Friday, October 31, 2014

Mister Max: The Book of Secrets: Mister Max 2 by Cynthia Voigt, Iacopo Bruno (Illustrated by)

This is the second book in the Mister Max series and it's just as good as the first one was.  If your middle grader hasn't met Max yet, now's the time to introduce them.

Knopf Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book (thank you).  You can grab it at your local bookstore now.  Be sure to grab the first one, too.  They make good reading.

Max is still being a Solutioneer.  He's also trying to figure out what a letter from his missing father means.  Max's parents were actor and actress, so he's familiar with dressing up in costume.  That's a good thing because the Mayor wants to meet with him.  He has an assignment he wants Mister Max to take on.  There are vandals in the city and he wants them found and stopped.

No one will talk to Max or any of the other people who work with him.  They won't admit they've been vandalized and they certainly won't talk about the vandals.  It's hard to locate them, but Max does.  And when he does, he's in worse trouble than ever before.

When he's trapped in a bathroom overnight, he has plenty of time to think about his father's letter.  He finally thinks he may have broken the code and got the real message.

As this case gets resolved, it appears that Max and his grandmother are going to be making a trip.  They're going to rescue his mom and dad.  You know it won't be that easy because Max is involved, but you also know it'll be a good story.  I'll be watching for the next book in this series.

The Red Chameleon by Erica Wright

Kathleen Stone has many names and many disguises.  She can look young or old, sedate or flashy or cheap, and she adopts cadences and speech to go with the character she's creating.  She's also a private investigator, so these skills come in handy.

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

When Kathleen's mark, a potentially meandering husband, visits a bar and has a drink she's right behind him.  She expects him to meet up with a lady but he just drinks his drink and visits the john.  When he doesn't come back from the bathroom, she's afraid he's skipped on her.  No, he didn't skip.  He's dead...

She knows better than to get caught there; she'd become their #1 suspect.  She escapes for the time being but is glad she talked to the guy next to her.  He can alibi her if she needs it.  He can do more than that unfortunately.

She used to be an undercover cop and has some very bad enemies.  When her place gets ransacked and it appears someone is after her, she's afraid it might come from them.  However, she's still working this murder case (mostly to clear herself) and she wonders if that's what is causing her unpopularity.

Her life gets even more complicated when the cop investigating the case is a guy she went to the academy with.  She's always had an interest in him and it seems he might still have one for her, too.  Then an old lover from the past who was also an undercover cop offers to take her with him on his escape from the mainland for a beach somewhere.  He can still touch her libido but could they really get along?

I enjoyed the mystery and the romance but mostly I enjoyed her wigs, her costumes, her odd friends and how she gets a drag queen to fix her up for a final confrontation.  Kathleen is an usual character herself and I hope to see another in this series.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Winterfrost by Michelle Houts

This is a fairytale that could have been written with me in mind.  It features Nisse, a small person (gnome like) that has tremendous strength for its size and traditions that have been going on for years.  In this case, it's the Nisse in the barn that gets upset because he didn't get his Christmas Eve snack.  What happens next is awful!

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy at your local bookstore.  This would make a great Christmas gift.  I'd love to have my own copy, hint, hint.

Bettina's parents get called away at Christmas time.  Her father was going to visit his Uncle like usual, but her grandmother fell and broke her hip and needed someone to stay with her until she could come home for care.  Bettina is only 12, but she's been caring for Pia and knows all the farms duties.  She also has neighbors close who will check on her.  Nothing will go wrong.  If only Bettina hadn't forgotten the rice pudding with butter on top...

She has never noticed the Nisse herself, but Pia has.  Pia talks to him and laughs happily while Bettina does the chores but she thinks she's just amusing herself.  When she puts Pia in the baby carriage with lots of blankets and sets her outside for her nap (fresh air is good for children), she sits inside and watches her.  She doesn't realize she's so tired, she'll fall asleep.  When she awakens, Pia is gone.

Bettina gets to meet more Nisse, learns to be small herself, flies on the back of goose, and gets involved in family turmoil within the Nisse family.  She has to succeed in uniting them to get Pia back.  And she needs do that real soon because her parents will be home soon.

The neighbors keep trying to check on her, a mysterious Nisse is keeping her house warm and the animals fed, and Bettina has quite an adventure.  This is Danish story and I loved every bit of it.  Get a copy; it will make you smile.

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Dashiell is twelve and a moonie.  He's living in a base located on the moon.  It's the ultimate adventure.  It's also boring...

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore to get a copy.

I found this read fascinating.  I think space travel will be possible in the future (not in mine, but someday) and I enjoy fantasy accounts of surviving there.  Anything could happen...

Dashiell was in the bathroom late one night and overheard a professor talking on the phone about a great discovery he was going to reveal the next day.  When he awakens the next morning, the professor is dead.  He went out the airlock without his suit sealed properly and suffocated to death.  Dash doesn't believe this was an accident.  The professor was a space professional and had been too happy the night before.  No one else believes him.  No one except a new girl who is only there a few days before she returns with her father.  What can two kids do to prove it was murder when no one will listen?

They work hard on finding proof.  What they find is that the killer is not done killing; now someone is trying to kill them!  Dashiell is lucky enough to have some extra help and that helps him over the hump.  You'll have to read the book to find out about this special help.  It's a really nice touch and makes the story special.

Whether you are young or old, this story has something for everyone and it's not boring.  Get a copy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Julius & the Watchmaker by Tim Hehir

Julius lives with his grandfather, who owns a bookshop.  He does deliveries, cleans up, dusts, and anything else he can to help.  When he goes out, he has to avoid the local bullies who like to hit him, steal his goods or money and, in general, show him how worthless he is.  The fact that the older boy isn't too smart and isn't moving up the grades as he should doesn't make him any less mean.  When a proper gentleman stops and defends him, he's grateful and thinks he's found a friend.  Not exactly...

Text Publishing Company and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

This is a rousting tale that keeps you reading and worrying about Julius.  Julius is naive; because this gentleman dresses well and has manners, he thinks he's a good citizen.  After he's done some errands for him and has earned a little money, he thinks he's found someplace better than the bookstore.  Alas, his next task is to steal a book from his grandfather.  If he does that, he won't be able to go back there.  However, the new life sounds more exciting.  It sure is!

Two more mysterious characters show up, Julius learns about time travel with a watch, and he gets caught up in the middle of a battle between good and bad.  It's up in the air about which group he will decide to help but as the tale goes on, he really doesn't have much choice.  I might add that you didn't just travel back and forth in time; you can go sideways, too.  Confused yet?

On thing I really liked about Julius was that he might be an innocent victim but he's smart.  He figured out on his own what he should do and he also figured out a mystery in his own life.  I enjoyed this read a lot.  I know that reluctant readers will get caught up in the story and keep reading.  Share this one with the young ones in your life; they'll thank you.

Clam Wake: A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery by Mary Daheim

Going to housesit should be fun, right?  Her aunt and uncle are going on a trip and she takes her cousin to the island community for a short stay.  So why does she end up finding a dead body on the beach first thing?

William Morrow 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 at your local bookstore now.

This is a cozy mystery that includes odd characters, a property war, bantering cousins, and a meandering murder investigation.  The dead man did not die of natural causes; he was knifed to death.  They're on an island.  The killer had to live in the local community.  The man was well liked and had no known enemies.  The police are stymied.  The cousins decide to do their own snooping.  Bad choice.

This mystery plays out slowly.  I would have preferred a bit more action or a side plot or two, to keep it moving along a bit better.  However, this is part of a series and it might be a build up to future books.  It's not detrimental, it's just a bit too laid back for me.  I did however, enjoy the read, and would read more of Ms. Daheim's work.

