education pathways


Professional Reader 80% Reviews Published 2016 NetGalley Challenge 25 Book Reviews



Six Feet Under–deadly Southern cooking

Six Feet Under

by Tonya Kappes

Six Feet UnderSix Feet Under is a cozy mystery by Tonya Kappes. I had read the first one in the series and then didn’t follow up with books two and three. Forgetting that there is a paranormal aspect to this series, I requested an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. I do not normally enjoy or choose to read anything with paranormal elements.

I have mixed feelings about the book. The paranormal comes in the form of the main character’s ghost sidekick, Poppa. Kenni is the elected sheriff in a small Kentucky town and her grandfather Poppa was previously a sheriff in Cottonwood as well.  Kenni grew up discussing crimes with Poppa. In these books, his ghost provides her with clues and a sounding board for her theories. Poppa supplies humor and complexity as Kenni has to guard her conversations with him so people won’t think she is crazy.

Six Feet Under is well-crafted, interesting, and humorous. I admit I enjoyed the tale including all the “Southernisms” of the characters. The romantic interest with her deputy sheriff is good, and the side threads help keep the story going. I was surprised by the the ending. In conclusion, if lighthearted paranormal doesn’t bother you, then you will enjoy this fun cozy mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Kenni Lowry Mystery Series

Publication:   March 13, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

It wasn’t until I’d accepted the fact that Poppa was my guardian angel deputy from the great beyond that I realized he’d been scaring away any would-be criminals during those first two years of my term. Since then, whenever Poppa showed up, I knew there was some sort of crime about to happen. Though I loved seeing him, it made me feel sick to know the reason he was here.

…being on the front of the Chronicle was better than butter on a biscuit for Mama.

For years they’d bragged on Mama’s cooking, but I just figured they were nice compliments with underlying meanings, like our famous saying, bless your heart. It sounded good, but when you shaved back the layers, it was a dagger in the heart and you didn’t even know it.


Southern Discomfort–murder in the kitchen

Southern Discomfort

by Caroline Fardig

Southern DiscomfortSouthern Discomfort introduces the sweet and naive Quinn Ballandini, who was raised by her grandmother to have impeccable Southern manners. She and her more rebellious sister help their grandfather manage a successful bed and breakfast in Savannah, Georgia, where Quinn does most of the cooking.

Quinn discovers the dead body of a friend’s brother. This too trusting B & B manager tries to transform herself into an amateur sleuth to get her friend and potentially herself cleared. She is pretty bad at it, but she is persistent. There are lots of interesting characters including her magician grandfather, Papa Sal, her mother who is into drugs and auras, her older sister Delilah, and her Uncle Frank’s ghost who appears to Delilah and Papa Sal. Additionally, former high school football star Tyler re-enters her  life with a love-hate relationship. There are also a lot of suspects Quinn has to interview to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Southern Discomfort was a satisfactory read but not as well written as the one other book by Caroline Fardig that I have read from a different series. I would be willing to read the next book in the series, but the extent of the paranormal in the next book will determine further readings in this series.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Random House (Alibi) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery, Women’s Fiction

Notes:  1. #1 in the Southern B&B Mystery Series.

  2. There are some paranormal elements that I found more amusing than offensive.

3. A few delicious sounding recipes are included at the end of the book.

Publication:   March 6, 2018—Random House (Alibi)

Memorable Lines:

Well, I’d had a fleeting moment of calm, thinking it might not be so bad to tell my sad story to my old friend Rufus. But with Detective Angrypants staring me down, my nerves frazzled again.

I’d always thought culinary reviewers were highfalutin foodies who savored their food morsel by morsel so as to taste every note and nuance of whatever they were eating. This guy was a inhaling his food. There was a no way he was savoring anything at that pace.

Her words stung me and brought tears to my eyes. Why did she have to be so stinking mean all the time? It was like I was back in high school again, getting picked on by the cool kids.

