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

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Gift Ideas



I LIKE BIG BOOKS AND I CANNOT LIE


You other readers can't deny
When a good book walks in with
A good plot base
And a big spine in your face
You get sprung!
Wanna get out your notepads
'Cause you noticed that book
Was dense.
Deep in the book I'm reading,
I'm hooked and I can't stop
Speeding, through Baby
I wanna get that literature,
And Instagram that picture,
My teachers try to train me
But that book you've got
Makes me so brainy!
(Baby got books!)


I know the meme is not new. It started with the reworking of a song called Baby Got Back, which was about an obsession with a part of a woman’s anatomy. The new version, Baby Got Books, embraces the love of books and has spawned the creation of endless videos and creative versions of the lyrics.

Yes, I love to read as is evidenced by the reviews I have written here on Review This and yes, I like big books. Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, anyone? That one will keep you reading for awhile.

Drawn in at first by the cover and the thickness of the spine, if a book is engrossing and if it offers up a good plot with intriguing characters and an interesting setting, I am definitely going to be found curled up with a throw blanket, a cup of tea and the book in question. Live a different life via a book? Heck, yes! Learn by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes? For sure and the bigger the book, the better.

Anyway, if you or someone you know loves books and suffers from Big-Book-Picker-Outer Syndrome, you will be interested in this page of fabulous and fun gift ideas all of which are available from Etsy and all of which contain the quote, I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie. There is something here for everyone!

T-SHIRTS


Let’s start with a t-shirt. I believe that they are practical and useful gifts and that they are a great way to declare to the world that you love to read and of course, they are available for both men and women in a variety of sizes and colors.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Men's T-Shirt

I Like Big Books Women's T-Shirt


HOME DECOR


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Cushion

I found a number of options for your home décor including this cushion and two art posters. The cushion is available in a wide range of sizes and in three fairly neutral colors. Be aware that you are buying the cover and will have to provide the actual cushion for inside. Find the cushion cover here in Modernality's Home Decor shop on Etsy.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Print

Upcycled I Like Big Books Quotation Print

The first poster is a digital download for you to print at home. It features all of the words to the rewritten song. You can buy it and print it almost instantly at home, if you have the capability to do so, or at your print shop.  Find it in Doodling for Days' Etsy shop here. The second picture is an upcycled print that features the title of the song printed on an old dictionary page. You can find it in Whisker Print's Etsy shop here. Both are very appropriate artwork, I think, for book lovers!

COFFEE MUGS


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Coffee Mug

If you know me, you know I have a fascination with coffee mugs and mugs as gift ideas. So many fun images that are customizable to the interest of the recipient. In this case, I love the perfectly nerdy design on both of these mugs, the first more appropriate for the female nerd and the second an acceptable choice for a male or the female book nerd. The ceramic mug shown above is both microwave and dishwasher safe but the tin one shown below requires hand washing and is not microwave safe but it is also not breakable. You can find the first mug in Foxy Mug's Etsy shop here and the second mug in Rabbit Print's shop here.

I Like Big Books Coffee Mug


ENAMEL PIN AND UPCYCLED BOOKMARK

I Like Big Books Enamel Pin


I think that both the enameled pin shown above and the upcycled bookmark shown below are totally adorable. They would be great add-ons to any book lover’s gift, make a wonderful stocking stuffer or even make a simple, inexpensive gift idea for someone who you know loves books. Find the pin here in Literary Emporium's shop and the bookmark here in Stamp and Soul's shop.

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Bookmark


TOTE BAG


I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Tote Bag

Finally, gather the components of your gift set together and ‘wrap’ them up in this simple, attractive and inexpensive canvas tote bag. It is more practical and environmentally friendly than wrapping paper and will make many, many trips to the library and the bookstore! Find it in the Sewing Laboratory.

How about it? Do you love big books or do you prefer your books short and sweet?

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Follow this link to Etsy’s Gift Guide and yes, if you purchase a product through a link on this page, I may receive a small affiliate commission.
How to Build a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Gift Set.
How to Build a Frosty the Snowman Gift Set.










