Friday, December 30, 2016

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Title: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE
Author: Phil Knight
Published: April 26th 2016 by Scribner
Format: Hardcover, 386 pages
Genre: Memoir

I know that memoirs usually fall within the category of “it’s my story and I am sticking to it”, but if half of what Phil Knight wrote is true, he has had an awe-inspiring journey.

Phil Knight, one of Nike’s co-founders, along with his old track coach Bill Bowerman, takes the reader on his personal journey that started with his Master’s thesis on the topic of doing to shoes what the Japanese did to German cameras. An idea was formed, and with fifty dollars from his father, Blue Ribbon Shoes was started out of the trunk of his Valiant.

Phil had a simple goal, double sales each year. For some reason he could not get a bank to back this crazy idea, but that was not a detriment to him. He vowed to be honest, and this is one of the areas that I questioned since it seems like such a far flung idea in business, but accord to Phil that is who and what he is.

To say that there were a couple of stumbling blocks would be an understatement since no one believed in him or his idea. One gamble nearly ended it all and had the government authorities breathing down his back but somehow it all came together and today Nike, named after the goddess of victory, is a US institution.

Phil Knight does not have a public face and that was spelled out quite clearly when he ran into Bill Gates and Warren Buffet at a movie theater and people looking at them wondered whom that guy was, and this is after he was a multi-billionaire and was listed on Forbes Top 20.

There have been many loses in Phil’s life and they are mentioned. The most painful, the loss of his son, it touched up and it is obvious that the hurt is still too raw for him to go into too much depth but it is still there. He tells stories of his wife and their home, but once again, not too much depth. This is a book about building the Nike empire and with humor and insight, you can see this man’s passion to bring a brand name and an iconic swoosh to life.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Under The Christmas Tree

Title: Under the Christmas Tree
Author: Robyn Carr
Published: November 16, 2015 by Mira
Format: eBook, 88 pages
Genre: Holiday Romance
Series: Virgin River #7.5

This is a quick little story that takes places during the holiday season that brings all the romance and magic that is Virgin River.

When a box of puppies is found under the town’s Christmas tree, now and again visitor Annie McCarty takes it upon herself to be their main caregiver. She has a fulltime job but she is going to fit this group of weeks old pups into her schedule. When Jack reaches out to the local vet, Annie is sure that old Doc Jensen, who had cared for her family’s animals for years, can guide her in their upkeep. What she was not expecting was that the man had retired and in his place was the man’s son, Dr. Nathaniel Jensen.

Since this is Virgin River, you know that romance is going to fly and there will be a hurdle or two to get over. No worries, with this town, everyone will be there to help and Annie and Nate will find the life and love that they each had been looking for.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree

Title: Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree
Author and Illustrator: Lori Nichols
Published: October 18th 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Genre: Children's
Age Range: 3 - 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten
What a brilliant idea and after reading this fourth book in the Maple and Willow series you will see how much I love both the story that Lori Nichols tell but also her marvelous illustrations.

Maple and Willow are as close as two sisters can be. They have been through their trials and tribulations but they do not compare to the great Christmas fiasco.

Getting ready for Christmas is hard work but this year they are getting a real tree. As the girls search for their own perfect tree, since the family has given up on the artificial one, they use their own language to decide on the perfect one. Little did they know that one of them was allergic and even though the other loves her sister very much, she was disappointed that they would not have their own tree.

Willow may be the youngest, but she has a wonderful idea to bring a tree into their home and a smile to her sister’s face. An idea that just might take hold in many households – this one included.

I love these books, I no longer have young children in my home but each year I search them out and I am once again awed by the talent of Lori Nichols.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Bookplate Special

Title: Bookplate Special
Author: Lorna Barrett
Published: November 3rd 2009 by Berkley Prime Crime
Format: Paperback, 310 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Booktown Mystery #3

Tricia Miles is the owner of Haven’t Got a Clue, a new and used bookshop specializing in mysteries. By this third book, the reader would be under the impression that murder just finds her and I could not say that they were wrong. This time, an old college roommate has overstayed her welcome and after having to ask her to leave; Tricia is the one to find her dead body in a trash can behind her sister’s café.

Pammy was not a nice person and even her own family had nothing to do with her but that is no reason to kill a person. She was bragging about coming into a financial windfall and had gotten herself involved with a local group of dumpster diving freegans, but that too did not explain her death. Add in a local philanthropist that she has been trying to visit and some say blackmail, but that too does not add up. What could all of these clues amount to?

What does come out in the end is something that is so far away from what cozy mysteries usually surround themselves with that I actually did a double take. This is a subject matter that might have some scratching their head, but once again, if you are a writer in this genre, occasionally you have to do something that is outside of the norm.

Now of course Tricia stirs up a bit of a problem and she has to fix it, but that is taking its turn with putting a last minute wedding together for one of her most loved employees, helping her sister run her businesses and not lose her mind, and ending one of her own relationships and possibly starting another.

I do like this series and how all the bookstore owners have their own specialties and come together to make this a delightful experience for all of their customers. I am not sure if there is literally a place like this outside of Ms. Barrett’s imagination, but if there were, I would most definitely find myself in this literary tourist trap in Stoneham, New Hampshire.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dead and Breakfast

Title: Dead and Breakfast
Author: Kate Kingsbury
Expected Publication: January 10th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover Pgs 288
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery #1

First in a new series by Kate Kingsbury introducing Melanie West and Liza Harris, a grandmother and granddaughter team that are the new owners of a bed and breakfast in Sully’s Landing on the Oregon coast. This is just not any inn; The Merry Ghost Inn comes complete with a spirit that reveals a sense of humor complete with a merry laugh.

During a remodel, a mysterious door is revealed and behind it, Melanie finds the decomposed remains of a woman in a nightgown. At this time, no one is sure who she is but as the story unfolds and the secrets of the area are exposed, Melanie and Liza have more questions than answers.

Of course, it is not a cozy mystery without the token eye-catching sheriff, the pet and a business owner determined to solve the mystery - and of course, they are all here. Ms. Kingsbury does throw in the background of both her main character (her ex-husband and missing mother) and a bit of the town (many characters to get to know). All of which are not necessary for the first book and feels more like filler then moving the story along. I am sure that somewhere down the line, in future books, it will all be necessary, but it did feel like too much to start with.

