Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fatal Fortune

Title: Fatal Fortune
Author: Victoria Laurie
Published: July 1st 2014 by NAL Hardcover
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Psychic Eye Mystery #12

What a tangled web. I do have to admit that by the time I reached the unraveling of this confusion I had to reread the passages a couple of times to keep all the players straight.

What would you do if your best friend called you in a panic and told you that what you are about to see and hear is not what it appears and that she needs you to rush to your shared office and retrieve a file from a hidden compartment that you did not know existed?

If you are Abby Cooper, you hightail it across town and ask questions later.

A video surfaces showing Candice Fusco meeting a stranger in a parking garage and with no warning, raises a gun, and kills the man. Abby cannot believe what she is seeing; this cannot be the woman that she has known for years. Does Candice have a past that Abby knows nothing about? Though shocking, Candice’s new husband Brice is even more disturbed by what he has seen. How could his new bride be a killer? How can he put his FBI training aside and not believe what is right there in front of him?

Abby is not going to take this at face value, against the wishes of her husband Dutch; she lies to everyone around her and heads straight to Las Vegas where this twisted story began.

For being a professional psychic, Abby did not use her natural born talents to the extent that you would assume. For the most part, she is relying on the investigative skills that her years of working with the FBI have foisted upon her. She is going to rundown every possible lead and save her best friend from an impending first degree murder charge.

I always want to think of the Psychic Mystery books as cozies, but they are not. There is a harder side to them and the reader has to pay closer attention to the interactions of all the characters. You may figure out the players early, but how they intertwine may lead to eye squinting and head tilting, at the same time, you might even get that little wrinkle between you eye brows.

Over all, the Psychic Eye Mysteries have improved with age. Victoria Laurie is able to move her characters forward even though Abby still tends to be on the immature side and those around her are way more forgiving then good friends and a spouse should be.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Plan Bee

Title: Plan Bee
Author: Hannah Reed
Published: January 3rd 2012 by Berkley
Format: Paperback; Pgs 286
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Queen Bee Mystery #3

That felt longer and much more painful than it needed to be. Granted, Hannah Reed has reduced the need of one of her characters to use text speech, but the bullet points used by the main character, Story Fisher, need to be eliminated. Plus, I do not care how annoying Patti is, stop with the P.P. (Pity Party) initials in front of her name. This is the third book in the series and if the readers have followed along thus far, and do not already know how annoying she is, then this book will definitely set them straight.

The small town of Moraine, Wisconsin is in the mist of their annual Harmony Festival and Story Fisher, the owner of The Wild Clover is once again thrown into the middle of a mystery when she stumbles over a body in the cemetery only to have it disappear when she finally get Officer Sheriff Johnny Jay out to investigate.

Throughout the books, Story Fisher and Johnny Jay have been battling and now he is resorting to threats and promises of not showing up if she were to call 911 with yet another claim of dead bodies or worse. Because of Johnny’s inability to tell a crime when one is in front of him, Story with the help of Patti, set off to discover who the body was and what is going on in their small town.

Add in a pending tornado, a kleptomaniac, a mother that has undergone a personality change, a twelve year old who loves to blow things up, a lottery winner, employee’s that only show up when it is convenient, a grandmother that has driving issues, and a policeman boyfriend with his trust dog sidekick and you have a typical day in the life of Story Fisher.

There are things that I love about this series, the people, the places and the bees, but Ms. Reed has a tendency to draw things out and to repeat herself. The book is less than 300 pages and a reader should not need that much repetition to help them keep the story straight.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Title: The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Publisher: August 26th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Format: ebook, 208 pages
Genre: Secondary Reader
Source: Netgalley

Not usually a fan of secondary readers, I was surprised when I sat down and did not want to get up until this book was finished. I laughed with Ellie, got frustrated with Melvin and rejoiced when Ellie and Melvin came to terms as to what is important in life. Life is not about existing it is about the possibilities.

Being told that her mother was going to be late because she had to pick up her father at the police station has 11-year-old Ellie confused. To compound that, when her mother arrives home, Grandpa is not with her, but there is an odd boy that Ellie is convinced must be one of her mother’s drama students. There is something more, the way the boy talks to her mother, his familiarity, but the clincher is the ring he is wearing, she has seen it before. Then it hits her. Grandpa?

What is this magic that has turned her grandfather into a thirteen-year-old boy?

