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29 March 2016

Teaser Tuesday -- Carola Dunn's Requiem for a Mezzo

The Book & Tease

The Meme

Amazon Description
In March 1923, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple takes a break from her writing to attend a performance of Verdi's Requiem at the Albert Hall with Scotland Yard's Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher. The tickets are a gift from Muriel Westlea, Daisy's neighbor and the sister of Bettina Westlea, who will be singing the mezzo role. What should be a pleasant afternoon is quickly disrupted when, during the performance, Bettina falls dead on stage--killed by cyanide poisoning. While it is quickly determined that Bettina's on-stage glass of liqueur was laced with the poison, discovering the person responsible will not prove to be an easy task. 
Bettina was neither well liked nor well behaved, and many of her colleagues, associates, and even her family had good reason to want her dead. Daisy, determined to help Detective Chief Inspector Fletcher whether he wants help or not, decides to do some investigating on her own. But with so many suspects, the murderer may well go free....

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Requiem for a Mezzo right now and it is by far my favorite of the first three Daisy Dalrymple books. That may or may not have absolutely everything to do with the fact that it heavily features my beloved DCI Alec Fletcher. Okay, so it's not only because of Alec .... although he does play a mighty big part in it. Of course, more of Alec also means more of Sergeant Tring and Constable Piper and I adore them both, as well.  Mostly, though, the story kept me going. In spite of having a whole lot of characters with a whole lot of overlapping and sometimes conflicting stories, this installment has flowed better (and faster) for me. I still have no flipping clue as to "whodunnit" and look forward to finding out .... and to losing myself in more of Daisy & Alec's further adventures (I have the next one already lined up for April)!

25 March 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday 56 - Alan Bradley's Speaking From Among The Bones

Ah, Flavia de Luce. I'm putting off an ARC or three in order to read the next in the series. I've missed her.

Per Amazon:
Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.

So glad to see that she's just as precocious and morbid as in the previous installments! The fact that five books in she's still described as being the same age bothers me slightly, though. An awful lot of murder happening in such a small place in a year. Remind me not to visit.

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


I seem to have a 5th book curse. With most series the fifth book, unless it's the last in the series (or Harry Potter), tends to feel like a slump. Like a "haven't I read this four other times?" slump. Such was the case here. I still enjoyed it because I adore Flavia, but it wasn't until the very end that I really sat up with wide eyes and an "oh my goodness" look on my face. In fact, the very last sentence was the clincher that makes me itch to start the next book sooner than later.

24 March 2016

Rambling About... The Wedding Date by Jennifer Joyce

So, NetGalley has completely thrown my original plan for what I was going to read this month for a loop. I'm not really complaining, though, since without NetGalley (and the ever-so-kind folks at Carina) I wouldn't have just finished this darling gem!

Title: The Wedding Date
Author: Jennifer Joyce
Publication: 28 March 2016, Carina UK
Amazon Description: Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…
So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!
Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?

First Lines: I hitch up my skirt - why oh why did I choose to wear the tightest pencil skirt known to man this morning? - and scuttle along the pavement as the bus trundles towards the bus stop ahead.
Favorites on 4s:
14% - So I'd gone for a pair of nude ballet pumps (thankfully), black skinny jeans and a floaty top, Not too casual but not too smart either. It was the Baby Bear of the fashion world.
34% - He doesn't see the wide eyes turning to stare. Doesn't see me rising from my seat. Doesn't see me scuttling across the restaurant, pressing money into the hand of a passing waiter and instructing him to knock it off our bill.
64% - "You are completely nuts. Dangerously so."
94% - Logging onto Facebook, I type out my message and press send before I can change my mind.

Ramble: I absolutely cracked up reading about poor Delilah James and her dating woes ... because I've been there and done that. I've done the disastrous set-ups and the even more disastrous online dating. (Here's a hint : when someone says they have an "athletic build" and a "competitive nature," they may be under the impression that actually eating all-you-can-eat at a buffet is a sport ... and a man claiming to be 5'7" is quite likely to be 5'4".)
Luckily for me, I stumbled on Tom and 10+ years and one awesome kid later we still actually like each other. Luckily for Delilah, she's a character in an adorable chick lit and you know before you even start that everything will be okay for her, too. After all ... that's how these things work.
Sure, I pretty much knew within the first couple of chapters who she was going to end up with kind of like how you always know with the made-for-Hallmark or Lifetime movies before the first commercial break. It didn't matter, though, because the journey to her "happily ever after" was such fun! (Except, of course, for when it broke your heart a little and you wanted to invite Delilah over for a good cry over a pint of Ben & Jerry's.)
I loved the text message conversations that started most of the chapters (there's one between Delilah and her dad that especially made me hoot with laughter). I loved her friends, Lauren and Ryan, and everything that they were willing to do for her. I loved her highs and her lows and how pretty much anything could, at least mentally, be turned into a scene from a musical. She's a girl after my own heart. She even had to deal with a lifetime of name jokes just like I have (my last name is Quick ... which got real old real fast). In fact, the only things that I can think of that I didn't love about this were the people and situations that I wasn't supposed to love to begin with!
If you like romantic comedies at all, I highly recommend you give this one a shot. It's the first book of Joyce's that I've read but it definitely won't be the last!

