Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch

This story is an adventure in imagination.  Clay thinks magic is bad.  It's fake and tricks don't count as magic.  He doesn't believe in it.  He should...

Little Brown Books for Young Readers and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 16th, so watch for it then.

Clay has been sad and upset ever since his brother went away two years ago.  He left a note saying not to worry about him but that didn't make it better.  Since he's been gone, his life is more boring and he's lost his best friend.  The friends at school are OK, but it's not the same.  

His class is doing a Shakespeare play and he's not enthused.  However, everyone must participate and he does.  When they are asked to write about their experience he can't find a thing to say.  His teacher gives him a journal and tells him to take it home and write something there.  Even there he can't find anything to say so he just writes Magic Sucks! and signs his name.

When he gets to school, he notices everyone looking at him differently but can't imagine why.  Then his friend shows him the big graffiti on the school wall that just happens to say Magic Sucks with his name.  He didn't do it, how did it happen?  While he is pondering that, the principal wants to see him and he's suspended from school.  His parents take it in stride, but he has to go to a summer camp to help him mature and aid him in getting into seventh grade.  Trying to find something he can do and won't do drive him nuts makes him choose Earth Ranch.  Bad choice...

Once he gets to Earth Ranch, which is on an island with a volcano, things get really strange.  And it doesn't get better.  There's lots of mystery and adventure in this story.  If you figure one thing out, there's a new mystery in no time.  Nobody is really friendly and he's not sure who is telling the truth and who is telling lies.  Would you do as well as Clay at this quest?  I'm not sure I would.  Read it and tell me what you think.

Risk of Love and Magic (A California Malcolm Novel Book 3) by Patricia Rice

Nadine is being held captive in an insane asylum by her stepfather, the General.  When she helped his enemies, he incarcerated her and intends to keep her there as a weapon he can use whenever he needs her.  He doesn't expect her to escape...

Library Thing and the author gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  There are earlier books in the series if you wish to grab them all.

Nadine is psychic and has been sending messages about needing help.  She occasionally calls too, whenever she can sneak it in.  She's well guarded and watched closely, but she still manages to get out the door.  The best part of the escape is Magnus.  He's gotten the messages, knows she is the Librarian that helped his family and he wants to help her.  He just didn't realize how hard that was going to be.

It's a good thing that Magnus and his brothers and friends are all special op boys.  They fight hard, have great weapons and technology to use, and they don't back down.  Nadine wants to kill the General's computer, but the new tech geek has changed all the passwords, routes, and hidden caches so she doesn't have access anymore.  Magnus would be happy with just killing the General, but he tries to tone it down for Nadine.  With Nadine, it's first things first and she has to move her sister before the General nabs her.  The General puts chips in people, pets, cars, you name it.  He wants to know where they are and why and he wants to use them for revenge.  

This is a world of high tech with experienced warriors but the General is crazy and that gives him an advantage.  When Magnus begins to realize he's falling love with Nadine, it gets even more intense.  By the end of the story you better be hanging on to your seat; it's a wild ride.  Here you have an action-packed romance that sweeps you along in their adventure.  I liked it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young


The poor little puffin is so disappointed.  Everyone thinks he's a penguin!

Schiffer Publishing Ltd and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 28th, so watch for a copy then.

This book is a winner from two perspectives:  illustration and education.  The illustrations are vibrant and the animals leap from the pages.  You'll also learn facts about puffins by reading this story.

I felt so bad for the puffin.  I wanted to suggest to zoo staff they put a name badge on him.  However, one little girl visiting knew he was a puffin and how he was different from the penguins.  He just stands there full of pride as she mentions they grow on opposite ends of the earth and he can fly while penguins can't.  

I have a special relationship with animals and I'm sure he knew what she was saying.  After all, the Chihuahua raven at the Alamogordo zoo told me his name was Eduardo and he was so thrilled when I got it.  I told the park ranger in the gift shop about it and I could tell she thought I was crazy.  Just because you don't listen to him, lady, don't think we all don't!

Even when another visitor comes through and calls him a penguin again, he doesn't mind.  He's too busy feeling good about connecting with the little girl.

This is a cute book about zoo animals that will make any child smile.  Take a peek at it and you'll see what I mean.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Milo is twelve and he's looking forward to the Christmas holiday.  He's almost done with his homework and then he can do whatever he wants.  They have a family tradition of wearing pajamas all Christmas Day and that's a favorite time of his.  When the bell rings and they realize they have a customer coming in to stay, all their plans go sideways...

Clarion Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  This has just been published so you can grab a copy now.

I found this an interesting read for several reasons.  Milo is adopted and is Asian, while his parents are white.  He wonders about his real parents, but knows he's well loved where he is now.  The creepy creaky house they are living in and renting out rooms used to be a smuggler's inn (and still is).  The guests all have secrets.  And he meets a little girl who is his same age and becomes his partner in crime.  He doesn't realize just how special this little girl until later.

