Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious meets two new students at school and finds out they are brother and sister.  She visits their home which is small but filled with love.  She meets Teb's meerkat pet, Kosi, and the rest of his family.  When the children tell her their cow has gone missing, guess who's going to help them find her?

Anchor Books sent me a copy of this to read for review (thank you).  The book was published in October, so you can check with your local bookstore for a copy.  This is the second story in this series, so look for the other one if you're planning on giving it as a gift.  That'll be twice as much joy for the recipient!

I am so very glad that Mr. Smith has started writing Precious Ramotswe mysteries for children.  I just love the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency stories and these are just as much fun, but about Precious' childhood.

As usual, Precious searches for clues and asks a lot of questions.  As she and her friends track the cow down, they are very proud of themselves for finding her.  There's one problem, though.  She's joined a herd of cows that belong to two other farmers.  They are taking theirs to market.  They ask them to "prove" she's their cow.  Uh oh...

The solution to this problem includes the meerkat and is very original.  Mr. Smith always makes his stories fun.

The story comes with a teacher's/reader's guide and a recipe for fat cakes (Botwanan doughnuts).  What more could you want?

Also, if you haven't read the adult series I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you should.  You're missing out on some good reading.

Jinx's Magic by Sage Blackwood

It's bad enough having magic when it's forbidden.  It's even worse when you don't know how to handle it...

Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss allowed me to download a copy of this ebook to read for review (thank you).  The book will be on sale January 7th, so check with your local bookstore then.  If you haven't read Jinx yet, I recommend you do.  It's a delightful book and is the first in this series.

The Wizard Simon is supposed to be teaching Jinx how to use his magic.  The fact that Simon isn't the best wizard doesn't help.  Nor does the fact that Jinx's magic seems to be drawn from the trees.  That's not how it's supposed to work!

The Bonemaster has been warded into his castle and is out of the picture for most of the story, but danger is still around and he escapes.  He also captures Simon again.

This tale talks to me because Jinx has a relationship with the trees.  He's trying to save them from the woodcutters (which is almost impossible just like in Amazon forests now).  He has a talking werewolf friend, which is also impossible.  He also has a love interest, even if she isn't interested in him.  When Simon gets captured by the Bonemaster again, he's going to have to save him.  What he doesn't realize is just how difficult that is going to be.  Everyone he used to depend on isn't there anymore.  He's not doing well at making new friends.  Life is tough when you're an apprentice wizard.  Jinx doesn't give up, though...

The book was also excellent and I'm anxious to read the next in the series.  Jinx is different from the others.  I'm wondering just how different and what that means for him.  I'm also hopeful the next book might get us closer to that answer.

Happy reading.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fireflies By Coleen Paratore

Do you have an aspiring writter in your household?  Might it be you???

Little Pickle Press and Edelweiss shared this ebook with me for review (thank you).  It will be published the first of January, so make a note to pick it up then at your local bookstore or pre-order a copy.

Once, about fifty years ago, I took a Creative Writing class.  I did it because I needed another English credit but it made an impact on me that hasn't gone away since.  I'd never even thought about taking an idea or a vision I had in my head and making a story out of it.

You can't take Miss Dennison's class but you have a unique opportunity to open your mind to new ideas of how to write.  Ms. Paratore's manta is write, write, write.  Make a note of ideas, events, things that impacted you, things that interest you, anything that might work its way into a story.  Then write!

Writing gives me freedom to express my thoughts about books.  I don't want to write a story, although that has worked out well for Neil Gaiman.  It really matters not what you write or who you write it for.  It's just another way to be creative and enjoy life.

Why not follow along with the hints in this notebook and see how you do?  I bet you'll be amazed at the results!

Happy reading and writing!

The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

Uncle Henry sends a strange, encoded message to Wade's Dad which has Wade and his three friends curious.  That curiosity turns to horror when they go to visit Uncle Henry and find out he's died recently... 

Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss let me download an ebook of this story for review (thank you).  It will be published January 7th, so add it to your TBR list.

This story reminds me a bit of the Percy Jackson series.  There's international travel, hidden artifacts, thugs after them and a woman who is almost immortal who will do anything to get the prizes before they do.

If your young reader likes intrigue, action, suspense, tension and danger, this is the book for them.  Wade's Dad is traveling with them and almost dies.  The children are challenged beyond usual childhood dangers.  And it has a cliff hanger ending.  The evil woman has lost another battle with them and she intends to use Wade's Mom as a pawn in this game of chess.

