Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review #96: Hide by Jeff Foxworthy (Children's Book)

Hide !!! Jeff Foxworthy
Genre: Children's Book, ages 4-8
Publisher: Beaufort Books
(Copy compliments of publisher. Thank you!)

Description from Amazon:

On a Saturday morning
Like many before
The kids were all restless.
In fact, they were bored.

It had finally stopped raining
After nearly a week
Then they had an idea,
"Let's play hide-and-seek!"

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy tells the story of a neighborhood hide-and-seek game and invites readers to join in! With vivid illustrations and a hearty dose of silliness, each page includes a hidden child, a seeker, and other objects for kids to find.

Can you help Rachel Green find Sue, along with one raccoon, two spoons, three mops, four flip flops?

Hide!!! is guaranteed to charm readers of all ages.

My Thoughts:

When the opportunity comes up to review a children's book, I usually jump at the chance. Having at toddler who loves to read stories, I am always looking for new stories to read at night time.
Though this one was cute and colorful, I would not recommend it for a bedtime read. There is a lot of activity going on on each page and it requires a bit of attention and collaboration on the part of the reader. It was a little over the head of my two year old though we did scale it down a bit and he did enjoy it. I liked the seek and find on each page. That was fun. I like the colorful illustrations and the neighborhood feel of friends and community.

Rating: 4 stars/6 stars
Definitely for a bit older reader like it says. 4 years to maybe 6 years, in my opinion. When I saw the picture book format, I automatically assumed it would be a "story" to read instead of seek and find. Still fun, however. It will keep an interested child entertained!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Over the weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Evita on the stage. Minneapolis/St.Paul is fortunate to have many theaters that host fantastic shows each and every month. Unfortunately I can not afford to go see very many these days but I do try to make it to atleast a few each year.

Spring Awakening was my first choice because it was such a limited run but when I saw Evita was here, I jumped on that one! Tickets were only $40 , I could not say no.

I went with my theater buddy, Kari who also saw A Streetcar Named Desire with me this summer. We had table seats off to the side and it was absolutely lovely!
She was a good date! (wink)

My experience with Evita was only from the movie of the same name with Madonna as Eva Peron. I loved the music and the history and the politics of it all. The more "popular" songs were always on the Andrew Lloyd Webber compilations I had as a teen.

Here's a brief synopsis from Wikipedia:

Evita is a musical production, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita's early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death.

Evita began as a rock opera concept album released in 1976. Its success led to productions inLondon's West End in 1978, and on Broadway a year later, both of which enjoyed considerable success. A major 1996 film of the musical was made, starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas. The musical was revived in London in 2006. Evita has been given numerous professional tours and worldwide productions, and numerous cast albums have been recorded.

and a video clip from the movie.

All in all, a lovely way to spend an evening! Highly recommended.

Thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

I was so happy to finally see it on the stage.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review #95: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin
1999 National Book Award Finalist
Price/Pages: $8.99/198

My Thoughts:

Back in May when I returned from New York and BEA, I changed the genres that I would be reviewing on this blog. Up until that point I had been reviewing everything I was reading and that included many different genres. I felt my blog was a bit all over the place and my reading was getting a little busy with review requests. My TBR pile of books I was dying to read was growing and sadly being ignored. So I decided to stick to focusing on my three favorite genres. I've mentioned them before; they are literary fiction, mystery/thrillers and memoirs.

Though I do love Young Adult novels, I decided there were plenty of YA blogs out there who were doing that genre some serious justice.
I would continue reading but I would not review on this blog.

And, of course, this is my blog and I can change my mind at any time, right?


Well, just for today I am making an exception in posting a review for Speak, the marvelous novel by Laurie Halse Anderson.

I should have read this years ago and admittedly I picked it up because of the controversy surrounding it during Banned Books Week. Here is an article at the Huffington Post explaining it all. Like any other banned book, this ticks me off. Especially with the recent rash of teen suicides happening, we need books like this that speak the truth of what is happening or could happen to our kids.

Here's the synopsis from the back cover:

"Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth."

I will give away a spoiler. That "something" is a rape.

