Monday, December 30, 2013

The Boxcar Children - Graphic Novel

Title: The Boxcar Children Graphic Novel #1
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Illustrator: Mike Dubisch
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (July 26, 2011)
Format: 32 pg; ebook
Genre: Graphic Novel
Ages: Pre-Teen

When it comes to graphic novels, I have always been confused. Are they novels or are they comic books? Asking around, the only consensus that I can find is that they are pretty much comic books but produced on higher quality paper and bound like a book. That was not very helpful, so I decided to take the plunge and check it out.

When it comes to content, opinions vary. You either love them or do not understand the attraction. For me, I fall into the latter category. I just do not get the appeal.

The Boxcar children was originally published in 1924 and is a well know story centered around four children who create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest before they go to live with their grandfather they mistakenly thought to be a cruel man. I figured, why not start with an easy story to see if the whole “graphic” thing would help or hinder the storyline.

Personally, I think too much was left out. Relatively speaking, there were not many words and the reader was left to fill in the blanks with the illustrations.

Maybe that was the point and I am just too old to get it.

Truly, I do not mean to be insulting or dense, but I just did not get it. Obviously, others have had much better outcomes with this genre and I applaud their respect for the novels, but they are wasted on me.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review - The Wives of Los Alamos

Title: The Wives of Los Alamos
Author: TaraShea Nesbit
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 25, 2014
Format: ARC Softcover: Pgs 233
Genre: Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine Program


This is another one of those love it or hate it type of books. I will give TaraShea Nesbit some credit, there is a good baseline story in there, but the delivery is lacking and a bit annoying. I wanted to get to know the women, what I got was more generic.

Told from a singular point of view, but delivered in a collective “we” “they” style, the reader has a hard time connecting.

Pulled from their comfortable lives, a group of women follow their scientist / physicist husbands to the desert of New Mexico during World War II to work on a secret project. Promised that they would have all of the same luxuries that they now have, they are soon disappointed in the sparseness of their new existence.

Insufferable weather, homes that barely support their needs, censored mail, limited contact with the outside world and other family members, husbands that cannot discuss what they do all day. Soon the women turn into gossipy annoyances. They once had beautiful clothes and a life in places like Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris and Chicago. Some were even scientists in their own right, but being separated changes them all.

Yes, they managed to carve out a life, but at what cost? They changed, the world changed, even their children had to grow up knowing what they had been a part of.

I wish there had been more, or less, or different. Something that would have helped me to connect with the women of this project. As I said, the premise is there, the delivery did not work for me.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Review - The Smallest Gift of Christmas

Title: The Smallest Gift of Christmas
Author: Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Candlewick (September 24, 2013)
Format: Board Book; Pgs 40
Genre: Children
Ages:3 to 7 years; Preschool to 2nd Grade


Selfish Roland is very disappointed that his Christmas present is so small. He hoped and wished for a larger gift and when he received that, he wanted something bigger and bigger. There was just no satisfying this child. That is until he realizes what is important and suddenly appreciates that the best gifts come in small packages.

This Christmas story might help young ones see that it is not about the size of the gift, but about home and family.

After the first reading, and you know a child wants the same story over and over, cover up the words and let your young one tell you the story they see. The simple illustrations, and I am not disparaging – some books are way over the top, are great springboards for a child’s imagination.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Review - Dead Reckoning

Title: Dead Reckoning
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Hardcover (May 3, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 336
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #11

Maybe it is because there are only a couple more books in the series, but as I am closing in on the end, I find myself enjoying the books more and more.

Beginning with the firebombing of Merlotte’s to the bloody end of a high-ranking vampire, Sookie is once again in way over her head. The fey are still around causing trouble, Sandra Pelt has a score to settle, Sookie has ended her blood bond, Bubba is performing one last concert and Eric is betrothed to another. There was a lot packed into this book.

One week could never have gone so wrong for Sookie, but if she makes it through, she still has Tara’s baby shower to host.

I can understand how others say that the series has lost its spark and is a bit formulaic, but I had given up on new and stimulating a long time ago. Now, I read the Sookie Stackhouse series solely for the humor. Charlaine Harris is a very comical writer. The wit and offhanded remarks are at times inappropriately funny and yet you find yourself chuckling while a head is literally rolling across the floor.

Since I still have a couple of books to go, I have no idea what Sookie will be up to next, but I do hope that Ms Harris will keep me laughing to the end.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review - Lucky Bang


Title: Lucky Bang
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (June 28, 2012)
Format: e-Book; Pgs 94; 204 KB
Genre: Mystery
Source: Amazon Purchase
Series: Lucky O'Toole Las Vegas Adventures #3.5

I am not a fan of the half books that author seem to be putting out in a way to keep their fans hooked without really moving a story line along. I tend to just skip them and wait until a full-length novel is published. With that being said, I could not avoid this book. I love the Lucky O’Toole series.

You have mystery, you have naughty, you have interesting reoccurring characters and you have Ms. Lucky O’Toole the head of customer relations at Babylon, a major hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Right there, that should tell you that her 18-hour days are not what you would call normal. She works for the big boss which is also her father. Her mother is a madam who just also happens to be pregnant again with the big boss’s child. Lucky’s ex-boyfriend is a straight female impersonator that is currently on a world tour and her current boyfriend is a chef at the Burger Palais.

I know, it sounds strange, but if you have been following Lucky’s life from the very first book, this is not strange at all.

In this very short, 94’ish page novella, Lucky is chasing after old dynamite that just might be leading her to her father’s old flame and a possible long lost brother. Of course, life is not that easy especially when her father goes missing and half of Vegas is attempting to fill Lucky in on the past.

Trying to put the pieces together before all heck breaks loose keeps Lucky on her toes and away from the radio, which is playing a love song just for her.

I really enjoy this series and always look forward to the next Lucky adventure.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review - I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections


Title: I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections
Author: Nora Ephron
Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (November 9, 2010)
Genre: Vicissitudes of Modern Life

I loved the audio version of this book. I loved driving to work each day and listening to Nora read to me a short snippet of what had happened in her life.

Though Nora may not remember names, faces or movie titles, she did remember the important things. Her love of and struggle with her passion for journalism, her trials of being a meatloaf, her successes and failures within the movie industry, but most importantly, what she will miss and what she will not.

