Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Blessings of Friendship Treasury By Mary Engelbreit

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan Kidz Books (Aug. 12 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310745098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310745099

Book Description

The Blessings of Friendship, created by New York Times bestselling author and artist Mary Engelbreit, is a playful and poignant treasury of poetry, Bible verses, and quotes that celebrate the joy of friendship. Children will learn from timeless sayings and poems what it means to be a friend - helping, encouraging, listening, sharing with, and loving one another. Colorful and whimsical illustrations bring these words to life, as children learn the value of friendship. Verses from the Bible give us instruction on putting others above ourselves, loving each other, and being kind to one another. This book will make you smile with each turn of the page, remembering old friends and new friends alike.

About the Author

 Mary Engelbreit grew up studying the illustrations in the vintage storybooks of her mother’s childhood, and she developed a unique style that harkens back to those simpler times. Mary’s distinctive images have made her a celebrity to millions, who eagerly snap up gift items, calendars, books, fabrics, and more.

Mary’s New York Times bestselling The Night Before Christmas is part of the holiday tradition for families across the country. Other beloved additions to a child’s first bookshelf are her New York Times bestselling Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose and Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales, which are perfect companions to this volume.

My Review

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury by Mary Engelbreit is beautifully illustrated. It is a high quality book that any young girl would be delighted to receive. This is an updated version of the 2002 printing.

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury is filled with lovely illustrations by artist Mary Engelbreit, poems and stories that celebrate friendship. It also contains bible verses that pertain to love and friendship. A few quick anonymous verses in the book:

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels.

A friend is someone who knows all about you but loves you anyway.

This is a book that any young girl would treasure. I treasure it and I'm an adult! Highly recommend this beautiful volume. It is available August 2014.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: An Unholy Alliance (Emma Golden Mysteries #1) by Judy Nedry

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 402 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: iUniverse (May 19 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005O07GEE

Book Description
An Unholy Alliance introduces Emma Golden, a self-styled has-been who is invited to write a book on her beloved Oregon wine country, and manage a bed and breakfast for a friend. All seems ideal until Emma encounters her verbally abusive ex-husband, Dwight McCourt, shortly after settling in at the B&B. She discovers that she still harbors unresolved feelings for him.
Other characters crowd onto the scene, all wanting to be included in Emma’s upcoming wine book. Most prominent among them is Ted Maxell, a bombastic and unpopular newcomer to Oregon, and the owner of the showy Cougar Crossing Winery. Ted invites Emma to a gathering at his winery, where the story quickly turns sideways. By the end of the evening, Ted is found floating in a vat of fermenting pinot noir, his trousers bunched around his ankles.
- See more at:

Like many women in their fifties, Emma Golden feels invisible. She lives quietly in her Portland, Oregon bungalow and minds her own business. But her tranquil life is about to change. She is asked to return to the rolling hills of her former wine country home south of the city to supervise a friend's bed and breakfast inn near Dundee. Emma arrives at the Westerly Inn during grape harvest. She is under contract to write a book about Oregon wineries, and it's business as usual until she discovers one of her subjects dead in a wine vat-murdered at his own dinner party.

Cougar Crossing Winery owner Ted Maxell was a ruthless and dishonest newcomer to the northern Willamette Valley wine scene. Many people wanted him gone-including his son, many local winegrowers, and even Emma's ex-husband, Dwight. Then Maxell's daughter, Tiffany, calls Emma and begs for assistance. "I know who killed my father," she wails. When Emma answers Tiffany's cry for help, she finds herself drawn into the search for a murderer or murderers with secrets worth killing for.

About the Author

 Judy Nedry graduated University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and spent more than 20 years documenting the growth of the Pacific Northwest wine and food industries. She parlays this experience, plus her knowledge of small rural communities, into the Emma Golden Mystery Series which debuted in 2009 with "An Unholy Alliance" set in the vineyard-covered hills southwest of Portland, Oregon. The second in the series, "The Difficult Sister," is set on the remote southern Oregon coast. It was released in November, 2013.

The author resides in Portland, Oregon.

From the author:
"I specialize in lost causes, long friendships, and living well when I am able. The last award I won was in 1970; I can’t even pick up a couple bucks from a lottery scratch-it. I love anything to do with words, and always have. It’s a disease. Like my main character, Emma Golden, I’m a real dullard at a party. But I know a lot about food and wine and dark nights of the soul.