The thing that I liked about this book was how it played out. You don't really find out what happened to Melinda until the end. It flows during the course of her first year in high school and it's written in short paragraphs. You see high school through her eyes and her observations are dead on. I haven't been in high school for (cough) some time now but boy does Anderson capture the mind of a teenage girl beautifully. The insecurity, the emotion, the apathy, the sweetness, the hope. It was extraordinary to read such a vivid, real portrait of the the teenage mind.

Here are just a few lines that really blew me away and my reactions after reading them.

"Gym should be illegal. It is humiliating" (pg. 18)
Uh, yeah...I was the skinny kid with the heart condition no one ever picked for their team. .

"I have been dropped like a hot Pop Tart on a cold kitchen floor." (pg.21)
A teenage girl can cut another girl down in an instant.

"They call me Me-no-linda for the rest of the period. This is how terrorists get started, this kind of harmless fun." (pg. 42)
It's like kicking puppies. If you are a bully as a child, chances are you will grow into a bullying adult. Not always but I do agree with bad behavior starts somewhere and it doesn't always develop into good.

"You never think about the mall being closed. It's always supposed to be there, like milk in the refrigerator or God. " (pg.98)
This just made me laugh because as a teen I had no awareness for how the real world worked. If I wanted to go some where, wasn't it just supposed to be opened and ready for me?

I could post 100s of lines and my book got so full they kept falling out so I am not including a bunch. You will just have to read it and discover its power.

I believe Anderson has written a must read for all teenagers, girls especially. Yes, it has to with rape. Do young girls get raped by teenage boys? yes. Yes, it's about bullying and peer pressure. Does that happen? Um, yes. Yes, it's about dysfunctional families. Are those out there? Yep!

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
The voice of this book is so vivid and raw and honest and sincere that I felt so much while reading it. It spoke to me in the way Are you there God, it's me Margaret? (though that was a tad lighter). I applaud Laurie Halse Anderson for writing such a real account of a teenager.
This should not be banned (nor should any book but that's another post).
It's so easy for you to go inward when you are a teen. Sometimes it's a book, or music, or a movie that pulls teens out of their shell. We need books like this to Speak out about the real life of our teens.
Highly recommended.

Author Website:

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review #94: The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro (BLOG TOUR)

The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Avon
Price/Pages: $13.99/379

My thoughts:

Crumbling estate: check
Tortured sisters: check
Secretive protaganist: check
Secrets items hidden in old bookshelf: check
London setting: check

Okay, so you got me. It doesn't take much more to convince me to read a book if you have the above items involved. Thank you to TLC Book Tours for introducing this book and this author to me.

Cate is a young woman artist running from a horrible past. She flees to London to work for her aunt. Her assignment is to help her aunt's assistant, Jack, inventory all of the items going to auction at an old estate called Endsleigh House. The house was owned by the Blythe sisters; Diana (also called Baby) and Irene. Though they were born poor their mother married a very rich man in her second marriage and the Blythe sisters were thrown into the fashionable debutante society of London in the 1930s. Irene was the reserved, mature one; Baby was the wild card whom everyone loved.

Sound like a familiar plot line? Well, yes but I enjoyed it anyway. Cate eventually finds some interesting items hidden away in a locked room. She steals them and becomes a bit obsessed with tracking down the owners and the mystery behind these sisters. Turns out, Baby disappeared and no one knows what happened to her.

On top of this story, you also get Cate's drama and the past she is running from or I should say, the man she is running from. She begins a friendship with Jack and they go back and forth with their fondness for one another. Both have pain from their past and both are unsure of what to do with the other but they have a delicious dialogue that I really enjoyed reading. Witty, charming, sweet and full of promise.

Nothing gets wrapped up quickly with this mystery or with their budding relationship. Tessaro weaves back and forth in time, sprinkles letters from Baby to Irene in the mix and by the end the mystery is solved and see for yourself about the relationship. (no spoilers)

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
This was a enjoyable, fast read. It had the potential to be a stellar, meaty novel but it wasn't. It did have the darkness throughout with the mystery of the sisters and the definite pain Cate was feeling throughout but it was written in a simple enough style that you didn't feel like you were reading an enormous character sketch.
I thought I would be a bit more harsh on this one because it sounds familiar to the story lines of Kate Morton but I wasn't. I enjoyed it. It had the drama but the humor and lightness of the relationship between Cate and Jack gave it a sweeter feel.
Recommended for fans of Adriana Triginai or Anita Shreve

Book Club Note:
It has a little fluff feel to it so I don't know how much discussion could come of it.
Still fun, though.