What is most heartbreaking is that it is possible that she wrote her list of things that she will miss while undergoing treatment for the leukemia that eventually took her life. That should serve as a reminder to the rest of us, who have achieved a certain age, to treasure the things that we love even if others find it strange.

I will miss her humor and insight. I will miss her on target observations and I will always smile when reminded that I am not in my “senior” years, but I am only in my “google” years. That will help to cushion the blow when I myself cannot remember things that I swear I knew yesterday.

Thank you Nora and I will miss you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Review - Doctor Sleep


Title: Doctor Sleep
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner (September 24, 2013)
Format: Kindle 4216 KB; Hardcover Pgs 544
Genre: Thriller
Source: Purchase
Series: The Shinning #2

Reading the disclaimer, “This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously” – well I certainly hope so. It is bad enough that I will be looking at every person in an RV through a cautious sideways glance, but I am relived to know that the True Knot is only some jacked-up craziness in Stephen King’s mind. Really – this is an awesome book.

I was a bit apprehensive when I had not read The Shinning and had relied on my previous viewing of the movie. Mr. King states quite emphatically that Doctor Sleep is a sequel to the book and not the movie.

Ok, so diving in is what I did. At first, I was a bit confused with the chapters and parts, but that soon calmed down and the flow was right where it should have been. The book grabs you from the beginning and I swear it if was not for the fact that I am a big baby, I would have read well into the night.

The numerous reviews out there have already picked about the plotlines and I will leave it to them. Except for a couple of the True Knot devotee’s that seem to come and go as needed, every character has an integral part of the story. Personally, I hate it when authors just throw characters around in the first chapter and the reader is stuck trying to sort everyone out. You will also be walking through the AA meetings that made up a big part of Stephen King’s life, but that is okay. It is what both the author and the main character needed to do to get to the good stuff.

This book is intense, there is humor in unexpected places and I just wanted to lean back and absorb the story that was being told. Not in a “steam” sort of way, but in a “can my phone just stop ringing for five minutes” so I can get through this part.

Grab this book and a quiet room and just be mesmerized by what Dan Torrance has been up to.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review - The Best American Mystery Stories 2013

Title: The Best American Mystery Stories 2013
Author: Lisa Scottoline, Otto Penzler (Editors)
Publisher: Mariner Books (October 8, 2013)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 448
Genre: Mystery Short Stories
Source: Amazon Vine

This is my first foray into a book specifically of short stories. I have wandered across a few here and there but never gave them much thought. What I found in these pages really surprised me. For the most part, they are well thought out and plotted without the usual tangents that some authors tend to wander into while trying to run up word counts so they can call it a novel.

The stories run about 15 to 20 pages, which makes it a perfect lunchtime read. Each day I would grab my lunch and book and would find myself absorb, start to finish, in a plotline that by the end had me filling in a couple of my own blanks – wondering aloud, did the author mean this or that. Did my presumed antagonist really do that? I loved the fact that not all questions were answered. That the authors drew nice black and white lines and it was up to the readers to filling in their own colors.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review - Christmas Crumble

Title: Christmas Crumble
Author: M. C. Beaton
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (August 28, 2012)
Format: Print Length 36 pages; Kindle eBook 156KB
Genre: Holiday Mystery
Source: Amazon Purchase
Series: Agatha Raisin #23.5

Not having any real plans of her own, Agatha decides that having a Christmas party at home in the Cotswold’s is just what she needs. Apparently, she has forgotten the fiasco of the last holiday party and Mrs. Bloxby is convinced that Agatha is trying to chase a romantic dream of Christmas, but this is something that Agatha wants to do for the old crumblies in town.

Apparently, one of the invited guests is feeling a big frisky and when he makes an inappropriate move toward Agatha, the Christmas pudding is brought down on his head. That was too much for the Viagra junkie to handle and soon his heart give out and there he is, dead on the floor with a slimly pudding on his face.

As the rest of the pensioners stare in disbelieve they all agree that the death could not be Agatha’s fault, that is all but one, Freda Pinch. Freda decides that she is going to sue Agatha. With Freda now being an outcast of the group, one of the members of the holiday party takes the matter into his own hands and decides to rectify the situation in a way that Agatha cannot abide.

This was a nice little short story to begin the holiday season. Not too over the top, just enough Agatha and her friends to keep you in touch with the on goings in the village of Carsley.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review - The End of the Road

Title: The End of the Road
Author: Sue Henry
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (November 3, 2009)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 244
Genre: Travel Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Maxie and Stretch Myster #4

You know an author is desperate to run up their word count when they rely on naming all the shops on Main Street, mileage destination on a local pole, items in a closet or even the name on whiskey bottles. That should have been my warning to close the book and move on, but no, this is the last book in the series and since I began with number one, I was determined to see it through to its end.

Instead of packing up her RV and heading south for the winter, Maxine McNabb and her faithful dog Stretch have decided to stay home in Homer, Alaska for the winter. The weather can be harsh, but feeling a bit homesick, this is where she wants to be.

After meeting John Walker on her visit to the spit, she invites him to her home the next day to have dinner with friends. All is well until she is called as a contact since John has been found dead by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

John Walker is not his real name and there are very few clues as to his real identity. Of course, that has Maxie on full alert and she is determined to help solve this mystery. It does not end there, you will now have to add in a murder, a stalker and a weird twisted end that seems to have been rushed and not well rounded.

Usually, when a series ends, I somewhat mourn the characters, but unfortunately, that is not going to be the case with Maxie and Stretch. The books were always more along the lines of travelogues than murder mysteries. That might work for some, but I like a bit more meat in my who-done-its and this series just never fit the full bill.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review - Hiss and Hers

Title: Hiss and Hers
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 18, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Agatha Raisin #23

If only the Agatha Raisin books did not run so hot and cold with me.

For the most part, I enjoy the series, I like the recurring characters and Agatha’s annoying temperament, but sometimes the storylines just are not as fulfilling as I would like.

Once again, there is a new man in the neighborhood, George Marston is the area gardener and fix-it man. Determined to catch his eye Agatha agrees to arrange a charity ball in hopes of dancing with this man. When he does not appear, Agatha is crushed. That is until she discovered his dead body in a compost heap and the cause of death is the bite of an asp.

