Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

  • Author:  Marcia Clark
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (April 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316129518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316129510

Product Description


Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city's most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.

But she can't stop herself from digging deeper into Jake's death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation--and her life--to find the truth.

With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene.

From Booklist


*Starred Review* Don't be dissuaded by the celebrity-author factor: Clark, lead prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson trial, pairs her knowledge of the L.A. judicial scene with a surprising flair for fiction in a remarkably accomplished debut novel. L.A. prosecutor Rachel Knight is stunned when her office soul-mate, Jake Pahlmeyer, is found shot to death in a sleazy motel along with a 17-year-old boy, raising ugly suspicions that she doesn't want to acknowledge. Given Jake's top case to work--the rape of the teenage daughter of one of the DA's prominent contributors--Rachel is warned by her boss to leave her colleague's death alone. But with her big heart and hard head, she uses her network of sources and risks career and safety to pursue both cases, teaming up with Detective Bailey Keller and following leads to Hispanic gangs and porno rings in the seamiest parts of the city. Clark offers a real page-turner here, with smart, fast-moving prose; a skillfully constructed plot; and a protagonist well worth knowing. Rachel, whose past is only hinted at, is a well-rounded character who's as tough with suspects as she is sensitive with young victims. A top-notch legal thriller that will leave readers wanting more.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Here's that rare example of a celebrity thriller author justifying a major promotion campaign by delivering a genuinely high-quality novel. --Michele Leber

About the Author


Marcia Clark is a former LA, California deputy district attorney, who was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case. She wrote a bestselling nonfiction book about the trial, Without a Doubt, and is a frequent media commentator and columnist on legal issues. She lives in Los Angeles.

My Review

I was at first intrigued by this book specifically because it was written by Marcia Clark.  I remember watching her conduct herself as the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial in which she was very impressive and was interested to see if she was capitalizing on her name or if she could really write.  Well she really can write!

Who better to write about the ins and outs of the Los Angeles court system than former prosecutor Marcia Clark.  She knows how the system really operates and she has given us a new female crime fighter in District Attorney Rachel Knight.  Great story revolving around the death of fellow D.A. Jake Pahlmeyer also of the elite Special Trials Unit in Los Angeles.  More drama is added with a side story of a rape in Pacific Palisades.  Believable characters inhabit Rachel Knight's world such as LAPD Detective Bailey Keller, fellow D.A. Toni and new love interest LAPD Lieutenant Graden Hales. Lots of action, good story with believable twists and turns.  Good ending!

Check out Marcia's web site here:  She has photos of many of the locations in Guilt by Association including the sumptuous bar in the Biltmore Hotel.  

Highly recommend this debut novel by Marcia Clark! Looking forward to reading more of Marcia Clark's books in the future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Gone: A Photographic Plea for Preservation by Shelby Foote and Nell Dickerson

  • Author:  Shelby Foote and Nell Dickerson
  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: BelleBooks, Inc. (April 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611940036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611940039

Product Description


"The words I remembered were those of the mad woman on the lawn. "Calling yourself soldiers," she said. "Burners is all you is."

Photographer and architect Nell Dickerson began her exploration of antebellum homesteads with encouragement from her cousin-in-law—renowned Civil War historian and novelist Shelby Foote. Her passion for forgotten and neglected buildings became a plea for preservation.

Gone is a unique pairing of modern photographs and historical novella. Foote offers a heartbreaking look at one man's loss as Union troops burn his home in the last days of the Civil War. Dickerson shares fascinating and haunting photographs, shining a poignant light on the buildings which survived Sherman's burning rampage across the Confederacy, only to fall victim to neglect, apathy and poverty.

GONE is a powerfully moving volume that will change how you see the forgotten buildings that hide in obscurity across the Southern landscape.

The words I remembered were those of the mad woman on the lawn. "Calling yourself soldiers," she said. "Burners is all you is."

The Civil War had been over for exactly ninety years in 1954, when my cousin, Shelby Foote, published "Pillar of Fire" as part of his novel, Jordan County: A Landscape in Narrative. The book's stories painted a vivid picture of a fictitious Mississippi county steeped in Southern culture.

"Pillar of Fire" took readers into a heartbreaking and commonplace scene late in the Civil War, when Union troops moved through the civilian South destroying not only plantations but also ordinary homes and cabins. Those troops, battle-hardened and bitter from the loss of their own brethren, shared the tragic effects of war.

In "Pillar of Fire" they take no joy in burning a home in front of its dying, elderly owner and his frail servants. The cruelty of the circumstances is as much a given for them as the dying man's grief over all the memories that burn with his house.

Now, on the eve of the Civil War's 150th commemoration, my mission is to draw attention not only to the architectural heritage devastated by the war but also the heritage we've lost since then: to neglect, to poverty, and to shame, as the war's infamy colored the attitudes of later generations and tainted the homes those generations inherited. What the war didn't take, time and apathy did. And yet those grand old homes—whether mansion or cabin—deserve our reverence and protection.

From the photographer:
The Civil War had been over for exactly ninety years in 1954, when my cousin, Shelby Foote, published--PILLAR OF FIRE--as part of his novel, Jordan County: A Landscape in Narrative. The book's stories painted a vivid picture of a fictitious Mississippi county steeped in Southern culture.

PILLAR OF FIRE took readers into a heartbreaking and commonplace scene late in the Civil War, when Union troops moved through the civilian South destroying not only plantations but also ordinary homes and cabins. Those troops, battle-hardened and bitter from the loss of their own brethren, shared the tragic effects of war.

In PILLAR OF FIRE, they take no joy in burning a home in front of its dying, elderly owner and his frail servants. The cruelty of the circumstances is as much a given for them as the dying man's grief over all the memories that burn with his house.

Now, on the eve of the Civil War's 150th commemoration, my mission is to draw attention not only to the architectural heritage devastated by the war but also the heritage we've lost since then: to neglect, to poverty, and to shame, as the war's infamy colored the attitudes of later generations and tainted the homes those generations inherited. What the war didn't take, time and apathy did. And yet those grand old homes whether mansion or cabin deserve our reverence and protection. 

