Death by Chocolate by Julie Anne Lindsey

Death by ChocolateDeath by Chocolate Finished 6-27-12, rating 2.5/5, 289 pages, pub. 2012

I briefly met Julie at the Ohioana Book Festival and picked up her book by the title alone.  This is her first book, but she already has plans to publish books 2 and 3 in the series.  I love her blog Musings from the Slush Pile. This is my fifth stop on my Ohio author tour.

Ruby Russell has just found out her husband has been cheating on her with a much younger woman.  Instead of confronting the jerk she mixes his Viagra with some chocolate mousse and leaves it as a treat when he arrives home.  The next morning Ruby wakes up to a dead husband and some very incompetent detectives.  Ruby goes on to use her deadly culinary skills to deliver justice to her town and her best friend Charlotte is along for the ride.  When Ruby’s son comes home with a bride-to-be the crazy reaches a fever pitch.

This book is completely over the top.  Ruby, who you realize is stark raving mad about 50 pages in, goes on to kill many more people before, well, I can’t tell you that.  I had a major problem with Ruby.  I did not like her at all and I didn’t find her craziness funny.  I couldn’t relate to anything that was going on in the book which made the book drag on for me.  I wanted to like it and maybe it’s just because there’s a lot going on around here right now and I’m in no mood to suffer fools.

When I looked around it seemed that the other bloggers who have read it liked it, so what do I know?  The storytelling was okay and all of the characters were full of interesting foibles.  If you like high body counts in your mystery with a dash of nuttiness them maybe this would work for you.

Junes 5 Word Movie Reviews – Join in and win $ for Charity

A slow movie month!

Every time you add 5 words of your own to one of my reviews then you donate $1 to charity.  What charity, you ask?  The charity is chosen by the person who has the most reviews once we reach 100. (Last charity herePLEASE leave a clear 5 word comment so I can give credit for it.

You can add reviews to any of my past movie posts AND see who is in the contributing lead here.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, 2011 (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint)     Grade A-

Fitting end to remarkable series.

Filled with action, drama, humor. (Kathy)

My Harry Potter life complete!   (Kay)

Ricochet, 1991 (Denzel Washington. John Lithgow, Kevin Pollak, Ice-T)  Grade C

Ridiculous but two great leads.

A female figure in silhouette stands before an enormous statue of a humanoid head. Text at the middle of the poster reveals the tagline "The Search For Our Beginning Could Lead To Our End". Text at the bottom of the poster reveals the title, production credits and rating.Prometheus,2012 (Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron)   Grade D

Laughable search for life’s beginning.

Humans deserving alien body invasion. (Teddyree)

Cinderella Quiz – guessing closed

I am currently giving away the book Cinder on audio (here to enter) and thought we’d take a look at some other adaptations of the popular fairy tale.

You have until noon Sunday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round will last til August.  The person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!  Last week’s Dropout Quiz here.  Leaderboard and rules here.

I just need the name of the movie for the first five.  Some of are were very loose adaptations of Cinderella 😉

1.     Ever After  2.   Ella Enchanted/Princess Diaries 3.  A Cinderella Story  4.   Enchanted   5. Maid in Manhattan

6. Gregory Maguire took on the Wizard of Oz in his first book and Cinderella in his second.  Do you know the title?  Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

7. Lil is the fallen godmother of Cinderella in this unique take on the Cinderella story written by Carolyn Turgeon.  Godmother:The Secret Cinderella Story

8. Mercedes Lackey rewrote the Cinderella story in this book, the first of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series.  The Fairy Godmother

9. A modern and fresh take on the fairy tale by Malinda Lo.  Ash

10. In Cinder by Marissa Meyer, what is it that makes her so unique?  (there are a few right answers here so don’t be afraid to guess)  There are many things but the most obvious is that she’s a cyborg.

An Infinite Number of Monkeys by Les Roberts

An Infinite Number of Monkeys: A Saxon Mystery (#1)An Infinite Number of Monkeys. Stacy and Janet are both rating it 3.75 stars.

I’ve raved about the Milan Jacovich series set in Cleveland and when given the opportunity to read Roberts first book and series set in Los Angeles I said yes and brought my mom along for the fun (post here).  I stopped by his blog and saw this recent post about the publication of his first book and Ray Bradbury.  I thought I’d share because it’s a good one and it’ll make you want to write a fan letter.  This is the fourth stop on my Ohio author tour and my second by Les Roberts.

This is book 1 in the Saxon series and right now the whole series is half price on ebooks (info here).

My mom reads all the time, especially now that she’s retired, so I convinced her to try a joint review with me.  We may do more in the future after some tweaking.  So, please welcome my mom, Janet.

Saxon is half private eye, half actor with only half a name.  Les Roberts claims that he doesn’t know Saxon’s given name, so here are a few suggestions from us…

Stacy: He does seem to like the ladies, so Casanova or Bond. Saxon Bond.

