07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, read by Courtney, on 06/13/2014

The Midnight Dress is a gorgeously rendered tale of murder, friendship and sewing. When Rose arrives in Leonora with her father, she is not expecting to stay very long. She and her father have been driving around Australia in their RV for years, never staying in one place for very long. She grudgingly enrolls herself in the local high school and does her best to avoid everyone. She unwittingly winds up friends with Pearl Kelly, the lovely and gregarious girl who smells of “frangipani and coconut oil”. Rose is unaccustomed to having friends and her gruff demeanor is designed to keep it that way. Pearl has a way of getting under one’s skin though and, as the Harvest Festival draws nearer, Rose finds herself heading to the seamstress Pearl recommended to have a dress made. The seamstress is an elderly woman named Edie who lives in a giant, dilapidated house at the base of the mountain. She was once a dressmaker of some renown, but has since become regarded as a witch. Rose, in spite of herself, continues to come back, week after week to help Edie hand-stitch the beautiful midnight-blue dress that Rose will wear for the Harvest Festival parade. Through it all, however, the reader knows that one of these two girls will not survive the night of the Festival. Who, how and why remain a mystery.
Each chapter begins with a flashback showing a tiny portion of the fateful night, but the information is meted out so deliberately that the reader is driven to push on in order to find out how the pieces fit together. The rest of the story is told in a more linear fashion, but is no less mysterious. Pearl and Rose make such a wonderful pair. Pearl is sweetness, dreams and light. Rose is twilight, introspection and nature. Edie’s backstory expands the world inhabited by the girls. The landscape of their coastal Australian town is as much a character as any of the humans. While there’s nothing explicitly magical about this tale, there’s something about the writing that feels as though this might be magical realism. The narrative may move slowly, but this is not a novel to rush through. Readers who stick with it will be richly rewarded by the dazzling writing, vivid landscape, and memorable characters.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas, read by Tracy, on 06/30/2014

In The Limehouse Text, Barker and Llewelyn discover a pawn ticket among the effects of Barker’s late assistant, leading them to London’s Chinese district, Limehouse. There they retrieve an innocent-looking book that proves to be a rare and secret text stolen from a Nanking monastery, containing lethal martial arts techniques forbidden to the West. With the political situation between the British Empire and Imperial China already unstable, the duo must not only track down a killer intent upon gaining the secret knowledge but also safeguard the text from a snarl of suspects with conflicting interests. 

Prowling through an underworld of opium dens, back-room blood sports, and sailors’ penny hangs while avoiding the wrath of the district’s powerful warlord, Mr. K’ing, Barker and Llewelyn take readers on a perilous tour through the mean streets of turn-of-the-century London.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense, Tracy · Tags:

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, read by Tracy, on 06/25/2014

The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

A Likeness in Stone by Julia Wallis Martin, read by Tracy, on 06/20/2014

In the spellbinding tradition of Minette Walters and Ruth Rendell, author Julia Wallis Martin crafts an intelligent, atmospheric British suspense novel as engrossing as it is original.

An entire house, long submerged in the dark waters of a reservoir, unearths a starting find: the corpse of Helena Warner, an Oxford college student who disappeared twenty years earlier. For former homicide detective Bill Driver, it means the reopening of a case that, in his mind, was never really closed. And Driver thinks he knows who did it. But three of Helena’s friends– her cold former lover Ian Gilmore, her jealous best friend Joan Poole, and talented but institutionalized artist Richard Wachmann– conspire to keep a decades-old, deadly secret from seeing the light of day…all the while, a killer continues to strike again and again.

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly, read by Tracy, on 06/06/2014

Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense, only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home. 

Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too–and he’s certain he’s on the right trail. 

Despite the danger and uncertainty, Haller mounts the best defense of his career in a trial where the last surprise comes after the verdict is in.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price, read by Kira, on 06/30/2014

Grave Witch UK aus Kapaklar3 germangravewitchKapaklar1 0cb4f2ec-7b89-4ba2-a12e-20c9d13192a1biopicIn this paranormal murder mystery, private investigator, Alex Craft is able to raise shades and talk to them about how they died.  She stumbles upon some dark ritual murders, and now she needs to track down the killer to save her own life.

Captivating World-building. Some Romance, complicated but well structured plot twists.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson, read by Leslie, on 06/29/2014

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Sprinkled with fascinating details of turn-of-the-century New York City, Thompson’s old-fashioned mystery takes the reader from the mansions of Fifth Avenue to the flophouses of the Lower East Side. Sarah Brandt is a midwife who has been estranged from her wealthy family for years. When Alicia VanDamm, a young woman from a prominent family, is murdered, Sarah must return to the upper-class society she has scorned to find the killer. Haunted by her past and disgusted by police department corruption, Sarah takes it upon herself to avenge the girl’s death.

In keeping with the murder theme of the month and always looking for writers new to me, I took this from someone’s read list to give it a try.  I enjoyed how the author immerses the reader in the New York City of old, before subways and such, I love research that draws you in.  Sarah, a young widow, finds herself drawn back to the rich society she grew up in, in order to help Malloy solve the murder of a young girl she once knew.  I loved the richness of the characters and the imagery of the city  and how society used to work, that the author weaves together. Although I started to suspect who might have committed the murder, I was wrong about who and why. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good murder, with none of the gore.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Murder on the Orient Espresso by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/27/2014

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It’s November and Maggy Thorsen, co-owner of the Wisconsin gourmet coffeehouse, Uncommon Grounds, is in South Florida at an annual crime-writers’ conference with her beau, local sheriff Jake Pavlik, who is due to speak as a ‘forensics expert’.

Maggy’s pledge to behave solely as a tourist becomes trickier than she anticipated when the conference’s opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express. As Maggy and Jake reluctantly set off on the night train to the Everglades to solve the ‘crime’, it’s clear that, as in the original novel, nothing is quite what it seems. And amidst rumours of careers taken, manuscripts stolen and vows broken, it seems that in the Everglades – as in life – the predator all too often becomes the prey.

You would think that getting away from the coffee house would give poor Maggy a break from all those murders, but no, they just keep following her around.  This time, no one in her town becomes one of the victims.  After one of the train’s occupants is found outside the train, but inside a rock python, Maggy and Jake team up to save as much information as they can for the authorities, assuming they ever get back to civilization.  And no, I did not guess the murderer until the reveal, and even then the outcome was different than her other books.  For once, Maggy is not really on the list of possible victims, although she may think so.  Love these books and hoping she comes out with more!

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Triple Shot by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/25/2014

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There’s a chill in the Wisconsin air, and it’s a shot in the arm – a triple espresso shot – to Uncommon Grounds, the Brookhills coffeehouse owned by Maggy Thorsen and real estate maven Sarah Kingston. Their new autumn drink is a huge success. But two estate agents have died lately, and Sarah herself is under investigation for irregularities at her job. Then a stench begins to percolate through the coffeehouse, and soon it’s clear that corpses – like other bad things – do indeed come in threes.

Unbeknownst to Sarah and Maggy, there is a hidden room under their train station coffee house.  What begins as a thought that the foul odor emanating through the shop is a dead animal under the floor, it turns into a dead body stashed in the bathroom of the hidden room.  Used by Mafia members and with connections to the family of their friend Tien, they are set upon by a tv show host hoping for a comeback, ala John Stossel.  When another murdered real estate agent shows up, Maggy is worried for her partner Sarah, but she ends up being the one to discover the truth and the real killer.  Once again, until revealed, Balzo keeps her murderer under wraps!

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

A Cup of Jo by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/23/2014

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Maggy Thorsen’s heart, uncharacteristically, is swelling with optimism. Sure, her original Wisconsin coffeehouse, Uncommon Grounds, was destroyed in a freak blizzard. But, with new business partner Sarah Kingston, she’s found the perfect place to relocate to – a quaint railroad station that will soon be revitalized by a new commuter-rail connection. Sarah and Maggy hope that the station’s ‘Dedication Day’ will provide great free publicity. But their dream turns into a nightmare when the event manager makes her grand appearance on the day.

It’s Dedication Day for the new commuter line and the new Uncommon Grounds and wouldn’t you know it, Maggy finds herself immersed in a murder before the coffee house evens opens for the day!  I love the way Balzo writes, she doesn’t waste too many words going over past happenings in her books and she always manages to keep the reader guessing till the end about who dunnit.  This time, I did suspect who but not why.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

From the Grounds Up by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/20/2014

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When Maggy Thorsen’s coffee house, Uncommon Grounds, is virtually obliterated by a snowstorm, she and her friend Sarah resolve to reopen – and Maggy’s found the perfect spot near the train station, just in time for the opening of the new commuter route. But when Sarah’s uncle dies suddenly, in the first of a series of ‘accidents’, it’s clear that someone doesn’t want Uncommon Grounds to reopen.

After having her first coffee house demolished by snow and her last remaining partner wanting to get out of the business, Maggy isn’t sure what to do.  In steps her friend Sarah, with not only a building for her but a business proposition.  With what seem to be accidents happening around them, Maggy and Sarah continue to plan, unaware of who is behind the accidents until it’s almost too late.  Another good, quick read, I can’t put them down!

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Brewed, Crude and Tattooed by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/19/2014

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Maggy Thorsen, co-owner of the Brookhills coffee-house Uncommon Grounds, is trapped in a shopping mall by a snow storm which cuts the electricity and phone lines. She finds the body of Way Benson, a local developer and owner of the mall. Maggy’s discovery unearths other refugees of the storm and it seems that more than one of these people has a motive for killing the arrogant Way. Then there is another murder.

Another great Maggy Thorsen mystery!  As a late snowstorm traps Maggy and her mall neighbors together, they discover the body of the owner of the mall and all wonder who could have killed the man, with lots of potential suspects.  The mall is getting ready to be sold, unbeknownst to Maggy, and she works on her list to narrow down the killer.  A quick read, Balzo keeps you wondering till the end.

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

Suspicion by Joseph Finder, read by Madeline, on 06/25/2014

When single father Danny Goodman suddenly finds himself unable to afford the private school his teenage daughter adores, he has no one to turn to for financial support.

In what seems like a stroke of brilliant luck, Danny meets Thomas Galvin, the father of his daughter’s new best friend, who also happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Galvin is aware of Danny’s situation and out of the blue offers a $50,000 loan to help Danny cover his daughter’s tuition. Uncomfortable but desperate, Danny takes the money, promising to pay Galvin back.

What transpires is something Danny never imagined. The moment the money is wired into his account, the DEA comes knocking on his door. Danny’s impossible choice: an indictment for accepting drug money that he can’t afford to fight in court, or an unthinkably treacherous undercover assignment helping the government get close to his new family friend.

As Danny begins to lie to everyone in his life, including those he loves most in the world, he must decide once and for all who the real enemy is or risk losing everything—and everyone—that matters to him.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva, read by Madeline, on 06/12/2014

Edgar Award-winner Bruce DeSilva returns with Liam Mulligan, an old-school investigative reporter for a dying newspaper in Providence, Rhode Island.  Mulligan knows every street and alley, every priest and prostitute, every cop and street thug. He knows the mobsters and politicians—who are pretty much one and the same.   

Inspired by a true story, Providence Rag finds Mulligan, his pal Mason, and the newspaper they both work for at an ethical crossroad. The youngest serial killer in history butchered five of his neighbors before he was old enough to drive. When he was caught eighteen years ago, Rhode Island’s antiquated criminal statutes—never intended for someone like him—required that all juveniles, no matter their crimes, be released at age twenty-one. The killer is still behind bars, serving time for crimes supposedly committed on the inside. That these charges were fabricated is an open secret; but nearly everyone is fine with it—if the monster ever gets out more people will surely die. But Mason is not fine with it. If officials can get away with framing this killer they could do it to anybody. As Mason sets out to prove officials are perverting the  justice system, Mulligan searches frantically for some legal way to keep the monster behind bars. The dueling investigations pit the friends against each other in a high-stakes race against time—and snares them in an ethical dilemma that has no right answer.

Providence Rag is a gripping novel of suspense by one of the rising talents in the mystery field.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Bean There, Done That by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/17/2014

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Brash, sassy Maggy Thorsen, amateur sleuth and owner of a Milwaukee coffee shop, is back in another high-speed adventure. Her bitter divorce still rankles, even after all this time, so she is shocked when her ex-husband Ted’s new trophy wife, Rachel, drops by the coffee shop and asks Maggy to help her find evidence that Ted is cheating on her.

I find myself going through all the Maggy Thorsen books I can find, they are that enjoyable.  Again, I did not see the ending until Maggy figures it out in the end.  I love the way Balzo makes you wonder if anyone that Maggy trusts is really the murderer.  The only thing to say is that if she were a real person, she would either have to be super nice or just a real sucker to help out her ex’s new wife.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Grounds for Murder by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/14/2014

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Set in Milwaukee at a scaldingly competitive trade show for the coffee industry, egos and tempers are already steaming over such burning issues as store rivalries, product quality and employee poaching. But events reach a head when coffeehouse-owner Maggy Thorsen discovers a body under a table at the conference centre.

Maggy is back, this time in charge of a coffee trade show, and once again, finds herself involved in a murder.  Who knew coffee could be deadly?  She bounces ideas about the murder off her friends, at least the ones she doesn’t suspect, and manages to always irritate the new sheriff, Jake Pavlik.  If you want a fast, good read, these are the books for you.

 

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Balzo, read by Leslie, on 06/12/2014

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Patricia Harper is dead, killed by a hot-wired espresso machine, in Uncommon Grounds, her very own gourmet coffee store! Maggy Thorsen wants to know who killed one of her partners.

As I was looking for some good mysteries to read, I happened upon this book and not only did the cover intrigue me, but the review on the front had me at the words Nancy Drew.  I found the book to be a quick read, well written, in that I could not guess the culprit until they were revealed at the end.  Sandra Balzo keeps you guessing through out the book and I highly recommend them to any mystery fan.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Mystery, Teen Books

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby, read by Leslie, on 06/09/2014

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Princess Solveig and her siblings are trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen fjord, along with her best friend and an army of restless soldiers, all awaiting news of the king’s victory in battle, but as they wait for winter’s end and the all-encompassing ice to break, acts of treachery make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst.

I found this to be a good mystery for any age, not just teens.  It’s not often that you find a well written book set in an old Nordic setting, but it was not a dry book by any means.  Solveig, the middle child between her older, beautiful sister and young brother, the heir, finds herself not only trying to define who she is and wants to be, but trying to solve the mystery they find themselves involved in.  As all well written mysteries should, this one keeps you wondering who is behind it all til the very end.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, read by Leslie, on 06/06/2014

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“FBI Agent Kate O’Hare is a force of nature, and she’s lived for one thing and one thing only: to put the slippery conman known as Nicolas Fox behind bars. Nick is a fed’s worst nightmare: exceptionally talented in his line of work, known the world over for being able to pull off some of the most dangerous, high-profile cons. In a cruel twist of fate, Kate’s bosses at the FBI force her to covertly partner up with Nick to take down big league crime. Their adventures continue in this exciting second novel in the series”

 

The second in the series of these collaborators, I enjoyed it as much as the first.  The main characters, Nicolas and Kate, once again team up to uncover who has stolen a Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian and recover it in time to avoid an international disaster.  The sparks between the characters are as evident to them as to the readers but they maintain a delicate balance to stay within the bounds of their duties.  A thoroughly good, and fast, read.

29. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, read by Leslie, on 06/02/2014

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FBI Special Agent Kate Winslow uses her own schemes to outmaneuver charming con man Danny Cole, who becomes an unlikely partner when her next mission pits her against a formidable adversary.

I picked this one up because I love all her books and I was not disappointed.  Evanovich manages to insert the snarkiness that I love about her Stephanie Plum novels, yet make this a different book, altogether.  I would recommend this one to anyone who likes her books.