Book Review: Write to Die – Perfect Legal Mystery

Write to DieWrite to Die

By Charles Rosenberg

Rory Calburton is in a tight spot. He is the newly promoted partner at his law firm, which is the primary council for a major movie studio. Currently, the studio is embroiled in a lawsuit involving this year’s blockbuster movie which is scheduled to release within days. Rory is called to the studio by the head honcho, Joe Stanton to discuss the case. But Joe won’t be discussing the case or anything else because Rory finds him dead.

This was the tip of the iceberg of Rory’s bad luck. His boss, Hal Harold, is the prime suspect in Joe’s death. Now the lawsuit brought against the studio by former star Mary Bloom might take a bad turn with Joe no longer in the picture. Rory’s headaches multiply when he not only has to defend the studio, but his boss in front of a less than friendly judge.

Enter another wild card in the form of a brilliant young assistant; Sarah Gold. Fresh out of law school, an admirable internship and a shady few years of bartending, Sarah jumps into the investigation a bit too eagerly. Now Rory has to research the lawsuit before the blockbuster hits the big screen, defend his boss from a murder and keep Sarah from doing something so far over the edge of legal that could get them both thrown out of the firm and possibly into jail.

Write to Die is a fascinating romp through the court system. The mystery of who killed Joe Stanton is well played and was impossible for me to figure out until the last few pages. The clues were all there, it was just a matter of connecting all the dots. Much to my delight, I did not figure it out until the last chapters.

Rosenberg writes the story with a noir flavor set in modern day. The “good ‘ol boy” mentality of the film studio and law firm was very reminiscent of a noir story of the 1950’s. But, if you are not a noir fan, no worries, the modern day setting as well as the antics of Sarah will pull you back into a world with cell phones and tracking devices.

The characters were interesting and well-developed. Pieces of back ground and history were fed to the reader in small bits so as not to overwhelm the actual story. It was like getting to know an acquaintance who soon

became a friend. By the end of the book, some of them were close friends of mine, but a few had secrets that I am dying to find out. Maybe I will find out in the next book with these characters. I certainly hope there is a sequel.

It is always delightful for a reader to find a new author he or she likes. The smart, easy to read dialog and story Rosenberg gives us makes the book interesting and a fast read. This is his fourth book. He is a practicing lawyer in LA, which allows him to add realism to Write To Die that keeps the readers involved and interested in how the trial as well as the personal relationships are going to work out.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Children’s Book Review: Starr and the HIgh Seas Wedding Drama – Terrific Series for Girls

Starr book 3Starr and the High Seas Wedding Drama

Written by Lynn Woolley

Illustrated by Karen Wolcott

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley & the publisher in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Starr Rubio’s Abuela has a surprise for the whole family. She is going to take them on a cruise. But the surprises didn’t end there, Abuela was getting married to Walter. His family was coming on the trip also. Things got even more exciting for Starr when she found out that she and Walter’s granddaughter were going to be flower girls.

But when Starr met Ivy, she soon discovered they were very different. Starr was excited about Abuela falling in love and getting married. Ivy wasn’t happy with the changes that would take place when her Grandpa married Starr’s Grandma. Could these two girls become friends?

Starr and the High Seas Wedding Drama is the third book in the Flower Girl World Series chapter book. The story moved along quickly with plenty of tension to keep younger readers engaged. There were a few words in Spanish sprinkled throughout the text, with glossary and pronunciation guide at the end. Sharing other cultures is a great way for children to want to learn new languages as well as cultures.

I feel the characters would be easy for young girls to identify with. The feelings, experiences and interactions were very true to life.

I would recommend this series for children that can read chapter books by themselves. It is also appropriate for a bit younger age group to have parents or caregivers read it aloud to them, especially if they are going to be flower girls in a wedding.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Lazy Crafternoon – Tons of Cute, Affordable, Easy Crafts

Lazy CarfternoonLazy Crafternoon

by Stella Fields

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley  & Capstone in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Lazy Crafternoon made me want to pull out the craft supplies, call a few friends and have a fun crafty day. Fields has compiled a collection of crafts that are easy to make, useful and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

She begins with explaining supplies and how to use them. They are common in most if not all households (scissors, glue, paintbrushes) or easily purchases at your local craft, hardware or even grocery store. The most exotic thing she discusses is decoupage glue, so you won’t have to order something from an expensive craft house to complete her projects.

The projects are divided into different sections:

Accessories includes headbands, decoupaged shoes (I cannot wait to do this to a pear of my favorite flats that are looking tired!) and a diffuser necklace that uses essential oils to name a few. There are a total of 10 crafts in this section.

