

Updates: Falconridge by Jennifer Wilde
Falconridge - Jennifer Wilde

Several of these gothic romances have been reissued by Open Road Media in kindle format. I bought this one for the low, low price of $3.82, and at 60%, I've already gotten my three bucks worth.


Plot summary:


In Jennifer Wilde’s spine-tingling Gothic romance, a young woman is plunged into a treacherous world of secrets, lies, and murder when she moves into a mysterious mansion by the sea

When Lauren Moore is left penniless by the death of her mother, the invitation to live with distant relatives in Cornwall seems like the answer to her prayers. But Falconridge, perched on the edge of a steep cliff, waves crashing onto the rocks below, is a place of shadowed halls and locked doors. Why does the housekeeper warn Lauren to leave and never come back? What secrets does the house hold?

Most intriguing of all is Norman Wade, Lauren’s cousin by marriage and heir to the brooding ancestral mansion. The devilishly handsome playboy warns her of the perils that could befall her at his home. More determined than ever to stay and unlock Falconridge’s mystery, Lauren begins to suspect that the greatest danger comes from the seductive Wade himself. Then tragedy strikes—and no one is safe.


This one is set in Cornwall, the location that launched a hundred thousand gothic romances, in a mansion called Falconridge. It is described thus:


It was a formidable place, massive in size and beautiful in a rough-hewn, rugged kind of way. It was two stories high, constructed entirely of huge gray stones with a dark green roof. There were many turrets, and many towers, with two huge wings that spread out over the hill. A circular drive of crushed shell led one up to the portico, four flat gray slabs of steps before it. The woods came up almost to the house on the left side, and to the right there were terraces and gardens, all of them untidy and ragged looking and desperately in need of work. I could see a corner of the carriage house, and my uncle told me that there was a courtyard in back. Falconridge perched on the edge of the hill like the bird of prey that gave it its name and behind the house the lawns stretched down to the edge of a cliff that fell sharply down to the rocks and waves below. I could hear the sound of the waves pounding on the rocks as we drove around the drive and up to the portico. The house would never be free of that sound, I thought. It was like the labored breathing of some gigantic monster who constantly watched over the place, waiting for an opportunity to claim it as its own.



Something like this:


7 Mystical Castles And Manors You Must See In Cornwall, England! (7)




So far, our intrepid heroine Lauren has managed to piss off all of the men in the vicinity, whilst managing to avoid an actual rape. Norman Wade, the erstwhile hero - I suspect - did not come off well in their first meeting, where he assaulted her, thinking she was naught but a housemaid.


He took my wrist and pulled me into his arms. He swung me around, holding me casually yet firmly against him. He was grinning as he covered my lips with his own. I tried to struggle, but his arms kept me imprisoned.


He released me, laughing. “There,” he said, “paid in fulll.”


I slapped him across the face as hard as I could. My hand stung with the force of it, but Norman Wade merely laughed. Then he seized me again, cupping his hand about my chin. “That calls for another,” he said, and he kissed me again. Then he let go of me.


I stepped back, biting my lips. My eyes were blazing. I was angry with myself for letting the masquerade go so far, even angrier at Norman Wade for his intolerable conduct.


“Now do you know who I am?” he asked.


“You’re the Devil!” I cried.


“With the ladies, yes. Ask the girls about Norman. Wade. They’ll tell you some pretty stories, lass.” “I’m sure of that!” “La, la, such a temper. Now run along, lass, and you’d better not let me find you on this property again, or the toll will be much dearer, much dearer.”


Nothing says "hero" quite so well as "assaults non-consenting young ladies because he is the lord of the manor." A knee to the testicles would not have gone amiss here (noting that this may be one of the reasons that these gothics have gone out of fashion. Heroes with broken testicles would present an on-going problem for the romantic resolution).


Is he redeemable? Inquiring minds want to know. Read on.

JOINT POST: OBD & MR talk Bingo Favorites
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines

Obsidian Black Death and I are both past the mid-point of our bingo cards, so we thought it would be fun to do a bit of a retrospective about the books we've read so far. We're starting with our favorite reads of the game!





I think my favorite book so far is hands down “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman. He hit it out of the park with that one. Maybe because my book came with illustrations that added to the overall story, and the writing at times transported me along with Nobody (Bod) Owens as he explored the graveyard with his parents, guardian, and friends.

This book has an awesome hero (Bod) with flaws and some many interesting secondary characters, I think Gaiman could have spun this book off if he really wanted to in order to follow the adventures of the Graveyard, Bod, or Silas. Heck, I am still hoping for a sequel one day. Or at least for someone from those books to pop into Gaiman’s other works.

Besides Bod, my next favorite characters were Miss Lupescu and Silas. It took me a little longer than I like, but I finally clued into what exactly Silas was and why he was watching over the graveyard as well.

“You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

I read this for the Grave or Graveyard square, but it would also fit the Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Full Moon, and Young Adult Horror squares as well.




