Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beach Bags And Burglaries: A Haley Randolph Mystery by Dorothy Howell

Haley has won a vacation to an exclusive resort and takes her girlfriends as guests.  It will be relaxing and fun with activities and communal functions to keep them busy.  What nobody suspected was that Haley would find a dead body...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  The book will be published in August, so look for it then.  There is another book in the series you can start with if you can't wait.

Haley is a fashionista and is disappointed she couldn't find Sea Vixen bag to complete her look.  However, she knows they will be selling them at the resort and she's determined to get one there.  Without knowing it, Haley has hit upon a clue in the case.

All the staff members seems to be secretive and up to no good.  Haley can tell something is wrong, but she doesn't know what.  Then she finds the missing maid:  Dead on the beach.  The police thinks it's an accidental fall, but she doesn't.  And the further she digs, the worse the danger gets.

What touched my funny bone in this story is the fact that Haley has so many hunks interested in her.  With police, FBI agents, reporters and more watching her and checking out the case, her guests are jealous.  Why should she get so many good looking guys hanging around her when they don't?

The best part is the ending of this story.  I'm going to have to read the next book to see what Haley does next!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Death Is Forever by Maxine O'Callaghan

Delilah just cannot accept her husband Jack's death.  She was there, she saw him get shot, but she went to pieces when it happened and can't identify the killer.  That doesn't mean she just let his death go; it means it will be harder to find the perpetrator.

Brash Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy now.

Delilah is no weak-kneed woman; she's made of steel.  Her heart may be broken, but she's got PI skills and she's going to use them.  Nothing she finds out changes anything, though.  It's like she's spinning her wheels.  So when another case comes up where a father wants his wayward daughter brought home, she takes it.  It's better than going nowhere.

When she hangs out in the area where the daughter is supposed to be hiding, she gets a phone call telling her where the daughter is.  When she wakes up again, she's on the floor.  And the man in the bed next to her is dead.  The worst part?  He's the killer she couldn't identify.

With cops bothering her and Jack's case still unsolved, she's got a lot to think about.  She skips out of her apartment and goes on the run, avoiding the cops.  That works for a bit, but the original killer wants her out of his life and he's not willing to show any mercy.

This is a taut mystery with plenty of action.  You feel Delilah's pain and itch for closure on Jack's case.  You watch selfish people get their just rewards.  And you'll want to read more about Delilah.  She's still a PI with a broken heart and will have more cases.  

I've already got the next book here and am looking forward to it.  Why don't you catch up with me?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Eyes on You by Kate White

Robin Trainer is coming back to work after a two year hiatus.  She's got the right clothes, the right make-up, the right moves and quick repartee as well as exudes confidence.  She's got it back and she wants to make it big.  Someone else wants her to fail...

Harper sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is an interesting look at how media works on the front line.  It's not easy to always look your best and act cheerful all the time.  You also have to watch the others on the set because each person there is trying to get ahead.  They don't care who they step on.

The story quickly turns into a psychological thriller when Robin finds a nasty note in her purse that was only unattended for a few minutes.  Her photos on the back of her best seller have been cut in pieces.  A Barbie doll is left on her chair with the eyes cut out.  And if that's not enough, she gets burned by a chemical put in her makeup.

You flip pages through the story trying to figure out who has Robin in the crosshairs.  It's suspenseful, interesting and imaginative.  On the other hand, Robin is a shallow character I had a hard time liking.  She does some dumb things, call her shoes nicknames, and it made me wonder how she got to be a favorite.  It takes all types.

The ending is exciting and it takes all Robin's friends to help her find out who was after her.  The final confrontation is thrilling.  It's a good beach read.  And you may wonder afterwards what you would do it if someone was trying to destroy you...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Huckleberry Summer (The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill #2) by Jennifer Beckstrand

If you enjoy Amish stories, you'll love this grandma matchmaker...

Zebra Books gave me the opportunity read this book for review (thank you).  It was published in June, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

When the Helmuth's ask her to work for them as household help, Libby is more than willing.  She's shy, doesn't get out much and her parents think it would bring her personality a bit more.  Libby is a well behaved Amish girl who has never acted out or gone against her father's wishes.  That's all well and fine until she meets Aden.

