Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Old Scores
by Will Thomas

Cyrus Barker has worked endlessly in his garden to make it pristine for the Japanese diplomats who wish to walk its paths.  Thomas Llewelyn is surprised to see his boss flinch as the group enters and once again finds himself wondering at the hidden past of Barker. Then Barker is arrested outside the temporary quarters for the Japanese embassy when the ambassador is murdered.  Frustrated by Barker’s practice to hold clues to himself, Llewelyn questions his own willingness to continue as a personal enquiry agent working for Barker. 

Fans of this series will be very pleased to know that Thomas does, in fact, give us a peak into the mysterious past of Cyrus Barker.  (No spoilers here. Read the book!)  The historical elements Thomas peppers throughout this novel are interesting and don’t bog down the story.  Cyrus and Thomas are men with good hearts but emotionally flawed.  There are a few characters whose return appearances add more depth and enjoyment to the story. However, if this is your first sojourn into the world of Barker and Llewelyn, Thomas does an excellent job of filing in with enough facts that give you just enough information and might inspire you to pick up previous volumes.  Old Scores hits all the bases with intense situations, action and light-hearted banter.   So far, this is one of my favorites.

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN: 9781250077967
Pub:  St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Pub Date:  October 3, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

by Susan Kay

I believe everyone knows the story of the Phantom of the Opera.  Susan Kay has created a past for Erik and it’s a dark, haunting one that will stay with you long after you finish the novel.  If you have been fortunate enough to see the stage production, there are a few hints at the past. Kay takes those hints and fills in the gaps creating a past rich in horror and color which gives you a clear idea of who he has become.  She builds a past for Christine and Raoul and brings it full circle as she brings us up to the Paris Opera House.  Putting more ‘meat’ on the bones of the story and bringing up to a contemporary styling makes this an easy read for all.  As the story comes to a close, you had better have tissues within arm’s reach.  This retelling of Erik’s story is easily one of my favorites.  Yes, it is a ‘horror’ story but it is also a story of a young man’s life at the hands of true monsters and how human he really is. Is he an adored hero or a hated villain? You might have a hard decision with this one.  Teens will eagerly devour this telling.  There is a review from School Library Journal recommending it for teens on Amazon.  This book was published many years ago and I hope you will look for it in your library or book store.

ISBN:  9781933626000/pbk.
Available now

Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror/Romance

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Amber Shadows

By Lucy Ribchester

Everyone is doing their part for the war effort and Honey’s stepfather was able to acquire a position for her in one of the Huts at Bletchley Park.  Those who work at Bletchley Park do not talk about what goes on in their Hut.  In fact, Captain Tiver said he would shoot her himself if she broke the secrecy agreement.  So how can she explain the packages she is receiving from Russia that appear to be pieces of amber looted from the Amber Room.  She’s good at codes but the coded message etched onto the amber is too complex.  Her brother Dickie would be able to help her but when he gets murdered and friends go missing she knows she needs help but doesn’t know who she can trust. 

I really enjoy novels that give us a different look into events in history.  The movie Imitation Game showed us a little what life was like for those tasked to breaking the coded messages of the enemy.  Alan Turing is mentioned briefly in this work but it’s not about him.  Ribchester has created an entertaining mystery while enlightening the reader with details of the women who worked within the huts of Bletchly Park and the difficult life many lived while serving their country.  Honey’s story is fictional but is entertaining and suspenseful. However, it is filled with the dangers and uncertainty that so many felt during that time.  The Author’s Notes at the back of the book details Ribchester’s research into the women who worked in the huts. The Amber Shadows is a thrilling read and would be a good one to put into the hands of teens. 

I wish to thank the generosity of the publisher for providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781681774480
Pub: Pegasus Books/ W.W. Norton
Pub Date:  August 8, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Death on Windmill Way: A Hampton’s  Murder Mystery
by Carrie Doyle

Antonia took a chance when she left her west coast home and purchased the dilapidated Windmill Inn in the Hamptons on the east coast.  Refurbishing the inn has been a labor of love and patience and she loves it and is proud of her accomplishment.  As a chef, she has worked hard to get the attached restaurant up and running.  Every night the tables fill a little more.  One evening as she visits with guests at their tables, she is told that the death of the previous owner may not have been a heart attack as she was previously told.  As Antonia considers the story, she discovers that what she has been told may not, in fact, be true. 

As Doyle tells Antonia’s story, she involves a good mix of characters. It is told simply and unfolds slowly.  The glee Antonia feels at her discovery of the killer is apparent and Doyle reveals the details in an old fashioned, traditional way.   This is a good story that promises to continue in future installments.  I hope Doyle delivers on her promises.  I found it a fun, relaxing story that was a great recreational read. 

ISBN:  9780997270143
Pub: Dunemere Books
Available now

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

by Anthony Horowitz

Holmes and Moriarty have gone over Reichenbach Falls.  Pinkerton Agent, Fredrick Chase has arrived at the Swiss resort to see for his own eyes.  There he encounters another who is skeptical and a student of the methods of Sherlock Holmes, Scotland Yard Inspector Athenley Jones.  Together they will work to piece together and follow the trail of a fiendish American criminal who is looking to fill Moriarty’s shoes and combine the two criminal empires into one.  They thought a criminal who is agoraphobic would not have such a long reach but as no one has actually seen him, they aren’t sure what he looks like.  Soon the bodies start piling up and the clock is ticking. 

