Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review - LuLu's Magic Wand

Title: Lulu's Magic Wand
Author and Illustrator: Chuck Richards
Publisher: Walker Childrens (April 24, 2012)
Format: Boardbook; Pgs 40
Genre: Chidren's
Source: Library
Ages: 4 and Up

I have read this book a couple of times and have enjoyed every single moment of it. The illustrations are beautiful and the storyline could best be described as Night at the Museum meets JK Rowling on a Skittles overload.

The Winklewigs have planned all winter long for a family vacation to Adventure Planet, the first booth they come to offers stuffed animals, but when Daddy just does not have the right stuff to win Priscilla, the Fairy Piglet for Lulu, she has to settle for a wand just like Priscilla holds.

Well of course, this being a child’s book, you know that this is no ordinary wand. Lulu gives it a whirl and when she waves it around, all havoc breaks loose. Balloon animals take flight and roller coasters leave the track and what would an adventure be without the Martian star fleet coming to the rescue.

There are so many things to see in each illustration that you do not rush to change the page, but wait in anticipation to see what is next.

This is a perfect book to send little ones off to a night of smiles and happy dreams.

About the Author

Chuck Richards is an Associate Professor of Art & Design at Iowa State University where he teaches the first year drawing curriculum for the College of Design. He was recently commissioned by the University of Iowa to create four large murals based on illustrations from his first book Jungle Gym Jitters that will be on permanent display in the Pediatrics Wing of the University Hospitals and Clinics.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review - A Deadly Grind

Title: A Deadly Grind
Authors: Victoria Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley (May 1, 2012)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery #1

I know that cozy mysteries are designed to revolve around the people and the community with the dead body being a secondary image. In my person opinion, I think that Victoria Hamilton has gone too far with the description of the town and their festivities, has too many characters to keep straight and a heroine, if you can call her that, which is neither memorable nor unique.

My first turn off on the book is the cover, the dog’s head is completely out of proportion to the body and when you read the story, you find out that the dog has a missing front leg due to an accident when still a puppy. Yet, the cover shows both front paws. Was this an error by a newbie writer? I do not think so since Victoria Hamilton is a pseudonym for Donna Lea Simpson, a romance writer that is now branching into the cozy market.

Ok, maybe I am being overly fussy, so let us move onto the plot.

Jaymie Leighton loves vintage kitchenware and when an original Hoosier comes up for auction, she is there. Midway through the bidding, a fist-a-cuffs breaks out between to competing bidders and Jaymie walks away with her dream purchase.

As the cabinet sets out on her summer porch overnight, a crash-bang-kapowee is heard and Jaymie stumbles onto the dead body of an intruder. Come to find out, the Hoosier is holding a very important secret and now Jaymie must protect life and home to return this treasure to its rightful owner.

There are so many characters in this book that from time to time it is difficult to keep them straight. Jaymie is a dimwit that does not put “clues” together that leaves the reader scratching their head. Two characters even have the same last name, though not related and Ms Hamilton waited until the book was two-thirds of the way through the book to unravel that coincidence.

This book was not for me due to the overly descriptive surroundings and the long drawn out conclusion to a very simple mystery.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review - Death Tidies Up

Title: Death Tidies Up
Authors: Barbara Colley
Publisher: Kensington (January 1, 2004)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Charlotte LaRue #2

Such a disappointment. The first third of the book I spent counting how many times Ms Colley used the same word in a paragraph and spent little time following the very thin plotline. By the middle of the book, I mind blanked because I remember neither multiple word usage nor a plotline. By the end, whole paragraphs could have been removed and the overall storyline, what there was of it, could have held. As I said, the book was a letdown.

Begrudging her upcoming sixtieth birthday, Charlotte LaRue, owner of Maid For A Day, grabs her cleaning supplies and heads out to her next major project, an older home in the Garden District of New Orleans that has been changed into individual apartments. When she hears the screams of one of her employees, she runs to aid only to discover a body in the closet dressed in boxers and a mardi gras mask.

Not that that scene was strange enough, but under the mask was a man that was declared dead two years prior. How can that be? Charlotte's company rules of not messing in her client's business and her need to meddle conflict as she helps her niece, the police detective, and Louis her next-door neighbor solve this mystery.

