Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: The Murder at the Vicarage

The Murder at the Vicarage
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading Agatha Christie novels! I had never read the first Jane Marple and was delighted to find a copy of it for my Nook.

Miss. Marple kept me guessing as to who the real murderer was until the end. I love that in mystery! Off to read another Dame Christie.

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Review: In Close

In Close
In Close by Brenda Novak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am hit or miss on novels by Ms. Novak. Sometimes I enjoy them, others I need to walk away. "In Close" had me from the beginning. I couldn't put it down.

This book involves the 15 year old mystery surrounding Claire's mother's disappearance. Claire is obsessed with finding out what happened to her mother even though everyone around her tells her to let it go. On top of her grief over her mother, Claire lost her husband the previous year. This has everyone walking on egg shells around her and pushing her to let the past go so that she can heal and move on with her life.

While I read this novel, I kept trying to figure out what happened to her mother. This book has a nice balance of mystery and romance in it. I have to say that I felt that Claire's sister, who has her own problems, is very self-centered and out to destroy herself, but she doesn't mind playing the pity card when it suits her.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to others.

FTC Notice: I received a galley copy of this novel from the publisher.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I couldn't put this book down. It was a quick, interesting read.

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Review: Kate

Kate by Claudia Joseph

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After all of the hype this past summer with the royal wedding, I decided that I wanted to know a little bit more about the newest member of the royal family. This book was interesting but not quite what I was looking for. It was rather heavy into Kate's family background.

What I was looking for when I picked this book up was more about Kate herself. It is important to know where a person comes from, but in this case, I think that it is also important to know the person. I don't think that I got enough out of this book about Kate Middleton. But that is just my two cents.

Overall, this book was all right, although I found it a bit dry and tedious.

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Review: The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw this when I was at the local library and picked it up because it is one of this month's reading group books. I had seen it before but never really thought about it. After reading "The Thirteenth Tale", I have to admit that I really enjoyed this book and wish that I had picked it up sooner.

The book was well written, although a bit confusing every now and then. I thought that the characters were interesting. The story made me think as I tried to puzzle my way through the tale that Vida Winter was telling to biographer, Margaret Lea. I have to admit that as her story was unfolding, I was wondering who Vida Winter really was.

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Review: Cooking the Books

Cooking the BooksCooking the Books by Bonnie S. Calhoun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was intrigued by the title of the book and found that I enjoyed it a great deal. It is well written and the characters and situations that they find themselves in are more "real" then some that I have read. This book actually had the feel that it might be happening right now some where in the country.

Sloane Templeton is an unhappy bookstore owner when you first meet her. She does not want to spend her time running her late mother's bookstore. She is also getting over a bad marriage to an abusive husband and a breakup that involved an abusive boyfriend. While she is in a new relationship and thinks that she has met "The One", her family, including her late mother, and her friends feel that he is wrong for her and keep trying to set her up. While she is trying to get her life on track, she also has to deal with her aunt and her mother's best friend as well as people trying to kill her.

It was fun to watch her juggle the current boyfriend and the potential boyfriend as well as watching her aunt's culinary attempts.

I look forward to reading more Sloane Templeton books.

FTC Notice: I obtained an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Post: Nathan Everett - Book Arts and Digital Books

If you love books, chances are your reading experience is about more than just reading them. Even if you read books on an electronic device, you may still feel a special affinity toward holding a paper book in your hands. For example, you might read only certain books electronically, saving specific books or favorite authors for print only. You may enjoy the satisfaction of turning the pages, seeing at a glance how far you have progressed through the book and how much you have to go. You might be subtly aware of whether the story is rushing to a conclusion or will have a sudden complication based on the number of pages you’ve read or have yet to read. Maybe you even ration yourself so the story doesn’t end before you are ready. Stop now or just one page more?

Those are feelings that are difficult to replicate electronically. There is no instant feedback regarding the number of pages left. The pages are not even consistent from device to device to paper. There is no weight to the book itself. In fact, there may be no final sense of satisfaction from looking at the physical object you just mastered—no way to give a special book a place of prominence on your bookshelf.

