Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Chapter Book Reviews

Anne of Green Gables Early Reader Books
I do not have any wee folk around anymore nor did I ever have any wee girls about the house but that did not stop me from holding throughout my life a love of all things related to Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island.  A hold over from my girlhood, I am thrilled to know that the red headed heroine we loved as girls continues to be introduced to successive generations of girls through some beautiful books and television programming.

Green Gables in Anne Arrives
Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits are a retelling of the traditional Anne of Green Gables story for early readers in an easy chapter book format that have been adapted by Canadian author Kallie George. Kallie, that is, with an e. Anne Arrives was released in 2018 and Anne's Kindred Spirits will be released in 2019.

The first story introduces the young reader to Anne Shirley and sets her down at Green Gables where we all know that she belongs. She settles in, that is, after a rough start when they find out she is a girl and not a boy and after she has a run in with the neighbor, Mrs. Lynde.

The second story introduces Anne and the reader to her bosom buddy, Diana. In this book, Anne enjoys a community picnic, which is her first, although that outing is jeopardized when Marilla's prized brooch goes missing.

Author Kallie George has written a number of other books for children including a picture book about Anne Shirley called Goodnight, Anne. Kallie says that she believes that she and Anne Shirley are kindred spirits!

Anne Shirley in Anne Arrives

The illustrator Abigail Halpin says that she was gifted with a copy of the original book when she was a teenager and that that book still holds a special place on her book shelf.  The illustrations in Anne Arrives, she says, were "influenced by her memories of one of the most beautiful, magical spots on the planet, Prince Edward Island." Her illustrations were crafted using a combination of traditional and digital media.

Both of these books were written with children aged 6 to 8 or in grades 1 through 3 in mind. However, if you child is not quite ready to read these books on her own, you could certainly read them to her. Although intended for children, they are suitable for any one who loves Anne.

I think that this book is wonderful, sharing as it does a simple version of the classic story with the accompaniment of some charming illustrations. My favorite picture might be the two page spread that shows Green Gables in the distance, shown above.  It sets the scene in my head, for sure.

As you can tell, yes, this book is RECOMMENDED by me. I think it is lovely but I am biased toward anything from Anne's world.  However, Kirkus Reviews calls Anne Arrives, "A dream of an adaptation that is an unabashed love letter to the series that inspired it." In my mind that is high praise indeed.

I think that either book would make a beautiful gift for anyone who loves Anne but it would be especially appropriate for any young girl who is learning or will soon be learning to read. If you want to expose your children to Anne's world, you can never start to young!

You can find both books on Amazon by clicking here.  If you are looking to put a great gift set together, you might consider bundling one of these books with one of the beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas found on this page.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Anne Arrives and Anne's Kindred Spirits on Amazon.
Find a page full of beautiful Anne of Green Gables gift ideas.


Anne Arrives by Kallie George

Anne's Kindred Spirits by Kallie George






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Perfect Mother (2018) Book Review

"Some people are so good at making perfect look easy…"

The Perfect Mother is a psychological domestic thriller as well as a reflection on motherhood. It is set in Brooklyn, New York, where a group of new mothers whose babies are all born in the same month become friends through a mom’s group and go on to support each other through the ups and downs of new motherhood.

These women and one 'token' man are very different individuals and come from a variety of backgrounds. However, they are united through the common experience of motherhood.

When the mothers finally allow themselves to go out for an evening and leave their babies at home, their worst nightmare comes true. A baby is kidnapped.

A few members of the group become obsessed with helping recover the baby and their informal investigation unearths secrets from the past that will test marriages and friendships.

Author Aimee Molloy told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that she came up with the idea of the book when her own children were less than five years old. She was still very aware of “the pressures women face and the choices they have to make, particularly when they’re raising a child in a city with no family around to help.”

Here is the short book trailer, which does not really tell much about the book but definitely gives you a feel for the mood in this story:

The Perfect Mother is Molloy’s first novel. However, she also wrote the very successful New York Times Bestselling biography However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph and she is the co-author of several non-fiction books.

Is The Perfect Mother RECOMMENDED by me? It is. It is a very enjoyable, easy-to-read book with a suspenseful ending that will keep you guessing. Amazon says that it was one of the most anticipated books of the summer of 2018 though I do not know how they measure that statistic. It did go on to become a New York Times bestseller and will soon be a movie. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said it is "gripping and suspenseful and impossible to put down, a true who done it." Pick it up and you will take a suspenseful trip into motherhood.

Of special note is the fact that the grandmothers in my book club who have young grandchildren enjoyed the daily emails woven throughout that detailed what babies might or might not be doing at each stage.

Order your copy of The Perfect Mother on Amazon by clicking right here. If you have read it, do tell what the rest of us what you thought of the book and, if you enjoyed it, do stay tuned for the upcoming movie version of this novel that is being compared to the previous book and movie releases, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of The Perfect Mother from Amazon.
Follow my Pinterest board full of gift ideas for moms and my board full of great books to read.











Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review
Despite the recommendation of every member of my book club and many of my other friends, I have only just finally found my way into the world created by Louise Penny. Penny is a Canadian author who, since the year 2005, has written a series of murder mystery novels that are set in Canada in the romantic Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec.

I was happy to at last have the first book, Still Life, in my hands. I read the first few pages and wondered what all the fuss was about. I can honestly say that I did not like the book until page 59, when I met the main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. It is he who makes this series great when he solves crimes with careful observation and integrity.  When I met him, I was hooked.

I love Penny's realistic portrayals of people both good and bad, of the careful and sometimes instinctive detective work and of the idyllic, almost cottage-like setting.

Three Pines is a village so small as not to be found on the map and I have yet to look and see if it is a real village or not. It has cozy homes with fireplaces, friendly community gatherings and lots of home cooking. This book, Still Life, and presumably subsequent ones in the series, will make you want to visit and stay at the village's lone bed and breakfast.

I am a city girl but Penny’s books have me wanting to move to a quaint little village somewhere 'away from it all.' However, as we all know, it is impossible to truly be away from it all and despite the lovely location, the people who live here enjoy real life issues. They struggle through whatever life throws at them and even, sometimes, experience a murder or two. When that happens,  Chief Inspector Gamache and his team of of provincial police officers are called in from Montreal to solve the crime.

In Still Life, Chief Inspector Gamache arrives to investigate the suspicious death in the woods of a local school teacher and secret artist. Is it an accidental hunting death or is it something more sinister? You will have to read the book to find out.

Is Still Life recommended by me? Yes, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as is the second book, A Fatal Grace.

In 2006, Kirkus Reviews wrote that Inspector Gamache was, “Cerebral, wise and compassionate" and that "he was destined for stardom.” They were absolutely correct on both counts and, as they also said, this first novel was a “stellar debut.” Since then, Louise Penny’s books and Gamache’s adventures, have kept fans reading and anxiously awaiting the next book. Yes, I will be reading more of the books in this series in the order as presented here on this book list:

Still Life
A Fatal Grace
The Cruelest Month
A Rule Against Murder
he Brutal Telling
Bury Your Dead
The Hangman
Trick of the Light
The Beautiful Mystery
How the Light Gets In
The Long Way Home
The Nature of the Beast
A Great Reckoning
Glass Houses
Kingdom of the Blind

If you enjoy a clever mystery solved in an interesting environment, you should check out the first book, Still Life. You can find it here on Amazon or see all of Louise Penny’s books by clicking right here.

Still Life has been made into a television movie. I have yet to see it but the general consensus of avid Inspector Gamache fans is that the movie was disappointing, which is not really surprising considering the popularity of the books! If you are going to watch the movie, make sure to read the book first!

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Still Life in book, Kindle or audiobook formats on Amazon.

Louise Penny Still Life Book Review & List




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Reviewing Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Reading on the balcony with my new Kindle.
I received my new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader nearly two weeks ago and I'm loving it! I was very hesitant to upgrade as I don't like change and often have trouble figuring out new electronic devices. I started researching current e-reader options as my original Kindle (a Kindle Keyboard, remember those?) was starting to have some serious malfunctions after all these years. I felt forced to shop for a new e-reader before my old one just stopped working. I have to say that so far I'm very excited about my purchase. My new Kindle is awesome! I like it so much that I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

New 6" Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader 


My new Kindle has a 6" touchscreen. It is slightly smaller than my first Kindle, and easier to pack in a small bag or purse.

This Kindle has built-in lights - no need to buy a separate, external light.

My new Kindle is advertised as having a resolution of 300 ppi. Now, that doesn't mean a single thing to me except that it is easy to see that compared to my original e-reader, the images are GREAT.

I had briefly considered purchasing a Kindle Fire so that I could also read magazines and have color photos. But I'm really glad that I stuck with the Paperwhite for two main reasons: 
My eyes. I am already familiar with how easy Paperwhite technology is on my eyes in general, in the dark while camping, and there is no screen glare when outside during the day. Computer screens strain my eyes. The Paperwhite does not.
Awesome battery. I require the long-lasting battery life of the Kindle Paperwhite. I want to read everywhere I go. That includes camping at The Shack, hiking, and waiting for appointments. There's nothing worse then reaching for an electronic device with a dead battery.

