ON AGATE HILL by Lee Smith

Read : June 24 - 28
Category : New Writers
Pages : 621

This book, set after the Civil War, is the life story of a woman, telling of the losses of her lifetime.

The premise is the finding, by a student, of the diaries and letters of a woman in a secret room in Agate Hill Plantation. As a child after her family is lost, Molly is taken in at Agate Hill, a plantation owned by her Uncle Junius and Aunt Fanny. After adjusting to her new environment under the care of her Aunt Fanny, Molly loses Aunt Fanny in childbirth. Her uncle becomes despondent and lets the plantation become rundown. Uncle Junius' sister comes to help with the running of the house bringing her granddaughter who becomes Molly's first and dearest friend. This friendship is the basis of the letters that are used as the narrative after Molly goes off to a girl's school.

The narrative continues with her travels to the opening a school in the Appalachian mountains, through her marriage, the death of children and husband, the coroner's trial, and her return to Agate Hill.

This book was interesting but I think it was a bit too long. It was disjointed in the section of Molly's original stay in Agate Hill. I think that it was unnecessary to have the student continually interrupting the storyline.



Read : June 21 - 27
Category : New Writers
Pages : 328

Have you ever heard of the study of happiness? I know that I hadn't until I read this book, I understand now, how addictive it could be to try and find a happy place, if, of course, I wasn't already happy and had an expense account to fund it.
This book gives statistics of happiness arrived at through vast research, for example:
Extroverts are happier than introverts;
optimists are happier than pessimists(who would have thunk?);
married people are happier than singles, though people with children are no happier than childless couples;
Republicans are happier than Democrats;
wealthy people are happier than poor ones; (do the last two go together?)
people with an active sex life are happier than those without; (Does that one go with the last two, too?
busy people are happier than those with little to do;
it just goes on and on.

So the author sets out to explore the possibility that some places are happier than others. He starts out in Holland and after determining that part of the "happiness" allure to the Dutch nation is the legality of pot and prostitution, and their fondness for cycling, he moves on to Switzerland.

After all, Switzerland makes great Chocolate, what would make you happier? The insights presented for Swiss happiness appear normal in some instances (nature, mountains) and bizarre in other ( strict laws - no toilet flushing after 10PM but euthanasia is legal). Philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote "A certain amount of boredom is essential to a happy life" and the author concludes the Swiss reason for happiness is that they are boring. He moves on.

Next is Bhutan and Asian country in the Himalayas which actually has a national Happiness Policy and it is part of the national anthem. What would you expect being so close to the mythical Shangri-La.

The author visits Qatar where Happiness is a winning lottery ticket, Iceland where happiness is failure (a unique concept), Moldova which is at the bottom of the happiness scale (possibly because of the economic and cultural conditions since the Soviet breakup), and Thailand where the people are too busy being happy to think about happiness because they take life as it comes.
Starting his trip heading home, the author stops in India receiving the definition of Indian happiness being unpredictability, and Great Britain is happy with change. Finally arriving home the author determines that paradise is fleeting. If you find it, everyone else will too and then, it might not be paradise anymore. But, for most, Happiness is home.



Read : June 19 - 25
Category : ER books
Pages : 328

Aidan O'Neill is a fireman, his father was a fireman, he comes from a family of firemen and they all believed that they had gift - a gift of understanding the fire - where it was going to go, who it was going to harm, what it was going to devour. Aidan was sure of that gift until his father was killed in an arson fire. Then he began to question that gift.
For seven years he searched for the arsonist even after the fire department had put the search to bed. The arsonist had gone back to the shadows and was quiet. But now the arsonist was back, endangering Aidan's colleagues, his friends.
This is the story of a fireman who searches for the truth, trying to find the person who killed his father, who damaged these buildings, who frightened the people of the city that was his home. The conclusion is a bit shocking.

It's an interesting story but I wouldn't say that is always well-written. There are times when the writing appears to go off on a tangent and you wonder what's going on, and then it's back. You wonder why but it isn't cleared up for over 100 pages. The structure needs to be tightened up but overall an interesting read.


BUTCHER'S HILL by Laura Lippman

Read : June 21 -24
Category : Award Winner -Agatha, Anthony, Shamus Awards
Pages : 416

Tess Monaghan has finally hung out her shingle but her new office is not in the best area of Baltimore. On one of her first days in operation, Tess has two new clients - Luther Beale and Jackie. Jackie wants to hire Tess to find the daughter she gave up for adoption 13 years ago. Luther Beale, known as the Butcher of Butcher's Hill wants to find five children who were friends of the boy he was convicted of killing. He wants to make restitution.

Both cases appear pretty straight forward but they turn out to be far from it. Jackie's case brings Tess face to face with facts that may be hard for her to reconcile emotionally and Luther's case gets a bit dangerous. I found it interesting the way that the stories was woven together even though they were separate cases.

It was a bit slow in some spots, but overall an interesting combination. I still enjoy seeing the references of my hometown, though listening on audio, I tend to want to correct the pronunciations at times.


Musing Mondays

Do you restrict yourself on how many books you take out from the library at a time? Do you borrow books if you already have some out? Do you always reborrow books you don’t get to?

I never restrict myself when it comes to library books. As long as they'll let me take them out, if I see a book I might like, I check it out. As for borrowing if I already have books checked out, there again, as long as they'll let me, I'll keep them in business. Now when it gets to the point where I have to return a book because my checkout period has expired and I haven't read it yet, I usually take a really good look at it to make sure that I want to get it again. Then I make a note, and if I can I'll check out another copy. If one isn't available, then I'll go home and place a hold on it for my next visit to the library.

