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Amber's Picks

ISBN: 9780143120216
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - February 28th, 2012

 The Whole Willis family is over the moon when William Sr. decides to retire to Finch so he can be closer to his grand sons, son and daughter-in-law. However his notion of a quiet retirement is short-lived, discovering he will have to dodge the amorous advances of Finch's widows and spinsters. Coupled with odd and slightly devious behavior of his new help, William Sr. has his hands full..... If that isn't enough both he and Lori will be asked to perpetrate the largest con in the history of Finch to save the reputation of one of thier own!

This sixteenth installment of the Aunt Dimity series does not disappoint!!! The repartee in the book had me laughing out loud and I was irritated when anything (or anyone) interrupted my reading. As many have heard me say, this cozy series is more than just a set of murder-less mysteries. Atherton's ability to draw you into her character's lives is fantastic and I love that this book returned us back to Finch so I could see all my old friends. Atherton has the ability to use the reader's expectations for nefarious, evil and violent deeds against them in her books. By creating situations which often seem much more sinister than they actually turn out to be, without disappointing her readers in the end! While you can start reading the series with this book without becoming lost (since the basics of the series are given), I would read Aunt Dimity's Death which is the first in the serie, only because you get the most important facts of Aunt Dimity and Lori's relationship in this book. Either way I think the Family Tree will be an enjoyable read for all!!

ISBN: 9780143122715
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - March 26th, 2013

Finch is all a twitter; a new resident is moving into the village - Mrs. Amanda Thistle. However, not all is as it seems with Mrs. Thistle. The local art lovers recognize her as a very famous nature artist. Being a first class information gatherer (or gossip as some would say), Lori sets out to discover why Mrs. Thistle is hiding out in Finch. While the villagers are excited about the new blood, not all are excited to see her move in. Willis Sr.’s admirers, the widows and spinsters in town, see her as competition. Which threatens Mrs. Thistle’s hope of remaining undiscovered in Finch, since they will do what it takes to eliminate their perceived romantic rival.

When I started reading this book it was like coming back home again. I laughed at the village’s excitement and gossip over the new arrival, giggled at the handmaiden’s reactions to Amanda’s presence in Finch, and loved following the ever-evolving scavenger hunt for the witch who once resided there. Perhaps the mystery was a hair thin this time, however the antics of the villagers more than made up for it. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all Dimity lovers out there. And for those of you who have not started the series? Hop to it, we always have a copy of Aunt Dimity’s Death (the first in this series) here for you to snap up!

ISBN: 9780345530455
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Published: Bantam - April 30th, 2013

Hari stumbles into another crime scene: a mechanic at a local garage has been murdered. Her curiosity pulls both her four and two legged friends into help solving the mystery of what caused this poor mechanic to have his head bashed in.

I liked this novel. I am a die hard fan --- however….. In the last several novels, Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries have suffered under the weight of thinly veiled commentary on things like politics, urban growth and insurance practices, for instance, with the mystery (the whole reason I love the books) was sandwiched in between these other themes. The books much were poorer for it. In this 20th anniversary of the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries, she is back to having a strong mystery, with a plethora of favorite characters making an appearance. There are multiple plot points and humor. She still includes themes which are a commentary on the world we live in, HOWEVER they are written into and complement the mystery rather than detract from it. Which I was really excited about. While this book is not as strong as some of her earlier works, I think this would be a good book to return to the series for those who have drifted away from the Sneaky Brown Pie books. And I hope Rita Mae Brown continues down this path, because her next book (if she does) could be as strong as the ones in the beginning of the series!

ISBN: 9780425251768
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Published: Berkley Books - December 4th, 2012

Lindsey Norris is entering her sophomore year of being the library director in Briar Creek. Things have settled into a pleasant routine both professionally and personally, with great friends, wonderful dog and a happy relationship with Sully (the local tour boat captain). But like most good things this pleasantness in Lindsey’s life has come to, at least for the moment, to an end. It all begins with the unexpected arrival of Lindsey’s ex-fiancée who means to win her back, repenting of the past shenanigans he pulled which caused him to lose Lindsey in the first place. The town itself is caught up in a fever. A salvage company has obtained a permit to search the islands for the famed Captain Kidd’s treasure. Even Lindsey isn’t immune; when she discovers the company has a treasure map, her archivist heart is aflutter. The seemingly harmless fun takes a deadly turn when Trudi Hargrave, the town’s political poser, is found dead in the middle of the excavation site, thrusting Lindsey, and her inquisitive nature, into the middle of another mystery. I seriously enjoyed this book. Jenn McKinley has found her legs with this book and is standing strong. It has a bit of everything; the absurdity of protesting Grannies, a guy who won’t take a hint, politics and pirates! There were several times I burst out laughing while I was reading this book. While it is a cozy biblio mystery, it is filled with action adventure and tension filled moments. This book fufills the promise I saw with the first two books in the series, and I am very glad I stuck with it! I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a nice light read! Don’t let the dog on the front cover fool you! Heathcliff is only a lovable pooch, he in no way is involved with the solving of the crime, just in case you are not into talking animal mysteries.

ISBN: 9780425242186
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley Books - July 5th, 2011

Lindsey is finally finding her rhythm as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library, with the help of her best friend Beth who is a talented children’s librarian herself. However things start to go wonky when Beth breaks up with her boyfriend, children’s book writer. When they discover him murdered in his home, well things go from bad to worse, since the local police chief is bent on proving Beth guilty. Lindsey has other ideas since she knows Beth is innocent.

