Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Challenge:

Summer is a time for light fluffy reads on the beach or at the pool, 

but that's not much of a challenge, so....

For the July Challenge

Read a book by an American Author born before the Civil War!

To help get you started I've included a link to a list of Early American Authors.

Earn one extra point for each book that you read for this challenge!

The Garden Intrigue / Lauren Willig / 388 pages

  This is another interesting spy book set in the Napoleonic era.  This time, Augustus Whittlesby is finally sick of being an awful poet when he is first lovesick over Jane (pink carnation) and then Emma, an American living in Paris.  He is always fun to read about and will be missed in the series.  The plot brings in Robert Fulton who is not only the inventor of the steam engine, but apparently also inventor of a beta version of a submarine.  It's a neat plot including real characters Fulton, Napoleon, Josephine, and Hortense as well as fictional Emma and Augustus.

Doctor Death" a Madeleine Karno Mystery/Lene Kaaberbol/289 pgs.

Madeleine Karno wants to follow in her father's footsteps and become a pathologist. The problem is that the year is 1894, and that kind of ambition in a woman is considered "unseemly." When seventeen-year old Cecile Montaine is found dead in Varbourg, Madeleine's father is called in to try to determine the cause of death, even though the family will not permit a full autopsy. Shortly after, the priest who presided over Cecile's funeral is found brutally murdered. When Madeleine's father is incapacitated with a broken leg, Madeleine is able to play a more active role in the investigations.  There are twists and turns in this mystery, with an overall air of melancholy. It's the first in a new series by this author, but I have mixed feelings about the effort. At this point, I prefer the author's Nina Borg series.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dirty Blonde / Lisa Scottoline 368 p.

Dirty Blonde / Lisa Scottoline 368 p.

Cate Fante is a strong and smart lawyer.  She only in her 30s.  When she earns an appointment as a federal judge, she wonders if she can do the job.  Even she cannot right the injustice of a high profile case where former district attorney Richard Marz is suing high powered tv producer for stealing his idea for Attorneys@Law.  When Judge Fante must rule in favor of Art Simone, Marz loses it and attacks him.  When Simone is shot dead outside the restaurant where he and his attorney are celebrating their win, Marz becomes the prime suspect, especially when he commits suicide.  Cate's secrets become fodder for the media when she becomes a target.  Look for Judges@Law set in Philly come fall prime time.  This is a fast-paced, compelling, and very believable legal thriller sparkles.  Can't wait to get another by Scottoline.

Mischief and Mistletoe / Mary J Putney and others 402 p.

Mischief and Mistletoe / Mary J Putney and others 402 p.

In a series of short stories Putney and others create romance developing over Christmas.  The stories run the gambit from a spy getting a second chance at love; to vicar's daughter pretending to be a saucy barmaid; to a case of mistaken identify.  All ends well of course.

The Whispering Trees / J. A. White / 517 pages

In The Thickety, Kara Westfall and her brother, Taff, had escaped into the forbidden thickets after magic changed their father, corrupted Grace, and forced them to run for their lives.  In this second book in The Thickety Series, Kara and Taff meet legendary Mary Kettle, an evil witch who could not resist the tenacious call of magic.  Posing as a friend, she helps Kara and Taff escape from Sordyr, the Forest Demon, while she trains Kara as a Wexari.  Kara can communicate telepathically with animals...even the animals that Sordyr has corrupted.  Sordyr needs Kara to escape his imprisonment on the island.  His release will free the creatures on the island but will threaten the rest of the world.  "Either way you look at it, someone is going to suffer...There is no right answer."  Sordyr's plans are catastrophic...  Can Kara stop him?

"Books are the most dangerous things in the world."
"Doubt is your greatest enemy."
"Memories, especially bad ones, make us who we are."
"Believe you have the power to change the world, and you will."

Lady of Quality / Georgette Heyer 299 p. Deceased author

Lady of Quality / Georgette Heyer 299 p. Deceased author

Well on the shelf, 29 year old Miss Annis Wychwood decides establishes herself in Bath.   Along the way she gets entangled with Miss Lucilla Carleton, a runaway heiress.  Everyone, her brother, her cousin, and especially Miss Carleton's guardian, everyone feels this is a mistake.   Mr. Oliver Carleton reputation as the rudest man in London precedes him.  And Annis soon learns it firsthand.  It must be that opposites attract because she find herself drawn to him and thankfully him to her.

