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

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Pirate Bride Book Review

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 2 in the Series


The Pirate Bride Book Revies
I recently discovered this fabulous historical romance series.  To say it has kept me up into the wee hours of the morning on several nights, would be an understatement.  

I like to read at bedtime.  I've found that it normally helps me ease into a restful sleep by taking my mind off real life concerns.  However, in the case of the Daughters of the Mayflower series, these books have been so spellbinding that I can't put them down.  I get wrapped up in the story and must read just one more chapter.  Before I know it, it is 2 am and I am fighting sleep.  I need to know what happens next!

I previously reviewed the first book in this series, The Mayflower Bride.  An excellent story filled with fascinating history.  After I read The Mayflower Bride, I immediately started this book, The Pirate Bride.  Sadly, I finished it in two nights and started the third book in the series the following night.  I'll tell you in advance, I am suffering from sleep deprivation as I write.  At 4 am this morning, I was still reading that 3rd book.  This series really is that captivating.


The Pirate Bride Book Synopsis

April 1724

 The Pirate Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 2Check PriceMaribel Cordoba is only 12 years old when her estranged father appears and informs her that her mother and grandfather are dead.  Therefore, she will be joining him on a ship bound for Havana, immediately.  Antonia Cordoba is a cruel and heartless man.  He doesn't even allow Maribel to stay long enough to attend her mother and grandfather's funerals.  

As you might expect for someone so evil, Antonia has enemies who are equipped and strong enough to pursue him.  While at sea, their ship is overtaken by a privateer's ship that is commanded by Captain Jean Beaumont.  

A privateer is different than a pirate.  While they both seize cargo and assets, the privateer has a government commission to legally rob a country's enemy ships and divide the proceeds with their government. Therefore, the French Ghost Ship is breaking no law when they attack and board the Spanish Venganza.

On that fateful day, Captain Beaumont is more interested in a passenger then he is in the ship's valuables.  Many years before, Cordoba had killed Beaumont's mother and brother.  It was time for revenge!  After a short struggle onboard between Beaumont and Cordoba, they both fell overboard.  Beaumont had the advantage, but was convicted by the voice of God.  He took hands off of Cordoba and allowed the sea to take her prey naturally.  

Back on his own ship, Captain Beaumont discovers that he is now the reluctant guardian of a very opinionated and independent, Maribel Cordoba who is fascinated by pirates. Her intelligence, mental strength and adventurous spirit endears her to the crew of the Ghost Ship.  After a few months together and a life threatening incident, a few of the remaining crew decide it would be best for Maribel if she was raised by nuns in an established orphanage.  While she is still unconscious, they deliver her to Mother Superior on Isle de Santa Maria. 


Conclusion & Recommendation

There is so much more to this story!  The characters easily come to life in the pages of this book.  There are quite a few twists & turns that keep you reading.  What would normally be a difficult concept to "sell", the author seamlessly leads the reader to the point where we embrace the idea of this Pirate Bride. 

I have read several books by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  She never disappoints.  This is yet another book by this author that I would highly recommend.







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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roget's Words for Writers Reviewed

Saying it differently

Today I would like to review something I have put on my Christmas Gift List. The Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers is something I could utilize on a daily basis. I have a very worn copy of a general Thesaurus but I think one specifically for writers would my new go to reference.

words for writers
Looking for synonyms: a writer's task
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Anton Chekhov once said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." An author needs to paint the scene for their readers using words. We can have a dull canvas with a lot of the same colors (words) or we can look for colors that are surprising and much more descriptive. Synonyms often assist with our choices.

For instance, I could write this:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's rude response.

So, we know a man was being rude to Anton. What if I found a synonym for rude and changed the sentence to:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's truculent response.

I don't know about you but I envision two different things that basically mean the same thing. Rude makes me think of something that is crude, rough or abrasive. Truculent seems harsher, more scathing, meaner in a way.


Writer's Tool


Roget's Words for Writers is a thesaurus but set-up differently. It isn't the simple word list in alphabetical order that we are used to. Instead it is compiled by meaning with a sample of words that emote the same meaning (such as rude) in more descriptive and emotive choices. It even gives samples of the synonym or antonym in a sentence for you. There are over 2300 words featured in this tool for writers.

I've put this reference book on my wish list hoping one of my girl's will give it to me for Christmas this year. If they opt for something different, I'll just purchase it for myself. I think it will come in mighty handy as I start working toward my goal of publishing a book a month in 2020.

What do you think? Would you use a tool like this? It doesn't have to be for a novel, it could be helpful in several types of writing. Perhaps there is someone on your gift list who would benefit from a reference book like this.



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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Dogs of Riga Henning Mankell Book Review

The Dogs of Riga Henning Mankell Book Review
Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga is not a book about dogs but rather one that refers to another meaning of the word. That is, “to follow someone or their movements closely and persistently.” To dog them.  I believe that it is the perfect title for this book given the Cold War setting and the actual trailing that takes place in the story.

It is a crime detective novel, the second that we are reading for Carleton University’s Learning in Retirement program class called Classics of Detective Fiction: From the 1960s to Today.

The book was translated into English in 2001 and is set in Sweden and the troubled Baltic state Latvia. In our class notes, the instructor says that the book falls in the genre of “Scandinavian noir” and that it offers “criticism of the social welfare ideal.” The later being something that the author was well known for.

Though my book came with the tagline about Mankell being, "Sweden's greatest living mystery writer," we did lose him in 2015 to cancer.

THE STORY


Detective Kurt Wallander is the somewhat rumpled, seemingly depressed lead character. He is newly single, a bit burnt out with police work and given to periods of self-doubt. His personal life is not so great.

