Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Curveball by GW Kennedy

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Attica Books (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908002484
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908002488

Book Description

No gun. No mob connections. Just an encyclopaedic knowledge of the works of Charles Dickens and a mean pitching arm - can pitcher turned professor turned PI Ben Barklee save a senator's daughter from an out-of-control mob operator on Chicago's North Shore? Baseball pitcher turned English professor Ben Barklee now leads a quiet life teaching at Ridgehaven College, a.k.a. Dropout U, on Chicago's wealthy North Shore. When the rebellious Jane Macalester, daughter of a senator, enrols in his introductory Dickens class, Barklee has no idea that life is about to throw him a curveball. After Jane is kidnapped, Barklee becomes an accidental hero, saving her from her captors - but the college has another agenda, and he's dismissed, leaving him to support his family as a new-age PI, or 'Confidential Consultant'. Barklee will need every one of his new-found sleuthing skills when Jane disappears again and he discovers he's now become the target of a madman bent on vengeance, who hates the Senator and will happily remove anyone who gets in the way. With Jane's help and determination not to meet her end like a Dickensian woman, Barklee must succeed in outwitting and defeating the nasty characters chasing him through Chicago. But without a gun or mob connections, and with a suspicious cop longing to find something to charge him with, will his signature pitching skills be enough to save the day?

About the Author

 Born in Elmhurst, IL, G.W. Kennedy received a BA with honors in English from Rice University in Houston and attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for a year on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, receiving an MA . He completed his PhD in English at SUNY/Buffalo in the 1970s, writing a dissertation on Dickens’ novels, and was an English professor at the Chicago campus of the University of Illinois from 1972 to 1978, when he left academia to pursue a career in business writing and corporate communications. He has published short stories in several literary magazines, as well as a number of articles and essays, including two that appeared as Chicago Tribune “op-ed” pieces. His story “Skeets,” which appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, received an award for literary excellence from the Illinois Arts Council.

My Review

 New to me author G.W. Kennedy has written an intriguing mystery crime story, Curveball.  An ex ball player,  English professor and private investigator all in one.  Throw in Chicago mobsters and Dickens and you have a very interesting tale!  Kennedy has a sophisticated writing style that is a pleasure to read.  Lots of twists and turns to keep the heart racing.  Good story!

Newly released, be sure to pick up a copy of Curveball soon!  The ebook is priced right on Amazon at $4.99.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Original edition (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451684649
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451684643

Book Description

  FILE “M” FOR MURDER. . . .

Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London—a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she’s clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff—until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway . . . and entertain schemes for Dave’s untimely demise while crossing the pond.

After touching ground in the hallowed homeland of Christie, Sayers, and Peters, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she’s spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. That night, a B & B guest drops out of circulation—permanently. And when Dave and his cutie turn up in London, Karen realizes they are an assassin’s target. With the meticulous attention to detail that makes her a killer librarian, Karen sleuths her way through her own real-life mystery—in which library science meets the art of murder

About The Author

Mary Lou Kirwin has lived in France, Belgium, England, and New York City. She now lives a quiet life in the wilds of Minnesota and Wisconsin. She feels she owes a great deal to all the librarians in her life—for handing her the right book at the right time. 

My Review

A quick entertaining mystery perfect for a chilly night by the fire.  I love reading about London...such an incredible city. You empathize with the main character Karen Nash, a middle aged librarian whose boyfriend dumps her for a younger woman.  She decides to take the trip that they were going to take together by herself.  And she has a wonderful adventure and meets lots of interesting people.  I was particularly interested in reading about Hay-on-Wye in Wales, a lovely village packed with bookshops.  Cannot wait to visit there myself!

Entertaining chick lit mystery...good read.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce #5) by Alan Bradley

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385344031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385344036

Book Description

From award-winning author Alan Bradley comes the next cozy British mystery starring intrepid young sleuth Flavia de Luce, hailed by USA Today as “one of the most remarkable creations in recent literature.”

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.

Acclaim for Alan Bradley’s beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award
“Every Flavia de Luce novel is a reason to celebrate.”—USA Today

“Utterly beguiling.”—People (four stars), on The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

“Outstanding . . . [a] marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on A Red Herring Without Mustard

“Original, charming, devilishly creative.”—Bookreporter, on I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

About The Author

Alan Bradley is the internationally bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Winn Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring Without Mustard, and I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.

My Review

This series by author Alan Bradley is so well written and so imaginative I wish that it could go on forever.  I believe that Speaking From Among The Bones is the fifth of a six series collection of stories about Flavia de Luce and her fascinating family and friends.  Bradley makes the village of Bishop Lacey come alive in these novels.  Flavia's bicycle Gladys even has a character of her own.

