Friday, August 31, 2012

Review - The Tooth of Time

Title: The Tooth of Time
Author: Sue Henry
Publisher: Onyx (April 3, 2007)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 288
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Maxie and Stretch #2

The Tooth of Time reads more like a travelogue of New Mexico than a murder mystery. I would say that you are about halfway into the book before the main mystery appears. There is a brief mention of a body in a yarn-dying vat prior to that, but it is quickly brushed over. It is not until the very end of the story, before you are told that the two murders that appear in the book are related.

Maxie McNabb and her dog Stretch are once again on the road traveling in their Minnie Winnie and exploring the Southwest. They have stopped in Taos, New Mexico to check out a yarn store and perhaps learn a bit about weaving. After a brief encounter with a fellow shopper, Maxie is surprised when she is asked to visit the same woman in the hospital after an apparent suicide attempt. Being the good-natured woman that she is, Maxie visits and decides to take Shirley home until she can get her feet under herself again.

Disappearing the next morning, Shirley leaves a trail questions and swarthy characters in her wake. Taos may not be a large community, but they do seem to have questionable people so when Maxie does not reveal what she may know about her houseguest, her poor frightened pooch is dog-napped until Maxie hands over the goods. Yes, it is that trite.

Apparently, you do not come between a senior citizen and her traveling companion, so with the help of her new friends and a very convoluted story of conning and deceit that does not come to a full conclusion, you find yourself suddenly at the end of the book wondering if you missed something. I cannot say that I liked this book; I like my murder mysteries to be more about the bodies and less about the RV and its hiding spaces. Not to mention a satisfactory ending that does not have me scratching my head wondering if either there were pages missing or if Sue Henry got as frustrated with the storyline as I did and decided to put us both out of our misery.

I recall enjoying the first book in this series, The Serpents Trail much more than this book. I will continue with this series and hopefully, the next book The Refuge will capture my attention a bit more.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review - Gilly Salt Sisters

Title: The Gilly Salt Sisters
Author: Tiffany Baker
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 14, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 384
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library

Maybe I missed something earlier in the book, but until the end, I had been slightly distracted as to what time period the story took place. There were some very old-fashioned sequences and ideals, but at the same time, I was sure it was current day. Surface it to say, this books spans the lifetime of two very different sisters.

Claire Gilly is a woman of the earth, she loves the Gilly Salt Creek Farm that she has grown up on in an isolated Cape Cod village called Prospect. The land and its traditions talk to her, yet her younger sister Joanne is a different sort all together. She cannot wait to leave. This land and its history only bring heartache. It is a place that is cruel to men, they either die or leave and Joanne wants nothing to do with either ,so when she creates an opportunity and finds herself marrying the son of the wealthiest family in town, she thinks that all her sorrow is gone and her wishes have been answered.

That is not the way it is in small towns, deeply buried secrets that have a tendency to divide families will one day surface and the Gilly sisters, who have a very troublesome relationship, must decide if their bond and salt are stronger than the Turners and what they are willing to do to separate them from their land.

There were many parts of this book that I loved, the sisters’ relationship was fascinating to me, from an early age, they could not see their need for each other. Their lives were so entwined that one could truly not survive without the other. Other parts of the book, the new girl in town (see, I cannot remember her name), were not necessary. That storyline did not bring to the forefront any more information than what was apparent. The book dragged in parts and at times, I literally put it down to find something that was more interesting to read.

If you are considering a book by Tiffany Baker, I would recommend The Little Giant of Aberdeen County This one, The Gilly Salt Sisters, not as appealing or memorable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - How Lucky You Are

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: How Lucky You Are
Author: Kristyn Kusek Lewis
Publisher: 5 Spot (September 4, 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 352
Genre: Chic Lit


In the tradition of Emily Giffin and Marisa de los Santos, How Lucky You Are is an engaging and moving novel about three women struggling to keep their longstanding friendship alive. Waverly, who's always been the group's anchor, runs a cozy bakery but worries each month about her mounting debt. Kate is married to a man who's on track to be the next governor of Virginia, but the larger questions brewing in their future are unsettling her. Stay-at-home mom Amy has a perfect life on paper, but as the horrific secret she's keeping from her friends threatens to reveal itself, she panics.

