Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tomb With a View by Casey Daniels

SUMMARY: Cemeteries come alive for amateur sleuth/reluctant medium Pepper Martin. Cleveland's Garden View Cemetery is hosting a James A. Garfield commemoration. For tour guide and reluctant medium Pepper Martin this means that's he'll surely be hearing from the dead president himself. And when she's assigned to help plan the event with know-it-all volunteer and Garfield fanatic Marjorie Klinker, she'll wish Marjorie were dead...too bad someone beats Pepper to it.

First line: If I knew Marjorie Klinker was going to get murdered, I might have been nicer to her. Well...Maybe.

My thoughts: I have really enjoyed this series. It has a cozy mystery feel along with being a lighthearted paranormal fantasy. Daniels has created a fun character in Pepper Martin who can talk to ghosts and has become a kind of private investigator for the undead. The question she has to find out this time is who killed Marjorie and there are several people on her list to check out. The President wants her to hurry up and get it over with as he is tired of all the goings on within his domain in the tomb. I enjoyed her interaction with the president and thought his role at the end of the book was great. The relationship developing between her and Quinn (a hot super cop) through these books didn't get far this time, but there is always the next book. There is a little light romance, a little action, identity theft, the stalker, humor, a little steam and lots of fun.

Quote: "I said she was a pain, I didn't say anyone wanted to kill her. Oh..." I thought about Gloria Henninger of the pink bathrobe and the dog. I thought about how Marjorie made Doris cry and almost leave a volunteer job she loved, and I thought about Ray, who wasn't smiling when he left Marjorie's house the other night. I thought about me. Oh yeah, I'd wanted to kill Marjorie plenty of times. This wasn't the proper occasion to admit it.

My rating:

about the book
preview the book
about the author

Books in the series:
*Tomb With A View, July 2010
A Pepper Martin Mystery #6
*Dead Man Talking, October 2009
Pepper Martin Mysteries, No. 5
*Night Of The Loving Dead, January 2009
Pepper Martin Mysteries, # 4)
*Tombs of Endearment, October 2007
Pepper Martin #3
*The Chick and the Dead, March 2007
Pepper Martin #2
*Don of the Dead, June 2006
Pepper Martin #1

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson

About the book: Bear is out looking for a snack, but when the sun sets he loses his way. How bear wants to go home! But where is his cozy cave? Bear searches and searches and as the skies grow dark, Bear feels scared! But bear is never alone, and his resourceful friends put together a search party to find their missing companion. A tale about friendship and feelings, this story will be sure to resonate strongly with children.

First line:
In the deep dark woods
by the Strawberry Vale,

a big bear lumbers
down a small, crooked trail.

My thoughts: Another great addition th Wilson's Bear series. This is one of my favorites. This can be used to explore feelings, friendship, being helpful and seasons. Again the rhyme is catchy and the repeated phrases beg the kids to participate in the reading. I love the illustrations. You and your kids will love it!

The friends bundle up
and begin to prepare.
They form a search party
for their lost friend Bear.

My Rating:


Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson

Product Description:
Bear is not feeling well at all; he is achy, sneezy, wheezy and sick and in no shape to go outside to play. Mole, Hare, Mouse and the rest of the gang try to make Bear feel as comfortable as possible in his cave. Under the care of his friends, Bear starts to get better but as soon as Bear is well, guess what happens? All of his friends get sick!

First line:
Alone in his cave
as the autumn wind blows,
Bear feels achy
with a stuffed-up nose.

My thoughts: I love the entire Bear series. The stories keep the kids attention, the illustrations are charming, the rhyme is fun. This particular book was a great jumping off spot for a health lesson. The discussions included hand washing and covering mouth when sneezing. After reading it we also discussed how family and friends can help one another. This book is great for the classroom and home. Your kids will love it!

My Rating:

Mouse queezes Bear tight.
He whispers in his ear,
"It'll be just fine.
Your friends are all here."

About the book
Look inside

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

About the book: The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins’ War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this extraordinary family drama to vivid life through its women – beginning with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

First Line: In the darkness of the forest the young knight could hear the splashing of the fountain long before he could see the glimmer of moonlight reflected on the still surface.