Hold on tight and dig in.  Horowitz delivers another nail biter.  As with his other novels, this isn’t a fast-paced speed race. If you are looking for a quick read, this is not it.  Horowitz is a master of building his stories gradually.  The suspense creeps up slowly like a spider stalking and spinning his quarry in a web.  Before you realize it, you are unable to put the book down.  There is no character that is above the knockoff.  I believe he does it with glee.  I caution those who are faint of heart and stomach.  This story is filled with brutal, gruesome murders and Horowitz holds nothing back.  If you are reading this in the dead of night, please do not scream out loud as you near the end of the story.  It might frighten your loved ones.  I have listened to this audio also.  If you prefer to listen or have the notion, I would recommend this one.  It is very good.   I wish you good luck, reader and be sure to take your blood pressure meds, if you need them.

ISBN:  9780062377197/pbk
Pub:  Harper/Perennial
Pub Date:  Available now

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Monday, July 24, 2017

“Why are you reading that?”
Part I

I have always been an avid reader.  I will, and often do, read just about anything.  I will admit that I was never big on science fiction or fantasy.  I’m one of those people who need a foundation, a bit of reality.  I always say, ‘I need a place I can put my feet.’  In the world of fantasy, some of the scenarios are just a little too ‘out there’ for me.  Same with science fiction.  A very good friend tried hard to get me into fantasy and had pretty much given up on me.  Then Cassandra Clare came up with her Mortal Instruments series.  While reading the first book, City of Bones, my friend came to a part and thought to herself, ‘This is where Randee would put this down.’  We laughed about this, especially after I finished the book and gushed about how much I enjoyed it.  Yep, I was pretty surprised and yes, I went on to read the rest.  As the years have progressed, I will occasionally pick up a fantasy and she will pick up whatever I think to recommend to her.  In the department I worked in at the library, we had a great staff.  We each had a genre we favored and could go to that person if we couldn’t help a patron looking for something in particular.  One person was good at the romance, one with the realistic fiction and fantasy, and one that read mysteries, ghost stories and horror.  (hummm, wonder which one I am) Though we all read across our favorite genre we still read practically everything in our favorites. 

I have always been a big fan of mysteries and paranormal genres.  They are a great escape and were a wonderful way for a child who wasn’t very outgoing to spend a summer afternoon.  I will admit that I did read the early teen romance novels, Jean and Johnny, Sweet Sixteen. After those however, there weren’t a whole lot of books out there for teens to read.  During the preteen or tween years, I was witness to a neighbor cleaning out her recently married daughter’s room and dumping a huge pile of books into the trash can.  Nosey Nora that I am, waited until she went back into the house and proceeded to go through the books in the can.  Needless to say, I pulled them all out and brought them home.  They were an early printing of the Nancy Drew mystery series.  I was SO excited.  However, I was discovered by my mom who made me go over to the neighbor’s house and admit what I had done and ask for permission to keep the books.  She gave me a few more.  I read them all several times over.  As I grew tired of rereading them, my mother then handed me some of her paperback mysteries.  I became hooked on Mary Roberts Rinehart then moved on to Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart and even Taylor Caldwell.  Believe me, I have read my share of the romance.  I jumped into the bodice rippers in my twenties.  One of the things I enjoyed about the historical romances was the actual historical facts that surrounded the ‘searing heat of two hearts beating.’

I married a man who is a great lover of science fiction, especially Robert Heinlein.  He tried to convert me but alas, no luck.  During my years in the library, especially Youth Services, I have jumped into a few titles that were science fiction.  They were good and had a place for me to ‘plant my feet.’

As I continued to work with the teens in our community, all I read was Young Adult.  The trends were so noticeable.  The paranormal ran through YA fiction like wild fire after the publication of Stefanie Meyer’s Twilight series.  Don’t laugh.  They happen to be very good books and managed to set a fire under the publishing business.  Meyer’s Twilight books awakened reading in teens just as Rowling’s Harry Potter series got everyone reading.  Many adults started reading Young Adult soon after the Twilight publishing.  There are many very good books in the YA area.  I was very happy to see so many make this discovery.  Just because they are in the Young Adult or Teen area doesn’t mean they aren’t well written and interesting novels.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Library of Light and Shadow
By M. J. Rose

As a small child, Delphine was blinded when a schoolmate threw lye in her face.  Sebastian, her twin brother, became her eyes and guide until her sight returned.  Always a painter, as she regained her sight she also regained a talent to paint a person’s hidden secrets.  All the daughters of La Lune have special magick. Delphine uses a velvet eye mask and her magick flows through her fingers onto the canvas. After a horrible incident, she is forced to return to Paris though she no longer has the will to paint.  Emotionally wounded she attempts to heal within the loving arms of her family.  As her healing begins, continued pressure from Sebastian eventually wears her down to accept a special commission to shadow paint a castle to find a hidden book that belonged to Nicholas Flammel.

