Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Strange Shores (Inspector Erlendur #11) by Arnaldur Indriðason









  • Series: An Inspector Erlendur Series (Book 9)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (August 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250000408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250000408



Book Description

A young woman walks into the frozen fjords of Iceland, never to be seen again. But Matthildur leaves in her wake rumours of lies, betrayal and revenge.

Decades later, somewhere in the same wilderness, Detective Erlendur is on the hunt. He is looking for Matthildur but also for a long-lost brother, whose disappearance in a snow-storm when they were children has coloured his entire life. He is looking for answers.

Slowly, the past begins to surrender its secrets. But as Erlendur uncovers a story about the limits of human endurance, he realizes that many people would prefer their crimes to stay buried.


About the Author

 Arnaldur was born in Reykjavík on 28 January 1961, the son of writer Indriði G. Þorsteinsson. He graduated with a degree in history from the University of Iceland in 1996. He worked as a journalist for the newspaper Morgunblaðið from 1981 to 1982, and later as a freelance writer. From 1986 to 2001, he was a film critic for Morgunblaðið.

His first book, Synir duftsins (Sons of Dust) came out in 1997, the first in the series with Detective Erlendur. Arnaldur is considered one of the most popular writers in Iceland in recent years — topping bestseller lists time and again. In 2004, his books were 7 of the 10 most popular titles borrowed in Reykjavík City Library. In 2006, his Erlendur novel Mýrin was made into a film, known internationally as Jar City, by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur.

Arnaldur's books have been published in 26 countries and translated into at least 20 languages.



My Review

 Arnaldur Indriðason is a completely new author to me. I love a good story and Strange Shores is definitely that.  Indriðason is a well known author in Iceland and he will soon be well known in North America as well!


Indriðason brings the bleakness and the penetrating cold of Iceland to life with his words. Iceland which is now a modern European country was once a poverty stricken, barren land.  Indriðason goes back to the past in Strange Shores. Thoughts haunt Detective Erlendur as he makes a pilgrimage to the village he grew up in. Erlendur's mind is clouded with the disappearance of his brother when they were young as well as the disappearance of a young woman. He is riddled with survivor's guilt but needs to know what has happened in the past.

This is a haunting tale. It is beautifully written. Great story that the reader will find riveting.




 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Rollover: A Dan Mahoney Mystery by Susan Slater









  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1099 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (July 1 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00LA5XATM

Book Description

 A bank heist turns sleepy little Wagon Mound, New Mexico on its ear. It’s no straight-forward, demand all the money at gun-point, and run out the front door kind of robbery. It’s a sneaky tunneling that probably took months to complete and put the thieves in a room of safe deposit boxes—not the vault which held some two million. Safe deposit boxes? What could have made it worthwhile to bypass a cool couple million?

Maybe the one hundred and ten year old sapphire and diamond necklace belonging to eighty-five year old Gertrude Kennedy was the lure. United Life and Casualty carried a policy on it for five hundred thousand and sent their investigator, Dan Mahoney to sort things out.

But he didn’t quite get there when expected. Catching a ride when his Jeep overheats, Dan is the hapless passenger in a rollover that kills the driver and puts him in the hospital only to find out this was no accident. Someone wants him out of Wagon Mound at any cost.

He doesn’t scare easily. He hasn’t lived his life looking over his shoulder and he’s not starting now. But when fiancée, Elaine Linden, disappears and people close to the case turn up dead, maybe he should reconsider. The note slipped under his door in the dead of night says it all—“it’s not what you think”.



About the Author

 Susan has lived in the Southwest for 32 years. The enchantment of New Mexico comes alive in her Ben Pecos series - The Pumpkin Seed Massacre, Yellow Lies, Thunderbird, and A Way to the Manger.


My Review

Rollover is my first introduction to author Susan Slater. Rollover is a Dan Mahoney mystery and is published by one of my favorite publishers Poisoned Pen Press which focuses on mystery novels. PPP has a great track record with me so I knew I was in for a treat.

Rollover is set in the Southwest, in New Mexico specifically in the very real small town of Wagon Mound. It is generally a sleepy little town however a bank robbery quickly wakes everyone up! It is a complicated bank theft though...a tunnel has been dug that leads straight to the safety deposit boxes and ignores the vault. The object of the heist is a magnificent diamond and sapphire necklace belonging to an elderly woman. The necklace is insured by United Life and Casualty which sends insurance investigator Dan Mahoney to Wagon Mound.

