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

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Captain's Confidant: A Regency Romance - Larkhall Letters Book 2 Review

I previously reviewed the first book in the Larkhall Letters series. Because it was such a delightful book to read, I immediately started the second book in the series, The Captain's Confidant

We originally met Bridget Northcott in book 1, The Ace of Hearts. I instantly liked her!  She was a gracious hostess, sweet friend, and clearly someone who could keep secrets.  In book 1, Bridget didn't even tell her brother, Matthew, Alice Rosemeyer's real reasons for visiting his estate, Larkhall.

When Bridget shared her own secret with Alice and told her why she wasn't interested in considering any would-be suitors, it is obvious why keeping confidences was so important to Bridget. She had a big secret of her own!  For years, she had been in love with her brother's friend, Captain Colin Foster.

Any romantic reading the book would hope that Bridget's captain returned her love. However, at the beginning of book 2, when we discover that Captain Foster is engaged to someone else, that hardly seems likely. 


The Captain's Confidant Synopsis

 The Captain's Confidant: A Regency Romance (Larkhall Letters Book 2)Check PriceWhen his older brother dies in an accident, Captain Foster is forced to return home and assume his place as heir and master of Thorncarrow.  Colin resents having to leave his career and his beloved sea. He has been living the life he wanted.  Now, he is choked by obligations, debt, and an unwanted estate. Captain Colin Foster is a very unhappy man.

When they find out that Colin is back at Thorncarrow, Matthew and Oliver Northcott make plans to visit him.  They hope they might be able to help him ease into his new role as owner of an estate. Plus, they are interested in how he had so quickly become engaged to their neighbor, Miss. Tabitha Terrell.  

Bridget is heartbroken to hear of Colin's engagement and questions how he could even consider marrying Tabitha. He knows firsthand of the spiteful things that Tabitha did to Bridget when they were kids. She is determined to find out how he could possibly love her and convinces her brother, Matthew, that he should allow her to accompany them to Thorncarrow.  However, upon arrival, is seems Colin is not thrilled to see Bridget. He sends her and her companion to stay in the dower's house with his mother.

In her own state of distress, Bridget decides to vent her anger through a letter that is never meant to be delivered.  However, a maid finds the letter and promptly takes it to the addressee, Captain Colin Foster.  After Colin reads the letter, he decides to write one of his own and that is how Bridget becomes the Captain's confidant. 


My Conclusion

Sharing secrets with someone you trust is something we all need to be able to do from time to time. Knowing they would never betray you is paramount.  

This is a sweet story of an old friendship that is reestablished after years of separation.  It is also the story of forgiveness and reconciliation of other broken relationships.  No doubt, there is a message of encouragement laced within the pages of this story for all of us if we take the time to reflect upon it.

 




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Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed

If you're after a cozy, feel-good romance with a touch of mystery and intrigue then let me transport you to a little place called Starlight Cove.   Want to know more?

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed
Image created using Canva

I read a lovely cozy book called A Bittersweet Surprise as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership and when I finished it I realized that the author (Cynthia Ellingsen) had created a few books based in Starlight Cove so I decided to read another one!

The Lighthouse Keeper was written before A Bittersweet Surprise so there were a couple of things that I already knew would happen, but that didn't deflect from the feel-good feeling this novel gave me.   This certainly isn't the novel for you if you want to have to think hard about things or get caught up in some psychological thriller.   This book is like a comforting blanket on a cold winter's evening when you just want to be left alone.

The main heroine of the book is the daughter of treasure hunters and when her life gets thrown a couple of curveballs she decides to bid on a lighthouse.   As you can probably tell from the title of the novel her bid wins and she moves to Starlight Cove to restore the town's lighthouse.

Her parents have settled down in Starlight Cove and are running an antique shop there, she also meets some of the town's residents along with some not-so-nice non-resident treasure hunters.   Did I mention that there was a long-lost treasure to be found too?

While she endeavours to try her hand at a little matchmaking between her first friend in Starlight Cove and one of the hunky Henderson brothers she also finds herself falling a little in love herself.  As with any romance, there's a little bump in the road which has her overthinking things (a trait I can totally relate to myself!).

With The Lighthouse Keeper, Cynthia Ellingsen has once again shown how well she can create her characters as I can totally relate to a few in this book, just as I did in the other book.    Now I need to grab the only other book I can see in the Starlight Cove series to see if it's as good.   An extra bonus is that all three of these are free to read with a Kindle Unlimited account!




