Tag Archives: Book Reviews

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

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Audio Book Review: The Guilt Trip – Fabulous New Suspense Novel by NYT Best Selling Author

The Guilt Trip

by Sandie Jones

Narrated by Clare Corbett

The thought of a destination wedding to Portugal sounds fabulous but quickly becomes complicated. Everyone has secrets that they are determined to keep hidden from the people closest to them.

The bride and groom, Will and Ali, are excited to begin their new lives as husband and wife, but Ali may not be telling the entire truth to her new husband. Meanwhile, Will’s brother Jack and his wife Rachel are at odds with each other when suspicion of cheating comes to light. Noah and his wife Paige, who are best friends with Jack and Rachel, are having marital problems. Could it be that the relationship between Noah and Rachel has reverted back to their college days when they were more than friends?

Deceit and betrayal, lies and suspicion swirls around six main characters, coming to a boiling point the day of the wedding. The answers to all of the questions will not be revealed until the wedding is over – but will it be too late for any of them to survive? The Guilt Trip is full of twists and turns that keeps readers guessing until the final chapters. Who, if anyone, is lying?

This fast-paced suspense filled novel is perfectly plotted to keep the reader engaged from the first pages to the last. The characters are interesting and fully developed. It was fun to try and figure out who was lying and who was cheating – and who wasn’t. I loved to hate some of the characters and felt sorry for others. The last chapter let me know if I was a good judge of character or completely mistaken. I loved it.

Clare Corbett did a marvelous job narrating this audiobook. She speaks clearly, making the book come to life for listeners. Audiobooks are perfect for busy people. There is nothing better than listening to an interesting book like The Guilt Trip while cleaning house, knitting or just relaxing.

I’ve read several books by Sandi Jones, and have enjoyed all of them. She is a New York Times bestselling author and deservedly so. I highly recommend all of her books, especially her latest, The Guilt Trip.

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 – A Marvelous Mystery! – Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche

By Nancy Springer

Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister Enola was born when he was leaving home to pursue his studies. They do not cross paths until July of 1888 when she is left motherless and on her own at the tender age of 14. Upon the disappearance of their mother, Enola sends word to her two brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. They arrive unsure of what to do with a young girl, but soon realize that their mother has taught Enola how to take care of herself in any situation.

Soon after their reunion, Enola receives a letter from Dr. Watson, stating Sherlock was in a state deep depression.  She immediately goes to his apartment to see what she can do to help him. Whilst there, a young woman, Miss Letitia Glover, arrives in search of Sherlock’s help. Her twin sister has been reported as dead. The widowed husband states she died and there was no funeral or burial. Due to the state Sherlock is in, Enola immediately steps in to find the missing woman. Meanwhile, Sherlock is intrigued by the case and rouses to help his sister. Together they work tirelessly to find the answers Miss Glover needs to hear.

This fast-paced mystery is a delight to read. Sherlock is a character most of us know and love, Enola is just who you would imagine his sister would be. Both of them are masters of disguise, highly intelligent and resourceful. Set in the late 1800s Enola has to work under the constraints of the time, which makes her job more difficult, but she is up for the challenge.

This is book 7 in the Enola Holmes series by author Nancy Springer. It works very well as a stand-alone novel, but if you are like me, you will want to read the previous six books in the series as soon as you finish this one.

Ms. Springer is an award-winning prolific writer of many other books and series. While the Enola Holmes series is classified as a teen/young adult mystery series, it was a fun, interesting and fast read. I have watched the series on my local PBS station and have enjoyed it immensely – but the book is always better and that holds true with the Enola Holmes series as well.

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: The Glitter End – Fast and Fun Cozy Mystery

The Glitter End by Vivian Conroy

Delta Douglas has an idea to bring more people into the stationery shop that she owns with her close friend Hazel. She has agreed to have Tilly Tay, a famous miniature artist, bring one of her works to the shop. It is a tiny world showcasing the small town’s gold rush history, featuring tiny replications of actual structures from the Old West days.

Unfortunately, Tilly is an eccentric character that quickly irritates the town folks. Shortly after arriving she is arrested for murder. Delta thinks Tilly is quirky, but doesn’t believe she is a killer. Ray Taylor, a man that Delta would love to be more than friends with, agrees with her. He is a retired football player with ties to law enforcement so they quietly begin to investigate the case running under the radar of the cops. Hopefully no one will get hurt if and when the killer catches on to their plan.

This cozy mystery is a fast and fun read. The setting is beautifully brought to life and the characters are interesting. Like most cozy mysteries there is a hint of romance, however difficult it is for the main characters to connect and share their feelings.

Ms. Conroy is a prolific cozy mystery writer, having written several series in addition to this series, the Stationery Shop Mysteries. This is the first book I have read by her and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the second book in the series but reads well as a standalone cozy. I can’t wait to check out her other series.

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

Copyright © 2021 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: 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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Book Review: Easy Aircraft Origami

Easy Aircraft Origami

By Jayson Merrill

Jayson Merrill is back with his fifth origami book, Easy Aircraft. This origami master’s latest book contains 14 awesome projects. Each one will soar into the sky, taking flight after creation.

Step-by-step, clear and concise instructions are included for each of the aircrafts. Symbols and signs such as the different kinds of lines and arrows used in the instructions as well as the procedures for proper folds are clearly taught. Using detailed drawings to demonstrate each fold, you will be completing your aircraft with confidence and ease.

From the Hawker (16 steps) to the Mourningstar (39 steps) and the 12 aircraft between them, you will enjoy creating and flying each of them. It is a great way to engage your child. Taking them to a park or the backyard, you will have countless hours of fun together.

I recommend this book for adults or teens. As previously stated, your youngsters will enjoy the finished aircraft, but the precision needed for success is better left to adults.

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: Inspired Shawls -Stunning Patterns for Knitters

Inspired Shawls

15 Creative Patterns for Year-Round Knitting

By Laura Zukaite

Inspired Shawls is Fashion Designer Laura Zukaite’s brain child. She has created 15 stunning shawl patterns that range from easy to expert. All of her creations include beautiful color photographs, diagrams, charts and detailed, easy to read instructions. General abbreviations are listed at the end of the book, but any special abbreviations/instructions are conveniently printed on the first page of the pattern along with the gauge so you don’t have to keep flipping back and forth to the end of the book as you are knitting.

The beauty and diversity of these patterns is a knitter’s dream. Some of the shawls, like the Catagena and Nazca are as delicate as butterfly wings. Others are colorful and warm. I love the Geo Aztec Shawl. Knitted in DK/Light Worsted weight, with adorable tassels on each end makes this fun and functional shawl a favorite.

There is an interesting page about Ms. Zukaite’s design journey. Born in Lithuania, she learned to knit as a child. Now living in New York, she has studied at Parsons School of Design and has designed for Gap and Ralph Lauren to mention a few. She has published patterns in various knitting magazines and is the author of Lux Knits, Lux Knits; The Accessories as well as Inspired Shawls. I love the color, patterns and the inspiration in Inspired Shawls.

I highly recommend this book to knitters from novice to expert level. Happy knitting!

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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