Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Hello, Transcriber – Must Read Debut Suspense

By Hannah Morrissey

Black Harbor is a crime riddled city that people run away from, not to. Hazel Greenlee has moved there with her husband Tommy, because he found a job there. He hunts for their food and seems overly fond of the guns he keeps around the house. Hazel has aspirations to be an author. She finds a job as a transcriber for the local police force, giving her fodder for the book she is writing.

Hazel is an amazing typist, and doesn’t mind working the night shift. When a young boy is killed during her shift, things change drastically for her. She might know who the killer is, but cannot tell anyone. The detective in charge, Nikolai Kole, sends his report to Hazel. With his voice talking in her ear, she transcribes the events, fearing her involvement by withholding evidence, yet intrigued by the sound of Kole’s voice.

Strangely enough, Kole visits her during the long night. This is the beginning of something between them that is more than inappropriate. Hazel fears her attraction will be discovered by her husband. She also fears the repercussions for not sharing her suspicions about the killer with Kole.

This deliciously dark suspense novel is full of twists and turns. The characters are fully developed and most of them have their own agenda that will stop at nothing to attain their goals.

Hello, Transcriber is Hannah Morrissey’s debut novel. Her previous job as a police transcriber and being the wife of a police officer, brings first-hand knowledge to creating her characters. I highly recommend this fast-paced suspense novel. I cannot wait to see what she writes in the future.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, books, debut novel, fiction, Suspense

Book Review: The Rusted Dream – A Fast-Paced Thriller

The Rusted Dream (Dr. Dan Trix Mystery Series #11)

By: Rodney Romig

Dr. Dan Trix and his lovely wife Elaine live in a posh neighborhood known as Naughty Pines. This country club community enables the Trix family to rub elbows of the elite bunch that like to drop by and drink his expensive wines. But the visitor today is more surprising than most of his guests. It is Pamela, his ex-wife. She has a problem.

It seems as though her husband, Bronco J, is missing. It is not like him to disappear and Pamela is worried. He is a wealthy man, so anyone could be after him, but his investment in a private college must be linked somehow. Especially since other investors have turned up dead.

Pamela obviously needs protection. So Trix and his sidekick Lester Ponzolli – whom he met while serving in the Army – are on the hunt for Bronco J. Meanwhile, Elaine and Pamela bone up on their martial arts training, after someone attacked the two women when they were alone in the house. The hunt for Bronco J is far flung, requiring trips both in and out of the United States. It is a race to see if the good guys or the bad guys will get to Bronco J first – peppered with the pitfalls of surprise attacks by the men who want to see Bronco J and possibly Ponzolli and Trix dead.

To say this book was fast-paced would be an understatement. Fast-talking, fast moving and exhausting action defines this page-turning mystery. The characters are clever, quirky and gave me a long list of fabulous wines that are, if they are not fictional, most likely out of my price range.

At times the dialog was so prolific, it read like a screen-play instead of a novel. That doesn’t bother me in small doses, but I needed more meat with details of the story than pages of witty banter. When there was action, it was explosive, but I wanted more. I feel readers need to digest what is happening rather than flip pages at a breakneck pace while the characters amuse themselves with inside jokes. Perhaps it is because this is book 11 in the series and not having read the previous 10, I might feel differently – which isn’t the author’s fault.

This is the first book I have read by Rodney Romig. He has led a global life. After his graduation in Nebraska, armed with a B. A. in English and a Ph.D. in Economics, he lived and worked in Asia and Europe, then landed in Hawaii. His knowledge of the world shines through his characters as they travel on their adventures. Roming’s novel Lakeside was chosen as the 2013 Royal Palm Award winner for best published literary novel. If you love fast talking, fast paced novels, The Rusted Dream is definitely the book for you.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, bookreviews, books, fiction, Mystery, Wine

Book Review: Recipe for Disaster – Must Read Middle Grade Fiction – Even If You Are an Adult

Recipe for Disaster
by Aimee Lucido

Twelve-year-old Hannah Malfa-Adler has been cooking with her Grandma Mimi for as long as she can remember. Life is getting more complicated for Hannah now that she is twelve. Her best friend, Shira is studying for her bat mitzvah. While Hannah is excited for her bestie, she is a little bit jealous. Grandma Mimi is Jewish, which makes her mother Jewish – thereby Hannah is as well. But is Hannah really Jewish if she doesn’t practice her religion? In their house the only person that practices Judaism is Grandma.

