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

Babbles

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

Patience


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. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

To Listen or to Read?

Do you like to spend time in your yard, fixing up your house, house work, tinker on the car or how about knitting?  My husband used to tease me and tell me some day I would figure out how to read, crochet and watch the baseball game all at the same time.  I did.  It was actually a surprise discovery. My sojourn in to audiobooks was very limited as I love the process of reading the printed word.  I had listened to a few audios but not many.  Then I volunteered to serve on the AAYA (Amazing Audios for Young Adults) Committee which reviews and critiques audios for teen and young adult librarians.  The committee did not issue any awards for the audios but created a list of thirty to fifty audios with the top ten starred.  Members of the committee would receive between 250 to 500 titles.  We did a LOT of listening.  I served on the committee for three years.  I can’t believe how many books I was able to listen to while doing practically everything.  Plus, the joy a good narrator and editor can really bring a story and its characters to the forefront.  My favorite example of this is Jayne Entwistle’s narrations of the Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley.  The personality she infuses into the characters defines each one distinctly.  I have enjoyed everything she has narrated.  She has also won awards for her narrations.  Another favorite of mine is Kirby Heyborne.  Heyborne records from his home.  He has recorded so many titles from children’s novels to adult. He is a natural when it comes to narrations.  You would think that an author would be the perfect narrator for their book.  Not so.  I can only think of two that I can personally recommend.  One is Neal Gaiman.  He truly reflects the personalities of his characters and knows what atmosphere to submerge his narration to bring to the forefront the characteristics of his work.  Another is Libba Bray who will have you rolling on the floor with her narration of Beauty Queens. Bray doesn’t narrate all her work.  The very talented January LaVoy narrates her Diviners series. If you are interested in trying out some audiobooks but don’t want to listen to teen or young adult titles, I would suggest looking up the Odyssey award for audios or when you search for a title, look at where the reviews of the audio come from.  Is it a professional journal, website or is it a personal review?  I would take a personal review lightly.  If you are apprehensive and there is no professional review, some sales sites will allow you a sound bite to listen to the narration.  Another good place to find out about audio titles, your library.  Many librarians don’t have time to sit and read and will listen on their commute. I would also recommend listening as a family.  Car trips are a perfect time to enjoy a book together and have great discussions. I hope you’ll give listening a try. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Word About ARCs


Please do not sell or purchase these from booksellers.  If you are lucky enough to have a printed Advanced Reader’s Copy sent to you from the publisher, please don’t abuse this privilege by selling it. I understand why many of the publishers are relying on electronic ARCs as the print is costly and often winds up on some bookseller’s shelf.  I personally prefer the printed ARCs.  I tend to get more into the story with a printed volume than the electronic one. I prefer a bound book and will take breaks reading on my reader.  I realize many bloggers, authors and librarians get a lot of printed ARCs.  I know we did at the library.  We used them for prizes, reading programs, and reviews. When I was working with teens, we used them for our book club.  Often we use them as incentives to get kids reading. I get upset when I see booksellers selling these on Abebooks and other sites.  Please don’t purchase them.  If you don’t want to keep the copy, give it to a neighbor, a local library (they don’t add them to the collection) or a local shelter. Shelters can always use books. Be sure to advise them that the book is not to be sold.  If push comes to shove, recycle it. Perhaps it will become another ARC. 
Though This Be Madness

by Penny Richards

Lilly Long strives to prove herself at the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  Her acting background has been beneficial but posing as a married working couple with Cade McShane is not the direction she was hoping for.  Since McShane is on thin ice with his employers, he doesn’t express his displeasure being paired with the former actress.  However, the two soon put their differences aside to figure out why the matriarch of the wealthy Fortenot family suspects her granddaughter’s husband is up to no good.  As the pair go about their day-to-day duties, they begin to piece together a dark picture of voodoo, infidelity, and deceit.

