Friday, April 27, 2012

A Holiday Yarn by Sally Goldenbaum

I don't normally read Christmas themed books throughout the year. I save them up and read them from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. It is just one of those quirky things I do.  That said.. I am obsessed with reading books in the order they were written, especially those in a series as they tend to build on each other.  One series I love it Goldenbaum's Seaside Knitters Mystery series.  Love the characters.. the setting..and the coziness of it all! I had planned to read this one during my Christmas-book-read-a-thon, but it didn't happen. So I broke the "rules" and decided to have a bit of Christmas in April!  And I am glad I did!  I would not want to wait until November to go back to Sea Harbor and visit my dear friends!

Christmas is in the air there.. cookies baking.. knitters feverishly finishing up Christmas projects.. snow falling.. Santa is anticipated.. and Mary Pisano is busy transforming her grandfather's estate into a bed-and-breakfast. It won't be officially opened until after the holidays, but Mary's large family will hold their annual meeting there at Christmas and she wants it all ready.

Busyness abounds and a bit of tension over Mary's inheritance of the property instead of one of the other Pisano cousins, but overall everyone is behaving... or so it seems until Pamela Pisano is found dead on the B & B's back porch.

The peace and excitement of the season is shattered as a murdered is sought.  Suspicions run amuck as the police investigate and theorize.  And of course the Sea Side Knitters feel the need to do their own sleuthing.  Can they catch a killer and return Sea Harbor to its normal quiet self? Or will it ever be the same when they find there is a killer in their midst?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl

Obviously I am on a mystery kick right now... cozy mysteries of course!  Those are my faves.

Missing Mabel is book 1 in Nancy Mehl's Curl Up and Dye Series (and is part of the Hometown Mysteries series).

Everything I have read by Mehl has been quirky... and Missing Mabel is no exception!  Hilde Higgins does hair... for the dead... well, for the mortuaries that are preparing dead bodies for viewing and such.  Hey, at least her clients never complain!  Hilde also has a photographic memory... so when she accidentally sees Mabel Winnemaker one day and then is called in to do her hair a few days later, she has no doubt something is wrong. This is not the same body!

The Director of the Funeral Parlor doesn't believer her ... in fact, he thinks she is covering up for her own sins.. theft of the deceased's diamond ring.

Her reputation on the line... and her curiosity peaked, Hilde decides to find out where the real Mabel Winnemaker is.

Along the way she discovers a new friend, with a few secrets of his own; reconnects with an old friend who may just become a new flame; and begins the journey to healing with her mother and her past.  AND she finds lots of laughs and crazy situations to get tangled in as she tries to work through all the drama that is Mabel.

Very fun read!  Looking forward to the next one in this series.

Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney

This is book 1 of the Gray Whale Inn Series.

This book popped up on a list of Kindle Freebies from Amazon a few weeks ago. I had never heard of the author or the series, but something about it caught my attention.. and I am thankful for whatever it was!  I loved this cozy mystery.

I am a sucker for cozy mysteries... whether book, television or movie versions!  I just love them. And this one was a great read and satisfied my need for a bit of intrigue.

Natalie Barnes has risked everything to purchase the Gray Whale Inn on Cranberry Island in Maine. (OK just the name of the Inn and the Island makes me smile!)  Now a huge resort is trying to build next door and turn her life into a parking lot.. literally!  Natalie and friends have formed a group to proclaim the land in question a refuge and nature breeding grounds for Terns.. in their quest to keep Cranberry Island from becoming another commercialized tourist spot.

So when Bernard Katz, the resort developer, is found dead... by Natalie... it is no wonder the local authorities think "she done it!"  But Natalie didn't do it!  Someone is doing a bang up (literally) job of framing her and stirring popular opinion (a.k.a. gossipping women) against her.

Natalie sets out to prove her innocence, catch a killer and hopefully save her Inn.

Again, a very good cozy read.  3 more books to date in the series. They have been added to my every growing and never ending to-read list!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Probably not a book you expected to see here and honestly, not one I knew much about or would have picked up to read if not for my kids.  Both my children (young adults) read and loved this book.  (One loved the movie also, the other did not.) It really had there attention and the attention of so many other college / youth age kids I come in contact with... so I decided to read it and see what the fuss was about.

Do I like it? Good question. It is very well written.. intriguing.. definitely draws you in and hooks you (takes a few chapters though) and honestly, I will probably read the other 2 books in the series because too much is left hanging at the end of book one.

And yet, the subject matter is not an easy one. It is not really as gruesome or gory or gross as you might have heard (although there are a few scenes I felt comfortable skimming over).  The heaviness, to me, is the overall subject .... this idea of a society that has fractured and sectioned off itself in such a way that it is a bit like a Caste system.  And then to create a sport that is so vile and goes so against the moral grain.  And yet (seems to be an "and yet" theme here), we really do this already in many ways.  Think of the shows we watch on television... many, many of them pit people from different walks of life against each other to fight it out to the end... not death, but a set end.  Survivor, the Apprentice, even things like those beat 'em up shows.. American Gladiator and the like.  I know there are others, I am just not a huge fan of reality shows.  Even our sports lean towards this... look at how vehemently some watch football and how they want a rough and tough game. And the thing is the more we watch, the more we want and the more we want the more we watch.. a vicious cycle.  And that is a big part of The Hunger Games.  The ultimate reality show and the spectators while at time repulsed by it want more and more.. more scandal, more action, more blood.

This is a work of fiction and can be read as just a story.. but if we are honest while reading we will see ourselves, our culture, in the midst of it. Collins has just taken it to an extreme to make a point. One I hope we all see and take.

not a fan by Kyle Idleman

The subtitle to this book is "Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus" and that is the challenge Idleman sets forth for believers. If asked, are you a follower of Christ most of us would answer YES without hesitation, but as you read this book you begin to see where that may not be true. ... you may be more of a fan, an enthusiastic admirer.

Idleman does not come up with this theory out on his own... he bases it soundly and squarely in Scripture.. and not random bits of Scripture edited to make it "fit" his thoughts.  No, he digs into a few key passages and verses and teaches the reader from Christ's Words.

Reading this book feels a bit like sitting in a small group discussion... very frank and intimate.. no holding back, no sugar coating, and yet no condemnation.. more challenge and encouragement.

not a fan will challenge you to consider the cost of calling yourself Christian.  It calls you to take a good look at your relationship with the Lord and determine if you are truly living the life or just sitting in the stands cheering.