Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Origami Boxes – Fun and Useful

Origami Boxes

Dover Publications

Origami is cute, fun and offers beautiful things to create from paper. The patterns in Origami Boxes are simple, easy to construct and useful. I don’t know about you, but I like to put gifts in boxes and wrap them instead of using bags with tissue paper. I know it is faster and easier to use bags, but unwrapping a gift in a box is so much more fun for the gift and giver.

You can create the small boxes you need by using the step-by-step easy instructions included in this book. There are several different types of boxes, such as a flat box, a box with a hinged lid and a fortune purse. It is fun to give a small treasure in a hand made box of your own creation.

There are general instructions for novice and seasoned origami masters, as well as specific instructions for each of the eight boxes created by experts. As a bonus, there are 200 sheets of origami paper in various colors and patterns. You will soon have an array of beautiful boxes for small gifts in magnificent florals, soothing solids and eye-catching geometric designs.

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: The Rising Place – Emotionally Charged Debut Novel

The Rising Place

By David Armstrong

David, a young lawyer in Hamilton, Mississippi met Emily Hodge when she was 75. He did not know much about Miss Emily, but wondered why someone born and bred in Hamilton was not surrounded by family and friends from the long life she led when her days become numbered. She shared a picture of her late teenage years with David and he was startled to see she was beautiful and full of life.

After her funeral, he gathered up the picture and some letters he found in the drawer next to her bed. Therein lies the history and heartache of Miss Emily. Never married, she fell in love with a man that was one quarter African American. Harry is a pilot and took her flying in his plane. They were intimate just once, right before he left for the war. As fate would have it, she was pregnant. So began the ostracizing of Miss Emily. The 1940’s in Mississippi were intolerant of mixed marriages and no compassion was given to unwed mothers.

Heartbroken and lonely, she began writing Harry about her love for him, the progress of her pregnancy and the racial tensions in Hamilton. Headstrong and defiant, Miss Emily refused to stop seeing her best friend Wilma who is an African American. This is just not done in Mississippi in the 1940s.

The Rising Place is an interesting, emotionally charged glimpse at life in the 1940s south. While it is a work of fiction, there are many parallels to the events that actually occurred during that timeframe. The war, racial tension and the societal rules for women are clearly outlined, yet challenged by Miss Emily no matter the high cost of spending most of her adult life alone.

This fast and fascinating book is David Armstrong’s debut novel. Previously made into a film, The Rising Place is available on DVD. As always, I suggest reading the book first – it is always better, even if the film is fabulous. He has previously published collections of his short works and screenplays.

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

It Cannoli Be Murder – A Delicious Cozy Mystery

It Cannoli Be Murder

An Italian Chef Mystery

By Catherine Bruns

 

Tess is on the verge of something big – opening her very own Italian restaurant – a dream she has had forever. It is bittersweet because her husband died six months ago. He shared her life and her vision for the future, but Tess is slowly moving on from his loss.

Her cousin Gabby, who is more like a sister is there for her, supporting and encouraging the opening of Anything’s Pastable . When Gabby schedules an author event at her bookstore, Tess jumps in to help with the refreshments even though she is crazy busy with the final prep for her restaurant.

The author talk was a disaster. He is obnoxious and his assistant, Daphne, is an old high school nemesis of the cousins. When Tess finds her dead late that night in the bookstore, both Gabby and Tess are at the top of the list of suspects. They are not going to stand for being accused of murder, nor are they going to let the murder close the bookstore and forestall the opening of the restaurant. They begin investigating and soon find several people who wanted Daphne out of the picture. Unfortunately for the girls, someone will go to any lengths to keep the amateur sleuths from finding the true killer.

