Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Last Breath (Morganville Vampires #11) by Rachel Caine

Emotional roller coaster.  That is how I would describe Last Breath by Rachel Caine.  Everything is going great. Humans and vampires are living in relative harmony in Morganville, but that never lasts long. Vampires start to disappear and there is a stranger in Morganville that only Claire can see. 

Fellow blogger Tessa and I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Caine at a book signing at our favorite indie bookstore Murder by the Book.  Rachel Caine was a lot of fun and answered questions and personalized every one's books.

No Humans Involved (Women of the Otherworld # 7) by Kelley Armstrong

The seventh book in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series focuses on Jamie Vegas.  Jamie is a necromancer but pays the bills with her day job as a psychic medium.  Wanting to get some exposure, Jaime joins two other spiritualist for a reality TV show.  The show is filmed in Marilyn Monroe's house to attempt to raise the dead actress's ghost.

Marilyn's house is haunted but not by the actress.  Jamie encounters strange entities in the garden she believes are children trapped between two planes. Jamie is determined to help these children and find out what happened to them and to prove her worth in the supernatural world.

In No Humans Involved we read about the relationship with Jamie and Jeremy and get a little better insight to Jamie.  She is very self-conscience and awkward and constantly looking for approval and reassurance. 

No Humans Involved has a pretty good storyline.  You get a better understanding of how non-supernaturals fit into the supernatural world.  There isn't a lot of action but enough to keep it interesting.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Night at the Circus

Hey There Reading Grove Followers,

I know, Tessa and I have been MIA for a few weeks but y'all know how it is.  One thing lead to another and before I knew it I had neglected the blog for 3 weeks.

Anyway, both Tessa and I were able to find the time to read Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Its a fabulous book but, I think its better for a potential reader to begin the book without any preconceived ideas so, I'm not going to give a review.  Just know that it has an original storyline with a beautifully written setting.

Tessa and I loved the book so much we decided to attend a signing at our favorite indie book store, Murder by the Book.  We had a wonderful time and learned that Night Circus has been optioned for a movie so be on the look out. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Upcoming: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Earlier this month Erin Morgenstern's highly-anticipated novel The Night Circus was released.  Thankfully, it appears that thus far Morgenstern's debut is living up to all the anticipation that has been building around this novel for months.  Among its accolades thus far, The Night Circus, is included on Amazon's Best Books of the Month list and is already #2 on The New York Times Best Seller's list.  I think part of its appeal is the variety it seems to offer readers.  Reviews range from those enthralled by the magical aspect of the book to those enticed by its mystery and romance.  Overall, it seems the common ground is that Morgenstern has created a masterpiece that truly draws the reader into the story through her descriptive, narrative talents.  Suffice to say, those of us at The Reading Grove are very excited to enjoy this adventure ourselves.  We also have plans to attend a discussion with the author in October and look forward to sharing that experience with all of you, as well.  Stay tuned for the full review next month on The Reading Grove!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Poll: Favorite Genre?

Although The Reading Grove primarily shares reviews on books falling into the realms of Mystery or Sci-Fi/Fantasy, we do hold an appreciation for literature from a variety of categories.  That got us thinking, what is your favorite genre of book?  Take our poll at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Angel Crawford has been dealt a bad hand in life. Her mother committed suicide and her father is a drunk.  And how does Angel cope?  By dropping out of high school and getting drunk and high herself. She is on a fast track to nowhere. Until she gets a second a zombie. 

Did you know zombies are the new vampires?  My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland is the first in the new series White Trash Zombie and is the first zombie book I have read.  It wasn't too gruesome and had lots of mystery.  Angel isn't a mindless flesh-eating machine, although, it seems to take her awhile to figure things out that are pretty apparent to the reader.  My Life as a White Trash Zombie is a good start to a new series and I can't wait for the next installment.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Sockett

The Help by Kathryn Sockett is told from the perspective of three women living in Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights movement.  These three women, two black maids and a white socialite, decide to write about their experiences being the help and being raised by the help. 

