Friday, February 24, 2023

Book Review - The Sound of Light by Sarah Sundin

My Review

The Sound of Light is a historical novel set in Copenhagen during World War II. It is the story of two different (but surprisingly similar) people - Else Jensen, an American physicist working at a research lab and quietly also working to help with a resistance newspaper, and Hemming, the assumed name of Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt, a formerly dissolute playboy and Olympic rower turned resistance hero.

I wanted to read this novel because I love Sarah Sundin's books - she is my favorite author in this genre, and I have recommended her writing so many times over to friends. I particularly enjoy historical fiction set during World War II and was curious about the Danish setting;  I knew very little about life in Denmark during the war.

This is a beautifully told story about people finding courage they didn't know they had and banding together to do good even at great personal risk.  Hemming, the Havmand (merman) rows back and forth at night with messages. Else spreads the truth about the war through underground newspapers, becoming even more involved when her best friend Laila, who is Jewish, is in jeopardy.

Hemming and Laila live in the same boarding house and slowly connect, as friends first, and then there is a spark between them that they can't ignore. Their resistance to the war is also a powerful bond.

The descriptions and writing is, as always with Sarah Sundin's books, beautiful. For example, this is a description of the Tivoli Gardens:

"They emerged from the gardens. Beside a shimmering lake, the Chinese Tower rose in red and black magnificence. Before the war, Tivoli glowed at night, with light bulbs outlining each building, strung between trees, and reflecting in the lake, topped by fireworks shows in the summer. Although the park remained open during the occupation, the lights had been extinguished" (eBook location 920).

I highly recommend The Sound of Light for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in World War II.

Book Synopsis

Copenhagen, 1940

When the Germans march into Denmark, Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt exchanges his nobility for anonymity, assuming a new identity so he can secretly row messages for the Danish Resistance across the waters to Sweden. American physicist Dr. Else Jensen refuses to leave Copenhagen and abandon her research--her life's dream--and makes the dangerous decision to print resistance newspapers.

As Else hears rumors of the movement's legendary Havmand--the merman--she also becomes intrigued by the mysterious and silent shipyard worker living in the same boardinghouse. Henrik makes every effort to conceal his noble upbringing, but he is torn between the façade he must maintain and the woman he is beginning to fall in love with.

When the Occupation cracks down on the Danes, these two passionate people will discover if there is more power in speech . . . or in silence.

Author Bio

Sarah Sundin is the bestselling author of When Twilight Breaks, Until Leaves Fall in Paris, and the popular WWII series Sunrise at Normandy, among others. She is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award winner, and her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, and have appeared on Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years." Sarah lives in California. Visit for more information.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Born to Bead Wild: A Humorous Cozy Mystery (Glass Bead Mystery Series) by Janice Peacock

My Review

Bead artist Jax O'Connell goes to a beading camp in the Pacific Northwest with her friends Tessa, who will be teaching at the arts camp, and Val, who will be the camp cook for a week. They are accompanied by Val's Basset Hound Stanley.  When a murder occurs, Jax and her friends set out to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I love cozy mysteries, I've always loved Basset Hounds (the cover art is so appealing!), and am interested in beading.

This is the fifth book in the Glass Bead Mystery series but I had no problem jumping in and getting to know the characters. It worked well as a standalone mystery.

Born to Bead Wild is a fun cozy mystery.  It is fast moving and told with humor (especially involving newbie chef Val's attempts at learning how to do all natural, plant based cooking for an entire camp). As an animal lover, of course I loved all scenes with Stanley the Basset Hound!

The beading details in this book were fascinating!  I have enjoyed making some beaded jewelry but have never actually made beads, so the glass bead process was especially interesting to me.

The mystery aspect of this story was especially well done.  The friends are at a camp out in the middle of the woods, in a cabin with no locks on the doors, no cell phones, and working to solve a mystery. Jax and Tessa took some big safety risks in their detecting but of course they ultimately found the killer.

I really enjoyed Born to Bead Wild. I have the author's earlier eBooks on my Kindle and now I want to go back and read them to catch up with the rest of the series. I recommend this book for cozy mystery fans, and especially for anyone who has an interest in beading or crafting.

Book Synopsis  

Something is strange at Full Moon Farms—and it isn’t just Val’s Eggplant Surprise for dinner.

Jax, Tessa, and the rest of the arts and crafts retreat attendees are shocked when they find charred bones in a glass kiln. Are the remains human or animal?

