Monday, December 28, 2009

Laura Childs - Author - Book Reviews

Scrapbooking series
Berkley Prime Crime Books
Frill Kill - 2007
Death Swatch - 2008
Tragic Magic - 2009
Authors website

I have now read 4 books in the Scrapbooking series. Motive for Murder (book 4) was reviewed last week. The next 3 are reviewed here.

Books 5 to 7 respectively are as follows - Frill Kill, Death Swatch and Tragic Magic

The major characters of these books are Carmela Bertrand, her ex husband Seamus Meecham whos family own one of the local banks, Carmela's friend Ava and the local police detective, Edgar Babcock.

I really enjoyed these books a lot and I read all 3 books in just 2 days.

Frill Kill
With Halloween barely a week away, things are spookier than ever in New Orleans. A party at Juju Voodoo draws a fabulous throng, and Carmela's friend Ava has hired a sexy tarot card reader named Giovanni to work the crowd. What he doesn't foretell is that on her way home, Carmela will discover the body of a beautiful model behind a Dumpster--and be attacked herself!

In the meantime the model's former employer hires Carmela and Ava to create a new look for their next runway modelling show. As well as running the scrapbook shop, tryinn to kep her ex-husband Seamus away from her (he wants to give their marriage one last try) and designing a new runway show, Carmela is very busy - but not too busy to ask some questions and try and discover who killed the young model.

Carmela and Ava take a trip at night out into the Bayou to determine if Giovanni and his brother are murderers. Carmela's evidence is tested and is proven to eliminate the brothers.

So Carmela goes after another possible suspect. But when she finds herself lost in the backstage area of the building where the runway shoot is to be hold, the murderer comes after her. Carmela is rescued by Edgar Babcock, the local police detective.

Death Swatch
Amid zydeco rhythms and popping champagne corks, scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand and her friend Ava are partying in the French Quarter. It's Mardi Gras, and they never imagined this might be the scene of a murder, but as the evening progresses, float designer Archie Baudier is found dead on the balcony--strangled with a barbed wire garrote.

As Carmela flirts with handsome detective Edgar Babcock, she also ponders the odd clues; gold paint on the victim's shoes, a ransacked apartment, and a glimmering gold doubloon.

The local TV reporter Kimber Breeze gets in on the act by creating a werewolf mystery. Her TV program is losing viewers and she is desperate to get them back and at the same time, grab some new viewers as well.

Tragic Magic
Design-wise Carmela Bertrand of Memory Mine scrapbook store is tapped to create spooky set decorations for Medusa Manor, a new haunted house attraction in New Orleans. But a flaming body hurled from the third-floor tower might just put a damper on the project.

Carmela and Ave set about tryng to find out who killed Melody (the owner of Medusa Manor) while continuing to decorate the Manor. Melody's husband is at the top of the suspect list. It turns out that Melody was killed over a painting that she had purchased at auction. A painting that turns out to be very valuable.

In this adventure Carmela is also having to deal with her divorce and her ex-husband Seamus, as they try to come to an agreement in their divorce settlement. Seamus's sister Glory does not want Carmela to get anything. Once the settlement is signed, Carmela is now free to go out with her new boyfriend - police detective Edgar Babcock.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Altar of Eden - Book Review

Altar of Eden
By James Rollins
Harper Collins - December 29, 2009
Author website

Someone is re-creating the ancient animals who died off thousands of years ago - including neanderthal man and the sabre tooth tiger. This story also mentions fractals in the brains and how they cause heightened intelligence. Mix genetic engineering and sabretooth tigers with fractals and you get the perfect intelligent hunting animal.

When a sabretooth tiger escapes captivity the hunt is on by Lorna Polk, a veterinarian, and the US border patrol, to prevent the creature from killing tourists and boy scouts. Meanwhile the men from the company who created the beast, are also moving to either recapature the animal or destroy anyone who knows about it.

This was a very exciting book - plenty of action from start to finish. This book is not part of the SIGMAN series, but it is still an exciting novel on its own. It actually reminds me a lot of one of Rollins early novels - called AMAZONIA

I stayed up to 1 AM reading this book - I could not put it down.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Motif for Murder - Book Review

Motif for Murder (A Scrapbooking mystery)
by Laura Childs
Berkeley Prime Crime Books 2006

For those of you like scrapbooking and have not heard of Laura Childs - well you are in for a treat. Laura Childs is the author of 3 mystery series. One of these series stars amateur detective, Carmela Bertrand. Carmela owns a scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The shop is called Memory Mine.

In the terrible wake of Hurricane Katrina, scrapbooking shop owner Carmela Bertrand has her hands full getting Memory Mine back in business - and her relationship with her ex-husband, Shamus, back on its feet. But the reconciliation is shattered when Shamus is kidnapped from their home. And when Carmela hurries to tell Shamus's Uncle Henry, she finds him sitting in his library-with a bullet through his forehead.

As a memorial to Uncle Henry, Carmela puts together a sentimental scrapbook of memories and keepsakes. What she doesn't realize is that her book holds a clue that could identify the fiend behind the kidnapping and killing. And when the murderer finds out that she may be on to him, he's going to try to close the book on Carmela once and for all.

This novel also features altered books. While I personally am not a fan of scrapbooking, I did enjoy this novel very much. I have several others in this series on reserve at the library.

