Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sweet Misfortune - Kevin Alan Milne (General Fiction)

Released June 2010

Try to get through the beginning of this novel without needing Kleenex! I certainly didn't. Having chosen to start reading it while waiting for high school to let out so that I could pick up my son, I never expected to be sitting there with tears streaming down my face and nothing on hand to wipe them away, short of my shirt sleeve.

Sophie Jones has not had the easiest of lives. Tragedy struck her at a young age, and when her fiance walked away shortly before their wedding, she became convinced that happiness is a sham. She spends her days running her chocolate shop and that's all she figures life has in store for her.

When Garrett Black returns to explain why he backed out of their wedding, Sophie is unwilling to talk to him or agree to his request for a date. Instead, Garrett asks her if she'd agree to go out with him if his personal ad finds 100 people who know what true happiness is. She knows happiness is fleeting, so she agrees. She never expects his simple ad to change her world.

Part romance, part mystery and completely satisfying, I had a hard time putting Sweet Misfortune down. The problem is life kept getting in my way. Instead, I took to late night reading before bed. Thankfully, I found time last night to complete it and was mesmerized from start to finish.

I love a lot about this book. Sophie's had it rough, so it's hard not to understand her belief that happiness does not exist. Garrett...I wish he'd been a little more honest from the get go, but that would have drastically changed the story.

What I found myself wondering is why the story had to end. I was so involved in the characters that this one glimpse just wasn't enough. I'd love to see the author return to Washington and share stories from some of the minor characters. A few really grabbed me and I'd like to hear what becomes of them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Currently Reading - Sweet Misfortune


"You will soon fall in love. Caution: When people fall, something usually breaks."

I haven't finished this one yet, no thanks to a wicked thunderstorm, quarter-sized hail and no power from 8pm to after 3am. When I started reading Sweet Misfortune, I was in the high school parking area waiting for my son to come out at the end of the day and sat reading with tears streaming down my face.

Needless to say, it's been a long time since a book has so quickly captured my attention and held me an emotional hostage. The last book to affect me this way, also happened to be from Warner, and was Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

Keep an eye out for the review, it should go up tomorrow as long as my power remains on! I have a feeling that Kevin Alan Milne's debut novel is going to be the subject of many conversations regarding outstanding summer reads!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bookplate Special - Lorna Barrett (Cozy Mystery)

Released November 2009

Heroine Tricia Miles has had her fill of her two-week visitor. Pammy Fredericks needed a place to stay for a weekend and hasn't left. Tricia's determined to boot her friend out, especially now that Pammy's affecting Tricia's business. Tricia owns Haven't Got a Clue, a small-town bookstore, and loves her thriving business. The last thing she needs is her sudden guest scaring away her best customers.

After successfully getting Pammy to move on, Tricia figures all will return to normal. However, Pammy's body is found in a dumpster behind Tricia's sister's cafe. To clear her name, Tricia dives into another murder case.

I've missed the previous Booktown Mystery novels. Bookplate Special is a charming story with engaging characters and a cozy town reminiscent of the Vermont town in which I live.

The mystery itself did throw in a surprise I didn't see coming. I loved that honest approach that will change the way future novels turn out. I also loved the exploration into Freegans, something that's been making the headlines around here thanks to a group of college students. I think it's great that Freeganism is starting to expose how much store waste is still completely usable.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jailbait Zombie - Mario Acevedo (Paranormal)

Released December 2009

Jailbait Zombie is the third book in the Felix Gomez: Undead Private Eye series. Vampire Felix has battled many shocking enemies, but he didn't expect to have to face zombies. They really smell and they're not particularly easy to kill.

While battling the hordes of living dead, Felix must find out who is bringing the dead back to life. A task made more difficult by disturbing dreams. This time a teen with special powers is going to help Felix battle the enemy, but that's not all she has planned.

Felix Gomez novels are always amusing. I was psyched this time around because I'm a zombie fanatic. Love zombie movies and spend a good deal of my free time finding another old zombie movie to laugh hysterically at. Jailbait Zombie didn't disappoint in terms of story. It's fast-paced, zombies are waiting in the shadows and the reanimator is definitely a chilling sort.

I was a little disappointed with a few typos I found. If I was paying full price for this book, I'd want a level of perfection, but I did find times when the wrong word was used and that threw me off.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back to Basics: Traditional Kitchen Wisdom - Andrea Chesman/Editor (Non-Fiction)

Released February 2010

Spring's here and now is the time for gardening. Back to Basics: Traditional Kitchen Wisdom is a handy guide to growing and storing crops. It also covers topics like garden design, composting and keeping chickens and bees. In addition, you'll learn how to make your own beer and wine, as well as soda.

The book is set up so that it's easy to find the information quickly. By using the handy tips in this book, you can cut your grocery bill, eat healthier and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you make it yourself. Make jellies and jams, enjoy homemade relish and much more.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but there are aspects where I would have appreciated more in-depth advice. My neighbor keeps bees, so I know the ins and outs of beekeeping. I've been tempted to try raising chicken, and appreciated the information on that, but this is one section I would have enjoyed more if there was more information provided. There's nothing on keeping chicken over a winter in a cold northern climate. While there is advice on keeping young chicks warm enough, nothing is mentioned keeping adult birds warm.

