Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

Ruth is leading an archeological dig near a farm.  They've found a Bronze Age body and are thrilled with it.  The man running the digger over the hill to level out the ground is not very happy when he finds a piece of metal in his way, but he plans to move it.  When he finds the pilot still sitting in the cockpit through he's not as calm about it.  Ruth is happy to find her dead body; he screams when he finds his...

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

Ms. Griffith always write stories that are well thought out and complicated.  The characters love lives are hodge podge and often overlap from work to home.  I was surprised with how this story ended and want to read the next one in this series already.  I can't wait to see where it's going from here.

It turns out almost everyone involved in this story is a Blackstock.  The dead pilot (who has a bullet hole in his skull) is one.  The people living in the big house are all Blackstocks.  Even one of the cops turns out to be related.  There were three brothers in this current generation.  The pilot was one of them.  The other walked away in grief when his dog died and everyone presumed he'd drowned.  The mother drowned herself one day.  Their family history is filled with sorrow and it's going to get worse.

They research family history, talk to the remaining relatives and the end result is they are pretty sure who the killer is but they have no way to prove it.  The ending to the story is very dramatic and scary.  I was getting real worried about Ruth and Nelson.  I bet you will, too.  Read it and then tell me what you thought of the ending.  I liked it.

L.A. Rotten A Tom Tanner Mystery by Jeff Klima

Tom Tanner had a secret.  He's a clean up man for dead bodies.  He's learned enough while studying to be a doctor to know how to do it.  He's almost qualified for forensics.  But his big secret is that it doesn't bother him to do it.  It takes a special kind of person to do that with no compunctions.  And someone knows that...

Alibi and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published May 12th, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This book bothered me.  There's psycho killing people who occupy a motel room in a common motel chain by the freeway in LA.  It's the same room number each time,  just a different motel.  As Tanner tries to explain what's going on to the cops, they could care less.  Then the psycho starts calling him.  He wants to partner up with Tom.

Being around Tom is like carrying a stick of dynamite in your hand; he's dangerous to be around.  Most of the people who are friends with him end up dead.  When his enemies start getting killed, it's time to get worried.

This is an unforgiving mean story that I thought about quitting before I finished it.  But it was busy, things were developing and I kept going.  Even when I thought it was beyond redemption, the author sweeps in and finishes it up nicely.  I'm glad I finished it, but I'm not sure I'd read another in this series.  It's just a bit too violent and mean for me.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Into Coraira Legend of Rhyme Series Vol. 1 Book 2, by Jaime Lee Mann

Asher and Ariana are back together again.  They are twins that have magical powers and it's time for them to learn to use them.  Unfortunately, they don't get many lessons before danger arrives...

Blue Moon Publishers and Net Galley allowed me to download this book for review.  It was published May 8th, so you can grab a copy now.

This is the second book in the Legend of Rhyme series; Ellora of Stone was the first.  After I read the first one I was watching to read the next one.  This one is good, too.

The adults are making sure that the portals are watched for intruders.  Warnings go through the kingdom that Asgall has returned.  He's pure evil and wants to get all his powers back and take over by killing all the magic but his.  Stopping him will be very hard, especially since he is in animal form now.

This is written for middle graders and has plenty of magic, adventure and a continuing fight of good against evil.  The books are short length and will keep the young ones attention all the way through.  When the twins get caught in the middle, I wasn't sure they'd survive.  That's what kept me reading.

I'm very interested in what will come in the final book.  You get a hint of what's next at the end of the story and I think it looks like fun.  Can the twins find their way home?  We'll just have to read that book to see. 


Friday, May 29, 2015

Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries: A British Library Crime Classic by Martin Edwards

This is a collection of fourteen stories that are done by the usual crime authors and some unusual ones.  I think one or two might have been under a rock.  Some haven't seen the light of day or been published before.  Sound interesting?

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 2nd, so you can grab a copy then.

Most the stories were enjoyable reads and kept my interest.  A couple were a bit stodgy and formal, but they read well, too.  I met some new authors.  I even found an Arthur Conan Doyle story I hadn't read before.

What I found amusing was that not all the crimes were solved.  Or, if they were, the murderer was not convicted but an alternate solution was suggested.  One was really a farce.  The "great detective" comes in and solves the case with his reasoning.  Everyone is awed by how he did it.  So what if his answer was wrong?

