Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: In A Holidaze – Funny, Sexy and Heartwarming – I loved this book

In A Holidaze

By Christina Lauren

For as long as she could remember, Maelyn Jones has celebrated Christmas with her family and close family friends in a snowy mountain cabin in Salt Lake. Many things have changed over the years, but the constant in Mae’s life is the week with everyone together each December – that is until this year. The devastating news that the cabin is going to be sold is bad enough, but on the way to the airport, Mae and her family are in a serious car crash – but did it really happen?

Waking up on the plane after the car crash, Mea is confused. Her family tells her that they are on the way to Salt Lake, not on the way home and there was no accident. Mea knows better – she knows the details of the week, including a hookup with one of the guys she now regrets. Just like the funny movie Groundhog Day, she has to redo the week – this time hopefully getting it right. Everyone thinks there is something wrong with her except Benny, a college friend of her parents. He believes Mea but tells her she has to figure it out herself in order to stop the time traveling loop she seems to be caught in.

In A Holidaze is cute, funny, sexy and has a satisfying end. All of the characters are developed with interesting backstories binding them all together since the parents of Mae and her contemporaries met in college. Marriages, divorce and children have not stopped them from celebrating the holidays together each year. They are perfectly suited for a Christmas story. Mae is at a crossroad in her life and the author allows her to flounder as she learns the important lesson of growth and stepping out of the shadow of others to become the person she wants to be.

I love all things Christmas. I could picture this as a blockbuster Christmas movie – but be sure to read the book first, the book is ALWAYS better! This is the first book I have read by the dynamic duo of Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs – who write under the pseudonym Christina Lauren. These best-selling authors have a long list of books just waiting for you to discover.

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 © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Origami Animals – Fun for Kids and Adults

Origami Animals

By Dover Publications

Origami Animals features twenty designs, eight of which are easy to make. If you are an expert or new to Origami you will enjoy this book. From kittens to caterpillars the step-by-step instructions will help you fold the included origami paper into over a hundred animals.

After you get comfortable with the folds and following the directions, there are more complex animals to create. Turtles, owls and even a crab will delight your children after following a few simple steps.

The book also included 200 sheets of origami paper, cut to the exact size needed. Rich solid colors as well as beautiful floral and geometric designs are included. One of my favorites is a butterfly/floral pattern that would be lovely made into a butterfly.

I recommend this book for novice folders. Children could easily learn to create the easier animals, perhaps with a little guidance from an adult until they get comfortable making the folds.

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

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Somebody Else’s Troubles – Must Read Literary Fiction

Somebody Else’s Troubles

By J. A. English

 

Travers Landeman is not a happy man. He has always done what is right, often at the expense of his own peace of mind and happiness. On the day he decides to disappear he doesn’t hesitate or have regrets about leaving. He does have regrets for some of the choices he made in life. Guilt can be overwhelming and is one of the demons that haunts him. Becoming a man of action instead of reaction was not an easy journey, but he is willing to take the first step. While most of the people in his former life don’t really care that he is gone, there is one man that is determined to find him. If he succeeds, this could ruin the new life that Travers has created.

On the tiny island of Mabuhay, he meets Marguerite. She spent time in the United States going to school and learning how cruel life can be. She does not talk about what happened, but does not trust white men.

Somebody Else’s Troubles is interesting and complicated. Amidst self-loathing and regret, peace is found by forgiveness and love. It is easy to read but hard to forget. J. A. English brings his characters into controversial situations, then shows the consequences of how they deal with them. He makes the reader think about situations they may have encountered or will encounter; he brings a realism into the story that will resonate with readers on a deep level. This is the best work of literary fiction I have read in years, I loved it.

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 © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The 9 Ghosts of Samen’s Bane – Fast Paced Fright

The 9 Ghosts of Samen’s Bane

By D. A. Schneider

Mild mannered Adrian Dillard decides to join a venture to revitalize passenger train travel at the suggestion of a good friend and entrepreneur. Everything seems to be going well until a tragically fateful night leaves over a hundred people dead and Adrian becomes a vessel for 9 young ghosts. The dead kids have a mission to complete, but need the help of a person who is still alive to carry it out. Adrian is hesitant and afraid, but he is more afraid of what the spirits that inhabit his body will do to his pregnant wife and young son if he does not do what they ask.

