Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Postcards from the Dead (A Scrapbooking Mystery #10) by Laura Childs

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425252752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425252758

Book Description

 New Orleans is in the throes of another fantastic Mardi Gras celebration when the party gets crashed by a murderer. Now a scrapbooking sleuth is going to have to stop the partying to catch the killer…

There’s a parade rolling through the historic French Quarter, with gigantic floats, silver beads, and dizzying lights—and Kimber Breeze of KBEZ-TV is broadcasting live from a small balcony on the fourth floor of the Hotel Tremain, interviewing locals and capturing the spectacle down below. Her next subject will be Carmela Bertrand, owner of Memory Mine scrapbooking shop. Carmela has never been a fan of Kimber, but she isn’t about to turn down the chance of good publicity for her shop.

But before Carmela’s shop gets its five minutes of fame, a killer slips onto the balcony and strangles Kimber with a cord, leaving her body dangling above the parade. Carmela is horrified, but she quickly discovers the nightmare isn’t over. Because someone is now leaving strange postcards at Carmela’s shop—signed by the dead Kimber. Now Carmela and her friend Ava will have to risk their own necks to find out who’s posing as a ghost—and to expose a killer…


About the Author

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries - set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She's also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn't rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries - a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans' spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

My Review

I have been a huge fan of Laura Childs for years.  I enjoy all of her series.  The Scrapbooking series is the series where I first discovered Laura's writing.  Postcards From the Dead is the latest book in the Scrapbooking series.

It's Mardi Gras again in New Orleans.  Carmela and her friend Ava are trying to hunt down the killer of tv reporter Kimber Breeze.  Carmela's detective beau would like it if she kept her nose out of police business however Carmela is not one to back down from a mystery.  There are quite a few twists and turns before  the killer is revealed.  Wonderful cozy mystery read.

At the end of the book, there are several scrapbooking tips and recipes.  The recipes all sound very delicious.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Footprints in the Sand: A Piper Donovan Mystery (Piper Donovan Mysteries) by Mary Jane Clark

  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (Jan 8 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers CA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089LONB4

Book Description

New York Times Bestselling Author
Plans for a romantic beach wedding are threatened when a bridesmaid goes missing and it falls to Piper Donovan to save the day in the third installment of Mary Jane Clark's enthralling Wedding Cake Mystery series

"Mary Jane Clark is a master at whipping up delicious nightmares for mystery fans…"-Associated Press

It's the dead of winter and struggling actress and wedding cake decorator Piper Donovan is thrilled to be in warm and romantic Sarasota, Florida, enjoying the powdery white beaches, soothing seas, and golden sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. She and her family are there to celebrate her beloved cousin's wedding. Not only is Piper creating the sugar sand dollar-festooned wedding cake, she's also the maid of honor.

But a cloud seems to hover over the whole affair. Shortly after a bridesmaid mysteriously disappears, a kindly neighbor's car is run off the road and a prospective witness, an innocent Amish teenager, is threatened to keep silent. Then a body is found on the wedding beach. With the nuptials threatened, it falls to Piper to unmask a killer. Could it be the wedding planner with something to hide? A doctor and his wife who collect unusual Japanese figurines? The best man, an ex-drug dealer with lecherous eyes and roving hands? What about her cousin's future stepfather-or even the bridegroom himself?

As Piper gets close to figuring out who's been covering his guilty footprints in the sand, the cunning killer has already set his sights on Piper as his next victim!

About the Author

 Mary Jane Clark worked at CBS News for nearly three decades. Her twelve KEY News media thrillers were inspired by that experience. Envisioning the Piper Donovan/Wedding Cake mystery series, Mary Jane enrolled in cake decorating classes and researched unique wedding locations. The daughter of an FBI agent and a mother who customized cakes for the neighborhood kids when she was growing up, Mary Jane has two grown children and splits her time between Florida and New Jersey. Currently, she is concocting her next novel.

My Review

 This is my first time reading Mary Jane Clark and I must say that I enjoyed this quick cozy mystery.  I appreciated the setting of Siesta Key and Sarasota Florida as I recently visited there.  It brought back wonderful memories of such a picturesque location. 

You do not need to have read the first two books in the Wedding Cake Mystery series to be able to dive straight into Footprints in the Sand.  At the beginning there seems to be an abundance of suspects in the murder of one of the bridesmaids. 

