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Book Review: The Courier – Heart Pounding Thriller

The Courier

By Gordon J. Campbell

To say Gregg Westwood is having a bad day is an understatement. His secure job as a medical supply rep in Japan has been abruptly terminated.  After the bad news, he stops at one of his favorite watering holes, the Officer’s Club on the United States Airforce base in Tokyo. Gregg joins a couple of acquaintances for a drink. This decision will change his life.

These two men purportedly working for the US government’s finance and accounting group are actually members of a US intelligence agency. Over lunch the next day they offer Gregg a job as a courier. It is fast and easy money for what they describe as a mini vacation, traveling to other countries business class, delivering parcels than returning home to his family.

Gregg accepts the offer and is soon off to deliver the package. What he hasn’t bargained for are the assassins on his tail. He has unwittingly become a huge part of stopping an international drug ring, having street thugs attempting to kill him and will be called on to rescue someone he dearly loves before his job is complete. Before the last pages, Gregg will transition from courier to mercenary out of necessity and self-preservation. This is the beginning of his new life.

To say The Courier is a fast-paced thriller does not do it justice. The action never ends and it perfectly compliments the plot. Just when you think Gregg is going to be captured or killed, he lives to fight another day like a modern-day James Bond.

The characters are diverse and engaging. Some of them are decidedly creepy and determined to get a literal boatload of illegal opioids into the US. Adding reality to the character’s profiles brings them to life on the pages.

The Courier is destined to become a best-seller and I envision a blockbuster movie in the future. As we all know the book is always better than then film, so enjoy the masterful story before it hits the big screen. This is the first book I’ve read by Campbell and the first book in a series. I cannot wait to read the next Gregg Westwood boo

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. See it here: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/the-courier-gordon-campbell

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: My Little Crocheted Christmas – Adorable Decorations and Gifts to Crochet

My Little Crocheted Christmas

Festive Projects to Make the Season Bright

By: Doerthe Eisterlehner

Most people that crochet have stashes of yarn. Little bits that are too much to throw away, but not big enough to make a blanket or scarf. My Little Crocheted Christmas will help you clear out your stash by creating adorable Christmas gifts and decorations. From cute little pencil toppers to cozy wrist warmers you can create lovely handmade gifts and decorations with very little yarn.

Each project has beautiful color pictures as well as step-by-step instructions. The difficulty level is clearly listed as well as the list of materials needed.

The patterns are grouped together in sections. The first section is “Sweets” which includes a wreath and Advent Calendar to create. Next comes “Gift Ideas”. These include an adorable stuffed fox, finger puppets and a cute cozy for the coffee lovers on your Christmas list. Lastly is “Decorations”. I love the little Santas and snowmen. They will make a cute addition to a wrapped gift and then can be used as ornaments after the gift has been opened.

There are bells and ornaments as well as an entire crocheted Nativity scene. It would be perfect for small children to play with during the holiday season and perhaps all year. When my children were young, they wanted to touch and play with Christmas decorations.  We always had a few they could play with because that keeps everyone happy. The Nativity set is perfect for youngsters to touch and play with – nothing breakable and just the right size for small hands.

Eisterlehner’s book is just what crocheters need to kick off the holiday season and clear out their stashes. There are projects that range from beginner to experienced, with a wide variety of projects to choose from.

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: Paper Animals in Action – Make a Moving Menagerie for your Kids

Paper Animals in Action

By: Rob Ives

How would you like to create a paper Flying Pig for your kids? You can create that and many more animals with Ives’ Paper Animals in Action. By using household items like clothes pins and paperclips along with the model parts included in the book, you will love the menagerie of moving paper animals you can create to entertain your children or grandchildren.

By opening and closing the clothes pins, your child will be able to make a goose fly, a penguin flap his wings and a dog nod his head. There are twelve different animals, with step-by-step instructions for adults to create them.

The instructions are clear and easy to follow. By reading through the instructions as well as looking at the step-by-step color illustrations, adults will have no problem making each of the paper animals. I suggest surprising your youngster with the completed animal unless he or she is extremely patient.

Each animal will have to be cut out, scored and folded. Paperclips need to be bent and glue has to set. While the construction is not difficult, I know my grandchildren would be hopping around “helping” and asking when it would be done. They do not have the patience to wait for glue to dry, nor should they be expected to at their ages.