I grew up in a home where we were expected to find our own entertainment--riding bikes, disappearing into the woods to build forts...or just wander, stealing the neighbors' berries, lolling by the lake or reading Classic comic books on hot summer afternoons, eavesdropping on conversations at our mostly dysfunctional family events,and later just eavesdropping. And of course, reading. There was always a book around.

It is natural I became a story teller because I love stories. At college I started out as an English major, and then switched to journalism because it seemed to make sense.

As a journalist I became a better listener. As a wine and food writer I discovered an world of pleasures beyond my wildest imaginings. You see, I'd grown up in small towns. Where I came from, people didn't eat fine food or drink wine. I literally fell off a turnip truck! But I always knew there was more out there because I read books.

In addition to writing, I have worked in strawberry fields and onion fields, shipped potatoes and onions all over the continental United States, taken a summer job as secretary for a small town attorney, spent a month in New York as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine, served as managing editor for a small alternative magazine in the early 1970s, become a stock broker (a big mistake for someone like me!), helped found a vineyard and winery, co-founded a wine and food magazine, and traveled all over the world. I even ran a farmers' market for six months, carhopped at an A&W rootbeer stand, volunteered at a college theatre (and was smitten), married and bore two children.

All the while reading, loving, devouring mysteries, spy novels, thrillers, and suspense...."

Find out more at:

My Review

 An Unholy Alliance is the first book in the Emma Golden Mystery series by author Judy Nedry. It is a fast-paced, easy to read book. I can relate to Emma Golden as she is in her fifties. She is dealing with feeling invisible as sometimes happens in our middle years when her life takes an adventurous turn. She agrees to help at a friend's bed and breakfast and at the same time she is working on a nonfiction book about the blossoming Oregon wine industry.

Emma is invited to winery owner Ted Maxwell's party and before the party is over Maxwell is dead..found floating in a vat of pinot noir! There are lots of interesting characters...including many who have good reason to want Ted Maxwell dead. An Unholy Alliance seems like a cozy mystery at first what with the bed and breakfast and winery elements but it actually delves into some grim themes.

Great read. I'm looking forward to reading Emma's next adventure: The Difficult Sister.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: The Blood of an Englishman: An Agatha Raisin Mystery (Agatha Raisin #25) by M.C. Beaton

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Sept. 16 2014)
  • Sold by: Macmillan CA
  • Language: English

Book Description

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman..."Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of "Babes in the Woods," Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens...followed by a scream and then silence.

Surely this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show—and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.The Blood of an Englishman is Agatha's 25th adventure, and you'd think she would have learned by now not to keep making the same mistakes. Alas, no—yet Agatha's flaws only make her more endearing. In this sparkling new entry in   M. C. Beaton's New York Times bestselling series of modern cozies, Agatha Raisin once again "manages to infuriate, amuse, and solicit our deepest sympathies as we watch her blunder her way boldly through another murder mystery".

About the Author

 Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.

My Review

Ok, I must confess...Agatha Raisin is the aunt that I wish I had. She is so funny. She would be so amazing to have around. And an incredibly clever woman as well.

The Blood of an Englishman is the 25th Agatha Raisin mystery and yes I have read all 25. Why...because they are entertaining! Not only does M.C. Beaton transport the reader to a Cotswold English village in all its glory, she does so in an incredibly amusing fashion.

Agatha would not be Agatha if her head was not been turned by a handsome man. Of course the handsome man is an amateur actor in a local production of a pantomime where murder occurs in front right in front of the audience..including Agatha of course. The story takes plenty of twists and turns before our Agatha is in danger and the murderer is exposed. Beaton has a fast-paced writing style that allows for a speedy read. Highly recommend this entire series and definitely recommend The Blood of an Englishman. It can be read as a standalone but to get the full Agatha experience, I recommend you read them all. sure to follow M.C. Beaton on Facebook...she is continually amusing and clever. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 533 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (July 8 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A2C6EWO

  •  Book Description

    Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

    About the Author

    Born Sybil Anne Rivers in Atlanta, Georgia, she was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority. 

    While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered national attention. She later became a senior editor for Atlanta magazine. At the age of thirty she married Heyward Siddons, and she and her husband now live in Charleston, South Carolina, and spend summers in Maine.

    My Review

    The Girls of August is a good beach read but I was expecting more from an Anne Rivers Siddons book. I keep expecting surprises and twists that weren't there. So disappointing in that sense. It was easy to read and I finished it quite quickly. I would recommend Siddons' earlier books.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    Review: The Bone Orchard (Mike Bowditch #5) by Paul Doiron

    • eries: Mike Bowditch Mysteries (Book 5)
    • Hardcover: 320 pages
    • Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 15, 2014)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1250034884
    • ISBN-13: 978-1250034885

    Book Description

    In the aftermath of a family tragedy, Mike Bowditch has left the Maine Warden Service and is working as a fishing guide in the North Woods. But when his mentor Sgt. Kathy Frost is forced to kill a troubled war veteran in an apparent case of "suicide by cop," he begins having second thoughts about his decision.