Janet: I’d pick a strong name like Jack or Luke.

How did you feel about Saxon?

Janet: Saxon is a strong character and very likable.   I liked that Saxon’s best friend in the whole world was Jo, his bookkeeper and secretary.

Stacy: Except for his inclination to fall in love on sight, I liked him.  I don’t know how good Saxon was as an actor, but he was a great private detective.  He knew the right people, wasn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with those more dangerous than he was, and he always seemed to ask the right questions. He was tough, fair, and smart. 

Saxon was investigating a possible attempted murder and became involved with a bestselling author and his daughter.  What did you think of the story?

Stacy: I liked it.  It felt like a throwback to some of my favorite movies in the mystery noir genre. I think the Los Angeles film scene was a perfect setting to enhance the comparison. 

Janet: The story moved along well and since there were no shortage of suspects, I did not guess who the murderer was until the end.

Did you have a favorite part?

Janet: My favorite part of the book was how it all came together at the end.  It was action packed.

Stacy: I liked that I kind of guessed the big reveal but still didn’t know for sure who the culprit was.  Made me feel smart and confused at the same time.

One word to describe the book.

Stacy: Noirish

Janet: If I had to describe the book in a word it would be ‘fast-paced’.  Sorry, I know that’s two words.

This was Roberts’ first book and series.  How does is compare to the Milan series?

Janet:  This was my first Saxon book and I plan to read the others.  I have read the Milan Jacovich mysteries and loved every one.  Milan is still my favorite sleuth, but Saxon is definitely worth the read. 

Stacy: I like the Milan series better, but that may be because it’s set in my town of Cleveland.  While Milan and Saxon have a lot in common, part of my love for Milan comes from his love of family and I don’t get that from Saxon.  Yet.  I do plan on reading the rest of the series.

I want to thank Jane from Gray & Company for sending us the book.

Sundays with Gage – All Boy

Gage likes trucks, cars, planes, trains, picking up things that are too big for him and running with them as fast as possible around the house, hitting his head on the floor…basically only sitting still for more than a few minutes to watch Elmo.  So you can imagine how cool it was when we had some guys come this week to work under the deck.

We’d turn on Elmo on in the family room and he’d take breaks to come to the kitchen when the pounding or power tools got to be too much temptation.

 I know that some people think that boys learn to be boys and girls learn to be girls by the toys they are given and the way they are treated as babes and there is something to that I’m sure.  But I’m just as sure that when it comes to the love of power tools some things are just inherent.

My first book on a Kindle

I have a confession to make.  I love books.  I love to sit down with a book in hand, excitement over the story inside.  Before I start with page one I might skim the flap or back cover and I almost always read about the author first.  I’ll look at the cover, maybe check the publication date.  It’s a very tactile thing.  It’s a comfortable, happy feeling, holding a book in my hands.

I’ve never been one to need the next tech gadget so ereaders weren’t much of a temptation, but in the past few years so many bloggers have fallen in love (or at least serious like) with their readers and I started to pay attention.  I have a house filled to the brim with shelves of overflowing books and have deluded myself into believing that someday, one day far in the future, I will read them all.  Ereaders will not aid me in fulfilling that goal.

After my review of The Duke of Cleveland by Les Roberts I received a very nice email from Les and an offer to read his very first book from his publicist, Jane.  The only catch is that it was an ebook.  Well, I decided to have my mom download it on her Kindle and then we could both read it.

I’m not going to rush out and buy one tomorrow, but I did enjoy the experience.  It was nice to choose my font and background lighting and I loved the size of it.  I didn’t really use any of the features and since I was borrowing it from mom I really didn’t take the time to learn what they were. 

I won’t say that I’m a convert, but I am that much closer to buying one.  It will be a Nook though.  I’d be glad to hear any thoughts, good and bad, about the Nook.

My mom and I both read An Infinite Number of Monkeys: A Saxon Mystery (#1)and we’re working on a joint review.  Stay tuned…

Drop Out Quiz

This year we are celebrating seven high school graduations.  Seven!!  Four of my cousins produced 5 graduates, our next door neighbor another, and a neighbor/Gage’s sometimes babysitter rounds out the list.  It’s an expensive year.  Let’s see if you can guess these famous authors who never celebrated their high school graduations because they dropped out.

You have until noon Sunday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round will last til August.  The person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!  Last week’s Whis is Older Quiz here.  Leaderboard and rules here.

