Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Completed October 24th
1. Beat the Reaper - Bazell
2. The Leisure Seeker - Zadoorian
3. Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story - Carolyn Turgeon
4. Darling Jim - Christian Moerk
5. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
6. The Associate - John Grisham
7. I Love You Miss Huddleston - Gulley
8. In the Dark - Brian Freeman
9. Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun - Victoria Laurie
10. Resilience - Elizabeth Edwards
11. Doom with a View - Victoria Laurie
12. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
13. Demon Ex Machina - Julie Kenner
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Completed this Challenge on December 24, 2009
1. Undead and Unwed - Davidson
2. Strawberry Shortcake Murder - Fluke
3. Chardonnay Charade - Crosby
4. Dead Until Dark - Harris
5. Hot Six - Evanovich
6. 7th Heaven - Patterson
7. The Walkers of Dembley - Beaton
8. Susannah's Garden - Macomber
9. Edge of Evil - Jance
10. Blueberry Muffin Murder - Fluke
11. Bordeaux Betrayal - Ellen Crosby
12. A Death in Belmont - Sebastian Junger
13. The Last Suppers - Diane Mott Davidson
14. Getting Stoned with Savages - J. Maarten Troost
15. Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
16. Hand of Evil - JA Jance
Monday, December 28, 2009
I Completed this Challenge on November 7th
1. That Went Well - Dougan
2. The Tales From Outer Suburbia - Tan
3. The Spare Room - Garner
4. Bleeding Heart Square - Taylor
5. Dust and Shadow - Faye
6. All the Living - C.E. Morgan
7. The Help - Stockett
8. The Unit - Ninni Holmqvist
9. Prayers for Sale - Sandra Dallas
10. The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club - Gil McNeil
11. The Devlin Diaries - Christie Phillips
12. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe
13. Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne
14. Show No Fear - Perri O'Shaughnessy
15. Wedding Ring - Emilie Richards
16. The Widow's Season - Laura Brodie
17. The Blue Notebook - James Levine
18. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
19. Murder Packs a Suitcase - Cynthia Baxter
20. Saving Ben - Dan E. Burns
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Completed this challenge on December 9th
1. Do Unto Others - Abbott
2. A Cold Dish - Johnson
3. Every Crooked Nanny - Trocheck
4. Aunt Dimity Goes West - Atherton
5. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific - Troost
6. Poison Pen - Sheila Lowe
7. The Chosen - Carol Lynch Williams
8. The French Gardener - Santa Montefiore
9. Death on Demand - Carolyn Hart
10. Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener - MC Beaton
11. Second Sight - George Shuman
12. The Cereal Murders - Diane Mott Davidson
13. The Diva Runs out of Thyme - Krista Davis
14. Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage - MC Beaton
15. Endless Chain - Emilie Richards
16. Beekeepers Apprentice - Laurie R. King
17. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog - Lisa Scottoline
18. Merry Merry Ghost - Carolyn Hart
19. Confessions of a Closet Master Baker - Gesine Bullock-Prado
20. Reservaton for Murder - Tim Myers
21. The Gift of an Oridinary Day - Katrina Kenison
22. No Corners for the Devil - Olive Etchells
23. Aunt Dimity Vampire Hunter - Nancy Atherton
24. The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths
25. Capable of Murder - Brian Kavanagh
26. Dog on It - Spencer Quinn
27. Black Coffee - Agatha Christie
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I completed this challenge on September 19th.
1. Shelter Me - Fay
2. A Single Thread - Bostwick
3. Devil May Ride - Roberts
4. Homicide in Hardcover - Carlisle
5. Starvation Lake - Gruley
6. Dreams from the Monster Factory - Schwartz
7. My Abandonment - Rock
8. Twenty Wishes - Macomber
9. Living Dead in Dallas - Harris
10.Lemon Meringue Pie Murder - Joanne Fluke
11.Web of Evil - J A Jance
12.8th Confession - James Patterson
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Hand of Evil
4 out of 5
When I began this series, I had started in the middle and I am so glad that I have gone back to the beginning and learned about Ali and her life from the beginning. In doing so, Ali has become a better over all character.
Two very different, but in some ways similar storylines keep the reader engrossed in this very good 3rd installment of the Ali Reynolds series.
When Ali is invited to the Ashcroft home she is very curious as to why - during tea it is revealed that Arabell's nephew is threatening to steal her money and have her committed. So to save herself, she reveals to Ali that she had been a victim of sexual abuse and with Ali's help she hopes to fend off the blackmail attempts with the truth. But Arabella is having second thoughts about the truth coming out.
That should be enough to keep Ali busy, so when her friend Dave Holman reveals to Ali that his own daughter, a sexually abused teen, has run away he asks for Ali's help in locating her. When she returns home, Ali takes in this lying manipulating child, but the problems are compounded when Crystal recognizes a killer and Ali's life hangs in the balance as she tries to protect Crystal, help Arabella, all the while trying to figure out who is telling the truth, who is out for their own benefit and who will take in the rhinestone cowboy outfit wearing gay butler. That part is really funny, but a great character has been discovered that will hopefully carry this series for many years to come.
Monday, December 21, 2009
4 out of 5
Clare has finally come to terms with her ex-husband Matteo marrying, but she still wishes it wasn't to someone as horrible as Breanne Summour's. But when a look alike dancer is killed leaving Matt's bachelor party, Clare knows that the true victim was supposed to be Breanne herself and it is up to Clare to convince the NYPD and Breanne herself that there is true danger out there.
When no one really wants to believe Clare, she turns to the very hot Mike Quinn and with the help of the fish squad, a very curious case of who and why reveals the killer and the motive.
Though this book does seem to get off the main point frequently, it still follows the basic formula that keeps the Coffeehouse Mysteries moving forward. Breanne becomes a little more human, if that is possible, and Clare doesn't come across as the usual neurotic that she has been portrayed as in the past. I saw real growth in Clare's character and I hope that the writing team of Cleo Coyle will build on this new strength in Clare.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Kiss Her Goodbye
Robert Gregory Browne
4 out of 5
ATF agent Jack Donovan is finally closing in the psycho Alex Gunderson. But on a car chase after a bank robbery, Gunderson's pregnant wife Sara is injured during a car accident leaving her in a coma.
