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
Series: A Lighthouse Mystery #3


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.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Ghost Gone Wild

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Ghost Gone Wild
Author: Carolyn Hart
Publisher: Berkley (Oct 1, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Mystery
Series: Bailey Ruth #4


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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - The 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

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

It was as black in the closet as old blood. They had shoved me in and locked the door. I breathed heavily through my nose, fighting desperately to remain calm. I tried counting to ten on every intake of breath, and to eight as I released each one slowly into the darkness. Luckily for me, they had pulled the gag so tightly into my open mouth that my nostrils were left unobstructed, and I was able to draw in one slow lungful after another of the stale, musty air.

I tried hooking my fingernails under the silk scarf that bound my hands behind me, but since I always bit them to the quick, there was nothing to catch. Jolly good luck then that I'd remembered to put my fingertips together, using them as ten firm little bases to press my palms apart as they had pulled the knots tight.

Now I rotated my wrists, squeezing them together until I felt a bit of slack, using my thumbs to work the silk down until the knots were between my palms — then between my fingers. If they had been bright enough to think of tying my thumbs together, I should never have escaped. What utter morons they were.


Flavia de Luce 11 is an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. In the summer of 1950, a series of inexplicable events strikes her home, Buckshaw, a decaying English mansion. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.

To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is jailed for murder. He tells Flavia an astounding story of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, a stolen priceless object, and a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school tower thirty years before. Flavia ties tie two distant deaths together, examines new suspects, and follows the search to the King of England himself

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mailbox Monday - The Yard

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Yard
Author: Alex Grecian
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) (May 29, 2012)
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Suspense / Fiction
Series: Scotland Yard's Murder Squad #1


1890, London. Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror is finally over, but a new one is just beginning…

Victorian London is a cesspool of crime and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives – known as “The Murder Squad” – to investigate countless murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own…one of twelve…

When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad…but why?

In The Yard Alex Grecian offers a meticulously researched vision of the bustling city of London, which teems with Dickensian color. With a masterful talent for storytelling, he weaves multiple narratives that converge in a heart-stopping climax. Filled with fascinating period detail, and real historical figures, The Yard is a spectacular debut in a new series showcasing the depravity of the late Victorian city, the advent of criminology, and introduces a stunning new cast of characters sure to appeal to fans of Caleb Carr and Jed Rubenfeld.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review - Books Can Be Deceiving

Title: Books Can Be Deceiving
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: Berkley (July 2011)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 282
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Library lover’s Mystery #1

As the season begins to change, I find myself going back to cozy mysteries - there is something about cooler weather that draws me to these books.

Lindsay Norris is the new Director of the Briar Creek Public Library and has a wonderful staff in place, except for Ms Lemon Face herself, but Ms Cole does come in handy in the most unexpected moment. Additional staff and community volunteers round out the group including Lindsay’s exuberant children’s librarian Beth who has been working for years on a children’s book of her own, so when a New York editor is in town, Lindsay finagles a bit and sets up a meeting.

Little did everyone know that not all players in this escapade are who and what they appear to be. When Beth has a very public break up with boyfriend Rick, an accomplished writer and illustrator himself, all fingers point in the apparent wrong direction when his body is found stabbed to death in his home on a small island.

Lindsay takes it upon herself to straighten out this whole mess before she has to take over Beth’s duties and lead yet another story time with the stinky twins.

When the book began, the reader is thrown right into the middle of the weekly crafternoon group, a mix of women that meet to discuss their current book while working on a craft project and eating whatever has been brought in for snacks. I had a bit of a problem keeping everyone straight but soon that took care of itself as each person settled into their place in the story.

Overall, I liked the beginning of the series, even though the characters were a bit commonplace, the story flowed with only a couple of hiccups. For instance, in a town where no one locks their front doors, why were Lindsay and Beth spending so much time locking up their bicycles? What did Nancy’s storyline of walking the widow’s peak of her home have to do with the movement of the storyline?

Maybe I am being overly fussy and this would not standout to others, but I found it to be strangely distracting.