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want To Be Your Class President / Josh Lieb / 302 pages / Celebrity Author Challenge

This book was recommended by Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show.  Although I eagerly anticipated it, I was very disappointed.  Judd Apatow said the book was "hilarious."  I didn't laugh once.  I found the main character, Oliver Watson, to be pathetic.  Although he pretended to be so to antagonize he distant, underinvolved father, his sheer genius only seemed to emphasize his alienation.  As a critique on school elections and politics in general, the book holds its own and the ending is almost redemptive.

When He Was Wicked / Julia Quinn 368 p.

When He Was Wicked / Julia Quinn 368 p.

Michael Stirling, London's most famous rake, tumbles head over heels in love with Francesca Bridgerton, 36 hours before she becomes his cousin's wife.  He is so good at keep his love hidden that he becomes her best friend and keeps his cousin as a friend too.  When Francesca's husband dies suddenly and unexpectedly, she is bereft.  Unable to cope with his new role as the Earl and continue as Francesca's friend, he leaves for India.  When he returns four years later, he finds himself still in love with her; wishing she would see beyond the rakish mask he wears.  They very slowly turn from best friends to romantics.

Graduation Day / Joelle Charbonneau / 291 pages

Book Three of The Testing Series
This final book of The Testing Series finds Valencia challenged with a special task for the President who promises that if the task is accomplished, she will end the testing.  Can Cia trust her?  Her father had told her to trust no one.  If she is to accept the challenge, she will need help. Whom can she trust?  Valencia has been raised to respect all life.  What the President wants causes her to question many of her core beliefs and examine the demands of leadership. After all the action and drama of the three Hunger Games-like books, I was a bit disappointed in the ending.  Cia says she wishes she could do more...I hope she does!

Cecile: Gates of Gold / Mary Casanova / 191 pages

The year is 1711 and young Cecile Revel is out gathering mushrooms.  Her discovery of an unmanned horse and its hapless rider cause her to rush home to get her doctor father.  After they reset a dislocated shoulder, the madame asks what they would like as a reward.  Papa responds that he would like Cecile to be granted a position at court - the court of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, at Versailles, France...and so begins the adventure.  Young Cecile is awed...and the court.  She is also disenchanted by the extravagant lifestyle while most of France was starving.  Following in her father's footsteps, she vehemently objects to bloodletting by the court physicians and is punished much as he was. 
This is an excellent period piece featuring clever use of idioms and descriptive phrasing with just the right sprinkling of French.  A glossary of French words and an Afterward comparing then and now round this Girls of Many Lands historical fiction piece.

Dying to Read / Lorena McCourtney / 313 pages

Cate Kinkaid, a fledgling PI working for her Uncle Joe, has an assignment to check in on one Willow Bishop on Meisman Street in Eugene, Oregon and write a brief report for the files.  When she arrives at the Gothic House, however, "everything about the split-personality house, the missing Amelia and Willow, and the squabbling Whodunit book club ladies struck Cate as odd."  As Cate is drawn into the investigation, her naiveté, her faith, and her past and present relationships lend depth and a refreshing innocence to the standard PI sage.  Add in one wealthy psychic, a deaf cat, a handsome white knight, a scrappy detective, and a slew of suspects and you have one very engaging read!

Independent Study / Joelle Charbonneau / 310 pages

This is book two of The Testing Series
After recommending book one in this series to my daughter, she informed me within the week that she had read all three.  I knew I had to catch up.  Book two finds Valencia Vale (Cia) at Commonwealth University with Tomas, the boy she has grown up with and loves.  Unfortunately Different career paths have been assigned them and they are separated, with Cia designated a government intern.  She quickly learns that the testing is not over.  The last year students have arranged a challenge for the first years.  If you succeed, you move on...if not...  Cia is concerned about the definition of redirection.  Is it possible that these students are eliminated...killed?
Although some violence is present, there is far less than Hunger Games and is very similar and should appeal to fans of the same.