As life's pressures build all around them, Waverly knows she has some big decisions to make. In doing so, she will discover that the lines between loyalty and betrayal can become blurred, happy endings aren't always clear-cut, and sometimes you have to risk everything to gain the life you deserve.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - A Brew to a Kill

Title: A Brew to a Kill
Author: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: Berkley (August 7, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 384
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Coffee House Mystery

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

“In times like these, Clare, failing to take a risk is the biggest risk of all.”

Across the café table’s cool marble surface, Madame Dreyfus Allegro Dubois pinned me with her near-violet eyes. “Don’t you agree?”

Of course, I agree. I wanted to shout this, scream it. Risk and I were old friends, and if anyone knew that, my octogenarian employer did.

“Investing in the new coffee truck was my idea,” I reminded her between robust hits of espresso. “I know it’s a smart idea.”

“Good. Now all you must do is convince him.”


A shocking hit-and-run in front of her Village Blend coffeehouse spurs Clare Cosi into action. A divorced, single mom in her forties, Clare is also a dedicated sleuth, and she's determined to track down this ruthless driver who ran down an innocent friend and customer. In the meantime, her ex-husband Matt, the shop's globetrotting coffee buyer, sources some amazing new beans from Brazil. But he soon discovers that he's importing more than coffee, and Clare may have been the real target of that deadly driver. Can ex-husband and wife work together to solve this mystery? Or will their newest brew lead to murder?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mailbox Monday - The Gilded Shroud

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Guilded Shroud
Author: Elizabeth Bailey
Publisher: Berkley Trade (September 6, 2011)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 368
Genre: Regency Mystery
Series: A Lady Fan Mystery #1


First in a new series that has the perfect mix of Regency murder and mystery. When the marchioness is found murdered at Polbrook mansion, the Dowager Lady Polbrook’s new companion, Ottilia Draycott, finds herself in a house of strangers and every one of them a suspect. Only she can unmask and outwit a desperate killer and keep a Polbrook family secret buried.

Chapter 1

The chambermaid, creeping into my lady's room to light the fire, noticed nothing amiss. Prey to all the discomforts of a cold in the head, with her hearing muffled, Sukey was unaware of the unusual silence. Nor could any unpleasant odour penetrate beyond the thickness of a stuffed-up nose. Indeed, her concentration was intent upon trying not to sniff too loudly, for fear of disturbing her mistress's rest.

With deft and practised movements, she went about her accustomed task with the minimum of noise, scraping out last night's ashes and setting fresh coals and faggots in their place. When it came to blowing up the embers to encourage a fitful flame, however, the shortness of breath induced by Sukey's condition made her cough involuntarily.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review - Going Organic Can Kill You

Title: Going Organic Can Kill You
Author: Staci McLaughlin
Publisher: Kensington Books (July 3, 2012)
Format: Kindle
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Overdrive
Series: Blossom Valley Mysteries #1

What are the odds that Dana Lewis could find two dead bodies within one week in idyllic Blossom Valley, California? If it were not for its beautiful vistas, people would not stop any longer than to fill their gas tank and grab a quick burger.

Dana has returned home to care for her mother a year after her father’s death. Giving up a semi lucrative career in San Jose, Dana now spends her time creating brochures for the O'Connell Organic Farm and Spa. With her contract running out and the spa needing an extra set of hands, she helps where she can. Delivering towels and picking up honey from the local beekeeper should not involve death, but Blossom Valley has a few strange things going on – and I am not talking about the Cricket Contest.

With Detective Caffrey leading the investigation and Jason the newspaper reporter writing the editorials, Dana is determined to help solve the murders and help her mother’s friend Esther get her fledging farm and spa up and running.

Going Organic Can Kill You follows the typical cozy mystery genre of small town and diverse personalities. The writing has continuity issues and after a choppy start, the flow pick up. Well actually, I am not sure if the flow improved or I just settled into what was offered and decided not to fight it anymore.

Once again, it is a semi adequate offering from Kensington Publishing. This is a proposed first in a series, but from what I read, I do not find a need to continue with book number two.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
Author: Johnathan Evison
Publisher: Algonquin Books (August 28, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 288
Genre: Fiction


Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything—his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider.

But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large.

Though begun with mutual misgivings, the relationship between Trev and Ben evolves into a close camaraderie, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev’s ailing father. A series of must-see roadside attractions divert them into an impulsive adventure interrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark.

