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

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954 Book Reviewed

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954

I usually know exactly how I am going to start a book review before I even put the book down. However, that was not the case with the book Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain because I was concerned that speaking of any of the individual moments in the book would ruin the fun surprises.

Inspired by the tagline on the front of the book I decided I would simply ask, “What would you do if you could travel to the Paris of your dreams. In 1954?” That is exactly what happens in this book though it is definitely a case of time travel for entertainment purposes and not a scientific look at time travel.

Four residents of a Parisian apartment building meet and, after sharing a very special bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, they discover that it has, as the back cover of the book says, special properties. They wake up the next morning in 1954 with some of them temporarily unaware of the difference and others instantly aware that things are not as they should be.

The characters are an interesting mix that includes a man whose family originally owned almost all of the apartments in the building, an antique restorer, a mixologist and an American tourist who is renting an Airbnb. It is through each of their perspectives that we see Paris of the 1950s.

NB Magazine put it perfectly when they say that, "the comedy is gentle and slightly absurd and that there are many clever vignettes and sketches that enrich the novel." I totally agree. Vintage 1954 is a lightweight but charming, entertaining and sometimes funny book that is RECOMMENDED by me. 

The book was exactly what I and perhaps even you need right about now. It is historical fiction of a different sort. It is quirky or whimsical. It is a romantic book but one in which the romance stems from the setting and the storytelling rather than the fact that two of the characters in the book discover that they love each other. Some might call it a good summer read.

In my mind, there is nothing dark or nasty about it at all though there is a sex scene and the drinking of alcohol. The book is a chance for a trip to Paris from the comfort of your armchair and an opportunity to see and think about some of the contrasts between the Paris of 2017 and the Paris of 1954 and of course, simply the contrasts between those years wherever you may be. The world is a very different place today than it was then.

I enjoyed meeting the characters, seeing Paris through each of their individual lenses, seeing the city of lights in a different time and having the opportunity to meet some of the celebrities who frequented 1950s Paris. I am not naming the celebrities so that you can enjoy them when you meet them in the book.  I was surprised at the very end of the book when the author managed to squeeze in a little life lesson for each of them.

How about it? Would you like to travel back to 1954 or to read this book? Find your copy of or learn more about Vintage 1954 on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Vintage 1954 on Amazon.
The Time Traveler’s Wife movie review.
An American in Paris movie review.
Discover French Kiss, the ultimate romantic movie soundtrack
Pam Jenoff's Lost Girls of Paris book review. 









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, February 18, 2021

The Spirit of Animal Healing - Book Review




As I sit here reflecting on The Spirit of Animal Healing, I find my mind fixed on Finn and Blessing.  Engaging in the healing journeys of these dogs has taught, and is teaching, me much about the nature of wellness and how to be an agent of healing.  Though Dr. Marty Goldstein's new book touches on many essential aspects of holistic, or integrative animal care, I cannot imagine anything much more important than his emphasis on invoking the residual healing properties that exist within all living creatures.  

Healing and well-being are not so much about disease.  They are about the elements that enable body, mind, and spirit to work together with appropriate therapies to move systems toward a natural balance.  Dr. Marty speaks about the combined power of all types of good medicine: the right nutrition, supplements, and immune system boosters that prevent unnecessary illness and promote quality of life.

Some of the topics covered in The Spirit of Animal Healing, in addition to the three mentioned above, include: homeopathic medicine, nutraceuticals, acupuncture, vaccinations, cancer, pet food, magnetic wave therapy, and the importance of finding an integrative veterinarian who will come to intimately know your animal.

As one who interacts on a daily basis with rescue animals in great need of healing, I found this to be a valuable and thought-provoking read.  Even though I constantly consume books about animal health, I found much that engaged me in new ways.  I was particularly taken with the discussion about Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEFT) and the Schumann Resonance.  To learn how the earth's electromagnetic waves and the resonant frequency of the atmosphere are thought to be the frequency of life itself was astounding.  Even DNA sequences communicate at that same frequency of 7.83 Hz.  Stunning!