The story is a mix of present and past.  They end up with several guests, all of whom arrived as separate parties and got their own choice of rooms.  Milo thinks they're a bit weird, but they also appear to be nice.  When someone starts robbing things from their guest rooms, Milo and his friend go on the hunt to find the items.  Milo is quite smart and he manages to locate the goods.  He's still not sure who the thief is.  After all, the two woman have admitted they're thieves, but they were the ones stolen from.  The mystery deepens.

It's high adventure in a big old house with lots of secrets.  The story moves along well, and I found myself rooting for Milo.  He gives those visiting the special items he finds and that makes them happy as it's part of their heritage.  He learns to role play an old game his father played as a child.  He also solves the case with a little help from his friend.  What more could you want?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bob's Hungry Ghost by Genevieve Cote

It all started because Bob wanted a dog for his birthday.  He got a ghost instead...

Tundra Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 9th and would make a great Halloween gift for a young one.

This picture book is cute.  Bob names his ghost Fluffy and then he tries to teach it dog tricks.  You know, like fetch, sit, or go for walks.  No go.  One thing Fluffy does have in common with dogs is that the ghost loves to eat!  Unfortunately, once he starts, he's not willing to stop until he's eaten everything.  He even eats Bob. But Fluffy never expected to feel lonely...

Don't worry, the story ends well.  Bob and Fluffy do live happily ever after.  Written in a light hearted and silly way, this story will make you chuckle and will quickly become a favorite of your young ones.

Left Turn at Paradise: A Rare Book Mystery by Thomas Shawver

Michael Bevan is struggling to keep his used bookstore alive.  The traditional mode of bookselling has been shaken up by the arrival of ebooks and companies like Amazon.  He's not sure if he can continue his business or if he's going to have to close his shop and go into another endeavor.  He doesn't want to close the shop.  When he finds an old document left to him by it's previous owner, he's suddenly a lot more hopeful.

Alibi and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your bookstore for a copy.

Michael is a character that is a bit wishy-washy to me.  He has a woman he loves, a business he loves, and yet he's willing to take chances.  Does that mean he's weak or is he just human?

When he finds the old document hidden in other papers, he's amazed to see it's part of a journal written about Captain Cook.  When he takes it to the book show to see what he might be offered for it, he finds out that the journal is in three volumes.  He has volume one, another seller has volume two, and there is a purported volume three.  Unfortunately, that's in the middle of a jungle in a foreign country.  Here's where Michael shows his colors.  He leaves his girlfriend with the shop and goes off with the other sellers to find the third volume.  That in itself isn't so bad, but then he ends up sleeping with the female partner of the other shop.  Sigh...

The man that has the third volume is the female partner's father.  She hasn't seen her parents for years and has no desire to do so now, but will go along for the treasure to be recovered.  This trip is a tour through hell.  They have to hike through the jungle, avoid drowning in the rivers and being baked by the volcano, and attempt to be friendly with local natives.  Her father is crazy, the witch doctor is trying to take control, and the natives are superstitious and not friendly.  

This is about as far as you can get from a bookstore, folks.  It is an exciting and interesting tale.  And the ending is very ironic.  I liked it.  Why don't you give it a try?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lockwood & Co., Book 2 The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood & Company are ghost hunters.  They protect people from bad ghosts by using tricks of their trade.  So it's real embarrassing when they get to where they are going to gather one in and the other team of investigators gets it first.  It makes Lockwood mad!

Disney-Hyperion and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 16th.  If you haven't read the first book in this series, grab that one now so you'll be ready to move on with their new adventure.

I like Lockwood.  He's smart, good looking, and able to do things most of us couldn't.  He'd sacrifice himself to accomplish his goal or protect someone.  Lucy can hear ghosts.  She's also learning how to be a kick-ass ghost hunter and has a crush on Lockwood.  George is their technical side:  he researches old documents to find the ghosts they will send on their way.  He's also a bit of a fruit loop, which makes him fun to read about.  If that's not enough to interest you, they also have a talking skull.  The problem with the skull is that while he can be helpful, he also gets real excited when he thinks they might die!

Lockwood and the other boss have made a bet.  Whoever solves the next case first forces the other to put a new article in the paper about how the winner is the best of all.  Nothing like a challenge...

Mr. Saunders hires Lockwood & Co. to seal the casket of  Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead.  He's a powerful spirit and was messing in the wrong world while alive.  He wanted to see the other side and was using souls to give him the power to do so.  All is going well until George gets a bit too close trying to read the casket markings.  When he almost dies there, they should have realized this was a bit too big for just one group to control.

