Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday - Touching Stars

Title: Touching Stars
Author: Emilie Richards
Publisher: Mira (July 1, 2007)
Format: Audio
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Shenandoah Album #4




Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea





Chapter 1

Gayle Fortman knew a number of things for certain, but three were at the top of her list. One, that life could spin out of control unless she spent all her walking hours nudging it into place, Two, that even sternly administered nudges couldn’t deter fate, and three, that if fate could not be nudged, cajoled or outrun, the only other possibility was to turn and face it squarely.

Overview

Gayle Fortman has built a good life for herself and her three sons in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Divorced from charismatic broadcast journalist Eric Fortman, Gayle has made a success of Daughter of the Stars, a popular bed-and-breakfast inn. She has even maintained a cordial relationship with Eric, covering with the boys for his absences and broken promises. Family was never a priority for her ex-husband, even when they were still married. Luckily Travis Allen, her closest neighbor, has been a loving surrogate father to the boys and her own best friend.

Then, on the eve of oldest son Jared's graduation, Eric returns, but not for the celebration. He nearly lost his life in Afghanistan. Worse, he has lost his way and his courage, and needs a place to recover. Gayle realizes this might be the last chance for her sons to establish a real bond with their father, and offers him a summer at the inn and a chance to put things right. Gayle and Eric are all too aware that the love and attraction they once shared are still there. Can the pieces of their broken lives be mended, or are they better laid to rest?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday - The Lifeboat and The Cottage at Glass Beach



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: The Lifeboat
Author: Charlotte Rogan
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (April 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 288
Genre: Fiction
Source: Paperbackswap


Overview

Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?





Title: The Cottage at Glass Beach
Author: Heather Barbieri
Publisher: Harper (May 15, 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 320
Genre: Fiction
Source: Paperbackswap


Overview

Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and a doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcolm.

Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters—Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve—and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.

Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades—not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt's friend Polly suggests, a selkie—a mythical being of island legend—summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?

Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own—a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review - The Other Woman's House


Title: The Other Woman's House
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Penguin Books (June 26, 2012)
Format: Softcover; Pgs 464
Genre: Suspense
Source: Library
Series: Spilling CID #6
Note: Published as Lasting Damage in the UK

I do not know what happened, I started out loving this book, the suspense factor was high and then by page 300 I was wondering if this book was ever going to end. By the time I reached page 350, I just closed the book and I had no interest in even reading the last chapter to see how it all worked out.

It is the middle of the night and Connie Bowskill cannot sleep, she doe not want to bother her husband so she slips out of their room and heads to the computer. Clicking onto a realtor site, Connie sees the unbelievable. While watching a virtual tour, she spots a dead woman laying face down on beige carpet with a pool of blood blooming out from the middle of her body.

Unfortunately, for her, this is not just any house; she is convinced that this is the home of the woman that her husband Kit has been having an affair with. This is the address that has been programmed into the SatNav system in her husband’s car marked “home”.

Running to get her husband, Kit sits down at the computer and as the pictures circle around to the living room again, there is no woman on the screen. The room is there, the beige carpet is there, but there is no woman, no blood. Is his wife hallucinating, is she having another break like she had years ago. Could there possibly be some explanation to what she believes that she has seen?

There are multiple storylines going on and after awhile my brain just gave up. Too long, too repetitive, too drawn out and as I said, I just got to the point where I could no longer stand picking up the book.

I have tried Sophie Hannah in the past, but was hoping that this time would be different. That was not to be. Ms Hannah is just not the right author for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review - Little House in the Big Woods

Title: Little House in the Big Woods
Author: Laura Ingles Wilder
Publisher: Harper and Brothers which later became Scholastic; 1932
Format: Audio
Genre: Children's to Young Adult
Source: Library
Series: Little House #1

Other than the lack of medical care, the possibility of starvation and certain isolation, there is something to be said about the simpler times that are reflected upon in Little House in the Big Woods.

Laura Ingles Wilder returns to the time with her family before they moved to the prairie where their life revolved upon mere existence including Pa playing fiddle and telling stories of his time as a boy or how his father did things differently.

Ma is a stoic creature that is in constant food and sewing mode. If Pa brought it home, Ma had a way to prepare it. Be it cloth or bear meat the family must get ready for the hard winter ahead.