I did enjoy ready this cozy library inspired book. However there are some cookie-cutter elements sprinkled through out the story, that, while furthering the narrative, are far from original, which can be distracting at times, especially if you are an avid cozy reader like myself. That being said I did enjoy reading the story, there are enough fun and unique elements to the story I could overlook the bits of cardboard interspersed through the narrative. I would be more than willing to read the follow up novel to see where the author takes this series

ISBN: 9780425255506
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Published: Berkley Prime Crime - August 6th, 2013

Clare Cosi, manager of the Village Blend, is in a turf war. She recently expanded the coffee house to include a mobile food truck, which tours New York dispensing jolts of caffeine to one and all. The truck is an instant success, much to the chagrin of the KupKake Queen. One night when the “Queen” sets up her truck in front of the Blend, Clare marches out to move her along, when her friend is struck down by a van. Clare begins to help the detective on the case. 

Adding to her stress level she and Matt discover the new beans he has imported from Brazil contain a special surprise….a new very lethal form of crack. Now Clare needs to figure out quick, how to defeat a KupKake Queen, find a killer and a way to stay out of federal lockup!

This was a fast paced and fun read. While there is a whole lot going on, the author does a fantastic job in tying these very different storylines together. She does a great job in wrapping each one up in a very effective way, while furthering other over-arching storylines (Joy and her detective boyfriend, Clare and Quinn--for example). Cleo Coyle did not disappoint me with this book!

One of the thing which I love about this series is while it is considered a culinary mystery, it never beats you over the head with the food. Cleo does a fantastic job on incorporating the coffee into her storylines in different ways. Some are thru clever business strategies her characters devise. Others describe some of the very real problems in the coffee industry (the regions you have to go to get raw materials aren’t always the safest places) and the sheer costs associated with acquiring the beans. Or sometimes just the struggle of teaching a new barista how to pull a shot correctly, while never once preaching to the choir. While the titles are puns (and include coffee references), don’t let them deceive you! They are not so sweet you will get a tooth ache reading them. I would recommend this series to anyone looking for something different and slightly lighter to read!

ISBN: 9780425250358
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Published: Berkley Books - August 7th, 2012

Eve is back in New York and kicking butt in this latest installment in Robb's In Death series. Nadine Furst's book about the Icove cloning case is being made into a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Eve is amused and slightly weirded out by the whole endeavor, but puts her best face on for the department and Nadine.

However things take a hard turn when the actress playing Peabody, K.T. Harris, is found murdered during a cast party. Universally disliked by everyone she came into contact with, K.T. had no shortage of enemies, making the guest list into a suspect list; filled with skillful actors, actresses and influential insiders, Eve isn't intimidated by a one. She stands, as always, for the victim.

I enjoyed reading Eve's latest mystery. It touched on the fallout from her last case in Dallas and touched briefly on the Icove case again, without rehashing or slowing down the current story. I also really enjoyed how Robb has redone the introduction and description of her characters in this book. They’d become stale and repetitive (in my humble opinion) thru the course of her series. The humor, banter, and human emotion which Robb packs into each mystery is present and well done again, as well as some great personal growth for Eve, which is exciting to see. Overall it was a great fast paced mystery I would recommend to anyone who loves the series or wants something fun to read.

ISBN: 9780307950659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 1st, 2013

It is six years after the final scene in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Darcy are living happily ever after in Pemberley with Jane and Charles living happily nearby. Their lives are running smoothly, until the eve of the social event of the season when a carriage approaches Pemerbley at full speed. When it stops, Lydia tumbles out in hysterics claiming her husband, Wickham, has been murdered, plunging the Darcy’s once idyllic life into uncertainty and chaos.

This is an enjoyable read. I liked reacquainting myself with some of my favorite literary characters of all time! You do have to be vaguely familiar with Pride and Prejudice for this mystery (either from watching the movie, mini-series or wikipedia), after that P.D. James does a great job in refreshing your memory about the characters and their histories without ever becoming mired down in the details. She also passes on her keen insights, as an Austen fan herself, into the motivations of the characters, such as who really could have informed Darcy’s aunt about the possibility of a marriage between Darcy and Elizabeth and why.

Then she gets to the murder and the intrigue, which obviously the book is set around, and it fits that Wickham and Lydia would be at the heart of the all the problems, since Lydia and Wickham continued on living the wild and unrestrained life which they showed no interest in altering in Pride and Prejudice.

I am a huge Austen fan and have read a large number of the books based on the cannon. This is one of the few which was written with Austen’s characters which I think did a great job with keeping the feel of the original writing, while adding a new author’s twist on an old classic. The mystery itself is engaging and fast paced, using the legal system during the period to explore and solve it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Austen or wants a good mystery.

ISBN: 9780758238504
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Published: Kensington Publishing Corporation - September 3rd, 2013

Prozac is at it again! The obstinate feline slipped out of the apartment, across the street into the yard of the dreaded neighborhood witch, Cryptessa. Then Prozac accidentally kills Cryptessa’s beloved (and moth eaten elderly) bird. Jaine, chasing her pernicious feline, plows right into trouble.

However on a bright note (besides the fact it is almost Halloween and Jaine can buy bags full of candy and claim they are for trick-or-treaters) she has a new neighbor whom she is sure is her soul mate. Unfortunately Lance (her good friend and also a neighbor) thinks the same thing. Lance who is willing to stoop to new and all time low in order to win a date and a heart…including sabotaging Jaine’s Halloween costume.

Then, due to a series of unfortunate events (and wardrobe malfunctions), the costume (sans Jaine) is used to disguise murderer during the act, landing Jane in all kinds of hot water. However Jaine is not overly panicked, she has solved her fair share of murders!

This was a seriously funny read. I love that Jaine is addicted to junk food, has a closet where moths go to die (she loves her elastic waist pants and vintage t-shirts) and a cat named Prozac. She is quirkily stubborn and has an astonishing ability to land in odd situations. These are light reads that have a wry sense of humor which I think has a broad appeal to female readers. Jaine is a character who knows who she is and embraces it (except maybe her hips). I especially enjoy the e-mails back and forth from her parents, whose accounts of the same event are vastly and hilariously different. And who are also just a bit quirky themselves!