Dan Mahoney is injured in a rollover on his way to Wagon Mound and ends up in the hospital which puts the investigation behind...but was this accident a deliberate action? There are plenty of questions and lots of twists and turns in this excellent mystery thriller! The reader is kept on their toes until the end.

Great read!  What makes this story most fascinating is that the bank heist really did happen in Wagon Mound in 1988 but it was never solved. Looking forward to the next Dan Mahoney Mystery!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child



  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1296 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0804178747
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (Sept. 2 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HBQWGXK


Book Description

Jack Reacher returns in the latest fast-moving, action-packed, suspenseful book from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child.

You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely, notes Jack Reacher—and sure enough, the retired military cop is soon pulled back into service. This time, for the State Department and the CIA.

Someone has taken a shot at the president of France in the City of Light. The bullet was American. The distance between the gunman and the target was exceptional. How many snipers can shoot from three-quarters of a mile with total confidence? Very few, but John Kott—an American marksman gone bad—is one of them. And after fifteen years in prison, he’s out, unaccounted for, and likely drawing a bead on a G-8 summit packed with enough world leaders to tempt any assassin.

If anyone can stop Kott, it’s the man who beat him before: Reacher. And though he’d rather work alone, Reacher is teamed with Casey Nice, a rookie analyst who keeps her cool with Zoloft. But they’re facing a rough road, full of ruthless mobsters, Serbian thugs, close calls, double-crosses—and no backup if they’re caught. All the while Reacher can’t stop thinking about the woman he once failed to save. But he won’t let that that happen again. Not this time. Not Nice.

Reacher never gets too close. But now a killer is making it personal.

About the Author

 Lee Child was born October 29th, 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV's "golden age." During his tenure his company made Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars' worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series.

Killing Floor was an immediate success and launched the series which has grown in sales and impact with every new installment. The first Jack Reacher movie, based on the novel One Shot and starring Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike, was released in December 2012.

Lee has three homes—an apartment in Manhattan, a country house in the south of France, and whatever airplane cabin he happens to be in while traveling between the two. In the US he drives a supercharged Jaguar, which was built in Jaguar's Browns Lane plant, thirty yards from the hospital in which he was born.

Lee spends his spare time reading, listening to music, and watching the Yankees, Aston Villa, or Marseilles soccer. He is married with a grown-up daughter. He is tall and slim, despite an appalling diet and a refusal to exercise.


My Review

 Lee Child's Jack Reacher series has long been one of my favorites. That said, Personal, is not one of my favorites. Why is this? I don't find the story intriguing for some reason. It is mostly set in England instead of the USA. I enjoy Reacher wandering the back roads of the USA more I imagine than becoming involved in some political conspiracy involving heads of state. I usually avoid that type of thriller.

I really enjoyed the ending but I found the book plodded along to get there. Not my favorite Reacher.







Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: NIV Pink Bible An Invitation to Hope Published by Zondervan









  • Paperback: 1184 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Lea edition (August 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310431786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310431787

 

Book Description

Designed to uplift both survivors and co-survivors, the NIV Pink Bible offers timeless words of comfort, hope, and encouragement through specially written inspirational insights by a breast cancer survivor.

This pink Italian Duo-Tone™ Bible is a beautiful choice for any woman whose life has been affected by breast cancer. Designed to uplift both survivors and co-survivors, the NIV Pink Bible offers timeless words of comfort, hope, and encouragement through specially written inspirational insights by a breast cancer survivor. The NIV Pink Bible: An Invitation to Hope contains the complete text of the New International Version—with reflections and stories to encourage, and an index to hundreds of Bible verses to comfort.

Features include:
  • Complete text of the NIV—the world’s most popular modern-English Bible
  • An index to hundreds of verses of hope and encouragement
  • 10 beautifully designed pages of prayers, reflections and encouragement
  • Ribbon marker
  • Presentation page—great for gift-giving

My Review

 Do you know a breast cancer survivor? This bible is the perfect gift for a woman who has survived. This bible will provide the inspiration for the survivor to thrive. It will provide comfort during the dark periods.

The NIV Pink Bible not only contains the entire NIV edition of the bible, it also contains an index of verses that provide hope, comfort and encouragement.  There is also a special section providing prayers and stories from survivors.