As Agatha begins her investigation, she realizes that she was very wrong about this man and that an asp bite just might be vengeance for the old snake himself.

The list is long on who might have wanted this man dead, but with Agatha’s investigations, she has managed to put herself in the path of a psychopath.

Now Agatha is determined to keep herself and her investigators safe all the while hiding listening devices and running all over the Cotswold’s in hopes of staying one-step ahead of the real killer.

Agatha has a way of making her life more complicated than necessary and that is what I like best about her. She has good intentions, but somehow always seems to mess things up. I do cheer her on and hope that one day she will get it right.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review - Drop Dead Beauty


Title: Drop Dead Beauty
Author: Wendy Roberts
Publisher: InterMix (May 21, 2013)
Format: Print Length 220 Pgs; Kindle 569 KB
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Source: Amazon Purchase
Series: Ghost Duster Mystery #5

If anyone saw that ending coming, I commend you. That one hit me out of nowhere and I thought I was good at picking up clues.

Sadie Novak is a crime scene cleaner, which mean when an unattended death occurs and biohazard material is left after the body is removed, Sadie is the person that you call for a clean up. A very messy job, but yet one that has to be done. Since the suicide of her brother, Sadie has found this work cathartic in a way. It is her way of helping family members deal with trauma.

An unexpected side to this work is her ability to see the spirits of the dead. That is those that died at the hands of others and not suicides. For some reason, those souls do not appear to her.

In the past, Sadie has helped Detective Dean Petrovich solve homicides in the Seattle area, but this time there is a change. Dean has been accused of killing his ex-wife and needs Sadie’s help in finding the real killer. This is proving to be a problem since a situation has arisen in Sadie’s life that is preventing her from communicating with the dead without feeling the full extent of how the murder took place.

Wanting to help, but without putting her own life in peril, Sadie and her best friend head out to find a potion of sorts that will take the deadly effects away and yet still allow Sadie to communicate. If only there was a similar potion that could help Sadie in her personal life.

Poor Sadie, with her life in a muddled mess, she must deal with spirits that want to communicate, an annoying detective that needs his own answers, spa owners that want her dead, a potion bag that smell like excrement and two men that need to find out where they now fit in Sadie’s life.

As I said, the ending surprised me. I loved how Wendy Roberts included just enough without foretelling the ending, making me want to go back and reread the book wondering what I had missed. Much like the movie The Sixth Sense showed what you had missed, I wished that there were a final chapter that showed me the errors in my thinking.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review - The Rosie Project

Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 2013)
Format: Softcover; Pgs 305
Genre: Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine


It all boils down to Occam’s Razor. The simplest answer is usually correct.

Don Tillman is wired differently, completely oblivious to social cues and tact. He is a geneticist at a distinguished university in Melbourne and he decided that it is time to find a wife. Thus, the Wife Project. Set in his ways, Professor Tillman does not set out in a usual manner. He has devised a questionnaire. Important qualifications include items like mathematical acuity, the ability to distinguish ice cream flavors, punctuality, non-smoker, non-drinker, a proper body mass index, etc. Obviously, not a standard dating profile. Then again, Don is not your average person.

After 250 or so responses, with no candidates, Don asks his best friend Gene, a world-class lothario, for help with the project. One day Rosie knocks on his door. Don is a bit taken aback since she fits no set perimeters. Maybe Gene knows more since he has a project of his own – involving bedding one woman from every country. To Don’s lack of experience, that makes Gene more aware of women.

Turns out Rosie has a project of her own. The Dad Project. Rosie is convinced that her dad is not really her biological father and Don, being a geneticist, just might be able to help her.

Of course, that does not come out right away and as Don is trying to figure out how Gene would find Rosie to be “wife material”, Rosie is becoming more obsessed with finding dear old dad and Don is becoming infatuated - since falling in love and empathy is not on his Autism Spectrum capability wheel.

Thus begins their humorous odyssey of tracking down and DNA testing the possible men that could be Rosie’s father. Don trying desperately to figure out a complicated world that involves emotions and love. Gene and his wife Claudia trying to find a common ground and the Dean of the University coming to the end of her rope.

You will laugh, especially at the part involving the skeleton from the anatomy department; you will become frustrated, and you will begin comparing people that you have met with Don. I do not know if you will become more empathetic to Don’s plight or not, but you just might see the world involving a Standardized Meal System and to the minute scheduling a bit differently. Much like Don has to see his world differently.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Doctor Sleep

Title: Doctor Sleep
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner (September 24, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 544
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Series: Sequel to the Shinning



Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea






Chapter 1

On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground. The Overlook was declared a total loss. After an investigation, the fire marshal of Jicarilla County ruled the cause had been a defective boiler. The hotel was closed for the winter when the accident occurred, and only four people were present. Three survived. The hotel’s off-season caretaker, John Torrance, was killed during an unsuccessful (and heroic) effort to dump the boiler’s steam pressure, which had mounted to disastrously high levels due to an inoperative relief valve.

Two of the survivors were the caretaker’s wife and young son. The third was the Overlook’s chef, Richard Hallorann, who had left his seasonal job in Florida and come to check on the Torrances because of what he called “a powerful hunch” that the family was in trouble. Both surviving adults were quite badly injured in the explosion. Only the child was unhurt.

Physically, at least.


Overview

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil,

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review - Practice to Deceive


Title: Practice to Deceive
Author: Ann Rule
Publisher: Gallery Books (October 8, 2013))
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 352
Genre: True Crime

When I first started reading this book, I was confused. I thought I had picked up a large print book by accident. No, it was just a publisher trying to stretch a two hundred manuscript into a full-length book.

Repeated information, repeated descriptions, repeated conversations and truly unnecessary information are what fill this book. Why would the murder of a first spouse that happened prior to the birth of the later convicted accessory to a murder matter? No facts were shown, or even hinted at, that would make this a contributing factor. Just another way for Ms Rule to run up the page count.

On Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound of Washington state, Russel (yes, that is how his name is spelled) Douglas is found with a single bullet hole to his head. Though he and his wife are having apparent marital issues, the authorities cannot put his wife there. Ten years later the case comes to trial with a rather twisted reason for the murder. Two people that have had little to no contact with the victim decide that he must die based solely on possible hearsay.