Turns out it is not magic, but science. Somehow her grandfather has reversed aging. No more balding, bad hearing and eyesight, and no more arthritis. This is almost too fascinating for Ellie to bear. This is opening a brand new door. A brand new way of looking at the possibilities. Science fiction is becoming her reality.

“Scientists never give up. They keep trying because they believe in the possible”.

As the realities of what her grandfather is doing hit Ellie, she comes up with a few questions of her own. Practically speaking, if all the adults can become children again, who is go to be the grown-up? As she recalls Oppenheimer’s quote, is the world ready for this change.

Grandpa is introducing his granddaughter to the fascination of science and the men and women who were not afraid of questioning the possible. Without realizing it, this book is also teaching your children about science and scientists and the bigger picture of where science can lead. It teaches about relationships and responsibilities, and what can happen when we dream of the possibilities.

This book still gives me the shivers and leaves me with a smile.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NYPD Red 2

Title: NYPD Red 2
Author: James Patterson and Marshall Karp
Publisher: March 24th 2014 by Little, Brown and Company
Format: Hardcover, 392 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: NYPD Red #1

Now there was a twist that I did not see coming. Mentally checking in and out as I usually do during my summer reads with James Patterson, somehow I missed, or he did not obviously point it out, whom the gentlemen really were. I was mindlessly floating along, thinking that this was a nice book to grab while my toes were being pampered then wham – I had to go back and reread a section or two thinking that I had missed something.

Nope, Misters Patterson and Karp laid a landmine and I mindless stepping onto it. Good job.

Vigilantes are running amok in New York City brutally killing newly released offenders. Feeling that the NYPD and DA’s offices are not doing their job, the Hazmat killers take it upon themselves to avenge the deaths of the innocent. Once abducted, the offenders are forced to confess on tape as to their true roles in their crimes, before the Hazmat team exacts their own justice.

Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald reprise their roles, as NYPD Red detectives, in an elite force designed especially to protect New York City’s rich and famous. Called in by the mayor, they are searching for the Hazmat killers before the next target shows up in a Tyvek suit. Combining both personal and professional attachments, there is as much going on behind the scenes as what is being played out publicly.

I like where the authors are going with this series. The players are interesting, the crimes are brutal, and the twists are unexpected.

Monday, July 21, 2014

As the Crow Flies

Title: As the Crow Flies
Author: Craig Johnson
Publisher: May 15th 2012 by Viking Adult
Format: Hardcover, 308 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Walt Longmire #8

I am in a quandary when it comes to Sheriff Longmire, both the books and the show are outstanding, but they have very little in common, but yet, if the television series could be as funny as these book then I would more forgiving.

Honest, it is just another day in the life of Sheriff Walt Longmire when he and Henry Standing Bear are out looking for a site for Cady’s upcoming wedding. Something catches Walt’s eye and the next thing you know, a woman is falling from the cliff. By the time that Walt and Henry get to her she is deceased but Walt’s dog, Dog, discovers a small child that appears to be uninjured.

Walt has no interest in participating in an investigation taking place on the reservations, but Lolo Long is too new in her job as Tribal Police Chief and Walt believes that it is his responsibility to help. Walt is still recovering from his last trip to the mountain and as the story behind the death of Audrey Plain Feather and the near death of her son Adrian comes to light, it has Walt right back into the thick of things and once again going toe to toe with “Cliff Cly of the FBI”.

By the end of the book, I was confused as to where the title had come from, but as Walt is waiting for his daughter to make her way to him he looks to the sky and there are two crows, playing tag above. As he is watching their graceful arcs, their patterns are intertwining in figure eights of eternity. That was the perfect visual to end the story of a little boy finding a new family and to see Cady embark on a new journey wearing her mother’s ring.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pardon Me!

Title: Pardon Me!
Author and Illustrator: Daniel Miyres
Published: June 17th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 40
Genre: Children's
Ages: Age Range: 4 - 8 years; Grade Level: Preschool - 3

With only a few words, the story is easily told with illustrations and attitude.

Poor little bird just wants some peace and quiet and he thinks he has found it on his own little island, that is until a larger bird and a frog and a turtle join him. So when Mr. Fox decides to add a little insight to the situation, the little bird loses his patience. Unfortunately, this is the one-bit of advice that he should have listened to.

