Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goddess Fish Blog Tour with an Interview from Rebecca Lee Smith, author of A Shadow on the Ground

I'm pleased to present you with an interview done with Rebecca Lee Smith:


What is your least favorite word?
The word no.  I also think the word socket is pretty creepy—like an eye socket. Eeew.

What part of the writing process do you dread?
Plotting. It doesn’t come easy for me, and mysteries are tough. They have to keep the reader guessing and still be entertaining. All the loose ends have to be tied up, everything has to make sense,  and all the murder suspects must have a motive, means, and the opportunity to kill the victim. And if it’s a romance, two people have to fall in love.

What is your favorite Joke?
My favorite joke is way too dirty to tell. I love riddles and limericks. Here is the only limerick I can still remember that is not about a girl from Nantucket. Ahem…”There was an old man from Black Heath who sat on his set of false teeth. He cried with a start, oh, Lord, bless my heart. I’ve bitten myself underneath.”

Where do you get your best ideas?
I’m still trying to figure that out, so I can repeat the process at will. LOL I do think of things in the shower or right after I wake up in the morning when I’m lying in bed with my eyes shut, not sure if I’m dreaming or not.

What do you do to relax?
I pour a glass of chardonnay and veg out in front of the TV watching schlocky movies—Hallmark, Lifetime, TCM, and reality shows like Project Runway and Top Chef. Anything that turns my brain OFF. Two of my guilty pleasures are The Millionaire Matchmaker and Tabitha Takes Over. If I’m at the beach, I go up on the widow’s walk and watch the seagulls and pelicans. At night, I look at the stars and listen to the ocean. It’s one of my favorite places to be, and I can feel the tension slide away like magic.

I always think of authors being different from normal human beings.  Maybe it's because many of the famous authors were very eccentric, followed their own drummer, and often drank or did drugs excessively.  It's nice to see that Ms. Smith is another down-to-earth being, who just happens to write good stories.

Be sure to follow the tour and comment on the various blog posts.  The more you comment, the greater your chances of winning this prize:  One randomly chosen commenter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.  See the Blog Tour List here. 

Good luck and happy reading! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Gabriel’s Bride by Amy Lillard

Even the Amish can have marriages of convenience...

Net Galley and B & H Books gave me the chance to download and read this story for review (thank you).  It will be published February 1st.  If you enjoy Amish stories, you won't want to miss this one.  If you like sweet romances, this one fits that bill, too.

Rachel is an orphan who came to live with her aunt.  She's past the courting age since she put her aunt's health first.  She's OK with that.  When her aunt dies, she's resigned herself to selling her goat milk and cheese to keep her household going.  All those thoughts leave her head when she's informed her aunt took out a reverse mortgage and the home she grew up in no longer belongs to her.  Where will she go?

Gabriel has already had the love of his life and has five children to prove it.  He doesn't want a wife, but he's having trouble trying to cook, do the farm work and take care of the children.  He puts up an ad in town for a housekeeper, but no one applies.  When he hears about Rachel, he decides there's a way they can help each other.

She'll move in, take care of the house, food and children and sleep in his eldest daughter's room.  They agree, and life moves on.  So does the gossip.  They are finally pushed into marriage.  It's either that or she has to go to Ohio and live with her cousin.

They marry, but the challenges aren't through yet.  Gabriel has no plans to take her as his wife.  The children are setting her up by helping her burn the food she cooks, bringing dirt in the house, and scaring her with frogs and grasshoppers.  She hangs in there, but eventually decides she needs to leave.  Gabriel will never change and she's fallen in love with him.

When she's gone, Gabriel finally finds out about the mutiny by household, the fact that she has taught his youngest his letters and he can now to go to school, and more.  But he's so proud, he's refusing to after her...

This is a soft, sweet romance with two stubborn people.  I very much enjoyed this read.  Why not give it try?

Happy reading.

Ripper by Isabel Allende

It all starts with a group of teens who game online and a prophecy from a seer.  The seer says major bloodshed is ahead.  When people start dying, the gaming group "Ripper" decide to investigate from afar.

Harper and Edelweiss allowed me to download a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 28th, so make a note to grab a copy at your local bookstore.

Indiana and Amanda are mother and daughter.  Amanda is the game master and her Grandfather works with her on cases.  The other game players are disabled and bored and enjoy the games Amanda creates.  This case is real and it is even more important they are careful and precise with their investigation.