There is so much yet to discover about healing.  Dr. Goldstein encourages us to be open to every possible avenue of healing and to seek the sweet spot between conventional and alternative, or integrative, medical practices that have the potential to help our animals thrive.

I wish to thank NetGalley, and St. Martin's Press, for the opportunity to preview The Spirit of Animal Healing.  I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.




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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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Pam Jenoff's Lost Girls of Paris Book Review

Lost Girls of Paris Book Review


With the novel The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, I once again reviewed life in Europe during and just after World War II. The book is fictional but based on the true story of Vera Atkins and her female special operations agents.

THE STORY


I struggled at first to settle into the pages of this book but when I did, I was rewarded with the story of a woman named Eleanor Trigg and a group of women she recruited and trained to become secret agents. Those women would eventually be sent from England to occupied France as part of the resistance movement’s effort to disrupt the advance of the German army. The women were employed as couriers and radio operators and were eventually lost. 

The book travels from Europe to New York City when a suitcase containing photographs of the missing women is found in Grand Central Station. The story of these female special agents would have been totally abandoned and they themselves left unaccounted for if it were not for the efforts of one woman after the war.

REVIEWS


Reviewers on Amazon peg the book quite correctly as romantic in nature. Some question some of the historical facts and many of the decisions made by characters in the book. Some felt that the book had too many coincidences and that it did not always ring true. However, despite these criticisms, the book received 86 percent four- and five-star ratings, which does not seem too bad to me so I looked further.

U.S.A. Today called this Jenoff work of fiction “a gauzier, more florid and awkwardly romantic account” of the true story of Vera Atkins and her team of  spies saying that the book has “all of the tension of a Hallmark card.” I agree. It definitely is romantic and nice version of the story and is not the best historical fiction book from that time period that I have read.


The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff


Kirkus calls the book, “a sadly slapdash World War II adventure”, which references, I believe, some of the factual problems readers have with this book. The problems are in errors with the details. Did diners (restaurants) have television sets in the 1940s? Would those TVs have been broadcasting the news while diners ate their meals? How could you have planned a honeymoon aboard the Queen Elizabeth II, which was not built until the 1960s? Was renting a car possible in those days? Were the terms single mother and Ms. in use? Was duct tape available to the public or just the military? How many states were there in the United States in 1946? I have not fact checked any of these questions and some of them I did not jump out at me when I was reading the book. A few of them could have and hopefully have been easily corrected in subsequent printings.

Finally, the readers at Goodreads give The Lost Girls of Paris a score of 3.88. Once again, that score is not too bad in my opinion. On that platform, reviewer Matthew said, “I liked the story, but in the realm of WWII fiction it is not in the upper echelons. Maybe you will enjoy it more than I did and can look past the issues…” Personally, I am inclined to agree with that score on Goodreads and with Matthew’s comments. 

I would RECOMMEND but NOT highly recommend the historical work of fiction that is The Lost Girls of Paris.

If you enjoy historical fiction set in World War II, Europe, or if you are looking for a book with interesting female protagonists, you should enjoy this book. That is, if you are willing to accept it as written and not be tripped up by historical inaccuracies like those referenced above.

If you want to learn more, you can find The Lost Girls of Paris on Amazon by clicking right here. If you do read the book, be sure to come back and let us know what you think.

I will end with a question. How important is historical accuracy to you in your historical fiction books? Do mistakes like those mentioned above ruin a book for you or are you happy to discount them as part of an author’s work at crafting a compelling story?

See you
At the book store!
Brenda

More World War II Fiction:




Pam Jenoff's The Lost Girls of Paris


The Lost Girls of Paris






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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Review of Historical Novel....West with Giraffes

Photograph my sister Julie took while in Tanzania

 

West with Giraffes is one of the best books I've read in a long time and I have read some books I've really enjoyed lately.  But you know how some books just resonate with you, well that is how West with Giraffes was with me.  I usually read before I go to bed for about 1/2 hour.  With this book, I would wake up in the morning thinking about the book and of course I had to make time to read more during the day.
 

