Monday, July 30, 2012


I haven't posted in a couple of days. Am at the hospital with my husband who is in ICU after suffering a "heart event." I don't have my book list with me and am posting from my phone. Will hopefully be back in the zone soon. Until then, keep reading!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pagan Moon

Another chilling thriller. This one by William Davis. I was a little leery of this because of the title. Many people don't realize the importance of capitalizing a letter. Huge difference for the word "pagan."  Describing someone as pagan (little p) can mean the presence of devil and Satanic worship. The Pagan religion (capital P) however is a "do no harm" religion of love, peace and tolerance. Pagans do not believe in the Christian God nor do they believe in Satan, so certainly they do not engage in devil worshipping. Anyway, hoping I wasn't paying to have a religious agenda poked down my throat, I followed the advice of a friend and purchased Pagan Moon.

They were right. It was an awesome read. Very chilling. Although I was fairly certain at the begining of the book that it would eventually end well, as things progressed the main characters started going to hell in a handbasket (pardon the pun). Mr. Davis created a macabre setting and filled it with interesting, well-fleshed characters with a complex plot that continued to surprise me until the final pages. I was very entertained. Edge-of-your-seat (or in my case bed) reading. An intriguing twist to the cookie-cutter "serial killer" theme. Add in cyrogenics, terrorists planning to take over the world and the teeniest touch of paranormal and I can't think of a better send-off for a first-time-published writer.

Amazon describes the book as:

Click HERE to order
From the savage Everglades to opulent Palm Beach, sheriff’s detective Mike Gage pursues a death cult no one else believes exists. Gage knows they do—his former lover was one of its ritually sacrificed victims. Obsessed with her murder, Mike becomes a homicide cop. Throughout his career more women’s bodies turn up throughout South Florida, all the same mutilation—the brutal extraction of the heart.

When a pretty coed eventually escapes the cult's bloody altar, Gage is shocked when powerful philanthropist and financier Quentin Van Eck is exposed as the group’s high priest. After Van Eck’s mysterious death, his body is cryogenically preserved. That’s when Gage begins to unravel the truth behind Van Eck’s Virilian Foundation and the sinister evil lurking beneath its respectable facade. Assisted by Van Eck’s beautiful widow and a mysterious Frenchman with ties to the ancient Templar order, Gage uncovers the cult’s apocalyptic objective. Cryonic suspension, human sacrifice and satanic worship formulate the alchemy to incarnate a malevolent spirit that will enslave mankind.

Battling the embodiment of evil, Gage challenges a power that could not only take his life but his very soul. James Patterson meets Stephen King.
It did bother me that there were so many formatting errors. Blank pages, loooooong blank spaces in sentences and between paragraphs. It is a credit to the exquisite writing that my eyes soon learned to block out the spaces to avoid the distraction. I would suggest that the author reformat ASAP. This book deserves to go into the fray dressed to the max.

Daddy's Home

Although the title sounds like a Leave It To Beaver episode, in this case "daddy" is the polar opposite of Ward Cleaver. When this guy said Daddy's Home it didn't end well for anybody but dear old dad.
Although you learn the name of the killer in the first few pages, it isn't until near the end that it all ties up in a neat (albeit bloody) bow and you figure out who he really is. This "psychological thriller" storyline was somewhat reminiscent of an episode of Criminal Minds...and just as thrilling and well-written. There was a very warm fuzzy romance threaded through the novel, nicely done. Not too cloying, with enough angst to keep you rooting for the good guys. Characters were well-written and fleshed out nicely and the dialogue and imagery was interesting. Certainly having the protagonist use her mouth (in a, ahem, creative way that would take any man's mind off his driving) to crash a plane as a ploy to remove herself from the hands of a serial killer was unique. A.K. Alexander is the pen name for bestselling mystery author Michele Scott (The Nikki Sands Mystery Series).

From Amazon:
Click HERE to order
A calculating and deadly killer is in search for what he terms as his perfect family. Preying upon single mothers and their innocent children, the police have dubbed him "The Family Man."

He plays out his role as the perfect father. When things don't go so perfect in his insane fantasy world, the family man kills.

Crime Scene Investigator Holly Jennings of the San Diego Police Department is determined to track him down and see that justice is served. With Holly being a single mother herself, this man's crimes are deeply personal to her, and turn more so when a friend and her daughter become the latest victims of "The Family Man."

Along with tracking an evil killer, Holly is dealing with her own internal demons. She is raising her daughter Chloe alone after the death of her husband--a death she feels guilty for.

To complicate her life further, Holly is doing her best to avoid possibly falling in love again with charming veterinarian Brendan O'Neil. As Holly delves deeper into solving the murders, she finds herself being sucked into a game of cat and mouse by "The Family Man," that may lead her down a dark path too horrible to bear. One that may cost her gravely-her family, her new found love, and even her life.

This wasn't a quick read, but was very enjoyable...if you enjoy being privy to crime scenes so descriptively written that you can almost smell the blood and hear the screams. If you're a fan of James Patterson or John Sanford, you'll probably enjoy this a lot.

Oddly, for some reason the cover to The Lion, The Lamb, The Hunted is what showed up on my Kindle. (There was a preview to this book at the end of Daddy's Home.) Very confusing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Desperate Housedogs

Click HERE to order
Straight up I'll tell you, if you're not an animal lover you're probably going to be in the group that gave this book just a star or two. If you're an animal lover, or more specifically a dog lover and you enjoy cozy mysteries with a sprinkling of humor then you're going to definitely 'see stars.' Lots of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read and found myself nodding my head along with Caro Lamont, dog psychologist, as she explained to clients what their dogs were trying to tell them by their actions and how to answer positively in a way the dog would understand. With over 30 years in the dog community as a breeder-exhibitor and working in rescue, I firmly believe that the only answer to the overwhelming need for rescue is education. This book, authored by "Sparkle Abbey" does an excellent job of educating and informing all while entertaining. A tough job. By the way, I put "Sparkle Abbey" in quotation marks because she doesn't really exist. "Sparkle" is the name of Mary Lee Woods rescue cat and "Abbey" is the rescue dog of Anita Carter, two friends who co-write this Pampered Pets mystery series under the pseudonym of Ms. Abbey. And they do it so well!

Amazon describes the book as:

When Caro Lamont, former psychologist turned pet therapist makes a house call to help Kevin Blackstone with his two misbehaving German Shepherd dogs, she expects frantic dogs, she expects a frantic dog owner, she even expects frantic neighbors. What she doesn’t expect is that two hours later the police will find Kevin dead, his dogs impounded; and that as the last person to see Kevin alive (well, except for the killer) she is suddenly a person of interest, at least according to Homicide Detective Judd Malone.

What Amazon doesn't describe is the sideline story of an ongoing feud between Caro and her cousin  as they battle to steal an antique brooch back and forth from each other. Thanks to a cryptic clause in her will, Caro and her cousin each believe that their great-aunt left them brooch. After all, she said "to my favorite niece...." Their antics do add a nice fun sideline that is carried through the series.

