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

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Book Review of 'Ashley Bell' by Dean Koontz

 

Ashley Bell novel book cover

Plot Synopsis


Ashley Bell book cover
Bibi Blair, a funny, clever and fierce young woman – a writer by trade – is a girl who said 'no' to death.  When her doctor told her she had one year to live, Bibi replied “We'll see!”

And, suddenly, she is completely free of the rare, and fatal, brain cancer she has been diagnosed with. Bibi astounds medical science.

After returning home from the hospital, Bibi meets a mysterious woman who convinces her that she escaped death so she can save someone else; someone named Ashley Bell

Who is Ashley Bell, where is she, and why does Bibi Blair have to find ~ and save ~ her?

Bibi now finds herself on the run from threats that are both mystical and ordinary. It all appears to stem from a rich and very strange cult leader who has terrifying ambitions. One of his aims is to kill Ashley Bell. 


Summary


Bibi Blair is a delightful character whose story is told in sections. There is the present time when she is 22, on the verge of becoming a successful writer, and engaged to Pax, a Navy Seal, plus her friendship with her childhood surfing friend, Pogo. And there is the past when she is first 6-years-old, and we learn all about her special friendship with The Captain, who rents the garage apartment at her parent's home. And later at age 10 when 'Olaf' the Golden Retriever suddenly appears one afternoon and becomes Bibi's faithful companion. 

Bibi also has been writing stories since she was a child and this fact becomes very important as the plot unfolds. The story flips back and forth between 'young' Bibi and present-day Bibi. 

This is a fast-paced story with a fascinating heroine who has a good heart and a troubling gift we learn about in a twisting plot filled with many surprises. A suspenseful thriller with a mystery to solve.

Ashley Bell was published in 2015 (and somehow missed by me until now). It is listed by Amazon as Book 1 of 1 in the Ashley Bell series. I just discovered that Koontz also wrote a Trilogy entitled Darkest Desires: The Makani Trilogy, which leads into the Ashley Bell series. Darkest Desires is available in Audible Book form. 


For more Book Reviews on ReviewThisReviews
Check out ReviewThisBooks.com 


Links to other Reviews of books by Dean Koontz:



*Book Review of Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz written by Wednesday Elf.

 

Ashley Bell book cover
Available on Amazon
in four different formats





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.”


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Book Review of 'Love You More'

Who do you love and how far would you go to save her?


A D.D. Warren novel by Lisa Gardner


Image of a mother & daughter walking in the woods


Synopsis


'Love You More' book cover
The Massachusetts State Police are called to the residence of Tessa Leoni, a young State Trooper from their barracks. Her husband lies dead on their kitchen floor and Tessa claims she has shot him in self-defense. Her bruises and injuries appear to back up her tale. But the worst part is that her six-year-old daughter, Sophie, is missing.


Because the state police cannot investigate one of their own, Detective D.D. Warren of the Boston Police Department is called in to handle the homicide investigation. Bobby Dodge, investigator for the State Police (and D.D.'s former lover) is assigned as liaison to work with Detective Warren. Bobby's input is helpful in seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper's mind.  Would a trained police officer shoot her own husband and would a mother harm her own child?  


Tessa is hospitalized for her injuries and is represented by her Union Rep and a lawyer and is not immediately available for questioning. The investigation into how and why Tessa's husband, Brian Darby, was shot three times mid-torso with Tessa's own police revolver is nearly stalled while they wait for Tessa to be able to answer their questions.


Image of an Amber Alert sign


An Amber Alert is put out state-wide for Sophie while D.D. And Bobby try to sort out the crime scene.


Meanwhile, for Tessa Leoni, the worst has yet to happen. She has nowhere to turn and trusts no one even as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. Tessa has one goal in sight and uses her training  to do what must be done. Because ~ a mother knows who she loves!


Summary


Love You More is Book 5 of 11 in Lisa Gardner's D.D. Warren suspense novels series. 


This story features two very believable female protagonists. Trooper Leoni tells us her own story in the first person while Warren's investigation is narrated in the third-person. Tessa Leoni's motives are discovered as the story continues, but her passion and conviction draw us in even before we know whether she is guilty or innocent. The reader roots for Warren and Dodge to make sure justice is done, but we cannot argue with Tessa's absolute drive to find her daughter.