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Friday, September 17, 2021

The Ace of Hearts: A Regency Romance - Larkhall Letters Book 1 Review

The Ace of Hearts
I've only read a few Regency romance novels and I don't remember ever recommending one in the past. While they are clearly romantic fiction, which is my preferred genre, there is no guarantee they will be clean and wholesome.  When I search for a new book, I have learned to use the term "clean and wholesome" and have had much greater success finding a romantic fiction book that doesn't include graphic sex.

I've seen Regency romance novels in the "clean and wholesome" search results, but past experience has made me hesitate to choose one again. However, when I saw "The Ace of Hearts" was included in my KindleUnlimited membership, I felt I had nothing to lose if I tried a Regency romance again.  After all, I could stop reading if it became too racy and know that I had not spent a dime on the novel.  I'm really glad I gave that genre another chance!

I love historical fiction and thanks to Pride and Prejudice, I am very fond of the British Regency era depicted in books, especially if the book includes a touch of humor. While I am fascinated by the aristocracy, I admit I am glad I don't live under their rigid rules and expectations for women.  The "Larkhall Letters" book series reminds me, once again, to be grateful that I was not subject to an arranged marriage because my family estate needed an infusion of cash, or because someone was in the right social class.

In "The Ace of Hearts", Alice Rosemeyer went to great lengths and engaged in socially unacceptable activity in order to avoid her stepfather's arrangement for her marriage and life.  Given her circumstances, I'm sure I would have been inclined to run away too.

 

The Ace of Hearts Book Synopsis

 The Ace of Hearts: A Regency Romance
(Larkhall Letters Book 1)
Check Price
Alice thought she had found a way out of having to marry her stepfather's choice when she and her step-brother, Isaac, colluded to help Isaac win the heart of a wealthy heiress, Diana Herring.  He had agreed to use some of Diana's dowry to setup a dowry for Alice that would attract a more desirable gentleman for her to wed.  Alice's hopes, along with her stepbrother's hopes, were dashed when his hopeful bride's brother refused Isaac as a suitor for Diana. 

While Thomas Herring may have made a very wise decision for his sister, Diana, that decision made Alice desperate to devise another way to gain her independence.  Without telling anyone, including her stepbrother, she made plans for her and her younger sister, Louisa, to visit a friend in another city for the summer.  Bridget Northcott was excited to have the two Rosemeyer sisters join her at Larkhall and was more than happy to introduce them to prospects, which happened to be her brothers friends and guests for the summer.  Surely the sisters would catch the eye of a more desirable suitor.  

But, Alice did not wish to be bound by matrimony. She much preferred the idea of being independent and able to provide for herself and her sister if necessary.  When she found a like-minded ally, as well as financial backing, in Diana's aunt, she was thrilled to consider a different future.  It was one, however, that would require careful planning and anonymity. Together, they made a plan.

Thus, the Ace of Hearts was established and open for business!

 

My Conclusion

I found this to be a delightful read that occasionally made me laugh. I could easily envision the characters as described by Ashtyn Newbold. Their actions, unusual, yet creative schemes, and antics were rather entertaining.  Plus, the parlor games were quite amusing! 

This is one Regency Romance Novel I can highly recommend! I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.





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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Blind Turn - Book Review

Forgiveness... let's just lay it out here right at the start.  Chances are every single one of us is going to need an extra helping of it more than once in our life—maybe even today.  The probability is 100 percent.

As we read Jess's story, which swirls like a catastrophic, Category Five hurricane, we will not only think about her mistake, but we are likely to reflect on our own lapses in judgment.

The thing is, it's pretty easy to err when you are sixteen years old.  Despite the fact that Jess is that absolutely model student, athlete, daughter, babysitter, friend, and girl most likely to succeed, she is also human.  And to be human, is to fail at something, or to fail someone—sometimes spectacularly.

In life, there will be devastation.  Blind Turn is about how you handle the devastation of humanity—your own and that of others.  It is about how you find your way to forgiveness when it seems you have done the unforgivable... when you feel unworthy of ever being forgiven.

This isn't a simple accounting... this story of a teen driver involved in a fatal accident.  The extreme fury of the allegations against her, Jess, would be enough to level any one of us.  Who could survive such sustained force of judgment and hatred?  Who could love themselves afterwards?  

Lest you think this too dark of a read for these stormy times, let's take a moment to speak hope.  I found, and I trust you will also find, the eye within the storm.  Inside that calm, even if temporary, are the insights that make this a read for this turbulent time.

The real blind turns in life aren't just in the roadway.  We will encounter some blind turns in our relationships.  There are things we just won't see coming.  As the lives of the main characters unfold before us, the thing that is striking is how they have each been shaped by that which was blinding at the time.  

