Monday, June 30, 2014

Broken Silence, Karen Rose

 photo 615O1fS2OTL_SL500_AA300_PIaudibleBottomRight1373_AA300__zps15af4a1c.jpg
Synopsis: After a traumatic kidnapping, Daphne's boss insists that she take time off. But she refuses to sit on the sidelines when she meets a six-year-old girl who the police call Angel. Angel hasn't spoken a word since they found her four days ago next to a burned out car, frozen with shock, and not far from the bodies of two adults who may or may not have been her parents.

Joseph knows that helping Angel is exactly what Daphne needs right now. But when Daphne gets Angel to talk, a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel - one that drives Daphne into the darkest corners of her past as she and Joseph track a ruthless killer.

Thoughts: 73 page novella...full of suspense and emotion. Haven't read any of Rose's other books in this series, but I may have to check out more about Daphne in the future.

Sleight Of Paw (Magical Cats #2), Sofie Kelly

 photo n381515_zpsd8ce4c07.jpg

Synopsis: Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson never wanted to be the crazy cat lady. But after Owen and Hercules followed her home, she realized her mind wasn't playing tricks on her-her cats have magical abilities.

When the body of elderly do-gooder Agatha Shepherd is found near Kath's favorite local café, she knows Owen's talent for turning invisible and Hercules's ability to walk through walls will give the felines access to clues Kath couldn't get without arousing suspicion. Someone is hiding some dark secrets-and it will take a bit of furtive investigating to catch the cold-hearted killer.

Thoughts: I love this series....Kathleen's relationship with Hercules and Owen makes great reading for this "cat lady," and adds to the solving of the mystery. Kathleen's friendships with other residents, and her "non romance" with Marcus, are all developing from book to book, giving the reader a reason to look forward to each new installment. 

Secondhand Spirits (A Witchcraft Mystery), by Juliet Blackwell

 photo 3f9aaf0387d359b3ae1e29f54022c51d_zps44507ddc.jpg

Synopsis: Lily Ivory hopes for a normal life when she opens Aunt Cora's Closet. With her magical knack for vintage fashion—she can sense vibrations of the past from clothing and jewelry—her store becomes a big hit.

But when a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area, Lily may be the only one who can unravel the crime. She tries to keep her identity a secret while investigating, but it's not easy—especially under the spells of sexy "mythbuster" Max Carmichael and powerful witch Aidan Rhodes. Will Lily's witchy ways be forced out of the closet?

Thoughts: Read this a few years ago, but when I found the entire series in audiobooks from my library, I decided to start over from the beginning. Lily is such a fun character, and I love the idea of her having a vintage clothes store, where she can match clothes to people based on the vibrations.  Her "familiar," Oscar, is great fun as well.  The mystery is well told, and while the clues were there all along, they weren't always easy to pick out, which for me is a good thing.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Message To Deliver, Jeremiah Peters

 photo a-message-to-deliver_zps684184fd.png

Synopsis: Melissa is on a mission from God. With no memories of her life on Earth, she is immersed in a foreign world, far different from her home in the paradise of Heaven. As Melissa struggles to discover the intended recipient of God’s message, she simply tells everyone she meets the good news of God’s love.

Her new friend Todd Simmons blames abortion providers for the death of his mother. When an abortion clinic opens in the neighborhood, Todd starts down the path of vigilante revenge. 

As Melissa battles the influence of demonic forces, will she be able to save Todd and deliver God’s message or will the dark truth of her past lead her to abandon her mission?

Thoughts: This was one of those "can't put it down" reads. I found myself caring about the characters, whether I liked them or I didn't. About midway through, I thought I had figured out the life that Melissa couldn't remember on Earth, but I was totally off base on that--and was shocked to learn who she actually was when she had been on earth in the past.