For me, I had to put aside the television show that I grew up with and concentrate on what Laura was telling. There are parts that are the same, the essence is there, but the book has a much slower pace. There is a sweetness to the simplicity, a closeness amongst the family and a devotion to working together to make it through.

This book is a true classic and should continue to be shared with your young ones before they become too jaded.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - You Don't Want to Know


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: You Don't Want to Know
Author: Lisa Jackson
Publisher: Kensington (August 7, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 416
Genre: Thriller



Overview:

Two years ago, Ava's two-year-old son Noah went missing, and his body has never been found. Ava has spent most of the past two years in and out of Seattle mental institutions, shattered by grief and unable to recall the details of Noah's disappearance. Now she's back at the family estate she once intended to restore to its former grandeur. But as Ava's mind comes back into focus, her suspicions grow. Ava can't shake the feeling that her family and her psychologist know more than they're saying. Unwilling to trust those around her, Ava secretly visits a hypnotist to try and restore her memories. But the strange visions and night terrors keep getting worse. Ava is sure she's heard Noah crying in the nursery, and glimpsed him walking near the dock. Is she losing her mind, or is Noah still alive? Ava won't stop until she gets answers, but the price may be more than she ever thought to pay...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Other Woman's House

Title: The Other Woman's House
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: Penguin Books (June 26, 2012)
Format: Softcover; Pgs 464
Genre: Suspense
Source: Library
Series: Spilling CID #6
Note: Published as Lasting Damage in the UK



Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea






Chapter 1

I’m going to be killed because of a family called the Gilpatricks.

There are four of them: mother, father, son and daughter. Elise, Donal, Riordan and Tilly. Kit tells me their first names, as if I’m keen to dispense with the formalities and get to know them better, when all I want is to run screaming from the room. Riordan’s seven, he says. Tilly’s five.

Shut up, I want to yell in his face, but I’m too scared to open my mouth. It’s as if someone’s clamped and locked it; no more words will come out, not ever.

This is it. This is where and how and when and why I’m going to die. At least I understand the why, finally.


Overview

It's past midnight, but Connie Bowskill can't sleep. To pass the time, she logs on to a real estate website in search of a particular house, one she is obsessed with for reasons she's too scared to even admit to herself. As she clicks through the virtual tour, she comes across a scene from a nightmare: a woman lying facedown on the living room floor in a pool of blood. But when she returns to show her husband, there is no body, no blood—just a perfectly ordinary room.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Imperfect Bliss and Ten Girls to Watch



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: Imperfect Bliss
Author: Susan Fales-Hill
Publisher: Atria Books (July 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 304
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Overview

Meet the Harcourts of Chevy Chase, Maryland. A respectable middle-class, middle-age, mixed-race couple, Harold and Forsythia have four eminently marriageable daughters—or so their mother believes. Forsythia named her girls after Windsor royals in the hopes that one day each would find her true prince. But princes are far from the mind of their second-born daughter, Elizabeth (AKA Bliss), who, in the aftermath of a messy divorce, has moved back home and thrown herself into earning her PhD. All that changes when a Bachelorette-style reality television show called The Virgin takes Bliss’s younger sister Diana as its star. Though she fights it at first, Bliss can’t help but be drawn into the romantic drama that ensues, forcing her to reconsider everything she thought she knew about love, her family, and herself. Fresh and engaging, Imperfect Bliss is a wickedly funny take on the ways that courtship and love have changed—even as they’ve stayed the same.





Title: Ten Girls to Watch
Author: Charity Shumway
Publisher: Washington Square Press (July 31, 2012)
Format: Trade Paperback, Pgs 368
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Overview

Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a roommate who views rent checks and basic hygiene as optional, and a writing career that’s gotten as far as penning an online lawn care advice column. So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. After all, she’s being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. Most importantly, she’ll learn that while those who came before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to create our own happy ending.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Review - Gone Missing

Title: Gone Missing
Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 19, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 288
Genre: Suspense
Source: Library
Series: Kate Burkholder #4

Linda Castillo paints an amazing picture. You can sense the innocence of the Amish families, you can feel the need for independence of the young, you can wonder how the two can coincide; but you are not prepared for the terror of a missing child.

Rumspringa is a time in the Amish community when the teens are allowed a time of freedom before they are baptized. When they are permitted to experience the outside world and their parents let go and hope that their children will return to their rightful place.

