Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Last Alibi

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Last Alibi
Author: David Ellis
Publisher: Putnam Adult (August 1, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 480
Genre: Suspense
Series: A Jason Kolarich Novel (Book 4)


James Drinker is a bit of an oddball. A funny-looking, geeky loner, he walks into Jason Kolarich’s office one day with a preemptive concern: two women have recently been murdered, seemingly by the same killer, and Drinker thinks he will be the police’s main suspect. One woman was his ex-girlfriend, he says, and the other was a friend. He’s the only link between the victims and he has no alibi for the night of either murder --- surely the police will realize it soon. Believing he’s the target of a frame-up, Drinker hires Kolarich for his defense.

Something about James Drinker seems off from the start, but Kolarich doesn’t give it too much thought. Until another murder occurs. And then another. And as he begins to probe his client’s life and story more closely, it quickly becomes clear that nothing about James Drinker is what it seems . . . and that the target of the frame-up isn’t Drinker, but Kolarich.

Unable to stop a serial killer --- and prove his own innocence --- without breaking his sworn attorney-client privilege, Jason Kolarich must hunt for the truth about James Drinker, the series of brutal murders, and why he’s been set up to take the fall. The answers will be beyond anything he could have imagined.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Requiem

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 5, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 432
Genre: Teen Fiction - Futuristic
Source: Purchase
Series: Delirium #3

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

"I've started dreaming of Portland again.

Since Alex reappeared, resurrected but also changed, twisted,like a monster from one of the ghost stories we used to tell as kids, the past has been finding its way in. It bubbles up through the cracks when I'm not paying attention, and pulls me with it's greedy fingers.

This is what they warned me about for all those years: the heavy weight in my chest, the nightmare-fragments that follow me even in the waking life.

I warned you, Aunt Carol says in my head.

We told you, Rachel says.

You should have stayed. That's Hana, reaching out across an expanse of time, through the murky-thick layers of memory, stretching a weightless hand to me as I am sinking."


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.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday - The Invisible Ones

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Invisible Ones
Author: Stef Penney
Publisher: Putnam Adult (January 5, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 416
Genre: Suspense


Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance. . . .

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: One Dish Vegan

Title: One-Dish Vegan: More than 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Easy and Delicious One-Bowl and One-Plate Dinners
Author: Robin Robertson
Publisher: Harvard Common Press (September 10, 2013)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 208
Genre: Cookbook
Source: Amazon Vine

If people are programmed to eat with their eyes first, why do some cookbooks not have pictures? That has always been a confusion to me. Give me big glossy pictures and I am more likely to purchase the cookbook and attempt the meals in hope that they come out looking and tasting the way they were intended. Cookbook authors put in a great deal of work into getting a final product out so give the reader pictures; let us see what they have strived so hard for.

OK, that rant is over, but now we are on to the next.

Porcini powder, vital wheat gluten, wheat-free tamari, tempeh - as you can tell, some of the recipes in this book are not your usual throw it in a pot and stir instructions. There is thought and a really good natural food market involved in getting the final product on the table. I do not want to turn you off this book, there are also many less complicated and very tasty sounding recipes that involved easy to find supermarket items.

The book is divided into eight chapters from Robin Robertson’s definition of one-pot cooking and prep, to soups, salads, stews, chili, sautés and pasta. The final chapter is oven to table, which translates to baked dishes.

You do not have to be a vegan to appreciate this book. Sometimes you want to include meatless and dairy less fare for you family and this is a good place to start.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review - Fleet Street Murders

Title: Fleet Street Murders
Author: Charles Finch
Publisher: Minotaur Books (November 10, 2009)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Historial Mystery
Source: Purchase
Series:Charles Lennox Mysteries #3

It must be a phase that I am going through since I have not had much luck with books recently.

Fleet Street Murders has multiple storylines and I found myself drawn to one more than the rest and was bothered with all the bouncing around. It is Christmas 1866, Charles Lennox and Lady Jane Grey are wanting to celebrate together but Charles is forced to leave for Stirrington where he is running for a Parliamentary seat. At the same time, there are two murders in London that seem at first blush to be unrelated, yet Charles is piecing information together that makes them all but unrelated. While all of this is going on, their best friends, Toto and McConnell are going through a personal crisis and Charles wants to be there to help them through. Charles cannot be everywhere but with the help of his butler Graham, he seems to bounce around quite well and in the end, all is right with the world.

The series is atmospheric and full of humor, but this particular book is too scattered. Two of the storylines would have sufficed, but the interweaving of the three was too distracting.

I loved the first book, was okay with the second and this one just left me with the so-so feeling. I guess once a year I will drag out a Charles Lennox just to check back in with Lady Grey, the only character worth following in this series.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review - Countdown City

Title: Countdown City
Author: Ben H. Winters
Publisher: Quirk Books (July 16, 2013)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 320
Genre: Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine
Series:Last Policeman #2

I have come to realize that I have been putting off this review because I just did not like the book. I enjoyed the first book in this series, the Last Policeman, the pace of that book kept me tuned in to Henry Palace and the impending doom.

