Sunday, November 30, 2014

Watched by C.J. Lyons

He's being stalked, cyber-stalked.  King knows everywhere he goes, everything he does and commands him to do disgusting acts or his sister will be hurt.  There's no way out...

Sourcebooks sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

The cyber world makes many things possible that would never have happened when I was growing up.  Some are good and some are bad.  This story focuses on the bad.  King controls Jesse's life.  The worst part is that it's not just King.  His uncle is involved, too.  They use Jesse to make sex tapes they can sell on the net.  Jesse sees no way out and can't turn his uncle in because he's given his family a roof over their heads after his father gone away.

When they want him to recruit other younger men to tape, he tries to revolt.  Then King shows him a man following his little sister off the school bus.  The man has a knife and "likes" little girls.  What's Jesse to do?

When he gets an envelope that has a phone number and a note that says:  "I can help." he wonders if it's true or another of King's plots?

Whatever I was expecting this to be, it wasn't what it was.  This is an intense read that made me angry for the young characters this man had destroyed.  He ruined lives for fun and money.  The young man and woman are strong and fight back.  They use the truth against him.  

The final confrontation will have you sitting on the edge of your chair.  It's not until the final pages you find out just how it's going to end.  You'll be turning pages and hoping all the way to the end.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Caller by Juliet Marillier

Flint is tired; very, very tired and ready to give up.  He's seriously thinking about walking away from his position at court and going home.  However, his second in command has come after him.  He takes him back to court to save his life.  Escaping would mean death for certain.  Staying still gives him good odds at death, but he might live if it he plays it right.

Knopf Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  This is the third book in the series.  The first two set the stage for this huge battle and will make the connections in the story more clear if you read them first.  You can find them at your local bookstore.

Flint is a warrior who does the King's bidding.  He loses pieces of his soul as he does ugly things he's commanded to do.  That's part of why he wanted to escape.  He's close to the edge of breaking and war is close, too.

Neryn is training to become a caller.  This means she has to visit with the Guardians and learn the skills they can teach her.  Otherwise she will never have the power she needs to defeat the King.  While she takes the time to do this, she makes friends with various people and the good folk on the way.  The last Guardian seems to be hiding from her, so it's hard to learn what he can teach her.  Time is running out on her.

The King has turned into a tyrant.  His wife encourages that behavior and suggests punishments that will amuse her.  His right hand man is also sadistic and he controls another caller.  One not so well trained and one that desires power.  This spells disaster for the good folk and their land.

The battle is huge and success has only one bright point:  Neryn.  If Neryn can override the other caller's commands, the rebels can win.  But can she?

This whole series was good.  I became invested in the characters, grieved over their deaths and celebrated their joys, and while it doesn't exactly end up happy ever after, it's close.  I'm going to buy the set for my own library.  They're well worth reading again!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Belfast Noir (Akashic Noir) by Adrian McKinty (Editor), Stuart Neville (Editor)

This anthology is set in Belfast.  It's an area of unrest with old hurts from revolutions in the past.  I've never been there and this is fiction, but you can learn a lot about a city in a story.  With all the voices telling these stories, it amalgamates into a whole.  It's almost like visiting...

Akashic Books sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It was published earlier this month, so check with your bookstore for a copy.

These are not cheery tales; they are about life in Belfast.  There is some humor but most of the stories are hard cold facts about life in a still warring country.  I only knew a few authors in this mix, so I was looking forward to "meeting" some new ones.

Reading this all at once is a bit hard to take.  The stories make you think, make you wonder and some I didn't even understand.  Most were okay, a few were not and only one really touched me.  It might be because it was about dogs.  I won't tell you too much about it or it will spoil it, but you do need to read "Pure Game" by Arlene Hunt.  It will stick with you for a while.  Quite a while, in fact.

All in all, I'm glad I read it.  I learned more about Belfast and got an insight into how life is there.  What I really learned was that there is a lot more to learn...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Jupiter Pirates #2: Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry

First they find an ore freighter with dead bodies on it.  Then they hear their first whisper about Iris, a great treasure that everyone has been trying to find for years...