                                      

Setting

The book is based on the true story of two Giraffes that are waylaid during a hurricane and end up on the docks in New York City.  They are met by two unlikely characters who end up driving them all the way to the San Diego Zoo.  The time frame is during the Great Depression and we learn some of the history of the era along the cross country drive.  It is based on the amazing story when two giraffes make headlines when they travel cross country.


Characters

The characters in the book are so real you feel as if you know them personally.  

The Old Man-  During most of the book Riley is called the Old Man.  He is the one who met the giraffes at the  dock in New York.  He works for the San Diego Zoo and he is tasked with meeting the giraffes and taking them to San Diego.  We get  to know him gradually as he makes his way across country with Woody.

Woody is a 17 year old orphan from Texas.  When his family is wiped out during the dust bowl tragedy he makes his way to New York City where he ends up on the dock when the giraffes land.  He hears they are headed to "Californy" and makes it his goal to somehow follow them there.  Woody's full name is Woodrow Wilson Nickel and during the long trip cross country we find that he is as endearing as his name.

Red is a young photographer with a secret who is determined to be published in Life magazine and claim her fame with her story about the giraffes.

The giraffes themselves really show their different personalities and become a wonderful part of the book.  All of the main characters are drawn in by a love of the beautiful animals.  They call the giraffes Boy and Girl.  Girl had been injured during the hurricane and they all had to stop often to treat her hurt leg.  She is the more aggressive of the two giraffes.  Boy is shy and more approachable.

This is a book that I would highly recommend.




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, February 4, 2021

Six Weeks To Live - Book Review

Imagine going into a routine doctor's appointment and learning you have six weeks to live.  For most of us, that would be the worst news ever.  Though it is an unexpected and terrible diagnosis for forty-eight-year-old Jennifer Barnes, the real shock is yet to come.  

To cope with an anonymous, random killer like brain cancer is hard enough.  To suspect that the real killer is someone she once loved, makes everything that much more devastating.  With the end so near, will there be time to discover the truth?  

Catherine McKenzie's upcoming release, Six Weeks To Live, is stunning suspense that explores how family secrets, deception, and revenge is a cancer far more potent than glioblastoma.

Jennifer's family members doubt her sanity.  Surely, the brain cancer is warping her mind.  One would have to be losing it to believe her husband, the father of her children, could do something as diabolical as poisoning her.  It's crazy.  Or is it?

There is plenty of motive.  Jennifer's estranged husband has been relentlessly hammering her for a divorce, which she refuses to give him.  He and his new girlfriend are harboring a secret, which is more than reason enough to want to knock off the wife standing in the way of their happily ever after.  

Dare we hope Jennifer's grown girls, a complex set of triplets, might come on board to help her track down an explanation for mysterious lab results predating her terminal diagnosis?  Isn't it the least a mother can expect when things turn dire?  If only family dynamics and relationships were that easy.  

Time is very quickly running out.  Who, or what, will win in the end?  Can there even be a win in this situation?  

Six Weeks To Live is the best novel I have read all year.  You will want to pre-order your copy now.  It releases on May 4, 2021.  I received a digital galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  My sincere thanks to the publisher, Atria Books, and the author, Catherine McKenzie, for this deeply satisfying reading experience.  












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


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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Push by Ashley Audrain - A Book Review

 




During these days when we are called to remain indoors unless necessary, I find that I spend a lot of time reading.

I love to read historical novels and spy thrillers, murder mysteries and some autobiographies if the person is someone I admire.  In 2020, I made myself a promise that I would expand my reading genres.

So far I think I have accomplished that task and will continue to expand into other genres just for my own interests.

The Push by Ashley Audrain was a book that I really wasn't sure I would like. It was made available to me through #Netgalley, as a  pre-published book.  The only requirement to being able to access this book, was that I provide a review when I was finished reading it.  

Personally, I'm a very sensitive person, and I don't like things that upset my sense of balance.  Psychological Thrillers are among the types of books that tend to really upset my life, but I was willing to give this one a try. Suffice it to say that it turned me upside down and inside out, yet I could not put the book down.

reviewthisreviews.com


My husband would chuckle when I would be getting ready to sleep for the night and be repeating the mantra "It's only a Story!" , over and over again.