22 March 2016

Teaser Tuesday & A Teeny Ramble -- Suzanne Kelman's The Rejected Writers' Book Club

The Book & Tease

The Meme

The Ramble
I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting when I requested Suzanne Kelman's The Rejected Writers' Book Club from Lake Union Publishing on NetGalley. I had no intention of requesting anything for at least another month or so, but was nosing around to see what some of my favorite publishers had up for grabs and I fell in love with the title and cover. The description didn't make it sound dreadful, either:
Librarian Janet Johnson is puzzled when she is invited—and practically dragged—to her first meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club. This quirky group of women would much rather celebrate one another’s rejected manuscripts over cups of tea and slices of lemon cake than actually publish a book. But good friends are exactly what Janet needs after moving to the small town of Southlea Bay, Washington. Just as the ladies are about to raise a teacup to their five hundredth rejection letter, they receive bad news that could destroy one member’s reputation—and disband the group forever. To save the club, Janet joins her fellow writers on a wild road trip to San Francisco in search of the local publisher who holds the key to a long-buried secret. As they race to the finish line, they’ll face their fears—landslides, haunted houses, handsome strangers, ungrateful children—and have the time of their lives.

Janet is an empty-nester and about to become a grandmother and my one-and-only, John, turns ten this June so we're not quite in the same place life-experience-wise, but I could definitely relate to her in so many ways. She and her husband tease each other in much the same way that Tom and I do. She adores books. We find the same things about life ridiculous and sometimes exasperating (one of my favorite lines? "I was up and down like a whore's drawers") and I have a sneaky suspicion that she finds this image running through her head on a regular basis:
We would also both do anything that we could to help a friend in need -- even if it seems impossible and utterly ridiculous. That's basically what this book is all about. The impossible and utterly ridiculous. No, no. The helping a friend in need part. Only they aren't exactly friends when it all begins and it does seem impossible at times and is absolutely utterly ridiculous most of the time.

Even the chapter titles are chuckle-inducing and I love good chapter titles. Just to give you an idea, here are some of my favorites.
Chapter 1: Tyrants & Trash Cans
Chapter 6: Fairy Bells & Hot-Pink Jogging Pants
Chapter 13: A Ghost That Eats Pie
Chapter 17: Unchaining Ethel From The Toilet
Chapter 22: Saucepans, Drugs, & Doris's "Smalls"

And the best part is that they all actually make sense once you read it!

Speaking of reading it, I highly recommend that you do so. According to Goodreads it was actually published for the first time in 2014 but you only have to wait a week for the shiny new Lake Union edition to come out with the oh-so-gorgeous cover. (Even pretty on phones and tablets -- and the Kindle edition will only be $3.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited!) So go, do your pre-order thing, read it when it gets released on March 29th ..... and let me know when you want to start planning our road trip!

17 March 2016

Rambling About.. Cecelia Ahern's There's No Place Like Here

I started reading this a week ago. I've been so swamped with life in general that it's taken me a while, but at least I've been able to give it a Book Beginnings/Friday 56 post AND a Teaser Tuesday post and now a ramble. It really deserves the attention, too.

Title: There's No Place Like Here
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Amazon Description:   Since Sandy Shortt's childhood classmate disappeared twenty years ago, Sandy has been obsessed with missing things. Finding what is lost becomes her single-minded goal--from the lone sock that vanishes in the washing machine to the car keys she misplaced. It's no surprise, then, that Sandy's life's work becomes finding people who have vanished from their loved ones. Sandy's family is baffled and concerned by her increasing preoccupation. Her parents can't understand her compulsion, and she pushes them away further by losing herself in the work of tracking down these missing people. She gives up her life in order to offer a flicker of hope to devastated families...and escape the disappointments of her own.
Jack Ruttle is one of those devastated people. It's been a year since his brother Donal vanished into thin air, and he has enlisted Sandy Shortt to find him. But before she is able to offer Jack the information he so desperately needs, Sandy goes missing too...and Jack now finds himself searching for his brother and the one woman who understood his pain.
One minute Sandy is jogging through the park, the next, she can't figure out where she is. The path is obscured. Nothing is familiar. A clearing up ahead reveals a camp site, and it's there that Sandy discovers the impossible: she has inadvertently stumbled upon the place-- and people--she's been looking for all her life, a land where all the missing people go. A world away from her loved ones and the home she ran from for so long, Sandy soon resorts to her old habit again, searching. Though this time, she is desperately trying to find her way home...

