Monday, December 2, 2013

Foul Play at the Fair

Foul Play at the Fair is the first installment in the Celebration Bay Mystery series by Shelley Freydont.  I like the premise and the idea of the main characters, but they were not well defined and there was too much mystery about them even at the end of the book.  As an example, Chaz (who may end up being the boyfriend) is a complete mystery.  He used to work for a major newspaper as an investigative reporter, but now he's back in Celebration Bay running the family newspaper and fishing.

The mystery was solid and kept me guessing until the end.  Set in a small town in upstate New York, Celebration Bay is known for the festivals that keep the tourists coming back year in and year out.  Liv has just accepted the job of event planner for the festivals, and is still very much an outsider.  She wants to prove to the natives that she is up to the job.  

Just days before the Fall/Halloween festival is set to begin a dead body turns up in the cider press at one of the farms.  Liv sets out to solve the murder so the festival will not suffer and then the town will keep her in the position of event planner. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House is disturbing, amazing, enlightening, and depressing all at the same time and I highly recommend it to anyone who reads or listens to books.  Think The Help characters before emancipation. 

Told through the eyes of Belle and Lavinia, it spans twenty years.  

In 1791 Lavinia arrives from Ireland, both of her parents died during the crossing and seven year old Lavinia becomes an indentured servant to the ship's Captain, a man who also owns a plantation and slaves.  The Captain seems oblivious to how the slaves are treated by the cruel overseer, as his only contact is with the kitchen slaves.  

Lavinia is given into the care of Belle and Mamma Mae, but Lavinia lives with Belle.  Belle, although born a slave, is also the daughter of the Captain.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Every Trick in the Book by Lucy Arlington

Every Trick in the Book is the second installment in the Novel Idea cozy mystery series.  In this outing, the Novel Idea Literary Agency is sponsoring a festival where fledgling writers can meet with the agents to pitch books and attend seminars to learn what it takes to be a successful author. 

On the first morning of the festival, Lila Wilkins (our mystery solver and main character) meets Melissa Blume, an editor from New York, who could be Lila's twin.  When Melissa is murdered, Lila sets out to find out what happened. 

The first installment in this series is not as entertaining as the first book, Buried in a Book, but it was entertaining and I am liking the minor characters.  Although the murderer is known to the reader early on in the book, the reason why will keep you guessing especially after a second woman is killed.   I look forward to the next installment. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Potion to Die For by Heather Blake

I'm just a little envious of Heather's Blake real life friends, because she must be a real kick to hang around.  I mean anyone who can make up characters like Carly Bell Hartwell, her over-the-top quirky family, hunky ex-fiance' cop, and her married to the town minister best friend, must be able to find the fun no matter what the circumstances. 

Carly is the owner of a magic potion shop in Hitching Post, Alabama.  When Carly find a local lawyer dead on the floor of her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from being a popular town healer to suspect number one in the minds of the town folk.  As she works her way through all the clues and suspects, she finds that she may not be over the broken engagement and that Dylan may be back in town to take up where they left off. 

Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber) is one of my favorite cozy mystery writers.  I'm pretty sure I've read all her books; starting with Nina Quinn, landscaper extraordinaire (admittedly my favorite), Lucy Valentine, matchmaker and finder of lost objects (and people), and Darcy Merriweather, with her newly discovered talent of wishcrafting.  They are all well written and you just never know who the culprit is until Heather is wrapping up the story.   

The Magic Potion Mysteries are definitely going on my TBR list and if you like cozies, you're going to love Heather.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Reckless Engineer by Jac Wright

I was given an advanced e-book copy of The Reckless Engineer by the author and asked to honestly post a review.  Before I do that, I have a small rant.

What the feck is up with people posting negative reviews of books they haven't read, because they don't like the subject matter, characters, and/or the author?  Are you twelve?  Did the mean girls in high school pee in your cornflakes?  Did your parent forget to teach you common decency?  Seriously people, it's embarrassing.

Okay, I feel better.  Now on to my review. 

The Reckless Engineer is the story of Jack Conner, the cheating husband of Caitlin McAllen, the only daughter of a very wealthy Scottish oilman.  The story opens with Jack's phone call to Jeremy Stone because Jack has been arrested for murdering his current mistress, Michelle, and Jack needs a solicitor.  Jeremy is not an attorney, but he shares a suite of offices (and receptionist) with Harry Stavers, solicitor for the rich and famous and Jeremy's best friend from college

As Harry works on Jack's defense, Jeremy investigates what happened and tries to untangle the mess Jack has put himself and his family in by having multiple affairs with women at work. The action follows Jeremy to the McAllen English estate and Scotland where Caitlin's family still lives and works.

The premise of the book is very interesting and the mystery is solid.  Jeremy who is an engineer by trade, attempts to find the murderer before Jack is convicted and sent to prison.  Jeremy is also trying to keep his engineering firm solvent, reconcile with his ex-wife, be loyal to Jack's ex-wife and his current wife, and keep a good working relationship with the McAllens, who have hired him to run the company in Jack's absence.