Harper Collins and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published December 16th, so make a note.  You can grab the first one and read that while waiting if you haven't yet.  I enjoyed the first one in this series, so I nabbed this when it was offered to review.  It's even better than the first one!

They've created a new name for themselves, but the truth of the matter is that this family is a bunch of pirates.  They're looking for goods they can use to support themselves and continue with more salvage adventures.  The grandfather is more metal than human, but he's still smart and even more crooked than the rest of the family.

This turns into a grand adventure with lots of danger.  They've got bandits on their tail,  Ty has been contacted by the secret police and given an errand to do, and there are two factions fighting a civil war over who has the right to govern the planet. They meet odd people, take a chance on getting shot, and continue to follow the trail of Iris. 

I like the action packed stories Mr. Fry writes, the characters he introduces, and the competition between his characters.  I can see much more coming forward in the series and I'm glad.  This is a good read and I want more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Girl in the Woods by Gregg Olsen

Since I had never read anything by Gregg Olsen so I decided to try this one.  Let me tell you, this man writes scary books!

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

It all begins with a school outing.  The group is following a trail up the mountain when one of them suddenly begins screaming.  She sees a foot in the bushes.  It gets worse when they discover there is ONLY the foot there.

Birdy Waterman is the star of this book.  She's a Forensic Pathologist and comes to assess the foot where it was found.  She gets assigned to work with Detective Stark, but it seems like Birdy does most of the work.

Birdy is busy with this case when she suddenly inherits her sister's son.  He doesn't want to go home.  She can't deny him a place to live.  It bothers her when she can't be around to watch what he's doing, but she has no choice.  She and her sister don't get along well enough to discuss it.  She just lets her know he's safe with her and let's it be.

As if this case isn't enough to keep her busy, she gets another case to work on.  A husband has died and she suspects it's from poison.  She thinks the wife is guilty party and the children agree with her.  Nobody is telling the truth here.

With a psychopathic killer, an insane killer and a young male teen all to deal with at the same time, Birdy has her work cut out for her.  She's determined to see it through.  But will she survive to do it?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Killer WASPs: A Killer Wasps Mystery by Amy Korman

Kristin owns an antique store and can barely pay the rent.  Life can be tough when you're single and you have a lot of other stores competing for the small town's dollars.  It gets even tougher when your dog finds a dead man under a bush...

Witness Impulse and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  You can grab a copy online now.

This is a cozy mystery that has Kristin and her friends looking for a murderer.  The victim was an aggressive land developer that was going after land the owners don't want to sell.  His wife is glad he's dead.  And they have trouble finding anyone in town who liked him.  How are they going to find his killer?

They fumble around from place to place hunting for clues and asking embarrassing questions.  Kristin develops two budding romances and isn't sure which one she prefers.  Her dog still needs his walks.  

While the story is not as intense as some murder mysteries, I enjoyed the humor, the mistakes made, the flirting men, and Kristin does eventually solve the crime.  This is a good read for those who like cozies and a bit of romance in their reads.

Why not settle into a comfortable chair and visit Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger

Imagine a Jewish Miss Marple.  Sounds strange, doesn't it?  This older lady is an interesting and fun character that solves a mystery her own unique way.  I like it!

Alibi and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  This is the first in a new series and I'll be looking for the second book.  You can get it now at your local bookstore.

They are celebrating seder at the home she lives in and she has the best Matzoh ball recipe ever.  She doesn't share it, so everyone is waiting anxiously for their bowlful.  Everything is going along swell when a lady sitting at the back room collapses in her soup.  The first thought the cops have is that Mrs. Kaplan poisoned her.  When she points out she and everyone else in the room was eating the same soup, the soup spoons stop.  What a disaster!

The odd part is that it seems she choked to death on an expensive earring.  It's not the lady's earring and no one knows why she would have it.  They keep talking to Mrs. Kaplan, thinking she must be involved somehow.  Mrs. Kaplan has no choice.  She and Ida will have to solve the mystery if they are to get any peace.

I especially liked the niece who has a burglar for a friend.  Wouldn't that be handy?  (No stealing, of course.  Just investigation.)  It takes lots of bits and pieces, misdirection and fast thinking to solve this case.  It's a good thing the cops had Rose and Ida to help them.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and plan to follow Rose and Ida on their next case.

