Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Snake in the Glass by Sarah Atwell

This is the third in the Glassblowing Mystery series. This is funny though.  It takes up right where the first one left off.  I have not read the second book.
Em has just come back from her trip to Ireland with Allison.  Allison decided to stay there indefinitely.  She leaves it to Em to tell Cam, her brother. When Em catches up with Cam, the next day he gets very upset with Allison and Em for delivering the news.  He says he needs time alone.  He has a small job to do for someone before starting his new job the next week.  Cam has moved from San Diego to Tuscon just to be with Allison. Allison's uncle Frank comes to Tuscon from Ireland the next day.
Meanwhile, Denis has come in the shop wanting to rent studio time from Em to use the kiln to heat treat some gems.  He seems weird but Em rents time to him.  He comes and goes through the next week.  He is really strange.
No one has heard from Cam.  Em is starting to get worried.  He has been gone almost a week.  Allison comes home from Ireland and also leaves messages for Cam but hears nothing.  Then Denis mentions Cam and Em gets really worried. She files a missing persons report with Matt, her police chief boyfriend.  Has Cam gotten mixed up in Denis's schemes?  Just what is going on?

For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 412

Monday, April 29, 2013

It Takes A Witch by Heather Blake

This is the first in a series called Wishcraft Mysteries. Darcy and her sister Harper find out they are Crafters and move to Massachusetts to live with their aunt Ve.  They are only living in Enchanted Village a few weeks when their aunt's boyfriend gets arrested for murder.  Of course they have to find out who the murderer is!
This is a cute cozy mystery.  Darcy is a very likable character.  I will be looking forward to the next book.

Chapter One
Usually I’m not in the habit of tiptoeing through strange houses under the cover of darkness.

It was unsettling to say the least, and I felt completely out of sorts. My outfit only added to my discomfort. The flouncy, frilly pink satin bodysuit, tulle tutu, and pink ballet slippers were a far cry from my usual jeans and tee.

It didn’t help that my every move was being watched closely.

As I crept up aged wooden stairs of a large house along the coast of Salem, Massachusetts, Amanda Goodwin followed behind me with her mother-in-law, Cherise, bringing up the rear. They’d ushered me straight upstairs as soon as I’d arrived, their eyes lit like they were two little girls sneaking a peek at Santa. At the top of the steps, a long hallway branched into four bedrooms, one of which had its door closed. Pink and black polka-dotted block letters attached to the wood paneling declared it as my destination: Laurel Grace Goodwin’s bedroom.

“Have you done this before, Ms. Merriweather?” Amanda asked softly, tugging on my gossamer wings. “Played the tooth fairy?”

I sized up Amanda immediately as a hip suburban soccer mom, in her designer jeans, beaded tank top, and Grecian-inspired sandals. A natural blonde, she wore her hair long and straight, parted down the middle. Lots of lip gloss and mascara but not much else.

I smiled, trying to hide my nervousness. “Please call me Darcy, and this is my first time.” I truly hoped it would be my last. Tulle and I didn’t get along. My legs were itching something fierce, despite the thin protection of a pair of tights.

“Well”—Cherise had a strong Boston accent of someone who had been born and bred in this area—“your aunt Velma highly recommends you, and we trust her and As You Wish implicitly.”

I had been working at my aunt Ve’s business, As You Wish, for only two weeks. The company blended the tasks of a virtual personal assistant and a personal concierge service. Our clients’ requests were diverse, often challenging, and sometimes just plain strange. They ranged from administrative tasks to running errands, to shopping for a gift, to providing an extra pair of hands to clean up a messy house, and much, much more. As You Wish’s motto was that no request was too big or too small and no job impossible—as was proven by the fact I was standing before the Goodwins looking like a character from a fairy tale.  Read more here.

Pages: 309

Poltergeist by Kat Richardson

This is the second Greywalker novel. Harper gets a case from the university to investigate an experiment involving a group that has made a "ghost".  She goes to the room that the group uses and sees a yellow mass in the grey.  Then one of the group gets murdered.  Is it the yellow mass?  Just what is exactly going on here? Harper starts investigating the people in the group and the professor that is in charge.  Harper learns more about using the grey.  She calls on help from Carlos the vampire.  Another great read!


Chapter 4

Seven people were gathered around the heavy table. They didn’t sit, but stood with their fingertips resting lightly on the ash wood surface and their heads slightly bowed to look at a vase of flowers in the center. A portable stereo in the room was playing the Glenn Miller version of Imagination at a low volume.
Earlier, the people in the room had been joking around as they waited to see if the eighth member of their group would show up. They were an interesting mix: two apparent couples–one college-age and racially mixed, the other middle-age and Nordic–plus one more woman who looked like a harried housewife, one vaguely Middle-Eastern young man with a sly grin, and one more man who seemed to be a military retiree. I hadn’t yet linked names to faces, since there’d been no photos in the files. After some chatter, greetings, and clowning around, they’d decided the eighth wasn’t coming and had gone to stand around the table.
The military man looked at the flowers and said, “Good evening, Celia. Are you standing by?”
Two quick raps came from the table. I raised an eyebrow. When I’d been under that table, there had been nothing there that could have made that sharp, hollow noise and I was certain nothing had been placed there since. At least nothing official or large enough to see from the observation booth.
Tuckman leaned his head close to mine without turning his eyes away from the scene on the other side of the observation room glass. “Two raps for yes–that’s the code.”
I gave half a nod. “That’s the usual thing.” I tried to look into the Grey and see what was going on in the overlap between the normal and the paranormal, but the two layers of glass between me and the séance room baffled my unnatural vision and all I saw were vague blurs and wisps of colored light writhing around the members of the project and painting occasional squiggles on the floor and walls. Whatever had made the rap didn’t seem to be normal and I wished I could stand up and walk into the other room to see for myself.
Read more here.

Pages: 338

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rotten to the Core by Sheila Connolly

This is the second in the Orchard Series. Meg finds another body on her property.  This time she does not know the person who died. Jason was a student at the university.  Meg needs to find out who killed him and why. Along they way, she gets a cat, some goats and a tractor! Will Meg and Seth become a couple?

Description from the author's site:
Not everything is blooming this spring …

Spring has come to Meg Corey’s apple orchard—and it’s quickly becoming a killer season. Just as she’s getting the hang of managing the two-hundred-year-old orchard she’s inherited, the dead body of a local organic farming activist is found in her springhouse. And the only thing that’s sprung is a murder accusation—against her…

The young man’s body was found with traces of pesticide poisoning. Strange for someone opposed to all things chemical. And why did someone plant his body on Meg’s land—when Meg hadn’t even met him? Now Meg needs to pick her actions wisely and get rid of the seed of suspicion that’s been planted before the orchard—and her future—is spoiled for good.


Chapter 1
Meg Corey walked to the edge of the orchard, stopping where the land sloped downward to her house below, and turned to study her trees. It was March and just over a year since she had first arrived in Granford to take up residence in a house she’d seen only once before in her life, and she almost laughed now to remember just how naïve she had been at the time. Of course, she had also been kind of stunned by the turns her life had suddenly taken back then: no job, no boyfriend, no place to call home. So Meg had blindly followed her mother’s suggestion to park herself in Granford, a tiny town in western Massachusetts, while she figured out her next move. Her mother, Elizabeth Corey, might even have used the words “find yourself.” Meg hadn’t had the energy either to argue with her mother or to come up with a better idea, so she had moved into the drafty old house, which lacked insulation and adequate heating, in the midst of a cold New England winter. She’d been miserable.
What a difference a year had made! Meg hadn’t even known there was an apple orchard on the property when she arrived, and now it was her livelihood. She could look at it and tell what tasks needed to be done now that it was early spring, before buds and leaves and apples began to form. She’d harvested a decent crop in the fall, despite a rather scary summer hailstorm, and had sold the apples for a profit. They’d had a string of good weather this month and had taken advantage of it to do housekeeping chores in the orchard—picking up the pruned twigs, turning over the soil as soon as it thawed. As Meg watched, Briona Stewart, her young orchard manager and housemate, appeared in the orchard lugging a bundle of prunings from the trees. There was always something to be done: broken limbs had to be propped up or heartlessly sawn off, fertilizer had to be applied before growth began, and there was the cycle of spraying—nontoxic!—to be factored in. Bree added her trimmings to a growing pile; there were people around the area who liked to use apple wood to scent their fires, and if they were willing to pay a couple of bucks for a bundle of discards, who was Meg to argue with them? Last year’s weeds had been cleared away, and everything looked neat and trim. Meg felt an unexpected surge of excitement. What kind of crop could she hope for this year? She still didn’t know her trees well enough to tell; she was still learning to distinguish among the modern stock and the scattered heirloom varieties that were increasing in popularity, at least in this rarified gourmet patch of western Massachusetts. But she had learned so much in only a year!
Meg had also decided she liked living in Granford—certainly well enough to stay for a second year, and maybe even longer. She was beginning to feel like the town, whose population hovered around thirteen hundred people, was home; she’d found friends and neighbors . . . and Seth Chapin, who was both of those and more, although they were both still shy of sticking a label on whatever they shared. She was, she dared to think, happy.  Read more here.

Pages: 298

Home Fires by Margaret Maron

This is the sixth Deborah Knott mystery.  Deborah's nephew, AK and his two friends vandalized a cemetery. Then a black church gets burned down. AK and his friends get accused of the crime. The boys get jail time for the cemetery crime.  Then three more black churches burn.  Who is the arsonist?  I love these books!

Book Description from the author's site:
One place the two Souths—black and white—meet is in Judge Deborah Knott’s courtroom. From the pretty yet aggressive D.A. who requests harsh sentences for her fellow African-Americans to the three white teens caught desecrating a family graveyard with hate slogans, racial bias still tries the soul and tests the sense of justice in Colleton County, North Carolina.
Busy with her reelection campaign and building a new house on land that has been in her family for generations, Deborah has both deep roots and a professional stake in her community. She’s shaken when her nephew A.K. is arrested with a group of vandalizing teens at a local cemetery. Torn between her duty as a judge and her loyalty to her large, close-knit family, Deborah has to decide how far she can go to protect him.
Then the first black church burns.
Determined to investigate the arson in which A.K. has become a suspect, Deborah Knott is quickly swept into the dark undercurrents of prejudice, pain, and betrayal in this rural Southern county. Add to this the sudden arrival of a 1970s black activist-turned-public-figure, the emerging secrets of an angry young woman and the burning of two more churches, and Deborah faces a crisis that will challenge her political acumen, her detective skills, and her core beliefs.
The sins of the past return to forever change the present in Margaret Maron’s most riveting, emotionally moving novel to date, a mystery that involves color and kinship, and the unbreakable bonds of love . . .

For an excerpt, click here.
Pages: 243

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

This is the second Alpha and Omega book featuring Charles and Anna Cornick.  Bran, Charles' father, send them to Seattle to a conference about the werewolves coming out to the public.  The wolves in Europe have sent delegates. Anna upsets some of the other Alphas.  Charles sends her off to shop with Tom and his witch wife, Moira.  Some vampires attack them.  They manage to kill 2 and drive the others off but tom gets hurt. What is going on?  What else will happen?

I am sad. I only have a few more of Patricia Briggs' wolf books to read!

Excerpt:  Chapter One

She observed him from her chosen cover, as she’d done twice before. The first two times he’d been chopping wood, but today, after a heavy snowfall appropriate for the third week of December, he was shoveling the sidewalk. Today was the day she’d take him.
Heart in her mouth, she watched as he cleared the snow with carefully controlled violence. Every movement was exactly the same as the one before. Each slide of the shovel was strictly parallel to previous marks. And in his fierce control, she saw his rage, tamped and contained by will alone — like a pipe bomb.
Flattening herself and breathing lightly so he wouldn’t see her, she considered how she would do it. From behind, she thought, as fast as possible, to give him no time to react. One quick movement and it would all be over — if she didn’t lose her courage, as she had the first two times.
Something told her that it had to be today, that she wouldn’t get a fourth opportunity. He was wary and disciplined — and if he weren’t so angry, surely his senses,werewolf sharp, would have discovered her hiding place in the snow beneath the fir trees lining his front yard.
She shook with the stress of what she planned. Ambush. Weak and cowardly, but it was the only way she could take him. And it needed to be done, because it was only a matter of time before he lost the control that kept him shoveling to a steady beat while the wolf raged inside him. And when his control failed, people would die.
Dangerous. He could be so fast. If she screwed this up, he could kill her. She had to trust that her own werewolf reflexes were up to this. It needed to be done.
Resolution gave her strength. It would be today.
Charles heard the SUV, but he didn’t look up.
He’d turned off his cell and continued to ignore the cool voice of his father in his head until it went away. There was no one who lived near him on the snow-packed mountain road — so the SUV was just the next step in his father’s determination to make him toe the line.
“Hey, Chief.”
It was a new wolf, Robert, sent here to the Aspen Creek Pack by his own Alpha because of his lack of control. Sometimes the Marrok could help; other times he just had to clean up the mess. If Robert couldn’t learn discipline, it would probably be Charles’s job to dispose of him. If Robert didn’t learn manners, the disposal job wouldn’t bother Charles as much as it should.
That Bran had sent Robert to deliver his message told Charles just how furious his da was.
“Chief!” The man didn’t even bother getting out of the car. There weren’t many people Charles extended the privilegeof calling him anything but his given name, and this pup wasn’t one of them.
Charles stopped shoveling and looked at the other wolf, let him see just what he was messing with. The man lost his grin, paled, and dropped his eyes instantly, his heart making the big blood vessel in his neck throb with sudden fear.
Charles felt petty. And he resented it, resented his pettiness and the roiling anger that caused it. Inside him Brother Wolf smelled Robert’s weakness and liked it. The stress of defying the Marrok, his Alpha, had left Brother Wolf wanting blood. Robert’s would do.
“I . . . ah.”
Charles didn’t say anything. Let the fool work for it. He lowered his eyelids and watched the man squirm some more. The scent of his fear pleased Brother Wolf — and made Charles feel a little sick at the same time. Usually, he and Brother Wolf were in better harmony — or maybe the real problem was that he wanted to kill someone, too.
“The Marrok wants to see you.”
Charles waited a full minute, knowing how long that time would seem to his father’s message boy. “That’s it?”
“Yes, sir.”
That “sir” was a far cry from “Hey, Chief.”
“Tell him I’ll come after my walk is cleared.” And he went back to work. Read more here.

Pages: 286

Secret Smile by Nicci French

I got this book for my Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013. The Key Word is Secret.

Miranda has been dating Brendan for maybe a week.  There is something about him that makes her squirm.  She comes home from work and he's in her apartment.  AND he's reading her childhood diary.  That's the last straw.  She tells him it's over.  Get out of her life.  A couple of weeks later, her sister calls and wants to meet.  Kerry tells her she's dating Brendan.  What??  Miranda doesn't really care.  Brendan has told her family that he broke up with her, instead of the truth.  Everything starts to go downhill from there.  Her family treats her like she has down something wrong.  Kerry and Brendan end up living in Miranda's apartment because theirs is not ready yet.  I don't want to give the rest away.

While I was reading this, I am thinking this is so familiar.  So after I finished it, I looked on imdb.  There it is ...the movie that put me off of David Tennant.  It took me a long while to forget the character of Brendan and love him as Dr. Who!

From the author's site:
You have an affair.
You finish it.
You think it’s over.
You’re dead wrong . . .
Miranda Cotton thinks she’s put boyfriend Brendan out of her life for good. But two weeks later, he’s intimately involved with her sister. Soon what began as an embarrassment becomes threatening – then even more terrifying than a girl’s worst nightmare. Because this time Brendan will stop at nothing to be part of Miranda’s life – even if it means taking it from her . . .

  •  “This is a winner – a brilliant piece of characterization”
    Daily Mirror
    Read an excerpt here
    Pages: 308

Whispers at Midnight by Karen Robards

Carly Linton is hell-bent on starting over. After a bruising divorce, she moves back to her tiny hometown of Benton, Georgia, to start up a bed-and-breakfast in the old house she inherited from her grandmother. The whole town remembers her as the proverbial good girl, but Carly is tired of being good-she's ready to walk on the wide side, and she knows exactly where she wants to start.

Matt Converse, the town's former bad boy, is now the local sheriff and a pillar of the community. But he hasn't forgotten his wild days, or the magical night of the senior prom he shared with Carly years ago. When Carly's dog unearths a dead body on her property, Matt is forced to spend time there, and Carly decides to use her newfound wiles to seduce him. But when someone breaks into Carly's house and tries to take her away, Matt is the only person who can protect her from a mysterious enemy who's making it all too clear that Carly should never have come back to Benton.
from the author's site....

"Readers should be advised to start reading when they have a large block of time available because no one will want to stop reading Robards' steamy novel until the last page is turned."

I really liked this story...some murder, some romance.  Who is the killer?  I figured it out pretty early in the story. Matt and Carly were meant for each other.  Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 394

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Ex-Best Friend by Beth Brophy

Description from the publisher:
Journalist, wife, and mother of three, Claire Newman juggles work, soccer games, birthday parties, and errands. A successful writer at Nationweek, America's second largest newsweekly, she makes her living by being, as she says, "a relentless snoop," but she never was able to figure out why her best friend of twenty-three years, Lydia Finelli, dropped out of her life with no explanation. Claire hasn't seen Lydia in five years, and her unresolved hurt and anger still linger, brought to the surface by a chance encounter at the local bakery. When Lydia calls Claire and asks for her help, urging her to come discuss the situation in person, Claire figures it is one of "life's rare opportunities to tie up a loose end."

But when Claire arrives at Lydia's house, she finds her ex-best friend dead. While all the obvious signs point to suicide, Claire can't shake the feeling there's something very wrong. The irrepressible, feisty Claire starts investigating, and soon the list of suspects includes Lydia's neurologist husband, her psychiatrist neighbor, and even her son's handsome soccer coach. As Claire uncovers the secrets of her friend's past, and their relationship, the puzzle becomes even more complicated, and she finds that she really didn't know Lydia very well at all.

But knowledge comes with a price, and as Claire unravels the mystery of Lydia's death, she puts herself -- and the people she loves -- in harm's way.

Smart and funny, with razor-sharp storytelling, My Ex-Best Friend is the debut of a fresh new voice in contemporary fiction
I liked this book.  Claire risks her job and marriage because she just knows that Lydia has NOT killed herself.  She uses her connections at her job to help her. Thanks goodness too because she ferrets out a huge story!
Unfortunately, this author has not written another book.
Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 242

When Light Breaks by Patti Callahan Henry

Description from the author's site:
Now, as two women from opposite sides of the same sea meet, a tale unfolds that will draw readers into the heart's remembrances-and the tender awakenings of first love.

Though bogged down in the stress of planning her elaborate wedding to a professional golfer, twenty-seven-year-old Kara Larson still makes time to visit ninety-six-year-old Maeve Mahoney at her nursing home. And as Maeve recounts the rambling story of her first love back in Ireland, Kara is driven to remember her own first love: childhood neighbor Jack Sullivan.

I liked this book.  If you like Dorothea Benton Frank, Patricia Gaffney or Elizabeth Berg, you will like this one.  Kara works for the PGA and is engaged to a golfer.  She needs to do community service for the Junior League.   She starts visiting Maeve. Maeve tells Kara a story of love a bit at a time and convinces her to find her first love, Jack.  Kara does find Jack and everything changes.

Chapter One

I was surrounded by water just as I was surrounded by memories. I was born here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, raised first by both my parents, then just my daddy. My hometown, Palmetto Pointe, was a place encircled by river, estuary, marsh and ocean all at once; bodies of water cushioning us like the earth’s pillow.

One silver dawn in early March, I stood on the dock overlooking the river shrouded in early morning mist; the hummocks and spartina blended together in the gray-silver dawn. The oyster shell mounds glowed in the rising sun like pearlized and ragged pieces of earth outlining the river. I’d come earlier than usual for my morning run. The sound of my older sister Deirdre’s crying had come through the bedroom wall of our family home to join my own spinning and twisting thoughts, and sleep was as elusive as the no’seeums—the almost invisible biting bugs—I swatted at during a summer day.

I’d been able to hear Deirdre cry through the walls since I was nine years old, since Mama died. I don’t think she ever understood I could hear her; not even now that she was grown and had come home to escape another too lonely night apart from her husband, Bill, from whom she’d separated. Our family, the Larson’s, had learned to hide such emotional displays—they were not for public show like the family portraits or the Waterford Lismore collection. Our feelings were as well hidden as the family silver during the war of “Northern Aggression”.

I extended my arms over my head, leaned down stretching my hamstrings in anticipation of running my usual three miles. A school of menhaden fluttered below the surface of the water like butterflies under silk fabric. The tide was low, yet rushing in from the ocean to cover the mud banks, to give shelter to the crabs scurrying in the morning dawn. The ebb and flow of my memories weren’t nearly as reliable as these tides. On some days I was flooded with remembering and on others, I was as empty as the marsh at extreme low tide. But that morning, like the flotsam that rises to the top of the waves and is flung onto the beach after a storm as strong as my sister’s grief, a very particular day returned to me as the sun broke free from behind a low, flat cloud. My heart opened to an old memory.

I was thirteen years old.

It had been almost four years since Mama—the angelic Margarite Larson—had died. She’d willingly stopped treatment for her cancer and she’d left our family. She’d chosen death over family.

So I’d run away from home. I’d packed my purple suitcase, walked across the front lawn to the Sullivan’s house next door, then stood on the front porch. I set my bag down, knocked on the door with all the assurance a thirteen year old could muster on a blistering August afternoon when sweat was dripping down her forehead. Mrs. Sullivan answered the door, smiled at me. “Hey there, Ms. Kara. How are you this summer day?” Her smile lit up the entire front porch like a million fireflies.

I patted my suitcase, lifted my chin. “You’re my new family,” I said, nodded for an exclamation point.

Mrs. Sullivan took me in her arms, wrapped me tight and allowed me to believe my proclamation with her pure acceptance. The sharp scent of paint-thinner filled my nose and I knew she’d been working on her oil paintings. She led me into the house, put up her paintbrushes, and cooked me a grilled cheese sandwich dripping in butter. Then she brushed my hair and sang me a song about a bridge over troubled waters.

“Now, honey, tell Mrs. Sullivan why you would want to run away from your beautiful home.”

I turned to her and shook my head. “It’s just terrible. Daddy has changed too much. His face is always hard and stern.” I scrunched my face up. “Like this.”

Mrs. Sullivan laughed, squeezed my cheeks.  Read more here.

Pages: 278

Thursday, April 25, 2013

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

This is the sixth Mercy Thompson book. It starts off with Mercy checking on Stefan.  He has been out of it since Marsilia tortured and starved him. She is so worried about him. Mercy finds his house a stinky, yucky mess.  She yells at him and he snaps out of it. He goes with her to movie night with Warren and Kyle.
Mercy's mom calls her about the wedding.  She wants to let balloons and butterflies go at the ceremony.  This drives Mercy up the wall.  Kyle tells her it's the in thing now.  She decides to tell Adam that she wants to elope. They plan an elopement and it turns into something else.  Mercy and Adam take a vacation to the Columbia River.  They get involved in something spooky.  Mercy finds out more about her walker self.

Under the glare of streetlights, I could see that the grass of Stefan’s front lawn was dried by the high summer heat to yellow. It had been mowed, but only with an eye to trimming the length of the grass, not to making it aesthetically pleasing. From the debris of dead grass in the yard, the lawn had been left to grow long enough that the city might have demanded it be mowed. The grass that remained was dry enough that whoever had cut it wouldn’t have to do it again unless someone started watering.
I pulled the Rabbit up to the curb and parked. The last time I’d seen Stefan’s house, it had fit right into his ritzy neighborhood. The yard’s neglect hadn’t spread to the house’s exterior yet, but I worried about the people inside.
Stefan was resilient, smart, and . . . just Stefan—able to talk Pokémon in ASL with deaf boys, defeat nasty villains while locked up in a cage, then drive off in his VW bus to fight bad guys another day. He was like Superman, but with fangs and oddly impaired morals.
I got out of my car and walked up the sidewalk toward the front porch. In the driveway, Scooby-Doo looked out at me eagerly through a layer of dust on the windows of Stefan’s usually meticulously tended bus. I had gotten the big stuffed dog for Stefan to go with the Mystery Machine paint job.
I hadn’t heard from Stefan for months, not since Christmas in fact. I’d been caught up in a lot of things, and getting kidnapped for a day (which was a month for everyone else because fairy queens can apparently do that), was only part of it. But for the last month, I’d called him once a week and gotten only his answering machine. Last night, I’d called him four times to invite him to Bad Movie Night. We were a person short of the usual as Adam—my mate, fiancé, and the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack—was out of town on business.
Adam owned a security firm that, until recently, had dealt primarily with government contractors. Since the werewolves—and Adam—had come out to the general public, though, his business had started to boom on other fronts. Werewolves were seen as very good security people, apparently. He was actively looking for someone else who could do most of the traveling but so far hadn’t found the right person.
With Adam away, I could give more attention to the other people in my life. I’d decided Stefan had had time enough to lick his wounds, but from the looks of things, I was a few months late.
I knocked on the door and, when that got no response, gave it the old “Shave and a Haircut” knock. I’d resorted to pounding when the dead bolt finally clicked over, and the door opened.
It took me a while to recognize Rachel. The last time I’d seen her, she’d looked like the poster girl for the disenchanted goth or runaway teenager. Now she looked like a crack addict. She’d lost maybe thirty pounds she didn’t have to lose. Her hair hung in limp, greasy, and uncombed strings down her shoulders. Mascara smudges dripped over her cheeks in faded smears that would have done credit to an extra in Night of the Living Dead. Her neck was bruised, and she held herself like her bones ached. I tried not to show that I noticed she was missing the last two fingers on her right hand. Her hand was healed, but the scars were still red and angry.
Marsilia, the Mistress of the Tri-Cities’ vampires, had used Stefan, her faithful knight, to oust traitors from her seethe, and part of that involved taking his menagerie—the humans he kept to feed from—and making him think they were dead by breaking his blood bonds to them. She seemed to think that torturing them had been necessary as well, but I don’t trust vampires—other than Stefan—to speak the truth. Marsilia hadn’t thought Stefan would object to her use of him and his menagerie once he knew that she’d done it to protect herself. He was, after all, her loyal Soldier. She’d miscalculated how badly Stefan would deal with her betrayal. From the looks of it, he wasn’t recovering well.  Read more here.

Pages: 324

Silver Borne by Paticia Briggs

 ***If you haven't read the first four books - there are possible spoilers.***

This the fifth Mercy Thompson book. I liked this book a whole lot !! What trouble is Mercy in this time?  

 Samuel is in trouble.  He had a car accident.  But it turns out it is not an accident.  He tried to kill himself.  This is something that happens to old werewolves.  Mercy goes to the hospital to get him.  She realizes that Sam, the wolf, is in control.  What is she going to do?  She needs to keep this from Adam and especially Bran, Samuel's father and the leader of all the werewolves.
A Fairy Queen is after Mercy because she believes that Phin, the bookseller, gave her the Silver Borne.  Mercy does not know what it is. The queen kidnaps Gabriel, Mercy's employee.  She makes a bargain to exchange the item for his life. She finds out that the queen also has Phin.  She needs to get them back. While all this is happening, someone in the wolf pack is messing with Mercy's head through the pack links that she has now that she is Adam's mate.  What is going on there?

Excerpt: Chapter One
The starter complained as it turned over the old Buick’s heavy engine. I felt a lot of sympathy for it since fighting outside my weight class was something I was intimately familiar with. I’m a coyote shapeshifter playing in a world of werewolves and vampires — outmatched is an understatement.
“One more time,” I told Gabriel, my seventeen-year-old office manager, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his mother’s Buick. I sniffed and dried my nose on the shoulder of my work overalls. Runny noses are part and parcel of working in the winter.
I love being a mechanic, runny nose, greasy hands, and all.
It’s a life full of frustration and barked knuckles, followed by brief moments of triumph that make all the rest worthwhile. I find it a refuge from the chaos my life has been lately: no one is likely to die if I can’t fix his car.
Not even if it is his mother’s car. It had been a short day at school, and Gabriel had used his free time to try to fix his mother’s car. He’d taken it from running badly to not at all, then had a friend tow it to the shop to see if I could fix it.
The Buick made a few more unhealthy noises. I stepped back from the open engine compartment. Fuel, fire, and air make the engine run — providing that the engine in questions isn’t toast.
“It’s not catching, Mercy,” said Gabriel, as if I hadn’t noticed.
He gripped the steering wheel with elegant but work-roughened hands. There was a smear of grease on his cheekbone, and one eye was red because he hadn’t put on safety glasses when he’d crawled under the car. He’d been rewarded with a big chunk of crud — rusty metal and grease— in his eye.
Even though my big heaters were keeping the edge off the cold, we both wore jackets. There is no way to keep a shop truly warm when you are running garage doors up and down all day.
“Mercy, my mamá has to be at work in an hour.”
“The good news is that I don’t think it’s anything you did.” I stepped away from the engine compartment and met his frantic eyes. “The bad news is that it’s not going to be running in an hour. Jury’s out on whether it will be back on the road at all.”
He slid out of the car and leaned under the hood to stare at the Little Engine That Couldn’t as if he might find some wire I hadn’t noticed that would miraculously make it run. I left him to his brooding and went through the hall to my office.
Behind the counter was a grubby, used-to-be-white board with hooks where I put the keys of cars I was working on — and a half dozen mystery keys that predated my tenure. I pulled a set of keys attached to a rainbow peace sign keychain, then trotted back to the garage. Gabriel was back to sitting behind the wheel of his mother’s Buick and looking sick. I handed him the keys through the open window.
“Take the Bug,” I told him. “Tell your mom that the turn signals don’t blink, so she’ll have to use hand signals. And tell her not to pull back on the steering wheel too hard or it will come off.”
His face got stubborn.
“Look,” I said before he could refuse, “it’s not going to cost me anything. It won’t hold all the kids” — not that the Buick did, there were a lot of kids — “and it doesn’t have much of a heater. But it runs, and I’m not using it. We’ll work on the Buick after hours until it’s done, and you can owe me that many hours.”
I was pretty sure the engine had gone to the great junkyard in the sky — and I knew that Sylvia, Gabriel’s mother, couldn’t afford to buy a new engine, any more than she could buy a newer car. So I’d call upon Zee, my old mentor, to work his magic on it. Literal magic — there was not much figurative about Zee. He was a fae, a gremlin whose natural element was metal.
“The Bug’s your project car, Mercy.” Gabriel’s protest was weak.
My last project car, a Kharmann Ghia, had sold. My take of the profits, shared with a terrific bodyman and an upholsterer, had purchased a ’71 Beetle and a ’65 VW Bus with a little left over. The Bus was beautiful and didn’t run, the Bug had the opposite problem.
“I’ll work on the Bus first. Take the keys.”
The expression on his face was older than it should have been. “Only if you’ll let the girls come over and clean on Saturdays until we get the Bug back to you.”
I’m not dumb. His little sisters knew how to work — I was getting the better of the bargain.
“Deal,” I said before he could take it back. I shoved the keys into his hand. “Go take the car to Sylvia before she’s late.”
“I’ll come back afterward.”
“It’s late, I’m going home. Just come at the usual time tomorrow.”
Tomorrow was Saturday. Officially, I was closed on the weekends, but recent excursions to fight vampires had cut into my bottom line. So I’d been staying open later and working on the weekend to make a little extra money. Read more here.

Pages: 342

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

This is the fourth Mercy Thompson book. It picks up right where Iron Kissed ends.  I like that about a series. Stefan is blinked right into Mercy's trailer right after her mother shows up to ask her why she had to read about her daughter in the newspaper.  Stefan says to Mercy, "Run! She knows." He has been tortured and left to die by Marsilia, the vampire master in that area.  Mercy killed a vampire without Marsilia's permission.  The wolves help Stefan to survive.  Then a knock on the door.  It's Amber, Mercy's college roommate.  She has a ghost and needs help. Everyone figures it would be good to get Mercy out of town, away from Marsilia.  There is only one vampire, John Blackwood, in Spokane so they figure Mercy is safe.
The first night at Amber's house they have company for dinner. Guess who it is? Blackwood.  Is Mercy safe? This when the story gets good!

Excerpt: Chapter 1

I stared at my reflection in the mirror. I wasn’t pretty, but my hair was thick and brushed my shoulders. My skin was darker on my arms and face than it was on the rest of my body, but at least, thanks to my Blackfoot father, I’d never be pasty pale.
There were two stitches Samuel had put in the cut on my chin and the bruise on my shoulder (not extensive damage considering I’d been fighting something that liked to eat children and had knocked out a werewolf). The dark thread looked from some angles like the legs of a shiny, black spider. Aside from that slight damage, there was nothing wrong with my body. Karate and mechanicking kept me in good shape.
My soul was a lot more battered than my body, but I couldn’t see it in the mirror. Hopefully no one else could either. It’s invisible damage left me afraid to leave the bathroom and face Adam, who waited in my bedroom. Though I knew with absolute certainty that Adam wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want him to do -- and had wanted him to do for a long time.
I could ask him to leave. To give me more time. I stared at the woman in the mirror, but all she did was stare back.
I’d killed the man who’d raped me. Was I going to let him have this last victory? Let him destroy me as he’d intended?
“Mercy?” Adam didn’t have to raise his voice. He knew I could hear him.
“Careful,” I told him as I left off mirror-gazing and began pulling on clean underwear and an old T-shirt. “I have an ancient walking stick and I know how to use it.”
“The walking stick is lying across your bed,” he said.
When I came out of the bathroom, Adam was lying across my bed, too.
He wasn’t tall, but he didn’t need height to add to the impression he made. Wide cheek bones, a full, soft mouth topping a stubborn jaw all combined to a move-star beauty. When his eyes were open, they were a dark chocolate only a shade lighter than mine. His body was almost as pretty as his face -- though I knew he didn’t think of himself that way. He kept himself in shape because he was Alpha, and his body was a tool he used to keep his pack safe. He’d been a soldier before he was Changed and it was still there to see in the way he moved and the way he took charge. Read more here.

Pages: 309

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Chill Rain in January by L.R. Wright

In 1986, LR Wright won the Edgar Award for Best Novel for The Suspect, which is the first Karl Alberg novel. This book is the third.  I will go back and read the first two.
I enjoyed this book.  It had a good story and the characters were interesting. Ramona leaves the nursing home she lives in.  She just wants to be free for awhile. Zoe is a strange woman.  Her brother, Benjamin, comes to her and asks for money. These two women end up on opposite sides of a murder.

Description from the author's page:
With A Chill Rain in January, Edgar Award-winning author L.R. Wright once again creates a marvelously crafted tale of evil and terror, played out against the deceptively tranquil backdrop of the Pacific coast town of Sechelt. In this, Karl Alberg's third case, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sergeant is called to the scene of a simple accident, only to find himself suddenly involved in the destinies of two very different women.
Zoe Strachan's life is arranged exactly as she wants it. She has a comfortable house, built to her own specifications, on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast: secluded, private, far away from the past she has left behind. Beautiful and enigmatic, Zoe has no friends and ­ seemingly ­ no family. Until her brother shows up one day to tell her that he's found her childhood diaries, and that unless she pays him what he needs to keep quiet, he will reveal the secret she thought was buried forever.
Ramona Orlitzki's life used to be arranged as she wanted it. She lived alone in her tidy cottage, went out for walks, kept up with the neighbours' gossip, and enjoyed her little nip of gin at the end of the day. But now she's been confined to the village nursing home and she doesn't like it a bit. So Ramona escapes and goes into hiding, living first in her own house with the shutters drawn, then, fearing discovery, in an old cabin on Zoe's property. It is a fateful decision.
Against his will, Karl Alberg finds himself being drawn deeper and deeper into these women's lives ­ to the detriment of his on-again, off-again relationship with the alluring librarian Cassandra Mitchell. And then suddenly he realizes the danger that lies ahead ­ a danger he must do everything to avert before it's too late.
L.R. Wright's first Karl Alberg novel, The Suspect, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery novel and was hailed by critics as equal to the best fiction by P.D. James and Ruth Rendell. Its sequel, Sleep While I Sing, confirmed that reputation. A Chill Rain in January has all the rich characterization, the sure sense of place, and the swiftly paced storytelling of its predecessors, and is sure to win its author a host of ever more admiring ­ and enthralled ­ readers.

Pages: 273

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

This was an interesting book. Morgana is a witch but does not really realize what power she has.  Her mother marries her off to Cai.  She does not want to marry him.  She barely knows him but she does what her mother wants.  Cai is a drover and must have a wife to be the head drover.  He takes her to his home 2 days travel away. His farm is beautiful.  Morgana is an outside person and revels in the beauty of the farm.  She helps him with the ponies he raises to sell in London when drives his town's cattle there.
On the farm there is a well which has power.  Someone in the town wants the power.  This person senses that Morgana is a witch and will do anything to get this power.  Who is it??

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston transports readers to the windswept mountains of Wales in The Winter Witch, an enthralling tale of love and magic.
In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana.   She is small and quick and pretty enough to attract a suitor, but there are things that set her apart from other girls. Though her mind is sharp she has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic—the household objects that seem to move at her command, the bad luck that visits those who do her ill.  Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see Morgana married, and Cai Jenkins, the widowed drover from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her, seems the best choice.
            After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life.  But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Here, where frail humans are at the mercy of the elements, she thrives, her wild nature and her magic blossoming. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections.  It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village.  A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her.  Forced to defend her home, her man, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything in this beautifully written, enchanting novel.
“An enthralling tale of love and magic.” –USA Today

Excerpt from Macmillan
1.Does the spider consider herself beautiful? When she gazes into a dewdrop, does her reflection please her? Her web is finer than the finest lace, her body a bobbin working her own whisper thread. It is the web people admire. Its delicacy, its fragile strength. But the spider, poor creature, is thought of as ugly. She repulses some. Sends others into fainting fits. And yet she is beautiful, or so it seems to me. So nimble. So deft. So perfectly fashioned for the life fate has chosen for her. Like this one, here, in my palm. See how she ponders her next step, testing the surface, this way and that, her tiny feet tickling my skin, the hairs on her body sweeping my hand as she moves. How can something so exactly suited to its surroundings, to its existence, not be deserving of our admiration? How can a form so elegant, so neat, so sleek, not be recognized as beautiful? Must everything be pretty to be adored? The ladybird has black legs and a beetle body, but girls exclaim over the gaiety of her red wings and the cheerfulness of her spots. Must we always bedeck ourselves in prettiness to be thought pleasing? It would appear so. A woman must look a certain way to be worthy of a man’s attentions. It is expected. So here I stand, in a borrowed white gown, with flowers in my hair and at my waist, gaudy as a maypole, looking how I never look, presenting an aspect of myself that does not exist. It is a lie. How much happier I would be to don the gossamer spider’s web as my veil. And to drape myself in my customary dark colors, the better to blend with the shadows, the better to observe, and not to be observed.
“Morgana? Morgana!”
Mam is impatient. No, not impatient, a little afraid. Afraid that I might slip away, hide myself in one of my many secret places, and stay hidden until this moment has passed. This moment not of my asking. Not of my choosing.
Can she really wish me to go? To leave the only home I have ever known? To leave her? Surely a daughter’s place is at her mother’s side. Why must things change? Why will she not allow me to make my own choice, in this of all matters?
“Morgana, what are you doing?”
I am found. She peers in at me, stooping into the low entrance of my holly den. Blood hurries to her lowered head, flushing her face. Even in the dim light the prickly shelter allows I can see she is agitated. And that the rosiness of her cheeks is set against a worrying pallor.
“Morgana, your dress … you will make it filthy sitting in here. Come out.” She withdraws and I can put off the moment no longer. I ponder the spider in my hand. I could take her with me; pop her in my petticoat pocket. At least then I might have a friend as my witness this day. But no, she belongs here. Why should both of us be uprooted?
There, little spinner, back to your web.
I return her to her rightful place. I wish I could stay with her in this dark, close space, this earth womb. But my wishes count for nothing now. My fate has been decided. I squeeze out of the den.
Outside, the sun hurts my eyes. The brash light illuminates my silly dress and showy flowers. I feel most horribly bright. Most ridiculously colored. What nonsense we are all engaged in.
Duw, child, you have enough mud on you to plant potatoes. What were you thinking? In your wedding gown.”
She tutts and huffs and frowns at me but I am unconvinced. I see fear in her eyes. She cannot hide it from me. She ceases beating at my skirts in an effort to remove the dirt and places her hands on my shoulders, holding my gaze as firmly as she grips me.
“You are a woman now,” she says, having just this second called me child. “It would serve you well to behave as one. Your husband will expect some … manners, at the very least.”
Now it is my turn to frown. Husband! Might as well say Owner! Master! Lord! I turn away. I do not wish to look at her while my heart is full of anger. I feel my bottled fury bubbling within me, and something shifts, something alters. Sounds become distant. Voices meaningless. There is such a pressure inside my skull, such a force fighting to be released. My eyelids droop. My movements become slow and leaden. The sensation of falling backward grows.
“Morgana!” The urgency in Mam’s voice reaches me. Calls me back. “Do not, Morgana! Not now.”
I open my eyes and see the dauntless determination in hers. We are, after all, alike in this way.
She turns me on my heel and all but marches me from the garden and along the lane to the chapel. With every hurried step the plain stone building comes closer. I will enter it as my own person and leave belonging to another. How can this be?
To read more, click on the link above.

Pages: 341

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Easter Bunny Murder by Leslie Meier

This is the 19th Lucy Stone mystery. Lucy has taken her daughter-in-law Molly and her grandson Patrick to the Easter Egg Hunt at VV's mansion.  The gates are closed and the yard is not decorated.  Then the Easter Bunny comes outside and falls over dead. The police come and investigate.  The bunny is Van, VV's grandson.  Lucy has to figure how what happened.  Then the town realizes that something is wrong in VV's house.  Her granddaughter is abusing her and stealing her money. Then another murder occurs.  The granddaughter and her husband are put on trial for elder abuse and stealing.  Are they the murderers?

Pages: 263

Greywalker by Kat Richardson

Ms. Richardson has created a complex and troubled protagonist who is struggling with who and what she has become, and finding her new place in the scheme of things. For those of you who are looking for a fresh, new voice in the supernatural detective world, I highly recommend that you meet Harper Blaine.–Fran Fuller, Seattle Mystery Bookshop.

This is another first for me.  I have never read this author.  Greywalker is the first in the Greywalker series. Harper Blaine gets beaten to death by a suspect in a fraud case that she is investigating.  She wakes up in the hospital.  Harper starts to see strange things.  She mentions it to her doctor.  He thinks she is experiencing something paranormal. She doesn't believe it. The doctor sends her to Ben and Mara for help.  Harper is a private investigator.  The new things she is experiencing sends her some new clients.  She gets drawn into the world of magic and vampires.

I really enjoyed this book.  I am looking forward to reading the next one.


Chapter 7

I strolled on, heading for the Rover a few blocks away, feeling warm and full and a little drowsy. It was getting colder, as I’d expected, though. Passing my office building, a swirl of clammy steam licked up from the street. The cold slither of the mist around my ankle made me shiver and raised the hair on my nape.
I looked around, feeling observed and arguing with my paranoia. It was just steam. All the steam covers leaked a little wisp into the cooling air and made tiny ghosts dance a moment on the cobbled street. The steam slunk up a shape in an alley nearby.
I gave a start. Someone was standing, shadowed, in the alley, watching me. I turned and strode toward the gleam of eyes. The shadow moved, flickering through light from a window above. A female shape and a flash of wine-red hair, then she was gone around the next corner without a sound.
I started after her, pursuing the Cabernet gleam of her cropped hair. Alternating heat and cold rushed over me. I darted around the corner into indeterminate light and a deep, low thrumming. Everything was shrouded as if within a dense snow cloud, always moving, almost revealing… something, then closing up again. The light–hazy gray and impossible to look at as sun-glare in the desert–wiped out detail in a fuzz of visual noise. Shapes seemed to surge and stream just at the knife-edge of perception, flickering with black dots in the corners of my eyes.
I stopped short and whipped around. More of the same. I quailed, gripped by vertigo and swiping at my eyes as if I could wipe my dimming vision clear and find the way out.
I turned again, but the alley had become an unending plain of cloud-stuff.
I shouted. “Where are you? Where are you?!” Panic rushed my breath. I staggered backward in circles, panting and calling.
Something murmured, “Be quiet or it will hear you.”
I spun toward the whisper. A face had formed out of the thick atmosphere, glowing with a pale, internal light. A soft-edged human face, but with no defining factors and it had no real color, just a thicker, more luminous density of the wavering not-mist. My heart stuttered in my chest.
I shook and stammered. “Who are you?”
“I am… I. I am… he. I am she….”
I didn’t care about philosophy. I waved a shaking hand in front of the face. “Strike that. Just get me out of here.”
The face murmured and began to dissolve. “Shhhh… be patient.” The formlessness distorted and writhed as if unseen snakes rolled within it, dragging the face back into its depths. I was alone in my pocket of the haze-world.  Read more here.

Pages: 341

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger

For an excerpt, click here.
I chose this book for my Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013. Key Word: Friend

The book starts with Kevin Carr.  There is something wrong with him.  I feel scared for his wife, Paula. Then we meet Eloise and Jones.  She's a psychic and he's a retired cop. She sees him drowning while trying to save a girl.  Eloise is unhappy.  Jones is unhappy.  Next we meet Willow, a teenager who recently moved from NYC to The Hollows.  She is also unhappy and is trying to find her way.  She runs away from school one afternoon and hears a strange noise in the woods.  She follows the sound and sees a man digging a hole. She thinks he is trying bury a body. He looks at her and she gets scared and runs away.  She drops her cell phone.  He finds it and returns it to her mother, Bethany.  His name is Michael Holt.  Michael tells Bethany that is trying to find the body of his mother who disappeared years ago.  All these characters come together in the story about the search for Marla Holt.

Synopsis from Unger's site:

After giving up his post at The Hollows Police Department, Jones Cooper is at loose ends.  He is having trouble facing a horrible event from the past, and finding a second act. He’s in therapy.  Then, on a brisk October morning, he has a visitor.  Eloise Montgomery, the psychic who plays a key role in FRAGILE, comes to him with predictions about his future, some of them dire.
Michael Holt, a young man who grew up in The Hollows, has returned looking for answers about his mother who went missing many years earlier.  He has hired local PI Ray Muldune and psychic Eloise Montgomery to help him solve the mystery that has haunted him.  What he finds might be his undoing.
Fifteen year old Willow Graves is exiled to The Hollows from Manhattan when six months earlier she moved to the quiet town with her novelist mother after a bitter divorce.  Willow is acting out, spending time with kids that bring out the worst in her.  And when things get hard, she has a tendency to run away – a predilection that might lead her to dark places.
Set in The Hollows, the backdrop for Fragile, this is the riveting story of lives set on a collision course with devastating consequences. The result is Lisa Unger’s most compelling fiction to date.

Pages: 360

Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Charlaine Harris says: Nicole Peeler’s Tempest Rising turned out to surprising fun. I only say “surprising” because I truly hated the cover. I know Nicole Peeler loves it, because I’ve met her and she was charming, but I had to force myself to read the book. I’m glad I did, because it was a treat. Jane, who lives with her dad in a remote New England coastal town, has a rough life. Her mother has vanished years before, her father is ailing, the townspeople treat her badly, and she has a huge secret. But we come upon her story just when things are changing for Jane, in a very exciting and frightening way. After she finds the body and pulls it to the shore, nothing in Jane’s life is the same, and that’s at least partially in a good way.

I like the cover. I liked the book too! This is the first book in the Jane True series. List here. Jane is a great character.  I already ordered the second book from the library.  She is out swimming and sees a body bobbing around in the water.  She concentrates and gets the body to come to her.  Wow.  How did she do that?  She is so tired and can just get the body on to the beach.  Who did it? Jane discovers other creatures and helps to figure out who the murder is.  I like how Jane does not freak out when finds out about the "other" creatures living in this world.


I eyeballed the freezer, trying to decide what to cook for dinner that night. Such a decision was no mean feat, since a visiting stranger might assume that Martha Stewart not only lived with us but was preparing for the apocalypse. Frozen lasagnas, casseroles, pot pies, and the like filled our icebox nearly to the brim. Finally deciding on fish chowder, I took out some haddock and mussels. After a brief, internal struggle, I grabbed some salmon to make extra soup to—you guessed it—freeze. Yeah, the stockpiling was more than a little OCD, but it made me feel better. It also meant that when I actually had something to do for the entire evening, I could leave my dad by himself without feeling too guilty about it.
My dad wasn’t an invalid—not exactly. But he had a bad heart and needed help taking care of things, especially with my mother gone. So I took up the slack, which I was happy to do. It’s not like I had much else on my plate, what with being the village pariah and all.
It’s amazing how being a pariah gives you ample amounts of free time.
After putting in the laundry and cleaning the downstairs bathroom, I went upstairs to take a shower. I would have loved to walk around all day with the sea salt on my skin, but not even in Rockabill was Eau de Brine an acceptable perfume. Like many twentysomethings, I’d woken up early that day to go exercise. Unlike most twenty-somethings, however, my morning exercise took the form of an hour or so long swim in the freezing ocean. And in one of America’s deadliest whirlpools. Which is why I am so careful to keep the swimming on the DL. It might be a great cardio workout, but it probably would get me burned at the stake. This is New England, after all.
As I got dressed in my work clothes—khaki chinos and a long-sleeved pink polo-style shirt with Read It and Weep embroidered in navy blue over the breast pocket—I heard my father emerge from his bedroom and clomp down the stairs. His job in the morning was to make the coffee, so I took a moment to apply a little mascara, blush, and some lip gloss, before brushing out my damp black hair. I kept it cut in a much longer—and admittedly more unkempt—version of Cleopatra’s style because I liked to hide my dark eyes under my long bangs. Most recently, my nemesis, Stuart Gray, had referred to them as “demon eyes.” They’re not as Marilyn Manson as that, thank you very much, but even I had to admit to difficulty determining where my pupil ended and my iris began.
I went back downstairs to join my dad in the kitchen, and I felt that pang in my heart that I get sometimes when I’m struck by how he’s changed. He’d been a fisherman, but he’d had to retire about ten years ago, on disability, when his heart condition worsened. Once a handsome, confident, and brawny man whose presence filled any space he entered, his long illness and my mother’s disappearance had diminished him in every possible way. He looked so small and gray in his faded old bathrobe, his hands trembling from the anti-arrhythmics he takes for his screwed-up heart, that it took every ounce of self-control I had not to make him sit down and rest. Even if his body didn’t agree, he still felt himself to be the man he had been, and I knew I already walked a thin line between caring for him and treading on his dignity. So I put on my widest smile and bustled into the kitchen, as if we were a father and daughter in some sitcom set in the 1950s.
“Good morning, Daddy!” I beamed.
“Morning, honey. Want some coffee?” He asked me that question every morning, even though the answer had been yes since I was fifteen.
“Sure, thanks. Did you sleep all right?”
“Oh, yes. And you? How was your morning?” My dad never asked me directly about the swimming. It’s a question that lay under the auspices of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that ruled our household. For example, he didn’t ask me about my swimming, I didn’t ask him about my mother. He didn’t ask me about Jason, I didn’t ask him about my mother. He didn’t ask me whether or not I was happy in Rockabill, I didn’t ask him about my mother…
“Oh, I slept fine, Dad. Thanks.” Of course I hadn’t, really, as I only needed about four hours of sleep a night. But that’s another thing we never talked about. Read more here.

Pages: 359

Friday, April 19, 2013

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I can relate after working in retail and restaurant situations. If you want a glimpse into this industry, read this one!! 

Synopsis from Random House:
In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.

Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know.

Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.
Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.

Chapter One

I am standing on St. Charles Avenue, uptown New Orleans, a few months out of college and a few weeks into summer. It’s already extremely hot in the full sun. Which is where I have to stand: in the sun. Next to the valet box. All day.

I took a valet-­parking job at Copeland’s restaurant to shake off my college-­loan laziness, to climb out of the educational womb and stand on my own two feet as a moneymaking, career-pursuing adult. Educated in the useless and inapplicable field of philosophy, I quickly deduced that my degree looked slightly comical on my already light-on-the-work-experience résumé. Perhaps it was even off-putting. To a certain eye, hell, it probably made me look like a prick. But I had to start somewhere. So I started at the bottom.

This job is not good enough. Why not? First of all, I’m parking cars. Second, we have to turn in all our tips. I imagined I’d get off the first night with a pocketful of ones to take to the French Quarter, not that you need much money in New Orleans. As it turned out, however, attached to the valet box that houses the car keys, like a wooden tumor, is a separate slot for us to jimmy in our folded tips. All of them. Attached to that box, like a human tumor, is the shift boss, back in the shade at a vacant umbrella table, sipping a noontime drink that most definitely contains alcohol. It also has chipped ice and is sweating in his hand, sweating in a much different way than I am sweating.

A lunch customer hands me his ticket. I find his keys easily in the box and take off at an impressive run. His car is not easy to find: the valet company has not rented a nearby lot to service the restaurant, and so we, certainly unbeknownst to the clients, just drive around the area and try to parallel park the vehicles as close to Copeland’s as possible. Once the vehicle has been parked, it’s up to the valet to draw a silly treasure map on the back of the ticket so another valet can locate it. My co-­worker Chip draws every treasure map like this: #*. Every single one. And finding the car is never easy. But I bring it back and slide up to the curb, holding the door open, the car’s AC pouring like ice water on my feet, and receive a neatly folded bill from the customer.  Read more here.
Pages: 247

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bad Blood by Dana Stabenow

Description from Macmillan:
New York Times bestselling author Dana Stabenow's latest finds Kate Shugak entangled in a bitter tribal rivalry and murder.
One hundred years of bad blood between the villages of Kushtaka and Kuskulana come to a boil when the body of a young Kushtaka ne'er-do-well is found wedged in a fish wheel. Sergeant Jim Chopin's prime suspect is a Kuskulana man who is already in trouble in both villages for falling in love across the river. But when the suspect disappears, members of both tribes refuse to speak to Jim. When a second murder that looks suspiciously like payback occurs, Jim has no choice but to call in Kate Shugak for help. This time, though, her Park relationships may not be enough to sort out the truth hidden in the tales of tragedy and revenge.
Jim is called out because a body has been found.  He tries to investigate but the villagers block his every move. An attempt was made on his life.  Thank goodness he can swim.  Another body is found in the opposite town.  Now it's a feud!  Kate is trying to figure out who is bringing in booze and drugs.  The miners are buying and it is starting to cause problems in the Park.  All these things come together towards the end.  I did not like the ending of this book!!!

An excerpt:


Two villages, where two rivers meet.
A geologic age before the runoff from Alaskan Glacier high up in the Quilak Mountains chewed through a granite ridge to form a narrow canyon fifteen miles long.
A millennium before, a massive earthquake exacerbated a fault in the ridge. Half of it cracked and slid off to the southwest. It left behind a V-shaped wedge between the confluence of two watercourses, which would one day be named Gruening River on the south side and Cataract Creek on the north.
The tip of the vee pointed due west. The surface of the wedge was flat and topped with a thick slice of verdant soil raised a hundred feet in the air by the earthquake. That earthquake had also fractured a way to the surface through the granite uplift for an underground spring. The spring’s outflow trickled down the south face of the wedge, over time carving a channel for a little stream too steep to support a salmon run and too shallow to be good for anything but watering the blueberry bushes that grew thickly along its sides. In spring, this slope was first to thaw, snow and ice giving way to a fairyland of wildflowers, the brash orange and yellow florets of western columbine, the shy blue of forget-me-nots, the noxious brown blooms of chocolate lilies, the elegant pink paintbrush, and the dignified purple monkshood.
By luck of the geologic draw, the land across the river remained largely undisturbed by the earthquake, remaining a flat marsh covered in thick grass, cattails, and Alaska cotton. Over time glacial silt carried downriver filled in the marsh, and alder, diamond willow, and cottonwood grew out to the water’s edge. The force and flow of the combined currents of river and stream undercut the banks to provide habitat for river otters, mink, and marten, and carved tiny tributaries to be dammed by beavers and colonized by salmon. Read more here.

Dolci di Love by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Description from Penguin: Corporate star Lily Turner abandons the boardrooms of Manhattan for the steep streets of Montevedova when she discovers her "perfect" husband, Daniel, has another family tucked away in the hills of Tuscany. Once there, her plight attracts the attention of the Secret League of Widowed Darners, an all-but-invisible army pulling strings behind the scenes to create happy endings. Soon founding members, Violetta and Luciana, are scheming to mend Lily's broken heart-and to enlist her help for their struggling pasticceria.

With the lush landscape of a sumptuous Tuscan summer in the background, and the tantalizing scent of fresh-baked cantucci in the air, Dolci di Love is the joyful celebration of a modern recipe for life.

The descriptions of Montevedova were beautiful.  Made me feel as if I was there. I could see the ladies making the cantucci (Americans call it biscotti). Smell it baking. Lily finds a photo of another family in her husband's golf shoe.  Hidden from her.  It was like a kick in the gut because she had been trying to have a child.  He has children with another woman.  She gets drunk, does not remember getting drunk, and purchases a ticket to Italy to find her husband.  She is devastated but loves her husband. She gets to Montevedova and the widows have other plans for her. This is a delightful story about all different kinds of love. 

An excerpt:
Daniel's other woman and two bright-eyed beautiful children were sitting under the insole of his left golf shoe when Lily first found them. They were laminated.
Despite the shock of finding the photo and the immediate awful certainty deep in her bones that these children were indeed her husband's, this most practical of details struck her. They were laminated, which made a point all by itself.
The layers of Lily's life-as-she-knew-it might be flying off into the ether, helplessly transparent, never to be seen together again, but the layers of this other life she knew nothing about were fixed sturdily right there in her hand, bonded for eternity.
Lamination was forever, after all. That was what it was for. You didn't laminate things that didn't matter or that you weren't sure about; things like your Fairway shopping list or the Italian heels clipped out of the latest Vogue.
You only laminated absolute necessities, sureties; things that you needed to last longer than they were meant to when they were printed on paper that could be spattered by ketchup or yellowed by the sun.
The surprise woman and two children were accordingly announced to Lily as a trio in need of top-level maintenance. So important were they to Daniel, her husband, that he wanted to protect them forever against all the foot rot, shoe sweat and whatever other peril the Manhattan Woods Golf Club held for them. So important were they he wanted to keep them close to him for time immemorial, or however long plastic lasted, which Lily happened to know was around 500 years. Long after Daniel was dead and buried, after she was, after everyone in the photo was, after the golf shoe - save, perhaps, the two brown flugelbinders from the tips of the laces - had decomposed, this snapshot of a happy "family" would remain. 
Read a bit more here. 

Pages: 305

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Iron Kissed is the third Mercy Thompson novel.  Mercy is asked by Zee to help in a series of murders on the Fae Reservation.  Mercy investigates in her coyote form and gives Uncle Mike and Zee a clue.  they head out to interview this person and Zee gets taken by the police for murder.  Mercy wants, no needs to get his freedom.  The Grey Lords decide to let him take the rap to protect the fae.  But Mercy does not stop. She gets the wolves involved.  Eventually, the murderer is caught. Zee is set free.  But will Mercy survive the fae?


Chapter 1

"A cowboy, a lawyer and a mechanic watched Queen of the Damned," I murmured.
Warren -- who had once, a long time ago, been a cowboy -- snickered and wiggled his bare feet. "It could be the beginning of either a bad joke or a horror story."
"No," said Kyle the lawyer, whose gorgeous head was propped up on my thigh. "If you want a horror story you have to start out with a werewolf, his gorgeous lover and a walker . . ."
Warren, the werewolf, laughed and shook his head. "Too confusing. Not many people still remember what a walker is."
Mostly they just confused us with Skinwalkers. Since walkers and Skinwalkers are both Native American magical creatures, I can sort of understand it. Especially since I'm pretty sure the walker label came from some dumb white person who couldn't tell the difference.
But I'm not a Skinwalker. First of all, I'm from the wrong tribe. My father had been Blackfoot, from a northern Montana tribe and Skinwalkers came from the southwestern tribes, mostly Hopi or Navajo.
Secondly, Skinwalkers have to wear the skin of the animal they change into, usually a coyote or wolf, but they cannot change their eyes. They are evil mages who bring disease and death wherever they go.
When I change into a coyote, I don't need a skin or -- I glanced down at Warren, once a cowboy and now a werewolf -- the moon. When I am a coyote, I look just like every other coyote. Pretty much harmless, really, as far down the power scale of the magical critters that lived in the state of Washington as it was possible to get. Which is one of the things that used to help keep me safe. I just wasn't worth bothering about. That had been changing over the past year. Not that I'd grown anymore powerful, but I'd started doing things that drew attention. When the vampires figured out that I'd killed not one, but two of their own . . . Read more here.

Pages: 287

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

From the author's site:

“I employ this thing I called The Shovel List.”
“A shovel..?”
“No, a shovel list. It’s more of a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much I want to hit them in the face with a shovel.”
Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.
Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.
Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.
Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.
Utterly compelling, moving and very very funny, The Mystery of Mercy Close is unlike any novel you’ve ever read and Helen Walsh – courageous, vulnerable and wasp-tongued – is the perfect heroine for our times.

I enjoyed this book.  I felt for Helen. She's a bit crazy, wonderful and strong all in one.  She's determined to find Wayne, not just for the money but because she thinks she knows what is going on with him.

I wouldn’t mind—I mean this is the sheer irony of the thing—but I’m the only person I know who doesn’t think it would be delicious to go in to “someplace” for “a rest.” You’d want to hear my sister Claire going on about it, as if waking up one morning and finding herself in a mental hospital would be the most delightful experience imaginable.
“I’ve a great idea,” she declared to her friend Judy. “Let’s have our nervous breakdowns at the same time.”
“Brilliant!” Judy said.
“We’ll get a double room. It’ll be gorgeous.”
“Paint me a picture.”
“Weeeeell. Kind people . . . soft, welcoming hands . . . whispering voices . . .
white bed linen, white sofas, white orchids, everything white . . .”
“Like in heaven,” Judy said.
“Just like in heaven!”
Not just like in heaven! I opened my mouth to protest, but there was no stopping them.
“. . . The sound of tinkling water . . .”
“. . . The smell of jasmine . . .”
“. . . A clock ticking in the near distance . . .”
“. . . The plangent chime of a bell . . .”
“. . . And us lying in bed off our heads on Xanax . . .”
“dreamily gazing at dust motes . . .”
“. . . Or reading Grazia . . .”
“. . . Or buying Magnum Golds from the man who goes from ward to ward selling ice cream . . .”
But there would be no man selling Magnum Golds. Or any of the other nice things, either.
“A wise voice will say”—Judy paused for effect—“‘Lay down your burdens, Judy.’ ”
“And some lovely, floaty nurse will cancel all our appointments,” Claire said. “She’ll tell everyone to leave us alone, she’ll tell all the ungrateful bastards that we’re having a nervous breakdown and it was their fault and they’ll have to be a lot nicer to us if we ever come out again.”

Both Claire and Judy had savagely busy lives—kids, dogs, husbands, jobs and an onerous, time-consuming dedication to looking ten years younger than their actual age. They were perpetually whizzing around in minivans, dropping sons off at rugby practice, picking daughters up from the dentist, racing across town to get to a meeting. Multitasking was an art form for them—they used the dead seconds stuck at traffic lights to rub their calves with fake-tan wipes, they answered emails from their seat at the cinema, and they baked red velvet cupcakes at midnight while simultaneously being mocked by their teenage daughters as, “A pitiful fat old cow.” Not a moment was wasted.

“They’ll give us Xanax.” Claire was back in her reverie.

“Oh lovvvvely.”

“As much as we want. The second the bliss starts to wear off, we’ll ring a bell and a nurse will come and give us a top-up.”

“We’ll never have to get dressed. Every morning they’ll bring us new cotton pajamas, brand new, out of the packet. And we’ll sleep sixteen hours a day.” Read more here.

Pages: 388