Monday, June 30, 2014

Diva Wraps It Up

Title: The Diva Wraps It Up
Author: Krista Davis
Published: June 3rd 2014 by Berkley
Format: Paperback; Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Domestic Diva #8

By the time that I had finished this book, I was convinced that I needed one of those murder boards with the string running from picture to picture as they do on television crime dramas to keep everything straight.

To say that Diva Wraps It Up is twisty is an understatement, it is downright confusing and you just might need to keep index cards or a family tree going to keep straight who is married to whom and who is the parent of whom and who is, was or might be dating.

The story begins with Horace showing off a knife only to have that knife plunged into him as he falls from his office balcony during a Christmas party in Old Towne Virginia. Thus begins the antics that are at the crux of Krista Davis’s Domestic Diva Mysteries.

The old favorites are there and now a new batch of neighbors is added to the mix. With a wobbly balcony, broken ladders, faulty wiring and a neighbor found dead wrapped in holiday paper – Sophie Winston is going to have her hand full trying to sort this out by the evening of the neighborhood block party.

At least the murderer was not obvious from the beginning, but that was only due to the multiple storylines that were going on. I swear I spent most of this book trying to figure out how everyone was related, how Sophie always seemed to have enough groceries in her house without running to the market, and if she was a party planner why did she not have parties to coordinate during the holiday season. Most importantly, with no visible means of employment, how could she afford the never-ending outfits that she was donning.

I know, I am easily distracted, but the story was so convoluted that I had to amuse myself with the simpler things. It was either that or draw pictures in the margins of the book to remind me of the interpersonal relations or constantly run to the kitchen for a snack every time she sat people down at her table for yet another mountain of food and beverage.

Overall, I enjoy the Domestic Diva series, the interaction between Sophie and Natasha usually has more bite, but hopefully, Ms. Davis’s next book will get Natasha back to her usual shenanigans when she realizes that Mars is starting to pay more attention to his ex-wife then he should.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Title: Froodle
Author and Illustrator: Antoinette Portis
Published: May 6th, 2014 by Roaring Book Press
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children's
Ages: Age Level: 4 - 8 | Grade Level: P - 3

The same old tunes are beginning to bother Little Brown Bird so she decides to change it up a bit. What if instead of saying peep, she sang a different song? What is she started by rhyming nonsensical songs?

Afraid of the fallout from the big black crow, others in the neighborhood try to convince Little Brown Bird to fall in line. What if the cardinal and the dove just tried something contrary? Could that help the crow to see things differently?

This is a very interesting story about not having to fit in. That individuality can be fun. Little Brown Bird is not hurting anyone, she just does not always want to play by the rules that others have set and with her positive spark maybe others will try to branch out a little bit too.

This is a good story for your little readers that do not necessarily fit the norm. We have all come across children that follow a different tune and this book just might help them to feel that it is ok.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Walking on Water

Title: Walking on Water
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Publisher: May 6th 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Inspirational
Series: The Walk #5

Let’s go for a walk. What a great way to end this series.

In the fifth and final book in the Walk Series, Alan Christoffersen is rushing back home to be with his father who has had a sudden heart attack. While staying at his family home, Alan comes across a family history that his father has been writing since Alan began his journey from Seattle to Key West.

If you have been reading this series from the beginning, you know that Alan’s world was upended when his wife died suddenly, his business partner stole his clients and Alan was forced into bankruptcy. Though they are all traumatic events, if it were not for each one of them, if he had not taken that first step in a three thousand mile journey, Alan would not have found the beauty that the world offers.

As Alan learns of his family history, and reaches his final destination, his world is coming together. He is saying goodbye to the most important people in his life and at the same time, saying hello to a person that he thought he had lost forever.

Though Alan Christofferson is a fictional character, he offers inspiration. When his physical goal looks as if it is unattainable, he does not give up. His journey is a metaphor for hope – that one bend in the road that might give him the answer, that one thing that will explain it all and make it worthwhile. Does he find it? What he fines is his new reality, his new peace, his new meaning.

Off course there are religious overtones, and undertones, but for me they were not intolerable. The Walk Series is a journal and the stories that AIan tells of his journey and the people that he meets along the way correspond with stories within the Bible. Some say that they felt that Alan was trying to compare his journey with the journey of Jesus, but that did not jump out at me. What I saw was perseverance. What I saw was the choice of giving up or moving forward.