The Red Book of Primrose House A Potting Shed Mystery by Marty Wingate

Pru is now the head gardener at Primrose House.  It was her dream and now it's a reality.  The only bad news is that her boyfriend (she prefers "fellow") is still in London.  They have to put up with weekend visits when one of them can make the trip.  The job is rewarding, she loves gardening, and she now has an opportunity to look for long lost relatives.  But being away from Chris is killing her...

Alibi 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.  Be sure to grab the first book in the series, too.  I really like Pru who is an excellent gardener but a not so great a detective.

Pru works with a young man who has the mind of a ten year old.  She keeps him busy digging holes for her, which he loves.  When he goes to find Ned and comes back and says he thinks he's sick, she rushes to see.  Unfortunately, nobody can help Ned now.  She tries to get Robbie away from him without alarming him and calls the cops.

It doesn't take long for Chris to find out what's going on.  He's concerned, asks her to stay out of the investigation, and he tells her how worried he is about her.  She appreciates his concern but losing Ned means she has to work more hours and she somehow finds herself a bit involved in the investigation.  Mostly because the police are arresting the wrong people.

You have a nice young cop and a snotty overbearing inspector who has no tact.  The young cop shares some facts with Pru when he can but the inspector is rude and just tells her to say out of it.  That's what he tells her fella, too. Everyone seems to be lying in one form or another.  When it seems someone is out to get Pru, Chris gets really upset. 

I enjoy this series.  Pru and Chris are a sweet couple.  Pru is a Texan who is trying to find her roots and what she finds shocks her.  She ends up solving another murder mystery, but she almost dies doing it.

I wonder what the author will have her up to in the next book?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

If You've Got It, Haunt It by Rose Pressey

Cookie always goes to estate sales hoping to snag some vintage clothing for her shop.  She enjoys wearing and selling the old designs.  Some she matches with new items; some she keeps all vintage.  You never know what you might discover at an estate sale.  Somehow she never expected to discover a ghost...

Kensington Books and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published December 2nd, so make a note to grab a copy then.

She's chatting with an "in your face" kind of lady while trying to shop and she's just about going to ask for help to get rid of her when the lady tells her she's been murdered.  All of sudden she realizes the other shoppers think she's talking to herself.

Since this cozy mystery came from Kensington I was pretty sure I would like it.  I was right.  I'm not big on ghosts but I do enjoy mysteries and ghosts who help with the investigation tickle me.  Charlotte isn't as much help as she is hindrance, but she does make some interesting observations.  Like how hunky the new cop in town is.

The more questions Cookie asks the less she knows.  Everyone has something odd going on.  And now she's getting threats on her blog.  Who could be sending them?  And why would they unless they were the killer?

Cookie is a fun character.  She's just a typical female who likes clothes.  She's no rocket scientist but she's persistent and wants to help Charlotte.  She actually hoping Charlotte will move on if she finds her killer, but she doesn't say so.  A lot of Charlotte's friends weren't really her friends.  That makes the search even harder.

I like the new cop as a love interest.  There will be some conflict I'm sure, since I doubt Cookie will keep her nose out of other mysteries once she solves this one.  We'll just have to read the next book and see, won't we?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel

Peggy is a lady in waiting at the King's London Court.  This keeps her safe from her enemies and gives her the freedom to see the man she loves.  She thinks she's beyond the Jacobites' touch and her life is settling down.  Then the man she was betrothed to who attempted to rape her returns and wants her to honor the contract her uncle signed...

HMH Books for Young Readers and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy in your local bookstore now.  This is the second in this series and you might want to grab the first one to read them in sequence.

She is determined not to marry him and to get out of that contract.  However, her uncle demands she honor it.  Since he is her guardian, she hasn't much choice.  I was very glad to see her figure out how to wiggle out of the contract with her honor intact.

The Jacobites are still there and still very dangerous.  Not even the lords or ladies are what they seem.  Peggy is a bit spy, a bit adventurer, and determined to do the right thing.  She's playing a dangerous game and realizes she might not just have to get married to someone she hates, she might also lose her life.