Fans of Gardner's D.D. Warren series will definitely enjoy reading Love You More.


*Love You More Book Review is written by Wednesday Elf.


'Love You More' book cover
Available on Amazon






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.”


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Why Book Authors End a Favorite Series

 A review of a few favorite authors of fiction series and why they wrote a final one.


A Shelf of Books


What is a Book Series?


In fiction, a series typically shares a common setting, timeline or set of characters. They are usually found in genre fiction, such as my favorite, crime fiction (murder mysteries, police procedurals, etc.). A series can be any length, the most common one being a Trilogy. 


When a fan of a book series discovers a favorite author has ended the long loved series, there is first disappointment that there will not be any more. And one wonders why the series has to end. 


Margaret Maron, author of the 9-book Sigrid Harald series and her 20 Deborah Knott novels explained it best in a 2017 interview. 


I've said almost everything there is to say (about her characters) and I don't want to start repeating myself. Margaret also admitted that she was more than ready to be done with deadlines.


I feel the way many other fans of novel series such as Maron's books felt when faced with the final book featuring favorite characters; I wish they could go on forever. But Margaret Maron was 76 years old when she wrote her final Deborah Knott book Long Upon The Land. And she  died in 2021 at age 82. She gave all her long-time fans terrific memories that will continue on in her books. 


More Endings


A few more of my favorite authors of series who have ended long series are worth mentioning here. 


Faye Kellerman


Faye Kellerman's 'The Hunt' novel
I just finished reading Faye Kellerman's The Hunt – Book 27 of 27 in her: Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. On the dedication page, Kellerman states that this is the final book in this series.


I've been a fan since Book #1 – The Ritual Bath – published in 1986. Twenty-seven books in 37 years. Quite a record. I can see that there is not much else to say about these wonderful characters, but they will be dearly missed. I've followed Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus since they met, then married, through their kids growing up and getting married. Now that these favorite characters are grandparents and author Faye Kellerman is 70 years old, I can understand why Book #27 has become her final one in the series, but I'll still miss them. Luckily I can re-read them any time I want. One of the joys of book collections. 


Sue Grafton


A Sue Grafton novel
One of my deepest reading regrets is that Sue Grafton – she of the Private Eye Kinsey Millhone “Alphabet” series – is that she didn't live long enough to finish the series. I've been a big fan since 1982 when I met the character 'Kinsey' in “A is for Alibi”. Grafton died in 2017 at age 77 before she could write the Z book. So her series ended with “Y is for Yesterday”. I own every one from A through Y and recently reread them all. 




John D. MacDonald


A Travis McGee novel by John D. MacDonald
The very first time I realized that a series could end was in 1985. I had recently joined a book subscription service and you could choose 4 books for a low starter price. I had picked out 3 books I wanted to have and for the 4th book chose a book by an author new to me. The book was the Lonely Silver Rain (1985) by John D. MacDonald. I fell  in love with the main character Travis McGee and immediately became a fan. Come to find out, that book was #21 in the series and was published just a year before MacDonald died at age 70. It was not intended to be the final novel in the series. I was terribly disappointed to discover such a wonderful writer of a character that was so fascinating would not be writing any more Travis McGee novels. Eventually I acquired every one of the previous 20 Travis McGee novels – all with a color in the title - and enjoy them to this day.  Some were difficult to find since the first Travis McGee novel was written in 1964, but used book stores and, later, eBay and Amazon were a good source for out-of-print books. 


Endings Are Also Beginnings...


The End image
Image Source: Pixabay


Over the years I have collected all the books in favorite series by favorite authors. It is delightful to me to reread a series beginning with the first book and continuing book after book until the last one. Many people say they don't like reading this way, but I love being able to stay with the characters I love one book after another. If I really like an author, like their style and the characters they have created, I enjoy staying with them until I have read/reread them all. Currently, I have over 8 different authors' complete series. Additionally I have many non-series novels by favorite authors. I haven't counted the number of books I own, but suffice it to say that during year one of the panendemic when my local library was closed, I re-read every book I own. Kept me going for many months! 