Bursting with energy, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible surprises and the heart’s uncanny capacity to mend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Gilly Salt Sisters

Title: The Gilly Salt Sisters
Author: Tiffany Baker
Publisher: AudioGO; Unabridged edition (May 22, 2012)
Format: Audio
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

When all was said and done, Jo supposed, she would simply call hers a story of salt. Parts of it were bitter on the tongue, parts of it were rocky, and over the years parts had even melted clean away. What was left were the concentrated bits, the crystals that cracked and sparkled when crushed between her teeth. “Grit”, the people of Prospect called it, but it was far more than that, Jo knew. It was regret given weight, history made tangible. It was everything she and her sister should have said to each other and then never did.


In the isolated Cape Cod village of Prospect, the Gilly sisters are as different as can be. Jo, a fierce and quiet loner, is devoted to the mysteries of her family's salt farm, while Claire is popular, pretty, and yearns to flee the salt at any cost. But the Gilly land hides a dark legacy that proves impossible to escape. Although the community half-suspects the Gilly sisters might be witches, it doesn't stop Whit Turner, the town's wealthiest bachelor, from forcing his way into their lives. It's Jo who first steals Whit's heart, but it is Claire--heartbroken over her high school sweetheart--who marries him.

Years later, estranged from her family, Claire finds herself thrust back onto the farm with the last person she would have chosen: her husband's pregnant mistress. Suddenly, alliances change, old loves return, and new battle lines are drawn. What the Gilly sisters learn about each other, the land around them, and the power of the salt, will not only change each of their lives forever, it will also alter Gilly history for good.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Author: Amy Chua
Publisher: Penguin Press (January 11, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 256
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Friends of the Library Sale


All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.

Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:

• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin

The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin.

Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:

"According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:

1. Oh my God, you're just getting worse and worse.
2. I'm going to count to three, then I want musicality.
3. If the next time's not PERFECT, I'm going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!"

But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters' performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting--and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review - Touching Stars

Title: Touching Stars
Author: Emilie Richards
Publisher: AudioGO; Unabridged edition (March 15, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 528
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Shenandoah Album #4

Why is it that I remember the prior books in this series to have a religious angle to them? I kept waiting for that slant to appear and if it had, I completely missed it.

Gayle Fortman has been raising her sons alone for the last twelve or so years since her charming husband Eric chose his career as a broadcast journalist over being a father and husband. Now returned home after a near death experience in Afghanistan, Eric is trying to rebuild his life and a relationship with his boys.

When Gayle divorced Eric, she and her sons built a life in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, they run the Daughter of the Stars bed and breakfast inn, and with the help of Travis Allen, a neighbor down the road, the little family has built a very good life together.

Now that Eric has moved into the inn during his recovery, the family is a bit off balance. Being described as the most married divorced woman anyone has known, Gayle must revisit her feeling for Eric. Is Gayle ready to come to terms with her emotions and decide once and for all, what is best for her sons?

The boys have grown up without a father and they too must decide what bond they wish to have with a man that has been absent most of their lives. Not without squabbles and door slamming, this family finds their answers and goes into the direction that will suit each of them.

Played against a backdrop of a local historical play, Touching Stars entwines the past and present leaving the reader mesmerized with two different but completely related stories that easily entertains and fascinates.

As you are reading, do not assume that you know the outcome of either storyline. Ms Richards weaves a tale that encompasses both the people and history of the Shenandoah Valley. Characters from previous books appear and hopefully, characters from this book will reappear in the next.

Very much in the same tenor as Robin Carr, you will find Emilie Richards to be a gifted writer and dreamer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review - Lethal Outlook

Title: Lethal Outlook
Author: Victoria Laurie
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (July 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 368
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Psychic Eye #10

When I first started writing this review, I realized how I had focused more on how miffed I was at Ms Laurie for playing the pricing game. By only publishing this book in hardcover, the cost of the Kindle release was automatically increased. I understand that an author has to be fairly compensated for their work; I can live with that, as long as authors realize that they are now forcing some of their regular purchasers into having to wait their turn at the library, where only one copy was purchased - guess we will all have to live and learn.

I do not want you to misunderstand me. I enjoyed this book, what I do not enjoy is the new world of pricing and publishing.

Recovering from her near death experience, Abby is back home in Austin and settled into her new offices and business adventures with best friend Candice. When her first client of the day walks in, Abby know that trouble is soon to follow. With very little details, Abby must reach out to the family of a dead young mother and help to solve a mystery that has far-reaching implications.