There's lots action, drama, and even death in this story.  Peggy learns a bit more about the mystery man who has used her for spying; it's not all good.  She has good friends, a strong character and a love.  She perseveres.

I don't think the political wars are over or that Peggy's spying days are done yet.  Keep watching, I'm sure they'll be another book.


Whole in the Clouds by Kristine Kibby

Leave your serious side behind when you open this book.  It's full of imagination, impossible things, and is great fun to read.

Zharmae Publishing Press and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published earlier this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Cora Catlin is pudgy.  Her mother tries to keep her on a diet.  Her father supplies her with pastries.  As you can guess, she's not getting thinner.  She's also not very pretty.  This means the other kids at school like to pick on her.  Anybody different gets picked on, you know.  Her life is less than special, she has no freedom, and she sees no future.  But a walk in the woods changes all that one day...

She meets a very small man who looks almost elf-like and he tells her she's needed in another world; she's not of this world.  She can't believe what happens when she finally gets to visit this other world up in the clouds.  She's beautiful!  What little girl wouldn't like to leave her pudgy ordinary body behind and become a natural beauty?

This home in the clouds is fascinating.  They eat pastries all the time and gain no weight.  (See why I said you had to leave your serious side behind?)  Everyone is attractive and has a lovely personality.  Well, everybody except their enemy...

Cora loves her new parents but misses her old ones.  She falls in love with the son of the enemy (disaster) and she has to fight a war to protect her new home.  It's not easy living in the clouds.

The food reminded me of Piers Anthony's Xanth series.  Add in a touch of Willy Wonka and Alice in Wonderland and you have a pretty good idea of how this story goes.  I found it amusing and entertaining.  I'm sure those in middle school will like it even better.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Secret of the Mountain Dog by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

When Jax walks out to get the mail, she comes back with a Tibetan Mastiff.  If you have never seen one of these, it's a huge dog! 
Naturally her mother isn't enthused and doesn't want the dog in the house.  But the dog is following Jax everywhere, even into her bedroom at night.  Mom demands they find the owners and return it and a temporary truce reigns in the house.

Scholastic and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published in October, so you can grab a copy now.

While Jax and her family live in upper New York, their mountain area is similar to to Tibet in looks.  There is an old abandoned building up the trail from them that has been vacant since they moved in.  One night, Jax notices some lights up there and decides to go look.  That look will change her life.

Jax's mother is way too protective.  Her little sister almost drowned in the creek, and Mom wants them all to be where she can see them.  Even Jax can't go where she used to for walks.  She decides to go check out the building anyway and plans on being home soon.  What she finds is that a Buddhist monk has come to fix up the building and they will be using it as a temple.  She's happy to meet a boy her age and he tells her all about Tibet.  When she finally realizes what time it is, she has to run home!

The boy and the monk are in danger.  There is a statue in storage that a thief wants for it's monetary value.  He cares not what happens to anyone who gets in his way.  I think what happens probably has changed his mind about that.

It's got action, friendship, the discussion of the issue of trust, and the mysterious dog.  Together, that makes a good story and you learn about about Tibet on the way.  I found it to be a fun read.  Give it a try!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Tree of Water (The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme #4) by Elizabeth Haydon

When I was in grade school, I read Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath the Sea".  It was wondrous and odd and scared me in some ways.  This story reminds me of that tale...

PR by the Book and Tor Teen sent me a copy of this book to review (thank you).  It was published at the end of October, so you can grab a copy now.  This is the fourth in the series but the only I've read so far.  It stands alone just fine.

I'm fond of grand adventure stories and that's what you have here.  Ven has promised Amariel he'll visit her world and his friend Char feels obligated to go along.  He's not excited about it but he's supposed to watching Ven, so what choice does he have?  Amariel tells them to go visit an old fisherman and he will give them gills to go underwater.  Personally, I thought that sounded pretty disgusting.  Thankfully two magical devices are given to Ven so they breath underwater without gills.  That sounded like a much better solution to me!

I really like Ven.  He's a true friend, he wants to help everyone and he'll suffer what he must to meet his goals and complete his quest.  He feels like a hero and we always need more of those in our life.

Their adventures under the sea are dangerous.  Everybody there is looking for food. They meet big and little sea creatures, almost get eaten by sharks, meet other undersea people, visit sea dragons, and try to find the Tree of Water to save life on earth.  The animals are quirky, the undersea people are worse and the danger is untold. These adventurers' almost lose their lives trying to save Amariel.  If that's not enough action for you, there's even a seahorse race.  What more could you want?

Anybody with a good imagination will love this series.  Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Absolutely Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick

What do you do when you find an old love note in a book?  In Truly's case, she goes on the hunt for the next note!

Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published earlier this month, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

Truly's father has lost his arm from an IED in the war and he's also lost his sense of direction.  His plans for retirement have gone out the window.  You can't have a pilot with only one arm.  He decides to take his family back home.  He's inherited the house and business there, and all he needs to do is learn how to sell books.  He finds it's no easy job to sell books in a small town.  His sister is there, though, and she has some interesting ideas.

When dad goes back to the doctor to get a new arm fitted, his sister has the store spruced up.  She gathers the townspeople, tells them what she needs, and they all chip in to help.  She ends up with some reading chairs, new curtains, a fresh paint job and a redone floor.  

When they find a first edition of Charlotte's Web, dad thinks they'll make it with the income from that.  When it goes missing, he falls into depression.

Truly is tired of his moods and feels like the invisible kid in the family.  Her mom is working now, she has to care for her younger siblings and nobody asks how she's doing.  When she found a love note in Charlotte's Web before it goes missing, she decides she's going to search it out and find the others.  She has the new friends she made in town to help her.

This has the flavor of the old classics and is a sweet tale.  Truly finds unrequited love from the past in the notes, her father comes back to life and they all have a good future ahead of them.  Underneath the basic story line is a story of hope...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough

It all started with a simple wish...

Random House Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy on the humans.  Zayele is a human girl who has been chosen to be a princess in an arranged marriage.  She doesn't want to leave home and the hills and marry a prince and live in the palace.  She has no choice, though.  

When Najwa visits the Princess on board the barge she's traveling on, the Princess grabs her and makes a wish that must be granted.  She wishes to trade her places and wants to go home.  What she doesn't realize is that home is with the jinni, not with the humans she grew up with.

Both girls are displaced and don't know how to act.  They also regret that panicked moment when Zayele activated a fire wish.  A fire wish can only be cancelled when the two young women are together and that's almost impossible to do in this instance.

This fantasy tale has many elements of surprise.  One of my favorite parts is that the girls who didn't want to get married suddenly find themselves interested in the mates left behind.  The prince falls in love with Najwa (even if he thinks she's Zayele) and Najwa's good friend falls in love with Zayele.  That's a nice ironic touch that adds some spice to the tale.

The story was told well and ends happily.  This is a good new fairy tale that is great fun to read.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Frostborn by Lou Anders

Karn is supposed to be taking over his father's farm; it's part of his heritage.  He'd rather play Thrones and Bones, but he has no choice.  Thianna is half human and half giant.  She's too small to be a giant and too big to be a human.  She has some good physical skills while Karn is good at mind games.  They'll need both those skills in this story.

Crown 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 for a copy now.

This the beginning of a new series and I liked it a lot.  You have a dragon, wyverns, Viking-like warriors, dead that can walk the land, trolls, traitors and even crabby giants.  Karn meets Thianna at the big marketplace event and likes her.  When his uncle betrays him, he's going to need her help to stay alive.  Of course, she needs his help for the same reason.

I was as surprised as Karn was over who the traitor was.  His uncle was kind, understood his frustration with inheriting the farm, and seemed content with his lot.  Then he lies to Karn and Karn's father dies trying to defend Karn.  That made my heart hurt.  But don't lose hope yet.

It's full of high adventure, exciting escapes and the story is just getting started.  It has all the elements that attract me to a story:  magical creatures, unusual characters, good versus evil, and lots of adventure.  I'm already looking forward to seeing what happens next in Karn's and Thianna's lives.  You know it's not going to be boring!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter, Birgitta Sif (Illustrated by)

Miss Hazeltine helps cats learn how to be cats.  It's not hard really, just read this picture book and you'll know how to do it, too.

