Monday, April 30, 2012

Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale


Book: Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady

Author: Kate Summerscale

Release date (if applicable): June 19, 2012

Synopsis:  Reviewed for the author through, Summerscale, again, provides an interesting portrayal of the Victorian England criminal/legal system. This time, she focuses on divorce and inheritance laws, unfair to women, through presenting the case of Isabelle Robinson's divorce through her infidelity. Her husband is allowed to use her personal writings as a weapon against her.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Kate Summerscale brings light to some of the most unusual cases in Victorian England, such as her last book, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective, and now this one. She brings what could be an a boring law of the times to life in her descriptions and implications on real people. I also love that she brings the Victorian period to life in her descriptions of life in England around that time.

Being a lover of literature, particularly from that period of time, I loved how Ms. Summerscale brought in frequent examples from novels written in early 1800's England. I had read all of the books she identified, so it was wonderful to see how she applied them to that period of time. I can always count on her books to educate me and have had situations where the storyline, such as with "Suspicions", come up in other media, such as television shows and such that it has helped to add to my understanding of the stories!

Would I recommend? : Yes, for readers, of true crime or fans of Victorian England history

Stand Alone or Part of a Series:  Stand Alone

Trafficked by Kim Purcell

Book: Trafficked

Author: Kim Purcell

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: The story of a 17 year old girl, basically kidnapped, to the US by a Russian organized crime ring is placed in a Russian household as, basically, a house slave..with the threat of sexual violence being forced upon her at almost every turn. Will she make it out alive without being forced into a world of sex slavery??

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I was incredibly impressed with this debut fictional novel from Kim Purcell.

In a "world" where we are finally seeing some light shed on the subject of human trafficking, most literature in the literary world, unfortunately is limited to that of sex trafficking. Ms. Purcell shed light on another form of trafficking which is no less inhumane than sex slavery and that is smuggling humans for the purpose of "house staff". Ms. Purcell has written a book which, as a woman far from the YA age, I feel could cross over multiple genres. IMO,the author laid out the manipulations/violence used to keep "slaves" in place without beating the reader over the head with its' "graphicness". Something, that with the target audience being young adults, had the author gone down that path, I would have ripped the book. Sometimes, what is written "below the surface" can be just as scary as what is on the "printed page". Extreme "graphicness" would have been inappropriate and I think that most readers are capable of using their imaginations and going into deep, dark crevices to realize the horror that these victims suffer, especially as the light shines more and more on this crime and cockroaches scatter. Bravo, Ms. Purcell, Bravo!!

Would I recommend? : Yeah, baby for Young Adults and Adults alike!!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bone Box by Gregg Olsen

Book: The Bone Box

Author:  Gregg Olsen

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Dr. Birdie Waterman investigates the possible wrong conviction of her cousin. A cousin she helped to put away.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: This book was tame compared to a chunk of the works of Olsen's that I normally enjoy. I must admit that it had his standard high quality writing, but the reason I am a fan of Olsen's is his ability to really write in a twistedness comparable to some of the top Nordic Noir authors. I only see a very small handful of American authors who have the talent and "insight" to pull this type of writing off.

Although if this was an ongoing series by Olsen, I would read it..I just don't want him to toss away that line of writing that I have grown to seek out!

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Twelfth Child by Bette Lee Crosby

Book: The Twelfth Child

Author: Bette Lee Crosby

Release date (if applicable): May 21, 2012

Synopsis: Set in the 1920's (and a chunk of the story the recent past)The Twelfth Child is no different. I fell in love with the character Abigail Anne, a young woman who struggles against her father's ideas that women have their place and any form education, unless it has to do with cooking/cleaning, have no place for women. She is also struggling with the notion, real or imagined, that her father doesn't value nor love her. Desperate to save herself from an arranged marriage and to live her life independently, she makes some choices which could lead to some devastating consequences for her.

How does this affect Abigail as she grows and as an older woman??
Does she allow herself to fall prey to her caretaker Destiny?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I must say that I am really thankful to the Goodreads friend who introduced me to the writings of Bette Lee Crosby. Bette is one of those authors that it seems everything she touches (writes) turns to gold. It is one of the things that I love most about Goodreads, which is the ability to find new writers who I never outside this "little world" would have heard of.

Bette has the ability to write in a capability that puts the reader right within the story and one can visualize themselves observing the hurts and joys of the protagonist and his/her surrounding cast of characters. I also love the fact that each book, which could be considered of separate genres, are done through
Bette's portrays strong female characters without having ones who beat you across the head with an "I am woman hear me roar" mentality.

