Friday, October 31, 2014

Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories

Title: Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories
Author: Craig Johnson
Published: October 21st 2014 by Viking Adult
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 192
Genre: Short Stories
Series: Walt Longmire

Craig Johnson is a natural born storyteller. Whether it is his longer novels or his short stories, he draws in his readers and has them alternating between shaking their heads and laughing aloud.

In this collection of twelve short stories, Walt Longmire shares a little bit more about his life. Filling in gaps or rounding out other characters, Craig Johnson draws his readers in. I fell in love with this man the first time I read about his shower curtain trying to turn him into a sheriff burrito, continued my love affair when the man, while in pursuit, yelled “hi, ho creampuff” and continue on every time he and Henry Standing Bear get another one of their hair brained ideas.

It all boils down to the humor and that is what you will find in these exceptional short stories. If this is your first visit with Walt Longmire, I implore you to start at the beginning of the series. Do not judge the books by the television show because there is so much more in these pages.

Turn off the television and open the books. You will be glad that you did.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nightmares Can Be Murder

Title: Nightmares Can Be Murder
Author: Mary Kennedy
Published: September 2nd 2014 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Dream Club Mystery #1

I am still not sure how I feel about this book. It seems to follow the same formula as other cozies, but it does give a brief glimpse of two secondary characters that are very reminiscent of the Pym sisters from Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series, so I kept turning the pages. I know that Minerva and Rose Harper are not main characters, but I was drawn to them.

The book begins with a meeting of the Dream Club, a group of women from Savannah, Georgia, who get together weekly to discuss dreams that they have had and the group helps to interpret. This is an interesting twist, but when one dream is more of a prophecy, it is up to Taylor Blake, who has recently moved to Savannah to help her sister Ali’s failing candy business, to straighten out truth from fiction.

Chico Hernandez was a womanizer but that did not stop the women of Savannah from taking dance lessons from him. When his body is discovered on the dance room floor, Taylor and the Dream Club must untangle the web of deceit and secrets to figure out who was ultimately responsible.

The first chapter throws most of the players at you and it will take a little bit to keep everyone straight but eventually you sort them all out. The city itself is as much a character as any flesh and blood person and Mary Kennedy must be a foodie since the meals and restaurants are described in much the same way as the members of the club.

Each person in the Dream Club brings something different to the table and when they put their heads together to interpret a meaning and to solve a murder, there is no telling what conclusions they will come up with.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Rose Effect

Title: The Rosie Effect
Author: Graeme Simsion
Published: September 30th 2014 by HarperAvenue
Format: ebook pgs 304; Paperback Pgs 415
Genre: Fiction
Source: NetGalley and Amazon Vine
Series: Don Tillman #2

Like others, when it came to a sequel to Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, I was equally cautious. I wondered how Mr. Simsion could match the pace and humor that made The Rosie Project a favorite read.

Don and Rosie are now married and in the US while Rosie is working on her PhD thesis and Don continues his genetics research into the predisposition to cirrhosis of the liver in mice.

Don will be the first to tell you that his is not autistic, but anyone who meets him will tell you that he is somewhere high on the spectrum. He is analytical and exceptional at problem solving and following directions but that does not mean that he will come up with the same conclusions as a “normal” person. That is what makes Don so endearing. He is trying his best to make life exceptional for those around him, yet he lacks the emotion and foresight to understand the bigger picture and therein lays the hilarity of these books.

Without consulting Don of her plan, Rosie gets pregnant and totally throws Don for a loop. He quickly sets out to understand, as much as possible, the practicalities of fetal development and interaction without understanding or getting confused by the emotional aspects. His research and bluntness cause many misunderstandings and in so doing, he is arrested and sent for counseling. Not wanting to include Rosie in his blunders, he is caught up in one secret after another, and in Don’s mind and actions, confusing hilarity ensues.

What Don did not take into consideration is that Rosie might not believe that he is father material. This was never part of Don’s calculations and once confronted with this reality, he does all that he can – which for Don means not thinking things through in a basic human rational way, to change Rosie’s beliefs.

Very much an updated version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Don is brought to realize that though he only thinks that he has seven friends, he has effected the lives of so many more. Every person that he has had contact with has been changed; and in helping him to understand life, Don has improved theirs.

