Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pies and Prejudice (A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery series) by Ellery Adams

This is a fun cozy mystery for foodie lovers.  There is plenty of charm and lovable characters.  This book was released July 3, 2012.   I'm looked forward to the second book in this series due to come out March 2013.  I love that her when she finds trouble, her mom and aunts gather round her to offer comfort and help.
When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. So when she catches her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flakey crust. But her pies aren't just delicious. They're having magical effects on the people who eat them--and the public is hungry for more.

Discovering her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. and when Loralyn's fiancé is found dead--killed with Ella Mae's rolling pin--it'll take all her sweet magic to clear her name.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Lavender Lane (Shelter Bay series) by Joann Ross

Another great chic-lit read.  Joann Ross creates characters that you want to meet and keep as your own friend.  Cooking, romance, and a warm, inviting setting work together for an enjoyable book.
Navy SEAL Lucas Chaffee recently returned to Shelter Bay. His father, world famous architect Duncan Chaffee has unexpectedly passed away. They had planned to work together when Lucas completed his Navy career, restoring old homes on the West Coast. Lucas is at loose ends, wondering what he will do.

Celebrity TV chef Madeline Durand has been publicly humiliated by a philandering husband. So Madeline jumps at the chance to return to Shelter Bay to recover and help her grandmother turn the family farm into a new business.

Little does she know that the man who broke her heart years ago is already on the job-or that he's going to cook up a recipe of passion, patience, and perseverance to win her over.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Some Like It Hawk: A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews

I love Meg Langslow mysteries.  They are full of fun in a crazy town filled with lots of family and friends.
Meg Langslow is plying her blacksmith's trade at “Caerphilly Days,” a festival inspired by her town’s sudden notoriety as "The Town That Mortgaged Its Jail." The lender has foreclosed on all Caerphilly's public buildings, and all employees have evacuated —except Phineas Throckmorton, the town clerk.

Mr. Throckmorton's siege has only been possible because of a pre-Civil War tunnel leading from the courthouse basement to a crawl space beneath the bandstand.
But the lender seems increasingly determined to evict Mr. Throckmorton—and may succeed after one of its executives is found shot, apparently from inside the basement. 

Meg and her fellow townspeople suspect that someone hopes to end the siege by framing Mr. Throckmorton. Unless the real killer can be found quickly, the town will have to reveal the secret of the tunnel—and the fact that they've been aiding and abetting the basement’s inhabitant.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The story is set around 'The Blue Ridge Madam' - a mansion in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina that was built by Willa Jackson's once well-to-do family. The house is being restored as a historic bed and breakfast and with the restoration comes the unearthing of secrets. Add to these secrets a romance or two, truly likable characters.
 It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather and once the finest home in Walls of Water, North Carolina—has stood for years as a monument to misfortune and scandal. Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite Paxton Osgood—has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn. But when a skeleton is found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, long-kept secrets come to light, accompanied by a spate of strange occurrences throughout the town. Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

This is the 2nd book of the All Souls Trilogy.  I completed this book in August but am just now getting around to entering all my book reviews.
Deborah Harkness, a professor of history, has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries.  She has become one of my favorite writers.

Shadow of Night picks up a second after A Discovery of Witches ends. We join Matthew and Diana in their time jump to the 1500s where their goals are to 1) find a witch to train Diana and 2) find the mysterious Ashmole 782. 
As the book opens we find Diana and Matthew entering Elizabethan London, where Mathew is part of the mysterious School of Night, a group that counts Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh among its members.  It was wonderful to get lost in sights and smells of Elizabethan history.

I couldn't get enough of Discovery of Witches so it was no surprise that I was a bit disappointed in the Shadow of Night.  It is still an excellent book and well written, but Discovery is a VERY tough act to follow.  I found disappointment in Matthew as he kept too many secrets but I was still enthralled with Diana.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

I loved this book.  I enjoyed reading it so much I made myself slow down and stop every so often so I could enjoy the story longer.  I've never done that while reading a book before. 
I actually finished this book in July, but just getting around to posting it since I've been on hiatus.
It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having "too much power." So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate

I really enjoyed this book.  It's about finding your passion, struggling through emotions, listening to your head but opening your heart.  A fun mix with great characters.  I hope they all come back in another book.
Holly Maguire's grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine--a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages.

Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can't make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that's why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla's Cucinotta, she's determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother's legacy.