River Road / Jayne Ann Krentz / 343 pages

"After a while you realize that everyone has an agenda.  At the top of most people's lists there is, however, usually one of two possible priorities: money or revenge."  Lucy Sheriden, a forensic genealogist, and Mason Fletcher, a former police officer who now runs a private security firm with his brother utilizing ALICE- a proprietary software, have a past together...and a present.  Lucy has returned to Summer River, a sleepy town turned wine boutique, to settle her aunt's affairs.  She and her friend have died in an auto accident on a dangerous stretch of road.  Lucy inherited her house and plans to renovate and sell it.  Mason has returned home to reconnect and rejuvenate.  When he offers to help Lucy take down some tiling blocking the fireplace, he has no idea what it will lead to.  The body in the fireplace ignites a search for truth.  What was the motive for murder - money or revenge?  Lucy and Mason are determined to solve the situation and realize they also have a future...together.
This well-fashioned tale has a cozy feeling to it and enough suspects, love-making, and murder to appeal to a widespread audience of readers.

Caught / Margaret Peterson 343 p. 20th Century + Time travel

Caught / Margaret Peterson 343 p. 20th Century + Time travel
In the 5th book of Haddix's Missing series, Jonah and Katherine jump from their classroom to 1903, where time travellers are returning Lieserl, Albert Einstein's secret daughter, to her time. They believe time has become frozen because of this aberration. Using the Elucidator, they turn invisible. However, her mother Mileva, is very sharp and captures the Elucidator. She controls the use of it to force them to reveal more than they want. She is intent in keeping her daughter. This is rich in detail about Albert Einstein's early life featuring the time he was a patent clerk. It explains the mores of the time where illegitimacy is a very big deal.

Crah and Burn / Lisa Gardner / 591 pages

Nicole Frank suffers from traumatic brain injury.  She has had two concussions in three months.  She has horrible nightmares, often in the day time.  "The real has become imaginary, the imaginary real."  After a serious car accident prior to which she was drinking eighteen year old Glenlivet Scotch, she suffers yet another concussion and a scad of additional injuries, doesn't recognize her own husband, and is frantic to find her daughter, Vero, who according to her husband is a massive mental misfire.  Wyatt Foster, one of the officers investigating the accident, wants the's why he became a detective.  It turns out that Nicky hired Wyatt's new girlfriend, Tessa, and her company, North Ledge Investigations, to find her mother, a case that "started out with a single car accident...led to an old child abduction case and a Victorian brothel.  "The case raises more questions than it answers...  This is a riveting, read, keeping the reader entranced and guessing to the last page.

"What is love, if not an exercise in faith?"
"What is love, if not perseverance...forgiveness"

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption/ Laura Hillenbrand/ 528

Unbroken is the biography of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini.  Laura Hillenbrand has written an in-dept biography of Louie starting with his 'wild child' beginnings through his struggles coping after release from a Japanese POW camp.  Louie life was filled with  adventures and close calls to fill multiple lives.  The author does a good job in detailing the wretched existence for all POW's held by the Japanese during WW II.  Louie's ability to cope was tested on a daily basis.  For more information and read a-likes see the SCCCLD website.

One Hundred Names/Cecelia Ahern/471 pages

Katherine (Kitty) Logan's career as a journalist is pretty much over after a scandal that lands both her and her bosses in court. When the judgement comes down that costs the television news program a bundle, Kitty is suspended, another word for fired. Kitty's mentor from her first job, Constance, is dying of breast cancer, but she is still happy to talk about a comeback story for Kitty at the magazine that she and her husband run and where Kitty got her start. Constance tells her to get the file from from her house, and then they will discuss what Constance has in mind for the story. Kitty jumps at the chance for redemption, but before she can get back to the hospital, Constance has slipped into a coma. She dies the next day without regaining consciousness. The magazine will be publishing a tribute issue for her, and Kitty boldly asks to write the story that Constance would have written. The problem is the file is just a list of one hundred names and nothing more. Kitty has less than two weeks to figure out the story or her career will be over for good.

This is a charming story of redemption, forgiveness and love.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Liar/Nora Roberts/501 pgs.

Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth is in a troubled marriage. Then her husband, Richard, goes missing--presumed dead--in a boating accident. Shelby's world goes crashing down when she learns that Richard was up to his eyeballs in debt--leaving Shelby to deal with the result. Trying to get her life back into order, and provide for her daughter, Callie, Shelby returns to her hometown, and family, in Tennessee. She discovers that Richard had been leading a secret life which puts her life and Callie's in danger. In typical Nora Roberts fashion, the book contains suspense, humor, and romance. It's a fast, entertaining read.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania/ Erik Larson/ 430 pages