This book is a must read for those who like this genre of deeply disturbing mentally challenging type of books. It is haunting but at the same time very understandable and possible.  This book has been read and acclaimed by many authors and found it's way to the New York Times Best New Books List.  It already has over 1500 reviews and is highly recommended  by many different authors.

Author Claudia Dey puts her thoughts on this book as follows:  

“A meteoric debut. Ashley Audrain’s The Push is a force of nature, an unforgettable arrival that will linger in your heart—shimmer, darken and then haunt you. Every sentence is just so achingly alive. Audrain descends with near pointillistic precision into the gore of motherhood and love. Perhaps if Stephen King had experienced motherhood—the singular exaltation and morbid terror of that state—he might have been able to dream up this book. Wise, monstrous, and tender, The Push operates at a different frequency. It seemed to pulse in my hands. I could not put it down. I could not look away.”
—Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker and Stunt

That is the draw of this book, even if you don't like mentally jarring books, you cannot put this one down.  

This book has just been published and it is #6 on Amazon Best Sellers this week.  It is a book that book clubs and mothers will be talking about for a long time.

All of the thoughts on motherhood, marriage, child raising and everything we think we know is in question.  Haunting is a great adjective for this book.  


I haven't really told you any of the story and I don't think I will.  It is one of those books that you just have to get a copy of and read it for yourself.  Trust me, you won't be able to put it down. 

Should you decide to get this book, I'd love to know how you reacted and what you thought. 

**I am a member of NetGalley and as such have access to many books that have not yet been published.  These books are given to members electronically, and the only requirement from members is an honest review!  


Professional Reader


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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Friday, January 29, 2021

Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook Review

The "Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook" is an absolute must for anyone seeking recipes for their Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Cookbook
A few years ago, my parents gave me an Instant Pot.  I really wanted the Instant Pot and was most grateful for the gift.  However, it has taken time for me to find and perfect recipes cooked in the Instant Pot. 

There is a talent for cooking in the Instant Pot that must be developed through experience.  Or, I guess some just cook by faith.  Unlike the stove top or oven, you can't see what is happening.  Therefore, you are cooking "blind" and trusting the pot to get it right for you.

I love to cook, but I don't like wasting my time and food on a recipe that my family cannot eat.  When testing a new recipe, I am careful to choose the timing.  I want to make sure there are dinner alternatives available for us should the recipe end in disaster.

I also love cookbooks!  Some might even say I enjoy collecting cookbooks.  Let's face it, not all recipes in any cookbook are wonderfully perfect for every family.  If I see a few recipes in a cookbook that I want to try, I'll buy it.  Therefore, I do have a very nice collection of cookbooks.

One of my most recent cookbook acquisitions was another gift from my parents.  They gave me two new cookbooks for Christmas this year.  One of them was the "Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook".  My son also gave me two new cookbooks.  Christmas night I was sitting on the couch with my mom pouring over my new cookbooks and getting really excited about testing new recipes.  I have tiny post-its poking out in all of them that mark recipes I want to try, but I started with a recipe from my Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook .


Recipes in the Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook 

 Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook:
Over 100 Recipes Made Easy in the Instant Pot
Check Price
The first meal I cooked was a Cranberry-Mustard Pork Loin.  It was delicious!  We will be having that meal again.  It took less than an hour to prepare and cook the pork loin.  The sauce was quite unique and one I would expect a professional chef to devise.

The second recipe I tried was a little more risky in my opinion.  I've never been keen on mushrooms and the recipe for the Beef Tips called for Portobello mushrooms.  After reading the ingredients and instructions several times, I decided to try it.  After all, I could shove all of mushrooms onto my husband's plate since they are cut into slices.  It just sounded too delicious to pass up.  The Beef Tip recipe is the best new recipe I have cooked in decades!  

The savory beef tips are served over, or alongside, mashed potatoes with the thickened sauce they cooked in.  This meal is so easy to prepare, and again, in an hour.

Both of these meals taste like you spent hours cooking and years to perfect.  They were both fabulous on the first try.  No wasted time or food.  And no need for multiple tests and trials before I got them right.  They were excellent prepared exactly the way the cookbook recipe instructed.

The only concern or challenge I have had with this cookbook is choosing what to cook next!

Beef Tips Instant Pot RecipeBeef Tips Instant Pot RecipeCreamy & Delicious Mashed Potatoes RecipeCreamy & Delicious Mashed Potatoes Recipe


Using the Taste of Home Instant Pot Cookbook 

The inside cover of this cookbook has "flaps" that can be used as bookmarks. I find them extremely helpful, especially when cooking a specific recipe and referring back to the page for more directions.

This cookbook, like all of the Instant Pot cookbooks I have, uses generic terms like "select manual setting".  I don't have a manual on my Instant Pot, but I have learned that means "PressureCook" on my cooker's settings.  I can only assume this varies by brand, model, or age of manufacturing. 

I recommend reading through the recipe completely before you begin cooking so you know what to expect.

I also recommend pre-measuring ingredients and setting them around your pot.  It would be easy to overlook an ingredient in a recipe, but if you have it already sitting out, you will notice it before you close and lock your lid.  Keep in mind, Instant Pot cooking is not like simmering a pot of stew all day.  You can't add a forgotten ingredient an hour into cooking and it not matter.

 

For additional Instant Pot tips, click here and read the section entitled "Instant Pot Use Tips".  
For the Beef Tips Recipe and Preparation Tips mentioned above, click here.





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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review of Folly-A Folly Beach Mystery Book

My Photo of the Morris Island Lighthouse

I just read a book that has all the elements that I find fascinating.  First let me tell you I am a photographer whose favorite subject is lighthouses.  I also enjoy mysteries. This book has all of those things along with a cast of quirky characters that make the book a real page turner.

Summary of Book

 I started reading this book and I was hooked on the very first pages when a photographer sets off to take a photo of the sun rising over a lighthouse.  It just so happens that this lighthouse is the Morris Island Lighthouse, a lighthouse that I too have photographed.  As he is walking down the path to the shore  I can vividly remember myself walking down that same path.  Needless to say my interest was captured right from the beginning.

In this delightful first book of the Folly Beach Mystery Series Chris is taking a month long vacation in Folly Beach South Carolina, a beach town near Charleston.  While Chris is on his first outing to photograph the lighthouse he hears shots fired and discovers a dead body.  The rest of the book is filled with Chris meeting the residents of the small town and discovering some delightful characters along the way.  

When Chris's first rental house is burned he begins to suspect that someone thinks he saw something at the murder site.  Chris does not know what it could be but he becomes determined in discovering who the killer is and why they are targeting him.

Along the way Chris meets a reporter who shows him the sights in Charleston and a love interest develops.  He also meets a quirky character, Charles who calls him "Mr. Photo Man".  

The book has lots of interesting people and wonderful descriptions of both Folly Beach and Charleston.  If you haven't been there they will make you want to go and if like me you've been to both places they make you long to go back.

The Book on Amazon

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.  I highly recommend it for a relaxing and fun read.  As soon as I finished I went and bought book 2 in the series and I can't wait to get started.



My Photos on Zazzle

Here on Zazzle are several of the photographs I took when visiting South Carolina.






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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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Jeffrey Siger's The Mykonos Mob (Island of Secrets) Reviewed

Jeffrey Siger’s The Mykonos Mob

My accidental introduction to Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis via Jeffrey Siger’s tenth book, The Mykonos Mob, came about because of the pandemic. Limiting trips to public places means that my husband has become the designated library picker upper. Most of our library books are requested in advance online and then picked up when they are available but on this particular day I felt like reading something different and my husband left home with instructions to find me something different to read. Maybe something that was recent. Maybe a mystery or a thriller. 

He came home with a number of options including this one, The Mykonos Mob, which follows Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis who leaves Athens for the Greek island of Mykonos. To those not very familiar with Greece, like myself, Mykonos is a Greek island with a thriving tourist industry and a reputation. That is, a reputation for a busy beach scene and lots of nightlife. It is considered an international playground and may not necessarily be the kind of vacation I would be looking for but is interesting as a destination nevertheless.