A “she said, she said” scenario with a conniving dominating woman, a beguiled man and a wife that swears she knows nothing about it yet is the only one to benefit.

Ms Rule lays no foundation and very little fact in her book. There are very few true interviews of substance and from my perspective, only half a job was done. I remember her earlier books that came across to me as well researched and questions answered before the book was published.

To me the oddest part, which is sad because it is the only thing that stands out, there is a photo in the book of Ann Rule with the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff that looks like her head and face were photo-shopped in.

Skip this book, reader her earlier works.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Review - Yoga for Strength & Flexibility




Title: Yoga for Strength and Flexibility
Instructor: Ashley Turner
Production: Element - The Mind and Body Company
Format: DVD 76 minutes (September 24, 2013)
Genre: Exercise
Source: Amazon Vine

I think it will be a life goal to be as flexible as Ashley Turner is. What she makes look easy is still a work in progress for me. Thanks to this video, I am getting there, but that nose to knee thing is still a challenge.

I have never tried yoga before, but when I saw this video offered sections on both strength and flexibility, I figured why not. My aging body is starting to protest and just stretching and moving seems to help grease the sticky parts.

Having read prior reviews I was concerned, was I supposed to know more about yoga going in or was, as I was hoping, this a good jumping off point.

In the beginning of the video, Ashley explains how you can do the two sections either together or separately, well, I voted for separately. I wanted flexibility. So here we go.

What I love is that she emphasizes the need to listen to your body by listening to your breath, work at your own pace and take breaks when you need to. This was a great “permission” so I did not feel overwhelmed and intimidated. Three or four times per week for optimal health – I could do that.

You are easily walked through each movement, by using both the “official” yoga terminology and the easier to understand descriptions.

After the first session, I was not sure that I had gotten anything out of it. That was until I tried to get out of bed the next morning. I was sore from shoulders to ankles. I had received more of a workout then I had thought.

I have only been using this video for a couple of weeks, and am a long way from moving like her, but I can definitely feel the difference that this video is making.

After the exercises, the guided meditation section is a nice way of ending the session.

If you are an advanced yoga aficionado this might be too basic for you, but for us beginners, it was perfect.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review - A Step of Faith


Title: A Step of Faith
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 7, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 304
Genre: Fiction
Series: The Walk #4

What started as a sappy walk across the United States by a man recovering from the sudden tragic death of his wife has turned into a journey of discovery and fulfillment.

At the end of the last book, The Road to Grace, Alan received a challenging diagnosis. However that was to turn out, he would take it in stride and that is exactly what he did. A slight blip on his journey. What he did not expect was how the two women in his life would come to his aid and in his innocent clueless style; he would have to make a choice. He just needed time to realize the importance of what was being offered.

As Alan is slightly more than midway through his journey, he has run into memorable characters and this time out he had quite a scare. There are strangers in his path and the choices that others make cannot be his responsibility. He can offer rescue, but if a person is too scared, then there is nothing that can be done. This was a hard lesson for Alan, but one that he needed to learn.

There is humor in this series, humor that you are not sure that you should be laughing at but then again, that is what life offers. There is sadness and utter joy, once again what life offers. The books are written from a religious perspective, but that is what you come to expect from Richard Paul Evans, so if you are offended by that, pick something else.

If you are looking for a walk of discovery, start at the beginning (The Walk) and join Alan Christoffersen on a curious and thought provoking journey full of twists and discoveries.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Death of a Nightingale


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: Death of a Nightingale
Author: Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
Publisher: Soho Crime (November 5, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 368
Genre: Fiction
Series: Nina Borg #3

Overview:

Nina. Natasha. Olga. Three women united by one terrifying secret. But only one of them has killed to keep it.

Natasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian woman who has been convicted of the attempted murder of her Danish fiancé, escapes police custody on her way to an interrogation in Copenhagen's police headquarters. That night, the frozen, tortured body of Michael, the ex-fiancé, is found in a car, and the manhunt for Natasha escalates. It isn't the first time the young Ukrainian woman has lost a partner to violent ends: her first husband was also murdered, three years earlier in Kiev, and in the same manner: tortured to death in a car.

Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg has been following Natasha's case for several years now, since Natasha first took refuge at a crisis center where Nina works. Nina, who had tried to help Natasha leave her abusive fiancé more than once, just can't see the young Ukrainian mother as a vicious killer. But in her effort to protect Natasha's daughter and discover the truth, Nina realizes there is much she didn't know about this woman and her past. The mystery has long and bloody roots, going back to a terrible famine that devastated Stalinist Ukraine in 1934, when a ten-year-old girl with the voice of a nightingale sang her family into shallow graves.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review - Ghost Gone Wild


Title: Ghost Gone Wild
Author: Carolyn Hart
Publisher: Berkley  (Oct 1, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 307
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Series: Bailey Ruth #4

Well thank goodness Carolyn Hart did not thank her editor because this book came off more along the lines of self-published than a book from a reputable publishing house. Missing words, wrong words, definitely not a finished product.

Book four in the Bailey Ruth series reads like the previous three books. Bailey Ruth is an emissary from Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions. This time, she is hoodwinked into thinking that she has been given a new assignment only to discover that Delilah Delahunt Duvall has her own agenda, she needs someone to help save her nephew Nick from himself.

Apparently, Nick Magruder has some serious money and he plans to use it to get even with those that have wronged him in the past. Little did he know that he has managed to step on the wrong toes and someone is out to keep him away from property that holds a suspected buried treasure.

The story is a bit convoluted and drawn out; repeated wardrobe changes of the main character seem to be more of a priority than keeping the storyline focused. Besides, what kind of backwater town is Adelaide, Oklahoma that would not recognize two women running around pretending to be part of the police force?

If you are willing to suspend all forms of belief, you might like Bailey Ruth - there is enough rehashing of the character for the reader to be able to pick up this book without reading the previous installments, but it would be up to you on where you would like to start.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review - Mr. Tiger Goes Wild


Title: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
Author and Illustrator: Peter Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 3, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 48
Genre: Children’s
Ages: 3 – 6; Preschool to 1st Grade

Who knew that a tiger could have a midlife crisis? Well apparently, that is exactly what happened to Mr. Tiger when he suddenly decided that he did not like the status quo.