I did enjoyed taking this walk with Alan and would look forward to many more if only Richard Paul Evans would offer them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

All Fudged Up

Title: All Fudged Up
Author: Nancy Coco
Publisher: November 5th 2013 by Kensington
Format: Paperback, Pgs 352
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Candy Coated Mystery #1

Would a person actually hide Joe Jessop’s body in the utility closet for the sole purpose of getting a leg up in the highly competitive world of hotels and fudge on Mackinac Island? That is what Allie McMurphy is about to find out when she returns home after spending two years in culinary school to run the McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shoppe - her Papa Liam’s pride and joy.

With a crumbling ceiling, half-completed renovations, and failure around the corner, Allie is scrambling to find out who is responsible and get her family’s business open in time for the tourist season.

You have to love cozy mysteries with their quirky premise and their typical characters, but love some of them I do.

Considering Joe had a habit of sneaking into the hotel to play pranks on Liam, Allie is confused as to why this annual ritual would continue once Liam was dead. Was it a practical joke that cause his death or is there something more sinister afoot? More importantly, why do people think that Allie has something to do with it?

Add to that the bloodstain found under the old carpeting (which by the end of the book was never readdressed) and the island’s inhabitants taking sides by wearing either purple or green ribbons to show their loyalty to either Allie or the Jessop family, has Allie reconsidering her lifelong plan of becoming a permanent island resident.

It is up to Allie and police officer Rex Manning, whom she considers a real life action figure, to put an end to this speculation and get the hotel and fudge shoppe up and running before the grand opening in three short weeks. So when a secret passage way is discovered, old bottles of wine are found leaking and another body shows up in the pool, life gets complicated for this new hotelier.

With items mentioned but not later addressed, a three month old puppy that appears to take center stage, the repetition of how tall a person was prior to their aging and shrinking, plus the never ending comments of how “the dog has some growing up to do before she counts as protection”, or repeated remarks regarding the puppies dark button eyes - grew tiring. Despite that, with a few tweaks, I think that this series may have the potential to make it past the usual three book run that cozies are given.

Friday, June 20, 2014


Title: Maple
Author and Illustrator: Lori Nichols
Published: February 20th 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children's
Ages: 3 - 5 years; Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten

This is a sweet story of a little girl that in honor of her impending birth, her parents planted a maple tree in their backyard. Because it just seemed right, the little girl was named Maple and the two began to grow up together.

This little tree became her friend, they entertained each other and sometimes, the tree would dance just for her.

As time passed, a new little tree appeared; just about the same time, that Maple’s mother announced that Maple would become a big sister. Little Maple tried to be the best big sister that she could, she shared her toys and entertained her little sister. Sometimes, it is hard to give everything to a baby that they think they need. On those days, it is best to just sit under a tree and look up to see what the tree has in store for you.

Gorgeous illustrations enhance this simple story of happiness and positivity that are so necessary to young children. This book is a shelf keeper that will one day have your young ones asking for their own adventures under their very own tree.

A follow up to this book, Maple and Willow Together, will be published in November 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Turn to Stone

Title: Turn to Stone
Author: Brian Freeman
Published: February 18th 2014 by Quercus
Format: ebook Pgs 224
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Jonathan Stride #5.6

This is exactly why I dislike half books. They seem never ending.

Detective Jonathan Stride is one his way home to Duluth, Minnesota and decides to make a quick stop at his mother’s grave. As he is preparing to leave, a local sheriff’s car pulls up and before Stride can approach this man, the officer pulls out his gun and shoots himself.

Darn, now what is he supposed to do? Well, being Stride, he can leave no death unturned and finds himself in the middle of a bumbling investigation that leads to one, then two and possibly three reasons for this suicide.

Why did Brian Freeman drag out this story? You’re guess is as good as mine, but I am leaning towards one explanation would make this a short story, two explanations make it a short novella, but three, darn, that just might get people to buy a half book before the next full novel is ready for release.

I might be a bit skeptical, but this book offered nothing to the devoted Jonathan Stride fans.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dead Ever After

Title: Dead Ever After
Author: Charlaine Harris
Published: May 7th, 2013 by Ace
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 338
Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #13

I may be in the minority, but I did like how this series ended. I enjoyed how Charlaine Harris brought together many characters from the previous books and ended the series in as close to a happily ever after as Sookie could hope for.

Throughout the previous twelve books, Sookie has made her fair share of enemies so when a couple of them team up to frame her of murder, and later abduct her to get rid of her once and for all, her true friends come to her aid and hopefully the wild ride that is Sookie’s life can find some peace.

