Friday, October 30, 2015


My reading has been taking a few twists & turns...  Every-so-often I like to read a book that is out of my "comfort zone", a few of these reviews fall into that category.

FOUR STARS ★ ★ ★ ★

Image result for baba segiThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, Lola Shoneyin

I began this months ago, but I put it down and forgot about it (I got distracted & couldn't remember where I put it).... It's like that.

This was an interesting book, but I found it to be slow reading, the characters a bit flat (not well developed), nor were they very likable.  So I was never really invested in their stories...

From the back cover:
"When Baba Segi awoke with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife's childlessness."

Baba Segi: a large round, vain, and rich middle-aged man with a lusty & abundant appetite. He is the patriarch of a large family that now includes; four wives and seven children.  Unbeknownst to him, his disregard of his first three wives via the introduction of his newest fourth wife is about to topple his apple cart.

Iya Segi: Number One wife, is powerful and wealthy in her own right. Not only does she run the household, but she runs numerous businesses outside of the house as well. She is shrewd and not to be disturbed, especially not by a fourth wife. She will protect her position, home & family no matter the cost.

Iya Tope, Number Two wife is a shy woman with a prevailing sense of decency and kindness. She loves life but she is ruled by fear.

Iya Femi: Number Three wife is a lazy cunning woman whose main concern is comfort and expensive gifts. Her main focus is to attain all of her desires, no matter the cost to the family.

Bolanle: Number Four wife is the youngest and educated. Education has made her wise for her years and position. Unfortunately her introduction to the family causes great jealousy in the other wives...  and her secret, when unveiled, will expose the family's ugly truths and will rock them all to the very depths of their foundation.

Note: the names of the wives, Iya -, denotes Mother of Oldest child's name.  Bolanle has no child, therefore is called by her familiar name.

Wow, what nasty people.... But I can see the circumstances of their characters, as living in rural Nigeria would mold them.

The story when I got into it was interesting and profoundly sad..... It showed a life that I could never imagine and was rich in the description, although as I said earlier, I felt the characters to be a bit flat.

At the end, I really couldn't tell who was narrating, but it didn't matter as the climax was satisfying.

Image result for trouble in mudbugTrouble in Mudbug, Jana DeLeon

This is the first book in the Mudbug series, a Sleepy Little Bayou Town where Big Trouble Brews.

Maryse is sitting in the back of the church during her mother-in-law's funeral, when her mother-in-law, Helena, sits up in her casket, looks around, gets out of the  coffin and begins screaming at the entire congregation..... There is one slight problem, Helena is still dead and only Maryse can see & hear Helena.

At the reading of Helena's will,  Maryse finds that she is beneficiary to Bayou that Maryse has her office/laboratory on, which is currently being leased to the state.  There are two conditions to Maryse's inheritance: she must not leave Mudbug for a week and she must remain alive for the entire week as well, which is going to be hard to do as Helena's husband has discovered that there is billions $$$$ of oil under that bayou and he wants that bayou to go to his & Helena's son (Maryse's husband).

Helena is as funny as she is maddening, but she was nobody's fool, which was why she was murdered.

This was a clever plot and the story kept me engaged within all the hijinx....

Image result for pargeter's principleMrs. Pargeter's Principle, Simon Brett

I had mistakenly thought that Mrs. Pargeter was a thing of the past, as the last book written about her was in 1998. I was very happy to stumble upon this offering and found it to be delightful and suspenseful (but not in the scary way), and I figured a bit of it out.....

Mr Pargeter was a "business man"  of dubious distinction, who kept a "Black Book" of contacts.  He was the most respected man of his profession, he was honest, fair, and took care of all of his employees & their families.

After his death, Mrs Pargeter (who knows nothing of his business, as the less you know the less you are held responsible for) inherited quite a bit of money, investments, and her husband's Black Book, which she used on a regular basis employing those in it to help build her house, advise her on major decisions, drive her about, and solve problems that presented danger.

Mrs. Pargeter, Gary (her driver) & Truffle (the detective) attend the funeral of Normington-Winthrop, whose name appears in the Black Book under Armorers.  There is something odd about the entry, it was written over an erased entry, thus being corrected.