I found that I especially loved the high school guidance counselor and the truly beautiful Miss Helen, who was widowed as a result of Jess's actions.  She lives and breathes the forgiveness, the love, the light of what it looks like to be the best possible version of ourselves.  Helen is the one I want to be.  I will carry forth her humanity.





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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Book Review of VORTEX by Catherine Coulter

 


An FBI Thriller


Vortex is the latest book in best-selling author Catherine Coulter's FBI series. Her favorite characters, husband & wife FBI team Savich & Sherlock, once again embark on solving a case. Usually, they work together on a case, but this time there are two cases demanding their attention in two different cities.


Synopsis of Vortex


Case #1


Dillon Savich deals with one case in Washington DC. A CIA Operative, Olivia Hildebrandt, is nearly killed while on a mission in Iran to exfiltrate a betrayed undercover operative.  But by the time she is released from Walter Reed Hospital, her team member, Mike Kingman, who saved her life, has disappeared, along with a critical flash drive the undercover operative was carrying.  While Olivia worries about her teammate, she is convinced he has a very good reason for not bringing the flash drive directly to CIA Headquarters. 


When Olivia is attacked on her first night home, the FBI becomes involved.  Savich suspects that the strike is a direct result of the compromised mission and the missing team member and flash drive. The question is ~ who betrayed them?


Case #2


Meanwhile, Sherlock is in New York City, first helping to deal with a triple homicide, then working with an investigative journalist covering the political scene in NYC. The journalist, Mia Briscoe, has discovered old photos taken the night seven years ago at a frat party where a fire broke out and her best friend Serena disappeared.  Serena was never seen nor heard from again. Mia recognizes someone in those photos and begins to uncover a sinister string of events going back to that disastrous party. As the secrets begin to unravel, some very powerful and dangerous people will do anything to keep Mia and Sherlock from learning the truth. 


Summary


Available on Amazon


Catherine Coulter is known for her contemporary suspense stories and her popular characters FBI Agents Sherlock and Savich.  This brilliant new novel is her latest (#25) in her FBI thriller series. 


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Book Review of Vortex by Catherine Coulter, written by

~Wednesday Elf





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Saturday, September 4, 2021

A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed

 Reading a book set in a chocolate shop just sounds like a delicious way to spend a few hours, don't you think?

Reviewing A Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen
Bittersweet Surprise by Cynthia Ellingsen - Buy Here!

Now as much as I love a good murder mystery or dark psychological thriller I also like to read some light-hearted, feel-good fiction on occasion and this book by Cynthia Ellingsen definitely falls into that category.

I have never read any of Cynthia Ellingsen's books before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but she wrote the characters really well and I found myself invested in Emma's life.   I was really happy when I finished this book to discover that there were two other books written that are based in Starlight Cove (where this novel is based) and you can be sure they are being queued in my Kindle!

The main heroine of this story is called Emma and always wants to see the best in people and help people.  Like many other people with this trait, she's not so great at accepting help!  She is running a chocolate shop in Starlight Cove that her late father opened.

Prominently displayed in the chocolate shop is a painting of Emma as a child that is titled The Girl with the Butterscotch Hair.  We are introduced to this painting right at the beginning of the story and it is part of a mystery that runs through the book.

I love the layers of different stories that run through the book bringing it together in a delicious read that would only be better on a lazy Sunday afternoon if enjoyed with a Chocolate Dream (something served in the Starlight Cove Sweetery that we also get introduced to on the first couple of pages).

Emma's need to help anyone that needs it extends to strangers as well and one of the storylines that weave through this novel centres around a woman and her child who start off as strangers before becoming friends.   

We also get to meet Emma's best friend, her grandmother, stepmother and many other Starlight Cove residents.  Each person we read and the stories they bring to the novel helps to enrich it and create a rich tapestry of Emma's life.   There is also a little love interest that is introduced although it doesn't dominate the story, it's just another thread in the book.

If you're looking for a light-hearted book to whisk yourself away to another world for a couple of hours then I recommend reading this one and transporting yourself to Starlight Cove.

I got to enjoy this book for $0 as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership - I highly recommend this membership if you enjoy reading, I liken it to a virtual library card.





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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben – Book Review

 


A man with a mysterious past must find a missing teenage girl in this shocking thriller by Harlan Coben


The Plot


A high school girl who was relentlessly bullied, disappears. No one seems to take it seriously, but a classmate is worried. When Matthew asks his grandmother (the well-known television criminal attorney, Hester Crimstein) for help in finding her, Hester asks Wilde to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.


Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past, not even that of his name. But his unique tracking abilities and knowledge of the woods give him an advantage in looking for Naomi.