Author Info:
Kathleen Tessaro is the author of the novels Elegance, Innocence and The Flirt. She lives in Pennsylvania. She has worked in as an actress in films, television, and theater.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, October 26th: Write Meg

Wednesday, October 27th: Daydream Believer

Tuesday, November 2nd: Hospitable Pursuits

Wednesday, November 3rd: Confessions of a Bookaholic

Monday, November 8th: Bookstack

Tuesday, November 9th: Life in the Thumb

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review #93: Chosen by Chandra Hoffman

Chosen by Chandra Hoffman
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price/Pages: $25.99/304

My Thoughts:

It may come as a surprise but I rarely have time to browse bookstores anymore. It's down to maybe once a month now and when I do, I rarely buy anything. Call it being poor, or having a massive TBR list or requesting lots from the library, but my buying habit has dried up a bit.
Even though rare, i still love to browse, coffee in hand and a pen and paper in the other.

I stumbled across this book at a Barnes and Noble while hanging with a friend (who bought 8 books that day so she made up for me!). It was on the new fiction display and admittedly the picture of the little kid holding the adult's hand caught my eye!

Seeing that it was about adoption I immediately thought, "this is a book I should read". I have a few friends who have gone through the adoption process and some that are still waiting. The topic is one that fascinates me.

This book was not a lengthy time consumer for me but it was heavy in it's material. I had to put it down a few times because the emotions were so raw and I felt I needed a little processing time.

Chloe Pinter is the director the Chosen Child's domestic adoption program. She has brought families together working with many biological and adoptive parents. Though stressful, she loves her job and works hard for her clients.

Chosen centers around not only Chloe but the lives of three of her clients.
The Novas are a well off couple who after years of working with Chloe they get pregnant on their own. Delighted to be parents finally, they come to struggle with the demands on their marriage.
The McAdoos are another couple, who have tried everything to become parents and after several unsuccessful adoption attempts, seem to have found the one. Frannie McAdoo is anxious, tenacious and vigilant about becoming a mother. She writes frantically on the message boards for adopted families hoping to finally have that story to tell, sharing the "Yes, we have a baby!" moment. Her husband John quietly stands quietly behind his wife and harbors a devastating secret.
And then we have Jason and Penny and the baby that is meant to be for the McAdoos. They are young, poor, uneducated, drug addicted ready to take any scrap they get; money, food, a way out.

Their intersecting stories play out a dramatic tale of hope and horror; loss and gain; anxiety and fear; right and wrong.

Like I said above, I had to put this one down a few times. Having a child, I could feel the desire in some of these characters in their anxiety to start a family. I could feel their frustration when they knew they had to completely leave it in the hands of strangers. I felt the immense anger at those who could easily conceive a child and then recklessly care for it and themselves.

The Author's note in the end summarizes that she did not want to paint a portrait of black and white, hero or villain but show the many sides of gray that the world of adoption creates.

This is her first novel and I would say she is off to a good start. Her past experience includes that of a director of a US Adoption program in Portland and you can see that she is very familiar with the politics behind it all.

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
Because of its graphic nature and emotional story lines, I would rate this at a 4: Recommended but with caution. It combines a fair amount of a thriller/suspense feel with that of a solid novel. It will get you thinking about your role as a parent and what lengths you would go to for a child.

Book Club Note:
I just had a lengthy conversation about the adoption process with my husband tonight over dinner so I think Book Clubs would have a fair amount to discuss. It brings up questions about so many things; what defines the role of a parent, the politics of "baby buying", and the financial investment of children.

Author Website:

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review #92: Dewey's Nine LIves by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

Dewey's Nine Lives by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0-525-95186-5
Price/Pages: $19.95/ 320

My thoughts and description:

Honestly this is not the kind of book I normally read. I would not even classify it, so much, as a memoir but it does tell nine true life stories so...I'm calling it that!

