Sunday, June 30, 2013

Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland

In this third outing of Kara Gillian, she is chasing a killer that is going after a band. Or so it looks.  With help from a couple of demons, Kara figures it out.  I love this series!  The cover art is fantastic on this book. Darn it, the book ended without us finding out Ryan's deal!!

From the author's site:
Homicide detective Kara Gillian has a special talent: she can sense the "arcane" in our world, and there's quite a bit of it, even in Beaulac, Louisiana. She's also a summoner of demons, and works on a task force that deals with supernatural crimes. Her partners are attractive and smart FBI agents, but they're not summoners, and they're not telling Kara why they are on this special force with her.
To make things worse, Kara has pledged herself to one of the most powerful of demons-a Demon Lord-who helped save her partner's life, but now expects things in return. Meanwhile, she's trying to solve a string of murders that are somehow tied together by money, sex, rock music and...mud. But how can she concentrate on the case when she's not even sure who-or what-her partners are?
Excerpt:
Chapter 1
The heavy music pounded through me, making my teeth vibrate and the muscles in my back tense in reaction. I leaned against the wall, as much as to have a good vantage to watch the seething mass of people in front of the stage as to ground myself from the incessant beat. Cigarette smoke burned the back of my throat and the stench of stale beer and sweat coiled around me in a noxious miasma. Every now and then I'd get a whiff of something putrid, letting me know me that I'd picked a spot too close to the bathrooms. I was in a good position to see the majority of the bar, but the raised alcove I'd claimed for my use suffered from a distinct lack of air flow--which probably explained why it was empty.
A few feet below me the dance floor was getting some vigorous use--its denizens clad in fishnets and corsets, PVC and leather, ball gowns and "Little Bo-Peep" outfits, and every possible combination thereof. Past the dance floor and through a broad brick archway I could see that the long bar was packed three deep. I was in serious need of some ice water, but I wasn't quite desperate enough to brave the crush at the bar.
*You do not enjoy this activity.*
I jerked in surprise at the feel of the demon's voice in my head. I'd summoned tenth-level demons before, but this particular zhurn was the only demon who had ever chosen to speak with me mind to mind. *This is not my preferred leisure activity,* I replied, tensing with the effort of communicating with the demon in this fashion. *I don't really care for crowds.* It wasn't as simple as merely thinking a sentence, which is what I'd always imagined it to be. Instead it felt as if I had to push the thought along the mental bindings that held the demon in this sphere. It was creepy and unsettling, and I couldn't help but be relieved that the zhurn were the only demons who ever chose to communicate this way.
I waited for a response from the demon, but my answer had apparently been sufficient Maybe it's bored? Unfortunately, there really wasn't much for it to do. I'd only summoned Skalz as a contingency backup, even though I thought it very unlikely that we would need one. It had also been a while since I'd summoned a zhurn and this had been a convenient enough excuse.
"You're supposed to look like you're having fun," FBI Special Agent Ryan Kristoff said from beside me. It probably should have been a whisper, or at least sotto voce, but the music was so loud it ended up being more of a shout.
"Not true," I said/shouted back. "It's a goth bar. I'm supposed to look miserable!"

To read more, click here.

Pages: 310

First Love by Joyce Carol Oates





I don't know what to say about this sad novella. I wish I had not read it.

From goodreads:
Josie S- has come with her mother Delia to live in her great-aunt Esther Burkhardt's house in upstate New York. Also living there is Josie's cousin, Jared, Jr., on leave from the Presbyterian seminary. Preoccupied with his studies, impeccably dressed in his starched white shirts, distant and mysterious, Jared, Jr. is an intriguing figure to Josie's curious and impressionable young mind. One summer afternoon, when Josie encounters Jared, Jr. at the riverbank behind the Burkhardt house, dark secrets are shared between them as an unnatural love blooms. A moody sense of foreboding grips the reader from page one as religion, whispers of dark family secrets, violations of trust and virginity, bad blood, and a hint of incest all haunt the landscape of this startling tale of divided family loyalties, psychological manipulation, and the tangled strands of love and fear in the mind of a young girl groping for her way in one fractured American family.

Pages: 86

Killer Honeymoon by G. A. McKevett

This book was in the new section at the library and I remember that I had read "Buried in Buttercream" by this author.  I enjoyed this cozy mystery.  I did not figure out who the killer was before the author told me! I must be losing it! 

From goodreads:
Now that plus-sized P.I. Savannah Reid has finally walked down the aisle, she’s ready for a romantic island getaway with new husband Dirk Coulter. The trip is supposed to be a blissful week of rum drinks and sunshine—but finding a dead body on the beach can be a real killjoy. Welcome to the honeymoon from hell…
Savannah and Dirk were hoping for a little honeymoon excitement, but eye witnessing a cold blooded murder wasn’t exactly what they had in mind. To their surprise, the recently deceased is none other than Amelia Northrop, the popular L.A. anchorwoman whose super sexy looks landed her a super wealthy husband. Savannah’s no expert, but she’s pretty sure Amelia won’t be hosting tonight’s evening news; she’ll be the lead story.

When the local police make it clear that they don’t want Savannah’s help, she decides to do a little digging on her own—and what she discovers could blow the case wide open. It seems Amelia led a far more twisted life than her cheery on-screen persona suggested, and crossed more than a few powerful people along the way. The question is, who hated Amelia enough to shoot her dead in broad daylight? Savannah isn’t sure, but she suspects Amelia found out the hard way that fate has a way of settling old scores—and karma can be a girl’s worst enemy…


Excerpt:

Chapter One

Those darned cats were hogging the bed. Again. As Savannah lay on her side—half-dreaming, half-waking— she felt Diamante draped—furry, warm, and heavy—across her thigh. Cleopatra was sprawled across her waist. Without even opening her eyes, Savannah knew which was which.
Since they were kittens, both had tried to sleep on her head, or at least on her pillow. Savannah had demanded they stay down by her feet. Over the years, they had negotiated this compromise. It worked, for human and feline alike.
Except for the snoring.
Cleopatra snored. Loudly.
She might be named after an Egyptian queen; her glossy coat could shine like fine black velvet, and her eyes glow like the most majestic mini-panther in the jungle. But Cleopatra snored like a cartoon bear. This morning was the worst that Savannah had ever heard. Plus she smelled like Old Spice.
Savannah woke fully with a start and tried to flip over onto her back, but she was thoroughly pinned. With her newfound consciousness, she realized these were not simple kitty cats—not even the miniature leopard style—holding her down.
She ran her fingers over the hard, hairy arm wrapped around her waist. Then she investigated the harder and hairier object across her thigh. It was her husband's leg.
Yes. Husband.
She had one of those now.
The memories of yesterday's vows and the two rings on her left hand made it quite official. As did the presence of a man in her bed and the sound of his snoring that reminded her of a Georgia tornado, whirling a few inches from her ear.
Savannah Reid was a married woman; and normally, that thought might have alarmed her. But his familiar smell and the blissful heat of his body pressed against hers reminded her—it was Dirk. Not just her husband, but her best friend and partner for more years than she cared to count.
So it was okay. In fact, it was much more than okay.
"Hey, good morning, wifey," he said, nuzzling her ear, his breath tickling her neck. His arm tightened around her waist, pulling her even closer against him.
"Good morning to you, hubby," she replied with a giggle. "First time I ever said that."
He kissed a sensitive spot over her temple. It gave her delicious shivers. "Well, get used to it. This is a life sentence."
"Wouldn't have it any other way."
As she snuggled in, a feeling swept over her that she could only describe as wondrous, warm, and cozy. Better than a dark chocolate gourmet truffle savored lingeringly on the tongue. More delicious than a sip of the smoothest cognac that slid like liquid fire down the throat to the belly and then set every cell in the body to tingling.
Ah, it was heavenly.
Then he went back to sleep and started to snore. Much louder than before.
A moment later, her leg went numb. She tried to gently slip out from beneath him and couldn't. That big, hard, muscular thigh she had admired so much the night before weighed a ton.
She looked around the motel room and felt a bit homesick. She missed her lace curtains and her pink sheets. She missed Diamante and Cleo's soft, feminine purr-snores.
And Savannah realized that what her blessed granny had told her for so many years was true: Sometimes love was sacred, the most holy and powerful force in the universe. Sometimes it was a warm, fuzzy feeling. Occasionally it was a wildfire of passion that, like cognac, inflamed every cell of your body.
And sometimes it was just a decision. Plain and simple.
At that moment, lying in her new husband's arms, she knew that this big bear of a man would willingly die for her; and even more important, only yesterday, he had vowed to live for her.
With his arm and leg draped protectively over her, cutting off her circulation, she felt her soul fill to the brim with "warm and fuzzy."
And she decided, once again, to love him forever, just as she'd promised to do yesterday in front of God and everybody she knew.
Now ... if she could only get back to sleep.
Read more here.

Pages: 279

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Island by Heather Graham

Beth is away for the weekend on Calliope Key with her brother and niece. She finds a skull.  She thinks it's from a couple that everyone assumes is dead. A stranger comes up to them.  Beth pretends not to see anything. She gets involved with the stranger, Keith, sort of!  On Sunday, Beth, Ben and the girls go home.  Beth reports what she saw to her friend who is a policewoman. The Coast Guard investigates.  Bath cannot leave this alone.  Then she gets threatened.  Will she stop? How is Keith involved in this?

From the author's site:
On a weekend vacation with her brother and niece, Beth Anderson is unnerved when a stroll on the beach reveals what appears to be a skull, and instantly recalls the retired couple who disappeared off the island's coast a few months earlier. As a stranger approaches, Beth panics and covers the evidence. But when she later returns to the beach, the skull is gone.
With only her niece as a witness, there is no proof of foul play for Beth to bring to the authorities. To her brother, the missing skull is just a good story to tell at an island bonfire and campout that night. The tale is heard by an eager group of vacationers—including charismatic Keith Henson, the stranger from the beach. Everyone dismisses the events as the product of an overactive imagination, but when Beth hears someone outside her tent, she instinctively knows her fears are justified.
Determined to find solid evidence to bring to the police, Beth digs deeper into the mystery of the skull—and everywhere she goes, Keith Henson seems to appear. He claims to be keeping an eye on her safety, but Beth senses other motives. Then a body washes ashore, and Beth begins to think she needs more help than she bargained for. Because investigating is a dangerous game, and someone wants to stop Beth from playing.

Mini excerpt:
IT WAS A SKULL.
That much Beth Anderson knew after two seconds of dusting off bits of dirt and grass and fallen palm debris.
"Well?" Amber demanded.
"What is it?" Kimberly asked, standing right behind Amber, anxiously trying to look over her shoulder.
Beth glanced up briefly at her fourteen-year-old niece and her niece's best friend. Until just seconds ago, the two had been talking a mile a minute, as they always did, agreeing that their friend Tammy was a bitch, being far too cruel to her best friend, Aubrey, who in turn came to Amber and Kimberly for friendship every time she was being dissed by Tammy. They weren't dissing anyone themselves, they had assured Beth, because they weren't saying anything they wouldn't say straight to Tammy's face.
Beth loved the girls, loved being with them, and was touched to be the next best thing to a mother for Amber, who had lost her own as an infant. She was accustomed to listening to endless discussions on the hottest music, the hottest new shows and the hottest new movies -- and who did and didn't deserve to be in them, since the girls were both students at a magnet school for drama.
The main topic on their hot list had recently become boys. On that subject, they could truly talk endlessly.
But now their continual chatter had come to a dead stop. Kimberly had been the one to stub her toe on the unknown object.
Amber had been the one to stoop down to look, then demand that her aunt come over.
"Well?" Kim prodded. "Dig it up, Beth."
"Um...I don't think I should," Beth said, biting her lower lip. It wasn't just a skull. She couldn't see it clearly, there was so much dirt and debris, but despite the fact that it was half hidden by tangled grasses and the sandy ground, she could see more than bone.
There was still hair, Beth thought, her stomach churning. And even tissue.
She didn't want the girls seeing what they had discovered any more closely.
Beth felt as if the blood in her veins had suddenly turned to ice. She didn't touch the skull; she carefully laid a palm frond over it, so she would recognize the spot when she returned to it. She wasn't about to dig anything up with the girls here.
She dusted her hands and stood quickly, determined that they had to get back to her brother; who was busy setting up their campsite. They were going to have to radio the police, since cell phones didn't seem to work out here.
A feeling of deep unease was beginning to ooze along her spine as vague recollections of a haunting news story flashed into her mind: Molly and Ted Monoco, expert sailors, had seemed to vanish into thin air.
The last place they'd actually been seen was Calliope Key, right where they were now.
"Let's go get Ben," she suggested, trying not to sound as upset as she felt.
"It's a skull, isn't it?" Amber demanded.
She was a beautiful girl, tall and slender, with huge hazel eyes and long dark hair. The way she looked in a bathing suit -- a two-piece, but hardly a risque bikini -- was enough to draw the attention of boys who were much too old for her, at least in Beth's opinion. Kimberly was the opposite of Amber, a petite blonde with bright blue eyes, pretty as a picture.
Sometimes the fact that she was in charge of two such attractive and impressionable girls seemed daunting. She knew she tended to be a worrywart, but the idea of any harm coming to the girls was...
Okay! She was the adult here. In charge. And it was time to do something about that.
But they were practically alone on an island with no phones, no cars...not a single luxury. A popular destination for the local boat crowd, but distant and desolate.
It was two to three hours back to Miami with the engine running, though Fort Lauderdale was closer, and it was hardly an hour to a few of the Bahamian islands.

Pages: 376

The Summer Country by James A. Hetley

I got this book for the Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013. Key Word: Country  I love the cover of this book!

I really enjoyed this book. Maureen is different. She talks to trees and is afraid of men, but she has a reason. Her family is crazy.  She is almost attacked by Liam but Brian steps in and saves her.  He tries to explain why but Maureen is so afraid of him she doesn't believe him. Then one night he comes to his apartment.  He's been beaten. She starts cleaning him up.  Her sister, Jo and her boyfriend, David, come home.  Maureen uses her power to stop them from hurting Brian.  Wow, where did that come from?
Brian warns Maureen about others from his world, Summer Country.  She does not listen and gets persuaded by Sean to enter Summer Country.  Jo realizes Maureen is gone and happens to stumble through to Summer Country.  Brian and David follow to save the ladies. What happens?

From the author's site:
For twenty-eight years, Maureen Pierce led a fairly ordinary life, maybe a slightly tough one for a woman of her age, growing up on the wrong side of the poverty line in Naskeag Falls, Maine. But she did all right.

Then she met Brian Albion, and everything changed. If she can believe him - and Maureen has had some hard lessons in why you don't believe men - she carries a blood legacy that goes back to the old country. Only this is the really old country, the land of Mordred and Merlin, where deadly battles are still fought with magic, and a woman who carries the blood of the Old Ones is a prize to be desired - or a threat to be destroyed . . .


Excerpt:
I


That man was still following her.

A gust of sleet stung Maureen's face when she glanced back into the night. Winter in Maine, she thought, you'd at least think the weather would have the decency to dump snow on you.

February had been a run of sleet and freezing rain, no damn good for skiing or anything--it just made the sidewalks into bobsled runs and the roads into skating rinks. People always pictured New England with those picture-postcard mounds of fluffy white stuff. Instead, most winters plastered the city with yellow-gray ice full of freeze-dried dog shit and dead pigeons.

She hated it. She ached to be out of it.

And that bastard had followed her through four turns to head right back towards the Quick Shop. He kept his distance, but he was still there. It wasn't chance. She hadn't seen another person or even a car in the last fifteen minutes. What were her options?

The midnight streets vanished in a vision of green grass and trees, sunshine, warm breezes, and streams of peat-stained water the color of fresh-brewed tea. She breathed summer country, a cabin-fever dream she wanted so much she could smell the clover.

Wish, the whisper came, out of nowhere. Wish. And hard on the back of the thought came a memory of Grandfather O'Brian's voice, "Be careful what you wish for, my darlin'. The gods just might be givin' it to you."

The thought brought tears to her eyes, or maybe it was the sleet. She had been far closer to the old man than to her own father, and now Grandfather was fifteen years dead. Funny such a devout Catholic should talk of the gods in plural. Funny she should think about him, slopping through the dark streets of Naskeag Falls and thinking dark thoughts about the entire male race.

Maureen's nightmare still followed her, half a block back--a squat black shadow under the streetlights, framed by the double rows of dark storefronts and old brick office buildings. Everything was closed and silent, brooding over her search for someplace warm and dry and public.

The scene reminded her of a hodge-podge of old movies--Peter Lorre stalking the midnight streets with a switchblade in his pocket. For some reason, the movie image relaxed her. Maybe it made danger seem less real, the sleet turning the night into grainy black-and-white flickers on a silver screen.

Maureen pulled her knit cap down tighter on her head and went back to concentrating on the ice underfoot. She was reading her past into the future. No self-respecting mugger or rapist would be out on a night like this. The voices in her head could just take a fucking hike.

Besides, her mood matched the foul weather. She'd had a rotten evening at the Quick Shop, and the chance to blow some scumbag to hell carried a certain primitive attraction.

Maybe while she was at it she should put a slug through the carburetor of that damned rusty Japanese junk-heap that had refused to start and left her walking. And pop the night manager with the roving hands who had reamed her out and docked her pay for being late, before suggesting they could maybe arrange something if she chose to be a little "friendlier."

Hell, go big-time and shoot all the paper-mill cretins from upriver who stomped in for their six-packs of beer, steaming their wet-dog smell and dripping slush all over the place so she spent half her shift mopping up after them.

Definitely blow away the oh-so-precise digital register that had refused to tally when she closed out at midnight. She'd ended up putting in ten bucks out of her own pocket, just to get the hell out of the place. Two hours pay, before taxes.

CONVENIENCE STORE CLERK GOES BERSERK, MURDERS 20.

Again, Maureen checked on her shadow. He was still there, still half a block back. The way she felt, she almost wished he'd make a move.

She kicked a lump of slush and yelped when it turned out to be frozen into place. Adding insult to injury, her next limping stride found a pothole in the sidewalk, and she sank into ankle-deep ice water.

Screw this psychotic winter weather, she thought. Psychosis: a mental disease or serious mental impairment, a medical term not to be confused with the precise legal implications of the word "insanity." Psych. 101, second year elective for distribution requirements in the forestry program.

She had reasons to remember the definition, reasons for such a personal interest in the ways and means in which human minds deviated from the norm. Fat lot of good college was doing her now.

A snowplow growled around the next corner and headed in her direction, fountaining out a bow-wave that washed up over the curb and sidewalk to break against the dark line of buildings. Maureen ducked back into the entryway of the nearest storefront, trying to dodge the flying muck. It spattered icily across her jeans, and she stepped back out into the storm, elevating her middle finger at its retreating yellow flashers.

"Naskeag Falls Department of Roads and Bridges," the sign on the dump gate said, "Your tax dollars at work."

The man following her ignored the truck, and the slush seemed to ignore him. Hairs prickled along the back of Maureen's neck. Without speeding up or even looking at her, he'd halved the distance between them. The paranoia kicked in, elbowing her anger aside and substituting cold calculation. She needed some defenses.

"Enough of this crap," she muttered, or maybe it was her voices. The next alley offered places where a small woman could hide, places where muscles wouldn't help him. If he came in after her, he was history. She thumped the pocket of her wet ski jacket and felt the reassuring weight of metal.

She ducked around the corner. Dumpsters lurked in the shadows, two of them, jammed right up against brick walls and close enough together to just leave space for a single person between. She ducked into the bunker they formed and waited, remembering her lessons.

Smith and Wesson Chief's Special, she heard the instructor lecture, thirty-eight caliber. Five shots, short barrel, not very accurate--don't ever shoot at anything beyond ten yards. Light, compact, reliable--perfect weapon for close-range self-defense.

If you ever really need your gun, don't give warning. Don't wave it around. Don't make threats. Just shoot as soon as you show the weapon. Shoot twice. Shoot to kill. He's trying to kill you!


Her gloves jammed in the trigger guard. She slipped them off and stuffed them into her pants pockets. The wood and metal of the pistol grip actually felt warm compared to the sleet.
Read more here!

Pages: 361

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How To Eat A Cupcake by Meg Donohue

This is a cute story about two girls raised together. One was the daughter of the housekeeper/nanny and the other was  the employer's daughter. Annie left for college after her mother died and never looked back. Julia lived in New York for years after college but recently came back to San Francisco.  Annie was asked to make cupcakes for a party given by Julia's mother.  Julia loved the cupcakes and decided that she wanted to go into business with Annie and open a cupcakery.  They discover that they still love each other.

SYNOPSIS from the author's site

Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia's engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything.


Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 309

Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie

This is the third Kincaid and James novel.  They are called out to discover just what happened to Connor Swann, the son in law, of some opera people. He looks like he drown but he had bruises on his neck! Every body "loved" Connor but things did not add up.  Kincaid and James keep digging through the evidence and discover the secret!

Description:
When a body is discovered floating in a Thames river lock one damp and dreary morning, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James are summoned from Scotland Yard to the Chiltern Hills outside of London. A drowning in the countryside doesn’t ordinarily merit Scotland Yard’s attention, but the dead man is Connor Swann, son-in-law of Sir Gerald Asherton, a renowned operatic conductor, and Dame Caroline Stowe, a celebrated and beloved soprano. And prints on the corpse’s neck suggest that Connor Swann didn’t just fall in the river after too many pints; in fact, he may have been strangled.
Kincaid and Gemma soon discover that this is not the first tragedy to strike the Ashertons – twenty years earlier their twelve-year-old son, Matthew, a musical prodigy, drowned in a swollen stream on a cold November afternoon while walking from school with his sister, Julia. The memory of the talented and charming Matthew lingers, haunting the Ashertons’ elegant estate. His sister Julia’s life has been shaped by the incident. Now, estranged from her husband, she remains the black sheep of the family, a painter rather than a musician.
At first it seems that Julia had a good reason to leave Connor Swann – he was a bit too fond of the ladies and the horses for his own good. But Kincaid and Gemma suspect that Connor may not have been such a scoundrel after all, and that none of the family’s relationships are as simple as they appear on the surface. As the threads of the case become more tangled, Kincaid and Gemma explore the quiet beech woods above the Thames as well as the glamorous world of London opera in search of answers. And when Kincaid finds himself dangerously drawn to one of the suspects, he and Gemma must sort out their complicated feelings for each other.

