Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Book Review of An Enemy Like Me



I found this book to be totally captivating on many levels.  First of all, the author made the characters so believable that you couldn't wait to turn the page and find out what was going on in their lives.  Secondly, for me the storyline and characters sounded like they stepped right out of my family history.  The similarities include: my father growing up in a German Lutheran community, my parents eloping, and my father and uncles going off to fight in World War II. 

The Characters

An Enemy Like Me is seen through the characters that make up the book.  There are three main characters that bring the book to life.

    Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller is a second generation German American.  He was brought up by his mother, a widowed immigrant.  Although they were poor they had each other and she instilled into Jacob a strong sense of patriotism for America. 

Jacob meets Bonnie Phillips and they work to make ends meet after the depression.  They are starting to get comfortable and buying their first home to bring home their son William.  Then the unthinkable happens, the country they love is drawn into the war in the Pacific and in Europe.  Jacob is torn, he is very patriotic and feels he must help the war effort and yet he has a new young family that he loves and does not want to leave.  Add to that part of the war is being fought against people from his parents homeland and he is even more torn.

    Bonnie Phillips

Bonnie's family were once very wealthy and that is the background she brings to her marriage with Jacob.  During the depression her family loses much of their wealth.  Bonnie falls deeply in love with Jacob and they elope and begin their live together.  What they don't have in money they make up for in their love and desire to carve their place in America.  Although Bonnie is also a strong patriot she does not want Jacob to leave.  She can't imagine life without him.

    William Miller

William is Jacob and Bonnie's son, who is 4 years old when Jacob feels the call to join the fight.  The story is told through alternating chapters of Bonnie, Jacob and William.  William's chapters are also told in the present time where we find him on Veteran's Day 2016 visiting his father's grave and reminiscing about his memories of the war.  We see how those years when Jacob was gone made a difference in William's life.

This book brings to life the joys and perils of German Americans during WWII.  It made me think of my own family and how their time during WWII shaped their lives. 

The Book on Amazon




About the Author

I always find it interesting to learn more about the author on books that I enjoy.  Here is a bit about Teri M Brown taken from her media kit.  Take a few minutes to also look at her website where she recommends other books of historical fiction.

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown graduated from UNC Greensboro. She began her writing career helping small businesses with content creation and published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance, receiving "First Runner Up" in the Eric Hoffman Book Awards for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorate, and Real Estate Staging Business and for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, and Honorable Mention in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for Private Mortgage Investing. In 2017, after winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story, she began writing fiction in earnest, and published Sunflowers Beneath the Snow in January 2022. Her second novel, An Enemy Like Me, launches in January 2023. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others. Learn more at www.terimbrown.com





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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Book Review of Reckoning


An FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter




Catherine Coulter is an American author who has written 89 books in the genres of romantic novel, historical romance, and contemporary suspense thrillers. Her suspense genre includes her bestselling FBI Thriller series. Reckoning is #26 in that series.


The Plot of Reckoning



FBI Agents Savich and Sherlock are back.  This time they are enlisted to help a woman and a twelve-year-old prodigy with traumatic pasts, both of whom are now in mortal danger. 


Two plots are intertwined throughout the book. 


First we have Kirra Mandarian whose parents were murdered when she was just 12, and she barely escaped with her life. Her uncle takes her back to Australia, where he leads challenging treks into the Outback for his company Extreme Australian Adventures. Uncle Leo adopts Kirra and keeps her safe a world away from those who wanted her dead. 


Now it is fourteen years later and Kirra has returned to the United States where she is a commonwealth attorney in the Virginia town she grew up in. She is determined to find out who killed her parents, as the case has never been solved. She begins to gather information and secretly turns it over to law enforcement in the form of Lieutenant Jeter Thorpe, the young detective in the local police department who saved her life all those years ago. She also enlists the aid of Agent Savich, who brings in Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith. 


Meanwhile, Emma Hunt, a twelve-year-old piano prodigy, the granddaughter of powerful crime boss Mason Lord, also has a traumatic past. She was abducted when she was only six years old and later saved by her adoptive father, federal judge Ramsey Hunt. When Emma saves herself from another abduction attempt at Davies Hall in San Francisco after a rehearsal, the would-be kidnapper escapes. 


