Friday, November 28, 2014

Winners & A Holiday Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James will go to Sally S. from Antioch, CA. Hannah Reed's Off Kilter will go to Karen E. from Montgomery, AL. I'm mailing both books today.

This week, I'm giving away two holiday mysteries in a contest that will end a day early, Wed. Dec. 3.  Since I'll be giving away a copy of Cleo Coyle's latest book soon, I'm giving away an earlier one right now, an autographed ARC of Holiday Buzz. It's holiday time in New York City, but when the Great New York Cookie Swap ends with the death of a baker's assistant, Village Blend coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi vows to put the killer on ice.

A Midwinter's Tail is Sofie Kelly's Magical Cats mystery. The holiday season means everything is busy in Mayville Heights, and Kathleen Paulson is snowed under running her library and caring for her extraordinary cats, Owen and Hercules. When a guest at a library benefit drops dead, though, Kathleen, Owen and Hercules will be busy trying to solve a murder.

Which holiday mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject line should read either "Win Holiday Buzz" or "Win A Midwinter's Tail." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The contest will end Wednesday, December 3 at 6 p.m. CT.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

P.D. James, R.I.P.

P.D. James, author of eighteen crime novels, including the mysteries featuring Commander Adam
Dalgliesh, died today in Oxford, England. She was 94.

I can't do justice to the death of one of the masters, an author who championed the mystery genre. Instead, here's the link to the New York Times article by Marilyn Stasio, But, no fan of the genre can ignore her death.

Rest in peace, P.D. James, Baroness James of Holland Park.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is one more day that I count my blessings, beginning with my family - my Mom, my two sisters, their families, and all of my extended family. I'm so lucky to have all of them.

I'm lucky to have a job in a library, and I've been lucky in my previous jobs in Ohio, Florida, and Arizona. I consider myself blessed with all the friends I made in those places. I'm blessed with all the friends I've made online, through my blog, and, with some, through their blogs. And, I had a wonderful college roommate, who remains a close friend. I give thanks for all my friends.

And, I don't feel funny giving thanks for my cats. They make me laugh. They cuddle and comfort.

I'm grateful for all the books I've received in the last year, and all the authors, publicists and publishers who send books, write blogs, share my love of books. Books are such an important part of my life. I'm thankful for the gift of books.

And, I'm thankful for all of you who read my blog, whether on a daily basis or once in a while. Thank you for being a blessing in my life. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

When you think Little Golden Books, you might think of books for children. But, Diane Muldrow's Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book is for memories and the child in all of us. If you had Little Golden Books in your childhood, these illustrations will bring back memories.

The story itself is nothing special, a story that says you could be cranky about the holidays, but you'd miss all the joy of family and faith. But, it's all those wonderful pictures that will make you nostalgic. The illustrations are all footnoted, telling what book they originally appeared in, the author and the illustrator. If you grew up to read Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web or Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, Garth Williams was the illustrator. He also illustrated Little Golden Books. Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, wrote Little Golden Books. And, Richard Scarry's adorable animals appeared in those books.

If The Poky Little Puppy and The Gingerbread Man makes you nostalgic, Muldrow's Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book will make you smile.

Diane Muldrow's website is

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. 2014. ISBN 9780375973741 (hardcover).

Library book

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Eve Story

Next week, I'm doing one of my brown bag lunches, this one featuring holiday books. I picked up some nonfiction titles that would fit the theme, beginning with In the Dark Streets Shineth. The subtitle is A 1941 Christmas Eve Story. It's a story told by David McCullough, one he told on PBS at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2009 Christmas concert.

Less than a month after Pearl Harbor, during Christmas week, a visitor traveled secretly to Washington, D.C. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt hosted the Christmas Eve lighting of the National Christmas Tree, he welcomed and introduced his guest, Prime Minister Winston Churchill. McCullough's account includes the speeches the two leaders made, speeches about the need for light in a dark world. And, he also includes the stories of two Christmas songs. Churchill first heard "O Little Town of Bethlehem" on Christmas day when he went to church with Roosevelt. The other song is "I'll Be Home for Christmas", a song written in 1942, expressing the longing for home.

In the Dark Streets Shineth is a tiny book filled with history. The two speeches are included, the history of the songs, and pictures from the war years. The pictures reflect the Christmases of those years, just as the book reflects the spirit.

The book is now a few years old, and not easily available. But, you can always get a copy from a library. The book includes the dvd of the program itself. Honestly? I'm always sappy when it comes to those kind of shows based on actual history. David McCullough brings Christmas 1941, and the war years, to life.

In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Eve Story as told by David McCullough. Shadow Mountain. 2010. ISBN 9781606418314 (hardcover)

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Chat-December Releases from Penguin's Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian

And, here they are - all fifteen titles covered today in the book chat. Jinx & I hope you enjoy them!

