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Archive for February, 2012

Romantic Suspense Review – A Honeybun and Coffee

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

A Honeybun and Coffee (Honeybun Hunks, Bk 1) by Sam Cheever

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

Great contemporary read with an action plot.  To sum it up in a phrase:  No good deed goes unpunished…

Angie Peterson takes a break from the counter of her coffee shop and has to use the men’s room due to plumbing problems.  The person she asks to ‘guard the door’ gets busy and two men enter.  Embarrassed, she hides her presence – only to overhear them planning to kill someone with the unlikely name of Alistair Honeybun.

Once they leave, she rushes to call the only listing in the phone book and finds him at home – sick with bad cold and in no mood for what [he assumes] is a prank phone call.  He hangs up.  She decides to go to his house to make him listen – she just can’t face finding out about his death on the news.  He listens this time and they’re about to leave when the baddies show up – and now both of them are running for their lives.  Make that all three of them, as they take off on a motorcycle that Angie is terrified of [and that’s before he even starts it up], complete with Alistair’s pet dachshund, Jaws, in a one-dachshund-sized pouch.

Along the way they repeatedly hide out and then are found and attacked by the bad guys, spend a lot of time trying to figure out why someone wants to kill Alistair, and repeatedly terrify Angie by driving too fast, too recklessly and much too dangerously.

I found the dialog laugh-out-loud funny, the suspense was good (although the hero and heroine do occasional really dumb things), and the characterization was strong.  The Honeybuns could be the poster family for overachievers everywhere, but they are people you’d like to know – especially if you’re having problems with bad guys.

It’s charming and it’s funny – and I immediately went out and picked up the next two.

 

Honeybun Hunks

#1  A Honeybun and Coffee

#2  Life, Liberty and Pursuit of a Honeybun

#3  Fast Track To A Honeybun

#4  A Honeybun In Hell

#5  Honeybun In A Loin Cloth (only published in ebook format as of now)

   

Honeybun Cousins

The Shadow of a Honeybun – Book 1

Honeybun Sheik – Book 2  (only published in ebook format as of now)

 

 

 

 

Women’s Fiction Review – Friendship Bread

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

 

Review by McGuffyAnn M. (nightprose)

 

Friendship Bread is a novel of loss, the connection of friendship and the healing power of sharing.

 

The characters are uniquely different, yet so typically human. One cannot help but identify with them and their lives, struggles and all. Three women in various stages of life, with its sorrows, come together over tea and Amish Friendship Bread. As their stories unfold, bonds are formed and friendship deepens.

 

The book begins with Julia finding a loaf of bread on her porch one day. It is left there anonymously, with a note to “share the starter packet” with someone. As the starter packets are passed around to the residents of this small Midwestern town, surprising things happen to the recipients. As you begin to know the main characters, you meet the townspeople.

 

A few years ago, my neighbor and now close friend, gave me a starter packet of Friendship Bread. We had been passing neighbors, but this definitely sealed the deal. I was going through some difficult things at the time, and she thought a sweet treat might cheer me up. It did; and her friendship was the best part!

 

Initially, perhaps this is what attracted me to this book and connected me to the stories of the women. I think many women will identify. The novel is sweet, like the Amish bread, and very satisfying. There are tantalizing surprises, enjoyable characters, and wonderful storytelling in this gift of a novel. The recipe for friendship bread, and other recipes, is included at the back of the book.

 

Read this book, and gift it to a friend. Don’t forget to add a starter packet of the friendship bread!

 

Mystery Monday – What Beckoning Ghost

Monday, February 27th, 2012

 

What Beckoning Ghost by Douglas G. Browne

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

The shadow of World War II looms over this 1947 mystery. Excited by séances run by a Madame Varché, the mother of a submariner lost in the North Atlantic claims to have met and talked with the ghost of her son in London’s Hyde Park. Wally the Bum also sees this apparition and, seven years later, after he sees it again, Wally is found drowned.

Harvey Tuke, “the rudest man in the Department Of Public Prosecutions,” becomes involved after he witnesses the erratic behavior of re-married wife of the submariner at a dinner party he was dragged to by his own wife.  The excitable wife is later found drowned. Aiding Tuke’s informal investigation are his superior Sir Bruton Kames, a bull in a china shop, and Wray, the sly snippy Assistant Commissioner (Crime) of Scotland Yard. The exchanges among the trio are acerbic but never unpleasantly callous.

