Lagniappe Literature

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Malevolent
Jana Deleon
Malevolent (Shaye Archer Series) (Volume 1) by Jana DeLeon (2015-07-07)
Jana Deleon
Progress: 39 %
The Jolly Coroner: A Picaresque Novel
Quentin Canterel
Progress: 50/368 pages
The Lost Heiress (Ladies of the Manor)
Roseanna M. White
Progress: 145/448 minutes
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Clean Sweep ARC Challenhe

A Heart-Pounder

Malevolent (Shaye Archer Series) (Volume 1) by Jana DeLeon (2015-07-07) - Jana Deleon

I always enjoy DeLeon's stories but I've only ever read her cozy mysteries. This is the first book in the Shaye Archer series and it's anything but cozy. Its down right frightening. I'm a victim/survivor of years of frustrating, terrifying, abusive stalking and harassment. Emma's story hits home hard but it was Shaye Archer's mysterious past that initially drew me in. Discovered wandering the French Quarter bloodied, bruised, and incoherent, an unidentified teenaged girl becomes a puzzling mystery to New Orleans police and a prominent social worker. The young girl is completely void of memory and NOPD is unable to identify her. Doctors estimate the girl's age to be fifteen or so. With no name, memory, or identification, the girl's past is erased and Shaye Archer is born. 

 

Seriously, so very good. So far, at least. I've never known Jana DeLeon to disappoint.

LAGNIAPPE by Brian W. Smith

Lagniappe - a novella - Brian W. Smith
Four army buddies reunite in New Orleans.

After years of separation, a group of men gather for fun and catch up on old times. The guys have a great time but time has a way of changing some. All is not as it seems and no one will leave New Orleans the same as they arrived.

I was kind of worried when I reached the half way point and very little had transpired. I mean, as expected, the guys were having a great time but I was beginning to question my need to read further. However, things suddenly took an interesting turn and I found myself reading faster. Smith takes his sweet time building up the story. Once there, oh my! Really packs a punch to the gut. Worth the quick read.

FYI: The oyster's at Acme Oyster House AND Drago's really are that good. Always a must when in New Orleans.
 
 Charbroiled oysters at Drago's are better than good.

 

PROMISED TO THE CROWN (Daughters of New France, Book One)

Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France) - Aimie K Runyan

1667

 

Louis XIV's colony in Canada needs women.

Surrounded by the British, the King needs to tie his settlers to the land with farms, wives, and children to defend in the event their enemies should invade.

 

The King's ministers advised a plan by which young, strong women of good character would be sent at the King's expense to wed the soldiers, farmers, artisans, and fur trappers who popluate the colony.

 

History would remember them as the King's Daughters and the Daughters of New France.

 

History doesn't have to be boring and Runyan has proved that point. As I read PROMISED TO THE CROWN I couldn't help wondering why my history classes mentioned nothing of these brave women, women who left behind families and traded their familiar homeland for months aboard a dirty ship and a treacherous voyage across the Atlantic, only to arrive in a frozen land with the intention of marrying a complete stranger. It takes a brave woman to head in this unknown destination. Runyan delivers an absorbing saga of three young and very different women. Aimie K. Runyan's fifteen years of French and Francophone Studies pays off as she delivers a story that is historical fiction at it's finest. Beginning in France and ending in New France, PROMISED TO THE CROWN is filled with heart and adventure, bringing the courageous Daughters of France to life once again. I was enraptured with the incredible journey of Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth. This novel has earned its top spot in my all time favorites and Best Books of 2016. Word for word perfection. Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!!

 

Readers are rewarded at the end of this book with an exciting sneak peek of Aimie K. Runyan's next novel DUTY TO THE CROWN, Book Two in the Daughters of New France series which is set for release in November 2016 by Kensington Publishing.

 

 

 

For more info on Aimie, find her on her website www.aimiekrunyan.com and Twitter @aimiekrunyan.

 

 

 

*I was provided with a copy by the author through the 2016 Around the World blog tour. Opinions are my own and uninfluenced.

