Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Every Trick in the Rook (A Birds of a Feather Mystery)

every-trick-in-the-rookEvery Trick in the Rook

A Birds of a Feather Mystery

By Marty Wingate

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

Julia Lanchester is juggling work and her personal life just like many of us do. She is excited to get away from the tourist bureau for a weekend with her boyfriend Michael. Things have been busy for her, planning events in and around the Fotheringill estate, the most popular place to visit in the village.

She and Michael head out and disconnect from everything for a wonderful few days. They spot unusual birds and enjoy each other until the hotel notifies her of an urgent phone call

The news opens the cage on crazy – turning a relaxing weekend into an abrupt return to reality. Julia’s ex-husband has been found murdered. Even worse, he was on the Fotheringill property. Why has he returned to a place he didn’t like from the isolated island he retreated to when they divorced?

The local constable has questions for Michael and Julia, surely they are not suspects! They are questioned and released, but Julia is warned to keep her nose out of the investigation. She has good intentions, but just can’t seem to let the questions about her ex-husband’s arrival and murder go. Will this put her in the crosshairs of the killer?

Wingate spins a great cozy mystery. It has all the elements that keep loyal cozy readers interested and turning pages. This series is exceedingly interesting to nature and bird lovers. One of my favorite characters is avian – a super smart rook named Alfie. He flies in and out of the plot at the most interesting times. The little girl he lives with is also very interesting. Her name, Tennyson, is as complex and fascinating as the child. I hope both of them show up in later books.

This is the third book in The Birds of a Feather Mystery series. It works perfectly well as a stand-alone mystery as I have not read the previous two books in the series. I did read one of Wingate’s Potting Shed Mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries or mysteries in general, I highly recommend checking out one or both of Marty Wingate’s series. I am willing to bet you will come back for more.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Creepy Crawly Crochet – Perfection!

creepy-crawler-crochetCreepy Crawly Crochet

by Megan Kreiner

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

As an experienced crocheter (I’ve been crocheting for over 50 years) I feel confident in stating Creepy Crawly Crochet is the perfect instruction book with really cool, creepy but cute patterns.

It begins with fiber and hook suggestions as well as where to find black fiber fill (around Halloween they sell it under the name “Halloween Hay” – who knew?!). This is important for creepy figures that are done in dark colors, because no matter how tight your stitches are, the crocheted fabric will allow white fiber fill to be seen. From felt to project bags there are suggestions and guidance regarding the best type of each item to turn out perfectly.

Kreiner gives step-by-step instructions for crocheting from the beginning slip knot to binding off. She then follows with each stitched used in the following patterns, including “Finishing Touches” like whip stitching your project together and embroidery stitches that will add details to your project.

Tips and Tricks is the next section that helps with the little things that will make your Creepy Crawlies perfect.

The patterns themselves are clear, concise and detailed. There are images to enhance and clarify the directions. Each pattern has a color picture to allow you to see exactly how the project will look when finished.

All of the Creepy Crawlies are cute – in a creepy way. It is hard to pick out one or two that are my favorites over the others, but I have a soft spot for Frankie. He is on the top of my list to make for my grandson. My other favorite is Poe the Raven – he would look very cool sitting on my desk at work next Halloween.

If you aren’t that into creepy, you can still love this book. For instance, Jack and the Headless Horseman is a great pattern for a horse stuffed animal. You could make Jack with a head, and it is just a guy on a horse that all kids would love.

After the patterns, Kreiner has templates for the felt pieces used to finish off the characters. She also gives the abbreviations for the pattern instructions, crochet hook conversion charts, yarn weights and resources.

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, if you crochet toys or dolls, this is the book for you. I can’t wait to make my favorites.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Everything We Keep – I just found my new favorite author!!!

lonsdale-everythingwekeep-final-150-360x570Everything We Keep

By Kerry Lonsdale

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

Aimee is living her worst nightmare. What should have been her wedding day was now the day all of her loved ones and friends gathered to say goodbye to James, her fiancé. On a routine business trip something went horribly wrong and he became the victim of a boating accident.

As the days drag on, Aimee feels as though she is just going through the motions of living without any emotion. Then a mysterious stranger tells her James is not dead. Of course the woman is crazy; her fiancé was buried after his body was brought back from Mexico. But Aimee can’t shake the feeling something is off. It is keeping her from moving on.