Not only was it a well-laid-out story line, I actually was kept guessing until the very end "whodunnit." Rare for me, as I can usually tell after the first fourth of a book or movie what the ending will be.

If you enjoy Susan Conant, Carol Lea Benjamin, Laurien Berenson and similar writers of cozy dog mysteries, you'll want to add Desperate Housedogs to your reading list.

(Every time I see the author's name, Sparkle Abbey, I think of a stripper. Great pseudonym!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Elvis Has Not Left The Building

If you are one of the thousands who think you've seen Elvis at the Laundromat and the Dairy Queen or at the local Dollar General you might be right. As it turns out, as so many devoted fans have said all along, Elvis did NOT die. He just left the business and is alive and well, making a living as California's oldest (probably, he'd be something like 75 years old now) private detective. Having walked away from his singing career and all his millions (seems as if he'd have put at least a coffee can of hundreds under the bed) Elvis has been forced to make money in unorthodox ways. Luckily, he has found that he's good at it. As good as life is though, he is as melancholy as you'd expect anyone to be that sees his daughter regularly on the pages of newspapers and magazines but knows he can't ever reach out and touch her.

This was the first book I'd read by J. R. Rains, but it won't be the last! I already have a couple of others waiting in my queue. Can't wait! To take such an unusual premise and make it not only work but be exceptionally entertaining takes talent. I could hear the words I read spoken in Elvis's voice and even though I was never a huge Elvis fan (forgive me, mama) I found the book absolutely delightful. The plot was well-written and well-thought-out. When it comes to this book, I really "can't help falling in love..."

Amazon's synopsis:

Click HERE to order
It's tough being the King.

Which is why in 1977 Elvis faked his own death and endured massive facial reconstruction surgery, and disappeared from the limelight to live a normal life as the unassuming Aaron King. Unfortunately, leaving fame behind also meant leaving his fortune behind, too, and now Elvis finds himself broke and living in near poverty in a small apartment in Los Angeles. Luckily for him, it turns out he's a pretty good private investigator.

Now in his seventies and contemplating a return to music (discreetly, of course), Elvis is hired to solve a baffling missing person case. The King digs deeper, and soon finds himself surrounded by the seedier elements of Los Angeles, from nefarious Hollywood producers who prey upon the young, to twin brothers with a very dark secret.

And as Elvis pieces the bizarre puzzle together, he slowly makes his singing comeback—and will be reunited on stage with someone even the King himself never dreamed possible.

There was no dog featured in the book. Except a couple of mentions about someone being "nothing but a hound-dog."

Thank you. Thank you verry much.

Monday, July 23, 2012

She's Gotta Be Mine

Sorry's winner is another "chick" book. Although it does have a mystery element I admit it also does have romance. However, since the romance is well sprinkled with sex (and this author's 'day job' is writing erotic romance, so she knows her stuff) you might still enjoy it.

Jennifer Skully/Jasmine Hayes hit another one out of the park with this one. She's Gotta Be Mine was a very fun read. Most reviews I've seen give it a middle-of-the-road review for just being "entertaining" but I would have to give it a star higher for being so well-written. (It has a four-star rating on Amazon, and a four-and-a-half on Goodreads, which means it had to have an awful lot of five stars in the mix).

The Amazon description is way too short in my opinion:
Click HERE to order
Dumped? For her husband’s high school sweetheart he hasn’t seen in twenty years? Roberta Jones Spivey isn’t going to lay down for that. Instead, she reinvents herself and the new Bobbie Jones—new haircut, new name, new attitude—follows her soon-to-be ex to the small Northern California town of Cottonmouth.

What better way to show him—and his sweetheart—what he’s missing in the brand new Bobbie Jones than taking up with the town’s local bad boy—who’s also reputed to be a serial killer. Nick Angel is devilishly handsome and sexy as all get-out. In a word, perfect.

It’s all going exactly according to plan...until a real murder rocks the little town of Cottonmouth. Of course, Nick didn’t do it...did he?

Previously published as "Sex and the Serial Killer" I found myself rooting for the "serial killer." It was also nice to find out that the "pretty blonde from high school" was lying about more than her dark roots and although I won't give anything else away, just let me say that I always like a happy ending. This was a pretty much a "cookie cutter" plot, but the situations, the dialogue and the well-fleshed-out characters made it very enjoyable quick light read. Excellent choice for reading at the beach or in the hammock with a big glass of iced tea with mint.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All That Jazz (Tremaine)

It's really tough these days to come up with a premise for a paranormal book that will be a "fresh breath" among all of the Twilight-wannabes. Linda Wilson has proven that her lungs are in great working condition as she continues to provide readers with 'fresh breaths' in every book.

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover was the first of the books I'd read by Wilson featuring the main character of Jazz Tremaine, a witch with an attitude. Jazz lives with three other witches who were tossed out of the witchy world because of transgressions some 300 years ago. As they continue to get in trouble and get called on the carpet, their exile appears to be permanent. Since I read 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover I've rollicked through Hex Appeal, Hex in High Heels and am anxiously awaiting another. No, they're not great literature, but they do exactly what they're meant to do. Entertain me. And they do. (The story starts slow, so give it a chance.)

Amazon's description of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover:

Click HERE to order
Jazz can't decide whether to scorch him with a fireball or jump into bed with him. Jasmine Tremaine, a witch who can't stay out of trouble. Nikolai Gregorivich, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire cop on the trail of a serial killer.

The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been off-again, on-again-for about 300 years. Mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz's help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their ever-increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters, including Irma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz's sports car, Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss, and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles)!

Most readers agree that Fluff and Puff, the monster bunny slippers, are the cutest characters in the book. Although they have a nasty temper, they're easily cowed when Jazz simply lifts her foot (they're afraid of heights). Personally, I think I liked Irma the ghost the best; destined to haunt Jazz's car forever with cigarette smoke and backtalk. Since Jazz is in her car frequently for her job removing hexes from her clients, Irma and Jazz's conversations fill up quite a bit of the book. Of course her conversations (and romantic interludes) with Nick take up quite a few too.

The title was misleading. Jazz never hexes anybody. Much less Nick. And although there's a cat on the cover, there wasn't one in the book. If you're up for a fun read without a lot of brain cell involvement pick up a copy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brainstorm ------ almost gave me a brain freeze

A chilling premise. Good characters. Twist ending (which I won't spoil for you, although I sure would like to talk about it right now!) Starts off fast and doesn't slow down. I've been told I've reviewed too many "chick lit" books and not any "guy books." So, if by "guy books" you mean those with bombs, boobs, sex, fighter jets, assault rifles, Marines, POWs, matrix trips, a gerbil and a psychic threat...then my last read was just for you!

In Brainstorm, author Gordon Kessler touches a nerve that we weren't aware was raw. But, once twanged that nerve will never be the same again.

