Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Settling In

Well, the move is complete and it is actually starting to feel like home. Most of the pictures are hung and the boxes are put away. Realized that I had forgotten to pack about one-third of my work clothes so had to go back and get them. Now I just have to finish getting all the utilities in my name, the apartment management was gracious enough to let me have a couple weeks free.

Living in town is a different experience. It used to be running out for a gallon of milk was an hour long event, now it’s 5 minutes to the store and home again; something that I haven’t been used to for 10 years now.

On Sunday my daughter and I went 5 minutes away and saw Little Fockers, hadn’t seen the first two and was not sure about jumping into number three but loved every minute of it and the best part the theater was so close we could have walked.

Now that the New Year is coming I am beginning to look forward to our new adventure. Still not sure about how my budget will work out I just have to have faith that it will and that this was the best choice for us all.

So here’s to a new year and a new chapter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What to do with an old Wedding Dress

What does one do with a used wedding dress? 26 years ago when we stood before God and man and swore our undying love for each other I thought that I would save the dress and one day pass it on to our child or niece or someone that would appreciate and cherish the gift.

Now that the marriage is over, what do you do with a used dress?

If someone gave me a dress from a wedding that had ended in divorce, would I think that it was cursed? We did last 26 years and I know that many marriages do not last half of that and some might think it's a lucky charm of sorts, but still I don't know.

Right now, it's just a dress in a hermetically sealed box with the outside gathering dust and awaiting a new location on the top of yet another closet waiting for the owner to either hand it off or ......... actually I don't have an or. Just do not know what to do with it.

Which also brings up the questions, what do you do with the shoes, the cake topper and the wedding album?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Countdown To Moving Day

Well, it is the one-week countdown to moving day. I do not know if I am ready, if I ever will be ready, but this is what life has given me right now and I have to make the best of it.

I love the house we live in, the home that I thought we had created for our children, and now I have to leave. To start a new life on my own and try to create new lasting memories of happy times for my children.

I do not know how this went so wrong. When you think you are doing what is best and only come to find out, through divorce papers that your best was not good enough, is one of the hardest things that you will have to live through.

How do you start over, how do you pack your boxes and keep a smile on your face so you can be strong for your children and know that soon, you will close the door on this life and struggle everyday to pay the rent and utilities and put groceries on the table and no one is there to stand with you and to help you stand up when all you want to do is crumble.

Divorce hurts, it hurts your soul in a way that you never knew was possible. The soul that holds your children and all of their hopes and dreams and you realize that you have done this to them. That you were not able to hold their stability together. That you have ripped their lives apart and no amount of apologizing or hope will ever put it all back together.

So now, I head back to my boxes and packing tape and with my tears, I pray that I can make this all right. I need to make this all right for my children.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Tale of Hill Top Farm

The Tale of Hill Top Farm

Susan Wittig Albert

3 out of 5

I've always had a problem with books that have talking animals as main characters. I'm not talking the picture books of our childhood; I am talking about grown up books, without pictures, that have farm animals talking to each other in a regular tone and voice.

Maybe I should have done a little more research into this series by Susan Wittig Albert to know that this is really a mature version of the Beatrix Potter books of my childhood.

After the untimely death of her fiancé, a fictional Beatrix Potter travels to a new home that she has purchased with the proceeds from her little books. Trying to break free from a demanding father, Beatrice purchases Hill Top Farm where she can continue her interest in writing, drawing and studying nature. But most important, to achieve the almost impossible, that being independence.

A cozy mystery would be nothing without the appropriate dead body showing up and that is just what happens when a well liked villager is found dead- but is it not as simple as that when there are also funds missing, a valuable painting is no longer the wall that Beatrix remembers from a previous visit, and most importantly, the parish register that holds the records of Near and Far Sawrey residents.

Nothing is as simple as it seems, but with the local cats, dogs and owl on the case, it won't be long until all is right in this little part of the Lake District.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wanna Get Lucky

Wanna Get Lucky

Deborah Coonts

5 out of 5

I really enjoyed this new series by Deborah Coontz.

Lucky O'Toole is Head of Customer Relations at the Babylon, a new luxury resort on the Strip in Las Vegas. On a daily basis she sees her share of the misfits and the bizarre but since her mother is one of the top madams in Las Vegas, you really have to hit the weird scale hard to even begin to fluster Ms O'Toole.

So when a woman falls to her death from a sightseeing helicopter into the middle of a Pirate show, Lucky doesn't see it as just another unlucky victim. She knows this woman and there most assuredly is more to this story. Add in Lucky's new love interest Teddy, the premiere female impersonator in Las Vegas, and you have quite an interest cast of characters. Though some parts of the story are predictable, the never ending shenanigans that Lucky must deal with on a daily basis are what kept this book interesting to me.

The adage, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" really does apply in this book.

I look forward to the next in the series, and I certainly hope that Ms Coonts can keep the pace and tomfoolery alive and kicking throughout this series.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Final Jeopardy

Final Jeopardy

Linda Fairstein

2 out of 5

I am still very much up in the air about this book.

In the past I have loved books by Linda Fairstein, but for some reason, this one just didn't come across as well. The storyline and the supporting characters felt rather flat, nothing really stood out in the storyline and I didn't feel the urgency that would be necessary for a book like this.

In a case of mistaken identity, Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper has been reported murdered when a body fitting Alex's description is found in a car rented to her on a deserted road leading to the summer home of Alexandra Cooper - S e x Crimes Prosecutor.

But it's not Alex, its Isabella Lascar, a film star that just needs a break from her life and some peace and quiet. Now the question is who was the real intended victim? As Alex combs her past cases to see who would be out for revenge and scouring Isabella's life to find the stalker that was writing letters and threatening call to her, the hunt goes on for the killer and the reason behind the murder.