ISBN: 9780758274953
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kensington Publishing Corporation - October 2nd, 2012

Geri Sullivan just signed her divorce papers, suffered through a series of awful dates and her career….well, with the economic downturn, has suffered as well. So a little unconditional love was needed in her life. Enter Pepe, a small white ball of fur with swagger, and of course he is a Chihuahua.

What Gerri doesn’t realize, until she gets home, is that Pepe is a very special dog: in his many travels Pepe has become adept with languages (among other things) and knows how to speak English. However Gerri is the only one who has ever understood what he was saying….and his help becomes invaluable when Gerri is hired by a private investigator, Jimmy G, to interview a wife about her missing husband.

The only catch? When Gerri arrives at the interview she finds the husband dead, the police who believe she’s their culprit and a mystery man who is trying to help place a noose around her neck!
You could tell these two authors, Curt Colbert and Waverly Fitzgerald, had a good time writing this book. The story has energy to spare! With multiple cases (which sometimes don’t go exactly right), Gerri looking like she’s talking to herself on occasion and Pepe’s descriptions of his former antics---this book is a whole bunch of fun! Plus how could you not like a dog who has a weakness for bacon, saving damsels in distress and has a great fashion sense?

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys animal mysteries, where the dogs speak and help their humans solve mysteries, and with whimsy to spare.

ISBN: 9780425246689
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Published: Berkley Books - March 6th, 2012

This is the second book in the Library Lover's Mystery series. Lindsey, the director of the Briar Creek library, has her hands full with her job, craft circle, puppy… and a murder. Volunteer of the year Carrie Rushton’s husband has been mudered right after her sucessful presidential election to the Friends of the Library. When a massive snow storm hits, the police are too busy digging out the town to look beyond his wife to find the real murderer. Lindsey and the other craft circle members don't buy it. At the same time, Lindsey first saves a cute black puppy from freezing in the book drop, then from Ms. Cole (aka The Lemon). Lindsey is determined to find the little guy a good hom - nope he can't possibly stay with her, nope, nope, she can't possibly keep him......

While the first book was fair, this second book is much better. The characters are fleshed out, the addition of the puppy is fun, (and for those of you not enamored with animal mysteries, he is just a cute pet not a clue finder), and the mystery really works. Lindsey is more of an armchair detective type, which is fun to read. She’s not going out to investigate but people keep bringing her clues. I also enjoyed the humor (McKinlay’sone-liners are funny) and situations were fantastic. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading the cozy library series.

ISBN: 9780425256183
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ace Books - January 29th, 2013

It takes a daring author to throw a huge monkey wrench into a proven series, but we're here to tell you that Patricia Briggs has done it.

Patricia Briggs is best known for her urban fantasy "Mercy Thompson" series set in the Tri-Cities here in Washington State, but she has a secondary, parallel series, the "Alpha and Omega" series, that complements and expands on Mercy’s world. Briggs' latest novel, Fair Game, takes this New York Times bestselling author's world firmly in hand and then turns it on its head.

As an Omega werewolf, Anna Cornick is sent by her father-in-law, the Marrock (Alpha of ALL werewolves in North America) to Boston to help the FBI find a serial killer, one who's been killing not only werewolves but the fae. Charles goes along, of course, but he is haunted by his past actions, and is holding Anna at arm's length, which is disturbing and detrimental to both of them. But what happens in Boston changes everything, not just for Charles and Anna.

Patricia Briggs has made the New York Times bestseller list for good reason. She can really write. Her "Mercy Thompson" series grabbed both of us with Moon Called (this is the 1st in the series, start here, and read the Mercy books before you start on the “Alpha and Omegas”) and we've torn through her work like maniacs, all six of the "Mercy" series and the three "Alpha and Omega", plus the novella that began it all. Fran's even read all of her non-urban fantasy writing. Ms. Briggs has a flair that keeps you reading. "Leslie learned two valuable things about the fae that day. There were powerful and charming -- and they ate children and puppies." She doesn't always play nice, which is part of why we like her writing so much.

But in Fair Game, Patricia Briggs has taken a huge step and what she has set in motion will rip through the world she's set up. If you've only read the Mercy Thompson series, you must pick up the Alpha and Omega series. If you haven't read Patricia Briggs at all? Oh man, are you missing out and in for a treat! We can't say enough good things about her and her writing, and we're seriously excited that we are, in fact, the second stop on her signing tour. Reserve not only Fair Game but any of hers you might have missed, and then plan on being here March 7th so you can see Amber and Fran squee like the fans they are!

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ISBN: 9780545474245
Availability: Special Order
Published: Chicken House - March 2013

What do a strong man/giant, a woman with trick rats, an assassin, a monkey boy and a wolf girl all have in common? They are part of a Victorian era freak show. Before the times of political correctness, people looking for cheap entertainment would spend a penny or two and visit these side shows to stare at two headed lambs and people with unfortunate appearances.

Till is a mudlark a little kid who, due to her dire circumstances, looks for tossed away junk in the Thames. Items she and her family can sell to traders in order to keep body and soul together. One night needing a bit of relief and entertainment she sneaks into show, Plumpscuttle’s Peculiars, where she meets Sheba.

Sheba is a wolf girl, with very few good memories, no idea where she came from or who her parents are. Sheba has always been a side show freak, which doesn’t bother her very much, thing could be a whole lot worse. When Till meets Sheba they find the beginning of a friendship between them.

A day or two later there is a knock on the gate of the Peculiars’ house; it is Till’s parents. Till has disappeared without a trace while she was picking in the mud and they are beside themselves with worry. The police won’t help them, they are to poor and low class for the authorities to take notice of their problem. So they come to Plumscuttle’s Peculiars and ask them for help finding Till, and the other missing children.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a great historical middle book, that never tries to cram extraneous knowledge into the book. The author did a great job in making the Victorian era slums come alive with the vocabulary, people and smells. While the author is dealing with characters who are part of a side show, he does a wonderful job in making them human and accessible. Weaving messages, camouflaging lessons and showing ideas without beating the reader over the head about accepting people for who they are and not judging them by their cover, or appearance.