This bible edition is a beautiful volume. It will become a treasured heirloom. While I am not a breast cancer survivor, my aunt is and I know this bible will be a welcome and treasured gift to her.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: Vengeance is Mine: A Red River Mystery (Red River Mystery #4) by Reavis Z. Wortham







  • Series: Vengeance is Mine (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464202605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464202605

Book Description

 In October of 1967, The Summer of Love is history, rock and roll is dark and revolutionary, and people in the small east Texas community of Center Springs simply want to live their lives as quietly as possible. But a handsome darkness in the form of Las Vegas gangster Anthony Agrioli has left the business to hide out in the tiny backwater settlement with his blond bombshell girlfriend.

Two years earlier, Agrioli met newlyweds Cody and Norma Faye Parker in a Vegas casino and heard their enthusiastic descriptions of the perfect place to settle down and raise a family. At least it was perfect, before their peaceful world found itself directly in the crosshairs of a coming confrontation.

Back in Center Springs, thirteen-year-old Top Parker has what his grandmother, Miss Becky, calls a Poisoned Gift. His dreams, though random and disconnected, always seem to come true. This time Top dreams he’s a wagon hub with spokes converging from all directions. To him, the spokes symbolize that something is coming, but he doesn’t know their quiet community will soon be a combat zone when the gangsters arrive, but they’re after something else and not Agrioli…yet.

A sheriff crooked as a dog’s hind leg, an unsolved murder in the river bottoms, counterfeit money and a bank robbery all wrapped in a country Shakespearian comedy once again brings together Constable Ned Parker, Constable Cody Parker, Deputy John Washington, Judge O.C. Rains, and the rest of Wortham’s real and sometimes wacky cast of characters.


Other Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Mob enforcer Anthony Agrioli’s latest assignment is to rub out some Cuban casino owners in Las Vegas—and their young children. He takes care of the adults without trouble but has some problems killing the kids. He takes it on the lam, beating it out of Vegas before his boss can track him down, but not before hooking up with a beautiful blonde (who will turn out to be a handful of a different sort than he had hoped). Hiding out in Center Springs, Texas, Anthony soon finds out this seemingly peaceful town is like a beacon for violence and corruption, most of which has nothing directly to do with him, but all of which soon ensnares him. This very entertaining novel, set in 1967, is reminiscent of Donald E. Westlake’s Mob comedies The Fugitive Pigeon (1965) and The Busy Body (1966), which, like this book, feature offbeat characters getting themselves into offbeat situations—although this book also has a more serious side, too. Those who have read the author’s earlier books, including The Right Side of Wrong (2013), will be familiar with Center Springs and its rather unusual denizens, but knowledge of those earlier volumes is not required. This is a fully self-contained story, and it’s real corker. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

"Reavis Wortham doubles down in Vengeance is Mine, the fourth in his Red River Series, and for mystery readers it's a Full House when Las Vegas intrigue invades Center Springs, Texas. Aces High, Constables Ned, Cody Parker and company are terrific riding and reading partners."

 -Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for A&E's hit series Longmire

Reavis Wortham is the new voice to be reckoned with in suspense fiction.  His sense of place and character is second to none.  Clear the calendar after you open the cover of VENGEANCE IS MINE, because ain't nothin' else gonna get done once you start reading.

--John Gilstrap, Author of END GAME and the rest of the Jonathan Grave thriller series

"Reavis Z. Wortham's Vengeance is Mine is a winning and unusual book.  Equal parts small-town tale and thriller, the combination is both entertaining and emotionally engaging.  Wortham is at his best in the small Texas town of Center Springs, where this and his three other "Red River Mysteries" are set.  The small-town characters carry the day but Wortham hits his thriller marks too, and the result is a solid and humane story."
 -- T. Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of "The Famous and the Dead"

One part suspense story and one part coming of age novel, Vengeance Is Mine is all parts entertaining. With crackling dialogue and colorful descriptions, Reavis Wortham makes rural Texas of the 1960s roar to life. Vengeance Is Mine is a page turning novel with multi-layered characters and plot twists that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. It is not to be missed.
Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon

"Loaded with healthy doses of humor, adventure, and intrigue, populated by a remarkable cast of characters both good and bad and featuring one heck of an electrifying climax is a throwback to the pulp era in the best possible sense. A great read."  --Owen Laukkanen, bestselling author of The Professionals and Kill Fee

Reavis Wortham is the new voice to be reckoned with in suspense fiction. His sense of place and character is second to none. Clear the calendar after you open the cover of Vengeance is Mine, because ain’t nothin’ else gonna get done once you start reading. (John Gilstrap, author of End Game and the Jonathan Grave series)