Aden has come to live with his relatives, the Helmuth's, because he has been in trouble with the law.  His parents hope separating him from his friends might cool the fever he has for saving the planet.  He's a vegetarian, he's been chained to a tree, he's just not safe from Libby's father's point-of-view.  He tells her to stay away from him and thinks the matter is settled.  Matters of the heart don't usually listen to what your head is trying to tell you.

Aden learns some lessons about life and about God while Libby feels she must follow her father's wishes. It all comes to head when she ends up at jail with Aden and his friend.  She's shocked, hurt, and angry so she agrees to marry an Amish boy that she likes, but will never love.  Even though she loves Aden, she's not going to hurt her father any more.  I knew the author wasn't going to leave it at that, but I didn't foresee how she could make it work.  The ending is amusing and charming both. 

I love this series and will be watching for the next book in the series.  Ms. Beckstrand writes a good romance, I enjoy Amish stories, and I also enjoy happy ever after.  If you do, too, why not give this series a read?   

Sunday, July 27, 2014

At Bluebonnet Lake (Texas Crossroads #1) by Amanda Cabot

Kate is taking her grandmother on vacation.  Sally has a heart condition and Kate's always working, so they are going to make the most of it and take a month off together.  They're going back to where Kate's grandparents had spent their honeymoon...

Revell and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 21st, so make a note to pick it up then.

This is a sweet story of old fashioned romance and two young workoholics.  Kate meets Greg and likes him a lot, but she's not looking for love.  She's just vacationing for a bit with her grandmother because who knows how much time she has left.  She'll be lost without her; she grew up with her grandparents when her parents were killed in an accident.  She's so electronically connected, she almost doesn't know what to do with herself when there's no cell service at the resort.

The resort is run down, the owners are lackadaisical and there almost no guests there.  Even the shutters are falling off the main lodge.  It looks very old and run down in Kate's eyes, but Sally remembers it as it was and has good memories to associate with it.  She came to revisit the past, but she meets a new man and finds a new future ahead of her.

Kate has her own dragons to slay before she can admit she has fallen in love.  She also begins to realize that some of her drive to success may be misdirected.  It's not the money or the position that rewards you, it's happiness and a chance to do good in life.

There's some Christianity mentioned in the story but it's not overwhelming.  It's a soft sweet romance with two happy endings.  I enjoyed it.  Why don't you give it a try?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Copycat and a Litter of Other Cats by David Yow

If you know me at all, you know I like cats.  My cat of preference is the Bengal but I love them all.  How could I skip reading this book?

Akashic Books allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 12th, so grab a copy then.

The author/illustrator, David Yow, is the singer from the bank the Jesus Lizard.  Evidently being creative runs in his blood.  His cats are very similar except in colors and positions but his word play is what makes this book fun to read.

As you page through the illustrations and see how he's titled the pictures, it will make you smile.  My favorites were:  Bobcat (wearing a hello badge with Bob on it); Polecat (yes, marked like a skunk); Felix the Cat (and Sylvester and others); and, Cat Box (all cats love boxes).  They are a play on words with big eyed cats looking back at you.

If you're a fan of graphics, words, or cats, this book will talk to you.  I love all three, so I enjoyed paging through and snickering at what Mr. Yow has done.  Why don't you give it a try?  I don't think you'll find another one like this unique book.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jake and the Giant Hand by Philippa Dowding

The farm has been in Jake's family for over 100 years.  Every summer he goes to stay with his Grandpa for two weeks.  This year will be different...

Dundurn allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 21st, so make a note to pick it up then.

If you like tall tales, you'll like this book.  Jake's Grandpa is always telling stories, most of which sound made up or greatly exaggerated.  There seems to be a grain of truth in them, but it's hard to find.  At age twelve, Jake doesn't want to hear these stories anymore.  But the neighbor children's ghost stories are OK.  They scared him a bit, but he knew it was made up and not real.  Then one story they tell starts to become real...

It starts with huge flies that no one else sees.  They are so big and dangerous, he even has to save his Grandpa from them!  The ghostly tale was about a huge hand found in a field that has a wedding ring on it.  No one knew where it came from and no one knew where it went.  It was like a one day wonder.  But the gossip and rumors still floated around.