Murder, Served Simply - Isabella Alan - 3rd Amish Quilt Shop mystery
Keeper of the Castle - Juliet Blackwell - 5th Haunted Home Renovation mystery
Geared for the Grave - Duffy Brown - 1st Cycle Path mystery
Death With All the Trimmings - Lucy Burdette - 5th Key West Food Critic mystery
Eggs in a Casket - Laura Childs - 5th Cackleberry Club mystery (1st time in mass market)
Scorched Eggs - Laura Childs - 6th Cackleberry Club mystery (hardcover)
Mr. Monk is Open for Business - Hy Conrad - 18th Mr. Monk mystery
Inspector Spector - E.J. Cooperman - 6th Haunted Guesthouse mystery
Once Upon a Grind - Cleo Coyle - 14th Coffeehouse mystery (hardcover)
The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer - Krista Davis - 2nd Paws and Claws mystery
Aground on St. Thomas - Rebecca M. Hale - 3rd Mystery in the Islands
Spell Booked - Joyce & Jim Lavene - 1st Retired Witches mystery
Meow If It's Murder - T.C. LoTempio - 1st Nick & Nora mystery
Scandal at Six - Ann Purser - 13th Lois Meade mystery (1st time in mass market)
Suspicion at Seven - Ann Purser - 14th Lois Meade mystery (hardcover)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

Sarah Jio follows the wonderful Goodnight June with another enchanting, magical novel, The Look of
Love. Once again, she brings us a story filled with love and tears. And, even if the subject is romance and love, the happily ever afters are not quite what everyone will expect.

The story begins in Paris in 1893 with a flower seller named Elodie, a woman with a gift for love. And, it's that gift that will change the lives of a long line of other green-eyed women. For her Christmas birthday in 2012, florist Jane Williams receives a letter, a letter that tells her she has a gift, but one that could turn into a curse if she's not careful. When Jane and her assistant, Lo, go to visit Colette Dubois, Jane find the woman's story somewhat unbelievable. Colette said she was present in the hospital on the day Jane was born, and she gave her a gift, "The gift of being able to see all of its truth and beauty." Elodie had been given the gift by a Gypsy, but it came with strings attached. The recipient must identify the six types of love, and write the accounts of them, before her thirtieth birthday, or she will never experience love herself.

Jane, who has always feared love, now fears she will never find it. As she watches her friends fall in and out of love, while she herself falls for a science writer who doesn't believe in love, she worries she will always be alone in the world.

Jio's latest novel is a contemporary story of love, loss, and, at times, sacrifice. The author sets the story in Seattle, a city that seems to appeal to romantics. In this case, a small community of friends goes through a challenging year of romance while Jane Williams tries to observe with a critical eye, one blurred by the vision of love. Jio's characters are appealing, and readers will want to know what happens to Jane and her friends. It's easy to fall into this book with its likable characters and variety of romantic scenarios. The Look of Love is another satisfying story, one that will bring tears and smiles, from an author who is adept at manipulating our emotions, and our hearts.

Sarah Jio's website is

The Look of Love by Sarah Jio. Plume. 2014. ISBN 9780142180532 (paperback), 286p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Plagued by Quilt by Molly MacRae

Molly MacRae brings back textile historian Kath Rutledge, her "posse" of knitters, and Geneva, a ghost, in an intriguing mystery that combines family, history, and a cold case. Plagued by Quilt takes readers to a historic farm in Blue Plum, Tennessee, where murder and death is part of the history.

Kath and her needlework group, TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Fiber), agreed to teach a workshop at the Holston Homeplace Living History Farm. But, their crazy quilt can't compete with Phillip Bell, the dramatic assistant director. And, even he can't compete when one of the students finds bones. Kath's thoughts immediately turn to Geneva, the ghost who lives with her, but doesn't remember much about her past. Thoughts of a cold case excite the members of TGIF. And, then someone kills a member of the staff at the farm.

While Kath is convinced the primary suspect didn't kill anyone, she's more interested in the cold case and a possible connection to Geneva. But, she's also worried about Ardis, the store manager of The Weaver's Cat. Ardis, a member of the posse, seems to have some unusual reactions when Geneva is around. Kath worries that all of her projects might unravel at the same moment.

Molly MacRae's latest mystery is filled with humor, often at the expense of a local deputy, Cole Dunbar. While Kath dates his brother, Joe, she is easily riled when it comes to dealing with Cole. But, the mystery is filled with heart as well as humor. Kath's actions are often driven by her concern for Geneva. And, all of Kath's friends are people with lives that do not always permit them to slip off to play amateur sleuth. In other words, they seem to be real people who have to take care of elderly fathers or work.

Kath Rutledge is my kind of amateur sleuth. She only hides things from the police because Cole Dunbar won't listen to her, and sometimes mocks her ideas, pushing her out of the way. And, when she sets a trap for a killer, she calls on her friends, and doesn't try to do it alone. But, she does believe in unraveling the stories that will lead to the truth. "Give me a puzzle and eccentric bits and pieces of information, and I want to make a pattern - a pattern that solves the puzzle."

Plagued by Quilt offers a few puzzles for Kath and the reader. There are secrets to discover about the bodies, the current murder victim, and Geneva's past. And, Kath is still learning about her inherited talents, including the ability to "brush up against someone's emotional state by brushing against a fabric they wore". It's a story offering family secrets, historical ones, ghosts and murder. In other words, Molly MacRae offers readers the chance to make a pattern from the puzzle and "eccentric bits and pieces of information" that she provides. Plagued by Quilt is a crazy quilt puzzle with heart.

Molly MacRae's website is

Plagued by Quilt by Molly MacRae. Obsidian. 2014. ISBN 9780451471307 (paperback), 342p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.