Knopf Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 12th, 2015, so make a note to pick up a copy.  You won't want to miss this one if you like cats.

I really enjoyed this one.  The illustrations are luscious and colorful, the cats come in all shapes and sizes and Miss Hazeltine reminds me of the little match girl in Hans Christian Anderson's story.  She's small, but she has a big heart.

She teaches them how to stretch and arch their backs, how to climb, not to be frightened of loud noises or brooms and more.  She's patient with them and if they just want to hide and watch, that's OK, too.  When she goes out to get them milk and falls down into a ditch, it's the shyest one in the bunch that gets the others to come with him as he rescues Miss Hazeltine.

It's a sweet precious story that made me smile all the way through.  Why not get a copy for your little one?  You can both practice stretching like a cat!

Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula by Andi Watson

This is a Gothic romance like you've never seen before...

First Second Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this graphic novel for review (thank you).  It will be published in the middle of February of next year.  Make a note, because any young reader that likes graphic novels (AKA comic books) will enjoy this one.

Princess Decomposia's father is ill.  The king spends all day in bed and demands his tea, his food cooked a certain way, and can't discuss any problems without developing a headache.  That means the Princess is running the entire kingdom herself.  She's exhausted and overworked.  When the cook quits, she's at the end of her rope.  What will she do now?

The good news is she has found a new cook who is really a good cook.  The bad news, he's also a vampire.  However, he has an addiction to sweets, not to blood like most vampires.  She hires him.

He notices how things are going and makes suggestions to the Princess about ways to ease her workload.  That works out quite well.  They even talk about doing something together.  The Princess has never had a friend before.  When her father demands she fire the cook because he doesn't like the food (he never does), she and the cook decide to take a day off and go to the fair. What happens when her father finds out is amusing and ironic.

I enjoyed this read.  It was fun, silly, and cute all at the same time.  I'd like see Princess Decomposia again.  The character has great potential and she and the cook have just shared their first kiss.  Let's see where it goes from here! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (15) by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has some real challenges in this story.  I can't deny I've been waiting for another in this series to come out.  I love the style of the story, the characters, and how they handle things.

Pantheon and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to review this book (thank you).  It has been published, so go on down to your local bookstore and snag a copy.  You won't want to miss this!

Precious Ramotswe starts with a case of amnesia.  The woman in question doesn't know where she came from, what her name is, or if she has any family. The people she is staying with are trying to get her a visa to stay, but can't do that with no information.  As she watches the "unknown" woman remove lint from the man's shoulder, she wonders if maybe she does remember a few things...

Mma Makutsi has a new son and is happily married but she wants to start her own business, too.  She decides the Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe is the way to do it.  She leases the property, her husband pays for the remodeling and they're all set to go.  At least she thinks they are.

On the other side of detective agency, times are tough and Charlie has to go.  Unfortunately, Mma Ramontswe can't stand to see him upset and with no job, so she makes arrangements to hire him.  Mma Makutski has a problem with that.

While all these problems are being solved, regular life goes on.  With good tea and fat cake everyone is happy.  By the end of the book life has settled down again.  I can't wait to see what new odd cases they will be taking on.  This is a fun series to read and I always enjoy them.  If you haven't tried them yet, start with the first one.  They take on a life of their own.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rebels of the Kasbah by Joe O'Neill

This is the first three books in the Red Hand Adventures.  It's adventure and written for middle grade readers but it's not sweetness and light.  It's about being a slave in Morocco...

Blackship Publishing 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.

Slaves in Morocco are young and often stolen.  One boy is sold by his own father, one is stolen is from an orphanage, and one's entire family was killed and he was taken to be a slave.  The girl in the group was in a lovely hotel until they drug her off.  They are sold at the market and hauled across the desert to their new owner's holdings.  They aren't much better off there.

The girl becomes part of the evil warlord's harem.  He's saving her for his son.  The boys become part of his camel crew and must learn to race camels.  Those who win can eventually get their freedom.  Those who come in last, get whipped.  If you displease anyone in power, you get whipped.  If you talk back or look at someone wrong, you get whipped.  It's not a nice world here.

