Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: Baronne Street

About the Book:
Love means sometimes having to solve your ex-girlfriend's murder. 

Burleigh Drummond, a fixer, ignores a voice-mail plea for help from his ex-girlfriend Coco Robicheaux. She broke his heart when she dumped him, so why should he care? He goes about his job of manipulating the imbroglios of bluebloods and politicos. Still, Drummond misses Coco and regrets not answering her call.

The next morning he is rousted from bed by two extremely unpleasant homicide detectives with the news that Coco has been raped and bludgeoned to death. The detectives also share they have been instructed to do nothing about the case, but should he provide them with evidence... 

As Drummond investigates he discovers Coco lived a clandestine existence in the city's netherworld and had been drafted as an unwitting pawn in a plot to disrupt the upcoming mayoral election. As often happens with pawns, she was sacrificed. 

When threats cloaked as friendly warnings escalate to an old-fashioned beating, Drummond enlists a reputed mercenary, a black-separatist reporter, and a computer hacker to assist in his investigation and, eventually, revenge. As Drummond negotiates through the maze of deception and he finds himself at odds with his blueblood clients, the police chief, the mayor, and a gay crime syndicate.

My Comments:

On the one hand I'd love to tell you this book was an entertaining read, but highly unrealistic. On the other hand, yet another public official plead guilty this week. Our US Attorney here in New Orleans has made quite a name for himself by convicting public officials who think that the law doesn't really apply to them. 

In short, I loved this book. For someone who has lived in New Orleans for almost 30 years, it was fun to read about local landmarks and watering holes. I could nod my head knowingly as the book talked about the Sazerac bar at the Fairmont, F&M's Patio Bar, 3-for1 at Que Sera or dancing at 4141. When Drummond parked in the 600 block of Baronne (where I used to work) and went to the gay "health club", I knew exactly which door was being discussed. 

You know those detective shows in which the detective is the narrator? That's how this book is written, in the first person, told by Burleigh Drummond, who, as one client said in the book "manipulate[s] delicate situations discreetly and keep[s] the consequences quiet".  His assignments include keeping the grandson of a rich man from doing anything too outrageous (and keeping him from paying the consequences for lesser offenses) and helping the campaign of a reform candidate for mayor (who turns out to be not so different than those who went before--as the rich man said "Why would someone go to all the trouble setting up a Rube Goldberg scheme to blackmail a politician when they're all for sale?"). He is out to find the killer of his ex-girlfriend who he now realizes he really loved, and in the process finds himself in the middle of two other cases he has taken--the rich man's grandson is involved, as is the husband of the woman who paid him to find out what her husband was doing.  

The ending is rather unrealistic, but I can't say I expected much different.  While there are no bedroom scenes in the book, there are plenty of references to those activities, and some of the language is on the crude side, so if those things bother you, this isn't the book for you.  

The book says it is set in 1993, but I found that odd (it wasn't published until 2010).  Burleigh used his cell phone regularly, and not just in his car.  I started my current job in 1993, and my boss had a car phone, and lots of folks had pagers but the omnipresent cell phone was still almost five years away for the early adopters. I'm also trying to wonder when some of those watering holes closed.  4141 was "the" dance club Uptown when I first got here in 1983.  It isn't there anymore, but I don't know when it closed.  Given the short lifespan of that type of place, I find it hard to believe it was still there in 1993, but it might have been--my clubbing days had given way to diapers by then.  

This is one that has been on my Kindle for a long time.  The author, Kent Westmoreland, sent me a review copy almost a  year ago, and there have always been things I thought I wanted to read more.  I ended up really enjoying it and give it a B+.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Waiting for Dawn

About the Story:

In this prequel to Flee the Night—the first book in Susan May Warren’s critically acclaimed Team Hope series—Lacey Galloway leads a rather predictable life as a contractor for the Department of Defense. But news that Sergeant First Class Jim Micah is missing in action leads her on a dangerous trek overseas to rescue the man who secretly captured her heart. 

Although her DOD connections quickly cut through the red tape, she also enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend and Micah’s best friend, Lieutenant John Montgomery. As they hatch a covert plan to find and rescue Micah, Lacey’s feelings are once again torn between the two men. 

Filled with romance and adventure, this twisty tale will hold you captive to the very last page.

My Comments:
You'll note that instead of the usual "About the Book" above, I wrote "About the Story".  That's because this isn't a full-length book but rather an ebook-only prequel to a 2005 novel entitled Flee the Night, which is the first of a series of books about a woman intelligence agent.  