For those of you new to the world of Dewey, let me give a little back story. Dewey was a kitten when he was abandoned in the book drop of a small town library in Iowa many years ago.
He was found by the head librarian, Vicki Myron when she came in to work the next day. No one knew how he got there; whether it was an act of kindness of someone's part and an attempt to rescue the little guy from the cold OR if it was a stinker wanting to hurt him.
Either way, Dewey became a huge presence in this little library and remained for over 20 years. He was loved, adored, cuddled, and admired by staff and patrons.
When he passed away, the community truly felt the loss, especially Vicki Myron who had essentially taken Dewey under her wing.

Along this time Dewey began to get some media attention; first a home town news piece, then international. Soon book offers came and
Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World was written.
It became an enormous success and stayed on the bestseller lists for quite some time.

During the height of this success, I was fortunate enough to host an autograph signing event with Vicki Myron. She was pleasant, friendly, reserved and kind; a librarian all the way. (now that I work at one, I can safely say that without sounding weird!). She was a pleasure to host.

Long story short, when I was asked to review the new book I decided I'd give it a shot. I like the story of Dewey. I really liked Vicki Myron. I love cats. I went with it!

This book, though still vibrantly full of Dewey and his life, tells nine separate stories of people and their relationships with their cats. They were carefully selected by Vicki and all tell of not only a strong love for your pet but also the strength of the relationship between humans and pets.

Here's my own little cat story.
I am a huge animal lover. I have always had cats except for one very long year when I lived in a dorm at college. Every other year of my life, I've always had a cat around.
When I was 19 I went to the city pound with my pal and new roommate, Angie. We wanted to get a cat for each of us. We were ready to be adults and to give a cat a home.
We went to the saddest place on earth, the crusty, dirty city pound. There I found the biggest, fluffiest, dirtiest, loudest cat and paid my $25 and took him home!
I named him Jack Slyvester (because he was black and white) and he was mine for 10 years.
When he had to be put down, due to bladder cancer, I cremated him and put him in an urn which I still have in my room.
Our bond was special, noticeable to all around and missed greatly still to this day.

I now have two very loud, crazy cats which, well...could take up several posts!

But anyway, my point is that, this book is incredibly relatable to me and will be to many readers. I would not seek to read this type of book really ever again but I appreciate and support the emotion and love it brings.

Rating: 5 stars/6 stars
For the reason above, I rate it a 5, highly recommended. It's not necessary to read cover to cover all in one sitting. I did not. But if you want a heartwarming story to lift you up or to just feel sweet for a moment, then pick it up.

Book Club Note:
I don't know how much honest discussion this would bring regarding the actual novel but it will bring up your own pet story (you know you have one!). That could be fun but I would not recommend for a book club choice.

Dewey's website

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Another mention for Dogtown by Elyssa East

Last year around this time, I picked Dogtown to read as part of the R.I.P challenge. I wanted to throw something new in the mix and this story of a spooky New England Ghost town and the murder that happened there, seemed a perfect choice.

Well, it's now out in paperback and it has also been awarded the 2010 L.L Winship/ PEN New England Award for Nonfiction. Pretty exciting I think.

If you are looking for a different kind of ghost story this Halloween I would recommend it again! Here's my review from last year.

Also, at the bookstore I work at we are featured in our local news morning TV show. Every month or so, our manager goes on and talks about the new and cool books coming out that month. This month's theme is Spooky reads. I suggested this one, in addition to others I can't remember now. Hopefully it will bring it a little more attention!

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Review #91: Day after Night by Anita Diamant

Day After Night by Anita Diamant
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Scribner
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9985-5
Price/Pages: $15.00/292

My thoughts:

Like many I was taken by Anita Diamant's first novel, The Red Tent. It was compelling and different from a lot of the books I was reading at that time. Even though she has written several other books since, I have not picked another up until just a few weeks ago.

Though I would not rate Day After Night as high as I would The Red Tent, I would say it was still a well written novel about a time I know very little about.