Truth be told, The Graveyard Book was one of my favorites, as well. In addition to that one, though - since I can't pick the same one as OBD, I really, really loved Libriomancer by Jim Hines.


I thought the magical system in this book was terrific, and Hines really used it to its full potential. His references to books, and the way that they created magic and altered the mythology in a way that actually affected manifestations was elegant and fascinating. His wry humor, especially about vampires and the Twilight phenomenon made me laugh.


Plus, I can't forget Smudge. I am no spider fan, but he was an awesome contribution to the story. That's the other great thing about this book - without it, I would've struggled with finding a book to fill the creepy-crawlie square!


Which one is your favorite so far?


4 Stars
The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart
The Ivy Tree - Mary Stewart



Well, I'll be hornswoggled. 



This book was really rather fabulous, actually. The beginning is a bit slow, but the plot twists come fast and furious in the last half. 


It's set in Northumbria, near Newcastle, which makes a nice change from Cornwall, and the Roman ruins figure in the story. Mary Stewart's writing is wonderful. My edition was the old Fawcett Crest edition, which is only 272 pages, but the print is tiny and dense, and reading it felt like it was a much longer book. It is very well-plotted, and Ms. Stewart uses misdirection convincingly.


The end was a bit of a punch to the gut, actually. I was wrong, wrong, wrong, and then wrong again. Stunning.


Page 168


The plot has definitely thickened! Turns out that Annabel has an old lover hanging about, and even in gothic romance land, old lovers can't be fooled by a stranger pretending to be someone else.


There is a lot of airplay about an old summer folly on the property of the local burned out manor house (doesn't every neighborhood have a burned out manor house). I am currently holding firm to the notion that Annabel is dead and buried in the folly where she used to meet her lover, probably having come to a bad end at his hands after telling him she was leaving him. That would explain, as well, why he is the only person who has questioned her identity.


But, who knows! Only Mary Stewart.


And damn, these old romance authors could write! This book is dense, packed with character development and setting and atmosphere. 


Page 74:


I haven't made it as far as I had hoped in this book over the weekend! My daughter heads back to college next week, so we had to do a Poirot binge-watch yesterday! We watched Third Girl, Three Act Tragedy and Cat Among the Pigeons. I've seen them all, so they were all repeats for me, and Cat Among the Pigeons is one of my favorites. I tried to talk her into Hallowe'en Party for the season, but she was having none of it and insisted it was too early.


But, about the book! Mary has gone through her rapid "get up to speed on Annabel Winslow" and has started pretending to be her. Things will no doubt ramp up soon!




So far this every bit as delicious as I expected. The "meet cute" between hero (Con) and heroine (Mary Grey) involves him nearly pushing her over that ledge shown on the cover because he thinks she is his long lost fiancee.


With a love like that, why would Annabel have run away?


Run faster, Annabel. Run faster.


Step two of the romance: a little light stalking, using his sister!

Gothic romance read along



Linda Hilton started up a new group (today) with the best name ever, Mansions, Moonlight and Menace, to focus on gothic romance. I've been reading a lot of gothic romance recently, so I jumped right in, along with BrokenTune, Lillelara and Ani's Book Abyss.


Since Ammie, Come Home was such a resounding success as a buddy read, we were thinking of doing another buddy read along the same lines. We were thinking Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier. This post is to gauge interest.


Plot summary: 


From Daphne du Maurier—the beloved author of the timeless classic Rebecca—comes this haunting novel of secrets and suspense

The coachman tried to warn young Mary Yellan away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But Mary chose instead to honor her mother's dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and foreboding Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn's dark power.

Mary never imagined that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls—or that she would fall in love with a handsome, enigmatic stranger. But what secrets is he hiding from her—and can she really trust him?

Jamaica Inn is a riveting, classic novel of romantic suspense only the brilliant mind of Daphne du Maurier could conceive.


Is anyone interested in reading with us? We'd start some time in October.


Also, I'm signal boosting Linda's group, because I think it will be a lot of fun! Join here!

Spooky Swap 2016!


The set up post, and sign up link, are live for the first annual BookLikes Spooky Swap! Come join us if you love getting and giving boxes of goodies!


You know you want to.

Reblogged from Jessica (HDB)
Soup Party!

I am basically a soup party failure! I totally forgot to take any pictures until after everyone had eaten the soup and bread. I had to photograph my left-overs! The horror! It doesn't look very soupy because it has been in the fridge a while, and the broth has sort of absorbed into the pasta & beans. 



Basically, this is a really simple soup with white beans, smoked sausage, potatoes and some orzo pasta, with a chicken broth base. It turned out well, but, my daughter is still home from college, so I didn't make it the way that I would ordinarily make it. She doesn't eat red meet, so I am stuck using smoked turkey sausage when she is around, and I bought a new brand that was on sale that I will not buy again. It just wasn't very flavorful. She also refuses to eat soup with greens in it.


Once she goes back to college, I will use andouille sausage and I'll add spinach or chard for some green. I added quite a lot of cracked black pepper to this soup, which added a nice heat to the soup.


