Thursday, June 30, 2016

Drop Dead Handsome by M K Scott

She's living her dream by running a bed and breakfast.  Money is tight but she loves cooking and catering to her guests.  She's not thrilled by the idea of her class reunion students filling up her home but the money will be good.  She never expected murder!

The author and Goddess Fish Blog Tour sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  You can grab a copy on Amazon now.

Donna goes for the cheery innkeeper look as the guests begin arriving.  Her sarcastic female enemy has shown up.  The handsome boy she had a crush on shows up with his wife.  An older lady that thinks she's a sleuth is visiting.  There's a Father Christmas, too.  And the nerd that had a crush on her has arrived too.  Arnie is still hopeful she's available (she is but not for him).  Ever since the poem he wrote about her called her a hot mama, she's tried to stay away from him.

She still hopes that her relationship with the local cop will blossom into something more.  With Arnie around, she's asks him to come to the reception that night and pretend he's her boyfriend.  Things get interesting quite quickly when everyone begins drinking.  The handsome man beds the old girlfriend.  The wife hides in her room.  The sleuth drugs the drinks so everyone will sleep well and she can search for the rumored diamonds in the building but she falls asleep, too.  Everybody wakes up in the morning except for the handsome man.  He's nowhere to be found.  Even worse, his real wife has shown up and wants to know where he is.  He must have been a real womanizer to be married and have two girlfriends at the reunion. 

They find his body in the woods.  He's been shot.  So Donna and her cop friend start looking for clues.  She runs a very clean facility but she finds some dirt when she starts cleaning their rooms.  There's counterfeit five hundred dollar bill under the bed...

This is a cozy mystery at its best.  Odd characters full of quirks and a crooked trail to the truth make it a fun read.  This is the second in this series and stands alone fine.  However, you might want to read the first book, too.

Happy reading and good luck!

The author will be awarding a prize to multiple winners such as $50 Amazon Gift Cards, $15 Target or Groupon Gift Cards and other GCs and books to randomly drawn winners 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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Once Upon a Wine by Beth Kendrick

She's working when her cousin calls saying there's an emergency.  She puts her off because she's a waitress and needs to take care of her orders.  Her cousin insists she needs to drop everything and come now.  While she's trying to explain she can't, she gets fired.  Well, she has plenty of time to go now...

NAL and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 5th.

This is a cozy romance that was really fun to read.  Take three stubborn women and put them on a failing vineyard and watch the fireworks!  Her aunt has bought the vineyard as a fulfillment of long held dream.  Her cousin is trying to decide if she still wants to be married to her husband.  Cammie lost her restaurant and her boyfriend first, then her job as a waitress and her apartment.  This is a last retreat for her.

Now throw in the husband visiting and asking his wife to come back.  Add in a hot farmboy next door that Cammie was in love with long ago.  Then add the man the aunt has picked up at wine sampling party.  Now everyone has men problems as well as trying to figure out how to raise grapes and make wine.  It's a good thing they have a homemade strawberry wine recipe in the family they can use to fill in.  It's also cool that she can buy the berries from her old love, who might be her new love, too.

There are enough antics to keep you smiling and laughing and they overcome all their problems.  The French Bulldog adds his charm to the story, too.  Cammie even achieves her ultimate dream although it's not where she thought it would be.  I enjoyed this read.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Nobody is enthused about living in a nursing home.  Especially not when management changes and conditions go downhill.  Not many meals, no special treats, they get locked in their rooms and they don't get to go outside anymore.  What can they do?  When the five choir members get together and ponder that, they come up with an idea that which most of us wouldn't...

Harper Paperbacks and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 12th.

This tale is set in Sweden and these old folks could be from anywhere in the world.  They don't like being mistreated and drugged.  They don't appreciate the head nurse running off with the doctor for trysts and leaving them unattended.  Then they decide to take advantage of that.  They don't start slowly either.  Their first crime is a major art theft!

They plan it out carefully and accomplish their crime almost perfectly.  Which is really too bad because they had these visions of living prison life with three meals and TV and much better living conditions than they have in the nursing home.  After they get the ransom money from the museum, they hide what they've been able to recover and then they confess to their crime.  They plan to come back after the money when they've served their time.  But the cops don't believe them...

Their luck runs out on them and they find themselves in jail while more than one person is trying to locate the paintings.  More money trades hands.  Eventually the paintings are recovered.  But the old folks have one final hurrah left.  They do one more theft and then they leave the country.

If you think you could be 90 and doing what these kids are doing, go for it.  Me, I'm going to read.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Gris Grimly (Illustrated by), Margaret Hunt

I've read many a Grimm fairy tale in various forms as a child and as a bookseller.  This edition caught my eye because of the esoteric illustrations.  With forty tales to read, I knew I'd have a good time!

Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 26th.

If you collect fairy tales or illustrations, you'll want this book.  They offer variations on tales as well as some I've never read before.  Most are fairly dark so make sure any child you offer this to is mature enough to accept and understand them and won't be fearful.