Excerpt: Prologue
"Watch you don't slip." Julia pushed back the wisps of dark hair that had snaked loose from her pony-tail, her brow furrowed with anxious concern. The air felt dense, as thick and substantial as cotton wool. Tiny beads of moisture slicked her skin, and larger drops fell intermittently from the trees to the sodden carpet of leaves beneath her feet. "We'll be late for tea, Matty. And you know what Father will say if you've not done your lessons in time for practice."
"Oh, don't be so wet, Julia," said Matthew. A year younger than his sister, as fair and stocky as she was thin and dark, he'd physically outstripped her in the past year and it had made him more insufferably cock-sure than ever. "You're a broody old hen. 'Matty, don't slip. Matty, don't fall,'" he mimicked her nastily. "The way you carry on you'd think I couldn't wipe my own nose." His arms held shoulder-high, he balanced on a fallen tree trunk near the edge of the swollen stream. His school haversack lay where he'd dropped it carelessly in the mud.
Clutching her own books to her thin chest, Julia rocked on the balls of her feet. Serve him right if he caught it from Father. But the scolding, even if severe, would be brief, and life in their household would return quickly to normal--normal being that they all behaved, to quote Plummy when she felt particularly exasperated with him, "as if the sun rose and set out of Matthew's backside."
Julia's lips twitched at the thought of what Plummy would say when she saw his muddy bookbag and shoes. But no matter, all would be forgiven him, for Matthew possessed the one attribute her parents valued above all else. He could sing.
He sang effortlessly, the clear, soaring treble falling from his lips as easily as a whispered breath. And singing transformed him, the gawky, gap-toothed twelve-year-old vanishing as he concentrated, his face serious and full of grace. They would gather in the sitting room after tea, her father patiently fine-tuning Matthew on the Bach cantata he'd be singing with the choir at Christmas, her mother interrupting loudly and often with criticism and praise. It seemed to Julia that the three of them formed a charmed circle to which she, due to an accident of birth or some inexplicable whim of god, was forever denied admittance.
The children had dawdled on their way home from school, enjoying the brief respite in the weather. Cutting across the fields, they'd caked their shoes with clay until they had to lift their heavy feet deliberately, like visitors from a lighter planet. When they reached the woods, Matthew had caught Julia's hand and pulled her, slipping and slithering through the trees, down the hillside to the stream nearest their house.
Julia shivered and looked up. The day had darkened perceptibly, and although the November afternoons drew in early, she thought the lessening visibility meant more rain. It had rained heavily every day for weeks. Jokes about the forty days and forty nights had long since grown stale; now glances at the heavy sky were followed by silent and resigned headshaking. Here in the chalk hills north of the Thames, water leached steadily from the saturated ground and flowed into already over-burdened tributaries.
Matty had left his tight-rope walking on the log and squatted now at the water's edge, poking about with a long stick. The stream, in ordinary weather a dry gully, now filled its banks, the rushing water as opaque as milky tea.
Julia, feeling increasingly cross, said, "Do come on, Matty, please." Her stomach growled. "I'm hungry. And cold." She hugged herself tighter. "If you don't come I shall go without you."
"Look, Julie!" Oblivious to her nagging, he gestured toward the water with the stick. "There's something caught under the surface, just there. Dead cat, maybe?" He looked round at her and grinned.
"Don't be disgusting, Matty." She knew her prim and bossy tone would only fuel his teasing, but she was past caring. "I really will go without you." As she turned resolutely away she felt an unpleasant cramping sensation in her abdomen. "Honestly, Matty, I don't feel--"
The splash sprayed her legs even as she whipped around. "Matty! Don't be such an--"
He'd fallen in, landing on his back with his arms and legs splayed awkwardly. "It's cold," he said, his face registering surprise. He scrabbled toward the bank, laughing, shaking the water from his eyes.
Julia watched his gleeful expression fade. His eyes widened, his mouth formed a round 'o'.
"Matty--"
The current caught him, pulling him downstream. "Julie, I can't--" Water washed over his face, filling his mouth.
She stumbled along the bank's edge, calling his name. The rain began to fall in earnest, big drops that splashed against her face, blinding her. A protruding stone caught her toe and she fell. She picked herself up and ran on, only vaguely aware of the pain in her shin.
"Matty. Oh, Matty, please." Repeated again and again, the words formed an unconscious incantation. Through the muddy water she could see the blue of his school jacket and the pale spread of his hair.
The ground descended sharply as the stream widened and turned away from her. Julia slid down the incline and stopped. On the opposite bank an old oak teetered precariously, a web of roots exposed where the stream had undercut the bank. Here Matthew's body lodged, pinned under the roots as if held by a giant hand.  Read more here.
Pages: 253

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

 I did not like the beginning of this book.  It dragged and dragged. We knew who died and who the killers were. What was going to happen? Then it started to pick up in the middle.  I enjoyed the last half.  I almost threw it in the bag to take back to the library.  There was some weird editing here too. Is too hard to tell a story from a bunch of perspectives at the same time.  Instead, we get one perspective  - then the next. It gets too confusing.....


From the author's site:
“There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard…”
But it could always be worse. . . .

More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried.
Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of his crime and while chaos reigns on his lawn, his sanity unravels, snagged on the agendas of a colorful cast of strangers. A jilted woman searches for her lost fiancĂ©, a fringe-dweller runs from a past that’s quickly gaining on him, and a couple of earnest local detectives piece it together with the help of a volunteer police dog — all of them in the wake and shadow of a dead man who had it coming. As the action unfolds, each discovers that knowing more than one side of the story doesn't necessarily rule out a deadly margin of error.

Excerpt - click here.
Pages: 307

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beach House Memories by Mary Alice Monroe

 Lovie remembers back to the summer of 1974. She and her husband Stratton have hit a wall in their relationship. He is always working.  So she packs up and takes the kids to the beach house for the summer.  Lovie has been tracking turtles and the laying of their eggs for years.  This summer a professor is coming to do a study of the turtles.  Lovie and Russell fall in love.  Does she leave her husband or stay?

This book made me cry at the end!!

From the author's site:
Continuing the saga of her bestselling novel, THE BEACH HOUSE, Mary Alice Monroe skillfully weaves together issues of class, infidelity, and domestic abuse set in the tumultuous South in 1974. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an unforgettable tale of marriage, resilience, and one woman's private strength and commitment.

 
Excerpt:
Chapter One

Lovie Rutledge believed memories were like the tides. Sometimes they rushed in with a pounding roar to topple you over. At other times they gently washed over you, lulling you to complacency and then tugging you back to halcyon days that, with the passing of years, seemed ever sweeter.
She seemed to spend more time with her memories of late, especially on evenings such as this one when the red sun lazily descended over the Intracoastal Waterway, and the jeweled tones of the sky deepened. From the trees, the pensive cries of birds called all to roost. Lovie sat on the windward porch, still and silent, attuned to the moody hour. Sunset was her favorite time of the day, an introspective hour when the sky brought down the curtain on what she knew were her final days.
Lovie leaned her snowy white head against her chair, gave a slight push with her foot, and sighed as she rocked rhythmically back and forth, like the waves slapping against the shore. A small smile of relief eased across her face.
Peace at last, she thought.
The wailing winds of the hurricane that had blown across her small island a week earlier had left in their wake the incessant guttural roar of chain saws. The Isle of Palms had been pummeled, as had most of the South Carolina coast. It would take months to clean up. As though in apology, Mother Nature graced the island with crisp after-storm breezes that spurred the populace to a frenzy of repairs. Lovie was glad for the activity-the bellowing of voices, honking of horns, laughter of children, whoops from the beach, high-pitched calls of greeting as families returned home from evacuation. She heard in the clamor the shared exuberance of hope.
And yet, Lovie longed for the hush and lull of pace that came at the day's end.
Stop your complaining, old woman, she admonished. You should be grateful that you wake up at all! Birdcall or hammering on wood-whichever! The sounds of life around her were welcome-especially now as death hovered like a thief, waiting for its opportunity to snatch away her last breath.
Lovie sank deeper into the cushion and let her tired body ease as she stared out again at a smattering of yellow flowers that had managed to cling to the vines during the storm, and beyond them, the sea. The Atlantic Ocean breathed like a beast snoring serenely in the distance. The gentle rolling water cloaked the secrets it held, while the earth revealed all. Ah, but she wasn't fooled by her old friend.
I thought you were going to take my house with this last storm-and me along with it, she thought with a faint chuckle. Well, I thank you for leaving us be. At least for a little while longer. She sighed and kicked off again with her foot. I've known you too long and too well not to be wise to your mercurial nature. You appear so gentle and peaceful tonight. But Lord help the fool who ignores you.
Lovie suddenly coiled in a spasm of coughing that racked her frame, so thin now she could be mistaken for a child. When at last the fit subsided, she bent forward, clasping the arms of the chair, gasping for air.
"Mama! Are you okay?"
            Lovie turned her head to see Cara's worried face inches from her own. She felt Cara's larger hand tighten over hers in a reassuring squeeze. Dear, sweet, daughter, she thought as her pale blue eyes found refuge in Cara's dark brown ones. There were crow's feet at the corners, adding maturity to the wide-eyed worry. Cara had been dismayed at turning forty, crying that her youth was over and now she was on the downhill slope. Lovie knew better. Cara was still so young! So strong and confident.
Lovie felt the panic that always came with the coughing spells loosen its grip. Gradually her breath came more easily. She nodded weakly.
Cara's eyes narrowed, quickly checking for signs that Lovie needed oxygen or a dose of pain medication. "Mama, it's getting chilly. Let's go inside."
Lovie didn't have the breath to answer, but she weakly shook her head.

Read more here.


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Island by Elin Hilderbrand

If you enjoy books by Dorothea Benton Frank, you will love this one. Birdie is planning her daughter Chess's wedding. She is recently divorced from her husband of 30 years.  Then Chess calls off the wedding and quits her job.  She will not explain. Birdie decides to take her daughters and her sister off to the family beach house on Tuckernuck Island for a month. This family needs to come together and love each other again.

From goodreads:
Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess's lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she's cancelled her engagement.

It's only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she's embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store - a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.

But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known. It's a summertime story only Elin Hilderbrand can tell, filled with the heartache, laughter, and surprises that have made her page-turning, bestselling novels as much a part of summer as a long afternoon on a sunny beach.

 
For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 407

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Other Side of the Sun by Madeleine L'Engle


 I am considering this book a gothic. It has many of the elements listed in this article, Elements of the Gothic Novel. It also contains some of the elements listed in this article about American Gothic Fiction.

Stella, an innocent 19 year old, marries Terry in England and he is sent away for his job. (The author never explains what he is doing.) She goes to America to live with his family. There is all this intrigue going on with the family and the house. Honoria seems to be their servant but she actually owns the house they live in. Stella slowly finds out what is going on.  The story is dealing with slavery and what remains of it in 1910. The family is threatened by what happen to the blacks and the anger some of the people feel about how they were treated. Stella gets threatened by the Zenumin, the bad blacks.  Honoria, the good black, tries to save her.

From goodreads:
L'Engle at her best, this novel features Stella, who marries into the aristocratic Renier family and discovers a frightening world of intrigue, greed, prejudice, and superstition. Soon drawn into a raging battle between good and evil, Stella must fight her way through to find the other side of the sun.


Excerpt from The Other Side of the Sun by Madeleine L’Engle.
They were here on the veranda waiting for me when I finally reached Illyria, the four women: Honoria, tall, powerful, purply-black; the two old great-aunts, small and pale; Aunt Irene, half the age of the other three – but when one is nineteen, middle age is old. Honoria stood calmly aside as the others, twittering like birds, palm-leaf fans fluttering, rose to greet me. Aunt Irene held out her plump hands. “Stella! It is Stella, isn’t it?
“Who else would it be?” one of the old ladies whispered.
I felt the eyes of all four probing me. I was being measured, judged. I smiled brightly to hide my discomfort.
“Stella, honey, welcome to Illyria. I am your Aunt Irene.” She drew me to her. Her voice was bright-pink crushed velvet and she smelled of heliotrope. She called herself “Ant Ah-reen” and, probably because I was so keyed up, I almost giggled.
“And this is your Great-aunt Mary Desborough, and your Great-aunt Olivia.”
The two old ladies moved forward. Unlike Aunt Irene, who looked like a fashion plate, they were dressed in rusty and old-fashioned clothes, with their hair parted in the middle, and their ears poking out in the fashion (I learned later) which had been popular during “The War”. “Welcome, child,” one of them pecked me on the cheek. “We welcome the new Mrs. Theron Renier. I am Aunt Mary Desborough.”
“And I’m Aunt Olivia,” the other old lady said, and reached to kiss me. She smelled lightly of lemon and lavendar; the old-grey watered silk of her dress rustled as she moved, and her voice was like it, a dry, gentle rustling.
“Clive! Clive! Ronnie!” Aunt Irene called. “Oh, there you are. Please see that Miss Stella’s things are taken to her room so that Honoria can unpack them.”
The old colored woman moved to me; there was something majestic about her; she took my hands in her very strong ones and looked into my face. I felt like a child instead of a married woman. “We welcome you, Miss Stella.”
This, then, was Honoria. I knew that Honoria was important. Immediately after Mado’s death it was Honoria who saw to it that her ring came to my Terry for his bride.
The Renier ring. Touching that ring got me through a lot of bad times. Not that I thought it had any magical properties, although I was to find that many people did indeed believe this. It was just that the ring always made me know who I was: Mrs. Theron Renier. I touched it now, a heavy ring, made of two beautifully etched gold serpents, entwined like those on a caduceus, with rubies for eyes.
“It came to Mado from Honoria,” Terry had told me when he first showed it to me the night he asked me to be his wife.
“Mado –”
“My grandmother. Marguerite Dominique de la Valeur Renier. She was always called Mado.”
“And Honoria?”
He hesitated. “I suppose you might call her Mado’s housekeeper. I love her almost as much as I loved Mado. Maybe as much because they belonged together.”
My husband, of all the Renier men, was the one who was most full of laughter, but when he took the ring out of its velvet box to give it to me, he was totally serious. “It carries a responsibility,” he said, “a responsibility of healing. The serpent isn’t always a symbol of evil. You remember that the twined serpent is the doctor’s emblem, and my Grandfather Theron was a doctor.”
(Doctor Theron, his young son,
There met Mado, loved and won,
But lost the War Between the States …)
I looked at the ring, fingering the rubies. “How would a housekeeper get a ring like this?”
“Honoria was born in Africa,” Terry had said, as though that explained everything.


Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

I love Jane Yellowrock.  She is the coolest vampire killer!  Jane gets hired by the Vampire council in New Orleans to kill a rogue vampire. She learns a lot about herself and vampires during the ordeal of tracking the rogue.

From the author's site:
A year ago Jane nearly lost her life taking down an entire blood family of deadly rogue vampires that preyed on the helpless local populace of an Appalachian town. Now, after months of recuperation, she’s back and ready to fight again. Except this time, she’s hired by those she’s trained to kill—vampires… Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind—a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. Back from hiatus, she’s hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katies’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.
Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission—or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own…


Excerpt:

Chapter One 

I travel light
I wheeled my bike down Decatur Street and eased deeper into the French Quarter, the bike’s engine puttering. My shotgun was slung over my back, a Benelli M4 Super 90, loaded for vamp with hand-packed silver-flechette rounds. I carried a selection of silver crosses in my belt, hidden under my leather jacket, and stakes were secured in loops at my jeans-clad thighs. The saddle bags on my bike were filled with my meager travel belongings—clothes in one side, tools of the trade in the other. As a vamp killer for hire, I travel light.
I’d need to put the vamp hunting tools out of sight for my interview. My hostess might be offended. Not a good thing when said hostess held my next paycheck in her hands and possessed a set of fangs of her own.
A guy, a good-looking Joe, standing in a doorway, turned to follow my progress as I motored past. A dark-haired local, he wore leather boots, a jacket, and jeans, like me, though his hair was short and mine was down to my hips when not braided out of the way, tight to my head, for fighting. Without moving, he followed my progress down the street. A Kawasaki motorbike leaned on a stand nearby. I didn’t like his interest, but he wasn’t hunting. He didn’t prick my predatory or territorial instincts. Maybe just a guy looking for a quick lay. In this city, anything was possible.
I maneuvered the bike down St. Louis and then onto Dauphine, weaving between nervous-looking shop workers heading home for the evening and a few early revelers out for fun. I spotted the address in the fading light. Katie’s Ladies was the oldest, continually operating whorehouse in the Quarter, in business since 1845, though at various locations, depending on hurricane, flood, the price of rents, and the agreeable nature of local law and enforcement officers. I parked, set the kickstand and unwound my long legs from the Hogg.
I had found two bikes in a junk yard in Charlotte, North Carolina, bodies rusted, rubber rotted. They were in bad shape. But Jacob, a river rat and restoration expert living along the Catawba River, took my money, fixing one up, using the other for parts, ordering what else he needed over the net. It took six months.
During that time I’d hunted for him—keeping his wife and four kids supplied with venison, rabbit, turkey (whatever I could catch, as maimed as I was)—restocked supplies from the city with my hoarded money, and rehabbed my damaged body back into shape. It was the best I could do for the months it took me to heal. Even someone with my rapid-healing and variable metabolism takes a long while to totally mend from a near beheading.
Now that I’d healed, I needed work. My best bet was a job killing off a rogue vampire that was hunting in the City of Jazz. It was taking down as many as three tourists a night and had left a squad of cops, drained and smiling, dead where it dropped them. The scuttlebutt was that it held all the men in thrall while it feasted. It hadn’t been satisfied with just their blood. It had eaten a parts of their internal organs. All that suggested the rogue was an old, powerful, deadly, whacked-out vamp. The nutty ones were always the worst.
Just last week, Katherine “Katie” Fonteneau, the titular head lady of Katie’s Ladies had emailed me. According to my website, I had successfully taken down an entire blood-family in the mountains near Asheville. And I had. No lies on the website or in the media reports, not bald-faced ones anyway. Truth is, I’d nearly died, but I ’d done the job, made a rep for myself and then taken off a few months to spend and invest my legitimately gotten gains. Or to heal, but spin is everything. A lengthy vacation sounded better than the complete truth.
I took off my helmet and the clip that held my hair, pulling my braids out of my jacket-collar and letting them fall around me, beads clicking. I palmed a few tools of the trade and adjusted the braids, rearranging them to hang smoothly, no lumps and bulges. I used the motion and the time to assure my safety through the upcoming interview. To take in the city. And to try and relax. I was nervous and being nervous around a vamp was just plain dumb.
The sun was setting, casting a red glow on the horizon, limning the ancient buildings, shuttered windows, and wrought iron balconies in fuchsia. It was pretty in a purely human way. I opened my senses and let my beast taste the world. It liked the smells and wanted to prowl. Later I promised it. Soon. Predators usually growl when irritated. As it was, she sent mental claws into my soul, kneading. It was uncomfortable, but the claw pricks kept me alert, which I’d need for the interview. I had never met a civilized vamp, certainly never done business with one. So far as I knew, vamps and skinwalkers had never met. I was about to test that premise. This could get interesting.
Sunglasses went into my collar, lenses hanging out. Cool is good, but most vamps like it dark and I didn’t want to limit my senses. I glanced at the witchy-locks on my saddlebags and, satisfied, I walked to the narrow red door and pushed the buzzer. The man who answered was definitely human, but big enough to be something else. Professional wrestler or troll. Both, maybe. The thought made me smile. He blocked the door, standing with arms loose and ready. “Something funny?” he asked, voice like a horse-hoof rasp on stone.
“Not really. Tell Katie that Jane Yellowrock is here.” Tough always works best on first acquaintance. That my knees were knocking wasn’t a consideration.
“Card?” Troll asked. A man of few words. I liked him already. My new best pal. With two gloved fingers, I unzipped my leather jacket, fished a business card from an inside chest pocket, and extended it to him. It read, “Jane Yellowrock, Have Stakes Will Travel.” Vamp killing is a bloody business. I had discovered that a little humor went a long way to making it all bearable.
Troll took the card and closed the door in my face. I might have to teach my new pal a few manners. But that was nearly axiomatic for all the men of my acquaintance.
I heard a bike two blocks away. It wasn’t a Harley. Maybe a Kawasaki, like the bright red crotch-rocket I had seen earlier. I wasn’t surprised when it came into view and it was the Joe from Decatur Street. He pulled his bike up beside mine, powered down and sat there, eyes hidden behind glasses so much like mine we could have ordered them from the same online site. He had a toothpick in his mouth and it twitched once as he pulled the helmet off.
The Joe was a looker. A little taller than my six-feet-even, he had olive skin, black hair, black brows. Black jacket and jeans. Black boots. Bit of overkill with all the black, but he made it work, with muscular legs wrapped around the red bike.
No silver in sight. No shotgun, but a suspicious bulge beneath his right arm. Made him a leftie. Something glinted in the back of his collar. A knife. Maybe more than one. There were scuffs on his boots—Western, like mine—not Harley butt stompers. But his were Frye’s and mine were ostrich skin Luchesse’s. I pulled in scents, my nostrils widening. His boots smelled of horse manure, fresh. Local boy then, or one who had been in town long enough to find a mount. I smelled horse sweat and hay, a clean blend of scents. And cigar. It was the cigar that made me like him. The taint of steel, gun oil, and silver made me fall in love. Well, sorta. My beast thought he was kinda cute, and maybe tough enough to be worthy of us. There was a faint scent of something deeper on the man, hidden beneath the surface smells, that made me wary.

Read the rest of chapter one here.

Pages: 320

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Werewolf in Denver by Vicki Lewis Thompson

This is a cute little romance about two werewolves, Kate and Duncan, who formed groups on opposite sides of a mating issue.  Kate picks Duncan up at the airport and they get stranded in a snowstorm on the way back to Kate's hotel where a wolf convention is being held.  They each feel a strong attraction for the other. After a night of passion, they get rescued by the hotel staff and join the convention.  How are they going to handle being on opposite sides and falling in love?

From the author's site:
When Denver-based Were blogger and founder of Honoring Our Werewolf Legacy (HOWL) Kate Stillman agrees to take on political “bad boy” Duncan MacDowell in a public debate about werewolf segregation, she’s confident she’ll sail through the challenge without letting down her guard.
And what can go wrong while hanging out with the sexy Scottish founder of Werewolves Optimizing Our Future (WOOF) long enough to convince him his views on interspecies mating are mistaken? Plenty, when Kate discovers that she’s actually wildly attracted to her opponent—who by all accounts prefers dating human women!
But what hope can there be when this irresistible werewolf with a cause believes their future depends on Kate losing the argument?


 Excerpt:

Chapter One

WERECON 2012: HOWLERS CHALLENGE WOOFERS
Exclusive WEREWORLD CELEBRITY WATCH report by Angela Sapworthy
(Denver) Excitement mounts on the eve of this landmark conference, the first of its kind in werewolf history. A star-studded list of attendees from the far reaches of the globe will gather at the elegant Stillman pack lodge in Estes Park near Denver this weekend to debate the conference theme, OUR FUTURE IN A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT.
As readers of WCW know, opinion is sharply divided on the topic. Weres have rebounded after being hunted nearly to extinction, but their presence as a significant economic force in all the major cities in the world remains unknown to the human community.
Extremely eligible bachelor and Scotsman Duncan MacDowell, younger brother of MacDowell pack leader Colin MacDowell, wants that to change. In May, he founded Werewolves Optimizing Our Future (WOOF), and his wildly popular blog Wolf Whistles champions his belief that wolves should stop hiding their shape-shifting abilities, openly partner with humans in business, and even consider inter-species mating. Obviously human females would rally to that cause if every male Were looked like Duncan MacDowell in a kilt!
But not all Weres are ready to climb on board Duncan’s tartan-clad bandwagon. This summer the Were blogosphere heated up as Denver-based Kate Stillman, granddaughter of pack leader Elizabeth Stillman, launched Honoring Our Werewolf Legacy (HOWL). Her well-known dating website Furevermore.com celebrates Were-Were mating as the only way to go. Kate, who claims she’s never dated a human, advocates the beauty of tradition and the safety of keeping our secret secure.
But is the tide turning in Duncan’s direction? This reporter recently spoke to the Wallace brothers of New York, both of whom shocked the Were community last year by taking human mates. From all indications, their human brides are blissfully happy. And why not if they share an address with sexy wolves like Aidan and Roarke Wallace?
Despite the apparent success of what’s being called The Wallace Experiment, Kate Stillman predicts that such unions spell disaster. Although Emma and Abby Wallace have proven trustworthy, Kate insists the Wallace brothers’ behavior may still adversely impact the Were community. Predictably, Duncan MacDowell calls the Wallaces heroes for bucking tradition.
For months Kate and Duncan have traded barbed comments on their blogs and via our online instant messaging system, affectionately named Sniffer. Adding fuel to the controversy, they’ve each published bestselling ebooks, available only through Were distribution channels, of course, defending their respective positions.
Duncan’s followers (Woofers) are poised to confront Kate’s supporters (Howlers) at the conference and will no doubt fill the room during the final session when Duncan and Kate face off in what promises to be a heated debate and great fun for this reporter! Duncan’s last Sniff before he left Scotland was a succinct call to arms – Woofers, it’s on #primedforaction.
And so am I, my friends! For on-the-spot conference updates and celebrity sightings, be sure to follow me on Sniffer @newshound or #werecon2012. I’ll be your eyes, ears, and nose!
* * *
Standing at the Denver airport’s baggage claim with her cell phone to her ear on Friday afternoon, Kate Stillman listened to her assistant Heidi Jenson rant about a an apparent server hack that had temporarily taken down their Were-Were dating site Furevermore.com.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if those Woofers are behind it,” Heidi said. “When you see Duncan MacDowell, you tell him that hacking into our dating site is the most despicable, underhanded –”
“I doubt my grandmother would want me to start our first conversation that way.” Kate checked the arrivals board and noted that Duncan’s plane was on the ground. “Her exact words were – Warm hospitality will disarm him, my dear. You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
“Forget the honey, Kate. Just swat the bastard. No telling how many potential clients we lost, or how many romances will be derailed this weekend because of his damned Woofers.”
“We don’t know it was them.”
“We might not have proof, and I’m not saying Duncan himself did it, but his followers are insane.”
“I know. Listen, Heidi, I’d better go. He could show up any minute.”
“Okay. Text me if he says anything suspicious.”
“I will. ‘Bye.” Kate disconnected the call. Heidi loved conspiracies, but Kate hoped her assistant was wrong about this one. Trading insults was all part of the game, but interfering with a commercial venture was actionable.
Surely the Woofers wouldn’t be so stupid as to hack into her dating site on the eve of the conference. She would mention it to Duncan and see how he reacted, because he should know that it happened, but she couldn’t openly accuse him without evidence.
Not only would that be unfair of her, but Grandma Elizabeth, the Stillman pack alpha and a force to be reckoned with, would be furious. She’d been totally in love with the idea of Kate standing with a sign and a smile when Duncan arrived to collect his luggage. No accompanying staff, no fancy limo. Simple western hospitality.   For more, click here.


Pages: 325

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron

This selection I found for my Monthly Key Word Challenge 2013. Key Word: Sand

In this Deborah Knott mystery, Deborah is headed to Wilmington, NC for a judges educational conference.  Dwight and Cal are headed to Virginia to empty out Cal's late mother's house.  Deborah and her friends are out having a nice dinner and when they are leaving Deborah finds one of the judges dead.  The officer in charge asks Deborah for her help in finding the murderer.  They are not having much success. Another judge gets hit by a car and almost killed.  They track down the car and realize it's a waiter from the restaurant where the first judge was murdered.  Is he the killer?

I was surprised by whom the killer was.  I did not suspect this person.

Book Description from the author's site:
Judge Deborah Knott can't wait to trade the lush fields of Colleton County for the clear blue ocean and long stretches of sand at Wrightsville Beach. A summer conference for the North Carolina district court judges couldn't come soon enough for Deborah, who is overwhelmed by her newly married life and the responsibilities of being a mom.

Lying beneath the hot summer sun in Wrightsville and reconnecting with old friends over delicious seafood dinners in nearby Wilmington, Deborah finally begins to unwind. But tensions are building beneath the surface of this seemingly peaceful resort area. Deborah's relaxing trip to the seaside takes a sudden, dark turn when she stumbles upon the strangled corpse of one of her less-admired colleagues. It doesn't take long before she realizes that the killer may have another target, much closer to home. 

Unwilling to stand idly by while the murderer draws near, Deborah begins to investigate alone. At each turn, her list of suspects grows to include everyone from her judicial colleagues and friends to local television personalities and restaurant employees, and soon it seems that anyone in Wilmington could be capable of murder.


A very small excerpt here

Pages: 291

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Restrike by Reba White Williams

I was browsing through the new book section at the library the other day and saw this one. I was intrigued by the cover. Apparently, this will be a series.
Coleman Greene owns and runs a magazine about art.  Her cousin Dinah has a gallery where she sells prints. Heyward Bain comes to NYC to open a Print Museum. Coleman is fascinated by him. Then a man gets murdered.  La Grange was a sometime seller of prints that he found at yard sales and stuff. Coleman finds out he is the seller of a master print.  What?  Something doesn't ring true.  Then another master print comes up for auction and again the seller is La Grange.  But he has died already. The buyer of both prints is Simon who buys for Bain. Coleman and Dinah are suspicious but the  art investigator that works with NYPD doesn't believe that La Grange's death is connected to art sales.  Coleman, Dinah and their friends keep digging and find out a huge conspiracy of robbery and murder.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, this one's for you.

From amazon:
Money and murder go hand in glove in the rarified art world of Reba White Williams's exciting first novel, Restrike.

Cousins Coleman and Dinah Greene moved from North Carolina to New York after college to make their mark on the art world: Coleman is the editor of an influential arts magazine and Dinah is the owner of a print gallery in Greenwich Village. But their challenges are mounting as one of Coleman's writers is discovered selling story ideas to a competitor and The Greene Gallery is in the red because sales are down.

When billionaire Heyward Bain arrives with a glamorous assistant, announcing plans to fund a fine print museum, Coleman is intrigued and plans to get to know Bain and publish an article about him. Dinah hopes to sell him enough prints to save her gallery. At the same time, swindlers, attracted by Bain’s lavish spending, invade the print world to grab some of his money.

When a print dealer dies in peculiar circumstances, Coleman is suspicious, but she can’t persuade the NYPD crime investigator of a connection between the dealer’s death and Bain’s buying spree. After one of Coleman’s editors is killed and Coleman is attacked, the police must acknowledge the connection, and Coleman becomes even more determined to discover the truth about Bain. In an unforgettable final scene, Coleman risks her life to expose the last deception threatening her, her friends, and the formerly tranquil print world.


Pages: 405

The Chosen by Theresa Meyers

This is book three in the Legend Chronicles.  Somehow I missed book two!  Remington, the middle Jackson brother, is on a mission to find his piece of the Book.  China, a Darkin, is helping him. They meet a few interesting people and Darkin along the way and ride on a steam submarine down thru the Gulf of California almost to Guatemala!  They also ride an airship to Krakatoa.

From the author's site:
The Chosen: a prophecy older than dirt and more dangerous than death. Even as they perfected steam-powered gadgetry and rounded up varmints from Hell, the Jackson brothers didn't believe in it. But when the chips are down, three brothers named for weapons aren't going out without a fight...
A Walk On The Wild Side
Attorney by day, demon-hunter by night, Remington Jackson is used to being on the sunny side of the law, even in the Wild West. But it's showdown time, and Remy and his brothers are getting desperate. They don't have the relic they need to slam the door shut on evil—so Remy is going to have to find and steal part of it.
Enter China McGee, shapeshifter, thief, beauty, and current prisoner. When Remy offers her freedom in exchange for a little light-fingered help, she's pretty sure she's going to end the association with a good old-fashioned seductive double cross. But there's something about fighting through a jungle full of Mayan ruins that makes you want to settle down together. China could change. Remy might be special. But none of that matters if the devil takes them all...

Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 392

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler

This is the sixth and final Jane True novel.  Jane has to save Anyan who was taken over by the White. The Universe sends help to Jane and the gang thru the Dalai Lama.  He points them to an old text which they have to decipher. Will they save Anyan and destroy the White?  How will they destroy the Red/Morrigan?
This is a captivating ending to this series.

Back Cover:
Anyan may be trapped in an evil dragon and Blondie may be gone, but Jane knows one thing: she’s not about to give up. She’s ready to tear down heaven and earth to save her lover, despite those who believe he’s lost.
Luckily for Jane, those who’ve given up on Anyan do not include those closest to her. Defying The Powers That Be, Jane and Company form their own crack squad of misfits, in whose hands the fate of the world may well rest.
With a little help from her friends, the Universe, and lots of snacks, Jane embarks on her greatest adventure yet, confident that with great sacrifice comes great reward. The question is, who will be that sacrifice?

Praise for the Jane True Series:
“The Janet Evanovich of paranormal fantasy.” –Paul Goat Allen
“Peeler packs a hell of a a punch . . . bold, bawdy, and bright, and breaks the usual paranormal boundaries with sensitivity and style to burn.” –Kat Richardson
“Jane is sure to endear herself to new readers with her charm, sass, and vulnerability, while longtime fans will be thrilled by her magical and emotional growth.” — Publishers Weekly

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

The agony was excruciating, a white heat at the center of my consciousness. Like that pinprick in space that pulls everything into its ever-widening gyre, the black hole inside me expanded.
Only moments had passed since Anyan, in the shape of the White, had flown away with his consort, the Red. The bones that had once held the White’s spirit lay scattered in front of me. The ivory shapes blurred as unshed tears glazed my vision.
Behind me, Magog, the raven, raised her voice in mournful ululation, keening for the woman she knew as Cyntaf, and I knew as Blondie. My friend and my mentor lay a corpse in Magog’s arms.
Meanwhile, my grief beat its own cadence, an infernal drumming reminding me, at all times, of my losses.
Blondie dead. Anyan as good as. Blondie dead. Anyan as good as…
For I knew better than to hope. I’d hoped once before, looking down into my first love Jason’s staring blue eyes, that reality could be malleable. But reality was always exactly that—real, no matter what we told ourselves or how many delusions we tried to build. Like sandcastles, they always crumbled.
[My child,] came the voice in my head.
Creature, I sobbed, feeling its love wrap around me. It, too, was unimaginably stricken by Blondie’s death. It felt she was a daughter, and one of the only remnants of a time long ago, before time began, when the world had been a different place.
Many of Blondie’s memories were its memories, and they died with her.
We mourned then, crooning into each other’s minds.
[Join with me,] it pleaded, and I instantly understood. We would live together in my mind, until we could function again. We would support each other, and we could heal.
I will never heal, I told the creature, that pit of hopelessness I knew so well yawning in front of me.
In my own mind, I took a step toward that pit.
But the creature was there, appearing as a single great eye. It flooded my consciousness as it went everywhere, wrapping around me, cocooning me…
Awake, I slept.  

Click here to read more.


Pages: 351

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Since I liked the Demon Series by Diana Rowland I decided to try another of hers.  I liked this one.  Angel wakes up in the hospital.  There is nothing wrong with her but she is sure that she was in a car accident.  The nurse tells her that a policeman found her naked on the side of the road.  No she was not assaulted.  She gets a bag with clothing and a few bottles of some chunky liquid AND a note.  It says drink one of the bottles every other day.  Angel is instructed to go apply for a job at the coroner's office the next morning.  If she doesn't she will violate her probation and get sent to jail.
For the first time, she is not hooked on booze and/or drugs.  She gets to work and starts liking her job.  But what is up? Then she gets another note on her car - if you crave it, eat it.  Weird.  Because she has been craving human brains!!  What!!

From the back cover:
Angel Crawford is a loser
Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she's a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who's been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.
That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn't have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there's a job waiting for her at the parish morgue--and that it's an offer she doesn't dare refuse.
Before she knows it she's dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey--just when she's hungriest!
Angel's going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn't, she's dead meat.
Literally.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Pages: 310

Pretty Bloom


Tada!!  The first sunflower!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland

This is the second Kara Gillian novel. Kara is back at work after the whole Symbol Man murders is finished. Kara gets called to check on another officer who did not get to work on time.  She gets to Brian's house and finds him dead.  It looks like a suicide but his essence has been sucked out of him. There's a note implying that he killed his wife and then himself. Meanwhile her aunt's essence has not returned to her body after the summoning that lead to the end of the Symbol Man murders.  The demon lord, Rhyzkahl, tells her how to return it but it will take a lot of work but it may not work.  Ryan is back in her life and she is not sure what is happening between them. Kara senses something is not right. Then some crazy things start to happen.

From the author's site:
The serial killer known as the Symbol Man has been dealt with, the demonic lord Rhyzkahl is no longer invading her dreams, and Detective Kara Gillian is doing her best to get her life back to normal after being kind of dead for a while.
Unfortunately, there's little about Kara's life that is ever normal or simple. As a skilled summoner of demons, she's hoping to use her arcane abilities to retrieve her aunt's essence and restore it to her body. But when Kara discovers that FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff is somehow known to the demonkind--and not in a good way--old doubts surface and new problems emerge. Moreover, her investigations into the deaths of several seemingly unrelated victims reveal disturbing links to the arcane, with unsettling similarities to her own situation.
But matters get more complicated when she discovers other links between the victims, leading her into a morass of political corruption. And it doesn't help that Rhyzkahl has asked her to be his own summoner, a commitment that could have quite a few advantages and plenty of pitfalls. Politics--whether among humans or demons--is a dangerous game with very high stakes, and Kara is learning that lesson the hard way.

Excerpt

Chapter One
The demon was little more than a mist of fog and teeth, barely visible to normal sight. It coiled in slow undulations in the backseat of my Taurus as I drove through the night, the tires of the car humming on the asphalt in low rhythmic counterpoint to the movement of the demon. The nearly full moon draped my surroundings in silver and shadow, making even this deserted highway running through a rank swamp look beautiful. There were no other headlights along this stretch of road, but this was little surprise since there were no houses or businesses out here—nothing but swamp, marsh, and the occasional patch of dry ground that pretended to be woods.

I could hear the demon murmuring softly to itself in hunger, and I stilled it with a nudge of pressure on the arcane bindings. It would feed soon enough, but I needed it to complete the agreed-upon task first. I’d dealt with this type of demon many times before and knew that the creatures were far less useful after a feed—preferring to coil in sated comfort rather than hunt.

I continued to drive until I felt the change in the demon—a sudden tension as if it had perked up its nonexistent ears. I pulled over to the side of the highway, then walked around to the other side of the car and opened the back door. It felt a bit absurd to cart a demon around in the backseat of my car, but I couldn’t exactly perform a summoning out in the middle of the swamp. I was limited to summoning demons in the prepared diagram in my basement.

Murmuring again, the demon slid out in eager anticipation of a hunt. The demon was an ilius—a third-level demon, about as intelligent as a dog but a thousand times better at tracking. It was little more than a shifting fog, visible in my othersight as a coil of smoke with teeth that flashed and disappeared like a teeming mass of vaporous piranhas. Without othersight—a sense beyond the senses that revealed more than the mundane world most people were able to see—it was essentially invisible, except for the deep feeling of unease it left in those it touched.

I opened the paper bag and pulled out the baseball cap, allowing the ilius to twine around it and fill itself with the scent, the feel of the one I sought. “Seek,” I said, and reinforced the spoken command with mental pressure. The demon shimmered in my othersight, then sped away across the grass and through the trees like an arcane zephyr.
Read more here.

Pages: 369