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Friday, September 28, 2012

Review - Death Where the Bad Rocks Live

I reviewed the first novel in this series (click here for review.)  Following up on such a successful debut novel is a challenge.  Travel with me to the desolate and atmospheric Badlands of South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a Cold Case that is still taking lives.

Author: C. M. Wendelboe

Copyright: September 2012 (Berkley) 394 pgs

Series: 2nd in Spirit Road Mysteries

Sensuality: smattering of crude references and language

Mystery Sub-genre: Western Police Procedural

Main Characters: Lakota FBI Special Agent Manny Tanno

Setting: Modern day, Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The book picks up with FBI agent Manny Tanno in the middle of the South Dakota Badlands examining three recently discovered bodies found in an old 1940's car long forgotten.  The area had once been used for bombing practice in the '40s and it looks like the bodies are from back then.  Initially it looks like the car wondered on the range and a bombing run killer the occupants.  But one of the three bodies is obviously a recent addition to the car, apparently from the late '60s.  It looks more and more like murder, and that means Manny gets the investigation of this very cold case.  Manny quickly finds that he has a political powder keg since the most recent body was college roommates with the newly nominated Supreme Court Justice - Judge High Elk, who doesn't want anything standing in his way for the nomination, especially a cold case.  Then more murders occur to people connected to the case.

Several chapters take you back to the 1940s as you follow Moses Ten Bears, a spiritual leader and reknowed painter, through the events that lead up to his death in a car on the bombing range.  Those chapters break up the flow a little bit, but it makes for an interesting look into the what made Moses so mythical for the tribe.  The reader also sees Manny and tribal cop Willie Looks Twice struggle with some personal issues.  Manny's childhood menace is still chief of the Tribal police, and still taunts Manny. 

The characters are all nicely drawn. We get to know the tribal medical examiner Precious, nicknamed Pee Pee, whose biggest pleasure in life is outbidding the Chief for Elvis memorabilia.  The Chief of Tribal Police also hires his niece as a tribal cop, who brings her own drama into the picture.

The setting is the eerie and otherworldly Badlands for most of the story.  There is one particular stand-out scene where Manny is playing a deadly cat and mouse dance, in the middle of a storm, in the dark, and in the Badlands.  It will stay in my memory for a while I think.

The plot takes a winding route as the investigation proceeds.  It has some spots that slow a little too much, and the Chief's niece is a distracting sidestory.  I didn't like that particular character, and her purpose wasn't clear even upon completion.  The confrontation with the killer had some tense moments while being believable.

As the second entry in the series, it is setting a high bar with intricate story telling.  FBI Agent Manny Tanno makes a fine troubled hero dealing with life at 40 something as he is discovering his culture and himself.

Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

Here is a short video of the Badlands that provides an excellent feel for the terrain where much of the story takes place.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Abandoned Walmart becomes public library

It is not uncommon for a business to relocate or close all together, leaving a retail space empty.  In Minneapolis they were faced with a 124,500 square foot former Walmart space.  They decided to make the roughly  two-and-a-half football fields worth of space into a public library.  But that was a huge task.  

They sought a functional and affordable interior design.  The new library has become the largest single story library in the U.S. and won the 2012 Library Interior Design Competition.  The move paid off with increased new user registration.  Check it out in the photos, and notice the number of youth using the library.

Way to go Minneapolis!  Yeah.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Just 1 Book Organization

This week I wanted to share about an eleven year old girl who is impacting her city by providing books for community centers in Orlando.  She is working to gather the books needed. Next, she wants to tackle getting a book mobile system started.

Just 1 Book is a Central Florida organization started by 11-year-old Sarah, with a mission on providing books to less fortunate kids in the Orlando area.  Sarah decided that if she could collect just one book from every child in her elementary school that would be 763 books she could donate to the kids in need in the next town.

Just 1 Book has teamed up with Orlando City Soccer and is collecting books during Orlando’s first playoff game on August 31. The books collected will join the thousands of other books the organization has collected from people who have donated books from around the world.  Sarah’s ultimate goal is to have “Just 1 Book” Book Mobiles so the books can be brought to kids in their own neighborhoods. With your help, Sarah and Just 1 Book can reach that goal.

“We can make a difference in the life of a child by giving them the gift of books,” said Sarah. “I’m asking for your help. Please help me fulfil my dream of providing books to all kids in need.”

"I thought it would take longer for it [Just 1 Book] to catch on and for people to realize that kids want and need books," Sarah said. "People say, 'Oh, kids don’t like to read anymore.' They do."

All donations are tax deductible under section 170 of the IRS Code because Just1Book  is classified as a public charity under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Support childhood literacy by donating to Just 1 Book; make the difference in the life of a child!  You can donate on their website (click here), or contact them to donate books directly. 

Here is a video about Sarah starting this project.

