Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard

  • Author: Alan Bradley
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Feb 8 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385665865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385665865

From Goodreads:

Award-winning author Alan Bradley returns with another beguiling novel starring the insidiously clever and unflappable eleven-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce. The precocious chemist with a passion for poisons uncovers a fresh slew of misdeeds in the hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey—mysteries involving a missing tot, a fortune-teller, and a corpse in Flavia’s own backyard.

Flavia had asked the old Gypsy woman to tell her fortune, but never expected to stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer had abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? Had it something to do with the weird sect who met at the river to practice their secret rites? While still pondering the possibilities, Flavia stumbles upon another corpse—that of a notorious layabout who had been caught prowling about the de Luce’s drawing room.

Pedaling Gladys, her faithful bicycle, across the countryside in search of clues to both crimes, Flavia uncovers some odd new twists. Most intriguing is her introduction to an elegant artist with a very special object in her possession—a portrait that sheds light on the biggest mystery of all: Who is Flavia?

As the red herrings pile up, Flavia must sort through clues fishy and foul to untangle dark deeds and dangerous secrets.

My Review:

My mind was a whirl.  Heigh-ho! I thought.  What a jolly sport is the world of Flavia de Luce.
p. 152

Even Flavia de Luce knows what a wonderful world she inhabits.  I was completely delighted by the first book in this series: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  Totally mesmerized by the second book: The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag.  And once again I am completely enchanted by the wonderful Flavia in A Red Herring Without Mustard.

Alan Bradley's writing is amazing.  I know Flavia is only eleven years old but she is wise beyond her years and wickedly clever.  She lives in an crumbling manor house with her father, two scheming older sisters and the ever helpful Dogger.  The novel like its predecessors, is set in post World War II England.  This world is everything that is wonderful about England....small villages, the countryside and gypsies! The novel completely revolves around the wonderful Flavia, her thoughts and her incredible adventures.  She has such an inquisitive mind and is such a brave and daring young girl!  And she possesses a brilliant mind that devours chemistry.  There is even an abandoned chemical laboratory in their manor house where she concocts poisons to terrorize her sisters with and help her to solve the mysteries and deaths that somehow manage to show up at her doorstop! 

With each outing, I wonder more as to whether her mother Harriet has really died.  The sorrow over the death of Harriet sets the tone for the house and in particular for her father, who is there but not really there.  Flavia has had to learn how to survive without a mother all these years and you can feel the depths of this loss in A Red Herring Without Mustard.

I cannot wait for the next book in the series:  I Am Half-Sick of Shadows which will be released January 31, 2012. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Review: Blowback by Peter May


  • Author:  Peter May
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588437


Product Description


When France's top chef, Marc Fraysse, summoned the world's press to make a shattering announcement, rumors abounded that he was about to lose one of his three coveted Michelin stars.  Instead, on arrival at his remote restaurant on a volcanic plateau in central France, they were greeted with the news that the troubled genius had been murdered, and the message he intended to deliver was never made.  Seven years on, the identity of his killer also remains an enigma.

Enzo Macleod takes on his fifth cold case and delves into the big business and high stakes of French haute cuisine.  As winter sets in, and snow gathers along a volcanic horizon, he retraces long cold footsteps across a remote hilltop.  But unravelling the complex web of relationships that surrounded the brilliant and mercurial chef - a spurned lover, a jealous wife, an estranged brother, an embittered food critic--also leads to strange parallels with his own life.  And in opening up this celebrated cold case, he finds himself reopening old wounds from his past.

My Review

I was provided an ebook galley by Poisoned Pen Press through Net Galley for the purpose of this review. 

This is the first book that I have read in Peter May's series featuring Enzo Macleod.  I have been delightfully surprised by the excellent writing and excellent story.  Enzo Macleod who is a former forensic specialist and currently a university professor in Toulouse in France.  He is half Scottish and half Italian and has an interesting life filled with very complicated family connections!  His daughter Sophie, while undercover, assists him with this case.  

Why is a university professor working at solving a case you may ask.  Enzo is working through the seven unsolved mysteries in Roger Raffin's book "Les Assassins Caches".  Roger Raffin is a freelance investigative writer based in Paris whose book has embarrassed the police forces in France by outlining their failures.  The murder of Raffin's wife is the final chapter in the book.  Raffin is currently involved with Enzo's daughter Kirsty much to Enzo's dismay. Enzo is solving these mysteries based upon a wager.