Indiana is a holistic healer who works in a building with other healers.  She's very good at what she does but she isn't so good with romance.  She's divorced, has two men interested in her, and isn't sure who she really loves except Amanda.

This story has everything in it.  A Navy Seal with PTSD, a rich man who has now lost his money, the holistic healer that is a bit hippie, the ex-husband is a cop, there is child abuse, several murders, and a murderer who has slipped between the cracks in the care system.  You have characters of all ages, all walks of life, and all working together to make things right.

The story is long (almost 500 pages) but it never gets boring and the story keeps moving along at a good pace.  It takes little pieces of information from here and there to connect the murders and come up with a suspect.  The search gets more frantic when Indiana is kidnapped.  Can anyone find her and stop her death?

You'll definitely remember this story after you've read it.  There was a lot there to take in and think about.

Happy reading.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Miss Emily by Burleigh Muten

Can you imagine living next door to Emily Dickenson?  Ms. Muten can and writes a fun tale that I highly recommend.

Candlewick and Net Galley allowed me download and read the ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published March 11th and you'll want to get a copy at your local bookstore.

Miss Emily appears to have quite an imagination and so do the children next door.  When she asks them to slither into the garden like slugs, they take her literally and slide in on their bellies!  She has a major announcement:  the circus is coming to town!  Would they like to sneak down and meet the train and see the animals that night?  Would they?  You can guess what the answer to that question is!

They go, they gaze with wonder, and they almost make it undetected.  But poor Max falls and hurts his ankle and the game is up.  Miss Emily takes all the blame.  He's to be laid up for weeks.  He doesn't mind missing school, but he'll miss the circus, too.  Max is sad...

This is a fun story with filled adventure, good spirits and whimsical illustrations that will make you smile.  Mr. Matt Phelan gets the feel of the time period and excitement of the children to come into picture just right.  Miss Emily with her turban and cape looks a lot different from the neighbor they usually see.

Fear not, Max gets to the circus.  And they do a show for Miss Emily to demonstrate what they saw.

There's a feel of classic tales in this story and the use of imagination is well demonstrated.  This is an enjoyable easy read that children will read again and again.  Just open the book and take a look; I'll bet you can't leave it there...

Happy reading.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

He's divorced and living alone when he hears a mournful keen outdoors.  He gets up, looks, and doesn't see anything.  Then he hears it again and realizes it's a bird.  A crane to be exact.  And it has an arrow in its wing.

The Penguin Press and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity read and review this ebook (thank you).  It will be published January 23rd, so make a note for a future bookstore stop.

This is written with the flavor of a Japanese fairy tale.  Besides the current story about George and his family, there is another tale within it.  That's a fairy tale about a crane and a volcano who are both in love with each other and hate each other.  The fairy tale sounds like a myth.  George sounds like a lonely man.

George owns a printing shop but he has a personal hobby.  He picks up old desecrated books and cuts them into pictures or animals or whatever they say to him.  He has no plans, he just begins cutting and then sees what emerges.  

When Kumiko walks into his shop, he has no idea his life is going to change.  She's a beautiful woman with artistic talent and she wants to create art with George.  He's amazed to be asked and is happy to work with her.  The tiles they create bring in a lot of money and he's dating Kumiko and all is good.

The ending is unusual and a bit of a mystery to me.  I understand that Kumiko was the crane and is part of the fairy tale but it also comes over into George's life and that gets a bit strange.  This is a fantasy that will stretch your mind.  It's interesting reading.

Happy reading.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Lion Who Stole My Arm by Nicola Davies

Pedru is a young man living in Africa and raising crops with his family.  They chase away the animals that threaten their crops and take care walking out in the dark.  There are predators for humans, too.  Pedru finds that out first hand when a lion leaps on him and tries to drag him off.  He hits the lion in the head with the stick in hand and the lion leaves.  Unfortunately, the lion takes his arm with him...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to download a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published February 25th, so make a note to pick it up then.

I liked the way Ms. Davies put her story together.  Pedru is afraid he won't be a great hunter or provider like his father since the loss of his arm, but he learns how to use it his remaining arm efficiently.  He's determined to kill the lion that hurt him, so he has to become more proficient with his spear.  

When another villager is killed, the hunters all go out to stop the animal from more carnage.  Pedru is allowed to go along.  They get the lion but it's not the one that attacked Pedru.  However, it has a tracking collar on it and that needs to be returned to the scientists.  Pedru volunteers.  While there, he learns about how the collars work, which lion must have attacked him, and why they attacked.  Before lions had simply been enemies.  Now he's understands a bit about their lives and why a human can become prey.  He still wants revenge, though.