First Line: Jenny-May Butler, the little girl who lived across the road from me, went missing when I was a child.
Favorites on 4s: 4% - How can I describe this place? It's an in-between place. It's like a grand hallway that leads you nowhere, it's like a banquet dinner of leftovers, a sports team made up of the people never picked, a mother without her child, it's a body without its heart.
14% - "You're mature for your age, Sandy." "Funny, because I was hoping you'd know an awful lot more for yours."
44% - I pictured the people in my life who tried to approach me, to befriend me, who tried to connect with me. I pictured me knocking them back.
64% - At moments when life is at its worst there are two things that you can do: 1) break down, lose hope, and refuse to go on while lying face-down on the ground banging your fists and kicking your legs, or 2) laugh.
74% - Within every bad thing I see good, and, likewise, within every good thing I see bad, however impossible it is to understand it or see it at the time. As humans we are the epitome of life; in life there is always balance.

Ramble: Like I said, the only reason it took me so long to read this was because of life distractions.  It's the first book of Ahern's that I've read, though I've seen a couple of the movies based on her books before and quite adored them, as well. I loved this book once I really got into it ... in spite of the fact that I found Sandy, the main character, a bit abrasive and unlikable most of the time. I guess I just kept rooting for her to find herself (and her missing socks) and become more likable. What I really loved was the whole premise of the place called Here where missing things and people end up. We all have things that just disappear and I love thinking that they've ended up Here being used and loved by a mis-placed person. I keep remembering toys that my son had when he was younger. He didn't ever take anything out of the house but still the toys would go MIA. People Here have built new lives with new families and new babies being born so maybe one of them has gotten some delight out of the missing Velma action figure. (Seriously -- the only member of Scooby gang to vanish and her mysterious disappearance has been getting to me for at least 5 years.) I wish the book had spent more time getting know more about Here and its inhabitants, though I can't think of anything in the book that I would replace for it. I guess the book just needed to be longer .... or, even better, have a sequel set Here without Sandy!

15 March 2016

Teaser Tuesday : Cecelia Ahern's There's No Place Like Here

I'm still working my way through There's No Place Like Here .... very very slowly. Just past the 25% mark and, luckily, found this wonderful bit for today's Teaser Tuesday! I'm enjoying the book so far, but it's taking a lot longer than it "should" because I've been so flippin' busy.

The Book

The Meme

11 March 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday 56 : Cecelia Ahern's There's No Place Like Here

I've had a little lull in reading this week but on the bus into work tonight I finally started Cecelia Ahern's There's No Place Like Here ... and just in time to Book Beginnings & Friday 56!  As always, Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.
I'm  not very  far in (only about 10%), but I'm already enjoying it and wondering if we'll ever find Jenny-May and I wonder who's gone off at the 56% mark! I'll find out!!!

09 March 2016

Rambling (A Little) About.. M. J. Trow's The Circle

When I read the first book in the Grand & Batchelor Victorian Mystery series I fell in love with all of the details and how Trow wove the fictional in to the non-fictional. This time, unfortunately, it all felt like it was too much. Even though it's a fairly short book (the epub-ARC I received from NetGalley clocks in at 222 pages on my app) it felt longer and as though a third of the words could be removed without it hindering the tale. Maybe I was just too distracted with other things at the time. Normally a book this length would take a maximum of two days for me. It's now day six. I would still recommend the series to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries, though. Perhaps reading the two books back-to-back would feel more cohesive. Perhaps I'll try at some point.

04 March 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday56 : M.J. Trow's The Circle

I'm SO happy that the follow-up to M.J. Trow's The Blue and The Grey is on its way and even happier that NetGalley has it available to request! I loved the first one and rambled about it last February here. So far this one is just as wonderful. Of course, since I'm reading a digital ARC the quotes above may differ in the final.

The Amazon description:
July, 1868. On receiving a commission from Matthew’s cousin Luther to look into the suspicious death of Lafayette Baker, Head of the US National Detective Police, private investigators Matthew Grand and his business partner James Batchelor leave London for Washington DC. They find a country still scarred by the bitter legacy of the Civil War and even in death Lafayette Baker remains one of the most hated men north or south of the Potomac.
The newly-created Ku Klux Klan wanted him dead. So did the Washington brothel-keepers, bar-owners and gamblers whom Baker had closed down. What does beautiful former spy Miss Belle Boyd know that she’s not telling them? And could the President himself be involved?
Matthew Grand finds he has come home to a mixed reception, while Batchelor struggles as an Englishman abroad. Will either of them survive long enough to uncover the truth?
As always, Friday 56 (share a blurb from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader

03 March 2016

Rambling About.. What Happens in the Alps... by T A Williams

Title: What Happens in the Alps...
Author: T A Williams
Publication: 21 March 2016 -- Carina UK
Amazon Description: A sparkling romantic comedy guaranteed to beat the winter blues, What Happens in the Alps… is one story you don’t want miss in 2016!