Great cozy mystery perfect for a cold winter's evening!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Bruno and the Carol Singers by Martin Walker

  • File Size: 1726 KB
  • Publisher: Knopf (December 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A9ET580

 Book Description

Martin Walker has created a delightful, internationally acclaimed series of mysteries featuring Bruno, chief of police of the small French village of St. Denis.

“A gentle reminder to slow down and smell the grapes” says The New York Times Book Review.

In this exclusive eBook, St. Denis is experiencing its coldest winter in years—bringing the promise of snow and shared chocolats chauds in the village’s cafés—and Bruno is occupied with his Christmastime duties. From organizing carolers to playing Father Christmas for the local schoolchildren, Bruno has his hands full . . . at least until some funds raised for charity go missing. Then it’s up to Bruno to save the day (and perhaps manage a Christmas miracle) in this charming holiday installment of Walker’s best-selling series.

About The Author

Walker has written several books including Waking Giant: Gorbachev and Perestroika, The Cold War: A History, Clinton: The President They Deserve and America Reborn.

He is also the author of the 'Bruno' detective series set in the Périgord region of France, where Walker has a holiday home. It is based on an unconventional village policeman, Benoit 'Bruno' Courreges, a gourmet cook and former soldier who was wounded on a peacekeeping mission in the Balkans, who never carries his official gun and has "long since lost the key to his handcuffs." The first, Bruno, Chief of Police, has been published in the UK (Quercus), Canada (HarperCollins), the USA (Knopf) and translated. The second in the series, The Dark Vineyard was published in July 2009. The third, 'The Black Diamond,' was published in July 2010. The fourth, 'The Crowded Grave,' is to be released in Europe on September 29, 2011.

The website is devoted to the Bruno novels.


My Review

The Bruno Chief of Police series by Martin Walker is an excellent one set in the Perigord region of France. Bruno and the Carol Singers is a short ebook that releases on December 18th just in time for Christmas.  While it is a short story it portrays France in Perigord at Christmastime in a realistic manner.  The story is quaint and heartwarming.  A lovely Christmas read.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsay

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 495 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0446576077
  • Publisher: Forever; Original edition (Sep 25 2012)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0076DD2B8

Book Description

 Dear Reader,
I've been wishing for a miracle for my oldest boy, Stone, and this Christmas my prayers might just be answered!

Her name is Lark, and she's here in Last Chance, looking into her father's past-and stirring up a whole mess of trouble without meaning to. As the chief of police, Stone sure has his hands full trying to keep up with her. Ever since his wife died, Stone's put everything into raising his daughters and dodging the Christ Church Ladies' Auxiliary matchmakers. And it's clear Lark has been through some trouble and could use a place to finally call home. I only hope Stone can let go of the past soon enough to keep her . . . Goodness, I need to stop talking and finish up Jane's highlights so we can make the town tree-lighting. You come back by because the Cut 'n' Curl's got hot rollers, free coffee, fresh-baked Christmas cookies-and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,
Ruby Rhodes

About the Author

Hope Ramsay grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you'll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. She's a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart and is married to a good ol' Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.

You can learn more at:
Twitter, @HopeRamsay. 

My Review

 This is a delightful cozy series.  I decided that I was in the mood for a light uplifting read and Last Chance Christmas filled that requirement. Like the other books in Hope Ramsay's Last Chance series, Last Chance Christmas is set in Last Chance, South Carolina.  A small southern down where old values and customs rule the day.  There is something interesting going out at the Golfing for God mini golf owned by the Rhodes family.  And it seems to involve angels.  And what better time for angels to appear than at Christmas.

 There is love, mystery and drama that keeps the story moving swiftly along.  Finally in the fourth book in the series everyone figures out that young Haley's Sorrowful Angel is the unhappy ghost of her deceased mother.  Her father Stone, the town police chief, needs to lay his past to rest so he can move on..perhaps with newly arrived Lark Chaikin who is in town to scatter her father's ashes.