But Holly's four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla's chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter's heart. Juliet, Holly's childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can't find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla's essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed--and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Back Home Again by Melody Carlson

This is the first book in the Tales from Grace Chapel Inn series.  I didn't expect such a religious book but should not have been surprised based on the title.  However, the religous piece was not overdone.  There is some praying but it doesn't drone on or try to make anyone a convert.

The sleepy town of Acorn Hill is in for a surprise when the three Howard sisters reunite after the death of their father. Each has inherited a share of his worn-down Victorian house, and they dream of turning the family home into a bed-and-breakfast.

But these three women are as different as siblings can be - can they survive living together, let alone going into business together? It looks like their dream may be headed for disaster! Only by learning to work together, trusting in God, and accepting a little help from their friends can the three sisters see Grace Chapel Inn open its doors.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The book is so much better than the movie.  The thoughts and feelings that the characters endure can't be explained as well in movie format.  I didn't like the filming format of the movie which made me so glad I read the book.  Even the clothing choices in the movie weren't up to my mind's expectations.  so definitely read the book.
In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games.

Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch.

When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some who have trained for this their whole lives.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

This is the 3rd book in the Outlander series.  It's a time travel, adventure/romance whirlwind of a story. Don't be thrown off by the 870 pages.  There isn't a spot in the book that drags. 
In "Voyager", Claire, now realizing that the love of her life and soulmate survived the battle of Culloden, makes the decision to go back in time and find James Fraser, as for the past twenty years her love for him has remained constant.

Leaving her daughter, Brianna, she once more hurls herself into the vortex of time to eighteenth century Scotland to begin her search for James Fraser, in hope of being reunited with her 'Jamie'.

This book tells the story of what happened to Claire Randall and James Fraser in those intervening twenty years. It tells of their ultimate reunion and rediscovery. With historical events as a backdrop and an unforgettable cast of characters, it regales the reader with their new adventures, as Claire returns to a still divided, turmoil ridden Scotland. Reunited with James Fraser, none the worse for wear, they seek to make a life for themselves. Their reunion is passionate but not peaceful for long. Jamie and Claire's efforts to save his nephew, Ian take them on a voyage, sailing the high seas all the way to the West Indies. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Right Next Door by Debbie Macomber

Right Next Door is actually 2 books in one. 
This review is for the first book - Father's Day.  It's a cute book, fast reading.  It has a touch of sadness in just the right amount.

Now that Robin Masterson has bought a new house, her ten year old son Jeff wants nothing more than a dog, which unfortunately Robin can't afford. Jeff soon bonds with the dog next door and Robin soon finds herself bonding with the dog's owner Cole Camden. Robin and Jeff seem to break the wall that Cole built around his heart after a devastating tragedy but Robin can't help but wonder if Cole is getting involved with them for the wrong reasons. It will take everything Cole has to convince Robin that he is indeed falling in love with her.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Provence Cure For the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher

In my opinion, this book had the potential to be so much better than it was.  I didn't care for most of the characters, the story line kept taking the wrong paths.  Most of the time, if I don't like the story I put the book down and move on to the next one so I rarely have a bad book review.  I kept reading it thinking it would get better, because it had potential.  It was just not my style, though some may think it's a great book.
Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II.

Heidi, owns a bakery in the States and instead of getting into her baking for release, she just remains a self-absorbed whiner for the entire book.

There, Charlotte confesses a shocking secret, and Heidi learns the truth about her mother’s “lost summer” when Heidi was a child. As three generations collide with one another, with the neighbor who seems to know all of their family skeletons, and with an enigmatic Frenchman, Heidi, Charlotte, and Abbot journey through love, loss, and healing amid the vineyards, warm winds and delicious food of Provence. Can the magic of the house heal Heidi’s heart, too?

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond

It was fun reading about someone who actually inherited a flat in London and decides to stay for awhile.  When another family member who did not inherit as much  decides to contest the will, the adventure begins.
After her Aunt Penelope dies, historical researcher Penny Nichols is astonished to learn that not only is she a bona fide heiress-but she's also been invited to put her research skills to work.