    Now Kathy finds herself the target of a government inquiry and outrage from the dead soldier's platoon mates. Soon she finds herself in the sights of a sniper, as well. When the sergeant is shot outside her farmhouse, Mike joins the hunt to find the mysterious man responsible. To do so, the ex-warden must plunge into his friend's secret past—even as a beautiful woman from Mike's own past returns, throwing into jeopardy his tentative romance with wildlife biologist Stacey Stevens.

    As Kathy Frost lies on the brink of death and a dangerous shooter stalks the blueberry barrens of central Maine, Bowditch is forced to confront the choices he has made and determine, once and for all, the kind of man he truly is, in The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron.

    About the Author

     Paul Doiron is the author of the Mike Bowditch series of crime novels, including The Poacher's Son, which won the the Barry Award and the Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, a Macavity Award, and a Thriller Award for Best First Novel, and the Maine Literary Award for "Best Fiction of 2010." PopMatters named it to its Best Fiction of 2010 list.

    His second book in the Mike Bowditch series, Trespasser, won the Maine Literary Award for crime fiction, was an American Booksellers Association Indie Bestseller and has been called a "masterpiece of high-octane narrative" by Booklist.

    The third novel, Bad Little Falls, was a Bookscan Bestseller and is a nominee for the RT Reviewers Choice Award.

    Massacre Pond, the fourth in the series, was an Indie Next pick and an Indie Favorite, as well as Bookscan Bestseller.

    The Mike Bowditch novels have been translated into ten languages: German, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Romanian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Czech. The UK editions of all three books will be published in 2013 by Constable & Robinson.

    He is Editor Emeritus of Down East: The Magazine of Maine, having served as Editor in Chief from 2005 to 2013, before stepping down to write full time. A native of Maine, he attended Yale University, where he graduated with a degree in English, and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. He is a former member of the Maine Arts Commission and a current member of the Maine Humanities Council. Paul is a Registered Maine Guide specializing in fly fishing and outdoor recreation and lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine.

    The Bangor Daily News named Paul one of its 12 Mainers to Watch in 2012.

    My Review

    The Mike Bowditch Mystery series is one of the best series currently available. Paul Doiron brings Maine to life in this series. When an author can transport a reader to a local through his words, you know he is a writer worth his salt. 

    Mike Bowditch is a rebel, a non-conformist, but a man of integrity. The kind of man you would want as a friend. Kathy Frost is lucky to have such a friend. She is very rightly annoyed with him for leaving the warden service. Because Mike is a natural. He has the deductive reasoning skills combined with a knowledge of the outdoors that makes him perfect for a warden's job. But Mike has been disillusioned and he is spending his days as a fishing guide. Until he talks to his friend...then tragedy strikes. Is a suicidal ex-soldier's death to blame or is it something else?

    Mike Bowditch may no longer be a Maine Game Warden but he can never stop investigating...he can never stop being a warden. Bowditch is relentless in his search for the truth and his hunt for the shooter who shot his mentor Kathy Frost. As with each book in the series, Mike Bowditch grows up more before his eyes. As always there is plenty of action and twists and I loved the ending!

    Fabulous addition to a wonderful series. Download or pick up your copy today....The Bone Orchard is on sale now!


    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Review: NIV The Journey Bible Revealing God and How You Fit into His Plan Published by Zondervan

    • File Size: 6019 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
    • Publisher: Zondervan (April 21, 2014)
    • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00JD4V7Y2

    Book Description

    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”—Jeremiah 29:13

    The NIV Journey Bible is uniquely designed to help readers discover the practical aspects of Christianity and better understand God. Patterned after the Willow Creek model of ministry and intended for those in the investigative stage of their spiritual journey, The Journey’s exploratory approach addresses key questions inquisitive readers may have about the Bible and its relevance today. Notes and insights are woven throughout the complete NIV Bible text, drawing readers into the message and pointing the way to a relationship with Jesus. Icons trace six seeker themes throughout Scripture: "Discovering God," "Addressing Questions,” “Strengthening Relationships," "Reasons to Believe," "Knowing Yourself," and "Managing Resources." Also included in The Journey are introductory articles that define key concepts involved in being a spiritually open person, book introductions, indexes, a dictionary/concordance, and a "Fire Alive" reading plan covering Genesis, Deuteronomy, John, Acts, and Romans.

