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Monthly Archives: September 2017

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Any Dream Will Do–a sweet story of second chances

Any Dream Will Do

by Debbie Macomber

Any Dream Will DoAny Dream Will Do is a story of second chances and redemption. Shay’s background sets her up to feel obligated to sacrifice for her brother Caden to make up for poor choices.  Upon release from a three year stay at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, her path crosses that of Drew, a widowed pastor with two children who is unable to move past the death of his wife. Neither is seeking a relationship and both have issues and problems they need to work through. As people of faith they attempt to do that carefully and using biblical principles as a moral compass.

Echoes of the past reverberate in the lives of Drew and Shay emphasizing that although they may get a second chance at happiness, there are no do-overs in life. The decisions of yesterday do affect the opportunities of today.

I like the characters in the book. Although the reader can see where the storyline is going, the characters are so amiable that you want to keep reading to watch the events play out. Also, the author Debbie Macomber keeps the plot interesting with unexpected complications.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance, Christian

Notes: #4 in the New Beginnings Series (a thematic series, not dependent on continuing characters)

Publication:   August 8, 2017— Random House (Ballantine)

Memorable Lines:

One day I hoped to marry a man like him. Not a pastor, but a decent man who wasn’t into drugs or cheating or hitting women. Sounds simple, right? Well, from my experience those men were far and few between, and if I did happen upon one, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d recognize him.

I found the kindness factor among those who lived on the streets humbling. for the most part the homeless never took what they didn’t need. Often if they knew of someone else who was doing without, then they would accept it to hand off for another.

And with help I’d found a way to forgive him, not because he’d asked or because he deserved my forgiveness. I’d done it for my own peace of mind, to unburden the heavy load of resentment, refusing to cart it around any longer. That didn’t mean I was willing to be drawn back into his craziness, however.

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The Trouble with Harriet–what is in that urn?

The Trouble with Harriet

by Dorothy Cannell

The Trouble with HarrietThe Trouble with Harriet is different from many cozy mysteries that start with a crime to immediately draw the reader in. Instead the reader is enticed with more personal events—a chance meeting with a gypsy, a prospective getaway trip to France, and the appearance of a surprise visitor.

Replete with quirky characters displaying a flair for the dramatic, this book reads like a play from the era of Arsenic and Old Lace. I can picture cousin Freddy climbing with little ado through the living room window to make his entrance. Ellie’s father possesses a penchant for the dramatic. The Hoppers, who resemble stacking Russian dolls, are the things comedy is made of. The vicar in his dotage who rarely remembers what he should be doing provides all kinds of interesting possibilities. This book is quite enjoyable and would make an amusing theatrical production, featuring a play within a play.

The mystery develops gently during the course of the book, but with the reader unaware of it. It begins simply, but adds complexity as the book progresses. The Trouble with Harriet is an enjoyable book in an enjoyable series.

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: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Historical

Notes: #8 in the Ellie Haskell Mystery Series (which currently has 13 books). In spite of having previously read only #7, I found this book delightful. I’m sure reading the whole series would be fun, but not necessary.

Publication: June 13, 2017—Random House Publishing Group (Alibi)

Memorable Lines:

She had a fatal flaw as a listener. She enjoyed the sound of her own voice.

And the world is filled with qualified interior designers, although possibly not in Chatterton Fells, where people tend to consider switching a picture from one side of the room to another a major renovation.

“You can’t go through life being an irresponsible charmer and not expect impressionable females to fall all over you.” “Sometimes I feel like a pound of bacon during wartime rationing.”

Fatal Facade–What does it take to be famous?

Fatal Facade

by Wendy Tyson

Fatal FacadeFatal Facade is the fourth book in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series by Wendy Tyson. It is the first book I have read in this series, but I am already a fan of this author’s Greenhouse Mystery Series. Tyson displays her versatility as I found this book to be very different from her Greenhouse Mysteries in characters, setting, and plot development.

Although the solution to the mystery was unexpected for me, I enjoyed the journey to that point. The way the clues were revealed reminded me of action on a stage where the spotlight hits one character briefly and then moves to a different part of the stage focusing a larger circle on another character. As the spotlight pings around the plot, different characters are revealed.

Tyson uses her law and psychology background to good advantage to flesh out her amateur detective, Allison, who professionally creates images and brands for her clients. Allison’s fiancé is a lawyer and their personal relationship plays a role in the story, but Allison’s original goal is to rebrand a rock singer’s daughter who is famous for…being famous, a concept familiar to the current generation, but previously unheard of.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: #4 in the Allison Campbell Mystery Series, but I read it as a stand alone without problems

Publication:   June 13, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

The Dolomite Mountains were stunning, but at night their splendor was matched only by the depth of their darkness. Night so complete it felt like a tomb, silence so pervasive you could hear the blood pulsating in your carotid.

Wildflowers in a rainbow of colors waved their stalky necks in the breeze. Tiny pastel butterflies buzzed from flower to flower. And past the pasture, the Dolomite Mountains stood tall and imposing, their granite-colored caps jagged reminders of nature’s awesome brutality.

“…we all think it’s great to be rich and famous. It’s not. It just distorts your sense of what’s important.”

Road Trip to the South!

This summer I took a road trip from New Mexico to the South to visit friends and family. My route took me through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Missouri (going East), Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas (going West). I was driving my appropriately designated “Desert Sky Blue” Ford Thunderbird, but going through my head was “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.” I hope the people who came up with that ad campaign, tune, and lyrics were well compensated–now that was branding!

 

Most of my time was well spent reminiscing and catching up. I was treated to some sightseeing along the way.