The same old boring things everyday, the same conversations and the same boring upstanding uptight world. He had an idea. He was going to change things up a bit. Back down on four legs and a nice mighty roar.

If you are going to act wild, why not return to nature he was told. Unfortunately, that was not the answer either. There had to be a nice middle ground.

You know what Mr. Tiger found, that if you open the door to allow others to be themselves, very positive things could happen.

As they say, a tiger cannot change his stripes and that is a good lesson for all of us to learn.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review - Murder Checks Inn

Title: Murder Checks Inn
Author: Tim Myers
Publisher: Berkley (January 7, 2003)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 192
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Lighthouse Inn Mysteries, No. 3

I do not know why I keep reading this series. Deep down I really do not like the simplicity of the storylines, but I have this weird addiction to series and have a hard time walking away.

Alex Winston is the Owner and Innkeeper of Hatteras West a lighthouse motel in the North Carolina Mountains. Yes, you got that right a lighthouse surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. A duplicate of the lighthouse on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

The most recent set of guests are there to hear the reading of their late husband and father’s will. Unfortunately, the attorney, Alex’s uncle Jase, which was to read the document has been found murdered and now Alex is determined to find the killer.

Many fingers can be pointed to anyone in the family including a newly found offspring and Alex’s own brother Tony.

The story meanders and a love interest is forefront in Alex’s mind, but still there is a job to do and a lighthouse to run.

A very simple story that has the reader wandering all over a small town and then boom, it is over and the killer is revealed. Nothing that had the reader shocked or surprised, but a neat little bow and an expected lead into the next book.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review - Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital


Title: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
Author: Sheri Fink
Publisher: Crown (September 10, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 576
Genre: Non-Fiction

This book was very difficult for me to read. I had to take it in very small bites and not read it at night before I went to bed. What I read stayed with me. Even though I was two thousand miles away and had the “that happens to other people” mentality during Hurricane Katrina, this book made the time and the desperate situations all too real for me.

Cut to the chase, the hospital was not prepared for the catastrophe that they had to endure. The city was not prepared and the people that had taken shelter, not just the patients, at the hospital assumed that they would be cared for. That was so not the case.

Memorial Hospital had the range of patients, from the high maintenance critical care on the seventh floor of LifeCare to the neonates to the routine patients, the doctors and nurses on duty that day had life and death in their hands. Their statement of leaving no living patient behind could have been interpreted two different ways and that seems to be the crux of the story.

Sheri Fink is an exceptional journalist. At least that is what I think her title is. She takes the reader through the five days and without taking obvious sides, she guides the reader. Did doctors euthanize patients? Did easing pain, necessitate death? Did nurses assist and then turn a blind eye? Were walls put up to hinder the investigation? There is no way of truly knowing since very few are backing up the whistleblowers.

What I came away with is that “but for the Grace of God”. You do not know what choices you would make in which situations. I am also reconsidering a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order – one family did not know that it also stood for Do Not Rescue.

You need to spend time with this book, take it slowly, think it through and open up conversations.

By the end, what I found most interesting was that the surrounding hospitals that did not rely on second or third party rescue efforts seemed to fare better. When you know you are on your own, you do what needs to be done and you do not finger point. Memorial was waiting for the bailout and when it did not come, chaos pursued.

In the epilogue, you will see that many hospitals have not learned from this disaster. Medical professionals do the best with what they have – but what if they do not have enough and full rescue is five days away.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Sycamore Row


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: Sycamore Row
Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday (October 22nd 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 462
Genre: Fiction


Overview:

A sequel to A Time to Kill.

Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial-a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history.

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County's most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.

The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Ghost Gone Wild

Title: Ghost Gone Wild
Author: Carolyn Hart
Publisher: Berkley  (Oct 1, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 307
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Series: Bailey Ruth #4




Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea






Chapter 1

I passed Julia Child’s kitchen and breathed deeply. The aromas were Heavenly. Julia still loves butter. I was in a rambling mood on another golden day in paradise. As my thoughts flitted, so did my presence. Heaven makes joyful pursuits quite easy. If I envisioned a place or activity, I am there, everything from white-water rafting to a romantic tango in the moonlight. When I murmur, “Come dance with me,” to Bobby Mac, we move in unison to the pulsing music, his hand warm against my back. I savor the beat and Bobby Mac and my filmy dress of sea green chiffon. Bobby Mac is gorgeous in a white Guayabera shirt and black trousers, quite a change from his usual cream polo and khaki shorts when fishing from Serendipity or his blue work shirt and Levi’s when out on a oil rig. As we say in Adelaide, he cleans up real nice.

Do I sense bewilderment? Heaven? Julia Child’s kitchen? A tango in the moonlight? Adelaide? Oh yes, all of that and more. If we haven’t met before, I’ll introduce myself. I am Bailey Ruth Raeburn, late of Adelaide, Oklahoma. Bobby Mac and I arrive in Heaven when our cabin cruiser, the faithful Serendipity, sank during a storm in the Gulf. Bobby Mac has been my man ever since high school, when he was a darkly handsome senior and I was a redheaded sophomore. We live a happy life, which has only been better since arriving in Heaven.


Overview

Bailey Ruth loves to return to earth as an emissary from Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions. Problem is, she’s a bit of a loose cannon as far as ghosts go—forgetting to remain invisible, alarming earthly creatures—so she’s far from the top of department head Wiggins’s go-to list for assignments.

That’s why she’s surprised when the Heaven-sent Rescue Express drops her off at a frame house on the outskirts of her old hometown, Adelaide, Oklahoma, where a young man is playing the drums. What kind of rescuing does he need—drum lessons? But when a window cracks and a rifle barrel is thrust inside, only Bailey Ruth’s hasty intervention saves Nick Magruder from taking a bullet. When she materializes to reassure him, she finds she can’t go back to vanishing. What gives?

It turns out she’s been tricked by Nick’s late aunt—Delilah Delahunt Duvall—to come to the young man’s rescue, which means she isn’t back on earth in service of the department. Wiggins has no idea where she is—and now she may be trapped in Adelaide forever. Unless she can help Aunt Dee snare the person who wants her nephew dead…

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review - So Damn Lucky

Title: So Damn Lucky
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Forge Books, Pgs 384
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction
Series: Lucky O'Toole Las Vegas Adventures #3

I think I liked this book solely because I loved the previous books in the series.

