Monday, April 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Sweet Revenge and Button Holed

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Sweet Revenge
Author: Andrea Penrose
Publisher: Signet (April 5, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 336
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Lady Arianna Hadley Mystery #1

England, 1813: Lady Arianna Hadley’s desire to discover her disgraced father’s murderer has brought her back to London from exile in the Caribbean. Masquerading as a male chef, she is working in one of London’s aristocratic households in order to get close to her main suspect. But when the Prince Regent is taken ill after consuming Arianna’s special chocolate dessert, she unexpectedly finds herself at the center of a dangerous scandal.

Because of his expertise in chocolate, the eccentric Earl of Saybrook, a former military intelligence officer, is asked by the top brass at Horse Guards to investigate the suspected poisoning. But during his first interrogation of Arianna, someone tries to assassinate both of them, and it quickly becomes clear that something very sinister is afoot within the highest circles of government. They each have very different reasons for wanting to uncover the truth, yet to have any chance of doing so they must become allies.

Trust. Treachery. Arianna must assume yet another identity as their search takes them from the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair to the slums of St. Giles. And their reluctant alliance is tested in more ways that one as it becomes clear that someone is looking to plunge England into chaos . . .

Title: Button Holed
Author: Kylie Logan
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (September 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 288
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Button Box Mystery #1

Working out of her button shop in a Chicago brownstone, Josie Giancola has become one of the country’s leading experts on buttons. Her reputation draws a Hollywood starlet to the Button Box to shop for one-of-a-kind buttons to adorn her made-to-order wedding gown.

But after the Button Box is ransacked and the actress murdered, Josie’s cozy world is thrown into chaos—and a killer is out to keep Josie’s lips buttoned up...permanently.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review - The Boy Who Cried Alien

Title: The Boy Who Cried Alien
Author: Marilyn singer
Illustrator: Brian Biggs
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (March 20, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Grades: 2 - 5

Oh, goodness gracious, Larry the Liar cannot catch a break. Just because he has told everyone that would listen that his dad is a secret agent and that big foot showers in the gym does not mean that there are not aliens in Malarkey Lake

“What could I say that’s stranger than the truth?”

As he runs off to tell the town, no one will believe, that is, until Carlig and Dreab – Olympic swimmers on their way to Hollywood for staring roles in Sci-Fi movies – investigate on their own.

Oh dear me, what will we do, when aliens are prevaricator too?

This is a very funny, engaging book. The characters are amusing, the storyline is unique and at the end, there is a translation key so you and your little reader can figure out what the aliens were trying to say.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review - Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Title: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Author and Illustrator: Mo Willems
Publisher: Hyperion Press (April 1, 2003)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 2 and up

We have all been there with a child “oh, please, can I, please-please, oh, come on let me”. Well, with this book, the tables are turned just a bit when the bus driver tasks the reader with not allowing the pigeon to drive the bus.

It is a very funny premise. No matter how much the pigeon wheels and deals, the reader is not allowed to let the pigeon drive. That is one funny clever pigeon, but as the story comes to an end, the pigeon has a better plan, a much bigger plan, a new love.

A funny, funny, book that will help to teach responsibility in a very practical straightforward way. Loved this book.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review - Death of a Kitchen Diva

Title: Death of a Kitchen Diva
Authors: Lee Hollis
Publisher: Kensington (March 1, 2012)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Hayley Powell Food and Cocktail Mysteries #1

I do not want to be too harsh on a new author, or set of authors in the case of Lee Hollis also known as the brother and sister writing team of Rick Copp and Holly Simason – but this book is coming off more along the lines of a second or third draft than a completed novel.

The number one pet peeve is their need to add “zingers” to the end of a paragraph in the beginning of the book. Somehow trying to add a spark that just lies flat with me. Then there is the awkward sentence structure and overly descriptive characterizations. If these two flaws had been toned down a bit, which they were by the end of the book – or I had just got immune to them, I would have enjoyed this much more.

There were a couple lines that had me going back to reread, since my brain had stopped dead in its tracks wondering if I had misread something.

…Why buy that duct tape that she needed to reattach her rearview mirror after she smashed it into the brick wall of the bank pulling up too close to the ATM machine… (Pgs 89 – 90).

I do not know about the rest of you, but my rearview mirror is inside of my car and I think she would need more than duct tape if that happened. Could she have possibly been talking about her “side view mirrors”?

