Thursday, April 28, 2011

ARC Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson

Not the most flattering picture of me, but I love that I'm standing next to one of my favorite authors.

I always look forward to a new Goldy adventure. This one didn't disappoint. For me it was a quick, engaging read.

After reading this book I was surprised at the number of negative reviews this book received.  Sometimes I wonder if I am reading the same book as others. But readers have different tastes and expectations, especially mystery readers.

This is why I liked the book:

Though the series often deals with very serious issues (domestic abuse, being just one example), the tone of the books, including this one, is generally light and the entertainment level is high. Over the years I've come to really like Goldy and her supporting characters.  Yes, sometimes I have to suspend disbelief when Goldy's police officer husband, reacts very calmly to some of the scrapes she gets involved in - and yes much of what Goldy does is rather unbelievable - not what you would expect of a real person. But unless, you are reading a police procedural or a P.I. novel, the characters, including law enforcement are not going to behave as real people would.

Ms. Davidson always includes enough twists and turns so that I find I have to work to solve the puzzle before Goldy. I like to be challenged. I also like that even though the puzzle may be challenging, the solution never seems to just come out of left field.

I will say that once Goldy finally got away from "The Jerk" and became more sure of herself, her character seemed to even out - as far as terms of growing. Gold is Goldy, but without giving anything away, it looks as though Davidson has some changes in store for our favorite caterer.

I do have to admit that Gold can be somewhat of a helicopter  mom when it comes to Arch, but she's getting better about giving him some freedom. In fact one of the criticisms I read about this book was that she gives him too much freedom. While all the danger was happening, Goldy didn't seem concerned that he was not at home, but always at friend's house.  As the mother of a teen who drives, I can appreciate that sometimes, even though you would prefer they be at home, you'll take knowing where there are over fighting with them about them not being home and not knowing where they are.  Goldy always seems to know where Arch is.

And of course, the recipes are always an added bonus. Over the years I've made several of her recipes. My favorite is a cookie recipe from The Main Corpse.  I tried to make Crunch Time cookies (she gave us a sample at the book signing), but I can't figure out what to do with the pecans after I've toasted them, chopped them and then set them aside. I thought perhaps since I was given an ARC from the Amazon Vine program, perhaps there was a misprint in the recipe.  I checked Harper Collins's website which has the recipe listed - and I still can't figure out what to do with the pecans. I've sent Ms. Davidson a message on Facebook. Hopefully, I'll find out soon. My family is looking forward to the cookies.

Speaking of this book being an ARC. When I went to the book signing at one of our local Barnes and Nobles here in Colorado Springs, I was a little embarrassed that I wasn't buying a book. Instead I was taking in an ARC to have signed. I usually make it a point to purchase at least one book at a book signing since the store went to all the trouble to host the author.  But my budget is tight since we have to pay a huge sum of money to have a school window broken by youngest teen.  If I were Goldy, I could just offer to cater a lunch or something. 

Turns out that Ms. Davidson was a little embarrassed that I had an ARC as well - not because she was expecting me to buy the book, but because the ARC had so many mistakes (I hadn't tried to make the cookies yet, so I didn't ask her about that.)  Embarrassed or not, I'm still very happy to have the signed ARC. I have a couple of other finished hard covers signed by her. She's an author I was try to see when they are in town.  But this ARC is special because it was sent to me to be reviewed. I'm not sure that makes sense to anyone but me - maybe I need one of Goldy's Espressos.

This review has turned into quite a ramble. In my humble opinion, this is an enjoyable book. If you like cozy mysteries, especially ones about food, you really must try these. I'm looking forward to what happens in the next one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle

Amazon Product Description

Murder is easy-on paper.

Book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright is attending the world- renowned Book Fair when her ex Kyle shows up with a bombshell. He has an original copy of a scandalous text that could change history-and humiliate the beloved British monarchy.

When Kyle turns up dead, the police are convinced Brooklyn's the culprit. But with an entire convention of suspects, Brooklyn's conducting her own investigation to find out if the motive for murder was a 200-year-old secret-or something much more personal. 

This is the second book in this series. It's a quick and enjoyable read. Just perfect for a lazy spring or summer afternoon of reading.  I was drawn to this series because it deals with books. I tend to enjoy almost any series with a book or literary theme.  This one revolves around the world of book binding and collectible books.

This is a well crafted cozy mystery. Though part of a series, it is easily readable without having read the first one. Though, reading Homicide in Hardcover will give you a better sense of the humor surrounding some of the characters in Brooklyn's life.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries and are looking for a light, quick read, you should give this book (and the series) a try.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ARC Review: The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Book Cover from Amazon

FTC Disclosure:  I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in the hopes that I would provide a review. I did not receive any compensation for my review.

Product Description from Amazon

In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery....
Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night--and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces. 