Overall, this will be a keeper series for me. I liked the flow and feel of the town and its people and in a way, it reminded me of Macomber’s Cedar Cove series but with a murder in the middle.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
Author: Jill Lepore
Publisher: Knopf (October 1, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 464
Genre: Biography


A portrait of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister and a history of history itself. Like her brother, Jane Franklin was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator. Unlike him, she was a mother of twelve.

Benjamin Franklin, who wrote more letters to his sister than he wrote to anyone else, was the original American self-made man; his sister spent her life caring for her children. They left very different traces behind. Making use of an amazing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore brings Jane Franklin to life in a way that illuminates not only this one woman but an entire world—a world usually lost to history. Lepore’s life of Jane Franklin, with its strikingly original vantage on her remarkable brother, is at once a wholly different account of the founding of the United States and one of the great untold stories of American history and letters: a life unknown.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - 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

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

I have heard it said, by those that cannot possibly know, that in the final moments of a man’s existence he sees his whole life pass before his eyes. If that were so, a cynic might assume William Bellman’s last moments to have been spent contemplating anew the lengthy series of calculations, contracts, and business deals that made up his existence. In fact, as he approached the border with that other place – border toward which we will all find our path turning sooner or later – his thoughts were drawn to those who had already crossed into that unknown territory: his wife, three of his children, his uncle, cousin, and some childhood friends. Having remembered these lost, dear ones and being still some moments from death, there was time for one last act of remembrance. What he unearthed, after it had lain buried some forty years in the archaeology of his mind, was a rook.

Let me explain:


Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . . Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review - South Beach Diet Gluten Solution

Title: The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Gluten-Aware Plan for Losing Weight and Feeling Great--Fast
Author: Arthur Agatston and Natalie Geary
Publisher: Rodale Books (April 2, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 272
Genre: Healthcare and Cookbook
Source: Library

Recently I have been experiences some strange reactions to food so when I came across this book I began to wonder if there really was anything to the whole gluten sensitivity thing.

The beginning of this book is very fascinating, explaining how gluten reacts with some sensitive people and how just cutting back you can begin to notice some real changes in your mind and body. Not all people are affected by gluten but those that are can experience some life changing reactions.

Lists of foods that can be eaten in both phase one and phase two of the eating plan are provided with easy to follow meal suggestions. Not all lunch plans are portable, so if you are like me and bring your lunch to work you will have to rethink a couple suggestions.

There is a helpful section on dining out and traveling. The book ends with recipes and a resource and bibliography section.

I am not completely sure that gluten is my personal issue, but looking at ingredient lists now, it is surprising to me where gluten based items can be found. I am not going to jump on the gluten bandwagon just yet, but it does open your eyes to possibilities and solutions.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Mrs. Poe

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Mrs. Poe
Author: Lynn Cullen
Publisher: Gallery Books (October 1, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 336
Genre: Historical Fiction


A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late...

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Books Can Be Deceiving

Title: Books Can Be Deceiving
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: July 5th 2011 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 269 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Library Lover's Mystery #1

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

“Oh, I just love that Maxim de Winter,” Violet La Rue said, her knitting needles clicking together as if to emphasize her words. “He gives me the shivers.”

“Him?” Nancy Peyton asked. “He’s not nearly as scary as Mrs. Danvers.”

Lindsey Norris glanced up from her knitting at the two ladies sitting across the circle from her. It was crafternoon Thursday, where members of the crafternoon club gathered at the Briar Creek Library to do a craft, currently they were knitting, and discuss the assigned book of the week. Lindsey was the director of the library and this group had been one of her ideas to make the Briar Creek Library the place to be in the small town. Unfortunately, she had discovered that her ability to knit and talk at the same time was about as good as her ability to pat her head and rub her tummy at the same time. Which meant it took great effort and the results were not pretty. “Oh, that Mrs. Danvers,” Violet clucked. “Someone should push her out of a window.”


Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey's friend Beth wants to sell the editor her children's book, but Beth's boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he's found murdered-and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast before they throw the book at the wrong person.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mailbox Monday - The Cove

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: The Cove
Author: Ron Rash
Publisher: April 10th 2012 by Ecco
Format: Hardcover, 255 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.

Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.