Library Loot

Frill Kill by Laura Childs
The Chardonnay Charade by Ellen Crosby
Death in Lacquer Red by Jeanne Dams
The Storekeeper's Daughter by Wanda Brunstetter

and I picked up two P.D. James mysteries on CD for our trip to Myrtle Beach.
A Mind to Murder
Unnatural Causes



I had a great week reading, finishing 5 books - 2 for my original 999 Challenge and 3 for my second 999 Challenge.

The Innocence of Father Brown and A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the White House were both for my original
Murder Uncorked, The Scarecrow and His Servant, and Wedding of the Waters were all for the secondary challenge.
I even had special time visiting with my Mom twice this week.
Today, I'm starting a new book and then visiting with my sister-in-law - we're getting steamed crabs for dinner - a mini-crab feast!

THE WEDDING OF THE WATERS:The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation by Peter Bernstein

Read : June 16 -21Category : HistoryPages : 448

This book is divided into 5 sections - the vision, the action the creation, the path, the aftermath.
The first section of this book begins with identification of those people who believed that the expansion of the United States required the improvement of its waterways to allow for easier navigation from the Atlantic Coast to the interior. George Washington was interested in expanding the Potomac River usage (possibly because of his large Mount Vernon frontage on this river) and though there was a company founded to explore this possibility, it never came to fruition. Numerous others from Christopher Coles to Gouverneur Morris tried and failed in the attempts to get the project funded and started. Along with the proposed waterway expansion, this section also identified men who designed and improved the watercrafts that were to be used once this project was underway.
The second section addresses the funding and proposal. In 1807, President Jefferson, in his annual address to Congress, suggested that the government surplus of funds be directed to "canals, roads, education…" Congress commissioned the Treasury to submit a plan "to propose the opening of roads and making canals which as objects of public improvement, may require and deserve the aid of the government."
Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury stressed in his report that for the volume of industry to increase with territorial expansion, a nationwide network of canals and roadways was essential for connections over the long distances. However, when the proposal was presented to the President requesting funds, Jefferson pointed to the Potomac (C&O Canal) and noted that it was unfinished for the last few miles but for a lack of $200,000 and New York wanted $10 million for a "350 mile canal through the wilderness - it is little short of madness". (Again an instance of Jefferson saying one thing and doing another.) New York resolved to proceed on its own.
Six New York commissioners undertook a 700 mile trek across the state in 53 days to gather the required details so that the NY legislature could be informed of what the project would entail. Several routes were under consideration -specifically one to Lake Ontario, the other to Lake Erie. Legislators frequently sided with the route that aided them either monetarily or politically. Finally, in March of 1811, the commissioners were authorized to arrange for funding, purchase the necessary land, and applied to Congress for additional funds. The project was on.
The War of 1812 had 2 effects on the Canal project. First, it delayed the progress because of the manpower that was routed to the war effort but two, it proved the need for a better communication and transportation system between the east coast and the western frontier. Only through rapid shipbuilding in Erie, PA was the access of the great lakes maintained by the US and not overtaken by the British. After the war, legislatures both state and National held up the project until the official route of the canal was decided upon, and funding was in place.
Construction started on July 4, 1817 and as it progressed so did improvements to the construction process. Numerous inventions were found/discovered to speed the construction. Inventions for speeding the cutting down of trees, removal of tree stumps and even cement came with the construction of the canal.
In 1819, the nation suffered its first depression and thanks to the Canal project, NY state survived nearly unscathed. Unemployment, rampant elsewhere, was non-existent around the Canal construction, in fact employment was up 20%.As the project progressed, political issues surrounded the finishing aspects - the location of the terminal on Lake Erie and how to handle a few of the final sections were just a few.
After the canal was completed, traffic increased in the first year from 2000 boats to 7000 boats. The time frame of traveling the distance from Albany to Buffalo was cut from 32 days to 5 days.Weather caused some issues - the canal froze in winter and the spring rains caused flooding. But towns sprung up overnight along the route and small villages turned into cities. Farm productivity in western NY state and beyond expanded 30% by 1840 and eastern areas turned to dairy farming. But the main impact of the Erie canal was the unification of the nation by the connection of the western areas to the eastern seaboard. Areas in the west could now ship their goods all the way to New York while receiving luxury items from the east that had not been available before.
This book was very informative but has a few drawbacks. At times it was very detailed in the descriptions of the building of the canal. For non-technical readers this would have been aided by drawings to help visualize what was being described. The writer also had a tendency at times to inappropriately report on the far future of NY state and how the Erie Canal was continuing, making the tale somewhat disjointed at these parts. Overall a very good book for background reading to this timeframe of US history.



Read : June 12 -19
Category : Cozy Mystery
Pages : 219

This book reminds me of The Wizard of Oz but rather than Dorothy trying to find her way back to Kansas and Auntie Em, the Scarecrow is trying to find his way to Spring Valley where he is supposedly the owner of all the land. The story starts out with the miraculous tale of how the Scarecrow comes to life and follows his adventures with his "servant" Jack, an orphaned boy who figures that he can't do any worse than starve to death.

It is a delightful, whimsical story which shows how perseverance and goodness will triumph over adversity.

Thanks to Tina at Tutu's 2¢ for the recommendation.

MURDER UNCORKED by Michele Scott

Read : June 7 -19
Category : Cozy Mystery
Pages : 219

Nikki Sands, an out of work actress, is waiting tables in Hollywood to make ends meet. She works at an upscale restaurant and has educated herself about wine pairings to increase her tip perspectives. One evening she shows off a bit of her knowledge, infuriating a blonde bimbo but intriguing her date. She gets fired for spilling wine on the bimbo, but is rescued by the hunk and learns that he is a winemaker from Napa Valley and is interesting in hiring her for marketing and general assistant staff support.