The captives swear to escape.  Even if they die trying, it's better than being a slave.  Slaves die all the time anyway, so what's the difference?

There is friendship, bravery, a variety of skills, and an overwhelming desire to escape and become something more.  Each person has a different goal, but they are all working for the common good.

I found the characters very interesting and I worried about them as the story went on.  The warlord is cruel; he cuts the head off any general who doesn't do his job.  Don't let someone too young read this series.

There are two more books in the series that you can read on Net Galley now for review.  They got away but the warlord is coming after them...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Have you ever heard of a sea witch before?  You'll meet a family of them in this story...

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It's on sale now so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Avery is a child that is brought up by her grandmother.  Her mother left them and moved to another part of the island.  Avery expects to become the next sea witch until her mother shows up and takes her from her grandmother.  What Avery doesn't know is that there is a curse put upon her family.  You don't become a witch without tragedy.

While her mother grooms her in how to be a lady, Avery tries to figure out how to return to her grandmother.  Since her mother has magical spells, too, it doesn't work very well when she tries to send a message and she finds she can't leave because she's bound to the town her mother lives in with her new husband.

Avery is not happy.  It's not until she meets a tattooed boy from a whaling boat that she finds someone she feels she has something in common with.  He knows some magic, too...

This is a sad story.  The curse Avery carries will prevent her from happiness in her life.  Even survival is a question.  It's not until near the end of the story that Avery understands what the curse is.  And she wishes she'd never learned...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Tiger Queens by Stephanie Thornton

I've always seen Genghis Khan as a monster.  He conquered other kingdoms and claimed their land and any of their women his troops wanted.  He killed indiscriminately to show his power, contempt and the strength of his troops, and he never faltered.  This story unveils the women behind him and the fact that he did care about his family.  It was an eye-opening read for me.

Penguin sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  This also includes a reader's guide that makes it perfect for book clubs.

Temujin was the son of a one eyed thief.  He had no stature and no future as a youth, but when his father dies and he has to return home, he leaves a young maiden he was to marry behind with a promise to return.  She waits and waits and waits and listens to tales of his exploits and what he does to work his way up to a leadership role.  When she hears he's killed his stepbrother to get authority, she wonders if she should still marry him.  That's just the beginning of the man who becomes Genghis Kahn.

He loves his wife.  When their new home is raided, she sends him off with the children and women and runs for the woods.  Unfortunately she and the old woman she was running with get caught.  She becomes another man's slave and endures many indignities with everyone watching.  She is rescued by her husband, but she knows she's pregnant and it's the other man's son.  Temujin takes her back in his tent as his wife again, although most men wouldn't.  He also accepts this baby, even when his mother tells him it's not his.  I would have expected him to kill them both.  There was more depth to him than I thought. He's a good strategist, marries his children to good matches that strengthen his kingdom, and he holds his powerful grip until death.  After that, it's the women who carry on and keep the kingdom alive.

This is historical fiction but it reads like it's happening now.  You become involved with all the characters, mourn some and root when some die, hope for happy endings but realize they don't happen much in this world.  The men had more than one wife, most women married more than once when since husbands didn't last long, and many of the women were warriors, too.  This was no life for sissies.

I enjoyed reading this book and learned a lot on the way.  I don't read much non-fiction or historical work, but this one nabbed my attention.  The women of Genghis Kahn were even more formidable than he was.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Under Starry Skies by Judy Ann Davis

Maria and Abigail are traveling West to join their uncle.  Maria will teach and Abigail will manage the restaurant/saloon.  They are running out of money and still have miles to go to get to Colorado and their Uncle.  They have been able to rent a river boat, but they don't know how to use it.  Even Amos, their faithful friend, can't handle it at his age.  What to do now?

Goddess Fish Blog and the author shared this book for review on the blog tour (thank you).  It has been published, so check wherever ebooks are sold for a copy.

Abigail will not give up.  She braces the station master and gets info on who might work with her.  The man he's recommending is brash and out spoken and has a dog just like him.  While she's there, she find out the mailbag must be delivered and they will pay $2 for that.  She takes that on and then asks about the other freight.  It's explosives and no one else will touch it.  When he says he'll pay $20 for delivery, she agrees to take it, too.

