Monthly Archives: June 2021

Book Review: The Quest for the Golden Plunger – YA/Teen Adventures

By Jackson Dickert

The Quest for the Golden Plunger is full of sarcasm, innuendos and misfits trying to out scout the other teams. The teens in Troop 99 have an agenda this year. They need to find the Golden Plunger – the prize is an all expense paid trip to the high-adventure camp later that summer. Each Adventure Ranger in Troup 99 wants another week together away from home before life takes them in different directions.

The characters all have nicknames like Ducky, Do-Over, Uncle Ruckus and Shovel to name a few. The usual teenage boy antics occur throughout the book. One of them falls for the nurse, one of the leaders has a bad attitude, there is a bully, smart guy and a younger Ranger who has to learn the ropes. Troop 100 has the precision of a military school along with a superior attitude and ex-military leader.

Life lessons are learned while in the woods. The characters learn who they can depend upon as well as who not to trust. There are a couple of twists in the book. One of which involves a character that basically makes a guest appearance which kind of confused me. The other twist was a surprise. That character added depth to the rest of the book, which I enjoyed.

If you are a fan of Bill Murray’s movies like Caddy Shack and Stripes, this book is for you. Sophomoric comedy with sexual innuendoes and potty humor reign supreme in The Quest for the Golden Plunger. The targeted audience is teen and young adult. I agree, but will caution allowing younger teens to read this as there are adult themes and adult humor liberally sprinkled throughout the story.

This is Jackson Dickert’s debut novel. Per his bio, he likes to make people laugh. Kudos to Mr. Dickert for writing a very funny book.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Essence of Nathan Biddle – Must Read Debut Novel

By J. William Lewis

The Essence of Nathan Biddle is a literary coming of age novel that is destine to be a best seller. It begins with Nathan mourning the death of his cousin on the first anniversary of the event. Seemingly inconceivable to everyone, especially Nathan, that the boy he’d grown up with has been slain. So begins Nathan’s journey through the last of his teenage years, trying to make sense of this senseless act as well as how to move on from the stigma that shrouds his family because of it.

Life goes on no matter what personal problems Nathan is dealing with. He has fallen in love with a girl that once reciprocated his affections, but now she is moving on. He is obsessed with her which begins to color every decision he makes, both good and bad. Once a scholar, his junior year of high school was a disaster. If he doesn’t start working to his potential, college will be questionable at best. He was a track star until he stopped going to practices, prompting the coach to threaten to cut him from the team if he doesn’t get his head straight soon. When tragedy strikes again, Nathan will have to sink or swim in the life he has instead of the life he wants.

It is hard to believe that The Essence of Nathan Biddle is J. William Lewis’ debut novel. It is a beautiful work of fiction with characters that come alive on the pages. From the first pages, the reader is invested in the characters and enthralled with the plot. This is one of those books that keeps you thinking of it long after the last pages are read. I highly recommend it and cannot wait to read the next book written by this author.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond – Iconic Cozy Mystery Series

By Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farey Moran

Jessica Fletcher is excited to visit her dear friend Dolores in South Carolina. What she didn’t bargain for is stumbling upon the body of Dolores’ new husband, Willis, dead in the Koi Pond. Sheriff Halvorson is quick to target Dolores as the killer, which Jessica isn’t having any part of. She begins to investigate, immediately discovering a long list of people that hated the victim. In order to clear her friend from suspicion, Jessica sets out to find the real killer.

Willis held many secrets, and used them to get what he wanted from his friends and business associates. Jessica and Dolores begin looking through his business and personal files, peeling back the layers to find a motive for his murder. Unfortunately, the list of suspects keeps growing, and the stakes of finding the killer are getting higher every day.

This cozy mystery series is as delightful as the popular television series of the same name. It is true to form for the cozy mystery genre. The murder is done “off stage” and found by Jessica Fletcher. She begins sleuthing when her friend is in trouble. There are several suspects, and the end is always tied up neatly.

It is fun to read as well as trying to figure out the identity of the killer and his or her motive before the reveal in the final chapters. If you are a fan of the television series, like me, you may just hear Angela Lansbury’s voice in your head when reading Jessica’s conversations.

Killing in a Koi Pond is not Shakespeare, nor are is intended to be. It is a perfect cozy, containing one of the most iconic amateur sleuths ever immortalized in print. The solid plot and engaging characters are satisfying and entertaining. I highly recommend it.

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. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: By the Way – Eclectic Short Story Compilation – Loved it!

By: Caperton Tissot

Caperton Tissot gives readers an interestingly eclectic mix of topics in her latest book of short stories. Each one is unique, fun to read and often shows us glimpses of real people we have encountered or perhaps we are related to.

There are seventeen stories just waiting to be read. It is hard to pick a favorite because I enjoyed them all. I will pick a few of them that really stand out and give you a quick, one line review of each.

“Pea Soup”: This story has a quirky end that made me laugh – I enjoy dark humor.

“Rose Hall”: Set in 1935, the author reminds us that the good old days may not have been so good.

“Beauty and the Frog”: Some people never learn.

“Out of Bounds”: A little excitement can cause a lot of trouble.

“Slip Sliding Away”: It reminds us that there are precious things in life that often are overlooked in the frenzy. This is my favorite story in the book, I really loved it.

I personally love to read books of short stories. Life is busy for many, and to be able to read a long book is often difficult due to everyday interruptions. By the Way is perfect little snippets of life that you can read while waiting in a car pool lane or during the baby’s nap. My favorite escape is reading during lunch either at work or home. Finishing a complete story is satisfying and relaxing and gives you something to think and talk about the rest of the day.

This is the first book I have read by Ms. Tissot. She has written several others that I am interested in reading as well. Her other books include essays, history, poetry and fiction.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Cannabis for Seniors

By Beverly A. Potter PH.D.

Would it surprise you to learn “…people ages 55 and older are now the fastest-growing demographic of pot users in the country?”. Or that several conditions of aging can be treated with medical marijuana in place of opioids?  Cannabis is rapidly becoming a viable option to treat chronic conditions in senior citizens.

Cannabis for Seniors is a fascinating look at pain relief that is not addictive – unlike opioids. Ms. Potter states that “The Risk of dependency (of opioids) is virtually 100%”. The author contends that “pharmaceutical does not “cure” the distress, but rather masks it”. Sadly, many seniors live with constant pain and the only solution up until now may have been pharmaceutical – but that is rapidly changing.

There has been a steady reduction of opioid use in states with legalized marijuana. Per the Health Affairs Journal: “…$165 million reduction in annual Medicare spending on drugs for which marijuana could be a substitute ”. Another interesting statistic comes from the JAMA Internal Medicine study that “saw a 25 percent reduction in overdoses from painkillers in states with legalized marijuana.” Personally, I feel the research sees it a viable option that cannot be taken lightly and should be considered if you or someone you love has to deal with chronic pain. Additionally, cannabis has also shown “promise in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease” as it promotes the removal of plaque in the brain.

The title page of this book states that it is not “medical advice” and “Readers should discuss issues raised in this book with their personal physician…”. I agree wholeheartedly. But I seriously feel it is a book that any senior who has chronic pain issues should read and consider the possibility of using cannabis for relief. It is informative and offers an alternative to opioids, and as we all know many states have legalized marijuana. If your doctor feels it is a viable option, it is really important to do your own research as well, to see if it is right for you. “Cannabis For Seniors” is a great way to start.

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. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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