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is the latest nonfiction work by author Erik Larson.  In Dead Wake, Larson introduces the reader to several surviving passengers and crew members of the doomed Lusitania, as well as the German U-Boat captain who ordered the firing of the torpedo.  Along the way the reader learns of the anguish of President Wilson with the death of his wife, Ellen, and the turmoil of his courtship with Edith Galt.  Both prove to be a distraction to Wilson with regards to the war in Europe.  The book is well written and makes for an interesting read.  The reader cannot help but feel emotions, if only the ship had sailed faster, if only it had left port sooner.  I found the book particularly interesting given that my husband's Great-grandmother was aboard the Lusitania when the torpedo was fired.  She died shortly after being brought ashore.   For further information and books about the Lusitania see the SCCCLD website.  Also, see more books written by Erik Larson.

Moving Finger / Agatha Christie 195 p. Deceased Author Challenge

Moving Finger / Agatha Christie 195 p. Deceased Author Challenge

In this 5th Miss Jane Marple mystery, Jerry Burton and his sister Joanna, sought out the quiet English town where he can recuperate in peace from a serious airplane accident.  Lymstock turns out to be nothing of the sort.  Someone is writing vile poison pen letters to various residents.  Jerry even gets one accusing his sister not really being his sister but his love interest.   As he moves about on his 'sticks', people seem to reveal themselves to him.  The prank becomes dangerous when one recipient commits suicide.   Then the murder occurs.  Jerry feels he has gone as far as he can in helping Inspector Nash when someone calls in her friend who is quite the expert in people and murders...Miss Jane Marple.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Last One Home/Debbie Macomber/320 pgs.

Cassie Carter and her sisters, Karen and Nichole, were close growing up--until Cassie ran away, at 18 years old, to marry Duke (a low-life). The marriage was a disaster, and now, at 31 years old, Cassie hears from her older sister, Karen. The story is one of a family reconnecting, with second chances thrown in! It's a "feel good" story without being too schmaltzy. Recommended--also, it's a stand-alone from Macomber.

The Silent Sister/Diane Chamberlain/343 pages

Riley MacPherson has come home to settle up her father's affairs. She has a house to clean up and sell, an RV park to sell and a will to execute. Her brother lives on the outskirts of town in the RV park, but he has no interest in helping her. His time in Iraq damaged him physically and mentally, but his soul was damaged before that. Living in a home that had lost the oldest child, Lisa, to suicide when he was a child scarred him deeply. Riley was only 2 at the time, so her memory of Lisa and her suicide are non-existent. As Riley goes through her father's things, she begins to discover things about Lisa and her family that have her questioning everything she thought she knew.

Good story with an ending that was just a little unrealistic, but overall, I would recommend it.

Sh*t My Dad Says/Justin Halpern/158 pages

This book evolved from a Twitter page by Justin Halpern. His father, by all accounts, is a blunt and profane man. Sometimes he is funny. Other times he is strangely aware of other peoples problems. Mostly, though, he swears like a sailor. This is our book club selection for the month in honor of Father's Day. It should be an interesting discussion.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Every Fifteen Minutes/Lisa Scottoline/435 pgs.

Dr. Eric Parrish, Chief of the Psychiatric Unit in a hospital outside of Pennsylvania, is going through an ugly separation/divorce with his lawyer wife, Alice; their seven-year- old daughter, Hannah, is in the middle of the battle. Work is going well for Eric until he takes on a private patient, seventeen-year-old Max--the care giver of his terminally ill grandmother. Max has OCD, is depressed, and is interested in one of the female students he tutors. When the girl is murdered, both Eric and Max's worlds go in a downward spiral. The book has murder, suspense, and mayhem. It keeps the reader on the edge of his/her seat. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Body in the Library / Agatha Christie 198 p. Deceased author challenge

Body in the Library / Agatha Christie 198 p.

The Colonel and Mrs. Bantry are awaken urgently by their maid with the news that there is a body in their library, a young blond girl.  Immediately Mrs. Bantry sends her car for Miss Jane Marple to solve the case in this intricately plotted murder that keeps one guessing till the very end.  The finger points first to one then to another.  With Miss Marple's keen eye for detail and knowledge of people, the murderer will be sussed out.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

And Both Were Young / Madeleine L'Engle / 241 pages / Deceased Author Challenge

Philippa Hunter and Paul Laurens meet at the Castle of Chillon and immediately forge a connection.  Both are beset by problems they are grateful to share with each other.  Philippa's mother is dead just over a year ago and her father is being aggressively pursued by Eunice who would very much like to Flip's artist father to her stable of husbands.  Flip is sent to a boarding school which she hates while her father travels to China to work on illustrations for his latest book.  Paul has lost his memory.  He was found by the Laurens in a bombed out cellar when Mrs. Laurens was singing for the troops after the war.  Together they heal past and present hurts, deal with a stranger claiming to be Paul's real father, prepare for a school ski competition that Philippa has been forbidden to enter, and realize that it is within ourselves that we find freedom or prison.
This is a most welcome, well-written, happily ever after  story, touching on the atrocities and moral challenges of World War II.