James is still all around her, at least in spirit. His paintings cover her walls, his clothes are in her closet and every happy memory Aimee has is filled with her life with him. He was her best friend, and then became her fiancé.

Now she had to make some tough decisions. What was she going to do with her life? Somehow the dream she and James had for her future, opening an upscale coffee shop didn’t seem like it would ever happen now that he was gone.

Enter Ian, a fabulous photographer that is smart, funny and wants to get to know Aimee after meeting her in at a gallery event. She feels it is too soon to have another man in her life. They become friends, but will he stand by and let her go off on a wild goose chase to get answers that may upend her world turning her reconstructed life into chaos.

The fast paced story and unexpected twists and turns made me fly through this book to see what happened next. The unexpected twist at the end is one of the best endings I have ever read. It was amazing and I am still talking about this book to my book loving friends.

Everything We Keep is Ms. Lonsdale’s first book. It is a stunning debut novel, with richly developed characters. I cannot wait for her next book All the Breaking Waves which will be out in December 2016 per her website.  Finding a new favorite author to add to my list is one of life’s small pleasures.

 

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Quick Walk to Murder – Fast Paced Cozy

 

quick-walk-to-murderQuick Walk to Murder

The Second Jessie Murphy Mystery

By: JD Daniels

Tomas is dead! Jessie’s friend Zen is beside herself. Supporting Zen while she is mourning her friend changes Jessie’s mind about returning home from her stay on Pine Island as planned. But before she had time to make a firm plan, she is given a mysterious package from the dead college student. This development makes his death look very suspicious. Jessie might have a murder to solve before leaving for home. She would rather paint than be an amateur gumshoe, but Zen is brokenhearted after the death of Tomas and the police aren’t buying the murder theory. Someone has to find out what happened to the promising college student whose life ended too soon.

The clues are confusing. Tomas was working for his family’s fishing business, but seemed afraid of someone or something the last night he was alive.

Enter Tomas’ girlfriend – a very rich girl with a very snooty family. They met at college, but something drew them together despite the opposition from their families as well as their social and economic differences. Could this have been a factor in his death?

Then there is his college roommate, who seems to be hiding something. The professors aren’t as forthcoming as Jessie hoped. Is there a reason they aren’t cooperating?

Some of the fishermen Tomas worked with have shady pasts. Have they changed or should Jessie put them at the top of her suspect list? Or maybe they are just crusty, grumpy characters who don’t want a young gal nosing around their business.

Unfortunately, Jessie’s quest for answers only creates more questions. Will she find the answers before someone else dies? Will it be her or someone she loves?

Daniel’s keeps the action moving while ratcheting up the tension to keep the reader in suspense. Quick Walk to Murder is Daniel’s second Jessie Murphy Mystery. All the perfect elements are present – a reluctant untrained investigator, police that are not investigating, an unlikely victim and a list of possible suspects as long as your arm.

This is the first book I’ve read in the series and I didn’t feel as though I was lost or missing something I needed to know from the first novel to enjoy this one.

Copyright © 2016 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.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Write to Die – Perfect Legal Mystery

Write to DieWrite to Die

By Charles Rosenberg

Rory Calburton is in a tight spot. He is the newly promoted partner at his law firm, which is the primary council for a major movie studio. Currently, the studio is embroiled in a lawsuit involving this year’s blockbuster movie which is scheduled to release within days. Rory is called to the studio by the head honcho, Joe Stanton to discuss the case. But Joe won’t be discussing the case or anything else because Rory finds him dead.

This was the tip of the iceberg of Rory’s bad luck. His boss, Hal Harold, is the prime suspect in Joe’s death. Now the lawsuit brought against the studio by former star Mary Bloom might take a bad turn with Joe no longer in the picture. Rory’s headaches multiply when he not only has to defend the studio, but his boss in front of a less than friendly judge.

Enter another wild card in the form of a brilliant young assistant; Sarah Gold. Fresh out of law school, an admirable internship and a shady few years of bartending, Sarah jumps into the investigation a bit too eagerly. Now Rory has to research the lawsuit before the blockbuster hits the big screen, defend his boss from a murder and keep Sarah from doing something so far over the edge of legal that could get them both thrown out of the firm and possibly into jail.

Write to Die is a fascinating romp through the court system. The mystery of who killed Joe Stanton is well played and was impossible for me to figure out until the last few pages. The clues were all there, it was just a matter of connecting all the dots. Much to my delight, I did not figure it out until the last chapters.

Rosenberg writes the story with a noir flavor set in modern day. The “good ‘ol boy” mentality of the film studio and law firm was very reminiscent of a noir story of the 1950’s. But, if you are not a noir fan, no worries, the modern day setting as well as the antics of Sarah will pull you back into a world with cell phones and tracking devices.

The characters were interesting and well-developed. Pieces of back ground and history were fed to the reader in small bits so as not to overwhelm the actual story. It was like getting to know an acquaintance who soon

became a friend. By the end of the book, some of them were close friends of mine, but a few had secrets that I am dying to find out. Maybe I will find out in the next book with these characters. I certainly hope there is a sequel.

It is always delightful for a reader to find a new author he or she likes. The smart, easy to read dialog and story Rosenberg gives us makes the book interesting and a fast read. This is his fourth book. He is a practicing lawyer in LA, which allows him to add realism to Write To Die that keeps the readers involved and interested in how the trial as well as the personal relationships are going to work out.

Copyright © 2016 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Lazy Crafternoon – Tons of Cute, Affordable, Easy Crafts

Lazy CarfternoonLazy Crafternoon

by Stella Fields

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley  & Capstone in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Lazy Crafternoon made me want to pull out the craft supplies, call a few friends and have a fun crafty day. Fields has compiled a collection of crafts that are easy to make, useful and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

She begins with explaining supplies and how to use them. They are common in most if not all households (scissors, glue, paintbrushes) or easily purchases at your local craft, hardware or even grocery store. The most exotic thing she discusses is decoupage glue, so you won’t have to order something from an expensive craft house to complete her projects.

The projects are divided into different sections:

Accessories includes headbands, decoupaged shoes (I cannot wait to do this to a pear of my favorite flats that are looking tired!) and a diffuser necklace that uses essential oils to name a few. There are a total of 10 crafts in this section.

Decorate gives the reader instructions for ribbon wreaths (think Christmas gift!), no sew pillows and cute flower pot makeovers. There are a total of 14 crafts in this section.

Study is the section of school supplies that can be used for many other purposes also. My favorite in this section is the cinch sacks – they can carry so much more that books – think knitting! They are perfect for the project on the go. There are a total of 10 projects in this section.

Celebrate is all about party decorations and gifts wrappings. The coolest trick to make wrapping paper with a lint roller will absolutely be used this Christmas in our house! You can celebrate with all 11 of the projects included here.

Food is the final section. Why food in a craft book? Remember the title is Lazy Crafternoon and in order to have a Crafternoon you have to add friends and food to complete your day. There are 7 crafty type recipes that look yummy and perfect for your crafternoon or for giving or just plain enjoying yourself. The one I can’t wait to try is sun tea in mason jars. How fun to personalize each one for the person that is going to enjoy it?

Overall, this is the best, most versatile craft book I’ve read lately. The ideas are fresh, easy and Fields reminds us how fun it is to spend time crafting with good friends and of course good food. This is written for teens/young adults but adults will find plenty of projects they will want to do – I did!

Watch for Lazy Crafternoon at your local bookstore or online, it is available on August 1, 2016 but can be pre-ordered now.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: My First Knitting Book – Projects for Beginning Young Knitters

My First Knitting BookMy First Knitting Book

by Hildegarde Deuzo (Author), Marina Orry (Translator)

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

My First Knitting Book features clear, easy to understand instructions for new knitters. There are written instructions, diagrams and pictures to help any type of learner complete over a dozen easy projects. The basic knit and purl stitches as well as increases and decreases are detailed. The importance of gauge, which varies from person to person and is dependent on the type/weight of yarn as well as the size of needled you use is not addressed until the very end of the book. Hopefully readers will not just pick out a project before reading the whole book first.

The project instructions include the yarn type needed, needle size and easy to follow diagrams to complete things like scarves, a pouch and a stuffed owl toy.

This book is appropriate for older children (with help from an adult) to adults, but most of the projects are geared to children and younger teens.

While My First Knitting Book has all the mechanics included, I don’t find this book standing out from most other knitting books for new knitters.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review