Amazon describes it as:

Click HERE to purchase
What if a small American town is secretly replicated, populated with kidnapped scientists and psychically talented civilians, and then used as a proving ground while training psychic assassins? Political and military leaders of the Free World are the targets of these psychic warriors, and Project Brainstorm's goal is world domination.

Gold Rush seems to be just another sleepy little Colorado community full of friendly, caring citizens, quaint cottages, and a sort of quiet peace, held gently by the picturesque mountains that surround it. However, something isn't right in Gold Rush, and early on a Monday morning Robert Weller awakens with a cautioning and insuppressible voice inside his head. He soon finds a secret behind every door, a motive with every glance, and a lie beneath every spoken word. After meeting a strange but beautiful woman named Sunny who insists they were once lovers, people begin dropping dead around him without apparent cause. The world he thought he knew twists upside down as paramilitary teams hunt him, and his own wife and the people he considers friends turn against him.

Weller is thrown into the middle of a military mission to rescue thousands of the town's citizens from a plot to destroy the free world. In time, Weller discovers he was once the CIA's top remote viewer, and it's not just the bad guys who will lose if he survives another day.

BRAINSTORM goes beyond the bounds of ordinary reason. It blends the past (the CIA's "Project Stargate," a twenty-year exploration into remote viewing and psychic powers as background) with the present (incredible new developments in nonlethal weapons such as acoustic cannons, sticky foam, anti-traction substances, electromagnetic pulse devices, and infrared lasers). And it throws in a very sobering reminder; that there are still thousands of American MIAs from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

It didn't come as much of a shock to me to find out that Mr. Kessler is a former US Marine parachutist, recon scout and Super Squad team leader. His writing proves an amazing knowledge of all things military (good and bad). With his history as a published, well-received writer, with a degree in creative writing, I can't help but wonder how on earth so many silly mistakes made it through even the first edit, much less the last one! Using "saw" instead of "seen" (loc. 1202), "pealed" instead of "peeled" (loc. 2107), the improper use of possessive "hello's" (loc. 2181), an extra o in "loosing" (loc. 4858), and in loc. 5000 a phrase that I couldn't make heads of tails of...with Robert posing Sunny on the table "as if she were in her finally resting." Sadly, there were a lot more. Especially a shame in such an otherwise amazing book.

I personally did not like the way the book ended. I thought the story should have ended several pages earlier and the last few pages were too "Twilight Zone-ish," in my opinion taking away from what was otherwise an absolutely magnificent tale that had me on the edge of my seat, having to slow down my reading so I wouldn't finish it too quickly. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Kessler's work....when I'm asked to review another "guy book" I'll be ready!

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead

I obviously can't resist a fun title. It's always such a rush when the book shows as much creativity as the title...and this one didn't disappoint me! After a somewhat slow start, the downhill ride to the final page was full of funny one-liners, eye-rolling situations and enough tense moments and unanswered questions to keep me turning the pages (and, yes, there were quite a few editing errors too but I still kept flipping those pages). Author Christine Miller definitely is a name of which to make note if you're into paranormal romance/cozy mysteries with a side order of humor.
Amazon describes the book this way: A little magic can go a long way -- to really screwing up a girl's life!
Click HERE to order

Mara is having the worst month of her life. At least, that's what her cards tell her and they've never been wrong. She's evicted from her apartment, loses her job and is banned from Beverly Hills. So when the tarot cards predict her imminent demise, she uses a little magic to make her world right.

Suddenly, an aunt she's never met dies, leaving Mara as her sole heir. But when Mara moves into her inherited home, she discovers Aunt Tillie never moved out. She's still one pissed-off old lady, even post-mortem, and she blames Mara's magical meddling for her death.

When Mara accidentally releases a demon and awakens the spirit of the most powerful witch in history, Tillie's ready to kill her -- literally. It's the only way she can think of to save the girl from herself. The witch and the demon, however, have other plans for Mara's body!

I think perhaps the synopsis should include the fact that the house that Mara inherited is truly a haunted more than just Aunt Tillie's ghost. Possibly mentioning Mara's best friend, the flamboyantly flaming Gus (also a witch) could have added a little zest to the description. Of course, if you add all that you shouldn't leave out Lord Grundleshanks the poison toad or ... well, maybe you'd just better read the book.

NOTE: Personally, I find the religion of Wicca to be very interesting and intriguing although, sadly, very misunderstood by our society. This book did make the very valid point that the Wiccan faith is one of peace and love and tolerance. Not one of black magic and evil. It also allowed for a couple of quotable quotes about tolerance: "You'd think that church of his would teach him tolerance. Whatever happened to love thy neighbor?" (Kindle location 3851) and "Did you miss the Crusades? The Inquisition? Since when has any fundamentalist religion taught religious tolerance?" (Kindle location 3853) It is my opinion that our world today needs a good dose of tolerance. Failing that, maybe everyone should just read about Aunt Tillie and relax!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove

I swear I didn't make up that title. I wish I had. Author Christopher Moore definitely has cornered the market on "intriguing book titles" with this one, (running neck and neck with Island of the Sequined Love Nun in the race for my personal all time "Best Title" award).

I bought the book simply because the title not only made me raise an eyebrow, but crack a smile. It's a bit pricier than a lot of other Kindle books, but, how do you put a price on a grin?  I don't show a lot of emotion while I'm reading. It's a rare book that makes me smile as I flip pages much less before I even flip the first one. I started smiling at the title...and didn't stop until I finished. There were even, wait for it, yes, a few not only chuckle-moments but a couple of actual LOLs. Yep. Me, laughing out loud while reading a book. I couldn't believe it either. Carl Hiassen describes Chris Moore as "A very sick man, in the very best sense of the word." I couldn't have said that better either.

Click HERE to purchase
Amazon describes the book like this: The town psychiatrist has decided to switch everybody in Pine Cove, California, from their normal antidepressants to placebos, so naturally—well, to be accurate, artificially—business is booming at the local blues bar. Trouble is, those lonely slide-guitar notes have also attracted a colossal sea beast named Steve with, shall we say, a thing for explosive oil tanker trucks. Suddenly, morose Pine Cove turns libidinous and is hit by a mysterious crime wave, and a beleaguered constable has to fight off his own gonzo appetites to find out what's wrong and what, if anything, to do about it.

I could wax poetic about all sorts of metaphors and imagery and other literary goop phrases, but to cut to the chase ... I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed reading it more than any other book I've cracked open (or turned on) in a very long time. Moore has an excellent writing style, he came up with yet another outrageous premise and once again unforgettable characters. There's a monster, people getting eaten by said monster, there's stuff blowing up, there's people getting shot, quite a bit of weed smokin' and a heck of a lot of people finding what they didn't know they've been looking for their whole lives.

All in all, it truly fits the time-worn phrase of "rollicking tale." Pure enjoyment. The reason I read.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Maggie For Hire

First, let me ask you...(and no, the question isn't "are you feeling lucky, punk") have you read and did you like The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher? If the answer is yes to both of those, well whether you're feeling it or not, you're in luck! Maggie For Hire has very much the same tone and feel of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and is just as intriguing. (If you haven't read either Dresden OR Maggie then you're too far behind for me to help you right now. Go buy two copies and call me in the morning.)

As soon as I read the synopsis I figured I was going to like it. When I also read the "WARNING: This book contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution" I knew absolutely sure that Kate Danley and I were gonna be buds (in my head at least). 

I love strong women. Not stringent "butch stalking in army boots, ima kick your butt" type strong, but women who can handle themselves in any situation AND both wear army boots and use them for pretty swift butt-kickin'. In a perfect world, they look really good while they're doing it too. In my head, I have the potential to be that kind of woman. In this book, Maggie MacKay is definitely the type. She is my hero. Or maybe Kate Danley is for creating Maggie? Either way, I loved the book.

Yeah, some of it coulda been fleshed out more. And there were the usual ebook tendencies for formatting and other errors. But, when you're really engrossed in a book you don't notice so much. And I was. And I didn't.

Click HERE to order says about Maggie For Hire:

When monsters appear in Los Angeles, Maggie MacKay is on the job. No one is better at hauling the creepy crawlies back where they belong. No one, that is, except her dad, who disappeared without a trace in the middle of an assignment.

Now an elf named Killian has shown up with a gig. Seems Maggie's uncle is working with the forces of dark to turn Earth into a vampire convenience store, serving bottomless refills on humans.

The only hope for survival lies in tracking down two magical objects and a secret that vanished with Maggie's father.

I'm usually up for giving a chance to any book with action, good character development and paranormal elements. In Maggie For Hire I found the paranormal elements in the form of fairies, ghouls, vampires and other things that go bump in the night. I found the action in a very good story line carried out by well-developed characters that I'd love to invite over for dinner and a movie one night. So long as Killian agrees to carry Maggie's back up gun.

Although as I might have mentioned, I'm a little burned out on the whole idea of "series"...I can't wait to have the second in the series come up in my queue.

Sadly, there was no main dog character (not even a cat...that I recall) but there was a sexy drop-dead gorgeous male elf named Killian. I can forgive the lack of a pet in this case.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Goddess of Fried Okra

Wow! I thought to myself when I read the title. Someone wrote a book about my Grandma? Or one of my aunts, Lucille or Leo? Of course I knew they hadn't, but the title immediately made my mouth water for one of our long-table-down-the-dogtrot-hallway family dinners. My family had several Goddess of Fried Okra-s, so I was intrigued to find out what someone else thought the title should fit. Obviously I had to purchase the book, even though the description sounded like one of those "finding herself" books that I usually find somewhat drawn-out and boring and to be avoided at all costs unles I'm having to look for a reason to sniffle into my tissues.  If the word "poignant" is used in a description, I usually just move along. Glad I didn't this time! Thanks to author Jean Brashear for creating such an enjoyable journey. I have likened it to Eudora Welty's writing (one of the best compliments I can give).

Although this wasn't something I should have liked at any point, considering that I was in the middle of a fluff-paranormal extravaganza of reading it was even less likely something that was going to entrap me. But, I absolutely couldn't put it down. I tried. I tried to sleep. And couldn't. So I read just one more page. And then one more after that. And I finished it in one reading (who needs to sleep when one has no work schedule?)

I have read a lot of reviews of this book, and strangely, the people who purchased it because of its description were disappointed. The ones that purchased it despite the description were blown away. Number reviews were all over the board from a 1 to a 5. I gave it 4 stars. (To be a little brutal here, if the author hadn't seemed to want to impress readers with her own literary knowledge, I might have gone to a five star rating. I tended to skim over parts such as the indepth reasoning behind naming a kitten after an Egyptian goddess.)

All in all, this was a charming read. I will probably re-read it someday...something I rarely say any more because of the avalanche of indie books available for the Kindle. If I made a deal with God that I could live until I finished the last book currently on my Amazon Cloud, I'd be able to watch my great-great-every-so-many-great nieces and nephews graduate and start families!

From the Amazon page:

Grief. Hope. Love. Sword fights. And the crisp glory of fried okra. Ex-cocktail waitress and "convenience store professional" Eudora "Pea" O'Brien is filled with grief and regret, low on cash and all alone. Headed down the hot, dusty back roads of central Texas, Pea is convinced she'll find a sign leading her to the reincarnated soul of the sister who raised her. A sign that she's found her place in the world of the living again. At least that's what the psychic promised. In an unforgettably funny and poignant journey, Pea collects an unlikely family of strays-a starving kitten, a pregnant teenager, a sexy con man trying to go straight, and a ferocious gun dealer named Glory, who introduces Pea to the amazing, sword-wielding warrior goddesses of Texas author Robert E. Howard-creator of the Conan the Barbarian novels-and celebrated in festival every year. Six foot tall, red-headed Pea looks good with a sword in her hand. Glory, the goddesses, and a grandmotherly café owner become Pea's unlikely gurus as she struggles to learn swordplay and the art of perfect fried okra. She'll have to master both if she's going to find what matters most-her own lost soul.

Antiques Roadkill

How could anyone pass up a book with a title like that? I couldn't. I am a packrat of the first degree. I keep everything that has any sort of memory attached...or that might have someone else's memories. My house is filled with an eclectic display of valuable pieces and junk. Each given the same priority in their display status. My bookshelves have not only a wide assortment of book genres, old and new, but treasures that include a huge blown glass paperweight  and its matching lamp that are older than I am sharing space with a tacky plastic carnival fairy won by a long ago boyfriend.

I am as enamored with "junky" antique shops as I am by used book stores. It's always such a rush to discover a hole-in-the-wall store in an unexpected place...oftentimes with amusing names that beckon me even stronger through the doors. (One of my favorites was "Unik Junque: Antiques Old and New" discovered while traveling Georgia backroads on our way to pick up a new goat.)  I could spend hours just perusing among shelves crammed with little pieces of history. And of course, I rarely leave a book or antique store empty-handed. The mother and daughter team introduced in Antiques Roadkill, #1 in the Trash 'N Treasures series have just such an addiction. These cozy mysteries are also interspersed with several interesting hints and tips for choosing and caring for antique items making it obvious that more than just casual research has been done by the author(s).

The Amazon blurb describes the book thusly:

Determined to make a new start in her quaint hometown on the banks of the Mississippi, Brandy Borne never dreams she'll become the prime suspect in a murder case. . .
Click HERE to order
Moving back in with her eccentric, larger-than-life mother, Brandy Borne finds small-town Serenity anything but serene. It seems an unscrupulous antiques dealer has swindled Vivian out of the family's heirlooms. But when he is found run over in a country lane, Brandy becomes Murder Suspect Number One--with her mother coming in a very close second. . .

The list of other suspects is impressive--the victim's business seems to have been based on bilking seniors out of their possessions. And when the Borne "girls" uncover a few very unsavory Serenity secrets, they become targets for a murderer whose favorite hobby seems to be collecting victims.