My thoughts: Wow! I absolutely loved this,the first book in The Cousins' War Series. I don't read much historical fiction but I do enjoy it. This one has me wanting to read more. I really don't know much about England and its Monarchy so I knew next to nothing about the Plantagenets before reading this. Having said that, you now know that I don't know the fact from the fiction as written here but I'm thinking: so what. I was fascinated by the story of THE WHITE QUEEN and am looking forward to reading THE RED QUEEN. Gregory fleshed out the characters. I found them to be smart, determined, and ruthless. I was rooting for them all the way. The book was so full of things: history, love, magic, war, suspense. Something here for everyone. If you haven't already read it do so!

My rating:

Quote: He is a usurper and a tyrant, my enemy and the son of my enemy, but I am far beyond loyalty to anyone but my sons and myself.

Blood Memories by Barb Hendee

Book Blurb: Eleisha Clevon has the face of a teen angel, but she is no angel. Unlike most vampires, she doesn’t like to kill, but self-preservation comes first.
When an old friend destroys himself by walking into sunlight right in front of her, Eleisha is shocked. And what she finds afterwards points to how very sick of his existence her friend had become—piling drained corpses in the basement and keeping records of other vampires’ real names and addresses. That’s a problem. Because now, there are policemen on the case: two very special humans with some gifts of their own. They know who Eleisha is, and, even more dangerous, what she is.

First line: I was with Edward the day he killed himself.

My thoughts: I was already a fan of Hendee's co-authored Noble Dead series about a dhampir. Blood Memories is the first book in The Vampire Memories series and is set in modern times. I thought the vampire lore unique. Eleisha was created to care for William and that is what she did for 100 years. She knew little of life and nothing of other vampires outside of Edward. I felt it was a sort of vampire coming of age story as I watched her learn and grow, become stronger. The flashbacks added a lot to the story as I learned about the characters pasts and about them as people. This story was short at 243 pages and moved right along. The ending, of course, left the story wide open for the next story in the series. If you like vampire stories you'll like this one.

As a child, Eleisha discovered that the most worthwhile talent a little bastard kitchen wench can achieve is invisibility. the less the cooks saw her, the safer and healthier she remained.

My rating:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tell Me Where It Hurts by Dr. Nick Trout

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s 2:47 a.m. when Dr. Nick Trout takes the phone call that starts another hectic day at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Sage, a ten-year old German shepherd, will die without emergency surgery for a serious stomach condition. Over the next twenty-four hours Dr. Trout fights for Sage’s life, battles disease in the operating room, unravels tricky diagnoses, reassures frantic pet parents, and reflects on the humor, heartache, and inspiration in his life as an animal surgeon. And he wants to take you along for the ride.…

From the front lines of modern medicine, Tell Me Where It Hurts is a fascinating insider portrait of a veterinarian, his furry patients, and the blend of old-fashioned instincts and cutting-edge technology that defines pet care in the twenty-first century. For anyone who’s ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your veterinarian’s office, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a vicarious journey through twenty-four intimate, eye-opening, heartrending hours at the premier Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.

You’ll also be inspired by the heartwarming stories of struggle and survival filling these pages. With a wry and winning tone, Dr. Trout offers up hilarious and delightful anecdotes about cuddly (or not-so-cuddly) pets and their variously zany, desperate, and demanding owners. In total, Tell Me Where It Hurts offers a fascinating portrait of the comedy and drama, complexities and rewards involved with loving and healing animals.

First line: It might seem strange, coming from an Englishman, but sometimes emergency surgery in the middle of the night can play out like a synopsis of a perfect reason for the Boston Red Sox.

My Thoughts: I have a soft spot for animals in general and dogs in particular so I thought I would enjoy this book. I did. In here you read about the hospital and learn about many of the high tech ideas available to vets today. Even better you meet some wonderful pet parents, learn their stories and care about them and their pets. Dr. Trout's evident love of his patients shined through.

Dr. Trout examines many of the issues facing vets and owners today including how much are you willing to pay & what is really best for the animal?

I found myself tearing up in several places and laughing in others. I did think that at times the humor fell flat, but all in all I enjoyed this book. I would like to get his next one.

