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Author: Louis Sachar
Genre: Children's Books
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 7 more book reviews

Excellent book. Very engaging for my 11 year old.

Funny Farm (Photo Baby Board Books)
reviewed on + 4 more book reviews

My 16 month old grandson loves this book. There is an animal "baby" on each page and the last page is all of the babies together in a group. My grandson looks the longest and very intently on this page. Very cute book. So glad I found it.

A Custom Fit Crime (Magical Dressmaking, Bk 4)
reviewed on + 370 more book reviews

When I'd first returned home to Bliss, Texas, I thought my hometown would be just as peaceful as it was when I was a little girl.

This is the fourth book in the Magical Dressmaking Mystery series. Harlow is busy working on her mother's wedding dress and finalizing her collection for an upcoming magazine spread when her old roommate Orphie shows up unexpectedly. Orphie is in Bliss to confess a transgression regarding their former employer and gets caught up in the whirlwind of the designers involved in the article. A particularly obnoxious designer dies in Harlow's shop and everyone becomes a suspect.

This is one of my favorite series. I love the continued storyline of the "charms" passed down to the Cassidy women from Butch Cassidy. Harlow's great-grandmother haunts the house Harlow inherited from her. Her grandmother has a way with animals especially goats. Her mother has a serious green thumb. Harlow can picture an outfit that is perfect for someone. And now Gracie, Harlow's boyfriend's daughter and distant cousin, can see events when she touches vintage clothing.

I enjoy the interaction between the Cassidy women. You just know that Harlow will do everything in her power to make sure her mom marries Sheriff Hoss McClaine even though the wedding is called off after Hoss investigates Harlow. The love at first sight between Orphie and Gavin is unexpected and a nice change for his character. I am so happy that Harlow and her sweetie, Will Flores are moving forward with their relationship. Perhaps more wedding bells are ringing?

The story revolving around stealing designs from other designers is well done. You really do suspect everyone at some point. A very good addition to the series. I look forward to reading the next book.

The Executioners
reviewed on + 19 more book reviews

The book is a valuable window into the oft neglected, male post-WWII upper-middle class mindset. (Right about now you're probably saying to yourself, 'Weren't all 1950s novels about the white, suburban experience?' and when you think more deeply on it, books from that time either completely got it wrong by not addressing what was really important and true, or they were inevitably a rejection of the status quo.) This is a man who believes in the American way, in the rule of law, but he inserted a self-imposed flaw into his otherwise picturesque life when he fudged the facts for the greater good, and now he has to face the consequences of his decision.

The main character of this book just wants things to go back to the way they were: happy kids, a nice house, a small boat, and a dog in the yard. Unfortunately, hardened, psychopathic criminal Max Cady has come to town.
Cady is both the devil and the star of this book. Every time he speaks, Cady's telling the main character that he himself brought all of this hillbilly wrath down on his genteel existence knowingly, voluntarily, and intentionally. The lawyer, for all of his clear-eyed reasonableness, knows in his heart that the uneducated convict is correct.
Then the gut-wrenching questions must begin. How far would you go to protect your family? Would you use your influence to manipulate the legal system? Would you violate his privacy? Would you pay to have the offender beaten? Would you pay to have him killed? And what if none of those worked? And even if your family survives, will they come away unscathed?
A good, but not great, novel. The main drag is the pseudo lighthearted teenspeak that is so artificial no teenager ever uttered such nonsense in all of history.

Return of the Dragon Riders: Book Two of the Dragon Stone Saga
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Book 2 picks up right where Book 1 left off. Elias is pulled up into a new world. one where great things are expected of him because of this prophesy. Pf course, this makes him a major target for the evil Vosper and his allies. The few remaining dragon riders have one last refuge, the city of Parthos. Elias and his new friends face many foes in this book and sometimes Elias isn't too sure who his friends are.

