Friday, May 27, 2016

SCCCLD Challenge for Spring

Spring Challenge

(We are defining Spring as March, April and May)

SCCCLD Challenge for Spring 

It's an easy one!  
Read a book in which a main subject is gardening.
It can be fiction or nonfiction,
 a romance, a mystery, or a how to book.  
It's your choice.

You earn one bonus point for each book that meets the criteria.   Be sure to add the label:
SCCCLD Challenge Spring 
to your blog entry to receive credit.

For those super readers who want an even bigger challenge:
Read a poetry book about gardens for a two point bonus!

Be sure to add the label:
SCCCLD Challenge Spring Poetry

Remember we are only awarding bonus points for this challenge in March, April and May!

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On/Debbie Macomber/339 pgs.

Nichole, and her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law, Leanne, are both "moving on" after divorcing their husbands. Jake, Nichole's ex, (and Leanne's son) has followed in his father Sean's footsteps: while married to Nichole, he cheated on her with several women. Sean, with Leanne's knowledge, cheated on her throughout their 35 years of marriage. When Leanne learned that Nichole was divorcing Jake, she decided it was time for her to divorce Sean. The novel is told in alternating Nichole and Leanne chapters. They move into apartments across from each other, and support each other in this new stage of their lives. Along their journey, they each meet a new male "interest": Rocco for Nichole, and Nikolai  for Leanne. This is where the story becomes a long stretch for me: neither man seems a believable match. There are some unexpected turns, but on the whole, I don't think it's one of Macomber's best  efforts. BTW: it somewhat follows Macomber's Last One Home.

Pretty Little Things/Jilliane Hoffman/360 pgs.

Elaine "Lainey" Emerson, 13 years old, has gone missing. Lainey's older sister has runaway before, so it is initially assumed that Lainey is following in her sister's footsteps. Special Agent Bobby Dees, who heads up the Crimes Against Children Squad, is called in to investigate. He discovers that Lainey has a secret online relationship with Zach Cusano, known online as ElCapitan. It turns out, though, that someone has been posting as Zach. Dead girls begin to show up after the killer sends canvas paintings of them to a local television reporter, who then gets the information to Bobby Dees. On top of searching for what appears to be a serial killer, Bobby is searching for his missing teenage daughter, Katy, who ran away from home less than a year ago. There is constant suspense plus the tension surrounding Bobby and his wife, LuAnn. It's fast paced, and keeps the reader turning the pages in anticipation of what's to come! Recommended.

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol. 2: The Weeping Angels of Mons / Robbie Morrison / 128 pgs

I saw that Doctor Who has come out with some new 10th Doctor adventures featuring a new companion from NYC and was intrigued, so I checked out KL's copy. I ended up reading the 2nd volume first, but had no problem following the story line. I feel that World War I has been overdone a bit in the Whoniverse, but I also know that WWI just seems to be a bigger deal for most Brits than it is for Americans, but that would be my only complaint for the story. I do like that the Angels are back to sending people to the past. One of my biggest complaints about Season 5 of Doctor Who was how the Angels were all of a sudden killing people rather than feeding off the energy of their victims' "would have beens". Some have said that you don't necessarily need to have watched a bunch of Doctor Who episodes to understand the plot of this graphic novel. Not having read the first volume of this graphic novel yet, that might be true. The Doctor does go into a lot of detail about the Weeping Angels in this second volume, but I'm unsure how explanatory the first volume is on who the Doctor is, where he comes from, etc.

Stars Above / Marissa Meyer / 369 pgs

This is the end. The last book in the Lunar Chronicles universe. I'm really sad. I loved these books so much. I've seen a lot of people complain about Stars Above and say that some of the stories were unnecessary. Obviously, none of the stories were necessary, but they were all perfect. A lot of them flesh out what was only mentioned in passing in the previous books, including Carswell Thorne's interactions with his high school crush, Kate; how Winter chose to stop using her Lunar gift and how she got her facial scars; how Cinder came to live with the Linh family; how Wolf was taken from his family and turned into a special ops soldier in the Queen's army; how Cress was taken to the satellite when she was very young; and how Michelle Benoit was roped into helping keep the heir to the Lunar throne safe for eight years. Other short stories were new, like Kai's perspective when he first met Cinder and "The Little Android", which is based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid", but the best story of all was the last one, which goes forward a little over two years into the future and gathers all of our favorite characters together as they celebrate a certain two characters' wedding. To tell you who would be to give away plot points. Suffice to say, it was an awesome epilogue to what is definitely now my favorite YA series!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tombstone Courage / J. A. Jance / 300 pages

