Thursday, October 31, 2013

7th Canadian Book Challenge Book List

I posted about this challenge here. This is where I will list my selections. I am trying for 9 books in 2013. I know that I will read way past the 13 required for this challenge by July 1, 2014.

1. Omens by Kelley Armstrong
2. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
3. Still Life by Louise Penny
4. Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong
5. Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
6. The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
7. Now You See Her by Joy Fielding
8. The Accident by Linwood Barclay
9. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
10. The Beauty Bride by Claire DelaCroix
11. Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
12. Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
13. Borrowed Billionaire Complete Collection by Mimi Strong
14. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
15. Hard Day's Knight by Katie MacAlister set in Ontario, Canada
16. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
17. The Keeping by Nicky Charles
18. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
19. The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
20. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
21. Dreaming In Color by Charlotte Vale Allen




7th Canadian Book Challenge

I was looking around for challenges for 2014.  I found this one that runs from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014. You only have to read 13 books.  I think I have already read a few since July!

Here's the info from bookmineset.

1. What is the Canadian Book Challenge?

The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants. More on reviews below.(It's also a lot of fun and collectively we've read and reviewed thousands of Canadian titles! Actually, the whole books, not just the titles.)

2. How do I join?

Send me an email (jmutford (at) hotmail [dot] com) with the subject line "Sign Me Up!" and I'll add you to the list. Consider yourself a participant even if you don't get a response from me right away. Come July 1st you can get started right away. As soon as I get your first link (see below), I'll add your name to the participant list on the sidebar of this blog.

3. Oh no, it's past July 1st, can I still join?

Of course! In the past I've had people join in the very last month. My response to latecomers is always the same: If you think you can realistically read and review 13 books in the time remaining, then why not? To join, just follow the exact same instructions as above.

4. What constitutes a Canadian book?

Canadian books can include any genre or form (picture books, poetry, novels, non-fiction, plays, anthologies, graphic novels, cookbooks, etc), can be written by Canadian authors (by birth or immigration) or about Canadians. Ultimately, participants must decide for themselves whether or not something fits the description of Canadian.

4. Do I need to know ahead of time which books I'll be reading?

No. But by all means, if you want to plan ahead, do so. Some people find it's more of a challenge to do it this way, and others prefer to find their next book as it comes. If you do make a list and decide to alter it along the way, that's fine.

5. Do I need to have a theme?

No. I personally like to read at least one book from each province and territory (it's the whole reason 13 has become the goal number). Last edition some of the themes included deceased authors, books set North of 60, crime fiction, small press publishers, and rereads. In other years we've had people choose books solely by a particular author or province. The options are yours to decide.

Certainly a theme could make the challenge more difficult, but then again, it could also make it more fun. In any case, the majority of participants opt to have no theme at all, just pushing for 13 random Canadian books. They feel they can still read what they want, when they want and aren't too confined by restrictions. The choice is up to you.


6. What if I don't reach 13 books or if I do?

If you don't, but you've had fun, it's still good. Your reviews will still be read by other participants. And you'll have a chance again when the next edition comes around. Some people ask if it's okay to fill up the remainder with children's books since they're shorter. I personally think children's books (picture books) are just as valid and need to be read and discussed as much as novels. Others think that it's a challenge, and as such, shouldn't be easy. Again, this is a participant's decision to make.

If you do reach 13, you may stop, or keep going. Remember, it's 13 or more. I love to see how many I can squeeze in. There are no prizes for reading the most. I want to stress that this is not a competition against other people. However, for all those that do meet the requirement of 13 or more, your names will be put in for a random draw for a prize.

7. Can my books count towards other challenges?

Of course! That's half the fun! I read some this past year that counted in the Graphic Novels Challenge and the Canadian Book Challenge.

8. I don't live in Canada and am finding it difficult to get my hands on Canadian books. Any recommendations or solutions?

It'll probably be easier to find some of our "big names" at your library (Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields, for example). Of course, you can always order online and check out the digital book market. And if you ask nicely enough, Canadian participants have been known to ship books far and wide to help out.

9. What if I read a book and don't have time to review it?

Sorry, that's one point I'm sticky on. I don't count it until it's reviewed. By all means, feel free to read 13 Canadian books, but the reviewing part is an equal component of the challenge. I want the books talked about even if you didn't enjoy it. While I say "review" I don't mean anything necessarily lengthy and I don't mean necessarily a review as much as I mean your thoughts on the book, questions about why an author said something, memories it stirred up. Anything, just something.

10. What if I don't finish a book, can I still review and count it?
Personally, I wouldn't but it's entirely your choice. If you feel that it's the book's fault that you didn't finish it, I suppose that's worthy of noting. If you left the book at the beach and haven't found another copy, probably not.

11. I don't have a blog, how do I post a review online?

Most Canadian Book Challenge participants are bloggers, but not all. Book reviews can also be posted on other sites such as GoodReads, Bookcrossing, Chapters, Amazon, and more. However, I do have a few requirements:

i. Participants wishing to read your reviews should not need a membership or sign up to do so. For instance, anyone can read a review at Chapters, so it's fine. However, a review posted on Facebook would be out since not everyone has a Facebook account and would not be able to access it.

ii. When you share a link make sure it's directly to your review and participants do not have to go searching endlessly to find it. For instance, if you blog, link to your posts, not your entire blog. (For example: Review NOT Blog) If you link from Chapters, after you write and publish your review, you will be be able to click on your review title which will provide your link in the URL bar. (For example: Review NOT Book page)

Yet another option is simply writing your review in an email to me (jmutford (at) hotmail [dot] com) and I'll happily post it on The Book Mine Set.

12. How do I share links to my reviews?

Each month there will be a roundup post here at the Book Mine Set. This year I'll once again be using a link sharing tool from inlinkz.com similar to the one they use at the Graphic Novels Challenge. Whenever you finish writing a review, just head to my blog and click on the "Share your link" icon. Add your name and in parentheses the title of the book you just reviewed, then provide the link. I'll also ask that in the comment section of that post that you bring us up to speed on your progress so far (ex. 6/13 read). I'll send an email reminder once a month.

13. Will there be prizes?

Possibly. In the past I've offered monthly prizes, but I've had to spend a lot of time soliciting publishers for donations.  Canadian publishing companies and authors have been very generous in their support. However, this year in an effort to keep down on my workload, I'm leaving the ball in their court. Should publishers or authors want to donate books as prizes, they can contact me at jmutford (at) hotmail [dot] com to arrange the details. And if there are no prizes this time around, let's let finishing the challenge be its own reward.

14. What's up with the logo?
Keeping with the "7" theme, I've included our 7th prime minister, a group of seven image, and Tim Horton who played #7 with the Toronto Maple Leafs (incidentally, my cousin Gary Roberts also played #7 on the Leafs). Sadly there hasn't been a Canadian James Bond.

15. Besides the logo, anything new with the 7th edition?
I like to also theme participant progress in the sidebar of my blog. In the past for instance, if you've read 1 book or 7 books so far, you may have been charted as having reached certain Canadian mountain peaks or popular Canadian food. This year I've used results from a CBC Radio initiative they had a few years back in which they asked Canadians to nominate the 7 Wonders of Canada. (I'm using the audience poll results not the ones chosen by a stupid panel of irrelevant judges.) Of course, there are 13 levels of the book challenge (1 to 13+), so I've also dipped into the 6 runners up.

Also, I'm going to try and highlight some of the Canadian Book Challenge participants. Only for those people who are interested in being highlighted of course, I'm going to try a new feature called 10 from 100. I'm creating a list of 100 random questions designed to get to know you and your reading habits a little better. You simply need to pick 10 to answer. I'm hoping to have one highlighted participant per month. Again, this feature will be entirely optional!

14. How can I help?

By joining, reading and reviewing, obviously. And sharing links to your reviews. I also need help with promotion. Please, even if you're opting not to participate this time around, help promote the challenge on your blog. Feel free to write a post that tells your readers that you're joining and why, and if you've participated before, how much fun it is. Also, use the logo above, feel free to place it permanently in your sidebar.

The Villa of Death by Joanna Challis

Daphne is involved in another murder. Her friend Ellen is getting married. On the day of the wedding her husband Teddy is found dead not long after the ceremony. Was it a natural death or murder?  Then another person connected with Teddy is found murdered. What is going on?  Are the two murders connected? Daphne and Tommy get busy and figure everything out!

From the publisher:
It’s the summer of 1927 and aspiring novelist Daphne du Maurier is headed to Cornwall for the wedding of her dear friend Ellen Hamilton to American millionaire Teddy Grimshaw. Having met during the chaos of the Great War, the lovers were cruelly separated for nearly a decade by circumstance and family interference. Now the wedding ceremony—held at Thornleigh Manor, a grand estate that has been in the Hamilton family for five centuries—marks a renewed hope for the future.
But joy quickly turns to devastation when Teddy is found murdered right after the wedding. Wealth, jealousy, and buried secrets provide no shortage of suspects—or danger to everyone at Thornleigh, including Daphne herself. When Ellen is suspected of being the murderess, the independent-minded Daphne, along with the dashing Major Browning, is inspired to uncover the truth, and to write her next novel.

Download this for an excerpt.

Pages: 296

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

First Sight by Danielle Steel

Timmie is a world famous clothing designer. She is busy, busy, busy.  She goes to Paris for a fashion show and has an appendicitis attack.  She takes a liking to the doctor, Jean-Claude. Eventually they meet again and it's love at first sight.  Will it work out?


From Steel's site:
New York. London. Milan. Paris. Fashion Week in all four cities. A month of endless interviews, parties, and unflagging work and attention to detail at the semiannual ready to wear fashion shows—the famous prêt-à-porter. At the center of the storm and avalanche of work is American Timmie O’Neill, whose renowned line, Timmie O, is the embodiment of casual chic, in fashion and for the home. She has created a business that inspires, fills, and consumes her life.
With an unerring instinct for what the next trend will be, an innate genius for business, tireless labor, and sheer fearlessness, starting from nothing, over two decades Timmie has built an international empire that has brought her enormous satisfaction and success. In a world where humility and compassion are all too rare, her humor, kindness, integrity, and creativity are inspirational. Yet as blessed as she feels by her success, Timmie harbors the private wounds of a devastating childhood and past tragedy. She is too smart, too experienced, and too hurt to want much in her personal life beyond a succession of convenient, very limited relationships. Always willing to take risks in business, she never risks her heart.
But despite her well-ordered and highly controlled world, it turns out that Timmie O’Neill is not immune to magic when it strikes. And it strikes in Paris during Paris Fashion Week, when an intriguing Frenchman comes into her life when she gets sick. At first, Timmie and Jean-Charles Vernier are only patient and physician. They become confidants and friends, corresponding at a safe distance between Paris and Los Angeles once she goes home. There is every reason why they must remain apart. But neither can deny their growing friendship and the electricity that sparks whenever they meet.
First Sight is as complex and compelling as modern life itself. Careers, families, histories, losses, duty, obligation, and fear of losing control and getting hurt. It is a tale of daring to take risks, and losing control just enough to have a life, when the opportunity presents itself. When two very different worlds and strong-willed people collide, everything changes in an instant, as they confront the age-old question of whether to lay oneself bare and risk intimacy—or not. Are they brave enough to face what comes next? And will they do it together or apart?

For an excerpt, click here.


Pages: 373

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

I enjoyed this book in which the characters were a mix of real and fictional. Mina Holmes (Sherlock's niece) and Evaline Stoker (Bram's sister) get thrown together by Irene Adler who needs to find who is abducting young women. Princess Alexandra has asked for her discreet help.  With the help of two young men, the girls figure out who is taking the women and why!

This is a teen fiction book.  But I really enjoyed it.  I liked how the girls were quite different from each other but needed the skills of the other girl to solve this mystery.

Summary from chroniclebooks:
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate. Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 350

Monday, October 28, 2013

Death, Taxes and a Skinny No-Whip Latte by Diane Kelly

I enjoyed this story of two IRS agents trying to get a Mexican criminal acting out in the US and Mexico.  He killed a few people after they helped him launder his money.  He also turned an agent from their office.  Tara will not give up until she gets her man!


From the author's site:
IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway is at work again.  This time, she and her partner, Eddie, are after Marcos Mendoza, a financial expert and suspected loan shark with cross-border ties to questionable businesses and people in Mexico. Mendoza hasn’t just cheated the U.S and Mexican governments, he may have left a trail of bodies, too. Neither the Texas Rangers nor the FBI could prove a link between Mendoza and the suspicious deaths of his employees and associates, but the sheer number of bodies indicates the deaths aren’t mere coincidence.  What’s more, Mendoza bought off Special Agent Nick Pratt, who’d earlier been assigned to the investigation, and set the traitor up in a luxury condominium in Cancún, Mexico.
He must be stopped.
Unfortunately, Mendoza is as elusive as his activities are illegal. Tracking down this tax cheat proves much more difficult, and more dangerous, than Tara anticipated.  Given the highly sensitive nature of the case, Tara is forbidden to disclose the details to anyone, including her boyfriend, Brett Ellington. Secrets nearly tore the two apart in the past and history seems destined to repeat itself.
As Tara and Eddie delve deeper into Mendoza’s business enterprises, they realize his illegal activities extend far beyond high-interest finance. They also learn Mendoza will do anything to protect the profitable illegal empire he has created.
When Tara receives an unexpected call from a surprising source, she must decide whether to follow orders or follow through. Tara must risk it all—her relationship with Brett, her job, and her life itself—to put Mendoza out of business for good.

Excerpt:
Chapter One
It’s a Terrifying Job, But Somebody’s Gotta Do It

 “I’m scared shitless, Eddie.”
I looked over at my partner as he pulled his maroon minivan into the parking lot of the downtown Dallas post office. Eddie Bardin was tall and lean, sporting a gray suit and starched white dress shirt with a mint-green silk tie. Though Eddie was African-American, he was more J. Crew than 2 Live Crew, like a dark-chocolate version of President Obama. Not that Eddie’d ever condescend to vote for a democrat.
Despite the fact that my partner was a conservative married suburban dad and I was a free-thinking single city girl, the two of us got along great and made a kick-ass team. Problem was, the current ass we were aiming to kick was a very frightening one.
A row of cars stretched out in front of us, a solid red line of brake lights illuminating the early-evening drizzle. Apparently I wasn’t the only slacker who waited until April fifteenth to file their tax return.
Eddie pulled to a stop behind one of those newer odd-looking rectangular cars. Cube, was it? Quad? Shoebox? He glanced my way. “Scared? You? C’mon, Holloway. You’ve been slashed with a box cutter and shot at and lived to brag about it.” His scoffing tone might have been more believable if I hadn’t noticed his grip tighten on the steering wheel. “We’re invincible, you and me. Like Superman. Or toxic waste.”        
I scrunched my nose. “Ew. Couldn’t you have come up with a better metaphor?”
“I’m exhausted, Tara. And besides, it was a simile.” He muttered something under his breath about me being the child the education system left behind.
I might have been offended if I thought he truly meant it. You didn’t become a member of the Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations team without a stellar academic record, impressive career credentials, and a razor-sharp intellect, not to mention a quick hand on both a calculator and a gun. Not that I’m bragging. But it’s true.
I toyed with the edge of the manila envelope in my lap. “Battaglia and Gryder were chump change compared to Marcos Mendoza, and you know it.”
Eddie and I had recently put two tax cheats–Jack Battaglia and Michael Gryder–behind bars, but not before Battaglia had sliced my forearm with a box cutter and Gryder had taken pot shots at me with a handgun and pierced Eddie’s earlobe with a bullet. Not exactly polite behavior. What’s more, neither of those men had a history of violence prior to attacking us. The focus of our current investigation, Marcos Mendoza, was an entirely different matter.
Due to a lack of evidence, Mendoza had never been officially accused of any crimes. Yet his business associates had a suspicious history of disappearing.
And resurfacing.
In dumpsters.
In pieces.
They’d found parts of Andrew Sheffield, a former employee of Mendoza and presumably his most recent victim, spread among garbage receptacles from Harlingen, to Houston, to San Antonio and beyond. The sanitation department of El Paso found Sheffield’s right foot, still clad in a pricey Ferragamo loafer, in the trash bin behind the police headquarters. Andrew had yet to be fully accounted for.
Hence my scared shitless state of mind.

To read more click on the link above....

The Evil Inside by Heather Graham

Another good story from Graham. Jenna's uncle calls her to come home to Salem, Massachusetts to help clear a young man's name.  This boy is accused of killing his family.  He insists that he did not.  But he lives in the murder house.  Jenna gets help from her team from the FBI and the boy's lawyer Sam.  She figures out just what is happening in Salem.

From the author's site:

SOME DEATHS LIVE ON FOREVER

For as long as it has stood overlooking New England’s jagged coastline, Lexington House has been the witness to madness…and murder. But in recent years the inexplicable malice that once tormented so many has lain as silent as its victims. Until now…
A member of the nation’s foremost paranormal forensic team, Jenna Duffy has made a career out of investigating the inexplicable. Yet nothing could prepare her for the string of slayings once again plaguing Lexington House—or for the chief suspect, a boy barely old enough to drive, much less kill.
With the young man’s life on the line, Jenna must team up with attorney Samuel Hill to pinpoint who—or what—is taking the lives of those who get too close to the past. But everything they learn brings them closer to the forces of evil stalking this tortured ground.


There it stood, on a cliff by the water. It might have been a postcard or a movie poster, and it was as eerie as ever--a facade that graced the darkest horror movie. Its paint was chipping, the exterior was gray and it had been weathered through the centuries by icy winds ripping in off the Atlantic Ocean. The ground-floor windows seemed like black eyes; the second-floor windows might have been startled brows, half covered by the eaves of the roof.
Oddly enough, Lexington House had always remained in private hands. From its builder--the Puritan Eli Lexington--to its recent owner--the now deceased Abraham Smith--it had always found a new buyer after each and every one of its tragedies. People had once known its early history, of course, but that had been lost amid the witchcraft trials that scarred American history and continued to fascinate the social sciences. And when Mr. and Mrs. Braden had been brutally murdered two centuries later, in the 1890s, the world knew that their son had been guilty of the crime. But the legal system had worked for the killer this time, and he'd been acquitted. He and his sister had promptly sold the house to another private party. Eighty years later it had become a bed-and-breakfast, and then it had been purchased by Abraham Smith, who had longed for the property on its little cliff, segregated from all but a few neighbors.
One of whom had been murdered last week.
And now today...
Jenna Duffy had heard about nothing but the Lexington House on the radio since she'd started for Salem from Boston this morning. Uncle Jamie had called her days before, begging that she come to Salem and speak with him. Peculiar timing.
She'd pulled to the side of the road and parked to stare at the place.
A patrol car sat near the house; crime-scene tape cordoned off the entire house. There were no onlookers, though. The house was at a little distance from the historic section of town, where most visitors strolled through the Old Burial Ground, visited the House of the Seven Gables or sought out history at any one of the witch museums or the Peabody Essex Museum. And since it was October and Halloween was approaching, the real-life contemporary tragedy would fuel the ghost stories that were already being told around town.
She stared at the house awhile longer, wondering about its history. What happened at Lexington House would prove to be another horrible case of mental instability or greed, and as much as she longed to actually see the property that brought about such gruesome tragedy, she had a meeting with her uncle. She glanced at her watch and pulled back onto the road. With Halloween tourists clogging the city, it might take her time to get where she was going.
Somehow she was still early.
She parked her car at the Hawthorne Hotel's parking lot, and wandered across the street to the common.
Autumn leaves, beautiful in their warm orange, magenta and yellow colorings, rustled beneath Jenna's feet as she strolled. Before her and around her, the leaves swirled and lifted inches into the air as the breeze picked them up and whimsically tossed them about.
She heard the laughter of schoolchildren as they made their way through Salem Common, heading home but not too quickly. Autumn was certainly one of the most beautiful seasons in New England, and schoolchildren, raised with all the colors as they may have been, still loved to stop and lift the leaves, toss them about and roll in them.
Jenna had loved Salem since she'd first come to the States and her parents had chosen nearby Boston, Massachusetts, as the place to begin their new lives. They had come up here weekends, in the summers and for the Halloween festivity, and...

Pages: 368

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis


This book read just like a Daphne Du Maurier book only she was the main character. She goes to Cornwall to research some writings at an abbey there.  She is staying with the woman who was her mother's caretaker when she was a child.  Daphne is out on the beach walking one evening and stumbles onto a teenager who found a dead body.  It is the girl her brother was to marry. Daphne gets drawn into the family and has to solve the mystery.  This gives her lots of ideas for a novel!

I can't wait to read the next one!

From the publisher:
The storm led me to Padthaway.
I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me.
It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny...
So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.
Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.
As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets.

Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 292

Friday, October 25, 2013

Still Life by Louise Penny

Jane Neal is found dead.  Is it murder or an unfortunate hunting accident?  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team come to Three Pines to figure it out. We learn about the people in the town and their relationships to each other.  I really enjoyed this murder mystery. I did not figure out who the murderer was halfway through the book like a lot of other stories!

When I was researching I found out that a Canadian network made this book into a movie.  It was shown in September. I hope that it will be shown in the US.

From the author's site:
As the early morning mist clears on Thanksgiving Sunday, the homes of Three Pines come to life - all except one…
To locals, the village is a safe haven. So they are bewildered when a well-loved member of the community is found lying dead in the maple woods. Surely it was an accident - a hunter's arrow gone astray. Who could want Jane Neal dead?
In a long and distinguished career with the Sûreté du Quebec, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has learned to look for snakes in Eden. Gamache knows something dark is lurking behind the white picket fences, and if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will begin to give up its secrets…

Excerpt:
Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round. Miss Neal's was not a natural death, unless you're of the belief everything happens as it's supposed to. If so, for her seventy-six years Jane Neal had been walking toward this final moment when death met her in the brilliant maple woods on the verge of the village of Three Pines. She'd fallen spread-eagled, as though making angels in the bright and brittle leaves.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Quebec knelt down; his knees cracking like the report of a hunter's rifle, his large, expressive hands hovering over the tiny circle of blood marring her fluffy cardigan, as though like a magician he could remove the wound and restore the woman. But he could not. That wasn't his gift. Fortunately for Gamache he had others. The scent of mothballs, his grandmother's perfume, met him halfway. Jane's gentle and kindly eyes stared as though surprised to see him.
He was surprised to see her. That was his little secret.Not that he'd ever seen her before. No. His little secret was that in his mid-fifties, at the height of a long and now apparently stalled career, violent death still surprised him. Which was odd, for the head of homicide, and perhaps one of the reasons he hadn't progressed further in the cynical world of the Sûreté. Gamache always hoped maybe someone had gotten it wrong, and there was no dead body. But there was no mistaking the increasingly rigid Miss Neal. Straightening up with the help of Inspector Beauvoir, he buttoned his lined Burberry against the October chill and wondered.

Jane Neal had also been late, but in a whole other sense, a few days earlier. She'd arranged to meet her dear friend and next-door neighbor Clara Morrow for coffee in the village bistro. Clara sat at the table by the window and waited. Patience was not her long suit. The mixture of café au lait and impatience was producing an exquisite vibration. Throbbing slightly, Clara stared out the mullioned window at the village green and the old homes and maple trees that circled the Commons. The trees, turning breathtaking shades of red and amber, were just about the only things that did change in this venerable village.
Framed by the mullions, she saw a pick-up truck drift down rue du Moulin into the village, a beautiful dappled doe draped languidly over its hood. Slowly the truck circled the Commons, halting villagers in mid-step. This was hunting season and hunting territory. But hunters like these were mostly from Montreal or other cities. They'd rent pickups and stalk the dirt roads at dawn and dusk like behemoths at feeding time, looking for deer. And when they spotted one they'd slither to a stop, step out of the truck and fire. Not all hunters were like that, Clara knew, but enough of them were. Those same hunters would strap the deer on to the hood of their truck and drive around thecountryside believing the dead animal on the vehicle somehow announced that great men had done this.
Every year the hunters shot cows and horses and family pets and each other. And, unbelievably, they sometimes shot themselves, perhaps in a psychotic episode where they mistook themselves for dinner. It was a wise person who knew that some hunters - not all, but some - found it challenging to distinguish a pine from a partridge from a person.
Clara wondered what had become of Jane. She was rarely late, so she could easily be forgiven. Clara found it easy to forgive most things in most people. Too easy, her husband Peter often warned. But Clara had her own little secret. She didn't really let go of everything. Most things, yes. But some she secretly held and hugged and would visit in moments when she needed to be comforted by the unkindness of others.
Croissant crumbs had tumbled on top of the Montreal Gazette left at her table. Between flakes Clara scanned the headlines: 'Parti Quebecois Vows to Hold Sovereignty Referendum', 'Drug Bust in Townships', 'Hikers Lost in Tremblant Park'.
Clara lifted her eyes from the morose headlines. She and Peter had long since stopped subscribing to the Montreal papers. Ignorance really was bliss. They preferred the local Williamsburg County News where they could read about Wayne's cow, or Guylaine's visiting grandchildren, or a quilt being auctioned for the seniors' home. Every now and then Clara wondered if they were copping out, running away from reality and responsibility. Then she realised she didn't care. Besides, she learned everything she really needed to survive right here at Olivier's Bistro, in the heart of Three Pines.
'You're a million miles away,' came the familiar and well-loved voice. There was Jane, out of breath and smiling, her laugh-lined face pink from the autumn chill and the brisk trot from her cottage across the village green.
'Sorry I'm late,' she whispered into Clara's ear as the two hugged, one tiny, plump and breathless, the other thirty years younger, slim, and still vibrating from the caffeine high. 'You're trembling,' said Jane, sitting down and ordering her own café au lait. 'I didn't know you cared so much.'
'Filthy old hag,' laughed Clara.
'I was this morning, that's for sure. Did you hear what happened?'
'No, what happened?' Clara leaned forward eager for the news. She and Peter had been in Montreal buying canvases and acrylics for their work. Both were artists. Peter, a success. Clara as yet was undiscovered and, most of her friends secretly felt, was likely to remain that way if she persisted in her unfathomable works. Clara had to admit her series of warrior uteruses were mostly lost on the buying public, though her household items with bouffant hair and huge feet had enjoyed a certain success. She'd sold one. The rest, roughly fifty of them, were in their basement, which looked a lot like Walt Disney's workshop.
'No,' whispered Clara a few minutes later, genuinely shocked. In the twenty-five years she'd lived in Three Pines she'd never, ever heard of a crime. The only reason doors were locked was to prevent neighbors from dropping off baskets of zucchini at harvest time. True, as the Gazette headline made clear, there was another crop that equaled zucchini in scope: marijuana. But those not involved tried to turn a blind eye.
Beyond that, there was no crime. No break-ins, no vandalism, no assaults. There weren't even any police in Three Pines. Every now and then Robert Lemieux with the local Sûreté would drive around the Commons, just to show the colors, but there was no need.
Until that morning.