They come to him in dreams at first, but soon they manifest themselves to explain how they need Adrian to vanquish their evil enemy – Samen. Appalled at the thought that he has to play a part in an epic battle of good and evil, Adrian resists. He defends his reluctance by reminding the 9 that he is a mere mortal, unequipped for a showdown with the devil. They quickly assure him that they each have supernatural powers that they can teach him use to vanquish their enemy. Even though he is scared silly, he has to try. So begins his transformation from dad to demon hunter.

This is not your classic story of good and evil. First of all, kids are in charge of the plan to eliminate Samen. Granted they have super powers, but they are still unruly children at times. Adrian is the perfect choice to go from zero to hero because he has a lot at stake. Unfortunately, his reluctance and gentle nature make him an unlikely savior. The deeper he gets involved with the 9, the more questions he has. His intuition is telling him that they are hiding something from him. Little things begin to not add up, especially when he does a little investigating on his own. Will this get him killed? He doesn’t know, but what will happen to the world if he doesn’t at least try?

The 9 Ghosts of Samen’s Bane is fast-paced, unpredictable and an absolute hoot to read. Of course, there are dead people milling about, and there is a force that is trying to end mankind.  There is also humor in the juxtaposition of Adrian battling with dead people during the night and going Christmas shopping at the mall with his family.

If you are a fan of Christopher Moore, you will love this book. This is the first book I have read by Schneider, but will not be the last. Luckily, he is a prolific writer, so he has a list of books just waiting for me – and you – to discover.

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 © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Making Christmas Bright With Papercrafts : Inexpensive and Adorable

Making Christmas Bright with Papercrafts

More than 40 Festive Projects

By Alice Hornecke /Dominik Meibner/Sabine Seyffert

Bring Christmas cheer to your home with these beautiful papercrafts. From decorating your home to entertaining guests and gifts for loved ones, Making Christmas Bright with Papercrafts. A little bit origami and a little bit of stencil work along with craft paper, scissors and glue you will be ready to dive in to create over 40 craft projects.

The designs are different levels. You can fold an adorable Christmas tree from plain green napkins for your holiday table for pennies. Maybe you would like to create pretty packages to hold yummy Christmas cookies out of craft or corrugated paper.

Christmas on a budget is easily achieved by creating decorations, gifts and advent calendars. Make your own Christmas cards, bows for gifts and wreaths. Because there are over 40 projects, there is something for everyone at every skill level. Many of the projects can be completed by children with help from an adult or older child.

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

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Cats – The Purr-fect Christmas Gift

Christmas Cats

More than 40 Festive Projects

By Marjorie Sarnat

Christmas and cats go hand in hand. Marjorie Sarnat has created 31 beautifully intricate designs for you to color. Bring the Christmas spirit into your home by coloring these amusing and adorable Christmas designs.

There is an adorable pair of cats ice skating on a starry night and a tangle of little kittens on a page of lost mittens. Kissing cats under the mistletoe and cats with teddy bears, a cat that cooks and caroling cats are waiting to become the one you choose to color first.

The designs are complex with many small areas. I suggest adults or older children with the dexterity and patience to color the small spaces are best suited for Christmas Cats. Perhaps you have a cat lover on your Christmas list that this book would be purr-fect for. I know I do!

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

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Quiet Screams to the Quiet Healer – Fascinating Debut Novel

Quiet Screams to the Quiet Healer

By Nilanjana Haldar

This is the story of Sanjana, told from her point of view. She grows from a frightened school girl listening to her father abuse her mother to a confident young woman. Now a doctor, she becomes part of a secret society formed to heal and help others being abused, as well as those with mental health problems, bolstering them by sharing her strength and experiences.

Her journey begins like many others living with daily abuse, but brings a bright ray of hope that life can and will change if you take steps to do so. She discovers there is forgiveness in cleansing, which changes her life as well as many others.

Her life intertwines with a mysterious man that seems to be available to help whenever she is in need, but disappears from her life as soon as she is safe. Other connections and some mystical events by seemingly ordinary people will intrigue the reader until the very last pages when all is explained.

The novel is set in India and it has a different cadence than most books written in English. But that being said, it is not difficult to read, nor is it confusing. I liken it to speaking to someone who knows English perfectly as a second language and often adds bits of their native tongue into the dialog. I have a dear friend from Pakistan whose voice I heard in my head when some of the characters spoke. I was thoroughly engaged with the plot and characters from start to finish.