One part suspense story and one part coming-of-age novel, Vengeance Is Mine is all parts entertaining. With crackling dialogue and colorful descriptions, Reavis Wortham makes rural Texas of the 1960s roar to life. Vengeance Is Mine is a page-turning novel with multi-layered characters and plot twists that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. It is not to be missed. (Michael Morris, author of Man in the Blue Moon)

Loaded with healthy doses of humor, adventure and intrigue, populated by a remarkable cast of characters both good and bad, and featuring one heck of an electrifying climax, Vengeance is Mine is a throwback to the pulp era in the best possible sense. A fantastic read! (Owen Laukkanen, bestselling author of The Professionals and Kill Fee)

...a winning and unusual book. Equal parts small-town tale and thriller, the combination is both entertaining and emotionally engaging. The small-town characters carry the day but Wortham hits his thriller marks too, and the result is a solid and humane story. (T Jefferson Parker, New York Times bestselling author of The Famous and the Dead)

Big city excitement and violence come to quiet Center Springs, Tex., in Wortham’s homespun fourth Red River mystery (after 2013’s The Right Side of Wrong). In the fall of 1967, Las Vegas hit man Tony Agrioli and his new girlfriend, Samantha Chesterfield, decide Center Springs is “the perfect place to settle down and start a family.” Two years earlier in Vegas, Tony met honeymooners Cody Parker, a Center Springs constable, and his bride, Norma Faye Parker, who spoke highly of their hometown. Unfortunately for almost everyone, one of Center Spring’s leading citizens also has ties to Las Vegas, and Constable Ned Parker, Cody’s uncle, is soon dealing with an unsolved murder, counterfeit money, and a bank robbery. The appealing cast includes 13-year-old Top, Ned’s grandson, and Top’s cousin, Pepper (also 13), who chafes at life in the country. Wortham pays homage to a disappearing way of life in this thoughtful series. (Publishers Weekly)

Reavis Wortham doubles down in Vengeance is Mine, the fourth in his Red River Series, and for mystery readers it’s a Full House when Las Vegas intrigue invades Center Springs, Texas. Aces High, Constables Ned, Cody Parker and company are terrific riding and reading partners. (Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for A&E’s hit series Longmire)

Mob enforcer Anthony Agrioli’s latest assignment is to rub out some Cuban casino owners in Las Vegas—and their young children. He takes care of the adults without trouble but has some problems killing the kids. He takes it on the lam, beating it out of Vegas before his boss can track him down, but not before hooking up with a beautiful blonde (who will turn out to be a handful of a different sort than he had hoped). Hiding out in Center Springs, Texas, Anthony soon finds out this seemingly peaceful town is like a beacon for violence and corruption, most of which has nothing directly to do with him, but all of which soon ensnares him. This very entertaining novel, set in 1967, is reminiscent of Donald E. Westlake’s Mob comedies The Fugitive Pigeon (1965) and The Busy Body (1966), which, like this book, feature offbeat characters getting themselves into offbeat situations—although this book also has a more serious side, too. Those who have read the author’s earlier books, including The Right Side of Wrong (2013), will be familiar with Center Springs and its rather unusual denizens, but knowledge of those earlier volumes is not required. This is a fully self-contained story, and it’s real corker. (Booklist)


About the Author

 As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for the fictional setting for THE ROCK HOLE. He was born in Paris, Texas, but lived in Dallas. “We grew up in the city and went to school there, but every Friday evening my parents put us in the car and made the 120-mile drive to Chicota, where we truly lived at my grandparents’ place in the country until Sunday evening, when we came back to the city. Our true home was that little scratch farm in Lamar County.”

Author Reavis Z. Wortham’s first novel, THE ROCK HOLE, is described by Kirkus Reviews as “an unpretentious gem written to the hilt and harrowing in its unpredictability.” Kirkus also listed it as one of the “Top 12 Mysteries of 2011.”

BURROWS, the second Red River Mystery, received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, “Wortham's outstanding sequel to The Rock Hole (2011)... combines the gonzo sensibility of Joe R. Lansdale and the elegiac mood of To Kill a Mockingbird to strike just the right balance between childhood innocence and adult horror.”

In a recent Starred Review by Kirkus Reviews says of BURROWS, “As in Ned’s debut (The Rock Hole, 2011), his grandchildren, Top and Pepper, are on hand to provide welcome humor and lend perspective to the acutely and unobtrusively observed small-town landscape. The result is that rare bird, a mystery with something for everyone.

Reavis also penned DOREEN'S 24 HR EAT GAS NOW CAFE. More than 1,500 newspaper and magazine articles bear the byline of this award-winning Texas writer. THE ROCK HOLE was a finalist in the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

THE RIGHT SIDE OF WRONG, book three in this gripping series, will be released in July, 2013.