This is the first book I have read by Catherine Bruns. It is the second book in the Italian Chef Mystery Series. I was not confused or lost at anytime in the book, it works very well as a standalone novel. I’m a huge fan of cozy mysteries. It Cannoli Be Murder is a fun, interesting read with so many viable suspects I didn’t know who the murderer was until the last pages. I really enjoyed the plot and characters and highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a fun and interesting cozy mystery.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Stealth Aircraft Origami – Create Paper Airplanes Like Never Before

Stealth Aircraft Origami

By: Jayson Merrill

Quick! Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear origami. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of cute little animals out of flowery paper. Jayson Merrill, author of Stealth Aircraft Origami is about to change everyone’s thoughts on the ancient craft of origami.

Paper airplanes have always been fun to create, and Merrill takes them to a whole new level. One of the aircraft featured is the Black Knight. In the introduction, he tells us how he created this plane without tape and it flew 237 feet! He states this book is not for beginners.  Only experienced origami experts should attempt to make the SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk and the rest of the super cool fighter jets found within the pages.

There are detailed instructions and pictures outlining the procedures to create these super cool planes, as well as a fascinating paragraph about each one. Each type of fold is shown for every step. The Black Knight has 37 different steps. If that isn’t enough of a challenge, the B-2 Spirit (stealth bomber) uses 56 steps to create this amazing plane that was first developed in 1979. This bomber is still in use today. One of the other aircrafts, the SR 71 Blackbird was developed in the 1960s and could fly at speeds over Mach 3 Today visitors can see one close up at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, VA.

I recommend this book to anyone that wants a real challenge. I am only a beginner when it comes to origami, but the challenge of creating a paper airplane that could fly over 200 feet is calling to me. How about you?

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: Murder of a Needled Knitter – Honeymoon and Homicide!

Murder of a Needled Knitter

By Denise Swanson

Newly married Skye Denison Boyd and Wally, her brand-new husband have set sail on a romantic honeymoon cruise. The two of them are happy little love birds until they realize that there are a group of knitters on the cruise with them. Knitting doesn’t bother either of them, but they didn’t realize that Skye’s overbearing mother May is part of the knitting group and her father Jed has joined her. When they also see Skye’s friend Trixie and her husband aboard ship, the newlyweds realize they are sailing into different seas than they imagined.

When an obnoxious knitting instructor is found dying by Skye and Trixie, they realize a murderer is also aboard the ship. The bad news is, May is the lead suspect. The good news is Wally is a member of the police force back home and this isn’t the first dead body Skye and Trixie have stumbled upon. The three of them team up with a little help from Skye’s parents and Trixie’s husband to find the real killer before they reach the end of the cruise so May can go home instead of being remanded to FBI custody.

I love cozies, and Swanson is a master of this genre. Murder of a Needled Knitter has all of the elements cozy readers love. Amateur sleuths, hot hubbies and boyfriends, just enough bloodshed, but not too much and a solid plot that wraps up splendidly in the end. Swanson’s books are fun to read and beautifully written. The descriptions of the food on the cruise ship made me hungry and phrases like, “Rumors were spread like suntan lotion at the pool—thickly and with little regard for the slippery consequences.” made me chuckle.

This is not the first book I have read in the Scumble River Mystery Series. Denise Swanson is one of my favorite cozy writers. Since I live close to where the series is set, it is fun to read about places the characters go that I have been to myself. But you certainly don’t have to live near Chicago to relate to this fabulous cozy series. I highly recommend any and all of Denise Swanson’s books to readers who love a well-written cozy with interestingly engaging characters.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Red Lotus – New York Times Best Selling Author’s Latest Gem

The Red Lotus

By Chris Bohjalian

A bicycle trip takes Alexis, an ER doctor and her medical researcher boyfriend Austin to Vietnam. While both of them enjoy biking and the scenery, the trip is personal for Austin. His father was wounded and his uncle died in the very jungle they would bike through within the safety of the group.

Due to weather, things change a bit and Austin decides to go off on his own to complete the pilgrimage and closure he came for. When he doesn’t return, the local police are called in. His body is found, apparently the victim of a hit and run accident. But was it? Alexis has a feeling it was murder, but how can a doctor back in the states investigate a possible murder in a faraway country?