In his professional life, Wallander is a Swedish homicide detective and in this novel, he is assigned a case that starts with the washing ashore of two well-dressed dead men. The case turns out to be much more complex than it first appears and eventually sees Wallander in over his head in Latvia.

REVIEWS


This book is “a near-flawless performance in a distinguished series” says Kirkus Reviews.

Publisher’s Weekly says this book is “a unique combination of police procedural and spy thriller that also happens to be a devastating critique of Soviet-style Communism.”  Agreed.

The Crime Review says, “Mankell’s gritty, ultra-realist noir writing style keeps a somewhat tired plot line fresh and interesting, and makes this a piece not to be missed in the ongoing development of Wallander’s character.” I am so glad to have met Wallander!

Finally, The Crime Review also says that Mankell is masterful at “capturing sentiment about complex social and political issues in a very real, day-to-day way.”  I  agree, it seemed like a a very good representation of the place and the times.

Readers on Goodreads rate this book a 3.72 out of 5 and Amazon readers give it an average score of 4 out of five stars.

MY REVIEW


I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mankell’s Wallander and as I said above, I am glad to have met him and I do look forward to more of his adventures. The Dogs of Riga was a captivating book; a page turner at 326 pages. It definitely had my attention and made me want to know what would happen next. It is therefore HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me if you enjoy well-crafted, somewhat gritty crime detective fiction and novels set in the Cold War.

As in my review of Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue, I have to tell you that this is not the first book in the Detective Kurt Wallander series. Since it is part of the course I am taking and therefore assigned reading, I started with it. I will definitely have to go back to the start of the series, which is where, I imagine, you will start if you also want to meet Kurt Wallander.

WHICH DETECTIVE KURT WALLANDER BOOK IS FIRST?


Since I want to back track and read the books that came before The Dogs of Riga, I searched for a complete list of the Kurt Wallander books in the order that they should be read. I struggled at least in part because apparently the books were not translated to English in chronological order.   I eventually found this Detective Kurt Wallander website and timeline, which should be helpful if you want to start at the beginning, too.

The Pyramid (1999) - This is a prequel, an anthology.
Faceless Killers (1991)
The Dogs of Riga (1992)
The White Lioness (1993)
The Man Who Smiled (1994)
Sidetracked (1995)
The Fifth Woman (1996)
One Step Behind (1997)
Firewall (1998)
The Return of the Dancing Master (2000) – Written by Stefan Lindman
Before the Frost (2002) – Written by Linda Wallander
The Grave (2004)
The Troubled Man (2009)

IN CLOSING


More than 40 million copies of the Detective Kurt Wallander books were sold worldwide so I am not the only one who enjoys them.  However, the author also wrote many plays, children’s books and screenplays.

I think The Dogs of Riga would be a brilliant movie and apparently my idea is not a bad one because the BBC made Henning Mankell’s novels into a Swedish crime TV series that now comprises 26 episodes.

You can check out all of Henning Mankell’s Wallander books on Amazon by clicking here and you can learn more about or order your copy of The Dogs of Riga here.

If you do read the book, please come back and let us know if you enjoyed it and, if you have seen the movies, we would love to hear about them, too.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga on Amazon.


The Dogs of Riga Kurt Wallander Mystery Book




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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Reviewing Author Plans For 2020

Planning for the Future

I'm going to put myself out on a limb today by publicly reviewing my plans as an author for 2020. I have been weighing my options quietly in my mind for about a month now. So, today I'll put my ideas out there because one of the best motivators is to have people holding you accountable for the goals you have set for yourself. It seems to work for people who are dieting, trying to quit smoking, and a variety of other things that we wish to accomplish. Let's see if it works for a budding writer.

author plans
Can this author reach her goal?
books image courtesy of pixabay.com

Not too long ago, I did a review on Kathi Daley She is another Cozy Mystery author, like myself. I really enjoy her books but the thing that kept niggling at my brain is that she published a book a month in one year. Actually, I think she did it two years in a row. So, 24 books in two years. At first I thought, wow that is impressive. Then I began to think on the lines of could I do that? Could I write and publish 12 books in 12 months. You probably see where I'm going with this.


2020 Goals For This Author


When the year 2019 began, I had only written and published two books. I had been stuck on book three for over a year. In February of this year, the block I was experiencing finally broke away and I was able to finish the third book in the Roni Rainer Mysteries series; publishing it in March. At that point, I didn't really have any set goals for writing other than I wanted to try to write everyday. 

To make a rather long story short, last month I published my seventh book. Without a thought of how many books I wanted to write this year, I was able to add five books to my list of published works. If you had asked me a year ago, if I could do anything even close, I would have probably said that I didn't think so. The words started flowing and the ideas kept coming and so I wrote. Some days I wrote more than others but I did try to write something everyday.

So, my goal for next year is to try really hard to write and publish a book a month for the entire year. I'm going to ask you to hold me accountable to this declaration. I really think that I can do it. I have already figured out that in order to accomplish this I'll need to write (or at least average) about 2300 words a day. I honestly think that is very doable for me. 

I have already roughly planned out how and what I will publish next year. The first thing will be a new series that I am already working on. (I'll have to have at least one book ready to publish in January.) This new series will be called the Babbs Bennett Mysteries. Babbs is older than my other main characters. She is over 65 and has temporarily moved back to her hometown to help her cousin run a book store while he recuperates from a bad fall off of an icy path. The name of the book store is Holiday Books. Holiday is the family surname and her cousin has always played on that family name by decorating the shop each month for that month's holidays. That is going to be a fun part of the creative process, coming up with titles that have to do with different holidays.