Seeking revenge, Gunderson kidnaps Donovan's teenage daughter, Jessica, and buries her underground with enough oxygen for three days. As the agents close in on Gunderson, an attention seeking cop kills the psycho before the whereabouts of Jessica can be found.
As time is running out, Jack Donovan desperately tries to tack down Alex's haunts, but this is where the story takes that proverbial left turn that had me scratching my head. I love mysteries, I love thrillers, but when out of no where you throw in the paranormal, I get ticked. Until then, it was a great book, until then Browne was an author that I could really enjoy looking forward to his other books. Evil taunts and messages from the dead just hit me wrong. Give me a thriller, or give me paranormal, separately I can handle these two genres, but paranormal and police procedural together don't mesh well.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
4 out of 5
Chet and Bernie are a unique private investigating team. Bernie is a down on his luck PI and Chet is his faithful canine companion. Fortunately for this story, Chet isn't the typical know it all type of dog character - he gets a little confused with ideas and his doggie instincts do seem to get the better of him, which over all, makes for a more interesting read.
Since Chet had flunked out of K-9 school, for something he can't even remember, he has been Bernie's main companion. In this first in a series, Chet and Bernie are called in to investigate the disappearance of 15 year old Madison. No one is quite sure if she had been kidnapped or a runaway, but neither Chet or Bernie can leave this one alone. Even if it might mean a wee bit of a tangle with desert bikers and slimy real estate developers that smell suspiciously like cat.
Overall, it's a pretty good book, that is if you like your lead characters to have fur and mismatched ears. The mystery part is OK, but from time to time, it feels as if there is too much thrown into the story. I kept asking myself, was that character really needed - is that a name I need to remember. Hopefully, the next book in the this series will calm down a little bit, the storyline will tighten up a bit and Chet will learn that jumping the back fence might not be such a good idea.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
4 out of 5
You can never go wrong with an Agatha Christie and with the little gray cells of Hercule Poirot the killer will be ensnared without the tiniest details missed.
First penned as a stage production, Black Coffee has been rewritten by her grandson Michal Pritchard.
Set in the early 1930's, Sir Claud Amory, an atomic scientist, has invited Poirot to his estate to personally transport a formula back to London. Sir Claud realizes that the formula is missing and offers his family and guests one minute in total darkness to return the formula with no questions asked. Well, one minute is all it takes to murder Sir Claud. Upon his arrival, Hercule Poirot is enlisted into finding both the formula and the killer.
Of course Agatha gives us a whole room full of likely suspects, each with their own secrets and story, but with Captain Hastings at his side, Poirot makes quick work of this very captivating who-done-it.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Capable of Murder
4 out of 5
Belinda Lawrence has had very little contact with her great aunt, so she was a bit surprised to receive a note requesting that she come by for a visit. Unfortunately, the visit was a bit too late as Belinda discovered her aunts body days dead on the floor at the bottom of the stairs.
Though called an accident by the police, Belinda sees things a little differently especially since the letter requesting the visit had been mailed after her aunts supposed accident.
With some quirky and other eerie characters, the author weaves a tale that has the reader turning the pages even though you think you have it figured out, you still want to see if Kavanagh was only teasing the reader or if there really was something afoot in this very dark village far away from the city light with overgrown gardens and mystery chambers.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Aunt Dimity Vampire Hunter
5 out of 5
Atherton is back on her stride with this book.
Lori Shepherd is up to her usual over reactive antics, but when her sons claim that they have seen a vampire in the woods over looking Anscombe Manor, Lori must investigate. After being nearly killed trying to save her sons in the past, this is just something that Lori can't brush away. Granted they have very active imaginations and it doesn't help that a classmate has brought to school a book detailing Rendor, the Destroyer of Souls and put just a little seedling of an idea into their minds.
So, with the help of Aunt Dimity and Kit, Lori sets out to find the vampire, discover a home hidden behind Emma's hill, meet a neighbor that she never knew existed, solve some of Kit's mysteries and last but not least, bring a happily ever after ending to a long awaited love story. All this in a span of less then a week, a week that Bill is out of town and there is no one to rein in Lori.
I adore these books, but I do suggest that you start at the beginning of the series, Aunt Dimity's Death, so you can learn to appreciate Lori at her fullest.
I adore these books, but I do suggest that you start at the beginning of the series, Aunt Dimity's Death, so you can learn to appreciate Lori at her fullest.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Crossing Places
5 out of 5
Loved this book. Hope that it is the first of many in a very intriguing series.
Finally an author brings to the reader a very down to earth "normal" lead character. A later 30'ish college professor who is more at home with her cats and radio then out in bars or quilting bees. Granted she is a little quirky in her total devotion to archaeology and living on a rather isolated salt marsh, but Ruth Galloway is a woman who thinks she knows what she wants and thinks she is leading the right life for her.
When bones are found nearby, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls upon Ruth to help identify if they are human and if they happen to be those of a missing child. Lucy Downey has been missing for ten years and since that time, Nelson has been receiving very strange letters involving philosophy, poetry, archaeology and generally bizarre stuff.
Unfortunately, the bones date back to the Iron Age, but that doesn't stop Ruth, especially when a second child disappears. Ruth's old friends and lovers appear on the scene and a wicked storm comes up and traps Ruth and a killer on the salt marsh.
Though a third of the way in I thought I had the killer pegged, Grifiths' does a remarkable job in leading the read down many a winding path only to have them question their own conclusions. This book makes you think, cheer on the characters, laugh at their plights and also gasp at a very intriguing conclusion that has you waiting for the next book in the series.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
No Corners for the Devil
4 out of 5
Sally Baxter and her family decide that owning a small round house on the peaceful Cornish coast would be a great place to open a bed and breakfast, that is until the day that their first guests are to arrive and the body of a young village girl is found washed up on their beach.
Now Sally find she is in for the fight of her life to protect one son and to defect another all the while trying to find out things about her husband and the other villagers that will leave her wondering if there really is solitude to be found.
Though this is a mystery, the who done it part is rather easy to figure out, but the interplay between the characters is what makes this a more interesting read.
First in the DCI Shannon series.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Gift of an Ordinary Day
3 out of 5
What began as a book that I had looked forward to reading, quickly turned into a book that I thought would never end.
Like Kenison, I too was having a child go off to college and another starting high school, a job in transition, financial instability, the prospect of selling a home and moving into a new area. I felt that finally, a here is a woman’s book that I could relate too. But, unfortunately, this memoir has shown me that no two people live the same life. There was no learning or empathy for what she had gone through. Her bemoaning grew tiresome and quite irritating when she put more pages into a friend with shingles that needed her , which I still question, then into a friends child that was killed. The balance just wasn’t in this book.
Though memoirs can be a bit self indulgent, this one rattled on a little too long . What exactly was Kenison trying to convey to the reader. That you too, while living under someone else’s roof can send your children to private schools and build the home of your dreams. Sorry, but the oh poor me attitude was totally lost on me.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
3 out of 5
Unfortunately after the second book, this series has run it's course with me. No real spark or endearing characters that make you want to dive into the next one.
Alex Winston runs a bed and breakfast that has the distinction of having a replica of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and its outbuildings. What's so curious about that, well, there is no water around just a lighthouse sitting in the foothills of North Carolina.
While embroiled in the daily duties of running the inn and trying to bring the lighthouse back to its glory, Alex agrees to let Shantana run the Golden Days Fair on his property. Things seem to be going smoothly, that is until a local blacksmith is found impaled with a very unique piece of metalwork and everyone seems to be a suspect.
This story quickly bogs down and by the time the killer is revealed, it really doesn't matter because my attention is no longer on the book. My mind has wandered and I was trying to figure out what I was going to read next. Not a good sign.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Confections of a Closet Master Baker
4 out of 5
To have a passion and be able to pursue it is a blessing, to be able to bring joy to others with that blessing - that is a gift. This is the life of Gesine Bullock-Prado. It doesn't matter who your famous family or friends are, what matters is the sweet luscious scent of chocolate or fresh baked bread. This is what is important in life and if you are taught by your much adored mother- well then- that's all the better.
Bullock-Prado describes her life before owning her own shop and her life after. There is no comparison, when you hate what you are doing, but make a gazillion dollars you still hate what you are doing, but when you are building a business, getting up at 4am and trudging through snow and ice to do it, well, then life is good. So, you don't have a gazillion dollars, but you do have coffee and delicious fresh pastries.
Owning your own business and meeting your new neighbors in a new town 3,000 miles away, well, you just have to see life an adventure. So the building is falling down and has to be rebuilt, the suppliers don't deliver soy on demand and the town has a few odd-balls. That's ok, there are always croissants.
This book is a delicious gastronomic pleasure. But my words of advice - get over the whole name thing. People are going to pronounce it wrong. And not everyone is going to have a subtle sigh when they say it.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog: The Amazing Adventures of An Ordinary Woman
5 out of 5
Sometimes it just terrifies me to think what must go on in this woman's mind. But what I think is even more terrifying is that we see real estate ads in the same way. But, I have been pulled back from that precipice by knowing that I don't have to discuss shaving with my mother. Yeah, I know, but you will have to read the book to fully understand that one.
So goes this fun little book by the author of the Rosato and Associates series. Combining articles from her Philadelphia Inquirer columns, Lisa brings us into her world of fun with a sense of humor that has you laughing from beginning to end. From having a dog in your bed with restless leg syndrome to having a child grow up and discovering life on her own, to a tiny Italian mother who hasn't had to buy a razor in years because there is nothing left to shave, has the reader both fascinated in an ordinary life, I don't know who she is trying to fool with that one, and mesmerized by the fact that she is still able to get out of bed in the morning and spend a full day writing a highly admired series.
I hope Lisa continues to write this type of book, to include the rest of us in her remarkably ordinary life. To entertain us when we need a good laugh and to remind us that
Monday, November 9, 2009
Even though Bailey Ruth has a hard time following all the rules that are set forth by the Department of Good Intentions, she is given a second chance to help out the family of a little boy who is abandoned on the doorstep of a home in Adelaide, Oklahoma.
Susan Flynn, the family matriarch, never knew that her son Keith had fathered a child before his untimely death. Now all has changed for this ailing woman and it's her desire to change her will and provide for this sweet little boy. Unfortunately, that will not settle well with the hangers on in her life and one of them decides that Susan has already lived too long and it's time to dole out the wishes of her original will and get what they rightly deserve.
With Bailey Ruth's help, the local police department is guided into realizing that Susan's death was no accident and and that there just might be an ulterior motive for all the strange goings on.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Dan E. Burns
4 out of 5
Though small, this book packs quite a punch. Dan Burns in determined to “recover” his son from Autism. In the early years, Dan knew that Ben was different, but it wasn’t until the exact title of autism was placed on his son that Dr. Burns buckled down and with sheer determination and very little support from his family set out to find the son that he knew was lost inside the autism spectrum.
Not all stories in this field have a happy ending, but sometimes happiness comes in small step, a twinkle, a nod of understanding, sometimes you have to find your own giant leap and that is what I think Ben found. He has a father that loves him unconditionally, a mother, that in her own way, is trying and a grandmother that might not have been able to stomach what her beloved grandson had to endure, but was there for him in the best way she could.
If you are looking for a step by step plan to “cure” an autistic child, then this isn’t the right book for you, but if you are looking for a book the details one families struggle, then take a look. See how another family is battling the giant bureaucracy and see that there just might be a middle ground. A place where a family can find some peace and understanding. Where a child can grow and learn with enough love and patience.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Laurie R. King
3 out of 5
I don't like being the dissenting opinion, but this book just hit me a little wrong or maybe it is my inability to have a beloved character toyed with; but this story of Mary Russsell, a precocious 15 year old, whom after the death of her family moves to a farm with an aunt, and who just happens to run into the famous Sherlock Homes on one of her daily sojourns into the country is just too contrived for me.
The idea that this young woman can match wits with Sherlock is a little overdrawn and as the years go by and they investigate a few cases much in the same way as Holmes and Watson, just seems as if the author is stealing an idea instead of coming up with one of her own.
Unfortunately, I don't think I will continue on with this series, but will once again go back and read the original Conan Doyle accounts of a fascinating character.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
4 out of 5
After leaving his previous job as a minister in a rather glitzy church were being seen is more important then doing good, Sam Kinkade has settled into the town of Toms Brook, VA, the same setting as Richards previous book Wedding Ring. With many of the same characters, the author weaves a new story around the church and their new Sexton, Elisa Martinez, a refugee from Guatemala.
Sam and his fellow parishioners have opened up La Casa Amarilla on the grounds of the church to act as an education program for the Hispanic children new to the area. But as the story progresses we see that everyone has a secret, including the pre-Cival War home that houses the school.
With precise storytelling, Emilie Richards unwinds a wonderful addition to her Shenandoah Album series that brings the residents of Toms Brook into our homes and makes the reader a wonderful addition to the close knit community that cares for one another in a way that now seems foreign to most of us.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Demon Ex Machina
4 out of 5
Though this book starts out a bit choppy with too much rehashing of previous relationships and storylines, Kenner finally settles down and once again the reader is vicariously enjoying Kate's life as a wife, mom and demon hunter.
Now that Stuart knows Kate's part time job, he has decided to give up his run for political office and is now training to help Kate in her nightly forays into demon hunting. Unfortunately, this time it gets a bit too close to home and Kate's family is in real danger. You don't threaten a demon hunters family, so Kate kicks this one up a notch only to find out that the danger is closer then ever and she now must make a choice. Is Eric, her first husband, really who he claims to be or is he too keeping a secret deep inside.
Decisions are never easy for this demon hunting soccer mom, but now that her past is revealed, she must make choices. She isn't who she thought she was, her history has been opened and now she must move forward and it's up to Stuart if he wants to join her.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
4 out of 5
It boggles the mind the adventures that Sookie Stackhouse can get herself into, but yet again, there she is, right in the middle of vampires and wherewolves. I didn't know that shape shifters could be so much fun.
In this third outing, Bill is pulling back from Sookie, actually spending more time on his computer then on her, if you get her complaint. So when Sookie finds out that Bill has an up coming trip she figures there is a big lie in there somewhere but when Bill is discovered to be missing she turns to Eric who just might know where to find him. And this might not be good news for Sookie.
With the help of Alcide, sometimes you just have love the names that Harris comes up with, a werewolf, the antics begin in the search for the missing Bill.
Though this book did seem to drag in parts for me, the interaction between Eric and Sookie is always entertaining and with Harris slowly revealing Eric's background I can see a much more entertaining character develop.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Lost Symbol
3 out of 5
What started out as a great books turned into watching a balloon slowly deflate. The history and symbolism were fascinating, but the whole tattooed menace grew old quickly. I can't say that the book was overly long, or dwelled on the wrong thing, it just lost it spark midway through and never regained it.
Invited by his long time friend Peter Solomon, Robert Langdon has been invited to Washington DC to delivery a speech. Not only is Solomon an important man in his own right, as head of the Smithsonian Museum, but he also happens to be a high-ranking Mason. There was no speech planned, Langdon was lured there because it is thought that he could unlock an ancient portal hidden in Washington.
Peter Solomon has been kidnapped and with the help of Solomon's daughter, Langdon sets out to decipher clues that will keep Solomon alive and slowly discover the guarded secrets of the Freemasons. Through use of symbolism and Neotic Science Brown leads the reader down many twisted avenues to an ending that was neither shocking or awe inspiring.
Though there were many good sections and times that I went and did a bit more research on topics that were mentioned, overall the book was just so-so. Langdon seemed a bit more bumbling then I remember him being in previous books, the beautiful woman that assists him is over used and the tattooed antagonist was predictable. Maybe it was because of all the hype, but I was expecting more. Maybe next time.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
5 out of 5
This incredibly sweet and touching novel brings an intimate look into the life of Henry Lee,a Chinese-American who one day witnesses a crowd outside the Panama Hotel. A hotel that once held so many memories for Henry. A hotel that now holds the memories of Japanese families that were interned during World War II.
When the belongings of Japanese families are found in the basement, Henry must go, he must find if there are any last treasures from his beloved Keiko. And in flashbacks and retrospect Henry tells the reader of his first love, of their challenges, of their hopes and dreams.
Young love plays out in the tumultuous days of the 1940's where Henry and Keiko meet in an exclusive elementary school, where white kids alternately ignore him and torment him. Where even if you are an American, you are treated differently because you don't look American. Where even your own family points fingers at those that look different, it doesn't matter that you were born on the same street, in the same hospital up on the hill, you are different and different isn't good. Different can hold you back and change your ways.
This is the difference that makes you choose what type of man you want to be, what you will hold on to and what you are willing to let go of. Though Henry's eyes, Jamie Ford introduces you to long remembered characters that show the reader the good in people, the strife that they must endure and the bitter sweet memories that build who they are. The is a novel that shouldn't be missed, a novel that leaves the reader hopeful that maybe there really is good that can come of out a dark time.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Getting Stoned With Savages
J. Maarten Troost
4 out of 5
Good, but I don't really think it was as good as the first. Though still very laugh out loud funny, Troost seemed to have been trying to hard to achieve what appeared to be more easily gained in his first book.
After finding himself in a boring 9-5 type of job, Maarten and Sylvia can't wait to get back to the life that they had had on Tarawa. This time it's the more settled Vanuatu and Fiji. Though still a bit rustic, with Kava, anything is doable, and so Maarten and Sylivia set out for this adventure.