From a friend on Facebook - these muffins are a true taste of Autumn; slightly tart and sweet with the intense flavor of granny smith apples with just a whisper of maple as you savor each bite. These go best with any nut-flavored coffee~

* Maple Apple Streusel Muffins

1 egg
1/2 c milk
1/4 c unsalted butter melted
1 c coarsely chopped unpeeled apple, Macintosh, granny smith or other tart apple is best.
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
a few grates of nutmeg
1 tsp maple flavoring (or use 1/4c maple syrup, and reduce the milk to 1/4 c)

Preheat oven to 400.

Prepare muffin tins with paper, or silicone liners, or grease. Beat egg, and stir in milk, butter, apples and flavoring. Combine dry ingedients and stir in just to mix. Never over mix muffins because you will lose the texture and they will not be delicate but coarse and chewy.

* Streusel:

1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c butter

Blend with fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of muffins.

Spoon into muffin cups andbake for 20-30 minutes.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review - Buffalo Bill's Dead Now

This week the review is of the newest book in the Wind River Reservation Mysteries.  I had reviewed the prior book in the series, The Spider's Web (click here) and interviewed the author (click here).  This addition to the series features artifacts from Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and specifically Chief Black Heart's ancestral regalia he wore in the shows.  This is a fascinating slice of America's history integrated a murder mystery.

Author: Margaret Coel

Copyright: Sept 2012 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 16th in Wind River Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Jesuit priest, Father John O'Malley

Setting: Modern day, Arapaho reservation in Wyoming

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The reservation is anxiously awaiting the return of the regalia worn by Arapaho Chief Black Heart in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It had been lost for 120 years until discovered in an ancient vault in Germany where the Wild West Show had performed. Artifact collector Trevor Pratt is donating the history-rich-regalia to the small Arapahoe museum on the reservation. Sadly, thieves strike while the artifacts are enroute. Both Father John and Vicky Holden sense that Trevor Pratt knows more about the heist than he will admit. When they discover Pratt's body after nearly being run off the road by a speeding car leaving the scene, their suspicians are confirmed.

Their investigation uncovers a blood feud between two Arapaho families about the disappearance of the regalia during the Wild West Show tour of Europe. The more they uncover about Pratt and the long-lost regalia, the more danger Father John and Vicky are in. To complicate the situation, Vicky's old flame Adam returns to town wanting to reconcile with her. The long standing feelings between Father John and Vicky are once again ever-present and perhaps about to spill over.

Father John is human and compassionate with the native Americans on the reservation, displaying sensitivity to their issues. Vicky is very much alone and vulnerable in this book. While they are both strong character depictions, the tension because of their "forbidden love" has got to give at some point to maintain reader interest in this subplot much longer. Adam is a character that brings a dissonant chord to the status quo and shakes things up. Adam maybe the catalyst to bring about change, but it isn't realized in this book. Perhaps in the next. Again, a supporting character that is memorable is retired Bishop Harry. I find myself wanting to know about him.

The Wind River Reservation is hauntingly evoked. The beauty and bitter-sweetness of reservation life colors the scenes.

The plot employs a trick, from the first chapter the reader thinks they know who the murderer is, but there are surprising. The culprit isn't who you think it is. There are chapters interspersed that take us back to the Wild West show in Germany and slowly reveals what happened to Chief Black Heart's regalia. Those chapters are fantastic glimpses into the spectacle that was Buffalo Bill's traveling show with hundreds of people recreating the story of the American West. Many times I wanted to stay with that storyline and not revert to the modern murder mystery.

The confrontation with the killer had a good dose of suspense. The wrap up provides answers to the mystery of Chief Black Heart's regalia lost for over a century and hopefully settles the feud. The situation between Father John and Vicky remains open though.

this is another strong entry in the Wind River series with an interesting take on artifact theft. This series may be the single best image booster for Catholic priests around - with its portrayal of Father John struggling to follow his path, while compassionately laying bare the Native American plight on reservations.

Ratings: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Cool Bookshelves

The randomly picked winner of the Thrill Week book giveaway is....<> Amanda Ray.  Amanda, you should have received an email asking for your physical mailing address. Thank you everyone for participating.  

Many people don't like the digital book wave, and still love the physical book.  I love unusual bookcases for those physical books.  Here are a few for your enjoyment...or your next spending splurge.

For the person who always wanted a concealed room.  
Bwaaa Haaa Haaa.

Artwork and yet functional.

Enjoy the week.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review - The Burning Wire

This week I review a Jeffery Deaver thriller featuring his beloved character Lincoln Rhymes for Thrill Week.  I will warn you upfront that I am a fan of Mr. Deaver.  I was so very fortunate to have dinner, at a writer's conference, with him and he was willing to answer the many questions the ten of us threw at him.  I don't know when he ate!  That was when I purchased this book.  If you haven't read Mr. Deaver, let me introduce you to his work.