I hate cliff hangers but it is an effective technique to get you to read this next book in this series.  I'm sure this will be a popular series with young readers.  And maybe even some of their parents...

Happy reading.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Awesome Possum Family Band by Jimmy Osmond

What do you do when you're the only family member who really can't play an instrument?  Everyone else is in the band.  Possum Number Nine is so discouraged...

Regnery Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be available next May, so make a note on your TBR list.

This is a cute little book about the small possum who wants so badly to join the band.  He tries playing all kinds of instruments, making signs, and anything else that the others do, all to no avail.  His family encourages him and tells him to find out what he CAN do and it will all work out.

One thing he can do is sing.  He likes to sign along with songs.  And guess what?  That will work great with the band!

What touched me the most about this story is not only the encouraging family but the fact that Jimmy Osmond wrote the story.  It mimics his family life in a way.  The Osmond's all sang and Jimmy was Possom Number Nine.  

Why not share this sweet story with your little one and emphasize there is always a way to reach your goal if you try and stay true to yourself.  That's an important lesson in life.

Happy reading.

Thunderstone by Barbara Pietron

Jeni and her family go to Lake Itasca in Minnesota for vacation.  They have rented a cabin and intend to hike, sight see, and sit around campfires at night.  Jeni is bored before she gets there and hates having her boy cousin around.  He teases her and she doesn't care for it.  It's all going as she thought until she buys this odd little figurine at the local tourist shop.  A very good looking Indian boy wants to buy it back, but she doesn't want to sell it.  What's that all about?  She's going to find out...

Scribe and Net Galley allowed me to download an ebook of this story and read it for review (thank you).  It was published November 12th, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now. 

I enjoy reading about Indian mythology and this story has a tale about a god/monster from the past who needs to stay locked away.  The problem is that Jeni slips on the way home and falls into the lake with the figurine in her pocket.  That awakens the evil god who loves to kill.

She meets a shaman and the young man who is his apprentice and finds out she just may be the only one who can stop this monster.  She doesn't want to be involved, but she has no choice.  She also didn't intend to fall in love this trip but it seems to be happening.

The story is full of danger as well as action and it holds your attention.  This is written for young adults but I found it interesting and entertaining.  If you enjoy stories about Indian mythology, you'll enjoy this no matter what age you are.  And, if you have a young adult reader, this is a busy enough story to keep them reading.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mister October, Volumes I and II edited by Christopher Golden

This anthology is a two volume set written by friends of Rick Hautala.  Mr. Hautala had an untimely death and this set is a tribute to who he was and his talents.  There are some well-known authors and others I didn't recognize but this whole effort contains horror stories that will stick in your mind, as well as help his family out with the sales proceeds.

Library Thing and Journal Stone allowed me to read these as ebooks (thank you).  They were published October 31st, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

From Christopher Golden: “On March 21st,2013, I received a phone call from Holly Newstein telling me that her husband, Rick Hautala, had suffered amassive heart attack. That piece of information shocked me into a surreal sort of panic, so much so that at first Icould not make the leap to the next thing she said…that he had died. It seemed impossible. Rick had been such a good friend, such a consistent and stable force in my life, that the idea of him being so suddenly removed from this world…I just couldn’t make sense of it.  I have no doubt that readers will treasure this two volume set. It is my hope that as you read, you will ruminate a little bit about the man for whom we all have come together within these pages. And I hope you’ll urge others to pick up their own copies of MISTER OCTOBER as well.”

This is an amazing group of short stories that grabbed my attention and kept me reading.  I read both volumes in one day and that's not usual.  With names like Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker, I knew someone would be messing with my head as I read these.  Quite a few of the stories were like that.  Happy ever after is not the theme in horror stories.  The best part is that the sale of this book is not only going to get you some good stories to read, it's also going to help the family.