Summary


So there you have it – the reasons why authors end a series. Either the series has reached it's natural lifespan or the author has retired or died. But each series has given me a wealth of memories and a great deal of enjoyment.


For more book reviews, click on
ReviewThisBooks.com 


*Book Review of book series ending by Wednesday Elf

 Long Upon the Land: A Deborah Knott MysteryCheck Price The Hunt: A Decker/Lazarus Novel (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Book 27)Check Price Y is for Yesterday
(A Kinsey Millhone Novel
Book 25)
Check Price
 The Lonely Silver Rain by John D. MacDonald(March 12, 1985) HardcoverCheck Price

 





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.”


Saturday, February 25, 2023

Cold Cold Bones – Book Review

 A Temperance Brennan Novel by Kathy Reichs


A cold winter scene


Kathy Reichs' books in her series about Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist in Charlotte, North Carolina and Quebec Canada, have fascinated me for years. Reichs has written 21 books in the series (The Bone Code #20 was reviewed here on ReviewThisReviews). Cold Cold Bones is her latest (#21) in the series.


Cold Cold Bones Synopsis


Cold Cold Bones is a novel by Kathy Reichs
As the story begins, it is wintertime in North Carolina. Tempe (Temperance Brennan) is enjoying a light work schedule at the Charlotte, NC Medical Examiner's office due to a drop in crime. This gives her time to dote on her daughter, Katy, who has just returned to civilian life from a stint in the army.  Meeting up at Tempe's place for dinner together, Tempe and Katy discover a box on the back porch containing a very fresh human eyeball. 


Enlisting the help of detective Erskins “Skinny” Slidell, retired but still volunteering with the Charlotte Police Department's cold case unit, they follow a lead left with the eyeball to a Benedictine monastery where they then discover the head the eyeball came from. Shortly afterwards, a mummified corpse is discovered in a nearby state park.


Eventually joined by Tempe's Montreal-based boyfriend, Andrew Ryan, who is now working as a private detective, the 3 discover a series of gruesome killings which strangely appear to reenact several of Tempe's prior cases. 


As elaborately staged deaths continue, each mimicking one of her earlier cases, Tempe is at a loss to find a motive for them... and then her daughter disappears! 


Summary


Tempe Brennan appears to be targeted, but she cannot figure out who, or why. It seems as though revisiting the past may be the only way to unravel the present. 


Cold Cold Bones is a suspenseful whodunit novel of revenge which will keep you guessing until the last pages. 


Related Links:



*Book Review of Cold Cold Bones written by Wednesday Elf

 Cold, Cold Bones (A Temperance Brennan Novel Book 21)Check Price

 




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.”


Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Tobacco Wives- Book Review

 

woman in fields
The Tobacco Wives- A Book Review

This thought-provoking historical novel takes us to North Carolina in 1946.  We are introduced to a small town that is reliant on the tobacco industry and the pride the community takes in the industry. During the war the community survived by the women taking the place of the men who normally worked in the tobacco factories. We are also introduced to the wealthy women who are the wives of the tobacco company executives.

The Book on Amazon



The Story

We are introduced to the community of Bright Leaf by Maddie, a young girl who is brought to live with her Aunt Etta. Maddie has visited her aunt in the summers for several years and has learned from her how to be a seamstress.  This year, however, is different when her mother unexpectedly drops her off much earlier at a time when Etta is very busy sewing gowns for the wealthy women to wear to the annual Gala. When Aunt Etta suddenly falls ill, Maddie is tasked with being the lead dressmaker and in getting all of the gowns ready for the Gala.  

Maddie is enjoying her challenge as the dressmaker and even starting to feel comfortable working with the wealthy women of Bright Leaf till she discovers some of the secrets of the small town. She now has to worry about how much she should say and just who she can trust.

This book is a very interesting look at activism of women in the post war era and how the freedom they were given during the war years changes how they see life.    It is a book that shows the courage of a young woman and the challenges she faces.

My Recommendation

I really enjoyed this book and once I got started felt I could not put it down.  Maddie was such a delightful character who became real in the pages of the book.  I would highly recommend this book and also feel it would be a great book to read in with a book club.





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.”