In this book, Kaldis works to solve the murder of a corrupt former police officer who now runs a protection racket on Mykonos. We meet the main players who include Kaldis, his Special Crimes unit, his wife and an interesting American woman who has transplanted herself to Mykonos and who plays piano in a bar at night and solves local crimes during the day.

As an armchair traveler, I don’t think any of my ‘trips’ have included Greece. This book offered a look at the seedy underbelly of the island but also at some Greek culture. It is not a travel guide nor a travel book per se and some parts of the life reflected in this book might have you thinking you do not want to visit Mykonos but it was interesting to learn about some of the issues of life in Greece and in particular on Mykonos. The author, Jeffrey Siger, left a career as a Wall Street lawyer in New York to live on the Aegean Greek island that is Mykonos and to write books like this one. It is intentional that they share a fast moving story and some real life Greece.

RECOMMENDED?


I enjoyed The Mykonos Mob and yes, I do recommend it. I enjoyed the look into life in Greece, a place that I would like to visit one day, and I liked the main characters. I will be reading the rest of this series. I think this book would suit any man or woman who enjoys a good murder mystery as well as someone with an interest in life in modern-day Greece.

Jeffrey Siger’s Island of Secrets

BOOK LIST


Here’s the order you should read the books. Note that this book, The Mykonos Mob, is number ten in the series. Starting with number ten is not my usual style and I doubt it is yours. Another important note is that the book name was changed to Island of Secrets when it was released in paperback.

Murder in Mykonos
Assassins of Athens
Prey on Patmos
Target
Mykonos After Midnight
Sons of Sparta
Devil of Delphi
Santorini Caesars
An Aegean April
The Mykonos Mob (Island of Secrets in paperback)
A Deadly Twist

Find your Jeffrey Siger book on Amazon in hardcover, paperback or Kindle by clicking right here.

Do you like a good murder mystery?  Have you read any good fiction books set Greece that you would recommend, mystery or otherwise?

See you
at the book store!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Mykonos Mob (or any of Jeffrey Siger’s books) here on Amazon.
Jeffrey Archer’s False Impressions Reviewed.
The Coffee House Mysteries reviewed.
Death Takes A Spin: An Upcycling Mystery reviewed.










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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner – A Book Review


Lisa Gardner has two popular series in her list of suspense novels, the FBI Profiler Series and the Detective D.D. Warren Series. Right Behind You is the seventh (and latest) book in the Pierce Quincy/Rainie Conner FBI Profiler series 


After writing the first six books in her FBI series between 1998 and 2008, Gardner went on to write 11 books in the D.D. Warren series, along with six non-series books. Now she finally returns with another Quincy and Rainie story at the insistence of her long-time fans. THIS fan is delighted, as these characters are my favorite of all her books.


Introduction


Pierce Quincy is now a retired FBI profiler and Lorraine (Rainie) Conner is a retired police detective. They are married and also partners in a Cold Case or weird murders consulting business, helping small local police departments who lack the personnel and equipment to handle a major violent crime. In Right Behind You they have also been foster parents for the past three years to Sharlah, a 13-year-old orphan girl they are soon to adopt.  Suddenly they are involved in a case that hits far too close to home


Synosis


Available on Amazon


As Quincey and Rainie begin to assist their town sheriff with a double murder at a local gas station, more murders are discovered and the suspect appears to be the foster son of a local couple who, it turns out, is also Sharlah's older brother. Eight years ago the brother, 9-year-old Telly Ray Nash, saw his father kill his mother and then come after the children.  Telly beat his knife-wielding drug-addicted and drunken father to death with a baseball bat to save both him and his little sister Sharlah.  


Now 17, Telly is suddenly being blamed for the recent murders. A massive hunt for Telly is launched and Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah?  


Sharlah has her own questions. Is her brother who once saved her life a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final shattering truth. 


Summary


Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner, published in 2017, is available in hardback, in paperback, as an audio book and on Kindle.


*Editor's Pick in Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.


*Interesting Note: Titles cannot be copyrighted in the United States. Therefore, two or more books can have the same title.