Emma is scheduled to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Even though her family is worried for her safety, they still decide to travel there with promised protection from their friends, Savich and Sherlock of the FBI, plus protection from Metro. 


But.... things don't turn out as planned.... nothing turns out as planned. 


Summary


Reckoning is another suspenseful and exciting novel in Coulter's FBI Thriller series. Two plots which flip back and forth with two interesting main characters and multiple supporting characters. The plots have surprising twists, and even includes a sweet romance.  Coulter fans will find this latest Savich and Sherlock mystery a fun read. 


Links to More Coulter Book Reviews:




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*Book Review of “Reckoning”, written by Wednesday Elf




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Sunday, January 22, 2023

Unscramble Your Love: A Large Print Valentine's Day Word Scramble Book

A Review of Valentine's Day Word Scramble Activity Book - Be My Valentine

Looking for a unique and fun way to celebrate Valentine's Day? 

Hot Off the Press - An Introductory Review of a Fun Valentine's Day Word Scramble Book With a Twist

Look no further than this original, full-color Valentine's Day Word Scramble Book! With 500 words to unscramble and thought-provoking prompts centered around the theme "I Love You Because...", this book is the perfect activity for couples or a fun way to unwind for anyone.

Be My Valentine's Word Scramble Activity Book

Added Value With A Fun, Full-Color Interior

Unscramble your love in style with this Valentine's Day word puzzle book featuring colorful backgrounds on every page, adding a splash of brightness to your reading experience. 

Each puzzle is set against a different vibrant background, making the book more interesting and engaging.

Double the Fun: A Puzzle Book & Game

Challenge your loved one to a puzzle showdown, race against the clock, and see who can unscramble the words the quickest. 

Keep track of your progress with the designated time-tracking section on each puzzle, perfect for a fun and exciting Valentine's Day activity. There's also a place for notes to help you think it through in written form.

500 Words To Unscramble With 50 Different Love-Related Prompt Chapters

Each of the fifty puzzle pages features ten word scrambles per page. Each of the pages represents a different love-related topic.

Be My Valentine Word Scramble: For Couples, Family, and Friends

This Valentine's Day Word Scramble Book makes a perfect gift for your loved one, friends, or family. Whether you're looking for a unique gift for your significant other or a fun activity to do together, this book is sure to be a hit. It's a great way to show your love and appreciation while having fun and spending quality time.

Valentine Word Scramble Book Sample Interior

A Book That's More Than Just a Pretty Cover: A Fun Activity and a Coffee Table Must-Have


It is a great activity and makes a beautiful coffee-table book, gift book, travel activity book, and waiting room book. So, don't miss out on this Valentine's Word Scramble Book; it's something to do, and adds a lovely decor piece to any room.


There's More!
  • There is a mix of medium, challenging, and a few easy word scrambles to solve
  • Thinking of proposing? The last puzzle is "Will You Marry Me" <----Yep.
  • Large print and measures 8.5 by 11 inches, making it easy to read
  • Answers included at the back
  • Only two puzzle answers per page, making the answer pages easier to read as well
Whether we know the history of Valentine's Day or not, it is now known as the day we show our love with cards, gifts, or maybe just a hug.

Here's a gift idea; flowers, chocolates, dinner, and an activity book for the one you love.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Make a Wish by Helena Hunting: "Spark House Sisters" Series

New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting's comtemporary romance novel Make a Wish is book three of her popular "Spark House Sisters" series, which also includes When Sparks Fly (book one) and Starry-Eyed Love (book two).

Make a Wish will be published on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, but it is available for preorder on Amazon in Kindle, paperback and audiobook formats.

I was fortunate to listen to an advance copy of the audiobook through NetGalley. Here's my book review.

Make a Wish by Helena Hunting
Make a Wish is book 3 in Helena Hunting's contemporary romance series "Spark House Sisters" which features her signature "swoony heroes and quirky heroines"

A Charming, Often Hilarious, Heartwarming Contemporary Romance Novel

New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting's website describes her lead characters as "swoony heroes and quirky heroines you'll fall in love with." I would say she writes genuinely likeable, thoughtful characters with good hearts and intentions, human failings and insecurities, authentic voices and often witty, flirtatious banter.