This is a very charming book, but I have to admit that I'm getting harder to please with these "fluffy series." I enjoy reading them, but I am growing weary of always having to think of their characters as someone who's moving in next door. I prefer to think of the people I read about as someone who sits next to me on the plane. I'm going to get to know them intimately for a few hours and then after a hug or a handshake we'll both go our separate directions. When I know I'm reading book one of a series, it's sort of intimidating. I have to constantly be asking myself if this is someone I want to ask over for cake and coffee or if I want to keep them at arm's length and just speak to them when we meet taking out the garbage. All that said, this had a cute premise and it WAS a fun read and was very well edited! I also decided to continue to read the series after I read a bit about the author(s). Barbara Allan is the pseudonym for Barbara (Too Many Tomcats) and Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition). I have always been in awe of married couples who write together. And certainly they are successful whether they write alone or as a pair. The Trash N Treasures series includes Antiques Roadkill, Antiques Maul, Antiques Flee Market, Antiques Bizarre, Antiques Knock-Off, and the latest Antiques Disposal.

Did I mention there's a dog? There's a dog. Sushi, a blind shih tzu. That charmed me almost as much as the book itself. That someone cared enough to make the point that dogs are part of the family for life. You don't give up on them when the going gets tough. Kudos to the Collins for being animal lovers as well as antiques lovers. Would y'all be interested in adopting me?

Diary Of A Mad Fat Girl ... (who isn't me)

When I first saw the title of the book Diary of A Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee, my heart literally skipped a beat. As I was wearing a Holter monitor at the time, this moment was recorded for posterity on my medical charts. As part of my mind raced back over everyone I've known through the decades, trying to remember a Stephanie McAfee who might have had access to the underwear drawer where my diary once lay hidden, the sensible part of my mind (admittedly the smallest part) read the blurb on the book's Amazon page.
My heartbeat went back to normal as I read and realized that we were talking about a different mad fat girl. Whew.

Click HERE to order
Graciela "Ace" Jones is mad -- mad at her best friend Lilly who cancels their annual trip to Panama City for mysterious reasons; at her boss Catherine for "riding her ass like a fat lady on a Rascal scooter;" at her friend Chloe's abusive husband; and especially at Mason McKenzie, the love of her life, who has shown up with a marriage proposal one year too late. Ace is never mad, though, at her near-constant companion, an adorable chiweenie dog named Buster Loo.

Ace's anger begins to dissipate as she takes matters into her own hands to take down Chloe's philandering husband-and to get to the bottom of a multitude of other scandals plaguing Bugtussle, Mississippi. Then, she starts to realize that maybe Mason deserves a second chance after all.

With a sharp and distinctive voice, Stephanie McAfee delivers a hilarious and fast-paced tale about Ace Jones and her two best friends-thick as thieves and tough as nails-navigating Southern small-town politics and prejudices, finding love, and standing up for each other all the way.

Although mad fat girls aren't exactly rare, I think we should stick together. So I bought the book. And was very glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through Bugtussle, Mississippi with Ace and her friends. Enough so that I bought a map so I could find the place again when Ms. McAfee visits.

This book was written especially for anyone who's ever taken a deep breath and pulled up their big girl (2X white granny) panties and done what needing doing no matter what...for anyone who knows that friends come and go but best friends are worth fighting with and for anyone who enjoys sass and banter with a side order of justice all done with a charming Southern accent. If you've ever thought that "he was askin' for it" should be a valid trial defense and if you know the healing aspect of frozen peas you'll most likely enjoy this book as much as I did. Yes, there were some typos and errors. But, the book was so darned much fun to read that I didn't care. Much.

If you want to check out other "real women" who can't shop in the Junior section but walk through life with double chins held high and manage to take the world by the horns without caring whether the horns make their butt look big ... check out  Goodreads suggestions for other Fat Friendly Fiction for Curvy Women.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dances with Winnebagos

I actually came across The Dance of the Winnebagos while looking on Amazon for another book by Ann Charles to leave my review. (For what it's worth, I gave Nearly Departed in Deadwood four stars, for good writing, good character development, and creating a love interest that didn't make me feel like I should start weaving blue ribbons in my hair and waiting for the birds to start helping me dress. I plan to read more in the series soon, and expect only good things from them.)
Click HERE to order

I wanted something light to read after finishing The Hunger Games, and I chose Winnebagos to fill the bill. It did it beautifully. I cared about the characters. I found the old men charming (albeit a little cliche, but as I grow older I realize that truth is not only stranger than fiction, it actually is usually every bit as much a cliche!). The mystery portion had enough good clues to point me in the right direction, but enough twists to keep me intrigued. The love interest here too was handled well.

I admit I was disappointed when I read the sneak peak of the 2nd book in the series (again with the series! I was TOTALLY happy with this book when I thought it was a stand-alone book) and I'm not happy to see that the love story of this book appears to go the way of the dodo in the second book. If that is just a ploy to create a good story, I'm not going to be very happy. If it is a ploy to bring in a new love interest, I'll be even less happy. Like I said, I was perfectly satisfied to have this one be a stand-alone book.

NOTE: I found only one (and that one is a shocker, since highlighting errors in ebooks has become so commonplace that I don't even think about it any more) glaring error. That was the very common misuse of the term "pouring." Pitchers pour. Readers don't. You never "pour" over a book unless you want it to get wet! As I said, that's a common misuse and the fact that nothing else jumped out at me is a novelty! Kudos to the editor.

I have the rest of the Charles books waiting for me on my Kindle. I'll let you know if she can continue to keep charming me.

PS: Did I mention there was a dog? There was a dog. A beagle named Henry.

From the Amazon page:
Overview of DANCE OF THE WINNEBAGOS ...When Claire's grandfather and his army buddies converge in the Arizona desert to find new wives, it's her thankless job to keep them out of trouble with the opposite sex.

But when she finds a human leg bone and partners with a reluctant geotechnician to dig up secrets from the past, trouble finds her. If she doesn't stop digging, she could end up dead.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Grave Illusions

This book and the ones that follow were a very mixed bag for me. I loved the premise. I liked the characters. The writing was good and the plots were well-thought-out. I'm not sure why it all fell just a little bit flat...but the fact that I kept reading after the first one makes the series definitely worthy of a review. If these books were a little more tightly edited and perhaps a little more time taken to develop the characters before tossing them into a love knot, I think Canadian writer Lina Gardiner could cause Charlaine Harris at least a concerned look over her shoulder.
In my not-so-humble opinion, vampires and zombies have been done to death. It's hard to come up with fanged and rotting characters that I'm going to care about. So, again, the fact that I kept reading after the first book definitely gives it an extra star past the three stars that it already firmly deserves.
Click HERE to order
From the Amazon Kindle page for Grave Illusions:

New York City is in the grasp of a deadly, unseen enemy. At least unseen by normal society. Lieutenant Jess Vandermire, New York City police officer, is uniquely specialized to recognize and fight this threat. It’s her job to forge a black ops team, an assortment of men and women who wouldn’t be considered for the job under normal circumstances. But these aren’t normal circumstances. The team has to be tough and, if need be, expendable. Jess understands what she’s fighting and what’s at stake. For her, it’s all about retribution until ex-cop John Brittain is recruited to her team. Suddenly, her priorities aren’t quite so easily definable. John Brittain has a chip on his shoulder and is as tough as they come. But is he ready for the whole truth? That combating “super” vampires whose primal need for blood and the addictive drug “Sunshine” is only the beginning of their problems?

