Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Some Like it Hawk

Some Like it Hawk by Donna Andrews is the 14th book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, July 2012

The hilariously funny Donna Andrews delivers another winner in the award-winning New York Times bestselling series that has captured human and avian hearts alike. Meg Langslow is plying her blacksmith’s trade at Caerphilly Days, a festival inspired by her town’s sudden notoriety as “The Town That Mortgaged Its Jail.” The lender has foreclosed on all Caerphilly’s public buildings, and all employees have evacuated—except one. Phineas Throckmorton, the town clerk, has been barricaded in the courthouse basement for over a year. Mr. Throckmorton’s long siege has only been possible because of a pre-Civil War tunnel leading from the courthouse basement to a crawl space beneath the bandstand. The real reason for Caerphilly Days is to conceal the existence of the tunnel: the tourist crowds camouflage supply deliveries, and the ghastly screeching of the tunnel’s rusty trap door is drowned out by as many noisy activities as the locals can arrange. But the lender seems increasingly determined to evict Mr. Throckmorton—and may succeed after one of its executives is found shot, apparently from inside the basement. Meg and her fellow townspeople suspect that someone hopes to end the siege by framing Mr. Throckmorton. Unless the real killer can be found quickly, the town will have to reveal the secret of the tunnel—and the fact that they’ve been aiding and abetting the basement’s inhabitant. Meg soon deduces that the killer isn’t just trying to end the siege but to conceal information that would help the town reclaim its buildings–if the townspeople can find it before the lender destroys it in a gut-busting caper that will have giggles and guffaws coming as fast as a four-alarm fire.

Donna has done it again; she’s written a terrific mystery that is delightfully entertaining and boasts a wonderful place where eccentrically charming citizens band together to save their small town. And what a ride it was as the action never stopped in this lighthearted and humorous whodunit that kept me turning the pages. An enjoyable read and I look forward to more exciting times with Meg and the people of Caerphilly.




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: Judgment Call

Judgment Call by J.A. Jance is the 15th book in the “Joanna Brady” suspense series. Publisher: William Morrow, July 2012

When Joanna Brady’s daughter, Jenny, stumbles across the body of her high school principal, Debra Highsmith, in the desert, the Cochise County sheriff’s personal and professional worlds collide, forcing her to tread the difficult middle ground between being an officer of the law and a mother. While investigating murders has always meant discovering unpleasant facts and disquieting truths, the experienced Joanna isn’t prepared for the knowledge she’s about to uncover. Though she’s tried to protect her children from the dangers of the grown-up world, the search for justice leads straight to her own door and forces her to face the possibility that her beloved daughter may be less perfect than she seems—especially when a photo from the crime scene ends up on Facebook. A photo only one person close to the crime scene could have taken.  The gruesome picture is just the tip of the iceberg. Even a small, close-knit town like Bisbee has its secrets. Navigating her way through the unfamiliar world of social media, Joanna discovers shocking—and incriminating—information. The details build, from a hushed-up suspension, to a group of teenagers with a grudge against the late Ms. Highsmith, to a hateful video calling for the principal’s death. The video evidence points to one particular privileged boy, who’s already lawyered up thanks to his father, a well-to-do doctor determined to protect his son’s reputation. Yet the deeper Joanna digs, the more complications she uncovers. It seems the quiet, upstanding principal had a hidden past, full of mysterious secrets she’d successfully kept buried for years.As the seasoned sheriff juggles professional constraints and personal demands—budget cuts, new team members, an arrogant coroner, a confused teenager, a precocious toddler, and a high-maintenance mother—she finds herself walking a fine line between justice and family that has never been so blurred.

Oh man, what a great ride that I was on that suddenly became more than solving the recent murder of a high school principal. As the story moved forward, this quickly became a page-turner that I could not put down. Joanna is very good at her job and I enjoyed watching her put all the pieces together, especially when the matter became more personal. This was the best book yet in this riveting suspenseful series and I look forward to more adventures in Bisbee, Arizona with Joanna and her team.




Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan

I remember reading Sybil and seeing the movie.  Horrified and intrigued, I felt for Sybil's pain and fear.  Then I started hearing the rumors of it being faked.  So I read this book with an open mind.  I will say that Ms. Nathan really seems to have done intense research and made a strong case for Sybil being primarily fictionalized.  A very sad concept for me to accept.

I will start by saying, the three women involved were each a mess on their own, but once they met and came up with idea for the book, things got much worse.
Sybil (or Shirley Mason) was definitely a troubled woman with serious emotional issues.  But going to therapy with Dr. Wilbur was the beginning of a major what if scenario?  had she gone to another therapist, would things have been different for her?  better perhaps?

I do not fault Dr. Wilbur for her enthusiasm with trying to help others.  But her methods were unethical at best and criminal at worst.  Major drug usage - not just doses but combinations as well really were dangerous for Shirley and her other patients.  And there was no one to tell her to stop either.  Definitely a tale as to why we need ethical review standards.