While this book is targeted toward adults, I would recommend it for teens as well. The story deals with situations they may find themselves in, and shows them the best way to deal with it. It also reminds all of us that we are loved and forgiven, no matter how weighed down we may be by our sins.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions in this review are strictly my own

One Book In The Grave (Bibliophile Mystery #5), Kate Carlisle

 photo OneBookInTheGrave_zps8f3e6e62.jpg

Synopsis: Brooklyn's chance to restore a rare first edition of "Beauty and the Beast" seems a fairy tale come true-until she realizes the book last belonged to an old friend of hers. Ten years ago, Max Adams fell in love with a stunning beauty, Emily, and gave her the copy of "Beauty and the Beast" as a symbol of their love. Soon afterward, he died in a car crash, and Brooklyn has always suspected his possessive ex-girlfriend and her jealous beau.
Now she decided to find out who sold the book and return it to its rightful owner-Emily. With the help of her handsome boyfriend, Derek Stone, Brooklyn must unravel a murder plot-before she ends up in a plot herself.
Thoughts: Brooklyn gets herself and her family in the midst of yet another murder. This time, however, Brooklyn doesn't seem as scattered and is nearly domesticated. Her relationship with Derek is maturing, as is her character. The confrontation with the killer was one of my favorite scenes of the entire book. Already have the next three books in the series in my audiobook TBR lineup.

Tempest In A Teapot (Teapot Collector Mystery #1), Amanda Cooper

 photo tempestinateapot_zps91bd6f43.jpg

Synopsis: When her fashionable Manhattan restaurant goes under, Sophie Taylor retreats to her grandmother’s cozy shop, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Teahouse, where serenity is steeped to perfection in one of her many antique teapots. The last thing Sophie expects is a bustling calendar of teahouse events, like her old friend Cissy Peterson’s upcoming bridal shower.

Not everyone is pleased with the bride-to-be’s choice of venue—like Cissy’s grandmother, who owns a competing establishment, La Belle Epoque, and has held a long-simmering grudge against Rose for stealing her beau sixty years ago. Tensions reach a boiling point when Cissy’s fiancé’s mother dies while sampling scones at La Belle Epoque. Now, to help her friend, Sophie will have to bag a killer before more of the guest list becomes a hit list.

Thoughts: In spite of loving Victoria Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen series, this new book by her alter ego, Amanda Cooper,was not a favorite of mine. The characters didn't appeal to me, the descriptions were too long and wordy, and I honestly didn't care who the murderer was, as I was simply glad the victim was dead...I despised her THAT early on in the story!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, Courtney Maum

 photo 1aa-book-maum-art-gk3srgjc-10615-muchfunbk-ar_zps9abc8c24.jpg

Synopsis: Where'd You Go, Bernadette meets Beautiful Ruins in this reverse love story set in Paris and London about a failed monogamist's attempts to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love?

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne-when they were first married and deeply in love-has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he's still the man she once loved.

Skillfully balancing biting wit with a deep emotional undercurrent, debut novelist Courtney Maum has created the perfect portrait of an imperfect family-and a heartfelt exploration of marriage, love, and fidelity.

Thoughts: One of the best romantic comedies I've read in a while, with just the right amount of angst. I could feel the pain of both Richard and Anne, as well as of their sweet six-year-old daughter. The couple to whom the painting was sold were very unusual, to say the least. There was also insight into the marriages of Richard's and Anne's parents, as well as others. The basic idea is that making a marriage last is WORK, albeit pleasurable work most days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Midwife's Confession, Diane Chamberlain

 photo TheMidwifesConfession_zps1e0c5346.jpg

Synopsis: Dear Anna,

What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry . . .

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle—her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family—described a woman who embraced life.

Yet there was so much they didn't know.

With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives—and the life of a desperate stranger—with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.

Thoughts: So many secrets between three friends. Every time I thought I knew where the story was headed, it took another turn, and I was surprised yet again. It was written in a very realistic manner, and the characters were all people I would enjoy getting to know. The relationships between Tara, Emerson and their daughters struck several chords with me, taking me back to the days when I had two teenaged daughters in my house.  I laughed, I cried, I felt was an emotional rollercoaster.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Potion To Die For (A Magic Potion Mystery #1), Heather Blake

 photo Hires_A_Potion_to_Die_Forjpg_zpsdab180f2.jpg

Synopsis: As the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched.

But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!

Thoughts: Heather has done it again! Just like in her Wishcraft mysteries, she's created another group of characters who are fun, likeable, and realistic. Carly, her parents, her aunts, and all her friends and acquaintances live in Hitching Post, Alabama,which is a prime location for weddings. Carly runs a potion shop, and her cousin, with whom she has a troubled relationship, runs a hex shop. Carly's ex-fiancee is a cop, and her best friend is married to the local minister. Her mother runs a wedding chapel, and each of her three aunts run a bed and breakfast. You can see the potential for a LOT of stories here!

Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1), Wendy Higgins

 photo SweetEvil_zps4fcba1c9.jpg

Synopsis: What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

Thoughts: A very well written beginning to this trilogy. Anna's mother was an angel, and her father is a demon, making her one of the famed Nephilim. Having good and evil combined makes for some difficult situations for her. I can't wait to read the other two books, just as soon as I can get them from the library.

Murder On The Half Shelf (Booktown Mystery #6), Lorna Barrett

 photo Murder-on-the-Half-Shelf-cover_zpsb9e2adc9.jpg

Synopsis: The town of Stoneham is a haven for bookstores, but it is sadly lacking in bed-and-breakfasts. Fortunately Pippa and Jon Comfort's Sheer Comfort Inn is about to open, and the couple has offered some locals a free night as a trial run. 
But it won't be so easy to sleep after Tricia makes two startling discoveries: Pippa's murdered body in the backyard, and the fact that Pippa's husband, Jon, is actually Harry Tyler, a man Tricia loved--and believed dead--for nearly twenty years. 
Though Harry is the prime suspect, Tricia doesn't believe him capable of murder, even though he's led a life of lies. Especially when she discovers that Pippa had a few secrets of her own--some that may have been worth killing for.

Thoughts: Considering how many bookstores and book related cafes/restaurants there are in Stoneham,New Hampshire, I think I've found my dream residence.  :)  Tricia is a very likeable character, but her sister is a snobby, entitled jerk. In this book, Tricia's on again/off again boyfriend, also the police chief, is putting distance between them to keep townspeople from talking. I wasn't a fan of Mr. Everett and his wife, Grace...they annoyed me just a little too much.  The plot was a good one, but I didn't feel there were enough clues to lead me to the solution before it was written out for me.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Murder Under Cover, Kate Carlisle

 photo b93q-square-400_zps98947458.jpg

Synopsis: When she receives an exquisite copy of the Kama Sutra from her best friend, Robin, to appraise and restore, Brooklyn Wainwright anticipates both recreating a beautiful book and spicing up her love life. But then Robin's apartment is ransacked, and the great guy she recently met is murdered in her bed. Now Robin is the #1 suspect. Obviously, exploring the Kama Sutra's bliss will have to wait until after Brooklyn finds the killer.

Thoughts: Listened to this online, and loved it. Brooklyn and Derek are a great couple, and all the supporting characters are so real and believable. I absolutely LOVE her mother's personality, and was totally shocked at how the mystery played out. I look forward to reading/listening to more of this series. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Making Sense Of The Bible: Rediscovering The Power Of Scripture Today, Adam Hamilton

 photo making-sense-of-the-bible_zpsfc920d71.jpg

Synopsis: Denominations from evangelical to mainline continue to experience deep divisions over universal social issues. The underlying debate isn’t about a particular social issue, but instead it is about how we understand the nature of scripture and how we should interpret it. The world’s bestselling, most-read, and most-loved book is also one of the most confusing. In Making Sense of the Bible, Adam Hamilton, one of the country’s leading pastors and Christian authors, addresses the hot-button issues that plague the church and cultural debate, and answers many of the questions frequently asked by Christians and non-Christians alike.
Did God really command Moses to put gay people to death? Did Jesus really teach that everyone who is not a Christian will be assigned to hell? Why would Paul command women to “keep silent in the church?” Were Adam and Eve real people? Is the book of Revelation really about the end times? Who decided which books made it into the scriptures and why? Is the Bible ever wrong? In approachable and inviting language, Hamilton addresses these often misunderstood biblical themes leading readers to a deeper appreciation of the Bible so that we might hear God speak through it and find its words to be life-changing and life-giving.

Thoughts: This isn't my favorite of his books that I've read, but it is very interesting and informative. I like the fact that he writes about deep things in a simple way, so that "ordinary folks" can grasp what he's talking about. My Monday night Bible study group is studying the book, and we're having some very interesting discussions, and I'm sure there are more to come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What The Cat Saw, Carolyn Hart

 photo fb08243e18c85e362d56d70069ba1ead_zps42777262.jpg

Synopsis: Ever since the death of her fiancé, Nela Farley has found herself plagued by a sixth sense: she understands the thoughts of cats when she looks into their eyes. Nela knows that what she’s experiencing is completely irrational and tries to convince herself that she is simply transferring her own thoughts that she doesn’t want to face.

