Review: Murder at the Book Group by Maggie King

 

  • Series: Book Group Mysteries
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (December 30, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781476762463
  • Source:  Publisher

Hazel Rose and her friend Carlene formed Murder on Tour, a mystery book group,  to discuss books set in a specific geographic area. It was never their intent to form their own investigation, but when Carlene is found dead she must put on her detective hat and investigate the members of their book club.  Initially ruled a suicide by ingesting cyanide, no one who really knew Carlene believed she could have killed herself. Yet as Hazel’s investigation continues, she learns there was an awful lot about Carlene that she didn’t know…including her propensity for promiscuous behavior.

Hazel and Carlene’s relationship was always an interesting one (Carlene is married to Hazel’s ex-husband, after all) yet there is clearly something from Carlene’s past she was hiding. Cross-country moves, name changes…there was something she was trying to hide. Hazel must get to the bottom of Carlene’s history. She quickly realizes that everyone close to Carlene had a motive to kill her (even herself if you get right down to it!). Was her killer a member of their book group? Are all of their lives at risk?

Murder at the Book Group is certainly one of the heavier (and sexier) cozy mysteries I have read. Set in Richmond, VA, I particularly thrilled to recognize settings and characters I am quite fond of.  Yet as I eluded to, this cozie packed more of a punch than others in this niche. At 400 pages and a vast cast of quirky characters, there is a lot of substance to this cozie.  Certainly not a detriment to the enjoyment of this read, yet certainly a fact I feel necessary to point out to potential readers!

Perhaps it was because of this heaviness and the multitude of characters that I didn’t feel connected at all to the characters. Throughout the novel we do learn a bit about Hazel and her past (she had quite a few relationships as well) but I never really felt like I knew the real Hazel. Now, I don’t have to become fully invested in a character to appreciate a book. It certainly helps, however.

Given that this is the first in a series, I’m not going to give up. There is plenty of potential with this series! A mystery book club? Right up my alley. Thank goodness, however, I don’t have a killer in my book club. Or do I?

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2014 Cozy Mystery Week: The Kick Off

2014CozyMysteryWeekI’m excited to be kicking off the third annual cozy mystery week!  I started this themed week in 2012 as an excuse/reason to curl up with some cozy mysteries. I look forward to it, fondly, each year! While the reviews/posts won’t start until tomorrow, I wanted to set up a kick-off post for all those others participating.

In an effort to make others more familiar about the vast inventory of cozy mysteries out there, if you’ve reviewed/posted about a cozy mystery this year (yes, the entire year!) link it up below. Don’t have a blog? Post about it in the comments.  Or, if you are posting this week, link up all your posts below.  At the end of Cozy Mystery week I’ll post a winner from the link-up and the comments. That individual will win a nice selection of cozy mysteries!

I hope you enjoy this upcoming week; I know I certainly will!



Product Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® 7.0

*Note: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased the Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® 7.0 and I am not receiving compensation for this review.*

Source: BN.com

I’m known to be a bit of a tech whore; I always have to have (or at least try) the latest and greatest technology, specifically if it is an eReader. My siblings & I decided to purchase a Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® 7.0 for our mother for Christmas (no spoilers here, she already knows). The eReader she had before had long passed its due date and we wanted to get her a replacement. She has a Samsung Galaxy phone so this was a perfect fit.

Being the good daughter I am, I decided to set it up before sending it to my mother. Not to say my mother isn’t technologically savvy, but I wanted her to be able to open the product and use it right from the box. Before log, I found myself perusing the device myself. Which gave me the idea for this review.  I’ll start from the very beginning:

1. Ordering

I took advantage of a CyberMonday deal that lowered the price from $179 to $129. Can’t beat that! Unfortunately, that deal is no longer available. The following day, the device was delivered. Talk about speedy deliver!

2. Set-up

This device was remarkably easy to set-up. Add/create your Google account & Nook account information and you are good to go. Within 5 minutes, I was perusing the many available options this tablet has to offer.

3. Ease of Use

I’m an Apple girl; I have an iPad, iPhone & Macbook. That said, it didn’t take me long (after a few misses) to get comfortable with the Android-based system.   It is intuitive & quite easy to use. Most importantly, it fits remarkably well in one’s hand:

 

Source: BN.com

Source: BN.com

Major selling points:

  • Price: At under $200 for an eReader/tablet with the capabilities of this device, this is quite a bargain.  For those interested in purchasing an iPad or something similar but cost is an issue, the Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® is a worthy option.
  • Size: 7.36 x 4.25, ” less than 1/2″ wide, 9.7 ounces in weight. You can easily tuck it into a briefcase or handbag.
  • Multi-Window feature: you can have more than app & window open at the same time! This is a serious selling point for me!
  • Family friendly! Parental controls! You can create up to 6 personal profiles so members of your family can have their own accounts for books, videos, etc.

