Category Archives: New Releases

Book Review: “Flesh and Blood” by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta #22)


Title:  Flesh and Blood

Author:  Patricia Cornwell

Series:  Kay Scarpetta #22

Synopsis (from

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell delivers the next enthralling thriller in her high-stakes series starring Kay Scarpetta—a complex tale involving a serial sniper who strikes chillingly close to the forensic sleuth herself.

It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing.

In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.


My thoughts:  I can’t believe I am even having to write this . . . but what happened to the old Kay Scarpetta?  I have been reading this series since book #1 and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful characters, the suspenseful plots, up until about book #15.  I took a break for awhile, thinking it was just me and that my reading tastes had changed.  I got an ARC of this latest Patricia Cornwell and needless to say was quite excited to see what happened to the series I once so enjoyed!

Flesh and Blood was alright, but not what I remember loving about this series.  I honestly can’t figure it out, but I feel that somehow the main character, Kay Scarpetta, has changed so significantly during the course of the series that she almost isn’t herself.  I feel the same about some of the other characters as well.  Kay has always been a strong, empowered female lead character but when did she get so darn nasty?  Why is Benton so seemingly withdrawn all of the time?  Why is Pete Marino such an arrogant idiot?  And ugh, Lucy just bugs me!

The book started out really slow for me.  I don’t mind the forensic, scientific detail as that is what the series is all about, but it just felt a bit too scattered and too detailed without moving the plot forward.  However, I will admit that the book ended strong.  The end was quite suspenseful and of course, like any good mystery book, left you with an interesting cliffhanger.

I don’t know if it is me that has changed or whether the author herself has changed which is being reflected in her main character . . . but I want my old Kay Scarpetta back!

And remember,

Books Are Life,


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Book Review and Blog Tour: “Burnout” by Teresa Trent (Pecan Bayou#5)


burnoutTitle:  Burnout

Author:  Teresa Trent

Series:  Pecan Bayou #5

Synopsis (from  It’s November in Pecan Bayou, Texas and while the town is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday a deadly fire breaks out at the newspaper office. When Rocky, the editor is nowhere to be found, Betsy refuses to believe he has perished in the fire. The entire town is coming down with the stomach flu and Betsy must deal with her husband’s new-found celebrity as an on-air weatherman filling in for and under-the-weather Hurricane Hal . Leo loves all the attention he’s getting, especially from the sexy administrative assistant who works at the station. Is their new marriage in trouble already? Find out in the fifth book of the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series. All the characters you’ve come to know and love are back and you’ll find plenty of the Happy Hinter’s recipes and tips included at the end of the book.

My thoughts:  How could I have missed this delightful series in the cozy genre?  This book #5 “Burnout” is my first introduction to the Pecan Bayou series  . . . and I will tell you I am sure glad I found it.

This is a wonderful series in the cozy genre.  I found the characters delightful, fun, witty, and sometimes downright funny (which I love in my characters).

Overall a great book . . . I highly recommend if you are a true cozy lover that you run out and start this series if you haven’t already.

After reading this latest book in the series, I know have to add the first 4 to my “To Read” list for sure.

The book is available on Amazon Kindle at the following link:

And remember,

Books Are Life,




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Book Review and Blog Tour: “A Roux of Revenge” by Connie Archer (Soup Lover’s Mystery #3)



Title:  A Roux of Revenge

Author:  Connie Archer

Series:  Soup Lover’s Mystery #3

Synopsis (from  Snowflake, Vermont, is known for its skiing in winter—and its soup all year round, thanks to Lucky Jamieson’s By the Spoonful. Autumn brings golden leaves, pumpkin rice soup, the annual Harvest Festival…and murder.

Lucky’s soup shop is busier than usual this October, with groups of itinerant travelers in town to work the Harvest Festival. One newcomer seems to take a particular interest in Lucky’s young waitress, Janie, spying on her from across the street. Is the stranger stalking Janie?

After an unidentified man is found murdered in a van by the side of the road, simmering suspicions about the travelers are brought to a boil. But when Janie is put in harm’s way, Lucky must join forces with the travelers to turn up the heat on a killer…

My thoughts:  The soup shop in this particular series, By the Spoonful, is by far one of my most favorite locations in all of the cozy mystery series.  How much cozier can one get than a nice, warm, cozy soup restaurant in a town called Snowflake, Vermont!  I love it and can picture it every time I read this series.

I really enjoy Connie Archer’s Soup Lover’s Mystery series.  As I am sure that I have mentioned in my reviews of the first two books in the series, Spoonful of Murder and Broth of Betrayal, I truly enjoy the main character Lucky Jamieson.  I love that she is a strong, empowered, female character that has definitely been through some difficult times but has come out on her feet.  She is finding her way in business and in love!  A truly great female lead character.

