Tag Archives: Books

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Complicit – Riveting Thriller

Complicit: by Amy Rivers

Forensic psychologist Kate Medina quit her job with the correctional department, fleeing from the job and life she loved after a brutal attack. Settling back in her hometown, Kate finds a job as the psychologist in the high school she and her sister attended. Helping teens has helped her, but the past is never far from her mind.

When one of the girls she is counseling disappears, Kate is determined to help the students deal with the trauma of the event as well as helping the police with the investigation. But digging into the life of the missing girl unwittingly puts her in danger. The lead detective on the case, coincidentally her ex-boyfriend, Roman Aguilar, contacts Kate to see if her counselling sessions hold any clues about the missing student. Kate is compelled to help, but her unresolved feelings for Roman keep getting the way.

As the investigation unfolds, it is evident that the missing student is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a sinister group behind the missing girl’s disappearance that involves sex trafficking, kidnapping and murder. Will Kate and Roman find those responsible before one or both of them die? And, as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, her father is diagnosed with a terminal illness. This results in a visit from her long absent sister, who grudgingly appears at the family home when she hears he is sick.

Complicit is a fast-paced thriller and full of twists and turns that exposes the underbelly of human trafficking that is happening in the United States today. I literally could not put it down. The realistic characters and realization that these events could be pulled from today’s headlines is chilling. I loved the plot and characters, each of them fully developed and their transition thorough the pages was realistic and believable.

I highly recommend Complicit. Ms. Rivers, in addition to being an outstanding author, is the Director for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and has worked with law inforcement on cases much like this work of fiction. By bringing the issue of human trafficking to light, she is helping others speak up and hopefully get the help they need. 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 from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Still Crazy – Debut Fiction

By Judy Prescott Marshall

By Judy Prescott Marshall

Julie Holliday is certain her husband Dan is cheating on her. Again. She is still in love with him, and prays that he will stop his philandering, but time and time again she finds evidence that he is involved with other women. She begins to plan her escape. Heartbroken, she sells her beloved bakery and slowly liquidates her rental properties.

Leaving the man she has loved since they were young is not easy, but she cuts all ties with friends and family so that he cannot find her. Driving without a destination, she comes upon a small town in Rhode Island and soon makes it her home. Using her savings to purchase a large home, she finds a local handyman to help her renovate it. He is like a father to her. The transformation to an inn makes Julie happy, but never brings her peace. She is still in love with the man she left behind.

Still Crazy is a book of hope and rejuvenation. The characters grow and mature throughout the novel. The setting is ideal. The serenity of a small New England town is the perfect backdrop for healing a heartache and building a new life.

This is the first novel by Judy Prescott Marshall. She is the sauthor of a sef-help non-fiction book: Be Strong Enough. Still Crazy is the first book in a series, the second, The Inn in Rhode Island, will be at your local bookstores soon. I recommend Still Crazy to fans of Hallmark movies and books as well as onyone who enjoys a strong woman’s story of survival.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received an ARC for free from Bookish and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Eternal – Must Read Historical Fiction

By Lisa Scottoline

Marco, Sandro and Elisabetta’s carefree lives as teenagers is about to change. Still in high school, one dreams of becoming a writer, one dreams of becoming a scholar and the other dreams of becoming more than the cyclist his father wants him to become. The love triangle between the three creates a bit of tension and a lot of playful flirting. But it is 1937, and unbeknownst to them, Italy is on the verge of war. This will dash their dreams and take away everything, even loved ones, in a tragic turn of fate.  

Survival is paramount. It is growing harder to find essentials as the war begins. While Marco and Elizabetta are struggling, things are exponentially harder for Sandro. He and his family are Jewish. When the Nazis arrive, many in their community will lose their jobs, homes and lives. The three friends are thrust apart by the war and by the choices they have made. At the beginning of the novel, the reader knows that at least one of them has survived. But what about the other two? You must read it to find out.