The mystery is fast-paced and engaging, never a dull moment. You root for Sheba and the Peculiars on in trying to find Till and the other missing children before it is to late. I would recommend it for girls (or open minded boys, since Monkeyboy is a fantastic character for them, full of well gross boy humor) 9-12. The other great thing the author does, is the last chpter goes over the history he uses in the book, side shows and their employees, Victoria era London, The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851 the poor and much more!

I highly recommend this book!

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ISBN: 9780425251751
Availability: Special Order
Published: Berkley Books - December 31st, 2012

Commencement Speaker, trash, and charter schools what do they all have in common? Mayor Graves, of Henley, goes from being the Commencement speaker at Henley College to a murder victim all in one day. A very busy guy.

Sophie Knowles, a math professor at the college, has had very little contact with the Mayor, which makes it strange that he would call her out of the blue and ask for her help on a problem he is having. What the problem is Sophie hasn’t a clue; her answer phone cuts him off before he can fully explain. In a strange turn of events, it is Sophie and her boyfriend, Bruce, who administer first aid when they discover the Honorable Mayor with a Henley letter opener stuck in his back.

After his unfortunate demise, Sophie feels obligated to help discover what the Mayor needed and who killed him.

Okay, this is billed as a math mystery; now don’t let this put you off this series. You are not asked to do algebra and show your homework. Nor are you asked to read pages of formulas, graphs and calculations, I promise. What you read about is a math professor at a major university who enjoys working on/making up puzzles /solving puzzles, some of which have more real applications, such as solving a murder.

This analytical professor is balanced out by her best friend who is zany and artistic, who owns a bead shop and is constantly pushing Sophie to branch out from her precise science. Then there is her boyfriend, Bruce, who is an emergency helicopter pilot and who can handle almost any situation in stride. And then there’s her collogue Fran, a grandmother and math professor herself who keeps Sophie grounded when she strays a bit out of orbit.

This installment in the series was an enjoyable read. If you are looking for a new series to start I would highly recommend this one, the first book is The Square Root of Murder. Don’t let your inner fear of math put you off this series.

[Ada Madison is a pen name for Camille Minichino, who wrote a popular series of mysteries based around chemistry. – the eds.]

ISBN: 9780451233783
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Published: Signet Book - June 7th, 2011

Lily gets called to a crime scene to give her take on the oddness which the police find…. Ladders put in places where people have to walk under, broken mirrors, a black cat and the entire apartment is filled with the number 13 -- the place is filled with bad luck symbols, which unnerve everyone. It didn’t serve the owner well, since he was found stabbed on his dinner table. Even more shocking, Lily knows the the prime suspect… and when a close friend is hexed Lily resolves to find out who the killer is, before they strike again.

This is a really great, cozy, supernatural book! The fact Lily’s familiar is a pig (not a cat) still makes me giggle. It is fast paced and the fact it is set in a vintage clothing store in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco adds even more layers to this book. It has some very unique characters, multi-book plots and humor I am currently burning my way through the beginning of the series so I can get the full flavor of this series. I would recommend this book to a friend, as well as those looking for a new series!

ISBN: 9780425255353
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley Books - December 4th, 2012

Christmas time has come to the Village Blend, and Clare Cosi is up to her elbows in sweet treats. The Blend is providing lattes and other caffeine ladened treats during the New York Cookie Swap, where top chefs, bakers and candy makers provided very best sugary treats, for charity. The shine of the season is dulled when Clare discovers the body of her part-time baker M, on a carousel just outside of the event. Having solved her fair share of mysteries, Clare isn‘t afraid to step and help out the police. Clare has a vested interest in seeing justice done, not just because M was her employee, but because the detective investigating the murder, well, “Mr. DNA” Clare feels is not overly competent. Before this mystery is solved Clare will be faced with a vintage rock star, a couple of reality housewives, a slimy Cajun chef, a stalker, and an irritated wife, just to start with! This was a great Christmas read! The story NEVER became so sweet it gave you got a tooth ache just by reading it, as some Christmas books can. Cleo Coyle did a great job of working the season in without it overshadowing the mystery itself. The same great job she does with working in coffee and food into the books, without it becoming cloying and distracting to read. There are a number of mysteries to solve and culprits to catch, this book never dragged! It was great catching up with the inhabitants of The Blend (the coffee house) and see how their lives and relationships have progressed. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great holiday read. Don’t let the pun filled name fool you, this cozy series has teeth!

ISBN: 9781402798061
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Published: Sterling Children's Books - April 3rd, 2012

Stuart Horten's parents are moving to Beeton, a place where his father‘s family has deep roots. What’s worse? They are moving at the beginning of the summer, so Stuart won’t have a chance to make any friends before the end of the school year. Meaning, this summer is going to drag by……. However, Stuart is used to taking one on the nose, since his initials, S. Horten create a rather easy target in the school yard. And the fact he is very short for his age doesn’t help at all!

Well, the summer vacation starts off rather dully, and it becomes necessary to dodge the very persistent (a nice word for annoying) triplets (April, May and June) who live next door, but then things become interesting. One day, Stuart answers a mysterious call in a non-function phone booth, it places him on the path of discovering if he is the right sort of boy to inherit his great-uncle’s magical workshop….well things are not boring now!

I Loved This Book!

I felt I could only read it a few pages at a time because I didn’t want to finish it! Which is unusual - normally when I love a book I will devour it whole! I enjoyed following the clues laid out in front of Stuart and the unexpected places he had to go to find them. I loved his quirky father, who seems to be constitutionally incapable of using a word under three syllables. I loved the confusion when Stuart tries to figure out the triplets.