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  • Battery life: 10 hours of video usage
  • Front & rear camera allow you to take pristine photos or participate in video chats. I know we’ll be using this feature quite a bit!
  • Memory: 8 GB, with the ability to upgrade to 32 with a micro SD card. Yes. The memory is expandable.
  • Nook software. Yes, I’m an avid lover and supporter of independent bookstores. All that said, B&N was my first “local” bookstore. I like the Nook system. The page-turning feature, the ease of use. The accessibility of hundreds of books & magazines.
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  • Google Play Store: as this is an Android-based device, you have access to countless apps, books, etc. through the Google Play store (including the competing ebook reading apps).

Bottom line: if you are looking for a simple, affordable eReader/tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab® 4 NOOK® is without a doubt a product I can fully recommend.  After playing around with this for a few days, I want one myself! Oh, Santa!!

Update: if you have a Nook 1st Edition, Nook Color, or Nook tablet, you can trade it in now through Jan. 17th and get a $30 credit toward a Samsung Galazy Tab 4 Nook!

Have questions? I have answers!

 

A Month in Review: November 2014

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Yikes! Where did November go? How did it get to be December already?

As the weather cools, I prefer to spend most of my time at home, comfortably curled up with a book. Despite having a short (ok, a week long!) reading slump, I quickly got back into my reading groove!

Books Reviewed

Since I was very selective in my reading this week, every book I read/reviewed is a favorite. Cop out? No. The truth? Yes!

See which December books I’m exited about!

Posts of Value:

Blogger 911: I Was Hacked


Special/Upcoming Events!

Thankfully Reading Weekend:

Coming next week:

How was your reading month? What were some of your favorites?

2014 Thankfully Reading Weekend: The Wrap-UP

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Yet another Thankfully Reading Weekend comes to a close! While I didn’t get nearly as much reading accomplished as I planned, I did enjoy the time spent visiting my family.

Thank you all for participating, especially those who participated on Twitter! Quite the active group of readers!  Rather than giving you another challenge to do today, I’m going to permit you all the reading time you can squeeze in on this last day!

That said, if you are still inclined to write a wrap-up post, link it up here. Perhaps cover the books you were able to read, maybe list your favorite? Again, this entire event is supposed to be relaxing so feel free to do as little or as much as you like!

Don’t forget to check out the challenges below, still open for entries!

What Book Are You Most Thankful For This Year?
My Life According to Books

Also, a special thanks to Jen, my partner in crime! Thank you so much for your innovative and unique challenge!



2014 Thankfully Reading Weekend: Day Three

It’s day three of Thankfully Reading Weekend!  How did everyone do yesterday? I didn’t get nearly as much reading done yesterday as I would have liked; We’re in Ohio visiting family. We’re heading home tomorrow and I’m sure I’ll get plenty of reading in on the long drive home!

Today’s challenge is hosted by Jen over at Jen’s Book Thoughts!  It’s a fun one!  Yesterday’s challenge is still up and live; you have through Sunday to enter!

Don’t forget: today is Small Business Saturday! Take a break in your reading a visit/support a small business in your area today!

The wrap-up post & link-up will go live tomorrow!

If you are just starting your Thankfully Reading Weekend today, remember to include your link and any update posts in the the kick-off post!

Happy Reading!

Thankfully Reading Weekend Day 2: What Book Are You Most Thankful For This Year?

It’s day two of Thankfully Reading Weekend!  How did everyone do yesterday? Full stomachs, plenty of reading time…sounds like bliss to me! I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a day of reading at home, avoiding the retail madness!

For today’s challenge, I invite you to write about the book you are most thankful for this year. Is it a book written by one of your favorite authors or one you just happened to come upon? Tell us about it!  Include a link to your post below (or if you don’t have a blog, tell us about the book in the comments.

The winner of this challenge will win a $20 gift certificate for literary accessories or bookish jewelry made by Melody! Check out her shop to see some of her amazing products!  I’ll announce the winner at the end of Thankfully Reading Weekend to give everyone a chance to enter!



2014 Thankfully Reading Weekend: The Kick-off!

It’s time!!

This is the official kick off post for Thankfully Reading!  Instead of braving the crowds and shopping this weekend, we’re spending our time curled up with a book! Not starting your Thankfully Reading Weekend until tomorrow or Saturday? Don’t worry, link up your post whenever you are ready!

Feel free to link up your kick-off post below, as well as any update posts you have. Don’t have a blog? Not to worry; keep us updated on your progress via the comments or on Facebook!  Haven’t signed up yet to participate? Not to worry! There is still plenty of time!

If you don’t know what to post, here are some ideas. But remember there are no rules; feel free to post as little/as much as you like!

