Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

The Girl She Used To Be
David Cristofano

Chapter 1

NAME ME. GAZE INTO MY EYES, STUDY MY SMILE AND MY DIMPLES AND TELL ME WHO YOU SEE. I look like an Emma. I look like an Amy. I look like a Katherine. I look like a Kathryn. I look like your best friend’s sister, your sister’s best friend. Introduce me yell for me. Let me run away and call me back. Run your fingers through my hair and whisper my name.

Call me whatever you want; it’s just a name, after all.

Full Description:

When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody's name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately, her family. She's been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others--everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself. So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in another town, she's stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Aunt Dimity Down Under

To me the Aunt Dimity series is one of those rare gems that should go on and on forever. I love coming back to Finch each year and meeting up with old friends and just peeking in on what Lori and her family are up to. You really have to read these books in order to see Lori for all her flaws and loyalties. She loves her family and friends and will do anything for them. Even if it means traipsing to the end of the earth to bring a final happiness to two dearly loved friends.

“I'd been called many things in my life, but I'd never been called diplomatic. I lost my tempter too easily, I spoke too hastily, and I seldom let facts complicate a good theory.”

Devastating news has hit Lori Shepherd. The Pym sisters have taken ill and are not expected to live much longer. In their need to finish their last requests, they have asked Lori to find Aubrey Pym their scandalous brother who was run off by their father decades before. Apparently, Aubrey was a bit of a cad and coming from a religious family, this action was not tolerated.

After meeting with the Pym family solicitor, Fortescue Makepeace, Lori heads off to New Zealand to begin this sacrosanct journey. With the help of Cameron Mackenzie, a dashing but unavailable friend of Lori’s husband Bill, the duo travel throughout New Zealand being one-step behind the beneficiary of the Pym family fortune - a fortune that has an interesting history of its own.

Aunt Dimity Down Under reads more like a travelogue then a mystery. There really is no “who-done-it” to figure out, just a wild romp through a country with breathtaking lands and welcoming people.

The ending has a nice lead into the next book, Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree, where Lori’s now retired father-in-law moves to town and is renovating the Fairworth House.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

Reading this alone I do not think that I would pick up the book, but since this is the third book in the Ruth Galloway series, I know that it will get better and I know that without a doubt I can recommend this writer.

The House At Sea's End
Elly Griffiths

Chapter 1

THE TIDE IS OUT. In the early evening light, the sands stretch into the distance, bands of yellow and grey and gold. The water in the rock pools reflects a pale blue sky. Three men and a woman walk slowly over the beach, occasionally stopping and looking intently at the ground, taking samples and photographs. One of the men holds something that looks rather like a staff, which he plants into the sand a regular intervals. They pass a lighthouse marooned on a rock, its jaunty red and white paint peeling, and a beach where a recent rock fall means that they have to wade in the sea, splashing through the shallow water. Now the coastline has transformed into a series of little coves which appear to have been eaten out of the soft, sandstone cliff. Their progress slows when they have to clamber over rocks slippery with seaweed and the remains of old sea walls. One of the men falls into the water and the other men laugh, the sound echoing in the still evening air. The woman trudges on ahead, not looking back.


A little bit more:


Just back from maternity leave, Ruth, a forensic archeologist, is finding it hard to juggle motherhood and work. The bones turn out to be about seventy years old, which leads and Ruth to the war years, a desperate time on this stretch of coastland. Home Guard veteran Archie Whitcliffe reveals the existence of a secret that the old soldiers have vowed to protect with their lives. But then Archie is killed and a German journalist arrives, asking questions about Operation Lucifer, a plan to stop a German invasion, and a possible British war crime. What was Operation Lucifer? And who is prepared to kill to keep its secret?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And The Winner Is....



Thank you to all for participating

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Holiday Grind

I have read all of the Coffee House Mysteries to date and this one let me down a bit. Once the story got going it was good, but the slow beginning and the jumpy feel lacked that initial spark for me.

When traveling Santa Alfred Glockner fails to show at the Village Blend for Clare Cosi’s fa-la-la-la-la latte holiday party, Clare takes it upon herself to go out in the freezing snow to find him. Unfortunately, she finds him dead in a nearby alley from what appears to be a random mugging. A couple of things just do not add up and once again, Clare sets out to do her Nancy Drew thing.