Soon she finds evidence that Austin has been lying to her. Even though their entire relationship was built upon these newfound lies, she is determined to find the truth and his murderer. Digging where someone doesn’t want you to find anything can be deadly, but Alexis and a PI she retains won’t stop until the answers they seek are revealed.

From the opening pages of this novel to the last, Bohjalian skillfully keeps the readers breathless with fear and the expectation of evil just around the corner for Alexis. She has her own demons to deal with as well as roadblocks by officials and Austin’s family throughout the book.

The reader is swept into the beauty of Vietnam’s jungles and the grittiness of the ER. The author paints us the picture of both with his words, juxtaposing the good and bad of both places throughout the novel.

I found this fast-paced mystery absorbingly interesting and was immediately hooked on the plot and characters. This is the first book I’ve read by New York Times Best Selling Author Chris Bohjalian, but not the last. Looking over his list of best-sellers it will be difficult to choose which one to read next.

 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: Murder Off the Page: A Full Serving of Who Done it with a Side of Cozy Mystery

Murder Off the Page

By Con Lehane

Raymond Ambler and his close friend Adele have solved a few murders before. This time the amateur sleuths are taking it personally. One of their close friends, bartender Brian McNulty, is wanted for murder and is on the lam. They are certain McNulty is innocent, but Mike Cosgrove, the officer in charge of the case, thinks differently. To complicate matters, Cosgrove, Ambler and Adele are more than acquaintances, they have “worked” other cases together, much to Cosgrove’s displeasure.

McNulty contacts Amber, asking him to look in on his elderly father and gives him little to no information other than he is innocent. As more bodies pile up, it is beginning to look worse for McNulty by the day. The dead woman at the center of all this has led a secret life in the open confusing police and McNulty’s friends. Her husband claims to know of her infidelities and looks the other way. Suspects are piling up like cord wood and the deeper Cosgrove and Ambler dig, the more disturbing the victim’s life becomes. Unfortunately, McNulty isn’t off the hook. He refuses to turn himself in and is on a personal mission to find the real killer himself.

Murder Off the Page is the third book in the 42nd Street Library Mystery Series. Both Adele and Ambler work in the Library and the plot winds in and out of the Special Collections reading room, painting the picture of a place I want to visit. Even though it only exists in Lehane’s pages, the Library is another character I adore.

Ambler and Adele are cantankerous and charming respectively. They have a close friendship and at times are on the verge of a deeper relationship. Miscues and misunderstandings have left them as close friends for the time being. I love the way that their interactions adds to the plot. Murder Off the Page is a full serving of who done it with a side of cozy mystery.

This is the second Lehane book I have read. Previously I read and thoroughly enjoyed Murder in the Manuscript Room which is the second book in the series. Both of the books read well as standalone novels, but I am sure you will enjoy reading this entire series, and like me, search out his other works, a trio of mysteries featuring bartender Brian McNulty that were written before the 42nd Library Mystery Series.

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: Back to Christmas – A Fun Holiday Frolic Full of Love and Redemption

Back to Christmas

By Dennis Canfield

The Krumwerth family is in deep trouble but they don’t even know it. Why you ask? Because they are on Santa’s naughty list for what will be the third year in a row. And everyone knows that that means they got on each other’s last nerve with bad behavior for the last time. After three years on the naughty list in a row, you are destined to be on it for all eternity. No more Christmas spirit and no way to get back on the nice list.

The head sorting elf, Marmel, gives Santa the bad news. But Santa is a compassionate man, he wants Marmel to give the Krumwerth’s one last chance for redemption, even though Marmel thinks it is futile.

The family is comprised of twelve-year-old Amanda, her younger brother Patrick and her always busy parents. All four of them are plugged in to electronics and tuned out of each other’s lives. Marmel appears to Amanda foretelling their future of hating Christmas due to landing on the forever naughty list. She is afraid, but what can a kid do to save Christmas? With the help of Santa’s younger brother RC, Marmel just might be able to help the Krumwerth Family and save himself while doing so.

