Friday, April 19, 2019

Book Review - Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Book Synopsis
The only thing certain is change—even in a place as steady as Perry, Alabama, on a street as old as Glory Road.

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants—operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo. When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions—particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future. Once again, Jessie feels her protected and predictable life shifting.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

 

 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


My Review
Glory Road is the story of three women.  Jessie has moved back to her hometown in South Alabama, and is back living on the road where she grew up.  She has a small gardening business, and two unexpected men who intrigue her -- Ben, her high school sweetheart, and Sumner, who has hired her to do flowers for his daughter's wedding.  Jessie's daughter, Evan, is 14 years old and has a new interest in Ben's son Nick.  Meanwhile, Jessie's mother, Gus, is starting to show signs of forgetfulness.   Everything is changing for these women - three generations of one family.

This is my third read by Lauren K. Denton.  I loved her previous books, The Hideaway and Hurricane Summer.  I am from the deep south, Georgia born and raised, and I cannot think of another current writer who captures small town southern life quite as perfectly as Ms. Denton.   From the sound of peas being shelled into an aluminum tub, to a screen door closing, wisteria growing in profusion, and an old rocking chair with peeling paint on a front porch -- it is all here.

I really loved Glory Road.  I loved the sense of place, the feeling of summer (the book takes place over the course of a summer), and especially the characters.  Jessie is a warm, likable, relatable character.   She wants something new in her life, but she's not quite sure what (or who!).  She wants to protect her daughter and her mother but everything is changing.

The storytelling is just perfection.  For instance, Gus is described succinctly:  "My mother had obsessions, but at least they were harmless - potted succulents, Johnny Cash, and peach cobbler" (p. 2). 

The book is told from the viewpoint of Jessie (most chapters), Evan, and Gus.  The author does a fine job of developing and delineating characters.  The sense of southern voice is strong in this novel;  it would adapt well to a movie or short-run TV series.

I recommend Glory Road as a summer read.   Fans of southern fiction will especially enjoy this book!   Five stars from me.

Author Bio
Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, THE HIDEAWAY, was a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, HURRICANE SEASON, released in spring of 2018, is a USA Today bestseller. GLORY ROAD will release in March, 2019.
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Connect with Lauren

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Sifting Through Clues (A Cookbook Nook Mystery) by Daryl Wood Gerber

Book Synopsis


The Agatha Award–winning author of Wreath Between the Lines returns to the Cookbook Nook, where culinary mysteries are giving everyone food for thought . . .

Book clubs from all over have descended on Crystal Cove to celebrate the library’s Book Club Bonanza week, and Jenna Hart has packed the Cookbook Nook with juicy reads and tasty cookbooks. But she’s most excited about spending an evening with the Mystery Mavens and their moveable feast, when they will go from house to house to share different culinary treats and discuss the whodunit they’re all reading. It’s all good food and fun for the savvy armchair detectives, until one of the members of the group is found murdered at the last stop on the tour.

As if that weren’t enough to spoil her appetite, Jenna discovers that all the evidence points to her friend Pepper as being the guilty party. And with Pepper’s chief-of-police daughter too close to the case to be impartial, Jenna knows she’ll have to step in to help clear her friend’s name before a bitter injustice sends her to jail. Sifting through the clues, Jenna unearths any number of possible culprits, but she’ll have to cook up a new way to catch the killer before Pepper’s goose is cooked . . .

Includes tasty sweet and savory recipes!

My Review
Sifting Through Clues is a cozy mystery featuring Jenna Hart.  Jenna owns the Cookbook Nook, a bookstore in Crystal Cove, California.  As she is busy planning her wedding, she also is working at the Book Club Bonanza Week in her town.  When one of the other shop owners is murdered at a book club event, Jenna works to solve the mystery. 

This is my first read in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series.  I was interested in the book because I collect and sell vintage cookbooks online, and owning a cozy brick and mortar cookbook bookstore is one of my dream jobs!  I absolutely loved the cookbook mentions and food talk in this book.  It is a foodie's delight, and anyone who loves cookbooks will particularly enjoy this series.

