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 cafĂ©.

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.