Here's a list of the stories available in the two volumes:

Contributors: Volume I
UNDER THE PYLON ‐ Graham Joyce
A GUY WALKS INTO A BAR ‐ Matthew Costello
FIGURES IN RAIN ‐ Chet Williamson
AS YOU HAVE MADE US ‐ Elizabeth Massie
NEVER BACK AGAIN ‐ Matti Hautala
A GIRL, SITTING ‐ Mark Morris
BLOOD BROTHERS ‐ Richard Chizmar
CRAVING ‐ Yvonne Navarro
lXCHEL’S TEARS ‐ José R. Nieto
LIFE DURING DEATH ‐ Duane Swierczynski
OVERNIGHT GUEST ‐ Craig Shaw Gardner
CRASHING DOWN ‐ Weston Ochse

Contributors: Volume II
TOM REQUIEM ‐ Clive Barker
LUX ET VERITAS ‐ Thomas F. Monteleone
DEVOTION ‐ J. F. Gonzalez
INN CLEANING ‐ Stephen R. Bissette
BREATHE MY NAME ‐ Christopher Golden
JOHNSTOWN ‐ Brian Keene
ROAD KILL (A Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. story) ‐ Kevin J. Anderson
CATFISH GAL BLUES ‐ Nancy A. Collins
HOTLINE ‐ Jack Ketchum
WAR STORIES ‐ James A. Moore
IT’S… ‐ Amber Benson
KRISTALL TAG ‐ Holly Newstein
GHOST TRAP ‐ Rick Hautala

If you have an interest in short stories, horror stories or just helping people, this set is for you.  Why not grab a set for you and set aside some time for reading?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Feral Child by Che Golden

She sneaks in on forbidden ground and almost gets stolen by a faerie.  He's not giving up, though.  She finds him outside her window, but she won't go.  Imagine her horror when he steals the little boy next door...

Quercus and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It won't be publishing until June 3rd, 2014, but if you or someone in your family loves magic and faeries, you need to get a copy of this one.

Maddy's parents died in an unfortunate accident and she is now living with her grandparents in Ireland.  Her cousin, Danny, is mean and mouthy and doesn't want her to be around.  She doesn't want to be around either, she liked London and the activities there.  This small town has nothing to keep her busy and her grandparents don't understand her.  She's also mourning her parents heavily and just doesn't care much about life anymore. That's part of what makes her attractive to the faeries.  If she doesn't care about living, she'll make a good slave for them.

She goes in to the forbidden castle grounds one night after a fight with her grandparents.  The feral boy who tries to keep her there scares her, but her grandfather seems unconcerned about it.  When the little boy next door is stolen in the night, no one will hunt for him either.  And when he's returned home, its not him:  It's a changeling.

No one believes her, no one is willing to help, so she's going after him by herself.  Except she's followed by Danny and a friend of hers, which doesn't make her happy.  Before she's through, she'll be glad she had them, though.

This is a typical faerie world where lies flow as free as truth, temptations are great and it's almost impossible to escape.  Maddy and her friends have the hounds after them and it's a battle to the finish.

I read this one quickly because it's action driven and has old lore in it.  I also enjoyed it.  Why don't you give it a try?

Chain Reaction by Diane Fanning

An elderly couple was out for their Sunday morning constitutional when their walk took them by the school and, just as they walked up, it blew up!

Severn House and Net Galley allowed me to read this in ebook form for review (thank you).  It will be published March 1, 2014.  Add it to your TBR list for next year, it's worth a read.

Lucinda Pierce is a local cop.  Her lover, who would like to be her husband, is an FBI agent.  They both head out to the bomb blast but it's not long until Homeland Security shows up.  Working with three agencies is hard enough, but the Homeland Security guy is nuts.

Having worked for a municipality in the past where we had to work with a neighboring city and the county, I know about turf battles and wars over who's the boss.  Throw in an insane agent, a manipulative killer, and horny high school boys and you've got a real mess.

This is complicated plot with lots of misdirection and perpetual fights over whose case it was.  The locals don't give up, but they have to investigate discreetly.

I found myself really getting angry at the person who caused all the trouble and tried to wiggle out of it.  A person of authority is supposed to be a role model, not a person of low morals and a liar.  Some people deserve to be locked up.

The story line keeps you busy, and you want to shake Lucinda and say:  "Marry Jake, you fool!"  We'll have to read the next book in the series to see how that goes.  I'll be doing that because I like how these two cops work together and Ms. Fanning always creates interesting cases.

Happy reading

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry

Being a privateer means you follow the rules and have a license to pick up cargoes from non-Jovian ships you can outmaneuver.  Tycho's grandfather is real disappointed they aren't called pirates anymore.

Harper Collins and Edelweiss allowed me to download a copy of the ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published December 23rd, so keep an eye out for it.  This is the beginning of a new series and it has a lot of potential.

