Tag Archives: bookreview

Book Review: A Christmas Revelation – A New Holiday Novella

A Christmas Revelation

By Anne Perry

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.

London 1868. Nine-year-old Worm knows what hunger and cold feels like. His life has gotten a bit better, he no longer lives on the streets but in a free clinic for women of dubious occupations. Squeaky, the bookkeeper, has a past that will forever haunt him, but for some reason has a soft spot for Worm that he tries hard not to let show. But when Worm comes home and tells him a beautiful girl has been taken by a couple of ruffians, he gets drawn into the mystery and danger that he worked so hard to get away from.

Squeaky tried to dissuade Worm from searching for the taken girl by telling him that Christmas was in a few days. The boy has heard the church bells on Christmas day, but did not know anything else about the celebration. Squeaky pulled out old memories, and successfully convinced Worm that they could pull off a celebration for the staff and current residents of the clinic. The good news was Worm was very excited to help with decorations and the tantalizing descriptions of the Christmas feast made his mouth water. But the bad news for Squeaky is that Worm is still determined to help the girl and cannot let it go.

So begins a journey for the both of them, winding through the worst parts of London in the darkest of winter nights. First they have to find her, which was not an easy thing to do. Against all odds they locate her and even manage to speak with her. She claims she is not being forced to remain with the two men, but Worm does not believe her. In order to free her, the unlikely duo has to pull in favors from unsavory characters, go places no child should ever see and risk their lives.

Perry’s characters come alive on the pages. Victorian Christmas traditions are masterfully woven throughout the mystery of the beautiful woman to lighten up the intensity of the story. Squeaky and Worm, along with the rest of the staff of the clinic decorate, plan the menu and even have time to search out a special gift for the special day.

The story is one of hope and redemption, even in the toughest of times. The characters are scruffy and often thought of as lower class. They may not have money but they do have the important qualities that matter most. They care about each other and strangers, share what they have even if it isn’t much and find happiness within the world they live in.

This is an unusual Christmas story, but one that will become a favorite.  I am a fan of all things Christmas and it was refreshing to read a novel with a new twist on the age old story of love and redemption.

Internationally renowned, award winning author Anne Perry is best known for her Historical novels; most noted are the Monk Series and Pitt Series. She began writing annual Christmas novellas in 2003, and has written one every year since, including The Christmas Revelation available November 9, 2018. This is the first Christmas novella I have read by Perry, but have enjoyed many of her other books. I encourage you to read A Christmas Revelation; it is a quick and thoughtful Christmas tale that will leave you thinking about the story and characters this holiday season.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Create Your Own Crocheted Zoo with Crochet Animal Rugs

Adorable, easy to read patterns will encourage crocheters both new and old to create a beautiful menagerie. All of the patterns are written out in detail, with easy to read instructions. There are color charts along with the written instructions if you prefer them to written directions.

From pandas to dinosaurs you will find just the right animal to make someone happy. While the title spotlights animal rugs, the patterns also include pillows, toy bags, placemats and even security blankets for the youngest of children. My personal favorite is the giraffe security blanket, which is absolutely charming.

There are over twenty pages of instruction and techniques at the end of the book that will ensure success of every project for crocheters of any level.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Claire’s Last Secret – Intriguing Historical Mystery

Claire’s Last Secret

By Marty Ambrose

Based upon the true story of the conception and infamous writing weekend of Mary Shelly’s famous Gothic ghost story, Frankenstein, this historical mystery intertwines delicious bits of true history with a tantalizing tale of lost love and murder.

Set in 1873, the stepsister of Mary Shelley, Claire Cairmont is the only survivor of that fateful summer in 1816. Now Claire is forced to remember those days – as if she could ever forget.

As a young woman, in love with a married man and expecting his child, her future was uncertain. Claire was and is a free spirit, living life as she chose, not as was expected of her. She was on holiday with Mary, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary’s husband) and Lord Byron. It was during this holiday that Frankenstein was born and Claire’s life changed forever.

Claire now lives with her beloved niece and grandniece, but they are hardly living in luxury. Their basic needs are barely met, but it is doubtful they will be able to make it much longer without some income. Surprisingly, a man contacts them requesting an audience with Claire. He wants to purchase personal letters and memorabilia from the time spent in 1816 with Byron and Shelley. By selling them, she and her niece would be able to live comfortably, but does this benefactor bring salvation or death to her door?