"Things that hurt people make them deeper and more understanding."

The Home / Scott Nicholson / 349 pages

Freeman Mills had been in and out of group homes for the past six years, since his father had killed his mother and been sent to prison.  Wendover Home, built by the WPA in the thirties just after the Depression, is his new home.  Freeman is diagnosed as manic depressive.  He triptraps, or mindreads.  His father has taught him this skill during his many experiments on his son.  Vicki at Wendover has the same ability and Dr. Kracowksi has the same mad experimental drive.  He administers synaptic synergy therapy to his charges.  He is playing "the God game, healing little souls...redeeming the sins of society.  Fixing God's mistakes."  Frances Bondurant, Wendover's director, is concerned about the apparitions, ghosts, and urban legends - Look out Larry, an old woman who had obviously suffered a lobotomy.  Just after the building that currently housed Wendover was completed it housed a state psychiatric hospital.  I it possible that evil was perpetrated here and still lives within the walls?  Is the government sponsored trust after the ESP or mind control or the ghosts themselves?  Can Freeman and Vicky connect amidst the insanity and escape?  This is a riveting psychological thriller set in the horror genre with an unlikely hero who looks to Clint Eastwood and other movie greats for inspiration, with excellent sidebars on the existence of God, faith, love, and life after death.

"Do the right thing the first time.  Avoid suffering and regrets."
"Hell was inside your own head, where the doors were closed, where hope never knocked, where darkness and self pity and pain were the only companions forever."

Daddy's Little Killer / L. S. Sygnet / 302 pages

Wendell Eriksson, her father, was the most prolific hired killer in the history of the world.  He had two sideline occupations...  He was an adoption specialist and "Jersey Third Eye, the most notorious low-risk armored truck thief in the five boroughs."  He pulled the wool over his brothers in blue's eye for twenty years.  Sprout was nineteen when he was convicted and his death sentence commuted to life without the possibility of parole.  He employed Morse code at his arraignment hearing to communicate to Sprout an offshore bank account number.  At thirty-eight, her husband is ruthlessly gunned down.  Was it because he was working with the FBI to bring down a mafia kingpin?  Did his wife, Sprout, and FBI agent herself, commit the murder?  Helen Hamilton agrees to work for the city of Darkwater Bay as a criminal profiler.  The police department has serious problems, unsolved cases, and a historically inept medical examiner...and a serial killer.  Not all problems are resolved in this thriller, a compelling read with multiple suspects, sexual tension, and philosophical treatment of pathological/mental predispositions, guilt, and the nature of evil.

A Deadly Bouquet / Janis Harrison / 243 pavges / Gardening Challenge

Bretta Solomon is a saint.  When her wealthy father, who abandoned the family when she was eight years old, moves to River City, Missouri to re-establish connections with her, she must deal with ambivalent and antagonistic feelings.  In an effort to keep him busy, she turns over renovations of the upper floors of her mansion to his care.  Her reaction to his demolition is truly worthy of sainthood!  In addition to dealing with her father; Bailey Monroe, the retired DEA agent she met in Branson, has just purchased a cottage on her property; and she has been asked to use her floral design talents to transform the local park for the wedding of the century.  The bride's mother is a harsh taskmaster and the other jobbers - a photographer, a hairdresser, and the wedding coordinator share a secret...a secret that leads to murder.  This delightful Gardening Mystery has just the right touch of romance, mystery, intrigue, and a most interesting plot twist.

"The quality of life is determined by its activities."
"You can't trust without forgiveness."

Only a Promise / Mary Balogh 394 p.

Only a Promise / Mary Balogh 394 p.