My favorite characters have made a reappearance in this book – Sookie’s demon godfather, Desmond Cataliades and his niece Diantha, “Barry the Bellboy”, Amelia, Bob, and Quinn. I wish Hunter could have been featured, but he really would not have fit into this storyline.

Eric is bound in marriage to Freyda for two hundred years, but in his deal, he has negotiated that no vampire will bring harm to Sookie. This is definitely a reprieve that she could use and in a surprising turn of events, she rescinds his invitation to her home.

Both Eric and Bill are out of the picture so that leave just one person for Sookie. When I first started this series, this is the person that I hoped she would end up with and I guess the author picked up on my vibes, because as I had said, Sookie received her happily ever after. Plus there seems to be a win fall of money and she will be able to fix up her grandmother’s home and get back to work at Merlotte’s.

I am going to miss this series; it was my go to when I wanted humor and wacky. I became invested in Sookie’s life and what she had to deal with to help her friends. After a while, it stopped being about her psychic “disability” and more about helping friends. They all might have been supernatural, of one type or another, but they were friends, even Pam – who had some of the funniest lines throughout this whole series.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bad Bye, Good Bye

Title: Good Bye, Bad Bye
Author: Sarah Underwood
Illustrator: Jonathan Bean
Published: April 1st 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 32
Genre: Children's
Ages: 4 - 8 years: Grade Level: Preschool - 3

Moving is a bad day for a little boy and his family. A bad truck and a bad guy taking his things. A bad wave good- bye to a best friend.

As the family travels the feelings change, there are good things to see and to experience. Blue Pool, ice machines. All leading up to a new town, a new street, a new house and a new kid.

In the beginning, the dreary and dark illustrations emphasize the text. Your child will feel both the visual and emotional impact of what this little boy is feeling. As the little boy’s mood is shifting and accepting, the colors and wording change and you begin to feel the positive reactions that are taking place in this little boy’s world.

Change can be scary for children. The unknown is manifested into horrible and terrible things, but with persistence and encouragement, change can also be new and wondrous.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Bees

Title: The Bees
Author: Laline Paull
Published: May 6, 2014 by Ecco
Format: ARC; Hardcover Pgs 340
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia
Source: Amazon Vine

I do not know where to begin with this book. Taking place within a literal beehive, all societal issues seem to be addressed - placement within a society, governmental bodies, religion, environmental influences, outside evil forces. Told through the eyes of Flora 717, a large and ugly sanitation worker, the reader follows the story of her life and somewhere along the way, you forget that you are reading about bees and become engrossed with the undertakings of a fiefdom.

By reading the synopsis, this book could go either way. After all, it is about bees, but then again it is so much more. I did not care what true beekeepers would call fact and what the author invented; all I knew was that I was connected with Flora and what she had to do to “accept, obey and serve” her hive and the future of those that depended on her.

Talking through scents, vibration, and touch, the bees communicate the needs of the hive and it is up to the governing body to keep everyone in line. The Sages, the ruling party of the hive, are both enthralled and threatened by Flora. She does not fit the caste that she has been born into. When she proves that she is much more than a typical worker she is moved into other beneficial and demanding jobs. I am not going to say that this is the downfall of the ruling party, but what happens next is both a surprise to Flora and to the single-minded hive.

This book is anthropomorphism at its best. You, as the reader, begin to lose track of the fact that this book takes place within the structure of a beehive. That Flora 717 is a bee and not some dystopian character that Atwood had dreamed up. I was fascinated and fully committed from beginning to end and even thought the premise will not appeal to some, I highly suggest that you reserve you judgement and give the first couple of chapters a try and then make a decision for yourself.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pax Demonica

Title: Pax Demonica
Author: Julie Kenner
Published: May 13th, 2014 by Julie Kenner
Format: Ebook
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Demon Hunting Soccer Mom #6

Well that was disappointing.

You wait five years for the next installment of a series and what you are given is a one hundred’ish page eBook, followed by ten or so pages of the authors book catalog, that felt more like a rush job to finish an obligation than a long awaited addition to a fun series.

I understand that Julie Kenner has other commitments. That her other series have more notoriety and publisher backing, but the Demon Hunting Soccer Mom books started out great and seem to have been forgotten. They were fun summer reads that had the readers both laughing and grossed out at the same time.

