Sunday, April 30, 2017

Billionaire Blend

By Cleo Coyle

A new customer at Village Blend ( a New York City coffeehouse) has the baristas abuzz. Handsome billionaire Eric Thorner has been coming in and quizzing the staff on their knowledge of coffee. Manager Claire Cosi finally gets to meet him and dazzle him with her encyclopedic knowledge of all the ways coffee can be prepared. It turns out Eric has a proposition for her. But before she can find out what his proposition is, his car, parked outside, explodes, killing his chauffeur and heavily damaging the coffee shop and hurting him and Claire too.
Even though she is hurt (but not badly) Claire has the presence of mind to tend to Eric and call 911. Eric is hustled off to the hospital and Claire is left to deal with the disaster that has put the coffee shop out of business for the foreseeable future.
But the tech tycoon steps up and arranges for the shop to be speedily repaired, including the addition of an awesome new coffee machine, the Slayer ( And he explains what he wanted from Claire before the blast: he wants her to develop a special coffee made of the most delicious, subtle and expensive coffee beans in the world.
But who wanted Eric dead? Claire has a large bump of curiosity and the chance to tackle a new mystery plus make some much need cash has her putting her concerns aside and embarking on new adventure, traveling the globe with Eric and Matt (her ex-husband) searching for the perfect coffee bean and solving the many mysteries in Eric's life.

This was an OK read. I have nothing against it. It was quite acceptable. But it never really grabbed me the way I would like a book to do.

For another review, see

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Give Up the Ghost

By Juliet Blackwell

Mel Turner is a building contractor. She does a lot of renovation work. She also has the dubious ability to see ghosts.
Andrew Flynt is the proud owner of a renovated Victorian mansion. The mansion's insides were completely gutted and modernized. But in the process of renovating the house, a ghost became aroused and upset and made life difficult for the Flynts. So they decided to sell the house. But the ghost keeps scaring potential buyers away.
Flynt hired a psychic to help him with the problem and the psychic, Chantelle, told him the ghost didn't like the changes and she gave him a list of things that needed to be restored to put the ghost to rest. Thus the hiring of Mel Turner.
The first thing Turner decided to do was pay a visit to Chantelle. But when she arrived at Chantelle's apartment it was only to find her dead with her brother kneeling beside his sister's body.
And Mel Turner's new renovation project just got a lot more complicated.

This was a fairly good read. It really got my interest for the first half of the book. But then it just seemed to drag on and on and I was getting tired of it. But I think the first part was stellar, I just wish it held up better.
For another review, see

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

By J. Ryan Stradal

Eva Thorvald is a gifted chef with an exquisite palate. She throws occasional private dinners which have very long waiting lists and cost thousands of dollars per person. This is her story.
It starts out with Eva's mother deserting baby Eva and her father, Lars. Lars soon dies and Eva is adopted by Lars' brother Jarl and his wife, Fiona.
In grade school, Eva was picked upon and bullied. She got her revenge in a very unusual way and then ran away to her cousin, Braque, Braque is in college and has just discovered she is pregnant when Eva shows up.
Eva's refined palate and passion for food leads her to a career in the food industry. In the course of time, her life intersects with lots of other people as she finds her niche in the world of fine cuisine. Yet, at the end of the book, Eva is eating mac and cheese, broccoli and drinking beer with Pat Prager's Lutheran peanut butter bars for desert. And that suits her just fine.

Even though this is the story of Eva, the book jumps around a lot and the story switches from one perspective to another, with Eva's story set off to the side. There are so many characters and their lives intersect in many different ways. I had to make a list to keep track of them all. Still, it was a really interesting story and very unforgettable.

