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Book Review: Tin Badges – Fast Paced Page Turner

Tin Badges

By Lorenzo Carcaterra

New York City detectives Tank Rizzo and Pearl Monroe carried a gold badge up until the fateful day when both of them lost their jobs. But Pearl lost so much more. Now both of them hold a tin badge, one that has few privileges of their former life, but it does open some doors. The duo works cold cases that the NYPD doesn’t have time to investigate thanks to the Chief of Police that has a soft spot for both of them.

When the case involving a couple of young women, who are beaten and sexually abused is tossed their way, it is so cold they might need gloves to hold it. No one has worked it for a while because the ladies are most likely hookers and no one really seems to care. Tank and Pearl dig into the case with the help of their brilliant, yet ragtag group. They discover the assault is just the tip of the iceberg. One that is full of drugs, murders and gangs that the two with tin badges are determined to bring to justice.

As if Tank doesn’t have enough on his plate, the brother that he hasn’t spoken with in years dies in an icy car accident along with his wife. This leaves his now orphaned teenage nephew, Chris, living with him in his NY brownstone. Chris is smart, mad at the world and crushed that his parents are gone; leaving him with the only family he has but doesn’t know. Tank loved his brother and willingly takes in Chris. Now he has to keep his nephew safe while working the case, which isn’t going to be easy. Chris is a crime buff and wants to be part of the team that takes the bad guys down and the good news/bad news is he is an expert at finding information that Tank and his team needs.

This fasted paced novel has page-turning action and is filled with the passion the characters have for their jobs, families and friends. Tank is the perfect leading man in the group of brilliant but ragtag crime solvers. His connections to the NYPD and old mobsters create a cast that entertains readers from the first page to the last. His love of NY City is evident as the story unfolds and the secret he holds close to his heart kept me guessing throughout the story.

Carcaterra is a Native New Yorker. A writer for over twenty years, he is a NY Times number one bestselling author. The prolific author has written several books, one of which, Sleepers, was adapted as a film in 1996 of the same name. I can’t wait to read some of his other books. Hopefully there will be a sequel to Tin Badges or better yet, a series with these interesting, complex characters. If you are a fan of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme or Patterson’s Alex Cross, you will love Tin Badges.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Reviews: Game On! Fun Word Games for Kids

3.12.19Game On! More Awesome Activities for Clever Kids

By: Patrick Merrell

Over 100 pages of learning fun awaits the children that grab a pencil and open this book. Game On! Is a compilation of all types of wordy games and puzzles to challenge and delight the young people in your lives. It includes crossword puzzles, mazes, brainteasers, hidden puzzles and much, much more.

Colorful illustrations and the variety of activities encourage kids to see which type of puzzles they choose first. This type of book lends itself to be browsed through and completed in any order. Maybe your child is the type to want to do the pages in order, maybe not. Either way it is his or her choice.

This would not be appropriate for children that are too young to read and spell. But it is absolutely perfect for the 8 to 10 year-old age group. I suggest taking this on a road trip. You only need a pencil and eraser and your child will have hours of entertainment that doesn’t require headphones or a battery.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Glitter Bomb – Cute Crafty Cozy Mystery

9-25-18

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.

Carmela is crazy busy at Memory Mine, her scrapbooking and graphic design business. Everything is hopping with all of the Mardi Gras hoopla going on. But she is not all business; in fact, she and her bestie Ava are front and center for the Pluvius parade, known for fabulous floats created by “krewes” that have been together for years. This year’s overall theme is “Spirits of the Sea”.

As the crowd swells, beads are thrown and bands blare. Everyone is having a great time until one of the floats begins to wobble, then rumble, and then explodes spewing an eruption of glitter and krewe members into the crowd, one of whom is Carmela’s ex-husband Shamus. Carmela and Ava have a front row seat, and are first to get to the man most seriously injured. The EMTs arrive, but to no avail. Hughes Wilder is dead.

Was this a tragic accident or murder? Carmela’s sort of fiancé, Detective Edgar Babcock, arrives at the scene to investigate. Carmela’s mind is already churning with a list of likely suspects. Babcock warns her not to get involved, but both of them know it is futile. Carmela can’t resist poking around when someone gets blown up right before her eyes.

Ava is Carmela’s willing accomplice, accompanying Carmela to various social events to help her get the skinny on the suspect list they have compiled. They still don’t know who killed Wilder, but there seem to be plenty of people that hated him enough to kill him. The problem is the murderer is on to them. Things really start heating up when someone targets Carmela and Ava. Babcock insists they stop investigating before one of them gets hurt or worse. But will Carmela listen?

The characters are interesting and easy to like. They do things that anyone might do in New Orleans, with the exception of amateur sleuthing. Carmela, Babcock, Ava and Shamus are the perfect foundation to balance the various supporting characters.

This crafty cozy mystery is full of action, humor and fun in one of America’s most vibrant cities. New Orleans is the perfect backdrop for murder and merriment and this book has both. I stayed in the French Quarter for a fabulous week a few years ago and was delighted to read about the characters visiting familiar places. One of my favorites is Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, so I was delighted to read the chapter that featured this historic last resting place of many New Orleans residents.