As we progress through the stages of adopting a new technology, we may still be conflicted over what we are purportedly leaving behind. Tradition or technology? Among those things we seem to be losing is the sheer beauty of the printed page, the paper, the binding, and the artwork—the things we call book arts.

When I wrote The Gutenberg Rubric, I struggled with many of the same feelings. My heroes are rare book experts, discovering secrets on a printed page that could only have been hidden by a master craftsman casting lead type, but I am using digital bits and eBook technology to tell the story. Drs. Keith Drucker and Madeline Zayne are similarly conflicted. Keith realizes that the very tools he is using to authenticate printed works and analyze the origin of different inks are akin to the technologies that are also replacing printing and traditional book arts. Even Maddie’s library of rare books is a technological wonder where security cameras provide a constant feed to computers, air quality is measured and maintained, and the collection is protected by automated systems that make it almost impregnable.

The beautiful typography, the feel of the paper, the elegant bindings—these are part of what we love about book arts, and like Keith’s grandfather, we might sigh at their disappearance; but that doesn’t mean there is no art in eBooks. eBook arts still need to be explored and expanded upon—developed into their own unique art instead of blindly copying the printed form. Gutenberg painstakingly copied the letterforms he saw in the great Bible of Mainz as he cut the punches and made the molds for his font. Over 260 different characters were cast to cover the variations in width, abbreviations, punctuation, and ligatures. Can you imagine the monks looking at the first copy of the Gutenberg Bible and shaking their heads sadly? “They are all the same. The letters are so uniform. This is the death of the book.”

But within 10 years of the first printing, the art had begun to develop. Even the decorative initial caps were being printed with colored ink. Woodcuts were integrated with the lead type and the very form of what we call a book changed, shrinking from massive volumes on library tables to the popular octavo size (about a standard hardcover size today) that could easily be carried from place to place. We had to abandon former technology (pen and ink) and let the new technology (movable type) emerge into the art form we love so much.

The same is necessary with eBooks. We are still in the stage of trying to duplicate print on e-readers. That effort is doomed to failure. There are fundamental parameters—not limitations—of the technology that make it impractical to translate the art we created in print to digital bits. At the same time, there is a world of new possibilities. Interactivity, film and animation, audio, multi-media, or any of a dozen other things could be tacked on to an eBook. What we haven’t done yet, however, is find the unique art of the digital book.

I’m a bit of a juxtapositionist, myself. I serve on the board of the Seattle Center for Book Arts and demonstrate letterpress printing in my talks around the country, yet I hold several patents in on-screen layout and typography. All my books are available in both print and eBook formats. I’m looking forward to the future of the book while still holding on to the art of the past.

And as Keith and Maddie find out in The Gutenberg Rubric, the past may hold surprising secrets that will affect how we see the future.

The Gutenberg Rubric:

Author Info:
Nathan Everett

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen
Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book more than I did Sizzling Sixteen. Sizzling Sixteen seemed to drag a little and wasn't as enjoyable, but in Smokin' Seventeen, I found myself laughing at Stephanie and the crew.

The story was interesting and watching Stephanie try to avoid her mother's matchmaking attempts was fun. Hopefully, the next book will be better as well.

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Review: Dead Even

Dead Even
Dead Even by Brad Meltzer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dead Even was ok. I struggled with this book to get it finished. I just couldn't get into either the story or the characters. I guess that I expected more from Brad Meltzer. I'll try something else that he has written and, hopefully, that will be a better experience than this was.


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Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to say that I did enjoy this book. I wasn't sure, but the title intrigued me and I had to read it. It's an interesting premise of Abraham Lincoln being a vampire hunter throughout his life.

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Review: Fatal Consequences

Fatal Consequences
Fatal Consequences by Marie Force

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first Marie Force book that I have read and I really enjoyed it. The characters pulled me in right from the start which is always a good sign for me with a new author. I enjoyed the interaction between Sam and Nick. In some ways, they reminded me of Eve and Roarke from J. D. Robb's In Death Series which I love.