This time, the history she's researching happens to be her very own. What she discovers about Aunt Penelope-a pair of wills, double lives, secret histories, and a family tree of vultures-is about to sweep Penny and a long-lost relative across France, over the hills of Italy, and throughout half of Europe on the adventure of several lifetimes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

This is the first book I have read by Robyn Carr and I will be back to read more of her work.  There is some sadness to deal with, but overall an enjoyable read, with a bit of romance.
Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against the backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

Recently widowed Melinda Monroe want to get away from her frantic job in an LA hospital's emergency room.  When Mel sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to re-energize the midwife/nursing career she loves.

Her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she's made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans...and a former marine cements them into place.
Melinda Monroe may have come to Virgin River looking for escape, but instead she finds her home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich can do no wrong by me.  I have enjoyed every book I read by her and this is another addition to my list.
Kate Appleton needs a job. Her husband has left her, she’s been fired from her position as a magazine editor, and the only place she wants to go is to her parents’ summer house, The Nutshell, in Keene’s Harbor, Michigan.
Kate’s plan is to turn The Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast. Problem is, she needs cash, and the only job she can land is less than savory. 
Kate is having trouble finding work, so Matt Culhane gives Kate a chance working at his micro-brewery/restaurant.  Kate's job is to spy on his brewery employees. Someone has been sabotaging his company, and Kate is just new enough in town that she can insert herself into Culhane’s business and snoop around for him. 
If Kate finds the culprit, Matt will pay her a $20,000 bonus. Needless to say, Kate is highly motivated. But several problems present themselves. Kate despises beer. No one seems to trust her. And she is falling hard for her boss. 
As you read it, you may think her parents are a bit exaggerated, but let me say from first hand experience, parents can sometimes be self-absorbed in their love for each other.
A great read, Evanovich style!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Turn In The Road by Debbie Macomber

Even though this is suggested as a knitting related book, there is very little knitting that happens.  This is a book about 3 women that travel from Seattle, WA to Vero Beach, FL.  The story was told so well I felt as though I was traveling with them and fortunately they were 3 women whose company I enjoyed.

In the middle of the year, in the middle of her life, Bethanne Hamlin takes a road trip with her daughter, Annie, and her former mother-in-law, Ruth.

They're driving to Florida for Ruth's 50th high-school reunion. A longtime widow, Ruth would like to reconnect with Royce, the love of her teenage life. She's heard he's alone, too…and, well, she's curious.

Bethanne's ex-husband, Grant—her children's father—divorced her when he fell in love with a younger woman.  He wants to reconcile now that his second marriage has failed. Bethanne is considering it - which really bothered me, but it's her life.

Annie, a young 20 something, is out to prove to her onetime boyfriend that she can live a brilliant life without him!

So there they are, three women driving across America. They have their maps and their directions—but even the best-planned journey can take you to a turn in the road.

Go with them, it's a great adventure!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

This story definitely grew on me.  I started out not liking the main character but as she evolved, I found her good points and began to root for her.  There are some great unexpected hidden twists and turns in the story line to keep it interesting.
The only part that bothered me was the constant mention to footnotes.  The heroine Poppy, is obsessed with footnotes.

The book begins with a crisis: Poppy has lost her engagement ring, a family heirloom from her fiance. In the frantic search for the lost emerald ring, someone swipes Poppy's cell phone but quickly finds (through the magic of writing) a cell phone in the trash, which she digs out of the trash and starts using. 

We then begin to meet the characters; her fiance and future in-laws (who are so scary-smart that she is intimidated), her work-friends, and especially the stranger to whom the phone originally belonged.

Give Poppy a chance.  If you don't like her at first, she will grow on you like a good friend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon

This is an excellent time-travel romance.  The second in the Outlander series.  I enjoyed it just as much as the first book.  There are references to the first book "Outlander" but not so much to be overdone.  I love reading series books in order and I can't wait for to read the 3rd in this series.
It's now 1968, and Claire Beauchamp Randall has returned to Inverness, Scotland, with her daughter, Brianna.

This is Claire's first visit back since she and husband Frank visited 22 years before--when she walked through a Druid stone circle into the middle of the 18th century. Now, Frank is dead, and Claire hopes to learn what happened to the second great love of her life--gallant Jamie Fraser, laird of Lallybroch whom she married during her journey into the past.