About the Author


Nell Dickerson is an architect, a Hollywood set designer and a fourth-generation cotton farmer with ties to her family's ancestral land in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Nell conducted building assessments of some of the region's most historic structures for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Her seminal experience and photos of that tragedy were published in a photo essay, a call-to-arms for conservation of the South's rich architectural traditions.

Nell's photographs have been included in juried and gallery shows around the country. She continues to collaborate with several agencies to preserve, protect, and rebuild the rich culture of the South.

Shelby Foote 1917-2005

In 1954, Shelby Foote launched a twenty-year project in which he hand wrote (with a quill-tip dip pen) the 1.5 million-word, 2,934-page history The Civil War: A Narrative.

Although Foote had previously written six novels, including the one from which PILLAR OF FIRE is excerpted, it was his epic history of the Civil War that made him famous. In 1990, acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns featured Foote's insightful and eloquent commentary in Burn's eleven-hour-long PBS series, The Civil War.

Foote appeared eighty-nine times in Burn's The Civil War, dissecting the nation's most complex story for an audience of fourteen million people over five nights.

In the course of his long career Foote received three Guggenheim fellowships, a Ford Foundation grant, and a National Book Award.

My Review:

What hauntingly gorgeous photographs depicting an era lost to us.  How appropriate for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in the United States.  I love the area of the state of Mississippi along the great river of the same name.  A few years ago as I rode up Highway 61 just north of Vicksburg through mist shrouded fields at dawn I imagined I was communing with the souls of the civil war soldiers as they woke to the dawn thinking of the battles ahead.  And yes I felt a great loss as these beautiful photographs portray. 

And while the photographs are startling yet beautiful, the novella by Shelby Foote that accompanies the photographs while fiction still resonates with truth. Your house has been selected to burn, you have twenty minutes, Edward is told by a Union officer on Page 91.  While many homes and buildings were burnt by the Union soldiers as they triumphantly marched through the South that they had beaten down, many of the homes and buildings such as churches that did remain standing are now falling into ruin and are beyond restoration.  This book vividly captures those images.  This book will haunt my thoughts for some time.

Highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Dead Man's Switch by Tammy Kaehler

  • Author:   Tammy Kaehler
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588819
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588819

Product Description


Aspiring racecar driver Kate Reilly goes looking for a full-time ride in the American Le Mans Series—and stumbles over a dead driver. When she takes that driver’s job just hours later, she also takes pole position on the list of suspects in his murder. Suddenly she’s in the hot seat with little time to clear her name and get ready to race a Corvette at Lime Rock Park.

Amidst suspicion, Kate buckles down, quickly getting to know the racecar and team, bumping into plenty of suspects who might have committed murder. Clues fly at her as fast as the turns on the track, including a cryptic list of blackmail victims, unexplainable car performance at racing speed, a jealous husband with an adulterous wife, and drivers and crew who are openly happy her predecessor is dead. Kate finds exhilaration and hazards exist on- and off-track as she throttles up both the Corvette’s V8 and a murder investigation.

The green-flag countdown ticks away, and Kate must decide who she can trust to help probe alibis, untangle rumors of team breakups and personal betrayals, and determine whose drive to win also constitutes a willingness to kill. Because what’s at stake in Kate’s race to the truth is her career … only by uncovering a murderer can Kate restore her reputation and prove she belongs in the racing world.


About the Author

Before trying her hand at fiction, Tammy Kaehler established a career writing marketing materials, feature articles, executive speeches, and technical documentation. A fateful stint in corporate hospitality introduced her to the racing world, which inspired the first Kate Reilly racing mystery. Tammy works as a technical writer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives with her husband and many cars.
My Review
Good debut novel from Tammy Kaehler.  Good action but too much technical detail in regard to racing terminology for those who are not familiar with the racing world at the beginning of the book.  But it does provide an insider's perspective, it creates an incredible picture of what it is like to actually race in a professional race.  Good story with believable villains and I liked the ending. 

Good read but I do find that I am skimming through the technical information and paying more attention to Kate's interactions with others.  I learned a lot about racing that I did not before!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Food From Many Greek Kitchens

  • Author:  Tessa 
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449406521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449406523

Product Description


Food, culture, celebration, and memory are inexorably tied together inside Tessa Kiros's Kouzina. As the follow-up to her best-selling Venezia and Falling Cloudberries, Kouzina explores Kiros's Greek-Cypriot heritage and takes readers on a colorful journey into the Greek kitchens of her friends and family as she catalogs the traditional foods for fasting, festivals, and feast days.
Recipes like Vassilopitta New Year Wish Cake, Lamb in a Flowerpot with Dill and Red Wine, Yamopilafo Wedding Rice, and Easter Soup are accompanied by short introductions that explain each dish's cultural significance. In addition, lavish full-color photographs take readers on a tour from the local Mediterranean fishmongers and markets into Greek family homes and kitchens to experience the best in authentic Greek cooking.

With a glossary and more than 200 classically prepared Greek recipes, Kouzina adds a greater depth of flavor to each dish through Kiros's warm anecdotal introductions like the following passage for Vassilopitta:
"In Greece, everyone has a vassilopitta (cake) at New Year. The wonderful thing about this cake is that a flouri (coin) is added before baking. If you're lucky to get the piece with the coin, you'll be blessed for the year. Don't you love that sense of celebration the Greeks have?" --Kouzina: Food from Many Greek Kitchens

About the Author


Tessa Kiros was born in London to a Finnish mother and a Greek-Cypriot father. The family moved to South Africa when she was 4, and at the age of 18, Tessa set off to travel and learn all she could about the world's cultures and traditions and new ways of living and eating. She has cooked at London's The Groucho Club and in Australia, Greece, and Mexico. On a trip to Italy to study language and food, she met her husband Giovanni, and now lives in Tuscany.

My Review

Food From Many Greek Kitchens is filled with beautiful photographs but I found that the recipes were very authentic but not really to my taste.  I think that they were just a little too exotic for my tastes.  I do believe though that this book would be a nice souvenir of a trip to Greece.  The photos and recipes would bring back memories of a beautiful place.