Working List of Books to Write

  • January Book One of Babbs Bennett Mysteries (working title Valentine Vengeance)
  • February Book Two of Babbs Bennett Mysteries 
  • March Book Three of Babbs Bennett Mysteries
  • April Book One of Cottonwood Grove Mysteries (new series involves a yarn shop business)
  • May Book Two of Cottonwood Grove Mysteries
  • June Book Three of Cottonwood Grove Mysteries
  • July Book Five of Roni Rainer Mysteries
  • August Book Four of Cabin 9 Mysteries
  • September Book One of Second Chances Mysteries (new series involves a second hand shop)
  • October Book Two of Second Chances Mysteries
  • November Book Three of Second Chances Mysteries
  • December Book Four of Babbs Bennett Mysteries
Well, there you have it; my goals as an author for 2020. What do you think? Am I being too ambitious? 


Already Published Books by Beverly Owens


  • Roni Rainer Mysteries
    1. Death Takes a Spin
    2. Illegal Harvest
    3. The Puzzle of Talking Rock
    4. Missing in Beaver Falls
  • Cabin 9 Mysteries
    1. Campground Corpse
    2. Untimely Checkout
    3. Grifter's Gamble




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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Mayflower Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction!

The Mayflower Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Book Review
I was fascinated by the real history in this book and riveted to the story.  I had no idea that only 5 women survived the Mayflower journey.  I could almost hear the echo of lamentation that surely accompanied these brave souls who set out for a new world and religious freedom.

In my American History class decades ago, I somehow missed the fact that a second ship, the "Speedwell", started the journey with the Mayflower.  Due to confessed sabotage by the crew that was paid to help settle the colony, the Speedwell had continuous leaks that wouldn't allow it to safely cross the ocean.  The Separatists on the Speedwell, were transferred to the Mayflower, while the fraudulent crew was allowed to do as they wished, stay in England.

In the book, there is a man who takes great delight in tormenting the Separatists.  He bullied the sick church members and enjoyed taunting them with the promise that he would throw their dead bodies into the sea.  The author, Kimberley Woodhouse, brought this real character to life for me.  I was disgusted by his words and I wondered how anyone could be so cruel and evil.  Interestingly, he was a real person, written about in the Pilgrim's journals.  It seems somehow fitting that he was the first Mayflower voyager to die and be buried at sea.

I admit that I picked this book up because I was seeking a historical romance.  However, the history that is intertwined throughout the pages of this book, was very eyeopening to me!  It makes me more grateful to the Separatists who sacrificed and struggled for religious freedom in the New World.


Synopsis of The Mayflower Bride


 The Mayflower Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 1Check PriceJust as the name implies, there is a romantic fiction story too. Mary Elizabeth, a Separatist, falls in love with William, a carpenter, who started the journey as a non-believer.  Part of what makes the love story better, is William's conversion, which he does not do just because of Mary Elizabeth. He truly desires to know God and to worship with the Separatists.

Mary Elizabeth joined her father and young brother on the Speedwell, bound for the New World.  She wasn't happy about leaving behind her mother's grave, her familiar home and life.  It was a frighting change for her, full of unknowns.  However, her best friend, Dorothy, was also making the journey with her parents.  Dorothy's exuberance about the venture helps Mary Elizabeth to try to view it as exciting and a blessing for them to be included in the first group to go. 

Williams mentor and master in carpentry, paid for William's part and passage on the Mayflower.  Because William is an orphan who lived on the streets until he was taken in by Paul, they believe the New World offers William a new life.  A future that is unburdened by his past and the condescension of people who know about him.

There are many trials and difficulties the passengers on the Mayflower faced.  Their own survival on the ship, was just the beginning.


Daughters of the Mayflower Series


The books in this series were not all written by the same author.  While I am familiar with a few of the inspiring authors, The Mayflower Bride, Book 1, was the first book I have read by the author, Kimberley Woodhouse.  It is an excellent book to start the series!  I can hardly wait to dive into the second book in the series, The Pirate Bride, written by Kathleen Y'Barbo (an awesome author).  I have no doubt, it will also be fabulous!  

It is exciting to discover this new series, especially at this time of the year when we focus on our blessings and our own American Thanksgiving.  After all, the voyagers on the Mayflower were the foundation of our country.






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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Chasing My Cure - Book Review

Read the Five-Star Reviews
When I first began to read Chasing My Cure by David Fajgenbaum, the proverb that came to mind as an alternate title was Physician, Heal Thyself.  Though it may have been apt with regard to his early love life, and perhaps some of the medical establishment he encountered, I certainly have nothing but respect for the author, and compassion for what he and his family have lived through.

Fajgenbaum was still reeling from the death of his mother to an aggressive brain cancer when he began to experience mysterious flu-like symptoms.  At first, he ascribed the overwhelming fatigue to the stresses of medical school and tried to power through it to complete his rotations and exams.  When his condition rapidly deteriorated, landing him in a hospital's emergency department, the early indications and tests pointed to Lymphoma cancer.

While that diagnosis would have been a severe blow, the real blow was yet to come.  There would be no quick identification of Fajgenbaum's mystery illness.  With all of his major organs shutting down, death seemed imminent.

As a doctor in training, the author wasn't ready to give up hope.  He kept noticing details of his extreme illness that others did not recognize as significant.  One of Fajgenbaum's strengths was a laser-like focus born of what others deemed a disability (the hyperfocus variant of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder).  When he got hold of something that captured his attention, Fajgenbaum did not let go.  In this case, that would be his eventual salvation.

After several weeks of multiple near-death experiences and debilitating pain, and after insisting on a lymph node biopsy, Fajgenbaum finally received his diagnosis: Castleman Disease.  In nearly every respect, this medical sentence was much worse than the initial fears raised by a potential cancer diagnosis.  Knowing what he was fighting did not make this an easy or fair fight.

