Monthly Archives: June 2018

Book Review: Jar of Hearts – Nail Biting Page Turning Thriller – Read the First 3 Chapters Now

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

What would you do for love? Teenagers often think they have the world by the tail and are invincible. Unfortunately, due to lack of world experience they may choose the wrong crowd to hang out with, the wrong boyfriend or get themselves into a situation that will most likely have dire repercussions on the rest of their lives. But most of them don’t end up dead or in prison like Geo.

Jar of Hearts begins with the trial of a woman who seemed to have it all. A fabulous job and a huge diamond on her finger from a wealthy man. Unfortunately she also has a past with a connection to a serial killer that will take everything away she has worked so hard to get. Georgina Shaw sits listening to the horrific events of her best friend’s death fourteen years ago with her head down. Her ex-boyfriend, now commonly known as the Sweetbay Strangler, is on trial for the murder of her best friend Angela Wong and Georgina (Geo) is just as guilty. She’ll take a plea, go to prison and send Calvin James, the Sweetbay Strangler, to jail with her testimony.

But what really happened that night? Was Geo so involved with James she would have been a party to murdering the girl that had been her best friend? Why did she cover it up all of these years? What kind of monster kills her best friend and goes about her business day after day knowing where the body is buried while the entire community searches for years? When did she cross the line – or did she?

When she is released from prison, Geo harbors many secrets. Someone may kill her to keep those secrets buried in the past. Her other bestie from high school has become a cop. He seems to be around more than necessary, seemingly ready to pounce at the slightest infraction. To add to Geo’s stress and isolation, the Sweetbay Strangler has escaped from prison – will Geo be his next target?

Hillier’s latest psychological thriller is a tightly woven story of love and betrayal, the hunted and hunters. By covering up a horrific murder, the characters would seem to be contemptable, but all of them are not. They are masterfully created as someone you would have coffee with, sit in meetings at work with and invite over for dinner. That is what makes Jar of Hearts such a superb story. Evil lurks closer than you can imagine in everyday life. We can only hope it only touches us via engrossing psychological thrillers like this.

The publishers have graciously sent this link for you to read the first three chapters of Jar of Hearts now. I suspect you will be hooked by the first chapter and immediately need to finish – I was. Follow the link below:


Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman




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Book Review: Celtic Knotwork and Stone Painting – Double Giveaway

Thanks to Dover Books, I have two fabulous craft books to give away to two lucky winners!


The first, Creating Celtic Knotwork, A Fresh Approach to Traditional Design by Cari Buziak, allows novice artists to create professional results with beautiful Celtic designs. With beautiful graphics and easy, step by step instructions, the author walks you through basic designs that can be used as beautiful boarders on cards then, by the end of the book, you will be learning to create amazing works of art.

I cannot draw a convincing stick figure, but found this fabulous book allowing  to stretch my artistic wings and if not fly quite yet,  with the easy, set by step instructions allowing me to create what I could never have done before. The materials needed are inexpensive and easily found, most of you probably have them in a drawer someplace at home. If you ever wanted to become an artist, but need a bit more structure than freehand art,  you will love the designs Buziak helps you create.

The second book in the Dover giveaway, is Stone Painting for Kids, Designs to Spark Your Creativity by F. Sehnaz Bac. What kid doesn’t like rocks and paint? This is a match made in heaven. And what parent or caregiver finds themselves listening to “I’m bored, I don’t have anything to do” as summer rolls around? This wonderful book of ideas can be your answer!

First, rock collecting is fun. Go to the park, take a walk, look in your backyard. Let’s face it, rocks are everywhere and kids love to collect them. Okay, you can cheat and buy some rocks, but in my house, collecting them would have been at least half of the fun. Then your youngsters get to wash the rocks. I know, a bucket of water and soap is a bit messy, but on a hot summer day, put the kids in their swimming suits and let them wash the rocks they’ve collected. Now, give them a frozen treat while the rocks dry in the sun for a whole day. Unless it is really hot and sunny out, then a few hours should do it.

Now you are ready for paints. You can paint anything on your rocks. Make butterflies, people, animals, numbers…the ideas are endless. If you need inspiration, there are many designs in Stone Painting for Kids that you and your kids can easily recreate.



It is hard to choose because there are so many great ideas in this book, you can tell by looking at the table of contents!



Here are are few of my favorites:

Create two of each and you can make a memory game with your kids – they will love playing a game they created themselves. If you have several children, they can each make two or three matching rock paintings and you will have enough for the game.


