Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein

Title: Silent Mercy
Series: Alexandra Cooper #13
Author: Linda Fairstein
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 03/08/2011
Publisher: Signet
Genre(s): Contemporary Mystery, Crime Fiction


New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein is at her explosive best as she plunges into the byzantine world of New York City’s most powerful and sacred institutions—and unearths the most sinister of secrets…

Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper has been called to a Harlem Baptist Church, where a woman has been decapitated and set on fire on the church steps—with the imprint of a Star of David necklace seared into her flesh. Then a second body is found at a cathedral in Little Italy. Alex is blind to the sick and inconceivable motives feeding a particularly vicious serial killer—until she mines the depths of the city’s vast and serpentine religious history.

What Alex follows is a dangerous path that takes her far beyond the scope of her investigation, and directly into the path of a frightening and inescapable truth.


Silent Mercy is my 10th Alexandra Cooper Mystery and just like with the others I found the historical parts quite interesting. The story moves along at a good pace. The team of Alex, Mike, and Mercer is a strong one. They get the job done! The search and capture of the "clergy killer" was uniquely riveting. My main complaint with this series is how discourteous Mike is to Alex. He belittles her to just about everyone and she just takes it in stride. I'd really like to see that stop!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Title: Chasing Fire
Series: Standalone
Author: Nora Roberts
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published: 04/12/2011
Publisher: Jove
Genre(s): Romantic Suspense


The #1 New York Times bestselling author delves into the world of elite firefighters who thrive on danger and adrenaline—men and women who wouldn’t know how to live life if it wasn’t on the edge.

Little else in life is as dangerous as fire jumping. But there’s also little else as thrilling—at least to Rowan Tripp. Being a Missoula smoke jumper is in Rowan’s blood: her father is a legend in the field. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home—even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air.

One of the best of this year’s rookie crop, Gulliver Curry is a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kids’ arcade. And though Rowan, as a rule, doesn’t hook up with other smoke jumpers, Gull is convinced he can change her mind…

But everything is thrown off balance, when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year’s tragedy. Rowan knows she can’t complicate things with Gull—any distractions in the air or on the ground could be lethal. But if she doesn’t find someone she can lean on when the heat gets intense, her life may go down in flames.


Right from the beginning, I was engulfed (sorry for the puns) by this book. Initially, I felt a little lost in the all-consuming world of the smoke jumpers—I'm still not sure about some of the abbreviations and lingo used in the book. However, the fires are not the reason to read this book, the people are. The tight-knit group whose very lives depend on each other. The deep and trusting friendships are in direct correlation to the dangerous job these people live. It's all or nothing with the lot of them. That means an extremely passionate read on several levels. The amazing character interaction and dialogue, which is Nora's specialty in my book, is intensified by the inherent danger signaled by the siren. I found Rowan a little too tough before "seeing" her in action. She's knowledgeable and highly respected among her peers. Gulliver is her perfect match in every way. Together the sparks fly and just maybe, Gull has replaced Tucker Longstreet (Carnal Innocence) as my favorite of Nora's heroes. I had a feeling who was stirring up trouble and why. Nora ably kept me wondering about that feeling until the end before finishing it so well! (The perfect ending other than not knowing what happened to a secondary character whose life was hanging in the balance!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When Wishes Are Books

After two years on my Amazon Wish List and eight days after its release I have The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide in my hot Twilight Mom hands.  A great big thank you to my understanding and thoughtful husband!  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag

Title: Secrets to the Grave
Series: Deeper Than the Dead #2
Author: Tami Hoag
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published: 12/28/2010
Publisher: Signet
Genre(s): Contemporary Suspense


#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag returns with her second thriller in the Deeper than the Dead microseries, exploring the early days of forensic investigation, the characteristics of innocence-and the nature of evil.

Marissa Fordham had a past full of secrets, a present full of lies. Everyone knew of her, but no one knew her.

When Marissa is found brutally murdered, with her young daughter, Haley, resting her head on her mother's bloody breast, she sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. Already on edge with the upcoming trial of the See-No-Evil killer, residents are shocked by reports of the crime scene, which might not have been discovered for days had it not been for a chilling 911 call: a small child's voice saying, "My daddy hurt my mommy."

Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez faces a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won't fit. To assist with his witness, Haley, he calls teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone. Anne's life is hectic enough-she's a newlywed and a part-time student in child psychology, and she's the star witness in the See-No-Evil trial. But one look at Haley, alone and terrified, and Anne's heart is stolen.

As Tony and Anne begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham's life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed.


I've been a fan of Tami Hoag's since the early '90s. I think this sequel to Deeper Than the Dead surpassed the previous book in several areas. The first chapter was as compelling a book beginning as I can recall. Ever. I was intrigued by all of the characters and relationships but especially those who interacted most with Vince—Anne and Tony. In this book, as in the first, I felt the most frightening character to be Dennis Farman, the 12-year-old sociopath. It was extremely disturbing being in his company! Although I found myself frustrated by the evidence evaluation available to the investigators at the time, I was captivated by the "old fashioned" police work that led to the capture of the murderer. The ending, although not as fascinating as the beginning, was very satisfying.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Vegan Dessert: Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
My family and I consider regular Snickerdoodles one of our favorite cookies. To "spice" things up a bit I decided to try this recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Once I mentioned "cayenne" as one of the ingredients my husband and daughter both made faces.  Once I assured them I would go light on that "hot" spice they relaxed a bit.  Once they tasted one my husband paid "his" ultimate compliment, "Well, this doesn't suck!"  My daughter said, "This is really good!  It's making my throat tingle a little bit."  Crinkly chocolate goodness with a little zing and topped with cinnamon and sugar.  Mmm, mmm.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: Shakespeare's Trollop by Charlaine Harris

Title: Shakespeare's Trollop
Series: Lily Bard Mystery #4
Author: Charlaine Harris
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Published: 08/14/2000
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Mystery


Welcome back to Shakespeare - a charming Arkansas town with endless back roads, an eclectic mix of residents, and a dollop of noir. Featuring cleaning woman/karate expert Lily Bard, Charlaine Harris's series puts a unique spin on the traditional cozy to create mysteries that "work on every level. The writing and plotting are first rate [and] Lily is appealing in her own prickly way" --Washington Times

In the latest installment, Lily discovers lifelong Shakespeare resident Deedra Dean murdered inside a car parked in a woodsy area outside town. Determined not to get involved, Lily wants to leave the police work to Sheriff Marta Schuster and her team of deputies, and concentrate on cleaning, high kicks, and her boyfriend Jack's impending visit. But when Deedra's notoriously promiscuous lifestyle provides an extensive list of suspects but very few clues, Lily has no choice but to resume the roll of amateur detective and join the investigation.

In this fourth book in Charlaine Harris's highly acclaimed and darkly compelling series, Lily Bard delivers a hard-hitting mix of Southern charm and street smarts, a combination so alluring that long-time readers and newcomers will be dying to visit Shakespeare again.


There was a certain comfortable familiarity reading things from Lily Bard's perspective since reading the previous book almost a year ago.

Her methodical and practical nature doesn't make for a thrilling narrative, but she gets things done.

This insight was particularly accurate: "But it was not her weakness that had caused her death; it was one of her strengths that had her killed."

I'll be saying goodbye to Lily with the next book, and I'm betting I'll miss her.

(Note: I read the paperback version represented by the above cover.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vegan Dessert: Vanilla Cupcakes With Buttercream Frosting

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes With Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

 Too good to eat just one!  My husband was going in for seconds.  Sure, they were all golden 'vanilla-y' goodness, but they got a hint of nutty goodness from almond extract.  Both recipes are from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.