Blowback is set in a lovely auberge, Chez Fraysse, which houses one of the world's most famous Michelin 3 star restaurants.  Marc Fraysse who was murdered seven years ago was the owner and chef of this amazing restaurant.  The novel contains many wonderful mouth watering descriptions of food and wine.  It is well written and a completely enjoyable read.  I would highly recommend this book and I plan on reading the initial four books in the series.

You can explore all of Enzo's Files here:

Great Giveaway: Bless Their Hearts Mom: Book Review and Giveaway: Light at Winter's End by...

Bless Their Hearts Mom: Book Review and Giveaway: Light at Winter's End by...: "Synopsis: Holly Fisher opens her door one day and finds her estranged sister Hannah standing there with a glassy look and her nine-month..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: Dead Lift

  • Author: Rachel Brady
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (December 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588123

Product Description

Single mom Emily Locke is building a new life with her daughter. Hoping to spend more time at home, she’s put her career on hold to work part-time for her private investigator friend, Richard Cole. It’s a nice balance between work and family until Emily finds out she’s been working for the attorney that defended her husband’s killer.
The discovery nearly destroys her friendship with Richard, but Emily resists abandoning his client, the socialite Claire Gaston, who awaits trial for the murder of a local plastic surgeon. The threat of losing her children to a self-serving ex-husband terrifies Claire more than the specter of a life behind bars. Sympathetic to a mother’s fears and unconvinced of Claire’s guilt, Emily resolves to stick with the case despite her growing concerns about Richard and the dubious attorney who hired him.
A mysterious note leads her into a daring undercover ruse at a high brow ladies health club.  Impervious to fashion trends, disinterested in beauty treatments, Emily fakes conformity with Houston’s elite debutantes and trophy wives in a surreal fitness subculture where things, and people, are seldom what they seem. At this gym, “killer workout” has a whole new meaning.

About the Author

Rachel Brady enjoys a career in biomedical engineering in addition to the time she spends writing mystery and suspense fiction. She lives outside of Houston, Texas, with her husband and their three children.

My Review
I was provided an ebook galley by Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

A fast, enjoyable read that has an interesting story and plausible characters. This is the second book in a series that began with Rachel Brady's fist novel, Final Approach.  I wish I had read Final Approach first because Dead Lift is full of spoilers in regard to the first novel.  I found the novel slightly confusing for the first few chapters but once I was settled into the story I was able to enjoy it.  All in all, the novel was well written and a good mystery!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: South Phoenix Rules

  • Author:  Jon Talton
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (December 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588147

Product Description

A handsome young New York professor comes to Phoenix to research his new book. But when he’s brutally murdered, police connect him to one of the world’s most deadly drug cartels. This shouldn’t be a case for historian-turned-deputy David Mapstone – except the victim has been dating David’s sister-in-law Robin and now she’s a target, too. David’s wife Lindsey is in Washington with an elite anti-cyber terror unit and she makes one demand of him: protect Robin.
This won’t be an easy job with the city police suspicious of Robin and trying to pressure her. With the sheriff’s office in turmoil, David is even more of an outsider. And the gangsters are able to outgun and outspend law enforcement. It doesn’t help that David and Lindsey’s long-distance marriage is under strain. But the danger is real and growing. To save Robin, David must leave his stack of historic crimes and plunge into the savage today world of smuggling – people, drugs, and guns – in Phoenix.
Arizona’s “History Shamus” returns in South Phoenix Rules.  It’s the most gripping and personal David Mapstone Mystery yet.

About the Author

Jon Talton is the author of eight novels, including the David Mapstone mysteries as well as The Pain Nurse. He has been an editor and columnist for the Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Rocky Mountain News, Charlotte Observer, and Arizona Republic. He lives in Seattle where he is economics columnist for the Seattle Times. Visit him at
My Review
I was provided an ebook galley by Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Another winner from Poisoned Pen Press! What an amazing story and I feel so enlightened in regard to the state of modern day Phoenix.  South Phoenix Rules presents Phoenix with a brutal realism that expertly depicts the  challenges that it faces today.  Phoenix is presented as soulless city that has been exploited during the real estate boom. However, now its reality is filled with home repossessions and lost jobs.  Talton does an amazing job of capturing the mood of the city.  And you can feel his loss as he despairs over what used to be before the carpetbaggers showed up.  In a sense it is similar to the loss of old Louisiana that James Lee Burke so eloquently portrays in the Dave Robichaux series.
I love that the main character David Mapstone is a historian with the sheriff's department in Phoenix.  What a cool job!  He gets to solve cold cases.  Love it!  David is also suffering a personal loss that is reflected in his dark moods.  His wife Lindsey has left town for a job with Homeland Security in D.C.  And she has left her sister behind with him.  It is the murder of his sister-in-law's boyfriend Jax Delgado that sets the story in motion.