Jumping in at the 8th book of the series, I did go back and forth to the (very helpful!) cast of characters page many times as I tried to learn everyone's identity and relationships.  I definitely would recommend reading this series in order, as it has a very large cast of characters and I think it would be helpful to know their back stories from the beginning of the series.

I really liked Jenna.  She was a smart amateur detective and a likeable character.   I enjoyed getting to know her fiance Rhett, her friends, and the other shop owners too.  She even has a lovable cat named Tigger.

I especially loved the setting of Crystal Cove.   The author does a wonderful job with descriptions and establishing a strong sense of place.  I found myself Googling to see if Crystal Cove is a real place, because it seemed like somewhere I would enjoy visiting.  I found it is a fictional town, although there is a real Crystal Cove State Park in California.

The mystery was well done and kept me guessing!   The book moves quickly and would make a great weekend or vacation read.


I recommend Sifting Through Clues for fans of cozy mysteries and especially for anyone who loves cookbooks or foodie books.




Author Bio
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries as well as the French Bistro Mysteries.  As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Author Links

VISIT MY WEBSITE: www.darylwoodgerber.com

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Amazon: http://bit.ly/Daryl_Wood_Gerber_page

Purchase Links AmazonB&N  – Kobo Google Play



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Friday, April 12, 2019

Book Review - Nothing Is Forgotten by Peter Golden

Book Synopsis
From the beloved author of Comeback Love and Wherever There Is Light, comes “a sweeping tale full of humor and heartbreak” (Karin Tanabe, author of The Diplomat’s Daughter) about the life-changing journey of a young man who travels from New Jersey to Khrushchev’s Russia and the beaches of Southern France to discover long-hidden secrets about his heritage.

In 1950s New Jersey, teacher Michael Daniels—or Misha Danielov to his doting Russian-Jewish grandmother—is at loose ends, until he becomes the host of a nightly underground radio show. Not only does the show become a local hit because of his running satires of USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev, but half a world away, it picks up listeners in a small Soviet city.

There, with rock and roll leaking in through bootlegged airwaves, Yulianna Kosoy—a war orphan in her mid-twenties—is sneaking American goods into the country with her boss, Der Schmuggler.

But just as Michael’s radio show is taking off, his grandmother is murdered. Why would anyone commit such an atrocity against such a warm, affable woman? She had always been secretive about her past and, as Michael discovers, guarded a shadowy ancestral history. In order to solve the mystery of who killed her, Michael sets out for Europe to learn where he—and his grandmother—really came from.


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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

My Review

Nothing is Forgotten begins in the late 1950's in South Orange, New Jersey.  Michael "Misha" Daniels is a teenager looking for direction in his life.  He begins working on a small radio show, which eventually becomes popular locally ... and overseas in Russia.  After his beloved grandmother is murdered at the family candy store in 1964, Misha travels overseas to find answers about her past -- from Germany to Russia to France, and eventually to Atlanta and Los Angeles.   His story intertwines with that of Yulianna "Yuli" Kosoy, a war orphan in Russia.

 

I was initially interested in reading this novel because of the time period -- most of the book takes place between 1964 - 1965.  I love historical fiction and retro pop culture, and my curiosity was piqued.

 

This is such a fascinating and complex book -- it is a love story, a family history, a mystery, and a spy thriller all at once.  It takes place in an everyday town in the late 1950's to mid-1960's, but also deals with the tragic history of the Holocaust and its effect on a family.

 

There are so many twists and turns in the novel -- just when I thought I had everything figured out something else happened.  I found this a really compelling book and basically read in all my spare time for a couple of days because I was so curious to see where the book would go next.

 

The writing is absolutely beautiful -- the descriptions are so vivid and the historical details are perfect.  I have not read Peter Golden's books before, but will certainly look for his other novels now.

 

I am very impressed with the sweep of the book.  The author captures Americana and 1960's life so well, with details about candy in the family shop, a girlfriend compared to a Barbie doll, and descriptions like "this nondescript street of Colonials with one-car garages and two-family houses, in a small New Jersey town" (p. 216).