The plot is an engaging mix of true history and fiction. It reads like a novel, fast-paced and very interesting. But the underlying chill of the war, death and devastation is very real both in life and on the page. It is very sobering.

The characters are interesting and not always likeable, but I feel that is the author’s intent. Life doesn’t always have a happily ever after, but the characters growth and changes during the course of the war are realistic. The ending is very satisfying, staying with the reader long after the last pages are read.

Ms. Scottoline has skillfully taken us back into these dark times in Italy. She has carefully researched, bringing the reader into the events that happen with her realistic characters. Be sure to read her author’s note at the end of the book. There she differentiates between fiction and fact in the novel. Most of the characters are fiction. She states: “But much of what transpires in these pages is true to the past”. It is heart wrenching to read about Jewish families being rounded up and sent to Auschwitz like cattle, especially knowing that this is history, not fiction. But it is also a story that must be told so it is never forgotten or repeated.

I am a huge fan of Lisa Scottoline, having read many of her books. She is the best-selling, award winning author of over 30 books, and is known for her fabulous legal thrillers. There is a reason she is the beloved of many. Eternal is different than her other books, but is not to be missed; I highly recommend it.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Something In The Water Book One: Drowning by Dean Comyn

The newly formed task force, MCU2 (Major Crime Unit), is in charge of keeping a visiting Health Ministry virologist, Dr. Nicholas Veda, and his date safe while they are in the UK. Now they are both missing. Did they slip away or is this a kidnapping? Dr. Veda and his date disappeared from the Opera House in London without a trace, leaving Chief Inspector John C. Wayne of the MCU2 in a bad situation. Wayne and his team have to find Veda before his disappearance becomes an international incident. Not to mention could easily blow up all hopes of anyone in authority taking MCU2 seriously.

Wayne has assembled his squad carefully, recently adding Canadian Charles Burns to his roster. Even though Burns is a Training Specialist in his previous job, he is told to watch and listen, but not to involve himself in discussions or missions other than just observing. His resolve lasts a New York minute when Burns could not help but insert himself into the mission. Soon bullets are flying, the CIA becomes involved and Burns is playing a huge role in attempting to find Veda.

If you are a fan of James Bond, you will love Charles Burns. He doesn’t have the luck Bond has with ladies, nor the gadgets, but does have the quick thinking, fast action of Ian Fleming’s beloved secret agent.

This fast-paced thriller is full of page-turning action. The twists and turns take the reader on a breathtaking ride. I read it in a few days, because putting it down during the action was impossible. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers, action and plot twists. It is exciting to know this is the first book in a series, so readers will see Burns and Wayne again.

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. You can find it here: Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: The Scorpion’s Tail

By Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Rookie FBI Special Agent Corrie Swanson is assigned a case involving someone trying to dig up relics from a ghost town in a remote region of New Mexico. She is dispatched to meet up with the local sheriff, Homer Watts, who has been wounded in a shootout with the looter. The biggest concern is the dead body that was dug up along with the relics – one of them is extraordinary.

Corrie calls in Nora Kelly, a senior curator at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute to help sort out the relics associated with the body, which just may have been a long-ago murder. Before long, Corrie and Nora discover more than they have bargained for. More than a few people will go to any length to keep anyone from discovering the secrets held by the corpse.

This fast-paced thriller kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The characters are interesting, each of them brings his or her own special knowledge to the table. Corrie is growing as an FBI agent, but not without making mistakes along the way. It was fun to have a guest appearance from one of Preston and Child’s other series pop up unexpectedly.

I am a huge fan of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s writing. The fast-paced, intriguing thrillers are their specialty, and this series is one to follow and enjoy. The Scorpion’s Tail is the second book in the Nora Kelly & Corrie Swanson Series. I suggest reading the first book in the series (Old Bones), which was excellent as well, but it isn’t absolutely necessary as The Scorpion’s Tail reads as a standalone novel. I enjoyed both of them immensely.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

Spence and Pru live a quiet life. He is an accomplished Shakespeare professor at Columbia in New York. She once aspired to become a lawyer, but after meeting Spence, she forfeited that life for becoming the professor’s wife and the mother of his daughter. Pru was also an orthodox Jew, that lapsed when she left home.