And what a story it is.  In many ways the story was torn straight out of the headlines where daily we hear about the "Mexican Drug Wars" and Latino gangs in the Southwest US. And Talton proves time and time again that he knows Phoenix oh so well.  I don't want to give too much away so I'll conclude with highly recommending this wonderful Phoenix Noir crime fiction delight!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Big Wheat: A Tale of Bindlestiffs and Blood


  • Author:  Richard A. Thompson
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588222


From Amazon:

The summer of 1919 is over, and on the high prairie, a small army of men, women, and machines moves across the land, bringing in the wheat harvest.  Custom threshers, steam engineers, bindlestiffs, cooks, camp followers, and hobos join the tide.  Prosperous farmers proudly proclaim “Rain follows the plow,” meaning that the bounty of the land will never be exhausted.  Everywhere, people gleefully embrace the gospels of progress and greed.  The threshing season is on.

But there is also an evil upon the land.  A killer who calls himself the Windmill Man believes he has a holy calling to water the newly plucked earth with blood. For him, the moving harvest is a target-rich environment, an endless supply of ready victims.  He has been killing for years now and intends to kill for many more.  Who could stop him? Nobody even knew he existed.  Until now.

A young man named Charlie Krueger also follows the harvest.  Jilted by his childhood sweetheart and estranged from his drunkard father, he hopes to find a new life as a steam engineer.  But in a newly harvested field in the nearly black Dakota night, he has come upon a strange man digging a grave.  And in that moment, he has become the only person who can stop the evil, if he lives long enough. For the killer knows his name and his wanderings, and he, too, is now a target. When next they meet, one of them will have to die.

My Review:

I was provided an ebook galley by Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Excellent writing that captures your interest right from the start.  Fascinating characters to keep the plot rolling along.  It is a love story to an era that has been left behind in time and is lost from the memories of most.  An era where young men could hit the road and make an honest living in their search of a new life without being considered homeless or drifters.  It was a time when greed allowed men to farm a single crop and not think about the consequences that will soon rear its ugly head during the Depression.  A time when threshing parties were the highlight of the year when farmers actually got to visit with their neighbors. This is the world of the American Prairies in 1919. 

Charlie Krueger, his life previously filled with disappointment, unrequited love and family anguish, sets out to find work.  The Windmill Man, whose mindset is biblical in that he believes that blood sacrifices are required for good harvests.  It is the chance almost meeting of the two in the beginning of the novel that sets the stage for the story. Many of the mechanical details are right over my head but my lack of mechanical understanding does not take away from the story.  It is a lush story that allows the reader to feel the rural setting. 

Highly recommend this wonderful historical novel as both a great mystery and an ode to a lost period of Americana. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Desserts 4 Today

  • Author:  Abigail Johnson Dodge
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600852947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600852947

From Amazon:

Whether you’ve had a hard day at work, have been on the go all day, or are planning an impromptu get together for friends, nothing will end your day better than something sweet and satisfying. Thanks to baking expert Abigail Johnson Dodge, you can whip up a delicious dessert with just 4 ingredients in about half-hour. The recipes in Desserts 4 Today rely on simplicity--no outrageous ingredients, no difficult-to-master techniques, and no hours of prep work. Each of the 125 flavorful desserts uses pantry ingredients, is ready from start to finish in about 30 minutes, and provides flavor variations sure to please any palette and any craving. Desserts 4 Today enables cooks of all skill levels to effortlessly create delicious desserts.

My Review:

I was provided a copy of the ebook galley by Net Galley for the purposes of this review.

What a great concept.  All the recipes have only 4 ingredients.  It is a great idea and very timely as well...simple is good in our busy lives.   Lots of wonderful and simple ice cream / frozen dessert recipes.  I need to get the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer!  Mmmm...and I want a Raspberry Nectarine Fruit-Tini right now...have to wait for summer though so it's fresh! Oh my, Raspberry Peach Sugar Puffs.  The cookbook is beautifully laid out. A great section on add-ons and essentials is included at the end of the book. Another cookbook that I want for myself now that I've reviewed the galley!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Three Boys and an Old lady: Welcome to Last Chance Giveaway [Ends 2/25]

Three Boys and an Old lady: Welcome to Last Chance Giveaway [Ends 2/25]: "Dear Reader, Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here. I've owned the Cut 'n' C..."