To do this, Wilde must also go back into the community where he has never fit in and confront the powerful whose wealth and fame protect them even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions.  Wilde must uncover these secrets before it is too late.


A Few of the Many Outstanding Reviews of The Boy From the Woods


"The Boy from the Woods  is as much an action as a psychological thriller, as much a riveting read as a superb character study in which Coben challenges himself by taking his story outside his suburban comfort zone. A must-read for any mystery or thriller fan."―Providence Journal


"The crafty Coben knows how to weave a compelling story with intriguing characters, and Wilde is one of his best . . . The narrative veers into such unexpected directions that even a true thriller aficionado will not see the multiple surprises the ending delivers."  ―Associated Press 


"There may be no other thriller writer alive today who has mastered that fundamental trick of the genre. When you start a new Coben novel, or just pick one up and read the jacket copy, you know that nothing will unfold as it seems. You can be assured that surprises will keep appearing until the final page."―BookTrib


My Opinion


Available on Amazon

The character study is one of the most fascinating Coben has ever come up with. And the ending was a complete surprise. I recommend The Boy From The Woods to all who love suspense, thrillers and mystery. 


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*Book Review of The Boy From the Woods written by 

Wednesday Elf







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Saturday, August 21, 2021

Reviewing The Whitby Murders by J R Ellis

Have you ever been to an Escape Room?   After reading this murder mystery novel you may have second thoughts about participating in an Escape Room adventure.

Reviewing The Whitby Murders by J R Ellis
Image created via Canva



Apparently, this novel is the 6th in J R Ellis' Yorkshire Murder Mystery series.  I should probably have started with novel number 1.   Having said that this book stood on its own two feet and is fine to read as a standalone mystery (although I will definitely be looking at reading the rest of these).

Whitby, a Yorkshire coastal town in England's North is closely associated with Bram Stoker's Dracula and since the early 90s has hosted a music festival called the Whitby Goth Weekend twice a year.   The setting of this murder is in Whitby, during the Goth Weekend, and while taking part in an Escape Room.

I have read books that have used music festivals as a setting for murder and also some Gothic-themed novels, but I've never read a book that was actually set in an Escape Room.   I loved the idea and although I realized fairly early on about one thing, I totally missed a few other things so I loved finding out how everything tied together at the end.

If you enjoy murder mysteries then I really recommend this one.  As a book, it is not one that deals in gory as much as the mystery side of a murder mystery and is perfect for people who love putting puzzles together.

I enjoyed reading this book as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership which I always describe as a library membership with Amazon's Kindle store.

Other reviewers who have read some (or all) of the previous novels in J R Ellis's Yorkshire Murder Mystery series have said this is the weakest in the series which means I am even more keen to read the others.  I do have to agree with a few of the comments, however - the actual procedures that took place would not have been allowed to happen in real life, but it's a work of fiction so I didn't mind it!

DCI Oldroyd is the 'star' of these novels and one of the witnesses to the initial murder is his adult daughter who calls him and asks him to investigate.   As far as police procedures go it wasn't on his patch and he obviously had a personal bias.   I was able to put this aside and just enjoy the mystery, but if you like the procedures to be followed (like a number of the reviewers that I've read) then you might want to give it a miss.   I think you'll be missing out, but ...

So I have two questions to ask you - have you ever been to an Escape Room?  Also, have you ever read any of the books in this series by J R Ellis?   I must admit I have been thinking about trying an Escape Room for a while, but now I will be extremely careful as to who I participate in one with!



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Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Soul of an Octopus - Book Review

The Soul of an Octopus
Oh! From start to finish, The Soul of an Octopus had me utterly mesmerized. Such wonder. I continue to find myself in the awest state of awe (and if that isn't a word, I hereby declare it).

Who knew this creature was so magnificent in every way?  Well, Wilson knew.  And Bill, along with Scott and everyone who had the enormous privilege of intimate engagement with Athena, Octavia, Karma, and Kali.  And now, every single one of us who accepts the invitation to be wowed, and wooed, and wonderized will know.

There is plenty to give rise to a constant state of astonishment.  Three hearts for starters.  Eight arms that function like brains.  A kaleidoscopic flashing of stunning colors and patterns—dizzying in speed and intensity.  

Suction power beyond belief.  Just imagine a quarter ton of lifting and pulling capacity in one tiny body (all contained in small suckers that can untie delicate knots, unscrew lids, manipulate intricate puzzle parts, and discern your body chemistry).  

Then, there is the escapist element.  To be the Houdini of all Houdinis is something quite spectacular.  Give an octopus an inch of opportunity and that octo will, impossibly, ooze through the tiniest of gaps with a fluidity that should be impossible.  Should be.  But isn't.