I really like the illustrations and I also enjoyed how Ms. Hunt reworked the tales.  They are the same for the most part but they read more easily and flow better.

After reading the whole book, I have two that want I want to share with you.  One is The Bremen Town Musicians.  This story has always been a favorite of mine and it's the same in this edition.  I found a new one, though.  It's The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs.  It's devious, ironic and great fun to read.  Give it a try.

Whether you're visiting an old tale you are familiar with or finding something totally new, the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are ageless and still have messages for us.  This is a good one.

Jockey Hollow: Where a Forgotten Army Persevered to Win America's Freedom by Rosalie Lauerman

Jockey Hollow was a piece of history I never learned about since I grew up on the west coast.  I lived in Washington, visited Oregon and California and British Columbia and grew to know the history there.  I like show and tell presentations on history and this book is exactly like that.  Ms. Lauerman knows how to get the young folk's attention and she dispenses the facts in a way that makes you cringe.  Not from her writing but because of the words.

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

This is the story of a battle with the weather as well as with the British.  The soldiers were unpaid, had tattered clothing, many had no shoes and they were starving because food couldn't get to them.  They had to build huts out of logs to give them a dry place to sleep.  And it went on for a long time.  Washington got increasingly worried about mutiny, worried about desertion, and pleaded with the government for back wages, better clothes and food.  Unfortunately, the Continental money was useless and even the government was broke.  Despite all these odds, the men fought well and were tough.

It's hard to believe this was worse than Valley Forge, but it was.  The bad weather was persistent, the men were getting ill, and the fighting was getting worse.  It's a good thing the men were hardened or none of them would have survived.  

The author adds little snippets of history in boxes as supporting documents that give life to the story.  She also gives you some biographies at the end that show some of those persecuted soldiers lived a long life afterwards.

We needed the help of the French to win the war but we got it.  This is a piece of ugly history but our citizens made us proud.  OK, Benedict Arnold didn't but he wasn't the normal soldier.

This book gives you photos of how the hollow looks now.  If you're in the area, there are sites to see.  If not, there are references and videos that will show you more.  All in all, it's an invaluable reference source to a piece of war history that is not commonly known.  It's a nice job overall.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

Kate hasn't had a good life.  Her parents were performers and drug her along from place to place.  She met a man she loved who died at a young age.  She found herself pregnant.  Her parents married her to a man who gave them some money for her and she lost the baby.  Then he dies and she becomes a widow.  She has to do something to make money.  She decides she knows what she wants to be and then she has to convince her future employer she can do it.

Sourcebooks Landmark and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 1, 2017.

This is a very good read.  It's historical fiction based on real people.  Kate aspires to be the first woman Pinkerton agent.  After all, someone has to be the first.  The problem is that the men don't want a woman agent and the boss thinks she might get hurt.  She's given a test case and finds that it's not quite as easy as she imagined.  Especially not when she discovers she's not the only Pinkerton agent there that night.

Her theater experience comes in handy as she changes from one person to another and acts the part.  She does what she needs to, solves cases and advances in the company by becoming head of the women's division.  The women she hires don't always make it.  They don't have her hard core.  What she never expected was to fall in love, but fall in love she did.  When he's killed on his next assignment, she's determined to avenge his death.  She manages that, not without some personal loss.  This lady is one tough cookie whose fortitude and inner strength give her the courage to do what she needs to do despite pain. She's someone to admire for what she accomplished in life even if with all the hardships.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Lo is trying to move up in the journalist's world and this is her big chance.  Her boss is pregnant and she gets to fill in on a luxury cruise.  If she gets those aboard to remember her, she has a better chance for advancement.  She also needs to write really good reports but she can handle that.  If only she hadn't looked out on the veranda when she did...

Gallery/Scout Press and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 19th.

Lo suffers from anxiety and depression.  She has panic attacks.  When she witnesses murder, she immediately calls it in.  There is no sign of the evidence she quoted and also no sign of anyone living in Cabin 10.  She knows there was someone there, she borrowed their mascara because she forgot hers.  She shows the security man the tube.  That means nothing to him.  He humors her and investigates as well as he can under the circumstances.  Nothing is found.  And then the mascara going missing.

Is she losing her mind or did it really happen?  Security suggests the fact since that she is taking those pills and drank heavily, it might be her imagination.  After all, she was burgled right before she left on the trip and she might have mixed the two up in her mind.

Being out on the ocean means there's no escape.  There's also too many people that could be a killer.  Even her old boyfriend is acting weird and telling her secrets.  Is there anyone she can trust?

She knows what she knows, but does she?  Not knowing if you're in your right mind is very scary.  She soon finds out she did see someone die but it doesn't do much good if she's the next one to go...

This will keep you glued to your seat while reading it.  It's not a set down and walk away book; it's a keep reading book that will still be bothering you a bit when you're done reading.  The psychological suspense is top notch.  Give it a read and see.