And when Jess tells him the truth about herself, will he stay and fight or will he turn against her and not only threaten their lives but destroy the fragile relationship developing between them?

Don't "Skip" Julie Smith!

With sixteen mystery titles now in print, it's safe to say that after years of hard work and dedication, Julie Smith is an overnight wonder. Her Skip Langdon series have been extremely well received since New Orleans Mourning  won an Edgar in 1991. I have read the first two novels in the Skip Langdon series and the rest are on my Amazon Wish List as well as the first one of the Talba Wallis series. I have found Smith's books so far to be very good reads, nicely-written with very few errors (the kind that are possibly as much formatting as typo/error).

These books aren't rocket science or literary greats...but they're not supposed to be. They are entertaining, fun and have enough of a puzzle to make them interesting but not so much so that you need a pen and paper to take notes. Although they follow the "cozy mystery formula" they definitely stake their own place on the bookshelves.

Skip Langdon is a bright, sexy (but insecure about her looks) six-foot-tall detective on the New Orleans Police Force. It's obvious that Ms. Smith knows what she's talking about when it comes to Louisiana and more specifically the city of New Orleans. One of the most realistic views of the city that I've ever read, not always complimentary, but always honest. (A year spent writing for the N.O. Times-Picayune newspaper certainly provided a good background for knowing the city inside out.)
Order your copy HERE
The first of the Skip Langdon series New Orleans Mourning has this description on its Amazon page:

It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and civic leader and socialite Chauncy St. Amant has been crowned Rex, King of Carnival. But his day of glory comes to an abrupt and bloody end when a parade-goer dressed as Dolly Parton guns him down. Is the killer his aimless, promiscuous daughter Marcelle? Homosexual, mistreated son Henry? Helpless, alcoholic wife Bitty? Or some unknown player? Turns out the king had enemies.

Enter resourceful heroine Skip Langdon, a rookie police officer and former debutante turned cynic of the Uptown crowd. Scouring the streets for clues, interviewing revelers and street people with names like Jo Jo, Hinky, and Cookie, and using her white glove contacts, the post-deb rebel cop encounters a tangled web of brooding clues and ancient secrets that could mean danger for her--and doom for the St. Amants.

Langdon, with her weight worries, insecurities, and yet overall toughness has long been a favorite of those who like their female sleuths bold, smart, and refreshingly human.

I waver between three and four stars on this series, leaning a little more towards the four. Some of the books have a few more errors than the others, but ALL are definitely a good read. If you enjoy southern mysteries or series writers such as Sue Grafton, Nevada Barr, Marcia Muller or Linda Barnes then you're sure to enjoy these. I'm looking forward to testing the waters on other of Smith's writings. If you beat me to it, be sure to let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Dirty Parts of the Bible

Another very nice surprise. When I opened the email from a friend suggesting I read The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode I admit one of my eyebrows raised a bit (I've been practicing that, it doesn't come naturally for me like it does for my husband). I was intrigued when I read the synopsis:

Click HERE to purchase
It's 1936, and Tobias Henry is stuck in the frozen hinterlands of Michigan. Tobias is obsessed with two things: God and girls.

Mostly girls, of course. But being a Baptist preacher's son, he can't escape God.

When his father is blinded in a bizarre accident (involving hard cider and bird droppings), Tobias must ride the rails to Texas to recover a long-hidden stash of money. Along the way, he's initiated into the hobo brotherhood by Craw, a ribald vagabond-philosopher. Obstacles arise in the form of a saucy prostitute, a flaming boxcar, and a man-eating catfish. But when he meets Sarah, a tough farm girl under a dark curse, he finds out that the greatest challenge of all is love.

This book was a semi-finalist for Amazon's "Breakthrough Novel Award" and rightfully so. I can't wait to read more from this author! With all of the religious discussions today entering even into our political arena, this was a refreshing glimpse of religion in days past (the 1930s) ...  as seen through the eyes of a young preacher's son as he reaches puberty.

The book deals with not only coming of age, but also religion, morality and love. I especially enjoyed the pholosophical discussions between Toby and Craw, the Negro hobo that Toby met when riding the rails looking for the family's cash stash. I was very surprised (and delighted) to read in the epilogue that the story was based on an ancient Jewish tale (that of Tobias and Sarah).

Don't be "put off" (or titillated) by the title. Expect a good storyline, a nice plot and a happy ending. And, seriously, what else can you ask of a book?!

Well, budder my butt...

Click HERE to purchase
When I purchased Cake Icing, Butt Budder & Tea Lids by Renee Andrews I was totally unprepared to be blown away. I somewhere got the impression that this was a collection of quaint little amusing Southern stories, something along the line of Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes (by Deborah Smith, Virginia Ellis, Sandra Chastain, etc...a cute easy-read book that gets a thumb's up from me.) Instead it was the unexpected saga of a young southern girl in an "unorthodox" family...growing up in the family bakery with her mother and aunt, all three of them believing they would find the "Right Man" eventually. And eventually they all three did. In very unexpected places.

From the pendulous icing covered breasts (anybody who can conjure up believable every-day characters with my predilection for being naked gets an extra star right off the bat) to the main character's surprise father I was enchanted. I just wish I knew where I could buy me some Butt Budder! I roll my eyes when people describe a book or a movie as "I laughed out loud, I cried" because I rarely do either. But, I have to say I got a little teary-eyed during the "Tea Lids" portion of the book. And while I didn't laugh out loud, I did smile through the first pages of this book and was still smiling when I finished. As I've said, I don't give many five stars these days, but when a book can really keep me engrossed and keep me smiling OR on the edge of my seat, I can forgive a few typos and formatting errors and focus on the writing and storyteling. Both of which in this case were excellent.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Too good to miss!

Click here to purchase
Since I am a "woman of size" or a "real woman" (as I tell myself when I look at the sticks with faces that grace many of our film screens and magazine pages) I am always happy when a woman who can't shop in the Juniors department gets top billing in a movie or book.

I admit my eyes were drawn to the book Too Big To Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian simply because of the title. The description on its Amazon site convinced me that it was a must-have purchase. I was right. And as soon as I turned the last page of Too Big To Miss, I was back at to purchase another "Odelia Grey mystery." Both books received four stars from me. Each did exactly what it was intended by the author to do...entertained me, puzzled me and made me feel like I'd made a new friend. I had first become acquainted with Ms. Jaffarian's work when I read one of her "Granny Apples" cozy mysteries (which also garnered four stars from me). I heartily suggest Ms. Jaffarian's work to anyone who likes cozy mysteries with a puzzle but not a lot of blood and guts and gore.

