Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing Book Review


For those who love to travel, the current global atmosphere fraught as it is with many concerns, may be keeping you at home and make a strong case for sitting back and enjoying some armchair travel. If you are interested in a trip to North Carolina’s remote marshlands, you might want to pick up the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Before I read this book, North Carolina was not on my list of places that I would like to see. Now it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the book though it started off a bit oddly, at least for me. I had just finished reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which was an excellent book crafted with simple, straightforward language. When I picked Where the Crawdads Sing up, the language seemed overly flowery with text like, “water flows into the sky”, “clammy forests” and “the marsh’s moist breath.” It was not long, however, before I was whisked away to fictional Barkley Cove in North Carolina and wrapped up in the lives of the main characters.

THE STORY


The story? Well, simply put it is that of a girl’s marsh life from the ages of 6 to 25 both with her family and then abandoned by her family, of how she grows up barefoot and wild and, despite sparse interactions with other people, of how she manages to educate herself in her remote environment. It is rich with details about marsh life in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale and it is also one of romance and murder, alternating between the years of 1952 and 1969. The author herself says that the book is about loneliness.

IS IT A TRUE STORY?


Is Where the Crawdads Sing a true story? Not really though Elle magazine says that the story has "striking echoes" to the author’s life in Africa with conservationist former husband, Mark Owens, both of who were linked to the unsolved 1995 murder of an African poacher though the couple has denied anything to do with the murder and no charges have ever been filed.

IS IT RECOMMENDED?


Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly the book, which is Owen's first work of fiction, quickly became a hugely successful book.

The Guardian says that “Surprise bestsellers are often works that relate to the times. Though set in the 1950s and 1960s, this book is, in its treatment of racial and social division and the fragile complexities of nature, obviously relevant to contemporary politics and ecology. But these themes reach a huge audience though the writer’s old-fashioned talents for compelling character, plotting and landscape description.”

Actor Reese Witherspoon, who picked Where the Crawdads Sing  as a book for her book club, helped it build momentum and is quoted in Town and Country magazine as having said, "I can’t even express how much I love this book…There is so much to her story…and it takes place in the breathtaking backdrop of the South. I didn’t want this story to end!"

A whopping eighty-six percent of Amazon readers gave it a 5 star review. It is a New York Times number one bestseller, it has been on that best seller list for 78 weeks and it has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Those are, in my opinion, a whole lot of reasons to check out for yourself the book Where the Crawdads Sing. The majority of readers have loved this book and it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. You can find your copy on Amazon by clicking right here and if you enjoy it, be sure to watch for Witherspoon's movie version of the story.

See you
At the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

QUICK LINKS:


Buy your copy of Where the Crawdads Sing here on Amazon.
Read Dawn Rae's review of Where the Crawdads Sing.









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


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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020 A New Year of Reading Materials to Discover!

Woman on the Edge, Book Review, psychological thriller, review this reviews
My New Years Resolution!
At the start of 2020, I made a decision to not only read more, but to vary the types of books that I sink my teeth into.  So here is a new author and a new book for my Review This Review Today.

As a member of Goodreads, I saw that my list of preferred books seems to be either mysteries or spy thrillers.  Added into that mix there are also some historical romances.  What I realized looking at my list, is that there are so many more categories of books that I have not delved  into.  

So, along with a new year and a new decade, comes the promise to rectify that situation.  And so I offer you a new author and a new genre of books for me.  


My New Genre is a Psychological Thriller!

Now you might ask why I haven't tried this category before now, and the answer is rather simple.  Psychological thrillers, while they keep you on the edge of your seat, they make me uncomfortable.  I find that I can't get these stories out of my head.  They (these types of thrillers) keep me from sleeping well.  I don't watch these types of movies either.  After Silence of the Lambs, I did not sleep well for weeks.  I don't know what that says about my character, but I know that sleep deprivation does not look good on me!


A New Year and a New Decade means there are changes afoot!

 
I love starting the new year off with a bang.  So beside the fireworks that lit up the sky, I found a new author and a whole different genre of reading to go along with it.

Samantha Bailey is the author of Woman on the Edge.  It's fresh off the presses and will be available in paperback,  after the 3rd of March this year.  If you are an Audible member it has the best price tag ever. $ 0.00 for Prime members or if you start a trial membership. 

thriller, new author, canadian,

There are so many twists and turns in this novel, that you just won't figure out who's behind all the mystery.  It is a page turner that will have you losing sleep, because you just can't put it down.  As her debut novel,  I think Samantha Bailey has a real winner on her hands.  It's a novel that all women can relate to.  Motherhood, sleep deprivation, secrets from your youth and so much more are all part and parcel of Woman on the Edge!

Just a couple of the reviews that are being posted about this book:


“One woman’s struggles with motherhood and another’s desperate desire to be a mother collide in this explosive debut. Woman on the Edge is a white-knuckle read that welcomes a bright new talent to the world of psychological suspense.”
— MARY KUBICANew York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

"Gripping from the first page to the last, Woman on the Edge had me nail-biting and breathless all the way through. But even after you've turned the final page, this riveting and deeply felt thriller from debut author Samantha M. Bailey won't relinquish its hold on you." 
— LAURA SIMS, author of Looker

I could post more but I don't want this to be a spoiler for anyone.  One of the things I loved about the author is that she is Toronto based!  Everyone loves hometown celebrities and I'm no exception.  It thrilled me to read her book and be able to geographically know where she was.  It's a small thing that resonates with me.  If you aren't from Toronto, it will not detract from the story in any way,  I just was amused that I knew these places.  


So What Else is in Store for 2020?  

 
I don't know just yet, but rest assured I will be looking into some of the genres that I have been ignoring.  The world is just so much better with so many books to choose from.  








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 17, 2019

The Daughter's Tale Book Review


The Daughter's Tale Book Review
Armando Lucas Correa’s The Daughter's Tale starts out in modern times in New York City but most of the story is set in the years of World War II in Berlin, Germany and in the south of France. The novel is based on a real Jewish child who survived the war because of the efforts of her father and her mother and because of the help of others.

STORYLINE


It is a heartbreaking story told mostly without overly graphic descriptions though it cannot help but mention the atrocities of the war. It includes the horrific 1944 Nazi massacre of all the inhabitants of Oradour-Sur-Glane, a small village in southern France. It references the sailing of the MS St. Louis full of German-Jewish refugees that was refused docking in Cuba and elsewhere. However, those are pieces of the story, which is really about a series of impossible choices that a family had to make in an attempt to save their children. It is a story of love, of survival and of hope.

MY COMMENTS


I definitely had quibbles with the book. I questioned why the mother could not leave on the ship with her children. I wondered if a young child would have been so very knowledgeable about the war and the resistance. I found it a bit odd that the children spoke and thought like adults. In the latter part of the book, I was disappointed when the same child suddenly had the ability to foresee events almost in a psychic manner. Finally, I found it hard to believe that an 80-year-old woman, who spent her whole life feeling guilty about things she had no control over as a child, did not seek out the story of her family and childhood. Despite these issues, I enjoyed the book and here is what a few others thought.

REVIEWS


Readers on Goodreads gave it a 3.9 out of 5 stars and 72 percent of Amazon readers gave it a 4- or 5-star rating. That’s not bad.

Booklist says that author Correa presents, “a gripping and richly detailed account of lives torn apart by war.” I agree with that.

The New York Times, on their Summer Historical Fiction Reading list for 2009, said that The Daughter’s Tale is “better written and more tightly edited than most books in this genre, and the story line is breathtakingly threaded together from start to finish with the sound of a beating heart.” Is that overly generous? In my view, it may be.

I believe that people who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy this book even if it is not my favorite nor the best of the many World War II themed novels available. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can buy your own copy of The Daughter’s Tale on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you do read it, be sure to come back and share your thoughts with us. If you enjoy it, you might also like Armando Lucas Correa’s previous novel, The German Girl.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Daughter’s Tale from Amazon.
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Movie Review: One Women's Efforts to Save Polish Jewish Children.
Thin Red Line Movie Review: The Story of the WWII battle for Guadalcanal
My Real Name is Hannah Book Review: World War II Fiction for Teen and Young Adults.





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, 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.



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, August 27, 2019

The Death of Amelia Marsh Book Review

Death of an Elderly Neighbor

appointment book
Amelia Marsh's appointment book was taken
image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Last week I read The Death of Amelia Marsh by MaryJo Dawson. My review follows in the paragraphs below. I first connected with the author in a group that I belong to for authors and readers on GoodReads. I'm finding some very interesting books to read by belonging to that group. It is a source you might try if you are looking for books that you might not otherwise discover.

Anyway, I should get back to the purpose of this post. MaryJo Dawson has written a series of Cozy Mysteries with The Death of Amelia Marsh being the first one. The series is called the Sally Nimitz Mysteries. Sally, if you haven't guessed already, is the main character and I found her to be a very likable amateur female sleuth. She is a widow with grown children living in a condominium located in a small town in Indiana. Being a Hoosier, myself, you might see why I was first drawn to read about Sally. 

Short Synopsis of The Death of Amelia Marsh  

As the story begins, we find Sally preparing to go to visit one of her neighbors, Amelia Marsh. The elderly woman had invited Sally over that afternoon and seemed anxious about something. Sally admires the charming woman with the white hair and English accent. When she arrives at the appointed time, Mrs. Marsh doesn't answer the door. Sally thinks at first that perhaps the woman had forgotten or maybe she was napping. She waits for a short period of time and goes back. There is still no answer and Sally becomes concerned. Sally goes to the manager of the condominiums and asks if he could let her in; she's worried about Amelia. From the title of the book, I assume you have figured out they find Mrs. Marsh on her kitchen floor, dead from a blow to the head.

Sally starts putting the pieces to the puzzle together of who killed Amelia with the help of her friend George and Amelia's friend Anne Carey. It isn't easy for the three because Amelia Marsh was a bit of a mystery, herself. She avoided talking of her past, didn't mention relatives and had very few items in her home that might help them with clues of where to look. What was Amelia Marsh hiding? Who would take the life of a sweet little old woman? Robbery didn't seem to be a motive because nothing seemed to be missing until Anne realizes that the appointment book that Amelia always kept handy was no where to be found. Whoever the killer was, must have been penciled in that book.