Reavis is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Writers’ League of Texas, and the International Crime Writers Association.

He lives with his wife, Shana, in Frisco, Texas.



My Review

Fabulous series by author Reavis Z. Wortham. I have read the entire series and have enjoyed it immensely. It is set during the 1960s in northeast Texas. It was a time that was less than fifty years ago but feels like a lifetime ago. Following the adventures of Top and Pepper, the grandchildren of Ned and Becky Parker, is always fascinating.

This latest book, Vengeance is Mine, is filled with dizzying action throughout as former mafia lieutenant Tony Agrioli and his new wife settle into Center Springs. The town is soon engulfed by Tony's pursuers and the associates of a crooked lawman. Pepper longs for the action of California and the mystic of the Summer of Love during a time when their lives are consumed with more action than anyone can hope for.

Always magical to fall into the bosom of the Parker family and the drama that continually surrounds them. Fascinating to grow up with Top and Pepper. Vengeance is Mine is a great book...easy to recommend. Read the whole series if you can.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Next Step - How to Start Living Intentionally and Discover What God Really Wants for Your Life by Timothy K. Lynn








  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Carpenters Son Publishing; Spi edition (August 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940262194
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940262192

Book Description

 Are you feeling stuck, overwhelmed, unfocused, depressed, anxious, worried, empty, or just like you’re not living up to your full potential?  Are you ready to make your next step a step in the right direction?

Next Step:  How to Start Living Intentionally and Discover What God Really Wants for Your Life by Timothy K. Lynn will show you how to get from where you are to where you want to be—and it all starts from where you are right now.

Wanting to put his life on the right track, author Timothy K. Lynn developed the powerful Next Step system out of necessity. At the age of 16, Lynn had a wife and child, had dropped out of school, was on welfare and food stamps, and was working seven days a week just to make ends meet.   Now a successful businessman, Lynn has used the Next Step system for over three decades. 

A faith-filled system for intentional living, Next Step shows you how to discover what God wants for your life. Ideal for individual study and small groups, Next Step addresses four key components—faith, self, family life, and life work. For anyone ready to receive God’s grace, and create a life of meaning, purpose, and abundance, Next Step is the ideal next step.

So if you’re ready to reduce the clutter in your life and move along the path God has laid out for you, begin a real and ongoing conversation with God, get focused, be the person you want to be, develop meaningful and loving relationships, and find satisfying work, make Next Step your next step.


About the Author

 At an early age, author Timothy K. Lynn found himself facing adult challenges: at 16, Lynn had a wife and child, had dropped out of school, was on welfare and food stamps, and was working seven days a week just to make ends meet.

At 16, Lynn had a singular focus: providing for his new family. Realizing that faith was central to having—and executing—a meaningful life plan, Lynn, through God’s grace, began to develop a system for keeping his life on track and maintaining focus. Inspired by Andy Stanley’s Starting Point, Lynn created a system centered on the four crucial components of faith, self, family and life’s work.

Lynn authored and published NEXT STEP - How to Start Living Intentionally and Discover What God Really Want for Your Life.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Timothy K. Lynn is an entrepreneur, author and teacher, but above all, a man of faith. He has used the Next Step system for over 30 years.

The Founder and Chairman of a successful company, NIR Roof Care, Tim pioneered the NIR Rooftop Maintenance Program (TM) in 1988. He worked for 25 years to make building owners aware of its benefits. Tim also created an instructional program for roofers selling and consulting with customers, becoming Certified Roof Care Specialists. Now, mature roofers who want to retain their value to a company, can utilize their experience to extend their careers and the life of many roofs.


My Review

 I participate in a number of bible studies each year so I think that I have the right background to assess the participant guide for Next Step which can be used for individual or group study. Next Step does not have an accompanying book or video series which most bible studies today have.  It is a workbook.

Author Timothy K. Lynn believes there are four pillars to life:  Faith, Self, Family and Life's Work.

The workbook is divided into six sessions: 

  1. You, Time and Circle of Influences
  2. Faith
  3. Self
  4. Family
  5. Life's Work
  6. Conversations with God
It is a very interesting bible study that I think is suitable for mature believers. There is plenty of blank pages for notes based on your contemplations. Would I recommend it for any of my small groups? I don't think so. It is better served for personal bible study.

Well written and insightful. Great for personal study. It is also good for learning time management. The graphs and tables at the end in the Resources section are a great help. Great help for goal setting.