Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Catered St. Patrick's Day by Isis Crawford

In A Catered St. Patrick's Day, Bernie and Libby Simmons, sisters from A Little Taste of Heaven catering, become involved in a St. Patrick's Day murder. When Mike Sweeney is found floating in a vat of green beer, a likely suspect is quickly identified. It's Duncan, the nephew of the caterers' best customer, Bree Nottingham. She approaches the sisters asking if they can help clear him. As they poke around, it sure looks like Duncan is guilty, but he's not the only one that wanted Sweeney dead. It's up to Bernie and Libby to find the killer before more bodies turn up.

This is a very likeable cozy mystery. It was fun to read and quite enjoyable. Crawford has created some good entertaining characters and a pleasant story. However, it was one of those books that didn't stick with me. That is, it was not very memorable. I'm not sure why that was, but it is the 8th book in the series and I didn't read the others. Maybe if I had, I'd have taken to the characters or related to the story or something. Also, I read it rather quickly just after a few other cozy mysteries. Perhaps that made it less effective or less memorable for me. I'd be willing to be that it had more to do with my frame of mind than the quality of the book/story itself.

Having said all of that, I do have the 1st book in the series, A Catered Murder on my to-be-read bookshelf and I'm looking forward to reading it. That should give me a better indication as to whether or not I want to read more from this author.

  I love it when authors include recipes with their mysteries. Since the two main characters are caterers, the book is begging for recipes and the author doesn't disappoint. There's a recipe for Caramel Beer Sauce that sounds intriguing. I'm definitely going to have to try that one. The recipe for Florence's Lemon Cake also sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, the recipe in this uncorrected proof is incomplete.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Kensington Books website.

Thanks to those nice people from Kensington Books for this review copy.

A Catered St. Patrick's Day by Isis Crawford, Kensington Books, ©2012. ISBN 9780758247407(Uncorrected proof), 323p, includes recipes.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Day After Night tells the story of four young women who survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a French beauty; Tedi, a Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. They were held captive in the Atlit internment camp until one day they were rescued. Rather than wither and dwell on their horrible pasts, they form friendships and start anew while trying to move on with their lives, even though they are imprisoned. This fictional story is based on the true story of the rescue of over two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp in October 1945. The camp/prison was run by the British military and was situated on the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa.

I adored this book! It's definitely one of the best books I've read all year. The characters were so real and even though their backgrounds and stories were varied, they shared something in common....they all survived. The book starts out by telling the stories about the individual characters, but then branches out with stories about the camp itself and the other prisoners. The final section of the book gives the details of the escape/rescue. I easily kept track of the main characters, but I got a little lost towards the end of the book with the rescuers and guards and had to back track a little. The epilogue was superb! I loved reading about what happened after the rescue.

This subject matter is a little unusual for me. I generally stay away from WWII related stories or any war time stories for that matter. I'm just starting to read more about that time period, but haven't gotten too far. Also, I have read just a few stories about the Jewish experience, but really nothing about their plight during the Holocaust. Most of the stuff I've read was positive and uplifting. Because of this, I don't really have enough background to fully understand what was going on or what the implications were.

I loved that I learned a few things while reading the book. Like I said above I haven't read a whole lot about Jews, so some things specific to them were new to me. The whole story was enlightening, but I also learned about Zionists, Palestine and that Yiddish and Hebrew were different languages. I think I knew this, but not for sure.

New word: Palmach (used in various places): elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Jewish community. They planned and executed the rescue.

Favourite quotes:
Weeping is terrible for the complexion, but it is very good for the heart.(page 93)
Highly recommended. I'm looking forward to reading The Red Tent also by this author. I've had the book on my shelf for some time, but haven't gotten around to it.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

I borrowed this book from my friend and neighbour, Susan.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant, Scribner (Simon & Schuster) ©2009. ISBN 9781439197141(Trade paperback), 292p.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Crime Scene Detective by Carey Scott

Crime Scene Detective contains four cases for the reader to solve all the while learning about the world of forensics.