What made me saddest, was so many of the changes used in the book were to make it less 'boring' by Ms. Schreiber.  To me, that is not a license to take a 'true' story and add shock value etc...  Truth was definitely lost along the way.

And the popularity of Sybil and what it stood for in our culture and mental health field changed so many things.  Many false diagnoses, the whole phenomenon (on controversy) re. repressed memories and accuracy of information resulting from hypnosis and drug use. 

I definitely believe people can abuse their children is horrifying ways, but it seems most of Sybil's abuse is not verified by any witnesses or evidence whatsoever.  And the doctor took it all on faith and even the journalist questioned it at times.  But money meant to much - or maybe fame.
But it leaves me feeling a bit betrayed.

Well worth reading!

Review: No Way to Kill A Lady

No Way to Kill a Lady by Nancy Martin is the 8th book in the “Blackbird Sisters” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, August 2012

Nora Blackbird—the Bucks County ex-debutante with a haute couture wardrobe, a hot job as a glamorous society columnist and a stone cold bank account—might finally have her own life just right, but everyone around her is going down in flames. Her sister Libby seems destined to be the lead character in a tabloid sex scandal. Her sister Emma is expecting a mysterious love child. Her best friend, Lexie Paine, is serving time in the slammer. And now her mobbed-up boyfriend, Mick Abruzzo—who might actually be her husband—is conducting clandestine capers from Blackbird Farm while under house arrest. What’s a good girl to do? Find a killer, that’s what! Word arrives that the sisters’ great-aunt, Madeleine Blackbird, has died in a volcanic eruption on an Indonesian island and left her fabulous country estate, worth millions, to the three of them. But when the Blackbird sisters show up to claim their windfall, they find the house in a state of disheartening decay and all of Madeleine’s to-die-for treasures gone. Worse, the mansion has been hiding a grisly secret: the body of a woman who died there many years ago. All the evidence points to a high society murder. Nora’s special bond with flamboyant Aunt Madeleine compels her to seek out the truth. With her aunt’s amorous stepson dogging her footsteps, her unscrupulous lawyer acting like a skunk, and her devoted housekeeper not to be found, Nora’s investigation is going nowhere. Good thing Mick’s close by to offer Nora distractions both dark and delightful. And, as ever, her irrepressible sisters provide some unexpected—and highly unorthodox—assistance when she most needs it.

It’s been four long years, but the Blackbird Sisters are back and I love it. Nora, Libby and Emma just inherited their aunt’s property only to discover that someone has absconded with all the valuable property and left the house in ruins. It soon appears that something nefarious has happened within the walls of Quintain and the sisters with Nora leading the way are determined to unearth the truth. This was a fun read that I enjoyed immensely in this cleverly written mystery. The Blackbird sisters are as madcap as ever and at their best in this easy-flowing and charming whodunit and along the way, we meet an aging gigolo cousin, a crooked lawyer and Ralphie who is so adorable. Mick is home and lends a helping hand in this delightfully entertaining adventure. This is the best book yet in this fabulous series and I can’t wait for more good times with the Blackbird sisters.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review - Chocolate Covered Murder


Leslie Meier


ISBN: 978-0-7582-2933-5

Lucy Stone Mystery Series

Tinker's Cove, Maine is having it's annual Valentines Celebration. This year Lucy and her husband Bill are invited but the trick is that Lucy needs to lose a few pounds. Add to this the fact that for the big night she has to get Bill into a tux.

Lucy is not very happy at work since Ted keeps assigning her puff pieces.

The winter blues have nothing on Lucy especially when both of her daughters go to work at the two rival chocolate shops in Tinker's Cove.

Long story short it's a set up for murder and murder is exactly what happens. First the fudge shop loses a contest that they have long time won. Then Dora's exhusband Max is found dead. Lucy doesn't think he it was an accident that he fell through the ice and drowned.

To put the cherry on top of the dark chocolate Tazmin the manager of the new chocolate chop is found dead and her naked body on display covered very nicely in chocolate. Now Lucy has more news but then ultimate surprise comes when her friend Corney calls her says she is handcuffed to her bed and will lucy come unlock her.

CHOCOLATE COVERED MURDER is dipped in fun and just the right amount of murder and mayhem. Needless to say I had a very good time reading this mystery. I also admit to having a little chocolate while reading it.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Going to the Bad

Going to the Bad by Nora McFarland is the third book in the “Lilly Hawkins” mystery series. Publisher: Touchstone, August 2012

Working as a TV news photographer at her hometown television station, Lilly has documented Bakersfield’s most violent crimes and tragic accidents. To stay sane and avoid burnout, she’s developed a wicked sense of humor and a very thick skin. For her, a vicious shooting is just another day on the job. But what if the victim is someone she loves?  Thrown off balance by the brutal attack on her uncle Bud in her own home, Lilly decides to handle the tragedy the only way she knows how. Using all her TV station’s resources and her own considerable skills, Lilly dives headlong into the investigation.  But even with the assistance of her well-meaning but eccentric coworkers, this story may prove her last. Because as Lilly untangles a history of her uncle’s misdeeds and betrayals, a clever killer is preparing to strike again. Can she break the story in time to prevent another murder, or will Lilly be the next victim?