When her adventurous sister, Chloe, goes on a trip and asks for a favor, Nela welcomes the distraction and agrees to substitute at Chloe’s job at a charitable foundation. Chloe has arranged a place for her sister to stay, but when Nela shows up, she encounters the previous tenant’s cat and gets a flash of thought: “. . . dead . . . dead and gone . . . She loved me . . . board rolled on the second step . . .”

Nela wants to ignore what the cat saw, but the idea that the death of former tenant Marian Grant wasn’t an accident is something she can’t ignore. As Nela begins to do some research into Marian’s life, strange events begin to occur, all seeming to lead back to the Haklo Foundation. But when a detective becomes suspicious of Nela’s sister and a second murder occurs, Nela realizes she’ll have to make the most of her unwanted ability to figure out what’s really going on, before she meets her own untimely end…

Thoughts: I enjoyed most of this audiobook...the interaction of the characters, the idea of the cat "speaking" to Nela telepathically, the budding romance. But the murderer was revealed and captured in the last three minutes, as though the author almost forgot that was the point of the entire novel.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Finding Me, Michelle Knight

 photo 41SYLG4jZfL_SL500_AA300__zpsa9af7850.jpg

Synopsis: Michelle was a young single mother when she was kidnapped by a local school bus driver named Ariel Castro. For more than a decade afterward, she endured unimaginable torture at the hand of her abductor. In 2003 Amanda Berry joined her in captivity, followed by Gina DeJesus in 2004. Their escape on May 6, 2013, made headlines around the world. 
Barely out of her own tumultuous childhood, Michelle was estranged from her family and fighting for custody of her young son when she disappeared. Local police believed she had run away, so they removed her from the missing persons lists fifteen months after she vanished. Castro tormented her with these facts, reminding her that no one was looking for her, that the outside world had forgotten her. But Michelle would not be broken.
In Finding Me, Michelle will reveal the heartbreaking details of her story, including the thoughts and prayers that helped her find courage to endure her unimaginable circumstances and now build a life worth living. By sharing both her past and her efforts to create a future, Michelle becomes a voice for the voiceless and a powerful symbol of hope for the thousands of children and young adults who go missing every year.

Thoughts: What an amazing story! Michelle had a tough life even before she was kidnapped by "the dude," as she calls him, refusing to ever use his name. But even with all that she went through during the decade she was a prisoner, she was able to stay strong and hold on to the hope of getting out alive. Now she has an apartment, is going to culinary school, and is working toward the life she always wanted.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dying In Style (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper #1), Elaine Viets

 photo a4b8830a28cc39e6837eee09ba242429_zps5657b96e.jpg

Synopsis: Mystery shopper Josie Marcus's report about Danessa Celedine's exclusive store is less than stellar, and it may cost the fashion diva fifty million dollars. But Danessa's financial future becomes moot when she's found murdered, strangled with one of her own thousand-dollar snakeskin belts-and Josie is accused of the crime.

Thoughts: I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would at first. The different mystery shopping jobs the main character had to take part in were hilarious...and the murder she had to solve was captivating. I love the interactions between Josie, her mother and her daughter as well.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cloche And Dagger (A Hat Shop Mystery), Jenn McKinlay

 photo clocheanddagger_zps863fff56.jpg

Synopsis: Not only is Scarlett Parker’s love life in the loo—as her British cousin Vivian Tremont would say—it’s also gone viral with an embarrassing video. So when Viv suggests Scarlett leave Florida to lay low in London, she hops on the next plane across the pond. Viv is the proprietor of Mims’s Whims, a ladies’ hat shop on Portobello Road bequeathed to both cousins by their beloved grandmother, and she wants Scarlett to finally join her in the millinery business.

But a few surprises await Scarlett in London. First, she is met at the airport not by Viv, but by her handsome business manager, Harrison Wentworth. Second, Viv—who has some whims of her own—seems to be missing. No one is too concerned about the unpredictable Viv until one of her posh clients is found dead wearing the cloche hat Viv made for her—and nothing else. Is Scarlett’s cousin in trouble? Or is she in hiding?