To read Chasing My Cure, is to obtain an intimate glimpse into the world of living tenuously day to day.  It will take you into the often perplexing universe of attempting to find a cure for a relentless, ruthless, incredibly complex disease.  You will meet people of heart and courage who invoke a brand of hope that is invincible—and just as relentless as the enemy.

Fajgenbaum has not only had to fight the ultimate foe within his body.  Equally daunting has been his mission to revolutionize the medical research field and to convince others that it takes a whole different approach when chasing down a cure for Castleman Disease.  Attempting to change the deeply seated ways in which institutions, corporations, physicians, and researchers operate has been essential to this enterprise.  To create this kind of change will be as critical as solving the mystery of the disease, for systems are often as much in need of cures as are the people they serve.

I encourage you to read this inspirational memoir of how hope, faith, and love accompany Fajgenbaum on his ultimate journey of discovery.  This recently published book is consistently receiving five-star ratings.  I believe that is so because this is much more than a story.  It is a call to each of us to act on the kind of invincible hope that makes a true difference for others.









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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Case Histories Book Reviewed

Cold Case Mystery

Today, I want to review an older mystery book for you Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. It was first published in 2004 but is still considered in the top 20 of best mysteries in 2019. One of the reasons I decided to read it was because Stephen King was quoted that he thought it was the best mystery of the decade. Okay, I don't care who you are...for Mr. King to give it that kind of accolade, it has to be pretty danged good. Am I right?

case histories
Looking for clues in cold cases
image courtesy of pixabay.com
The recommendation by King was actually secondary as to why I decided to begin reading this book. I'm beginning a new Cozy Mystery Series that will introduce Babbs Bennett, a senior amateur sleuth who in the first book will be trying to solve a cold case from her past. The Mystery Book Club that Babbs just joined needs to meet in this first story. So, I began a search to find a book that the club could discuss that would also be about a cold case. (Hint, the book gives them the idea to look into the unsolved case of their youth). That is probably more information than you wanted but it is why I even looked at the book in the first place. Anyway, what started as a resource for my own book has turned out to be a real enjoyable reading experience! Mr. King isn't wrong in his estimation.


Case Histories Isn't A Cozy Mystery


Jackson Brodie is the Private Detective who is looking into three cold cases that span about thirty years. The cases he has been hired to look into seem totally unrelated until Brodie begins to discover connections in the crimes. Jackson Brodie works with determined resolve on the cases that he honestly would have rather not taken. His findings lead him to reassess his own painful history as an ex-cop, ex-husband, and a father on weekends only.  

First of all, kudos to Kate Atkinson for her writing style! Oh my goodness, she describes the dysfunction in families so accurately. The families are different but similar if that makes sense. I found myself relating to the children but also to the mothers in the families. I think we all have felt at least a little of their pain. 

Case Histories doesn't fall in the Cozy sub-genre of mystery books. I say that because it is slightly more graphic in the crimes but not so graphic that you will find it disturbing. At least, I didn't. It is more accurately placed in Private Investigators or Detective stories. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I will probably have to read the other Jackson Brodie mysteries in the near future. Oh, another sign that the novel is worth reading is that it along with the other books in the series was made into a television series by the BBC. A pretty big vote of confidence, I'd say. 

This is a great book for anyone who loves to read detective type mysteries. I think both men and women will enjoy the plot and the way Atkinson tells it. For me it started out as something I could refer to in my own book and ended up grabbing my attention in an unexpected way.



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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason

Review of The Only Clue: A Gorilla Novel by Pamela Beason: Mother Gorilla with Baby
 Image by Curtis Yancey from Pixabay 

The Open House


It was obvious to Grace McKenna that Neema, the mother gorilla, was worried and getting closer to a melt-down. She and her baby Kanoni weren't used to so many humans around.They weren't used to hearing blaring music, seeing and smelling popcorn carts, and having reporters and cameramen constantly in their faces. They really hated the smell of the portable toilets that had been brought into the area surrounding their compound for the day.

Gumu, the huge father gorilla, was the most upset of all. He had retreated to his "nest" --  a bunch of tangled blankets at the top of his two-story enclosure. Although Gumu was twice Neema's size, he was much more afraid of strangers than she was. When he was a baby back in Africa, he had watched helplessly while poachers shot the rest of his family and cut up them into pieces.

Neema, Gumu and Kanoni trusted very few humans. Grace McKenna and her staff and volunteers were about the only humans the gorillas would let get near them. Grace was studying the ability of the gorillas to learn language. Neema knew about 500 words of sign language. She could use her sign language vocabulary intelligently with humans and with her gorilla family.

The local college was funding Grace's studies, and the board had insisted on this Open House as a prerequisite for continuing their funding. Grace had a splitting headache, there were rude children teasing the gorillas, and Grace just wanted the whole event to be over.

She was glad when her boyfriend Detective Matt Finn and his helper finally ushered all the visitors out. They had volunteered to handle security for the event. Matt invited Grace to relax at his place for the night. The staff had a party on their trailer on the compound.

Back in the Gorilla Enclosures

Image by m k from Pixabay 


After the humans were gone, Neema ate some strawberries and wanted to play. She went in search of Gumu, but he wasn't in his nest. So she took Kanoni back to her own nest in the barn to see if Gumu was there. But he wasn't anywhere. Instead all she found was a big wet spot on the floor.

"Creeping closer to the big dark wet, holding Kanoni tight, she looked at the spot out of the corner of her eye. Red wet. She leaned close. Meat smell. She touched her fingers to the red and tasted the wet. Meat wet. Red meat smell. Bad, hurt, she signed."
Where was Gumu? She wondered if Gumu was meat and was never coming back. She turned to the back of the barn and saw the wall was open a crack. It had never been open before. She pushed the wall away, grabbed Kanoni, and went outside to search for Gumu.