Sorry to say that midway through Countdown City, I found myself picking up other books and then going back to this one. Something was missing. The book was lagging and dragging and I was forcing myself to finish. It almost felt as if Ben Winters did not have a definitive destination for this book.

Henry Palace, a pseudo police office, had agreed to look for Brett Cavatone, the missing husband of his childhood babysitter. Apparently, Brett is the perfect person so when he disappears Martha Milano knows something is wrong. Why would a state trooper leave his job to go to work for his father in law’s pizza place and then out of the blue disappear?

What is wrong is that an asteroid is hurtling to earth and civilization has gone on a bit of a hiatus. If people have not down right left to fulfill their bucket lists, they have basically given up and are just waiting for the next seventy-four days until the big one hits. That is all except Henry, for some reason he is still going to work everyday and taking on cases that no one else cares about.

With the help of his sister Nico, who is a bit off her proverbial rocker, they head out to find Brett. I am still trying to figure out the reverting to hippie communes, but Nico and Henry find themselves on the University of New Hampshire campus, where their investigation has lead them in their search.

As the duo continues searching for Brett, Henry is subjected to listening to his sister’s conspiracy theories as to why the government is not stepping up and destroying this asteroid. Really? Poor Henry, all he wants to do is find the missing man and get his sister to shut-up for five minutes. See, this is what happens when you offer to help a friend.

Now is the part that I have to admit that the last one hundred pages or so were very good. The storyline grabbed hold and it was a race to the end. Unfortunately, you will have to suffer your way through two hundred plus pages to get to the real meat of the story. Not only that, but you might also have to admit the wacky Nico just might be on to something.

For me, this book was all over the place, the storyline felt disjointed. Characters come and go and I as the reader was a bit confused as to whom I should be paying attention to. This book felt like the common “throw it all against the wall and see what sticks” and then rebuild from there approach to writing a book.

There is humor, very dark humor, but still I did find myself laughing, unfortunately that was not enough for me to say that this was as good as the first. I sure hope that Ben pulls it together by the final installment and he had better not pull a “just kidding, the asteroid is not going to hit after all and we can go back to who we were before the impending doom of Maia”.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Frog Under an Umbrella

Sometimes you run across a picture that makes you stop and wonder

(Credit: Penkdix Palme / Newsteam / SWNS)

Penkdix Palme, a 27-year-old photographer from Indonesia, found this intelligent little tree frog in his neighbor's garden, SWNS reported. Palme, who took up photography just six months ago, said the frog stayed under its leaf-umbrella for an entire 30 minutes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mailbox Monday - The Lavender Garden

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Lavender Garden
Author: Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (June 11, 2013)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 462
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Simon and Schuster


An aristocratic French family, a legendary château, and buried secrets with the power to destroy two generations torn between duty and desire.La Côte d’Azur, 1998: In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinières, the last of her gilded line, inherits her childhood home, a magnificent château and vineyard. With the property comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions . . .

Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.

As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the château itself may provide the clues that unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. Here is a dazzling novel of intrigue and passion from one of the world’s most beloved storytellers.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Review - Ruth's First Christmas Tree

Title: Ruth’s First Christmas Tree
Author: Elly Griffith’s
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (November 12th 2012 )
Format: Online Short Story; Pgs 25
Genre: Fiction
Source: Online / Download
Series: Ruth Galloway #4.5

When a good idea goes nowhere. That was my first thought when I finished this very short story. Ruth is determined to give her young daughter Kate a traditional holiday, but things are not quite working out. The tree that she has picked out has disappeared with the vendor, her babysitter is suddenly unavailable, her to-do list is growing and nothing is quite falling into place.

One of the things that I did like about this story was Cathbad’s reciting of traditional Christmas symbols and where their roots came from. Like all of Elly Griffiths’' books, there is a history lesson for anyone that is willing to take the time to digest what is being taught.

The story ends on a bit of a dangler. A missing piece of wood, from the henge timbers, is missing from the museum display and Ruth stumbles upon it in a most unlikely place.

I am not sure if this is a lead up to another book or just an idea that never materialize, but for a quick read and a Christmas feel, it is good. I just wish that it had gone somewhere.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Deadly Forecast

Title: Deadly Forecast
Author: Victoria Laurie
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (July 2, 2013))
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 384
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Source: Library
Series:Psychic Eye Mystery #11

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

The first thing I noticed after regaining consciousness was a splitting headache and how uncomfortable I was. My head throbbed, but more than that, my body felt wrapped in iron. With effort I tried to sit up, and so many realizations sprinted into my brain that it made the ache in my head even worse.

