Friday, February 28, 2014

Mind Your Own Beeswax

Title: Mind Your Own Beeswax
Author: Hannah Reed
Publisher: May 3rd 2011 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 292 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Queen Been Mystery #2

If it was not for the art of beekeeping, I am sure that would not continue with this series. There is something about bees that have always fascinated me and the apiary science within this book is interesting.

Once you get past that, you realize how ridiculous the rest of the writing is. Hannah Reed is obsessed with bullet points, really, who puts bullet points into fiction writing. Granted, there are not as many of those little bullets as in the first book, so to temper it, she has resorted to “point one” and “point two”. I do not know who would notice a difference, but to me, they are the same thing.

Then we have the sister of the main who speaks in text talk. Ms Reed calls them acronyms, but she needs to look up the definition of that word. Very few are actually acronyms, most are initialisms.

Then we have two modern day murders. Once again, the author has either has taken leave of her senses or forgot how she had dressed her main character. Who wears flip-flops through a wooded area at night? Not to mentions the same type of foot ware to climb up a ladder and onto a branch of a tree the next morning. However, my all time favorite - checking for fingerprints in woodland around a murder scene. Really, is that even possible? What would they check – bark on a tree, an errant leaf? Checking for footprints would have been better and a bit more realistic.

All this and we have not reached page 100 yet. Gee, this is going to be a long day.

Story Fischer owns a small market in Moraine, Wisconsin; known as “a hotbed of rumor and innuendo and a den of dubious drama” has hosted a candle making session. A woman in the back of the room appears familiar to Story but she cannot put a name to the face.

Later that day, upon learning of the disappearance of Lauren Kerrigan, a past resident of the town, old feelings and resentments come to the surface. Now the town is buzzing (like the bee reference) over the investigation and who is responsible for the two murders now and a vehicular homicide that had sent Lauren to prison 16’ish years before.

Shoot, did not even make it to page 200 before other glaring errors appear. First, you have to believe that a trained police dog will follow the commands of someone other than his handler, but if Story and the dog track through the wooded area on foot, how did they get in a truck to leave? Second, “AND” is not an acronym for 'Any Day Now' (pg 191) – if you noticed, the letters were transposed. Makes one ponder if proofreading was a requirement before publication of this book.

The ludicrousness of this book is overwhelming. Just because a book is within the cozy mystery category does not mean that the readers are brain dead. Respect your readers and give them a book that does not insult their intelligence.

By the end, I think I just gave up. I am sure there were more errors, but I stopped paying attention. Enough already. Time to move on.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Whispering Rock

Title: Whispering Rock
Author: Robyn Carr
Publisher: June 1st 2007 by Mira
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 363 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: Virgin River #3

I am not a big fan of books that fall into the Romance category, but when it comes to the people and place of Virgin River, I just love them.

It is a place that is too good to be true, the people are too good to be true and yet it is a place that you wish was true.

Mike Valenzuela was introduced in the previous book so it was no surprise that book three would be centered around him and his new found importance to Virgin River and more specifically to Brie Sheridan.

Mike was a wounded Los Angles police office that had come to Virgin River to heal both mentally and physically. He found a home there and when he received a call from his good friend that Brie, a Sacramento prosecutor, was attacked and gravely injured by a sadist that she was unsuccessful in prosecuting, Mike was the first to the hospital.

Brie has closed herself off, there are some things that a strong and vibrant woman can have a hard time with and what was done to her has left scares. Mike is not going to give up, he has been helped and now it is his turn to reach out no matter that she is not reaching back.

This is not all that is going on; Mike has also been asked to be the local police presence in this little hamlet. There is a creeping drug presence and young women are coming forward with stories of bruising and pregnancies that they cannot account for.

This is a time for healing and new beginnings in Virgin River. It is about trust and opening your heart. It is about reaching out and hoping that one day, someone will reach back.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sycamore Row

Title: Sycamore Row
Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday (October 22nd 2013)
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 462
Genre: Fiction

I do not think that I have ever read a book as slowly as I did Sycamore Row. I wanted to sink into the time and place that John Grisham was unfolding for me. I wanted to understand the racial nuances that are as important as any individual character in this book. I needed to step away from my current beliefs of political correctness and return to a more turbulent time of 1988 Clayton, Mississippi.