This book, which I am assuming is the final since so little effort was put into it, did not go anywhere or enhance the storyline in anyway. Backstories about Kate’s life, which had just become known, could have been expanded. Since her demon hunting past has finally come out to her second husband, this could have been rounded out. But no, you have Kate and family heading to Rome, to visit her childhood haunts only to be attacked by demons searching for a key that was hidden in such an obvious way that the reader knew of its location on the same page that it had been introduced. All leading up to the gates of Hell opening and only the blood of one person could close them again. Once again, kind of obvious and lame.

Overall, this was a weak book or ending to this series.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Galapagos George

Title: Galapagos George
Author: Jean Craighead George
Paintings: Wendell Minor
Published: April 8th 2014 by Harper Collins
Format: Hardcover; Pgs
Genre: Children's
Ages: 4 - 8 years; Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3

Jean Craighead George with paintings by Wendell Minor educates the reader in the history and evolution of what are known as the Galapagos Tortoises.

From the time after the dinosaurs roamed the earth to Lonesome George living out his final days at the Charles Darwin Research station on Santa Cruz Island, the reader learns about these magnificent mammals.

At the end of the story, the reader will find two pages of key terms, resources and a timeline that could be used for further research into the George Tortoises or as a jumping off point for a classroom or home-school project.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Don't Talk to Strangers

Title: Don't Talk to Strangers
Author: Amanda Kyle Williams
Published: July 1, 2014 by Bantam
Format: ARC; ebook; Hardcover Pgs 336
Genre: Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine (ARC); Netgalley (ebook)
Series:Keye Street #3

I was sure I knew who the killer was. Amanda Kyle Williams dropped him in at just the right time and left the perfect trinkets along the way.

What do you mean I was wrong, I was sure, it all led to his doorstep. Dang how did I miss that? What wait, you mean that there is more? No, that cannot be right. You cannot twist this story one more time. Then, heck in a hand basket, do not get me started on the final line. That is torture.

This is a phenomenal book from start to finish. In this third installment of her Keye Street series, Kyle Williams has taken her main character a step further. Dr. Street had been booted out of the FBI for her addiction issues and is now a private investigator called in by outside agencies when her expertise in serial killers is needed.

Two bodies of young girls are found in Whisper, Georgia. Ken Meltzer, the local sheriff, is outside of his expertise and against the wishes of his department, he calls in Keye. When Keye is not clashing with the investigators in the small department, or fighting her temptations when it comes to the sheriff, she is in a battle of wits with a killer that abducts young girls, holds them for a few months and then disposes of them in a forested area outside of town.

As a third girl goes missing, the pieces are starting to come together for Keye. Pieces that must have been there the whole time because as she placed the final one, it all made perfect sense.

Twist upon twist and with an ending that the reader will not see coming, you are in for an amazing ride.

Each book in this series is better than the previous. Amanda Kyle Williams knows how to weave a story that not only holds the attention of the reader, but also makes you want to put everything aside and just dive in and stay until that final line, that final phone call, that will shatter Keye’s world all over again.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Murder Pit

Title: The Murder Pit
Author: Jeff Shelby
Published: May 6th 2014 by Indie Inked
Format: ebook
Genre: Possibly Cozy
Source: NetGalley
Series: Moose River Mystery #1

When authors write under multiple names, I never really know who they are. Is Jeff Shelby really Jeffrey Allen or vice versa. By the way, do not bother looking for author webpages because, if you can find them, they are seriously out of date.

I found Jeffrey Allen through his Deuce Winters Stay at Home Dead series and loving the humor there I was excited to see a new series under the pen name of Jeff Shelby. Thinking that the first had run its contracted course and the author was branching out with a new series I dove right in. Bad decision. The humor that I associated with the first was not present in the second. The quick pace and quirky characters did not exist in this new book and when it came to the “who done it”, it was somewhat obvious from the beginning. The why part, that was forced, but when you begin with a dead body in a coal chute in an old house in the middle of a Minnesota winter you have to go somewhere.

Small towns being what they are, jump to the conclusion that Daisy Savage must have killed the man that they found in her home since she had a single date with him years ago. It seemed logical to all those concerned, including the sister and the ex-wife of the deceased and just about everyone in Daisy’s homeschooling co-op who was at fault. What was not considered was that Olaf Stunderson (I know, how much more Minnesota cliché can you get) barely made a blip on Daisy’s radar. To save her reputation and to allow her children to participate in the co-op classes, Daisy must find the answers since the Moose River Police consider her a prime suspect.

Not sure if this falls under the traditional definitions of a cozy mystery, but I would still classify it as such. It has most of the plot points and twists needed and most readers will find it charming in the right spots.