HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I thought I'd share some scary movies that started out as scary books! 

 I think these are Halloween classics!










                                                           








Movie poster image copyrights are owned by the respective studios, no copyright infringement is intended.

Death in the City of Light by David King

DEATH IN THE CITY OF LIGHT

By David King
Crown Publishing, $26.00



From the Publisher:   
"Death in the City of Light" is the gripping, true story of a brutal serial killer who unleashed his own reign of terror in Nazi-Occupied Paris. As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, the head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.
The main suspect was Dr. Marcel Petiot, a handsome, charming physician with remarkable charisma. He was the "People's Doctor," known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, not least in providing free medical care for the poor. Petiot, however, would soon be charged with twenty-seven murders, though authorities suspected the total was considerably higher, perhaps even as many as 150.  
 Who exactly was being slaughtered, and why? Was Petiot a sexual sadist, as the press suggested, killing for thrills? Was he allied with the Gestapo, or, on the contrary, the French Resistance? Or did he work for no one other than himself? Trying to solve the many mysteries of the case, Massu would unravel a plot of unspeakable deviousness.

My thoughts:   Don't be mislead by the cover art for Death in the City of Light, this is no graphic novel, nor is it a work of fiction. I saved this review for Halloween because I think there's nothing more macabre than the sick twisted horrors of what takes place in the real world.

David King's book opens on a street in the fashionable 16th arrondissement  neighborhood of Paris, where neighbors are complaining of thick black smoke permeating the area along with a nauseating stench filling the air.  It's a great opening and takes the reader by the hand and pulls you in!   That's a great hook! You are compelled to keep turning the pages, as King begins to paint the grizzly picture of the accused doctor,  Marcel Petiot and the heinous crimes he is accused of committing.

King kept me going for about the first third of the book, then suddenly, for me, the book began to read more like a police report than a horrific true story being related to readers, eager for the truth.  I found myself getting online and hitting the search engines for maps of the city, trying to see what the neighborhood may have looked like in those days of WWII. Trying to find something to relate the history to.  I realize that I have an advance readers copy, and hope that photos, maps, diagrams, floor plans and the like would be included in the final print copy. I researched a bit online and it seems that perhaps that may not be the case. I think it would help the reader put things into perspective. So many people alive back in 1944 are no longer here and I suspect that most of the readers of Death in the City of Light have no idea what the city looked like back then, how people lived and how the neighborhood functioned within the city. I have no clue, but went looking for answers about the smaller day to day things.

While I did enjoy King's book from the beginning, I was equally as frustrated with it, when as I read on, I got more and more bogged down. I felt like I was reading a clinical report.  Testimonies and trial transcripts lost me. Somewhere along the line, for me, Mr. King lost his ability to tie in this reader.  And that's a sad thing.

I do recommend Death in the City of Light, it's a fact based, but gruesome story of a serial killer that raged in Paris about sixty seven years ago, and  that is amazing even to this modern world of 2011.

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

This ARC was provided to me by the Crown Publishing Company and in no way affected by opinion and review of this book.


Tucker's Spooky Halloween by Leslie McGuirk

TUCKER'S SPOOKY HALLOWEEN

By Leslie McGuirk





I've been in love with Tucker the Terrier for several years now! I met Tucker's brilliant creator, Leslie McGuirk, at a dinner party one night and thought I'd hunt down her books for the kids in my life. Little did I know that I'd fall smack down in love with this smart little terrier! 

In my opinion there are very few "safe"  but fun stories out there for the little ones, stories that are cute, fun and engaging that don't scare or creep them out. This is one of those books.

This isn't so much a review as it is a recommendation, check out Tucker's Spooky Halloween, I think you'll love it as much as I do. And now, the smarties over at Candlewick are now including a DVD and stickers with book!  What kid doesn't love stickers?!

So...there ya go... Tucker's Spooky Halloween, just in time for the little ones. 

For the rest of us not-so-little-ones,  I'm spotlighting all sorts of spooky, creepy, bizarre and  downright scary books as we lead into Halloween, so come back often...see what's here...