Childs adds scrapbook tips and recipes at the end of the book. The tips are handy if you are new to scrap-booking and the recipes (based upon meals in the book) all look delicious.

New York Times Best-Selling author Laura Childs writes several cozy mystery series, including this Scrapbook Mystery Series. Glitter Bomb is the 15th book in the series. It is the first one I’ve read, and it worked perfectly as a stand-alone mystery. But I am adding the rest of the Scrapbook Mystery Series books to my wish list for Christmas.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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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:

https://read.macmillan.com/lp/jar-of-hearts/

 

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, writeknit.wordpress.com. 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: The Art of Hiding – Fab Find!

Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding

By Amanda Prowse

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

Nina lives a charmed life. Her husband owns an extremely successful construction company, she has two sons she adores and spends her days as a housewife and mom. Gone are the difficult days of her childhood. She was so young when her mother died that she only remembers a few things about her. Her dad tried his best, but work was scarce so Nina and her older sister Tiggy were raised by their grandmother. She wasn’t the kindest woman. Undoubtedly she was trying, but there was never enough space or food during those years.

Life changed the moment Nina fell for Finn. He swept her off her feet and promised to give her the world. He followed through on that promise. When they moved into their home, The Tynings, they filled it with high end furniture, lovingly picked out together. Nina no longer worried about money; Finn took care of paying all of the bills and making sure their family had everything they needed and wanted.

Nina was at her son’s high school the day her world began to collapse. She receive a call from the hospital, Finn had been in an accident. She was devastated. Her sons, Conner and Declan were shocked by the news and Nina was determined to keep everything together for them. They only had a few days left until a break from the private school they attended, so both boys returned to their routine to keep things as normal as possible.

Then, to make matters worse, the shattering news that Finn had been hiding something slammed into Nina like a runaway train. The results would change the lives of Nina and her sons forever.

This is an amazing novel. The depth of Nina’s pain is profoundly sad, yet hopeful. She loved and trusted her husband, but now his memory is forever tainted with his deeds. Her life has become a struggle again and she doesn’t know how she will be able to go on. If it weren’t for her two sons she might give up.

The growth and change of the characters is one of the best story lines I have read in a long time. Prowse pulls the reader in and takes you with Nina through the good and bad. It makes the reader think about the most important things in life. You can decide if you think money can buy happiness. I also love the way family and friends play a big part in this novel. Can the love of family transcend years of estrangement and hurtful slights that have piled up over years?

The Art of Hiding is the first book I’ve read by Amanda Prowse, but I guarantee it will not be the last. I cannot express how much I loved this book. The characters, the plot, and the emotions it inspires are a roller coaster ride in reading bliss. I cried when Connor gave his speech at the sports award night, I laughed at the sister’s demolition of an offending wall. The end of the book was realistic and satisfying. I suggest getting this book as soon as possible and carving out time to enjoy Prowse’s expert storytelling.

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Book Review: The Bronx Kill – Revenge Can Be Murder

The Bronx Kill

By Philip Cioffari

It is said you can never go home again. Home is where you should feel safe, even when ghosts from your past attempt to haunt you. Ghosts may give you nightmares, but family members out for revenge can kill you.

The Renegades, a motley crew of five friends from the Bronx, were inseparable five years ago. That was up until the night they decided to do a dangerous stunt that resulted in one death and one missing person. Charlie is the only one in the old gang left in the neighborhood. Johnny left for the Seminary and Danny moved away to try and forget the event that the remaining Renegades swore to never speak of again.

The old gang is reluctantly being reunited in the Bronx because Johnny has left the Seminary to marry his high school sweetheart. Before the pending nuptials arrive, the guys find themselves in a life and death confrontation with someone who cannot leave the past behind. He has been plotting and planning revenge and is in a position to make good on his threats. If he has his way, there will be funerals instead of a wedding.

The Bronx Kill is a mystery wrapped in revenge. I loved trying to guess the details which were delightfully parceled out until the last chapters. If someone was going to die, would it be one or more of the Renegades? Would it be the man who could not let go of the past? At times I wasn’t sure who, if any of them would survive.

The plot alternates between the past and present until it comes crashing together at the end of the book. The action moves quickly, but it always stays true to the story.

The characters are so well developed, that I think I knew some of these kids in high school. The supporting characters have great balance as well. I knew enough about them to understand what made them tick, but not enough to overshadow the main characters. Every time the bouncers showed up, I had to read a little faster to see what those creeps were up to.

Overall this is a great book. I enjoyed the story and characters. It is the first book I’ve read by award winning author Philip Cioffari. Additionally, Coiffari is a Professor, a short story author with publications in magazines and anthologies and a Playwright. He has also directed for Off and On Broadway. I am going to seek out more of this talented author’s work and I suggest you do too, right after you read The Bronx Kill.

Copyright © 2017 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.

 

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