I believe this might be my favorite in Rose’s Daughters of La Lune series.  Delphine’s painful story slowly emerges like images on a canvas.  The supernatural aspect of the story floats effortlessly throughout the novel and does not overpower Delphine’s story.  As Rose takes us through Delphine’s haunted life, Rose uses words to paint the descriptions of Delphine’s surroundings and you feel as if you are walking the path or flying down the road sitting shotgun in Delphine’s Bugatti.  A thoroughly enjoyable story.

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781476778129
Publisher:  Atria Books/Simon and Schuster
Pub Date:  July 18, 2017
Genre:  Historical Mystery (slight paranormal overtones)

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Tell-Tale Tarte
by Maya Corrigan

As Val and her friend Bethany are shopping, Val witnesses a man stumble across the parking lot and fall, dressed in the same getup she last saw her grandfather wearing!  Much to her relief, she discovers it’s not her grandfather who is in distress but why was this man dressed up like her grandfather?  Val has been asked to cater a book club meeting and the member has been very specific about the desert since they read the latest novel by Rick Usher.  As she begins to serve the dessert she is shocked to see her grandfather.  Why was her grandfather dressed as Rick Usher? The man at the mall died.  Is her grandfather going to be next?

Corrigan has cooked up a nice little tale of stolen stories, paranoia, high jinx and good food in this fourth installment of the Five Ingredient Mysteries.  Val and her grandfather are a good team.  Grandfather keeps the atmosphere light and gives us a chuckle or two.  That doesn’t mean this is a completely light and fluffy story.  The situations are tense and it’s a good story.  The recipes are included in the back of the book but unfortunately, it doesn’t include the recipe for the French Onion soup which Val shared with the book club and had this reader’s mouthwatering. 

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy through NetGalley for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781496709172/pbk
Pub:  Kensington Books
Pub Date:  Available now

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Friday, July 14, 2017

Single Malt Murder
by Miranda Mullet

Abigail Logan is a profession photojournalist. She lives out of a backpack and used to sleeping on the ground if the assignment called for it. Upon the death of her deeply loved uncle she discovers she has inherited his whisky distilling business.  She knows nothing about whisky but she’s a fast learner and what she learns may get her killed.

This is a well plotted mystery that will introduce all novices to the world of whiskey production. For novices like myself, it is an eye opener to the competition of distilling.  Mullet appears to have done her homework into this brotherhood and her placement of a woman into this dominant man’s profession makes for a satisfying read.  There is no silliness in her characterizations or story.  It is a serious business and dangerous people are hidden behind friendly smiles.  I look forward to more from this series.   UPDATE:  Her next installment in the Whiskey Business series will be released on September 05, 2017. 

I thank the publisher for providing an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley for my honest review.

ISBN: 9780399179051
Pub: Random House/Alibi    
Pub Date:  03/21/2017

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Death in D Minor
by Alexia Gordon

It can be said that Alexia Gordon is not going to be hit with the sophomore curse.  In her second installment of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries is as good if not better than the first.  Gethsemane is settled in and enjoying the holidays.  Of course, she would continue to enjoy them if she hadn’t been visited by the man who wants to kick her out of her home.  However, Eamon’s ghost isn’t around any longer to help her out.  This time she is on her own.  She borrows a grimoire and attempts to contact Eamon but all she seems to conjure is her brother-in-law who shows up on her doorstep looking to visit while he attends an art auction in a nearby town.  As she continues her attempts to contact Eamon’s ghost, Gethsemane finds herself embroiled in art fraud and murder. Gordon’s novel is filled with quips from her smart protagonist and the return of a few village characters.  Readers who enjoy their mysteries complex, well plotted and a lot of fun should definitely pick this up.  Plus, the endings of her novels have an unexpected twist.  This is a terrific summer read.

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781635112313
PUB: Henery Press

Pub. Date: July 11, 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Magpie Murders
by Anthony Horowitz

As publishing editor, Susan Ryeland reads another manuscript presented by the troublesome author, Alan Conway, she begins to think there is more to this installment of the Atticus Pund series than a mere murder mystery. 

There is nothing more enjoyable than a mystery within a mystery.  Horowitz has created an engaging novel that enfolds you and whips you through not one but two stories.  Are there clues within the manuscript to actual events now playing out?  Weaving many storylines which are active within the covers of this novel, Horowitz manages to keep each separate and viable. The pacing is smooth without becoming sluggish. You will not want to speed read or scan this one.  If you have read any of Horowitz’s novels, you know he is not one to follow a pattern.  You’ll be surprised every time you pick up one of his books.  For Magpie Murders, I suggest you grab a bag of Nacho Doritos and settle in to enjoy it.

