Sunday, December 30, 2012

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline




Rose McKeena was working as a volunteer “lunch mom” the day her daughter’s elementary school exploded. Melly, a sweet, shy third grader, was born with a portwine stain birthmark that acts like a bull’s eye for the school bullies. When the tragedy happened, Rose was trying to talk to the girls who were picking on her daughter and had sent her fleeing the cafeteria to hide in the bathroom. This left rose in the unenviable position of having to choose between seeing the mean girls to safety or saving her own child’s life.

Acting swiftly, Rose escorted the girls to what she thought was safety, to a hallway where a teacher was supervising evacuation, and then ran to save Melly. But Amanda, the ringleader, unbeknownst to Rose, ran back into the cafeteria to retrieve her iPod and was injured.

At first Rose is lauded as a hero—five minutes more in the smoke-filled bathroom and Melly would have died—but then accusations arise, and Amanda’s mom blames Rose for her daughter’s injuries. As the press digs in, and there is talk of a trial, secrets from Rose’s past emerge and the strain begins to tell on her marriage.

This was my first Lisa Scottoline novel, so I don’t know if this is typical of her, but if she had continued in this same vein I think I would have enjoyed the book far more. I thought it was an engrossing drama about a woman’s whole life turned upside down by a tragedy and was eager to see how it would all turn out. But then it all changed. When the plot turned to a conspiracy about chocolate-filled pretzel nuggets being made on equipment contaminated by peanuts at the big multimillion dollar snack food company that employs many locals, a cover-up, bribery, and the explosion at the school being a failed attempt on the life of a senator’s pregnant mistress who is the special education teacher there, I just wanted to get off the roller coaster.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tabby's Christmas Pics

I know I went a little overboard with the presents this year, but she's the only one I have to love.






















Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Dog Who Danced by Susan Wilson


Justine Meade has only ever loved two people in her life—her son Tony and her gray and black Sheltie Mack. And she lost them both. Tony, during a rebellion teenage phase, when she thought a summer with his father might help, and he ended up deciding not to come back. And Mack, during a cross-country trip to her childhood home to see her dying father. When Justine lingered too long in the bathroom, Artie, the truck driver who was giving her a ride, drove off without her, and abandoned Mack on the road.

Desperate to find her dog, Justine hitches a ride with a one-legged Harley riding violinist, and tries to catch up with Artie. Meanwhile, Mack is taken in by Alice and Ed Parmalee, a couple still grieving the suicide of their only daughter, a miracle baby born when Alice was forty and had given up all hope of ever having a child.

Mack brings the light back into the Paramlee’s lives and they make only a half-hearted attempt to reunite him with his real owner. For them it is a real struggle, to do what they know in their hearts is right, or to keep the dog that has brought joy back into their lives and brought them back together when they were drifting further and further apart.

If you like sentimental, bittersweet, heartwarming reads, and/or animal stories, this just may be the book for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Amazon and B&N Now Accepting Pre-Orders For The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy


As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable... 

 Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand. 

 A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

To pre-order from Barnes & Noble go to:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-queens-rivals-brandy-purdy/1114002469?ean=9780758265999&itm=1&usri=9780758265999

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash




Nine-year-old Jess Hall is a curious lad who loves to spy on grownups. He is particularly protective of his mute, autistic older brother “Stump.” This book tells the dramatic repercussions that follow when “Stump” sees something he shouldn’t and is then subjected to a “healing” at the snake-handling church his mother belongs to, during which he is killed.

Three narrators move this page turner quickly along. The first is Jess, the second is the town midwife, Adelaide, who left the church and took its children with her, and the sheriff, Clem, who has a painful past of his own. Through their eyes we see the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following and its charismatic charlatan pastor Carson Chambliss, who urges his congregation to prove their faith by taking up serpents and drinking strychnine, and handling fire. They speak in tongues, lay on hands to heal, and gyrate to pulsing music, and when something goes wrong they decline medical intervention.

This book was very hard to put down and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking something different in a mystery or a thriller.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coming in July 2013 The Queen's Rivals A Novel of The Grey Sisters by Brandy Purdy


As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable... 

 Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand. 

 A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Tsar’s Dwarf by Peter H. Fogtdal


Sorine Bentsdatter, is a tough, peppery, sarcastic, independent, and proud little dwarf woman who doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. She has no time for sentimentality and sees the world and the people in it for what they really are.