When Pedru, the scientist and his father go out to bait the lion, revenge is all he can think about.  He waits impatiently for the lion to show.  He's the only one with a good position to kill.  No one says a thing; they just wait for him to make a decision.  Unexpectedly, he lets the lion live. With that action, he set his course for life.

It's a good read about a young man coming of age and deciding the world is big place and should have room for all the animals living there, human included.

Happy reading.

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

Alistair is good at keeping secrets.  Fiona wants someone to write her memoirs but doesn't want the truth getting out now, so she chooses Alistair to pen it.  Fiona either has a really good imagination or she's crazy...

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to download and read an ebook of this story (thank you).  It will be published March 18th, so make a note to check it out then.

This is a very strange story.  I kept trying to pick out the "bones" of the story and figure out what point the author was trying to make.  I'm still not sure what he was trying to accomplish.

Alistair has a very good friend named Charlie.  Charlie plays too many video games but he's always around and they have a good time together.  When Fiona approaches him and he starts spending time with her, Charlie doesn't like it.

Fiona has created her own little world.  It's an odd place where strange things happen and she swears she travels to it through a water passage down in the basement where the boiler is.  Alistair thinks it's a fantasy but then he begins to wonder.  There's such detail.  Fiona's home life is weird; maybe it's related to something happening there.

This story is for older readers.  There are cuss words, violence, sexual innuendo, dysfunctional families, and murder involved.  

At the end, I had too many questions.  There were quite a few issues unresolved.  It was suggested that Alistair had visited Fiona's world but it doesn't tell you why or what happened.  There were other revelations that just got left hanging.  I found myself unsatisfied by the read and wondering what I missed.  It could just be it wasn't my type of book.  I like things ticked and tied.

Tell you what, you read it and see what you think and then let me know.  Maybe with more than one reader, the fog will clear up.

Happy reading.

Friday, December 27, 2013

That Old Black Magic by Mary Jane Clark

Piper Donovan has won a wonderful trip to New Orleans where she will work with a great chef and show off her own cake making skills.  She's thrilled!  It's not quite as much a thrill, though, when the man who served her lunch the day before turns up dead in his shop.  Especially since he was disfigured after death with a whip...

William Morrow and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read and review this ebook (thank you).  It will be published January 21st, so check with your local bookstore for a copy then.

New Orleans is filled with atmosphere, old secrets, myths and legends.  Voodoo and Hoodoo are mentioned in this story.  You don't want to look too hard in the dark corners there.

You have a street jazz musician that knows all about the two different "doo" versions.  You have a radio show host who is going to lose his job unless he can find a good story.  You have a bartender who has huge medical bills for his disabled son.  You also have a nephew who thought he was inheriting and found out he's not.  And somewhere there is a killer who isn't planning on stopping until it's accomplished its goal.

Piper tries to stay out of it but the second man killed is the touchy-feely chef she's supposed to be learning from.  Having someone killed in the building you're living in is shocking.  So is having the cops eyeballing you for the murder.

I suspected several people of being involved, but I was wrong.  This was a good mystery as well as a nice look at New Orleans.  The city has its own culture and is a nice place to visit.  It wasn't hard to envision murder happening there, though.  It's like the city is on the edge of good and evil and anything can happen there.

Why not take an armchair visit to New Orleans and see if you are smarter than I am and pick the murderer before it's disclosed.  If you are, just gloat a bit and move on.  I don't need a comment on it.  (Just kidding...)

Happy reading.   

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

Flavia is an odd little girl.  She's 12, never knew her mother, and she loves chemistry.  She also prefers to be alone in her "den of chemistry".  She has older sisters but she's not close to them.  She's content in her life.  But now they are bringing her missing mother home and things are about to change...

Delacorte Press and Net Galley allowed me to download a copy of the ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published January 14th, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

The whole story is based around her mother's arrival home and the mourning at their house before burial.  She died in snow and ice and her body has been transported in dry ice.  Bringing her body home brings a lot of other people around and one of them is a killer.

Flavia's chemical knowledge is daunting.  She figures out how to process old film, which she found in the attic.  On that film, she sees her mother alive and well.  It's eerie and she's amazed at how much they look alike.  For a while she contemplates trying to raise her mother to life with her chemical knowledge, but circumstances prevent that (thank goodness).  