Bottom line: Hunting crafts well-developed characters you can't help caring about and rooting for.

Helena Hunting's "Spark House Sisters" Series

When I had the opportunity to listen to an advance copy of Helena Hunting's Make a Wish in audiobook format, I jumped at the chance to listen to this deservedly popular, New York Times bestselling author's latest contemporary romance. I was delighted to discover that the story holds its own as a stand-alone novel. However, I enjoyed it enough to want to go back to the beginning of the story by reading the first two books.

Here are the three books in this series about sisters Avery, London and Harley Spark, in order (links are for the Kindle editions on Amazon):

When Sparks Fly ("Spark House Sisters" Book 1—Avery's Story)

Starry-Eyed Love ("Spark House Sisters" Book 2—London's Story)

Make a Wish ("Spark House Sisters" Book 3—Harley's Story)

Make a Wish Synopsis

When Gavin Rhodes's wife, whom he adores, dies after giving birth to their daughter Peyton, his world collapses. Overwhelmed by grief, heartbreak and a misplaced sense of guilt, Gavin buries himself in his work and hires a vivacious, cheerful, energetic and responsible young woman as a live-in nanny for his baby girl.

Harley Spark's parents died when she was very young, so she knows how hard it is to grow up without a mom. Unlike Peyton, however, she and her two sisters had each other for support, and vice versa. Her grandma Spark also provided a loving, supportive and encouraging home as well as a love of fun and adventure. Harley is totally devoted to Peyton and tries to make up for the lack of both a mom and siblings in her life by playing the roles of both nanny and surrogate big sister.

Harley finds enormous satisfaction in providing a positive, upbeat and nurturing home environment for baby Peyton and her overworked, emotionally devastated dad. The arrangement works beautifully for a year and a half...until the fateful moment when 20-year-old Harley, trying to comfort an exhausted and still grieving Gavin (and indulge her secret crush on him), leans in and almost kisses him before he realizes what she is trying to do and abruptly pulls away.

Harley is horrified and mortified. Worse yet, her idyllic working and living situation suddenly evaporates as Gavin packs up his and Peyton’s things and moves to the other side of the state. He transfers the care of his baby girl to his late wife's strict and domineering mother, Karen, who takes on the role of mothering and educating her granddaughter with an almost religious zeal.

Harley is covered with guilt and remorse for her unusual lapse in judgment and she misses Peyton (and Gavin) tremendously. But when Gavin refuses to respond to multiple apologetic texts, she eventually has to make her peace with the consequences of having acted on her misguided impulse.

Harley loves being and working with kids, but reluctantly decides to give up her career as a professional live-in nanny, fearing another potential risk to her heart if she falls in love with another family who employs her. Instead, she joins her two sisters and their partners in running the family's event hotel, Spark House. In addition to doing some of the hotel's social media, Harley's favorite role has been organizing the children's themed birthday parties, for which she always dresses up in costume. Unfortunately, they are less profitable than other events, such as weddings, and seven years after Gavin's and Peyton's move, Harley's siblings let her know that the upcoming princess-themed birthday party for a local nine-year-old will be the last one at Spark House.

For the "last hurrah" birthday bash, Harley dresses up as a fairy princess. The last people she expects to run into among the young party guests and their parents are nine-year-old Peyton and her dad. Gavin, in turn, who is both a doting father and a good sport, is wearing a tutu. It's not exactly the outfit he would have chosen for an unexpected reunion with Harley, who is now in her late twenties and even more attractive than before.

Harley is so flustered at seeing Gavin again (especially when she is dressed in full-fledged princess attire with all the trimmings) that she breaks out in hives. Gavin is grateful that Harley is no longer his daughter's nanny, and their age difference is less significant. He hopes this chance encounter might lead to both closure concerning their awkward and abrupt parting and perhaps a different type of relationship moving forward. Peyton is simply overjoyed to see her beloved former nanny and playmate and can't wait to make more play dates for the three of them.

