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Little Green Dresses by Tina Sparkles

 

This is a great book for the DIY-er, or the fashion forward girl on a budget.  The first chapter is a good, solid introduction to sewing basics.  The later chapters are broken up by garment type; tops, skirts, bottoms, rompers, and accessories.  While the specific garments shown might not be to everyone’s taste, there is a great variety of fabrics shown as well as clear instructions on how to customize the garment to fit your own body shape and style.  The $22.95 price tag looks pretty good when you compare it to the money you can save not buying department store clothes.  In addition to all the fabulous fashion there is a section on the carbon footprint of the fashion industry.  It’s a little scary to look at the cold, hard numbers of how much energy is used in making the clothes in the first place and then how much of that is thrown away later.  This book will help you improve the environment and stay chic. 

November 17
Tortall and Other Lands

What can I say?  This book was amazing.  Now, I'm a long time Tamora Pierce fan.  I've even read a couple of the short stories in this collection before when they were printed in "Firebirds" and "Young Warriors" (bought specifically for the Tamora Pierce stories).  I've read everything that is currently in print and most of it multiple times.  I have audios and print versions of everything.  I've even read her run on the comic "White Tiger". 

 This short story collection is a must for anyone who is already a Tamora Pierce fan, but it is also completely

accessible to those who have never picked up a Tortall book before.  Some of the stories flesh out characters from previous books.  Memorably, in "The Dragon's Tale," Kitten, a character who literally, has no voice in the Wild Mage books gets to express her own thoughts and feelings in a story told entirely from her perspective.  But even those who haven't read the Wild Mage quartet will connect with this frustrated young dragon as she maneuvers through a world filled with stubborn humans who just won't understand!

"Elder Brother" fleshes out the other side of an incident from one of the more memorable Tortallan battles.  Due to equivalent exchange if a mage turns an enemy into an apple tree then half a world a way an apple tree suddenly finds itself a man.  How is a being of wood and leaves and fruit to understand the world of humans with their fire, and clothes, and money?  Only when he meets up with a child who is even more out of place than he is can the tree begin to understand what it means to be human.

We even get a little insight into the author in "X-Ray" wherein a young woman (very much like our author) takes a position as a housemother to some troubled teens.  She uses photographs and stories (and endless reserves of patience) to convince the girls that she's not so bad after all.

 
September 17
A Kiss of Shadows

I just re-read “A Kiss of Shadows” for the first time in eleven years.  It’s still very good.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of sex.  A LOT of sex.  But she makes it clear at the beginning that that’s how it’s going to be, which is fair.  If it’s not your kind of book you’ll know it within the first two chapters.  If you can look past the smut there’s also a really fascinating story about the power and politics of family.  There are insights into the cult of celebrity.  There are musings on the nature of love.  I’m not trying to make this book more than it is.  It’s not a philosophical treatise, but it is more than just fluff.

 

 
September 2

Secondhand Spirits and Cast-Off Coven

by Juliet Blackwell

 

I picked these two books up on a whim.  I was going to be waiting around different places for a few days and none of the pocket/purse sized books I had available were appealing to me at that precise moment.  So, I grabbed these two off the shelf and off we went together.

Secondhand Spirits, book one in the Lily Ivory series, introduces us to Lily, a vintage clothing vendor who just happens to be a practicing witch.  Lily has decided to settle in San Francisco after a long time globe trotting.  She’s going to settle in and make new friends; even if she’s never done it before.  One of Lily’s new friends introduces her to a sweet old lady with a basement full of clothes.   What should have been a fantastic opportunity for Lily and her store turns into a tragedy.  The sweet old lady is killed in suspiciously occult circumstances and before she can wiggle her nose Lily is a suspect in a murder, the proud new mistress of a familiar in the guise of a pig, the romantic interest of a skeptical reporter, and the only one who can rescue a child from a vengeful spirit.  It looks like Lily’s plan to be normal has more holes than a vintage concert tee.

Cast-off Coven, the second book in the series, picks up a few weeks later.  Lily is feeling a little more secure with her friendships, but even less secure with her relationship.  Max is secretive and skeptical.  He doesn’t want to know about Lily’s witchy ways, but he keeps sticking his reporter’s nose in.  Lily has no interest in playing Samantha to his Darren even if they’ve got great chemistry together.  Meanwhile, Maya has asked her to help look into a haunting at the Fine Arts School.  Students are hearing moans, knocks, and heavy breathing.  One way or another, something other than storage is going on in the third floor closets.  However, when Lily goes to investigate she finds, not long dead and unhappy spirits, but a fresh corpse.  Jerry Becker, one of the richest and least pleasant people involved with the school has taken a tumble from the haunted bell tower and Lily is pretty sure that it’s not the ghost to blame.  Once again, she finds herself getting in over her head as the trail leads through feuding artists back to the schools history.  In the 1906 earthquake and fire, six French nuns went missing and something evil took their place.  Lily is going to have to face off against the demons inside herself as well as the one inside the school.
 