We discover in this latest book that our precocious heroine Flavia is exactly like her dead mother Harriet according to her father.  She inherited her brilliance and her sense of adventure from her mother.  The lack of Harriet at Buckhall, the family's ancestral home, is the centre of these books.

The village of Bishop Lacey is in an uproar over the excavation of their saint's tomb, St. Tancred.  With Flavia in their midst at the opening of the tomb what do they discover but the body of their organist, Mr. Collicutt!  We know our young sleuth will not rest until the mystery is solved.  Between chemical experiments, the impending engagement of Feely and the possibility of losing Buckhead the story beautifully unfolds for the reader.  I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

Oh my goodness...what an ending...what a cliffhanger...I cannot wait until the next book!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Mad River (Virgil Flowers #6) by John Sandford

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399157700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157707

Book Description

 Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, and chips on their shoulders, and guns.

The first person they killed was a highway patrolman. The second was a woman during a robbery. Then, hell, why not keep on going? As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, some of it captured on the killers’ cell phones and sent to a local television station, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins the growing army of cops trying to run them down. But even he doesn’t realize what’s about to happen next.

About the Author

 JOHN SANDFORD is the author of twenty-two Prey novels, most recently Stolen Prey; the Virgil Flowers novels, most recently Shock Wave; and six other books. He lives in Minnesota.

My Review

Since discovering the Virgil Flowers crime series by John Sandford a few years ago, I can easily say that I look forward to each new book in the series with great anticipation.

Mad River is an excellent addition to the series.  Sandford has a great writing style and he portrays Flowers with such realism that you feel that you know him.  Minnesota is also realistically presented once again in Mad River.  It is a reality today that many young people are lost.  Good jobs are hard to come by.  It is easy for them to fall off the tracks and descend into a life of drugs and crime. 

The Bonnie and Clyde of Sandford's Mad River are Becky and Jimmy.  And their sidekick Tom who turns himself in but freely lies to everyone.Quite the group of characters that Flowers has to deal with as usual.  Loved the biblical references and how they worked with the conclusion of the tale.

Excellent contemporary crime story.  A pleasure to read.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cookbook Review: 4 Ingredients One Pot, One Bowl: Rediscover the Wonders of Simple, Home-Cooked Meals by Kim McCosker

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451678037
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451678031

Book Description

From a creator of the internationally bestselling 4 Ingredients series comes a new, must-have cookbook designed to bring joy and flavor back into the kitchen. 4 Ingredients One Pot, One Bowl is an ingenious collection of sweet and savory dishes full of fresh, easy-to-find ingredients that require only one pot and one bowl. That means less cleanup and more time enjoying life and delicious food with the friends and family you love.

In this book, you’ll find more than eighty recipes for tasty and deceptively simple casseroles, roasts, soups and stews, pizzas, pasta, pies, and desserts. Imagine Creamy Bacon & Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken, French Lamb Casserole, Apple Crumble, and Baked Rice Pudding—all using four or fewer ingredients. With One Pot, One Bowl, life just got easier… and a whole lot more delicious!

About The Author

 Kim McCosker is the author of Baby Bowl, 4 Ingredients Christmas, and, with Rachael Bermingham, 4 Ingredients and 4 Ingredients Gluten-Free. She lives in Queensland, Australia, with her family. Find out more at

My Review

Another cookbook in the 4 Ingredients series by Kim McCosker.  Each recipe has four (at the most) regular household ingredients and each recipe is accompanied by a lovely photo which I always appreciate.  It helps if you know what the finished product should look like!

The cookbook is divided into the following sections:

  • Breakfasts and Brunches
  • Snacks and Lunches
  • Slow Cookers and Casseroles
  • Pots and Pans
  • Roasts and Bakes
  • Soups and Stews
  • Pizza, Pies and Pasta
  • Sweet Treats
 There are some terrific recipes for main courses such as the Honey Baked Chicken and Garlic Cream Shrimp.  The Leek and Potato Soup recipe is one to try for sure!  All of the desserts sound amazing particularly the Key Lime Pie and Scones.  This cookbook is a wonderful addition to your cookbook collection!  Keep an eye out for it in February.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Hiss and Hers: An Agatha Raisin Mystery (Agatha Raisin #23) by M.C. Beaton

  • File Size: 330 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312616252
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00820TUYM

Book Description

 If only the bossy, beloved Agatha Raisin were as lucky at finding the right man as she is at catching killers in M. C. Beaton's New York Times bestselling mystery series

Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of everyone's favorite sleuth, M. C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin is as feisty as ever—armed with her famous wit and biting sense of humor. This time, though, there's some biting of a whole other sort going on. Agatha has fallen head over heels in love—again. This time, she has her eye on the local gardener, George Marston, but so do other women in their little Cotswold village. Shamelessly determined, Agatha will do anything to get her man—including footing the bill for a charity ball just for the chance to dance with him. And then George doesn't even show up. Only partly deterred, Agatha goes looking for him, and finds his dead body in a compost heap. Murder is definitely afoot, but this killer chose no ordinary weapon: A poisonous snake delivered the fatal strike.