I wish to thank the generosity of the publisher and NetGalley for providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN: 9780062645227
Publisher: Harper

Genre: Mystery

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters
By Jean E. Pendziwol

I always consider it a find when a book I’ve read stays with me.  The Lightkeeper’s Daughters is one of them.  Pendziwol’s story of the isolated life of a family in the early 20th century is such a book.  Threaded into this historical accounting is the contemporary story of Morgan, a young woman lost and looking to find someone, something to grasp that will help her figure out where she is headed in life.  Serving out community service hours as restitution for tagging a fence at the senior retirement home she discovers an unlikely link to her childhood and the reasons for her love of the arts.  Pendziwol’s story unfolds with grace and a hard look at a life spent surviving on Porphyry Island where twin girls, Emily and Elizabeth Livingstone and their family live and work the lighthouse that keep the waterways of Lake Superior safe for her travelers. The joys of a childhood filled with nature and few restraints gently unfold like the wildflowers Emily draws. It is also the story of how dark secrets, kept hidden and locked away always find their way to the surface. It is a look back at life that we would call harsh and wild that parallels contemporary life of those who are dropped into the CPS system.  I highly recommend this title to be picked up by libraries and hope that librarians will put it into the hands of teens. 

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN:  9780062572028
Pub Date:  July 4, 2017
Publisher:  Harper/ An imprint of HarperCollins

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Friday, June 30, 2017

Abigail Hall
by Lauren A. Forry

With the horrors of the war behind them, Eliza is doing her best to protect her sister Rebecca. It’s not enough for Aunt Bess since she has decided that Eliza and Rebecca are to go to Thornecroft, somewhere in the Welsh countryside, to work as housemaids. No one knew what horrors awaited them within the halls of the long-haunted house and those who walk through its doors.

Within the pages of Abigail Hall, Forry weaves a story of people trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of World War II.  Their struggles and the lengths some will go to survive are real. Around these struggles, she weaves a tale filled with ghosts of lost loves and madness. The gothic feel of this novel is eerie but the day to day struggles are gritty and realistic.  The characters are fully defined and historical details well researched.  This is a great one for those who like to end their reading experiences in the last pages with a loud gasp.  Forry’s story will leave you with your mouth hanging open.  Teens and adults alike who enjoy their ghost stories filled with historical detail will enjoy this novel.

I thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN: 9781510717268 
PUB: Skyhorse Publishing 
PUB DATE: April 11, 2017

Genre:  Historical/Gothic Mystery

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Murder on Black Swan Lane
By Andrea Penrose

Lord Wrexford is a man of science and as such is often heard having words with Reverend Josiah Holworthy. The current caricature drawn by the well-known A. J. Quill not only shows this but also the wayward lifestyle of Lord Wrexford.  Quill’s drawings often include unknown details of situations that keep the beau monde watching their backs.  Thus, when Holworthy’s body is discovered within his church and Quill’s detailed drawing show more than just a murder, the Bow Street Runners naturally look to Wrexford as their key suspect.  Using details of Quill’s drawing of the scene, Wrexford sets out to discover the person behind the drawings and find out how he acquires these hidden details and help Wrexford catch the killer before he finds himself at the end of the hangman’s noose.

Filled with rumors and legends of alchemy, Murder on Black Swan Lane is an entertaining look at society during regency England.  Some reviewers have compared this with c.s. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr novels.  Harris’s books of this time are filled with more meaty political details.  Though Penrose’s book looks at the huge gaps between the haves and the have-nots, it doesn’t go into great detail, nor is it needed to get the reader to see them.  This novel gets to the heart of the mystery and keeps it moving.  Harris’s writing and her books are among my favorites and if, as promised, this is the first of a new series, Penrose will be added to my favorites.

I wish to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781496710772
Pub: Kensington
Pub Date: June 27, 2017

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Fate of Mercy Alban
By Wendy Webb

Returning to Alban House after twenty years was hard enough but Grace’s return meant she now had to bury her mother.  Cleaning out her mother’s room she discovers love letters written the summer before her parents were married.  The letters are only the beginning of her discovery of the actual account of what happened at the house when David Coleville committed suicide and her great-aunt Fate disappeared. 

The story Webb serves up is one of family ghosts, witches and a house filled with family secrets and hidden passage ways.  Her storytelling is filled with a cast of characters both likable and creepy.  Her mix of mystery, paranormal and romance is highly satisfying.  There is even a teen daughter in the mix.  Webb does a great job telling her story.  The pacing is steady and well plotted.  On the ‘can’t put it down’ scale between 1 and 5, this is a definite 4.  It is very, very good.

Pub:  Hachette Books, 2013

ISBN:  9781624901164

Genre:  Paranormal Mystery

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hell Bay
by Will Thomas

Everyone loves a good house party. Fresh air in the country or by the seaside while exchanging light gossip and friendly banter with the other guests. What could be more relaxing? Cyrus Barker had avoided such a party for a long time.  Now he was caught in the snare of a prospective job at the behest of Lady Philippa Asheigh’s closest friend whose husband happens to be the head of the RSUI.  Under the guise of the house party, a secret mission to negotiate peaceful terms between France and England are to be worked out and Lord Hargrave wants Barker and his partner Thomas Llewelyn to provide security.  Security jobs were Barker’s least favorite but he was stuck and when guests start dying his actual skills come into question. 