 
 
July 22
 
City of Thieves
By David Benioff

David Benioff wanted to write a biography of his grandfather’s experience in the siege of Leningrad.  However, his grandfather, tired of interviews and questions, and poking and prodding told him simply, “David, you’re a writer.  Make it up!”  What resulted was something halfway between a history and a fever dream.  There are moments that, personally, I would have preferred to leave out.  (If you’re an animal lover, I highly recommend skipping from the top of page 110 to the start of the next chapter.)  And the story that reminds you just how awful Nazis really were reads like something out of the most recent round of torture porn, because that’s exactly what he is describing.  But it’s the rest of the moments that really make the book work.  The horror is the leading that holds this stained glass depiction of an experience up where we can see it. 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend the whole book trying to sort out what was real and what was made up.  I didn’t want to know.  I didn’t want to know what a grandson imagined about the almost hero his grandfather had been.  I didn’t want to know because even if it hadn’t happened to him, to Lev Beniov, it happened to someone in Piter that winter.  And maybe, in making it up, David Benioff managed to write the story of a city under siege even more than the biography of his grandfather who lives in Florida, as far away from the Piter snow as he can get.

 

 

June 29
Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie #4
The Big Stink
By David Lubar
(Due out from Macmillan August 31)

Nathan Abercrombie, the world’s only known accidental zombie, is back in his fourth adventure.  Elementary school is tough, even when you’re a fifth grader.  But now, due to mold spores in the upper school, all the fifth graders are crammed into a first grade classroom with tiny little desks.  To make matters worse they have to share the room with eighth graders, the biggest of the big kids.  To make matters worse, Nathan has begun to stink.  Now he has to find out how to cure his stench, keep the kindergarten animal parade from falling beneath eighth grade rage, and save himself from being torn apart by guard dogs and twelve year old bullies.  It’s a very full schedule for one fifth grade zombie.  Good thing Nathan doesn’t need to sleep anymore!

Here is a link to the publisher's website.

 

 

June 22
The Grimm Legacy
By Polly Shulman

Have you ever wondered what they keep in the super special collections at libraries?  Elizabeth Rew is about to find out.  She takes an after school job as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository, which houses a collection of objects ranging from plastic buttons to Marie Antoinette's wig.  But as Elizabeth becomes more comfortable at her new job she begins to see that there is something odd going on.  Two of the previous pages left the Repository under suspicious circumstances.  One girl was fired for stealing, but the other turned in her key and then vanished along with her entire family.  She also keeps overhearing bits and pieces about the Grimm Collection, which houses the actual objects from fairytale, myth and legend. Sleeping Beauty's spindle, Hermes's sandals, Aladdin's lamp; just a few of the items in the collection.  But Elizabeth soon learns that someone has been stealing pieces of the collection and it is up to her and her fellow pages to discover who it is before they disappear too.

June 1
No Nest for the Wicket
By Donna Andrews

This is the 7th book in Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow series.  Books 4 and 5 are my absolute favorites (also available on audio), but lucky #7 kept me laughing.  In this installment Meg and her dreamboat fiancé Michael are trying to get some renovations done on their white elephant of a Victorian farmhouse;  Meg’s relative Mrs. Fenniman has organized an eXtreme croquet tournament in the cow and sheep fields nearby; and then Michael’s very ex-girlfriend turns up dead beside Meg’s croquet ball.  The murder weapon was a croquet mallet and almost everyone on the field had a good motive for murder.  This book includes Morris dancing, sheep wrangling, sneaky developers, baby ducks, and apocryphal Civil War battles.  What’s not to love?

 

 

April 26

The Dragon Factory

By Jonathan Maberry

 

Wow.  Just wow.  I thought “Patient Zero” was amazing.  But “The Dragon Factory” is possibly twice as amazing.  DMS agent Joe Ledger is having an awful morning.  He’s at a cemetery to pay respects to a departed friend when NSA agents attempt to detain him.  Within minutes he is on the run with no backup.  The entire DMS is being assaulted.  A whole team has gone missing outside Denver and Joe’s team is the only one outside the NSA cordon.  He’s one man down already, there are Russian mob guys after him in addition to the NSA, there is something worse than the Russian mob waiting for him, and all of this has happened before lunch.  This is all before you get to the crazy geneticists that want to destroy the world as we know it.  This mission tests Joe and his team beyond what they thought they could endure, and the people who lived through “Patient Zero” can endure a lot.