What I really enjoyed is, while the book is based around magic, 98% of it has no hocus pocus in it at all but an entertaining mystery. This is a great book for a boy (or open minded girl) 8 - 12.

(You should buy this book even if you don’t have a kid to give it to, when you want something light to read!)

ISBN: 9781402798702
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sterling Children's Books - September 4th, 2012

Stuart Horten (who is 10 but looks younger) has discovered that keeping the illusions he found in his Great-Uncle Tony’s workshop is as hard as finding them! Because they were found on public land, they belong to the village council. Even though Stuart knows the illusions were meant for him, he can’t prove it. Then a mysterious call from Canada and a lawyer's visit reveal the fact his great uncle has hidden a Will in one of the illusions; and who ever finds the document will keep the illusions!

This is a great follow up to the first book, Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms. I absolutely loved it! It has even more great puzzles, capers and mysteries than the first book! April and her sisters play an ever more important role and drive Stuart just as crazy! I could not put this book down. I would suggest reading them back to back, not even coming up for air or a snack. I cannot sing the praises of these two books enough. This is a great book for a boy (or open minded girl) 8 - 12.

ISBN: 9780758220462
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kensington Publishing Corporation - April 2010

If you are like me and have finally succumbed to the creeping crud which has been making the rounds this winter, and you need a book to divert your attention from daytime TV and your box of kleenex I have the one for you! Killer Cruise by Laura Levine. It is a series about Jaine Austen, no relation to the author, who manages to score a teaching gig on a cruise liner, providing her with a Mexican vacation and access to a twenty-four hour buffet! Jaine's elation is short lived when she discovers her cat, Prozac, has wormed his way into her vacation. This however is the least of her problems, when a slick dancer turns up dead and her friend is accused of the murder.

This book was a hoot! While it will never win an Edgar, it is a fast paced and funny read. The e-mails back and forth to her parents and best friend are hysterical. It is a solid mystery which never takes itself too seriously. I liked it for that reason; it was easy to read in my medicated and fuzzy state of mind. Thus I pass this slapstick gem on to anyone who needs a fun book to read while waiting for the antibiotics took kick in!

ISBN: 9781451684643
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pocket Books - November 27th, 2012

Karen Nash is going to London, a trip she has dreamed of taking for years. Four hours before the trip her boyfriend Dave dumps her!

Determined to fulfill her dream, Karen forges ahead on her dream vacation anyway. When she discovers Dave decided to take a young perky blond to London instead of her….revenge is forefront on Karen’s mind. Then she meets Guy in a pub and spills her story, she feels a bit better. Until she discovers Guy has some seedy connections, like Thomas Becket “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest...”, Karen accidentally sets him on Dave.

To top it all off, when Karen discovers one of her fellow B & B guests dead in the front room, under what she thinks are suspicious circumstances, there is nothing dull about her vacation!

I seriously enjoyed reading this book. There is a very real love of books in its pages. The quandary of how many book are necessary to take with you on vacation, since you never want to be caught without one on hand. Or the joy of spending the entire day perusing thru bookshops looking for just the right one. Or the fun of exchanging titles with a friend to figure out exactly what they like. Just for starters.

Plus there are a number of mysteries, sinister characters and sedate adventures to keep things moving at a quick clip. I would recommend this to anyone who likes biblio mysteries or cozies in general. I would put this mystery just a hair below Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity’s Death in my favorites. And for anyone who knows how much I love that series, that is saying a whole lot!

ISBN: 9780544104716
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harcourt Brace and Company - July 2nd, 2013

It is no secret that I am a fan of Jasper Fforde’s writing; you should see the happy dance I do when an advanced reader copy of a new book is unwrapped in the store!

However many of his first in series books have a single fatal flaw… the first third of the books are slow, seriously slow---but, after you get thru this first third, they zip by and you can’t wait for the next book to come out! (The rest of the books after the first in series do not suffer from this flaw.) It’s proven to be a significant hurdle for less patient readers (I do what I can to reassure them to stick with it).

The Last Dragonslayer does NOT possess this flaw. The book reads like a song; from beginning to end it is graceful and flowing.

Jennifer Strange lives in a world where metal, machines and magic live side by side. She runs the Kazam, an employment agency for wizards, since her boss disappeared a few months back…. add to this the fact that magic has been slowly fading from the world, making her magicians harder and harder to hire out, Jennifer has enough problems on her plate.

Then the visions start.

Around the world wizards with the ability to foresee the future are inundated with a single vision, the death of the last dragon is at hand. With this vision Jennifer’s world tilts, all the signs point to Big Magic and Jennifer is in the thick of it!

While this book is billed as a Young Adult, it is suitable for any age. It would read a bit on the cozy side for an adult, and there isn’t any teen age angst in sight!

This book is all about choice. Choosing to do the right, best or necessary thing, because Jennifer understands the value of this freedom. As a foundling, she works as an indentured servant at Kazam, and will work there until her eighteenth birthday (unless she chooses to stay). So when presented with a choice it is important to her to actively make a decision, instead of just doing her duty or letting it flit away. This theme is repeated through out the book, in great ways, never with a heavy hand.

I seriously cannot say enough great things about this book! If you are a fan of any of Jasper’s series, or need one to cut your teeth on, I would recommend this book for you!

ISBN: 9780452297821
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Plume Books - April 24th, 2012

This is the sequel to one of my favorite mysteries of 2011, Missing Persons (do not be put off by the dead bird on the cover, it isn’t a bloody novel at all. I promise.).

Kate Conway is finding her rhythm again, coming slowly to grips with her ex-husband’s death. She gets a new project producing a documentary about two men who are serving life sentences for murders they have committed. When a new gig producing a reality show about the ins and outs of opening a new restaurant lands unexpectedly in her lap (paying several times her normal rate), Kate agrees to do it. When she arrives at the shoot the other shoe drops: Vera (her ex-husband’s mistress, the one who cost Kate her marriage, and the woman who is slowly worming into Kate’s life and becoming a friend – and, yes, Kate finds this turn of events very, very weird) requested Kate personally for the show.

