Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sugar Cookie Murder

Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Cozy Mystery
What book? This is a novella at best with lots of recipes. Lake Eden is having their Christmas Buffet and at the same time this is the final test for the recipes going into the Lake Eden Cookbook.

The recently divorced Martin Dubinski arrives at the buffet with his new Vegas showgirl wife Brandi Wyen dressed to kill in fur and an antique emerald and diamond ring. Of course, his mother, mother-in-law and ex-wife are not at all impressed. When Hannah’s mother’s antique Christmas cake knife disappears Hannah discovers it has been stolen and it is in the chest of Brandi.

Mike, a police detective and one of Hannah's boyfriends doesn't let anyone leave the community centre until he has investigated. Hannah having been told not to tell anyone starts her own investigation, telling anyone she wishes and trying to help Mike, the male chauvinist pig. Meanwhile her sister Andrea is ready to deliver her baby at any time.

There are so many things wrong with this story. First is the length. Very short and there are more recipes then story. Next is Mike, he is a real jerk and Hannah is keeping him around only for eye candy. Like, move on! Norman, her spare boyfriend is much nicer. Next, is the tone. It is almost as if this story has been written in the 1950s. Is small town America that far behind the times? No real electronic gadgets and the tone is definitely not of this day and age. Next, is Hannah's holier than thou attitude. It is getting boring. I know the police are stupid where you live but that doesn't make you the queen of the pack.

First Line: "It was a meatball, a really big meatball, and it was rolling out of her closet.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next is a veteran of the long-running Crimea war and is a Special Ops member of LiteraTec. Members of this part of the government help investigate crimes of a literary nature. Next is brought in to investigate the missing original book of Dicken's Chuzzlewit. The area holding the book had high security, no cameras saw the crime happen, and the glass surrounding the book hadn't been disturbed. Next knows this is from the second most dangerous person in the world, Acheron Hades. Hades has special abilities, never being seen on cameras, changing the way he looks, etc. LiteraTec suspects that Hades is trying to take characters out of books or jump in to them themselves.

What were to happen if a character were to be killed off from a book in the outside world? Would a new ending be created? Would the book stop? Hades soon gets his hands on the original Jane Eyre novel and that's when all hell breaks loose.

This was a fun and incredibly clever book. At times I felt like Fforde was trying to accomplish too much in one book, what with a time travelling dad, trying to determine if Shakespeare was the legitimate author of all his plays, the Crimean war, and a love story. Somehow it all worked but I think the book could have been even better if there was a little less packed in to this book.

This was enjoyable, I'm going to move on to the next book right away!

First Line: "My father had a face that could stop a clock."


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Cozy Murder
Hannah Swensen is a bakery owner in Lake Eden, Minn. She is in the process of developing the Lake Eden cookbook which will include recipes from everyone in town. At her potluck cooking class in the evenings she has had the participants test out the recipes. As she is winding up her class and tossing the garbage out, Hannah finds the local sheriff dead in the dumpster.

One of her boyfriends, Bill is appointed the Acting Sheriff. Bill determines that Hannah's brother-in-law, another law enforcement officer is the only suspect and suspends him. Andrea, her sister pleads for Hannah to solve the murder and clear Bill. Andrea is eight months pregnant and confined to rest.

This is a cozy mystery and as with all series some things get a little stale. Hannah's morning routine must have been written about 100 times already. Being not a cat owner I may not understand, but anyone who goes through that much trouble to feed a cat a 'senior' diet has something loose. Also her vacillations about her boyfriends is also getting a little stale. These mysteries are getting very predictable.

First Line: "Hannah Swensen moved to the front of the rectangular box and braced herself."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Cozy Mystery
Hannah Swenson owns The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minn, a small resort town.  She and her co-owner Lisa dole out delicious sweets and coffee.  Norman, one of her boyfriends, buys an old property and decides to built the dream home that Hannah and he have designed for a competition.  But everyone in Lake Eden assumes that means they are engaged but Norman hasn't asked and Hannah doesn't know what her answer would be.