Balogh presents the 5th in the Survivors' Club series.  Ralph Stockwood just barely survived the Napoleonic Wars.  His three friends did not.  This haunts him as he was a leader when they were in school.  As the only heir to his family's title, he must, however, find a wife so as to have a heir.  When his grandmother's guest, spinster Chloe Muirhead, makes him a marriage offer, he decides to accept.  They strike a bargain, he to get a wife and family and she gets a promise that he will never take her to London.  She had two seasons in London that ended in disaster.  Through no fault of her own, the ton has made her a social outcast.  So when circumstances change after their marriage, Ralph feels compelled to change his promise.

Double Fudge Brownie Murder / Joanne Fluke / 356 pages

This mouth-watering mystery starts off with a Las Vegas elopement and surprise honeymoon Alaskan cruise.  The Cookie Jar bakery owner, Hannah Swensen, and her two sisters are invited.  Their mother is marrying Doc Knight and the best man, also a surprise for Hannah, is Ross Barton, a college friend, film maker, and potential flame.  Ross is contemplating a move to Lake Eden, Minnesota, Hannah's home town.  Hannah has slaydar.  She seems to be attracted to dead bodies.  While she is waiting outside the judge's chambers prior to the beginning of her trial for vehicular homicide, she hears a crash and enters the chambers to discover the judge has been bludgeoned to death with his gavel.  Of course she investigates the murder.  Several accoutrements enhance this cozy mystery:  Hannah's comparison shopping for a beau, the many recipes and personal notes, the gardening guru-like information imparted by Hannah on bell peppers and snow balls/hydrangeas... The focus in Ms. Fluke's books is quite obviously the food/recipes.  The mystery is secondary, as is Hannah's relationships with her family and beaus, but equally interesting and, of course, critical to the plot.

Surprise Island / Gertrude Chandler Warner / 178 pages / Deceased Author Challenge

This is book two of the nineteen original Boxcar Children books written by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  Today we have over one hundred books in the series written by a variety of authors who have faithfully mimicked Ms. Warner's characters and themes.  In this one we have the makings for a wonderful summer.  The four siblings are given an island by their grandfather Alden...and the island is full of surprises...from the mysterious Joe Indian the resourcefulness of the children.   This series is a must have for all elementary enjoyable, inspiring read!!

...Published the year of my birth...1949.

Night and Day / Robert B. Parker / 289 pages / Deceased Author Challenge

Paradise police chief Jesse Stone is called to investigate a most unusual case and an all too common one with an unusual modis operandi.  The local high school principal has called all her female charges together to check their underwear...and a riot ensues...  A peeping Tom (Nighthawk) has escalated to home invasion.  Jesse consults his Ozzie Smith poster for advice on how to proceed.  Mr. Parker brings Susan in from his Spenser novels and highlights Jenny and Jesse's troubled relationship as well as Jesse's budding relationship with Sonny Randall. As always, Mr. Parker has written an engaging mystery and detective spiced with romance, humor, interesting characters, and creative problem solving.

Hush Money / Robert B. Parker / 326 pages / Deceased Author Challenge

This audio was narrated by Burt Reynolds.  He did a fantastic job on the various voices and inflections, but at time mumbles made the dialogue difficult to understand.  In this Spenser mystery, Hawk asks Spenser to investigate a tenure ruling at university for one of his friends.  Denial of tenure was granted Robin Nevins when his name was linked to the supposed suicide of a young gay activist.  In addition to this pro bono gig, Spenser's main squeeze, Susan, asks him to investigate the alleged stalking of her college roommate.  Stalkee becomes stalker and Susan comes to the rescue.  The in-depth character development and interaction  make the Spenser series an engaging voyage into the world of private detectives.  This particular installment delves into the intricate workings of college politics.

Daddy's Gone A Hunting/Mary Higgins Clark/338 pages

When Kate Connelly is severely injured and Gus Schmidt is killed in an explosion at Kate's family's furniture plant, the assumption is that they were responsible for the blast in an effort to collect insurance money. Kate's sister, Hannah, and Lottie Schmidt are sure that there is another culprit, but since Kate is in a coma, there's only supposition on the part of the fire investigators. A skeleton found in a sinkhole found during the clean up of the site only adds to the mystery. Plus, evidence of a squatter in one of the wreaked delivery vans in the back of the parking lot also throws more doubt at the theory. Add several more murders and one (possibly two) fraud schemes and you have a typical M.H. Clark monstrosity. 

