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

Monday, January 1, 2024

Book Review: Saga of the Mountain Sage: A Classic Historical Western Series by W. Michael Gear

This historical fiction western begins in 1825, when Richard is a young Boston gentleman attending Harvard. He is a talented and bright student studying philosophy. Richard can quote all of the greatest philosophers and he knows what is real and what is right. He is the only son of wealthy businessman Phillip Hamilton. His mother is deceased, having died during childbirth and Richard has essentially been raised by their servant, Jeffry. How is a story set in the city of Boston able to become a historical western? It begins when Phillip decides that it is time for Richard to take some responsibility, ends his financial support for the Harvard education, and sends Richard on a business trip to St. Louis - the edge of the wild frontier.

Book Cover of Saga of the Mountain Sage Book 1

The Morning River: Sage of the Mountain Sage, Book One: A Classic Historical Western Series 

Thank goodness I was on vacation when I started this book (this series of four books)! I read the series across a handful of days; including the one day that I forced myself to finally close my kindle at 3:30 am. I resumed reading immediately after breakfast the following day.

Richard begins his trip west to St. Louis with his father's bag of bank notes. He expects to make the long journey to St. Louis, make the business transaction, and return to Boston. 

The chapters take us from Richard's journey to Heals Like A Willow. Her people are the Dukurika (Shoshone), the sheepeaters of the high mountains. She had married her husband, a Ku'chendikani, and lived with their tribe. We meet her as she is burying and mourning her husband and son high on a rocky slope, during a blowing snow. We later learn that she is a very powerful woman, a medicine woman, and breaks some of her People's important traditions and expectations about a woman's role in their society. However, she continues searching for what is real and what is right.

While Phillip is right, and Richard's entire world has been limited to their home, the city, and the university I was immediately concerned that sending Richard on such a journey with such a large amount of money was a very risky idea. During Richard's long journey on the river, he is aloof and stand-offish. He is not impressed by the cities and towns along the way. He looks down his nose at the people he sees in boats, on the riverbanks, and on the farms along the way. Richard was amazed at the river he traveled on but uncomfortable when he stared into the deep forests.

"... he'd watched the forest as it passed, uneasy at what might lurk in those dim shadows. Like a child hearing the ghouls in the winter wind."

During brief conversations with another gentleman, Mr. Eckhart, on the steamboat, we begin to see Richard's thoughts. When Mr. Eckhart observes that Richard may not have the ambition and character needed for frontier life, Richard responds:

"My duty, sir, is to go to Saint Louis, see to some arrangements, and return to Boston with the greatest dispatch. Thereafter, I shall retire to the university and never again endure such bad food... ill company, or the human dregs such as you see floating along on flatboats"

It is a wonder that Richard doesn't make enemies when he repeatedly and snobbishly refers to others as "animals". Oh wait, he does make enemies.

Richard arrives in St. Louis with plans of finishing this errand for his father then returning to Boston to begin courting the beautiful Laura Templeton. He has written letters to her along the journey. 

But there is trouble in St. Louis. Big trouble. Life-threatening and life-changing trouble that irrevocably changes Richards life. If he survives, it is very unlikely that he will ever return to Boston.

Travis Hartman, a rugged frontiersman who is disfigured from a bear attack has partnered with long-time friend Dave Green in a business plan. They are planning an illegal trip up the Missouri River, in a keelboat, to the Upper Yellowstone River to open a trading post. During this time of unrest between the Indian tribes and each other, and the tribes and whites, permits are required to do such a thing. But Dave Green has a dream and a plan.

It is up this river and on the frontier that the lives of Richard and Heals Like A Willow, surrounded by the likes of Hartman and Green, converge. Will they collide and self-destruct or join forces and survive.


This series kept me engrossed. It was not only entertaining but educational (I had no idea how Keelboats were moved upriver) it was also thought-provoking. How do we decide what is right and wrong? And who is right? Who are the animals and who are civilized? 

While many descriptions in the book are beautiful (descriptions of the people, the land, the settings) and took me to those places, it was also a time period set during a great deal of violence. There are plenty of "mature" and difficult scenes, words, and themes in this book. However, it was the reality of those times.

If you begin The Morning River, book 1 in the series, and have any inkling that you like the story, I highly recommend buying the next 3 books. I do not recommend jumping into the series somewhere in the middle or end. I wish that these 4 books had been kept in one single book (I read somewhere that the series began as either one or two books - I don't recall which - but had been separated out into 4 somewhere along the way. I would have preferred it to be one volume).