Who Moved My Goat Cheese?–starting a new restaurant

Who Moved My Goat Cheese?

by Lynn Cahoon

Who Moved My Goat CheeseI am delighted to share a new cozy mystery series created by an established author, Lynn Cahoon. Who Moved My Goat Cheese? introduces Angie Turner, a chef who returns to her hometown in the Treasure Valley of Idaho after the death of her grandmother. She, along with fellow culinary expert and best friend Felicia, is opening a new restaurant, The County Seat.

Angie skillfully negotiates the ins and outs of starting a new enterprise in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Just as she begins to progress in lining up suppliers of fresh food at the local farmer’s market, one of the suppliers dies. As Angie is one of the last people to see him, she is considered a suspect. She has a soft spot for the elderly victim, however, and although she prefers cooking, she feels forced at least temporarily into the role of Nancy Drew.

Who Moved My Goat Cheese? is an interesting cozy with just the right amount of romantic interest, investigations, and excitement. The author obviously has a love of food and animals and while these are major elements throughout the book, they are not overemphasized. I’m looking forward to Cahoon’s next book in this series.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1.  #1 in the Farm-to-Fork Mystery Series

2.  A recipe for Lynn Cahoon’s favorite comfort food, a family version of potato soup, is included.

Publication:   March 6, 2018—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines:

You developed bonds with the people you worked with in the trenches day in and day out. Those were the people you trusted.

Her day was planned. What could go wrong?

Instead of worrying about it, she went to her kitchen and did what she always did when the world didn’t make sense. She cooked.


Hummus and Homicide–mystery with a side of hummus

Hummus and Homicide

by Tina Kashian

Hummus and HomicideI read and reviewed more nonfiction books in February than I usually do. While I enjoyed most of them, I emerged from the month a little drained. Just as the month was ending, however, I read a review written by prolific book blogger Betty of Hummus and Homicide. Her review made this cozy mystery appealing, and I was able to request it as an ARC shortly before the deadline. It was just the relaxing break I needed. You can go to Betty’s blog to see her review by clicking here:


Now, on to my review:

Hummus and Homicide is the tale of patent attorney Lucy Berberian’s return from Philadelphia to her hometown Ocean Crest, New Jersey. For eight years she had devoted her life to her career but had hit her head on the metaphorical glass ceiling for women. She bounces back to her family’s Mediterranean restaurant in the small New Jersey beach town. Unfortunately, a former classmate meets an unfortunate demise after Lucy serves her food at the restaurant, making Lucy a prime suspect.

To save her parents’ restaurant from closure and herself from jail, Lucy sets out to discover the killer. There are many possibilities including rival restaurant owners, a famous author, and the boss of a crime family. Along with solving the mystery, Lucy has some personal romantic entanglements to resolve as well as decisions about her career choice to make. Hummus and Homicide is a fun, relaxing read that moves quickly and has interesting, likable characters.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. This is the first book in the new Kebab Kitchen Mystery Series.

 2. There are recipes included at the end of the book.

Publication:   February 27, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

If curiosity killed the cat, what would it do to an out-of-work lawyer sticking her nose where it didn’t belong?

Her eyes slid shut as she bit into the hot pastry. the crunch of the thin layers of buttered pastry, the sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts, blended together in a sweet ballet.

She knew how fast news traveled in town. The Internet had nothing on Ocean Crest when it came to the information superhighway.


Why I Quit My Dream Job

I was fortunate to have many years of actually being paid for doing what I loved–nurturing creative souls as they learned to love learning. Toward the end of my 34 year career, I experienced what this younger teacher discovered: all the joy was being ruthlessly sucked out of education. She expresses it well, and I am sure her departure from the field is a loss for students and families.


I can remember standing in my parent’s basement smothered in wood panelling and orange shag carpet with a dry erase board and my second grade math homework. I can remember lining all of my stuffed bears and hippos and whatever else into a strategic seating chart so they could all see the board and I could walk around “the classroom” to ensure each student was on task. I assigned homework and stayed after school to plan for the next day or at least until dinner was ready. Teaching has been my dream since I was cognizant of the fact that a career was possible for me.

I attended an elite teaching school in Colorado, took college credits in high school, made every career decision and personal to match the teaching timeline of my life.