Did I like this Cozy Mystery?


Oh you bet I did! The story is very well written, moving along at a nice pace with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you turning the page. The style of MaryJo Dawson's writing reminded my of the mysteries I read when I was younger. I enjoyed that! 

The characters are absolutely delightful and believable. Sally is someone I would love to spend more time with. Anne Carey, another elderly neighbor in the Condos is witty and interesting. I would love to sit and sip some tea with her. I could spend hours on George's porch talking with him and Sally. The characters are well thought out that is for certain.

I also loved that there was the mystery of who "done it" but also the mystery of Amelia Marsh and her past life. Sally and her friends have to figure out why their friend was so closed mouthed about her past. Why did she not have any memorabilia in her home of her life that was filled with travels? There weren't many photos of her past to be found which they felt was odd because people keep those things for the memories. As they work together to find clues, it seems every time they think they have found an answer they only come up with more questions. 

I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Sally's sleuthing. I think you will enjoy it, also. Give it a try, I don't think you will be disappointed in the least.



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, August 20, 2019

Raspberry Danish Murder Reviewed

A Culinary Cozy Mystery

Raspberry Danish Anyone?
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
I recently read Raspberry Danish Murder and wanted to review it for you today. This book happens to be number 22 in the Hannah Swenson Mystery series. Written by Joanne Fluke and published by Kensington Books this is a mystery that could almost pass as a cookbook.

I am a little confused by the title. Certainly, raspberry danish is mentioned early in the book and there is a recipe for the danish but beyond that it wasn't mentioned again and I don't see the relevance to the mystery or the murder. Just an observation on my part. Although, I guess after 21 other books in the series it might have gotten tough to come up with new titles.



A Short Synopsis of Raspberry Danish Murder

Hannah Swenson lives in the small Minnesota town of Lake Eden. She co-owns a cookie and coffee shop called The Cookie Jar. The story opens in November when people are getting ready for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. We find out early in the book that Hannah is a newlywed but the problem is her new husband Ross has disappeared. Ross works or worked for a local television station and just left one day without his belongings or even his car. Hannah and her family keep hoping that he will return with a logical explanation any day now. In the meantime, Hannah has a cookie business to run and a whole lot of cookies to bake for the upcoming holiday season.

Hannah has some help in searching for her missing husband from the local law enforcement and her husband's assistant P.K. There is something about P.K. He is covering for his missing boss and trying to find clues as to where he can be but he has also taken over Ross's office and ends up driving his car when his has to go into the shop for repairs. No one seems to be able to discover where Ross has gone and then P.K. ends up dead after eating some candy that was sent to the office for Ross. Was the candy meant for the missing Ross or did someone plan to kill P.K?


My Review of this Cozy Mystery


I enjoyed the book, the mystery part. I mentioned earlier that it could almost pass as a cookbook. At first I enjoyed having recipes for cookies, pastries and savory dishes after the chapters they were mentioned in. After a while, I almost found it annoying. Don't get me wrong, the recipes sounded pretty good and the formatting of the pages was clever but goodness gracious they started to get in the way of finding out what was happening in the actual story. Personally, I feel that the recipes could have been included but perhaps a little note that states the recipe can be found at the back of the book instead of after every chapter. They would be easy to reference in a paperback but in an ebook they would be difficult to go back to after reading the book.

The mystery, itself, was well written and intriguing. I loved the characters and the different events that transpired, the solution to the murder and the explanation about Ross. Although, the Ross situation needs a whole lot more words. My guess is it will be addressed in the next book. This book stands alone quite well but I think I might enjoy reading the earlier books for the backstories on many of the characters. 

All in all it is a very good mystery and I think you will enjoy it. You might not have a problem with all of those recipes. Frankly, I like to put a recipe or two in my own books but they are always at the back and hopefully non-intrusive. I also enjoy seeing recipes in books but I prefer them at the back and as a little bonus but I don't need tons of them. If I want a cookie cookbook, I'll buy one. When I buy a Cozy Mystery...well, I want a mystery. I got one and it was a good one, I just didn't appreciate all those extra pages of cooking tips. 



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, August 13, 2019

PTO Murder Club Mystery Series Reviewed

Not Your Normal PTO

pto murder club
A Murder Club with humor?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I stumbled upon another Cozy Mystery series this week. Let me review the PTO Murder Club Mystery series for you today. Having been very active in the Parent Teacher Organizations when my girls were in school, I can assure you none of the meetings I attended were anything like the Bee Creek Elementary School ones. I once served as the President and I was never as funny as Mustang Ridges nor did I have officers quite like hers.

Katie Graykowski has written a three book series that will entertain you as you look for the clues to solve the mysteries and make you laugh hysterically while you do. In Rest In Pieces, the first book in the series, we meet Mustang Ridges the President of the PTO and her two best friends and officers in the organization, Monica and Haley. The three women live in a sleepy little town known as Lakeside. It is a town of "the haves" and the "have nots". Mustang and Monica belong to the "have not" portion of the population while Haley is one of the "haves". The town is mostly very rich Senior Citizens with trophy wives and more money than they know what to do with. Mustang and Monica are single moms with more attitude than money who want to find out what happened to their friend the kindergarten teacher, Molly Miars. They don't believe for one second she died from a heroin overdose.

Feisty Sleuths

I found the banter between the three women hysterically funny and the situations they got themselves into were comical most of the times, too. As the women look into the death of their friend they begin to see a darker side to their community than they ever knew existed. There are so many quirky characters in each book, you won't believe it. Ms. Graykowski has nailed quirky and she comes up with some one-liners that will have you in stitches. I liked that Haley was sort of the 'nice one' of the three but every once in a while was able to get her 'snark' on to impress the other two. I think I enjoyed the camaraderie of the women even more than the figuring out the mystery part of the books. 

So, if you love a mystery and appreciate eccentric characters who might be more than a little off-center; I think you will enjoy this short little series. The setting is unique and the plot a little bizarre but I found the books a nice escape from the standard Cozy Mystery. You might enjoy them, too.

camphor-tree-pto-club
What is this tree? They found one in Molly's yard.
image courtesy of Pixabay.com

The women find a tree that looks much like the one above in Molly's backyard. You will have to read the books to find out what it is and why she was growing it. It will surprise you, at least it did me.




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, July 30, 2019

Seven Sisters Book Review

Historical Fiction of the Roman Empire

roman legion
Could this Roman legion be marching to the Seven Sisters?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I would like to share a review of the book Seven Sisters by David Bowman with you today. Most of the time when I pick a book to share with you, it is one that is typically written with the female reader in mind. Oh, a few would be appealing to both genders but generally my reading tastes lean toward my own gender. Today's review will be about a book that I think will appeal to most men.

Mr. Bowman has written a fine piece of historical fiction that takes place in the Roman Empire during the Ninth Century. The story falls into what is often termed as alternative history where actual history takes on a speculative nature allowing for people, places, and events to be in the plot that either didn't exist or didn't happen.



Short Synopsis of Seven Sisters

Crastus is the Commander of the Fifth Legion for the Emperor of Rome. He is a veteran of the Roman military and has earned a great deal of respect from the men he leads and fellow commanders of other legions in the vast military of the empire. He is affectionately referred to as "The Silver Fox" and is known for his superb strategies in battle and for his element of surprise when fighting the enemy. As the story begins, Crastus has been commanded by the Emperor to oversee a campaign involving his own legion along with the Seventh and the Seventeenth. Their mission? To take back the fortified city called Seven Sisters from The Pretender who has kept the empire in a civil war for the last 5 years. This city is the best fortified area in the entire empire, even better than Rome. It has seven fortresses and an ingenuous water defense system. It will be up to Crastus to direct all three legions as they besiege the fortified city and defeat what is left of the rebel army. The task before him will not be easy and if he fails, the Emperor will surely have his head. Will he be able to use the new weapons and his cunning to win the city back? At what cost?

My recommendation:


As I mentioned above this is a book that will appeal to many male readers. I'm not saying woman can't enjoy it; I actually did find it fascinating. There is no romance involved in the plot. It is strictly preparing for battles, strategy planning  and the battles themselves. Political schemes and corruption in the government are also revealed. The battle scenes aren't too horribly graphic but it doesn't take much to see in your mind's eye what is going on during the attacks. I thought the use of their "new weapons" was a fun piece to the story. A kind of using the latest technology of war only it is taking place in the Ninth Century. 

I can see where this wouldn't necessarily be a book that female readers would enjoy but I do think that it would be a very nice gift for your spouse or son to have to read. They are going to enjoy the regimen of the soldiers, the preparing for attacks and the way the men interact with each other. Actually, I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was refreshing to read something that I normally wouldn't choose to read. 

So, why did I pick this book in the first place you might ask? Well, you know me; I am always looking for authors who haven't received much recognition from the reading public. David Bowman actually came to my attention in an unexpected way. I was looking for a designer to do book covers for me and found his website, Brightling Spur. David worked with me to come up with new covers for my Roni Rainer Mysteries and he has also helped me with the covers for my newest (soon to be released) series Cabin 9 Mysteries. When I discovered that he was not only a clever designer of book covers but also an author, I wanted to read his work. I wasn't disappointed in his covers or his writing.

In fact, Seven Sisters is the first book in a trilogy. He has also written Two Brothers which continues the story of Crastus and Rome and the final book is Imperator that concludes the story. I have read the first two completely and am about to finish the third book. If you are looking for a good gift to a male reader on your list, these books will not disappoint.




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, July 23, 2019

Selective Spells Book Review

Witches, Spells, Dogs & A Mystery

french-bulldog
Is this Beezley the man turned into a dog?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I'll be reviewing another Cozy Mystery for you today: Selective Spells by Willow Mason. It is Book 1 in the series Beezley and the Witch. It is also the debut novel of this fellow Indie Author.

The story is told in the first person by the main character. She is a witch living in a small town who has been excommunicated from her coven. Up until she got into trouble with the white witches in the area she was a librarian of sorts guarding boxes of spells that shouldn't be tampered with. Now, she has lost her job and her powers are diminished to a certain degree but not completely gone.

Losing her job and the support of the coven is bad enough but then the leader informs her that she is being evicted from her home, too. A witch has to eat and work in order to pay rent no matter where she lives. Searching for employment, she finds a notice for a job that requires the employee be a witch. She decides to look into the opportunity because she is still a witch she just isn't a part of the coven.

This is when she meets Beezley for the first time. He is in the form of a French Bulldog and will be her boss if he gives her the job. Humans wouldn't be able to understand Beezley's canine ramblings; it would just sound like barking, yipping and yapping. But since our narrator is a witch she understands everything he says. It turns out that he was once a Detective on the police force but has been turned into a dog. He is working on the same case that he had when he was in his human form but has trouble with little things like communicating with non-witches, texting on his phone, and using the computer. 

The two don't exactly hit it off in the first interview and our Witch is not interested in the job until she finds out about her eviction. She goes back to take the job and ask to live with the dog detective. They begin to work on the mystery of deaths that are marked as accidents but Beezley's instincts think there is something more to the whole sorted mess. We travel through the pages of spells, deception, betrayal and surprises as the readers.


Recommendation of Selective Spells

I highly recommend this cozy mystery to anyone who loves the genre. It was unique in the concept of the plot. The characters were both humorous and believable. Well, as believable as one can be if they are a witch and a man turned into a dog. That is the wonderful thing about fiction! The characters can be anything and anywhere. 

I enjoyed the story being told in the first person instead of the more standard third person. Being an author, myself, I know that is a little more difficult to write. Our little witch is allowed to have her snarky thoughts and we see her vulnerability better from her perspective. 

This book was extremely fun to read and to work through the clues of the mystery. Well, done Ms. Mason! I look forward to your future books. I think many of you will enjoy Selective Spells, also. The plot flows nicely, the premise is original and the reading is light and cozy just like it is supposed to be.



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, July 16, 2019

A Murder in Helvetica Bold Book Review

Thistlewood Star Cozy Mystery Series

newspaper printing machine

Helvetica Bold might be found in these print blocks
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Late last week, I finished A Murder in Helvetica Bold. Today, I'll be offering you a review of the first book in this Cozy Mystery Series written by Jessa Archer another Indie Author.

The series is called Thistlewood Star Mysteries and currently has three books published. Each title includes a different typeface from the old fashioned way of printing a newspaper. Of course with the advent of computers those old machines aren't used any longer and we don't refer to them as typeface but fonts. Still, the typeface or font titles intrigued my curiosity. 

They mystery in book one takes place in a small town in Tennessee. Ruth Townsend has moved back to her hometown after her marriage ended abruptly. As a young girl she worked for the local newspaper and learned the art of producing a newspaper with an old printing press. Her former boss and the owner of the Thistlewood Star passed away several years ago and the newspaper office sat neglected. Ruth buys the building and the paper in hopes of reviving the little paper. Currently it has about 12 subscribers but Ruth wants to change that.

While visiting her best friend, Wren, for lunch one day they hear a scream from outside. A elderly neighbor has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her home. Ruth and Wren can tell by the position of the body and the look of surprise on Edith Morton's face that it most likely was not an accidental fall. 

Ruth had been a reporter for a newspaper in Nashville before returning home to Thistlewood and Wren is the town's only mortician. Both women have experience with dead bodies and this one doesn't look right to either of them. How will they be able to convince the local sheriff that it wasn't an accident? He does seem inclined to just brush it aside and close the case.


My Recommendation for A Murder in Helvetica Bold


I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan to read the other books in the series. The characters were interesting and diverse. The plot flowed nicely and there were a few twists along the way. I'll give a little spoiler that won't tell you anything about the solving of the mystery. The use of the typeface names is really kind of clever on the author's part. The tradition of the newspaper's former owner was to do each obituary in a different lettering. He kept records of each one used in the past. Ruth uses Helvetica Bold for Edith Morton's to keep up the tradition. 

There were some funny scenes in the book and a little suspense. Overall, I loved the book and think you will, too. I did see a review that I found interesting. The reviewer had taken offense in the author's descriptions of some of the older characters. The reviewer called it a case of ageism. Being a not so very young chicken myself, I wasn't insulted. I thought her observations of senior citizens was sometimes amusing and also realistic but not insulting. Anyway, I loved the premise and the book. It is well written and kept my interest until the end. The author also surprised me as to who "did it". If you love Cozy Mysteries, I think you will enjoy this book.




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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Embers Book One Ascension Saga Reviewed

Ascension Saga Epic Fantasy

embers review


Enter a fantasy world in Embers Book 1 of a Saga
image courtesy of pixabay.com
If you are a fan of High and Epic Fantasies, I think you will be interested in my review of Embers the first book in the Ascension Saga by Brock Mays. Once you have read his book, I think you will be surprised that it is his debut novel. He writes like a master! Brock is also an Indie author like myself.

Labeled as an Epic Fantasy as far as genre goes it fits the definition quite nicely. The world that Mr. Mays has created is fantastic and the story he unravels is really one you can get lost in. I had a difficult time putting it down once I began to read it. 

His characters are well thought out and quite interesting. There are good people and bad people and some that you aren't always so sure about. Mr. Mays keeps you on your toes as you discover their abilities, their secrets and their agendas.

Summary of Embers:

Aleksander finds himself waking up in a world that is on fire and filled with chaotic fighting. His comprehension of the reason for the raging battle is not his problem. What he is confused about is Who he is. His past and where he is from is a blank. He assumes that his name must be Aleksander for one simple reason; the name has been freshly carved into his arm. He is also surprised to find out that he seems to have the ability to create fire from his hands. Is he the one who caused the world to be on fire? Which side of the war between Talohira and Thanatanos is he on?

He and a warrior named Shanthah are captured along with others by a race known as the Sangorans. These creatures appear to be human except that they are winged and are particularly adept at flying at night. Aleksander and the captives are quickly taken to a Talohiran slave camp to build a wall. The camp is full of different people from different parts of the region with many trying to figure out the best way to escape their captivity. 

The intricate plot takes the reader on a journey in a fight between good and evil. Sometimes you wonder which side is which on the good and evil scale. It is filled with action, a little romance, suspense, and a few interesting twists! Toward the end, I actually had an "I'll be darned" moment. Clever, Mr. Mays; very clever!

Gave it 5 stars

I rated this epic fantasy with 5 stars because I truly enjoyed reading Brock May's first novel Embers. I think you will, too if you enjoy Epic Fantasy that is well written. I know one thing, I can hardly wait for book two in the Ascension Saga!




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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Kitty Confidential Book Review

What If You Could Talk To The Kitty?

kitty eyes
Confidential conversations with a pampered cat
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I will be reviewing the book Kitty Confidential with you this morning. It is book one in the Pet Whisperer P.I. series by Molly Fitz. The series falls into the Cozy Mystery sub-genre of Mystery fiction and is a delightful addition to the other "cozies" in the world of books.

Angie Russo finds herself working as a paralegal in a local law firm after earning seven different associate degrees in college. She would just as soon go for another degree but her grandmother has insisted that it is past time for her to find her true calling in life. Little did either of them know what that "calling" would turn out to be.

Accidental Sleuth Meets A Spoiled Cat

Angie awakes from a near death experience in the law office of Fulton, Thompson and Associates. She was supposed to be making coffee for the people who have come to hear the reading of a will. Instead she finds herself flat on the floor with a large cat sitting on her chest. Octavius Maxwell Ricardo Edmund Frederick Fulton, said cat, is telling her that his late owner did not die of natural causes. The thing is, Angie understands what the cat is saying to her. None of the others gathered around her seem to be able to communicate with this pushy kitty. So, why can Angie suddenly understand everything he speaks?

Octo-cat, as Angie nicknames him, has led a pampered life in a huge home. He isn't too excited to stay in Angie's humble abode but he needs her help in solving the murder of his beloved Mrs. Fulton. He insists on only drinking expensive bottled water and his meals must be of a certain canned variety. He is moody, sarcastic and suddenly a very wealthy cat. 

Molly Fitz is the pen name for the author Melissa Storm. Writing under the different moniker, Ms. Storm has created a fun little series involving an interesting cast of characters. Any human who is owned by a cat can most likely relate to Angie being pushed around by a cat with an attitude. Well, except for the part of actually understanding what those mews mean. We are pretty sure what our kitty cat is trying to tell us but Angie can speak "cat". 

This was an entertaining little read that I think most of you will enjoy, especially if you share your life with a feline companion. The mystery has some nice little twists and turns while the characters are enjoyable to follow throughout the plot. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series; I think you will, too.





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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Elizabeth Taylor Book Reviews: A List

A Selection of Elizabeth Taylor Books


The editor of Vanity Fair is quoted as saying, "Try to imagine a star who combines the talent of a Meryl Streep with the beauty of a Nicole Kidman, the sensuality of a Penelope Cruz, and the notoriety of a Lindsay Lohan. Magnify that a hundredfold, and you're still only halfway to Elizabeth Taylor." He's absolutely right, of course, and it is no wonder we want to read and learn more about the life and times of Elizabeth Taylor.

Since almost the beginning of her career, there have been a number of books available for those who are curious and want to learn more about Taylor's life and her career as one of the most beautiful and popular actors in the world but, with the passing of this legendary actress in 2011, publishers raced to release a new selection of books and magazines covering her entire life. Some publishers chose simply to update books that had already been published by adding information about the final years of her life. A cheat of sorts but at least it makes books that fall in that category more complete.

On this page, you will find a selection of those books, biographical and otherwise, about the beautiful and talented Elizabeth Taylor. If you are interested in reading more, I know you will find a great choice on this page.

Elizabeth Taylor Eight Remarkable Stories From The Pages of Vanity Fair

Elizabeth Taylor A Loving Tribute

Eight Remarkable Stories From The Pages of Vanity Fair


About Hollywood's most beautiful, most controversial star, this book, which has the full title of The Best of Vanity Fair ELIZABETH TAYLOR: Eight Remarkable Stories About Hollywood’s Most Beautiful, Most Controversial Star, is available only as an ebook.  One way to beat the rush to bring new publications to market is to create an ebook like this one. This book features an introduction by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, stories by Dominick Dunne, George Hamilton and Sam Kashner and two new articles by David Kamp and Gwen Davis. It also contains a series of photographs by Firooz Zahedi, Douglas Kirkland and Helmut Newton, a biographical time line and a filmography of Elizabeth Taylor's films. A great resource for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about Elizabeth Taylor. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

A Loving Tribute by Cindy De La Hozis


From 1942 until 2011, we were in love with Taylor's beauty, her movies and her lifestyle. Elizabeth Taylor: A Loving Tribute by Cindy De La Hozis, a 128-page book, reminds us WHY we have loved Elizabeth Taylor for more than 75 years. Find it here on Amazon.