This lifestyle doesn't seem as challenging as Tarawa, but still they do find themselves in a quagmire to two, but they are veterans at this paradise thing so what are a few cannibal, bugs and mother nature. Besides, when you have the local chiefs living next door. Life's a piece of cake.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
4 out of 5
On her first travel writing assignment, Mallory Marlow is given the task of exploring Orlando, Florida in search of the 50's, 60's and 70's kitsch that made Orlando the tourist attraction that it used to be. Do the old crocodile farms and ice cream coned shaped attractions still exist in this Disneyesque environment. She is on a mission to find out and to share it with her readers.
While on this vacation jaunt, a smarmy veteran travel writer is killed and since Mallory was the one to find the body, it must have been her that did the killing. Well, that just won't do, she has an article to write, and a family to get back home to; so, she'll just solve the crime in her free time. She's a mom, she can do anything.
But when her present and her past suddenly merge, everything that she thought was true appears to get mixed up and Mallory really is in for the fight of her life.
This was quite a fun book, Baxter really gave the reader the feel of old Orlando and with travel tips and real reviews of Florida attractions, it gave quite a unique overall feel to this book.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage
3 out of 5Just as Agatha and James are about to say their I Do's in wanders the allusive Jimmy Raisin. Yes, that Jimmy Raisin, Agatha's first husband whom she had thought was long dead.
So with the wedding off and Agatha spitting nails, Jimmy is found dead in a ditch and since it appears no one else knew Jimmy, it had to be Agatha who killed him. But wait, not so fast , there are others in this tiny village that have secrets and Jimmy being there just might throw a wrench into their plans.
This is a very good series, humorous and with an interesting cast of characters that follow Agatha from book to book.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Blue Notebook
5 out of 5
The subject matter of this book is so abhorrent that I want to believe that Levine made it all up, that there are no little girls in this world that have to live the life of Batuk; that it is just the sick mind of an author. But, unfortunately, this could be a very real, very true story.
The book tells the story of Batuk a very feisty and real little girl that was sold into into prostitution at the age of nine. I'm still not sure if her father knew exactly what he was doing, but when you are poor in rural India, there are very few options. As Batuk grows into a young woman of 15, this is now her life is, the Common Street in Mumbai where children are kept in cages until there is a paying customer.
Having spent some time in a hospital with Tuberculosis, Batik has learned to read and write and therefore able to write her story when she can find paper and a pencil, and quite a story it is. An unbelievable tale of hope and heartache that leaves a character and a circumstance with you for a very long time.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
4 out of 5
All was going well with this book until Patterson decided to take a sudden left turn that really had nothing to do with the storyline or progression of this book. Sometimes I just don't understand what this author is thinking.
A couple of murders in San Francisco has Lindsey Boxer on the run. What does the curious deaths of a glamorous couple and a homeless man have in common. None of the usual clues seem to add up, that is until a quite by chance discovery leads the investigators to a rather unique murder weapon. But to fully understand why these people were targeted leads to quite a few twists and turns.
The storyline is leading the reader down a very interesting and fast paced path, when out of the blue Patterson throw you a sharp left turn about Suki's new love interest. This part had nothing to do with the storyline and I'm still quite confused as to why it was suddenly thrown in there. What was the point that Patterson was trying to make? I'm still confused over that.
This is one of those series that draws you in and from time to time and even though something will hit you wrong, you keep plowing through. Each character has their own story, each book reveals a little more. I like how Patterson is starting to reveal a little bit more about each character, each person is starting to show a little bit more of themselves and that is what keeps me reading the Women's Murder Club.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Doom with a View
3 out of 5
Not sure about this book, even though I've read all seven books, Laurie is now throwing things in that really make the story seem silly.
Abby Cooper and best friend private investigator Candice team up to help the FBI find three missing college students. Not only are all three missing, and presumed dead, but they all happen to be the children of important political leaders.
Bill Gaston, who has worked with Abby in the past, and has full faith in her abilities, brings her in much to the chagrin of the ever lovable Brice Harrington, who decided to put Abby through quite a bit of harassment. But when Abby starts putting the pieces together, much to the dismay of Harrington, what can he do, but follow Abby to the rather convoluted ending to this story.
Gee, a cold-hearted political figure with a secret life. People damaged in the process. Secrets kept at any cost. Seems to much in the realm of been there, done that. Hopefully, the next book will make a better impression.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
5 out of 5By the middle of this wonderful book I was forcing myself not to read the last chapter to see where Brodie was going with this tale. Weaving reality and fantasy you find your self hoping and wondering and imagining an even larger tale.
Sarah McConnell is in her late thirties and has been married for a little more then 15 years when her husband in supposedly killed in a kayaking accident. He body has never been recovered, but yet one day three months later she sees him in the grocery store. There he is across the isle from her. After a quick distraction she looks over again and he's gone. Not sure of what she saw or didn't see she returns home even more bewildered then before.
Then the noises and bumps around the house begin, how can David be back, but on Halloween night he knocks on her door with quite a tale to tell. What is she to do. She can't tell anyone that she has seen him, the widow's club tells her that it takes a full season to get over a loss, but yet, David is there. She now must meet him clandestinely at their old cabin, she must move on with her life, but not leave David behind.
By the end of this book you are just mesmerized by the story that Bodie tells. You hope, but you fear to hope, because sometimes it takes a season to heal.
How do you move on when the ghosts come with you.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
4 out of 5
As Elizabeth Edwards said herself in this book, she is not here to discuss the most recent escapades of Johns', she is here to discuss how she has gotten through each obstacle that has been placed in her path. But still I didn't get that out of this book. I didn't see how she actually pulled herself up.
I have never lost a child and I have no idea how a mother maneuvers through that, but this book shows me that it is a life long journey. Three quarters of this book is about the sudden and tragic loss of her son, how each and every decision thereafter included him in it. How one day she may deal differently with her cancer, her husbands infidelity, the media, the - fill in the next blank, but right here and right now she will always be incomplete because of one simple accident that took her son and changed her life forever.