  • How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?
  • What’s in your TBR pile for the weekend?
  • How much time do you think you’ll have for reading?
  • What book are you starting out with?
  • Are you reading print, ebooks, or audio? Maybe a bit each?
  • What books will you be sharing at Thanksgiving dinner? Be sure to keep track of any recommendations you receive and share when you have the time.If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, don’t worry, this is a weekend for everyone throughout the world.
  • Pictures and/or vlogs are a great thing to add to your kick-off posts!

Throughout the weekend, feel free to post about your progress or even get some reviews up. Be sure to come back and link up your posts. Then take a break and check out everyone else’s posts. We’re looking forward to seeing how everyone else is celebrating Thankfully Reading Weekend.

Oh and don’t forget that some of your fellow readers will be on Twitter. You can search for Thankfully Reading Weekend tweets and hook up with others by using the hashtag #thankfullyreading.

On Sunday afternoon, we’ll post another link-up for your wrap-up post. Tell us how your Thankfully Reading Weekend went. You could give mini-reviews of your books, tell us how many books and which books you read, number of pages, number of hours, and so on. This is a rule-free, contest-free event, so you can wrap up the weekend however you’d like.

With that said, let’s get reading!! Be sure to include your kick-off post (or comments about your plans!) below! Come back tomorrow to check out the great challenges (and prizes!) my partner in crime Jen Forbus and I have lined up!

 



Review: The Voices by F.R. Tallis

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (December 14, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781605986562
  • Source: Publisher

It’s the summer of 1976, the hottest on record. Christopher Norton, his wife, Lauren, and their infant daughter Faye move in to their new home in North London.  The Norton’s put a lot of money into refurbishing the old Victorian home.  Christopher, a composer of film soundtracks, has created an elaborate recording studio that permits him to work from home.

The stifling heat makes it nearly impossible to sleep comfortably. Lauren swears she hears voices coming from the baby monitor. It isn’t until Christopher picks up the same voices, along with others, in his recording studio that he begins to believe his wife’s claims.  Lauren wants to move, but with so much money put into the house to repair it, this isn’t an option. Instead, Christopher finds an opportunity in the voices: a production featuring the voices, now pervasive and threatening.  He doesn’t share his discovery with his wife, instead becoming obsessed with the voices that demand to make themselves known. This decision has life-altering consequences, destroying the very constructs of their family. The house has a history, the severity of which is discovered far too late.

The Voices takes haunted houses to a completely different level. Knowing your house is haunted is creepy enough, but to repeatedly (and intentionally) record voices from beyond? The whole concept sends shivers down my spine.  Tallis manages to craft a setting and storyline so absolutely realistic (and plausible!) that it terrified me, an aficionado of horror fiction.  Readers are mere witnesses, unable to act as we watch the resolve, the sanity of the characters whither away before us. The house consumes them, unrelenting.

Generally, it takes a lot to terrify me.  Haunted houses, though, terrify me to no end. This novel was no exception. I found myself only reading during the light of day, never in the dark or when I was home alone. So, because this novel succeeded at doing what so many other horror novels fail to do, it comes highly recommended from this reader. With warnings, of course: not for the faint of heart…or mind.

Review: The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (November 4, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781250052216
  • Source: Publisher

Dale Sampson has become quite used to being a less than remarkable person. He’s just an average kid attending high school in a small Midwestern town. He earns decent grades and survives the torturous four years of social torture by riding on the coattails of his best friend, Mack. Then, a horrific accident takes away his one hope of love, leaving Dale with a strange ability: he can regrow organs and limbs.

Guilt-ridden, Dale opts to use his new gift to redeem the lives of those lost, including his own.  In his quest, he gets dangerously close to those who would like to take advantage of Dale’s “powers.”  As the endless surgeries continue, Dale realizes his actions will never repair the heartache he’s felt for so long.

In this stunning testament to love, loss, and forgiveness, Venturini has crafted a novel like none other. What starts out as a rather comical and sarcastic book quickly turns into something much more powerful. Within a few pages, the tone changes into something far more powerful, more visceral, than could have ever been predicted.

In The Heart Does Not Grow Back, Venturini not only tackles the subject of loss and grief, but how we see ourselves as human beings. We are more than just the sum of our parts; there is an essence, a soul, within each of us that struggles for acceptance and love no matter what happens to our bodies.  The concept of what it takes to be a hero is also a profound aspect of this novel, specifically the concept that sometimes it’s the small acts, not large ones, that make a hero.

This novel is certainly unlike anything I’ve ever read. Admittedly, the first time I read the premise I rejected any thoughts of reading it. Yet something about it made me rethink my initial impressions and for this I am quite thankful.  My experience with this novel, and the novel itself, is a clear message that first impressions aren’t always the best. Pick up this novel.I guarantee it will transform you. Highly, highly recommended.