Everything was going along well, until Shira made a decision at her bat mitzvah party to dance with a boy she liked instead of the “best friend dance” she and Hannah discussed for weeks before the event. Hurt and jealous, Hannah proclaims she will be having the next bat mitzvah to her friends. Which is pretty unlikely because her mother refuses to have any association with her Jewish heritage. Grandma has a plan that may help Hannah, but is a secret until the time is right to tell Hannah’s mom.

Hannah’s teenage angst is portrayed beautifully. She is in turmoil in many aspects of her life. Religion, losing her best friend, finding a new friend that is edgy and the relationship with her parents all factor into her actions and thoughts. Her family isn’t the best support system at this very moment. First of all, her older brother wants to become a chef, much to the disdain of their father. The tension in their home is buffered with Grandma’s wise advice and delicious family recipes (which are included in the book).

This book is teenage reality wrapped in love. Middle school is not easy. Author Aimee Lucido does not sugar coat the situations Hannah finds herself in the middle of. But Lucido leads readers on a path that shows family and friends will disagree, but things will work out. Sometimes with surprising results.

This is the first book I have read by Aimee Lucido. It is the second book she has written, the first being Emmy In The Key of Code. I look forward to reading it as well as others she will write in the future. She just might be the Beverly Cleary of this generation.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, books, cooking, family, recipes

Book Review: Death by Beach Read

Death By Beach Read

by Eva Gates

A Lighthouse Library Mystery

Lucy loves being the librarian in the historic Bodie Island Lighthouse Library. So much so, she used to live in it. That was before she became engaged to Connor, the local mayor. They find a fabulous historic home on the beach that needs a bit – most likely a lot – of work to bring it back to the beautiful beach home it once was. Luckily, Connor and his father are doing most of the work, but living in a construction zone is difficult for the couple as well as Charles the cat. He is actually the library’s cat and was named appropriately for Charles Dickens. He travels with Lucy to and from the library each day.

While Connor was away for business, Lucy was awakened by what sounded like someone walking in their home. Charles was also aware that something or somebody had invaded their space. Lucy didn’t say anything to Charles, thinking she must have been hearing things outside. But soon, it became apparent that someone was trying to scare them – or more sinister – kill them.

Delving into the history of the home, they found interesting facts and folklore including rumors of a resident ghost. Could someone be looking for hidden treasure long forgotten? Could the incidents be personal attacks on Lucy and Connor? Legends and larceny may be teaming up creating a catalyst for disaster.

This is the 9th book in the Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates. It is the first one in the series I have read, but was not confused by reading it out of order. The characters are interesting and fully developed. Some I loved and some I loved to hate. Like all cozy mysteries, there is a happy ending. It is an interesting and easy read with likable main characters and a persnickety cat that has a realistic attitude. He lends a paw when needed. 

Eva Gates is one of the pen names of Vicki Delany. She resides in Canada and is an award-winning mystery novelist. I highly recommend Death by Beach Read and will be checking out the other books in her series.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, books, cozy mystery, fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Striking Range – Page Turning Mystery

Striking Range

A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery

By Margaret Mizushima

Deputy Mattie Cobb is finally going to get answers from the man in prison that is responsible for the death of her father. Upon arrival at Colorado state prison, the closure she needs is ripped from underneath her as the killer is found dead in his cell. The only clue she has is a map that is discovered in the dead man’s sparce belongings. Hopefully the answers she seeks will be brought to light.

With the help of her canine partner, Robo, she will be part of the search team looking for evidence in the long-ago crime. The weather is against them but even worse, something sinister awaits them on Redstone Ridge. When Cole, the local veterinarian who is Mattie’s boyfriend goes missing in a storm, Mattie is determined to find him at any cost. Unfortunately, that means putting herself and her beloved dog in grave danger.

Striking Range is the sixth book in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series. I have been fortunate enough to read every book in the series and I have loved each and every one of them. The characters are fully developed and the plots are solid. It is interesting to learn about K-9 dogs, how they train and work. The added storyline of Cole’s vet practice also adds depth to the novel. This particularly comes to light in the latest book because Robo becomes a father.

I highly recommend Striking Range as well as the rest of this series. The plots are solid, the characters interesting and the action is page-turning. Each of the books in this series is written as a stand-along novel, so you can read them in any order. I enjoyed each of them, especially the ending of Striking Range – but I’m not telling you what happens – that is for you to discover when you read it.

Margaret Mizushima is an award-winning author – she was awarded the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers of America. Her award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries are internationally published, which is no surprise to her fans. The realism in her writing comes from her own experiences. She is married to a veterinarian and was raised on cattle ranches in Colorado and Texas.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review