I would like to tell you more about the characters. And about the parts of the story that made me laugh and made me cry. I would like to discuss the "right", the "wrong", and how God does or doesn't work in our lives, based on the story. But telling any of those things would create spoilers and I don't want to do that.  I can say that this story and these characters (and the people the characters represent from our history) will be with me for a very long time. 

Thank you W. Michael Gear for writing this bit of history in this way.


You can find there series here: The Morning River: Sage of the Mountain Sage, Book One: A Classic Historical Western Series 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Friday, December 29, 2023

A Suitable Arrangement by Martha Keyes - Book Review

Part of: Castles & Courtship Series of 8 books

a suitable arrangement book
I love it when a book makes me laugh!  In "A Suitable Arrangement", Martha Keyes created the characters with wit, sass and just enough spunk to really bring them to life.  They seemed to step right out of the pages of the book to share their thoughts, conversations and actions in my presence.

I really liked Juliana Godfrey.  She held her head high and dared anyone to challenge her simply because she was not born into nobility.  I especially liked the way she handled the head housekeeper who was constantly reminding her that she was not worthy of the title "countess".  I could almost hear the housekeeper's fit of temper when she discovered her sleeping in an "important" place one morning.  

I also liked the way Juliana defended the injured one who she thought was being bullied by his sibling.  She did not hesitate to take action and stand in his stead.

Juliana respected the unique cultures and practices of the brothers of Lochlarren Castle, but after a while, she did suspect they might not be authentic.  I must admit, horse races in the castle would be rather funny, but a bit hard to believe it to be a normal activity. Still, she was willing to rise to the challenge.

 

Synopsis of A Suitable Arrangement
Castles & Courtship Historical Fiction Series

Juliana Godfrey was very practical.  Her mother had died when she was young and her father worked hard to provide for them.  His hard work paid off!  As a wealthy merchant, he was able to provide Juliana with a hefty dowry which would purchase her a place in society.  The right marriage could open more doors for her father and his business, in addition to giving her a title which would require acceptance into the aristocracy. 

A marriage to a Scottish Earl that needed money was a suitable arrangement for Juliana.  At least she thought it was until she arrived at his castle and was not well received.  Clearly, it would take a get deal of the fortitude she learned as a child to survive the Highland Scots.  She was determined to adjust and embrace their culture.

______

As his father was dying, Sandy Duncan learned more about the deep debt he was inheriting as the new Earl of Lismore.  He also found out that he was no longer considered an acceptable suitor for the woman he had always thought he would marry.  Even though the family liked him, once her father discovered he could not bring money to the marriage, he was informed that he would not be considered, even if he did bear a title.  

Sandy is also informed that his father has made a marriage arrangement for him that would provide the money Lochlarren Castle, and it's dependents, required.  Sandy's days of freedom ended with his father's death.  He now had to shoulder the full weight of the Earldom.

When his bride-to-be arrived at the castle 2 days late, he was in no mood to greet her with a hardy welcome.  Neither he, nor his brothers or household, stepped outside of the castle to give her a proper welcome.  This lack of courtesy set the tone for the minutes, days and weeks that followed. 

 _______

When an earl needs money to pay ancestral debts, restore his castle and care for family & staff, he marries for wealth instead of equality. However, Sandy Duncan, Earl of Lismore, has met his match!


My Recommendation

The humor in this book gave a wonderful balance to the antagonism between the characters.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

 




Books by Martha Keyes Previously Reviewed on ReviewThisReviews.com



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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The Taverner's Son by Leslie Park Lynn ~ A Book Review

 The Taverner's Son is a well written deeply moving novel that has a beautiful story line that everyone can really sink their teeth into.  Family secrets, tragedy and a small village help to make this book a real page turner.  I love the characters and each one of their with own "quirks".  

The Taverners Son



What family doesn't have some sadness and misunderstandings that get in the way of family connections?  I don't think there is one family out there who can't relate in some way.

So it is with Will Kendrick.  He has lived most of his adult life away from the small town that was his home.  Misunderstandings and pride make it difficult to get through to the part where we still love each other.  And sometimes it's too late to do anything about it!  