There were two main plotlines. The Lucky and Teddie relationship and the convoluted twisty magician-alien-Area 51 thing. I am still confused on who was who when it came to the magicians and repeatedly my eyes glazed over when I was trying to remember their exact place in the story.

Zewicki, Danilov, Carl, Jenkins, Griffin, Mortimer, Marik and Fortunoff. Just to name a few. Which do not include the ongoing characters from the previous books.

This is a series that you have to read from the beginning to keep all the usual players in line and to understand their interactions.

Lucky O’Toole is the head of Customer Relations of the Babylon resort in Las Vegas. On a daily basis she has to handle all the usual craziness that tourist bring to her town and to her hotel specifically.

Teddie, a heterosexual female impersonator, is Lucky’s lover but their relationship is on the fritz since he has decided to follow his dream and leave Lucky at home alone. Her mother Mona, the madam of the local bordello is pregnant, the father - the same man that is Lucky’s father even though that needs to be kept hush-hush for business reasons.

Now add in the suave men waiting in the wings for Lucky to make up her mind---

Wait

Let me get back to the twisty plot –

Trying to duplicate Houdini’s final act, Dimitri Fortunoff appears to become a victim of the same result, but when his body disappears, Lucky is determined to find out what happened. All this coinciding on the same weekend that UFO enthusiasts descend on the Babylon.

Little did she know that when magicians, psychics, and alien hunters all appear together things are not going to end well. It is up to Lucky to get to the bottom of all this in time for the weekend finale cumulating in the famous Houdini séance on Halloween night.

Only Lucky and her hotel family can get to the bottom of this with only a couple bullet creases and black eyes amongst them.

I really enjoy this series. It is sexy and it is funny. Just the way you think Las Vegas should be.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review - Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie


Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 28th 2009)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 374
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Flavia de Luce #1


I did not mesh well with this book. Was Flavia de Luce an annoying 11-year-old or was she really a 35-year-old college chemistry professor in disguise? Did this book take place in 1950 or 1850? Are adults really dumber than a child? This book just annoyed me from beginning to end.

Flavia is the youngest of three girls born into assumed wealth in an English village named Bishop’s Lacey. Having too much time on her hands, since it appears that neither she nor her sisters attend school, she has developed quite an impressive knowledge of chemistry with a specialty in poisons.

When their housekeeper / cook finds a dead jacksnipe (I think this is a blackbird) with a stamp impaled on its bill on the back steps, Flavia is fascinated. Later when she hears her father arguing with a red haired stranger that later turns up dead in their cucumber patch, Flavia breaks out her imagination and chemistry knowledge to solve the two crimes.

The reader is going to have to take a deep breath when they open this book. Stamp collectors, illusionists, memory loss, hallucinations, post traumatic stress disorder, boarding school, headmaster, apparent suicide, political intrigue, Ulster Avenger stamps, theft, blackmail, and murder. As you can see there is a great deal going on in this book.

What distracted me the most was that I kept question the time period. The characters used such Victorian language that I had to keep reminding my self of the year. For instance, in 1950 did they use the term “looking glass” or did they say mirror? Just as important to me, even if a child had their own chemistry lab complete with Bunsen burners, would they know all that Flavia appeared to know?

Definitely, not the right series for me. I am glad that I finally read the first in the series so I can now say without a doubt, the next time someone tells me that I should checkout this series, “no, thank you”.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Seven Deadlies


Hosted by Breaking the Spine



Title: Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale
Author: Gigi Levangie Grazer
Publisher: Blue Rider Press (October 17th 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 256
Genre: Fiction


Overview:

A witty and wildly different novel set amid the sinful reaches of Beverly Hills, narrated by a captivating, gimlet-eyed Mexican-American heroine.

Perry Gonzalez is not like the other kids in her Beverly Hills high school—a full-blooded Latina on a scholarship, living in a tiny apartment with her mother, she doesn’t have much in common with the spoiled, privileged kids who are chauffeured to school every morning. But Perry is a budding young writer with her sights set on Bennington—and her seven deadly stories are her ticket to the Ivory Tower. To pay her way, Perry’s been babysitting (correction: teenage-sitting) and tutoring the neighborhood kids, and she has seen the dark side of adolescence: lust for the “Judas Brothers” that leads to electrocution at a private birthday party concert; wrath that inspires new and perverse family bonds; and greed, in a young Bernie Madoff acolyte who conceives of a copycat Ponzi scheme involving his own grandmother.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend Movies - The Last Station and Young Victoria



The Last Station

Helen Mirren
Christopher Plummer
Paul Giamatti
Anne-Marie Duff
James McAvoy

(2009)

Netflix Summary:

Set during the last year of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy's life, this biopic explores the fractious relationship between Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife (Helen Mirren), as he embraces a life of asceticism. Paul Giamatti co-stars as impassioned Tolstoy devotee Vladimir Chertkov, with James McAvoy playing the aging writer's assistant, Valentin, who is caught in the middle of various struggles.

I enjoyed this movie more that I thought I would.  I knew very little of the time period and the people but was fascinated by the interpersonal relationships and the drama that was at the center of  Sofya's and Tolstoy's lives. 

Also didn't know that Tolstoy launched an anti-materialist movement - funny what you learn by watching movies.



The Young Victoria

Emily Blunt
Rupert Friend
Paul Bettany
Miranda Richardson

(2009)

Netflix Summary:

Eighteen-year-old British royal Victoria ascends to the throne and is romanced by future husband Prince Albert in this lush period film that chronicles the early years of the British monarch's larger-than-life reign.

I love the atmosphere of this movie.  I loved seeing the strength of a young woman that had been very sheltered and the devotion that she had to the true love of her life. 

They lead their country as a united team and after his very young death, Queen Victoria continued to layout his clothing until the day that she died.  That was the most heartbreaking part of the movie.  To know that her love for him knew no end.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review - The Apple Orchard Riddle


Title: The Apple Orchard Riddle
Author: Margaret McNamara
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (July 9, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 40
Genre: Children’s
Source: Library
Ages: 4 – 8; Preschool to 3rd

I love when books can teach a lesson. Not just character building but occasionally you come across a book that includes a little more thought and maybe a little science too.

