Sunday, April 23, 2017

Have You Heard? Home for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell

Thank you to Sandie Herron for the review for Have You Heard?


Home for the Haunting
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51t9LpDZdUL._AA300_.jpgSeries:  Haunted Home Renovation Mystery #4
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged Audio, Listening Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Audible.com Release Date: December 3, 2013
ASIN: B00GY8D180


I loved this new entry in Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation Series. Mel Turner, general contractor, is working on a home for a disabled man who uses a wheelchair. They plan to build a ramp, several specific projects, and generally tidy up. Some of Mel's workers are at the house on a Saturday along with many neighborhood residents to help as best as they can.

Before the charity work can begin, Mel's sister Cookie arrives without her husband or children. She wants to show that she is important as Mel, so accompanies Mel all day to learn what her job is like.

Cookie shows how little she knows by wanting to just pop into numerous boutiques, eat out, and then go to Mel's evening class as well. In a comical scene, Mel tries to drop Cookie at a Bart station so she can get within a few blocks from home. Cookie objects so vociferously that she take Cookie part way home where she is picked up by family to get home.

The next day brings the charity work day. They soon discover that the house next door is known as the Murder House where a man shot his daughter and wife with his son and second daughter hiding in an upstairs bedroom. The father then shot himself, and the remaining children crawled out a window to escape and to gather help. Ghosts are known to exist there introduced by loud banging of the front door knocker in a repeating pattern.

Mel has begun working on learning more about ghosts via classes with a renowned professor on the subject. He helps Mel set up a séance on the 25th anniversary inside the Murder House. Mel has even become friendlier with the SFPD detective that seems to show up in each book.

I am truly impressed by how much Mel has grown, up to and including this book in the Haunted House Mystery series. This book could stand alone, but I believe it was so very much richer having read it in publication order, just as this series has become.

Sandie Herron

Saturday, April 22, 2017

No Saturday Post

No, nothing is wrong with me. But, last night, just as I sat down to dinner, the power went out. And, it didn't come back on until late in the evening. No power = no Internet = no opportunity to write the blog post.

Enjoy your Saturday, even if it's chilly and damp, as it is here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Winners and A Woo-Woo Mystery Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the copies of A Twist of the Knife. The ARCs are going to Kathy S. from Alba, TX, Doreen D. of Long Beach, CA, and Nancy M. fro Joliet, IL. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away cozy mysteries with a paranormal connection. Extra Sensory Deception is Allison Kingsley's Raven's Nest Bookstore Mystery. Cousins Stephanie and Clara Quinn are booksellers, and Clara has an ability to read minds and see the future. Clara's boyfriend invites her to the rodeo to meet a high school buddy and expert calf roper. But, Clara's reluctant when she has a vision involving a rodeo clown. Of course, there's a dead body, and Clara needs to use her Quinn Sense to keep that calf roper from prison.





Christy Fifield's Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery is Murder Ties the Knot. The tourist trade in Keyhole Bay, Florida may be slow, but souvenir shop owner Glory Martine has her hands full. She's juggling her best friend's wedding, a haunted parrot, and plans to catch a killer.

Which cozy mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. The subject line should read either "Win Extra Sensory Deception" or "Win Murder Ties the Knot." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only please. The giveaway will end Thursday, April 27th at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Are You Reading?

It's all up to you today. I'm in the middle of reading this month's pile of mysteries for the June 1 issue of Library Journal, so I can't really talk about my current book. You'll see all the books reviewed here sooner or later, though. So, just think, ten mystery reviews!

What are you reading? I'll jump in between meetings today, but I know I can count on some of you to get involved in the conversation. I love to see those titles. Thanks for reading with us!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Have You Heard? Tammy Kaehler's Dead Man's Switch

It's been a month since I shared one of Sandie Herron's Have You Heard? posts with you. Sandie listens to audiobooks, which I don't do. This is an opportunity for other listeners to discover titles they might have missed. Here's the note I run periodically before one of Sandie's reviews.

“Have You Heard?” is a column featured only on Lesa’s Book Critiques.  It features many reviews of audiobooks (fiction, with a concentration in mysteries) but these reviews will include recent and past books for an interesting mixture of titles. Content is usually written by Sandie Herron.  It also covers news of note and not generally available, such as ASAP publishing a limited edition for a certain author or perhaps something important out of Publisher’s Weekly.  The column is published sporadically, so you’ll want to watch for it!

Thank you, Sandie. (Racing fans may want to listen to this one.)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51YPmG%2BtO1L._AA300_.jpg*****
Dead Man’s Switch
Series: The Kate Reilly Mysteries, Book 1
Written by Tammy Kaehler, Narrated by Nicole Vilencia
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 53 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (August 2, 2011)
ASIN: B005FLLIQO
**** stars

Kate Reilly is looking for a “ride” at Lime Rock Park speedway in Lakeville, Connecticut on the 4th of July weekend where the American Le Mans series (ALMS) is racing its Corvettes.  Kate’s level of experience means that she must become a part of a racing team in order to be taken seriously as a driver.  Turning up at the track says that she is ready and willing just in case a team needs a driver.  