Reminiscent of Christie’s And Then There Were None, Thomas puts new shine on the theme of marooned guests with a killer on the loose.  His characters are wonderfully flawed and human.  You will find yourself pondering the characters and events of this novel as you go about your day. This is a divine addition to the Thomas and Llewelyn historical mystery series. Teen fans of Downton Abbey who like a more meat in their mysteries will enjoy this one.

I want to thank the publishers for generously providing this title through NetGalley and Edelweiss for my honest review.

ISBN:  9781250077950
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Pub Date:  October 25, 2016

Genre:  Historical Mystery

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

As you can tell, I love the cozy mystery genre.  They offer returning characters and familiar surroundings.  Some are pretty campy but many still offer up very meaty story lines and some intense plot situations.  The Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel are taking some of these novels and turning them into movies.  They don’t all follow the books verbatim, but they do offer some entertaining television.  One of my favorite series is the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris.  Yes, that Charlaine Harris.  However, the Teagarden mysteries do not include vampires or werewolves.  Aurora is a librarian and probably that is why I love the series. A few other series you can watch include the Garage Sale series by Sherry Harris, the Fixer Upper series by Kate Carlisle, and the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke. The newest entry on the channel is the Emma Fielding series by Dana Cameron has just debuted with Courtney Thorne-Smith.   I will admit I prefer the printed books to the movies but they are fun.  They are simple and complete guilty pleasure entertainment.  All can be found by the author's name in your library.  If not there, you can probably request the titles or even ask your local bookseller to order them in for you.  Happy beach reading!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Paranormal Guffaws

I don’t read humorous fiction very often.  In fact, I only pick it up if I get a recommendation from a friend or read a review.  During the height of the vampire craze in teen and some adult fiction, on the recommendation of a fellow co-worker, I picked up the first book in the Queen Betsy series, Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson.  Until that time, I can honestly say I had never laughed out loud while reading a book.  It all begins when Betsy wakes up in the morgue in a cheap suit and knock-off designer shoes after having been attacked by a crazy homeless guy, or so she thought.  However, instead of being upset about awakening in the morgue, she is royally pissed off having her lovely shoes swapped out by her stepmother who Betsy is sure is responsible for the big switcheroo.  Davidson’s writing is riddled with funny situations and a few hot and spicy scenes.  The series starts off light hearted and very funny.  Betsy, it turns out, is destined to become Queen of the Vampires.  She wants NO part of it.  As the series moves on it becomes a bit darker and the situations more complicated.  It’s fun, twisted and filled with a few guffaws.

Undead and Unwed: First in the Queen Betsy series
    by MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 9780425242261
Pub: Random House/Berkley

Wicked Business:  First in the Lizzie and Diesel series
    by Janet Evanovich
ISBN:  9780312652913

Pub:  St. Martin’s Press 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Lost Property Office (Section 13)
 by James R. Hannibal

Hannibal introduces us to American lad, Jack Buckles.  Jack is a finder of things. For him, it’s a quirk but this talent goes back several generations in the Buckles family. After stumbling into the Lost Property Office, he realizes how important this talent is but he’s afraid his isn’t strong enough to find his father who has disappeared within London while tracking the Ember.

This is a fun adventure that will delight children of all ages.  Hannibal has filled the pages with characters worthy of love and of loathing. Fans of adventure fantasy filled with hidden networks deep within cities will delight in this book.   It would be a great read-aloud for the whole family.

I wish to thank Simon & Schuster for providing an Advanced Readers Copy for my honest review.

ISBN: 9781481461094
Pub: Simon & Schuster
Pub Date:  November 8, 2016

Genre:  Juvenile /Adventure/Fantasy

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Comfort Reading

Any devoted reader knows that a trusted protagonist is just as good as comfort food.  If you can consume comfort food without spilling it on the beloved pages, both may be consumed at the same time.  My series of choice is Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries. 
For those of you who have not experienced all that is Flavia, I will endeavor to introduce you.  Her first appearance is in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is a sweet little eleven-year-old whose favorite pastime is spent within her damp, drafty laboratory left behind by dear Uncle Tarquin de Luce. There with her trusty companion, Esmerelda, a hen she spends her favorite hours. The laboratory is nestled within Buckshaw, the crumbling family estate located in Bishop’s Lacey. It is a typical sleepy little British village recovering in the years following WWII.  Flavia and her trusty bicycle, Gladys traverse the countryside assisting in the process of solving local dastardly deeds which often include murder. She is completely misunderstood by her older sisters Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy) and as with any siblings she is often the brunt of cruel words and thus the line is drawn, literally, down the middle of the house. Her father, reeling from his grief over the death of her mother, often is ignorant of her adventures. The one who understands her and drops words of wisdom into her young ears is her father’s trusty valet, Dogger.  Flavia is smart, inquisitive, inventive, and delightfully funny.  Don’t be put off by her age.  She holds her own against adult and peers alike.
Bradley has just delivered the eighth installment of Flavia’s adventures. These books are well researched and the reader should have no trouble creating a vision of each character in their mind. I never do.
For a real treat, I recommend the audio books.  Jayne Entwhistle gives a perfect performance in her narration of these books.  Now as I read the books, her voice is what I hear.  She truly fleshes out Flavia’s precocious personality and the constituents of Bishop’s Lacey.  Spending time with Jayne as Flavia is time well spent.