Review: Bet Your Bones; Dinah Pellerin Mystery by Jeanne Matthews

  • Author:  Jeanne Matthews
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588994

Product Description

A wedding on the lip of a Hawaiian volcano sounds risky to Dinah Pelerin, the bride’s best friend and maid of honor. The bride, Claude Ann Kemper, has bet her heart that she’s found the right man at last. The groom has gone all in on a real estate deal he believes will set him and his new wife up for life. A group of Native Hawaiians claims that the sacred bones of an ancestral king are buried on the land the groom plans to sell and one of them has vowed do whatever it takes to stop him. Claude Ann’s ex-husband is stalking her and rigging booby-traps. A blackmailer is conspiring to cash in on the groom’s suspicious past. And Pele, the local fire goddess, is rocking the island with a series of earthquakes. It seems as if the stakes can’t get any higher. And then somebody shoves a member of the wedding into a flow of molten lava and all bets are off.
True friendship is never easy and Dinah and Claude Ann have had their misunderstandings. But when danger threatens, Dinah is determined to protect her friend and repay the loyalty Claude Ann has shown to her if she has to walk through fire to do it. Hawaii is a hotbed of ancient myths and modern conflicts over who should control the land so cherished by its native people. If Dinah and Claude Ann are to get out alive, they’ll have to face down an angry goddess and a ruthless killer.   

About the Author

Jeanne Matthews was born and raised in Georgia.  She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism and has worked as a copywriter, a high school English and Drama teacher, and a paralegal.  She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband, who is a law professor, and a West Highland terrier, who is a prima donna.
My Review
Bet Your Bones was well written and a good read. I loved the setting of Hawaii...who doesn't love Hawaii!  I did find the main character Dinah to be flaky.  Flaky in that she seemed to be drifting around and not settling on a career path.  And that she even went to Claude Anne's wedding in Hawaii in the first place when she and Claude Anne had a falling out years ago.  

Besides being flaky, Dinah is a student of cultural anthropology.  This allowed for the recounting of a number of very interesting Hawaiian myths.  The belief system of native Hawaiians also figured into the plot of the book.  A lot of what was happening in the present was based upon events that had occurred in the past between the partners in a land development deal that was central to the story line.

All in all a good, enjoyable mystery.  Perfect beach read!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Blown Away: A Curl Up and Dye Mystery (Hometown Mysteries) by Nancy Mehl


  • Author:  Nancy Mehl
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc. (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160260570X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602605701


Product Description

What’s a girl to do when she hates clowns but finds out her new boyfriend moonlights as a clown and is now accused of killing another clown?

Book Description

Hilde Higgins has an unexplainable dislike of clowns. Now she’s fallen for a handsome stockbroker moonlighting as a clown at the children’s hospital, and when “Binky” Tuttwiler ends up dead, Hilde’s boyfriend suddenly becomes a murder suspect. Can Hilde solve the mystery before a Kansas twister blows all the evidence away?

About the Author

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband, Norman, and her son, Danny. She’s authored nine books and is currently at work on her newest series. All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at:

My Review

This is the second book in the Curl Up and Dye Mystery series.  I have not read the first book in the series however that had no affect on reading the second as it can easily stand alone.  It is a cozy mystery but also is Christian fiction.  It is a very readable book however it is not one of the best mysteries I've read lately.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Mimosas, Mischief, And Murder by Sara Rossett

  • Author:  Sara Rosett
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758226853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758226853


Rosett's winning sixth Ellie Avery mystery (after 2010's Mint Juleps, Mayhem, and Murder) takes amateur sleuth Ellie, husband Mitch, and their two kids to Smarr, Ala., Mitch's hometown, where they're first slammed with the news of the sudden death of Mitch's elderly grandfather, Grandpa Franklin. When someone breaks into the late gentleman's home, the police are reluctant to confirm a burglary. Even after Grandpa and casket go missing, the authorities insist there's nothing further to investigate. Complications arise after the stranger who attended Grandpa's funeral turns out to be the corpse Ellie finds in Grandpa's guest room. The strange behavior of Uncle Bud and Felicity, the wife of Mitch's favorite cousin, has Ellie considering adding relatives to her list of suspicious characters. A rumor of hidden money, secret letters from a famous recluse, a fire, a threatening message, and a crazed gunman add to the cozy mischief. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. 


Super-organized Ellie Avery thinks she's prepared for everything when she and her family set off for an extended visit with her in-laws - clothes, books, and enough games and toys to entertain two stir-crazy kids on a six-hour drive. But the one thing she hasn't planned for is cold-blooded murder...As soon as Ellie and her husband, Mitch, arrive at his parents' gracious home in Smarr, Alabama, they are shocked to learn that Mitch's Grandpa Fanklin has passed away. More shockingly, a too-quickly-closed police investigation raises more questions about Franklin's death than it answers. As the quirky, extended Avery family clan closes ranks around their own, she realizes that quite a few relatives stood to profit from Franklin's passing, and she can't help looking for motives among the mourners. When a little more sleuthing reveals Franklin's mysterious ties to a famous, reclusive local author whose writings are worth megabucks, something doesn't sit right with Ellie...and it's not just the homemade grits. As genteel Southern tradition collides with greedy and possibly murderous passions, another disturbing death confirms Ellie's suspicions. With Alabama's biggest book festival fast approaching, she sees danger brewing faster than sweet tea. Who can she trust? Looking over her shoulder for a killer who's definitely onto her, Ellie needs to act fast if she wants to save her family...and herself! 

About The Author:

Born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, Sara Rosett has always loved to curl up with a good book. The recipient of several scholarships, Sara attended Amarillo College. In 1989, she was named the Outstanding English Major. Sara completed her English degree at Texas Tech University, graduating summa cum laude .

Her marriage to an Air Force pilot has taken her to central and southern California, Texas, Washington state, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Maryland, and Virginia. Sara has worked as a credit processor, a staff reporter for two Air Force base newspapers, and a researcher and writer for the Citizen Ambassador Program of People to People International. 

After surviving ten moves as a military spouse, Sara Rosett decided to put those experiences to good use as background for her mystery series featuring military spouse Ellie Avery. The first book in the series, Moving is Murder, was a Reader's Choice Award Nominee in 2007 at the Salt Lake County Library and received a Distinguished Honor Award from the Military Writers Society of America. Sara's essays have also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul. Until her next move, Sara resides in Florida with her family.