I loved Clark's first five or so books, but it's been decades since I've read her books. It all became come back to me while I was reading this. She has so many stories going on at once, it makes me dizzy. After I finished the book and went to bed, I woke up suddenly with the realization that she had left one part of the mystery unexplained. I went back and reread the pertinent parts and found out that she just didn't finish that part of the story. She was probably just as dizzy as I was. I don't recommend this book.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Your Next Breath/Iris Johansen/338 pgs.

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA's most valued operatives, and suddenly finds people close to her the targets of a vicious killer. The killer is seeking revenge against Ling by trying to eliminate those she holds near and dear. It's a race against the clock for Ling as she tries to eliminate her enemy. It's a fast paced, entertaining read. Recommended!

The Rook/Daniel O'Malley/486 pgs.

This book has been described as "Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters meets War of the Worlds"--and that seems a pretty apt description! Daniel O'Malley introduces us to Myfanwy Thomas, a "rook" in the Checquy organization--a secret government organization based in London. The only problem is that this Myfanwy is only occupying the body of the original Myfanwy Thomas. Confused? That's just the beginning! This is one of the most entertaining "fantasy" books I have read in quite awhile--I look forward to its sequel coming out in January 2016!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Devil's Corner / Lisa Scottoline 400 p.

Devil's Corner / Lisa Scottoline 400 p.
U.S. Attorney Vicki Allegretti's meeting with her confidential informant (CI) goes horribly wrong and she finds herself looking down the gun barrel while her CI is murdered upstairs. She just misses getting shot to death but her AFT partner dies in front of her. Resolved to find her partner's killer, she ignores her boss' orders to close the case. She forms an unlikely ally with the defendant in the case involving the dead CI, Reheema Bristow. Vicki is pugnacious and willing to take many risks to catch Morty's killer. Reheema is a product of the decaying Devil's Corner, Philadelphia. The interplay between the two is so makes this legal suspense thriller. I so hoped that this would be the start of a new series.

Where They Found Her/ Kimberly McCreight/ 324 pages

Where They Found Her, written by Kimberly McCreighton is a riveting novel set in a college town outside of New York City.  Molly Sanderson, arts and features reporter, is assigned the story when a baby is found near the Essex Bridge.  Covering this story could be a challenge for Molly who is just now coming to terms with the stillborn birth of her own child.  The story advances through the perspective of several of the town's women.  This was an enjoyable mystery with lots of possible outcomes.  For more information check out the SCCCLD website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On the Blue Comet / Rosemary Wells 329 p. 20th Century Historical Fiction + Time travel

On the Blue Comet / Rosemary Wells 329 p.

Oscar Ogilvie lives with his dad in Cairo, Illinois. He and his dad love model railroads. They spend many blissful hours together working on their layout. Their Lionel trains corresponded exactly to the real trains of the day, like the Blue Comet, Then the Crash hits. His dad loses his job and their house. Their beloved trains are sold to the local banker to give his dad money to get to California to find work. Oscar goes to live with his frugal, no-frills aunt. His drifter friend gets him into the bank to see his trains when he is a witness to a robbery gone bad. Jump, calls his friend, and he does right into the train layout, finding himself under the tin bench stamped Lionel Company. He is in the world of trains, riding with 'Dutch' to California. His life is peppered with notables of the time, Mr. H (Hitchcock), Dutch Reagon, and even a childhood acquaintance. A most delightful read and the illustrations are wonderful. Any doubt as to the identify of Mr. H, is so detailed in the illustration.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Doctor Sleep / Stephen King / 531 pages

This sequel to The Shining lives up to its predecessor and all the horror it created.  Little Danny from The Shining is now an adult and an alcoholic.  He still sees spirits and other signs that enable him to sense a person's imminent death.  Danny's enemies in this volume are even worse than the ghosts who convinced his dad to try to murder his family; they are monsters who inhale the essence of kids with the shining to survive.  These monsters look like any other elderly people travelling the country in their RVs. This is a classic Stephen King and will be enjoyed by his fans.

Finally, a Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Charles, by and for Locals, Neighborhood by Neighborhood/ Vicki Berger Irwin and Justine Riggs/ 224 pages

Finally, a Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Charles, by and for Locals, Neighborhood by Neighborhood written by Vicki Berger and Justine Riggs breaks St. Charles County into various areas and examines what each area has to offer.  The authors point out many interesting things to do in area, but it is not an all encompassing list of everything in the area.  This book would be good for someone new to the area, or looking for something new to do close to home.  For more information see the SCCCLD website.  