My suggestion would be to create a few of these adorable paper animals after your child goes to bed. He or she will be delighted to wake up to a zoo of moving animals to play with.

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: Tracking Game – Latest in the Timber Creek K-9 Series

Tracking Game

A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery

By Margaret Mizushima

Deputy Mattie Cobb is called away from a community dance and the arms of Cole, the man she has fallen in love with, to investigate a suspicious fire. Upon reaching the scene, Mattie and her K9 partner, Robo, find something far more sinister. One of the locals is found dead next to his burning vehicle and another respected member of the community has a head injury after being hit with shrapnel from the explosive fire. To make matters worse, they soon discover this was no accident.

So begins the trail of lies and deceit that Mattie and Robo have to follow to bring the criminals to justice. Other crimes are revealed which leads to the Timber Creek sheriff’s department bringing Glenna Dalton, the new wildlife manager in their area, into the picture. It will take all of them working against the clock to prevent another killing, not to mention apprehending the person or persons responsible for all of these crimes.

Meantime, Mattie and Cole’s relationship has heated up. Not wanting to push her, Cole is patient but open about his love for her. Mattie knows she loves Cole, but cannot say the words he so longs to hear. Her family history has built a wall around her heart. She truly loves Cole and must learn to move beyond her past to take steps towards their future.

Tracking Game is a fast-paced mystery. The plot unfolds beautifully throughout the story, urging the reader to read just one more chapter late into the night.  I love mysteries with several viable suspects and this book delivers. Mizushima gives us suspicious locals and outsiders of the community. Any one of them could be the killer, but you will have to wait until the last chapters for the bad guys to be satisfyingly revealed.

This is the second book I’ve read in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series. Previously I read Burning Ridge, the first book in the series. Somehow, I missed the other books, but I did not feel confused by not having read the entire series in order. Tracking Game reads fine as a stand-alone. But if you love the plot and characters as much as I do, you will undoubtedly want to read all of the books 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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: False Flag in Autumn

False Flag in Autumn

By Michael Bowen

Josie Robideaux Kendall, Louisiana born and bred, has had aspirations for years to work in the White House. She has jumped into everything surrounding politics in Washington DC with both feet in the meantime. She is a “hard-nosed political apparatchik* who can make things happen”. She knows who to call and what to do to make things happen or not happen – depending upon who she is working for. But her usual job of getting someone elected has taken a turn.

There is some convincing evidence that a heavy hitting politician used a spin on a murder that he most likely committed himself to get elected. Rafe, Josie’s husband, encounters the revelation from one if his cronies in DC so she knows it is credible. Now what will she do with the information?

So begins the heart-pounding twists of events that takes Josie from coast to coast. Not only is she working to get the probable murderer out of office, Josie steps into a bigger situation that will have global impact. Not only is the President of the United States a target, but she is now on the assassin’s radar. Putting herself in mortal danger isn’t what she bargained for, but she has never shirked her duty or compromised her convictions.

False Flag in Autumn is an interesting romp in politics. It gives outsiders like me a fascinating glimpse inside a world that I will never be a part of but find interesting. The action heats up as Josie pulls out all the stops, no matter what the personal price, to save the President.

Michael Bowen, recently retired from a lengthy career as a trial lawyer. He is a prolific and critically acclaimed author of 19 books. They range from thrillers such as False Flag in Autumn to political satire. This is the first book I have read by Bowen and thoroughly enjoyed it.

*Yes dear readers I had no idea what a political apparatchik meant so – per Google: “An apparatchik is someone who works for a government or a political party and who always obeys orders” – now we both know (unless you already did) if so, kudos!

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Someone to Kiss My Scars – Confronts Social Issues Head On

Someone To Kiss My Scars

By Brooke Skipstone

Disclaimer: Someone To Kiss My Scars is a YA/Adult novel with graphic violence and sex. While it is integral the story, it may be disturbing to some readers.

Hunter does not know who he is. With the exception of a few vague memories, he knows nothing of his past except for what has been told to him by his aloof father. His mother and younger brother died in a car accident and almost everything Hunter and his father had was burned beyond recognition in a storage unit fire. Lately he has been remembering bits and pieces of his former life. But those memories come with a price.