Will gets a phone call letting him know that his father has passed away.   Living on the west coast for many years,  Will had not given his father too much thought.  Now he is in shock and trying desperately to make sense of it all, realizing that there is no more time left.

Will makes the plans to return to the little fishing village of Apalachicola.  First he had to make his way from California to Tallahassee and then drive from there to what had been his home.  As he drives the roads back to his "home" memories come flooding back to him. 

Of course there are the people of the town whom he had known growing up and many that had left the small town for bigger and better opportunities.  But there was also one of his oldest and dearest friends from his childhood who remained.  Jess, his long time friend from grade school, who had always been there during his childhood, made her life in the small town of Apalachicola.

Will is making his way around town and sees the tavern where he spent many days helping his father.  Homework was done on one of the small tables in the back.  Penny, the cook and keeper of the kitchen took Will under her wings when Will's mother had died.  Will was only 3 years old when his mother died.   Penny and her husband were the imaginary parents that Will wanted.  His father had become distant and depressed, withdrawn from his son and anything that reminded him of his beloved wife.  Will was the spitting image of his mother.  So that made things even harder for Will's father.  And now Will is standing in the Tavern that now belongs to him.  


Will has a lot to learn about the father he didn't know so well and more about his mother too. When you lose your mom at 3 years of age, you really don't know too much about her.    As you get into the book, the story takes on a life of it's own and you will be hard pressed to put the book down.  So many questions that Will has and so few answers, yet, there is something going on that doesn't make sense.


I don't want to give too much of the story away, but, I would encourage you to pick this book up.  It really is a riveting story of family, family secrets and how they impact the people who are being "saved from the truth".  This book is masterfully written, a love story with twists and turns that you will not see coming.  It is a page turner that you won't want to put down.

I received this book from VoraciousReadersOnly with the promise of sharing a review.  It was my pleasure to read this book and review it for you here.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, December 9, 2023

Reviewing The Night of the Sleepover: A Psychological Thriller

The Night of the Sleepover reviewed
How many 14-year-olds have had sleepovers with their friends, I know my daughter had a lot of them. Three 14 year olds; Leah, Harriet & Jasmine have a sleepover at their other best friend's house, Vicky. They eat pizza and drink vodka before falling asleep in sleeping bags in the lounge.

The next morning Leah wakes up and there's no one in the room with her. Just like that three teenage girls disappear. Twenty-five years passed and there's still no sign of them anywhere.

This riveting book by Kerry Wilkinson follows two timelines, the present day where Leah is still living in the same town and where one of her missing friend's brothers is doing a documentary about the night of the sleepover to coincide with the 25th anniversary. The other timeline is the night of the sleepover.

I loved this story, there were lots of twists and trying to work out who the mystery person messaging Leah was, let alone working out what happened at the sleepover kept me reading 'just another chapter'!

Towards the end, the mystery appears to have been solved before the final chapter when there's another twist that you probably won't see coming.

If you like psychological thrillers and you don't have a teenage daughter then I thoroughly recommend this book. If you have a teenager then I would wait a few years before reading as I'm not sure my daughter would've been allowed to go on another sleepover if I read this a few years ago!

The author is releasing a sequel called After the Sleepover this month which indicates that there may have been something else happening that we weren't aware of in the original book - I'm tempted to read it again to see if I've missed anything.

I was actually surprised to discover that the author was male as he seemed to really capture teenage girls extremely well. If you like books by Lisa Jewell or Lisa Unger then you will really enjoy this novel.

I read this as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription which I thoroughly recommend. I spend 2 hours a day on the train commuting back and forth from work and with Kindle Unlimited and I can spend that time in another world whether it's the world of disappearing teenagers, a historical novel, mystical tales or a good old romance. This subscription would also make a great gift idea for the reader in your life.

Reviewing The Night of the Sleepover by Kerry Wilkinson





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Panda Girl ~ A Historical Novel by Lawrence V. Drake ~ A Book Review

 So I'm going to tell you a secret!  Historical Novels are one of my favorite genre of books. It doesn't really matter what the time period is, I just happen to be very adept at getting my mind into whatever period I am reading about!

Panda Girl by Lawrence Drake is one of these books.  Set in the period of the Second World War, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this novel had me right from the opening few sentences of the Prologue.

Based on true life experiences, Panda Girl captivates and sheds some light on a part of WWII that many people don't know anything about.  It certainly was the case for me.  We think of the war as taking part mostly in Europe, but there was a whole contingent of the War that was taking place in  China, Burma, and India. 

Known collectively as the CBI Theater of WWII,  the Americans, while fighting Germany and the Japanese in the Pacific, also vowed that Japan would not overrun China.

https://amzn.to/46vRcHz

Victor Dance (the main character) knows little about the world beyond his family's dairy farm in Montana.  He is reserved, shy, a hard worker and well liked.  He's also a talented artist in his own right.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed and the scope of destruction was realized, Victor and many of his friends enlisted in the Army to do their part for America and world peace.  Victor knew he wanted to fly!  It was a dream of his since he once witnessed Lindbergh flying over the family farm.  

When Victor and his friends had enlisted, their minds were full of thoughts of flying to France or England, they had never in their wildest dreams thought they would end up in India and  thought much less of the terrain they would be flying in.

Lawrence Drake does a wonderful job of bringing the realities of some of these missions to the pages of this book.  At times I felt that I was drowning in the heat that many of these pilots had to endure and just as I was getting comfortable in the heat,  I'd find myself freezing right along with them when they were flying at 20,000 ft.  I can't imagine the shock to the body when those kinds of extremes are happening within a short span of time. 

Missions over the Himalayas  were treacherous as winds, clouds and some of the highest mountains in the world stood between the pilots and their missions to take out Japanese tankers, railroads, bridges and transfer stations.  

Sometimes the only thing that kept these guys in the air and focused on their missions were the thoughts of those people back home who were counting on their success in this War. Letters from home were the only way many of these men kept going.  Hobbies helped too, as Victor in his "off time" was often drawing.  His talents as a pilot and an artist were in high demand, but you will have to read the book to see why.

War is never an easy thing and writing about it in a way that makes you fully understand the sacrifices is a real gift for us who have never had those experiences.  Truly it makes you even more thankful that we have not had to take part in this kind of "action".

If there is someone on your list of friends that enjoys Historical Novels, then this book gets a big Green Light from me.  I really enjoyed the story and came away with a much better understanding and thankfulness for all the sacrifices these men and women made for us.

You can get your own copy right here and I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



Happy Reading, until the next Review!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Monday, November 20, 2023

Book Review: October in the Earth: A Novel by Olivia Hawker

Mrs. Wensley is a proper preacher's wife living in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1931. Life has always been hard in coal country but it became even more difficult after the Great Crash of 1929. Is it blasphemy that Adella questions her life in the largest home with 100 miles in any direction, her difficulty becoming pregnant after 8 years of marriage, and her role as the preacher's wife? Is it wrong that she disagrees with him in how to respond to the homeless folks passing through? 

book cover photo of October In The Earth


While she ministered to the women of the county tirelessly and she felt as though she were failing. Something did not feel right to Adella. 

"That afternoon, I came up the last shaded rise of the old road with that loaf of bread tucked under my arm, and I rounded the bend, and there before me was home - the only place that had ever felt like home to me, even after I'd settled with my eminent husband in the finest house in the whole danged valley. My parents' place could scarcely be called a house at all." - October in the Earth

Adella was visiting her family's shack when her brother pulled up; pale and shaken. Miners were in the midst of strikes after the mining companies had slashed wages due to the economy. Violence was breaking out, men killed during a shooting related to a mining company. 

"A couple of fellas pulled up in a truck that was all painted with the sign of the Evarts company". "They jumped out of the cab" Benjamin went on, "hollering and wringing their hands about a full-on war."  - October in the Earth

Benjamin drove Adella back to her home so that she could share the news with her husband and they could minister to the local families involved. 

As the plans to help defuse the situation were made, Adella found herself questioning the responses. Internally questioning what should and shouldn't be done - what is a sin and what isn't. Adella finds her husband in the midst of what is clearly a sin and yet she cannot openly address it. She cannot bring herself to question things aloud. 

"It's the baby. My thoughts tripped over one another, tangling themselves. No baby. I haven't given him a family. No wonder he's losing interest." - October in the Earth

Adella visits the Granny Woman, as her mom has advised. The Granny Woman who can help women with their health problems. But it wasn't fertility help that Adella finds during that visit. She finds a woman willing to speak truth aloud. The shocking truth.