Throw in a magic mirror, a traitor in the project and a ghost free-for-all and you have a real situation that takes a lot of doing to conquer.  You won't be bored.  And at the end of the book, there's a door opened that I'm sure is going to segue into another book in the series.  I'm glad about that!

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

What do you do when your mother changes?  She was a very vibrant, expressive person who lived to dance.  Her performances were her life.  But when illness strikes her, she changes into a non-responsive robot.  Her exuberance is gone as well as her sense of humor.

Wendy Lam Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 9th.

This book takes a hard look at a family that is falling apart.  Mom's disease is MS, Multiple Sclerosis.  It's an ugly disease that takes away motor skills and makes life in general more difficult.  This story holds no punches.  It's written with pain and suffering in the pages and it's the journey of a young girl trying to live through her grief.

Chirp's mother gets so bad she has to be put in a hospital to deal with her depression.  They even go so far as to give her shock treatments.  When she comes home, she doesn't remember things and she doesn't like what she used to.  Despite that, the family remains close and they each try to determine what might cheer her up. When her father comes to the school and takes her out of classes early, Chirp is puzzled.  When he tells her of her mother's death (by suicide), Chirp's world is torn apart.

As each family member tries to go on and pretend there is nothing wrong with their lives, you see the grief and despair they all feel.  Chirp does one final thing that is almost crazy, but she's trying to bring her memories of her mother back.  

Despite the sadness, this isn't a make-you-cry book.  There's still love, family, and hope for things to get better.  It would be a good book for a child to read that has never lost a relative.  Ms. Ehrlich gives you an honest rendering of how heart breaking it is as well as how you do eventually manage to move on.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spirit's Key by Edith Cohn

Spirit is from a family of seers but hasn't received the family gift yet.  She's 12 and she should have it, but it just hasn't shown up yet.  Her father can hold house keys and see into the future.  It's not real clear, but he gets a premonition and it always comes true.  It can be good or bad, but it will happen.  When he tells his neighbor he can see his house burning, the neighbor gets mad and refuses to leave the island.  Island dwellers are like that.  After so many years there, it's like they and the island are attached...

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 9th, so grab a copy then.

I enjoyed this book for more than one reason.  I like magic and I love animals.  It turns out Spirit's key is her dog.  He died, she buried him and now he's appearing to her.  It's with his help and the help of a friend that Spirit manages to ferret out why the island dogs are dying.

The island dogs were there before the people and are feral.  The island people once got sick from a disease carried by a dog so they leave them alone.  Spirit tamed one and they ran over the beach together for years.  She still tries to protect them from the people.

Another islander fear is illness.  Anytime anyone gets sick, they quarantine them.  They don't want the illness to spread because it's a long way to a hospital.  When her father gets ill as the power leaves him and transfers to Spirit, he gets taken away to be quarantined.  She's not happy with that but can't stop it. As she works on saving him, she finds out why the wild dogs are dying. 

The tale kept my attention all the way through and it's told well.  I could see the homes in my mind and the dog running on the beach.  I felt Spirit's pain at the loss of her dog and her father's quarantine.  And I admired her personal strength and determination that let her see it through to the end.  This book will stick with me for a while.  Why don't you see what you think about it?

Hope Springs by Eric Walters

It's really dry in Kenya, Africa.  When there is a drought, it is even drier...

Tundra Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be in stores on September 9th, so get a copy then.

Boniface is in an orphanage and one of her duties is to go down to the river to get water.  She and her friend go there, put their buckets on the ground in line and then go to play.  She can't believe it when the other people there throw their buckets away from the line, but she doesn't say anything.  She just goes to get the bucket and moves back to the line.  But the people there won't let them have any water!

When they run back to the orphanage to report it to the houseparent, he tells them the people are afraid they are going to run out of water and are trying to protect their source.  The good news is that the orphanage is digging a well and should have their own water source soon.

Mr. Walters' story has a lovely message.  When the well starts giving them water, Boniface suggest sharing it with the people at the river.  They have enough they can share.  Why not share it with them as a sign of hope?

The book is very nicely illustrated and the story is tied to an actual village in Kenya.  Take a look and see the children he's writing about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke


Julia's house is carried about on the back of a turtle.  It has to be a big old leatherback turtle because her house is an old Victorian home.  That's the kind of house I admire and wish I owned...

First Second Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 2nd, so you'll be able to pick up a copy soon.

Julia and her house move out by the sea and settle in.  She loves the views but the house is just TOO quiet.  So she makes a sign that says lost creatures are welcome there.  Imagine her surprise when there's a little parade of animals coming through her door!  A patched up kitty, troll, mermaid, dragon, snail, gnome and many, more come in her door.  The problem is that no one is helping around the house.  What a mess!

Julia has to create two more signs to get things back to normal but it all works out.  It's a fun tale and the illustrations are great.  Fantasy animals are fun!  So is Julia.  

I'm buying a copy of this one for my personal library.  Just take a look at it; I'm sure it will enchant you, too.