I didn't want to put this book down. The story and characters kept pulling me back to read whenever I needed to put it down. When I find a book or series that does that, I need to read more by that author. Since this book is the third in a series, I am going back to read the first two books. I am looking forward to seeing how these characters develop over time.

FTC Notice: I obtained an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Review: The Mogul's Maybe Marriage

The Mogul's Maybe Marriage
The Mogul's Maybe Marriage by Mindy Klasky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to say that I thought that this was a little "heavy" for a Harlequin romance. When I pick up a Harlequin, it's because I am looking for something that is easy to read and won't engage my mind that much. This book dealt with some serious issues that, while interesting to read about, I'm not normally expecting to have to deal with in a Harlequin.

Having said that, this book was well written and I did like the characters. The characters were engaging and how they handled their situation was interesting. They did have me laughing at some of their antics, especially with Daisy.

I did enjoy this book, it was just heavier then I wanted/was expecting to read.

FTC Notice: I obtained an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Review: The Fifth Kingdom

The Fifth Kingdom
The Fifth Kingdom by Caridad Piñeiro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I obtained a copy of this book from NetGalley. The premise of the story caught my eye and intrigued me. I greatly enjoy reading about other cultures, especially their history so I was looking forward to reading The Fifth Kingdom. I was not disappointed.

The characters were enjoyable and well written. I enjoyed traveling through Mexico with Bill Santana, a CIA agent, and Dr. Deanna Vasquez as they searched for Deanna's long, en-strangled mother, Miranda, and the location of Montezuma's lost tomb, which Miranda claims to have located before disappearing.

The chemistry between Bill and Deanna was fun to watch. Their romance was a interesting foil to the mystery of finding her Miranda and the possibility of finding Montezuma's tomb. Ms. Pineiro did a great job of blending Mexican history and the search of Montezuma's lost tomb into this suspense.

FTC Notice: I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Post - Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

A journey in to the wandering mind of Azra’s Pith…

I was sort of a space cadet as a kid― always in my own little world. I had stories running through my head all the time. The main presence in all my adventures was this lonely, wandering soul on a never ending journey of great importance.

I never thought about it then, but I’ pretty sure the wandering hero (sort of) was a reflection of me, and the magical adventures I wanted to take. When I read THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis, I turned into a tireless seeker of portals. The thought of entering another realm through my closet was fantastic! The ideas for the Azra’s Pith series were always there, I just never thought to write them down until my son was born. Alexander Drake became crystal clear – he was my wandering hero.

A couple of the characters are loosely based on personalities that have stood out in my life. Of course, I exaggerated or understated them depending on the personality. Beatrice (Alexander’s Grandmother) is based on my grandmother. She lived in an old yellow house in the woods. Some of my fondest childhood memories were created during my visits there. Ferdinand, the fearless hopper, and Julien, the wise and somewhat silly empyrean wizard are both part of my imaginary cast of characters that have been with me for years.

I started out with the intention of writing short stories to read to my son and the series evolved from there. When I finished the final chapter of part one, I already knew how the entire series would unfold. I’m on part three and trying my best to take my time. I don’t know how I will feel when it all ends.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Alexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit

Alexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit Alexander Drake's Extraordinary Pursuit by Elizabeth Parkinson Bellows My rating: 4 of 5 stars I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The title sounded interesting so when I was given the opportunity to read a copy of this book, I took it. The main character, Alexander, is spending time at his grandmother's house while his father is away on a trip. While exploring the woods around her house, he stumbles onto the entrance to another world. The story takes you on his journey through this world as he tries to learn more about the mother that he never knew. The story and characters are well written and interesting. I was able to quickly read this book because I was caught up in the story and Alexander's journey. I am looking forward to reading about what happens to Alexander next. FTC Notice: I obtained an electronic copy of this book from the author to review as part of her Virtual Book Tour. View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review - Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Sookie, Eric and everyone else in their circle, but this book was a disappointment to me.

