Posts Tagged ‘quick read’

Fudge Cupcake Murder

June 7, 2010

Fudge Cupcake Murder bookcover

Author: Joanne Fluke

Title: Fudge Cupcake Murder

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 305

Geographical Setting: Lake Eden, Minnesota

Time Period: Current

Series: 5th in the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series

Plot Summary: Bakery owner and amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen is back for her fifth installment with some puzzles to solve. On her to do list: Get pet cat Moshie to swallow vitamins and/or tolerate senior kitty food, discover the secret ingredient in the late Mrs. Keoster’s fudge cupcakes, and negotiate her torn love life amongst the prying eyes of her judgmental mother and very pregnant sister, not to mention the rest of the small-town. Things in Lake Eden are running as smoothly as can be expected with the election for town sheriff approaching. Hannah’s brother-in-law, Bill, is favored to win against incumbent Sheriff Grant. That is, until Hannah discovers the body of Sheriff Grant in a dumpster behind the high school where she is teaching her cooking class. Bill is named the prime suspect in the investigation, but it turns out that Sheriff Grant had a long list of enemies. In order to clear her brother in law’s name Hannah must prove his innocence and find the real killer!

Subject Headings: Women detectives, Police, Murder, Hannah, Bakeries, Minnesota, Culinary mystery stories, Cozy mystery stories, Gentle Reads

Appeal: Lighthearted, domestic, sweet, recipes included, descriptive, tasty, quirky characters, homey, intimate, cozy, quick-read, series

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: light, small-town, culinary mystery

Titles in the Series:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (2000)

Strawberry Shortcake Murder (2001)

Blueberry Muffin Murder (2002)

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (2003)

Fudge Cupcake Murder (2004)

Sugar Cookie Murder (2004)

Peach Cobbler Murder (2005)

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (2006)

Key Lime Pie Murder (2007)

Similar Authors and Works:


  • Dewey: The Small-town Library Cat who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

This book traces the author’s discovery of a half-frozen kitten in the drop-box of her small community Iowa library, and the feline’s development into an affable library mascot whose intuitive nature prompted hundreds of abiding friendships.

Similarities: small town life, cat-lovers

  • Talking with my Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonny Wolf

The food commentator for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” journeys into the heartland of America to discuss those foods that we eat for holidays, family gatherings, comfort, and other occasions, with essays on great regional specialties and more than seventy recipes for such classic foods as popovers, Southwestern chili, shepherd’s pie, Irish raisin soda bread, and chicken la king.

Similarities: quintessentially American, lighthearted, food oriented

  • The lost night: a daughter’s search for the truth of her father’s murder by Rachel Howard

The bizarre small town murder of Stan Howard was never solved. Author Rachel coped by keeping silent and trying to pretend the murder had never happened. Now seventeen years later, she attempts to uncover what happened by reconnecting with her father’s family. Rachel sorts through their memories of his death and presses the less-than-helpful detectives, and seeks her former stepmother and stepbrother, neither of whom she has seen since her father’s funeral.

Similarities: small town murder mystery, female protagonist, family themes.


  • Chocolate Dipped Death by Sammi Carter

Candy shop owner Abby must use her sleuthing skills to solve the murder of a local girl turned millionaire trophy wife that occurred on the eve of the Tenth Annual Confectionery Competition

Similarities: Small town, confectioner turned amateur sleuth, recipes included

  • A Catered Halloween: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Cawford

“Hired to cater a charity haunted house at the old Peabody School, sisters Bernadette and Libby Simmons find murder on the menu when the death of wealthy socialite Amethyst Applegate could hold the key to solving the decades-old “accidental” death of a young girl.” (Novelist 2008)

Similarities: small-town, cozy culinary mystery with, sister relationship and Halloween season recipes.

