Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Salon: Reviews And Highlights

Where, oh where does the time go? Hard to believe we’ve seen another week come and go, but here we are ready for Sunday Salon again.

Let me say first, Happy Easter to all who are observing the holiday and Happy Sunday to those who aren’t. When I think of Easter, I always think of family. The first two books I have to share with you are family-based. One is a personal memoir and the other is a fiction thriller. While the stories are completely unrelated, both authors (Jana Pryor and Lisa Scottoline) detail great examples of family strength in their work.

This is a brief story of Valerie Jane Pride and how Alzheimer’s overtook her life and effected the lives of her family. The story is by her granddaughter, Jana, who was her caregiver for the last 5 years of Jane’s life.

There are glimpses at what life was like for Jane growing up during the 1920s as a black woman, as well as some of what she faced after Equal Rights. The focus of the story is how Alzheimer’s slowly started taking over Jane’s life and how her family learned to cope.

While the writing style may not always be smooth and flowing, author Jana Pryor’s content is clear, precise and heart-warming as it breaks your heart. She shares a very real and clear picture of what those with Alzheimer’s and their families go through.

ALZHEIMER’S KILLING ME UNKNOWINGLY is a must read for anyone who has a family member or friend dealing with this disease. I would also recommend it to those who aren’t touched by this disease yet as to give them a better understanding when the first signs begin to appear.

There is no cure for this debilitating disease that leaves its victims in a world of their own and their family members helpless to do anything about it.

This is a loving tribute to a grandmother and a realistic look at what families face when confronted with this disease.

Alzheimer's Killing Me Unknowingly, Jane‘s Story by Jana Pryor, JDP Books, @2011, ISBN: 9780615426303, Paperback, 100 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - Having a family member in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, I requested this book and it was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The book did touch on issues that we have faced and pointed out others to come.

SAVE ME by Lisa Scottoline

SAVE ME is one of those books you want to put down, but can’t.

You want to put it down because you know bad things are going to happen to good people. The way in which the characters interact rings true for our everyday life. You can’t put it down because you have faith that in the end good will overcome evil. The protagonist gives you that hope and keeps you believing.

When her daughter, Melly, becomes the target of bullying at school, Rose McKenna volunteers to help out in the school’s lunchroom as a ‘lunch mom’ to keep an eye out for problems. Melly has a port wine birthmark on her check and has been the target for bullies since pre-school. Here at a new school, Rose had hoped things would be better. However, fellow student Amanda Gigot has already begun calling Melly ‘Spot the dog.’

Just as lunch is coming to an end, Rose sees Amanda put jelly on her check making fun of Melly. As Rose goes to confront her, Melly runs out of the lunchroom to a nearby bathroom. When Rose tries to talk to Amanda about her cruel remarks, it’s Rose who is disciplined by a fellow lunch mom for her actions toward the bully.

Before Rose has a chance to straighten the matter out, there’s an explosion in the kitchen and havoc ensues. With the fire raging out of control, Rose has only seconds to make a life-altering decision - save Amanda or find Melly and save her. Rose reacts the only way she can. She leads Amanda to the hallway and an open door, instructing her to follow the other students outside. Rose then races to find and save Melly.

First called a hero for saving her daughter, Rose is quickly labeled a villain when it’s learned Amanda never left the building and could die from her injuries. The situation escalates as Rose and her family face legal action, not to mention the harassment from the community. Determined to prove she acted in the best interest, Rose soon believes the explosion wasn’t an accident.

Author Lisa Scottoline takes readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions in this heart-wrenching thriller that deals with conspiracies, murder, hidden secrets, and a mother’s love. Though her actions sometimes may seem a bit unrealistic for a mom, it’s hard to say what one would really do until faced with the same circumstances.

SAVE ME is a fast pace read from the opening line until the end. It will hold you spellbound as you feel this mother’s anguish when faced with a life-threatening choice.

Author Lisa Scottoline’s website is

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin‘s Press, @2011, ISBN: 9780312380786, Hardcover, 384 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

On a bit of a lighter note, there are 2 cozy mysteries that were released this month I’d also like to highlight.
COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE by Virginia Lowell

Olivia Greyson is the proud owner of The Gingerbread House—a quaint shop that specializes in all things cookie—and her best friend, Maddie, is her sidekick, baking up scrumptious treats for their cookie-themed parties. But now they must take a break from baking and find a killer, or else their reputation—and quite possibly their lives—will be battered for good.

No one is more shocked than Olivia when prominent business owner Clarisse Chamberlain is found dead. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to open The Gingerbread House and she was one of her best customers. The sheriff is ready to call the case an accident, but Olivia’s convinced there’s a murder to solve.

Then word spreads that Clarisse left Olivia a large sum of money, along with a collection of valuable antique cookie cutters. Suddenly Olivia is the prime suspect and when the local postman falls ill after sampling one of their cookies, all eyes are on The Gingerbread House.

This is the first installment in the Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery series.

Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell, A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 9780425240670, Paperback, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my feature of this book.

SWEET REVENGE by Andrea Penrose

Deception with a dash of murder is a recipe for disaster...

England, 1813: Lady Arianna Hadley’s desire to discover her father’s murderer has found her acting the part of a French chef in one of London’s most aristocratic households. But when the Prince Regent is taken ill after consuming Arianna’s special chocolate dessert, she finds herself at the center of a scandal.

Because of his expertise in chocolate, the Earl of Saybrook, Alessandro de Quincy, is the ideal candidate to investigate this crime. When the Earl’s intuition leads to Arianna’s exposure, she convinces Saybrook to keep her secret in exchange for help in tracking down the real culprit.

As their search takes them from the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair to the slums of St. Giles, it becomes clear that someone is looking to plunge England into chaos—and Arianna and Saybrook to the bottom of the Thames...

This is the first installment in the Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series. Readers will also be delighted to find delicious chocolate recipes and trivia throughout the book, along with a sneak peak at the next Lady Arianna Regency Mystery coming in December.

Author Andrea Penrose’s website is

Sweet Revenge by Andrea Penrose, A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery, Obsidian, @2011, ISBN: 9780451233035, Paperback, 336 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my feature of this book.

What are you reading this week? Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Easter holiday.



  1. Mason - I wish you and your family a very happy Easter, too :-). And thanks for these reviews. I like the way you balance different kinds of books here. There's something for just about everyone :-).

  2. Happy Easter, Mason! Hope you enjoy the day with your family.

  3. Cookie Dough or Die sounds enticing!

  4. I have Save Me on my Kindle, and can't wait to read it! Scottoline has a wide range of books, doesn't she? I've even enjoyed her funny memoirs.

    The Gingerbread House sounds like my kind of place! What a title, though...Cookie Dough or Die.

    Happy Easter!


  5. Happy Easter, Mason! I can't wait to read Save Me - I'm a big Lisa Scottoline fan.

  6. Oh gosh - these sound like worthwhile - if heart-rending - reads.

  7. I like Lisa's books.
    I'm not sure I would be able to read the one on Alzheimer because too close to my father's condition.
    Very sensible spot.

    This week, I read Vicki Delany's Valley of the lost. Not a new release but a good book and I intend to track down her other ones.

    Have a Happy Easter and a good week

  8. Happy Easter to you!

    Cookie Dough or Die looks charming, but I really must read some of those on my TBR first.

  9. I hope you had a Happy Easter Mason. These reviews are awesome. That Lisa Scotteline novel sounds like a must read. I love her work.


  10. Happy Easter Mason! Hope you had a wonderful holiday!
    I have to tell my husband about the Alzheimer's book...we just lost his Dad to that awful, insidious disease this past November. My Grandfather had it years ago as well. It is a heartbreaking disease for everyone involved....

  11. I love the covers of Cookie Dough and Sweet Revenge - the way they look through a window. Makes you want to see what's going on outside.

  12. Happy Easter to you too. These all look like great reads. You know how much I love cozies, I'm curious about the one based during the Regency period. Georgette Heyer meets Agatha Christie perhaps


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.