Always, Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh


Abigail and her two best friends enter sixth grade with big plans:  Pom pom girls, popularity and secret codes.  She'll get her picture taken and displayed as a pom pom girl and she'll have status.  What could be better?

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy now.

I liked this story for several reasons.  It's an example of how your goals can change when you aren't looking.  It looks at who really is and isn't your friend.  The story is partly written in letter form and that fascinates me.  I had pen pals in high school and just loved getting letters from them.  One girl I met when I was 16 and she's still my friend now.  I've known her longer than I have known my husband!  

Abigail tries out for the pom pom girls and makes the list.  There's an asterisk by her name and she thinks that means she's going to team captain.  Unfortunately, it means she's an alternate.  If one of the regular girls goes out, she can replace them.  Sigh...

Even worse, one of the assignments in her home room (which is different than her besties) is to write friendly letters to the school's biggest outcast.  How could this happen?  Not only that, she finds herself understanding and liking Gabby.  She doesn't want to, so why is this happening?  They even do read aloud to younger classes together and it works like a charm.  Maybe it's not so bad not making the pom pom team.  Then one of the girls hurts her leg and she's put on the team...

Learning popularity can make people two-faced and real joy can be doing something worthwhile is a hard lesson for Abigail.  But she's growing up and turning into her own person and I like her.  I bet you will, too.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Graham Cracker Plot by Shelley Tougas


Daisy knows her Dad is a good man and shouldn't be in prison.  It was all just a big mistake...

Macmillan's Children Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book (thank you).  It will be published September 2nd; check with your bookstore for a copy.

Daisy's grandmother takes her to visit her father.  Daisy's mother refuses to go or take her.  Daisy is young enough they've colored the truth for her.  As it turns out, that was a big mistake.

Daisy gets her sometimes friend, Graham, to help her figure out how to get her Dad out of jail.  Graham comes up with a far-fetched idea that sounds good to Daisy.  They'll get a car and driver and then create a diversion while Daisy throws wire cutters over the fence.  Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Not so...

They get a car and a driver who is mentally challenged from an auto accident.  Then they add a miniature horse.  And it just gets worse.

This is a tale about a girl who loves her father and wants to save him.  She ends up finding out he's no angel and that even with plans things don't turn out.  She still loves him and plans to see him, but she's grown up some after this adventure.

I think most kids would laugh over their antics as they attempt to carry out their plot.  Murphy's law prevails.  Here's your chance to give you young one a book that's fun to read but has an underlying message, too.

Happy reading!

Death in Elysium by Judith Cutler


Jodie Welch is a woman who married late in life and then she married a rector.  She leaves her job and her old life and settles in to married life and church duties.  Church duties don't come naturally to her.  She's a person who likes to get things done and do them her own way.  So when she starts to mentor the upcoming young men who have nothing to look forward to but trouble, some town folks aren't happy.

Severn House and Net Galley let me read this book fro review (thank you).  It will be published the first of October, so look for a copy then.

Jodie comes up with an idea to make a website for the town and the church.  The church board is hesitant but since there is no cost involved, they agree.  When Jodie gives her expensive camera to the young man that does yardwork sporatically, the naysayers tell her he'll steal it and sell it and she'll never see it again.  She doesn't believe that, but the boy doesn't come back either.  When she begins to search for him, she finds out even more that's hidden in this town.

It seems the boy she is looking for is dead.  If she's not careful, she might be the next body found...

Somehow it seems all these small villages have big secrets cooking somewhere.  While this is a familiar theme, Ms. Cutler gives us unusual characters and a unique way to solve the mystery.  I enjoyed the story of Jodie and the man she loves and will be looking for another in this series.  Give it a read and tell me what you think about it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Maddy Kettle Book 1: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard


Maddy works in her family's bookstore.  She loves it!  She's also quite fond of a present her father gave her:  a pet flying toad named Ralph.  You can see from this that this is a fantasy, and it's a good one, too!

Diamond Book Distributors and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 30th, so you can grab a copy then.

This is a graphic novel and the illustrations are fabulous.  Maddy's parents have been turned into rats and she's determined to get them changed back.  If she has to find the Thimblewitch, then she will! By accident, she runs across a bear and a raccoon that are mapping the area and traveling by air.  She snags a ride and heads in the direction of the Thimblewitch. 

It's not an easy journey and there are dangers all along the way. You find spider goblins, vampire bats, moon magic and more in these pages.  I found the story great fun to read and know I want to read more about Maddy.  I also know there will be more because the Thimblewitch is retiring and gave Maddy her bag of tricks.  I can't wait!

If you have a reluctant reader who likes fantasy and magic, they will suck this book up quickly.  Just get ready to buy the next book in this series, too...

