Friday, November 5, 2010

Grace Under Pressure: A Manor House Mystery by Julie Hyzy

Grace Under Pressure (Manor House Mysteries, No. 1)
Grace Under Pressure (Manor House Mysteries, No. 1) by Julie Hyzy

The blurb:
Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, and letters are coming in daily from those claiming to be poor relations.  The elderly, reclusive heir trusts no one but his aged curator, Abe.  But when Abe is killed in a case of mistaken identity, the tale changes. . . .

Although shaken by the murder, Grace Wheaton, whose lifelong dream has been to work at the manor, steps up to the challenge of assuming Abe's job.But now some of the letters arriving for Bennett have taken a nasty turn, demanding millions--or else.  When an uninvited stalker shows up at the manor and at Grace's home, she and handsome groundskeeper Jack Embers must protect their dear old Marshfield.  But to do this, they'll have to investigate a botched Ponzi scheme, some torrid Wheaton family secrets--and sour grapes out for revenge. . . .

Grace Under Pressure was my first exposure to Julie Hyzy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Hyzy gives us a detective cozy in the traditional English manor house setting but with less conventional characters.  There are plots and subplots -- romances, fraud, petty rivalries and family intrigues.   

Well crafted, witty and engrossing, Grace Under Pressure is a book that I'd recommend to cozy lovers everywhere.  I look forward to the next installment in the Manor House Mysteries.

ISBN-10: 0425235211 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Berkley (June 1, 2010), 320 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
An award-winning author, Julie Hyzy also enjoys writing short stories, many of them mysteries and science fiction.  Julie was born in Chicago, but loves the history and grandeur of Washington D.C.

Thank you so much to Dana Kaye and the publisher for this review opportunity!

Friday 56: Week 58 - Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Storytime with Tonya and Friends at
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie

Here's the blurb:
When ten-year-old India Opal Buloni moves to Naomi, Florida, with her father, she doesn't know what to expect -- least of all that she'll adopt Winn-Dixie, a dog she names after the supermarket where they meet.  Before long, Opal and her father realize -- with a little help from Winn-Dixie -- that while they've both tasted a bit of melancholy in their lives, they still have a whole lot to be thankful for.

Here's my Friday 56:
"I know it," Otis told her.

Book Blog Tour of Blood Trinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love

There was some trouble getting the book to me and I apologize for the delayed blog tour post.  If you're in the mood for fantasy adventure - with demons and a beautiful and righteous heroine - read on!

Blood Trinity: Book 1 in the Belador Series

Blood Trinity: Book 1 in the Belador Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love

The blurb:
Atlanta has become the battlefield between human and demon.  All her life, Evalle Kincaid has walked the line between the two.  Her origins unknown, she's on a quest to learn more about her past. . . and her future.

When a demon claims a young woman in a terrifying attack and there's no one else to blame, Evalle comes under suspicion. Now she's on a deadly quest for her own survival.  Through the sordid underground of an alternate Atlanta where nothing is as it seems to the front lines of the city, where her former allies have joined forces to hunt her, Evalle must prove her innocence or pay the ultimate price.

But saving herself is the least of her problems if she doesn't stop the coming apocalypse.  The clock is ticking and Atlanta is about to catch fire. . . .

Blood Trinity  is the first in the new Belador series and introduces us to a world where there are demons and supernatural beings from different worlds walking among us.  The ability to move to our time and to the past also exists and is wielded by the more powerful beings.

The supernatural beings are largely hidden -- they have developed ways to communicate and to keep their identity from the regular humans just as the Beladors strive to protect all humans. 

This world is not without discrimination and strife and intrigue.  We learn that those of mixed heritage are not just looked down upon but mistrusted.  Evalle Kincaid is the first person of mixed heritage that we meet and our first impression of her is that she's terrified that the others will learn of her difference. Despite the personal risks that she faces, she is willing to divulge this "flaw" to save the lives of the other Beladors.  Kincaid proves herself to be honorable, brave and loyal -- while those who claim her loyalty have been weak.

Without disclosing what happens, the book involves a powerful object with a will of its own, historical enemies that have suddenly acquired power, and personal rivalry that puts cooperation at risk.    There are undertones of romance and satisfying action scenes.   Overall, Blood Trinity is a gripping start to a new series.   I look forward to reading more about Evalle Kincaid and the next installment in the Belador series.