He is not only remembering his past, but he has visions about other people. They come to him in a painful blast. The only way he can stop the pain is to type the stories he hears in his head. Unfortunately, he does not receive happy memories. All of the stories are filled with pain and anger. But the odd thing is, once he receives a memory, the person that held it is now free of the event.

He and Jazz, a girl he becomes friends with at his new school, become even closer when they find a common bond in their pain. Both of them self-harm to get through the events in their past and present. The two of them become stronger together and begin to heal while helping others that have been their enemies become whole again. Is Hunter willing to pay the price to finally know about his past?

Ms. Skipstone meets the social issues of teens and young adults head on. Many taboo topics are confronted and discussed by the characters in this powerful work of fiction. Per the author “Fifty percent of women in Alaska experience sexual violence in their lifetime…” and in the US, “…one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen…”. These are staggering statistics. The author presents these very difficult topics, as well as others in novel form to bring attention to how this affects those involved as well as the people that love them.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: K-9 Cop – Fast Paced Mystery for Tweens, YA and Adults

K-9 Cop

The Dreck Report Case #1

By Erna Mueller

When K-9 Lieutenant Spencer Watley is killed in the line of duty, he is surprised to learn he can’t get straight into heaven. He knows he hasn’t been the nicest guy in the world, but come on; he’s spent his life as a cop, putting bad guys behind bars. He soon finds out the he will be going back to earth in body of his K-9 dog, with a mission to help Justin Andrews.

Justin is a young man adrift. Since his mother died, the 14-year-old has had trouble dealing with everyday life. His 16-year-old sister is basically parenting him because his dad has thrown himself into is work and is rarely home. Justin is a brilliant kid, so much so, he has skipped two grades. But this leaves him with few friends and an absent father when he needs support the most. To make matters worse, he is in an accident. Now Justin cannot walk without braces, further ostracizing him from his schoolmates.

When his shaggy guardian angel shows up, Justin can’t believe his dad got him a dog. But soon he realizes that this is no ordinary dog. Justin accidentally happens upon a plot to frame his father for a crime, Spencer will be needed to help put the bad guys away and keep Justin and his family safe.

This fast-paced, action packed novel is great for tweens, YA and adults. It is entertaining and amusing. The clues all lead up to the final scenes where the good guys prevail. Honestly, the entire time I read the last chapters I was picturing this as a movie – think Home Alone where the kid outsmarts the bad guys with hilarious antics – all the while getting the jump on the bad guys and making the readers chuckle and outright laugh.

K-9 Cop is the first in what I can only hope is a long series of adventures featuring Spencer and Justin. I highly recommend this book for kids and grownups alike.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.  Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Fake – Mystery Ripped From Today’s Headlines

Fake

By John DeDakis

White House Correspondent Lark Chadwick has seen more than her fair share of dead bodies. But when Rose Gannon, the First Lady of the United States drops dead during an interview with Lark, it is beyond horrific. It was just bad luck that Lark was present at the time of Mrs. Gannon’s collapse, but she didn’t have to snap a picture of the President trying to revive his wife to no avail. Once the picture hit the papers, Lark’s life became more complicated than even she could have imagined.

Soon she again finds herself on the front pages, this time not as a reporter, but as the subject of a national controversy. She is accused of having an affair with President Gannon. Becoming a victim of the fake news stories her former colleagues post in the papers and on social media about her, losing her job in the story’s aftermath. Lark is determined to find out who leaked personal information which became the basis of the fake news story.

Much like the headlines of today, the stories bring strong feelings about Lark from friends, strangers and colleagues. Many feel as if they know the story and Lark without getting the facts. Becoming the judge, jury and jailer, some of the general public hates Lark without ever meeting her. Will someone take matters into their own hands?

Lark’s story could be taken from today’s headlines. She is merely doing her job to the best of her ability. Getting caught up in the court of public opinion to the point of being in danger is the last thing she imagined for her life.

DeDakis brilliantly combines the current trend of the general population’s personal feelings about public figures as well as the personal side from the accused point of view. The real consequences to the lies that have been published change lives.

The characters in Fake are brought to life in the realistic setting DeDakis creates. From the insider look into the lives of the White House press contingency to the appointments with a grief counselor, the characters are interesting and quickly become real to the reader. He touches on many hot topics in addition to the fake news thread that runs throughout. Sex abuse, the ethical decisions journalists make and the personal effects half-truths have on the characters are all brought to the reader to think about long after the last pages are read.