Nikki flies to Napa with Derek Malveaux where she is embroiled in a double murder investigation on the Malveaux Estate. Her one and only acting role seems to be coming alive - that of a Detective Sydney Martini. The story is complex but the writer allows the reader to gather the clues along with Nikki. Entertaining while providing recipes and wine pairings.

Friday Finds

What great books did you hear about / discover this past week?
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea


Library Loot

Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H W Brands

Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy


Teaser Tuesday

Fire swirled from the rooftop. It curved its neck and glowered over me like a thirty-foot cobra.
pg 96



Read : June 14-16
Category : History/Humor
Pages : 239

We've all heard Harry Truman's saying about if it's too hot to get out of the kitchen, well this book is full of the quips and anecdotes from presidential elections from Harry Truman through Bush II and some are just as memorable. McGovern is remembered for saying "Three things beat me. Dirty tricks, tapped phones, and I lost 49 states." The quotes ad stories are amusing and lighthearted. my favorites that pertain to no candidates in particular are: Richard Harkness (newspaper commentator) "When it comes to facing up to serious problems, each candidate will pledge to appoint a committee. And what is a Committee? A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary. It all sounds great in a campaign speech." or humorist Caskie Stinnett's quote "take a second look at the candidate whose voice falters at the end of each page of his speech. He doesn't know, any more than you do, what's coming next."On occasion we have had third party candidates that have added to the amusement.I liked the quote about Ross Perot. The National review said " Ross Perot won't hire gays or adulterers for his administration. At last----a practical plan to shrink the size of the government." (Not my viewpoint, just an amusing quote.)


The Innocence of Father Brown by C.K. Chesterton

A classic collection of Father Brown short stories. The French master criminal Flambeau is repeatedly beaten by this unremarkable priest, before he decides to join Father Brown in solving a series of perplexing mysteries.
I won't say this was the greatest, but with my track record with classics, this was okay.

Quidditch Through the Ages

This is a cute little book which documents the development of the greatest game on broomsticks! We hear stories of the beginning of the game as well as how the equipment has changed over the years. We are given a detailed list of the teams that play the game all over the world and the special moves used in the game. Remember if you want to play Quidditch, be sure to get a Firebolt!

The Templar Legacy

When I finished this book, at first I was a little stunned. It didn't end the way I expected. Maybe that's why it was such an interesting novel. The author creates a highly imaginative story using certain facts and theories of others and weaves them together to generate a tale that holds your interest and at times takes your breath away. Highly religious people may be offended by some of the aspects of this story, but I found fascinating in the same way as I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code.In total, it was an entertaining adventure worthy of James Bond while and at the same time extremely disquieting in its theories.

Shoots to Kill

Abby Knight gets herself into trouble without even doing anything. Her past comes back to haunt her in this mystery related to a young woman who Abby babysat years before. Her gut tells her things that Marco, her friend Dave, and the police can't realize until it is too late. I thought this mystery was fun wth all the twists related to Libby's quirks but I would definitely suggest that a new reader get the previous books in the series for the background.

Killer Heat

Killer Heat is the 10th in the series centering around Alexandra Cooper Asst DA for Special Victims in NYC. This book's main story line revolves around a serial rapist/murder and the efforts taken to apprehend the perpetrator. There is a subplot which is cleverly woven in to misdirect the reader and keep the tension throughout. The characters have been well-developed over the previous 9 novels and interact as expected. The behavior of the central character is beginning to become a bit predictable and therefore, removes some of the suspense that could normally be generated in this type of plot. But all in all, I enjoyed the book.

Patriarch:George Washington and the New American nation

The beginning (though a very difficult read for the first 50 pages) shows traits of his character as he started his public career as a surveyor and landowner. He decided early on that his way to fight against the tyrannies of the mother country was by making Mount Vernon self-sufficient so he eliminated tobacco from the crops produced and planted wheat and corn so that he could feed his family and slaves without having to buy English products. The book does not go into details of the era of the revolutionary war, but states his steadfast belief that it was necessary to break from the Mother Country. His leanings toward a strong central government were defined within himself during the Revolutionary War due to the difficulties that he encountered trying to maintain the army. The Congress, which had originally appointed him as the Commander of the Army, was reluctant to provided financially for the soldiers with either provisions or salary. His private life was not as he and Martha had wished, but as Martha Washington said, " I little thought, when the war was finished, that any circumstances could possibly have happened which would call the General into public life again"…. And continued " I cannot blame him for having acted according to his duties in obeying the voice of his country." Once elected to the office of President, Washington, while setting up his administration, tried to choose those with the best credentials, not necessarily those that thought the same way he did. He struggled in trying to keep his cabinet (mainly Jefferson and Hamilton) from arguing given that Jefferson was in favor of republic attributes and Hamilton was a Federalist. Washington was constantly trying to keep the peace with England, Spain, and the Indians while maintaining good relations with France during their revolution. His determination to have the young US remain neutral to all the upheaval occurring in Europe, appears to be one of the main reasons why the tiny nation managed to survive. Washington concentrated on establishing peace and prosperity in the new nation, rather than trying to become a political power at the time. During his second term in office (one that he reluctantly took - he really felt that he was too old and wanted to retire) Washington continually ran into political issues that threatened the infant nation. The English ambassador of the time was quoted to say about his leadership abilities "he possess the two great requisites of a statesman, the faculty of concealing his own sentiments and discovering those of other men." Not stressed in normal historical accounts, after his retirement from the presidency, he was actually overseeing the building of the "Federal City" and when worries mounted about a possible war with France, he was charged again to be the Commander in Chief of the army. He made provisions for the recruitment of a standing army and debated with President Adams the order of precedence for his officers (Hamilton, Pinckney, and Knox). The author stresses that though many historians see Washington as mainly a man who let others govern, he was in fact, a leader, who displayed the same strengths in governing that he used as a military commander and as a large landowner -diligence, fortitude, and determination. What truly amazed me about this book, is the man that was revealed- I never thought of George Washington as a particularly eloquent man, but the writings that appeared changed that perspective for me. I also saw other sides of characters that I had read in history but now saw in a different light - in particular, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Washington also came through as especially gifted in the area of diplomacy, as well as thoroughly insightful when taking into consideration, the people's well-being even when it was not appreciated by the general public. Often, he prevented political disasters for the fledgling country by well-timed delays and assumptions of responsibility where others would likely have placed blame. I admired this man before reading this book, now I truly respect his accomplishments. and his character. The author states at the end " the first president remains that rarest of historical figures, of whom it can be said that in conceding his humanity, we only confirm his greatness."