Mrs. Edwards does touch on the other road blocks in her life, but nothing fully in depth, no juicy gossip, no preaching about how you should do it. Just a woman's story about how to put one foot in front of the other and taking a deep breath one day at a time.
What I liked about this book was it's lack of the typical "oh, poor me" that runs rampant in most memoirs, how she truly feels blessed with everything good in their lives. But what I did feel hit the "enough already" wall was the constant talk of her deceased son. As I said before, I've never lost a child, maybe it's normal to base every decision on what could have been, but at some point you have to move on.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
4 out of 5
I usually don't like books like this, but once I got into this story and learned more about the strength of Helen an expert quilt and family matriarch; Helen's daughter Nancy, who has had quite the uphill battle to overcome her simple country roots; and Tessa, Nancy's daughter who has lost a daughter and is determined to keep the drunk driver behind bars. the more of this book I read, the more I adored the women that I have met and the message that they tell.
Helen is now getting to the age where it's harder for her to take care of her home and her farm and when Nancy and Tessa go out for a visit they are shocked at what has become of Helen. Indomitable Helen just isn't able to do it all anymore, and when they arrive to discuss leaving her mountain home they are shocked at the mess the place is in. Helen has turned into a hoarder. Remember, she came from a time when you didn't throw anything away, you never know when you might need it again. Now there are just so many piles and such clutter that the home isn't safe anymore. While gathering up and throwing away Tessa finds the old quilts that her grandmother has made and with each quilt a little bit more of her grandmothers and in turn her mothers stories come out.
These three women deeply love each other, but with any family ties there are moments that you could just as easily walk away. But walking away isn't what these women are about and when they are face to face with that truth, you see them fight amongst themselves and those that love them to, come out better strong women in the end.
Family isn't easy but when you combine it was aging, failing marriages and the loss of a child what doesn't tear you apart will in time make stronger bonds that are what help woman who love each other accomplish anything.
First book in the Shenandoah Valley Series
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Ghouls Just Haunt To Have Fun
4 out of 5
Finally Laurie broke away from that whole Scooby Doo feel that these book have had in the past.
With business down, Gilley Gillespie decides to a add a bit of revenue by signing M.J. Holliday up as a psychic on the new Haunted Possessions show, filmed in a haunted hotel in San Francisco. All she has to do touch a family heirloom an tell a little something about the object. Easier said then done when a mysterious knife suddenly appears at the table and literally all hell breaks loose. Now not only the friendly spirits of the old hotel are coming to visit, but the very dark and very dangerous ones are making themselves known.
This book seems to be a bit darker then her previous ones, the actual murders and assaults are more descriptive and without the usual humor to off set them the feel is a bit heavier. Not to say that this book doesn't have humor. The interaction between M.J. and Gilley is and always has been very funny. I do hope that Heath, her co-psychic on the show, will make future appearances in this series, he is a very good balance to M.J.'s character without the whole sexual tension thing that writers seem to dwell on.
Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun is the third book in the Ghost Hunter Mystery Series. Very much in the psychic meets the TV series Ghost Hunters vein, which is a very interesting combination. Very different from her Psychic Eye books, but still just as good. If you are looking for a little bit more bite to you cozy mystery reading, check out this series.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Diva Runs Out of Thyme
4 out of 5
Sophie Winson and Natasha Smith have been rivals since high school and now, somewhere in their 40’s, with Natasha stealing Sophie’s husband, their lives are once again thrown together with a local Stupendous Stuffing Contest - the winner receiving the Golden Turkey Award. Ohh, Ahh, but really, the winner also gets a cooking special on the local channel.
Both being accomplished cooks with Natasha taking on the more dominate Martha Stewart role, Sophie sets off to do her home style type of simple cooking which sets off Natasha even more. With the support of friends and family, Sophie’s life is good, that is until on her way out of a supermarket Sophie stumbles across the body of a man who was previously trying to pawn off a kitten her. Who also just happens to have a picture with her name in his truck Well, that’s curious.
One body is bad enough, but the day of the actually competition the head judge is found murdered and Sophie just is in the wrong place at the wrong time. What’s a domestic diva to do, well, you treat your house guests to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, solve two crimes and get the lead detective to realize that life would be pretty boring without you around. For a Diva, that’s as simple at pumpkin pie.
This is a very funny light mystery with a wonderful cast of characters, who each seem to have their own stories to tell, that will have the reader following for a long time to come.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Cereal Murders
Diane Mott Davidson
3 out of 5
Unfortunately, some of these books are better then others.
Elk Park School does everything it can to help their students enter the collegiate world. After one student prep breakfast, Goldie Bear, caterer extraordinaire, stumbles across the body of a student in the snow. This is not just any student, the is the class valedictorian, the one that everyone knows will be accepted to the college of his choice.
The rich are different and when it comes to getting a child into a top school, there are no longer any rules and what should be a happy time in their child’s life is suddenly turned into an all out competition with no hold barred.
Goldie finds herself in the middle of the murder investigation, of course Tom Shultz is there too since he is trying to get closer to Goldie. But the investigation takes a personal turn when Arch is home alone and a rock comes flying through the front window and later someone blocks the chimney filling the house with smoke. And when that isn’t enough to warn off nosey intruders, a second body is found.
I’ll continue on with this series in hopes that they get better, but this one just couldn’t hold my interest. Hopefully, they will spark up soon.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
5 out of 5
Having never read a book from the Nina Reilly series before I was a bit apprehensive when I picked up this 12th book. But the writing team of O’Shaughnessy made it easy for me, this is really a prequel to the whole series. You meet Nina as a young 20-something mom of 4 year old Bob who is working as a paralegal by day and attending law school at night. But she is no superhero, she is just a woman trying to do what is best for her family.