Anyway, it was really good, although it was very basic!

4 Stars
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

This is the kind of book that I should use quotes to make my point, but I read a print edition, and I am just far too lazy to go back and get my copy and find the quotes that I've marked.


I really don't know what I was expecting when I picked up this novel. I chose it because of the stunning cover and a recommendation from a friend (Obsidian Blue). I love bookish books, and this one filled that niche quite well, with Margaret's bookshop job and her obsession with English lit, most especially Jane Eyre. There is a rich vein of Jane Eyre mined throughout this book. Fortuitously, I had just reread Jane Eyre, so my appreciation for the way in which the author used Bronte's classic was at a peak.


Having said that, this is no light tale for a summers eve. The Thirteenth Tale is made for a fall or winter night, wrapped in a blanket, preferably in front of a roaring fire. I read it on a grey early autumn day, which was an acceptable choice, if not quite perfect. This is a dark story, with weird and gothic elements, centered around an otherworldly home and one of the most troubling and troubled families dreamed up in an author's imagination, peopled by characters whose behavior frankly ignores important social mores and verges deep into taboo. It is not explicit by any stretch of the imagination, but this is not a book for the faint of heart.



But, then again, neither were Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, or The Woman in White if it comes to that. If you are a fan of Victorian gothic, classic literature and richly dark writing, I think you'll like this book. If you like your stories sunny and sweet, you'll probably want to run away from this book.


There are a few squares where I could've fit this book, including ghost stories and haunted houses. But, there is also a black cat with emerald green eyes - Shadow - who makes several crucial appearances throughout the book. So, I'm claiming it for "black cat"!


There is a reason I read this.
Seal Team Bravo: Black Ops - Eric Meyer

Why in the hell did you read this, MR? This is the question that you are probably asking right now, looking at the title and cover of this book.


Well, let me tell you why. I'm participating in a giant team challenge on GR and one of the tasks that we needed to fulfill was a book with soldiers on the cover. I'd been side-eyeing at that task as though it was this:



(which, as a total aside, was in my bathroom sink yesterday morning. I was sad to burn down the house, but it had to be done, you understand.)


In any case, somebody had to read something or we weren't going to be able to get a new task. My dad, bless his heart, apparently reads these things, so I picked the shortest one that I could find and I downloaded it and (skim)read it over my lunch hour.


It is every bit as awful as you would expect, but then again, I am totally not the audience for his book. Having said that, this book is a series of cliches and stereotypes packed into a patriotic pablum that is easily digestible by people who see the world in black and white. If you like your propaganda pre-digested for you, and are seeking books that will leave your jingoistic perspective entirely unchallenged, this one is for you.


Let me add, as well, that I do not say this out any disdain for the United States miltary, which does mostly great work under frequently difficult circumstances. This sort of one-dimensional approach to the complicated issues just isn't my thing.

3 Stars
The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sign of Four -  Arthur Conan Doyle

“No, no: I never guess. It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty.


I chose this one for my read by flashlight/candlelight square for two reason: first, it is short, and second, there is something fitting about reading Sherlock Holmes by candlelight.


This was a reread. I've always preferred The Sign of the Four to A Study in Scarlet, although the latter does have that totally bizzarro digression into Mormon Country, which is always, well, weird. However, The Sign of the Four sends us to India and then to the Andaman Islands, where we meet four corrupt men and a couple of corrupt prison guards.


These Victorian novels are so problematically colonial in their perspective. The native people are always either howling savages ready to murder (as in this case) or noble savages ready to be tamed. It's pretty much ugh. But, if you can get past that, you get Watson. In love.


This one reminded me so much of Murder on the Links, where Hastings falls in love with Cinderella. Watson = Hastings. 


And then there's Holmes's opinion of the whole thing:


But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.”


Oh, Holmes. Lighten up.

3.5 Stars
The Mystery of the Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
The Mystery of the Yellow Room - Gaston Leroux

"The moon was shining brightly and I saw clearly that no one had touched the window. Not only were the bars that protect it intact, but the blinds inside of them were drawn, as I had myself drawn them early in the evening, as I did every day, though Mademoiselle, knowing that I was tired from the heavy work I had been doing, had begged me not to trouble myself, but leave her to do it; and they were just as I had left them, fastened with an iron catch on the inside. The assassin, therefore, could not have passed either in or out that way; but neither could I get in."


I read this for my "locked room mystery" square and I really liked it. I spent most of the time coming up with, and subsequently discarding, solutions for the impossible crime, as did most of the characters! 


The "hero" of the piece of Rouletabille, who is a journalist, and whom the narrator describes as a bit of a wunderkind. He is the only one who manages to figure out what was really going on with the murder and murderer.


While this is a short book, it does take some time to read. It's a translation, and was originally published in 1908, so it's not an easy read. Focus is required to keep track of the characters and the events. I didn't figure out the solution at all - I thought I had it figured out, and then it turned out I was entirely wrong about everything. Which means that it was a success!