Flavia marches along to a drummer only she hears and manages to find her mother's will, learn family secrets and to unmask the killer.  It appears she may be growing up to be just like her mother.

The story is relatively fast paced despite the funeral mourning and there are many plot strings to be tied together to figure out the plot.  Young readers should enjoy reading about this unusual and irrepressible character.  She's a holly terror on a mission!

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway

Pigsticks has made up his mind;  he's going to explore.  It's a family tradition.  His only problem is that the supplies he wants to take are very heavy.  He's going to have to find an assistant.

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read the book of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published May 27, 2014, so make a note to look for it at your local bookstore then.

Pigsticks is full of himself.  He imagines himself as a great explorer, but he brings along a lot of things he doesn't need.  The only reason he ends up hiring Harold the hamster is because he's strong and he's willing to work for cakes.  If he thought it through, he might have realized that Harold can eat a lot of cake...

They start their great journey with plenty of tea cakes and go on through forest, desert, mountains and more.  The biggest trouble they have is with mountain goats.  Did you know they like to eat tea cakes too?

This is a cute tale with odd creatures and a search for the Ends of the Earth.  Why not get a cookie and some milk and take a tour with Pigsticks and Harold?

Happy reading.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Imagine a world divided by day and night:  Day people have more privileges than Night people and are considered smarter.  It's almost impossible to change from a Night to a Day.  Most Day people have no desire to be a Night person, but there are always exceptions.

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley allowed me to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published April 8th, 2014, so make a note on your TBR list.

Sol is a night person and perfectly happy to be.  She has her grandfather who has raised her with love and hugs and her brother.  Life is good until they take her brother away.  Now her grandfather is dying and he wants to see her brother's baby, his great grandchild.  She's determine to make that happen.  And how she goes about it sets the dominoes falling.

Sol smashes the end of her finger to create a reason to visit the hospital.  Once there, she intends to snatch the baby and take it home for her grandfather to see.  His dying wish matters to her more than her finger.  But she didn't expect the physician apprentice to turn her in to the guards...

This is a fascinating story.  Sol ends up meeting all types of people in her journey to grant her grandfather's wish.  She even finds her lost brother but she's not enthused about that.  He's gone to the other side.  The tale is complicated, has lots of nuances and politics plays a part.  The story is busy, fast-paced and there are dysfunctional parents everywhere.  Sol meets the love of her life and must leave him behind because he's a Day person.  But I have hope that there might be a sequel.  I don't see the story as ended yet.  Sol is smarter than that, her brother is no dummy, and her lover wants her back.  If nothing else, Sol can say that she did it her way, hard as that might be.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fake ID by Lamar Giles

This time his name is Nick Pearson.  It's not, but it will have to do.  Being in the witness protection program means you don't have your own life anymore.  You have a fake one...

Harper Collins and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published January 21st, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Being in the program is hard.  It's worse when your Dad won't behave himself and they have to keep leaving the identities they hid behind for parts unknown.  Where they are now is their last chance, and his Dad can't screw up again.

His worst challenge is school and trying to make friends.  Can he trust anyone?  He doesn't want to like anyone because he knows it all may be temporary.  If it's not, he's living a lie so how can he have a relationship? His family life is difficult.  There's been too much change, too much running and nobody is comfortable with the roles they have to play.  This felt quite real to me.  Life is hard enough with this additional stress.

When he finds a classmate dead in the journalism office, he knows the plot that Eli was talking about might very well be real.  But he only knows part of it, and he fears he might be in danger, too.

With all the undercover antics and more people in town knowing he was in the witness protection program than should, I expected the killer to be one of them.  I was amazed at who it was and how it turned out; the author got me on this one.

This has been written for young adults and is fast paced, full of action, and keeps your attention.  No one will fall asleep reading this story.  They might find themselves looking over their shoulders though...

Happy reading.

Gold Web: A Klondike Mystery by Vicki Delany

Dawson City is just being developed in 1898, and Fiona is running the most popular saloon.  She has dancers, a big bar, card games, and singers to entertain her guests.  She doesn't want trouble in her establishment.  She was on the street when trouble found her...

Dundurn and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  The book will be published January 21st, so make a note to get a copy then.  This is also the fourth book in the series, so you could pick up the earlier ones to read now if you wish.

A man falls into Fiona as she is walking home and literally dies at her feet.  All he says is her last name and the name of a major battle in Scotland that happened years and years ago.  She doesn't know him, doesn't know why he was looking for her, or what he wanted.  