Another book by the same title of Right Behind You is by Rachel Abbot and is reviewed here on ReviewThisReviews by Louanne Cox (Lou16).


Quick Links:


*Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner book review written by (c) 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, January 21, 2021

Her Silent Knight (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1) Reviewed

Her Silent Knight Book
Did you know that it is recorded that the Thames River has frozen over 24 times?  Seven of those times, the ice was solid enough that they held a Frost Fair in London.  

The celebrated Frost Fair of 1683-84 featured multiple activities including horse races, football, bowling, ice skating, sledding and more. Vendor booths were set up to sell souvenirs, food and refreshments. Londoner's clearly knew how to quickly make a rare occurrence into a fun festival for all.  

In 1814 (the last Frost Fair), an elephant was led across the ice. Reminiscent of previous frost fairs, there was dancing, ice skating and of course, vendors.  It lasted only 4 days before the ice broke up and several people drowned.

The very real historical Frost Fair of 1814 is the setting of the entire "Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair" series.  This series provides a wonderful look back into history, as well as some really awesome romantic stories. 

First in the series is "Her Silent Knight". It was such a captivating book, that I read it in one night.  Yes, it was nearly 4 am before I went to sleep, but it was worth it!  I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet story.


Her Silent Knight Synopsis

 Her Silent Knight: A Christmas Regency Romance (Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair Book 1)Check PriceSelina Ellis becomes secretly engaged to Noah Skinner, a solicitor who is below her social status. Mr. Skinner would never be considered an acceptable suitor for Selina, especially by her own mother.  But, Selina doesn't care!  She believes she is in love with Mr. Skinner and when he proposes marriage at the Frost Fair, Selina agrees to marry him, even if it means they would be required to elope.  

The couples embrace is witnessed by a childhood friend that Selina hasn't seen in years. When Sir Edmund Sharp recognizes the two people hugging each other, he knows he must find a way to save Selina from the man with a scandalous reputation.  She is young, naive, and clearly unaware of Mr. Skinner's "manipulations". What Sir Edmund cannot immediately figure out is why Mr. Skinner would pursue a lady with no inheritance. Upon her father's death, their home and money was entailed to a distant relative since Mr. Ellis has no sons.  That left Selina and her mother living on a meager stipend.

Sir Edmund agrees to keep Selina's secret if she will make sure he is invited to spend the Christmastide (the 12 days of Christmas) in her home. The request makes sense because his grandmother recently died and he has no other family in London. Selina's mother had always adored Edmund, plus she saw him as the perfect suitor for Selina. Therefore, securing an invitation for Christmastide was not difficult at all.

Now, Sir Edmund only has to figure out how to separate Selina from Mr. Skinner.  That won't be as easy as Sir Edmund had originally thought since Mr. Skinner has possession of Edmund's grandmothers will. Skinner is willing to do whatever is necessary to keep Sir Edmund from interfering in his relationship with Selina.




 

"Her Silent Knight" is a sweet story of love, chivalry, and childhood loyalties embedded in an enchanting historical fiction, set in the fantastic short-lived Frost Fair on the Thames River in London.  It is the first book in the Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair series shown below.

All but one of these authors are new to me.  I love that when it happens in a co-op series!

 

 Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair (5 Book Series)Check Price



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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Heart of a Runaway Girl - A Book Review

Heart of a Runaway Girl is a novel that keeps you turning pages!

Trevor Wiltzen is the author of this book and he has made it available to me pre-publishing for an honest review! 


Heart of a Runaway Girl is his debut novel featuring Mabel, a single mom, with a penchant for "reading" people.  She's a hard working mom, whose own life is difficult given her circumstances, but that doesn't stop her from helping someone in need.

Blue River is the community where she lives with her two sons and her niece.  She has a full plate with her family and the motel/restaurant that she runs.

The two biggest employers in the town are the mines and the sawmill.  Both see their share of casual laborers who come and go as the wind may blow.

In the midst of all this, Mabel still has time to get to know and observe the comings and goings in her small town.

What she doesn't like is that this town also has a dark side.  There is one school with about 30 kids and each one of those kids wants to leave town as soon as they can.  There just isn't anything here for them.  