This is much more than a read.  Truly, to enter into the Soul of an Octopus is to find oneself deep-diving into the lost paradise of Atlantis.  It is a portal into great mystery, majesty, and yes, I admit, there will be mortality.  Life demands it.

From the tanks of the New England Aquarium, to exhilarating open water octopus encounters, breathtaking moments will find you, move you, and capture your heart.  

Which brings us back to the three hearts...

More than anything, I was struck by how encounters with an octopus transformed all she held in thrall: a despairing autistic teen who had recently lost her best friend to suicide; an aquarist with a wife in hospice; a developmentally different twin who exulted in being liked by Karma.  

But wait—how can an invertebrate stir such emotions, such obsession, such desire to connect at the deepest of levels?  What is this?  Is this a soul connection?

Ah, now we are asking questions that have no neat and tidy answers.  Yet, these are questions that bring us beyond ourselves.  No matter the viewpoint, and there are plenty of perspectives regarding what constitutes soul, to embrace that there is more to this oceanic creature than meets the eye is to embrace a deeper sense of ourselves in relationship to that magnificent mystery.  

An expansion of consciousness can happen in that space between the knowing and the not knowing (if, like the octopus, we become fluid enough to flow through the impossibly possible).  

I encourage you to dive deep into this wonderland.  I consider The Soul of an Octopus to be one of the most exquisite books I have read this year.  Highly recommended.









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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Taming the Paper Tiger – Book Review


Just about everyone has – currently or in the past – had clutter in their lives. Many books have been written (with several reviewed here on
ReviewThisReviews) about dealing with that dreaded CLUTTER, including closets stuffed with clothes no longer worn, drawers so full they won't open, and random stacks of 'stuff' that have been in place so long you no longer remember what is in the pile. 


Author Barbara Hemphill, a professional organizer, has written several books dealing with clutter. This one I am reviewing – Taming the Paper Tiger – deals with MY biggest bug-a-boo – PAPER. 


Source: Pixabay

I have managed to keep the majority of unneeded clutter out of my life, but when it comes to paperwork I tend to let days ~ yea, even weeks ~ go by without dealing with it. I can't explain it – I have all sorts of file organizers and notebooks and To-Do Lists, and even a scheduled 'day' each week to deal with it – and I'm always behind because I tend to look at a pile, turn around and walk away. Now I have 'piles' of unsorted papers stacked in several places and in more than one room. Sometimes I move a pile – sometimes I even deal with a few papers from a pile – but I never catch up! Thus, the procurement of this book Taming the Paper Tiger – Organizing the Paper in your Life!


The Book


Available on Amazon
Taming the Paper Tiger deals with ~ simply ~ the 'paper' in your life. This includes bills and tax information, but also keeping track of family records, the memorabilia of your family, your photographs, and your files. There is even a section on cleaning up the files in your computer. 




Key Points


I found several key points that 'spoke' to me when I first began to utilize the tips in this book to get control of my paperwork.


One tip I particularly liked was the reminder to 'forget' about the backlog.  Barbara states that to develop an effective paper management system starts with stop feeling guilty about yesterday's piles. Instead, do something with TODAY'S. In other words, start with today's mail and work backwards. 


Source: Pixabay

One of my favorite chapter headings is called “Master the 
Art of Wastebasketry”. I can relate to that! I find it quite tempting to throw ALL my piles of paper into the wastebasket right now. But, no – something important and/or valuable would be lost forever.  So – onward in an 'organized' way. 


We all know about sorting into related piles your bills, action papers, reference papers, to read pile and to write pile, family records and – that very difficult to control pile because we (and the kids) never want any of their work thrown away – the children's papers. The author gives us outlines of each of these in this book, which all makes sense as soon as we (I) admit that I am a “Paperholic”. 


Summary


Source: Pixabay

I have purposely kept this review lighthearted, and not gone into a lot of detail as each chapter deals with learning to control your paper and the chapter headings are self-explanatory. But paper management can be a real (and sometimes a really serious) problem for many people. Personally, I DO want (and need) to get the paper in my life under control and bring 'order' to the 'chaos', and am finding that “Taming the Paper Tiger” is helping.  


So, if stacks of papers are encroaching on your space or you frequently move piles of paper from one side of the desk (or room) to the other or you plan to 'sort' everything out as soon as you have some time, than you may find Barbara Hemphill's book Taming the Paper Tiger exactly what you need to read. Her paper management system and strategies are very helpful.


Additionally, Barbara Hemphill has also written other paper organizing books, including 'for the home' and 'for the office' and 'at work', whether you work in an office or from home.  If you need to know what to toss and how to find the rest, she also has a book about that.