…The chowder could have been simmering in a Crock-pot on the stove all Saturday. (Pg 252),

Crock-pots do not simmer on a stove and since Holly Simason is a food and cocktails columnist, you would think that this would have been caught.

Hayley Powell is a single mother barely able to keep the leaky roof over her two adolescent children when an opportunity arises to take over the food column at her newspaper. Being the office manager, she has no journalism experience, but when the bills are piling up and an opportunity opens, she does what any mother would do – she grabs the chance and runs with it. Unfortunately, she runs right into Karen Applebaum, a columnist for a competing paper, and when Karen prints a recipe stolen from Hayley, the gloves are off.

In this instance, “gloves are off” is translated into a baked goods food fight in the public library and Hayley hissing “Or else I might just have to kill you.”

Of course, she did not mean it literally, but all mysteries have to start somewhere and when Karen’s body shows up – all fingers and spatulas are pointed at Hayley.

There are good parts of this book, the library scene reads very well, the individual newspaper columns are interesting and Hayley Powell is a very likeable character, I just do not known if these three points are enough to bring me back to this series in the future.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review - Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance

Title: Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance
Authors: MC Beaton
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (December 22, 2005)
Format: Audio
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Agatha Raisin #15

I was beginning to see a chink in the old Agatha armor and I do think that this book continues with this belief. She might still have tiny bearlike eyes, but they just might be softening a bit, thanks to the patience of the much-adored Mrs. Bloxby.

While on vacation in Paris, Agatha is mugged and when Paris authorities have no interest in pursuing her assault she concludes that she could do a better job herself and returns home to open her own detective agency.

James Lacey is still away and his cottage has a new owner, Mrs. Emma Comfrey has appeared in Carsely, and just as Agatha is getting her new detective agency off the ground, she realizes that a professional appearance would include a receptionist. Having tired of the usual sort that work as receptionists Agatha takes a chance on Emma, plus she can run down the errant cat or two and the agency will look more full service.

What Agatha did not take into consideration was that Emma might have plans of her own and when she sees Agatha as an obstacle for Charles’s affections, the gloves are off. Add this to the case that they are currently working on that includes the dead body of an IRA assassin on her kitchen floor and once again Agatha is in the middle of a murder investigation that has hit too close to home. She now needs to figure out if this is all tied to her first major case of the attempted murder of an heiress or if there is something more foul afoot.

I adore Agatha, there is something endearing in the way that no matter how hard she tries or how honest her intentions are, something always go wrong and she is once again left with the utter fear of failure. If she could only understand that her friends do love and care for her – and if she would just stop trying so hard, things might just work out for her.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 11th Hour

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: 11th Hour
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 7, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Thriller
Series: Women's Murder Club #11

Book Description:

Your best friend

Lindsay Boxer is pregnant at last! But her work doesn't slow for a second. When millionaire Chaz Smith is mercilessly gunned down, she discovers that the murder weapon is linked to the deaths of four of San Francisco's most untouchable criminals. And it was taken from her own department's evidence locker. Anyone could be the killer—even her closest friends.

Or a vicious killer?

Lindsay is called next to the most bizarre crime scene she's ever seen: two bodiless heads elaborately displayed in the garden of a world-famous actor. Another head is unearthed in the garden, and Lindsay realizes that the ground could hide hundreds of victims.

You won't know until the 11th hour

A reporter launches a series of vicious articles about the cases and Lindsay's personal life is laid bare. But this time she has no one to turn to—especially not Joe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - All Together Dead

Title: All Together Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace (March 25, 2008) Pgs 352
Format: Audio
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Library
Series: Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book 7

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The Shreveport vampire bar would be opening late tonight. I was running behind, and I’d automatically gone to the front door, the public door, only to be halted by a neatly lettered sign, read Gothic script on the white cardboard: We’ll Be Ready To Greet You With A Bit Tonight, At Eight O’clock. Please Excuse Our Delayed Opening. It was signed “The Staff of Fangtasia.”

It was the third week in September, so the red neon Fangtasia sign was already on. The sky was almost pitch-black. I stood with one foot inside my car for a minute, enjoying the mild evening and the faint, dry small of vampire that lingered around the club. Then I drove around to the back and parked beside several other cars lined up at the employee entrance. I was only five minutes late, but it looked like everyone else had beaten me to the meeting. I rapped on the door. I waited.


Betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse must now not only deal with a possible new man in her life—the oh-so-handsome shapeshifter Quinn—but also contend with a long-planned vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, the local vampire queen is vulnerable to those hungry for a takeover. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she'll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Tempest in the Tea Leaves

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Tempest in the Tea Leaves
Author: Kari Lee Townsend
Publisher: Berkley (August 2, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Fortune Teller Mystery #1

Sunny is a big city psychic who moves to the quaint town of Divinity, NY to open her fortune telling business in an ancient victorian house, inheriting the strange cat residing within. Sunny gives her first reading to the frazzled town librarian and discovers the woman is going to die. When the woman flees in terror, Sunny calls the police, only she's too late. The ruggedly handsome, hard-nosed detective is a "non-believer." He finds the librarian dead, and Sunny becomes his number one suspect, forcing her to prove her innocence before the real killer can put an end to the psychic's future.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review - Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

Title: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May 4, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 1 and up

A wonderful way to settle down your truck-loving dreamer.

Just like little boys, trucks and cement mixers and bulldozers work hard all day and when the sun begins to set, it is time to settle in for a nice relaxing night. As you turn the pages, you see the hard work that all the trucks at a construction site do and as the day comes to an end, they curl up and sleep until the sun rises again.

Told with a slow and even pace, you little guy can see that everyone has to turn off their engines and settle in for a good night with big dreams.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review - Left For Dead

Title: Left for Dead
Authors: JA Jance
Publisher: Touchstone (February 7, 2012)
Format: Audio
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Source: Library
Series: Ali Reynolds #7

When I first picked up this book, I was quite concerned since the previous book Fatal Error, was for me not up to the usual JA Jance standard.

I ended up enjoying Left for Dead from the very first paragraph. The Ali Reynolds’s feel was back, the story flowed and the subject matter was more believable.

Teenage Rose Ventana left her family’s home and became Breeze Domingo. Living a life of prostitution, she is traded to a horrible man when her pimp ran up a debt he could not pay. When Breeze outlived her usefulness, she is dumped in the desert to die. Barely alive, Rose is found by Alonzo Gutierrez, a border patrol agent, his superior’s fluff her off as just another illegal, but Alonzo knows differently and does a little investigating on his own.

Jose Reyes, a friend of Ali’s from the academy years is shot and left for dead, but there is something troubling when drugs and money are found in his trunk and somehow it is all tied back to a post office worker and his new lady friend.

Bring in Sister Anselm, a dear friend of Ali’s and in JA Jance’s usual fashion, the narratives are melded into one storyline and the reader has an ah-ha moment where everything comes together. Not always in a happily ever after ending, more along the lines of a “this is the best that we could hope for” moment.

Ali’s parents have also surprised the family with a big announcement that will surely bring more interest and challenge to her already full life. You never know what that Edie Larson will think up next and I look forward to seeing what direction this series will take.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review - Roast Mortem

Title: Roast Mortem
Authors: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (August 3, 2010)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Coffeehouse Mysteries #9

Every time I read a Coffeehouse Mystery, I ask myself if I am reading a cozy mystery or a textbook on Coffee 101. With the many ways that an espresso can be prepared to the beans and the roasting, to coffee history and coffee grinding, I am beginning to wonder what the true point to these books are.

Clare is the manager of the Village Blend, she and her ex-husband Mateo have been left the day in and day out running of the business by Madam, her ex-mother-in-law and dear friend. One afternoon they head across town to visit Enzo, another coffeehouse owner who has a piece of the Village Blend history in his basement. While Madame and Enzo are in the basement and Clare is upstairs the whoosh of an explosion sends the front window glass flying into the street and flames closing off the only accesses to Madame and her dear friend.

One explosion is tragic, but as the city is terrorized by two additional bombings, Clare shoots into action and one by one eliminates the suspected bombers. As Mike Quinn, Clare’s boyfriend, works on his own cases, it is up to Clare and Mike’s cousin Michael, the firefighter, to work out what is going on in the village. As bodies pile up and destruction rains down, Clare and Matt are scrambling to find the bomber before their beloved Village Blend is next on the bombers list.

At times, I am convinced that Cleo Coyle is in cahoots with coffeehouses since I cannot get through these books without having to run out and pick up a latte or three. Once you get past the college course on the exacting science of coffee, all you want to do is sit and savor a Cinnamon Dolce Latte and read what this bunch of barista’s are up to.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Spilled Blood

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Spilled Blood
Author: Brian Freeman
Publisher: SilverOak (May 1, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Thriller

Book Description:

Two teenage girls play a deadly game of Russian Roulette...

It's every parent's worst nightmare. Christopher Hawk's daughter has been accused of murder . . . and she looks guilty as sin.

Chris rushes to the rural badlands of southern Minnesota, where his ex-wife and his only child, Olivia, now live, determined to defend his daughter.

He discovers two towns at war: Barron, where a chemical company has brought jobs and money, and St. Croix, Olivia's downriver home, where the same chemicals are believed to have brought death: a cancer cluster with mysterious origins.

Olivia is at the center of the feud, and so is the girl she's suspected of killing. If Chris is to find out what really happened, he needs to learn everything about his daughter... but he's beginning to realize he hardly knows her at all.

Chris wants to believe Olivia is innocent, but belief is only the first step. Now he has to prove it.

And all the while, her enemies are waiting, baying for her blood...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance

Title: Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance
Author: MC Beaton
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (December 22, 2005) Pgs 256
Format: Audio
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Agatha Raisin #15

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The thing that finally nudged Agatha Raisin into opening her own detective agency was what she always thought of as the Paris Incident.

Made restless by the summer torpor blanketing the village of Carsley in the Cotswolds, Agatha decided to take a weeks holiday in Paris.


Infuriated that her holiday was ruined by a mugging, Agatha Raisin decides to open up her own detective agency. The romance-minded sleuth is thrilled by visions of handsome fellow gumshoes and headline-making crimes--but soon finds the only cases she can get are a non-glamorous lot of lost cats and an errant teenager. But when a wealthy divorcée hires the agency to investigate a death threat against her daughter Cassandra, Agatha thwarts a vicious attack on the heiress bride. Now Agatha is in hot pursuit of the culprit. But when the groom's father turns up dead, Agatha must untangle a growing list of suspects, from Carsely's quiet village lanes to Paris' most fashionable streets. Soon the willfully undaunted Agatha is in trouble with French and British police; on the outs (again) with old friends--and dead in the sights of a murderer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday - The Second Messiah

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Second Messiah
Author: Glenn Meade
Publisher: Howard Books (August 2, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 496
Genre: Fiction

In the desert near Jerusalem, an archaeologist is murdered after he uncovers stunning evidence in a Dead Sea scroll about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The two-thousand-year-old parchment containing enigmatic references to not one but two messiahs is stolen before it can be fully translated.

In Rome, a charismatic American priest with long-hidden secrets is elected pope, setting off widespread panic among some of the faithful who question whether he is the anti-Christ or the world’s new savior. As the conspiracy over the scroll explodes into a political and religious standoff, two people find themselves on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of unknown assassins in their search for truth.

Archaeologist Jack Cane and Israeli police inspector Lela Raul must solve the mystery of the Second Messiah and uncover the real secret behind the message of Jesus before they are permanently silenced and the scroll and its contents are forever lost to humanity.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review - A Ball for Daisy and Press Here

Title: A Ball for Daisy
Author and Illustrator: Chris Raschka
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (May 10, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 3 and up

I have never come across a wordless children’s board book before. What a fantastic idea. A picture book that allows a child to write their own story and input their own feelings and experiences.

2012 Caldecott Medalist Chris Rachka has painted the pictures of a dog and a ball. That sounds simples, but what words cannot tell pictures do and you see Daisy with the joy of her life a simple ball and what happens when that joy is taken.

That is not where the story ends. There are good humans in Daisy’s life and with the good comes a new joy.

I loved this book and what it offers, the depth and conversation from this seemingly simple story will expand as you young one experiences the world around them and can add to Daisy’s story and you will both see the world through Daisy in different ways.

Keep this book on your shelf and bring it out from time to time to see how Daisy’s world changes through your child’s eyes.

Title: Press Here
Author and Illustrator: Herve Tullet
Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 30, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 2 and up

An excellent interactive book that keeps both the reader and the child fully engaged.

As the reader reads the directions, the child is asked to push on this dot, rub that dot, or tilt the book this way or that. As the child turns the page, a new task is requested and with a blow here or a clap there, the dots move around the page with the size or location changing.