If you collected sea shells on vacation this year, your kids will love to create fish colorful fish!




I could go on all day about these two great books, but I bet you would like to know how to win one of them! To have a chance in the random drawing to be held on June 29, 2018 you just need to like this post on FB, Twitter or Goodreads. You will get an additional 5 entries if you leave a comment on the post on my blog, When the winner is drawn, I will send both winners my email address so that you can privately send your mailing address. (The prizes are limited to the U.S. only). Good Luck!!

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Book Review: Buried in Books – 12th Bibliophile Mystery Must Read for Cozy Lovers

Buried in Books

By Kate Carlisle

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Rare book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright has it all together. She is a renowned bookbinder/restorer and has a wonderful fiancé, security expert Derek Stone, whom she is set to marry in a few days. She is so confident that all of the wedding plans are on track, she agrees to not only attend the annual book conference, but will be teaching a group how to create a book as well as give a tour of literary highlights for charity.

Things start to go a bit strange when she realizes some of the booklovers that have signed up for her class and tour are dying to hear about the dead bodies she has stumbled upon in the past. They seem to be encouraged by comments made by her well-meaning mother and future mother-in-law. Brooklyn loves these two ladies, and tries to discourage the conversation, but her attempts to bring things back to books seem futile with this group.

The two moms have another surprise up their sleeves. Brooklyn is shanghaied into attending a surprise wedding shower. But the bigger surprise is seeing her two former best friends Sara and Heather. The trio split company after Sara stole Heather’s boyfriend. The feud has not ended, but both are somehow there in the same room. And both brought beautiful copies of rare books for gifts. But one of the books could be a fake and one of the women will not survive the night.

Brooklyn didn’t plan to solve a murder hours before her wedding, but she cannot ignore the fact that one of her besties from college is dead and the clue to finding out who did it may be in her possession.

This cozy mystery brings the best of the genre to light. Engaging characters, a quirky murder and a solid plot that teaches the reader a thing or two about book restoration are all wrapped up in a page-turning story. It was fun and had a nice twist at the end. Every element of this book works so well together it is not surprising that readers love this series.

Buried in Books is the twelfth Bibliophile Mystery written by award winning author Kate Carlisle. She is a NY Times best-selling author for good reason. In addition to this book series, she is the author of the Fixer Upper Mystery Series also. The latter series has moved to television and is now part of the Hallmark Mysteries Movies.

This is the first book I have read by Carlisle, but it works well as a stand-alone. I was not confused or lost at any point. I will go back and check out more of her books because her writing style is easy and informative, not to mention fun to read.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman


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Book Review: Safe Houses – Page-turning Thriller!

Safe Houses

By Dan Fesperman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Berlin 1979:  a city full of spies and counterspies. Espionage was dangerous and involved many ordinary people. Helen was one of them. Even though her job was not one of the highest risk, she knew secrets that could come back to haunt her at any time. Today she would be called a feminist, but in 1979 she was removed from her assignment and dismissed from the agency. She thought being sent back to the states was the worst thing that could happen to her, but she was wrong.

August 2014: fast forward to a tiny town in rural Maryland. Willard Shoat shoots and kills his parents as they slept causing uproar in the close knit community. Willard is slow by any man’s definition, but he has never been violent or mean. Sadly, he doesn’t even realize his mother and father are dead or why he is sitting in a jail cell. Anna, his sister, arrives in town to bury her parents and tend to her brother, but is perplexed as to how someone that just wants her to bring his Star War toy to prison could kill their parents in cold blood. She fears he will be lost in the prison system and calls upon a stranger in town to help her find answers.

Anna enlists the new guy in town, Henry Mattick, to help her find out the truth. It is rumored he is a PI, which may or may not be exactly true. That being said, he is already on an undercover job and doesn’t really want to become involved with a local fiasco. But something about Anna makes him more than curious about her family. They become an unlikely duo fighting for a small guy in a huge mess. Secrets from the past are revealed, shedding light upon some very dangerous characters that operate outside of the law with the protection of the government. Mr. and Mrs. Shoat may not be the only casualties by the time this fast-paced novel ends.

Safe Houses is a heart pounding, breath holding thriller wrapped in intrigue and intelligence. Fesperman’s masterfully blends two stories together to make a powerful book that kept me turning pages late into the night. This is the first book by Dan Fesperman I have read, I don’t know how he was not on my radar because Safe House is his eleventh novel. I am putting the other ten on my Christmas list.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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