Would I recommend? : Absolutely. This book is so incredibly heartwarming. I couldn't help but cheer throughout numerous incidents in the book.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Madonna and Corpse

Book: Madonna and Corpse

Author: Jefferson Bass

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: A French National Inspector is called in to investigate missing artwork. His investigation leads to much more darker "halls" and finally a corpse. To solve the mystery, he will need to work with Brockton and Miranda.

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I just love JB's writing. This duo writes among the most intelligent books I have read. This novella is no exception. The book was short, concise and fast paced.

Would I recommend? : Absolutely, (and actually in speaking with the author, he said the same thing) I must add that I think that reader should read this book before reading The Inquisitor's Key. I had read an ARC of The Inquisitor's Key and it was very confusing to me enough that I needed to contact the author for clarification to a timeline.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of a series, but an offshoot of The Inquisitor's Key (although the author feels it could be a stand alone)

Magnolia Cristiana St. Claire by Maria Mitchell

Book: Magnolia Cristiana St. Claire

Author: Maria Mitchell

Release date (if applicable):  Released

Synopsis: Follows the lives of Magnolia and her love interest Roberto through various occurrences and happenings of their lives apart.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: Maria Mitchell really writes unusual stuff. I liked this book in particular because of its influences of Spain, Mexico and the Cajun Bayou. Although, there were some aspects that did add to the story line, I would have loved to see more about the formation of the relationship between Roberto and Magnolia during their early years because it was a love that lasted through "the ages" (ok..about 10 years, but 10 years apart!!).

Would I recommend? : Yes, for readers who like unusual books. I think that readers who like the standard, large publishing house cookie cutter authors will have a difficult time with this book.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fisher

Book: The Woman Who Wasn't There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception

Author: Robin Gaby Fisher

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis:  The true story of Tania Head, a woman who fabricated being a victim and losing her fiance on September 11th.  It then goes into her victimization of members of a September 11th Survivors Group and continued, long-term manipulation of those, including true 9/11 victims, around her.

My rating: 5 STARS!!

My opinion: I loved this book and read it in a couple of hours. I literally couldn't put it down and kept my mouth open the whole time. It flowed that well. I wanted to read this book prior to watching a documentary on it which has been airing on Investigative Discovery Channel. It was a great companion to the documentary and the author laid out "thought processes" of Tania Head really well that the documentary was unable to capture. 

Would I recommend? : Absolutely

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Book: Death in the Delta: Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret     

Author: Molly Walling

Release date (if applicable): October 2, 2012

Synopsis: TRUE STORY A woman tries to come to terms with her father's murderous past.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: This book was really cool. I have had a fascination with pre-civil rights South race relations/history for years and this book fit perfectly into that learning of that period of time. It was very unusual to see it from the perspective of a white woman trying to come to terms of a racial incident perpetrated by her father to two black men and the secrets kept within her family. To boot, the author brought in multiple perspectives by experts of that time, which really made the book pop.

Would I recommend? : Heck yeah, in fact, I have

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel by James Renner

Book: The Man from Primrose Lane: A Novel

Author:  James Renner

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: A man, who always wears mittens, and has a mysterious past, to boot, ends up dead in his home sans fingers to help identify his true identity. Who is he and how does his death fit into a best selling novelist's wife's suicide?

My rating: 3 stars

My opinion: This book, a debut, by this author started out incredibly strong to the point that I thought I would start stalking his website to see when new releases was coming out.  Then the storyline took a really odd turn which detracted from a strong story and became pretty far fetched.  Had the author stuck to thriller/crime instead of tossing in some sci-fi this book minimally would have been a 4 star read.

Would I recommend? : No, not really

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spiked Desserts: 75 Booze Infused Party Recipes

Book: Spiked Desserts: 75 Booze Infused Party Recipes

Author: Editors of Fox Chapel Publishing

Release date (if applicable): May 1. 2012

Synopsis: A book packed with liquor using recipes. This liquor isn't rendered off though! This is probably one of the most unusual cookbooks I have reviewed in the last two years.

My rating: 5+ stars!!