As in his novel Too Many Cousins, Browne plots adroitly and delineates characters skillfully. The grandson of the Victorian illustrator Hablot K. Browne, better known as “Phiz,” Browne was trained as a painter before he turned to writing professionally. His descriptions are highly visual. This, on the sitting room of a respectable working class granny:

It was comfortable and scrupulously neat. What light there was filtered through the net curtain on to mahogany polished until it added a lustre of its own. Michaelmas daisies filled a vase on the table. Shelves of well-worn books, Goss china, photographs in plush or silver frames, a match-container resembling a pig and inscribed “Scratch Me”, a clock suspended in a model of the Eiffel Tower, an overmantel with an many pinnacles as St. Pancras station, oleograph and prints of “The Soul’s Awakening” and “Dignity and Impudence” – this handful from a host of ornaments recalled to Mr. Tuke the house in Albert Lane he has so recently left. … Parks and the late Victorian era seemed to be his portion just now.

 

The beauty of the Web, of course, is that we can go to Google Images and search for “Dignity and Impudence.” I urge you dog fanatics (I married one) to do so. Ditto for James Sant’s “The Soul’s Awakening,” a fine example of mainstream Victorian taste. Run “clock Eiffel Tower” too – and learn there’s more than one way to do everything.

Visual and historical details of London in the late 1940s make the story seem real. Often mentioned are the wrought-iron railings around Hyde Park that were removed and scrapped to provide metals for the war effort. Entire blocks of housing are bombed out, and set to be demolished but not cleared away, a common situation for 10 years in the city after the war. The climax narrates a thrilling subterranean chase in the storm drains under London.

Dover Publications reprinted this book and Too Many Cousins in the 1980s. Doing a search in PaperBackSwap for “Dover Pubns” and choosing the genre “Mystery, Thriller and Suspense” will probably shake loose wonderful mysteries such as Bodies in a Bookshop, Death Walks in Eastrepps, The Piccadilly Murder, and Death and the Pleasant Voices.

Happy reading.

Historical Fiction Review – The Crown

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau

 

Review by Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty)

 

 

Well…I am joining in the chorus to sing the praises of, The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau. It is in my opinion a first rate historical mystery as well as a wonderful historical fiction novel.  Now those who know me know I rarely read anything that is remotely connected with the Tudor era, it has been done to death.  But several friends said: “It is good! I know you’ll like it!” As I trust their taste, I thought why not?

Sister Joanna Stafford second cousin to King Henry VIII is a novice at the Priory of Dartford.  She has run away from the Priory, to London, to be present at her Cousin Margaret’s execution by burning.  Margaret has been convicted as rebel, for her part in the Pilgrimage of Grace.  Joanna’s motivation is one of honest compassion, so that her cousin and her dearest friend should not die alone.   She is unprepared for what she sees at the execution and in a resulting scuffle she is arrested and taken to the tower. The Stafford’s are the family, of the disgraced and also executed, second Duke of Buckingham.   A family that has a claim to the throne, this is equal, if not better than that of the Tudors.  She thinks she can explain the reasons she is there and will be released, to go back to the priory and take her punishment and resume her calling to become a nun.

But powerful, dangerous forces are at work, the Dissolution of the Monasteries has begun.   Sister Joanna has become the perfect pawn in the power struggle between the Kings counselors.  And there is something a powerful relic, the crown of Athelstan that many want, and Joanna is the corrupt Bishop Gardiner’s best hope of obtaining it for his purposes.  She agrees to look for it, not for herself but for another’s whose life depends on it.

This is an excellent mystery, and it deals very well with the fear the permeated people of the Catholic faith, and the pain of watching their religion slowly disappearing.  How much more so for those who have chosen to serve God and their faith.  Life in a cloister during these uncertain times was difficult.  I was swept up in this well written and well researched novel. I was up all night reading this. Ms Bilyeau is absolutely on my writer to watch list, and I am excited to see what is next.

5 Stars

Tattlings from the Cruise or Flamingo Frenzy

Friday, February 24th, 2012

By Cheryl (Poncer)

 

Back a few months ago, while Mary (kilchurn) and I were hot and heavy into the final stages of planning and organizing the Cruise for PBS Members, we had an email exchange that went something like this:

Cheryl to Mary: Don’t we need some pink plastic blow-up flamingos for the cruise?

Mary: No.

Cheryl: They could be prizes for some of the contests.

Mary: No.

Cheryl: But they are cute.

Mary: No.

Cheryl: And they are inexpensive and will travel easily. and there is free priority shipping.

Mary: NO. NO. NO.

 

So of course, what choice had I? I ordered a dozen of them. They were inexpensive and with free priority shipping, they arrived within days. And they were really really cute! I tossed them into my suitcase and giggled maniacally for a few minutes and promptly forgot all about them.

Fast forward to our arrival in Jacksonville. I unpacked the suitcase and Yay! Pink plastic blow-up flamingos! 12 of them! More giggles ensued, both from myself and my wonderfully funny cabin-mate, Angela (Halti4). As we settled into our cabin, and tried to get our sea legs under us, we blew up a few flamingos. More giggles. One wouldn’t or couldn’t hold his air, so we taped him to the outside of our cabin door so we could find our way back on that huge ship. Off to dinner we went, happy as, well, pink flamingos.

Later that evening, a Bon Voyage and Welcome Aboard Party was planned in Cozy (CozSnShine) and Margaret’s (Yellowdogs1) cabin. Mary was to attend, and it was surely time to release some flamingo fun. Back to the cabin to blow up another flamingo. This one held its air just fine! Angela and I traversed the huge ship and finally came to the party cabin. We knew we were getting close when all we heard was uproarious laughter leaking all over the quiet corridor. Angela knocked and we both stepped aside, like ATF officers serving a warrant at midnight. And as flamingo luck would have it, Mary was the one to answer the door! “There’s a flamingo at the door!”, she shrieked, and peels of laughter rang out from the cabin. Surely they heard us in the bridge. Not a dry, um, eye in the cabin!

 

And the fun flam-doubled and flam-tripled from there!

Flamingos were everywhere….

 

They came to dinner…

 

They went on picnics…

 

They went to bars…

 

There were flamingos on the beach,

 

There were flamingos on pirate ships…

 


Some flamingos preferred quiet mediation,  others joined the PBS Team and Tour Guides.

 

One flamingo even helped Lori (Ethelsmom) win Jeopardy – PBS Style!

Before long folks were even dressing like flamingos!

   

 

 

And so, like all good stories end, happily, Mary and the flamingos finally came to an understanding and learned to get along!

 

 

 

Some flamingo books for your reading pleasure:


Flamingo Fatale
by Jimmie Ruth Evans


The Flamingo Rising
by Larry Baker


Neon Flamingo by Matt & Bonnie Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VostromoScope – Aquarius

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

By Greg (VOSTROMO)

 

Birthstone: Amethyst  
Symbol: The Water Bearer (not “The Jugs”)
Ruling planet: Uranus (not mine)
Element: Alka-Seltzer

 

Aquarius. Nature’s way of saying “Some day, your son or daughter will appear naked onstage.” (NB: In northern California it is widely regarded as code for “We sell broken pieces of common minerals at inflated prices and dig the incense, man.”)

 

courtesy of NASA

Aquarians are ruled by Uranus (not mine) and this makes them unusual in that Uranus (not mine) is traditionally the bringer of change, but change which must occur within the eternal zodiacal cycle. When Uranus (not mine) passes closest by Earth in its elliptical 84-year solar orbit, sociopolitical, intellectual, and technological upheavals may sweep across our world, be they global or personal. This eternal/periodical conflation is symbolized well in Aquarian Shakira, whose hips swing periodically back and forth — change — while never leaving her body — eternity — though I have tried.

 

 

 

Of course, like all change, some is for the better, some the worse. Global examples include the discovery of fire, the Renaissance, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Edison’s electric light; but also the 8-track tape cartridge, high fructose corn syrup, and Paris Hilton. Personal examples include Jillian Michaels losing all that weight, Justin Timberlake finally proposing to Jessica Biel, and Jennifer Aniston never losing hope; but also Ashton Kutcher’s taking over on ‘Two and a Half Men’, Oprah moving to LA, and Sarah Palin. Yes, Aquarians are behind it all.

 

Individually Aquarians are lovers of life and readily embrace challenges, broad groups of friends, new experiences, and strangers just waiting for the bus. They make friends readily, because they are so willing to lend money and cannot grasp the point of, nor correctly spell, “receipt”. But their watery approachability has a dark side — Aquarians often get carried away with the strength of their own emotions, and fall in love easily, letting the tide of passion rush over them, only to notice the seaweed of discord too late, when the piranhas of betrayal hiding behind it have already led the killer whale of loneliness to their inflatable rafts of dashed hope and misery.

 

 

So light up some Nag Champa, put on “Hips Don’t Lie”, try on your merkin, and think of England — after all, they’re not looking at YOUR body, they’re looking at the CHARACTER’S body. World of difference, unless it’s really cold.
*****

 

This month’s forecast: Rooney Mara will legally change her name to Andy Rooney Mara. Sean Penn will buy the Falkland Islands and turn them over to a consortium of Jessica Biel, Jennifer Aniston, Jillian Michaels and Ashton Kutcher, then realize his mistake and re-dedicate them to housing Sarah Palin. You have a container of yogurt in the back of the fridge dating from 1974.

 

 

 

Escape from the Island of Aquarius by Frank E. Peretti

 

Legends of Incense Herb and Oil Magic by Lewis deClaremont

 

Wild Flowers of the Falkland Islands by
T.H. Davies, J.H. McAdam and the Falkland Islands Trust

 

Uranus: The Seventh Planet by Michael D. Cole

 

 

Romance Review – The Royal Treatment

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

 

The Royal Treatment by MaryJanice Davidson

 

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

Hysterically funny read!  If you’re looking for The Thornbirds or The Tudors – don’t stop here.  This is a book for those of us who worship at the altar of snarky dialogue.  And for those who love a heroine so far south of Cinderella that she wouldn’t have gone to the ball unless she was really bored or wanted to check out the appetizers. And a hero who’s perfectly OK with marrying whoever Dad picked out and doing his best to produce an heir – when he’s not busy with his studies on penguins, of course. Is he surprised when she says no…

 

“Why won’t you marry me?” he blurted, then smacked himself on the forehead.

“Whoa! Easy on the self-flagellation, there, dude.”

“I’m supposed to woo you,” he explained.

“Well, don’t waste the woo on me. Not that it’s not a really nice offer. Because it is!”

“So. Why won’t you?”

“Because, frankly, being queen sounds like a gigantic pain in the ass.”

“I offer you a country and you tell me it’s a pain in the ass?”

 

The basic setup is Alaska was never bought by the US so it seceded and set up its own monarchy.  Now several generations later the royal family continues to be made up of intelligent but eccentric characters: such as the King who sneaks off to go fishing in disguise and Crown Prince David who knows that that he’ll be king one day but is far more interested in using his Marine Biology degree studying penguins.  Enter Christina, newly fired from a cruise ship where she was a cook for objecting to the head chef’s advances.  She is a no-nonsense American with down-to-earth values – who the King meets and decides she’ll be just PERFECT for David.  As the first step he talks her into visiting them at the Sitka Palace…

 

Cut to parts 2 & 3 – preparations and the royal wedding

Christina’s comment:  Getting married’s probably not so bad. It’s all the screwing around beforehand that gives you a migraine.

 

On the way to the wedding, Christina proceeds to run roughshod over dress designers, protocol officers, catering staff, wedding planners, and various wedding traditions to finally achieve a royal wedding without frou-frou, a wedding dress she could breathe in, shoes she could walk in, and a Crisco-free wedding cake.

 

And lastly, part 4 – if this was Cinderella it would be fade to black behind the ‘And they lived happily ever after…’ voiceover.  But it isn’t and things happen and the action gets intense…

 

Again, this is a funny book.  In fact, it’s a very funny book.  Fun characters, intriguing setting and a plot that moves right along.  Enjoy!

 

 

Alaskan Royal Family

1. The Royal Treatment

2. The Royal Pain

3. The Royal Mess