education pathways

The Spring Cleaning Murders–Cannell has a way with words!

The Spring Cleaning Murders

by Dorothy Cannell

The Spring Cleaning MurdersThe Spring Cleaning Murders carves out its own niche in the world of cozy mysteries. Ellie Haskell is the moderately well-off wife of a restaurant owner and the mother of twin three year olds. The book is indeed a mystery with multiple murders and Ellie playing the part of a sleuth. Unlike the typical cozy mystery, there is no relationship with a law enforcement officer. A lot of the story is centered around family ties and the various levels of society found in a small English town. Another strong emphasis of the book s a group of of cleaning ladies and a journal containing cleaning formulas collected by Abigail Grantham, the mistress of Ellie’s home during the first of the twentieth century. Each chapter begins with one of these tips, and making and marketing the products provides a cover story for Ellie and the cleaning ladies as they search for clues.

There are many quirky characters who strengthen the plot. The Epilogue provides closure for the familial tale after the mysteries have been solved satisfactorily.  I enjoyed reading this book and anticipate reading more from the 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: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: part of the 13 book Ellie Haskell Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  May 9, 2017—Random House (Alibi)

Memorable Lines:

Feeling like a nun forsaking the convent, I went with my little girl and boy into a world painted with rainbow color for a picnic where dock leaves served for luncheon plates.

On the following Sunday, skies hung low, like soggy woolen blankets abandoned on a clothesline. The wind gurgled and moaned and rain drizzled drearily down the windowpanes.

Then I put the kettle on so I wouldn’t be the only thing steaming.

Freddy ambled over to the refrigerator to stand with the door open, peering inside with all the intensity of an anthropologist studying culture as evinced by an igloo.

Vanessa had a master’s degree in self-absorption.

“If I was a fairy godfather, do you know what I’d wish for her, Ellie girl?”  “Tell me.” “That she’ll grow up to be loving and loved. That’s enough for anyone in my book.”

Lemons–in search of Bigfoot and love

Lemons

by Melissa Savage

LemonsLemons is a delightful chapter book intended  for children ages 8-12. As an adult, I loved it, and I will purchase it for my grandchildren.

Lemons features Lemonade Liberty Witt, a young girl whose mother has passed away. Suddenly “Lem’s” whole life is turned upside down. She meets her grandfather, Charlie, for the first time when she moves in with him. Her first friend in her new town is Tobin who founded and is president of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc.

I laughed and cried as Lem and Tobin along with Charlie and Tobin’s mother, Debbie, live out the pain of losing their respective loved ones, at different times and in different ways. They help each other in their struggles and work to make lemonade out of lemons. The relationship of Lem and Tobin and their search for Bigfoot is both humorous and touching.

I recommend Lemons for independent reading or as a story to share in the classroom or with a parent. It explores issues of grief and the aftermath of expressions of grief for both adults and children. This book shows bullying from the perspective of a child who is socially awkward and what a friend can do to help. The tale abounds with humor as the dynamic duo spend the summer getting to know each other as they search for evidence of Bigfoot.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction (Middle Grades)

Notes: provides many opportunities for discussions about feelings and how we express them

Publication:   May 2, 2017—Random House (Crown Books)

Memorable Lines:

The wrinkles are so deep and twisty, each one is like a road map to all the different stories of her life.

[Lemon, thinking about her mother:] It’s an important name. The most important name in the whole universe. I say it out loud every day so the universe remembers how important it is, and that it still matters to someone. And also so it doesn’t disappear. Like she did.

“So we let all our sad and mad feelings take over, and instead of loving and supporting each other, we hurt each other with our words.”

The most important thing to remember is to have gratitude for those we love and those who love us. Even if it’s not for the amount of time we had expected or wished for. If you don’t, you can be washed away by the sadness.

Ashes to Ashes–outstanding mystery

Ashes to Ashes

by Adair Sanders

Ashes to AshesIn Ashes to Ashes, the third book of the Allison Parker Mystery Series, author Adair Sanders has honed her skills to produce an outstanding mystery. Each of the three main characters is pursuing a case independently, but there is collaboration and interweaving as they consult with each other. PI Frank Martin suffers gunshot wounds and memory loss in a mysterious attack.  Lawyer Allison Parker defends a corporation being sued for wrongful termination. Her husband, Jim Kaufman, sits as a judge in a messy divorce case. These threads are held together by a foray into the world of thoroughbred racing, the surfacing of a distant Scottish cousin, and the lives of two South American immigrants. The action starts out strong and moves rapidly to an unexpected ending. You will not want to put Ashes to Ashes down until there is resolution.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: includes one detailed scene of a sexual liaison and occasional offensive language

Publication:  November 18, 2016—Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Memorable Lines:

“Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?” The operator’s voice barely permeated the fog that encased his mind like a shroud.

Miles and Evelyn Goodpasture’s  so-called friends had packed the courtroom, eager to hear the dirt on their neighbors, ready to render their own judgment against people who had once been welcome guests in their homes.

The waste overflowing from the trash basket by the side of Frank Martin’s desk this Saturday morning resembled an avant-garde depiction of an erupting volcano.

