Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was originally hosted by The Printed Page but now it is on tour each month. For the month of January it will be hosted by Rose City Reader. This past week I got one book in the mail - I won a giveaway on Kay's blog - My Random Acts of Reading -Thanks Kay!

Buttercream Bump Off
by Jenn McKinlay
#2 Cupcake Bakery Mystery
Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura's Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery is gearing up for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately someone has iced Baxter Malloy on his first date with Mel's mother. Now Mom's a suspect, and Mel and Angie need to find time around frosting to dig into the man's shady past and discover who served him his just desserts.
Sounds like fun!


Acqua Alta by Donna Leon

Read: January 25 - January 28
Format: 374 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Chinese Archeology, Mafia infiltration, Gay bashing
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, SYLL
Category: Honeymoon - foreign settings/thrillers
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Stars: ****

The 5th installment of Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series returns characters from the first book of the series to the beautiful Venetian setting and then makes it turn ugly with a vicious beating and death threats.

Guido Brunetti realizes that a friend, Brett Lynch, an archaeologist that specializes in Chinese ceramics, has return when he is presented with a report about the vicious assault by men, putting her in the hospital. He gathers information about the beating which was a warning for her to avoid a meeting with the Museum director in Venice, Semenzato. When he is found dead in his office, Brunetti, starts to piece together an intricately woven conspiracy surrounding theft and substitution of rare art objects.

Guido's determination to protect his friend and to identify the perpetrators, is documented with the backdrop of the rain season which brings the "high water" (acqua alta) through which Brunetti must wade to find all the clues that finally lead him to the answers he seeks.

If only the real world mysteries could be solved in the same manner by policemen like Commissario Guido Brunetti who often disregards the method of gaining information so that justice can be achieved. I am really looking forward to the next installment.


The Mournful Teddy by

Author: John J. Lamb
Read: January 22 - January 25
Format: Paperback 289 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble
Setting: Rural Virginia
Subject: teddy bear collecting, law enforcement corruption
Category: Setting up Housekeeping/ Leftovers - leftover
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: ★★★★

Brad Lyons had been a Homicide Inspector for the city of San Francisco before he was shot and permanently disabled and forced to retire. With his wife Ashleigh they move back to her hometown and started an artisan business of creating teddy bears.

The morning of the Great Teddy Bear Extravaganza, the body of a man washed up on their land and County Sheriff, without even examining the body, determined that it was an accidental drowning. Brad tried to explain to the Sheriff all the signs that pointed to a murder by strangulation, but he was told emphatically that t was a drowning and to keep his nose out of it if he knew what was good for him. As Brad and Ashleigh headed to the Extravaganza they were stopped by the sheriff's deputy (his son) and given several tickets as a warning of what trouble they could get into if they didn't comply with the Sheriff's request.

The story is cleverly woven so that the clues emerge to the characters and the readers at the same time and the characterizations as they develop are entertaining and delightful. I have the next in the series and look forward to it immensely. (I would even if I wasn't an arctophile.)

Bridge to Terabitia by Katherine Paterson

Read: January 21 - January 25
Format: Audio - 4 CDs equivalent 128 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Childhood, bullies, friendship
Category: The Kids have it!
Genre: Fiction
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL, AUDIO
Stars: 3

I don't exactly what to say about this book. There are nearly 200 reviews already on LibraryThing so I will forgo the story review and just go with my impressions.

The two main characters in this book are a 5th grade boy and girl who are thrown together because of the area they live in, their ability to run fast and their isolation. Jesse, the young boy, is alone on the family farm with 4 sisters and mother while his father works out of town. Leslie, the young girl, has moved to the rural area with her parents (both writers) who are trying to get back to basics (they don't even have a TV). Because of their mutual isolation from children of their age (Jesse because of working the farm) and Leslie (because she's the new kid on the block) they bond and together they create the imaginary world of Terabithia where they are the King and Queen.

The relationship that develops between of them is that of young love and when the tragedy hits, the reactions and how it is handled are touching. A lovely little book.


Bedevilled Eggs by Laura Childs

Read: January 17 - January 22
Format: Paperback 320 pages including recipes
Source: Author for review
Setting: Fictional town of Kindred
Subject: small town, Halloween,murder mystery
Category: Something New - books acquired or released in the last 12 months
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, BOYS
Stars: 3½

This third installment of the Cackleberry Club series is full of fun and laughter while weaving an entertaining mystery along the way. Suzanne Dietz and her partners at the Cackleberry Club set out to help a friend and get involved in more than they bargained for. When a mayoral candidate is murdered at Suzanne's side directly after attending a CackleBerry Club read-dating event where he was involved in an altercation (with their friend Jane), Suzanne, Toni, and Petra set out to clear their friend who is instantly the #1 suspect. The escapades that ensue are enjoyably diverting while driving the mystery investigation and the character development.

This book had a bit of humor, romance, mystery and a touch of social conscience. I'm liking this series more with each book.


1864 : Lincoln at the gates of history by Charles B. Flood

Read: January 8 - January 20
Format: Audio - Overdrive 20 hrs. equivalent 521 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: Civil War, Lincoln Re-election
Category: The Engagement: this is getting serious
Genre: History
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL, AUDIO
Stars: 3

This book concentrated on the pivotal year of history of 1864 during the Lincoln Administration telling about the political problems that impacted the President while he was working toward re-election.

The political environment in 1864 was extremely complicated because of the splits in the parties - Conservative Republicans who supported Lincoln, Radical Republicans that questioned his handling of the South, Peace Democrats who advocated compromise, and War Democrats who wanted to fight and didn't care about the slaves.

The historical events of the year - battles including the Wilderness Campaign, Lincoln's handling of Military leadership problems, the death of Chief Justice Taney, and issues with his own wife clashed with his efforts toward re-election. Lincoln felt that there was a good chance that he would not be returning to the Presidency and seems to be surprised when it does happen.

Interesting information with a detailed look for a specific year in the timeframe of the war.


Library Loot

Library Loot

Much as we would all like to own the books we read, unless we win the lottery, it just isn't financially doable for most of us, so the public library comes to the rescue. What books did you find at the library last time you visited?

I've been recovering from some surgery so when I finally got back to the library, it was as if all these books had just been waiting for me. I got a huge haul and here they are:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - So many people at LibraryThing have talked about this one, had to grab it.

A Fountain Filled with Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming - #2 in the series started 2010

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming #3 in the series

All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming next at #5 in the series

I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming #6 in the series

One False Move by Harlan Coben

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Call of the Wild by Jack London

I definitely hit the jackpot!

So what did you find at the Public Library?


Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was originally hosted by The Printed Page but now it is on tour each month. For the month of January it will be hosted by Rose City Reader. I know I'm a bit late today but it's still Monday so it counts!

This past week I got two books in the mail - one for review and a complete surprise and one from a book club for me:
1/10/11 $9.99 BOMC2
Paul Stevens is expected to retire, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg may well follow suit. With a new president choosing their replacements, it's the perfect time for Secret Lives of the Supreme Court-an irreverent look at the lives, personalities, and history of this exclusive club, with profiles of everyone from John Jay and William Howard Taft to Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts. Readers will learn about their most important cases and their most bizarre personality quirks: Thurgood Marshall was a soap opera junkie, Benjamin Cordozo died a virgin, Hugo Black was a Klansman, Sandra Day O'Connor started a Jazzercise class for fellow lawyers, and much more. Complete with 35 irreverent portraits, Secret Lives of the Supreme Court will be a hit with U.S. history buffs and anyone seeking a fuller understanding of current events. Barnes & Noble
Scones & Bones (A Tea Shop Mystery)
1/13/11 free from author for review

Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is lured into attending the Heritage Society's "Pirates and Plunder" soiree. But it's an antique diamond skull ring that gets plundered by someone who murders a history intern in the process. Theodosia knows she'll have to whet her investigative skills to find the killer among a raft of suspects.
Sounds like to great books to me! What came in your mailbox this week?


Lumby on the Air by Gail Fraser

Read: January 9 - January 16
Format: Paperback 430 pages
Source: FSB Associates for review
Setting: NW USA
Subject: small town, family reunions, teenage rebellion
Category: Something Borrowed/Something Blue - blue
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI
Stars: 4

This book, 5th in the series, is the latest tale of the charming quirky little town in the NW that has enchanted so many. The reader is invited into the family of Mark and Pam Walker as they host a family reunion which will culminate with their 25th anniversary and the renewal of their vows.

The reader meets both Mark's Family and siblings and Pam's mother and all the dysfunctional antics that go with them. At the same time, additional residents in Lumby are introduced while the characters that were in previous installments are still in the area. Lumby shows to its best advantage the quality of small town living even when big city visitors are in residence.

I can't wait for the next book to hit the shelves.


Weekend Wonderings

This week I got to thinking, why is it that I never seem to have enough books? Why am I always looking for another book to read?

Feel free to play along, just post a link to your blog or comment here and we can all wonder together.

I have, in the past, purchased, borrowed, found hundreds (not kidding) of books that are sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. I thought they sounded interesting when I got them, yet for some reason, they are still unread. I pondered this question within my mind and came to the conclusion that there are several causes at the root of this issue.

1. We've all heard about having eyes bigger than our stomach when we put too much on our plates and can't finish our food, well, that's me with books. I think it's a disease because whenever I hear about another interesting book, I have to find it right away and that just shoves the other books that I already have deeper into the mushroom cloud that is my TBR list. One day soon it will envelope the earth!

2. I read a great book and it is part of a series and I want to find out the next adventures, so I go and get all the rest of the series. Mushroom cloud expansion again!

3. One of my fellow book bloggers is having a contest and the book being given away looks good so I throw my name into the hat not believing that I will win, and what's the old saying - Lo and behold, my name is picked. Another book is on its way to my house.

4. My friends know that I love to read, so they bring/send the books they're finished with so that I can "enjoy" them too.

This year I am taking a challenge for reading Books Off Your Shelf (BOYS) so if you see the BOYS tag on my Challenges for I book I read, I have successfully removed one book from the mushroom cloud in an effort to avoid the disaster of collapsing bookshelves.

Okay, so what are your excuses/reasons for constantly inflating your bookshelves?


Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, Leslie Meier

Read: January 7 - January 9
Format: Hardback 361 pages
Source: Librarything Early Reviewers Program
Setting: Various locales
Subject: murders during the holidays
Category: Going Steady - ongoing series
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI
Stars: 3

This book is the combination of 3 short stories starring familiar characters. Each has gingerbread men central to the tale. Joanne Fluke's story is about the murder of one of her neighbors, Laura Levine's account tells of her character visiting her parents in a Florida retirement community and coming across a murder, and Leslie Meier's narrative of a kidnapped child. The first two were amusing - the last a bit too dark for the group.


A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

Read: January 2 - January 6
Format: E- Book - equvalent of 510 pages
Source: Barnes & Noble
Subject: Royal Marriage procession, travel Crusades era
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, RTT, BOYS
Category: Something New - books that were acquired or released in the last 12 months
Genre: Historical mystery

Stars: 4

The fourth installment of the Mistress of the Art of Death series sees Adeila under the orders of Henry II accompanying Princess Joanna to her wedding in Sicily. Unknown to her and her personal entourage, Adeila is being followed by Scarry - the partner of the evil character from the previous book. He has disguised himself as part of the Princess' entourage and no one suspects except Rowley and Ulf after trouble starts to plaque the procession.

The story is enthralling, keeping the reader's attention and at times, taking your breath away. I was a bit disappointed at the swiftness of the conclusion as if Ms. Franklin felt the story should end and just did it but I also wish there wasn't such a cliffhanger. I love the series and wish the books came faster, but I don't want the quality to fall.


The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

Read: December 31 - January 5
Format: Audio - 12 CDs 14.5 hrs. equivalent 464 pages
Source: Public Library
Subject: 19th century espionage, Purple Gentian - English Spy
Category: Blind dates: Will I like them? - New series / new authors
Genre: Mystery
Challenges: 11 in 11, 75 Book, TIOLI, SYLL, AUDIO
Stars: 3½

We've all heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and very much along the lines of the his adventures, we are treated to the story of the end of the career of the Purple Gentian (a friend of the Scarlet Pimpernel) and how he was unmasked and the circumstances which lead to the birth of the Pink Carnation in his stead.

The story is woven around the research of a Harvard Doctoral candidate (Eloise Kelly) searching for the identity of the Pink Carnation - an English spy during the Napoleonic era whose true identity has never been revealed. Having searched numerous archives in the British library and universities, Eloise makes a last ditch effort and contacts the family members of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian asking if they have any information that could be helpful. The story that evolves is delightfully entertaining and mysterious.

This is the first in the series and I'm definitely looking forward to continuing this series - the characters were fun and amusing and the style was refreshing.