As the story falls into place, it is not just Santa that has a couple of secrets this holiday season and with the help of Madam, who just happens to know the right people, plus Clare’s usual cast of characters - not to mention a new vigilante cop - the story slowly unfolds until you hit the end and think “that was it, this long meandering book and boom it’s over”.

As I said, it was not my favorite of the series, the beginning did not seem as well laid out as the previous books and the writing was a bit roundabout. Parts were thrown in, Mike’s ex-wife, that were not necessary. There did not seem to be as much humor as the other books – so over all I would say that this is only “so-so” as compared to her previous offerings.

Do not be misled by the page count in this book. It says 384 pages but in truth the story itself is only 279 pages. The remaining 105 pages are recipes, tips and information concerning holiday gift giving organizations. Not that that is wrong, it just misleads the reader when you know the story is ending, but there is quite a bit of pages to go.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

The Poisoned House
Michael Ford

Chapter 1

THE STONE STEPS TO THE BASEMENT were ice-cold under my barefeet. In the scullery, the copper gleamed dimly and the floor hadn't been swept. Through the kitchen wall, Cook was snoring. If she'd taken her normal measure of gin before falling into bed then she'd sleep through a hurricane.

A little bit more:

Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. The widowed master of the house is slowly slipping into madness, and the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs.Cotton, punishes Abi without mercy. But there's something else going on in Greave Hall, too. An otherworldly presence is making itself known, and a deadly secret will reveal itself---a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.

Monday, May 16, 2011

9th Judgment

9th Judgment (Women’s Murder Club Series #9)

James Patterson, Maxine Paetro

What makes a writer continue on when the story is over? I was enjoying this tale until James Patterson needed to continue with a couple of chapters at the end that were not necessary. Is there a certain word count or page number that an author has to hit before their book is complete?

Lindsay Boxer and her team respond to a gruesome murder – someone is killing young mothers and their children and leaving a horrific “WCF” message behind in the woman’s lipstick. It takes Boxer and her team most of the book to actually figure out the obvious, but that is typical Patterson.

In a parallel storyline, a cat burglar whom the media has referred to as “Hello Kitty” is robbing homes while the owners are having a party and have just happened to leave their safes unlocked. A narrow escape involving Hello Kitty opens up an opportunity for an aging movie star to take care of a bit of his own business.

As the two stories reach their conclusions and intertwine, Boxer and her team, with the help of a character from a previous book, try to end the WCF killings and bring peace once again to San Francisco. However, that would be too easy and once again, Lindsay is drawn into yet another round with a lying deceitful manipulating character that appears to turn Lindsay’s world on end.

Patterson writes a very simple easy to follow book. Are you going to be mesmerized and tantalized with his writing – no. Are you going to brag to all of your friends that you just read a Patterson – I hope not. Are you going to say – darn these books are addictive and I hope that one day he writes a books that lives up to all of the hype – most definitely.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wellness on a Shoestring: Seven Habits for a Healthy Life

Wellness on a Shoestring: Seven Habits for a Healthy Life

Dr. Michelle Robin, D.C.

Dr. Michelle Robin, D.C., is the director of Your Wellness Connection located in Shawnee Falls, Kansas. Therefore, I approached this book wondering if it was designed as a giant advertisement for her services or if she actually meant what she said - wellness can be affordable.

This book outlines the seven steps that she and her associates take within their practice. Without being too preachy or too spiritual, the reader is shown what your body needs and why in a clear concise way.

It does not take millions to consistently practice the seven behaviors to do well. You have to intentionally set out to put your wellbeing first. In a world where we all take care of others, we have to first take care of ourselves.

Our society is overfed and undernourished.

This is not a book that is to be followed in a systematic order; the chapters are individual pieces that will create a whole wellness lifestyle that supports vibrant health for human beings.

Sounds good - doesn’t it? Let’s delve a little deeper.

With each chapter, there are questions to consider – basic how do you feel. OK, that could open up the direction that you need to go and then finishs with a Personal Story that will reinforce what was laid out in the chapter. Followed up with Practical Tips for Your Journey and a Journaling space. Very much an interactive book.