My Review:

What a delight to settle into book six in the Ellie Avery Mystery series.  In this outing, the Avery family is off to Mitch Avery's home town for a family visit.  The quiet visit quickly diminishes when Mitch's grandfather is found dead just before their arrival.  While the family is reeling from his death, Ellie suspects that there is more than meets the eye going on.  And what is cousin-in-law Felicity up to what with sneaking into Grandpa Franklin's house and pilfering his belongings?  Ellie's desire to investigate Grandpa Franklin's death is causing friction between her and Mitch.  Mitch would rather keep family business in the family.  Of course, with murders, fires and breaks-in you cannot keep it from the police so they do become involved.  The story revolves around greed but not in the way you would think! Great writing, characters, story-telling and an interesting plot.

I just love Ellie Avery's organizing tips that are included in the book.  In this outing the tips were Ellie Avery's Tips for Preserving Family Treasures.  There are lots of helpful tips and they are located at the end of many of the chapters.  There are excellent tips on unusual ways to preserve and organize artwork such as what to do with oversize items, changing the format and creating new art from old.  There were also tips to help with genealogy which are of particular interest to me.

I absolutely recommend this wonderful cozy mystery.  Pick it up next week when it goes on sale!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Acadiana: Louisiana's Historic Cajun Country

  • Author:  Carl A. Brasseaux
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press (May 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807137235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807137239

Product Description:


''Acadiana'' summons up visions of a legendary and exotic world of moss-draped cypress, cocoa-colored bayous, subtropical wildlife, and spicy indigenous cuisine. The ancestral home of Cajuns and Creoles, this twenty-two-parish area of south Louisiana encompasses a broad range of people, places, and events. In their historical and pictorial tour of the region, author Carl A. Brasseaux and photographer Philip Gould explore in depth this fascinating and complex world.

As passionate documentarians of all things Cajun and Creole, Brasseaux and Gould delve into the topography, culture, and economy of Acadiana. In two hundred color photographs of architecture, landscapes, wildlife, and artifacts, Gould portrays the rich history still visible in the area, while Brasseaux's engagingly written narrative covers the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century story of settlement and development in the region. Brasseaux brings the story up to date, recounting devastating hurricanes and coastal degradation.

From living-history attractions such as Vermilionville, the Acadian Village, and Longfellow-Evangeline State Park to music venues, festivals, and crawfish boils, Acadiana depicts a resilient and vibrant way of life and presents a vivid portrait of a culture that continues to captivate, charm, and endure.

For all those who want to explore these people and this place, Brasseaux and Gould have provided an insightful written and visual history. 

About the Author:


A native of Acadiana, Carl A. Brasseaux is the author of more than thirty books on French North America. In June 2010, he retired as director of the Center for Louisiana Studies, director of the Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism, director of the Press, professor of history, and managing editor of Louisiana History--all at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Philip Gould is a freelance documentary/architecture photographer born in Massachusetts
and raised in California's Bay Area who has made Louisiana his home and favorite subject since 1974. His photographs have been published in over a dozen books as well as periodicals from around the world.

My Review:

What a fabulous book filled with gorgeous photographs and wonderful descriptions!  There is an introduction at the beginning to set the stage for the world of the Acadians of Southern Louisiana.  Each chapter describes a different Acadian Louisiana region.  Photos abound of the landscape both natural and man made.    Beautiful antebellum mansions, typical Cajun homes, and remnants of slave cabins populate this extraordinary landscape.  There is an interesting photo of the remains of St. Luke Baptist Church on page 54 that was built by former slaves in the 1880s then fell out of use in the 1950s and is now barely standing.  Everyone moved on as the economy of the area changed.

As a huge fan of James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series which takes places in Acadia, I particularly enjoyed Chapter 5: The Lower Prairie Region which focuses on St. Martinsville and New Iberia.  Included are photos of Bayou Teche and the region that is featured in the novels.

I highly recommend this collections of pictures, stories and information regarding one of the most fascinating regions of the United States.  It's much more than a beautiful coffee table book; it is a history of the societal changes that occurred in the Acadiana region over the past two hundred years.    It is a record of the history of this ever changing region up to the present day.

I was provided an ebook copy of this galley through Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: The Rock Hole by Reavis Z. Wortham

  • Author:  Reavis Z. Wortham
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159058886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588864

In 1964, farmer and part-time Constable Ned Parker combine forces with John Washington, the almost mythical black deputy sheriff from nearby Paris, to track down a disturbed individual who is rapidly becoming a threat to the entire small Texas community of Center Springs. 

When Ned is summoned to a hot cornfield one morning to examine the remains of a tortured bird dog, he finds a dark presence in their quiet community. A farmer by trade, Ned is usually confident when it comes to handling moonshiners, drunks and domestic disputes.  But the animal atrocities turn to murder, and the investigation spins beyond his abilities.  

After a dizzying series of twists, eccentric characters and dead-ends, the body count rises as Ned’s friend, cranky Judge O.C. Rains, is forced to contact the FBI.  Worse, sinister warnings that his family has been targeted by the killer lead Ned to the startling discovery that he knows the murderer very well. After the failed abduction of his precocious grandchildren Top and Pepper, the old lawman becomes judge and jury to end the murder spree in the Red River bottomlands.     

With a heart-pounding pace, country humor and a stunning climax, The Rock Hole speaks to the darkness in us all.  In bald-headed pot-bellied Ned Parker, Wortham has created an authentic American hero who will put you in mind of the best heroes and antiheroes you’ve ever experienced. 

The year 1964 was the end of an era in Center Springs, and the climax may well shock your civilized sensibilities.

About the Author:

As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for Center Springs.   He is the author of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. Humor editor and frequent contributor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine, he writes on everything from fishing to deer hunting. In addition to several other magazines, his work has appeared in American Cowboy and Texas Sporting Journal. A retired educator of 35 years, he and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.

My Review:

What a gem of a book!  Poisoned Pen Press has discovered a new author whose writing is a delight.  Set in 1964 on the banks of the Red River on the Texas Oklahoma border this historical mystery keeps you turning the pages.  The author, Reavis Wortham, takes the reader back to a time that was not that long ago but in many ways was.  American society has completely changed in the past fifty years.  It is a reminder to us all that fifty years ago a person of color could not enter any business that they wanted to in the American south.  There were unsaid divisions that existed in businesses, in churches, and well pretty much everywhere you can imagine.  It is against this back drop that this fully captivating novel takes place.