While we have yet to meet the evil Vosper, we do get to see plenty of his badguy handy work, from the past, and in Elias's present. More info about Elias's parentage is revealed to the readers. Thorin, Elias's halfling friend from Book 1, is still around providing advice, support, and the occasional comedic relief. The dragon riders themselves area mixed bag, some being extremely serious all the time. Others have a little fun. Some new magic users are recruited and some young dragons are looking to make a match with human riders.

There's plenty of action in this novel and it is well-paced with comedic moments and serious moments. I like that the point of view shifts around and we get to spend time in different heads. Elias is a well-meaning teen who wants to think the best of nearly everyone. Many of the other characters are not so trusting. In fact, there is a hidden traitor among them, which added suspense to the story.

Overall, this was a very good follow up to Book 1. I am very much looking forward to Book 3.

The Stargazey  (Richard Jury, Bk 15)
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Note: Although this is Book 15 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

The book opens on a cold night with an assassin in waiting. She has a been of a clean up to do as someone saw something they weren't suppose to while she was on a job. From this brief prologue, we jump into Richard Jury's life, superintendent with Scotland Yard. It's a boring Saturday, at least for Jury. He has few friends, and most of them are police such as he. So he finds himself riding a bus just to be out of the apartment and around people. But of course, he can't turn off his brain. He notices a woman in a fur coat get on the bus. She stands out because why would someone that dressed up be on the bus? She then gets off and walks a few blocks before boarding the same bus, which had been slowed by traffic, again. But when she leaves the second time, Jury follows out of curiosity. She enters the public grounds of some palace and Jury hangs back under a street light wishing for a cigarette for a time before heading home. When he reads in the paper the next day that a body of a woman was found in the grounds, he wants to smack his head against his desk.

This is my favorite Richard Jury mystery so far. It was a bit more complex than others I have read, and while I could guess certain elements of the various hidden agendas, I didn't see how it all fit together until the very end. Richard Jury let us in a bit more than usual with this mystery, showing the reader his lonely, empty life and his attempts to fill it. His sidekick Wiggins, who suffers from some never ending cold, was at his side making small talk with those under suspicion. We also got plenty of time with Melrose, formerly lord of this and that, having given up his titles some years back.

The plot twists together art appreciation, foreign travel, astrology, pet sitting, and Jury's chance encounter on the bus with the woman in fur. Jury taps Melrose to help him with the art appreciation facet since Melrose has some passing interest in it, and the funds to pull off the interest. He in turn goes to his lady friend painter to obtain her assistance. She rents a room from the Crypts family. This family is terribly interesting, being full of small children, a harried but caring mother, and a father who skirts the law or outright breaks it. The descriptions of the various members had me chucking out loud.

One thing that I appreciate about Grimes's writing is that pets and kids are not simply stand in blanks used to fill out the scenery. Nor does she go overboard in describing them, making them scene hogs. Instead she gives them enough personality ticks to have them add to the scene/plot without being unbelievable. From the dog named Stone to the child witness who poses as the dead woman, these small scenes had me chuckling once again. While I do wish we had at least one main female character, the female side characters, for the most part, bring something to the table.

The Narration: West did a good job once again, giving the male and female, old and young voices distinction. And I always enjoy his congested Wiggins. I do tend to confuse the voices for Jury and Melrose if I am not paying attention. Sure, Melrose has a talking voice laced with ennui, but when it is simply Melrose's thoughts, the voice is rather similar to Richard Jury's.

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, Bk 1)
reviewed on + 32 more book reviews

Find this portion of history fascinating. I found very little mystery with this book though. However, good characters are more intriguing to me than a curious mystery so no big loss for me.

Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds (Blackbird Sisters, Bk 2)
reviewed on + 12 more book reviews

Enjoyed this book.