Cover Image: Candlewick 







The Book of Cthulhu, edited by Ross E. Lockhart

The Book of Cthulhu
Edited by Ross E. Lockhart


Night Shade Books, $15.99









From the publisher:



First described by visionary author H. P. Lovecraft, the Cthulhu mythos encompass a pantheon of truly existential cosmic horror: Eldritch, uncaring, alien god-things, beyond mankind's deepest imaginings, drawing ever nearer, insatiably hungry, until one day, when the stars are right....
As that dread day, hinted at within the moldering pages of the fabled Necronomicon, draws nigh, tales of the Great Old Ones: Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Hastur, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, and the weird cults that worship them have cross-pollinated, drawing authors and other dreamers to imagine the strange dark aeons ahead, when the dead-but-dreaming gods return.
Now, intrepid anthologist Ross E. Lockhart has delved deep into the Cthulhu canon, selecting from myriad mind-wracking tomes the best sanity-shattering stories of cosmic terror. Featuring fiction by many of today's masters of the menacing, macabre, and monstrous, The Book of Cthulhu goes where no collection of Cthulhu mythos tales has before: to the very edge of madness... and beyond!
Do you dare open The Book of Cthulhu? Do you dare heed the call? 





My thoughts on The Book of Cthulhu: I'm really new to Cthulhu and H.P. Lovecraft. But I know what I love and I loved The Book of Cthulhu!!  A friend introduced me to Lovecraft earlier this year and I started hunting for his books in used bookstores and at the library, so when I got the chance to read The Book of Cthulhu I couldn't wait to get started. And I was not disappointed on bit.


There are twenty seven stories in this anthology and there's something here for everyone! Being so new to Lovecraft, I did some research and from what I've learned, Night Shade Books and editor Ross E. Lockhart have assembled some of the finest Lovecraftian stories out there. I learned that many are quite rare and have been around for a long time. I wish I was more of an expert on Lovecraft. But maybe this newbie can offer a fair review because I have no preference towards one author or another.


I really enjoyed most all of the stories, they were well crafted with enough weirdness and off-kilter vestiges that I stayed pretty creeped out by them.  A couple of the stories that really got to me were Gene Wolfe's Lord of the Land, with his truly icky alien possession and Ann K. Schwader's tale that brings in what I think of as Egyptian mythos.  I love most all things Egyptian.


I don't want to try to pretend to know the histories and the legends behind these entertaining authors. What I can say is that I enjoyed the read, each author brought something different and very entertaining to the anthology. I say try something new. If you like to be weirded out, made to question your regular reading material, then for goodness sake...read The Book of Cthulhu, step out of your comfort zone and enjoy coloring outside the lines in these short stories. Who knows? You may find yourself on a search engine looking up Lovecraft!


4 out of 5 stars!




Table of Contents:
Caitlin R. Kiernan - Andromeda among the Stones
Ramsey Campbell - The Tugging
Charles Stross - A Colder War
Bruce Sterling - The Unthinkable
Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Flash Frame
W. H. Pugmire - Some Buried Memory
Molly Tanzer - The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins
Michael Shea - Fat Face
Elizabeth Bear - Shoggoths in Bloom
T. E. D. Klien - Black Man With A Horn
David Drake - Than Curse the Darkness
Charles Saunders - Jeroboam Henley''s Debt
Thomas Ligotti - Nethescurial
Kage Baker - Calamari Curls
Edward Morris - Jihad over Innsmouth
Cherie Priest - Bad Sushi
John Hornor Jacobs - The Dream of the Fisherman''s Wife
Brian McNaughton - The Doom that Came to Innsmouth
Ann K. Schwader - Lost Stars
Steve Duffy - The Oram County Whoosit
Joe R. Lansdale - The Crawling Sky
Brian Lumley - The Fairground Horror
Tim Pratt - Cinderlands
Gene Wolfe - Lord of the Land
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. - To Live and Die in Arkham
John Langan - The Shallows
Laird Barron - The Men from Porlock





This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley, and in no way affected my review.















Countdown to Christmas



It's two months until Christmas!  
YIKES!!!  If you're like me, we all need some Christmas-y books to read!!

Here are a few great ideas for Christmas themed stories
 to get you into the holiday spirit!