The ending is good, if a bit unbelievable, but overall, the book just didn't do anything for me. I will pick up other books by Ms Fairstein, because of past success, but for this one, I would recommend that you pass.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hannah's List

Hannah's List

Debbie Macomber

3 out of 5

I have been enjoying this series until this book. It's not because of the storyline, which flows well with the other books; it's not the characters because there are enough recurring characters that make this a nice story to come back to. My dislike comes from a purely sexist stance. This book, unlike the others, is from the male perspective. Somehow, this very female series hit a snag for me when it was told in Dr. Michael Everett's voice.

A year after his wife Hannah succumbs to ovarian cancer; Michael receives a letter with a list outlining the three women that she, Hannah, would like for Michael to get to know. Michael has a way of folding up into himself and with this list Hannah is asking him to meeting someone, fall in love and start a family.

At first Michael is appalled at the idea, but his love for Hannah is stronger and he quite reluctantly gives the three women a chance.
As I said, it's not a bad storyline, just not what I had been expecting. The novel follows all three women, in addition to Michael, so you get to know each woman and find yourself picking and choosing along with Michael who would be the best match for him. Sort of like a human version of the TV show House Hunters where you get to view properties and make a decision on which would suit the potential buyer best. I know, that was harsh, but that is the feel that I got.

Being a typical Macomber, there is a happily ever after feel to the whole book and it was a nice reprieve from the hectic world to just sit down and relax with an old favorite series and likeable characters. Even if it was from a male perspective and he was auditioning women.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden

MC Beaton

3 out of 5

No matter how much I adore Agatha Raisin, some books just aren't as good as others. This is one of those that missed the mark for me. A little on the boring side with very little momentum to keep the storyline moving forward.

Since Agatha had quite the hair incident at the end of Wizard of Evesham, she has decided to take a holiday to the seaside town of Wyckhadden. She needs a break from her life and most definitely a break from James Lacey.

What she finds is a small hotel with horrible elderly guests and nasty weather. Not exactly the restful situation she was looking for. Having nowhere else to turn, she settles in and learns of Francie Juddle the local witch. Well, things are looking up for Agatha and she head out to investigate. What is even more interesting is the supposed love potion that Francie brews.

Once again, Agatha stumbles onto a dead body. Who would have guessed?
As Agatha does her own amateur sleuthing she quickly comes to the conclusion that one of her fellow hotel guests must be the killer.

What really threw me off of this book was yet another character named Jimmy. First there is James Lacey her love interest, then there was Jimmy Raisin her first husband and now there is Jimmy Jessop, the handsome local police officer. For a person who reads this series, the over use of the same name is a bit of a distraction.
Sir Charles Fraith reappears in this book and I have to say he is my most favorite character. His humor and chiding certainly keeps Agatha on her toes and a needed breath of fresh air to Agatha stodgy temperament.

To keep Agatha's character moving forward you really should read the books in order, just be forewarned that not all books are as good as their predecessors.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Voignier Vendetta

The Viognier Vendetta: A Wine Country Mystery (Wine Country Mysteries)

Ellen Crosby

4 out of 5

Ellen Crosby's Wine Country Mysteries is yet another series that I look forward to reading. Her lead character, Lucie Montgomery, is warm and inviting with just enough sass and intelligence to entertain a reader without being too sugar sweet or condescending.

The fifth book in the series brings Lucie Montgomery to Washington DC during the cherry blossom season to meet up with an old friend, Rebecca Natele. But this meeting wasn't the spur of the moment unplanned event that Lucie was expecting. Something was definitely up and when Rebecca suddenly disappears with her clothes found neatly folded in a rowboat floating down the Potomac, Lucie wonders if it was actually suicide. This is Washington after all and when you mix politics, scandal, billionaires and a missing antique silver wine cooler looted by British soldier's before they burned the White House during the War of 1812, you just never know who is telling the truth and which lie might actually have a partial truth to it.

Ellen Crosby adds the right amount of history to her books to both entertain and educate the reader. You are left feeling that Ms Crosby had done her research and you come away with more than a nice mystery, you also are left with a bit of history and a little more knowledge then you started with.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham

MC Beaton

4 out of 5

Agatha is a never ending source of entertainment for me. From storyline to storyline she manages to get herself in one jam after another with pretty much the same outcome. Though that sounds redundant, MC Beaton makes the books entertaining and at times downright laugh out loud funny.

Agatha should never be left to her own devices, when she is bored things go from bad to "Oh, Agatha" very quickly. So when James is out of the country, Bill is on vacation and Charles is a bit stand offish, Agatha decides to head off to Evesham and visit the wonder Mr. John, a salon owner who has a way of working miracles.

Agatha gets a bit more than she bargained for when Mr. John starts putting on the romantic moves, y nature Agatha is a big apprehensive, and when Mr. John collapses in his shop she grabs his keys and heads to his home to find out what this man is really all about.

Is he really the blackmailer that everyone seems to believe he is or is there something or someone else actually pulling all the strings.
As the story comes to light, Agatha once again has the fame and glory pulled out from under her and must return to Carsley with a rather fantastical tale and no way of proving that it was actually she who solved yet another case for the police.

Agatha just needs to face the fact that no good deed goes unpunished and no matter what she does to get James attention it is just going to backfire on her which is what, in an absurd way, makes me come back to these books time and again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Until Proven Guilty

Until Proven Guilty

JA Jance

2 out of 5

I really wanted to like this series, since I enjoy the Allison Reynolds series so much, but that was not the case. Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont of the Seattle Police Department comes across as too gruff and too much of the typical stereotype cop that you see every night on television.