Two years ago, Annie Brewer’s life was turned upside down when her adrenaline-junkie husband died in a tragic climbing accident. So she’s hoping that moving to the beautiful village of Santorso in the Italian Alps will finally put her life back on track!
She might be going into business with her oldest friend – notorious lady-charmer Matt Brown – but men are definitely out of the question for Annie! That is, until she bumps into tall, dark and delicious Alessandro Lago on the ski slopes…and spontaneously says ‘Yes’ to a date!
It must be the crisp, mountain air but suddenly, anything seems possible. The only trouble is, chivalrous Matt is looking more gorgeous than ever…
(please note that since I'm reading an ARC the following quotes may differ in the final publication)

First Line: 'Don't look down.'
Favorites on 4s: 4% - An expression of heightened interest spread across Matt's face. Before he could comment further, Annie leapt in to lay down the ground rules.
34% - Outside it was so cold that it took her breath away, as did the unimpeded view of the night sky, now ablaze with innumerable stars.
64% - She was just starting to scan the slope to see if he had fallen when there was a loud whoop of joy and he appeared, skis opened wide, arms opened even wider, flying off the roof and through the air twenty feet above her.

Ramble: I feel pretty rotten about how pessimistic I first was about T. A. Williams. You see, the "T" is for "Trevor" and what in the world is a MAN doing writing Chick Lit?!?  I'd first heard of Williams back in December when I started my obsession with UK-based Chick Lit publishers and authors but it wasn't until What Happens in the Alps... became available to request on NetGalley that I did more than just follow him on Twitter. Silly, I know. After all, I would (almost) never hem and haw over a woman writing a book with a male lead. Besides, some of my all-time favorite love stories and female heroines have come from the minds of men -- Shakespeare gave me Beatrice, Capote gave my Holly, Hughes gave me Watts, Whedon gave me Buffy.

It's been two years since Annie's husband died and she's finally starting over with a new business in a new place and a new lease on life. She doesn't believe herself to be interested in finding love again but, of course, that soon changes. Thanks to a labrador named Leo, Annie meets local hotel/ski resort owners Alex and his father right around the same time that her husband's best friend, Matt, re-enters her life. Alex's father dotes on Annie and helps her find a cottage to rent. Alex wines and dines her and whisks her off for nights on the town in his Ferrari. Matt is her knight in shining armor (or, as the case would have it, faded blue jeans) and helps her get her business and home situated over pizza (and more wine).

Annie has known Matt for a long time and knows that he always had a habit of being a cad when it came to women. He swears that he's grown out of it ... but has he? After all of this time of seeing him like a brother, does it matter? She and Alex have a great time together when they go out when he isn't running off to answer his cell phone. She's only just gotten to know him .... but does she really know him and are those calls all business?

You'll have to get it yourself and find out once it's released in just a few more weeks.

This was a delightful read and I'm hoping to get my hands on more of Williams' books soon. Annie might not be as life-changing for me as Beatrice, Buffy, Watts and Holly .... but she did come from a fantastic mind -- even if that mind does happen to inhabit a man's head.

01 March 2016

Teaser Tuesday - John Dufresne's I Don't Like Where This Is Going

The Book
(please note that the copy I'm reading in an e-ARC so the final text may be different)

The Meme

The Ramble
I had just finished the first Wylie Melville book, No Regrets, Coyote, when I dived right into this one (you can read my ramble HERE).

Do NOT read this one first. You'll get confused. You might get mad. You may end up feeling like you need a therapist. I know that a lot of series have installments that can pretty much stand on their own, but this isn't one of those series. Without the character and plot knowledge of the first you really wouldn't like where this one is going because you would feel like you were missing something. (And, obviously, you would be -- an entire book's worth.)

If you HAVE read the first book then you're due for a treat because this one is even more jaw-dropping and head-scratching and infuriating and laugh-out-louding than the first. Several of the secondary characters from No Regrets are back and hugely expanded upon -- including one in particular that I really thought was just going to be a "one-and-done" character. I've definitely been pleasantly surprised even though some things happen that have made me want to throw the book across the room in disgust (luckily, I value my phone and tablet far too much to actually have done so).

While the first installment takes place largely in south Florida, I Don't Like Where This Is Going is mostly set in Las Vegas. I'm not sure where the next one may end up but, as a series goes, I definitely do like where this is going.