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, December 3, 2019

Reviewing Progress On A Series

Author's Progress Report

A few weeks ago, I reviewed my plans for next year as far as my writing journey goes. I thought it might be fun to give a bit of a progress report on how that is going. I mentioned that I would be introducing a few new series as I move forward. One that will be introduced first is the series that will involve a Babbs Bennett Mystery.

progress on series
Series progress
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Introducing Babbs Bennett

So, my plan is to publish one book a month next year and I'm already working on achieving my goal. The first book to be published in January will be Valentine Vengeance. You will be introduced to Barbara Bennett who is affectionately called Babbs by her family and friends. She is a retired librarian who has returned to her hometown to help her cousin Harlan Holiday as he recuperates from an accident. 

Harlan owns a book store in the small town of Appleton, Indiana. Babbs plans to see to his recovery while running the book store for him in his absence. The two were born only 9 days apart 67 years ago which makes their relationship more like brother and sister than cousins. On her first visit to check on her cousin, he tells her that he didn't fall but was pushed into a ravine. He also mentions a girl who died some 50 years ago. Babbs suspects that the pain medication he is on is causing him to have some rather wild dreams that he thinks are real. 

As the days begin to pass by in the story, readers will be introduced to a cast of characters that I hope they will love as much as I do. Readers will meet Sydney Miller a special needs girl of 16 who comes to Holiday Books each day after school. She believes she is working for Mr. H but there is actually a different reason she comes to the shop each day. 

Babbs has kept in touch with her three best friends over the years and soon asks them to help her solve a 50 year old cold case from their own past. Marjorie, Lizzie (Elizabeth), and Cilla (Priscilla) agree to help her try to figure out what happened to the beautiful girl all those years ago while trying to see if there is a connection to the accident Harlan has experienced. You will have to read the book when it is released to find out what happens and if the Fearless Four can solve the mystery.

Moving ahead...

I have finished writing Valentine Vengeance and even have a cover design for it. I will try to release it as close to January 1st as is possible. Currently I'm working on book 2 of the Babbs Bennett series which I plan to release in February. 

As an author, I enjoy all of the characters that I write about. I must admit that I have really had some fun with Babbs and her friends, we are all the same age. The character of Cilla makes me laugh! I'm hoping my readers will love everyone in the books, too. 

I know many of our regular readers have read at least some of my books already but if you haven't you can find them on my Author's Page on Amazon. I hope if you have read any of my books, you will take the time to leave a review on Amazon. It only takes a second of your time and means so much to me. Reviews help other readers decide whether they want to read the book or not, that is why they are so important. 






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Friday, November 29, 2019

The Captured Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 3 in the Series


The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Book 3 Reviewed
Every book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series is fabulous!

I started reading through this series several weeks ago. I wasn't sure how cohesive the series would be since the books were individually written by different authors.  The first book, The Mayflower Bride, was written by Kimberley Woodhouse, a new author to me.  The second book, The Pirate Bride, was written by Kathleen Y'Barbo.  I have read several books by Y'Barbo, therefore I knew it would be a great book.  The subject of today's review, The Captured Bride, was written by Michelle Griep, another new author to me.

Thus far, I have loved every book in this series and I have been thrilled to find new authors (to me) that I can trust to offer excellence in writing without explicit, gory, or less desirable content.  Simply, pure literary entertainment that is well worth reading.



Background on the Daughters of the Mayflower Series


As you may already know, or have guessed, these books are filled with American history references and characters.  The historical accuracy is part of what makes them so fascinating.

Starting at the beginning of American history with the Mayflower, the authors have created a family lineage that carries down through each book.  In the Mayflower Bride, Mary Elizabeth Chapman marries William Lytton, thus the beginning of the subsequent stories.

Each book places a Lytton descendant in a pivotal, or important, place in the history of America.  The characters and plots are all compelling. Even though the series was written by different authors, the books have a cohesive thread.  I can detect a bit of author individual style in the books, but it is not so obvious that it is detracting from the stories. 


Daughters of the Mayflower Series - Books



The Captured Bride Book Synopsis
1760 - French & Indian War


One could hardly write a series about American history and omit the American Indian heritage.  