Who Invited the Dead Man?

MacLaren Yarborough is a very busy lady. Her husband, Joe Riddley, recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, requires her nearly constant attention while he is re-educated to learn to perform every day tasks. At the same time, MacLaren has to take care of the family business and is a town magistrate.To celebrate Joe Riddley's improvements and his 65th birthday, MacLaren throws a birthday party which ends up with an uninvited dead guest. Keeping the murder a secret while the party progresses, the judge manages to get the sheriff to start the investigation and keep her guests happy at the same time. This mystery is complex and yet simple. Some of the events are predictable and others are surprising. I thought it was tremendously woven to combine these aspects and it was sheer pleasure to read. I definitely need to find the first two in this series. 4 stars

The Presidency of James Monroe

This book centers mainly on the Presidency of James Monroe rather than a complete biography. The early years are summarized to give the reader an understanding of his qualifications and where he was coming from. From the information in the book it appears that James Monroe was probably the first president to realize that the good will of the people could keep him in office. During his administrations, he undertook several long trips to see how the nation and its people faired. The first trip was to what was then called the East - what we now call the north - New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. By making this his first priority in his travels he was able to consolidate his position by befriending the Federalists even though he was a southern Republican. His second trip was to the South and western reaches of the Ohio Valley.Conditions were not financial good during the first administration due to recovery from the war. Congressman Richard Johnson of Kentucky is quoted "the times for money are alarming and frightful. I have never seen a time before but when I could raise $1000 with less difficulty than I can now raise $100" "It is impossible to describe to you the distress in this country on account of circulating medium. Loans cannot be obtained from banks or individuals - both are calling in their debts by wholesale, and nothing can be purchased on credit." The National intelligencer published "our markets are deluged with merchandise from foreign nations, while thousands of our citizens, able and willing to work, and capable of furnishing similar articles, are unable to procure employment." (Does any of this sound familiar?)Besides the domestic issues of the day, Monroe also had to keep a wary eye open at the revolutions that were in progress in the areas to the south of the USA. These were what led to the Monroe Doctrine. I don't feel that 1 chapter is sufficient to cover that, so I will be reading a book dedicated to this aspect of his presidency.Overall, a good basic book for a President that I don't think received enough credit for what he had to handle.


First, I have to say that I loved this book. I smiled, I laughed uproariously, I grinned, I cried, I chuckled, I ran the entire gambit of emotions while enjoying this book.The main character Charlie (female) is in her late twenties and watching the lives of her friends and family move forward while she appears to be treading water. So she decides to make a list of the lessons that she learns so that she can pass them along to her great-granddaughter (should she ever have one).Charlie lives in Hollywood and her job is personal assistant to movie star, Drew Stanton, a spoiled, charmingly child-like character. She juggles her numerous jobs (cleaning the pool of hippo poop, assisting in the transformation of Drew's dressing room to a winter wonderland) with family and friend , occasions/events.Charlie's main efforts are centered around her love life and her involvement with two different men - Jordan who goes off to Paris for a job and Liam the producer of Drew's current film. The ending is totally unexpected and leaves the reader wanting more. Definitely a book that I will revisit after I read more by this writer.


Let's face it, who doesn't love a lady who is always trying to help others and bakes tremendous cookies at the same time. Hannah Swensen can take anything in the cabinet and make a treat out of it. In the Cream Puff Murder, Hannah is fighting her own person hell - she needs to lose weight so that she can fit into the special dress that her mother, Dolores, ordered for her to wear at the Book Launch Party that is planned for Delores' book.With her sister, Andrea's help, Hannah sets to exercising at the new spa Heavenly Bodies. There she runs into an old rival- Ronnie Ward. Later when she discovers Ronnie's body in the Jacuzzi, Hannah works to clear Mike (one of her beaus), Lonnie (her sister Michelle's beau), and Bill (Andrea's husband). While working on solving this mystery, Hannah had s mystery at home - Moishe, her cat, has some strange eating habits and Hannah needs to figure out how she manages to empty her kitty feeder and still stay thin. The mysteries are entertaining and fun loving. Definitely a great cozy!

The Maltese Falcon

I seem to have trouble liking classics. I had heard that The Maltese Falcon was Dashiell Hammett's finest work, but if t is, I don't want to read another. I got through this book, that's about all I'll say because I felt that the writing was poor and that there was too much repetition of the actions and words that were used. If I read one more time about how he rolled a cigarette, I was closing the book and quitting right there. Besides the fact, I didn't think that it was much of a mystery.I hope that this year I can find at least one new classic that I can enjoy.

Candy Cane Murder

I was not aware when I got this book, that it was a collection of short stories so I am only reviewing the Joanne Fluke Candy Cane Murder, though I will say the other stories were entertaining. This Hannah Swensen mystery went a long the guidelines of the other HS mysteries. She finds the body and then gets involved investigating with her sisters and boyfriends. Her instincts lead her to the murderer but her realization of guilty party usually comes a bit late. What always amuses me is that Hannah ca never remember her cell phone!