The tangled relationships of 1816 have come back to haunt Claire as she is in the twilight of her life. Must she live through the agony of losing Lord Byron and the fateful events surrounding the best and worst time of her life.

Ambrose’s work of literary historical fiction is interesting and intriguing. She alternates the story between 1816 and 1873, filling in interesting background and events that led up to the mystery man and his reason for entering her life.

Claire’s Secret is the first book of a planned trilogy. Ms. Ambrose is a gifted writer, with several books to her credit. The most popular is her modern day Mango Bay Mystery series starring Mallie Monroe. Claire’s Secret is the first book I’ve read by this author, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The literary prose in an easy to read format was refreshing and entertaining. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

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. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Need to Know – Do You Really Know the Man You Love?

Need to Know

By Karen Cleveland

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.

Viv and Matt live a full life. Viv has a demanding job as a counterintelligence analyst for the CIA. While she is looking for Russian sleeper agents on U.S. soil, Matt takes on most of the duties of child rearing. They have a young daughter that is older than their twin boys. One of the boys has developmental problems requiring frequent visits to specialists that Matt willingly takes care of. Like any couple that has been married for over a decade, they know each other inside out.

Because of the cost of her son’s specialists, Viv had to go back to work sooner than she planned. But she loves and believes in the importance of her job. She is on the cusp of having her hard work to pay off. She has developed a program to identify people involved in these sleeper cells. Pictures start appearing on her monitor, she recognizes one of them. It is Matt.

Has her whole life been a lie? How could he be a Russian spy and did he marry her because she works for the CIA? The old adage of keeping your enemies close just might be the reason Matt met her in the first place. So many things run through Viv’s mind she can barely breathe, but she knows her husband is mixed up in something that has the ability to implode her family.

Once Matt is confronted, Viv realizes that she will have to make impossible decisions involving the country she loves and the safety of her family. She can no longer trust anything Matt says – or can she? Was he trapped in situation that he did not want to be in? Is he lying or telling her the truth? Viv has to make a move that will change the rest of their lives forever.

Debut novelist Karen Cleveland’s psychological thriller will keep you up late into the night. Her characters come to life on the pages and the twist in the last chapter will stay with the reader long after closing the book.

Need to Know could literally be ripped from today’s headlines. Recently I was in Washington D.C. at the Newseum. There is a section on spy cells that infiltrate the U.S. and how they are uncovered. The real life spies acted much like the ones in Cleveland’s novel. The realism of the book became more and more evident with each exhibit.

It is evident that Cleveland, a former CIA agent, is a gifted novelist. Need to Know holds a well-deserved spot on the New York Times Best Seller list. Film rights to the book have been sold – snatch up this book before the movie hits the screen. While I am excited to see the book come to life in the theaters, in my opinion, the book is always better than the movie and this one is outstanding.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Other People’s Houses – The Perfect Summer Read

Other People’s Houses

By Abbi Waxman

 

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.

Neighbors can be ignored, acquaintances or befriended on levels from chit chats over fences to confidants. In Frances’s neighborhood, she has some of each of the above. As a stay home mom, she is the designated car pool to school kind of neighbor, so she knows anyone with small children pretty well. At least she thought so.

The day started out like any other day. Frances picks up her charges and heads to school with them. Kids are dropped off, piling out of the minivan like a clown car. That is until six-year-old Katie realizes she forgot her toilet paper rolls for her project. The last thing Frances wants to do is to drive back to Katie’s house, get the missing TP rolls and drive back to school again. But looking at Katie’s desperate little face she knows she will have to go back for them.

Getting back to the child’s house, Frances knocked, but when there was no answer, she figured Anne, Kate’s mom, had gone back to bed or was busy and didn’t hear the knock. She opened the door and saw the bag of toilet paper rolls right inside so she grabbed it and turned to make her return trip to school. That is when she saw Anne laying on the floor.

Frances immediately turned to her asking if she was okay, but suddenly it dawned on her Anne was not alone. And the person she was with was not her husband. Frances isn’t the type of person to blab all over the neighborhood. But even if she doesn’t tell anyone about Anne’s indiscretion, the wheels are in motion to change the dynamics of the neighborhood and their relationships with their families and each other.

Behind closed doors relationships thrive or wither, life changing decisions are made or sometimes made for you. As we learn about all of the neighbors no one may truly be the person they seem to be to the neighbors, even those close to each other. But when two of the children go missing, they will all have to rally together to find them.

