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.

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

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, read by Jane, on 06/23/2014

Introducing Gideon Crew: trickster, prodigy, master thief

GIDEON’S SWORD

At twelve, Gideon Crew witnessed his father, a world-class mathematician, accused of treason and gunned down.

At twenty-four, summoned to his dying mother’s bedside, Gideon learned the truth: His father was framed and deliberately slaughtered. With her last breath, she begged her son to avenge him.

Now, with a new purpose in his life, Gideon crafts a one-time mission of vengeance, aimed at the perpetrator of his father’s destruction. His plan is meticulous, spectacular, and successful.

But from the shadows, someone is watching. A very powerful someone, who is impressed by Gideon’s special skills. Someone who has need of just such a renegade.

For Gideon, this operation may be only the beginning . . .

26. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense · Tags:

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, read by Jane, on 06/19/2014

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.

26. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Bryan, Fiction, Mystery

The Bat by Jo Nesbo, read by Bryan, on 06/25/2014

index0M68J1B0This is the first book in the Harry Hole series.  Hole, who is one of Norway’s top detectives, is sent to Australia to observe an investigation of a murder of a Norwegian.  However, his instincts kick in and he is drawn into the investigation.  Nesbo does a good job introducing a cast of quirky characters, but I felt that maybe there were too many.  Some of them blended together and were just difficult to keep straight.  The plot was good, but slowed at times to give back story (it is the first in the series).  All that being said, I will definitely read more of the series.

25. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Pamela

Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well by Nancy Atherton, read by Pamela, on 06/02/2014

aunt dimityWhen a strapping young Australian named Jack MacBride arrives in Finch to wrap up his late uncle’s affairs, heads turn in the sleepy English village. But when Lori volunteers to help Jack clear out his uncle’s overgrown garden, they discover something even more shocking than a stranger turning up in Finch. After Lori laughingly tosses a coin into the garden’s old well and makes a wish, she is baffled to find that the wish seems to have come true. Word spreads, and the villagers turn out in droves to make wishes of their own. But as they soon learn, one person’s wish is another person’s worst nightmare and the village is thrown into chaos. As more and more wishes come true, Lori resolves to find out what’s really going on. Is handsome Jack somehow tricking his neighbors? Or are they fooling themselves? With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help, Lori discovers that the truth is even more marvelous than a magical wishing well.

25. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Food, Mystery, Tammy · Tags:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke, read by Tammy, on 06/25/2014

chocolate chipFirst book in a fun, light, cozy mystery series with recipes! Hannah Swensen keeps busy running The Cookie Jar, a bakery in the town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Her life takes a sudden turn when the local dairy’s deliveryman is found murdered behind her bakery with her cookies scattered all around him, she decides she’d better find the killer herself. 

 

25. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff, read by Angie, on 06/24/2014

Mila and her father are heading to the United States to visit his old friend Matthew. Before they leave they are informed that Matthew has disappeared. They take the trip anyway in the hopes of finding Matthew. Once they arrive seems are not what they seem. Matthew’s wife Suzanne doesn’t seem that concerned about his disappearance and their home seems like anything but a happy one. Mila and Gil head to upstate New York in their quest to find Matthew. What they discover there further changes their perception of the situation. Mila is good at noticing things other people don’t notice and she knows things are not what they seem. The more they learn the less they seem to know about what is really going on. 

This was a real page-turner. I enjoyed Mila as a character. She is very different than most people around her, but really well crafted. I liked her relationship with her parents and the fact that they really seemed to know each other. While her faith in what she knows might have been rocked a bit by the trip, Mila has a very strong foundation to fall back on. I thought the mystery of why Matthew disappeared was also very intriguing. This isn’t your typical who-dunit type of mystery, but more of an unraveling of a damaged person. While not all our questions are answered, the conclusion is very satisfying. 

24. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin, read by Angie, on 06/23/2014

Nicole Castro is a pretty, popular girl who seems to have it all. She is athletic, has a perfect boyfriend, has won a beauty contest, is smart. This all changes when someone throws acid in her face scarring her and ruining her perfect beauty. Nicole doesn’t see who throws the acid and seems to retreat into her home with her mom as her only companion. Jay Nazarro is coming back to school after a humiliating experience. Jay suffers from seizures and had a horrible one during a school assembly. Jay is super smart and a skilled hacker, but a bit of a loner and definitely from the poor side of town. Jay and Nicole meet in the counselor’s office and Jay becomes obsessed with figuring out who threw the acid. The police don’t seem to be making any headway so Jay thinks he can use his hacking skills to do better. Jay and Nicole start hanging out and become friends which pushes Jay even more to figure out the mystery.

This was a compelling read. Once the story really got started I didn’t want to put it down. The story is told from Jay’s point of view and he has a fantastic voice. I liked how much depth these characters had. I thought their friendship was pretty believable as was the reactions of those around them. We get additional glimpses into Nicole’s life through her diary entries and the notes from her psychiatrist. I thought the mystery of who actually threw the acid and why was also interesting. Looking back I can see the clues, but during the reveal it was a surprise. I like that there were twists and turns in the investigation that left the reader wandering what was really going on. I guess my only big complaint was a storyline that seemed to go nowhere. Nicole has a young friend who is dying in the hospital. She visits her and is upset when she dies. However, we never really learn who this girl is and what her connection to Nicole is. Seemed like a storyline with no point and pulled the reader from the real story taking place. I think it could have been eliminated with no issues to the plot. Other than that I really liked the book. 

24. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Tammy · Tags: , ,

Skin Game by Jim Butcher, read by Tammy, on 06/22/2014

skin gameOur intrepid hero, Harry Dresden, wizard of the White Council, Winter Knight of Mab’s court and former private detective in Chicago returns for another adventure. Mab promises his services to one of Harry’s arch-enemies to fulfill a promise so Harry has no choice but to go along and help him with a heist. Not just any heist. A holy relic from the vault of an ancient god, of course. Butters, Murphy and Michael all feature prominently in this tale too.

 

23. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

The Body in the Woods by April Henry, read by Angie, on 06/21/2014

Alexis, Nick and Ruby are all volunteers with Portland Search and Rescue. They are out in the woods searching for a missing man when they discover a dead body. It isn’t just any dead body however, it is a murdered girl. And she isn’t the first murdered, homeless girl discovered in Portland. There is a serial killer on the loose stalking homeless girls throughout the city. Soon the three teens find themselves deeper and deeper into the case despite the warnings from the police and their parents. Turns out the killer might have taken an interest in one of the girls. Is it Alexis or Ruby? Can they figure out who the killer is before its too late?

This was a fun, fast read. I liked the search and rescue aspect of the story and the fact that teens really can volunteer for SAR groups. I thought the mystery was interesting and who the killer is isn’t revealed until late in the book. I think April Henry does a great job writing teen mysteries and while I liked Girl Stolen better, I did very much enjoy this one. 

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

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones, read by Angie, on 06/19/2014

Sam Toop lives with his father in their funeral home Constable and Toop. Sam is different from most people in that he can see and hear ghosts. He is known as a “Talker” in the ghost community. Sam is surprised when his uncle Jack, who he didn’t know existed, shows up one night. Jack is on the run after killing a copper and Sam’s dad reluctantly lets him hide out. 

Lapsewood is perfectly happy to spend his afterlife shuffling paperwork for the Bureau. His afterlife is thrown into a tizzy when he is sent into the human realm to figure out what has happened to one of the Bureau’s agents. Lapsewood discovers that someone has been exorcising the residential ghosts in London and a house without its ghosts becomes contaminated with the Black Rot. Lapsewood teams up with a rogue ghost named Tanner to figure out what is happening to the ghosts of London. 

Sam and Lapsewood and Tanner all become embroiled in the case of the disappearing ghosts and the mysterious exorcist and must figure out who is behind it all. This entertaining book gives a new look at the afterlife and what kind of bureaucracy and dangers exist for ghosts. I like the uniqueness of the story. I do however think it is a little dense and could have been pared down a bit for this age group. It is a fun story with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, a bit of danger and a bit of horror.

19. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery, Teen Books · Tags:

Shadows by Robin McKinley, read by Kira, on 06/01/2014

shadows tp edot warp realiztMaggie lives in a world being torn apart by cohesion breaks – aka cobeys, which are breaks in reality, where chunks of space are missing.  Magic has been outlawed in the Neworld where she lives, in order to cut down on the number of cobeys, which seem attracted to magic.  Her own family has had there genes chopped, so that magic doesn’t become active.  Then Maggie’s Mom remarries, and Maggie knows that there is something wrong with her new step-dad, (who’s come from the OldWorld where magic is still practices) – he seems to be surrounded by shadows.  Then all of a sudden some huge cobeys appear right where Maggie lives.  The police come out, and start hauling people away.  Maggie and her friends need to figure out what is happening and how they can stop the cobeys.  Like most of McKinley’s books this title could easily be continued in a series, but she doesn’t seem to pursue the potential series.

13. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge, read by Angie, on 06/12/2014

Every night at twelve minutes to midnight the patients at Bedlam start writing. They do not awaken and do not remember what they wrote when they wake. The modern reader will recognize the writings as events of the 20th century. However, the story takes place in 1899 and the people reading the writings have no idea what they are. Penelope Treadwell is an orphan and a writer. She is the owner and managing editor of the Penny Dreadful paper and has created storytelling sensation Montgomery Flinch. Of course, Penny herself has penned all the writings so she has to hire an actor to portray Flinch in public. The readers of the Penny Dreadful would never believe a 13-year-old girl could write such amazing stories of horror and mystery. Penny is determined to solve the mystery of the Bedlam Midnight Papers. Her investigation leads her to Lady Cambridge, the Spider Lady of Kensington. Turns out Lady Cambridge is using spider venom on the Bedlam patients so they can see the future and she can control the future. Her schemes don’t stop there however, she wants to bring all of London into madness. Penny must do some incredible things in order to stop her.

I thought the majority of this book was wonderful. I loved the mystery of the Midnight Papers and how the writers could see into the future. I thought Penny was really smart and resourceful and determined. I was entertained by Monty, the actor hired to be Montgomery Flinch. I also thought Lady Cambridge was an interesting villain. Then I got to the last section of the book and I thought it all went a bit loopy. I like mysteries that are atleast a little bit believable. I can buy a mysterious spider whose venom allows the victim to have visions. That wasn’t bad. It was when another spider’s venom was ingested by the legendary writers of the day (Doyle, Wells, Haggard, Kipling, etc.) and they were able to infect everyone with the madness who read their words. That is when Edge lost me. I wish the ending could have been stronger as this book started out so well. Not sure it will bother kids as much as it bothered me, but it was still disappointing.

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, read by Angie, on 06/06/2014

 

Cassie can read people like others read a book. She learned from her mother how to look at a given person and figure out everything about them. Cassie has been recruited by the FBI to join a new program where teenage “naturals” are trained to solve crimes. She joins the group of profilers and emotion-readers and statisticians. The group is training by looking at cold cases and trying to solve them. But their handlers Briggs and Locke are also working an actual case of a serial killer that seems to be escalating. Cassie and the others believe the killer is the same who killed her mom 5 years ago. The types of victims and the professions of some of the victims are too similar to be a coincidence. Then the killer seems to focus on Cassie. It will be up to the whole group to figure out who the killer is before he gets to Cassie.

 

I liked this book more than I thought I would. It was a gripping story with enough action to keep me interested. I liked Cassie and the other naturals and the dynamics between them. The twist on who the killer was and why they were killing was a good one and one I didn’t really see coming. This was a fun read and a good start to the series.

 

07. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, read by Courtney, on 05/26/2014

“We all have a secret buried under lock and key in the attic of our soul. This is mine.”

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his barding school in Barcelona. For seven days and seven nights no one knows his whereabouts…

His story begins in an old quarter of the city, where he meets the strange Marina and her father, Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the last Sunday of each month. At exactly ten o’clock in the morning, a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman, her face shrouded be a black velvet cloak. Holding a single rose, she walks to a gravestone that bears no name, only a mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her, they begin a journey that transports them to a forgotten, postwar Barcelona–a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons–and reveals a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.