Winter Study

Due to the expected presence of wolves in Rocky Mountain National Park, District Ranger Anna Pigeon joins the Winter study at Isle Royale in Lake Superior where the wolves have been studied for 50 years. Homeland Security would like to open Isle Royale year round but decisions must be made to determine the feasibility due to weather conditions in the dead of winter. Mysterious and strange events which include a death by wolf attack, near drowning in Lake Superior, blackmail, and possible murder keep Anna actively working to preserve the lives of the team as well as herself. The story is completely chilling with weather conditions depicted throughout the story, but it's great read for any Pigeon fan.

The Quilter's Apprentice

This is a heartwarming story of a young couple, Sarah and Matt, who must leave the only home that they've known to move to another town so that Matt can get work. His new job puts Sarah in the position of being unemployed for the first time and searching for a job in a tough market. While she is searching, the cranky elderly woman, Mrs. Compson, that Matt is work for offers Sarah a chance to earn some money helping prepare her family estate(Elm Creek Manor) for sale. Sarah agrees provided that Mrs. Compson teaches her how to quilt. During the daily quilting lessons, Mrs. Compson and Sarah develop a close friendship while revealing their own life stories/issues/problems.The stories that are related are at times powerfully moving, and reminders of how our own errors can effect our lives. In total it is remarkable how this book can show that love and friendship can help overcome just about anything including past injuries and insults. The descriptions of the quilting processes that are intermingled throughout are fascinating. The only drawback is that at times, the character of Sarah seems a bit whiny. Hopefully, she'll out grow it in future books.

Scent to her Grave

India Ink has written a witty, often amusing and definitely complex amateur sleuth mystery. The central character is a martial arts expert who is a very feminine, spirited and independent woman. Trying to elude a bad relationship in Seattle, Persia Vanderbilt returns home to Gull Harbor and sets to work at her aunt's business, Venus Envy, a business that creates custom blended oils and spa services. At the beginning, Persia is blending an individual scent for Lydia Wang when Lydia (the Radiance Cosmetics Beauty Contest winner) gets into several altercations - one with her former boyfriend, Trevor, a employee of Venus Envy, another with the contest runner-up, Colleen. When Persia finds Lydia dead in the spa the next morning, and the murder weapon is one of Trevor's tools, Trevor becomes the chief suspect. Not believing in his guilt, Persia sets out to clear her employee and in the process nearly loses her own life. Since Lydia was such an abrasive personality and she had made so many enemies, it is difficult to choose just one person as the murderer and as the clues are revealed, the reader is able to solve the murder right along with Persia. I had to run out and get the next one, I enjoyed this one so much.

Ist in a Series Challenge

Completed books

Crewel World
On What Grounds
Getting Old is Murder
Crocodile on the sandbank
Still Life - Louise Penny
Baltimore Blues
Shop Till You Drop
Sympathy for the Devil
A Catered murder
Death at Le Fenice
Moving is Murder
Deal Breaker
Mistletoe Murder
A Clue for the Puzzle Lady
When did We Lose Harriet?
A Novena for Murder
Her royal spyness
Scent to her grave
The Quilter's Apprentice
Grime & punishment
Blessed is the busybody
Mistress of the Art of Death

Her Royal Spyness

Georgie is Royalty. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie still has her problems which haunt her even though she stands 34th in line to the throne. Her half brother is a duke with no money so she gets no allowance for her daily expenses. Her sister-in-law, FIG, is extremely frugal so when Georgia decides to head to London to escape the cold of family Scottish castle, she has no servants and no money for food. When Fig sends her a message that the Duke will be arriving and to make sure that the house is ready, Georgie finds that she can manage the light housework needed to open a house and advertises in the paper for her services.Little does she realize that she will have to be cleaning up a lot more than dust covers and clean linens when she discovers a dead body drown in her own bathtub. This book was witty and refreshing even though it is set in the 1930's. The characters are entertaining and cause the reader to cheer for the good guys. I really enjoyed the background settings and the information leaked of what life was like back then.

A Novena for Murder

Having been raised in a Catholic environment (12 years of Catholic school included) I was intrigued to see how a nun could be a detective. The story centers around a murder at a Catholic college in San Francisco. Sister Mary Helen is a retired num aged mid-seventies who recruits her fellow nuns to help her to investigate the murder of the history Professor because she believes that the police's chief suspect has nice eyes and couldn't be guilty.Sister Anne and Sister Eileen aid Mary Helen while Sister Therese starts a novena to St. Dismas (the patron saint of murderers) to get spiritual assistance. The interactions between the nuns and the police are entertaining and the story is a definite for those who like the old style as well as some religious reminders.


This is the second book by Patricia Sprinkle that I have read. (Who invited the Dead Man? was the third in this series I read first.) What catches me is her titles - When did we lose Harriet? Harriet somehow is the central character of this mystery but we only see her in the first two chapters. The remainder of the story has MacLaren Yarbrough searching for this young girl she has never met. Mac comes home to Montgomery Alabama because her baby brother, Jake (late 50's) has a heart attack and is being ornery about having surgery. Mac is called upon to take his place at the teen center where she discovers a library book filled with $3000 cash. She determines that it belongs to a girl named Harriet and sets out to return them to the owner. Along the way she finds person after person, who can't even remember the last time that they saw Harriet and she is amazed at their lack of concern for someone that they are responsible for. Mac manages throughout her search to find out where Harriet got the money, what she wanted to do with the money, and eventually where to find Harriet. This is an excellently written mystery that confounds the reader until the very end. All the clues are subtly distributed throughout. I will definitely be looking for the next in the series.