She's also looking for a way to tell Brianna who her real father is. Framed by these dilemmas, the bulk of the story consists of the second installment of Claire and Jamie's adventures. Escaping the English death sentence passed against Jamie, they flee to prerevolutionary Paris, where they secretly work at foiling Bonnie Prince Charlie's efforts to regain the Scottish throne.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stealing Magic (A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventrue) by Marianne Malone

This is the second book in this series and just as good as the first book.  You don't need to have read the first book to understand what is happening, nor does this second installment cover the first book with too much description.  A great YA story for inventive imaginations.

Ruthie and Jack are smart and fun kids who have a good relationship with their parents and get drawn into the most wonderful mysteries. 

Ruthie and Jack thought that their adventures in the Thorne Rooms (the 68 miniature period rooms on permanent display in the Art Institute of Chicago) were over . . . until miniatures from the rooms start to disappear. Is it the work of the art thief who's on the loose in Chicago? Or has someone else discovered the secret of the Thorne Rooms' magic? Ruthie and Jack's quest to stop the thief takes them from modern day Chicago to 1937 Paris during the Nazi takeover and they get to visit the South when slavery was still in practice.

As more items disappear, including the key that allows them to shrink and access the past worlds, what was once just an adventure becomes a life and death race against the clock. Can Ruthie and Jack catch the thief and help the friends they meet on the way before the magic—and the rooms—are destroyed forever?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Waking Up In Charleston by Sherryl Woods

This is a book I didn't expect to like that much, but I did.  I wanted to keep reading because the character's are very real, caring and work hard to be good people - most of them. 

This review doesn't make it sound like much of a book, but it's worth reading.  Sherryl Woods does an excellent job letting us listen in to how people work through their problems and those that don't and make a mess of things.
The moment Amanda defied her rich and powerful father to marry Bobby O'Leary, Big Max disowned her. Even now, with Bobby dead and Amanda mired in debt, he refuses to forgive her.

But Caleb, the new man in Amanda's life, is determined to mend fences between father and daughter. He also has a far more personal mission—to make Amanda and her family his own. But when she learns how close he is to Big Max and the secret Caleb's been hiding, there's every chance she could walk away.

As a pastor, Caleb's used to calling on a higher power for help, and heaven knows it's going to take a miracle to fix this before it's too late.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham

I'm glad the title referenced an angel.  I would not have been able to figure out the story if it didn't.  This book was confusing to me but I kept reading hoping it would all be explained soon.  It did but not clear enough.  The book read like it had been slapped together in a hurry.  I've read better by Heather Graham.

Christmas has never brought out the best in the MacDougal family. Still, year after year, they gather together in the Blue Ridge Mountains to try to make the season merry and bright. This year is an especially strained one, with Shayne's impending divorce, Morwenna's slavish devotion to work and Bobby's reluctance to face what life has to offer. They've never felt less like a family.

Then, in the midst of a snowy sibling shouting match, a mysterious stranger appears. He could be a criminal, a madman—or something far more unexpected. Despite their fears and the growing danger in the dark woods around them, the MacDougals take a leap of faith. But when another stranger arrives on the mountainside, they don't know which of them to believe. One of these men can't be trusted and could be very dangerous.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

This book was such an unexpected pleasure.  I love how Ms Bauermeister writes.  Even though the story is about struggles and challenges, the road traveled is gentle and soothing.  I don't usually re-read books, but this is one I could easily read again and enjoy just as much the second time.  I highly recommend this to everyone.
At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer.

Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.

The challenge each woman takes on is a perfect fit for her and I ended up wanting to take each challenge myself.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I always enjoy books by Susan E Phillips.  There are some great characters in this book and a lot of fun repartee.  The story of Jane is a good one. 

Genius physics professor Dr. Jane Darling spends her 34th birthday in tears. She wants a baby, but not a husband.. But finding a father won’t be easy. Jane’s super-intelligence made her feel like a freak when she was growing up, and she’s determined to spare her own child that suffering. Where can she find an average or, preferably, stupid man? She wants a man who is less intelligent that can bring her babies IQ score down to normal.

Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars’ legendary quarterback, seems like the perfect choice. But his champion good looks and down-home ways are deceiving. Dr. Jane is about to learn a little too late that this good ol’ boy is a lot smarter than he lets on—and he’s not about to be used and abandoned by a brainy, baby-mad schemer and definitely more honorable than she had expected.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I love romance-time travel books and this book does a good job at portraying life in the past as we would see it with our eyes.

English nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall and husband Frank take a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands in 1945. When Claire touches a  cleft boulder in an ancient henge, she's somehow transported to 1743.

