Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review – “Holidays on Ice” by David Sedaris

 

Author:  David Sedaris

ISBN:  9780316078917

Publisher:  Little, Brown, and Company

 

Synopsis (from BN.com):  HOLIDAYS ON ICE collects six of David Sedaris’ most profound Christmas stories into one slender volume perfect for use as a last-minute coaster or ice scraper. This drinking man’s companion can be enjoyed by the warmth of a raging fire, the glow of a brilliantly decorated tree, or even the backseat of a van or police car. It should be read with your eyes, felt with your heart, and heard only when spoken to. It should, in short, behave much like a book. And, oh, what a book it is!

 

My thoughts:  My book club, Coffee & Cozies, chose this for our December book to lighten things up a bit and read something “holidayish”.  Well, I have never read any David Sedaris before so I knew it was humor, but didn’t know much more.  This book is a collection of 6 short stories with a holiday theme.  I must say I thought the first story about him working as a mall Santa elf was pretty hilarious at points, to the point of laughing out loud.  Beyond this first story, the humor got really quite dark for me.  I don’t consider myself that much of a prude, but some of the humor was just a little too dark and not all that funny for me.  A baby dying by being put in a dryer . . . come on, that goes beyond holiday humor for me.

I’m not saying I won’t give Sedaris another shot as I’ve read that many of his other books are really quite hilarious.  Perhaps this just wasn’t the type of Christmas humor I was looking for.

If you are into dark humor that at times borders on not too funny, this is the book for you!

Happy Reading,

Heather

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Book review – “Stake & Eggs” by Laura Child (Cackleberry Club Mystery #4)

Title:  Stake & Eggs (Cackleberry Club Mystery #4)stakeandeggs

Author:  Laura Childs

ISBN:  9780425255575

Publisher:  Penguin

 

Synopsis (from bn.com):  Suzanne, Toni, and Petra found a second life after losing their husbands—opening their own successful business, the Cackleberry Club cafè. But the three women never expected sleuthing to be the special of the day…

A KILLER HAS THE TOWN WALKING ON EGG SHELLS

When a snowmobile crashes into the woods behind the Cackleberry Club cafè, Suzanne finds her town’s most-hated banker beheaded by a wire staked in the snow. Now some of her best customers are prime suspects with a bushel of motives, and the murder investigation is snowballing. An elusive young runaway may be the Cackleberry Club’s only way to crack the case…provided Suzanne can keep her head long enough to track down the cold-blooded killer.

 

My thoughts:  What can I say other than every person who reads this blog knows that I love, love my cozies – and the Cackleberry Club is one of my favorite series.  I was waiting for quite a while for this latest book to be released as I guess that the author was probably busy working on her Tea Mystery series.  Alas, it was finally released – yay!  I was able to pick up right where I left off with my friends Suzanne, Toni, and Petra (is it weird to call the characters in your books friends, oh well call me weird then 🙂 ) inside of their cozy restaurant The Cackleberry Club Cafe.

I enjoyed this book and enjoy this series exactly for what it is – a wonderful, nice, simple, cozy read!  This is one of the cozy series that I read that every time I pick up I want to somehow jump in the  book – I want to taste what is on their menu, I want to visit the Book Nook, and I want to look around the Knitting Corner!  Why oh why can’t I be there 🙂

If you like cozies or are looking for a nice, simple, relaxing book, I highly recommend this series!  I hope I don’t have to wait so long for #5.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “Murder on the Half Shelf” by Lorna Barrett (Booktown Mystery #6)

  Title:  Murder on the Half Shelf (Booktown Mystery Series #6)

Author:  Kate Carlisle

ISBN:  9780425247754

Publisher:  Berkley Publishing Group

 

Synopsis (from bn.com):

“If anyone has the formula for a frolicking fun mystery down pat, it’s Lorna Barrett” (Roundtable Reviews), the New York Times bestselling author whose latest Booktown Mystery finds amateur sleuth Tricia Miles unexpectedly reunited with a man from a chapter of her life she closed long ago…

Stoneham, New Hampshire, is a haven to bookstores, including Tricia’s own mystery shop, Haven’t Got a Clue, but is sadly lacking in bed and breakfasts. Pippa and Jon Comfort’s Sheer Comfort Inn opens its doors to the public in a week and the couple has offered some locals a free night as a trial run.

But what should have been a pleasant overnight stay for Tricia becomes a nightmare when she makes two startling discoveries: Pippa’s murdered body in the backyard, and the fact that her husband Jon is actually Harry Tyler, a man Tricia loved—and believed dead—for nearly twenty years.

Now Harry is the prime suspect, but Tricia doesn’t believe him capable of murder, regardless of her own feelings toward him. And even though Harry’s led a life of lies, Tricia’s learning that Pippa had her share of secrets that some people may have not wanted revealed…

 

My thoughts:  I have to admit that this book fell a bit flat for me, which is odd given that this is one of my favorite cozy series.  I usually love this series because I can picture the quaint little town with all of the bookshops and the diner.  This time, however, I just didn’t feel engaged with these characters that I have come to love.  I can’t quite put my finger on why this book felt a little boring to me.  I just felt annoyed with Angelica’s constant attitude and some pretty unbelievable turns in the story even for a cozy mystery.  The “whodunit” part came completely out of nowhere for me which led to further disappointment in the ending of the book.  When I found out who the culprit was, I was a bit shocked and not for a good reason.  Completely out of left field!

All that being said, the very last sentence of the book of course makes me want to stay with the series to see what happens!  A bit of a twist at the end which should make the next installment quite good!

An ok read in a series that I still highly recommend!

 

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “Kissed in Paris” by Juliette Sobanet

Tite:  Kissed in Paris

Author:  Juliette Sobanet

Available as Kindle Edition ebook on Amazon.com

Synopsis (from Amazon.com):

“You are in Paris, the City of Love. You must not be so controlled. Here, have another glass. I promise you, it will not hurt.”
When 29-year-old event planner Chloe Turner wakes up penniless and without a passport in the Plaza Athénée Hotel in Paris, she only has a few fleeting memories of Claude, the suave French man who convinced her to have that extra glass of wine before taking all of her possessions and slipping out the door. As the overly organized, go-to gal for her three drama queen younger sisters, her anxiety-ridden father, and her needy clients, Chloe is normally prepared for every disaster that comes her way. But with her wedding to her straight-laced, lawyer fiancé back in DC only days away and a French con-man on the loose with her engagement ring, this is one catastrophe she never could have planned for.
As Chloe tries to figure out a way home, she runs into an even bigger problem—the police are after her due to suspicious activity now tied to her bank account. Chloe’s only hope at retrieving her passport and clearing her name lies in the hands of a rugged, undercover agent named Julien who has a few secrets of his own. As Chloe follows this mysterious, and—although she doesn’t want to admit it—sexy French man on a wild chase through the sun-kissed countryside of France, she discovers a magical world she never knew existed and has to decide if the perfectly ordered life she’s built for herself back home is really what she wants after all.
My thoughts:  This was another one of my freebie finds on Amazon.com for my Kindle app on my iPad.   I must say that this book offered me much more than what I originally expected.  I admit that given that it is only found in ebook form, I thought it was going to be a pretty cheesy, simple book that would get me through some workouts in the gym.  It did get me through some elliptical workouts at the gym, but it also gave me a really enjoyable read.
I enjoyed the main character, the humor, the bit of intrique/mystery, the description of the trip through the French countryside, and of course the romance that any great chick lit book offers!
Overall, a great, romantic chick lit book.  When I got to the end, I found myself hoping that there would be a follow-up book to this story to let us know what happens.  Here is hoping!
I am certainy glad I happened to run into this book for free!  Definitely worth the read.
And remember,
Books Are Life,
Heather

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Book Review – “Get Bunny Love” by Kathleen Long

Title:  Get Bunny Love

Author:  Kathleen Long

Synopsis (from Amazon.com):  Yin… Beatrice Love has a problem. When her apartment building turns condo,
she’s forced to land a “real” job to secure financing – and fast. Accustomed to
freelancing as a graphic designer, she has a propensity for creative
distraction. From fuzzy bunny slippers to feng shui, she believes in surrounding
herself with whatever it takes to increase positive energy flow.

Yang…
Nate McNulty craves order. When his Aunt Martha, owner of McNulty Events,
announces she’s selling, he’ll do whatever it takes to save the family firm. Her
first demand is to successfully produce the prestigious Worthington Cup, a
regional kennel club show. One event coordinator short, Nate hires Bunny, and
the two agree to a mentor/apprentice relationship.

Zing… GET BUNNY
LOVE is a story of opposites attract. For Bunny, the only thing grayer than the
walls of McNulty Events is Nate’s stifled personality. To Nate, Bunny is a
distractingly mop-topped creative menace. Will she be able to see past his
lackluster exterior to the sizzling man inside? Will he be able to admit her
creative chaos has brought him back to life?

 

My thoughts:  I happened to come across this book completely by mistake as a freebie for my Kindle app on my iPad.  I started reading it to pass the time while I was on the elliptical and I must say it was actually pretty good.  It certainly isn’t going to win any literary awards for writing, plot, or anything else, but it is a charming chick lit/cozy type book.

The ever eccentric, creative, fun-loving Beatrice “Bunny” Love, who is interested in chi and feng shui finds herself working as an event planner at the successful McNulty firm, with Nate McNulty, the straight-laced, uptight, uncreative, ever professional son of the McNulty family.  Do you see where I am going with this?  Needless to say these opposites find themselves in more than one sticky situation as they plan the great Worthington Dog Show.

Overall, I thought it was a fun read.  Bunny’s character is fun, quirky, and adds a great bit of humor to the book.

A great, quick beach read or for that matter a great book for the gym 🙂

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny

  Title:  An Invisible Thread:  The true story of an 11-uear-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely             meeting with destiny.

Author:  Laura Schroff with Alex Tresniowski

ISBN:  9781451642513

Publisher:  Howard Books

Synopsis (from bn.com):

Stopping was never part of the plan . . .

She was a successful ad sales rep in Manhattan. He was a homeless, eleven-year-old panhandler on the street. He asked for spare change; she kept walking. But then something stopped her in her tracks, and she went back. And she continued to go back, again and again. They met up nearly every week for years and built an unexpected, life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost three decades.

Whatever made me notice him on that street corner so many years ago is clearly something that cannot be extinguished, no matter how relentless the forces aligned against it. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it heart. It drew me to him, as if we were bound by some invisible, unbreakable thread. And whatever it is, it binds us still.

My thoughts:  My book club picked this book for it’s July read.  Honestly, I had never even heard of it before and now am very glad I read it.

That being said, this is one of those books that really makes you think and really makes you think about things from two different sides.

Laura Schroff, successful magazine sales executive, runs into 11-year-old Maurice on the streets panhandling for some change for food.  At first she simply walks by, and then for some unknown reason she feels the need to turn back and take Maurice to lunch.  A simple moment, a simple decision that ultimately changes both of their lives forever.  Laura continues to meet Maurice for lunch every Monday for almost three years and develops a special relationship with him over the years.

On the one hand, this book is an absolutley beautiful journey of two disparate souls learning from one another.  Two people from completely different walks of life finding what they need from each other.  Maurice, the little boy from a poor, drug-ridden family learns from Laura what it is like to be cared for, to trust, to take responsiblity, and to work hard.  Laura, the successful New York professional, explores and comes to terms with her own abusive history.

Perhaps its the counselor side of me, but the other part of me just couldn’t get out of my head that wasn’t there a way for this responsible adult to take better steps for this child like calling protective services, getting into a more stable environment.  She knew he went back to a home of drug abuse, filth, and no food, yet continued to meet him and then he went on his way home.  My mind also questions, “Wasn’t this all sort of weird, in terms of an adult inviting this 11-year-old child repeatedly back to her house, and taking him places, clearly with no mean intent, but knowing that she could get in quite a bit of trouble?”  In fairness, the author does admit multiple times in the book that she noted these feelings as well in terms of how odd this looks, and if she was ultimately doing him more harm than good in the long run.

All in all, the book was very reminiscent of “The Soloist” for me, where the LA Times reporter meets the schizophrenic man in the park, who ends up to be at one time a very skilled violinist and cellist.  They end up developing a relationship and the reporter tries to get the man involved in his music again and get him assistance for his mental illness.  I ultimately was more moved by “The Soloist” as it involved an adult and not an innocent child.

All in all a very inspirational, thought-provoking read, however my nagging questions took some of the thrill of it away for me.  I will admit that the actual writing was a bit simplistic and ridiculous at times.

A decent read if you are looking for a heart-warming read.  It begs the question, are we destined to meet certain people at a certain time in our lives – are we connected by an invisible thread?

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review – “May Day” by Jess Lourey (Murder by Month Mystery Series #1)

  Title:  May Day (Murder by Month Series #1)

Author:  Jess Lourey

ISBN:  9780738708386

Publisher:  Llewellyn

 

Synopsis (bn.com):

Minneapolitan Mira James has been taking it easy since college graduation—too easy. Due to a dead-end job and a cheating boyfriend, the Twin Cities have lost their charm, and Mira decides to begin a new life in rural Battle Lake. Right away she is offered jobs as an assistant librarian and part-time reporter, and falls into an unexpected romance with a guy who seems to be the perfect man until he turns up dead between the reference stacks her tenth day on the job.

Anxious to learn more about the man who had briefly stolen her heart, Mira delves into the hidden mysteries of Battle Lake, including a old land deed with ancient Ojibwe secrets, an obscure octogenarian crowd with freaky social lives, and a handful of thirtysomething high school buddies who hold bitter, decades-old grudges. Mira soon discovers that unknown dangers are concealed under the polite exterior of this quirky small town, and revenge is a tator-tot hotdish best served cold.

A hip, humorous, and gripping account of small-town murder, this novel is the first in a series of cozies featuring Mira James, an urban woman with rural Minnesota roots.

 

My thoughts:  This book marks the debut for Jess Lourey’s Murder by the Month Mystery Series.  I have now read this one and the second one, and I must say the series is just so-so.  Put it this way, it is the type of cozy mystery that I read while I am on the elliptical as a no brainer.  A couple of good workouts and you can get through the book.  The main character and other characters in the series for that matter are relatively unmemorable.   As far as the “cozy” factor goes, I don’t find the setting in the book particulary cozy as I do the coffee shop books, cupcake books, and other cozies I read.

I don’t have much to say about this one.  It is the type of series that I certainly don’t rush out to buy.  However, they do come across Amazon Kindle free or relatively cheap once a while so I grab them up.

Worth a try if you need some light, easy reading.

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “10th Anniversary” by James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club #10)

  Title:  10th Anniversary (Women’s Murder Club #10)

Author:  James Patterson

Publisher:  Little Brown & Co

Synopsis (from bn.com):

For every secret Detective Lindsay Boxer’s long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals—but that the victim may be keeping secrets as well.

For every lie At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life—a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki’s career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?

There’s a different way to die Lindsay’s every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby begins interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she’ll ever be able to start a family. With James Patterson’s white-hot speed and unquenchable action, 10th Anniversary is the most deliciously chilling Women’s Murder Club book ever.

My thoughts:  This is the 10th installment in the Women’s Murder Club Series by James Patterson.  For those of you not familiar with the Women’s Murder Club you have:  Lindsay Boxer, detective with the San Francisco Police Department; Claire, Medical Examiner; Cindy, reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle; and Yuki, Assistant District Attorney.  They have coined themselves the Women’s Murder Club as they began to work cases together.

I really have enjoyed this entire series.  I was hesitant at first to embard on #10 as #9 left me a little underwhelmed and I feared the series was maybe losing a bit of it’s steam.  This book definitely did not disappoint.  I really enjoy the women characters in these novels, although I wish they were a bit edgier, particularly given their careers.  Perhaps I just want to see empowered, strong female characters!

This series certainly is not as fast-paced and dramatic as many books in James Patterson’s Alex Cross series.  It offers a little more humor and romance along the way.

Although I certainly enjoyed this book, I will say that the end seemed a bit rushed and out of sync for me.  All of a sudden it felt as if the author was rushing to cram in some crimes and extra characters to bring the crimes to an end.  It felt a little fake and hurried at the end and a bit too much like it was tied up with a nice little ribbon.

I of course am looking forward to the 11th book in the series, “11th Hour” due out in 2012!

Definitley a fast read for the beach!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “Death by Killer Mop Doll” by Lois Winston

  Title:  Death By Killer Mop Doll (Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery #2)

Author:  Lois Winston

ISBN:  9780738725857

Publisher:  Midnight Ink

Synopsis (from bn.com):

Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack’s stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia’s mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show’s new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer’s unforgiving spotlight.

Also includes instructions for creating holiday-themed mop dolls!

Critical acclaim for Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series

My thoughts:  I love this witty, charming cozy mystery series.  Anastasia Pollack, crafts editor for American Woman Magazine, is back in another hilarious adventure.  I love this main character, Anastasia, and the rest of this wacky cast of characters.  This series offers a wonderful addition to the cozy mystery genre.  Readers of this series will enjoy reading how the characters continue to grow and develop since the first book in the series “Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun”, including their continued shenanigans.  I am really interested to see what happens between Anastasia and her hunky, photographer tenant . . . are they a couple?  Ooooooo.

I look forward to the next book in the series, “Revenge of the Crafty Corpse” coming in 2013.

This would make a great summer beach read!  Enjoy!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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Book Review – “Death by the Dozen” by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #3)

  Title:  Death By the Dozen (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #3)

Author:  Jenn McKinlay

Publisher:  Penguin

ISBN:  9780425244050

Synopsis (from bn.com): Melanie and Angie are determined to win the Challenge to the Chef to promote their Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery. Mel’s mentor from culinary school, Vic Mazzotta, may be one of the judges, but Mel and Angie will have to win fair and square. But, when Vic’s dead body is found inside a freezer truck, Mel and Angie will need to use their best judgment to find the cold-blooded killer or they may lose more than the contest- they may lose their lives.

My thoughts:  Another adventure for friends Melanie and Angie as they enter their Fairy Tale Cupcake Bakery into the Challenge to the Chef at the Scottsdale Food Festival.  Needless to say, one of Mel’s cooking school mentors and celebrity judge for the event, is found dead in a freezer truck?  Who are the suspects?

I enjoy this series quite a bit.  I love the characters, Melanie and Angie, and their supporting cast if you will, namely Angie’s 6 brothers, their friend Tate, and other interesting characters.  I really enjoy the “cozy” aspect of this series, especially their time in the kitchen baking scrumptious cupcakes for their retro bakery.  Another great series to add to your cozy list.

As with many cozies, there are delicious recipes in the back of these books.  I have tried some of the cupcake recipes before and they are delicious.  In this book there are recipies for:

*  Parsnip Cupcake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

*  Chocolate Stout Brownie Torte

*  Chocolate Chili Cupcakes

*  Deep Fried Bananas with Baked Plantains

*  Goat Cheese Mini Tarts

*  Red Velvet Cupcakes (using beets)

Is your mouth watering yet . . . ?  Give this series and these recipes a try, you won’t be disapp0inted.

As a note, the 4th book in this Cupcake Bakery Series “Red Velvet Revenge” is coming out in July 2012.  The author, Jenn McKinlay, is also the author of another great cozy series called the Library Lover’s Series – I have read the first one and it is very charming.  I loved it!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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