For a better review, see

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Girl Waits With Gun

By Amy Stewart

It's the early 1900s and Constance, Norma and Fleurette are out for a ride in their buggy when a car smashes into it, injuring both Constance and Fleurette. Unfortunately, the man driving the car was a thoroughly unpleasant person. He claimed the women ran into his car and he refused to pay for the repairs to the buggy.
Constance tracked him down to his office in the factory his family owned. She found him surrounded by his gang of toughs but that didn't stop her from demanding payment.
She may have been in the right, expecting him to pay for the repairs. But he is of another mind and thus begins a trying time for the three women with harassing letters, bricks thrown through the windows of their farm house and threats to kidnap the youngest one, Fleurette, who is only eighteen. Their house is broken into, their furniture and knick-knacks smashed, and a fire started in the kitchen in an attempt to burn down the house.
Constance goes to the sheriff and he and his deputies try their best to keep the women safe from the gang. The sheriff even goes so far as to arm the three women with pistols and teach them how to use them safely. And working together, Constance and the sheriff will attempt gather enough evidence to put Mr. Evil Factory Punk and his gang of toughs behind bars for a good while.
The three women live in an isolated farm house they inherited after their mother died. The two older sisters are in their thirties and the youngest is a mere teenager. Since there is no man in their lives, the gangsters view them as easy targets. But Constance is made of stern stuff and she refuses to knuckle under to the threats and scare tactics.

This was an interesting story, based loosely on the real Constance Kopp, who was one of the first women to be a sheriff's deputy. The sheriff was so impressed with her during the course of that terrible year when she and her sisters were under attack, that he offered her a position as deputy and she accepted.
However, I was rather disappointed because, once again, I was fooled by the blurbs which claimed the book was "romping, hilarious" and "funny" and that it had "humor." What the blurbers consider to be funny and what I consider to be funny must be vastly different. I didn't find the book the least bit amusing. This is not to say it was not a good and interesting story and I enjoyed it very much. But funny? No.

For another review, see

Monday, April 10, 2017

Miss Julia Delivers the Goods

By Ann B. Ross

Things are all upset at Miss Julia's house. Hazel Marie is ill and she has ended her long-time relationship with J.D. Pickens. He just won't pop the question and she is sick and tired of waiting. In fact, she is so sick she ends up in the hospital.
Miss Julia is pretty sure Hazel Marie's problem is "female matters." After all, Hazel Marie is well into her forties. However, it turns out to be the exact opposite. Hazel Marie is not in menopause, she is pregnant!
Once she finds out she is pregnant, Hazel Marie is determined to hide her fallen condition from the judgmental folks in their town, even if she has to move to Florida. The one thing she refuses to do is reconcile with Pickens or even let him know his is going to be a daddy.
Meanwhile, Sam, Miss Julia's husband, has had his old house broken into and some papers relevant to a book he is writing stolen. And the originals  of the papers at the court house have gone missing too. What doesn't make sense is why anyone would want such papers dealing with criminal cases from decades ago.
So Miss Julia has two crises to solve and spends most of the novel accomplishing very little beyond wondering what can be done to make things right.

This was a boring story. Feels like the author has run out of things to say about her characters. As I said above, very little happens beyond Miss Julia and crew wondering what they are going to do to keep Hazel Marie from leaving and how they are going to get the star-crossed lovers back together. The missing papers plot line has nothing to do with the Hazel Marie plot line and comes off a mere filler. Disappointing.

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders

Based on an actual event, the death of Abraham Lincoln's young son, Willie.
After his body is placed in a crypt in the cemetery, Willie's spirit leaves his body and meets the other denizens of the cemetery, the spirits of the dead who have chosen to linger on Earth rather than pass on to their ultimate fate. Since Willie is an innocent child, the spirits expect he will soon pass on, as most little ones do.
But then Lincoln comes to visit his dead son and Willie, who doesn't quite understand he is deceased, lingers to be with his father.
Actually, the spirits inhabiting the cemetery also don't seem to understand they are dead. They think they are merely ailing and refer to their coffins as sick-boxes. There are spirits who have been there for many decades who still don't get they are dead. But they all are anxious to tell young Willie their life stories.
So Willie lingers because his father keeps returning to his dead son and eventually Willie comes to know he is dead and communicates that knowledge to the other spirits, causing much consternation and mass exodus of spirits ensues as the realitzation they are all dead finally sinks in.

This was an interesting story, especially as it includes excerpts from books about Lincoln. Although I did read that some of those references are not real.

For another review:

Saturday, April 01, 2017


By Gregory Benford

Earth is under attack! A billions-of-years-old intelligent black hole has come to reap the planet, with no regard for the life upon it.
Just as this threat emerges, Dr. Ben Knowlton, astrophysicist, is in the midst of a consuming personal tragedy: his beloved wife Channing is dying of cancer.
Putting tragedy aside, Ben, along with other experts, gather to develop a defense against the relentless Eater. But what can puny humans do to stop Eater's inexorable advance?

This was an OK read. It is of the "hard science" genre of science fiction, a bit too technical for me.