Whatever your paper management needs are, Taming the Paper Tiger and Barbara Hemphill's other management system books will prove to be beneficial to anyone, like me, who finds 'dealing with paper' overwhelming.


*Reviewer's Note: The book I own is simply called 'Taming the Paper Tiger'. It is the fourth edition published in 1997. The current book available is called "Taming the Paper Tiger at Home" - Fifth Edition. Same book with expanded title and different cover.


Quick Links to Other Clutter Control Books and Organizing Suggestions Reviewed by our Contributors here on Review This Reviews



For more organizing tips and tricks reviewed here on Review This Reviews, just do a search for 'clutter'


*Taming the Paper Tiger by Barbara Hemphill – book review written by ~

Wednesday Elf






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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Book Review of The Beekeeper's Promise

 

The Beekeeper's Promise is a work of historical fiction that takes place in the World War II era.  It portrays two women of courage.  The first is Eliane, who lives in a small town in France during the the war and the second is Abi who visits that small town in 2017. The chapters in the book alternate between Eliane's story and Abi's story.

First Storyline

Eliane lives in rural France and we hear her story starting in the late 1930's near the beginning of World War II.  She lives on the Count Comte's Bellevue estate and she is employed as a kitchen assistant in the main chateau.  One of the duties she loves is taking care of the many beehives.  She does an excellent job and the Count arranges for some additional beehives to be moved from a nearby farm for Eliane to also mange.  When the beehives are moved Matthieu oversees the move and Eliane and Matthieu soon develop a close relationship.
The story then evolves as the chateau is taken over by the Nazi's and the Count moves out to a side cottage.   Eliane continues on with her duties with the bees and in the kitchen.  Without giving away more of the story I will say that Eliane and many of the others become involved in the war effort.  The French resistance is very much a part of this novel and the courage of those involved is evident.  I found it to be a very interesting and educating book.

Second Storyline

Abi, who lives near London, is recovering from an accident and severe depression.  Her friend talks her into attending a Yoga retreat in a small French town.  During the retreat Abi wanders off into the French countryside and gets herself lost.  A storm comes up and Abi is rescued by Sara who is driving by in the area.  Sara brings her to her home to wait out the storm.  It turns out that her home is the former estate of Count Comte.  Sara and her husband Thomas have turned the estate into a wedding venue.  It is the height of the wedding season and a key employee has taken ill.  Abi stays to help and during her stay Sara tells her the story of Eliane.  Through this story, which is told gradually over the weeks that Abi is working at the wedding venue, Abi realizes that she too can be strong and face the future.






My Recommendation

This was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.  In fact I think I will recommend it for my book club to read.  I loved all of the characters and the author, Fiona Valpy, did an excellent job of making me feel that I was part of the story.  It was one of those books that carried the characters with me long after I had finished reading.



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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Ocean Prey by John Sandford – A Book Review



Mystery Writer John Sandford has written 30 books in the Lucas Davenport 'Prey' Series and 12 books in the Virgil Flowers Series. With Prey Series Book #31, Sandford combines these two entertaining characters into one story and has them working together to solve a crime. 


Ocean Prey is a Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers Novel.


Main Characters in John Sandford's two well-known suspense/mystery series.


The Virgil Flowers Series


The  main character of the series, Virgil Flowers, is described as tall, lean, late thirties, three times divorced, with long hair. He often wears t-shirts featuring rock bands. Virgil works at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). He is good friends with Lucas Davenport and is frequently mentioned in various 'Prey' novels.


The Lucas Davenport 'Prey' Series


Davenport has been a police officer, a Minneapolis detective and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator.  In later books, including Ocean Prey, he now works for the U.S. Marshall's Office.  Lucas is tall with black hair, gray at the temples, blue eyes, and dark complexion.


Although each character has been mentioned occasionally in each other's series (as they are friends), this is the first book where they are featured working together on the same case.


Synopsis of Ocean Prey



Fan-favorite heroes Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers join forces on a deadly maritime case   


An off-duty Coast Guardsman, fishing with his family, spots a snazzy craft with extra horsepower picking up a surfaced diver who was apparently alone without a boat in the middle of the ocean. This doesn't make sense. The Coast Guardsman calls in this suspicious behavior.  The three Guardsmen who come out to investigate are shot and killed.


Since they are federal officers killed on the job, the FBI investigates. When the case stalls out, the FBI calls in the U.S. Marshall's office in the form of Lucas Davenport and his team. 


When the case turns lethal, Davenport brings in a detective whose biggest asset is having a fundamentally criminal mind: Virgil Flowers. 