Our main character, Constable Ned Parker knows what is happening:  "Staring glumly at his coffee, sadness and the futility of a lawman in a changing society swamped the man who only wanted to do the right thing."  And Ned does want to always do the right thing and that is what makes him a great hero.  And his grandson Top is so lucky to have him, his grandmother Miss Becky and their extended family.  An extended family that is being hunted and haunted by a dark sinister force that is always nearby but invisible to them. I wanted to finish the book to find out what the conclusions would be but at the same time I didn't want the book to end! 

I highly recommend this refreshing novel that debuts in June.  Pre-order a's worth it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Fade To Blue: An Evan Horne Mystery by Bill Moody

  • Author:  Bill Moody
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588963

Product Description

Jazz pianist Evan Horne, settled into the San Francisco jazz scene, takes a gig in Los Angeles, where he’s offered his most unusual job yet. Mega movie star Ryan Stiles hires Evan to teach him to look like he’s playing piano for an upcoming film role. Evan stays at Stiles’ lush Malibu home for the tutoring, but suddenly things go wrong with the arrogant, spoiled star. Stiles’ adversarial   relationship with the paparazzi explodes when a photographers is killed. Was it an accident or is Stiles himself a suspect? Evan wants out, but Stiles’ manager dangles the opportunity for Evan to score the film if he stays. Stiles is cleared but when the film begins, another mysterious death occurs, and somebody is blackmailing the star. With help from his FBI girlfriend, Andie Lawrence, and Lt. Danny Cooper, Evan launches his own investigation to help clear Stiles. To further complicate things, Evan’s old nemesis, serial killer Gillian Sims escapes from prison.

About the Author

Jazz drummer Bill Moody has toured and recorded with Maynard Ferguson, Jr. Mance, Jon Hendricks, and Lou Rawls. He lives in northern California where he hosts a weekly jazz show, and is the author of a dozen short stories in various collections, and six earlier Evan Horne novels.

My Review:

What a great read!  I didn't know that I would enjoy this story as much as I did.  The writing is really captivating in that it completely held my attention.  It's a mystery story and it a look at behind the scenes in Hollywood.  The author Billy Moody takes us into the world of jazz musicians and into the world of movie making. He also explores the love/hate relationship that current celebrities have with the paparazzi. 

Evan Horne, the main character, is a decent man who is trying to establish himself as a jazz musician who keeps stumbling into mysteries and adventures.  This is actually the sixth outing for Horne but it can also be a stand alone novel.  Jazz musicians rarely become "famous" musicians and it is quite tempting when he is asked to teach a famous actor to look like he is playing the piano for a movie with the dangling carrot of scoring the movie.  Thus Evan is able to easily put up with the shenanigans of the actor, Ryan Stiles, as the possibility of creating the movie score increases as Evan helps out Ryan and his manager.  There is a side story of serial killer Gillian Sims escaping from prison but that does not really add much to story as a whole.  I don't want to give too much away but it does provide a bit of enlightening if you haven't read the previous novel in the series.  Good conclusion though somewhat expected and of course totally believable.

Highly recommend this book!  Great read!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: Scones and Bones (A Tea Shoppe Mystery) by Laura Childs

  • Author:  Laura Childs
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425238962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425238967

From Publishers Weekly

Charleston tourist notes enhance Childs's charming 12th tea-themed cozy featuring Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the city's Indigo Tea Shop (after 2010's The Teaberry Strangler). During the Heritage Society's Pirates and Plunder show, someone steals a diamond-embedded skull cup possibly fashioned from the skull of pirate Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard) right beneath the noses of Theo and Drayton Conneley, Theo's master tea blender. Even worse, the robber fatally stabs college kid Rob Commers, the society's history intern, and assaults Camilla Hodges, the society's office manager. While plucky Theo, her faithful shop employees, and CPD's Det. Burt Tidwell chase a nasty killer, Theo feels romantically torn between her boyfriend, chef Parker Scully, and an attractive newcomer, Max Scofield, a local museum's PR director. As usual, everyone finds time for abundant tea breaks. Tempting recipes include creamy dreamy parfait and lemon chess pie. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Description

Savor the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of The Teaberry Strangler.

Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is lured into attending the Heritage Society's "Pirates and Plunder" soiree. But it's an antique diamond skull ring that gets plundered by someone who murders a history intern in the process. Theodosia knows she'll have to whet her investigative skills to find the killer among a raft of suspects.

About the Author

Laura Childs, is also the author of the Scrapbooking mystery series and the Cackleberry Club mystery series. In her past life she was a Clio Award-winning advertising writer and CEO of her own marketing firm.

My Review:

It is always a delight to visit the wonderful world of Theodosia Browning and her Indigo Tea Shoppe in Charleston.  Scones and Bones is the twelfth Tea Shoppe Mystery in this wonderful culinary cozy series by Laura Childs.  Our heroine, Theodosia always stumbles onto a mystery and this time there are pirates, buried treasures, ancient skull cups and secret societies thrown into the mix.  Of course, Indigo Tea Shoppe's resident tea expert Drayton Conneley is beside Theo throughout her adventures.  The other characters who fill out Theo's circle are the tea shoppe's chef/baker Haley, Detective Tidwell and her very crazy demanding friend Delaine Dish and her sister Nadine.  Besides the pirate murder mystery there is romance as Theo adds a new man into the mix. Our heroine is torn between old love Parker Scully, who is not being very attentive, and new man Max Scofield who is the museum's Public Relations Director.  This is a wonderfully fun romp through Charleston and the surrounding countryside.  Each Tea Shoppe Mystery convinces me more and more to visit Charleston as soon as I can!  You need not have read the entire series as this book can easily be a stand alone. 

As always, Ms. Childs has included some intriguing recipes at the end of the book.  I cannot wait to try out the Lemon Scones as well as the Tomato and Basil Dip.  She also includes Tea Time Tips and Tea Resources.  There is also a preview of Laura Childs' next Scapbooking Mystery, Skeleton Letters at the very end.