Of course, trouble does not always ride alone, so when in a moment of weakness Abby asked her sister to help plan her wedding, you can see all aspects of her life deteriorating in no time flat. With a murder or two to solve, nuptials to plan, a sister that is trying to orchestrate a weddingpalooza, a contractor trying to finish up her dream home, scorpions taking up residence, a fiancé that is eyeballs deep in his own investigation and a business partner with the worst case of food poisoning ever, Abby goes into panic mode. Everything in Abby’s life is in overdrive. She has a talent and finds great pleasure in helping guide others, sometimes to her own detriment, leaving her very little personal time.

Unfortunately, this psychic gift tends to get her in more trouble than is good for any team of twelve people, let along one struggling psychic. But what is she to do? She cannot just walk away.

As I said, I did like this book and I do like this series. There were only a couple of instances where I was scratching my head. The first being – if you are recovering from a hip fracture and are using a cane to walk, how do you scramble over a fence; and two, if in the past books you relied on the light airy feeling when someone was telling the truth, why did that ability let you down now? That would have been very helpful in eliminating a few of the coterie of entwined suspects.

Once again, I am digressing into the negative. Start this series of books from the beginning. It is fun to see how Abby, Dutch and their band of brethren take on the world with a little inside knowledge.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Midwife of Hope River

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Midwife of Hope River
Author: Patricia Harman
Publisher: William Morrow (August 28, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 400
Genre: Historical Fiction


Midwife Patience Murphy has a gift: a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience takes the jobs that no one else wants, helping those most in need—and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust—but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in.

Honest, moving, and beautifully detailed, Patricia Harman's The Midwife of Hope Riverrings with authenticity as Patience faces nearly insurmountable difficulties. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world.

Chapter 1


“How long do you think my baby’s been dead?” Katherine turns toward me, and I can tell she’s still crying.

“Five days, maybe less,” I answer my patient. “I heard the heart-beat when I checked you last Friday, and you said the baby moved during church. Shut your eyes now. Try. You need to rest.

I place my new leather-bound journal on the maple table, lean my head back, and gaze across the dark room. Fire crackles in the blue-tiled freplace, fickers on the armoire, the canopy of the birthbed, and the wallpapered walls. A watery image in the dressing table mirror catches my eye. It’s me, a small woman with long auburn hair, a straight nose, and a round chin, pretty enough but not beautiful.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Last Policeman

Title: The Last Policeman
Author: Ben H. Winter
Publisher: Quirk Books (July 10, 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback, Pgs 288
Genre: Pre-Apocalyptic
Source: Library
Series: The Last Policeman #1 (proposed trilogy)

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

I’m staring at the insurance man and he’s staring at me, two cold gray eyes behind old-fashioned tortoiseshell frames, and I’m having this awful and inspiring felling, like holy moly this is real, and I don’t know if I’m ready, I really don’t.

I narrow my eyes and I steady myself and I take him in again, shift on my haunches to get a closer look. The eyes and the glasses, the weak chin and the receding hairline, the think black belt tied and tightened beneath the chin.

This is real. Is it? I don’t know.


What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.

The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Seating Arrangements and Death at the President's Lodging

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Seating Arrangements
Author: Maggie Shipstead
Publisher: Knopf (June 12, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Fiction


Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff. Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.

Title: Death at the President's Lodging
Author: Michael Innes
Publisher: Penguin (1962)
Format: Paperback 275
Genre: Mystery
Series: Inspector Appleby #1


Inspector Appleby is called to St Anthony's College, where the President has been murdered in his Lodging. Scandal abounds when it becomes clear that the only people with any motive to murder him are the only people who had the opportunity - because the President's Lodging opens off Orchard Ground, which is locked at night, and only the Fellows of the College have keys...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review - Stay at Home Dead

Title: Stay at Home Dead
Author: Jeffrey Allen
Publisher: Kensington (January 1, 2012)
Format: eBook; 304 pgs
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library / Overdrive
Series: Stay at Home Mysteries #1

Imagine my surprise when I picked up this book for a quick little look and found that I could not put it down. Recently, I have had horrible luck with cozies – thinking that this was just another in a long list of less than entertaining fluff, I kept by expectations low.