Most recently, I moved back home with my parents, back to the shag carpet and wooden…

View original post 514 more words


I Can Only Imagine–the inspiration behind the song

I Can Only Imagine

by Bart Millard

I Can Only ImagineWhat will it be like for a believer in Christ to die and go to heaven? Bart Millard’s answer is “I Can Only Imagine.” If you have not heard this beautiful worship song, I encourage you to go to YouTube and listen right now. Then read the memoir I Can Only Imagine written by Bart Millard, lead singer and organizer of MercyMe and writer of this song. God inspired him to write the song, and he had it down on paper in ten minutes, but as legendary Christian singer Amy Grant told him, referring to his background, “Bart, you didn’t write this song in ten minutes. It took a lifetime.”

Millard’s memoir details what a movie by the same name could only highlight. A product of a severely dysfunctional family, he suffered extreme physical, verbal, and emotional abuse followed by a long period of neglect which could still be punctuated by paternal outbursts of anger. But through it all, God had a plan. This book details Bart’s relationship with God and the dual miracles He worked in the life of Bart and his dad. How could Bart’s father morph from a monster into a role model? How could Bart forgive his father for the horrible abuses wrought on him and go on to become a kind and loving father and husband himself? The answer to these mysteries is summed up in one word—God. More exactly, the miraculous power, love, and mercy of God.

The book also shares how the band MercyMe was formed and worked its way up the ladder in the dog-eat-dog competitive music industry while remaining true to God’s calling for them. Theirs was not a path of instant success, but it was one that glorified God and reflected His plan and goals.

This memoir is well written and honestly reflects the struggles Bart had in his personal as well as musical endeavors.  The part of the book that deals with abuse is, of course, difficult to read, but Millard shares enough that the reader understands the depth of what happened without being drawn into lengthy descriptions of the brutality. Millard shares his pain but also inspires with the wondrous miracle of God’s love.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Thomas Nelson (W Publishing)  for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Memoir

Publication:   February 13, 2018—Thomas Nelson (W Publishing)

Memorable Lines:

But through all that noise in my life, whenever I heard perfect union of melody and lyric in a song, something traveled from my ears to my heart and made me feel alive.

I embraced the truth that no matter what happened or what Dad did to me, God was ultimately in control. I became more vocal about my faith, less afraid to ask questions about the Bible, and more confident to state what I believed. What I discovered is that there’s personal empowerment that comes with a relationship with Christ, and this, coupled with a newfound identity in Him, brings real healing to suffering people.

The maddening thing about verbal abuse is how the words you’ve heard replay in your head hundreds of times, even when the person is not around or has stopped saying those things to you.

We all face really hard seasons when it seems as if the entire world is against us, when we think we just cannot win. But when we keep standing strong, following the Lord, and obeying His calling, He will see us through and keep us on His path.


Dead Calm–murder-suicide?

Dead Calm

by Annelise Ryan

Dead CalmDead Calm centers around Mattie Winston, a medicolegal death investigator who works in Sorenson, Wisconsin’s medical examiner’s office. She is newly married to Steve Hurley, a local homicide detective. Receiving twin middle of the night phone calls from their bosses, they are summoned to the scene of an apparent murder-suicide at a motel on the outskirts of town where rooms can be rented by the hour for liaisons.

Annelise Ryan has written a mystery that moves quickly from one situation to another with lots of threads and clues along the way. How could a pharmaceutical coverup tie in? Are the victims’ spouses culpable? Has a construction crew uncovered the skeleton of an alien on Mattie and Hurley’s proposed home site? Ryan keeps the reader guessing all the way to a surprise resolution.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #9 in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series, but it reads well as a standalone. There is a lot of backstory, but the author does a good job of relating it quickly.

Publication:  February 27, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

The land is out in the country; the mosquitos were apparently having some sort of convention out there all weekend, and I was on the menu for every meal.

For starters, my relationship with Emily was iffy at the time, iffy being a euphemism for a barrel of TNT connected to a short, lit fuse.

So far, our road to marital bliss has been as smooth and painless as petting a porcupine.


Google Translator

%d bloggers like this: