Review: Be My Valentino by Sandra D. Bricker 


This second book in the Jessie Stanton series finds Jessie and Danny developing their relationship, the Feebs taking liberties with Jessie’s new life, and Jack Stanton getting a little bit of what he deserves. You’ll also find yummy shopping, fancy clothes wearing,  and charming dates. 

I enjoyed this book – love the characters, the detective work and the faith aspect. I’m ambivalent about Danny. He seems too good to be true. I guess I expect that in a straight up romance, but not in a mystery series, as light as it might be. I do appreciate Danny’s love for Jessie, the entrepreneurial spirit of Ms. Stanton (Hart!) — and the wonderful support of her friends. 

The writing seemed to be a little looser than usual for a Bricker read. Overuse of the word “snickered” bothered me for some reason, and some of the chapters could have been tightened up. 

I like Bricker’s talent for continuity, and for integrating faith issues in a realistic and subtle way. 

I’m awaiting book number 3! 



Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave


Thinking about this novel makes the late afternoon sun wash over me like it does over Georgia’s family vineyard. Georgia goes home to the vineyard for comfort, but what she finds are more problems. It doesn’t matter though… she still relishes the love her family gives her in whatever way they can. 

Laura Dave sets a great scene and lays out emotion very well. I still can feel the brother and sister holding hands in forgiveness, the father picking grapes in the cool, dark, wee hours, and the fullness of music in Georgia’s mom. 

Georgia’s struggle with her fiancé’s past seemed very real to me. Here she is at her family’s vineyard, watching her family relationships change in big ways, and then she has to decide what kind of family she wants with her fiancé. Matters of the heart are not easily – or rationally – settled, but Georgia finds an inspired solution. 

My favorite character scene (because, truly, the descriptions of the land are so awesome that nothing compares) is at the end when Georgia makes a wise decision, filled with love for herself and her family. Eight Hundred Grapes wonderfully illustrates a happily ever after that isn’t too perfect or too sweet, but beautifully earned. 



Review: Hold Me by Susan Mallery


Talk about character development! You’ve got Kipling Gilmore as a secondary character in previous Fool’s Gold books, and though he was always okay, I never felt the need to know him better. In Hold Me, Mallery highlights Kipling’s intuitiveness, protectiveness and good will toward his community. 

Destiny Mills’ character drives forward the plot as she changes from living a superficial life with defensive walls up, to a woman who embraces and rejoices in the challenges and blessings that befall her. Destiny gets in touch with her inner musician, and subsequently thrives. 🙂

I loved Destiny’s relationship with her sister and the other women of Fool’s Gold. But I also had a lot of fun reading the male bonding scenes. Mallery put an authentic voice to husbands and brothers who want to appear macho while staying out of the proverbial doghouse. 

Well done, as always, and I can’t wait for the next book. 



Review – Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain.

101205Hi guys and girls! Pegasus is back! I’ve just returned from visiting my home country of England, and have had the opportunity to buy, and read, a great book! In fact, I would even be as bold to say that it may well become a new favourite of mine! No, really, it is that good.
I’ve been in a bit of a book slump for the past month or so, and unfortunately, haven’t really read anything that has particularly related to me. This all changed however, when I was recommended James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce, by a friend of mine, who just so happens to also be a fellow film/literature fanatic… I mean fan…
Cain’s novel follows the title character, Mildred, and her family as they try and make it in post–depression California after Mildred and her husband separate. Mildred is forced to get a job, and then goes on to build herself up. Without giving too much away, we see Mildred’s trials and tribulations along the way, mostly due to her eldest daughter, Veda.
Being a film fan, I of course had heard of Mildred Pierce (both the Joan Crawford and Kate Winslet versions – being a huge Winslet fan, I own that particular version) and indeed the book by Cain. I knew the story, and knew the characters. When I started reading however, I was immediately brought into Cain’s world – not the world that I had seen on screen. Cain’s ability to accurately detail a scene without including unnecessary language and description is truly a talent. The reader is immediately transported to 1930’s California and into the Pierce household. Cain doesn’t miss a beat, and throws the reader into the middle of a clearly unhappy and withered marriage. What happens in the first few pages would probably shock the average reader of 1941 (the year of publication). Cain continues this kind of forward thinking and does not spare the reader from controversy.
The best and most intriguing aspect about Mildred Pierce are the characters. Not since Thomas Hardy, or perhaps Michael Cunningham, have I experienced such depth and complexity within the main characters, and indeed minor characters. Now bear in mind the novel was published in 1941 when complex female characters were a rarity, and indeed, attitudes towards females left a lot to be desired. Mildred is not your stereotypical 1940’s housewife; she knows what she wants and knows how to get it. Nothing is black and white with Cain – where there is good, there is evil and vice versa. One moment we will be rooting for Mildred, and a chapter later, we will be wondering if she is indeed any different from Veda. Even the minor characters such as Lucy Gessler, or Wally Lamb are well fleshed out and provide pivotal moments throughout the novel.
Reading this novel has opened up a whole new genre to me – Hardboiled fiction may well be my new obsession – and my wallet is not happy! However, I am, so that’s what counts! I shall definitely be reading more of Cain (in fact, I just received a compilation with four of his novels – The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce [already double dipping!]), and Serenade. I will also most likely look into the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet.
Anyway, that’s it until next week, and I shall leave you to go and read Mildred Pierce!
~ Pegasus.
Mildred Pierce

Review: Secondhand Stiff by Sue Ann Jaffarian

20131204-095936.jpg Just released December 1!

This cozy mystery is the most recent in Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey Mysteries series, and I’ve read them all. Yes, I love a good cozy mystery with a female protagonist who pals around with cops, but there’s something about the characters that makes this series stand out. Odelia isn’t too perfect or too quirky… She seems real. She and her husband Greg clearly love each other but have regular arguments, too. Their extended family annoys them – hey, just like real life! Odelia’s nosiness gets her mixed up with the wrong crowd more than occasionally, but she manages to solve mysteries and save herself – from death, but not always from harm – with the help of Greg and their friends.

This particular book explores the world of storage unit auctions, secondhand stores, and illusions of grandeur. Odelia and Greg’s commitment to their family means this mystery is personal – and they’ll stop at nothing to prove their relative’s innocence.

When I read this book, I felt like I was watching it happen in real life. Jaffarian describes places and events so well that reading it became a movie in my mind. She controls her writing so tightly: a grilled cheese sandwich is written in with precision – just enough mention to picture yourself at the table with the characters, hearing the crunch and licking buttery fingers (she doesn’t say that, but I imagined it!), but not so much that it interrupts the flow of the story. That’s good writing.

Secondhand Stiff is a solid, funny, caper-ridden novel with well-developed characters and awesome writing. Sue Ann Jaffarian is one of the few writers I regularly seek out for new releases, which I’ll pay top dollar for. I recommend the whole series, but they can be read as standalone books or out of order.


Buy it now Secondhand Stiff