I truly hope you will pick up this series and give it a try.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Lately, instead of reading reviewing books for future release, my hands have been forced to put the book down and pick up the crochet needle.  Due to some people who feel they need to add to their family’s number I have charged up the Bluetooth headphones and begun listening to anything I can check out from my favorite library’s Overdrive account.  It is a wonderful way to read, crochet and watch a baseball game.  I do love it.  I heartily encourage everyone, once again, to try audiobooks.  They are a great way to pass commute time.  I know I have talked about this previously but it is a great way to discover new authors and genres you might like.  I have always been curious about Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series.  I purchased the books for our collection on the recommendations of several patrons and I had seen the short term series on the SyFy channel.  A huge plus for listening to the audio was the narrator, James Marsters.  Um, any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans out there?  He was Spike.  As a narrator, he really does a pretty good job of narrating the series.  Though, I must admit that it could use some editing.  The first in the series is rough.  You can hear pages turning and the narrator moving around.  But Marsters is very good at narrating the snarky attitude and weary tones of the protagonist.

One of the problems with checking out audios from a library’s Overdrive account is the limited selection they are forced to carry.  Library’s basically rent the titles at a cost and as the title fades in popularity it gets ‘weeded.’  Some libraries do not carry all titles in a series. If you have the options to procure library cards from different libraries, I heartily encourage you to do so.  This will give you the possibilities of more titles to access.  However, some library systems share catalogues.  Overdrive also gives you access to ebooks.  Using this catalogue does not charge you overdue fines.  You have your allotted time to read the book and it will expire on its own.  Keeps you honest.  Through online research, you might find other libraries that will issued a library card for a small fee if you do not live within their community.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Red-Handed in Romanée-Conti

by Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balan

Benjamin Cooker was set to spend some time with his wife and father in London. It’s bad timing as the grape harvest is due to be picked and the Lemoine family needs his advice on the picking schedule. As Cooker and his assistant, Virgile make their way to the vineyard they pass a site being cordoned off by a young police officer. When the Winemaker Detective instructs his assistant to pull over, they are informed a body has been discovered and are strongly advised to return to their car. More daunting than. a body in the vines, clouds are collecting on the horizon that promises a grape damaging thunder storm. Alaux weaves a mystery within his delectable descriptions of wine. His pacing of the mystery and the details of the countryside where the vineyards are located is rich. I would strongly advise reading this series at an acceptable time for having a glass of wine at hand. It didn’t matter that it was ten o’clock in the morning, I wanted a glass of wine. The fun, respectful working relationship Benjamin and Virgile have is entertaining. This is my first taste of the Winemaker Detective series but I can assure you I will be looking for more.
I must confess, I have been to the region covered in this installment and it was a major influence of this title for me. It was so much fun to recognize the names of the towns that I have visited and could easily visualize the countryside.
I want to thank the publishers for generously providing this title through NetGalley and Edelweiss for my honest review.
ISBN: 9781939474650         
Pub: Le French Book       
Book BD: 11/15/2016 

Genre:  Cozy Mystery

Thursday, June 8, 2017


It is said that ‘Patience is a virtue.’  Sometimes though, patience is tried and pulled to the limits when you’re waiting for the next installment of a beloved series to be released.  I have a few friends who will wait until the entire series has been published before they will begin it.  This works great for trilogies or duos.  So many of the series I enjoy reading have SO many titles in them and continue to be published.  Cozy mysteries are like this.  If you have a favorite used bookstore you like to haunt and aren’t sure which book comes where in the series, I have discovered a great little website that I keep on my phone.  Fantastic Fiction, www.fantasticfiction.com has a majority of the authors of series listed on this site and they keep the titles listed in order.  I have only had a couple of authors not show up on this sight.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Antique House Murder  An Oakwood Mystery
by Leslie Nagel

When you own a vintage clothing store, it pays to have a friend who specializes in liquidating estates.  Charley knows she owes Calvin Prescott for saving the rack of gorgeous items from the Mulbridge estate.  When she goes to collect the clothing from Calvin’s warehouse, she discovers her friend dead on the floor of his office.  Charley needs to figure out if his death is related to the rumor that Augusta Mulbridge left a secret will quickly or the bulldozers will raze the property and it won’t matter if there is another will or not and Calvin’s death could be for naught.

Having not read the first of Nagel’s Oakwood Mystery, The Book Club Murders, I found the second installment highly entertaining.  The plot moves along at a steady pace and is filled with complex story lines that all come together to a satisfying end.  As you read you feel all of the character’s triumphs and frustrations, frustrations that include the handsome detective Marcus Trenault.  I certainly would have loved to attend the Mulbridge House estate sale. 

I wish to thank the publishers for their generosity in providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy from NetGalley for my honest review.

