24. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

When the Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little, read by Angie, on 04/23/2014

Tara Doucet is devastated when her Grammy Claire is killed in a car accident. Then she starts receiving letters from Grammy Claire. The letters point to a mystery that has to be solved about the nipwisipwis (butterflies). Grammy Claire’s study of the butterflies had taken her from her home in Louisiana to an island in the Pacific. Tara and her sister Riley are taken in by Claire’s butler Reginald and whisked away first to her Louisiana home in the swamp and then to her tree house on the island. Tara continues to receive letters and clues and mysteries keys from Grammy Claire. She has to solve the clues, figure out what the keys open and find out who is trying to endanger the nipwisipwis. 

This is a fabulous mystery for kids. I think they will really enjoy following the clues along with Tara. I loved the relationship between Tara and Riley. Even though it is prickly it is still very sisterly and they do truly care for each other. I did find it a little strange that the girls just went off with Claire’s butler leaving their mother at home suffering from melancholy. I liked the fact that we are left guessing a little bit about the true power of the nipwisipwis. It made it a little more believable. There are many mysterious plants and animals in the world so who knows if butterflies could really have restorative properties.

17. April 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin, read by Tracy, on 04/16/2014

In 1872 the American merchant vessel Mary Celeste was discovered adrift off the coast of Spain. Her cargo was intact and there was no sign of struggle, but the crew was gone. They were never found.

This maritime mystery lies at the center of an intricate narrative branching through the highest levels of late-nineteenth-century literary society. While on a voyage to Africa, a rather hard-up and unproven young writer named Arthur Conan Doyle hears of the Mary Celeste and decides to write an outlandish short story about what took place. This story causes quite a sensation back in the United States, particularly between sought-after Philadelphia spiritualist medium Violet Petra and a rational-minded journalist named Phoebe Grant, who is seeking to expose Petra as a fraud. Then there is the family of the Mary Celeste‘s captain, a family linked to the sea for generations and marked repeatedly by tragedy. Each member of this ensemble cast holds a critical piece to the puzzle of the Mary Celeste.

These three elements—a ship found sailing without a crew, a famous writer on the verge of enormous success, and the rise of an unorthodox and heretical religious fervor—converge in unexpected ways, in diaries, in letters, in safe harbors and rough seas. In a haunted, death-obsessed age, a ghost ship appearing in the mist is by turns a provocative mystery, an inspiration to creativity, and a tragic story of the disappearance of a family and of a bond between husband and wife that, for one moment, transcends the impenetrable barrier of death.

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Lawless by Jeffrey Salane, read by Angie, on 04/05/2014

M Freeman has gotten accepted to the Lawless School. After a very strange interview, she is whisked away from her mother and her home. Her life before of tutors and homeschooling is over. But the Lawless School is not what it seems. The classes are not your normal classes and this is not your normal boarding school. It is a school where the children of exceptional criminals come to learn their craft. Turns out her parents aren’t art restorers and dealers, but art thieves. Her dad was a graduate of Lawless and may have been killed because of something he learned there. M (yes that is her full name) discovers that her tutors have been preparing her for this life of crime her entire life. She has been born a thieve and she is good at it.

This is a crazy thrill-ride of a book. The school itself is insane in the extreme, but really fun. M never knows who she can trust and that seems to change on a daily basis. There is of course a huge mission, a secret code, a message from her dead dad, and an end of the world scenario. The story is in no way believable or possible and the twist at the end is just a little too strange for my tastes. However, it is a fun book if you don’t think about the improbability of it all.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery · Tags:

The Shadow Collector's Apprentice by Amy Gordon, read by Leslie, on 03/31/2014

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In the summer of 1963, after his father has inexplicably disappeared leaving Cully with his three eccentric aunts on their barely profitable apple farm, Cully goes to work for a mysterious antiques dealer who has the strange hobby of collecting shadows.

Another good read for both boys and girls, from Amy Gordon.  A bit of mystery rolled in with suspense and history.  Some of it is a bit far-fetched for me, but not for kids.  They will enjoy this one as a Mark Twain nominee.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery · Tags:

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, read by Leslie, on 03/30/2014

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When the original Star Spangled Banner is stolen, seventh-graders Anne, José, and Henry, all descendants of the Silver Jaguar Society, pursue suspects on airport carts and through baggage handling tunnels while stranded at a Washington, D.C., airport during a snowstorm.

A great first in a mystery series for young readers.  While easy for me to see where the plot is heading, kids will definitely enjoy the twists and turns the author takes them on.  A Mark Twain nominee, I can recommend this to both boys and girls.

02. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone, read by Madeline, on 03/14/2014

In an elite college in a once-decaying New England city, Steven Brookman has come to a decision. A brilliant but careless professor, he has determined that for the sake of his marriage, and his soul, he must extract himself from his relationship with Maud Stack, his electrifying student, whose papers are always late and too long yet always incandescent. But Maud is a young woman whose passions are not easily contained or curtailed, and their union will quickly yield tragic and far-reaching consequences.

As in Robert Stone’s most acclaimed novels, here he conjures a complex moral universe where nothing is black and white, even if the characters—always complicated, always compelling—wish it were. The stakes of Brookman and Maud’s relationship prove higher than either one could have anticipated, pitting individuals against one another and against the institutions meant to protect them.

Death of the Black-Haired Girl is a powerful tale of infidelity, accountability, the allure of youth, the promise of absolution, and the notion that madness is everywhere, in plain sight.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb, read by Leslie, on 03/14/2014

Thankless in Death (In Death, #37)

As the household of NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke prepares for an invasion of family and friends for Thanksgiving, an ungrateful son decides to stop the nagging from his parents – by ending their lives.

I find it amusing that Eve does not know what to do with all the family she is slowly accumulating.  And while trying to solve a murder used to give her an excuse to not attend family functions and parties, you can see her character evolving enough to enjoy them.  Another great Eve Dallas murder novel.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Calculated in Death by J.D. Robb, read by Leslie, on 03/07/2014

Calculated in Death (In Death, #36)

When Marta Dickenson, a well-off accountant and a beloved wife and mother, is murdered, Lieutenant Eve Dallas immerses herself in her billionaire husband Roarke’s world of big business to discover who arranged a hit on an innocent woman.

Another good Eve Dallas murder, with all the right twists, enough to keep you guessing.  I like this series because it has just the right amount of romance (not much, but steamy when it’s there), and her characters are mostly believable (enough you could see the possibility.) I always recommend this series to anyone who enjoys mysteries.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

Hex House by Betty K. Levine, read by Lisa, on 03/09/2014

The house has six sides, like a hexagon. But that isn’t the reason the townspeople call it Hex House! Their vague warnings make Aggie Moon feel uneasy. What is the spell that hangs over Hex House?

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein, read by Jane, on 03/28/2014

It’s August in New York, and the only thing that’s hotter than the pavement is Manhattan D.A. Alex Cooper’s professional and personal life. Just as she’s claiming an especially gratifying victory in a rape case, she gets the call: the body of a young woman has been found in an abandoned building. The brutality of the murder is disturbing enough, but when a second body, beaten and disposed of in exactly same manner, is found off the Belt Parkway, the city’s top brass want the killer found fast, before the tabloids can start churning out ghoulish serial killer headlines.

Between dodging the bullets of the gang members who are infuriated by Alex’s most recent courtroom victory and keeping a rendezvous with a charming restaurateur, a serial killer on the loose is the last thing she needs on her plate right now. Then a third victim is found, and it becomes clear to Alex and her team that time is not on their side.

Through Alex’s peerless interrogation skills and one big break the search becomes focused on someone who has a twisted obsession with the military, and things grow increasingly dangerous when the chase leads to a chain of small, abandoned islands around New York harbor.

Once again Linda Fairstein brilliantly orchestrates a page-turning mix of cutting-edge legal issues and forensics, New York City history, and spine-tingling suspense. And at the center of it all is Alex Cooper, stunning, single-minded, accomplished, and not to be trifled with whether she’s in or out of a courtroom.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

NYPD RED 2 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp, read by Jane, on 03/14/2014

When NYPD Red arrives at a crime scene, everyone takes notice. Known as the protectors of the rich, famous, and connected, NYPD Red is the elite task force called in only for New York City’s most high-profile crimes. And Detective Zach Jordan is the best of the best, a brilliant and relentless pursuer of justice. He puts professionalism above all, ignoring his feelings for his partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald, the woman who broke his heart when they first met in the academy.

But even with their top-notch training, Zach and Kylie aren’t prepared for what they see when they’re called to a crime scene in the heart of Central Park. They arrive to find a carousel spinning round and round, its painted horses grinning eerily in the early morning dark. There is only one rider: a brutally slaughtered woman, her body tied up and dressed in a Hazmat suit, on display for the world to see.

The victim, a woman of vast wealth and even greater connections, is the fourth in a string of shocking murders that have hit the city. As the public pressure mounts, and political and personal secrets of the highest order hang in the balance, Zach and Kylie must find out what’s really behind the murderer’s rampage. But Kylie has been acting strange recently–and Zach knows whatever she’s hiding could threaten the biggest case of their careers.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Put On By Cunning by Ruth Rendell, read by Tracy, on 03/29/2014

The eleventh book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford.

Sir Manuel Camargue, Kingsmarkham’s very own celebrity flautist, dies tragically on a snowy night. His death is met with a ruling of misadventure and appears to be an open-and-shut-case. However Wexford, as the investigating officer, has a few niggling doubts.

Nineteen years later, Camargue’s entrancing daughter, Natalie, now a considerable heiress, suddenly reappears in Kingsmarkham. When her fiancé appeals to Wexford for help, believing that Natalie is using a false identity, the case of the Camargues is once more under investigation.

Events soon take a gruesome twist and the pressure is on for Wexford to discover Natalie’s true identity and to solve the mystery of the Camargue family, once and for all.

24. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags: ,

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, read by Eric, on 03/23/2014

Ten-year-old Birdie works as an apprentice for Alfred, surrogate father and bogler, in the poor, tough streets and houses of Victorian London. A boglers job is to kill the various dark monsters infesting London, and snatching up their favorite snacks, children. Birdie is the bait for the team’s salt-circle traps, and is vital to luring out the bogles. She’s proud of her work, even though it is very dangerous, and doesn’t pay well. When Miss Eames, an upper-class lady fascinated with the science of monsters, convinces Alfred to allow her to observe their work, they soon find themselves faced with monsters of both the bogle and human kind.

This is an excellent start to a new trilogy, and right up my darkened alley. The bogles are nasty, the dingy Victorian setting is ominous, and the Alfred-Birdie monster hunting team is great. The human murder mystery at the center of it all is creepy, satisfying, and makes me wish for the next book. Recommended.

19. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Some Lie and Some Die by Ruth Rendell, read by Tracy, on 03/15/2014

A mutilated body found at a rock festival.

In spite of dire predictions, the rock festival in Kingsmarkham seemed to be going off without a hitch, until the hideously disfigured body is discovered in a nearby quarry. And soon Wexford is investigating the links between a local girl gone bad and a charismatic singer who inspires an unwholesome devotion in his followers. Some Lie and Some Die is a devilishly absorbing novel, in which Wexford’s deductive powers come up against the aloof arrogance of pop stardom.

With her Inspector Wexford novels, Ruth Rendell, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, has added layers of depth, realism and unease to the classic English mystery. For the canny, tireless, and unflappable policeman is an unblinking observer of human nature, whose study has taught him that under certain circumstances the most unlikely people are capable of the most appalling crimes.

19. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

House of Stone by Barbara Michaels, read by Tracy, on 03/05/2014

When young professor of English Karen Holloway happens on a privately printed volume of verse dating from the early nineteenth century, it’s all in a day’s work. But when a battered manuscript bearing the same mysterious attribution, “Ismene, ” turns up, Karen realizes that it is an important discovery that could be the making of her academic career. Karen immerses herself in a headlong search for the true identity of the unknown author, tracking the provenance of the manuscript to Virginia’s historic Tidewater region. She is not alone in her quest; academic rivals shadow her steps, trying to gain possession of the valuable manuscript, and the locals are more inquisitive about her activities than seems natural. Fortunately, Karen has the help of her eccentric and able mentor, Peggy, whose historical expertise proves to be invaluable. And, as she painstakingly deciphers the crabbed, charred pages, she begins to wonder whether she has the assistance of Ismene herself. Is the tale of Gothic horror that Ismene tells not a novel but a memoir, the very possession of which may jeopardize Karen’s life? Ismene’s legacy calls out from the past, from an eerie world fraught with terrifying impressions of fire and ice that will not die until the painful truths that inhabit houses of stone are revealed.

19. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton, read by Tracy, on 03/01/2014

Local police stations all over the Scottish Highlands are being threatened with closure. This presents the perfect opportunity for Detective Chief Inspector Blair, who would love nothing more than to get rid of Sergeant Hamish Macbeth. Blair suggests that Cyril Sessions, a keen young police officer, visit the town of Lochdubh to monitor exactly what Macbeth does every day. Macbeth hears about Blair’s plan and is prepared to insure that Cyril returns back to headquarters with a full report. But Cyril is soon found dead and Hamish quickly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

10. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt, Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator), read by Angie, on 03/07/2014

Max Starling is the son of two actors who own a theater. One day a letter arrives from the Maharajah of Kashmir inviting them to open a theater company in India. His parents jump at the chance and make plans to leave immediately. They plan on taking Max with them, but when he arrives at the docks he finds the ship not only gone but nonexistent. He has no idea where his parents have gone or if they are in trouble. He also finds himself alone, except for his Grammie who lives next door. He has to find a way to support himself and become independent while trying to figure out what happened to his parents. His solution is to become a detective of sorts, a job he kind of fell into and found he was good at. His cases involve a lost boy, a lost dog, a lost spoon, and a lost heir. His cases offer up strange connections to the people he meets. In addition to his cases and striving for independence, Max is also hounded by a family of “long-eared” people who seem to be after his father’s fortune. Max’s father has always said he sits down with his fortune every day and Max has assumed he meant Max’s mom and Max, but did he?

I was highly entertained by this book even if it was a bit on the long side. I really enjoyed all the connections Max made through his investigations and the group of people who grew around him. He starts out with only his Grammie for support, but ends up with a whole new family of friends. I did think the investigations themselves were probably the weakest part. Max claims to be a horrible actor, nothing like his parents, but he is able to pull off disguises with nearly every case. His disguises include becoming a woman and an older man and many others. I found it hard to believe that these disguises would work; however, I loved Max’s process of getting into disguise and how the costume dictated how he would act. The mystery of Max’s parents is not solved in this book as it is the start of a planned trilogy. I am assuming that mystery will continue until the end of the series.

04. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

The Secret of Terror Castle (Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators #1) by Robert Arthur, read by Lisa, on 02/28/2014

Finding a genuine haunted house for a movie set sounds like fun — and a great way to generate publicity for the Three Investigators’ new detective agency. But when the boys arrive for an overnight visit at Terror Castle — home of a deceased horror-movie actor — they soon find out how the place got its name!

04. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lisa, Mystery

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley, read by Lisa, on 02/02/2014

On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train’s arrival in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear.

Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd…

Who was this man, what did his words mean, and why were they intended for Flavia? Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test.

Following a trail of clues sparked by the discovery of a reel of film stashed away in the attic, she unravels the deepest secrets of the de Luce clan, involving none other than Winston Churchill himself.

Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office – and making spectacular use of Harriet’s beloved Gypsy Moth plane, Blithe Spirit – Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Drama, Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg, read by Pamela, on 02/27/2014

baby girlDena Nordstrom, a 70′s television news person, is on her way up the ladder of success when she gets side tracked by illness and a desire to find out what happened to her mother.  Her mother disappeared one Christmas when Dena was young, never to be heard from again.

There is a colorful cast of characters within the pages of this book.  Norma and Macky Warren and Aunt Elner from Elmwood Springs, Missouri, cousins and aunt, respectively, nutty in their own way, and so proud of Dena; Ira Wallace and Sidney Capello, two cut throat modern day sleaze journalists; and Sookie, Dena’s college roommate, who would do just about anything for her; Kappa sisters forever.

The book quickly wraps up in the last several pages with an ending I didn’t see coming.  More to come in the Elmwood Springs series with “Standing in the Rainbow”.