Once at the funeral, a business partner of N. W.  comes up to Mrs Pargeter and warns her to stay away from Lady Winthrop, or else.  This happens again, right after Lady Winthrop hires Truffle to look into her husband's past.....

From there there is a waywardly engaged couple, a young tech savvy woman taking over for her deceased father (who compiled all of Mr Pargeter's files & records onto thumb-drives), Gizmo (an inventor), Holy Smirk (a reverend), and others, all related in one way or another to Mr. Pargeter's business. 

I liked this book, it was fun, suspenseful, and entertaining.....  Nothing like the dreadful Fethering series....

Image result for malice at the palace bookMalice at the Palace, Rhys Bowen

Lady Georgiana, Great-granddaughter to Queen Victoria & 34th in line to the crown, has been staying in her friend Belinda's flat, when Belinda & a very prominent member  of the HOL show up for a romp!  Surprising them (as Belinda doesn't remember her being there) Georgie leaves the next day. 

While walking around Grosvenor Square, Georgie runs into her Brother Binky, who invites her to share the family town-home, much to the displeasure of her sister-in-law Fig.  Much more to Fig's disdain is the fact that Georgie is invited by Queen Mary to  stay at Kensington Palace, the "Aunt Heap". and be companion to Princess Marina of Greece prior to her wedding to Prince George.
After returning to Kensington late one night, Georgie sees a green glow of one of the palace's haunts, beneath  the glow she finds the body of society floozy, Bobo Carrington, well known as the Girl w/ the Silver Syringe.

Not only must Georgie find out who killed Bob & why, but she must protect the Prince's private life from his future bride.

Except for Georgie's maid, Queenie and their relationship, I liked the story...

Image result for dead and kickingDead and Kicking, Wendy Roberts

This is the most current in the "Ghost Duster" mass market series, and for some reason they seem to be difficult to get from my Library.

Sadie was a 2nd grade teacher, until the suicide of her brother Brian.  After his death, she quit her teaching job and began, " Scene-2-Clean", where she now cleans up crime scenes, decomposition & unattended death sites. But Sadie has a "gift", she can also see & communicate w/ the deceased, whom she helps to complete unfinished business, help find their murderers, and move on.

Sadie's father has just passed and for some reason he is unable to move on.... he has a task to complete before leaving.  

Sadie & her boyfriend Zack (a former Seattle PD) are cleaning up his ex-girlfriend's mother's house (she was a hoarder) when they encounter a mummified baby and a particularly nasty ghost, who has poltergeist abilities.  The ghost refuses to leave as some of the boxes in the upper bedrooms were his and he is protecting them....

Zack is hurt by the ghost & resorts to being taken care of by his ex (who is a nurse) and she supplies him w/ pain killers to which is he addicted.....  The police who are now cleaning up the house since the discovery of the mummified infant, are also being attacked by the ghost....

Sadie does her best to interview the owner of the house, who is in assisted living for care of her Alzheimer's/Dementia and begins to get the necessary information, when her van is vandalized and she is almost murdered twice.... and then assaulted more.

While working on & off on the hoarder's house, Sadie is also called to clean up the remains of a former male model turned homeless junkie in an under-construction mall boutique and a janitor in an "elite" school for gifted children.

The clues are all there if one pays attention, and for once I did! It was a light and interesting read, it held my interest all through to the conclusion.


Image result for murder on amsterdam avenueMurder on Amsterdam Avenue, Victoria Thompson
★ ★ ★ 1/2

Charles Oakes, the son of a wealthy family has been poisoned by one of his family members....  Soon to be married; Sarah Brandt & Frank Malloy are asked to look into the case by Sarah's mother & Charles's father.

While interviewing the family, several other people die of poisoning: the "negro" maid, Daisy & a few of her church friends. The "negro" part was significant, as the Oakes were the only family at that time to have negro employees and this played a major part in the plot line.

Charles's mother was saved from poverty by marrying his father during the Civil War, she was young & beautiful and her home & family had been destroyed..... Leaving her "slave" Daisy behind to one day catch-up w/ her....

Meanwhile, the new house is not coming along beautifully, until Sarah's ward, Maeve (the well taught daughter  of a con-man) steps in to oversee the project....

I liked the story, I figured out who did it and partially why, and I like the characters....