The mystery is good, but the engineering stuff was over my head and not as interesting to me as a good murder mystery.  I could do without Jeremy's attempts to reconcile with the ex-wife, in fact, I could have done without that part of the book, because I thought it didn't fit well with the whole premise of the book.   Of course, as this is the first installment in a series, I feel sure that the relationships will be fleshed out and the reader will learn much more about Jeremy's relationship with his ex and why he is having such a hard time letting go. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Swift Justice by Laura DiSilverio

Swift Justice is the first in the Swift series about former air force investigator turned  P.I. Charlie Swift.  Charlie has a small private investigation firm with a silent financial partner.  When her wealthy, silent partner leaves his socialite wife, Gigi shows up ready to work.  Unfortunately for Charlie, Gigi knows nothing about investigation and is a bit of a klutz.  

I love Laura DiSilverio's series (there are two).  Her characters are funny, quirky (but not too quirky), and end up solving the mysteries, sometimes in spite of themselves.  Usually I can solve the crime before the middle of the book, but this one kept me guessing until the last couple of chapters. 

Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis

This is the fourth book in the six book (for now) Lucky Harbor series and I thought it was so much better than the last one (number six) I read.  This is Mallory's story.

Mallory Quinn is a nurse at the Lucky Harbor hospital and she wants to start free clinic for those in need.  She is the town good girl (although I'm sure there must be more than one).  One evening she joins her friend Amy at the diner for chocolate cake.  There is a freak ferocious windy and snowstorm, which causes a tree to fall on the diner, thereby knocking out the power and several windows.  Amy and Mallory are hiding with their soon to be third best friend, Grace, behind the counter, when Mallory hears a noise at the door and goes to investigate.  Caught in the branches of the fallen tree, is Ty (quintessential bad boy/Mr. Wrong), the Mysterious Cute Guy, new to the town. 

Ty is an ex-Navy Seal recovering from a catastrophic injury suffered when the plane (or it could have been a helicopter, I forget) his team was riding in crashed over the ocean.  Ty was the only survivor.  Now he is banged up once again.  Mallory etal,  rescue him and get him in the ambulance, where he is taken to the hospital and patched up again. 

The next time we see Ty is at the auction to benefit the free clinic, he is supposed to be Mallory's date, but he does not remember what happened during the storm.  Unfortunately, the whole is expecting him to be Mallory's date.  Will they, won't they, you be the judge.  Will Ty go back to the Seals?  Will Mallory's clinic be a success or a failure?  

Monday, May 27, 2013

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

I recommend this book to everyone, I could barely put it down. 

Emily is a motivated take-charge book editor when she meets Sandy Portman.  Sandy is a rich, good looking, successful businessman when they meet and after a few dates he dares Emily to fall in love with him.  They marry and are blissfully happy until one snowy evening Sandy goes to pick up Emily at the animal shelter where she is a volunteer.  Unfortunately for Sandy he does not get the message that the shelter is closed because of the snowstorm and Emily is not there.  Even worse, as he gets out of the hired car a scruffy little white dog darts in front of a taxi, causing the taxi driver to go out of control and Sandy is smashed between two cars and killed. 

After the funeral, Emily finds that Sandy had never changed the ownership of the Dakota apartment to her name and Emily is notified by his bitch (can I say that?) of a mother that Emily is being evicted.  While trying to put her life back together, Emily finds out things about Sandy that make her question her own convictions and with Einstein, her newly adopted, scruffy little dog, she tries to understand who Sandy was and why she didn't know. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette

Cute new cozy series, the ex-boyfriend is an ass, and the main character is funny, quirky (but not too quirky), and she talks too much for her own good. 

This new series is based on Hayley Snow, who lives on a small houseboat with her friend from college.  Haley moved to Key West after a whirlwind romance with  Chad and taking him up on his offer to move in with him.  Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately because Chad is a real piece of work) eight weeks after Hayley moves down to Florida she returns home to find him in bed with Kristen Faulkner. 

While Hayley is waiting to hear about a job as a food critic, Kristen is murdered and Hayley is the prime POI. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Three Fates by Nora Roberts

I'll be back later to tell you about this book. 

First of all I liked this book much better than the average Nora Roberts book, but not as much as I liked The Witness. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Little Shop of Homicide by Denise Swanson

Devereaux Sinclair returned to her hometown after she quit her job and right before her boss was arrested in a Ponzi like scheme.  She bought the local dime store and makes extra money making themed gift baskets. She's also acting as caregiver to her feisty grandmother who just may be in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's or she may just be faking to get her beloved granddaughter home.

When Devereaux's ex-boyfriend's fiancee is murdered in a bizarre manner, Devereaux becomes the prime suspect, and the investigating detective wants to take her down, mainly because he lost money in the Ponzi scheme.

I liked the series, but I found the names of the characters overdone.  Maybe it's just me, but what's wrong with a name you can remember.  

Corpse in the Crystal Ball by Kari Lee Townsend

Everything is going well for Sunny Meadows.  She's been cleared of the murder charge, Detective Mitch Stone is looking like a maybe in the romance department, the town in welcoming her with open arms, and her parents have gone back to NYC.   And then Mitch's ex-girlfriend, Isabel, shows up in town.  Beautiful, smart, and obviously wanting to get Mitch back.  Unfortunately, in no time at all she's dead and Mitch is the primary suspect. 

Suspended from his job, Mitch vows to investigate on his own.  The police department has other plans, they ask Sunny to look into the death and clear Mitch, if he can be cleared. 

Kari Lee Townsend's fortune teller series is one of my new favorite series.  The characters are funny, real, and  just the right amount of quirky.  If you like cozy mysteries, I recommend this one. 

Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

Forever and a Day is the sixth installment in the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis.  I read the first four and they were entertaining, but they all really have the same plot.  However, the characters are likable and I am easily entertained.  Plus it was only $3.50 at B& for my Nook.  My Nook just loves cheap books. 

I read the first book because it was based in Lucky Harbor, Washington, a mythical city where all the men are 6' 4" gods with six pack abs and probably able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  I read the next two books because I wanted to see what happened to the other two sisters, then I read the next two because I'm still trying to figure out where this town is and why I'm not living there.

And so it goes. 

Grace left her job at a financial institution after her boss made a pass.  She started driving and ended up in Lucky Harbor, where she decided she just wanted to have fun jobs for awhile. Barely able to make ends meet, she takes a job as a dog walker for Doctor Josh Scott, a single father of a five year old son, and guardian for his paraplegic 21 year old cranky pants sister.   Grace ends up babysitting  for the son, looking out for the sister, and making Josh Scott re-evaluate what he wants out of life. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber

What a bunch of whiny, indecisive women.  I wanted to reach through the pages and slap the childishness out of Annie, the daughter of Bethanne, granddaughter of Ruth.  Then I wanted to shake Debbie Macomber for turning her characters in 1950s caricatures of women.  

I've read most of the Blossom Street books, mostly because they are yarn shop based, easy-to-read (and put down), and there was always a knitting pattern included.  However, in this installment there was no yarn shop, no knitting pattern, and I couldn't wait to be down reading. 

It starts pretty good.  Ruth has decided to drive from Seattle to Florida to attend her 50th class and see her high school boyfriend. She runs into her ex-daughter-in-law Bethanne (from the first Blossom Street book) at an outdoor restaurant and Bethanne, who is now a successful party planner/entrepreneur, and Bethanne volunteers to drive with her.  Then Annie, Bethanne's college educated daughter's boyfriend goes off to Europe suddenly with two friends and leaves her home, so Annie decides to tag along.  Unfortunately for Bethanne, and also us readers, Annie's sole purpose in life is to get her parents back together, even though Grant (the ex and Ruth's son) left Bethanne and the children for another woman, married her, and then after they divorced he decided he wanted the now successful Bethanne back. 

The first day on the road Annie decides to change all of Ruth's plans and drive to Florida through Tigard, Oregon, where Grant was born.  In the diner of a long ago friend of Ruth's they meet a group of bikers.  The next day their rental car breaks down at a lake and here come the bikers to help them.  One of the bikers is Max and he and Bethanne are soon connecting, much to the chagrin of Annie and Grant, who Annie keeps informed of every little move Bethanne makes. 

So now Bethanne must make a decision and it only takes her 400 pages.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pleating for Mercy by Melissa Bourbon

Pleating for Mercy is the story of descendants of Butch Cassidy, all of whom have a special power.  For instance, Harlow's grandmother is a goat whisper and her mother can make plants grow and grow and grow and grow.  Harlow, on the other hand, has not yet found her talent. 

A designer in New York, Harlow moves home to Bliss, Texas, when her great-grandmother dies and leaves her home to Harlow.  She takes it as a sign that this is the time for her to open a design studio.  Her first customer is a childhood friend whose wedding is in two week and the bridal shop where she ordered her dress has packed up and left town, taking her money with them. 

The bride and bridesmaid come for their fittings and before Harlow can even start to sew, one of the bridesmaids is murdered out by Harlow's front gate.   The bride is one of the prime suspects and Harlow takes it upon herself to try to sort out what happened. 

Of course there is a hint of the romance that may blossom in future episode and Harlow discovers her hidden talent. 

This is a great start for a new cozy series.  The cast of characters are fun and interesting.  There's a little bit of SW history thrown in to the mix.  I'm looking forward to picking up books two and three. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Root of all Trouble by Heather Webber

I read all of the Nina Quinn series years ago and was a little sad when Heather Webber (Blake) abandoned Nina to write other series. Even though I love all of Heather's characters, Nina was my favorite. Then, because good things come to those who wait (and stalk on Facebook), a new Nina Quinn showed up available for my Nook.

Nina Quinn is a master gardener who transforms yards while the owners are gone for the day. She hires ex-cons recommended by her parole officer cousin and they are all a loyal family. As a favor to her across the street friends, Nina plans to re-do their backyard until a tree falls down in a storm and a body falls out. Nina is sure that her cop ex-husband has arrested the wrong person and sets out to figure out the mystery.

Thrown into the mix is the new coroner who looks just like the first boy Nina liked, a boy whose whole family died in a small airplane crash when he was just 15. 

I recommend that you read all of this series in order. The characters are just that, characters and the mysteries are not that easy to solve.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay

Red Velvet Revenge is the fourth book in the cupcake bakery series and in this installment, they take the cupcakes on the road.

When Melanie and Angie get the opportunity to escape the heat of summer by selling their cupcakes at the Juniper Pass rodeo, they jump at the chance.  After retrofitting Oz's new cupcake van, Mel, Angie, Tate, Oz, and Marty accept the invitation of Slim Hazard to join his legendary annual rodeo.  The rodeo starts with a parade, where someone shoots Slim in the shoulder.  While the local sheriff is investigating what is thought to be a stray bullet, the rodeo star is found murdered. 