If you are a steady reader of cozy mysteries, the plot and formula are repetitive. The who is no shock and if you know that, the why is obvious.

Kate Kingsbury is the pseudonym for romance author Doreen Roberts Hight.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fool Moon

Title: Fool Moon
Author: Jim Butcher
Published: January 9th 2001 by Roc
Format: Paperback, 401 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Dresden Files #2

I did not like the second book as well as the first, for me, there was not as much humor and the werewolf plot just seemed to be never ending.

The basic strategy is that Lt. Murphy has called Harry out to investigate some horrific murders. It takes a couple of dots connecting before Harry realizes that they are all happening on full moons. As Johnny Marcone is mentioned, Harry is on-board and since Murphy is still a bit weary of Harry, he is determined to show that he is actually the good guy.

I am sure that it is written somewhere that if you have a full moon, you must also have werewolves and thus the lesson begins. This is where you needed to take notes since Bob, my favorite character, goes into depth on the different types. Suffice it to say, for the most part, Harry will be dealing with both the conventional type and the shape-shifter type.

Now throw in the FBI and yet another type of wolf – lycanthropes. Then add in a loup-garou, which is the biggest, scariest, and hardest to contain of all. This one ends up killing someone very close to Harry and wreaks havoc throughout the book. Finishing up with the hexenwolves that are able to turn because of some magical furry belt. Yep, I almost lost it with that silly turn.

The final showdown is on Marcone’s estate. This part was very dramatic and will have you flipping the pages quickly. Turns out that you cannot really trust the FBI and the whole book boils down to a silly plot to get to Marcone.

Others have stated that this is the worst of the Dresden series and if that is true, and I was able to get through it, I will try the next. I hope that Bob will make more of an appearance and we will hear more about Harry’s mother and what her role was in the wizarding world.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Study In Scarlet Women

Title: A Study In Scarlet Women
Author: Sherry Thomas
Published: October 18th 2016 by Berkley
Format: eBook, Paperback, 336 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Lady Sherlock #1

What is so frustrating about this book is that for every part that I loved, there were three times as many that I despised. The pacing is slow, the repetition is unbearable and from time to time, I had a hard time figuring out who was who and who was currently talking. Unfortunately, that all overshadowed the humor that was Charlotte Holmes.

As the reader gets to know Charlotte, it is no wonder the lengths that she went to get out from under her parents. After being lied to by her own father, she was determined to find her own place and if necessary to create a separate persona. What she had not understood at the time was that she, all along, had the ability to create the life that she wanted and the ability to financially take care of both herself and her two sisters.

Creating a duel personality of sorts, she helps to solve what Scotland Yard is calling a triple murder. It is with deduction and reason that Charlotte, with the help of her new friend Mrs. Watson, sees through the ruse that is in front of them. Not to say that there is no romance in this book since Sherry Thomas began her writing in that genre, but amorousness is not in the forefront in this book, just a slight distraction between two characters. There is deviancy but that does not come out until the conclusion and you realize the clues that were sprinkled in the ending chapters.

This is the first book of a new series that will not be worth keeping for me. Though Charlotte was brilliant and relatable, everyone one else was a blur of indefinable qualities that I had a hard time separating.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces

Title: The Capsule Wardrobe: 1,000 Outfits from 30 Pieces
Author: Wendy Mak
Expected Publication: January 3rd 2017 by Skyhorse Publishing
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 240 pages
Genre: Fashion
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book

In a quick definition, a capsule wardrobe allows you to create multiple outfits from a few basic pieces. If you are like me and the idea of looking in your cluttered closet is getting a bit overwhelming; the capsule might be the next step in a wardrobe makeover.

Wendy Mak goes on to explain her vision of thirty necessary items, from 7-bottoms, 6-tops, 6-top layer items (blazer, sweater, jacket, coat, etc.), 3-purses, 6-shoes, and accessories. Work wear, weekend wear and going out are all included. This does not include loungewear or gym wear. This book is designed as a jumping off point and not something that is set in stone. Work with it and make it personal. Remember that each part must work with the whole.

Ms. Mak then goes into the specifics of style and color to add a bit more flare. She did lose me a bit here when she talks about skinny cuts. Not everyone has the body type for skinny so you will have to adapt. Presto change-o and you have a fast new wardrobe of 1,000 options.

Wait, not so fast, simple math tells you that the numbers do not add put. After a couple of pages of item suggestion and a few mix and match drawings of outfits you begin to realize that you are still not seeing 1,000 options.

Then you hit the appendix and this is where the whole idea fell apart for me. Changing an accessory or shoes or purse is not a new outfit. The same jeans and basic tank are used for the first 50+ outfit suggestions. Nope, I just knew that this was too good to be true.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

Title: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: November 1st 2016 by Atria Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover 96 pgs.
Genre: Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

This may be a short novella, but the impact is tremendous. Told through the eyes of his “numbers” grandpa, a little boy - Noah, who is more like his grandfather than his own “words” father Ted, learns the stories and fears of holding on to life’s most precious memories. How the square is getting smaller and smaller and how Grandpa’s family is both struggling to hold on to help him and to gently guide and let go at the same time.

The way home does not talk specifically about a place, but more of the comfort and memories that home entails. It is the people and the places. The stories and memories. The things that get lost over time and yet we try harder and harder to hold on to.

This is a story of compassion – surprising compassion from the most unlikely person. Sometimes we are too close to our own parents and it takes a grandchild to see through the blurred frustration that parents and children hold on to. The next generation is more open and willing to sit and listen to the stories and see both the hope and lament that is just below the surface.

As I said, this is a short novella that reads like a full-blown novel. Fredrik Backman is a master storyteller that knows just the right amounts to include without bogging down the reader with unnecessary drivel. The reader knows the amount of time that has passed and how the relationship between Noah and Grandpa has changed without going in depth with timekeeping and medical analyses. This book is not about a disease, it is about relationships, compassion, and wanting to spend as much time with a person that you love no matter what you are talking about or how many rocks you have to put under an anchor so you can always remember a child as a child.