Gavin decides to move himself and Peyton back to their hometown. There are a several good reasons for the move, but one of the most compelling is for them to be near Harley again. Predictably, Karen becomes jealous and resentful of Harley and does her best to undermine the would-be couple's burgeoning relationship. Karen's interfering behavior angers and upsets both Gavin and Harley, but Gavin also feels guilty about moving Peyton out of her grandmother's home, control, and daily life and is reluctant to confront his mother-in-law.

Will Harley, who hates confrontation, find the courage to stick up for both her professional role and romantic relationship?

Why does Gavin feel guilty about his wife's death? Can he finally bring himself to truly risk giving his heart to a partner again unconditionally and stand up to his overbearing, jealous, threatened and still-grieving mother-in-law?

Will Peyton finally get her two biggest wishes, a mom and a sibling?

I can promise you a happy ending, but you'll have to read Helena Hunting's Make a Wish not only to find out the answers but also to enjoy the rich storytelling and the rocky road that ultimately leads to this trio's HEA (happily ever after).

Amazon Editors' Picks: Best Romance

I'm not the only reader who has fallen in love with the characters in Helena Hunting's Make a Wish. Even though its release date is nearly a week away at the time of this book review's publication, this new contemporary romance novel is one of Amazon Editors' top picks for Romance Books.

Two Excellent Audiobook Narrators

Fan favorite narrators Jason Clarke, Stella Bloom share the narration duties on all three of the "Spark House Sisters" audiobooks in this series. Bloom's pleasant but higher-pitched voice is the perfect foil for Clarke's bass, and both narrators are eminently "listenable." They are skilled at voicing both male and female characters, as well as both adult and juvenile characters, that are easily distinguishable. This was especially important because each chapter of is told from either Harley's or Gavin's point of view and read by Bloom or Clarke, respectively. I never struggled to identify which character was speaking, even during conversations among three or more characters.

They also spoke at an ideal pace for me, slow enough that I didn't have to concentrate on not missing anything, but also not so slow as to be soporific.

These seasoned narrators really bring the characters to life and enhance the reader's (or listener's) experience of the book. For that reason, I highly recommend the audiobook format for this contemporary romance series.

Here are links to all three audiobooks in order:

When Sparks Fly "Spark House Sisters" Book 1 Audiobook

Starry-Eyed Love "Spark House Sisters" Book 2 Audiobook

Make a Wish "Spark House Sisters" Book 1 Audiobook

10 Hours of Listening Pleasure

There is enough meat to the story to keep me happily engaged in listening to the audiobook for 10 hours. Key bits and pieces of information from the past are gradually revealed to us (and to the main characters) as the story unfolds, giving us more context and insight into each character's motivations, emotional challenges, desires and fears.

By the end of the book, I felt real empathy and compassion for all the characters, even the rigid, self-absorbed, bossy, subversive Karen.

More importantly, all the characters experienced authentic, significant growth from the beginning to the end of the story arc.

Adult Content

As in most contemporary romance novels, the relationship between the story’s hero and heroine includes physical intimacy.

While Hunting isn’t shy about describing the sexual aspect of Gavin and Harley’s romantic relationship as it evolves over time, I didn't feel the descriptions of their intimate encounters were gratuitous or excessively graphic, and those scenes certainly weren't a primary focus of the novel. The pair's relationship is built on a foundation of friendship and trust first. In fact, despite their obvious mutual physical attraction, both of them are very cautious about taking their relationship from friends to lovers.

However, if you are offended by premarital physical intimacy, that aspect of this book (and, presumably, the others in this series) might be a turn-off.

Fun But Not Fluff

The story flowed well and never dragged, and the narrators' characterizations did justice to Hunting's charismatic writing, keepping me engaged, entertained, and emotionally invested from beginning to end.

Harley's and Peyton's boundless enthusiasm, zest for life, optimism and love of unabashadly "girly" things like tutus and glitter crafts provide some much-needed lightness to balance the tragic deaths (and, in the case of Gavin and Karen, misplaced guilt) that weigh on the main characters' hearts.