Joanna Brady #2
After Joanna Brady's husband was killed while running for county sheriff and Joanna solved his murder, she decides to run for office in his stead.  Unfortunately, she faces stiff opposition.  If elected, she will be the first female county sheriff in Arizona.  Elected she is and before she can even be sworn into office, two murders occur.  The men she defeated in the election cut her out of the information loop and she must battle this obfuscation, equipment concerns, and the active murder investigations.  One cannot help but admire this very plucky heroine.

Divine Evil / Nora Roberts / 501 pages

Claire Kimball, an accomplished sculptor in New York, is troubled by depression fueled by the return of childhood nightmares.  She returns to her small hometown in Maryland, to the home where her father fell to his death.  Was the death suicide, an accident, or murder?  Claire found the body that night and it has haunted her ever since.  Strange events are happening in the town...a baby's body was dug up and removed from the cemetery..., a young girl has gone missing..., devil worshippers are cavorting in the woods...,  high school bad boy turned sheriff, Cameron Rafferty's step father is found viciously beaten..., and Cam is both investigating officer and possible suspect.  Sparks fly between Cam and Claire as Claire is forced to relive her childhood nightmares.  Can she outrun the demons?

The Drifter / Nicholas Petrie / 371 pages

Peter Ash is an ex-marine who served eight years in multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  His tours of duty and white static made it difficult to resume a normal life stateside.  Being indoors caused intense discomfort and spawned his decision to live in the wilderness.  When his second-in-command, Jimmy Johnson, commits suicide, Peter returns to Milwaukee to aid his widow and two kids.  The first order of business is to repair a rotten front porch.  The job is made more difficult by an evil-tempered mad dog who has reputedly eaten all the neighborhood cats and dogs and is soon to start on the children.  Peter is able to subdue the dog and begins clearing garbage that has accumulated under the deck.  When he finds an old suitcase with four hundred thousand dollars and some explosives, he knows they will lead to no good.  Well developed characters people this suspense filled tale of a true American hero.

Killer Smile / Lisa Scottoline / 358 pages

Mary DiNunzio believes in justice and love...and that you should "never get over it."  You should accept what happens as a part of yourself.  She is investigating a suicide in an Italian-American internment camp during World War II.  When a lawyer connected to the case is murdered and Mary is burglarized, she realizes someone wants the investigation to cease.  Instead, Mary decides to visit the camp in Montana and interview first hand anyone who might know what really happened.  Her maverick actions pay off and she uncovers murder, secrets, true love, and inter-generational greed.

Hostile Witness / Rebecca Forster / 287 pages

A Josie Bates Thriller, Book 1
Josie Bates is an excellent trial lawyer with a killer reputation.  Years ago she defended a young mother accused of murder and won.  The young mother then killed her own children.  Josie had sworn off criminal law and worked simple civil cases instead.  When an old friend, Linda Sheraton, requests her help, however, she agrees to help, at least initially and then will recommend someone else to represent the girl at trial, if necessary.  The friend has married well.  Her husband is the son of Fritz Rayburn, a California Supreme Court judge.  Unfortunately, the judge died in a fire allegedly set by sixteen year old Hannah Sheraton - the friend's daughter, a diagnosed obsessive-compulsive with a history of difficulties.  Josie feels compelled to help the girl despite the ghosts from her past and additional evidence that increases the likelihood of the girl's guilt.  This psychological thriller is intense with multiple plot twists and extraordinarily well-developed characters.

Green Lake / S. K. Epperson / 237 pages

Madeleine Heron's husband, Sam Craven, is dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  He had lost his job as an aeronautical engineer and refused to accept any other job.  They just couldn't maintain their lifestyle on Madeleine's job as a college professor and fought often, sometimes physically.  Madeleine had become disenchanted with her job and especially her students and when Sam's parents request she not sit with them at the funeral, Madeleine is devastated.  Madeleine's sister, Jacqueline comes to the rescue and offers their lake cabin as a transitional residence as Madeleine had to sell the house to pay debts.  At the lake, Madeleine encounters a recalcitrant neighbor, a psychotic conservation officer, a cemetery-loving digger, several murders,...and true love.  Several thought-provoking themes cause the reader to take a break from nonstop actions to ponder ethical and moral possibilities.