The Kindle I chose:




There are only two things that I'm concerned about so far. Both have to do with the touch screen:
No Buttons. I miss the buttons on my Kindle Keyboard that turned the pages. However, I'm becoming accustomed to turning the pages by tapping the side of the screen. But so far, I still wish for those buttons to turn the pages.
Oops! What Language is That?!  When I unboxed my Kindle I plugged it in to charge and I put it in the cover I bought. During that process, I touched the touchscreen and voila, all of my display turned to a different language! I had the hardest time trying to find anything in the online owner's manual that helped me to visually find the language settings so that I could change it back to English. Finally, with a video review and a lot of guesswork, I was able to make the language change I needed. I think the online owners manual should have more visual aids to go along with the written instructions.

The awesome cover I chose:




My Love Affair with E-Readers


I was aghast when e-readers were first introduced. Who in their right might would want to replace their beloved books with an electronic device?! Oh the horror. You wouldn't be able to read your books outside, or while camping, or while at the beach. What a terrible invention.

Then my son surprised me with a Kindle (3rd generation I think).  I bought a lighted, leather cover to protect it and to help me read it while camping. And I fell in love. I replaced my hoard of books with a single small item. And I found that even at the beach, I just place my Kindle in a gallon sized baggie and it is protected from the sand. Much better than soggy, gritty books after a day at the beach!

The only thing I didn't like about that first Kindle was the images didn't translate very well. Books with maps or drawings didn't always show up well. Or were too small to be read.

I think Kindle e-readers are awesome. They allow me to read anywhere and anytime. I always have my entire library with me. And I'm sure there are plenty of functions that I am not even aware of that others would enjoy. If you've considered buying a new Kindle Paperwhite, I encourage you to do it. I think you'll be glad you did.


Postscript:

Each and every time I've considered updating my Kindle, I've thought of Susan Deppner. She was a Review This contributor and a friend to many. I thought of her as the best Kindle advisor there was. I did refer back to the Kindle Reviews she had written for guidance. 

Susan, you may be gone from this earth, but you are not forgotten. I know you'd be as excited about my purchase as I am.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector's Edition Book Review

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector's Edition Book Review
The book The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a spin off from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter world. Using words translated by Hermione Granger, a thin volume was created. It includes text and pictures from J.K. Rowling and commentary from Professor Albus Dumbledore. Packed between the covers are five stories, fairy tales called The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock's Hairy Heart, Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump, and The Tale of the Three Brothers. These stories share glimpses into the wizards of Harry Potter’s world.

J.K. Rowling created an affordable ‘ordinary’ copy of the book that mere mortals like you and I could afford. You can read my review of that book here. Interestingly, it was created with a wide variety of covers and even re-released in 2017 with a new U.S. cover.

Rowling also created seven magnificent copies of this story by hand. Those amazing books were given to people closely related to the series and one of them was auctioned for charity. Take a look at those amazing books here in this Youtube video and see what those that have been sold fetched at auction.


I do wonder what one of those original handcrafted books would sell for now. Anyway, Rowling also released a collector’s edition of the book as shown in the pictures on this page. This version was more readily available though still much more expensive than the 'ordinary' hardcover book.

This limited printing collector's edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a beautiful set that was produced exclusively for sale on Amazon and released on December 4, 2008. I do not know what it originally sold for but as I write this page today in the spring of 2018, I see that it is available on Amazon at prices over $200 and on eBay where it appears to be more affordable, selling at prices starting around $100 and ending at about $230.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard Collector's Edition Book Review
Included in the collector's edition are the five fairy tales that you find in all of the versions of this book. However, they are packaged in a handsome case that looks like a wizarding textbook straight from the library at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry making it a wonderful addition to a Harry Potter fan's collection.

Inside the case you will find ten prints that can be framed, a reproduction of J.K. Rowling's introduction, ten pictures that are not found in the standard version of the book and, packed inside a velvet bag, the copy of the book itself, which is embellished with a metal skull, corners and clasp as well as replica gemstones and a green ribbon.

All profits from the original sale of the book in 2008 originally went to the Children's High Level Group. Of course, that is not likely the case today. Click here to read more about the Collector's Edition of the Tales of Beedle the Bard on Amazon.

See you
at the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard on eBay.
Find a great selection of Harry Potter gifts here.
Add a Harry Potter coffee mug to your collection.
Follow my Harry Potter board on Pinterest!







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review

The Mysteries of Nature


I've always loved learning more about nature. My library is full of field guides and other references to help me learn all I can about the natural world I see in my yard and in the wider area around where I live. That's why I couldn't resist picking up Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A field guide to the world in your backyard when I found it at a thrift store. It's part of The Curious Naturalist Series, and I'd like to get the rest of the series because I enjoyed this book so much. Let me tell you why.


Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review


Let's Consider Porcupines


I have never personally seen a porcupine up close. I've never seen one at all except in a zoo. Most of my information on this interesting animal came from reading The Adventures of Prickly Porky by Thornton Burgess when I was a child. Learn How I Learned to Love Thornton Burgess Books . That work of fiction was written by another naturalist. In his animal stories, the animals were dressed in human clothes and talked to each other, but their animal habits were accurately portrayed. Usually the animals interacted only with each other, with an occasional human encounter.

Sy Montgomery, in her Curious Naturalist Series, shares her own research and animal interactions. She says we can tell individual porcupines apart by their faces, just as we tell humans apart by theirs. This makes them easy to study because it's easy to follow individuals. Also, they won't run away from you unless you seem to threaten them.

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


Ever wonder how porcupines mate? Montgomery reveals that mystery. Did you know that porcupines can not only quill other species, but also themselves and other porcupines. They can quill themselves when they fall out of trees. And, yes, they do occasionally fall out of  trees. God protects the porcupines from such incidents by putting a natural antibiotic in their quills so their injuries won't get infected. This also helps people who get quilled, not that you want to experience that. Montgomery tells you how to safely remove a quill if you need to.

Porcupine quills can kill. They do it by working their way farther under the skin by means of microscopic barbs until they puncture vital organs. Some African porcupines have quills a foot long.  One naturalist found 600-pound tigers that porcupines had killed this way. These are just some of the things I learned about these creatures from this book.



How the Book is Arranged


This book is arranged by season. The chapter "A Porcupine's Private Life" was in the spring section, where one can also learn about bird courtship, ferns, frogs' mating rituals, and the life that can survive in various types of dry mud that come to life when rains liquify them to wet mud again. The author also discusses various kinds of edible wild plants here

One of my favorite chapters in the summer section was "Messages in Spiders' Webs." It seems that E.B. White wasn't as far off as we thought when he wrote Charlotte's Web, but it's only garden spiders that leave these messages in their webs. I didn't know all the other ways spiders use their webs until I read this book.

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review
Spider Catching Fly, © B. Radisavljevic


Another fun summer chapter was "Never Sleep with a Skunk." This section also suggested activities kids can do with fireflies. In addition I discovered a lot I didn't know about tide pools, mosquitoes, fossils and rocks, invasive plants, and lightning.

The autumn section actually has a chapter "In Praise of Flies." As I wrote in another post here, I'm more interested in How To Trap Those Flies That Drive You Crazy than I am in observing them, but I still learned some interesting information. I enjoyed the chapters on mushrooms, animal migration, fall flowers, beavers, chipmunks and squirrels, and wild turkeys more.

Nature's Everyday Mysteries: A Book Review
Squirrel at San Miguel Mission


The winter section features many subjects I'd not thought much about before. Did you know that you can discern the history of some regions by looking at the trees in the landscape? I didn't. I was more familiar with what I read in "Tidal Treasures: Exploring the off-season beach." What I learned about the crow and the snowy owl was fascinating to me. I've never seen a snowy owl, but I have certainly seen crows. I didn't know how intelligent they really are.

The winter section finishes off with information on reading animal tracks and sign, how small mammals like the shrew survive winter, and the life below pond ice. I've never lived with ice and snow, so these chapters were all new to me.

My Review of Nature's Everyday Mysteries

Although the book calls itself a field guide to the world in your backyard, its illustrations are sparse -- only eight pen and ink drawings in its 152 pages. The drawings are detailed and of high quality. Since no other illustrator is credited, I'm assuming Montgomery illustrated the book herself. The book is actually a compilation of a series of nature journal columns Montgomery wrote for the Boston Globe

Rather than being an actual field guide in the usual sense of the word, the book is actually an aid to understanding the sights we normally don't think much about as we pass them. In the Introduction, Montgomery explains how she came to write the chapter on mud (originally a monthly column). One March the sights outside seemed boring. It would appear almost nothing interesting was happening to write about. Everywhere she turned she only seemed to see mud. She thought of visiting her friend's farm in the next town, but then she remembered that her friend's steep driveway was probably all mud. It was then she remembered how full of life dried mud became when water was added and got the idea for her column. When you read it, you will  never look at mud season the same way again. 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves nature and wants to look beyond the surface one sees. Its short chapters were just right for entertaining reading when I only had short amounts of time to spend. Like most nature books, it helped me better understand the intricacies of God's creation. I plan to read as many other books by this author as I can afford. 

You can find these books by this best-selling nature writer at Amazon.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Piano Maker Book Review

Austrian Kurt Palka’s THE PIANO MAKER is a fictional adventure story with a strong female lead and, true to the title, it is actually about the world of the piano. It is the story of one woman’s life journey from France in the time of the First World War to Canada in the 1930s. Given exceptional training as a child and a young woman as both a pianist and as a piano maker for the family firm, she loses everything during the war and eventually winds up in a small town on the French Canadian shore.

When she arrives, she appears in good clothing and with a nice car but everything that she owns, besides her skills related to the piano, is packed in that car. Her pianist skills, however, are enough for the local church to take her in as a pianist and choir conductor without even checking her references and she is thrilled to have found a new and simple life. Unfortunately, the years in between her time in France and this town contain a secret that she is unable to be rid of.

The story flips back and forth between the time of her new life and the times that have passed. It shares the piano training she received as a young woman and her struggles with that business during war time; the love of a solider and the subsequent loss of that man; another man who rescues her when she needs help supporting both herself and her daughter. The journey includes time spent searching for treasures of different sorts in Indochina and Canada. It includes some uncomfortable situations as the woman recalls at trial her struggle for survival in the frozen Canadian north.

The Piano Maker is RECOMMENDED by me. As a Canadian, I loved that it is partially set in Canada. Anyone with an interest in pianos might enjoy the references to piano playing and piano making that are included in this book. As well, those from the Maritimes and those who enjoy war-time fiction might want to pick up this book.

Amazon says that readers who enjoy The Piano Maker will also like The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway and Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I have not read the first two but remember loving Sarah’s Key.

For those looking for piano-themed fiction, it turns out that there are an endless variety of books available. You might enjoy The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason (a Nobel prize winner), The Piano (which is also a movie) by Jane Campion or The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (which is set in Paris) by Thad Carhart’s. Apparently, books with the word piano in the title are a bit trendy though apparently not all include very much about the world of the piano. You can see Amazon’s collection of Piano fiction here.

You can read more about Kurt Palka’s The Piano Maker or buy it from Amazon here.

Have you read The Piano Maker or maybe any of the related books? What did you think?

See you at
the book store!

Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy The Piano Maker on Amazon.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Social Media For Writers Reviewed

Authors Need To Market Their Work

writers market
Writer Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
One of the gifts that I just received for Christmas was the book Social Media For Writers. My daughter thought it might be helpful for me to brush up on the skills needed to be successful with the use of Social Media in regards to my marketing strategy in order to sell my books. 

If you are a regular reader of Review This, you are probably aware that I published my first Cozy Mystery novel in October of 2017. Then in November I published my second book in the series. It isn't like in the past when if you were lucky enough to find a publisher for your books who offered you a contract. Back then if you were a writer with a large publishing firm, they did a lot of the marketing for you. A lot of us have gone the self-publishing route which means that all of the marketing is up to us, the author. Even if we had a big name publisher we would need to market our own work. Most publishing companies of today only spend their advertising money on well known authors (who kind of don't need it but that is another topic all together!). 

Those of you who know me probably think that I probably already understand how to use social media because this isn't my first rodeo with a writing gig. I might have published my first fictional work but I've been around the block several times when it comes to promoting my online writing ventures. I do understand the basics of social media and use it regularly but I will admit not to its fullest potential. The game is different for authors in particular and let's face it...the way to use these social networks changes on a regular basis. How many times have you reached a point where you feel that you have figured it all out, to have one or two of the popular sites change the playing field? I'm guessing a lot!

So, I really appreciate my daughter gifting me this book! I'm reminding myself of the basics while being able to come up with a strategy for my writing and promotions.

What I like about this book by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine is that it is written in an easy to understand format. As I said, I'm not new to social media but even if I were the content would be easy to understand. They do a really good job of explaining how each option works and best practices for a writer to use on each platform. They cover blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Do they recommend that you try to use all of them? Actually, no. They understand that if one were to try to have a solid presence on all of them; there would be no time for the actual writing of the books. They suggest that you pick the three that you are most comfortable with and go from there.

As I am studying this book, I feel confident with their advice. They are both authors in their own right and I can tell by the content that they actually use social media to promote not just this book but a series of books that they have co-authored together. I don't know about you but for me that is huge. I'm sure that you have experienced the same as I have over the years with getting advice from a so called expert who has less experience than you do when the dust all settles.

I really like that the authors break down the formats and give realistic time frames for using them. Having experience with most of these social media networks, I can tell that they are giving good information on the time that can be invested in working with the different options. They are even honest about having invested a lot of time on a few of them and figuring out that for their needs and their time constraints, it wasn't worth it. That doesn't mean that you will come to the same conclusion because we all have different styles and comfort levels. I do appreciate their honesty in the results for themselves!

Now, I realize that not all of you are planning to write a novel or a work of non-fiction; that being said I do know that many of you have a strong online presence either contributing here on Review This or your own sites. Perhaps you contribute on another multi-user site. My point is that much of the information will be beneficial for your online work as well.

I know in the past, I have tried to have a presence on all of the social media sites. It doesn't take long to get burnt out trying to keep up. Reading a book like Social Media For Writers is helpful in reminding us of what it is we want to accomplish and the audience we are trying to reach. This book gives some realistic advice on coming up with a strategy that is not overwhelming and that with the proper effort put forth should offer a successful result. It is not going to happen overnight but with dedication and a good plan, it can happen.

I am finding this book very helpful and I think that many of you will, also. I know I am changing my strategy after having read it. I am going to concentrate on three platforms and not worry about all of the others. How about you? If you were going to limit your marketing to three platforms, which would you be willing to invest your time in?



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Coffeehouse Mysteries - A Series Review

The Coffeehouse Mysteries - a cozy book series review
Buy the Coffeehouse Mysteries by clicking here!
If you love reading murder mysteries in coffee shops then Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse books are ideal for you. Well maybe not the one where the caramel chocolate latte is poisoned, but.....

I do like murder mysteries - both the easy to read cozy mysteries (which Cleo Coyle's ones are) and the grittier ones by the likes of Ruth Rendell or Kathy Reichs.

The Coffeehouse books are a little different in that they involve coffee - yes a whole series of books that unite both coffee and murder, want to know more?

Let's review the series of The Coffeehouse Mysteries, be warned this could become almost as addictive as your morning cup of Joe!

Clare Cosi is the Star of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

A Coffee Lover & Sleuth Too!

Clare Cosi is the heroine of these murder mysteries and she works as manager (soon to be partner) of The Village Blend a coffee shop that has been in Greenwich Village, New York for decades as it was started by her ex-mother-in-law, referred to simply as Madame!

As well as being the manager Clare seems to somehow have a connection to murder on a regular basis and then wants to solve the case - her ex-husband (and soon to be partner in The Village Blend) claims she has a Nancy Drew fixation ........and he might not be wrong.

Throughout the book Clare shares little tidbits about coffee - making it, the differences between beans, coffee folklore and more. To give you some background Clare moved away from New York with her daughter Joy when her marriage ended and only recently returned to New York for the first book in the series - On What Grounds. During the time she was away she worked as a food and coffee writer so has all of this knowledge which gets sprinkled through the books.

Clare has a good relationship with her ex, but the man she'd like in her life is a Police Detective called Mike Quinn which is pretty handy when you're after details of a case as well. Clare also has a good relationship with her ex-mother-in-law who is also a little nosy and loves to help Clare out when she's trying to solve a case.

Reviewing the Coffeehouse Mysteries
Image from Pixabay, adapted by Lou of Lou's Designs

Why I Like The Coffeehouse Mysteries Book Series

The murder mysteries always seem to have a connection to The Village Blend Coffeehouse which could give you pause before drinking there ....... unless you like puffer fish that is. For those of you who don't 'get' that sentance then you need to read book #3 - Latte Trouble!

What sets these books apart from other whodunnits is the coffee. As I mentioned before sprinkled throughout the books are little bits of coffee trivia which I found really interesting. The trivia didn't detract from the story line, but it did add another layer to the story which I enjoyed.

To further seal the coffee influence with these books you'll find recipes from the stories at the end of the book. If you're in a book club you could recreate a Caramel Chocolate Latte to drink while you discuss the ins and outs of Latte Trouble to really get in the mood.

Who is Cleo Coyle?

The Author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle is actually two people, husband and wife writing team - Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini. They released the first book - On What Grounds - in September 2003 and now they even have their own website with recipes and a forum for fans - The Virtual Village Blend.

Cleo Coyle Books in Order

I'm linking to books here for you, but I should mention that I've been reading the kindle editions of these books and am thoroughly enjoying reading them that way.

On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 1) is the first of these books and it's where Clare Cosi returns to take over as the manager of The Village Blend.

I actually haven't read this book yet as I started off reading book 2, then book 3 and I haven't looked back! I will read it once I've finished the rest of the series though.


 Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 2)
Through The Grinder is cool because you get to see inside the murderer's mind without it revealing who the person is.

In this book we also see Mike Quinn's jealous side as Clare gets herself a love interest who (rather predictably) turns out to be a main suspect in a rash of murders made to look like suicides and all customers of the Village Blend.


 Latte Trouble (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 3)
Latte Trouble is the third book in the coffeehouse mysteries and this time the murder hits even closer to home with the murder weapon being a poisoned latte poured by the lovable Tucker - can Clare's chief barista be a murderer?

This book could be the end for Clare as she's taken into the seedy underworld of the fashion industry and drugged, but wait I know I have more of these books so it'll turn out okay!


 Murder Most Frothy (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 4)
Murder Most Frothy doesn't actually take place in Greenwich, but at the Hamptons.

In Latte Trouble we were introduced to David Mintzer, celebrity restaurant owner, who was impressed by Clare's coffee knowledge.

In this the fourth book in the series, David has brought Clare, Joy and Madame to stay at his Hamptons' home to help train his staff up as baristas and of course this means that someone is going to be murdered while they're partying their way through a Hamptons' summer.


 Decaffeinated Corpse (A Coffeehouse Mystery Book 5)
Decaffeinated Corpse is the fifth book in this series and is the one I'm currently reading.

One of the interesting things I've found with this book is about how decaffeinated coffee is made because this book is all about a new coffee bean that is grown as a decaffeinated bean.