This can also be a stand alone read but it's nice if you've read the previous three books.  Great light Christmas cozy read.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cookbook Review: Buddy's Best Cookies (from Baking with the Cake Boss and Cake Boss): 10 Delicious Cookie Recipes from the Cake Boss for the Holidays -- and Any Occasion! by Buddy Valastro

  • File Size: 1712 KB
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009CGE54U

Book Description

From Baking with the Cake Boss and Cake Boss: this collection of ten mouthwatering cookie recipes will bring the perfect amount of sweetness to any occasion.Buddy Valastro makes cookies that are as delicious as his famous cakes. With this collection of ten perfect cookie recipes—complete with hassle-free, easy-to-follow directions and beautiful photographs—you’ll find your favorite recipes. Here are classics, like Chocolate Chip Cookies, Biscotti, and Chocolate Brownie Clusters, and holiday treats, such as Icebox Christmas Cookies, Rugelach, and Linzer Tart cookies.

A perfect purchase for the holiday season, Buddy’s Best Cookies will send you straight to the kitchen to mix up your next batch of delicious, irresistible treats.

My Review

 Great little batch of holiday cookies! I love the biscotti recipe.  And there is a unique peanut butter cookie recipe that I am looking forward to trying.  As with Buddy's other mini cookbook about cupcakes, I found this much easier read on my Ipad using the Kindle app than on my Kindle.  The photos are in colour on an Ipad and a Kindle Fire so I find that more helpful.  Lovely taster of Buddy's recipes!

Cookbook Review: Buddy's Best Cupcakes & Little Cakes (from Baking with the Cake Boss): 10 Delicious Recipes--and Decorating Secrets--from the Cake Boss by Buddy Valastro

  • File Size: 1507 KB
  • Print Length: 60 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 6, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009CEOCR2

Book Description

 From Baking with the Cake Boss: a collection of ten delectable cupcake and little cake recipes, including a decorating guide for creating pretty, sweet treats!Cake Boss desserts are in high demand, with fans clamoring for more of Buddy Valastro’s delicious cupcakes and little cakes. This collection of recipes includes easy-to-follow instructions, along with mouthwatering recipes for butterfly pastries, beautifully decorated cupcakes, and charming Cassatini. Stunning photographs and a helpful decorating guide provide clear directions for making your treats even more appealing with an assortment of flowers, Christmas trees, and decorative flourishes.

Whether you’re looking to impress with your decorative flair or you just need a quick-and-easy reference for perfect buttercream frosting, Buddy’s winning recipes are here for your convenience and baking pleasure.

My Review

 Fabulous mini ebook containing cupcake recipes, icing recipes and when viewed on an Ipad in the Kindle app, full colour photos of the cupcake decorating techniques.

So if you want the recipes only, reading it on a normal kindle is fine.  However I definitely recommend reading  and using this cookbook with the Ipad or Kindle Fire.

Review: DK Illustrated Family Bible

  • Reading level: Ages 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: DK CHILDREN (February 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1465402500
  • ISBN-13: 978-1465402509

Book Description

Based on the New International Version edition of the Bible, the DK Illustrated Family Bible is a great story, gloriously told, and a special keepsake bible for families to cherish and revisit over the years.
Combining charmingly retold stories, including Noah's Ark, Samson and the Lion, the Birth of Jesus, the Tower of Babel, Preparing for Passover and more from the Old and New Testaments with enticing imagery and including original illustrations, artifacts, paintings, and photography, this book is perfect for reading alone or sharing at bedtime. With a short passage at the end of each key story explaining the meaning behind it, the DK Illustrated Family Bible encourages young readers and families to think and learn making for a wonderful and meaningful introduction to the greatest story ever told.

My Review

This is a stunning, gorgeous bible that is suitable for all ages.  Each page is beautifully illustrated and the bible text is presented in easy to understand language suitable for all ages.  There are photographs as well as famous painting depicting the verse as well as the regions where the stories are based.  There is an "Understanding the Story"  section for each story this illustrated book presents.  Excellent bible  for young and old alike.  This beautiful bible is available in February.

Review: The Forgotten (Puller #2) by David Baldacci

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition first Printing edition (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446573051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446573054

Book Description

In Paradise, nothing is what it seems...


Army Special Agent John Puller is the best there is. A combat veteran, Puller is the man the U.S. Army relies on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. Now he has a new case-but this time, the crime is personal: His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida.

A picture-perfect town on Florida's Gulf Coast, Paradise thrives on the wealthy tourists and retirees drawn to its gorgeous weather and beaches. The local police have ruled his aunt's death an unfortunate, tragic accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller's father, telling him that beneath its beautiful veneer, Paradise is not all it seems to be.