 

Paducah, Kentucky, is restoring its downtown area. So much interesting history there! We had a delicious lunch at a bakery that survived a major flood and currently includes a café, walked the brick paved streets admiring period storefronts, viewed fantastic murals along the riverbank, and lingered in a local museum with fascinating memorabilia.

In Asheville, North Carolina, I enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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In Chattanooga, Tennessee, I went to the National Cemetery.  It may seem like a strange place to visit, but I have memories of going there as a little girl with my father like you would go to a park. I had a fuzzy recollection of a “train statue” and was eager to make a better connection. There is a memorial there to Andrews’ Raiders and the Great Locomotive Chase, a military raid in 1862 during the American Civil War.  The locomotive pictured below is a model of The General. The memorial is surrounded by tombstones of some of those involved and indicates which ones were executed, escaped, or exchanged.

A bit of history has been brought to life in the James County Courthouse which has been remodeled with a wedding chapel upstairs and a tearoom, which I highly recommend, beneath–wonderfully decorated, delicious food, and a friendly staff.

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Always good to travel and always good to return to a place you call home. The New Mexico desert is a welcome sight as I head towards my mountain retreat.

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The Joys of Playing with Scrambled Dough

Wonderful post! I love the way this artist is encouraging the creativity and natural development in young children.

The Art Dive

Ploytip Asawarachan, owner of Scrambled Art studioin Bangkok, Thailand, devotes her creative energies to helping young children (as young as two years old) fine-tune their motor skills and explore their imaginations. She and her staff mix batches of their own play dough (called Scrambled Dough), adjusting the recipes to the age of the children.

I asked Ploy to tell me more about her work at the studio. Here’s what she said.

MT: What are the things kids would like to create when they set their hands on Scrambled Dough?

PA: This definitely depends on their age, but we currently use Scrambled Dough with kids between 2 and 3.5 years old, which, in my opinion, is more interesting. Kids in this age still cannot identify or sometimes distinguish shapes and colours—so I do not expect them to make shapes with Scrambled Dough. What I expect (and what they like to…

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Bad Housekeeping–a humorous cozy mystery

Bad Housekeeping

by Maia Chance

Bad HousekeepingBad Housekeeping is a fairly typical cozy mystery that will keep you laughing and shaking your head in dismay as Agnes, recently dumped by her professor boyfriend, and Effie, her quirky great aunt, drive from adventure to misadventure in a “borrowed” Cadillac. This is a fun read, not intended to shake your world or be a realistic portrayal of anything. It is a great diversion as a summer beach read or a session curled up on the couch.

Agnes, freshly returned to her Dad’s home, has literally the clothes on her back. Effie gives her a job helping save the condemned Stagecoach Inn. Agnes stumbles over a body at the inn, precipitating a murder investigation and leading to the uncovering of lots of personal secrets in the little town of Naneda.

The plot clips along at a good pace with some twists and turns as the story develops. The characters are predictable in a comfortable sort of way with a stuffy ex-fiancé and an old high school flame with boy-next-door kind of appeal. The police hover in the background, but all of the successful investigation is done by Agnes. While this book is not destined for number one on the New York Times best seller list, it will provide a good afternoon’s entertainment.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the new Agnes and Effie Mystery Series

Publication:   June 13, 2017—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines: 

Maybe salvaging a wreck of a building is a metaphor for salvaging the wreckage of our own lives. It’s like we’re telling ourselves, See? It can be done. It’s never too late. I’m not sure if it’s tragic or inspirational.

I tried not to notice Otis’s tanned biceps. Yes, I know, women may have evolved to be attracted to muscles as a way to select mates with better survival odds. But this is the twenty-first century. The wise thing these days is to find a little nerd like Bill Gates if you’re interested in survival odds.

“I cannot believe you’re wearing poor little dead animals,” I said. “It’s vintage, darling. Vintage fur doesn’t count. These little animals have been dead since the Nixon administration.”

Raisins and Almonds–even the title is a mystery

Raisins and Almonds

by Kerry Greenwood

Raisins and AlmondsRaisins and Almonds is a typical Phryne Fisher mystery, but somewhat more cerebral. Evidence of that is found in the inclusion of a bibliography reflective of the author’s research and a glossary of Yiddish words. This mystery is strongly tied into the Jewish community that settled in Australia, the politics of Zionism, and a sub-sect focused on alchemy. Phryne has to do a lot of research in addition to her usual methods of sleuthing in order to find the murderer of a young Jewish scholar and free an innocent bookseller from prison.

Greenwood excels in this book in three ways. She uses the supporting characters to good advantage in solving the mystery as she sends her adopted daughters, her assistant Dot, and friends Bert and Cec out on different missions which play to their strengths. Phryne and Jack agree on the bookseller’s innocence enabling them to cooperate in their separate missions to solve the mystery. The ending of Raisins and Almonds is a fun surprise which wraps up the mystery and the title quite satisfactorily.

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, Historical Fiction

Notes: #9 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Publication:   June 6, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines: 

Phryne smiled guilelessly into the policeman’s face. He winced. Miss Fisher was at her most dangerous when she was smiling guilelessly. It was a sign that someone, somewhere, was about to be shaken down until their teeth rattled and the Detective Inspector was uneasily aware that he was the closest available target.

Bert was nervous because he didn’t know what to look for in this big bustling market. Neither did Cec, but his Scandinavian ancestors had bequeathed him some Viking fatalism. If they were meant to find out, they’d find out.

Kadimah was as ordinary as a church hall, and as extraordinary as a landing of Well’s Martians. It was as sane as porridge and as lunatic as singing mice.

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