1. Rest, Reflect and Rejuvenate - this chapter focuses on the fun activities that rejuvenate us. That is a good start. For the most part, we do not add enough of this simple ingredient into our life. Stress and lack of sleep are killing us. Wow, I did not realize how many things are related to the lack of sleep. This chapter also goes into spiritual practices that might or might not work for all. Have Fun, Sleep More, Drink Water, Take Vitamins and Go Outside. OK that sounds simple.

2. Breathing. Emotions are intimately connected to breathing. Practice intentional deep breathing. This is a very interesting chapter that you will have to take your time with. If you concentrate on your breathing, you cannot dwell on everything else in your life.

3. Move Your Body. Oh, exercise is the biggest stumbling block. However, she actually uses the word movement, so it does not sound as intimidating. This is an interesting chapter outlining all the physical as well as emotional benefits of just moving your body. This chapter is a little involved and you will have to take your time. Delves into the benefits of Chiropractic care and since this is Dr. Robin’s forte that makes sense. Take your time with this step. No need to rush.

4. Free Your Space. Declutter – both mentally and physically. OK, I am 100% behind this one. Simplify and get rid of what you do not need. Clean up your surroundings and feel better.

5. Go for the Greens. Adding more green vegetables to your diet. Greens give cells what they need chemically so that they can function optimally. She claims that bowel inflammation is the primary cause of chronic disease. Never heard that before. A couple of recipes are included to help with incorporating more greens.

6. Eat From the Sea – and Enjoy the Sun. Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. There are some warnings in this area so be careful.

7. Drink to Your Health. Water. Shoot, I was hoping for so much more. You should consume half your body weight in ounces. Consuming fluid does not equal hydration. Clear water only, no juice, coffee, tea or soft drinks. Do not drink 30 minutes to 1 hour before a meal because you will dilute acids that you need for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Room temperature water is best.

Overall, I thought that this was a very interesting book. As Dr. Robin said, it is a slow process and if you try to do too much too soon, you might give up before you get the full effect.

As she says, not one single change makes you well; it is a combination and a commitment to wellbeing. This is a long commitment 18 to 36 months. That is a long time in this instant gratification society, your body didn’t get to where it is overnight so you shouldn’t expect it to be healed overnight either.

I do think that I gained knowledge from this book and I do recommend it for adding to your overall wellness.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Save Me

For the first three quarters of this book, I loved it. You are riding Rose McKenna’s emotional rollercoaster but any mother would. How many times have you volunteered at your child’s school?

Rose’s daughter Melly was born with a port-wine birthmark on her cheek and has been teased and bullied out of her last school and now the harassments has begun all over again at the new Reesburgh Elementary. To see for herself how bad it is between her daughter and the class princess Amanda, Rose decides to be the Lunch Mom for the day. To seeing for herself what is going on and once witnessing it, she takes a few moments to discuss the situation with Amanda and her friends. It is at that exact moment that there is a gas explosion in the kitchen. After regaining consciousness, Rose leads the three girls to the cafeteria exit and returns to the restroom to find her own daughter. Unfortunately, that is not how others see it when one of the girls is seriously injured and Rose is accused of abandoning the little terrors in an effort to save her own child.

Did you know that you could be held civilly and criminally responsible for any child in your care when you are volunteering at a school? I had no idea either and I will tell you that this book will make many rethink the whole classroom helper thing.

As I said, about three quarters of the way through Rose’s character completely changes. She is no longer the mild mannered mom; she morphs into a cape-wearing superhero that is not consistent with the character that we have come to know. I understand wanting to get to the bottom of a situation, but she takes it a little too far. Unless you are Erin Brockovich – and that is even pushing it.

The ending was a complete let down. There were many times that this book could have ended but Ms Scottoline just kept adding one more chapter, and one more chapter and one more chapter. Plus, Amanda had some lingering injuries, but she did not have amnesia, the happily ever after ending was not plausible.

I don’t want to say that I am completely dissatisfied since I enjoyed the beginning immensely and I am glad that this is the new direction that Ms Scottoline is taking since she puts so much caring and compassion in her characters, I just wish that the ending didn’t seem to have come out of left field.

Of course, I will continue reading her books, both the fiction and non-fiction, but I will be more aware of the divergent path that her fiction can suddenly take.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Odd Hours

I know that other reviewers loved this book and felt that it was the best of the bunch, but not me. Actually, my favorite was the previous one, Brother Odd. That book was funny with just the right amount of wordplay and action to keep my interest. Then we hit the proverbial wall.