Things take a turn for the worse when one of the investors is murdered and Vera is the prime (and, as far as the police are concerned, only) suspect. Kate reluctantly begins to investigate the murder, using every tool at her disposal to help prove Vera’s innocence, including asking convicted murderers for help.

I loved the first book and the second book did not disappoint me. It is filled with messy emotions, relationships and situations just like real life. While throughout the book I wanted to smack Vera, for her inability to see the worst in anyone (or reality it seemed in some cases), you get to know her a bit better in this mystery. I also enjoy reading the cynicism of reality TV from the perspective of the producer and how she deals with it. I recommend that you should read the first book before reading this one. You’ll end up with a better understanding of how Kate and Vera became reluctant friends. Overall I loved the second book as much as the first!

ISBN: 9780142427545
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Published: Speak - December 10th, 2013

It has been several months since Rory’s last adventure, and we find Rory in Bristol (England) on the mend from her horrific injuries inflicted by the Ripper copycat. One of her required (by her parents) recuperation appointments is with a therapist, which Rory isn’t overjoyed about, especially because she can’t actually talk about what happened to her, since the official version of that night is quite different than the true events. What really occurred is buried under so much red tape and an Official Secrets Act, Rory isn’t allowed talk about it. The silence is suffocating…. Things start to look up when out of the blue her therapist suggests Rory should return to London, Wexford and her old life. Rory leaps at the chance. She soon discovers that the Shades are the ones actually behind her return and have a keen interest in her future. They no longer have the means to dispel/destroy destructive or anguished ghosts since all their terminuses were destroyed or lost in the battle to stop the Ripper copycat. Then it is discovered that Rory is now a human terminus - meaning she is able to eliminate ghosts by simply touching them. Returning to Wexford brings home the point she has been avoiding her future is no longer a clear path lying in front of her. School no longer holds the importance it once did; passing or failing mean little. It isn’t until she meets a new therapist named Jane who helps Rory break through her silence and apathy and realize exactly where she need to be. The Madness Underneath is the follow up to last years Edgar nominated book, The Name Of The Star. While this is a transition book it has a decent mystery which carries the book. I seriously cannot wait to see where this series goes after the cliffhanger of an ending. It does however focus mainly on Rory and the new landscape of her life, rather than on the ghosts haunting London, which was a bit of a disappointment. I would highly recommend The Name Of The Star to anyone looking for a creepy, suspenseful and atmospheric read. Once you become invested in Rory and her life, I would recommend The Madness Underneath - the ending and the events leading up to it are absolutely riveting.

ISBN: 9781596912892
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Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - September 4th, 2012

After Charlotte got divorced, she was going through some old things and found a list of things she wanted to do before she was 30; have a baby (double check), walk in heels without wobbling (check), climb Kilimanjaro (ummm…) and read Jane Austen. While trekking Kilimanjaro seemed a bit out of reach, reading Austen was not.

And in no time at all Charlotte was a serious fan of the author. Deciding she needed a break from her divorce and blind dates, Charlotte decided to go on vacation to a unique immersive place called “Austenland”, where cell phones, laptops and television are strictly prohibited and where corsets and bonnets are standard everyday wear. However things take a chilly turn when, during a game of Bloody Murder, Charlotte thinks she finds a dead body…. However when she goes to show the rest of the party, it has disappeared and she’s not sure what she saw, and Austenland takes a sinister turn where nothing is exactly as it appears to be.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The author does a good job in making you wonder what Charlotte really saw during the game of Bloody Murder. The author does a good job in flipping between Austenland and Charlotte’s real life, inserting wry humor and keeping the book from becoming an overwhelmingly (and odd) period piece. It is a great read, and no real knowledge of Jane Austen’s works is required! I would recommend this to any female (since well I don’t see this as having a strong male audience, sorry guys) who wants something a bit different to read.

ISBN: 9780452297067
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Published: Plume Books - May 31st, 2011

Kate Conway’s soon-to-be ex-husband is dead and the police think she murdered him. Then add the fact his current girlfriend/fiancée wants to become friends and bond over their mutual loss…. Kate needs to find a distraction, any distraction will do. So when an offer comes her way to produce/film/write a new reality tv series, she jumps at the chance. It is called Missing Persons And her first show is about Theresa Moretti who has disappeared one year earlier. However when disturbing (read creepy) things start to occur in Kate’s own life, she thinks perhaps her husband’s death may somehow be connected….

I could not put this book down. The messiness of the relationships between the characters is great, the author does a truly fantastic job in showing how life is rarely black and white. It is on the edge of being cozy, more like a traditional English cozy (set in the U.S.), where things are complicated and dark but not bloody. I absolutely cannot wait until the next book in this series comes out, because I loved this one.

ISBN: 9780425262733
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Published: Berkley Prime Crime - July 2nd, 2013

Tricia is still struggling to find a suitable replacement for her assistant manager, Ginny. The number of applicants she & Mr. Everett have interviewed has left her disheartened. However on a bright note Angelica has invited her to be a “plus one” on the trial run of the new B&B opening up in town. Things go south when Tricia discovers the B&B’s manager’s, Pippa, body in the garden. Then things continue going further down the tubes when Pippa’s husband turns out to be Tricia’s first love who, evidently, faked his own death all those years ago. And if that isn’t bad enough Chief Baker, Tricia’s paramour, needs them to take a break since Tricia is a suspect! Summoning her inner detective, having read her fair share of mysteries, Tricia sets out to find a killer.