Mistletoe Murder

Lucy Stone is a working mother and I mean a working mother. By day she takes care of three children, at 5 she heads to work at the Country Cousins mail order facility were she has a shift until 1AM. One night needing a breath of cold air, Lucy finds the company founder dead in his car with the engine running. Since she is in at the beginning of the crime, Lucy proceeds to dig searching for the solution to this murder. The holidays are used as a backdrop for this cozy mystery and the family interactions and seasonal characteristics only blend the story together so that small parts make the whole entertaining and delightful.

Death at La Fenice

When a world famous conductor is discovered dead between acts at the La Fenice in Venice, Police Comissario (Chief Inspector) Guido Brunetti is called in to investigate. Discovering that the victim was poisoned by cyanide, Brunetti has several suspects. His interrogations take him throughout the city navigating not only through the canals and picturesque sights of Venice but also the dark side of his victim's past.Guido Brunetti is a well-developed character with considerable aptitude in his profession shown by wry observations and discerning opinions. His family life should be mundane, but appears delightful and fulfilling as well as humorous (while playing Monopoly the Commissario's wife is shown as a compulsive thief).This charming Italian Policeman unemotionally separates the complex tangles entwined in this squalid tale by using his abilities to read body language, long silences along with other psychological tools, and carefully devises an amazing and fulfilling solution.

A Catered Murder

Libby and Bernie are two typical sisters fighting with each other constantly but also loving each tremendously. When Bernie runs home after finding her live in boyfriend with another woman, she is enveloped back into the family fold without a bat of the eye. Libby who takes care of the family bakery/catering business and their invalid father, is at the moment of Bernie's arrival trying to prepare for a large event at which are their friends will be in attendance.The story progresses through the murder at the event and subsequent investigations that the sisters make to try to clear Libby's best friend of the murder charges.The writing is entertaining but as mysteries go, the writer failed to give enough clues to make it possible for the reader to solve the mystery. The murderer was in the first few chapters and then did not appear again until the last 2 chapters. I give it only 2 ½ stars.

A Clue for the Puzzle Lady

I enjoy puzzles because what is a mystery if not a puzzle to be solved so when I ran across this series I decided it definitely was for me and that I'd start at the beginning. In this first of the series, the Puzzle Lady for the public world is Cora Felton, an elderly, grandmotherly type who is just what the syndicates want when they promote the "Puzzle Lady". But in fact, all the work is done by her niece, Sherry, who is trying to hide out from an abusive husband/ex-husband? and move on with her life. They settle in a small town in Connecticut and this is where our story begins.I chuckled when the mystery started with the discovery of a dead body in the cemetery - how ironic! Not exactly the spot you think of for a murder. When the police chief starts the investigation (there are only 3 on the police force in this small town) by examining the pockets of the victim, he finds a scrap of paper that looks like a crossword puzzle clue. Not being particularly prepared for this type crime, Chief Harper turns to the Puzzle Lady to try to understand what the killer was trying to say with the clue.Ms Felton has some vices which if known, could possibly end the Puzzle lady's syndications. Somehow Aunt Cora can smoke and drink and still manages to help the Chief Harper through the clues/nonclues and leads him to the solution with an amusing edge. This cozy mystery is fun and entertaining and I'm definitely looking forward to more of the series.

Moving is Murder

Ellie Avery is a military wife. She has moved 4 times in the last 5 years but this time it's different. Elie is an organizer but it isn't as easy as it was all the other times because this move involves buying a house and a new baby. Arriving in their new town during a record heat wave, little Livvy makes Ellie wonder if she'll ever manage to get unpacked let alone settled.Ellie meets her fellow Air Force wives at the first Spouse function and senses a little tension among some of the spouses. Later after her first base function, Ellie comes upon one of the other wives, dead in a ditch. Trying to help the mourning husband, Ellie offers to take over the duties of organizing the upcoming garage sale, and this is what leads to enumerable clues and murder attempts as Ellie unravels all the clues that she finds.One really cozy concept appearing in this book are Ellie's tips on how to make your move better organized and hassle free.

Shop til You Drop

Helen has run away from a past that included a job with a six figure salary and a cheating husband to land in Florida doing a "Dead End Job" as a sales clerk in a ritzy women's boutique. It is an interesting premise and once the story actually starts to develop entertaining. As the story precedes, Helen overhears a murder for hire plot, sees drug sales, and finds blackmail plots all while trying to avoid discovery by her ex-husband and exposure by the police. She has to travel this mine field while trying to solve the murder of her former employer. Entertaining not great. Not sure that I will continue this series.

Still Life by Louise Penny

This murder mystery was beautifully crafted leaving the reader completely baffle until the end. The descriptions of the area were so realistic that you wonder if there really is a village like Three Pines. The characters are well fleshed out and contribute tremendously to the storytelling. I listened to the audio version of this book and it was excellent. The narrator had a voice that resonated mystery while carrying off the accents with real panache. I definitely am going to be looking for another in this series.

Crocodile on the Sandbank

First in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank introduces the reader to Amelia Peabody, a wealthy spinster of Victorian times, determined to see the world. In her first adventure, she meets up with a "ruined" young woman down on her luck at a time when Amelia needs a companion. Together the two set off for Egypt to see the Pyramids and Egyptian artifacts. The two ladies encounter two gentlemen in Cairo who allow them to join their expedition and dig. The book is well written since the plot builds and there is rarely a lull in the action. Full of historical background, the story does not lack for mystery or romance. The characters are vibrant and forceful. The heroine is witty and charming and the gentlemen are just what you expect for the time period. This book was delightful and informative while being very entertaining and I look forward to the next in the series.

Getting Old is Murder

Gladys Gold known as Gladdy is aged 75 and an avid mystery reader. When her best friend, Francie, dies eating chocolate cake, Gladdy begins to suspect that there is a serial killer on the lose in her Florida retirement community. The story is amusing with all the antics of the elder generation as well as senior romance in bloom. The only shortfall is that all the minor characters have not been fleshed out sufficiently so there are moments of confusion. But overall, a thoroughly pleasant cozy for a snowy cold afternoon.

On What Grounds (Cleo Coyle)

This book is the first in the coffeehouse mystery series. The characters are setup well with their interaction and motivations well-defined. At the same time the murder and subsequent investigation are cleverly interwoven with the coffeehouse daily routine.The author has also interjected numerous coffee techniques and tidbits of coffee history. However, I do feel that the character's motivations need to be a little more individualized - less of the standard "I'll force them to work and live together to get them back together" type thing. In future books I hope that the "love triangle" is a little better defined instead of just a vague feeling.Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I wouldn't say that it was great. I look forward to seeing improvements in the future and possibly might even try some "good" coffee.

Catchng up

New challenges are urging me to put some of my previous reviews out here so I will be copying them over from Librarything.

Crewel World

This is the first in a cozy mystery series that centers around needlecraft. Since I love mysteries and needlework, I was really looking forward to this and I wasn't disappointed. This book was well-written and well-plotted. I was surprised at the victim and was with Betsy the entire way wanting to solve the murder. I loved the way the little clues were left like breadcrumbs to help you figure it out.My only problem-- it was over too fast!


James Monroe:The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon

Category : History
Pages : 706

James Monroe was the last of the Revolutionary Presidents. He served the United States during the War of Independence being wounded while scouting for the Battle of Trenton, and during Washington's administration served in the US Senate and State Department. He represented the United States in France and Spain as he continued his diplomatic career (assisting in the negotiations regarding the Louisiana Purchase). He was also the Governor of Virginia and during the Madison Administration served as both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War. With his election to the Presidency, Monroe's political career was complete.

Monroe was a very analytical man, who gathered all the information available before making momentous decisions. He regularly held meetings with all of his advisors (Cabinet members) and then would reflect on their viewpoints and analyze the ramifications of the proposed actions.Perception was that Monroe was indecisive, however, it appears that he mainly used a delaying tacit to allow time for others to arrive at the same conclusions. He preferred unanimity within his Cabinet.It was also assumed that because of John Quincy Adams' extensive diplomatic experience that Monroe allowed him to set the foreign policy, but it is shown in Adams' diaries that Monroe controlled the foreign policy and the direction of proposed discussions with foreign ministers of the time. One must remember that he too had diplomatic experience and had served 8 years as the Secretary of State.

Monroe questioned himself and wrote to Jefferson" Was it not proper for the US to encourage nations seeking their freedom while condemning those seeking to deprive others of their liberty?"

Monroe made the conscious decision that it was time for the United States to take a bolder stand on the international front and in 1823 during his annual "State of the Union" address, revealed several paragraphs which stated that
1) "the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interest of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as the subjects for future colonization by any European powers." and
2) "We owe therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety."
At the time, it was referred to as the "American System". Now we know it as the Monroe Doctrine. This moral standing had no "imperial mission" behind it but served notice to all the nations of the world that the Americas were not to trifled with.

This is a very detailed biography of the 5th President. The author makes every effort to inform the reader of the accomplishments of the man as well as show his shortcomings.

On a personal note, I was not particular impressed with Monroe until I realized all that he had been through and accomplished in his lifetime. He reminds me a good deal of Washington in that he felt that the Constitution was to be adhered to fanatically and that the good of the Nation was more important than the good of his party. I was unaware that the "Monroe Doctrine" was actually part of the annual address to Congress in 1823. It was not a separate document but several separate paragraphs in his State of Union address and yet made such a definitive statement that it still serves as part of the United States foreign policy standards. It is sad that this man who put forth the policy that "protected" the Americas also was partially responsible for the Missouri Compromise that put us on the road to war.

How ironic, that the last of the Revolutionary Presidents also died on the 4th of July.

Sunday Salon

Well, I started out with all good intentions of actually doing some work around the house while listening to a book, but all good intentions flew by the wayside because I changed my mind and decided to finish the book on James Monroe. This afternoon I'm off to play bridge with some friends. Maybe tomorrow I'll get that dusting done.


Friday Finds

What great books did you hear about / discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

The Forgotten Garden
A Three Pipe Problem
The Glassblower of Murano
Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure
You Did What?: Mad Plans and Great Historical Disasters
Hannah's suitcase

These were all reviewed on Librarything and got my attention. They sound very interesting.



Category: New Writer
Pages: 607
Read: June 2 - June 10 THIS MADE A HOT REVIEW ON LT!

Four children have been tortured and horrifically murdered. Anytime you see a book that has this premise, you wonder where such a murdering monster hides. This monster is hidden in the folds of history. This book is set in 1171 medieval England, the small town of Cambridge. The townspeople believe that the Jews are responsible and force King Henry I to move all the Jews to protection within the royal castle fortress. King Henry has a vested interest in clearing the Jews because without their money lending and the taxes that they generate, the royal treasuries will be bankrupt.

How will the perpetrator be identified and brought to justice?

King Henry contacts the King of Sicily and asks for his finest master of the art of death, a medieval medical examiner. The doctor selected for the mission is Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar - A mistress of the Art of Death. Adelia and her companions-Simon, a Jew, and Mansur, a Moor- journey to England to uncover the serial killer who committed the Cambridge murders. A few of the problems that restrict Adelia's efforts to solve the murders are the superstitions of the time (women doctors are suspected of witchcraft) and her association with a Jew and a Muslim eunuch - foreigners who are not welcome in England. Adelia teams up with a tax collector, Sir Rowley and together the story evolves.

This book is a combination of Kay Scarpetta,CSI, and Sherlock Holmes. This tremendously well-crafted mystery is interwoven with an unusual love story as well as historical pageantry with multi-faceted characters that come to life on the page. The writing is at times thrilling, and other times humorous. It is amazing that the story can be both frightening and heart-warming.



Just about everyone at Librarything has been waiting for the new feature called Collections. It was released this morning. I've been playing all day trying to get my library there organized to perfection. Still have a ways to go but at least I have the time I wanted to spend on it.

I even went to the Library so that I could check in to how new books would work.

LIBRARY LOOT for this week:
Getting Old is the Best revenge by Rita Lakin
Motif for Murder by Laura Childs
Glossed and Found by India Ink
Let there Be Suspects by Emilie Richards
Beware False Profits by Emilie Richards


DARK CHAMPION by Jo Beverely

Category: Romance
Pages: 544
Read: June 4 - June 8

In medieval times, Bernard of Carrisford dies suddenly leaving his only daughter vulnerable to attack. The Treasure of Carrisford, as Imogen is known, flees her castle when the evil Lord Warbrick mysteriously invades the castle searching for her and its treasure. She escapes to her neighbor, Lord FitzRoger of Cleeve, and begs for his help to regain her home and defend her honor. Forced to realize that she needs a strong defender, Imogen agrees to wed the Lord of Cleeve in exchange for his assistance.

This story has several twists and turns but eventually the stubborn and independent people surrender to love.

This was my first romance of the year and it was a good one. I really enjoyed it not only for the romance but the story of the battles and imagery.

Mystery-thon results!

Did you finish a book?
I finished 1 book completely, started another which I didn't like, abandoned that one and started a third that I got a quarter way through and read a total of 420 pages. The book I didn't like really slowed me down because I kept have to backtrack to try to figure out what was going on.
If so, what did you finish?
Blessed is the Busybody by Emilie Richards

How many pages did you read? 420
How did the reading go for you? great for first and third book lousy for second

What else do you think about the read-a-thon?
My only problem was my husband said that I didn't get any breaks for lunch or anything, but I told him if he was going to read for 12 hours, he'd take a break so he had no room to talk.

It was fun!


HOTEL PARADISE by Martha Grimes

Pages: 85
Read: June 7

This was the second book that I picked for the 12 hour mystery-thon. I tried and read 85 pages but the story and style just couldn't grab my attention. I could never recommend this book to anyone. I do not see what the hype about this series could ever be about.

BLESSED IS THE BUSYBODY Author: Emilie Richards

#77 Category: New Writers
Pages: 272
Read: June 7

This was the first book that I read for the 12 hour mystery-thon. It had numerous entertaining moments and a well-crafted mystery that centered around a minister's family that lives in a small town in Ohio. It all starts with a naked body being found on the front porch of the vicarage. Aggie and her husband Ed have to ride the scandal as the police try to solve the murder that literally lands on their doorstep. The Women's Society for their church is not happy about the scandal and are tempted to relieve Ed of his position and then one of their own is murdered and things get even more complicated and Aggie sets out to clear her husband's reputation.

Sunday Salon

Today I have committed myself to 12 hours of mystery reading. Such a hardship! I have my books ready and I'm starting in a few minutes. Stay tuned for all the interesting info later tonight!


For the Read-a-thon
When did you start reading this genre? What was your first experience with the genre?How did you discover it?
I first remember reading (don't laugh) The Bobbsey Twin mysteries as a little girl. That started me and I moved on to Nancy Drew, moved on to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes and from there to the world!

Do you exclusively read mysteries and thrillers or do you mix it with other genres? If you switch genres, which other genres do you read?

I do read other things, romances (started as a teenager) histories and general fiction.

Have fun reading!


Booking through Thursday

“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

The Flame and the Flower
Ashes in the Wind
Harry Potter - all 7
Skye O'Malley
Beekeeper's Apprentice
Savannah Purchase
Duchess of Asherwood


Library Loot June 3

Murder Uncorked by Michele Scott
Bubbles All the Way by Sarah Strohmeyer
Deadly Greetings by Elizabeth Bright
Murder and Salutations by Elizabeth Bright



Category: Leaders
Pages: 246
Read: June 1 - June 2

This is the beginning of the Jane Jeffrey series. Jane is a widow whose husband died a few months ago in an auto accident. While she tries to keep things on an even keel for her three children, Jane handles carpools, PTA meetings but has to replace her cleaning lady. She and her next door neighbor, Shelly, contact the Happy Helper, and hire Edith, who is highly recommended by other neighbors.
Edith calls in sick when she is due at Shelly's house on a day that Shelly is hosting a meeting, so a replacement is sent. When she comes home from doing her errands, Shelly frantically calls Jane over to her house because she has found Edith's replacement strangled with a vacuum cleaner cord.
Jane and Shelly work to figure out why the maid was dispatched.
It was entertaining, wouldn't say that it was the greatest.


Tuesday Teaser

Grime & Punishment
by Jill Churchill

page 91

I dropped an earring between Dorothy's sofa cushions at a party once, and when I reached down, I found an Easter egg. It was a Christmas party,

What kind of thing is that to say to someone who's planning hot dogs and baked beans for dinner?

MUSING MONDAYS sticking with it

The question for this Monday is in two parts:

How much time (or how many pages) do you give a book that you aren't really enjoying before you'll set it aside? Usually, I will give a book between 75 and 100 pages that probably equates to about 5-6 chapters. If by that time I have not been significantly engaged by the writing, I will normally move on. There are too many good books out there to waste time on ones you don't enjoy.

If you're reading it for a book group discussion, or for review, will you give it more of a chance then, say, a book you're reading for your own interest? Why, or why not? I have in the past started to read abook for a book group discussion and found that aI really didn't like the book. I apologized to the group members and left the group. If I havea book that I am supposed to review, I will read it, but usually I will only skim through to the end after I have decided that it is not my type of book.