1. This author’s mother was murdered and the case has never been solved.  It led to severe depression and to his dropping out of school.  His confusion and obsession over his mother’s murder led to his interest in Elizabeth Short, The Black DahliaJames Ellroy

2. This New York City journalist and novelist (his last being Tabloid City, 2011 ) left school at 15 to work as an apprentice sheet metal worker.  Friends with Bobby Kennedy he was one of four men to disarm Sirhan Sirhan after his assassination.  Pete Hamill

3. This London born bestselling author is best known for her Lucky Santangelo series that has continued over the last 30 years.  She was expelled from school when she was 15.  Jackie Collins

4. This Nobel Laureate repeated his junior and senior years of high school, but even the Sound of his Fury couldn’t help him graduate.  I wonder if he regretted it As he Lay Dying.  William Faulkner

5. This Native Son had been valedictorian of his grade school but had to drop of out school at 15 to help earn money for the family.  Black Boy is his autobiography.  Richard Wright

6. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn couldn’t have cared less about his lack of education.  Mark Twain

7. The hills are alive with the beautiful voice of this actress and children’s book author.  Julie Andrews

8. This early female erotica author dropped out of school at 16.  I wonder if Henry and June approved?  Anais Nin

9. This long time Yankee catcher and manager is famous for his Yogiisms, like, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”  He co-wrote a few books with his sound observations.  He dropped out of school in the eighth grade.  Yogi Berra

10. This author’s Sense and Sensibility weren’t learned in the classroom.  Jane Austen

Gage says Happy Father’s Day!

Gage is blessed to have the best father and papaw and it’s because of them he will grow up to be the best of men.

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
~ Henry Ward Beecher

Showing love and respect (even if the couple is no longer together) is one of life’s early lessons.

Hope the day was full of love and fond memories for all.

Best Fathers in Film

It’s the weekend to celebrate fathers so I thought I’d share my favorite dads on the big screen and hope you’ll share yours in the comments (or write your own post and I’ll link it to this one).  And yes, I did cheat with #6, but it’s my list so you’ll have to live with it 🙂

#1 Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)  I don’t think too many people will disagree that this widower was evrything a father should be.  He loved his children and wanted to instill good values.  He didn’t just tell his kids how to be a good human being, he showed them in everything he did.  He wasn’t perfect, but as close as you can get.

#2 George Banks (Father of the Bride)  I have a soft spot for poor George.  He’s trying to come to terms with his little girl all grown up and ready to marry and his love for her is so obvious.  Every girl wants a dad who loves her so much.

#3 Daniel (Crash) Who didn’t fall in love with this dad who played a game with his daughter at night to make her feel safe in a city that wasn’t.  His devotion to her was tear worthy.

#4 Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness) You don’t need a home or money to have the most important thing in life, the love of a parent struggling to do right.

#5 Richard Hoover (Little Miss Sunshine) Putting his daughter’s dream first, no matter the circumstances or motivations, makes this dad an easy pick.

#6 Leon (The Professional) Okay, so this assassin wasn’t really Mathilda’s dad, but he was better than her dad.  He was willing to protect her life with his own.

#7 Daniel (Love Actually) A stepdad becomes sole provider when his wife dies and his grace and humor win the boy, and us, over.

#8 Furious Styles (Boyz ‘N the Hood) Furious is trying to keep his son on the straight and narrow in a neighborhood that can be anything but.  I loved his devotion to raising his son, and any other boy, well.

So tell me, who are your favorite movie dads?

The Diary, by Eileen Gouge

The DiaryThe Diary, Finished audio 6-14-12, rating 3/5, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio 6 hours 30 minutes. Read by Susan Ericksen

Elizabeth Marshall lies in a nursing home after a stroke has left her unresponsive.  Her two grown daughters discover her old diary as they prepare for the worst and pack up their childhood home.  As they read the diary together they discover a mother they never knew, one with hopes, heartbreak, passion, and strength.  The diary describes the two loves of Elizabeth’s life and the ultimate moment when she had to choose between the two.

First, let me quibble with the description provided by the publisher.  The last line is, It’s also the story of the unshakable bond between a mother and her daughters.  Um, no, it’s really not.  The daughters, obviously, knew very little about their mother as a person and there was really no chance for them to recover that lost time except through a series of diary entries that covered only a small portion of their mother’s youth.

This book had three viewpoints, the daughters in current day, their mother’s written entries, and then the detailed story behind each entry which was not in the first person.  I found the jump between the three off-putting.  I liked Elizabeth’s story, but the jumping in and out of it left me less than fully engaged.  I actually started to resent the daughters for intruding on their mother’s story with their boring and clueless observations.  Yes, that seems harsh, but it’s true.  If they had been more compelling characters it may have worked  better for me since Elizabeth was a great character and I’d have rather heard the story straight from her.

Elizabeth’s story was a good one, even if there wasn’t anything terrible original.  The only thing that set it apart is how it was told and while I disliked the jumping between viewpoints it did allow for some much needed suspense at the end. The end was not a complete surprise to me (as it was to those silly daughters) but there were enough questions to want me to keep listening.  Why did Elizabeth end up with stable Bob and not passionate AJ?  Inquiring minds want to know.

I thought it was a solid and enjoyable audio book, but I wasn’t totally into it.  I borrowed the audio book from the library.