 

 

 

PRINCESS ZARA = DNF

Princess Zara (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press) - Ross Beeckman

I'm sorry, classic book. I just can't read another boring word. I'm DNF'ing this one before I poke my eyes out. I should've been able to stick it out. At only 166 pages, this isn't a long story. The one thing it isn't short on...BOREDOM. It's official. I've DNF'ed my first book of the year. 

 

 

 

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES ( DAUGHTER'S OF LA LUNE, Book Two)

The Secret Language of Stones: A Novel (The Daughters of La Lune) - M.J. Rose

A beautiful story that revolves around another daughter of the sixteenth century witch, La Lune. This young woman, Opaline Duplessi, is the actual child of Sandrine. For those of you familiar with The Witch of Painted Sorrows, you'll remember the lovely Sandrine, the young woman who became the vessel for the sixteenth century witch. Opaline's story and introduction to the dark arts is just as interesting as her mother's mystical journey. However, where Sandrine welcomed the powers she inherits, Opaline does her best to avoid the magick that flows through her blood.

 

Rose's latest offering takes place twenty four years after Sandrine's initial encounter with La Lune. Like her mother did years before, Opaline runs away to Paris in order to escape her mother's dark influence. Still, Opaline doesn't escape her magical abilities and finds herself making talisman for the mothers, wives, sisters, and lovers of fallen soldiers of WWI. She has the ability to translate a message from the deceased to a loved one through these talisman which are created with a strand of hair, gold, precious gems and stones.

 

The story here is wonderful and touching. I almost felt as if I was in Paris during WWI. Rose did an incredible job of setting the scene and making this time period come alive. My only complaint? While I'm certainly not a prude and I can withstand some erotica in my reads, the creepy ghost relationship was a bit much. Just sayin'. I've actually encountered an entity before. (YES! I'M SERIOUS!!)That he was in my house was one thing. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for him to physically touch me!!!! Then again, we didn't quite get along...not even a little bit. He wasn't exactly as friendly as Opaline's visitor was. Anyway, without spoiling anything, that's why this doesn't get the hole five stars. It would have though. I wasn't sold on all of that and it didn't add anything to the story, IMO. What I did love? The Romanov connection. Great intrigue! Overall, another winner from M.J. Rose and the daughters of La Lune. Hope there's another in the works. I even liked this one better than the first. Good stuff.

THE DEVIL IN CANAAN PARISH by Jackie Shemwell

The Devil in Canaan Parish by Jackie Shemwell (2015-10-21) - Jackie Shemwell

Vieux Diable

 

Wow! Just wow!!

I happened to find this dark and sinister read while browsing Amazon. (It was FREE at the time of download.) What a great find this was! I'd have gladly paid for this eBook. As a proud Louisianian, I enjoy reading southern fiction and stories that take place in the heart of Cajun country. Being familiar with a setting can really bring a story to life. It was very easy to imagine the players here in Canaan Parish. Overall, fantastic setting, a slow buildup to an explosive ending. Gave me chills.