People Magazine Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly

People Magazine’s Special Edition Hardcover Book


People Magazine's hardcover memorial book is a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. "Now that was a star: Eight marriages. Three Oscars. Scandals, drama and diamonds galore, glittering from Hollywood to Rome, Acapulco and the French Riviera." It is full of photographs and stories and shares images and information starting with her appearance at the age of 12 in National Velvet, through her crazy years with Richard Burton to the legend and businesswoman she was in the end. Find it on Amazon here.

Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly


Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life In Style by Susan Kelly is a photographic record, with commentary, about Taylor's fashion style on and off of the movie screen. It includes her Hollywood gowns, her jewelry and her beauty, which really needed no adornment. She was one of the most popular movie stars in the world and the world watched her personal style evolve from starlet all the way through to the activist that she was in her later years. Find it here on Amazon.

Elizabeth Taylor A Passion for Life Joseph Papa

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor

A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa


Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend by Joseph Papa is an anthology which includes Taylor's own thoughts about her life, including her childhood, career, love, motherhood and so much more. It shares the determined but generous personality of a legendary woman. Find it here on Amazon.

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: Obsessions, Passions, and Courage by Ellis Amburn


The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions, and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor by Ellis Amburn is one of the most steamy Hollywood works in recent memory. Amburn put together a page-turning chronicle of Taylor's life based upon the huge number of public interviews, autobiographies and gossip columns that accompanied the actress throughout her very public life. It is a tour of her romantic life slanted to her reputation (as coined by Oscar Levant) as "the other woman of the year." Find it here on Amazon.

The Queen of the Silver Screen: Elizabeth Taylor

Queen of the Silver Screen by Ian Lloyd


Elizabeth Taylor: Queen of the Silver Screen By Ian Lloyd was released on June 9, 2011. Lloyd writes for Hello Magazine and he wrote Carlton's An Invitation to the Royal Wedding and covered Taylor’s visits to Britain. This book follows her life including her beauty and acting skills, her love of jewelry and lifestyle, and her seven husbands. Find it on Amazon by clicking here.

My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor

My Love Affair with Jewelry by Elizabeth Taylor


This is a lovely, large book packed full of illustrations of Taylor's jewelry and written by the celebrity herself in her own very readable words. It is a beautiful coffee table book, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and can HIGHLY RECOMMEND. You can read more about this book in my complete review by clicking right here or find it on Amazon by clicking here.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By Taylor Jenkins Reid is a fictionalized story not really about Elizabeth Taylor but certainly with similarities. If you are looking for a novel packed with Hollywood goings on, you might like to check out this book. You can read my complete review of this book here.

Autographed Elizabeth Taylor Books


For a fan, I cannot imagine anything better than the opportunity to own a book that was autographed by Elizabeth Taylor and the only way that I have of tracking down an autographed copy of one of her books is via eBay. You can see the signed book options currently available on eBay by clicking right here.

Are YOU a Taylor fan? Do you enjoy Elizabeth Taylor's movies? Have you read any of these books? Any others about the actress that you would recommend?

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

More Reading:


The Best Elizabeth Taylor Movies
Elizabeth Taylor was definitely an icon. Living from 1932 to 2011, she only recently left us but, because of her amazing beauty, talent and incredibly long career, she left us with some very memorable movies. This page is dedicated to the BEST...

Meet Elizabeth (Liz) Taylor: A Brief Biography
How would YOU summarize the life of someone as amazing as Elizabeth Taylor? Would you use words like beautiful and talented? If so, you would just be scratching the surface of what made Liz Taylor special. I just stumbled across a lovely video...






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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Secrets In a Bottle Cozy Mystery Review

Delightfully Quirky Cozy Mystery

great dane
Great Dane A Cozy Pet In Secrets In A Bottle
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I had the pleasure of reading Secrets In A Bottle the other day and wanted to give it a review today. Written by independent author, Shelly West this Cozy Mystery is her debut novel and the first book in the Whodunit Antiques series. 

Abigail Lane lives in Boston with her Great Dane, Thor. She despises her job but can't afford to quit. One morning her mother calls with a cryptic message telling her that her Grandmother is in the hospital and Abigail needs to go deal with it. 

Cramming her large dog into her VW, Abigail drives to the seaside town of Wallace Point to meet the grandmother she has never known. Her mother has refused to tell her anything about her family over the years. Abigail hopes her grandmother will live long enough for her to finally meet her and hopefully find out why they have been kept apart for so many years. 

Arriving at the hospital, Abigail finds her grandmother in a coma. Many of the townspeople are surprised to learn that Mrs. Lane has a grandchild. Abigail is taken to her grandmother's antique shop Whodunit Antiques to stay and help run the business while her grandmother recovers. Apparently her grandmother had tripped over a dead body that seems to be missing now. As the story progresses Abigail also hears of the history of the quaint little town and a long feud between a whaling family and a family of pirates. 