Watch as your child giggles with each page and color swirl.

A very entertaining interactive book that you will enjoy going back to time and again.

Who needs an electronic devise when you can have just as much fun interacting with pages of a book?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Review - The Kingdom

Title: The Kingdom
Authors: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira (March 27, 2012)
Format: eBook
Genre: Supernatural
Source: Purchase; Amazon Digital Services
Series: Graveyard Queen #2

I think that it is quite possible that I enjoyed this book, The Kingdom, more than the first in the series The Restorer. There was something about The Kingdom, how it twisted back on itself and answered those hanging questions from book one that had confounded me.

Amelia Grey has been called to Asher Falls to complete a graveyard restoration. Thornhill Cemetery is actually the second cemetery in Asher Falls, after the first Thornhill had been flooded out leaving the markers, statuary and coffins at the bottom of what is now a lake.

The moment Amelia steps off the ferry, she knows something is different; she can feel it deep down in her soul. Asher Falls is talking to her and she does not know why the town’s ghosts are reaching out to her.

Amelia has been able to see spirits since she was a young child, but living by her father’s rules, she has learned not to interact with them. Not to let them in. This time, this town, things are different - the veil between their world and hers is thinner. They are reaching out to her in a way that she has not been prepared for.

What is it about Asher Falls that is so different? Maybe if she can go back home, to Rosehill, the place she calls home she can talk to her father and have him, once and for all, explain to her the circumstances of her adoption. What really happened to her as an infant? Most importantly, what does he know about Asher Falls and Thornhill Cemetery?

Caught in the grasp of a place and its people, Amelia finds herself fighting for the truth and at the same time fighting for her life. There is something about this place and the strange women that inhabit this town.

In Asher Falls, Evil is a real entity. It is capitalized, as if it is a person - a looming being. A person that walks down the street like any other inhabitant of a small town. This is not a place where she can stay, she has to get home and back to Devlin, the police detective from the first book, even with his own very physical ghosts, she needs to be with him, no matter what the cost.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review - Ghost a la Mode

Title: Ghost a la Mode
Authors: Sue Ann Jaffarian
Publisher: Midnight Ink (September 8, 2009)
Format: eBook
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Purchase; Amazon Digital Services
Series: Granny Apples #1

With some books, you have to suspend reality a bit more than others. Ghost a la Mode is one of them. You, the reader, are asked to believe that 40ish Emma Whitecastle can suddenly see the ghost of her great-great-great grandmother when, at no time previously, has she had the ability. One trip to a psychic / séance and the woo-woo floodgates have been opened.

OK, it might be possible to work with that.

For more than a hundred years, Granny Apples has been waiting around for just the right relative to see her and to fight to defend her name in a murder that she did not commit. Granny was accused of killing her husband and before she was able to clear her name, she too was murdered. Now Granny, through Emma, must find a way to clear her name and get her homestead back to the rightful owners.

Parts are twisty and you have to keep a couple characters straight, but other than that, the book falls somewhere in the so-so range of cozy mysteries. Ghost a la Mode follows the usual formula of small town murder, pet, man rides to the rescue, and they all live happily ever after.
I did not find any of the characters compelling enough to run out right away and pick up the next book. If I happen to stumble on the next, I might read it. More humor or more suspense needs to be added to give it the extra spark that would make me want to be a loyal follower of this series.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Fifteen Digits

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Fifteen Digits
Author: Nick Santora
Publisher: Mulholland Books (April 24, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Thriller

Book Description:

Is it really insider trading if you've been an outsider your entire life?

Five men. Five walks of life. Every day they come together at the white shoe law firm Olmstead & Taft. But they're not lawyers. They're "Printers": blue-collar guys consigned to the dark basement of the firm charged with copying, collating and delivering the mountains of paperwork that document millions of dollars of sensitive legal secrets.

Until the five are approached by an ambitious young attorney who teaches them what they have: insider information. Together they make a plan: take the classified documents that pass through their hands every day and use them to get rich. They create a joint account to deposit the spoils. An account with a safeguard-each one only knows one section of the access code.