Minimal words and great illustrations make this a wonderful book and laugh aloud funny at the end.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Prime Cut

Title: Prime Cut
Author: Diane Mott Davidson
Published: September 1st 1998 by Bantam Books (Hardcover)
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #8

Well this book finally did it; I am officially done with Goldy.

Three hundred and forty eight pages have never been so monotonous and redundant before. Her last couples of books were leading up to this moment and left me teetering but Prime Cut pushed me over the edge.

Yada yada yada Goldy’s business is in trouble due to a new rival that will do anything to undercut her. Yada yada the contractor that Goldy hired for her kitchen remodel, that has taken advantage of every other person that he has worked for, seems to have skipped town but then his body is found hanging. The sudden death of Goldy’s mentor, and fellow chef, and a break in at a museum with only cookbooks missing that hold a clue to an old legend could not hold this book together for me.

This book was so long-winded and awful that I am sure that my brain skipped a bit and to be quite honest I do not know why I bothered to finish.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Title: The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook : More Than 100 Recipes From the Best Little Bakery In the South
Author: Cheryl Day, Griffith Day, Amy Paige Condon
Published: March 6th 2012 by Artisan
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 242
Genre: Cooking

The photographs alone make this cookbook worthwhile.

I love cookbooks that take me back to old kitchens with tried and true recipes - with the smells and tastes of grandma’s house and the simplicity of easier times.

For the most part, they are easy recipes. Occasionally you will run into an ingredient that is not readily available on your standard grocery shelf, but if you are determined to take it on, the Day’s have included a resource page.

I can personally swear by the Sunny Lemon Bars even if I had let someone else read the directions and added the lemon peel. That is what experimenting in the kitchen is all about. Fun times in the kitchen and a delicious treat at the end.

With recipes from their Savannah, Georgia bakery, the book is divided into multiple sections – Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Bars, Savories, etc. so if you are looking for a specific type of treat you can easily find it. The authors have also included “Sweet Notes” that will enhance your understanding of specific ingredients.

This will be a go to book for special desserts that will bring smiles to the faces of all that are lucky enough to be sitting around your table.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Boom Snot Twitty

Title: Boom Snot Twitty
Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Renata Liwska
Published: May 1st 2014 by Viking Juvenile
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 40
Genre: Children's
Ages: Age Level: 3 - 5 | Grade Level: P - K

Rarely have I run across a child’s book that I would call boring, but this one definitely qualifies.

Boom the Bear, Snot the Snail and Twitty the Bird are friends that look at the world differently. Boom wants adventure, Twitty likes the status quo and Snot prefers to see if there will be better options. Thus begins the day when a sudden storm arises.

This book did not interest me. There was no grab or humor. The illustrations are charming and simple and tell the story, but still, there was something missing.

For us, this will not be a shelf keeper.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mission to Murder

Title: Mission to Murder
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Published: July 31st 2014 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Format: ebook; Paperback Pgs 238
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Series: A Tourist Trap Mystery #2

When it comes to the stonewall in Jill’s backyard, I am beginning to wonder if its importance, as part of an old mission or not, is going to be the ongoing theme for the entire series. After book number one, Guidebook to Murder, it was left dangling and I thought it was a good lead into book number two, but by the end, it still was not decided. Ok, I can live with that, but by the end of book three, which is due in the fall, that question had better be answered.

Jill Gardener is still being challenged as to the historical significance of her wall, but when Craig Morgan, the manager at The Castle, and her major detractor, is found dead, of course all eyes and fingers are pointed to her as the killer.

For being no more than a blip on a tourist map, South Cove sure has their fair share of crime. Apparently, more crime than even the lead detective knows about. Which is funny, since a small town of three officers does not need a detective. With Greg and his officers all over the map, trying to solve this murder you would think that making sure that Jill is escorted home after her shift at Coffee, Books and More, and tucked into bed at night would not be their top priority.

The book meanders for a long while and when it came to the reason for Craig’s death, I thought that it had come out of nowhere and the whole Fifi training was absurd and made me question how mindless the author thought her readers were.

I enjoyed the first book and thought that the series had a real shot; book two has made me step back a bit and wonder if it was necessary to spend a vast majority of it describing baked goods and coffee without moving the story forward, so I am hoping that the third book will get back on track. South Cove and its people have a chance of captivating their readers, their interactions are warm and the locale is perfect. Now it is up to the author to tell a well-balanced story without resorting to fillers and nonsense.