I recall the first book, Maid for Murder being much better so I am not sure what went wrong. The storyline was too slow and meandering with no real direction until the last 15 percent of the book where presto-chango, the murderer was discovered and they all lived happily ever after.

I hope that the remaining books in this series are better, but I was so turned off by the book that I do not think I will be rushing to the next installment.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The After Wife

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The After Wife
Author: Gigi Levangie Grazer
Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 10, 2012)
Format: Hardcover: Pgs 320
Genre: Fiction


L.A. is no place for widows. This is what forty-four-year-old Hannah Bernal quickly discovers after the tragic death of her handsome and loving husband, John. Misery and red-rimmed eyes are little tolerated in the land of the beautiful. But life stumbles on: Hannah’s sweet three-year-old daughter, Ellie, needs to be dropped off at her overpriced preschool, while Hannah herself must get back to work in order to pay the bills on “Casa Sugar,” the charming Spanish-styled bungalow they call home.

Fortunately, Hannah has her “Grief Team” for emotional support: earth mother and fanatical animal lover Chloe, who finds a potential blog post in every moment; aspiring actress Aimee, who has her cosmetic surgeon on speed dial; and Jay, Hannah’s TV producing partner, who has a penchant for Mr. Wrong. But after a series of mishaps and bizarre occurrences, one of which finds Hannah in a posh Santa Monica jail cell, her friends start to fear for her sanity. To make matters worse, John left their financial affairs in a disastrous state. And when Hannah is dramatically fired from her latest producing gig, she finds herself in danger of losing her house, her daughter, and her mind.

One night, standing in her backyard under a majestic avocado tree, in the throes of grief, Hannah breaks down and asks, “Why?” The answer that comes back—Why not?—begins an astounding journey of discovery and transformation that leads Hannah to her own truly extraordinary life after death.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - One Shot at Forever

Title: One Shot at Forever - A Small Town, An Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season
Author: Chris Ballard
Publisher: Hyperion (May 15, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; pgs 272
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Library

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea


Bob Fallstrom had to read the sheet twice, and still he didn't believe it. Was this some sort of joke? The work of a smartass kid? By 1971 Fallstrom had been at the Decatur Herald & Review for twenty-two years and had spent the bulk of that time covering small- town high school sports in central Illinois. Over the years he'd seen plenty. He'd covered future major leaguers like Bill Madlock and farm boys who'd never seen a curveball. He'd dealt with coaches who were autocrats, coaches who were jerks, coaches who didn't know their own players' names, and, once, a married coach who skipped town on the day of a big game with the school nurse. But he'd never seen anything like this.


In 1971, a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois playing with hand-me-down uniforms and peace signs on their hats defied convention and the odds. Led by an English teacher with no coaching experience, the Macon Ironmen emerged from a field of 370 teams to become the smallest school in Illinois history to make the state final, a distinction that still stands. There, sporting long hair, and warming up to Jesus Christ Superstar, the Ironmen would play a dramatic game against a Chicago powerhouse that would change their lives forever.

In a gripping, cinematic narrative, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard tells the story of the team and its coach, Lynn Sweet, a hippie, dreamer and intellectual who arrived in Macon in 1966, bringing progressive ideas to a town stuck in the Eisenhower era. Beloved by students but not administration, Sweet reluctantly took over a rag-tag team, intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Inspired by Sweet's unconventional methods and led by fiery star Steve Shartzer and spindly curveball artist John Heneberry, the undersized, undermanned Macon Ironmen embarked on an improbable postseason run that infuriated rival coaches and buoyed an entire town.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Who do Voodoo and Gossip

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Who Do, Voodoo
Author: Rochelle Staab
Publisher: Berkley (November 1, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Paperbackswap
Series: A Mind for Murder #1


When Liz Cooper's friend Robin Bloom finds an unusual tarot card tacked to her front door, Liz writes it off as a prank. Robin refuses to ignore the omen—her late husband drew the same card, the three of swords, in a reading the night before he was killed in a car accident. As more cards and darker threats appear, Liz realizes someone very dangerous is upping the ante.