My opinion: I loved this bad boy. This book had some of the funnest recipes in it, even frozen concoctions. It was just an awesome, awesome cookbook!! 
 In the coming weeks, I will be testing recipes in my food blog, The Pub and Grub Forum(

Would I recommend? : I have recommended it all over the place to anyone who will listen. Plus, it is already in my Amazon cart!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Book: Hearts that Survive: A Novel of the Titanic
Author: Yvonne Lehman
Release date (if applicable): Published
Synopsis: Lydia Beaumont is traveling to New York City on the Titanic with her fiance, John Ancell. Married on board the ship hours before the catastrophe, Lydia must now learn to pull the pieces of her life together and learn when God is in someone's life.
My rating: 1 star
My opinion: I must admit that I have a really strong objection to slap you in your face Christian literature. I am not a heathen in any aspect, but I like my Christian literature to not be feeling like it is coming from a bully pulpit. I love authors such as Deeanne Gist or Colleen Coble, but they are able to get Christian messages across without beating the readers over the head with scripture passages. I am thoroughly convinced that authors who have to use extremes such as language, sex, drugs or bible passages are covering up for mediocre or substandard writing.

When I requested this book off Netgalley, the publisher simply had it identified as historical fiction. Had it been identified as Christian literature, I probably would have done some more digging before requesting or not requesting.

Would I recommend? : To those who like that style of Christian literature..yes. I did like the underlying story of the book. To others, no.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Book: The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Author: Simone St. James
Release date (if applicable): Published
Synopsis: Sarah Piper is hired by Alastair Gellis, a 1920's ghost hunter, and much to the objections of his partner, Matthew Ryder, to investigate the spirit of Maddy Clare, who committed suicide in the barn of her employer, doesn't like men and won't let them get near her without exacting a revenge. Was that it to Maddy's story though or is she a misunderstood spirit? On a side note, what is with the dynamics between Matthew and Sarah??
My rating: 4 stars
My opinion: I loved this book. It has been a very long time since a ghost story hasn't left me bored to tears. This one kept me interested with the author's abilities to write in the language of the 1920's and the "tone" of the story to keep it almost "Gothic".  I would almost compare this to Shirley Jackson's, The Haunting of Hill House.
Would I recommend? : For people who like ghost stories
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Book: The Sandcastle Girls

Author: Chris Bohjalian

Release date (if applicable): July 17, 2012

Synopsis: The story of a young woman who goes to Syria in WWI during the time of the Armenian genocide in a philanthropic effort, the man with whom she falls in love with and how the past interacts or interferes with the present.

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I loved this book. In my opinion, this is Bohjalian's finest novel to date. Although, I have not read them all, I think I have read enough to make that judgement call. Let me just say when I downloaded the book to my Adobe Digital Editions, I got sucked into the storyline so fast that it never made it to my Nook. Another absolute winner for Bohjalian. I read this book in about 4 hours, sitting at my desk on my laptop, and having to take breaks. The characters, setting and storyline were all superbly written in his classic fashion. CB is one of those authors that the more I read his works, the more I love his writing.

I had the chance to "speak" with CB when he "friended" me on Goodreads after reading my review of this book. I am paraphrasing because if I go into too deeply what he stated, I will be heading into spoilerland and this is not what this blog is about, but he explained that it took him about 20 years to write this book. That, although he didn't consider this his best book (I vehemently disagreed with him and felt that it was some humility popping up) that it is his most important book. Also, he stated that he is very similar to one of the characters in the book, but the reader of this review will need to guess which one! ;)

Would I Recommend? : Good Lord, Yes!!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Lola Quartet

Book: The Lola Quartet

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Release date (if applicable): May 8, 2012

Synopsis: Gavin Sasaki returns to Florida, after being terminated at his job as a reporter for a New York newspaper, only to find out that he might be a daddy as a result of a fling with a friend who was part of a jazz band with him in high school. Now, both she and the child have disappeared and he is trying to locate them both.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: I must say that I enjoyed the "mystery" part of the story over the jazz references. I also loved the overall "feel" of the book from language used to the settings. I also loved the author's masterful use of weaving present tense with the past and what led up to the present, particularly with Anna and how the rest of the group figured into the mystery. She kept me guessing if Gavin was the baby daddy or not, with little hints or wrenches that she had thrown in? And...where and what happened to Anna and the child? I must say I enjoyed the ride in a book I went into some trepidation with.

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Inquisitor's Key/ The Bones of Avignon (Body Farm #7)

US Version

UK Version

Book: The Inquisitor's Key/The Bones of Avignon (UK Version)

Author: Jefferson Bass

Synopsis: Dr. Bill Brockton's assistant, Miranda Lovelady, decides to spend her summer participating in an archaeological dig in Avignon, France. She soon falls onto a mystery which starts with the possible bones of Jesus Christ. Not being able to leave her protege out of this one, she gets him to France under hilarious methods only to find out the mystery of the bones might be something bigger and deadlier than they can handle.

My Rating: OH 5 STARS, BABY!! Nothin' less!!