Ultimately, it's a feel-good story about second chances. I hope you enjoy it.

Now, I'm off to download the first two books in the series.

Make A Wish By Helena Hunting: Spark House Sisters

by Margaret Schindel


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Saturday, January 14, 2023

Murder Out of Character by Olivia Matthews – A Book Review

 This is Book 2 in the Peach Coast Library Mystery Series.



Murder Out of Character is a cozy mystery with a librarian as the main character. The story locale is a small town near the coast of Georgia. Book #1 ~ Murder by Page One ~ began this mystery series and apparently the author uses book terms (Page One and Character) in her titles, completely in keeping with the 'library' theme. 


The series is published by Hallmark Publishing and they state on the back cover that “If you love Hallmark mystery movies, you'll love this cozy mystery with humor, intrigue, and a hint of romance.”


Plot of Murder Out of Character



Our main character, Marvey Harris, is a small-town librarian, a New York native who recently moved to Georgia with her rescue tabby, Phoenix, to take the job of fundraiser/event coordinator of the Peach Coast Library. 


While cleaning up after the library's first fundraising event, Marvey comes across a scrap of paper with a list of four names. 


  • Hank Figg – the high school basketball coach who recently died. 
  • Nellie Kenton – CFO of the local bank.
  • Brittany Wilson – owner of Coastal Cycles, a bike shop.
  • Spencer Holt – Editor/publisher of the Peach Coast newspaper and Marvey's new best friend. 


Marvey finds the list puzzling, but finally tosses it into the recycling bin. The next morning she reads in the paper that Nellie Kenton has been found dead. Two people on the list of four and both have died. Marvey quickly goes to the library to retrieve the list, then takes it to her friend, Spencer because she is now worried about the fact that his is one of the names on the list. At first, Spencer dismisses the list, but soon admits he may be in danger.

With the help of Spencer and her friends on the library staff, an investigation is launched to determine who wrote the list and the reason why. The four people appear to have nothing in common other than living in Peach Coast. But it is obvious that the other two people left on the list are in danger. 

The police are not thrilled with civilians doing a murder investigation, but Marvey is determined. Even while busy with her job and preparing for a visit from her parents, it soon becomes obvious that Marvey, Spencer and their librarian friends need to find and stop a killer who may just possibly be bent on a long overdue revenge.


Summary


Our heroine wants to keep her friends safe and the readers look forward to a happily-ever-after ending. 


Lovers of small-town cozies can while away a pleasant afternoon with this one." -Publishers Weekly


Peach Coast Library Mystery Series Author


Olivia Matthews is actually the cozy mystery pseudonym for Patricia Sargeant, a national best-selling, award-winning author. She writes romance as Patricia Sargeant and mysteries as Olivia Matthews. 

Patricia writes romance because she believes that the Power of Love is the greatest motivation. She writes mysteries so ordinary people put in extraordinary situations find the 'Hero Inside'


*Book Review of Murder Out of Character, Book 2 of 2 in the Peach Coast Library Mystery Series written by Wednesday Elf


These first two books in the Peach Coast Library Mystery Series can be found on Amazon at the links below:


Murder By Page One (Book 1 of 2)

Murder Out of Character (Book 2 of 2)



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Friday, January 13, 2023

Lord Blackwell’s Promise: A Regency Romance - Larkhall Letters Book 5 Reviewed

Ashtyn Newbold has written & published a delightfully unique and entertaining series with the Larkhall Letters.

I had previously read the first 4 books in the series, but had to wait for the 5th book to be released.  As soon as Lord Blackwell's Promise was published, I downloaded it to my Kindle and immediately started reading. 

One of the things I like best about Ashtyn Newbold's writing, is that she develops her characters so well that readers feel like they know them personally. In Lord Blackwells' Promise, both Lord Blackwell and Margaret Lovell have strong personalities, devotion to their families and conflicting emotions, much like a lot of real people.

As expected, it was another excellent book that I can highly recommend to Regency Romance novel lovers of any age. Not only is it a unique story, it is interlaced with witty conversations and funny interactions. 

It is another book by Newbold that I hated to see end, even though I was pleased with the ending!   

