Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Better Late Than Never

Title: Better Late Than Never
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Published: November 1st 2016 by Berkley
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystr
Series: Library Lover's Mystery #7

Like the previous book in the Mystery Lover's series, “A Likely Story”, Jenn McKinlay needs to stop using the word “said” (forty six times in the first chapter) every time one of her characters is speaking. Not only is it annoying, is it distracting and downright maddening.

Who knew that holding an amnesty day for overdue books at Briar Creek Library would open a twenty-year-old unsolved murder mystery, but that is exactly what happened. Lindsay Norris, director of the library, once again involves herself when she cannot let sleeping dogs lie and is determined to find who could have possibly returned the book that was last checked out by the murder victim.

Convinced that the murderer must have dropped off the book, Lindsay delves into the decades old mystery to find justice for the much loved high school English teacher Candice Whitely. What she did not realize was how many lives this woman touched and the unsubstantiated rumors that were flying around about her. As the story is revealed, with the meddlesome help of returning character Robbie Vine, Lindsay not only solves the mystery, but also clears a young woman’s name.

There were a couple of good parts to this book, some unexpected humor and a twist or two, unfortunately they were overshadowed by word repetition and the need to hide a budding romance between two unencumbered grown adults.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

May the Best Man Die

Title: May the Best Man Die
Author: Deborah Donnelly
Published: September 30th 2003 by Dell
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Carnegie Kincaid #3

Carnegie Kincaid, a Seattle based wedding planner, is not in the mood for a last minute call to a stag party, but when funds are running low she will do what she needs to do to keep a bridezilla, and her wealthy mother happy, and her business afloat. Ok, that is a play on words since her business in run out of a houseboat when it is not being quarantined over repairs.

You would think that keeping two holiday weddings on track would be the most difficult parts of Carnegie’s life, but you would be wrong. The whole idea of juggling brides, grooms, family members, florists, caterers and a whole flux of details straight pales in comparison to juggling two men and a couple of dead bodies.

It does not help that she is a pseudo witness when she peers through binoculars and sees a fight breakout between two guests, but when one is found in the canal the next morning and the other is the brother of her best friend, things heat up quickly.

Add in a corporate merger that has way too many twisty parts and an ending that seems pulled out of nowhere and you have the third book in the Carnegie Kincaid series. This is an older series that I had started years ago and had forgotten about. There are parts that stand the test of time, but other parts that did not age well. Since this book is the midway point in the series, I will trudge on when I can, but I will not be rushing for the next book.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Killer Party

Title: Killer Party
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Expected Publication: July 18th 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 #9

This series is definitely growing on me. I know that most people would not wait until the ninth book in a series to reach this conclusion, but I do believe that this just might be the best book in the series.

South Cove, on the California coast, is a tourist stopping off spot that houses a unique combination of shops and eateries. When she is not serving up coffee or enticing readers with new book releases, Jill Gardener, the owner of Coffee, Books and More, tends to get involved in local murders, which is a touchy point between Jill and her boyfriend, local detective Greg King, since Jill seems to have a better track record when it comes to solving crime.

Levi Walker, tech millionaire and best childhood friend of Greg, is hosting a friend’s weekend at The Castle, a local historical spot in South Cove. After a night of drinking and old wounds opened by the group, a body is found floating in the pool and since Greg is a little too close to this crowd, he asks Jill to do a little sleuthing on the side and get to the bottom of this latest murder.

The book follows one main storyline with a few added bits and parts tossed in along the way. The high school friends are an interesting sort with their own drama, Aunt Jackie is hauling around a five pound binder of wedding plans, Amy and Justin decide on an engagement party, there is a new shop in town, and Jill is trying to offload her responsibilities when it comes to who will represent CBM at the next planning meeting for the upcoming winter festival in South Cove.