As I continue to read further and further into this series, I also am enjoying really getting to know some of the other characters in town.  They truly become your family which is why I love series books so much.

This book started out a bit slow for me but I will see really picked up the pace as we got further and further into the story and investigation of the murder.

My only issue with this series, and it really isn’t a problem with the series itself, but rather I guess where I live . . . is that the publication dates of the books in this series always come out off season.  What I mean is that his particular book is set in fall around Halloween and is published in Spring (after a long, hard winter at least where I live).  I know this is a crazy, stupid issue, but I want to be reading about nice, warm cozy soup on a nice, crisp, fall day in the fall not during spring.

That aside, I do love this series and eagerly await book #4!

Go out and start this series, you won’t regret it.

And remember,

Books Are Life,





Filed under Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Cozy, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Mystery, New Releases

Book Review – “Billionaire Blend” by Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse Mystery #13)



  Title:  Billionaire Blend

  Author:  Cleo Coyle

  Publisher:  Berkley Publishing Group

  Series:  Coffeehouse Mysteries #13

  Synopsis (from  Landmark coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi has served her share of New York’s rich and famous, but even she is surprised by her explosive introduction to a mysterious Internet billionaire…

When a car bomb nearly kills tech whiz Eric Thorner, Clare comes to his aid and receives a priceless thank you. Not only does the billionaire buy her a barista’s dream espresso machine, he hires her for an extraordinary project: creating the world’s most expensive coffee blend.

The police quickly arrest Eric’s alleged attacker, yet death continues to surround the unlucky mogul, leading Clare to question whether a fatal fall and another lethal mishap are premeditated murders or merely freak accidents. Clare’s boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, has a theory of his own—one Clare refuses to believe.

Meanwhile, Eric jets Clare around the world on a head-spinning search for the very best coffee, and Clare gets to know his world—a mesmerizing circle of money with rivalries that could easily have turned deadly. But is this charming young CEO truly marked for termination? Or is he the one making a killing?


My thoughts:  Anyone who has ever read my blog before knows that I absolutely love the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle!  Perhaps it is because I myself am a full-fledged coffeeholic or perhaps it is because I simply can’t get enough of the Village Blend and its cast of characters.

Although I have fully enjoyed every book in this series, I must say that “Billionaire Blend” has to be one of my favorites to date!  It literally was the type of book I couldn’t put down . . . which frankly isn’t always the case in the cozy genre.  

Billionaire Blend has a real energy and excitement that is often missing in the cozy genre.  I think this may have stemmed from the very modern topic of development of computer applications and billionaire lifestyles. 

And I thought I knew about coffee . . . but wow, this book will teach you a great deal of coffee, from different coffee drinks, to coffee growing around the world.  This author know her stuff! 

I love what the author is doing with character development of some of our every favorite cozy characters and I am excited to see where she goes with this in her next book.  What is happening between Claire and Mike Quinn?  What is the future like for Joy and Franco?  I can’t wait to find out.

Now if only there was a true Village Blend in every community . . . I so want to go there!!!

In short, it was a great book!  Head to the store or your local library, sit down with your favorite cup of coffee, and have a wonderful journey!

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Book Review and Giveaway “Killer Image” by Wendy Tyson


Killer_Image_Aug_13  Title:  Killer Image

Author:  Wendy Tyson

Publisher:  Henery Press


As Philadelphia’s premier image consultant, Allison Campbell helps others reinvent themselves, but her most successful transformation was her own after a scandal nearly ruined her. Now she moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives and twisted ethics.

When Allison’s latest Main Line client, the fifteen-year-old Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, is accused of the ritualistic murder of a local divorce attorney, Allison fights to prove her client’s innocence when no one else will. But unraveling the truth brings specters from her own past. And in a place where image is everything, the ability to distinguish what’s real from the facade may be the only thing that keeps Allison alive.

My thoughts:  This is indeed a great, thrilling mystery novel.  If you are looking for a typical, “cozy” mystery this is not where this book goes.  I was hooked from the very beginning of the book and immediately wanted to know more about these great characters.   I had a feeling from the very beginning that this book was going to take me into some, dark places with plot twists and it did not disappoint. 

Thank you Wendy Tyson for this great first novel in the Allison Campbell Mystery series.  I am surely hoping for more, more, more. 

I love a great dark, psychological thriller!  Yes!

Definitely give yourself a treat and read this book.


The author has graciously agreed to giveaway one print copy of the book on a number of blogs.  To enter the giveaway please leave a comment on this post including your email address.  I will randomly choose a winner and then contact you via email to get your mailing address.  I will choose the winner October 3, 2013.

There is also a Rafflecopter giveaway at the following link.  Please click here to enter Rafflecopter giveaway.

