05. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Top Secret Twenty-one by Janet Evanovich, read by Leslie, on 08/31/2014

19004663  Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in.

Another good book to laugh through, Janet Evanovich has done it again.  Stephanie manages to avoid marriage to either Joe or Ranger, blow up several cars and her apartment, have a run-in with a naked bail jumper and find homes for a pack of Chihuahuas.  Lulu is at her finest, as is Grandma, who is working her way through a bucket list.  Love this series.

05. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch, read by Leslie, on 08/28/2014

17381993  A civil war rages between the Glorious Path–a militant religion based on the teachings of a former US soldier–and what’s left of the US government. Fifteen-year-old Callum Roe and his younger brother, James, were captured and forced to convert six years ago. Cal has been working in the Path’s dog kennels, and is very close to becoming one of the Path’s deadliest secret agents. Then Cal befriends a stray dog named Bear and kills a commander who wants to train him to be a vicious attack dog. This sends Cal and Bear on the run, and sets in motion a series of incredible events that will test Cal’s loyalties and end in a fierce battle that the fate of the entire country rests on.

I did like this story, of what could happen should extreme religious beliefs take over in our country.  Sometimes I felt the storyline could have delved a little deeper but overall, a very good story and moral to take heed of.  It wasn’t until the end that I even understood why the dog was such a focal point of the story.  Some of the characters seemed shallow and fairly unnecessary at times but added to the plot in their own way.  I don’t know that younger readers will understand the implications of such a story but older teens will find it a good read.

05. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead, read by Leslie, on 08/13/2014

8709524 In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

Book #5 in the Bloodlines series, we are once again drawn into the periphery world of vampires and their society.  Adrian, searching for his love, Sydney, bounces between despair and euphoria.  Sydney hedges all her bets on being saved by her friends, and they do not disappoint.  The two manage to find a way to stay together, but the road may not be as smooth as they hope.  Looking forward to the next installment.

05. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau, read by Leslie, on 08/06/2014

13326831  Sixteen-year-old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen to participate in The Testing to attend the University; however, Cia is fearful when she figures out her friends who do not pass The Testing are disappearing.

Very similar to the Hunger Games in how the country is divided into groups, how the Testing is conducted, the potential romance between 2 of the characters.  Though there was enough difference that is was not an exact copycat version, still close enough to make it not as interesting, to me, at least.  Rather than expecting the citizens to live in poverty, education and science are encouraged.  Citizens live fairly well but cannot live outside their areas unless needed elsewhere for their knowledge, due to the environmental disaster that has ruined the land.  Where in the Hunger Games, there is only one expected winner, no one is encouraged to kill, but it isn’t discouraged and Cia finds out quickly that she can only trust certain members of her potential class.  Teens will enjoy the read.

05. September 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Ruins by Dan Wells, read by Leslie, on 08/01/2014

Ruins (Partials Sequence, #3) There is no avoiding it—the war to decide the fate of both humans and Partials is at hand. Both sides hold in their possession a weapon that could destroy the other, and Kira Walker has precious little time to prevent that from happening. She has one chance to save both species and the world with them, but it will only come at great personal cost.

Just had to read the last installment of the trilogy, but though it tied all the strings together, I just did not feel the ending did justice to the storyline.  Some people died, the opposing forces finally worked together to stop fighting and try to survive, but I feel they left a lot out that could have been addressed.  Maybe another book is forthcoming?  Teens will enjoy this if they like the Hunger Games and similar books.

 

 

06. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Fragments by Dan Wells, read by Leslie, on 07/21/2014

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After discovering the cure for RM, Kira Walker sets off on a terrifying journey into the ruins of postapocalyptic America and the darkest desires of her heart in order to uncover the means—and a reason—for humanity’s survival.

While we have gotten a lot of gadgets from science fiction stories as life imitates art, I can only hope that we never see stories of post apocalyptic earth ever come true.  The series is definitely a story of perseverance and the human spirit never giving up.  A thrilling, can’t wait to see what happens next, kind of story, a good young adult series.

06. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Murder on St. Mark's Place by Victoria Thompson, read by Leslie, on 07/13/2014

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As a midwife in the turn-of-the-century tenements of New York City, Sarah Brandt has seen suffering and joy, birth and death-and even murder. And the crime ridden streets of the teeming city offer little relief from either.

Thinking she has been summoned by German immigrant Agnes Otto to usher a new life into the world, Sarah Brandt is greeted by the news of an untimely death instead. It seems that Agnes’s beautiful younger sister, Gerda, had fallen into the life of a “Charity Girl.” Caught up in the false glamour of the city’s nightlife, she would trade her company – and her favors – not for money, but for lavish gifts and an evenings’ entertainment. And now she was dead; victim, no doubt, of one of her “gentlemen friends.”

No one cares much about the fate of girls like Gerda, but Sarah does. And she vows to find her killer. To do so, she turns to Sergeant Frank Malloy. As the two pursue an investigation that leads from the bright lights of Coney Island to the stately homes of Fifth Avenue, they find that their shared passion for justice may cost them dearly…

A quick read series, this is the 3rd one, and very enjoyable.  I just wonder when Sarah and Sergeant Malloy will figure out that each is finding the other good company to be with.  While they use the murders as the main reason to see each other, at some point they need to spend time together when not solving mysteries.  I find the historical aspect of the stories fascinating and learn things I really had no idea about, this book clued me into what a Charity Girl was, I had never heard the term before.

06. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

The Ninja Librarian: the Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey, read by Leslie, on 07/07/2014

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Dorrie and her brother Marcus accidently open a portal to Petrarch’s Library, where they discover a secret society of warrior librarians who travel in time, protecting the world’s greatest thinkers from torture and death for sharing knowledge and ideas.

I picked this one because of the title, obviously!  It is a cute little story that kids might enjoy fantasizing that might happen to them.  You drop accidently into another world you never knew existed and find yourself wanting to spend more time there.  A good read, with both a main girl and boy protagonist, so it should appeal to both as readers.

06. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris, read by Leslie, on 07/02/2014

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Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new series, more of what she wrote in the Sooky Stackhouse series, or something entirely new.  Well, it’s kind of a mix, there’s a vampire, a psychic, a witch, some regular folks and a few still mysterious.  They all keep to themselves for the most part, but stick together, as only small town folks do.  I did enjoy this series, slightly different and quirky from her previous writings.  A good recommend to anyone who enjoys a little mystery mixed with the unknown.

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.

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.