 

Lord Blackwell's Promise Book Synopsis 

 Lord Blackwell’s Promise: A Regency Romance (Larkhall Letters Book 5)Check PriceLord Blackwell is dying.  He is surrounded by his family, his mother and sisters.  They are the people he has spent his life trying to provide for and protect.  His mother is currently the most influential individual in his life.  When she speaks, he considers what she says, not only because he loves her, but because he truly respects her opinions.  When she recommends that he make amends to the people he has harmed, he contemplates her suggestion.  How could he possibly make things right with the family he has so grievously harmed by swindling them and ruining the father's reputation.  When his mother suggests that he marry the daughter and move the family into their home, Peter (Lord Blackwell) thinks why not? After all, he is dying.  Who he marries, doesn't matter.  Plus, by marrying the daughter and financially providing for the Lovell family, he will be restoring their wealth and social standing.

Margaret Lovell is deeply devoted to her family and greatly concerned for her father's health.  When her brother is hurt and needs surgery, she has to seriously consider the proposal from someone she despises: Lord Blackwell.  Her family can't afford doctors.  They barely have enough food.  As she ponders her options, she realizes with the Earl dying, she wouldn't really need to be a wife.  She would simply be married to him.  As his widow, her family would be wealthy again. 

After the ceremony at the dying man's bedside, Margaret's family is moved into Lord Blackwell's castle.  All seems to be going as planned, that is, until Lord Blackwell recovers!




To find out what happens to Lord Blackwell, his new wife and both families, you will need to read the book for yourself.  It is well worth reading!

 

 

Read My Other Reviews of Books in the Larkhall Letters Series

 The Ace of Hearts Review The Captain's Confidant Review With Love, Louisa Review




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Monday, January 2, 2023

Book Review: All the Forgivenesses by Elizabeth Hardinger

 All the Forgivenesses is a debut novel set in early 20th century Kentucky featuring young Bertie Winslow. The story is told from Albertina's (Bertie's) perspective and we follow her through a difficult childhood in Kentucky and into adulthood onto the oil fields of Kansas. The story was written based on stories about oil fields life in the early twentieth century told to the author by her mother and aunts. "The voice of this novel is my recollection of the speech of my maternal grandmother" the author writes. It was Bertie's voice that took me away to another time and land.


The story begins in 1906, at a Sweet family gathering in Kentucky which serves as both family reunion and pig killing day. Bertie is a six and a half year old who is in charge of her three year old brother, Timmy, while the women work with the pig meat. Her dad and brothers go with the men to the woods to hunt. Mama bounced baby Dacia on her hip until naptime. Then Bertie was given the chore of putting Dacia down for a nap.

Bertie carried baby Dacia into Grandma Sweet's and placed her in a crib. Then made a pallet for Timmy and he fell asleep too. Later in the day Bertie discovers that Timmy is missing from the pallet and is missing from the area around the house. The search begins for Timmy but it is too late.  His body was found in the creek the next morning.

With that tragedy, the already difficult family situation becomes worse for the four remaining children.

Mama is less able to emotionally care for the children fully and Bertie becomes increasingly responsible for the household. Mama becomes pregnant, becomes physically ill, and young Bertie has more siblings to care for while Mama spends her days in bed. Their father comes and goes and the children do their best not to attract his attention while trying to survive.

We follow Bertie through her adolescence, her marriage, and adulthood. Like so many people, she carries her childhood experiences into her own marriage. Her husband, Sam, is a better provider for the family than her father was and a kind, patient man. They move to the oil fields in Kansas for work. 

"Inspired by the stories told by the author's mother and aunts, All The Forgivenesses is as authentic as it is lyrical -- a captivating novel of family loyalty, redemption, and resilience"  quote from Goodreads

I feel that I am having difficulty writing the kind of review that explains how much I enjoyed this book without giving spoilers. I agree whole-heartedly with the description of "authentic" and "lyrical".  We watch as Bertie is forced into the role of caregiver as a child and how she continues in that role as an adult woman. Parts of her story are heart-breaking. She's the heroine but she's not perfect or superhuman. Bertie carries both her strengths and her flaws into her marriage. Despite the hard conditions and difficult relationships there is something beautiful unfolding for this family; not only does Bertie keep children alive, she is able to help them thrive.

