Review: Deadly Obsession by Karen M Davis

 

Title: Deadly Obsession {Detective Lexi Rogers #2}

Author: Karen M Davis

Published: Simon & Schuster August 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 05 to 07, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Deadly Obsession is the second crime novel from Karen M Davis to feature Detective Lexie Rogers.

In the early hours of the morning a woman’s body, clutching a long stemmed red rose, is discovered on Clovelly Beach. The empty packet of OxyContine in her pocket suggests a drug overdose as the cause of death but Lexie is sure the scene is staged. When the initial stages of the investigation implicates her ex-husband in the woman’s murder, Lexie is shocked, but as she and her partner, Brad Sommers, continue to dig they unearth a worrying chain of connections that for Lexie are too close to home.

Deadly Obsession is, in part, a police procedural, exposing Lexie and Brad’s investigation as they chase leads and search for evidence to identify the elusive killer, but also includes elements of psychological suspense, action and a touch of romance. The story is tightly plotted, though I thought the links between Lexie and the key characters were just a little too neat and convenient. My early suspicions regarding the murderer were proved right but I was swayed by the red herrings laid down by Davis at times and surprised by some of the connections that were eventually revealed.

sinister-intent-davisI am glad that Lexie seems less anxious in Deadly Obsession. Though still at risk from panic attacks related to previous events, and distressed by her recent break up with Josh (Detective Josh Harrison) who fled to Bali to bury himself in the bottle after the death of his sister, Jenna, Lexie is stronger and more focused. She works the case with attention to detail and stands up for herself against Brad’s doubts. I didn’t agree with all of her decisions though, some of which, like not reporting the threats made against her, seemed a bit disingenuous for a police officer.

While it isn’t strictly necessary to have read Sinister Intent before embarking on this sequel, I think it would be worth your time. A solid example of Australian crime fiction, Deadly Obsession is an enjoyable and engaging read and I look forward to seeing how Davis continues to develop the series.

Deadly Obsession is available to purchase from

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

Meh!

 

What I Read Last Week

 Deeper Water by Jessie Cole

Hangtown by Karen Sandler

Deadly Obsession by Karen M Davis

Working Stiff by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review:  The Aitch Factor by Susan Butler ★★★

AWW Feature: Jessie Cole and Deeper Water

Review: Deeper Water by Jessie Cole ★★★★★

Review: Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth ★★★★

Review: Hamlet’s Ghost by Jane Tara ★★★1/2

Review: Hangtown by Karen Sandler ★★★★

National Bookshop Day

Review: Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner  by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell ★★★★★

Weekend Cooking: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan: Tablet (Scottish Fudge)

Review: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan ★★★1/2

 What I Am Reading Today

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives. Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in — and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago. Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

 A year after becoming sheriff, Quinn Colson is faced with the release of an infamous murderer from prison. Jamey Dixon comes back to Jericho preaching redemption, and some believe him; but for the victim’s family, the only thought is revenge. Another group who doesn’t believe him – the men in prison from Dixon’s last job, an armored car robbery. They’re sure he’s gone back to grab the hidden money, so they do the only thing they can: break out and head straight to Jericho themselves. Colson and his deputy, Lillie, know they’ve got their work cut out for them. But they don’t count on one more unwelcome visitor: a tornado that causes havoc just as events come to a head. Communications are down, the roads are impassable – and the rule of law is just about to snap.

Hugh Tindall is an ordinary man who has lived through extraordinary times in outback Queensland. From a poor man’s selection on the Diamantina in 1928 to owning six large stations with his family, from shearing his first 100 sheep a day at the age of sixteen to organising sheds in the long running 1956 shearer’s strike, Hugh’s story is part of a turbulent time in the outback, whose history he is passionate about. Told in his own voice, it is an honest account of life in isolated western and central Queensland, where the tough survived or died.