Before destroying the old house on his property, Norman offers Hannah's mother any of the antiques she might want.  The three of them go out to the house and find lots of potential valuables but when Hannah's mother goes down to see what is in the basement, she finds the previous owner's body.  Of course, Hannah is convinced to investigate and find out what happened.

Although the murderer was pretty evident fairly early on, the motive and how it involved the perpetrator took a bit longer to figure out.  A cozy mystery with lots of recipes to try out.

First Line: "Hannah Swensen was startled awake at four forty-seven in the morning."


The Book of Air and Shadows

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
A rare bookshop has a fire and in trying to salvage one of the rare books two of the employees find some pages written by Bracegirdle. Bracegirdle was an employee of Shakespeare. He alludes to a lost play.

Jake Mishkin is an Intellectual Property lawyer. When one of the employees sells part of the find to a professor, the professor seeks out Mishkin to keep the manuscript safe. What follows is classic thriller. Bad guys, treasure, kidnapping, ciphers, killing and some dashing around.

This is a thriller I should love to read but I didn't. I can't seem to put my finger on it. It might have been the hard to read Old English Bracegirdle letters. It might have been the confusing what is happening now plot. Maybe the plot was just a bit too complex or maybe this book's pace is too slow. Not the book for me.

First Line: "Tap-tapping the keys and out come the words on this little screen, and who will read them I hardly know. "

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Fifth Witness

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
Times are tough for Mickey Haller.  He has branched into foreclosures.  One of his clients, Lisa Trammel is undergoing a foreclosure of her house by Westland Financial Bank.  She has gone so far as to protest and has been served a restraining order by the bank.

When Mitchell Bondurant, the head of the mortgage department, is killed Lisa becomes the main suspect and she calls on Haller to defend her.  Haller does what he does best and puts up smoke screens and major doubt.  He finds out that Bonurant also had some financial difficulties and that sets into motion the defense.

This is full of court procedures.  Haller seems to be able to use the system to show almost anything, true or not.  Connelly had me going in this one.  First she is guilty and then she isn't and then????  This book did show me that no one would want to get involved as witness or other because you could be destroyed in the process; guilty or not.  I loved the twist at the end

First Line: "Mrs. Pena looked across the seat at me and held her hands up in a beseeching manner."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Tristran Thorn lives in the English village of Wall, which is separated from faery land by a guarded wall. Once every nine years, a market is held on the faery side, which is how Tristran was conceived. As a teenager, he falls in love with a beautiful young girl and promises to bring back a fallen star for her. Off Tristran travels to the other side of the wall to bring back the star.

Tristran meets plenty of odd characters in this new land and eventually finds his fallen star, who ends up being a young lady that has broken her leg in the fall. However there are many others after this heart as well. An old witch wants to cut out her heart for youth and brother princes want to capture the stone the star wears.

I hated the names used in this book. They were always one character off from a normal name and I went through the entire book calling Tristran "Tristan" because that's what I expected it to be.

The book itself is charming. There are some details skipped at the beginning of Tristran's journey that I would have liked to know more of but I think Gaiman was saving up for the return journey. The ending was a bit predictable but kept up with the charm factor.

First Line: "There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire."


A Touch of Dead

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
Urban Fantasy
This is a book of short stories.  Sookie Stackhouse is the small town Louisiana barmaid with connections to all things supernatural.

Fairy Dust:
Sookie looks into the death of Claudette, one of the fairy triplets.  It seems to me that Claudine is the only fairy I like from all the books.

Dracula Night
Eric is convinced that this time Dracula really will show up for his birthday celebration at Fantasia.  Who is he kidding?  Remember this is Shreveport, Louisiana and Eric is just a sheriff.  I did love Eric being brought down a peg or two.

One Word Answer
This explains all about Hadley.  This was a good one as some of the Hadley situation was explained.  It would have been better included in the story so the readers were better informed.

This story reveals why one of the insurance agencies has fewer claims than the others.

Gift Wrap
Sookie is all alone one Christmas Eve and she gets a delightful gift in the form of a handsome stranger.  Sookie is all righteous on one hand but sure falls in lust real fast.

All were delightful fluffy reads. 

First Line: "The first time I was asked to write a short story about my heroine Sookie Stackhouse."

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion

The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris
Urban Fantasy
This is a complete compendium of Sookie's facts.  There are Q & A's. from Charlaine Harris, the author and Alan Bell the creator of True Blood.  There are descriptions for each book and a large glossary of Sookieville.  There are some recipes that have tantalized the reader from the books.

Included also is the novella - Small-Town Wedding.

Sookie travels to Wright, Texas with Sam as his date when his brother gets married.  Sam's mother got shot by his step-father when the shape-shifters came out to the public.  The wedding was delayed due to the unrest in the community and the bride's family being uneasy even though Sam's brother is not a shifter.

Sam's family is excited that Sam has brought a date but quickly realize that Sookie is just a friend. The Merlotte's next door neighbour has been a big problem due to his friendship and same ideals as Sam's step-father.  The wedding may not take place because of the unrest and protests.

This novella cleared up a point in one of the books where the events of the wedding were considered having happened even though I had not yet read this novella.

This is a good book for all the facts.

First Line: "Sookie and I go back a long way."

The Drop

The Drop by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch is working in the Open-Unsolved (cold case) unit. He and his new partner Chu get a case from 1989 of rape and murder.  The DNA matches a convicted rapist.  However, there is a big wrinkle.  This means the rapist committed the crime when he was eight years old.  How could this be?

At the same time they are requested to resolve a suicide/murder of a man falling from the balcony of a hotel.  They have been asked for by the man's father, Councillor Irving.  Yes, Irving as in Bosch's archenemy.

Both cases are police procedural type and Bosch and Chu  follow the leads and clues amidst the twists and turns the reader loves.

Another great mystery times 2 from Connelly.  Bosch is tiptoeing his way through fatherhood with a delightful daughter who wants to be just like Dad, a cop.  On the romance front Bosch is trying but for me this fell real short and I say move on.  I loved Bosch's interaction and tutoring of Chu.  I hope this partner lasts a long time. Can't say I was all too happy with the resolution of one of the cases but sometimes things are not all rosy inside

Bosch is set to retire in 2 years. OH NO!

First Line: "Christmas came once a month in the Open-Unsolved Unit."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

9 Dragons

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly
Harry Bosch, L.A. homicide detective is sent to Fortune Liquors to investigate the death of John Li, the owner.  What initially looks like a robbery gone bad turns out to be a lot more complicated.  Li has been paying protection money to a Chinese triad.  Just as Bosch is closing in on the triad member he suspects, he receives a threat to stop or there will be consequences.  Of course, he doesn't stop.

The triad member tries to leave the country with Bosch capturing him at the last moment.  Then he receives a phone call  that changes everything.  His 13 year old daughter, Maddie who lives in Hong Kong with her mother has been kidnapped.  Harry drops everything to go find her.

Harry is totally out of his comfort zone.  Even though he visits Maddie he does not really know the underbelly of Hong Kong.  Harry teams together with Eleanor Wish, Maddie's mother and ex-FBI agent and Sun Yee, Eleanor's boyfriend.  Together they track down the bad guys.

I loved this book.  Yes, some of the Hong Kong scenario was a bit far-fetched but the interweaving of the personal and work aspects is fantastic.  I loved how conflicted Harry was at times and this made the story even more 'real'. Love that Bosch!

First Line: "From across the aisle Harry Bosch looked into his partner's cubicle and watched him conduct his daily ritual of straightening the corners on his stack of files, clearing the paperwork from the center of his desk and finally placing his rinsed out coffee cup in a desk drawer."