Sunday, March 28, 2010

Devil's Food Cake by Josi Kilpack

Sadie Hoffmiller is expecting an exciting night.  A member of the library fund-raising committee, she has helped plan a fund-raiser that they expect to bring in lots of money.  The committee has invited Thom Mortensen, an author to speak at a dinner at a local hotel, and the event is one that is raising lots of buzz and expectations.

Mortensen used to live in Garrison, Colorado, where Sadie and the rest of the committee still lives, and the connection that led Thom to agree to give a talk.  His big thriller was published after a tragedy in his own life.  His son, Damon, whom Thom had raised as a single parent, had gone off the rails ten years before.  He dropped out of high school, and then became notorious throughout the area when he killed himself and his date after the local high school prom.

Sadie is surprised that Thom has agreed to return to an area that holds such painful memories for him.  The event is even more shocking when Thom's agent is killed in front of everyone.  A shotgun has been wired to the speaker's podium, and goes off when the agent starts to introduce Thom.

The police close down the hotel and start to investigate.  Sadie's date for the evening, Pete, is actually a detective on the force she met when she got involved in a previous murder.  She is hurt when Pete goes into offical mode and refuses to listen to her ideas and theories.  She leaves the hotel, determined to find out what went on.

She soon collects a team to help her.  Her son, Shawn, is home from college and can provide the brawn.  Josh was Damon's best friend in high school, and has remained close to Thom over the years.  Eric is a local locksmith who Sadie meets as she moves from site to site in her investigation.  Finally, Jane is a reporter who believes there is more to the event that meets the eye.  Although not always a harmonious team, they work together to determine what has occurred and who killed the agent.  Will they find an answer before someone else is harmed?

Devil's Food Cake is the third in Josi Kilpatrick's culinary mystery series.  Her heroine, Sadie, is a refreshing character, full of vim and vigor and an offbeat way of putting clues together to solve a crime.  The other characters are believable, and the resolution is satisfying.  There are also recipes scattered at the end of many chapters, and the reader will be anxious to try them out as they all sound delicious.  This book is recommended for cozy mystery lovers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Joshua Ferris' debut novel Then We Came to the End was both heralded by critics and a New York Times bestseller, and marked the arrival of a startlingly talented young writer. With THE UNNAMED, Ferris imagines the collision between one man's free will and the forces of nature that are bigger than any of us.

Tim Farnsworth walks. He walks out of meetings and out of bed. He walks in sweltering heat and numbing cold. He will walk without stopping until he falls asleep, wherever he is. This curious affliction has baffled medical experts around the globe--and come perilously close to ruining what should be a happy life. Tim has a loving family, a successful law career and a beautiful suburban home, all of which he maintains spectacularly well until his feet start moving again.

What drives a man to stay in a marriage, in a job? What forces him away? Is love or conscience enough to overcome the darker, stronger urges of the natural world? THE UNNAMED is a deeply felt, luminous novel about modern life, ancient yearnings, and the power of human understanding.
1.  The giveaway starts Saturday, March 27th and ends on Monday, April 5th at midnight.
2.  There will be three winners, chosen by random number generation.
3.  Winners must have street addresses (no P.O. Boxes) in either the United States or Canada.
4.  For one entry, leave a comment (with email!).  You will get an extra entry for any/all of the following; being or becoming a follower, blogging to this giveaway or tweeting about it.  If you blog or tweet, please include the link.
5.  Winners will be emailed and must respond within three days in order to claim their prize. After three days, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Good luck!  I've heard nothing but raves about this one.  Thanks to Hachette for sponsering this giveaway.

Friday, March 26, 2010

First Family by David Baldacci

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have been hired to help on the hottest crime around.  The President's niece, Willa, has been kidnapped in a home invasion and her mother killed.  Willa's dad, Tuck, is the First Lady's brother.  Jane Cox, the First Lady, has known Sean for years and trusts him to work on the case without political bias.

Sean and Michelle, private investigators who both retired from the Secret Service, are thrown into the fray.  Was this a kidnap for ransom?  A terrorist plot to force concessions from the President?  Or a crime focused personally on Willa's family and the desire to hurt her parents?  It is unclear what kind of crime the two are dealing with.