Cruel Intent / J. A. Jance / 340 pages

Ali Reynolds #3
Ex TV journalist Ali Reynolds is determined to host the family Thanksgiving this year, over the strenuous objections of her Sugar Loaf owning mother.  Some serious remodeling of her home is underway in preparation for the big event.  Unfortunately, Ali's contractor is arrested for murder of his wife.  He confesses innocence and Ali believes him.  Although his crew continues to work in his absence, Ali's remodel is sabotaged by the dead, cheating, embezzling wife.  An online dating site has enabled a serial killer to prey on unsuspecting cheating spouses.  The plot is fleshed out  by Ali's direction of a scholarship, her relationship with lawman Dave, her indomitable butler Leland, and her feisty mom.  As always, Jance has crafted a well-wrought page turner set in the desert Southwest and peopled it with interesting, believable characters.

The One You Love / Paul Pilkington / 312 pages

While Emma Holden is out celebrating her upcoming wedding with a hen party with her girlfriends, she receives a call from her brother, will, complaining that her fiancĂ©, Dan failed to arrive at the meeting place for his bachelor party.  He had gone to Emma's flat, but Dan was not answering the intercom.  When Em arrived and they entered the flat, they discovered Dan's brother, Richard, badly beaten and unconscious and Dan nowhere to be found.  Had Dan beaten his brother?  Where had he gone?  Had he been kidnapped?  Will and Em are determined to find out.  Emma  turns to a horror stalker from her past for answers and discovers far more than she bargained for.  This edge of your seat thriller's tension is magnified by the approaching wedding and all its obligations as well as Emma's career breakthrough.

The Magnificent 12: The Call / Michael Grant / 160 pages

"David MacAvoy - whose friends call him Mack - was not an unlikely hero.  He was an impossible hero."  "Only twelve, not especially big, strong, wise, kind, or good-looking, plus he was scared of a list of things...spiders, dentists, fire, puppets, shots, oceans, sharks... so this was not a twelve year old you'd expect to become one of the greatest heroes in human history - not the person you'd expect would try and save the world from the greatest evil it had ever faced.  But that's our story."  Mack is visited by an extraordinarily creepy creature from the past and learns that he must assemble the Magnificent Twelve.  The Pale Queen was imprisoned below ground three thousand years ago and is soon to be released...unless the Magnificent 12 can stop it.  Mack and his bully/body guard, Stefan, travel to Australia, encounter Risky, the queen's daughter, and enlist the second member of the elite, if somewhat dubiously heroic, group.  This first book in the series, by the author of the Gone series, features adventure with a capital A.

Escape, A New Life / David J. Antocci / 205 pages

Wow!  This was one wild, violent ride with a most unique premise, an awesome beginning, and a satisfying ending that segues well into the second book of the trilogy, Past Sins.  Abby wakes up on a deserted island beach without knowing where she is or how she got there.  She has always been a bit curvy. At just five feet it was hard not to put on weight, but her stomach seems smaller and she seems to be in much better shape than she remembers.  She sees someone floating in the water and struggles to rescue a lean, strongly built young man.  Eric doesn't know how he got to be on the island either, but suspects hijinks from his friends.  This is not practical joke.  The reader discovers that they are willing participants in a wilderness reality TV show and have had their memories wiped of the past ten years so they do not know they are a part of a TV show.  They only know that are stranded with killers and learn they, too, must kill to survive.  Abby's secret past includes a ruthless mob-connected husband who wants her back.  The nonstop action and fearless heroics of the diminutive Abby make this a most enjoyable read.

"Good people get into bad situations, sometimes they have to take measures to get out."

Relief Map / Rosalie Knecht / 286 pages

The FBI has locked down the tiny Pennsylvania town of Lomath.  Blockades are established on all outgoing roads and electricity and phone service have been cut.  They are looking for an international fugitive, one Revaz Deni.  They suspect that someone local may be harboring Deni and have prohibited anyone from leaving, not even for much needed prescription refills.  Two ne'er do wells, Dominic and Brian, convince sixteen year old Livy Markos and her best friend, Tela - 18, to accompany them to a nearby pharmacy for the medicines.  This well-intentioned drug run turns into an armed robbery and kidnapping.  This book has so many vital messages that are skillfully and sensitively delivered.  The characters are well sketched and evoke empathy and incite the reader to thoughtfully consider the moral and ethical ramifications of their actions.