When the kids try to find evidence of it really happening, it "disappears".  But Jake can see something of the photo that comes up blocked; it's the same handle on the pump of their well at home.  Jake suddenly begins to realize the farm they inherited is probably the site the hand fell on.

This story is scary, full of surprises and total nonsense.  Even the author reminds you she started the story with the notion that not all tales are true.  I found it a fun read and even inspirational.  Why not let your child write their own tall tale?  Using your imagination is a good thing!

Happy reading.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Heart is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz

Dani is lost when her best friend moves away.  I know just how she feels.  My very best friend was Jeanette and her parents couldn't afford tuition for a few years at St. Joe's.  I felt so lost without her.  She did get to come back, though!

Gecko Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 8th, so make plans to pick it up then.

This is a sweetly illustrated tale (by Eva Eriksson) of a young girl going back to school without her best friend.  She has no one to sit with or confide in, but she's trying to keep her heart happy.  It doesn't help that there are two girls who give her a bad time.  They like pushing her around and picking on her because she's quiet.  They don't anticipate her reaction when they've gone too far by pinching her.  When she gets angry and acts out, she gets sent home from school for bad behavior.

Her father is perplexed but when he finds bruises from the pinches and gets the story of out of her, he takes her back to school and visits the teacher and the principal!  Soon the issue is resolved and the right children are disciplined.  Even better, Dani's friend, Ella, comes back for a visit and her heart feels all better.  In fact, her heart is laughing...

My heart was laughing, too, when Jeanette came back to St. Joe's.  I wonder if this author ever had a similar experience in her life?

Happy reading.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.  This book is non-fiction and it tells of the lives of four women who were brave enough to put their lives on the line for their beliefs.  The Civil War often divided the men, but you don't read much about the women then.  This book brings four to life for you.

Harper and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  You can find it in your local bookstore by September 2nd.

I had read about Emma, a woman dressed as a man who worked the front lines in war.  She assisted the doctor and saw plenty of blood and death.  In that time, they didn't bathe or bother taking their clothes off, so she could hide her sex from them.  However, her emotions weren't so easily controlled and she found herself attracted to two men she worked with.  In the end, this created enough of a problem she finally "deserted" and went back to being female.

The other three were women I had not heard of.  They schemed, seduced and used the men in command to get information to send to the other side.  A lot was accomplished by false bravado and a do or die attitude.  Even jail time didn't impress them.  They'd emerge into the light of day and go back to their old tricks.  They got sent to the other side of war where they wouldn't be as effective.  One of them went overseas.  All of them did all they could do as long as they could do it.

What struck me about this book was that all of them were independent and headstrong women.  They knew what they wanted and they went after it.  But none of them were ever really happy.  Those that married were married more than once.  Some had children.  Most died alone and unloved.  What fame and fortune they enjoyed was way behind them.  It was almost like they wanted too much and never found it.

What they did do was make a mark on the states and they still live in history as brave women, no matter which side they were on.  They did their jobs well, probably much better than a man due to the positions in society.  What more could you ask from them?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

She's always wanted to go to the Westminster Dog Show, but she knew she wouldn't be able to handle defeat.  She had some leg problems and feared falling, so she just didn't go.  But she never expected to get a young boy next door who was determined to have a puppy and determined to impress his mother...

Beltor and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Benny has problems learning.  Lessons bore him, he has trouble making sense of numbers and he'd goof off if he's going to get bad grades anyway.  The special school he is in works with him to see how he best learns and to encourage him and help him with his own emotional problems.  All he wants is to have this mother back and that's not possible,  she has a new life.  He wants her to notice him and see how smart and good he is.  What better way to do that than show a dog and win prizes?

Bess isn't doing dog breeding anymore and is selling her last batch of puppies.  When Benny wants to buy her stud show dog, she tells him no, but he can have one of the puppies.  He doesn't want a puppy!  When McCreary is stolen, she's heartbroken and wants to give up.  Benny won't let her.  He agrees to take a puppy.  Bess says he has to train it and he agrees.

This is story of sons and mothers, an older lady who needs new life and hope, and a young boy who is willing to work hard and sacrifice for his goal.  You'll learn a lot about dog shows, relationships and life.  I especially enjoyed the relationship between Bess and Benny.  She hasn't had kids around for a long time and didn't do so well with her son when he was there.  Benny views her as a grandmother and is willing to cut her some slack, but he also will browbeat her into doing what she promised.