Doorways: The Doorways Trilogy Book 1 (Volume 1)
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In a dreary isolated house somewhere in the UK, 16 year old Zach Black hates his uncle Thandel and wishes his sick sister, Anna, would recover swiftly. Zach and Anna recently lost their parents and were placed in the care of their bachelor uncle who is rather creepy. Zach stumbles upon a doorway into another world and is swept off to adventure by a very hairy man, the werewolf William Weaver. Once in Endra, a mirror of Earth, Zach is off and running for his life as zombies chase William and his companions, including the injured and unconscious vampire Neanna. Once they reach relative safety, they explain to Zach that their queen is dying and that Zach must help save her as she is the mirror twin of Zach's own sister; if the Endra queen dies so does Anna.

Plenty of action follows Zach around as he tries to figure out the rules to Endra and search out a key and a box with a heart in it. Back home, Zach is merely a 16 year old kid but in Endra he is a Peacekeeper, complete with magically reloading crossbows. Lots of vile forces work against Zach and his friends, but the worst of them is Throat. He oversees the care of the dying queen and also directs Thandel's ministrations of the weakening Anna. He also has spidepedes (spelling?) that are pretty creepy, even for this bug lover. Neanna, once she wakes up, and William are both forces to be reckoned with and are loyal friends to Zach. Their adventures take them back into Earth at one point (and it was quite fun to see their mere appearance terrorize the populace), through a haunted graveyard, and to a prison. William has a pretty detailed family background and he was the most in-depth character in the novel. I quite enjoyed learning about his motivations, past injuries, his shame, and his family.

I think this story is geared more for teens as some of the imagery was pretty simple. For example, referring to what would be a graveyard on Earth as a Gray Yard in Endra. However, while some things lacked imagination, there were plenty of beasties that did require the author's imagination such as the spidepedes. We get to know Zach through his actions and don't get a whole lot on his back story. There are 3 female side characters and all 3 start off needing rescuing. Eventually, Neanna rallies and becomes a force in action and wit. For much of the book, Anna is a character to be pitied and hopefully rescued, though she does get to do a little independent action late in the book. The queen must still be rescued. There are 1 or 2 other minor female roles but they didn't stand out. So most of the action is carried out by the males. I would have liked to see this more balanced. It's a fantasy world, equality could happen. Still, I enjoyed it enough to check out Book 2 in the series.

The Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a pretty good job with this book. He had a variety of voices, both male and female, both human and nonhuman, and each was distinct. I especially liked his voice for William, which had a werewolfish burr to it and the occasional howl. He also threw in some special effects, such as for the ghosts. They were well placed and weren't overdone. He gave some of the ghosts a Scottish burr and some ghouls a Hispanic accent. While I personally felt the Hispanic accent was a little overdone (I hear Spanish weekly if not daily), it will probably work for most folks. I do have to say that most of the time the voice for Zach sounded more like a 12 year old boy instead of one for a boy on the cusp of manhood.

The Inn at Angel Island (Angel Island, Bk 1)
reviewed on + 52 more book reviews

Love this series from Thomas Kinkade. Great writing, great characters. If you like the Cape Light series, you'll enjoy this series as well!

A Covington Christmas (Ladies of Covington)
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Fabulous book. Love this series.

Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches
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Lizzie Borden and her older, disabled sister Emma live in Fall River, Massachusetts. A few years back, they went through trying times when their parents died in an unexpected and rather gruesome manner. Despite the trial and a verdict of innocent, Lizzie is still treated with suspicion by the townsfolk. Hence, Emma and Lizzie moved to a manor house, Maplecroft, on the outskirts of town. While their parents may have been the first to succumb to a madness that originates from the depths of the sea, they are not the last. Hence, the need for Lizzie's axe.

This tale was rich in character development and suspense. Indeed, I felt it shared a kinship with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula. The tale opens slowly as one becomes acquainted with Lizzie and Emma. The story is told through a series of journal entries and personal letters, giving the narration a very personal note. With each letter, each journal entry, we got another small glimpse that something wasn't quite right. Emma, a renowned biologist (although she has to use a male pen name in this time period of late 1800s), studies the progression of the madness and ultimately the creatures themselves. Lizzie, having to take a more practical stand, has muscles gained from the need to swing an axe (for wood or defense), carry her disabled sister from room to room when she is ill, and the general running of a manor house. She doesn't understand the evil madness but she vows to end it.

As we delve deeper into the story, we become more aware of the connection to the ocean and the madness the great need for the water, the avoidance of bright light, the heavy desire to venture to the seashore. This is where tiny tendrils of Lovecraftian horror start to entangle themselves into the plot. The lengthy build up is worth the mystery as we gain further knowledge via the Fall River doctor and his strange encounters with the afflicted.

The tale also has a simple romance on the side. Let me say that one of the main characters is homosexual, and it is no big deal. Sure, some of the characters have time period views, but those views don't permeate the story. It was very well done and so refreshing to see a main character, a full, well-rounded, character doing all these plot-oriented things, who just happens to also be gay.

I loved this book; didn't want to put it away. I thoroughly enjoyed the build up of suspense and the bioscience. I liked that the center of the mystery was so vast and not completely discernible by the characters. I had the pleasure of hearing Priest talk about this book and about how she wasn't too keen on writing a sequel. As an impresed reader, I am very glad to hear that there will indeed be a sequel. Thank you Ms. Priest!

The Narration: The narration was also excellent. Having two readers to pass back and forth the male and female parts brought out the richness of the personal letters and journal entries. The regional accents came through clearly. Both Mitchell and Wayne imbued the characters with a range of emotions, as the story demanded.

The Seventh Hypothesis
reviewed on + 323 more book reviews

An okay impossible crime mystery, but you really have to go to tortuous lengths of twisting to suspend disbelief in this one. Lots of the dialogue is somewhat stilted. It wasn't too long, which was good. (The text doesn't really fill all 188 pages, so it's more like 170 pages with a lot of blank ones between chapters.)

You Are One of Them
You Are One of Them
Author: Elliott Holt
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Hardcover
reviewed on + 265 more book reviews

Having lived through The Cold War, this was interesting, it ended differently than I expected. Didn't make me want to go to Russia, especially in winter. A quick read.

Killer Market (Judge Deborah Knott, Bk 5)
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I never met a book by Margaret Maron that I didn't enjoy! This is no exception. Great fun.

The Alpine Legacy (Emma Lord Bk. 12)
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A Caress of Twilight (Meredith Gentry, Bk 2)

Nowhere near as much sex or imagination as volume 1. I stopped halfway. But I think us guys experience these books differently

reviewed on + 144 more book reviews

I enjoyed this book. The escapades of the crews of the ships, and of the guy who wrote it. It was fairly well written. However the book could have been about half as long as it was. The second half of the book is just more of the same and went on and on. I did learn some about how things are done on a cruise ship, although not a lot about the people who do the cruising. It was a fun book and if you like this genre you will like this book.

Home Front
Home Front
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 9 more book reviews

I am not a crier....have never cried reading s book or watching a movie. Maybe I can blame it on menopause...or that this book really hit home. From the time the main character deployed, I cried every time I picked up the book. As I read this book, my son-in-law deployed to Afghanistan leaving behind my daughter, 2 yr old granddaughter and 1 month old grandson. They had those difficult conversations about how war changes he will not come back the same person. I have also seen the effects of the war with friends and other family members.

This was a great sure to have the Kleenex handy....

Cry in the Night (Rock Harbor, Bk 4)
reviewed on + 1563 more book reviews

Plenty of surprises and old friends to keep track of. Sadness and plenty of windows into the evil of this world. Some people you will be angry with and others you will feel sorry for. Attitudes by some people come out and you will wish they were different, such as spoiled young women with a wrong slant on earlier happenings. Enjoy, this may be the last of this series. I will miss Samson, Bree, Kade and Dave. Others also, but sometimes a series has to end.

Hollywood Monster: A Walk Down Elm Street with the Man of Your Dreams
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Surprisingly, for an autobiography, the majority of the book deals with working on TV and films and not about his views or his family. And for an actor who will be forever linked to one murderous character, there is no introspection into what it should mean to have his interpretation of a horrific creature turned into a pop culture icon (and even into childrens' toys).

In only a few, fleeting passages does Mr. Englund delve into the visionary process of filmmaking and the inner language of a theatrical presentation. My guess is that he believes those books have already been written, and he would be right.

The guy is so positive and such a fanboy himself, it's hard to knock him.

Although he can claim to have worked with some legends of the industry, he usually ended up working on their worst projects....ever.

When all is said and done, there is a lot of name dropping, not a lot of good writing, and it still somehow comes out okay.

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, Bk 3)
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This third installment of this series, while still filled with steampunk goodness and badass characters, was not as engrossing or fun for me as the first two books. Half the fun of these books lies in the over-the-top lessons and the weird goings-on at Mademoiselle Geraldine's. Because this book mostly took place outside the school, many of the loveable and quirky characters we've come to know and love are not present.

The plot in this third book also felt overall slower and less complex. The first two books build on the plot and twist frequently, whereas this book focused more on developing relationships between the characters. This would have been fine, except it mostly involved a lot of love-triangle-ness for Saphronia. I am not opposed to love triangles as a firm rule, but if they are present they need to feel real and necessary. In the case of Saphronia's love dilemma, the choices she has to make seem to be so obvious every single time, and one of her love interests is so unbelievably frustrating. This makes me hate this particular love triangle.

I love world building in books like this, and we do learn significantly more about the werewolves in Saphronia's world. Unfortunately, the way the information is presented doesn't flow nearly as easily as the vampire tidbits we get in book two of this series. This is mostly due to the fact that the events surrounding the werewolf community are relayed second- or third-hand and not (for the most part) experienced real-time by the characters.

I hope the next book in the series continues to build upon the characters and setting discussed in the first three books, with a greater emphasis on showing and not just telling about the world around Saphronia. I would recommend this series to fans of steampunk, alternative historical fiction, vampires, and werewolves.

Leave Me Breathless
Leave Me Breathless
Author: HelenKay Dimon
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 9 more book reviews

Judge Bennett Walker was stubborn, pigheaded and full of himself. It's everything Callie stayed away from. Yet when Bennett's brother Mark asked her for a favor of being his bodyguard she does it. Ben doesn't understand the danger he's in, even after a car bomb almost kills him.

Ben can't stand his bodyguards disrespect or harsh attitude, yet after days spent in her company he finds he can't wait to see her. Both their harsh past makes them perfect for one another. Everyone around them can see it yet they cannot, until a kiss. The attraction is instant. Their more than compatible in bed but will that be enough to make them show who they really are underneath all the attitude. Will they take the chance to become vulnerable to the one person that can complete them.

It's a race to stay safe, find out who the stalker is and breakdown barriers.

Skin Game (Skin, Bk 1)
Skin Game (Skin, Bk 1)
Author: Ava Gray
Genre: Romance
Book Type: Paperback
reviewed on + 577 more book reviews

good book so much so that i'm getting the next book on foster and mia!

Ghosts I've Met
Ghosts I've Met
Author: Hans Holzer
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Book Type: Hardcover
reviewed on + 141 more book reviews

Typical 'ghost story' book, but this is a reprint of a book first published in 1965.
Based on the ghost hunting career of Hans Holzer, the author, the 'hunting' consists mostly of researching property titles for historic data to match to any info shared by various mediums/clairvoyants Hans uses in the haunted homes and castles. Hans conducts interviews of those who claim to have witnessed the sights or sounds of ghostly doings across America and in several European countries.
So no high-tech gizmos are used to scientifically 'prove' the presence of beings who haven't 'crossed-over' following violent deaths. But it was interesting to hear how one of the mediums performed during the many seances held in the haunted buildings. (I do not use the word 'performed' as any implication that she was 'faking' any of her 'readings' of the psychic goings-on.)
I found the writing style lacking and that's one reason for my lower star rating, other than 'discovering' that the 'research' was done over a half decade ago, rather than being based upon more recent expeditions.

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