Review: A Body to Spare by Sue Ann Jaffarian

  
Here we have Book 10 in the Odelia Grey Mystery series… And it’s TERRIFIC. Jaffarian makes Odelia’s crazy world of hit men, private eyes, cops and ex-cons seem almost run of the mill. But it’s still a surprise to find a dead guy in the trunk of her car. 

The dead guy has a bizarre past. Odelia and the gang manage to dig into it and find more than one bad apple who could be responsible. As usual, the more they know, the deeper trouble they get themselves into. 

Jaffarian rocks at creating believable relationships. Whether it’s Odelia’s marriage, immediate family, or professional contacts, I like eavesdropping on their conversations and coming along for the ride while they solve the mystery. 

You can read the books in this series as standalones, but if you choose to read several, go in somewhat chronological order. 🙂 

-calliope

Buy A BODY TO SPARE

Review – The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro

14568987I’m subscribed to this service that offers books on demand each month, much like Netflix, and the other day I was browsing through the selections, and came across this book. It sounded interesting enough to start, and well, I only put it down 2 times (and that was due to sleep!). The Art Forger is one of those novels that is ultimately fiction, but bases it upon real life events. Anyone who happens to have a passing interest in art, and/or was alive and kicking in 1990, will probably remember the art heist that occurred at the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston. To date, this robbery is considered America’s biggest ever art heist. Shapiro sets her book 25 years later, when Clair (a struggling artist – yes, I know, very cliche), is offered a large sum of money to produce a copy of a famous Degas painting, one that happened to be among the collection that was stolen from the museum 25 years ago. Clair goes along with this idea, and the book follows her process, whilst presenting a dual narrative with Isabella Gardner.
What I really loved about this book was that it was an easy, entertaining read, and yet, I learnt a lot. I learnt a lot about the art world, museums, art forgery, and the history behind some big name artists. The characters are authentic enough for you to believe in them, but at the same time, you’ll have no trouble putting this book behind you once you finish it.
I believe it really takes a talented author to write a story that has substance and quick entertainment value at the same time. This is one of those books where you get a cup of coffee and Baileys, curl up on the sofa and read the day away. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll also spend hours on Google afterwards, researching all the historical truths presented in the story!
If you want a mix of history, contemporary, art, and mystery, then I highly recommend this book. It might not win any literary awards, but in my view it wins the award of providing solid entertainment and intrigue.

P.S., this book won’t even cost you anything if you are part of the Kindle Unlimited program!

Until next time,

Pegasus.

The Art Forger: A Novel

Review: Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate

  
Kelly Madigan is a ghostwriter – for cookbooks. Reading Too Many Cooks, I loved living the life of a cookbook writer for a while. Kelly tested recipes in a fabulous London kitchen, bought produce from street markets, and rubbed elbows with a movie star and her British politico husband. 

My favorite part was the food! Kelly had to refine recipes to perfection. Though it may have been tedious for her to repeat recipes, it was pretty mouth-watering for me. Breads, soups, burgers, fries… Even the leftovers sounded good. 

There’s a little “love” story in here, but the book is mainly about Kelly gaining confidence, finding direction, and making her own way in a world that caters to those in the spotlight, not those behind the scenes. 

-calliope

Buy TOO MANY COOKS

Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

24499258Anyone that knows me already knows I am not a huge fan of short stories…However, there have been a few stories in anthologies that I have read that have helped me find some new (to me) authors that I want to read more of. This novel isn’t part of an anthology, however, it was interesting enough and entertaining enough to make me add Mitchell to a list of authors that I want to read more of. I did love the different characters that each told a new chapter in this book. I loved the concept of Slade House. The only real complaint I can make is that I wanted more. I wanted the full meal deal and not just the fast food shortened version I received. It was also more than a little bit creepy. A perfect late autumn read. Even better if it’s on a cold night whilst a storm is brewing outside…that way you have a valid excuse to hide under some warm covers…

I can’t wait to read another (longer) work of David Mitchell so I can read it, review it and share my thoughts of with fellow readers….

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgallery for an honest review

Buy it now Slade House by David Mitchell

Review and Giveaway: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

01 nov91 Can you imagine seeing a person only one day a year, with no way of getting in touch with them? What happens the other 364 days? What do you do? How do you live a life without that person, with whom you have this amazing connection with?

“You can’t leave yet. I’m not finished falling in love with you.”

Sometimes you read books that you like so much and you have a hard time putting those feelings into words. This is one of those books. November 9 packed an emotional punch that rivals even Point of Retreat for my top CoHo spot. From the very first chapter I was sucked in, and every chapter that followed, I felt my heart being stretched to the point of splintering. It has everything I like in a book, romance, heartache, and quite a few “Holy Crap!” moments.