Not everything works out perfect, but it's close enough.  The book ends on a positive note and all the people in the story have resolved some problems.  Life should be so good for all of us.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen; illustrated by Scott Bakal

Gabriel's mother is merely a figment of his imagination.  She's been gone a long time.  When his father disappears, too, Gabriel is determined to get him back.  But how?

Schwartz & Wade and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 28th and is written for middle graders.

This is quite a tale.  Enter the land of make believe and search for a staff and a talisman that will help Gabriel find his father.  It's good that he has some friends; it would impossible alone.  One of his most unique friends is a raven.  They can speak to each other telepathically and there's more possible.  But Gabriel hasn't learned that yet.

There's a bit of bullying, a real different girl who never wears normal clothes, a quiet shy girl, and Gabriel.  He meets an odd man who says he wants to save Gabriel's father but needs his help.  He sure does, but not to save dad.  He has another motive in mind.

It's very action packed, fast moving, and thrilling for young readers.  Even those who are reluctant readers will probably be pulled in by the story line and worry for the young characters.  It's not a short book, but it's a quick read because you don't stop reading!

Also, I believe Gabriel will be back.  After all, they haven't found his Mom yet.

Happy reading.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

Every night they take a pill, get in a sleeper, and don't wake again until 12 hours later.  They don't dream.  They also don't know all that happens in the night...

Macmillan's Publishing Group and Net Galley gave me the opportunity read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 16th.  This is from the author of the Birthmarked series.

Rosie comes from a poor family and getting an opportunity to go to Forge, a school for arts, is a miracle for her.  It's a big reality show and you only get to stay if you rank high enough on the scores to make it.  The first big test eliminates half the class.  It's pure chance that she does enough on the final test day to move her rank up far enough to stay.  

Rosie is inquisitive and smart.  She notices when things don't look exactly right and when students don't seem to be themselves in the morning.  If she's to find anything out, she has to refrain from taking her sleeping pill.  She manages that.  It doesn't help her get any answers, it just creates more questions for her.  Attendants come in and take a sleeper unit out with its student still sleeping.  Then the sleeper is returned before morning.  What are they doing to the students and why?

Rosie takes a lot of chances trying to get answers.  If it wasn't difficult enough to accomplish normally, there are cameras everywhere and it's all on live TV.  What she finds out is ugly.  It turns even more ugly when one believes her, not even the TV viewers.

This story brought me down a bit.  When Rosie's friends get hurt and her mother signs over to the doctor's care, it's not a positive thing.  The ending left me wondering just exactly what happened.  I think I understood what the author was doing, but I don't know why.

If you like a good horror story, this one will do it for you.  It's very creepy and evil.  And all done in the name of science.  Want a good scare?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill

Did he fall or was he pushed?

Crown Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy now.

This story is set in Barcelona.  It's a good mystery, but it's also fun for me to read about other countries and learn about the area as I read.  The author does a good job of adding the flavor of the countryside and the people to his story.

Inspector Hector Salgado was put on administrative leave after beating a doctor involved in a child prostitution ring.  He almost killed the man with his fists.  He doesn't want to admit why he did that, but he also knows he needs to control his temper if he wants to keep his job.  Now he's back on the job and must visit the police psychologist as part of his rehabilitation.  The chief gives him a safe assignment:  Investigate a death and assure the mother that the boy committed suicide.  Sounds simple enough, but Hector knows someone is not telling him the whole story.  His friends all have convenient excuses, but no one saw him jump and they all claim they did not push him.  Who's lying about what?

One thing I appreciate about reading international mysteries written over the pond is that the authors add little side plots and really delve into the personalities of their characters.  I don't normally find that character nuance charming in American stories, but European characters seem to need that element to make the story work well and help you understand the conflict. In this story I learned a lot about Hector, those he works with, and how they take care of each other but still follow the law. 

I didn't see the end coming in this story.  I thought it was probably a bad deed done by a drug gang member.  It was not.  I'm sure you'll be surprised, too.  See if you can determine it earlier in the book and let me know if you do.  Or just tell me if you were as surprised as I was to find out who was perpetrating the crime.  The side mystery is just as bad.  This author weaves tangled tales...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Saving Raine (The Drone Wars: Book 1) by Frederick Lee Brooke

This is a book set in the future and it has very different premise than most you read.  The worst part is that it sounds very realistic and could be possible...