Decorate gives the reader instructions for ribbon wreaths (think Christmas gift!), no sew pillows and cute flower pot makeovers. There are a total of 14 crafts in this section.

Study is the section of school supplies that can be used for many other purposes also. My favorite in this section is the cinch sacks – they can carry so much more that books – think knitting! They are perfect for the project on the go. There are a total of 10 projects in this section.

Celebrate is all about party decorations and gifts wrappings. The coolest trick to make wrapping paper with a lint roller will absolutely be used this Christmas in our house! You can celebrate with all 11 of the projects included here.

Food is the final section. Why food in a craft book? Remember the title is Lazy Crafternoon and in order to have a Crafternoon you have to add friends and food to complete your day. There are 7 crafty type recipes that look yummy and perfect for your crafternoon or for giving or just plain enjoying yourself. The one I can’t wait to try is sun tea in mason jars. How fun to personalize each one for the person that is going to enjoy it?

Overall, this is the best, most versatile craft book I’ve read lately. The ideas are fresh, easy and Fields reminds us how fun it is to spend time crafting with good friends and of course good food. This is written for teens/young adults but adults will find plenty of projects they will want to do – I did!

Watch for Lazy Crafternoon at your local bookstore or online, it is available on August 1, 2016 but can be pre-ordered now.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: My First Knitting Book – Projects for Beginning Young Knitters

My First Knitting BookMy First Knitting Book

by Hildegarde Deuzo (Author), Marina Orry (Translator)

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

My First Knitting Book features clear, easy to understand instructions for new knitters. There are written instructions, diagrams and pictures to help any type of learner complete over a dozen easy projects. The basic knit and purl stitches as well as increases and decreases are detailed. The importance of gauge, which varies from person to person and is dependent on the type/weight of yarn as well as the size of needled you use is not addressed until the very end of the book. Hopefully readers will not just pick out a project before reading the whole book first.

The project instructions include the yarn type needed, needle size and easy to follow diagrams to complete things like scarves, a pouch and a stuffed owl toy.

This book is appropriate for older children (with help from an adult) to adults, but most of the projects are geared to children and younger teens.

While My First Knitting Book has all the mechanics included, I don’t find this book standing out from most other knitting books for new knitters.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Reviews: All These Perfect Strangers – Truth or Lies? You decide!

all these perfect strangersPenelope (Pen) Sheppard is a lot of things. Honest is not one of them and most importantly I am not sure she is even honest with herself. She shares little bits of herself to the psychiatrist the courts have ordered her to see. Pen shares other bits of herself to her family and smaller bits to her college “friends”. Last of all she parcels out the bits she wants the reader to know in very small increments – often leaving out vital details that we find out in the last few pages.

These bits are what keep the readers interested in the story. She appears to be the victim, falsely accused of crimes she did not commit. But she has personal knowledge of them. Is she making up stories to give the psychiatrist what he wants to hear? Is this personal knowledge or her version of reality? There are tons of questions throughout the book as the reader sees Pen in her current day world and the one that came crashing down a few months previously, after several murders.

The small town Pen grew up in was not as forgiving as the authorities, so when she came back after the trouble at college, most of them didn’t want anything to do with her. She had to come back to see Frank, because her lawyer has arranged for the psychiatrist she worked with in the past to help her work through the terrible injustice that was inflicted on her. The lawyer is requiring a report to “demonstrate her pain and suffering” to support her case against the university. The three years since she has been in Frank’s office have been a short while for him, but a lifetime for Pen.

The rest of the story unfolds as he asks her to bring weekly journal entries to him, telling her side of the events that led her to his door again. Pen is reluctant, but knows it is her only chance of moving on, so she opens her heart up on the pages and her side of the story is finally pouring out of her. But will she actually share all of this with Frank or anyone else?

The truth and lies tangle to tell a story with twists, turns and surprises. If the reader pays attention, Pen tells you that she isn’t exactly telling the whole truth all of the time. Those bits and pieces of truth can lead to assumptions that may or may not be true. You won’t find out until the end. Then you will have the “ah ha!” moment what all great mysteries need to satisfy their readers.

Clifford’s characters are gritty and real. I didn’t always like Pen – but I don’t think I had to in order to enjoy the novel. As a matter of fact, I think not liking her gave me a better perspective of her character.

All These Perfect Strangers is Clifford’s first novel, but she is the author of several award winning short stores.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Random House ChatterBox Monthly Mystery that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: The Crepes of Wrath – A Pancake House Mystery

Crepes of WrathThe Crêpes of Wrath

A Pancake House Mystery

by Sarah Fox

Random House Publishing Group – Alibi

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Marley is no stranger to Wildwood Cove. Her favorite cousin, Jimmy and his wife live there and own a popular breakfast restaurant, The Flipside Pancake House. She hasn’t been in the quaint little town as much as she would have liked since Jimmy’s wife passed away but her job in Seattle kept her away. But Jimmy’s recent bout with pneumonia landed him in the hospital so Marley stepped in to help.

Then the unimaginable happened. Cousin Jimmy died the day he was released from the hospital. Was it a tragic accident or murder? Marley was suspicious as were the local police. Soon foul play was confirmed. But what motive could anyone have to murder a beloved member of the quaint little village? Unfortunately, suspects started coming out of the woodwork.

Could it have been an old love interest of Jimmy’s? Or perhaps someone who wanted to shut down the popular restaurant? Or maybe one of the residents lusted after the beautiful old home on the perfect piece of property he lived in? Or even worse – could Jimmy’s less than legal past have caught up with him and was he the upstanding citizen everyone believed him to be?

Determined to find out what happened to Jimmy and dispel any rumors that were swirling around his death, Marley decides to do a bit of investigating on her own. Between a couple of gentleman friends that have popped up expectantly and the time she is spending at the restaurant that she now is in charge of, she quietly starts probing. Unfortunately, the killer is looking for something that he or she thinks is either in Jimmy’s home or the restaurant. Marley is in the way so will she become the next target?

Sarah Fox’s cozy mystery has all the elements I love. An unlikely detective, a few handsome men and an interesting setting round out a perfect cozy and The Crepes of Wrath has all of them. She also adds a few yummy sounding recipes to the end of the book, which I can’t wait to try. Seriously, who would not love to have Bacon Cheddar Waffles for breakfast on a Sunday Morning?

The Crepes of Wrath is the first in Fox’s Pancake House Mystery Series and the first book I have read by this author. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a cozy mystery. Her other books include three titles in her Music Lover’s Mystery Series. Watch for the release of The Crepes of Wrath on September 20, 2016 or pre-order from Penguin Random House, Amazon, Google Play or Barnes & Nobel. It is a fun, fast cozy mystery perfect for fall.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Small Great Things – Another Fabulous Book by Jodi Picoult

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things

A Novel

by Jodi Picoult

Ruth is the daughter of a housekeeper. When school was out, she and her sister would go with their Mama to the big house. They either stayed quietly in the kitchen while their mother worked or sometimes play with the daughter of the family. On one such day a premature baby shaped the three young girl’s lives. Ruth grew up to become a labor and delivery nurse. But more importantly, it was a moment of perfect harmony between classes and races that Ruth would not see again for many years.

Fast forward from 1976 to current day and we find Ruth still doing what she loves. She helps bring new babies into the world, comforts new parents and even helps ease the unspeakable burden when something goes terribly wrong. Until the fateful day she had to decide between the orders she was given and trying to save a baby’s life. No matter what choice she made it was not going to be right, but she could have never imagined she would have ended up in jail for murder.

Enter Turk. He and his wife are in the hospital for the delivery of their first child. Everything was going great until Ruth came in to check on the newborn and his mother. Turk demanded to see Ruth’s supervisor then insisted Ruth was not to come near his child. For no other reason other than he was a White Supremacist and she is an African American. Did his actions lead to the death of his firstborn.

Kennedy is the public defender that is given the task of sorting the details out to defend Ruth in court. She normally doesn’t take cases of this magnitude, but after the initial court appearance, she is compelled to help Ruth. But can her upper class back ground understand the issues of a black woman and defend her?

Jodi Picoult takes social issues out of the headlines, researches the issues from every side and then researches some more. The facts and interviews are fictionalized, and then put together in a way that leaves each side distinguishable and intact, yet interacting with the other sides. One of my professors in college used to say the United States used to be a melting pot, but was now a tossed salad – with lots of individual parts adding to it each keeping their individuality. Some of the ingredients are sweet, some are sour, and some are unknown until you give them a try. This is how I see Picoult’s characters; they are rich, full and different as day and night but are put together for some reason and have to work it out – much like real life.

I am the first one to say Jodi Picoult is, in my opinion, one of the greatest authors today. I have read almost all of her books. She has made me laugh, cry, or become outraged over the issues her characters faced that often seem so unfair. I can honestly say I have never finished one of her books without talking about it to everyone I know that reads and loaning them out so others will enjoy them also.

On a personal note, I’ve met her at several book signings and book talks. She is as delightful in person as she seems in interviews and online. If you get a chance to go to one of her book talks and signings, please do so.

Small Great Things will be available on October 11, 2016 and you can pre-order it now at your favorite bookstore.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review