    The Journey can be used as an evangelism tool and makes a perfect gift for new believers and those looking for answers to life’s deepest questions. It is also a helpful guide for veteran Christians who want a refreshing perspective on the basics of their belief.

    My Review

    This is a fabulous bible to give to new believers. Or just to people who are looking for the Truth and for answers in an easy to follow format.

    There is great introductory material in this bible:

    o   What Is A Spiritual Explorer?
    o   How To Seek God
    o   A Summary of the Bible
    o   Who is Jesus?
    o   Jesus’ Famous One-Liners
    o   Crossing the Line: How to Follow Jesus
    o   Defining Moments of the Old Testament
    o   Defining Moments of the New Testament
    o   Five Alive

    Five Alive is a sensible reading plan for reading key parts of the bible over 30 days. Great introduction for new believers. I love the introductions to each book of the bible with the Bottom Line, Central Ideas and Outline. This bible is relaxed and non-threatening. You will not fill overwhelmed with this version.

    Great addition to my bible collection!

    Review: Justice in June (Mary Magruder Katz #2) by Barbara Levenson

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 1879 KB
    • Print Length: 275 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Barbara Levenson; 2nd edition (May 4 2014)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00K59ZMBI

    Book Description

    Miami in June: it's raining, it's pouring, but the life of criminal defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz is anything but boring-especially when she gets caught up in a whirlwind of three different cases. Judge Liz Maxwell's job, sanity, and reputation are at stake, and she needs Mary to ferret out wrongdoing in Miami's courts. Solving this case won't just mean going out on a limb; it will mean risking life and limb. Luis Corona, a family friend of Mary's boyfriend, Carlos, needs help with a legal matter that, to Mary's horror, turns out to be a terrorism charge. And this case will leave some catastrophic damage-and unwelcome notoriety-in its wake. Just when Mary thought things couldn't get worse, Carlos gets in his own nasty legal quandary-one that could cost him everything. Three cases. One Mary. One torrential downpour of turmoil. Can she weather the storm? Ride out the cold front that settles over her once-hot romance? Salvage what remains of her-and her clients'-reputations? For Mary Magruder Katz, this month's forecast calls for trouble.

    About the Author

    Barbara Levenson has lived in Miami for the past 32 years. A cum laude graduate of the University of Miami Law School, Barbara has served as a prosecutor and run her own law practice where she focused on criminal defense and civil rights litigation. Barbara and her husband, a retired financial consultant, bred and showed German Shepherd Dogs for 20 years and finished 11 champions in the show ring. They have two sons.

    My Review

    Justice in June is a fun summer mystery read. I have always enjoyed zany mystery stories such as those written by Janet Evanovich...Justice in June is just as zany!

    The author, Barbara Levenson, is a lawyer so you know that the legal information and court scenes are accurate. It really does rain a lot in Florida in June...I was just does.  

    Criminal defense attorney Mary Magruder Katz is working on three cases and is very overwhelmed as she is being pulled in different directions. She is defending a judge in a tricky case...and then there is her boyfriend Carlos pushing her help his cousin Luis who is somehow caught up in a national security threat.

    Fun book. Great beach read!


    Review: This Private Plot: An Oliver Swithin Mystery by Alan Beechey

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 847 KB
    • Print Length: 301 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 1 2014)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00K2H3WSS

    Book Description

     If a blackmail letter drives a man to suicide, is the sender guilty of murder? “Yes,” says Oliver Swithin, author of bestselling Finsbury the Ferret children’s stories and amateur sleuth, who is on holiday in an ancient village.

    A midnight streak with his naked girlfriend—Scotland Yard’s Effie Strongitham—abruptly ends in the discovery of a corpse. Retired radio broadcaster Dennis Breedlove has hanged himself from the old gibbet. Evidence suggests blackmail may have driven this celebrity to suicide. Irresistibly intrigued, Oliver believes discovering the dead man’s secret will lead to the identity of the blackmailer. But in Britain today, when shame is a ticket to fame, why suicide? What if it wasn’t?

    When the mystery abruptly turns inside out, black-clad strangers attack Oliver in the night. The Vicar behaves strangely. So do the village’s ¬ five unmarried Bennet sisters, a mysterious monk, the persistent, self-effacing Underwood Tooth, and Oliver’s Uncle Tim, Effie’s superior at the Yard and a part-time Shakespearean actor. Plus Oliver’s aunt and his mother. Who else might play a role in This Private Plot? Two William Shakespeares?