Supping with the Devil by Sally Spencer

Monika's boss that had an affair with her is blaming Monika for his wife's drunk driving death.  It's not her fault, but he won't forgive her.  So he sends her to the Earl of Ridley's Rock Festival as a consultant.  It's calculated to shame her and make her quit.  Instead, she ends up right in the middle of a can of worms...

Severn House Publishing and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 1st.

This is the 8th book in this series.  I only found Monika a book or so ago.  She's a wounded soul who has turned into a very good detective.  She's still weak on the emotional front and that's what caused her affair with the Super.  But she's a dedicated and determined investigator who will find the perpetrator no matter the cost to herself.  In this story, her personal cost is high.

If it's not odd enough an Earl wants to relive Woodstock, he hires a motorcycle gang to keep the peace.  Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

At the core of this, there are games being played at the castle, on the grounds and at the police station.  The new man brought up to head up Monika's team while she's away is a manipulator who is trying to break the team apart by causing doubt, fear, and anger in the members against other members.  Unfortunately, her cops have more experience with that than he does, so it doesn't work.  The countess in the castle is trying to cause her son another breakdown so she can get the castle back.  The staff at the castle does as it is commanded at the castle no matter what it costs them.  And there's an undercover man in the middle of the festival transactions who is making money all the way around by screwing everybody.  Trying to figure out how this all related and just what happened when a young girl dies of heroin during her performance and a reporter was killed not long after being on the castle grounds is tough.  Monika is picking at it though, and will figure it out.

I didn't like what the author did to Monika in this book.  Monika has been a pretty depressed character in this series but I found the motorcycle gang a little over the top.  I also found out the disclosure at the end of the book hard to take.  You'll need to read it to see what you think, but the author disappointed me.  I don't like seeing the main character in the series being treated badly.  Maybe it's because I like Monika and how her team works and want to read more about that.  We'll have to see what happens in the next book.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

An Event in Autumn: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankell


Kurt is thinking about buying a house in a country setting.  When a friend calls him with a lead and offers him a fair price on a house in the area he grew up as a child, he goes to look at it.  He never expected to stumble over something in the back yard.  What's worse is that it's a skeletal hand...

Vintage Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published in August, so you can grab a copy now.

I had not read anything by Mr. Mankell before but this was a very good read.  I'm going to look for more of his work.

This death is not in his precinct, but since he has an interest in the house, he does some investigating anyway.  It turns out the body has been buried there for years, so it's not a current crime.  He researches who lived there in the past and tries to make sense out of what he's learned.  It's an old crime.  Most the people involved are already dead.  Those still alive don't remember much or have already lost their minds.  But he's a persistent and dedicated cop.  He won't buy the house now that this has happened, but since it caught his attention, he's not going to let it go. The bad news?  It almost gets him killed...

It's an interesting detailed read that smoothly moves along and draws you in.  I liked it.  Why don't you try it and see what you think?

Death in the Dolomites A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery by David Wagner

Rick Montoya lives in Rome, but he takes some vacation time to go skiing with Flavio, his buddy from college.  They both went to school in New Mexico and Flavio was a skiing star there.  Rick is happy to have some time with him, even if he is a lady's man.  He never expected to get involved in a murder case...

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 1st, so you can grab a copy then.

Rick's Uncle is a policeman and he's trying to get Rick to join the force.  Rick is good at detecting but has no desire to be a cop.  However, when a man goes missing and an inspector is sent to find him, it seems he's already talked to Rick's Uncle and Rick is being pulled into service.  He doesn't mind, much.  Skiing is fun but detecting is a challenge.

When boys locate the dead body of the missing man, the case becomes more serious.  As Rick and the Inspector nose around, they begin to make enemies.  This is a very small Italian town where everyone knows everyone and everyone else's business, too.  Making waves is frowned upon.  

Rick gets seduced by the dead man's sister, has a couple of close calls with death, and eventually digs down to the truth.  Everybody in town has a motive of some kind.  It's not an easy case.  But he's persistent and Flavio even comes in handy here and there.

You taste Italy, the mountains, the snow and the cold as you read the story.  The small town politics, the fight over one piece of ground, and the characters that live there are believable and often found in small secluded towns.  Mr. Wagner has written a good mystery with lots of characters to look over.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Amazing Wilmer Dooley: A Mumpley Middle School Mystery by Fowler DeWitt, Rodolfo Montalvo (Illustrated by)

Going to the science fair will be great!  At least Wilmer thought so.  Imagine how he feels when he sees the run down hotel and all his friends get weird...

Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 26th, so watch for a copy then.

This is an outrageous story about middle schoolers.  We have the class bully, the eternal optimist, the pessimist, and every other type of student plus a teacher everyone hates.  Well, almost everybody.  The bully gets along with her fine.

Most of the students have spent months working on their projects hoping to win the grand prize.  Cladius (the bully) has brought his cousin Vlad, and they are working on some sort of awful exhibit.  They're having way too much fun putting it together and hiding it and snickering.  What could it be?

The kids are turning into zombies, seemingly losing their minds and being non-responsive.  What's causing that? It gets even worse when they get taken into the woods at night and have to find their own way to the hotel in the middle of nowhere.

While this is a silly story, it's a great adventure and will make those reading it laugh.  No one will be bored by this tale.

Margarita Wednesdays by Deborah Rodriguez

Afghanistan is no place for an American woman, even if she's married to an Afghan.  What made it worst was that he was already married and had children with another woman.  When her husband gets abusive and Kabul gets even more out of control, Deborah flees with one of her sons.  The other son is already in a safe location.  She leaves her whole life behind.  What's she to do now?

Gallery books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so look for a copy at your local bookstore.

Ms. Rodriguez's first book was the Kabul Beauty School.  I have not read that one but the author is comfortable with words and they flow well in her writing.  This is a continuation of her life story and it reads like fiction, but it's not.

Her boys are old enough to be on their own, so she finds herself alone and unfocused for the first time in years.  She stays with a friend who says she can stay as long as she needs to.  As time goes along and she has no desire to do anything, she begins to realize she's not as OK as she thought she was.  It's suggested she has PTSD from the Afghanistan stay.  She realizes this is so and sets out to try to overcome it after a year in hiding.

She puts her belongings in her Mini Cooper, adds her pet cat, and then heads for a place she visited on vacation years before:  Mazatlan.  Never mind that she has no friends there, no plans for her future or that she can't speak Spanish.  She's going anyway!

As a woman controlled by other people for years, it's hard for her to be all on her own.  She has various responses to the ups and downs of life.  But she never gives up.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction because it can be quite boring but this was written in an entertaining way and held my interest.  I became fascinated with her and her life and was happy to see her overcome her problems and find a way to happiness.  She's a much looser person than I am and adapted to a different life well.  She has done well.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Murder with a Twist by Allyson K Abbott

Mack is back and Duncan, too.  She shouldn't have a police detective as her love, though.  Somehow she always gets drawn into cases.  Make believe ones are fine; real ones are not...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy of this book now.  If you haven't read the first book, get them both.

Mack's friends that populate the bar enjoy making up crimes and having the patrons try to solve them.  They get enough information to do it, they just have to figure out who did it.  It's a bit like mind games but not too strenuous.  Duncan likes to watch them.  And he is starting to depend on Mack's abilities.  Mack has synesthesia, a condition in which she may hear colors or smell or taste sounds.  This ability lets her check for things unseen by the normal eye.

This case concerns a murdered mother and a missing child.  Mack didn't want to work with the police anymore, but how can she ignore a little boy who is missing?

It's a complicated case with lots of players, but Mack and Duncan are tracking the boy down.  The kidnapper wasn't someone I would suspect and it got to be a matter of life and death before the story was over.  I enjoyed this read even more than I did the first book.  I think that's because I'm becoming familiar with Mack and her abilities.  Why don't you give this series a try?

The Good Suicides: A Thriller by Antonio Hill

Hector Salgado is back at work.  His ex-wife is still missing, presumed dead by most everyone, and his son is living with him.  He's facing a complex case where several of the employees of the same company have committed suicide.  At first, it was thought it might be murder, but it's not so.  What happened in that company to make this so?

Crown Publishing and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published July 17th, so you can buy a copy now.

Hector is a very interesting police inspector.  He's intelligent, focused, and intuitive but he likes to stretch the reach of the law every now and then.  Threats are made, people are pressured, and most talk to him to make him go away.  However, this makeup company seems to be immune to him.  They care not what he says and offer no insight into their employee's deaths.  They do express sorrow but it's not genuine.  He wonders what is not said.

I like reading of other countries and their culture.  As different as they may be from the US, there are similarities.  The core of this mystery is what happened when the staff was away for a team building exercise.  Something unseen has seriously affected them all.  But what?  Dead dogs hanging in a tree is an ugly thing, but shouldn't upset them enough to make them kill themselves.  So why does an email with that photo set off the suicides?

While this case is proceeding, the cop who is off duty due to her pregnancy decides to do some more investigating into the disappearance of Hector's ex-wife.  What she finds is interesting but doesn't tell me anything new.  I don't see the significance of the new knowledge yet.

As Hector wraps up his case and the detective has her baby, this book comes to a close.  But Mr. Hill has held back a final card to play:  Ruth makes an appearance and the man she opens the door for on her last day at home is a total shock!  Now I can't wait for the next book to see just what did happen to Ruth and what new case Hector will be working on.  These are unusual mysteries and a good read both.  Give them both a try.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling

Remy is a circus performer:  Part trapeze artist/part acrobat.  She falls from a height and lands on the horse moving below.  When Thaddeus sees her fall, he tries to save her.  It's a good thing he didn't get in the horse's way because it would have run right over him!  Neither one of them expected to see the other one again...

Capstone Books and Net Galley allowed to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can buy a copy now.  

I highly recommend this book.  It's the type of adventure that speaks to me with an underlying romance that seems doomed.  There's ton of action, lots of odd characters, and a plot to conquer London.  What more could you want?

Remy's boss sends her to reconnoiter the Tower of London where he wants her to steal a diamond.  She helps an old man into the event as her ticket in and then cases the joint.  No one is more surprised when the old man falls on the case that houses the diamond she wants to steal and breaks it.  Especially when he calls her name to exit the building.

She sees the police chief give the diamond to the young detective she met the night before at the circus.  She bumps into him and steals it.  The bad news is that when she gets back to her boss it's a fake.  She saw the real thing, where did it go?  It's even worse for Thaddeus.  He's accused of stealing the diamond himself!

He goes after Remy, she goes after the old man, Abernathy.  Neither one of them are going to be happy about how that works out.  There's steampunk mechanisms, slaves, underground mines, and an evil plot involved.  Even worse, Remy has a curse on her.  How can she win?

The story is involved, interesting, and she and Thaddeus fall in love.  But her curse will keep them apart, won't it?  Since she runs away from him and he has no idea where she is it sure sounds like it...

The ending is wonderful and I liked this read so much I have ordered a copy for me and my library.  Why don't you give it a read and see what you think?  Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2: The Terror of the Southlands by Caroline Carlson, Dave Phillips (Illustrated by)

Hilary is now a full-fledged pirate and can sail the seas proudly.  She has a fairly motley crew, but she doesn't mind.  They are her friends and they enjoy sailing and quests.  What she doesn't enjoy is being accused of not acting "pirate-like"...

HarperCollins and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 9th, so it's not long to wait for the second book in this series.

The first one was a great read, so I had to see what sort of new adventures Hilary got involved in.  She tends to be more of a heroine than a pirate, but don't tell her so.

When she finds Miss Primm missing, she gathers her crew and sets off to find her.  The fact that the King of the Pirates doesn't want her to do that doesn't stop her.  Neither do threats that she's acting not at all like a pirate.

She has Charlie, Claire and her gargoyle and they have great adventures trying to stay alive and unharmed during their quest.  It takes a while to unravel what's wrong with the situation.  It seems the dead aren't dead and all the pirates aren't what they seem either.  It's a fight to the end and you're not sure if Hilary is going to succeed.  It's a good thing she has such great friends or she wouldn't make it.

Now I wonder if there will be another book in the series or if this is the end.  I don't think Hilary is done with her adventures though.  If you're her friend, she's going to drag you along on another one.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Disappearance at Hangman's Bluff: A Felony Bay Mystery by J. E. Thompson


Abby's father is home again.  He's recovered from his coma and is now taking on new cases.  This worries Abby because she thinks he's not quite well yet, but fathers will be fathers.

Walden Pond Press and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book (thank you).  It will be published September 2nd, so grab a copy then.

Abby and Bee are out for a pony ride to the Judge's house to check on his dog and her puppies, when they see some men kidnap the dog!  They try to stop them, then must run from them to escape getting hurt themselves.  If that wasn't bad enough, the family her father had sued in the first book in this series is back in town again and still trying to develop the property out at Hangman's Bluff.  They're no friends of Abby's.

While they sneak around trying to see what's happening and where the dog might be, Abby and Bee find a dead man in an abandoned truck!  It's the same one that kidnapped the dog.  That immediately gets them both grounded.  As you guess, they sneak away again and don't realize just how much danger they are in.  When a big storm comes in, they have to fight the weather as well as the bad guys.

This is busy adventure tale with two good friends, one black and one white, and a lot of local history all wound up around these girls.  The girls remain strong and steadfast and stand up for what they believe in.  We should all do that.  The mix of action and history made this a good read for young readers as well as adults.  It should interest both boys and girls who want to know more about slave history without it feeling like a lesson.

Happy reading.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dead End by Shirley Wells


"Dylan Scott? It's payback time. You're going to die."

Carina Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Dylan is a private eye now.  He's been a cop in the past.  He has lots of enemies, but who would want to kill him?  While he tries to figure that out, there are other men going missing.  Since he's a PI, he gets involved in trying to locate them.  

The worst part is that his wife has been diagnosed with cancer.  He wants to spend more time with her, but it's not possible.  She also hates him hovering over her.  Keeping their children upbeat is important to both of them, so they try to hide their fear and worries.  If someone is after him, Dylan wants to be sure his family safe.  With cancer and murder about, that's hard to do.