This would make a great beach read.  The description of Washington is very accurate and will show you some of the state's coastal beauty.  Grab a comfortable chair and dig in!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

White Sands by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Aliens have arrived but they're not friendly...

Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published this month, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

The boys are excited about going to White Sands to stay with their father over the weekend.  Dad is going to teach them how to shoot guns and plans to take them hunting.  It's just a regular family weekend except it's at the base.

I live about 50 miles away from White Sands.  The sand is truly white and it makes it eerie.  All you usually hear is the wind.  You might see an oryx.  And you can often see planes maneuvering in the sky.  They train there and at Holloman Airforce Base.  It was easy for me to relate to this book and the story.  It's science fiction, but it's still a bit spine-tingling.

The only people who know that the aliens are coming are the ones in command.  They have been preparing for space travel for them and a few friends.  There's no way to save earth when these aliens have been laying waste to so many other worlds.  So those with the power and control will evacuate.  Sorry you peons...

Meanwhile, those left behind are still wondering about the ship that took flight when they begin to notice new ships coming in.  They're not ours.  Dad and boys first realize something is wrong when a plane crashes right into their truck.  They barely escape with their lives.  Now anything that uses electricity to run no longer functions.  It gets worse.

This is a scary story because it has an air of believability.  You know it's not true, but maybe it could be in the future.  This is a prequel to the Orbs series and and I'm going to be watching for that series.  After all, we leave the boys hiding in tunnels.  They don't know where they are, where the tunnels go, and the aliens are after them.  How can the next book not be as exciting as this one???

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Here's another great book for Halloween.  This librarian has a present for his girlfriend.  It's one she doesn't want, but she doesn't realize that...

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published in September and you can grab a copy at your local bookstore now.

He's a very attractive young librarian.  Annie is soon spending all her extra time in the library working with him.  She's not interested in spending time with Cynthia any more.  Since Cynthia is not under his spell, she sees him differently.  He's changing Annie's personality, seems to control her, and he's not just influencing her.  It seems others are feeling his effect on them, too.  Only Cynthia seems to be able to withstand him.  This is both a blessing and a curse.

Life gets more eventful for Cynthia when she discovers he's actually a demon.  And there's not just one there.  There's to be a battle for the throne below and everybody is trying to draw more essence into their bodies so they can win the fight.

The story is fantasy with some romance thrown in.  I'm not talking about the librarian.  Cynthia has a boy she's had a crush on forever and he helps her fight the demons.  The story is busy, the action fearsome, and it's a battle to the end.  If you read this one before Halloween, you'll look at those costumes at the door a little more carefully, I bet.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Area 51 by Dwight Zimmerman

We've all heard about Area 51 but just how much do you really know about it?

Zenith Press and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published November 3rd, so check with your local bookstore then.

Mr. Zimmerman has done his discussion of the development, change in missions, changes in administrators and presidents in graphic form.  Mr. Greg Scott is the illustrator.  This is history but it's much easier to read in graphic form.  I would have been a better student if more history was presented in this way.  Otherwise, it's an awful dry read.

Here's a sample page:  

I knew where the area was but didn't realize how long it was used and how much its goals changed with time.  We have Holloman Air Base here in New Mexico and Fort Bliss in nearby El Paso, TX, so I'm familiar with the big aircraft.  They often do training at Holloman.  Nothing like driving down the interstate and suddenly seeing big birds take off and land.  It seems like they are going to land on you!

This book lets you "see" the changes and easily get the facts about Area 51.  If you have a person with an interest in aircraft, aliens, or space, this would be a great book for them.  And you might even read it first...

Mr. Tweed's Good Deeds by Jim Stoten

Here's a book you can play hide and seek with!

Nobrow Ltd and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published November 11th.

This was harder than trying to find Waldo!  Each person Mr. Tweed meets is missing something.  The numbers go from one to ten and the next two pages are an illustration that must be studied carefully to find the missing items.  I found most of them but even I couldn't find them all!