If not better, at least on par with The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion’s followers will not be disappointed in his latest book and I can only hope that there will be a continuation of Don’s intrinsic takes on parenting his little HUD.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hug Machine

Title: Hug Machine
Author and Illustrator: Scott Campbell
Published: August 26th 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 40
Genre: Children's
Ages: Level 4 - 8 | Grade Level: P - 2

“Oh, No Mr. Bill” (the clay figure clown from SNL) that is exactly what the little boy in the Hug Machine looked like. His big eyes and long arms. I found myself distracted by this little guy, wanting to know if his love for hugging was going get him into trouble. No, this effusive child just loves to hug. It does not matter who or what, he is always there to give a person (or object) the hug that is needed.

The work is exhausting and pizza is needed as fuel, but at the end of the day, what the hug machine needs most is a hug himself from a very special person.

I loved the idea behind this book, that hugs make the world go round, but I do not know if I would encourage this activity. I may be over thinking, since I am not a hugger. The illustrations were muted and a little on the drab side.

I am not sure whom this book would work best for – the un-hugging child to show that from time to time it is ok, or the hugger to show that everyone does it and not just them. Either way, this book will appeal to some and others might just put it away and never think about it again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Burning Girl

Title: The Burning Girl
Author: Lisa Unger
Expected Publication: November 25th 2014 by Pocket Star
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Source: NetGalley
Series: The Whisper's #2

Begins 14 years after the Whispers ended. Eloise is now a professional psychic and her daughter Amanda and her new family live across the country. Their relationship has mended, but Amanda does not want what her mother does to interfere with their lives.

Eloise has a partner, Agatha, that is guiding her in what the spirit world can take if she does not learn to protect herself and Ray, the police detective from the last book, is a regular part of Eloise’s life.

Agatha sparks questions in Eloise, questions of who Eloise received her talents from and now she is curious and starts her genealogical search. What she finds answers her questions, but what she was not prepared for was her granddaughter Finley having the same visions. No matter how much you try, you cannot protect the people that you love.

The Burning Girl has appeared to Eloise, she is not like the usual young girls and women that appear to Eloise. This apparition is different. Eloise can feel that something is off but she cannot put her finger on it. Agatha does not like it one bit and her advice of “Don’t let them have everything” goes unheeded.

This second book in the planned trilogy let me down. It asks questions – who is the burning girl and what does she want, are they going to let the missing wife stay missing, did the baby really die from SIDS, what exactly did Eloise find in her family tree. Maybe that was the point, to ask question and hope that the reader can hang on until January when the last and final chapter of Eloise’s life unfolds.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes

Title: Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes
Author and Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Published: August 19th 2014 by Beach Lane Books
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Genre: Children's
Ages:Age Range: 4 - 8 years | Grade Level: Preschool - 3

Written as a tribute to the real Mr. Cornell, Jeanette Winter takes her readers on a trip of discovery to meet a man that left a lifelong impression on her.

When Joseph Cornell was not crisscrossing New York City selling textiles, he was caring for his mother and brother; but in his free time, Mr. Cornell could be found in his basement, making memory boxes from random items that he found as he traveled throughout the city. Items that reminded him of adventures during his life.

Mr. Cornell was a quiet man that kept to himself, he saw mostly dreams and memories that he placed in his shadow boxes to share with children and in doing so, he also shared his love of art with those that lived on Utopia Parkway and beyond.

I am not sure if this book will appeal to most readers, the concept might be a bit over a young listeners understanding, but if you can get your slightly older reader interested and follow up with making a memory box of their own, you will have a definite winner on your hands.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Easy Gourmet


Title: Easy Gourmet: Awesome Recipes Anyone Can Cook
Author: Stephanie Le
Published: September 2nd 2014 by Page Street Publishing
Format: Paperback; Pgs 240
Genre: Cookbook
Source: Amazon Vine Program

Do not confuse Easy Gourmet with easy to find ingredients. You will still be expected to use mascarpone for pancakes, sambal oelek for an omelet and shiro miso in your tofu fries. To be fair, many of the recipes have your run of the mill ingredients, but what makes this cookbook different is Stephanie Le dummying down the processes so a non-chef type can bring tempting dishes to an ordinary table.

Accompanying each recipe is a beautiful mouthwatering photograph that shows what the dish should look like. Which is always a benefit when you do not know what you are doing.

The salmon dill chowder was very good and very easy to make with mostly on hand ingredients.

This is a good book to experiment with and to be honest I have never heard of using fresh mint leaves in a mint chocolate chip cookie, but then again, that is one of the things that makes gourmet gourmet.

One of the best things about this paperback book is the unique binding. It is designed to actually lie flat on the counter so you do not have to throw another book or rolling pin on it just to keep the darn thing open.

