Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Challenges

Look for a challenge for 2017? This site has listed a number of choices for your reading for this coming year. Check it out at MY READING CHALLENGES.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Short Takes 10/4/2016

Guaranteed to be a popular gift for this holiday season! I've already purchased a copy and cannot wait to sit down and wander through the "over 600 of the most curious and unusual destinations around the globe." Read more about this fascinating book HERE.

This past weekend was the first Harbor Springs Festival of the Book and my friend Joy and I drove to Northern Michigan on Friday to explore. There was so much going on that it was impossible to attend everything we thought looked interesting (and everything looked interesting). The town itself was worth the trip. Check out the Harbor Springs Visitors Guide. Located on Little Traverse Bay, the area has been a resort since the late 1800s. Unique shops, restaurants, and a great little bookstore welcome visitors.

Highlights were an interview with author Elizabeth Letts about her new book The Perfect Horse, which tells the story of a little know struggle to save horses during World War II, and a lecture by Craig Johnson, creator of the Longmire mystery series and television show that caused much laughter.

A classy event, that was free (donations accepted) except for the special speakers paired with meals, talk is that there will be another Festival next year. I recommend you subscribe to their newsletter if you think you might attend! Harbor Springs Festival of the Book.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Short Takes 9/24/2016

JSO (Jackson Symphony Orchestra, MI) composer, Spring Arbor University Music Department Chair, and now author, Jonathan Bruce Brown will be speaking at the Jackson District Library's Carnegie Branch on Friday, September 30th at 6:30 pm.

Dissonance, Brown's first book, is a mystery about music, Michigan, and its people.

American Library Association Picture
History was made on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 after Carla Hayden was sworn in as the first African American and woman appointed as the librarian of Congress. Read more HERE.

What are your favorite banned books? Celebrate Banned Books Week 2016 by reading one! An annual event celebrating the freedom to read. "Find out which challenged books made the 2015 list, which was released as part of the 2016 State of America’s Library Report." Read more HERE. (How can #1 on the top 10 on the video be John Green's Looking for Alaska? I loved that book.) 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Short Takes 9/15/2016

Becky Masterman has a new thriller featuring Brigid Quinn, a retired FBI agent pushing 60. coming out March 21, 2017. You can read what I had to say about her earlier books HERE.

I am currently reading Elinor Lipman's On Turpentine Lane. It lays down on February 14, 2017. I've read and enjoyed many of her chic-lit novels. You can read my comments on earlier titles HERE.

Love cozy mysteries? Have you discovered Wendy Sand Eckel yet? Her series features Rosalie Hart, who escapes to Maryland's Eastern Shore to build a new life when she discovers her husband wants a divorce. Small-town charm and charming recipes make this series irresistible. My reviews HERE.

Monday, September 12, 2016

THE TWENTY-THREE (2016) Promise Falls Trilogy #3

The Twenty-Three (Promise Falls Trilogy, #3)The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I discovered Linwood Barclay's thrillers, I waited anxiously each time until I could get my hands on the next one. This one won't be available until November 1, 2016 but you have lots of other choices before then.

I love the fact that his story telling can surprise the reader. His plots are clever. His characters unexpected. The Promise Falls, New York setting is a small town we know. It's a lot like where we all live but with unthinkable things happening.

THE FIRST LINE: "I know I won't be able to get them all. But I hope I'll be able to get enough."

THE STORY: Book 1: Broken Promise - "With a demanding job at the Boston Globe, single parent David Harwood cannot find enough time to spend with his son. The solution he chooses is to go back home and work for the local paper in Promise Falls. Things start going wrong immediately."

Book 2: Far From True - "A group of teens are planning to attend a final showing at the local drive-in theater, smuggling in beer and one of their friends in the car trunk. They are in line when there is an explosion, the screen collapses, and people are killed. The reader is hooked! From there the author begins feeding out various story lines. The daughter of one of the victims asks Cal Weaver, a private investigator, to help solve a break-in at her father's house where he finds a hidden room. Meanwhile Detective Barry Duckworth is trying to solve two murders, one three years old, that he suspects are linked. And lurking in the background is the ominous Mr. 23."

And finally Book 3: The Twenty-three - People are suddenly being felled by a mysterious illness which is quickly identified as the town's water supply (shades of Flint, Michigan). Private investigator Cal Weaver focuses on who could benefit from such a tragedy while Detective Barry Duckworth investigates another murder which seems to be part of a pattern. David Harwood is back with his troubles too. How will it all end?

WHAT I THOUGHT: The confusion of characters I noted in my review of the second book just becomes more intense here. I actually had trouble getting into the story but by the time I was halfway through, I was committed to finding out the answers. Barclay does a great job of reminding the reader of who characters are, but I find it annoying sometimes. Will I read his next offering? Of course. Linwood Barclay is a masterful storyteller.