When a five year old child is found dead and the mother is caught up in a fundamentalist cult you know that there is not going to be a happy ending. Plus, a well seasoned cop suddenly falling for a stranger and unexplainably dreams of their life together just doesn’t blend well for me. This story was just too choppy and all over the place.

I am glad that I had found the Reynolds series first or I would have just totally given up on this author. Different strokes I guess, but I will not be finding myself looking for anymore J.P. Beaumont.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So Far This Year

Total Pages Read 14178
Fiction 18
Non-Fiction 6
Mystery (All Genres) 37
New Authors 35
Audio 10
Young Adult 1

Total Books Read 62

I really thought that I had read more than this.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Amazing Gracie

Amazing Gracie

Sherryl Woods

5 out of 5

I am not usually a fan of girlie romance types of books, but sometimes the right book lands in your lap and you are really glad that you read it.

Gracie McDougall is looking for something and it's definite not running a small luxury hotel in France, though she loves her job, she is looking for something that is missing and her mind keeps wandering to the small town of Seagull Point, Virginia. This town holds old memories for her, but she doesn't know if it's enough to keep her there until she stumbles upon a rundown Victorian that is just calling for her to turn into a Bed and Breakfast. That is if the difficult property manager would just listen to her plans.

Kevin Daniels has no desire to let some upstart come into his town and try and turn his family home into one of those dreadful tourist traps. He has no desire to listen to her plans and definitely does not want his aunt anywhere near this beautiful charming woman.

Well, as all romances lead in the same direction, there is certainly an attraction between the two and who knows what can happen with you mix business with pleasure.

Sherryl Woods weaves a very entertaining story, mixing enough of the main plot with just the right amount of subplot to keep the reader involved in all the storylines. It is disappointing that this book wasn't the beginning of a series, I really think that Ms Woods was on to something really good. Maybe someday, but for now, this stand alone will remain one of my favorites books this year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Murder at Monticello

Murder at Monticello

Rita Mae Brown

3 out of 5

Other than hope that this series will improve I don’t know why I keep reading. Every book is the same, the human characters are slow and the animals save the day. Really? At no time in Crozet, Virginia can you find a smart human?

I have never read these books in order, but then again, I don’t think that it is a requirement. The characters stay the same, the animals stay the same, only small portions of the locale seem to differentiate the books.

This time the reader is taken to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello here the discovery of the human remains of a wealthy Caucasian male are found beneath the hearth of a slave’s cabin.

Harry, with her usual band of dim-wits, search historical records for some clue as to the identity of this man from the early 1800’s. But not all involved in this matter want the truth to come out. Sometimes history should stay buried, but with a couple of cats and a corgi on the case, no human has a chance to keep their secrets hidden.

Once again Rita Mae Brown has her political agendas stamped into this book. I just wish she would make up her mind if she wants to be a speech writer or an author of mysteries. If you want completely mindless reading and a heavy dose of the author’s personal opinions and political views, I would suggest this series. Otherwise, head out of Crozet and into a town with a smarter human population.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

31 Bond Street

31 Bond Street

Ellen Horan

4 out of 5

Historical mysteries are always hit and miss with me. Sometimes the author assumes that the reader knows more about the period then they do or are overly descriptive of the environment and fainting couches.

31 Bond Street falls more into the middle of the road. Ellen Horan explains enough, but at the same time, leaves a bit up to your imagination as to what really did go on behind the doors of 31 Bond Street.

When Emma Cunningham’s resources start to run a bit thin she sets her sights on Dr. Burdell. He has the money, the power and most importantly, the correct address. What she sees as her ride to the top, he sees as a new house manager. She and her daughters can have the room upstairs and he can brag to his friends that he now has a new investor for a rather shady deal that is being cooked up.
Unfortunately, things don’t work out as either had planned when Burdell is found dead and Emma is quickly blamed. To her rescue comes Henry Clinton, newly branching out on his own as a criminal defense attorney, who must go toe to toe with Abraham Oakey Hall who has his eye on the Mayor’s seat and this black hearted gold digger is not going to get in his way. If Dr. Burdell has taught Emma anything, it’s not to trust anyone, so what does she do when a murder has been committed and all fingers point directly at her.

A very captivating and twisty tale set in 1857 New York, the reader is taken on a journey of the times and tone of this gritty place. A tale of murder, greed and politics – add 150 years to the date and you could have a new episode of Law and Order.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brother Odd

Brother Odd

Dean Koontz

4 out of 5

Considering how the prior book, Forever Odd, ended I was under the belief that Brother Odd would have centered more on the Elvis character, unfortunately, that was not the case. Once I got over my disillusionment, I found that I rather enjoyed this book. Actually, I’m really enjoying the whole series.

Needing a break from Pico Mundo, and the place that holds so many memories of Stormy, Odd heads to the solitude of an isolated mountain monastery, but peace is not what he finds there. Lurking around the corners are supernatural beings, a quirky Russian and not to mention a rather reclusive mad scientist. With humor that is all Koontz, the reader not only finds himself entertained, but from time to time laughing out loud.

Koontz’s writing is never lollipops and rainbows, but he does bring humor and scientific wonder that has the reader wondering what is actually going on the writers head.

Odd, to say the least is an interesting character and I do hope the Koontz can keep up the pace with this series. From time to time he has let me down, going too far afield with is imaginings, but this time and this series, he seems to have the right tone and feel.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Love Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love the idea of getting together with loved ones because that is where you want to be. There is no hidden agenda, no obligatory gifts to buy, just good laughs and great food.

This year will be different for us. It will only be my children and I. In a couple of weeks, we will have a second Thanksgiving with friends. We will all gather for a great day of ping-pong and football. Eye watering laughs and new memories.