When Nina’s mother Ginny is disfigured by a rather shady acupuncturist Nina knows that someone should pay, and working in a law firm, she knows just who to call. But then things get even more complicated when ex-lover Richard Filsen appears and claims to be Bob’s father, then Nina finds herself in the middle of a couple murder investigations and she suddenly finds her life in a tailspin.
Nina can’t do this alone and with the help of some very interesting cohorts she is determined to do right by her son, and most importantly her mother; who has always been there for her and her brother. Who put her own pain and struggle on the back burner to give her children the best that she could; and in Ginny’s last steps of independence - to leave them all with something- may have cost Nina more then she ever realized.
I really enjoyed this book and now look forward to going back to the beginning of this series to see where the lives of these characters lead. Nina is a solidly drawn character that I hope will entertain me for years to come.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
5 out of 5
The ending is what makes this book unforgettable. Some have billed this as a children’s/YA book, I think that this book is anything but. Told through the eyes of 9 year old Bruno the son of a Nazi Commandant, we see his burgeoning friendship with another child a Polish Jew. The only thing that separates them is a fence.
Bruno’s naivety is quite startling when you, the adult reader, can see what is around the corner. Bruno is just a kid, thinking kid thought, living in a kids world that has always kept him sheltered. But one day, reality will hit and with it a lesson is learned - an no one will ever be the same.
I highly recommend this book to any adult and even to a middle schooler who is studying the Holocaust. This book gives quite a startling look at this time in history from a child’s perspective. Though criticized for factual inaccuracies, that is not the point the book is trying to make. Whether it was Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen, it really doesn’t matter. This is a story told though the eyes of little boys living in a grown up world.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Sherry Moore is the type of characters that grabs you from the first book and stays with you through all the future installments. In this 4th outing, Sherry, who was found on the steps of a hospital at the age of 5 and suffers from cortical blindness, is called in to “see” the last 18 seconds of life of a person who has died from a possible virus outbreak in New Mexico; while undergoing this simple task she is exposed to radioactive cesium 137.
While in the hospital for treatment for the radiation and the subsequent migraines, she once again touches the hand of a dead man, a man that has spent the last 50 years in an asylum in a comatose state. When the choppy visions appears to Sherry she is unsure of what exactly it is that she is seeing, until the final moments when she comes out of her trance, but this time it’s different, this time she can see. Literally see, for the first time in over thirty years.
Sherry has to get used to a whole new world. A world where bright shinny objects and bright shinny people can distract her from the world that she has always known.
Not everyone is thrilled with Sherry’s abilities and the world throws her a curve once again. The hand of the dead man, the one from the asylum, was not just any old guy. He held secrets, secrets that very important people don‘t want the rest of the world to know; and if Sherry is in the way, well, that’s just the cost of doing business.
In this very enticing game of cat and mouse, Sherry must lean on her friend Admiral Garland Brigham and his breakfast club to bring a very powerful man and his organization down.
Overall, I love the Sherry Moore books, the last one, Lost Girls, was a bit of a disappointment, but Shuman kicked it back up to his usual high standards with this one and I, for one, look forward to many more.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
4 out of 5
After Connie Goodwin is advanced to candidacy for her PhD in American Colonial history at Harvard, she must now come up with original source material to base her thesis on. Harvard professors don’t make this task easy but on top of the usual pressures, Connie is called on my her slightly left of center mother who need her to clean out her grandmothers house in Marblehead, Massachusetts.
Now of course there has to be a mystery with an old abandoned house with no electricity, no telephone and mushrooms coming out of the floorboards. While cleaning out the bookshelves, Connie comes across an old Bible with an old key inside . Another discovery leads to the name Deliverance Dane, and the mystery is afoot as to who this person was and why mysterious things are happening to and around Connie.
Bouncing back and forth between modern day and the Salem Witch Trials you see history from a new vantage point. What if, the Witch Trials really did round up a witch, what if the legacy and recipe book were hidden for just the right person to find it.
This is quite an entertaining read. Whether the modern day story of tracking down an unknown piece of history or the diabolical undertones of the Witch Trials, the two stories meld together in quite a fascinating way.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Web of Evil
4 out o 5
I really enjoy this series by J.A. Jance.
Ali Reynolds is finally putting another chapter of her life behind her. She is heading to Los Angeles from her home in Sedona, Arizona, to finalize her divorce. But when her husband doesn’t show up for the appointed court date things get a little curious.
Turns out Paul Grayson was kidnapped from his bachelor party, yep, the cad was going to remarry the day after the divorce was granted. Not only was Paul abducted, but he was bound, placed in the trunk of a car and left to die on a railroad track.
Since the divorce was never granted, that leaves Ali to be the grieving widow, that not quite being her style she sets out to find who and what was behind this ghastly act.
As Ali keeps the reader of her blog updated, we slowly see the story and Ali’s role in it slowly unwind.
With great twists and an unpretentious cast of characters, Jance leads the reader to a thrilling conclusion that leaves you wondering what can Ali get into next. Thankfully, this is only the second book in the series, so it won’t be long until I can delve into Ali’s world again.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
This book seemed to have lost the spark that his previous works had. Though it is still very good, this one was just off a bit.
Tish Verdure returns to Minnesota to write about a case that is just too personal for Detective Jonathan Stride. This book will be about the night 30 years ago that Jonathan and his late wife Cindy thought would be the most wonderful of their lives, the night that they would make their most personal commitment to each other. But when Cindy’s sister Laura never comes home and is found murdered, and the town is readily able to believe that it was the black vagrant that did it, and all was easily swept under the rug. But that was just too easy. This is the case that sent Jonathan into police work.
Now Tish is back to write a book and expose the truth. A truth that has too many people wanting this story to stay hidden. A truth that will set some free, but will bury others.
Freeman writes a tightly wound thriller that has multiple storylines and has the reader rapidly turning pages to see which conclusion will answer the questions the Jonathan has been trying to solve. Did his beloved Cindy keep secrets from him? Why didn’t he know about Tish?
Freeman slowly unfold more depth to his continuing characters. Slowly, but sure, we begin to see the inner workings of these characters and what makes them tick.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
4 out of 5
First of all the title of the book really bothered me. Too much of a take off of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. But I read the book anyway. And with the British humor that runs though this book, I am glad I did.
Jo Mackenzie gave up a very promising career in television broadcasting to raise her two boys while her husband dashes around the world to cover international stories. On his last visit home he informs Jo that he would like a divorce, but the wanker gets himself killed in an automobile accident and Jo is left with two young rambunctious children and not sure how or if she should actually mourn his loss.
When she find that they are in severe debt and a second mortgage had been taken out on their home without her knowledge; what is she to do but pull up stakes, buy her grandmothers knitting shop and start over again.
Not your typical “Oh, poor me” type of book, Jo is a refreshing character that has learned to make the best of what she has and not to dwell too much on the past. It would be nice if her boys could have a father, but together they are a family and that is good enough.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
3 out of 5
In this 4th Hannah Swenson mystery, Hannah’s mother finds a body in the basement of a home that is set to be demolished. Things get a little sticky when one of Hannah’s Lemon Meringue Pies is found on the table with two slices missing with very little evidence of who was sharing the pie with Rhonda when she was murdered. The high school principal, guidance counselor and even the local reverend seem likely suspects.
Once again the residents of Lake Eden, Minnesota aren’t sure if Hannah is the culprit or the only one that can solve the crime. Seems drug store clerk Ronda Scharf had a couple of secrets of her own. Namely a bank robbery and missing money that has just started to show up.
And now Hannah, with the help of her two sometimes boyfriends, Mike and Norman, set out to solve the murder. Once again the book seems more drawn around the romantic antics of Hannah, Mike and Norman with the mystery plot definitely playing second fiddle.
For me this book was a little bit slower moving and not a whole lot going on as compared to the previous books in the series. Andrea is still ditzy with moments of brilliance, Mom is still annoying and Hannah who seems to be the smart reliable character can’t get her personal life together, which for me is starting to wear thin. Not as fun as the love triangle in the Evanovich books, but an interesting break from hardboiled mysteries.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener
M C Beaton
4 out of 5
Somehow I had gotten these books out of order and had to go back and read this one. For some reason I had confused it with a Nancy Atherton book; well, at least that is who I think it was.
After taking a break from Carsely and James Lacey, Agatha returns from her cruise with a few extra pounds and finds that she now has competition for James’ affection and it’s none other then a tall, beautiful, well put together woman by the name of Mary Fortune.
When Agatha finds that Mary has taken the gardening club by storm she sets out to beat her at her own game. Since Agatha is not against cheating to win at all costs, remember the cake incident in the first book, she sets out to win both James and the gardening award.
When mysterious incidents start happening around Carsely and a curious murder occurs, it’s up to Agatha, with the help of the wayward James, to solve the crimes and to find out how much Carsely really loves and appreciates Agatha.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
3 out of 5
Annie Lauance has retuned to Broward’s Rock Island to run her uncles bookshop after his death. Ever since her childhood visits, this part of South Carolina has always been home.
This isn’t your typical bookshop, they specialize in mysteries and when a much disliked author is murdered during a weekly gathering of island writers all fingers point to shop owner Annie - who had just had her own blow up with Elliot Morgan.
Just when Annie’s life couldn’t get anymore complicated her past comes for a visit in the shape of the very dashing and quite wealthy Max Darling. To win Annie back, Max starts his own investigating and with any luck he will exonerate Annie and get the girl of his dreams. That is if she would ever take Max seriously.
Carolyn Hart takes the reader on an interesting journey with this book. Though she does go off a bit with central characters living in tree houses, she incorporates famous writers and interesting mystery plots that remind the reader of past books and how enjoyable they were.
Friday, July 3, 2009
The Devlin Diary
4 out of 5
The whole time I was reading this book I kept saying to myself, “you didn’t need to read the first book in this series, The Rossetti Letter, to understand this book“. But, by the end I really think that I missed something in reading this one first. By the end there was just too much references to Princess Henriette-Anne, which is who the first book is written about.
This book alternates between Dr. Clare Donovan a present day lecturer and historian who is on a temporary loan program to Cambridge University and 17th Century Hannah Devlin the physician to the king’s mistress. Needing a new subject in the ever present publish or parish mentality of academia, Clare accidentally stumbles across Hannah’s diary in a musty chamber of Trinity College. This is no typical diary, this one is written in code and thus the mystery and challenge begins.
With the help of Andrew Kent, a main character from the first book, and a snarkey but dashing professor named Derek Goodman; who has quite a few secrets of his own, Clare begins to put the pieces together. When Goodman is found murdered with part of the diary in his hand, Kent and Donovan set off to solve murders centuries apart but apparently intertwined.
Christi Phillips puts you right into this story. From the decaying 17th century with it’s rules about women to modern day Cambridge University with it “rules” about outsiders. This two fold mystery will keep most readers enthralled. With either it’s modern day adventure or historical intrigue Phillips tells two stories that draw vivid pictures of the times and the people that live there.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Prayers for Sale
4 out of 5
As I kept reading this book, that old saying about an onion having many layers was repeated over and over in my mind.
An elderly widow named Hennie Comfort has a sign on her front fence that says "Prayers for Sale" and one day a very young newly married girl asks Hennie to prayer for her and thus begins a very unlikely friendship.
Set in small minding town called Middle Swan, Colorado during the 1930's, the friendship and mentorship of 80 year old Hennie and and 17 year old Nit Spindle begins. Between ranch living, and quilting, and life dramas, the lives of these two women and the community they live in slowly come together.
Hennie sees a lot of herself in Nit, and Nit in turn, sees in Hennie the strong woman that she one day would like to be. They have each had their hardships and each will come out a better person for what they have had to endure and because of the gamblers, and moonshiners and soiled doves and corrupt business practices, they will each in turn be a stronger person for it.
Sandra Dallas does a wonderful job in setting the historical feel, with enough lore and truth to keep you turning the page.