The Summer Before the War / Helen Simonson / 479 pages

It is 1914 and the peaceful English countryside and peace-loving British are about to be irreparably changed by war.  Hugh Grange's uncle, working in the foreign office, did everything in his power to forestall the war, but the inevitable happened.  Hugh enlists to continue his studies in surgery along with his cousin, Daniel, of somewhat dubious reputations, and various countrymen.  They leave behind the new Latin teacher, Beatrice Nash, whose beauty and somewhat modern thinking has stirred controversy.  This engaging story of a world at war, shifting paradigms, and love during conflict is perhaps a bit slow in the beginning, perhaps to mimic the slow passage of time during peace.

The Practical County Drama Queen / Michelle Houts / 168 pages

Frannie Ryan lives on family's farm in Nowhere, Indiana.  She may be the Drama Queen of Practical County, but she has every reason to be.  She feels compelled to stop her brother from marrying Precious Darling.  Her older sister, Libby, who might have been an ally in the subterfuge, is away for the summer on a vet internship.  Her stuttering, bat-obsessed best friend, Cooper, and forgetful, farmer Grandpa feel her pain.  This is an absolutely endearing bird's eye view of family farm life, the importance and inevitability of change, and the love that binds all.

Submerged / Dani Pettrey / 278 pages

Alaskan Courage Series #1
Bailey Craig was abandoned by her parents and raised by her Aunt Agnes in Yancey, Alaska.  Her aunt owned and ran The Trading Post, specializing in Russian artifacts and history.  Bailey had fled Yancey and her checkered reputation ten years ago, determined never to return.  When her aunt is killed in a plane crash, however, she returns to tie up loose ends and return to her life and career in Oregon.  The plane crash that killed her aunt was not an accident and her death is one among many.  Aunt Agnes had uncovered clues to exiled Romanoff royalty and a submerged Russian church.  Bailey and Cole McKenna and his family rush against time to preserve the chain of evidence and to stop the killing.  This is a story of Russian presence in Alaska and the importance and life-changing reality of faith in awesome read!!...inspirational, romantic suspense.

A Tangle of Knots / Lisa Graf / 230 pages

"It's the way we deal with what Fate hands us that defines who we are."  This is a delightful "novel of magic, mystery, and Talent with a capital T," with this universal categorical imperative.  We find interesting, well-defined characters who react and interact with their fate-given talents.  The talents themselves are most curious, and in some cases their desirability is somewhat dubious.  We have an emporium owner who steals and hoards talents, St. Anthony suitcases, an orphan who bakes cakes specific to each individual (with recipes included), a woman with a stroke, a former archaeologist who literally holds the key to the discovery of the century, and an intricately woven plot that ties all together in an eminently satisfying tale.

The Alliance, a Registry Novel / Shannon Stoker / 442 pages

Mia, Andrew, Carter, and a number of Affinity operatives have embarked on a mission to infiltrate America and stop the Registry and mandatory service.  Much of the world is a vast radioactive wasteland after the Great War.  America attempted to overcome the population devastated by biological warfare by instituting these two measures and insulating her citizens.  Mia's revelation to the American public is hoped to inspire revolution and toppling of the totalitarian government.  This third book in the Registry trilogy is filled with non-stop action, a truly evil villain, an intrepid hero and heroine, true love...This one has it all.

No Passengers Beyond This Point / Gennifer Choldenko / 240 pages

"You have to wait for good things to happen - wait and wait and work so hard - but bad things occur out of the blue, like fire alarms triggered in the dead of night, blaring randomly, a shock of sound, a chatter of current from which there is not turning back."  The announcement made at the Tompkins Family Meeting was one of those bad things.  India, Finn, and Mouse were to leave the next day for Colorado.  The family had lost their house and their Mom would stay behind to complete her teaching contract. Unfortunately, the flight does not go as planned and the kids are plunged into an alternate reality where decisions are crucial.  Each chooses family over perfection.  With a unique, creative approach, Ms. Choldenko has crafted a heart-warming, adrenaline pumping story of the importance of family and the foibles of growing up.  This would make an excellent read aloud (not to mention movie) and would be a great spark for creative writing or illustrative artwork.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lost Light / Michael Connelly 400 p.