Parts of this book seems to be a stretch unlike previous books where the whole story flowed.  With all of the men being thrown at Sookie, I am wondering what exactly is happening with Sookie and Eric.  Is Ms. Harris looking to bring a new man into Sookie's like or just make their relationship more interesting?

There is also the information that Mr. Cataliades gave Sookie right before he went into hiding.  How does Sookie have so many enemies who are living??

Unless Ms. Harris is planning on something spectacular for Sookie in the next book, this looks like a sad ending to Sookie and Eric.  At least for my reading this series.

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Review - The Ideal Man

The Ideal Man
The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading Ms. Garwood's books when I was in high school and loved her stories. I've just started to get into her contemporary romances and I was not sure how I would like reading her in this genre. Some writers can make this switch and others, it just doesn't seem to work as well. I have to say that I have been pleased so far with the stories that I have read.

This book did not disappoint me. The story and characters were well written and very interesting. I was rooting for Ellie Sullivan from page one of the book. Ellie is definitely a strong female lead who has had a lot to deal with while she was growing up. She has been stalked by a boy from the same town that she grew up in and had to leave her home at an early age and live under another identity to avoid being found. She rarely saw her family once she left for their safety and for her own.

The story begins with Ellie leaving the ER where she works and witnessing the shooting of an FBI agent. As a potential witness, the FBI assigns Agent Max Daniels to protect her. Max was there when the first agent got shot but didn't see the shooting. He is the perfect counter balance to Ellie. He is strong and wants to protect her even though he tries to avoid getting involved with Ellie on a romantic level. Watching the romance between the two of them as they went back to Ellie's home town for her sister's wedding was fun. The story had me laughing as I enjoyed their banter and growing romance.

Her younger sister, Ava, had me wishing that I could tell her to grow up. Ava was very self-centered and needed everything to be about her and would throw a big tantrum any time any attention went Ellie's way. She was also a good balance to Ellie with her attitude and behavior.

I truly enjoyed this story and was sad to see it end. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Garwood's contemporary romances.

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Review - Death By Darjeeling

Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Shop Mystery #1)
Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this one day when I was in the bookstore and decided that it sounded interesting. When I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down.

The story line was well written and I liked how the characters were developed.

One of the things that caught my eye about this book was the title and the cover. I love tea and have several different types around the house.

This was a fun book to read. I will say that it seemed a light read to me but I really enjoyed it and can't wait to read more of this series.

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Review - The 5th Horseman

The 5th Horseman (Women's Murder Club #5)
The 5th Horseman by James Patterson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the first Women's Murder Club books and was really looking forward to this one. I have to say that this wasn't one of my favorites, either of this series or that he has written in general.

The story line was good and the characters were well written, but I just didn't like this book.

I am waiting for a copy of "The 6th Target" to come from the library.

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Review - The Midnight Show Murders

The Midnight Show Murders
The Midnight Show Murders by Dick Lochte

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to say that this wasn't one of my favorite mysteries and that I kept having to stop myself from jumping ahead to the end. It was easy for me to skip pages at a time. I guess that I was just expecting more from this story and from Mr. Roker. I'll give "The Morning Show Murders" a try but I'm not expecting much from them either.

If you are looking for some really light reading than this book will provide it.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review - Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own

Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own
Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own by Doreen Orion

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book up to read for a book club that I belong to and wasn't that impressed. There was a lot of designer name-dropping and how Ms. Orion liked to shop and not exercise at the beginning. Actually, the designer name-dropping was throughout the book. I understand that Ms. Orion comes from a background and upbringing of entitlement almost. I guess that I was hoping for more out of this book. Ms. Orion just seemed to complain a lot about exercise, life outside her front door and traveling. I enjoyed reading her descriptions about the landscape as they traveled and places that they visited on their trip.

