Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review - Into the Dark

Title: Into the Dark
Author: Alison Gaylin
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 29, 2013)
Format: e-Book (651KB); Pgs 384
Genre: Suspense
Source: Amazon
Series: Brenna Spector #2

I enjoyed this book as much as the first - And She Was. Both books grab you from the start and even thought there are a couple sluggish parts, you are in for a suspenseful ride. At first, Brenna Spector rejects a job offered to her by her former employer Errol Ludlow the man that almost got her killed and can be held partially responsible for ending her first marriage.

Performance artist Lula Belle is missing; this shadowy figure reaches out to her web-based followers in silhouette and tells intimate stories. They are not just any stories, they are recounting Brenna’s life – a life that she is desperate to put back together. A life that involves her missing sister Clea. As Brenna is further drawn into Lula Belle she cannot turn away, she must find her and discover the truth. Could this really be her missing sister? How else could she know so much about Brenna and Clea’s life? How does she know the words that Brenna’s horrible mother used?

As we found out in book one, Brenna has hyperthymestic syndrome, the ability to remember every moment and every word spoken since shortly after the disappearance of her sister. She is on an endless journey to find Clea no matter how much her life, and the lives of her loved ones, hangs in the balance.

The storyline is twisted, but I would not say horribly convoluted, there are a couple of places that you wonder how far this can be stretched, but by the end, all the pieces are put back in place.

As the bodies pile up and the deception deepens, you cannot turn away from the very flawed Brenna. She will never win mother of the year, but she tries, tries as hard as she can, but she will fall short. That is just the way she is wired. She is in a constant struggle between the present and the past and at any given time, you the reader, will not truly know what part of her is winning.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Requiem

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 5, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 432
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Delirum #3 (#6 if you count the bonus books)


Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana's points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

With lyrical writing, Lauren Oliver seamlessly interweaves the peril that Lena faces with the inner tumult she experiences after the reappearance of her first love, Alex, the boy she thought was dead. Sophisticated and wide-ranging, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to a thrilling conclusion.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim

Title: Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim
Author: Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (November 13, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 272
Genre: Collection of the Authors’ ‘Chick Wit’ columns
Source: Library

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Excerpt (read full excerpt here at Mcmillan)

I was just talking with a friend of mine, who says she has to nag her kids every time they leave for a trip. She nags them to pack their bags, to get ready on time, and to not forget their sneakers. She feels bad for nagging them, and all of it takes me back to when Daughter Francesca was ten years old and we had one of the best fights of our life.

And yes, you can have a good fight with your daughter.

If you’ve read me before, you know that I think fighting is healthy and normal, and a good fight is when you learn something from your kid. Not when you win.

If you win, ten years later, your daughter will turn up pregnant.

Don’t try to win. Try to learn.


Love and guilt are thick in the Scottoline/Serritella household, and Lisa and Francesca’s mother-daughter-turned-best-friends bond will strike a familiar note to many. But now that Lisa is a suburban empty nester and Francesca is an independent twenty- something in the big city, they have to learn how to stay close while living apart. How does a mother’s love translate across state lines and over any semblance of personal boundaries? You’ll laugh out loud as they face off over the proper technique for packing dishes, the importance of bringing a coat in the summertime, and the dos and don’ts of dating at any age. Add feisty octogenarian Mother Mary to the mix, and you have a Molotov cocktail of estrogen, opinions, and fun.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - A Dying Fall

Title: A Dying Fall
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 5, 2013)
Format: ARC Trade Paperback Pgs 390
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine
Series: Ruth Galloway #5

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea


At first he isn’t even scared. Even though his room is full of smoke, and when he reaches the top of the stairs the heat makes him stagger backwards, eyes stinging. It’s only a fire and he knows what to do in a fire, he learnt it at Cubs some thirty years ago. Besides, he’s in a tiny two-storey house, not the Towering Inferno (a film that he must have watched at about the same time, come to think of it). He knows the bedroom window doesn’t open and the bathroom window’s too small but the front door is only a few steps away, just down those stairs. How hard can it be? Still calm, he goes back into the bathroom and soaks a towel, just like Akela told him. He wraps the towel round his face and starts to descend the stairs. It is hard, far harder than he thought possible. In the past he has read about people in fires being ‘beaten back by the heat’ and, deep down, he had always thought, ‘Wimps. It’s just hot air. Push through it.’ But this doesn’t seem like air any more, it’s solid, and he has to batter against it with his whole body. After three steps he is exhausted and the heat is just getting stronger. He can’t see much because of the towel, but he can hear the fire – a sort of dull rushing sound filling the whole of the downstairs. He can smell it too; it smells industrial and serious.