Overall, from an experienced cook down to a beginner, this book has something to offer anyone that is looking to expand their repertoire.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Whispers


Title: The Whispers
Author: Lisa Unger
Will be Published By: Pocket Star (October 27, 2014)
Format: eBook
Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Source: NetGalley
Series: The Whispers Part 1 of a Planned Novella Trilogy

Life was good for Eloise and Alfie Montgomery. They have been married for fifteen or so years, have two young daughters and a life that others can only dream about. Eloise had always believed that the day her life would change would have an ominous feel. A something was off kind of thing, but that morning, life was normal, that is until a semi left its lane and now Alfie and their oldest daughter Emily are dead and Eloise and Amanda are trying to hold on as best as they can.

Months in a coma, a daughter suffering from PTSD, Eloise and Amanda need to start over. How do you do that when you begin to have dreams, not nightmares, but realistic visions of girls in trouble and you know that it is your responsibility to help.

What if you know that the whispering in the trees are voices that you are not yet experienced enough to understand and they are reaching out for your help?

This was an intense entry into a Lisa Unger’s writing. I have never read this author before, but I can honestly say that she has hooked me. The feeling of the book is reminiscent of Amanda Stevens, though the subject matter is different, there is something in the writing that reminds me of the other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If The Shoe Kills

Title: If the Shoe Kills
Author: Lynne Cahoon
Will be Published By: Kensington Trade (November 1, 2014)
Format: ebook; Paperback, pgs 214
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: NetGalley
Series: A Tourist Trap Mystery #3

Maybe it was me, but I have yet to figure out what the title of the book has to do with the story that was told.

I enjoyed the first two books in this series; they were a nice introduction to the tourist town of South Cove, California. This book, felt a bit off, like all the parts did not quite congeal correctly.

Jill Gardner, the owner of Coffee, Books, and More is winding down the summer tourist trade and ready to gear up for fall and winter. Ted Hendricks, an abrasive man has hit town with a new work program bringing interns to local business, but the man has another objective, he has tracked down his missing wife and before that confrontation can take place, Ted is found dead in his car.

Of course Jill is the one that has found Ted and now finds herself smack dab in the middle of the investigation - that is when she is not trying to run her shop, get caught up on her reading, eat as many pastries and cake as possible, coordinate the business owners, find a replacement coordinator for the town festival, take her dog for numerous beach runs, stoke her romance with the town’s detective and have numerous meals at the one and only restaurant in town.

As I said, for me, this book was off. Whenever there was a lull, the author fell back on the same repeated escapes for the Jill and it became a bit monotonous almost to the point that I had forgotten about Ted and his murder.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Scoop on Ice Cream

Title: History of Fun Stuff - The Scoop on Ice Cream
Author: Bonnie Williams
Illustrator: Scott Burroughs
Published: August 5th 2014 by Simon Spotlight
Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
Genre: Early Reader
Ages: Age Range: 6 - 8 years | Grade Level: 1 - 3

A short chapter book that teaches the history of ice cream, the believed origins up to its modern day history.

At the end of the four chapters, your young reader will find flags of various countries and ice cream flavors. There is also a section that will help you to teach the science behind ice cream and for those of you that want to use this as a classroom or homeschooling lesson, there is a History of Ice Cream quiz at the end.

It was surprising how much I did not know about ice cream and this easy to read book, will make both the reading and learning fun. There is no reason to rush through this book and if you wanted to spread it out over a couple of days, the flow remains and you can jump right back in where you last ended.

This is a great addition to your learning library.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thursdays In the Park


Title: Thursdays in the Park
Author: Hilary Boyd
Published: August 4th 2011 by Quercus
Format: Paperback, 352 pagess
Genre: Romance
Source: Amazon Vine

I think I am offended by the person that called this book “granny-porn”. This is nowhere near some of the “mommy-porn” that I have come across and if a woman approaching her 60th birthday, stuck in a failing marriage meets a gentlemen and starts up a relationship, is too much for some, then I am wondering about you - there are some out there that think once you are past 50, your life should revolve around cats and rocking chairs.

After working in her health food store during the week, Jeanie spends Thursdays in the park with her granddaughter. On one of their usual outings, Jeanie meets Ray, a kind man watching over his grandson. Ray sparks an interest in Jeanie and since her own husband has not visited their bed in ten years, Jeanie relishes the attention that she is receiving.