Spence has a son, Arlo, from a previous relationship. Arlo visited a few times each year, but never lived with them longer than a week or two. Living a nomadic life with his mother, he had recently been living in a commune in Delaware. His mother’s greatest aspiration was to poop in every state. At fifteen, Arlo chose to live with his father and Pru. Life was different from the nomadic life he lived with his mother, most notably schooling, or lack thereof. That was about to change, even if Arlo had learning disabilities – it did not matter if he liked it or not.

As time goes on, Pru realizes Spence is becoming forgetful. The Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not unexpected. It is devastating nonetheless. Everyone’s life changed along with Spence as he deteriorated. The question is, will Pru and this children, Sarah and Arlo be able to hold on to the fragile family structure they have built or will it collapse?

Morningside Heights is interesting and true to life. Having had members of my family stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease, I understand the tumultuous path the characters must travel. The characters are interesting and I love the way Henkin allows Arlo to grow and change over the course of the book.

This is the first book I have read by Joshua Henkin. He is the author of multiple short stories as well as several novels. One of which, The World Without You, is the 2012 winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for American Jewish Fiction.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Crime of the Ancient Marinara

By Stephanie Cole

American Nell Valenti is hired to develop a world-class cooking school requiring a move to Cortona, Italy. She is now living and working in a villa owned by renowned Chef Claudio Orlandini. His Cornell-educated son, Pete, as well as a cast of female family members also reside at the villa.

Nell has her work cut out for her. The Orlandini family is quirky and set in their ways. Trying to organize them is like herding turtles, one or more of them frequently wander off to do his or her own thing creating chaos instead of the organization Nell is striving to achieve.

The first class of students in the cooking school is a group of Americans that have arrived excited to learn the recipe for Chef Orlandini’s famous marinara. It is to be the highlight of the final day. Unfortunately, an unruly chef and the murder of one of the Americans waylays any plans that Nell made.

Unsatisfied with the suspect the police have in custody, Nell begins her own investigation with a man she thinks is a private detective – but is he really? Between the lies, secrets and a language barrier Nell is ready to throw in the towel – but can she ever forgive herself if someone gets away with murder?

Quirky characters fill the pages of this mystery. The chef is over the top Italian and his son is a sexy olive pressing hunk. The Orlandini women range from nuns to a talented sous chef. The Americans add an interesting mix along with the elements of surprise. Almost all of the book is set at the villa. I would have liked more adventures away from the villa, to give me more of the taste of Italy. Other than the problems in communication between characters speaking Italian and others speaking English, the setting could have been anywhere. I wanted descriptions of the town, really bringing the reader into the beautiful country of Italy.

Crime of the Ancient Marinara is the second book in this cozy mystery series. I did not read the first book and was a bit lost in the first few chapters as to the relationships between the characters. Overall, this was an enjoyable cozy mystery.

Author Stephanie Cole is also known as Shelley Costa. She has been nominated for both an Edgar and an Agatha Award as Shelley Costa. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Cole or Ms. Costa.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Origami Animals – Fun for Kids and Adults

Origami Animals

By Dover Publications

Origami Animals features twenty designs, eight of which are easy to make. If you are an expert or new to Origami you will enjoy this book. From kittens to caterpillars the step-by-step instructions will help you fold the included origami paper into over a hundred animals.

After you get comfortable with the folds and following the directions, there are more complex animals to create. Turtles, owls and even a crab will delight your children after following a few simple steps.

The book also included 200 sheets of origami paper, cut to the exact size needed. Rich solid colors as well as beautiful floral and geometric designs are included. One of my favorites is a butterfly/floral pattern that would be lovely made into a butterfly.

I recommend this book for novice folders. Children could easily learn to create the easier animals, perhaps with a little guidance from an adult until they get comfortable making the folds.

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