She encounters Frank's evil ancestor, British captain Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, and is adopted by another clan. Claire nurses young soldier James Fraser, a gallant, merry redhead, and the two begin a romance, seeing each other through many perilous, swashbuckling adventures involving Black Jack.

Scenes of the Highlanders' daily life blend poignant emotions with Scottish wit and humor.  Even in her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she's never known before. Eventually Claire finds a chance to return to 1945, and must choose between distant memories of Frank and her happy, uncomplicated existence with Jamie.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

This is a historical novel, set in 1906.  It's gives us a good look at life in small american towns.  This is a great YA book.  It a fast page turning, slow paced book.  I didn't find any places I wanted to rush through to get the chapter over because the characters are enjoyable even when we are wishing for different lives for them.

Mattie Gokey, at 16, is a talented writer.  She promised her dying mother that she would always take care of her father and younger siblings. She is stuck on a farm, living in near poverty, with no way of escaping.

With the help of a teacher who can see Mattie has great writing skills, Mattie gets accepted at Barnard College. She is torn between her sense of responsibility to her family and her need to do more with her life.  That summer she gets a job working as a serving girl at a fancy hotel in the Adirondacks.  She splits her salary with her father and saves the rest for herself.

At the hotel, Mattie gets caught up in the disappearance of a young couple who had gone out together in a rowboat. Mattie spoke with the young woman, Grace Brown, just before the fateful boating trip, when Grace gave her a packet of love letters and asked her to burn them. When Grace is found drowned, Mattie reads the letters and finds that she holds the key to unraveling the girl's death and her beau's mysterious disappearance. Grace Brown's story is a true one and author Jennifer Donnelly weaves the real-life story with Mattie's, making Mattie seem even more real.

There is much, much more going on but I recommend reading the book instead of reading the rest in my review.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bone Appétit (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery) by Carolyn Haines

I actually put this book down for awhile because I had lost interest in it.  I'm glad I gave it a second chance and went back to finish it. 
I ended up really liking this book - maybe it's the whole southern belle theme that I enjoy so much.

The story centers around a cook-off beauty contest to find a spa's next spokesperson.
Sarah Booth, who's seeking solace after a miscarriage, and her best friend and fellow PI, Tinkie Bellecase Richmond, come to Greenwood, Miss., to attend classes at the Viking Cooking School, but soon get involved in a beauty contest/cook-off and mayhem.

The trouble begins when contestant Karrie Kompton bites into a chocolate-covered cockroach. Next, Babs Lafitte falls to the stage and goes into convulsions. After Brook Oniada suffers fatal burns during her flaming baton routine and Janet Menton dies after eating poisoned pastry, suspicion falls on Janet's roommate, Hedy Lamarr Blackledge, who hires Sarah and Tinkie to clear her name.

Sarah's ever-entertaining ghost companion, Jitty, provides support as Sarah winds up finding the crazed beauty contest gone bad a blessing in disguise.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

I'm not a huge fan of Victorian romance but I keep going back to give it another try.
Just Like Heaven is a cute story, even though it was easy to see how the book will end even in the first few chapters.  The main characters were very likeable but loved to say the other ones name. I wish I would have counted how many times Marcus said Honoria in the book.  The repetition got old fairly quickly.

Set in early 1800's England, I'm fascinated at the clothing the ladies had to wear.  Thank goodness denim jeans came along in my lifetime.
The book begins when Marcus and Daniel are young boys and meet at school.  Honoria, Daniels sister was younger than the boys and they considered her a pest to be ignored.  The book then moves on to Honoria reaching the age of marriage and has yet to find someone suitable.  She only sees Marcus as a brother and good friend since she has known him all her life and he practically lived at their house growing up.

We watch Marcus and Honoria dance around as their feeling for each other develop into something serious.  Even though Honoria continues to find a man other than Marcus to marry, we continue to hope for the best.

It's interesting that the book doesn't settle on anyone having a real job.  Marcus was an Earl.  I have no idea what he did to get money to afford a huge house and servants.  Or anyone else in the book - except for the doctor and house staff, everyone was free to wander as they wished.

I've heard Julia Quinn's earlier books are much more entertaining.  I may have to give her one more try, since this book did have a likeable factor to it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Next Always: Book One of the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy by Nora Roberts

If you're a Nora Roberts fan, like I am, this book will not disappoint you.  I totally enjoy the characters and the relationships Nora builds. 