The Next Morning


When Grace went to feed the gorillas the next morning, all was quiet in the barn. She called them to breakfast, but no gorillas came. They were gone. Someone had removed the padlock from the outside of the door. Matt began to look for evidence, since the animals could not have escaped by themselves. Then Jon Zyrnek, the staff member who got along best with Gumu, discovered the huge puddle of blood and called them all over.

Matt immediately wanted to put out an all points bulletin, but Grace nixed it. Many of their neighbors in their town of Evansburg opposed having the gorillas in their neighborhood in the first place. They had gotten out once before and they were almost closed down then. Word of the escape getting out would endanger their funding, as well.

Grace finally talked Matt into investigating the the disappearance by himself and the staff promised to keep quiet. They canceled all the volunteer shifts, saying that Jon had the flu and they'd all been exposed. They couldn't chance passing it to the gorillas.  They also made up a story about a valuable missing dog that had been at the open house. They needed to report some case involving an animal to get the blood they had found tested at the lab. Jon and Grace continued to search outside, calling and naming the gorillas' favorite foods, but no gorillas responded.

The Undercurrents


Matt doesn't like Jon because he and the volunteer staff are all part of the Animal Rights Union that has been freeing lab and other animals they believe are mistreated. They've all been arrested and Jon had served time. They had begun their volunteer work with the gorillas as a community service sentence. But they enjoyed the work so much they kept at it.

Matt is sure Jon and the others are involved somehow. The gorillas are very valuable, especially since they can sign and paint. The sale of their paintings has helped fund the work. Jon's father recently got out of prison. Matt also considers him a suspect. 

Grace is worried about whether her gorillas can survive on their own in the woods, if that's where they are. She's convinced at least one of them has been killed. When you read the book, you will also be concerned for them and wonder what happened. I couldn't stop reading.

My Review  


I recommend this book to those who are interested in the intelligence of gorillas and their ability to talk to humans. They would find the book fascinating even if there were no mystery. I read this, the second book in the Neema series, because I had enjoyed the first book so much. Now I see a third book is also available and I plan to read that one, too. I like learning more about the capabilities of gorillas. But I also like trying to solve the mystery.

I would recommend this to any animal lover who likes mysteries  It's full of not only gorillas, but also dogs and Neema's two pet cats. The human characters are believable, though Matt seems to have a stereotyped view of Jon. The animal characters are also well-developed.

I found myself looking for clues right along with the detectives. The author shows us not only what the humans are doing, but also what Neema is doing. We know just enough to hope that the story will end happily, but we still have to wonder until the very end.

You might also be interested in my review of the first book in the series: The Only Witness.






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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Final Gifts Book Review

Read More Five-Star Reviews
Though it is not rare to encounter individuals who speak multiple languages with great fluency, it is less common to find someone who understands the unique language of the dying.  Too often the gifts that are offered up in the final days of a loved one's life are missed because of the symbolism that may be mistaken for confusion.

Hospice nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, share with us, through moving personal stories, how individuals near the end of their lives communicate in often cryptic ways.  When we learn how to listen more closely, and through the filter of what has held meaning for that individual, we may enter into the grace and beauty of the Final Gifts they are offering us.

I can understand if you are sitting here wondering why anyone would want to read about death and dying.  It's not as depressing as you might imagine.  I've found it to be quite the opposite when you find compassionate authors who want to offer their readers the kinds of gifts that make it possible to be what a dying person needs them to be.

What Callanan and Kelley have learned over the years is that their patients enter a stage they call Nearing Death Awareness.  While in this critical phase, it is not unusual for people to know exactly when they will die.  We see from their stories that clues are being given to family members to help them get ready for an impending transition.

For instance, someone who always enjoyed traveling with her partner expressed the following: It's time to get in line.  This was the indication that she was soon to depart on her final journey.  One thing was holding her back, though.  She needed to know that the husband who had depended so greatly on her was going to be alright after she was gone. 

The patient who always celebrated his July 4th anniversary with a sparkler cake confused his family in June by saying it's time to get the cake.  He knew he was going to miss his anniversary, so he wanted everyone to celebrate early.  These pronouncements are important, but easily missed when chalked up to the stupor of pain medications, or the confusion of being deathly ill.

By becoming more aware of how the dying communicate their needs and desires, we can better support leave-taking on their terms.  By doing so, we are opening up the gifts they have lovingly chosen for us.  And, we are offering up the gift of honoring the wishes that help bring peace at the end of life.

ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:  Final Journeys














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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord: A Review

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.

Released from Ravensbrück with a Message for the World

Corrie ten Boom's family worked for the Dutch Resistance when the Nazis occupied their land of Holland during World War II. Corrie wrote of their activities and their consequences in her first book, The Hiding Place.

Until she was fifty years old, Corrie had lived with her family above the watch shop her father owned. After the Nazis took power, the ten Boom family helped hide persecuted Jews in a specially built hiding place in their home. But an informer betrayed them. The Nazis arrested and imprisoned the entire family.

Corrie's father died after a few days. Some family members were released. But Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Germany and imprisoned in the Ravensbrück women's labor camp for several months, where Betsie died. A clerical error caused the Germans to release Corrie a week before all the women her age were sent to the gas chambers.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1985-0417-15, Ravensbrück, Konzentrationslager
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1985-0417-15 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)]

While imprisoned, Corrie and Betsie had tried to encourage those who had lost all hope. The picture above shows the kind of work these women in Ravensbrück did. The photo above was taken at Ravensbrück a year before Corrie was imprisoned there. This link leads to more photos taken of the prisoners in this camp and their life there. You can see why most had little hope. Most did not leave while alive. They saw the smoke from the crematoriums as they worked. Could anything be more depressing?