Liz turns to her brother's ex-college roommate, occult expert Nick Garfield. As Nick leads her into the voodoo community to locate the origin of the deck, she can't ignore their attraction to each other. Then a woman is found murdered and Robin becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her friend, Liz joins forces with Nick to unravel otherworldly secrets and seek help from beyond—or risk being outwitted by a cunning killer...

Title: Gossip
Author: Beth Gutcheon
Publisher: William Morrow (March 20, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 288
Genre: Fiction
Source: Paperbackswap


A sharply perceptive and emotionally resonant novel about all the ways we talk about one another, the sometimes fine line between showing concern and doing damage, and the difficulty of knowing the true obligations of friendship.

Loviah “Lovie” French owns a small, high-end dress shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Renowned for her taste, charm, and discretion, Lovie is the one to whom certain women turn when they need “just the thing” for key life events: baptisms and balls, weddings and funerals. Among those who depend on Lovie’s sage advice are her two best friends since boarding school days: Dinah Wainwright and Avis Metcalf. Despite the love they share for their mutual friend, there has always been a chilly gulf between Dinah and Avis, the result of a perceived slight from decades ago that has unimaginably tragic echoes many years later.

Gossip is a tale of intimacy and betrayal, trust and fidelity, friendship and motherhood that explores the way we use “information” — be it true, false, or imagined — to sustain, and occasionally destroy, one another

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review - Spilled Blood

Title: Spilled Blood
Authors: Brian Freeman
Publisher: SilverOak (May 1, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Source: Library

Brian Freeman writes the type of book that you cannot predict. You start out thinking that the evil person is obvious, but as each layer is revealed, you realize that you were wrong. Then being a lover of mysteries and suspense, you point yourself in a different direction and once again, Mr. Freeman exposes the error in your attempt at logic. There are no red herrings, you are left to your own suppositions and skillfully you are shown the blunders of your ways.

“Wise men can be the most foolish. We ask, is it better to do nothing in the face of injustice or do the wrong thing?”

The background of St. Croix and Barron are laid out in a Hatfield and McCoy way. The towns battle over the corrupt practices of a chemical company; a company that employs some and may be at the heart of the death of others. The reader wonders if the intent of Florian Steele followed that of Spock in the “needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”.

“Decent men could do abominable things”

When Florian’s daughter Ashlynn is murdered, all fingers point to Olivia Hawk the estranged daughter of attorney Chris Hawk. I was dreading that the book would be an offshoot of Defending Jacob by William Landay, but it is not. Though each book is about an attorney father fighting for their child, that is where the similarities end. This book holds its own as the reader is lead through the dark hearts of man, from chemical production to murder to adult subject matters – all for the sake of family and secrets.

“One by one, they had all come face to face with the devil.”

Though there does appear to be multiple paths, the storylines bring the reader to a final conclusion that has you on the edge of your seat wondering who will survive and who will be swallowed up by a river that symbolizes the current that is flowing through each of their lives and determined to wash both the land and their souls clean.

What brought all of their lives to this point is fascinating.

“He wished he could change the past. Some mistakes couldn’t be corrected; they could only be endured.”

Brian Freeman writes a thrill ride. Sit down, grab on and know that you are not leaving your chair until the last sentence is read.

Review - Just Because

Title: Just Because
Author and Illustrator: Rebecca Elliott
Publisher: Lion UK (April 1, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Childrens
Source: Library
Ages: 3 and up

I wanted to follow the theme in this book and say that I loved this book JUST BECAUSE, but that would be a disservice to Rebecca Elliott and the poignant story that she is telling.

Ms Elliott dedicates her book to Clemmie and Toby her little muses, and the characters are also named Clemmie and Toby, so I the reader will jump to the conclusion that this is a story of her disabled daughter and her compassionate son.

Clemmie, the older sister, is in a motorized chair and cannot walk or talk or move around much, but she and Toby have wonderful adventures. Toby adores his big sister; he entertains her with drawings and imagines her as a princess. Clemmie is not annoying like other girls and is a great comfort to Toby when he is scared.