I have underlined so much in this story that out of fear of quoting the whole book, I have not including any quotes. You will want to keep this novella close so you can read it frequently and I will guarantee that each time you do, you will get something different from the telling and take away a better understanding.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Magnolia Story

Title: The Magnolia Story
Author: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Published: October 18th 2016 by Thomas Nelson
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Genre: Memoir

Having been a follower of Fixer Upper since its debut, I was curious as to the background story on this driven couple. How could two people, who came from very humble beginnings, in thirteen short married years together, build not only a successful business, marriage and family, but also a loyal following to their very own show?

Joanna does most of the story telling and hearing how it was a fluke that they met, even more of a risk waiting around for Chip to show up for their first date, and how in time their own personalities meshed into a winning formula, makes for a very interesting read.

What I did not realize was how faith driven this couple is. From the beginning, Joanna talks about that voice guiding her and promising that if she listened, the path that was being set for her would take her beyond her own dreams. It might not have been an easy path but opening their hearts and their vision is what has brought them to where they are today.

When this book ended, you could tell that it was only the first step in a new journey. Chip and Joanna Gaines have more to tell, their stories and adventures will continue and with both this book and their many endeavors, I wish them the best of success and a beautiful lifetime together.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dead Cold Brew

Title: Dead Cold Brew
Author: Cleo Coyle
Expected Publication: January 10th 2017 by Berkley Publishing Group
Format: eBook; Hardcover, 432 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Coffeehouse Mystery #16

Amazing how a shipwreck and a stolen legacy can change everything, but that is exactly what Clare Cosi and her ex-husband Matt Allegro are confronted with in the newest Coffeehouse Mystery. A book that the reader has to stay with for the long haul, as each turn you think that you have it figured out, even though some of the pieces fall in the way that you think they should, there are just enough random parts to keep you turning pages and coming up with new scenarios in your head.

A replica of the Andrea Doria is preparing to launch from New York, but there are a few last minute details. They are looking for a new trademark coffee that Clare and Matt are working on, a sale that will help Matt out of his newest financial difficulties plus, on the home front, a clandestine meeting with an attorney that will change the lives of both Matt and his daughter Joy. Add in the famous missing Occhio del Gatto (Eye of the Cat), a flawless ice blue diamond cut and set to mimic a cat’s eye, that might not be as missing as the legend goes and Clare confronting the realities that friendship has no legal status and you have another week in the life of a woman who can take on the world in cruel shoes.

The Allegro’s have interesting friends and even more interest family members. Is it possible that there has been an impostor in their midst for decades. A person that has been hiding secrets and in turn tearing families apart. This is yet another complication that this book delves into which is a good thing since the whole “Panther Man” scenario, though whimsical was a bit grating. No, I am not making light of what this character did, but it was distracting at best.

From the prologue, the reader is drawn into the history of the Campana family and the Andrea Doria, it is only sixty years later that the full Campana story comes to light and how intermeshed the Allegro family is with this jewelry business. Subterfuge is the main theme of this book, very few people are who they seem to be and the reader is constantly going back and forth between the good guys and the bad. You will find the usual cast of characters and with humor and style, the writing team of Cleo Coyle, has brought forth both a walking tour of New York and a tasty mystery to boot.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Small Great Things

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Published: October 11th 2016 by Ballantine Books
Format: eBook; Hardcover, 470 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

From the quote by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." Jodi Picoult draws the reader into the life of Ruth Jefferson, a forty-four year old labor and delivery nurse in Connecticut that is being charged with the killing of a baby whose parents are notorious white supremacist. Parents that are appalled by the idea that a black woman is caring for their newborn child and make it a point to have Ruth’s supervisor put a note in their son’s chart that no African-American’s are to go near their child. From that description alone, you would think that the book takes place in the 1950’s, but you would be wrong. This is modern day, a day where Ruth still needs to explain herself. A time where people are shocked that she has her nursing degree from Yale and lives in their upper class white neighborhood.

Told in alternating accounts from Ruth, Kennedy McQuarrie –Ruth’s attorney and Tuck Bauer the father of the newborn, the reader is brought face to face with the hatred and simmering anger that has brought these three people together. Ruth is fighting on many fronts, her sister Adisa is demanding that she step up and be a leader for her community, Ruth’s son Edison is coming of age with his own battles and responsibilities. Kennedy, the wife of an ophthalmologist, works in the free clinic so she could be the do-gooder in the family. Tuck the angry supremacist that found a home and became a leader within the skinhead movement and his wife Brittany who could not handle the death of her son and was later confronted by the mother that left her when she was a child.

Each person in this book had a strong voice and a story to tell. They each enlighten the reader and at the same time made their audience a bit uncomfortable about the realities that we all brush under the rug. The plotting is suspenseful and fast moving; you can feel the depth of each character and in some cases, their total disregard for human life. It is not until the very end, when Kennedy is forced to put Ruth on the stand, that the whole emotional kettle boils over. The years of anger are laid bare and Ruth finally has her say that she had kept bottled up for so long.

This book may anger many people, the people that do not feel that a white author should write a book from Ruth’s perspective. I disagree - I found this book to be remarkable from start to finish. In the past, I have not been a fan of Jodi Picoult’s work and questioned myself as to why I picked this one up in the first place, but after the first couple of chapters, I could not put it down. I encourage readers to take a chance, to open themselves up to the subject matter of this book and to possibly forgive the few sluggish parts and the rushed ending, but to take their time and find their tempo so that they can hear the story that is being told.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Champagne Conspiracy

Title: The Champagne Conspiracy
Author: Ellen Crosby
Expected Publication: November 1st 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press / Minotaur Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Wine Country Mysteries #7

Secrets, lies, greed and blackmail – pretty much the whole kitchen sink was included in the newest in the Wine Country Mystery series by Ellen Crosby, five years after The Sauvignon Secret, the reader finds Lucie Montgomery and her winery doing better than expected. Everything and everyone are on track until Gino Tomassi barges onto the vineyard property and accuses his cousin Quinn Santori of blackmail and deceit.

The two set out to solve the mysterious death of Zara Ingrasso Tomassi, Gino’s grandfather’s first wife, the daughter of a Prohibition-era congressman and possibly the mistress of President Warren Harding. At the same time, WWII veteran Roxy Willoughby dies and it is discovered that there was a last minute change to her will. At first blush, the two deaths decades apart do not seem related, that is until Lucie digs deeper and discovers too many similarities.