When this book showed up on my doorstep, I dove in immediately. I was so excited to learn more about being a crime scene detective. Written for 8-13 year olds, this book is well presented with lots of photographs and information that is easy to understand. The cases are not overly complicated and contain fairly easy to decipher clues for younger readers.

The cases are: robbery, arson, forgery and murder. Parents or kids don't have to worry about the book being too gory. Well, I guess, it depends on how squeamish you are, but I didn't think there was anything in the book to get grossed out over.

Besides the four cases to solve, the book contains lots of do-it-yourself activities, like revealing fingerprints, testing chemical characteristics, making a cast of your shoeprint, revealing secret messages and others. All of these have instructions on how to do it with commonly found items. While it isn't exactly how real crime scene investigators perform these tasks, I think the activities will give the reader a better understanding of the science and procedures behind it all.

There are a few warnings regarding safety at the beginning of the book. Parents and children should heed them.

The only trouble I had is that I misplaced my magnifying glass and had trouble clearly seeing the fingerprints. These old eyes don't see as well as they used to. ;)

The book also contains a table of contents, a glossary and an index. All of them are adequate for this type of book.

Highly recommended for budding police officers, criminalists and those who want to know more about the forensic sciences.

For more information about this book, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

Crime Scene Detective by by Author, DK (Dorling Kindersley), ©2007. ISBN 9780756651558(Paperback), 72p.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grace Among Thieves by Julie Hyzy

In Grace Among Thieves, Grace, the curator and manager of Marshfield Manor, has her hands full with a series of recent thefts, a film crew roaming the manor and the grounds, and Hillary, Bennett Marshfield's daughter, who inflicts havoc wherever she goes. When one of the tourists is found dead and another is injured, Grace becomes involved with the case and could end up losing her heart as well as her life.

When this book showed up in my mailbox, I ripped open the package, shouted "Yippee" and started the book almost immediately. I was hoping that I was going to love it as much as I loved all of Julie's other books that I've read. I was not disappointed at all. In fact, I think this one is my favourite one of the series so far! This book, the 3rd in the series, is an awesome cozy mystery. I love reading about this wonderful manor and all of the people who work there. The house sounds magnificent.

Hyzy's characters are great. I just love Grace. She's so busy, it's amazing she has time for herself and/or a love life. I love reading about her job and her relationship with all of the other characters. I love how the series is progressing, but I'm amazed that Grace still has a job after so many people have been murdered since she started there. Not that she was responsible for them, of course. But it does sort of remind me of Jessica Fletcher and Cabot Cove in Murder, She Wrote. You know she didn't commit any of the murders in the town, but you sort of wonder why all of these happen around her. ;)

Besides Grace, I also love reading about Frances, Bennett, Scott, Bruce and Bootsie. Of course, the story wouldn't be complete without characters you love to hate. In this case, Hillary and Flynn. Ronny Tooney is the only character I haven't quite figured out. I can't say whether or not I like him. As far as suspects go and the ending, I'll just say I suspected a few different people throughout the book, but I wasn't entirely surprised at who the culprit was. That didn't make reading the book any less enjoyable. The ending, however, left me a little sad, especially after reading this line from Grace: From this day forward, I knew I'd be more cynical, more jaded.

My only regret is that I read the book already and now have to wait so long for the next installment.

I've read all but two of Julie's books. Besides these Manor House Mysteries, she also writes the White House Chef series. All of them are terrific. For my reviews of the books I've read, see the Review by Author page and scroll down to "Hyzy: Julie".

New words:
bon vivant (page 252): somebody who lives luxuriously, especially good food and wine
ebullience (page 277): lively and enthusiastic

Highly recommended. This is a wonderful cozy mystery series.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Penguin'swebsite.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Julie Hyzy's website.

Thanks to Dana Kaye from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

Grace Among Thieves by Julie Hyzy, Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin), ©2012. ISBN 9780425251393(Mass Market), 278p.