Jeffrey Allen (another pen name for Jeff Shelby) surprised me. The humor is over the top funny, the main characters are engaging, and the storyline, though a bit simplistic is very entertaining. In this book, you get to meet the people. Those unique personalities that make up a small town.

After the birth of their daughter, Deuce Winters, a high school teacher and his wife Julianne, a rising attorney, decided that it would be best for Deuce to be the stay at home dad. This took some getting used to and not without a couple of eye rolls from their fellow neighbors in Rose Petal, Texas.

Growing up and remaining in a small town means that everyone knows your business, so when the body of an old high school football rival shows up dead in the back of Deuce’s minivan, the town knows that Deuce must have done it.

There is a bit twisting to find out why the said knife is in the said body, in the said minivan. Deuce does not have time to listen to the gossip, he has to get his daughter to preschool where he is the reigning Room Dad and will not give in to the vicious catty W.O.R.M’s that want him out.

This book had me laughing from start to finish. The relationship between Deuce and his wife is perfect. You can feel the respect that they have for each other and without their humor, neither one of them could get through what this town has thrown at them. Their daughter is precious and Deuce’s parents have their way of keeping everyone in line.

Love these people, love this town. If you have a chance, pick up this book, you will not be disappointed.

P.S. Imagine my surprise when I found out that is was published by Kensington - Good Job!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review - Scrapbook of Secrets

Title: Scrapbook of Secrets
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Publisher: Kensington (February 1, 2012)
Format: eBook; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Cumberland Creek #1

What is Cumberland Creek, Virginia coming to when eighty-year-old Beatrice walks home from the market only to find a knife sticking out of the back of her neck and just that morning an ambulance was at Maggie Rae Dasher’s home in response to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In long rambling sections, much like this one, we come to find out that while on their way home from the hospital where Beatrice had had surgery to remove the embedded blade, a group of croppers (apparently this is a term of endearment for scrapbookers) comes across boxes of scrap-booking materials that have been dumped on the curb in front of Maggie Rae’s home. Why would the husband of a young woman who had recently died be in a rush to clear her and her things from his memory?

Being scrapbook queens, the women cannot let this atrocity lie and gather up the materials so they can “snoop”, I mean create scrapbooks for the dead woman’s children. It was during their foray through the bags and boxes that they came across letters, letters that quite clearly spelled out that Maggie Rae had a secret life known as Juicy X.

This book went from stupid to ridiculous to downright insulting. You have murder, you have secrets, you have infidelity, you have spiritualism, you have old order Mennonites and to top it off, you have quantum physics. Yes, you read that right – this book has jumped the shark into quantum physics. It was if Ms Bryan had no idea what she wanted to write and just decided to throw everything in there in hopes that something would appeal to the reader.

By the end, I could care less who died, why they died or who actually did it. I am beginning to wonder if publishers and editors are becoming as frustrated with this whole cozy mystery genre as I am since they seem to print just about anything that comes across their desk.

Raise the bar Kensington.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (August 14, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 336
Genre: Fiction


Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Scrapbook of Secrets

Title: Scrapbook of Secrets
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Publisher: Kensington (February 1, 2012)
Format: eBook; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Cumberland Creek #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

For Vera, all of the day’s madness began when she saw the knife handle poking out of her mother’s neck. Her mother didn’t seem to know it. In fact, she was surprised that the blade was inside her. “How did that happen?” she demanded to know from her daughter.

Vera just looked at her . . . calmly. “Well, now, Mother, we need to call someone, an ambulance . . . a doctor. . . . I don’t know. Should we pull it out, or what?”


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...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mailbox Monday - A Place of Execution and The Keeper of Lost Causes

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: A Place of Execution
Author: Val McDermid
Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 2, 2000)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 416
Genre: Thriller
Source: Paperbackswap


Winter 1963: two children have disappeared off the streets of Manchester; the murderous careers of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady have begun. On a freezlng day in December, another child goes missing: thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from her town, an insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case: a murder with no body, an investigation with more dead ends and closed faces than he'd have found in the anonymity of the inner city, and an outcome which reverberates through the years.

Decades later he finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote, but just when the book is poised for publication, Bennett unaccountably tries to pull the plug. He has new information which he refuses to divulge, new information that threatens the very foundations of his existence. Catherine is forced to re-investigate the past, with results that turn the world upside down.

A Greek tragedy in modern England, A Place of Execution is a taut psychological thriller that explores, exposes and explodes the border between reality and illusion in a multi-layered narrative that turns expectations on their head and reminds us that what we know is what we do not know.

A Place of Execution is a 2001 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel.

Title: The Keeper of Lost Causes
Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen
Publisher: Dutton Adult (August 23, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 400
Genre: Suspense
Source: Paperbackswap
Series: Department Q #1


Carl Mørck used to be a good homicide detective—one of Copenhagen’s best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren’t so lucky, and Carl, who didn’t draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl’s been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases to keep him company, Cal has been put out to pasture. So he’s as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she’s dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he’s wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.

Because she isn’t dead…yet.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review - Diva Digs Up The Dirt

Title: The Diva Digs Up The Dirt
Author: Krista Davis
Publisher: Berkley (June 5, 2012)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Domestic Diva Mystery #6

The Diva books are not easy to put down, Krista Davis has a way of ending her chapters with just a morsel that has you saying, "well, just a little bit more" and soon you are up way past your bedtime finding out what Sophie and Natasha are up to.

All Sophie Winston wanted was a nice backyard vacation, no work for two weeks. A peaceful and quiet time with her gardening and pets, she works hard, that should not be too much to ask for. All that changed when Mona charges into her backyard and demands that she find her missing daughter.

Nope not going to happen, even though Sophie has helped in investigations in the past, she is not a detective. If only life were that simple.

While trying to do a good deed and plant a rosebush in her boyfriend Wolf's backyard, Sophie unearths the purse of Wolf's missing wife. All along, she has known that Anne just disappeared one day, but the realization that without a body, Wolf is still married has hit her hard. What is she to do? She knows that there is no way that the man she loves could be responsible for this act but there are too many unanswered questions.

Add in Natasha's fame addiction, a home improvement show trying to add a garage to Sophie's back yard, the curious goings on with Roscoe, his new wife, his ex-wife, his housekeeper, his son and the son's fiancée. I know that sounds a bit complicated, but Krista Davis has no problem keeping everyone straight for the reader.

The longed for vacation is but a dream.

Another reviewer has called this a transitional book and I could not agree more. We, the readers, are not sure what direction Sophie will take. She loves her family, her town, she loves her friends and her pets, but it is now a time for Sophie to open new doors.

I love this series; the characters are developing without any shocking changes, well except for one in this book. Who knew that Detective Kenner could be human? The humor runs throughout the book, and just when you think you have it all figured out, there is a wham moment. The multiple storylines have you bouncing back and forth, without any drag or confliction and with returning characters, the reader has a chance to revisit old friends.

Great series that is best enjoyed from the beginning, so grab the books, sit out on your patio and enjoy a taste of Old Town sleuthing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Stranger in the Room

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Stranger in the Room
Author: Amanda Kyle Williams
Publisher: Bantam (August 21, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Suspense
Series: Keye Street #2

Overview :

That bullet was meant for you.

Summer is smoldering through Atlanta on Fourth of July weekend, as fireworks crack through the air and steam rises from the pavement on Peachtree. Private investigator and ex–FBI profiler Keye Street wants nothing more than a couple of quiet days alone with her boyfriend, Aaron—but, as usual, murder gets in the way.

I will find her.

A.P.D. Lieutenant Aaron Rauser is called to the disturbing scene of the strangling death of a thirteen-year-old boy. Meanwhile, Keye must deal with not one but two of her own investigations: In the hills of Creeklaw County, there’s a curious case involving chicken feed and a crematorium, and in Atlanta, Keye’s emotionally fragile cousin Miki is convinced she is being stalked. Given Miki’s history of drug abuse and mental problems, Keye is reluctant to accept her cousin’s tale of a threatening man inside her house late one night. But as a recovering alcoholic herself, Keye can’t exactly begrudge a woman her addictions—especially since Miki drives Keye to near-relapses at every turn. And yet, Miki is family, and Keye must help her—even if it means tempting her own demons.

I always find her.

All hell breaks loose when another murder—the apparent hanging of an elderly man—hits disturbingly close to home for Keye. And though the two victims have almost nothing in common, there are bizarre similarities between this case and that of Aaron’s strangled teen. Is there a single faceless predator, a calculating murderer targeting his prey at random? Only a skilled profiler like Keye Street can help the A.P.D. find him. With the threat of more deaths to come, Keye works on pure instinct alone—and soon realizes that a killer is circling ever closer to the people she loves the most.