There is a ruthless person out there, a person that is abducting these Amish “worldly” children. Some have been gone for years and some only a few weeks. Kate and Tomaselli are finally putting the pieces together in this puzzle. When it becomes personal for Kate, there is no stopping her. Being ex-Amish herself, Kate knows the people that she is dealing with. She knows their hopes and fears for their children, and has to tread lightly if there is any chance in returning the lost.

“And I know that once we know why, we will find the who.”

As you are reading this book, no one specific character stands out, Ms Castillo paints a broad picture, your mind evaluates each person, each family and you are left wondering who could have done this. Obvious suspects are just that and you know that it cannot be that easy. How could it be? As the story climaxes you are stunned. Kate wonders how she could have missed it. One simply word from a victim and the realization of their miscalculation is staggering to both Kate and the reader.

“There are some decisions you make that you know will affect the rest of your life. Decisions where the line between right and wrong is blurred by circumstances.”

I loved how this book slowly builds in its momentum. How each person, each character had a place in the story, how you could feel Kate’s intensity and love, for both the victims and the people that she calls family.

I do not know what direction Kate and Tomaselli will go, but I do know that they are one of my favorite duos in fiction today. Both are damaged, both have passion for their work, but most importantly, they are not willing to let go of each other or the responsibility that they feel for those around them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review - Perfect Paragon


Title: The Perfect Paragon
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 14, 2005)
Format: Audio; Pgs 234
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Agatha Raisin #16

Oh sure, wait until the last line of the book to grab my attention. After the way that Agatha’s life has been going, this was definitely an unexpected surprise and it will keep the Agatha Raisin lovers tuned into the next book.

Agatha is feeling a twinge in her hip and refuses to believe that it could be arthritis. Ailments are for old people and being slightly over 50 she is too young. That does not mean that crumbling into old age is her lot in life, but still, with no man and a detective agency that is barely stumbling long leaves Agatha with too much time on her hands and too many freewheeling thoughts in her head.

Tired of locating errant cats, Agatha needs a juicy case to work. In walks Robert Smedley, of Smedleys Electronics, determined to prove that his younger wife Mable is cheating on him. Finally, a spark appears in Agatha’s bear like eyes.

Well, darn it if Mabel is not the perfect wife. Now what is Agatha to do? Once again, things are looking a tad boring until Robert Smedley is poisoned with weed killer and Mabel appears as the prime suspect. Not to say that she is the only suspect, as Mrs. Bloxby says, there is no telling what is in the hearts of women.

A few more twists and accompanying storylines are floating within this book, but unfortunately, for me the whole thing never really took off and held my attention – that is until the very last sentence. Sir Charles Fraith is still lurking about and does come to Agatha’s rescue before she can once again make a fool of herself and an unnecessary couple of paragraphs show up with Agatha saving Roy Silver’s reputation, but for the most part, the book was a bit flat.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - A Brew to a Kill


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: A Brew to a Kill
Author: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: Berkley (August 7, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 384
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Coffeehouse Mysteries #11


Overview:

The Village Blend’s Muffin Muse coffee truck is all the rage. Clare’s premium drinks served with a sassy side of Esther’s Slam Poetry makes it a treat to track through all five boroughs. But a fatal hit-and-run, followed by a mysterious death at a food truck–catered wedding give Clare a clue that something bitter is brewing.

Then she opens a bag of imported coffee beans and finds ten pounds of rocks—the kind that will earn you a twenty-year jail sentence. Is her ex-husband and business partner smuggling Brazilian crack? Is her staff now in danger?

To clear up this murky brew, Clare must sweet talk two Federal agents, dupe a drug kingpin, stake out a Dragon Boat festival, and teach a cocky young undercover cop how to pull the perfect espresso—all while keeping herself and her baristas out of hot water.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Little House in the Big Woods

Title: Little House in the Big Woods
Author: Laura Ingles Wilder
Publisher: Harper and Brothers which later became Scholastic; 1932
Format: Audio
Genre: Children's to Young Adult
Source: Library
Series: Little House #1




Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea








Chapter 1

0nce upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.

The great, dark trees of the Big Woods stood all around the house, and beyond them were other trees and beyond them were more trees. As far as a man could go to the north in a day, or a week, or a whole month, there was nothing but woods. There were no houses.

There were no roads. There were no people. There were only trees and the wild animals who had their homes among them.