It is set in October 1945 at an internment camp, a prison for "illegal" immigrants run by the British military. Told from the perspectives of four very different women, this novel holds a lot of weight and emotion in it. The four women have all suffered, survived and lost during the Holocaust and come together at this camp to "move on".
Though treated well, they still are essentially prisoners. All struggle with overcoming the tragedies of their past and eventually lean on one another for support and hope.

I would not say I have read a ton about the Holocaust; a very novels and memoirs here and there. I admit, I struggle with wanting to know more but at the same time, horrified to read such stories. Recently I had read Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay which knocked me over in the emotion department. It was really hard to read such tales of horror and loss.

This particular novel did not leave me with such a heavy heart. Because it took place after the Holocaust, there was a feel throughout that things would eventually get better. The horrors of the past weren't overly dwelled on.

I found myself learning quite a bit about that time; the politics of the British, the promises made to many Jews, and the land of Israel. The four women were compelling and offered a varied insight into that time.

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
I would not say I would be quick to recommend to every reader out there. I would, however, certainly suggest it to those who have a interest in Jewish history. It was well written and obviously well researched considering Anita Diamant is also the author of several nonfiction guides to Jewish life.

Book Club Note:
This is one of those novels that you can pretty much guarantee strong discussion at a book club. I have suggested to my own and they are pondering it as we speak. Aside from the massive topic of the Holocaust, during and after, you have the lives of these women to dissect and discuss. I would recommend it as a stellar choice for a book club.

Author Website:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review #90: Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen
Genre: Mystery
Series: Eve Duncan series
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 978-0-312-65119-0
Price/Pages: $27.99/384
Release Date: October 19

My Thoughts and Description:

Surprisingly in all my years of working in bookstores and being a mystery lover, I have never picked up an Iris Johansen book. She's only written about...oh, 40 books or so. I just figured she'd always be there to some day pick up. I finally found that day.

Chasing the Night is her latest installment in her Eve Duncan series. Eve is a Forensic Sculptor who pieces together the bones of the dead, reconstructing them in
hopes to identify them.
She is very good at what she does and because of it, she is kept very busy.

Having never read any of the other books in the series, I got a small glimpse into Eve's world and personality. She has a lover, Joe Quinn, who happens to be a tough good looking cop (gotta love those). She has an adopted daughter Jane who she rarely sees. And she has a ghost...of her abducted daughter Bonnie, taken from her years ago. Her disappearance was never solved and it haunts Eve all these years later.
She uses that pain to guide her and motivate her to find the identity of her victims, mostly children. She wants to give the hurting parents the closure she never had.

I think I may like Eve. I think I may want to go back and read more about her. I didn't necessarily feel like I was missing out on a whole lot for this particular book but for my own weirdness in reading books in order, I may go back and see how it all started.

Chasing the Night matches Eve up with Catherine Ling, a troubled woman who is searching for her own lost child, Luke. Luke was taken when he was 2 by a Russian gangster that Catherine had brought down during her time in the CIA. Rakovac, the gangster, has been baiting Catherine for years, torturing her by not telling her whether Luke is alive or dead.

Catherine is determined to end this game and find her son, nine years later. She approaches Eve, knowing she can help her do an age progression on Luke. Eve is known for caring for her subjects, especially children, and will stop at nothing to help.

Though hesitant at first, Eve agrees to help Catherine in the initial age progressionn. Ultimately they become friends and Eve takes it even further and goes with Catherine to find Luke and kill Rakovac.

This book was definitely fast paced but a bit too full of espionage for me. I was more interested in Catherine and her son and what Eve did for a living. That was the intriguing part. It got a little too involved with the business of Rakovac, the CIA, the terriorism, etc. I find myself wanting to watch movies like that but not really wanting to read books that involve too much of that kind of storyline.

That was really my only issue with it. It seems Iris Johansen can piece together a heart pounding thriller. As a mother, she could really tear at your heart strings with the pain these mothers go through. There are a whole mess of side characters that come in that really make it more involved. Joe Quinn, Eve's lover, was by far, the most intriguing, in my opinion.
I just love those rugged cops!

Rating: 4 stars/ 6 stars
I would recommend it for thriller fans. It definitely has more of an edgy feel to it with all of the hopping from country to country and the terror threats and the CIA involvement. I am a fan of tough female characters and Eve Duncan certainly fits that. I am certainly going to look into her early books in this series.