Ms. Haldar is a doctor and motivational speaker as well as an author and poet. This is her debut book. The pain both physically and mentally was gripping and unnervingly real for the characters and reader. The underlying story of strength, courage and transformation of the characters to strong, healthy individuals is heartwarming and uplifting. This novel  contains graphic incidences of abuse.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Jane Austen Embroidery – Fascinating History, Beautiful Stitching

Jane Austen Embroidery

Regency Patterns Reimagined for Modern Stitchers

By Jennie Batchelor & Alison Larking

When you hear the name Jane Austen, of course you think of her as the famous author. But Jane Austen Embroidery will add a depth to Ms. Austen that most people are unfamiliar with. Per all accounts she was an accomplished embroiderer and truly took great joy and pride in the beautiful and utilitarian items she stitched. Items she created are currently housed at the Jane Austen’s House Museum, on display for all to see.

The main source for patterns back in Ms. Austen’s time was various women’s magazines. Included in this very book are 15 patterns that appeared in Lady’s Magazine from the 1770’s to 1810. Perhaps Jane herself stitched one of them and now you create them as well.

The authors have added a section on tools and resources for traditional embroidery. While it is different from most modern items embroidered, the basic stitches are the same. If you have embroidered before using the counted cross stitch method or a stamped image you should be able to jump right in and begin. Diagrams, pictures and step-by-step instructions will have you stitching in no time.

From start to finish this is a fascinating book about Ms. Austen and one of her favorite past times. It is a given that there are lovely items to create with easy to read tips and directions that will ensure your success. And on a history level, it is truly a fascinating read. I will look at Ms. Austen differently now. She is not just one of the most revered authors of all time, but a skilled embroiderer as well, taking as much pride in her stitches as she did with her words in Pride and Prejudice.  

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

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Shawls Wraps and Scarves – 21 Elegant & Graceful Hand-Knit Patterns

Shawls Wraps and Scarves

21 Elegant & Graceful Hand-Knit Patterns

By Louisa Harding

Knitting a hand-knit shawl, wrap or scarf is like giving a hug to the lucky person you are making it for every time they wrap it around their shoulders. The patterns in Shawls, Wraps and Scarves have been lovingly been created to highlight stitches, yarns and color. Harding draws upon her photographs and memories to bring these works of art to knitters of all skill levels.

With full page color photos as well as the finished dimensions, type and amount of yarn needed, “needles and notions” and gauge. She also adds notes such as “I suggest using a circular needle” and “I have used markers every 20 stitches because this will help keep track of short row shaping”. As a knitter these comments are highly valued.

If you want a quick and easy shawl, try “Lark’s Alvina”, the pointed castoff elevates a simple shawl to stunning. “Evanthe” has delicate beads worked into the fabric for a bit of unexpected wow. Want to play with colorwork? “Raizel” uses two colors to create a pretty paisley wrap. I honestly could go on, telling you the highlights of each of the 21 patterns, each one beautiful and unique in its own way.

I highly recommend this book for knitters both beginning and seasoned. The instructions are clearly written and easy to follow. Patterns that need them also have charts for you as well as the written instructions. The back of the book has a section with abbreviations and a glossary, general information, yarn information and some information about the author that cannot be missed.

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

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

 

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Book Review: Printmaking – How to Print Anything on Everything

Printmaking

How to Print Anything on Everything

By Christine Medley

Printmaking may not be a hobby you have considered, but this book might just change your mind. The how’s, whys and supplies are clearly outlined. Using beautiful color pictures among the step-by-step instructions will have you starting a new craft that will soon be your favorite.

Beginning by showing the reader the 4 types of printmaking, as well as plate types (blocks, stamps, found objects) your interest will be stirred and creativity will be awakened. On to cutting tools for carving designs and actual printing you will start to imagine the personalized cards, pictures and gifts you will be able to make.

But hold yourself back until you read the chapters on ink, paper, cleanup as well as design and production. I often get excited and want to jump in with both feet, but printmaking does take a bit of precision that is best taken on after reading the entire book before starting. That doesn’t mean you can’t jot down some ideas and notes for when you start.

Printmaking, How to Print Anything on Everything, is written for adults, not children. The tools needed as well as the various inks and precision needed requires adult supervision at the least if you choose to have your children help.

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

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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