In her desperation, she prepares to flee. Adella follows the hobos that she has secretly fed - against her husband's wishes - during their trip through town looking for work. The proper preacher's wife dresses as a man, takes the few belongings she is able to carry, and hops a train away from it all.  The remainder of the story is a peek into the life of hobos on the rails. Riding from one town to the next, in a desperate search for work and food during the great depression. If the hobos are barely able to survive, will Adella be able to transform from a proper preachers wife living in plush comfort - thanks to the collection plate - to a lone woman traveling from town to town to find work? 


October in the Earth by Olivia Hawker


Unfortunately, I am not doing this story justice. I have clearly become an Olivia Hawker fan and find myself drawn into the stories of people living lives very different than mine. Olivia Hawker writes about believable characters with descriptions that immerse me into the story. 

I previously read and reviewed One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker. You can read my review here. 





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, November 18, 2023

The Two-Book Series of Mr. Murray McBride – Book Reviews

This is a review of a charming pair of books by Joe Stiple. This dual includes The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride and its sequel, The Final Wish of Mr. Murray McBride.


The Mr. Murray McBride 2-book series Book Covers

The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride (Book 1 of 2)


The  Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride book cover
Mr. Murray McBride is one-hundred-years old. His marriage to his beloved wife Jenny ended 18-months ago with her death at age 99. His two sons are also gone and Murray feels he no longer has a reason to live. Then he meets Jason Cashman, a 10-year-old boy who suffers from a terminal heart defect and needs a heart transplant or he will not live another six months. 


Jason has a list of five things he wants to do before he dies. Together, Murray and Jason race against the limited time each has left to complete the wishes one-by-one. And, the wishes are not easy ones to complete. 


Jason's Wish List


Five Things I want to do before my heart dies and I go to Heaven:


  1. Kiss a girl (on the lips.)
  2. Hit a home-run in a major league baseball stadium
  3. Be a Superhero
  4. Find a nice boyfriend for mom
  5. Do real magic

~By the amazing Jason Cashman


Wish number 2 is helped by the fact that old Mr. Murray McBride happens to have been a professional baseball player for the Chicago Cubs and that they live in a small town in Illinois just 20 miles from Chicago's Wrigley Field.


As Murray and Jason work on the 'wishes', along with Jason's best friend Tiegan (the 10-year-old girl who lives next door), Murray remembers what it's like to be young, and Jason fights for the opportunity to grow old. 


Their worlds are turned upside-down when tragedy strikes, and an unexpected gift is the only thing that can make Jason's final wish come true. 


The story continues on with the sequel ….


The Final Wish of Mr. Murray McBride (Book 2 of 2)


The Final Wish of Mr. Murray McBride book cover
It has been twenty years since Jason Cashman was given his five wishes by Mr. Murray McBride. He grew up to become a Magician (which was his fifth wish), performing all over the world. He has finally accomplished the goal he was seeking. He thought reaching his special goal would bring contentment, but instead he feels empty. 


Then, he meets Alexandra Lopez, an 11-and-a-quarter year old Guatemalan girl who loves America so much that she always dresses in red, white & blue. Trouble is, her father, Juan, entered the United States illegally when she was a baby, so they are effectively undocumented aliens. Now they face deportation. This presents a terrible problem because Alexandra has Type I Diabetes and would die without her insulin. The tiny Guatemalan village they come from has no doctor or any type of medical facility and getting insulin regularly would be very chancy there. 


Inspired by his old friend, Mr. Murray McBride, Jason decides the only thing he can do to help is to give Alexandra five wishes before she must leave. 


Jason & Alexandra set off to check off as many wishes as they can, but when Jason's transplanted heart begins to fail, he must choose between his obligation to the past, and his hopes for the future. 


Summary


These two Mr. Murray McBride books by Joe Siple are heart-warming. These Coming-of-Age & Family Life stories will make you laugh; they will make you cry, and they will completely capture your heart. I highly recommend them. 


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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The Beauty Doctor, Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard ~ A Book Review

The Beauty Doctor is a work of fiction set in the early 1900's when the medical field was in it's infancy.  Regulatory bodies were not yet in place and quackery abounded.

The Beauty Doctor


It was also a time of social upheaval as well.  Women were just starting to demand attention not only for their family ties, but also for their own inherent worth as individuals.  It was a time when the old and the new were very much at loggerheads with each other and social status was not the defining standard.

Many people  made fortunes selling snake oils that promised all kinds of magical results and often times these potions and lotions were causing some very serious problems. 