 This book did not have the passion and exciting pace that I normally find in young adult books. I've seen it listed in a few places as part of the series with The Prince of Mist. That might explain why I often felt as though I was missing a great deal of the story.  This book just didn't interest me. I had to force myself to finish and based on the reading habits of the teens that I provide Reader's Advisory for - I'm afraid they would feel the same way. 

Some of the "story telling" by characters was just too long. The author seemed to have spent more time just throwing in details without truly connecting them to the story.  The characters felt underdeveloped as well.  It was difficult to make a connection with the characters in order to care about what happened to them.

 I had considered reading The Prince of Mist in hopes that it would help me understand this story better.  However, my to read list is too long to add a book when it is questionable that it would be enjoyable to me or my patrons.

Giveaway: Addicted 2 Novels

Book Strings: Giveaway: Addicted 2 Novels: "Where: Addicted 2 Novels Whats up for grabs: Prize Pack 1- &nbsp..."

Book Strings posted about an AWESOME Giveway from Addicted to Novels. Click on the link to check it out and be sure to browse the blog while you are it.

Whats up for grabs: 
       Prize Pack 1-
                *Suddenly In The Depths of the Forest (arc)
                *Rip Tide (arc)
                *The Vespertine (arc)
                *The Dead-Tossed Waves (UK Ed. w/signed book plate)
                *Extraordinary (arc)
                *Across The Universe (w/signed bookplate)

               ***US Only***

      Prize Pack 2-
               *Abandon (arc)
               *Wrapped (arc)
               *The Lipstick Laws (arc)
               *See What I See (arc)
               *Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance
               *Purple Daze

               ***US Only***

$10 Book of Choice (US, CA and international):
*One person will win any YA book of their choice (up to $10) from the Book Depository.

Timeline: Now-May 7

Required: Follow Addicted 2 Novels  Fill out the form on their blog.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Book Cover from Amazon

Product Description

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

First, I have to say that Bow created a character that I cared about and a story that I wanted to follow to the end.  However, the book failed to live up to the story's potential.  I found the pacing of the story to be too slow.  The beginning spark of the story seemed to just die away. It was hard for me to finish this story.  I have a rule about life being too short to finish books you don't have to read. I stuck it out with this book because I did care about Kate and wanted to know how her story ended.

The ending was the best part of the book - not because it was the ending, but because I didn't see it coming. Though not a happy ending, it is one where the right things happen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - Book Club Read

Book Cover from Amaxon

Amazon Product Description

Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny. Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author's tale of gothic strangeness -- featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

This was a re-read for me. I first read this book shortly after it was published.  I enjoyed it immensely and was thrilled when my book club picked it for the April read.  This is certainly one book that I don't mind re-reading.

The Thirteenth Tale is a dark, gothic, rainy afternoon read.  And yes, it does have a certain creepy factor - somewhat reminiscent of  V. C. Andrews.  It is not a quick read - not a fast paced thriller, but I did find it to be a compelling read - hard to put down. Setterfield's prose is beautifully descriptive. The ending is wonderfully unpredictable!  If you enjoy books by the Bronte sisters, this a book for you.

I'm curious to hear what the members of my book club think.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Promise Me by Nancy Brinker - A Review

Promise Me : How A Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer by Nancy G. Brinker with Joni Rodgers

I received an ARC of this book through Amazon Vine.

Product Description from Amazon:

Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters. They were best friends, confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, not miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977; three agonizing years later, at thirty-six, she died.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen with an infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, plans for glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children and grandchildren.
Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister.
I promise, Suzy. . . .  Even if it takes the rest of my life.

Suzy’s death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among recent memoirs.

Nancy’s mission to change the way the world talked about and treated breast cancer took on added urgency when she was herself diagnosed with the disease in 1984, a terrifying chapter in her life that she had long feared. Unlike her sister, Nancy survived and went on to make Susan G. Komen for the Cure into the most influential health charity in the country and arguably the world. A pioneering force in cause-related marketing, SGK turned the pink ribbon into a symbol of hope everywhere. Each year, millions of people worldwide take part in SGK Race for the Cure events. And thanks to the more than $1.5 billion spent by SGK for cutting-edge research and community programs, a breast cancer diagnosis today is no longer a death sentence. In fact, in the time since Suzy’s death, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer has risen from 74 percent to 98 percent.

I had three reasons for reading this book. 
  1.  I’m currently going through treatment for breast cancer. I have another blog (In The Pink) about my experience and I'm reading as much material related to breast cancer as I can.
  2.  I’m a Zeta Alum.  The Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure is very important to our women’s fraternity.
  3. I received an ARC from the Amazon Vine review program – however this book was already on my to read list. Receiving it for review just moved it up to the top of the list.
One thing to keep in mind: if you are looking for an actual history of the Susan G. Koman Race For The Cure, then you should look elsewhere.  This book is about Nancy Brinker and what motivated her to launch an all out global movement to end breast cancer.  To understand the motivation and love behind the movement, you have to understand Nancy. This book does an excellent job in detailing what makes Nancy who she is and why finding an end to breast cancer is so paramount to her.

I found the book to be very inspirational, well written and hard to put down.  It’s not an easy read.  You might want to keep a box of tissues handy.  Even though I knew that her sister Susan died from breast cancer, I still found myself crying when I reached that point in the book.  I also found myself moved by the vignettes scattered throughout the book that detailed the battles others have fought.  The vignettes also included information on the history of breast cancer treatment.  I found them to be both horrifying and enlightening.  

There is a great deal of information included in this book. It is presented in an easily read manner with interesting details and insights into the main players.  If you enjoy memoirs or if you have any connection to breast cancer I highly recommend this book.

On a more personal note:  Until I was diagnosed with it, breast cancer was always something that I was vaguely aware of – I supported the awareness campaigns. I did my monthly self exams.  Yet, it was something that was just slightly outside my own life.  My diagnoses made it a big part of my life.  I always thought that the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure was a worthwhile organization.  After reading this book, I now realize that I may very well owe my life to Nancy Brinker and SGK. I’m a benefactor of early detection.   Their dedication over the years have pulled breast cancer from the far recesses of a dark closet, shown a light own on it and brought the fight out into the open.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wicked Awesome Books: Win the entire Mortal Instruments series SIGNED by...

Wicked Awesome Books: Win the entire Mortal Instruments series SIGNED by...: "Here it is. The super awesome, uber crazy, giveaway of WIN! One lucky person will win the entire MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series thus far: City of..."

I stopped by Wicked Awesome Books because of they are giving away the entire Mortal Instruments series. However, the real treat is the blog itself. You should check it out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

24 Hour Read-A-thon - April 9th

I came to the party late, but thought I'd give it a shot anyway.   I am up and ready to READ READ READ today - even though I'm feeling very groggy this morning. My doctor prescribed Ambien and I took it for the first time last night. I think I would rather just wake up tired (or just get up and read when I can't sleep) than wake up feeling fuzzy headed.

If  you want more info on the Read-A-Thon check out Dewey Read A Thon site.  I don't really have a game plan.  I have two books I'd like to finish The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for book club and a If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle.  There are plenty of other books waiting in the wings once these are finished.  (Now, let's hope a cup of coffee with sweep out the Ambien cobwebs and I can actually enjoy some good reading time.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: Matched by Ally Condi

Cover from Amazon (

In Cassia’s world “The Society” has created the perfect world.  There is no cancer, really no disease of any kind. There is little crime.  There is no drama.  Nothing is left to chance because there is no personal choice.  The Officials decide what everyone will eat, what jobs they will have and whom they will marry – and in some cases whether or not they will marry.  The Officials collect data on everyone (very Big Brotherish) and have determined the optimal (and likely) outcomes for everything.  No one is “burdened” with having to make a choice.  Cassia is perfectly happy with the way things are – at least in the beginning.  Everyone is safe.  She truly believes in The Society, until after her match banquet when she is matched with her best friend.  However, the following day when reviewing her  Match data card, she sees a different boy’s face pop up on the screen.  This unheard of mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path – one that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

I listened to this book on audio. It was a fabulous read. It reminded of one of my all time favorite books: Lois Lowry’s The Giver.   A comparison of the two would make an interesting school reading assignment.
Based on all the reviews I have read of this book, it appears this is one of those books that you either love or hate.  Some people think it’s too much live The Giver.  Others don’t like that Cassia doesn’t question enough.  Still others don’t like the pacing – it doesn’t have enough action.

I like the similarity to The Giver.  I found the pacing fits well with the story.

When the story first began I was struck by the fact that Cassia seems much younger than 17.  On reflection, that makes sense.  If you lived in a society that controlled everything you did, you might not mature as fast as you would in a society where you had to make choices, especially choices with consequences.
It is true there is not a great deal of action in this story.  If you like the thrill of The Hunger Games, this might not be the read for you.  This book is rather more introspective.  Condi has created likable characters that I want to learn more about.  There are many questions still to be answered. I found that to be part of the book’s charm.  The reader has the same questions that Cassia is only just beginning to ask herself.

I understand this is the first book in what will be a trilogy.  I’m looking forward to reading the other books.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

Have you seen this awesome RAK event hosted by Isalys and Vanessa over at Book ♥ Soulmates? I think it's a great idea and I can't wait to do a few RAK's for April!!

Here's the info, go to Book ♥ Soulmates if you'd like to sign up!

Rules from Book ♥ Soulmates
• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.

• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)

• Create a wish list and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}

• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address.

• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)

Let's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.
Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREE shipping!