Friday, April 18, 2014

Maggie Malone and the Mostly Magical Boots by Jenna McCarthy, Olivia Swann

Maggie always looked forward to her present from Aunt Fi, but this one is way weird.  Why would she send her an old pair of scruffy cowboy boots?

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 1st, so keep an eye out for it then.

Maggie Malone is having a terrible life.  Her father has lost his job, and now she has to leave the private Catholic school and go to public school.  It's awful!  She'll leave everything she's familiar with, her best friend, and all her familiar classes.  It's even worse because it's mid-year.  How's she going to cope?

The first day at the new school is a disaster.  She gets a bottom locker and while she's trying to get into it, another girl steps on her sandwich for lunch.  She's late to class and has to get a note.  When she goes back later to exchange textbooks at her locker, someone drops a history book on her head and she ends up in the nurse's office.  And guess what, she's late for class again...

When she gets home, she tries on the boots.  They're not bad but they won't go with much.  She's debating over how they will look with an outfit when she's sees a man in the mirror!  She freaks and tries to defend herself but there's nobody there.  The only place she can see him is in the mirror.  Then he tells he's a genie.  Sure, dude, sure.

When her girlfriend comes to visit, she hides the boots.  She's not ready to talk about her genie yet.  And all her friend wants to talk about is the new hot pop star, Becca.  Once her friend has gone, she puts on the boots again and settles down on her bed.  As she daydreams about Becca, she wishes she had a life like that.  Uh oh...

I've always wished I could trade places with someone and live their life for a bit.  After reading about Maggie, I think I'll change my mind.  Poor girl...

The ending is the best part of this book.  Maggie learns several things from her experience as Becca and from her genie.  Her aunt's present has a special magic to help Maggie with life, and that makes it all worth while.

Happy reading.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff

Old Cornelius has a huge Victorian home which is good because he's the village's Grudge Keeper.  Any problems they have, they write them down and take them to him to hide away in his home.  Sounds good, doesn't it?

Peachtree Publishers and Net Galley allowed me read this book for review (thank you).  It was published April 1st, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a lovely picture book.  Eliza Wheeler illustrates with her heart.  Her pictures are big and overflowing with soft colors and fun characters.  They really add to the text and make the story even more impressive.

Most of the grudges are pretty silly.  The text makes it even more fun by referring to them as tiffs and huffs and squabbles and quibbles and more.  Everyone in the village uses Cornelius' services and that keeps them all getting along.

So imagine what happens when there is really big wind and it blows all those grudges out the windows?  Squabbles were tangled with quibbles, low blows were on top and left handed compliments were on the right side.  Oh my!

The words used in this story are active and fluid and make you want to mimic the sounds.  I found that charming.  I also love how the story ends.  

Why not share a book with your little one that will teach them to forgive and forget the little things that happen in life and follow the natural way to happiness?  They'll be smiling when then they finish this picture book story - just like I was!

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne, Glenn Thomas (Illustrated by)

Jack is bored.  His mother is too busy being a social butterfly and shutting him away in his room.  His father is always working.  The housekeeper is nice and tries to entertain him but it's still not exciting.  It's not until this strange man shows up at his house to do magic tricks for his mother's friends that he sees a more interesting life.  He even hears the man offer to train him in the same field and gets a bit excited only to hear his mother say no.  But he wants to go...

Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 13th.

If you have a young reader interested in steampunk, they'll enjoy this story.  It's full of action, good and bad things, and a big challenge for Jack.  It reads quickly, the story flows well and it's fun to see where the author's imagination has gone.

Jack finds a way to follow the stranger through an odd door between worlds.  Suddenly he's in the same city, but it's not; it's a parallel world.  Jack is very lucky to find friends who can help him.  He's amazed that the first one he found is a metal wind-up girl that has a soul.  She's kind and happy and he immediately likes her.  Add in a doctor and a scientist and you have Jack's new group of friends.

The doctor makes new limbs for people.  They're metal with a bit of magic.  Jack has a mechanical aptitude, so he helps.  He's happy to be here and happy to be useful.  But Lorcan is still looking him and he's willing to do anything to get Jack to come to him.  That includes hanging people...

The lady is a strange ruler that wants a perfect son.  Of course, once they become imperfect or get too old, they have to go.  Right now, Jack is exactly what she wants.

This whole story was an interesting concept.  Jack could now have anything he wanted. He had lots to do and his new mother loved him.  But was it better than home?  Jack has only one chance to get home.  Will he take it?

Happy reading.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blessed Are The Dead by Kristi Belacamino

I've been given the opportunity to let you read an excerpt of this story to give you a preview of what it is like.  I've been reading and reviewing Witness Impulse books and they're good.  If you haven't found them yet, you're missing out.  Here's some info about the book and the author:

For her debut novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD (Witness, on sale 6/10/2014, $2.99, ISBN 13: 9780062338907), Kristi Belcamino relies on her knowledge gained from working as a crime reporter at newspapers in California, specifically in her experience with a serial killer who police and FBI agents liked to several kidnappings and murders. Belcamino’s personal past colors this smart, thrilling novel with a unique new voice.

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD offers chilling, authentic glimpses into the mind of a psychopath while also mining the psyche of an extremely likeable protagonist.  The novel sets up a new series featuring Gabriella Giovanni, an Italian-American Bay Area crime reporter.  BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, the second book in the series will be published in July.