 

From Deborah Moggach, bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, comes another hilarious and romantic comedy, this time set in a run-down B&B in Wales. When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for. In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds – and fast. Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who’s been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle. But under Buffy’s watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought…

Andy Broussard, the plump and proud New Orleans medical examiner, obviously loves food. Less apparent to the casual observer is his hatred of murderers. Together with his gorgeous sidekick, psychologist Kit Franklyn, the two make a powerful, although improbable, mystery solving duo.  It s a bizarre case for Andy and Kit. A man is found in Jackson Square, stabbed, one eyelid removed and four Scrabble tiles with the letters KOJE on his chest. Soon, there s a second victim, also stabbed and missing one eyelid, but this time with only three letters on his chest, KOJ. The pattern is unmistakable, but does it mean there will be two more victims and then the killer will go away, or is he leading up to something bigger and deadlier?  Broussard and Kit use their disciplines to profile the killer, but it soon becomes clear that the clues and objects they ve found are part of a sick game that the killer is playing with Broussard; a game most likely engineered by one of the hundreds of attendees at the annual forensics meeting being held in New Orleans. Has Broussard finally met his match?

 

 While you are here…

Thanks for stopping by!

Review: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

9781402281839

 

Title: Sweetshop of Dreams

Author: Jenny Colgan

Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca August 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 08 to 09, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

From Jenny Colgan comes another delicious tale of family, love and romance in her newest release, Sweetshop of Dreams.

If pressed, Rosie Hopkins will admit that she is in a bit of a rut, her career has stalled, and so it seems, has her relationship of seven years, but she can’t imagine how spending six weeks in rural Derbyshire will help matters any. However her elderly Great Aunt Lilian needs help and Rosie, an auxiliary nurse, is best placed to do so. Reluctantly Rosie travels to the small village of Lipton, determined to sort out her aunts affairs and return to London, and Gerard, as quickly as possible, but as she experiences the charms of country life, changeable weather and grumpy dentists notwithstanding, Rosie slowly discovers just how sweet life could be.

On her first day in Lipton, Rosie gets lost in the country side during a rainstorm, on her second she discovers her aunts sweetshop, which needs to be sold as a going concern to fund Lilian’s move into a nursing home, has been abandoned, and on her third she careens out of control on Lilian’s old bicycle, destroying a farmer’s vegetable patch and humiliating herself in front of a hunky farmhand and the handsome local doctor. Country life, Rosie is convinced, is not for her but as she begins to restore the sweetshop to its former glory and make friends with the locals, she begins to consider the choices she has made and reevaluate what would make her happy.

Entwined with Rosie’s adventures in Lipton are glimpses into Lillian’s past as a young woman and the regrets, disappointments and tragedies that shaped her life. This goes a long way to explaining Lilian’s sharp tongue, and gives the story a little more depth, emphasising the novel’s major theme of regret over the risks not taken.

Most readers of a certain age will fondly remember the sweets of their youth, my preference was for cobbers (caramel squares covered in milk chocolate) and lurid pink musk sticks, so Rosie’s refurbishment of Lilian’s sweetshop holds a great deal of nostalgic appeal. Colgan’s recipe additions for treats such as Coconut Ice, Peanut Brittle and Tablet (aka Scottish Fudge- which Jenny Colgan kindly shared with Book’d Out readers) are a welcome inclusion, and perfect to enjoy along with the book.

An engaging and charming story with few sour notes, Sweetshop of Dreams is an enjoyable novel and a sweet treat to savour.

Sweetshop of Dreams is available to purchase from

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Click on the image for Jenny Colgan’s recipe for Tablet (aka Scottish Fudge)

Tablet The Fudge House

Weekend Cooking: Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

 

9781402281839

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Rosie Hopkins’s life is…comfortable. She has a steady nursing job, a nice apartment, and Gerard, her loyal (if a bit boring) boyfriend. And even though she might like to pursue a more rewarding career, and Gerard doesn’t seem to have any plans to propose, Rosie’s not complaining. Things could be worse. Right?

Life gets a bit more interesting when Rosie’s mother sends her out to the country to care for her ailing great aunt Lilian, who owns an old-fashioned sweetshop. But as Rosie gets Lilian back on her feet, breathes a new life into the candy shop, and gets to know the mysterious and solitary Stephen—whose family seems to own the entire town—she starts to think that settling for what’s comfortable might not be so great after all.

Recipe for Tablet (Scottish Fudge) from Jenny Colgan

Tablet The Fudge House

Ingredients:

1 stick butter
4 cups white sugar
1 small tin condensed milk
I cup milk.