Random Acts: A Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds Novella by J. A. Jance

Joanna is pregnant and worrying about her reelection as sheriff.  Her daughter and her husband are a bit worried about it, too, but they are being supportive.  She sure didn't need to get a phone call telling her that her mother and stepfather had been in accident.  George died, mom was in the hospital and it didn't look good.  She and her husband drop everything and head for the hospital her mother is in...

Witness Impulse and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you). It's being published today.

When Joanna and her husband arrive, they get bad news that her mother has passed on also.  Joanna is not going to take this laying down.  She gets on the phone with the local sheriff and gets permission to work with the local law to help solve this case.  Her family had no enemies.  Her mother's last words were "red dot".  She understands that is a laser sight from a rifle and tells the cop that.  He thinks it was just a traffic accident due to a medical condition until the finds the bullet holes...

Looking for a random killer isn't easy, and Joanna asks her friend Ali for help.  Top surveillance teams are hard to find, but Ali's got one.  She's also a friend and helps quickly.

I like both of these characters of Ms. Jance.  They are strong women who use their brains and their expertise to succeed at their goals.  If you haven't met them yet, check out the series on them.  There's some real good reading there.

In this case, Ali does help find the killer.  It was a silly sad thing and all the deaths involved were needless.  Joanna is going have to do some damage control in the next book.  She still has an election to get through and the will is going to cause a problem... 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia

Hattie is a high school student looking forward to graduation.  She intends to go to New York and come into her own there.  Any place is better than home and the bigger the better.  She's always excelled at everything and generally gets her own way all time.  But things are about to change...

Emily Bestler Books sent me a manuscript to read for review (thank you).  This book will be published on January 3rd.

Hattie is a bit of a mixed up kid.  She has goals and dreams and thinks everyone else should adhere to her wishes.  When she pushes the issues, she ends up ruining lives.  But when they find her dead in a deserted barn, no one realizes what a manipulator she was or how anyone could want her dead.  As they dig in the case and find DNA that matches a teacher, they think they have their killer.  

Everyone she's touched has been harmed in some way.  She was acting in her world, not being real.  She didn't understand the danger.  The murder was a moment of insanity but by whom?  The teacher denied hurting her, his wife talks to him, and he confesses.  What's that about?

The more the police dig, the uglier the truth gets.  At the end, justice is served.  But she's still impacted the small town and left her mark on many.  It will be years before wounds heal.  What's even more ironic is that Hattie left a recording behind that told the story in her own words.  This book will work on your head...

Magic Words From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit by Edward Field

The Inuits have ancient traditions passed down from their ancestors.  Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen kept a diary and Mr. Field worked on translating it and telling the Inuit's tales he found within.

Vanita Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can grab a copy now.

The illustrations in this book are vibrant and alive.  They have lots of colors, artwork of the animals in their traditional designs and the ideas that are expressed are wondrous.

Long ago, men could become animals and animals could become men.  They all got along and even simple requests or a single word could cause magic.

Looking at this world made me wish our world was more like that.  I'm content being me, but having peace and quiet would be nice.  Especially if we all got along.

This book is a joy to read.  See what you think...

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

The cake therapist is back but she's not having any luck figuring out the flavors for the monied wedding she's working on.  The daughter wants a hippie wedding, the mother is all pomp and circumstance and wants a very formal one.  How will she make them both happy?

Berkley sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can grab a copy now.

Claire is nicknamed Neely and she's an excellent pastry chef.  Her talent is being able to meet and talk to people and while they sample her goods, she picks up emotions that tell her what flavors will be their favorite.  But this mother/daughter combo send her no signals.  The only thing she picks up is some green when the mother tries to manipulate her daughter.

If that wasn't enough of a problem, her husband doesn't want to get divorced.  The fact that he ran around her and slept more with other women than with her doesn't matter.  She pushes, he pushes back.  She's got another male friend she'd like to date but she can't while she's still married because of a prenuptial agreement.  He could even take her store and her grandmother's house.  His lawyer is even taking pictures of her.

Grandma isn't doing well, her long-lost father is starting to write to her, and she still has to figure out how to do a wedding pie.  Life is complicated right now.

There's a lot of history thrown in here in between present day.  The past fascinates me and this story includes slaves as well as whites.  Some of the herbal talent goes way back.  As these memories start coming back to Neely, she learns more about her skill and about her father and family.

I like the mix of past and present and enjoyed this tale.  It also has a good ending, which very well could be a new beginning.  I'll be watching for another in this series.

Hogs of the Hedge by AC Michael

Horace's garden was infested by slugs.  He tried everything.  He even used a slingshot to send them far away but they were back every morning.  He tried salt.  They made a bridge of slugs to get across.  He only had one choice...

Publishing Push and the author allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can find a copy on Amazon.

The text rhymes, the illustrations look like they were done by a young one, and the story is a bit silly but fun to read.

Horace posts a big sign asking for help and that means the hogs will be coming shortly.  The slugs are terrified.  They've heard all these tales about how vicious they are and how they enjoy eating them.  But they still stay in the garden.  And the hogs arrive...