Richards creates a realistic look at the power men held over women, well into the late 19th century and the deep seated traditions that drove the south.  Into the ugly realism of fabricated illness she adds the hierarchy the privileged held over the less fortunate in their employ. To spice up the story and break the intensity, Richards tosses in a little added spice of romantic tension and adolescent shenanigans that bring this second installment of the Lilly Long series to a nice simmer.  A good one to put on your To Read list.


ISBN:  978161496706041     Pub: Kensington                Pub Date:  Apr. 25, 2017
What the Dead Leave Behind

by Rosemary Simpson

Prudence McKenzie is no weak, shrinking violet even though the death of her father left her grief stricken. Now with the death of her fiancé she should be devastated but she is more concerned with her stepmother’s attempts to ply her with laudanum. Prudence knows Victoria’s after her father’s money but at what cost?  What disturbs her more, is why her father married Victoria in the first place?  An event as big as a blizzard and as small as a playing card will be the turning point which will seal the path that young Prudence will set out on. With help from her deceased fiancée’s friend and a beloved family friend, Prudence hopes to bring Victoria’s true face to the society Victoria covets.  

The practice of caregivers overstepping their bounds is a well-known fact that is often told in tales of the late 19th, early 20th centuries and let’s face it, 21st too.   Women often found themselves the victims to be legally removed from the picture by schemers.  Simpson takes the theme and turns it around by giving Prudence a mind and steely disposition to take matters into her own hands.  Filled with plot twists, nasty characters and a few heroes this book has some surprising turns that many mystery lovers will not be able to predict. I was often surprised by the direction Simpson took her story and was pleasantly surprised to find myself thinking about this story. I hope we get to read more of Prudence’s adventures. 

I wish to thank the publisher for their generosity of providing an advanced reader’s copy for my honest review.



ISBN: 9781496709080           Pub: Kensington         Pub Date: Apr. 25, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ararat

by Christopher Golden

An earthquake uncovers a cave on Ararat. Visible within that cave are the remains of what many believe to be Noah’s ark. Meryam and Adam are determined to be the first team in the cave regardless of the horrid conditions on the mountain.  As they begin the excavations they are not prepared for what they find and soon discover they are not alone on the mountain.

Don’t start this late at night or during a blizzard. If you want to be up all night, ignore this warning.  Golden has given us a white-knuckle ride complete with a fully defined, diverse cast.   This is a quick read because you just can’t put it down. Leave yourself plenty of time, not only to read but to reflect on what happens on that mountain.


ISBN: 9781250117052           Publisher: St Martins                 Pub Date:  April 18, 2017
Sherlock, anyone?

I know there are many fans of the traditional adventures of Sherlock.  However, one of my favorite contemporary authors of the much beloved character is Laurie R. King. However, bringing up Sherlock is a little misleading.  The books are actually about someone else with Sherlock as a secondary character. She starts her series of books with The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and a happily retired Sherlock. King introduces us to young Mary Russell. A very bright, inquisitive young woman who is living with relatives after her parents have been killed. King's novels actually are a study of young Mary and her tutorship conducted by Sherlock and look a their building relationship.  King takes great care in her research and each novel has something different to offer. Never believe that since Sherlock is older and retired and a secondary character that he is slowing down.  Their adventures are exciting and dangerous.  King's novels will delight and entertain.  She allows us to accompany Mary and Sherlock all around the world in disguise and as known. Her latest installment gives us a little background on dear Mrs. Hudson. For me, The Murder of Mary Russell allows us a better look into the beloved housekeeper and how she came to be such an important mainstay in their lives.  As with all series, I have  favorite titles and not so favorites.  I encourage anyone who loves good literary novels that include a little suspense to please pick up these books. I don't think you will be disappointed.
Tightening the Threads

by Lea Wait


Sarah Byrne has asked her friend, Angie Curtis, to help at a family gathering at the home of her friend and newly discovered uncle, Ted Lawrence. The moral support will be much needed when Ted announces to the family changes he has made to his will with inclusion of his new niece. Tempers rise faster than the tide and so does the body count. Angie has her hands full when she is approached by one of the suspects to investigate.