I was surprised by the first body that we 'meet' in this book (although it's the second murder in chronological order and the first wasn't a surprise to me), when the body fell onto the sidewalk I thought I knew who it was going to be and I was wrong which is always a good start to solving a whodunnit!


The following books are the rest of the series in order. I haven't read these yet, but will add a short description to them as I do.


  • French Pressed 
  • Espresso Shot 
  • Holiday Grind 
  • Roast Mortem 
  • Murder by Mocha 
  • A Brew to a Kill 
  • Holiday Buzz 
  • Billionaire Blend 
  • Once Upon a Grind 
  • Dead to the Last Drop 
  • Dead Cold Brew 
 Due to be released in April 2018 - Shot in the Dark

Do You Love Cozy Mysteries? We Do!

The contributors here at Review This often review books for you and I've found that a lot of us really enjoy a cozy mystery or two, in fact one of our contributors, Bev Owens, has actually published a couple of her own cozy mysteries which are awesome. 

So, if you want a break from the fast pace of New York (where the Coffeehouse Mysteries are set) then why not take a trip to Beaver Falls with Beverly Owen's Up cycling mysteries.

Here are a few of the other cozy mysteries we've reviewed for you..


Cozy Mystery Series ReviewMystery Series Review: Cats, Cupcakes and Killers
Author Sylvia Selfman has done just that with her Izzy Greene series in Cats, Cupcakes and Killers. All seven mysteries are published together ...

Cozy Mysteries and women sleuthsReviewing Cozy Mysteries and Favorite Women Sleuths
Like cozy mysteries starring smart, female sleuths? ... My favorite genre is mystery and right now I'm particularly attracted to easy-to-read cozy mystery stories

Mrs fix it mystery seriesMrs Fix-it Mystery Series Reviewed
A very enjoyable series of mystery books with Mrs Fix It as the female sleuth. ... I was a little sad when I came to the last page of the 15th book.

Reviewing The Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery SeriesReviewing The Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series
I recently read the Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series by Leighan Dobbs and enjoyed it immensely. It was pretty easy to get attached to the ...

Chef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee - A Mystery ReviewChef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee - A Mystery Review
A celebrity chef is found dead in a lake. Was it an accident as the police reported? Or was it suicide or murder? Can you solve the mystery ...


We're not all a 'murderous bunch' and we review plenty of other books too, but at the moment I just can't get enough of the cozy mysteries that are out there and I'm sure that you'll love them too.

 If you're not into the more grisly murder mysteries then the cozy mysteries are for you. I once heard them described as the Mills and Boon of mystery books and that made me smile because they are light reading and in general they don't contain descriptive violence (although obviously there is murder involved). I think of them as 'genteel murder mysteries' similar to Agatha Christie's books, but without the nostalgic feel of a different era.

Grab a coffee and let me know what you think of this series of books and don't forget to check out some of the other cozy mysteries too.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls Book Review

I don't ordinarily open a book review with a negative thought but that is how I felt when I began reading Lauren Graham's 2016 autobiography, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between.) I was disappointed. The book was not what I expected.

I should have known by ALL THOSE WORDS on the cover.

What did I expect? Well, an ordinary autobiographical book about Lauren Graham's life to date.

What did I get? A book that almost seemed to move as quickly as the dialogue on the Gilmore Girls.

According to Graham, The Gilmore Girls series featured some of the longest scripts in television history. While another television show script might have 50 pages, the Gilmore Girls were known to pack 80 pages of dialogue into their one hour less commercial breaks time slot. Yes, that means they talked almost non-stop. Verbal diarrhea comes to mind. Graham has actually been asked if she can talk normally.

It turned out that I also had a book in my hands that was not overly serious with paragraphs that were frequently disrupted by a witty comment from the author, which I could have done with out. Lauren Graham is a brilliant comedic actor but, at least at first, I would have preferred a more serious approach. I agree with Entertainment Weekly when they said that as an author Graham is "much better in the honest, earnest passages where she’s not trying to entertain us. We like her already!

As Katherine on Women's Post said, it takes a while to get used to Graham's style, which is "conversational and as scattered as a Gilmore Girl." If you are a fan, you will know what that means. If not, well...carry on. Graham befriends you as she jumps from a thought to some song lyrics to a discussion on the telephone. "It’s through this writing style the readers are truly able to get to know Graham." Perhaps that is true.

Of course, it is helpful and the book makes more sense once you know that the book is meant to be a series of essays.

So...did I like the book?


I did.

Is it recommended?


Yes, it is particularly if you are a fan of the Gilmore Girls and/or Lauren Graham and you approach the book in a less than serious manner. The book deals with Graham's childhood and adulthood through to the remake of the Gilmore Girls and it is interesting.  It is just not particularly serious. The back cover says that this book contains details about Graham's, "awkward growing up years, confusing dating years, fulfilling working years; and what it was like to be asked to play one of my characters again." I think that gives you a sense that this book treats Graham's life in a light manner.