Seven Patients/ Atul Kumar/ 258 pages

Seven Patients written by Atul Kumar has the potential to be a very disturbing book.  The story takes place in a teaching hospital and is told by third year medical student Raj Mok.  He does not spare the gory details in sharing his experience with the reader.  The books read as if it were written by someone who lived the experience.  It is not clear from information  about the author if he really is a doctor, or just someone with medical knowledge and a good imagination.  This book is given mixed reviews by other readers.  Most feel it needs better editing.  I felt the sometimes odd turn of a sentence makes the book sound as if the narrator speaks English as a second language.

Murder Among Friends/ Steve Demaree/ 225 pages

Murder Among Friends is the second offering in the series Off the Beaten Path Mysteries written by Steve Demaree.  Thirteen friends pose for a picture at Jennifer's birthday party.  Years later they start turning up dead, with a copy of the photo left behind.  Could one of the remaining friends be the murderer or is it someone from outside the group? Several police agencies and the FBI work together to solve the mystery.  This book would appeal to the fans of Agatha Christie mysteries.  Cleanly written with introductions to each character help the reader to solve the case.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Conspiracy of Us / Maggie Hall / 336 pages / 8 discs

  Who doesn't secretly hope for some royalty in the family line? What little girl doesn't dream she is a lost princess and is waiting for her family to come get her? Avery West has moved frequently in her life. Her mother receives a 'mandate' and then the packing starts again. She longs to settle in one place long enough to make friends and to feel a part of something. At yet another new school, a new boy has attracted her attention. His name is Jack Bishop. Then he does the unthinkable he asks her to prom! When Avery tells her mother the reaction is quite unexpected. Her mother begs her not to leave the house, to stay and pack for the new move. Avery reluctantly promises but after her mother leaves decides "Why not? It is probably my only chance." Little does she know that decision will change the course of her life.
   Turns out Avery's unknown father is part of a secret society that runs the world. He has never met her and has sent Jack to bring Avery to Paris to meet the family. But another family has sent different young man for Avery and his name is Stellan. What happens next is a wild and exciting ride through Paris. A visit to the Prada store, a private airplane ride to Istanbul for a party and a trio of bad guys not far behind relentless in their pursuit of the 'girl with the violet eyes'. There is a puzzle Avery must solve and I found it almost an afterthought. It provided the author the ability to show off some Parisian history. It was a small irritation though. I loved the action in this book. The novel moved quickly and kept the reader guessing as to where they would go next. There is a cliffhanger ending. Be patient as the author hasn't published the second one yet.

Six Degrees of Reading: The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.  

Perfect Ruin: The Internment Chronicles Book 1 / Lauren DeStefano / 368 pages / 7 discs

 What if part of the earth had broken off and was floating in the sky? What if the people there thought Earth was something dangerous? What if you had no option? Morgan Stockhour has a caring mother and father. Her older brother is married and lives in the same apartment house. Her father has a job as a police man for Internment and her brother is a writer. That is on the surface. Beneath public perception Morgan is a troubled young lady. Her brother jumped off the Edge and now is blind. Her father and mother have been keeping secrets and it may cost Morgan her life.
  Fortunately Morgan has a betrothed, Basil who understands Morgan better than herself. Morgan also has a best friend Pen, short for Margaret. She has listened to Morgan's thoughts and has advised her to forget them. "It is for the best. You don't want to be singled out." Then the unthinkable happens. A murder with the body left in a public place. Then a second one and the entire city is fearful and wondering where their innocence has gone. Morgan meets the accused and she believes he is innocent. In questioning what the government is doing, Morgan discovers an underground movement and it changes her life and her friends forever.
   This wasn't an easy novel to get into. I had trouble following the narrator and fixing the time and place. That could have been a problem with the author and/or narrator but after the second disc I was considering stopping. I wasn't buying Morgan's innocent act and her voice was a bit annoying. I actually enjoyed her friend Pen a lot more. There was a lot going on in that young lady's head and I wanted to know more about her and what made Pen tick. I wasn't too thrilled with the young men. They seemed to be set dressing but maybe that will change in the next book. This is an interesting difference to all the dark dystopian young adult out there. It is a perfect society that does actually work but the existence of the Edge seems to undermine that said perfect society.

Six Degrees of Reading: MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza, Red Queen by Victoria Areyard, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.