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Review - Recovery

Recovery by Alexandrea Weis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't realize when I read this book that it was actually part of a series. "Recovery" is a great stand-alone book that I really enjoyed reading. It took me about 20 pages to get into it and I think that is because I haven't read the first book, "To My Senses" yet.

I enjoyed discovering the characters in this book. Nicci Beauvoir seemed to be having a hard time recovering from her fiance's death and was using the book that she had written about him as therapy. The interaction between Nicci's father and uncle was funny.

Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, "Recovery" is about Nicci Beauvoir's search for her fiance, David Alexander's killer. Nicci is pulled into a world of intrigue by David's old employer, Simon La Roy, who also wants to know who murdered David. Simon sends Dallas August, another employee of his, to New Orleans with Nicci. As Nicci and Dallas investigate David's murder, they set sparks off each other that go from being adversarial to romantic at the end. Nicci's family and friends are very interested in their relationship because they, particularly Dallas, are asking so many questions about David. They are not certain what to make of Dallas. At first, I don't think that Nicci was certain what to make of Dallas either.

The only thing that I didn't like about this book is how Nicci and Dallas always seemed to be screaming at each other, even when they were out in public and it would seem discretion would be the better option. Seriously. Conversations were "he screamed at her...", "she screamed at him..." Maybe that was just the sparks between the two of them, but I had a hard time with that since several of these conversations took place in public and I would have thought that they would have wanted to keep their conversations about their search for David's killer to themselves. Otherwise, "Recovery" is well written and kept me guessing who the killer was until the end. Since I enjoy mysteries that keep me guessing and don't tell me "who done it" until the end, I liked this book. I did have my suspicions about who the killer was, but there were a couple of things that had me thinking that maybe the killer was someone else. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and found it to be interesting and hard to put down.

I've added "To My Senses" to my list of books to read. I will be looking for more from this author in the future.

I obtained an electronic copy of this book from the author to review as part of her Virtual Book Tour.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review - Homefires

Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Homefires is a story set in the Deep South centering around a couple, Janeece and Kirk Crenshaw, who have been together since high school.  It follows them as they grow as a couple, have children and deal with marital difficulties.  You see how Kirk's pastoral duties affect their lives and way of handling the world around them.

I enjoyed Ms. Harvey's descriptions of the characters and their surroundings as you followed their journey.  This was a good book and something that is outside my normal type of reading material.  I'm glad that I had the chance to read it.

I obtained a copy of this book from the author to review as part of her Virtual Book Tour.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Notes on what I'm reading

Just finished this and need to write my review, hopefully in the next day or so.  

Genre - Mystery, Fiction
 Almost done.  Interesting...

Genre - Travel
 I just got this from the library last week and am done!  I'll be writing my review this week!  :)

Genre - Fiction, Vampires, Mystery
hmmm...that's all for now.  Review to come.

Genre - Fiction, Vampires, Young Adult
I finished this last week and will be posting a review on it tomorrow as part of her virtual book tour.

Genre - Fiction

Armchair BEA 2011: For the Love of Reading

Who am I, and how do I Armchair? Two interesting questions and a great way to start Armchair BEA.

Who am I?  I am a SAHM with two beautiful little girls who loves reading.  Lately, I've been thinking that I'm a repressed librarian and that I should have gotten my Master's in Library Science instead of Information Science.  Growing up, I volunteered for several years in my school library.  While I was in college, I worked in the university library and my first job upon graduating was in a library.

I made my decision about my Master's at a time when the Information Science around was booming and that was where the jobs were.  I also thought that it would be a good choice because technology is so much a part of our lives, that even libraries and books are affected by them.  Maybe I will go back to school and get my Master's in Library Science when my girls are older.

In the meantime, I will simply enjoy my love of books and reading.  At Thanksgiving, my husband gave me a NookColor as a combination anniversary/Christmas present.  I love it and am slowly building up my library with books that I love and free ones that I am able to get.  The free books are exposing me to authors and genres that I had never looked at before.  One of the things that I love about my Nook is that it is a nice size to fit into my purse and take with me anywhere.  That can't always be said of a book.  While I love my Nook, I still enjoy reading books and love the feel of a book in my hands.  There are several books that I have purchased a hard copy of instead of an electronic copy.