Review: Among The Departed by Vicki Delany

From The Author's Website:

May 3, 2011: Among the Departed.
Fifteen years ago a young girl by the name of Moonlight Smith went to her best friend Nicky Nowak’s house for a sleepover. Moonlight joined the family for breakfast the following morning and was then picked up by her mother. Shortly after, Mr. Nowak went for a walk.
He was never seen again.
It is now autumn in the mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia. A police dog is called out to help in the search for a child lost in the wilderness. The dog uncovers something else: human remains.
When Sergeant John Winters reopens the investigation he finds a shattered family and townsfolk desperate to keep their secrets.   As the investigation into the life and disappearance of Brian Nowak grows, old secrets are brought to light and new ones struggle to remain hidden.
Among the Departed is much more than a mystery novel: it is also a story of love – new and old, long-concealed, life-affirming and fatal.
Pre-Order your copy at , , , or your favourite independent bookseller. Among the Departed will be available in trade paperback, hard cover, large print, audio and most electronic formats.
Read the first chapter: Click Here

My Review

I was provided with an ebook preview galley from The Poisoned Pen Press through Net Galley.

I was thrilled to be transported once again to the lovely Kootenay town of Trafalgar in beautiful British Columbia through another delightful story in the Smith and Winters series by Vicki Delany.  With each book in the series, I become more attached to her wonderful characters.  I had a hard time putting the story down as her plot kept me guessing as to what was going to happen next!  Highly recommend this book as well as the entire series.  Keep them coming Vicki, they are so enjoyable to read!

Rock The Red Pump Day

Excellent Cause!

Every year, the United States recognizes March 10th as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). It’s a nationwide initiative to raise awareness about the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women & girls and encourages ladies to take action. While progress has definitely been made in the areas of AIDS prevention and treatment, women still represent 27% of all new AIDS diagnoses, with African-American women accounting for 66% of that group. This year focuses on this statistic, “Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Giveaway Link: MC Beaton's Death of a Chimney Sweep

 Sweeps4Bloggers is offering a giveaway for a book by one of my favorite author's: M.C. Beaton.  Click on the link above for the giveaway details.

Death of a Chimney Sweep
A Hamish Macbeth Mystery
by M.C. Beaton

isbn 978-0446547390
Pub. date 2/25/11
Description: In the south of Scotland, residents get their chimneys vacuum-cleaned. But in the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager’s fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn’t believe that the affable chimney sweep is capable of committing murder.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bless Their Hearts Mom: Book Review and Giveaway: Amaryllis in Blueberry b...

Bless Their Hearts Mom: Book Review and Giveaway: Amaryllis in Blueberry b...: "Synopsis: Meet Dick, Seena, and their four Marys: Mary Catherine, Mary Grace, Mary Tessa, and their youngest aMARYillis. Seena ..."

Bless Their Hearts Mom: History Corner: Book Review and Giveaway (with BON...

Bless Their Hearts Mom: History Corner: Book Review and Giveaway (with BON...: "When I first started this blog, Michelle was one of the first 'official' book giveaways I had- her Cleopatra's Daughter signed edition gi..."

Giveaway Link: Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut On Bookin With Bingo

Sounds like an absolutely hilarious book!



Demonstrating Woody Allen's magical math equation, comedy = tragedy + time, a sensational collection of witty essays about life, love, hate, kids, work, school, and more from the author of The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund and Arm Candy.
Jill Kargman is a mother, wife, and writer living the life in New York City . . . a life that includes camping out in a one-bedroom apartment with some unfortunate (and furry) roommates, battling the Momzillas of Manhattan, and coming to terms with her desire for gay men. In this entertaining collection of observations, Kargman offers her unique, wickedly funny perspective as she zips around Manhattan with three kids in tow.