Thoughts: For me, this book took way too long to actually reach out and grab me...I was halfway done before I really began to care about the characters and the mystery. Hoping that, since this was the debut of the series, the second book will move along a little faster and be more exciting.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Pedigree To Die For, Laurien Berenson

 photo 7B9E44E636-B6E3-4197-9D47-DC645C72BCB97DImg100_zps480b96e1.jpg

Synopsis: The world of show dogs-and their handlers, judges, breeders and owners-provides the principle background in this competent, somewhat drawn-out debut. Melanie Travis, 30, a teacher in Stamford, Conn., and the divorced mother of four-year-old Davey, doesn't own a dog, although her aunt Peg and uncle Max breed standard poodles. One morning Max is found dead of a heart attack on the kennel floor; after the funeral, Peg asks Melanie to find Beau, the kennel's star stud dog that has been missing since the night Max died. Melanie, whose summer job has fallen through, agrees but doesn't necessarily agree with Peg that someone else must have been in the kennel that night. Setting out on the dog-show circuit, ostensibly seeking a world-class mate for her poodle, Melanie meets assorted handlers and breeders, a respected judge and an attractive hunk named Sam Driver who had tried very hard to buy Beau from Max. In fairly predictable girl-sleuth tradition, Melanie also encounters murder and the possibility of romance. A bonanza for ardent dog fanciers and for others, a likable heroine in a smoothly paced romantic mystery. 

Thoughts: Read this for the Big Library Read 2014. I'm usually a big fan of cozy mysteries that include animals--not so much with this one, though. I had to force myself to finish the last ten chapters, and by the end I really didn't even care who the killer was, particularly since it was a character that had almost no part in the story till nearly the end.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Courage To Be Protestant, David Wells

 photo fceddfa2c1b2da421d1f2bd6a0350b42_zps9dd50539.jpg

Synopsis: """It takes no courage to sign up as a Protestant."" These words open this bold new text - the summa of David Wells's critique of the evangelical landscape - leaving no doubt that Wells is issuing a challenge to the modern church. This book is a broadside against ""new"" versions of evangelicalism as well as a call to return to the historic faith, one defined by Reformation solas (grace, faith, and scripture alone), and to a reverence for doctrine. Wells argues that the historic, classical evangelicalism is one marked by doctrinal seriousness, as opposed to the new movements of the marketing church and the emergent church. He energetically confronts the marketing communities and what he terms their ""sermons-from-a-barstool and parking lots and apres-worship Starbucks stands."" He also takes issue with the most popular evangelical movement in recent years - the emergent church. Emergents are postmodern and postconservative and postfoundational, embracing a less absolute, understanding of the authority of Scripture than Wells maintains is required. The Courage to be Protestant is a dynamic argument for the courage to be faithful to what biblical Christianity has always stood for, thereby securing hope for the church's future."

Thoughts: This was a rather disappointing book for me. It was very dry and boring, and just never really grabbed my attention. To be honest, I had trouble staying awake while I was listening to it. This is the fifth or sixth book I've chosen so far this year which has disappointed me...I am going to have to be more selective in the future, I think!

Miss Dimple Suspects, Mignon F. Ballard

 photo n403005_zps5b9b34a6.jpg

Synopsis: With the country in the midst of World War II, you can be sure the small town of Elderberry, Georgia, will pull together to find a missing child. And you can be equally certain that first-grade teacher, Miss Dimple Kilpatrick, will be in the search party—especially since Peggy Ashcroft is one of her students.  Miss Dimple carves out a search path all her own and once again, the sharp-as-a-tack teacher is right on point. But she finds Peggy too sick to walk and it’s too dark for Miss Dimple to find her way back. 

Luckily, she comes upon the home of an elderly artist, Mae Martha, and her young companion, Suzy, who helps ensure that Peggy returns home safe and sound. A few days later, however, Miss Dimple receives a frantic call from Suzy: Mae Martha has been murdered and Suzy is seen as the most likely suspect, because her family is Japanese. Miss Dimple and her fellow teachers Annie and Charlie don't buy it; and set out to prove Suzy's innocence, only to discover danger where they least expect it.

Bringing warmth and nostalgia for small-town life, Mignon F. Ballard continues her "winning" (Publishers Weekly) cozy mystery series with Miss Dimple Suspects. Quick thinking and loyal to a fault, Miss Dimple is an amateur sleuth who will always stand up for what's right.

