1/29/16

Career of Evil


Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. 497 pages. *****

Robin Ellacourt was not prepared when she opened the package delivered to her at work, expecting it to be ivory cardboard-covered disposable cameras for her upcoming wedding, not a woman's severed leg! This newest story begins with a chapter from the point of view of the killer and continues with Robin's unexpected delivery and Cormoran Strike's obsession with finding the killer. Cormoran takes it very personally that the package was addressed to Robin specifically and he creates a list of 4 men from his past who could be responsible. One of those men was his stepfather who was accused of killing Cormoran's mother. The police do not seem interested in their theories, so Cormoran and Robin investigate on their own with chilling results. Robin's wedding is looming and her fiancĂ©, Matthew is unsympathetic to the long hours and their shared goal of snaring a serial killer. Psychological thriller at its best; Galbraith (Rowling) is a master storyteller. This is one of those books that you want to stay up all night reading, however, at the same time, it scares you. I recommend you read the previous titles first, the relationship between Cormoran and Robin grows in the series and you won't want to miss any of it. 

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling, best-selling author of the Harry Potter series and The Casual Vacancy. Career of Evil is the third book in the highly acclaimed Cormoran Strike crime fiction series. The Cuckoo's Calling was published in 2013 and The Silkworm in 2014. 

Quilting button pins...







I absolutely love these pins! I bought them at my LQS, The Quilt Block, Exton, PA, and they can be ordered from   Hunter's Design Studio

1/27/16

Postcards from the Sky



Postcards from the Sky: adventures of an Aviatrix by Erin Seidemann. Berkeley:She Writes Press, 2015. 239 pages. ****

How does a young girl who gets carsick, seasick and airsick become an Aviatrix and owner of a plane? It seems that once in the pilot's seat the thrill of flying overcomes the queasiness of her stomach. The reality of being a female plane owner in a male dominated world isn't easy, "where's your boyfriend" and "where's the pilot" is handled with humor. Erin's love of flying and seeing the world overcomes the crude comments and sexist treatment. She tells the story of her misadventures, love escapades and more along with the hardships and disappointments. 

Highly entertaining and enjoyable memoir. An inspirational story that proves that all things can be overcome if someone wants it enough. Erin purchased her own plane and learned to maintain it against the odds of a woman doing so. 

I received an Advance Reader Copy from BookSparks for a review.

Erin Seidemann was born and raised in New Orleans in Southern Louisiana, a part of the state often described as "south of the South." She attended Loyola University New Orleans and graduated cum laude with a degree in English writing. She recently earned her commercial pilot license and bought a twin-engine plane so she can explore more of the work. You can find more of her writing at www.agirlandherplane.com.

1/17/16

Miller's Valley


Miller's Valley: A Novel by Anna Quindlen. New York: Random House, 2016. 170 pages.
*****

Mimi Miller lives on the family farm in Miller's Valley and can't imagine life any other way. Her days are spent selling corn with her friends, LaRhonda and Donald and visiting her Aunt Ruth. The youngest of three children with two older brothers, Mimi doesn't believe that anyone ever really leaves the town they grew up in, even if they did leave. Miller's Valley has its share of secrets and family stories, everyone knows your family and no one messes with Mimi because of her war hero turned drug dealer brother, Tommy. All of the families are intertwined with the threat of their family homes being flooded by the government and one by one decide to sell and move. The Millers are stubborn about selling and are just as determined that Mimi goes to college to receive an education outside of the Valley.  As Mimi grows older and changes, so too does the Valley and its people. 

I know I am enjoying a book when I don't want to go to bed, I just want to keep reading and at the same time, don't want it to end. Told from Mimi's point of view...first love, sex, friendship, family secrets and expectations, a woman's role in the 60s, this story has it all. Sure to be a bestseller and at the top of Must Read Lists, I highly recommend Miller's Valley.

I received an electronic copy from NetGalley for a review.

Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestsellers lists. She is the author of eight novels and her memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won The Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear. Website: Anna Quindlen

1/15/16

An Old Fashioned Murder





An Old Fashioned Murder (A Moonshine Mystery) by Carol Miller. New York: Minotaur Books, 2016. 217 pages. ****


A party weekend at a redecorated Inn turns deadly when one beloved guest is killed during a record snowstorm. The sheriff is unable to navigate the snow covered roads to investigate and so amateur sleuth town baker owner at Sweetie Pies,, Daisy, and her date, Drew Alcott, soon discover that people aren't who they seem and all of the guests are suspects. Who can they trust and who has a secret to hide? The power goes out and another guest is murdered before a motive surfaces. Plot twists with a splash of Aunt Emily's moonshine adds to the intrigue. 


Very entertaining and a fun "who done it." I have not read the first two in the series and it didn't seem to matter to the story line. This is the third book in the Moonshine Mystery series. (Bk #1 Murder and Moonshine, Bk #2 A Nip of Murder) The story ends leaving the reader wondering what next, so there is sure to be a fourth book in this series. I will definitely go back and read the other two and look forward to book 4. 

I received a free copy from NetGalley for a review. 

Carol Miller is the author of the Moonshine Mystery Series. MURDER AND MOONSHINE was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Library Journal Starred Debut of the Month. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia. Visit her at carolmillerauthor.com and on Twitter @CMillerMystery.

1/7/16

put a ring on it



put a ring on it by Beth Kendrick. New York:New American Library, 2015. 253 pages. Reader's Guide. ****

As an insurance actuary, Brighton Smith doesn't do anything spontaneous and is trained to assess risk and probability. She can't understand how a disagreement with her fiancé Colin about whether she was stalling on the wedding and whether he was inviting road rage by refusing to "zipper merge" disintegrated into him demanding she return her engagement ring. She is convinced they just need to sit down and rationally discuss the situation and everything would be fine. Her safe world crumbles, when Colin calls and claims to meet Genevieve and marries her the same day. That night Brighton throws caution to the wind and decides to drink with the hot guy Jake in a bar while waiting for a friend. She's finally having fun with unexpected results that ends in a trip to Vegas. Should she return to her predictable life plan and her job as an actuary or follow her dream job as a jewelry designer in the Naked Finger and her heart in Black Dog Bay?


This is the third book in the Black Dog Bay Series. I haven't read the other two, however, I found this one entertaining and witty with likable characters in a town billed as the best place in America to get over a breakup. With names like The Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, The Rebound Saloon and the Jilted Cafe, Kendrick has a great sense of humor. With a fast-paced comfortable predictability, the story unfolds with a few twists and turns.


I received a copy from BookSparks for a review.

Beth Kendrick is the author of twelve women's fiction novels, including New Uses for Old Boyfriends, Cure for the Common Breakup, The Week Before the Wedding, The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service, and Newlyweds, which was turned into a Hallmark Channel original movie. Although she lives in Arizona, she loves to vacation at the Delaware beaches, where she brakes for turtles, eats boardwalk fries, and wishes that the Whinery really existed.

First Frost


First Frost: a novel by Sarah Addison Allen. New York: St. Martin"s Griffin, 2014. 294 pages. About the Author: Author's Note; Food for Thought: Recipes; Keep on Reading: Reading Group Questions; Special Extra: Chapter 17. *****

The story opens with the two sisters, Claire and Sydney Waverley settled in Bascom, North Carolina with their families and quiet lives. The Waverley women are known for their "special" gifts and as Fall approaches are made restless by the mischievous apple tree in the backyard of the family home. The first frost of the season brings a special magic and cause for celebration, but this year seems to take forever to appear and everyone is on edge. Claire has transformed her catering business into a new venture, Waverley Candies, which seem to promote happiness and other pleasant side effects at the cost of her own joy and self-fulfillment. Sydney, while successful at her salon, longs for a baby boy and a son for her husband. The two sisters love and support each other and have joined in raising their daughters, each feel as if something is missing in their lives. A stranger enters the town, asks questions of the family and threatens to disturb their reputation and standing in the community. Each sister must look within for the truth about themselves and each other. 


Reading Allen is like greeting an old friend, sitting down and catching up on what's new. Her characters become your friends and you want to jump in the car and visit wherever they live. First Frost is the sequel to Garden Spells, it can be read as a stand-alone, but you won't want to. Allen has such a way with words that the reader can sense the tension in the air and knows that something is coming with the first frost and nothing will be the same again. This paperback edition had an "Extra" chapter in it, the author decided one of the characters needed a "happy ending" so she added it. No spoiler here, I won't say who discovered her wings and flew! I recommend all of her books if you want to be entertained and transported to another place, her prose is lyrical and the plot is never predictable. 

I won a free paperback copy of this book from the author in a Facebook contest.

Sarah Addison Allen is the New York Times best-selling author of garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Peach Keeper, and Lost Lake.  She was born and raised in Ashville, North Carolina. Visit her web site at www.sarahaddisonallen.com.

1/3/16

Pretty Girls



Pretty Girls: A Novel  by Karin Slaughter. New York: William Morrow, 2015. 388 pages. *****


Julia has been missing for twenty-four years at the age of nineteen and the impact on not knowing what happened to her was huge for her family. The book begins with a letter from a grief stricken father to his missing daughter. Flash-forward to the present day when her two sisters have moved on in their lives and the unresolved issues of her disappearance have forced them back together. After her husband dies, Claire visits his grave only to find her sister, Lydia, urinating on it. Claire soon discovers that her privileged life in Atlanta, married to Paul Scott, a highly successful architect, came at a high cost and her husband wasn't what he seemed. Claire and Lydia join forces to discover the identity of a serial sadistic killer who has tortured and brutalized women for decades. 


Slaughter's stories are not for the faint of heart. A sadistic murderer who has escaped detection for decades targeting the innocent, this story is particularly haunting and brutal towards women. Slaughter's strength is in her ability to paint a vivid picture with words and while I recoiled from the brutality and sadistic acts, I couldn't stop reading. Just like watching the classic black and white horror films, I found myself holding my breath and fearing what was next. If you are a horror genre fan, you will not be disappointed, but if you shy away from TV shows like Criminal Minds and Bones, this is not for you.


I received an Advanced Reader's Edition from BookSparks for a review.

Karin Slaughter is a New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author. She is a native of Georgia.



The Secrets of Lizzie Borden



The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy. :Kensington Books, 2016. 320 pages. Paperback. *****

Based on the true story of the brutal murders of Abby and Andrew Border in Fall River, MA in the year 1892.  John Borden, a wealthy businessman forces his family to live frugally and without modern conveniences. To add to Lizzie and her sister Emma's frustration, Andrew is planning on leaving the bulk of his wealth to his wife Abby, their stepmother, and her family. Their father thought both girls pretentious and silly for wanting debuts, pretty dresses and marriage proposals. The only bright spot in Lizzie's existence is Bridget Sullivan, an Irish maid, who was paid a pittance until the girl's chipped in to pay her wages. Were the heat and humidity of that hot August day and the leftover mutton for breakfast contributing factors to the senseless crime? Lizzie and Bridget are the only two people in the house beside the victims. Their daughter Lizzie is accused of the crime based on her proximity and the lack of suspects. Lizzie is brought to trial and Emma can't bring herself to ask her sister the important question. 


I have always been fascinated by this unsolved crime, who doesn't remember the jump rope chant of "Lizzie Borden took an ax"? My sisters and I even traveled to Fall River, stayed in the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and visited the cemetery and museum.  Purdy presents a solid case and told from Lizze's point of view makes it a compelling story. She certainly explains some loose ends that have baffled amateur sleuths. Well-written, detailed oriented and entertaining.


I received an electronic copy from Net Galley for a review.

Brandy Purdy is the author of several historical novels. When she's not writing, she's either reading, watching classic movies, or spending time with her cat, Tabby. She first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten when she read a book of ghost stories that contained a chapter about the ghost of Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at http://www.brandypurdy.com for more information about her books. You can also follow her via her blog at http://brandypurdy.blogspot.com where she posts updates about her work and reviews of what she has been reading.

1/1/16

Promise

Update...my word for 2016 is PROMISE


Miriam Webster definition... reason to expect something promise
 of relief>; especially  :  ground for expectation of success, improvement, or excellence promise
  • The promise of tomorrow
  • The promise to be true to myself
  • The promise of getting healthier (lose those last 5 pounds and lower cholesterol level 5 more points) 
  • The promise of performing Acts of Kindness every day; look for more opportunities
  • The promise of cleaning out my sewing room and completing more quilts
  • The promise of being more creative; take more chances; explore other mediums


Happy New Year

Well, here we are and another year begins...

My Granddaughter made it to midnight and was shocked when I told her she could go outside and make noise. It was great fun! Just looking at this sweet face, makes me happy. I am so blessed with this child.




On of our New Year traditions is to choose a "word" for the New Year from the My One Word website. I had forgotten my word last year was "abundance" and I am still deciding for this year. My Granddaughter has chosen "Magnificent" and she surely is. 

I had such a great time doing the Random Acts of Kindness leading up to Christmas that I am going to look for opportunities to continue the practice. I saw a Facebook post about "Blessing Bags" and think that is something I can do. 


Photo courtesy of Amy Verder, but I'm not sure where it originated. If you know, please let me know and I will give full credit.


The "Blessing Bag" is kept in the car and given to anyone who is homeless or needing a helping hand. Some suggested items: socks, gloves, toothpaste, peanut butter crackers, traveling toothbrush, deodorant, money...anything that will fit in a plastic bag. I went to the Dollar Store today to start the process. 

I always have the best intentions about the New Year, but sometimes, it all seems so overwhelming!