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Chained–a really good veterinary cozy mystery

Chained

by Eileen Brady

ChainedChained is a cozy mystery about a veterinarian, Kate Turner, written by a veterinarian, Eileen Brady. When you read a book like this one, you can be sure that the animal and medical details are accurate. But can a scientifically inclined person author a work of fiction with interesting characters and a complex plot? Perhaps even some romance? The answer in this case is a resounding yes.

We follow Kate and her assistant Mari as they attend to a variety of animals both in and out of the animal hospital. One of her “patients” digs up a human bone, and Kate finds herself being asked by the family to discover the murderer in a ten year old cold case. There are a lot of suspects, many lies, and countless emotions rising to the surface as Kate and others deal with both the present and the past.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Kate Turner, D.V.M., Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone

Publication:   December 5, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

“Come on. Come here, Mr. Katt.” I patted the corner of the desk. He looked away in disdain, but it was all an act. The next moment a plump load of furry feline landed full-force on my lap. As soon as I stroked him, his purr motor began to rumble.

Dina narrowed her eyes. A pink fingernail lightly caressed a loose curl. Her focus tightened, like a lioness on the Serengeti Plain noticing an antelope separated from the herd.

After we hung up I thought about all the angst of high school, and the crazy meaningless ups and downs that enveloped students every day. Between classes, wave after wave of raw emotion flowed like lava down the halls. Imagined slights. Painful encounters. Bottled up feelings. They all added up. Some of us carried those slights around for years and others never put them down.

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Dead Man’s Chest–beach holiday turns dangerous

Dead Man’s Chest

by Kerry Greenwood

Dead Man's ChestDead Man’s Chest deviates in a delightfully surprising way from the typical Phryne Fisher mystery with a change of setting. Most occur in St. Kilda near Melbourne, Australia, but in this work of historical fiction, detective Phryne Fisher takes her family to Queenscliff for a holiday while her home in St. Kilda is undergoing renovation.  The vacation turns into work as they arrive at the home an acquaintance has loaned her only to find the Johnsons, who serve as  butler and cook, have disappeared and the house has been emptied. Along with this mystery is a tale of a “pigtail snipper” who cuts off the braids of local young girls.

Ruth gets to try out her culinary skills, Jane delves into ancient bones and movie making, and Dot gets to spend some time with the strong and handsome Constable Hugh Collins. A young ne’er-do-well, Tinker, becomes a devout follower of his mentor, Miss Fisher, whom the whole family holds in high regard. Throw in some smuggling, tales of pirate treasure, a snoopy neighbor, insight into the impoverished lives of the serving classes and fishermen, and a taste of  Surrealism, and you have a lively story beckoning the reader to discover the answers to some fascinating Australian mysteries.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Notes: #18 in the Phryne Fisher’s Murder Mysteries; adequate as a standalone but more interesting with some background on the main characters

Publication: December 5, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

Phryne was getting out of the car. Dot closed her eyes. Miss Fisher was about to happen to someone again.

Dot had been training her in Suitable Topics for a Lady’s Dinner Table, which did not include Rat Dissection for Beginners or Beastly Customs of the Heathen, which was a pity because Jane knew a lot about both of these.

“We’re on a case again, aren’t we?” asked Dot gloomily. “Well, yes, but this time it really isn’t my fault, Dot dear. I was dropped right into this one.”

He was terrified. Not of the task, but that he might let the guv’nor down. She had trusted him. No one had ever trusted Tinker before.

Naturally Thin–Lasting Weight Loss without Dieting

Naturally Thin

by Jean Antonello, RN, BSN

Naturally ThinAs both the holiday eating season and 2017 draw to a close, sharing a book on losing weight seems appropriate. So many of us focus on resolutions at this time of year, especially health related issues.

A little personal history: In the late 80’s I read the first book by Jean Antonello, RN, BSN, entitled How to Become Naturally Thin by Eating More. I remember successfully following the principles. Fast forward to a lengthy period during which, due to health problems, my concern was being underweight. Fast forward again to better health, but also to some life changes which resulted in an undesired weight gain. Recently I wanted to lose that weight, and I did lose some with a low carb diet, but then I hit a plateau for well over a month despite adherence to the diet and increased exercise.

In the back of my mind I remembered reading a book about eating, with a blue cover, written by a nurse, but that was not enough information for Google to help me locate it. As a book reviewer for NetGalley, I have an incredible number of books that I can request to review. Almost unbelievably, Jean Antonello’s new book popped up on my screen as I was seeking out answers for the plateau. Immediately I knew this was the same author. Naturally Thin_oldWhile I was waiting for my request to be approved, with names now in hand, I was able to find not only the new book, but also a picture of my original book which is now tucked away in a box in NM while I am in Mexico. I felt like I had just found the Mother Lode!