  • The Chocolate Cupid Killings: a Chocoholic Mystery by JoAnna Carl

“Chocolatier Lee and her Aunt Nettie are suspected of involvement in the murder of private detective Derrick Valentine while trying to keep secret the identity of one of their employees.”  (Novelist 2009)

Similarities: cozy culinary mystery set in a small town, murder investigation revolving around a sweet shop, law enforcement officer murdered, and female detectives

Name: Amy

Kiss the Girls

May 26, 2010

May 26, 2010

Author:  James Patterson

Title:  Kiss the Girls

Genre:  Fiction – Adrenaline

Publication Date:  1995

Geographical Setting:  South Carolina and San Francisco, CA

Time Period:  1990s

Series:  Alex Cross

Plot Summary:

“Casanova” is kidnapping, torturing, and killing young coeds from South Carolina to Florida, while another killer known as “the Gentleman Caller” with a similar m.o. is claiming victims on the West Coast.  At first, the authorities believe them to be one and the same person operating on both coasts.  It turns out that there are, in fact, two separate murderers and there is a bond of some kind between the two – they are long-time friends who share their warped fantasies with each other.  Psychologist / detective, Alex Cross is assigned to the case when a young woman’s body is found bound and mutilated.  He becomes personally involved with both killers when his niece turns up missing from Duke University.  The evidence indicates that Casanova has kidnapped her.  Cross’s niece has become part of Casanova’s collection of beautiful, intelligent, talented young women.  They have been kidnapped and hidden in underground chambers for Casanova’s personal use, so he can fulfill his secret fantasy.  When he tires of one, becomes disappointed in her, or if she breaks one of his rules, he tortures then kills her.  Naomi (Cross’s niece) realizes that she is not alone in the underground chamber and figures out a way to communicate with the other victims.  Casanova is able to move among the authorities as one of them.  He knows how to cover his tracks and expertly does so.  Cross races against time as he puts the pieces of the “puzzle” together to rescue his niece and the other women before it’s too late.

Subject Headings:  Mystery & Detective Stories, Police Procedural, and Serial Killers

Appeal Terms:  dramatic, violent, fast paced, dark, unsettling, tense, compelling, dangerous, exciting,

chilling, quick-read, psychotic.

Three terms that best describe this book:  dark, suspenseful, and fast paced.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell portrays M.E. Kay Scarpetta dealing with an elusive serial killer.

The Broker by John Grisham is fast-paced and engrossing with a political power broker becoming the object of a CIA plot to see who will assassinate him first.

The Judgment by William J. Coughlin involves a serial killer, political corruption, and a corrupt police chief who is being framed for a crime he didn’t commit by the more-corrupt mayor.

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Last Victim:  A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer by Jason Moss and Jeffrey Kottler contains memoirs resulting from interviews with real serial killers.

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith retells the story of the well-known killer in the San Francisco area during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Nightmare in Wichita by Robert Beattie gives an inside look at the 36-year hunt for the bind-torture-kill murderer.

Tags:  Serial Killers, Suspense, Police Procedural, fast-paced.

Swapping Lives

October 21, 2009

Author: Green, Jane

Title: Swapping Lives

Genre: Chick Lit/Audiobook

Publication Date: 2005

Geographical Setting: Highfield, Connecticut & London

Time Period: present day

Series: no

Plot Summary: Vicky Townsley is a 35-year-old editor at a popular women’s magazine in London who is convinced that her real life can only begin once she is married with children. But first she needs to find a man who is ready for commitment. Amber Winslow is a wealthy wife and mother in Connecticut with a mansion, a gardener, and a full-time nanny. She loves her husband and children but feels as though her life has become a meaningless competition. When Amber and Vicky trade lives for a month as part of a magazine contest, both women get a chance to live the life they think they want. But both women come to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

This audiobook, narrated by British actress Rosalyn Landor using many different voices and accents, features plenty of dialogue, a contemporary plot that is character-centered but engaging, and an intriguing concept of switching lives. Although the two main characters seem perfect on the outside, the author relates their inner struggles in detail. Secondary characters are easily recognizable but fun: the supportive friend, the ladies man boyfriend, the catty “friends” at the fundraisers. The settings—both London and a wealthy suburb in Connecticut—provide a peek at glamorous jobs and lifestyles, with plenty of descriptions of fabulous homes and designer fashions. The dialogue and plot get a bit racy at times, with plenty of talk of “shagging” and some strong language. Despite the sometimes melodramatic introspective musings of the two main characters, this book is basically a light read, with a happy ending for all involved.