Thoughts: Love the style of this book, as well as the story. With a main character who is a first grade teacher,I was automatically drawn to it....then add in a missing little girl, a murder mystery AND Christmas, and how could I resist?  Have the audiobook of the next book in the series in my line up from the library.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Forgiving Our Fathers And Mothers, by Leslie Layland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard

 photo Forgiving_Our_Fathers_cvr_img1_zpsc486da8c.jpg

Synopsis: Do you struggle with the deep pain of a broken relationship with a parent? Leslie Layland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard invite you to walk with them as they explore the following questions:

  • What does the Bible say about forgiveness? Why must we forgive at all?
  • How do we honor those  who act dishonorably toward us, especially when those people are as influential as our parents? Can we ever break free from the "sins of our fathers"?
  • What does forgiveness look like in the lives of real parents and children? Does forgiveness mean I have to let an estranged parent back into my life? Is it possible to forgive a parent who has passed away?
Through the authors' own compelling personal stories combined with a fresh look at the Scriptures, Forgiving Our Fathers And Mothers illustrates and instructs in the practice of authentic forgiveness, leading you away from hate and hurt toward healing, hope and freedom.

Thoughts: With Father's Day coming up next week, and my troubled relationship with my father having long been a thorn in my side, I thought this book would be appropriate reading right now. It turned out to be less than helpful for my particular situation, but it did make a great deal of sense. The stories that were included in the book were both sad and hopeful. This would make a good read for anyone who suffered abuse or abandonment by their parents.

A Veiled Deception (A Vintage Magic Mystery), Annette Blair

 photo 65606faa0252dc1748ac65effc7c28da_zps92695968.jpg

Synopsis:Madeira Cutler has worked for a prestigious New York clothes designer for many years. Returning home to Mystick Falls, Connecticut, Maddie becomes embroiled in all the small town and family dynamics as her sister Sherry's arch-enemy Jasmine is all too present at the festivities and a little tied to her future mother-in-law and ultimate snob Deborah Vancortland. When Maddie discovers Jasmine strangled by her sister's bridal veil, Maddie investigates to clear her sister's name. Her understanding of fashion takes an unexpected turn when a ghost appears. The wedding gown, a vintage gown given by Deborah to Sherry, possesses a magical power to make its past all too visible. Can Maddie and the magical wedding dress clear her sister? How will a little touch of magic and a vintage gown transform Maddie's life?

Thoughts:  I'm a huge fan of Annette Blair!  I've read several of her books about witches, which were truly fun reads.  There is a comfortable mix of comedy and suspense in this story, coupled with a murder mystery and wedding planning. Will be picking up more of this series from the library soon!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Emily And Einstein:A Novel Of Second Chances, by Linda Francis Lee

 photo 9781452650357_zps1c4b1a7c.jpg

Synopsis: Emily Portman is an up-and-coming New York City editor whose life is everything she imagined it would be. She has a job she loves and a beautiful Upper West Side apartment with her husband, Sandy. But everything changes in one night when Sandy dies in a tragic accident, and soon Emily is stunned to discover that her marriage was made up of lies. Haunted by distorting memories of the man she lost, Emily's only comfort is a mysterious, scruffy dog named Einstein, who comes into her life at just the right moment--and stands by her side as she confronts her own past, and embarks on finding new and true love.

Thoughts: At first, I thought the book was going to be cheesy....her dead husband's spirit in the dog she decided to adopt. But it was actually much better written than I expected. Both of them are changed by their new life together, and he helps her to move on without him, while allowing himself to move on to eternity.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Curiosity Thrilled The Cat (Magical Cats #1), by Sofie Kelly

 photo AAAAC1aQnFMAAAAAAZoEwQ_zps4e4b24e6.jpg

Synopsis: When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there's something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville's Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical--and she's relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.

Thoughts: A great easy read for the summer. I LOVE mysteries with cats as main characters....and a cat who loves Barry Manilow music is a real plus! Owen can disappear and re-appear at will, and Hercules can walk through doors/walls--always great help with when looking for clues to help solve a murder.

Killing Jesus,by Stephen Mansfield

 photo Killing-Jesus-sm_zps73ba8b1f.png


The World Would Never Be the Same

"The execution of Jesus was a crime born of the streets, the barracks, the enclaves of the privileged, and the smoke-filled back rooms of religious and political power brokers. Its meaning lives in these places still."

It is the most fiercely debated murder of all time. Its symbol is worn by billions of people worldwide. Its spiritual meaning is invoked daily in time-honored rituals. In Killing JesusNew York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield masterfully recounts the corrupt trial and grisly execution of Jesus more than two thousand years ago.