My rating:

Quote: In a few seconds the Flynn family will be out of sight, but anyone who knows them can see the unnatural shift in their dynamic - baby on the hip, toddler in the carriage, Brian, in hand, walking by his Mom's side. Something is wrong with this new asymmetry. There is an empty space up front center, conspicuous, like an empty chair with a place setting at a family dinner table.

reader's guide

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

About the book: Boston P.I. Remy Chandler has many talents. He can will himself invisible, he can speak and understand any foreign language (including the language of animals), and if he listens carefully, he can hear thoughts.
Unusual, to say the least - for an ordinary man. But Remy is no ordinary man - he's an angel. Generations ago, he chose to renounce heaven and live on Earth. He's found a place among us ordinary humans; friendship, a job he's good at - and love.
Now he is being drawn into a case with strong ties to his angelic past. The Angel of Death has gone missing - and Remy's former colleagues have come to him for help. But what at first seems to be about tracing a missing person turns out to involve much more - a conspiracy that has as its goal the destruction of the human race.
And only Remy Chandler, formerly known as the angel Remiel, can stop it.

First Line: It was an unusually warn mid-September day in Boston.

My thoughts: This was a new take on urban fantasy for me. No vampires, withces or werewolves. In this series we have Remy Chandler, angel.

This story is fast-paced and action packed. It drew me in and kept me reading. Remy is a likable, interesting character who has to work hard to be human, struggling against his true self. His relationship with his dying wife is bittersweet. He loves her dearly but is now forced to pass her off as his mother at a nursing home. My favorite part is Marlowe, Remy's Labrador, with whom he can communicate.

I really liked this one and will read more in the series. In fact it may just turn into one of my very favorite UF series.

My rating:

Quote: Marlow didn't move.

Remy leaned in to the car. "What's wrong?"

"I go," Marlowe said, refusing to make eye contact with him.

"You can't come with me, pal. It's too dangerous."

"No," the dog said stubbornly, draping his head over the back of the seat.

"Listen," he finally said in his firmest tone. "I don't have time to fool around right now. It's very important that I get to where I'm going so I can take care of business and come back to get you." Marlow lifted his head to look hin in the eyes.

"When?" the dog asked. "As soon as I'm done," he explained. "I have to go and help Casey and her friend..... and then I'll come back. Okay?" The dog thought for a moment. "Must come back," Marlowe said, and Remy could sense genuine sadness emanating from the animal's words. "Pack gone. Just Marlowe. All alone."

the series
the author

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman

From School Library JournalIn this rhyming story, Pete, a turkey outsmarts the townsfolk of old-time Squawk Valley as they mask their quest for a Thanksgiving entr‚e with the premise of needing a feathered model for a themed arts-and-crafts fair. Angular cartoon people, done in watercolor and gouache, create turkey sculptures of potatoes, rope, oatmeal, and soap, as well as collages and portraits. This variety of presentation makes it easy for Pete to hide temporarily among the exhibits when the moment of truth arrives. The faint typeface is somewhat difficult to read and some alliterative lines ("We'll fill our fair with folks and fun") will twist a tongue during read-alouds. The final page showing a dozen turkeys at the beach is a real champion, capturing various comical expressions and activities.

Quote:"They make turkeys out of spuds, and out of clay and out of rope. They made turkeys out of oatmeal, and out of paper, out of soap."

My thoughts: I read this book to my second graders and they loved it as much as I did. The rhyme and meter is engaging and the story humorous. In fact it made me laugh out loud in a couple of places. The illustrations were great! If you have kids, get it. You won't regret it.

The book and activities

The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein

Description: In the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exquisite Temple of Dendur, a controversial new exhibit is fiercely opposed by many among the upper echelon of museum donors. Alex Cooper steps into this highly charged ring of power players only to make a much more troubling discovery -- a young museum researcher has been murdered, her body shipped to the Met in an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus. Together with cops Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, Alex must penetrate the realm of the city's cultural elite to find a killer intent on keeping some secrets buried for eternity.

First Line: I spent a long afternoon at the morgue.

My Thoughts: This is the 5th book of the Alex Cooper series but the first one I've read. I enjoyed exploring the hidden spaces of the American Museum of Natural History and learning more about it and its beginnings. The mystery was interesting, but maybe a little slow. the thriller part didn't kick in till better than half way through the book. Over all it was a fun quick read. I'll read more of these.