European trends on what constituted beauty abounded.  Hence some very unsavory characters who called themselves "Doctor",  managed to make themselves known to those who were wealthy and could afford their services.  Working on these women's weaknesses was what worked for them.  Subtle and sometimes not so subtle augmentation could make a woman feel beautiful and therefore much more attractive to her peer group.  


The Beauty Doctor is the story of a young woman (Abigail), whose father was a decent doctor, and in whose footsteps she had hoped to follow.  She routinely would aid her father when he made house calls and became quite efficient and proficient at many of the tasks she assisted with.  What she needed now was the proper education to continue in her quest to become a doctor in truth.  Alas, such was not to be the case, Abigail's father has died and her mother remarried.  The new step father was not adverse to make lewd advances to his beautiful new step-daughter.

Stunned by this turn of events in her life, she decides to leave home and ask a friend for sanctuary.  Arthur has taken her into his home.  Being part of  New York society at that time, it was only shortly after her arrival in the Hennessy Family that Arthur  knew he would have to propose so that the family could keep their heads held high in their social circle.  Again Abigail's life is taking a turn she did not wish for herself.  She wants to become a doctor and has to find a way to do just that.

At the party to introduce Abigail to the rest of New York society, Abigail finds herself seated next to Dr. Franklin Rome, who is accompanying another wealthy socialite  to this affair.  He has a way about him. ""Beauty is power," Dr. Rome told her. "And with enough power, one can achieve anything."  And here the plot thickens.  Abigail sees a possibility that might just get her out of this engagement and further her own desires.

What follows is a twisting and turning story of her introduction to what we know today as cosmetic surgery.

This book was a very interesting story and you could picture yourself watching these lives unfold.  What lengths some people would go through for their own sometimes perverse ideas of what human beauty should be and look like.  I'm sure you will find it interesting and thought provoking.  So many ideas being put forth by the new medical establishment and funded by those who have the money to do so.  

This book certainly makes you see what was possible in an unregulated profession such as medicine was and why it's a good thing that regulations are in place today. It's a history lesson that I won't forget anytime soon for sure.

For anyone who enjoys historical novels and the development of society as we know it today, this book will surely be a hit.  The Beauty Doctor scores more than 4 out of 5 stars on it's Amazon ratings.

I was given an advanced copy of the second edition by #booksirens.com in exchange for my honest review,

I would not hesitate to recommend this as a great book to read and/or enjoy with a book club.  It certainly makes you stop and think!


  






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Monday, October 30, 2023

Cookbook Review: Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies

Imagine, "Pies That Magically Bake Their Own Crust". The Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies cookbook has been a very welcomed addition to my kitchen. With just several ingredients, Bisquick, an egg, and milk I have been able to make savory and sweet pies and have over 130 pages of recipes to try.

Homemade chicken pot pie


As someone who isn't incredibly talented in the kitchen but likes good food, I have tried baking pies in the past. (Sams recipe?). Combining my lack of experience with my lack of time and energy, I am always looking for hardy - but extremely easy - meal ideas. These Impossibly Easy Pies hit the mark perfectly. I can whip one together very quickly after work, pop it into the oven, and dinner is ready by the time I walk the dogs and feed the chickens.

My favorite so far is the chicken pot pie.

Stir together these ingredients and place in a pie plate:

  • 2 cups of chunks of cooked chicken (I used canned chicken)
  • 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots (I used a frozen vegetable mix that also included green beans)
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

Stir together the Bisquick, egg, and milk. Pour this mixture over the vegetable mixture. Bake.

The final product is a hot, filling, delicious, comfort food. In my household, as a single person, I am left with extra portions to use for my lunches at work. 

Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies 

I have begun to use a can of cream of chicken soup, the frozen vegetables, and the cooked chicken chunks routinely. Making a creamier version of the meal. 

I did find that my cookbook recommends one part Bisquick to two parts milk. This makes a thin crust that forms more evenly over the top of the dish. The recipes on the internet reverse that to two parts Bisquick and one part milk. I prefer that amount as it makes more of a thick biscuit or dumpling topping (as seen in the my photo). 

homemade chicken pot pie

This week I am going to make a beef pot pie - with a can of vegetable beef soup, frozen vegetables, and grilled chunks of steak.

