Candy Apple Dead by Sammi Carter


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: jealousy, greed
Setting: Paradise, CO
Main Characters: Abby Shaw, Brandon Mills,
Series: yes, #1 Candy Shop Mysteries
Dates Read: August 24 - August 28
Number of pages: 240
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Study Hall

Abby Shaw's Aunt Grace has left her candy shop to Abby knowing that she has a passion about making delicious candy. Abby gives up her legal profession and returns to Paradise, CO to continue her aunt's shop DIVINITY open and profitable.

As she gets use to her change in circumstance, Abby is befriended by another merchant, Brandon Mills, so when a fire destroys his store Man about Town, and he is subsequently found dead, Abby is naturally upset. Her distress increases when it appears that her brother, Wyatt, is the main suspect for the arson and murder.

Abby works unceasingly to find others that had reason to kill Brandon, the police are not happy about her interference and are noticeably perturbed when she appears to be in danger because of her involvement.

This was a fun mystery, introducing nice characters and a good background, however, the clues were sparse and the ending not completely satisfying. I'll try another in the series hoping for improvement.


Blog is getting a facelift!

I was having some issues with my blog so I figured while I was fixing all the little quirks that were causing problems, I'd give my blog a new design.

I'm still tweaking some of the little design parts, but all in all, it's pretty well finished.

What do you think?


The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff


Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Mormons, pologamy,
Setting: Utah
Main Characters: Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith
Series: no
Dates Read: July 28 - August 25
Number of pages: 514
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography Class

I don’t know exactly what to say about this book. There are more than enough reviews telling you the plot of the book but I think I need to say something before I express my impressions of the story.

The book is actually two stories - one about the origins of the Mormons in Utah and the second a murder mystery in the current day. I think I would have liked it better if instead of trying to interweave the two tales, each had been separate. I often found it confusing going back and forth and so I feel like I lost continuity.

The material about the founding of the Church of the Latter Day Saints was enlightening and noticibly well-researched.


Organize Your Corpses by Mary Jane Maffini


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: inheritances,
Main Characters: Charlotte Adams, Helen Henley
Series: yes, Charlotte Adams mysteries # 1
Dates Read: August 19 - August 22
Number of pages: 288
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Class Schedule

Charlotte Adams has returned to her hometown and started a business to help others with their organizational problems. When she gets a call from a former teacher (that everyone in town hates) her friend Sally warns her not to take the job. But Charlotte is brave and heads over to Henley House to meet with Helen Henley about the job. Charlotte accepts her check and plans to meet her to start working on the following day but in the evening she receives a call from HH demanding her to come right away. Charlotte tells her that she will meet her in the morning as arranged and when she arrives she finds HH dead.

Enter Pepper Monahan, Charlotte's former best friend, who is the police detective and who finds great joy in making Charlotte uncomfortable and has her as the chief suspect. Charlotte has t find the killer before Pepper gets sufficient evidence to put her ex-friend under arrest.

The characters in this new series are fun and entertaining, the situations are humorous, and the surprise ending has the reader saying wow! I didn't see that coming. Loads of fun, a definite cozy to read!


Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James


Genre: Mystery
Subject: suspicion, family separation
Setting: Derbyshire, England
Main Characters: Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, George Wickham
Series: no
Dates Read: August 16 - August 21
Number of pages: 418
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, MCL
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Speech Class

Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice are two of the best loved characters in fiction and so have often been "kidnapped" by other authors for use in their novels. P.D. James' version has the Darcys living happily at Pemberley with their children, Elizabeth's sister Jane and her husband Charles Bingley and their family living in the neighborhood and plans underway for the annual Lady Anne Ball. But before the festivities can commence, Lydia shows up in a fit, screaming that Wickham is dead!

The gentlemen of Pemberley return to the nearby woods and find Wickham bending over the body of his friend Denny, wailing of how Denny is dead and that he killed him. Regrettably, the Wickhams must be offered Pemberley's hospitality until the local magistrate can be notified. The Ball is cancelled and the investigation begins into the circumstances of Captain Denny's death.

News spreads of the events and fortunately, for the readers the only "sightings" of Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins come in the form of letters with their typical tones of condescension and haughtiness in the form of unwanted advice and disdain.

This book was by no means a heavy mystery lacking twists and turns that would hide the inevitable conclusion, it was a lighter mystery showing that the inhabitants of Pemberley are still the characters we loved and that the issues that they are forced to endure can be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

This wasn't the greatest mystery but it was fun.


Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer


Genre: Fiction
Subject: stages of a love relationships, friendships
Setting: Dragonfly Lake
Main Characters: Bella Barnaby, Natalie Reynolds, Morgan O'Keefe, Aaron Waterhouse, Ben Barnaby, Josh O'Keefe, Slade Reynolds
Series: no
Dates Read: August 13 - August 18
Number of pages: 368
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, received from LT for review
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Homework

This book is the typical summer beach read - young women looking for love, young men with other things on their mind. The interesting concept for me was that the relationships showcased were in different stages and yet they managed to overlap.

Morgan is married to Josh who has just taken a new job with a very prestigious firm and he wants his wife and young son to have a big house right on the lake where they meet Bella. Bella is in a relationship with Aaron who is interviewing for a job in San Francisco and if they stay together, would necessitate Bella leaving Dragonfly Lake and her new business. Natalie, an artist, is housesitting for her aunt and is living next door to Morgan. The 3 woman become fast friends. Trouble arrives in the figure of Slade, Natalie's brother, who takes a shine not only to Bella but Morgan as well.

Relationships get even more jumbled when Morgan is unhappy because Josh is working too many hours, Natalie gets involved with Bella's brother, Ben, and Slade is trying to influence Bella into a relationship as well as business dealings.

The story was okay, but I think that there were just too many relationships, too many twists. Two relationships in the story would have been sufficient and made more room for emotional expansion. Overall an okay for the beach.


A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon


Genre: Mystery
Subject: fishing industry corruption
Setting: Venice Italy
Main Characters: Commiossario Brunetti, Signorina Electra
Series: yes, # 10
Dates Read: August 15 - August 16
Number of pages: 239
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Math Class

Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to the little fishing village of Pellestrina after a fishing boat explodes and sinks and two bodies are found in the wreckage. The clam fishermen are not very communicative so Signorina Elettra "volunteers" to gather information while on "vacation" in the village while she visits with relatives.

What Brunetti uncovers on his own, makes him question the wisdom of allowing Signorina Elettra to remain the corrupt environment which threatens to be exposed by the investigation.

This was not one of Leon's best, IMO, leaving me a bit flat. The police procedural was missing and the thrilling end was the only redeeming part.


A Peach of a Murder by Livia J Washburn


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: retribution
Setting: Weatherford, TX
Main Characters: Phyllis Newsom, Carolyn Wilbarger, Mattie Harris
Series: yes, #1 Fresh baked Mysteries
Dates Read: August 7 - August 14
Number of pages: 272
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Study Hall

Phyllis Newsom is going to entering the Peach Baking contest so she heads to the peach orchard for fresh fruit. She not only gets peaches she discovers the owner dead.

Upset by the discovery, she tries to settle into her baking developing a new recipe for Peach cobbler but when the head judge dies after tasting her entry, Phyllis is more than upset, especially when it looks like one of her best friends and boarders, Carolyn, may be the chief suspect. Not liking that idea, Phyllis sets out to discover the real murderer before it's too late for their friendship.

The characters were fun and the slight hint of a possible future romance added some spice. Some yummy-sounding recipes were included.


The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak


Genre:Historical Fiction
Subject: early life of Catherine the Great, royal children
Setting: Russia
Main Characters: Varvara, Egor, Darya, Princess Sophie (Catherine), Grand Duke Peter, Crown Prince Paul, Empress Elizabeth
Series: no
Dates Read: August 1 - August 13
Number of pages: 436
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, received from publisher for review
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Foreign Languages

I knew basically nothing about Catherine the Great when I started this book, and I feel that I am still in that same spot after finishing it. This fictional account was from the viewpoint of a trusted servant (more of the book seemed to be about her than Catherine) telling of Sophie's arrival (her name was changed to Catherine) at the Russian court until her assumption of the throne. It meandered, never really settling into a colorful narrative. I definitely wouldn't recommend it.


A Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner


Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Isabel of Castile
Setting: Castille, Spain
Main Characters: Isabel of Castille, Fernando of Aragón
Series: no
Dates Read: August 4 - August 12
Number of pages: 374
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, LibraryThing ER book May
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Foreign Languages

I believe that we have all heard of Isabella of Castille, the Spanish queen who sponsored Christopher Columbus' voyages to the New World, but do you know anything else about her? I admit that the only other fact that I knew about her was that she was the mother of Henry VIII's first wife, Katherine of Aragon. So I started this book with a great deal of interest trying to learn more about her. Granted, this is historical fiction, but the research credits in the book were impressive so I believed that I would at least learn a few historical facts along the way.

I will admit that I was blown away by the story. I started it thinking that it would be somewhat heavy, but the tale, as it was woven, told of the early life of Isabella who was never expected to inherit the throne of Castille and how she was drawn into civil war between her brother Alfonso and her half-brother Enrique.

Once she was crowned Queen and she married Fernando of Aragón, the story shifts to the issues of her reign and the decisions that she had to make. The anguish that she went through may not have been historically true, but helps to take the reader through the problems (something not necessarily always perceived) of a reigning monarch. The decisions may not be what she personally wanted but what was best for her country and its people at the time.

What I was not aware of and learned from this book, was how and why the Spanish Inquisition started and some of the feelings of the Christians toward the Jews and the Moors and how they affected policies of the day.

A highly enjoyable read.


Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: returning home, special talents, new business,
Setting: Havenwood, GA
Main Characters: Ella Mae LeFaye, Loralyn Gaynor,
Series: yes, #1 Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries
Dates Read: August 4 - August 6
Number of pages: 294
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, 2012 Nook purchase
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Class Schedule

Ella Mae returns from NYC and her failed marriage (she caught her husband in the act with twins) and her mother and aunts persuade her to open the Charmed Pie Shoppe.

Ella Mae has run-ins with her old nemesis and her old crush but when her rolling pin is found at the scene where her nemesis' fiancé is found dead, her reputation is at stake and Ella Mae needs to find her actually committed the murder. During her investigation, she is busy baking all sorts of delicious sounding concoctions and her special ingredients are hard to distinguish.

There are many characters in this new series but they are introduced easily along with the clues that lead to the resolution. Sure wish this pie shop was in my town!


Mailbox Monday

I was surprised to receive a book from the publisher - I'm sure I probably requested it and forgot to mark it down. I just love surprises!

Joy for Beginners

What would you do with a second chance at life?

Having survived a life-threatening illness, Kate celebrates by gathering with six close friends. At an intimate outdoor dinner on a warm September evening, the women challenge Kate to start her new lease on life by going white-water rafting down the Grand Canyon with her daughter. But Kate is reluctant to take the risk.

That is, until her friend Marion proposes a pact: if Kate will face the rapids, each woman will do one thing in the next year that scares her.

Interesting idea...would we be willing?


The Quick and the Thread by Amanda Lee


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: transitions, new opportunities, fraud
Setting: Tallulah Falls, OR
Main Characters: Marcy Singer, Sadie Mackenzie, Bill Trelawney
Series: yes, #1 Embroidery Mysteries
Dates Read: August 2 - August 3
Number of pages: 336
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, my Nook
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Study hall

Marcy Singer has a regular old 9 to 5 accounting job in San Francisco but her college roommate, Sadie, has better ideas. She lures Marcy to the tranquil town of Tallaluah Falls, OR to realize her secret dream of opening a needlework shop. The location is perfect, right next store to Sadie's Coffee shop.

But the grand opening event doesn't go exactly as planned when the old tenant shows up drunk and causes a disturbance. Things get worse when the next morning Marcy discovers him dead in her storeroom.

The flow of this cozy mystery was great - just the right blend of introduction to the characters and locale with the clues woven in to solve the mystery. Looking forward to the next installment.


Fatally Frosted by Jessica Beck

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: murder, framing
Setting: April Springs, NC USA
Main Characters: Suzanne Hart, Marge Rankin, Grace Gauge, Jake Bishop
Series: yes, #2 Donut Shop Mysteries
Dates Read: July 31 - August 1
Number of pages: 320
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Home Economics

Suzanne Hart, owner and operator of Donut Hearts, has been prevailed upon by Marge Rankin to demonstrate donut making in Marge's remodeled kitchen which is part of April Springs kitchen tour. But problems arise when the Chairman of the event, Peg Masterson is found dead in Marge's garden apparently poisoned by a donut from Suzanne's shop.

Since this could be a problem for business, Suzanne decides that she needs to find out who really did kill Peg and starts her own investigation. It doesn't help when her boyfriend, Jake Bishop of the state police, is called away for family emergency and leaves Suzanne on her own.

The characters are fun and the description of the bake goods are s0 good that you can almost smell them cooking. A definitely fun series.