Which means that for all five conspirators, there's no way out. But as too much money piles up to go unnoticed, the Printers will discover there's one thing even worse than being an outsider: being in too deep.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Running on Empty

Title: Running on Empty
Author: Sandra Balzo
Publisher: Severn House Publishers (April 1, 2011) Pgs 208
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Mainstreet Mysteries #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

Life on Main Street has always been inexplicably hazardous, no matter the season. The skier who choked on her gum halfway down Deer Slope, arriving at the bottom still standing, if not breathing. The fishermen squashed like road-killed possums by a Toyota Land Cruiser Against The front of Lucky’s bait shop. The skinny-dipping White Tail Lodge hostess, dead from hypothermia. And that didn’t count the odd tourist or two each year wandering into the mountains, never to wander back out to our High Country version of civilization called Sutherton, North Carolina.


While life on Sutherton's Main Street had often been inexplicably hazardous, the day Daisy Griggs siphoned nearly three pints from Mrs. Brandenham during the annual blood drive seemed to set a new standard, even by the unusual measure of this North Carolina resort town.

Answering the summons, AnnaLise returns home to find Labor Day preparations in full swing. But this traditional celebration promises to be no picnic. People are dying and, unless AnnaLise can figure out why, her mother Daisy may be next.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday - A Taste of the Nightlife and Scrapbook of Secrets

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: A Taste of the Nightlife: A Vampire Chef Mystery
Author: Sarah Zettel
Publisher: Signet (July 5, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Vampire Chef #1

Charlotte Caine isn't called "the Vampire Chef" because she's a member of New York's undead community-she just cooks for them. Her restaurant, Nightlife, is poised to take the top slot in the world of "haute noir" cuisine.

But when a drunk customer causes a scene, a glowing review from the city's top food critic doesn't seem likely-especially when that customer winds up dead on Nightlife's doorstep. Now, with her brother under suspicion for the murder, Charlotte has to re-open her restaurant and clear her brother's name-before they both become dinner.

Title: Scrapbook of Secrets
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Publisher: Kensington Publishing (February 1, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 271
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Cumberland Creek #1

Having traded in her career as a successful investigative journalist for the life of a stay-at-home mum in picturesque Cumberland Creek, Virginia, Annie can't help but feel that something's missing. But she finds solace in a local "crop circle" of scrapbookers united by chore-shy husbands, demanding children, and occasional fantasies of their former single lives. And when the quiet idyll of their small town is shattered by a young mother's suicide, they band together to find out what went wrong...Annie resurrects her reporting skills and discovers that Maggie Rae was a closet scrapbooker who left behind more than a few secrets - and perhaps a few enemies. As they sift through Maggie Rae's mysteriously discarded scrapbooks, Annie and her "crop" sisters begin to suspect that her suicide may have been murder. It seems that something sinister is lurking beneath the town's beguilingly calm facade - like a killer with unfinished business...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review - Pinkalicious

Title: Pinkalicious
Author: Elizabeth Kann
Illustrator Victoria Kann
Publisher: HarperCollins (May 23, 2006)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 5 and up

What a cute, funny, adorable story.

When it is raining outside what else is a girl to do but make pink cupcakes with her mother. Too much sugar does not make for a very nice girl and too much pink tends to turn into a very rare and acute case of Pinkititis.

Her doctor informs her that she can no longer have pink cupcakes, pink bubble gum or pink cotton candy. The only cure is green food. Yuck.

Come on, one more cupcake cannot hurt. Apparently, there is something worse than being pink. This just will not do so off to the kitchen she goes. In the refrigerator, she eats all the green food that she can find.

Ahhh, peace at last, that is until her little brother finds the remaining cupcakes.

A great start to the Pinkalicious series.

We Give Books - Max and the Chocolate Chicken

We Give Books was started by Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation to "support literacy through programs that engage entire communities through literacy and awareness programs". The We Give Books program is an initiative that allows anyone with Internet access to give books to children in need. When you sign up you can choose from one of five charities. Then you can select from one of 151 digital picture books (both fiction and non fiction) to read online.

This is all completely free for the reader! Simply choose the charity you want to read for and then select the books you want to read. For each book you read online, a book is donated to a leading literacy group on your behalf. So please sign up and support literacy.

Title: Max and the Chocolate Chicken
Author and Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
Publisher: Puffin (February 1, 2000)
Format: eBook
Genre: Childrens
Source: We Give Books
Ages: 3 and up

Well of course, you would not expect a bunny to have a chocolate rabbit - would you?