Mr. Tiffin is taking his class on a field trip to an apple orchard. He has tasked his class with solving a riddle, “Show me a little red house with no windows and no door, but with a star inside”.

As the young class learns about apples varieties and picking and then later on to pressing and cider making, Tara is deep in thought. The classroom daydreamer that seems to try the patience of the overachievers, Tara has taken Mr. Tiffin’s riddle to heart and with each new experience, she is turning over Mr. Tiffin’s words until she has solved the riddle.

This is a great book for teachers to add to their shelves. Each fall as they head back to school and ponder how to incorporate science and art, they can read this book and then have the students make apple prints to show off the stars.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review - Bellman and Black


Title: Bellman and Black: A Novel
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (November 5, 2013)
Format: eBook; Hardcover Pgs 336
Genre: Gothic
Source: NetGalley


I am of two minds with this book. It is not my usual genre of choice so I went into it with a relatively open mind. The book captivated me in the beginning, bored me in the middle and enthralled me at the end.

What started as a boyhood dare to knock a rook from a tree, turned into a life long run from the man in black. Bellman did not associate the two in the beginning, but as one thing lead to another, Mr. Black would appear to him from time to time and in the end, Mr. Bellman had made his bargain. In order to save everything he had built, he would enter into a business deal with the proposed devil himself.

Yet, that part is conjecture and up to the reader to decide. No one sees Mr. Black, no one has ever spoken to him, yet he is very real in the mind of Mr. Bellman. In a way, it is very much a “he who should not be named” scenario. Mr. Bellman has given this entity power, he is fearful of the consequences if he does not give it all away to the man that has never asked for anything.

This would be a great book for a reading group to dissect. There are many turning points and many views that the reader could walk away with.

As I said, I am of two minds, is this a book of greed or a book of love. A book that shows us that even a forgotten action can have deep consequences or a book that shows that no matter how hard you work to provide for others that there is always someone or something that can take it away. What promises will we make to prevent it all from disappearing?

The more I ponder these questions, the more I realize how much I liked the ending of this book. It is up to the reader to make the final decisions.

The one question that I do have, who or what became of his daughter Dora? Her appearance began to change at the end. Did she become what her father feared the most?

A curious question that will be up to me to decide.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review - Dead in the Family


Title: Dead in the Family
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Books (May 2010)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 311
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Library
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #10

I like when an author takes a breather in a series. When they stop and redefine and realign their characters. Sometimes when they move to far afield I lose characters and then later on wonder what happened.

The main theme of this book is family problems. Seems that since Sookie is still recovering from the torture she received from the evil fairies in the last book, she is not quite ready to go and search out new problems. So why not stay home and let crazy come to her.

This time, the foolishness begins with Eric’s maker, Appius Livius Ocella showing up with his newest protégée, technically Eric’s brother, sending both Eric and Pam into a tizzy. This is strange and powerful man seems to have set off a firestorm when the young man, Alexei reveals who he really is. That is was, before he was turned.

Bill is still suffering from silver poisoning and Sookie, using Sookie logic, seeks the only person that can help Bill recover. This will open up a completely new character and I am not quite sure which direction this could take.

The government is still close on Sookie’s tail and it does not help that a body has been discovered on her property and it is not the one that they already knew about.

Sookie is still in a love hate relationship with some fairies and since the doorway to the fairy world has been closed, she fears that she will never see or hear from her grandfather again. That is until she finds that some of the fairies are still on this side including her cousin and maybe one or two that she would like to disappear forever.

The readers gets to see a little more of one of my favorite characters, Hunter the six year old son of Sookie’s cousin Hadley, who is a telepath. Sookie is trying to help this young boy to understand his talent and how to control it. Not an easy thing when an innocent child thinks that he is helping.

By the end of the book, there is a complete bloodbath and you have to follow along as to who is killing who and why. You pretty much need one of those football white boards with x’s and o’s to follow the players.

Overall, I think it was one of my favorite books in the series. There is something about the fairies that I like. I know that they might be evil maniacal beings, but let’s face it, anything that can be warded off with a squirt gun full of lemon juice cannot be all that bad.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Practice to Deceive


Hosted by Breaking the Spine




Title: Practice to Deceive
Author: Ann Rule
Publisher: Gallery Books (October 8, 2013))
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 352
Genre: True Crime

Overview:

In her first book-length investigative chronicle since In the Still of the Night, Rule unravels a shattering case of Christmastime murder off the coast of Washington State.

Nestled in Puget Sound, Whidbey Island is a gem of the Pacific Northwest; accessible only by ferry and the soaring Deception Pass Bridge, it is known for its artistic communities and stunning natural beauty. Life there is low-key, insular, and the island’s year-round residents tend to know one another’s business. But when the blood drenched body of Russel Douglas was discovered the day after Christmas in his SUV in a hidden driveway near Whidbey’s most exclusive mansions, the whole island was shocked. A single bullet between his eyes was the cause of death, but no one could imagine who among them could plot such a devious, cold-blooded crime. At first, police suspected suicide, tragically common at the height of the holiday season. But when they found no gun in or near the SUV, Russel’s manner of death became homicide. Like a cast of characters from a classic mystery novel, a host of Whidbey residents fell under suspicion.

Brenna Douglas was Russel’s estranged and soon-to-be-ex wife, who allowed him to come home for a Christmas visit with their children. The couple owned the popular Just B’s salon. Brenna’s good friend Peggy Sue Thomas worked there, and Brenna complained often to her that Russel was physically and emotionally abusive. Peggy Sue’s own life has been one of extremes. Married three times, hers is a rags-to-riches-and-back-again tale in which she’s played many roles: aircraft mechanic, basketball coach, the “drop-dead gorgeous” beauty queen as a former Ms. Washington, Las Vegas limousine driver, million-dollar horse breeder, wealthy divorcée. But in 2003, her love affair with married guitarist Jim Huden led the two Whidbey Island natives to pursue their ultimate dreams of wealth and privilege—even at the expense of human life.
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph

Title: So Damn Lucky
Author: Deborah Coonts
Publisher: Forge Books, Pgs 384
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fiction
Series: Lucky O'Toole Las Vegas Adventures #3


Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea





Chapter 1

Some things in life are best savored alone—sex is not one of them.