This book reminded me a bit of the Winter's Bone story in that a young girl is responsible for siblings while the adults are absent in one way or another and is making the best life they can for their siblings in an impoverished, isolated setting. 






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Saturday, December 24, 2022

One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard

 A baseball book review. 



This is the story of a magical baseball season with an unlikely coach in a small town in Illinois.  


Synopsis


The year is 1971. The town is Macon, Illinois, a very small rural farm community in central Illinois. The team is a rag-tag high school baseball team in a school population that is so small that the boys have to play every sport in order to have enough players to make a team (football, basketball, baseball). The unlikely coach of the baseball team is the school's English teacher with no coaching expertise. 


This is a charming true story of a small-town baseball team, playing in hand-me-down uniforms, who emerged from a field of 370 teams to make an improbable run to the State Final.  


The boys of Macon renew our understanding of why baseball matters.


Lynn Sweet arrives in Macon in 1966.  He's a long-haired hippie, a dreamer and an intellectual who brings progressive ideas to a town stuck in the 1950s. The son of a hard-driving Army Sergeant, Sweet is the opposite; fond of bucking convention and convinced the world is full of good people who occasionally have bad ideas. The students love him; the administration not so much! 


Call me 'Sweet' he tells his students on the first day of school. This in a school who wants and expects proper behavior, such as calling their teachers by Mr. & Ms/Mrs. His classroom has four round tables instead of desks. There are posters on the walls and rows of bookshelves. The bookshelves have novels and short stories unlike any before seen in Macon. There are also magazines and comic books.  But there are no grammar textbooks. Sweet teaches with unconventional assignments and tells the students “Have fun with it.”


Summary



When Sweet takes over the baseball team (because no one else wants the job) he becomes intent on teaching the boys as much about life as baseball. Inspired by coach's unconventional methods, the undersized Macon Ironmen embark on a postseason run that amazed everyone, infuriated rival coaches, and buoyed a little town that was suffering from a damaging drought and the shadow of the Vietnam War ~ a town in desperate need of something to celebrate. They became the smallest school in Illinois history to appear in the championship game, and that distinction still stands. The experience would change the lives of this high school baseball team forever. 


Author Chris Ballard


Chris Ballard is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated where he specializes in the narrative. One Shot at Forever is delightfully written in a gripping narrative as it tells the story of the members of that special 1971 team, and its coach. A true story well worth reading. 




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*One Shot at Forever Book Review written by 

~Wednesday Elf, the Baseball Contributor on Review This Reviews


Book available on Amazon


*Image sources: Pixabay















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Saturday, December 17, 2022

Fabian Nicieza and His Novels – Author and Book Reviews

If you are a comic book fan or enjoy Marvel comic books or Marvel's Deadpool, then you probably already know Fabian Nicieza, the Argentine-born comic book writer and editor. He's known for creating such characters as Deadpool, Domino, Shatterstar, and Silhouette. He's also well known for his work on X-Files, X-Force, and other Marvel Titles. 


What you may not have known is that he is now also a novel writer.  This is a review of Fabian and his first two novels. 




Fabian Nicieza has written two mystery novels to date, published in 2021 and 2022. The novels have continuing characters, who are very interesting. The locale for these stories is New Jersey. As Nicieza states in his Author's Note in Book 1:


“West Windsor and Plainsboro are real towns in New Jersey. Unlike the snarky description in the book, it's a pretty good area to live in... I mean, as far as New Jersey goes....”


But, he states, all the characters are pure fiction. Fiction means it is not real! 


Nichieza's descriptions of places and people are often 'tongue-in-cheek' or, as he says, “snarky”. This makes for a very enjoyable read. The books are Suburban Dicks and The Self-Made Widow.


The Two Main Characters


Andrea Stern: She solved a missing person murder in high school and helped catch a serial killer while in college. She planned to become an FBI profiler, but an unexpected pregnancy changed her plans. She has always wanted to answer her calling: finding redemption for the dead and justice for the living.