Author: Jeffrey Deaver

Copyright: June 2010 (Simon &; Schuster) 432 pgs

Series: 9th in Lincoln Rhymes Investigations

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Suspense thriller

Main Characters: Lincoln Rhymes, quadriplegic criminalist

Setting: Modern day, New York city

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

There is somebody in New York City who accesses the Manhattan electrical power substation and tampers with it to create an arc flash that destroys a city bus - full of people.  This person soon starts sending demands to Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light or he will strike again. Forensic expert Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs are brought into the case along with FBI and Homeland Security's special terrorist task force who believe the attack may be from a terrorist group.  The demands or outrageous and Lincoln and Amelia race to save lives from an invisible weapon that can strike in public or private without warning.

A subplot has Lincoln working on catching the Watchmaker long distance with the Mexican authorities.  The reader also follows Lincoln as his health deteriorates from the stress of the two cases.  Emotionally Lincoln's health challenges open old emotional wounds.

I love the characterization in this series. Lincoln is a difficult and demanding forensic expert and his health makes him even more testy as this tale advances.  Lincoln is complex, in some ways his being a quadriplegic adds to that complexity.  Amelia is a counter-weight to Lincoln's intensity with her personal touch she brings to police work. Despite her witnessing the worst of human pain and debauchery, she is able to empathize with people and their pain.  The combination is effective. I would have liked more Sachs though, she mostly ran and did what Lincoln directed.  Her sections could have revealed more of her personally, besides just the arthritis.  An unexpected standout character is undercover Detective Delray on the street trying to get a lead on who is behind this. The reader is routing for him.

This book, like Deaver's other Rhyme novels, captures NY city and makes it real to people like me who have never been there.  Everything from the exciting Big Apple side to the seedier aspects are in technicolor.

I felt this book caught me from the first paragraph and didn't let go. I was riveted throughout the twists and turns.  Deaver is known for providing good twists and I thought this was definitely on par.

The climax had surprises and suspense, played out (IMO) masterfully.  The wrap-up concludes all the various storylines and you feel a part of these characters lives until the next book.

I felt this was a great, strong thriller with Deaver's characteristic suspense and pacing. 

Ratings:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

Now for a short video with Jeffrey Deaver talking about this book.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Giveaway - And When She Was Good

Thrill Week GIVEAWAY PRIZE:   1 copy of the new Laura Lippman book AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD

Entry Deadline for giveaway lasts until September 8, 11:59 p.m. (MST).

US and Canada entries only please

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

Second, leave a comment with your email address and why you would like to win this book.

All entries are to be in the comments for this post. 

I will accept entries for this giveaway Wednesday September 5 beginning immediately through to 11:59 p.m.(MST) on Saturday, September 8.    

I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your physical mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email and why you would like to win this book.

BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival -September 2012

It is the first Monday of the month - time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival.  Please help the newsletter for the blog carnival to get more subscribers.  If a blog reviews mystery/suspense/thrillers (even occasionally) then I would like to feature those reviews.  I send the newsletter out once a month announcing the deadline for submitting to this blog carnival.  Multiple entries from a blog are welcome.  Now on to this month's blog carnival.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review

Booking Mama reviwed Shunning Sarah by Julie Kramer

Thoughts in Progress reviewed The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

Rivers I Have Known reviewed The House of Silk By Anthony Horowitz and shares: A review of Anthony Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes novel, which is every bit as good as the originals.

Booking Mama reviewed Broken Harbor by Tana French

Thoughts in Progress reviewed Judgment Call by J.A. Jance

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Sketch a Falling Star by Sharon Pape

Stuff and Nonsense reviewed  Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg

Booking Mama reviewed Size 12 And Ready To Rock by Meg Cabot

A Date with a Book reviewed Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

Thoughts in Progress reviewed A Witch Before Dying by Heather Blake

Booking Mama reviewed  Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams

A Date with a Book reviewed In Deep Voodoo by Stephanie Bond

Thoughts in Progress reviewed Dying To Read by Lorena McCourtney

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Whiplash by Lou Berney

Joanne Guidoccio reviewed Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman

Booking Mama reviewed Dare Me by Megan Abbot

Tea Time with Marce reviewed Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler

Jim's Got Web reviewed Under the Dome by Stepehn King and shares: When an invisible barrier suddenly surrounds the town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, the people are imprisoned there and become involved in a scheme that includes drugs and murder.

A Date with a Book reviewed Threat of Darkness by Valerie Hansen

Mysteries and My Mysteries reviewed The Resistance by Peter Steiner

Joanne Guidoccio reviewed Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Tea Time with Marce reviewed The Hollow City by Dan Wells

A Date with a Book reviewed Free Fall by Susan Rae

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

Booking Mama reviewed Heartbroken by Lisa Unger

Tea Time with Marce reviewed White Lies by Jeremy Bates

Author Interview

Mysteries and my Musings interviewed Susan Elia MacNeal

Mysteries and my Musings interviewed Lou Berney

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A huge "Thank You" to all the wonderful bloggers out there who contributed to the carnival.  Keep them coming.

Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here.
Submit your blog entry for next month's Carnival here: (

Spread the word far and wide!!!

Post a widget on your blog for this carnival here (

Subscribe to our mailing list

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thrill Week

What is Thrill Week

It is all about Networking with Bloggers and Authors who love to read and write Thrillers, Mystery, Suspense and/or Horrors. The goal is to find new blogs and bloggers with similar interest in those genres and of course add to our huge TBR and Wishlists.

The Thrill Ride Questionnaire  
all responses relating to Genres: Mystery, Thriller and Suspense              

1)  Introduce yourself

Hey, I am a Colorado native who has always been a bookworm.  I never know what to share about myself.  I am forty-something suburbanite with an aloof cat running the house.  I love the mountains, but have found I also love to visit the beach.

2) What has been your top 3 reads this year? Link your reviews

Endangered by Pamela Beason
Wilderness suspense: Wildlife biologist racing against the clock

The Last Spymaster by Gayle Linds 
Thriller - intrigue: CIA Agent Elaine Cunningham is hunting a legendary double agent who has escaped custody, but nothing is as it seems.

The Resistance by Peter Steiner 

Nazi occupied France with villagers mounting a underground resistance.  Danger truly lurks in every corner.

3) What are you currently reading during Thrill Week?
My autographed copy of Jeffery Deaver's The Burning Wire.  Lincoln Rhyme is back, on the trail of a killer whose weapon of choice cripples New York City with fear.

The weapon is invisible and omnipresent. Without it, modern society grinds to a halt. It is electricity. The killer harnesses and steers huge arc flashes with voltage so high and heat so searing that steel melts and his victims are set afire.

4) Do you have an all time favorite cover in the genres above?  After checking out some of the other blogs, I too like most of the covers to cozy mysteries.  I would love to feature some of the artists, but so far haven't gotten far getting in touch with them.  

I usually love the covers to C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr  mysteries

5) What debut author(s) or new to you author(s) have you read within the last 12 months that have impressed you?

Now that you mention it, last year I discovered Victor Ostrovsky (Black Ghosts by Victor Ostrovsky).  Your question made me think of him and how I wanted to read more of him.  Thank you for reminding me.
  Victor Ostrovsky was a Lieutenant Commander in the Israeli military as well as a member of the elite Mossad.  He utilizes his experience and knowledge to great advantage. 

Also, I just read and reviewed my first Laura Lippman.  She is great.

6) Favorite trilogy or series you recommend to others to read in the genres above?

Oh my goodness - that is tough.  It depends on the specific genre: cozy mystery, paranormal mystery, amateur sleuth,  historical mystery, suspense, thriller.  There are so many.  Take a look through the books I have reviewed.  I follow the Seaside Knitters mysteries, The Divine Circle mysteries, the Bibliophile mysteries, the Sebastian St. Cyr  mysteries, Lady Arianna Regency mysteries,

7) What popular author(s) have you NOT read but is on your Wishlist?
Tess Gerritisen, John Sandford, Lee Child

8) Other than blogs, share with us what other tools you use or subscribe to in order to keep up with the latest news on authors, new releases, book tours, etc?
Shelf Awareness newsletter through my local indy store's website and Omni Mystery News, Stop Your Killing Me newsletter, The Big Thrill newsletter, Friends on Goodreads, and LibraryThing, TLC book tours.

9) What current book is hyped among the blogosphere that you want to read or are not interested in? Why or why not or link your review if you have read it.
Anything James Patterson - he just seems to crank them out.

David Baldacci's Zero Day - mostly I am disappointed he didn't write another Camel Club and can't get past that.  BUT I have put his newest The Innocent on my TBR list.

10) What is most important in these genres to you? Plot, characters, location, dialogue, red herrings, narrator or what mix of them?
I would have to say a mix of all.  Plot and character first, a location that is so well developed it is like a character in its own right is a plus.  Sometimes I just need a lighter tone, so some humor is nice - when it is appropriate. 

11) Recommend a book made into movie you thought both were good?
I have to say the most recent movie of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a great portrayal of the book.  I liked it much better than the first movie.

Also, The Bone Collector movie was a good movie from an amazing book.

12) Recommend a book you would like to discuss with others and possibly the author? Note – I will do a poll with participant’s choices at the end of Thrill Week and then we can agree on a date for Q&A. I will try and arrange the chosen author to participate.

 I am open to any author, but Laura Lippman or David Baldacci spring to mind.  I would have said Jeffrey Deaver - but I got to eat dinner with him and ply him with questions already at a writer's conference.

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