    It’s time to put the laugh back into slaughter with the long-awaited third chapter in the career of Oliver Swithin. Yet under the clever wordplay and bawdy jokes lies an inventive and, yes, scholarly plot.

    About the Author

     Alan Beechey was born in England and grew up in London. He moved to Manhattan in his twenties and now lives with his three sons and his rescue mutt, Leila, in Rye, New York. This Private Plot is Alan Beechey’s third mystery featuring children’s book author and amateur sleuth Oliver Swithin and his girlfriend, Scotland Yard detective Effie Strongitharm.

    My Review

    What a fun read! This is the first book that I have read that is written by Alan Beechey.  This Private Plot is the third book in the Oliver Swithin series. It can stand alone but now I am planning to go back and read the first maybe reading them in order would be a good idea!

    Blackmail...suicide....streaking...and that is just how the book starts. Sometimes a little raunchy and filled with puns. This is definitely a fun read. I has been available since May and is a great mystery filled with secrets and British shenanigans!

    Review: Never Coming Back (David Raker #4) by Tim Weaver

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 2163 KB
    • Print Length: 376 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0525426868
    • Publisher: Viking Adult (July 3 2014)
    • Sold by: Penguin Group USA
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00G3L16LC

    Book Description

    A bestseller in the UK, this gripping thriller of a family that vanishes into thin air is Tim Weaver’s American debut

    Emily Kane arrives at her sister Carrie’s house to find the front door unlocked, dinner on the table, and the family nowhere to be found—Carrie, her husband, and two daughters have disappeared. When the police turn up no leads, Emily turns to her former boyfriend David Raker, a missing persons investigator, to track the family down. As Raker pursues the case, he discovers evidence of a sinister cover-up, decades in the making and with a long trail of bodies behind it.

    Tim Weaver’s thrillers have been hugely popular in the UK, and now Never Coming Back will introduce his beloved character David Raker to American audiences. Set in Las Vegas and a small fishing village in England, the novel is a smart, fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing until the very end.

    About the Author

     Tim Weaver is the bestselling author of the David Raker missing persons series. His fourth novel, Never Coming Back, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and his work has been nominated for a National Book Award. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter. Find out more about Tim and his writing at

    My Review

    Tim Weaver is a British author whose books are now becoming available in North America. I had not previously read any of Tim Weaver's books before Never Coming Back. While this book is part of the David Raker series, it can stand on its own.

    I always enjoy missing persons cases so I looked forward to reading Never Coming Back. David Raker, the main character in Weaver's novels, is a missing persons investigator. Tim Weaver is a wonderful surprise! He is an excellent thriller writer. This novel which is set in Las Vegas and in England, will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    North American readers are in for a treat. Just went on sale in early sure to pick this one up.

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Review: Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • Print Length: 368 pages
    • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Aug. 26 2014)
    • Sold by: Macmillan CA
    • Language: English

    Book Description

    High summer in Acker's Gap, West Virginia—but no one's enjoying the rugged natural landscape. Not while a killer stalks the small town and its hard-luck inhabitants. County prosecutor Bell Elkins and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong are stymied by a murderer who seems to come and go like smoke on the mountain. At the same time, Bell must deal with the return from prison of her sister, Shirley—who, like Bell, carries the indelible scars of a savage past.

    In Summer of the Dead, the third Julia Keller mystery chronicling the journey of Bell Elkins and her return to her Appalachian hometown, we also meet Lindy Crabtree—a coal miner's daughter with dark secrets of her own, secrets that threaten to explode into even more violence.

    Acker's Gap is a place of loveliness and brutality, of isolation and fierce attachments—a place where the dead rub shoulders with the living, and demand their due.

    About the Author

    Julia was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University, then later earned a doctoral degree in English Literature at Ohio State University.

    She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at Princeton and Ohio State Universities, and the University of Notre Dame. She is an essayist for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

    Julia lives in a high-rise in Chicago and a stone cottage on a lake in rural Ohio.

    My Review

    Summer of the Dead is the third installment in this incredible series by Julia Keller. Bell Elkins is a fascinating character who we get to know better with each book. Her sister Shirley is out of that a good or bad thing?

    West Virginia is brought to life with Julia Keller's haunting words. Acker's Gap, West Virginia is gritty and rough and desperate...just like most of its inhabitants. It is world being pulled down by poverty and prescription drug abuse. And in the heat of summer you can feel the desperation of the people. When murders are added to the mix, people are more on edge than is imaginable. 