Turns out they are hedge hogs and they eat worms, not slugs.  But they do have an idea of how to help Horace and the slugs both.

His flowers grow well and so do his cabbages.  He might wish the slugs had gotten the cabbages...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

All Waiting Is Long by Barbara J. Taylor

Set in the 1930's, this is the story of two sisters and sacrifice.  The youngest got pregnant unexpectedly and the oldest goes with her to provide support while she finishes her pregnancy and gives the baby away for adoption.  It means Violet has to postpone her own wedding but she can't let her sister go alone; she's too young and irresponsible.  After all, she got pregnant...

Akashic Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published July 5th.

Violet is carrying guilt from the death of her older sister.  They were playing with fireworks and her sister's dress caught on fire.  She feels responsible even though her parents tell her she's not; it was an accident.  So when Lily is born, she takes care of her to make up for the past.  I'm not sure Lily was worth it.

When they are leaving the home for unwed mothers, Violet finds that Lily has left her birthday hat behind.  She goes back to retrieve it and finds the baby is being given to a mother who has lost her mind and that the nun is lying about how old she is.  Violet takes the baby in the hat box and joins her sister at the train depot.  Lily refuses to touch the baby, so Violet (who has learned that babies are precious while waiting for the birth) takes her in.  When Stanley meets her at the train, he assumes it's her baby and leaves her standing there without being able to say a word.  No marriage for her.

There is lots of drama, good and bad decisions and at the core of it all is Violet.  She stands strong, she tries to do what's right and she comes out well.  Her sister, not so much.  Violet even finds love.

This is not a book for sissies.  Bad things happen, some bounce back better than others, and some have more sense than others.  It's a story about family love and how that influences life.  It's also a story of love that rises from the depths to create happiness in an unforgiving world.  It's a good read.

Snake, Rattle, and Mole by AC Michael

Imagine a witch and a rattlesnake making music together and panhandling.  Think they would sound pretty?  No one else did either...

Publishing Push and the author let me read an ebook of this story.  It has been published, so you can grab a copy on Amazon.

The witch is sure it's the snake's fault so she tries to do magic on him.  All it does is make him bigger and take away his rattle.  He's not happy with that!  She just leaves him and goes away.

While he's crying and wondering what to do, he feels the earth move and he meets a mole.  He sneaks down into the mole's den and then talks about his problem.  The mole says he has an idea how to get his rattles back.

This witch is pretty pathetic.  She's trying to do a spell on a mouse and all it does is change its colors.  The only way she'll agree to try to reverse the spell is by a trick the mole and snake play on her.

I liked the trick and I liked the lesson the witch learned.  The illustrations are simple and look like they could have been done a young artist.  I think you could say these characters qualified as curious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

We worry about anthrax poisoning, bird flu, chemical warfare, loss of electricity and more in current times.  One thing that hasn't come up as a worry is spiders.  This story centers on the release of a sac of spiders from hell.  They are carnivorous...

Emily Bestler Books allowed me to read this ARC for review (thank you).  It will be published July 5th.

I hate spiders.  I don't mind daddy long legs but the others make me real nervous.  When I was offered this book, I knew it was about a subject I didn't like.  I made sure I read it during daylight hours.  The comfort here is that the spiders are treated like any other kind of epidemic.

The thing most chilling about this story is how easily these things spread.  They grow and die quickly but they do a lot of damage on the way.  People and shipments carry them and travel bring them from countries to other countries.  Once they are established, they go on reproducing.  It's a major problem that the US is not doing well at containing.  It's hard to study the spiders when you have several interruptions, problems and panic in your laboratory.  It worse when one of the graduate students has a spider burrow into him...

There is a lot research being done, the military is doing what they can, and not much progress is being made.  The real horror comes in the final paragraphs when the spider specialist tells the president it appears this scourge was just the first batch.  They are evolving and bigger ones will be coming.

Sure, there's going to be a sequel.  No, I'm not going to read it.  I faced my fears reading this one, I need no nightmares!  If you like being scared of out of your pants, this series will do it. 

Cleo by Sassafras de Bruyn

Cleo is not fond of the duties her life contains.  School is where people make fun of her glasses, she's always having to tidy things up, and she has no friends.  But she has a way of changing that...

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

This is a sweet story with lovely illustrations that takes you into the fantasy world of a young girl.  Her only real friend is her cat so when she sails away from the world she lives in, she will take him along.

Once she imagines the ship, she imagines a tour across the sea through a field of trees where she meets a boy.   They visit a mermaid cave, pick stars out of the sky, and fight sea monsters.  She's very brave in her imaginary world.

Did you take fantasy journeys in your childhood?  I would see somebody living in an unusual place and pretend I could change places with them for one day.  Then I would imagined what I would do and see while in that cabin by the river or in the castle I could see in the distance.

This little one is following her own dreams.  She knows what her magical life would be like.  (Please note there is no school.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

As Good as Gone by Larry Watson

He's desperate.  His wife needs surgery and is going to a hospital in another state.  His teenage daughter will be OK at home alone, but his son is only 11.  When the daughter is at work, his son will be unsupervised.  He decides to bite the bullet and ask his estranged father to stay with them.  He has no idea if he will or not...

Algonquin Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It is being published today.

Calvin is an old cowboy, living in a small trailer out on the prairie.  He's all by himself and he likes it that way.  He doesn't even have a dog.  When his son shows up out of the blue, he's suspicious.  When he finds out why, he wants to say no, so he has no idea why he says yes.

Calvin walked away from his family when his wife died in a car accident in France.  She had gone home to see her family and never made it back.  So the first thing the son does is get a promise he won't take off and leave his grandchildren alone.  He makes that promise.  The son is going to regret asking for it.

Calvin deals with problems just like he used to during his cowboy days.  He succeeds in one task he takes on (saving his granddaughter from a stalker) but he fails at another.  Part of that was his fault.  He assumed a set up he found at the garage was done by a man his son was evicting but it was actually his grandson that did it.

I was hoping for redemption, reconciliation, and a happy ending.  What I got was the tale of a man who has isolated himself and not changed since his prime.  There's no place for old cowboys today.  This book shows you why. It's an interesting look at how things change and how many remain the same.

Ferocious Fluffity: A Mighty Bite-y Class Pet by Erica S. Perl

Class is excited when the teacher comes to school with a pet for the classroom.  It's a little hamster and they all want to touch and hold it.  They're told no and they abide by the rules until the teacher oversleeps one morning and is late to class.  When he arrives at class, there's no one there!

Abrams Books shared this picture with me so I could read and review it (thank you).  It was just published June 19th.

Fluffity might be a cute little hamster but when the second grade class lets him out of his cage, he bites them.  He bites of all of them, everyone who touches him.  And some who don't even try.  Pretty soon, they are trying to get away from him.  They hide in the library.

Ms. Perl's words spin merrily from the pages with rhymes here and there and Mr. Henry Cole's illustrations are precious.  Fluffity looks pretty ferocious hanging off the teacher's knee, let me tell you!

They learn how to occupy the hamster and help him work his energy off and all is going well.  Then they get another pet.  I see another book coming since I've met the new pet.  It should be real exciting, too!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

It all begins with a high profile missing person.  She's assigned to the case and is told it is top priority.  The woman just disappeared, without taking anything with her.

Random House and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published June 28th.

Edith is smart, has a boyfriend she lives with and is going far in the world.  When she disappears, it's a crisis for her parents.  Her father is friends with one of the upper crusts in the police department, so it soon becomes a crisis for the cops, too.

Manon is a good cop but she's a disaster in her love life.  She's even gotten so desperate she's doing dating sites where they match you to someone.  That's not working out well.  She grabs this case and gets all over it.  When others despair, she pushes on.  She never expects what she will find at the end...

Edith always wanted to be perfect for her father.  She doesn't succeed.  Then she finds out he's not perfect either. It destroys her life.

Manon finds a man she thinks she loves and the sex is marvelous and then he breaks up with her.  She has nothing once again.  But she has found a young boy who is facing the death of his mother and his only sibling, a brother, has been killed.  She befriends him and it helps complete her in a way she didn't know she was missing.

While everyone thinks Edith is dead, Manon and Edith's mother don't think she is.  As they try to figure out how all the various players are involved and what really transpired, they get closer to the truth.  The truth is ugly and not at all what I was expecting.

The tale is gripping, the lives of the cops overlap with the drama of the case and before the story is over they have all been changed in some way.  I'd read another tale about Manon.  She's a complex creature and a dedicated cop.

Black Cat & White Cat by Claire Garralon

This is a very simple story in a board book that emphasizes contrasts.  The illustrations are lovely.

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy now.

The story tells you that black cats live in white houses and white cats live in black houses.  Everybody is fine with that until the cats decide to visit.  Then they find the black cat is hidden in black houses and the white cat is hidden in white ones!

We have two outdoor cats.  One is all black, one is a Tuxedo cat.  At night, unless Harley is showing you a white foot, you can't see either one of them on the porch.  So this story makes sense.

That's why the two cats must go play in the park or some other area with color so they both show up.

It's cute story done in a sturdy board book that little ones can enjoy and turn the pages, too.  Share it with your young one and teach them about black and white and contrasts.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beyond the Woods: Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran (Edited by)

Here's an interesting mix of fairy tales with horror and dread sprinkled through the stories.  You won't think of your fondest fairy tales without remembering what these authors thought up!

Night Shade Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 5th.

This book is 536 pages so you get lots of stories.  Many of the authors are well established and well read.  I prefer fantasy to horror, but some of these stories still stuck with me.