A MARRIAGE CAROL




On Christmas Eve twenty years earlier, Marlee and Jacob were married in a snowstorm. This Christmas Eve, they are ready to quit, divorce is imminent. Their relationship is as icy as the road they're traveling and as blocked with troubles as the piling snow. They take a shortcut to get to the lawyer's office, on a slippery, no-fault path. She thinks they need to stay on the main road. He disagrees. They fight. Story of their lives and they slam into a bank of snow , spinning, drifting, falling, out of control. Just like their lives. Reluctantly, freezing cold, hungry, scared, she trudges up the hill. Jacob is nowhere to be found. Her ears frozen, fingers and hands red, she comes to a house on the hillside, built like a Bed and Breakfast, a green wreath on the red door and the door-knocker is in the shape of a wedding ring.


The red door opens and the first thing she notices is the fire in the room, blazing hot, a warm, inviting, friendly place and the voice of an old man welcomes her in. There are three golden pots on the hearth, shining, glimmering things. The old man claims that they are used to restore marriages. She laughs-and begins a journey through her past, present, and future that will test how she views her lifelong love. There are two futures available. Which will she choose?



      1225 CHRISTMAS TREE LANE





Welcome to Christmas Town!
The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.
But . . . someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she's determined to place in good homes. That's complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth's long-divorced husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads.
As always in life—and in Cedar Cove—there are surprises, too. More than one family's going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending! 


A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS







WE WISH YOU A STEAMPUNK CHRISTMAS
Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband's love. A man learns that love isn't always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas. 



WISH UPON A STAR





Love is in the air this Christmas! 
Christy was hoping to skip Christmas this year. Her kids have other ideas - they've put their dad's name at number one on their Christmas list. So it looks as if Christy will be hightailing it up to the Lake District to play happy families with her ex! 
Snow-capped mountains and roaring log fires - Alessandro's home is like walking into a Christmas card. Is it really safe for her to spend Christmas with her dreamy, funny - no! - entirely infuriating ex-hubby? 
Miranda has completely the opposite problem. Being single and pregnant at Christmas was certainly not her wish come true. She doesn't believe in miracles, but then resident hunk Jake sweeps her off her snow-covered shoes. Come Boxing Day dare she dream that Mr Sex-on-Legs might be for more than just Christmas?















Sam Sarkar's THE VAULT #3


Sam Sarkar's THE VAULT #3 
in stores  October 26!!  
Be there!  
Just in time for Halloween tricks and treats! 

 THE VAULT, of course, IS the treat!!!










National Book Awards Finalists

The National Book Award Finalists have been announced!  Here are the fiction finalists.  You can click on this link to take you to the official NBA website, where you can read more about the National Book Awards and  to see all of the finalists in all categories.



Here are the finalists for fiction  -







Andrew Krivak, The Sojourn
(Bellevue Literary Press)

Téa ObrehtThe Tiger's Wife
(Random House)

Julie OtsukaThe Buddha in the Attic
(Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House)

Edith PearlmanBinocular Vision
(Lookout Books, an imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Jesmyn WardSalvage the Bones
(Bloomsbury USA)












The Mistress Contract by He and She

The Mistress Contract
By He and She

Unbridled Books,  $23.00



Publisher's synopsis:


The remarkable true document that is The Mistress Contract opens with a piece of paper that was signed in 1981 by a woman and her wealthy lover. The contract establishes an exchange that she thinks fair: If he will provide an adequate and separate home for her and cover her expenses, she will provide him with “mistress services”:  “All sexual acts as requested, with suspension of historical, emotional, psychological disclaimers.”

For the duration of the agreement, she will become his sexual property.

Then — on a small recorder that fit in her purse — this extraordinary and unconventional couple began to tape their conversations about their relationship, conversations that took place while travelling, over dinner at home and in restaurants, on the phone, even in bed.

This book is based on those tapes. It is a candid record of what they had to say to each other privately about the arrangement and its power relations, their physical relationship and the sexual forces that shaped it. As private and intimate as it is, though, the book also turns an unblinking light on a period of intense upheaval between men and women.

Looking back now, thirty years later, this extraordinary couple are willing to reveal their most private moments to our scrutiny. What they capture in The Mistress Contract is an unapologetic revelation and a bold provocation.