So what do I think of Jean Antonello’s theories and her revised book about 30 years later? It makes so much sense to my personal situation, and she has backed it up with years of research, working with clients, and eating according to the principles herself. She advocates listening to your body’s signals for hunger and for being full. She calls for eating real food and plenty of it. This is not a diet. You are encouraged to eat good foods and never let yourself get hungry which then results in bingeing. She refers to the season of adaptation a former yo-yo dieter needs to go through as “recovery.” You are in charge of your own eating for a change. The plan is based on the feast and famine physiology of our bodies. Dieting is counterintuitive to your body because when you hold back good food, then your body perceives a famine and does not want to let go of the fat. It also slows down the metabolism to protect us from starvation. Both of these things explain my plateau.

There is so much more theory and research in her book, which is written in a very user friendly style. The approach is not complicated, but it does require commitment, not to hunger as in a diet, but to listening to your body’s signals and not thinking like a dieter any more. Antonello debunks lots of dieting myths such as the blame game that is put on overweight people that they are lazy, have psychological problems, and lack will power. She does not guarantee the fast weight loss most diets promise. She does offer freedom from obsession with food and something that rarely happens with diets—you will eat like a naturally thin person and you will not regain the weight.

Obviously I am impressed with the book. I am going to implement the mindset changes, and I anticipate that this will be a gradual process. Will it work? I don’t know. This blog is primarily about education, books, and Mexico. I only occasionally insert personal posts, but I promise to follow up this one with information on my progress or lack of it. According to Naturally Thin, I can’t put a time table on that because everyone’s body is different. I like that viewpoint, and I like that she recognizes people as individuals.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Heartland Book Company for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Health, Nonfiction (Adult)

Notes: The Appendix includes a 31-Day Quick Start plan. These are motivational readings that reinforce the principles and help you make the mental changes necessary after years of being subjected to the dieting industry’s mantra of eating less. There is also a Reader’s Guide of questions for each chapter to help you focus on the principles in that chapter and apply them to your situation.

Publication:   July 11, 2017—Heartland Book Company

Memorable Lines: (I probably highlighted half of this book in my efforts to absorb the plan. I have just cited a few portions here.)

When they diet, they force their bodies to quickly burn fat and at the same time create an increased need for fat for the future. This is why dieters always go off their diets—for the necessary restoration of the fat they’ve lost during the diet.

Just like going hungry regularly, eating a lot of poor quality food triggers the body’s survival response. Lousy food doesn’t satisfy the body’s need for nutrients.

…typically people eat too much and all the wrong stuff because they aren’t eating enough of the right stuff—at the right time.

Probably the most challenging aspect of recovery is the patience required for weight loss.

Accessories to Die For–Santa Fe settings

Accessories to Die For

by Paula Paul

Accessories to Die ForPaula Paul has written a cozy mystery set in Santa Fe and tribal lands near there. As a New Mexican resident for many years, I find her use of this setting well done and effective in Accessories to Die For. She incorporates the drug problems that are all too prevalent there and the Native American culture that binds Catholicism with ancient religious beliefs. Paul showcases the tourist impact and the artisan craftsmanship.

If the author did all of that so well, why am I not excited about this book? I think it is the characters; they are just not very likable. Irene has given up her law career to be with her aging and still self-centered mother Adelle. There is a potential love interest with P.J. an attorney. Both lawyers make bad choices and do stupid (illegal) things along with jewelry artist Juanita who is looking for her druggie son Danny. There is a murder, several assaults, and a major theft. When it is all sorted out, the person who is able to lay out the facts and relationships is realistically the least likely to be able to do so.

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

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Irene’s Closet Series

Publication:  December 5, 2017—Random House (Alibi)

Memorable Lines:

Danny Calabaza gave the flute its voice as he sat on a low hill that was sparsely carpeted with the brown and white grass of his tribal land. He had crafted the instrument himself from a piece of cedar wood in the manner of his grandfathers—hollowed from a branch, not split and glued together as some men did now.

The sweet scent of piñon fires wafted around her. It was a seductive scent, promising chile stew and fry bread cooked over the fires as well as warm loaves of bread pulled from the piñon-stoked hornos.

P. J. cleared his throat—something he never did in front of a prosecuting attorney. When a lawyer cleared his throat in a courtroom, it made him appear nervous. But there was something about this woman that threw him off balance. No, he wouldn’t go there. He would just look her in the eye and speak.

The Christmas Train–heartwarming tale of Christmas travelers

The Christmas Train

The Christmas Train

Have you ever considered traveling across the United States by train? Come aboard The Christmas Train to discover a slower pace, to form temporary friendships, and perhaps to fill a love sized hole. Peopled with interesting characters and set on two different Amtrak trains, The Christmas Train tells of the adventure of reporter Tom Langdon as he fulfills his father’s dying wish to walk in Mark Twain’s footsteps and finish an uncompleted work based on railroad travel across the U.S.