There had better be another book in this series since this one ended with a shocking announcement by Aunt Jackie and though Jill wants answers, she is going to pull a Scarlet O’Hara and just deal with it tomorrow. Not sure what Jackie’s announcement is going to be, but I do know, Jill will be in for another adventure and this time, she might be wearing an elf costume.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Driving Miss Norma

Title: Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living
Author: Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle
Published: May 2nd 2017 by HarperOne
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Genre: Memoir

This is a hard one for me. I love what Norma’s son and daughter-in-law did for her, but throughout the book, I kept wondering if Ramie knew what a weak man that she was married to. That if anything happened to her, her husband Tim would not be able to take care of her. I have never read a memoir where a grown man would willingly tell his readers that he was too afraid of the world knowing his name, or having to leave a room when a bandage was needed. A man that left it up to his wife to be the caregiver to his own mother that he himself should have been. He came across as a very selfish child and I feel that he distracted from the story that was being told.

After the death of her husband, nonagenarian Norma received her own cancer diagnosis. When given the treatment options, of which none sounded appealing, she weighed her options and decides to hit the road with Tim and Ramie -- which is a good thing since I wonder if her son would have left her in a care facility so he could return to his own self-indulgent nomadic lifestyle. Together, this band of three plus a dog, hit the road to embark on a yearlong adventure.

From the accounts relayed, it sounded as if Norma was kept cloistered by an overbearing husband and when the opportunity to see and experience parts of the US, that she had only dreamed of, she took hold and in doing so, would slowly come out of her shell and live the life that was denied her.

There is laughter and optimism in this book, there are times when I wanted to shake a selfish man and hug a daughter-in-law. Ramie was tested in ways that she was not prepared for, yet took on so she could give a woman that she had grown to love, the final days that she deserved. This was also a healing trip for Norma, she never spoke about the death of her only daughter until she met a woman on her journey that had also lost a child and realized that sometimes people are put in your life to help you to heal and that is what both this woman and this journey did for Norma.

That is the part that I am going to focus on. I am not going to count the number of times that Tim spoke about himself or lamented that his privacy was invaded (yet he did not have a problem when he was the center of attention or free accommodations were given to them). I am going to remember Norma as a person that was finally able to live her moments and to meet and share her story with the people that would carry her to final days with a smile on her face.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool

Title: I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool
Author: Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Published: July 11th 2017 by St. Martin's Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Humorous Essays
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Every summer I look forward to the publication of their essays, but this time, it is bittersweet. In previous years, I would pop the audio into the car and listen as I took my daughter to check out colleges or to drop her off for the upcoming semester. She has now graduated and our mother daughter time listening to this mother daughter team has come to an end.

Now I am not going to get weepy over life changes, I have been doing that for the last couple of months, what I am going to do is celebrate that I have wonderful memories and as each new compilation comes out, I will remember our trips.

Each year Lisa’s essays talk to me in a different way, sorry Francesca, but your essays make me glad that I am not thirty anymore. Even though Lisa does comment on the aches and pains of aging, I would not trade them for the aches and pains of discovering who I am.

This is one of those books that you do not want to read in public, not that the cover would embarrass you, but because you will suddenly burst into uncontrollable laughter -- namely her essay on pot. That had me laughing so hard that I had to reread it again the next day to laugh some more.

Thank you ladies for a wonderfully enjoyable book and lasting memories.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Silent Corner

Title: The Silent Corner
Author: Dean Koontz
Published: June 20th 2017 by Bantam
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 464 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Jane Hawk #1

Dean Koontz loves his words and in the beginning, I was hoping for an abridged version since this book starts out a bit too wordy for my taste. A tad overly descriptive and in parts repetitive, but once the reader reaches part three and gets into the flow, the book just opens up and you find it hard to put down. I am not going to say that “The Silent Corner” is in equal running with vintage Koontz, but this book does come close.

Not a usual reader of tech/sci-fi, I am a bit out of my element when it comes to describing rogue FBI Agent Jane Hawk who after discovering a surge in suicides, including that of her highly decorated Marine husband, sets out to right the wrongs of a conspiracy that reaches the highest echelons of the technology world.

Nano brain implants are injected into those that this particular unnamed group has deemed either unnecessary or are needed to perform services for a wealthy select few. A mind-controlled group that will perform without question, or if necessary, end their own lives.