When Lilly’s uncle Bud is wounded and fearing the worse, Lilly is determined to find the person responsible even if it means opening up Pandora’s box into a past best forgotten. Wow! What a great read. The fast-pace and non-stop action in this suspenseful drama kept me riveted to the pages as I could not put this book down. The tone of the story aligned with the mystery as a Lilly delves deeper into this investigation even in the face of danger. Lilly is such a strong, confident and brassy character, you can’t help but root for her as she narrows in on her target with surprising discovery. This story boasts a wonderfully crafted plot; a likable, yet quirky cast; and great banter tinged with humorous anecdotes; and is by far the best book in this adrenaline-charged series and I sure hope it’s not the last we hear from Lilly.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Dread on Arrival

  • Title:  Dread on Arrival
  • Author:  Claudia Bishop
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Original edition (April 3, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0425247074

  • A knock-off show of antiques roadshow comes to Hemlock Falls, and with it - trouble.  Some B&Es in town, obnoxious visitors, and a show-down cook-off. 

    I really enjoy this series and it is like joining old (if tempermental) friends.  And I thought it was interesting that the murder was very late in the book.  So much character and scene building - it was a nice change.  I am not one that holds to the axiom that the murder must happen within the first few chapters.  Done well is done well and THIS was done well.  I did NOT see the killer's identity and motive coming...

    And I have to say that when a hustler tried to buy Quill's own painting as a fake at a ridiculously low price - I just had to laugh! 


    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

    Oy. July came and went so fast, I have a feeling I missed most of it. However, I didn’t miss the demise of my beloved Daisy, former winner-picking wiener dog, who left this life and crossed the Rainbow Bridge on July 6. Bad start to the month.

    Then I had to spend most of the following week in Albuquerque, prepping for various surgeries. On August 15 I’ll have the stupid cataract that developed after surgery to reattach my retina removed. It’ll be a pleasure to be able to see again. Since that blasted retina decided to detach itself last December, my left eye has been totally blurry. Everyone I know who’s had cataract surgery has told me it’s a breeze, so I’m looking forward to having the surgery performed.

    On the not-so-breezy side, I’m going to have spinal surgery on September 11 (an ominous date if I’ve ever heard of one). Don’t yet know if it’ll be on my cervical (neck) spine or my lumbar (lower back) spine, but it’ll be one or the other. If it’s cervical surgery, I get to have the lumbar surgery another date. I can’t really say I’m looking forward to either of those surgeries, but if they’ll help take the constant pain away, I’ll be very happy. I also hope to regain one or two of the four inches my blasted spine has crunched from my overall height. Heck, I looked at the video of my daughter’s June wedding, and my noticed that my body’s now shaped a garden gnome! I swear, it didn’t used to look like that.

    Better news on the book front. I self-published ANGELS OF MERCY in July! This is the fourth book in the Mercy Allcutt historical cozy mystery series. ANGELS OF MERCY is so darned cozy, you never even see a body, because the dastardly deeds occur off the pages. However, lots of other kinds of mayhem are reported by Mercy, who’s turned her home into a haven for young women working to support themselves in Los Angeles in 1926. She considers she’s performing a public service. Her boss, Ernie Templeton, doesn’t share her Pollyanna attitude. But everything turns out all right in the end. You can check out the first chapter of the book (and even click on links to buy it in either trade paperback or e-book format) on my web site:

    Also, I managed to get HEAVEN SENT, a sugary-sweet historical romance I’d totally overlooked when I was generating e-books from my backlist, up on Kindle, Nook, Sony and whatever. This is actually a good book, and it features my late mother’s late cat, Monster. Again, you can check it out on my web site:  

    And I’ve fostered two dogs! Freckles, an adorable speckled (dappled) dachshund, and Billie Burke, a terrier mix, who was adopted by a New Jersey couple from the Roswell Humane Society (still not entirely sure how that happened). Billie flew to her new home on July 31 (coach class. No cargo for her). Freckles is still with me, and it’ll hurt to let her go. Sigh. I don’t know why I do this to myself. Oh, yeah. I remember. It’s for the dogs.

    Hmm. Maybe July wasn’t as boring as I’d originally thought. It was definitely full of mayhem, if not much magic.

    Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Review by Simon Brett

    Blotto and his friend go see  Light and Frothy;   a new popular show and his friend falls for the star of the show.  After his friend is k...