Many of the old characters from A Time to Kill are here, but the setting is different. Jake Brigance is still trying to rebuild his life after the Klan burned down his home and the insurance company has been stalling for three years as to the payoff. What Jake needs is an infusion of cash, what he did not expect was how the suicide and holographic will of a much disliked man was going to change everything.

Money brings out true character and when Henry Seth Hubbard, a white man, leaves the majority of his estate to his housekeeper Lettie Lang, a black woman, all hell breaks loose as anyone and everyone has an opinion as to why.

As a reader, a personal relationship between the two seemed too obvious and Mr. Grisham is a much better writer than that, so I began to jump to my own conclusions. Of course, I was wrong and the truth behind the largess is stunning. I reread that part twice and I swear I did not breathe either time.

Say what you will about John Grisham, but this man can write a courtroom drama. What unfolds in both the legal arena and the lives of those involved is both stupefying and mesmerizing. The people, the personalities, the humor, it all rings true. Bad choices are made that can derail the whole thing, but when you are fighting for the wishes of one man, a man with a secret that must be told, there is no stopping Jake in his fight for his client.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Paris Wife

Title: The Paris Wife
Author: Paula McLain
Publisher: February 22nd 2011 by Ballantine Books
Format: Hardcover, 314 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

If it were not for all the silly nicknames in this book, I would have loved it. Nicknames are a pet peeve of mine, they are reminiscent of a person thinking, “If I call you something else, I will not have to think of you as the individual that you are”.

This is a fictionalized tale of Hadley Richardson Hemmingway, the first wife of Ernest. Beginning when she was 29 and he an energetic 21 year old, the book covers their first meeting and their six years of their marriage, and ending when he tossed her aside for another woman.

That really is not giving anything away; a quick wiki search will tell you everything that was covered in this book.

Hadley comes across as quite boring, but when she is in the present of the up and coming writers and poets of 1920’s Paris, she seems to take on a completely new persona. She is one of them; she has a purpose and a place. It is in the darker times, when Ernest is away writing and she is left with no money and no glamour you see her for who she is.

Very much a “woman behind the man” book, Hadley loses herself, her identity. She is so wrapped up in his life that I wonder if she was totally cognizant of the abuse that he was putting her through. Every failure of his was somehow her fault, what she did was never good enough. When he wrote he would mention everyone except her. It was not until a blatant affair that Hadley’s eyes were fully opened.

In the end, I think Hadley won. She had to step aside and remove herself from the destruction that was Ernest Hemingway and in so doing, she found a life that seemed to have been rewarding.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Title: Deadlocked
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: January 1st 2012 by Ace Books
Format: Hardcover, 327 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Sookie Stackhouse #12

Maybe it is because I know that this series is ending, but I like the books more and more. I cannot say that it is fully the plots, but the humor is what keeps me reading.

Charlaine Harris is tying up all her storylines. This time, the fairies are all being dealt with. It is time for the door to fairy to be closed forever but there are a few last minute things to be dealt with – the least of which is the cluvial door and how it will change relationships forever.

Once upon a time, I liked Eric, but after this book - what a dog.

I will miss the innocence of Dermot.

Darn that Claude – what a jerk.

Once the TruBlood series came out, the Sookie Stackhouse books began to take a darker tone. Maybe it was a natural progression, maybe it was in response to new readers, I will never know.

Sookie is growing up - turns a whopping twenty-eight at the end of this book and it is time to reevaluation the people and situations in her life. Eric revealed a part of him that no one will like. True friends will always be true friends and death is just an everyday occurrence to a girl from BonTemp, Louisiana.

There is a lot going on in this book, the Vampire King of Louisiana has returned and everyone is on their toes as he investigates the death of one of his representatives. A woman is found dead on Eric’s front lawn after she was used to seduce him. Sookie’s fairy great-grandfather reappears after she thought he was gone forever and what he discovers sends everyone in a tailspin.

Then there is Jannalynn. Poor Sam, he does have a tendency to date women that want Sookie out of the picture.