This is a murder mystery that goes back in the past.  It takes some time to find the connection to the killer.  Even then, it really doesn't point to a reason for murder.  When you add in the trauma of losing a wife to cancer, the story becomes double-edged.  It's the dance of death and you can't win with cancer if it's advanced too far, no matter how much you want to.

The ending is a real kicker.  It took me a bit to come to terms with it.  I should have seen it coming, but I didn't.  Why don't you read it and see if you're smarter than I am and can figure it before Dylan and I did?  It's a busy police procedural with a monster killer.  You won't forget it quickly.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fool's Assassin: Book One of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy by Robin Hobb

FitzChivalry Farseer is dead; Tom Badgerlock is alive.  No longer an assassin, Tom is married to Molly, his true love, and living as contented as one can as a country squire.  If only Chade would leave him alone, life would be better.

Del Ray allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  The book was published August 12th, so you can grab a copy now.  This is new trilogy that continues the story of Fitz and the Fool.  

I haven't read Ms. Hobb's work before so I was interesting in tasting her writing style.  I do like to read fantasy so it wasn't much of a stretch for me.  What I was surprised to learn was that she lives in Tacoma, Washington.  Why didn't I know that when I lived in Washington?

Tom is a good man with mean talents.  He takes in those who need it, helps train them, and keeps entire generations under his roof.  He's also a harsh judge and will right any wrong he perceives.  His life is good, but he almost has immortality and Molly is growing old.  In fact, when she tells him she's pregnant, he's afraid her mind is giving way.  She's past her prime of life and too old to bear children.  

The author tells you enough to carry the history of the story forward.  You know Fitz (Tom) is never going to be able to cut his connection to the court and intrigues of the past, but you also feel his desire to leave all that behind.  When Molly dies and he has a young daughter to raise, he's lost.  He's never had children of his own before.  They don't get along well, but they get along.

It's a good strong storyline and you feel that Fitz has more challenges ahead of him.  I also know that his child has something important about her, but I'm fuzzy on what.  After all, any baby that was carried two years before it was born is unusual.  But what her purpose is, I don't know.  The ending sets you up for the next book in the trilogy.  

This is going to be a grand adventure and I'm glad I've read this book.  I'll be watching for the next book in the series.  You should follow along, too.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Maddy West and the Tongue Taker by Brian Falkner


Since Maddy can speak Japanese when she hasn't been taught, her mother takes her to the doctor.  She thinks she needs to be fixed.  The doctor tells her no, Maddy just has a valuable skill.  When Mom hears valuable, she's off to call a TV talk show to capitalize on it.  Mom can smell money...

Capstone and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It's been published, so grab yourself a copy now.

This is a fun story with a creepy witch, a monkey, a wrestler and a would-be ninja warrior who happens to be Maddy's upstairs neighbor friend.  It turns out Maddy is a tongue talker.  Once she hears a language, she can speak it.  That sounds far-fetched, but my grandfather could speak five languages.  He lived in Czechoslovakia and had learned all the neighboring languages.  So I could see a young one have a similar talent although Mr. Falkner enhances Maddy's abilities for this story.

A university professor comes to visit and wants to take Maddy to Bulgaria so she can decipher an ancient scroll.  When she offers enough money, Maddy's parents say yes.

Maddy finds herself in a foreign country with a monkey as a companion.  The professor is not what she pretended to be.  The good news is her ninja friend came along as a stowaway.  The bad news is now she has another person to worry about.

Maddy's really put to the test when she's kidnapped.  Will she manage to escape and save her friends too?  It's a battle to the end...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tomorrow's Vengeance by Marcia Talley

Hannah Ives is back in another cozy mystery.  This time she's visiting a community for older folks.  Her friend is managing the facility.  It's for all types of folks from normal to needing full-time care and Hannah agrees to volunteer there.  While she knew some folks were on their last days, she sure never expected to find a perfectly healthy man murdered on the premises.

Severn House and Net Galley allowed to read and review this book (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your bookstore for a copy.

Hannah finds a woman there who barely survived WWII by hiding in a convent.  She lost her whole family and their belongings in the war days.  Her father had an art gallery, but he lost it to the Nazi's.  When the girls go on a casual outing to the local gallery, Sophia almost faints from shock when she finds a painting of her brother that came out of her father's gallery.  With the help of a lawyer, she sets about to try to recover her paintings.

There is a desperate person working at the life care community and that person will stop at nothing to protect their goal.  Even death is not too much. The reason for the death and the stolen paintings goes right back to greed.  As they say, follow the money.  It always seems to lead to the killer.  Love will do that, too, but it was greed in this case.

I found it interesting to read about this life care community because my mother lives in one.  There were similarities (no murder!) and it made the read more pleasant for me.  Ms. Talley throws in odds and ends of mysteries to snarl the trail to the truth.  I didn't cotton to the truth until the end of the book and that makes it a good mystery for me.  Why not give it a try?