The historic hotel in BoonsBoro, Maryland, has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it's getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother.

As the architect of the family, Beckett's social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there's another project he's got his eye on: the girl he's been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

Clare came book to Boonsboro after her husband was killed and runs her own bookstore in town. Her three young sons and she are happy with the life they built and Clare doesn't have the time to date. And she never realized that Beckett is interested in her.

There is also a resident ghost at the Inn, Lizzy.  She is fairly active while construction is taking place at the Inn.  It will be interesting to see if Lizzy sticks around when people begin staying at the Inn.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Threadbare by Monica Ferris

This book is another in the Needlecraft Mystery series.   This mystery has plenty of  twists and turns and suspects to keep the pages turning.  The regular cast of characters are very likeable and all show up for another sleuthing adventure. 

The story revolves around the murder of two seemingly unrelated women, both homeless, both found frozen in the snow of a Minnesota winter. Betsy Devonshire, owner of Crewel World needlework shop, is again approached by one of her customers, who is under suspicion by the local police, who asks her to find out what really happened.

Sgt. Mike Malloy and Betsy, find that the evidence does fit together in either murder case or together with one murderer.  Betsy gets help from a homeless woman, Annie, who gets into places neither Betsy or Sgt Malloy ever could.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I always enjoy book by Susan Phillips.  This book is delightful!  I highly recommend it if you enjoy small towns and romance. 
Onetime PGA star and smalltown mayor Ted Beaudine is about to marry Lucy Jorik, the daughter of a former president, when she's persuaded to break it off by her best friend, Meg Koranda, the aimless daughter of Hollywood royalty.

Everyone in Wynette, Tex., loves Ted, but Meg feels Lucy deserves a passionate partner, not a god of self-control. After the disaster of calling off the wedding at the last minute, Meg's parents cut her off, stranding her in the hostile town with a broken down car and no money. As Meg finds her own path and helps Ted discover his heart, the townspeople stoutly defend their golden boy.

After reading this book, I plan to go back and read a couple I missed.  Glitter Baby - the book Meg first showed up in and Fancy Pants, the book Ted first showed up in.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Bone To Pick by Charlaine Harris

This is the first book I've read by Charlaine Harris.  I enjoyed this book, it was a fast easy read with likable characters.

Aurora Teagarden, works in a library and her hobby is reading books on real murders.  She suddenly finds herself very rich when elderly spinster Jane Engle- who shared Aurora's love of reading and talking about real murders, dies and leaves her a fortune.

When Aurora goes to take possession of Miss Engle's home, she finds the place ransacked. Poking around, she turns up a ghoulish artifact the intruder missed: a bashed-in human skull hidden in a cleverly disguised window seat. Aurora first thinks Jane was the killer and began searching for clues from Jane.  Aurora soon finds a note the deceased left behind pointing her suspicions elsewhere.

She delves into the lives of her new neighbors, masking her scrutiny with Southern charm, and discovers that over the years two men have disappeared from the neighborhood.
While she continues her sleuthing, she strikes up a friendship with a handsome minister.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 39 Clues Book 1: The Maze Of Bones by Rick Riordan

The 39 Clues is a series of 10 books written by 10 different authors linked together by a great story and wonderful characters.  Rick Riordan is the first author in the series and did a great job kicking it off.  In fact this promises to be a great series.  The Maze of Bones was actually published in 2008.  I can't believe it took me this long to find it.   I will definitely be looking for Book 2 - One False Note by Gordon Korman.
When their beloved Aunt Grace dies, Dan, 11, and Amy, 14—along with other Cahill descendants—are faced with an unusual choice: inherit one million dollars or participate in a perilous treasure hunt.

Cahills have determined the course of history for centuries, and this quest's outcome will bring the victors untoward power and affect all of humankind. Against the wishes of their current guardian Aunt Beatrice, who has reluctantly cared for them since their parents' deaths, Dan and Amy accept the challenge, convincing their college-age au pair to serve as designated adult.

Pitted against other Cahill teams, who will stop at nothing to win, the siblings decipher the first of 39 clues and are soon hot on the historical trail of family member Ben Franklin to unearth the next secret.