March 31
The Mapping of Love and Death
By Jacqueline Winspear

Two thumbs up for Maisie Dobbs!  As you may have noticed, I’m very loyal to my series mysteries so it is no surprise that as soon as I could get my hands on a copy of the new Maisie Dobbs, “The Mapping of Love & Death,” I devoured it.  Maisie’s subject this time is a young American cartographer named Michael Clifton.  He died in the war and now his parents want to track down his wartime sweetheart and as his killer.  Michael was killed by a single blow to the head, by someone on his team.  Maisie must chart the past while dealing with difficulties of her own.  Maurice, her mentor, is very ill.  James, the son of her patron, has been indicating interest of a more personal nature.  Maisie will need all of her skills to draft this casemap.

 

March 17

The Agency: A Spy in the House
By Y.S. Lee 
Part mystery, part historical romance. All in all the story is well crafted and the mystery is compelling. There are a few twists and turns along the way. One in particular takes the story to a darker place than I was truly comfortable with, but the narrative as a whole does not suffer. This is definitely part one in a series. It sets up several questions that we can assume will be answered in later books. I would recommend it to people looking for a more adult story in the lines of Enola Holmes or for someone wanting to recommend Julia Quinn or Amanda Quick, but without the sex.  Mary is a former thief who has been trained at Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls to be a proper young lady as well as a proper young spy.  At seventeen she is undertaking her first mission for the Agency (the secret investigative branch of the Academy).  It should be a simple training mission, backing up another agent's work by infiltrating the family under investigation.  Before a week is up Mary finds herself in wardrobes with strange young men, breaking into warehouses, rescuing scullery maids, and possibly facing off with a murderer. 
 
February 12
Thresholds by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Pub date August 2010

“Thresholds” is magic; pure, unadulterated magic.  Hoffman has laid down a tale like paint from a brush.  Like a wash of color this story will seep into your soul.  The story opens with loss.  Maya and her family have moved to Oregon after the death of Maya’s best friend from cancer.  Maya and Stephanie were two parts of a creative whole.  Stephanie wove the stories and Maya made them visible.  Even in young children this kind of partnership can be closer than siblings and its loss is catastrophic.  The night before school starts Maya wakes up to find a fairy on her bed.  The fairy sleeps on Maya all night and leaves behind an essence of magic.  This hint of magic around her makes Maya’s unusual next door neighbors speak to her at school.  It causes a strange boy to accost her in the school hallway.  The hint of magic allows Maya to cross the thresholds of homes, hearts, and worlds.  She is given access to secrets and may in time find friends that can help her heal from her loss. 


January 7
A Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Quirky and cute.  A good beginning to a series.  Mr. Cheeseman, his polite,
clean, reasonably good smelling children, their hairless, psychic dog, and a sock puppet named Steve are on the run from government agents, international super spies, corporate mobsters, and a chimp.  All because of the LVR, which looks like a giant disco ball, but is actually a time machine.  Well, they think it's a time machine.  Probably.  Unless it is just a very heavy disco ball that is wanted by international super spies, government agencies, and corporations that produce microwave ovens and nuclear bombs.  And a chimp who once saved the life of an international super spy.   You see, Mr. Cheeseman and his children have been running from the aforementioned forces of, lets call them, darkness for so long that they haven't really had time to finish the LVR.  So they don't really know if it works.   But this just may be the trip where they have to find out.
 
December 31 - Happy New Year!
 
The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson
I haven't had to put too many lukewarm reviews on this page thus far.  Possibly this is because as I've gotten older I've stopped finishing books that don't keep my interest.  This book, however, seemed to have so much potential.  The story is that of Reggie and Nigel; brothers, solicitors, and current occupants of the offices at 221 B Baker Street.  As such, they are responsible for the mail of that greatest of fictional detectives.  People young and old seek the advice of Sherlock Holmes.  Usually they get instead a card explaining that he is a fictional character and thus unable to respond.  Such a reply was sent to an 8 year old girl in Los Angeles 20 years ago.  But she never stopped writing.  She has written again, only a week ago to request the return of the enclosures sent with her first letter.  Nigel sees danger to the young woman and rushes off to LA leaving a messy office and a corpse.  Reggie, the steady older brother, fobs off the police and his own dissolving relationship to rush to the city of angels after his brother. 
Sounds great right?  Unfortunately, the story lacks the whimsy it seems to promise.  While not bad, it reads like a television pilot, which since it has been optioned for just such a thing, is perhaps not a surprise.
 
Dece:mber 23
Christmas is here!  And so my free time isn't.  I've been reading, but slowly and I haven't been updating my page at all.  I'm sure you're all devistated.  However, here is a quick list of what I've been reading.  I'll try to get the reviews out soon
Dog May by Martha Sherrill
 
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
 
Sahara by Clive Cussler
 
Bangkok 8 by John Burdett
 
Enola Holmes & the Gypsy Good-bye (Pub Date: May 13)

Enola’s most dangerous case yet!  Enola is looking for a missing noblewoman and at the same time her brothers are looking for her.  Sherlock has received a letter from their mother that only Enola can open.  Enola must face up to her fears of Sherlock and Mycroft as well as her uncertainty about her mother.  The siblings must work together to bring the mysteries of both missing ladies to a close.  This is Enola Holmes at her best!

 
November 6
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag
 by Alan Bradley (Pub Date: March 3)
Flavia de Luce, everyone’s favorite madcap chemist is once more tearing up the lanes of Bishops Lacey.  Adventure arrives in the form of a famous puppeteer who comes to town and then departs unexpectedly in the middle of his show.  Rupert Porson, beloved creator of The Magic Kingdom and Snoddy the Squirrel dies during the denouement of his Jack & the Beanstalk act leaving behind a beautiful assistant and a mystery Flavia is determined to solve.  Some of the components she is given to work with are: Mad Meg and her sketch of the devil in Gibbet Wood, a puppet that looks like a dead village child, a missing bicycle clip belonging to the vicar, and a German POW.  Somehow all of this must be compounded and synthesized to form a solution.
 
August 27
The Fast and the Furriest by Andy Behrens
Publication Date - Marcy 9, 2010 from Alfred A. Knopf

The Pugh family is full of characters.  Howie is a former Chicago Bears player that loves the fan interactions and radio guest spots that come with former football stardom.  Maggie is an organized mom who juggles kids and her husband’s personality.  Izzy is a soccer champ in the under 11’s with championship trophies and sports aphorisms out the wazoo.  Kevin is part boy, part couch.  He’s awful at sports.  He’s worse than awful at sports, though oddly enough, he’s a genius at videogame football.  Then there is Cromwell is part beagle and part potato chip.  No one is sure if he smells like the old basement couch or if the couch smells like Cromwell since he rarely moves off it.  Nothing is likely to change about any of this until Cromwell sees a dog agility contest on TV.  Suddenly he is running unintentional obstacle courses in the backyard and getting himself stuck halfway through the tire swing.  He brings his leash and demands walks. 

Before he knows what has happened Kevin is working with a trainer at the Paw Patch dog agility school and his best friend has jerseys made for “Team Cromwell” in preparation for the glory and sponsorship deals that are going to come pouring in when Cromwell takes his place in the annals of dog agility history.  First they’ve got to get Cromwell to finish one of the courses instead of destroying it.  And Kevin has to figure out how to tell his family that he’s more interested in training with Cromwell instead of practicing football.


The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint
This is the story of John and Grace who meet just two weeks too late. Grace is a hot rod chica who has almost as much ink as she does sass. John is an artist carrying around a heavy burden from his past. They meet on Halloween night and it's amazing. It's instantaneous, and meaningful, and... brief because when dawn comes Grace disappears. This is a story about two people in love, but it is so much more than a love story. de Lint has woven myth and magic and faith and saints and sinners into a complex tapestry of life and hope.


August 11
Kip Campbell's Gift by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
This is the sequel to The Funeral Director's Son (just out on paperback from Simon & Schuster this month).  In book one we meet Kip Campbell, son of the local funeral director in Clover, MA.  Kip doesn't really mind that his family lives in a funeral home, or that on visitation days they have to have sandwiches and salad because you can't have food smells during a funeral.  Kip doesn't even mind that he's the outdoor guy and has to make sure that the yard is tidy, the walk swept, and parking cones are placed for events.  What he does mind is his other job.  Kip is responsible for seeing that the dead are free to move on.  Kip tried to quit, but the voice that directed him in his work promised that if he kept it up for a year it would be worth his weight in gold.  Who could pass that up?
But now in volume 2 Kip has to help his worst enemy's mother.  Bud hates Kip and the feeling is mutual.  On top of that, someone is hurting cats and trying to blame it on Birdie, the harmless beachcomber.  And, as if that weren't enough, the sociopathic nephew of the competiton (Golden's Funeral Parlor) is now attending Kip's school.  And he's even worse than BUD!  What's a young man to do?
 
August 6
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Release date: September 22

Gaiman has brought Norse mythology to life with the tale of Odd.  Odd is, well, odd.  He is a young man who has lost his father, lamed his leg, and been stuck with a bad example of a stepfather.  But he always smiles.  It really is rather irritating.  When winter stretches on for several extra months Odd decides to get away from his village.  There are too many people packed in the hall, drinking, fighting, and playing dangerous games.  Odd takes himself off to the woods where he runs into a bear, a fox, and an eagle who are more than they appear.  A frost giant has taken over Asgard and banished Odin, Thor, and Loki to Midgard in animal form.  Odd throws his lot in with the three gods and soon finds himself on a quest to save Aesir and his own people from the endless winter.

 

The Sea King's Daughter by Barbara Michaels (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters)

Sandy has a normal life.  She was a mid-grade student through school.  The only unusual things that have happened to her are discovering a sunken Spanish galleon and occasionally receiving packages from the absent minded archaeologist father she’s never met.  Unfortunately, finding a sunken ship does not make one rich.  Which is why, when Sandy’s father shows up in her dorm and offers her a job for the summer she finds it difficult to refuse.  Then he tells her that the job consists of conducting illegal underwater archaeological excavations in Thera off the coast of Crete.  When she arrives it turns out that things are stranger than she had supposed.  Sandy’s real name is Ariadne, named for the Minoan princess from Mythology.  When she sets foot in the palace at Knossos she suddenly remembers parts of Ariadne’s life.  Then there are the events that happened around Crete during World War II.  The German occupation and the Cretan resistance left scars on the people and the island.  Thera is alive with memories of the past; both ancient and recent.  And some memories can be deadly.

 
Audio: Die for Love by Elizabeth Peters

The indomitable Jacqueline Kirby returns for her third brush with murder in this volume.  Unable to stand the pastoral peace of Coldwater College any longer she decides to attend a writers' conference in New York;  a ROMANCE writers' conference.  She soon learns that not all is hearts and roses in the mines of love. Valerie Valentine, the Queen of Love (as dubbed by her agent), seems haunted.  Laurie, the disturbed, but devoted fan, is stoned out of her gourd on devotion and drugs.  Valerie Vanderbilt, aka, Jean the literature teacher, is hiding her romantic side from the tenure board.  Then Dubretta, the poison penned columnist, is murdered.  Everyone has a secret and one of them led to murder.  Can Jacqueline discover the truth under the facade of flower petals and paper hearts?

 
 
July 24
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but this book is BRILLIANT!  The female character is sympathetic, the male character is flawed, but in an undertstandable way.  There are shades of Alan Moore's "From Hell" lurking about creating dark, atmospheric pockets.  The zombies are spine chilling and extraordinarily well conceived.  I cannot wait for the next book.  Literally.  I can't wait.  I may explode.  It could happen.  So, just wanted to point all that out.  I'll try to be sane again now. 
 
July 13
Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Sayres
 
Anahita is a young woman from a nomadic tribe living in 19th century Iran.  She is an excellent weaver, a dyemaster's unofficial apprentice, and very skilled at concocting riddles to amuse her father.  She is also outspoken and innovative.  Not the best traits for a young woman of Iran.  Now, her father comes to her and tells her that the local khan has offered for her hand in marriage.  Anahita is horrified.  The khan is old, fat, and creepy.  Plus, his last three wives have all died suddenly.  She does not want her wedding dress to double as a funeral shroud.  To avoid this marriage she pleads with her father to allow her to hold a riddle contest.  She will weave her dowry rug and place within the fabric a riddle.  Whoever can guess her riddle will become her new husband.  However, as Anahita begins to weave she wonders if this contest is such a good idea.  The khan could win after all and she would be married to a cruel man who uses the tribe's acces to water as leverage to force her into marriage.  On the other hand, perhaps one of the three men she admires will win.  There is the village lad she has grown up alongside, the new teacher who has taught her to read, and there is the mysterious stranger that she met at market.  Which name will she weave beside her own in her riddle of silk and wool?
 
July 8
Alien Feast by Michael Simmons

Scene:  You walk up to your house dragging a red wagon filled with milk, bread, water, batteries, and other disaster relief essentials from the Temporary Emergency Services store.  You are nervous.  There are human-eating aliens roaming the city and you are worried that you might become a snack for a slimy being in robotic leggings.  It is not particularly comforting to know that if the aliens do eat you they will leave your feet behind for your loved ones to bury.  You are, in fact, braving the alien ridden streets because your step-parents are too afraid to. 

Now, imagine that when you unlock the front door you discover a pile of feet on the living room carpet.  The aliens have been by and eaten your step-parents.  Now, is that a relief or what?

This is the scene with which “Alien Feast” by Michael Simmons opens.  William Aitkin, now doubly orphaned is alone in the world.  Well, except for his uncle Maynard; world famous composer and all-round odd guy.  And except for Sophie Astronovitch, a thoroughly confusing girl from William’s class whose parents have recently been kidnapped by a few aliens and a politician.   But he has a great deal more time to practice his violin so that’s not all bad.  There are frozen lasagnas to cook and eat and Sophie’s parents to rescue.  This will lead to rather more adventure than William was planning on, but maybe he will make breakthroughs in his music and his understanding of the mysterious girl-type person that is Sophie.  Or maybe he’ll end up as a pile of glistening feet.  You never know.

July 6
Audio:  The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews
Dempsy is a junior D.C. lobbyist whose boss has just landed in a public corruption scandal so bad that it has -gate added to its title.  That's bad enough, but when he has his secretary deliver a pink slip to Dempsy and Alex refuses to answer any of the 19 voicemail messages she leaves on his voicemail, Dempsy starts to get a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.  Then her father offers her a way to get out of D.C. and regroup.  Mitch has just inherited Birdsong, an antebellum plantation house in Guthrie, GA.  Dempsy can go tidy up the house and slap a new coat of paint on it to get it ready to sell.  Mitch will even split the profit from the sale with her.  Sounds great!
So what if Guthrie doesn' t have a Starbucks, or a mall, or a Whole Foods?  Dempsy can rough it at the Piggly Wiggly.  Only, things aren't quite what she expected.
Birdsong is in MUCH worse condition than Mitch believed.  It's also occupied by the meanest, orneriest octogenarian Dempsy has ever met. 
Ok, she can handle this.  She went to Georgetown for Pete's sake!  Then the FBI rolls into town and tells her that Alex Hotter, her former boss and mentor has passed the public corruption buck; straight to one Miss Dempsy Killebrew.  Now she's looking at a possible 15 years instead of 15 paint chips.  But the FBI and Alex Hotter are not nearly prepared for what Dempsy can do once she gets going! 
 
June 26

Chalice by Robin McKinley

This is a beautiful book.  The story opens with Marisol, who is a beekeeper and woods-woman who has recently had to take on the weighty responsibility of being Chalice, responsible for witnessing ceremonies and binding her demesne together.  The new Master of Willowlands is a fire priest who has taken so much fire into himself that he can no longer touch anything without burning them.  How can such a Master help the land heal from the damage inflicted by the previous aster?  How can such an untried Chalice soothe that hurt?  But Marisol is strong.  She refuses to give up her bees or her cottage.  She finds it in herself to embrace her new Master and do her best to bind him to the land and to the people despite their own fears and external pressure.

 
                                 June 21:
Audio:
Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood
I can't seem to get enough of Kerry Greenwood.  Unfortunately, with this book, I have now read all the novels she currently has in print.  What's a girl to do?  In the fourth Corinna Chapman book Halloween is in the air and the witches are gathering.  Meroe is as nervous as a very cool cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  She is a solitary Wicca by preference (and because she doesn't really like other witches).  Now there are hundreds of witches flooding into Melbourne for the Samhaine rites.  And one of the more eclectic covens is on a purely material treasure hunt that threatens the sanctity of the rites.  In the spirit of the season there is also a sudden increase in the number of people going mad in town.  Corinna encounters one well dressed man in her alley who thinks that his hands have fallen off.  Much as she is shaken by this it is nothing to how she feels when a man jumps to his death from the building next door thinking he can fly.  Corinna has other causes for anxiety as Daniel has a friend named George staying with him.  He may have forgotten to mention that George is tall, blonde, long legged, and imminently female.  And George really doesn’t like Corinna.  There is also a new franchise bread shop right down the street from Earthly Delights with unbeatable prices, but no taste (on more levels than one).  It’s going to be a difficult spring for or intrepid heroine, but there is bread to bake so Corinna can’t just lie abed and worry.

 

Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood
Corinna is the baker and propritress of Earthly Delights in Melbourne.  She (mostly) enjoyes getting up at 4 a.m. to bake bread for local restraunts and her own shop.  Being up so early gives her a slightly different perspective on the local scene.  Her part of Melborne has always had it's share of junkies and derelicts, but when one of her mouse catching cats comes into the bakery with a syringe stuck in his paw and Corinna finds an unconscious girl on her grate she knows that this is something out of the ordinary.  Before long she finds herself employing a detoxing junkie as kitchen swab, volunteering bread and her time on the Soup Run to feed the city's homeless, and teaming up with a mysterious, but oh so sexy hunk named Daniel to discover who is poisioning Melbourne's junkies.  At the same time, the women in her apartment house are under attack from poison pen letters.  They are all receiving slightly blurry missives calling them harlots and scarlet women and threatening their lives.  It's more than one baker can stand so Corinna decides to put a stop to it.  Once and for all.
June 16:
The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes by Kelly Easton

This novel is charming and heartwarming. Liberty (though everyone calls her Libby) lives with her parents at 33 Gooch St. Her parents are like a nursery rhyme: Jack Sprat could eat no fat. His wife could eat no lean. Her father is tall, thin, and "a friggin genius". Her mother is tremendously fat and dreams about being on a makeover show. The only other person who know that Liberty even exists is the Worm man who lives across the road. One day opportunity knocks and Liberty gets her hands on one of her father's inventions, which allows her to leave home in an unconventional manner. Soon she is out in the wide world meeting scoundrels, clowns, mimes, lions, pigeons, and cats in her quest to attend the perfect boarding school where she can read books and never see her father again.


June 14:
Audio:
Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog
by Ysabeau S. Wilce
When your house has 11,000 rooms it seems utterly unfair that you are sleeping in a broom closet.  Even a very nice, cozy broom closet.  However, with the butler banished Flora's house is not in the best of shape.  The potty disappears sometimes, the front door won't open, and the elevator once kidnapped her father for a week.  Nevertheless, when she is running late to return a library book she dares the elevator.  The elevator kidnapps her too and takes her to the library where she meets the banished butler.  Before she knows it she is forging signatures, planning daring rescues, and sneaking into abandoned houses to steal words of power.  She has a limited amount of time to rescue herself and her butler all before her mother gets home.  And in the middle of all of this she has to get a dress made and invitations sent out for her birtday party!
 
The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen
Part "Princess Bride" and part "The Black Cauldron" this novel is a wonderful romp through fantasy and adventure.  Calen is a mage's apprentice who sneaks off whenever he can to watch the hustle and bustle of a castle gearing up for a royal wedding.  Meg is a princess who has snuck off to watch the hustle and bustle from outside rather than in the midst of it.  These two bump into each other in a deserted guest room and a friendship born of accidental life saving and well timed shin kicking begins.  Meg has a secret.  A large, scaley, fire breathing secret.  Well, ok, so the dragon cant' breathe fire yet, but he will when he grows up.  It's just up to Meg and Calen to make sure that Jakal gets to grow up without the guards finding him.  Surely, this is enough for an apprentice and a princess to deal with.  But when they overhear a plot that could ignite war they have a lot more to deal with.  Now they have to save a kingdom and a dragon. 
 
The Thread that Binds the Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Despite being tragically out of print this has consistently been one of my favorite books since I first read it in the early '90's.  Tom Renifeld is a drifter whose strange abilities force him to move from place to place in an attempt to remain annonymous.  Laura Bolte has used her gifts to disappear into the world of fashion photography, secure in the knowledge that her unusual family will never pick up a copy of Vogue or Cosmo and see her smiling face.  But now Laura's brother is getting married at the family home and Tom is the cabbie on duty at the bus station.  These two unlikely allies must stand together against Laura's family and try to unpick the tangles that have twisted it out of true. 
June 10:
  The Locked Garden by Gloria Whelan
Verna is a young lady whose small family consisting of herself, her father, younger sister Carlie, and Aunt Maude, has just moved to a remote mental hospital in Michigan in 1900.   Her father has taken a position as a psychiatrist at the hospital.  Once they are settled in one of the more promising patients is assigned as the family's maid.  Eleanor is recovering from melancholia and quickly finds a warm welcome the children and their father.  Aunt Maude however believes that Eleanor is dangerous and an unhealthy influence on the girls.  Verna must grow up quickly to protect her sister and her new friend from the pitfalls of jealousy, fear, and depression that undermine the green lawns and fragrant gardens of the asylum.  If she is lucky the hospital will become a home and the strange group of people she has met there will be able to grow into a family.  Unlike many period novels set in asylums this book does not vilify the hospital or the doctors.  The director believes that external beauty will call forth beauty from the soul and help patients recover.  This creates an interesting atmosphere as it is the respectable, nominally sane aunt creating the dramatic tension rather than a fight between patient and doctor or between the compassion of the reader and the brutal treatments administered to the residents. 

June 8:
Death at Glamis Castle by Robin Paige

“Death at Glamis Castle” is the 9th book in the Kate and Sir Charles Sheridan series.  In this book Nell and her husband Sir Charles have received a royal summons snatching them from their working holiday excavating part of Hadrian’s Wall.  Sir Charles has been called on by the king to investigate the disappearance of a prominent personage who has been living as a recluse at Glamis Castle.  The personage is Price Albert Victor, the king’s eldest son and rightful heir to the throne, thought by all of Europe to have died ten years previously.  However, not only has the Prince disappeared, but the woman who has tended to him has been murdered in a manner reminiscent of the Ripper killings in Whitechapel.   Sir Charles and Kate are very much aware that one of the many rumors circulating at the time linked the Prince with the horrible murders.  Has Prince Eddy finally snapped under the pressure of his confinement and taken up the knife once more?  Is he an innocent victim of a plot to embarrass the monarchy?  Sir Charles must find the prince and solve the murder at all costs before anyone outside the castle environs find out who the missing man is. 

 
Audio:
Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood

“Devil’s Food” is the third Corinna Chapman mystery by Kerry Greenwood.  It is the first on audio that I can find however and so I started with it.  Corinna is a baker in Melbourne and actually enjoys getting up at 4 a.m. to bake bread for local restaurants and the customers that come into her shop “Earthly Delights”.  She also enjoys consuming the fruits of her labors and is not shy about it.  Corinna is down to earth and I’d love to have her shop somewhere near me, especially if it comes with her muffin magician of an apprentice, Jason.  The description of his herb muffins or his apricot orgasam muffins or especially his rosewater Kama Sutra muffins have kept me perpetually hungry during this book.  Corinna’s father is missing, there is a mysterious weight loss tea that has made her two assistants incredibly ill, and there is a strange group of monks going under the name of the “Bodiless Brotherhood” that are ordering famine bread from the bakery.  Corinna finds them more than a little creepy, but with her father missing she’s directing her energies toward the search until a body turns up in the local park showing all the signs of starvation. 