Where there is money there is greed and Lucie is determined to answer the questions that everyone else wants to keep hidden. It does get twisty since there are many parts to this story and from time to time, you are going to have to remind yourself who is related to whom and from which branch of the family, but after that, the story bounces along with an even tempo and might have you running to do a little side research.

There is a great deal going on in this book with the reader moving from story line to story line, then add in references from The Great Gatsby and Murder on the Orient Express and you will find yourself burrowing deeply to get to the end of this book and thankful that Ellen Crosby returned to this series. Other than following a titling trend, there is very little in this book about Champagne, granted there is a great deal about conspiracies, maybe Claret Conspiracy would have been better since a British saying was a turning point for Lucie.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ghost Times Two

Title: Ghost Times Two
Author: Carolyn Hart
Published: October 4th 2016 by Berkley
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Paranormal
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Bailey Ruth #7

If you could forgive the repetitiveness of this book – the repeated naming of the characters and their outfits, Ghost Times Two would have been an entertaining read. I do not know why Carolyn Hart continues to describe excessively, but that does seem to be her modus operandi.

Bailey Ruth, an emissary from Heaven, is once again sent back to Adelaide, Oklahoma to guide a lingering soul that does not want leave the love of his life and ascend the golden staircase. Jimmy is determined to stay by Megan’s side until she can see for herself that Blaine is not the right man for her and while he is still around to help clear her name in a murder or two.

During stressful times, anyone can question their sanity, but hearing voices is making Megan a bit confused. That is until she learns to accept, begrudgingly, that help from the other side is what it is going to take to clear her name and get to the bottom of this fiasco.

If you have not read the previous books, you might want to start there even though Ms. Hart does a good job in rehashing whom Bailey Ruth is and how she became an emissary. How she is perpetually flummoxing Wiggins – the Heavenly dispatcher, how the precepts are a nice idea yet she can never seem to stick to them, and how twenty-seven is the perfect age.

Yet again, this is another series that I continue with even though I have no idea why. The writing is basic and the plot lags in places. The monotony of excessive description tends to have the reader skipping whole paragraphs and the multitudes of wardrobe changes are over the top. Granted, there is humor and a break from reality is what is needed occasionally, but whole chunks of this book could be removed and the story would still hold.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Storm Front

Title: Storm Front
Author: Jim Butcher
Published: April 2000 by Penguin ROC
Format: Paperback, 355 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Dresden Files #1

This is not my typical read; there is something about urban fantasy that has never really appealed to me, yet after a friends urging, I picked up this book with a great deal of reluctance and by the end, I was surprised that Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, a wizard of all things, had me curious about book number two.

You are right, I am coming into this series very late and not a particular fan of this genre, but when it comes to investigation type storylines, all the boxes were checked. A damsel in distress looking for her wayward husband. A down on his luck detective with a barely functioning car who does not have a very good reputation with the local constabulary. Said law enforcement does not like said wizard but needs his help when a couple is found dead with their bodies having been horribly savaged. A case that starts sliding sideways early on so you add a bit of female distraction. Not to show favoritism, if you are going to throw in a wizard why not other beings, let’s say, a vampiress. Bad guys that want everyone dead so their private “ThreeEye” enterprise can continue. Pizza loving faeries are always good to have around and continuing down that road a couple magic spells, demons, a spirit that lives in a skull on a bookcase, a giant scorpion and to balance things out a normal love interest.

Not all parts of this book were appealing, but I did enjoy the humor. Who could not laugh with a book that borders on the ridiculous but keeps you shaking you head all the way through? Harry is likable but after book number two, I just might find myself heading over to the DVD’s since the first book was more on the visual side and I think that they might be even more appealing to watch.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Random Acts

Title: Random Acts
Author: R. A. Jance
Published: August 9th 2016 by Witness Impulse
Format: eBook; Pgs 112
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Ali Reynolds #11.5; Joanna Brady #16.6

I was surprised that this was billed as both a Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds novella since Ali plays such a small and insignificant part. Even Joanna had mentioned that it was strange how Ali had reached out to her when they barely knew each other.

Yet, reach out is exactly what Ali did when Joanna’s mother and stepfather are in a devastating accident and Ali, with High Noon Enterprises is there to run surveillance, that is after she questions who is going to pay for it, to capture the person that is responsible.

I guess J. A. Jance was trying to grab a larger audience by including Ali Reynolds, but there really was no benefit to that series with this novella.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Sinner

Title: The Sinner
Author: Amanda Stevens
Published: September 27th 2016 by Mira
Format: eBook, Paperback, 384 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Graveyard Queen #5

‘The Sinner’ was clearly worth the wait. It took me a couple of chapters to find the cadence that is very much an Amanda Stevens book, but once there, I could not put it down.

Book number five in the Graveyard Queen Series has Amelia Gray back doing what she loves. The restoration of graveyards is backbreaking work, but it a field that she has been drawn to. Maybe it is the history or maybe it is the unbound energy left behind by the dead, either way, she has taken a commission to restore the Seven Gates Cemetery in Ascension, South Carolina. What she did not expect was the discovery of a mortsafe and for that matter, a newly deceased young woman found trapped within. Mortsafes have a history dating back to an era when the wealthy could protect their recently deceased from grave robbers, but that is not the case here, there is something much darker occurring and once again Amelia is drawn into a murkier world, this one of transmigrated souls.

There are many layers and paths that have you not sure as to which way to turn. You will find yourself as untrusting as Amelia and just when you think that she has found peace, and you can catch your breath, you too are taken on the next turn of this rocky upheaval. Like me, you may have a struggle with the beginning of this book, but once you get to the midway point, it is a quick and scary ride to the end.

Monday, October 10, 2016

An Obvious Fact

Title: An Obvious Face
Author: Craig Johnson
Published: September 13th 2016 by Viking
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group Viking for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Walt Longmire #12

Is Walt Longmire the Sherlock Homes of the west? I never really thought about it that way, but when you get to the section of this book where he describes abductive and deductive reasoning, you cannot help but to draw a parallel.