Here's the list of contents:
  • Tanith Lee – “Red as Blood”
  • Gene Wolfe – “In the House of Gingerbread”
  • Angela Slatter – “The Bone Mother”
  • Elizabeth Bear – “Follow Me Light”
  • Yoon Ha Lee – “Coin of Hearts Desire”
  • Nalo Hopkinson – “The Glass Bottle Trick”
  • Catherynne M. Valente – “The Maiden Tree”
  • Holly Black – “Coat of Stars”
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – “Road of Needles”
  • Kelly Link – “Travels with the Snow Queen”
  • Karen Joy Fowler – “Halfway People”
  • Margo Lanagan – “Catastrophic Disruption of the Head”
  • Shveta Thakrar – “Lavanya and Deepika”
  • Theodora Goss – “Princess Lucinda and the Hound of the Moon”
  • Gardner Dozois – “Fairy Tale”
  • Peter S. Beagle – “The Queen Who Could Not Walk”
  • Priya Sharma – “Lebkuchen”
  • Neil Gaiman – “Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale”
  • Richard Bowes – “The Queen and the Cambion”
  • Octavia Cade – “The Mussel Eater”
  • Jane Yolen – “Memoirs of a Bottle Djinn”
  • Steve Duffy – “Bears: A Fairy Tale of 1958”
  • Charles de Lint –“The Moon Is Drowning While I Sleep”
  • Veronica Schanoes – “Rats”
  • Rachel Swirsky – “Beyond the Naked Eye”
  • Ken Liu – “Good Hunting”
  • Kirstyn McDermott – “The Moon’s Good Grace”
  • Peter Straub – “The Juniper Tree”
  • Jeff VanderMeer – “Greensleeves”
  • Tanith Lee – “Beauty” 
My favorites were Peter S Beagle's "The Queen Who Could Not Walk" and Jane Yolen's "Memoirs of a Bottle Djinn."

Give this anthology a read and then let me know which stories you liked best!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One Minute to Midnight by Nico Rossi

Ben's specialty is hand to hand combat; Mary is a sniper.  Both have a lot of additional skills.  They're in town, undercover, doing reconnaissance.  Someone is running guns from this location and they have covers that should allow them to ask questions legitimately.  The problem is that the town is guarded and the citizens are silent everywhere.  How much can they find out without getting in trouble?  Very little.

Carina Press allowed me to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It will be published July 18th.  This is the second in this series.

Ben is tough but Mary intrigues him.  Mary has secrets and keeps them.  She's strong and she's tough.  She has no room for men in her life.  She's his backup and she'll do that with a vengeance.  No one is taking him down on her watch. Ben is determined to make Mary doesn't get hurt.  He respects her and her abilities and they make a great team.  But they are fighting against great odds.

They work for a group that operates out at the edges of the law.  Most all of them are ex-military, many are special ops, and they're the ultimate warriors.  They'll need to be.  The whole town is involved in the gunrunning scheme, either actively or avoiding it totally.  It's just them until more forces are called in.  And it's getting harder and harder to stay alive.

There are sex scenes in the story as Mary and Ben begin sharing their pasts and enjoying their  evening breaks together.  It's a bit more graphic than I like but everything about this story is hot.

With lots of action and tense moments the author holds your attention and keeps you reading.  Special Ops always fascinates me.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

This is definitely a horror story.  She's seven when this man takes her in and raises her.  Her mother and father left her with her Nana and she couldn't find her Nana.  Now she lives with the trapper and learns to survive in the woods.  She can trap, shoot, clean and make jerky just like he can.  She knows how to make a fire and how to protect herself from the animals.  But she doesn't realize she's living with the biggest monster in the woods.

Crown and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you). It will be published July 5th.

If you like deadly dark stories, you'll really enjoy this read.  It was almost too much for me.  I like having at least a spark of hope at the end of an ugly tale and this is pretty much ugly all the way through.  It was fascinating enough to keep me reading because the author portrayed the girl as having memories locked away and she made friends with a wolf cub.  The wolf actually became her savior but she didn't realize it at the time.

When she runs to get away from the magistrate and the man who did the awful things, she thought she could start a new life and find her parents.  He followed her...

The story is full of trauma and death.  The girl is naive and gets taken advantage of but she manages to get away.  No matter how far she runs, he follows.  The final showdown is ugly.  The worst part is that you can't get away from yourself...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

What's a Banana? What's an Apple? by Marilyn Singer

Here are a couple of small hardcovers that talk about fruit in rhymes.  They are illustrated by Greg Pizzoli in bright colors and you'll come up with unique uses for these two items.  My favorite part is the warning about what not to do!

Abrams Appleseed sent me the books to read for review (thank you).  The books are available now.

These are written in a simple text for the little ones to understand and help them learn to read.

At home we harvested all our apples.  So it was amusing to see one used as ball or a kick toy.  I bet your child could come up with even more ideas about how an apple can be used.
I was surprised the author didn't suggest feeding one to a monkey but she did warn about not throwing it at the cat.

These are fun to read and young ones should enjoy them.  Take a look and see what you think.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sadie's Montana Trilogy: Three Bestselling Novels in One by Linda Byler

Sadie is twenty and works at a nearby ranch as a cook's assistant and housekeeper.  She trusts horses more than she does people...