But he can hear something else. Sirens. Someone must have called the fire brigade. Hallelujah. He’s saved. He falls the last few steps, right onto the front door. The handle is so hot that it sticks to his hand but he holds on and turns with all his might, pushing against the door with his shoulders. The towel slips and suddenly he’s choking. The hall is full of dense black smoke and he’s gasping for breath. With his last atom of strength he hurls himself against the door. Only then does he realise that it’s locked. From the outside.

And now he’s scared.


Ruth Galloway is shocked when she learns that her old university friend Dan Golding has died tragically in a house fire. But the death takes on a sinister cast when Ruth receives a letter from Dan written just before he died.

The letter tells of a great archaeological discovery, but Dan also says that he is scared for his life. Was Dan’s death linked to his find? The only clue is his mention of the Raven King, an ancient name for King Arthur.

Then Ruth is invited to examine the bones Dan found. Ruth travels to Lancashire–the hometown of DCI Nelson–with both her eighteen-month-old daughter, Kate, and her druid friend, Cathbad, in tow. She discovers a campus living in fear of a sinister right-wing group called the White Hand. She also finds that the bones revealed a shocking fact about King Arthur–and they’ve mysteriously vanished. When Nelson, visiting his mother in Blackpool, learns about the case, he is drawn into the investigation, especially when Ruth and his beloved Kate seem to be in danger. Who is willing to kill to keep the bones a secret?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review - The Uninvited

Title: The Uninvited
Author: Liz Jensen
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (January 8, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Science Fiction / Dystopian

This book took me a little longer to get into the flow of, but once I was there, I could not put it down.

This book starts with a shocking opening account, for no known reason a seven-year-old murders her grandmother. From that moment on, other bizarre cases of children killing their parents spreads throughout the world.

Hesketh Lock, an anthropologist, has been called in by his company, Phipps and Wexman, to analyze this behavior. He has just finished up on a study in Taiwan and now he is flying around the world, following up on one bizarre case after another. Now adults are committing suicide but before their deaths, they tell of strange children, children that have entered their bodies and are forcing them to do awful things.

Having Asperger’s Syndrome, Hesketh has never been very good at relationships, but he does have a gift for eliminating emotions and associating behavioral patterns. His beloved Professor Whybray has nurtured this gift in him. Other than Professor Whybray, they only shining light in his life is Freddy, the son of his girlfriend, a wonderfully curious little boy. Hesketh is not an easy character to relate to, he does take some getting used to - he has a fascination with origami and paint charts, he is a master of Venn diagrams and his social interactions with females is inappropriate to put it mildly.

As the cases multiply exponentially, the truly heart wrenching happens close to home and Hesketh must find a way to protect the vulnerable without any more harm coming to those that he loves.

From the beginning, this book reminded me of a movie that I saw decades ago “Village of the Damned”, where a collective consciousness seemed to take over the minds of children. That movie has creeped me out to this day and this book has reinforced the creepy factor.

What has inhabited these children and adults seems so farfetched, but at the same time, your logical mind wanders to the “well, what if’s” and you are left with …to be honest, I have no idea what you are left with other than a shutter and your mind spinning.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review - From Dead to Worse

Title: From Dead to Worse
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Hardcover (May 6, 2008)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 368
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Source: Library
Series:Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Mysteries #8

I always seem to enjoy the Sookie books that involve the fairies. There is something about them that I find so curious. The vampires and werewolves are starting to become redundant so the new “supernaturals” are a pleasant change.

Since the last book, where there was an explosion at the vampire summit - certain characters are no longer in the series. This is a good thing, since I was beginning to get a couple of them confused. Sookie is still trying to find her missing boyfriend Quinn, New Orleans and southern Louisiana is in the process of recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and the werewolves’ are causing a horrible mess.

This book creates a very interesting interaction for Sookie. For the first time, she meets her great-grandfather Niall, King of the Fairies (at least that is what I think his title is). There is a twisty story as to who in Sookie’s past has fairy blood and who had a secret tryst with a fairy, but come on now, what would a Southern Vampire Mystery be without a couple of secrets. Another curious twist was when Sookie meets her “nephew”; really, the Stackhouse family tree is something that I think I need to start writing down. Hunter is going to be a curious side character and I sure do hope that Charlaine Harris has him popping up from time to time.

