Friday, November 30, 2012

Review - Junkyard Dogs

Title: Junkyard Dogs
Author: Craig Johnson
Publisher: Viking Adult (May 27, 2010)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library
Series:Walt Longmire #6

I wish that someone could explain why Craig Johnson would sell the name, to a wonderful book series, to a group of writers and producers that have apparently never read the books. If you are expecting to find the very lacking “Longmire Series” within these pages you will be disappointed.

The books are outstanding, the characterizations human, the humor is so dry and sudden that you wonder how you are laughing at serious situation, yet knowing all along that anyone who swears that the TV serialization of Longmire is the best show on television, does not get half of what Walt is about.

You just know it is not going to be a good day when you get calls that an old car is dragging an old man into town by a rope. Nope, not a good day, but for Walt Longmire it is not as bizarre as it sounds. Neither is the severed thumb that turns up in the local junkyard.

As far as I can tell, it all boils down to the thumb and Walt’s need to keep Santiago on the job. If it had not been for this tiny little thing, Walt would not have dug his feet into the on goings at the junkyard, he would not have been treated as a chew toy by a jealous psycho dog. Santiago would not be having second and third thoughts about leaving Durant and Walt would have had enough time to spend with Victoria in her obsessive house hunt.

Now of course there was the whole thing about the housing development that borders the junkyard, but with all the characters and plotlines and sub-plotlines and sub-sub-plotlines, I just held on and hoped that in some way it would all come together without Walt’s elementary school teacher being caught up in anymore embarrassing situations.

If you are looking for a hardboiled murder mystery, this is not going to fill that need. If you are looking for a series with interesting people in an interesting place, then you have found a gem. This particular book is a little twisty, but the humor and dialog will keep you glued to the pages. Do yourself a favor, start at the beginning, learn the people and the places and realize that it is not a bad thing to laugh at other peoples misfortunes. I know that sounds bad, but Walt Longmire has a way of turning the negative into a very humorous situation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Holiday Buzz


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: Holiday Buzz
Author: Cleo Coyle
Publisher: Berkley (December 4, 2012)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 384
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Coffeehouse Mysteries #12



Overview:

At the Great New York Cookie Swap, pastry chefs bake up their very best for charity. Clare is in charge of the beverage service, and her famous Fa-la-la-la Lattes make the gathering even merrier. But her high spirits come crashing down to earth when she discovers the battered body of a hard-working baker's assistant. Police suspect a serial attacker whose escalating crimes have become known as "The Christmas Stalkings." Clare's boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, finds reason to believe even more sinister forces are involved. Clare isn't so sure, until she finds a second bludgeoned baker and becomes a target herself. Now Clare must investigate "Saint Nick," crash a pro-hockey party, and dodge a pair of reality TV divas--because she's not going to rest until justice is served.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mailbox Monday - Fairy Bad Day




Title: Fairy Bad Day
Author: Amanda Ashby
Publisher: Speak (June 9, 2011)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 352
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Paperbackswap.com

Overview

While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot. Then she sees a giant killer fairy and it's invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she's going to need help. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it's going to be a fairy bad day?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review - Little Elephants

Title: Little Elephants
Author and Illustrator: Graeme Base
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (September 1, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 40
Genre: Children’s
Source: Library
Ages: 4and up

Children’s books have come a long way since I was growing up. The illustrations are an absolute work of art and I am getting to the point that I spend more time looking at the drawing than focusing on the words that accompany them.

Poor Jim, he loves his pet mouse Pipsqueak, but when there is plague to worry about and his mother is convinced that where there is one mouse to be found, others will be attracted, the mouse has to go. Times are tough and if they lose this year’s wheat harvest the farm would be finished.

One day Jim spies a stranger in the field, he offers the man some wheat and asks if he could stay and help bring in the harvest. No, he said, but he was sure that the wind would bring good fortune.

Later that night, Jim heard scuffling sounds. Pipsqueak had retuned, but he was not alone. No, the sounds were not other mice. Something much more interesting was waiting for him under his bed.

It is hard to hide a herd from your mothers, but right now, there are bigger things to worry about, a swarm of locust is heading toward the farm and they would destroy the crop.

With the sound of a faraway trumpet, the herd appeared and an amazing thing was about to happen on a little farm with only a mother and her little boy to witness.

This book brought tears to my eyes. The simplicity of the story intermingled with the hopes and promises of a child are wonderfully displayed in this amazing book.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review - Mossy

Title: Mossy
Author and Illustrator: Jan Brett
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (September 18, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children's
Source: Library
Ages: 3 and Up

First, with the name Jan Brett you know that you will not be disappointed with the illustrations. What she is able to put on the page is just phenomenal.

Second, the storyline is always tender with a lovely moral to be shared. One cannot go wrong with any of her books.

Mossy, a young Eastern Box turtle loves the damp coolness of Lilypad pond and spends so much time there that little pieces of moss begin to grow on her back. As the season changes, the moss and other seeds begin to grow and Mossy is able to look into the water and see the beautiful garden that is growing on her back.

One day, as she is looking into the water a pair of beautiful red eyes looks back at her. Scoot, a young male turtle, has never been as fascinated with another turtle as he is with Mossy.

Young love must have its challenges and when a botanist discovers Mossy, she is whisked away to be the center attraction at a local museum. The two young turtles long for each other and it takes the loving heart of a young child to see what Mossy is missing.

The illustrations are what will keep you coming back to this book. Around each of the pages is a border that a young child and reader can point to and discuss. Butterflies and mushroom and seashells, plus so much more to keep each entertain throughout several reading of this wonderful book.

I highly recommend both this and any book that has been written and illustrated by Jan Brett.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review - The Sandman

Title: The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie
Author and Illustrator: William Joyce
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (October 2, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 48
Genre: Young Reader
Source: Library
Ages: 7 and up
Series: Guardians of Childhood

A Wish Always Begins with a Dream

After reading The Sandman, I had wished that I had started with the first book in the Guardians of Childhood series – The Man in the Moon. This book is for advancing readers, not suggested for 3 and 4 year olds like so many of the children’s books currently on the market.

Combining myth, fantasy and folklore, William Joyce tells a tale of how the Man in the Moon needs help on the evenings where his visibility is low. He needs a guardian to help keep children safe from bad dreams. Spying a gentle dreamer, a man that guided shooting stars during the Golden Age, the Man in the Moon enlists a sweet little man named Sanderson Mansnoozie in fighting off Pitch, the Nightmare King.

Not your typical children’s book. This tale is a bit deeper and darker and will appeal to your curious seven or eight year olds, who think that they are too big for baby books, but will be transported to Sandy’s island of Dreamsand and will watch the battle between good and evil unfold.

I cannot tell you if I enjoyed the illustrations or the narrative more. I am sure that I would be offending Mr. Joyce by saying that I was reminded of Harry Potter when I read this book, but I do have to admit that Sanderson looks a bit like a mandrake and Pitch sure has something in common with Voldemort’s gang. I might be digressing.

Do not like let my strange association distract you from this book. It is a true gift to be cherished, one that your “I’m too old for baby books”, readers will enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Life Among Giants


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: Life Among Giants
Author: Bill Roorbach
Publisher: Algonquin Books (November 13, 2012)
Format: Hardback; Pgs 352
Genre: Murder, Seduction and Revenge (do not know if that actually falls under one category


Overview:

David “Lizard” Hochmeyer lives across the pond from The High Side, a mansion the size of an embassy, home to the world famous ballerina Sylphide and her even more famous husband, the English rocker Dabney Stryker-Stewart.

When Lizard’s parents are mysteriously killed, he and his brilliant but unstable sister, Kate, are left adrift and full of questions. Lizard’s path to answers is more than circuitous; it’s a journey laden with pro football stars, a master chef tattooed head to toe, and a beautiful transvestite. It’s a path that leads back, again and again, to the fabulous couple on the other side of the pond, particularly the beautiful Sylphide.

We follow young Lizard through the years as he attempts to make sense of his. And what a varied and giant life it is: from football star at Princeton to Miami Dolphins quaterback, from confidant of the alluring Sylphide to owner and chef of a high-end restaurant, and all the while haunted by his parents' murders and determined to wreak his revenge--if only he can find the killers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph -The Casual Vacancy

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday
Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: JK Rowlings
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 27, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 512
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library



Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea




Chapter 1

"Barry Fairbrother did not want to go out to dinner. He had endured a thumping headache for most of the weekend and was struggling to make a deadline for the local newspaper.

However, his wife had been a little stiff and uncommunicative over lunch, and Barry deduced that his anniversary card had not mitigated the crime of shutting himself away in the study all morning. It did not help that he had been writing about Krystal, whom Mary disliked, although she pretended otherwise.

"Mary, I want to take you out to dinner," he had lied, to break the frost. "Nineteen years, kids! Nineteen years, and your mother's never looked lovelier."

Mary had softened and smiled, so Barry had telephoned the golf club, because it was nearby and they were sure of getting a table. He tried to give his wife pleasure in little ways, because he had come to realize, after nearly two decades together, how often he disappointed her in the big things. It was never intentional. They simply had very different notions of what ought to take up most space in life."


Overview

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mailbox Monday - The Baker Street Letters



Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month


Title: The Baker Street Letters
Author: Michael Robertson
Publisher: Minotaur Books (February 1, 2011)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 288
Genre: Mysterybr /> Source: Paperbackswap.com
Series: Baker Street Letters #1


Overview

First in a new series about two brother lawyers who lease offices on London's Baker Street--and begin receiving mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes.