But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything–and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review - Every Cowgirl Goes to School

Title: Every cowgirl Goes to School
Author: Rebecca Janni
Illustrator: Lynne Avril
Publisher: Dial (June 27, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children’s
Source: Library
Publisher Recommended Ages: 3 - 5 years; Preschool to Kindergarten

The first day of school is not easy and for cowgirl Nellie Sue, this day is turning into the worst of her life.

Dressed to impress with her boots and pink sparkly cowgirl hat, Nellie Sue runs to the bus only to discover that all the seats are taken and her best friend Anna is sitting with a new girl. Arriving at school, she realizes her desk is in the far back corner of the room and the J-twins are creating a hassle. Boots are not allowed on the gym floor and to top it off, that new girl Maya drew a picture that makes Nellie look like a cow.

A complete misunderstanding helps two girls to become new friends and by the end of the day, Nellie Sue is not feeling so bad.

Intended for preschool to kindergarten, I think the storyline would be very helpful for those days when your young one comes home a bit grouchy because their day did not go as planned. Beautiful illustrations and positive ending will showcase that with resilience good can come at the end of a very long and difficult day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Review - Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook

Title: Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook
Author: Weight Watchers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (December 20, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 384
Genre: Cookbook

Looking for a way to add to my fall and winter menus, I picked up The WeightWatchers One Pot Cookbook. This book is broken up into multiple types of single pots – skillet, wok, saucepan, roasting pan, casserole dish, slow cooker, grill, baking pan, etc, I was drawing to the section on Dutch ovens.

I chose two recipes to try out – No-Fuss French-Style Beef Stew and the Chicken in White Wine – which is also the front cover photo.

Both recipes were very rounded in flavor but neither turned out the way the photos showed even though I followed the recipes exactly as written.

The French-Style stew came out very watery and not as dry as the photo shows. I had to use a flour and water paste to thicken it. I served it with French bread for dipping and the meal was just right for the rainy day that I had served it.

The next week, I made the Chicken in White Wine. This was excellent. Once again, it did not come out as the picture showed, but this recipe will make the perfect base for any stew. You can change up the meat and vegetables and it is still going to be perfect. I think the white wine is optional so it will be up to you if you want to use it or just increase the broth.

Looking over the remaining sections and pictures, this will be a fun cookbook to breakout over the next couple of months and see how I can add to my menus for the upcoming seasons.

I did not choose this cookbook solely for the WeightWatchers name or the PointsPlus Values that accompanies each recipe. I was looking for new healthier options and I think that this book will offer what I am looking for.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review - As the Pig Turns

Title: As the Pig Turns
Author: M. C. Beaton
Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (October 11, 2011)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 292
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Agatha Raisin #22

I am convinced that MC Beaton does not use a plotting outline when she sits down to writer her books in the Agatha Raisin series. Any book that begins with Mrs. Bloxby convinced that her husband is having an affair, an idea that is never revisited, and ends with the Bulgarian mafia, leaves the reader wondering if there is any pre-thought or just the ramblings of a bored writer.

The Agatha Raisin series is one that I revisit often since there is no deep thought needed to get through them. The same characters are in every book; the plotline, though convoluted, is easy to follow and the reader does not have to invest too deeply to get to the end.

Slightly bored with her detective agency, Agatha gathers a group of her friends to visit Winter Parva a local Cotswold village. The group gathers around a pig roasting only to hear Agatha exclaim, “Pigs don’t have tattoos”. Thus begins Agatha latest adventure when it is discovered that the pig roasting is a much disliked police officer.

Add in an ex-wife, cosmetic surgery, leather goods, errant boyfriends back from the army, a cancelled wedding, Charles having more feelings that he likes for Agatha, James not liking the idea that Agatha might actually be over him. In addition, Toni trying to find a new job, Bill Wong not sure that he should date someone within the police force, stolen farm equipment, and a new gardener.

Really, the stuff that was thrown into this less than 300 page book is mindboggling.

You have to take Agatha Raisin with a grain of salt (I just love some of those old idioms) and realize that they are not literature, but a way to spend a few hours away from your own realities.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - The Songs of Willow Frost

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Songs of Willow Frost
Author: Jamie Ford
Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 10, 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 352
Genre: Fiction


Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph - Ice Cold Kill

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

Hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

Chapter 1

Desert, South of the Sea of Galilee

The prisoners lay in their cots. It was one cot per cell. The cells were slightly larger than a bad room at a youth hostel or a kibbutz. Each had its own heater, a little partition between the cell doors, and a toilet. Really, as cells go, these weren’t bad.