Another thing that seemed to be prevalent is the fact that they don't care too much for policemen.  Inspectors were slow and bungling.  Many couldn't solve the case so they just wrote it off.  Most current stories don't end that way.  These were written in the '30's, so times were different then.


One thing these stories do tell you:  Inspectors investigate everywhere, even while on a holiday...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

What if your grandmother knew she was approaching death and gives you a mission to carry out after she's gone?  You grieve at what you've lost, but you have a job for the future so you can't give up.  Elsa has letters to deliver to the tenants of the apartment house.  She doesn't know or like them all, but she will do what she asked to do.

Atria Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 16th, so check with your local bookstore then.

Mr. Backman knows people.  He knows how they think, what they think, and how human we all are.  I read A Man Called Ove and really enjoyed it.  My grandparents had a big impact on my life and I enjoy reading about old people and their quirks.  This story also has a fairy tale involved, which is a bit different.  However, when the fairy tale comes to life, it's apparent that the grandmother was telling life stories from long ago that has led everyone to where they are today.  She took in the strays, those with hurts, or those who needed comfort.

This book is the story of her letters apologizing and explaining that they all must work to keep Elsa safe.  There is one person who is dangerous and it takes the whole apartment house unit to keep her safe.

The story jumps a bit from a fantasy to reality and as things become clear, it's amazing how things work out.  Elsa is a strong, opinionated little girl that is smart, too.  It takes her efforts to find the letters and deliver them and then she has to figure out how to help make it right.  I found myself caught up in the story and read longer than I should because I didn't want to put it down.  This author talks to me.  I wonder what he will write next?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge

This is a disturbing book.  Don't read it if you have a weak stomach or scare easily.  Watch out for the twisted mind games being played.  And prepare for a final confrontation that can only have one outcome:  BAD.

Penguin Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 2nd, so you'll be able to grab a copy then.

Someone is putting a couple of people in impossible situations.  An empty swimming pool that has long been abandoned and is too deep to escape; a coal silo; or any place that has long been vacant and has a trap no one can escape from.  They have a gun and a phone with message that tells them there is one way out.  One must kill the other and then they will be released. It matters not what walk of life you come from or how you are related to the other person. 

The victims are sometimes injured, all of them emotionally wrung out, and they are left until one dies.  Then the other one is set free; at least from the trap they were in.  They never escape the torture in their mind.

What you read is horrible but you keep reading to find out what happens.  You know the cop isn't going to give up until she finds the killer.  Some people around her get left on the wayside while this hunt goes on but she refuses to give up.

Everybody touched by this disaster is a mess.  It will be some time until people recover from being a victim.  That includes the cop.  An event from years ago that she thought she'd left behind hit her in the face and now she has to figure out how to move on, too.

This is not a book you will forget.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Am the Traitor by Allen Zadoff

He's been trained to be an assassin.  He's young, but he knows all the tricks and trusts no one.  His only fault is that he has a friend who was helping him that Program has captured and he's determined to get him back.  Getting Howard back means going against what he's been taught and he will most likely end up with the Program after him.  But he's going to save Howard...

Little Brown Books for Young Readers and Net Galley gave me the opportunity read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 9th, so you can grab a copy then.

This is the third book in this series for young readers.  It's especially suited for boys who like action.  I've read them all and knew this one was going to be an exciting end to an adventure Zach didn't even want to have.  If you get captured, have a chip put inside you to quell your emotions and track you, and get trained in how to kill without ever agreeing, it means you won't be content following orders.  Especially since you never knew if you might be the next one killed!

Zach gets Howard and the girl in the room with him out of the Program's facility but not without killing some of the Program's men.  Now they are on the run.  And the Program begins lying again.  Mike is supposed to be his friend, but is he?  Who is this girl?  And why is the Program trying to bring him "home"?

I wondered how Mr. Zadoff would finish this series and he does a great job of tying all the threads together and giving the survivors hope at the end.  It's an astounding finish that left me sitting there with my mouth open.  I thought I knew what was going to happen and most of it did, but the final irony was a great touch.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Emily is twelve and addicted to the Book Scavenger game.  She's working her up through the levels trying to get to the top.  She gets points for books she finds by following clues and by leaving books for others to find.  When her family moves to San Francisco, she's happy.  That's where the creator of her game lives!

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 2nd, so grab a copy then.

The first person Emily meets is a boy about her age that lives in the same apartment house they are moving into.  The house belongs to his family.  He also likes to do puzzles.  She's never really had a friend before; they move so much it isn't really possible.  She likes the idea though.  And James likes ciphers and puzzles as much as she does.  She thinks she'll really enjoy her time here in San Francisco.