My Rating:

Quote: "It's in a diorama, in one of the display cases ont he main floor. It's - it' arm. a severed human arm."

New word: Beastiary - A bestiary, or Bestiarum vocabulum is a compendium of beasts. Bestiaries were made popular in the Middle Ages in illustrated volumes that described various animals, birds and even rocks. The natural history and illustration of each beast was usually accompanied by a moral lesson.


The Bone Vault
by Linda Fairstein
Hardcover: Jan 2003,
400 pages.
Paperback: Jan 2004,
528 pages.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Product Description: Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination. Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

First line: She didn't feel like wearing a garter tonight. Her gold-beaded dress, cascading in waves of crystalline fringe, covered the intersection between her sheer stockings and bare thigh.

My thoughts:
This book is an ARC that I received from B&N as part of their First Look Book Club. I was initially attracted to it because of the time period in which it takes place, the 1920s. I loved the cover as well, it is beautiful.
I am not much of a YA fan, or for that matter nor am I much of a romance fan, but wanted to give this one a try. The fact that the character's were 17 year olds jarred in my mind and clashed with their older adult actions. I've seen it written that this book is Flappers meet Gossip Girls. I loved the setting and the look into the world of flappers, speakeasys, gangsters and jazz.

The chapters of this book alternate between the stories of three teenaged girls: Gloria, a Chicago Socialite engaged to a man who loved only her money, Clara, Gloria's cousin, who is trying to escape her old life and reinvent herself, and Lorraine, Gloria's jealous best friend. The first part was a little hard for me to get into, but after that it it got better. My favorite character was Clara. It seemed to me that it was her story that held the book together. My least favorite was Bastian, the fiance.

If you are a YA fan you should love this one.

My Rating:
Quotes: Everything began to crystalize: She would help Marcus with his plan to break Clara's heart. Only, really, she would be working to make Marcus fall in love with her.

Jillian Larkin
About the book

Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

About the book: Side Jobs is an anthology book set in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series, an ongoing series about wizard detective Harry Dresden. It contains the following short stories:

*Restoration of Faith and Vignette - both originally published on
*Something Borrowed - originally published in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
*It's My Birthday Too - originally from Many Bloody Returns
*Heorot - originally from My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
*Day Off - originally from Blood Lite
*Backup: A Story of the Dresden Files
*The Warrior - originally from Mean Streets
Last Call - originally from Strange Brew
*Love Hurts - from the upcoming Songs of Love and Death: Tales of Star-Crossed Love
and a new novelette exclusive to the anthology:
*Aftermath - which takes place 45 minutes after Changes and is told from Karrin Murphy's point of view. She must help find a kidnapped werewolf.

First line: I choose to use the first line of one of the stories rather than the very first lint. This is from Heorot: I was sitting in my office, sorting through my bills, when Mac called and said, " I need your help." It was the first time I'd heard him use four whole words all together like that.

My thoughts: As a fan of the Dresden Files I could not wait to read this book of short stories. I was not disappointed, it was a great read all the way through. I don't read many short stories or buy many anthologies so all but one story were new to me. While reading any of Butcher's Dresden file books I love running upon little comedic gems of conversation or thought. Plenty of these were to be found here.

I liked that Butcher included a short commentary at the beginning of each story, so you learned what his thoughts or motivation were. You will find that he wrote several of them for themed anthologies, which made for fun reading but each story stands on its own.

If I had to choose a favorite story from this collection I guess it would be The Warrior which I feel is the most philosophical. If you are already a fan you'll love it. If not, don't start here, go get the first book in the series, Storm Front, and read it.

My Rating:

Quotes: Gard let out another banshee shriek as she went, a wordless cry of challenge to the grendelkin that declared her intent as clearly as any horde of phonemes: I am coming to kill you.

I half wished I'd woken up Molly. The kid is a natural at subtle stuff like veils. she can make you as invisible as Paris Hilton's ethical standards, and you can still see out with no more impediment than a pair of midly tinted sunglasses.

".....I've got the combination written down. Somewhere. On a napkin. I think." (Dresden)
"Does it hurt to be as suave as you, boss?" (Molly)
""It's agonizing."