I really like this series.  The character are not perfect and act like real people,  I love that the author set this mystery "on the road", as I always question just how many murders and murderers can a small town harbor. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly

Kathleen Paulson is the head librarian at the Mayville Heights city library.  She has recently concluded supervising a complete rehab of the building and the library is thriving.   In between refurbishing the library, she and her cats solve murders, this is the third since she arrived in town.

In Cat Trick, Mike Glazer is back in town after a leaving Mayville when his brother died in a car accident.  Mike is the owner of a company that sells vacation packages and the town in hoping he will put Mayville on their list of places to see. When Kathleen stumbles upon Mike’s body in a demonstration tent on the boardwalk, she decides to do a little investigating of her own.  Unfortunately, Detective Marcus Gordon, would rather she stayed out of it and investigating on her own could jeopardize their almost relationship.

Kathleen does try to keep Marcus in the loop, but her two pushy magical cats sometimes make that very hard.

I like Sofie Kelly's books and quirky characters, I like cats, books, and 6' 4" good looking detectives.  I'm not all that fond of cats that talk to people and solve crimes.  I would like this series a bit more if there was less cat finding clues and more people interaction, but that's just me.   Still it's a really good cozy mystery. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Bride's House by Sandra Dallas

I love Sandra Dallas' books.  Not only do they entertain me, keep me interested, and make me not want to stop reading, they also make me want to learn more about the places, people, time periods, and items.  In The Bride's House, I found myself Googling Molybdenum at 1:00 a.m.  Maybe I'm the only one who has never heard of molybdenum, but if you don't know what it is, it makes steel more steely.  But I digress.

The Bride's House is the story of 16 year old Nealie Bent, who in 1880 runs away from an abusive father and ends up in the mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. Nealie loves being on her own and away from her father and is working and living  in a boarding house where her job is feeding the men who work in the mines.   At the boarding house Nealie meets, and is courted by two men; a miner named Charlie Dumas, and Will Spaulding, a young man sent by his wealthy grandfather to learn the business from the ground up.  '

Nealie's daughter, Pearl, falls in love with a young man who does not have the approval of her father.  He sabotages their plan to marry and sends Pearl's suitor away and lets Pearl think that he bought him off.  Pearl's relationship with her father flounders, but she is strong and when she gets a second chance at happiness, she jumps at it.

In 1950, 18 year old Susan is spending the summer at The Bride's House and falls in love with Joe. As time goes on she learns first hand of the strength of the women who came before her and the lies and secrets hidden at The Bride's House

Monday, April 1, 2013

Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington

I always like a mystery where the characters aren't 20 somethings (oh when did I get so old), and in this new series Lila Watkins (mystery solver) is 45, her soon to be love interest/cop is in his 50s, and they are both vital  and there's a spark almost immediately..

Lila is a survivor, on the day she gets laid off from her job at the local newspaper, she makes one phone call and gets a job as the intern for a small publishing company.  Unfortunately, on her first day at work a homeless man is found murdered in the lobby while Lila is out getting coffee.  Then her son and his friends drive her car onto the football field at the high school and wreck the car and the field.

So what does Lila do?  She decides to sell her house to pay for the damages and moves in with her mother the next day.  Say what?  Seriously? 

I think this could be a great series, but hopefully the next one will have more continuity and make more sense.  I want to like them, but these characters do really stupid things and aren't very believable. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

At Last by Jill Shalvis

At Last is the story of Matt, hunky park ranger, and Amy, the diner waitress, and reformed bad girl.  Amy was a "bad girl" because of life circumstances; an uncaring and absent mother, the loss of the grandmother who raised her until she was 12, and a step-father who tried to sexually assault her when she was 16.  Consequently, she was on her own from the time she was 16 and used what she could to survive.

Amy moved to Lucky Harbor and started her life over, she made a few good friends and avoided men like the plague.  She chose Lucky Harbor because she had discovered her grandma's old journal and wanted to retrace the path that her grandma and grandpa had hiked when they were very young.

The first hike goes terribly wrong and Amy gets lost.  She calls her friend, Maggie for help and Maggie sends Matt to rescue Amy.  Amy doesn't want help from any man, but they get stuck overnight together and Matt sets out to woo Amy.  However, Matt has his own issues and has trouble figuring out what he really wants too. 

I really like the Washington location and the storyline can be fun.  But when I finish the books I'm left thinking why can't there be a little more story.  I mean we have a very small harbor village, where all the men are 6'4", built, athletic, successful in their chosen careers, looking for a life partner, perfect houses, beyond excellent in bed, and massively handsome.  Really, where is this village? 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Carrie McClellan, a well established writer of historical fiction, go to Scotland to research and write her upcoming book on life in the 18th century.  Carrie names her character Sophia Patterson in honor of one of her little known ancestors and rents a cottage on the bluffs near Slains castle, where she retraces the life of Sophia, a distant relative of the Duchess of Slains, who has taken in Sophia after all of her family dies.

The Winter Sea tells two stories.  One is the story of Sophia Patterson and in the other the we learn of  the similarities between Carrie's life and the life of Sophia, because as Carrie researches she starts to remember things that could have happened to Sophia. 

It is obvious that Susanna Kearsley researches the locations, time periods, and people in her stories. The location in Scotland was richly described and I want to visit Slains castle and walk about the ruins.  I want to befriend Sophia and Kirstie and sit with them on the beach while the waves go in and out.  I want to sit in a pub with Stewart, Graham, and Carrie and talk about the rich history of the area.  I want to stay all night in the little cottage that Carrie rents from Jimmy Keith. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend

What a great cozy mystery!  The dialog reads like someone is actually speaking and the quirky characters are fun.

Tempest in the Tea Leaves takes place in Divinity, New York which is actually any small town USA.  Everyone knows everyone, everyone knows your business, and you can't get away with anything.  The books opens as 29 year old Sunshine Meadows packs up her on VW, moves out of her parent's penthouse in New York and, against their wishes, moves to upstate New York to open a fortune telling business in a haunted home she bought with her trust fund.  Needless to say, Sunny's lawyer mother and heart surgeon father do not approve of her lifestyle choices anymore than they approve of her changing her name from Sylvia to Sunshine.

Sunny's first customer is the town librarian.  While reading the tea leaves, Sunny tells the librarian that a man is going to murder her, and sends her on her way with some tea leaves to relax her.  She then calls the police to report the predicted murder, unfortunately she waits about 30 minutes to long and when the police detective arrives, the librarian is already dead, poisoned by the tea Sunny sent home.

Of course, Sunny is the number one suspect and, of course, the detective is good looking, and thinks Sunny is a flake and a murdered.  When the mayor tells the detective he must utilize Sunny's physic abilities to solve the crime, mayhem ensues.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Killer Read by Erika Chase

A Killer Read by Erika Chase is not my favorite book this year, in fact, the only thing I really liked about it is the mystery was not easy to solve.  The characters were likable, but it honestly just felt like an advertisement for all the other cozy mystery writers.  Interspersed in the plot were quotes by other cozy writers, titles of other cozy mysteries recommended by the characters, book lists for all the characters of current cozy mysteries, with a few Agatha Christie, Dan Brown, etc., books.  It was a real turn off for me.

A Killer Read is set in Ashton Corners, Alabama.  The Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straw Society is meeting at Molly Mathews old Southern manor when a stranger is discovered lurking in the foyer.  He says he came in to use the phone, because his car has broken down.  After he uses the phone, he leaves, then is found shot to death by the members as they are leaving.   About the same time as the murder, a manuscript starts showing up in the middle of the night at Lizzie Turner's house.

As the members of the ACMR&CSS try to solve the murder, they uncover long buried secrets from the past, which have to be solved along with figuring out why the stranger was at Molly's and where he fits in with the town.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Deal to Die For by Josie Belll

It's always fun to find a new series where the characters are not 25 years old.  You know, characters who are more like the people who are reading about them.  That's what Josie Bell, aka Jenn McKinlay and Lucy Lawrence, gives us in this series about a group of four women, who spend most of their free time looking for bargains.  

In A Deal to Die For, the second in the Good Buy Girls (get it) cozy mystery series, Maggie Gerber is just getting ready to open her new secondhand store right across from her arch nemesis, sleazy, man eater Summer Phillips. In order to stock up on merchandise, Maggie and the rest of the Good Buy Girls will be attending the local street fair where wealthy resident Vera Madison will be selling expensive vintage clothing.  When Vera ends up dead and a woman shows up and claims she is the rightful heir of Vera's home and property, Maggie and her friends set out to solve the mystery and ensure that Vera's daughter, Bianca, gets what should be rightfully hers.  

I like this series, but I would like to see a lot less of the interactions between Maggie and Summer.  We get it, they hate each other, let's move on to a healthy competition for customers and goods.  More mystery, more interactions with the group, and less mean girl fighting.  Make Summer a minor character and the series will be a lot more fun in the future.  Better yet, move her out of town. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva

Gabriel Allon is a famous art restorer working at the Vatican when a woman's body is discovered.  Was she pushed or did she kill herself?  Gabriel Allon is a retired spy and assassin from Israel. Gabriel is asked to investigate her death and sets out to do so in this thriller which I got from Audible for a bargain price.

I liked the story, but I think I would have liked it more if it had been a book that I could have skimmed back through to check a fact or character.  For a person who like thrillers with lot of people getting killed, this series is definitely something you would like.  For me, I like a little less gore as I'm driving to the store. 

All Sales Fatal by Laura DiSilverio

All Sales Fatal is the second installment in the Mall Cop Mystery series by Laura DiSilverio and it is on sale for Nook and Kindle for just $1.99.  The mall cop in the title is E. J. (Emma Joy) Ferris, decorated war hero recovering from a catastrophic knee injury she got in Afghanistan, daughter of a famous movie star father, and granddaughter of a (kind of retired) CIA agent, who is making time at the local mall while she waits for a police job to open up for her. 

E.J. finds a murdered teenage boy with gang affiliations outside the mall, unfortunately the security cameras in that area have been sabotaged.  Shortly thereafter her boss disappears and E.J. sets out to find out what happened.  Was it one of his three ex-wives?  Is something nefarious taking place in that corner of the mall and did the boss discover it or was her perhaps in on it? Will Detective Hellend ever treat her with the respect she deserves and is there a spark?  Will she find out who the cookie man really is and is there a spark?  Some of these question will be answered in this installment, but for some we'll just have to read Malled to Death

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wall-to-Wall Dead by Jennie Bentley

Wall-to-Wall Dead is the latest in the home remodeling cozy mystery by Jennie Bentley.  It is my least favorite of all Jennie Bentley's books, I usually really like them.  In this installment, Avery and Derek are remodeling a 1970's style condo and planning their wedding (can I get an ahhhhh?). 

