Last chance for Halloween giveaway

My giveaway will be closing at midnight tonight so don't forget to enter for your chance at winning the Lucifer Code!

Sex, Murder, and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis

Read: October 25 - October 30
Format: 328 pages
Source: Private library
Subject: writer's plots,
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, TIOLI
Category: A Full Course Meal - Coffee or Tea?
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Stars: 3½

Sophie Katz is such a typical and yet unusual character that I was captivated from the beginning. Sophie is exotic - half black, half Jewish of Eastern European descent - a mystery writer with friends that match - a gay hairdresser, a best friend who owns and operates a sex toy shop and has both a wannabe vampire boyfriend and a sister as pure as the driven snow, add a mother and sister so self-centered that they are only upset when they aren't the first contact when Sophie is in danger (not worried that she's in danger) and you have a combination that amuses and entertains.

At the beginning of this entertaining cozy mystery, Sophie realizes that people she knows, or has had contact with are being murdered and the crime scenes are exactly as she describes in one of her books. The police don't believe her, especially when she tries to convince them that she is the next target of the killer.

The ensuing mayhem keeps the reader turning the pages to see what other havoc Sophie can wreak. A fun cozy and series I will definitely continue.


Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Read: October 24 - October 28
Format: Audio 8 CDs -and 471 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: chemical warfare development, WWI survivors,
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, TIOLI, AUDIO, SYLL, RTT
Category: Niagara Falls - Overflow
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Stars: 3½

Maisie Dobbs in 1931 witnesses the suicide of a man who apparently had been injured during WWI. She tries but is unable to prevent the tragedy from happening, and starts reliving the horrors of her time during he war.

Because of her efforts she is drawn into a rapidly advancing chemical warfare attack on the city of London - first 6 dogs are targeted, then 50 birds, 1 man - all the while the authorizes are warned by demands asking for better treatment and pensions for ex-soldiers.
Maisie while working with Scotland Yard on this investigation, is also endeavoring to aid Billy's wife Doreen and get her the best mental health care possible as well as her friend who is spiraling near to alcoholism.

The book paralleled the different types of mental illness - those resulting from war, depression, and alcohol dependency and yet it flowed so effortedlessly because of Maisie's character's involvement in all the aspects of the story. Seeing the mental health issues described from the 1930 POV in comparison to the 21st century - the reader can see that there has been improvement in the medical handling but that there is still room to go. I've read the first in the series and now this one - definitely need to go find the others.


Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh

Read: October 15 - October 25
Format: Audio 10 CDs -and 567 pages
Source: Public Library (audio) - my library book
Setting: 19th century England
Category: Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, BOSC, TIOLI, AUDIO
Stars: 3½

The seduction of Katherine Huxtable was supposed to be an easy wager for Jasper Finley, Baron Montford, but just at the moment when was upon him Monty drew back and his non-existent conscience prevented him from taken advantage of the beautiful country mouse.

Three years later, they meet again and circumstances force them into a marriage that could destroy them both, or become their salvation.

This is the second in the Huxtable series and it far surpassed the initial installment. Mary Balogh wins again.

Fiber & Brimstone by Laura Childs

Read: October 14 - October 24
Format: 328 Pages
Source: unsolicited ARC from author
Subject: Halloween in New Orleans, ponzi schemes
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOSC
Category: Niagara Falls - Overflow
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Stars: 3½

Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava Gruiex are fashioning a massive puppet to appear in the Halloween Monsters and Mayhem Torchlight Parade. Stepping out for fresh air, they discovered the body of Brett Fowler, one of the organizers.

As usual, Carmela, against the wishes of her police detective boyfriend, gets involved in the investigation and puts herself as well as Ava into several serious predicaments. Along the way, these two ladies attend all the special events that New Orleans has to offer for the ghoulishly inclined.

This is the 8th book in the Scrapbooking Mysteries series and I have to admit that I've missed the last few, but I'll have to go back to read them because it seems that interesting events took place which reflect in this story. Not that you can't enjoy this delightful cozy all by itself, because I think that this is my favorite in the series so far. The background events and descriptions, this time, were a refreshing change of pace and was a perfect setup for Halloween to come.


The Valcourt Heiress by Catherine Coulter

Read: October 8 - October 11
Format: Trade paperback 352 pages
Source: LibraryThing ER program
Setting: 13th century England
Category: Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, BOSC, TIOLI
Stars: 3

This is the story of Merry who is the daughter of the Earl of Valcourt. Upon his death, Merry becomes a pawn of her mother, a reputed witch who is planning to sell her daughter and her inheritance to Jason of Brennan. Trying to escape her fate (dressed as a boy), Merry struggles with Jason's men and is rescued by Garron of Kersey. Following him to his new holdings in Warham, Merry convinces the residents of the ravaged property that she can help them if they shield her identity.

Upon the arrival of Garron in Warham we learn of an attack by the Black Demon that killed nearly all the inhabitants and destroyed all the goods of the estate. The evil force was searching for silver coins that Garron's older brother supposedly stole before his death. The Story progresses as Merry and Garron both take on new roles at Warham and eventually the mystery of the Black Demon and Merry's mother both unite for a climax that is a bit predictable.

I enjoyed the book but the romance wasn't concentrated enough, the mystery was lacking in the clues department, and overall, the characters were a bit one dimensional. I think that needed a bit more editing and character development.


The Civil War at Sea by Craig L. Symonds

Read: October 12 - October 19
Format: Hardback 170 pages
Source: Public library ILL
Subject: Civil War, naval operations
Category: Civil War and its Leaders
Genre: History
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI,
Stars: 3

When people think of the Civil War, rarely do naval campaigns come to mind, I know I never put the tow together until I began researching the books that dealt with this conflict and I was surprised to find that there were many from which to choose. This book details the contributions and shortcomings of both the Union and Confederate navies to the outcome of the War between the States.

Knowing that the Civil War was not exactly anticipated, one would think that the combatants would not have been prepared for naval operations at the beginning of the war, but the Union had actually been adding and improving its naval forces since the Mexican American War. With the advent of steam powered propulsion, Americans needed additional vessels for the protection of their coastline as well as the trade vessels that moved goods from port to port, so between 1854 and 1859, 24 new steam powered naval vessels were ordered built in three different classes with the latest armaments including larger guns, explosive shells, and ironclading. Even with these improvements, they were still more maneuverable than the old sailing vessels.

The South however, had difficulties with their naval forces because of lack of materials to produce new vessels or convert older vessels with ironclading and more accurate and powerful guns. The Confederacy did manage to commission several vessels to built in England, however, because of the neutrality, delivery was not possible in several instances. Many members of the US Navy from Southern states at the start of war resigned their commissions and headed home to enlist in the Confederate navy only to find the shortage of ships on which to serve.

Lincoln's first policy change in 1861 concerning the navy was to order a blockade of all the major harbors of the South to prevent the Confederacy from receiving goods needed to build and enhance their naval vessels. The blockades were not totally successful in prevent the blockade runners from reaching the Southern ports but the blockades were effective enough to demoralize the citizens of the Confederacy as the war progressed.

The Union Navy also combined with the army on several occasions to assist in major victories - Fort Donelson, Vicksburg, Charleston - though normally there was a rivalry between the two factions. While the Union Navy did not end the war and the Southern navy didn't win the war, each managed to triumph in battle against the other during the 4 years of conflict. Eventually, however, it was the ability of the Union navy to prevent delivery of goods and additional vessels as well as aiding with troop movements and supply lines, which shortened the war.
This was a very well written book detailing the naval vessels that were developed for both the North and South and how they were used in different battle situations. The drawings and paintings there were included were extremely helpful in allowing the reader to see how the old fortifications and forts were no longer able to stop the newer and better equipped vessels. Not a large book by size but large on detail.


First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh

Read: October 12 - October 14
Format: Audio Overdrive -and paperback 388 pages
Source: Public Library (audio) - my library paperback
Setting: 19th century England
Category: Love Is a Many Splendored Thing
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, BOSC, TIOLI, AUDIO
Stars: 2½

Elliott Wallace, Viscount Lyngate has come to the small town of Throckbridge and all the young ladies are in a twitter because there is to be an assembly with dancing and the Viscount is coming. Little does the town realize this is just the start of the shakeup that the Viscount brings to the residents. At the dance the only lady that he deigns to dance with, is the Widow Dew, one of the Huxtable sisters, but not the pretty one, the very plain one.

The days following he disrupts the Huxtable household by informing them that Stephen, the youngest, is now the Earl of Merton and that they need to move to Warren Hall where Stephen, until his majority, will be trained to take over his responsibilities. Elliott realizes that the sisters will need to be introduced to London society and since there is no one who can sponsor them that they know, he will need to marry sooner than he planned to provide that service. He agrees to marry Vanessa Dew so that she can serve as her sisters' sponsor. Their love story unfolds.

First, let me say that I love Mary Balogh's books. She writes love stories in a series surrounding a family. She is one of my favorite authors, and this is her newest, the first in the Huxtable Series. I've read 20+ of her books and this is the first one that really disappointed me. I kept waiting for the plot to develop and it never got there. There was no conflict, no mystery just a simple love story that really didn't have much of a bite. These are the first two Hero/heroine that didn't grab me. I just hope that the series is better.


Giveaway entry fixed!

Sorry to my readers for not checking that the giveaway link worked.

I've fixed it now and checked to make sure that you should be able to get to the right page to enter.

Just click on the link to the right and follow the instructions. Good Luck!


The South vs. the South: How Southern Anti-Confederates Shaped the Course of the Civil War by William W. Freehling

Read: September 28 - October 7
Format: Hardback 206 pages
Source: Public library ILL
Subject: Civil War, Confederate preparedness
Category: Civil War and its Leaders
Genre: History
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI,
Stars: 2½

In the various discussions/writings about the Civil War, several reasons have been presented as to why the South lost, but in this book, noted historian William Freehling offers readers an additional cause for the defeat of the Confederacy. Usually historians cite the overwhelming forces and industrial development of the North as the major contributing factors, but in this book, we are shown that the framework of the Confederacy itself, may have been to blame.

The Confederacy was composed of three different sections - the Cotton states of the deep south, the middle South, and the Border States. The most vital section was the border states (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland) and due to their failure to secede and join the struggle, the Confederacy was hampered by a lack of manpower and transportation ports (St. Louis, Louisville, Baltimore). Divided loyalties had far more white soldiers from these states joining the Union Army as well as the industrial contributions made.

The Black population of the South also was a major factor- not simply because of the issue of slavery - but because of the volume of manpower that the North was able to utilize after Emancipation. The South lost its forced labor for creating fortifications while at the same time the North gained valuable manpower to supplement the troops.

Victory, however, was secured by the 13th Amendment. The Blacks (who had wisely assisted their struggle by doing anything to help the Union as well as fighting against their former masters) had proven themselves not to be insurrectionists, barbarians, but patriots for the Union cause. By supporting the Union in all its endeavors, the Blacks gained the white support in the vote for the 13th Amendment which finally broke the South.

In the end, it was the South's lack of recruiting the support of the black population which finally ended the South's hope of defeating the vast numbers of the North.

This book was informative, but a bit academic and very dry reading. While it gave the reader new insight into the actual reasonings for the South's defeat, it's not a book I would recommend unless someone was looking for very detailed information concerning the Civil War.


The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Read: September 24 - October 5
Format: Audio 12 CDs equivalent 577 pages
Source: Public library
Subject: Civil War, Gettysburg
Category: Civil War and its Leaders
Genre: History
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI,
Stars: 3½

"They all died, and they accomplished nothing."

The words keep reverberating in my mind.

This book is a fictitious though historically accurate account of the Battle of Gettysburg from the viewpoint of several of the highest ranking officers from both the Union and Confederate Armies.
The reader sees the indecision and heartbreak related to the commands of Robert E Lee and General Longstreet for the Confederates and Col. Chamberlain for the Union. We are also gifted with the stunning facts that if a few changes had been made, the outcome could have been quite different. Robert E. Lee is frequently touted as a superb tactician but here we are exposed to a failure on his part to listen to his second in command with.

But after all is said and done, "They all died, and they accomplished nothing."


Halloween Giveaway!

What is scarier at Halloween than a good thriller?
I have been lucky enough to be presented with a copy of the new book by Charles Brokaw to giveaway to one of my readers.

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble


A sacred brotherhood has sworn, generation after generation, to protect this terrifying truth from those who would use it to unleash doomsday upon mankind.

When the unthinkable happens, and the holy scroll is uncovered, the race is on to reveal the true meaning of the cryptic language. Only one man, Dr. Thomas Lourds, the world's foremost scholar of ancient languages can safely decipher this most deadly scripture.

Lourds soon becomes the bait in the most lethal manhunt — knowing he must confront the true face of evil if the world is to be saved...

So here are the rules for entry:
  1. Leave a comment about a scary book that you've read. Be sure to include your e-mail address.
  2. You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.
  3. Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.
  4. Giveaway ends Halloween! - 10/31/10

Remember your e-mail address . Sorry, US entries only.


The Confederate ordeal:The Southern Homefront by Steven A. Channing

Read: September 23 - September 30
Format: 168 pages
Source: Public library ILL
Subject: Civil War, Southern reactions
Category: Civil War and its Leaders
Genre: History
Challenges: 101020, 75 Book, SYLL, TIOLI,
Stars: 3

Confederate Ordeal: The Southern Homefront is one of several books that addresses the Southern issues and citizen's viewpoint of the Civil War. The issues created when the general male population goes off to war leaving a female population that normally handles the "delicate" side of life to continue to produce the requirements for an army are well-documented as well as the shortsightedness of the Confederate government and politicians who push their populace into a war that they were ill-prepared for with only 1 factory able to produce cannon and firearms and none to create ammunition.

Entire areas are impacted when doctors are "drafted" leaving no medical care for the ordinary citizens. State Schools closed because there were no students and Ladies schools had no teachers. Stores closed because no one was there to stock the shelves.

Other issues that bother the citizens were related to their rights - the Confederate Government, in its rush to be setup, had not documented the individual rights of the citizens as had been specified in the USA Bill of Rights and Constitution. The Conscription Law, in essence drafting all men between the ages of 18 and 35 for 3 years, angered the majority of the population who saw it as favoring the rich and influential since they were able to avoid service if they could hire someone to take their place. Having a necessary job could also earn a man exemption from serving - some jobs that qualified were munitions worker, postal worker, preacher, blacksmith, telegraph operator. Because of this, the conflict became known as " a rich man's war and a poor man's fight."

The southerners saw, with the advance of the Union Army into the secessionist states, the confiscation of their property (food, livestock, and wagons), homes burned, and what couldn't be taken, destroyed. With all the young men in the army, those left behind were unable to restore what had been lost.

As the Union Army closed in, the Southerners in the battle states lost their last sense of dignity with the loss of their homes and their need to flee to other areas which could feed and shelter them. As the realization of their impending defeat hit home, many former anti-secessionists gave up the battle and supported the invading army both verbally and materially. President Jefferson Davis was ridiculed and on numerous occasions asked to end the war so that the surviving members of their families could come home and start again.

This wasn't a very large book but the impact with the numerous pictures of the suffering and destruction got the message across quite well.