This is a fun series, set in a mystery bookshop and a book friendly town. While the last book in this series, Sentenced To Death, saw a huge shift in both Tricia’s bookstore and life-- this book delivers the anticipated changes. Such as; how the foundation Mr. Everett set up to distribute his lottery winning is going. Who Tricia ultimately finds to replace Ginny in her store. And how Angelica’s relationship with Bob is fairing, after his disastrous affair. And all this happens while also furthering the mystery of who exactly is the mysterious developer in town is and deepening the mystery of what her real intent is. I look forward to the next book, where I hope to see Ginny’s wedding and discover who/what our mysterious developer is! *Plus this book also gives accurate insight on the struggles of finding suitable people to staff the niche store like Tricia’s (and ours)!

ISBN: 9780142422052
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Speak - October 2nd, 2012

Rory Deveaux has an exciting year ahead of her: her parents accepted a temporary position teaching law at the University of Bristol in England! Rory will be attending Wexford, a boarding school, in the heart of London. It will be a bit of a culture shock for this Louisiana native, however there isn’t much which will dampen her enthusiasm for this new, if temporary life.

“In our lifetime those who kill the news world hands them stardom and these are the ways on which I was raised.” (pg. 139)

Then August 31st comes around and a body is found, one which parallel’s the first Ripper strike in 1888. Instantly, London (and the media) is transfixed by the news of a new Ripper copycat…..there isn’t any physical evidence, video or leads. Until one lone witness steps forward, Rory.

“Fear can’t hurt you….It’s a snake with no venom.” (pg. 260)

The Name of the Star was nominated for an Edgar award this year, and I can see why. This is a fantastic read. I loved every second of it!

This Ripper novel never allows itself to get mired down in all the theories, facts and innuendo surrounding the historical case. The author has done a great job in adding paranormal elements into this story and expanding it beyond just a standard copy cat novel (I am trying to not give away all the wonderful twists and turns Maureen takes us on, while trying to tell you Why I Loved This Mystery!).

The characters are smart and witty, without teen angst weighing it down. The mystery and its conclusion are fantastic - you think you know exactly where it is going, then it makes a left hand turn and you are left wondering and burning the midnight oil in order to finish the book!

I would recommend this to girls 14+ (or open minded boys since there are a number of great male characters) as it is told exclusively from Rory’s point of view. 14 AR points.

ISBN: 9780425246894
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Published: Berkley Books - March 6th, 2012

It’s no secret we’re fans of J. D. Robb’s “in Death” series with Eve Dallas, so we are all excited when a new book comes out, and we all devoured New York to Dallas.

This one is a notable departure for Robb, in that not only does it not take place in New York so we don’t have as much interaction with some of our favorite sidekicks, but delves deeply into Eve Dallas’ past, answering some questions that have been hanging around for 32 novels and several novellas.

New York to Dallas is going to be a must-read for established fans. For those of you who haven’t read J. D. Robb, we all strongly recommend that you begin with Naked in Death (Penguin, $7.99). These are tightly plotted, fast-paced and well written novels that are addicting!

ISBN: 9780425251690
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Published: Berkley Books - November 6th, 2012

Things have calmed down in Pettistone’s Fine Books, finally. Now Darla, who is settling nicely into her new life as a small business owner in NY, has to find a new employee. Normally this would not be a problem except Hamlet, the shop and her late Aunt’s cantankerous feline, has decided to lend a paw to the proceedings, mainly by chasing off all of Darla’s potential new hires, until he meets Robert - a Goth book loving recent high school graduate. Darla’s not as sure as Hamlet, but reluctantly hires him. However the peace restored to her shop is short lived, when Darla and a local renovation expert stumble onto the murdered body of his partner. Darla’s shock deepens when she notices paw prints next to the body which look suspiciously like Hamlet‘s….. I had an AHA! Moment when I finally put my finger on the style the author is using in this book. Ali Brandon’s uses of Hamlet (Darla’s cat) in a way reminiscent of Lillian Jackson Braun‘s Coco. Where the cat uses muddled and obscure clues to communicate (well, you’re not sure if he really is….) with the people surrounding him. No talking cats here, and his human does all the leg work for the readers. This is an enjoyable follow up to Double Booked For Death. I really am partial to the Ali’s new character, Robert. His interaction with the staff and Hamlet are great fun, and I hope he is here to stay! The mystery itself was fun and light, where you had the opportunity, following both Hamlet’s and the police’s clues to solve the mystery. Once or twice it went a hair over the top with the faith Darla put in Hamlet’s detective abilities. However if you like the cozy cat/book mysteries this is easy to overlook. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an easy cozy read.

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ISBN: 9780758238481
Availability: Special Order
Published: Kensington Publishing Corporation - August 7th, 2012

Having cleared her best friend’s name in Death of a Trophy Wife, to show his gratitude, Lance treats Jaine to an all expenses paid spa vacation….. However as Jaine’s life often goes, this isn’t as great of a deal as it seems….. Since Lance fails to tell her it is a health spa where junk food is not allowed (unless you buy it in the black market, from the extortionist prices), exercise is mandatory (unless you are a celebrity) and even Prozac is put on a diet and exercise regime (you can guess how well that goes with a cat….). The only person destined to be murdered is Lance for tricking Jaine into diet hell, well until the b-list vixen is found murdered…

As always Laura doesn’t disappoint! She had me laughing out loud from the very first page (which had the other bus riders looking at me like I was crazy…)! The e-mails back and for between Jaine and Lance, and Jaine and her parents are hysterical. While the book will never win an Edgar, I think it is great! Never taking itself too seriously and is just a fun read. I would recommend this book and series to anyone who needs a good laugh!

ISBN: 9780425246672
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley Books - March 6th, 2012

This is the second in the Professor Knowles Mystery Series. Charlotte Crocker is leading a triple life - however this isn't discovered until after she is murdered. Her friend, Professor Sophie Knowles, feels betrayed and hurt by what she finds out about her so called friend.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The author did a great job in putting multiple plot lines in the story and, with neat twists, the book never dragged. The hook of this book is math, which is never a distraction but adds to the story which is nice. I would recommend it to any cozy reader. [note from the eds: Ada Madison is a pen name of Camille Minichino, who earlier wrote a series based around chemistry, so she known science, math and academia!]