I highly recommend Scones and Bones as well as all of Laura Childs books in the Tea Shoppe Mysteries, the Scrapbooking Mysteries and Cackleberry Club Mysteries.  I am looking forward to Theodosia's next Tea Shoppe Mystery, The Agony of the Leaves.

I was generously provided with a copy of Scones and Bones by the author for the review purposes.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Deep Trouble by Mary Connealy

  • Author:   Mary Connealy
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602601496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602601499

Product Description


Get ready for a Grand Canyon tour de force by award-winning author Mary Connealy. Gabe Lasley and Shannon Dysart are an unlikely pair. He’s an aimless wanderer who wants nothing other than to be left alone. She’s a fearless female determined to find a city of gold. When they are forced together the mayhem begins. As they set out to find the treasure, trouble is hot on their trail. Will the dream of gold color every decision Shannon makes? Will Gabe fail yet another helpless female in his life?  

Book Description


Drifter Gabe Lansley finds himself the rescuer of a treasure hunter obsessed with finding a city of gold in the Grand Canyon. Shannon Dysart is on a quest to prove her father’s research is factual. Can they avoid villains who are after her map and find love along the way?

About the Author


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award winner. She is the author of the Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, the Montana Marriage Trilogy, and the Sophie's Daughters Series. 

Mary lives on a Nebraska ranch with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters: Joslyn (married to Matt), Wendy, Shelly (married to Aaron), and Katy. And she is the grandmother of two beautiful grandchildren. 

You can find her online at these sites:,,, and Mary loves to hear from her readers. Write to her at

My Review:

It's a bit of a historical mystery, a bit of a western, a bit of a romance novel, it's quirky and funny and it's a novel of faith.  I cannot say that I have read a novel similar to this before.  I enjoyed the setting as I have always loved the four corners area.  The author Mary Connealy is obviously as impressed with the majesty of the Grand Canyon as much as I am.  It was not a complicated story but it was an enjoyable, light read.  I found the characters to be somewhat frivolous and unrealistic at times.  Gabe Lasley and Shannon Dysart are a stereotypical mismatched couple who of course find love as well as the true meaning of everything at the end.

You can search for earthly things like gold, but the real treasure is finding everlasting salvation with our heavenly Father. A good light read to pass away the hours.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: Women of the Bible: Illustrated Bible Handbook Series: A Visual Guide to Their Lives, Loves and Legacy

  • Authors:  Carol Smith, Ellyn Sanna and Rachael Phillips
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602606501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602606500

Product Description


They didn’t get as much ink—but they contributed amazing things to the history of God’s people. Learn all about them in Women of the Bible, a brand-new, illustrated reference book from Barbour Publishing. Covering women’s roles and jobs, daily experiences, and interactions with Bible men, this book brings clarity to some of the strange, confusing, and forgotten stories of scripture. Also featuring lists of every named woman of scripture and most of the unnamed females, Women of the Bible is fully illustrated in color. It’s “readable reference,” equally helpful for study or pleasure. 

From the Back Cover

They didn’t get as much ink—
but the women of the Bible
contributed amazing things to human history.

This fully-illustrated reference brings the often mysterious world of Bible women into clearer focus for 21st century readers. How did these women survive—and move ahead—in their male-dominated societies? What issues did they have in common with women of today? Why was Jesus’ treatment of women so unusual for His time and culture?
                In clear, readable text, you’ll learn more about biblical women’s

    Roles and Jobs Daily Experiences Interactions with Men Relationships with Other Women Health and Beauty Concerns Childbearing, Marriage, Aging Issues, and More
    Complete with lists of all the named and most of the unnamed women of the Bible, this book provides insights into the achievements—both positive and negative—of females from the dawn of time to the first century of the Christian church. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a world very different from, yet in many ways similar to, ours today.

 My Review:

What a great biblical reference book.  The first chapter describes all facets of early Christian life. It is appropriately called Women in Bible Times.  There are plenty of relevant illustrations including many photos of works of art.  There is a discussion regarding global context of the events taking place in biblical times.  This book agrees with what I have always thought which is that Jesus' treatment of women was quite revolutionary at the time in that he had female students, he accepted women as friends and ministry supporters, and he ignored ritual impurity laws to help a woman of faith (p. 45).  It discusses the relationships between women, slave women and free women, sisters, mothers and daughters and plural wives.  The book explores the customs of the times.  One point that I really only understood recently which this book examines on page 72 is the importance of the cup of wine in the betrothal of a couple and how that is related to Jesus' utilization of the cup in the Last Supper and the bride as a symbol of the church (p. 76).  The twelve steps of an ancient Jewish marriage are listed which is very enlightening. And their is a fascinating discussion in regard to mourning and women's role in mourning.

Daily experiences in the bible are explored next, then women's jobs and roles.  Every point made in this book is supported by biblical passages.  Evil Old Testament Queens, everyday heroines, and mothers who made a difference, the women of the bible are divided into very interesting sections.   I like Nobodies: Unnamed Women of Faith and Action. Some women are symbolic women.  The women in Jesus' parables are discussed. 

The women of the bible and their interactions with men is discussed.  Beginning with the Garden of Eden to Christ's interactions with women, all of their interactions are discussed.  Their is a good depiction of the word submit when referring to women submitting to their husbands.

There is a glossary/index of the named women of the bible of which there are 166 listed.  There is also an index of the unnamed women of the bible.  There is a scripture index included at the end.

Great layout and easy to read.  I highly recommend this book and plan on ordering a copy for myself.

I received an ebook review copy through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Cooking from the Garden: Best Recipes from Kitchen Gardener

  • Author:  Ruth Lively
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781600852473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600852473

Product Description

Rising food prices, the slow food movement, and the green movement have revived interest in finding delicious food close to home. The backyard vegetable garden is making a comeback even in urban areas. Why grow grass (that you have to mow) when you can pick the best tasting tomatoes right outside your door? Taunton’s Kitchen Gardener magazine was ahead of its time in trying to raise the bar on food prepared with home-grown food. The recipes collected here are innovative and tasty, and most are relatively simple to prepare. Not only do they help home gardeners find ways to make use of abundance, they show how to do it with style and expertise. The recipes apply equally to good seasonal buys in the supermarket or farmer’s market as to produce from a home garden.