 The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower -
Book 3
Check Price
Mercy Lytton is the daughter of a Mohawk Indian and a captive white mother.  Because of her mixed race, Mercy has loyalties to both the English and her Native American tribe, which are aligned against the French.  Her keen eyesight and ability to move throughout the woods without detection make her the perfect scout for the English.  For years, Mercy has worked closely with Captain Matthew Prinn.  She scouts and he has her back, always protecting her.  

Mercy and Matthew are assigned to transport gold from one fort to another.  Since it must be moved by wagon, they are to pose as a father, daughter and husband.  However, who is the husband?  Much to Mercy's disdain, her designated "husband" is a prisoner of French heritage.  They are instructed to never give Elias Dubois a gun.  He is simply being transported along with the gold.  

On their journey, it becomes necessary to form a fragile alliance with one another in order to survive, but Matthew & Mercy are hesitant to fully trust Elias.  They hold to their orders and refuse to give him a gun.  However, Elias proves to be a formidable foe without a rifle.  Unbeknownst to them, Elias has his own agenda that, for now, is served well by being aligned with the traveling scouts. 

At least, that is his plan until the unthinkable happens!



My Personal Opinion of "The Captured Bride"


I always love a book that surprises me and holds me captive.  Thus was the case with "The Captured Bride". 

While the name of the book gives some expectation of what must take place, the how, who and why, was still rather unforeseen.  This book takes the reader on a journey of their own, full of adventure, intrigue and completely unexpected events.  

Yes, I was fighting sleep because I simply had to keep reading.  It was a sad moment, yet satisfying, when I realized I had read the last word. 

As I said earlier, this author was previously unknown to me.  However, after reading "The Captured Bride", I will be seeking out more of her books.  As for "The Captured Bride", I highly recommend this book!



The Daughters of the Mayflower Series





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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How to Encourage Pre-Teens with Angst Issues-A Book Review

Being thankful when your hormones are raging can be down right difficult or near impossible.

Navigating the waters of growing up can be difficult at times.  There will be moments of joy, for sure, but, there will also be times when whatever you say will NOT be the right thing to say, no matter what!

We have all heard the saying "Little Children, Little problems, Big Children, Big Problems".  During this Thanksgiving time, we all look back and remember the good times.  Mixed in with those good times are some of the challenging moments in our lives that we would all like to forget.  Everyone has had their share of both!

When our children are going through their own "tough" times, we look for help to get them through these sometimes painful episodes of growing up.

Getting lost in a book can sometimes be the way to unlock some truths that our preteens and teens need to understand.  To that end I'm going to recommend two books that I feel are great and written especially for this age group.  Middle schoolers (Grades 4 to 8) are just starting to feel their way around life.  Yet there can be curves in the road.  Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling (she holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education)   will open up some doors to many situations that children may already be experiencing.  Making friends, being a friend and going through life's experiences with those friends starts in Grade School.  *It actually starts much earlier, but is usually done with parental supervision.*  Grade School is where children start making choices for themselves without the watchful eyes of a parent or guardian.  What you have taught them will come into play when they are out on their own for the first time.   Understanding that everyone is different and accepting those differences will make life for our children much more interesting and exciting.  Learning to see through eyes that accept people for who they are will open doors to friendships that you may never have thought possible.  Today, we are encouraging everyone to include those who are different or have abilities that are unlike our own.  Diversity has always been part of our lives, yet, we have failed many times to celebrate that diversity.  Let's help our children now, by teaching empathy and decency for everyone they come in contact with.



Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is the first book in a series of 2 books!  Each book stand on it's own merit, but as a series, they are even better.    The second book (Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus), opens up some new life events for our main character "Aven"!  These events throw her for a loop. Moving from Middle School to High School  is never easy.  New friends and new experiences are opening up for everyone!  But when you are Aven, this might not be something to look forward to.  It's like starting all over again!