Add in Freyda, the Vampire Queen of Oklahoma that Appius Livius Ocella (I just love that name), has commanded Eric marry.

Concluding with the realization that Eric, the all powerful, was depending on Sookie to bale his sorry butt out of his pending marriage when he should have been doing it himself all along.

Poor Sookie, this was an eye opening lead up to her birthday, but it is time that she take control; and take control she does.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Something Borrowed Someone Dead

Title: Something Borrowed Someone Dead
Author: MC Beaton
Publisher: September 17th 2013 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Agatha Raisin #24

So what happens when you begin writing book number 24 in a series and you are bored? That must be what confronted MC Beaton with Something Borrowed Someone Dead.

As the book travels down a rather mediocre path out of nowhere a somewhat important character dies unexpectantly which allow the author a complete do-over. The book restarts with more direction, energy and enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, it all falls apart again when the conclusion is reached but the story continues. What appears to be an epilogue takes on a life of its own and parts should have been incorporated within the original story.

The village borrower is found dead after she helps herself to a bottle of poisoned elderberry wine. Now the question is, was she the intended victim? Hired by the parish councilor, because image is everything, Agatha starts her nosing around only to find that this town is holding on to many secrets.

As the town closes rank and Agatha is forced out, her life is once again put in danger and this time the past and present doings of some unsavory characters might just have the upper hand on Agatha.

Then you have to throw in Agatha’s man chasing and her unsure feelings surrounding her ex-husband’s upcoming engagement and his sudden interest in another, yet very young, woman.

The whole story is just odd and came across to me as a feeble attempt at grabbing at straws. A little of this and a little of that and hope that the faithful readers will keep reading no matter what is handed out to them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Shells Shells Shellss

Title: Shells Shells Shells
Author and Illustrator: Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Publisher: Two Lions (July 23, 2013)
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Genre: Children's
Source: Amazon Vine
Ages: 6 and up

An educational story told through what appear to be felt cutouts and photographs.

Little Buddy Bear is walking along the shore with his mother and their day together turns into an educational one of shells and sand and where they all come from.

This book would be excellent either for homeschooling or an in class science lesson on shells. Including photographs of the shells in addition to vocabulary words and science based information makes this book well rounded for your educational needs.

Complete with a “did you know” section and a bookmark art project to help finish your lesson on a fun note.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Grumpy Groundhog

Title: Grumpy Groundhog
Author: Maureen Wright
Illustrator: Amanda Haley
Publisher: January 7th 2014 by Two Lions
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Genre: Children's
Source: Amazon Vine
Ages: 3- 7 years

We all know Groundhog Day, but what happens if Groundhog does not want to leave his cozy bed in his cozy den? Does it automatically mean six more weeks of winter or Groundhog is being stubborn and does not want to get up?

Told in rhyme, the town tries to come up with ideas that will cajole Groundhog out. They beg, they plead, but Groundhog has some demands of his own.

Sometimes we all need just a little bit of coaxing to open our eyes and greet the sun.

Told through engaging illustrations, you can teach your child or students about Groundhogs Day and how with just the right amount of persuading, fun can be had for all that want to put in just a little bit of effort.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hello Hello

Title: Hello Hello
Author and Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (October 30, 2012)
Format: Hardcover; pgs 32
Genre: Children’s
Ages: 2 – 6 year olds

Honestly, when I first read this book I did not get it. How could a book designed for two to six year olds teach them to put down their electronic gadgets? I had to step away and think about this for a few minutes.

Then it finally dawned on me, it was not about the child’s devices, it was about the parent’s. Now I felt really dumb because it did not come to me sooner. How many times does a child feel unimportant because their parents and siblings are too busy to acknowledge them?

A true light bulb moment there.

Lydia is bored when everyone is too busy for her, so when a door opens and a leaf blows in, a whole wide world opens up for her. This opens up a new chance for a child to educate a parent and help them to step away from their usual and see things from a new prospective.

In one “ah-ha” moment, this book went from “whatever” to “wow”. I am not sure if your child will get as much out of this book as the adult reading it, but it will be worth your time if you get out of it as much as I did.