Book Description

The vegetable garden is back – thanks to renewed interest in living green, rising food prices, and a desire to eat tasty, healthful food grown close to home. Eating fresh unprocessed food has universal appeal. Farmers’ markets, community gardens, and the availability of heirloom seeds and organic vegetable plants have more gardeners than ever digging up recipes for delicious, down-to-earth dishes. More than 200 recipes, culled from the pages of Taunton’s Kitchen Gardener magazine, will delight growers and home cooks everywhere. The dishes included here are innovative and easy to prepare. They range from starters, sauces, and snacks to main dishes and desserts. Even seasonal recipe menus have been included for good measure! Anyone who loves fresh produce will reap ideas on how to make use of abundant yields and take advantage of seasonal buys at the market.

About the Author

 Ruth Lively, a long-time garden writer, was trained at the LaVarenne culinary school in France. A former editor of Fine Gardening, Lively was also one of the founding editors of Fine Cooking and Kitchen Gardener.

My Review:

The recipes in this cookbook are all taken from the magazine: Kitchen Gardener.  One of my favorite things about cookbooks are the pictures of the recipes and this book does not have any!  There are some good recipes though particularly in Chapter 3:  Sauces, Salsas and Vinaigrettes.  There are recipes for Thyme Mayonnaise, Aoili, Red Wine Vinaigrette, and a delicious Tomato Sauce as well as a homemade Ketchup.  There are of course plenty of great salad recipes.  There is a section on preserving as well as section on using the recipes seasonally.  I am not the world's biggest fan of vegetables so probably not the best cookbook for me.  This would be a great resource for vegans!

Review: Heartland: The Cookbook

  • Author:  Judith Fertig
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449400574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449400576

Product Description

Although much of the nation is only beginning to embrace the farm-to-table movement, residents of the Midwest have been living off the bounty of the land since the pioneer days. Judith Fertig's Heartland melds contemporary cooking with an authentic and appreciative approach to the land, presenting 150 recipes for farm-bounty fare with a modern twist. With a focus on ethnic food traditions as well as seasonal and local flavors of artisan producers, heirloom ingredients, and heritage meats, Heartland embraces the spirit and flavors of the modern farmhouse. Inside, offerings such as Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blackberry Syrup, No-Knead Caraway Rye Bread, and Brew Pub Planked Cheeses comingle with recipes such as Wild Rice Soup with Flyover Duck Confit, Heartland Daube with White Cheddar Polenta, and Italian Fig Cookies.In addition to the mouthwatering recipes and time-proven wisdom, Heartland includes an ample mix of humorous storytelling, literary and cooking references, and lush full-color landscape and food photography that showcases the heart of American cooking from the nation's heartland.

About the Author

Judith Fertig is a food lifestyle writer and cookbook author. She has written for Bon Appetit, Food ∧ Wine, Saveur, Vegetarian Times, and the New York Times. Her previous books include Prairie Home Cooking and Prairie Home Breads, as well as six BBQ titles she coauthored with Karen Adler. She resides in Overland Park, Kansas.

Root Beer Funnel Cakes


At Lb. Brewing Company/Gella's Diner in Hayes, Kansas, my eye was drawn to a root beer funnel cake on their menu. How fun! When I got home, I began to experiment with the recipe and found that the best flavor combination is bottled root beer in the batter and root beer extract in the glaze. This is not a recipe to serve a crowd at home--despite the funnel cake's popularity at county fairs--as you can only fry one at a time. You can find root beer extract at cake decorating shops. Yields 4 medium funnel cakes

For the funnel cakes
Vegetable oil, for frying
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup root beer
For the glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. root beer extract
1 Tbs. half-and-half or whole milk
Fresh berries of your choice, for garnish

Make the funnel cakes:
In a large, deep skillet, pour in enough vegetable oil to reach 1 inch. Heat to 375°F over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk the egg and root beer together in a cup, then whisk this mixture into the dry ingredients until smooth.
When the oil has reached the correct temperature, hold your finger over the bottom of a large kitchen funnel with a 1/2-inch diameter spout and pour ¾ cup batter into the funnel. Hold the funnel over the center of the skillet, remove your finger, and with a circular motion starting from a center point, let the batter create either a tight or freeform spiral in the hot oil. Fry until the funnel cake is light brown on one side, then carefully flip with a pancake turner and fry on the other side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Let the oil come back to the correct temperature and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Glaze the funnel cakes Whisk the confectioners' sugar, root beer extract, and half-and-half together in a small bowl. Drizzle over each funnel cake, then dust with more confectioners' sugar and garnish with fresh berries.

Reproduced from:

My Review:

Beautiful cookbook that goes on sale in April.  Wonderful down home country cooking recipes.  Magnificent photos grace the pages.  Great innovative and original recipes such as Badlands Bison Chili.  Lots of recipes featuring Wisconsin cheese and fresh lake fish.   Just love Chapter 6: Blue Plate Specials with recipes such as Smoke-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Sooey Sauce!  Lots of interesting tidbits such Heartland Beef Cattle Breeds.  There is a listing of old fashioned root beer sources.  At the end of the book there is a reference list with websites of the different resource sources.  Very handy!

Great cookbook to add to your Cookbook Collection!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: A Triple Threat Novel: Heart of Ice

  • Author:  Lis Wiehl and April Henry
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159554707X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595547071

The Triple Threat Club novels follow three fiercely intelligent women—a TV reporter, a Federal prosecutor and an FBI agent—as they investigate crimes as current as today’s headlines.

The Triple Threat women have faced intense situations before…but never such a cunningly cold-blooded murderer.

Elizabeth Avery is a stunningly beautiful woman. But her perfectly managed exterior hides the ice cold heart of a killer.  She ingeniously manipulates everyone who crosses her path to do exactly as she wishes--from crime reporter Cassidy Shaw, who thinks Elizabeth is her new best friend, to a shy young man Elizabeth persuades to kill for her.  

As Elizabeth leaves a trail of bodies in her wake, Federal prosecuter Allison Pierce and FBI agent Nicole Hedges must piece together clues from seemingly unrelated crimes. Can they stop her before she reaches her unthinkable, ultimate end-game?

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of James Patterson's Women's Murder Club books will find the same friendly crime-solving vibe in Wiehl and Henry's appealing third Triple Threat novel (after Hand of Fate) featuring federal prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI special agent Nicole Hedges, and Portland, Ore., TV crime reporter Cassidy Shaw. At the Portland Fitness Center, Cassidy joins the boot camp class run by the beautiful instructor Elizabeth Avery, unaware that Elizabeth served time in a juvenile facility for two horrific crimes committed at age 13 when she was known as Sissy Hewsom. The icy sociopath has already had her fellow former inmate, firebug Joey Decicco, burn down the home of Sara McCloud, her gorgeous lawyer boyfriend's money-grubbing ex-wife, and Elizabeth now wants Sara and Sara's small son, Noah, dead. The authors smoothly bring together the various story lines, including a sharp subplot centered on Nic's breast cancer diagnosis. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. 

My Review:

I was provided an ebook galley by Thomas Nelson through Net Galley.

I really did feel like I was reading a Woman's Murder Club mystery while I was reading Heart of Ice.  The trio of women sleuths call themselves the Triple Threat Club and they have similar occupations.  The only difference really was the thread of faith running through it.  This is the third outing for Cassidy the tv newsreporter, Nicole the FBI Agent and Allison a Federal Prosecutor.  I had not read the two earlier books but that did not seem to make a difference.  The heart of ice belongs to our psychopathic murder Elizabeth "Sissy" Avery who we know is the murderer from the start.

I loved the Portland settings as it is one of my favorite cities.  Heart of Ice was a good read with a plausible storyline and I enjoyed the main characters.  I have not read a lot of Christian fiction and it was inspiring to have so much referral to prayer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: A Time With God For Mothers

  • Author:  Jack Countryman
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1404189513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1404189515

From the Publisher Thomas Nelson's Website:

A Scripture-led devotion to encourage time between mothers and the Lord.

Time with God for Mothers contains ninety devotions that encourage mothers to spend time on their relationship with the Lord in prayer, thanksgiving, and praise.  Devotions are topical and include: forgiveness, wisdom, comfort, guidance, and strength.  A Quick Scripture Reference Guide is included to help mothers in their day-to-day walk with God and motherhood.  Subjects consist of "Mother's Prayers", "God's Promises for Mothers", "God's Blessings for Mothers", "Responsibilities for Mothers", and "God's Dynamic Examples of Mothers".

My Review:
What a beautiful book to consider giving to your Mother for Mother's Day or for any other occasion.  The devotional is beautifully decorated with illustrations of jewelery created by Elly Preston of The Purple Door.  
Each beautifully decorated page contains a bible verse and devotional for mothers.  There is a scripture reference guide near the end regarding mother's prayers in the bible, the responsibilities of motherhood and the promises of motherhood.   Included are note pages at the end for writing your notes or prayer requests.  This book is available in April. 

I was provided an ebook galley of this book by Thomas Nelson through Net Galley for the purposes of this review.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Letters From Home by Kristina McMorris

  • Author:  Kristina McMorris
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758246846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758246844

    Product Description:


    Liz Stephen's life changes when she meets infantryman Morgan McClain at a Chicago USO club. Liz has long expected to marry her childhood friend, Dalton, yet her instant attraction to Morgan is mutual. But when she misinterprets Morgan's chivalrous rescue of her friend Betty, she flees without explanation. When Betty begins corresponding with Morgan, she asks for Liz's help. Soon, Morgan and Liz, under Betty's alias, are exchanging soul-baring letters. Betty, serving in the Woman's Army Corps, finds unexpected romance of her own, as does Liz's engaged best friend Julia. But as the war ends, each woman faces the repercussions of her choices. Inspired by the true story of her grandparents' epistolary courtship during World War II, Kristina McMorris captures the heartache and sacrifice of love and war in a story that is timeless, tender, and unforgettably moving.

    From the Author:


    It all started with a family Christmas gift. That was my sole intent, anyhow, when I self-published a cookbook several years ago featuring recipes my grandmother had collected and created over several decades. While interviewing Grandma Jean for the biographical chapter, I discovered an astounding fact: She and my late grandfather had dated merely twice during World War II before exchanging vows. She then retrieved from her closet a beautiful stack of courtship letters, a collection no one in the family knew existed. I needed to read only a few pages of his script, as elegant as his words despite the "plow jockey's" youth, to understand the reason she so readily said, "I do."

    Long after the cookbook was complete, I continued to ponder their era, one charged with romance, tragedy, uncertainty, and loss of innocence. A time of self-discovery, sacrifice, and female independence. Intrigued by this dramatic setting, and with my grandfather's correspondence lingering in my mind, I found myself wondering how different the couple's relationship would have been had their letters been woven with fibers of deception. Therein bloomed the idea for my first novel, Letters from Home. I hope the book touches your heart as much as my grandpa's letters have touched mine!

    My Review:

    What a joy to read!

    Wonderfully delightful book!  Gripping story right from the start!  The tears were flowing in many parts.  Kristina McMorris's style of writing is so graceful and so powerful and is such a pleasure to read.  I had not read an historical fiction novel in quite a while and I had forgotten how enjoyable they can be! 

    The main story revolves around letters that are exchanged between soldier Morgan McClain and Betty, a beautiful USO singer.  The main twist is that he is actually not writing to Betty but to her roommate Liz.  He had actually met Liz at the dance and there was a strong connection between them but fate intervened as you will see when you read the story.  It is Liz's words that he falls in love with while overseas and her opening up her heart to him through the letters that propel the story forward and provide the potential for disaster once he realizes that he is not writing to Betty.

    The three women, Liz, Betty and Julia, who inhabit these pages are all different yet incredibly interesting unique individuals.  While this book is a love story it is also a touching story about the friendships between women. Liz, Betty and Julia are all very different women following different paths.  All three women find joy and heartbreak in this novel and I felt every emotion right along with them!  I felt that McMorris' portrayal of a soldier's life on the western front and the Pacific front to be incredibly realistic and true to history.  I found the same for her portrayal of life on the home front. 

    This book is one of the must read books of the year that everyone will be talking about.  You'll laugh and you'll cry!   Highly recommend this book!

    Kristina provides recipes and a discussion guide for reading groups at the conclusion of the novel.

    You can find the reader's discussion guide here:

    I was provided with an Advance Uncorrected Proof of Letter From Home directly from the author.