Saturday, November 22, 2014

Review: Etta May's Worst Bad Luck Day by Ann B. Ross

The Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross is one I've always enjoyed.  In this volume, the author serves up a previously ancillary character and makes her the star.  In this audio version I received from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, the story rings clear, clean and very southern, but without the often insipid southern accent many readers find necessary to give the story authenticity.

Etta Mae is introduced to us by Miss Julia who tries very hard not to appear prejudiced against this "poor girl" who hasn't had all the right opportunities that life can dish out.  In fact, you can almost hear the phrase "poor white trash" bouncing through Miss Julia's head.

Etta Mae is trying to better herself.  To that end, she has become a certified home care provider and landed the plum job of caring for a very wealthy, but very sickly old gentlemen.  Visions of sugarplums (and dollar signs) dance through Etta Mae's head as she sets out to capitalize on her patient's obvious obsession to marry her while outsmarting the gentleman's grown son and daughter-in-law who are intent upon stashing him in a sterile old age facility well out of the reaches of Etta Mae.

The mad-cap shenanigans that befall all the players are almost over the top.  At times I thought I was reading an episode of Three Stooges meets Green Acres.  In the end, justice (of a sort) is done, and life goes on.

This is a pleasant, if zany, read that will help while away a pleasant weekend in the upcoming winter.

Many thanks to the publisher, Recorded Books for making this available.

Title: Etta Mae's Worst Bad Luck Day
Author: Ann B. Ross
Publisher: Recorded Books
Genre: southern fiction
Subject: getting rich quick
Setting: fictional town of Abbotsville NC
Series: Miss Julia
Source: review copy from the publisher

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: The Resistance Man by Martin Walker

I've been able to stay current with this one of my favorite series. Since France is one of the European countries where I've not traveled extensively and Walker's descriptions of the land, the landscape and the people impart an atmosphere of the area, I really enjoy the rural French setting.

Bruno Courrèges, the engaging Chief of Police of the small town of St. Denis, is still struggling with several romantic interests, but the author handles the conflicts without having Bruno come across as a Lothario, ladies' man, or in any way unpleasant.  He's just a friendly gentleman whose female acquaintances aren't always everything he'd like them to be.

Romance aside, this series offers not only mysteries, in this case murder and an ancient unsolved train robbery, but also gives the reader a charming history lesson.  The Resistance Man elucidates the often confusing story of various political and military factions that inhabited France during World War II, by reflecting the adventures of several elderly inhabitants of the town who served during that period. The story is further embellished with descriptions of delicious foods and the wines that accompany them.

The dust jacket tells us:
 A veteran of the Resistance dies, and among his possessions are documents that connect him to a notorious train robbery. A former British spymaster's estate is burglarized, the latest in a spree of expert thefts. An academic's home is broken into just as she is finishing a revelatory book on Frances nuclear weapons program. An antiques dealer is found brutally murdered, and his former lover, the number one suspect, is on the run. It's just another summer in St. Denis for Bruno, who must balance the constant barrage of demands on his time and expertise-including the complex affections of two powerful women, town politics (the mayor is having romantic problems of his own), his irrepressible puppy, Balzac, and nights entertaining friends and visitors with ever-sumptuous repasts-with a new focus on the mounting crime wave, whose seemingly unrelated events Bruno begins to suspect are linked.
This is an altogether charming series with plenty of meat on its bones.  At the end of episode 6, I'm now hoping that Bruno might soon find a more permanent relationship so we can watch as he turns his small farm into a burgeoning family homestead.

Title: The Resistance Man
Author: Martin Walker
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc (2014)
Genre: mystery, police procedural
Subject: murder, train robbery, history and politics
Setting: fictional village of St. Denis France
Series: Bruno Courrèges 
Source: public library

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: River of Darkness by Rennie Airth

Tutu has egg on her face with this one.   I listened to the audio of River of Darkness back in August, and have had the book on my "write review" list since then.  I have several notations indicating I liked the setting, found the mystery compelling, and the protagonist engaging.  But my memory of the exact details of the story has dimmed.  I suppose that means that I may want to listen to it again.  It is however, the first in a series that looks like it may be just what I like in mystery series, so I'm going to go after #2, and hope that my memory gets refreshed enough to continue.  In the meantime, here is the publisher's recap:

In rural England, in a landscape shadowed by the sorrow of World War I, the peace of a small Surrey village is shattered by a murderous attack, which leaves five butchered bodies and no motive for the killings. Sent by Scotland Yard to investigate is Inspector John Madden, a grave and good man who bears the emotional and physical scars from his own harrowing war experiences and from the tragic loss of his wife and child. The local police dismiss the slaughter as a robbery gone tragically awry, but Madden and his chief inspector detect the work of a madman.

With the help of a beautiful doctor who introduces Madden to the latest developments in forensic psychology and who opens his heart again to the possibility of love, Madden sets out to identify and capture the killer--a demented former soldier with a bloody past--even as he sets his sights on his next innocent victims.

As darkly stylish as the best of P. D. James, rippled with tension and resonant with historical atmosphere, River of Darkness marks the debut of a powerful new voice in suspense writing and of a compelling character whom readers will long to know better.
Title: River of Darkness
Author: Rennie airth
Publisher: W.F. Howes Ltd./Clipper Audio ; Prince Frederick, Md. : Distributed by Recorded Books, p2002, c1999.  
Genre: mystery
Subject: murder, police procedural
Setting: rural England, post WWI
Series: John Madden
Source: public library
Why did I read this book now? It caught my eye while browsing the library.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: Just One Damned Thing After Another

If you've been a Tutu reader for any length of time, you've probably noticed that time travel is not my normal cuppa.  In life, however, there are always exceptions.   JUST ONE THING AFTER ANOTHER was highly touted by several people in my reading group over on LibraryThing, and when it popped up as the Amazon Kindle freebie of the day, I thought I might as well see what all the hype was about.