BOTTOM LINE: My recommendation would be to read some of the stand alone titles first. If you find, like me, that you love Linwood Barclay, then go ahead and read this trilogy. You can find reviews of other titles on my blog. One of my favorites is Never Look Away.

Title: The Twenty-Three (Promise Falls Trilogy #3)
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 464
Copyright: November 1, 2016
ISBN-10: 0451472721
ISBN-13: 978-0451472724

Disclaimer: An advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book was provided to me by Berkley and Net Galley for an honest review.

Linwood Barclay is a former columnist for The Toronto Star and the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including Too Close to Home and No Time for Goodbye, a #1 Sunday Times (UK) bestseller. He lives near Toronto with his wife. (from Amazon)

Friday, August 19, 2016


ArrowoodArrowood by Laura McHugh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been months since I felt like reading with being sick and in the hospital. ARROWOOD was a perfect reintroduction to feeling normal again. It had all the elements I love in a gothic mystery: an old house, a creepy groundskeeper, and unsolved family secrets.

THE FIRST LINE: "I used to play a game where I imagined that someone had abandoned me in a strange, unknown place and I had to find my way back home."

THE STORY: Arden Arrowood was playing outside with her baby twin sisters when they disappeared forever. All these years later, she still holds out hope that they are alive somewhere. The man who was imprisoned has maintained his innocence.

Now Arden is returning to her childhood home to try to put her life back together. The house, the neighbors, and the community all know parts of the past that can solve the puzzle.

WHAT I THOUGHT: After having read Laura McHugh's first mystery, the excellent The Weight of Blood, I was excited to read this second book. Without spoiling anything, I have to say that there were several places that I found hard to accept. Things happened that should have made the heroine run screaming and didn't. On the other hand, I did enjoy reading the book, my first read after emerging from a difficult medical summer. So thank you, Laura McHugh. You got me reading again!

BOTTOM LINE: Suspend disbelief and just enjoy a great gothic story.

Title: Arrowood
Author: Laura Hughes
Genre: Gothic Mystery
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 288
Copyright: August 9, 2016
ISBN-10: 0812996399
ISBN-13: 978-0812996395

Disclaimer: An advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book was provided to me by Net Galley for an honest review.

Laura McHugh is the author of The Weight of Blood, winner of an International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel and a Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel: Literary Suspense. The Weight of Blood was named a Best Book of the Year by BookPage, the Kansas City Star, and the Sunday Times (UK), and was also nominated for an Alex Award, Barry Award, and GoodReads Choice Award (Best Mystery and Best Debut). Her second novel, Arrowood, will be published in 2016.

A lifelong Midwesterner, McHugh lives in Missouri with her husband and children.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Death at the Day Lily CafeDeath at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last year about this time Minotaur sent me an ARC (advanced reading copy) of Wendy Sand Eckel's first cozy mystery Murder at Barclay Meadow. As it turned out, I was one of the first people to review the book and I loved it.

You can imagine my excitement when Death at the Day Lily Cafe showed up in my mailbox, and I am glad to say that it a worthy second adventure for Rosalie Hart!

THE STORY: Rebuilding her life, divorcee Rosalie Hart is opening a cafe on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and serving tempting organic food. Of course, it doesn't take any time at all before her good friend Doris asks Rosalie to help clear her little sister of a first degree murder charge.

Nobody much liked Carl James Fiddler, so there are lots of suspects for Rosalie and her friends to investigate.

When Rosalie's daughter gets caught up in the investigation, things get serious.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Although you don't have to read the first book to enjoy this one, I would because you are going to want to read each book in the series.

Charming, quirky characters the reader cares about surround Rosalie. The location is seductive and you will want to jump in the car and drive down to the Day Lily Cafe to hang out, have a brownie, and an espresso. The menus discussed and the recipes included are an added enjoyment.

Extra points for changing the name of an adopted cat who kills birds from Sweetie Pie to Todd (short for Sweeney Todd).

The story is told first person and sprinkled with clever jokes and allusions to popular culture. If you get them, it's fun. If you don't, it doesn't spoil the story.

Wendy Sand Eckel's writing and storytelling is intelligent and funny. I just wish Rosalie was my best friend and I lived close enough to stop by . I think all readers will feel the same way.

BOTTOM LINE: Any story that includes scrapple is a winner for me. A most worthy entry in this cozy mystery series. The book will be released on July 26, 2016.

Title: Murder at Barclay Meadow
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 288
Copyright: July 26, 2016
ISBN-10: 1250058619
ISBN-13: 978-1250058614

Disclaimer: An advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book was provided to me by the publisher Minotaur for an honest review.

"WENDY SAND ECKEL is a psychotherapist who lives in Annapolis, Maryland, where she enjoys her family, multiple pets, and life on the water. Murder at Barclay Meadow is her first novel." (AMAZON)