I armchair throughout the year by reading and blogging about what I am reading.  My blog is now almost 18 months old.  I started it as a way to keep track of what I am reading and to be more honest so that I didn't get stuck on one kind of book, but read more and explored new areas.  I started following several bloggers on both their sites and on Twitter because I liked seeing what they had to say and they frequently give me ideas for my TBR pile.

Well, that's a lot for now.  I'm hoping to have a couple of posts up later today about some of the books that I am currently reading and tomorrow there will be at least one review up.

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review - Private

Private by James Patterson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Usually, I enjoy reading James Patterson and have a hard time putting his books down. When I was reading the description for this book, I thought that it sounded interested and would be a good book. I have to say that I did not enjoy reading Private. It seemed to me that the book was dragging and I had to force myself to pick it up several times.

Unfortunately, the characters did not draw me in and hold me. Maybe I'll give this book another try in a couple of months.

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Review - Naked Heat

Naked Heat (Nikki Heat #2)
Naked Heat by Richard Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I accidentally started to read this book first. When I realized that I was missing some background on the relationship between Rook and Heat, which was pretty quick, I stopped went back. I think that I could have read this book first, but I prefer to read books that are in a series in order.

As with Heat Wave, I enjoyed this book. The chemistry between Rook and Heat and the way that they acted with each other was fun to watch. The unresolved issues between them from their romance keeps the sparks flying throughout this book.

The storyline was clever and the interaction between everyone was lively as Rook and Heat worked with and around each other to find the killer.

I hope that this series continues.

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Review - Heat Wave

Heat Wave (Nikki Heat, #1)
Heat Wave by Richard Castle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy watching Castle on ABC when I can watch it, which is not often with little ones, so I was looking forward to seeing if the books would be any good. I was not let down.

I really enjoyed reading Heat Wave. The characters were well developed and the storyline gave me background that I have missed because of not being able to see every episode. Because I saw the show before reading the book, my mental picture of the characters is the actors who portray them on television. I love the chemistry between Rook/Castle and Heat/Beckett.

I can't wait to see what happens in Naked Heat.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guest Author Post - Sandra Balzo

High on High Country
by Sandra Balzo

Ahh, spring. Not quite as exciting in South Florida as it was when I was back home in Wisconsin. I do miss the Midwest's spring weather -- not so much the winters!!

But along with the promise of summer heat and humidity, come thoughts of the High Country of North Carolina, where my fiancé, fellow crime-writer Jeremiah Healy, and I will spend a good deal of the season.

It was our first visit to the Banner Elk area, in the Blue Ridge Mountains northeast of Asheville, NC, that inspired RUNNING ON EMPTY, the first book in my new Main Street Mysteries series. The fictional Sutherton, set on the equally fictional Lake Sutherton, is a cut-and-paste job. I sort of took Grandfather Lake and shoved it up against Sugar Mountain, which is where we stay while in High Country.

Then, I added Main Street on the south side of the lake and, on it, built Mama Philomena's, the restaurant around which everything in Sutherton revolves. Mama's is across from the beach and Sal's Tap, where Sal entertains with Sinatra ballads sung to background music from his I-pod, and locals wager on tourists, whose numbers swell Sutherton's population from a little less than a thousand to "a little more than bearable," getting nailed while backing their big cars out of the angle-parking spots.

Griggs Market, on the corner, has been replaced by a coffeehouse/nightclub, but that's where AnnaLise Griggs, my reporter protagonist grew up. Her mother Daisy still lives in the apartment attached to the former market.

At the opening of RUNNING ON EMPTY, AnnaLise is called home by Mama -- the owner of Philomena's and her mother's best friend -- because Daisy, in Mama's words, "went and drained all the blood out of Mrs. Bradenham."

In this first book, just released, AnnaLise needs to figure out not only what's going on with Daisy, but also with Sutherton in general.