Overview

Little House in the Big Woods portrays a little girl with eyes full of wonder and heart full of love for her Ma and Pa and sister Mary. The theme of this book is very clear and simple —caring, sharing and growing up during a time when, even though you are a little girl, you do your part to help your family. The theme is brought out simply in each chapter. Laura and Mary had their "chores" each and every day. They were done —without hesitation or pushing from Ma and Pa —completely and thoroughly; then and only then would Laura play.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Defending Angels and Buried in a Book



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: Defending Angels
Author: Mary Stanton
Publisher: Berkley (December 2, 2008)
Format: Paperback; Pages 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Paperbackswap
Series: Beaufort & Company Mystery #1


Overview

With a long list of ethereal clients who need her help, Savannah lawyer Brianna Winston Beaufort's career choice is beginning to haunt her?

An already dead businessman needs Bree's help to find his murderer and prove his innocence against the charge of greed, which comes from the mightiest hand of the law, the Celestial Court. And the verdict in this case could put Bree's life on the line-as well as her client's afterlife.





Title: Buried in a Book
Author: Lucy Arlington
Publisher: Berkley (February 7, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Paperbackswap
Series: A Novel Idea #1


Overview

After receiving her first pink slip at the age of forty-five, former newspaper journalist Lila Wilkins is desperate for work, even if it means taking a pay cut. After combing through the classifieds, Lila accepts an internship at A Novel Idea, a thriving literary agency in the utopian town of Inspiration Valley, North Carolina.

Lila can’t imagine anything better than being paid to read, but with a crew of quirky co-workers and a sky-high stack of query letters, she doesn’t exactly have time to discover the next great bestseller—especially when a penniless aspiring author drops dead in the agency’s waiting room.

No one else seems too concerned about the man’s demise, but when Lila uncovers a series of threatening letters, she’s determined to uncover what—or who—killed the man’s dreams of literary stardom…

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review - 11th Hour

Title: 11th Hour
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 7, 2012)
Format: Hardcover, Audio and eBook' Pgs 416
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Women's Murder Club $11

James Patterson is one of those love them or hate them type of author. I do not read his other books because they do not appeal to me, but for some reason, the Women’s Murder Club is a series that I pick up as soon as I can get my hands on the newest installment.

I like the women in this series; I like how they work as a team without the bickering and backstabbing that typically accompanies women in a professional setting. I know that this is a book, but it is refreshing to see women portrayed in a mature way.

I will now get off my, slightly off the topic, soapbox.

New day with a different kind of crazy has Lindsay Boxer responding to the home of a celebrated actor (for the life of me I cannot remember his name), whose wife disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago. This would have been all fine and dandy, except two severed heads have appeared on his table with a pretty bouquet around each of them and little note cards depicting numbers. What do the numbers mean; could a serial killer have slaughtered an outrageous number of women with no one in San Francisco noticing? More importantly, for his reputation, is the above said missing wife among them.

As if that was not troubling enough, known drug dealers are being murdered with weapons missing from the San Francisco Police Departments evidence room. With what little evidence they do have, it appears that one of their own could be behind the slayings. Who would betray the SFPD in this way and could be the possible motive.

This series is to be read in order so you can understand why Lindsay is in a slightly more emotional state than usual. A life change that is not resolved within these pages, but will hold the reader’s curiosity until the next book.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review - The Azalea Assault


Title: The Azalea Assault
Author: Alyse Carlson
Publisher: Berkley (June 5, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series:A Garden Society Mystery #1

Oh for goodness sake, why do authors feel the need to throw twist upon unnecessary twist in cozy mysteries? It is bad enough that they throw all twenty characters at you at once, but this genre is supposed to involve a smooth easy flow and in the end the reader feels that they have gotten to know new interesting people and a little about the town that they come from.

Other than the excessive characters and a never-ending conclusion, I have a couple generic complains about this book - one of my many pet peeves is the names that authors choose for their characters tend to distract me more than they should. For instances, in Azalea Assault, one of the male characters is named Neil Patrick. Sorry, but there is an actor named Neil Patrick Harris and every time I came to this name, I wanted to add Harris to the end. It does not help that the main character’s last name is Harris and I was forever trying to tie them together.

Second, when you have characters named after flowers there are many to choose from, so why use Petunia. Was not that the name of Porky Pig’s girlfriend? See, names tend to hit me wrong and it tends to distract me from the plotline.