The book starts gently and slowly, but the pace picks up as Tom interacts with his fellow passengers. Author David Baldacci delivers surprise complications and an unexpected ending in this touching tale of a journey of the heart.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: This was recently made into a Hallmark movie. Since it is unavailable to me in Mexico, I decided to purchase the book and read it.

Publication:   2002—Hachette Books

Memorable Lines:

“It’s that pioneer spirit. You don’t take a train because you want to get somewhere fast. You take it for the journey itself. To be surprised.”

“It’s been my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello. That’s why trains are so popular at Christmas. People get on to meet their country over the holidays. They’re looking for some friendship, a warm body to talk to.”

“It’s often said that God works in mysterious ways. You have to really think about what He’s trying to do. You can’t be lazy and believe in God; He doesn’t make it that easy. It takes spirit and faith and passion to really believe. Like most things worthwhile in life, you get back what you put into it. Only with faith, you get back a lot more.”

In Cave Danger–pink froufrou in the great out of doors

In Cave Danger

by Kate Dyer-Seeley

In Cave DangerI found In Cave Danger interesting, but I didn’t love it. A lot of the reason is just personal taste. To start, the main character, Meg Reed, is just too froufrou, too much of a girly pink lover to be believable in her job as an adventure writer. I admire her independent fashion sense and love of vintage clothing, but even a “twenty-something” should understand that for most jobs there is a specific type of dress appropriate for the position and task. On your own time, you dress to please yourself.

My next problem with the book structure is the emphasis on beer. The craft beer culture in Oregon is interesting, but I honestly don’t admire a main character whose social life on a daily basis centers around beer.

Another problem is the choices and actions of the main character. Meg persists in doing obviously dangerous things. Things others have warned her not to do. Things she states are not smart to do. She also volunteers to cover a story on caving when she is a self-professed claustrophobic.

Lastly, I am sure there are people who give thanks to the Universe for the good things that happen, literally hug trees, and carry stones around to protect themselves. Those people would probably enjoy In Cave Danger much more than I did.

The initial mystery focuses on the murder of a forest ranger and the battle of environmentalists versus a politician and a rancher who have other plans for land use. Later the author makes a rather sudden jump back to events in a previous book that involve Meg’s deceased father, a newspaper reporter who was obsessed with researching a piece on meth. This abrupt plot switch is smoothed out as the author fills in the back story. Amazingly the two plot lines intersect.

On the positive side, the plot is engaging and the setting is interesting. The author offers closure to what appears to have been an old mystery. The book concludes with sections on tips for exploring caves and information for a scenic tour of Oregon’s high desert country where In Cave Danger takes place.

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

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series; works as a standalone

Publication:   November 28, 2017—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

The tips of old oak leaves faded into golden yellows, and red twinges glinted in the sunlight. Soon organic farm stands would pop up on street corners, where artisans would sell homemade apple and pear butter and carved festive gourds. The breweries would release their fall lines featuring pumpkin ales and hoppy Oktoberfest brews.

My past blunders were all my own doing, usually because I had overestimated my skill level or downplayed the danger. This felt different. This felt out of my control. I couldn’t shake the ominous cloud hovering over me.

I’m so claustrophobic that I refuse to ride in elevators. I’d rather huff and puff up twenty flights of stairs than be stuck in a moving coffin.

Ditched 4 Murder–murder mystery with a side of humor

Ditched 4 Murder

by J.C. Eaton

Ditched 4 MurderPhee (Sophie Kimball) is still acclimating to Arizona’s high temperatures: quite a change from Minnesota. She is employed as a bookkeeper at Williams Investigations, on a year’s leave of absence from the Mankato Police Department. She makes it clear that she is not a Private Investigator and has no ambitions to be one. Despite her inclinations, she gets dragged into several murder investigations because of her family ties. Her mother and her looney aunt, a soon-to-be-bride in her seventies, are already part of the aging retirement community in Sun West City, and they call on her frequently for support and particularly in tough times. Phee is in her forties and is quite likable and intelligent. Although she is single, there is no potential love interest in this book.

Ditched 4 Murder is a cozy mystery by J.C. Eaton. I enjoyed the Arizona setting, the characters, many of whom are in the catering business, and the plot with multiple threads and many complications. Especially appealing is the author’s sense of humor, a delight throughout.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com 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: #2 in the Sophie Kimball Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  November 28, 2017—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Quaint! Don’t you know what that means? It means no air-conditioning, no cable TV, forget about a mini-fridge and a microwave, and we’ll be lucky if they stick a fan in the room. There’s only one thing worse than quaint, and that’s rustic. Thank God she did’t pick rustic. That means no electricity and an outhouse!”

…honey, we spend the first fifty years of our lives collecting things and the next fifty giving them away.

“You ever think about doing that detective stuff, Phee?” I walked to the outside office. “Sure, I think about it. It’s right up there with trekking the Andes and riding an Icelandic horse across glacial rivers.”

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