The lady downstairs is a nosy old busybody, who never leaves the window overlooking the parking lot.  On their second day of working on the condo, Avery gets worried because Hilda Shaw (the aforementioned busybody) is not at her post.  Derek, Avery, and one of the neighbors break into the condo and find Hilda dead from what appears to be an allergic reaction. 

Avery immediately suspects foul play (although why I can't figure out) and sets out to solve the murder before it is even classified as a murder.  She again puts herself in danger by following and confronting people she suspects of being culpable.  Interestingly enough every person in the small complex had something to hide and I'm starting to get suspicious of every neighbor in every apartment where I ever lived. 

I look forward to the next book in the series, I just wish I'd liked this one more. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Die Buying by Laura DiSilverio and Bear

Die Buying is the story of a Emma Joy Ferris who was wounded in Iraq and after returning home the only job she is qualified for is as a mall cop.  She wants nothing more than to get a job in law enforcement, unfortunately her blown out knee keeps her from achieving her dream.

When she finds a naked, dead body in the window of a high end dress store in the mall, she starts to investigate, with reconnaissance help from her 81 year old, retired CIA grandfather.  Standing in her way, and offering no help whatsoever, is homicide detective Anders Hollend.  Yes, I see a romance in the making.

This is the first in a new series and I found the characters likeable and the ones who aren't supposed to be likeable are annoying, to say the least.  The author retired from the Air Force as an intelligence officer, so she knows law enforcement.  The book is also different than a lot of the cozy mysteries in that the main characters are usually in a field the chose and love and E.J. is there because she wants to work in law enforcement and can't.

On a totally different note, Bear had his teeth cleaned today and he is miserable.  He thinks he hates me, but he doesn't know for sure because he was knocked out during the procedure.  He does know that he was locked in a cage and that was totally not acceptable.  If I could just explain that it cost over $500, I think it would make him feel better.  Also, the fact that I had almost the same thing done last week (well just the cleaning) should make him less mad. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

Sandra Dallas writes stories that touch the heart of the reader.  True Sisters is a story that will stick with me for a long time.  Not only did it touch my heart, but it made me angry, and caused me to think about how lucky we are to live in this period of time.

True Sisters is the tale of four women who found themselves on a 1300 mile trek across the United States to get to the Promised Land.  They were promised this land by Mormon missionaries who traveled to England and Scotland to convert people and get them to join the LDS church.  The families gave up everything to travel to Utah, including most of their money and in return they were given a two wheeled hand cart which they had to pull and push the whole way and if they resisted they were taunted and called unbelievers, unworthy of a place in God's Kingdom..

Based on the true story of the Martin Company, a group who arrived in America a little too late in the year to start the trek, then found that the handcarts were not built, the wood was green, and provisions were a bit sparse. They also were told they only were allowed a small amount of personal provisions and had to dispose of many of their treasures they had brought from home.

The Mormon men, for the most part, disgusted me.  However, it's possible that part of my disgust is coming from a person who grew up in the 1960s. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake

A Witch Before Dying  by Heather Blake is the latest installment in the Darcy Merriweather Wishcraft series.  Darcy and her sister, Harper, are newly arrived residents of the Boston, Massachusetts enchanted village.  In other words, everyone who lives there has magical powers or they are married to someone with magical powers or they wish they had magical powers and they expect to trip up the magical residents and learn about magical powers.  My only magical power is the ability to procrastinate.

In my opinion, Heather Blake is one of the top five cozy mystery writers around.  She also writes under the name of Heather Webber and her gardening series is one of the first series I read.  The thing I like about cozies is that they are easy reading, fun, there's always a hunky guy, and, because they are quick reads, it's okay to can put them down and actually do other things.

In this episode, Elodie Keaton hires Darcy to clean her missing mother’s home (can you say hoarder) and sort the good from the bad so Elodie can sell.   Unfortunately, on the first day she's there Patrice's body is found inside a suitcase and beneath piles of old newspapers and stuff.  As the police investigate, Darcy is attacked and stalked by persons unknown. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dead and Berried by Karen MacInerney

Cranberry Island in Maine sounds like a beautiful place, unfortunately people keep ending up dead.  In Dead and Berried, the second in the continuing saga of the Grey Whale Inn's owner, Natalie Barnes, her ex-fiance comes to try to win her back, a woman staying in the B&B is trying to learn how to run an inn, a ghost, a 100 year old murder, and Polly, the woman who helps out with the laundry and light housekeeping, ends up dead in the bog.  Oh yeah, and then there are the obligatory developers trying to buy up the bog and build a development.

Because the local policeman declares that Polly killed herself, Natalie decides to do some investigating on her own.  When a second person ends up dead, Natalie becomes a suspect and must try to clear her name and solve both murders.

I read the first installment, Murder on the Rocks, last year and liked the characters and the story.  I liked Dead and Berried, even more than I liked Murder on the Rocks

Monday, February 4, 2013

Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

I admit it, a lot of  the books I read are just for fun.  I don't have to be educating myself every time I read.  I like to read, I like to be entertained.  Someone recently referred to a book I was/am planning to read as "bubblegum for the mind".  Is that a bad thing?

Also, I have a different rating system (in my head), based on the type of book I'm reading.  Is that weird? 

Anyway, I just finished reading Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis while I was waiting for mom to get out of her dentist and eye doctor appointments today.  I liked the book, even though some might think of it as bubblegum.