 

Most of all the mystery of this book is one that kept me guessing as a reader.  It is fascinating because it covers so much ground, not just from America to Russia to France, but also a young Russian man who loves the Beatles, a CIA man who knew JFK, a surprising meeting with Picasso.

 

I have already promised to loan my copy of Nothing Is Forgotten to my best friend with the condition that we talk about it after he finishes reading.   This is a book you will want to share and discuss -- there are so many surprises waiting here.   Highly recommended!


Author Bio

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, novelist, biographer, and historian. He lives outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son. He is the acclaimed author of the novels Comeback Love, Wherever There Is Light, and Nothing Is Forgotten.

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Flower Power Trip (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney

Book Spotlight
At a masquerade ball to raise money for renovations to Memorial Library, Kellan finds a dead body dressed in a Dr. Evil costume.

Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill the annoying guest who’d been staying at the Roarke and Daughters Inn, or does the victim have a closer connection to someone else at Braxton College?

As Kellan helps school president Ursula bury a secret from her past and discover the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his family. Everything seems to trace back to the Stoddards: a new family who recently moved in.

Between the murder, a special flower exhibit and strange postcards arriving each week, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority. But unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to be exposed – and when it is, Kellan won’t know what hit him.

Author Bio
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College with a degree in English literature. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries. I frequently blog and publish book reviews on everything I read at ThisIsMyTruthNow via WordPress.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world. When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball,, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!

List of Books & Blog
Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)
Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries
Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)
Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)
Flower Power Trip – #3 (Early 2019)

Websites & Blog
Website: https://jamesjcudney.com
Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Social Media Links
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4

Purchase Link – Amazon

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Book Spotlight - Murder at the Marina (A Kelly Jackson Mystery) by Janet Finsilver

Book Synopsis
She’s got to solve this—or her friends are sunk . . .

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is fond of the Doblinsky brothers, Ivan and Rudy, members of the Silver Sentinels, a crew of crime-solving senior citizens in their Northern California seaside hamlet. After she discovers a jewel-encrusted dagger—with what appears to be dried blood on the blade—on their fishing boat, they share their family history with Kelly, and she learns that the knife may be part of a set from their long-ago childhood in Russia. Its sudden reappearance is eerie, but the mystery grows much more serious when a body is found on the boat. The victim was staying at Kelly’s inn, in town for a Russian Heritage Festival, and some of the organizers were clearly harboring some bitterness. But the story behind this murder seems as layered as a nesting doll—and Kelly’s feeling completely at sea .


Author Bio
Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016. Book 3, MURDER AT THE FORTUNE TELLER’S TABLE was released on March 14, 2017.

Author Links
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/janetfinsilverauthor/?fref=ts
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JanetFinsilver
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/janetfinsilver/
Web – http://janetfinsilver.com/

Purchase LinksAmazon  – B&NKoboGoogle Play

Friday, April 5, 2019

Book Review - National Geographic Complete Guide To Pet Health, Behavior, And Happiness by Gary Weitzman, DVM

Book Synopsis

In National Geographic’s comprehensive and easy-to-use illustrated pet reference, a renowned veterinarian offers expert advice on common health, behavior, and training for cats, dogs, and other domestic pets.
Combining first aid, medical reference, and tips and tricks of the trade, here is your go-to-guide for at-home animal care, focusing on dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and more! Building on more than two decades of veterinary experience, Dr. Gary Weitzman covers topics including upset stomachs, house training, physical ailments and behavior tips. The president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and former co-host of the weekly NPR show The Animal House, Dr. Gary brings a wealth of experience to essential veterinary questions, revealing basic first-aid techniques, when a trip to the vet is necessary, dietary recommendations, simple training techniques, necessary supplies, essential behavior cues, and much more.


 

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Review

The National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness is subtitled The Veterinarian's Approach to At-Home Animal Care.  This is a big, comprehensive book that covers both physical health and behavior.  The book's end flap includes the description "the written equivalent of a veterinary house call," and that gives a great idea of the book.

The book is divided into six sections:

Animal Happiness and Responsible Pet Ownership
Everyday Pet Health and Nutrition
Pet Behavior and Training
Emergencies and Disaster Preparedness
Common Health Issues
Diagnostics, Aging, and Holistic Medicine

I knew that I would like this book because I am a lifelong animal lover.  I currently have a small dog (Abby, who sometimes blogs here!) but also have had and loved cats and birds.