Holidays seem to be different for everyone. Take this time to be thankful for what you do have, the blessings that you have been given and the blessings that you are to others.

We might not all be in the place of our choosing, but we are here and we can make this a great day for those around us.

Be a Joy for Someone

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rapidly Changing Life

After 26 years of marriage, I am now finding myself in the middle of a divorce and moving into my own apartment. My daughter and I will be moving across town, closer to school and work and starting a new life for ourselves. My son will be staying with his father until he leaves for the Air Force in a year. Though I thought that this was going to be a major trauma, I think it is what is best for now.

So, how does one go from a 2,400 square foot house to a 650 square foot apartment? You first start by donating 400 books to your local library and thrift store. This is no simple task. I have been working on it for a couple of weeks now and both locations are asking for no more book donations. Still have a couple of boxes here and nowhere to take them. Will have to go on covert operations and leave them by their door early in the morning so that way they cannot say no. Still have lots of other stuff to drop off, so maybe if I add a box at a time, they won't complain too much.

Next on to every cupboard and drawer. It is amazing the amount of stuff that you accumulate. Thankfully, my soon to be ex-husband is keeping the house, for now, so I can slowly move all of our necessary stuff in steps.

We will be fully moved in right before Christmas, not a great time to move, but that is the best that I can do. That is what I have to remember, this may not be great, but it is the best that I can do.

So that is a short explanation as to why there have not been any reviews in a while. I am still reading, but the idea of actually sitting down and writing the reviews is beyond me right now. Everyday is not a positive state of mind, just working through the stages one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ghost In Trouble

Ghost in Trouble

Carolyn Hart

3 out of 5

I was not as impressed with this third outing of the Bailey Ruth Series. The first two books had a steady flow, whereas, Ghost in Trouble came across to me as too choppy with a profusion of unnecessary characters. Get to the point, stick to the point and encourage me on the path to the ending that is the formula for a good book. This on the other hand just did not have the spark to keep me reading.

As we know from the previous books, Bailey Ruth Raeburn and her husband died in a boating accident and now Bailey works as a heavenly emissary helping to keep the living out of trouble. Unfortunately, Bailey has a problem when it comes to following the precepts and from time to time oversteps her boundaries much to the frustration of Wiggins her immediate superior.

Bailey Ruth arrives back in Adelaide, Oklahoma, her former in real life home, to help Kay Clark after her boyfriend, Jack Hume, is discovered dead as the bottom of a staircase at the family home known as the Castle, a local Adelaide landmark.

In and out of the story comes the over abundance of characters that lead this reader to refresh her memory as to how they all fit in.

As with the two previous books, Bailey's antics and sudden appearances in multiple outfits, that are practically a character all their own, lead to the bad guys getting caught and the good guys riding off into the sunset, or the train that is barreling into take Bailey Ruth back home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

So Far This Year

Total Pages Read 11930
Fiction 16
Non-Fiction 6
Mystery (All Genres) 32
New Authors 33
Audio 10
Young Adult 1

Total Books Read 55

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mr. Pip

Mr. Pip

Lloyd Jones

4 out of 5

From where the first chapter begins to where this books ends is nothing short of a surprise. Usually, you can pick up a book, read the first chapter or two and know the direction that the writer wants to take you - not so with Mr. Pip. What begins with a classroom enjoying Great Expectation will lead the reader to a devastating end that has a young child rebuilding her life --with the help of Charles Dickens and an unforgettable teacher lovingly call Mr. Pip.

Told from the perspective of young Matilda, the reader is introduced to Mr. Watts, a white man who has come to a small island near Papua New Guinea to teach the local children. However, his teaching is a little different then what you would expect. His whole curriculum is based off Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

Amidst the racial conflicts between the blacks and the redskins, Mr. Watts, or Mr. Pip - as he wants the children to call him, begins the Dickens tale and quickly draws the children in, while gartering the mistrust of many adults, into Pips world and thereby captivating the children during the liberation struggle that is going on around them.

This is no sweet little tale, the times and people are brutal, but with determination, Great Expectations, Mr. Pip and Matilda's story will live on for many generations.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Support Your Local Library Challenge - COMPLETE

2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Goal: 25
Out of a possible 5

1) Dead to the World 4
Charlaine Harris

2) Gone 4
Lisa Gardner

3) Little Giant of Aberdeen County 4
Tiffany Bakker

4) Trial By Fire 4
JA Jance

5) Reisling Retribution 4
Ellen Crosby

6) Summer on Blossom Street 4
Debbie Macomber

7) Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist 3
M. C Beaton

8) Mozart's Ghost 3
Julia Cameron

9) The Burying Place 5
Brian Freeman

10) Starter Vegetable Gardens 5
Barbara Pleasant

11) True Food 4
Annie B. Bond

12) Deja Dead 4
Kathy Reichs

13) Mrs. Malory Investigates 4
Hazel Holt

14) Killer Pancake 3
Diane Mott Davidson

15) Ghouls Gone Wild 4
Victoria Laurie

16) An Irish Country Doctor 5
Patrick Taylor

17) The Bride Will Keep Her Name 4
Jan Goldstein

18) Maisie Dobbs 3
Jacqueline Winspear

19) The Pioneer Woman Cooks 5
Ree Drummond

20) Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death 4
MC Beaton

21) A Glimpse of Evil 5
Victoria Laurie

22) Coop 4
Michael Perry

23) The Cruellest Month 4
Hazel Holt

24) Grounds for Murder 3
Sandra Balzo

25) Forever Odd 4
Dean Koontz

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

First In A Series / Cozy Mystery - COMPLETE

First in a Series Cozy Mysteries 2010 Goal: 12
rated out of a possible 5

1) Hooked On Murder 4
Betty Hechtman

2) Death By Cashmere 4
Sally Goldenblaum

3) The Cat, The Quilt And The Corspe 2
Leann Sweeney

4) The Long Quiche Goodbye 3
Avery Aames

5) The Nanny Murders 3
Merry Jones

6) Just Desserts 4
G.A. McKevett

7) Fatal Fixer-Upper 3
Jennie Bentley

8) Wish You Were Here 4
Rita Mae Brown

9) Murder is Binding 4
Lorna Barrett

10) Paper, Scissors, Death 3
Joanna Campbell

11) A Slice of Murder 3
Chris Cavendar

12) Maid for Murder 3
Barbara Colley

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Nanny Murders

The Nanny Murders

Merry Jones

3 out of 5

Very boring and I had to work exceptionally hard to keep my head in the game, but the very end was quite creepy and almost had me wanting to give the book a higher rating.