Explaining yourself over and over again to anyone is no fun.  Aven, our main character was born without arms.  That has not stopped her from doing all kinds of things that we take for granted.  Her adoptive parents are encouraging her all the time to do things for herself, even though it may be different than the way they do things.  Using her feet like arms, Aven does indeed manage to do all the things that able bodied people do. It may take her longer to accomplish some tasks, but she manages anyways. High school though, is a whole new world.  While everyone is trying to learn the ropes of being in High School, our main character finds herself even more alone and struggling to find her place in this new situation.  The only constant in Aven's world right now is her friend who is also "different".  He looks out for Aven and helps her with some daily tasks to make school easier for her.  Aven looks out for him too!  They both know they are different, but are ready to accept each other and others too.    When you are different, you stand out among the crowd.  Teens in High School often do not welcome "standing out" or being different.

Add hormones to the mix and you get a volatile situation at times.  If you are not a strong person to begin with, this can knock you down and send you into a dark place.  Self doubt, and anguish take the place of joy and excitement.  All of a sudden stomach aches, headaches and fear rule the teen's life.  Parents need to be aware that stress in teens can take the form of real pain.

Being able to talk about their anxiety and angst is one of the biggest ways we can help our children.  Giving them books to read with messages of encouragement and acceptance is a way to open doors to discuss their own personal "issues".

Our children (of all ages) need to know that we are supporting them in their everyday experiences and that they can talk to us about anything.  If you want more information on Mental Health Issues in Teens there is a great article by HealthyChildren.org 

Opening doors to communication is the best way to keep our children learning about themselves and their peers.  Whether they are able bodied, disabled, gifted, special needs or just plain awesome, we need to celebrate our Diversity and accept everyone for who they are.

Let's all make pre-teen and teen angst a thing of the past.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may you celebrate your Similarities and your Diversities with Joy!




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Monday, November 25, 2019

Favorite TV Show Cookbooks

I love finding new recipes and I particularly love finding home cooking family recipes! Cooking shows have become quite a business with channels devoted to cooking 24/7, but are the recipes good?

I separate TV Show Cooks from Celebrity Cooks as cooks who became popular because of their TV show versus a celebrity introducing a cookbook as part of their brand.



Defining a good recipe is of course subjective, but some of the main components for me of a good recipe include: easy, real ingredients, affordable and authentic. I'll never forget one of the first recipes I tried from a TV show tasted wonderful; however it was one of the most time consuming recipes I have ever made with expensive ingredients I had to search the city to obtain. Easy and affordable it was not.

However, I am now a more seasoned cook and recipe evaluator and always love a 'good' cookbook. There is still nothing like a full size cookbook to give or receive; the internet is quick and convenient to find recipes, but is not the same experience of reading a cookbook.

There are a few TV Show Cookbooks I regularly visit and find the recipes promise as deliver. I also am a fan of their TV Show and regularly watch their shows.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Home Cooking With Trisha Yearwood 

Love these recipes! I am a fan of Trisha's family recipes. I also enjoy watching the cooking show with Trisha.

Home Cooking is full of family recipes made with recognizable ingredients, but with their family tweak on
the recipes.

Yummy southern cooking!



Fun snack recipe >> Sweet And Saltines Recipe




In The Kitchen With David: Comfort Foods That Take You Home

David Venable is QVC's Foodie and cooking show host. I stumbled upon David's show and the show became a favorite as I love to look at the new kitchen gadgets; unfortunately for QVC I am a watcher not a buyer, but did purchase and enjoy David's cookbook.


 Who said comfort food!

All recipes are easy and true comfort food.

When I am searching for an old or new comfort food recipe I turn to this cookbook for ideas.

David's classic recipe >> Mashed Potatoes Three Ways






Pioneer Woman A Year Of Holidays

I am a fan of the Pioneer Woman. Real ingredients with no apologies. There is a place for real butter, real cream and all things comfort food (in moderation of course!)

What is nice about this cookbook is the organization by holiday.

A Year Of Holidays is a great resource for traditional and perhaps new ideas for your holiday menu.

All meals of a holiday are covered in each chapter which is so clever and reader friendly.

A favorite Pioneer Woman recipe >> Perfect Pot Roast Recipe






Any of these three cookbooks make a great gift for your favorite cook! Bon Appetit!




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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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