Appeal Terms: humorous, romantic, chick lit, detailed, inner dialogue, glamorous, motherhood, relationships, light read, self discovery, British customs, romance, happy ending, Connecticut, London, marital problems, fresh starts, suburban, quick read, role reversal, identity crisis, fashion-centered, familiar characters, introspective, multiple points of view, sympathetic, character-centered, domestic, multiple plot lines, racy, rich and famous, strong language, contemporary, emotionally charged, melodramatic

Subject Headings: women’s magazines (fiction), London (fiction), role reversal (fiction), housewives (fiction), Connecticut (fiction), women and dating (fiction), marriage (fiction), suburban living (fiction), motherhood (fiction), identity

Three Terms that Best Describe the Book: glamorous, identity crisis, character-centered

Three Nonfiction Titles:

The Handbag: An Illustrated History by Caroline Cox
– Examines the history of handbag design within the context of changing society and women’s roles in it

Little Black Book of London by Vesna Neskow
– This travel guide features insider recommendations and full-color neighborhood maps that pinpoint landmarks, museums, entertainment, pubs, clubs, and hotels in London

Queen Bees & Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman
– The characters in Swapping Lives could learn a few things from this book about cliques and social climbing girls

Three Fiction Titles:

Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes
– Depicts the lives of three women in the fashion magazine industry, exploring the trials and tribulations as well as the happiness and joy of true friends in the fast-paced world of love and career.

I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson
– Kate Reddy, a hedge fund manager and mother of two, struggles to juggle her professional and personal lives and to balance work and home.

Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
– A celebrity gossip reporter turned suburban Connecticut housewife sets out to solve the mystery of a super mom found dead on the floor of kitchen in this light mystery.

The House on Mango Street

April 15, 2009

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Title: The House on Mango Street

Genre: Latino/a, Hispanic, Best Sellers, Short Stories

Publication Date: 1994 (original publication date 1984)

Number of Pages: 134

Geographical Setting: A poor Latino neighborhood in Chicago

Time Period: Contemporary / early 1980’s

Plot Summary: A Mexican-American girl recalls the year she moved to Mango Street. A poignant coming-of-age story, 12-year-old Esperanza struggles to find a place in her community and in the world. Through a series of short vignettes, she recounts stories about people in her community and her family. As Esperanza begins to dream of living a life different than the one possible on Mango Street and of escaping the poverty and limitations of Mango Street, will she be able learn to accept herself and her heritage?

Subject Headings: City Life; Identity; Home; Friendship; Family relationships; Growing up — Chicago; Mexican-American girls — Chicago; Mexican-Americans; Chicago, Illinois; Coming-of-age stories; Short stories; Bildungsromans.

Appeal: poetic, literary, coming-of-age, evocative, poignant, quick read, urban, first-person, hopeful, intimate, strong sense of place, impressionistic, powerful imagery, accessible, short and vivid tales, episodic, precise prose, unforgettable characters, details of a young Latina growing up in a rundown Chicago neighborhood, Hispanic identity and culture, image-rich language.

Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Air Down Here: True Tales from a South Bronx Boyhood by Gil C. Alicea, with Carmine DeSena (collection of reminiscences, teen viewpoint, urban Hispanic neighborhood, optimistic viewpoint, details of inner-city life).

Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul: Celebrating La Comunidad Latina compiled by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Susan C. Sánchez (inspirational stories, details of Latina culture, details of Latina identity, details of Latino family life and community).

City of Dreams by Wilfredo Cruz (details of Latino immigration to Chicago, details of Mexican-American culture and neighborhoods in Chicago).

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (episodic, sisters move from Dominican Republic to New York City, challenges in adapting to American culture and reconciling cultures, family life, cultural expectations, adjustments to another culture).

How to Be a Chicana Role Model by Michele M. Serros (episodic, narrated by teen Chicana writer , cultural identity and expectations, female identity, finding one’s true identity, urban).

I Sailed with Magellan by Stuart Dybek (immigrant view point, dreams of a better life, coming of age, details of Chicago, poetic, realistic, interlocking stories).

Name: Amy


February 18, 2009

Author: Ken Follett
Title: Whiteout
Genre: Thriller
Publication Date: 2004
Number of Pages: 400 pgs. (Large Type edition 623 pgs.)
Geographical Setting: Scotland
Time Period: Contemporary/2000’s
Series (If applicable): N/A
Plot Summary: Set in rural Scotland, Oxenford Laboratories is a small pharmaceutical research lab founded by Stanley Oxenford, inventor of an anti-viral vaccine. Toni Gallo, Security Director, discovers a security breach at Oxenford Laboratories after spot-checking a security log before leaving for Christmas break. Toni discovers an employee sympatric with animal rights activists stole a rabbit infected with Madoba–2, a variant of Ebola, intending on giving the rabbit the anti-viral vaccine to save its life. However, the rabbit bit the employee and we discover that this serum is not effective against Madoba-2 as the employee dies just after Toni gets to him. Toni notifies the police of the situation. The police leak the story to a tabloid journalist who sensationalizes the story. Toni and Stanley hold a press conference to control damage to the company. Stanley’s son Kit hears about the incident as he watches the TV news coverage of the press conference. Kit Oxenford had been planning to break into the lab that evening to steal the anti-viral serum in a scheme to get out of his massive illegal gambling debt. Less than a year ago Toni caught him stealing funds from the company and his brokenhearted father fired him. Kit justifies this scheme as payback, feeling his father deserves this. As evening falls, Christmas Eve finds the large Oxenford family gathering at their estate as an unexpected snowstorm brews. The storm complicates Kit’s plans to rob the laboratory but he feels he has no option but to continue with the robbery or to be killed for his debts by the mobsters. Therefore, he goes forward with the robbery plans in spite of the blizzard. As the robbery takes place, Kit discovers that instead of stealing the anti-viral serum, the criminals are stealing the virus itself from the lab. He realizes the deadly implications of the theft, but with no way out, he must continue to the landing strip where the buyers for the virus plan to meet them. The whiteout worsens, travel becomes impossible, and Kit and the criminals become stranded at his family’s compound. As family secrets and jealousy are revealed, the climax comes when many individuals come together, trapped by the storm and Kit must choose between himself and his family.
Subject Headings: Animal rights activists, Betrayal, Biological terrorism, Christmas, Competition, Crime and Criminals, Drug/ Pharmaceutical industry, Ex-policewomen, Family Problems, Family Relationships, Hazardous substances, Jealousy, Medicine, Redemption, Romance, Scientific Research, Scotland, Secrets, Security consultants, Stealing, Strong Heroine, Suspense, Terrorism, Television reporters, Vaccines, Viruses

Appeal: fast paced, page-turner, quick read, suspenseful, nail-biting, action-packed, complex plot twists, unexpected turns, rapidly changing situations, tense, plot-centered, dangerous, foreboding, atmospheric, resolved ending, recognizable characters, relatable characters, multiple plot lines, multiple viewpoints, cinematic, foreboding, atmospheric, underlying romantic tension, violence/threat of violence, revengeful, details of biosafety level 4 facilities, details of deadly viruses, details of security and biosecurity, contemporary

Similar Authors and Works (Non-Fiction): The Biology of Doom: America’s Secret Germ Warfare Project by Ed Regis (details of biohazards, details of deadly viruses, details of security and biosecurity, details of strategic responses by the FBI to biohazard threats since 9-11). The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston (details scientist who is developing a drug to destroy the smallpox virus, details of those who want to destroy all known stocks of the virus and those who want to keep some samples alive until a smallpox cure is found, written in a thriller style). Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Program in the World–Told from inside by the Inside by the Man Who Ran It by Ken Alibek (details of biohazards, details of details of deadly viruses, details of security and biosecurity, narrative written in a thriller style).

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffery Archer (theme of revenge complex story, multiple plot twists, disparate characters). Day of Absolution by John Gardner (fast-moving thriller, suspense, multiple plots, terrorism, and detection). Red Tide by G.M. Ford (release of chemical and biological weapons is threatened, the main character and police set out to find the terrorists before it’s too late, redemption, thriller, action packed).