Zoe Hayes, the lead character, lives in an upper class close-knit Philadelphia neighborhood where the local nannies begin to disappear. Zoe, an art therapist in a mental hospital, and her daughter are quickly thrown into the foray when Molly finds a human finger in the snow and with this clue, Zoe knows that the serial killer has to be one of her neighbors.

I know a huge jump in the storyline, but pretty much this is how it happened. Of course, you have to throw in the police detective that will make their lives complete and then when the killer is found and the trumpets blare they will all live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that is where the creepy part comes in. When your mom works in an institute for the seriously deranged, part of her work might come home with her and a Steven King-esque twist appears just when you were not expecting it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Death Without Company

Death Without Company

Craig Johnson

5 out of 5

I really enjoy this series. Book one was good, but I think that this one, Death Without Company, was even better. The storyline and character development brought the characters into a realism that had you wondering if you really did know these people.

Walt Longmire's decisions are never easy, but when Mari Borja is found dead at the same Assisted Living Facility as Lucian Connally, the retired sheriff of Absaroka County, Walt is throwing into the middle of a twisted story that has his scratching his head and wondering just who isn't tell the whole truth.

Walt's department of misfits and new recruits has him questioning how the Crow, the Cheyenne, the Basques, millions of dollars in methane gas and an abusive drunk named Charlie Nurburn all come together and have their individual parts in the death of Mari. Add in his deputy Vic who is the most brazen character in this book, and Henry Standing Bear and his rather interesting use of non-politically correct English and you have both an excellent mystery and an entertaining insight into Durant, Wyoming.

I space these books out in fear that I will run out of the adventures of Walt Longmire. Highly entertaining and definitely a book that you have to pay close attention to or you might just miss the little clues along the way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Hanging Tree

The Hanging Tree

Bryan Gruley

3 out of 5

I've heard it said that it takes a lifetime to write your first book and you only have six months to get the next one out, well that is exactly how this one felt after reading the first Starvation Lake mystery, waiting expectantly for this one and being disappointed in the slow pace and real lack of plot.

Once again, the readers are back in Starvation Lake with Gus Carpenter, editor of the Pine County Pilot, where Gracie McBride, the girl who left town eighteen years earlier is found hanging from the said "Hanging Tree". The tree where the local teens hang shoes to mark memorable moments in their lives.

The problem is that Gus does not see Gracie's death as a suicide. Things just are not adding up and with the influence of a new resident in town and Gracie's less than savory past, the new owners of the newspaper want to quickly put Gracie's death to rest and move on with the new goings on in town.

Overall, the book was flat to me. No real climatic moment, nothing that really stood out as a redemption moment that would have made the whole reading experience worthwhile.

Very much a disappointment after I had so enjoyed the first book in this series.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

So Far This Year

Total Pages Read 11034
Fiction 15
Non-Fiction 6
Mystery (All Genres) 29
New Authors 31
Audio 9
Young Adult 1

Total Books Read 51

This isn't quite the true refection of my reading for the month. I have about 12 reviews still to be written but haven't gotten to them. Hopefully, by next month I will be caught up.

September Reviews:

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting

Seven Up

Fly Away Home

Wish I had more to add, hopefully, I will do better next month.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fly Away Home

Fly Away Home

Jennifer Weiner

5 out of 5

I'm not a big fan of V.E.R.B. books. Victim, Entitled, Rescue, Blame types of books, or people for that matter. So I surprised myself when I picked up Fly Away Home and read it in two days. This isn't your typical woman trying to find herself type of book, it's more of a woman trying to get back to who she was all along. I know that sounds like a slight twist of words, but all Sylvie Serfer-Woodruff wanted was to go back to the simple girl she was in college before Richard Woodruff swooped into her life and turned her into the perfect political wife.

A fulfilling life should not entail having to stay twenty pounds thinner than when you were twenty and to fix your husband's breakfast plate while he runs off to do important work and you are left to struggle into yet another pair of stocking to give yet another unimportant speech to yet another group of self involved people.

In one quick moment Sylvie's life is changed when Richard's extramarital affair makes headlines and she and her two daughters, Lizzie a recovering addict and Diana an emergency room physician - who is trapped in a loveless marriage, and beginning an affair of her own, all converge and with the strength of family these three women come through their own torment to find a strength and purpose that they didn't know had existed.

Those who say you can never go home again have never had the blessing of actually going home. Going home to a place that is both a sanctuary and a reprieve. This is the gift that Sylvie has given to both her daughters and through them, to herself.

I have never read a Jennifer Weiner book before, I didn't think that an offering like this could actually resonate with me, but I was wrong. I don' t know if all her books will hit me this way, but this was definitely the right book at the right time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seven Up

Seven Up

Janet Evanovich

3 out of 5

By the time this book was over, I could not tell you if the whole Stephanie Plum storyline had moved forward or not. The book started slow and never really picks up any momentum.