    Bell Elkins, the prosecutor in Acker's Gap is reeling from the cancellation of her daughter's trip home to spend the summer with her. She is getting used to Shirley living with her. She has this overwhelming need to interfere in Shirley's life. Can she ever compensate Shirley for saving her in their childhood? Can she let Shirley make her own mistakes...

    Young Lindy smart...her future could hold so much being dragged down by her father's dementia. And by evil outside sources she doesn't even know are plotting against her. 

    The scene is set for a tension-filled tale that you cannot stop reading. I couldn't put it down. Julia Keller is an amazing writer and storyteller. The author gets better with each book in this series. Love the twist-filled conclusion. If you have not read this series, then you need to. Highly recommend Summer of the Dead.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Review: Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepard

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 9115 KB
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
    • Publisher: Skyhook Press (May 27 2014)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00KHHBYU6

    Book Description

    In time for the World War I centennial, Aaron’s popular story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 is available as the picture book Christmas Truce. Illustrations are by Wendy Edelson, author of Aaron’s Christmas picture book The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. The book is available now on Kindle and will be published in September in hardcover and paperback. The story may be found on this site in versions for reading, reader’s theater (both regular and small-team), and storytelling. Aaron’s Extras includes performances of the story by Lakes Area Theatre and the Chamber Readers.

    Christmas Day, 1914

    My dear sister Janet,

    It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts -- yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn't been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!

    The Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of the most extraordinary incidents not only of World War I but of all military history. Providing inspiration for songs, books, plays, and movies, it has endured as an archetypal image of peace. Yet much about the historic event remains shrouded in myth and legend.
    In this fictional letter -- illustrated in authentic detail by Wendy Edelson -- award-winning author Aaron Shepard draws from firsthand accounts of soldiers at the front to portray the truce in its true nature and spirit.

    About the Author and Illustrator

    Aaron Shepard's many books for young people have won honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the American Folklore Society, and the National Council for the Social Studies. Visit him at

    Wendy Edelson has been honored with the Pacific Northwest Book Award, the Moonbeam Children's Book Award, and the Mom's Choice Award. Her other illustrated books include Aaron's "The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale." Visit her at

    My Review

     2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. This delightful book for older children is available now on Kindle and will be published in hardcover in September.

    War is much different in our present world than it was 100 years ago. World War I was fought by emperors and kings who were power hungry and all actually related to each other. It was not an ideological war. Europe is not a large place. The myths surrounding the Christmas truce are replaced by fact in this book which is beautifully illustrated by Wendy Edelson. This book shows young people how similar the opposing forces actually were. It was a time when Christmas was still magical. It had not been replaced by crass commercialism and by political correctness.

    I highly recommend this book for young and old alike. It is eye-opening and heartwarming. Great Christmas book!

    Review: The Jesus Code By O. S. Hawkins

    • Imitation Leather: 288 pages
    • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 29, 2014)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0529100827
    • ISBN-13: 978-0529100825

    Book Description

    Jesus gets attention not with exclamation marks, but with question marks.

    Jesus was always asking questions. Whether with a small group or large crowd, Jesus opened hearts and minds by asking questions that grasped attention and made one think. In The Jesus Code, author O. S. Hawkins poses fifty-two thought-provoking questions found throughout the Bible that believers should be able to answer as they grow in their faith and share their faith with others. Each question features a devotional thought to help readers find answers and promote further reflection.
    Sample questions include:
    • What does the Lord require of you?
    • Where can I go from Your Spirit?
    • Who is my neighbor?
    • What is your life? A vapor that appears and vanishes away?
    • Why do you seek the living among the dead?
    • Will a man rob God?
    As with The Joshua Code, all royalties will go to Mission:Dignity, whose mission supports retired pastors and their wives (or widows) living near poverty level.
    Features & Benefits:
    • Includes 52 thought-provoking questions and answers
    • Handsome burnished leathersoft binding for a rich, classic look
    • This release follows peak of O.S. Hawkins’ book, The Joshua Code with sales of more than 150,000 units
    • All royalties go toward Mission:Dignity, an organization that supports retired pastors and their spouses living near the poverty level
    About the Author

     O. S. Hawkins came to GuideStone Financial Resources in 1997 as President and Chief Executive Officer. Prior to his tenure at GuideStone, he served as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas (1993-1997) and Pastor of First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for 15 years (1978-1993). Prior to these two pastorates, he served as pastor of two Oklahoma churches, First Baptist Church of Hobart (1972-1974) and First Baptist Church of Ada (1974-1978).

    Hawkins was baptized as a 17-year-old in the historic Sagamore Hill Baptist Church. Hawkins earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Upon returning from a mission trip to Matamoros, Mexico, he felt called to the ministry. He earned his Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice Seminary. He has also received several honorary doctoral degrees.

    In addition to his role as GuideStone president and a long-time pastor, Hawkins is a noted author, having published more than 25 books throughout his ministry. Many of those books are available for free download. His most recent books, The Pastor’s Guide to Leading and Living and The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know, are available for sale through fine bookstores and online through All proceeds and royalties from the sale of these two books benefit the Mission:Dignity ministry.

    Hawkins oversaw two of the Southern Baptist Convention’s most noted churches. In Fort Lauderdale, Hawkins oversaw tremendous growth in the church due to outreach efforts within the church. He was named Clergyman of the Year by the Religious Heritage of America in 1993.

    In 1993, he was called to pastor the 23,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, succeeding the legendary Dr. W.A. Criswell.

    He has been married to his wife Susie since 1970, and they have two married daughters, Wendy and Holly; two sons-in-law, Brian and David; and six grandchildren.
    My Review

    Brilliant book. Author and Pastor Hawkins finds 150 questions that God is asking his believers in the Gospels alone. He found over 3,000 questions in both the Old and New Testaments. For Christians to grow they need to ask questions. This book will help you with your Christian growth. 

    The book is laid out so that you can utilize it to study the bible over the course of a year...52 weeks...52 questions and chapters. For example the first question and answer:

    “Has God indeed said . . . ?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes, He certainly has.” And what He says in His Word is true. We can trust Him. Remember this week that doubt is deadly when the Deceiver comes to you in various ways to get you to doubt what God has said in His Word.

    Hawkins ends his introduction to The Jesus Code with:  "So let me pose a personal question: Are you ready to begin looking at the fifty-two questions in The Jesus Code, questions with answers that impact not only today but eternity? After all, some answers for life just can’t be found on Google! Let’s turn the page and begin with the first question recorded in Scripture."

    Hawkins concludes with: You can now join millions of Christ’s followers in answering Pilate’s question, “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” by confidently affirming, “I will believe Jesus is the one and only Savior, and I will put my trust in Him . . . for now and for eternity." In reading this book you will ponder and find the answers to the most important questions Christians should be able to answer. This will be a great help for witnessing to others.

    Highly recommend The Jesus Code. It is available at the end of July.


    Review: NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible Grow Your Faith While Growing Your Garden By Contributor: Shelley Cramm

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 5373 KB
    • Print Length: 1568 pages
    • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
    • Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (March 25 2014)
    • Sold by: Zondervan CA (CA SOR)
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00J1UJ8O4

    Book Description

    God will meet you personally in your garden... and in his. Throughout the Scriptures God has revealed spiritual truth in the language of growing things. This Bible will take you into a deeper relationship with God through the contemplation of soil and soul. The NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible will inspire you to seek God in a personal way through informative essays, devotional readings and prayers that explore the nature of the gardener’s work, the rewards of gardening, the influence of seasons and weather, and the joy of the harvest. In this Bible you will also find botanical-themed pages containing horticultural information for the prominent plants noted in Scripture and landscape-themed pages highlighting the main gardens and regions in which the events in the Bible took place. Draw near to the One whose garden is planted with delight---in you!

    Features: * 260 daily devotions and 52 weekend readings arranged in weekly themes and placed near relevant passages in the text to explore the biblical metaphors of gardens and gardening * Beautiful, durable hardcover * Topical Index (for 52 weeks) * Special sections on the Garden of Eden, the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus the Vine.

    About the Author

    Shelley S. Cramm, author of NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, is a suburban mom who has found the Word of God to be completely useful and practical in her everyday life—not to mention delightfully fun! Her background includes work in architectural and garden design, as well as involvement in local Bible study groups, Moms in Prayer and Moms of Preschoolers ministries.

    Inspiration to write a gardener’s Bible grew out of a routine of morning journaling and an enduring hope to finish up the laundry and get out to the garden. Shelley and her husband Topher have five children and live in Irving, Texas.

