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Killed on Blueberry Hill
by Sharon Farrow
Oh, yes! I have a new series to add to a favorites list for cozy mysteries. Although I jumped into Sharon Farrow’s Berry Basket Mystery Series with the third book, I had no trouble following the storyline of Killed on Blueberry Hill. At first, given the theme of the book and the series, I was afraid blueberries would be overdone in this book. While they do take center stage as a motif, the emphasis is not forced because the setting is Oriole Point’s Blueberry Blow Out festival. It is, in fact, integral to the plot. Although blueberries are found all through the book, their inclusion is not repetitious because of the variety of ways the theme is used—food, drinks, atmosphere, businesses, costumes, and carnival fun.
The plot of Killed on Blueberry Hill has lots of threads that tie together well…in the end. Along the way they seem contradictory and confusing, pointing a finger at many suspects with plausible motives. This cozy mystery contains a wonderful assortment of characters, but many are not who they seem to be. Secrets and deceptions underlie the festive atmosphere. Marlee is the owner of The Berry Basket, a store in town that sells blueberry products, so she knows the three major producers, all family-run businesses. Her fiancé Ryan is a member of the close-knit Zellar family. Why is he pushing Marlee so hard on the wedding date, selling her family home, and just about every other decision in her life? When the owner of another blueberry farm is murdered on his own carnival ride, who will get the blame? There are several deaths in Oriole County. Who is set to inherit the wealth? This cozy has an exciting, action packed ending and major surprises. Along the way we meet Natasha, the recently widowed Miss Russia, with her delightful accent and choice of words. Not only does she add humor to the book, but she is instrumental in helping Marlee. I don’t know if Natasha will be included in future books in the series, but I hope so. She ramped up the book from 4 stars to 5 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.
Notes: #3 in the Berry Basket Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone. Added to the book are three delicious sounding recipes that were featured in the story—blueberry, of course.
Publication: October 30, 2018—Kensington Publishing
When I came to a stop in front of the yellow farmhouse, I could almost see my younger pigtailed self on the bottom porch step, eating fresh-picked blueberries from a pail. It seemed a lifetime ago. But also as recent as last month.
“Don’t be such a snob. Not everyone was born with an entire set of silver spoons in their mouth.”
I threw myself into work with such single-minded dedication, Ebenezer Scrooge himself would have given me a raise. And he wouldn’t have needed any visits from ghosts to prompt it.
I Scream, You Scream
by Wendy Lyn Watson
Wendy Lyn Watson, author of I Scream, You Scream throws the reader right into main character Tally’s life and problems as Tally tries to rebuild her life after her divorce from two(or more)-timing Wayne. She’s started a struggling new business, Remember the A-la-mode, an ice cream shop named for its Texas (Alamo) roots. Her part of the divorce settlement is a historic house (cha-ching!), and she needs her ex and his teenintsy girlfriend to hire her to cater desserts for his company’s annual picnic.
There is a murder following the picnic and suspicion lands on Wayne and then on Tally. Tally’s informal investigation takes her into the seamier side of her hometown of Dalliance where it seems everyone has a secret. Tally’s high school sweetheart returns to town making life even more complicated.
I knew I would like this book from page one. The characters with their Texas talk and customs are interesting and well integrated into the plot where the mystery holds center stage. The story clips along at a good pace and culminates in a surprise ending. I’m looking forward to more of this series, perhaps served up with a bowl of my favorite ice cream.
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.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery
Notes: #1 in the Mystery A-la-mode Series
Publication: May 1, 2018—Henery Press
In a heartbeat, the curvy coed went from looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth to looking meaner than a skillet full of rattlesnakes. I dang near got whiplash watching the transformation.
Sure enough, he could turn on the aw-shucks, chicken-fried charm when it suited him. But behind his sleepy blue eyes lurked a whip-smart mind and a shrewd ambition.
She laughed again, a sound as rich as warm dulce de leche.
Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children
by Jodie Berndt
What better way to start off the new year than with a book on prayer? Parenting doesn’t end where the empty nest begins, but the whole approach changes when our children become adults.
Jodie Berndt has written several books on “praying the Scriptures.” What she means by that is the very simple concept of taking scriptural promises and turning them into requests inserting a name. For example, in praying for a child who has a job loss or financial difficulty, Berndt turns II Chronicles 15:7 (“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”) into a petition: “Help _______ be strong and not give up. Reward her for her work.” Praying the Scriptures is certainly a powerful way of approaching the throne of God with the pleadings of our hearts.
The format of the book is equally simple. The reader is encouraged to study the whole book, but can also go directly to sections that are of particular concern. Each chapter has an appropriate title and starts with a summary Bible verse. For example, “Praying for Protection from Harm” opens with Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him.” Next the author shares a real life story from her own family or from parents she has interviewed who have had this particular struggle. She inserts “prayer principles” in the story to add focus and for easy reference. One in this example chapter is “Asking God to put his angels in charge of your child’s safety encompasses more than just physical protection. We can trust Him to stand guard over their hearts and minds too.” The next section, “Poised for Prayer,” expands more on the parental attitude to prayer in this specific case. Most importantly, the chapter ends with “Prayers You Can Use” which holds two sections. The first holds a few Scriptures turned into prayers for parents to use for themselves as they turn to God by supporting their child through prayer asking for wisdom and understanding while releasing the adult child to God’s care. The second is a longer section containing about a dozen prayers asking God to intercede in their child’s life.
Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children acknowledges that parents are just people searching for answers and help. It does not play a guilt game over past parenting faults (real or imagined). It just leads the parent to find appropriate ways to pray without interfering. The book does not claim cookie cutter solutions to the many very difficult issues we all encounter as God works differently in each person’s life.
The challenge and help of this book can easily be extended to anyone praying for any other adult and even for oneself as you seek God’s will and help through a tough season. The personal accounts show how differently God works in each situation and are comforting as they show that you are not alone in your struggles. The verses that are aptly chosen give a quick and focused path to prayer, but certainly, anyone could use the same approach on their own in searching out Scriptures that apply to their situations.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Zondervan for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: This book can be a bit overwhelming when read in one fell swoop, but having done that and with the bigger picture in mind, the reader can then zoom in on a particular chapter and apply its principles.
Publication: December 5, 2017—Zondervan
The things you give to God in prayer—your worries, concerns, and needs—are the ties that bind your heart to his. Our struggles are his entry points.
The more we allow the Bible to shape our prayers, the more our requests will line up with God’s plans.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” I realized that it didn’t matter whose plan we were following; the outcome was up to the Lord. My job was to get out of his way.
God is not just interested in results; he wants relationship.