Author Website:

Thanks to Ann Marie from Get Red PR for allowing me the chance to finally read Iris!

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review #89: Composed by Roseanne Cash

Composed by Roseanne Cash
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0-670-02196-3
Price/Pages: $26.00/244

My Thoughts and Description:

I always feel like I am really behind on my memoir reading. I have a list a mile long of individuals, some famous, some not, of whom I admire and wish to read about.
Sadly, I don't get to too many of them. I could not pass this one up, however, no matter how busy my reading life has been.

Roseanne Cash comes from a family of performers that I have listened to, admired, worshipped, grew up with, my whole life. Johnny Cash, her father and June Carter, her stepmother, have been on my turntables, my cassette tape players and my CD players over the years. The music of Johnny Cash was passed down by my own father. The Carter family and June are performers I discovered in my early twenties and have since collected all their music.
Though I did not grow up in the south, I grew up in a small country town listening to country music.

I discovered Roseanne Cash in the late 80s and have since followed her career.
I was fortunate to see her perform in concert during her tour for the album, Black Cadillac. This album was even more personal for her because it was around the same time she had lost her father, June, her stepsister and then her mother.

Composed is a wonderfully intricate, deeply personal account of Roseanne's life. She touches on her relationships with her parents, her stepmother, her husbands and her children. Woven within these stories, you discover her journey through her music and her role as a writer and artist. Genuinely down to earth, her writing voice is so honest you don't feel you are reading a bio of the daughter of a true music icon. She is simply a woman, a daughter, a wife, a sister just trying to make sense of it all.

Rating: 6 stars/6 stars
Well written memoir of a life in progress. Roseanne Cash is a true musician and a true storyteller. It was a pleasure to get to read her stories in addition to listening to her songs.


Here is one of my favorite songs of Johnny Cash, sung by Roseanne.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review #88: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria (Simon and Schuster)
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5278-2
Price: $26.00
Release Date: November 9, 2010

Description from Review Copy:

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old estate, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted fifty years before as a thirteen-year-old girl during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn't been the same since her fiance' jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in "the distant hours" of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

My Thoughts:


Well, friends, I must say I am horribly saddened that this book had to end. How does one write a review for a book that was more magnificent than words could describe?

No, I'm not working for Kate Morton.

But I would, if she asked me. I'd shine her bloody shoes, for crying out loud.
Her books are that beautiful and brilliant.

I have written a few posts about Morton and her other novels and also about my excitement and anticipation for this current one. It is truly a wonderful event to find an author who writes so consistently and exceptionally. You crack open that first page and you are swallowed whole by a wave of literary joy.

Kate Morton writes epic, grand character driven novels that are large in size but crafted so delicately it's as if you are piecing together a 1000 piece puzzle.

The sisters Blythe are the core of this novel.
The twins; quiet and rigid Percy; warm and forgiving Saffy and the third, much younger sister-the mysterious and secluded Juniper.

Their father Raymond Blythe is the famous author of The True History of the Mud Man. His life has its ups and downs and his presence fills the castle. After he dies, Percy carries on and cares for her sisters and the decaying home.

Percy wants nothing to do with life outside Milderhurst. Saffy wants only to flee but suffers from the weight of obligation towards her sisters.
Juniper lives within her own world and rarely bothers with rules.

Meredith, the young girl that comes to stay with them, changes the dynamic and ultimately will be the key that unlocks their secrets years down the road.

Juniper and Meredith become close friends. Juniper confides to Meredith that she is in love. The year is 1941 and she waits for her soldier to come home to marry her.

Fast forward to present day where we find Edie, Meredith's daughter. Through the arrival of a letter to Meredith, Edie discovers a past that she knew nothing of involving her mother and these sisters. Unable to get much out of her mother, Edie hesitantly begins to investigate. When she discovers Milderhurst, she is drawn in. What starts as a simple house tour, becomes a nail biting mystery of what really happened in 1941 that changed the course of not only the sisters but her mother as well.

Edie became a favorite of mine. She is strong willed, wicked smart and a little uncomfortable with herself at times. Her favorite childhood book was The True History of the Mud Man by Raymond Blythe, so her fascination with the family grows with each new finding.