People are dying in greater numbers than usual, even for this quirky town where life has always been inexplicably hazardous, no matter the season. The skier who choked on her gum halfway down Deer Slope, arriving at the bottom still standing, if not breathing. The fishermen squashed like road-killed possums by a Toyota Land Cruiser against the front of Lucky’s Bait Shop. The skinny-dipping White Tail Lodge hostess, dead from hypothermia. And that doesn't count the odd tourist or two each year wandering into the mountains, never to wander back out.

But even after our intrepid reporter solves that mystery, she has another question to answer. Should AnnaLise remain in the High Country?

Since I'm going back and will be writing book number two there, I think you know what AnnaLise decides.

As for me, I'm very happy about that. Cool mountains, clear skies, fresh air and new fictional people to kill--what could be better!

With wishes for a good spring and summer to y'all,


PS: The first three books in my Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse series have just been released on Kindle (I know, Melissa—Nook is coming next!! ;-), as well as a new original novel about a fireworks family and the explosion that nearly destroys it, called HEAVEN’S FIRE. Hope you e-bookers will try them out!

Sandra Balzo...

Sandra Balzo turned to mystery writing after twenty years in corporate public relations, event management and publicity. A CUP of JO, her sixth Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse mystery came out this past fall, and Sandy's second series, Main Street Mysteries, debuted in April with RUNNING ON EMPTY. The books, set in the popular vacation destination of North Carolina's High Country, will alternate with the Maggy Thorsen mysteries. HEAVEN'S FIRE, about a fireworks show gone badly wrong, was just released directly to Kindle.

Balzo's novels have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity awards and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. In addition to her books about coffee-maven Maggy Thorsen, Balzo writes short stories, two of which have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, winning the Macavity, Derringer and Robert L. Fish awards.

Balzo has handled publicity for three Bouchercons (World Mystery Conventions), as well as the International Association of Crime Writers, and has served as a national board member of Mystery Writers of America.

The Maggy Thorsen Mysteries
TRIPLE SHOT (coming late 2011)

The Main Street Mysteries

Kindle Originals

**Available for Kindle

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review - A Crafty Killing

A Crafty Killing
A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was walking through Barnes & Noble and the title caught my eye and I decided to give the series a try. I really enjoyed this book and thought that it was well developed.

Katie Bonner has had a difficult year when she becomes the owner/manager of Artisans Alley. This was not a job that she wanted, in fact, Artisans Alley contributed to the end of her marriage. Katie has dreamed of opening her own bed and breakfast in Victoria Square. As she gets to know the artisans who rent space in Artisan Alley and becomes involved with the other business owners in Victoria Square, she ends up finding that where she is now, managing Artisans Alley, is a good place for her. She still has the dream of owning her own bed and breakfast, but she is also starting to see the possibilities of Artisan Alley under the proper management.

As I read this book, I kept trying to figure out who the killer was, but I certain didn't expect who it turned out to be. I look forward to reading more of this series.

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Review: Bullet

Bullet (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #19)
Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I put this series down a while back because I was having a hard time reading it. I recently saw this title as I was looking for something to borrow for my Nook and thought that I would give the series another try. I have to say that I liked this book. I had a good time reading it and was done with it rather quickly.

I am definitely missing some background information in this series and will need to go back and reread to find where I left off and to get caught up in the lives of Anita, Jean Claude and the rest of their group.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review - Flirt

Flirt (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter)
Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a quick read for me. I am a little out of the loop in this series and will have to go back and see what I am missing.

I hadn't realized that Anita had picked up a new power that let her draw strength/energy from a were. I also thought that it was interesting that she was able to "make" the were lion her "Bride" even though she isn't a vampire. Again, this must be something that I am missing from not having read all of the books in the series up to this point.

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Review - Treachery in Death

Treachery in Death (In Death, #32)
Treachery in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This volume of the In Death series was pretty good. I enjoyed reading it. While the plot wasn't very complicated, this book had a good pace and showed some interesting interaction between the characters.