Monday, February 20, 2023

Book Review: Alaska by James Michener

Alaska is an epic novel by James Michener that spans an unimaginable length of time and describes Alaska and it's people from the beginning. From the formation of mountains and land masses to Mastodons to modern times. As soon as I pick up where I left off in the story I find myself surrounded by the people in the unique land that eventually became a U.S state.

Alaska by James Michener


Introduction by Steve Berry

Steve Berry explains how he came to read his first James Michener novel then goes on to tells us a bit about James Michener the man and author. Michener was reportedly an orphan, adopted by Mabel Michener. He lived in poverty in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for at least a portion of his childhood. Then as a young adult, he traveled the country by train (in boxcars to be more specific) and found odd jobs. James Michener wrote his autobiography in 1991 titled The World is My Home. He attributes his curiosity about people and their lands. I feel that his curiosity about people, their cultures, and their lands as well as his love of travel shines through his writing.

Fact and Fiction

Alaska is a historical novel. Fiction. But based in fact. The Fact and Fiction chapter explains some of the examples in which fact and fiction come together. For example, it is widely accepted that the order of the arrival of humans in Alaska was The Athapascans first, followed by the Eskimos then followed by the Aleuts (with the Tlinglits being offshoots of the Athapascans). But the time of their arrival is unclear and possibly somewhere between 12,000 B.P.E and 40,000 to 30,000 B.P.E.

Alaska by James Michener

This novel has me hooked. I am writing this before I've finished the novel but due to the length, I feel that's acceptable. 

Michener describes how the land was likely formed. How the collision of plates created the Aleutian Islands and the mountains of Alaska. How the Mastodons and Mammoths arrived, lived, and perished in the area. The arrival of humans. And how conflict begins as soon as different groups live in proximity of each other. As time moves on, we learn about the Russians who settle there under Tsar Peter the Great and how others such as Vitus Bering and Georg Stellar explore the area. The story goes on to include the introduction of different religions; Shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy, and eventually Christianity. The area transfers from Russian ownership to American. Then comes the Gold Rush and moves on to more recent places and events. 

I wish I could write the review this story deserves. I can't. Some online reviews describe the beginning of the book as slow and hard to get through. For me, I enjoyed thinking about the massive number of years that it took for the land to form over time, mountains being sent to great highs due to the movement of the plates and volcanos forming due to the geographical events that are beyond my comprehension. 

I am amazed that Alaska was settled at all. People walked to get there. They rode in tiny kayaks to hunt whale for survival and to change their location Conflict, war, and slavery occurred long before I had imagined. Larger ships began to move people up the Yukon and into the land but became frozen in the ice and stranded for months until the thaw. Humans have gone through a lot to find and keep a home.

The writing is beautiful. 

"And each one was formed by some segment of the Pacific Plate bulldozing it's way into the North American Plate, submerging along the edge, and causing such tremendous commotion and movement of forces that the great mountains erupted as a consequence. When one looks at the glorious mountains of Alaska he sees proof of the power of the Pacific Plate as it noses its way north and east... "

"The ten children were like a collection of colorful flowers, for the clothes they wore were varied in design and color. Some wore short tunics with stripes of white and blue, others long robes and heavy boots, but all wore in their hair some ornament, some flashing bit of shell or ivory" 

I find myself cheering on the adventurers, crying with those who have suffered loss, and booing the villains. All while learning how Alaska became a place where humans chose to call home.

I have two regrets with reading this book.  First, I regret that I don't have more time that I can dedicate to getting comfy in a chair and reading for days upon days. Second, I'm not sure that starting this novel during my winter holiday break was the best choice. My area was hit with a powerful ice storm that wrecked havoc in our county followed by an Arctic blast that was most uncomfortable. Choosing to read Alaska during that time frame was almost as bad as choosing to read Jaws before going to an ocean beach for the first time. Other than those two things, I am enjoying this immensely. 





Related Link:

The first James Michener novel I read was Chesapeake. It was a wonderful read and I enjoyed the setting around the Chesapeake Bay.



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.”