Scroll down this page to get to the first two chapters:

Blessed Are the Dead 

If you're not sure you want to read the chapters, here's the synopsis to tempt you:

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD pits Italian-American Bay Area Crime reporter against a serial killer who preys on children. When they were little girls, Gabriella Giovanni’s sister was kidnapped and killed. Twenty years later, Gabriella spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and then walking away unscathed. That changes when a little girl disappears and Gabriella’s quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tales of his exploits as a longtime serial killer and promises to reveal his secrets to her alone. Meanwhile, Gabriella’s passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper also killed her sister. Gabriella won’t hesitate to risk her life to garner justice for the dead.

Justice can be a prickly thing.  Why not give this book a read and see how it turns out for Gabriella?

Like Clockwork: A Clare Hart Mystery by Margie Orford

Clare Hart is writing about human trafficking and is disgusted by the subject matter.  The fact that her twin was one of their victims and is alive but spiritually wounded makes the crime hit home for her.  It gets even closer when murdered young girls are turning up in her neighborhood.  Is it because of what she is writing about or has that crime reached the shores of her hometown?

Witness Impulse and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 22nd.  Check your local bookstore for a copy.

This story is set in Cape Town and Kate lives near Sea Point, where abused young girls bodies are showing up.  She and her police friend are desperate to stop the abuse and the murders and they work diligently on the case.  The problem is that the men they think maybe involved are in the upper leagues of money and have political influence, too.  They have to be cautious about how they phrase their questions and they'll have to have good proof to take them down.

Human trafficking is an ugly thing.  Even reading about it bothers me.  Clare is working against the clock.  Another victim has been kidnapped and she only has a small window of time to find her.  When she determines where she thinks she's being held, she goes in after her.  It's through underground tunnels (one of my fears) and when a madman is at the other end, it's very very dangerous.

This isn't a happily ever after type story.  It's a hard look at men, women, sex, and perversions.  My favorite part of this story is an odd twist at the end when one of the victims gets even with her sexual predator.  It's very ironic and a fitting injury for someone who can't control his desires.

This is a complex police procedural with unsettling details.  It kept my attention to the end.  It also brings a face to human trafficking.  This one will make you think.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Black Lotus by K'wan

Detective James Wolf's nickname is Lone Wolf.  There's a reason for that.  He doesn't like having a partner, he follows his own path, bends the law once in a while and he's champion for justice.  None of that makes the Internal Affairs Bureau happy.  They're just waiting for him to go off on a lost cause; they have plans to nail him once and for all.  So why would his boss take him off Narcotics to work on Homicide?  He's not a homicide detective...

Akashic Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this novella (thank you).  It will available May 27th, so make a note.

This case begins with the death of a priest.  It's an ugly death.  The only clues left behind are a boy's baseball cap and a black lotus flower.  Marx thinks it's the Brotherhood of Assassins; they'll kill anybody for enough money.  Wolf has quit paying attention already.  He realizes the people of the congregation include the family of a young boy that went missing and was never found again.  That's an old case of his and this gives him a new opportunity to talk to them.  He'd like to see that case closed.  He'll also ask them about the priest while he's there.

This is not the type of book I usually read but I really enjoyed this.  The Lotus Flower is young woman who was abused in life as a child.  Now she's a weapon who fights back for the defenseless.  She's mean, efficient, and lethal as hell.  She talks to my dark self.  I take glee in each pedophile she kills.

This is a relatively short story with lots of action and hard-core justice.  You can run, but you can't hide.  Just when you think you're safe, you're dead.

The Lone Wolf is still alive at the end, mostly because he has a sense of justice.  But so's the Black Lotus.  

Be careful what you do out there, folks.  You're being watched...

A Siege of Bitterns: A Birder Murder Mystery by Steve Burrows

Domenic Jejeune has just been appointed Police Inspector in their new home town, Saltmarsh.  He'd prefer to be a birdwatcher, but when you are naturally good at solving crimes you can't walk can away, can you?

Dundurn and Edelweiss allowed to me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 13th, so make a note. 

I chose this book for three reasons:  I like birding, I like learning about other countries and their environment, and I like meeting new crime detectives.  You learn a little bit about all of those by reading this story.

Domenic's first case here appears to be suicide.  However, the dead man is wearing odd clothing, chains, and has left no note behind.  Domenic's style is to use his brain to figure out why and how this happened.  (Similar to Christie's Poirot.)  While he's gathering hints and talking to everyone who knew the man, his partner is gathering evidence the old fashioned way:  Looking for it on the ground.

Domenic thinks he might have his killer figured out.  Imagine his astonishment when his suspected killer becomes the next victim!  He has two main players still left as suspects and he knows they are not telling the whole truth.  The professor is the hardest to crack, but he finally tells what he knows about the death.  Combined with that knowledge and the fact that the saltmarsh is dying from contamination,  Domenic is then willing to set a trap to see if his "bird" gets caught.

Domenic has to work with local politicians, gossip and innuendo, and move the lines of police work a little bit to solve this case.  I was surprised by the identity of the actual murderer.  This was a complex case of birders against industry, a bit of blackmail here and there, and a certain amount of apathy.  Following the line of inquiry took some doing, but Domenic made it.  Why not follow him on his journey and see how it turns it out?