Too Big to Miss ... that's Odelia Grey. A never-married, middle-aged, plus-sized woman who makes no excuses for her weight, she's not super woman - just a mere mortal standing on the precipice of menopause, trying to cruise in an ill-fitting bra. She struggles with her relationships, her crazy family, and her crazier boss. And then there's her knack for being in close proximity to dead people . . . . When her close friend Sophie London commits suicide in front of an online web-cam by putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger, Odelia's life is changed forever. Sophie, a plus-sized activist and inspiration to imperfect women, is the last person anyone would ever have expected to end her own life. Suspecting foul play, Odelia is determined to get to the bottom of her friend's death. Odelia's search for the truth takes her from southern California strip malls to the world of live web-cam porn to the ritzy enclave of Corona del Ma.  

View a preview of this book online
View the full version of this book online

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Do Over

One thing you learn as you wade through the ocean of books written by indie authors is that not all writers are created equal. Not everyone who can string words together accurately or in a way so as to tell a story (and you'd be surprised at how many can't do both at the same time!) can consider themselves "writers." A good writer is someone who entertains. Someone who makes you see the scenes you read as if they were playing like a movie inside your head. An a-list writer makes you care about their characters; makes you think of them as friends. "People who write" can tell good stories and they can sometimes do so while still using their spell and grammar check. "Good writers" not only tell stories well but they make the language flow so smoothly that you forget that you're reading words on paper and get lost in the tale.

As much as I enjoy my old favorite authors, it's a joy to find a newly published writer that has that same rare ability to not only entertain...but to make real life disappear. I have chosen Kathy Dunnehoff's book "The Do Over" as the first on the long list of wonderful new writer's I've discovered since purchasing my Kindle.

From the description on its Kindle/Amazon page:
Just before her fortieth birthday, Mara Jane Mulligan, devoted wife and mother, runs out of bubble bath, and the ensuing panic attack drives her to Canada for more. She realizes that one foamy soak probably won't cure what ails her, so she takes a 30 day vacation from her life. (What woman doesn't need one of those?) Surely her family will understand. Her son's visiting Grandma, and maybe her husband won't even miss her. Unfortunately, her husband doesn't miss much and tracks her to Abundance, a Vancouver bubble bath company. As her 30 days sail by, Mara Jane Mulligan discovers she has a decision to make that even Dorothy couldn't avoid... Will she click her heels for home or kick them up for good?

I admit that the beginning of the book was slow. Or maybe I was. It took me a few minutes to feel Mara Jane's panic attack and realize that she was headed into crisis. A few pages in however and I was lost. I hated to put it down to sleep. I read while eating. And I didn't want it to end. I wasn't sure whether to go with my homemaker instincts and root for her somewhat less than understanding husband...or to go with my romantic side and hope that she fell hopelessly in love with the handsome stranger who makes her remember how tingles and dreams are supposed to feel.

I found this book very well-written, tightly edited and I found only a few typos and basic errors (probably the fault of cyber gremlins and not the author). When reading other reviews it's obvious that it's a "love it or hate it" kind of book with most reviewers giving either a four or five...or a one (with the majority being the high numbers giving it a final firm four stars). I almost laughed out loud at the reviewer who said that the "number of pages devoted to bubble bath is ridiculous." Obviously written by someone who doesn't get the whole idea of metaphors. "Bubble bath" became to Mara Jane Mulligan the Holy Grail. The one place she got to be herself. The one time that she was something other than her husband's wife and her son's mother. A time that she could relax and just "feel"...and didn't need to constantly remind herself to fill all of the roles that every good housewife must fill. Certainly the soap in the bottle was much more than just "bubble bath."

I gave The Do Over a very rare-for-me five stars. It is one of the very few books that I've read from new authors that I am fairly sure I will re-read someday. And I know I'll enjoy it then as much as I did the first time. I'm also looking forward to reading Kathy's other two books. I'll let you know if she's a one hit wonder (which I doubt) or whether she's definitely found her niche on the bookshelf of life.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Son of Series; Series: Part Deux; The Series Returns

Curses to the agent or publisher that first said the words out loud, "Readers love series!" Armed with those words and the sales reports from Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Janet Evanovich, Jim Butcher, Jim Patterson, and other top selling series-authors, an entire herd of indy authors flooded the e-market with legions of books all labeled as "part of a series".

I am thrilled now to read a book that can stand alone, on its own two adverbs, without feeling like every page I turn is just setting me up for the story that will come along in the next book. Or the one after that. Even worse are those authors that believe that cliff-hanger endings are necessary for keeping their names in their reader's wish lists. I have made it a point to delete those authors from my looming pile of Kindle books waiting to be read. One cliffhanger book and you're out. If I enjoy your work, I'll search for you and I'll purchase more. Try to FORCE me to keep reading your stuff and you go to the back of the line. No matter how intrigued I might be.

And, I don't need to know there are sixteen other books in the series awaiting me. There's no need to title everything you write with reminders. Especially if all of those books to follow are just in your head or laptop and this book is your debut title. Worse than the cliffhanger...and heaven forbid they occur in the same finishing a book and searching for the author only to find that follow up books are still "coming soon." I forever wrote off the author that had the 'coming soon' blurb cheerfully touted on his website alongside a date of almost a year ago.

I do enjoy several series and I applaud the authors who were able to come up with not only the clever marketing scheme but also characters and situations believable enough and likeable enough to keep readers drooling for the next title. The best part about the best of the best series is that each book could be read by someone who had never read earlier titles and the experience would still be just as enjoyable. Granted they're more fun read from 1-? but it's not necessary for enjoyment.

* * *

Sue Grafton was the first series author that really caught my eye. She has kept me entertained from the first page of A is for Alibi through the last page of V is for Vengence (at only 72 years of age, Sue has plenty of time to get through "W, X, Y and Z is for" books and get started out with...? AA is for Aardvark? Actually, Ms. Grafton has already publicly stated that Z will be the last letter, and will be titled "Z" is for Zero. I am not sure I will ever read that one. I'd rather always know that there is one "out there" waiting for me. I would hate to know that my long-time life with Kinsey has to come to an end.)

I wish I knew P.I. Kinsey Milhone in real life. We would be best friends I'm sure, with so much in common including our penchant for old Volkswagens (my favorite of her books was "G" is for Gumshoe, because it featured her battered VW on its cover) and our personality angsts. Ms. Grafton has that rare ability to combine good writing with just enough blood and guts and anxiety to keep both dedicated cozy mystery readers and thriller afficianodos happy.