Here's an example of the pages you search on:

You're looking for flowers floating in the water in this illustration.

Not only will it teach your child about counting, it will help them learn eye skills and teach them there is more to the picture than you first see.  It's a fun story and a learning tool both!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Monstrous Affections An Anthology of Beastly Tales by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Here's a very special collection of horror/science fiction/fantasy tales that will keep you reading.  There are 15 stories and it'd be great to read on Halloween night.  No matter who comes to the door, you'll probably be scared!

Candlewick Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is a mix and match batch of stories that are each unique.  As you go from one to another, you have no idea what to expect.  They're a bit like the stories you used to tell as a kid during late nights in a sleep over.  It worked even better if you were in a tent.  You might not get a lot of sleep after reading the stories but that was the point, wasn't it?

You have kraken, vampires, harpies, demons, aliens, and spirits all in one book.  I enjoyed the story about the Maori.  My favorite was a story done by Holly Black.  No big surprise there, I really like her books.

The best story in the book for me was Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind) by Holly Black.  A teen has stowed away on her uncle's spaceship.  She's pretty sure he's a smuggler, but she doesn't care.  She wants to be his partner.  Life gets real interesting when pirates board the ship and kill her uncle.  Desperate, she lets his cargo loose.  There is no time to consider the consequences even when she discovers she's set free an alien killer.  This eight legged alien also serves tea.  It's an amazing story!

If you want some short scares, this is the book for you.  If you're looking for new horror, that's here, too.  There's even a short story or two about gay or unusual relationships, just so you know.  All were done with good taste.  Give it a try.  It's a book you won't forget quickly.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Death by Didgeridoo (A Jamie Quinn Mystery) by Barbara Venkataraman

Jamie is still reeling from the death of her mother.  She hasn't been practicing law because she hasn't the energy or desire.  But she has no choice when her aunt calls and says her son has been accused of murder...

The author send me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  You can purchase a copy on Amazon now.

This story drew me in because the nephew involved in the crime has Asperger’s Syndrome.  He can't express himself well, he gets very upset and shuts down entirely when questioned too hard, and Jamie knows he didn't do it.  However, he told the police he did a bad thing and he was holding the weapon when they arrived.  It also happened to be his didgeridoo.  The didgeridoo is believed to be the worlds oldest wind instrument, dating back thousands of years. It originated as a musical instrument of the North Australian Aborigine.

What's he's talking about has nothing to do with the murder, but the police think they have a suspect in hand and the search is over.  Jamie is forced to come back to life and do some investigating on her own.  The hardest part of the search is the fact that the victim used to belong to a band and there's no end of folks who hate him for one reason or another.

I found it to be a clean plot with good analysis of the characters involved and the footwork needed to get to the truth.  I worried about Adam, the nephew.  I followed Jamie through on her path to the truth and I liked the read.  If you like police procedurals, you'll like this story.  Give it a try.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

Jennifer runs Kazam, a business that rents out magicians.  She's accomplished several major things already in her young life and she's going on another quest.  After all, there are only two dragons left and they're no problem.  She's willing to take on an impossible quest to keep them safe.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group 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.

Of course, nothing goes exactly as planned.  When she visits the King and Queen to tell them of her quest, the princess acts out.  She's spoiled and wants her own way and won't even respect her parents.  Imagine her surprise when her mother moves her essence into the handmaiden's body.  She's no long clean, no longer pretty, and she has some bruises, too.  She commands to be changed back.  Instead, the Queen sends her off with Jennifer to learn about life and be a bit more understanding with the people around her.  This is one of my favorite parts of the book.  Commands no longer work, she has to act like a slave, and no one thinks she's important.  It's awful!

Jennifer is thinking of a small party on her quest, but as people keep showing up and joining in, she is suddenly surrounded by friends.  That's a good thing.  She'll need them.  