Walt and Henry Standing Bear arrive in Hulett, Wyoming, a town that is hosting 500 bikers for an annual rally so Henry can compete in the Jackpine Gypsie Hill Climb an event that he won years ago and would like another chance at. What he did not expect was to come face to face with Lola. Yes, that Lola, the one that he named his ’59 Thunderbird after, the person that he considers poison. What he was not prepared for was her son, Bodaway Torres. A young man that may or may not be his child and who is barely holding onto life in the ICU.

It is clear from the beginning that Bodaway’s crash was no accident and now the ATF is making their presence known. Since Bodaway’s motorcycle was not large enough to be carrying drugs, Walt is sure that it is the “F” part of that acronym that has everyone’s attention. The picture is not adding up until he finds a small plastic cube that had been hidden away and suddenly a clearer image is forming.

When an ATF agent is found with a bullet in his chest and a secretive bunker is discovered in the hills, Walt cannot let things slide. So with the help of Vic, Henry and a 250-lb ham loving dog, plus a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to help them get into the trickier spots, you can image that thing will be whipped into shape quickly.

For the first half of this book, I was genuinely disappointed and wondered what was going on. I have loved Craig Johnson’s book, but this one seems to be starting slow and just staying there. Then you hit the middle of the book and every time you think that you have it figured out something worse comes along and complicates it even further.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Vanish

Title: Vanish
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Published: August 29th 2006 by Ballantine Books
Format: Paperback, 401 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Rizzoli and Isles #5

Boston Medical Examiner Maura Isles is used to hearing her building making noises at night when everyone else is gone, what she did not expect was to find a corpse alive. Calling for an ambulance, this unknown woman is rushed to the hospital and thus begins a far-reaching investigation that has the reader not knowing for sure who the good guys and bad guys are.

Jane Rizzoli cannot be too far from both the crazy and the dangerous so during courtroom testimony a very pregnant and overdue Jane tackles a defendant thus conveniently breaking her water and necessitating her own trip to the emergency room.

Thus, the two stories converge.

Turns out the not quite dead woman, Olena, is now holding people in the emergency room hostage so she can tell her story of government contractors enslaving and murdering her friends. During the negotiations, Rizzoli’s husband FBI agent Gabriel Dean enters the picture. Turns out that the hostage takers will only speak with one person, a local writer that they had contact with in the past. This does not sit well with those in charge, but Gabriel does whatever it takes to keep Jane safe.

In an overkill maneuver, everyone but Jane and Gabriel are dead and when the federal agents swoop in and remove all the evidence, something does not feel right to these two well-trained agents. Within days of giving birth, Jane and her husband are on the trail of the real reason the federal government wanted Olena dead.

As I said, telling the good guys from the bad is a bit twisty and that will keep the reader engaged. The books are nothing like the television series and interplay between Rizzoli and Isles is minimal. There are parts that are unrealistic, but this is fiction and you have to give the writer some leeway. Overall, the further that I get into this series, the more that I am enjoying it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White

Title: Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White
Author: Melissa Sweet
Published: October 4th 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 176 pages
Genre: Childrens
Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Source: My thanks to Amazon Vine for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book

When I first picked up this book, I put it down right away, I am not a fan of the scrapbook style, but giving it a couple of days, I tried again and loved what I had found the second time around.

Coming from a large family that was more like a small kingdom unto themselves, young En lacked for nothing except confidence. As the youngest son of a piano man, there were many instruments but no real talent in the White household and as a creative outlet, Elwyn Brooks White began journal writing and would always end his entries with a question so he would have something to think about when he fell asleep.

Being full of curiosity, he had missed the first couple of days at Cornell University because he was drawn to the city and all it had to offer. It was during his senior year that this young man decided to take up writing as a career since he was in no hurry to have a regular job.

Thus begins the writing adventures of one of the most beloved authors of our time. Not quite hiding away in Maine, but being where he was meant to be, enabled “a spider, a pig, a gaggle of geese and all the other animals (including a rat)” to come to life.

Told in traditional and scrapbook style with copies of original manuscripts and in depth research, Melissa Sweet once again brings this beloved man to life. From his quips regarding Stuart Little “would seem to be for children, but I’m not fussy who reads it” to his studying spiders for a year to get them just right, E.B. “Andy” White comes alive once again.

As William Shawn once wrote, “he was ageless and his writing timeless” and because of that, both parents and children alike will be drawn to this brilliant book.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Behind Chocolate Bars

Title: Behind Chocolate Bars
Author: Kathy Aarons
Expected Publication: October 4th 2016 by Berkley
Format: ebook; Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Chocolate Covered Mystery #3

Good thing that sob/tear/cry were not drinking words or I would not have made it through this book. I do not recall the last time that certain words popped out so obviously in a book, but after a while, they became quite annoying.

Best friends Michelle Serrano and Erica Russell run their respective businesses Chocolates and Chapters out of the same storefront in the sleepy little town of West Riverdale. While preparing for the annual Halloween fair, the body of a woman is discovered in an unfinished housing development, nicknamed Cuesta Verde aft the Poltergeist movies and it appears that Dylan Fenton, their new teenage intern and his friends from Erica’s comic book club, know more than they are willing to tell. Faith Monette, or whatever name she is currently going by, has left a trail of unhappy men and with Dylan’s arrest for her death, Michelle and Erica jump right into the fray to save their new friend.

After their last mystery solving adventure, Michelle and Erica wanted no part in this investigation that is until Reese Everhard, the annoying local newspaper blogger invents some lurid headings, and they feel that it is their duty to clear this young man’s name.

Surprisingly, Kathy Aarons introduces a subject matter that is not often discussed in the cozy mystery arena. Michelle’s brother Leo continues to suffer the effects of his time in Afghanistan and with his recent motorcycle accident and Michelle’s life in danger, he spirals down into a PTSD depression that he might not get out of. This brother and sister team is all that they have left of their family and with their love for each other, they will make it through as long as this cannot compare to the worst day of their lives.

There are additional marginal stories going on in this book and most of them have no true relevance. The reader is constantly jumping for one antic to the next and then brought back to the chocolate shop and the truffles that Michelle are either selling or inventing. Maybe it was me, but the book was too busy, half of the layers that Kathy Aarons tried to add could have easily been removed and the story would have had a more consistent flow.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Releases

The Study in Scarlet Women
Sherry Thomas

Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 18th 2016 by Berkley

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.


