03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman, read by Madeline, on 02/22/2014

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative-if not all legal-businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband-or all of his money-might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover-until her remains are eventually found in a secluded wooded park.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealously, resentment, greed, and longing stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women: a faithful wife, a dead mistress, and three very different daughters. And at the center is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten by the five women who loved him: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.

02. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Noelle

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, read by Noelle, on 02/08/2014

WICKEDLY WONDERFUL!

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter
Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims– a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. With its taut, crafted writing, “Sharp Objects” is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

 

28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, read by Courtney, on 02/21/2014

Josie Moraine is not your typical 1950′s teenager. To start with, most of the girls she’s met are not the daughters of New Orleans prostitutes. Most girls haven’t even set foot inside a French Quarter brothel. Josie’s been making money cleaning one up every morning for years. The brothel’s madame, Willie, is more like a mother to Josie than Josie’s real mother. Josie’s father is not even remotely in the picture. Her father figure is a local writer and book store owner who long ago gave Josie a room above the shop that she could escape to when circumstances got too tough. The store is currently run by the writer’s son, Patrick as the father is sick with what a modern reader can only assume is Alzheimer’s. Josie is done with high school and is hoping desperately to be able to leave New Orleans in the near future. When a wealthy man walks into her bookstore and speaks to her of colleges out east, Josie starts dreaming. Then the wealthy man turns up dead. Her mother leaves town with her abusive ex, Cincinnati, which also leaves a fair amount of drama in their wake. In the meantime, Josie is introduced to a girl her age who attends college at Smith and encourages Josie to apply as well. Josie becomes fixated on the dream of attending the prestigious all-women’s college, but circumstances seem to be conspiring to keep her in New Orleans.
Out of the Easy is a lovely period piece that transports the reader to a colorful era of New Orleans history. Josie’s is anything but sheltered. She brushes up against some of the roughest characters in the French Quarter, but always manages to keep her wits about her. She’s smart and tough. The other characters in our story are fantastic as well. Willie is the perfect madam-with-a-heart-of-gold. She’s shrewd and tough, but clearly cares deeply about Josie’s well-being. Josie’s mother is a complete terror and her ex, Cincinnati is palpably creepy. While the book is billed as a mystery, Josie does not fulfill the traditional book role of a teen spy who is somehow able to solve a murder all by herself. In fact, Josie is only interested in the murder because she developed an affinity for a man she had only met once. She sees in him a possible father, as far from the truth as it may be. She knows she’s desperate for a father and acknowledges that this desperation is likely why she cares anything about the murder of a wealthy tourist. It isn’t until she finds his watch in her mother’s room after her mother skips town that Josie begins to suspect this murder might involve people she knows. Even then, she doesn’t fill her time trying to track a killer, which is actually a really refreshing change of pace. The murder definitely affects her life, but not in the way that it might in most YA mysteries. What really shines in this book is the character development and the sense of place created by Sepetys. Out of the Easy is a wonderfully nuanced and layered novel.

28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Mystery, Teen Books

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale, read by Courtney, on 02/09/2014

Kippy Bushman has lived in Friendship, WI for her entire life. It’s a nice, small, cozy town. The kind of place where everyone goes out of their way to be nice and they’re polite even if they’re upset. Thus it is a considerable shock when Kippy’s best friend, Ruth Fried, is found dead. In a cornfield. Strung up from a tree like a scarecrow. It’s a particularly vicious murder by any town’s standards, but for Friendship, it’s downright unthinkable. The town is paralyzed with the loss. Kippy is given the unsettling task of deciphering Ruth’s terrible handwriting in her journal so that she can redact “the sex parts” for Mrs. Fried’s benefit. Bit by bit, we learn more about Ruth, who, as it turns out, is not a particularly nice person. Kippy is stunned by the terrible things Ruth wrote about her and is left feeling rather conflicted. Ruth was, after all, everything that Kippy was not. Ruth was the party girl; the one who would steal another girl’s boyfriend just for the fun of it. There were plenty of people who weren’t sorry to see Ruth dead, in spite of their crocodile-tear-filled TV interviews to the contrary. The police are so anxious to put the case to rest that they quickly arrest Ruth’s boyfriend and keep him in custody. While Kippy doesn’t like the boyfriend, she is forced to admit to herself that the facts don’t add up. The killer is still out there and it’s very likely that he wasn’t a stranger. Kippy teams up with Ruth’s brother, Davey, and her neighbor, Ralph, to do some investigating of their own, much to the chagrin of the Friendship Sheriff’s department.
I picked this one up because it was billed as a sort of “Fargo-meets-Mean-Girls” premise, but I don’t know if that’s really accurate. It is most definitely a darkly comedic whodunit, so it bears at least some similarity to Fargo (minus the woodchipper, mercifully), but that’s where the similarities end. Honestly, I can’t really compare this to anything else I’ve read; this book takes some very strange turns. I did enjoy Kippy as a character, even if she was a bit hard to relate to. She has a sweet relationship with her father. Many of my favorite characters in this book, however, were introduced very late in the book and left me wishing they’d turned up earlier. While this is relatively straight-forward mystery, the plot takes some very unexpected paths to get there. I kind of wish that the pacing had been more even, but I was reading while on vacation, so my attention may not have been as consistent as usual (which is, of course, my fault and not the book’s). Overall, a very original and darkly humorous twist on the teen murder mystery.

28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Mystery, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, read by Courtney, on 02/03/2014

Until he was 10, Jasper “Jazz” Dent lived with his father, Billy. Then his father was caught and arrested for the brutal murders of scores of women. Now, Jasper lives with his grandmother and tries his best to live as normal a life as a kid can live when said kid spent his formative years being raised by a serial killer. His grandmother is completely insane and blames Jazz’s long-absent (likely dead) mother for Billy’s violent tendencies. The rest of the town of Lobo’s Nod regards Jazz with unease. Everyone suspects he’ll turn out just like his father. The only two people who are willing to treat Jazz as a person wholly different from Billy are his girlfriend Connie and best friend Howie (who happens to suffer from extreme hemophilia).
Jazz’s upbringing makes him eternally convinced that he might still be just like his father, even though most signs point otherwise. Instead, Jazz uses the skills he learned from his father to investigate a local murder that seems strikingly similar to one his father might have committed. If his father wasn’t already in jail, that is. Unfortunately, local law enforcement doesn’t seem too keen on having the teenaged son of a serial killer helping them out with their current case load, so Jazz and his friends are more or less on their own. Then the body count starts rising and even the police realize that they might just need Jazz’s help to stop the killer before he can claim anyone else.
I Hunt Killers is a fun, bloody, fast-paced thriller. Comparisons to Dexter/Castle/Hannibal are inevitable, but not entirely accurate. Jazz knows the mind of a serial killer, but he comes across as far too empathetic to be a killer himself. Connie and Howie are great characters; they also have the bonus qualities of being about the last two people Jazz would ever hurt if he did ever turn to killing. The plot is a bit on the preposterous side, but it’s still an intriguing concept. I assigned this to my high school book club and a great discussion ensued.

26. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson, read by Tracy, on 02/14/2014

In this outstanding first novel, Craig Johnson draws on his background in law enforcement and his deep attachment to the American West to produce a literary mystery of stunning authenticity, and full of memorable characters.

Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

26. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Walker in Shadows by Barbara Michaels, read by Tracy, on 02/02/2014

The house next door to Pat Robbins—eerily identical to the home Pat shares with her college-aged son, Mark—has been empty for years, the darkness within seeming to warn all to stay away. Now new tenants are moving in: affable Josef Friedrichs and his lovely daughter, Kathy, who has stolen Mark’s heart on first glance. But something is not right—something old and secret lurking in the shadows that fresh paint and new furnishings cannot mask or exorcise. There is evil alive in the heart of the house next door—and it means to feed on the fears of two families . . . and drag Kathy Friedrichs with it into peril.

23. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Doll Bones by Holly Black, read by Angie, on 02/21/2014

Zach, Poppy and Alice are best friends who like to play games full of imagination and story. Their stories usually center around The Queen, who is a old doll in a glass case in Poppy’s house. One day Poppy decides to take her out of the case and the doll starts speaking to her. It turns out the doll is made of bone china using the bones of a little girl named Eleanor. The three friends head out on a quest to return Eleanor to her grave.

I really enjoyed the friendship between Zach, Alice and Poppy; it was nice to see boys and girls as friends. I do wish they wouldn’t have included the love interest bit, but overall it was a good friendship that can overcome disagreements and quests. I thought Eleanor’s story was creepy and spooky. I loved how the kids figured it out (using the library). Fun, little mystery story.

18. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Case of the Ice Cold Hands by Erle Stanley Gardner, read by Tracy, on 02/15/2014

Supposed You had Embezzeld Some Money -
and bet it on the nose on a long shot, at fifty to one. And the horse came in first. With your winnings you could easily replace the money you had embezzled and still have a big profit. But when you went to cash in your winning tickets, your employer was there with a cop to arrest you for embezzlement – and to take over your winnings. According to him, the money had always been his and the fact that you had made a lucky bet and intended to replace the money you had “borrowed” wouldn’t stop you from going to jail or him from collecting the profits. Would that be cause for murder?

18. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Do or Diner by Christine Wenger, read by Tracy, on 02/12/2014

When Trixie Matkowski agrees to take over her aunt’s diner, she pictures lakeside views and delicious comfort food in the small town where she spent summers as a child. But the sweet scene turns sour when someone puts murder on the menu…

Trixie is in need of a fresh start away from her cheating ex-husband, but she may be biting off more than she can chew when she moves to upstate New York to run her family’s famed Silver Bullet Diner. Not only is she caught off guard by the small town’s resident heartthrob, Deputy Ty Brisco, but her first health inspection turns into a nightmare…when the inspector keels over in his Blue Plate Special.

It seems someone made a deadly addition to an old family recipe, and Trixie is determined to find out whodunit. But between serving up orders and sniffing out clues, she’d better watch her back—or her next meal might be her last.

Includes recipes!

18. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Tracy

Stitches in Time by Barbara Michaels, read by Tracy, on 02/09/2014

When an antique bridal quilt appears under mysterious circumstances at the vintage clothing shop where Rachel Grant works, she is fascinated. She has never been able to resist handmade textiles from the past, for she believes that through the ages, women wove protective magic into their fabrics in order to mark the important events of their lives: birth, marriage, and death.

But there is more than good in the quilt’s magic power. Day by day Rachel sees and feels the power growing, as she senses the quilt influencing her thoughts and actions. Much as Rachel’s logical mind longs to deny the supernatural, the aura of evil coming from the quilt is terrifyingly real, and it seems to carry a sinister legacy into the lives of the people Rachel loves.

18. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Hide and Seek by Kate Messner, read by Angie, on 02/17/2014

Anna, Henry and Jose are back for another adventure. This time they are headed to Costa Rica to find the legendary Jaguar Cup. The cup was supposed to be on display in Washington, DC, but a fake was in its place. Turns out the cup has been stolen and it is up to the Jaguar Society to find it. The kids are once again on their own with their parents stuck in San Jose. And once again the culprits are right under their noses. It is a race through the jungle with deadly snakes, bullet ants, swinging rope bridges and zip lines. It is a fast paced adventure mystery with lots of twists and turns.

I think Kate Messner writes great mysteries that kids will really enjoy. Anna, Henry and Jose are all smart and creative thinkers. I really liked Sofia and the knowledge of the jungle she brought to the book. I was glad this one didn’t rely as heavily on the stereotypes as the first one. Anna isn’t in junior investigative reporter mode the entire time and Jose’s nose isn’t always stuck in a book. Henry however is still the same video game obsessed kid he was in Capture the Flag. I think once Messner gets him totally fleshed out this series will really take off.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury, read by Courtney, on 11/13/2012

Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.

Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.

Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, read by Helen, on 12/30/2012

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime by Mark Haddon, read by Helen, on 11/30/2012

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, fifteen-year-old Christopher is autistic and everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Damage by John Lescroart, read by Helen, on 09/30/2012

The Curtlees are the most powerful family in San Francisco, unscrupulous billionaires who ve lined every important pocket in the Bay Area in pursuit of their own ascent. So when the family’s heir, Ro Curtlee, was convicted of rape and murder a decade ago, the fallout for those who helped to bring him to justice was swift and uncompromising. The jury foreman was fired from his job and blacklisted in his industry. The lead prosecutor was pushed off the fast track, her dreams of becoming DA dashed. And head homicide detective Abe Glitsky was reassigned to the police department s payroll office. Eventually, all three were able to rebuild their fragile, damaged lives.

And then Ro Curtlee’s lawyers won him a retrial, and he was released from jail.
Within twenty-four hours, a fire destroys the home of the original trial’s star witness, her abused remains discovered in the ruins. When a second fire claims a participant in the case, Abe is convinced: Ro is out for revenge. But with no hard evidence and an on-the-take media eager to vilify anyone who challenges Ro, can Abe stop the violence before he finds himself in its crosshairs? How much more can he sacrifice to put Ro back behind bars? And just how far across the line is he prepared to go in pursuit of justice?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

An absolute gentleman by R.M. Kinder, read by Helen, on 08/30/2012

Based on the authors real-life relationship with a convicted murderer, this gripping first novel delves with subtlety and nuance–rather than violence and sensationalism–into the mind of a serial killer.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Blacklight Blue by Peter May, read by Helen, on 04/30/2012

Enzo MacLeod, a Scot who is teaching forensics at Cahors in southwest France, thinks that he can use his expertise to crack seven notorious murders described in a book by Parisian journalist Roger Raffin. After solving the first two, Enzo is diagnosed with a terminal illness. And now it appears hes the target of someone intent on destroying his credit and getting him arrested for murder. Establishing a safe house for his loved ones, he sets to work. Are his woes connected to one of Raffins unsolved cases? What further remnants of evidence can he review? Can he stay alive until he catches the long-hidden killer?

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Mystery

Innocent Blood by P.D. James, read by Helen, on 04/30/2012

Adopted as a child into a privileged family, Philippa Palfrey fantasizes that she is the daughter of an aristocrat and a parlor maid. The terrifying truth about her parents and a long-ago murder is only the first in a series of shocking betrayals. Philippa quickly learns that those who delve into the secrets of the past must be on guard when long-buried horrors begin to stir.

11. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Redemption by Frederick Turner, read by Helen, on 03/30/2012

Francis Muldoon is a special policeman in the notorious Storyville District of New Orleans in 1913. His job is to see that the District’s volatile mixture of sex, alcohol, and gambling doesn’t boil over but instead rolls along at a continuous simmer. Once a member of the city’s regular police force, he now works for the District’s vice lord, Tom Anderson, patrolling his patron’s honky-tonks and saloons and whorehouses—both the high-priced bordellos and the coffinlike cribs where the girls work with only a cot and a washbasin.  When Adele, a beautiful singer at the Tuxedo dance hall, draws Francis into a contentious rivalry for her affection, a fatal shootout is the inevitable conclusion, sending the District into a scalding eruption and revealing the central characters for what they are.

Filled with the rich atmosphere of America’s most colorful city,Redemption is the powerfully told tale of a man’s efforts to restore the integrity of his soul.