Method:

• Melt butter slowly. Stir sugar in slowly, if it burns it’s done for.
• When melted in, add milk & condensed milk. Bring to boil, then back to a simmer, and keep stirring for about 45 minutes!!!
• When it goes brown, drop a bit off a metal spoon into a cup of cold water- it should form into a soft ball. Then it’s ready.
• Take off heat, scrape sugar off sides, STIR VIGOROUSLY for a few minutes until you feel the mixture start to thicken and granulate a bit.
• Pour into buttered tins. Will set like concrete in about 3 hours.
• Don’t then do what I did last night and eat so much you think you’re going to spew :) . You can add vanilla flavoring, or nuts and things, but I like it the traditional way.

 

****

A former columnist for The Guardian, Jenny Colgan contributes regularly to national BBC radio and is the author of more than eleven bestselling novels, including her recent international bestsellers The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris published in 2014 and Welcome To Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams, which won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award from the Romantic Novelists Association. She is married with three children and lives in London and France.

****

Read my review of Sweetshop of Dreams by clicking HERE

9781402281839

Sweetshop of Dreams is available to purchase from

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****

wkendcooking

Review: Working Stiff by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

 

Title: Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

Author: Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Published: Scribner: Simon and Schuster August 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 07 to 08, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“Don’t jaywalk. Wear your seat belt when you drive. Better yet, stay out of the car, and get some exercise. Watch your weight. If you’re a smoker stop right now. If you aren’t, don’t start. Guns put holes in people. Drugs are bad. You know that yellow line on the subway platform? It’s there for a reason. Staying alive, as it turns out, is mostly common sense.”

This is the advice of Judy Melinek, the author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, gleaned from her experience as an assistant medical examiner in New York City. From 2001 to 2003 Melinek performed hundreds of autopsies on the victims of homicides, suicides, accidents, natural diseases, therapeutic complications, and undetermined causes, that crossed her table.

Melinek’s very first post mortem involved the death of a young man, a heroin addict diagnosed with sickle-cell trait who died in hospital, her second an elderly man who sustained severe burns in a house fire, the third a pregnant woman, the victim of a hit and run. In general, each chapter of Working Stiff groups together cases by manner of death, detailing Melinek’s examination of patients young and old, male and female, destitute and wealthy, and everything in between. The final chapters focus on the medical examiners office’s role in the wake of the Twin Towers collapse on September 11, and the crash of American Airlines flight 587.

The narrative is very readable, almost conversational in tone, and mostly free of the medical jargon one might expect. Melinek is at all times respectful but not humourless, sharing both professional perspective and personal observations. I do feel compelled to warn the unwary reader that this isn’t a book for the squeamish with its graphic record of gruesome injury and detailed descriptions of the forensic autopsy process.

What shines through is Melinek’s passion and commitment to her job as she works to investigate and determine the cause and manner of death, comfort the bereaved, provide assistance to the justice system and “speak for the dead”.

Informative, entertaining and engaging Working Stiff is a fascinating account of the work of a medical examiner, well told by Judy Melinek and her husband T.J. Mitchell.

* I gave the book an extra 1/2 star for Judy’s admission she wears “sensible shoes and a Medical Examiner windbreaker” during her rare visits to crime scenes – not six inch stiletto’s and Armani suits.

 

Working Stiff is available to purchase from

Simon and Schuster US I AmazonUS I BookDepository I Indiebound

via Booko

It’s National Bookshop Day!

Today Australia celebrates National Bookshop Day. Support your local store!

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Review: Hangtown by Karen Sandler

 

Title: Hangtown { Janelle Watkins, Private Investigator #2}

Author: Karen Sandler

Published: Sadly the publisher of Hangtown, Exhibit A, shut its doors just days before the book’s publication date and it was not released.

Status: Read from August 04 to 05, 2014 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Karen Sandler’s Hangtown is the second gritty mystery novel to feature private investigator, Janelle Watkins, picking up about a year after the events that took place in Clean Burn.

Janelle is still in Greenville, California, living in a trailer on the property left to her by her father, but with every intention of heading back to San Francisco as soon as she can scrape together enough money. In the meantime she picks up whatever work comes her way, from surveillance gigs to insurance jobs and skip traces, argues with the County building service, and reluctantly keeps an eye on her on and off again lover’s teenage niece. It’s Cassie who discovers the body of nineteen year old Zach Stinson hanging from a bridge on the border of Janelle’s property. At first the police, including Sheriff Ken Heinz, assume Zach committed suicide but something about that scenario doesn’t seem right and when Janelle is asked to investigate the disappearance of a young man who knew the victim, instinct tells her her the two cases are connected.

