Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Murder on Wheels

Title: Murder on Wheels
Author: Lynne Calhoon
Expected Publicaton: February 2nd 2016 by Lyrical Underground
Format: ebook, Paperback, 198 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Kensington for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Tourist Trap Mystery #6

The last book ended with some pretty hard feelings over a food truck and Murder on Wheels begins not too far after that. Dustin Austin is back with his wife Kasey (the new owner of the truck) and they are trying to rebuild their relationship and make a go of a gluten-free dessert shop on wheels.

Sadie, Dustin’s temporary love interest is suspected in Kacey’s death but there has to be more. Just because Sadie’s recipes were stolen so that Kasey could turn them gluten-free cannot be a reason to kill her. Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More located in the sleepy tourist town of South Cove, is not willing to let her friend be framed for this murder and even though she has promised her detective boyfriend Greg King that she will not get involved, she does do some snooping on the side. Add in the fact that Jill is fighting with her best friend Amy over water and the drought and that the local geocaching group has them out in the forest, you suddenly have another day in the life of Jill.

The Tourist Trap Mysteries are a very superficial cozy series. There is no depth and parts of the story are left dangling. Maybe they will be address is subsequent books, but sometimes the reader is looking for a simple start to finish account. Granted, within this genre, the owner of the small business with the token pet is supposed to be smarter than the police department, begins to wear thin. After six books, this series needs a new spark. Maybe next time, the police could actually be a step ahead of the coffee shop owner or the actual killer would not be so transparent.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Second Chance Pass

Title: Second Chance Pass
Author: Robyn Carr
Published: February 1st 2009 by Mira Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 389 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: *Virgin River #5

It took me awhile to get through this book, not because it did not appeal to me, it was another great installment in the Virgin River series, I just needed some down time and took it a bit slower.

I love how Robyn Carr uses the side characters of the previous books to create an entire story line for them. The familiar characters are still a focus, but the reader gets to see someone new in a different way. This time out, Paul and Vanni finally bring their attraction to each other to light. If you had not read the previous books, Vanni has recently given birth to her son Matty only months after her husband Matt was killed while serving in Iraq. She has asked Matt’s best friend Paul to help her through her final months of pregnancy and demanded that he stay for the birth. What Vanni did not know at the time was that Paul has been in love with her since the first time that he saw her; the only thing standing in his way was his best friend Matt, whom had gotten to her first.

Intertwined with their story are Mel and Jack and the harrowing birth of their second child. Preacher and Paige and the touching birth of their first child. Young men leaving for military service and college. Young women growing up and slightly older women finding a new chance at romance. Add to all of that, a wild fire that might reach town but not before it threatens the life of a much-loved character.

I am not a romance reader by nature so this series caught me by surprise. I cannot tell you if it is the sense of community and the very likable characters, or if it is something more. All I know is that the books hold my attention and in the back of my mind, I am always trying to figure out whom Robyn Carr will set as her new central characters of her next book.

Do not skip around; this is definitely a series that has to be read in order. Characters are slowly introduced and Robyn Carr does an excellent job in reminding her readers whom everyone, past and present, is. You will have to get used to the men being idealized and the women being just short of saint’s, but that is what romance reading is all about. You will roll your eyes from time to time with all the baby talk, but then again, the men consider it their jobs to be masters of fertility and their women are goddesses.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Title: The Swans of Fifth Avenue
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Expected Publication Date: January 26th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Fact-based narrative
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book
Truman Capote told his Swans upfront that he was a writer - yet they told him their stories. C.Z. Guest warned them about telling too much - yet they told their stories. So, is it any surprise that Truman would one day write a piece for Esquire magazine that would destroy the one true relationship that he had? Is it any surprise that the Swans turned their back and walked away from the man that brought joy and laughter to their dreary lives?

I had never heard this story before, New York high society during the 50’s and 60’s, with the likes of Babe Paley, Slim Keith, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. They had wealth, position, beauty, power and most importantly – influential friends. What they did not have was love and a true connection to another human being. They were the quintessential arm candy for their powerful husbands. Once married, they no longer held their spouse’s interest. They were there for a purpose and that was to take care of their men and make them look good. Once a wife, you were of very little consequence as long as their food was on the table and the little pesky things in life were taken care of.

In walks Truman Capote. He brought to the Swans excitement and gossip, and in return, they unlocked doors that would never have been opened to a man like him from the proverbial “wrong side of the tracks”. On the outside, he did not appear to be dangerous; he was Babe’s (wife of CBS president William S. Paley) “True Heart”, but we all know that those that we let in can hurt us the worst.

All the names are in this book. The Hollywood elite, the movers and shakers of the time, are exposed for their solicitous activities. Truman left nothing out, and in doing so, the morning after his Black and White Ball, saw him fall from grace harder than anyone could have imagined.

He did not understand why they turned on him; he told them that he was a storywriter, why did they not understand that they were his story. Melanie Benjamin takes the reader on a fascinating trip into the golden era of Manhattan society and leaves very few stones unturned in her fact-based narrative.