Genre:  Cozy Mysteries        ISBN: 9780425285213         Publisher: Random House/Alibi   
Pub Date: July 25, 2017  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Weight of Night

by Christine Carbo

Many who have demons to wrestle find solace in slumber.  That is not the case for Gretchen Larson, the county’s lead crime scene investigator.  She has come to the US to get away from the demons and has found a home in Montana.  Many know the demons Glacier National Park Police Officer Monty Harris carries with him. The discovery of a skeleton, unearthed by firefighters digging fire breaks and the disappearance of young boy, will bring the demons of these two people to the surface faster than the fires that burn around them.

Without being overly graphic, Carbo wraps this book around you with intense, descriptive prose.  Your eyes sting, your nose hurts as she writes about the choking smoke and you feel the intensity in the heat of the flames.  You worry and fret with the parents of the missing boy.  You want to comfort Gretchen as she sleeps and when she relives events from her past. All her of her characters are realistic and fully described. Carbo has delivered an entertaining and highly suspenseful novel with the beautiful Glacier National Park as its backdrop. 
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

I am thankful for the generosity of the publisher for providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review. 

ISBN:  9781501156236      PUB: Atria Books       PUB DATE:  June 6, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dragon Teeth

by Michael Crichton

William Jason Tertullious Johnson is the son of a wealthy Philadelphia shipbuilder in the fall of 1875.  Spoiled, privileged, Yale student with no direction, William takes the bet of a fellow student to go west during the summer instead of going on a comfy, pampered trip to Europe. Full of doubt and uncertainty, he embarks on an adventure that will ‘make a man of him’ and ‘give him purpose’ but most importantly, teach him about friendship and loyalty and give him a very exciting adventure.

Discovered by Michael Crichton’s wife, Sherri, she felt this was a story that Michael had always hoped for further development and eventual publication.  It does lack the extensive scientific detail that Crichton’s previous works are well-known but it doesn’t lack the action and excitement.  It certainly delivers in the category of adventure and questionable characters. This would be a great novel to put in the hands of teens who are interested in the action/adventure genre.  It is filled with bigger than life heroes and bad guys that is sure to hook and reel them in.  Some historical details are well researched and depicted. While some characters were real to the historical times, they are placed in the story where they never visited.  This doesn’t detract from the overall feel or atmosphere of the story.  It makes it fun and certainly adds to the excitement.  It is fiction, after all.  This is a highly entertaining novel.

I am thankful to the publishers for providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

ISBN: 9780062473356   PUB: HarperCollins                 PUB DATE: May 23, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Reference to Murder  A Book Barn Mystery
by Kym Roberts 

It’s rodeo time in Hazel Rock, Texas and Charli Rae is looking forward to helping raise money for the local cowboy home. Helping keep her friend out of jail for the murder of her bull riding boyfriend isn’t what Charli had in mind. When Dalton turns up alive and well, more questions arise as to who is really in that freshly dug grave and who is in the older one next to it.

This book is full of quirky, fun characters as any set-in Texas should be.  As anyone knows, you can be as snarky and catty at you want about a person, as long as you end your statement with, ‘bless their heart.’ Though filled with all the color and personality that is Texas this book does deal with a murder and the story has its dark moments. Very entertaining. This is the second in the Book Barn Mysteries and is a good addition.  You can pick up A Fatal Fiction if you like to start at the beginning of a series.

I wish to thank the publisher for providing an Advanced Reader’s Copy for my honest review.

Genre: Cozy Mystery     ISBN: 9781601837332        Publisher: Kensington Books       Pub Date:  May 16, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief
by Lisa Tuttle

Miss Lane wonders if she has, perhaps, made a big error in accepting the position of assistant to Mr. Jasper Jesperson, Private Investigator.  While investigating the night wanderings of a kind, gentle man, they find themselves involved in the mysterious disappearances of several of London's psychics.  Are the two cases connected?  Feeling frustrated that the case is going nowhere, Miss Lane quickly finds herself immersed within a dangerous web of cunning deceit and chicanery. 

Tuttle has created a likeable and entertaining duo in Miss Lane and Mr. Jesperson.  Her plotting is precise and she weaves her slimy villain nicely within her other characters.  The chemistry between Miss Lane and Jesperson will be a big hit with the fans of William Ritter’s Jackaby series though the series does not have the fantasy theme thus far.  The storyline has a mild supernatural thread and it enhances the story without overpowering. Over all it is a good story and highly enjoyable.  I hope we hear more from the adventures of Miss Lane and Mr. Jesperson, and his mom.  This title is an excellent option for teens who want to read up.

Genre: Mystery

ebook ISBN:  9780399182198   
Release Date: May 16, 2017    
Publisher:  Random House/Hydra

I want to thank the publisher for generously providing an Advanced Read's Copy for my honest review.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Seven Days in May
By Kim Izzo

Sydney wants to make a difference in her world and the world of women.  Her inheritance can be used to bring about this positive change.  First though, she must accompany her sister, Brooke and Edward, her sister’s fiancée, on the Lusitania so she can witness her sister’s marriage in England.  Brooke wants to live the life of a titled woman and Edward Thorpe-Tracey, Lord Thorpe-Tracey, is about to lose the family estate.  That is how Brooke will use her inheritance.  England is at war with Germany and warnings of a possible attack have been pushed to the side.  Isabel, a young woman who works in the British Admiralty is very concerned that the warnings are going unheeded.  As the passengers of the Lusitania look forward to the end of their journey, some on board are hoping the warnings are, indeed, unwarranted and hope to make it safely to England.