Additional Tips:

I found my copy of Betty Crocker Bisquick Impossibly Easy Pies cookbook at a store called Ollies for only $3.99. If thrifting is your thing, have a look at the discount stores.

Similar recipes can be found on the internet. I usually refrain from the expense of the cookbook purchase by using the internet. However, in this case, having the book with all of the different menus in one place is easy and inspiring. In this case, having the printed version is helpful to consider the varieties of pies that could be made.

The cookbook has a contents section that lists the pies into chapter based on the ingredients. Such as Beef, Chicken and Turkey, Ham/Sausage/Bacon, Fish and Seafood, Meatless, Fruity, and Sweet-Tooth Temptations. They also list some of the pies into these helpful categories:

  • All-American Supper
  • Summer Dinner on the Deck
  • Mexi-Meal
  • Sunday Brunch
  • Kids' Choice
  • Thanksgiving
  • Special Occasion Dinner
  • Appetizer Party





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Book Review: Blessings of the Lost Girls by J.A. Jance

 A Brady and Walker Family Novel


Fans of author Judith (J.A.) Jance love her three popular series, one starring Joanna Brady, another J.P. Beaumont and the series with Ali Reynolds. She also wrote a short series (5 books) about the Walker Family featuring Native Americans from the Tohono O’Odham reservation in Arizona. 


In this review of her latest book, Blessings of the Lost Girls, Jance combines members of the Walker Family and characters from the Joanna Brady series in an exciting adventure that includes Joanna's daughter Jenny and Brandon Walker's son-in-law, Dan Pardee. 


Native American hieroglyphics


Synopsis of Blessings of the Lost Girls


Blessings of the Lost Girls Book Cover
The story begins with a background of the serial killer who is the villain in the novel. 


Then we are introduced to Danial Pardee, a former member of the Shadow Wolves Border Patrol, who patrol the U.S./Mexico border along the Tohono O’Odham Nation Reservation in Arizona. Now he is a field officer in the newly formed MIP agency (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People), an agency under the Department of Interior. The main purpose of MIP is to investigate and put right how law enforcement agencies all over the country had dealt with both solved and unsolved cases involving the deaths and disappearances of Native American victims. 


A body is found in the desert on a ranch near Tucson consisting of nothing but burned bones.  It took nearly 3 years, but the bones are finally identified as those of Rosa Rios, a young woman of Apache descent who was a one-time rodeo star. Dan is called to investigate, as the victim was found in his territory. As it turns out, all reports each MIP investigator files are automatically shared with other MIP field agents, which soon leads to other agents contacting Dan with reports of similar cases involving young women of indigenous descent, each of whom had some connection to rodeos. Soon, the agency realizes that Rosa's death is connected to a serial killer.


Dan contacts Joanna Brady, Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona where Rosa's body was found. Later, Joanna's daughter Jenny, currently a criminal justice major at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, becomes involved in the case due to having once met Rosa at a rodeo. 


Turns out, Jenny knows another girl who was once attacked at a rodeo by a man who matches the description of the killer they are looking for. And this girl happens to have saved a pair of eyeglasses which were knocked off the man during the attack. The girl never reported the attack at the time because her Morman family would not have approved of the boy she was dating, but finally agrees to turn in the glasses, from which fingerprints are obtained. 


Summary


Between Dan, Joanna and Jenny, and Dan's best friend, Brian Fellows, Sheriff of Pina County in Tucson, a case is put together and the serial killer is tracked down.


*Special Note: Throughout the novel, the author weaves in a few fascinating ancient legends from the (Papago) Tohono O’Odham (Desert People) where the basis of the story begins. The legends, plus the excellent writing of J.A. Jance, makes Blessings of the Lost Girls a very special story indeed. I highly recommend it.


Blessings of the Lost Girls Book Cover


Blessings of the Lost Girls, Book 20 of 20 in the Joanna Brady mystery series, is available in several formats on Amazon


Related Links:



*Book Review written by Wednesday Elf









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

A Review of the Book Chair Exercises for Seniors

 

A Review of Chair Exercises for Seniors


Chair Exercises for Seniors came about after the author, Luke Adams, realized that getting older does not mean that a person's life is over.  The latter part of life can instead be a time for exploring new interests and hobbies......like writing a book, as Luke Adams did!  It was a fortunate thing for all the people that have been helped by his book, including me!