ISBN-10: 1439155828 - Mass Market Paperback $7.99
Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (October 19, 2010), 528 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Authors:
Sherrilyn Kenyon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several series, including the Bureau of American Defense novels Born to be BAD, BAD Attitude, Phantom in the Night, Whispered Lies, and Silent Truth -- all available through Pocket Books. There are more than twenty million copies of her books in print in over thirty countries.  She lives with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.  Learn more on her website at

Dianna Love is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of Phantom in the Night, Whispered Lies, and Silent Truth.  She is a national speaker who started writing while working over a hundred feet in the air, creating billboard marketing projects for Fortune 500 companies.  When not plotting out her latest action-adventure, she travels the country on motorcycle to meet fans and research new locations.  She and her husband live near Atlanta, Georgia.  Visit her website at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand

Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood

Our generation of women have had more opportunities than our mothers. Women have spent more time in school, establishing careers, waiting longer to marry or start families.  By the time many of us felt ready for that next stage, we faced a quickly shrinking window of time.  In Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood, three successful women journalists Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand tell their stories.  They’d each had terrible luck with men.  Each of them wanted to have children and, in their late thirties, they were no longer willing to wait for the right man.  

Former Boston bureau chief of the New York Times, Carey was ready to try a nontraditional path to motherhood.  After much consideration, she decides to do it on her own and finds an anonymous sperm donor.  The same day that vials arrive, she meets a  man, falls in love, and gets pregnant the regular way.  Carey offered the vials to her friend Beth who was recovering from a difficult divorce.  Before Beth can use the vials, she meets someone during an ice-climbing trip -- and falls in love and also gets pregnant.  Beth passes on the vials to their friend Pam, the eternal romantic.   Suddenly, Pam’s luck changes too -- and she finds herself in love and a mother.  Three Wishes is a true story of best friends who find that when they stop waiting for fairy-tale endings, their “happily ever afters” begins.

Three Wishes spoke to me.  I loved that these women became friends in their late thirties, when it seems like we have our own set of friends and are unlikely to branch out.  While the book tells their stories of love and motherhood, it's the friendships that engaged me, drew me in.  I saw Three Wishes as a book that celebrates the varied and difficult journeys that we each go through.  
ISBN-10: 0316079065 - Hardcover $24.99
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 6, 2010), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Authors:
Carey Goldberg has been Boston bureau chief of the New York Times, Moscow correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, and most recently a health and science reporter at the Boston Globe.  She now writes happily at home, where she is developing

Beth Jones is a writer and educator who has contributed to the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and numerous academic journals; her next project is a novel.  She plans to climb many more frozen waterfalls.

Pamela Ferdinand is an award-winning freelance journalist and former reporter for the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Miami Herald.  She remains an incorrigible romantic.

Carey and Beth live near Boston with their families; Pamela and her family live outside Chicago.  Still close, the authors continue to believe in the power of good friends, love, and a little luck.

This Is Not The Story You Think It Is. . .A Season of Unlikely Happiness by Laura Munson

I've started reviewing books for Town & Country magazine in the Philippines.  For January, I've tried to choose books that encourage us to appreciate the relationships and people that matter in our lives. One book that I recommend is This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

This Is Not The Story You Think It Is. . . A Season of Unlikely Happiness is the true account of a woman who married her college sweetheart and their “happily ever after.”  They were young, beautiful, successful -- they grew careers and built their lives together.  They moved to Montana and lived surrounded by the mountains and grounded by nature.  Then suddenly, things fell apart.  

Laura’s husband of fourteen years suddenly announced that he needed to be alone, that he couldn’t say that he loved her and that he wasn’t sure that he had ever loved her.  Faced with the destruction of the life and family that she loved,  Laura Munson fought --  for her husband, her marriage, and her sense of self.  And through it all, Munson wrote.  This Is Not The Story You Think It Is  is Munson’s account her strategy to overcome the crisis in her marriage.   Wise and funny, it’s written with love -- it’s about a person going through a tough time and trying not to suffer, albeit she is not always successful.  It’s the story of a person choosing happiness over suffering and of working to remain well-adjusted. And teaching your children how to live.

ISBN-10: 0399156658 - Hardcover $24.95
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (April 1, 2010), 332 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
About the Author:
Laura Munson is a writer who lives with her husband and children in Montana.