The Magnolia Story
Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines

Hardcover, 208 pages
Expected publication: October 18th 2016 by Thomas Nelson

Are you ready to see your fixer upper?

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like Who are these people?What s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America s new best friends.

The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.

They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.

In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover: The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby Joanna s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck Joanna s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple Memories and photos from Chip and Jo s wedding The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way

And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? Oh yeah, says Joanna. He was, and still is, my first fixer upper. "


Ghost Times Two
Carolyn Hart

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2016 by Berkley

Bailey Ruth Raeburn’s latest mission is to guide the happy-go-lucky spirit of a deceased young man named Jimmy to the next life. But Jimmy is determined to watch over his still-living girlfriend Megan, whom he wants to be happy even without him—which is easier said than done.

As if being haunted by her late boyfriend wasn’t enough, Megan is dealing with an arrogant, manipulative senior partner who threatens to fire Megan’s vulnerable secretary if Megan accepts a partnership at another law firm. She’s in an impossible bind.

Since Jimmy refuses to move on while Megan is being blackmailed, Bailey Ruth agrees to help him. But after the partner turns up dead and Megan is found at the crime scene, Bailey Ruth and Jimmy have to find a way to uncover a killer before the love of Jimmy’s life is ordered to spend a lifetime behind bars...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Preaching to the Corpse

Title: Preaching to the Corpse
Author: Roberta Isleib
Published: December 4th 2007 by Berkley
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 238 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Advice Column Mystery #2

Who knew that searching for a new pastor would be so difficult and so deadly? Dr. Rebecca Butterman had no intentions of becoming a member of the pastoral search committee, but when Lacy Bailes is found dead and an intern pastor is sent careening down a greased staircase, Rebecca takes it upon herself to not only find out why the last pastor left suddenly, but also discover who wanted Lacy out of the way, and in so doing, finds a couple of secrets among these upstanding citizens.

This is the second book in the Advice Column Mysteries series and unfortunately, it is no better than the first. I found both of the books to be on the uninspired side and though Roberta Isleib tries to create interest in her characters, they come out to be on the dull side. She tries to add in a couple of sparks between Rebecca and Detective Meigs who we found out in the last book is married, but still there is nothing there. Maybe this new Bob person will spark something in book number three.

I am not going to completely discount this series since there is still one more book, I will read it but at the same time, if it is like the previous two, I will be glad when it is over.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Woman of God

Title: Woman of God
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Published: September 26th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Amazon Vine for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

It still amazes me how much I enjoyed this book. Granted, it does stretch the superhero capabilities of a main character and the religious reality of today, but this is why they call it fiction.

Brigid Fitzgerald is not your usual protagonist. She is a physician, from a scarred upbringing, making life and death decisions during her work with Kind Hands, an organization that brings medical care to war torn regions. South Sudan is a horrible place where life has no meaning and the warring factions make all the rules. Where the unsterile conditions are just as hazardous as the surgeries that are being performed on the refugees.

The reader is taken on a whirlwind ride where loss is all too common in Brigid’s life. From the aid workers who have just arrived at the camp to a marriage and child to Berlin then back to Boston. Throughout her journey, she questions what her purpose is and if she meant to be in the middle of such turmoil. Faith has never been easy, but what could God’s plan be that is filled with so much grief? She tries to turn her back on God but each person who enters her life bears an answer forcing her to be in constant struggle with her faith.

In walks James Aubrey – a priest unjustly accused of a crime and threatened by the archdiocese. When he can no longer take the abuse from the narrow thinking guidelines, he breaks off and forms his own place of worship. Breaking centuries old rules, the community and eventually the world, flock to his place of worship.

This is where the book is going to lose some readers. Reality is stretched here but once again, that is why they call it fiction.

Brigid makes a life altering decision and in doing so, she once again is forced to ask “why”. As I said, her life is not easy, but there was always a plan. Holy visions and mystical experiences have been a part of Brigid’s life since her time in the Sudanese desert, now it is time to see what it all meant and how it has led to a private audience with the pope.

A tale of perseverance, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro has given their readers a unique book that is not their usual. Entertaining some and irritating others, this book will definitely give readers something to think about.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Trial

Title: The Trial
Author: James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
Published: July 5th 2016 by BookShots
Format: eBook, Paperback Pgs 110
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Women's Murder Club #15.5

At least Lindsay Boxer is not the sniveling annoyance that she was in the last book – The Affair. This is one of those rare occurrences when a half book redeemed a character and repaired mistakes made in a previous book.

Kingfisher, the head of a drug cartel that was supposedly dead, has made a sudden reappearance and Lindsay is on his radar. He has made the mistake of killing two women in a crowded bar and with both witnesses and evidence it does not look like he will get away with it this time. No one is taking what this man can do for granted and even from behind cell doors, he is able to make his wishes known.

With one juror dead and a shootout in the streets, the San Francisco Police Department needs this to go away fast and the only person that can get to him is his estranged wife. Will she convince the Kingfisher to end this bloodshed or has a new turf war just begun?

James Patterson’s Bookshots fall somewhere between a short story and a novella. You have to know the characters to understand their interplay, yet, the story can hold its own. They may not appeal to everyone, but for me, this one worked and thankfully, Lindsay has been able to rebuild some of her backbone.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Temptation Ridge

Title: Temptation Ridge
Author: Robyn Carr
Published: March 1st 2009 by Mira Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: Virgin River #6

When it comes to the Virgin River series, I have to take a big deep breath and remember that this is just fiction, that a town like this does not exist anywhere other than the deep imaginings of Robyn Carr, yet there is a part of me that wishes that it did. No town or its people are this perfect. No town comes together in the ways that the Virgin River folks do and more importantly, no men are this perfect. Actually, no women are either, nevertheless, I still come back to this series book after book.

What I enjoy the most about this series are the minor characters in the previous books, tend to make a giant splash somewhere down the line. This time, Shelby McIntyre, the general’s niece, comes to Virgin River while deciding on which college to apply to for nursing school. She is a young twenty-five since she has spent the last five years caring for her invalid mother and has literally been locked away from the world. In addition to her big education plans, she wants to find the perfect man, she even has a list, so when Luke Riordan shows up, and does not check off even one item on this menu, she decides to jump into some very rugged waters.

Luke is a bit jaded and with his experiences as both a Blackhawk pilot and one-night stand expert, an innocent girl is not on his to do list. He knows that they are wrong for each other, but then again, the heart knows what the heart wants and when Shelby opens a locked door to him, there is no stopping this duo.

There is sadness in this book when a much-loved character dies, the town is left reeling, but at the same time, it does open the possibility of a new romance and new babies for this town. The usual characters make their appearances and the reader will be glad to know that even with change, Virgin River will remain the same.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Leave Me

Title: Leave Me
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: September 6th 2016 by Algonquin Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 343 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Algonquin Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

There was no depth to any of the characters in Gayle Foreman’s newest release. When I began the book, I was not sure who I would dislike more, Maribeth for her “oh, poor me” attitude or her husband Jason for his selfishness.

It is obvious from the start that this couple are ill suited for both being parents and for that matter, being married. One is whining over the self-imposed role of having to do everything and the other seems to be completely unaware of what is happening within their home. It is not until a near fatal heart attack and family abandonment when role reversals are realized and the past is hit head on do the two habitants get a clearer understanding of what brought them to the point and how they will move forward.

Leave me, both being the title of the book and the reality that you might have to leave who you think you are, to arrive at the person that you need to be, scarcely scratches the surface of what could have been a deeper study of family realities in the aftermath of a near tragedy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Diva Serves High Tea

Title: The Diva Serves High Tea
Author: Krista Davis
Published: June 7th 2016 by Berkley
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Domestic Diva Mystery #10

I am confident that you are going to need more than a cup of tea to keep this twisted tale straight. Krista Davis has done her best to create as much confusion as possible and the play on names only adds to the story.

With two new shops in town, tea and antique, Sophie Winston and her friends have a nice place to hang out and gossip; little do they know that both will bring a new mystery to Old Town, Virginia - a charming place that does have its fair share of murder and secrets.

What begins with a break in at Natasha’s house ends with relationships broken all because of love. I know that sounds strange, but this tenth installment of the Domestic Diva series has the whole gang investigating the poisoning death of a man that has more than one skeleton in his closet.

I do admit that I had gotten confused with some of the characters and for some reason I had thought a couple of them were much younger than they really were. Add in the usual craziness and subterfuge and you have a better than average cozy mystery to sort out before your pot of tea turns cold.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Releases

An Obvious Fact
Craig Johnson
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by Viking
Series: Walt Longmire #12

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend Henry Standing Bear are called to Hulett, Wyoming—the nearest town to America's first national monument, Devils Tower—to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry's '59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt's granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won't stop quoting, "There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."


The Wonder
Emma Donoghue
Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: September 20th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.


The Sinner
Amanda Stevens
Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: September 27th 2016 by Mira
Series Graveyard Queen #5

I'm a cemetery restorer by trade, but my calling has evolved from that of ghost seer to death walker to detective of lost souls. I solve the riddles of the dead so the dead will leave me alone.

I've come to Seven Gates Cemetery nursing a broken heart, but peace is hard to come by…for the ghosts here and for me. When the body of a young woman is discovered in a caged grave, I know that I've been summoned for a reason. Only I can unmask her killer. I want to trust the detective assigned to the case for he is a ghost seer like me. But how can I put my faith in anyone when supernatural forces are manipulating my every thought? When reality is ever-changing? And when the one person I thought I could trust above all others has turned into a diabolical stranger?


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Most Wanted

Title: Most Wanted
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: April 12th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 438 pages
Genre: Fiction

Leave it to Lisa Scottoline to take a blessed event and add one twist that leads the reader down the path of “what-ifs” and “what’s next” and “is this really possible”.

Life seems to be perfect for Christine Nilsson and her husband, Marcus. Unable to conceive a child on their own, they consult a fertility specialist and use a donor. One morning as Christine is getting ready for her day, she glances at the television to see a news report on the arrest of a serial killer – a man that looks identical to the picture that she has of her donor. A man that is being charged with killing three nurses in two states. Is it possible that she is carrying a child with half of the genetic make-up of a killer?

This is the winding, and at times unrealistic, plot that Ms. Scottoline is taking her readers on. Homestead Bank refuses to answer her inquiries as to who Donor 3319 is. With Christine and her husband reacting differently, they each take separate paths to reach the answer that is tearing their marriage apart. Putting both her life and that of her unborn child at risk, Christine jumps head first into her own investigation and with the help of her best friend and a cantankerous attorney, she will stop at nothing to get the answers that she is desperately looking for.

The book is fast paced and emotional, but in the end, too many parts were improbable. There are the obvious ethical and moral dilemmas that might make for a good book club read, but in the end, the reader is still left shaking their head.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Red Bandanna: Welles Crowther, 9/11, and the Path to Purpose

Title: The Red Bandanna: Welles Crowther, 9/11, and the Path to Purpose
Author: Tom Rinaldi
Expected Publication: September 6th 2016 by Penguin Press
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Genre: Biography
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
This book has an incredibly slow start and if it does not lose its readers before they are a third of the way through, it will not reach its truest potential. It is not until this point that the powerful writing comes out. It is nice to see the young boy that Welles Crowther was, the six year old that a father had given a red bandanna to that turned into his signature, but it is the man that will stick with the reader. A man that had dreamed of being a firefighter, but went on to study finance at Boston College and was in Tower 2 on that fateful day of September 11th, 2001.

In a selfless fatal choice, this twenty-four year old man that no one knew by name but could be identified by his commanding voice and his red bandanna, led countless people down to safety, chose to run back up the stairwell to search for more survivors. A man that his family and friends loved and needed was not thinking about himself, he was doing what his heart was telling him was his purpose.

He was never the biggest or most talented kid on the team, but he had passion and leadership skills. He was the one that others turned to and when his voice called out to those trapped in the building to followed him -if you can stand up, stand up and help the ones that you can help. They sound like simple words, but that is what was needed – a leader.

To this day, Welles Crowther has made a lasting impact to his college and to those that he has touched. Lives have changed, and will continue to change, because of the choices that he had made. He could have thought of only himself and run out of that building, but that is not who he was. He may not have been a recognized firefighter at that moment, but he was as much of a hero as the men and women wearing their turnout gear that day.