Laura Childs is a pseudonym for Gerry Schmitt, former owner/CEO/Creative Director of a marketing/advertising firm in Minneapolis. Laura Childs is the bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mystery series and the Scrapbook Mystery series. She is a consummate tea drinker, scrapbooker, and dog lover, and travels frequently to China and Japan with Dr. Bob, her professor husband.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

End of Year - 2009

The Xmas roundup of 2009.

The year started off great. I was in school, doing a diploma in business administration and thoroughly enjoying myself. I was also finally losing weight after being somewhat obese for the last 25 years.

It is now the end of the year and things are not so good.

1 - My son is now at home for the next 2 weeks (school Xmas holidays) as he is no longer in daycare. He likes that I can drop him off at school at 9 and pick him up at 3.30 but thats only because I am not working.

2 - I have been out of school for 5 months and still have not been able to find a job. Which is why my son is out of daycare. One must have a job to keep the daycare subsidy.

3 - Because I have lost so much weight (70 pounds) and we now have very cold weather outside, (arctic winds but no snow yet) my body is FREEEEEEZING. I have lost all my insulation and now I have to put on extra layers of clothing just to keep warm inside my own apartment.

4 - My husband brought me a SNUGGIE for Xmas to help me keep warm. It is very warm too. Fortunately some places in town also sell them so we did not have to buy one online. And yes I got the free booklight as well.

5 - I have been working with a number of employment agencies trying to improve myself. I have a good cover letter and a good resume, and I am still getting some interviews. BUT I dont get the job offers.

So either it's my grey hair that is scaring them off, or it might my lack of confidence and enthusiasm. I have an appointment next week, to do a mock interview on video (with an employment agency) and then to discuss it afterwards to find out what I need to improve. I hate being on video or TV, but this is necessary.

6 - I am still reading books. I dont review so much now because I just do not seem to be able to finish what I am reading. Right now I have bookmarks in 8 different books. One book I am still reading is a chunkster - over 600 pages.

Every now and then I pick up a light fictional book from the library and read that.
I will have a new review up after this post.
Thats enough from me for now. I hope you all have a....

Very Merry Christmas and

a Happy New Year

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Challenges for 2010

Of all the challenges I have signed up for, in the last 3 years since I started this blog, I have only completed TWO that I know of. The Canadian Books challenge and the In Their Shoes Challenge.

So this year (or next year 2010) I am signing up for 4 challenges.

The First Challenge is the Art History Challenge as I love reading about Art History

This year there will be four levels of participation in the Art History Challenge:

Curious - Read at least 3 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
Fascinated - Read at least 6 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
Enamored- Read at least 9 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
Utterly enchanted - Read at least 12 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.

I dont know yet which of these levels I will do.

The Second Challenge is my own Great Books Challenge for 2010. This challenge has 2 levels of participation - Easy and Hard
Easy - you read 6 authors from my Great Books list
Hard - you read 12 books from my Great Books list

The Third Challenge is the Relic Novels Challenge Where I must read novels about relic hunting. One example would be Indiana Jones.

There are three levels to this challenge.
Initiate Hunter : Read at least 6 relic novels
In-training Hunter: Read at least 12 relic novels
Master Hunter: Read at least 18 relic novels

The Fourth Challenge is the Bibliophilic Challenge - similar to the Bibliography challenge I hosted a couple of years ago. You have to read books about books.

This challenge has 3 levels -

Bookworm: Read three books
Litlover: Read six books
Bibliomaniac: Read twelve books

For this challenge I am going to read Nicholas Basbanes’ Trilogy – A Gentle Madness, Patience & Fortitude and A Splendour of Letters. At least that is the plan.

I will do my best to compete all 4 challenges in 2010.

And for those of you who wonder where all these challenges come from - they come from the Novel Challenge Yahoo Group. And these are just the up coming challenges for 2010.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Winter Storm has arrived

Today is December 9th. We had a brief snow fall, a few days ago, for an hour. However the snow did not settle.

Today, as I type this, we are in the middle of a major Snow Storm. We are expecting 10 to 15 cm of snow to accumulate, plus strong ice cold winds and temperatures that feel like -15 degrees.

The media says this is a new record. It is the first time in the very long time that Toronto has gone the entire month of November without snow.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Am Hutterite - Book Review

I Am Hutterite
By Mary Ann Kirby
Polka Dot Press (Saskatchewan)

In 1969, Mary-Ann Kirkby's parents did the unthinkable. They left a Hutterite colony near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba with seven children and little else, to start a new life.

Overnight, the family was thrust into a society they did not understand and which knew little of their unique culture. The transition was overwhelming.

When Mary-Ann leaves Fairholme, she embarks on a mission to reinvent herself. She is put in the awkward position of denying her heritage in order to fit in with her peers. Her book details her painful and often humourous attempts to adapt to popular culture as she comes to terms with the heart-breaking circumstances that led her family to leave community life.

Few Canadians are aware that the prairie region is home to the largest concentration of Hutterites in the world. Their appearance and cloistered lifestyle have often made them the objects of prejudice and suspicion but beneath the black hats and polka dots lies a spirited and proud community of storytellers, artisans, inventors, teachers, carpenters, and agrarians who have made significant contributions to the North American cultural tapestry and economy.

This book takes us inside Fairholme Colony where Mary-Ann Kirkby spent the first ten years of her life. Her intimate portrait of Hutterian people opens a window on a closed community and reveals a way of life that seems extraordinary to the outside world.

As a television reporter, Mary-Ann Kirkby spent years telling the stories of others. Now she is ready to share her own. I Am Hutterite layers the rich traditions of colony life with the stark realities of intolerance and mistrust, weaving a gripping tale that tests the power of forgiveness.