Working undercover posing as a deep sea diver, with Davenport and the FBI supporting him in the background, Virgil infiltrates the group of notorious drug runners operating off the coast of Miami. They want the men responsible for the deaths of the Coast Guardsmen, but also the head of the organization which has been bringing in tons of illegal drugs in an unusual way. The main goal is to shut down the entire operation once and for all. 


Summary


Ocean Prey brings us an outstanding and exciting story starring Sandford's two favorite characters, Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers. This may be a suspenseful mystery story, but it is also filled with humor of the type frequently used by police personnel to lesson the tension.  The jokes and wisecracks among the characters made me smile often, and actually laugh out loud in two places. A very enjoyable read. 


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Ocean Prey Book Review written by

Wednesday Elf





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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Book Review of WIN by Harlan Coben

Book Review of the Harlan Coben novel WIN

Best-selling author Harlan Coben has written 18 Non-series stand-alone suspense books, the latest of which is WIN. Coben is also well-known for his Myron Bolitar series. Throughout the Bolitar series, we follow the interaction between Myron and his best friend and 'side kick' in solving crimes, Windsor Horne Lockwood III - or Win. It wasn't until I began reading Coben's newest book WIN that I realized the story was about Myron's friend.


For the first time, we get the true inside story of Win. Myron Bolitar is not featured in this book, except for a few references about the two of them together.  Instead, for the first time, this book gives us the background on the Win we have known and loved throughout the Bolitar series.


Windsor Horne Lockwood III (Win) is an extremely wealthy man with impeccable taste and a personal approach to justice that too often lands him on the wrong side of the law.


Synopsis


When the FBI takes Win to a murder scene in the upper West Side apartment of a recluse, Win doesn't know why. Then he sees two objects there, a stolen Vermeer painting and a suitcase bearing the initials WHL3 - his initials


Win is baffled how his family heirlooms came to be in a dead man's apartment. All he knows is that they were stolen from Lockwood Manor over twenty years ago when his Uncle was murdered and his cousin Patricia was kidnapped. Even though Patricia escaped her captors, they were never apprehended, the murder of her father was never solved, and the stolen items were never recovered. 


Now the FBI reveals that the murder victim in the apartment was also the mastermind behind a notorious act of domestic terrorism. Win must figure out the connection between the two cases. 


Summary


WIN by Harlan Coben

A dead man's secrets lead our hero down a dangerous road in this thriller from the author of the Myron Bolitar series – where we first meet Win. Harlan Coben writes with wit and irony in each of his suspenseful outings . A master storyteller ~ always a delightful read.


Quick Links to more reviews of Harlan Coben:

  • Book Review of CAUGHT by Wednesday Elf
  • TV Series Review of THE STRANGER by Lou16 aka Louanne Cox
  • Book Review of WIN by Wednesday Elf


*Book Review of WIN by Harlan Coben written by 

~Wednesday Elf






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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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Catching Dawn - Book Review

To what lengths would you go to keep a promise to a stranger?  To whom would you turn when fulfilling that promise proved to be beyond the scope of what you alone could do?

Catching Dawn starts as a rescue story that becomes a story, within a story, within a story.  There is the story of what it means to rewrite your own story as you do everything within your power to help the ones barely surviving.

And then there is the story of how the strays of the world find their belonging, their purpose, their peace.

Nested within those stories are the circular beginnings and endings where the lines blur between having rescued and having been the one most in need of saving.

When Melissa Armstrong is approached by a stranger about helping a litter of newborn puppies born to a dog living on the streets, she is quick to take on the mission.  After all, how hard could it be to gather up a nursing dog and her babies?

It turns out that a highly traumatized dog is one of the hardest things anyone could ever attempt to catch.  Six months of failures could have been the end of that story (and the end of those frail puppies).  Instead, this book reveals how both humans and animals in desperate need helped one another rise above those initial failures.

As a young girl, Armstrong grew up feeling there was something wrong with her that made her unlovable.  She felt out of place and knew great loneliness.  Her inner stray could relate to the fear and lack of trust displayed by dogs that felt a need to hide and avoid the kind of pain associated with people.

While going to great lengths to catch a dog that did not want to be caught, Armstrong simultaneously found herself catching the things that had proven so elusive during her earlier years: feeling loved, being needed, and discovering the embrace of a real family.

Having been immersed in challenging dog rescue scenarios, there was much that resonated for me in these embedded stories of transformation, friendship, and healing.  The writing revealed the beauty and wonder of the truest of relationships.  This book reminded me to never take for granted the many gifts offered up by my animals every single day.  It deepened my gratitude for how my rescue dogs have helped me rewrite my story.  