When she finds Tye, he mostly agrees to help because she has the mailbag.  His best friend wants a letter out of that mailbag and he'll do anything for him.  After all, he saved his life once.  He's hesitant when he finds out they are hauling two caskets with him and various delicate dishes, but he agrees to go.  So when he's in the middle of the river and finds out he's carrying nitroglycerine, it gets exciting.  He's more than a little upset and wants to strangle Abigail, but then Maria faints and his heart almost stops.  Can it get worse?  Oh yes, because Brett is waiting for the mailbag and will attack to get it...

I very much enjoyed this romantic western tale.  Uncle Henry has been murdered, Aunt Emma is crazy, someone is trying to run Maria out of town, Tye wants to marry her, Abigail is building up the business and Brett is annoying her by throwing in a kiss now and then.  With lots of action, a sweet romance build up and a happy ending for everyone, how could you not like this book?

Judy will be awarding a $25 Amazon Email Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  Enter here to win a $25 Amazon GC!

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! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

It Takes a Thief by Jean Louise

She's just having a drink at the local bar and doesn't want anyone to bother her.  Especially not the guy sitting next to her.  However, he won't take the hint.  And when she tries to walk, he calls her by her real name...

Goddess Fish Blog Tour and the author graciously allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  You can buy it wherever ebooks are sold.

Thieves fascinate me.  Maybe because I'm uncomfortable around people I don't know and I'm a bit clumsy so there's no way I could pull it off.  I do find them fun to read about as long as they're fictional.  In this case, the thief is not really a thief.  She returns the items she lifts.  She does it to keep her hand in it and increase her skills.  What she didn't expect was that a security guard from her past would look up her again and ask her to use those skills!

Angelina Carr (Gina for short) goes by a lot of different names and likes her freedom.  But she also likes a challenge and the feeling of adrenalin running through her body.  When Nick Aston explains how a financial management firm was milking their customers and how he wanted to make it right, she's interested.  He's a corporate security specialist and has inside knowledge on how that side works.  With her talents and his, he intends to make it right.

The problem arises when they get the info and find out there's another player involved.  The small scale crime operator has been infiltrated by a big crime boss.  Now there's even more danger in getting involved.  But they don't stop...

I enjoyed the action, the fast pace of the story and the budding romance.  I'm hoping to read more in this series.  I don't think Nick and Gina are done yet.  They're hoping for more cases!

The author will award a $15 Amazon GC to one randomly selected winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.  Enter to win a $15 Amazon GC! A RafflecopterGiveaway

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

Good luck and happy reading!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dead and Buried: A Cooper & Fry Mystery by Stephen Booth

Moorland fires are burning.  It's an attempt to cover a crime but no one knows that in the beginning.  They begin to figure out the truth when they find jackets, phones, money and identification buried in the dirt.  They don't find the missing people but here's a first clue in what really might have happened to them...

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

I really enjoy Ben Cooper as a cop.  He's a nice guy with a stick-to-it attitude.  He doesn't always understand people but he works very hard on his cases and is a good cop.  Diane Fry is abrasive, angry, and a bit mean.  She's the one who knows people and she has a quick brain.  She's also always juggling for the "win" to prove she's better than anyone else.  This team snarls at each other as much as they work together, but they do solve cases.

They are working to find the missing persons from two years earlier.  As they work on that, they find a dead body in a deserted pub and a murder investigation begins.  It's complex case with many players.  There are families with secrets.  Cooper and Fry just keep investigating and asking questions and they keep getting closer to an explanation.  They find the bodies of the missing people in a place that had been searched before.  Someone had been hiding them, but who?

I liked everything about this story except the horrific ending.  There's tragedy here that may be impossible to recover from.  Why do that to your characters?  I might be too sensitive but I feel for the characters.  

Read it and let me know how it made you feel.  Maybe I'm just a wimp.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind by Evonne Wareham

Everyone has secrets. Some are stranger than others. Madison Albi is a scientist with a very special talent – for reading minds. When she s...