As usual, there are multiple storylines going on and the frustration of what Sookie has to face from day to day is starting to wear on her and you can tell in the voice of the character that this book just might be a changing point for both Sookie and the series.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Dead Suite

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Dead Suite
Author: Wendy Roberts
Publisher: InterMix (February 19, 2013)
Format: ebook; 610kb (248 pgs)
Genre: Mystery / Paranormal
Series: Ghost Duster Mystery #4


Crime scene cleaner Sadie Novak has been blessed with the gift of second sight. But with ghosts of murder victims always popping up when she’s trying to work, her blessing sometimes seems more like a curse…

With business slow, her mortgage payment looming, and her relationship with on-again off-again boyfriend Zack somewhere in limbo, Sadie could use a drink and a little rejuvenating R&R. But when women start getting killed in fancy hotels, Sadie suddenly finds herself back to work and her business back in the black.

Posh hotels are much nicer accommodations than her usual crime scenes, but soon perks turn to peril and Sadie gets caught in the killer’s web. Now, Sadie has to figure out the identity of the Seattle Slasher, before he comes for her next…

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Dead and Gone

Title: Dead and Gone
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Hardcover (May 5, 2009)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 312
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Library
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #9

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

“Caucasian vampires should never wear white,” the television announcer intoned. “We’ve been secretly filming Devon Dawn, who’s been a vampire for only a decade, as she gets dressed for a night on the town. Look at that outfit! It’s all wrong for her!”

“What was she thinking?” said an acidic female voice. “Talk about stuck in the nineties! Look at that blouse, if that’s what you call it. Her skin just cries out for contrasting color, and what is she putting on! Ivory! It makes her skin look like a Hefty bag.”


Except for Sookie Stackhouse, folks in Bon Temps, Louisiana, know little about vamps-and nothing about weres.

Until now. The weres and shifters have finally decided to reveal their existence to the ordinary world. At first all goes well. Then the mutilated body of a were-panther is found near the bar where Sookie works-and she feels compelled to discover who, human or otherwise, did it.

But there's a far greater danger threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings-older, more powerful, and more secretive than vampires or werewolves-is preparing for war. And Sookie finds herself an all-too human pawn in their battle.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Review - Zombie in Love

Title: Zombie in Love
Author: Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrator: Scott Campbell
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 23, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children’s
Source: Library
Ages: 4 and up

Perfectly off beat and quirky, Zombie in Love is a charming story of Mortimer, a zombie, trying to find a new love and a date to the Cupid’s Ball.

In a zombie sense, Mortimer has been around a while, but the ladies do not appreciate his affections. Modern girls are not into worm-filled boxes of chocolates or human hearts. They do not like diamond rings with the previous owner’s finger still attached or Mortimer’s arms falling off when he tries to work out at the gym. This does not deter him. There just has to be the perfect ghoul out there for him.

He places an ad looking for the perfect woman, which sounds a bit like the Rupert Homes – Pina Colada song, in hopes of finding a woman that likes waking up at midnight. I chucked at that – knowing full well that the humor would be lost on most readers. Yes, I am that old.

As the clock strikes midnight, and all hope seems to be lost, the old adage that “there is someone for everyone” rings true and Mortimer finds his dream woman with half a brain. Really – if you do not know the song, that too will be lost on you.

A fun book that will entertain both the adult and the young reader.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review - Odd Apocalypse

Title: Odd Apocalypse
Author: Dean Koontz
Publisher: Bantam (July 31, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 368
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Library
Series: Odd Thomas #5

I know that calling the Odd series odd is a redundancy, but to be honest no other word fits the bill. Dean Koontz has written a peculiar series based on Odd Thomas a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities. Not piqued your attention yet? Odd seems to find himself in the most abnormal situations with very eccentric people and storylines that not only ask you to bend reality but to pretty much give up on it and go with the outlandish flow that only the mind of Dean Koontz can come up with.

Each book involves a tale that puts Odd’s life in peril so when he lands at Roseland, a West Coast property owned by an eccentric Hollywood mogul, he feels oddly (get the play on words there?) at peace. That is until the spirit of a woman on a black Friesian stallion is desperate to get his attention and help to save a child.

To say that this is where the story takes a strange turn would be an understatement, but once you find out who this boy is and how they are able to keep him at Roseland; the premise tends to bend the imagination quite a bit. Then again, what would a Koontz novel be without a bit of stretching of reality? Surface it to say that you will have to remember a bit of science and an eccentric scientist to make this plotline even slightly plausible.

I have pretty much given up on the other books that Koontz is writing, but there is something very fascinating about Odd Thomas. The dry humor is hysterical and I have found myself going back and rereading sections in hopes that I can remember the quips. The storyline is twisty and Koontz has a history of going off on wild tangents, but I do think that if you remain patient you will appreciate the adventures of Odd Thomas.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Three Graves Full

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Three Graves Full
Author: Jamie Mason
Publisher: Gallery Books (February 12, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Mystery


There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.