I love a book that is current and relevant in addition to telling an interesting story. Fake makes the reader think about the nightly news in a different, more personal way. The mystery of who leaked personal information was an additional layer of interest. Hopefully we will see more of Lark Chadwick in the future.

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 © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Entangled Forest and Tranquility Adult Coloring Books

Entangled Forest Coloring Book

By: Angela Porter

And

Tranquility Coloring Book

By: Diane Pearl

Entangled Forest brings you thirty-one pages of designs centered in nature and the forest will relax you and help you unwind by coloring the flowers, birds, trees and animals like you have never seen before. By using crayons, colored pencils, paint or markers each page will come to life with your unique spin and style.

Tranquility has been created for the “sophisticated colorist”. Featuring thirty-one perforated designs that are a little less detailed than Entangled Forest, but complex enough to become individual works of art on every page. They allow your creativity to shine, all the while giving you time to relax and recharge.

I looked up adult coloring on the internet and list upon list of links were available. Clicking on several, both news sites such as Huffpost and private sites like Bebrainfit.com are all touting the benefits of stress relief and relaxation. If you have children or grandchildren, you might be coloring with them in kid’s coloring books. It is fun and the perfect way to have some quiet time with them, but I highly recommend adult coloring books due to the complexity of the design for you to try. These two books are perfect examples of books that appeal to adult level creativity.

Both of these books have a place in your life. I suspect your children have several different coloring books and choose the one they feel like coloring any particular day. Adults also have days they want to color smaller designs and days larger, quicker designs are best. I also suggest giving them for gifts to stressed out friends and relatives. But don’t let that limit you – I also gift coloring books for Christmas and birthdays with a colorful collection of pens and pencils just for fun.

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: The Book Charmer – Sweet as Southern Tea Infused With Magic

The Book Charmer

By Karen Hawkins

Dove Pond, North Carolina is a dying town. Businesses have moved out taking many of the residents with them. Sarah, a member of one of the founding families is desperate to save her town. When she finds out a new family is moving into a house on her block, she is absolutely certain that Grace, one of the newcomers, is going to be Dove Pond’s salvation. She doesn’t know how or why, but Sarah is certain and is willing to do anything to help.

Sarah and her sisters are known for their ability to see, hear and feel things other people cannot. As the librarian in town, Sarah hears books. They quietly let her know who in town needs to read them. Not everyone believes her, but even after arguing that they don’t want or need the book, they always end up reading and benefiting from the knowledge or help they receive. Grace will be no exception.

Grace has moved to the town because her beloved foster mother, Mama G is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and her doctor felt going back to the town she grew up in would help slow down the progression of the disease. Giving up a great paying job, she packs up Mama G and her niece Daisy and moves into a rental home in the tiny town. Grace is determined to stay one year, and then go back to her old life. The problem is, Grace’s sister, recently died, leaving her daughter in Grace’s care – so now she is the mother of an angry child instead of a doting aunt.

Working for the mayor, Grace is expected to be in charge of a huge festival that the cash strapped Dove Pond does not have the resources to pull off. Can she actually save a town she doesn’t plan to stay in longer than a year? Grace needs the support of the longtime residents, and be able to work with them, especially Sarah. Grace is overloaded to say the least, and totally unsure of herself. She is a caregiver, an aunt turned parent and working for a mayor who cares more about fishing than his city. To add to her troubles, she is uncomfortably attracted to her new neighbor, Travis. Grace has way too much on her plate, and to top it off, Mama G has made several mysterious predictions about ghosts and Grace’s future.

 The Book Charmer is tale as sweet as southern tea and infused with a sprinkling of magic. The serious thread of Mama G battling Alzheimer’s is very true to life. The advice from the kindly town doctor and Travis, who even while fighting his own demons, takes time to be kind and help Mama G is heartwarming. This is a beautiful work of women’s fiction that brought tears to my eyes more than once.

Karen Hawkins is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She has published several books before The Book Charmer, but this is the first one I have read. I am delighted to find out it is the second one in the series, and can’t wait to read the first novel as well as anxiously anticipate the next one in the series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Bookish First in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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