It is egg-hunting morning and Max and Ruby are out early wanting to win the grand prize of the chocolate chicken. Ruby explains that the person who finds the most eggs gets the chicken. Easy-peazy, or so it seems.

Why looks for eggs when there is so much more to see like mud puddles and acorns. As Ruby gathers eggs, Max finds spoons and ants.

Max still wants that chicken but has a plan that does not involve looking for eggs.

Not a very good plan and I am sure that parents will have a hard time explaining to their young children how you can have a happily ever after ending when stealing is involved.

The illustrations are colorful and engaging, just not sure that the overall theme is something that most parents would want to read to their children.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review - How I Became a Pirate

Title: How I Became a Pirate
Author: Melinda Long
Illustrator David Shannon
Publisher: Hardcourt (September 1, 2003)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 4 and up

What little boy would not love a pirate adventure – and little Jeremy Jacob sees an adventure of a lifetime when a pirate ship shows up on North Beach just as he is building a sandcastle.

With his parents distracted, Jeremy takes off with Braid Beard and his posse of pirates. He learns sea chanteys and uses words like landlubber and scurvy dog. Even though a life at sea sounds fun, big storms are scary and when you do not have your mommy to tuck you in at night, the fun ebbs very quickly.

With a treasure to bury, Jeremy comes up with an idea – he knows the perfect place to hide the treasure and with luck, he will be able to make his soccer game the next day.

Little boys will love the adventure and illustrations in this book. Melinda Long and David Shannon have put together an exciting tale that will fill the imaginations of their young readers.

Note: Take notice that the little boy does wander off with strangers - so you may want to either discuss this ahead of time with your child or completely skip this book until your child is old enough to understand that this is only a make believe story and that real children should never do this.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Review - Pandemonium

Title: Pandemonium
Authors: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 28, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchase
Series: Delirium #2

When I first began this book, I was concerned. The first one-third of the book did not draw me in. Whereas Delirium ended with my heart somewhere in my throat, Pandemonium just laid there, almost as if Lauren Oliver did not know what direction to go in or what story she wanted to tell.

By the middle of the book, the story settles down a bit and you are right there with Lena and Julian as they fight for their futures. But the last 100 or so pages, you heart is right back there in your throat as you turn the pages and wonder along with Lena what the future could possibly hold. Then bam, you are at an ending that I did not see coming, but fully wondered if it was possible.

In book two, Lauren Oliver sends you in a slightly different direction; Lena is now emotionally alone in the Wilds and with the help of a ragtag group, moves along to her new future still mourning her past life with Alex. Told in a then and now style, the reader sees where Lena is in her present day and shows slowly and methodically how she got there. How Julian, the son of the DFA leader, can be both her nemesis and her salvation. How Lena must open her eyes and realize that not all people are as they appear, that she is being told only little bits and pieces of the whole story and that quite possibly what she thought was the truth might just be part of an even bigger lie.

An author can make or break a trilogy with the second book. They may know where they want to end, but getting from part A to Part C is a challenge. By the climax of this book, I think that Ms. Oliver served her characters well. The resistance is growing, characters are coming in and out of Lena’s life that influence her in innumerable ways, but most importantly, Lena is discovering that if she tries, there might be a life for her after Alex -- that was, until she heard the voice from behind the door.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review - A Turn in the Road

Title: A Turn in the Road
Authors: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira (April 26, 2011)
Format: Hardcover and Audio
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Blossom Street #8

That had to be the longest road trip of my life. I know that some people can tolerate a great deal when a particular book in a series hits the wrong nerve, but having to put up with Annie, the 23ish year old daughter of main character Bethanne, was almost enough for me to wall bang this book and walk away from this series. If her constant whining and immaturity had been toned down a bit, I would have accepted what she had to say, but she was just too much.

In addition to Annie, other little things kept bothering me while reading this book. Why would a woman, Bethanne, whose husband left her for another woman six years prior, even consider getting back with him? What woman in her right mind, who has gone on to create a good stable career from scratch, ever considers this emotional U-turn? In addition, a little research needed to have been done on road trips - driving from Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM takes five hours and not “a little over two”. This is where the bogging down in my reading occurred. Every time a travel distance or location come up I would have to stop and picture a map and wonder why they did what they did. Possibly, I was concentrating on the wrong parts of the story, but to be honest, I needed a break from Annie.

Ok, enough venting.