Written as a children’s book, Back to Christmas brings the spirit of Christmas to all ages. Canfield reminds readers that the true gift of Christmas is the love, hope and charity surrounding the season, not the newest electronics or gift cards from the mall.

The characters are true to life and fun. Especially the elves and Santa’s younger brother. I would love to have some of his magic green cinnamon to help me wrangle penguins and get where I am going faster.

This adorable Christmas tale should be on everyone’s bookshelf or wish list. It will undoubtedly become a Christmas classic. Be sure to read the book before the movie (which will be fabulous) is optioned for the big screen.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Southern Harm – Murder Too Close to Home in this Cozy

Southern Harm

A Southern B & B Mystery

By Caroline Fardig

Finding the perfect Christmas gift for her boyfriend Tucker’s Aunt Lela perplexed Quinn. When Tucker come up with the idea of making an outdoor firepit for his aunt to enjoy during the colder days in Savanna, Quinn knew it would be perfect. They started right away, even though a hot spell was blanketing the area. The sweltering heat had them sweating in Lela’s back yard, but when human bones were dug up as the work began things really heated up.

Aunt Lela is promptly arrested after the bones are identified as her teenage neighbor that went missing years ago. Apparently, Lela thought her ex-husband had a fling with the young girl and went so far as torching her car to keep her away from him. That gave the police motive and opportunity for the arrest.

Tucker is devastated, but reluctantly agrees to let Quinn and her sister, Delilah do some amateur sleuthing to see if they can turn up any evidence that his aunt is not guilty. Even though he is uncomfortable with the situation, the girls convince him to let them dig into the dead girl’s past. This ruffles the feathers of more than one of Savannah’s elites, including his parents.

The further the investigation progresses, the closer it gets to home. Two more people are arrested in conjunction to the murder, making it more personal to the girls than before. They will not stop digging into the past, no matter how dangerous it is, until the truth is revealed.

This fast-paced cozy mystery is full of red herrings and plot twists. Each of the suspects have motive and opportunity. Like all cozies, the main characters only solve mysterious murders in their spare time. Quinn and Delilah are the owners of a B&B along with their grandfather. True to life, they have to make the guests breakfast and work the check-in desk, making them well rounded and interesting.

Fardig is a prolific writer and her expertise as a cozy mystery author shines in this series as well as the others she has written. I have read several books in her Java Jive series and thoroughly enjoyed them. Southern Harm is the second book in the series, but read well as a stand-alone cozy. I highly recommend this book as well as this author.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Patchwork Quilt Designs Coloring Book – Inspiration For Your Next Quilting Project

Patchwork Quilt Designs Coloring Book

By: Carol Schmidt

Patchwork quilts are a piece of American history dating back to the eighteenth century. Our forefathers knew how to reuse and recycle before it became popular today. It was a necessity and way of life.

Quilting has made a resurgence. Works of art are created with bits of fabric thoughtfully planned and placed together to create a beautiful mosaic. Quilters are inspired by new and old patterns, much like the ones depicted in Carol Schmidt’s Patchwork Quilt Designs Coloring Book.

 The 31 pages of designs to color represent many of the classic quilting patterns. Everything from Tumbling Blocks to Dutch Rose are included. Each perforated page can become your personal work of art by using pens, crayons, markers or colored pencils.

Perhaps you are a quilter. The pages might inspire you to try a new design. Or maybe you are contemplating a new color scheme. What better way to work it out than on one of the quilt designs in this book?

Non-quilters will also enjoy the classic, simple shapes on the pages. Unlike most adult coloring books, most of these designs are not comprised of small spaces. There are a few pages that have smaller details, but for the most part the use of color and shades will be the star of your completed pages. This is a plus for anyone that may have trouble seeing the smaller spaces as well as those that want the colors to be the focus of the finished page.

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review