Lessons in Falling–finding yourself as a teenager

Lessons in Falling

Lessons in Falling

Lessons in Falling has the expert touch of a gymnast in writer Diana Gallagher. Although the focus of the story is gymnastics, the book is so much more. This is not one of those themed books for young readers aimed at an audience of pre-teen and teenage girls who are, were, or want to be gymnasts. The scope of this book ranges from teenage friendships to romantic relationships. It encompasses issues common to teenagers: college applications and scholarships, driver’s tests, depression, texting, work issues, immigration, parental expectations, extracurricular activities, and discrimination. The plot centers around Savannah, an aspiring gymnast who has suffered an injury, and her longtime friend, Cass. It explores their personalities and relationship during their critical senior year of high school. Teenage years are chaotic for many; Gallagher does not oversimplify or exaggerate the difficulties her characters encounter.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Teens and Young Adults

Notes:

  1. Some bad language
  2. Although it did not ruin the book for me, I wished I had not seen a summary prior to reading this book. I kept anticipating a certain event and would rather have been surprised when it occurred.

Publication:   February 7, 2017—Spencer Hill Press

Memorable Lines:

She could go on all day like this, using me as the shoreline that her words beat against.

Yesterday, she comforted me. Today, I’m her anchor. At the end of the day, we’re thicker than humidity in July.

As kids we played together, schemed together, nursed bruised knees and silly crushes on boy bands. She was quiet unless she was with me. Together, chances were that we were screaming as we sprinted into the ocean and laughing as we splashed each other. We whispered together under the trees as the neighborhood kids ran around searching for us in Manhunt, never giving up our spot. I rode my bike to her house when Richard was first deployed, blinking tears out of my eyes. She met me at the curb and grabbed my hand. Although her hand was bony, cool, without calluses, it was just as strong as mine. Sometimes I think she hasn’t let go. She keeps her arm around me now, reminding me that I’m her anchor, that she will run to me if she needs to be safe.

A Good Day to Buy–crime at a garage sale?

A Good Day to Buy

by Sherry Harris

A Good Day to BuyHaving held exactly one unsuccessful garage sale and participated in one equally disappointing flea market, I approached reading the fourth book in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Series with a modicum of trepidation. I concluded A Good Day to Buy with no increased enthusiasm for the process, but with a great deal of respect for the author, Sherry Harris, whose cozy mystery is outstanding.  The story centers around former Air Force wife Sarah Winston, and her ex-husband CJ, a police chief. There is a huge cast of characters, so many I had to refer back frequently. Normally I would find this distracting, but it was compensated for by a plot line that is complicated and intriguing. There are equal amounts of cerebral efforts and action as Sarah tries to solve a multi-layered crime that starts at one of her garage sales and spreads out to include military friends and her long-lost brother.

I’m glad I chose to read this book in spite of its theme. There are worthwhile garage sale tips at the end for those interested. The book was successful in making me want to read more books in the series even if I was not convinced that conducting a garage sale is a profitable effort for me.

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: #4 in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   April 25, 2017—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

I stuffed some of the plastic bags into another one. What was with these things? They multiplied like those Tribbles in a Star Trek episode. You have a couple because you might need them, then boom, they’re everywhere.

In a small town, stories spread faster than news of antiques at a garage sale.

I’d always made the best of our assignments because it was either that or be miserable for a few years.

Murder is the Main Course–cooking up suspense!

Murder is the Main Course

by Shawn Reilly Simmons

Murder is the Main CourseAction explodes in Murder is the Main Course as Penelope, head chef on the set of The Turn of the Screw, enters the walk-in freezer in darkness only to encounter a hanging body. Has she discovered a suicide or a murder? This mystery by Shawn Reilly Simmons continues with non-stop intrigue in a tale you won’t want to put down. Characters include an assortment of actors, cooks, waiters and law enforcement. Although the cast of characters is large, it is easy to remember the individual characters. The setting is small town Forrestville, Indiana, where everyone knows everyone else and history is important. Grab a copy of this cozy mystery and get ready for suspense.

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 Red Carpet Catering Mystery Series; could be read as a standalone

Publication:  May 2, 2017—Henery Press

Murder in the Dark–at the “Last Great Party”???

Murder in the Dark

by Kerry Greenwood

Murder in the DarkI read Murder in the Dark intermittently in the midst of traveling and chaos, but I always looked forward to returning to it and was never disappointed. Invariably, the character of Phryne Fisher as a sleuth is delightful.  In this book, the regulars of the series play a role, but a minor one, as little action occurs in Phryne’s home setting, but at an old rented estate where a rich and magnetizing  brother and sister are holding what they bill as the Last Great Party of the year. Phryne has been invited to stop a threatened murder of the host. She has also been personally warned away from the affair.  Anyone who knows Phryne understands that such threats only serve to ensure her attendance.

These mysterious warnings are entwined with other puzzling events once the weeklong party begins. Phryne must use her deductive and social skills to solve the mysteries. She also enlists the help of a variety of people she encounters, both servants and other guests. The resolutions of the mysteries are surprising and not without action scenes. I love that Phryne spends her spare time at the event reading an Agatha Christie novel.

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: 4/5

Category: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Notes: 

  1. heavy doses of drug use, sex, and gender transposition
  2. #16 in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series

Publication:   May 2, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

“Dot has a talent for being happy.”

Phryne didn’t believe in rigid routines. They robbed the day of spontaneity.

Her childhood had been so poor that Phryne still got a vague thrill when she turned on a tap and hot water came out.

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