I do like Lauren Graham and I will be checking out her novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, which is about a young actress trying to make it in New York, a subject about which she definitely has firsthand knowledge. I would also like to revisit the Gilmore Girls series and watch the new movies though with seven seasons and four movies that is a whole lot of viewing! Meanwhile, you can find Talking As Fast as I can and Lauren Graham's other works on Amazon by clicking right here.

If you have read Talking as Fast as Fast as I Can, be sure to let us know what you thought.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Talking As Fast As I Can here on Amazon. It's available in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats.

Read about Graham's co-star Alexis Bledel in my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie review.

If you are a big Gilmore Girls fan, you might like to follow the Gilmore Girls News.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Recommended Summer Reading for Dog Lovers

My summer vacation is fast approaching and I am happily preparing for it by gathering several books perfect for easy, summer reading. My plan is to spend much of my vacation relaxing, lost in books. As a person who loves dogs, I am choosing one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books that focuses on dogs. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series are reliably comforting books with uplifting stories. In this review, I will share some of those titles focused on dogs. 


Not Familiar with the Chicken Soup for the Soul Books?


Chicken Soup for the Soul books have been around since the 1990's. The founders created the series with the thought that people can help people via the sharing of their personal stories. Since that time, they have published hundreds of books, selling millions of copies. Each book is focused on a different theme. And each book is a compilation of stories from every day people who have a story to share within that theme.


Why Read Stories About Dogs?



Dogs are our companions. Our guardians. Our best friends and our babies. I have recently been fortunate enough to witness some people doing really good things for dogs. 

I have watched people organizing huge events to do fund-raising for the organizations that care for dogs. And I have watched individuals repeatedly foster individual dogs until permanent homes are found. Whether it is in huge numbers, or only one person and one dog at a time, I have been witness to the love we have for our dogs.

At this time in my life, and during this time in the world, I want to spend my vacation immersed in stories that are loving and uplifting. Stories that take me away to happy places. Chicken Soup for the Soul stories sometimes include stories of grief and loss. But that grief and loss has meaning. Not the display of trauma and loss for ratings and site visits rather an exploration of the meaning of love and loss. I have not yet chosen the dog stories book I will be reading during my vacation, but I am familiar with this series of books and know that I can depend on what types of stories I will find in the newest copy being added to my library.



Related Links about Dogs from Review This! Contributors


The writers at Review This! love their dogs. In fact, several of us have dogs named Daisy. Below are links to some of the dog-related articles we have written.

My Daisy is a small dog with a short coat. She is a rat terrier. And while she loves being outdoors during all season, I provide a coat or sweater for her during the coldest months so that she can remain warm during our winter outdoor adventures. You can meet my Daisy in my article about Sweater & Jacket Choices for Dogs Who Need Them.

Susan shares her pick of Patriotic Dog Bandanas, Collars, and Clothes.  With patriotic and summer holidays upon us, check out this fun ideas for your holiday dog. Whether your dog is a fast and furious, frisbee-fetching machine, or a dainty little girl-dog in a dress, you will find something in her article for your dog. The adorable photos alone are worth a click. A very important note: Susan shares that July 5th is the day of the highest number of admissions of dogs to animal shelters. And she reminds us to take extra caution with our dogs during fireworks season.

Puppies. Who doesn't love a puppy?  But wow, potty-training a puppy can be so frustrating. And potentially damaging to your home as well as your sanity. Beverly has found a solution. She reviews the Puppy Potty Trainer - the system her family members chose to use for their new four-legged addition to their family. Beverly shared something I hadn't considered previously: when traveling or visiting with a new puppy during the potty-training stage, a portable and familiar potty system that can be taken into unfamiliar settings can aide in the potty training. Such a wonderful idea (and probably very welcomed by the home owners the puppy is visiting!).

Wednesday Elf wrote a wonderful Review of Greeting Cards for Pet Lovers. While she reviews a variety of sources of unique greeting cards for both dog and cat lovers, I was drawn to the adorable greeting cards she highlighted from the AfricanGrey store. That artist clearly loves Boston Terriers, but also offers a variety of dog breeds on these greeting cards. While browsing the site I saw cards for many different occasions. Including adorable Wedding Boxers, 

And last but absolutely not least - 

Dog lovers know that the best thing about a dog is loving a dog and the worst thing about loving a dog is when that dog passes. Our dogs are such intregal part of our lives that the void they leave when they are gone is enormous. Barbara shares with us both a loving memorial of her little "Girl Dog" and a wonderful wall decal. Every Time I Lose a Dog is a loving tribute to the dogs we've loved and lost. 







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.