The town is ripe for a drug dealer to get his contraband into the hands of people looking for some fun.  With only one law enforcement officer in town, drug dealers are able to go about their "business" unchecked.  The dark side seems to have the right to do whatever it wants, with a blind eye turned in their direction.

Enter a young man and his girlfriend.  Things are not quite right with these two.  During a meeting of the two in the restaurant, Mabel notices both of them and wonders what is going on.  The young lady is sad, angry and upset, while the young man is at a loss at what to do.

Trouble begins when it's the last time she is seen alive.    

Winston (the young man) the last person she has been seen with, is picked up and charged with her murder.

But Mabel, having watched the two of them together is convinced that there is NO WAY that Winston did what they allege he did.  Deep in her heart, she knows that this young man is being railroaded by a bunch of bigots and bullies.

Oh Winston is no saint, that's true, but he's not capable of committing the heinous crime he has been charged with.  Mabel just can't sit by and watch this young man's life go to waste.  No one else seems to care what happens to him!



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I don't want to give away too much of the story, but suffice it to say that this book was an enjoyable book to read. 

Since I was given the book, it has now been published and you can get it for yourself on Amazon.ca or  on Amazon.com.  This book is available either in Kindle or paperback form on either site.

If you enjoy the book you can go to Trevor Wiltzen's Website and sign up for his newsletter so that you will be the first to know when his new books are coming out!  




  



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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Devoted by Dean Koontz – A Book Review

 

Long-time fans of Dean Koontz know he is a dog-lover and, in particular, of Golden Retrievers. He has written 3 books from the point of view of Trixie, the first Golden that he and wife, Gerda, owned, plus a memoir about Trixie after her death.  Today they live with their Golden Retriever Elsa and the enduring spirits of Goldens Anna and Trixie.


All of us Koontz fans have read Watchers, which featured a very smart Golden Retriever. All together, Dean Koontz has written four novels where one of the main characters is a dog.  Now, with Devoted, he again features a very special Golden Retriever around whom the story revolves. 




Cast of Characters:


Woody Bookman – an 11-year-old boy who has never spoken a word. Woody has been diagnosed with a rare form of autism, although he is also a high-functioning autodidact with a high IQ. He taught himself to read at age 4 and was reading at the college level by age 7. He is also an accomplished computer hacker. 


Megan Bookman – Woody's mother, who loves him with all her heart.  Widowed at age 30, she is an artist whose paintings are quickly gaining a following. She doesn't really care whether critical acclaim waxes or wans; she's just grateful to have discovered that there was life after life after her first life ended with the death of her husband, Jason. Now her art and her child are enough for her. Keeping her boy safe and happy is what matters. 


Kipp – a uniquely gifted dog with a heart as golden as his breed. Kipp is devoted beyond reason to people. When he hears the boy who communicates like he does, without speaking, Kipp knows he needs to find him before it's too late. 


Lee  Shacker – The villain protagonist.


The Plot


A Mother, A Boy, and a Dog Against the Night


Woody believes his father's death was not an accident. He believes a tremendous evil was behind it and now threatens him and his mother.  As Woody gathers information through his computer skills and his suspicions take shape, an evil man sets a depraved plan into motion. And he's coming after Woody and his mother. Only a force greater than evil can stop what is coming next.


One boy with the power to save the world. One man with the will to destroy it.  ~Google Books


Other Dean Koontz Books Featuring Dogs


Watchers, Fear Nothing, and its sequel Seize the Night, and The Darkest Evening of the Year.


Summary



Devoted by Dean Koontz


Devoted was published in March, 2020. If you love mysteries or thrillers with dogs and children and great writing, you will love this book. I  found it fascinating and impossible to put down.


Dean Koontz writing has the ability to show the extremes of good and evil, and the overwhelming power of love.


Book Facts:


Originally published: March 31, 2020

Author: Dean Koontz

Genres: Suspense, Thriller, Horror fiction


*Available in hardcover, paperback, audio book and on Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.


Book Review of Devoted written by (c) Wednesday Elf.








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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

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