Odd Hours does not seem to have the same dry wit. Odd just seems to be trudging along with an occasional quip, but that is all. I did love the character of Lawrence “Hutch” Hutchinson. His humor was what kept me reading this book. Too bad he only had a limited appearance I was hoping for so much more.

In a quite forgettable middle of the road book, once again, Odd Thomas confronts the strange. How can a simple walk on the pier turn into a life or death fight with homegrown terrorists trying to smuggle nuclear weapons? Koontz weaves the unbelievable with the dubious and out comes a scatterbrained romp.

The whole book felt like a “oh crap, I have a deadline let’s throw it all at the wall and see what sticks” last minute undertaking.

Dean Koontz has said that this is not an open-ended series and will conclude with six or seven novels. Well, he had better step up the game and get Oddie back on track if he wants his readers to stick with this series.

I guess there will never be another Watchers, but if you lower your standards this book might have some redeeming qualities - Birdie is a nice character and Frank Sinatra makes a very dramatic appearance; but overall, not the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday

Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

The 9th Judgement
James Patterson


SARAH WELLS STOOD on the roof of the carport and snaked her gloved hand through the hole she'd cut in the glass. Her pulse was thudding in her ears as she unlocked the double-hung window, opened the sash, and slid quietly into the darkened room. once inside, she flattened herself against the wall and listened.

Chapter 1

PETER GORDON FOLLOWED the young mom out of Macy's and into the street outside the Stonestown Galleria. Mom was about thirty, her brown hair in a messy ponytail, wearing a lot of red: not just shorts but red sneakers and a red purse. Shopping bags hung from the handles of her baby's stroller.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Superior Death

I am so glad that I went back to this series. The first book, Track of the Cat, was very good, but I am beginning to think that I liked this one better. Nevada Barr has a way of drawing in the reader in from the very beginning and holding your full attention straight through to the end. Even if you think you have figured out where she is going, you still hold on to each word in case there is something there that you might not have picked up on in the beginning, but you are darn sure you want to know in the end.

This time Anna Pigeon has been reassigned to Isle Royale in Lake Superior, hence the name, where one of her assigned duties is watching over the Kamloops, a vessel that sunk in 1927 with 5 sailors on board. Well, that is what she has been told, but up comes a diver swearing that there are six men down there. Now Anna is not a big fan of deep diving considering the fact that if you come up too quickly the closest decompression chamber is two very painful hours away. That is if you do not die in the mean time.

Yep, there is an extra body down there and why is he wearing an old-fashioned sailor’s uniform. Darn, the peaceful summer with the entertaining wildlife and the adventuresome scuba diving tourists just got a whole lot more troublesome.

This is not the only story going on. Nope, that would be too easy for Anna. You also have the missing wife of a fellow ranger, you have a head twisting “what did you say” relationship involving Hawk and Holly who are members of a dive team and you have a young incorrigible named Carrie Ann who keeps sneaking off to the utter frustration of her mother.

I know it sounds like a lot to keep track of, but Ms Barr writes each character so clearly that the only confusion that I had was which boat belonged to whom.

Without being repetitive, there are occasional get-caught-up sections where things are re-analyzed, much in the thinking aloud concept where the reader says “oh, that’s right, that makes sense”. The who-done-it part is not apparent from the beginning and the reader is lead down many different paths as Anna herself is trying to figure it all out at the same time.

I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely move the next in the series up on my list. The books are not deep, but they are twisty so you will have to pay attention.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chocolate Covered Crime

I really enjoyed this book. Very reminiscent of another series that I am reading, Krista Davis’s Domestic Diva Mysteries. The writing styles and ensemble casts are very similar.

When I first picked up this book, I had not realized that it was the third in a series. That being said, I do not think I had missed that much. There are references to previous solved crimes, but that did not take away from the story that is being told. This book does mention who a previous villain was, but to be honest, by the time I get to that volume I will not remember.

Summer and Ethan are in the middle of planning their wedding, an April Fool’s Day wedding, but that is not a deterrent, the problem is Mae Belle. Their wedding coordinator is dead with a letter opener sticking out of her back. Since this is not Summer’s first rodeo, as they say, she is determined to find who killed her and to get her wedding back on track.