Flight Patterns by Karen White

Flight Patterns - Karen White

Let me start by saying, I fell in love with the setting and theme of this story. Honeybees are fascinating little creatures and I've always been charmed by items designed with a bee motif. I thought White's use of the bee's flight pattern and habits of nature was a clever way to describe a woman's return to her family - kind of like a return to the hive. Each chapter begins with a bit of Bee 101 and it compares well to the storyline. I learned so many interesting facts about bees while reading this book. (Hope this doesn't start me on a bee collection frenzy. Seriously, I really don't need another hobby or collection.) The location setting was another great tug at my heartstrings. I love reading books that take place in familiar locations. It's very easy to identify with a character on neutral territory, even better when it's one of my happy places. In this instance, two of my happy places: New Orleans and the Florida Gulf Coast. It was as if Karen White had a list of all my favorite things and wrote a story that revolved around them. The icing on the cake was, of course, the storyline that has a family trying to trace the history of what could be a rare and valuable bee-patterned Limoges china set. The search begins in New Orleans when a man from New York enlists the help of Georgia Sawyers, a well respected antiques consultant, knowledgeable in most things antique. I love antiques! I've spent many weekends in many antique shops. It's one hobby I'll never give up. My grandparents, mother, and aunts trained me well when it comes to all things antique. Some of my youngest, fondest memories revolve around antiques and flea markets. Both my grandmother and mother enjoyed collecting various pieces of china. I, myself, have a terrible weakness for sugar and creamer sets. Once I realized where White intended to take this story I was completely hooked. Antique pieces, especially those passed down from generation to generation, tell a story, each having their own unique history. White uses a set of china to tell a families history and the bee's patterns are a unique connection that ties everything together. An intriguing tale. Truly.

 

Now, let's move on to what I didn't like about this book, shall we? There's a lot going on in Flight Patterns. The story started out fantastic. Right out of the gate awesome. Then, as I got closer to the halfway point, I thought, Ok. Enough already. Because the characters are trying to trace the history of the china, the past of the characters involved is revealed. Old hurts and misdeeds of each are revisited. Over and over. The characters of this book are all holding on to the past like it's all they've got. I mean, this is a family in crisis and no one's talking and addressing the issues but everyone's looking for a missing piece of china. I wasn't buying some of it, especially when White added another visiting, meddling sibling to the mix. I realize WHY this character was added but it just seemed unnecessary and highly improbable. However, as fiction goes, there are lots of improbable plots so I eventually rolled with it. Didn't like it but I got my head around it. Next, without giving anything away, I found the plot twists to be farfetched. Then, it seemed like some of the major twists were conveniently explained away or not explained enough. After a while, I was just ready to wrap it up. By this point, the book was beginning to depress me. This family was in so much turmoil that I wondered how they'd ever be able to move past all of the secrets and mistrust. In reality, several of these characters would end up in therapy. For years! But, again, fiction is fiction and everyone likes a happy, tidy ending. Right?

 

Here's the deal, I did like this book. Had it's moments...it's very great moments. I would probably recommend it to friends and family. It's entertaining. I often judge a book by what I can take away from it, what I actually get out of the story. I have a new found respect for bees and Limoges patterns. While I'm certainly not taking any familial cues from this group, the overall message is decent. It's always good when one finds their way back to the heart of the hive.

 

Final verdict: three and a half buzz-worthy stars, only because it left me feeling a bit depressed.

 

 

 

 

*I won an ARC of Flight Patterns through a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for sponsoring the giveaway and providing me with a copy.

 

Bees protecting their queen.

 

How I imagined the family home in Apalachicola. Even has the turret & this old home is not far from Apalach.

 

Back to the hive of Apalachicola. I could die happy here. Who's coming with me?!

A HOME IN HOPEFUL by Bette Lee Crosby (Wyattsville #2.5)

A Home in Hopeful - Bette Lee Crosby

I've been wanting to read Bette Lee Crosby's books for quite some time. Have several on my Kindle and Bette was kind enough to send me a copy of Spare Change. Well, now I can't wait to get started. I just finished reading this short-but-sweet prequel in the Wyattsville series, A Home In Hopeful, and I fell in love with the characters right away.

 

Canasta Jones is an old woman recalling her younger years growing up on her Mama's farm in Hopeful, though times weren't always hopeful for Canasta and her family. As Canasta reflects, we learn how Hopeful came to be and, if you're paying attention, we also learn the meaning behind the title for Crosby's book, Spare Change. Canasta is a continuing character and I can't wait to learn more about her. Delightful.