A newly retired Harry Bosch needs little prompting from a former colleague to investigate a cold case that haunts him, the murder of  Angella Benton, a young production assistant-- A murder that is linked to a $2 million heist from the film company where she worked.  Lawton Cross shares that an FBI agent informed his late partner that a bill from the heist turned up, the agent who goes missing shortly after making the call.  Connelly masterly advances the complex plot with its multiple twists and turns to an action packed ending.

Lost Light / Michael Connelly 400 p.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Soaring Eagle/ Stephanie Grace Whitson / 297 p

     This is book 2 of the Prairie Winds trilogy.  It involves Jesse's daughter Lisbeth and her life after her husband's death.  Lisbeth has lost her husband and her mother within weeks of each other and she is lost and central to the book, lost from God.  This story is her road back to faith and re-connecting with others.  Her half brother Soaring Eagle is also disconnected and lost in a changing world.  The late 1800's was not good for Native Americans as they were forced to reservations.  Sitting Bull took his people to Canada (and that didn't end well).  Soaring Eagle ends up alone and finally comes to the Santee Reservation.  This is a better book than the first one although there is much more religious thought in it.  Many Christian novels preach and this one is no different.  Still, I would recommend it to readers whether Christian, seeker, or other. 

Person of Interest (Military Investigations #8) / Debby Giusti / 224 pgs

Natalie Frazier, a former servicewoman, is babysitting a friend's baby when she hears a murder next door. She is convinced that her former commander is behind the murder, and when more people close to Natalie turn up dead, she runs away with the baby. Everett Kohl, an Army investigator, is supposed to remain dispassionate while investigating crimes, but his instincts tell him that while Natalie's actions look guilty, she is actually innocent. Helping her could cost Everett his job, but not helping her could cost Natalie her life.

I really liked this book! I've read it because I am a judge for the Maggie Awards, so I did receive it for free. It is a Love Inspired Harlequin paperback that the district does not own. I felt for the characters and I thought that the story of Natalie's growing faith in the midst of a really difficult situation to be well-written and realistic. It read very similar to a Dee Henderson book. I don't want to give too much away, but I was a bit baffled by the speed of the burgeoning romance between the main characters. It didn't seem very realistic to me. I have to admit that I haven't read a whole lot of romance in years until recently and I'm beginning to like the ones in which the protagonists have very obviously fallen in love but they're not already planning their wedding just a few days after meeting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

God's Eye View/ Barry Eisler/ 374 pages

The God's Eye View by Barry Eisler demonstrates what could happen if 'big Brother' could watch as well as listen.  Evie works on a special project for the NSA.  She does a good job, maybe too good.  When she starts to make connections with the data she examines and sudden, unexpected deaths Evie takes her concerns to her boss.  NSA Director Anders is pleased that Evie has brought her concerns to him, but is not pleased that she has concerns.  Anders will stop at nothing to have things his way: all knowing, all seeing and all hearing of everyone.  Evie keeps looking, Anders keeps killing, terminating in a life and death chase.  This was a great read, full of suspense and thought provoking as well.

The Travelers/ Chris Pavone/ 433 pages

The Travelers by Chris Pavone catches the reader in a spy web and takes them on a trip of twists and turns, ups and downs.  The journey results in a suspenseful and enjoyable trip for the reader.  Will Rhodes and wife Chloe are both journalists.  Chloe had worked for Travelers magazine until the recent past when Will takes a job there.  While on a trip to Argentina, Will is placed in a situation that results in his being blackmailed into working for the CIA.  Or is it the CIA?  As the story moves forward the reader is left wondering just who are the good guys and who are not so good.  This is an action packed story that will appeal to reader who like fast paced stories such as the Da Vinci Code.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Plea of Insanity/Jilliane Hoffman/426 pgs.

Julia Vacanti is the second chair to Rick Bellido, the Assistant Division Chief of Major Crimes. They are going to try what could be the biggest case in Julia's career: Dr. David Marquette is on trial for the brutal murders of his wife and three children. His plea is not guilty on the grounds of insanity. Was he insane at the time of the murders, or is he a skilled enough doctor to know how to appear insane during the time he is arrested, through the duration of the trial? In addition, the story line delves into Julia's childhood, and what has her second guessing Marquette's motives. It's a fast, tortuous ride, with questions left open at the end of the novel. Recommended.