Of course, Jeanie’s friends and family are questioning her sanity, but why should they; they have no idea the man that her husband has turned into. Or for that fact, the man that he has always been behind closed doors. When George’s reasoning is revealed, as to why he left their bed, I was neither surprised or for that matter, interested. It was a new twist, I will give the author that much.

Oh goodness, I just read another review that stated this is a “fifty-shades style book”, no it is not. I thought that this book was a sweet romance that did not involve all the silly junior high school drama that a typical 20-something romance writes about. This was a friendship that turned into more and gave a new spark to a woman that thought that she was dying on the vine.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Our Lady of Pain

Title: Our Lady of Pain
Author: Marion Chesney aka M.C. Beaton
Published: May 29th 2007 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Format: Paperback, Pgs 256
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Edwardian Murder Mystery #4

After swearing that I would never read another book in this series, what do I do but pick up the next and final book of the series and midway through wonder what was I thinking.

The farce of Lady Rose Summer and Captain Harry Cathcart’s engagement is continuing, but there just might be a crack in the armor when Lady Rose realizes that another man that she had suddenly taken an interest in is weak and if there is any more danger heading her way, she will need a stronger man – someone like Cathcart. Whereas, Cathcart is trying his best to become what Lady Rose needs but he is easily distracted with business and when they are separated, they both see what the other has to offer.

Rose’s companion Daisy finally marries Harry’s manservant Beckett, but once in, Daisy is bored to tears and Beckett is turning into a person that no one in their right mind could stand being in a room with.

All of this takes place in the background as Harry takes on courtesan Dolores Duval as a client. Jealous Rose threatens the vamp and next thing you know Dolores is found dead. Yada, Yada, Yada, Rose is found to not be the murderer but that part ends too soon, so Marion Chesney or MC Beaton, depending on which version of this book that you are reading, adds in more intrigue and foolishness among the wealthy and low and behold we reach the end and exhale a sigh of relief that this is the final book in the Lady Rose Summer saga.

It is truly amazing how you can love one series (Agatha Raisin) from an author but barely be able to pick up other books that she writes in other series. Now back to Agatha and we can finally say good-bye to Lady Rose.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rooms

Title: Rooms
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: September 23rd 2014 by Ecco
Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320
Genre: Ghost Story


I tried, but I could not make it more than half way through this book. I lost track of who was talking, I really could not care one way or another about what was going on. This book was too meandering with no end in sight.

Ever since, Before I Fall, I have been searching for a Lauren Oliver book that I liked. I have gone through the Delirium series and Panic, in hopes that something would bring me back to the feeling that I had had for the first book, but that was not to be.

Told in the perspective of two ghosts, the reader learns of the Walker family after the patriarch Richard Walker dies and his ex-wife and children return.

Having made it through 150 pages, I cannot tell you anymore of this book, because either it had not yet been revealed or there was just nothing to tell. I kept waiting for that spark but it never arrived so it was time to move along.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Murder in the Mystery Suite


Title: Murder in the Mystery Suite
Author: Ellery Adams
Published: August 5th 2014 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, Pgs 304
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Book Retreat Mysteries #1

Increasingly, cozy mysteries are taking on the reputation of plugging in a woman that is suddenly on her own, a man to the rescue, a pet, a small town, and a murder. So, in a way, this book has broken out of some of the clich├ęs and engages the reader with a slight change and an interesting twist as to what the lead character’s purpose is.

Jane Stewart is the resort manager of Storyton Hall, a resort catering to booklovers who want to get away from modern technology and meet others with their same hobby. This is not your typical resort; it is a castle of sorts that has been transported from England to Virginia one brick at a time. Storyton has its secrets and when Jane’s Aunt Octavia takes ill, it is up to the librarian, the chauffeur, and others to train Jane in her new role as Guardian of Storyton.

That was an interesting change of pace and much more attention-grabbing than the murder mystery involving two deaths, also known as Rip Van Winkles, that occurred at the resort during a Murder and Mayhem Week where mystery lovers dress in the style of their best loved literary crime solvers and participate in a scavenger hunt with the winner being presented with a first edition book.

Granted, this prize created more interest than you could imagine when Aunt Octavia realizes that she wrapped the wrong book and it goes missing. Apparently, this book has a hidden secret that Storyton has been entrusted to keep and now Jane must retrieve it and its secret.

This mystery has very interesting characters from Hem and Fitz, the twin sons of Jane to the staff to Aunt Octavia and Uncle Aloysius even to Edwin the brother of her best friend Eloise. Each person plays their role and with this being only the first in the series, I am sure that each character will add surprise and intrigue to the goings on at Storyton Hall.