Monday, July 7, 2014

World of Trouble

Title: World of Trouble
Author: Ben H. Winters
Published: July 15th 2014 by Quirk Books
Format: Paperback; Pgs 320
Genre: Suspense
Source: Amazon Vine
Series: Last Policeman #3

I was not prepared for the visceral reaction that I had to the end of this series. Even though you were preparing from the very first book for this, it still hit me hard.

I connected with Hank Palace, I connected with his journey, but I did not have enough time to connect with Ruthie. Her last acts of bravery and compassion tore me open. Tears still come to my eyes when I think about it.

The World of Trouble jumps right into the story of Detective Palace assuming that the reader remembers where book two left off. There is not a lot of rehashing and the reader will have to hit the ground running. I will admit, I could not remember certain players and for the first chapter I felt I was playing catch up.

The Last Policeman series revolves around Detective Hank Palace who at once is trying to bring order to his last days on earth as an asteroid is heading for earth and finding his sister Nico who is a bit of a radical and is rumored to be with a group of extremists that have their own plan on how to save humanity. With Book III there are only fourteen days left and chaos reigns.

Hank has tracked Nico to a rural police station, when he arrives, it appears abandoned but there are signs that Nico has been there. Signs that only Hank recognizes and the reader is left wondering what is real and what is hope.

When Hank follows a bloody trail he finds Lily, but what Lily leads him to is the beginning of the end for Hank. He has one final murder to solve. One final quest to pursue.

It is the compassion of an Amish man that brings peace to Hank’s final day. A farm and a family that will meet its end without the fear and trepidation that the rest of the world has been facing.

There is very dry humor in these books, at times, as the world is coming to an end, you find yourself laughing out loud, but you cannot help it. Sometimes your pathetic reality is funny.

This is a phenomenal series that I suggest be read straight through. Ben Winter’s does not add in a bunch of fluff. The reader is told the story that they need to know. Not too much is on the periphery. There is no time for that. An asteroid is heading to earth and there will be no survivors.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Title: Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
Author: Lynne Cox
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Published: May 13th 2014 by Schwartz & Wade
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 48
Genre: Children's
Ages: Age Level: 4 - 8 | Grade Level: P - 3

Based on a true story, this sweet tale tells of Elizabeth an elephant seal nicknamed Elizabeth Queen of the Seas for her adventure in returning to the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Most elephant seals travel in pods and prefer the deep ocean waters, but that is not Elizabeth. Her home is in a little river alongside a city where she could be seen every day. When she was tired, she would pull herself out of the water and lounge in the sun and mud. Venturing too far one day, she parks herself in the middle of the road causing much consternation amongst the community.

Believing that they are doing what is best for Elizabeth, volunteers haul her out to sea to be with other elephant seals and this is where Elizabeth’s legacy begins.

An endearing story with beautiful illustration will for sure have your young ones asking for this story over and over.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guidebook to Murder

Title: Guidebook to Murder
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Published: April 1st 2014 by Kensington Publishing
Format: Paperback, 228 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Tourist Trap Mystery #1

Set in South Cove, California a small coastal town, the reader is introduced to Jill Gardner, once a lawyer and now the owner of Coffee, Books and More.

When Jill had first set foot in South Cove, she was befriended by Miss Emily, a cantankerous older woman that seemed to get great joy out of bothering the mayor and city council. Now Miss Emily has been found dead in her home and as the death has been declared a murder, Jill is in high gear trying to find the culprit.

To add complication to the matter, Jill is the beneficiary of Miss Emily’s estate and the town’s people begin to wonder if she was behind the murder. No, Jill has other ideas since a land developer has been snooping around and wants to offer way more than the property is worth.

The book ended with an interesting find and I hope that this part of the story will continue in the next book as it was left somewhat dangling.

Since this was the first book in a planned series, I thought it was more of an introduction to the recurring characters and letting the readers get the proverbial lay of the land.

The plot follows the usual cozy. There is a small business, a love interest, a twist in a murder, a best friend, a family member that comes to stay, a home with character, a small town, a dog, etc. That is not to denigrate the book, just stating that it is following the usual format and though there is only a single murder, there is enough going on in the periphery to keep the reader engaged.

Overall, it is a good entry in the cozy mystery field. There is a great deal of growth that can be offered and I am curious as to where Ms. Cahoon will go with her main character and her small town.