The guide on blanching times for freezing vegetables is extremely useful, as are the recipes for jellies, jams, relishes, pickles and more. Making beer is a fun hobby and the information within is enough to get you started. I highly recommend Charles Papazian'sThe Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition (Harperresource Book) if you want to do more than dabble in homebrewing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dead and Kicking - Wendy Roberts (Cozy Mystery)

Released December 2009

Fans of Ghost Whisperer will love Dead and Kicking, the latest installment in the Ghost Dusters Mystery series. I've grown off the televisions series about a woman who sees and communicates with the dead, so finding Wendy Roberts series is a godsend!

Dead and Kicking appears to be the third book in the series, and I'll have to go back and read the others. This book certainly works well as a stand-alone novel, but I'm intrigued and want more! The heroine, Sadie Novak, runs a cleaning business, but it's the remains of those who've died that she cleans up. She'll clean up after suicides, murders and other deaths, but what people don't know is that she's also able to communicate with those who've died. She cleans up all traces of their death physically and helps them cross over.

In this novel, Sadie's father recently passed away, but his ghost refuses to move on. That makes it harder for Sadie because she misses him and really isn't sure she's ready for him to leave. Sadie's equally confused when her boyfriend returns to his drug/alcohol problems and is caught in a compromising situation with his ex-girlfriend.

But it's Sadie's latest cleaning job that is proving to be most difficult. While removing boxes from the home of a pack rat, Sadie comes across the mummified body of an infant and a very angry ghost who will physically harm anyone who tries to remove boxes from areas of the home. The ghost has no ties to the family, so Sadie's unsure why he's there and must unravel the clues by asking the homeowner, a woman with Alzheimer's.

I couldn't put Dead and Kicking down. I started reading it during my husband's Yankees vs. Red Sox game and found myself reading non-stop for a few hours. I loved the honest tie Sadie has to the ghostly remains of men and women, and I appreciated the realities of the situations that Sadie faces. She's human, makes errors in judgment and best of all, knows when it's time to stand up for herself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Can See You - Karen Rose (Suspense)

May 2010 (Paperback)

Women are dying one by one -- all crime scenes are staged to look like suicides. Detective Noah Webster knows better. He and his lackadaisical partner, Jack, realize there is a serial killer on the lam.

Eve Wilson was victim of a madman years ago. Her body and mind remain scarred by the vicious attack. When she realizes her thesis project is linked to the killings, she turns to the one man she feels she can trust, Noah.

Eve's thesis project involves studying participants in an online world where you control an avatar's social life. Her study focuses on the addictive nature of the game and how game play increases one's self-esteem. The killer lurks in the online world too and is somehow figuring out the avatars' true identities.

Their attraction to one another is obvious, but Eve and Noah cannot let their guard down. The killer has his eye on the final kill and all clues point to Eve.

I've been reading Karen Rose's books for years. Her turn to suspense novels delighted me and I Can See You is one of her best yet. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought I had the killer pegged numerous times, but failed miserably. In the end, I was just as shocked as the main characters.

Many characters in I Can See You will be familiar to long-time Rose fans. Eve, Caroline and Tom all played a part in the 2006 story Don't Tell.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lies of the Heart - Michelle Boyajian (General Fiction)

Released April 15, 2010

Katie Burelli's husband is dead. Nick worked as a speech therapist at a center for mentally challenged men and women. Sadly, Nick was murdered by a mentally handicapped man, Jerry, who the couple mentored. The trial is heating up and Katie's slowly withdrawing. She feels lost and is unsure what to do with herself. You see, Katie's perfect marriage wasn't quite so perfect. As Katie relives her marriage and Jerry's place in their lives, she begins to question who she is and what she needs from life.

Lies of the Heart is set in Warwick, Rhode Island and captures a lot of the appeal of a New England town. Almost every aspect of this story tugged at my heart. I could feel Katie's pain, disillusionment and even bewilderment at why Jerry would shoot the man he adored. That mystery unravels slowly throughout the novel.

Lies of the Heart opens with a bang and really never lets up. For a debut novel, this book is gripping. However, there were a couple aspects of the book that didn't quite work for me. Jerry's fetish towards shoes is never explained to my satisfaction and I wasn't even sure why that had to be a point carried throughout the story. I also felt the ending was a little rushed. I still find myself thinking "and then what."

With Amazon selling the hardcover version of Lies of the Heart for under $10, I definitely think this is book worth purchasing. It's got a touch of legal drama, a little romance, some mystery and powerful views into relationships.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shut Up and Kiss Me - Christie Craig (Romantic Suspense)

Released June 2010

All she wants is to get her job done, but Shala Winters is not having an easy time of it. Though she never took pictures during a Native American ceremony, Sky Gomez confiscates her camera and refuses to give it back until the week is up. She needs the camera to finish her job, but he's not caving.

When someone breaks into a number of buildings trying to get the camera. Sky becomes concerned. Someone wants the picture card and is willing to kill to get it. Sky's falling for Shala and doesn't want to see her become the next victim. The pair team up to discover what Shala photographed that's so important, all while keeping a step ahead of a killer.

I curled up in the sun and spent a good two hours unable to stop reading this book. It grabbed me from the start and held my interest until the very end. Here's to hoping there's more to come from Precious, Texas.

Shut Up and Kiss Me definitely has steamy moments, but it's well balanced with a solid mystery and engaging sub-plots. Christie Craig throws in plenty of humor that is slightly reminiscent of Janet Evanovich or Sandra Hill. The fire ant scene involving Sky's foster brother cracked me up, but as events progressed for that character, I couldn't help but feel bad for him!

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