A glimpse inside these characters lies in a few of my favorite lines.
(all quotes subject to change. from review copy)

"I bristled. it gets tiresome being everybody's ingenue." (Edie)
"Oh, frightful vanity, fishing for a compliment! She was right to ignore me." (Edie)

"The rules,' he'd say "they're different for people like you, Juniper. For people like us." (Raymond to Juniper)

""I'm an old lady, you know. I can't be relied upon to remember where I left you." (Percy)
HA! I love Percy.

They each had such a bright light, even in the darkness of their story, these characters were rich and well thought out. A simply divine book is all I can say.
To ramble on more would be pointless. Please see for yourself and mark
November 9 on your calendar.

The Distant Hours is a novel that holds mystery, romance, history, horror and fantasy. It holds, for me, many post it notes, coffee stains and dog eared sections.
I gave it love and it gave back.

I hope you all have a little love to give.

Rating: 6 stars/ 6 stars
I would rate this with 10 stars if I could change my rating system again and again.
A heartbreaking and heartwarming character driven novel that begs you to stay, even in the wee hours of morning. I found it impossible to put down, each page revealing more of what lurked behind the shadows.

Book Club Note:
This is one to gush over. Pour one more glass of wine, eat one more decadent cookie and savor retelling this story. It will stir up questions about loyalty and obligation; the strength of the heart and mind, and the profound power of loss. What secrets do we carry with us?

Author Website:

The Distant Hours will be available
at Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon; to name a few.

Thank you so much to Wendy at Simon and Schuster for remembering how much I love Kate Morton and for not being annoyed with my emails asking "Is it out yet?"

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review #87: Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier

Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier
(A Lucy Stone Mystery)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-2929-8
Price/Pages: $24.00/298
Available at Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon

Description from Goodreads:

With planning the town's annual Halloween Party, the drought wreaking havoc on her garden, and her brood of four children, Lucy Stone's got her hands full this fall. As the air turns crisp and the trees blaze red and gold in the tiny town of Tinker's Cove, Maine, a newcomer arrives who seems to suit the Halloween season. Diana Ravenscroft has just opened Solstice, a charming little shop featuring candles, crystals, jewelry, and psychic readings. But after an unnervingly accurate reading by Diana, Lucy starts to get more than a little spooked.

Then there's the dead body Lucy finds, way up on one of the old logging roads behind her house. The deceased is identified as Malcolm Malebranche, a seemingly harmless magician who worked at children's birthday parties. When it turns out that Diana knew the murder victim, Ike Stoughton, a prominent local businessman, starts a campaign against Diana, blaming 'the witch' for everything from the unseasonal dry spell to his wife's illness and his pumpkins' lack of plumpness. But Lucy's not so sure that Ike himself is innocent. Still, as the town Halloween party approaches, Lucy's more concerned about the costume competition, pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin, and baking three dozen orange cupcakes and Beastly Bug cookies. But as the October moon rises, a killer plans a lethal celebration of his own and Lucy's the guest of honor.

My Review:

I participated in a Fall/Winter Mystery Challenge last year that made me read mysteries taking place around the holidays. You could pick from Autumn/Halloween to Valentine's Day. I chose Leslie Meier's murder mysteries because they were appropriately titled with Holiday names. I started with Back to School Murder, Trick or Treat Murder, Turkey Day Murder, Christmas Cookie Murder and so on and so forth. They were all fun and super easy to read, not leaving me much to "review". But I was left with a good feeling and silly new series to read when I was in the mood for something light.
Well, no challenge this year but I have been in the mood for a cozy mystery to gear me up for Halloween. This one is brand new and fits the bill completely! Lucy dives into the drama of having a witch in town and the bad things that start happening to her friends and neighbors.

Rating: 4 stars/6 stars
Do not expect a hard boiled murder mystery, nor a completely fluff cozy. I was impressed with this one a bit more. Leslie Meier has improved her stories, her character development of Lucy and the other town characters. I really liked it! Recommended for a Halloween cozy! I would probably start with her Trick or Treat Murder since it's really early on in the series and you get to know Lucy a bit more and see how she's grown.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child