My thoughts about The Mistress Contract are pretty disappointing. It took me a few days to decide what to say about this book and I'm still not sure, but - here we are.  I have to be honest and tell you that is not what I thought it would be. I'm not sure what I expected, but this wasn't it. I had decided not to review The Mistress Contract, but I had agreed to read it and write a review.

The transcripts of "purported" conversations between "he" and "she" often rambled, and for me, unraveled like loose threads in the wind. As I turned page after page, I couldn't help but wonder if these were real?  As readers we have no background as to who these people are. We're told that he's a wealthy business man, and she could be almost any woman.

While I realize that their contracted relationship spans thirty years, I had trouble identifying with the dialogue, it was...pretentious and aggravating at the same time. These are people that I run from when I find myself seated next to at weddings and dinner parties.  I know the time period is dated, but geez...it's so stero-typical of the times back in the day. Give her something to be excited about! She comes off as a boring one dimensional character.

He comes of as a jerk, all bluster, puffing his ego up and boring everyone in ear shot. And what was the deal with the other "she" in Seattle?  He was a sexist pig.

OK, you get the idea. I won't go on, this book just wasn't a good fit for me. I had hoped for the backbones of a long term, caring and interesting relationship.


Sometimes you don't get what you hope for.

 **I knew there had to be other people out there with a differing opinion, and I found this review at The Book Lady's Blog, the reviewer really enjoyed the book, so please give it a read, see if  it's a good fit for you!


This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley, and in no way affected my review.







Sense of an Ending wins Man Booker Prize


The Sense of an Ending wins The 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction 








London-based  Julian Barnes has been the bookies' favourite to win since the shortlist announcement on 6 September....


(This is) Barnes' first novel for six years, The Sense of an Ending went straight into the bestseller list on publication. It is the story of a seemingly ordinary man who, when revisiting his past in later life, discovers that the memories he holds are less than perfect. Laced with trademark precision, dexterity and insight, this is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers. At the time of the shortlist announcement, 2011 judge Gaby Wood commented: ‘that the tragedy trapped in this mundane life should be so moving, and so keenly felt by the character that he can only confront it half-blindly and in fragments, is the mark of a truly masterful novel.


Please click this to read the entire article at themanbookerprize.com





Just in time for Christmas...books, books and more books!

Want something to read to help you get in the spirit for Christmas and the holidays?


Check back exactly a week from today, October 25, as I spotlight Christmas themed books that you'll want to read!





Photo source

It's NOAH, the movie!

It's NOAH - the movie, that's making book to movie news!


Yes, that Noah, the one with the ark! And all those animals...two by two...and all that rain...squish, squish. squish.


Talk about a film with epic proportions!!  Oh I can't wait to see this one happen, Noah, Mrs. Noah and all those pesky creatures, with their story firmly entrenched in both Jewish and Christian scriptures, coming to the big screen!  



Paramount Pictures and New Regency Productions jointly announced that Academy Award® nominated director Darren Aronofsky will direct the feature film Noah, with Academy Award® nominated screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator) coming aboard to re-write the script by Aronofsky  and Ari Handel. Aronofsky and Scott Franklin will produce the movie.

"Since I was a kid, I have been moved and inspired by the story of Noah and his family's journey.  The imaginations of countless generations have sparked to this epic story of faith. It's my hope that I can present a window into Noah's passion and perseverance for the silver screen," said  Aronofsky.









Lethal by Sandra Brown

LETHAL
By Sandra Brown
Grand Central Publishing, $26.99





From the publisher:  When her four year old daughter informs her a sick man is in their yard, Honor Gillette rushes out to help him. But that "sick" man turns out to be Lee Coburn, the man accused of murdering seven people the night before. Dangerous, desperate, and armed, he promises Honor that she and her daughter won't be hurt as long as she does everything he asks. She has no choice but to accept him at his word.
But Honor soon discovers that even those close to her can't be trusted. Coburn claims that her beloved late husband possessed something extremely valuable that places Honor and her daughter in grave danger. Coburn is there to retrieve it -- at any cost. From FBI offices in Washington, D.C., to a rundown shrimp boat in coastal Louisiana, Coburn and Honor run for their lives from the very people sworn to protect them, and unravel a web of corruption and depravity that threatens not only them, but the fabric of our society


My thoughts about Lethal:  Sandra Brown doesn't disappoint. However, I'm getting the feeling that her books are getting a bit too formulaic for my comfort level. The story does take you in right away, four year old Emily's mom, Honor, is icing chocolate cupcakes when Emily tells her mom that there's a man in the yard and that he's sick. Emily is concerned, but, like any kid, she wants some of the cupcakes. The opening few pages sets the tone of the book. Common activities of everyday people set the background for uncommon interruptions to their lives.

