Monday, May 29, 2017

A Stranger in Mayfair

Title: A Stranger in Mayfair
Author: Charles Finch
Published: November 9th 2010 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Charles Lennox #4

I know that people love this book, but for some reason, I just could not connect. The humor was there and the characters were just as intriguing as ever, yet, for me, something was missing.

Charles Lenox and Lady Jane Grey are now married and have returned from their honeymoon. Charles is about to take his seat in parliament when a friend, Ludovic Starling, contacts him in regards to the murder of the son of one of Starlings’ former housekeepers.

Charles loves his sleuthing, but now with his position in parliament and having to decide what to do with an extra butler in their combined households; Charles is drawn in too many directions. With the help of Graham as his newly installed secretary and John Dallington as his sleuthing buddy, all seems on the right track until Toto, a close friend of Lady Jane’s has a child and the idea of Charles and Lady Jane adding to their family keep the two lovebirds in a constant state of unease.

As I said, not my favorite. I think what bothered me the most was Charles Lennox’s wishy-washy attitude towards his wife and marriage. The “oh darling, whatever you want is perfectly fine with me”, started to grate on me. I do hope that in further books, Charles will grow a backbone and he and Jane can be the dynamic duo that I remember from previous books.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Paradise Valley

Title: Paradise Valley
Author: Robyn Carr
Published: April 1st 2009 by Mira
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: Virgin River #7

I have a love hate relationship with this series. I love coming back to familiar characters and guessing who will be the main attraction in her next book, but I hate, if you will, the idealized version of the men and women that she writes about.

Rick is back from Iraq sooner than expected and his relationship with Liz is put to the test. How this played out would have made more sense of they were both older, but I feel that Robyn Carr has put too much maturity into a relationship where neither is old enough to drink. There was an interesting exchange between Rick and Shady Dan that I did not see coming and with any luck, that was all Rick needed to keep his head on straight.

Muriel and the General are adorable. I hope that they continue in this series. Their story is slowly unfolding and that is the way that it should be.

Whiney Abby and her pregnancy were beginning to grate on my nerves. Why she had to make it so hard on everyone around her, including the father was pushing me beyond my limits.

Shady Dan, the pot farmer, from a few books back has reappeared and has cleaned up his ways. He is now living in the rental home of the town’s ex-drunk Cheryl and with her living out of town, he has started wooing her and it appears that they are both remodeling their lives as he is remodeling her home.

For me, this series will take a while to get through. It is just too syrupy sweet at times and does not ring true when compared to the real world. Maybe that is what escapist romantic fiction is all about and I need to step away from my cynical ways.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Path of the Crooked

Title: The Path of the Crooked (aka Stirring up Strife)
Author: Ellery Adams
Published: December 29th 2009 by Minotaur Books
Format: ebook, 247 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Hope Street #1

When the book started, I was fine with the relaxed modest tone. Unfortunately, as the story went on, it became tiresome and began to drag on unrelentingly.

Lead character Cooper Lee, when she is not repairing office equipment, is attending Bible Study. Having recently ended a long-term relationship, she is looking forward to a new direction and friends. What she did not expect was that the person who had invited her to attend services was recently found murdered.

With cozy mysteries being what they are, Cooper quickly jumps in with her fellow study cohorts to solve this rather twisted mystery. Obviously, the husband was too easy of a target and when Cooper literally starts putting the pieces together a name and a convoluted story comes to life.

No, this is not a series that I will be continuing, though I do enjoy other works of Ellery Adams, the next book in this Hope Street series will not be appearing on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Hospitality and Homicide

Title: Hospitality and Homicide
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Published: May 16th 2017 by Lyrical Underground
Format: eBook
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: A Tourist Trap Mystery #8

This is one of those series where I cannot say that it is my favorite, but I do find myself going back every time there is a new release.

When mystery author Nathan Pike arrives in South Cove looking for a peaceful and private place to take on his next writing project, no one knew that an integral scene would be played out in real life. As fingers are pointed and gossip spreads, there is more going on in the background than the people of this sleepy tourist town know.

Lynn Cahoon is trying to move her regular characters forward, but I am confused when she has the main character Jill Gardener taking what are supposed to be graduate courses in business but sound more like undergrad type of work. Then again, I do tend to get caught up in the minutia.

Esmeralda is still reeling from an old case where she was wrong in her prediction and now another boy is missing and no one will take her seriously. She cannot survive another disaster and there is nothing that Jill can do for her since Jill has her own problems with both school and trying to run her book and coffee shop with an ever-decreasing number of employees and deciding if it would be a good time to move her personal relationship forward.

This is a story of bad blood. The past seems to be getting in the way of each of the characters in different ways. Who will be able to move forward and who believes that revenge is the only way out?

Monday, May 8, 2017

16th Seduction

Title: 16th Seduction
Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro****
Published: May 1st 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Women's Murder Club #16

Half way through the book, the reader gets the feeling that the case is all tied up and you begin to wonder if the author confused this book with his Bookshots novellas only to have it take off in a different direction to fill in in the next hundred or so pages, then everything is tied up with a pretty bow in a rushed ending that left questions. Sometimes I wonder about this author, but I have invested this much time in the Women’s Murder Club series that I find myself reading each new installment no matter my opinion of the last. The best I can say, Lindsay is not the whining mess that she was in the last book.

As a quick summary, you have a bomber heading to an airport doing the work of a TLA (three letter acronym) group, a bomb going off at a science center with an equally ridiculous name - that was witnessed by Lindsay and Joe while they are having a “let’s learn to trust each other again dinner”, a faulty confession, devastating injuries that quickly heal in a manner that are nothing short of miraculous. Then to fill out the book, a serial killer is making his way around San Francisco. There is a court trial that is both rushed and ridiculous since no district attorney would take it on with so little evidence. Liars. Sociopaths. The usual cast of characters.

After trudging through this monotonous book, I do have to say that I was impressed with Cindy finally standing up to Lindsay with her “you’re not the boss of me speech”, it was a long time coming and for me, the only bright spot of the book.

If you are looking for a good laugh and an honest recap, I suggest that you track down the digested version of 16th Seduction written by John Crace at the Guardian, he nailed this book.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ginny Moon

Title: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig
Published: May 2nd 2017 by Park Row Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Wow. This book grabs you from the beginning and will not let go of you until the final gasp. Ginny is stuck in an aftermath. This is a new word for her but after being removed from prior foster homes; she is now with Brian and Maura – whom she refers to as her Forever Mom and her Forever Dad in the Blue House. That is when she is not referring to them by their first names.

Being somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, Ginny has a hard time with what is going on around her. She is very bright and understands that people lie and that they cannot always be reliable. This is the issue with her birth mother and ever since she was removed from Gloria, the second scariest person she knows, and her Baby Doll was placed in a suitcase for safekeeping, Ginny has been trying to get back to them. Gloria is not a safe person and is not capable of taking care of her Baby Doll and now that her aunt Crystal with a C is no longer there to help, Ginny needs to get back to the apartment so she can “take excellent care of it”.

The rules are what keep Ginny going. You do not hit, you do not steal, you do not lie, you must have nine grapes for breakfast, and exactly and approximately are not the same thing. Ginny lives a great deal in her brain. Sometimes it is hard to come up out of her brain when others are talking, especially if they ask two questions at the same time, but that is where she does the math. She loves math and when things do not add up, she finds herself as (–Ginny), which is heartbreaking when you understand what she is saying.

I love the child that Benjamin Ludwig introduced us to. Through his personal life experience, he has given a voice to a brilliant character. A coming of age teen that has to learn how to self-advocate and find her own place in the world no matter which side of the equal sign that she is on.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Garden of Small Beginnings

Title: The Garden of Small Beginnings
Author: Abbi Waxman
Expected Publication: May 2nd 2017 by Berkley Books
Format: eBook, Paperback, 368 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

When it comes to traditional women’s fiction, I usually go running in the other direction. I cannot tell you why I first picked up this book, maybe it was the cover and spring, but I can tell you that I could not put it down.

Three years before this story began, Lilian Girvan saw her husband die in a horrendous auto accident just feet away from their front door. This event sent her in a tailspin that left her in a mental hospital and two young daughters at home parentless. Each day was a struggle, but eventually she pulled herself together and with the help of her sister, they seemed to have weather that storm with only a few clouds on the horizon.

You would think that with a beginning like that, this story would be sad and depressing, but you are wrong. With the sardonic humor, you cannot help laughing aloud at what others would consider inappropriate.

Lilian now supports her little family as an illustrator and with the imminent closing of her publishing branch; she is offered an assignment to illustrate a series of vegetable gardening books that beats the current job of textbooks and whale reproductive parts. The one requirement is that she attends Saturday morning gardening classes at the Los Angeles botanical garden lead by Edward Bloem, an heir apparent to the company publishing the gardening books.

With a sundry group of fellow gardeners, Lilian, her sister Rachel, plus the girls, learn not only about gardening, but also about life. About people that are different and about how you should not always judge by outward appearances.

Falling in the genre of Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance, the reader knows from the beginning where this book is going to go, but the ride there is well worth it. Lives are examined, tears are shed, realities that were not apparent from the start continue to throw this family through the wringer, but that is the messy part of life. The toys on the floor and the dishes in the sink can wait, what is important here are the children. They are wise beyond their years and when the biting insults from a grandmother, that has her own issues, are shut down by a three year old you know that they will all make it to the happily ever after.

Not just another white knight to the rescue type of book, this book adeptly winds the reader through the many lives and loves of each character. You will find yourself missing them, their humor, their outlook, their lives and even their gardens complete with benches and fairy houses. I hope that this is not the last that we will see of Abbi Waxman, she has a special voice in this genre and I for one, will look forward to seeing what is to come.