SYNOPSIS
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day of her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

I fell in love with Ben almost instantly. I admit it. He made me laugh and swoon, and of course, cry. I loved everything about him. Was he perfect? No. Was he perfect for Fallon? Oh yes. I swear, some of the things he would say, made me crack up. Fallon could hold her own with him completely, but he had a way of being the perfect book boyfriend without even trying. The banter between these two, was perfect. They were both so quick witted and I found myself giggling quite often. It reminded me of seeing interactions online between Colleen and her sisters. People who have true emotional connections are the ones who could pull these off perfectly.

I have a feeling the audible is going to be amazing, and I’ll be startling quite a few people with my outbursts.

“Who knows what could happen between now and then. Hell, I didn’t even have hair on my nuts five years ago.”

See?! Hilarious!!! There are many more where this came from.

Now on the flip side, there were so many scenes that made me step back and collect myself. They were beautiful and poignant and life changing, for all involved. Every year they part ways I am sitting on the edge of my seat hoping for them to decide to just chuck it all and stay together, but I understand why they didn’t.

So many things happen in this book, that I would love to tell you, but that would spoil the story. There’s a few twists and turns that will knock your socks off. I may have gasped a time or two, while reading. Heck, I may have even squealed also. But what I can say is that the constant “booksting” scenes were some of the best scenes. It was like sitting with a group of friends. Ben and Fallon were just like we are, in our book clubs. They were saying all things we say.

If you want a book that will have you shedding happy and sad tears, then this is the book is for you. If you want a book that will twist your heart, then this is the book is for you. If you want a book that will leave you emotionally satisfied and physically drained, then this is the book for you.

Buy it. Read it. Love it.

~Melpomene

Be sure to go HERE and enter the giveaway!!

Buy November 9: A Novel

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Don’t miss Colleen on tour for NOVEMBER 9:

DALLAS, TX

Monday, November 9th

HALF PRICE BOOKS

10:00 PM

5803 E Northwest Hwy

Dallas, TX 75231

http://www.hpb.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/571747856307832/

CINCINNATI, OH

Tuesday, November 10th

JOSEPH-BETH BOOKSELLERS

7:00 PM

2692 Madison Road

Cincinnati, OH 45208

http://www.josephbeth.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/910564405703742/

CHICAGO, IL

Wednesday, November 11th

ANDERSON’S BOOKSHOP

7:00 PM

26 S. La Grange Rd.

La Grange, IL 60525

http://www.andersonsbookshop.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/877624532344894/

RIDGEWOOD, NJ

Thursday, November 12th

BOOK ENDS

7:00 PM

211 E. Ridgewood Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ 07450

http://www.book-ends.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/176661676006949/

WHITE PLAINS, NY

Friday, November 13th

BARNES & NOBLE #2202

7:00 PM

230 Main Street

White Plains, NY 10601

http://www.barnesandnoble.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/760158847428849/

MIAMI, FL

Saturday, November 14th

BOOKS & BOOKS

5:00 PM

265 Aragon Avenue

Coral Gables, FL 33134

http://www.booksandbooks.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/903716756377916/

BOSTON, MA

Sunday, November 15th

BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH
5:00 PM
279 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446

http://www.brooklinebooksmith.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1484734548495141/

LOS ANGELES, CA

Tuesday, November 17th

CHEVALIER’S BOOKS

7:00 PM

126 N. Larchmont Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90004

http://www.chevaliersbooks.com

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1008186655868793/

AUSTIN, TX

Tuesday, December 8th
BOOK PEOPLE

7:00 PM
603 N. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
512-472-5050
http://www.bookpeople.com/

RSVP and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1642732965964748/

Review: Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

51C-79dyymLJo Knowles is one of my favorite writers, one of those authors whose books are must-reads for me. So it’s a bit surprising that I’ve just recently gotten around to reading this older story. Such is the life of someone with a TBR list that’s longer than my lifespan is likely to be. But still, better late than never.

No action is without consequences, a lesson that Ellie learns the hard way when she becomes pregnant after “hooking up” at a party. It’s not the first time, but it’s the last time for a very long while. But that one night has repercussions for not just Ellie. Everyone in her inner circle is affected. Her best friend, Corinne, tries to help Ellie through what is easily the most difficult time in her young life. Her friend Caleb finds himself in a tough spot as Ellie’s friend but also a close friend of Josh, the baby’s father. And even Josh himself, an unlikeable character at first who gradually redeems himself.

This is an outstanding book. Because this is more than a story of an unintended teen pregnancy. It’s a story of dysfunctional families, ones that seem good on the surface but really aren’t. It’s a story of teenagers trying to fit in and find themselves. And it’s a story of young people trying to fill an inner void any way they can. Each and every character evokes emotion from the reader. Such is the brilliance of an author such as Jo Knowles. She makes us care about them all.

So this is a story that’s clearly meant for young adults. The question becomes, how young is too young? On the one hand, it’s pretty clear what’s going on in the back of the van at the beginning of the story. And there’s a good bit of drinking along with the fairly casual sex. But I believe these are very real issues facing today’s older teens. And for that reason, along with the fact that the author deals with it in a responsible way, I do feel that this would be an appropriate read for older teenagers. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read the sequel…

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Jumping Off Swings

Review: Bittersweet Creek by Sally Kilpatrick


Romy may have looked citified on the outside, but she was still country at heart when she returned to her dad’s farm for a couple of months. And that country heart still pulled at ex-boyfriend-but-current-husband-on-paper (long story).

Julian loved Romy from the moment he set eyes on her, but a hard life changed him. Love would be dangerous.

I struggled to read the violent scenes in this book, because I am a wimp LOL, but I appreciate that those scenes made the characters real, pushed the plot forward, and opened up the chance for real love and forgiveness.

Sally Kilpatrick set Bittersweet Creek in the same town as her last book, The Happy Hour Choir. While Bittersweet is its own story, I loved the cameos by Beulah Land — and the fresh perspective from which Kilpatrick wrote her.

My absolute favorite part was the allusion to Fight Club. And in true English major fashion, I enjoyed all the other literary and film allusions.

-calliope
PS There’s a happy ever after… for some people.  🙂

Buy BITTERSWEET CREEK

Review: Thy Rod and Thy Staff by Debbie Viguié

  
If you haven’t read anything by Debbie Viguié yet, you should. She writes so well that I can fly through her novels effortlessly. The dialogue, character and plot development, and the raveling of the mystery flow naturally. There’s nothing contrived or hokey. Just excellent stories. And the Psalm 23 Mysteries aren’t her only endeavor. Viguié also writes dark fantasy and historical thrillers. Check http://www.debbieviguie.com to see her full book list. 

So, Thy Rod and Thy Staff. Now that Cindy and Jeremiah have solidified and publicized their relationship, it’s a lot easier for them to team up to solve mysteries. Except they are separated for two weeks while Cindy is called for jury duty. For a murder trial. The day after a second murder “randomly” occurs. See where this is going? Rabbi Jeremiah has to figure out how to help Cindy, the police, and his synagogue secretary, all in the same week. He’s spread a little thin but saves the day more than once! Cindy holds her own: Even while avoiding getting killed, she manages to help Jeremiah out of a pinch. 

Though there are textual references to Scripture, The Psalm 23 Mysteries aren’t about religion or worship. They are about making connections…  in the criminal world and in a personal sense. 

Five big stars, because as usual I am astounded and impressed by Dbbie Viguié. 

-calliope

Buy THY ROD AND THY STAFF

Review: August, October by Andrés Barba

25074166It’s hard to write a review for a book that you cared nothing about. As with all books I read, I went into this one with high hopes. Having read the description I found myself intrigued with how the author would handle this story. At the end of the day, I wasn’t happy. Nothing about it made me comfortable. The fact that the main character goes back at the end to seek some sort of….I don’t even know….Forgiveness? Justification? Admission? Redemption? Repentance? Again….I don’t even know….the fact that he goes back in the end…and the way it was handled…it just somehow made it even worse in my eyes. Doesn’t matter if the girl saw no wrong in what he did….it WAS wrong….it doesn’t matter if he physically had intercourse with her or not….it WAS wrong…the fact that she was mentally challenged? That made it even MORE wrong (if that’s even possible).

I don’t want to bash this author. I don’t even want to make this an issue over rape vs ???? what could I possible insert here to replace what happened in *anyone’s* mind? I….okay….I’m just flummoxed as to anything to say about this book…I always try to stress to people who I believe a negative review from me or anyone else shouldn’t really detour someone from giving a book a try…that it might just be me that didn’t connect with the book….I often go away from a book that I didn’t enjoy and know just the right person that might love the book….with this one, I’m just hard pressed to find anyone that would enjoy it. I don’t like saying that…

After still pondering how I could write a review with at least one redeeming thought the day after, I can only come up with this…

When Tomas’ aunt is dying she makes it very clear that she has come to the end of her life and is very disappointed that she is quite *ordinary*. This theme is often seen throughout the novel. As Tomas reflects on how he viewed his parents and how he sees them the night as they sleep…again, no longer larger than life, but ordinary…

I am left with this thought….There are much worse things in life than to be *ordinary*. Tomas and his *friends* are a perfect example of this. Perhaps Tomas plays along to the tough crowd hoping to avoid this *ordinariness* that he is so afraid of becoming….but in the process he loses all hope for ordinariness, let alone greatness….

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now August, October by Andrés Barba