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Reviews Written by
Mark Baker (Santa Clarita, CA United States)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Hell on Wheels (Odelia Grey Mysteries)
Hell on Wheels (Odelia Grey Mysteries)
by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Talk About a High Stakes Game, 23 Nov 2014
While Odelia’s paraplegic husband Greg cannot play quad rugby, he has always been a fan of the sport. It’s a game played by quadriplegics as they try to get a ball across their opponent’s goal line. Odelia has become a fan as well, and this particular weekend finds the two of them down in San Diego rooting for their friends on a local team in a major tournament. Unfortunately, that also means a run in with Peter, an obnoxious quadriplegic who makes a pass at Odelia in front of Greg. He’s also a poor sport on the court. However, they are shocked when their friend Rocky loses it and starts beating on him. They are even more surprised when Peter dies. Obviously, it looks like Rocky did it, but Odelia and Greg question what they’ve seen and want to help in any way they can.

Meanwhile, Odelia’s boss Mike Steel has gotten into a beating of his own out in Perris, California. No one even knew he was going to be there, yet he comes home bruised and asking Odelia to cover for him at work. What’s really going on?

This is a favorite series of mine, so I sat down to start reading with high expectations. The book didn’t disappoint in the slightest. The main plot and the sub-plot keep the story moving forward quickly at all times, and they both take some pretty surprising twists and turns before the climax. While the main mystery is definitely serious, the sub-plot with Steel is hilarious and provides some great lines. The characters are as strong as ever. I just love this cast! The new characters are great as well.

Now I just need to wait impatiently for the next book in the series to come out. Fans of Odelia will love this book, and if you are looking for a fun mystery series, you’ll definitely want to meet Odelia and her friends.


The Job: (Fox & O'Hare)
The Job: (Fox & O'Hare)
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Job Only Fox and O’Hare Can Do, 19 Nov 2014
Conman and master thief Nick Fox has just been spotted on camera stealing a painting from a museum in Tennessee. FBI agent Kate O’Hare doesn’t think he did it, however. First, there’s the fact that he denied it even before she heard about it. Secondly, it wasn’t quite his style, and he was careless enough to let his face be caught on a security camera.

When Nick shows up as the prime suspect in another theft, this time in Turkey, Kate finds herself on the trail of someone trying to get Nick’s attention. What might this mean for their secret partnership? Is the real thief trying to communicate with Nick or get revenge on him? And what will the answers let the duo to next?

The beginning of this book got my attention right away, and it help my attention as the book progressed. The stakes were certainly raised in this book, and that added to the tension. However, I also felt this had some of the best comedy in the book. A couple of things seemed too easy for our heroes and the characters are still paper thin (although they are getting better developed), but overall I enjoyed this book.

If you are looking for pure escapist fun, this book is definitely for you. It’s a light, fast read you just can’t help but enjoy.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Waiting Is Not Easy! (Elephant & Piggie Books)
Waiting Is Not Easy! (Elephant & Piggie Books)
by Mo Willems
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Lesson in Patience, 19 Nov 2014
It’s another nice day when Piggie tells Gerald she has a surprise for her friend. The only clues she gives is that it is big, it is beautiful, and they can enjoy it together. Oh, and it’s not ready yet. And so Gerald spends the rest of the day being very impatient waiting until he can enjoy the surprise. As the day goes on, he gets more impatient to learn what it is. Will the wait be worth it? What is the surprise?

This is a book in the series where the moral is pretty clear – waiting is hard but worth it. And that’s a good message to be sharing right before Christmas. However, that lesson is still wrapped up in the fun of a typical Elephant and Piggie book. As Gerald grows more impatient, his reactions get more fun. As always, the illustrations are perfect for capturing that humor and the last couple of pictures are more detailed than normal and beautiful as a result. It would have been nice if Gerald and Piggie had found something else to do to entertain themselves while they were waiting, but that wouldn’t have been as funny.

This is another winner for fans of the series and for fans of great picture books as well. You’ll be glad you picked up this book – no waiting required.


Bluffing is Murder: A Lauren Rousseau Mystery (Lauren Rousseau Mysteries Book 2)
Bluffing is Murder: A Lauren Rousseau Mystery (Lauren Rousseau Mysteries Book 2)
Price: £3.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Running Danger, 12 Nov 2014
Summer break has finally started at her college, and Lauren Rousseau can’t wait to have a more relaxed schedule. Yes, she has some papers to write, but she has no classes to teach for the first time in years. And after the events of the spring and messing with a killer, Lauren needs a break.