Read more here.

Pages: 312

Thursday, October 24, 2013

So Close To You by Rachel Carter

Lydia's grandfather is obsessed with the Montauk Project because his father disappeared while working there in the 1940's. They go to the site one day and Lydia gets inside and is time warped back to the 1940's.  Wes, a time traveler, is trying to get her to go back to her time before something happens to the future.  Lydia wants to help her family and is enjoying getting to know them, even if they do not know who she is!  Does she get back to 2012 okay?  

Loved this book!  I enjoyed the 40's people's references to her clothing.  The story shows the differences between teenage girls from the 40's and 2012.


From the author:
Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.

When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.

Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices--and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 313

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Under Gemini by Rosamunde Pilcher

Flora is going back to London after spending a year with her father and his new wife in Cornwall. She needs to get on with her life.  She takes the train and sits down to read a letter from her friend.  She has no where to stay until she can find her own place. So Flora decides to stay at a hotel she know of.  But when she arrives it is rundown and nasty looking but she needs a place for the night at least.  
Flora realizes that she has not had any dinner and goes down the street to an Italian restaurant.  As she is getting served she notices a young woman has just sat near her.  They look exactly alike! 
Flora and Rose realize they are twins - separated at birth by their divorcing parents. Rose convinces Flora to spend the night with her.  She does and they get to know each other a little.  The next day Rose flies off to Greece to meet a man. Flora decides to rest up and look for a job the next day.  She hears a knock at the door and it is a man.  At first he thinks she is Rose.  Flora explains.  He is sad.  His grandmother may be dying and he and Rose were supposed to visit.  they were to be married but she broke it off.  He had already made plans to go to Scotland.  Antony convinces Flora to go with him as Rose.  She says she will.  It's only the weekend.
Flora falls in love with Fernrigg and Antony's family and friends.  Things start to spin out of control.  They must tell the truth of who Flora really is!!

From fictiondb:
Every family hides something, but Flora Waring discovered a devastating deception in hers. At twenty-two she learned she had an identical twin, Rose, who lived with the mother Flora didn't remember at all. And when Flora ended up impersonating the high-spririted, spoiled Rose, she would have to face how cruel lies can be. When she agreed to accompany Rose's fiance to meet his grandmother in a picturesque town on the Scottish coast, she would quickly fall in love with the lush green countryside, the Armstrong family, and a rare, wonderful man. But she would also confront Rose's shocking secrets and a betrayal that could break her heart.

Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 247

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather

Lucy Gayheart was Cather's eleventh novel.  It was published in 1935. It is written in three books.
Book 1 -  Lucy is a lovely girl from a small town in Nebraska. She is home for the summer and goes around with friends.  One of them is Harry Gordon.  He is a local banker. Sometimes Harry thinks he loves Lucy. Sometimes he is enchanted with other young ladies.
Lucy goes back to Chicago. She is a piano teacher.  One day she gets an offer to play for a famous singer, Clement Sebastian.  His usual accompanist Mockford is injured and needs time to recover. She falls head over heels in love with him.  Eventually he loves her too but he is married.  They cannot go on. Sebastian goes away on a short tour.  Harry come to Chicago and wants Lucy to entertain him for the week he is there.  On the last evening, he proposes.  Lucy could not imagine being married to him and stuck in that small town.  She says she is love with someone else.  He does not believe her and she leaves him with the impression that she has "gone too far" with this other man.  Harry leaves her at the restaurant with no way to get home.
Sebastian returns and decides that he cannot live without Lucy and that she will come with him to New York and be his accompanist. He and Mockford are going to Europe but he will meet her in New York in a few months.  Lucy finds out that Harry married another woman. Then she finds out from her professor/friend that Harry and Mockford have drown in Lake Como.

Book 2:  This is Lucy's story of what happens when she comes home after her loss.  The townsfolk think she did something wrong.  They do not know that she is brokenhearted.  Lucy see Harry around town and tries to befriend him again but he will not be her friend again.

Book 3: This is Harry's story.  You learn many things about Harry.  Some good, some not!

I liked this story a lot. Lucy was a sweet and lovely woman.

From Random HouseIn this haunting 1935 novel, Cather performs a series of crystalline variations on the themes that preoccupy her greatest fiction: the impermanence of innocence, the opposition between prairie and city, and the grandeur, elation, and heartache that await a gifted young woman who leaves her small Nebraska town to pursue a life in art. 

At the age of eighteen, Lucy Gayheart heads for Chicago to study music. She is beautiful and impressionable and ardent, and these qualities attract the attention of Clement Sebastian, an aging but charismatic singer who exercises all the tragic, sinister fascination of a man who has renounced life only to turn back to seize it one more time. Out of their doomed love affair, Cather creates a novel that is as achingly lovely as a Schubert sonata.
You can read this book here.

Pages: 129

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong

Eve is a ghost.  She is always watching her daughter, Savannah.  The Fates need her to capture a demon called the Nix that has been wreaking havoc throughout time.  She gets help from an angel and her daughter's father Kris.  They track her movements through time by watching the ghosts of the women she previously inhabited. This was an interesting story.  I liked how the author used some true stories and wrote her fiction with them.


From the author:
Eve Levine made a bargain with Fate, and now she’s come to collect, sending Eve off on a quest to retrieve the soul of an escaped demi-demon. Playing ghost world bounty hunter isn’t exactly what Eve had in mind for an afterlife career, but a deal is a deal. Eve never breaks a promise…even when the cost of repaying that debt turns out to be more than this ghost can afford.

Excerpts

Prologue
First Chapter
Second Chapter

Pages: 495

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fin and Lady by Cathleen Schine

Eleven year old Fin's mother dies. He is going to live with his older half sister Lady, whom he has met only once years ago in Capri. Lady takes him away from everything he has known his entire life.  But he comes to really love her.  She loves him.  They are a family.  Lady decides she needs to be married by the time she turns 25 (in one year). Fin needs to help her find a husband.  She dates the same three men over and over. One of them Fin likes.  But after a few years Lady cannot take it anymore and runs away to Capri.  This trip of hers changes their lives forever.

Synopsis from macmillan:
It’s 1964. Eleven-year-old Fin and his glamorous, worldly, older half sister, Lady, have just been orphaned, and Lady, whom Fin hasn’t seen in six years, is now his legal guardian and his only hope. That means Fin is uprooted from a small dairy farm in rural Connecticut to Greenwich Village, smack in the middle of the swinging ’60s. He soon learns that Lady—giddy, careless, urgent, and obsessed with being free—is as much his responsibility as he is hers.
     So begins Fin & Lady, the lively, spirited new novel by Cathleen Schine, the author of the bestselling The Three Weissmanns of Westport. Fin and Lady lead their lives against the background of the ’60s, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War—Lady pursued by ardent, dogged suitors, Fin determined to protect his impulsive sister from them and from herself.
     From a writer The New York Times has praised as “sparkling, crisp, clever, deft, hilarious, and deeply affecting,” Fin & Lady is a comic, romantic love story: the story of a brother and sister who must form their own unconventional family in increasingly unconventional times.

Excerpt:
“Let’s go home”


Fin’s funeral suit was a year old, worn three times, already too small.
He knew his mother was sick. He knew she went to the hospital to get treatments. He saw the dark blue lines and dots on her chest.
“My tattoos,” she said.
She sang “Popeye the Sailor Man” and raised her skinny arms as if to flex her Popeye muscles, to make him laugh.
He knew she was sick. He knew people died. But he never thought she would die. Not his mother. Not really.
Lady came to the funeral, an unmistakably foreign presence in the bare, white Congregational church: she wore large sunglasses and wept audibly.
Fin’s neighbors, the Pounds, who raised big, thick Morgan horses, had been looking after Fin since his mother was taken to the hospital.
“I’m sure your mother knew what she was doing,” Mr. Pound said doubtfully when he saw Lady Hadley approach, her arms open wide, a lighted cigarette dangling from her lips.
“I don’t think she had much choice, dear,” Mrs. Pound whispered to him. “There was no one else, was there?”
“I like Lady,” Fin said loyally. But she was terrifying, coming at him like some mad bird with a squawk of “Fratello mio! It’s all so dreadful!”
Lady put her arms around him and held him close. She was all he had, as Mrs. Pound had pointed out. All he had. He barely knew her. Unfamiliar arms. A stranger’s cheek, wet with tears leaking from beneath her dark glasses. He wanted to cry, too, for so many reasons that they seemed to cancel one another out. He stood there like a statue, nauseated and faint.
The other mourners stared at Lady. Why wouldn’t they? She stood out. She vibrated, almost, in that quiet church. She was beautiful. Fin liked her hair, which was long. He liked her teeth. She thought they were too big, but she was wrong. She was like a horse. Not one of the Pounds’ heavy Morgan horses with short sturdy necks and thick clomping legs. She was like a racehorse. Jittery. Majestic. Her long neck and long legs—and her face, too. She had a horsey face, in a beautiful way. And bangs, like a forelock. He’d told her that, the last time he’d seen her. He had been five. “You look like a horse,” he’d said. “Charming,” said Lady. “Me and Eleanor Roosevelt.” He had not meant that at all. Eleanor Roosevelt, whose picture he’d seen in the newspaper, did not look like a horse. More like his grandmother. Big, sloping breast. Important face. He meant that Lady’s eyes were huge and dark, that her cheekbones were high and pronounced, that her face was aristocratic and long, that her hair flew in the wind like a mane, that she was coltish even in her movements of tentative wildness and reckless dignity. He didn’t know that he meant all that when he was five. He just knew that she reminded him of a horse. He was eleven now. He had not seen her for six years. She still reminded him of a horse. “A racehorse,” he had added when he was five, and Lady had smiled and said, “Oh, that’s all right, then.”
When the funeral was over, Lady would not allow him to go to the grave site.
“It’s barbaric,” she said to Mr. and Mrs. Pound.
They looked at her with shocked faces, pinched by hurt at what they, rightly, took to be Lady’s dismissal of every aspect of almost two thousand years of religious tradition.
“The kid is hanging on by his eyelids,” she said.
“I saw Daddy buried,” Fin said. “And Grandma and Grandpa.”
“I rest my case,” said Lady.
“You’re the boss,” Mr. Pound said. He heaved a sigh, then he shook Fin’s hand and wished him luck in his new life.
Mrs. Pound hugged him and said he’d make his mother proud in heaven, and then he did start to cry and ran outside.
Humiliating, to cry at his age. Babies cried. The Pounds had a baby, a bald sticky one that screamed for no reason, out of the blue. Mrs. Pound would pick it up and hug it. Fin wanted to shake it, although, really, he could not imagine even touching it. It was an obnoxious baby. “I’ll give you something to cry about,” Fin’s father used to say. Then he died. The Pounds’ baby had its parents. Stuart was its name. Fin had taken one of its toys and given it to the dog. The baby didn’t even notice.

Read more here.

Pages: 273

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

This is the second Armstrong book that I have read.  I like her writing.  In this story Savannah is getting actually work on a case. The firm gets contacted by Jesse.  He has a case he needs help with.  Since everyone is either on vacation or at a conference, Savannah is available.  Someone is murdering young women.  There is evidence of a satanic ritual.  She runs into all kinds of trouble in this town. Savannah is helped by the brother of the last victim who is a police detective from Dallas. Adam from her firm comes to town eventually. More murders occur.  Will she find out who is at fault?

Synopsis from the author's site:
The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at 21 she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town as a favor to one of the agency’s associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.
Soon Savannah is in over her head. She’s run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker, and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime. To complicate things, something weird is happening to her powers. Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn’t her last. And she also has to ask for help, perhaps the hardest lesson she’s ever had to learn.

Click here for an excerpt.

Pages: 309

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Never Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron

Ivy and David are having a yard sale.  The house that they bought three years ago was filled with other peoples's things and since Ivy is pregnant she wants to clean the house out. Melinda comes to the yard sale. Ivy remembers her from high school but wants her gone.  David decides to be nice and show her the house.
No one sees Melinda again.  The police search for her and find her car with an ad on the front seat for the yard sale.  They decide that David and Ivy murdered Melinda.  Did they?  What actually happened?

I really liked this one. I like how Ivy did not give up in spite of being 8 1/2 months pregnant.

From Ephron's site:
Psychological suspense meets suburban noir
A young couple are about to have their first child. A woman from their past shows up at their yard sale. She goes inside their house, and she never comes out.
Relentlessly fast-paced and disturbingly creepy, NEVER TELL A LIE is a page-turning thrill ride about how well we know the people we love, and how far we are willing to go to protect the secrets of our past.

Lifetime made this book into a movie called And Baby Will Fall in 2011.  Movie trailer...


Read an excerpt here.

Pages: 271

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Sixteen year old Daisy is sent to England to live with her aunt and three cousins.  She does not like her father's new wife and has not been eating.  Three days after she gets to London, her aunt goes to Norway for work and leaves the kids to fend for themselves. A few days later a war breaks out.  We don't know who is fighting against whom.  But the kids are taken away from their home and have to live through some horrible things. Will they survive?

I did enjoy this book even though it is a YA selection.  I gave it to my daughter to read.  I hope she likes it!

Synopsis from penguin:
How I Live Now is the powerful and engaging story of Daisy, the precocious New Yorker and her English cousin Edmond, torn apart as war breaks out in London of a not-so-distant future, from the multi award-winning Meg Rosoff. How I Live Now has been adapted for the big screen by Kevin Macdonald, starring Saoirse Ronan as Daisy and releases in 2013.

Fifteen-year-old Daisy thinks she knows all about love. Her mother died giving birth to her, and now her dad has sent her away for the summer, to live in the English countryside with cousins she’s never even met.

There she’ll discover what real love is: something violent, mysterious and wonderful. There her world will be turned upside down and a perfect summer will explode into a million bewildering pieces.

How will Daisy live then?

Read an excerpt here.

The book has been made into a movie that is come out two weeks ago in the UK. Movie trailer...


Pages: 194

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake

Once again Darcy find herself in the middle of a mystery. Elodie needs to sell her mother's house.  She can no longer afford to keep it going. Her mother has been gone for 18 months.  No one knows where she is. Darcy is going to clean it out and get it ready for sale.  Someone wishes that Patrice will be found.  Then Darcy finds her body in the mess.  Patrice was a packrat!!  Who killed her and why?

I like this series.  It is light hearted and very enjoyable.

Synopsis from the author's site:
When Darcy is hired by Elodie Keaton to clean up her missing mother’s disorderly home, the Wishcrafter is certainly up for the task. After all, the motto of her Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service As You Wish is “No Job Impossible.” But beneath the piles of old newspapers and knickknacks, Darcy discovers something much more disturbing: Patrice Keaton’s body.

Darcy’s determined to give Elodie peace of mind by investigating her mother’s disappearance and death. Patrice was last seen over a year ago after a fight with her Charmcrafter boyfriend. Was her murder a crime of passion? Or were Patrice’s troubles caused by the Anicula, a wish-granting amulet? Now Darcy has to find not only a killer but also the Anicula— before the power of ultimate wish fulfillment falls into the wrong hands…

For an excerpt, click here.
Pages: 307

Friday, October 11, 2013

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden by M. C. Beaton

This is the 9th  Agatha Raisin story. Agatha wants to get away.  So she just picked a town and ended up with Wyckhadden.  The hotel she is staying at is full of old people.  She is miserable. She meets a man Jimmy.  they go on a date and some how she loses her wig.  He sees that she has no hair and kind of freaks out.  A hotel guest sends her to the town witch.  Francie gives her a tonic and makes a nasty comment about her fur coat.   The next day Agatha's fur is ruined.  The police come and Agatha slips out of the hotel to see if Francie was the person who ruined her coat.  She finds her dead and considered a suspect.  The vacation goes downhill after that!  Who committed this crime??

Synopsis from the author's site:
Eye of newt, toe of frog . . . and murder most foul!

Left with bald patches thanks to the wicked doings of a murderer from a previous investigation, Agatha flees to coastal Wyckhadden to re-grow her lost locks. With hair tonic supplied by a local witch, Agatha's tresses begin to flow - but the witch is found bludgeoned to death.

The odd elderly residents of Agatha's elegantly faded hotel seem innocuous, but as she delves deeper she discovers secrets best left and powerful motives for revenge. Balancing the amorous attentions of police inspector Jimmy Jessop with an ever more treacherous search for the killer, Agatha is at her wits' end - and ready to cast a spell of her own . . .

For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 196

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Witch by Barbara Michaels

Ellen has been helping her brother-in-law Jack care for his boys and her daughter for years.  Most of the kids are leaving home and Ellen is ready for a change.  She is in love with Jack but thinks he does not feel the same way.  She buys a house out in the country. The house has a legend.  It was a witch's house.  The townspeople are strange and have a strange religion. She has formed an attachment to a man and his nephew that live on the next property. Through some unforeseen circumstances Ellen is accused of being a witch too.  Can she survive this?

Synopsis by goodreads:
A silent stranger moves in twilight shadows...It was more than her dream house. For Ellen March, buying the secluded old house nestled in the pine woods marked the start of a new life. Now she could put her failed marriage behind her, enjoy the quiet solitude of small town life, and get to know her worldly new neighbor, handsome Norman McKay... But strange visions began to cloud her mind - the shadowy figure of a woman, a ghostly white cat - and Ellen's safe haven slowly became her prison. Had she buried the past? Or had a dark legend come back to haunt her...?

For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 274

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

I am not sure how I feel about this book. I think I missed the point of the story. I feel without the explanations in the last chapter I would have been lost. I just felt that I was missing something.  Maybe it was the way the story was told.  All of the characters were strange.
Sylvie's parents are murdered.  She identifies the murderer as a man who left his daughter with her parents. Sylvie is searching for something but doesn't really know what it is.  She does not understand what her parents did for a living and frankly, I felt it was never really clear. Were they ghosthunters or exorcists? What was with the doll?  Who is really haunted in this story?


Synopsis from the Harper Collins:
It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation: helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet something in Sylvie senses that this call is different from the others, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunfire.
As the story weaves back and forth through the years leading up to that night and the months following, the ever-inquisitive Sylvie searches for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years.
Capturing the vivid eeriness of Stephen King's works and the quirky tenderness of John Irving's novels, Help for the Haunted is told in the captivating voice of a young heroine who is determined to discover the truth about what happened on that winter night.

Excerpt:
What Makes You Afraid?
Whenever the phone rang late at night, I lay in my narrow bed and listened.
My mother picked up on the first ring so as not to wake my sister, if she was home, or me. In hushed tones, she soothed the caller before handing the phone to my father. His voice was stiffer, more formal, as he made plans to meet somewhere or offered directions to our faded and drooping
Tudor on a dead-end lane in the tiny town of Dundalk, Maryland. There were times when the person on the other end of the line had called from a pay phone as nearby as Baltimore. A priest, I guessed, had scratched our number on a scrap of paper and handed it over. Or maybe it had been found by simply searching the tissuey pages of the phonebook, since we were listed, same as any ordinary family, even if ordinary was the last thing we were.
Not long after my father put down the receiver, I heard them dressing. My parents were like characters on an old TV show whose outfits stayed the same every episode. My mother—tall, thin, abnormally pale—wore some version of a curveless gray dress with pearly buttons down the front whenever she was dealing with the public. Her dark hair, threaded with white, was always pinned up. Tiny crucifixes glimmered in her ears, around her neck too. My father wore suits in somber shades of brown, a cross nestled in his chest hairs beneath his yellow button-down, black hair combed away from his face so that the first thing you noticed was his smudged, wire-rimmed glasses.
Once dressed, they brushed past my door and down the stairs to wait in the kitchen with its peeling blue wallpaper, sipping tea at the table, until headlights from a car turning into our dirt driveway splashed against my bedroom ceiling. Next I heard murmurs, impossible to decipher from my room above, though I had my ideas about what was being said. Finally, I listened to the clomp clomp clomp of footsteps as my parents led their visitor or visitors into the basement and everyone grew quiet below.
That’s how things went until a snowy night in February of 1989.
When the phone rang after midnight that evening, I opened my eyes and listened, same as always. Never once, not one single time, did I claim to experience the sort of “feelings” my mother had, and yet something sawed at my insides, giving me the sense that this call was different from those that had come before.
“It’s her,” my mother told my father instead of passing him the phone.
“Thank God. Is she okay?”
“She is. But she says she’s not coming back.”