Mae Belle has had her share of disgruntled clients, but who wanted her dead? Each person that has had their name crossed off Mae Belle’s planner had their reasons and as Summer searches out each on the list, the possible suspects and their reasons become more twisted. That is until there is no one left but…… Well, it could not be, but then again, that does make sense.

Do keep in mind that this is a Christian Cozy Mystery. There is no swearing or indecent moments between characters, in fact, Summer Meadows and her fiancé talk about waiting until they are married before there is any intimacy beyond passionate kissing. There are occasional references to Biblical passages, but they are not so overdone as to make the reader feel as if they have just left a Bible study.

This is a fun quick read and I will just have to go back to the beginning and learn a little bit more about Summer Meads, the owner of Summers Confections.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sorry I Pooped in Your Shoe (and Other Heartwarming Letters from Doggies)

This book was not as entertaining as I had hoped. The premise was there, 50 letters with pictures written by dogs to their pack leaders helping them out and encouraging them to find the well-meaning intentions in their misdeeds.

The pictures are cute, but the writing is forced, as if Jeremy Greenberg, a columnist and comedian, is trying too hard for a joke.

When I first came across this book, I was remembering the Bad Dog series and had high hopes that this would be in that same fashion. Unfortunately, it is not.

I am not sure what audience this would work for, the title is wrong for children and the humor is just not there for adults. With only 65 pages, I would recommend giving it a once over at the bookstore, but there really isn’t any need to put out $10 for this one time silly venture.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thistle Farms

Thistle Farms is a social enterprise run by women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution, and addiction. By hand, the women of Thistle Farms make natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. All proceeds go back into Thistle Farms and the residential program, Magdalene. For two years Magdalene provides housing, supplies, medical and dental treatment, therapy, education and vocational training at no cost. We believe that in the end, love is the most powerful force for change in the world.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Book Giveaway



All that is known of Grace Plantagenet is that she was an illegitimate daughter of King Edward IV, and one of the two attendees aboard the funeral barge of his widowed queen Elizabeth Woodville. Thus, she was the half-sister to the princes in the Tower who, when the story begins in 1485, were presumed dead. But when a young man appears in the courts of Europe, claiming to be the youngest of the boys, Grace is in a position to listen and learn, and so begins her quest to find the truth about herself, her family, and about the man who claims to be king.

Drawing will be held May 18th, 2011


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  • Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

    Hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

    Save Me

    Lisa Scottoline

    Rose McKenna stood against the wall in the noisy cafeteria, having volunteered as lunch mom, which is like a security guard with eyeliner. Two hundred children were talking, thumb-wrestling, or getting ready for recess, because lunch period was almost over. Rose was keeping an eye on her daughter, Melly, who was at the same table as the meanest girl in third grade. If there was any trouble, Rose was going to morph into a mother lion, in clogs.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot

    Oh for goodness sakes, this is supposed to be a book about the reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot not a recap of a previous marriage, an over protective mother and the lenient parental role model that she lived with. Not to mention “the panel” made up of Andrea’s sisters that have to discuss every part of James’s life so they can come to a mutual decision on how to move forward.

    By page 50, the amateurish dummy-downed ramblings are enough to drive the reader crazy. Really, this should not be about the adults; this is supposed to be about a child. A two and a half year old child that is having night terrors -

    “Airplane crash! Plane on Fire! Little man can’t get out!”

    a child that knows what a drop tank is and that can identify a Japanese fighter by the red meatball on its side. This is a child that is not yet potty trained and cannot yet speak in full sentences, but knows things that are unexplainable.

    To make the beginning of this book bearable, you will have to skim and scan the first 50 pages. Finally, when James admits that he is “little man” do the adults sit up and take notice. Maybe this will start to get interesting – took long enough.

    As the Leininger’s plod along in their research and realizations, James once again seems to be left in the dust. Bruce Leininger seems more interested in proving his theories, which are running headlong into his religious beliefs, then in helping James understand what is going on with his dreams and memories.

    I will admit that when the book actually got back to James, the hairs on my arms would tingle. There is something very spooky and intriguing about this story. I just wish that I knew what the true ulterior motive was for the Leininger’s. Did they want to tell their son’s story, fulfill promises to the survivors of Natoma Bay, or to pay off their debts? There was too much talk about paying bills and unemployment for me to not wonder about their true motives.

    Would I suggest the book – only if you skim since there is too much side story for this to be truly about the Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot.