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29 September 2015

#TeaserTuesday # 30 -- Alan Bradley's A Red Herring Without Mustard

The Book & The Tease

This is the third book in Bradley's Flavia de Luce series. I rambled about first one HERE and the second HERE. At the time of the second ramble I said "Maybe I won't wait four months before reading the third." Yeah .... that was May 20th. Whoops!

I still adore Flavia and despise her sisters.... and even though this installment didn't seem to have the same easy flow as the first two did for me, I KNOW I won't wait four (or more) months before reading the fourth installment because it's part of my Christmas line-up for this year!

The Meme

28 September 2015

Suzanne Chazin's Land of Careful Shadows

I likely never would have picked this book up if Kensington hadn't offered the second book in the series, A Blossom Of Bright Light, to me via NetGalley. I hadn't heard of Suzanne Chazin and since it's far from being a middle grade, historical or cozy it's not something that I would have just stumbled upon in my searches for something to read. I think, sometimes, that someone at Kensington knows me more than maybe I know myself.

As said, this isn't cozy. Not only aren't their recipes or book clubs or quirky amateur sleuths ... it's just not cozy. Things are uncomfortable. Things are real. Well, fictional ... but more realistic than the cozies I've read so frequently for so many years.

Land of Careful Shadows takes place in Lake Holly, New York -- a fictional community north of New York City (only about 50 miles north -- maybe Westchester or Rockland County). When Jimmy Vega was growing up there he was the only Latino aside from his mother. Jimmy is now a detective for the county and has returned to Lake Holly after the body of an Hispanic woman is found dead at a nearby lake. In her purse was a photo of a small child and no one knows where the child is. Jimmy's ex-wife and teenage daughter still live there -- and his high school sweetheart and her husband are also back in the area with their young pre-teen daughter. Lake Holly become a haven for undocumented immigrants from Central America who live alongside documented (aka "legal") immigrants and affluent members of society (such as Jimmy's exes) -- often doing low-paying jobs for a day here and a day there. Some members of the community see the "illegals" as people who are just trying to make better lives for themselves and their families but some just want to see them all deported and sent back to wherever they came from.

Much of the story centers around this clash. Are the authorities not doing enough because the victim was there illegally and they (seemingly) don't care about bringing the killer to justice? Are they doing too much because she was there illegally and, therefore, didn't really matter? Jimmy gets pulled from all directions -- as a police officer, a Latino (albeit it a New York born once with Puerto Rican heritage), even as a father since his own daughter is dating an illegal immigrant.

This is not just Jimmy's story and this is not just a mystery/crime novel. My favorite parts centered around the La Casa community center and, especially, the character of Rodrigo. He had already been imprisoned and deported for being an illegal and yet still struggled to return in order to be able to some day return home to his family with enough financial stability to support them. Reading about what he and his friends and family had gone through broke my heart. I've known quite a lot of refugees and immigrants (both documented and undocumented), but none of them had every spoken to me of what they had gone through in order to get to wherever they were. 

I have the second book sitting on my NetGalley shelf waiting for me. I hope it's as good!

27 September 2015

Reading With John : The League of Unexceptional Children

Thanks to NetGalley we just finished the amazing upcoming release by Gitty Danshvari, The League of Unexceptional Children.

Instead of writing a normal review this time, John opted to make a diorama and do a short vlog about it:

24 September 2015

Colleen Oakes' Wendy Darling (Volume One: Stars)

I haven't actually finished this yet, but I plan on doing so at work tonight ... while I eat my Wendy Darling-inspired lunch! (Yes -- that was a totally shameless plug.) As I said on the other blog, this book is so good that I don't even need to finish it before wanting to scream from the rooftops that this book is sooooo good!
Available October 13, 2015!
I am incredibly horribly snobbishly (and, possibly, foolishly) addicted to -- and protective of -- Wendy Darling and her brothers, John and Michael. I always have been. My mom was a huge fan of all things Peter Pan and I had always felt a bond with Wendy. Peter Pan himself and the whole idea of Neverland scared me, but Wendy? She was my girl. She was caring. She was bookish. She wanted to be daring and adventurous, but she also wanted to go home. I got her. 
When I was quite small I found out that the maiden name of my sixth-great grandmother Lois was Darling ... and that her father's name was John. Coincidence? I thought not.
Never mind the fact that J.M. Barrie's Darlings were fictional (supposedly). 
Never mind the fact that my Darlings were from Scotland. 
Never mind the fact that my Darlings had come to the Continent 200 years before Barrie was even born.
Somewhere in my heart of hearts I knew ... I just KNEW ... that somehow the family was really truly real and that we were related through dear Lois, daughter of John. 
Very. Very. Distantly.
I told you -- I was quite small at the time.
Over the years, of course, I began to realize how silly the whole notion was but Little-Girl-Me still exists deep down inside and doesn't care a smidge about the silliness of notions and somewhere in my heart of hearts we still "know" that somewhere in some dimension all of these things are true. As such, I often find myself having issues with how my "family" is portrayed in adaptations and re-tellings of Barrie's stories.
I almost didn't request Colleen Oakes' Wendy Darling when I saw it on NetGalley because of this tendency of mine. I hadn't ready any of her books before and I was pessimistic as usual. 
Oh how I was wrong.
It's exciting and heart breaking and so overwhelmingly ... overwhelming. It touched my very core. It wrapped Little-Girl-Me up in a blanket and wiped away the very tears it itself caused. 
(Granted, Little-Girl-Me wouldn't be the suitable audience of this book. It's definitely more of a Young Adult/Adult read I think ... but I've never cared much for "suitability" so I may have read it anyway.)
The story opens in the nursery where 16-year-old Wendy is at the window with her father searching for a special star that only appears for a few days once a year. Her mother freaks out when she sees them because, you know, dangerous things can happen at open windows. 
This window is where Wendy finally sees the star. 
This window is where the bookseller's son, Booth, declares his intentions to tell her parents that he's in love with her -- in spite of the fact that he's much poorer and, therefore, unsuitable (Wendy doesn't care much for "suitability," either. She's totally my girl.). 
This window is where Peter Pan suddenly appears in a terrifying display on the night when Wendy is going to sneak out to be with Booth. 
This window is where Wendy and her brothers depart the nursery and London and take off to Neverland.
Neverland still scares me. It's full of unknowns. Dangers and pirates (not of the Well-Read variety, of course) and wild boys and a fairy with a pretty nasty jealousy streak. I would so much rather be home! Although ... Peter Pan can be rather mesmerizing ... 
This fact is quite possibly the biggest danger of all.

And the downside to getting an advanced copy from NetGalley? Now I have to wait even longer for the next installment in the series!!!

22 September 2015

#TeaserTuesday # 29 -- Ann Charles' Meanwhile Back in Deadwood

The Book & The Tease

This is book # 6 in the Deadwood series and it's one of my absolute favorite series! It's comedy, suspense, mystery, paranormal, and romance all tied into one ... or six (with more to come). Violet Parker is the star of the show and she's a single mom of twins. She works as a real estate agent and keeps encountering all sorts of craziness while just trying to make it through each day without losing her grip. I still don't know how I feel about her romantic life (I'll give you a spoiler -- it's NOT with Harvey although she has proposed to him), but it seems that it's a pairing that's destined to be. I've tried to change Ann's mind about it but I keep getting overruled. Ah well. I'll keep reading them anyway.

The Meme

18 September 2015

#BookBeginnings & #Friday56 -- A Beautiful Blue Death

I received an email from NetGalley just as I was about to wrap up The Santa Klaus Murder saying that the first book in Charles Finch's Charles Lenox Mysteries series, A Beautiful Blue Death, was available as a "Read Me Now" in order to prepare for latest in the series being released in November. "Sure!" I say ... and grabbed it for my shelf before realizing that I would still be behind 7 1/2 books. I debated just saying "eh" and not bothering with it, but without having something else already lined up in my head to read next I decided that I might as well give it at least a bus-ride home shot.

Now, here it is, Friday again and while I'm not quite to the 56% mark yet I'm using the book for this week's Book Beginnings and Friday56. Friday56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences & your thoughts) is at Rose City Reader.
At the point of the beginning (top left), I have no idea yet who Lenox is ... who Graham is ... or what the note could possibly be. I did wonder about all of those things, though, and continued on ... and was hooked before I even hit the 4% mark!

16 September 2015

Rambling about Mavis Doriel Hay's The Santa Klaus Murder

Last week, I started to debate what I would read this year for my annual "All Christmas All The Time" read-a-thon starting at Thanksgiving and went to see what NetGalley might have to offer up. I saw two Christmasy offerings from Poisoned Pen Press and was immediately curious. I first heard about PPP and their line of "British Library Crime Classics" thanks to NetGalley. Golden Age mysteries that I had never read -- by authors I had never heard of?!? Consider me sold and requesting! 

Aaaah, the Golden Age. 

Primarily written in the 1920s and 1930s, Golden Age mysteries were typically "whodunnits" featuring a detective and sometimes a sidekick like Poirot had Hastings and Campion had Lugg. Red herrings were prevalent and the tales often featured the upper-class as victims and/or villains. They were the early "cozies" of the mystery genre. I even overheard someone in the library one day explaining that Agatha Christie was "like the grandmother of the cozy." Nothing very gruesome or gory with the crime frequently happening before the narration begins or soon thereafter. 

Ronald Knox, a Golden Age author himself, wrote the following ten rules for the genre in 1929 (copied from Gotham Writers Workshop):
  • The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  • All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  • Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  • No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  • No Chinaman must figure in the story.
  • No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  • The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  • The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  • The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  • Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.
  • So ... these were the "rules" for the Golden Age. For authors such as Agatha Christie. She, along with Margery Allingham,  Dorothy L Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh were considered to be the "Queens of the Golden Age" but were not by any means the only females writing mysteries at the time. Some others wrote dozens of novels ... some wrote far fewer. Mavis Doriel Hay wrote three between 1934 and 1936.  

    The Santa Klaus Murder was first published in 1936 and takes place at Sir Osmond Melbury's country estate, Flaxmere. Sir Osmond is more than a bit controlling and cantankerous but the entire family and a few guests come home to celebrate Christmas anyway. It was expected of them. (Only one of his four children had ever not done what was expected and has been suffering for it ever since.) 

    Those in attendance for the festivities (aside from the household staff) include:
    * Sir Osmond's sister Mildred, who is an aging gossip who is only happy when being listened to and is quite bitter about replaced in the household's keeping by the pretty young secretary, Grace Portisham
    * Son George, who now runs the family business,  with his uptight wide and their three spoiled children
    * Widowed daughter Hilda and her daughter Carol
    * Daughter Edith and her husband David (no children for them)
    * Daugher Jennifer who still lives at home
    * Philip Cheriton who is in love with Jennifer and vice-versa
    * Oliver Witcomb who is Sir Osmond's choice for Jennifer's future husband

    Sir Osmond had ordered a Santa outfit to be worn by Oliver on Christmas Day for his grandchildren. When it didn't arrive, Grace ordered a new one to be rushed out. Crisis diverted! Happy holidays for all!  Well, as happy as anything ever was at Flaxmere ... Aunt Mildred always said that no good would ever come from having them all together. 

    Aunt Mildred was right. Sir Osmond is found shot in the head in his study. A study, of course, with locked doors and windows.

    The local chief constable, Colonel Halstock, arrives on the scene with his team to investigate. They soon discover that almost everyone in attendance had motive but not means ... and the one guest who may have had the means did not seem to have a motive. The true happenings of Christmas Day are finally discovered by Halstock ... after several missteps and red herrings ... with the help of his team, the suspects themselves, and an actor named Kenneth Stour who happened to be staying nearby (and who also happened to be the former flame of married Edith).

    Out of curiosity, I went through the list of Knox's rules to see if they all fit and he would have been pleased. All of the rules were followed to a T (although I don't at all agree with the "stupid friend of the detective" label so just cross out "stupid," okay?) and it was a delightfully puzzling tale on top of it all. 

    I found myself coming to the end of the book with a bit of dismay knowing that Hay only wrote three and this was the last. There would be no future mentions of whatever happened to this character or that. Luckily, Poisoned Pen Press has already released (or, rather, re-released) her other two books and after how much I enjoyed this one I'll be picking those up soon, I'm sure. Maybe I'll discover that Hay was a rule-breaker and snuck in a Chinaman or two. Maybe even secret twins with supernatural abilities....

    15 September 2015

    #TeaserTuesday # 28 - The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay

    The Book & The Tease

    Mavis Doriel Hay - The Santa Klaus Murder

    Originally published in 1936.
    Re-released October 6, 2015 by Poisoned Pen Press.
    Review copy courtesy of PPP and NetGalley.
    Full ramble coming tomorrow!

    Personal Disclaimer: I normally hold off on Christmas-y books until Thanksgiving unless part of a series I'm in the midst of .... or, now, NetGalley giving me a few ahead of time! 

    The Meme

    11 September 2015

    #BookBeginnings & #Friday56 (& a bit of a ramble) -- The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss (ARC)

    Another Friday, another Friday56 & Book Beginnings! Friday56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences & your thoughts) is at Rose City Reader.

    Wednesday I started reading the ARC of Max Wirestone's The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss that I received thanks to NetGalley and Redhook Books. The description on NetGalley screamed to me "READ THIS!!! THIS IS ALLLLL YOU!"
    For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.

    The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

    Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she's not living her best life. But that's all about to change.

    Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she's offered a job. A job that she's woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).

    Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she's just the girl to deal with them.
    In case you didn't already know : I'm a geek. Always have been, always will be. I haven't played much in the way of MMORPGs, but back in the day (20+ years ago) I was known to spend many an hour dialing up in order to play MUDs & PBPs. I lost sleep over Diablo. I played Dungeons & Dragons with my brother and his friends ... until I was banished in middle school for killing someone repeatedly ... and gruesomely. I had my own rather awesome deck of Magic: The Gathering cards -- first editions. I dated SCA guys. I girl-crush Felicia Day. My left arm is enhanced with multiple Doctor Who tattoos. I geek.

    SO I requested the book and was thrilled when I got my approval and now ... for the unproofed-not-necessarily-final-text Book Beginning and Friday 56!

    At the beginning I was immediately filled with the standard questions : why is it the only time they'll meet? Why bothering mentioning him since it is? Why the funky outfit? And then, of course, I remembered : geekdom. As though that makes all of those questions moot points. 

    I have yet to get to the 56% mark that the bottom blip is from (I'm almost there, though!!!). I have to wonder what's happened to get "getting killed" even a thought in Dahlia's mind. I've grown remarkably fond of the girl.

    I warn you now: if you don't have pre-existing geekish tendencies I don't know how much you'll get out of this book. You may end up spending as much time googling things like "Jigglypuff" as you do reading. BUT if you geek ... and if you geek and mystery ... get your hands on this book. You can pre-order from Amazon or stalk your store of choice on October 20th.  

    09 September 2015

    Janet Finsilver's Murder at Redwood Cove

    You should be proud of me.

    I started to read the ARC I received from NetGalley of Janet Finsilver's Murder at Redwood Cove on Tuesday morning and tossed together my blip from it for Teaser Tuesday. I read off and on during the day, during the entire bus commute in to work, and throughout MOST of my work shift. I just didn't want to stop because it was THAT GOOD.
    (available to pre-order now at Amazon for an October 13th release!)
    I did stop, however. 

    I stopped in order to get my son off the school bus and head out to grab dinner with him & his father.
    (I did read a little in the car on the way home, though.) 

    I stopped when we got home in order to fill out the pile of emergency contact forms and permission slips that came home on the first day of 4th grade before I dug into my food.
    (I did read while I ate, though.  The other two were tied up watching some "boy" show on tv.)

    I stopped in order to get a little bit of sleep before having to head to work.
    (Okay ... that was only because I passed out in bed with the phone in my hand.)

    I stopped once AT work to actually DO work.
    (This part is what should impress you because the work I did I COULD have put off.)

    I didn't want to stop.

    The book is the first in a new cozy mystery series starring Kelly Jackson. Kelly works for a resort company and has been sent to a coastal Northern California town to oversee the management of a bed & breakfast whose previous manager, Bob Phillips, had recently been found dead at the bottom of a cliff. It's her first real job in her new position as an "executive administrator" for the company and she really hopes that it goes well. It's her fourth job in three years -- not counting the time spent working at the family ranch.

    Shortly after she arrives at the bed & breakfast she overhears talk that Bob's fall may not have been an accident at all. A group of senior citizens in town seem to believe that he was murdered.

    Now, this group of seniors is one of my favorite parts of the book. They call themselves the Silver Sentinels and they're like a geriatric Scooby Gang (I would peg Ivan as Scooby, personally). Bob was a member and supporter of their crime-fighting efforts -- helping the local law enforcement and wildlife agencies tackle bad guys like pickpockets and poachers. Some in the town see them as an asset. Some see them as a group of bored old people. Kelly takes a liking to the group instantly and agrees to help them look into their suspicions.

    In just a short amount of time Kelly comes to really care about the bed & breakfast and the people who surround it. She wants it to go well. She wants the upcoming Taste of Chocolate and Wine Festival to go well. She wants to find out what really happened to Bob.

    Yes, this is a "cozy" mystery so even though there's murder and mayhem and more, it's not graphic and gorey. I did, however, almost throw my phone up against the wall in horror at the end of Chapter 16. I warn you now. 

    Don't do it. 

    It'll be okay. At least, okay-ish.

    Another potential book/phone/tablet throwing moment or two come up but ... I'll let you find them for yourself.

    Of course, the mysteries are all solved by the end. I really expected the guilty party to exclaim that they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling old people. I had my suspicions pretty early on with nothing to go on but a gut feeling. I was horribly wrong which pretty much bummed me out. I still don't like the character that I thought was guilty, though. Sooner or later I'll catch them .... maybe in June 2016 when the second book comes out!

    08 September 2015

    07 September 2015

    Tell The Story To Its End by Simon P Clark

    I was so prepared to give this 5 stars and to share it with my nine year old son. 

    It was gripping and fanciful and heart-wrenching and hopeful ... I thought. 

    And then came the "end." 

    I howled out loud and scared my cat and got strange looks from my son's father while I hollered "what kind of ending was THAT?!?" 

    I suppose, though, that was kind of the point ... but it's not something I would share with my nine year old and since this is supposedly a "middle grade" book and I can't for the life of me imagine letting a middle grader read it ... not a 5 star book anymore.

    (I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

    04 September 2015

    The End of #20BooksOfSummer PLUS #BookBeginnings & #Friday56

    Oh how I love Fridays with Book Beginnings and the Friday 56!  Friday56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences & your thoughts) is at Rose City Reader! This ALSO marks the final day of the #20BooksOfSummer challenge and this, my dear readers, is book # 30. More about that, though, at the end of the post.

    Today I'm finishing up Catriona McPherson's Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, which I also used for this week's Teaser Tuesday. The last book I had read in the series I couldn't really get into but, looking back, I really blame that on trying to read it while going through all sorts of agony with work and exhaustion and dental procedures. I'll have to give that one a re-read at some point because I'm sure it'll be as delightfully amazing as I've found every other book in the series -- this one included.
    At the beginning of the book I had to wonder where Dandy was and why she was in disguise ... and what/who she was disguised as. This being the fifth book in the series I already know and love Dandy and I always look forward to seeing what she's up to.

    In the 1920s (this particular tale takes place in 1926), Dandy (short for Dandelion) is a privileged and bored middle-aged wife and mother whose husband is fairly absent even though he's almost always present (I'm sure you know the type). Early in the series she sort of stumbles into a career as a private investigator with her younger friend, Alec Osborne, taking upon the role of being her "Watson" (which they have often declared in so many words). Why, then, is Alec not yet with her at 56%?!? Well, the General Strike of 1926 was going on which made travel quite difficult and Dandy, of course, was away from home in her disguise. He does finally arrive, however, and the two of them delightfully knock their heads together to solve yet another mystery. 

    No, I'm not even going to tell you what the mystery is. Go back and take a look at my Teaser Tuesday post. That should at least give you a hint.

    I know. I don't always play fair.

    I also don't always play by the rules... which is how my "20 Books of Summer" turned into 30.

    Not in the actual order of being read, here are my 20+ Books of Summer!
    Titles in bold were from my original 20 Books of Summer plan:
    1. Stephanie Bond - 7 Brides for 7 Bodies (Body Movers #7) 
    2. Rhys Bowen - A Royal Pain (Royal Spyness #2) 
    3. Gail Carriger - Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) 
    4. Deanna Chase - Engaged Off Bourbon Street (Jade Calhoun #3.5) & Angels of Bourbon Street (Jade Calhoun #4) 
    5. John Connolly - The Infernals (Samuel Johnson #2) 
    6. Robert Evert - Betrayal in the Highlands (The Riddle in Stone #2) 
    7. Charlaine Harris - Shakespeare's Trollop (Lily Bard #4) 
    8. Carolyn Hart - Mint Julep Murder (Death on Demand #9) 
    9. Charlotte MacLeod - Wrack and Rune (Peter Shandy #3) 
    10. Anna Loan-Wilsey - A Lack of Temperance (Hattie Davish #1)
    11. Anna Loan-Wilsey - Anything But Civil (Hattie Davish #2)
    12. Anna Loan-Wilsey - A Sense of Entitlement (Hattie Davish #3)
    13. Anna Loan-Wilsey - A Deceptive Homecoming (Hattie Davish #4)
    14. B. B. Oak - Thoreau At Devil's Perch (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #1)
    15. B. B. Oak - Thoreau On Wolf Hill (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #2)
    16. B. B. Oak - Thoreau In Phantom Bog (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #3)
    17. William Ritter - Jackaby (Jackaby #1)
    18. Deanna Raybourn - A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)
    19. M. C. Beaton - Death of a Gossip (Hamish MacBeth #1)
    20. Heather Blake - A Witch Before Dying (Wishcraft #2)
    21. Jenn McKinlay - Due Or Die (Library Lover's Mystery #2)
    22. Carola Dunn - The Winter Garden Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple #2)
    23. Caroline Dunford - A Death in the Highlands (Euphemia Martin #2)
    24. Leslie Meier - Mistletoe Murder (Lucy Stone #1)
    25. Leslie Meier - Candy Corn Murder (Lucy Stone #22)
    26. William Ritter - Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2)
    27. Colette London - Dangerously Dark (Chocolate Whisperer #2)
    28. Heather Graham - Sacred Evil (Krewe of Hunters #3)
    29. Agatha Christie - The Man In The Brown Suit (Christie #4)
    30. Catriona McPherson - Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains (Dandy #5)
    Titles I had originally intended but went unread/unfinished:

    Jasper Fforde - Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next #2) - Gave up at about 10% in because I just wasn't feeling it. I'm assuming that I will read it at some point. 

    Alice Kimberly - The Ghost and the Dead Deb (Haunted Bookshop #2) - Didn't even make it to Chapter 2 before my brain was begging for something with more substance.

    * Carolyn Hart - Ghost In Trouble (Bailey Ruth #3) - Honestly, I had even forgotten it was on the list.

    * Lisa Lutz - Trail of the Spellmans (Spellmans #5) - Not 100% sure I've read # 4. Series is definitely worthy of a marathon re-read and ramble from the beginning.

    * Sharyn McCrumb - The Songcatcher (Ballad #6) - I know without a doubt that I've read (and re-read) 1-5 ... but I would feel somewhat amiss if I reviewed/rambled about #6 without touching base with the others first so it looks like another re-read will be happening.