Fast paced and action packed, Hangtown is a well crafted, complex mystery. As Janelle begins her search for the missing boy, and it becomes obvious that Zach was murdered, a local doctor is killed in a suspicious accident, a nurse is hit by a runaway vehicle and Janelle, who has been receiving a series of threatening text messages, is attacked by an unknown assailant. Janelle, with the help of Ken, has to figure out what connects these seemingly unrelated incidents before someone else dies.

Though still in near constant pain, as the result of an accidental firearm discharge by a rookie cop that all but destroyed her leg and forced her resignation from the police force, Janelle seems to have quieted some of her demons after the last case and has managed to curb some of her more self destructive tendencies. I was really glad to see this growth in her character which I think is rendered believably. One of Janelle’s past vices does haunt her in Hangtown however, and has the potential to drive a wedge between Janelle’s tentatively renewed relationship with Ken.

Hangtown isn’t as dark as Clean Burn but it does offer a more elaborate mystery. I found it to be both entertaining and exciting and read it almost straight through. Janelle in particular is an intriguing character and makes a terrific protagonist, I’m already looking forward to joining her for her next case.

Sadly I just learnt that the publisher of Hangtown, Exhibit A, shut its doors just days before the book’s publication date and it was not released.  I hope that Karen Sandler is able to put it into the hands of a new publisher with all haste.

 

 

Review: Hamlet’s Ghost by Jane Tara

Title: Hamlet’s Ghost { Shakespeare Sisters #3}

Author: Jane Tara

Published: Momentum July 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 31 to August 01, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Another enchanting romance by Australian author Jane Tara, Hamlet’s Ghost, though ostensibly the third book in a series featuring the magical Shakespeare family (the first is Forecast and the second Trouble Brewing), works well as a stand-alone.

Frustrated by an acting career going no where, and heartbroken after finding her boyfriend in bed (well on a coffee table to be more accurate) with her best friend, when Rhiannon Dee discovers an abandoned, rundown theater in the small town of Hamlet she decides to reopen it. The Hamlet Majestic has stood empty for almost thirty years, after a ceiling collapse resulted in the tragic death of the former owner, Kip Daniels, during the opening night performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His son, Tad, who inherited the property seems to have mixed feelings about the project but Rhi, despite Tad’s weirdness, and the objections of her witch of a mother, is determined to restore the Majestic to its former glory and breathe new life into Hamlet’s theater.

Hamlet’s Ghost is a lighthearted contemporary romance with a hint of mystery, and a paranormal twist.

Rhi is a witch, and though she is determined to disown her heritage in order to disassociate herself from her teenage role as ‘Witchlet’ and escape her mother’s overbearing influence, she learns there is no escaping who you are. I liked Rhi a lot, she refuses to wallow in self pity despite recent events and is determined to make a success of the theater. To do so she has to figure out how to help the former owner, Kip, who haunts the premises, move on.

But there is more than simply unfinished business keeping Kip earthbound, additional drama stems from the surprising links between Rhi’s mother, local cafe owner/tarot card reader Crystal, and the ghost. A major theme of the book is the need to make peace with the past, applicable not only to Kip but also several other of the main characters, including Rhi and Tad.

The misunderstandings that keep Rhi and Tad apart during much of the novel stem from an unusual situation. I don’t want to give too much away so lets just say a case of mistaken identity plays havoc with their developing attraction. While secondary love-match plots also play out for two of the characters in this story, Annie is torn between two men and Tye is waiting for the man of her dreams, surprisingly I didn’t feel the romance, though an important element, overwhelmed the story.

A bewitching read, Hamlet’s Ghost is charming and often funny story with appealing characters and a feel-good ending.

 

Available to Purchase From

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Click for my review

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Review: Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

 

Title: Are You Seeing Me?

Author: Darren Groth

Published: Woolshed Press: Random House Au August 2014

Status: Read from July 29 to 31, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A heartwarming and touching novel from Darren Groth, Are You Seeing Me? is a story about siblings, family, love and understanding.