Do you want to find out more? Well, then run on over and grab your copy of this engagingly fun cozy mystery! Ms. West has created a wonderful little town filled with interesting residents for you to get to know. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and look forward to reading the second book in the series, soon. I think you will enjoy this book especially if you are a fan of cozy mysteries like I am.



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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Dawning Voyager Chronicles Book Review

Book One In Fantasy Fiction Series

elaria of the dawning
Maybe Elaria of The Dawning might look like this
(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
I would like to share another book review with you today. The Dawning is book one in the Voyager Chronicles, Prophecy Series. Written by Julie Embleton, a fellow Indie author, this story falls into the Fantasy Fiction genre and in the sub-genre of Sword and Sorcery. 

As a fan of many of the Fantasy Fiction authors, I was thrilled to find the work of Ms. Embleton to begin reading. She has done a marvelous job of creating a unique world for her story to take place in. I admire the people who can build a different world to tell a story in! Julie Embleton did not disappoint.

The world where Elaria lives is divided into nine realms. Well, actually there are ten but no one wants to talk about that tenth one; it's a bad 'un! It is possible to travel between these realms but not in a way that we are accustomed to. One would have to be Adorned in order to travel and he or she would also need to know where a gate was and have the Gatekeeper let them through the portal. The Adorned are people who either have some sort of magical gift or practice magic in some way. These people with the magic running through them would rather the Unadorned not be aware of their abilities. It isn't looked upon favorably. You will have to read the book to find out why.

A little about Elaria in The Dawning

Over a century ago, a prophecy was made. The Marked One was to be born. This child would be a ruler and would have unique and special Adorned gifts. Solomon, a sorcerer, is to teach this child, guide it, protect it and prepare it. He waits one hundred years or so for the signs that the Marked One has arrived.

Solomon is summoned to the realm where Lynan Castle sits to check on the newborn daughter of the King and Queen. Hidden away, the little Princess has the sovereign couple concerned. Entering the nursery, Solomon witnesses the beautiful baby spinning an object in mid-air and giggling as she does. Little Elaria is showing signs of magical power as an infant of only a few months old. Checking her for the mark, Solomon realizes he will be with this special child for a long time.

As Elaria grows and gets close to her 18th birthday, more of her gifts are revealed. Most of the story takes place around the approaching birthday and her becoming a co-ruler with her father, the King. You know me, I am not a fan of spoilers so I won't go much further in my synopsis. Suffice it to say, Elaria is a very interesting character who I think you will enjoy following as the story unfolds.

The Realms Are Different

Before Solomon goes to Lynan Castle he is in a realm that feels like modern day. Elaria lives in a realm that has more of a medieval feel to it. Modern conveniences do not exist in her realm. Travel is by horse and carriage, guards protect with swords, heat comes from a fireplace. You get the picture.

An Awesome Fantasy Read

I highly recommend The Dawning by Julie Embleton to all of you fantasy fiction fans out there! It was a wonderful book with engaging characters and the plot flows well. I am looking forward to reading book two in the series. I think that I heard that book three will be released later this year. Give this Indie Author a chance, I am certain that you will not be disappointed! 




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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Grandmothers Love to be Remembered Come Mother's Day (A Book Review)

Being a Grandmother is one of the most satisfying jobs in the world.  We get to have fun with our Grandchildren and not have the day to day responsibility of raising them.  (We have done that already!)

We are the ones that love to see our children and their children in settings that are remembered with much fondness.  I know I enjoy seeing my son and his children doing some of the same things that we did when he was a youngster.  Grandpa loves watching them play road hockey! Some of the funniest memories come from when he played with his children.  They still laugh an awful lot about some of those times.

When Mother's Day rolls around (and it does every year), sometimes Grandmothers get overlooked.  But, I must say this, when we are remembered, it is a wonderful feeling.

We grandmothers are called upon to look after little ones when Mom and Dad just need some "quiet" time on their own.  Date nights can be a rarity when you have little ones that are always on the go!

I'm just getting back from a week at their house, while mom and dad headed south for a 10 year anniversary "get away"!  Believe me, grandmomming for a week at a time can be a workout!

Having said that, I came across a great book for Grandmothers (and there is even one for Grandfathers), that makes being the "Grandparent" a special treat!  It would make a great little gift for that special "Grandma" in your life!  Especially great at Mother's Day!



This is a book that every grandmother should have!  I love the story and how it reverses the roles of the sitter and the one being babysat!  This Grandmother in particular, loves reading books to her "grands", so this is a shoe in for me.  Whenever I am in charge of looking after my little ones, reading is one of the pastimes that we all enjoy.  This book makes it even easier, because the little ones enjoy the role reversal.  They are the ones looking after Grandma!

With the cost of greeting cards these days, I would much rather receive a book like this one and the cost is not much more!  Being remembered by your children on a day special to all mothers (and grandmothers) makes your heart swell  just a little bit and you get a great story to share with those that you love so much.  Try it out for your grandmother and see if there isn't just a little twinkle in her eyes.  Shared love and sharing a great story are two of the best things in life, at least for this grandma!





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