This is fast paced book that leaves no room for boredom. As the siblings work together to solve puzzles and survive dangers, they develop into well-drawn individuals with their own strengths and personalities. There is even built in history told in a way that even YA readers will enjoy it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

This YA book is told through they eyes of a young and innocent 12 year old girl in 1936.  It's a fast paced book loaded adventure not only of Abilene, the 12 year old, but of her father as she traces back through his past.

I can totally understand why it became a Newbury Honor Award Winner.

After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story.

In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice.

Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding.

With believable dialogue, vocabulary and imagery appropriate to time and place, and well-developed characters, this rich and rewarding first novel is as Abilene says... “like sucking on a butterscotch. Smooth and sweet."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

This is another Flavia de Luce installment.  I love Flavia.  If you are not familiar with this precocious an eleven-year-old sleuth, I highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series.

It's Christmastime and Flavia, a budding chemist is whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick.  She is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Now You See Her by Cecelia Tishy

This is the first book in the Regina Cutter series.  What I don't understand is the meaning of the title of the book?  No one is invisible, no one suddenly appears.

Cast aside by her Chicago executive husband in favor of a trophy wife, Regina "Reggie" Cutter gets a new life in Boston, where she has inherited not only her Aunt Jo's South End townhouse but also her aunt's psychic abilities, which take the form of unusual pains in various parts of her body. While these pains aren't precise paranormal indicators, they're enough to get her asked by a realtor friend to check out a Back Bay mansion subject to unexplained manifestations; she's also appointed an unofficial consultant to Boston police detective Frank Devaney, whom her aunt assisted on occasion.

In between visits to the murder site and talks with folks who lived nearby at the time, Reggie does her "real job"--working at a -resale-clothing store for cash-strapped women reentering the workplace and walks the Beagle she shares with a scruffy motorcycle enthusiast, R. K. Stark, who wants her to learn to ride.

There is plenty going on to keep the pages turning.
I will definitely pick up the next book in the series.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

O. M. G.
Since this is listed as a Y.A. book, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did.
It's well written, the characters are real, some likeable, some not.  I don't want to spoil that plot.  The whole story wasn't what I expected.... at all.  I began knowing nothing about the book, which is a great way to begin this story.
I didn't realize it was a trilogy until I finished the book and thought, it's over? It ended too soon....  this is one of those books that you hate to finish... thus the trilogy.
and so it begins...

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Evermore by Alyson Noel

This is an excellent YA book.  There is plenty to keep the reader constantly interested.  This is the first in a series so I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.
 Seventeen-year-old Ever survived the car crash that killed her parents, younger sister, and their dog. Now she lives with an aunt in Southern California, plagued not only by survivor guilt but also by a new ability to hear the thoughts of all around her and to see and talk to her sister Riley, who did not survive the accident.

She tries to tune out all these distractions by keeping her hoodie up and her iPod cranked loud, until Damen, the cute new boy at school, convinces her to come out of her shell. Damen, however, is frighteningly clever—and has the strange ability to produce tulips from nowhere and disappear himself at critical moments.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke

This is a fun, easy book to read with lots of cookies eaten.  There are also cookie recipes included. 
Independent-minded Hannah Swenson makes her debut in a cleverly plotted cozy, full of appealing characters and delicious cookie recipes. In her hometown of Lake Eden, Minn., Hannah opens her own shop, the Cookie Jar, where much of the town's gossip percolates along with the strong coffee.

Early one morning, she finds the driver of a delivery truck shot dead in the alley behind her shop. Hannah's decides to help her brother-in-law, Bill, the county's deputy sheriff, to chase down the culprit.

Hannah is great at getting people to talk about things they would rather to keep to themselves. Motives ranging from blackmail to extortion abound. While delivering cookies, catering scouting events, and otherwise gadding about the community, Hannah gathers important clues.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Magician by Michael Scott

This is book 2 in theSecrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.  It's full of action and suspense.  A great YA book.
 Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, who have had the forumla for eternal life, meet prophecized twins who have the power to either save the world or destroy it. The Codex which holds all the spells needed to do so, including the recipe for the the elixer of life, was taken, but Josh, one of the twins, had the foresight to tear out the last 2 pages, saving the bad guys, Dr. John Dee, from Elizabethan England fame and his minions, from destroying things.
Perenelle is captured and is in Alcatraz. Nicholas and the twins, and Scatty, the vampire warrior flee to Paris.

First Sophie and then Josh begin learning how much power they have and slowly learn how to handle it.