Image result for taming of the queenThe Taming of the Queen, Phillipa Gregory 

This is a fictional account of Kathrine Parr the surviving Queen and last wife of Henry VIII....

I found it to be overly long with unnecessary fictitious dialog, but certainly interesting.....  I'll tell you the more I read about Henry VIII, the more I dislike him and the more I'm convinced that he had diabetes...

The book highlighted her love of intellectual pursuits and church reform, her dedication to England as regent, her undying love for Thomas Seymour, and her insistence that Henry's children be raised together as a family.

It also highlighted was Henry's skills of spiteful manipulation pitting people/factions against each other so to insure their fear& loyalty to him as well as keeping them all insecure in their never-ending quest for power.

What I didn't know was that the painting of Henry, Edward, , the Queen (Katherine), Mary, & Elizabeth was painted with Jane Seymour's face, while Katherine was the Queen sitting for the portrait!

Image result for blotto   twinksBlotto, Twinks & the Dead Dowager Duchess, Simon Brett

This is a new series for me, set in the 1920's, England.... It was fast paced, full of excitement & adventure, but it was also full of upper-class slang which felt "affected" to me.... 

Blotto & Twinks are brother and sister, although Twinks is the younger of the two, she is by far the most intelligent & enterprising. So far they have avoided marriage like the plague, but it might not be possible for Blotto to remain a bachelor for long.

His mother has connived a long weekend invitation from a rival who has a daughter well enamored of Blotto. In the course of the weekend the hostess is found dead in the kitchen garden with a large red hand in paint on her back, and the footman has taken a very abrupt leave, Blotto's great friend & driver is arrested for the crime, and the Poirot-like detective is there for the opening scenes (Brett uses him a point of slur against Christie/Poirot) but later is nowhere a round.

Blotto & Twinks find the footman in an Opium Den as they question him about the Red Hand, he is shot through the head....... Blotto & Twinks are attacked, the Opium Den burns to the ground & the attackers turn out to be white men w/ painted yellow faces & wigs.

The chase begins and as Blotto & Twinks get nearer to the solution, it becomes clear that a group known as the Red Thumb/Hand (I forget) is out to stage some heinous feat towards the government.

Now here's what I didn't understand: Why was the Dowager Duchess killed? What if anything did that have to do w/ the Red Hand/Thumb group? The language! The fact that men were entranced by Twinks, but Blotto only cared about his car & cricket bats? The Poirotesque detective who was there only for purpose of derision aimed at Christie?

It just seemed like a merry mad-cap romp that really had no real plot or substantial characters (unlike Phryne or Tommy/Tuppence), so I marked it down 1 star.

Image result for vampire bones treacleVampire Bones & Treacle Scones, Kathryn Dunnett

As cozies go, it was an interesting read, as well as light & easy... Thankfully not as trite as most other cozies (which would have caused me to put it down).

A Halloween Haunted House, a bootlegger's hidden treasure, secret rooms & passages, missing tools, and a dead body where the skeleton should be!

The body ends up being that of Liss's cousin Ned, who, unknown to the family, was released from prison early.  Ned's bank account shows three large cash deposits, one made by a mysterious female.

A sleazy realtor wants to buy the house, a nosy gossiper of a Librarian who keeps newspaper clippings on all the local activity & scandals, a young teen from a bad family, his down & out hardworking mother, Liss & her Aunt make for the characters.

As I said, a light & entertaining read.....


Image result for poisoning in the pubThe Poisoning in the Pub, Simon Brett

Let's see, Simon Brett is a very popular British mystery writer known for his character Mrs. Pargeter... 

This is a series featuring two neighbors, Carole (an older woman retired from "Home Office" and rather stuffy &  controlled) & Jude (a "healer" who practices new age principles).

Carole & Jude are having lunch in a local pub, when several of the customers (dining on fresh scallops) become sick w/ food poisoning.  A few days later, the local "leader" starts picketing the pub against an upcoming  comedy show...  The show goes on, but not without a large messy biker fights and the death of a local disabled man (who held a secret about the scallops)....

The pub had been sighted for a hostile take over as had many others in the surrounding area many suffering from similar "incidents" and as things escalated more danger became evident.