I thought that Ms. Robb did a good job of building the characters. Peabody is definitely coming into her own as a detective and becoming more confident in her skills. Mira is shown to be capable of making mistakes in judgment, although in this book, several individuals in authority made the same mistake.

She also has me wondering if she has an end in mind for this series, though not any time soon I hope! It seemed to me that Dallas was showing more skill at handling the politics of command in this book. She knew when politics was needed and seemed to be playing the game better than she has in the past. I also noticed that Whitney seems to be asking her more frequently if she has ever though about sitting in his chair in the future.

I had a good time reading this book and can't wait for New York to Dallas to come out later this year.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review - The Painted Room

The Painted Room
The Painted Room by Tina Mikals

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up as a free e-book from Barnes & Noble for my Nook. For some reason, I wasn't expecting much from it. I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. I thought that the plot and characters were well written. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Review - Running on Empty

Running on Empty (Main Street Murders)
Running on Empty by Sandra Balzo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love finding new authors and new series to read. Running on Empty by Sandra Balzo did not disappoint me.

I was caught from the first chapter and couldn't wait to get back to the story any time that I had to put it down. The characters and the story were well thought out and developed. The story kept me guessing as I tried to figure out the killer was.

I really liked AnnaLise and can't wait to see how she develops in the next book. In this book, she has to face a couple of problems in her personal life. First is her mother, Daisy, and Daisy's health issues. Next is deciding how she is going to handle her life in Wisconsin which is temporarily on hold as AnnaLise deals with her mother in Sutherton, North Carolina.

I can't wait to read the next installment in this series and am adding Ms. Balzo's 'Maggy Thorsen' series to my TBR pile.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author.

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NookColor and reading

While I haven't posted as much as I probably should have, I have been reading a lot the last couple of months. My husband got me a NookColor for our anniversary and part of Christmas. I have been loving it!

I've been downloading a lot of free books as well a trying to figure out how to borrow and load books from  Hopefully, I will be able to start catching up on what I have been reading.  One thing that I am finding from all of the free books that I've been downloading and some of the B&N Steals 'N' Deals that I've picked up is that my TBR pile is growing significantly as I discover new authors that I like. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review - Pearl

Pearl: A Life Too Short; A Death Too Long
Pearl: A Life Too Short; A Death Too Long by Darlene Cox

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love finding new authors! Pearl is the first book by Darlene Cox that I have read and I loved it. The plot and characters kept my interest and I was unable to put this book down until I was finished. There were a number of twists and turns in this book that kept me guessing at who the killer was. I found the characters to be believable and well developed.

I can't wait to read Ms. Cox's other books.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author.

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Review - Possession in Death

Possession in Death (In Death, #31.5)
Possession in Death (In Death, #31.5) by J.D. Robb

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I did not enjoy this book very much, although I generally love this series. This book just seemed too out there for me to be believable. I hope that the next book, Treachery in Death, is better.

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Review - Animal Farm

Animal Farm
>Animal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rereading this book after so many years, now, I perfectly see and understand all of the references to Communism. It was good to read it and be able to see the parallels between Communism and Orwell's Animal Farm. This book will be a must-read 100 years from now and the lessons that it contains will still be relevant then.

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Review - Indulegence in Death

Indulgence in Death (In Death, #31)
Indulgence in Death (In Death, #31) by J.D. Robb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this installment of the In Death series. I liked the interaction between Eve and Roarke. It was good to see them get away from New York for pleasure and not because of a case that Eve was working on. It was good to see them building relationships with Roarke's family, especially since Eve doesn't have any family of her own. I thought that it was interesting to have Eve "mentor" the Irish police officer when they discovered the body in the park.

I'm not going to go into the plot once they were back in New York, because that might give the book away. This was fun book to read and I couldn't put it down. I really enjoy watching the characters grow and develop and I think all of them grew in this book. One example of that in the past, especially when the series first started, Eve would never have thought to organize an event to help someone the way she organized the barbecue to help Morris start to socialize again.

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