Friday, April 22, 2016

City of Bones / Michael Connelly 393 p.

Harry Bosch, LAPD homicide detective, investigates a 20 year old murder uncovered when a dog brings home a bone.  The case brings back memories of his childhood as an orphan.  Love blossoms when he connects with a young beautiful rookie.  Then the plot twists with a sudden and sharp turn that shakes him up.  Harry's "the devil is in the detail's" investigative style blows the sure-fire case out of the water, leaving he and his partner back at square one.  And he wondering about his "mission".  A gritty police procedural.

City of Bones / Michael Connelly 393 p.

Look Who's Back / Timur Vermes / 352 pgs

I thought the idea of this book was so intriguing, but did not expect what I ended up reading. First of all, the Hitler in this book is a master of twisting people's ideas and thoughts to a point where he seems quite logical. It's almost no wonder that he was elected by the German people. I think it's an extremely poignant book to read considering our current election year. However, this book was first published in Germany in 2011 and was only translated and published in America last year. Because of this, there are a few German popular culture references sprinkled throughout that don't make a bit of sense to anyone who is not intimately familiar with current German popular culture. That said, the translator does do a good job of explaining those references at the end of the book, as well as giving small bios of all of Hitler's cohorts back in the 1930s and 1940s.

The premise of the book is that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide in 1945, rather he wakes up in 2011 Berlin. The Berliners believe that Hitler is merely a very method actor/impersonator who is poking fun at the long-dead Fuhrer. He is given a spot on a variety show and quickly become a YouTube sensation. The book is definitely satire and is alternately, surprisingly funny but, most of the time, very chilling.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ella Minnow Pea / Mark Dunn / 208 pgs

This little book was a quick read, but very cute. It is a satire all about censorship and totalitarianism. The residents of the little island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina find themselves having to speak and write without the use of certain letters when the town's monument to the sentence "The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog" starts to disintegrate, and the governing High Council decides that it is a supreme being who wishes  the island's population to stretch their vocabulary by no longer using those particular letters of the alphabet.

The entire book is epistolary with letters written between the titular character and her cousin, her mother, her father, her cousin's mother, and a few other characters. At first, the epistles' vocabulary grow as the characters are forced to find more quaint and archaic words to get around the growing number of illegal letters of the alphabet, but as more and more letters drop from the monument, the epistles go in the opposite direction. They start to sound as if a small child had written them.

***FAIR WARNING*** You will find yourself having to sound out the gibberish in the letters towards the end of the book just to make sense of what is written.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Walks the Fire/ Stephanie Whitson/ 301 pages

     This book is a Christian historical novel set in the 1800's before 1870.  Jesse goes west with her husband and toddler son when disaster strikes and her son is run over from the wagon wheel and her husband is killed by a buffalo.  A Lakota man takes her to his tribe where he happens to have a motherless baby son.  She ultimately forms a bond with him and all is well until years later, yep, another death by buffalo.  The book is not very realistic, but I liked it anyway.  It was romantically quite tame and every chapter starts with a Bible verse.  She does address the issue of prejudice and especially that for "half-breeds".  The author was born in E. St. Louis and went to SIU Edwardsville.  She actually lives in Nebraska near the setting of the story.

Eruption:the Untold Story of Mount Saint Helens/ Steve Olson, 300 pages

Eruption written by Steve Olson is the story of events leading up to the massive eruption of Mount Saint Helens and it's aftermath.  Olson begins with the logging industry that migrates from the upper Midwest to the Pacific north east.  He reveals interesting facts of the part lumber played in the expansion of the USA.  Olson also introduces us to a selection of the people who lives ended with the eruption.  Overall it was an entertaining read of characters and geology for the average person.  This book would appeal to the ready who likes history and adventure.

Simply Love / Mary Balogh 320 p.

Mary Balogh returns to the Miss Martin's School for Girls in this story of love between two very hurt characters, Anne Jewel, a favorite teacher at the school, and Sydnam Butler, quiet war hero.  Anne with her son spends a holiday with the Bedwyn family (their personalities flowing into the story) as Bewcastle consults with his steward Sydnam.  Anne, a victim of  rape and Sydnam, a horribly disfigured war victim, are both accepting of their loneliness.  Both are unable to believe in love.  The matchmaking Bedwyns plot and help surreptitiously when a friendship develops.