There are some series that feel comfortable from the first installment. That is the way I felt when I read Twisted Threads, the first in this series.  Wait’s characters are a delight and could be neighbors or family, all members of the Mainely Needelpoint group, you are able to quickly bond with them making you care about their well-being.  She gives each one a rich back story from the author of erotica to the high school teacher with the poison garden. The storylines are suspenseful and well plotted. This is the fifth in the series and it just gets stronger and more intriguing.  Each installment has been a delight and this one doesn’t disappoint.

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


ISBN:  9781496706287   Pub: Kensington Books                 Pub Date:  03/28/2017

Kale to the Queen 

by Nell Hampton

Suffering from jetlag, Chef Carrie Ann Cole begins her second day as personal family chef to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor a bit early.  Already on edge from moving to a different country, leaving her boyfriend of six years, and working for the royal family, Chef Cole’s life is about to get more challenging when she discovers a body in the greenhouse.  Chef Cole is about to be tested beyond her cooking skills.

Though not personally familiar with the workings of the royal residence, this book feels well researched and authentic.  Hampton has created a likeable protagonist in Chef Cole and you easily sympathize with the challenges she faces as she makes her way in a new job, in a new country. Carrie Ann’s efforts to succeed and to fit in will be embraced by readers.  The other characters are together likable and dislikable.  The addition of a few recipes at the end is a bonus. This is a delightful first installment and I, as well as many others, will be waiting for the next one.  Well done!

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


ISBN: 9781683311041     PUB:  Crooked Lane Books    PUB DATE:  April 11, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mister Memory 
by Marcus Sedgwick

At the heart of this marvelous tale we are introduced to Marcel Després. Marcel remembers every detail of every day of his life. Every detail. So why are the details of the murder of his wife different than the details of the police reports? After all, he should remember, he was the shooter.  Why did the Prefect have Marcel moved to the asylum? He admitted to the shooting. He should be going to the guillotine or at least to one of the prison islands to spend his life doing ‘hard time’ and die there.


Wow! This is a very complex tapestry using many threads to complete the whole story. Often you may wonder where each thread is leading.  As you wonder about these threads, you suddenly realize they have wrapped you up so tightly you cannot put the book down until you can stand back and see the entire tapestry his words have created. This novel is a literary wonder of suspense that will take you back to the bawdy, wild days of Paris at the turn of the 19th century.  I would highly recommend this book to any reader who loves a deep detailed suspense.  Sedgwick has authored several titles for teens.  He is the winner of YALSA’s 2014 Printz Award for Midwinterblood.  This title would be appropriate for the older teens or New Adult. If you have teens who are more mature and tend to read up this might just fit the bill for them.  There is a reason this is for adult readers.   
Genre:  Mystery
 I want to thank the publishers for generously providing this title through NetGalley and Edelweiss for my honest review.

ISBN: 9781681773407       PUB: Pegasus Books         Book BD: 03/07/20

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Word About Seth Grahame-Smith


Any of you out there actually read Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer or Pride Prejudice and Zombies?  I’m not talking about seeing the movies.  Everyone knows that if there was a book before the movie, the book is better.  Now granted, many die hard Jane Austen fans were a bit putout with Grahame-Smith’s mash up of Pride and Prejudice.  However, if you read the book, you know he stayed true to Austen’s novel and just moved a few things around to fit in the zombies.  He does a wonderful job of mixing in the elements of supernatural into the realistic realm.  These elements are not aggrandized nor take over the story.  They are artfully woven into the story and blend in as if these events happened, these beings actually existed.  As you read about the life of Abraham Lincoln, the way Grahame-Smith weaves in the paranormal elements into Lincoln’s life you begin to feel that perhaps this could have happened.  In his newest venture in the life of the vampires, his latest tells Henry Sturges’s story. I like Henry.  He is a vampire with a heart and morals. Odd mix for a monster. The Last American Vampire is an artful look at how these supernatural creatures could be an asset to a government. It is a very interesting look at history as Grahame-Smith writes it. I recommend picking them up. 
Genre: Historical/Supernatural

Friday, April 14, 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 is releasing a new 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.