    Shelley S. Cramm, author of NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, is a suburban mom who has found the Word of God to be completely useful and practical in her everyday life—not to mention delightfully fun! Her background includes work in architectural and garden design, as well as involvement in local Bible study groups, Moms in Prayer and Moms of Preschoolers ministries.
    Inspiration to write a gardener’s Bible grew out of a routine of morning journaling and an enduring hope to finish up the laundry and get out to the garden. Shelley and her husband Topher have five children and live in Irving, Texas.
    - See more at:
    Shelley S. Cramm, author of NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, is a suburban mom who has found the Word of God to be completely useful and practical in her everyday life—not to mention delightfully fun! Her background includes work in architectural and garden design, as well as involvement in local Bible study groups, Moms in Prayer and Moms of Preschoolers ministries.
    Inspiration to write a gardener’s Bible grew out of a routine of morning journaling and an enduring hope to finish up the laundry and get out to the garden. Shelley and her husband Topher have five children and live in Irving, Texas.
    - See more at:

    My Review

    This is a very interesting format for a bible. I am reviewing the ebook of this bible and I have found it very easy to navigate with the included hyperlinks. It is a unique bible in that it is a bible for people who love to garden and love nature.

    This is an introduction to the unique format:

    Welcome to God’s Word for Gardeners. We will be puttering together for 52 weeks, gathering information and insight from the Bible’s plants, landscapes, and common cultivating practices into gentle, prayerful daily musings on God’s Word. A hybrid of study Bible and devotional Bible, with an understory planting of quotations from garden writing classics, God’s Word for Gardeners will connect you to all that God intended in our working the land and taking care of it.
    Because a garden is a place we go to, to rest and reconnect, to find our way, to breathe the earth; many of our weeks will be spent seeing the landscape places of the Bible, a Garden Tour, so to speak, inspiring us with ideas to try at home . . .
    and a garden is a work we do, growing ourselves as we grow our plants — a work in progress, a work of the heart; there is always work to do! God teaches us his ways through the weeks of Garden Work . . .

    and a garden is a story. Beginning-middle-end parallels the seed to sprout to flower and fruit — walk with a gardener in his garden and you will hear stories and histories of plants, storms, survival, and surprise, all very personal and endearing. God has so much to impart in his Garden Stories.
    Like a cucumber crisp from the vine or dewdrops on needle-tips catching the light, you have not tasted and seen the full goodness of the Lord until you have considered his Word from a gardener’s point of view. The whole Bible is meant to be known with book in one hand, trowel in the other. More than a metaphor, gardening unlocks insight, explanation, practicality and company with God in grasping and delighting in the Word of God. 

    RSVP to the garden’s invitation: Come!

    Weekly themes include:
    GARDEN TOUR: Garden of Eden, Fertile Crescent, Egypt, Sinai Desert, Promised Land, En Gedi, Cedars of Lebanon, Palace Gardens, Mount of Olives, Asia Minor and Macedonia, Revelation’s Urban Garden

    GARDEN WORK: Choosing, Preparing the Soil, Planting, Planting Pots, Watering, Cultivating, Weeding, Pruning, Propagating, Composting; Sowing and Reaping, Rooting, Growing, Flowering, Bearing Fruit, Celebrating the Harvest; with age-old spiritual disciplines as Garden Tools — Prayer, Work Ethic, Humility, Thanksgiving, Hope, Peace, Generosity
    GARDEN STORIES: Seasons, Sun and Shade, Weather, Pest and Pestilence — because calamities eventually make the best stories; Jesus’ Horticultural Parables, Israel’s Horticultural Allegories, Away from the Last Supper, Jesus, the Seed, Root, Branch and Firstfruit, The Harvest of Righteousness, Intimacy with God in the Garden
     I had not thought of God as a gardener before. What an interesting concept. God's Word for Gardeners has a weekly reading plan that includes readings, devotions and a prayer for each day. As a gardener I find this bible to be very uplifting and helpful. The devotions are thoughtful and encouraging. The information about plants in the bible is fascinating.

    I had wondered how author Shelley Cramm would handle my favorite verse in the bible, Isaiah 58:11. She wrote:

    With the words of Isaiah, God reminds us of his continual, enduring way of meeting our needs and using us to meet the needs of others (Isaiah 58:10 – 11). It is the moving current of his two commandments: with God as the source, loving him flows into loving others (Mark 12:29 – 31). As we help friends or strangers, the Lord reassures us in the beautiful language of the garden that he will guide us, satisfy our needs and keep us strong in doing so (Isaiah 58:11). He brings us from sun-scorched land, so to speak, to well-watered gardens, refreshed so we will refresh others.
    Gardener and author Rebecca Cole reminds us of the personal nature of tending the garden through the chore of watering.

     To summarize, gardening makes me happy and worshiping the Lord makes me happy. The two of these things combined is a winner as far as I am concerned. A great addition to my bible collection.