In the end, “an event held just once before in the 141 years since the department’s founding”, Welles Crowther attained his lifelong desire and his family could not have been any prouder of the son that they had raised.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pushing Up Daisies

Title: Pushing Up Daisies
Author: MC Beaton
Expected Publication: September 20th 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook; Hardcover, 288 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Agatha Raisin #27

After not enjoying the last couple of books in the Agatha Raisin series, I was surprised as to how much this book appealed to me. It was almost to the point that I had wondered if there was a ghostwriter. Multiple story lines that bounced back and forth effortlessly with pop culture references and even Mrs. Bloxby was given a first name.

We all know that Agatha has a tendency to be jealous, so when her best friend Mrs. Bloxby, wife of the vicar, starts taking better care of herself when a new man moves to Carsley, Agatha has to act quickly to get this situation under control. Gerald Devere, a retired New Scotland Yard detective with a curious past, seems to have appeared in the nick of time since Agatha needs help with a new investigation and what better way to keep an eye on him then to make him her newest hire.

Village allotments are warzones that create competition amongst the villagers and when the landowner threatens to plow them under to create housing, bodies start appearing and it is up to Agatha and her band of investigators to get to the bottom of all this nastiness. Revenge and sabotage seem to be the central themes of this book with the suspects being legion. Add in diamonds, great big red herrings and a fair amount of bed hopping, and you have an above average romp through Carsley.

I am still questioning who the real author is, but if they keep up this level of writing, who am I to complain.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure

Title: Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure
Author: Nancy Atherton
Published: May 24th 2016 by Viking
Format: Hardcover, 231 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Aunt Dimity Mystery #21

The Aunt Dimity books are already short for a novel – less than 250 pages – so when Nancy Atherton spends a good third of her books rehashing what the reader already knows, it make what should be a pleasant couple of hours a frustrating endeavor.

In Finch, “a sleepy speck of a village where nothing of note had ever happened”, residents can turn any simple thing into a drama. When new renters move into Ivy Cottage, the villagers see boxes marked “museum” and suddenly go into a tizzy that outsiders are determined to ruin their peaceful existence. This could not be further from the truth; still they begin to spin out of control until the ‘lurkers in the lane’ can talk Lori Shepherd into investigating.

Little did Lori know that the simple task of meeting James and Felicity Hobson and offering them a blender would throw an unexpected curve at her from no one other than Aunt Dimity Westwood herself. It appears that the dearly departed had quite a secret and now Lori is gallivanting to London to find an old friend of Dimity’s and to discover a hidden secret in her own backyard.

“Some things are best left buried” is the ongoing theme of this book. It seems that bringing in a metal detector cannot only find treasures and reveal secrets; it can also right a wrong.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes

Title: Damn Delicious: 100 Super Easy, Super Fast Recipes
Author: Chungah Rhee
Expected Publication: September 6th 2016 by Oxmoor House
Format: Softcover, 240 pages
Genre: Cooking
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Time, Inc Books for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
I have been a fan of Chungah Rhee’s blog postings for a couple years now and when I saw that she was putting her tried and true, plus a couple of new, recipes in a cookbook, I was eager to get my fingers on a copy and see both new recipes and her amazing photography. To be honest, I am not sure if all the photos in the book are hers, some are familiar, but I do know that what she has been showing on her blog are delicious to look at. One of the best things in this cookbook – each recipe is accompanied with a photo of what it will look like. That is a feature which is missing in so many other books and one that I look for specifically.

From her smarter shopping strategies, solutions and shortcuts to recipe keys to simple tips, her quick low fuss budget friendly recipes are simple enough that even a beginning cook or college student can quickly and easily have dinner on the table in no time.

Recipes cover breakfast, one-pot meals, better than takeout adaptations, salads, slow cooker, pasta, quick meat and fish suppers, foil wrapped for either the oven or BBQ, appetizers and sides, drinks and desserts – who could resist trying a 6 minute cookie in a mug made in a microwave oven.

Some of the food combinations might seem a bit strange, but give them a chance, Chungah Rhee will really surprise you with her creative use of ingredients that can be easily found in any supermarket. She also includes recipes that use leftovers, which is always a benefit.

Each recipe includes calorie and nutritional information. Plus, there is a page in the back with measurement equivalents and even metric conversations.

I am so glad that she included the Asian Garlic Noodles, this is one of my all-time favorite recipes that finds its way to my table a couple of times a month and do not turn your nose up at the Avocado Pasta, it might look strange, but it is delicious.

I have never had a failure with her blog recipes and with many of them here, I am sure that the new additions will be just as amazing and I for one am looking forward to a couple more additional to my weekly dinner repertoire.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Man Called Ove

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: July 15th 2014 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 337 pages
Genre: Fiction

I am not usually good with translated books. Something always seems to be missing or the flow does not capture me. I went into A Man Called Ove apprehensively and came out a fan of Fredrik Backman.

Ove is the neighborhood curmudgeon, he maintains very strict rules as to the neighborhood appearance and with his daily walk, he has no problem pointing out any dereliction of duty. Cars, other than emergency vehicles, are not allowed to drive on the street, bicycles are to be put away in the shed, you must use proper tools for a job and above all, you must drive a Saab. Ove is a sad man, life has handed him one blow after another and he has decided that there is no reason to continue living. That is, until a family moves in to the house next to him and on moving day takes out his mailbox. Thus begins a sort of resurgence for Ove, a man who is not very good at dying suddenly finds friendship, love and an important to those around him.

I am not sure if "dramedy" is really a word, but it does describe this book very well. A man that has been battered by the world yet seemed to keep a very dry sense of humor. A man with a sour disposition but if you are willing to look past it, as did Parvaneh, you will see a battered puppy that just wants to be loved. Not everyone would have the patience with this man, but it does pay off for those that he allows in.

In bits and pieces, Ove’s story is told, not always in the most politically correct of terms, but that is not what he is here for. He is a straight to the point kind of man and if he has taken you on as a friend, even if you are “bent”, you will be protected in a way that no one ever (except for his beloved Sonja) had ever protected him.

This is a character driven book - even the cat has a very distinctive place and persona. Once you get to the end, you will find yourself missing each and every one of them. Fredrik Bachman is a new to me author and I will be seeking out his subsequent books – ‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry’, ‘Britt-Marie Was Here’ and ‘And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer’.