Bethanne Hamlin has agreed to take her ex-mother-in-law Ruth to her 50th high school reunion. Ruth was prepared to take the trip alone, but Bethanne was not too sure that a 70-something woman should drive from Seattle to Florida on her own. Annie, the annoying daughter, invites herself along so the three women jump into the car for a life changing drive across the United States. Being a “romance”, each woman has to come to terms with the men in their lives, Bethanne’s ex-husband Grant wants a second chance, Annie’s boyfriend realizes he has made a mistake and wants Annie to be home waiting for his return and Ruth, my favorite character in the book, agonizes over meeting up with a boy from high school.

I have enjoyed some books from this series, a few have hit the right chord with engaging characters, but other should just be skipped. Overall, I do not think that this particular story moved the Blossom Street series forward. Very little was mentioned of the original group or even Blossom Street in general.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch
Author: Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Viking Adult (April 26, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Myster
Series: Aunt Dimity #17

Book Description:

When Amelia Thistle moves to Finch, her new neighbors welcome her with open arms--and inquiring minds. Lori Shepherd quickly discovers that Amelia isn't the ordinary woman she appears to be. Instead, Amelia is a world-famous artist with a rabid pack of fans intent on stalking her.

To keep the peace in Finch, Lori helps Amelia to conceal her true identity and sets to work solving the riddle that brought Amelia to the village in the first place. A fragment of a family diary hints that Amelia might be a direct descendant of Mistress Meg, the Mad Witch of Finch. The diary's clues take Lori on a whirlwind treasure hunt through Finch's darkest and most secret nooks and crannies, all the while dodging nosy neighbors and Amelia's obsessed fans. With Aunt Dimity's otherworldly guidance, Lori pieces together the remarkable true story of Mistress Meg and uncovers a tragic chapter in Finch's past.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

First Chapter, First Paragraph - The Kingdom

Title: The Kingdom
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira(March 27, 2012) Pgs 380
Format: eBook
Genre: Suspense
Source: Amazon Digital
Series: Graveyard Queen #2

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The breeze off the water carried a slight chill even though the sun had barely begun its western slide. It was still hours until twilight. Hours until the veil between our world and the next would thin, but already I could feel the ripple of goose bumps at the back of my neck, a sensation that almost always signaled an unnatural presence.

I resisted the temptation to glance over my shoulder. Years of living with ghosts had instilled in me an aberrant discipline. I knew better than to react to those greedy, grasping entities so I leaned against the deck rail and stared intently into the greenish depths of the lake. But from my periphery, I tracked the other passengers on the ferry.


My name is Amelia Gray. They call me the Graveyard Queen. I've been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I'm coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I've discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town--this withering kingdom--and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Killing Floor and The House on Tradd Street

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Killing Floor
Author: Lee Child
Publisher: Bantam (1997)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 525
Genre: Fiction
Series: Jack Reacher #1

When Jack Reacher suddenly decides to ask a Greyhound bus driver to let him off near the town of Margrave, Georgia, he thinks it's because his brother once mentioned that the famed blues guitarist Blind Blake died there. But it doesn't take long for the footloose ex-military policeman to discover that there are plenty of strange--and very dangerous--things going on behind Margrave's manicured lawns and clean streets that demand his attention. This first thriller by a former television writer features some of the best-written scenes of action in recent memory, a crash course in currency and counterfeiting, and a hero who is just begging to be called on for an encore.

Title: The House on Tradd Street
Author: Karen White
Publisher: NAL Trade (November 4, 2008)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 352
Genre: Fiction
Series: The House on Tradd Street #1

Buttoned-up real estate agent Melanie Middleton, lover of order and all things modern, inherits an old house in Charleston, S.C., from a virtual stranger. Melanie can't help seeing the house as a big white elephant, especially regarding the terms; according to the will, Melanie's required to live in the house for a year, restoring it to its former glory, before she can sell so much as a piece of china. But as the house draws the attention (and ulterior motives) of a colorful group of locals, particularly GQ-handsome journalist Jack Trenholm, Melanie finds she has plenty of volunteers to help out. White skillfully balances her tale at the meeting point of romance, mystery and ghost story. The supernatural elements are not played for scares, but instead refine and reveal Melanie's true character; Melanie and Jack flirt with sparkling, snarky energy, but White also digs deeper, giving Melanie a tragic past that's handled with compassion and realism.