Read more here

Pages: 362

Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier

In this sixteenth Lucy Stone cozy mystery, a witch has come to town.  Diana is a Wiccan and practices with a coven. Lucy is a bit concerned that her younger daughters are spell casting.  One day Lucy takes her dog for a walk and stumbles onto a burned up body.  It turns out it the coven leader. The town erupts with concern and fear because of meddling neighbors and wacky weather.  Lucy is a journalist for the Pennysaver and a notorious busybody.  Will she figure out what is really happening?

From the author's site:
With planning the town’s annual Halloween Party, the drought wreaking havoc on her garden, and her brood of four children, Lucy Stone’s got her hands full this fall…
As the air turns crisp and the trees blaze red and gold in the tiny town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, a newcomer arrives who seems to suit the Halloween season. Diana Ravenscroft has just opened Solstice, a charming little shop featuring candles, crystals, jewelry, and psychic readings. But after an unnervingly accurate reading by Diana, Lucy starts to get more than a little spooked…
Then there’s the dead body Lucy finds, way up on one of the old logging roads behind her house. The deceased is identified as Malcolm Malebranche, a seemingly harmless magician who worked at children’s birthday parties.
When it turns out that Diana knew the murder victim, Ike Stoughton, a prominent local businessman, starts a campaign against Diana, blaming “the witch” for everything from the unseasonal dry spell to his wife’s illness and his pumpkins’ lack of plumpness. But Lucy’s not so sure that Ike himself is innocent. Still, as the town Halloween party approaches, Lucy’s more concerned about the costume competition, pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin, and baking three dozen orange cupcakes and Beastly Bug cookies. But as the October moon rises, a killer plans a lethal celebration of his own—and Lucy’s the guest of honor…

Excerpt:

Chapter One

She didn't believe in any of it, not for a minute, thought Lucy Stone. She was a hardheaded reporter for the Pennysaver, the local weekly newspaper in Tinker's Cove, Maine, and being skeptical was part of her job. No wonder, then, that all this nonsense about second sight and spells and magical powers didn't impress her in the least. It was all fakery and trickery; you couldn't fool her. So when Pam Stillings announced she'd made an appointment for them all to have a psychic reading after their regular Thursday morning breakfast, she'd been less enthusiastic than the others but didn't want to be left out either. But as far as she was concerned, the only reason she was going along with her friends on this late June morning to Solstice, the new shop in town owned by Diana Ravenscroft, was to see if she could figure out how it was done. That was the only reason. Period. She was happily married, had four well-adjusted children and an adorable grandchild, and she wasn't at all interested in meeting a tall, dark stranger or going on a long trip. And so far, none of her dear, departed relatives had tried to contact her, and that was the way she liked it.
"I've been dying to come here, ever since it opened," said Pam as she slipped her aged Mustang into a parking spot in front of the little shop. "It's so cute." Pam was married to Lucy's boss, Ted, and still retained the enthusiasm she'd displayed as a high school cheerleader.
The shop was cute; there was no denying that, thought Lucy, reaching for the car door handle. It was located in a quaint antique building that used to be a shoe store, with a little studio apartment upstairs. It was a bit like a child's drawing, a cockeyed little square with a triangle perched on top. Even though it was at least a century old, maybe more, it had gone largely unnoticed, tucked behind an overgrown garden, until Diana moved in and painted it lavender with purple trim. The rampant vines and weeds had been tamed, window boxes overflowing with petunias accented the mullioned display windows that were filled with crystal pendants that caught the light, an assortment of bath and body products were arranged in pyramids, and there was a smattering of books and hand-made jewelry. A black cat was curled up on a thick green velvet cushion, asleep in a patch of sun.
"This ought to be a hoot," said Sue Finch, flipping down the sun visor and checking her lipstick in the mirror before opening the door and gracefully exiting the car. Sue was the only woman in the little seaside town who consistently wore high heels, and she got her hair done in New York City when she visited her daughter, Sidra, who was an assistant producer for The Norah! Show. "I hear psychics are all the rage now. All the stars have their favorite fortune-tellers, and Sidra says Norah's even doing a show on them."
"That doesn't surprise me one bit," said Rachel Goodman with a nod that sent her black-rimmed glasses sliding down her nose as she scrambled out of the backseat. "There are mental forces we don't understand. The mind is very mysterious." Rachel had been a psych major in college and had never really gotten over it.
"It's just a lot of hooey," muttered Lucy as they trooped through the shop door. "Unhappy, desperate people will cling to anything."
"If you really believe that, then why did you come?" asked an ethereal voice, coming from above.
Lucy followed the sound and found Diana Ravenscroft perched atop a tall ladder in the corner, watering a hanging plant. Her long hair flowed over her shoulders in a tumble of auburn waves, and she was dressed in a form-fitting velvet gown the color of a fine aged wine. A graceful alabaster arm extended from the loose sleeve as she tipped the watering can and released a stream of silvery water into the hand-crafted pot containing a lush fuschia dripping with purple and magenta flowers.
"Why not?" responded Lucy, rising to the challenge. "Are you afraid I might see through your tricks?"
Diana smiled sweetly. "Not at all," she said, descending with a light step and setting the watering can on a table, beside a display of variously colored candles. "I'm the genuine article, a high priestess in the Wiccan religion. I even have a title: Lady Diana."
Give me a break, thought Lucy.
"You actually consider yourself a witch?" asked Rachel.
"Oh, yes," said Diana. "I've even got a familiar, my cat. His name is Piewocket."
"Do you belong to a coven?" asked Pam.
"I do, but not all witches belong to covens. There are a number of solitaires, who practice alone."
Sue, ever the shopper, was examining a display of gemstone and silver jewelry. "How do you become a witch? Is it something you can learn, or are you born with it?"
"A little of both," said Diana. "I always knew I was a bit different. They called me 'sensitive' as a child. I remember bursting into tears one time, apparently for no reason at all, and then we got a call that my brother had been hit by a car while bicycling and was taken to the hospital."
"Oh, my goodness," gasped Pam.
Diana smiled. "He was fine, just a broken arm." She paused. "But it made me wonder about myself. And then when I heard about Wicca, I began to read and study and eventually found others like myself. I guess I have always been a witch, but I've been in the coven for only a few years now."
"And are there a lot of witches around here?" asked Lucy, sensing a possible story for the Pennysaver.

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