This happy thought occurred to me while piloting a borrowed Ferrari and staring at the smiling couples filling the sidewalks along the Las Vegas Strip. Walking hand-in-hand, they were living, breathing reminders of the sorry state of my own love life.

"Lady! Watch out!"

I heard the shout in the nick of time. Slamming on the brakes, I narrowly avoided sliding the front end of the Ferrari under a tour bus. A sea of Japanese faces appeared like moons in the back window, peering down at me. Then cameras blocked the faces, flashbulbs popping as I shrugged and waved while trying to appear unruffled.


Overview

While performing his final trick at the performance marking the end of a forty-year run of one of Las Vegas' most renowned burlesque shows, magician Dimitri Fortunoff appears to have a fatal accident. Then, when his body disappears, the questions mount for Lucky O'Toole, head of Customer Relations for the Babylon resort, the crown jewel of the mega-resorts dotting the Las Vegas Strip. And the timing couldn't be worse. Her live-in lover, Teddie, has morphed into a rock star and been swallowed whole by life on the road. Her mother, Mona, pregnant, petulant, and perpetually under foot is giving new meaning to the term 'high maintenance.' Paxton Dane, a handsome Texan long on charisma and short on history, is forcing himself into the void of Teddie's absence, and a suave French chef is proving to be equal parts charm and venom, seasoned with a dash of irresistible.

But Lucky can't shake the question: Did Dimitri Fortunoff really die or is this an elaborate hoax? UFO conventioneers and high-ranking magicians fill her hotel and she turns to some of them for answers: Zoom-Zoom Zewicki, a retired astronaut with an agenda all his own, Crazy Carl Colson, a psychic clinging to the edge of sanity, Marik Kovalenko, a smoldering internationally renowned magician, The Great Tursinov, a famed mentalist, Bart Griffin, late-night talk show host, and Junior Arbogast, professional cynic and hoax exposer.

The trail leads her through the miles of storm culverts under the city of Las Vegas, to the hordes of believers who gather at Rachel for a glimpse of a UFO, to hints of secret programs at Area 51, then culminates on the catwalk above the crowd attending the annual Harry Houdini Séance on Halloween, where Lucky must risk her life to catch a killer.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mailbox Monday - Murder Checks Inn


Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month but sometimes tracking them down can be a bit of a challenge.



Title: Murder Checks Inn
Author: Tim Myers
Publisher: Berkley (January 7th 2003)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 192
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Paperbackswap.com
Series: A Lighthouse Mystery #3


Overview

The Hatteras West Inn is the perfect getaway, a replica of the Hatteras West Lighthouse tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But when the Trask family comes to sort out their father’s will, they bring their troubles with them. When Alex’s uncle is murdered, it ties directly into the squabbling family, and Alex is determined to find out who killed his uncle.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review - How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids


Title: How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids
Author: Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
Illustrator: Maurie J. Manning
Publisher: Gallup Press (April 1st 2009)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children’s
Source: Library
Ages:3 – 8, Preschool to 3rd Grade

This book provides a great visual to show children how words and actions can either build up a person or knock them down.

After a lesson from his grandfather, Felix wakes up one morning with an invisible bucket of water floating above his head. The bucket is half-full, symbolizing that his day could go either way.

When bad things happen or mean people hurt his feelings, water splashes out; when positive reinforcement is received or acts of kindness are shared, big fat drops fill his bucket.

Felix is starting to get the hang of this and soon he realizes that everyone must have a bucket. What he did not realize was what would happen to his bucket when filling others.

A great resource to start a conversation on empathy and compassion and how even the smallest of things can fill someone’s bucket.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review - Ice Cold Kill


Title: Ice Cold Kill
Author: Dana Haynes
Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 26, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 343
Genre: Political Thriller
Source: Library

There are two things that you need to remember when you are reading this book. First, this is not the latest installment of the Crasher series; second, put all other books away and focus one hundred percent on this book or you are going to miss something important.

When Dana Haynes introduced Daria Gibron in his previous books, you knew that she was a character to be reckoned with. She has a past and very little of whom she is was revealed. That is until this book. The layers of Daria are slowly unfolded and the reader is taken on a roller coast ride.

Daria has been working under the protection of the FBI, but when a person contacts her from her Israeli Secret Service days, she has no idea what she is walking into. Her whole world is about to explode and she is trying to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. Unfortunately, she has no idea who she can trust.

Not a person with long term well thought out plans, Daria is literally in a fight for her life when she is being set up as a fall guy and apparently the only person that can prevent a holocaust when a highly specialized virus is stolen and is now in the hands of a sociopath. Unfortunately, this is not just any sociopath, this is a person that protected Daria’s young life and now she must choose the past or the present.

As the FBI and the CIA, plus a couple of other international acronyms and agencies, find the players and figure out the endgame, the world is on the brink of the annihilation of an ethnic group in a way that I did not even know was possible.

This is a phenomenal book. The pace is steady, the subject matter timely and even though you should not be laughing, the dry humor kicks in at just the right moments.

Dana Haynes is an author to keep an eye out for and add to you must read list.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review - Sister's Choice


Title: Sister’s Choice
Author: Emilie Richards
Publisher: Mira (July 1, 2008)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 544
Genre: Romance
Source: Library
Series: Shenandoah Album #5


In my opinion, this is the best of the series. Unfortunately, it also appears to be the last of the Shenandoah series.

Kendra and Jamie have had a stormy past, Kendra was always the strong dependable one and Jamie, the younger by nine years, had dependency issues and two daughters from two different men. Kendra and her husband seem to have it all, but what looks good on the outside is only a cover for the true longing in their lives. Kendra wants a child and that just not seem to be in the cards.

Jamie needing to make amends, offers Kendra and Isaac a gift, she is willing to be their surrogate. Old wounds come to the surface and as the sisters work through their past a new future emerges.

No only is Jamie now their surrogate, she is also the architect in training for Isaac and Kendra’s new home and with that of course comes the romance part of this book. Cash Rosslyn and his crew come to complete the job and in doing so, secrets are revealed and new bonds are formed.

Cash Rosslyn and Jamie must face a medical crisis head on that brings up a painful past for Cash, but that is helped along by Cash’s grandmother who has her own story to tell.

The reader will be following multiple storylines but each is strong and as the reader bounces along, warm wonderful characters are discovered.