I liked Honor, I thought she was written in a very believable way, she was as solid a heroine as can be written and Brown wrote Emily just as believable. We quickly learn that this man is no stranger in the yard.  I liked the character of Coburn and thought Brown developed his character smoothly and with multiple layers and secrets. I didn't quite know where he was going and what he was really after. And that's always a plus for me!  What did bother me was that Brown told the story using multiple points of view. I really hate that. For me, the story becomes disjointed and frays into threads.

I generally like Brown's writing, but this just border lined as a bit too cookie-cutterish for me.  I was also looking for a bit more romance. Lethal is one of the books where you can't write too much about the plot because it's too darn easy to give too  much away.  The multiple twists and turns kept me guessing and I didn't have the reveal figured out. So that's a good thing too! However,  I will say this, I hate it when the solution to the mystery is a bit  far fetched. I was not happy with the way things were tied up, so to speak.

But Brown isn't the best selling author that she is by not crafting a good story with engaging characters and terrific plot lines.

I do recommend Lethal, especially if you are already a fan of Sandra Brown's. But to be honest, I'd say wait for the paperback or get it on an e-reader.

I'm giving this one 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

I hope Brown gets back to her writing skills that first captured my attention as a reader a few books ago.


This galley was provided to me by the publisher and in no way affected by review.



Trailer for ALBERT NOBBS has been released

The trailer for ALBERT NOBBS starring Glenn Close in the title role has been released. It looks amazing.  Albert Nobbs is based on the short story by Irish author George Moore. Glenn Close's character, an Englishwoman in 19th century Ireland, longs to be a hotel butler and dreams of opening her own store. Glenn Close first appeared as Albert Nobbs in 1982, in Simone Benmussa's adaptation of the Moore short story for the stage.





Poster Copyright @ Roadside Attractions. 

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

ALWAYS THE WEDDING PLANNER, NEVER THE BRIDE
By Sandra D. Bricker
Abington Press, $14.99




 Publisher's synopsis: As a wedding planner, Sherilyn Caine should have the perfect wedding experience... After all, she just landed her dream job at the wedding destination hotel, The Tanglewood. 
The rest should be a piece of cake for Sherilyn's Type A personality. But while everything else goes smoothly, her own wedding plans start to sink right before her eyes. 
One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance? 



 My thoughts: Always the Wedding Planner, Never The Bride is the second in Sandra D. Becker's wedding themed series that began with Always the Baker, Never the Bridesmaid. Luckily for readers of Bricker's newest, we catch up with Emma Rae Creation's college roommate, Sherilyn Crane, as she returns home to Atlanta, where she encounters an oddball cast of friends, a soon to be mother-in-law who are all plopped down in goofy predicaments.


 Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride is just a lot of fun to read. Sandra D. Bricker writes comedy well, her timing and plotting are spot on. Bricker also provides enough angst and nail chewing to make us wonder how or if Sherilyn and her fiance Andy Drummond will ever make it to the altar. Or should they? Could they?


 Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride is, pardon the bad pun, a very engaging read. I couldn't help myself. I had to say it.


 Bricker nicely added some faith based threads, I enjoyed reading her subtle additions as they didn't overwhelm the reader or detract from her plot. It just works, the whole book just works.


Now I'm waiting to see what Bricker cooks up next for Emma and Sherilyn and who else?


I'm not giving anything away here...  just go read the book.


 I give Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride 3 1/2 out of 5 stars!

This e-galley was provided to me by the publisher, and in no way affected by review.