June 7:
A Drunkard's Path by Clare O'Donohue
Publication Date: September 1, 2009 

This is the second in the Someday Quilts series from Clare O’Donohue.  In the first novel, after a failed engagement Nell Fitzgerald moves from her high pressure publishing job in New York to work in her grandmother’s quilt shop in Archer’s Rest and gets caught up in a murder.  In the second book Nell is finally pursuing her dream to become an artist.  She has enrolled in art classes under a famous artist, Oliver White.  Oliver is not only a hit with the local art world, but also with Nell’s grandmother.  Everything is going swimmingly until a series of murders bring up secrets from Oliver’s past.  Nell’s need to protect her grandmother and stick her nose into everything gets her involved in the investigation to the detriment of her romance with the local sheriff.  This book has everything from insights into art to a crack team of quilters turned amateur detectives.   

 
100% Wolf by Jayne Lyons
Publication date: August 4, 2009
Freddy Lupin is not your average werewolf.  First, he is the heir to a legacy of heroism, being the final wolfish descendant of the legendary Sir Rathbone de Lupinne.  Second, he is an orphan, his father having been foully murdered by the enemy of werewolf kind Dr. Cripp.  Third, he will do what no werewolf has done before.  On the night of his one hundred and twenty-fifth full-moon Freddy Lupin will become… a poodle.  But a poodle of destiny!  Freddy the unfortunate poodle must battle evil piggy cousins, dog catchers, ghost hounds, and ultimately Dr. Cripp himself to save his family and his own honor as a werewolf, er… werepoodle. 
 
June 3:
Fall of Light by Nina Kiriki Hoffman 
 

Award winning author Nina Kiriki Hoffman returns to the LaZelle family (first introduced in Fistful of Sky).  In this novel Opal, the oldest of the LaZelle siblings is working on another monster movie.  With her magical talents boosting her make up skills she has landed the job as personal make up artist to the films monster, played by Corvus, an actor she has more than the usual professional regard for.  However, there is something deep, and dark, and old in the environs of Lapis, Oregon and Opal's work on Corvus has left him open to its influence.  Now she is a handmaiden to the 'Dark God' and the object of her affections is possessed.  It will take all of Opal's skill (and a little help from friends and family) to un-possess her beloved, reclaim her power from the DG, and bring the movie in on time and something like on budget.  If she doesn't get an Oscar for her make up she should definitely get a medal for going above and beyond the call of duty.

 
Audio:
Death on a Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood
Well, as you can see I seem to still be under the sway of the remarkable Miss Fisher.  Sadly, this is the most recent installment of her adventures so when I finish this story I shall have to wait on the clever Ms Greenwood to complete another.  I am, as many of you know, very very bad at waiting.  However, needs must and all that. 
This time Miss Fisher is looking into the apparent suicide of a local antiques dealer.  Did he drink too much and load his own pockets with stones before throwing himself into the sea as the police believe or did someone help him?  His mother swears that he never drank whiskey.  His intimates declare that he was in good spirits and looking forward to a mysterious new business venture. 
Meanwhile, another case comes Phryne's way.  This one is a matter of inheritance.  Phryne must track down a child that was born some 60 years ago in order to straighten out the estate of a wealthy lady. 
 
 
June 1:
 
Death at Bishop's Keep by Robin Paige
 
Robin Paige is actualy a husband/wife team of Susan Wittig Albert and Bill Albert.  This is the first book in the Kate Ardleigh series.  I have read other books in the series and enjoyed them tremendously.  My favorite so far was "Death at Blenheim Palace," which centers on Consuelo Vanderbilt and her husband the Duke of Marlborough.  In this first book Kate has taken a job as secretary-companion to her hitherto unknown aunt Sabrina in England.  On the day of her arrival a body is found at a local archaeological dig.  Sir Charles Sheridan is on hand with his camera taking photos of the body and his unusual gold scarab ring. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Audio:
  Death in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood
This is #16 in the Phryne Fisher series.  It may say something about these books when I tell you that I first discovered the series in April and am now up to book 16.  As there are only 17 books in the series I am soon to be bereft of the fabulous Miss Fisher.  How to explain the Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher.  It isn't quite enough to say that she is like a female James Bond living in the flapper era and named after an ancient courtesan.  The series is set in Australia during 1928 (although I believe book 17 will take place in 1929).  Miss Fisher is elegant, wealthy, and very much like a sleek Persian cat.  In the current volume she is attending the Last, Best Party of 1928 at which there are Arabian dancers, Japanese feasts, polo, poetry recitations, and an assassin bent on exterminating the host.  Kerry Greenwood's writing is exquisite and Stephanie Daniel's narration is supurb.  If anyone is looking for a slightly spicier Masie Dobbs then I could not do better than to recommend Miss Fisher. 
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