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Book Review of ‘In Cold Chamomile’

 A Valentine’s Day Cozy Mystery


Image of a cup of tea with  heart-shaped cream on top


In Cold Chamomile


Author Joy Avon brings us Book #3 in her “A Tea and a Read Mystery” series. 


Story Locale: Heart Harbor, Maine

Time: February 

Event: Valentine’s Day

Main Characters: Callie Aspen, Great-Aunt Iphy Aspen, Deputy Ace Falk


Story Plot


In Cold Chamomile Book Cover
Callie Aspen and her Boston Terrier Daisy have moved to Heart Harbor, Maine where she helps out her great-aunt Iphy in her aunt’s vintage tearoom - Book Tea. The tearoom’s sweet treats all have a bookish clue. 


As the story of In Cold Chamomile begins, Callie is getting ready for the town’s big Valentine’s Day event to be held at Haywood Hall, a famous old mansion recently renovated. 


A cup of tea on a tray with a book and flowers

The event has six main themes all based around love, including a musical performance, the tearoom’s sweet treats brought by Callie and Aunt Iphy from their tea shop, and a second hand book market where you can ‘bring a book, take a book’. Additionally, a book expert is on hand to appraise (and buy) vintage books brought in. 


But, trouble is brewing in the form of an argument the librarian has with the book expert. Plus, the baritone who arrives for the music program turns out to be someone Aunt Iphy recognizes as an old acquaintance she had hoped never to meet again. 


The event appears to be going well until a dead body is discovered. Suspicion points to quite a few people who had reasons to want the victim dead. 


Enter Deputy Ace Falk to investigate. Falk not only is currently acting Sheriff due to the Sheriff being ill, he is also the boyfriend of Callie Aspen. In the first two books in this Tea and Read mystery series, Callie had ‘helped’ solve previous murders (of course getting herself in trouble and danger as the heroine in cozy mysteries tend to do). This time, Ace wants Callie to stay away from any ‘amateur sleuthing’ because he worries that her impulsiveness will endanger her. But when Aunt Iphy’s friend-from-the-past (the baritone) is suspected of the murder, both Iphy and Callie set out to clear his name. 


Summary


A delightful cozy mystery that is light-hearted and easy to read involving books and tea and a murder to solve. A fun Valentine’s Day read.


Note: All three of the books in the ‘Tea and Read Mystery Series have ‘tea’ names (In Peppermint PerilSweet Tea and Secrets and In Cold Chamomile). Described as “The Perfect Brew” by a fellow cozy mystery writer, this is a delightful new series. 


*In Cold Chamomile book review written by Wednesday Elf

*Images source: Pixabay


 In Cold Chamomile: A Tea and a Read MysteryCheck Price In Peppermint Peril: A Tea and a Read MysteryCheck Price Sweet Tea and Secrets: A Tea and a Read MysteryCheck Price In Cold Chamomile: Book Tea Shop Mystery AudiobookCheck Price

 






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.”


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Above the Bay of Angels - Book Review

 

girl in a garden
Above the Bay of Angels
Above the Bay of Angels is a stand-alone book by Rhys Bowen, an author that has best-selling books in her mystery series.  I had never read this author before but after reading this delightful historical mystery, I will be sure to look for more books by this author.  I found this book very intriguing.

The Book on Amazon

Below is a link to the book on Amazon if you should wish to purchase it.  If you are a member of Amazon Prime you will find it in the Kindle books you can read for no charge.


Book Summary

At the beginning of the book, you meet Bella a young girl who is sent into servitude when her mother dies, and her father can no longer support her and her sister.  In the years she is a servant she works her way up to working in the kitchen and becoming a cook.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Bella runs into a young woman in the streets of London who has been hit by a carriage.  As Bella comforts her the young woman thrust a letter into Bella's hand and then dies.  The letter contains an invitation to interview for Queen Victoria's cooking staff that very afternoon.  Bella is torn with what to do, but soon decides that the letter will do the young woman no good.  Bella poses as the young woman, Helen Barton and is able to obtain a position at Buckingham Palace.

Helen (Bella) carries on with her pretense and is able to find herself in favor with Queen Victoria in her cooking skills.  When one of the cooks cannot make a trip to Nice with the Queen's staff Helen (Bella) is able to make the trip.  Helen has some delightful adventures both with cooking and the people she meets in Nice.  A mystery ensues when one of the Queen's relatives is poisoned by some food.  When a detective from London is called in Bella fears her cover will be blown.  

The book is a wonderful, lighthearted mystery.  There are many cooking references, so if you are interested in food and cooking you will also enjoy this mystery.  I'll leave you now to read the book and find out if Bella finally finds peace and happiness.



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.”


Monday, January 30, 2023

Cookbook Review - 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

I recently purchased a cookbook that I'm very excited about. It is 5 Ingredients Quick and Easy Food by Jamie Oliver. 


Sometime during the past year I have seen Jamie Oliver on his cooking shows on television. He was a new name to me and I only had the show on as background noise. But he caught my attention during one episode when he ran tomatoes across the shredder leaving behind a seedless, skinless tomato pulp. He added his resulting tomato sauce to small pieces of crusty bread. I don't recall now what else he added to his tomatoes, perhaps cheese and herbs but I had to try it. I used the tomatoes as a dip for my bannock bread. It was so easy, fresh, and delicious that I looked forward to more new ideas from Mr. Oliver. 

5 Ingredients Quick and Easy Food Cookbook

5 Ingredients Quick and Easy Food is exactly that; a collection of recipes that require only 5 main ingredients. I am adding the word "main" because it ends up that you still need things like salt, pepper, cooking oil. But the shopping list truly consists of 5 ingredients. 

For example, I had the Sausage and Apple Bake this morning for brunch. The shopping list was apples, red onions, parsnips, small pork sausages, and honey. The prep was exceedingly easy, the aroma coming from my kitchen was wonderful, and I had a delicious one skillet meal.

I was unable to find parsnips. After a quick internet search I found the recommended parsnip substitutes and chose carrots. The recipe also used salt, pepper, olive oil, and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar (which I did have but in previously years I wouldn't have had on hand and I would have been irritated that this item wasn't listed more prominently in the ingredients list). Other than the parsnips (which are available here at certain times of the year), I can easily find all of the ingredients in the recipes that I've bookmarked for later.

Tomorrow I will make the Peachy Pork Chops which includes adding bourbon and lighting it. This will be my very first attempt at flambe. Wish me luck!  Fortunately, Mr. Oliver gives a super easy meal to try which includes only garlic, rosemary, porkchops, a can of peach halves, and bourbon which gives me the confidence to try.


The book itself is beautiful. The recipe is on one page and a photograph of the finished dish is on the facing page. It is full of recipes (approximately 300 pages of recipes) and a gorgeous photo for each dish. 

The introduction states:

"Quick & Easy Food focuses unapologetically on genius combinations of just five ingredients that work together to deliver an utterly delicious result, giving maximum flavor, with minimum fuss. These are dishes you can get on the table in 30 minutes or less; or that are ridiculously quick to put together with just 10 minutes hands-on time, while the oven or stove then does the rest of the work."

There is no false advertising in that statement. The meals are quick and easy. Just my style. Yet, flavorful enough to feel as though I am eating something completely new from my usual weekly menu.

I was fortunate to find my copy on deep discount at a discount store. But the book is widely available on Amazon and in book stores. Personally, I would not have spent the original $35. However, now that I own the book I believe it is worth every penny. If you are on a budget I think you can find it in your price range.

As I mentioned above, the "5 ingredients" seems to include the main ingredients. You will also need salt, pepper, oil, and other small items that seem to be in most pantries. This is addressed in the brief introduction. 

Are these meals as complex and flavorful as the multi-star, multi-course restaurants I've been to? No. And that's not the goal. But they are different and delicious flavors that are super easy for the most busy home cook.





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.”


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Book Review of An Enemy Like Me


an enemy like me

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

The Characters

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

    Jacob Miller

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

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

    Bonnie Phillips

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

    William Miller

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

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

The Book on Amazon




About the Author

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

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





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.”


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Book Review of Reckoning


An FBI Thriller by Catherine Coulter


Image of shattered glass


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


The Plot of Reckoning


Book Cover of the novel Reckoning

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


Two plots are intertwined throughout the book. 


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


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


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


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


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


Summary


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


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




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