Camilla Harris has control issues. She believes that if you put in the legwork, you could will something to happen so when the dead body of a prominent photograph shows up on the day of the Roanoke Garden Societies magazine shoot, she turns her frustration into anger and is determined to get everyone back on board. The RGS has hired her to be in charge of publicity and she will find a way to get the little matter of not one, but now two dead bodies spun in the right direction.

Knowing what to do and knowing how to do it are two different things, so when a person close to Cam is considered the favorite suspect, Cam in pushed to investigate on her own and clear this wrongly condemned person.

Just when you think that this book is done you realize that there are one hundred additional pages and the author keeps throwing more on the wall hoping to either run up the page count or completely overwhelm the reader. Why were so many scenarios thrown in? By the time I was finished, I swear there were three or four books worth of material smashed together.

No, this book does not standout as an impressive first book and I have no interest in putting in the effort to read anymore.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Odd Apocalypse


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel
Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam (July 31, 2012)
Format: Hardcover and Audio, Pgs 368
Genre: Suspense / Paranormal
Series: Odd Thomas #5



Overview:

Once presided over by a flamboyant Hollywood mogul during the Roaring ’20s, the magnificent West Coast property known as Roseland is now home to a reclusive billionaire financier and his faithful servants. And, at least for the moment, it’s also a port in the storm for Odd Thomas and his traveling companion, the inscrutably charming Annamaria, the Lady of the Bell.

In the wake of Odd’s most recent clash with lethal adversaries, the opulent manor’s comforts should be welcome. But there’s far more to Roseland than meets even the extraordinary eye of Odd, who soon suspects it may be more hell than haven.

A harrowing taste of Roseland’s terrors convinces Odd that it’s time to hit the road again. Still, the prescient Annamaria insists that they’ve been led there for a reason, and he’s promised to do his best for the ghost on horseback. Just how deep and dreadful are the mysteries Roseland and her masters have kept for nearly a century? And what consequences await whoever is brave, or mad, enough to confront the most profound breed of evil? Odd only knows.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Gone Missing



Title: Gone Missing
Author: Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 19, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 288
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Source: Library
Series: Kate Burkholder #4


Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea






Chapter 1

My mamm once told me that some places are too beautiful for anything bad to happen. When I was a kid, I believed those words with all of my young heart. I lived my life in a state of ignorant bliss, oblivious to the evils that lurked like frothy-mouthed predators outside the imaginary gates of our small Amish community. The English world with its mysterious and forbidden charms seemed like a million miles away from our perfect little corner of the earth. I had no way of knowing that some predators come from within and beauty has absolutely nothing to do with the crimes men commit. Ohio’s Amish country is a mosaic of quaint farms, rolling hills dissected by razor-straight rows of corn, lush hardwood forests, and pastures so green that you’d swear you had stepped into a Bill Coleman photograph. This morning, with the sun punching through the final vestiges of fog and the dew sparkling like quicksilver on the tall grass of a hay field, I think of my mamm’s words and I understand how she could believe them.

But I’m a cop now and not easily swayed by appearances, no matter how convincing the facade. My name is Kate Burkholder and I’ve been the police chief of Painters Mill for about three years now. I was born here to Amish parents in a one-hundred-year-old farmhouse set on sixty acres of northeastern Ohio’s rich, glaciated soil. I grew up Plain—no electricity, no motorized vehicles. Up until the age of fourteen, I was a typical Amish girl—innocent, God-loving, content in the way most Amish children are. My future, my very destiny, had been preordained by my gender and the religion bestowed upon me by my parents. All of that changed on a postcard-perfect summer day much like this one when fate introduced me to the dark side of human nature. I learned at a formative age that even on perfect, sunny days, bad things happen.



Overview

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?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Leaving Sophie Dean



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: Leaving Sophie Dean
Author: Alexandra Whitaker
Publisher: 5 Spot (March 26, 2012)
Format: Paperback; 352 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Paperbackswap


Overview

“There are countless books about divorce, about a man having an affair and leaving his wife. Leaving Sophie Dean is unusual in that the husband is not permitted to walk out on the wife.

The novel explores what would happen if a divorcing couple really did act ‘in the children’s best interests’, instead of just paying lip service to that notion.

Some of the ideas are drawn from a non-fiction work by Sylvette Desmeuzes-Balland, Le Divorce V├ęcu par les Enfants (Plon, Paris, 1993) in which children of divorced parents explain what they liked and disliked about the way their parents split up.