What Puller finds convinces him that his aunt's death was no accident . . . and that the palm trees and sandy beaches of Paradise may hide a conspiracy so shocking that some will go to unthinkable lengths to make sure the truth is never revealed.

About the Author

 David Baldacci was born in Virginia, in 1960, where he currently resides. He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Mr. Baldacci practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C., as both a trial and corporate attorney.
David Baldacci has published seventeen novels: Absolute Power, Total Control, The Winner, The Simple Truth, Saving Faith, Wish You Well, Last Man Standing, The Christmas Train, Split Second, Hour Game, The Camel Club, The Collectors, Simple Genius, Stone Cold, and The Whole Truth; and in his young adult series, Freddy and the French Fries: Fries Alive! and Freddy and the French Fries: The Adventures of Silas Finklebean. He has also published a novella for the Dutch entitled Office Hours, written for Holland's Year 2000 "Month of the Thriller." Baldacci authored a short story, "The Mighty Johns," as part of a mystery anthology published in 2002.

My Review

I'm loving this John Puller series by David Baldacci. In the second book of the series, The Forgotten, Puller who is still on leave after the events of the first book, heads down to Paradise, Florida to check on his aunt for his father.  A mysterious letter has arrived so Army Special Agent Puller is going to get to the bottom of things.  Upon his arrival he discovers that his aunt has died in what the local police are calling an accident.

That is not the only event that Puller finds suspicious.  And what did his aunt mean in her letter:  that people were not who they seamed?  Puller quickly realizes that there is deceit boiling under the surface in this seemingly idealistic retirement and vacation community on Florida's gulf coast.

To say that I had a hard time putting this book down is an understatement.  I was quickly pulled in with its riveting heart stopping action.  Excellent read that I highly recommend.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review: Blood Bond (Joe Bashir #1) by Sophie Littlefield

  • File Size: 703 KB
  • Publisher: Pocket Star (November 20, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008AK8D06

Book Description

 A fatal hazing accident thirteen years ago comes back to haunt the families involved in this first full-length novel featuring fan favorite detective Joe Bashir.

Sexy Pakistani-American Detective Joe Bashir is called to a crime scene in the wealthy foothills of California, where politically ambitious Bryce Engler's dinner party is ruined when a guest's body is found in a pool of blood. Two days later, Engler's beautiful wife Gail lies dead at the foot of a cliff on nearby Mount Diablo.

When Joe turns to Gail's sister Marva for insight into the family history, he discovers that thirteen years earlier, Gail was responsible for the hazing death of a fellow co-ed. Her then-boyfriend engineered a cover-up that deflected blame onto another girl. As Joe searches out everyone who might still hold a murderous grudge, he realizes there was more to the Engler marriage than meets the eye...

About The Author

 Sophie's first novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2009) has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Barry, and Crimespree awards, and won the Anthony Award and the RTBookReviews Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Mystery. Her novel AFTERTIME was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Horror award.

Sophie is also the author of:
A BAD DAY FOR PRETTY (Minotaur, 2010)
A BAD DAY FOR SCANDAL (Minotaur, 2011)
A BAD DAY FOR MERCY (Minotaur, June 2012)
BANISHED (Delacorte, 2010)
UNFORSAKEN (Delacorte, 2011)
HANGING BY A THREAD (Delacorte, October, 2012)
AFTERTIME (Harlequin Luna, 2011)
REBIRTH (Harlequin Luna, 2011)
HORIZON (Harlequin Luna, 2012)

Upcoming titles include:
BLOOD BOND (Pocket, November 2012)
GARDEN OF STONES (Harlequin MIRA, January 2013)

Sophie grew up in Missouri, attended Indiana University, and worked in technology before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She lives in Northern California.

My Review

Sophie Littlefield's "Bad Day" series featuring my favorite female bad ass, Stella Hardesty is fabulous.  Blood Bond is her first novel in a new series featuring Pakistani American police detective Joe Bashir.  I was wondering how a white female author would be able to portray a male Pakistani detective and I am glad to say that she does an amazing job!

Littlefield's writing gets better all the time.  This is a riveting novel.  The story feels fresh as we follow the struggles that Joe faces fitting in with the police world and with his family.   There were plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing...plenty of red herrings thrown in our path.  Brilliant plotting keeps the story moving forward at the perfect pace.

I immensely enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next Joe Bashir mystery!