When the King of Denmark gives her to Tsar Peter the Great, Sorine is sent to Russia to join Peter’s collection of dwarves and other human oddities.  There, renamed Surinka, she meets the Tsar’s favorite dwarf, the perpetually cheerful Lukas. Surinka is infuriated by his habit of always looking on the bright side, but in spite of herself she succumbs to him.  But life in Russia is hard, and Surinka is haunted by the ghost of “the scoundrel” the n’er-do-well drunken lover she lived with who fathered the hare-lipped baby she sacrificed to the river.

She eventually grows disenchanted with Russia and runs away. She attaches herself to a noble family and becomes a combination governess/jester for their children, until the children grow up and lose interest in her, then she boards a ship back to Denmark, arriving just in time to see the Great Fire sweep through Copenhagen, supposedly as God’s punishment for the people’s sins.

 This was an interesting novel, a lot of historical fiction is very pretty, the clothes, the d├ęcor, and jewels, but this was more gritty, and the narrator had a more cantankerous and sarcastic voice, which was, in its way, a breath of fresh air. Sorine/Surinka and her actions weren’t always likeable, but she was definitely a fascinating character.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cover Art For The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy




THE QUEEN'S RIVALS by Brandy Purdy

In an age when royal blood can be as much a danger as a blessing, Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, Katherine and Mary, are pawns for unscrupulous men. Jane lives for learning and tries to hide her beauty beneath plain clothes. But her parents’ ambitions compel Jane to marry the frivolous Guildford Dudley. When Dudley’s father persuades Edward VI to make Jane his heir and disinherit the princesses Mary and Elizabeth, her fate is sealed…


Jane’s younger sisters have never coveted a crown, yet they are seen as possible rivals for Elizabeth’s throne. Forbidden to marry, they are kept at court under the Queen’s watchful eye. But love will prove too powerful a lure to resist, and each struggles to choose her own destiny—while keeping her life.

To be published in July in the USA and in August as THE FALLEN QUEEN by Emily Purdy in the UK.

I will post a better quality image when I receive one from the publisher.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rival To The Queen by Carolly Erickson


Ms. Erickson’s latest foray into her light, fluffy, fantasy-laden series of “historical entertainments”  tells the story of the woman Queen Elizabeth I probably hated most, her own cousin, Lettice Knollys, the younger, prettier, sexier version of herself who captivated and later married Elizabeth’s own great love—Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, a man who coveted the throne so much he was even rumored to have murdered his wife, Amy Robsart, in order to free himself to become Elizabeth’s bridegroom and king.


In this novel “Lettie” and her family return from Frankfurt after “Bloody” Mary dies and Elizabeth comes to the throne, making England once again a safe place for Protestants. At court, where she and her sister Cecilia, are appointed maids of honor, to serve the Queen, Lettie soon arouses the queen’s jealousy. The Elizabeth of this novel is a plain, shrill harpy prone to rages, in the throes of one she orders Cecilia’s head shaved to make a wig for herself.

Despite her attraction to the Queen’s lover, Lettie’s family fears that her beauty will lead her into licentiousness and arranges for her to marry hunting obsessed dullard named Walter Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Children swiftly follow and Lettie finds a contentment of a sort managing her husband’s estates while he is away hunting or on business for the Queen in Ireland.

Lettie catches Robert Dudley at just the right moment, after he has had a lovers’ tiff with the Queen, and the two embark on a casual affair and when her husband dies the two decide to marry in secret. Though when the truth comes out Elizabeth’s rage erupts like a volcano and Lettice spends the rest of her life exiled from the court. Although Elizabeth does her best to keep them apart, she and Robert manage to make a good life for themselves, enduring the death of their only son, the Spanish Armanda, Lettice’s attraction to their handsome young Master of the Horse, Christopher Blount, and the decline of Robert’s own health.

After Robert’s death, Lettie isn’t a widow for long, but she has other problems to contend with when her hot-headed son Robert Devereux, the Earl of Leicester, seeks to take his stepfather’s place in the Queen’s heart and take her throne in the process.

If you are looking for more fact-based historical fiction, Ms. Erickson’s “historical entertainments” probably won’t appeal to you, but if you like historical fiction with a lighter, sometimes outrageous or whimsical touch, and don’t mind facts being thrown out the window, sometimes in very large measure to make room for fiction, these books can be quite fun. I think I’ve read them all so far; you can find most of them reviewed on this blog.