It struck me that these children’s view of an ideal divorce isn’t impossible to put into practice – all it requires is a degree of maturity and a sincere desire to spare the children unnecessary pain – but we need to know about it. And how better to share that than in a work of fiction?”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review - Wumbers

Title: Wumbers
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May 30, 2012)
Format: Board Book, Pgs 40
Genre: Children's
Source: Amazon Vine
Ages: Publisher stated preschool and up, I think this should say 3rd grade and up

I love the basic idea of this book, but I just think it is for the wrong age group. Word play is fun, but for young children that are just beginning to read, substituting numbers for letters in books is a bit confusing. Gr8 and 1derful have their places in later primary books, but not in a children’s board book.

I had wondered if maybe I was over reacting, so I had two teenagers, who seem to text for a living and use creative spelling, look this book over for their opinions. They loved it for older kids and thought that it was fun trying to sound out the words, but agreed with me in that it was wrong for the younger set.

They even went on to say that maybe the author should expend more and create a graphic type novel designed for preteens using this concept. That was actually a good idea.

Not the right book for new readers, but perfect for those who conquered primary school reading proficiency.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Review - The Demon You Know

Title: The Demon You Know
Author: Julie Kenner
Publisher: Julie Kenner (April 21, 2012)
Format: eBook; Pgs 22
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Source: Amazon Digital Services
Series: Demon Hunting Soccer Mom #4.5'ish

After reading Demon Ex Machina in 2009 and not seeing any future books on the horizon, I had resigned myself to the fact that this much-loved author was done and there would be no more Kate Conner and the curious town of San Diablo. Much to my delight, Julie Kenner has moved into the world of self-publishing, and with this short story offering and a new book to be published later this year, Kate and her daughter Allie have a new life so to speak.

This teaser falls somewhere between books four and five and has teenage Allie is trying to flex her wings a bit. Quickly realizing that just because her mother is a Demon hunter and she has been practicing her self-defense arts, does not mean that she is able to take on a sneaky devil and protect both herself and her friends.

I love this series, just picture Buffy the Vampire Slayer all grown up with a teenage daughter and a young son who is trying to keep the evil world at bay and having dinner on the table at six. With shock and humor, Kate and her curious band of hunters keep their small town safe no matter what comes crawling out of the panty during a cocktail party.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review - Murder by Mocha

Title: Murder by Mocha
Author: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: Berkley (August 2, 2011)
Format: Audio
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Coffeehouse #10

Holy Smoke and Rockets this book is twisty and the reader is going to have to pay close attention to the plotline if there is any chance of understand who is responsible and why.

I love when a well-liked series expands a character just a bit more; a character that you thought you knew, but come to find out that you only saw the tip of the iceberg. That is what happened with Madame Allegro DuBois in Murder by Mocha. I thought I knew her from the previous nine books, but it appears that there was more to the instant love and friendship that she had with her daughter- in -law Clare. We now understand why after Clare’s divorce from Mateo, Madame still holds Claire closer than anyone one else.

As we know from the previous books, Clare is the manager of a coffee house that is owned by Madame, but there is more to Madame’s past and she had decided to help an old friend Alicia Bower who is trying to sell an aphrodisiac through an online consortium. Mocha Magic uses village blend coffee with a few other added ingredients. There is something more to these ingredients that literally leaves a person unable to control their libidos.

Mateo is concerned, Officer Mike is concerned and now there are dead bodies piling up. Not all are associated with the drink, but there is history with the woman that runs the online group and people keep dying.

That might be a bit misleading, the storyline is a tad interwoven and at the end, you really have to pay attention as to how the different characters are tied together and who is on the killers list and why.

I adore every character in the Coffeehouse mystery books. Cleo Coyle has a way of bringing out their personalities and quirks allowing the reader to differentiate between them.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Painted Bridge


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: The Painted Bridge
Author: Wendy Wallace
Publisher: Scribner (July 17, 2012)
Format: Hardcover and eBook, Pgs 304
Genre: Fiction



Overview:

An elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut, The Painted Bridge is a story of family betrayals, illicit power, and a woman sent to an asylum against her will in Victorian England.

Just outside London, behind a high stone wall, lies Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient. To Anna’s dismay, her new husband has declared her in need of treatment and brought her to this shabby asylum.