Waiting for the Dawn is an exciting read about a search and rescue mission in which a woman enlists the help of her current beau (who really hasn't been that attentive to her) to rescue the hometown boy for whom she has always carried a flame.  As a prequel, it has a happy, but not quite settled ending--probably to encourage  you to read the rest of the books in the series.

The book is Christian fiction, which in this case means that the guy who is imprisoned thinks of God often and prays and repeats Bible verses.  It fits the story, but if faith-based fiction isn't your thing, this probably isn't the book for you.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  Grade:  B-.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monday Memes

This month Mailbox Monday is back at its home.   Bloggers list  books that arrived in either snail mail or email. I got some NetGalleys this week, but nothing via snail mail.

It's Monday What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.  She asks what we read last week, what we reviewed last week and what we plan to read this week.
I read:
(to be reviewed in February, but it was a fun read)

To be reviewed in January, but another fun easy read.

To be reviewed soon, I'm not done yet, but a great read that has been on my Kindle way too long.

I published reviews of:

To Read:
I'm trying to work my way through some books that have been lying around forever.  Baronne Street is one of those--it's been on my Kindle for almost a year, something else always seemed to catch my interest.  I've decided I'm not going to download  going to be very selective about the NetGalleys I download until I either read or reject those already on my Kindle.  I'm going to start with the oldest ones there, start them and either read them or decide to DNF them and delete them.  I'm expecting work to keep me very busy early next year so I'm not accepting  being extremely selective about the review copies I select, since I suspect my reading/blogging time will be limited.  The two oldest NetGalleys I have are

Oh, you all got a mention on my Top Ten Tuesday post!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

I'd like to welcome everyone to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  To particpate, go to your blog and create an entry titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  In it, highlight one or more of your posts from the past week that you believe would be of interest to Catholic bloggers---whether they are posts reflecting on spiritual matters or posts about antics of Catholic kids, or anything in between.  Come back here and enter the URL of that post below.  Finally, go visit other participants, and leave comments!  If you want a weekly reminder to post, join our yahoogroup.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope everyone had his or her fill of turkey and all the trimmings, along with a great time with family and friends.  We went to my dad's house and in the afternoon my youngest brother and my nephew came over for a visit.  Nephew and my youngest have a good time together and the adults enjoy watching them play together.  My big ones hide out in the back on TV or computer.

Today I am cooking.  I made enough meatballs to keep us for a couple of months; I taught my older daughter how to make an apple pie, I made homemade applesauce and will make banana bread and muffins.  Supper will be turkey soup.  I have peppers to stuff and I think I'm going to make some chili too--it is supposed to get cold tomorrow.

Tomorrow (or this afternoon) is the BIG CHANGE, the one that made the front page of the paper, the new translation of the mass.  I guess everyone will write about it either this week or next.  Unless I hear something unexpected, I personally think it is much ado about not much, but then I'm not a liturgist or a Latin expert.

So, what did you write about this week?  I read a Catholic book but the review is supposed to be approved before I publish it, so I guess you'll see it next week.  This week I published reviews of a romance novel, a romance anthology, a Christmas anthology, a cookbook and a Christian romance.  I mentioned you on my Top Ten Tuesday post.

Review: A Home By the Sea

About the Book:
Grace Lindstrom has followed her fiancé across three continents, starry-eyed and full of dreams. But when he dies in a plane crash, Grace discovers that their life together was the cruelest kind of lie—and swears to never lose herself to that kind of love again. Until one night, when a chance encounter leads her to the kind of man she's always dreamed of—and the deep family ties she's never known.

Noah McKay knows he can't offer Grace any kind of future—not when he spends every day putting his life on the line. But when Grace's grandfather suddenly falls ill and she's called home to the small island town where she grew up, he realizes he can't live without her. Aided by good knitting, good chocolate and deep friendship, Grace is slowly learning to trust again—but can she learn to love a man whose secrets run so deep?

My Comments:
Three young women who grew up together.  Three young women who were young when they lost their parents.  The first found love in The Knitting Diaries (my review); the second finds love in this book, and I'll bet I know who the guy will be in the third book.  As is true of many series books, there are things that happen in this one for no apparent reason, but if you realize another book is coming, then they make sense.

It's a romance novel, a quick enjoyable read with a pretty basic plot.  She writes about cooking and travels around the world doing research.  She was engaged to be married by her fiancee died.  Shortly thereafter she learned that he regularly cheated on her so she's twice burned.  He defuses bombs for a living, for some top-secret government department, so he can't tell folks exactly what he does.  He is on call frequently and has to go where the job sends him.  He has had lots of women but no love.  They meet when he sees her rescuing kittens from a dumpster and basically it is love at first sight for both of them, though they fight it.  They are both loving people who love their families and are willing to sacrifice for them.

There is one moderately graphic romantic scene and it happens outside of wedlock.  Its funny, the book mentions that he has no trouble getting women to share his bed, but that they know going in that it isn't serious.  He meets her and courts her attentively for a few weeks, even going across the country to see her.  At that time, just a few weeks after they meet, he uses his body to tell her what he cannot say.  I have to wonder, if he falls into bed that easily and that indiscriminately, what does his body say?  He may be technically proficient in such activities, but how can you communicate something special with an activity you will do with anyone--but that's just the old-fashioned Catholic in me speaking.

I'd like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of the book via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  Grade:  B.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Small Town Christmas: My Review

Kissing Santa Claus
NASCAR driver Logan Perrish returns to Lucky Harbor, Washington, with love in his heart and a ring in his pocket. But can Sandy Jansen forget the past and give him a second chance? Or will Logan be spending another Christmas alone?

I'll Be Home for Christmas
After ignoring the advice of Miz Miriam Randall, local matchmaker, Annie Roberts expects another hum drum holiday in Last Chance, South Carolina. But when a stray cat arrives in the arms of Army sergeant Matt Jasper, a calico named Holly just may be the best matchmaker of all.

O Little Town of Bramble
All Ethan Miller wants for Christmas is to celebrate in Bramble, Texas, with family and friends. But when his childhood neighbor, Samantha Henderson, comes home for the holiday, Ethan realizes that the girl-next-door could be the girl of his dreams.  

My Comments:
Three short romances, two by authors with whom I am familiar.  Since they are Christmas stories they are heartwarming tear-jerkers with happy endings.  I found the language in Kissing Santa Claus to be unnecessarily crude, but I really enjoyed the others.  Grade:  B

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Christmas Stories

About the Book:
These stories-like your favorite Christmas ornaments-come in all shapes and sizes. They unfold in a variety of settings, from ancient Bethlehem to rural England. From a small Texas town to the heavenly realms. Some are short. Others many chapters long. Some offer reflections. Others imagine Christmas through the eyes of a burnt-out candle maker, a lonely business man, or heavenly angels.

My Comments:
It is a collection of Christmas stories.  It is by Max Lucado.  Do I really have to say anything else?  It's sweet, it's very sweet.  It's inspiring, it points to the real meaning of Christmas (not "holidays").  It is no literary classic and I'm sure that like me, you'll guess where most of these stories are going as soon as the scene is set.  Even so you may find a tear rolling down your cheek as you read.   

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write any review, much less a positive one.  However, I'll give this book a solid B.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons I'm Thankful for Being a Blogger

1.  Books.  What can I say, I love to read and being a book blogger keeps my mailbox full of books at no cost to me.

2.  An audience.  Yea, like a lot of bloggers I've had my dreams of being a published author and now I am one!

3. The book blogger community.  Part of being a book blogger is the book blogger community--those who participate in the memes, challenges, and events that take reading from a solitary event to a community event--whether you are talking about Mailbox Monday or The Fall Reading Challenge or the Readathon, even if I don't participate I enjoy reading the post of those who do, of those who enjoy books as much as I do.

4.  Catholic bloggers.  I've learned so much about my faith through hosting Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, which is my weekly meme in which Catholic bloggers, whether they blog about the faith or about cute Catholic kids, share their best posts with each other.

5.  AdSense.  No, I'm not getting rich, but it won't be long before they send me $100, so if you've every wondered if you should click those ads on someone's blog, please, do.

6.  Amazon Affiliates.  Another program that isn't making me rich, but which does give me a couple of nickles every now and then.  If a book blogger recommends a book you decide to buy, do him or her a favor, use his or her links to buy it and give the blogger a couple of cents.

7.  Regular writing practice has improved my writing, at least I think it has.

8.  I get to help promote books that I enjoy; its fun being an "influencer".

9.  I love walking into the bookstore and recognizing many of the featured titles

10.  You!  Ok, this is a repeat of No. 2 but I'm running out of things and You are a special member of this audience.  Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you and yours.