True Grafton fans have been vindicated in their dedication by seeing "alphabet books" in prominent places in movies and on TV: In a Sopranos episode, Tony was reading "G" is for Gumshoe in Carmela's hospital room; A Grafton book-signing was center stage for an episode of The Office; "R" is for Riccochet and "S" Is For Silence are both mentioned by Gilmore Girls. Ben, the protagonist of the TV Reaper series insists that his ideal mate would have an interest in the Grafton novels. When he thinks he's found her, she proves it by telling him that she's reading "G" is for Gumshoe. The alphabet books have appeared on the Big Screen too...Professor Hilbert is reading "I" Is For Innocent during his shift as a lifeguard in the film Stranger Than Fiction.  Even Stieg Larsson was a Grafton fan as evidenced by his inclusion of a character who reads "a mystery by Sue Grafton." (Do you have other such "product placements" to add? Where else have you seen the alphabet books?)

All set in Santa Teresa, California with the main character Kinsey Millhone, PI. Grafton gives credit to another of my all-time favorite series authors John D. McDonald (whose titles referenced colors) for the idea of writing a series of books with a title theme. The idea for using the alphabet came while she was reading The Gashlycrumb Tinies, an alphabetical picture book of children who die by various means ... a satire focused on the fears of parenting.

  • "A" Is for Alibi (1982)
  • "B" Is for Burglar (1985)
  • "C" Is for Corpse (1986)
  • "D" Is for Deadbeat (1987)
  • "E" Is for Evidence (1988)
  • "F" Is for Fugitive (1989)
  • "G" Is for Gumshoe (1990)
  • "H" Is for Homicide (1991)
  • "I" Is for Innocent (1992)
  • "J" Is for Judgment (1993)
  • "K" Is for Killer (1994)
  • "L" Is for Lawless (1995)
  • "M" Is for Malice (1996)
  • "N" Is for Noose (1998)
  • "O" Is for Outlaw (1999)
  • "P" Is for Peril (2001)
  • "Q" Is for Quarry (2002)
  • "R" Is for Ricochet (2004)
  • "S" Is for Silence (2005)
  • "T" Is for Trespass (2007)
  • "U" Is for Undertow (2009)
  • "V" Is for Vengeance (2011)

  • If you're in the mood for a good mystery with great characters, good plots and story lines, believable situations and a nice mix of thrills and humor..."SRG" is for Start Reading Grafton! You can begin by clicking here for A is for Alibi (for the Kindle).

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Dr. Dolittle remembered

    Coming in a close second, a very close one, to the Oz books are the Dr. Dolittle series. I have been totally enthralled by all things Puddleby (the town that Dr. Dolittle calls "home") since I read the first one over four decades ago. The first collection of books I seriously tracked were older (including a first edition) copies of all of the titles. My desktop design and photography business is cheerfully labeled "DoLittle Designs." (Very fitting, since I "do little" with it quite a lot of the time)

    I really wish that the Eddie Murphy movies had never been filmed. They totally ruined the original idea of Dr. Dolittle (perfectly casted in the 1967 film version starring Rex Harrison) in the minds of anyone who hadn't read the books or seen the original movie yet. Dr. Dolittle was portrayed in the books as a man definitely ahead of his time. He walked that fine line between realizing that animals are sentient...and still not becoming a vegetarian. He was a pacifist, but when the time called for it, he had a deadly aim with a gun.

    The first book, The Story of Dr. Dolittle was introduced in 1920 and the last in the series (Dr. Dolittle's Puddleby Adventures) was published after Hugh Lofting's death, in 1952. All in all fourteen books featuring the loveable pudgy physician reached the shelves of hungry-minded children (and adults) around the world. They are as entertaining and interesting today as they were almost a hundred years ago. Truly timeless, no matter your age there's nothing quite like escaping into the world where two-headed Pushmi-Pullyus exist and a grumpy white duck named Dab-Dab has a job as the clinic receptionist for the amazing and amusing Dr. Dolittle.

    The books were actually published a bit out of chronological order but since each one stands alone, it doesn't really matter. (To keep things in order, read the 5th book after the first one)

    1) The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920)
    2) The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)
    3) Doctor Dolittle's Post Office -- (1923)
    4) Doctor Dolittle's Circus -- (1924)
    5) Doctor Dolittle's Zoo -- (1925)
    6) Doctor Dolittle's Caravan -- (1926)
    7) Doctor Dolittle's Garden -- (1927)
    8) Doctor Dolittle in the Moon -- (1928)
    9) Gub-Gub's Book, An Encyclopaedia of Food -- (1932)
    10) Doctor Dolittle's Return -- (1933)
    11) Doctor Dolittle's Birthday Book -- (1936)
    12) Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake -- (1948)
    13) Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary -- (1950)
    14) Doctor Dolittle's Puddleby Adventures -- (1952)

    To learn more about all things "Dolittle" check out The Puddleby Page.

    To order The Story of Dr. Dolittle free for your Kindle, click HERE.

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Somewhere Over the Rainbow

    There's nothing like an empty piece of paper or a computer screen with its accusatory cursor blinking away to make your mind go blank. It seemed like such a cool idea to begin an "opinions" blog about books I've read. But, when suddenly do the math and realize that you read about ten books a week and you've been alive a few decades...well, that quickly becomes a pretty daunting task. So, to get my groove going I'm going to start with my all-time favorite(s). And mix in a few of my current reads.

    Of course, any list of my favorites has to not only include but start off with....can you hear the drum roll in background....The Wizard of Oz series.
    Most people aren't even aware that there is indeed a series and for them the story stopped when the credits rolled at the end of the movie. But...Frank Baum's imagination was far too great to stop there. Prequels, sequels and stand-alones abounded over the years from the familiar Wonderful Wizard of Oz to the final page of Glinda of Oz. Glinda, in fact, was published after Mr. Baum died, and I think some of the wistfulness and darkness of this last book was likely due to a sudden glimpse of his own mortality. Along with the realization that there wasn't really an Oz after all and he wasn't going to get the chance to share the rest of his dreams and imaginings with more generations of children. For a complete list of his works (staggering in number as well as quality) and a biography of the man who created this delightful world to which children and adults can escape as easily in 2012 as in 1900 when they were first published, click here.

    Other titles in the series include:
    The Marvelous Land of Oz
    Ozma of Oz
    Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
    The Road to Oz
    The Emerald City of Oz
    The Patchwork Girl of Oz
    Tik-Tok of Oz
    The Scarecrow of Oz
    Rinkitink in Oz
    The Lost Princess of Oz
    The Tin Woodman of Oz
    The Magic of Oz

    In my opinion, every lesson to be learned, every dream to be dreamed and ever fantasy to be fullfilled was within the pages of these books. I have the entire set (far from first edition, but just as valuable to me) of Oz books, and I consider them one of my greatest assets. Not worth much on the open market, but whenever the real world gets a little TOO real, I know I can go where bluebirds fly over rainbows and troubles melt like lemondrops.

    Available now for the Kindle, the entire Oz collection can be purchased for ninety five cents. Certainly the bargain of a lifetime. Click Here to purchase from Amazon.