There's danger, death, and all sorts of monsters and odd plant/animal things in this story.  What I liked was that all the ones who were determined to get there first or to do harm to the questing party found themselves suffering the consequences.  It was nice to see the bad guys punished in some form.

The ending leaves you with an idea of where the next book will be going.  Kazam's business isn't done yet.  Jennifer will be on another quest in the next book.  And I'd like to read that one, too.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Read Pink Campaign for Breast Cancer

Read Pink® in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Support the Next Chapter in Innovative Research

Penguin Random House Marks Five-Year Partnership Milestone and $125,000
in Donations to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®

What’s black and white and pink all over?  The initiative by Penguin Random House called Read Pink® in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)!

Today the scientific community has left behind the “one-size-fits-all” breast cancer treatment to emerge with targeted, more effective therapies. As a result, after remaining stagnant for more than 50 years, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 30 percent. The Read Pink® initiative by Penguin Random House is proud to be part of this exciting new chapter in the fight against breast cancer, supporting the bold research of The Breast Cancer Foundation® (BCRF), while leveraging its passionate readers to help increase awareness and education about the disease. This literary embrace of a life-saving cause has resulted in nearly 1.5 million best-selling novels shipped with Read Pink seals and information about BCRF across all five years of the promotion.

Penguin Random House is thrilled to partner once again this year with BCRF, as 91 cents of every dollar spent by BCRF is directed towards breast cancer research and awareness programs.

The $25,000 donation that Penguin Random House contributes, regardless of sales, provides vital funds to support the mission of BCRF.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Penguin Random House’s Read Pink® editions, we are featuring a few participating authors and what Read Pink® means to them…

Beatriz Williams (2014 Read Pink® Spokesperson), A Hundred Summers
“Every life lost to breast cancer leaves behind a hole that can never be filled again: a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a grandmother. I’m so grateful for organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation for their efforts to find a cure for this devastating disease, and honored to support breast cancer awareness, detection, and research through Penguin’s READ PINK program in 2014. With your help, we can move closer to the day when breast cancer leaves behind only survivors.”

Karen White, The Time Between
“Since 1989, death rates from breast cancer have been decreasing due to earlier detection and improved treatment because of the efforts of organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Books have always been an important part of my life, and I am honored that my book will be part of Penguin’s Read Pink program that supports breast cancer awareness and research through reading. It is my greatest hope that through efforts like this we might find a cure within my lifetime.”

Nora Roberts, Sea Swept and The Witness
“To all the moms and daughters, wives and sisters, lovers and friends, Read Pink is here for you and yours. Help support breast cancer awareness and the strong, brave women who fight or will fight this disease and Read Pink in October.”

Catherine Anderson, Perfect Timing
“I am so delighted to be included in the Read Pink campaign again this year with Perfect Timing being featured, along with so many other great books, to raise funds for breast cancer research. I can remember when a diagnosis of breast cancer was often equivalent to a death sentence. Nowadays, the survival rates have increased greatly, and I personally know women who have prevailed over this terrible disease. Sadly, I’ve also known a few women who lost the battle. So I call upon all of you to join ranks with me and countless other women in a war to defeat breast cancer. ‘Read Pink! Buy books bearing the Read Pink logo as gifts for the women you love.’ By standing together as sisters, we have it within our power to make a huge difference!”

Jayne Ann Krentz, Dream Eyes
“This is the time of year when we celebrate the progress that has been made in the battle against breast cancer and acknowledge the work that lies ahead. No, we aren't there yet. There's a long way to go. The greatest weapon we have to fight this disease is research and research costs money. That is why this breast cancer awareness campaign is so important and why I am proud to participate.”