This was interesting read.  Everyone seems to be something other than what they really are.  Fiona senses this may have something to do with her past and she doesn't want anyone to know about that.  The story has big plots, little plots, and miscellaneous happenings all tying together and creating a web of mystery that captures all the major players in town.  Even the dance hall girls get involved.

As you wade through the facts and try to decide which ones matter, Fiona steps carefully and hopes that nothing will ruin her life here with her son.  She's got her eye on Corporal Sterling and gets jealous when he starts taking the female photographer out to show her the town.  Every time he gets Fiona alone and tries to tell her something, they get interrupted.  I sure hope he spits out in the next book; I want this relationship to go somewhere!

With a mix of politics of all types and the normal odd characters of Dawson, you'll find yourself caught up in the tale and rooting for Fiona.  Ms. Delany makes her someone we can admire.  I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hit Me (Keller #5) by Lawrence Block

Keller was retired and meant to be a good husband and father living a regular life.  But the economy tanked...

Mr. Block sent me a complimentary copy of his ebook (thank you).  It has been published by Mulholland Books, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

I never wanted to see Keller retire.  He's an odd creature who killed people and then "erased" the photo of them from his brain.  He never felt bad, it was just a job.  A job that paid well, grant you.  And when he decided to leave it, he didn't regret it.  However, being Nicholas Edward and refurbishing and revitalizing houses in New Orleans was a good career until the funding sources dried up.  He didn't really need more money, they could get by.  But he didn't like being bored.  And, then one day, he gets a phone call.

Dot had retired, too.  But some of her old friends had found her again and she had a job if he had a desire.  He was surprised to find he did.  He may be a married man with a child, but his old job was a challenge and gave him a spark of life he couldn't find elsewhere.

Watching where Mr. Block takes him, learning more about stamps, and even adding his wife to the cruise ship trip makes interesting reading.  I wonder if he will leave Keller now or continue this series, maybe with his wife more involved.  Who knows what the author has bubbling in the brain box he's got?  We'll just have to wait and see what comes next.  In the meantime, here's a good read to keep you busy now.

Happy reading.

Absolution by Marcus Ward

How would you handle it if a moment of road rage suddenly turned you into a hero?  Would you tell them the truth about how you got involved?

The author sent me a copy of this novella to read for review (thank you).  It's available on Amazon now as an ebook and is a quick read with lots of impact.

Josh just can't handle this guy trying to cut him off on the freeway, so he sets him up for an impossible position, where he will have to back off and wait.  Unfortunately, the guy is moving too fast and over-reacts.  The next thing that happens is another car gets clipped and goes completely off the bridge.  It gets caught in the power lines and has a mother and small child in it.  The fire and police units can't get close enough to help due to the traffic backup on the bridge.  What's one to do?

This part presses credibility a bit, but Josh saves them.  And that's when his nightmare begins.  The insurance company is threatening him, another driver claims to have a video of what actually happened and someone seems to be trying to kill him.  If that wasn't enough, his marriage is falling apart and he has a strange fascination with the woman he saved.

For a short story, this is a tangled web with lots of pyschological problems.  It was an interesting read and had me sitting here thinking a bit when I was done.  Mr. Ward has taken a simple car accident and turned it into a story of intrigue and attempted murder.  I like what's he's done.  Why don't you give it a try?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust

Piper has a dream; she's going to own the best spice shop ever and be a very successful business person.  Her grand opening is coming up and she has an excellent chef scheduled to do a cooking demonstration that day.  She's nervous and not sleeping well in anticipation of the big day when she hears a dog crying.  She can't stand that, so she gets up to find out what's going on.  The dog is injured; the chef's door is open.  It shouldn't be at that time of night.  She should have just called the police...

St. Martin's Press and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It was published December 17th, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a new series and I like it.  It's great fun and has nice mix of brave women, a handsome police chief and discussions about the use of spices.

Piper goes in to see if her friend is OK and finds him dead on the floor.  The silly girl picked up the knife on the way in because he was famous for throwing utensils at those he argued with.  She had no idea it was the murder weapon.  Oops...

Piper does NOT like being a suspect, so she gets her best girlfriend to work with her on "detecting".  Reading how they do a "stakeout" will make you laugh.  P. I.'s they're not.  They don't seem to be closing in on the murderer, but they sure are frustrating the police chief.  He tries hard to get Piper to back off.  Stubborn women don't listen to men.  Of course, her ex-husband has something to do with that.