A friend asked me to read this book and after we both read it we would go watch the movie. I have to say this book is predictable and not very interesting.  It lacks dimension and  depth.  It starts very slow, somewhere in the middle it picks up, but ends on a very flat note. There are so many directions a book about racism and oppression can go but Kathryn Sockett stayed very benign.  Kathryn Sockett even has the nerve to compare one of the main characters to Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Denise Swanson's Scrumble River Series

Skye Denison has returned to the town of Scrumble River to serve as a school psychologist.  At one time, she escaped this small town to find a bigger and better life in the city.  That plan having fallen short, Skye finds herself back in a town where the red lights are few and far between and the gossip is always ripe for the picking.  Readers can easily relate to the difficulties Skye faces as she returns home and tries to make a new life for herself under the watchful eye of her parents and local townspeople.  Denise Swanson, the author of the Scrumble River series, has provided her main character (Skye) with a unique position to be involved in a number of fascinating mysteries.  Through her constant interaction with parents, kids, and the powers-that-be in Scrumble River, it becomes inevitable that Skye will play a role in any unseemly events that befall the town.  In addition to excellent story lines, Swanson also provides consistent character development throughout the series.  The first book leads the reader into an emotional roller coaster of sorts as Skye faces the barriers of small town politics during her efforts to help students.  Each book demonstrates the increasing impact that this dedicated school psychologist has on the citizenry of Scrumble River.  Suffice to say, this series is not just a one hit wonder by any means.  In fact, Ms. Swanson is working on book #15 in this likeable series.  If that's not proof of an author consistently keeping her readers happy, then I do not know what is! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ink Flamingos (A Tattoo Shop Mystery) by Karen E. Olson

Rather than summarize Ink Flamingos by Karen E. Olson (which co-blogger Tessa has already done here) I am just going to go right into my review.

Ink Flamingos has a great story line and Karen E. Olson does a fantastic job of keeping the reader in suspense. Brett’s emotional state in Ink Flamingos, as well as her confusion as to why she is being stalked is well written. I really enjoy this series. That was until I found out Ink Flamingos was the
last book in the Tattoo Shop Mystery series.

I first thought the rumor of the end of the series could not be true. A Tattoo Shop Mystery series is only four books long! Karen wouldn’t do that to me! So I frantically went to Karen Olson’s blog were she confirms the end of the series. When I read that she was “done with the series” frankly, I was
pissed.  How can she hook me with wonderful characters and imagery just to release me?  Karen, catch and release is cruel!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Karen E. Olson's Ink Flamingos (Tattoo Shop Mystery #4)

I just finished what I have learned is the final Tattoo Shop Mystery by Karen E. Olson.  Though this is certainly sad news to those of us here at The Reading Grove, the series certainly ended on a high note.  Brett Kavanaugh owns "The Painted Lady," an upscale tattoo shop in Las Vegas known for its custom ink.  In Ink Flamingos, Brett is pulled into yet another murder mystery.  This time the victim is one of her customers and the key suspect is a redhead tattoo artist, which happens to describe Brett.  Though the series is categorized as a "cozy" mystery, this book is certainly filled with very dark undertones.  It is a serious mystery with a lot at stake for one of my favorite main characters.  Someone is stalking Brett and trying to frame her for murder.  Olson does a great job with character development as the book progresses and the readers witnesses a normally strong main character begin to unravel as she loses more and more control over her life.  Thankfully the same cast of quirky characters that we have come to love in this series step in to keep her afloat until the mystery is solved.  Chief among them is fellow tattoo artist and former marine Jeff, who helps Brett keep a sense of humor during some rather stressful times.  Olson provides the readers to new insights into Brett's personal relationships, along with a special public service announcement of the dangers of absinthe.  Though not entirely unpredictable (there are enough lose ends to tie up that you could not anticipate every angle), this is by far my favorite of the four tattoo shop mysteries.  It made me all the more disappointed that readers now have to say goodbye to Brett and her friends at The Painted Lady.        

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost

The Night Huntress Series features Cat who is half vampire-half human.  She was born to a mother who was raped by a newly turned vampire.  Cat's sole purpose in life is to avenge her mother's rape and kill all those evil blood suckers.  On one of the nightly hunts for vampires Cat meets Bones.  Bones is a vampire bounty hunter and recruits Cat to help him bring down the unruly undead.