It was certainly worth the marketing ploy, because now I want all the rest in this series.  It's light, it's humorous, it's got a little bit of something for everyone.

The author presents us with a delightful heroine who doesn't quite realize what she's gotten herself into, but who has the uncanny ability to hop back and forth in historic times, to perhaps "adjust" history.  She's cheeky, she's industrious, she's brilliant, and even if Jurassic park wasn't your thing, the dinosaurs in this one will change your mind.

Publisher says:
 Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting. Follow the catastrophe curve from eleventh-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake.

Now I just have to pace myself, because this series is one I'm going to have to have.   I even paid for the "Whispersync" audio version from Amazon since the ebook was free.   That recording made it even more fun. 

Definitely worth trying the first one - it's still showing as free.  But beware, you'll be hooked.

Title: Just One Damned Thing After Another
Author: Jodi Taylor
Publisher/format: Accent Press Ltd (2014), ebook 332 pages, audio: Audio Studios
Genre: fantasy, time travel
Subject: time travel to various historic eras
Setting: England
Series: The Chronicles of St. Mary's
Source: My own library
Why did I read this book now?  It was highly recommended by several readers I trust.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Finishing a beloved series

Whew!  It has been a busy autumn, but now that I'm finally back home in Maine and the air is definitely too chilly to sit outside and enjoy the view, so I have no excuse to keep me from catching up on blogging, reviewing, and yes - more reading!

Since I last posted any reviews,  I've finished 10 books, including the last three in the Duncan Kinkaid and Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie.  I was motivated to fill in the blanks I hadn't read after reviewing To Dwell in Darkness for the TLC Blog tour.  I've now completed that series, and can't wait for a new one to come out.  I'm not writing reviews because when I read a series one after the other, the story blends (as well it should) and the enjoyment is ruined for me if I have to sort out what happened when. 

Suffice it to say, all three of these were terrific reads.  I especially like how Crombie blends specific facets of London's neighborhoods and/or history to fashion a story.  Each book features the same characters, but the settings, and the criminals and their motivations are quite different.  She's exceptional at blending cold cases with new ones. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

We have a winner!

Deepest apologies to all my loyal readers and followers.  The recent Nor'easter that tore through Maine last week while we were visiting grandbabies left our area without power for several days.  When we returned earlier this week, our power was on, the heat was working, the cat was still speaking to us, BUT WE HAD NO INTERNET.

It is amazing how dependent we have become on that little work "connectivity".  We do have smartphones and were able to pick up email, and do some basic browsing, but anything requiring lots of typing was beyond the capabilities of the clumsy knarled fingers in this household.

So Tutu is quite tardy in announcing the lucky winner for Wiley Cash's newest tomeThis Dark Road to Mercy now out in paperback. has chosen an entry from


as our winner.   I have contacted her via email and she will have until 11: 59PM Sunday November 16th to get back to me with her mailing address.   Many thanks to all who stopped by.  I have tons of review opportunities stacked up and hope to get 2 or 3 a week posted between now and the end of the year.   This has been a year of incredible reading, and I'm anxious to share my thoughts with you.

Congratulations to Margie!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tutu's Newest Hobby

As many of you know, the title "Tutu" is actually the Hawaiian word for grandmother.

But living in Maine, Tutu doesn't get to see her grandchildren as often as some.

This past month we have been visiting our children and grandchildren here in the mid-Atlantic. The two darlings shown here have occupied a large chunk of our time, since the youngest darling Cameron Douglas just arrived two weeks ago. He weighed in at a whopping 9 lb, 6 oz, and yesterday at his 2 week checkup tipped the scales at 10 lbs. Big brother Adrian 4 1/2 (seen above) is taking good are of him and also keeping the 2 year old Australian blue heeler/Shibu Ino blend puppy occupied.  Our son and daughter-in-law  live in the Blue Ridge with very limited internet (and no TV!!) so my blogging opportunities have been severely limited.

We began our journey with a huge family reunion/90th birthday celebration for my mother in Baltimore two weeks ago. Over 65 family and friends came from as far away as Louisiana, Oregon and Texas to help her celebrate. It was a wonderful afternoon for all of us to get reacquainted with relatives we rarely see except for weddings and funerals.  Then we also attended Homecomig at the Naval Academy, visited several former neighbors and work associates before heading up here to the top of the mountain.

Of course while we've been gone, our little town in Maine was one of the hardest hit by the early snow storm this week. According to our fantastic neighbors who were looking after our cat, the house is safe, the cat is fine, but we did go almost three days without power, so I'm not sure about the state of our winter ice-cream stash we'd just put up.

Anyway, where this is leading is that while I've been doing some reading, I haven't been able to keep my eyes open to concentrate for any long period of time. Even my audio book listening has been severely limited. As soon as I plug my ears in, my brain seems to unplug and go to sleep. For the time being, I'm doing only Maine Readers Choice books, and a couple of LibraryThing Early Review books that I'm way overdue on for reviews.  I'm not sure I'll ever catch up....playing grandma is as much fun as reading!


Stay tuned though and I'll try to give you some thoughts on some of the excellent reading I have been able to finish. Enjoy your reading, your families, your friends, and whatever blessings you have received. We're all fortunate to have them in our lives and should never forget to be grateful.