You have the ex butting in, the mother-in-law still hanging around, the daughter that uses both parents against each other and a budding romance with the new police chief.  I enjoyed the story, the humor, and the silliness of some of the situations.  How do you tell your ex-mother-in-law you don't want your spices in alphabetical order?

I'm already looking forward to the next one in this series.  Piper is just getting started!

Happy reading.

Lying Dead (DI Marjory Fleming #3) by Aline Templeton

When a teenage boy riding a mountain bike has the misfortune to hit a rock, fall off and almost land on a body, DI Fleming is called out.  It appears it's murder.  Who is she and how did she get here?

Witness Impulse and Edelwiess let me download a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published February 11th, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

DI Fleming has found things a bit colder around her since the hoof and mouth disease went through.  She was in a position of authority and had to enforce the law.  The fact that she was there while the animals were being put down gave the local folks a person to blame.  It was a disease, it was a law, but she was human and they could hate her.

While they try to determine the woman's identity, Marjory again has to deal with the people of her town.  Many aren't saying much.  Those who do talk might not be telling the truth.

Ms. Templeton writes a good mystery but they are very wordy.  She gives you a complete background on characters and a great description of the land and community.  I'd like a bit less description and more action, but when the action comes, the pages turn fast enough.

Everybody had something to hide.  There are affairs, lost love, lost hope and greed all mixed about in the town.  Every question she asks purses someone's lips and many of the answers are false.  Marjory keeps digging, but she knows the further she goes, the less she will be liked.

The ending surprised me.  I had no idea who the killer was.  Also, I want to put the author on notice that she cannot let Tam die.  She makes you care about her characters and then does a nasty thing to one.  It made me want to doctor that part of the story.  

Why don't you read this story and see how you feel about it?  If you agree with me, drop me a comment on here and we can commiserate.

Happy reading.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Malicious Mischief (A Rylie Keyes Mystery #1) by Marianne Harden

Rylie is hung over, late on her errands, and the weather sucks.  Then a van runs her off the road.  If that's not bad enough, she finds a dead senior in one of the garbage bags she's transporting.  She drives the van for the seniors, but she doesn't kill them.  Who hated Otto enough to kill him?

Entangled Publishing sent me a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  You can get it in ebook or print, check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Rylie has a revolving resume; she's not good at keeping a job.  She doesn't want to lose this one or she'll end up losing the family home she lives in.  While Otto was obnoxious and most everyone disliked him for some reason, why would anyone kill him?

If you've never been around a nursing home, this story might be an enlightening read.  Folks may be elderly and need medication but it doesn't mean they don't like sex.  Even if those who are much younger don't even want to know about it.  And dear ole Otto was right in the middle of the good times.  Of course, there's much more going on, not only in the nursing homes but the residences.  And Rylie has to try to wade through the mess to find the truth.

There's also the matter of romance at hand.  She's always had a soft spot for the cop but they're trying to move on.  That's easier said than done.  And having a younger woman trying to romance him makes her jealous.  

This story is a big bugaboo pot of everything from Nazis to Nazi hunters to horny old women and greed.  With no end of suspects and a lot of undercover activity, it takes Rylie a bit to get to the truth.  And it's a good read on the way.

Happy reading.

The Crooked Spire by Chris Nickson

The year is 1361 and Black Death has crossed the land.  John is an orphan, who's only real skill in life is being able to "feel" wood and knows instinctively how to cut the wood and what it's best used for.  This skill gets him a job at the church.  It also leads him into murder...

Mr. Nickson gave me a copy of this ebook to read for review (thank you).  The book has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

John goes to work early one morning and finds the foreman dead on the floor of the church.  He becomes a suspect because he is alone when he finds the body and there's no one else around.  This concerns him enough that he becomes a bit careless at work and ends up breaking his arm.  There's no way to know yet if this ends his career but it certainly ends his current job.

I like the way Mr. Nickson fleshed out this story.  He starts with a lone male who meets a young man and chats with him a bit.  He goes to the house the boy has recommended and rents a room from the widow.  The widow befriends him and so do other members of the village.  He even gets to do some work on the case since he's unemployed at the moment.  

The time period the story is set in is interesting.  Laws and rules were different then.  Family life is poor.  But most people are happy despite that.  It's the greedy ones that cause the problems.