Other People’s Houses is a very interesting, often funny book about people who would not necessarily be connected in any way other than buying a house in the same neighborhood. Abbi Waxman gives the reader little gems of character studies throughout the story. Her insight to human nature brings the neighbors to life on her pages. One of my favorites is when one of the kids was thinking about his mom, “His mom never seemed to worry, she was the trellis his little vines twined around.”

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and spend some time with Frances, her family and neighbors. This is the perfect summer read.

This is the first book I have read by Abbi Waxman. It is a gem, so I can’t wait to read her first book, Garden of Small Beginnings next!

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Twenty-one Days – Stellar Work of Historical History

Twenty-one Days – A Daniel Pitt Novel

By Anne Perry

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.

Set in 1910, Twenty-one Days opens with young barrister Daniel Pitt defending a wealthy man of dubious reputation. Murder is the charge and Pitt’s father is associated with the former police officer standing trial. While the young lawyer is smart and clever, he is worried that he is in over his head. To make matters worse, there is another man on trial for killing his wife in a most brutal way and Pitt is needed the next day to take the place of an injured co-worker so he must wrap up the trial the next morning or the accused will then have to start over with a new defense attorney. Good or bad, Pitt had to finish and be in court at the Old Bailey – the most famous court in the British Empire.

He makes it to court, albeit late.  Kitterage is the lawyer in charge; Pitt will be doing as told. Unfortunately things go south in a hurry. The distasteful accused claimed innocence but it seemed unlikely anyone else could have brutally murdered his wife. Not only was she murdered, but horribly disfigured by burning her face and upper torso after death. This trial does not go the way Kitterage and Pitt planned. Their client was quickly found guilty and set to hang in twenty-one days. He was not a pleasant man, as a matter of fact he was most distasteful. But he was entitled to every effort of his two attorneys to win an appeal to keep him from the hangman’s noose.

To further complicate Kitterage and Pitt’s job even further, the accused has countless enemies due to a controversial manuscript he intends to publish. At best it includes damning information of several highly recognizable and influential citizens. Unfortunately, it borders on treason at the highest level, which is alienating him from the men hired to keep him from hanging. Pitt finds himself working day and night to help the man that just might “rip the masks off of people we regard as heroes” – twenty-one days to do the impossible.

This is the first book in award winning author Anne Perry’s new series starring Daniel Pitt, but it is the 33rd book in the Pitt series. It is the first one I’ve read, but I did not feel confused or that I was missing something in the story for not having started with the entire Pitt series. It is easy to see why Perry is an internationally renowned historical novelist. Her intriguing plot, engaging prose and multidimensional characters are skillfully woven into a page turning book that will delight mystery lovers worldwide.  Ms. Perry is second to none when writing historical fiction.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: Watch Me – Must Read Psychological Thriller!

Watch Me

by Jody Gehrman

Professor Kate Youngblood is afraid she was a flash in the pan author. Her debut book was a rousing success that took her places she could have only dreamt about. But after a lackluster follow-up she doubts her ability to ever get that magic back.

The most she can hope for is to keep plugging away on her recent manuscript while teaching uninterested students how to master the craft of writing that she once owned. None of them really show much promise until Sam Grist comes along.

In him, Kate envisions a diamond in the rough that she can help polish to a brilliance that will reflect on her. She needs this to boost her self-esteem as well as give her job security. Without the worry of keeping her job, she can free her mind to recapture the magic she once had as a best-selling author with a dazzling new manuscript.

Sam’s writing is gritting and often violent. He plots more than novels, and if his story turns out the way he envisions it, Kate will play a starring role. Unbeknownst to her, he has been obsessed with her since he read her first novel. How far will he go to make his dreams come true?

Gehrman’s novel is written in alternating first person between Kate and Sam. This brilliant novel allows the reader to step instead each of the characters to experience their thoughts, needs and desires. It is easy to see how Kate becomes entangled with Sam as the lines between teacher and student blur. When Sam steps over the line, will Kate go with him willingly? Will she have a choice?

Watch Me is the most intense, complex, unforgettable psychological thriller I have read in ages. Gehrman expertly draws the reader in like a moth to the flame with the complexity of characters and page turning suspense. I literally read this book in less than 48 hours because I could not put it down.

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. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review