The author and Goddess Fish Blog Tours gave me the opportunity to read and review this book (thank you).  You can buy the book wherever ebooks are sold.

Matt, 19, is the main character in this story.  He doesn't fit well in his family because his father has remarried and the stepmother and her children don't like him.  The youngest boy, who is Matt's half-brother, likes him but can't do anything to help the situation.

When the FBI comes in and takes his father away, it gets worse.  His stepmother kicks him out of his bedroom and makes him move to the basement.  As he is gathering up his stuff, he finds a communication from his father hidden in his room.  The message is short and sweet.  He needs to go get his girlfriend, who is in college at Stanford, and protect her.  When Matt leaves, his half-brother follows him.

This is where things start to get weird.  Almost everyone in government gets assassinated.  That leaves one minor politician of the right political party to move up to President.  The man that steps in fires anyone who disagrees with him.  And then he decides to use drones to spy on people.  (That sounds almost familiar, doesn't it?)

While Matt and Benjy are running to California, they find bridges bombed, highways blocked, and killers prowling the roads.  Even worse, Raine doesn't want to be saved.  She doesn't even want to see Matt anymore...

The story is fast paced, full of action, and not a bit boring.  When you get to the end of the story, you realize that it's just one big chapter of Matt's new life and it's not over yet.  There will be a sequel.

Frederick will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card (international) and an autographed copy of Saving Raine (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Enter here.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here

Good luck and happy reading!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

We all know unicorns don't exist, they're a fantasy animal.  Did you know unicorn parents feel the same way about little girls?

Random House Children's Books sent me a copy of a galley of this book for review (thank you).  It will be on sale on August 26th, so make a note to pick it up then.

If you have a little princess in your household, you probably have a girl that believes in magic, unicorns, dragons and white knights.  Here's a perfect book for them.

The story begins with Uni, who knows there must be a little girl somewhere he could do things with and play in the meadow with her.  The illustrations by Brigette Barrager are sweet and precious and make you wish you could play with the unicorn!

You then meet a little girl who is sure there are unicorns in the world and there must be special one who would play with her and be her friend.

They both believe despite naysayers.  The only thing that would have made this book better (for me) would be the two meeting each other.  Since they didn't, let your little one imagine what the meeting would be like and how much fun they have.  We all need something to believe in.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Not Quite Dead by Lyla Payne

Finding her fiance on top of his teaching assistant on his desk destroys Graciela's life.  She runs home to Gramps, who needs someone to help him in his declining health.  She knows you're not supposed to run away from problems, but she wants to make a fresh start.

The author and Goddess Fish Blog Tours gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It is available wherever you can buy ebooks, so look for a copy now.

She has Gramps who is fading out a bit more each day, Will (her old love who married her best friend), the new Mayor in town who wants to ask her out, and a ghost.  She doesn't know who she is, but she keeps appearing to her and scaring her to death.  When she finds out who she is, it gets even more strange.  Why would Anne Bonny (the pirate) be trying to talk to her?

Graciela is a character that draws you in and makes you like her.  Sometimes you'd like to shake her good after she makes a silly decision, but none of us are perfect.  Graciela has to learn to forgive and forget, has to right a wrong, and needs to go on with her life.  She begins that process in this story.

I enjoyed the otherworldly touch, the voodoo influence, and the new romance developing.  The story was exciting and fun to read, and there will be another one coming.  I'm looking forward to reading the next in this series.  Why don't you give it a try?

Lyla will be awarding a $20 Bookstore GC (winner's choice) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, a Signed paperback of NOT QUITE DEAD + swag (US only) to another randomly drawn commenter and a final prize of an eBook set of THE ROSE GARDNER MYSTERIES by Denise Grover Swank to one more randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Enter here:  Giveaways 

Encourage your readers to follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: Tour Dates

Best of luck to you!

Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird, David Small (Illustrated by)

Suzy is tired of boring summers.  Then she finds out there is a retired circus performer living in her area.  She also finds that her Uncle ...