Good Books and Edelweiss gave me access to this sample to read for review (thank you).  It will be published July 12th.  

The sample I got to read was Wild Horses, this first book in the series.  Keeping Secrets is book two and The Disappearances is book three.

Sadie had a horse  when she was younger but had to leave it behind when they moved to Montana.  She loved living in Montana but never got over losing her horse.  Her father was firm about the fact that he didn't want another horse for her to spoil.  He wants her to get married, she's of age.

There aren't very many men in the local community that are Amish.  She's not fond of any of them.  Ezra wants to marry her but he's too staid and stuck in his ways for her.  As time goes on, she starts thinking maybe she should marry him.  He's still around, he's trying to improve and he says he loves her.  Just when she decides to tell him he should start courting again, they encounter the horses a few have seen in the hills.  The stallion challenges the horse on their buggy and when the event is over, Sadie is laying in the snow, on the rocks, with injuries.  In time, she learns that Ezra broke his neck.  Now she's lost her horse and she also lost her man.

She eventually gets another horse and a new man she's met she's decided to date and see what happens.  The other two books complete her story.

Sadie is a little too unsure of herself to suit me.  I prefer stronger characters.  Mark won't tell Sadie what's bothering him about his past.  Marriages aren't successful with secrets.  Both characters need to grow in maturity.  

Sea Change by Frank Viva

Eliot is going to have the worst summer vacation ever.  His mother is making him go stay with her uncle in a fishing village clear up in Nova Scotia.  He'll have to leave his buddies and his favorite activities behind.  If that's not bad enough, can you imagine getting up while it's still dark to go fishing on the cold sea?  How about dealing with maggots first thing in the morning?

Myric Marketing and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can grab a copy now.

He's expected to fill up the bait buckets but no one mentioned how they smelled or talked about the fact that there were a lot of maggots in the bait.  He lost his breakfast the first time but he eventually adjusts.  He even starts to have some fun with neighbor kids.  It's not what he wanted but it's not as bad as he expected.

There are vivid graphics, the text sometimes waves or goes sideways, and there's trouble on shore.  There's a bully that needs some guidance, a man who hits his children, and Eliot has to figure out how to fix it without making it worse.

All in all, when it's time to go home, he doesn't really want to.  Everyone hopes he will come back next year and he does, too.  Sometimes you just have to give things a chance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lost Dog: A Gideon and Sirius Novel Book 3 by Alan Russell

Michael is a K-9 officer and I'm smitten with his dog.  Sirius is a German Shepherd who will do anything to save his owner.  He's very well trained and listens to his master.  And he's the one who drags Michael out to find an injured dog near his house.  He has no idea this is the start of a new case at the time...

Thomas & Mercer and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It is being published today.  You might want to grab the first two in the series to read also.  This one stands alone fine.

After a visit to the vet, Michael takes the dog back home.  However, there's no one there.  It soon turns into a missing person case and he's at cross-purposes because it's in another jurisdiction.  The presiding cop tells to back off, it's his case.  When he points out he has her dog, he tells him that's his problem.  And so it goes...

He has Heather missing and he's worried about her, he's trying to figure out what to do with the dog, and when a new friend he's made dies on a hiking trip, he's fairly certain it was murder.  All he knew was that the retired cop said he had one "ghost" still on his mind from work.  Trying to find a ghost is hard to do when that's all you know.

When the bits and pieces begin to make sense, he has an idea of what he needs to do.  I have to say that the dogs shined in this story.  Sirius saves him from being burned to death.  Angie is the one who finds her owner.

This is action packed and has a fast pace.  I enjoyed the story and will be watching for more in this series.  If you like dogs, you'll love this story.  Give it a try. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power

He needs to get his shipment in to collect his payment.  The men want to salvage the dragon they just fought.  When he says no, they mutiny.  They give him a dingy with no sail, no oars and no food and water and set him adrift.  Right before he's sent off the ship, the apothecary speaks against the mutiny.  She also finds herself in the dingy being abandoned.  Where can they go that will help them get home?  If they can't do that, they at least need somewhere that has food, shelter and fresh water.  All they can see is the sea...

Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 19th.

They get caught in a storm and thrown up on a beach.  When he wakes up, he's not sure where she is or if she drowned.  What he discovers is that there are crabs on the beach and they're food!  As he explores the island looking for water, he finds a huge dragon.  Luckily it's dead.  He imagines how much wealth he could amass by salvaging the beast.  At the moment, he needs to evade the blue crabs that would be happy to eat him.

He makes himself a shelter and some tools and continues to wander the island.  He runs into the "poth" and they hunt together.  Eventually they stay together but there's no romance.  When she drags him up the mountainside to see what they can see up top, she explores the odd bumps that are built up.  She thinks they might have been foundations.  She unexpectedly finds a couple of dragon eggs in one and they are hatching.

This is the first sign of how dark this story is going to be.  One dragon kills the other one and they let it.  From the time he sees the baby dragon, he comes up with plan to get justice.  Unfortunately, justice isn't available, so he focuses on revenge.  The body count will be high before the end of the story.