In The Hiding Place Corrie explains how God was able to work among the women--even in the barracks of the concentration camp. The book was made into a movie. I recommend it. I saw it when it first came out in 1975.




Corrie's Life After Release

After her miraculous release, for I believe God was behind that clerical blunder, Corrie spent some time regaining her health and reconnecting with the remnants of her old life in Holland. Then, for about twenty more years, she traveled the world spreading her message of God's love and forgiveness. She called herself a tramp for the Lord because she circled the world twice, living out of a suitcase, with no real home to call her own. I call her an ambassador for Christ, for she carried his message of reconciliation wherever she went. She chose the title for her book because it reflects her lifestyle during those years. It is the sequel to The Hiding Place.


Corrie's Message Was Consistent


Corrie had suffered hardship and betrayal. She had watched as her sister died due to conditions in the concentration camp, illness, and the cruelty of a particular guard. She had slept with fleas and lice. She had almost starved to death. But still she spoke of God's love and faithfulness to her.

During nightly Bible times  in the barracks, she gave hope to many women without any. She had managed to sneak a Bible in and she used it for spiritual strength for herself, Betsie, and anyone else who wanted to participate. (That story is in this book.)

Corrie's message was one of reconciliation. She told stories as she shared the convicting and healing words of the Bible. One of her most frequent themes dealt with the bitterness that many have when they believe they have suffered injustice or betrayal. She taught that the cure was forgiveness. On p. 59 she says, "If we forgive other people, our hearts are made ready to receive forgiveness."

But God has a way of testing us so that we will know ourselves. Corrie was not exempt from that testing.

One night Corrie spoke about God's forgiveness at a church in Munich. She had told the assembled Germans that when we confess our sins, God casts them into the deep ocean and they are gone forever.

And then she saw a man approaching her in an overcoat and a brown hat. Except she suddenly saw him as she had known him before -- in a blue uniform and a visored cap with a skull and crossbones. The man had been one of the most cruel guards at Ravensbrück. As he thrust his hand out he said it was good to know all his sins were at the bottom of the sea. He seemed not to recognize Corrie. He told her he'd been a guard there, but had become a Christian now.

He said, '...I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips, as well....will you forgive me?' Out came his hand again.

All Corrie's memories of the terrible times and the way her sister died flooded her mind. Corrie wrote: "And I stood there--I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven--and could not forgive."

She wrestled with God internally over the hardest thing He had ever asked of her. She wrote "For I had to do it--I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. 'If you do not forgive men their trespasses,' Jesus says, 'neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.' I refer you to Chapter 7 in Tramp for the Lord to see what happened next.

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.
Each chapter of Tramp for the Lord is short, but Corrie doesn't need a lot of words to share what she has learned through her suffering and from the Bible. I was impressed most by the fact that Corrie was an ordinary Christian quietly making watches and doing her best to obey God when she was arrested. She had learned to trust God before prison, and she kept trusting Him during those months at Ravensbrück in spite of the horror of her surroundings and the cruelty she suffered and witnessed.

She continued to trust him on a daily basis as she traveled the world as a tramp for the Lord. He remained faithful in providing her needs until her death on her 91st birthday in 1983. When she said "He made me rich" she didn't mean materially rich. He supplied all her needs so she would not have to ask for money. He gave her peace, forgiveness, and the victory that comes with obedience.





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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kathi Daley Books Reviewed

Prolific Cozy Mystery Author

I'll be reviewing one of my newly found Cozy Mystery authors today, Kathi Daley. From the list of books she has published, she may be one of the most prolific Cozy authors I have come across. I've read many of them by the way but none who have published as many as Kathi Daley.

kathi daley
Living with views like this seem to inspire Kathi Daley
image courtesy of pixabay.com
According to her bio, Ms. Daley lives near Lake Tahoe. I wasn't too surprised when I read where she lives with her family because as I read Answers In The Attic which is book four in her Inn at Holiday Bay series she describes a few scenes at the shoreline. Her words formed a description in my head that made me think, she has seen that scene. She had lived it. It really isn't even an integral part of the plot but it is descriptions like hers that polish a story. I read that she uses her picturesque surroundings as inspirations for many of her books and the series she has created.


A Little Something For Everyone


After reading one of her books, I decided to check out what else she had written. Currently, I'm reading Romeow and Juliet (book one) in the series Whales and Tales. I'm enjoying it even more than the Answers In The Attic. So, out of curiosity I looked to see what else she has written. Mainly to start a list of other books to possibly read. Let me tell you, there is a series by Kathi Daley for just about anyone's taste. I read that in 2014 she published twelve books in that one year. That is a book a month, people! Being an author myself, that is impressive, very impressive. I thought I was cranking mine out in a fairly rapid pace but it takes me longer than a month to finish a book. I digress.

To date, she has twelve or thirteen cozy mystery series to choose from:
  • Zoe Donovan Mysteries
  • TJ Jensen Mysteries
  • Whales and Tails
  • Sand and Sea
  • Writers Retreat Southern Seashore
  • Tess and Tilly
  • Seacliff High
  • The Inn at Holiday Bay
  • A Hathaway Sister
  • Haunting By The Sea
  • Rescue Alaska
  • A Cat In The Attic
I'm probably going to have to sample at least one in each of her series. She has even written a cookbook featuring recipes from one of her main characters Zoe Donovan. I haven't read any in that series yet but I probably need to. There are something like thirty-two books in that series alone. 

I mentioned that the first book of Kathi Daley that I read was one of the books in the Inn at Holiday Bay. I'm not certain but I think her premise in that series is to be able to feature the holidays celebrated throughout the year. The book I read was number four in the series and featured July 4th with mentions of fun things they planned for Halloween. Personally, as an author, I think that is brilliant! I have be honest, it actually has inspired me. There is a new character in my head who is screaming for me to write her story but I hadn't come up with a solid idea for what the series would revolve around. She seems to want to have a bookstore or at least I think she does but nothing solid has come to the left hemisphere of my brain just yet. It just might be fun to have a sub-theme of holidays in whatever shop my new character decides to do business in. I'll let you know when she and I come up with a plan.