Tycho and his sister Yana are twins.  Carlo is their older brother.  All three are vying to become the next captain of their ship.  When their mother, the current captain, steps down, one of them of will be picked.  But only one.  The others will remain as support staff.  As you can guess, all three want to be captain!

This is written for middle graders and is full of action, danger, and espionage.  It will keep them reading and wondering what will happen and how it will all turn out.

This is a good space fantasy that's lots of fun to read.  I'll be watching for more in the series.  I can tell life is going to get even more dangerous and the tests for the aspiring captains are going to get tougher.  It's not a boring series.

Happy reading.

Death's Dark Shadow by Sally Spencer

Monika Paniatowski is a good cop but her boss is a pain.  When she finds a dead woman by the canal and finds out she's a foreigner, he forbids her to track down her history by visiting the country.  She has to work with what she has.  Frustrated, she calls an old friend...

Severn House and Net Galley let me download a copy of this ebook to read for review (thank you).  The book will be published March 1st, 2014, so make a note on your TBR list to pick it up then.

Monika calls her old mentor, Charlie Woodend, and asks if he would do some checking for her.  He's very willing; he's a bit bored with retired life.  As he and his friend look for information, they also have to be careful because questions are discouraged and odd activity attracts police attention.  They have a couple of trouble spots, but they get their information.

Monika has been talking to the husband and son about the tragedy of a long lost wife just coming to unite herself with her family and being murdered before she met them.  When the husband is tortured and garroted, she's not sure what she's facing or why that happened.  There must be another player, but who could it be?

This is an interesting story that has ties to war, gold, and a broken family.  I was hoping Monika might have a chance at romance, but no such luck.  I enjoyed the read and it has an ironic ending.  If you like mysteries, you'll enjoy this one, too.

Happy reading.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly by Agatha Christie

Close your eyes and imagine a new story from Agatha Christie.  Then open them and I'll tell you about one...

Witness Impulse and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this novella as an ebook (thank you).  It was published November 12th as an ebook.

Hercule is invited to a crime party where they will be solving a murder mystery.  He knows the woman who is setting up the crime scene and he's there to be a draw.  All have parts to play and he's simply an observer.  What he didn't intend to find was the young woman actually murdered or the wife to go missing.  That wasn't part of the plan.  And it's not obvious what happened.  Not obvious at all.  At least not until another person dies and then only Poirot knows...

The Harper Collins website shared this info about the story:  

In 1954, Agatha Christie wrote this novella with the intention of donating the proceeds to a fund set up to buy stained glass windows for her local church at Churston Ferrers, and she filled the story with references to local places, including her own home of Greenway. But, having completed it, she decided instead to expand the story into a full-length novel, Dead Man's Folly, which was published two years later, and donated a Miss Marple story (Greenshaw's Folly) to the church fund instead. 

Unseen for sixty years, Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly is finally published in this ebook-exclusive edition. 

This is a typical Christie mystery with lots of little turns and twists to get to the truth.  I enjoyed it.  And how could I not read a "new find" from an author I enjoy?

Why not give it a try yourself? 

Settled Blood by Mari Hannah

A young woman is found dead at the base of Hadrian's Wall in England.  Kate Daniels is expecting a sex crime, but that's not the case.  The woman has several broken bones; it appears she was dropped from the air.  The most chilling fact the coroner finds is that she was still conscious when she landed...

Witness Impulse and Edelweiss allowed me to download a copy of this ebook for review (thank you).  It was published November 19th, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

The identity of the girl is a mystery, so they look at missing persons files.  While they are doing that, a friend of the superintendent's reports his daughter is missing and he's received a threat. The dead girl resembles the man's daughter but isn't her.

An incident that happened years ago and one that has happened currently is what created this situation.  It takes good detective work and leaving no stone unturned to find the killer.  They do.  The bad news?  He won't tell them where the victim is...

It's a fast read while you fearfully wait to see if the innocent girl will survive or if the killer hid her too well.  You won't be bored.

Happy reading.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton

Pusheen is a cat with her very own website.  Her antics are shown online and I've seen a few here and there.  I was very pleased to find this collection.  What fun!

Touchstone and Edelweiss allowed me to download and read this ebook for review (thank you).  It was published October 29th, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

I love reading comics and these are very simple and subtle.  Sometimes you have to look close to figure out the humor and that's great.  This didn't take long to read but it's something I'd pick up and read again.  If you share this with a young one, I'm sure it will be well read.