The Night Huntress Series was on my wish list for quite a long time. Boy was that a mistake.  I should have started this series a long time ago.  There are currently five books in this series, Halfway to the Grave, One Foot in the Grave, At Graves End, Destined for an Early Grave, and This Side of the Grave.  Once I started the series I couldn't put it down.  I was able to read one right after the other.  All the characters in the Night Huntress Series are brilliant.  There is even an appearance from Vlad the Impaler.  I am impatiently awaiting One Grave at a Time due out August 30, 2011. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Poll: Creature Feature

There are so many great authors currently writing urban fantasy novels and paranormal mysteries. Whether you are a fan of vampire, ghosts, or zombies, there is something for you gracing the shelves of every bookstore. A glimpse at popular television confirms this interest in creature features, with shows like True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and Teen Wolf. Our question is – What is your favorite creature featured in books? Take our poll at the bottom of the page.  Don’t see your fave supernatural being? Leave us a comment!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Favorites: Will Read for Food

There is something very fun about a book that gives you something to take away and use in your everyday life.  I don't mean mere advice on how to live your life to the fullest or how to become an amateur detective.  I am referring to books that provide the reader with gluttonous urges to run to the kitchen and test out an author's latest tempting treat.  Some of the greatest mysteries I have encountered answer this call by supplying the reader with recipes and ideas to try on their own.  In case you too wondered what reads might tempt you to wander into cozy culinary success, a few must-haves are listed below:

  • Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries, by Diane Mott Davidson
  • Coffeehouse Mysteries, by Cleo Coyle
  • A Mystery A La Mode Series, by Wendy Lyn Watson
  • Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, by Jenn McKinlay
Please let us know if there is a particular book or series that inspires you to take action (either in the kitchen or elsewhere)?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vision Impossible (Psychic Eye Mystery # 9) by Victoria Laurie

Abby Cooper is a civilian profiler for the FBI who uses her psychic abilities to help catch the bad guys.  In Vision Impossible Abby is recruited by the CIA to help recover highly classified military software that can capture an image of a persons aura.
Vision Impossible is the ninth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series.  Wow!  I can't believe its already been that many.  I love this series.  Vision Impossible doesn't showcase Abby's special skills very much but its packed with action.  I hope there are many more Psychic Eye Mysteries to come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Redux: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Diana Bishop is a historian of science.  Sounds boring, right?  Did I forget to mention she is also a witch?  Well, she's not a very good witch.  She has attempted to live her life as a human, not using any magic.  During her research Diana unknowingly request a bewitched alchemical manuscript at Oxford's Bodleian Library.  Wanting nothing to do with the magic Diana sends the manuscript back to the stacks.  But the fact that Diana summoned this long lost manuscript sends the underworld into a tizzy. Every creature wants their hands on it.

A Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy.  Co-blogger Tessa has also reviewed A Discovery of Witches (See Tessa's review).  I completely agree with her review.  This book grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go.  Its got a little bit of everything; witches, vampires, demons, romance, suspense, history.  You name its in there.  If you don't read this book you are missing out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls (Ghost Hunter Mystery #5) by Victoria Laurie

The next episode of Ghoul Getters, M.J.'s cable T.V. show, sends M.J. and crew to Dunlow Castle in Ireland.  Dunlow Castle is believed to hold hidden treasure that is guarded by a phantom. The phantom is said to make its victims see their worst nightmares and taunt them until it runs its victims off a cliff.  Gopher, Ghoul Getters producer, get separated from the group and is missing.  Is the phantom holding him captive or someone else?
Let me start by saying that I love the Ghost Hunter Mystery Series.  They give me goosebumps and have me looking over my shoulder when I read them. 

That being said, I was supremely disappointed in Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls.  It felt like a Scooby-Doo Mystery.  I didn't get the chills I usually do when I read a Ghost Hunter Mystery.  Gilley, M.J.'s sidekick, has become ridiculous and I kept waiting for M.J. to ask him if he wanted a Scooby Snack.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Acts of Violets (A Flower Shop Mystery #5) by Kate Collins

Snuggles the Clown is dead and Marco is the only suspect.  Marco is relying on Abby, owner of Bloomers Flower Shop, to find the real killer.  As much as Abby cares for Marco, can she really trust him?  Things in Marco's past surface and Abby wonders what else Marco is keeping from her.  A history with the victim?  Secret out of town house guests?  A SON?

And if Abby isn't stressed out enough, Mad Mo (Abby's mother) is at it again and you'll be knocked over by a feather when you read what she is crafting now.  

I liked Acts of Violets.  Kate Collins is quite witty and I always have a giggle when reading A Flower Shop Mystery.  Abby is solo for the most part on this case and being a competent female she makes quick work of finding the real killer.  Although Marco and Abby haven't actually verbalized their feelings for each other the relationship is progressing nicely.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires #4) by Chloe Neill

It is really, really difficult for me to write a review of Hard Bitten without spoilers but I'm going to try my best. 

Vampires and shifters have been outed to the general public.  Now its time to deal with the repercussions.  To make matters worse, a drug used by vampires is circulating the vampire houses that lowers their inhibitions making them aggressive and dangerous.  Merit needs to calm the natives, find out where the vampire drugs are coming from and decided what to do about Ethan. 

Ethan is the Master of Merit's house.  Their relationship has run hot and cold from the beginning.  As far as Merit is concerned the last time Ethan broke her heart was the last time.  But Ethan is persistent and Merit's resolve is wavering. 

Hard Bitten was excellent.  There was a twist at the end I was not expecting.  I can't wait to read Drink Deep due out November 1st to find out what happens next.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wendy Lyn Watson's A Parfait Murder

If there's one requirement I have for a cozy mystery...wait for's that it is cozy!  When I read fiction, I usually want an escape from the real world.  I like to know that the protagonist, at the end of it all, will still be that humorous, likeable character and ultimately be just fine.  That being said, I respect an author's desire to have serious moments for their characters in order to allow them more growth in the course of a series.  Wendy Lyn Watson reminded me that this can be done in the right way (even in a cozy mystery) in her 3rd Mystery A La Mode series, A Parfait Murder.  Serving up ice cream and southern charm, Tallulah "Tally" Jones becomes embroiled in another murder mystery, starring her cousin Bree as prime suspect.  Tally faces some difficult and personal revelations throughout the book, but remains a class act character throughout.  In Tally, Watson created a character filled with wit, wisdom, and compassion.  This makes her one of my favorite leading ladies and someone to root for until the end!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bite Club (The Morganville Vampires #10) by Rachel Caine

ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE??? A vampire run gym opens in Morganville and Shane can't wait to join for martial arts training.   But the more time Shane spends at the gym the weirder he acts.  When Clarie decides to go check things out she discovers that humans are pitted against vampires in mixed martial arts style fighting.  You would think with vampire strength humans would be no match but something isn't right.  Shane is unusually strong and very aggressive.  Is it roid-rage or something else?

Bite Club is not my favorite in the series.  While there is a lot of action and you get a better understanding of Shane it is still missing something.  This makes me sad because I don't think there are many books left in the series. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

I have to confess that I am not someone who jumps on the bandwagon of monster bestsellers.  I often find myself disappointed in some of those that get the most hype.  But, in some cases I am just plain wrong (don't get used to that statement).  A Discovery of Witches provided a unique and refreshing look into the world of witches and vampires.  Descended from a long line of powerful witches, Dr. Diana Bishop has rejected magic her whole life.  Instead, Dr. Bishop spent her life entrenched in academia, until one day her research uncovers a magical manuscript.  This discovery holds the potential to unlock answers that could completely disrupt the magical world.  Unfortunately for Bishop, every creature seems to realize what she has found and she finds herself unable to escape her magical identity any longer.  Luckily she seems to have a very powerful friend on her side by way of Matthew Clairmont.  The book is loaded with simple details that bring the story to life, right down to Clarimont's use of a classic Montblanc writing utensil.  Dr. Deborah Harkness did not just write another story about the supernatural; instead she created an intellectual powerhouse of a book.  A Discovery of Witches is historical, scientific, and fantastic.             

New Poll: Favorite TV Show Based on a Book Series

This weekend marks a very exciting occasion.  No, I do not think I will win the lottery or solve world peace.  My announcement is even bigger than that (insert eye roll here).  This weekend marks the start of Season Four of True Blood!  The show is based on the Sookie Stackhouse book series by Charlaine Harris.  This had me thinking, what is your favorite TV show that began as a book series?  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and take the poll to show us what you think.  Leave us a comment if your favorite is not on the list.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Broken (Women of the Otherworld #6) by Kelley Armstrong

Elena is going stir crazy. Why?  Her pack mates won't let her leave their sight.  Elena is the only known female werewolf and she is pregnant.  That can be dangerous in the supernatural world.

However, work must go on and she is needed to retrieve a letter that is believed to be written by Jack the Ripper.  The job seems easy and would provide a much needed distraction.  Who would have thought the letter contains a portal that releases zombies, cholera, typhus and possibly Jack the Ripper himself.  Anything that can go wrong does as the pack attempts to close the portal and set the city of Toronto right.

 Broken is not the best of the Women of the Otherworld series but still worth the read.    


Goodreads is a great website to organize books, read or publish reviews, and get book recommendations.  You can also follow your favorite authors to see what they are reading.

Upcoming: Vision Impossible by Victoria Laurie

I have very few addictions in my life beyond coffee.  But, let's face it, I am addicted to all books by Victoria Laurie.  On July 8th, I will have a reason to check back into rehab, because Ms. Laurie is back with the 9th Psychic Eye Mystery, Vision Impossible!  Psychic Abby Cooper is one of the most likeable characters out there and apparently modeled after the author herself who used to be a professional psychic.  With laugh out loud humor and edge of your seat mystery, the Psychic Eye series is a classic in the making. (Readers who like a little dash of scary in their books, check out her Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  But, be forewarned, they might have you checking over your shoulder while you read and leaving a light on when you sleep!)

The Cassandra Palmer Series by Karen Chance

Mages, Vampires, Clairvoyants - Oh My!  In quick succession this year, I have knocked out the first three books in Karen Chance's fast-paced fantasy series starring clairvoyant Cassandra Palmer.  Having spent her childhood living in the world of vampires Palmer finds herself in hiding from those who once protected her.  The first three books in the series, Touch the Dark, Claimed by Shadow, and Embrace the Night, focus on events surrounding Palmer's reentry into the supernatural community.  Her growing powers make her a target to...well, pretty much everyone.  With the help of war mages, fey, vampires, and even stars of Greek mythology, Ms. Chance welcomes her readers into a world where the possibilities seem endless.  Fans of Kim Harrison, Kelly Armstrong, Jeaniene Frost, and the early years of Laurell Hamilton will really enjoy this series.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Upcoming: Coffee Lovers Unite for Murder by Mocha!

It is hard to believe that Murder by Mocha will represent the 10th book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle.  Main character Clare Cosi runs the historic New York coffee shop, Village Blend.  Suffice to say, mayhem and mystery ensues.  But, not without a great cup of coffee and a side of homemade baked goods.  As you can imagine, it is another one of my favorite series.  Check out the virtual Village Blend for free book downloads and recipes: by Mocha is set for release on August 2, 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Driven to Ink: A Tattoo Shop Mystery #3 by Karen Olsen

Brett Kavanaugh is a tattooist and owner of the up-scale tattoo shop, The Painted Lady, in Las Vegas. Brett loans her Mustang Bullitt to a friend for her wedding day at a drive through chapel that specializes in Dean Martin impersonators. When the Mustang is returned Brett finds a dead Dean Martin in the trunk with a clip cord from a tattoo machine wrapped around his neck. To make matters worse, the bride and groom are no where to be found.
Driven to Ink is the third installment of the wonderfully written Tattoo Shop Mystery. Brett Kavanaugh is a strong female character who lets her curiosity get the best of her. While her sidekicks are male she can still hold her own. However, we get a peak at Brett's softer side in Driven to Ink.
I have never been to Las Vegas, but when I read a Tattoo Shop Mystery I feel like it's my hometown. Karen Olsen does a great job of describing not only the strip but the suburbs and surrounding areas. That being said, there is not so much description that you are bogged down in imagery.
Driven to Ink has lots of twists and turns that make is difficult to figure out "who dunit" and why.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Contact Us

If you would like to contact the ladies of The Reading Grove you can do so at the following email address:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome to The Reading Grove

The Ladies of The Reading Grove are happy to welcome you to a new blog by avid readers who are hoping to share their best and brightest recommendations on what to enjoy this summer!