Stephanie embarks on what she considers an easy-peasy assignment; bring in Eddie DeChooch an octogenarian mobster. How difficult could that be, he drives around Trenton in a white Cadillac, kind of stands out, even for Trenton. Well, when it comes to Stephanie nothing is ever easy, especially when there is corpse found in Eddie's garage.

Not only does she have to find this gangster, but she also has to come up with a date for her pending nuptials to Joe, but then again, why would she do that when Ranger has offered her an evening of bliss. Decisions, Decisions.

Add in perfect sister Valerie coming back for more than a visit and the shambles of Stephanie's life is certainly on a roll, if only we knew which direction she would go.

I will continue with the series, I just hope the next one keeps my interest a little better.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting

Michael Perry

4 out of 5

Many memoirist have a hard time pulling off the self-depreciating humor angle, Perry is definitely a writer that stands out from the rest. He uses his humble beginnings and his misadventures in farming and family to bring the reader into his world. With just the right amount of wit, you see Michael Perry for the kind and considerate father and man that make this world a better place.

In Coop, Michael and his wife share a one-year adventure on 35plus acres of land, with the combining of family, farm and a new child on the way life just is not the simple journey that he remembers with parents that made due in rather unique ways and friends that come to the rescue with inventive solutions to the daily traumas that farm life brings.

If you are looking for a true "farming" book, this is not it, but if you are looking for laugh out loud moments on a farm with a clueless farmer and his flock of family and friends than I highly recommends this book. However, do note that there are gut wrenching moments that will bring tears to your eyes and that will take the reader on a full circle of human emotions.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So Far This Year

Total Pages Read 10250
Fiction 14
Non-Fiction 5
Mystery (All Genres) 28
New Authors 29
Audio 9
Young Adult 1

Total Books Read 48

I took a bit of a break with my reviewing in August. I have about 8 in the wings, so check back soon to see what I have been reading

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Forever Odd

Forever Odd

Dean Koontz

4 out of 5

Since I did not enjoy the first book in this series, until its very end, I surprised myself by picking up this one and realizing that I enjoyed it quite a bit more.

Odd really endeared himself to me in this one. From the beginning with his story about Elvis to the end where he will do what it takes, even if it is his own life, to help a friend. That is what Odd does, and with the help of his loved ones in the town of Pico Mundo, Odd will forever be treasured by his band of friends and the readers of this series.

Odd Thomas does not consider himself a hero, he just has the ability to communicate with the dead and has a built in magnet that draws people, whether alive or dead, to him. Odd's a good person so when his childhood friend disappears, Odd uses his ability to find him, not realizing that this journey will take him to an old abandoned casino and the evil Datura, who is determined to use Odd's gifts to further her own wicked goals.

The ending leads right into what appears to be the third installment of the Odd Thomas story. That in itself looks very interesting. Just imagine Odd as a Lay member of a religious order with Elvis along, since Elvis knows that this is his way home to his beloved mother.

I am glad that this series is starting to grow on me, I had been a fan of Dean Koontz with his original books, and I am glad that I can once again look forward to reading more.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Switching Time

Switching Time : A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 Personalities

Richard Baer

4 out of 5

Whenever I read a book involving multiple personalities, The Minds of Billy Milligan, When Rabbit Howls, etc, my first response is always - no way, they have to be making this up. However, with this book, Switching Time, Richard Baer makes the trauma that Karen Overhill endured come across as convincing and with her experiences explains how a multiple disorder takes form and how each part of the main, takes on the duties that it was designed for.

The reader is first introduced to Karen during her first meeting with Baer first in January 1989, when she came to his Chicago office complaining of depression and suicidal feelings. During her initial meetings, she begins to recount her bouts of lost memory. Ending up in locations that she does not remember, total strangers that seem to know her, waking up in the morning and her house cleaning is done. As time and therapy progress, Dr. Baer begins to suspect that there is a personality break and with time and hypnosis, 17 individual personals are introduced and explain their individual function in Karen's life.

Parts of the story are hard to fathom, how can a personality break off when Karen is a mere infant herself. How can an infants mind separate horrific childhood abuse and break off to develop an alter to take the abuse? If that is possible, it just does not make sense to my mind.

As each personality comes forward, letters are written and pictures are drawn that show how individual each "person" really is. By the end, the reader has come to know each child and adult and when they are integrated, it is like watching a friend leave. Not all personalities are likeable, not all are beneficial, but by the end, Karen is integrated into a whole person that just might be able to handle all that has happened and to one day be able to acknowledge and accept what had happened to her.

Though the middle bogged down a bit and parts seemed a bit too repetitious, over all the book was quite interesting. The study and science of multiple personality disorder, or dissociative identity disorder, are still debated, but books like help the lay person to understand how the trauma of early abuse can cause the mind to break into parts to deal with the whole.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases

Michael Capuzzo

ISBN: 9781592401420

Publication Date: August 10, 2010

"It's books like this for which the phrase 'page turner' was invented. This deeply compelling work of nonfiction details the lives and interests of the men and women who founded the Vidocq Society, a group of forensic specialists dedicated to solving of cold case murders.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

So Far This Year

Total Pages Read 9882
Fiction 13
Non-Fiction 4
Mystery (All Genres) 28
New Authors 28
Audio 9
Young Adult 1

Total Books Read 46


Paper Scissors Death - Joanna Campbell Slan
Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death - MC Beatson
The Cruellest Month - Hazel Holt
The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Ree Drummond
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
The Long Quiche Goodbye - Avery Aames
Grounds for Murder - Sandra Balzo
Secondhand Spirits - Juliet Blackwell
A Glimpse of Evil - Victoria Laurie


Cozy Challenge: 13/10 COMPLETE
First in a Series: 12/12 COMPLETE
ARC Challenge: 6/12
Support Your Local Library: 25/25 COMPLETE
Chunkster Challenge: 2/6
Reading From My Shelves Challenge: 13/50

This year my challenges will count in multiple categories.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Glimpse of Evil

A Glimpse of Evil

Victoria Laurie

5 out of 5

I really enjoyed this book. The last couple of have not been quite a hit with me, but Ms Laurie has definitely stepped up her game with this book.