In Los Angeles, a geological surveyor maps out a proposed subway route—and then goes missing. His eight-year-old daughter in her desperation turns to the one person she thinks might help—she writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes.

That letter creates an uproar at 221b Baker Street, which now houses the law offices of attorney and man about town Reggie Heath and his hapless brother Nigel. Instead of filing the letter like he’s supposed to, Nigel decides to investigate. Soon he’s flying off to L.A., inconsiderately leaving a very dead body on the floor in his office. Big brother Reggie follows Nigel to California, as does Reggie’s sometime lover, Laura – a quick-witted stage actress who’s captured the hearts of both brothers.

When Nigel is arrested, Reggie must use all his wits to solve a case that Sherlock Holmes would have savored, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans will adore.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review - Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil

Title: Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil
Author: Nancy Atherton
Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 2001)
Format: Hardcopy; Pgs 256
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Aunt Dimity #6

When this book came up in a reading group, I was sure that I had read it, I love this series so when I went looking for my review, I could not find it anywhere. I was beginning to wonder if I had unwittingly skipped it.

As soon as I finished the first chapter I knew the story, well, I thought I did. The beginning was familiar, the middle was a mystery, but the ending relit the dim bulb that I am now calling my mind and I am glad that I had reread it to remind myself how far Lori has come.

Lori will always be attracted to men other than her husband, that does not mean that she would have disavowed her marriage, but what is a woman to do when there are attractive men coming to her aid and young (and old) love is in the air.

Lori has been called in to evaluate a rare book collection at Wyrdhurst Hall located in the middle of nowhere Northumberland. Knowing Lori’s sense of direction and driving ability is sketchy at best; the reader is not surprised to find Lori leaping out of her yellow Hummer just as it is being washed away in a torrent of water. What does surprise is that as Lori stumbles to safety and passes out just as she find a cabin, we next find her waking up naked in a strange man’s bed.

Being a Nancy Atherton book, we know that whatever Lori has gotten herself into is somewhat chaste. Lori does have a tendency to find perfect gentlemen that would never take advantage of the situation, but does not mean that she will not have some explaining to do.

Newlyweds Nicole and Jared Hollander own Wyrdhurst Hall, a hall that is bound by mystery and ghosts. What at first blush appears as unsettled spirits looking for a little excitement is actually much deeper, and much more dangerous. Lori find letters dating back to World War I that spell out a doomed love affair. An affair that was manipulated by a mentally deranged man that would have done anything to keep an unworthy suitor from his daughter.

As the story plays out, with the help of Aunt Dimity, Lori finds the secrets and in a netherworld conclusion, doomed lovers are reunited and a family haunted by its tragic past can now rejoice in a new and growing love.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review - Discretion

Title: Discretion
Author: Alison Leotta
Publisher: Touchstone (July 3, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 336
Genre: I think she was aiming for Thriller
Source: Library


I do not know where to begin, this book should have been an out of the park homerun. There is political maneuvering, a police investigation, an escort service running the highest priced call girls in Washington D.C., and a maniacal killer on the loose. From the description alone, this should have been a winner.

Herein lies the problem. The book is lackluster. Just when Allison Leotta sparks some intrigue, she changes direction from the investigation to the main character’s love life. Personally, I have an extreme dislike for that, either write a thriller or write a romance, but the ability to blend the two seamlessly is out of reach for some writers and in my opinion is what ruined this book.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis is trying to build a career of her own while at the same time trying to keep a romance going with Jack Bailey, the chief homicide prosecutor. She does not want anyone to know that they are together; she wants to build her career on her own merits and not by her association with the potential next U.S. Attorney. Anna is in a constant struggle trying not to losing her identity and everything that she has worked so hard to achieve. How can she find balance and maintain a career that she loves?

This time they are in deeper than either can handle when the body of a beautiful young escort falls from the private balcony of a well known and much loved Congressman whom is in a dogfight to hold onto his political seat. If only the story could be that cut and dried, but no, the reader is brought into the seedier side of life of the rich, famous, and political.

I picked up this book after reading Ms Leotta being touted as a female John Grisham. Trust me; Mr. Grisham has nothing to worry about. For me, the story was very superficial; I do not feel that I have come away from this book knowing anyone of the characters. I know that the ending was designed to be a shocker, but that too was flat and predictable.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - My Ideal Bookshelf


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: My Ideal Bookshelf
Author: Thessaly La Force and Jane Mount
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 13, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 240
Genre: Non-Fiction

Overview:

The books that we choose to keep --let alone read-- can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others. With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect gift for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book.