ISBN: 9780307887443
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - June 5th, 2012

Normally I stack up books into a pile and, when they are threatening to do bodily harm when they fall over, then I launch into review mode and fire them off in batches. However I am making an exception to this rule with a book I just read, it is too good a read to wait for my slow moving process.

Have you ever heard of an “easter egg”? Not the kind with bunnies and candy, but in a video game or a DVD where you have to perform a complex series of tasks in order to unlock a secret: bonus material, extras or a really cool item.

Well hidden in the internet (picture what the internet will be like in 100 yrs), James Halliday has hidden one easter egg. This isn't any ordinary easter egg; it holds the keys to the kingdom, to wealth, an empire and security. Basically by finding the egg, you would make Bill Gates look like he is part of the middle class. But that is the big catch, you have to find it:

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma and somewhere inside there is a key, if you’re clever enough to figure it out.

Ready Player One is a tale with one part Willy Wonka, Westing Game and MMOG with 80's obsession sprinkled in for flavor. This book is more than just a sum of its influences, and they are never a distraction. It is a story of David vs. Goliath in a modern, massive, multi-player on-line game where the fate of reality stands in the balance. I couldn't put it down, including when I was at work, (grumble). You do have to have a very slight exposure to a MMOG (massive multi-player online game) or have a kid on tap to ask if you get confused. It does a great job of building tension throughout the book and creating a grim, gritty reality of what our world may look like if things continue down the path they are now on.

I would suggest this book to anyone with an urban fantasy bent, who games and/or has a love of computers. Did I mention D&D plays a pretty big role? I loved this book!

ISBN: 9780425241868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley Books - June 7th, 2011

Can someone be murdered by having a small airplane crash into them? This is the question Tricia is asking herself when a friend is killed in this fashion while giving a speech during the Founders Day celebration. While everyone thinks Tricia is barking up the wrong tree, she can’t shake the feeling there is more to this “accident” than meets the eye.

I was not disappointed with this latest installment in the Book Town series! I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters and finding out what they were up to. This story added layers to their lives and there is a lot of change in store for Tricia--- so I can hardly wait for the next book to come out!

ISBN: 9780451415233
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Signet Book - May 28th, 2013

Olivia MacKenzie is having a bad day. When interviewing for a job, whose CEO is a pig you probably shouldn’t punched him, if you want the job (which after several leering looks Olivia didn’t even want to finish eating lunch with him). The cherry on the whole debacle, is when Olivia discovers his business is being investigated by the FBI. How you ask? Well she might have accidentally screwed up a sting operation……However that last part isn’t all bad, well, after you get over a very angry agent who tries unsuccessfully to intimidate her (IRS agents don’t get spooked by FBI). The upside, Olivia meets Agent Grayson Kincaid.

Olivia feels an instant connection. She tries to set it aside for several reasons. One of which is being a cancer survivor, you never know if you will become sick again. And Olivia NEVER wants to put anyone she loves through the kind of ordeal, one she watched her friend’s families go through.

Second and most important Olivia needs to stay focused, she trying to prove a huge investment fund is really a ponzi scheme in disguise. One with hundreds of investors and the potential of sucking in hundreds more. Threats, slander or violence will not deter Olivia from exposing the truth other refuse to see. The truth? Her father a rich, charming and charismatic man is really a thief in disguise. This was a fun read.

This book is filled with action packed scenes and never drags- full of clever one liners and great sub-plots. I was never bored! I enjoyed getting to know Olivia and her friends and seeing what sorts of trouble they would find. While it is a romantic mystery, and your pretty certain everything will have a happy ending, it is worth the read to make sure! This would be a great book to read if you need to recover from reading a heavier/ depressing/ sad book.

ISBN: 9780142426548
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - June 13th, 2013

This summer, sixteen-year-old Violet is staying wither her dad, who is an up-and-coming Seattle Area artist. Violet is over the moon when her father’s biggest client, the Yamadas, commission him to paint a mural in their corporate headquarters in Tokyo. Being a huge fan of all things Japanese, including manga (she is in the process of inking her own book; she’s an artist herself) this is a dream come true. Plus she can hang out with her friend, who is also in Tokyo all summer! However the trip takes a darker turn when the Yamadas’ house is broken into and three Van Gogh sketches are stolen.

Emulating her favorite manga detectives, Violet begins to investigate the theft, leading her thru the streets of Seattle, Tokyo and Kyoto; meeting artists, businessmen and Yakuza members. This is a trip she will never forget!

This is a fantastic book. Leading the reader through an action packed series of clues, events and blind alleys, Violet is a strong character, relying on herself to find solutions to the problems facing her, as well as showing passion for her art and the evolution of her own story line. Showing how every day events can influence and inspire someone when writing a story. Even when she is down, she is never a shrinking violet. I also enjoyed reading the street scenes in Japan, the interactions between the characters (which are not always what they seem to be) and viewing Seattle thru someone else’s eyes. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, fast and action-packed read this summer. This is a great book. (YA 12 - 16).

ISBN: 9781250004109
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - August 7th, 2012

Max Tudor, an Anglican priest in the small hamlet of Nether Monkslip, thought he escaped the violence of his former world. His former job as an MI5 agent left him with many scars he hoped to heal in his new life and new town. However when Wanda, the town “organizer” (not in a good way) is found murdered during the annual Harvest Festival, he cannot help but slip back into investigative mode and help solve her murder.

This Agatha award winning author has done an excellent job with this novel! It is written in the style of the traditional English cozies, which I adore. I was apprehensive of reading about a priest; worrying that the religion would be heavy handed… I was pleasantly surprised, nowhere in this novel was I ever uncomfortable or distracted by his profession. This is a great first novel in the series, I cannot wait to read the rest!