Approaching the story at its most human level, Mansfield uses both secular sources and biblical accounts to bring fresh perspective to the human drama, political intrigue, and criminal network behind the killing of the world's most famous man.

Thoughts: This is one of the most in-depth, graphic accounts of the events of Holy Week that I have ever read. The description of the scourging, for example, was even more graphic and upsetting than the depiction of it in the movie Passion of the Christ. I may well end up buying myself a copy of this one in the near future.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Tudor Conspiracy (Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles #2), by C.W. Gortner

 photo COVERTheTudorConspiracyUS_zpsd2cda5c8.jpg

Synopsis: England, 1553: Harsh winter encroaches upon the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen to popular acclaim and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower. But when she’s betrothed to Philip, Catholic prince of Spain, putting her Protestant subjects in peril, rumors of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person whom many consider to be England’s heir and only hope—the queen’s half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.

Haunted by his past, Brendan Prescott lives far from the intrigues of court. But his time of refuge comes to an end when his foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings him disquieting news that sends him on a dangerous mission. Elizabeth is held captive at court, the target of the Spanish ambassador, who seeks her demise. Obliged to return to the palace where he almost lost his life, Brendan finds himself working as a double-agent for Queen Mary herself, who orders Brendan to secure proof that will be his cherished Elizabeth’s undoing.
Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a mysterious opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit, where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister, nothing—and no one—is what it seems.

Thoughts: This one held my attention better than the first in the series. Both the historical part of the novel and the fictional story of Brendan's life are moving faster and getting more exciting. I know how the historical part works out, but look forward to seeing how Brendan's story will end in the final book of this series.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Tudor Secret (The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles #1), by C.W. Gortner

 photo 5b964d734c70960c264d14fe70433588_zpsa1a431f0.jpg

Synopsis: The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy and, above all, spies.

Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king's brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth's protector, William Cecil, who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.

A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth's quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and an audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies and murder. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret is the first book in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.

Thoughts: Except for the few historical inaccuracies, this is a really good story. I enjoy the personal interactions between Brendan and the various members of the royal household. Looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Heaven Changes Everything: Living Every Day with Eternity In Mind, by Todd and Sonja Burpo

 photo 9780849948411_zps014fc984.jpg

Synopsis: How does a visit to heaven change your life?
Todd and Sonja Burpo’s almost-four-year-old son Colton made an unforgettable trip to heaven and back during the darkest, most stressed-out days of their lives. Times were tough, money was scarce, and the bills, frustrations, and fears were piled high.
How did Colton’s visit to heaven change things for them individually and as a family? And what does any of this mean for you and your life?
Todd, and for the first time ever Sonja and Colton, from their perspectives, share what has happened since the release of their New York Times bestseller, Heaven Is for Real. Through their own experiences, and after hearing from thousands of the more than eight million readers who have shared how the story has affected them, they show you how believing heaven is for real will help you survive hardships here on earth, including the death of a loved one or the loss of a child through tragedy, miscarriage, or even abortion.
Todd, Sonja, and Colton answer questions such as:
·      Is it really okay to struggle with and question God? Really?
·      What hope is there for me if I’ve lost a child or a loved one to death? Will I ever see them again?
·      What does heaven feel like?
·      Can I know for sure that I’m going to heaven?
·      Does God really hear me when I pray?
They also explain how their story can help you keep thoughts of eternity in mind in the midst of your own overly busy, stressed-out lives.
Heaven truly is for real, and believing it changes everything!

Thoughts:  Found this at the library, so decided to give it a look. Unfortunately, it was almost like a third read of Heaven Is For Real.  I was not all that happy with it, and was glad that I got it from the library rather than buying it.

Mistress, by James Patterson and David Ellis

 photo Mistress-James-Patterson-David-Ellis_zps105aa630.jpg

Synopsis:  Ben isn't like most people. Unable to control his racing thoughts, he's a man consumed by his obsessions: movies, motorcycles, presidential trivia--and Diana Hotchkiss, a beautiful woman Ben knows he can never have.

When Diana is found dead outside her apartment, Ben's infatuation drives him on a hunt to find out what happened to the love of his life.

Ben soon discovers that the woman he pined for was living a shocking double life. And now someone is out to stop Ben from uncovering the truth about Diana's illicit affairs.

Thoughts: This was one of the best Patterson and his co-writers have put out in a while. I figured out what was actually going on about the same time that Ben did. The suspense and other emotions were palpable throughout the story.