Marie Force, I Want to Hold Your Hand
“I’m so thrilled to be part of the Read Pink effort to help raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research. I hear frequently from romance readers who tell me my books and those of other romance authors have helped them get through breast cancer treatment. I want to hear from fewer of them in the future. I want to hear they took our books on fabulous vacations rather than treatments. Please Read Pink in October to support all the courageous women fighting this disease and to fund critical research. Thank you for Reading Pink!”

Full List of 2014 Participating Authors:
Jojo Moyes, The Last Letter from your Lover
Karen White, The Time Between
Nora Roberts, Sea Swept and The Witness
Jennifer Chiaverini, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker
Beatriz Williams, A Hundred Summers
Wendy Wax, While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
Catherine Anderson, Perfect Timing
Marie Force, I Want to Hold Your Hand
Janet Chapman, The Heart of a Hero
Lisa Gardner, MacNamara’s Woman
Jayne Ann Krentz, Dream Eyes

Mark your calendars and remember to join in the conversation with @BerkleyRomance and @PenguinGroupUSA on Twitter in October.  Make sure to use the hashtag #ReadPink!

For more information about the Read Pink initiative and to view a complete list of the participating retail outlets, please visit

Read Pink® Blog Tour Schedule
Please support the blogs taking part in this special, Read Pink® Spotlight Tour!

October 1 – Exclusive guest post with spokesperson Beatriz Williams on
September 22                                   Cheryl's Book Nook; The Readers Den; Gone with the Words;
                                                                Pretty Sassy Cool
September 23                                   Reading Reality; You Gotta Read; Adria's Romance Reviews
September 24                                   Kimberly Faye Reads; Nicely Phrased; I Smell Sheep
September 25                                   Romance Junkies; To Read or Not To Read;
September 26                                   Cindy's Love of Books; Chick Lit Plus; The Book Reading Gals
September 29                                   LitChat; Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf; Chris Book Blog Emporium
September 30                                   Reality Bites! Let's Get Lost!; Grave Tells; Britt's Book and Life Blog;
                                                                Sincerely Stacie
October 1                                            Cocktails and Books; The Reading Nook Reviews; 2Bookaholics;
                                                                Wit & Sin; Raw Books
October 2                                            SOS Aloha; Bookish Things & More; Shayna Renee's Spicy Reads
October 3                                            Dew on the Kudzu; Peace Love Books;
October 6                                            My Book Addiction and More; Book-alicious Mama;
October 7                                            A Dream Within A Dream; Thoughts in Progress; Mundie Moms
October 8                                            Flirty and Dirty Book Blog; Readers Live A Thousand Lives;
                                                                That's What I'm Talking About
October 9                                            Book Lovin' Mamas; Lori's Reading Corner; The Book Reading Gals
October 10                                          Supernatural Snark; Once Upon a Twilight;
October 13                                          Fallen Angel Reviews; Parajunkee's View; As I Turn the Pages
October 14                                          Reading in Black & White; Keepin It Real Book Blog
October 15                                          ABCD Diaries; Fictional Candy; Paranormal Book Club
October 16                                          Sexy Bibliophiles; Book Sniffers Anonymous;
October 17                                          Wicked Lil Pixie; The Book Swarm; Addicted 2 Novels;
                                                                Stephanie’s Book Reports
October 20                                          News & Sentinel, “Book Nook”; The Reading Café
October 21                                          The Book Bellas; The Book Cellar
October 22                                          The Novel Life; My Book Muse;
October 23                                          Rock Stars of Romance; Silver's Reviews; Journey of a Bookseller
October 24                                          Sunshine & Mountains
October 27                                          Bewitched Bookworms; Ramblings From This Chick
October 28                                          Reading in Pajamas; Turn the Page
October 29                                          Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks; Stuck In YA Books;
October 30                                          Fang-tastic Books; No BS Book Reviews; Marie’s Cozy Corner
October 31                                          In Shadows; Love Romances & More

Here's a great way to read a book and fight cancer at the same time.  I see more than one on this list that I could easily read.  How about you?

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...