Head Over Heels is the third installment in the Lucky Harbor series.  The series is basically a boy meets girl, boy or girl aren't sure they want be more than friends with benefits, and true love conquers all.  I probably didn't ruin the ending by the last statement, because you know if they are having the benefits they are going to end up together, it's just the way the bubble pops. 

The first three books in the series are about three half sisters, all with the same mother, a free spirit who never settled down and followed the Grateful Dead from town to town.  When the mother dies, she leaves her daughter a B&B and they live together for the first time, while they remodel and open the B&B.  In Head Over Heels, Chloe takes center stage.

Chloe is a wild child, who is just starting to want to settle down.  She is the only sister who was raised by her mother and doesn't seem to believe she has a right to be happy.  Sawyer, the town sheriff, grew up in Lucky Harbor and spend all his time doing good, to make up for the fact that he was trouble when he was a teenager.  He also doesn't seem to believe he has a right to be happy.

Friday, February 1, 2013

What has happened to Customer Service?

I may be a bit jaded having worked with customers for most of my 33 1/2 years in telephony, but everyone knows when they are getting bad service pitched at them. 

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a catalog clothing company offering $60 off any order of $200.  The ad said the offer expired on 1/20/2013, at 2:00 p.m. on January 20th I placed an order and the coupon was rejected as "expired".  I sent an e-mail to the company's customer service asking for an explanation and I am still waiting to hear back. 

Last week I ordered a comforter and sheet set from HSN's Joy Mangano's line.  It was the special value of the day at $150, which is an excellent price.  Unfortunately, the sheets had an awful odor, but it did come out when I washed them.  They were very poorly sewn and there were loose threads all over.  When I put them on the bed, the elastic snapped. 

I called HSN and spoke to a concerned representative who said (after speaking to a supervisor) they would send me new sheets so I didn't have to send the whole thing back. Unfortunately, I got cut-off and when I called back the new customer service representative spoke to two supervisors who said no way would they have said that. They did offer a credit of $25 for the sheet set, which is for sale at HSN for $79.99. Seriously? How can they possibly offer me $25 credit and then justify selling the same thing for $79.99?  Do I look stupid.  

I tried to leave a review on HSN, but for some reason they aren't accepting reviews.

I am a very unhappy customer, but no one seems to care.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Written in Stone by Ellery Adams

 Written in Stone (A Books by the Bay Mystery) has a story within the mystery.  It also has older main characters, which is nice.  I don't have anything against twenty somethings, but it's nice to see older people finding a life partner and solving the mystery.

In Written in Stone Olivia Limoges gets summoned to visit Munin Cooper, a reclusive old woman also known as the Witch of Oyster Bay, who warns Olivia that death is coming.  Munin gives Olivia a homemade memory jug with tokens encrusted in the pottery which has clues to secrets in the community and possibly to Olivia's mother who died when Olivia was very young.  Shortly after they meet, Munin is found dead of a supposed snake bit.

Although Olivia is preparing for the Coastal Carolina Food Festival, she doesn't believe that Munin's death was accidental and she and the rest of the Bayside Book Writers investigate. As they start to identify the jug’s contents and unraveling secrets from the past, they also come face-to-face with a murderer.  
If you like cozies, I recommend this series by Ellery Adams.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The first Kate Morton book I read was The House at Riverton which I read as part of Barnes and Noble's First Look book club in January 2007.  It was a great read, reminiscent of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

In December I joined and one of my first selections was a Kate Morton book, The Secret Keeper.  I think everyone is a secret keeper in one way or another, but in this book we find that the many secrets overlap and come back to haunt the keepers eventually.

The Secret Keeper takes place in 1941, 1961, and 2011.  The central characters in 1941 are Dorothy (Dolly), Vivian, and Jimmy and takes place in England during the Blitz.  Dorothy is a young woman who moved to London to make her own way. Jimmy is her boyfriend, a photographer who takes pictures of what is happening to the city and the people.  Vivian who lives across the street from Dorothy, is a young woman of means, married to a famous writer.  Vivian and Dorothy volunteer at a war effort canteen and Dorothy is the companion of the rich old Lady who owns the house across from Vivienne.

In 1961, Dorothy's daughter, Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old.  She sneaks away from a family birthday party picnic and is daydreaming in her childhood treehouse, when she watches a strange man walking up the road to the farm.  She then watches as he speaks to Dorothy and then as Laurel watches as her mother stabs him with the cake knife she had come back to the house to retrieve.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful actress, living in London. When she returns to Green Acres Farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday, she is overwhelmed by memories of that day and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

As Laurel unravels the mystery of her mother and the stranger, Kate Morton draws the reader in with details of what it must have been like to live in London during that period of time and war.

The audio version, read by Caroline Lee, was incredible.  Caroline Lee's interpretation just added to the suspense and brought the characters to life.   

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

"If I'd have blinked, I would have missed it."  Thus starts the story of Troy Chance and the young boy she rescues after he is thrown off a ferry going in the opposite direction. 

This was one of the audio books I purchased from, and while I liked the story very much, the person who was recording it took some of the enjoyment from the experience.  Troy is a freelance magazine writer who specializes in sports, she is in her late 20s, early thirties.  The story is told in the first person and the reader is obviously older. 