Side Jobs
About the author
Author's blog

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry

From the back As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic, but now he wants the full story and asks his ex-boss, Stephanie Nelle, to secure the military files. What he learns stuns him: His father's sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica. But Malone isn't the only one after the truth.

Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are fighting for the fortune their mother has promised to whichever of them discovers what really became of their father-who died on the same submarine that Malone's father captained.

The sisters know something Malone doesn't: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne's tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans, as long ago as 1938. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in "the language of heaven," inscrutable conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and the ill-fated voyage of his father are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind.

In an effort to ensure that this explosive information never rises to the surface, Langford Ramsey, an ambitious navy admiral, has begun a brutal game of treachery, blackmail, and assassination. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters-one that leads them from an ancient German cathedral to a snowy French citadel to the unforgiving ice of Antarctica-he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father's death and the distinct possibility of his own.

First line:Cotton Malone hated enclosed spaces.

My Thoughts: I listened to this book and think I would have been better off reading it. There were many characters in different places around the world so I had a hard time keeping track of them. I have enjoyed the historical base of most of Berry's books that I have read my favorite being The Amber Room. I enjoyed this one as well, but not as much. I looked forward to finding the home of the lost civilization along with the characters. I would have liked it if Charlemagne had been explored more than he was. The action and mystery were good and pulled me along. I was disappointed that the CD didn't include the author's notes in which he separates the facts from the fiction in his story.

My rating:

Quote: Malone grabbed Christl and fled St. Michael's Chapel, rushing back into the outer polygon. He turned for the porch and the main entrance. More pops came from St. Michael's.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday Marine Corps

Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem. [Ronald Reagan, U.S. President; 1985]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin

From the Back: England, 1176. Beautiful, tranquil Glastonbury Abbey-according to legend the last resting place of King Arthur-has been burned almost to the ground. The arsonist remains at large, but the fire has uncovered two hidden skeletons, a man and a woman. The skeletons' height and age send rumors flying-could they be the bodies of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere?

King Henry II hopes so. Struggling to put down a rebellion in Wales, he wants definitive proof that the bones are Arthur's. If the Celtic rebels are sure that the Once and Future King will not be returning fro the dead to aid them, Henry can stamp out the rebellion for good. He calls on Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, to examine the bones.

Adelia and her household ride to Glastonbury, where the investigation into the abbey fire will be overseen by the Church authorities-in this case, the Bishop of St. Albans, father of Adelia's daughter. And as if the task of solving the mystery weren't daunting enough, an unexpected evil waits in the woods near Glastonbury...

The First Line: Thus wrote Brother Caradoc in Saint Michael's chapel on top of Glastonbury Tor, to which he'd scrambled, gasping and sobbing, so as to escape the devastation that God with His earthquake had wrought on everything below it.

My Thoughts: I have enjoyed all three books in this series of historic mysteries and I view them as a kind of medieval CIS. Grave Goods is Franklin's third novel to feature Adelia, a most unusual, compelling and sympathetic heroine. Franklin's novels contain compelling character studies, the characters are well fleshed out and I found myself caring about them. I love the fascinating, detailed glimpses into the medieval world these characters inhabit. Among the subjects touched on were: medecine of the time, monastic life, politics, legal customs and inheritance rules. The mystery was suspenseful, pulled me in and kept me turning pages. To make this one even better the legend and mystery of King Arthur was thrown into the mix. There was a little romance but it didn't overwhelm the story. If you like a good historical novel, give these a try. I'm off to find the next in the series.

My Rating:

Quotes: And Adelia realized that for once she need not command through Mansur; these men belonged to a level of society so low that its women had to work at jobs other than that of a wife in order for their families to survive, holding a place of their own as fellow laborers in the fields, as ale brewers, laundresses, market sellers, maybe even as thieves, bringing in money that earned them a position of their own. Only the upper classes, where ladies were dependent on their lords, could afford to regard women as inferior.
If he'd died in battle, it had been at the hand of a ferocious enemy; the skull was staved in, cracks radiating out from the hole like an egg tapped with a heavy spoon. Instant death. The ribs, the six ribs, had bcome flailed so that they had been broken and detached from the chest wall.
New Word: sangfroid - page 303 - Coolness and composure, especially in trying circumstances.