I found the characters unlikable: the publican (who had been in a relationship w/ Carole) was rough & angry which made it difficult to have sympathy for him; Carole was unaccepting of her friend, critical, negative and hypocritical; Jude was totally incautious, oblivious and chose to ignore the escalating danger caused in part by her nosiness; the barmaid from Hungary was terse and unwelcoming......

The entire book was filled with unlikely circumstances, improbable scenes, there was no police involvement until the very end of the book, and there were too many places where  the characters went into "run-on" mode.

I'll not be reading anything in this series again.

Image result for lady elizabeth book
The Lady Elizabeth, Alison Weir

By the time I was half-way through this, I was sure I had read & reviewed this already, I figured a few of the incidents were really familiar.

So, whether I've already read this or not, I'll review it (again).

This is the fictionalized account of Elizabeth I's childhood & ascension to the throne.

Alison Weir, wow what an imagination that women has, especially in light of the fact that she also writes non-fiction about the Tudors.  What I believe is that she should instead write Romance novels, because this read like one.

The book begins w/ Elizabeth as a 2-yr old embroidering... Oh yes!  Then at three doing some other amazing feat (it might have been another language).....  But whatever it was, can you say "Savant"?

Later when she is first introduced to Katherine Parr's household and gets sight of Seymour in an illicit embrace w/ Katherine, she gets so wet & excited herself she begins her menses! Seriously?

So if you can ignore the b.s. and ridiculous sappy romantic parts, you might like this book. But I will tell you, it is nothing you haven't read already.

I finished this book, because I was sick in bed and didn't want to get up and go look for another.
Image result for i'll never write my memoirs

I'll Never Write My Memoirs, Grace Jones

As much as I love her music, I believe she should have stuck with her original intent of not writing her memoirs......

YAWN....  The first 2 pages are just the same words over & over & over again........ and it was Bor-ring!

She grew up in Jamaica, a poor but very religious family....  Raised by her Grandmother & her grandmother's much younger (abusive) husband with her brothers & sisters, while her parents moved to America for work.

There was too much minute detail about her family's lives that I preferred to skip over......

Her tone was light and positive, but repetitive......

She gained fame as a model and moved into music & films (most notably 007)..... Spent a lot of time in N.Y. @ Studio  54 w/ all the elite and partied hardy.....
Image result for mischief in mudbug

Mischief in Mudbug, Jana DeLeon 

Honestly? I had no freaking idea what the hell was going on here.

Seriously: there is Maryse's Ghost Bitch Mother-In-Law, Helena (who might have been murdered), and Maryse's best friend, Sabine can sometimes hear Helena & sometimes can see Helena as well.

So then, Sabine runs the local "Psychic Shop", but she isn't psychic to save her life... However, her "mentor" Raissa is!

Sabine has some type of cancer, so Helena and Raissa come up w/ a composite drawing of Sabine's parents and then some PI is hired.....  and of course he & Sabine fall hot & heavy in love...

They go looking for Sabine's "real" family  so she might have a bone marrow transplant... and there are some really RICH people  who turn out to be related to Sabine, but they are Freakin' nutcakes & murderers......

Yadda, yadda, yadda......  Does the word "Convoluted" mean anything to you....

Simply stated: There was too much going on. There were too many amazing coincidences. There was too much disconnection and rambling and I was too often confused.

This was poorly written, as the author had too much going on and there was an obvious struggle to make it all  come to a satisfying conclusion.

...and the Biggest Loser  (ONE STAR ★) Is:

Image result for the marvels selznickThe Marvels, Brian Selznick

The book begins with 389 +/- pages of pencil drawings, that are not even good drawings, mostly monochromatic & mono-valuation.  They apparently tell the story of the Marvel family from 1766 up until the written portion of the book on page 392 that begins in 1990 and ends on page 603 and then takes up with drawings again on 604-647 for the conclusion.

All centering around two brothers on a ship called the Kracken and their little white terrier "Tar".....  The family somehow gets into the Theater & succeeding generations follow all suffering from loss & tragedy, linked to the shipwreck of the Kracken.

I didn't get through the last 300+ pages, it was written in a manner meant to confuse (and irritate) as the writing was terse with the main character caught up in the harshness, anger & insanity of his Uncle.......

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