And then she goes for a run on the beach and finds the dead body of Charles Heard, a member of the Trustees for a land trust in town. Unfortunately, Lauren had argued with Charles in front of the police chief just the day before, so she finds herself a suspect. Desperate to clear her name, she starts investigating. Is the controversy over the trust to blame? Or is there another motive for the murder?

I just read the first in the series last month, so the characters were fresh in my mind as I started this one. I definitely think that helped me appreciate the characters and their relationships more. After reading this book, I’m definitely curious to see where Lauren’s love life will go. I did find the plot a tad predictable but I still found the story compelling. Besides, I had to see if I was right.

This is an enjoyable book that will entertain you as you get the next chapter in Lauren’s life. Fans of the first will definitely be glad they came along for this ride.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
SECOND NOTE: Tace Baker is the pen name of Edith Maxwell and not related to me.


Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove: A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself
Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove: A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself
by Science Bob Pflugfelder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Rampaging Animatronics, 11 Nov 2014
Nick, Tesla, and their friends DeMarco and Silas are spending the day at the X-Treme Learnasium. The science museum in town is holding a grand reopening that night as they rebrand themselves and open all new exhibits. One of those is the Hall of Genius featuring animatronics of many famous scientists. Nick and Tesla’s uncle is trying to do the last minute things to make sure these figures are all ready for the opening.

However, a test run results in the figures going haywire. Tesla is certain is was sabotage and leads Nick and their friends on a quest to figure out what is happening while Uncle Newt tries to repair the figures in time. Who would want to see the new learnasium fail? Will the exhibit be ready in time?

This was another fun book that fans of the series will race through. I sure did. The plot is fun and fast moving with plenty of twists to keep you turning pages. The new director of the learnasium kept making me laugh out loud with her dialogue. Plus the gadget glove instructions absolutely look like fun.

I also got a special thrill when I discovered that one of the suspects was named Mark Carstairs (Carstairs being the name I use on line including at my blog). I smiled every time this character was mentioned. I just wish he’d been around more.

These books are light, fun mysteries I would have loved reading as a kid. Heck, I’m enjoying reading them as an adult. If you enjoy a good mystery and/or science, be sure to give them a try.


Acadia (Jack Prester Mysteries)
Acadia (Jack Prester Mysteries)
Price: £3.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Death Among Beauty, 11 Nov 2014
Modeling is not as glamourous as it might appear. The four models on this shoot for Sitting Pretty are modeling spring and summer clothes against the beautiful backdrop of Acadia Nation Park in Maine. The problem? It’s the middle of October and the temperatures are dropping. And that’s before one of the models is found floating face down in the bay, the object of foul play.

With local police and National Parks personnel fighting over jurisdiction, Jack Prester, is brought in to try to smooth things over. His job is to help hunt for the killer while making sure that the various agencies are sharing all pertinent information with each other. Since he wants someone on the inside, he requests that Ev Brant, his partner in the recent case in Death Valley, go under cover taking the place of the dead model to assist him. But with the personalities of the crew and other models, is Ev now a target? Will the warring jurisdictions leave the killer free to strike again?

This is the second book features Jack and Ev and their cases in various National Parks, and it’s just as great as the first. While I remembered the killer and more easily spotted the clues on my recent reread, the first time through the various red herrings completely confused me. There were many details I didn’t remember, and that made the plot lots of fun as I read through the book again. The characters are great, and while one sub-plot for Jack is wrapped up too easily, overall, I like the growth we see here. The Christian element adds a nice element without over powering or preaching to us.

The book was originally published 20 years ago, and some of the elements show – like the photographers using film. Just keep that in mind as you read, and you’ll be fine.

So if you are looking for a great mystery, look no further. You’ll enjoy this book and be looking for more entries in the series.

NOTE: This book was originally published in paperback as A Model Murder.


A Model Murder (Jack Prester Mystery)
A Model Murder (Jack Prester Mystery)
by Sandy Dengler
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Death Among Beauty, 11 Nov 2014
Modeling is not as glamourous as it might appear. The four models on this shoot for Sitting Pretty are modeling spring and summer clothes against the beautiful backdrop of Acadia Nation Park in Maine. The problem? It’s the middle of October and the temperatures are dropping. And that’s before one of the models is found floating face down in the bay, the object of foul play.

With local police and National Parks personnel fighting over jurisdiction, Jack Prester, is brought in to try to smooth things over. His job is to help hunt for the killer while making sure that the various agencies are sharing all pertinent information with each other. Since he wants someone on the inside, he requests that Ev Brant, his partner in the recent case in Death Valley, go under cover taking the place of the dead model to assist him. But with the personalities of the crew and other models, is Ev now a target? Will the warring jurisdictions leave the killer free to strike again?

This is the second book features Jack and Ev and their cases in various National Parks, and it’s just as great as the first. While I remembered the killer and more easily spotted the clues on my recent reread, the first time through the various red herrings completely confused me. There were many details I didn’t remember, and that made the plot lots of fun as I read through the book again. The characters are great, and while one sub-plot for Jack is wrapped up too easily, overall, I like the growth we see here. The Christian element adds a nice element without over powering or preaching to us.

The book was originally published 20 years ago, and some of the elements show – like the photographers using film. Just keep that in mind as you read, and you’ll be fine.

So if you are looking for a great mystery, look no further. You’ll enjoy this book and be looking for more entries in the series.

NOTE: This book has been electronically republished as Acadia.


Death Valley (Jack Prester)
Death Valley (Jack Prester)
Price: £3.15

5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderfully Crafted Mystery, 11 Nov 2014
Jack Prestor, National Parks Special Agent, is sent to Death Valley to investigate the murder of an accountant. The accountant had been investigating the disappearance of funds from the park. Ev Brant is sent in to continue the investigation where the accountant left off. Before they've even been there 24 hours, another body is found buried at the sceen of the murder. With an attacker trying to stop them from leaving the valley alive, they continue investigating, hoping to find the killer before he or she gets them. To make matters worse, a group of aging Hell's Angles have taken over the park, and Jack is caught in the crossfire between the park rangers and the bikers. It seems that the park will errupt in violence before Jack can even solve his first mystery.
This is a good mystery that kept me guessing until the last minute. The clues and red herrings are everywhere. Yet, everything fit together perfectly in the end. I highly recommend this exelent book.


Suede to Rest (Material Witness Mystery)
Suede to Rest (Material Witness Mystery)
by Diane Vallere
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Debut Promises Even More Fun to Come, 6 Nov 2014
Polyester Monroe is returning to San Ladron and the fabric shop that her great-uncle and aunt owned, Land of a Thousand Fabrics. She spent many hours in the shop growing up until Aunt Millie was murdered in the shop on the night of Poly’s high school graduation. Now, 10 years later, Poly has inherited the shop, and returned to town to figure out what to do with it.

Poly’s initial plan is to sell the shop, but when she sees it again, something inside her can’t quite let it go. Then her car is vandalized and a member of the senior watch is murdered behind her shop. The more that happens, the more Poly begins to question what happened to Aunt Millie 10 years ago. Can Poly learn the truth? How do the recent events tie in to the long ago tragedy?

Normally, I would pass on a fabri themed cozy series, but the plot of this one sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try. I’m very glad I did because it was engaging from start to finish. The plot was fun and took some unexpected twists. The characters are wonderful, and I loved spending time around them. I really did feel like they were fully formed already.

I’m looking forward to visiting Poly again soon. If you are looking for a great new series to start, this is the book for you.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Trixie Belden and the Hudson River Mystery
Trixie Belden and the Hudson River Mystery
by Kathryn Kenny
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Disaster of a Book, 3 Nov 2014
A trip to pick up older brother Brian and his lab partner Loyola from the shores of the Hudson River lead to a mystery when Trixie thinks she sees a shark fin in the water. Despite the fact that everyone tells her there is no way it could be true, she is certain of what she saw. Thea Van Loon, a children’s author who is working on a book about the area, backs up Trixie. But why does Trixie think there is something off about Thea?

But Trixie has a mystery closer to home to solve as well. Brian isn’t acting like himself. He’s even questioning if he still wants to be a doctor, and he feels sick and tired. What could be causing the shift in his personality?

This is a book that most fans of the series hate (or at least love to hate). Yes, Brian acting out of character is a plot point, but the rest of the Bob-Whites aren’t themselves either. There are really two stories here combined with the thinnest of threads, and the second one (the one about the shark) is very under developed. Plus Trixie is subjected to such ridicule because of it. I can’t really even imagine where the idea for a shark came from. Maybe Jaws a couple of years before?

Only diehard fans of the series need even consider looking at this one, and if you miss it, you truly aren’t missing much.


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