History is a very important part of who we are as a global entity, a local community, and as human beings.  Izzo has shared part of her family history, as well as a part of the world history in her novel Seven Days in May. Using the account of her great-grandfather’s experience as one of the few survivors of this ill-fated voyage, she gives us a peek at life on board the ship.  The atmosphere in the British Admiralty and the attitudes directed at those who worked tirelessly in the code breaking rooms is well written and the antagonistic views perceived by some men and even women is satisfactorily reflected.  Characters of Izzo’s story are realistically depicted. The novelization of her family history is finished with a realistic and personally satisfying conclusion.  This is a good story to read if you aren’t familiar with the Lusitania and just want a little background.  There is romance, glamour and action.  A very good book and is excellent reading for teens interested in history.

I wish to thank the publisher and NetGalley for generously providing an Advanced Reader’s copy for my honest review. 

ISBN:  9781443422499
Publisher:  Harper 360
Pub Date:  May 2, 2017

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Personal Blather About My Background 

Being new to the whole blog thing I ask that everyone be patient with me.  I basically will post only books I’ve read. I will try to remember to note if I purchased the book or if the publisher has provided an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) in print or electronically through NetGalley or Edelweiss.
I am not an ‘expert’ of literary writings, nor am I one who will presume to judge and critique an author and editor’s hard work.  Talking about books is something I love to do.  I admit that most of the books I have read in the last few years have been Young Adult titles and in my retirement I am able to read what I like and what I want.  Admittedly, most of the current titles have been read electronically.  I am not a big fan of e-readers and prefer the print.  I notice I get more out of the printed books than I do on an e-reader.
In the previous chapter of my life, I had one of the best jobs in the world.  I worked in a public library as the library assistant in the Youth Services department. I was responsible for story times for toddlers and I ran the Teen Library Advisory Board. We had some great programs and hosted many outstanding authors.  I would fill my car with teens on many occasions to go listen and meet many authors. We had a lot of good times going to different book festivals and panels. I was fortunate to be centrally located to be able to provide this for the kids in my group and any who were interested. I was also responsible for developing the Young Adult collection in our library.  That was one of my favorite duties.  I still subscribe to a couple of the professional journals I used for this task. It’s a sickness. I can’t help myself. I love books.
I attended several American Library Association conferences where I also met many authors.  The best perk of these conferences were to network with the publishers and get the inside info on new titles being published.  All of the publishers were always so generous with the librarians and I, for one, am very grateful for their generosity.
I volunteered for three years serving on a committee for the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) division of ALA. Our committee was the Amazing Audios for Young Adults.  We listened to over 150 audios a year and would create a list of thirty titles that we considered the best for teens.  These lists and whole lot more are available for access on the YALSA website.

Thank you for visiting my site.  I will try to get more ‘talks’ up. I will include the ISBN information for those who wish to purchase the book I talk about.  My only wish is that you order your books from your local book store.  Buying local supports your community and there is nothing like walking into the store and smelling the new books.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Talkin’

Readers know what they like and most know how to get it.  However, there are times when you are talking with friends or strangers that a possible new discovery can surface. Whether it is a great stand alone or a possible, yet undiscovered series, I am always ready for a recommended title. I always appreciate finding a series with characters I can relate to and become interested. I really miss sitting outside the library’s story time room and talking with the moms.  I have discovered some great reads in the weekly exchange of book talks.  As it happens, often we read and have read many of the same titles and spend the thirty minutes having a great time talking about the story, protagonist, and author.  One of my favorite recommendations from a mom is the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries by C. S. Harris.  The first title in the series is What Angels Fear. The setting is during Regency England and Sebastian is the unlikely heir of the St. Cyr family.  He is, of course, a bit of a rogue but he is extremely intelligent and quick witted.  As a rule, I don’t usually read books that delve into the politics of court or governments. However, I have found that Harris is amazingly talented in weaving the politics around a more detailed plot which, at its heart, is more important. Harris is one of those authors not afraid of throwing a wrench in the works and shuffling the cards.  I am never disappointed in the additions to this series and look forward to each installment.  This series certainly does not fit into the cozy genre of mysteries. 

Harris released a stand alone on December 1st.  Good Time Coming is a coming of age story, of loss and survival and the hardships the women and children suffered when left alone during the hardships of the Civil War.  It touches on the good and evil that is within us all and often shows itself when we are put dire situations.  I haven’t read this yet.  At my age I have difficulty reading about man’s inhumanity to man. We see so much of it on television and read about it in the newspaper that when it comes to me sitting down to read I often want something softer. (I know, murder mysteries? Right?)  From the reviews I have read, Harris does a great job telling this story. At some point, I will make myself pick it up.  If you’ve read it, let me know.  I would like to hear what you think of it.