Anyway, I thought I would introduce you to this Cozy Mystery author today. I think you will find at least one of her series to be to your liking. Caitlin Hart, the main character in the Whales and Tails series is pretty funny, I'm really enjoying her a lot. If you are looking for a new book to read, I recommend taking a look at her books. I seriously don't think you will be disappointed in any that you might choose.




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Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review: The Naturalist's Notebook by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You is a beautiful, hardcover book that is an excellent purchase for any person who loves the great outdoors. Whether the reader's interest is plants, climate, gardening, birds or other outdoor pursuits, this is a perfect place to jot a daily note about the experience.


Appreciating and documenting the natural world.

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich is part how-to write field notes, part inspirational, and part 5-year calendar. This book is a way to document and appreciate your natural surroundings.


"In the words of writer Richard Mabey, natural history is "a meeting place for wild life and human feeling" - Nathaniel T. Wheelwright 

The illustrations are wonderful. If you click the Amazon link, you'll be able to view some of the artwork using the "Look Inside" feature. I love these type of illustrations.




The pages are thick paper rather than thin paper or glossy paper. This paper stock is good for keeping the journal entries from bleeding through the pages as well as compliments the rustic illustrations. 

The written portion of the book is clearly written by people who love our natural world. Their passion translates from the page to the reader - motivating the reader to immediately begin being more aware outdoors.

The written chapters are:
  • Chapter One - Being Attentive
  • Chapter Two - How to Become an Observant Naturalist I
  • Chapter Three - How to Become an Observant Naturalist II
  • Chapter Four - A Naturalist's Toolbox
  • Chapter Five - Simple Experiments as a Way of Learning
  • Chapter Six - Knowing Nature Where You Are
  • Epilogue - Bird by Bird


Followed by a 5-Year Calendar-Journal. The calendar grid is numbered in such a way that you can begin on any date and any year, by adding the year in the blank spot on the left side of the pages and writing under the number that corresponds with the date. 
  • The Naturalist's Notebook ends with:
  • Personal Glossary for Abbreviations and Symbols
  • Useful Books
  • Metric Conversion
  • Timelines for Species and Events You Follow
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Authors


I am really happy to have this notebook that both validates my love of the natural world that surrounds me as well as helps me to think about my observation skills. This book also helps me to appreciate the efforts of those who came before me. This is not an in-depth study of people such as Lewis and Clark, Henry David Thoreau, and others. But it does remind us of what a great impact their documentation of the natural world had on us. Or a biology text book. 

This book is a timely and important reminder that the natural world is important and lessons come from our own personal awareness and appreciation of the changes and seasons around us. 

Related Link:

I already sometimes document the natural world around me when I'm camping in the mountains. It is easy to notice the wildlife, weather, and plants while I'm at The Shack. I sometimes document through photography but I want to become better at documenting things more specifically. For example: exactly where and when I saw this beautiful newt. I'd like to increase my chances of finding one in the future. As the terrain there changes, I hope newts continue to live there. 

found during my hike in April




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Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review: Chasing a Flawed Sun by Daniel McGhee

I thought I knew about addiction - how addicts think and behave. I thought I knew a good bit about how heroin is sold and bought in the streets of Baltimore. After reading Chasing a Flawed Sun, I realize I didn't even know what amounts to a single drop of water in a Chesapeake Bay-sized bucket.


Reviewing a must-read book - Chasing A Flawed Sun.


Daniel McGhee put his story on paper for all to read. And I was hooked as soon as I started the Before You Read This Book section:


"I had chosen not to jeopardize the integrity of the stories by watering down the language or vividness of the events that occurred. While reading, keep in mind that there is a happy ending, eventually." - Daniel McGhee

Daniel tells us that he was a small, shy child being raised in the suburbs by good parents. As an adolescent he smoked, painted graffiti, and was attracted to the negative pieces of pop culture. He was fighting, stealing, and by the time he was 15 he was drinking nightly. Daniel goes on to describe troubles that are every parent's nightmares: multiple school suspensions, police involvement, and getting that call to pick up your child from the station after he was involved in a shooting.

The story goes on to describe his transition from crimes and alcohol use to crimes and heroin use. I was completely caught up in this story. I recognized the small towns (Bel Air and Edgewood) where Daniel lived and the areas of the city Daniel went to buy heroin (Poplar Grove, Edmondson, Cherry Hill, Orleans Street). I was astounded at how many people - some of them functioning and holding down jobs - are in the middle of heroin addiction. All around us there are people whose sole focus is how to get their next high. And how after awhile, it's no longer a high. It is only battling off the sickness and getting well again.

The largest portion of the book describes the relentless pursuit of the drug and the things addicts will go through in order to get well. It is eye-opening and not easy to read. It describes Baltimore City and some of the common, everyday sights and sounds of an urban setting.

At the end of the book, Daniel describes how he's doing now. I think this is a must-read for anyone who is using, who loves an addict, or who works with addicts. I think it is also a must-read for anyone who works with troubled teens and pre-teens.





What I thought I Knew about Baltimore and Drugs


When I moved to the Baltimore area, my first job was at an adolescent group home. I worked with males from ages 13 to 18. All of them had stories about drugs. Most began to use around age 11 (smoking weed with relatives or friends) and then beginning to sell for the dealers in their neighborhoods by age 13 or so in order to earn money. They taught me about some of the "ethics" of being a dealer. For example, I once asked two of them, whose mothers had died from overdoses, why they would sell to people who may die. Especially after their mothers had died. One young man was offended that I'd ask if he would sell to his mother. He patiently explained to me that he'd never sell to his own mother. That's just wrong and offensive to sell to your own mother. But he'd sell to his friend's mother (gesturing toward the other young man). And vice versa. After all, they explained, it's about the money. It's just business. But you do not sell to your mom.

