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Rooted in Deceit–the value of a painting

Rooted in Deceit

by Wendy Tyson

Rooted in DeceitWendy Tyson’s Rooted in Deceit is another stellar cozy mystery in The Greenhouse Mystery Series. Megan is the owner of Washington Acre Farms, a farm that supplies organic produce for her own café and organic store in Winsome as well as several restaurants in Philadelphia. 

Tyson dumps the reader into the story immediately with four major plot pieces. Megan’s mini-enterprise is almost ready to expand as her crew puts the finishing touches on the long awaited pizza farm restaurant. Her father Eddie and his wife of two years, Sylvia, arrive from Milan on business, swirling up lots of emotions and relationship issues. They will be staying in nearby Dartville at Peaceful Summit Yoga Retreat Center and Spa which may be competition for Megan’s café. Thrown into this mix is an artist and middle school friend of Megan’s, Thana Moore, whose work will be on display at the center.

Before you know it, Megan is up to her eyeballs in a murder investigation, without the help of boyfriend, veterinarian Denver, who is called to Scotland when his sister is in a serious accident. Megan has to come to grips with her feelings about her own family past as well as middle school shenanigans that come back to bite her and her former friends.

You’ll enjoy watching the plot unfold as Megan follows various leads. Some go to dead ends and others branch off into new possibilities. There’s never a dull moment in Rooted in Deceit.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in The Greenhouse Mystery Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  September 4, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

The day was hot and humid, a soupy late August afternoon that teased a cooling rain but delivered little more than sweat and sunburn.

“You and I both know people do inconceivable things for rational reasons, and conceivable things for irrational reasons. Crime rarely makes sense.”

…the right choice wasn’t always obvious at the time you were forced to make it. Life got complicated.

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Kindred Spirits–stolen art with deadly consequences

Kindred Spirits

by Jo Bannister

Kindred SpiritsGabriel Ash, formerly a security analyst with the British government, has recently been released from mental health care. He has opened a second hand book shop, Rambles with Books. He has also been reunited with his two sons after a four year separation as a result of his wife’s illegally taking the boys.  All should be relatively smooth sailing in the Ash household, but that is not the case. Ash’s good friend, Constable Hazel Best, drives to school to pick up the boys, and she sees them and their nanny being accosted in what appears to be a kidnapping attempt.

The plot of Kindred Spirits rapidly becomes complicated as the older boy, Gilbert, insists that only the nanny was being forced into the van. This fast-moving police procedural by Jo Bannister puts on display not only how the police investigate crimes, but also the behind-the-scenes politics. Neither Hazel nor Detective Inspector Dave Gorman are armchair detectives. The same can be said about Ash when those he cares about are personally threatened. All three are motivated by doing what is right. When an old case clashes with the events of a new case, they refuse to turn a blind eye. The results are dangerous, and you won’t want to stop reading until the mystery is resolved.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Police Procedural

Notes: #5 in the Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash Mystery Series. This was the first book in the series for me to read, and I had no problem catching up with the background.

Publication:   September 1, 2018—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Perhaps he was the last man in England—the last man in the civilized world—to enjoy the sensation, both sensual and intellectual, of paper pages curling away under his fingers. Of words, and the ideas they encoded, waiting for him to find them—and staying close at hand after he’d read them, in case he needed to flick back a page or two to check something.

She had less and less patience with hard feelings and petty jealousies. She did her job, and did it well; being liked was an optional extra. It wasn’t something that she’d ever struggled with before, but if it came to a choice between being popular and doing what she believed to be right, she had broad shoulders.

Gorman knew that Jerome Harbinger was sixty-eight. If he hadn’t known, he’d have thought he was ten years older than that. His craggy face was savaged by deep lines that had nothing to do with laughter and everything to do with bitter unhappiness.

Meet Me at the Farmers Market–fun event for kids

Meet Me at the Farmers Market

written by Lisa Pelto

illustrated by Paula S. Wallace

Meet Me at the Farmers MarketSophia is seven years old and one of her favorite things to do is to go to the local Farmers Market every weekend with her mom—regardless of the weather and even if they are on vacation. Meet Me at the Farmers Market has appealing, colorful line art created by Paula S. Wallace. Author Lisa Pelto has tapped into the current revived interest in buying local and organic and entertainingly walks children through what it is like to go to a farmers’ market. Sophia meets her friends there, and it is a community event complete with pets and musicians. There are fun things for kids like face painting, balloon animals, and delicious food snacks. Sophia and her mom buy fresh seasonal vegetables, eggs and meat.

This is a fast and easy read that children can enjoy as a read aloud and later read by themselves. It offers many possibilities for discussion about families, friends, community and eating clean and local.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Reading is Key Publishing  (Concierge Marketing) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Food

Notes: 

1. Age Range: 3-7 years

    Grades: K-3

2. I wonder if it is typical for animals (besides service animals) to be allowed at a Farmers Market.

Publication:   June 8, 2018—Reading is Key Publishing  (Concierge Marketing)

Memorable Lines:

Mom always tells Farmer Dan, “Your eggs are the freshest, and that’s no yolk!”  Farmer Dan says, “You crack me up! See you next week.”

Ireland the Best–you know you want to go!

Ireland the Best

by John and Sally McKenna

Ireland the BestIreland the Best, a travel guide, is written in the same format as Scotland the Best, albeit by a different author. I looked at the Amazon listing for that book briefly, mainly to see if the sample book contained pictures. This series of travel books is composed of well-organized lists and does not show off each locale with pictures but does include links so you can easily see the attraction, restaurant, etc. for yourself online.

Given the style of this book, understanding the organizational format is of prime importance, and so the authors begin their guide book with…a guide to the book. They want to transmit to you the best that Ireland has to offer based on their 30 years of exploring the island. To help you search in the book you can use the index, categories in the Table of Contents such as “The Best Places to Eat and Stay in Ireland’s South West,” or the map to view items in a particular locale.

Codes are of great importance in this book and seem a little daunting at first, but as you use the references they quickly become familiar. They include things like “atmos” for atmosphere and “df” for dog friendly.

Tick or check marks (✓) are awarded for outstanding listings. There are indications of price ranges and difficulty levels of walks. Attractions are coded with map references also.

The meat of the guide begins with sections on the most famous attractions in Ireland, means of transportation, annual events, contributions of the Irish, and famous film locations. Next are sections focusing on Ireland’s four largest cities. They examine the lodging accommodations, style of cooking, restaurants, pubs, attractions, shops, walks, and views for each city. Next the guide expands to regional hotels and restaurants and sections that let the reader explore more specific topics like tea rooms (e.g. Miss Marple’s Tea Rooms), graveyards (e.g. Yeats’ Grave at Drumcliff Parish Church, Co Sligo), and Irish crystal and glass (e.g. House of Waterford). The last major section explores the many islands. Each attraction or feature in the book has a nice, short paragraph describing it.

I have not been to Ireland, but this guide book certainly inspires me to visit. I think this book would be an essential tool for me in planning a trip to the Old Country of my husband’s roots and then enjoying its features while there.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Reference, Travel

Publication:   September 1, 2018—Collins Reference

Memorable Lines:

Ireland has a fascinating past, sculpted by the great characters—knights, saints, writers, architects, freedom fighters, clerics, politicians, artists—who have shaped the nation, whether for good or for ill. We have loved discovering the castles and keeps, the graveyards and follies, the beaches and gardens that illuminate a picture of Irish culture going right back to pre-history.

Try a leisurely holiday with an Irish Cob horse, who will pull your home through the Wicklow landscape. Or go for a 7-day walk with a friendly donkey, who will walk beside you and carry your load. 

The Shannon estuary is teaming with life, and Geoff and Susanne Magee run an informative tour of the river mouth running a Dolphin and Nature Boat Trip, on which you might see the bottle dolphins as well as grey seals and pelagic sea birds.

Where the Fire Falls–Yosemite National Park

Where the Fire Falls

by Karen Barnett

Where the Fire FallsThemes abound in Karen Barnett’s work of historical fiction, set in Yosemite National Park, and they intertwine and work together well. In Where the Fire Falls, the Park itself almost seems like a character as it and its God-created beauty are central to the book. The novel has the Christian focus of man’s relationship with God through His grace. The two main characters have pasts they are struggling to both hide and overcome: Olivia, a rising watercolor artist, and Clark, a former pastor and currently a guide for tourists who want to mule pack into the wilderness.

The main characters are likable and the plot is surprisingly complex with some chaste romance throughout. Supporting characters include socialite patrons, an art agent, rangers at the park, other workers at Yosemite, a hermit, and Olivia’s two younger sisters and her Aunt Phyllis. Olivia has to overcome fears of the past, her inexperience with the outdoors, and her own naiveté. She has to peel off the mask she has created as a shield for herself and as a tool to promote herself in the art world. Clark seeks God’s guidance and direction but is unable to hear it because he feels unworthy.

The descriptions in this book are so well written that I can imagine standing at the various scenic spots as I am taken in by the beauty. Likewise, I can almost picture Olivia’s priceless watercolors that attempt to evoke an emotional response rather than provide a realistic depiction.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first in the series as the plot held more puzzles and surprises. The characters in the two books do not overlap so each actually is a standalone. It is my hope that the author will continue the Vintage National Park Series with new characters in a different national park.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Christian

Notes : A Vintage National Parks Novel

 

Publication:   June 5, 2018—WaterBrook (Random House)

Memorable Lines:

The impulsive decision now hung on her like a dress two sizes too large.

“Scripture says faith can move mountains, but I’ve found time spent in the mountains sometimes moves us toward faith.”

“God saved up the best bits of creation and spent them here.” Viewing it from this angle, she could almost imagine a divine artist smiling as He carved the valley away from the giant monoliths.

Dis-grace is a human term, Clark. God invented grace. No one can take it from you.”

Sold on a Monday–grab your heart

Sold on a Monday

by Kristina McMorris

Sold on a MondaySold on a Monday is one of those books that keeps returning to your thoughts—sad and soul crushing, but at the same time hopeful. Even the book’s title has a haunting echo: Sold on a Monday. What would it take for a mother to give up her children or further to sell them? Just how precious is a child to a mother and how can she survive when her child is gone? Sold on a Monday contains this theme within the story of a reporter’s drive for success, a secretary’s desire for secrecy, and families’ difficult relationships.

Sold on a Monday is set in the financial desolation of 1931 in Pennsylvania where Ellis, a reporter, snaps a photo of a sign “2 children for sale.” This one picture sets in motion the events contained in Kristina McMorris’ work of historical fiction that incorporates many elements of the Depression. It shows a poverty that brings out the best and the worst in people. Orphans are “adopted” to become forced workers. Mobs control cities, and Prohibition is for those without connections. Neighbors help neighbors, and shopkeepers set aside unsold goods for for the hungry, helpless, and homeless.

I was a little troubled by the romantic triangle in Sold on a Monday. At some points I felt the secretary with reporter aspirations, Lily, is being unfair to the two men interested in her. In fairness to her, however, although she has a four year old son, she is very young. At a time when being an unwed mother is a disgrace, she is attempting to make a living, take care of her child, and help her parents without whose support she would be in desperate straits. The author works out the triangle satisfactorily, if perhaps a bit too tidily, in the end.

I do recommend Sold on a Monday. It would be especially good for book clubs as it lends itself well to discussion. In fact, the author includes a section of questions for that purpose at the end of the book.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Publication:   August 28, 2018—Sourcebooks Landmark

Memorable Lines:

“Even when life’s downright lousy, most kids are still so resilient because…well, I guess ‘cause they don’t know any different. It’s like they only realize how unfair their lives are if you tell them. And even then, all they need is the smallest amount of hope and they could do just about anything they set their minds to…”

He dared to ask for a repeat of a point and instantly saw his mistake in the man’s hardened face. Everything about him—his eyes and nose, his build and demeanor resembled a watchful owl. Just biding his time until he swooped in for the kill.

Then she heard. “Can you tell me how it all started?” It was a standard question that blended the reporter in Lily’s head with the detective before her, and she wasn’t entirely certain which of them had asked.

Died in the Wool–in pursuit of a murderer

Died in the Wool

by Peggy Ehrhart

Died in the WoolDied in the Wool, like the first book in Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit and Nibble Mystery Series, has a calmness that gives me pleasure as I read. Although the main character Pamela sometimes follows inadvisable investigative leads like other cozy mysteries’ main characters, neither her pace of life nor her pursuit of justice is frenetic. I sometimes wonder how some main characters manage to maintain a job while trying to solve the mystery and juggle their many personal issues.

Pamela, like author Ehrhart, enjoys knitting and food, and those passions are evident in Pamela’s life as a member of a knitting club whose meetings  also feature snacks or desserts. Ehrhart includes a knitting pattern and recipes in the back of the book, but more pointedly, her descriptions of various foods are detailed and mouth-watering.

The knitting club Knit and Nibble works for weeks producing stuffed animal aardvarks, the school mascot, to sell in support of the football team at Arborfest. Unfortunately there is a murder and the knitting group’s reputation is damaged. Pamela and her friend Bettina try to find the murderer. This cozy has twists and turns with the criminal’s identity discovered only after many understandable, but wrong assumptions and some exciting scenes. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, Knit One, Die Two.

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 Knit and Nibble Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  August 28, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

She tested several ice-breaking comments in her mind, settling on “Your daughter’s tabouli is delicious.” He turned, looking as startled as if she’d announced a taste for human blood. Terribly shy, Pamela said to herself, awkward in social situations.

At that moment, the sandwiches arrived, on cream-colored oval plates with slender pickle spears tucked alongside. Gobbets of tuna salad and golden streaks of melted cheddar were barely contained by bread that had been grilled to buttery and toasty perfection.

Pamela wasn’t a wary person. She woke up every morning expecting the day to unfold predictably, just the way a knitting project moved predictably toward completion with only an occasional dropped stitch that could easily be picked up again.

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