Toby does not have the words to describe why he loves his sister, he does and JUST BECAUSE should be reason enough for anyone.

The reader sees that differences do not have to divide people; Toby knows that his sister is unlike other girls; her disabilities do not define her and stop them from being best friend. Maybe that is the lesson we should all take away from this book.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review - A Room Full of Bones

Title: A Room Full of Bones
Authors: Elly Griffith
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 3, 2012)
Format: ARC
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine
Series: Ruth Galloway #4

You have no idea how I had waited for this book to arrive. I love this series, but unfortunately, this is the slowest most monotonous of the bunch. A rehashing of the last three books, with sections that read more like thoughts than actual sentences. Just so she will not completely lose the reader, there are bits of a new storyline thrown in to keep the reader moving forward.

So, what did we learn? Nelson’s wife does have multiple jealous bones in her body, but just might love her husband enough to allow Kate in. Unscrupulous people do use animals for purposes other than what they are intended. Do not open coffins when you are told not to and always wear a mask. It is possible for frumpy middle-aged archaeologist to have love interests. Cathbad is an interesting character that has a way of entering into a person’s coma and bringing the person back from the dead and it is quite possible that religious figures could be female.

Yep, that pretty much sums up the whole book.

This book was an insult to her loyal readers, if we are confused by something that the author said we are more than capable of looking over the older books to refresh a series of events.

I admit that I had put this book down several times and picked up others, not one of the characters or the setting had me fully interested in this book. I felt that Ms Griffiths had no interest in writing a book, but was under a contractual bond and therefore threw something together quickly. How said that she chose to insult her readers that way.

A fun fact - Elly Griffith has been writing for years under another name - Domenica de Rosa. The Italian Quarter was published in 2004

“Sophie Richmond is only a quarter Italian yet this quarter has dominated her life in the person of her charismatic grandfather Cesare. Then a journalist starts asking questions about Cesare’s war record and Sophie embarks on a journey into the past which takes her from nineteenth century Naples to London’s Italian quarter and one of the war’s forgotten tragedies. Along the way she also learns something very important about herself…”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Lethal Outlook

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Lethal Outlook
Author: Victoria Laurie
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (July 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Psychic Eye #10


When a mysterious client approaches Abby with a cryptic message about a young mother who has vanished, Abby is more than willing to get involved. After all, it’s the perfect distraction from dealing with the headache of her sister Cat – who has flown into town and turned Abby and Dutch’s impending nuptials into Weddingpalooza.

After Abby recruits her business partner and BFF, Candice, to assist, they meet with the parents of the missing woman. But the parents refuse to put their faith in a psychic. What’s worse, due to a grave misunderstanding, the family suspects Abby has a connection to their daughter’s husband – the man they believe to be responsible for her disappearance.

So while the family may be blind to the truth, with a potential killer in her sights, Abby is determined to keep her eyes wide open...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - A Deadly Grind

Title: A Deadly Grind
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Publisher: Berkley (May 1, 2012) )
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: A Vintage Kitchen, Book 1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

No one would expect to find a new love at an estate auction, but Jaymie Leighton just had; her heart skipped a beat when she first saw the Indiana housewife’s dream. She wasn’t in Indiana and she wasn’t a housewife, but those were just details. Tall, stately and handsome, if a little the worse for wear, the Hoosier stood alone on the long porch of the deserted yellow-brick farmhouse. The hubbub of the crowd melted away as Jaymie mounted the steps, strode down the creaky wooden porch floor and approached, reverently.

“You are so beautiful!” she crooned, stroking the dusty porcelain work top and gently fiddling with the chromed latch of the Hoosier cabinet cupboard, handled by so many generations of housewives before her eager, yet inexperienced, hands touched it. It was a genuine Hoosier, if the metal plate affixed above the top cupboards of the cabinet was to be believed, and she had no cause to doubt it. The latch of the long cupboard popped and the door swung open to reveal an intact flour sifter, mounted on a tilt-out pin.


When vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton spies an original 1920s Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, it’s love at first sight. Despite the protests of her sister, Rebecca, that the 19th-century yellow-brick house they share in Michigan is already too cluttered with Jaymie’s 'junk', she successfully outbids the other buyers and triumphantly takes home her Hoosier. But that night on the summer porch where they’ve left the Hoosier to be cleaned up, a man is murdered, struck on the head with the steel meat grinder that is part of the cabinet. Who is this stranger—and what was he doing on their porch? Does his death have anything to do with the Hoosier?

As the police struggle to determine the man’s identity, Jaymie can’t help doing a little digging on her own, accompanied by her three-legged Yorkie Poo, Hoppy. But in her bid to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the Hoosier, Jaymie may be the one who ends up going, going…gone!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Temptation, Cleaning Nabokov's House, Then Came You

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Temptation
Author: Douglas Kennedy
Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (April 24, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 320
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


I always wanted to be rich. I know that probably sounds crass, but it’s the truth. A true confession. Like all would-be Hollywood screenwriters, David Armitage wants to be rich and famous. But for the past eleven years, he’s tasted nothing but failure. Then, out of nowhere, big-time luck comes his way when one of his scripts is bought for television. Before you can say “overnight success,” he’s the new toast of Hollywood as the creator of a hit series. Suddenly a major player, he finds that he’s reinventing himself at a great speed, especially when it comes to walking out on his wife and daughter for a young producer who worships only at the altar of ambition.

But David’s upward mobility takes a decidedly strange turn when a billionaire film buff named Philip Fleck barges into his life, proposing a very curious collaboration. David takes the bait and suddenly finds himself inadvertently entering into a Faustian pact and an express ride to the lower depths of the Hollywood jungle.

Title: Cleaning Nabokov's House
Author: Leslie Daniels
Publisher: Touchstone (March 1, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 336
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


“I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.”

So begins Leslie Daniels’s funny and moving novel about a woman’s desperate attempt to rebuild her life. When Barb Barrett walks out on her loveless marriage she doesn’t realize she will lose everything: her home, her financial security, even her beloved children. Approaching forty with her life in shambles and no family or friends to turn to, Barb must now discover what it means to rely on herself in a stark new emotional landscape.

Guided only by her intense inner voice and a unique entrepreneurial vision, Barb begins to collect the scattered pieces of her life. She moves into a house once occupied by Vladimir Nabokov, author of the controversial masterpiece Lolita, and discovers a manuscript that may be his lost work. As her journey gathers momentum, Barb deepens a connection with her new world, discovering resources in her community and in herself that no one had anticipated. Written in elegant prose with touches of sharp humor and wit, Cleaning Nabokov’s House offers a new vision of modern love and a fervent reminder that it is never too late to find faith in our truest selves.

Title: Then Came You
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 8, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 400
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Jules Strauss is a Princeton senior on a full scholarship who plans on selling her “pedigree” eggs to help save her father from addiction.

Annie Barrow, a struggling Pennsylvania housewife, thinks that carrying another woman’s child will help her recover a sense of purpose and will bring in some much-needed cash.

India Bishop, thirty-eight (really, forty-three) and recently married to the wealthy Marcus Croft, yearns for a baby for reasons that have more to do with money than with love. When her attempts at pregnancy fail, she turns to Jules and Annie to make her dreams come true.

But each of their plans is thrown into disarray when Bettina, Marcus’s privileged daughter, becomes suspicious that her new stepmother is not what she seems . . .

Then Came You is a hilarious, tender, and timely tale that explores themes of class and entitlement, surrogacy and charity, the rights of a parent and the measure of a mother.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Review - Breaking Dawn

Title: Breaking Dawn
Authors: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (August 2, 2008)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchase
Ages 14 and Up
Series: Breaking Dawn #4

This book definitely falls into the “when will it ever end” category. Half of words could have been taken out and the storyline would have held.

I do have a question for Ms. Meyer – did you have to replace the S-N-A-R-L keys on your keyboard? If I had to ready the word snarl one more time I think I would have erupted into a tantrum of my own. Get a thesaurus and expand the reader’s vocabulary.

This never-ending book begins with the wedding (this book has been out so long that anyone who was interested already knows this part or saw the movie) and continues with the traumas and dramas of a mortal girl in love with a vampire, but is the recipient of unrequited love of a shape-shifting werewolf.

After you get past the parts where the vampire does not need to breath under water and later she can hear him breathing, you have to settle down and lower your expectations to an overwrought new mommy vampire that is trying to save the vampire world and protect a not quite immortal child.

There were hopes for this book when the middle third was told in Jacobs’s voice, but that glimmer of optimism quickly faded when Bella’s voice took over again.

I understand that my teen / young adult years were decades ago, but come on, I can stretch my imagination like the rest of them – until this book. Bella is an annoying character that seems to have no awareness, Edward, who went from wanting to possess her in the first couple of books, turned into a wishy –washy weakling, Charlie has no problem accepting of his daughter’s turning and Jacob seems to have taken on a completely new persona.

Why did I finish the book, actually the whole series, because I had hope. I had hoped that this distraught main character would somehow pull the rabbit out of the hat and mature into a worthwhile character. Guess I set my expectation too high.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review - Mockingbird

Title: Mockingbird
Authors: Katheryn Erskin
Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (February 3, 2011)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Library
Ages 10 and Up

When it comes to books that discuss social issues, I am always unsure on how to approach my review. Do I want to delve into the hot button issues or do I want to read the book and appreciate the characters and situations that the author introduces me to.

With this book, I chose the latter.

I adored Caitlin. Her world is black and white, there are no confusing double meanings and no topic that she is not blunt about. Yes is Yes, No is No and facial expressions do not always match the words, to which, she has no idea which to follow.

Caitlin has Asperger’s. She does not consider herself autistic and is confused when that word is used to describe her. She does not act like the “autistic kids”, so do not call her one.

Caitlin’s brother Devon was killed in a school shooting, this has devastated their father who is a single parent after losing his wife to cancer and has no idea how to handle both the losses and the raising of a daughter that does not communicate with the world in an easy way. Big brother Devon comes across as the perfect child, he was the one that could explain the world to Caitlin. He was the one that calmed her and smoothed out the bumps in her life.

Since the shooting, Caitlin has decided that she must find c-l-o-s-u-r-e. She has looked the word up in her dictionary and she is sure that if she can just find this “thing” her life will go back to the way it was with Devon. With the help of a school counselor and a few parts from the home improvement store, Caitlin and her father set out to find this elusive closure and in so doing, Caitlin’s small black and white world just might begin to have a little color.

The book is told from Caitlin’s perspective, and because of that, there are some very funny moments. The subject matter is delicate and, I was not sure if I should laugh, but to be honest, Catlin’s perspectives are funny. She has her own thought processes, insights and logic and because of her view of the world, the reader on occasion, stops and ponders and in a quirky way, realizes that Caitlin does make perfect sense. Seeing the world from this wonderful child’s eyes is enlightening. You cheer on her accomplishments and gasp as her forthrightness and in the end, you shed a tear of joy for the advances that she has made.

I loved this book and the character of Caitlin and know that both will stay with me for a good long while.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Gone Missing

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Gone Missing
Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 19, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Series: Kate Burkholder #4


Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.

A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for a presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teens and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Death Tidies Up

Title: Death Tidies Up
Author: Barbara Colley
Publisher: Kensington Books (January 1, 2005)
Format: eBook
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Amazon Digital Service
Series: Charlotte LaRue, Book 2

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The cooler, dry air was invigorating, and Charlotte LaRue sighed with pleasure as she stepped onto the front porch of her Victorian double.

The first touch of fall had finally arrived, but not without a battle. Just before midnight she'd been awakened by the clash of thunder and lightning as a cold front fought its way south. Then the rain had begun, torrents of it from the sound it had made beating against her roof. But the rain hadn't lasted long, just long enough to wash away any remnants of the heat and humidity that typically smothered New Orleans.

Of course, by the time the so-called cold front reached the city, it wasn't cold any more. It was simply cooler. But cooler was good. She'd gladly take what she could get.


Between running her maid service (the successful Maid-for-a-Day) and fretting about her upcoming birthday (the dreaded 6-0), Charlotte LaRue doesn't have much time for gossip. But New Orleans's latest dust-up is hard to ignore--especially since it involves Marian Hebert, one of Charlotte's new clients. Turns out Marian's now-deceased husband once worked for his best friend Drew Bergeron's real-estate agency--and when the business deal soured, so did the friendship. The whole sordid affair came to an unfortunate end when Drew died in a plane crash--and Bill Hebert was killed in what some people insist on calling an accident. Others are convinced it was murder.

Pretty juicy stuff, right? Charlotte doesn't think so. She's trying her best to forget all the rumors--she has more important things to worry about these days. Like vacuuming, window-washing. . .and her new job at the old Devilier house. The gorgeous historic home is being transformed into luxury apartments, and Maid-for-a-Day is in charge of the cleanup. Should be easy enough, Charlotte thinks--until she finds a barely-cold corpse in one of the closets.

The police are sure the dead man is Drew Bergeron. Funny, considering Drew supposedly died years ago--and Charlotte distinctly remembers attending his funeral. Talk about messy. Suddenly all that gossip about the Heberts and Bergerons seems incredibly timely--and Charlotte wishes she'd listened just a little bit closer. . .

With old rivalries flaring--and past secrets suddenly back in the present--Charlotte has a feeling this job will involve some real dirty work. Good thing she has a knack for cleaning up crimes. . .

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mailbox Monday - White Horse and Louisa and the Missing Heiress

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: White Horse
Author: Alex Adams
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (April 17, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 320
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Thrillers
Source: Simon and Schuster
Series: First in a Series


The world has ended, but her journey has just begun.

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

Title: Louisa and the Missing Heiress
Author: Anna MacLean
Publisher: Obisidian (June 7, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 319
Genre: Mystery
Source: Paperbackswap
Series: Louisa May Alcott Mystery #1


Long before she will achieve fame as the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott is writing stories of a more dark and mysterious nature. But nothing prepares her for the role of amateur detective she assumes when the body of her dear friend, wealthy newlywed Dorothy Wortham, is found floating in Boston's harbor.

It's well known that Dorothy's family didn't approve of her husband, a confirmed fortune hunter, but Louisa suspects that some deeper secret lies behind her friend's tragic murder...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

At The Movies - The Answer Man

Jeff Daniels ... Arlen Faber
Lauren Graham ... Elizabeth
Lou Taylor Pucci ... Kris Lucas

This movie has been sitting on my shelf for over two months. I think initially, I was turned off because of the whole Indie thing. Independent movies never hit the right cord with me so on an “I am not leaving the house no matter what” Sunday, I popped it in.

This movie has been sitting on my shelf for over two months. I think initially, I was turned off because of the whole Indie thing. Independent movies never hit the right cord with me so on an “I am not leaving the house no matter what” Sunday, I popped it in.

I loved this movie.

There I said it; I actually loved an Independent Film.

Jeff Daniels plays a foul-mouthed spiritual author who took over 10% of the G-O-D market by writing a book on the conversation that he had with the Almighty. Because of the fame and the zealots, he has lived a life of isolation. He has never spoken publically about his book; he has never opened himself up in that way. His publicist hates him, he hides action figures in a cabinet and is paranoid about anyone touching his piano. That is until he is in excruciating back pain and literally crawls into the office of a chiropractor and his world is opened up in un-expectant ways.

I would hate to say that Lauren Graham and Lou Taylor Pucci are the supporting cast because they each hold their own and then some to Jeff Daniels. Each storyline -- of a single mother starting out on her own and a bookstore owner fresh out of rehab dealing with an alcoholic father – hold the same fascination as the reclusive author. Each person is searching for answers in a world that only offers more questions and challenges.

This movie is very funny, very over the top in language and very sincere in the message of needing people to help us over our hurtles. In a way, we all need a Jeff Daniels / Arlen Faber in our lives -a man that does not have all the answers but sure knows how to give good insight when it is needed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reading Challenge Addict Update

Rules:We're not making this a difficult challenge, actually, it's going to be very simple!

This challenge will begin on January 1, 2011 and end on December 31, 2011.

Write a starting post joining the challenge and outlining your challenges.

Track all of your challenge accomplishments - good & bad.

Stop by to join us in the mini-challenges, updates & extra giveaways throughout the year.

Reading Challenge Addict Blog

I have only completed 23% of my Challenges.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Gone Girl

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown (June 5, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense


On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was left in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - A Room Full of Bones

Title: A Room Full of Bones
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc (April 1, 2012)
Format: ARC Trade Paperback
Genre: Mystery
Source: Amazon Vine Program
Series: Ruth Galloway, Book 4

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea


31 October 2009

The coffin is definitely a health and safety hazard. It fills the entrance hall, impeding the view of the stuffed Auk, a map of King’s Lynn in the 1800s and a rather dirty oil painting of Lord Percival Smith, the founder of the museum. The coffin’s wooden sides are swollen and rotten and look likely to disgorge their contents in a singularly gruesome manner. Any visitors would find its presence unhelpful, not to say distressing. But today, as on most days, there are no visitors to the Smith Museum. The curator, Neil Topham, stands alone at the far end of the hall looking rather helplessly at the ominously shaped box on the floor. The two policemen who have carried it this far look disinclined to go further. They stand, sweating andmutinous in their protective clothing, under the dusty chandelier donated by Lady Caroline Smith (1884–1960).


On Halloween night, the Smith Museum in King's Lynn is preparing for an unusual event -- the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when forensic archaelogist Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead beside the coffin. Topham's death seems to be related to other uncanny incidents, including the arcane and suspect methods of a group called the Elginists, which aims to repatriate the museum's extensive collection of Aborigine skulls; the untimely demise of the museum's owner, Lord Smith; and the sudden illness of DCI Harry Nelson, who Ruth's friend Cathbad believes is lost in The Dreaming -- a hallucinogenic state central to some Indigenous Australian beliefs. Tensions build as Nelson's life hangs in the balance. Something must be done to set matters right and lift Nelson out of the clutches of death, but will Ruth be able to muster herself out of a state of guilt and foreboding in order to do what she does best?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Grave of Angels and Extended Family

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Grave of Angeels
Author: Michael Prescott
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (August 7, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 332
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Kate Malick’s first calling was as a Carmelite nun, a life devoted to prayer and faith. Now she runs a Hollywood security service dedicated to protecting its clients. But Kate’s most troublesome client, teenage celebutante Chelsea Brewer, is a walking, talking, slow-motion train wreck who’s testing that devotion. The poster child for the pitfalls of childhood fame and fortune, Chelsea careens from one party to the next, riding the ragged edge between celebrity…and fatality.

When a huge bet is placed on her impending demise, Chelsea disappears, forcing Kate to leap into action. Searching Hollywood’s darkest corners and seediest hiding places in a desperate attempt to find her client, Kate uncovers a tangled conspiracy of revenge and betrayal. But time is running out, and if Kate doesn’t find Chelsea, the bet will leave one person rich, one woman shattered, and one young girl dead. Flying at a breakneck pace and full of unrelenting tension, Grave of Angels journeys full-tilt into the dark side of fame.

Title: Extended Family
Author: Patrick Kendrick
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (June 5, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 370
Genre: Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine


Dr. Harmon Gettys is the perfect man: tall, dark, handsome, and brilliant. He’d seemingly be a catch for any woman—especially those who desire an apparently charmed offspring. But Gettys uses his seed for murder, to create a legacy of violence.

For Fire Marshal Greymon Gift, gruesome burn-related murders are nothing new. But a sudden spike in his jurisdiction has Gift on high alert. When an FBI investigation links multiple arson scenes to the deceased Dr. Gettys, Gift is pulled even deeper into a case that’s hot enough to start a conflagration. He knows that even if Gettys were alive, such an assortment of violent crimes could never be committed by just one man. So who is spreading these horrors from coast to coast?

Gift and FBI Agent Rose Cleary partner up to stop the growing number of savagely murdered victims, but can they uncover the truth before they wind up on the list of the dead? Extended Family offers a thrilling look into the heart of darkness. Horrifying and suspenseful, the novel explores the idea that evil can be passed like a torch from one generation to the next. As Gettys proved—and Gift is about to find out—sometimes all it takes is a spark to set the family tree ablaze.