With that job, I did home visits and family therapy in all parts of the city including Poplar Grove, North Ave, Walbrook Junction and some areas "over east" that I can't recall the names of at this moment. All areas that some of my co-workers (originally from Baltimore) stated they'd never go and that I was crazy to go there.

I went. Doing my job. The white lady in certain sections of Baltimore. I never understood why groups of people yelled things like "Sheryls" and "new ones" at me. Back then, I thought they were mistakenly identifying me as the police and alerting people to my presence. Thanks to Mr. McGhee, I now know why they were yelling those things at a white woman in their neighborhood. 

Later in my career, I was visiting with a young man as he pan-handled on the corner. He was a young combat injured veteran. He was neat, clean, well-spoken and homeless. Homeless due to complications with his combat injury. I was trying to connect him with services for veterans. I had no clue that he was a heroin addict. Then he disclosed that bit of information to me. He was discharged from the army after his injury with an OTH (other than honorable) discharge due to beginning to use street drugs after his prescribed pain medications were no longer enough. He eventually became addicted to heroin and panhandled daily in order to get enough money to buy his daily fix. This young man taught me about the focus on "getting well", how even gift cards can be pawned, and that clean needles are sold by diabetics who can buy needles without judgement by pharmacy employees. 

But even with this education, I had no real clue about how many addicts are around us. That there are addicts working at jobs and going about their daily lives until the addiction gets too demanding. And that there are many addicts on the beltway with me each day, driving into the city to chase their sun. 


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Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson – Book Reviews

Featuring Travis McKinley

American author James Patterson has written almost 50 books in his best-selling writing career, many in series starring continuing characters who have become favorites of readers everywhere.

About a dozen years ago I picked up a small, quick-read book about a character who liked to play golf. I can't really say why I chose this book because I am not a golfer; in fact, have never even been on a golf course in my life.  But I like most of James Patterson's books and this was one I had not read. And I have golfers in my family and once lived in Augusta, Georgia (home of the Masters Golf Tournament), so a golf story wasn't that far away from the subjects I usually read.  

The book was “Miracle on the 17th Green”. Reading it, I became absolutely entranced, liking the story and the character (Travis McKinley) very much. It is a 'feel-good' type of story that leaves you with a sense of wonder. 

Shortly after finishing the book, my brother-in-law was visiting our home. George is about as close as you can come to a non-reader ~ someone who seldom reads anything more than an occasional magazine. But he is a golfer, so I gave him this book to read, thinking he might enjoy it.  Well, he couldn't stop reading and finished the book in a single afternoon. Even if you don't enjoy reading books, this one will capture your attention and give you pleasure. 

The feeling that book gave me stayed with me over the years and I was delighted to discover that James Patterson went on to write two more books in the 'Miracle' golf series.  I have now read all three and the synopses of this trilogy follow:


Miracle on the 17th Green


The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson
Miracle on the 17th Green

Travis McKinley is a middle-aged man whose life has reached a strange point. His job is about to be down-sized, leaving him out of work, plus he has been feeling an uncomfortable and distant disconnect with his wife and children. 

On Christmas Day Travis decides to play a round of golf while he thinks about the direction of his life. Something amazing happens that day on the course. He suddenly finds himself “in the zone”, playing like a pro for the first time ever. This becomes the beginning of an incredible adventure where Travis tries out for and is selected to play golf as an amateur on the Senior Tour.  As the tour continues, he finds himself qualified for and playing in the Senior Open at Pebble Beach where he advances to the final round. The miracle that takes place changes Travis and his family forever.


Miracle at Augusta


The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson
Miracle at Augusta

A year ago, Travis was an unknown golfing amateur. After winning the PGA Senior Open at Pebble Beach, he is now famous and makes his living playing the game he loves.  Everything should be perfect, but Travis wonders if he is an impostor who doesn't deserve his success, especially after a series of disappointments. 

Travis gets a shot at redemption in an unexpected way, in the form of a troubled teenage outcast with a natural golf swing. This unlikely duo set out to achieve the impossible at the famous Augusta National, home of the Masters Golf Tournament. They are about to learn that sometimes the greatest miracles take place when no one is watching. 


Miracle at St. Andrews


The Golf Miracle Trilogy by James Patterson
Miracle at St. Andrews

Travis McKinley has immensely enjoyed being a professional golfer on the Senior Tour. But there is a complication. To retain your playing privileges, a golfer has to finish in the top thirty-one on the money list.

Finishing the tour with a thirty-three, Travis is now off the tour and feels he is an amateur at golf and at the rest of his life. Therefore, he and his family decide to make a pilgrimage to Scotland to visit his Scottish McKinley roots and to see the mythical greens at St. Andrews, known worldwide as the home of golf. What happens next is as much a miracle as the first “eagle” Travis ever scored. 


“On the course where golf was born, sacred ground to every golfer, even an ordinary man, an ordinary player, can achieve a higher plane.”



Summary


Author James Patterson quoted to the New York Times about his Golf Miracle series:


“There is no other sport where somebody who's average at best can hit absolutely magical shots on occasion.”

Stated on the jacket of Miracle at St. Andrews:


“If golf novels had a leaderboard, Miracle at St. Andrews would be at the top.”

Golfer or non-golfer, the James Patterson Miracle Golf Trilogy will delight readers.



James Patterson's Miracle Golf Series


(c) Written by Wednesday Elf - 9/28/2019




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