Anyway, the premise of the book is strong.  Troy jumps into Lake Champlain and rescues the boy, then swims to shore.  The boy tells her that his name is Paul, but he speaks only French.  She calls the police, but they have no record of a child falling overboard, and no one appears to be looking for him at the docks.  Troy worries that he is an abused and unwanted child and decides to find out who his parents are and why they are not looking for him.  She figures if they don't want him, or are responsible for him being in the water, she'll just keep him.   She gets enough information from Paul to figure out who is parents are and sets off for Ottawa to find them and find out why they are not looking for him.  

I think this is a book I would have enjoyed more if I had actually read the story.  As it is, I only liked it enough.

Dire Threads by Janet Bolin

I usually like cozy mysteries, but this one just had too many quirky characters and they were more weird than they were quirky.  Plus I think the fact that I don't embroider anything made the fact that the main character embroiders everything she owns seem a bit over the top to me.  That's not to say that if you are a big fan of pictures and words all over your clothes and household items, you are not just as stylish as the person with the knitted hat and sweater, but if you start knitting your pants . . . the line is drawn.

Willow, the main character moves to a quaint town where her best friend, Haylee, owns a fabric store and Haylee's three mother figures own a knitting shop, button shop, and I can't even remember what the third shop sells.  They all give lessons to the locals and the tourists.  The only policeman is an inept old guy called Uncle Allen by everyone in town, the townswomen are all busybodies who don't like the newcomers, and all the eligible men are tall, fit, and handsome. 

Willow is suspected of murder and tries to solve the case with the help of her friends. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Witness

I am not an avid Nora Roberts' reader, but I have read a few of her books that I liked.  The Witness is definitely my favorite. 

The Witness is Elizabeth Fitch, the 16 year old daughter of a domineering mother, a mother who has planned Elizabeth's entire present and future.  A freshman at Harvard, Elizabeth comes home for the summer to find her mother is going out of town and has enrolled Elizabeth in a summer program in order to accelerate her graduation and ensure she is the youngest neurosurgeon in Chicago.  Elizabeth, who was looking forward to vacation and a promised trip to New York, rebels and goes shopping for clothes for the first time in her life.  She meets someone she knew of in high school and they go to a club which is owned by the Russian mob.

After leaving the club, Elizabeth witnesses a murder and goes into witness protection.  When her protectors are murdered, Elizabeth runs.

Twelve years later Abigail Lowery moves to a small town in Arkansas and catches the eye of the local chief of police, Brooks Gleason.  While their relationship deepens, Abigail makes plans to get her life back.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Up Country

Nelson DeMille is, and has been for many years, one of my favorite authors.  His books always entertain, yet you can't help learning something at the same time.  I think the first DeMille I read was The Charm School and it remains one of my favorites.  Recently I listened to (yes, I am an audio book fiend) all of the John Corey books and in The Panther, Paul Brenner had a pivotal role, which is one reason I picked Up Country as my first book of 2013. 

As a child of the 60s, I put off reading this book on Vietnam by Nelson DeMille for quite some time.  It's been in my TBR bookcase since it first came out in paperback, but I recently got a copy of the audiobook, so I figured why not start listening. 

Up Country is the story of Paul Brenner's return to Vietnam to investigate a murder that happened during the Tet Offensive in 1968, the same time that he was a PFC in the Army.  Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner (also the character in The General's Daughter) is a no-nonsense, tell it like it is, recently retired Criminal Investigation detective.  He retired after solving the case of the general's daughter's death and pissing off a lot of the brass.

In order to investigate the murder of an officer by a superior officer, Paul must find a Vietnamese soldier who witnessed the crime and get a statement and retrieve any mementos of the crime he might have in his possession.  Paul Brenner meets and then is accompanied by Susan Webber, an American woman who lives and works in Vietnam, and who may not be exactly who she says she is.

I liked the book very much, the complaint I have is the ending leaves several questions in my mind.  I want to know what happens next.  

Friday, January 4, 2013


Today I had a wonderful lunch with my friend, Marie.  We went to Patty's Eggnest in Arlington, which I think is one of the best places to go for breakfast or lunch with friends.  The food is good, they give you enough for two meals, and the service is great.  Plus they don't seem to care how long you sit there and visit, they just keep filling your coffee cup and being nice.  Bear was happy because he got Marie's leftovers (I ate mine for dinner). 

We missed having Mary join us, but hopefully her back will get better quickly and we can do this again soon.  I miss my old neighborhood and the wonderful people I met there.

I have to say that I miss having the constant interaction with the people I lived near, worked with, and saw on a daily basis.  I think it is the downside of retirement and moving.  You just lose contact with the people you saw day in and day out.  I guess the reason the people at Walgreen's think I'm always such a pleasant customer is I'm just happy to see them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1 time for a do over

It's January now and the day was crisp, sunny, and cold.  Not cold like Alaska cold, but cold for Washington.  It was a good day.  I actually went through some clothes, washed them, and now they are in the Goodwill box.  I haven't worn a dress since I attended a funeral shortly after I retired, so I'm passing them on to someone who might need them.  

Why is it so hard to give clothes I haven't worn in ten years?  Why do I think that I will suddenly start wearing dresses and jumpers, it's not like they are even in style anymore.  Still, even though I know I won't be wearing them, I put three jumpers back in the closet "in case it get hot this summer".  

I put out some bread chunks for the birds the other day and last night something came any ate them.  I don't think it was birds, because there was half a loaf of toasted bread yesterday and today there are about three chunks.   Plus Bear was really sniffing in the area . . . coyotes?  Probably.