I do not know if you actually have to read these books in order, but to understand the character development of Abby Cooper and her friends, it might be a good idea to start at the beginning.

Moving from Boston to Austin, Texas, Abby is following the love of her life, Dutch, to his new job and the two of them will now be members of the newly formed cold case squad. However, for Abby, this is like coming home. Candice is already there and trying to get herself established as a private investigator, Brice Dutch's boss is the head of the new department, her home remodelers and his old lady, and maybe even a police officer from Michigan might show up.

The welcome Abby receives is not as warm as she had hoped- take a bunch of seasoned investigators and they are not going to look too kindly on a psychic. Nevertheless, Abby and Dutch quickly prove that they are a powerhouse when they darn near hit the squads solved case quota in a single day.

As cases seem to come together and a few of them have remarkable similarities, Abby and an almost convinced investigator do a little side work on their own. Unfortunately, it is not the easy question and answer session that they had envisioned. With missing bodies and bullets flying, Abby is once again in way over her head.

The previous books in the series ran very hot and cold with me, but I can tell you that I finished this book in one day, which is something that I do not usually do. The storyline and pace kept solid throughout, even though from time to time Abby and Candice did come across as two high schoolers, but I will forgive this bit of silliness. But just this one time.

I can now say that I would definitely recommend this and the Ghost Hunter Mystery series that Ms Laurie writes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Secondhand Spirits

Secondhand Spirits

Juliet Blackwell

4 out of 5

I am just beginning my adventures into the witchy paranormal types of books. Therefore, I cannot say that I am an expert or can really be a judge of this type of book. Secondhand Spirits has all the prerequisite ingredients for your typical cozy mystery, there is the standard small shop in a small town, a pet - but I do have to say that this one is a bit more interesting and a little on the Harry Potter side, and a dashing man that will sweep the heroine off of her feet.

The storyline is on the ok side, Lily Ivory is a witch on the outside, and she tries to conceal her abilities, which has lead her to lead a separate life. However, after an encounter in a bar she decides to move to San Francisco and open a vintage clothing shop; a shop where she can pick up the vibes from the clothing and match the perfect outfit to the person.

Things are suddenly becoming unsettled in Lily's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. A reclusive woman is found murdered and children from the area are starting to disappear. Lily knows what phantom is behind this, but how does she rescue the children and keep her identity and abilities a secret.

It is an ok start to a new series. Maybe the whole witch genre has to grow on me a bit, but it was refreshing to see a new take on the cozy genre. Time will tell if I revisit this series, there is potential, but not a real click for me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases

Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo
Julia Stuart
ISBN: 9780385533287
Publication Date: August 10, 2010

"Balthazar Jones, a retired military man, is now a Beefeater living in the Tower of London with his family and his 181-year-old pet tortoise named Mrs. Cook. When the queen decides that her menagerie of donated animals should return to live at the Tower as they had centuries before, Balthazar becomes their keeper. This is a touching family story, as well as a delightfully whimsical and zany tale of man and beast.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Grounds for Murder

Grounds for Murder

Sandra Balzo

3 out of 5

Grounds for Murder definitely hits the ground running, unfortunately it begins on a manic pace and by mid book, with it's snippy comments from the main character, the reader feels overwhelmed by what is being thrown at them with no real feel for the end goal of proving who killed LaRoche and why. This book came across more along the vein of throw it on the wall to sees what sticks, then the usual slow meandering pace that most cozies take.

Maggy Thorsen is coordinating the annual JaveHo coffeehouse competition, in Milwaukee, WI, matching local baristas in a head-to-head challenge to see who the best of the best is when it comes to espresso creativity.

Marvin LaRoche, the much-despised proprietor of the HotWired coffeehouse chain is found murdered and stuffed under the awards table, having been bashed in the head by the first place trophy. Before Maggy can be charged with the crime, she sets of to find who actually had the real motivation to kill this horrible man.

With too many likely suspects, Maggie must start matching up stories and convince her love interest and town Sheriff Jake Pavlik, who must have done it and why. That is when she is not trying to round up the Amy, the reining JaveHo barista for her own shop. A shop that Marvin has been trying to put out of business.

Though bland and boring in parts and manic and snarky in others, the reader is definitely on a race to the finish with this book. Not so you can see who-done-it, but to get the book over with so they could read something that is a bit richer and smoother to the palate.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Long Quiche Goodbye

The Long Quiche Goodbye

Avery Aames

3 out of 5

First of all, I didn't understand how the title actually went with the book that I read. The main locale is a cheese shop that also sells quiche. The title should have been more cheese related like - Goudas Dead, or something equally cheesy.

Nevertheless, back to the story - the murder of Ed Woodhouse happens on the night of the grand reopening of the Fromagerie Bessette, also known as the Cheese Shop, in the quiet town of Providence, Ohio, which is located close to Amish Country and geared to the tourist trade.

Ed is not well like, actually despised, since he has made it quite clear that he plans on selling off the buildings in town and the small business owners will either have to ante up the new rents or just close their doors.

Charlotte Bessette and her cousin, Matthew, have put too much time and effort into the shop that they have taken over from their grandparents. When Charlottes' seventy-two year old grandmother is found over the body of the ruthless man, all fingers atomically point to her as the killer. But Grandmere Bernadette is not the only one that would like to see this vile man dead, so with the help of the very entertaining Rebecca Zook, Charlotte sets out to find out what was really going on behind the closed doors of their community.