This book is not a long read, only 206 pages, 11 chapters listed below:


Chapters

1. Stay In Sync With Your Body—The Changes

2. Why Chair Exercises? 

3. Get Your Chair 

4. Warming up 

5. Ankle and Leg Exercises 

6. Neck and Shoulder Exercises 

7. Upper and Lower Back Exercises 

8. Arm, Wrist and Hand Exercises 

9. Build Strength From Your Core 

10. Cooldown & Recovery 

11. Building Your 7-Day Routine 


What Does the Book Contain?

The book as a whole is full of useful information, it is far more than just a list of exercises.  It also deals with some of the psychology of aging, and the decisions that are made along the way that impact the life we will experience as we get older.  The presentation of the material is easy to understand and is formatted in a personal, almost cozy, conversational style that is both interesting and appealing.  

The following outlines what I found to be the most pertinent of what this book offers to the reader:

  • An informative discussion of the changes the body goes through with age
  • Concise explanations of what chair exercises are and why they are perfect for seniors; also how they benefit the different part of the body
  • How to exercise if you are recovering from an injury
  • Clear, easy to understand instructions with pictures for everything discussed in this book
  • A 7 day routine designed to help strengthen your most used muscles
  • Modifications for making the exercises easier for beginners or more difficult as you advance your fitness level as well as ways to modify the routine to fit your personal needs
  • Low impact exercises that can help you to relax and reduce stress
  • Exercises for specific parts of your body that you want to work on
  • Warm up and cool down exercises that help you ease in and out of activities
  • Advice on the equipment needed and optional equipment for the routine and the best attire to wear (much of which you already own, no expensive accessories needed!)
  • How to stay safe while exercising, including before and after.
  • Pertinent information of how exercise helps overall health, plus the improvement in balance and mobility which can help prevent falls
  • The book ends with a glossary of terms, in case you are unfamiliar with some of the terms used.

Sample Illustration 

Hip and Knee Extension Illustration
Seated Knee and Hip Extension Illustration from
Chair Exercises for Seniors

My Thoughts

Reading this book gave me hope about the future for the first time in a long time.  It is easy to become down in the dumps when you get older, but as was said in the book's introduction, it is more important to focus on what we can do than what we can no longer do.  Getting older does not mean losing the life you love, it only means that you have to work a bit harder to keep it.  You can even go on to make it even more fulfilling with the right tools and determination. Keeping upbeat and active helps you to maintain an independent lifestyle, which is what every senior wants.  All this can be achieved in just a few minutes a day, starting at any fitness level.
 
One of the most important things this book taught me is you can control how you age.  You can be the older person who spends all their time in a easy chair watching TV, or you can be the one outside planting flowers in the garden or going shopping and out to lunch with family and friends.  Which you want to be is up to you.  If you want to be the second type, this book can be the start of getting there.  Why wait?

Chair Exercises for Seniors






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Bone Hacker by Kathy Reichs

The Bone Hacker is Kathy Reichs' latest book in her Temperance Brennan Series ~ Number 22 of 22. 


Image of an island beach and ocean, with a beach umbrella.

Synopsis of The Bone Hacker


Readers of earlier Temperance Brennan novels will be thrilled with The Bone Hacker, the latest book in the series.  


The Bone Hacker book cover
Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, dividing her time  between her headquarters in North Carolina and Montreal. 


As the story opens, Tempe is working in Montreal, Canada, where she shares an apartment with her significant other, Andrew Ryan, a lieutenant with the Quebec police working in homicide.


Tempe is called in to examine what is left of a person thought to have been struck by lightning during a storm. As she traces an unusual tattoo on the body, she discovers it is a symbol of a gang operating in the islands of Turks and Caicos. A call to the police department there brings a high-ranking officer to Montreal to meet with Tempe and persuade her to return to the islands to help with two sets of bones recently discovered and possibly connected to three young men – tourists – two of whom have disappeared without a trace in the past seven years. 


The case becomes much larger than Tempe expected and tantalizing leads begin to emerge.  At first it was thought that the gang violence in the islands was connected to these deaths, but Tempe is not so sure. As she discovers more evidence, it seems to point to something that will have global significance. 


Summary


As the story nears its climax, it becomes apparent that new technology may wreak worldwide havoc and Tempe herself becomes a target. A thriller with an exciting and surprising ending. 


The Bone Hacker is available here on Amazon



The Bone Hacker book cover


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*Book Review written by Wednesday Elf





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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