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Mary Mary by James Patterson

>> Thursday, April 30, 2009

Series: #11 in the Alex Cross series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 412
TBR 2009 Challenge Alternate #5

It was a week at work that required too much thinking. I needed a quick reading brain candy kind of book. Luckily I had this one on the shelf.

It’s hard to say much about the 11th book in a series. If you read these, you know how the formula works. If you don’t read Patterson’s books, you don’t care. I’ll just say that for fans of the Alex Cross series this one continues the formula. Alex is a character that I like for the most part, but the man can’t keep a personal relationship going. I love the character of his grandmother and the kids are growing up and getting a bit sassy in a good way.

The mystery involves a serial killer in LA who’s murdering famous Hollywood types. It takes a couple of surprising twists and turns and I’ll admit I was wrong about the killers identity. Fans of the series should like this one.


Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen

>> Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Series: #1 in the Molly Murphy series
Genre: Cozy/ Historical Mystery
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 226
Support Your Local Library Challenge #18

I hadn’t intended to start another series any time soon, but
Lynne’s review of the most recent book in the series convinced me to give this one a try.

Molly Murphy is on the run from Ireland in 1901 after killing a wealthy landowner’s son. It was in self defense, but she knows that a poor girl trying to save herself from rape will most likely hang if it's a rich man who is dead. She manages to make her way to England and then on to New York under a false identity. At Ellis Island, a man from the same ship Molly traveled on is brutally murdered and Molly finds herself among the suspect. She also finds herself attracted to the handsome Police Captain investigating the murder, but having to maintain her false identity to protect her friends.

Yes, it’s the typical intelligent plucky heroine and the plot coincidences are many , but I found myself forgiving all the predictability and just enjoying this quick and entertaining read.

I liked the combination of cozy mystery and historical fiction and I have a hard time resisting a smart turn of the century Irish heroine. I’ll definitely be continuing with this series and maybe even checking out Rhys Bowen’s other series featuring Constable Evans.


Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson

>> Sunday, April 26, 2009

Series: #11 in the Inspector Alan Banks series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 369
Support Your Local Library Challenge #17, TBR 2009 Challenge Alternate #4

I’ve been reading this series for several years now and it’s one of my favorites. Alan Banks is an Detective in Yorkshire, England. His career and personal life have taken many turns and ups as well as downs over the series. Peter Robinson does a great job of writing interesting and well done mysteries, while at the same time developing the character of Alan Banks into a likeable person despite making the occasional mistake in his personal or professional life.

In this book, Banks is asked by Chief Constable Jimmy Riddle to help find Riddle’s runaway teenage daughter. Even though Riddle and Banks have had their differences through the earlier books in the series, Riddle wants Banks to take on this unofficial job for the very reasons he’s stalling Banks career. It’s that habit of using unorthodox methods that Riddle dislikes in an employee, but wants in the person to find his daughter.

The search leads Banks to London where he finds Emily Riddle involved with a suspected gangster. Although Emily is returned to her family, and Riddle seems to keep his promise of less interference with Banks at work, the story is far from over. Soon Banks is investigating another murder with the help of Sergeant Annie Cabbot who he became involved with during a previous case. More information will give away too much of the plot, so I’ll stop there.

As in the previous books, Robinson keeps the twists and turns coming and the reader guessing. I recommend this series for those who like an interesting combination of procedural mystery and character development over the life of a series.


What's in a Name? 2 Challenge Completed

>> Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I’m only participating in a few challenges this year and I’ve completed the first of them. It’s the What’s in a Name 2 Challenge, hosted by Annie.

Last year Annie came up with a clever idea for a challenge that ended up being a lot of fun for me. This year she tweaked it just a bit to keep the same format, but different categories.

For this year’s challenge readers were required to read 6 books. The books had to be chosen based on words their titles matching up wth the six categories. I easily found books that fit the challenge from my TBR list.

The books I read for each category were:

A book with a "profession" in its title:
The Bookman’s Wake by John Dunning – in the second in the series Cliff Janeway takes a job that leads him to rainy Seattle and lots of mystery in a story that reads like an old black and white movie.

A book with a "time of day" in its title:
Murder on a Girls’ Night Out by Anne George - The first in a cozy series featuring Alabama sisters who find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation .

A book with a "relative" in its title:
Aunt Dimity Digs In by Nancy Atherton – the fourth book in a charming cozy mystery series featuring a helpful ghost.

A book with a "body part" in its title:
Buried Bones by Carolyn Haines – another cozy series with a ghost, but this one has an attitude along with a bunch of southern charm.

A book with a "building" in its title:
Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey – the second in the Serge Storms series has Serge off his meds and as insane as ever.

A book with a "medical condition" in its title:
Delusion by G.H. Ephron – second book featuring forensic psychologist Dr. Peter Zaks.

This is a great challenge because the books end up being such a variety. Annie – if you’re reading this, I hope you do this again next year!!


Buried Bones by Carolyn Haines

>> Thursday, April 16, 2009

Series: #2 in the Sarah Booth Delaney series
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 354
Support Your Local Library Challenge #16, TBR 2009 Challenge #10, What’s In a Name 2 Challenge #5 (Body Part)

Sarah Booth Delaney returned to Zinnia, Mississippi last year and ended up backing into a new career as a private investigator. It allowed her to save Dahlia House, the family home and also the home of the family ghost. Jitty was Sarah Booth’s great great grandmother’s nanny. She’s still hanging around Dahlia House watching out for Sarah Booth and mostly trying to get her married off and producing babies so that Jitty will have another generation of Delaney children to look after.

This book is about Sarah Booth’s second paid case as a PI. Lawrence Ambrose is a famous author and artist who has returned to his hometown of Zinnia late in life. He’s in the process of writing an autobiography of his years in Paris with many other famous artists and writers. At a dinner party he announces that his book will reveal many secrets his friends and acquaintances would rather not have made public. When Ambrose is found dead, his longtime friend hires Sarah Booth to find out who murdered him.

The investigation leads to many long hidden secrets and connections between people in and around Zinnia. It’s a fun cozy series with enough southern charm to make you smile and just enough mystery to keep it interesting. Besides, Jitty the ghost just cracks me up.


Apparently it's cold

>> Wednesday, April 15, 2009

and she does love her heater vent . . .


Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais

>> Monday, April 13, 2009

Series: #2 in the Elvis Cole series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 1989
Pages: 260
Support Your Local Library Challenge #15, TBR 2009 Challenge Alternate #3

Private Investigator Elvis Cole is back and he’s still a smartmouth and it’s still getting him in trouble. I enjoyed this second in the series. Elvis’ snide comebacks are a bit forced at times, but he still makes me grin. His partner Joe Pike is a bit of a mystery and a bit scary in a good way.

This time around Elvis is hired by hotshot businessman Bradley Warren to find a stolen 13th century Japanese manuscript. He ends up in the middle of a Japanese mafia power struggle as well as the messed up family life of the Warrens when their teenage daughter is kidnapped. Not a great book but an enjoyable enough series for a weekend diversion.


Audiobook – All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg

>> Friday, April 10, 2009

Genre: Memoir
Publication Date: 1997
Read by: Frank Muller

I’m not a huge memoir fan, but I really liked this one. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Bragg tells his story of growing up dirt poor in rural Alabama. It’s part memoir, part loving tribute to his mother, who raised her 3 sons pretty much on her own after their alcoholic father left them one too many times.

Bragg describes himself as a storyteller and he tells this one wonderfully. The images and feelings are vivid. I liked many things about this book. He was honest about his own failings including the chip he still carries on his shoulder. His disintegrated relationship with his father is balanced by the tremendous respect and love he has for his mother and that he gives her a lot of credit for making his successes possible. I was also impressed with the way he respects and admires his older brother who took a very different path in life than Bragg himself did. I think many families have someone like his younger brother and the combined hope and frustration in watching someone you love struggle is clear.

I would definitely recommend this book, but after listening to it, I’d recommend the 3-D version rather than this particular audio version. While I liked the book a lot, I had to get past the reader to enjoy it. Something about his voice didn’t seem quite right (maybe he sounded too old to be reading as Bragg) and that combined with his breathy delivery just didn’t work for me. So read it, don’t listen to it.


What's a Pre-Nap ?

>> Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Pre-Nap is what happens when you're on the way upstairs to nap and you are so tired that you just can't make it all the way up the stairs without having to take a Pre-Nap.


The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

>> Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 272
Support Your Local Library Challenge #14

A few years ago I read Michael Zadoorian’s first novel (Second Hand) because I needed a Z author for an A to Z reading challenge. It was funny, sad, quirky, and unique and a book I enjoyed. So recently when I heard he had a new novel out, I was able to get on the library waiting list early.

Ella and John Robina are a couple of octogenarians who have run away from their kids and their doctors for one last vacation together. They pack up their small RV (The Leisure Seeker) and leave their home in suburban Detroit headed for the Pacific Ocean and Disneyland via Route 66. The trip is complicated by the fact that Ella has cancer and John has Alzheimer’s. He can still drive and she can manage the navigating so they still make a good team even though part of the time he can’t remember her name. Ella narrates the story with a sharp sense of humor.

You yourself might ask: Is this the best idea? Two down-on-their-luck geezers, one with more heath problems than a third world country, the other so senile that he doesn’t know what day it is – taking a cross-country road trip:

Don’t be stupid. Of course it’s not a good idea.

Along the way they spend many evenings watching their own history by aiming their slide projector at a sheet pinned up on the side of the RV. The journey is not without it’s perils, but along the way the reader along with Ella and John remember their long marriage as well as some of the history of the famous Route 66.

The love between these two is clear as is the mutual frustration and even anger caused by the roadblocks of their illnesses. The story follows them and the road to what feels like an inevitable conclusion and along the way are moments that are sad, funny, ironic, heartwarming and even tragic.

Zadoorian has once again written a book I enjoyed but have a hard time pinning down. It hits many emotions and is a bit odd and quirky along the way. I’ll be looking forward to his next book.


Hammerhead Ranch Motel by Tim Dorsey

>> Sunday, April 5, 2009

Series: #2 in the Serge Storms series
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 354
TBR 2009 Challenge #9, , What’s In a Name 2 Challenge #5 (Building)

I’m going to say the same thing about this one as I did about Tim Dorsey’s first book (
Florida Roadkill)

Think of Pulp Fiction taking Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through Florida. If you didn’t laugh at Pulp Fiction, don’t even bother picking up this book.

Once again there is a cast of what feels like hundreds. Each one of them is loonier than the previous one. Drugs, violence, sex, con men, a incompetent weatherman, a dancing chihuahua, crooks, a passive-aggressive private investigator and they’re all running loose in Florida. Oh, and there’s a killer hurricane on the way.

At the heart of all this is once again Serge Storms. Insane and off his meds, he knows more about Florida History than everyone else put together has forgotten. He’s still trying to catch up with that five million dollars he was chasing in the previous book,

Definitely not a series for everyone, but if you like dark (really dark) humor and over the top craziness mixed with a bit of brutal violence along the way, give Tim Dorsey’s books a shot. I’m definitely going to continue reading his books.


4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

>> Thursday, April 2, 2009

Series: #4 in the Women’s Murder Club series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 416
TBR 2009 Challenge #8

I like this series for when I need some quick reading brain candy. In this 4th book of the series, the focus is primarily on Lindsay Boxer with the other regulars showing up only briefly.

Police Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer finds herself on the wrong side of a lawsuit that threatens both her reputation and career. In order to get away from the press she spends some time at her sister’s house in Half Moon Bay, California. Things aren’t exactly quiet and restful in the beachside community. Soon Lindsay finds herself involved in the investigation of a series of brutal murders that may have a connection with a cold case of her own from many years ago.

Short chapters, quick pace, and lots of action. That’s what I expect from Patterson’s books and this one delivered.


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