It's a bit too dark for me.  I don't mind dangers or death in a story but this seemed a bit excessive.  Of course, I like happier endings so maybe it's just me.  Why don't you give it a read and give me your opinion?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Teddycats by Mike Storey

Bill lives in the Cloud Kingdom but he visits the forest below.  He's not supposed to but he sneaks out.  Luke, an Olingo, is his friend.  He's met his family and eaten with them and Luke wants to see his home.  Teddycats are warned they must not reveal their home to anyone.  They don't want humans after them.  Bill finally agrees to bring Luke up for a sneak peek.  It doesn't go well...

Razorbill and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this story for review (thank you).  It will be published July 12th.

Bill runs into a girl he has a crush on and she tells him off for bringing Luke in.  He tries to sneak back out, but a young Teddycat follows him and she gets caught in a trap!  When the human takes her away, Bill knows he has to get her back.

With scientists and poachers hunting them, it's not easy to find where they have taken the little one.  No one will go with them because it's too dangerous and they want to protect their home.  He starts out with a recovering jaguar, an old Teddycat guard, his friend Luke and some food and supplies.

The way is long and arduous.  There are dangers everywhere:  Animals they haven't seen before, a river to cross, a dry savannah, and traps everywhere.  Even when they get where they are going, it's hard going and they get trapped.  It looks hopeless but Bill and his friends get away and take the new friends they've made to freedom, too.

They have to find a new place to live and the only clue Bill has is the last words of the dying jaguar.  He heads toward the light and hopes he got it right...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff

Jonathan doesn't know what to do with his life.  He's a random kind of guy, says whatever passes through his mind.  He's not very focused.  A friend got him a job and he hates it, but he's not looking for anything else.  His girlfriend proposes because they can get a free wedding out of it and he agrees because he thinks it's time for him to do something like that.  And he does love her, doesn't he?  He's not sure...

Viking and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 5th.

All I have to say is thank God for the dogs!  Jonathan's brother leaves his two dogs with him since he has to go to work in Dubai.  Jonathan is not sure about it, but the dogs are.  They work on training him as a human.  They get walked, fed, petted and even sleep with him.  And they nudge him in the direction they want him to go.

Jonathan is a weak person who has to learn who he is before he can meet someone's expectations.  He calls the upcoming wedding a funeral.  It gets worse.

One of the dogs plays matchmaker which is really cute.  Animals really do things like that.  By the end of the story, the dogs almost have Jonathan in line to move on in the world.  He needed help and he got it, by accident. 

Sticks & Stones: Upside-Down Magic #2 by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins

Their magic doesn't work like regular magic does, so they have their own classes for upside-down magic.  Nory can shapeshift but when she decides to be a kitten, she might turn out to be koat:  part kitten, part goat.  That can cause problems.  And the others in the class have similar problems.

Scholastic Press and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published.  If you haven't read the first book, it might flesh out the story but this one can stand alone.

This is pure fantasy with a touch of silliness blended in.  Some of the word combinations will make you smile.  They have more than one crisis to resolve.  The biggest problem is when the school bully is telling them they have no place in the school and should be sent somewhere else.  When one of them touches her because she tripped, the bully shrinks to three inches high.  She recovers but then she's really after them.

With students trying to trigger certain reactions (to get rid of them) and unknown things happening around them, the story keeps you reading.  It's a fun story that will be continued in the next book.  This is a great series for middle school readers.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Little Girl Gone: An Afton Tangler Thriller by Gerry Schmitt

She and her husband go to a gala event in the city.  When they return, they find the babysitter hogtied and injured.  Their baby is missing...

Berkley and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 5th.

This is a creepy story with a mother/son team who make their money by selling babies.  He's a bit slow, does taxidermy on the side, and he has a pregnant girlfriend.  His mother concentrates on controlling and directing him and he does what he's told.  Even when he's told to kill someone.

The mother only wants to sell a few more babies and then she'll move to a state that gives away disability checks easily and will take it easy.  She may even leave her son behind.  What she doesn't plan on is having a very determined cop liaison who is a mother coming after her.  They've never been caught before.  She doesn't think it can happen now.

There's a lot of trauma here.  The mother who has lost her child finds out that her husband is having an affair, and loses her marriage, too.  She hates everyone and despairs about anyone finding her child.  The father attempts to pay a ransom and it was a fake call but he loses two million dollars.  While all this is going on, Afton keeps going over the statements and records and keeps coming up with new ideas for where to search.  She's not really a cop but she would like to be.

As things come to a head at the end of story, Afton is in great danger, the weather is working against them, and the mother and son are after her.  It's real hairy for a while when Afton is trying to stay alive and it gets weirder before the end.  Afton is a tough broad and I like her. 

Eeny Up Above! Jane Yolen, Kathryn Brown (Illustrated by)

Eeny is a mole.  Her sisters are very happy in their home but Eeny is more adventuress.  She goes up and samples all of the seasons of the y...