Journalist Kenny Lee, Andrea's childhood friend, broke a story for his college paper that brought down the crooked governor of New Jersey. The story earned him a Pulitzer Prize at the young age of 22. But his journalism career has since stalled and, 10 years down the road, he is now relegated to working for a weekly local paper.  Kenny's calling: to become rich and famous!


Synopses


Suburban Dicks 


Available on Amazon

When the series begins,  Andrea has four children under 10 and a fifth one due soon. When she accidentally stumbles upon a murder scene, Andrea becomes obsessed with the case. She's back on the trail of a killer, this time with kids in tow. Needing help, Andrea enlists the aid of her friend, Kenny Lee, who naturally is interested in writing another award-winning story to redeem himself and his career. 


Unusual occurrences – and body parts in for form of old bones – surface around this affluent suburb. As Andrea and Kenny continue investigating, they uncover simmering racial tensions and a decades-old conspiracy. But, as we find out, the crimes of the past are only the beginning. 




The Self-Made Widow


Available on Amazon

After solving a murder in Suburban Dicks (Dicks, as in private investigators – LOL), both the police and Andrea's husband hoped she would set aside her 'crime fighter' tendencies and go back to changing diapers, carpools, and lunches with her 'mom' friends. But when the husband of one of her friends, the 'Queen Bee' of the group, dies, supposedly of natural causes, Andrea suspects that there is more. She digs into the case and risks more than she bargained for. 


Meanwhile, Kenny Lee, who is enjoying a new surge of popularity with his coverage of the story of the murder and conspiracy in Book 1, is busy with a Netflix series based on that story. Then he receives an anonymous phone call tipping him off that Molly Goode killed her husband.


Once again, Andrea and Kenny team up to solve another 'suburban scandal'. 


Summary


Having now read both Suburban Dicks and The Self-Made Widow, I am a big fan of Fabian Nicieza and his outstanding and humorous writing. Two mysteries, two murders, two fantastically interesting main characters make for a very enjoyable new series by a comic book writer turned novelist! I highly recommend these books. 


Amazon Links to Books



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*A new mystery series of novels by Fabian Nicieza. Review written by Wednesday Elf. 





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Sunday, December 11, 2022

Why I Feel Bad Today - A Workbook for Teens and Adults

A Mood Tracking Workbook

I recently published the opposing workbook, called "Why I Feel Good Today." 

This workbook, "Why I Feel Bad Today," is designed to help teens or adults isolate their daily experiences and triggers contributing to a less-than-positive day.

Why Do We Need Workbooks

The stresses of this interconnected world can be overwhelming, and a workbook to write down and track our moods, triggers, and good and bad experiences help us to sort out life's continuing fog.

Now more than ever, people can feel submerged in an endless vortex of one problem after another.

This prompt workbook was written with love and is meant to be a fun self-care tool to aid in sorting out the good, the bad, and the ugly.

With This Workbook, You'll Track What Made You Feel Bad During a Particular Month

The workbook is not meant to be a negative book!

On the contrary, this workbook is designed to help you figure out repeating trends that make you feel bad, so you know more clearly where to make changes. 

Even making a small change daily can make a difference in our lives. 

However, how can we change toward a happier life unless we actively track our negative triggers.

What This Workbook Includes:

13 Color Coded Months with Four Monthly Prompt Pages:

  • Each month is color coded
  • Each month includes a positive quote
  • You'll have a spot to record daily quick notes
  • There's a place to track specifics about the month, with prompt questions
  • Each month has a place to expand on what has affected your life
  • The monthly summary page includes four prompt questions to help you better analyze your month
  • Included is a 365-day chart to color in your mood daily. When the year is up, look at which mood color is most prominent to determine, with just a glance, what your overall mood was for that year.
Track your months when you want; you don't have to track the months in order. If you'd rather only track the months you feel are your worst, you can also do that.

Here's the "Why I Feel Bad Today" Workbook 

Why I Feel Bad Today - A Workbook for Teens and Adults
Available on Amazon

You can preview the book's interior via StumpedRiddles here or, of course, on Amazon here.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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