Here's an example of one page:

Did you notice in the last illustration the little tail is sticking out from under Pusheen?  That's subtle humor.

The comics are simple, amusing, and make you smile.  I enjoyed it.  Why don't you give it a try?

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.  Have you ever heard of a finishing school that taught you to be a spy?

Little, Brown and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It was published November 5th, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.
Sophronia's class is made up all types:  some young, some old, some rich, some poor.  The one thing they have in common is school and their studies.  Everything has been going quite well until the head teacher tells the girls that Sophronia has gotten the highest scores and is an outstanding student.  This turns everyone against her and she knows it's not true.  So why would the teacher say that?

It's a good thing Sophronia can go down to the boiler room and hang out with the folks down there.  They're honest, there's no slyness, and they like her.  They may not be the best companions for her, but she feels at home there.  They help her forget about the other girls who are shunning her now.

There's more excitement to come.  They get a class of boys from the other school who have come to train with them.  All the girls get goggle-eyed and fanciful.  Sophronia tries to ignore them, but one prince has his eye on her.  

With romance pulling her in two directions, some sort of conspiracy involving their airship and a ball in London coming up, there's more to come in this series.

It's a fun read with a fearless character who doesn't follow rules well.  What could be better? 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Dagger X by Brian Eames

Kitto witnesses his father's death and has to flee for his life.  He jumps on a boat heading out to sea to get away and finds himself in even hotter water...

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review.  It was published November 12th, so you can get a copy now.  This is the second in the dagger series and it's full of action and danger.  If you have a young swashbuckler in your home, you'll want to get both books.  They tie together well and give you more of the story of Kitto's life.

I always enjoy stories about pirates.  They're not nice people, they steal, they murder, they fight and they're happy doing it.  I'm not sure what their charm is, but I find their adventures entertaining.

Kitto and a few others are shipwrecked.  His mother is one of the survivors and helps nurse him as he recovers from the loss of his club foot.  While they were swimming for land, Kitto saved Van from the shark, but the shark took his leg.  In the long run, it's probably a good thing because he can walk better without it once he adjusts to a peg leg.

They make a motley crew.  The island is small.  Van sold out his father and he hates him.  His mother is worried about her youngest son she got separated from when she was "traded" to captain of the ship she was on.  There's an Native American Indian slave and a newborn black baby she saved.  They have no food or water.  However, they find a source of fresh water and have plenty of turtles to eat.  They will survive.

Unfortunately, the island they are on has the nutmeg his father and uncle had stolen from Harry Morgan, so Morgan will be showing up again soon.  If he finds them, he will kill them.

The first group to reach them is another batch of pirates who have lost their ship and looking for land.  They look as dangerous as Morgan, but they decide to work with the survivors instead of killing them.

Harry Morgan was a real pirate; the Nanny that helps slaves escape on Jamaica was real.  With a few facts from history, this story has a ring of authenticity along with the great fictional adventure.  I really enjoyed the read and will be awaiting the next book.

Be sure to watch out for the pet alligator X has; it's deadly.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sins of the Flesh: A Carmine Delmonico Novel by Colleen McCullough

Who would emaciate and emasculate two men and why?  You won't believe it when you find out...

Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It was published November 12th, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is a police procedural with a psychological touch.  I found it very suspenseful and full of odd tibits of facts that eventually lead to a solution to two cases: one current and one old.

The dead men are all of a type.  Tall, lean, handsome and white.  They are also all dead of the same mo.  What would inspire such murder?

The other case is disappearing women.  They stay in a let room for six months and then just disappear, never to be seen again.  There are enough of them for the police to be concerned and they feel it's murder, but they can find no bodies.

The killers lead normal lives with no outward sign of madness.  But they have lost touch with reality some time back...

The creepiest character is a pathological killer that is going through treatment.  The doctor has done some "rewiring" on his brain and he's now an aide to her.  He scares most people he meets.  There's a good reason for that.

Add the cops and you have a big pot of eccentric soup with killers mixed in.  You won't guess who the murders are or why until the author explains at the end.  That makes it no easier to take.

Don't start this book unless you have time to read, because you won't want to leave it.

The Golden Quest by David Delisle

The Golden Quest is a graphic novel about a young boy who embarks on a Hero’s Journey with his dog Shelby to discover the Golden Rules of Mo...