My opinion: I have to be really honest when I first read the book jacket and Amazon description, I was very nervous. I love Dr. Bill Brockton. The man is someone you could really sit down and have a beer with. Full of wit, sarcasm, down to Earth and just an all around good guy. With the setting, I was concerned that the book would be pretentious in nature and I have had enough shock of authors blowing my favorite characters out of the water this year!! Jon Jefferson being the brilliant writer that he is, was able to keep Dr. Brockton his same old lovable self while providing a rich background and a deep mystery set in two different time periods, which then pull together beautifully! 

Would I recommend? : You bet!! I regularly recommend the entire is so good.  Let's just say that the series is so good that I read the first 6 books in less than 1 month, often finishing a book in one day. I keep saying that each one is better than the last one. The other thing that I love about this series is that, in my humble opinion, both men and women can read it and enjoy it. It is not saturated with a ton of "emotions". I call it "all the forensic archeology fun without the pretentiousness of Kathy Reich's, Temperance Brennan or Patricia Cornwell's, Kay Scarpetta." Take that as...if you like Kathy Reich's, Temperance Brennan series or Patricia Cornwell's, Kay Scarpetta series. (or if you don't like them for the reasons I listed)..YOU WILL LOVE THE BODY FARM SERIES!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of a series

Other books in the series in order:

Carved in Bone (Body Farm #1)

Flesh and Bone(Body Farm Book 2)
The Devil's Bones (Body Farm #3)

Bones of Betrayal (Body Farm #4)

The Bone Thief (Body Farm Book #5)
The Bone Yard (Body Farm Book #6)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trail of the Spellman's (Book #5) by Lisa Lutz

Book: Trail of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, Book #5)
Author: Lisa Lutz

Synopsis: The PI family, the Spellmans, are back and they continue to put the "dys" in dysfunctional. Readers are invited to the antics of Mom, Dad, David, Rae and, of course, Izzy Spellman. Not only are their personal lives silly and goofy, but, their clients and friends are subject to the same level of insanity! A word of warning...there is a heartbreaking incident in the book that will have Izzy fans asking "Why??"

My opinion: I love the Spellman's. I, by nature, am a very sarcastic person and the Spellman series is right up my alley. This series is laugh out loud hilarious. I was very bummed when it looked like Lisa Lutz was putting the Spellmans out to pasture, so I was doing a jig when I saw it pop up on Goodreads. Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit when this book came out.

My rating: 4 Stars

Would I recommend? : I would, and have recommended the entire series.

Who am I and why a book blog?!?!

I am a book lover. I don't just say that I love books...I really love books. I could never imagine them not being in my life. There are things that I could imagine having to give up, but you would need to pry a book out of my cold, dead hands! If I haven't said it enough...I love all books, all genres (for the most part), and a wide variety of authors. Books are so much a part of my life that I could NEVER imagine them not in my life. I am currently listed on Goodreads' Highest Reviewers lists, both in the US and globally. My name also appears on the Top Readers list for the US, as well.
Are you convinced yet??

I will take books anyway I can get them. Originally, I had sworn off ereaders, believing books were meant to be held in my hands with the paper pages turning under my fingers. It then dawned on me that there are a huge number of authors out there which are restricted to ereaders that I felt I was missing out on. So, what did I end up doing? Not only did I buy a Nook, but I also grabbed a Kindle. I wanted to make sure that I never missed a book that I wanted.

On that note, I am also cheap! My morning coffee is drank while I am surfing for free or severly discounted books, while doing the same with the Amazon lists for anything on my out of control and evergrowing "to be read" list on Goodreads.

So, why a book blog?? I recently started a food blog called The Pub and Grub Forum ( because my other passion is food and drink. I had thought about combining the two, but that would have been like combining oil and vinegar, plus it looked really goofy and out of place on TPGF. Any who, I love my food blog and have a blast with it, but I felt like the other passion in my life was missing. As I was reviewing and processing my recipes. I felt like I was missing an appendage. And that appendage had a book attached to it.

I must be honest though...I was intimidated in the thoughts of writing a book blog...after all, a food blog is normally a "just the facts, ma'am" situation. Book reviews are more flowery, creative and  involved. Three things I am not!! As I got to thinking, though, I kept asking myself why book review be can't a "just the facts, ma'am" proposition? Why do they have to be flowery and involved?

Instead I came up with my own format which will simply be:
  • The title of the book
  • The author of the book
  • Identifying information such as publisher, ISBN/ASIN, format, etc
  • A very short spoilers here
  • My rating based on the 5 star rating system
  • My opinion...again, no spoilers here
  • Would I recommend the book based on my opinion?
I really hope you join me. Like with my food blog, I love feedback, as long as it is appropriate, and love to discuss books.