See other Top Ten lists at Amanda's place.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

About the Book:
America’s original Clone Recipe King shares 25 of his all-time tastiest and most popular copycat recipes for easy home versions of your favorite famous foods.For two decades, Todd Wilbur has worked doggedly to reverse engineer America’s most famous foods. In this special collection, Wilbur reveals the secret formulas for your all-time favorite restaurant dishes and brand-name foods. With top-secret blueprints and easy-to-follow instructions, it’s simple to fool your taste buds and save money when you make this amazing original clones at home. Find out how to make your own home versions of: Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies; Orange Julius; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; McDonald’s Big Mac; KFC Cole Slaw; KFC Original Fried Chicken; Wendy’s Chili; Nabisco Oreo Cookies; Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls; Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole; Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing; Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad; Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion; McDonald’s French Fries; Girl Scout Cookies Thin Mints; Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese; Burger King Onion Rings; Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar; Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits; The Cheesecake Factory White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake; Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli; Chili’s Grilled Baby Back Ribs; Bonefish Grill Gang Bang Shrimp; Pizza Hut Pan Pizza ; P. F. Chang’s Soothing Lettuce Wraps

My Comments:
My guess is that you can find a lot of these copycat recipes in collections available free on the web, but having  them collected in one place is convenient.  I'm going to have to try the Mrs. Fields recipe.  Unlike some copycat versions of her cookies, this one does not require me to dirty every dish in the kitchen.  It is pretty much like the recipe I use now, except that it uses far more brown sugar than white.  Maybe I'll try them soon and get a picture of my assistant to go with it.  The book is not illustrated (at least my NetGalley wasn't nor are there any illustrations in the Amazon preview).  In short, if you want recipes for the things listed above in one convenient location, $2.99 isn't a lot of money and from reading the recipes, they look close to the "real" thing.  Grade:  B.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary NetGalley version of this book.  

Monday Memes

This month Mailbox Monday is back at its home.   Bloggers list  books that arrived in either snail mail or email.  This week has been a catch up week for me.  Only one by snail mail,

 no new NetGalleys but I did grab a few freebies from Amazon

It's Monday What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.  She asks what we read last week, what we reviewed last week and what we plan to read this week.

I read:

Reviews published:

My Top Ten Tuesday post this week was a list of Ten Cookbooks

Book Review; Wonderland Creek

About the Book:
Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and myster--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

My Comments:
This book moves from one improbable situation to the next and by the time I was half-way through I didn't care any more or care to finish it.  Some of the Depression-era historical details were interesting but they weren't enough to keep me interested in the book.  DNF.

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy and as you can tell by the review, I was not obligated to review it positively.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

I'd like to welcome everyone to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  To particpate, go to your blog and create an entry titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  In it, highlight one or more of your posts from the past week that you believe would be of interest to Catholic bloggers---whether they are posts reflecting on spiritual matters or posts about antics of Catholic kids, or anything in between.  Come back here and enter the URL of that post below.  Finally, go visit other participants, and leave comments!  If you want a weekly reminder to post, join our yahoogroup.

Unfortunately, I've spent more evenings this week reading depositions about the Deepwater Horizon than I have reading review books.  However, a few pre-scheduled reviews did go up, and two of them were books I highly recommend.  Remembering You is about two WWII buddies who are in Europe attending what will probably be their last reunion.  A Sound Among the Trees is about a modern day woman who is letting the Civil War be too important in her life today.  My Top Ten Tuesday post is about cookbooks.

What about you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Tour with Giveaway: Remembering You

About the Book:
35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.
As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.
Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.

My Comments:
War is hell.  We've all heard it, and those who have experienced war can really tell us what Hell is, but all too often when thinking of WWII, the image that comes to mind is a 1940's movie starring a war hero and a beautiful girl.   The Yankees were wonderful, the Germans were awful and of course, we won.  It almost seems like a larger version of the college football games that are practically a religion in this part of the country.  We think about the men who fought, but now, as the mother of a nineteen year old, it is hard to imagine how many of those who lost their lives to defend our freedom were his age.  

Trisha Goyer did a wonderful job in this book of showing us how their experiences during WWII shaped the lives of her grandfather and his best wartime (and lifetime) friend.  We saw the good and the bad.  We saw a man who was a hero, and also a man who realized he was a sinner and needed Christ in his life.  Yes, the book is Christian fiction, but  please don't let that scare you off.  It is the story of two old men; men who are at the point in their lives when death becomes much more than an abstract possibility--something that will happen someday, but surely someday is a long way off, right?  It is said that there are no atheists in foxholes, and somehow I suspect the number of atheists in nursing homes is somewhat smaller than the number at the local singles bar.  Given the setting and the characters, the spiritual talk in the book was appropriate, and unless you just can't stand anything spiritual in books, shouldn't be enough to keep you from enjoying the book.  

I loved this book and I'm giving it an A.

Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

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