There are no small promises when lives are hanging in the balance.  There are no lengths too great when it comes to living out our promises.  Catching Dawn inspires us to be the promise needed in this world.





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Friday, July 9, 2021

A Better Country Book Series by Kristina Hall Reviewed

A Better Country Book Series
When I received a request to review "To the Uttermost", which is book 2 of A Better Country series by Kristina Hall, I quickly agreed to read it.  However, I wanted to start with book 1, "Strangers and Pilgrims" and I'm really glad I did.  

Reading Strangers and Pilgrims first allowed me the opportunity to get to know the main characters in the series.  Understanding their background and the struggles this created family survived, helped me appreciate and understand them.  I doubt I would have grasped the depth and reason for their close relationships without the revelations of book one.

Both books caused me to really stop and think about several things. When reading books, hearing stories, or visiting battleground sites of the American Civil War, I often consider how families were forever changed.  Reading a book, even a fiction book, about a soldier who returned home to find his parents dead and his home town overrun by the enemy, is not a scenario I previously considered. However, I have no doubt it is a plausible plot and was, most likely, a reality for far too many at that time in history.

As long as the reader keeps in mind that there are evil people in every region of every country and doesn't get locked up on Civil War sides, I believe "Strangers and Pilgrims" offers an excellent message for all.

It is unlikely anyone would struggle with the content in "To the Uttermost", but you will want the background provided in "Strangers and Pilgrims". 

 

Strangers and Pilgrims Synopsis

In book 1 of A Better Country series, Harry Reiner has just returned to his home town in Texas and to a very unwelcome reception.  He is easily identifiable as a Confederate soldier in this town overrun by Yankees, and they are intolerant of his presence.  He is shot and left for dead in the middle of the street. Only one woman has the courage to come to his aid.  

Rose Kendrick previously stood up against the self-appointed leader of the town, Edwin Burton, and is almost an outcast herself. She survives by taking in laundry, but once she takes in Harry, her business completely dries up. She finds herself, her home, and her loved ones under physical attack. 

Sally Guilford is an orphan who was previously taken in by Rose.  She is Rose's helper, adopted daughter, and biggest defender. Sally is also Rose's greatest area of weakness and evil people are not beyond threatening or even harming a child.

Doyle is an adult man who is Rose's only friend in town. Every time Rose is under attack, Doyle comes to her defense, which puts him in great danger.  Because he has previously taken a bullet while defending Rose, his physical strength is limited.

These four individuals don't stand much of a chance against a lawless town full of enemies lead by a vengeful and spiteful leader.

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Throughout this book, Christians are reminded that they are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth".  (Hebrews 11:13)

 

To The Uttermost Synopsis

Book 2 of the series picks up a few years later where Harry Reiner and his family are living on his parents horse farm, but the book begins in the wilderness of Colorado with Owen Lockart and his 3 brothers escorting a captured outlaw to jail. 

The outlaw is a member of Vic Guilford's gang. When the 4 brothers are ambushed by the gang, only Owen survives.  He vows revenge for his brother's murders. 

Owen heads to a farm in Texas (Harry Reiner's farm) where Guilford's sister lives. He believes the brother will visit his sister there and give him opportunity to exact revenge.  Since Harry is familiar with the Lockart farm and their excellent horses, he doesn't hesitate to hire Owen.  Of course, Harry has no knowledge of Owen's true intentions.

When the area farms are hit by rustlers, Harry and his workers establish around the clock watches. When the rustlers attack his farm, they kill one of his men and shoot Harry.  All of the remaining workers, except Owen, quit. They don't believe defending Reiner and his farm are worth their lives. 

Once again, Harry finds himself wounded and fighting a battle with little help.  Unfortunately, his one remaining healthy worker has ulterior motives and Vic Guilford is back in town.  Owen will go to great extremes to take down Guilford, but when another's life is threatened, will he go to the uttermost?

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The message of this book is clear as we watch how a desire for revenge will eat away at someone's character and overshadow all else.  

 

My Recommendation

Both of these books deal with the insidious nature of anger, hate, & revenge.  Conversely, they also include kindness, love, & forgiveness.  

Too often, books can make forgiveness look easy and don't really explore the depths of emotions.  I don't believe that is the case with either of these books.  I think the author did an excellent job of walking us through the events, as well as the hearts and thoughts of those involved.  She didn't try to make it all look simple or effortless, and everything isn't tied up neatly with the bow of Christianity.  

We all struggle with being humans.  I highly recommend this series to believers who recognize we are strangers on this earth seeking Him to the uttermost.





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