Simply Love / Mary Balogh 320 p.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Seeker / S.J. James / 289 pgs

This was the second book that I'm reading for a contest. This was a pretty easy read. In fact, I finished it in less than 24 hours, partly because of it's size and partly because I was hooked on the story. I loved the sci-fi edge, I loved that the characters were likable, even the rival for the alien's affections. It's only drawback was the whole "Me Tarzan, You Jane" aspect that was partly understandable, because hey, aliens shouldn't know how to speak English perfectly right off the bat! However, I felt like the reader was beaten over the head with all of the language miscommunication and the fact that our female protagonist kept on calling her alien boyfriend "Tarzan" all the time. This kept from the book rating five stars with me.

The Vymalns came to Earth acting as if they needed Earth's help, but ended up enslaving the majority of the human race. Vymalns are huge, have two hearts, and are almost impossible to kill. When a young lady, Kara, finds herself about to be killed by two Vymalns, she is saved by Aiodhan, another alien, but one that is far better looking. Aiodhan is part of an elite group of warriors, called Seekers, who are tasked with missions to kill Vymalns. Can Kara learn to trust another alien? What is Aiodhan's real motive? Can humanity be saved?

Winter / Marissa Meyer / 824 pgs

I would say that I was upset that the series has ended, what has become my favorite YA series, and indeed one of my favorite series period, but then I would be forgetting that I still have Stars Above and I'm so excited about that! Winter was a bit long, but I still gave the book 5 stars because the ending completely satisfied me.

Winter is considered Book #4 in the series, although with Fairest (Book #3.5), it's actually the 5th book in the series. Everything comes to a head as Cinder, Captain Carswell Thorne (easily my favorite character), Wolf, Emperor Kai, and Cress take on Queen Levana. Scarlett still needs saving. And Princess Winter must learn to overcome her Lunar sickness if she wants to help in the revolution against her evil stepmother. Like the other three main books, a bit of romance for Winter occurs as she deals with her attraction to her childhood friend, now royal guard, Jacin Clay.

Of the four women in the series, Winter was my least favorite and her romance with Jacin was probably my least favorite to read, but that didn't detract too much from all of the action and the final showdown between Cinder and her friends and Levana. That said, I did like that the story of Winter probably most mirrored the original fairy tale (this time it was Snow White) than the other books mirrored their respective fairy tales. All in all, I loved this series and will be sad to finish with Stars Above this coming week.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Forensics/ Val McDermid/303 pgs.

The subtitle of this fascinating book says it all: "what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime." McDermid takes the reader through the history of the different methodologies used in trying to solve crimes. She injects this information with true crime cases in which a particular method was used--not always successfully! For readers of true crime stories or crime fiction, this book is a must read. Highly recommended!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Blood and Shadows: A Tales of Blood and Magic Novella / Nadine Mutas / 146 pgs

So, this type of paranormal romance is not normally my cup of tea, but I am in the middle of judging for the Georgia Romance Novelists "Maggie" Awards. The story is about the war between shadow demons and witches. When she was only 12 years old, Anjali, a witch, saved the life of a shadow demon, Thorne. Since then, Thorne has stayed in the shadows, watching over and protecting Anjali. However, Anjali discovers Thorne, which leads to the beginning of a forbidden relationship. What Anjali doesn't know is that Thorne hides a secret which would make Anjali hate the very sight of him, and probably kill him as well.

Obviously, this is a very Romeo and Juliet type story. Two star-crossed lovers, meant to hate each other merely because one is a witch and the other a demon. I give it good marks for its steaminess, but I felt like the story was so overdone and pretty boring.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Darkness More than Night / Michael Connelly 418 p.

Darkness More than Night / Michael Connelly 418 p.
Harry Bosch makes his seventh appearance in this police procedural that is set in L.A. Bosch's dedication looks to pay off as he is the star witness in the trial of Hollywood director David Storey accused of the murder of a young beautiful actress during sex. Terry McCaleb, retired federal criminal profiler, unofficially agrees to consult when leads for the tortured killing of a man Bosch believes whole heartedly murdered a prostitute years ago falter. McCaleb lives up to his reputation when he discovers a lead involving a Hieronymus Bosch, a Early Netherlandish painter. Connelly keeps both plots moving along loaded with twists keep the reader in suspense as he reveals the connection between the two cases.