The ensuing dump of adrenaline quashed much of the headache, but I was hardly relieved. My fingers found the metal cage wrapped around my torso, and also the wires poking out from a device centered over my heart.


It's said to be good luck if it rains on your wedding day, but Abby sees something darker than storm clouds on the horizon. She’s just had a disturbing premonition of her fiancé’s murder. Her husband-to-be has been assigned to a case involving a series of suicide bombings, and Abby’s spirit guides warn her of imminent danger.

FBI agent Dutch Rivers is keeping his cool, but Abby can’t quell her anxiety. After another suicide bombing at a local beauty salon, Abby vows to do everything in her power to keep Dutch safe and get him to the altar. But on the morning of the ceremony, she finds herself in a dire situation with time running out…

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mailbox Monday - The Crown

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Crown
Author: Nancy Bilyeau
Publisher: Touchstone (January 10, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 416
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Johanna Stafford #1


An aristocratic young nun must find a legendary crown in order to save her father -- and preserve the Catholic faith from Cromwell’s ruthless terror. The year is 1537. . . — Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic -- a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.

But Dartford Priory has become a dangerous place, and when more than one dead body is uncovered, Joanna departs with a sensitive young monk, Brother Edmund, to search elsewhere for the legendary crown. From royal castles with tapestry-filled rooms to Stonehenge to Malmesbury Abbey, the final resting place of King Athelstan, Joanna and Brother Edmund must hurry to find the crown if they want to keep Joanna’s father alive. At Malmesbury, secrets of the crown are revealed that bring to light the fates of the Black Prince, Richard the Lionhearted, and Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, Arthur. The crown’s intensity and strength are beyond the earthly realm and it must not fall into the wrong hands.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must now decide who she can trust with the secret of the crown so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Review - Polar Opposites

Title: Polar Opposites
Author and Illustrator: Erik Brooks
Publisher: Two Lions (September 1, 2010)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 30
Genre: Children's
Source: Amazon Publishing
Ages: Read aloud - 4+; Self reader 6 - 8

I admit it, back in elementary school, I was that kid who could not keep Arctic and Antarctic straight. Therefore, I was looking for a book that would help to explain, in pictures, an easy way to keep it straight. Some children need a visual to set ideas. Unfortunately, this is not that type of book.

Erik Brooks uses the term polar opposites to show personality and trait opposites.

Alex might be a big polar from the Arctic and Zina a tiny penguin from Antarctic, but what makes them individuals has nothing to do with them being the polar opposites that I was looking for.

What Mr. Brooks is trying to show, is that no matter where you come from, no matter how neat or messy or loud or quiet, there is a way to meet in the middle and become friends.

If you are looking for a “can’t we all just get along” type of book, this is would be it. If you are looking for a visual type of book that explains the differences between the two poles, this will not fit the bill.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Starting Now

Title: Starting Now
Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 2, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 352
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Source: Library
Series: Blossom Street #11

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

This was it.

Surely it must be. The instant Libby Morgan heard her paralegal tell her “Hershel would like to see you in his office,” she knew. Oh, there’d been rumblings around the office about layoffs and early retirements. Such gossip simply verified what she felt in her heart Hershel was sure to tell her. She’d waited for this moment for six very long years.


For years Libby Morgan dreamed only of making partner in her competitive, high-pressure law firm. She sacrificed everything for her career—her friends, her marriage, her chance at creating a family. When her boss calls Libby into his office, she assumes it will finally be good news, but nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality: She’s been let go and must rebuild her entire life . . . starting now.

With no job prospects in sight, Libby reaches out to old friends and spends her afternoons at A Good Yarn, the local knitting store. There she forms a close bond with Lydia, the sweet-natured shop owner; Lydia’s spirited teenage daughter, Casey; and Casey’s best friend, Ava, a shy yet troubled girl who will shape Libby’s future in surprising and profound ways.

As A Good Yarn becomes a second home—and the women a new kind of family—Libby relishes the different person she’s become. She even finds time for romance with a charming and handsome doctor who seems to be her perfect match. But just as everything is coming together, Libby must make a choice that could forever change the life she holds so dear.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mailbox Monday - Nurse Matilda

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda
Author: Christianna Brand
Illustrated By: Edward Ardizzone
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (November 5, 2007)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 382
Genre: Pre-Teen
Source: Paperbackswap. Com
Series: Nurse Matilda


The Brown children are terribly, terribly naughty - unbelievably naughty. All the nannies and nursery-maids and governesses in the directory are called upon to implement some kind of order in the house but, inevitably, they are soon driven to distraction and of course leave having had absolutely no positive effect on the children's indefatigable resource of mischief and anti-social conduct - all much to Mr and Mrs Brown's horror and dismay. But apparently there is one last resort... What you need is Nurse Matilda.

Nurse Matilda
Nurse Matilda Goes to Town
Nurse Matilda Goes to Hospital

Nurse Matilda is the inspiration for the Nanny McPhee movies