Rising to the occasion, Agatha rallies her little detective agency to find the killer, only to learn that George had quite a complicated love life. But murderously complicated? Well, if she can't have George, at least Agatha can have the satisfaction of confronting the other women and solving the crime. With Hiss & Hers, once again, "M. C. Beaton has a foolproof plot for the village mystery" (The New York Times Book Review) in the irresistible adventures of the irrepressible Agatha.

About the Author

M. C. Beaton has won international acclaim for her bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries, and the BBC has aired twenty–four episodes based on the series. Also the author of the Agatha Raisin books, M. C. Beaton lives in a Cotswold cottage with her husband.

My Review

I just utterly and completely adore Agatha Raisin.  Always a treat to read the books in this series.  So thrilled that Agatha stays true to form in each novel.  All of the supporting players are along for the ride such as Mrs. Bloxby, Roy, James, Toni and her cats.  Of course Agatha is blindly chasing after another unsuitable character who manages to get offed in the first chapters of the book.  It is the usual madcap adventure as Agatha and her team stumble around solving the crime.  Lots of twists and turns and even some danger thrown in.  Love visiting Carsely with Agatha again and again.

Another winner from M.C. Beaton...cannot wait for the next one!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439152802
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439152805

Book Description

 1959 England. Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

About The Author

 Kate Morton, a native Australian, holds degrees in dramatic art and English literature. She lives with her family in Brisbane, Australia.

My Review

I have loved Kate Morton's books that I have read so far.  The Secret Keeper is definitely not my favorite of the lot.   It is well written but I found the story to be slow and predictable.  While I related to Laurel I did not relate to Dorothy at all. 

If you enjoy novels that take place during World War II London then you will probably enjoy the book.  I just found that it was missing the magic of Kate Morton's other books.  Perhaps I was expecting too much.

Kate Morton has a beautiful flowing writing style so the book is very enjoyable just not one of the best stories ever.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: Bad Little Falls (Mike Bowditch #3) by Paul Doiron

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312558481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312558482

Book Description

 Maine game warden Mike Bowditch has been sent into exile, transferred by his superiors to a remote outpost on the Canadian border. When a blizzard descends on the coast, Bowditch is called to the rustic cabin of a terrified couple. A raving and half-frozen man has appeared at their door, claiming his friend is lost in the storm.

But what starts as a rescue mission in the wilderness soon becomes a baffling murder investigation. The dead man is a notorious drug dealer, and state police detectives suspect it was his own friend who killed him. Bowditch isn’t so sure, but his vow not to interfere in the case is tested when he finds himself powerfully attracted to a beautiful woman with a dark past and a troubled young son. The boy seems to know something about what really happened in the blizzard, but he is keeping his secrets locked in a cryptic notebook, and Mike fears for the safety of the strange child.

Meanwhile, an anonymous tormentor has decided to make the new warden’s life a living hell. Alone and outgunned, Bowditch turns for assistance to his old friend, the legendary bush pilot Charley Stevens. But in this snowbound landscape -— where smugglers wage blood feuds by night -— help seems very far away indeed. If Bowditch is going to catch a killer, he must survive on his own wits and discover strength he never knew he possessed.

About the Author

 Paul Doiron is an award-winning journalist and the author of the Mike Bowditch series of crime novels, including The Poacher's Son, which won the the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, a Macavity Award, and a Thriller Award for Best First Novel, and the Maine Literary Award for "Best Fiction of 2010." PopMatters named it to its Best Fiction of 2010 list.

His second book in the Mike Bowditch series, Trespasser, won the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction, was an American Booksellers Association Indie Bestseller and has been called a "masterpiece of high-octane narrative" by Booklist.

My Review

 Paul Doiron is an amazing mystery author.  His writing style captures the reader from the first few words.  I love this series by Paul Doiron and I loved this book.  Doiron knows what makes people tick and he knows Maine.  Maine is so realistically represented in each of his novels.  Mike Bowditch becomes more human, more likeable, more fascinating with each novel.  You want to know what happens to Bowditch next. 

Excellent storytelling by Paul Doiron.  If you haven't been introduced to the Mike Bowditch series yet don't delay any longer.  Cannot wait for the next one!

Happy Thanksgiving Fellow Canadians!

Friday, October 5, 2012