Asher Sahar lay on his back, ankles crossed, hands steepled on his chest. He wore a ratty sweater and ratty jeans and slippers. He spoke with a soft, sibilant whisper. “‘I’ll Be Seeing You.’”

In the next cell, a grizzly bear of a man lay in the same posture, ankles crossed, hands steepled. His feet hung off the end of his cot. His name was Eli Schullman. He replied, “Irving Kahal.”


Daria Gibron is a woman with a deadly past and an uncertain future. A former Shin-Bet agent now in exile in the U.S. and under the protection of the F.B.I., she works primarily as an interpreter. But Daria is a thrill junkie who can't resist the occasional freelance job as an operative—a habit that has left her with a trail of corpses behind her, and a few still living, very dangerous, high-powered enemies who would stop at nothing to get revenge.

En route to an impromptu meeting with an old contact from her days in the Israeli Secret Service, Daria gets an unexpected and anonymous tipoff that she's about to walk into an ambush. Unsure who is after her, or why, she slips away from her followers and soon learns that she's been set up—and set up good. Someone has linked her to a much sought-after terrorist, and now all the resources of the U.S. intelligence community are being marshaled against her.

As she tries to escape the ever-tightening snare laid out for her, someone else is using the operation against her as a distraction to hijack a very dangerous, highly guarded shipment. Now the only person who can keep this shipment from falling into terrorist hands is the one person they chose to set up as a diversion. Daria Gibron is many things—trigger-happy, resourceful, focused, and extremely dangerous —but the one thing she isn't is anybody's fool.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mailbox Monday - A House to Die For

Currently on a Blog Tour with a New Host Each Month

Title: A House to Die for
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK; 1 edition (April 8, 2010)
Format: Trade Paperback; Pgs 318
Genre: Mystery
Series: A Darby Farr Mystery (Book 1)


Red-hot real estate agent Darby Farr has spent years trying to forget her hometown of Hurricane Harbor, Maine--especially the painful memories of being raised by her controlling aunt following her parents' tragic deaths. Then one morning, she learns her aunt is dying, and the calculating woman has one final demand: clinch the multimillion-dollar sale of Fairview, a breathtaking waterfront estate.

The deal seems simple, but trouble is brewing on the rocky coast. Within hours of Darby's arrival, an obscure deed restriction scuttles the sale just as the backup buyer is found bludgeoned to death on the property's grounds. Assisted by handsome journalist Miles Porter, Darby uncovers dark secrets that reveal an ugly scandal . . . and even uglier motives for murder. As a brutal storm surges up the coast, Darby must salvage the deal, find the killer--and somehow stay alive.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review - Too Rich and Too Dead

Title: Too Rich and Too Dead
Author: Cynthia Baxter
Publisher: Bantam (March 24, 2009)
Format: Paperback; Pgs 336
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: Library
Series: Murder Packs a Mystery #2

For me, Cynthia Baxter’s Murder Packs a Suitcase series is more about location than murder mystery. The “who-did-it” is secondary to the travel brochure feel that lead character Mallory Marlowe imparts on her readers.

Mallory Marlowe, a recent widow, is a travel writer for The Good Life magazine, wanting to introduce her readers to Aspen, Colorado, she takes a different approach - Aspen for the non-skier. A curious angle made even more temping when an old high school acquaintance lives in the area and is famous for a new health drink called Rejuva-Juice. All is not well in this swanky town when Carly Cassidy Berman is found murdered.

Like her previous book, Murder Packs a Suitcase – taking place in Orlando, Florida, Cynthia Baxter takes the reader on a guided tour of Aspen in the guise of finding Carly’s killer. The book does show its age a bit with references to now deceased celebrities, but that is okay, the atmosphere makes up for that.

As you read the book, any number of people could have killed Carly, she was not liked and the rich and famous – and those who tag along – are only after one thing. Who had the most to gain from this fountain of youth in a bottle, and who was willing to kill for it?

Unfortunately, this series ended after just two book, but Cynthia Baxter can be found through her other series, Reigning Cats and Dogs.