Johnny Depp takes on Dr. Suess







Grab your Cat in the Hat people!  A few years ago Johnny Depp took on Peter Pan's J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland for Miramax, a role that got him an OSCAR® nomination. Now he's looking at producing a bio-pic about Dr. Suess, more accurately, Theodor Geisel.   


Depp's production company, Infinitum Nihil and Illusion Entertainment are behind the project.






                  




Read more about the film project here at HollywoodReporter.com


Image of  Johnny Depp from Finding Neverland: Miramax


The Cat in the Hat book cover image: Random House.





"Perry Mason" gets a reboot with Robert Downey Jr.

In  'books to movies" news,  Indiewire.com is reporting that Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason will head back into the courtroom. This time it'll be Robert Downey Jr. playing the savvy lawyer Mason! Now this could be great!


IndieWire said:
Well, just like the books, the movie will be set in 1930s Los Angeles with the familiar gallery of characters—Mason’s secretary Della Street, private investigator Paul Drake, and legal nemesis Hamilton Burger—all to feature as well. We figure (and hope) it will be developed to be somewhat different than the explosion-y take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle works. In short, we don’t want Perry Mason to become a bare knuckle brawler. However, there is lots of room for RDJ to bring his trademark charm and make a livelier, but still respectful, version of the character. So while purists may whine, Raymond Burr had a helluva run and a new take would surely be welcome.
Please visit IndieWire  for their entire article.




Erle Stanley Gardner practiced law for twenty years before creating the Perry Mason character in The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933).  




Book cover image source

The Sauvignon Secret by Ellen Crosby

The Sauvignon Secret
By Ellen Crosby

Scribner, $24.00







Publisher's synopsis:  WHEN LUCIE MONTGOMERY FINDS the body of prominent wine merchant Paul Noble hanging from a beam in his art studio not far from her Virginia vineyard, she is unwittingly dragged into Noble's murky past. Once a member of the secretive Mandrake Society, Noble might have aided in a cover-up of the deaths forty years ago of a disabled man and a beautiful young biochemist involved in classified government research.

A seemingly innocent favor for an old friend of her French grandfather sends Lucie to California, where she teams up with Quinn Santori, who walked out of Lucie's life months earlier. Soon Lucie and Quinn are embroiled in a deadly cat-and-mouse game that takes them from glittering San Francisco to the legendary vineyards of Napa and Sonoma, and back home to Virginia, as they try to discover whether a killer may be seeking vengeance for the long-ago deaths. As Lucie and Quinn struggle to uncover the past, they must also decide whether they have a future together. Blending an intriguing mystery with an absorbing plot, vivid characters, and a richly evoked setting, The Sauvignon Secretshould be savored like a glass of fine wine. 

My thoughts about The Sauvignon Secret: A Wine Country Mystery: to put it simply, this is a fun read!  I liked it!  I had not read any of Ellen Crosby's books before this one, but I am changing that fact quickly!  I'll be reading more of Crosby's Lucie and Quinn books soon.  Why did I like it so much? I thought Crosby did an excellent job in moving her characters from the comfort of their world in Virginia and immersing them all into unfamiliar territory, a place that happens to be one of my favorite areas of the world!  California's wine country! I liked the plot and loved the tie in with her secret, old Mandrake Society.  I usually love to read stories that span generations in time, yet have a place in today's world. Also, I just flat out like her characters!

Crosby's characters are all richly drawn so the reader has a clear understanding of who and what the characters are. Even for someone like me, jumping into the series head first, into the sixth book, I was quickly drawn into the plot as there's nothing like a dead body next to a wine bottle to start a mystery off right!  Crosby's writing is sharp and measured for most of the book. My little issue was that I thought a bit of the book, towards the ending, was a bit long. I though it could have been edited down a bit.

I found it easy to get into Lucie and Quinn's world and felt at ease there because of the tightly woven plot lines that Crosby used in telling this story. And that's really what it's all about. I liked the story,  I wanted to find out what happened and why. Pretty simple stuff. but too many authors miss that point.  This author didn't. Nope, not at all.  This is good right down to the last drop...errr page.

I give it a big old 3 1/2 stars!

This e-galley was provided to me at my request by the publisher, and in no way did it affect my review.