The camp owners insist the bones in the coffin-sized kiln are from a deer, but Jax finds a clue that leads her to believe the owners are lying. After Tessa’s least favorite person turns up dead, there is no doubt that a killer lurks somewhere in the deep forest of the Olympic Peninsula. As clues lead Jax and Tessa down mysterious paths, they hope they live long enough to find the culprit and make it out alive.

Author Bio

Janice Peacock is a cozy mystery author who specializes in craft and hobby mysteries. She loves to write about artists who find new ways to live their lives and perhaps catch a criminal or two in the process. While working in a glass studio with several colorful and quirky artists, she was inspired to write the Glass Bead Mystery Series. The Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which are set in a small hillside mining town, were inspired by her trips to Jerome, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Oregon. 

When Janice isn’t writing about amateur detectives, she wields a 2,500-degree torch to melt glass and create one-of-kind beads and jewelry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, an enormous white dog, and an undisclosed number of cats. Visit Janice online at

Author Links

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Friday, February 10, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Wined and Died in New Orleans (A Vintage Cookbook) by Ellen Byron

My Review

Wined and Died in New Orleans is the second book in the Vintage Cookbook mystery series. Ricki James-Dias is happily managing her vintage cookbook/kitchenware shop in the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum when another murder takes place at the museum. After some very valuable old French wine is found on the premises, distant relatives of the house's builder start arriving to stake their claim. One of them, a particularly unpleasant claimant from France, is discovered murdered. With the head of the museum board, Eugenia Charbonnet, under suspicion, Ricki works to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this novel because I enjoyed the first book in the series so much. I love vintage cookware and cookbooks, so that is a huge plus for me with this series.

Ricki is a fun amateur detective, quirky and smart and brave. I enjoyed watching her detecting process.  I like her friends, her romantic interest, and the pair of dogs she co-owns with her crush.

My favorite features of this series, though, are the food history and vintage cookbook details, and the New Orleans atmosphere. There are great descriptions like:

They reached the carriage house and climbed the stairs to the second floor, where Ricki found the box waiting for her. She borrowed the office box cutter to slice open the top and extracted the tureen from its nest of protection. Sleek and crème-colored, decorated with a design of raised ceramic leaves painted in warm fall tones, the tureen was stunning. The women admired it. “This may the nicest item in your shop,” Cookie said. “It’s gorgeous.” 

“I know.” Ricki examined the tureen and matching ladle with a practiced eye. “And in perfect condition. The date on this is 1958. Tureens weren’t as popular by then, so it’s pretty rare, especially in this pattern. It’s called Autumn Days. The maker is Sunbaked, a ceramics company in California that went out of business in 1959. The person I bought this from didn’t know what they had.” (eBook position 556).

This is becoming one of my most anticipated cozy mystery series, and I already am looking forward to the next book in the series. I highly recommend Wined and Died in New Orleans (along with the first book, Bayou Book Thief) to fans of cozy mysteries, and especially for anyone who enjoys vintage cookbooks, food history, or New Orleans.  Lots of atmospheric fun here!

Book Synopsis

The second in a fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

It’s hurricane season in New Orleans and vintage cookbook fan Ricki James-Diaz is trying to shelve her weather-related fears and focus on her business, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop, housed in the magnificent Bon Vee Culinary House Museum.

Repairs on the property unearth crates of very old, very valuable French wine, buried by the home’s builder, Jean-Louis Charbonnet. Ricki, who’s been struggling to attract more customers to Miss Vee’s, is thrilled when her post about the discovery of this long-buried treasure goes viral. She’s less thrilled when the post brings distant Charbonnet family members out of the woodwork, all clamoring for a cut of the wine’s sale.

When a dead body turns up in Bon Vee’s cheery fall decorations, the NOPD zeroes in on Eugenia Charbonnet Felice as the prime suspect, figuring that as head of the Charbonnet family, she has the most to gain. Ricki is determined to uncover the real culprit, but she can’t help noticing that Eugenia is acting strangely. Ricki wonders what kind of secret her mentor has bottled up, and fears what might happen if she uncorks it.

In the second Vintage Cookbook Mystery, Ricki has to help solve a murder, untangle family secrets, and grow her business, all while living under the threat of a hurricane that could wipe out everything from her home to Bon Vee.

Author Bio

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at

Author Links






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