 

 

A Home in Hopeful is part of Crosby's Wyattsville series that consists of the following four and a half books: (Books link back to Goodreads)

 

Spare Change (Wyattsville, #1)

 

Jubilee's Journey (Wyattsville, #2)

 

A Home In Hopeful (Wyattsville, #2.5)

 

Passing through Perfect (Wyattsville, #3)

 

The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (Wyattsville, #4)

 

 


 
 I received A Home In Hopeful after signing up for Bette Lee Crosby's newsletter and blog. If you're interested in getting your own copy, you can visit Bette's website at http://betteleecrosby.com.

FLORA AND THE PEACOCKS by Molly Idle

Flora and the Peacocks - Molly Idle
Molly Idle has three Flora books: Flora and the Penguin, Flora and the Flamingo, and, finally, this beautifully illustrated book with interactive flaps. Each Flora book is wordless, which allows readers to make up their own stories, using the colorful pictures to guide young imaginations. This is my first Flora book and it's pretty as a peacock. I purchased this adorable picture book for my granddaughter, hoping to share my love of reading and fill her bookshelves with fun and inviting stories she'll love and want to read over and over. The illustrations are bright and sweet. Every little girl will fall in love with Flora and her friends. I'm a big girl and simply adore this book. I'll be adding the other Flora books, too.

WITCH MYTH: A Yew Hollow Cozy Mystery Book 0 by Alexandria Clarke

Witch Myth: A Yew Hollow Cozy Mystery- Book 0 - Alexandria Clarke

I've only recently discovered cozy mysteries and I really enjoy this fun genre. I joined a cozy mystery challenge on Goodreads and while searching for a new book, I ran across this FREE cozy on Amazon. While the story is short, it's a great introduction to a series that seems full of promise. I was initially intrigued by the protagonist's relationship to an ancient coven of witches. Who doesn't find witches fascinating? When I was young, one of my favorite television shows was BEWITCHED. I could've watched Samantha cast her spells all day long. Like Samantha, the main witch in this story just wants to live a normal life, away from magic and witchcraft. Morgan Summers can move to the ends of the world to escape her family of witches but it's impossible to run from the dead and the spirit world where the dead reside.

 

After an unsuccessful attempt to separate her identity from her family and start her own life in New York City, Morgan must return to her childhood home in Yew Hollow. Back in town, she's immediately engulfed in the mysterious murder of Yew Hollow's beloved historian and librarian. Being the first to discover the body, Morgan unwittingly becomes the prime suspect, especially after evidence at the crime scene points to witchcraft.

 

For the most part, I quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together but I DID enjoy the storyline. Would I classify this as a cozy mystery? Maybe not. IMO, it was lacking the humor I've come to expect in a cozy mystery. As I mentioned, this is the first book in the series (although it's labeled as Book 0) and I think the author did a nice job of introducing characters and the small town of Yew Hollow. Overall, entertaining and a nice start to a fun series.

 

 

 

*This series must be fairly new because there's only one more book to continue the Yew Hollow series and it shares the same title as Book 0 but is labeled Book 1. (Kind of confusing.) Just to be sure, I checked the synopsis for Witch Myth: A Yew Hollow Cozy Mystery Book 1 and it did offer a different storyline. 

HOOKED by Allen Wolf

Hooked - Michael Allen Wolf

I found this book on Goodreads and liked the synopsis. Eventually, the book was offered in a giveaway and I was fortunately chosen as a winner. Yay, me! The book-mail arrived quickly and I opened it up immediately, smiling like a happy kid when I noticed the book had been signed by Wolf, with a lovely inscription. Then I read the first couple of paragraphs and too quickly set it aside. Sometimes moods alter my reading experience because when I picked this same book up a week later I. Couldn't. Put. It. Down. Shawn, the story's autistic protagonist, stole my heart. His honest, unfiltered opinions made me laugh out loud. His search for Mrs. Right became my search. While Shawn's choice is surprising, it completely works here. A charming book.

 

Wolf has written a story with a strong message. Faith goes a long way. There's hope for everyone. And, like Wolf's inscription in the first few pages of my book,

"Love conquers

 all."

 

 

 

*I won a copy through a Goodreads giveaway and was provided an ARC by the author. I also received a DRC through NetGalley right before winning a physical copy. Thanks for both. 

The Art & Craft of Murder by Cozy Cat Parker

Cozy Mysteries: The Art & Craft of Murder (Whistler's Cove Cozy Mystery Series Book 1) - Cozy Cat Parker

In a small fishing village known as Whistler's Cove, Misty owns and operates her dream come true, a successful teahouse that caters to an artistic community. Every small village has that one popular hangout, a place for locals to mingle and gossip. Or commit murder. Unfortunately for the town meanie, Hillary Short, poison is today's teahouse special. The only question being asked is WHO served the deadly dish. Or in this case, tainted tomato juice.

 

This is a short introduction in a four book series that revolves around Whistler's Cove. A number of locals are introduced in the first book but none really stand out, other than the main character and teahouse owner, Misty Williams. She's a likeable lady and I enjoyed the teahouse setting. Seems like a quaint gathering spot in an artsy community. This novella took less than an hour to read. But, nothing really wowed me or endeared me to it's characters. Then again, I find it hard to critique a story that's under fifty pages. I totally appreciate an author that can set the scene, add suspense to a mystery, and quickly wrap it up in forty-eight pages. I've read plenty books that had less to say but tortured reader's minds for hundreds of unnecessary pages. The bottom line here is, while there was a fine mystery developing, I needed something more. Maybe a bit more humor that cozy mysteries are normally known for. I needed something that captured my imagination, that one thing that compels a reader on. I needed to be hooked, especially since the first book in a series is what catapults the reader to the next. I wanted that happy connection that just wasn't there. For that reason, I'm on the fence. Not bad but I'm not cozy. Should I investigate this mystery further or call it a wrap? Right now, that decision remains unsolved.

 

 

If you're interested in reading this easy cozy, it's available on Amazon for free.


Other books in the Whistler's Cove Mystery Series are:

 

(Book Two) Cozy Mysteries: A Well-Crafted Alibi
(Book Three) Cozy Mysteries: A Twist of the Craft Knife
(Book Four) Cozy Mysteries: Death at the Craft Fair

Reading progress update: I've read 102 out of 238 pages.

Hooked - Michael Allen Wolf

This book captured my heart unexpectedly. Shawn's innocence and lack of social filter has delivered some great laughs. Liking it a lot. =)

EVANGELINE by E.A. Gottschalk

Evangeline - E.A. Gottschalk

For starters, let me explain how I stumbled across this book, the complete opposite of my normal reading material. Pure accident. I was looking for EVANGELINE by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, that epic poem about French lovers that became Acadian legends . I've been wanting to purchase an old edition to add to my book collection. Needless to say, this EVANGELINE is nothing like Longfellow's poem. Not even close. That said, once I happened upon the title AND the author's name, well, I was curious. I'm from Louisiana and I enjoy reading books about Louisiana. I also try to support local authors and those around the state. For some reason, my mind was still trying to associate EVANGELINE with Louisiana and I glanced at the author's name. Gottschalk. I figured that was some kind of spin on the last name we Louisianians refer to as Godchaux. Pronunciation: GAWD-shaw. (Think Keith Godchaux, Grateful Dead.) Again, this book has zero to do with Longfellow, Louisiana, or Godchaux. Short story long, at this point, I'd already delved far enough into the title, the book, and E.A. Gottschalk that I figured, why the hell not? I was also in a very dark mood the evening I ran across this sinister story so I just went with it. Every now and then I hop off the beaten path and discover I do enjoy walking in the dark every now and then. I remember when I was a kid and loved hearing ghost stories. It was fun being scared silly, right?! Heart beating fast, eyes wide in terror, that scream right below the surface because you know something's getting ready to happen. Yeah. That! Now, keep in mind, there are several kinds of scared. One being the monster-alien scary and the other being the bad-guy-please-don't-kill-me kind of scary. That's just sheer fear. It's the worst kind of scary for me. Then there's the scared when one is doing something terribly wrong and although you know it's wrong, you pray you don't get caught. For me, this book was a mixture of the last two. If you're looking for a book to frighten you with ghosts and three headed devils, this is not that book. It is, however, a horrifying tale that filled me with anger, fear, and chills. Let me WARN you though, contains graphic language, disturbing sexual situations, and extreme violence. If you're a bit twisted, you shouldn't have any problems here.