Far away in Alabama, Sam Quarry has his own problems.  He has a daughter who has been in a coma for thirteen years.  His son is a deserter from the Army and not exactly heir material.  Sam's other 'family' are Ruth Ann and Gabriel, her son.  Ruth Ann has been the Quarry housekeeper for years, and Gabriel has grown up in the household.  How does this family's troubles fit in with those of the Cox family?

This is the seventeenth novel by David Baldacci, and Sean and Michelle are repeat characters, first seen in his bestseller, Simple Genius.  Baldacci delivers as always, an action-packed thriller that saves a punch of excitement for the final revelations.  This book is recommended for suspense lovers who enjoy fast-paced action.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last Snow by Eric Van Lustbader

Last Snow is Eric Van Lustbader's sequel to his smashing hit,  First Daughter.  The lives of the United States President and the family of Jack McClure are intertwined.  Not only are the men good friends, but their daughters are best friends and roommates.  In the first book, Jack is able to rescue Alli, the President's daughter, when she is abducted.  That act leads to him becoming the President's special and trusted advisor, the one man the President trusts entirely.

As Last Snow begins, Jack and the President are in Russia, where the terms of a historic treaty are being worked out.  Then a member of the delegation, a Senator who is supposed to be in Russia working, is found dead in Capri.  No one knows why he was there, if the death was accidental or a murder, or if it will impact the treaty talks.  Jack is asked to investigate the matter.

As he prepares to depart on his mission, he becomes embroiled in an assault on a beautiful Russian FSB agent, Annika.  He saves her but then realises that she will remain in danger in the capitol.  However, with her contacts and knowledge, they agree that she will be useful in the investigation and agree that she should accompany Jack on his trip.  They are surprised when they get to the plane to find Alli Carson, the First Daughter, ready to go also.  Since her return from captivity, she is only comfortable around her rescuer Jack, and refuses to stay behind.

The three travel across Eastern Europe.  They quickly discover there are several factions working behind the scenes; some to insure passage of the treaty, and some to defeat it.  There is treachery, counterspying, betrayals, alliances and a world where nothing is as it seems.  Can the trio manuver their way between the obstacles and find out what is behind the various groups before the treaty signing?

As with his other books, Van Lustbader delivers a heartstopping suspenseful story, full of plots and counterplots and story twists.  The reader feels compelled to read to the end, many holding their breath in especially exciting areas.  The characters aren't as fully developed in this book as in others, as plot and pace is everything, although Jack is a strong character and the villians are especially memorable.  This book is recommended for readers who like action suspense.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Best American Mystery Stories 2008

This is the 2008 version of this annual compilation of the best mystery stories of the year.  The series editor is Otto Penzler and each year has an individual editor.  The editor for 2008 is George Pelecanos.  This series has been running since 1997.

In the 2008 edition, both well-known names in mystery and suspense as well as those less familiar to the reader are featured.  Authors include James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Robert Ferrigno, Chuck Hogan, Rupert Holmes, Holly Goddard Jones, Peter Lasalle, Kyle Minor, Alice Munro, Thisbe Nissen,
Joyce Carol Oates, Nathan Oates, Jas. R. Petrin, Scott Phillips, Stephen Rhodes, S.J. Rozan, Hugh Sheehy, Elizabeth Strout, Melissa Vanbeck and Scott Wolven.

Every mystery reader can find a story represented here in the genre they like best.  Victorian mysteries, hard-core detectives, puzzlers, offbeat mysteries; all are here.  Elizabeth Strout's story will be recognized by those who later read her bestseller, Olive Kittridge, as it is a vignette from that book. 

My personal favorite was an offbeat mystery called Given Her History by Melissa Vanbeck.  It is an offbeat story of a girl touched by death and taken in by a quirky woman who treats her much better than her family ever did.  This book is recommended for lovers of short stories and mystery readers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

Cassandra Fallows, a successful author, is casting about for a new project.  She has written two well-received memoirs about her childhood and her two marriages, and then a novel that was panned by the critics.  At loose ends, she hears a story about a woman in New Orleans whose baby is missing and the police have been unsuccessful in either finding the child or convincing the mother to cooperate.  A sad enough story, but the next words make Cassandra sit up and take notice.  The announcer refers the story back to a similiar one that occurred in Baltimore years before.  That mother, Calliope Jenkins, had reported a child missing and spent seven years in prison rather than telling anyone what happened.

Cassandra is entranced.  She had grown up in Baltimore and in fact, knew Calliope or Callie, as they called her, as a childhood schoolmate.  Cassandra had been one of the few white children at a local school and had become part of a group of girls, all of whom were African-American.  Cassandra had been grateful to be in their group.  There was Donna, the child of a prominent and politically successful family.  Trisha was the go-getter and leader who kept the group together.  Fatima was from a poorer family, but blossomed sexually long before the others.  Then there was Calliope, whom the group nicknamed Callie, and who hung arond the edges of their group, but rarely spoke or participated.  She was an enigma to those surrounding her even then.

Cassandra was the child of an English professor and a stay at home mom.  Her father had walked out on her mother and her when he met another woman that he claimed was the love of his life. As the girls grew up, they went to different high schools and lost touch. 

Cassandra is determined to go back to Baltimore and use this story as her next book.  She will write about these childhood friendships and tell what really happened to Callie's baby.  When she gets there, however, she quickly finds it will not be an easy job.  No one is eager to talk to her or renew old friendships.  She is rebuffed by all the other girls in the group, all of whom insist they have no idea where to find Callie and let Cassandra know that they wouldn't help her if they could as they don't want to be the focus of a book.

Cassandra presses on.  Can she find the truth that has been hidden for more than twenty years?  As she pushes foward, she discovers that everyone involved has secrets, including some hard truths about her own childhood that she hasn't faced or known before.

Laura Lippman has written an intriguing book.  The characters are portrayed deftly, and remind us of how difficult it is to renew old friendships when life has moved us on to different pathways as adults.  The plot twists and turns and pulls the reader in quickly.  This book is recommended for all readers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Imagine this.  You're at home when your lover calls for you to come over.  You rush over, regardless of the fact that she's the wife of your ex-boss, who happens to be the head of Homicide in your town.  You make love and then hear the unthinkable: the front door opening and footsteps heading up the stairs, so you jump out the window and head home.

Add in one fact: you're an ex-cop who had to leave the force due to brain damage.  Brain damage that was caused when you failed to commit suicide by shooting yourself in the head, and that leaves you with blackouts and the propensity for making bad decisions. 

An hour later, your ex-boss calls.  He wants to hire you as a part-time consultant, as he has done off and on since you had to leave the force.  The crime?  His wife, Scarlet, has been found butchered in her bed--the bed you just left.  Unfortunately, you can't remember if you witnessed the crime, or maybe even committed it.  Can you find the answer before more tragedy occurs?

Vincent Zandri has created a compelling narrator.  The reader is drawn into the web the same as Richard Moonlight, the ex-detective is, and is as unable to break free of the action as he is.  The plot is intricate, the pace spellbinding.  This book is recommended for any and all mystery readers; it is easily one of the best I've read lately. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Waking Up In The Land Of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo

In Waking Up In The Land Of Glitter, Kathy Cano-Murillo follows three women as they prepare for the annual national Craft show, held in their town.  Chloe, known as Crafty Chloe, is a TV reporter determined to make her mark.  Although she hates crafts, she has determined that it is the easiest way to get a TV show, book deal and all the perks of being a personality on the national stage.  Ofelia is a true crafter, and one of Chloe's biggest fans.  Ofelia loves crafting, any craft, no matter how difficult or how expensive.   Unfortunately, while her heart is good, her end results are hideous and her family and friends cringe when she gives them her creations.  She is also spending way too much time and money on her crafts, and her family is hurting as a result.

Then there is Star.  A fountain of ideas and energy, she just can't quite get it together in life.  She starts a hundred projects and doesn't finish one.  Moving at the speed of light, she leaves disasters behind, as she doesn't take the time to follow through on details.  Star is at a crisis point.  Her parents are going to start charging her rent or make her move out, three years after she has finished college.  They've fired her from her job at their restaurant.  Worst of all, she has alienated the love of her life who has decided he has to move on to protect himself from her wild mood swings and energetic ambitions that seem to go nowhere.

The three come together to work on the craft show.  Ofelia is Star's cousin, and Chloe joins with them to further her image as a crafting queen.  Can these three pull it together in time for the show?  Can Ofelia learn to keep her love of crafts without ruining her family?  Will Chloe make it to the top of the crafting world?  Can Star find her way, both in life and love?

Cathy Cano-Murillo has created an engaging book that will please the reader.  The characters, while very different, are all written so realistically that the reader will feel they know them.  Star, in particular, is a vibrant character, a whirlwind with a love for others, that the reader won't soon forget.  The writing is breezy and the story never drags.  This book is recommended for women readers. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Undress Me In The Temple Of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

In 1986, fresh out of college, Susan Jane Gilman and a college friend, Claire, decided to embark on a grand adventure.  Before they took up a life of jobs and marriage, why not take the chance to travel the world and see lands and sights they had never seen before?  They bought world-wide air tickets, and decided to start their journey in China.

Naive and armed only with academic knowledge, they were knocked aback by the reality of traveling in a primitive country like China.  The trip occurred in the early years of China being opened for travel to Westerners, and there were still multiple governmental restrictions.  The stark reality of waking up in a place where you knew absolutely no one, and where even the street signs were in a foreign language unknown to you, overwhelmed the girls.  They didn't even know each other that well, and quickly discovered that they were not good traveling mates.  They were totally unprepared for the lonliness and isolation they encountered.

There were also great times.  They were stunned at the friendliness of the Chinese people.  There were other backpackers around, and the backpacking world was one of instant camaraderie.  There was gorgeous scenery, and ancient wonders that they could hardly believe they were seeing in person. 

This book is recommended for travel writing lovers and for any readers looking for an interesting read.  Gilman has opened a world of the other side of travel; not just gorgeous sights and new experiences but lonliness and fear.  It is a fascinating story and recommended for anyone anticipating such a trip.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life--solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. In response, Marlowe finds himself going beyond his own legal and ethical boundaries to understand the secret that torments this genius, a journey that will lead him into the lives of the women closest to Robert Oliver and toward a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Ranging from American museums to the coast of Normandy, from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love, THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, the losses of history, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

Giveaway Rules

All entries without an email address in the comment will be disqualified.  Please leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

1. The giveaway starts Sunday, March 7th and ends Saturday, March 20th at midnight.

2. There will be three winning entries, which will be chosen by a random number generator.

3. Winners will be emailed and must respond within three days in order to claim their prize. After three days, another winner will be chosen and notified.

4. For one entry, comment below with your email address attached. You can get additional entries by being or becoming a follower of this blog, posting about the giveaway on your blog, or tweeting about it on Twitter. If posting elsewhere, please provide the link.

5. Winners must have a street address in either the United States or Canada. No P.O. boxes allowed by Hachette, sorry!

This is a wonderful book so good luck to all participants!  Thanks for coming to Booksie's Blog.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shadow Of The King by Helen Hollick

In this final book of Helen Hollick's Pendragon trilogy, the reader follows the story of Arthur and Gwenhwyfar through their final years.  The book begins with Arthur and his men going to Gaul to help his allies there.  He is betrayed by them and forced into a battle where his army is massively outnumbered.  A few of his men escape and take the body of their beloved king with them.  As they are followed by the victorious enemy, Morgaine, the pagan healer who also loves Arthur and who followed him to Gaul, convinces them to move on and leave her to bury the King.

What she knows is that there is still life beating in Arthur's body.  She nurses him back to health and he then remains with her and their son, Medraut, for three years.  Arthur has lost his confidence and feels he has nothing to return for, as he believes that Gwenhwyfar had died of illness before the battle.

A Saxon slave was granted freedom by Arthur before the battle and is intensely loyal to him.  When he learns that Arthur is alive, he travels to England and tells Gwenhwyfar and her court.  She travels to Gaul to find Arthur, who leaves with her and brings his son.

But he comes back to an England where his kingdom is in tatters, with many scheming for his former position and alliances broken.  The book follows Arthur's campaigns as he once again brings England together under his rule. 

This book is recommended for historical fiction readers.  Helen Horrick has created a historical masterpiece, taking a different route with Arthur's life than that which came down through history, but with enough touchpoints that the reader will be constantly reminded of those legends.  The history rings true, and the relationships and battles transport the reader to another time.