When Mr. Griswold gets shot on his way to a presentation, the book he is carrying is tossed towards the garbage cans because his assailants thought they were looking for an old book.  Emily and James come to the scene of the crime hoping to find something out about the mugging.  What they find is the book.  Emily leaves her Book Scavenger card to show she picked it up and on they go.  

She finds that the book is a clue in a brand new game and she can't resist playing it.  But someone else wants that book...

There's lots of action and excitement, some conflict between Emily and her new friend, James, and lots of book lore in this tale.  I liked how James named his cowlick "Steve".  Maybe I should name mine.

This was a fun tale, with lots of challenges and an unusual prize at the end.  Whether you like books or adventure, there's some of both in this book for you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

It all begins when a suitcase is unexpectedly delivered to Vivian, a young woman living in New York.  It's actually addressed to Violet, but she knows no Violet.  Neither does her mother.  When she goes to the post office to pick up, she flirts with the good looking guy in the post office line ahead of her.  He asks if she needs help getting her package home and she says yes.  This is a double plus because he's going to carry her package and she gets to know more about him.

Penguin Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is an interesting tale about a woman who left New York with her new husband and never returned.  There was a rumor she killed her husband and ran off with her lover.  The family never talks about her.  But she's Vivian's aunt and she wants to know more about her story.  After all, Vivian is a journalist and this would make a great human interest story.  She doesn't expect it to evolve into a family history lesson or to find that her life is lot like her aunt's life was.

It's a pretty detailed book about the life and times of both women.  Violet took what she wanted from life and bartered to get into scientific research.  Vivian has fallen in love but her best friend thinks he's the "one" and is expecting to marry him.  Both women had their failings in love, but Ms. Williams redeems them before the end.

Vivian finds Violet.  Old secrets are exposed and new secrets are kept.  Both these women are strong in their own way.  I enjoyed reading about them and ended the book with a smile on my face. I liked the mix of past and present.  It made it much more authentic to me.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Capital Crimes: London Mysteries A British Library Crime Classic by Martin Edwards

This is a lovely anthology of England's crime authors stories.  I love short stories and couldn't wait to dip into this one.  

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 2nd, so you can grab a copy then.

This is a variety of tales.  I had read some of these in the past because I subscribe to the Ellery Queen mystery magazine and they highlight "classic" tales.  I had also read some of them because they were in collections I'd read in the past.  Some of these relative unknown authors were actually friends of mine.  Or, I should say, their stories were.  It was a pleasure to read either a new story or a reread of an old story I'd read before.

I found several stories I'd never had the pleasure of reading before.  Some are the staid almost formal British voice of their authors.  The ones that gave me pleasure where the ones where the characters were unusual, outspoken or misbehaved.  I find them entertaining reads.

There were no bad stories in this collection.  The editor did a good job of picking substantial stories for this collection.  You also get a mini biography about the writer.  Some women wrote with a male name.  Some men used pen names.  It's amazing how far we've come and how much farther we have to go in the world of authors.

I found this collection to be a real treat.  If you like mystery stories, you'll like this collection.  If you're not sure, the stories are short and you'll get a good taste of what a good mystery is like.  Try it, I bet you'll like it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder

Her little sister has the wasting disease.  Can she save her?

Antheneum Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 8th, so make a note to pick it up then.

This is a mystical, magic fantasy story that pulled me right into the middle of this world and the lives of the child and sprite that were involved.  The village is poor but it's enough for them.  Generations have grown up here and everyone was fine.  But something has changed...

All of the humanity crowding in made the sprites move to another location.  This alone wouldn't have hurt anything, but one twin was left behind.  She fell from the tree she was in and lost her locket which had magical abilities.  When she's alone and can't follow her sister, she grieves and turns into a bad thing.  She poisons the water, dams it up, and makes everything a swamp.  She doesn't care about the humans.  She doesn't even care about herself.  The black water gives everyone who gets in it the wasting disease.  She's so wicked she doesn't even want to hear a little girl laughing and slaps her with the water.  That's why the little one is dying.

Luna finds that traditional medicine won't help.  Her mother and grandmother have resigned themselves to the young one's death but Luna won't give up.  If she can't help her with a doctor, then she's going to do her best to use magic.

Ms. Crowder has created a great young female character with Luna.  She's smart, strong-willed, and loves her sister unconditionally.  She also feels great guilt that she got sick and wishes she could trade her places.  I really liked her as a character.  I also like the way the author portrayed the village.  You feel like you're living there.

The motivating factor in both the sprite's life and Luna's life was love.  Love can lift you up, bring you down, and even destroy you, but never give up on love.  Just look how this story turned out...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Boys of Fire and Ash by Meaghan McIsaac

They live in a pit full of garbage, fire and smoke and they have pledged themselves to the brotherhood.  They raise their little brothers, protect each other, and hunt to feed themselves.  They don't have much but their freedom.  And no one what happens when the older ones leave the pit and go into the forest.  They do know they don't come back...

Delacorte Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published May 12th, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is a fantasy world but the main factor that has torn people apart is religion.  The women are serene and believe in the Blessed One.  The men have created their own tower, have goblins for protection and believe in the Beginning.  Anyone who doesn't is killed.

The boys believe they are abandoned by their mothers and hate them.  But when the goblins steal his little brother, Urgle is going after him.  He doesn't know anything about the forest or the lands beyond the pit but he can follow a trail.  He has no idea what he's getting into but he'll find out soon enough.

This is a sad tale in many ways.  Urgle is called useless by his peers.  Cubby is imprisoned in the tower.  Rescue looks hopeless but Urgle will not give up on his brother.  He has friends to help but they are just boys like him.  He gets the man that came into camp to evade the goblins to lead him to the tower, but that's all he's going to do.  That man has secrets, too.

This is lot like a dystopian tale and the world Ms. McIsaac has created is not a easy world to live in.  I believe there will be more in this series.  I'll be waiting to see.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Art of Falling by Julie Jarnagin

Heather is looking for someone to emcee her fundraiser.  When she finds out Wyatt is staying with his Mom and available, she asks him.  He says no.  Then his mother and Heather convince him to say yes.

Red Bud Press sent an ebook to read for review (thank you).  You can purchase the book now at Amazon.

Heather is an events coordinator and when Wyatt's mom drags him to the local museum and they just happen to run into each other, it's no accident.  His mother is match-making.  Wyatt isn't interested in a woman.  He's a bullrider, going for a championship and he has no time for relationships.  Heather isn't looking for a man either.  Her brother killed himself doing base jumping and her boyfriend ditched her after the funeral, so why get involved with men.  She'll just stay alone and stay safe.  When these two philosophies collided, sparks fly.

It doesn't take long until they both realize they have feelings for each other.  Heather is the one having the most trouble trying to move past her barriers but Wyatt still wants to ride bulls.  It takes a bit of give and take from both of them to make their relationship work but they're willing to try.  Of course, mom and nana had something to do with that.

This was a fun casual read that has just a touch of romance and doesn't take long to read.  I like stories like this one.  Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Triss is just not feeling right.  She's been ill but this isn't sickness really.  It's just that things are a bit off and don't seem familiar.  It doesn't help when her dolls start talking to her...

Amulet Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It was published May 12th, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This story has the flavor of a Stephen King or Ray Bradbury novel.  There's evil, magic, and meanness in this story.  There's also a specially conjured "person" that has more moral rightness than the humans.  I started the story with a "Where is this going?" thought and at the end it was "Just where it should."  It's a horror story that scares, but good triumphs over evil.

Triss is not human.  She's been made by a "man" that lives in the Besider's world and makes dolls.  She find that pieces of the real Triss' diary have been part of her making and that's what gives her memories.  Triss has no friends.  Her (human) sister hates her and is scared of her.  She's going to find the real Triss and save her.  The problem is that she has a limited life and may not live long enough to do that.

There is plenty of excitement, lots of scary moments, and it makes you sit on the edge of your seat while you read it.  The best part to me is watching the two girls work together towards saving the real Triss and seeing how they gradually become friends.

The ending is a bit hairy, but it settles several issues and winds up things neatly.  Ms. Hardinge does a nice job with a creepy story that will stick with you for a while.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey

I don't usually read non-fiction but this story intrigued me.  I'm glad I read it because this is story that needs to be told.  Humans are not expendable.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  It has been published by Broadway Books, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

The tale begins with a history of the companies attempting to build this state of the art system for the wastewater treatment plant.  The goal was to move treated effluent from the plant out into the ocean to be mixed with sea water.  That meant a tunnel must be dug under the sea to transport the water out there.

There were lots of companies, many with different skills, that worked on various stages of the project.  They are way behind on the completion schedule and are trying to work faster all the time.  Part of the problem that is forming comes from discontinuity, rush work, and using brand new concepts.

The men who are working deep in the tunnel are hot shot divers with lots of experience.  They have no idea they are guinea pigs for a process that has never been used with humans before.  Nor did they know the gases they were breathing were not meant for human consumption.  They had some qualms about doing the job, but there was only a day or two left and the money was good.  When disaster strikes, not all of them get out alive.

Mr. Swidey reports on the findings, the potential court cases, and the outrage about how it turned out.  I personally found it hard to read about an engineer who cared so little about his men.  His attitude reeks of  "Yeah, they died.  So what?"  

It's a sad read that gives you an insight into how those who place themselves in danger all time are different than normal people.  They don't normally have the kind of marriage most men do.  They love what they do and do it well.  How the survivors in this story carry on afterwards and how few of the charges stick is a bit depressing.  It is what large corporations and governmental units do, though. 

I've worked in government and this still disgusts me.  If you're not familiar with it, this will be a real eye opener for you.  It should never happened.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Find Momo Coast to Coast by Andrew Knapp

This is the second Momo book I've read and I love them.  Momo is a border collie and is the prettiest dog.  My first dog was the same and I have a special place for them in my heart.  This time, Mr. Knapp is taking Momo on a trip and hiding him around monuments and the like.

Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  This was just published May 12th, so you can grab a copy now.  You might want to get the first book, too.  It's a kick in the butt to search the photos for that little black and white dog who knows how to hide.

It's like playing hide and seek when you were a kid.  Momo is really good at only showing a small part of his body so you have to look real hard when you're looking at distance pictures or busy pictures.

I've spent part of my life watching animals and searching for them when we're driving around.  I also subscribed to a photography magazine way back that gave you pictures and you had to guess what it was.  I do better at hidden animals but I've learned to relax and just look.  Don't center on finding; just look until you find what doesn't fit.  It might be eyes, the white of an ear, or a nose.  Momo is hard to find when he hides in rocks.

I was pleased to see they went through town here and visited White Sands National Monument.  I was breathless to see actual white sand on my first visit here.  It still is like a wonder of the world to me.  Momo has a bit of  a harder time trying to hide his black fur in this setting.

See if you can find Momo and see if they happened to travel through your territory.  I recognized quite a few places because we've traveled, too.  How many do you recognize?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook edited by Kate White

A collection of recipes from established mystery writers with little stories from them about where they came from?  How could a mystery reader like myself not review this one?

Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so grab a copy now at your local bookstore.

This book is filled with recipes from easy to complex.  There are flavorful gatherings of spices and ingredients that I've never used.  The authors are sure to tell you if you get a bit or less of one ingredient in there, it won't matter.  They also tell you when you must be most precise.  They cover every type of food and drink.  If you enjoy cooking, you'll have a lot of fun with these recipes.

I've picked a few to share with you.  They are recipes that sound real good to me and they are easy to cook.  (One of my requirements.  If you get too many types of spices or too many food items, it puts me off.)

Nelson DeMille offers Male Chauvenist Pigs in the Blanket.  If that recipe name doesn't make you smile, the real change in ingredients here is a can of beer and chili powder.  Sounds intriguing to me.

Next one up is Sue Grafton.  She does Kinsey Millhone's Famous Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich.  That whole idea has made me shudder for ages (I've read all the books).  When I found out the pickles were bread and butter pickles, it changed the whole picture.  Still sounds a bit strange, but I like them on ham and would try peanut butter.  At least once...

Hallie Ephron offers Simplest Ever Potato Pancakes.  They've always sounded good and these appear to be easy to make.  I might actually do this!

Joseph Finder's Doreen's Apple Crumble is European and has no rolled oats in it.  It sounds and looks delicious.  The recipe sounds a lot better than what I've eaten in the past.  I'll have to try this.

My favorite recipe though is Lee Child's.  He offers:  Coffee, Pot of One.  He not only tells you how to make it, he tells you what kind of cup to drink it out of.  He's definitely a coffee addict.

It's fun to read, has good recipes and it feels like visiting old friends.  What more could you want?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Orient by Christopher Bollen


He's a young man trying to find his future.  He was given up for adoption, has been in foster homes, and he's hoping the east side of the states can show him more than the west side did.  When he has an opportunity to stay at the family home in Orient with Paul and work for his room and board, it sounds like a deal to good to be true.  It was...

Harper sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It is being published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

He has an adopted name, has been on the run, and isn't sure just what Paul wants.  Since he's found that he himself has a preference for me, that's not what troubles him.  Or at least it's not the most important thing.  Paul seems to be a calming influence on him and supports him when murders suddenly come to light and the cops are on his case.  After all, he's the only stranger on the island area and no one knows him.  Being innocent is no good if you can't prove it.

Mills find an unlikely alliance with Beth, a pregnant neighbor.  She doesn't think he's a murderer and is willing to be his mode of transportation as well as a brainstorming partner.

None of the relationships in the Orient area are stable.  I've never seen such a bunch of dysfunctional folks in my life.  Some, but not the whole community!  When you take the mix of people and add in idiosyncrasies of some, it turns into a real circus.

This is a long book.  Almost too long.  But I read it in two days and never got the least bit bored.  Mr. Bollen keeps the story rolling along and keeps scaring me as characters die.  The ending is surprising and most fitting.  No one who lives in the island community comes out unscathed.  I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Devil's Music (Emory Crawford Mysteries #1) by Pearl R. Meaker

Emory is only there to play some music and sing with her husband later that night.  He worked at the university, but she didn't.  They ended up sitting with the main event:  an acclaimed scholar with a new book out.  She's not fond of him.  He's too full of himself.  But she didn't dislike him enough to kill him.

Goddess Fish Blog Tours and the author allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published May 1st, so you can grab a copy now.  Here's a link to her website and the book:  The Devil's Music

This is a cozy mystery with Emory mimicking Miss Marple.  She decides she's not an important person, she can probably ask questions without being threatening and she might even learn something important.  What she learns is that asking questions is dangerous. When her first suspect is the next murder victim, she's shaken.  How could she be so wrong?  One thing she knows:  She better be more careful.

I found the addition of psychic powers a bit unneeded.  It's an interesting touch but it really didn't add to the story.  It takes old fashioned detective work to find the killer.  I did enjoy the herbal things shared and the tales of the devil in the past.  It was easy to see the devil's work in this story.

All in all, it was a good first cozy mystery and I look forward to seeing more of Emory.

Pearl will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Enter HERE.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found  HERE.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

She's moved back home to get away from her philandering husband and start a new life.  Her specialty is baking.  And she knows just what flavor people need...

The Berkley Publishing Group sent me an ARC of this book to review (thank you).  It will be published June 2nd.  

Neely settles right in and begins creating her rainbow cakes and cookies, as well as doing wedding cakes.  Her secret to success is the fact that she gets flavors from the people she's doing the baking for.  She can tell if they are afraid, happy, sad, like sweet or sour, and more by just visiting with them.  She picks a cake for them in appropriate flavors and lets them test cupcakes to pick the one they like the best. The only problem is that knowing how they feel doesn't mean she can fix them.  

This story is a mix of past history and present day.  Wrongs from long ago never go away.  Some secrets are best disclosed early in a relationship.  And Neely has enough problems trying to make her husband stay out of her new life.  She's not quite sure she's done with him, but she thinks she is.

It's interesting to watch how all the lives in the past come back to intersect in the present.  Neely is finally coming into her own.  She does save some people.  I'd read more about her.  She has more growing and helping to do in her life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blanche Cleans Up: A Blanche White Mystery by Barbara Neely

If Blanche was as good at keeping out of trouble as she was at cleaning up, she'd be better off.  But I wouldn't change her.  Her sneaky ways can help solve murder cases and she has a good way of finding out information the cops never would.

Brash Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review.  It was published May 5th, so you can find a copy now.

Blanche is filling in.  One of her relatives is going on vacation for the first time in eighteen years and Blanche is asked to take her place.  How did she know that the Mister of the household would declare his candidacy for Governor that week?  Or that people who visited or lived in the household would be murdered?  Or that even Blanche herself would be threatened?

Blanche has enough of her own problems without more.  Her sister's children that she's raising and loves dearly are getting to teen years and the troubles that come with them.  She's got another relative staying with her temporarily and that young teen is pregnant.  She still wonders about Leo, who's married to someone else.  And she's always worrying about how she reacts to things.  She doesn't want to be like her mother.  She wants to be a kind, good mother.  Easier to say than to do.

This story is a mish-mash of sex, politics, environmental hazards and power with damage control being an important part of the politician's game.  If some folks get killed along way, so what?

One thing I can say is that Blanche has seen it all.  She's a bit scandalized here and there but she takes it all in stride and stoically doesn't show it on her face.  Ms. Neely has made a very interesting character who makes housecleaning life threatening.  I wonder where Blanche will end up next.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Behind the Walls by Elaine Orr


Jolie has a new house.  It has withstood Hurricane Sandy and has some things that need to be repaired and remodeled but it's hers.  She doesn't have to live with her Aunt and Uncle anymore.  What is does is plunk her in the middle of an even bigger problem...

Ms. Orr sent me a copy of her book to read for review (thank you).  You can buy a copy on Amazon in ebook, print, or audio.

This is a cozy mystery that lots of small town characters in it.  There's Max, who isn't quite right.  Scoobie is a good younger friend who actually can anticipate how things make her feel.  He's also ready to protect her if she needs it.  She has George, who she broke up with and isn't sure she wants to revive that relationship.  She also has her Aunt and Uncle (Aunt Madge is bit of a control freak and is always butting in) and her animals.  She also has a personal relationship with the cops, but she's not sure that's a positive thing.

One of my favorite parts of this novel is the skunk.  It comes in the back door one day and never leaves.  It seems her cat got used to her Aunt's dogs so the skunk is good company for her now that they've moved.  Everybody in town knows the skunk because it used to belong to the previous owner so she's soon a celebrity whether she meant to be or not.

The trouble all starts when they are working on a wall that had a mold problem.  They're checking to make sure it has been conquered.  When they find a pouch behind it, it turns out there are diamonds and jewelry in it.  Whose was it and why was it there?

Before the story is over, there are two people dead, everyone thinks the jewels should be theirs, and Jolie is having a hard time staying alive.

This was a very good mystery.  It has a good plot, lots of actions, and the quirky actions of the characters are amusing.  Most all of them are good people, just a bit odd is all.  Sounds like every small town I've been in.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dark Screams: Volume Three by Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Jacquelyn Frank

Here's another creepy anthology for you.  My favorite mode of reading is short stories, so any anthology draws me in.  Horror anthologies are the most intriguing, though.

Hydra Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published tomorrow, so you can grab a copy then.

The following stories are included:

THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF FREDDIE PROTHERO by Peter Straub
A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.

GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he's got nothing to lose. He couldn't be more wrong.

NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she's adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.

I LOVE YOU, CHARLIE PEARSON by Jacquelyn Frank
Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.

THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY by Brian Hodge
When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it's tonic or toxic is another matter.


Only two of these authors were familiar to me; the others were all new reads.  All the stories are worthwhile and Ms. Frank's shocked me.  My favorite, though, was Nancy by Darynda Jones.  She added a ghost to her story but the new girl should be more worried about the living than the dead.

The stories are varied and interesting.  You never know exactly what you'll find in these collections and that's part of why I read them.  Every now and then I find a real treasure or find a new author I want to read more of.  Why not read it and see if that happens to you?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery by Lawrence H. Levy

Mary Handley is everything she shouldn't be in the times she lives.  She's outspoken, smart, has her own opinions and has quick comebacks for anyone who dares put her down.  Her mother is despairing.  How will she ever find a husband acting like that?  Who said Mary wanted a husband?

Broadway Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 9th.

Mary has been fired from her job at the factory because she wouldn't kowtow to the lady manager.  She hated the job, but needed the money.  When her good friend up above her in the apartments announcing she's getting married, Mary is happy for her.  The happiness is short-lived because the potential husband is shot and killed.  When Mary goes to check out the crime scene, she argues with the old cop there that it is NOT suicide.  The police chief asks her why; she explains.  The coroner agrees with her. The chief is impressed but he can't hire a woman.

There's a problem, though.  Women are protesting and the chief's supervisors tell him to put a woman on the case.  That should quiet them down.  They don't care if she's wrong, hurt or killed.  They just want to stop the protesting. Mary knows she working against all odds, but she's also facing her dream and she's going to do her best.

The author mixed in fact as well as fiction and there are some big names in this story:  J P Morgan, Edison, and Tesla.  They are competing with each other and are willing to steal or, in some cases, kill to get what they want.

There's a bit everything in this tale, all pertaining to the late 1800's.    Mr. Levy takes Mary through every emotion she's ever had, things are twisted and perverted, and her friends desert her, and he still keeps her standing strong.

This was an interesting read  I wasn't sure about having so many famous characters it it, but Mr. Levy makes them human and fallible as well as exposing their true characters.  It added to the story.  So does the bit of history that is shown at the back.  Not all of this story is fiction.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dead Rapunzel by Victoria Houston


She's thrilled.  She has managed to acquire a few Georgia O'Keefe pieces for her new museum she will be building.  She calls her friend and leaves a message, walks out of the restaurant to cross the street when it's clear, and someone pushes her in front of a loaded log truck coming through town.  It's icy and cold and there's no way the truck driver can stop.  She won't be worrying about anything any more.

Tyrus Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published May 1st, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

I hadn't read anything by Ms. Houston before but she's a very good author.  The book is not overly long but there's lots of detail and a very bad person at the core of this mystery.  At one point I sat there with my mouth open because I couldn't believe what had just happened!

Lew is the police chief in town and her boyfriend, the retired dentist, is unofficially her partner on her cases.  She believes the truck driver when he says the woman was pushed.  Especially since there was a witness to an old man running in the area at the time of the accident.  And it gets even more certain it was foul play when the witness is found dead.

Most of the stepchildren hated their new stepmom so no one was sad when she died.  However, they soon got sad when they found out she had left all their father's money in a trust for the museum he wanted to build.  Even with her gone, there wasn't the money they thought they'd get.  It seemed those so rabid about the money could have been the killer but it was more complicated than that.

It reads fast and has lots of action.  I like the main characters and how they love each other, and some of the folks who live in the community are a bit crazy, but they're fun to read about.  All in all, it was a very good mystery and I really like the ending.  Justice was served by the Man above. It seemed fitting.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Twice a Texas Bride by Linda Broday

She's hiding from a killer.  He's just bought a run down ranch that he hopes to turn into a home.  When he finds her and the boy hiding in the shed, he invites them in the house.  It's not in great shape, but it's warmer than the shed...

Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published May 5th, so you can grab a copy now.

Rand was dumped in an orphanage as a young boy and he's had bad luck with women ever since.  He even got left at the altar once.  Now he's determined to be a bachelor and live happily ever after on his ranch.

Callie knows you can trust no man.  Her first boyfriend got her pregnant and left her.  Her second suitor left her, too.  Her stepfather stole her baby from her.  Her brother-in-law is an outlaw and has killed her sister.  Now he wants his son but Callie is determined to keep her nephew safe from him.  She'll even defend him to her death.

The outlaw after Callie is mean to the core.  He was teaching his son how to kill things and how to con people before she interceded.  The only way he's going to be stopped is by killing him.  So Callie learns how to shoot to protect herself and her nephew.

Rand and Callie would both like to trust each other and make their relationship more permanent, but neither one can do that yet.  What makes this story a bit more unusual than typical romance tales is the fact that they begin to build a family by adopting a baby who has lost both parents and is half-Indian.  They get married to do so but still maintain a hands off relationship.  When their family is under threat by the outlaw and his brothers, Rand's "brothers" (other boys from the orphanage) gather 'round to help. The outlaw is determined but so are Callie and Rand.  It wasn't until the very end that you knew who the last man standing would be.  

This is a good story with strong characters and beliefs.  I enjoyed the young nephew's joy and excitement about the ranch.  This is one of a series of three.  The older brother got married in the first one.  I expect the younger brother will be finding a mate in the next book.  I'd love to read that one, too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

His grandfather is dying and he doesn't want that to happen.  If it does, he'll be stuck with his crabby old great aunt.  There's nothing he can do to stop it though.  Or is there?

Dial Books and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 2nd, so be sure to make a note to pick it up then.

This book has magic in it.  There's the magic of an old man and his grandson who share life and love and have fun.  There's Circus Mirandus that doesn't stay in one place and offers extraordinary tours to those who have an imagination and believe in magic.  (Not everyone does, you know.)

Grandpa has a long forgotten wish that he received when he visited the circus as a child.  He sends a note to the Lightbender telling him he wants to collect his promise now.  But when he asks, he's told no.  So it's up to Micah to find the circus and change the Lightbender's mind.  Micah doesn't know the whole story, though...

This tale twists and ties and weaves itself into magic with a touch of other worldly power.  Micah makes a good friend while he tries to negotiate a deal for his grandfather.  His grandfather is a good, wise man, and he asks for the perfect wish.  It wasn't what Micah was expecting and it wasn't what I was expecting either.

One thing I know, if this circus ends up in town, I'm going to go visit.  I believe in magic...