As luck would have it, Kate discovers a body by barely hitting it when she arrived and parked her car.  That body is Wade Becker, driver of the 28 Corvette on the Sandham Swift racing team.  She runs for help and finds Stuart Telardy, VP of operations and communications for ALMS, 33, and handsome.  When the police arrive, the detectives question her repeatedly, wondering why she had found Wade’s body.  She is incredulous when they ask for her alibi for the previous night.  At least she’d been with her friend Holly from Western racing team, who takes Kate under her wing after the police release her on that Saturday morning.

Jack Sandham finds Kate in Holly’s team’s paddock.  He hires Kate to drive for Wade for this race with possibilities for the remainder of the series.  Kate is thrilled when her dreams come true and she is hired as the second driver.   The rumor mill explodes, and Kate is considered a prime suspect in Becker’s murder.  However, Wade was not a popular driver, so many will not miss him.  They are happy to see what Kate can do.  Many others believe a woman does not make a good race driver and let her know it.  She’s a 24-year-old female who has been working her way up in the racing world since she was 12 years old.  But she knows she is stepping into a chaotic situation full of emotion.

Sandham Swift is a private team racing two C6R Corvettes purchased from the manufacturer, numbers 28 an 29.  The cars competed in GT1 (Grand Touring 1) along with large Ferraris, Vipers, Mazaradis, Astin Martins, and Selenes.  Other classes include the GT2 and Le Mans prototype classes 1 and 2.  Two drivers share the car in every race, with more drivers for longer races.  Kate had joined this team for the third stint at the end of Sebring’s 12-hour race the year before so knew the car, the team, the pit crew, the owner.  

Kate immediately meets with the crew, learning more about the car and the track.  She will only have an hour to practice in the car before the race.  She needed to convince the detectives she didn’t commit murder while getting to know the car and track as best she could.

When race time arrives, we are treated to a step-by-step rundown of what goes on inside the race car.  With each turn of the car, Kate describes the actions needed to navigate the turns, the straights, and pit lane.  She has done this a million times before she ever attempts it in the car.  It is as close to a personal tour of the track as the reader can get without being there.


Reviewed by Sandie Herron

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Cubs by Scott Simon

I'll admit I picked up Scott Simon's My Cubs: A Love Story because I enjoy Scott Simon as an NPR host. I've heard him speak before, and he's an excellent speaker who tells enjoyable stories. I like baseball, but I'm not one of those life-long Cubs fans. Simon, a Chicago resident, is. My Cubs is the story of his passion for the team, the people who love the Cubs, and even the history of the team.

Simon is proud of his allegiance. "I am a Cubs fan. A husband and father, an American, a Chicagoan, and a Cubs fan....But being a Cubs fan is my nature, my heritage, and probably somewhere in my chromosomes." He relates stories of growing up as a Cubs fan, attending games, listening to the sounds as he sat in classrooms. There's nostalgia and humor in all of his stories. There's humor even when you read the story of the Marine who survived Vietnam just to learn the Cubs blew it again in 1969.

Because Simon is a journalist and has a few connections with the Cubs, he's able to gather stories from everyone from that Santa Cubs fan to Tom Ricketts, one of the owners of the team. And, he tells of going to the White House with the team when President Obama welcomed them. He even rewrites poems to tell the story of the team and the players over the years.

"The Chicago Cubs - historically one of the most beloved, but easily the most cursed, hexed, and jinxed franchise in sports history." That's the team Scott Simon loves. He wasn't on the bandwagon. He shares intimate stories about his family, personal notes that show how important the team was to him, to his father, and, now, to his daughters. It's a charming, loving account, made even better by Gary Bullock's illustrations. If you love the Cubs, enjoy Scott Simon's stories, or appreciate sports storytelling, Scott Simon's My Cubs is a fan's enjoyable homage.

Scott Simon's website is www.ScottSimonBooks.com

My Cubs: A Love Story by Scott Simon. Blue Rider Press. 2017. ISBN 9780735218031 (hardcover), 145p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco

I'm the wrong demographic for Alyssa Mastromonaco's story of her time working for Barack Obama, in his Senate office, his political campaigns, and the White House. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is subtitled "And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Won in the White House". I guess I thought a forty-year-old would write a thoughtful book, maybe with some humor since it does have that title and jacket cover. But, it's really meant for fifteen to twenty-five-year-old young women to demonstrate the political opportunities out there. And, the humor and comments about knocking back a drink before every big event is definitely for a younger demographic.

Mastromonaco was one of the youngest women ever to be a deputy chief of staff for the President of the United States. Her first two years of college showed her politics could be exciting. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in political science. She was a press secretary for a congressman, then scheduler for Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign. When she was asked to work in Senator Barack Obama's office after Kerry's run was over, she was hopeful. "I really wanted to work for Obama. After the brutal Kerry defeat, I especially wanted to work for someone who was not going to run for president."

The book is about Mastromonaco's hectic life as first the director of scheduling, and then Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. If at times, it seems overwhelming, it was. The author is quite honest about the lack of sleep, the busy schedule, the improper diet, one crisis after another. She's honest about her admiration for President Obama. And, she tells how she just wore out in the job, and needed to quit.

Alyssa Mastromonaco found she had to break ground for other women at times. Facilities in the White House were not exactly what one would expect. As I said, the book was not targeted to women my age. Even so, I found the behind-the-scenes glimpses fascinating as the author toiled in a vital job that only becomes visible to the public when something goes wrong. She succeeded beautifully, if not always easily, as she relates in Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco with Lauren Oyler. Twelve. 2017. ISBN 9781455588220 (hardcover), 248p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book