Unfortunately, Ms Aames did not give enough distinction in the voices of her many characters. Kristine, Tyanne, Freckles, Vivian, Delilah, etc (I actually had to look up those names) all came across as the same person to me. I hope in future books she can either limit her characters or do something to make individuals stand out more.

Overall, this is the usual paint by number cozy mystery. Other then Rebecca Zook's character, who seems to have seen every episode of CSI and Law and Order, the book felt a bit stagnant and at times I wonder if it was ever going to end. Good luck with future installments, but as for now, I do not think I will be revisiting Providence, Ohio.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maisie Dobbs

Maisie Dobbs
(The first book in the Maisie Dobbs series)

Jacqueline Winspear

3 out of 5

For some reason I thought that this book was going to be more mystery then it actually turned out to be. What started out interesting quickly lost its spark for me when it turned out to be more about Maisie's early life and less about the investigation that she was hired for.

Instead of heading off to college as Maisie had planned, this rather inquisitive fourteen year old enters service of Lady. The Lady of the house is rather taken with Maisie's intelligence and arranges for her to be tutored, and with good fortune, Maisie qualifies for Cambridge. Unfortunately, the college cannot keep her interest and within a year, Maisie enters the World War I as a nurse.

Somehow, this is where the story jumps, actually the whole book jumps, but the war is over and Maisie is opening up her own private investigation business. She is asked to look into a rather discreet affair that quickly turns into her investigating the goings on at the Retreat, a remote convalescent home has some rather underhanded business dealings that take advantage of the injured returning soldiers.

Overall, the story is not bad, just not what I was expecting and with so much back story, the whole thing just lost its initial charm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases

The Blessings of the Animals: A Novel
Katrina Kittle
ISBN: 9780061906077
Publication Date: Aug. 3, 2010

"When veterinarian Cami Anderson's husband of 18 years walks out, you can feel the punch to her gut. Just like you can feel the bite an abused horse gives Cami's arm, the anguish she feels watching her teenage daughter struggle, the tentative attraction she feels when new men arrive in her life, and the love she feels for the motley assortment of rescued animals, the quirky life-long friends, and the complicated extended family that people her world and eventually pull her through. In this story of learning to stand on your own two feet, Kittle once again proves that she can stand up with the very best storytellers of our time."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saving CeeCee HoneyCutt

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Beth Hoffman

5 out of 5

Sometimes you can choose books by its cover.

What drew me originally to this book was the beautiful cover art, it was just appealing from the start, so when I opened to the first page to get a feel for what Beth Hoffman was offering I was surprised to realize that I didn't stop reading until the first chapter was finished.

Ms. Hoffman draws very memorable characters and has a way with putting you right in the middle of a family drama before you even realize that you are several pages in. The feeling and the tempo stay consistent throughout and the characters will stay with you as you cheer them on or want to throw a shoe at them from across the room.

Being named the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen was the defining moment in Camille's life so when the fall into mental illness took hold it was up to her daughter, twelve year old CeeCee, to hold things together since her father Carl had decided that it would be best to be a traveling salesman instead of the father and husband he was supposed to be.

Things quickly barrel out of control and while leaving the thrift store in yet another prom gown, tiara, and red high heels, Camille is killed leaving CeeCee in a state of relieved shock.

Since Carl has no idea on how to be a father, in swoops great-aunt Tootie Caldwell and soon CeeCee is swooped out of Willowby, Ohio into Savannah, Georgia with all the shock and awe of the south.

With the help of some very strong woman, CeeCee soon finds her place in the world, people who love her and the one thing that she has always wanted. A best friend.

If you enjoyed Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird or Stockett's The Help, you will truly find another book that gives you a feel of strength and warmth.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Hosted by A Striped Armchair or
The Adventures of An Intrepet Reader

A Glimpse of Evil
(The eighth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series)

Victoria Laurie

Professional psychic Abigail Cooper is about to discover that some cold cases are better off dead...

As the FBI's newest Civilian Profiler, Abby Cooper is using her powers of intuition to help solve a backlog of the bureau's cold cases. But when she's the only one who's convinced that several separate cold cases are related, she'll have to call on every intuitive bone in her body before she's the one put on ice...

The Long Quiche Goodbye
(The first book in the Cheese Shop Mystery series)

Avery Aames

Welcome to the grand opening of Fromagerie Bessette. Or as it's more commonly known by the residents of small-town Providence, Ohio-the Cheese Shop. Proprietor Charlotte Bessette has prepared a delightful sampling of bold Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, delicious tortes of Stilton and Mascarpone, and a taste of Sauvignon Blanc-but someone else has decided to make a little crime of passion the piece de resistance. Right outside the shop Charlotte finds a body, the victim stabbed to death with one of her prized olive-wood handled knives.

Grounds for Murder
(The second book in the Maggy Thorsen series)

Sandra Balzo

Set in Milwaukee at a scaldingly competitive trade show for the coffee industry, events reach a head when coffeehouse-owner Maggy Thorsen discovers a body under a table at the conference centre. As the reluctant conference coordinator and a potential suspect Maggy must track the murderer, save her coffeehouse, and hopefully put some froth in her love life . . .

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases

The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery
Bryan Gruley
ISBN: 9781416563648
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Series: #2 in the Starvation Lake Mysteries

"Gruley does it again in this second Starvation Lake mystery. With his journalist's eye for detail, he transports the reader to small town, hockey-obsessed northern Michigan, where they experience a lifestyle and come to know the inhabitants fully. The characters have even more pull this time around, and the pacing is 'keep-you-up-too-late' perfect!