Jane is staying off grid, she has left her son in the hands of the only people that she trusts, but even with that, she knows that decisions are going to be made that will affect them all. With the help of an interesting character with access to interesting toys, Jane and Dougal head out to make a grand entrance and hopefully make a dent into this empire without having to leave her Silent Corner, that place in the world where a person can live off grid, but still be able to use the benefits of the internet.

Though this book ends, Jane’s story does not. I do not know how many installments are planned (I see that Dean is currently writing book number 3) for Jane, but with such a far-reaching conspiracy unfolding, this tough and uncompromising woman will have many either fearing her or cheering her on.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Down A Dark Road

Title: Down a Dark Road
Author: Linda Castillo
Expected Publication: July 11th 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Police Procedural / Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Kate Burkholder #9

This book was a disappointment. If it were not for the previous eight books that I could not put down, I would have given up early on. It was not until three quarters of the way through that things got interesting. Usually there are multiple plotlines in a Castillo book, but other than a brief mention of a call to graffiti on a bridge, ‘Down a Dark Road’ concentrated on a single straight line to a mediocre end.

Kate Burkholder knew that one day she would get a call that would hit too close to home. She grew up Amish and now she is the police chief of Painters Mill, the same area where she played in the creek and picked berries as a child. Now she must separate her childhood memories of Joseph King, the boy next door with the man that broke out of prison where he was serving a life sentence for killing his wife.

Kate becomes his unwilling hostage yet that is not how she is viewed. There is too much history and with a photo that could have multiple meanings, Kate is not only frantically searching for the truth, but she is also trying desperately to keep her job.

The story boils down to secrets and what a precocious 3-year-old saw. Kate will not give up, she made a promise to Sadie before she realized how deep this murder investigation went and who, in the surrounding areas of Ohio, are responsible for a cover-up.

For me, this book would have been much better if they had cut out most of the first third of this book and continued where it had ended. There would have been more “meat” to the story if she had continued with the conspiracy and brought the real criminal to justice.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

An East End Murder

Title: An East End Murder
Author: Charles Finch
Published: November 15th 2011 by Minotaur Books
Format: Kindle Edition, 32 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries #4.5

This quick novella can easily be skipped since there is no forward momentum within the series and just another way of teasing the reader into reading the included first chapter of the next book in the series.

It appears the constable’s first call is to Charles Lenox when a local man is found strangled and an interesting twist in the story appears on the back of the man’s neck in the shape of initials. Charles is out of his element in this seedier part of town, but there is something interesting going on and it is not until Charles tracks down Phil Jigg’s lodgings and sees an orphanage on site that helps him to put the pieces together.

Unless you need to fill in an hour, I would say to skip it and just move onto the next book “A Burial at Sea”.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Night She Died

Title: The Night She Died
Author: Dorothy Simpson
Published: Re-Release - June 6th 2017 by Open Road Media Mystery Thriller
Format: eBook, Paperback 208 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Inspector Thanet #1

This was a reread for me, about nine years ago I had read it and enjoyed it. This weekend, I tried again and by the time I was half way through, I could not bear it any longer and jumped to the end to see who had murdered Julie Holmes. I would have thought that some parts of the book would have seemed familiar, but I could not pull any part of this book from my memory.

This is the first book in the Inspector Thanet series which find Mrs. Julie Holmes dead in the entryway of her home from a single stab wound. Told in a back and forth, with a little bit of sideways thrown in, manner, Thanet and his sidekick Lineham, interview suspect after suspect, coworkers, neighbors and even people from Julie’s past where it was discovered that as a child, she was a witness to the never solved murder of her caregiver.

By the time that I had jumped to the ending to see who was guilty, there was no surprise, this person had stood out in the beginning as being a bit stand-off’ish and when Thanet finally pulled the pieces together, those that were not thoroughly farfetched, rounded out the story.

Originally published in 1981, this book reads as if it was much older and just does not hold the interest that I had remembered from my first reading.