As a pet rescue advocate, I really appreciated the author's recommendations for adopting a pet as a family member.  He also talks at length about how to choose a pet that fits in best with your family, looking at factors like exercise needs, personality, shedding, grooming needs, barking.  I love that he extols the value of adopting an adult dog -- "Most people want puppies, but you shouldn't write off an adult dog.  Most adult dogs already know or quickly pick up house training, and many older dogs are past the destructive puppy phase" (p. 27).  He even gives specific help with looking at online adoptions, rescue groups, etc.  

This is very much a book for the whole family and I think parents will particularly find features like Pet Safety with Babies and Toddlers and Pet Chores by Age to be helpful.

I really like the way the author starts at the very beginning, with choosing a pet, buying pet supplies to keep your cat or dog safe and comfortable, and then moving on to exercise, diet, and preventative care including fleas, ticks, etc.

There are great tips about house training, crate training, and socialization.  I loved the socialization suggestions, like "Make it a goal to try to introduce your puppy to 100 different people, places, sights and sounds in the first 100 days you have him.  Start with this list and add to it as you go along" (p. 196).   What a great idea -- a wonderful way to bond with your pet while socializing him or her!

The section on adult dog behavior is great.  It includes information on "how to speak dog," interpreting what your dog is trying to communicate -- not just giving commands without listening.  There are great, practical, specific solutions to issues like barking, chewing, jumping up, etc.  My little dog Abby can be a barker, and I found the tips on barking helpful.  I especially found this point interesting (and possibly relevant here):  "Add independence training to your dog's curriculum.  In other words, train your dog to entertain himself sometimes, even when you're around.  Pure reliance on you will make your dog very susceptible to anxiety when you're not around" (p. 217).

Being a National Geographic book, the photos are, as expected, beautiful!   There are great, helpful pictures on every page of the book.  They add a lot to how enjoyable this book is to read.

I recommend this book very highly for a first time pet owner, for anyone adopting a new pet, or for a pet owner who wants to learn more about day to day behavior training and first aid.  It would also be a thoughtful gift for anyone who loves cats or dogs!

 

Book Review and Giveaway - The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

Book Synopsis
When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.

My Review
The Memory House is the story of two women.  In the present day, Beck Holiday is a New York City police officer who lost her father tragically on 9/11.  When he died all her childhood memories died too.  In 1953, Everleigh Applegate lost her husband to a tornado in Waco, Texas.   This novel is about the connections between these two women and the parallels as they work to rebuild their lives and find happiness.

This was an exceptionally well done dual storyline novel.  As well as Beck and Everleigh, there are also chapters that focus on the men that love them -- Bruno (Beck) and Don (Everleigh).  The author does a great job of differentiating the characters and creating a strong sense of time and place.

As a fan of historical fiction, I especially liked Everleigh's story, which spanned from 1953 to 1961, Waco, Texas and Fernandina Beach, Florida.  I love that period of American life, and enjoyed all the beautiful details of that time in this book.

I especially loved the setting of Fernandina Beach, Florida, a place we visited on summer vacations when I was a little girl!

I found a lot to like about both Beck and Everleigh, and read this book in a short time because I was so eager to know what happened with their lives.

There even is a dog rescue story, as Beck rescues a dog named Beetle who was in precarious health from being used as a drug mule.  (I had no idea this even happened before this book.)

The Memory House features a beautiful, rambling old Victorian house in Fernandina Beach, and the house is almost another character in the book.  I have a great weakness for books that do this, and it was such a lovely feature of this novel.

There is a strong faith element in the book.  Everleigh was a great example of someone who lived her faith in a quiet, daily way.

I recommend The Memory House for fans of women's fiction and Christian fiction.  This is my first read by Rachel Hauck and I look forward to looking for more of her novels in the future.



Author Bio
Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically. A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

For more information, visit www.rachelhauck.com, Facebook (@rachelhauck), Twitter (@RachelHauck) and Instagram (@rachelhauck).


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