But it could always be worse. . . .

More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried.

Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of his crime, and while chaos reigns on his lawn, his sanity unravels, snagged on the agendas of a colorful cast of strangers. A jilted woman searches for her lost fiancĂ©, a fringe dweller runs from a past that’s quickly gaining on him, and a couple of earnest local detectives piece clues together with the help of a volunteer police dog—all in the shadow of a dead man who had it coming. As the action unfolds, each character discovers that knowing more than one side of the story doesn't necessarily rule out a deadly margin of error.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - The Uninvited

Title: The Uninvited
Author: Liz Jensen
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (January 8, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Psychological Thriller / Science Fiction

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

Mass hysterical outbreaks rarely have identifiable inceptions, but the date I recall most vividly is Sunday 16th September, when a young child in butterfly pyjamas slaughtered her grandmother with a nail-gun to the neck. The attack took place in a family living room in a leafy Harrogate cul-de-sac, the kind where no one drops litter and you can still hear birdsong.


A seven-year-old girl puts a nail gun to her grandmother's neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious? As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry.

Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger's Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioral patterns and an outsider's fascination with group dynamics. Nothing obvious connects Hesketh's Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behavior of his beloved stepson, Freddy. But when Hesketh's Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career, and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father. Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mailbox Monday - Mind Your Own Bees Wax

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: Mind Your Own Beeswax
Author: Hannah Reed
Publisher: Berkley (May 3, 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Queen Bee Mystery #2


Story Fischer has her hands full with her successful local market, her Queen Bee Honey business, and her new maybe boyfriend, Hunter Wallace,but being abandoned by a hive looking for better digs puts the busy beekeeper in a bad mood. While Story looks for the hive, the rest of Moraine, Wisconsin is searching for a woman with a checkered past whose return has the whole town buzzing.

When she finds the dead body in the woods, she's in a sticky situation indeed. Story just can't seem to mind her own beeswax. But this time, she might just get stung...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review - The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Title: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Author: William Joyce
Illustrator: William Joyce and Joe Bluhm
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 19, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 56
Genre: Children’s
Source: Library
Ages:4 to adults

When you read the path that this book took to get to publication, it makes the story of Morris Lessmore all the more meaningful.

This tale, like all of William Joyce’s gifts, reaches both the child and the parent on a multitude of levels. The adults see a lonely man become sadder when his rich world of books is decimated by a hurricane and the winds scattered his words. The children giggle and point at the flying books and how the dictionary gets the last word “Zzzzzzzz” when the books go to sleep for the night.

Wandering in a black and white world, color found Morris once again when instead of looking down, he looked up, and drifting through the sky was a beautiful woman being pulled along by flying books.

It is not until the end of the story before you find out who this woman was. You must first witness Morris getting the color back into his life when the books find him and take care of him.

Imagine walking into a room and hearing the books chattering. Telling their stories to each other and cheering each other up. In so sharing themselves, they find that they need Morris as much as he needs them.

This may be a child’s book, but adults will get so much more out of it. Read it over and over; allow it to become a family favorite. I dare you not to smile and sigh when you reach the end.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review - Grounds to Kill

Title: Grounds to Kill
Author: Wendy Roberts
Publisher: Carina Press / Amazon Digital Services(January 7, 2013)
Format: e-book (364 KB)
Genre: Mystery
Series: Barista #1
Source: Amazon Purchase

I am at a loss as to how to classify this book. Just because the lead character is a barista with a dog, does not automatically make this a cozy. The klutziness and bumbling of Jen Hamby keeps me from calling it a typical mystery or suspense. All I can say is think harder edged cozy with a paranormal twist.

Apparently, Jen has a couple of secrets – two of which are the homeless guy across the street is actually her father and two, the spirit world sends her messages though an itchy palm that takes to automatic writing.

These are two hard secrets to keep especially when the lady down the hall (ok so this is also a third secret) is murdered and it looks like her father just might have been there. Jen is desperate to clear her father’s name, but when the dog flyers keep appearing and her itchy palm keeps leaving her messages, Jen has no idea where to turn next.

With the help of her co-worker and friends, a wild goose chase ensues through the streets of Seattle with bodies left scattered and cryptic messages left behind.

When the dust settles and you discover the real story behind Misty’s death, you are left with a “well, this is not a cozy” feel and yet you cannot describe it any other way and cannot wait to get back to the antics of this funny girl with her odd group of friends.

I enjoyed the debut of this new series and look forward to more.