Southern author Maryln Schwartz dies



Today I want to write about the death of Maryln Schwartz. Maryln died last Thursday in Dallas. Her book, A Southern Belle Primer, was a New York Times Best Seller and she was seen on many TV programs including Good Morning America, The Joan Rivers Show and Oprah as she spoke with great fun, wit and humor about being a Southerner and what makes someone a "Southern Belle."



 She was a featured columnist with the Dallas Morning News for many years. Maryln's sharp sense of humor, always with a wink and a smile, captured the hearts of all who knew her, or knew her writing. She always had her finger on the pulse of what people were talking about.


  There's a really lovely write up in her home town newspaper the Mobile Press-Register, you can read it here.



Maryln,  bless your heart, you are already missed.



Photo found here.
Cover art: Main Street Books





Books to Movies Monday - North Dallas Forty

Today's Book to Movies Monday remembers author Peter Gent, who died last week. 
Peter's 1973 book North Dallas Forty became a huge hit of a movie in 1979 starring Nick Nolte, Mac Davis and Charles Durning.  You can read Peter Gent's obituary here.


And here's the movie poster...remember folks, it was the 70s. 


Book cover: William Morrow, movie poster Paramount

Upper Cut: Highlights of my Hollywood Life by Carrie White

UPPER CUT: Highlights of my Hollywood Life 
By Carrie White

Atria Books, $26.00



Editor's synopsis:  I was living a hairdresser's dream. I was making my mark in this all-male field. My appointment book was filled with more and more celebrities. And I was becoming competition for my heroes . . .
Behind the scenes of every Hollywood photo shoot, TV appearance, and party in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, there was Carrie White. As the "First Lady of Hairdressing," Carrie collaborated with Richard Avedon on shoots for Vogue, partied with Jim Morrison, styled Sharon Tate's hair before her wedding to Roman Polanski, and got high with Jimi Hendrix. She has counted Jennifer Jones, Betsy Bloomingdale, Elizabeth Taylor, Goldie Hawn, and Camille Cosby among her favorite clients.
But behind the glamorous facade, Carrie's world was in perpetual disarray and always had been. After her father abandoned the family when she was still a child, she was sexually abused by her domineering stepfather, and her alcoholic mother was unstable and unreliable. Carrie was sipping cocktails before her tenth birthday, and had had five children and three husbands before her twenty-eighth. She fueled the frenetic pace of her professional life with a steady diet of champagne and vodka, diet pills, cocaine, and heroin, until she eventually lost her home, her car, her career—and nearly her children. But she battled her way back, getting sober, rebuilding her relationships and her reputation as a hairdresser, and today, the name Carrie White is once again on the door of one of Beverly Hills's most respected salons. An unflinching portrayal of addiction and recovery, Upper Cut proves that even in Hollywood, sometimes you have to fight for a happy ending.


My thoughts about Carrie White's Upper Cut: WOW!  Carrie's young years were surely tough, Carrie details her abuse by her stepfather and mistreatment by her alcoholic mother in some detail, and leads us into the not-so-glamorous backside of Hollywood. The world of stars, drugs and alcohol, and the abuse that comes along with the celebrities. I was afraid that this would be another poorly written "tell all" that leads the reader no where.  Boy was I wrong!


Carrie White has poured her heart and soul into telling her life story. She's not looking for sympathy, she tells things as they were in her world. The names were not "dropped" - the famous people were as normal to her as our neighbors are to us. White doesn't use names to create sensational gossip. She's sharing her life and her fight to gain control of her own world.


Upper Cut is so well written and so addictive in itself that I couldn't put it down. I was thrilled to have a printed galley because I did carry it around with me and it was way too easy for me to reach into my tote and bring it out to read immediately!!  No turning on the e-reader and waiting for it to load in. There's something to be said for a printed book. Instant read!


I was into the read from the first page, although the bits about her abuse by her stepfather, Johnny, were hard to read, I didn't skim a word.


It's great to read about someone's life that ends on the right note, where they do pull themselves up.  The path along the way is sometimes hard to read, sometimes hard to understand why she chose what she did, but it's never dull, always truthful and always entertaining.


I highly recommend Upper Cut, it's so nice to see someone survive to share her story so others can see it's possible for people to succeed.


4 out of 5 stars!







This advance reader's galley was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review. 

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