When John finds himself in danger because of the questions he's asking, his position becomes tenuous.  How can he find out who the murderer is without offending those in power?  And will his new romance with the young man's sister survive if he can't work again?

I enjoyed this story.  I also see that it's the first book in a new series.  I'll be watching for more.  The author made me like his characters and I want to watch them develop.  Life is not easy, but when is it ever?

Happy reading.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail Written by Richard Peck Read by Russ Bain

He's a small little mouse with no name that lives at the Royal Palace.  He tries very hard to do his best but always seems to be lacking something.  For instance, he can't remember half the palace rules.  And school bores him.  But sneaking out to have an adventure turns out to be a most unpleasant experience and puts him danger.  What now?

Random House Audio sent me an audio of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can pick it up wherever audio books are sold.  It's 3 1/2 hours of audio CD listening and is appropriate for middle schoolers (and adults like that like children's books).

For one thing, he was dressed when one of the princesses sees him and almost falls from her horse on him.  You're never to wear clothes or stand on two legs when being around humans.  Mouse Minor (his school nickname) can't go back there either; he's failed in his courses.  Help comes from a very unexpected source:  the barn cat takes mercy on him and hides him in the horse stall in the hay.  Peg, the horse, decides he likes him.  The first thing he does is take him for a ride.  However, that doesn't turn out well.  When Peg flicks his ear to flirt with the little filly going by, that flips Mouse Minor out on the bushes.  Oh, no!

Mouse Minor must have had an animal god looking after him because his adventures just increase and get more dangerous.  Each one gets to be an even greater challenge until he actually has an audience with Queen Victoria!  His adventure isn't done there, though.  He now has to find the mouse queen and meet with, Queen Victoria tells him so.

These adventures are great fun and with a little imagination you can how this small mouse is overwhelmed by how big the world is.  I enjoyed this one. Mr. Bain has a nice English accent that makes you feel like you're hanging out at the Royal castle, too.  

Why not share this audio book with your family; it's sure to make them smile.

Happy listening.

Down and Out in Bugtussle: The Mad Fat Road to Happiness by Stephanie McAfee, Cassandra Campbell (Narrator)

Ace finds out "happy ever after" is not easy to accomplish.  She thought she had it all and moved to Florida, had a beautiful home, owned her own art gallery and loved her man.  Or at least she thought she did.  When it didn't work out, she comes back home to Bugtussle and Grandma Jone's house.  She'll lick her wounds there and look for at least peace if not happiness.

Tantor and Edelweiss sent me a copy of this audio book for review (thank yoU).  It's 8 CD's and plays for ten hours, unabridged.  You can find a copy of it wherever audio books are sold.

This is chick lit.  I might mention the chicks are irreverent, loud-mouthed, and not at all politically correct.  Whatever you do, don't piss them off or you'll get put down like everything.  And if you don't like the mention of sex, this book isn't for you either.

Ace is snarky, fights back, tries to help and defend her friends, and also tries to solve a mystery of the past.  You see, Grandma Jones had some secrets.  The old ladies in the gardening club might enlighten her, but does she really want to know?  When she finds out, she wishes she could put that knowledge back in the box.  The plants and trees in the backyard were planted for the loss of a family member.  The extra trees were men close to Grandma.  Oh my...

Grandma was a widow, but Ace and her friends are just scandalized by the fact the old folks have sex.  (Yes, it's true.)  Another message in this book is how hard it is to serve your country and leave your loved ones behind. (That's true, too.)

Ace is not a quiet girl and her adventures continue from day to day.  This is almost like an audio soap opera.  If you feel like listening to a wild and crazy girl in a small town, this your audio book.  Ms. McAfee keeps it interesting and Ms. Campbell narration is entertaining.  Why not get a copy and see for yourself?

Happy listening.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Do you need one more Christmas gift?  How about a copy of this brand new shiny edition of the Grinch's story?  The cover is a brilliant red (not orange like the picture) with vibrant green, which is very attractive.

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

I can't imagine anyone not knowing all about the Grinch at this point in time.  6.6 million copies of this book have been sold, there's a movie out, and there are greeting cards with his face on it.  To me, it's a classic Christmas story.  You read this to your young one and soon they will be reading it to you.  In some families, it's become part of their Christmas tradition.  

Why not replace your worn copy with this lovely new edition?  And, if there is a family member that hasn't been introduced to the Grinch, here's a perfect opportunity to fix that.  Share the magic of Christmas with your little one!

Happy reading.

