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!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ree Drummond

I didn't know that I could have such a great time READING a cookbook.

The usual cookbook is just page after page of boring black and white text. Not so with the Pioneer Woman Cooks. Ree Drummond combines her love of family, food and ranching in a beautiful homage to the people, places and things that she loves.

Her photography is stunning. The visual step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, and the ingredients are items that you can find in a typical grocer store. Add to that the fact that the serving sizes fit a real family, plus it's all with food that you would want to eat makes this cookbook a true thing of useful beauty.

Ree isn't you typical ranch wife, she still craves sushi and Starbucks, but she was determined to make a home for her Marlboro man and her brood of children, so why not grab the bull by the horns and do the best that a city loving woman can do. Start a blog and learn to cook. Works for me.

Love this book and I look forward to reading more about her adventures on the Pioneer Woman blog.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Cruellest Month

The Cruellest Month
(The second book in the Sheila Malory series)

Hazel Holt

Copyright: 1991

Apparently, everyone has a secret or two, so discovers Sheila Malory while she is at the Bodleian researching data for her upcoming article on little know Victorian authors; and meeting up with old friends.

The rather unpleasant Gwen Richmond was discovered crushed under an avalanche of old books. How could that have happened on its own, things like that don't just happen. But then again, Gwen was a blackmailer, so I guess something's are possible. Delving into Gwen's past, Sheila uncovers quite a few irregularities and with the help of an old journal, the truth soon comes to light.

Unfortunately, not all of the truths that Sheila finds on this trip bring her the peace of mind that she was searching for. Sometimes it's best to keep our past the past and hopefully, the future won't be tarnished with the unscrupulous deeds of others.

I enjoy these older cozy mysteries; they aren't clog up with over the top stupidity that seems to be prevalent in the genre day. Sometimes the writer will wander off the course a bit, but that's OK because there aren't pets with above human intelligence or a man rushing in to save the day. The stories stay true to what a good old-fashioned mystery used to be.

Friday, July 9, 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

Cast Off Coven

Juliet Blackwell

The second book in the Witchcraft Mystery series

Lily Ivory is not your average witch. She runs a vintage clothing store called Aunt Cora's Closet and has the magical ability to sense vibrations of the past from clothing and jewelry. When students are spooked at the San Francisco School for the Arts, Lily is called in to search for paranormal activity. She finds a dead body - and a closet full of old clothes with some very bad vibes.


Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So Far This Year

Total Pages Read 7609
Fiction 11
Non-Fiction 3
Mystery (All Genres) 21
New Authors 22
Audio 9
Young Adult 1

Total Books Read 36

June Books:

Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs
Mrs. Malory - Investigates Hazel Holt
Killer Pancake - Diane Mott Davidson
Ghouls Gone Wild - Victoria Laurie
An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor
A Slice of Murder - Chris Cavender
Sworn to Silence - Linda Castillo
The Bride Will Keep Her Name - Jan Goldstein


Cozy Challenge: 11/10 (Completed)
First in a Series: 10/12
ARC Challenge: 5/12
Support Your Local Library: 18/25
Chunkster Challenge: 2/6
Reading From My Shelves Challenge: 12/50

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (#7 in the Series)

MC Beaton

4 out of 5

I enjoyed this one a bit more than the last. The Agatha Raisin books tend to be a hit or miss with me, but the Wellspring of Death kept my interest.

I do recommend that these books be read in order since the true plot, no matter what murder Agatha encounters, is really about the on again / off again relationship between Agatha and James.

Agatha returns to Cotswold after her broken engagement to James, when she is approached to do the Public Relations work for the Ancombe Water Company who is trying to negotiate with the local council regarding bottling water from the village spring. Not everyone is in agreement with this idea and when Robert Struthers, who has not yet cast his vote on this decision, is found dead, snoopy Agatha just can't let a good murder or two go unsolved.

With her usual cast of cohorts, she sets out to find out what is at the bottom of this. It doesn't hurt that a much younger man is interested in Agatha, its just what she needs to get James to pay attention, or so she thinks, since Agatha does have a tendency to misread the intentions of some men.

The Agatha Raisin Series always seems to entertain me. Sometimes the plot lines drag a bit, but Agatha is always a source of entertainment and giggles. For being an independent worldly type, Agatha sure does have a problem with day in and day out relationships, not to mention her never ending bad choices when it comes to James.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Paper Scissors Death

Paper Scissors Death

Joanna Campbell Slan

3 out of 5

First, the lead character, Kiki Lowenstein, came across to me as being too dumb for words. Her husband had a heart attack, or was is murder, under rather questionable circumstances and his business partner swooped in a little too quickly demanding repayment of missing funds,. What woman who has an 11 year old to support would just up and sell everything she owns to pay back a supposed half a million dollar debt. No proof, no paperwork, no anything. Dumb.

Second, if you are being investigated for murdering said husband, why would the lead investigator come to your home and make dinner or was it breakfast, for you? Any episode of Law and Order would show you that this would never happen, and it doesn't matter how cute your great dane is.

I am really beginning to question this whole cozy mystery genre. Many of the books are just getting ridiculous, the same plots are used over and over with only the location / business / craft / and pet de jour changing.

When I first started reading cozies I loved them. The writers were unique but now it appears that anyone can jump on this bandwagon and publish a book. Sort of like Harlequin does cozies, but without the bodice ripping.

The plot is simple. Kiki Lowenstein, a scrapbooking extraordinaire, is accused of murdering her husband, her mother in law thinks that she is now an unfit parent, her husbands ex-business partner is demanding repayment of missing funds. Her husbands girlfriend is making a nuisance of herself, and wants Kiki to make her a scrapbook. Sells her million dollar home in record time and her fancy cars, keeps daughter in private school at all costs, can't have your friends talking about you. Live in substandard conditions, own a dog that is too cute for words, and when that isn't enough, in walks a police detective who will either charge you with your husbands murder or make you a meal.