Confused and angry, Anna sets out to prove her sanity, but with her husband and doctors unwilling to listen, her freedom will not be won easily. As the weeks pass, she finds other allies: a visiting physician who believes the new medium of photography may reveal the state of a patient’s mind; a longtime patient named Talitha Batt who seems, to Anna’s surprise, to be as sane as she is; and the proprietor’s bookish daughter, who also yearns to escape.

Yet the longer Anna remains at Lake House, the more she realizes that—like the ethereal bridge over the asylum’s lake—nothing and no one is quite as it appears. Not her fellow patients, her husband, her family—not even herself.

Locked alone in her room, driven by the cruel treatments of the time into the recesses of her own mind, she may discover the answers and the freedom she seeks…or how thin the line between madness and sanity truly is.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph - Azalea Assault


Title: Azalea Assault
Author: Alyse Carlson
Publisher: Berkley (June 5, 2012)
Format: Paperback, Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Garden Society #1



Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea




Chapter 1

“Incoming!”

Cam Harris pushed off her kitchen floor, propelling the wheeled kitchen chair she was sitting in to the sliding panel that hid the dumbwaiter. She opened it a hair and yelled to the kitchen upstairs, “Ready!” and shut it again, knocking off the “Over the hill “magnet her sister had recently given her. She heard her neighbor and best friend Annie Schulz, lowering her treasure, which was how Annie referred to anything she lowered via dumbwaiter, then tramping down the back stairs to Cam’s Apartment.

The turn-of-the-century house, gifted to Annie when her grandmother had moved to a retirement home, was split into two apartments, upper and lower. The living arrangement was a perfect compromise for the yin-yang best friends. The two had tried to live together before, but Annie’s free-form approach to order drove Cam crazy; she’d grown tired of photos drying over the bathtub and finding every bowl in the house dirty because Annie had a wild hair and tried out four new cupcake recipes at once. In the current living situation, they got all the bonding time they wanted, but with absolute boundaries about whose space was whose.


Overview

Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’ job to promote them. But when an out of towner turns up dead, she discovers there’s no good way to spin murder…

Camellia Harris has achieved a coup in the PR world. The premier national magazine for garden lovers has agreed to feature one of Roanoke’s most spectacular gardens in its pages—and world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges is going to shoot the spread. But at the welcoming party, Jean-Jacques insults several guests, complains that flowers are boring, and gooses almost every woman in the room. When a body is found the next morning, sprawled across the azaleas, it’s almost no surprise that the victim is Jean-Jacques.

With Cam’s brother-in-law blamed for the crime—and her reporter boyfriend, Rob, wanting the scoop—Cam decides to use her skills to solve the murder. Luckily a PR pro like Cam knows how to be nosy…

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Abdication and Objects of my Affection



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: Abdication
Author: Juliet Nicolson
Publisher: Atria Books (May 22, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 344
Genre: Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Overview

England, 1936.

The year began with the death of a beloved king and the ascension of a charismatic young monarch, sympathetic to the needs of the working class, glamorous and single. By year’s end, the world would be stunned as it witnessed that new leader give up his throne in the name of love, just as the unrest and violence that would result in a Second World War were becoming impossible to ignore.

During the tumultuous intervening months, amidst the whirl of social and political upheaval, wise-beyond-her-nineteen-years May Thomas will take the first, faltering steps toward creating a new life for herself. Just disembarked at Liverpool after a long journey from her home on a struggling sugar plantation in Barbados, she secures a position as secretary and driver to Sir Philip Blunt, a job that will open her eyes to the activities of the uppermost echelons of British society, and her heart to a man seemingly beyond her reach.

Outwardly affable spinster Evangeline Nettlefold is a girlhood friend to the American socialite Wallis Simpson, a goddaughter to Lady Joan Blunt and a new arrival to London from Baltimore. She will be generously welcomed into society’s most glittering circles, where one’s daily worth is determined by one’s proximity to a certain H.R.H. and his married mistress. But as the resentment she feels toward Wallis grows in magnitude, so too does the likelihood of disastrous consequences.





Title: Objects of my Affection
Author: Jill Smolinski
Publisher: Touchstone (May 1, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 307
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Source: Simon and Schuster


Overview

Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. Although she’s lost it all, she’s determined to start over. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Armed with the organizing expertise she gained while writing her book, Things Are Not People, and fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them.

While trying to stay on course toward a strict deadline—and with an ex-boyfriend back in the picture, a new romance on the scene, and her son’s rehab not going as planned—Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go—but it’s not always easy to know the difference.