Let It Snow by Erica Ridley

Lance Desmond has a problem.  He's an adventurer who travels the world and lives large.  Unfortunately, he's lived so large that someone has put a bounty of his head.  His only hope is to get enough money to buy his freedom.  But where?

Net Galley and the author allowed me to read an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It's available both as an ebook and as a print book.  Check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Lance is willing to chance his life for the reward he needs.  After all, just being alive is a chancy thing right now.  So he heads out to Castle Cavanaugh.  The castle is icebound.  All those that go after the treasure never return, but he's going.  When his friend in crime gives him an odd necklace to wear to keep him safe, he thinks it's useless.  He appreciates the thought, though and wears it.

When he finally manages to breach the castle doors and get inside, the treasure he finds is not what he was expecting.  There is one person in the castle.  It's an attractive medieval Princess.  She's stuck in time and she knows her time with Lance will be short.  The magic of the castle stops interlopers short and she can't fix it, nor can she leave the castle.  He's a non-believer until he sees that the figurines on the Christmas tree are all people.  People who used to be alive.

Midnight is the witching hour.  He can't get out.  What can he do to pass the time and make his last moments worthwhile?  Oh yeah, there's a princess...

I enjoyed this read.  It's not a traditional fairy tale and I couldn't be sure how this one might end.  I can tell you that Lance and the princess had a good time, but will they ever get out of the castle?

Happy reading.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Back to Christmas by Dennis Canfield

Now this is a different Christmas story, very different.  I like it.  The Krumwerth family is just about to hit their third year of naughty on Santa's list.  If they get marked again as a negative family, they'll be subject to acting like Grinches on Christmas.  And it will get worse each year...

Smith Publicity let me download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It was published November 30th, so you can buy in ebook, print book or audio book form.

Marmel the elf has been in charge of the Christmas list of naughty and nice for years.  After all, he's had 107 years to do this job.  The fact that he might be losing his own Christmas spirit is unthinkable.  However, Santa is beginning to wonder.  So he sends him to the South Pole and RC.  RC is Reverse Claus, you see.  He wears green.  His flight crew is penguins instead of reindeer.  And he helps with impossible causes.

The Krumwerth family has done what many families have done now.  They each do their own thing and ignore each other.  They all have electronic devices they can't live without.  And Christmas is just one more holiday to get through.  This year it's going to be a lot harder to get through than they can imagine...

Marmel really doesn't want to help them; he thinks they deserve their punishment.  The fact that he's losing more spirit by the minute and might be an outcast elf having to live in the real world is a threat, but he doesn't think it applies to him.  Wrong...

The Krumwerth's are stubborn and don't want to change either.  One disaster after another really doesn't leave them any choice.  But will it be enough?

I enjoyed reading this.  It's a good Christmas fantasy that ends happy ever after.  Reading it out loud a bit before Christmas would be fun.  The audio book would be great fun to listen to, I'm sure.  Mr. Canfield put enough characters in here to have lots of different voices on the audio.

Why not work on getting your Christmas spirit back, too?

Happy reading.

The Christmas Angel by Jim Cangary

For some people, Christmas can be a melancholy holiday.  If you recently lost loved ones, it’s a hard time to get through that first Christmas after the loss.  It’s a good thing Kaitlin has Dani for a friend.  She’s taking her to the parade; there’s no time to mope…

Mr. Cangany writes a type of sweet old fashioned romance that I really enjoy.  While his story is short, it’s long enough to develop an interest between two lonely people.  You never know where you find true love…

When the spot that is “theirs” is taken by some college boys from out of town, Kaitlin isn’t sure what to do.  Dani doesn’t slow down.  Good-looking men means she’ll have a good time!  When Kaitlin catches up and gets introduced, she lets Dani dominate the men.  Dani is a beautiful blonde; she’s just a plain vanilla brunette.  However, there’s a guy there that seems a bit outside of his group of friends, too.  When they chat, they find they have things in common.

Kaitlin has an angel pin that has been handed down to the females in her family.  Since her parent’s death, she’s had it in a jewelry box.  She’s wearing it today and shows it to him.  The author uses this pin to help bring the two together again.  Mr. Cangany uses the magic of Christmas, an angel, and a mutual attraction to cement this story together.  Its flows well, made me smile, and left me hoping I can find some more of his work.

If you need something to read during the hustle and bustle of the holidays to calm you down and get you back in the spirit, this is the story for you.  If you’re alone and need a friend, this story will help that, too.  Why not give it a read?