And remember,

Books Are Life,



Filed under Blog Tour, Fiction, Giveaways, Mystery, New Releases

Book Review – “Alex Cross, Run” by James Patterson

alexcrossrun  Title:  Run Cross, Run

Author:  James Patterson

Series:  Alex Cross #20

Publisher:  Little, Brown & Co.

Synopsis (from

Kill Alex Cross was “Patterson at the top of his game” (Washington Post). Alex Cross, Run is even better.


Top plastic surgeon Elijah Creem is renowned for his skills in the operating room, and for his wild, no-expense-spared “industry parties,” bringing in underage exotic dancers and models for nights of drugs, champagne, and uninhibited sex. That is, until Detective Alex Cross busts one of Creem’s lavish soirees and ruins his fun. Now Creem is willing to do anything to avoid going to jail.


But Alex doesn’t have time to dwell on that case. A beautiful woman has been found murdered in her car, a lock of her hair viciously ripped off. Then a second woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window with a brutal scar slashed across her stomach. When a third mutilated body is discovered, rumors of three serial killers on the loose send Washington D.C. into an all-out frenzy.


Alex is under so much pressure to solve these three grim cases that he hasn’t noticed that someone else investigating him-someone so obsessed and so twisted that they’ll do anything-ANYTHING- to get the vengeance they require. Alex Cross, Run is James Patterson’s most unrelenting story yet-a white-hot, sensational thrill ride with the most extreme and gripping characters Patterson has ever brought to life.

My thoughts:  I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross series and this was another excellent installment in the series.  A number of fast-paced plots playing off one another throughout the entire book.  Not to mention the fact that as Alex Cross attempts to solve these cases, there just may be someone tracking him!  As with the other books in this series, I was able to fly through this great book in less than a day of reading – who doesn’t love this!

I thought this was a fast-paced, exciting quick read!

If you haven’t ever read the Alex Cross series, do yourself a favor and pick them up!  You will not regret it.

And remember,

Books Are Life,


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Book Review – “Before I Go To Sleep” by S. J. Watson

beforeigotosleep  Title:  Before I Go To Sleep

Author:  S. J. Watson

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Synopsis (from   “As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning.

Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me….”

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.


My thoughts:  This is an absolutely FANTASTIC, AMAZING read!  Don’t walk, but run out to your nearest Barnes & Noble, used book store, library, or favorite internet retailer, pick up a copy, and start reading!  If my schedule would have allowed, I would have definitely read this book in one sitting.

Imagine waking up everyday with absolutely no recollection of anything of your life, not having a clue who you are, not knowing who is next to you in the bed, and not remembering anything about your life.  This is Christine’s life . . .

This is not only an intriguing, fast-paced, “turn the page faster I need to know what is going to happen” type of mystery, I found that it also had a great terrifying, psychological edge to it  as well that really made me think and question things . . . creepy, and I loved it!   What are we without our memories?  Do our memories make us who we are?  Without memories who do we trust?  What is reality?

Just when I felt like I had a handle on things in this book . . . something else would happen that would make me question things . . . and question things again . . .

It was one of those books where I got so into Christine, the main character, that as I read further I felt like I was her and facing what she was facing, . . . and that perhaps I was the one who was a bit unstable . . . did I mention creepy!

An immensely great first novel by S. J. Watson!  I can only hope this author give us more and more.

Don’t pick it up if you only have a couple minutes to read because I can guarantee you won’t want to put it down!  Amazing!

And remember,

Books Are Life,




Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Mystery, New Releases

An Afternoon with Jodi Picoult – “The Storyteller”

Jodi Picoult 2013 3

I happen to be lucky enough to live in a part of Illinois where Jodi Picoult always seems to schedule a signing in spring every year!  Fabulous!  This year’s book tour/signing of course was about her new book “The Storyteller”.

To be honest with you, I had never read a Jodi Picoult book until a few years ago with the release of her novel “Sing You Home”.   The main character in that book is a music therapist and as a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) (always educating and advocating for quality music therapy), I wanted to give the book a try.  I was very hesitant and put off reading it for a long time as I was scared at how music therapy would be portrayed.  It is still a very misunderstood profession and people have many ideas in their head (often incorrect) about what the profession entails.  Well I finally jumped into the book and was very pleasantly surprised!  Jodi clearly did her research and portrayed being a music therapist in a very accurate, professional way.  I  now say I will be a fan for life given her realistic portrayal of my profession!!

Jodi Picoult 2013 4

When I read reviews about Jodi Picoult’s books, there really seems to be either a love or hate relationship with them.  It seems that people love them or have real problems with them.  I haven’t read quite enough at this point to jump on that bandwagon, however I can say that what I love about them is that they make you think.  At times they make you uncomfortable, they challenge your beliefs, they make you ask questions, they play with your emotions, they make you ask “What if?”, they make you hate the author and then love the author, and they deal with difficult issues!  At times isn’t that what books and reading should do?

Jodi Picoult 2013 2

At this year’s event Jodi read a passage of “The Storyteller” for the audience.  From the small portion she shared, this is definitely not a book that is for the faint of heart simply because of it’s topic – the Holocaust!  Just sitting in the audience listening to this passage, I found myself effected emotionally by the profound themes of the book.  I’m excited, yet wary of jumping into this novel because of the emotions that I am sure will arise.


Jodi Picoult 2013

Thank you for coming to the Chicagoland area every year Jodi!  See you next year!

And remember,

Books Are Life,


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Book Review – “The Lost Art of Mixing” by Erica Bauermeister

lostartofmixing  Title:  The Lost Art of Mixing

Author:  Erica Bauermeister

ISBN:  00780399162114

Publisher:  G. P. Putman


Synopsis (from

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.


My thoughts:  I am rather conflicted about this book as I sit here and write this review.  I am feeling that my thoughts about this book may very well have to do with my reading of it rather than the book itself.  All you readers out there know what I am talking about right?  Sometimes you find out that when and how you read the book has a great effect on your overall feelings toward the book.

This book, “The Lost Art of Mixing”, is a continuation of sorts of Bauermeister’s “The School of Essential Ingredients”.  We trace the same characters that we met in Lillian’s kitchen during her cooking classes further into their lives and their relationships.   I absolutely loved “The School of Essential Ingredients” and her first novel “Joy for Beginners” for that matter, but somehow just didn’t connect with this latest book in the same way.  I didn’t feel a connection with the characters in the same way I did when I first met them.  I somehow felt that they were distant and that their stories didn’t seem as genuine and authentic as they had in the first novel.  Lillian, the main character, who I grew to love as a warm, caring, kind, compassionate individual, really felt cold and distant in this book.  Perhaps it was just the author’s way of portraying to the reader some of the life events and stresses that Lillian in fact is dealing with in the book – of course I can’t be sure, but given my love for Erica Bauermeister’s writing, I am going to go with this.

Overall, as I said above, perhaps it was just because I got a bit distracted while reading this book and it took me longer than it should of.  I read the first two novels each in one day, almost in one sitting, so I really engaged with the story.

I did enjoy “The Lost Art of Mixing”, just not on the same level that I was moved by her other two novels.  Bauermeister’s writing style still is one of my absolute favorites and I never quite have the words to describe it – it is lyrical, descriptive, beautiful, almost like a song.  She sucks you in and you care about the lives of the characters.

Give this author a try if you haven’t.  You definitely will not regret it.

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Book Review – “Merry Christmas Alex Cross” by James Patterson

merry christmas alex cross  Title: Merry Christmas Alex Cross

Author:  James Patterson

Series:  Alex Cross # 19

Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company


Synopsis (from It’s Christmas Eve and Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone who’s robbing his church’s poor box. That mission behind him, Alex returns home to celebrate with Bree, Nana, and his children. The tree decorating is barely underway before his phone rings again—a horrific hostage situation is quickly spiraling out of control. Away from his own family on the most precious of days, Alex calls upon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring to save another family. Alex risks everything—and he may not make it back alive on this most sacred of family days. Alex Cross is a hero for our time, and never more so than in this story of family, action, and the deepest moral choices. MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALEX CROSS will be a holiday classic for years to come.


My thoughts:  There is no way around it, I simply LOVE this Alex Cross series.  I know some would say that they are rather simplistic and that they are getting cookie cutter over time, but that doesn’t stop me from loving them.  With all the reading I do, James Patterson’s Alex Cross series is guaranteed that I can sit down and read the entire book in about 5 hours!  The same held true for this one!

I love that sense of coming home to these characters that I know so well, Alex, Nana Mama, Alex’s children, Bree, and Sampson!  The action in this latest installment was fast-paced, exciting, and a great thrill ride!

This being said, there did seem to be a great disconnect between the first part of the book and the last part of the book.  There were two distinct story lines in this book and unfortunately there was absolutely no connection between them at all.  They were both exciting and thrilling by themselves, but it did end up feeling like two short stories rather than a unified story.

I was also really looking forward to some type of typical James Patterson twist on the last page – you know the one liner where Alex Cross takes a phone call and you end up going “What, did that just happen?” or the last page that leaves you salivating for the next book!  Not this time, but I am certain that the next book will be just as thrilling!

A great, exciting, action-packed read you won’t want to put down!

And remember,

Books Are Life,





Filed under Book Reviews, Detective/Police, James Patterson, Mystery, New Releases, Thriller