Welcome to my blog where I share book reviews
and life along the winding road

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Cat and the King of Clubs by Carole Nelson Douglas

Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie books have been popular for years. While looking for a book with a Nevada setting for this year's 50 State Reading Challenge, I decided to go back to book one of the Cat and the Playing Card series - The Cat and the King of Clubs.
Carole Nelson Douglas is a local author and I've met her many times and heard of her battles with publishing companies, but it wasn't until I read on the front of the cover "Author's Preferred Edition" - "Original Text Restored" and the Author's Foreward that I realized how much the editors had changed her works by actually cutting 37% percent of her novel without her knowledge. She told me once, if she had to do it again she would go the route I've chosen - self publishing.

From Goodreads
Classy Van von Rhine finds herself in her dream job - managing the Crystal Phoenix hotel, and her first job is to oversee its renovation. She has no idea that Nicky Fontana, her boss, is a member of a Mafia family. Early on, Van and Nicky can barely tolerate each other, but before long they're swept up in romance. Midnight Louie watches as a silver-haired man appears down the hall from Van's room, and hoodlums try to sabotage the hotel work. Van's dream job is quickly turning into a nightmare, and her love life seems about to follow suit... 

Friday, September 16, 2016

These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

In These Happy Golden Years Laura Ingalls Wilder, at age fifteen, becomes a teacher.

From the cover:
Laura lives apart from her family for the first time, teaching school in a claim shanty twelve miles from home. She is very homesick, but keeps at it so that she can help pay for her sister Mary's tuition at the college for the blind. During school vacations Laura has fun with her singing lessons, going on sleigh rides, and best of all, helping Almanzo Wilder drive his new buggy. Friendship soon turns to love for Laura and Almanzo in the romantic conclusion of this Little House book.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Child of a Rainless Year by Jane Lindskold

Child of a Rainless Year by Jane Lindskold is set in Las Vegas. Not Las Vegas, Nevada but Las Vegas, New Mexico.

My thoughts:
I found the setting to have an interesting history and the book was well written, but I'm not a big fan of the supernatural and found it confusing. However, the book has excellent reviews so it may just have been something I wasn't in the mood to read at this time.

Goodreads review
Art teacher Mira Fenn's life was curiously lacking in color until the day she learned of a mysterious inheritance from her birthmother--a long-abandoned house in New Mexico. Dim childhood memories begin to brighten in Mira's mind--her colorfully exotic mother, the curiously silent women who were her mother's servants. 

Returning to New Mexico, Mira discovers that the house is a faded thing, looked after by the charismatic Domingo Navidad. But when Mira dreams of her childhood home, it is a riot of color--and she and Domingo soon set to work to bring her dreams to life. 

Color brings more than just an old house back to life. The bright paint Mira applies to wood and plaster seems to reach into her soul, to awaken powers trapped in a decades-long slumber. The silent women reappear, carrying with them a great secret. Convinced her mother is still alive, Mira searches for her, journeying through a sea of light and color to a time and place far from her own. 

Who and what she finds there will alter her world forever.

"Child of a Rainless Year is a novel about those spaces in between. It is about the dichotomy between expectation and reality, about past and present, about parents and children, mothers and daughters, loving and the fear of love. Color weaves through these contradictions, not so much pulling them together as highlighting differences and similarities. Historical events prove to be as important as current events, and even a house has opinions on how things should be done."
Jane Lindskold

Friday, September 9, 2016

Candy Apple Dead by Sammi Carter

Candy Apple Dead is a cozy mystery set in Colorado. I liked Sammi Carter's style of writing and enjoyed the mystery. But be warned - this is not a good mystery to read if you're trying to cut down on calories or sugar consumption. I wanted to dash out and buy some chocolate/toffee/candy after reading about the delicious recipes Abby comes up with for her candy shop.

From the cover:
No visit to Paradise, Colorado, is complete without a stop at Divinity Candy Shop for a little taste of heaven. For owner Abby Shaw, it's a sweet deal, too. When her Aunt Grace passed away, Abby inherited Divinity - and the opportunity to leave her career as a corporate lawyer and dump her cheating husband. Then life sours when her friend/possible boyfriend dies in a fire in his men's clothing store . . . and her brother becomes the number one suspect.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Clue for the Puzzle Lady by Parnell Hall

I have just started reading A clue for the Puzzle Lady the first book in the Puzzle Lady Mystery series by Parnell Hall.  Although the story seems to be moving along, one thing I've found off putting is the crossword puzzle watermark on some of the pages, making itdifficult to read. I haven't come across this before in mystery novels and wonder why the publisher would think this was a good idea!

From the cover:
Violent crime is rare in tiny Bakerhaven. When the body of an unknown teenage girls turns up in the local cemetery, Police Chief Dale Harper finds himself investigating his first homicide. Nothing aobut this case is straightforward. Even a thorough search of the crime scene fails to reveal who she was, the murder weapon, or why the killer left her body in a graveyard minus her shows. A cryptic message on a scrap of paper she carried seems to be a crossword puzzle clue. Could it have been left by the killer? If so, what does it mean?

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Art of Keeping Cool by Janet Taylor Lisle

I finally found a book at the library set in Rhode Island for my 50 State Reading Challenge - The Art of Keeping Cool by Janet Taylor Lisle. Although it's a YA book and for grades 6-8, I think it would appeal to adults too and would make a great book club read. Told from the point of view of a teenage boy, the story covers the struggles and fears of east coast America during the WWII years - I didn't realize that U-Boats had been trawling for and sinking our allied ships off the U.S. coast. Forty-three ton Naval guns had been placed and the local base was camouflaged. Even a farmhouse wasn't what it seemed as it was made from concrete, painted to look like a farmhouse and the lookout was disguised as a chimney to the building. What we often forget about WWII was that the German people feared the Germans in power every bit as much as we did.

From the cover:
The year is 1942. Spring has come to a small village on the Rhode Island coast, and with it a regiment of soldiers and giant defensive guns emplaced in bunkers along the beaches. Offshore, Nazi submarines lie in wait for Allied convoy ships. The war in Europe seems far away, but residents in town keep a nervous eye on the ocean, and thirteen-year-old Robert and his cousin Elliot aren't the only ones taking an interest in a German abstract artist who's set up camp recently in woods near the shore. Many believe that he's a spy who roams at night signaling the enemy with a high-powered flash light. Elliot, who has a talent for drawing, is determined to seek out the artist for help with his art. Where else will he find anyone to teach him what he needs to know? Robert warns him against it, but Elliot can't stay away and the situation veers out of control. This is a story of dangers lurking inside and outside a community, of deceptive enemies and suspicions fanned to violence, and how two friends find their own very different ways of mastering the art of keeping cool.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Leave No Stone Unturned by Jeanne Glidewell

While searching for a book set in Kansas (for the 50 State Reading Challenge) I found Leave No Stone Unturned by Jeanne Glidewell. Actually, although the main character hails from Kansas, most of the story is set in New York.

From the cover:
While volunteering at the local library, middle-aged Kansas widow Lexie Starr happens across an article about the unsolved murder of Eliza Pitt, former wife of police academy student Clayton Pitt - likely the same Clayton Pitt who is her newly acquired son-in-law. Lexie can't stand by and let her daughter, Wendy, become his next victim . . . so Lexie decides to travel to Schenectady, New York to investigate the cold case.

My thoughts:
spoiler alert -
I thought it was a good story but most of it was a bit far fetched. Lexie seems to develop deep relationships quickly: The grouchy proprietor from the bed and breakfast establishment; Stone, someone she was purchasing jewelry from via telephone (which was never discussed when she finally met him) and quickly he becomes a romantic interest; then the nephew who shows up conveniently and happens to be a pilot just when they need one. I thought the cover was a bit odd too.