 

We're all familiar with bullies. There are some sick ducks in our beautiful world. Bullies come in all shapes, colors, and size. Kids can be downright brutal to one another. The sickest bullies are those that take advantage of small children or the defenseless. Why? How does someone become a bully? Were they bullied? Are some people just born bad? If you're the one being bullied, how much could you take? When bullying crosses the line and turns into something entirely brutal and becomes unspeakably heinous, at what point does one say enough is enough? We know what can happen. That bullied, beaten down person can snap. There are those that commit suicide after enduring years of taunts and cruel punishment. Some become reclusive and withdraw from human interaction altogether. Then there's Angeline. Preyed upon since she was a child, she meekly accepts her lot in life. Angeline is mentally and sexually abused by her stepfather. Her mother is unstable. Kids at school tease Angeline and pick apart her looks. Bad things happen to this poor girl on a daily basis. But Angeline has a secret weapon. Someone is looking out for her and that someone is here to right some wrongs. Meet Evangeline. Things are about to get ugly. If Evangeline shows up at your door, odds are she's there to collect a debt. And, there will be hell to pay. Some have more to lose than other's. 

 

This is Book One of a five book series. Will I continue? Indeed I will.

 

JUNE by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

June: A Novel - Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

I was originally excited about this book. When I saw it offered on Blogging for Books I hip hipped hoorayed. Then I started reading. While it wasn't torture, I couldn't help feeling sluggish as I labored through chapter after chapter. First, I never made a connection with the character of Cassie. She takes the lead role in the present day portion of this sordid tale that reminded me of a  horribly acted soap opera. P.S.- I never cared for those things. Second, the present day storyline was extremely far fetched. Here's the quick version. Hollywood comes to town and the biggest star in the world, Tate Montgomery, who's married to the biggest rock star in the world, is moving in with a small town local. This local, Cassie, a complete stranger to said superstar, is a whack job. Doesn't bathe. Drippy, greasy hair and let's her historical mansion fall down around her. She's reclusive, ya know, so I guess she has to be weird. Whatever. Anywho, Hollywood moves in like no big deal and everything is suddenly magical. Dirty ole Cassie walks around star struck and snapping photos at odd intervals. Of course, Tate, America's sweetheart, is there for a reason. The majestic old home, Two Oaks, has a history (and apparently a mind of it's own) and Tate is there to get answers from Cassie, the clueless, irresponsible, selfish granddaughter of June Danvers, who lived in the  grand home during  it's heyday. The house has not forgotten the lovely June and somehow manages to share it's memories through dream sequences and whispers. Two Oaks longs for the days of the past, when people filled it's rooms and appreciated it's grandeur. It's here in the past where the real story lies. But June is gone and she left a mountain of questions behind, taking the secrets of the past with her. Tate's arrival will force Cassie to face responsibilities (maybe a bath) and piece together the intricate, delicate puzzle of June. *face plant here* 

 

I'm going to sum this up as simply as I can. JUNE, in my opinion, was filled with cliche after boring cliche and ridiculously convoluted. 

 

 

 

*I received a copy of this book for review from Blogging for Books. I received a DRC from NetGalley. Both copies greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 23%.

Princess Zara (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press) - Ross Beeckman

Was sitting in the car waiting for husband to return. Got bored and downloaded the Bluefire reader app on my iPhone. http://www.bluefirereader.com/ I promised myself I'd start reading more classics, adding one to my currents as often as possible. Guess my love for historical fiction drew me to this one. The cover, I guess. I'm not crazy about romantic stories but going to give this a shot, despite it's low ratings.