After losing their father to cancer just weeks shy of their eighteenth birthdays, nineteen year old twins, Justine and Perry, are heading to Canada for a holiday of a lifetime. Perry is hoping to find proof of the Ogopogo’s existence and visit the area where his favourite Jackie Chan movie, Rumble in the Bronx, was filmed. Justine, anxious about their impending separation, is determined this will be an adventure Perry won’t forget. Neither are fully prepared for the seismic events that will rock their world.

Are you Seeing Me? is told, with compassion and insight, from the alternating first person viewpoints of Justine and Perry. Justine, older than Perry by three minutes, is ‘neurotypical’, Perry, as Justine is often forced to explain, “…has a brain condition that can cause him to feel anxious or upset in different places and circumstances. He has trouble with people – mixing with them and communicating with them – and it sometimes results in inappropriate behaviours”. Since the death of their father, Justine has been Perry’s sole carer, their mother having abandoned the family when the twins were only four.

The unusual sibling dynamic is wonderfully portrayed, ‘Just Jeans’ and ‘Pez’ have a loving bond. Shortly before his death, the twins father made arrangements for Perry to move to an assisted living community, but Justine is struggling to accept the decision despite acknowledging Perry’s right to independence and Perry is determined to hide his reluctance to leave his sister in the belief that doing so will free her to live the life she put on hold to care for him.

I thought the twins were realistically depicted, and very likeable, characters. Justine is mature and capable but not perfect. Perry’s perspective is believable, though occasionally confusing given his occasional slip into an imaginary narrative.

There aren’t any real surprises in the plot of Are You Seeing Me?, but the story is well paced and believable. It is well written with natural dialogue and I particularly enjoyed the author’s dry sense of humour.

Are You Seeing Me? is an engaging read, appropriate for both mature YA readers and adults.

FYI: Groth dedicates this novel to his own daughter who, like Justine, is neurotypical while her twin brother, like Perry, has been diagnosed with autism (whom he honoured in Kindling)

 

Are You Seeing Me? is available to purchase from

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Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

Review: Deeper Water by Jessie Cole

 

Title: Deeper Water

Author: Jessie Cole

Published: Harper Collins Au August 2014

Read an extract

Status: Read from August 03 to 04, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Jessie Cole’s second novel, Deeper Water, is a graceful, captivating novel introducing Mema, a young woman who lives a simple life with her mother in a remote valley in Northern New South Wales.

Mema is twenty two but, having spent most of her life isolated from wider society, has an innocence more befitting a young teenager, happiest running barefoot in the rain with her only friend, Anja, or watching the sky lighten at dawn. She is not uneducated but is unworldly, with little curiosity about what lies beyond the boundary of the family property. She is naive but not unknowing, aware of her mother’s reputation for promiscuity, but uninterested in men or relationships. But everything begins to change for Mema when rescues a stranger, Hamish, from the flooded creek and slowly her ‘unknowns become knowns’.

They say every hero has to leave home, but what those first steps are like I’m yet to know”

Deeper Water beautifully explores Mema’s belated coming-of-age, her growing awareness of herself, of her desires, and of what the outside world may have to offer her. Mema is a richly drawn character struggling with the emotional changes Hamish’s presence awakens, and the way they affect her relationships, with her family, Anja and a neighbour, Billy, in particular.

Deeper Water is also about connection, or the lack there of. Mema is intimately connected to the landscape in which she lives, and the family she loves, but divorced from the wider world. Hamish, despite being horrified by Mema’s lack of internet and mobile access, can claim no real anchor, and despite his environmental credentials, has little connection to the land.

The landscape in which Deeper Water is set has character of its own and is brought to life by Cole’s evocative descriptions.

“At dusk the creek takes on a certain colour. velvety brown. Without the dapples sunshine, its depths are muted and mysterious and all the creatures seem to come to the surface. The catfish linger on their nests and the eels float by like black ribbons. The turtles perch on the flats of exposed rocks and the kingfishers fly past like the brightest of tailsmans.”

With its simple yet elegant prose, and quiet yet deeply felt emotion, Deeper Water is a mesmerising story about a young woman’s awakening to the possibilities of love and life.

 

Learn more about Jessie Cole and Deeper Water in this guest post, published earlier today

Deeper Water is available to purchase from

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Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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