Kargman tackles issues big and small with sharp wit and laugh-out-loud humor: her love of the smell of gasoline, her new names for nail polishes, her adventures in New York City real estate, and her fear of mimes, clowns, and other haunting things. Whether it's surviving a family road trip or why she can't stand Cirque du So Lame, living with a mommy vagina the size of the Holland Tunnel or surviving the hell that was her first job out of college, Kargman's nutty self triumphs, thanks to a wonderfully wise outlook and sense of fun that makes the best of everything that gets thrown her way. And if that's not enough, Kargman illustrates her reflections with doodles that capture her refreshing voice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Giveaway: It’s Giveaway Time Again At The Pilot’s Wife

From The Pilot`s Wife Web Site:
One of my lucky readers will receive two 16oz Mia Bella Gourmet Candles, Three Burrito Bucks Card from Chipotle! And a special from my sponsoring blog Papercuties! A valentine just for you, 4 Valentine’s Tags, A Beautiful Valentine Paper Craft Heart Pouch Filled with Chocolate, and a wonderful Handmade Paper Valentine Box with a Mia Bella Votive in it!

The giveaway will close Febuary 13th and the winner announced on Valentines Day!!! Read through this blog post to find out how you can enter to win!

(US and Canada residents only)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: Beat This! Cookbook

  •  Author:  Ann Hodgman
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Revised edition (Mar 9 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547437005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547437002
From Net Galley:
Do you think you have the absolute best recipe for apple pie? Maybe your neighbor claims to make the best meatloaf around. Did your Italian grandmother serve the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Atlantic? Well, unless you or that neighbor or your grandmother is Ann Hodgman, you're wrong!
The book that the editor in chief of Vanity Fair called "the funniest, most engaging book about food I've ever come across" has now been revised and updated: more than half the recipes are completely new, and many of the originals have been "oomphed up" to make them even more shamelessly delicious.

Beat This! Cookbook contains more than a hundred all-time favorites, from Burnt Sugar Ice Cream and White Chocolate Raspberry Pie to Chili-Cheese Casserole and Onion Rings. Each one is guaranteed to make people take a bite, stagger with joy, and beg you for the recipe.

My Review:

I am reviewing the Advanced Uncorrected Proof online galley from Net Galley.

I am quite thrilled to have discovered this cookbook. Not only is it filled with practical and delicious sounding recipes, it is filled with humour as well!!  Strawberry Gelato...they know the way to my heart! I learned how to say strawberry in three languages in Europe so I could order strawberry gelato everywhere we went.  And Buttercrunch...I had never even thought of making my own buttercrunch...think I'll make some for my husband for Valentine's Day. This book is a keeper. Definitely going to preorder a copy from Amazon.

Review: Plum Gorgeous


  • Author:  Romney Steele
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (July 19 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449402402
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449402402


Product Description from Amazon

Inside Plum Gorgeous, Romney "Nani" Steele follows her successful cookbook-memoir My Nepenthe with 60 seasonally inspired recipes that celebrate the "romance of fruit." Capturing the essence, beauty, and deliciousness of cooking with seasonal fruits, Steele offers simple and seductive recipes that intertwine with the seasons in which each fruit is harvested.

Savory recipes like Coriander Steak with Blackberry Vinaigrette and Kumquat Couscous Salad with Fried Haloumi Cheese are presented alongside sweet treats like Passionfruit Chocolate Truffles and Plum Soup with Basil Ice Cream. Interspersed throughout Plum Gorgeous are beautiful, full-color photographs by Sara Remington and reminiscences from the year that Steele spent living in an orchard in Big Sur, along with fruit lore and select notes on handling and preserving fruit.

In an accessible but imaginative way, Plum Gorgeous beautifully reveals the many layers and flavor profiles of fruit while celebrating the memories inspired by each season's beauty and bounty. 

My Review:
What a beautiful cookbook!  Beautiful photos and recipes! It is subtitled recipes and memories from the orchard.  This beautiful book is divided into four sections: citrus, berries, plums and harvest recipes.  It is filled with delightful recipes, for example, the September Salad filled with melon, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and figs topped with a sherry based dressing...yummy!!!  Fresh peach can feel the sunshine just hearing the name of the recipe.  Herb Roasted Salmon with a wild huckleberry!  I can feel the freshness of the fruits in each recipe! Not out until July but this book is worth waiting for.

I was provided an electronic galley through Net Galley in order to preview this book.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Giveaway Link: Dreaming In English

Review & Giveaway: "Dreaming in English" by Laura Fitzgerald

Dreaming in English picks up where Laura Fitzgerald's debut novel Veil of Roses left off. Tamila Soroush came to America from Iran to find a husband. There were no opportunities in Iran and the lure of America, where her sister was living already, was too much for her to ignore. Following a whirlwind courtship and a last-minute marriage to Ike Hanson, Tamila is ready to embrace America with open arms.

Unfortunately, it won't be that easy. Ike's family is shocked at his sudden decision and is less than welcoming to her. Tamila's former American boyfriends keep surfacing, and not all of them wish her well in her new marriage. Ike's ex-girlfriend, and apparently the previous love of his life, has resurfaced and is intent on making Tamila's new marriage miserable. With her immigration interview looming and all of these obstacles in her way, will her luck run out?

Dreaming in English was an incredibly interesting novel. I especially enjoyed Tamila's reflections on freedom and what it meant to her to be able to become an American citizen. We so often take our freedom and privileges for granted, and it was interesting to be presented with an additional perspective. As Tamila attempts to learn English and to immerse herself in the American culture that surrounds her, we as readers can almost feel how much this means to her.

I also appreciated that this was a commentary on marriage. Anyone can walk into a chapel in Vegas and get married, but Dreaming in English reflects on what it means to keep a new marriage together. I've long felt that the strongest marriages are the ones where the couple works through their misunderstandings and differences in order to come to a better understanding of one another and of themselves. This book examines this issue.

My only complaint would be that I found the ending to be a bit overdramatic, but that did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel. On the whole I found it to be well-written and enjoyable, filled with characters that I really came to care about.

Contest Link: Tick Tock Audiobook on Booking with Bingo


NYC's #1 detective, Michael Bennett, has a huge problem--the Son of Sam, the Werewolf of Wisteria and the Mad Bomber are all back. The city has never been more terrified!

Tick--a killer's countdown begins
A rash of horrifying crimes tears through the city, throwing it into complete chaos and terrorizing everyone living there. Immediately, it becomes clear that they are not the work of an amateur, but of a calculating, efficient, and deadly mastermind.
Tick--Michael Bennett is on the chase

The city calls on Detective Michael Bennett, pulling him away from a seaside retreat with his ten adopted children, his grandfather, and their beloved nanny, Mary Catherine. Not only does it tear apart their vacation, it leaves the entire family open to attack.
Tock--your time is up

Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague, FBI Agent Emily Parker. As his affection for Emily grows into something stronger, his relationship with Mary Catherine takes an unexpected turn. All too soon, another appalling crime leads Bennett to a shocking discovery that exposes the killer's pattern and the earth-shattering enormity of his plan. From the creator of the #1 New York detective series comes the most volatile and most explosive Michael Bennett novel ever.

Review: No Mercy and Mercy Kill by Lori Armstrong

No Mercy

from author's website: 

Mercy Gunderson is a straight shooter with a hard edge. On medical leave from the Army, she returns home to South Dakota, which isn’t much safer for her than Iraq. Arriving just after the death of her father, it is up to Mercy to decide what to do with the family ranch. Trying to deal with her irresponsible sister and nephew and feeling guilty that she didn’t make it home soon enough to see her father one last time; Mercy is suddenly pulled into the local community when the body of a Native American boy is found on her land. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it, especially not the local law enforcement.

When tragedy strikes again, Mercy is ready to throw all her energy into her own investigation, and she’s out for revenge. As she digs up the truth behind the shocking crimes, Mercy uncovers dark and dangerous secrets and must race to stop a killer before everything she’s fought for is destroyed forever.

Mercy Kill

from author's website:
Former Black Ops Army sniper, Mercy Gunderson isn’t adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family’s ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy’s former Army buddy to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley’s presence riles the landowners and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley’s brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for re-election than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley’s killer—even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county’s dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.

My Review

I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered a new-to-me author Lori Armstrong.  Her novels are set in her home state of South Dakota which is a beautiful diverse sparsely populated area.  Both novels featuring ex-army sniper Mercy Gunderson are action-packed and incredibly enjoyable to read. The rural Rapid City outskirts, South Dakota setting is very familiar to me as I've visited the area several times...both when Rapid City and the Sturgis area are filled with hundred of thousands of bikers and when it is quite a bit quieter! I've even been charged by a buffalo in Custer State Park while on the back of our HD so it's a pretty unforgettable area for me.  I've been to Wounded Knee as well as the surrounding reservation towns that play a large role in Armstrong's novels.  If you are like me and you enjoy mysteries by William Kent Krueger and C.J. Box, you will love No Mercy and Mercy Kill.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Marcia Hoehne: February Book Giveaway

Marcia Hoehne: February Book Giveaway: "The ALA awards loved historical fiction this year! I find it delightful and amazing that historical novels swept the Newbery category, and i..."